Seiko. I call her "Seiko." (Pronounced "SAY-KO"). That's not her real name, of course. Her real
name is Saori, and she's a girl I went to high school with, and then we attended the same local
college. A very serious girl, in fact. So if she ever found out that this is my secret nickname for her,
I think our friendship, and all the favours she's done for me over the years, would be at an end. So
this is just between you and me and the wall, you got me?

I bet you wonder why the well-known-to-be serious and conscientious Chiba Mamoru has such a
nickname for one of his friends. To tell you the reason for that, you have to know what Saori-san is
like. Seiko, in case you don't already know this, is the name of a well-known Japanese company
which makes wrist watches. Seiko watches don't tend to need repairs very often; they run reliably
and well. [No, the company is NOT paying me to say this. But I've had my own Seiko wrist watch
for years and years now, and it only needs its battery replaced now and then. How many years?
You don't wanna know. Remember I am King Endymion now, and how long our lifespan is in
Crystal Tokyo. No, you don't wanna know.] There are other meanings for the word "Seiko" which
I leave the intrepid reader to discover, and I say no more.

As I was saying, Saori, or "Seiko," is a girl who is as reliable, hard-working, and steadfast as a
Seiko watch she practically defines the term "Success." Uhhhhh...she's kinda scary. I remember
well the day we first met. I was just 16, new at Moto Azabu High School, didn't know my way
around, and very nervous, though I tried not to show it. [I *thought* I wasn't showing it, anyway.]
I had found several of the library books I needed for my courses, but the last one eluded me. I was
going up and down the aisles, searching, searching, for ages.

And all the time I was doing this, the quiet girl with the long straight brown hair at the check out
desk watched me. And watched me. Oh God, how I hate being stared at. And still, she watched
me. Finally, I decided to forget the steady, serious blue regard of those eyes and just concentrated on
my search for the elusive book. [All right, I heard that sarcastic remark someone just made. Not any
better at finding books than he is at finding the Silver Crystal, you said, didn't you? Very funny.]

Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me. "5:55 P.M., Chiba-san. The library closes in five minutes
exactly." The tone was as frosty as the top of Mount Fuji. It was her. Seiko.

I whirled on her indignantly. "How do you know my name? And it's not 6:00 P.M. yet. So why are
you on my case?"

"As for your name, Chiba-san, you left your library card on the floor half an hour ago. You never
noticed, did you? I picked it up and I have it here on the desk for you. I have other appointments
today, Chiba-san, and I will NOT stay here past six. But if you wish, I have the library search
computer on-line and I will find the book you are looking for. Leave me a note, and be here after
the library opens at 9 tomorrow. It will be ready for you by 9:30 A.M. precisely. Be there."

I was dumbfounded by her cool manner and efficiency. She seemed to have taken charge while I was
floundering, and I never noticed. "Domo arigatou, Miss?" I began, hesitantly.

"Saori." She said with a quick smile.

Then as I walked away, I heard her say, a little mockingly, "Men! You never want to ask for help,
do you? You would rather stay lost!" I turned again to look at her, and had the alarming sense I
was being analysed and catalogued, in that efficient brain. I felt myself turn bright red to the roots.
I gulped under the steady gaze of the intelligent blue eyes, but somehow pulled myself together.

"Saori-san, I will never make that mistake again. I am in your debt. And I hope I can return the
favour in the near future. But please call me Mamoru."

"Oh, you will return the favour, Mamoru-san. See you tomorrow at 9:30 A.M." And then she had
that little smile on her face. Little pearls on her neck, little pearl teeth, I noticed then too, too
perfect to be real, that girl was. Yet under that, the smile was real, and warm.


That was the beginning of a very good friendship. Saori found all the books I needed for my courses
very quickly and efficiently. She was my study partner all through high school. In fact, she would
sometimes drop them by for me at the Crown Game Center, when I was briefly working there part-
time with Motoki. Motoki thought Saori was a looker. I suppose she is; I've never thought about it
much. To me, she will always be Seiko polished and efficient as a Seiko quartz watch, always cool
as ice, serious and hard-working.

Although I am one of the top students in my college, here, as at Moto Azabu High School, Seiko
outshines me. The guys at the college say some day she will be head of our county police
department. I say, one day, Seiko will be police chief and God help the officers who are late
turning up for their shifts!! And God help those crooks! One withering look from those steel-blue
eyes of hers and they will be dead meat. After all the years I've known her, she still makes ME
nervous. But she has been a very good friend to me, reliable as my Seiko wrist watch.

And if you're wondering, I had no idea at the time, honestly, that the kids at college were pairing us
off and saying Seiko and I were "the perfect couple." Just cause we hang around together a lot
doesn't mean I ever considered her THAT way. I hang around with my Seiko wrist watch all day
too and it never leaves my side except when I shower. But nobody thinks I am gonna date my wrist
watch, do they?


You might wonder why I am telling you about my friend Seiko right now. To answer that, I will
take you back in time, to summer vacation time, after my first year at college. Come hop in Sailor
Pluto's Time Portal with me; it's nice to have some company for a change!


As this story begins, I'd just received a letter from a mutual acquaintance of ours at college,
Kobayashi. This letter, I admit, rocked me to my foundations. It let me know not only some things
I didn't know about Kobayashi, but also about Seiko, and Chibi Usa, too. I am going to have a
word with that young lady. If she thinks she is going to plan my social life for me, she has another
think coming!!

The letter was very whiny in tone. It accused me, in essence, of ruining Kobayashi's chances with
Saori-san [he still doesn't call her Saori-chan he is in love with her, it seems, but still afraid of
her aren't we all?]. I was stunned absolutely stunned. Seiko, attracted to ME? She, who always
tells me all my faults and that timeliness and efficiency is everything? And here I thought she kind
of felt sorry for me. Damn. I will never, never understand GIRLS. It also said that "my little
girlfriend" [my little WHAT? Oh, he means Chibi Usa.!] had tried to help Kobayashi get in good
with Saori, which touched him, but that, really, isn't she a little too young for me?

I am really not sure how to reply to this screwy letter. What do I say, gang? Do I say, no, she's not
my girlfriend, she is my future daughter? As if Kobayashi, or anyone else, for that matter, is going
to believe such a nutty story!! Do I say no, that I never ever thought of Saori as a girlfriend, and
that I can't imagine anyone else being that gone on her? That is going to insult Kobayashi. No, I
definitely have a problem here. Damn!! How do I always get myself into these situations?

Well, maybe if I tell you what Kobayashi was ranting and raving about, a solution will come to me.
The great Tuxedo Kamen can think himself out of anything, just about grin.

But you are going to have one advantage I didn't have, that warm summer morning when
Kobayashi's excitable badly-penned letter arrived on his "sempai's" doorstep. You will not only
know what I knew at the time, but as well, you will know the things I only found out later, courtesy
of a trip back in time through Sailor Pluto's Time Portal. Now that I can be an ahem caped
phantom, a fly on the wall, silently watching my daughter, and my future wife in the 20th Century, I
find that I can understand them both a lot better. This King needs all the help he can get to handle
his two feisty Moon Princesses, Usa Major and Usa Minor. So, through the wonders of the Time
Portal, I will let you eavesdrop on Kobayashi, Saori, Chibi Usa and yes, my Usako, Sailor Moon,
and you will watch things happen for yourself. And I will, of course, offer my usual brilliant
comments on the action. Hey, stop snickering! You are ruining Tuxedo Kamen-sama's reputation.


Kobayashi and Saori were walking down a residential street in my neighbourhood. Kobayashi
looked nervous and on his best behaviour, and kept glancing at his companion, Saori. Saori,
"Seiko", the Ice Queen, was strolling along at his side, utterly serene. Seiko looked cool, elegant
and unruffled as always, pearls on her neck, warm brown hair combed to a scintillating shine, nails
and shoes buffed she always looks [forgive me] "like she just stepped out of a salon."

