There was a story I recently that had the basic concept of Usagi going back into the past to when she was fourteen that sparked my interest back into this fandom. I'll be honest, it's been a long while since I wrote something, especially concerning Sailor Moon. However, since the idea wouldn't leave my head until I countered it with a story of my own, I decided to write this. Hope all you can appreciate and enjoy it.
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon and other rights belong to Takeuchi Naoko and other incorporated companies.
"Rome was not built in a day, nor by any one person. Doubtless, you have heard this many times over your life. This should also bring to light that the city was not ruled by one single person – oh certainly, you've heard of kings and such, but with a king lies a council, and amongst the council even more peons to push papers around and call the shots. Of course, ruling a country is no different than ruling a company – in most cases, the country is just bigger, with more people."
The fifty-something odd, balding, tall bean-sprout of a professor walked back and forth in front of the projection screen at the very front of the classroom. His beady eyes glanced over the two hundred students sitting in one his lecture that day, and he gave a large harrumph as he turned to face the class fully. Stroking his beardless chin, the man frowned up at one student in particular and pointed his finger in the student's direction.
The student's head popped up immediately, and she set down her pen atop her notepad, sitting up straight as she turned her attention fully towards the professor. Her professor gave her a long stare before his eyes shifted over to the back wall. Noticing the time for class was completely up, he moved around the table at the front of the classroom, and laid out several stacks of papers.
"I want each of you to write me a 2000-word essay distinctly describing the approaches to how you would run a country were you her king or queen, and then I would like you to fulfill the five activities in chapter two of your textbook. The essay will be due at the beginning of class on Friday, and the activities are due promptly Wednesday. I will accept no late homework, as you must already be aware, and any person who does not come in before I take attendance Wednesday will be counted absent unless by excuse of an immediate emergency. Each one of you come take one of each of these guides – one is your syllabus, and one is your schedule. We will convene again on Wednesday. You are dismissed."
The student who had been called upon earlier let out a soft sigh, vaguely noticing all the students around her begin to stand up and move down to the front of the class. It was the first day of class for the new semester, and she didn't really want to start it off on the wrong foot; not to mention she didn't know anyone just yet and couldn't rely on others' help. The lighting from the florescent lights lining the ceiling glinted off of her azure-blue eyes as she raised up her head. She pulled out her cell phone, noting the time and moved to slowly gather all of her materials and place them into her bag. Turning to move into the aisle, she, too, went down the stairs to retrieve the two necessary sheets from the table.
As she approached the table, the professor glanced at her briefly, noting both her appearance and somewhat serious countenance. When she gathered both of her sheets, he spoke:
"Tsukino-san, was it?"
Tsukino Usagi raised her eyes to meet his, nodding slowly. He crossed his arms over his chest, smiling. "I've heard of you from other teachers. You've got an eye for business, young lady."
Her eyes widened and Usagi let loose a small smile, happy that her efforts so far in university had done her well – more so than when she had been in junior high and early high school.
"However, and I stress this fervently," he continued, gaining her attention again, "taking notes may lead one to success, but taking notice of things to be noted will lead to an ultimate victory. In other words," he said, chuckling when her expression shifted to one of confusion, "Don't just take notes in class, Tsukino-san, but really try to listen to what I have to say. It's a large part of what running a business is all about."
As Usagi sat on the train watching building structures zoom past, she thought of her professor's words deeply. It was true that as soon as class had started, she had begun writing down a storm of everything she had thought to be important, but didn't hear much more than those points. If she didn't pay attention to everything as she was supposed to, the future of the world would be an infinitely bleak one. She glanced at her watch and made a small smile. She was on time for once, and her friends would never believe it.
Her long, golden-blonde tresses glinted from the reddened, evening sun as she shifted positions and waited impatiently for the next stop. Her bag was gripped tightly in her lap and so she easily felt the small pulse of something flow across her body. Usagi looked down in surprise when another pulse flew through her and although she had a good idea of what was causing it, there was nothing she could do in a train car crowded with kids and young adults going home from school activities. When the train stopped moments later at her station, Azabu-Juuban, Usagi hurriedly got off reaching deep into her bag for her wallet. Pressing her IC card against the card reader, she went through the ticket gates and took a deep breath as she walked towards an exit. Usagi delved back into her bag, exchanging her wallet for a broach about the size of her palm.
It had been a long while since she had paid much attention to the broach, if only to look at it. She still used it regularly, but she hadn't thought to take the time to consider its general features. A heart-shaped broach with wings extending off the sides, glittering with gold along the molding and the crystal glittering gold in the center. Flipping it in her hand as she walked down the street towards her friend's shrine, she felt the crystal pulse strongly and its rays washed over her, almost in a cleansing fashion.
As of lately, there hadn't been too many battles for her to involve herself in, and if there were, she could normally take them on alone. Many things were done alone for her lately, and not just fighting battles against even spirits and demons. Usagi avoided a near collision with another woman racing down the street, and she slid the broach back into her bag and calmly looked up at the quickly darkening, evening sky. The young woman had begun university courses two years before at Keio University, surprisingly. Even she was still surprised to that very day, because she still couldn't believe she had actually passed her exams for it. Of course, she had studied harder than ever just to get into the disreputably distinguished school, but that was such a far cry from when she had been in middle school averaging grades of forties.
