Earth looked just the way it had when we left it. The only difference was the lack of spaceship in the sky. I would have thought that the fact it was gone would have made people feel better, but instead it only seemed to make them everyone even more apprehensive. We were back for a good day or so before the general atmosphere started to lighten up, like no one could really believe that Rubeus was gone until the deadline passed and he didn't show up. That was when Seiya and I ventured out for the first time. Up until that point, Taiki had told me that they didn't really feel comfortable with me going out. There was still a risk someone might associate me with Sailor Moon. Without Rubeus, we were all hoping the manhunt would stop. Just in case it didn't, Seiya insisted on coming with me.
Not that I really minded, considering where I was going. I'd put off going to see Mom and Dad with the excuse that I didn't want to freak them out by showing up with bandages all over my face and body. Rest and relaxation and food, though, had gone a long way towards healing most of our wounds. I still had some residual aches and pains left, particularly around my neck, but overall I was feeling a lot better. And that meant I had no more excuses. I knew - hoped - they had been worrying about me, and it didn't seem fair to leave them in suspense about whether or not I was okay.
"You seem nervous," Seiya observed as we walked. She reached over and took my hand, and it was such a casual move that I felt a little thrill. It helped to chase away some of the anxiety I was feeling. I couldn't help smiling back at her.
"I am nervous. I'm trying not to think that this might go badly, but it's hard. I mean, the last time I saw my parents my mom basically walked out on me. I don't know what she's going to say or do. For all I know, she hasn't come to terms with the fact that I'm Sailor Moon and I shouldn't be going to see them at all." I paused, chewing on my lower lip as I wondered all over again whether this was the right decision. Maybe I should pick up the phone and call first? Shingo would be able to tell me -
"Hey, stop that. Odango, as much as you don't want to you have to go. I know you. This has been driving you crazy for the past week," Seiya said. "You haven't been able to relax at all. Besides, your parents have the right to make an informed decision. You should tell them everything and then let them decide what kind of reaction they're going to have. There's no sense in holding anything back now."
I stared at her. In a weird way, what she was saying made a lot of sense. I still thought that dumping the pregnancy on my parents at the same time as the fact that I'm a senshi would've been too much, but she was right. I had no excuse now. "You're right," I admitted. "But that doesn't stop me from being scared out of my wits."
Seiya stopped walking and pulled me in close. She leaned over and kissed me. "I won't tell you not to be nervous, because honestly I never have been or will be in your shoes," she murmured. "But I'll be here with you every step of the way. No matter what, you won't be alone."
At the sound of those words, I melted against her completely. I hadn't realized how badly I needed to hear that. "Thank you," I said into her shoulder, and what I really meant was a thank you to the gods for giving me her and Taiki and Yaten. I put my arms around her back and held onto her tightly, but it wasn't as easy as it used to be.
She noticed it too. "You've got a bump," she said, sounding stunned.
I chuckled and glanced down. Sure enough, my tummy was just a tiny bit rounded. It was really only noticeable because I was standing right in front of her and she was so slender. "I guess I do."
"Weird," she muttered, shaking her head. "We're going to be really busy during the next few months, aren't we?"
I hadn't given it much thought, but I realized then that she was right. I didn't have any of the things that I would need for a baby: no crib, no changing table, no diapers or formula or food. I didn't even know how I was going to pay for it all. I took a deep breath, refusing to let myself get overwhelmed. "Let's just deal with one thing at a time, okay? Come on."
We walked the rest of the way to my parent's house in silence, though Seiya never let go of my hand. My palms were sweaty as I reached out and opened the door. The house was pretty quiet, and at first I wondered if we'd come at a bad time and maybe no one was home. But then I heard the sound of the television and I knew someone had to be there. Mom had a strict rule about not leaving anything on when we weren't there. I walked down the hall to the living room and found Mom sitting on the couch, watching the news. Of course, they were deeply involved in talking about everyone's favorite topic at the moment: the disappearance of the spaceship, the fact that the world hadn't ended, and the identity of Sailor Moon.
"It's awful," Mom said, and I jumped. "All of those people, some of them are obsessed with trying to find out who Sailor Moon is. They don't even realize that they should just be grateful for all of the things she's done in the past. We'd be dead now if it wasn't for her."
I glanced over my shoulder at Seiya before I spoke. "So do you... are you grateful, then?"