Yet, whenever I look at Seiko, in my mind, I can't help but see another face, small, round, rosy-
cheeked, two blonde odangos sailing in the wind, school tie askew, white socks falling down, shoes
scuffed, running because she's late as usual, and about to barrel into me and give me a bear hug.
How different from Saori is Usako! And how odd that Usako's real name is Serenity, for she is so
seldom serene she is always moving, excitable, anxious. And always fascinating. But I digress.
Let's listen in on Kobayashi and Saori.

Kobayashi could see that Saori was preoccupied, and was trying hard to make small talk, anything
to get her attention. "So, Saori-san, is this your first visit to Mamoru's place? "

"Yes," replied Saori.

"Heh-heh-heh! I bet his apartment is really messy. What do you think?" Kobayashi was laughing,
but his eyes watched her closely.

The steel blue eyes swivelled, and peered at Kobaysahi shrewdly. "What makes you think that?"

Kobayashi grinned, rubbed his head a little in embarrassment, and then proceeded to make a utter
fool of himself [in my opinion, anyway], "Hey, macho guys always have messy rooms! After all,
it's a woman's job to keep the place tidy, isn't it?"

At this, Saori turned into icy, Seiko mode, smiling a gentle, and dangerous smile, "I guess that
means your room is very messy, doesn't it, Kobayashi? So you think keeping things clean and
organized is a woman's job, do you? Well, when I am a police officer someday, you will see how
well I clean up this town and not with a broom, either!"

Kobayashi turned bright red, and started stammering, "Saori-san! I didn't mean I didn't mean !!"

She gave him the "Seiko" look, and the words died on his lips, unsaid.

"Yes, you did." she said, ever so quietly.

Kobayashi hung his head for a few moments, then desperately tried another conversational gambit,
"Do you really think Mamoru has invited his *girlfriend* too?" There was a special emphasis on
the word "girlfriend," as if this was the one word he was savouring as he said it. Poor Kobayashi.
Poor, poor Kobayashi. About as subtle as a sledgehammer, he is. Saori looked at him out of the
corner of her eye, and he fell silent.

It was at that point they reached my apartment, and I, the unsuspecting host to this soap opera, let
them both in.

My doorbell rang, once, and looking at my [Seiko] watch, I smothered a grin. Right on the dot as
usual. Could only be "Seiko." And Usako? Well, of course, she was late as usual. As I showed my
two guests to the couch, they made, what I thought at the time, was the strangest remarks!

"Seiko" gave my room the once-over, the all-encompassing appraisal only she can give [a future
cop's eye she misses NOTHING]. "Why, it's really clean and neat, isn't it?" She sounded a little
surprised. But she's not the first one to comment on my apartment I'm kind of resigned to all the
little remarks I get.

"Yes," says Kobayashi, "I'm disappointed." My eyebrows must have gone up two feet at this
remark. But I don't know why I'm surprised at any strange thing that happens to me anymore.

[If only they knew how much a cluttered room drives me absolutely right around the bend, they
would understand. Yes, you're right. If I have to go into one of Usako's many personal rooms in
the Crystal Palace, piled high with plush toys, pot pourri, perfumes, mangas, enough junk food to fill
a candy store, not to mention shoes and jewellery scattered everywhere, I have to try hard to avert
my eyes from everything but Usako herself, or I would get a sudden, desperate urge to start cleaning
stuff up. Fortunately, I enjoy looking at Usako anyway, so it's not as difficult to resist my tidiness
urges as it would be otherwise.]

"What on earth are you talking about?" I peered at Kobayashi. And he, naturally, reddened and
muttered, "Oh, nothing, nothing."

I sighed. There is just no use in talking to Kobayashi, the clown. One day he will clown himself
right into failing his college courses, that is, if I, his "sempai", his faithful tutor, get tired of his
clowning and decide not to help him anymore. I decided to ignore him and speak to someone whose
behaviour, if nothing else, always makes sense to me Seiko. "Stop clowning around, Kobayashi.
So, Saori-san, did you finish your report on time?" [As if I didn't know the answer to that question!]

And "Seiko" smiled and replied, "Why, yes, I already handed it in, two weeks early!" She just
beamed while Kobayashi and I exchanged secret looks how on earth does she do it? And then we
quickly composed our faces to seriousness.

"I knew you would!" is all I said to her.

Kobayashi now gave my room a second, much more scrutinizing once-over. All of a sudden, he
looked increasingly uneasy, and I asked, "Kobayashi, what is it?"

That's when he burst out, all at once, "Mamoru, don't you have any pictures here?"
"What on earth does he mean?" I wondered to myself. There's my beloved print of the solar system
hanging big as life on the wall. Why, of course, I have pictures!

"Pictures? Of what?" I asked him.

And Kobayashi exploded, as if I were some kind of baka [idiot], "Why, of your girlfriend, of
course!! Don't you have any pictures of her?"

I smiled a little at that. I do have her pictures, as a matter of fact, in my bedroom, and some
paintings of her too, by Yumeno Yumeni, in my closet. But the photographs, and most especially,
the paintings, are for my eyes only. I don't put Usako on display in my living room for the likes of
Kobayashi to gawk at. But all I said was, "No, I don't have her pictures here."

Kobayashi then dropped all pretense of clowning and became belligerent and I was mystified.
"Well, why don't you have any pictures of her?" he demanded.

[I didn't know that all this performance of Kobayashi's was designed to impress on Saori that I
already had a girlfriend and that therefore, she had no hope of interesting me. And if I had known
that, I can assure you, the unimaginable thought of the oh-so-serious "Seiko" coming on to me
would have knocked me for a loop.]

I directed a look at the excitable Kobayashi, the same look I customarily give him when one of his
math equations makes absolutely no sense at all. Mind you, none of his equations ever do. Logic is
not Kobayashi's strong point. And nor has he any finesse or ability to get what he wants politely, or
subtly. You would think he would treat me, his "sempai" with a little more respect, given the many
times I have saved his bacon when he was about to fail in his math courses. And you would think, if
his object was to get Saori interested in him, that the last thing he would do would be to say things
which embarrass her. But as I have said, logic and sense are not Kobayashi's strong points.

Well, time to slap him down hard. "I don't know what you're getting upset about, Kobayashi," I
remarked, coolly. "If I don't have any pictures of her, that's no concern of yours, is it?"

"It IS my business!" Kobayashi was practically shouting now. "Are you SURE your girlfriend is
coming today?"

Now I was secretly grinning to myself. My Usako, stand me up? Particularly when I had told her in
advance that I would be baking some of her favourite pastries for this occasion? When the moon is
blue, maybe! No, my Moon Princess would be there with her appetite.

"Oh yes, any minute now," I replied, cheerfully and confidently.

And right on cue, the doorbell began ringing and ringing and ringing. I scrambled to get there
before the bell was broken. Just outside the door, I could hear the familiar sounds of squabbling.
Oh-oh. Usako must have let it slip that pastries are being served, and now Chibi Usa is here too.
Sigh. Well, so much for impressing my friends at college. Mayhem is about to ensue I know those
two all too well; Usako and Chibi Usa mix like oil and water-- not at all.

I raised my voice to cover the sounds of squabbling and injected a note of false brightness into my
voice, "Here she is! Please excuse me for a moment."

The second I left the room, Saori turned on Kobayashi and hissed at him, "Would you please stop
embarrassing me by keep saying 'girlfriend' to Mamoru so bluntly?"

"Come on! I did that for YOUR sake." Kobayashi had a tone of smugness in his tone that in my
experience, would have annoyed any female older than, say, five years old. I couldn't even pull that
tone of voice on Chibi Usa once she could talk, and get away with it. That much about girls, I
HAVE learned.

"For MY sake!" cried Saori, indignantly.

Kobayashi smirked knowingly, and said, in a sing-song voice, "Saori-san, you wear a different
lipstick colour on the days you see Mamoru, don't you?"

And Saori turned redder than a traffic light.

Kobayashi, seeing Saori's obvious discomfort, gloated, and cried, "Aha! I'm right!"

[Someday, Kobayashi will write a book on how NOT to use your charm and influence to get
girls he instinctively knows all the wrong things to do.]

