Disclaimer: Sailor Moon never was and never will be mine, alas!

Summary: It's frightening, how easy it is to let happily ever after fall to the wayside, until there are only remnants of a once beautiful relationship left.

Despite what destiny promised Usagi and Mamoru, the trials and unforeseen costs of domestic life soon prove to be too much for the young couple. One particularly violent night, a wounded Usagi flees the abusive situation with their three-year-old daughter. An attempted hitchhike brings Seiya to her aid, but can she ever learn to trust in the power of love again?


IMPORTANT! READ THIS FIRST: As most of you know, I'm a diehard Usagi/Mamoru fan. I don't actually ship Usagi/Seiya, but as a writer I like to experiment; to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. Getting into a character's head; discerning their motivations, desires, and fears- it helps me to improve. That said, this is not a pleasant story. Domestic abuse is no light matter. It can scar people for the rest of their lives, something you will see me explore with Usagi's character throughout the story.

I will also warn everyone right now, Mamoru is severely OOC.

I don't expect to get many readers, and I completely understand why. So don't feel bad if you start this and realize it's just not up your alley.

And please, no bashing. That's why I'm warning you NOW, because when I first started posting this story I got a lot of mixed reviews, and some were rather rude. I know what I'm doing, guys ;p


Love Hurts

Part 1: "The Broken Home"


The sound of breaking glass resonated throughout the small kitchen, accompanied by a tiny gasp that was quickly overshadowed by a terrible roar.

"Dammit, Usagi!"

The aforementioned woman flinched. It was a knife to the heart to hear her name spat out like a heinous swear. She longed for the days of 'Usako', but that was an affectionate moniker of the past.

"I'm sorry, I'm s-"

SLAP!

"Liar."

The twenty-one year old blonde winced, clutching her stinging cheek as she cowered in front of her towering husband. "Please, Mamo-chan-"

"I thought I told you to stop calling me that," Mamoru growled, moving to shake her arm roughly. "Or can you not get it through your thick head?"

He shoved her roughly from him and sent Usagi sprawling to the floor, into the seemingly thousands of shards glittering below. She cried out as they dug into her skin, wanting to seek safety but feeling paralyzed by her husband's fury-laden gaze.

"Useless," Mamoru spat. "Clumsy and useless, that's what you are. Why the hell did you break the vase? You knew it was my mother's. You knew it was the only thing of hers I had left!"

"It was an accident, M-Ma... Mamoru," Usagi pleaded desperately, voice barely above a whisper as she trembled in fear. "I burned my hand on the stove and-and it surprised m-me... I d-didn't mean to jump back and hit the vase, honest to-"

"Shut up. Just shut up," he cut in with a hiss, clutching at his temple as if her very words pained him. The man raked a hand through his messy black locks. "I'm so goddamn tired of your excuses, all the time, that's all that ever comes out of your mouth- 'I didn't mean to'. 'It's not my fault'. Well I'm fucking sick of excuses! We've been at this nearly four years now; any normal wife would have- ugh. I... I need a drink. That mess better be gone by the time I get back, Usagi."

A last disparaging look over Usagi and the remains of his mother's vase, and Mamoru was out the door. It wasn't until Usagi heard the car pull out of the driveway that she could finally breathe again. Still shaking, the woman bearing odango pulled herself up and stumbled over to the sink. She shoved her arms under cold water, washing away the blood from her cuts before deciding to splash some liquid onto her face as well, for good measure. She hated her tears; they were a sign of weakness she could not afford. Usagi would gladly take scars any day over breaking down in front of Mamoru; at least theywere easily hidden.

You could hide just about anything with the right amount of cover-up.

And lately, Usagi had become an expert on the application.

The girl sighed, mind drifting as she sponged away at her injured flesh. Mamoru. The man her future rested upon; the savior of roses in whose eyes laid the promise of happily ever after... according to destiny. What a bitch; what a liar. Had destiny foreseen the bills they couldn't pay? The rising mortgage? The expense of raising a child? The arguments that had started- so innocently at first- but had over time escalated into abuse, made worse by Mamoru's recent penchant for drinking away all his problems?

And the most worrying of all... Why couldn't she transform anymore? Why couldn't any of the Senshi?

My friends... Usagi thought, with a jolt of sad longing. After ChibiUsa's birth three years ago- whereabouts her and Mamoru's problems started manifesting themselves- the Senshi wandered off down their own separate career paths. It was about this time that transforming had failed, but instead of seeing this as a warning, most of the girls welcomed the change. They took it be fate's permission to finally let loose and follow their dreams. Peace at last, they'd proclaimed.

