EMSiT Productions Presents:
To Stand Alone
by: Una Moonstar and Quicksilver
standard disclaimers

Notes: Previous Parts are available at Aria's Ink, FF.net, or the ESML Lair: http://demando.net/emsl

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Chapter Six: When Something Works
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"Explaining?" Mamoru asked innocently. "Whatever do you mean?"

Usagi narrowed her eyes at him. "You know exactly what I mean, Cape Boy."

"Oh, if you're going to be that way about it..."

"I already guessed you know I'm Sailor Moon, so don't bother. What do want to do about it?"

"You seem to be the one with all the bright ideas. You tell me." He crossed his arms over his chest.

Usagi stuck her tongue out at him. "Come on. I'm not trying to be a bitch about this, I swear. We need to figure out what this all means, and the only way to do that is to talk it out. So don't be a prick."

Mamoru sighed. "Fine. We can do it your way. You do have a point. So how did you find out you were Sailor Moon?"

The blonde in the tree froze, her whole essence seeming to withdraw into herself. "You heard about Naru?" she asked emotionlessly. "That's when."

"Don't do that, Usagi," Mamoru cautioned quickly, worried at the change in her demeanor. "It'll only hurt you in the long run. I know."

Anger flashed in the sapphire blues above him. "And what do you think you know? How can you relate to losing someone you love so violently right in front of you? How?"

It was Mamoru's turn to withdraw. "I don't remember much, but the brief flashes I do get make me wake up screaming. My parents died when I was six in a car accident. I was in the car with them. When I woke up in the hospital after being in a coma for two weeks, I found my parents gone and my memories of them and myself gone as well. So just be glad you can remember your loved one when you wake up screaming in the middle of the night, Usagi. Because it sure as hell beats the empty void I feel as I stare at my ceiling trying to calm down enough to get back to sleep."

Usagi bit her lower lip as she realized she just might have gone too far, and that Mamoru truly could understand her pain - maybe even better than she could. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "I didn't know, and I shouldn't have snapped at you like that when you were just trying to help. It's just so hard..."

His shoulders drooped a bit as he let his head drop and his muscles relax at the break in tension. "There's no way you could have known. And I am sorry about your friend. You were obviously very close to her." He brought his head back up and locked gazes with her. "So what do we do now?" He gave her his patented quirky grin. "And could you come down here? I'm getting a crick in my neck."

Usagi giggled despite herself. "Well, maybe a little bit." She scrambled down a few branches and sat down on one that let her look her companion straight in the eye. "Better?"

"Much."

She nodded thoughtfully. "What are we going to do? And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you have the fondness for formal wear, are you?" she asked with amusement.

He looked at her with serious eyes. "The first few times, I barely remembered it afterwards... lately, I've been getting a better picture... I'm after the ninjizuishou to help get the ginzuishou..."

"The ginzuishou..." Usagi echoed. "I should know that."

"I have no clue what it is for, but if it's involved with these gems, you can bet it's powerful..."

"Who told you to?" she demanded.

"A princess, in a dream..." he said softly. "She's begging me to get the ginzuishou, so I can free her..." he said softly, then he gasped softly. "Yume... a dream. Yumeni... a dreamseer... I wonder..." he said softly.

"Huh?"

"Right after you collapsed, and I hid you here, Yumeni had a vision- about a princess. I wonder if she's a dreamseer. She has the name for it."

Usagi laughed in spite of herself. "You think she's a seer because of her NAME?" she said, unable to hold back her giggles.

Mamoru, though, was serious. "There's power in names."

"Sure. I'm a rabbit."

"Sure thing, Tsukino," he said, smiling slightly.

"HEY! What do you mean- oh. Sailor Moon. Coincidence!" she insisted.

"Sure, Usagi," Mamoru said smugly.