Mom muted the television and got up. I'd never seen that look on her face before. It was so serious. "Yes," she said. "Yes, I am grateful. More than you can imagine. And I'm also really scared. I've spent the last week trying to come to terms with the fact that my daughter is running around the city fighting monsters in a short skirt. Sometimes I still can't do it no matter how hard I try. I wake up in the morning, and it just hits me, and I... I can't."
"But I'm trying," she added, deliberately talking over me. "I'm trying, but I never want to know the exact details about the things you've had to do. Because if I know, I'm never going to be able to let you walk out that door again. I know that I should know, I should want to know, but I don't. And I realize that makes me a bad mother, but -"
"You're not a bad mother!" I said immediately, rushing over to her. "Mom, that's not why I told you. I just... if something happened to me, I didn't want Shingo to have to be the one who explained this or for you guys to be left in the dark for the rest of your life. You deserved to know the truth."
She looked at me for almost a minute, searching my face. I wasn't sure what she was looking for. Proof, maybe, that I was still the child she remembered. I wanted to reach out and hug her, but I wasn't sure whether or not she'd be receptive to that. And there was still something major I needed to tell her. So I said, "There's something else that I need to tell you."
"I'm not sure that anything could be more of a shock than what you already did," she said wryly. "It's not - I know you were the one responsible for getting rid of that man. Shingo made that perfectly clear."
"What did he say?" I asked, temporarily derailed by curiosity.
"Among other things, he told me that if you never came back it meant that you were dead." She held up a hand when I started to speak. "It sounds horrible, but it was exactly what I needed to hear to make me realize how stupid I was being. Usagi, you're my daughter. I hate the fact that I can't protect you from this, and that you've been doing it right under my nose for the past two years. And I let you go without knowing that I still love you, that I will always love you, no matter what else happens. That was wrong of me."
"Mom." My throat was so tight I couldn't swallow. I hated to say it. "I'm pregnant."
"Pregnant?" Mom repeated, like she couldn't process what the word meant. I watched realization flash across her face as she looked down at my stomach, and then her head came back up and she glanced over my shoulder at Seiya.
"The father is - was Mamo-chan," I told her before she could jump to any conclusions.
"You slept with him? Oh, Usagi..."
A familiar burning began right behind my eyes when I heard how disappointed she sounded. "I know, it was a stupid decision on my part. He came back from America for just one night when... when everything started going wrong. He didn't want me to tell anyone else that he was here because I convinced him to go back. One thing led to another and we..." I made a lame gesture with my hand, wondering if she would buy my story. Motoki had, but this was Mom. She knew me pretty well.
"And you didn't use any protection?"
I felt my face flush. "Well... neither of us was expecting that to happen."
Mom put a hand over her face and sighed. "Somehow I feel like the fact that I'm relieved this is all you had to tell me is not a good thing," she muttered before looking back up at me. "Don't get me wrong, I'm really upset with you for doing something so foolish and irresponsible. If you had told me that you were thinking about having sex with Mamoru, I would've made sure that you had the necessary tools to keep this from happening. Honestly, Usagi, didn't you stop to think that this would be the last thing you'd have time to deal with?"
"Not really," I admitted. Even though I'd had sex with him during my dream and I hadn't known that pregnancy might even be an option, she was right. I should've been more careful. Should've realized that the ginzuishou might take my desires into question. But I hadn't, and I couldn't say that I was all that upset by what I had ended up with. I had a piece of Mamo-chan and my daughter back. I would never regret that.
"I just..." Mom shook her head and blew out a breath, giving me a disappointed look. "How long have you known for?"
"About a month or so."
She looked surprised, and maybe a little bit hurt. "Why didn't you tell me before?"
I licked my lips. This was the crux of the matter. "I was afraid you would make me get rid of her. It."
Mom went still. "I assume that means you want to keep it."
"Yes," I said instantly. I was prepared to fight my parents on this no matter what they said. If I had been a different person, I might've actually considered an abortion. Or even adoption. But knowing that this baby was Chibi-Usa, there was just no way. I would run away before I let anything happen to her. I looked her square in the eyes. "Mom, I told you this because I wanted you to know. But I'm having this child, and I'm going to raise her by myself regardless of whether or not you agree with my decision."
"Actually, she won't be alone," Seiya said before Mom could respond. She had been standing in the doorway, but now she walked over to me and put her hand on my shoulder. "I'll be right there with her."