It's been a very, very long time since I've written anything... lol. I'm extremely out of practice, but I hope it's not too bad!!
"Mamo-chan... can I ask you something?"
Chiba Mamoru looked over the top of his book at his girlfriend. She was leaning against the chair he was sitting in, tapping a pencil to her lips as she looked out his balcony doors. He looked down at the notebook in her lap and knew she hadn't done a single homework question. Smiling slightly, he closed his book momentarily.
"Do you need help with your homework, Usako?" He leaned down to look over her shoulder. She was still working on the first question. It was correct so far, but perhaps she'd gotten stuck at this point?
Tsukino Usagi rolled her eyes and shut the notebook, twisting around so she faced him. "No, it's okay. I haven't really been paying much attention to it."
Mamoru felt a bead of sweat forming at the crown of his head. "You've... been.... daydreaming for the past hour?"
She cleared her throat. "Er... anyways. I have a question for you... but you have to be completely honest and give me an answer!"
He felt a strange sense of dread, both from her words and the determined look in her eyes. "Alright..."
"If something happened to me and you had to choose another one of the senshi to marry, who would you choose?"
Mamoru's eyes nearly tripled in size. "Wh-what?!"
Usagi crossed her arms and repeated her question. "Who would you choose?"
"Usako, that's a ridiculous question!"
"I want to know, though. And you promised to answer the question."
"You've been thinking about this instead of doing your homework?!"
"You're avoiding, Mamo-chan..."
"Because I think it's an absurd notion to think of!"
"You promised. You will give me an answer, Mamo-chan!" Usagi clenched her fist, staring up at him.
Mamoru sighed and ran a hand through his hair, mumbling. "Unbelievable..." He looked down and saw Usagi still waiting expectantly, one of her eyebrows raised slightly. "You cannot get angry if I answer this. You asked."
"I asked." She nodded.
Sighing again, he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. "Probably Ami-chan."
A few seconds passed and he opened one eye, daring to peek at her and expecting an outburst at any moment. She sat completely still; her lips were pursed together slightly and her eyes stared at the carpet.
The silence continued until it almost became unbearable. Mamoru started to sweat, thinking of what the wisest course of action would be next. Drop to his knees in front of her and beg profusely for forgiveness for even thinking of answering such a silly question? He was just about ready to do just that when Usagi interrupted his thoughts.
He opened both eyes and looked at her. She was looking at him, her face completely blank and unreadable.
He cleared his throat. "I suppose it's because we have so much in common and we get along very well."
"And the others? Why not any of them?"
He watched her face, wondering why she kept pressing this. Nothing in her eyes suggested anger, but it was incredibly strange how calm she was. Usually, she became very jealous over the mention of any girl. He pondered her question for a moment before answering.
"Well... Rei-chan is very focused on a future career... and her temper is terrifying at times. Minako-chan is a sweet girl but she's forever giving quotes and they're always wrong. I'd have a hard time keeping up with figuring out what she means. Mako-chan can cook very well and I love her homemade chocolates, but who knows. I'd probably be the only guy not to remind of her of the upperclassman that broke her heart." He laughed softly and looked to her for some sign of a smile, but there was nothing there. He frowned.
Usagi nodded slowly. "What about Setsuna-san? Michiru-san and Haruka-san?"
He sighed, very tired of talking about it. "Setsuna-san is forever bound to the time gates, although I do enjoy my conversations with her. And... uh... do you really have to ask about Michiru-san and Haruka-san?"
The corner of Usagi's mouth quirked for a second. "No, I suppose not."
"Now are you finished with this? It's incredibly silly and completely pointless." Mamoru shook his head and stood up. He looked down at her and smiled. "Would you like to go out for dinner or would you rather stay here and I cook for you?"
Usagi stared at the carpet. "Actually, I promised Mama I would come home for dinner tonight. I had dinner with the girls last night and with you the night before. She says she rarely even sees me anymore and that Papa's been complaining as well." She stood, smoothing out her wrinkled skirt and stretching her legs.
Mamoru watched her for a moment. She still looked away from him, her head bowed slightly.
"What aren't you telling me, Usako? Now you won't even look at me. What's the matter?"
She turned and gave him a shaky smile, never looking completely up at him. "Nothing's the matter, Mamo-chan. I really just do have to go for Mama's sake. She's a bit lonely since Chibiusa went home, and she doesn't even remember Chibi Chibi anymore. I'm the only little girl she has left, and I'm not even a little girl anymore. I won't be at home for much longer, either." She had walked to the door and slipped out of her slippers and into her shoes. He had followed her and was now watching her put her coat on.
She reached up and pecked his cheek. "Don't worry. Call me tomorrow? Good night, Mamo-chan."
Mamoru watched her leave, shutting the door softly behind her. He was sorely tempted to run after her and hold her until she told him what was wrong... but he had a feeling no amount of prompting from him would help.
Instead he leaned against the back of the door and contemplated the strangeness of the afternoon. She had seemed fine when she arrived, promising him she would finish her homework after kissing him hello, and then she had opened her notebook while he read...
What had happened in the single hour from that time? Why hadn't he looked up sooner and noticed she was staring off like that?
He sighed and walked back into the living room, noticing Usagi's notebook lying on the floor still. She had left it without even thinking. He frowned. Her mind had been too full of that... question. What on Earth had put that question in Usagi's head in the first place? She was the only one for him, and she knew that... so why would she even ask?
"Mama! I'm home!" Usagi yelled down the hallway as she entered the front door and slipped her shoes off. "Mama?"
"In the kitchen, dear!"
Usagi smiled a little sadly when she sniffed the air. Her mother really was going through a lot of trouble, it seemed...
"Mmm, smells delicious." Usagi complimented. "What are you making?" Her mother was standing at the stove, frying meat in a pan as Usagi walked in.
Tsukino Ikuko turned around, smiling and pointing to a sheet of stationary paper clipped to the refrigerator. Usagi recognized Chibiusa's script. "It's a recipe Chibiusa-chan gave me. She said it was one of her favorites from home. She had commented that she wanted to try making it with me one day, but then..." Her eyes shimmered with sadness. "Then she had to go home, so we never go to." She wiped her eyes on the corner of her apron, drying the few tears that had brimmed to the surface. "Well. I thought I would make it anyways. It's a meat dish. An Italian one... that's what I believe Chibiusa said. It's called lasagna and really does sound delicious. It's nice to think of our family. Even if it's just by making a dish that reminds you of them." She smiled again and turned back to the stove. "I'm glad you're home, Usagi-chan. Did you have a nice afternoon studying at Mamoru-san's?"
Usagi nodded, sitting at the kitchen table. "Yes, it was nice..."
"Did you get your homework done?"
"Um..." Usagi gasped. "Oh, no! I left my notebook at Mamo-chan's!"
Ikuko glanced over her shoulder, noticing Usagi's miserable look. She chuckled. "Usually you'd be thrilled to have a reason to go to Mamoru-san's again. Is everything alright with you two?"
"Mmm, yes." Usagi nodded and started to trace the pattern in the wood on the table.
Her mother frowned slightly. "You didn't have a fight, did you?"