"So what about you? 'Protector of the Earth'? What's that mean? I fail to see the connection with running around in a tuxedo, cape, and mask." Her attempt at haughtiness failed miserably as the corners of her mouth kept twitching upward.

"I'm working on that," he said a bit defensively, although his eyes were twinkling.

"So what's with the princess?" Usagi asked once she stopped giggling and decided to get at least halfway serious. "Something about the idea feels right, but I've never had any dreams like that. And I'm just as drawn to these ninjizuishou as you are."

"I don't think we have all the answers yet. But we need to keep the ninjizuishou out of the hands of the Dark Kingdom no matter what."

"I agree. Does that mean we're going to work together? Maybe we can help each other find those answers while we're at it." The petite blonde cocked her head to the side and looked at the young man standing before her contemplatively.

Mamoru didn't know what to say to that. The two of them seemed to work well together, and Usagi was a lot deeper than he had originally given her credit for. And the good looks certainly didn't hurt. "I think we might be able to make some arrangements in that regard. We do share a common enemy after all." He smiled warmly. "And it's nice to run into a girl who can keep her head around me. Keeps me humble."

Usagi scoffed. "Like that's possible. Maybe I can keep you a little closer to the earth, but that's all I dare promise." She grinned.

He chuckled. "Then that's what I'll take."

She started to giggle, but the laughter caught in her throat as she saw Yumeni at one of the windows that opened onto the back yard waving at them frantically. "Um, Mamoru-san, I think Yumeni is trying to tell us something," she said warily as she pointed behind the young man.

He turned his head sharply and took in the same sight. "Right. I think her parents must be home. Let's get out of here before they start asking questions. The back yard isn't in the best of shape after all, and I don't think either one of us wants to take the blame for it."

"Right." She jumped down from the tree and the pair of them took off running just as an older couple opened the back door to take a closer look at the mess the vandal had left behind. Only the rustle of leaves from the bushes marking the edge of the yard marked their passing.

~*~*~*~*~

"Did you hear?" Umino asked Usagi about a week later right before homeroom. "Apparently Sailor Moon has become Tuxedo Kamen's sidekick after all!"

Usagi blinked slowly, hoping the sound of her grinding teeth wasn't apparent. "What?" she said, her voice dangerously sweet.

The nerd plowed on, unaware of the mortal peril he was in. "At the most recent battles, they were working together!"

"That doesn't mean she decided to be his sidekick! Maybe he decided to be hers," she suggested sweetly.

Umino looked slightly puzzled. "I thought the girl was always the guy's love interest or sidekick?" he said.

"You've been reading too much manga again. Just because they're getting along better doesn't mean she's his sidekick," she said in a disgusted voice.

The teacher entered the classroom then, and the class was called to rise and bow, so Umino was prevented from asking anymore questions.

The day seemed to drag on and on, and Usagi only paid attention through sheer force of will. Her grades had been steadily rising, much to her parents' delight, and she fully intended on keeping things that way. Still, she had to meet Mamoru after school at the Crown Fruit Parlor to discuss their plans, and maybe figure out more of what was going on. It was like having half of a jigsaw puzzle, and being told to take a guess at what picture it would form.

Finally the bell rang, and she was out of the door like a shot, and to the Crown at record time. Mamoru had gotten there before her, and snagged a quiet booth in the corner. She smiled as she saw he had taken the liberty of ordering her a triple chocolate fudge milkshake. "Are you sure we should be talking about this in public?" she said.

He shrugged. "Most people will think we're dating. That won't bother you, will it?"

She blushed. "I don't think there's much chance of me dating anyone soon, Mamo-chan," she teased.

"Sure thing, Usako," he bantered back playfully, before his eyes grew serious. "It's been a week, and none of the other nijizuishou have appeared, in spite of the monster attacks continuing," he said seriously. "We may have to change our search strategy."

"What, there's another method? So far stealing the nijizuishou during monster attacks has been working pretty well."

"We've been lucky so far... aside from your friend, no one's been hurt seriously."

