-Neptune: Year One-

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is the property of Naoko Takeushi, Toei and Kodansha.

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-XIV-

Goseki ran to his house, with Fujiko following close behind. The two were starting to experiencing painful stomach cramps as they hurried down the sidewalk, the young girl still crying after Zultan forced her and Goseki to eat Professor Tomoe's daemon pods. When they got to the door however, they found it locked.

A brief note explained that they were with Goseki's older brother Hironari and his friend Haruka down at the racetrack today to examine the racecar Haruka's sponsor provided for her. The note also invited Goseki to come up when he got out of school.

"What do we do now?" Fujiko wept.

"I don't know," Goseki groaned out as he clutched the sides of his abdomen. "I'm going to try to make it to the racetrack, though."

"I'm going to go try to make it to my house then," Fujiko whimpered. The two children separated, with the little girl heading towards the more populated area of the suburbs where her parents lived. She wiped the tears from her eyes and ignored the adults asking if she was lost as she walked past a small art gallery along the route.

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"Is this good, Michiru-chan?"

"Hmm?" Michiru asked as she straightened out one of her paintings up on the wall. After her painting had been exhibited on board Kan Shimozawa's private yacht, a prominent art dealer had contacted her about a showing at a small gallery he owned. After obtaining permission from Principal Ichi, Michiru and her roommate were almost done with setup."

"I said, is this good?" Takaiyo asked.

"Oh, yes. That's fine," Michiru responded with a wave of her hand. This was her big break in the art world, but her mind wasn't on any of it. All she could thing about was Haruka, and how the blonde rejected her with the words "stupid, stupid."

"You've changed."

"Huh?" the artist asked as she looked over at Takaiyo.

"You're not the same girl I knew when we first met at the beginning of the semester."

"Oh?"

"You've become distant somehow. There's a coldness about you now Michiru-chan, one that wasn't there before. I..." Takaiyo stopped as she saw Michiru's eyes widen suddenly, as if she'd seen a ghost. The artist gasped and her whole body suddenly seemed to stiffen. "Michiru-chan?"

"The sea is stormy."

Takaiyo looked at her funny. "The sea is what?"

Michiru didn't answer. Instead, she rushed past her schoolmate and out of the gallery. Looking around at the men and women walking around her on the sidewalk, she heard the waves pounding behind her and turned, following the sound down and around the back of a restaurant. The waves roared almost deafeningly as she came upon a small girl curled up into a fetal position on the ground, crying in pain as she held her sides. Michiru quickly looked around as the storm continued to grow, but could see no youma or daemon nearby.

"Help me," the girl cried as she saw Michiru. She was about to say more, when suddenly a thick black cloud surrounded her, the girl screaming as she transformed into a huge dark blue tarantula, venom dripping from its razer sharp fangs.

Michiru immediately pulled her henshin wand out. "Neptune planet power, make up!" A second later, Sailor Neptune stood before the daemon, crouched down in a fighting stance.

"Help... me..." a voice cried out into Michiru's consciousness as she saw an image of the child within the daemon.

Sailor Neptune's eyes widened. This wasn't simply another inanimate object brought to life. This was a little girl who'd been turned into some sort of monster. The thing lunged at her, hoping to take advantage of the Senshi's momentary indecision. Neptune's quick reflexes allowed her to get out of the way in time, but as she landed the daemon shot webbing out, trapping her in place from the waist down.

Sailor Neptune looked down at her lower torso now completely covered with sticky webbing. She turned her attention quickly back to the tarantula hissing at her as it began to bear its fangs. The Senshi realized that if she didn't end this now, not only would she herself end up dead, but that the youma would very probably go on to kill others as well.

"Forgive me," she whispered as she raised her arms up above her head, energy flowing and swelling up within her as she did so. "Deep Submerge!"

The blast hit the daemon full on, causing it to roar in pain before turning back into a girl. As she fell unconscious to the ground, the pod rose out of her body and crumbled to dust. The webbing disappeared and Sailor Neptune quickly picked the girl up, thankful to find a pulse. As the girl started to stir, the Senshi released her transformation and was once more Michiru Kaioh.

"Are you okay?" she asked gently.

"Mmm," the girl muttered as she opened her eyes. "I'm okay I guess."

"Do you remember what happened?"

The girl nodded. "There was a bad lady with blue hair and a gold watch."

"Blue hair," Michiru repeated as she narrowed her eyes, "Zultan..."

