V. Patient Heart

Usagi moved around her small kitchen cooking. She had learned to cook from Makoto and was thankful to Makoto for teaching her. It made her happy when she first cooked for Mamoru and he loved it. Now she had to cook for herself. It didn't bother her much because it was the first time she felt normal in the last couple of days. A week ago she had cried out her eyes, got a divorce, learned that her future was shattered and that Mamoru didn't truly love her but was under the influence of Prince Endymion's feelings for Princess Serenity. It was all quite heartbreaking and Usagi thought she would never be herself again.

She was right, she wasn't quite herself but she wasn't broken. Usagi had gotten better just a little over the last couple of days. She didn't cry as much anymore and she was productive. Her apartment was still without furniture but she was working on that. She didn't let herself sit and dwell on things that were out of her control. Instead she found work for herself around her home. She was almost done with her kitchen.

She had received many worried phone call from Makoto, Ami and Minako. She explained what happen objectively because she didn't want them to think badly of Mamoru or Rei. After that they all said they were coming over to see her, so she was coming for them. She wanted it to be a fun day between the four of them. Usagi didn't want to dwell on sad things. In fact she had planned plenty of things for them to do.

The day each one of them called her, she wasn't surprised. It was only a matter of time before they found out everything. They knew about the trouble and the impending divorce, but not all the details. They also knew about Rei and Mamoru but not everything. When they each called she finally explained everything.

She could remember Makoto's outrage, Ami's worries, and Minako's encouragement. Makoto was angry at Mamoru and the whole situation in general, but mostly angry in Usagi behalf. Ami was worried about Usagi's emotional health, and Minako encouraged her to talk to her. She felt so much better speaking to them that she cried afterward from joy.

Now she stood laying out teacups on her kotatsu. Her mother had brought the teacups as a housewarming gift. Her father had brought her dishes and towels. Her brother also brought her a gift. It was a weird looking stuffed animal cat. She looked over at the said item and shook her head.

She sighed inwardly as she thought about the information she left out. She hadn't told her friends about the night she met Seiya or how he helped her. It wasn't something she was ashamed of, but she wasn't sure how they would take it. She didn't want them to think he was trying to take advantage of her. In the past they had to remind her of her place. How she was supposed to be with Mamoru. It was one of the reasons she had to make sure that Mamoru was sure. She had to remind him just like her friends had to remind her. His answer was more than enough for Usagi.

Seiya had helped her a lot and she didn't want them to think poorly of him or those were the reason she told herself that was behind her secrecy. Deep down she wasn't ready for them to question her about him. She wasn't ready to talk about her feelings. Everything had just ended with Mamoru. She didn't want them to think she was rebounding. Seiya was only being a good friend to her, when she couldn't turn to her other friends. She did intend to tell them that she met all three of them, but not how much time she spent with Seiya alone. He slept over the night before and they talked a lot.

After running around in circles with her thoughts she decided not to bring up anything that happened last night. It was for the best at the moment.

Before she even realized it there was a knock at her door. She got to her feet and hurried over to the door. When she opened the door three of her friends stood there. She was ecstatic to see them. She threw herself at them and they caught her. Makoto was taking the most of the weight. The three girls huddle around Usagi.

"Are you okay?" Minako asked gently holding Usagi's hand. Usagi nodded and invited them inside. Oohs and ahs greeted the apartment as they entered.

"You live here?" Makoto asked surprised that Usagi had decorated the apartment, even though she lacked furniture. She continued impressed with the small home, "It looks great."

"Usagi, I can't believe you did all this by yourself." Minako sat down at the kotatsu and became to look at the teacups. Ami followed and sat as well but she had yet to say anything. Once everyone was sitting, Usagi brought out the tea and rice balls she made.

"Onigiri too?" Minako picked one up and thanked Usagi before taking a bite. They sat eating in an awkward silence and Ami finally spoke.

"You're not okay are you?" her words wiped away Usagi's smile.

"It's getting better." Usagi looked down at the rice ball on her plate. She didn't want to talk about it. She wanted to avoid the subject of her and Mamoru as long as she could. It was inevitable though. Her friends were kept in the dark and it was time she explained to them why. She pushed the plate away from her and then looked up at them.

"Mamoru and Rei love each other. They really belong with each other and I won't stay in the way. He never really loved me anyhow so..." she didn't finish her thought.

"What do you mean he doesn't love you? You two belong together; we even saw it in the future." Minako was confused by Usagi's words. She couldn't picture a relationship between Mamoru and Rei, but then she remembered how closed they had grown in the last couple of years.