"I wasn't Sailor Moon until after Naru died," Usagi said softly. So we're batting 1000," Usagi snapped.

Mamoru winced. He had forgotten how sensitive Usagi was about the subject of Naru. "We could miss one, and that'd be hard to recover. The next one to appear is the blue nijizuishou- maybe we should think of some other way to find it."

"And how do we get it out?" Usagi asked. "Stab the carrier?"

Mamoru was quiet for a moment.. "I don't like it, but it looks like we're going to have to wait for the monster attacks."

There was a long silent pause where the two teenagers just looked at one another. "Well?" Mamoru finally asked.

"Well what?" Usagi returned.

"Why didn't you say anything? What's your opinion?"

The blonde couldn't help but grin. "Oh, I was just thinking that a line like that was like inviting a monster attack, so I was waiting for the telltale signs. Otherwise I'm thinking there's nothing else to do. We don't know where to find the Dark Kingdom, so we have to wait for them to come to us."

Mamoru chuckled. "You're right, Usagi, now that I think about it. That line was a perfect set up line, wasn't it?"

"Would have been for the TV series."

"So, what do we have here?" a new voice said suggestively. "A new pair of love birds?"

"Don't even *go* there, Motoki," the ebony-haired young man growled threateningly.

The arcade attendant grinned. "Oh, come on. I see my favorite two antagonists sitting together having a civil conversation, even sharing some laughs... what am I supposed to think? Besides, this is the most relaxed I've *ever* seen you with in the presence of a member of the opposite sex."

"Is that so?" Usagi asked, a delicate blonde eyebrow raised. "How does he normally act?"

Motoki fought to keep from laughing at the shade of red his best friend's face was turning. "Stiff as a board, short, curt answers to comments or questions, stuff like that. Keeps them at an arm's length."

"If I don't do that they're all over me. Since I happen to like my personal space, I try to politely hold them off." He gave the blond young man a piercing glare. "Not that *you're* any help."

"Okay, okay, you two. To be fair, how does Motoki act around girls?" Usagi asked through her giggles.

Mamoru scoffed. "This boy's head is in the clouds. Any connection to the real world is suspended unless someone, namely me, manages to bring him back. I should get paid for it, since it happens every other week." He frowned thoughtfully. "Although I haven't had to for about a month or so now. That's odd." He shot another glare his friend's way. "That leaves two choices. Either aliens have switched the real Motoki for a pod person, or you found someone to get serious about. Personally, I think it's option number one."

Motoki returned the glare as Usagi fell over on her side of the booth laughing uncontrollably. "You already knew about Reika, Mamoru. Don't give me that line. We've been kinda serious for a while now."

"Maybe so, but you've said that about the last three relationships you've been in. I was just making a judgment call based on past experience." Mamoru flashed him a humor-filled smile.

"Don't even get me started on past experiences..." Motoki's words trailed off as the bells on the front door jingled and he turned his head reflexively to see who was walking in. A bright smile lit up his features, and he waved the new girl over. She had long, wavy brown hair and bright hazel eyes, and she returned the smile aimed her way in equal measure.

"Hi there, Motoki. I thought you said you'd be working today. I just got out of my debate club meeting, so I figured I'd stop by and say hi before heading home for supper. Hi, Mamoru. Who's the giggling girl? Are you guys going out?" Her smile turned impish as she turned it in the seated young man's direction.

This, of course, started a fresh new gale of laughter from the other side of the table. "No, actually. We're just friends. We were... discussing a few common interests before Motoki came over. How was your meeting?"

"Same old, same old. We really need to get a new advisor. Mister Hakata just has too short a fuse."

As the conversation continued on, a quiet noise coming from the backpack her head was resting on finally caught Usagi's attention. It was a light beeping sound that only seemed to have started when the new girl walked up to them. The petite blonde's laughter died out and she unobtrusively dug out the Crescent Moon Wand that she had securely inside to discuss with Mamoru. She could still remember the odd sensation when it formed at their touch. The gem at the juncture of the crescent and the handle was flashing, and Usagi wasn't sure just what that meant.