Controlling herself with an effort, Saori said coldly, "What a nasty, mean-spirited thing to say!"

Kobayashi, realizing too late that he had fixed his image in Saori's mind as someone spiteful, cried,
"No way!" But it was obviously too late to mend the damage.

At that moment, a very noisy distraction appeared in the room, Usas Major and Minor, clinging like
limpets to my arms. You know, it's a wonder any of my sweaters still fit me, the way those two pull
on my sleeves. What a guy will endure for love...and to keep his small future daughter happy.

But really, girls, I have guests here. So I had to assert myself. "Hey girls, get your hands off!"

And Usako yelled, "No, I won't!" [Oh we go again. Patience, Mamoru, patience.]

Chibi Usa chimed in, "No! Hey, Usagi, you keep your hands off!" From my vantage point, I could
look down on a little pink head of hair, bristling with bravado, all out of proportion to her size.

"Why did you say that?" Usako was glaring, her eyes like sky-blue fire.

"Because Mamoru is MINE!!" Chibi Usa squeaked.

Usako's voice now took on a dangerous tone. "Mine?? What do you mean, 'Mine'!"

I shook them off with an effort, and sat down on the couch. And Chibi Usa promptly plunked
herself in my lap possessively. [There are times when I think, that's so cute. This wasn't one of

And then Usako, much to my embarrassment, screeched, "Oh, no, no! That's MY place! Go
away!" [Great, Usako. That's right tell the world that you usually sit in my lap when you come
over. The college gossips will REALLY enjoy that, I'm sure Kobayashi's ears are pricking up

Chibi Usa yelled back, "No, I won't!" [Sigh. And to think I used to think my apartment was too
quiet, before my life was invaded by the Moon princesses.]

Usako retorted, "If you don't get out of his lap, I won't bring you here any more!" [Out of the
corner of my, admittedly trained, eye, I could see the beginnings of a crescent moon glowing on her
forehead, Usako was so ticked. Hope my guests don't see THAT!]

Chibi Usa taunted her, "I come here by myself all the time anyway!" [Oh, great, Chibi Usa. Now
the college gossips will wonder how it is that a young girl like her visits me alone all the time.

Usako was just getting wound up for her next retort, when Saori, ever the cool, poised, lady,
interrupted, softly, but firmly, "Excuse me...."

Usako, colouring deeply, stopped, looked contritely at Saori and Kobayashi [whose mouth had just
about dropped to the floor, and was taking in the scene with relish] and said, "Sorry to make such a
scene..." then stopped and hung her head in embarrassment.

Chibi Usa had also collected herself and remembered her "Small Lady" royal manners.
"Konnichiwa! [how do you do?]" she said a little nervously to the two on the couch.

To my two brash Princesses, I made the introductions, "My friends at university, Saori and
Kobayashi. This is Tsukino Usagi and Chibi Usa."

Kobayashi, clearly delighted by the situation, which must have disconcerted Saori, grinned and said
"Hi! So, Mamoru, your girlfriend is...." Then he stopped and looked puzzled, at the two still
hanging from my arms.

Usako immediately piped up, "Well, I'm Mamoru's girl..." only to have Chibi Usa insist, "I'm his
REAL girlfriend!"

Usako, really angry now, hissed, "Just shut up!"

Chibi Usa replied coolly, "Go back home!"

Enough is enough, thought I. I looked at Usako and said one word only, "USAKO!"

But the two got one last dig in at each other, "It's all your fault!" they screeched in unison.

Looking down at them, still hanging off my arms, I said firmly, irritated, "Just stop it!"

There were muttered apologies from Usas Major and Minor, and they seated themselves to either
side of me on the couch.

Saori was clearly amused, started to laugh, and then apologized, "Sorry for laughing. Your
girlfriends are cute. Here you are, have some pastries!" [Now why didn't I think of the pastries,
dammit? Always, Saori is just that little bit smarter than I am. And she doesn't even know those
girls and their prodigious appetites, as I do!]

Eyes big as saucers at the spread of petit-fours, the two Moon Princesses cried, "Wow!!" [Yes, I
had really outdone myself that day. Seiko tends to make me nervous, and I wanted to impress her
that if I couldn't find my way around a library quite as well as she can, still, I really can cook when I
want to.]

"Oh, girlfriends!" said Kobayashi, with an emphasis on the "S". "That explains it." [The silly ass
must have thought that I have two girlfriends, and rather than make them jealous of each other, I
don't any have photos of either of them in my living room! If only he knew the truth, which is even
more bizarre! Well, let him think I have two girlfriends if he wants. Is it any use trying to reason
with such a baka (fool) as Kobayashi? Such a complete waste of time and energy, I thought,

"So, how are you doing, Usagi-san?" Kobayashi asked her.

And my Usako, her mouth full of petit-fours and thinking of nothing else, replied, contentedly, eying
the pastry tray, "Well, I'm thinking of having another one!"

There was a sudden, embarrassed silence in the room. My university friends have never met
anything quite like the Junk Food Princess in her full glory, after all. Tsukino Usagi's ability to
completely concentrate on stuffing her face, to the exclusion of all other possible disturbances in the
universe, is sometimes...breathtaking.

Kobayashi told her, "I'm not asking about your appetite!"

Usako, face still full of petit-fours, swallowed and spoke, smiling serenely. [Yes, that's the one time
Usako looks serene when she's EATING.] "I'm fifteen and a half."

You know, I don't know why Usako can't just reply, "I'm fine," like anyone else would, but it
seems she's determined to say as many potentially embarrassing things as she can. In self-defence,
Chiba Mamoru has become a master of looking oh-so-nonchalant. Sometimes, I think I ought to
thank Usako. I beat all my university friends at poker now!

Kobayashi grinned at her. "Fifteen, huh? Good age! At that age, you're full of love and dreams,
aren't you?" [At the moment, Usako is full of creams, not dreams, but who am I to argue?]

Usako, now sporting a whipped-cream moustache, replied, "Well, you may be right. I'm already in
love with Mamoru, though."

Kobayashi stopped whatever he was going to say, and looked at Saori. Seiko's hand trembled a
little as she set down her tea cup, but otherwise, her composure was admirable. For a moment, I felt
uncomfortable too, but then I felt a smile coming up at the corners of my mouth, unbidden. I felt my
eyes rest on her with love, and she didn't even see. Oh, Usako, Usako. How you wear your heart on
your sleeve, and you don't give a damn what the world thinks. May you never change. I decided
right then I would take her out for a sundae tonight. But in the meantime, I took the little smile off
my face, before anyone saw it, and went back to being the cool, nonchalant Mamoru.

At that moment, I noticed Chibi Usa peering at Saori suspiciously. "What's your relationship to
Mamoru?" she demanded.


There was yet another uncomfortable silence in the room. I don't know which of us was most
embarrassed, but it's the first time I ever saw the Seiko the Ice Queen lose her cool. But only for a
gulping, sweatdropping, moment. Every eye was on her, except that is, Usako. My junk food queen
was in pastry nirvana and not paying much attention to the goings-on.

But finally, Saori said, a trifle *too* carelessly, I realize now, "Oh, he's just my old classmate from
school." Chibi Usa wasn't buying that, I could tell. She was scrutinizing Saori narrowly, and even
a bit nervously. I decided I needed to correct this erroneous impression she had formed about our

"We were at the same school, it's true, but I haven't done as well as you!" I said to Seiko, and
meant it.
"No...please!" Seiko, blushed, embarrassed. [Seems to be her day for it, I thought.]
I turned to Usako and told her, "She's going to be a police officer after graduation." My Usako's
sky blue eyes got big as saucers. She's cute when she does that. "A female police officer wow!!"
she cried.
But Kobayashi was not to be outdone. "Not just a police officer Saori's going to be head of our
county's police department!" And then he beamed at Saori fatuously.
Now Seiko was *really* uncomfortable. "Stop teasing me!" she cried.
Kobayashi was indignant. "I'm NOT teasing you, Saori-san. I have a lot of respect for you."
Usako was still starry-eyed. "Head of the police department? How wonderful! I should think about
doing that too." [Cripes, I thought I was going to choke on my green tea when she said that.]

