Filler 2: Red Star Flakes
A/N: This is a filler. There's a small important feature in this chapter but if you skipped over it there would be no trouble. All brief mentions of things that'll be significant later will be explained when they show up so never fear! Hope this does not offend and provides some comic relief after a slightly gloomy chapter before this. Oh and as promised, with this filler is a regular chapter (Chapter 7) which is new and before this. Let me know what you think!
Thank you for reading!
"You're looking glum," Luna observed from beside him, his sigh adding more to his depressed nature. "What's wrong?"
Artemis shrugged, falling lazily to the ground as he stared monotonously out the sliding door to the gaze at the luxurious view from Usagi and Mamoru's expensive loft.
"Nothing," he said. "I'm just reminiscing."
"Hmm," Luna hummed, sitting patiently next to him as she too stared out the window of the sliding door. "You could go visit her, you know?"
Artemis looked up, and sighed, scratching his head with a paw as he nodded.
"I know," he replied.
"So," Luna prodded. "What're you waiting for?"
The white cat couldn't seem to find an answer, his eyes skimming the horizon for a clue that would never come.
"I just…" He huffed. "I just kind of feel like my sudden appearance could be construed as an omen."
Luna laughed warmly, wise eyes lowering as she took in his insecurities.
"I understand what you mean," she said.
Silence ensued heavily, the two deeply strained with memories of the girls they had wished they could peek in on. It was, of course, nice to be in the constant companionship of Mamoru and Usagi but the other girls were also dear to the two and they sometimes yearned to visit though they never seemed to make it.
In truth, they were afraid. They knew that their appearance only reminded the girls of their duty as the senshi and the last thing they wanted to do was provoke fear in the girls that their powers would be needed soon and that the lives they worked to gain would have to be postponed. Hence, they never could quite bring themselves to visit the senshi in this time of peace.
"The first time I met her, she was just a kid," Artemis reminisced. "Thirteen years old, can you believe it?"
Luna scoffed, "That is hard to fathom," she admitted.
"And I expected so much from her," Artemis frowned, his eyes hardening as he recounted his stern admonitions. "She wasn't much different from Usagi when we first met. Mainly she was more athletic and less of a crybaby but her compassion for people was just the same as Usagi's along with her quirkiness."
"Every day I'd push her, lecture her about how important this mission was…" Artemis drifted. "She'd always just nod but sometimes I felt like she didn't understand so I'd lecture her more. I had suspected she was the leader and so I thought I needed to be hard on her just so she'd be ready but now that I look back, I only lectured her because I didn't trust that she really was capable of performing her tasks."
"We've all had our moments of doubt Artemis," Luna intervened. "You're not the first to question whether or not either of these girls were actually capable of rising to their callings."
"I know," Artemis replied. "But it still pains me to think I could have had such little faith in her. She gave up everything she loved, volleyball, friends, just to appease me and all I could do was doubt her."
His eyes began to water, a labored breath escaping as he somberly wiped away the tears.
"She was just a child," he said.
"They all were," Luna replied.
Stoically they watched as the sun set, the colors in the room dimming as the cool night breeze started to seep in through the windows. The curtains ruffled with air, the pair heavy-hearted as they recalled their past deeds. At the time where demons roamed freely, they were desperate to keep the peace even if it meant sacrificing the youthful years of a group of teenage girls. But, now, when free time was plenty, they had many hours left to settle in regret of their actions.
"But look at them now," Luna started to say, always being the more optimistic of the pair. "Usagi is a famous actress, Rei is a sought after archaeologist and I hear Ami has taken up teaching. They each have an opportunity to regain their dreams, to accomplish their goals. It wasn't all bad."
"Any word on what Makoto and Minako are doing these days?" Artemis queried in his attempt to ease his guilty conscience.
"Not recently," Luna replied. "But I'm sure those two are fine. I can hardly imagine them being less than okay out there. After all, they've fought monsters, aliens and the like since their teenage years. How hard can it be to live in the real world?"
Artemis laughed, appreciating the picture Luna had drawn. It was true. They faced much worse before adulthood so it was difficult to picture them struggling amongst normal human beings. He took in a meditative breath of air, breathing outward to release tension as his muscles started to ease and his heart started to lighten.
"Besides," Luna again spoke. "The girls have always been known to exceed our expectations."
Artemis smiled broadly at that, bobbing his head in affirmation as he fondly recalled the many proud moments he had with them and Minako especially.
"They always came home," he said. "That's what I loved most about each of them."
This time, it was Luna's turn to nod in agreement. Smiling, much in contrast to his previous brooding, Artemis stretched out and picked himself up from the floor.
"Feeling better?" Luna asked.
"Much better," Artemis replied, his tail wagging behind him.
"Good," was Luna's simple response.
"Artemis, Luna, dinner's ready!" The two cats' ears perked with delight. Their light feathered steps gliding across the floor as they entered the kitchen.
Usagi was beaming from the counter, excitedly waiting for them as they came around to their bowls.
"I got you guys a treat!" She cheered, bringing a brown paper bag from behind her back. "Bon a petit!"
