Friends or Folly?
By: Elizabeth Dunn
Rating: PG for mild language
Author's notes: Hi! This is my first Sailor Moon story. This came out of both my watching the show and seeing how everyone treated Serena, and my own life experiences. It gets pretty depressing, so be careful. I know some people prefer the Japanese names, but I've only seen the dubbed version, so I'm using those names. Sorry to those who prefer the others. Any feedback (good, bad, even flames-I'm an experienced fanfic writer) can be sent to Starry_Night_98@hotmail.com

**********

Serena sat in the park, staring at the sky. Anyone who looked at her would've thought that she was a beautiful girl with every reason to be happy. However, those people didn't see her eyes. They spoke of an unhappiness that was soul-deep, a sadness too deep for tears.

Amy walked into the park on her way home, when she spotted Serena lying on the grass in a small clearing. She changed her path to go talk to her, when Serena, unaware that anyone else was about, began to speak. Amy stopped to listen, not prepared for what she'd hear.

Serena sighed. "I don't know what's gone wrong," she said to the sky. "I mean, they say they're my friends, but sometimes actions speak louder than words, and their actions are telling me a whole different story."

Amy gasped at hearing this. Surely Serena was exaggerating like usual?

Serena continued her litany. "I can't seem to please them. If I'm a ditz, they yell and complain, and when I get serious about something, they just make fun of me. They never seem to be happy. And why should I be trying to make them happy? I feel as if I can't be my own person around them without being censured. They don't know how much I keep on the inside, because I know that if I let it out, all they'll do is tease me and make my life even more miserable."

Tears began to fall from Amy's eyes. Suddenly, she was seeing a whole new side of Serena; a side that she never even knew had existed. She was struck with an urge to run away, but she decided to stay and hear what was really on Serena's mind and heart.

After a few minutes of silence, Serena began to speak again, this time addressing the grass, as she has rolled over onto her stomach. "I feel it from all of them, their anger, annoyance...and pity. All they see is a meatball-headed klutz. Have they ever tried to see the real me? I just don't know. I feel inferior to all of them; they make me feel inferior to the point where I actually believe it. That had to be the worst thing-my not even being able to fully believe in myself anymore.

"I mean, look at Amy." Amy started at the mention of her name. "She's so smart, and I love her for that. I love her for having the strength I don't-the strength to keep being herself." Amy was shocked. Did Serena really see her that way? "She has the courage to keep going despite all obstacles. But, she can't see past her perceptions sometimes. She had me pegged as a whiny, dumb brat the moment we met, and nothing I can say or do will change that. Every time I realize my limitations, I try to go to her for help. And what does she do? She brushes me away, sure that I can't be serious. What, Serena the ditz be serious about anything? Impossible." She sighed. "But it is possible. I'm just never given the chance to prove myself."

"Raye is worse, though. She doesn't even try to be polite about it, like the others do. Instead she shouts insults until I am insulting her right back, which just reinforces their opinion about me. Has anyone ever noticed how *she's* the one who starts everything? No, because Raye is stately, composed, beautiful. All the things I'm not. Of everyone, I think she hates me, really hates me. Maybe it's because I have Darien. Maybe it's because it was my destiny to be leader and not hers. Does she ever think that maybe I don't *want* this destiny? That sometimes I'd gladly hand it over just because I'm tired of taking all this shit from everyone? Of course not. And doesn't she realize that I never wanted to hurt her when it came to Darien? That I asked her many times if she minded, if she'd rather have him, if I should just leave him be? No. I think she'd rather think I'm a selfish brat."

Amy was silently crying now. She realized how true Serena's words were. None of them had ever given her a chance. They had just sat safe in the middle of their own snap judgments. Amy sighed. The least she could do now was hear Serena out and try to change.

Serena flipped onto her back again. "I don't even know what to think about Lita and Mina. They can go either way. But one thing's for certain-whenever they do something that even smacks of being a ditz, no one cares. If it was me, though, I never hear the end of it. And they seem to think it's their right to lecture me whenever I slip up-as if they never do anything wrong. Like none of them never do anything wrong."

Meanwhile, Luna had come into the park looking for Serena. Spotting Amy, she went over and asked, "Amy, have you seen Serena? She's-" Amy grabbed Luna and cut her off. "Shush. Listen." Luna turned her head and spotted Serena in the middle of a small clearing. She listened.