"Good..." Ikuko emptied the meat into a plate and started rummaging in the cabinets. "Would you like to help me?" She glanced at Usagi quickly. Something was bothering her. She just couldn't tell what. Mamoru? School? Her friends?
Usagi cringed, sweat forming on her brow. She and cooking did not mix well. The memory of the last time she tried to help Makoto cook was etched in her mind... and on her favorite blue sweater... which she had to throw out because of the huge burnt hole in the middle. "Err.. no thank you, Mama. I'll just go... freshen up and find Luna before dinner."
"Alright, dear. I'll call you when it's ready."
"Okay." Usagi rushed out of the room and up the stairs. She gasped for breath when she reached her room and shut the door. "Cooking, no!"
Luna peered up at her from the bed, lifting her head and yawning. "Who in their right mind would ask you to cook, Usagi-chan?"
Usagi squared her shoulders, crossed her arms, and spun her head to the side away from Luna. "Hmph. For your information, Mama asked me if I wanted to help her. At least she has faith in me."
The black cat blinked. "She... did?"
"Yes!" Usagi went to the chest of drawers and pulled her shirt off her head, tossing it on the floor.
"Well..." Luna found nothing to say. She cleared her throat. "What's for dinner?"
"Something called lasagna. Don't worry; I'm not hungry so I'll give you mine."
Luna turned white. "Y-y-you're not hungry?!"
Usagi bit her lip. "I ate dinner at Mamo-chan's." She turned her head away so Luna wouldn't see the lie in her eyes.
Luna sighed, shaking her head in exasperation. "Just couldn't wait. Silly Usagi-chan."
The blonde girl abruptly changed the subject. "Luna, you have to promise me that you will claw my face off tomorrow if you have to to wake me up extra early. I left my notebook at Mamo-chan's and I need to go by before school tomorrow and get it before he leaves for work." She pulled on a clean pink T-shirt.
Luna stretched and jumped off the bed. "Why don't I just run over there tonight and get it? Or why don't you just go yourself? Your mother wouldn't mind if you told her."
"No, I know. I've just been there all day. You... would go?"
Luna's eyes widened. When did Usagi ever not want to see Mamoru? "Yes.... I suppose I would..."
"That would be wonderful, Luna! It's not a heavy notebook, so it shouldn't hurt you to carry it..."
Luna's eye twitched as she watched Usagi leave the room, seeming incredibly relieved. "Relieved?! Not to be going to Mamoru-san's? What is going on with that girl now?" She grumbled and hopped out the window and on the balcony ledge. She leaped over to the closest tree and down the branches till she was on the ground, then started running towards Mamoru's. Maybe they had a fight. She thought. I'll just have to ask Mamoru-san.
Luna arrived at Mamoru's in under fifteen minutes, having run the entire way. She looked up at the building and waited for someone to open the building door for her to slip through. She just didn't seem big enough to set off the sliding door sensors. She huffed. So annoying to be a cat!
In a few minutes, someone did walk through and Luna ran through and headed for the stairs. Sitting in an elevator would definitely raise questions. She almost laughed. Most humans who weren't the senshi often noticed how odd she acted for a cat. Only the senshi didn't give it a second thought anymore.
Seven flights up, she was exhausted and glad to finally be at Mamoru's floor. She trudged down the hall and sat in front of his door. She let out a deep breath of air. Oh, it's so much easier to just climb up a tree and go through a window. If only Mamoru-san didn't live this high up...
She started meowing and scratching at the door. Come on, Mamoru-san, I can't exactly yell! Someone might hear! And I really don't want to claw up your front door!
Finally Mamoru came to the door and cracked it open, looking down. "Luna?"
She snuck through the opening, expectantly waiting for him to shut the door. When he did, she let out a sigh of relief. "Finally. What took you so long? I've been out there for at least twenty minutes."
Mamoru scratched his head. "I was in my bedroom. I didn't hear."
Luna grumbled to herself and headed toward the living room. "Well, I'm mostly just here to get Usagi-chan's notebook. She said she left it here."
"Yes, it's on the coffee table. Are you sure you can carry that all the way back by yourself?"
"Yes, I'm sure." Luna found the notebook but turned to Mamoru, who stood several feet behind her, instead of picking it up. "Mamoru-san, is everything alright between you and Usagi-chan? She's acting very strangely. Did you have a fight?"
"To you, too? Yes, I know... no, we didn't have a fight really, but... she was acting extremely strange to me as well. She asked me the most absurd question..." Mamoru sat in the chair in front of the coffee table, looking down at the cat on the floor.
"She asked me if she wasn't around, and if I had to pick one, which of the senshi I would choose to marry."
Luna blanched. "What? That's insane!"
"I know. And I tried to ask her why on earth she would want to know, and that it was incredibly ridiculous, but she insisted."
"Please tell me you didn't pick one."
Mamoru started to say something but closed his mouth. He looked and Luna and nodded sadly.
Luna fell over and shook her head violently. "Mamoru-san!! Are you insane? Are you literally insane!? That is the absolute worst thing you could have done!"
"She forced me to, Luna! I had no way out; she said she had to know and would have an answer out of me."
Luna sighed. "Who did you tell her so I'll know who to guard?"
"Not poor, sweet little Ami-chan! Do you really hate her that much, Mamoru-san?! Usagi-chan will kill her!" Luna's eyes turned huge and started streaming waterfalls of tears. "How could you?!"
"You don't understand, Luna. Usagi acted... blank. Unaffected. No jealousy, no screaming, no anger. Nothing. That's what's so strange... she's usually incredibly jealous and would go after Ami-chan. But she acted... very calm." Mamoru turned his head, crossed his arms, and frowned. "It's like she didn't care at all."
Luna looked up at him. Her eyes grew soft at the worry in his. "Mamoru-san, I'm sure it's not that at all. I'll find out, don't worry."
"I am worried, Luna. Usako never does this. She always talks to me and tells me if anything is bothering her." Mamoru sighed and leaned back. "Just please watch her very carefully for me."
Luna meowed and smiled. "I will!" She grabbed the notebook in her mouth and nodded at Mamoru. He got up and opened the door for her and watched her run down the hall and through the stairwell. Well, that's certainly going to make a scene down the streets. A cat running with a notebook. Why didn't Usako just come get it herself? I would have brought it to her before school tomorrow morning...
"Ohhhhhhhhhhh!" Usagi screamed and she raced down the sidewalk to school. "I thought I told you to wake me up early, Luna!"
"I did! I tried countless times! You were more dead asleep today than you even usually are!"
"But I'm still laaaate!" She whined.
Seems normal enough now. Luna thought.
Usagi and Luna rounded the corner and Usagi smashed headlong into something hard. She fell over backwards and hit her backside on the pavement.
Luna cringed and closed her eyes tightly, expecting the wailing to begin. When it didn't, she peeked one eye over at Usagi.
The girl was collecting her school and lunch bags and getting up, rubbing her back. "Owww."
Luna opened both eyes and looked around. Usagi had run straight into a telephone pole that was situated on the corner of the sidewalk. She had been looking down, and without noticing, smashed into it.
Luna watched the girl as she continued to walk, slowly this time and holding her back. The cat sat blinking, wondering... where were the tears? The outburst? The screaming?