She nibbled her lip, looking up at Reika, wondering about the other girl. The girl was assured, and projected confidence, but Usagi had no clue who she was. "Mamoru, aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" she suggested pointedly.

Mamoru looked at the blonde, noticing the tense look in her sapphire blue eyes, and immediately his instincts kicked in. Usagi had noticed something. "Usagi, meet Sadoka Reika. She has the misfortune to be Motoki's current girlfriend. Reika, this is Tsukino Usagi. She's one of Motoki's best customers."

"Hi! Nice to meet you!" Reika said, bowing politely. Her bearing made her seem around Mamoru's age, but there was a look in her eyes that made Usagi place her age much younger than that.

"Indeed," Usagi said. Then she did something totally out of character, and offered her hand.

Reika smiled and shook it easily, unaware of the jolt of dark energy she scent up the disguised heroine's body. It was all Usagi could do to keep from gasping in shock and recoiling. She maintained a pleasant expression, but Mamoru sensed the stress she was going through, and came to her rescue.

"Isn't this month your and Motoki's sixth month anniversary?" he said, giving Usagi a moment to recovery her hand and take an unobtrusive deep breath. Her wand was still beeping, and combined with the jolt of energy she had just experienced, she had a pretty good idea what was going on.

Reika was one of the nijizuishou carriers.

So now all we have to do is hand around her until she's attacked and steal the nijizuishou before the Dark Kingdom gets it, she thought. Strangely, she felt no sense of pride over locating one of the gems before an attack, This time, the victim would be someone who was loved by a friend, and if she failed, it would be like failing Naru all over again.

"Yup!" Reika was saying. "Our anniversary is on the 13! People say it's unlucky, but I've never found it so!"

"Are you in college with him? Or high school?" Usagi asked.

Mamoru and Motoki burst out laughing, though Motoki seemed a little embarrassed. Reika explained, "I'm taking my high school entrance exams next March," she said. "I know I'm a little young to be dating Motoki, but sometimes love just isn't rational," she said, a little bit more quietly. "I'm a lot more mature then all the guys in my class, and being with Motoki just feels right. People joke about destiny, but... I believe in it. Especially when I'm with him."

Motoki, by this time, had turned the color of a tomato. "Reika..." he said, looking like he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him whole.

She grinned up at him. "I'm so happy with you that I want the whole world to know how I feel."

Mamoru looked at them. "I hope I'm never as head-over-heels as you two are. If I ever date a girl, she's going to know her place."

"Her place?" Usagi echoed, not really paying attention. The damn beeping was going through her skull. She could hear it throbbing into her skull.

"Uh-ohhhhh..." Motoki said, laughing. "We'd better leave, Reika! Here comes an Usa/Mamo battle royal!" he said. "All wise people run for cover when one of these blows up!" He wrapped his left arms around his girlfriend's slender waist, dragging her off to a more private location.

Mamoru watched them leave. "What is it about Reika, Usagi, that has you so on edge?"

Usagi pulled out the Crescent Wand, which was still beeping lightly, though its intensity had decreased. "Look," she said.

Mamoru looked at it. "Not good. And when you touched her?"

"Waves of dark energy."

"You think...." He trailed off, not wanting to believe that his best friend's girlfriend was one.

"Nijizuishou carrier. Makes things easier, in a way. Problem is, we don't know how to get the damn thing OUT," Usagi grumbled.

"Hmm," Mamoru murmured thoughtfully. "The wand can detect the carriers, obviously."

"Too bad we didn't know about *that* little function earlier," Usagi said with a scowl.

"And we know you have to use it to heal them when the crystal's been removed," he continued, ignoring the last comment.