"Luna's worse than all of them put together. She expects me to be perfect all the time. Well, I don't care if I am Sailor Moon, if I'm the Moon Princess, I'm human too, and that automatically means I'm *not* perfect! I'm sorry if I can't be perfect, the Moon knows I'd like to be, but it will never happen. It's human nature not to be. The best I can do is struggle along and be true to myself, except that I can't even do *that* because if I can't show my true self. Alone out here is the only place I can be truly *me*. I sure can't be myself around *them*--they'd only make me feel worse. Even Darien. Oh, I know he loves me, but I know he still sees me as a silly child. They all do. I bet they think a deep thought never runs through this blonde, meatball-head of mine. Well, if they could hear me now, they'd be surprised. Except they never will, because this is all that's keeping me sane. God help me if they find out what's really going in my head, my heart, my soul, because I know they'd reject it, just like they reject the rest of me, in so many ways, every single day of my life."

Serena stood, and for the first time, Amy and Luna got a clear look at Serena's face. They gasped at the heartbreak in the eyes, the frown on the customarily smiling face. Serena took a deep breath, and reached deep inside of her, looking for the one place where she was still happy. Concentrating, she brought that out to her face. Soon she was the familiar, happy-looking Serena, with the sadness still in her eyes, but buried so deep that it could only be seen if you were looking for it. And, of course, no one ever did, because what reason was there for Serena to be truly unhappy. She looked around at the clearing. "This, right here, is me," she whispered, then she walked away.

Luna looked at Amy sadly. "I never knew," she said. "I'm her guardian, the one who's supposed to know her best, and I never knew."

"None of us did, Luna. And why should we? She's right, we have been awful to her. Awful, and still expecting her friendship all the same."

Luna sighed. "She has a forgiving heart. But there will come a time where there will be one comment too many, and she will turn hard. Everyone has a breaking point."

"Is she there yet?"

"How can we know? Who knows how long this has been building inside her."

Amy sat, thinking. Then, "Luna, you know what we have to do."

"Round up the other scouts. Have them meet us at the temple. I think we all need to have look deeper into ourselves."

Amy nodded. She pulled out her communicator and summoned everyone, except Serena, to a special meeting. Luna watched her. She just hoped it wasn't too late...for any of them.

**********

Raye, Lita, Mina, and Amy were sitting on the temple steps an hour later, along with Luna and Artemis. Raye looked impatient, and finally said, "Where is that meatball-head anyway? She's always late!" The others, except for Amy and Luna, chorused in agreement.

Amy couldn't take it anymore. "Stop it!" she shouted. Everyone flinched. They had never heard Amy yell so loudly.

"What's the matter with you, Amy?" asked Mina worriedly.

"Serena isn't late."

"Sure she is," growled Raye. "She was supposed to be here five minutes ago."

"No she wasn't, because I didn't tell her."

"Amy, what?" Lita looked as confused as everyone else did. "Why are we meeting without her?"

"Probably so we'll get something accomplished," said Artemis, which earned him a swat in the head from Luna. "Hey! What was that for?"

"That," Luna growled, "is for supporting Serena's opinion of herself and everyone around her!"

"What do you mean, Luna?" asked Mina, the only one at that point that still had a cool head.

"Should you tell them, or should I?" Luna asked Amy, who was sitting slightly apart from the group shaking her head.

"I'll tell them. I was there for it all."

"All of what?" Raye was beginning to lose her patience.

"Settle down and I'll tell you." Everyone gathered around Amy. "What do you think of Serena?" she asked. Everyone stared at her. "No, just tell me."

"She's a ditz," said Lita.

"Completely irresponsible," chimed in Artemis.

"She's always late," Mina said.

"She's a meatball-headed, whiny, irritating, *baby*," said Raye, rolling her eyes. "What's with this anyway?"

"I notice," said Luna, "that no one mentioned what a good heart she has."

"Or," added Amy, "how she's always there for us, even when we're not there for her."

"Or her sense of humor."

"Right, Luna! Don't forget her way of making everyone loved."

"Quite right, Amy. And how about-"

"Hold it! What is this?" asked Raye. "Yeah, we know she's sweet and all that, but, honestly-"

"No, you hold it Raye," spat Amy, anger in her voice. "You don't know *anything*."

"And you do?" Mina asked, sounding slightly surprised and slightly skeptical.