The party broke up soon after that. After they left, Usako was babbling away about how as a
powerful Senshi, she would make a wonderful police chief. To heck with being head of the
department, she was going to be police chief. "The Pretty Sailor Soldier will solve every crime in
Tokyo!! Can't you just see me, Police Chief Tsukino Usagi, sitting at my desk?"
"Uhhh, no..." I had to reply, honestly.
"Mamo-chan!" she squeaked. "You're always saying I should work harder, be more ambitious.
And whenever I get an idea, you shoot it down. You never, never, take me seriously!"
"Seriously, Usako, if you don't stop gobbling pastries and daydreaming, SITTING at a desk will be
all you can do you won't be able to walk!"
"Mamo-chan!!" her squeak went up 20 decibels. She was turning red. I did know I'd put my foot
in it again, minna-san. But by this time, I knew how to pull myself out of sticky situations like this
with my wounded Princess.
After one sweatdropping moment, I cleared my throat. "Usako, would you mind helping me clear
away the dishes? No, it's OK, Chibi Usa, we can handle this. Back in a few minutes."

Usako picked up the dishes without a word, but she was looking at me out of the corner of her eyes,
reproachfully. She stacked the dishes in the dishwasher, with a loud clatter. I winced. My best
porcelain dishes! But I said nothing.
"That was mean....!" she started to say.

NOW! I thought. Grabbed her and kissed her, hard. Took the breath right out of her. I wish I'd
known to do this when I first met her. It would have saved a lot of misunderstandings, methinks.
When I finally let her catch her breath, but still kept holding her, her eyes were starry, and there was
a dazed, happy look on her little round face.

"Oh, Mamo-chan...." she murmured, softly. I decided that more "apologizing" was called for. When
I was able to disengage from those sweet lips of hers for a moment, I whispered in her ear that I was
sorry for teasing her. And then I decided to play my trump card. "Isn't Chibi Usa going to her
friend's tonight to rehearse for the school play?" [As if I didn't know the answer to that, perfectly
"Yes, she is. Why?" Usako looked puzzled.
With a glint in my eye, I continued, "Well, you see, I made all this chicken yakitori for dinner, and I
couldn't possibly eat it all myself I made too much. Would you like to come to my place for
"Mamo-chan, you sneak!" she squeaked. "You planned this all along!" The sky blue eyes looked
at me accusingly.
"Guilty as charged, Officer Tsukino," I grinned.
"That's POLICE CHIEF Tsukino!" she snapped.
"Gomen, Police Chief Tsukino. And I was thinking about going out for chocolate sundaes
afterwards, that is, if you didn't already have way too much sweet stuff today." [When in doubt,
prescribe chocolate, has always been my motto in life.]
The blue eyes flashed at me, mischievously. "And how do you know that I might not be busy
tonight? Your friend Kobayashi kept staring at me, you know."
"Yeah, right. I saw the way he was staring at you, Usako. That was because he couldn't believe
anyone could eat that much and still fit in that mini-skirt!" Usako promptly grabbed the nearest tea
towel and swatted at me with it. I promptly grabbed HER again.

After about five more minutes of "apologizing," we both came back from the kitchen, having pasted
on innocent faces. Chibi Usa, sitting on the couch waiting, never had a clue....

In any case, Chibi Usa was apparently too absorbed in her own troubled thoughts to notice we were
taking a little longer than necessary to put away the dishes. She had decided that I seemed to know
Saori far too well to just be her "classmate," and she didn't like it at all....


Meanwhile, in a bar with a tropical decor and no bartender visible, three colourful denizens of the
Dead Moon Circus sipped their cocktails, and talked about what they always talk about....girls.

One, dressed in a strange puffy blue outfit, looking a bit like the Michelin tire man, and long blue
pony tail, was looking at a photo spread out on the bar a picture of Saori. Red pointed fingernails
made the speaker look feminine but this was no lady. This was Fish Eye, one of three men
searching to find and destroy the Pegasus, whose powers of good were a threat to them. Like the
other two sitting at the bar, Fish Eye was a circus performer, in his case, a tumbler and contortionist.
The Pegasus' hiding place, they knew, would only be found in the dreams of a girl with a truly pure
heart. Each of the three, Fish Eye, Hawk Eye and Tiger Eye, was arrogantly convinced that he, and
he alone, could find that one girl in a thousand.

With lacquered crimson nails, Fish Eye gestured at the photograph. "She's a perfect woman, this
one. Very serious, she has a strong sense of justice, and she's at the top of all her classes."

Sitting next to Fish Eye, a slim young man with long blond hair, a red bandana around his forehead,
a necklace of jungle beads round his neck, and yellow and black striped tights on his long, long legs,
was Tiger Eye. Tiger Eye fancies himself a ladies' man, confidently believing he can seduce
anything female on the planet, and when he is doing his knife throwing act, the ladies are definitely
dazzled. The trouble is, Tiger Eye assumes that the female gender are all some kind of wild beasts,
who need to be tamed by his irresistible charms, if not with his whip. Unfortunately, once Tiger Eye
opens his mouth, he ruins everything. Mastering a good pick-up line, let alone, projecting sincerity,
is one circus trick which Tiger Eye has never mastered. But I digress.

"You can say that again!" Tiger Eye agreed, enthusiastically. "She's the kind of woman who
always does her homework, faithfully does whatever the adults tell her to do, and she's probably the
teacher's pet." [Actually, Tiger Eye was wrong about that part. Seiko is so very bright that she
intimidates the teachers they're afraid she'll spot their mistakes, and embarrass them in front of the
class. She's good at that.]

Now Hawk Eye chimed in. With red hair sticking straight up like a flame, it's easy to tell that
Hawk Eye is the fire eater of the Dead Moon Circus. Hawk Eye smirked and remarked, "I bet she's
the kind who tattles to the teacher when the others are lazy in their cleaning duties."

Tiger Eye sighed, regretfully, and shook his head. "This type of woman doesn't know much about
love." But a secret smile played about his lips. He, Tiger Eye, was the one man in the world to
teach her. Tiger Eye liked nothing better than a woman who played hard-to-get. And anyway, he
reasoned to himself, who else would be more likely than this goody-goody to be the one special, pure
hearted girl who was hiding the Pegasus?

Hawk Eye replied, "Well, for whatever reasons, she's your type, isn't she?"
Tiger Eye grinned wickedly at Hawk Eye. "It's just business." Then, just as he turned to leave the
room, he said in an undertone, "Mind you, if I DO mix this little business trip with pleasure," and
here he winked, and smirked, "that's MY business, isn't it, and not Zirconia's!" He then held up a
one-finger salute in the direction of the Amazon trio's crotchety old boss, Zirconia. Hawk Eye
guffawed so hard, he spat out his drink. Fish Eye grinned, though a little more hesitantly. For one
thing, he was not sure if Zirconia could hear them, and for another, women were not HIS preferred
pleasure, in any case. Tiger Eye mockingly bowed to the other two and gave his parting shot:
"Since she's my Target, and I have to check her out, anyway, there's nothing more enticing than the
satisfaction of melting an Ice Queen!"


In the plush animal toy shop, Usako was mulling over a difficult decision that had all her little brain
cells going full tilt. In one hand, she held a plush hippo, in the other, a plush pony. "Oh, wow, look
at these!" she squealed to Chibi Usa. "They're so adorable! I wish I could afford both of them! I
wonder...which one do you think is the cutest?"

It will not surprise you, minna-san, to hear that in all these years, Usako's tastes haven't changed
very much. As I believe I mentioned before, Neo-Queen Serenity's boudoir in the Crystal Palace is
still a plush menagerie there's scarcely an inch left for me on that bed. Fortunately, my furry rivals
don't protest when I push them off to one side, in order to get close to their equally cuddly owner. I
often wish, though, I'd bought stock in Gund plush toys or Ty Beanie Babies when I had the chance.
But I digress.