All of her other friends had also moved away from Tokyo for the most part to go to schools most befitting to them. Usagi longed for the days where she could hang out with her friends regardless of time of day or year, but she had done some serious maturing over the years. She realized that just because they were apart, that did not mean they were not still the same good friends they always had been. Usagi smiled softly as she remembered all the fun activities she had done with her friends and she had hardly realized she had moved across the city to her friend's shrine until she was looking up the hundreds of steps leading to it. Glancing at her watch really quickly, Usagi grinned when she realized she was indeed on time. Well, would wonders never cease.
Walking up the stairs, Usagi's long ponytail swayed from side to side as her heels click-clacked on the concrete steps. Though she had walked up so many, Usagi hadn't felt the least bit out of breath, and she gave the shrine a quick look-over, sighing as she understood that this shrine was one of the few constants in her life that would stay a constant. She pushed her bag onto her shoulder and walked around the shrine towards the side where she knew her friend resided. Hearing loud bouts of laughter, Usagi smiled softly and leaned over to slide open the older, paper doors. Five faces peered out at her, a grin slowly growing on each one.
"Usagi-chan!" chorused all five of the women. One woman in particular looked up at the clock on her wall and stared at the blonde with disbelief apparent in her expression. "You're on time!"
"Of course I'm on time," she retorted casually, taking off her heels and sliding onto the wooden platform connecting to the outside of the room. "How could I be late to one of the first parties we've had for months?"
"You were last time," came a quick reply, to which Usagi childishly stuck out her tongue.
"Times change when you're as amazing as I am."
"Gee, I'm not sure which Usagi I like more," the other woman replied, her violet eyes twitching slightly from irritation as she pushed her long, raven-black hair out of the way. "The crybaby who never got the hint of how annoying she was, or the oh-so-mature one who still never takes a hint."
"Dear, dear Rei," Usagi began, fully scooting into the room and sliding the door closed behind her, "there are none more annoying than my lovely friend and rival, you."
"Why you little annoying twit!" yelled Hino Rei, standing up tall to look down on the blonde. "You haven't changed at all!"
"It takes one to know one, and at least I don't go around holding Care Bears next to me on trains!"
"Wha-! You said you wouldn't tell anyone about that, you twit!"
"Oh, oops, did I say that? Well, I have to say you really are quite adorable when you do…"
The two girls glared deeply at each other as the four other women present in the room stared up at them, not wanting to get involved in the least. Rei and Usagi continued to glare at one another for a couple more minutes before both broke down with smile and light laughter. Rei held out a hand, grinning at her long time friend.
"It's great to see you again, Usagi-chan."
"It definitely is," replied the blonde, grasping Rei's hand firmly. She turned to sit down and smiled at the four other women.
Her eyes first sought out the woman closest to her, still wearing her trademark short-cut, turquoise-blue hair, although she appeared to be growing it out some. Mizuno Ami's eyes were still the same pure, ocean-blue they had always been when both her and Usagi had been younger, and they still seemed so kind and wise through Usagi's eyes. Usagi shifted her gaze over to the woman sitting next to Ami, with her garnet-red eyes looking back at Usagi kindly. Meiou Setsuna was one of the eldest women in the room, though only in her late twenties, or so she appeared. Her lovely forest-green hair still ran down in waves, pooling along the floor. Usagi was still jealous of how beautiful and smart the older woman was, but no one had the ability to ever choose how they were going to look. Still, she couldn't help but be jealous…a lot.
Usagi then moved to look at the couple sitting over in the corner, and noticed the trademark dirty-blonde hair cut into a more masculine hairstyle on Tenou Haruka, and the long, wavy, aquamarine-green hair of Kaiou Michiru. The two were the first ever lesbian couple she had ever had the opportunity to meet, although it didn't change how amazing of friends they were. Both blondes looked at each other and Haruka leaned forward and gently shook a can of beer in front of Usagi's face, grinning all the while.
"You finished checking us out, little Usagi? Come on, drink up. That's what we're here for."
The younger blonde blinked a few times as she reached out to take the can and look over at Ami and Rei to confirm that they, too, were drinking as well. Ami rocked back and forth her glass of beer, smiling gently at Usagi. Gasping, Usagi set down her can and pointed at the genius:
"You're drinking! You never drink! Wait, are you even allowed to drink? Aren't you a doctor? Can doctors drink?"
"I'm off-duty, Usagi," Ami said, chuckling, "and I'm still in med school. I won't be a doctor for years yet. I can drink just fine."
Rei leaned forward muttering, "The one who can't hold her liquor is you, Usagi…"
Setsuna smirked slightly, shrugging as she looked over at Haruka and Michiru. "Well, she could never drink in the past as a princess either."
Haruka and Michiru chuckled slightly at Usagi's expense, and the latter narrowed her eyes, giving each woman a hard look. "You just watch! I'll out-drink you all!"