"Could this be some kind of test? You've both have been tested repeatedly over your love for one another. It's hard to believe that Mamoru would give up on everything." Ami said but Usagi shook her head.

"I really don't think so. When we spoke it seemed like he had been hold back the truth for a long time. He was living a lie for everyone's benefits." Usagi gave everyone a sad smile. "I always knew deep down in my heart that he didn't really love me, but I was so set on the future we saw, I never considered his feelings. I just assumed we'd be together forever. I assumed he had to love me. I was so foolish."

"Usagi..." Makoto gently patted her shoulder in an effort to comfort her.

"What about Chibiusa? If you two aren't together..." Minako didn't finish. She let the words hang in the air and no one spoke because Usagi had already shaken her head.

"He doesn't want her. No, that's not right. He loves Chibiusa but he can't pretend anymore. He doesn't want to hurt me by lying to me any longer. He wants to be free of our destined future. I'm happy that he patronized me for as long as he did. I really am." her voice cracked under the pressure.

"This isn't right! We have to do something or Chibiusa won't exist. Usagi you can't just give up." Minako made Usagi look at her before continuing. "We all love Chibiusa; we can't just let things end like this. Maybe Mamoru is under someone's spell..."

She didn't continue because she knew that she would be accusing Rei. Silence consumed the room and no one attempted to speak. Several minutes passed and Usagi finally gathered up her thoughts and spoke.

"Mamoru's not under anyone's control. I know it's hard to except but we've both given up. He does want our future and truthfully... neither do I."

"What are you talking about!? You just want to let everything end like this. What about Crystal Tokyo? What about all the people's whose happiness is dependent on the creation of that place? How can you give up so easily? What about us?" Makoto words weren't harsh but the truth. Usagi turned away from her friends.

"I know...I know what this means. You think I don't, but what am I supposed to do. Should I force him to love me? Should I guilt him into a relationship he doesn't want? I want to give up. I want to stop loving him. I have my closure. I know the truth and admitted to myself what I knew for a long time." her voice was loud at first but soon became a whisper, "I know it's unfair to you all, to everyone who would benefit from Crystal Tokyo. I know how wrong this is but what can I do? What do you want me to do? I'm willing to sacrifice my happiness for Crystal Tokyo. I truly would do that, but how can I force someone else? How could I hurt Mamoru that way? How?!"

"Usagi..." Makoto felt the weight of her words. "I'm sorry...I wasn't thinking. I'm so sorry."

Usagi shoulders sagged as she silently sobbed. Minako hugged the crying girl first, then Ami and lastly Makoto who also had tears in her eyes. The four of them sat together in a group hug as tears were shed.

After a couple hours later Usagi was alone in her apartment. Her friends all worked and had things they had to do, so she wasn't disappointed that they were gone. She was actually a little relieved. They all needed a little space. She needed some herself. She finished washing the dishes they used and went into her living room. The room was warm because she had the heat on but she felt cold and lonely. She thought she needed space but really she needed companionship. She needed someone who wouldn't judge her poorly for her choice. Her friends didn't seem to, but deep down she knew they did.

They deserved a happy future but she wasn't willing to force Mamoru to give it to them. She couldn't and she didn't know if they understood that. All of them were good people that she loved very much, yet she wondered if they would blame her for not making Mamoru stay. She didn't know and she was only confusing herself, so she sat down and turned on the television.

She thoughtlessly flipped through the channel until she stopped on one of Minako's past concerts. Smiling to herself she laid her head on her forearm and watched. Everyone had really grown up since they were teenagers. Ami had become a well-known doctor. She had yet to find anyone special but she was always striving to do her best. It made Usagi so happy to see Ami's dreams come true. Minako had become a world-renown idol under the name Ai. She kept her identity hidden so she could have a normal life and it allowed her privacy so she could be Sailor Venus when there was danger. Makoto had also achieved her dream. She had opened a bakery and flower shop combined known as Camellia.

Usagi sat and watched the show. Everyone around her had begun to live their dreams, even Rei who had become a prominent businesswoman on her own. Mamoru was also a well-known doctor. Her smile faded when she thought of herself. What had she accomplished? She wondered as she watched Minako dance across the stage singing with a pop beat. She had always thought she'd be a queen with queen-like duties. She had never bothered to get a real job. The money she had saved was from her working as a part-time mangaka. She only did short stories and she had long since stopped working. It was really all she had accomplished in her life. It made her sad to know she was so reliant on the future she never thought about the present.