"*We* do," chimed in Luna. "We know something that none of you know, that we didn't even know until today."

"What's that?" asked Lita. She sounded concerned.

"Well, I was walking through the park earlier today...." Amy told them all about what she, and later Luna, had witnessed. About how they had seen a whole new side of Serena-her real self.

"Boy," said Mina, when Amy had finished. "I never knew."

"We should've," Raye spoke up. "We should've seen it. It was right there for us to see and we didn't."

"What do you mean?" asked Lita. She was still trying to process this information.

"I know what she means," chorused Amy and Luna. Amy blushed. "Go on, Luna."

"Serena has been changing since the day I met her. I just never opened my eyes long enough for me to see it. Every time a new scout was added, a new insecurity was harped upon. With me, it was her commitment. I never saw how hard she tried after that. With Amy, it was her study skills and intelligence."

"I never saw how she would try to improve," said Amy sadly.

"When Raye joined us, it was her tendency to be late, and her clumsiness. With Lita, it was her clumsiness and how excited she would get about some things. With Mina, it was her looks and her powers. Every time we'd yell at or tease her, these things became incorporated into Serena. She began to truly believe she was worthless. Slowly, her real personality and thoughts were covered up as a defense, so we'd never be able to hurt her core self."

"I sense a 'but,'" said Mina.

"But I think we are," said Amy. "Her words, even though she thought no one could hear them, are a kind of proof that she's beginning to slip away."

"I-I never realized," whispered Raye. She had her back to the rest of the group, and appeared to be lost in thought. She turned to face the others, and a stricken look was on her face. "I've just been remembering every mean thing I've ever said to her, every comment. I never realized how much I was hurting her. But I do love her. She's my friend. I've been hurting my friend, hurting her badly." Raye collapsed to her knees, and the priestess who never cried began to cry.

Mina knelt and put an arm around Raye. "We were all doing it, Raye. We were all doing it-building her an impossible standard and expecting her to meet it. And then when she'd try, we'd knock her back down again."

Lita sat on the steps again. "I feel terrible."

"And we should," said Amy. "We owe her an apology at the very least."

"Yeah!" shouted all the girls and the two cats. They stood as a group to go find Serena when she came running towards them, anger and pain in her eyes.

"I just saw Darien," Serena panted. "He wanted to know if the meeting was finished. I didn't even know there was a meeting. He said he ran into Lita, who told him where she was going. I must not have heard my communicator go off. I know what's coming now. I know you're all going to tell me what a ditz I am and what a horrible person I am, but you know something? I don't care. I'm tired of it, and I'm tired of being hurt, and I'm tired of all of you!" Serena turned and ran. The group stood in shock for a moment before Lita broke the silence.

"I think she's hit her breaking point."

"She didn't cry," said Raye. "I never saw a tear."

"Some things," said Luna, "some sorrows, are too deep for tears."

Amy gazed in the direction Serena ran. "I'm worried," she whispered to herself, then shouted, "We've got to find her!" She grabbed Luna and took off running.

Mina grabbed Artemis and everyone followed her. "Amy, what's the matter?" she asked.

Amy's eyes never wavered off her path. "I'm worried about what's going to do next. Did you see the desperation in her eyes? She was so convinced we were going to reject her that she rejected herself.

Everyone gasped, and ran faster. "But where?" asked Raye.

Luna and Amy shouted the answer in unison. "The park!"

**********

Serena stood in 'her' clearing, eyes on the sky. "I'm tired of fighting it. It will never be right." Raising her hand in the air she shouted out, "MOON COSMIC POWER!" Sailor Moon stood there, looking ready to fight, but the only enemy in sight was herself. "I know what I have to do." She knelt and summoned all her strength.

**********

Darien spotted the running girls before they hit him. Reaching out, he grabbed an arm and pulled one of the girls to a halt. Seeing that it was Mina he had grabbed, he said, "What's the rush? Big sale?"

"Gotta...find...her...." Mina was having trouble breathing.

"Find who?" When Mina didn't answer, he asked the rest, who had stopped a few feet away. "Find who?"

"Serena," said Amy. "She's-" She was cut off by Darien, who winced in pain. "Darien! Are you all right?"

"Serena. She just transformed." The girls relaxed, thinking that if Serena transformed, then she was just fighting something. Raye and the cats, though, were still tense.

"I don't sense any evil," Raye said hesitantly. The cats gave each other concerned glances.