Haruka looked up quickly, and dived forward, putting her face in Usagi's. "Is that a challenge, little bunny? I'll win, you know."
"You wish," Usagi countered, opening her can of beer with a soft hiss.
"Then how about a little wager?"
"I'm up for that. What'd you have in mind?"
"Loser molests Setsuna."
"What…? I don't want to molest a girl," Usagi muttered slowly, but when she saw the smug expression on Haruka's face, and the shocked expression on Setsuna's, she found she couldn't turn down the deal. She liked seeing Haruka get knocked down off of her pedestal every so often, and seeing Setsuna look anything short of serious or kind was rare indeed.
"Fine," Usagi murmured, smirking as she pushed her can of beer in Haruka's face. "Let's up the ante then! I win, and I get Michiru for a week, and you have to make it so Setsuna actually starts enjoying herself!"
Ami, Rei, Michiru, and Setsuna looked at Usagi, completely aghast, the latter two of the four especially. The forest-green-haired woman moved between the two blondes as a type of referee, and cried out her indignation. "How dare you two," she shouted, glaring at them both. "Who are you to bring me into your deal!"
"I concur," muttered Michiru. "I'm an innocent party over here. Don't bring me into this."
"There's nothing to a challenge if you don't make a really good bet on it," Haruka stated matter-of-factly. "You'll just have to sit there and deal. Besides, you could tell people you were molested by the Queen of the Earth, Setsuna."
"Then have her molest you!"
"I have Michiru," the blonde rebuked innocently. "What more do I need?"
Michiru turned away, sardonically whispering, "Only if you win. Why was I pulled into this again?"
Setsuna kept pestering Haruka, though the latter finally shouted, "Deal, Usagi! If I win then, you molest…Rei, Ami, and Setsuna, and make sure they enjoy it!"
"Fine!" Usagi conceded. "Here's to the first can!"
Setsuna sat back against the wall, face pale and feeling completely victimized. Rei glared at Haruka, wondering how the hell she got pulled into the dumb deal, too, and Ami figured she could leave if things got too chaotic. Rei then glared over at her, knowing exactly what the genius had been thinking. Michiru tilted her glass at the other three women who had been pulled into the deal as well, smiling slightly.
"Here's to a wonderful reunion."
"Cheers," the other three mumbled, each drinking their glass dry.
The mist permeated the area where Usagi walked, and her eyes darted back and forth with caution. Her feet tapped against the ground lightly as she walked aimlessly through the mist, wondering where she was and how she had gotten there. She heard a burst of explosion in the distance, and barely had enough time to dodge out of the way and roll across the hard concrete. A flash of light sparked in her peripheral vision and she stood up to dash away again only to get blasted back and crashing to the ground. Usagi groaned, her gaze unfocused as she turned to look up and around her. A figure came up to her, frowning when she who was lying on the ground.
Usagi's expression tightened and she quickly rose, spun around and flipped backwards, landing into a fighting stance. She was about to challenge whoever had found out her identity until she realized just who was staring back at her in confusion.
"Sailor…Pluto?" Usagi questioned tentatively. "Setsuna? What's wrong? Was there something you didn't tell me at the party?"
"I do not know what you mean about a party, Sailor Moon, nor do I know how you know my Earthen name, but I have come to give you a warning."
"A warning? Why didn't you just tell me this earlier before I drank myself half to death?" Usagi asked, completely bewildered. "Does this have to do with a new evil?"
"The tides have changed, Sailor Moon. Your life as you know it no longer exists. I am sorry this had to happen to you, but you must learn to adapt, and rise up once again."
"Rise up? Tides? What are you talking about, Sailor Pluto? I don't understand!"
"I am sorry, but this was never supposed to happen to you. Please, take care."
"Huh?" Usagi whispered, not understanding what the senshi was telling her at all.
The two looked back behind Usagi when they heard another bang in the distance. Usagi, too preoccupied with what she had just heard didn't notice as Pluto raised her staff, and stabbed the end through Usagi's torso from behind her.
What? thought Usagi, as she saw the ginzuishou soar out of her body. It was…in me, were the last words she thought as she saw the ginzuishou shatter into millions and millions of pieces.
Usagi fell down to the ground, eyes wide and vacant as she lay there, no longer breathing. Sailor Pluto clutched her staff to her body, watching as white energy slowly rose up from the fallen senshi's body and floated towards the now open Gates of Time. A tear slowly slid down Sailor Pluto's cheek, and she bit her lip.
"I…am so sorry, my Princess…"
Usagi's eyes shot open, before she put a hand to her head. She was surprised to find she didn't sport any kind of headache, even after drinking nine cans of beer – though she had probably been drunk by the third, since she really, really couldn't hold her liquor as Rei had noted. Turning to look up over her head at the bookshelf at the head of her bed, she noticed her clock had switched from being the sleek model her boyfriend, Chiba Mamoru, had bought for her and back to the cute rooster thing she thought she had thrown in a box and forgotten about long ago. Chuckling, she realized her mother must have gotten nostalgic again and had switched it around. This wasn't the first time for it to happen – she'd just have to trade them out again when she got home from school. Usagi pushed off her comforter – that had changed, too…was her mom really that nostalgic lately? – and threw her legs over the side of her bed.