She picked her paws up and followed after Usagi, wondering just what was going on with the girl.
Makoto looked around, trying to spot Minako, Ami, and Usagi. She'd prepared a large lunch as usual, in case Ami was too busy studying to make one or if Usagi or Minako forgot as they were prone to doing.
She finally noticed Ami leaving the science building, book under one arm and lunch bag under the other. One down, two to go. Least she remembered lunch.
Out of the gym came Minako, skipping with a bright orange bag at her side. One more remembered lunch! If Usagi brings hers too... it'll be a new record! But that'll never happen!
Makoto looked back toward the building Usagi's class was. The rest of the class was leaving the room and usually Usagi was the first one out, running as fast as she could towards freedom. Makoto's eyes widened when Usagi was the last one, carrying her lunch bag and stepping around everyone slowly when usually she just plowed straight through. Odd. And she brought her lunch too. She looked down at the large lunch. What am I going to do with all this? Maybe Usagi-chan will help eat it anyways. A bead of sweat appeared on the top of her head. Yeah. She usually does anyways.
The girls all congregated under the tree Makoto was sitting.
"Afternoon, Mako-chan!" Minako sang, plopping beside the girl.
Ami sat down as well, putting her lunch down and flipping the page of her book. "Just one moment and I'll be finished with this chapter..." She mumbled.
Usagi sat between Minako and Ami to complete the square. "Hi, guys."
Makoto tilted her head to the side and squinted her eyes at Usagi. "Usagi-chan, is something the matter?"
Usagi grinned slightly. "A bit bruised from running into a telephone pole this morning, but otherwise I'm alright."
The other girls cringed. "Oooh."
Luna hopped down from the tree into the middle of their circle. "She didn't cry."
Minako looked up to see Artemis jump down as well. "Hi Artemis! How'd you guys get here?" She bubbled.
Artemis sighed exasperatedly. "We're cats, Minako-chan. We climb trees."
Luna turned the conversation back to herself. "Usagi-chan didn't cry. Or wail. Or scream. Or anything. When she fell. And she fell really hard."
"Luna, drop it." Usagi mumbled.
The others all looked at Usagi.
"Wow... I'm proud of you, Usagi-chan." Makoto said, smiling.
"Yes, Usagi-chan. You're doing so well." Ami agreed.
Luna blinked. "You don't think it's... odd?"
Minako patted Luna on the head. "It just shows how far Usagi-chan has come, Luna!"
Luna grumbled and her ears dropped. "You all don't know the half of it."
Makoto opened her lunch. "Usagi-chan, I brought extra if you want some of mine."
"No, thanks, Mako-chan. I'm not hungry."
Ami's head snapped up. Minako's eyes widened. Makoto's mouth dropped.
"Okay. Now something is definitely going on." Makoto narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
Ami and Minako agreed, both nodding their heads furiously.
Luna sighed, a puff leaving her mouth. "Thank you!"
Usagi looked down, her eye twitching furiously underneath a shaking brow. "All of you. Stop it. I am completely fine. Now, can you all just drop it? I mean it."
The girls all looked at her worriedly. Usagi never got seriously angry. Angry at Rei or Chibiusa or temper flares, yes, but... while being serious?
Minako poked a rice cake in her mouth and chewed woodenly, glancing at Makoto, who took a bite of fried shrimp and blinked back.
Ami looked down at her book and munched on a sandwich, concentrating very hard on the words.
"Ami-chan, may I ask you something?"
Ami looked up and saw Usagi staring at her. She swallowed her bite of sandwich. "Yes, Usagi-chan?"
"If I weren't around, would you ever want to date Mamo-chan?"
Minako choked. Makoto dropped the fried shrimp in her hand. Artemis and Luna both blanched... which was difficult for Artemis, as he was white to begin with.
Ami just stared back, her mouth dropping open slightly and her hand holding a sandwich.
Usagi's unopened lunch sat in front of her, and her hands grasped her skirt in a fist. Her eyes watched Ami, open and serious. "If I wasn't here, would you?"
"Well... I... um, well you see I... I..." Ami stumbled, the sandwich dropping out of her hand onto her lap.
Luna jumped up. "Don't answer that, Ami-chan!"
Usagi turned a furious gaze on Luna. "Stay out of it! I asked Ami-chan, not you!"
Luna hissed. "You asked Mamoru-san the same thing! Why would you ask him to choose a senshi to marry other than you? And then attack Ami-chan asking if she would date Mamoru-san? It's preposterous and ludicrous! There is no basis for you asking such a question and unless you can give us all a solid answer right here and now, then Ami-chan will not answer your question!" Luna turned her gaze on Ami. "You will not answer, Ami-chan!"
Ami nodded dumbly, not sure what was going on.
"You asked Mamoru-san to choose a senshi to marry if you weren't around?" Makoto squeaked.
"Why would you do that, Usagi-chan?" Minako started to reach out to her friend, who pulled away.
Artemis rubbed a paw to his head. "Why would Mamoru-san even answer that?"
"Because Usagi-chan forced an answer out of him, Artemis." Luna said, watching Usagi's face grow darker with each comment. "Fess up, Usagi-chan. What's going on?"
Usagi raised her eyes and everyone saw how angry she was. "Nothing."
She rose, leaving her lunch bag sitting on the ground, and walked away.
"And then she just left. None of us have seen her since. I called her house and her mother said she hasn't been home, either. I asked her teacher and she said she never went to her next class. She just left." Minako told Mamoru and Rei, who both turned completely white as well as the rest of the group.
They all sat in the Crown Fruit Parlor in their usual corner booth. After school, the girls had called an emergency meeting, including Mamoru. Now the group all sat around the table discussing the situation.
Ami blushed every time she even glanced in Mamoru's direction. She still didn't understand why Usagi had singled her out of the group of girls...
Mamoru sighed and leaned his elbows on the table, head in his hands. "And she's not answering her communicator?"
Makoto shook her head. "We've all tried. She won't speak to any of us."
He flinched. "Usako..."
Rei tapped her fingers on the table. "I say the only thing we can do is split up and search for her. If she's not answering, then we have to find her ourselves. If we transform, the bond might be stronger. Especially to you, Mamoru-san."
"I usually only feel the bond if she's in danger..." He murmured, his eyes closed.
"It's worth a chance, though, isn't it?"
He looked up at Rei. She smiled and put a hand on his shoulder. "I know you're very worried, Mamoru-san. We all are. You don't have to be alone in this, you know."
He smiled at her and nodded. "Thanks, Rei-chan."
Makoto and Minako both slid out of their side of the booth. "Let's get going." Makoto said.
Ami slid out of the back corner of the booth, following the other two. Luna and Artemis hopped under the table over to meet them, while Mamoru and Rei also stood up.
They all nodded together and started to plan their routes.
Sailor Mercury tapped furiously at her computer, her visor scanning the landscape for any sign of a long, blonde haired-girl. "I don't know how she's not showing up. Usually it's very easy for me to find any of our markings. The computer knows each of us by previous contact and has saved the information. This is very unusual."