Pressing her face into her sleeve she laughed bitterly. She had been so stupid and foolish to let her life sit idly waiting for a future that would never come to pass. Turning off the television she decided to make herself something to eat. She knew she needed a job to support herself but she wasn't sure what she wanted to do. She had made it through school with average grades so college was out of the question. She sighed to herself as she walked to the kitchen. As she opened the door to her refrigerator she thought about drawing once more.

In truth, she really did love it. Creating stories were fun and she was always welcome to come back or so her editor told her. Closing the door she placed the fish in the sink and turned on the water. She began to wash the fish as she thought about when she should call her former editor and publisher. She decided she needed to have a short story rough draft first, so she would wait until she had finished that.

Before she could finish cleaning her fish her doorbell rang. She looked up and cleaned her hands quickly. She head to the door and opened it to find Rei in front of her. She was unsure how she should react. The first thing she wanted to do was close the door and pretend she had never answered it, but she couldn't.

"Rei..." Usagi said looking at the woman who stood in front of her. She still wore her work clothes. It was a business suit. The suit was black and cut to emphasize curves. The skirt came to her knees but with a high split in the back.

"I'm sorry!" she said abruptly. Her hand was on the doorknob and her briefcase in the other hand. "I wanted to talk to you and I should have called but I couldn't wait. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."

Usagi didn't respond because she didn't know what to say. She didn't know how to respond to her friend's words. It was as if her whole mind had shut down and all she could do was stare.

"Usagi..." she continued talking when Usagi said nothing, "I never meant for this to happen. I never meant for it to go as far as it did. I never wanted this. I didn't want to hurt you, I just couldn't stop. I couldn't stop myself for falling in love with him again."

Her words hurt and soothed all at once and still Usagi said nothing. She didn't know what to say, but as she watched Rei she could see the panic growing and she did the first thing that came to her. She reached out and pulled Rei into a hug. It was a loose hug that gradually grew tighter as Rei tried to hold back her sobs.

"It's okay now. I'm doing better. Everything is better now." her words only served to make the dark haired woman cry more.

"You're lying." Rei pulled away from Usagi. "He broke your heart and I betrayed you. Why aren't you furious with me?"

"You're my friend and I-" Usagi stopped. She couldn't finish because in front of her was the person who took Mamoru and Chibiusa away from her. If Rei hadn't fallen in love with Mamoru again she might have had a chance to reconcile with him but it was impossible since she was in his heart now. She wanted to hate her. Deep down under the facade she wanted to truly hate Rei but she couldn't.

What was the point? In the long run Mamoru would have left her anyway. If it wasn't Rei it would be someone else or no one at all. He would have just simply left her alone.

"I forgive you...I forgive you Rei, but please leave now. I can't bear to look at you right now." Usagi turned her back to the woman. She could still remember what she walked in on. Mamoru had never sounded that passionate before and she was left with images and sounds that would never leave her mind. "I'm sorry."

Rei could say no more because she knew what Usagi was thinking of. There wasn't anything she could say to make the situation between them better. The only thing she could rely on now was time. She was helpless and she hated it. Her mistake was causing her a friendship but she was also with the person she loved. She was torn. Since there was nothing left to say she quietly left Usagi alone.

Seiya strolled down the crowd streets of Tokyo heading to Usagi's apartment. He decided to walk because he was tired of driving. He had Yaten drop him off close to her house but far enough that he had a chance to stretch his legs. As he continued down the street, the wind began to blow. It was freezing winds that were normal for the winter, but it was usually further into the winter season. It was still early winter and the weather had become strange during the last couple of weeks. At first he thought nothing about the events but as they continued he began to ponder over them. The star shower he and his friends witnessed earlier that month was proof.

Unconsciously he looked up to the sky. It was overcast with darkened clouds. He sighed lightly to himself wondering if any of the natives noticed the odd weather. It was more than likely that they hadn't. He wanted to speak with Usagi about the occurrence but he didn't want her to worry. He would wait a while before he asked.

It was the same for their return. He wasn't ready to divulge that information. He wanted to ignore his reasons for returning to earth for a while longer. He wanted to dwell on the things that he could control and the people he could save. It would allow him to take his mind off all the lives that were lost. He bit his lip and forced his thoughts to Usagi and her situation. She had let him know that her friends were going to visit her, which didn't surprise him. Usagi had kept them in the dark for too long. It was only a matter of time before they came to see the situation for themselves.