What to wear that day was her first thought at hand and she rubbed the back of her right hand over her eyes as she yawned and walked over to her closet. She really enjoyed being a university student and not having to wear the same, old uniform every day, but it was definitely taxing to find something different and suitable to wear all the time. Couldn't be anything too fancy or too grungy – in general, wearing a uniform had its perks, she supposed. Choosing a simple pair of jeans, a short-sleeved blouse and a low-keyed belt to wear, she set them on the bed and went to go wash her face in the restroom. After a few minutes, she returned to her room with her long hair combed down and into her usual ponytail, got dressed, and turned to grab her bag – a bag that seemed to be missing.
"What did I do with that?" she muttered, looking around curiously. It was her favorite bag and she never went to school without it, but since she had woken up in her bed, maybe that meant Haruka or Setsuna had driven her home and had forgotten to bring her bag back with them. Well, it wasn't so important that she needed it that exact day anyway. She would ask them about it later.
She grabbed a different notebook from her closet, a few pencils, and stuck everything in another purse she had lying around. "Now," she murmured, beginning to get annoyed. "Where is my cell phone?"
Her frustration mounted a bit when she realized she'd left that in her bag, too. "I'll just have to head over to Rei's later then, I guess. Ridiculous. I'm not drinking with that woman again. I don't even know if I won or not."
Usagi hefted her bag onto her shoulder and walked out of her room, closing it after her. Filing downstairs, she called out her good-byes to her mother and walked towards the front door.
"You're leaving so early, Usagi-chan?"
"Yep," the blonde said, turning back to smile at her confused mother coming down the hallway. "If I don't leave now, the station will get really crowded and I'll have to wait in line for a while."
"Train?" echoed Tsukino Ikuko, confused. "I'm not sure what you're talking about, but are you planning to leave the house looking like that?"
Usagi turned to look back at her mother, eyes wide as she made complete eye contact. "What do you mean? Do I look bad? And yes, the train. How else am I supposed to get to school? Walk? Well, I mean, I could, but…"
"This must be another of your antics, Usagi-chan," sighed Ikuko softly. "Well, I won't be having it today, no ma'am. I'd had such high hopes, too, seeing you up so bright and early."
"What are you talking about, Mom?"
"Go back upstairs and put on your uniform," the woman admonished, turning around to go back into the kitchen. "Good gracious, the train, she says. What will I hear next?"
"Wha-," Usagi choked out, staring after her mom. "What uniform? Well, whatever, I'm heading to school now. See you, Mom?"
She turned around to grasp hold of the door when she heard her mom shout at her to go back and put on her uniform. Really confused, Usagi was about to shout back when she noticed someone come running down the stairs and stare at her. Usagi stared back at the young-looking boy, disbelief etched into her features.
"Shingo?" she whispered. "You look so…young."
Shingo looked at her as if she had grew a third eye or something. "I'm ten-and-a-half, you dumb butt. What am I supposed to look like, an elephant? Wow, you get more and more stupid every day."
"Ten?" Usagi gasped out, eyes wider than ever. He's ten? Wait, uniform? I should…check this out.
She rushed past her younger brother, gently pushing him aside as she ran up the stairs two-by-two. He shook his head, his messy, chestnut-brown hair flying everywhere. "Mom," he called, going into the kitchen, "I think Usagi just got weirder!"
Usagi burst into her room, and looked up at her wall to see her junior high uniform resting on a hanger. What! she thought incredulously. It couldn't be! She hadn't worn that outfit for years! However, the proof was hanging right in front of her, although she couldn't understand what was going on at all. Swirling around and running up to her mirror, she glanced in it only to see herself…looking far, far younger.
"Is…is this me?" she whispered, slowly lifting up a hand to feel her now-so-much-pudgier cheeks. "I haven't…had this much weight on me since I was…"
She looked back up at her uniform, her eyes narrowing slightly as she took on a more serious countenance. "Since before I was Sailor Moon. And if that's the case, then something has gone wrong. I will have to discuss this with Sailor Pluto immediately."
The blonde turned her gaze over towards the clock on her table, frowning slightly. She only had thirty minutes to get to school, so there wasn't near enough time to summon the Time Guardian senshi to her and have a thorough talk. I'll just have to go ahead and go to school as the Usagi of now would, she thought to herself as she pulled her uniform off of its hanger. I'll deal with Sailor Pluto later.
Turning then to grab the bag she had used in junior high, she walked out of her room a second time and walked down the stairs. "I'm off," she called out towards the kitchen, and she walked over towards the entryway of the house and put on her shoes for school. She waved briefly at a smiling Ikuko and walked out of the house and down the street.