"Do you think it may be because Usagi isn't Sailor Moon at the moment?" Sailor Venus asked, looking over the blue haired girl's shoulder.
"Perhaps..." Mercury murmured, still concentrating on the readings. "That may make some difference, but I don't believe it would mark her out completely. It may make the signal weaker, but... gone?"
"It's like she's not even herself anymore." Venus stepped to the edge of the tall building they were standing on. She leaned down and placed her hands on her knees, her eyes scanning the town for any sign of two buns of hair.
"That's a very scary thought." Mercury shut off the visor and clapped the computer shut. "These aren't helping."
Sailor Mars leaped up on the roof of the Tsukino house and peered over the backyard. No sign. She closed her eyes and tried to focus her thoughts to pinpoint Usagi's energy. After several minutes of quiet concentration, she felt nothing.
"Anything?" Sailor Jupiter yelled, staring up at her fellow senshi from her spot on the ground, hands on her hips.
Mars shook her head. "I don't feel any of Usagi-chan's energy here. Let's keep going. Her parents weren't covering for her. She really hasn't been home at all today."
Mars jumped down to join Jupiter on the ground. "Let's check the parks, schoolyards, and Naru-chan's. I doubt she would go there, but any possibility is a grain of hope."
They took off running, dashing as fast as their legs and hearts would let them.
Tuxedo Kamen stood at the edge of the harbors, gazing out at the water.
"You feel no pull whatsoever?"
He turned and looked back at Luna and Artemis, shaking his head. "No, Artemis. Not a single tug. She's safe, at least."
Luna sat on her haunches, staring seriously ahead. "Think like Usagi-chan. We have to think like her if we're ever going to find where she might have gone."
Artemis looked up. "We're doomed. She thinks like no one else."
Tuxedo Kamen sighed. "I should be able to know her well enough to know where she went."
"She's not home, she's not at the arcade, she's not at school, she not at the shrine, and she defintely wasn't at the fruit parlor with us." Luna said. "Those are the places she goes. There's no way you could know any different."
His eyes suddenly flashed. "Are you sure you checked everywhere she goes?"
Artemis puzzled. "Yes, all of her hang-outs..."
"Not all of them. I think I know where she went." He started running away from the cats and harbor.
"Tuxedo Kamen-sama!" Luna yelled. "Wait!"
They started to run after him to no avail. He leapt up and over a series of buildings before they could catch up.
The two stood there and looked quizzically at each other.
"Maybe it's for the best that just he goes."
Luna sighed. "You're right, Artemis. He has a better chance of getting her to talk to him than the rest of us do."
"Let's find the other senshi."
Usagi flipped the channel on the television, seeing absolutely nothing worth watching. She sighed frustratingly and tossed the remote control away from herself, not watching where it landed (thankfully, it landed in a pot of flowers and not on anything breakable).
She turned on her side and snuggled into the sofa, pulling a blanket off the back to cover up. Within minutes, she was asleep.
Usagi's eyes opened to the sound of a soft voice and warm arms around her. She looked up and smiled. She was cradled in Mamoru's arms. "Mamo-chan." She yawned. "Where were you all day? I thought you were off work at three."
"I worked over by half an hour. Ironically, Usako, I was looking for you all day."
She smiled sleepily and leaned into his chest. "But I'm right here."
"I didn't know that, though."
"What's ironically mean?"
He chuckled and lifted her chin. "It means you were in the first place I should have looked and the last place I actually did."
"You said I could use the key anytime I needed to."
"I did, and I'm glad you did. I meant it."
"You're not mad?"
"No, Usako. I was just worried all day. The girls are still out looking for you and I'm going to have to call them soon to let them know you're okay. Why didn't you answer your communicator?"
She blinked, suddenly alert. "Is there a youma?!" She started to push away from him but he held her steady.
"No, just a missing Sailor Senshi."
Her eyes widened. "What?! Who?!"
He blinked. "You, of course! Usako, have you seriously no idea what's going on?"
She sat up and reached to the floor, where her bag was, and pulled out her communicator. She flipped it open and noticed the screen was cracked. She suddenly thought back to earlier in the afternoon. She had stormed out of the school, so angry with her friends. She recalled racing down the street, into Mamoru's apartment, and slamming her bag down hard on the floor before falling into the couch and fuming until she calmed down.
"I was very upset this afternoon." She mumbled, tracing her thumb over the dead device. "I threw my bag down when I got here. It must have broken."
Mamoru sighed, pulling her close to him again. "Usako..."
She started to snuggle back into his embrace, but noticed the late hour on the clock. She gasped, pulled away from him, and jumped up. "Mama must be worried!"
She ran into the kitchen and pulled the phone off its jack. She dialed her house number, hoping her mother wasn't upset. Ikuko picked up at the second ring. "Hello?"
"Usagi-chan! Where are you? The girls have been calling since school let out. It's late, young lady! You missed dinner so I hope you've already eaten."
"No, but don't worry, I'll eat something at Mamo-chan's. I'm at his apartment. Apparently he's been out looking too, not realizing I was here. I'm sorry, Mama. I got in a fight with the girls. I'll be home soon, but I have to go make sure they know I'm okay."
"Alright, dear. Please be home soon, and try not to eat everything in Mamoru-san's kitchen."
Usagi sighed, a large bead of sweat falling down her head. "Yes, Mama."
She hung up the phone and went back into the living room, where Mamoru was leaning against the back of the couch, facing her. "Going home now?"
She shook her head. "To find the girls and make sure they stop looking for me." She went to the door and slipped her shoes on.
"Going to apologize?"
Her head snapped around to look at him. "What?"
He blinked down at her, his arms crossing. "For storming out of school that way. And for worrying us all." He shook his head. "Not the mention the crazy question you decided to drop on the girls."
Her hands clenched the door. "It's not crazy." She started to turn the knob of the door and open it, but his hand reached out and pushed it closed.
"You are not leaving here until you explain your obsession with this... insane question." He pushed himself against the door and blocked her way, looking down at her.
"Let me go home, Mamo-chan." She whispered. "My mother and father won't be pleased."
"They both know I wouldn't hurt a strand of your hair."
"That's probably not what they fear, but okay..." She laughed shakily.
He was offset for a moment and cleared his throat. "Anyways... you asked me something the other day and forced me to answer. Now I'm asking the same of you. You are not leaving until you talk to me." He reached out and put both hands on her shoulders. "What's bothering you so much that you persist in asking me about finding another when you know you're the only one I will ever want?"
She looked down at the toe of her shoe and dug it into the carpet. "It's complicated."
"I'm expecting that, but tell me anyways."
She pulled away from him and turned back into the apartment, sitting in the single chair beside the couch. Mamoru sat on the corner seat of the couch closest to her, his knees touching hers.
Her head bent down and her hands locked together on top of her knees. She stared at them for several long, drawn out moments before sighing and lifting her head to look at Mamoru, her eyes shining with tears.
"I think there's something wrong with me. I think I'm sick."