"She made us look at her watch, then eat these nasty cookies that made us sick."

"Us?" Michiru suddenly asked in alarm.

"Me and my friend Goseki," she answered, "I was on my way to my parent's house, and he was heading for the racetrack to find his brother Hironari and Hironari's friend Haruka."

Michiru's heart began to race in panic. "Are you going to be alright?" She asked as she put the girl down. Fujiko nodded yes, and Michiru turned and rushed off.

-0-0-0-

Haruka finished looking over her sponsor's new car. She excused herself from her new pit crew as well as her new sponsor in order to go into the changing room in the back of one of the out of the way garages along pit row. She chose that particular dressing room for both its privacy and because it was one of the larger ones here at the racetrack. She was wearing her new red racing uniform with her sponsor's name on it, and she was carrying her helmet over her shoulder. As she entered the garage though, she thought she saw someone crouched down in the back corner of the garage. "Is someone there?"

Goseki turned to Haruka, his face contorted in pain. "Help me."

"What's wrong?" Haruka asked in alarm. She tossed her helmet aside as she knelt down and put a hand on Goseki's shoulder. "Are you alright?"

"Help me..." he pleaded once more. He then let out a scream as black smoke surrounded him. In his place was a huge purplish-black creature that almost looked like a gigantic worm, with large razor-sharp teeth jutting out of its mouth. It reared up, slime glistening from its body.

Haruka stepped back in shock. "You... Monster!" she yelled as she quickly grabbed a tire iron and prepared to fight the thing.

"Help me..." a voice called out weakly. Goseki's image shone briefly before once more disappearing into the monster. Haruka froze, and the thing attacked, knocking the blonde back and the tire iron out of her hands. It reared back to strike again, ready for the kill. Haruka gritted her teeth in preparation, when suddenly a shining gold light appeared between the racer and the daemon. As Haruka watched in amazement, a wand materialized within the light, floating between her and the youma. She began to reach for it.

"Don't do it!" a voice called over. Haruka pulled her hand back and the wand fell to the floor and rolled away from her. "Don't grab that." The racer turned around to see Michiru standing in the doorway of the garage. She was leaning with her back up against the entrance as she caught her breath after rushing over to the race course.

"Once you grab a hold of it," Michiru warned, "You can never again return to mundane life."

Then, as Haruka watched in awe, she held her wand aloft and transformed once more into Sailor Neptune.

For a brief half-a-second, Haruka became once more aware of the scent of roses and the distant sound of music.

Then, the daemon roared, reminding Haruka that she was still in danger.

The thing lunged at Neptune. The Senshi struck it, sending it hurtling into the wall where it crashed into a shelving unit and sent tools flying everywhere. The shelving unit landed hard on the daemon, sending a cloud of dust up into the air as Sailor Neptune started to come towards it once more.

Haruka had seen enough though. "You can't" she shouted as she placed herself between Neptune and the Daemon, "He was human until just a few minutes ago!" She clenched her fists as she met the other girl's eyes. "Are you alright doing this?" she demanded, "This is murder!"

Michiru narrowed her eyes. "The silence is approaching," she said, trying to make Haruka understand the stakes that were involved. "If I don't do this, there will be even more victims."

Haruka shook her head in disbelief. "Are you saying that's why you don't care how you accomplish it?"

Michiru took a deep breath. "That's right," she said as she started once more to come forward, "I don't care what means I use."

Haruka couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Are you really satisfied..." her voice died off as, with a loud crash, the youma reared up, sending the shelving unit flying as it bore its teeth with a loud roar.

What happened next seemed to happen in slow motion for Haruka. She turned her head to look over her shoulder as the daemon sprang forward, ready for the kill. There was no possibility of escape for the blonde, when suddenly she felt a pair of arms wrap around her like a vice and almost knock the wind out of her as she was pushed out of harms way to the ground. "Look out!" Neptune yelled just before she cried out in pain.

Haruka landed hard on her back, with Sailor Neptune on top of her. Neptune could feel a sharp, agonizing pain in her back and along the bicep and tricep of her left arm as she looked back at the monster. While Haruka tried to catch her breath after the wind had been knocked out of her, Neptune painfully forced herself up to her feet. The daemon roared and prepared for it's next attack as the Senshi raised her arms above her head.

"Deep Submerge!"