My daughter, Chibi Usa, has not inherited her mother's craze for plush animals, and she doesn't like
jewellery much, unlike Usako, either. Maybe it's rebellion, maybe it's because Chibi Usa likes to
think of herself as serious and dignified, and above needing such frills. Whatever the reason,
Usako's obsession with collecting these things really disgusts Chibi Usa. But oddly, Usako always
thinks if she just shows Chibi Usa something really cute, she will be won over. She never, never

Chibi Usa just stared at Usako, witheringly. "Aren't you even worried? Don't you feel uneasy right
now? I do!"
Usako looked utterly bewildered. "What on earth do you mean?"
"Don't you ever worry about whether you're in danger of losing your happiness?" Chibi Usa asked.
"Why, what do I have to worry about? Well, I do worry a little about whether the hippopotamus or
the pony is the most perfect addition to add to my plush toy collection. I really don't know which
one I like the best. Decisions, decisions!" Usako smiled complacently, and gazed at each plush
animal in turn.
Chibi Usa snorted in disgust, "They're both HIDEOUS!"
"You just say that because you don't understand what it is to have refined taste. But one day you'll
learn...." Usako sighed, and continued to contemplate the hippo and the pony.
"Actually, it's Mamoru's taste that I can't understand!" Chibi Usa remarked, bitterly.
"What on earth does she mean?" Usako thought. "Oh well, she's always getting worked up over


Late in the evening at a popular dessert bar, Usako had just about finished her chocolate sundae and
was having trouble finishing it, because I kept making her giggle. I was regaling her with my
Kobayashi imitations, you see. After a visit with him, I could never keep a straight face he has that
effect on me.
"Do that again!" Usako giggled. "Show me how Kobayashi asks you for help with his homework!"
I could tell that she was pleased and relieved that there was someone who had even more trouble
with math than she did.
I scrunched my face into the imploring, hangdog face of Kobayashi, and raised my voice into a
wheedling whine. "'But sempai! Please! I know you have reports due tomorrow! But you HAVE
to help me with this math homework! You HAVE to! Please!'" In my normal voice, I continued,
"Usako, I have no idea how Kobayashi ever conned himself into getting into university. He's always
coming to me for advice, and I don't which he is more inept at, math, or girls."
Usako grinned at me mischievously. "And which do you coach him in, Mamo-chan? Math, or
"Math, of course, the easy one," I grinned back at her. "I still haven't got my B.A. in girls yet,
myself! Oh, and speaking of advice, I just wanted to let you know I'll be busy tomorrow afternoon.
Saori has asked me for my advice in shopping for a gift for some guy she knows. She says she
doesn't know how to choose gifts for guys. Usako, I don't know why everyone comes to me for
advice. I'm pretty sure my tastes are a bit unusual, anyway. I could tell, from the way Kobayashi
looked over my apartment, that he'd never decorate his place that way."

Usako put her hand on my arm and smiled, "Mamo-chan, everyone knows you have refined tastes. I
should know I have refined tastes too! So it's not surprising if Saori wants your advice too. And I
know you'll be very helpful to her, as you always are to me." I got a lump in my throat then, at
what she said, and the way she looked at me. I'm damned if I'll ever let on that Usako's idea of
refined taste is very different from mine she can fill our place to the rafters with tacky plush toys
and ropes and ropes of beads, for all I care.


On a downtown Tokyo street, a tall slim blond man, wearing a tweed jacket and dress pants, and
scholarly glasses as well, all intended to make him look like an English professor, was wending his
way towards Saori. As he spotted Saori, "Professor" Tiger Eye leered, and said, under his breath,
"There you are, luscious Ms. Goody Two-Shoes!"
Then he began his "bewildered tourist" act, in badly-Japanese-accented English. "Excus-a me!"
Saori, eyes peeling for Mamoru, who was meeting her there for their shopping trip, ignored him

An angry glint appeared in Tiger Eye's eyes, but he mastered his annoyance, and tried harder to
sound "English". "EXCUSE meee!" he tried to get her attention again. "What time eees eet now?"

Ahhh, he had said the magic word! He was asking "Seiko" the clock-watcher, the time!! The one
pick-up line that might actually cause Saori's head to swivel!
"Seiko" checked her wristwatch, naturally, and replied crisply, "It's 5:30."
At this, "Professor" Tiger Eye dramatically put his hands over his face in horror and said, in English
again, "Ohhh myyy Gawd!! Oh no! Is it time? I'm in trouble!!"
In Japanese, Seiko asked him, "What happened?"
And Tiger Eye, in Japanese, moaned, "I was supposed to meet the tour guide, and I'm late. Without
the guide, I can't even find the restaurant! NO!!"
Then abruptly, switching moods, the "Professor" removed his hands from his face, and with a
calculating glint in his eyes, asked Saori, "What's your name? You are very beautiful! Great!
Super! Awesome! Would you mind if I asked you to have dinner with me?" He was laying it on
with a trowel. And to a most unresponsive audience, alas.
Saori replied coolly, "Sorry, I'm meeting someone here."
"Professor" Tiger Eye, sounding like his heart was broken forever, moaned in English again, "Ohhh
Myyy Gawd!!"

At that moment, I turned up, not having a clue about who the "lost tourist" really was, or even being
interested at the time.
Saori wasn't even looking at Tiger Eye, the supposedly lost tourist. She beamed, "Oh, Mamoru!"
"Sorry to keep you waiting," I said politely, though I was right on time, actually. Being "Seiko", as
usual, she had arrived early.
"That's OK," Seiko smiled. And we left together for Saori's planned shopping trip.


After we left, Tiger Eye was confronted by his two cronies, sneering at his failed attempt to interest
"If she's with a man, she's not quite the lonely Ice Queen I took her for," Tiger Eye said, dejected.
"I'll have to re-think my strategy."
Hawk Eye snickered at Tiger Eye, "Well, anyway, you looked like..."
"A total nerd!" chortled Fish Eye, finishing the sentence. "You sure weren't a cool dude! It's no
wonder she wrote you off as a total weirdo!"
"Shut up!" Tiger Eye hissed, furiously. "Next time, I'll take her by force!" He glared after Saori's
retreating back, and if he could, I think the look he was giving me could have singed my hair. But
of course, I had no idea that I had just interrupted a "snatch" by one of the infamous Amazon Trio.


Chibi Usa was having a nightmare. In her dream, Mamoru told Usagi he wanted to end their love,
because he realized he'd been in love with Saori all along. Usagi was screaming, "No, no, wait,

But the dream Mamoru just replied, "Please forgive me. Oh, and say hello to Chibi Usa!"
The dream Usagi cried out, "But if we don't get married, Chibi Usa won't be born!"

At this, Chibi Usa woke from her nap with a start, her mouth wide open with horror at the
implications. "This is terrible!" She said to herself. "This is the biggest pinch I've ever been in!"
She went out into the street, and to her further horror, saw Mamoru and Saori walking side by side
down the street, and looking very cozy together.
"No way!" Chibi Usa exploded. Her nightmare, it seemed, had come true. She decided to follow
the two, and spy on them. But in doing that, who should she bump into but the jealous Kobayashi,
who was also hiding and spying on the couple.
"Hi!" said Kobayashi, looking down at the smaller spy.
Embarrassed, Chibi Usa stammered, "K-K-Konnichiwa!"

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Konnichiwa means, approximately, "How do you do?" or "Greetings", so I
think the closest translation that would imply the formality of what Chibi Usa said, would be "Good
afternoon," in this instance. She is using her "Small Lady" manners here, and her father would
approve grin.]

"So!" cried Kobayashi. "You're watching them too! They look really good together, don't they?"
And he sighed wistfully. Do you know what they call them at the university? 'The perfect couple.'
And I think they truly are."