"Her symptoms are all over the place, Mamoru-san. There's nothing logical to tie them all together." Ami continued to flip through the pages of the medical textbook in front of her. "I'm trying, but I cannot find a single disease that matches any of this. Parts of it, yes. All of it together? It makes no sense." She swiveled around in her desk chair. "I'll look tonight on the computer for any kind of information. Also, I want Usagi-chan to let me do a scan on her with the Mercury computer. It's far more advanced than these and might help me get a better reading on her." She stood and walked across her living room. "If she won't let us take her to a hospital, it's the next best thing."
Mamoru nodded from his chair. "She's afraid that since she hasn't been to a hospital since she became Sailor Moon, something may be very different about her body than a normal person's and might set off the medical staff to looking into her identity."
"It's very logical of her. I'm incredibly impressed."
"I'm not. It's too..." He struggled for words, finding none. He stood up and looked at Ami. "It's just not Usako to think this way. She doesn't think logically, Ami-chan. She thinks with her heart, and this new logical way of thinking is.. kind of bothering me."
Ami nodded, pursing her lips and placing her hand under her chin. "Could it be a symptom?"
He laughed almost harshly. "Why on earth would Usako becoming very smart all the sudden be a symptom to what's wrong with her?"
Ami sat on her couch and placed her hands on her knees, looking away from him. "Because we don't know what it is, Mamoru-san. Any clue is helpful, even if it may have nothing to do with what's wrong with her. Think about it. Moodiness, her heart literally 'aches' as she says, chills, lack of appetite, dizziness, anger... not to mention lack of feeling!"
Mamoru nodded, flinching. "Luna was the only one to see through that."
Ami sighed. "We all just thought she was just growing up. Not that she was lying and didn't even feel it when she fell. Even faking by walking with her back bent! I really must do a scan on her to make sure she hasn't been falling and doing internal damage without realizing it."
Mamoru paled. "I'll have her over as soon as I can pry her out of the apartment."
Ami's head snapped up. "She hasn't gone home?"
"She refuses. She calls her mother to let her know she's okay and I've gone to see Ikuko-san to explain and get a few of Usako's things. Believe me, she's not happy with me. Thank god Usako is over eighteen now. I've been assuring her nothing has happened, and thankfully, she trusts me." Mamoru sighed. "I don't blame her. If she wasn't so afraid, I would not let Usako stay. I would never want Chibiusa to be doing what she's doing."
Ami laughed lightly. "You're always such a gentleman, Mamoru-san."
He smiled down at her. "It's my curse."
They smiled at each other for a moment. Then Ami cleared her throat and stood while Mamoru walked to the door.
"Anyways... I'll try to bring her by tomorrow morning?"
Her face red, Ami nodded. "Yes, that's fine. I have cram school at eight, but I'll be home by ten."
Mamoru shook his head, smiling. "Studying on a Saturday. Only you, Ami-chan."
"It's my curse."
They laughed, and then Mamoru turned to the door, opening it.
"Hmm?" He looked back at her.
Ami looked down, blushing furiously. "I've been very curious about something. Perhaps I should be asking Usagi-chan, but with the way she's been acting, I'm afraid to really talk to her. She's only really talking to you."
He let go of the door and faced her, tilting his head. "Are you alright, Ami-chan?"
"Oh yes, of course!" She nodded, still very red. "It's just... yesterday at lunch..." She paused and collected her breath. "Usagi singled me out."
"Singled you out?" Mamoru raised an eyebrow.
She nodded again, still looking down. "Yes. We didn't tell you everything at the fruit parlor. We thought it would be best just to tell you that she had asked us all... but actually..."
Mamoru took in a swift breath of air. "She only asked you."
Ami just looked down. "I was... wondering... if you knew why?" She hugged her arms to her chest. "Maybe she was planning on going through us one by one or something, trying to pick out the best wife for you or something, I don't know..." She laughed slightly. "So like Usagi-chan to do something like that, though. Go through her friends to find her love's new girlfriend because she thinks she's 'dying'."
Mamoru cringed at the word but understood the humor behind it. "It is very much Usako, you're right." He couldn't look straight at her. "She probably wasn't going to go through all the other girls, though, Ami-chan. She had no reason to."
Ami's eyes widened. "But why?"
Mamoru laughed sheepishly, running a hand through his hair. "Because she actually did force an answer out of me."
"You... you chose me?" She squeaked, her eyes as wide as saucers.
He coughed. "Yes."
"B-b-but why?" she stuttered, blinking.
He smiled. "Do you not see yourself clearly at all, Ami-chan? You're a very lovely, smart, and interesting girl." He looked sideways and put his hands in his pockets. "You're also my closest friend out of the senshi, besides Usako."
Ami blushed, biting the nail of her forefinger and looking at her feet.
He smiled again and found himself leaning over to peck her forehead. "Have a good afternoon, Ami-chan." Turning, he opened the door and started to walk out. Not looking back, he said over his shoulder, "By the way... for both our sakes, let's not ever tell Usako about this?"
She nodded and cleared her throat, squeaking out an "Agreed!"
He closed the door and Ami found herself sinking to the floor, her eyes wide. Her hands found the carpet for support.
Carrying a bag of groceries in one arm, Mamoru slipped the key to the door to of his apartment into the lock and opened the door, walking in to find it dark. Alarmed, he flipped on the light and rushed into the living room. "Usako?!"
He heard a loud groan coming from the couch. "Turn the light off, Mamo-chan!" Usagi nearly screamed, turning and burying her head into the cushion.
He grimaced. Must be the anger symptom.
"Usako, I brought food for dinner... have you been sleeping the whole time I've been gone?"
She took a deep breath and squinted at the bright light. "I think so, yes. What time is it?"
"Oh, my..." She cringed. "I wasted away the whole day."
Mamoru set the bag down in the kitchen and came back out to the living room, sitting on the edge of the couch while Usagi brought her knees to her chest under her blanket, wrapping her arms around herself. "I would say that sleeping excessively is a symptom." At Usagi's protest, he continued. "I know you have always loved to sleep, but never this much. You and I both know you would never waste the whole day away in bed."
Usagi closed her mouth with a snap and looked down. "You're right."
"Ami-chan and I think that the logic you've been displaying might also be a symptom."
Usagi looked annoyed. "Me acting smart is a symptom?" She asked in an irritable snap.
"Don't bite my head off, Usako... it's only a possibility, okay?" He reached out and put a hand on one of hers.
She sighed, nodding. "I'm sorry."
"She wants to do a full scan of you tomorrow with her computer. Tomorrow morning at ten. I'll be getting you up and carrying you over there if I have to, but you are most definitely going. You could have some serious internal injuries if you're not feeling pain. As much as you fall."
Usagi laid back down. "Okay, Mamo-chan..."
"What would you like to eat?"
"Nothing, thank you."
"You will eat something, Usako..."
"Soup, I suppose?" she cringed at the thought of anything more than broth.
Mamoru beamed. "I'll make chicken noodle. You love my chicken noodle soup." He went into the kitchen and Usagi heard the beginnings of him cooking. She sighed, hating that he was wasting his time making food. She knew she probably couldn't eat it. She hadn't eaten a bite of food in days.
For a few minutes, she listened to the sounds of her boyfriend putting the groceries away and making dinner. Stretching her arms and legs, she rose and headed to the shower, hoping the feeling of hot water on her skin would help her feel better.