"Wait a minute," Usagi interrupted, finally shaking off the effects of the bad feelings she was being swamped with. "Are you trying to say we might be able to use the wand *before* the Dark Kingdom does whatever it does to get the nijizuishou out of the carriers? Before another youma attacks?"

"Possibly. But I'm not sure exactly how."

Again the jingling of the front door bells rang through noticeably. The pair of undercover superheroes looked over and saw Motoki grinning as he returned to his customary position behind the counter. Reika must have left while they were talking.

Wait a minute... The two of them gasped as they both realized the significance of that little nugget of information. "Let's go!" Usagi cried as quietly as she could manage in her excitement.

"Right," Mamoru agreed, rising from his seat. "Let me pay for this and we'll leave." Usagi nodded and followed him from the table.

"Leaving so soon?" Motoki queried with a knowing smile on his face as he took the money Mamoru offered him for their drinks. "Need a little time alone, maybe?"

"Where did Reika go, anyway?" Usagi asked before her companion could get started again. "I thought she would have stayed longer."

"She would have, but her parents wanted her home for supper, and she lives a ways north of here. If she was going to get there on time she needed to leave now. I'll talk to her later."

"I'm sure you will, Motoki. Just be sure to let the girl get some sleep tonight. I know just how long-winded you can get," Mamoru drawled, smirking. "Now let's get going, Usagi. Reika isn't the only one who has parents who expect her." The girl shot him an annoyed look, but followed him out, the pair giving Motoki a last wave before the doors closed behind them and they found themselves outside on the sidewalk.

"You know, your last comment could be taken the wrong way, Mamo-chan!" Usagi shot. "Do you want Motoki to think we're dating?"

"I thought you said you didn't mind."

"Well... not Motoki! He'll never let either of us live it down!" Usagi protested, pouting slightly.

"Do you really care? I don't know if either of us will live through this."

Usagi halted and glared at him. "You are absolutely horrid. I don't want to think like that!"

Mamoru looked at her, his blue eyes hard. "You'd better start to. If you don't think about dying, you're a fool. You saw what those monsters did to your friends, and death is a very real part of this game we're playing. So if you're not willing to risk that, go home, little girl," he said.

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" she said stubbornly. "I'm in for the long haul, Mamoru. I just prefer not to go into it thinking I'll die. There's such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy, you know."

"There's also a little thing called denial," he snapped back. "If you don't face the reality of our situation, it could be detrimental to our cause."

Usagi's arm shot out, grabbed Mamoru by the lapel of his jacket, and dragged him down so he was at eye level with her. "I *will* *not* fail in my duty, Mamoru. Don't you worry about that. But the last thing Naru would want for me was to even think about dying in the process. I watched my best friend die; I know that is a very real possibility. But I *will* do everything in my power to come out of this alive, for Naru's sake. Because she'd want it that way. And the hell if I'm going to let you go before me. I won't lose anyone else." Her intense words and expression made up for the lack of volume as Mamoru recovered from the complete shock of her actions.

He straightened and readjusted his clothing. "Well, that being said..." His shaky voice cut off as a scream rang through the air from somewhere north of them. "Damn! It's happening again!"

"No!" Usagi cried as she ran off in that direction. She couldn't lose this fight. She just couldn't.

Mamoru grabbed her and dragged her into a nearby ally. "Change into Sailor Moon, then we can take Rooftop Highway," he said.

She nodded, deciding her embarrassment over her stupid henshin was outweighed by the urgency of the situation. "Don't you dare watch!" she commanded. "Moon Prism Power, Make-Up!" she yelled, feeling the energy course through her, and Mamoru threw his rose out to initiate his own change.

The change felt different. She could feel Mamoru's own power reverberate with her own, and it seemed to course over her in waves of refreshed power. The ribbons danced more intensely, and she wondered what was happening. Still, they didn't have time to sort things it- it would be something to discuss later. Perhaps it was due to him being able to help her channel with the Crescent Wand.

