A Sailor Moon fic by Gigi
Disclaimer: Nothing's mine.
Chapter 9: Revelations and Resolutions
A/N: I know, I suck. But here's the second half of chapter 8. I've written at least the next two chapters, so no worries. If I'm delayed in updating it's because I'm too lazy to type it up and not because it isn't written.
Usagi sat down at her desk, her cheeks still pink and Mamoru's roaring laughter still ringing in her ears. "Baka," she mumbled as she slumped down in her seat and tried to avoid notice.
Haruna-sensei walked into the classroom with two students trailing behind her. "Class," she began, drawing everyone's attention to her. "We have two new students today." She pointed to the dark-haired, rather attractive boy standing of a height to her. "This is Sasaki Itachi."
All the girls around Usagi eagerly greeted the new boy. Usagi didn't pay him a second glance, focusing instead on the beautiful blonde girl with cornflower blue eyes standing beside him.
"And this is Aino Minako." Usagi's mind flew back to her dream, conjuring up the image of a five-year-old Vee who beamed at her and looked for all the world like her twin. "They've both just moved back to Tokyo after spending some years abroad, so please make them feel welcome." Minako caught Usagi's eye and winked with a mischievous grin. There was no doubt in her mind that Minako was Sailor Venus—Vee.
When the bell rang for lunch, Usagi rose from her seat and approached Minako, who was still gathering her things. "Aino-san?"
Minako straightened and, with a bright smile, said, "Minako, please."
Yes, that was the same voice. Usagi put on her cheeriest smil and stuck out her hand. "My name is Tsukino Usagi. I was wondering if you wanted to eat lunch with me and a few of my friends."
Recognition sparked in Minajo's eyes as she shook Usagi's hand. "Sure," she accepted. "I'd love to."
As the girls made their way to the cafeteria, Usagi discovered just how similar they were—and in much more ways than appearances. They may have kept their discussion light and insignificant, but Usagi sensed the same refusal to mull over the stresses that came with being a senshi in the other blonde. Minako acted justed as bubbly and carefree as Usagi usually did in public as a way to hide the anxiety and emotional scarring, as a way to momentarily forget that the world's fate depended on finding the Moon Princess, a task insofar unfulfilled.
Despite herself, Usagi enjoyed Minako's company. There was a kindred spirit in the girl who was to replace her as a leader and possibily as a senshi. Maybe it was just the knowledge of how close they were in their past lives, but Usagi felt lighter talking to this newcomer.
Their friendly chatter stopped once they reached the cafeteria, the lunchroom noise a blunt reminder to Usagi that she couldn't avoid the senshi's table anymore. Her eyes fell on the three girls already sitting there, and a bitter taste lingered in her mouth. Rei had betrayed her all over again last night, but Venus' arrival had taken away any power Usagi had to get through to the fiery senshi. Now, she had to grin and bear Rei's derision; she had to be a team player if she wanted any hope of remaining a senshi.
"Girls," Usagi announced her presence at the table. "This is Minako. I invited her to sit with us." She turned to the blonde beside her. "Minako, this is Mizuno Ami, Kino Makoto and Hino Rei," she introduced, studiously avoiding eye contact with the latter.
"It's nice to meet you all," Minako greeted, receiving polite responses from each of the seated girls. When they had all started eating, she confirmed the questions in all their eyes. "Yes, it's me." Her face suddenly grew much more serious. "I trust you've all seen today's paper?"
Usagi's face heated up instantly. Makoto smirked. "You have some explaining to do, Missy," she said, wagging a finger at the redfaced blonde. "Apparently, someone was pretty cozy with Cape Boy last night."
"Nothing happened," Usagi denied. Her cheeks were burning! Bringing her hands up to her face, she muttered out an explanation that seemed dreadfully weak compared to those pictures. "He was hurt and I was helping him."
"Helping him out of his shirt," Rei giggled.
Usagi froze at the playfulness in Rei's voice. It sounded…sincere. She finally looked at the raven-haired priestess and was surprised to find only a friendly expression. Something shone in those violet eyes. Remorse? "Trust me we only talked," she assured her, "no matter what the photo suggests."
It may have just been a trick of the light, but it seemed as if Rei's eyes flashed to black for just an instant. But either way, her demeanor toward Usagi grew infinitely frostier. "It was stupid of you to see him without us there. We still don't know if we can trust him." Usagi flinched at the sharpness of her words.