It had been quite a while since she'd taken this path to her old school, and she wasn't even sure if she clearly remembered the way. She looked from side to side as she casually walked, her sharp, azure-blue eyes taking in every detail. Cars raced by her and she frowned, wishing she had her license back – it wasn't as if she ever actually drove, but it was always a welcome feeling to know that she was at least legal to do so. She started when she heard a loud mewling sound, and narrowed her eyes slightly. When she heard it again, Usagi exhaled slightly and began pushing herself to run as fast as she could to the source. Running up along a wall and sliding around into the first entrance she saw, Usagi noticed three children holding down a black cat and doing something to it.
"Luna," she muttered, walking up to the children. Standing over the three of them, she put her left hand on hip as she glared down at them.
"What the hell are you kids doing. Get out of here."
The three children, spooked that she'd managed to sneak up on them, dropped the cat and ran away as fast as their little legs could carry them. She sighed, and turned to look down at the pathetic creature on the ground. Well, Luna wasn't really pathetic by any means, but Usagi hadn't been the only one to mature over the years. She bent down to pick up the mewing cat and slowly and tenderly pulled off the two band-aids covering Luna's crescent moon. Usagi smiled gently when Luna's ruby-red eyes opened wide and peered curiously at the blonde. To Usagi's chagrin, however, the black cat quickly leapt up out of her arms up to atop of her head and then over to the top of a nearby car.
The now-young-teenager looked up at the cat, eyes narrowed. I suppose since nothing else in my life is constant, she won't be either. That means…she doesn't remember me at all. That's a painful thing to try to realize.
Although the last time Usagi had seen the cat had been that morning before she had left for school, it now felt like ages upon ages. She was surprised however, when Luna laid down on the car and tilted her head at Usagi. The two stared at one another before Usagi hesitantly asked,
One of Luna's eyebrows rose mockingly – just like old times, to Usagi's annoyance. "And now things get just a bit weirder."
Usagi stared at the cat, shocked. "What, you're talking to me? I don't remember you talking to me the first time I met you?"
"I didn't," replied the cat bluntly. "Well, glad to see I'm not the only one in this backwards past."
Usagi gazed around her, making sure the coast was clear before she started talking to the cat like a person mentally ill. Snapping her serious gaze back at Luna, she whispered harshly, "What's going on? Last night I was downing drinks with Haruka, and today I'm stuck in some kind of time vortex in the past."
"It's not a vortex," Luna stated, her own expression serious. "This is reality. However, this is a reality only you and I should not be part of. Do you remember anything strange happening over the time since I saw you last?"
The blonde seemed a bit taken aback, but quickly recovered as she searched through her memories. "The ginzuishou was pulsating quite a bit more than usual, but nothing had happened at that point, so I didn't pay too much attention to it."
"That's not enough to go on, Usagi-chan. Anything else?"
"Hmm," she murmured, thinking deeply. A flash of a crystal shattering fluttered across her mind and she made herself hold onto the fleeting vision. "I don't…know if it's a dream or a vision, or what, but I clearly saw the ginzuishou shattering into a million pieces."
Luna tilted her head at this new piece of information. "Interesting, but won't get us anywhere at the moment. At this point, all we can do is let life play as it should, though we've already managed to muck it up somewhat. I suggest you go to school and I'll go talk to Artemis, I mean…Central Control," she corrected herself, rolling her eyes as Usagi let loose a small smile.
"Oh, before you go," the cat continued, standing up and stretching as Usagi turned back to look at her. Luna jumped high into the air, performing a small back-flip as a small locket fell down and clanged against the top of the car. When she landed, Luna said, "I'm going to go see if I can track down Artemis and Minako if possible, so I might be gone for a while. However, there are still demons you must take care of, so use this. I'm sure you can get rid of a few on your own?"
"Oh sure," Usagi muttered, flipping the locket up and catching it tightly. "As long as they don't start throwing dark energy and little, pink-haired kids at me. I'll be fine. The sooner you can get those two in on the action, the sooner we can go ahead and take down the Dark Kingdom."
"All right then. Good luck, Usagi," Luna whispered, smiling down warmly at her charge. Usagi's expression turned into one of concern when she realized Luna wasn't ready to leave yet. Luna's ruby-red eyes peered down at Usagi, who returned the gaze completely.
Luna looked down for a few second before glancing back up determinedly. "Actually, I wonder if you might help me in my search instead of going to school…"
When seeing Usagi's expression change into a bewildered one, she hurriedly rushed to explain: "I do not ask for your help lightly. I would never take you away from your studies, but going back to your junior high classes will not help you one bit at the moment. We have more serious matters to concern ourselves with."
"Not that I don't agree," Usagi conceded, knowing she hadn't really wanted to go to school in the first place – at least not to her junior high classes anyway – but this was something Luna had never done before, "but what about the youma we have to deal with here? I can't remember exactly, but I could have sworn there was something special that I did today."
"We'll have to cross that bridge when it comes, Usagi," Luna stated, a touch of exasperation present in her tone. "There are probably a great many things we missed the first time around, and it was mostly because we didn't have the military backup for it. The more senshi we find now, the sooner we can finish, just as you said."