In a blinding flash of sea green light, the daemon dissolved back into Goseki. The boy fell unconscious to the floor as Sailor Neptune sank to her knees. She could feel the back of her fuku beginning to become wet with her blood, the wounds in her left upper arm sending long winding rivulets of scarlet down her elbow and past her wrist, where they began to slowly drip from her gloved hand to the garage floor. She started to collapse, but suddenly felt Haruka's strong arms wrapped around her. Grimacing in pain, she looked up into the blonde's teal eyes. "Where's the monster?" she asked weakly.

"He turned back into a human," Haruka answered, trying to keep her voice steady as her outfit became stained with Neptune's blood. "He's all right."

Sailor Neptune turned with a look of concern towards the young boy. "I might have killed him," she said, her voice trembling a bit as she watched the child's chest rise and fall with each breath. "No, next time I'm sure I'll kill." She briefly glanced back up to Haruka before looking back over to the child. "It's not that I'm fine with it," she revealed, "But I am a Senshi... Because I chose to do this..."

"Then why did you cover for me just now?" Haruka asked as she felt Neptune begin to shiver in her arms. She grabbed the Senshi's left wrist and held it up, blood dripping from the arm's wounds, "If you hurt your hand, you won't be able to become a violinist."

Neptune looked up at Haruka once more and managed a smile. "I didn't investigate you because you were the other Senshi," she said weakly. If all she's wanted was information on her as a Senshi, she could've very easily have gotten that from Pluto. "It goes back much further than when I realized you were the one, back when you were just a voice in my dreams. I was watching you in your first auto race from close by, when you made your time trials. I wanted to cruise along the beach in your car... just once..."

"You don't rely on anyone at all," she continued, her smile widening a bit as she continued, "And you are always honest with your feelings."

Haruka looked down at Sailor Neptune, her feelings in turmoil as she gazed at the beautiful Senshi in her arms. As Neptune's breathing became a bit more shallow and her blood began to pool in the folds of Haruka's racing uniform, the blonde shook her head. "I'm not honest at all," she said bitterly as she found herself holding the Senshi closer, "I keep running away."

"I know more about you than you do," Sailor Neptune responded, her eyes starting to water up as Haruka began to appear a bit out of focus, "Because I've been watching you for the last few months, always in the shadows. You were the one person I didn't want to see walking the same path that I did, to know the pain and hardships that came with being a Senshi. But... When I finally saw you and realized you were the one... I was so happy..." Sailor Neptune grimaced in pain once more, closing her eyes tightly as tears began to run down her cheeks. "Gomen... I didn't mean to tell you all this... Gomen..." she whispered before her eyes fluttered a bit and she passed out.

Haruka was speechless. She looked from Sailor Neptune to the wand lying on the floor of the garage. Goseki began to moan. Haruka realized that if she was going to do something, it would have to be soon before the boy recovered. She picked up the unconscious Senshi and quickly went over to the henshin wand. She held Neptune close as she squatted down and picked the wand up. She put it in her pocket and rushed into the dressing room in the back. The dressing room was complete with a deluxe first-aid kit complete with bandages and medicinals for the treatment of burn victims, as well as gauze and medicine that promoted blood clotting in case of nasty crash-related wounds. Haruka set Sailor Neptune down on one of the benches and immediately began to undress. After retrieving her wand from her pocket and carefully setting it down next to Neptune, she tossed her bloody outfit into a nearby trash can and ran out into the garage.

Goseki slowly opened his eyes and saw Haruka crouched down on the floor cleaning something up with a shop rag in her bra and panties. The sight immediately brought him to. "Haruka?"

"Tell you what," Haruka said over her shoulder as she finished cleaning Neptune's blood off the floor, "You don't tell anyone about this, and I won't tell anyone about that hentai your brother found underneath your mattress. Deal?"

A thousand and one questions arose in the boys mind, all of them were silenced by the image of what his mom and dad would do if they found out about the hentai. "Deal."

"Good," Haruka said, "Now go, and shut the garage door behind you."

As Goseki shut the door behind him, Haruka ran back into the dressing room. Unconscious, Sailor Neptune had de-transformed back into Michiru. Haruka threw the rag she'd used to pick up the blood away, then threw a nearby newspaper in to cover the evidence of what was in the trash can. She then returned to Michiru. After making sure she was still breathing, Haruka began to undress her in order to tend to her wounds.

-To Be Continued-

End Notes: I realize I deviated just a tad from the original dialogue this time around, but hopefully that will be forgiven and won't take too much away from enjoying the story.