The transformations complete, Mamoru looked at her. "Need a lift?" he asked.

"Normally I'd say something about being a self-sufficient woman, but this is an emergency!" she said.

He nodded, cupping his hands. She stepped into it and he flung her upwards, and she used the momentum to go towards the nearest roof, but not before knocking his hat off his head. "Hey!" he exclaimed.

"Sorry!" she mocked. "I just can't stand that thing anymore!"

"You're just lucky I happen to share that opinion," he grumbled as he leapt up and joined her in a mad dash toward the source of the now-apparent disturbance.

The sight that met them when they arrived on the scene brought involuntary tears to Usagi's eyes. Reika was pinned to the ground in the courtyard of a large museum, a huge minataur-looking monster hovering above her. Just as the blonde hero was about to jump off the roof she had paused on and knock the ugly thing off the other girl, beams shot out from the creature's eyes and impacted its victim's chest. The screaming that had been echoing periodically intensified exponentially, finally ending with the blue nijizuishou hovering in the air above the now-motionless young woman.

With a wordless shout, Sailor Moon tackled the minataur, causing them to roll a distance away from Reika as a bright blue aura surrounded her, both breathless form the impact. "You lousy piece of trash!" Usagi gasped out as she kneed the creature where it mattered, having landed on top of it. "How dare you touch her?"

The thing lost what breath it had somehow recovered, but still managed to grit out, "You're too late, Sailor Moon. The Shadow Warrior has returned, and it shall rend your flesh from your bones."

"Promises, promises."

"We're not beaten yet," a familiar voice said from above the pile. "And we have the blue nijizuishou. So bring it, bucky. We don't lose."

Usagi looked up and saw Tuxedo Kamen standing next to them, a cocky smile on his face and the blue crystal displayed in his right hand. She started to return the expression when something else caught her eye. "Look out behind you!" she cried.

Tuxedo Kamen, minus his much-hated hat, didn't have time to see it coming.

Reika had transformed.

The youma who had once been the pretty young middle school student had risen from the ground, her features dramatically changed. Her long brown hair was gone, replaced by a yellow and red crop that only covered half her scalp. Her figured had developed more, and her skin had changed into a dramatic green. What almost amuse Sailor Moon was that her outfit was now more revealing then the senshi fuku. Still, it was the youma's eyes that horrified her.

None of her kindness remained, which she aptly demonstrated by jumping on top of Tuxedo Kamen while his back was turned, and proceeding to strangle him.

"Tuxedo Kamen!" Sailor Moon yelled, wondering what to do. She couldn't get a clear shot at the youma, and she had no clue what the Crescent Wand would do to him. "Get out of there!"

He had the presence of mind to pocket the nijizuishou before raising his hands to attempt to break free of the preternaturally strong hold.

"Give Rikoukeidaa your nijizuishou, Sailor Moon, and Rikoukeidaa will let your friend go," the monster purred, apparently naming itself.

Usagi's tortured thoughts were put on the backburner when the minataur beneath her pitched up and sent her flying. She just missed a large statue on top of a marble pedestal depicting a ancient samurai warrior, finally hitting the ground and somehow managing to roll back to her feet.

"Okay, that hurt," she ground out through clenched teeth as she gripped her left shoulder. It had taken the brunt of the fall. She quickly reassessed the situation and found that the dilemma hadn't changed. The creature formerly known as Reika still had her ally in a life-threatening hold, and the labyrinth escapee was hunting her down. She roller her eyes. Just another day at the office...

"I..." She let her eyes fill with tears from pain, and decided to do a flashback to the old Usagi. "WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!" she wailed at the top of her lungs.

Rikoukeidaa looked at the crying heroine in amazement. "This is the one who defeated my siblings?" she wondered aloud.