Well, when Luna put it that way, Usagi couldn't help but to understand the logic in it. Going to school really wouldn't help her at all this late in the game, and if nothing else, she could ask some people for notes. It probably wouldn't be entirely necessary though. Usagi wasn't stupid, just lazy beyond repair. Some things just didn't change.
"All right, I'll go," Usagi relented, pushing her shoulders back and her head up high. "I have a good idea of where Minako is anyway. She should be here in Japan by now, and not still in the UK. She'll be in class like the good girl she is."
Luna glanced at her oddly, echoing incredulously, " 'Good girl,' you say? Are we talking about the same Aino Minako here?"
"Well, okay, fine. So she has her moments."
Usagi smiled slightly as she recalled the times of partying with her blonde friend, and grinned up at Luna. "She's over at Shiba-Kouen junior high. We won't be able to catch her until later. You sure you still want to go now?"
"Hmm," Luna murmured, thinking deeply. "We need to flush them out. They won't show up unless it's an emergency, and walking straight into their school won't do…"
"Why not just go to her house after school?"
"Her house?" cried Luna, taken aback before she repeated in a softer tone, "Her house? I suppose that would be simplest…"
"Great," Usagi said, smiling. "Nothing to do but wait for her to get out of school, so I think I'll just go to school myself anyway. How about I meet you at the station, and we'll take the train over there after I get out?"
Seeing Luna nod slowly, Usagi grinned and starting really looking forward to seeing her old friend again, even if said friend didn't know about her in return. She turned around to look for a clock and cringed when she saw the time. "I missed homeroom already. I've got to get going. I'll see you at the station later, Luna!"
Usagi waved at Luna quickly before dashing away and down the street. Luna frowned as the blonde, young woman left her presence, before rising up and stretching her entire body. While Usagi was gone, Luna had a few more tasks to complete that she, as a cat, could definitely get away with.
Jumping down to the pavement, Luna paced around wondering which area she should visit first. Kino Makoto would have to wait for a while, as no one knew what school she had gone to previously. The woman hadn't particularly liked speaking of her past to anyone, even after so many years. Mizuno Ami was another mystery, as she didn't know the exact academy the highly intelligent girl had attended. The Outer Senshi wouldn't appear for a while, and hunting them down was not an option either, so the only one she could physically search out at that moment was Hino Rei. A simple enough task – Luna knew what school she attended, and knew how to infiltrate it. Her mind set on what she would do, the black cat immediately shifted direction and jumped back onto the car and onto a nearby wall edge, before switching direction again and running towards where T*A Private Girls School was located.
Jumping from building to building took a lot more out of her now than it had in years for her, and the trip ending up taking the better part of an hour as opposed to the thirty minutes she could normally do. Luna laid down on the concrete ground, breathing in and out hard as she stared through the gates of the school and onto the building itself. Luckily for her, perhaps, that it was lunch time and that all the girls were outside enjoying the nice weather. Noticing the high walls, however, Luna realized she'd never be able to scale the walls successfully, and so began searching for alternatives ways to get in.
After taking thirty minutes to search around the entire perimeter, she found there were little loopholes to take advantage of, and realized she would have to do something more drastic instead. Of course, she could wait for school to end, but that wouldn't give her enough time to talk to Rei. Lunch time was almost over as well, so Luna had to hurry. She paced in front of the front gate, checking out the size of each space between all the bars. Maybe she could fit through, but it would definitely take her some work and flexibility.
Putting her head at one of the spaces, she pushed through bit by bit until she realized she would never be able to get her head back out if something happened. When she looked around her again in annoyance for another possible route, she noticed a small drainage area leading under the wall and into the school area. She needed to get in, sure, but she didn't want to smell like sewage in doing so. Noticing the young women in the school start to pack up their lunches and move inside, she let out a small growl, frustrated her reconnaissance hadn't helped her any. Luna sighed softly, her eyes drooping slightly as she realized she would indeed have to wait for Usagi to help her out.
She turned away from the gate to start her journey back towards Azabu-Juuban Junior High and ran down the sidewalk to claw up a nearby tree and jump from it to a nearby wall. From there, she hopped from wall to wall until she eventually came across low windows on various buildings. It wasn't long before she was jumping from roof to roof and looking down on the city as she went. There was virtually nothing the cat could do until Usagi got out of school, but whereas she had spent all her time scouting out Usagi the first time around and had that take up her entire day, that was now an unnecessary practice to undertake.
Eventually, Luna landed down on the sidewalk across the street from a well-known jewelry store. Frowning slightly as she stared over at the store, it dawned upon her that this was the place where Sailor Moon had fought against her very first youma. Not that it had been much of an accomplishment, but it was still something to take note of. Luna's eyes intently focused on the building, her tail twitching every so often as thought after thought ran through her mind. Though it wasn't in Usagi's friend's best interests, perhaps waiting a few more days for the youma to…no, no, Luna amended mentally. Letting the Dark Kingdom accumulate any energy at all was not beneficial to their cause. The youma would have to be taken care of promptly…but that couldn't happen until evening came. There was still a lot of time before that would take place.