Luna's tail wagged gaily as she saw the red star flakes pouring from the bag. She was certainly enthralled by the surprise, her head immediately immersed in her bowl as she chowed freely. She purred with approval, Usagi smiling behind her. It was Mamoru who had noticed Artemis' devastating reaction which called Luna and Usagi's attention once he made mention of it.
"Artemis, are you okay?" Mamoru questioned with concern.
Luna's ears perked, her tail ceasing its happy wave as she turned to look beside her. In a melancholy heap, the white cat was on the floor crying, Luna's eye twitching at the sudden change in his behavior.
"Umm," Usagi sounded above them. "Did I do something wrong?"
Artemis sniveled, shaking his head to say it wasn't Usagi's fault.
"Minako-chan used to put red star flakes in my bowl to let me know she was out searching for the enemy," he wailed.
"Oh," Usagi said, "I never knew."
"Neither did I," Luna muttered, sighing in discontent as she shook her head in disapproval. She loved Artemis unconditionally but sometimes he was just too melodramatic for her to bear.
"I've ruined her childhood!" He bawled. "I don't deserve to be forgiven!"
Luna sighed, rubbing her head and motioning for Usagi to leave him be.
"Don't worry," Luna assured. "I'll take care of him."
The black cat then proceeded to nudge her feline companion out of the kitchen, his sobs shaking every so often as they paced out into the hallway. Usagi watched with concern until they disappeared, then released a sigh as she frowned at the bowls of red star flakes.
"He still blames himself for awakening us at such a young age," Usagi murmured into her hand as she bit nervously on her thumb.
"If he hadn't done it, the world may not have survived the destruction of the enemy," Mamoru pointed out with a sympathetic smile.
"I know," Usagi huffed, "But he just has so much trouble forgiving himself, especially when it comes to Minako-chan."
"He knew her best and watched her sacrifice so much," Mamoru mentioned, "It's only natural that he'd feel responsible."
"I just wish I could help him," Usagi sighed, taking a seat on a stool and burying her head in her hands. It hurt her to see Artemis in so much pain and though she tried to alleviate his guilt, it never did seem to work.
She felt the tension in her body release when his arms securely fastened themselves to her waist. He nuzzled her neck fondly, placing a tingling kiss on her bare skin before inhaling a large amount of her scent.
"Just like I have you to help me through hard times," Mamoru hummed in her ear, "he has Luna who knows better than anyone just what it takes to help him through his troubles."
Usagi smiled in reprieve, blushing slightly by the way Mamoru held her. She felt so much strength and reassurance echo through her, her body never wanting to leave his embrace as she savored the warmth and comfort he provided.
"You always know what to say to make me feel better," Usagi murmured, stroking his hair affectionately with one hand as he smiled.
"It's easy when you love someone so much," he admitted in her ear.
She seemed struck by his comment, her heart fluttering in delight as her eyes sparkled with adoration. He tilted her chin up gently and closed in slowly, his dark eyes that she loved so much, baring into her own. Their lips nearly touched, ready to dance with the other until suddenly hindered by the sound of a loud thump followed by a wail of pain.
"What was that?" Usagi jumped from her seat, she and Mamoru looking pointedly at the entrance to the kitchen.
Seconds later, Luna trotted in with a smile, a nod and a bee-line to her unfinished bowl of food.
"Umm," Usagi decided to speak up hesitantly. "Is everything okay?" She questioned.
"Yup," Luna said in between bites. "Why wouldn't it be?"
Mamoru scoffed, running a hand through his ebony hair.
"Well, there was a pretty unpleasant sound just before you came back," he said. "What happened?"
"It was just a little heart to heart," Luna smiled, the couple uncertain as to whether they should pry or leave it be.
"Okaaaay," Usagi droned, catching air of the scary aura illuminating around Luna.
Both Mamoru and Usagi turned when they heard another set of legs padding towards the kitchen, their eyes twitching when they saw the bright red gash across Artemis' face who appeared to have been shivering.
"My God, Luna, what did you do?" Usagi squealed, sweeping Artemis into her arms in an instant.
"It's okay, it's okay," Artemis kept saying. "It was my fault."
Mamoru had to hold down a laugh that he was sure would upset Usagi, but somehow the picture of an abusive Luna and a low esteemed Artemis that took the blame for her violent methods was just too much.
Luna sighed in dismay, nonchalantly shrugging as she continued to eat.
"Sometimes compassion can only get you so far," she muttered. "When you've lived as long as we have, perhaps you'll understand that sometimes what people really need is a good clean hit in the head to bring them back to Earth."
"Luna, you're a monster!" Usagi exclaimed, taking Artemis from the kitchen and to the bathroom where the first aid kit neatly resided.
Mamoru sighed, following after Usagi since he was certain she would need help treating the wound. Sure enough, she was calling for his aid soon after.
As Luna remained in the kitchen on her own, she finished her bowl and sat back in content.
"Hmm," she smiled, "I'd say that was a pretty good end to a long day."
Her vision then widened, her eyes skimming to the untouched bowl besides her empty one. With a smug grin she rationalized that the kind thing to do to make up for her potentially heinous act against Artemis was to finish his bowl so he wouldn't have to look at another red star flake and be reminded of his burning guilt. Hence, this was her reasoning as she trotted to his untouched dinner.