He only hoped that they could take the situation as it was. It was something that they could not change no matter what. Her friends were very understanding and had a strong sense of justice and fairness. He knew that they would comfort Usagi but they would also try to resolve the situation which was not possible since both party members had given up. He sped up his pace a little eager to see the blonde. He worried over her more lately. In the past he was always sure that her boyfriend would take care of her, but now all she had was her friends who had lives of their own to live. He wasn't sure what each one of them did, but he was positive that they were all employed.

He reached the apartment and before he could get to the door a dark-haired woman was coming out. There were tears on her cheek but she also seemed angry. She passed him almost running into him but didn't stop to say anything. She didn't even look at him. He could tell she was lost in her own thoughts because if she wasn't surely she would have notice that she had just passed him.

Seiya continued up the stairs to Usagi's apartment wondering if she was crying. He thought she might be. She still cried a lot even though she didn't think so. She didn't know he watched her. When she thought she was alone, or thought he was doing something she would silently cry sometimes. It made his heart ache but he couldn't smother her. She needed time and friendship; soon she would become herself again.

He knocked softly on her door and heard the shuffle of feet coming closer to the door. She looked through the peep hole first and then opened the door. Her hand was to her face wiping away tears that had formed from her meeting with Rei.

Seiya gently cupped her face and wiped away the tears before she could finish. Usagi could do nothing but stare, which only served to make Seiya smirk. He couldn't help it, she look like a deer caught in headlights. Her cheeks reddened and she pulled away only to reveal a timid smile.

"Sorry." Seiya voice seemed sincere but inside he wasn't sorry at all. He knew he should be but nonetheless he found himself flirting with Usagi a little more than he should.

She let him inside and he could smell her cooking. He was surprised when she had first left him breakfast. He had no idea she could cook and he was a little wary, but she proved that her cooking skills were wonderful. He visited her almost every day and got to taste something new each time. After taking off his shoes he head to her kotatsu and sat down. She was watching an encore show of Ai's last concert.

He heard a lot about the pop idol but she still was mostly a mystery. She stayed out of the spotlight unless she was doing a show. She seemed familiar to him but he didn't have time to think about it as Usagi started to speak to him. He turned his full attention to her. She placed a plate in front of him and he couldn't help but smile. She had made okonomiyaki. He thanked her and began to eat while listening to her.

"I was a little worried at first but they understood. I just wonder if they will be able to forgive me." she said looking at the kotatsu. She wasn't use to feeling so helpless. She knew none of the situation was her fault but she wanted to blame herself anyway. She felt like she should have done more to salvage her relationship with Mamoru or noticed what was happening before it ended. It was completely out of nowhere for her. She shook away her thoughts because she had a guest who always came to see her and cheer her up. Seiya was so kind to her even though he teased her relentlessly. He seemed to always know how she was feeling and find some way to take her mind off the things that happened. He told her how his life was and she thought it was exciting. Yaten, Taiki and Seiya were about to have a comeback tour around Japan. She was happy for them but also worried that she wouldn't see Seiya as much. She had grown dependent on him and his visits. It was what kept her going during the day and what she thought about at night.

He was always on her mind lately and she was thankful it was him and not Mamoru. She would only end up crying if she thought about that failed relationship, yet she always found time to dwell on it anyway. It annoyed her how little control she had over her mind.

Seiya watched as Usagi continued to be lost in her thoughts. He didn't even wonder what she thought about because he already knew. He leaned forward across the table and pinched her nose. She jumped and a blushed covering her cheeks.

"You do remember that I'm still here right?" he asked her and he could tell she was embarrassed. She apologized and he shook his head and tried to stop himself from laughing. She was too cute. "Odango, I'm not angry. I just want some attention."

Usagi face only burned more after he spoke and it made him want to kiss her cheeks just to see how red she would get. He didn't, though he really wanted to. Finishing off the food she made he got to his feet and pulled her onto hers. She was confused but he didn't explain instead and went and put his shoes on and motioned her to follow.

She went over to where he stood and put on her shoes. She was asking questions but he wasn't answering any of them. "Seiya?"

"Come on. Let's go out for a while. You haven't left your house all day and I want some ice cream." he saw her eyes light up at the prospect of ice cream. "I thought you'd like that."

Usagi took his outstretched hand and he smiled. At that moment she knew that Seiya was truly someone special to her. She just wasn't sure if she was ready to move on just yet. One day she would be and she would wait that day with patience.

AN: Don't worry Usagi won't take that long to move on. I hope I picked appropriate jobs for everyone. I did some research and those are the jobs I got. Sorry if anyone is out of character. I had a hard time with the senshi. Rei and Usagi's friendship is still on the rocks but will get better at some point. The senshi's will show up again later on, probably one at a time next time.