"Well, aren't you a cute kitty?"
Luna's head turned sharply to look up at the person who had spoken down at her, her tail twitching ever more rapidly. Her glare softened slightly when she took in the man's midnight-black hair and kind, storm-blue eyes, realizing exactly who it was talking to her. When the man crouched down and gently beckoned for Luna to come to him, she decided to do so – this man wasn't a threat to her or Usagi, not in the least. He scratched behind her ears, and she couldn't stop her purrs from coming out, much to her embarrassment. He smiled good-naturedly at her. "Hey, I'm Mamoru. I wonder what your name is, little one."
She mewed a bit in response, unsure of what else to do. Chiba Mamoru tilted his head and chuckled a bit. "Well, you're sure a quiet one, but really beautiful. I bet you get all the men, huh?"
Luna's blush intensified a bit, and she mewed pitifully. Wow, this was really embarrassing for her, and she would make sure to pay him back later for it. However…while she was there with him, she may as well try recruiting him. A small smile grew on her face and she ran away quickly from the confused man before looking back at him and meowing. Mamoru stood up fully and rubbed the back of his head with his right hand, wondering what was going on. Luna called out to him once more, and he shrugged his shoulders.
"You want me to follow you, little one? Well, okay. I've nothing better to do right now, so why not?"
Pleased the man wasn't as stupid as he had at first seemed, Luna took the lead, trying to figure out a suitable place to start talking to him. A closed-off lot would be the best place, and would give them some solace, but it couldn't be too shady, or the man would never go for it. She looked back every so often to make sure the man was still following her, but he was still right behind her each time she looked, though looking very curious. It must have been an interesting seeing a grown man follow behind a small cat, such as she was.
She walked past a dark alleyway leading back into a construction site before she stopped, and doubled back to get down the alleyway. She called out an order with mews to make Mamoru keep following her, and he did…grudgingly, and only because he was extremely curious.
"Do you have a family down this way or something, kitty? I wonder if they need food…how many kittens come in a litter anyway?" Mamoru asked himself rhetorically. "I might have some milk at home…what do kittens eat?"
Luna was touched that the man would think to feed her family if she had given birth to one. It made her feel a little protective over him and she was beginning to understand more and more why Usagi loved the man so much.
Leading him into an open area surrounded by machines and construction material, Luna promptly sat back on her haunches and looked up at the man looking around curiously. He cupped his ears, as if trying to magnify his hearing. "That's funny," he murmured. "I don't hear anything…"
She cleared her throat, gaining Mamoru's immediate attention. "Did you," he began hesitantly, "just clear your throat?"
"Hello Mamoru. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Luna."
Mamoru stared down at the cat, stunned that she could talk. "This must be some kind of joke," he concluded, looking around. "All right, whoever's joking around here, come out now! What do you take me as, some kind of fool?"
"Listen to me," Luna snapped, irritated. "There are no special effects or whatnot allowing me to talk. I am doing just what I appear to be doing: talking. Now you will listen to me, and you will listen well."
"Let me guess," Mamoru said, all kindness having left his expression and leaving it ultimately blank. "You're some magic being from some other planet who's come down to Earth because there's some amazing evil out to get the humans and kill us all."
"A little rough around the edges," Luna replied, "but a decent enough guess, I'll gather. I'm sure you don't believe me, but I can prove—"
"Believe you?" Mamoru burst out, his tone full of disbelief. "How am I supposed to believe you? You're a cat and cats don't talk!"
Luna hissed at him and he quieted down, though looking disgruntled all the while. "I told you to listen, and you will listen. Things are about to change for you, no matter what you choose to believe. I just thought you might want to have an answer to what's going on instead of waking up at night in a cold sweat with dreams of mysterious princesses floating around in your head all the time."
Mamoru opened his mouth to rebuke her in the middle of her speech, but became speechless when she finally finished. "Wait," he choked out, "how did you know about my dreams?"
"I know a lot about you, Chiba Mamoru, which is why I would like for you to help me in a cause that will help save the world."
"This seems like way too much," Mamoru murmured, frowning slightly. "Saving the world? Wait, does this mean you know who that princess is?"
Luna tilted her head slightly, smiling mysteriously. "What if I said I did, and could tell you exactly who she was?"
Mamoru stared down at her, realizing this was something he would have to see through to the end if nothing else but to save his own sanity. Slowly exhaling, he looked at the cat with a serious expression. "Fine. You have my full attention. Tell me what I can do to help you."
He could swear he saw the little menace smirk at him, and it kind of ticked him off. "Just remember to pay your own dues, cat."
"I always pay back in full, Mamoru, dear," Luna said loftily, waving a paw in the area as she rolled her eyes. "However, there's not much I can tell you at the moment. There are two more people I need to scout tonight, and I would rather tell you all as one instead of one-by-one. It will make it so much easier to answer questions that way."
He crossed his hands over his chest as he listened to Luna speak, and nodded his head slightly. "That makes sense. Fine. Just tell me where and when you'd like to meet and I'll be there, no problem. I don't have anything particularly important to do today, anyway."