Makoto had risen to top chef in Japan and was currently studying in France among the most well-known of food connoisseurs. It was her dream to one day open her own restaurant franchise. Minako on the other hand, had decided to finally make use of her dramatic flair. She was in America enjoying a life of relative stardom, and given her recent debut in the musical and acting worlds, the effervescent blonde had just about as much time for Japan as Ami did. The aforementioned blue-haired erudite was away in Germany, majoring in the medical field and halfway to fufilling her dream of becoming a pediatricien. Rei, the closest to Usagi, was also finding it hard to keep in contact. The duties of running the shrine, now that her Grampa had passed away, was a daily job. There were customers to attend to, prayers to be said, and always chores to finish.

Even Usagi was busy, deep into the role of motherhood.

A phone call here, an email there... it had been nearly a year since Usagi had seen any of them. It hurt; festered like the angry wounds upon her arm, this distance. Without the need for Sailor Senshi to protect the city, the five were free to live out their lives. All but Usagi, who felt herself suffocating under the burden following her supposed "destiny" had wrought. She may not have been out fighting youma, but she was fighting. Fighting to survive each day, one day at a time.

And her friends didn't know.

And never will, Usagi thought firmly, pulling out her now thoroughly numb arm and wrapping it in a towel. They'd call me weak; a coward. Saves the world a million times over, but can't save her own skin... It was not just a matter of pride, but of safety as well. If Mamoru ever found out she had confided in her friends-

Usagi shivered. No. She had to protect ChibiUsa and herself from his wrath, at all costs. It didn't matter so much if he hurt her, but ChibiUsa... perhaps it was only sheer dumb luck with a side of miracle that he had never touched the three year old. But as Usagi knew from experience, luck was a flighty being. Just when one became too complacent, it made a disappearing act.

The former superheroine turned to face the scene of the wreckage. She pursed her lips at the umpteen shards of glass she had been ordered to clean up. A hopelessness settled over Usagi, and her figure seemed to deflate. This would take forever, to pick everything up. And it had been such a pretty vase, too, but repairing the understandably priceless belonging would be next to impossible.

How ironic, that these little pieces could also symbolize her life; their marriage. In the beginning it too had been beautiful: All they'd ever wanted and a love that had weathered it all.

Love. Usagi snorted. What a fool's dream. Love hurt.

This was what love had come to; what their marriage had come to: a broken vase. In a broken home. And now Usagi set about trying futilely to pick up all the pieces.

oOo

A near hour later, after toiling away on her hands and knees while adding on to the crimson design splattering her skin, Usagi was done. She stretched her back, letting the stiff muscles pop satisfyingly. A glance out the dark window informed her it had grown late. Mamoru would be back soon.

She tried not to let fear enter her system again, however ineffective the attempt. A drunk Mamoru was the scariest of his seemingly multiple characters. Do something; occupy your mind. That always helped.

ChibiUsa.

Usagi smiled at the thought of her daughter. Perhaps... not all love hurt. Maternal love- now that was a beautiful thing; an emotion far from dangerous. She could let herself become engrossed in that feeling and not fear rejection, pain, heartache. Sometimes it seemed ChibiUsa was the only thing keeping Usagi tethered to life; to sanity.

She crossed the threshold into the hall and tiptoed gently up the staircase. Already, the sign on the door straight above beckoned her.

ChibiUsa, it read in fading stencil. One of many gifts from the girls on the occasion of her birth.

Usagi vaulted the last stair quietly and reached out to push open the door. She winced at the creak, peeking in to make sure the noise hadn't interrupted the child's slumber. Delicately painted white bunnies traipsed happily across the pink walls, looking down on a lone crib in the center of the room. Nothing had changed since the proud parents first brought their newborn daughter home three years previous. Inching over to it, Usagi peered down and beamed in at sleeping ChibiUsa. Even unconscious, her ruby lips puckered like a small baby's and her fingers twitched around a ragged bunny. It was the only toy Mamoru had let her keep.

Usagi frowned. Her daughter was a growing girl; she needed entertainment and deserved even the basic luxury of a normal bed.

The girl was too big for the crib now, fitting only just barely, but that argument had been fought and lost long ago. In Mamoru's words, "Even a bed costs more than enough money than we can afford to lose". He neglected to mention the fact that he himself wasted dollar upon dollar on his recent bar-hopping habits. And Usagi had wisely decided not to bring it up.

"Oh my little angel," she sighed, stroking the child's cotton candy-colored crown. "Someday we'll leave this place; I promise."

Really? Then why haven't you left yet? the annoying little voice Usagi supposed was her conscience asked, quite snidely.

I can't! Usagi responded. She needs food and shelter and money... I can't afford that without Mamoru! Being a housewife earns no pay...

Don't make excuses for yourself. That's not the only reason you stay. You still love him.

I don't! Usagi yelled fiercely. I... don't...

But she couldn't lie, not to herself.

Despite all that had happened; all the abuse... she still loved Mamoru. Still saw the tuxedo-clad warrior who'd saved her too many times to count; the one who swore her undying love and gave her her daughter...

Oh, she loved him. She loved the man he had once been; the man she sometimes caught a glimpse of, on their rare good days.

But love was dangerous, because love hurt.

TBC