Mamoru walked into the living room carrying a tray with a bowl of soup. "Usako?" He looked around, noting the blanket she had been wrapped up in still scattered across the couch. He set the tray down on the coffee table and frowned. He headed to the bedroom and knocked on the door cautiously before entering it. Hearing the shower running when he entered, he sighed a breath of relief. He knocked on the bathroom door. "Usako? Your soup is ready. Hurry before it gets cold, okay?"
When there was no reply, he knocked louder and called her name again. Receiving no reply again, he panicked. Reaching for the knob, he found it unlocked and pushed the door open. "Usako?!"
His eyes sought out the shower and he saw her, her body slumped in the bottom of the shower, eyes closed and skin glowing brightly white. He gasped in terror and raced to her, grabbing a towel and shutting off the shower. He wrapped her in the towel, trying desperately not to look, and her skin automatically turned back to its normal shade as he touched her. Looking in the shower, he saw a trace of blood washing down the drain and his heart flipped. He pulled her out of the shower, searching her head for any sign of contusion and found a very small opening on the back of her skull. Pulling his hand away, he looked and saw a small spattering of warm blood covering his fingertips.
Cursing, he hoisted her up into his arms and out of the bathroom. Sitting on the bed, he contemplated what to do. She was limp, but she was breathing.
Ami-chan. I need her help. There is no way I can properly examine her. Laying Usagi gently on the bed, he raced to the telephone in the kitchen and dialed Ami's number.
"Hello, Mizuno residence."
"Ami-chan, Usako collapsed in the shower while I was cooking her dinner. She's unconscious and there is a small gash in her head. I don't know how deep it is yet, but I cannot properly examine her. I don't know if she's injured anywhere else!"
"I'm on my way!" Ami slammed the phone down and grabbed out her henshin rod. "Mercury Crystal Power, Make-up!" Instantly, Ami transformed into Sailor Mercury and rushed out her balcony door, jumping to the nearest rooftop. She raced from rooftop to rooftop until she found herself on the roof of Mamoru's apartment building. Dropping down several floors, she landed on his balcony. She slid open the balcony doors and ran inside.
"Am—Sailor Mercury?!" Mamoru stuck his head out of his bedroom and blinked, looking at the girl quizzically.
Pressing the jewel in the middle of her tiara, Sailor Mercury turned back into Mizuno Ami. "It was the fastest way to get here. I can't exactly jump rooftops and bypass the stairs of your building as just me."
Mamoru blinked again. It had been less than three minutes since he called her. "Good point. She's in here."
Ami brushed past him and went to Usagi's side. "Usagi-chan..." She turned and looked at Mamoru. "I'll take care of her, I promise."
Mamoru nodded and shut the door, leaving them.
Going to the couch, he sat down and took a deep, shaky breath.
What seemed like hours later but was actually only about twenty minutes, Ami opened the door and walked out of the bedroom. Mamoru shot up. "How is she?"
"She's fine. I'm not sure why she collapsed, but the gash on her head is only skin deep. She didn't hit her head... apparently she slid down the shower and cut her head on the side of your shower rack. The edges are sharp and the glass cut her. I looked. Also, there are a few bruises on her skin, but most of them look days old and weren't caused by this fall." Ami looked back at the bedroom. "She's groggy, but awake. She doesn't know what happ-"
Mamoru was passing by her and in the bedroom before she could finish. "Usako?!"
Usagi turned her head. She smiled up at him and reached for him. "Mamo-chan."
Ami had apparently helped her dress in one of the pajama sets he had brought her from her home and her hair was down. He went to her and gingerly lifted her up into his arms, looking at the back of her head and examining the bandage that Ami had placed over the small gash. He let out a breath. "Ami-chan said it was only skin deep. Thank goodness."
Usagi let out a contented sigh. "You're warm."
He blinked and found one of her hands. It was icy. Frowning, he picked her up and pulled the comforter back on the bed and tucked her under it. She scrunched her nose up. "Not quite as nice..."
He chuckled. "Let me go talk to Ami-chan for a minute and I'll be right back, Usako. I promise."
She nodded and pulled the covers closer to her.
He walked to out to the living room but heard Ami in the kitchen. Finding her cleaning up the soup, he shook his head. "Ami-chan, you didn't have to do that."
"You need help, Mamoru-san. I know you want to take care of her, but you can't do it alone. She obviously needs someone watching her at all times. We just didn't realize just how dire the situation was." She finished washing the bowl and put it away in the cabinet. "I'll let the girls know and we'll be over tomorrow to help you. She might like the company, anyways." She grinned at him. "If she doesn't insist we all start clamoring around you."
Mamoru chuckled lightly. "Yes, that does sound like a good idea. Instead of us coming to your place, you'll all come here?"
Ami nodded. "Yes. I would examine her tonight, but she's exhausted. We'll be back in the morning, but for now she needs rest."
Mamoru agreed and walked her to the door. "Thank you, Ami-chan."
Ami nodded, smiling. "Good night, Mamoru-san."
Mamoru went back to the bedroom and found Usagi fast asleep, snuggled in the blankets. He smiled and sat on the side of the bed, stroking her hair lightly.
Frowning, he remembered the glowing of her skin just before he had touched her. He had forgotten to mention it to Ami but definitely would tomorrow... what did it mean? Were her powers trying to fight off whatever was wrong?
Sighing, he leaned down and kissed her softly, soft enough that she wouldn't awaken. "Good night, Usako. I love you."
Standing, he left the room, flipping the light off and leaving the door halfway open.
The next morning was gloomy, and when Usagi awoke, she could have sworn it was still very early because the sky was dark. Looking over at the clock on the nightstand, she realized it was already past ten. Sitting up, she swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. A sudden dizziness overtook her and she felt herself staggering, almost falling over except for arms reaching out and grabbing her.
A soft reprieve came from above. "Ami-chan was right when she said you had to be watched every second, Usako. Please be more careful right now..." Pulling her to a standing up position, Mamoru leaned her against him.
She blushed. "I'm sorry."
"Now come on, your friends are here to see you."
Usagi's eyes widened. "I thought the girls were angry at me."
"Of course not! They were never mad at you. Only worried." Wrapping an arm around her waist, Mamoru pulled her into the living room, where the four girls sat eating muffins that Usagi knew Makoto must have brought.
Their heads all looked up when the couple entered the room.
"Usagi-chan!" they chorused.
Smiling weakly, she replied. "Hi, guys."
Mamoru helped her to sit on the couch beside Rei and Makoto while perching himself on the arm of the couch beside her. Minako sat on the floor in front of the table and Ami sat in the armchair. The girls all smiled at her as she sat down.
"How do you feel, Usagi-chan?" Rei asked, putting a hand on the girl's arm.
"She had a dizzy spell for a moment there." Mamoru pointed out. Usagi shook her head.
"Thank you, Mamo-chan."
Ami laughed. "He's just being cautious, Usagi-chan. We're all very worried. I hope you don't mind if I use my computer to scan you today? We want to find out what's wrong and fix it." She lifted her computer out of her bag and opened it.
Usagi nodded. "Yes, that's fine."