"I appreciate your cooperation," Luna said in reply. "If you know of the Hikawa Shrine, I would like for you to be there around seven-thirty to eight o'clock tonight, if at all possible. If you don't show up, I'll understand you couldn't make it, and I'll find you again at some other point in time."
Mamoru watched the black cat walk away from him and down the alley, and narrowed his eyes. "This had better be good," he muttered, sticking his hands into the pockets of his forest-green blazer. "But then again," he murmured, looking up at the sky, "I can't help but hope this is going put a stop to it all."
When Usagi got out of school that day, she was feeling utterly exhausted. She hadn't been in such a young environment for a long while, and she felt completely worn out mentally. The classes themselves were far more relaxing, but it helped that she actually understood what was being said this time around. Usagi also hadn't been involved with Osaka Naru for a long while – they kept in contact, but it was inconsistent at best as both had found new crowds to join with in high school and university. She needed to reestablish a decent connection with the other girl, but Usagi wasn't sure she was willing to take that step just yet, or at least she wouldn't until she figured out how she was going to go about approaching the Dark Kingdom subject. Even if Minako did listen to them, would she really join them? Usagi wasn't so sure anymore.
It was with great surprise that she saw Luna waiting for her up on the wall connecting to the school gates. Frowning softly, Usagi walked up to the wall and allowed Luna to jump down onto her shoulder. Giving a quick look back to make sure no one took any special attention to the two, Usagi walked away from her school and immediately headed for the train station.
"What's going on, Luna?" Usagi muttered under her breath, looking around to make sure they weren't being watched by anyone too intently. "What happened to meeting at the station?"
"Little change of plans," Luna whispered, trying to act like a normal cat might when laying over a person's shoulder. "I would like to scout out Rei today, too, if possible. I feel if we get her earlier…"
"I'm not sure it will change anything, but it will certainly be better than forcing her to transform during a battle again, I guess."
"If we have it our way, that battle won't even take place."
The two had already reached the station and were boarding one of the trains before either noticed, having been so deeply involved in their conversation. Usagi stayed standing even though there were other seats available – they only needed to go one stop before they got off to switch to a different train line. Usagi looked out of the window, though there wasn't really anything to take notice of – subways were like that in that there was nothing around to appreciate but the people around oneself. Unfortunately, Usagi didn't really care about those around her; if they weren't in trouble, and weren't connected to her in some way…she didn't really care.
Caring for everyone all the time is a wonderful trait, and I admire my younger self for doing it, but at this stage, it will only get me killed, Usagi thought to herself. I sound really cynical right now…I guess six years has changed me a lot, but I wonder if it was all for the better?
She turned to look down at the cat sitting at her feet, and her lips tightened as she turned back to look out of the window. Am I a worse person now than I was then?
It took approximately fifteen more minutes for the two to switch train lines and finally exit the Shiba-Kouen station. It had been two years since Usagi had last walked down the way towards Minako's house, but it wasn't something she could easily forget. Maybe the youma had known the girl's true identity, because the senshi had found themselves in that neighborhood time after time. However, Shiba-Kouen was a nice area to visit, and very beautiful to Usagi's eyes. Luckily, Minako only lived approximately a ten-minute walk away from the station, which made it easier on her already exhausted body.
However, when they made up their plan to visit the other senshi, the two hadn't thought of what to do if Minako wasn't home by the time they arrived. Luna paced around in a circle as Usagi leaned against the outer wall running along the house. The young woman tilted her head back casually, looking up at the darkening sky.
"She might have volleyball practice, Luna."
"Shh!" Luna said, whipping around to look down the street.
Usagi turned to look in the same direction Luna was and noticed a young girl and white cat standing some distance away from them. She narrowed her eyes when she noticed the other girl already transformed into her sailor uniform, as if she were going to battle. Luna stared over at the white cat who bared his teeth at her.
Minako, no, Sailor Venus stepped forward, her sky-blue eyes blazing.
"Who are you, and why have you been trying to track us down?" she called out, clenching her fist as yellow energy slowly fluttered around it.
Luna leaned down to the ground, looking ready to fight the other cat if need be. Usagi turned towards the senshi, frowning. "My name is Tsukino Usagi. I'm come to ask you to join my cause to fight against the Dark Kingdom."
Sailor Venus frowned, twisting her shoulders slightly towards the white cat's direction. "You were right, Artemis. The Dark Kingdom did send out some people for us."
Artemis nodded slightly. "The intelligence I've gathered points towards that conclusion. Make sure to take care of them completely, Sailor Venus."
"Will do," Sailor Venus said, holding up a finger glowing with yellow energy in Usagi's direction. The latter flinched back, knowing exactly what the next attack could do. When the yellow energy intensified and began whirling around, Usagi waved her hands in front of her in protest.
"Wait, we're not your enemies! Listen to us!"
"Crescent," Sailor Venus murmured, keeping her eyes trained on the other woman. "Beam."
Usagi watched the energy grow before shooting out of Sailor Venus's finger with a burst. I can't move…I can't move!