Hey lovelies! I had an idea so I spat it out. Not sure where this will end up but this is what I have for now. It's sort of a first season-AU hybrid, so that's my excuse for inconsistencies. Hehe.


It is two forty-seven in the morning and I really hate Luna.

"Usagi!"

Yeah, yeah. I know. Just let me reconnect my brain real quick.

"Usagi-chan, youma! Wake up!"

"Mm nrfnrgz!" I say, which is as close as I can get to "I'm coming!" With gargantuan effort, I heave my legs off the bed and the rest of my body sort of crumples after, leaving me in a heap on the floor.

"Brooch," Luna snaps, shoving it into my hand with a bat of her paw. I flail a palm onto the brooch and mumble, "Moon Pris'm P'wer… make up."

A moment later I'm in my fuku. Still on the floor, of course, but in my fuku. I wish the thing came with a hip flask full of energy drink. Why didn't the sparkly moon gods of love and caffeine think that up? Or… or whatever.

"Get up! Get up!" Luna cries, scratching at my thigh. "Go! Hurry!"

"Where," I demand, clambering to my feet. I flex my toes inside the boots, shake out my shoulders and arms. I need to be alert. I need to be spry.

"Just outside Makoto's apartment," says Luna. "Go!"

Oh great. Mako-chan lives an awkward distance away from my house, too far to walk, but too short to merit taking the bus or subway (on normal occasions, that is – I can't imagine the public's reaction to Sailor Moon on the metro). Running there will be a pain in the ass. I just hope the other girls are already up and fighting, all of them – together, they can certainly keep the youma at bay until I arrive to finish it off. Too bad they need me at all; otherwise I might just go back to bed.

What a great leader I am.

"Alright, I'm going," I tell Luna, and I throw myself out my bedroom window. I land in a silent crouch on the pavement below and immediately start running.

I'm getting more used to these long distances, and I can tell my physique is shaping up a bit, but that doesn't keep me from panting after the umpteenth block. I wish I could drive. A disguised car, of course. One that transforms with me. Like the Batmobile. How nice would that be? And I could program it – well, Ami-chan could program it – to steer itself, and I could sleep on the way…

No, no sleep. Don't think about sleep. Think about killing those evil youma who keep you from sleep. Much more effective.

I approach a crosswalk which tells me to stop. I defy it. I feel defiant. Which is something I guess you feel, when you defy things. Is this what being Minako feels like? Completely braindead?

Yeesh, that's a terrible thing to say, too. Apparently I'm as dumb as Mina and as cold as Rei on these wide-eyed nights. As heartless as a youma and as tired as…

As tired as…

Is it strange, I wonder, that the first person I associate exhaustion with is… him? Only seeing him after midnight, deep blue circles beneath his eyes (or the parts that I can see around his mask), the blazing ferocity of willpower that deadens to a dull spark when he smiles. He always seems tired. Haggard, even, despite his clean-cut suit and crisp flowing cape. I am as tired as the man behind that mask, whoever he might be.

I'm nearly wheezing when I round the final corner and squint through the lamplight at the shopping center across from Makoto's apartment. I pause for a second, catching my breath, before a dark shape moves across the rooftop.

So I have to climb? Fate really hates me tonight.

I scan the building, looking for the best way up, and out of nowhere a shadow darts to my side.

"Took you long enough," says Sailor Mars as I gasp out in surprise and tell her not to give me a heart attack next time.

"I was behind you all along," Mars quips. "Be more observant." She squints with me at the roof. "We need to get it down here. We're too vulnerable at those heights."

"Who's up there?" I ask, assuming that it's –

"Jupiter. We figured if anyone could, safely…"

"How long has she been at it?"

"Five minutes, maybe longer. She's only gotten in one attack. The youma's quick."

I scowl. "Well she needs to get him down already! Where are the others?"

"Down the block." Mars nods her head forward, pointing. "In case Jupiter comes down over there. Then we can close in."

I sigh, staring at the seemingly empty roof. "I don't see her."

"Good," says Mars. "If you did, the youma would too, I'm sure. You have to watch out with this one, Moon. It's tricky."

"How so?" I ask, but just then a cry pierces the quiet and I see something falling, followed by a long, thin rope that seems to move on its own, snakelike.

"Jupiter!" Mars yells, and we both take off down the block. Shapes that look like Venus and Mercury appear from behind the end of the building. A shout of "Crescent Beam!" rings out, and a blaze of light collides with the rope, which recoils to the roof.

I run up to Mercury and Jupiter, who seems a bit dazed from the fall, but mostly unharmed. "That thing," she says, looking up at us, "is faster than a fucking bullet. Pardoning the cliché."