"This again?" Ami groaned, closing the textbook she'd been attempting to read. "Usagi's known him for longer than we have, and all he's ever done is come to her aid."
Cerulean eyes looked up from the table to see the normally mild and meek Ami standing up for her. In that moment, Usagi had never been so grateful for the bookworm. Maybe this was Ami's way of telling her she trusted her?
Minako concurred, "Last night, he introduced himself to me as her protector. I don't see how that would suggest we can't trust him."
"He's after the same thing we are, and he refuses to tell us why," Rei argued. "If Usagi wasn't always simpering over him like an idiot, maybe she would see how suspicious that is!"
Usagi sighed and went back to poking at her food. Rei's friendliness not two minutes ago must have been a fluke.
Makoto's face fell as she watched Usagi hunch over her food, refusing to even look up for the rest of lunch. Just yesterday, Usagi would have stood up for herself against Rei. Now, it was like all the fight had just bled out of her. As the final lunch bell rang, Makoto resolved to talk to her during their training session. She'd been so strong all this time, even if they'd never seen it. Now was not the time to give up.
After school, Minako and Usagi walked to the main park in silence. Neither of them said a word until they were both seated on a bench overlooking the sparkling lake. Even then, it was a few minutes before Minako spoke.
"I want you to know, first and foremost, that my coming in no way means you have to leave," she said, looking over to the blonde staring out at the lake.
Usagi took a few seconds to respond, but when she did, her voice sounded just slightly hollow. "I have been Sailor Moon for so long, I wouldn't know how to leave," she confessed, "but I don't know if I have a place anymore." Crystal blue eyes blinked rapidly. Her eyes looked very much like pools from the lake whose depths she continued to contemplate.
"Of course, you still have a place here," Minako assured her. "You've had experience leading these girls. You're invaluable to this group, and I would like you to stay second-in-command."
"I've been holding one-on-one training sessions since last week," Usagi declared, neither accepting nor rejecting the offer, "at eleven o'clock at night in the Kids' Park. Tonight is Makoto's turn. Maybe you should take over. You need to see what they can do anyway."
Minako straightened back out to look at the glittering water, since Usagi was determined to avoid eye contact. "I also need to see what you can do. How about I just tag along for the sessions? We can train the girls together."
Usagi bowed her head in acquiescence. "Okay."
"Okay, enough crap already!" Usagi raised her head to see open anger on her lookalike's face.
Fire burned behind Minako's eyes as she berated Usagi. "Stop acting so damn docile! You look and sound like you've given up, and that won't fly as a senshi."
"Don't you think I know that?" Usagi demanded, finally putting some heat into her voice. Minako breathed a small sigh of relief to hear life in those words. "Do you think I enjoy losing my chance at getting Rei to respect me? At getting all the girls to take me seriously as a leader? I messed up by protecting the city at night so that they could sleep, and I thought it was more important to be their friend than their leader. They were going to mutiny, Vee!" She didn't notice how Minako's eyes grew as wide as saucers. "And I was finally making some progress when you showed up and replaced me. Rei got what she wanted, and all I can do now is prove I'm a team player that she can't accuse me of still trying to be the leader."
Usagi was panting from agitation by the time she finished her speech, all but glaring at the girl who looked so much like her. Resentfully, she thought this was part of the Universe's twisted sense of humor: a new and improved Leader of the Senshi.
"You called me Vee," Minako said softly.
"What?" This was definitely not the way she'd expected this conversation to go. Had she really addressed her by the nickname from her dream?
"How do you know that name?" Minako asked, eyeing Usagi almost as if she suspected her of lying.
"Uh…" Usagi didn't know if she wanted to tell her about the dreams, but she didn't want to lie about it. "It just sort of slipped out. I, well, sometimes I get flashes of memories…you know, from the Silver Millenium, and one was of you and me playing in a fountain. We seemed close." She wouldn't bring up the promise, not to mention the other flashes of Vee she saw. Not yet.
Doubt swam in Minako's gaze. "Only a very small number of people called me that."
Usagi read between the lines and her eyes narrowed. "So you remember a lot of your past life then?"
"Bits and pieces ever since I became Sailor Venus," she responded, looking out at the lake. "The main events and anything to do with the princess are all so that I can't see anything, only—"
"Hear and feel everything?" Usagi finished for her.
Minako returned her attention to her companion, stunned. "Exactly."
"It's the same way with me," Usagi confessed. "In fact, the memory of the fountain was the first time I could see anything other than myself and random glowing spheres."