Ami stood and made her way to sit on her knees in front of Usagi, opening the computer and starting to enter data.
Minako drummed her fingers against the tabletop. "Are you sure it's not as simple as just a case of Chibiusa?"
Mamoru crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes at Minako. "A case of 'Chibiusa'?"
Minako nodded, staring off absently. "Right. Usagi-chan could simply just be pregnant."
Mamoru and Usagi both took in a sharp breath of air while a bead of sweat began to appear on the heads of the other girls.
"That's impossible, Minako-chan." Usagi mumbled.
Minako turned and her eyes widened at the couple. "Impossible?!"
They both nodded.
Makoto pushed Rei's head down so that she could look at Usagi dead on. "Oh my god! You mean... you two haven't..."
Rei, infuriated, knocked her head into Makoto's, pushing the girl back onto the couch. Rei crossed her arms, muttering a "hmph."
Mamoru sighed. "No, girls. A 'Chibiusa' would be impossible at this point."
Ami looked up worriedly at Usagi. "Usagi-chan... this happened the other day as well when we were trying to find you."
"What do you mean?"
Minako looked over Ami's shoulder. "It's not registering her again?"
"No, it's not picking her usual markings up... this is so very odd. If I try to scan any of the rest of us, I can pick any of us up. But not Usagi-chan. I'm having to enter her again, and it's like she's a completely different person."
Usagi leaned back into the couch, pulling her legs underneath her and hugging her arms to herself. Mamoru looked down at her, his eyes filled with worry, and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
They all heard scratching at the door and knew the cats had arrived. Makoto stood and opened the door for the two, and they bounded into the room, both out of breath from running.
"This place should invest in a cat elevator." Luna staggered, collapsing in front of the couch. Rei, Makoto, and Minako giggled.
Ami's eyes widened as she stared at her computer. She looked from Usagi to the computer several times before muttering out a startled "Guys!"
Everyone snapped their heads away from Luna to Ami.
"Usagi-chan isn't human!!"
"What?!?!" the room exploded.
Ami stood up. "Just listen! She's showing most of the normal markers for a human being, but several are completely off. Her body temperature is several degrees too low for the normal human, her heart rate slightly faster. It explains her chills and her heart 'aches'. She shows no pain markers and her injury markers have been decreased incredibly! She can feel heat, cold, and touch, but pain doesn't register. Mamoru-san, remove that bandage from her head."
Mamoru leaned over and slowly took off the gauze. He gasped, running his fingertips over the spot where the gash had been the night before. "It's completely gone!"
"She's healing incredibly fast as well, just as I suspected!"
"But what does it all mean?" Rei said alarmingly. "It's not making any sense."
"It makes complete and perfect sense, Sailor Senshi."
Everyone's heads snapped around to the open door of the apartment where Setsuna, Haruka, and Michiru all stood. Makoto blushed slightly. She had forgotten to shut the door when she had let the cats in.
Setsuna, the one who had spoken, strode into the middle of the room. She leaned down and looked at the back of Usagi's head. "I take it you hurt your head last night, Usagi-chan?"
Usagi blinked. "Yes."
Setsuna nodded. "Not to worry about."
Michiru smiled. "Hello, girls."
"How... how did you guys know what's going on?" Minako stuttered, blinking.
Haruka grinned. "You forget who we live with, Minako-chan." She thumbed to Setsuna.
"Where's Hotaru-chan?" Rei asked.
"She's with her father for the day." Michiru smiled. "They went out shopping."
Usagi smiled. "That's so sweet." Her eyes glazed over slightly and Mamoru looked down at her, smiling.
Usagi looked up at him and noticed him watching her. "Mamo-chan?"
He shook his head, kissing her forehead. "Nothing, Usako." She nodded, smiling.
Ami turned to Setsuna. "Do you know what's wrong with Usagi-chan, Setsuna-san?"
"She's becoming Lunarian."
The girls gasped and stared at their leader.
Usagi squirmed. "Well, you don't have to look at me like I'm a freak. I don't know what she means, either."
Rei grimaced. "Usagi no baka, she means you're becoming a complete moon child."
Usagi blinked. "But... I thought I was already..."
Haruka sat on the other edge of the couch, while Michiru squeezed in to sit beside Makoto.
Setsuna walked to the chair Ami had vacated and sat down. "You were born a human completely, Usagi-chan. Queen Serenity meant for you all to be born as humans. The only real human among us is Mamoru. He's the only one originally from Earth, the home of humans."
Minako squeaked. "We aren't human?!"
"So are we all moon children?" Makoto asked.
Setsuna shook her head. "You're of Jupiter birth. Just as it is the planet you stand for, and the planet you were all royalty from. It's why your powers are given to you by your distinct planets. However, in this lifetime, you will all remain human. The only ones that will not are Usagi-chan and myself."
"You, Setsuna-san?" Ami asked.
The time keeper nodded. "Of course. For me to eternally guard the time gate, I could not be human. I was not sent along with you to Earth by the queen. I ruled over the time gates long before the time of the destruction of the Silver Millenium, as was appointed to me by Queen Serenity. I have always been and will always remain... Plutarian."
"Why is Usagi-chan changing?" Rei asked.
"Because her body can't hold any more power as a human. In order for her to become queen, she has to become her pure, original self. The princess of the Moon can't become queen as a human. It's ridiculous." Setsuna smiled at Usagi. "You can't feel pain because Lunarians don't feel pain. You heal quickly as Lunarians do. You are already showing the signs that you're changing, but it's not complete yet."
"Setsuna-san..." Mamoru pondered.
She turned to him. "Yes, Mamoru-san?"
"Last night when I found her, Usako was glowing white. It stopped as soon as I touched her. What does that mean?"
"That's simply her power. It's too strong for her in this form right now. It most likely caused her collapse."
Mamoru nodded. Usagi slipped her hand into his.
"When will it be over?" Usagi whispered. "The dizziness... the cold... I can't even eat!"
"You won't ever eat again, little bunny." Haruka said very seriously, her eyes staring at Usagi.
Usagi gasped. Her eyes started welling with tears.
Michiru sighed exasperatedly and smacked Haruka on the knee. "She's just teasing you, Usagi-chan."
Usagi let out a breath and looked hopefully at Setsuna, who nodded. "You'll be able to eat again once your body adjusts. Don't worry. You're half and half right now, and eating is completely out of the question. Your heart rate will always be slightly faster than most people, and your body temperature slightly lower. You're adjusting right now and so you seem cold right now and your heart might hurt a bit, but it won't remain so."
Usagi nodded, relieved.
Minako poked Setsuna in the knee lightly. "What about the irritability, moodiness, screaming at us, and all that other stuff?" She glanced slyly at Usagi.
Setsuna blinked. "That's not part of it."
Usagi's eyes turned into slits.
Rei looked sideways at the girl. "You were just being evil for no reason?!?!"
"She's been ill and feeling very badly! Can you really say something like that, Rei-chan?" Mamoru said crossly.
Rei clamped her mouth shut and nodded. "True." She mumbled.
"Does her... becoming Lunarian mean it's time for her to become queen?" Ami asked.