Kobayashi and Chibi Usa stood and watched as Mamoru and Saori walked away. "If only Mamoru
had an official girlfriend, I would still have a chance. But there's no use hoping for that...."
Kobayashi remarked, despondently.
Chibi Usa piped up, "Don't give up! I'm on your side!"
Then, skipping along side Kobayashi, she began shouting, like a tiny cheerleader, "Hooray, hooray
for Kobayashi!! Let's go, let's go, Kobayashi!"
But Kobayashi only smiled, a little sadly, and said, "You're a nice kid. I'll see you later." Then,
squaring his shoulders, he left alone.

After a moment's thought, Chibi Usa decided on another prong of attack. If Kobayashi was going to
give up so easily, maybe she could get Usagi to realize the seriousness of the situation. So she
needed to find Usagi. And since Usagi had not yet brought home any plush toys, she knew just
where to look for her....


Saori was looking up at me, oddly nervous. It wasn't like her at all. "Are you sure you're not too
busy? Please tell me if you really don't want to go."

I smiled at her encouragingly. "No, come on! It's OK with me. Don't worry. So, what kind of
shopping do you want me to help you with?"

But getting the answer out of Seiko was surprisingly difficult. Usually, she was so precise in what
she wanted. Now all she would say was, "Well, ummmm, something nice to buy for a guy. I don't
know what. You're a guy. Tell me what you would think is a nice gift, Mamoru." And then she
smiled at me, and all of a sudden, went quiet and shy again.

I suddenly turned on her sharply and looked at her, "What is it? Did you fall in love with someone,

And remarkably, she couldn't meet my eyes. After a long moment of silence, she finally sighed and
replied, "I can't talk about it, Mamoru. Please don't ask me. Can't we just shop for something?"

I was no longer enjoying this shopping trip. She was making me uncomfortable, and I couldn't
figure out why. [Yes, I know, minna-san. Dense, wasn't I?] Then, desperate to get the task over
with, my eye fell on the obvious, conventional "guy gift" hanging there on a department store
display. Ties!
"A tie, Saori!"
She looked at me bewildered for a moment, as if she were too lost in her own thoughts to understand
"A tie, Saori," I repeated. "Get the guy a tie. That's always in good taste."

And still, she blushed and stammered, as if she had suddenly become incapable of making any
decisions. Seiko, the decisive Seiko whatever was wrong with her? All she would say was, "Oh, I
know nothing about ties. Mamoru, you pick out a nice one." So I did. And mission finally
accomplished, we then agreed to take a stroll to the local park, and get some fresh air. I was very
relieved that the strangely uncomfortable shopping trip was over, and was hoping that now the task
was over, Saori would finally relax, and behave more like herself.


"There she is!" Chibi Usa gloated to herself. "I knew I'd find her here!"

Yes, there was the Moon Princess, still in the plush toy shop, still mooning over which of the
adorable plush toys would have to be finally left behind. "This one..." she muttered to herself, eying
the pony. "On second thought, this one...." she muttered again, looking at the hippo.

A pink ponytailed head suddenly popped up at her elbow, six inches from Usako's ear. "Hey!" she
Usako, understandably, jumped and whirled on her feisty future daughter. "Whaaaaa??? Don't
scare me like that!" she cried.
Chibi Usa hissed at Usako, "If you just keep fooling around picking out toys, Mamoru is going to be
taken away!"
Usako's brow furrowed at this. "Taken away? By whom?"
Chibi Usa looked ready to stamp her foot. "How slow you are! By Saori, of course! How can you
be so blind? Saori is more beautiful, she's more mature, more sexy, and obviously, she's much
smarter than you! So if you think that Mamoru's love will last forever, you're just going to get

"Why, I even wished that Saori could be my mom! I don't like to admit it, but if you and Mamoru
don't get together, I'll never be born! But there you sit, playing around with fuzzy hippos and
ponies, while they go out together! Don't you even feel a little bit uneasy about it?" Chibi Usa
pointed an accusing finger at Usagi.

Usagi paused to consider this idea, and began to feel uncertain. "Mamo-chan, please don't hate
me!" She cried aloud.
"You see what I mean, don't you?" Chibi Usa replied. "So you'd better start acting more

But Usagi suddenly broke into a smile. She told me later that she had remembered all the fun we
had just a few hours before, how relaxed I'd been, how affectionate and teasing, and had confided to
her my true thoughts about my friends, something, she said to me, that I never would have been
comfortable enough to do when we first knew one another. That was true, I had to admit to
her before Usako became a part of my life, I was very solitary, and had never confided my real
feelings to anyone.

"No, he wouldn't!" she sang out confidently, at last. "How could I ever doubt that Mamo-chan
loves me? You don't know anything, Chibi Usa. What I'm really worried about is whether the
hippopotamus or the pony would look better on my dresser. And which would go better with my
decor, do you think?"
Chibi Usa groaned, and looked, if it were possible, even more disgusted. Grabbing Usagi's shirt
impatiently, she dragged her out of the store.


Meanwhile, Seiko and I were sitting in the sunshine, the tie gift-boxed in her hand. She still seemed
uncomfortable, so I decided to try gently drawing her out. I grinned at her and began, "So, do I
know this guy?"
Seiko blushed again.
"I mean, do I know this guy you want to give the tie to?"
"Are you curious about it?" The blue eyes darted over to me, almost hopefully. And still, baka that
I was, the truth didn't dawn on me.
"Kind of, " I smiled at her. "You know, I can't really imagine the type of guy you would fall for,
The smile died on her face. Seiko seemed to draw in on herself. For a moment there, she had been
going to tell me her thoughts. Now, I had obviously said the wrong thing, and no confidences were
going to be forthcoming. I sighed inwardly. No one, it seemed, would ever break through to the Ice
Queen. After all our years of friendship, still, she had her barriers up.
Her voice was chilly. "What do you mean?"
"Gomen nasai (I'm very sorry), Saori-san. Did I say something to offend you?"
"Does it seem so strange to you?" Seiko asked, with a note of sadness in her voice.
"What do you mean? The tie?" I was still totally in the dark.
"No, does it seem so impossible for a woman like me to have feelings for someone?" Saori was
almost in tears at this point and I felt terrible. What an insensitive baka I had been, worse than
Kobayashi. I felt ashamed.
But before I could react, suddenly, there was that "English professor" back again. He was there at
Saori's side before either of us noticed him stealthily approaching.

Tiger Eye, still pretending to be a "lost tourist", accosted Saori with the same question as before.
His English accent still would never fool anyone who had heard real English speakers into thinking
he was anything but Japanese, but it didn't matter this time. He had given up on attracting Saori or
getting her to go to dinner with him this time, he only needed to distract her for a moment.
"Excuse-aa meee. What time eees eet now?" he asked, using exactly the same English words as
before [and I'll bet, one of the only English phrases Tiger-Eye knew].

Seiko looked up, always willing to help, bent down again to check her watch, and replied, "Well...."
And Tiger Eye chortled, again in English, "You are my target!" And then, with a motion of his
arms, the magic mirror appeared and as he counted, "One--Two Three!" handcuffs and ankle cuffs
materialized, and trapped poor Saori against the mirror. While she was thus imprisoned, Tiger Eye
could look into her most cherished dreams within her heart, and see if the Pegasus lay hidden within
those dreams.

Horrified, I cried out to her, "Saori!" Instantly, Tiger Eye spun on his heel, and lashed out at me
with his whip, knocking me to the nearby stairs. Before I could recover, with a flashing wrist
gesture, he hurled at least a dozen throwing knives at me, impaling my clothes from all sides against
the steps. Struggle as I might, I couldn't move I was pinned to the spot, as helpless as Saori, and
couldn't move to transform to Tuxedo Kamen, if I had wanted to. I lay, a helpless and angry
spectator, as Tiger Eye approached Saori.