"You're sooooo mean....." Sailor Moon said, sniffling. "I'll give you the nijizuishou I have.... will that be enough? And I'll ask Tuxedo Kamen-sama to give you his..." she whimpered. "Just don't hurt me.

The youma wasn't about to question its good fortune when Sailor Moon produced the red and yellow gems. It released its prisoner, and walked towards Sailor Moon, forgetting about him in her haste.

With both monsters baring down on the supposedly defeated heroine and her partner staring at her as though he'd never seen her before, Usagi bided her time. Just when they were close enough to be unable to retrace their steps and threaten Tuxedo Kamen and far enough away to be unable to stop her she grinned, giving the dumbfounded man an outrageous wink. "You know what?" she asked with her usual spirit, tossing the two gems in the air slightly. "I think I changed my mind. You know how fickle teenagers are. Catch!" she yelled as she threw the nijizuishou in a high arc with marvelous accuracy to land at Mamoru's feet.

Everyone followed the trail of the red and yellow prizes in stunned amazement, Tuxedo Kamen fortunately being the first to recover and scoop them up and start moving. Usagi took advantage of the distraction and drew the Crescent Moon Wand, going into her healing attack as the youma turned their attention back to the blonde hero.

Just as the silvery light and energy was about to connect with Rikoukeidaa, she yanked the startled minataur into its path and rolled out of the way, snarling a barely intelligible threat.

Sailor Moon watched the minataur dissolve with mixed feelings. It was great the brute was gone, but Rikoukeidaa was still wandering around, and the longer she stayed that way...

"Tuxedo Kamen, are you okay?" she called.

"I'm going to have bruise marks tomorrow, but aside from that..." he said, pulling out three roses and fanning them between his right hand.

"Just tell them your girlfriend plays rough," Sailor Moon retorted before looking at Rikoukeidaa. "You need to hold still... this won't hurt that much!"

"Be careful," the caped hero warned the transformed carrier with a sardonic grin, "she tends to say that to me right before things get *really* rough." His eyebrows rose above the edge of the domino mask. "That good enough?"

Sailor Moon couldn't help but laugh. "Whatever works for you. Moon Healing Escalation!" Once more the silvery waves of energy washed out from the magical weapon toward the creature now standing still between both its targets, her rage-filled mind torn over who to rend limb from limb first. She screamed as the light reached its usual blinding intensity, and when it cleared, the ninth grader Rikoukeidaa had sprung from stood briefly before collapsing in a heap on the museum lawn.

"Reika!" both superheroes cried, dashing forward to check that the girl was truly alright. When they found that she was merely unconscious, they shared a huge sigh of relief and a knowing look that revealed how important saving this particular victim had been for both of them.

Usagi hated to disturb the moment of Zen her volatile relationship with Mamoru was having but she needed to clear up a little something about the goal of it all. She opened her mouth to politely demand her crystals back, and now thank you very much, when she gazed into the young man's face before her. She gasped as suddenly Mamoru's midnight blue eyes were visible from behind the normally opaque mask he wore. All the words she was about to say fled from her mind, and she decided the... request could wait until the next time they got together. Somehow, she just knew they'd still get together. "I'll see you tomorrow at Crown," she said softly. "We'd better get going before she wakes up."

He remained where he was, crouched beside his best friend's girlfriend, watching the little enigma that had barreled into his life like a lightning bolt walk away from him. Then, as though he were being tugged after her, he jerked to his feet and hurried to catch the petite blonde. "Hold on a second, Sailor Moon," he said as he reached her, digging into his pocket. "I believe we had a deal. Until tomorrow." He shot her one last smile and leapt to the roofs, quickly running off out of sight.

Usagi looked down at what he had pressed into her gloved hand. There, staring back at her, were the red, yellow, and blue crystals, twinkling merrily in the fading sunlight. A smile slowly transformed her features and she gripped her prize tightly. "Until tomorrow, Mamo-chan. You can count on that." She shook her head and ran off toward home.