Setsuna shrugged. "I can't tell you exactly when that will happen. It's not my place to tell you the future; that's for you to discover yourselves. I'm just here to explain what is happening now. The rest is up to you."
Minako laid her head on the table. "Baaahhh. That's just frustrating!"
Michiru laughed lightly. "It's part of life, my dear."
"Will I live as long as everyone else as a Lunarian?" Usagi whispered, a bit of fear in her voice.
Setsuna smiled sympathetically. "You've been terrified through all this, haven't you, Usagi-chan? You thought you were very sick?"
Usagi looked down.
Setsuna turned to the senshi. "You will remain humans the rest of your life, all of you. However, as you are all originally of your own planets, your lifespans are expanded. It's as if you are all half human. But your lives are longer."
Setsuna looked at Usagi. "Usagi-chan... your powers as a Lunarian will allow you to live for a very long time. I cannot tell you how long; that would be breaking the rules. But you have nothing to fear. You or Mamoru. Your link to each other also protects him."
Usagi blinked. "My powers mean... Mamoru will live as long as I live?"
Setsuna nodded. "On his own, he wouldn't live as long. He is human. But what would the world be like with a Queen without her King?" She smiled. "Unfortunately, the link you have is also so strong that it also means that if something were to happen to one of you, the other would most likely follow very soon after. No matter which it was."
The two looked at each other. "I don't think I mind that. I wouldn't want to be in a world without Mamo-chan." Usagi smiled slightly.
Mamoru smiled softly back, nodding. "Or I in one without Usako."
Minako elbowed Setsuna. "But they haven't exactly "linked" if you know what I mean. So they're kinda screwed. And I don't mean that as a punt."
Artemis sighed. "Pun, Minako-chan. Pun."
"Not that kind of link, baka!" Rei yelled.
Usagi sighed, leaning against Mamoru. "Thank you, Rei-chan." Rei nodded, crossing her arms and shaking her head.
Haruka grinned. "They haven't "linked", you say?"
Michiru rolled her eyes. "Really, must you?!"
Luna had her eyes shining up at Usagi. She jumped on the couch and rubbed her face against Usagi's leg. "Finally, it means you'll mature!"
"Her personality won't change, Luna... only her internal make-up is changing." Setsuna coughed.
Luna felt a large bead of sweat form on her head and turned her head around to face Setsuna, knowing that Usagi's evil, glaring eyes were on her back. "But... she's... acted... more... mature.... lately..."
"I'm just the same as always, you stupid cat!!!" Usagi roared, sending Luna flying off the couch.
Waterfalls began falling from Luna's eyes as she sprawled on the floor. "It was just too good to be true. The intelligence, the picking herself up without crying..."
Usagi rolled her eyes. "I don't feel pain, and thanks for thinking I'm stupid!"
Setsuna chuckled. "Any maturity Usagi-chan displays is simply Usagi-chan and not because she's changing." She turned serious. "Now, she was right on track when she thought it would be a bad idea for her to go to a hospital. She cannot ever go to one. She heals very quickly, so it shouldn't be any sort of issue. I know you will all worry if she's badly injured," Setsuna pointedly glanced at Mamoru, who looked sheepish, "but she will heal in a matter of hours. You just simply have to bear with it for the time." She looked at Ami. "And of course you should know why she didn't register in your computer anymore."
Ami nodded. "She has a different make-up now. I know. When will it be complete so I can scan in her new markings again?"
"She's halfway there, I believe. The lack of pain and healing quickly proves that. Once she can control her powers when she's not in senshi form, she should be complete."
Usagi's eyes widened. "Whoa."
Setsuna nodded. "Indeed." She stood. "Well, I believe it's time for us to go. I believe these two have promised me an expensive, paid-for lunch."
"No, she promised you lunch." Michiru stood and pointed down to Haruka.
Haruka stood and coughed. "Yes, yes."
Usagi glanced up. "What did you do, Haruka-san?"
Haruka rubbed the back of her head and laughed sheepishly. Michiru answered for her. "She put a cockroach in the shower."
"Evil!" Usagi gasped.
Setsuna looked down at Usagi in terror. "You. Have. No. Idea."
Everyone laughed, knowing Setsuna was deathly afraid of cockroaches.
The outer senshi made their goodbyes and left.
That night, after the girls finally left, Mamoru stood out on the balcony and massaged the back of his neck. It had been an extremely long day. He sighed.
"Should you really do that for yourself?" He felt a cool hand slide underneath his and take over the rubbing.
They stayed quiet for a few moments. Usagi pulled her hand away and cuddled under his arm, looking up at him.
"Thank you." He kissed the top of her head.
She smiled. "Mmhmm."
"I am very, very glad they are gone."
She giggled, realizing the girls had been over since before she was even awake. He must have been sick of them. "The girls aren't very good at taking a hint. I really do promise I tried hours ago to get them to go home. I said I was fine over and over."
"They're worried, Usako. I didn't mind. They love you." He smiled down at her. "So do I."
She blushed. "I really am fine, though."
"You still need to be watched though. You're still very weak..." He poked her in the side softly. "And you aren't very cautious even though I continuously remind you!"
She coughed. "It was only going to the bathroom. You didn't have to suggest that all four of them went with me."
"I'm a cautious man."
"I most definitely agree with that one." She laughed, shivering slightly.
"It's cold outside, Mamo-chan."
"So am I."
"Let's get you inside..."
"But Mamo-chan, I really am fine!"
"Oh for the love of god..."
"It's late. You need to go to bed, Usako."
"It's not that late. I'm not tired."
"It's past midnight.... and you're yawning."
Usagi paused mid-yawn and covered her mouth. "There's something smart about yawns that Ami-chan always says, but I forgot."
"I say it means you need to go to bed."
Usagi sighed. "Just a few more minutes?"
Looking down at her cuddled up to his side on the couch, he nodded, not wanting to let go himself. She smiled and looked back at the television.
Uh oh. He remembered that tone. Determined.
Gulping, he dared to look down at her. "Yes, Usako?"
"Without me, would you really date Ami-chan?"
Sighing, he turned to face her and took both sides of her face in his hands. "Did you not listen to a word that Setsuna-san said? Without you, I die."
"That's not what I mean... if it wasn't for the Lunarian thing..." She rambled on, mumbling slightly, her eyes peering away from him.
"No, Usako." His tone was harsh. She glanced up at his serious face.
"Without you, I die."
She blinked, her face turning red. "So... you wouldn't date Ami-chan?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "No. I've told you before... you are the only one for me. How many times do I have to drill that into your head?"
She smiled. "Okay. I get it."
She giggled, settling back into his arms.
She glanced up at him, noticing a mischievous look across his face.
"Er... yes, Mamo-chan?"
"If you had to choose one of the senshi for me to marry, which one would you choose?"
Usagi pursed her lips together and thought for a few moments.
She sat up, tapping her fingertip to her lips. Grinning suddenly, she stood up and turned to face him.
He raised an eyebrow, waiting expectantly.
He blanched. "Wh-what?! Why on earth Haruka-san?!"
She giggled. "Because she's the only one of the senshi who wouldn't be caught dead "linking" up with you!"
And a large sweat bead formed on Mamoru's head. "Usako!"