"I'll spare you this time," says Mars, gritting her teeth (more from the stress than the statement).

Before we can regroup another rope-like tendril wraps around Mars' ankle and grabs her up in the air. I scream and jump after her, almost catching her dangling hands, while the others shout in astonishment. "Get it!" Venus shrieks to Jupiter.

"I'll electrocute them both! You get it!"

"I got the last one!"

"Venus, now!" I command, knowing her attack will be more effective than Mercury's defensive Spray.

Swearing, Venus obeys, and a moment later I am pinned to the ground beneath an extremely white-faced Mars as the Beam flies true and frees her.

"Did you have to fall on me?" I grimace, digging myself out from under her.

"I'm fine, thanks for asking." She pulls herself to her feet and brushes out her skirt.

"We're too close to the roof, still," says Mercury. "Everyone, get out into the road, and let's see if we can lure it down."

Venus darts to the street and takes a moment to glance wickedly at Mars as the rest of us join her. "Nice thong."

Mars' cheeks blaze. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You were upside down, sweetie-pie. What did you expect?" Venus giggles. "You mooned us all. Hey, get it? Mooned?"

I stick my tongue out at her as Mars folds her arms haughtily.

"Funny," says Jupiter. "That's hilarious, Venus. You really should give up this Senshi business and go for comedy instead."

Venus scowls. "I thought it was funny…"

"It's coming!" Mercury hisses.

We shift immediately into defensive stance, arms at the ready, feet planted. "Mercury," I whisper.

"Yes?"

"What is this youma, exactly…?"

Before she has time to respond, a large dark thing peaks over the roof and hurdles to the ground, rolling toward us in a fluid spidery motion. Its ropey tentacles slither over the ground, propelling it forward.

"MOVE!" Jupiter roars, and we scatter, Mars and I to the left, the others to the right. It halts, swivels momentarily, uncertain of which group to pursue. Mars and I hover in limbo, wondering whether to run or attack, when it starts barreling our way again.

Mars swears and grabs me, pulls me away. I break into a run at her heels. "The others!" I gasp as the youma draws silently nearer.

"They'll cover us!" Mars pants. "Run!"

Behind us, Venus and Jupiter howl their attacks; I pray it buys us time. We reach the corner of the building and dash behind it. Hoping we've made it out of the youma's reach, I turn to gauge how much damage has been done – if I have time for the final blow.

My breath shoots away as I find the youma inches from my face, towering five feet above me, slimy black tentacles shuddering towards me. I barely register Mars' scream before I'm in the air, the world zooming around like an unfocused camera. Flashes of building, sky, sidewalk, road blur together and then I am flying towards the ground. I brace myself for the impact, shield my face with my arms –

I am yanked, completely disoriented, back towards the sky, a different tentacle wrapped around my waist. The girls are screaming, but I am moving too fast, I think, for Venus or Mars to aim without hitting me, and Jupiter, of course, would electrocute me.

Another tentacle wraps around me. And another. I cry out, flailing, cursing, kicking, but my arms are pinned tight by my sides and my legs are wrapped together.

The tentacles become slightly silvery, and then… The strangest feeling comes over me. In a sickening wave of impact, I become lightheaded, woozy, almost nauseous, and my muscles start relaxing against my will. My limbs grow limp like spaghetti, my vision fuzzy and gray.

"What's going on?" Venus' voice echoes in my ears. "Why is it glowing like that?"

"It's taking her energy!" Jupiter cries.

"Venus, Mars, hit it!" Mercury sounds shriller than usual.

"I'm trying!" Mars growls, and there are flashes of red and orange light, but the youma does not flinch, only tightens around me, gently, persuasively. Don't fight, I can almost hear it murmur. It's alright, you can give in. It's warm here, don't fight me. I feel like a squeezed lemon, the life-juice slowly seeping out of me. The world goes darker, narrower, and I sink into the youma's grasp, any control over my body completely gone.

Vaguely, I hear them calling my name. "Hold on, Sailor Moon!" "Moon! Don't give up!" I don't want to give up, I want to keep fighting, but… it's so… it's too…

My eyes drift closed.

The screaming is dulled now in my ears, and I can't feel the speed of the tentacles keeping me from the senshi's reach. Instead I am floating, drifting on waves of sweet, syrupy numbness, washing away…

There is a sudden whirring and then the air is cool again, and I am falling instead of floating, and pain bursts in the back of my head and my spine and my shoulder blades as I collide with cold hard ground.

"Shit!" someone hisses.