Now Saori tried something desperate, and brave. She spoke to Tiger Eye as a police officer would,
vainly hoping it would frighten him. "What are you doing?" she cried out sharply, indignantly.
"This is assault!"
"Oh, is it?" Tiger Eye sneered, and leaned in close to her, drooling over his captive. Bound in cuffs
to his mirror, she was no longer a formidable Ice Queen, let alone a future police officer. She was
just a woman, any woman, and his to do as he pleased with, now she was within his power.
"Stop!" she squeaked. "Right now, your charge is a minor one...."
Tiger Eye snickered. "Charge? My lovely one, you're not going to charge me with anything. Now
keep still, and let me see your beautiful dream! Show me, where is Pegasus?" Then he entered her
heart, through the magic of the dream mirror. Saori cried out in agony, and lost consciousness.


"Hey, cut it out, Chibi Usa! Where are you taking me to?" Usako was following in Chibi Usa's
wake, reluctantly. Chibi Usa was following the route which she had seen Saori and I taking earlier,
and arrived at the area of the park where we had been sitting on the steps. [Her fears about my
relationship with Saori, of course, were unwarranted, but in 20-20 hindsight, it's lucky for us that
Chibi Usa did get upset the way she did.]

Tiger Eye raised his head from the unconscious Saori, furious with disappointment. Again, he had
failed to find the Pegasus. "Your cherished dream is a strong one, motivated by your thirst for
justice, but Pegasus is not here. And since you are of no further use to me, alas, my pretty, you must
die." His throwing knives gleamed in his hands. This time, he would throw to kill. He would not
have the satisfaction of seducing her. She, like those other foolish girls, had rejected him. But he
would have the satisfaction of watching her blood slowly spill, marring the perfection of her suit,
covering the gleaming pearls in crimson. Yes, he would enjoy slicing that lovely neck.

Chibi Usa and Usagi, coming on this scene, stopped in their tracks. "It's Mamo-chan and Saori!"
they cried. And with a nod of understanding between them, they both instantly transformed to Sailor
Moon and Chibi Moon, holding their brooches and saying in unison, "Moon Crisis, make-up!"

Tiger Eye held his knives poised to strike. But he turned at the sound of Sailor Moon's voice
shouting, "Stop it right there!" And then pointing at him, she continued, "I can't forgive those who
would make an innocent woman suffer because she chooses to do something strange with her life!"

[Now, minna-san, I know Seiko would not exactly be flattered, to hear her choice to pursue a non-
traditional career for a woman, as a police officer, being described as "something strange." But
given that Sailor Moon was in the process of saving her from being killed, I don't suppose she felt
disposed to quibble about that at the time. Usako does tend to have very traditional ideas herself,
about being a wife and doing domestic things like cooking, even though she's a terrible cook. To
her at the time, Saori's plans must have seemed exotic and adventurous, even strange. I had a little
talk about it with her afterwards. But I digress.]

"We are the agents of love and justice....." Sailor Moon intoned.

"Pretty Sailor Soldiers!" Chibi Moon continued.

"Sailor Moon! And Sailor Chibi Moon! And in the name of the Moon, we'll punish you!"

Saori awoke from her trance, and repeated, woozily, "Sailor Moon?"

Tiger Eye merely smiled at them, and with a gesture, called out his lemure. "Come out, my cute
girl, Balloon Girl, Pooko-chan!" At his words, from out of nowhere, a large blue balloon with a red
stripe down the middle began inflating, and then rose into the air. Its features were oddly feminine,
and it smiled a strange, crazed smile at the others.

"Pook, pook, pooko-chan!" it cried, saying its name like a large, bloated, demented toddler. It
looked around at each of the people there, as if deciding which one looked like the most appealing
toy. Its acquisitive gaze first settled on Sailor Chibi Moon.

While his lemure was selecting a victim, Tiger Eye, as usual, did not stay to fight. After calling out,
"Pooko-chan, take care of them!" his escape portal, looking just like a window blind, materialized.
Then he raised the blind, and disappeared into nothingness, leaving his lemure to battle the two
Sailor Senshi.

No sooner had he gone, than the Balloon Girl came down on Chibi Moon, seeming to hug her, but
actually smothering her beneath the weight of its huge balloon-like body. Sailor Moon screamed her
name, and running forward, tried desperately to pry Pooko-chan off of Chibi Moon. But Pooko-
chan was immovable. Like a malignant Goodyear blimp, Pooko-chan just sat on Chibi Moon,
slowly sucking the breath from her, all the while smiling vacuously. But after a few moments of
fatuous grinning, she seemed to become dissatisfied. "This girl is not beautiful!" she remarked
petulantly. Pooko-chan looked over at the still prone Saori, eying her as if she were a much tastier
dish to squish.

Sailor Moon, not able to do much else, cried out, "Saori, watch out!"

I realized then that Sailor Moon could not stop the lemure alone, and cursed the magic throwing
knives that held me fast. With increasing desperation, I strained and groaned, trying futilely to get
loose from the knives which had me pinned against the steps. The sound of my struggles, however,
diverted Pooko-chan in mid-air, on her way to attack Saori. I saw the Balloon Girl's face
change and I could not mistake *that* look in her eyes. I had seen far too many girls look at me in
just that way, as if I were a very tasty morsel. It generally means that the girl in question is about to
get "close and personal," whether I like it or not.

"Wow!" Pooko-chan cried, in a high-pitched helium squeal. "That man looks MUCH nicer!" And
she dived toward me, intending to pin me under her weight and smother me, in a sick parody of an

For a horrible moment, I shut my eyes and muttered to myself over and over, like a mantra, "Damn,
damn, why couldn't I be ugly?" My eyes were still shut, when I felt a familiar, small warm body
unexpectedly settle itself against me. Unbelievingly, I snapped my eyes open and looked into the
warm, concerned sky-blue eyes of my Usako, shielding me with her own body. And just above her,
looming like an enormous blue blob, pressing down on her, leering at us both, was Pooko-chan.
And I could only lie there, and watch it happen watch that lemure mindlessly enveloping my Usako,
so that her breathing was already laboured. Yet I could hear Usako still struggling, pushing with all
her strength to lift Pooko-chan off of us.

My fear for her turned to helpless fury, and I heard myself scream at her savagely, "Sailor Moon, get
away!" But typical, stubborn, silly, sweet Usako she just ignored me, and went on pushing,
pushing, her face buried in the balloon body, not able to breathe, yet grappling with Pooko-chan

Suddenly, Pooko-chan's expression changed, large tears pouring down her latex cheeks. I marvelled
for a moment can a lemure actually feel compassion? Pooko-chan looked down at Usako, and cried
in amazement, "You're trying to save him by sacrificing yourself! What a beautiful thing to do! So
very beautiful!"

Like all the Amazon Trio's lemures, it seemed that Pooko-chan was fixated on the concept of
"beautiful" and "beautiful dreams," as if they had all been programmed by the Trio to seek for this
quality. Still, I had a strange sick feeling in my stomach, that she did not truly understand the
meanings of these words. She had not moved one centimetre from Usako's face she was still trying
to smother her, all the while that she was weeping so copiously.

Just above me, I felt Usako getting weaker and weaker, her breathing shallower, slower, her
struggles fainter. She was going under any second, I could feel it. Damn it, why won't she leave
me? Usako, I don't want you to die for me please!!

"Damn it, stop it!" I exploded at Usako. Maybe, I thought, if I sound angry, that will startle her into
leaving. It was the only thing I could think of.

Pooko-chan was still crying her strange crocodile tears, and smiling her sick smile. "Don't worry,"
she crooned soothingly to me. "I won't let you be left alone after she does this so beautiful thing.
I'll kill you, right after I finish off the girl." My stomach went cold at her words.

At that moment, the sounds of Usako's struggles to breathe stopped, and I felt her go limp. Horror-
struck, I screamed, "Usako! Usako!" but there was no answer. My sight went black for a moment in
shock. I don't even remember what happened next it's as if the shock of seeing her like that caused
a massive adrenaline surge of strength, and all at once, one of the throwing knives was loose, and in
my hand. And I knew *exactly* what to do with it.

I thrust the knife as hard as I could into the side of the Balloon Girl, and then quickly withdrew it,
praying that she would react just as a balloon does when stuck with a pin. Pooko-chan's eyes went
wide in shock for a moment, then there was a ferocious hiss of air, as the lemure balloon was hurled
skyward, trailing helium gas, and growing smaller and smaller as she spiralled in the air.

