Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon, but I'm waiting for the day a black cat will come tell me I have magical powers.

Author's Note: Here's my very first attempt at Sailor Moon fanfiction. Although I grew up with the English dubbed version of the show, I've been reading a lot of Sailor Moon fanfiction these days, which typically uses the Japanese terms for things...so bare with me.

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Sticks and Stones
Chapter I
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Sailor Mars quickly dodged the youma, just barely escaping the energy the creature had shot at her. Channeling her power, she sent an attack in its direction.

"MARS FIRE IGNITE!"

She groaned at the decidedly lack of damage she had made to the creature, even with her perfect aim. Turning her glare onto Sailor Moon, she began to tear into their supposed leader who was too busy wailing to be of any help.

"Stop whining and do something!" she hollered.

"Mars!"

Her gaze slid to Jupiter, happy to see that someone useful had finally showed up. If she had been left with only Serena, she knew the Negaverse would have probably taken over ages ago. She was a good fighter, but even she needed some assistance once in a while.

Upon seeing Jupiter's wide-eyed expression, likely from hearing her comment to Serena—the other Sailor Scouts were really too easy on her—she groaned.

"Oh come on. We all know she needs to grow up. She's supposed to be the defender of love and justice, not some cry baby," she rolled her eyes. The others might have been too nice to say anything about their leader's behavior, but she wasn't.

The breath whooshed out of her lungs as she suddenly felt another body barreling into her. After skidding painfully on the concrete a few feet, she leaned back on her elbows to glare at who had pushed her—Serena.

"What's the matter with you? Did you forget how to walk again?" she spat in agitation.

She frowned in confusion at seeing Sailor Moon lying where she was previously standing, staring at her in fear. It was only as a bright light began to illuminate Sailor Moon's features that she realized what was happening.

Sailor Mars stared in shock as the youma's attack struck Sailor Moon, sending a dark energy pulsing through her body. She watched her leader's eyes grow wide and her body bend back at an unnatural angle, before falling limply to the ground, face down.

"Sailor Moon!" several voices chorused.

"Oh, you're gonna pay for that!" Sailor Jupiter growled.

"JUPITER THUNDER CRASH!"

To their astonishment, the youma simply smiled at them, unaffected, before fading away.

"That was strange. They never give up that easily," Jupiter remarked.

The Sailor Scouts ran over to their fallen leader, who was now being held in the embrace of Tuxedo Mask.

"Is she okay?" Sailor Mars asked, momentarily forgetting her mistrust of the masked hero.

"I'm not sure. She appears to just be unconscious, but…"Tuxedo Mask trailed off with concern. Something just wasn't right about all this.

The two scouts glanced behind them as they heard the sound of Sailor Mercury's hurried steps.

"Sorry I'm late, but I—" she cut herself off as she noticed Serena lying unconscious in Tuxedo Mask's arms. "What happened?"

"She got zapped by the youma," Sailor Mars explained.

"Only because she pushed you out of the way," Jupiter added absently.

Before Sailor Mars could speak more on the subject, they noticed their leader slowly gaining consciousness. Sailor Moon groaned.

"That's what you get for pulling a stunt like that."

"Mars! How can you say that?" Jupiter asked incredulously.

"What?" she asked defensively. "It was a stupid thing to do."

"Oh thanks. Don't try to sound too grateful," Sailor Moon mumbled.

"Why should I be grateful? If you had just done your job and dusted the thing, no one would've gotten hurt."

"She's kind of got a point there…" Jupiter admitted sheepishly.

Tuxedo Mask sighed at the Sailor Scouts' berating of their leader. Although placing herself in harm's way had been a terribly foolish thing to do, he couldn't fault Sailor Moon for her selfless actions.

"Are you alright?" he asked softly as he helped Sailor Moon sit up.

"Yeah, I think so," she murmured back.

His gaze slid over her form, searching for wounds. Apart from her fuku being a bit tattered from the blast, she appeared to be otherwise fine.

"How do you feel?"

"Just a bit tired," she replied with a small smile, touched by the concern clear in his voice and eyes.

"Well that's nothing new!" Jupiter laughed.

While the other scouts nodded their agreement, Sailor Moon reluctantly moved out of Tuxedo Mask's arms to stand up. Although her legs felt a bit numb, she managed to stay upright.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Sailor Mercury asked, wondering if she should scan her with her computer.

"Mhm," she replied, offering a small smile.

Serena staggered into her room, momentarily clutching the wall for support. Luna wasn't there to watch her struggle and for that, she was grateful. Although she was known for whining over the littlest things, when something was truly wrong, she kept it to herself.

Luna and the other sailor scouts already thought of her as a weak crybaby and she didn't want to give more merit to their judgments.

Serena didn't understand why they had to be so hard on her all the time. She knew she was annoying sometimes and didn't do very well in school, but everyone has their faults. Why couldn't they accept her for who she is, like she has always done with them?

She never criticized Amy for being a bookworm or caring so much about her grades. She doesn't hold Raye's persistent tongue lashings or typically cold attitude against her. She also doesn't mention Lita's boy-crazy attitude—mostly because they're all a bit boy crazy—or how she's always comparing everyone to her ex-boyfriend.

Even now, she felt guilty for thinking these things. How can they be so openly mean to her? Don't they realize she has been trying to be a better leader? Were they that busy pointing out her faults to notice?

Serena sighed, cocooning herself within her blankets and falling into a restless sleep.

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So there's the first chapter. I'd love to get some feedback. =)