"MOON!" screams Venus' voice.

"Hey, you dumbass, watch the fuck out!" That's Jupiter, alright. Is she yelling at me for falling?

The same someone groans nearby, then swears again. "Sailor Moon," whispers a familiar voice, urgently. "Sailor Moon, wake up."

My eyes manage to open slightly. It's him alright. Crouching against the wall, a bloody scrape on his knee, looking at me with intense dark eyes.

Tuxedo Kamen, I try to say, but my mouth won't move, and the world is still so fuzzy.

"You need to defeat this youma," says Tuxedo Kamen, firmly and quietly. "I'll help you, but you have to do it. Alright?"

I want him to keep talking. His voice is so smooth, like cologne. Or maybe that's his smell.

"Sailor Moon, can you hear me?"

I realize my eyes are closed again. I open them and his face is even closer. "I'll help you," he repeats. "But we need to do it now. On the count of three. Ready?"

He takes off my tiara and wraps my fingers around it. My hand drops to my lap, but his own gloved fingers tighten firmly around mine, securing the tiara in my grasp.

"One." He raises my shoulders from the ground. I register that the youma is lost in Mercury's Spray and battling attacks from Venus, Mars, and Jupiter all at once.

"Two." His other arm curls around my waist, pulling me further upright. My head dips back, unsupported by my floppy neck; he catches it on his shoulder.

"Three."

"Moon…" I inhale heavily. "Moon Tiara Action."

It is barely audible, but it is something. With a flick of our wrists, the disc soars towards the youma and finally – finally – it shatters in a burst of light.

"Well done," says Tuxedo Kamen in my ear. "I knew you could do it."

Then there are a lot of colored shoes around us.

"You dropped her, baka!" Mars barks.

"At least he got her out," says Mercury grimly.

"I didn't drop her," Tuxedo Kamen insists. "I was knocked out of the air. We fell together."

"Ah," says Jupiter scathingly, "these are the details that matter."

"Why isn't Sailor Moon moving?" asks Venus. "She defeated the youma, right? Shouldn't her energy be restored?"

There is a tight pause.

"I think not," Tuxedo Kamen says. "Her power restores others' energies when she shatters a youma. How can power that has been drained from her restore itself?"

"What are you suggesting?" Mars snaps.

"I'm suggesting that someone else will have to restore her energy," says Tuxedo Mask calmly.

"Well…" Jupiter sounds dubious. "I mean… I've never done that before."

"I didn't mean to imply that any of you were capable." An arm slides behind my back, another under my knees, and then I am curled into a warm, sweet-scented body.

"Hey, wait a – !"

"What do you think you're doing!"

"Oh, so you can fix her, is that it?"

"I have every reason to believe so," says Tuxedo Kamen. "If you'll excuse us, ladies."

"Hold on." Jupiter has her stern voice on. "Where do you think you're taking her?"

"If I told you, that would rather defeat the purpose of my taking her there at all," Tuxedo Kamen explains patiently.

"So you can go off and have your way with her?" Jupiter's yelling now. "I don't think so!"

"You think we haven't seen the way you look at her?" Mars jumps in. "We don't know you, and you've made it very clear you don't want to know us, so hand her over, Cape Boy!"

Tuxedo Kamen gives a small sigh. "Don't think for a second that any conventional treatment will counteract a youma's effects. She needs power that can counteract the Dark Kingdom's."

"And you have that power?" says Mercury skeptically.

Tuxedo Kamen is silent.

"I don't trust him," says Mars.

"You don't have to," says Tuxedo Kamen. "She's safe with me. Know that, even if you can't believe it." Then there is wind, a lot of it, and my stomach swoops. I see the moon. I don't see much else, after that. I only feel the rushing, the dropping, the swift impact, my head cushioned in the crook of his shoulder. He smells like a fresh shower.

I don't know where he's taking me. I don't understand why he couldn't tell the others. "The park," he could say. "The rooftop." "The gym." "The high school." Anywhere. Anywhere people wouldn't see. As if there were people around to see, so late at night. And the girls could come, too, to make sure he didn't… not that he would. I don't believe for a second that he would. I just feel a little… vulnerable, like this, not because I can't move my toes, but because of that thrill of fear his scent sends through me – that vein of uncertainty billowing around me like his thick black cape. I don't know him, but I feel like I should – like I could – like I would, if only something… shifted…

A wave of calm spreads through me and I open my eyes to a rush of intuition, of clarity so complete and still so entirely obscured. The shadow of his profile… I know that face…

I know that… face…


So... thoughts? Ideas? Where should this go? I want to hear from you! :)