Minako gave Usagi the once over, consideration in her scrutiny. "How old were we?"
Usagi cocked her head to the side at the question. Why did their age matter? "Um, you looked to be around 5."
"I called you Moonie, didn't I?" Excitement crept into Minako's voice, although Usagi still had no idea why as she nodded. A squeal escaped Minako. "We were cousins!"
"We were?" This was certainly news to her.
Minako nodded eagerly. "I remember, we grew up together because we were cousins. Our mothers, I think, were very close."
"Do you know my name?" Usagi asked softly, curiosity nagging at her.
"No. In fact, I don't remember you at all past the age of 10," Minako said, suddenly much more somber. So she didn't know about the promise, or at least its outcome.
Minako bit her lip. "Well, I think I started training to become a senshi once I turned 10. I don't know for sure, but that's when my memories become dark."
Her words served as a stark reminder that Sailor Moon didn't exist, and Usagi couldn't repress the resentment in her words. "So I just got dropped so that you could protect the princess, and now I'm supposed to protect that very same princess. That's rich."
"Usagi, that's not fair. I don't think I had a choice."
Something in Minako's voice—it seemed like true regret for her past self's actions—made the bitterness fly out of Usagi's body. She realized that she had simply transferred the pain of being abandoned by her senshi in this lifetime onto what may or may not have been abandonment by Vee in her past life. Minako was right; she wasn't being fair. She only had limited recollection of her pas, and Minako hadn't done anything to betray her this time around. There was no sane reason not to trust her, not to let her in…and she liked her a lot. Maybe she could find a friend in Minako instead of continuing to push her away.
"I'm sorry," Usagi said, slumping back into her seat. "I shouldn't have taken all my anger out on you. You haven't done anything to deserve it." She stuck her hand out in a peace offering. "Friends?"
A brilliant smile broke onto Minako's face as she enthusiastically shook Usagi's hands. "You betcha, Moonie."
Classical music played quietly in the background as Ami ran her highlighter over a line of text in her history book. To the left of that book sat three other textbooks awaiting her review in preparation for the college entrance exams beginning in but five days. With a sigh, she closed her history book and slid it over to the right, replacing it with her Advanced Biology text. A look at the clock hanging on her wall told her she'd been studying for two hours.
As if seeing the time broke her focus, the soreness and stiffness in her muscles suddenly made themselves known. A small groan fell past her lips when she stretched out her back. She hadn't had the full training session the night before thanks to the battle, but the constant assault of electricity had ravaged her system. With water as her element, she had lost consciousness at least once during the attack, and her muscles were positively shot.
Ami, focused as she was on getting her muscles to relax even just a little, almost missed the urgent beeping that filled the room. When the sound finally penetrated her mind, she turned to her bed, where her Mercury computer sat flashing, signaling it had picked up some negative energy during its hourly scan of the city. She picked up the device and quickly read the results, but they didn't make sense. A puzzled frown came onto her face; the map highlighted the Cherry Hill Temple as the source.
Rei lives there, she thought to herself. Why hasn't she called us for backup yet?
Something didn't fit, though Ami couldn't tell what or how. But she intended to find out.
The Temple was eerily silent once again as Sailor Mercury alighted on the top step of the giant stone stairs leading up to the grounds. A powerful sense of déjà vu swept over her, and this time she knew not to waste her energy searching the various rooms of the Temple. The Prayer Room would be her first and only stop.
She slid open the paper door to the room that housed the Great Fire, and turquoise eyes widened at the sight of a sweaty Rei huddled on the floor, shivering uncontrollably. A pained grunt echoed throughout the room, accompanied by a particularly violent shake. "Go away," came the priestess' demand through gritted teeth. "Get out!"
Her shriek jerked Mercury out of her shock. "No," she denied adamantly. "Not until you tell me what's going on."
Curiously, Rei whipped around in utter surprise to gape at the blue-haired senshi as if she hadn't known she was there. "M-Mercury!" That was all she said before she hugged herself even tighter in the wake of another wave of tremors.
Sailor Mercury, for all her cunning and intelligence, was out of her element. Her computer beeped, and as she pulled it out of her subspace pocket, she saw the source of the negative energy was Hino Rei.
A/N: And the cat's out of the bag! Mercury knows something's up with Rei, so what will she do with this information? Hopefully you'll be nice and stick around for the next chapter to find out. Hopefully you're not too mad at me to review!