Released from the lemure's smothering embrace, Sailor Moon fell into my arms. I wrapped my one
free arm around her tightly, hoping I had not been too late. I was no longer aware of my
surroundings, of what I said, only of the pale little face, unmoving, so close to mine. Anguished, I
called out to her, "Usako! Usako!"

Unnoticed by myself or by the watching Chibi Moon, Saori was sitting up now, and had heard me
say the name, "Usako" to Sailor Moon. She could not have failed to remember that she heard me
call one of my two "girlfriends" by that very name when they visited my apartment. Enlightenment
dawned in her eyes as she watched me bend over Sailor Moon, shaking her gently, trying desperately
to revive her. "Usako....," she repeated quietly to herself. "I see....." At that moment, I did not
even know any other woman on the planet was alive and I think Saori realized that, all at once.

I was still calling her name when Usako's eyes fluttered open. "Usako, are you all right?" I asked,
still anxious. She smiled up at me.

"I'm fine," she replied happily. I continued to support her on my arm while she regained her

But an indignant squeaky voice interrupted this happy little scene. "What did you DO to me?" it
wailed. It was Pooko-chan a Pooko-chan I had to blink to recognize. No longer a distended
balloon shape, the blue balloon girl now had a svelte female shape, and two crossed strips of red
tape, covering the puncture hole in her hip which I had created. From seemingly nowhere, the
lemure had now materialized a bicycle pump, and was furiously trying to pump herself back up to
her normal swollen balloon shape.

Pooko-chan grumbled to herself as she cranked the bicycle pump with her foot. "Damn! This is
such a nuisance!" she muttered. If it hadn't been all so strange, I would have wanted to laugh
hysterically at this scene.

[I must say here, minna-san, that Pooko-chan is probably the only female I've ever heard complain
about being instantly transformed from a blimp shape, to an hourglass figure. But if I talk about this
any more, Usako is going to come in here and bean me with a pillow, so I'll shut up about that now.]

I have to hand it to her Usako then seized the opportunity offered by the lemure's being busy for the
time being, *repairing* herself. She quickly yelled to Chibi Usa, "Chibi Moon! Now's your

Chibi Moon then called on the Pegasus, ringing her bell to summon him. "Please Pegasus, protect
our dreams!" she called. "Twinkle bell!"

Once the Pegasus appeared, Sailor Moon invoked her most powerful attack, "Moon gorgeous

Waves of energy surrounded the balloon lemure. Pooko-chan's last words before she was destroyed,
were the same ones used by all the Amazon Trio's lemures like a circus performer having to end the
act suddenly, she called out, "Stage out!" and disappeared.

Sailor Moon bent over me, and now removed the remaining throwing knives from my clothes, and
helped me to my feet. "Arigatou," I said softly, and I did not let go her hands. I stayed looking at
her for a long moment, wanting to drink in her little rosy face, and she started to blush. At that
moment, I had eyes only for my Usako.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, little Chibi Usa stood by all the time, beaming. And Saori got
quietly to her feet, looked over at the two of us sadly, wistfully, and left without even saying
goodbye and I didn't even realize she had gone.


According to Kobayashi, the next day, he ended up being the flabbergasted recipient of that tie
which Seiko had spent so much time agonizing over choosing. After getting his hysterical letter, and
arranging to meet him at a caf‚ on the campus, he told me the whole story. But I only got it out of
him after I assured him that I had never, never had any designs on Saori, and in fact, now that I
understood the situation, I would put in a good word for him with her.

[Incidentally, I decided to explain to him that Chibi Usa was Usako's little cousin, who had a crush
on me. Well, minna-san, it was easier than trying to tell him the truth, that she was my somewhat
possessive future daughter, who had inherited her mother's tendency to come up with hare-brained,
if well-intentioned schemes.]

Kobayashi looked down at his coffee; it seemed he couldn't meet my eyes for a moment, "Saori-san
bought that tie for *you*, sempai. Are you really telling me you never guessed?" He looked up at
me, challengingly.

I was, at this point, on my third cup of coffee [when in doubt, more caffeine or chocolate, is my
personal philosophy ;-) ] and wondering how long Kobayashi was going to agonize over telling me
what happened. But at his words, I nearly choked on the coffee. The last time I choked on my
coffee like that was when Usako startled me by offering me *something special* for my 18th birthday
present, but let's not get into that, minna-san. SOME things are personal, all right?

"Seiko?" I sputtered. "Seiko? Interested in ME?" I was just so stunned, that I forgot, and THAT
name slipped out.
"WHAT did you call her?" Kobayashi's jaw dropped about 10 feet. He looked at me horror-
stricken for several sweatdropping moments. Then he started to shake all over. For a moment, I
was afraid he was going to explode at this insult to his Goddess, his Saori-san. But then I noticed he
was making hoarse, choked breathing sounds he was laughing! Laughing so hard that he couldn't

He finally slapped the table with the flat of his hand. "Seiko! Seiko! It fits!" and he broke into
high-pitched giggles, at last. We started to talk about Saori then, and all her little idiosyncrasies, in
a way we never had before. I was no longer his "sempai" finally, it seemed, we were buddies. At
the end of the discussion, I could tell that he still loved Saori, but he was no longer in awe of her.
Now, he might approach her, without putting her on a pedestal that I think that Seiko never wanted
in the first place.

Now relaxed, Kobayashi told me a little more of what happened, that day when Saori gave him the
tie she had apparently originally intended for me.

"I asked her why, if she'd bought the tie for you, she was giving it to me, and wasn't she ever going
to tell you her true feelings? And Mamoru-kun, all she did was shake her head at me and smile
mysteriously. God, she drives me *crazy* when she does that!"

I grinned at Kobabayshi yes, I know well that annoying, mysterious, "I-know-something-you-
don't!" smile of Seiko's.

"Then, Mamoru-kun, she said the weirdest thing to me...she said, 'I can't compete with the girl who
is protecting the peace on Earth!' Now what on Earth did she mean by that?" He looked at me
challengingly I was still the "sempai" who knows all, at that moment. And of course, I did know
exactly what Saori had meant, though it made me feel very uneasy. It meant that Saori had found
out that Usako and Sailor Moon were one and the same person. Now she no longer felt worthy of
me. How long had she been nursing that and not let on? No wonder she'd been so sad, and silent,
when we met recently to study together. On thinking it over, I knew Saori would never reveal the
secret if nothing else, out of loyalty for our years of friendship. But for the first time, I saw her not
as perfect "Seiko," success incarnate, but as lonely, withdrawn Saori. Then I remembered that
Kobayashi was still waiting for an answer from me.

"Whoever knows what Seiko is thinking about? Five years I've known her, and she's still a mystery
to me. All I know is, she's always ticking away!" I grinned, and hoped that Kobayashi would now
stop frying his tired little brain cells trying to figure out Saori's secret.

"Ticking, ha, ha ticking!" Kobayashi roared. [All right, minna-san, so it wasn't that brilliant a joke.
But as you may have surmised by now, Kobayashi is easily pleased.]

"But although I never know what's she's thinking, I DO know what Saori-san likes!" I told
Kobayashi. [Well, after five years of friendship, I'd better know, minna-san.] So I spent most of
that evening coaching Kobayashi about Saori's likes, dislikes, and how to impress her and yes, he
took down copious notes Kobayashi has a head like a sieve, minna-san.

Five years later, a miracle occurred. Yes, Usako and I were invited to Saori and Kobayashi's
wedding and Chibi Usa was the flower girl. Well, it seemed only fitting. And yes, minna-san,
Seiko in time became head of our province's police department. But my Usako doesn't want to be a
police officer anymore it seems they have to fill out a lot of long detailed reports, that sometimes
math is involved, and well, you get the picture. All in all, being Queen of Crystal Tokyo is an easier

Gotta go now, minna-san. It seems there's a new plush toy on the market that's the latest craze, and
well, I have some shopping to do...for a certain Odango. Ja ne!