"Luna, do you think?"

"I hope not!"

"What?" asked Amy and Darien together.

"Come on!" Luna jumped on Amy and Artemis jumped on Mina. "We'll explain on the way! Darien, take us to her!"

As they ran, Luna explained. The Crystal had a power that nobody had ever talked about. "It was the power that overset the Negaforce when Queen Serenity used it," Luna said. "It is the power to kill anyone who the user wishes. Usually it's used for defeating enemies, but Serena's great-grandmother used it for another purpose. She was in a loveless marriage, trapped with a kingdom she never wanted. If it hadn't been for her sister's death, she never would've been Queen. So she waited until her daughter was sixteen and could legally inherit the throne. Then, she used the flip side of the Crystal's killing power-the suicide force."

"Suicide?" Darien blanched.

"Do you think she's capable of doing that?" Lita was shocked.

Luna hung her head. "I just don't know.

**********

A silver light began to form around Sailor Moon. "Crystal, help me," she whispered, focusing.

**********

They ran to the edge of the clearing and stopped short. Serena-Sailor Moon-was surrounded by a glowing silver light. She held the Crystal in front of her, eyes focused in it's depths. "No!" gasped Raye.

"We have to do something!" cried Mina.

Darien groaned in pain. "Serena...my love...she's fading, her life fore is fading."

"Stop her!" shouted Luna. "Do something! Distract her somehow!"

Amy stepped forward, transformed into Sailor Mercury. "SHINE AQUA ILLUSION!" she yelled, freezing both Sailor Moon and the spell. "I hope she forgives me," Mercury whispered.

"Good job!" Luna said. "Raye, transform! Melt the ice!"

Sailor Mars stepped forward. "I hope this works," she muttered. "MARS FIRE IGNITE!" Her flame surrounded the ice shell around Sailor Moon and melted it. When the steam cleared, she was lying in the middle of the clearing, wet, but not visibly injured.

Luna ran to Sailor Moon, who, by that time, had de-transformed back into Serena, followed closely by everyone else. Serena gazed into Luna's eyes, confused, then fury overtook her. "Why did you stop me?" she hissed. "I'm worthless-I'm worthless as a Sailor Scout, as a lover, as a friend. Let me die!"

"No!" Darien wrapped his arms around Serena. "You're *not* worthless-not to me. You're everything."

"And not to us, either." Amy stepped forward, knelt next to Serena. "I'm sorry if I ever made you feel that way. I never meant to."

Raye touched Serena's hand. "I'm sorry too. I never noticed how much I was hurting you."

"We're *all* sorry." Lita and Mina came into Serena's view. "We never tried to understand how you felt."

"It's mostly my fault." Luna looked about as sad as a cat could. "I know perfection is impossible, but I kept forcing you to try to be, and I never tried to understand why."

"How...how do you know so much about what's going on inside of me?" Serena asked. "Was I that bad at hiding it?"

"No," said Amy. "I heard you earlier today. I listened to you and realized how right you are. We never did give you a fair break, not when it mattered. Serena, I've never told you this, but now's the time. Your friendship means so much to me." Amy's eyes filled with tears. "I can't believe I almost threw that away."

"Amy...." Serena reached out a hand to wipe away Amy's tears. "Don't cry."

"We have to!" sobbed Raye. "You may have almost killed your body, but *we* were the ones who were murdering your soul."

Even Lita was crying now. "We can't exist without you, Serena, you're our Princess, our leader...and our friend."

Darien smiled down at her. "We all love you."

"You mean it? I've been guarding myself for so long.... Can I trust you again, like I used to?"

"Always," said Luna. "Now, will you come home with us?"

Serena paused. "If I don't, will you force me?"

Darien cringed at the thought that he might still lose her, but forced himself to respond, "We'd never trap you against your will, not anymore. I think we've seen now that that hurts more than anything else."

"That's all I needed to know," Serena said, smiling at everyone. "Let's go home, so I can begin to heal."

Serena walked out of that field surrounded by the people that loved her best. She knew that it would take time, but, if she were allowed to, she would be able to trust again.

**********

--The End-

Author's note #2: Suicide is never the answer. If you are feeling depressed and like life's not worth living, go to someone, a friend, parent, counselor, whatever. I was lucky and had good friends to fall back on. Life's too beautiful and precious to give up on!!!!! :)