Episode Eighteen


She didn't sleep well that night—or what was left of the night anyway. By midmorning, she could sleep no longer. Even though, her body was sore and tired, Ami got up off the couch in her living room and began her day. The first thing she did was head to the kitchen for a glass of water. It felt so good just to drink a glass of pure cold water after an experience like hers. She looked down at the calendar sitting on the counter. She had been gone for sixteen days, but it felt like a lifetime. Everything here felt so warm, safe, and colorful—as if she was experiencing for the first time all over again.

The apartment was quiet. She wandered around aimlessly with nothing do to for quite a while—just reexamining everything inside the apartment with fresh eyes. It was almost as if it was someone else's house and she was just visiting. She pondered on that thought for a moment. She wasn't the same person that she was two weeks ago.

Her exploration carried her to the hallway. The first bedroom on the right was her mother's. The door was still open. Again, she found herself standing in the doorway looking on in at the sight before her. Orion was still there, sleeping. Not that she knew it, but this was something new for him—sleeping. Nobody had watched in sleep for hundreds of years. Ever since the Negaverse granted its powers to him, the need to sleep was non-existent for him. But now, things were different. After painfully being stripped of his connection to the Negaverse, Orion's body felt fatigue for the first time in many years.

Ami leaned her head against the frame of the doorway and watched him sleep. The conversation from last night replayed in her mind. He wasn't human. He was something else—although, she didn't know what. Somehow, someway, he came in service to the Negaverse and they enhanced his natural abilities. The Negaverse made him a formidable General with whom the Sailor Scouts had many encounters. But now, he lay in her mother's bed, weak and helpless.

She remembered something else he had said. An enemy would have taken his life if he was in a position like this. He was there, asleep and vulnerable. She sighed, frustrated. If he was really her enemy, why would he help her escape? She remembered when he shouted at her in that prison cell—"They're going to torture you!" Sure, if he was her enemy, he wouldn't have bothered.

But why did he bother? Well, she supposed that she did save his life once. Oddly enough, she saved him from drowning in a lake once. It seemed highly unusual-a guy like him drowning, but he was. She remembered the look on his face when she pulled him out of the water-he was terrified. Maybe, she thought, he saved her life to pay her back.

He sighed deeply in his sleep. She quickly turned, fearing he would wake up, but he did not. After it was safe, she turned her gaze back towards him. She watched as shaggy purple hair rusted against the white pillow sheets. Why did he bother? Maybe the answer would come someday, but for now, she had things to do. She left the doorway and headed into her room. The first thing she did was check on Trista's condition. Trista, too, was sleeping peacefully. That was a good sigh. Ami put her hand on Trista's forehead. Her temperature seemed normal too—an excellent sign. If Trista continued to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and could get down the protein shakes, then a full recovery could happen within a short amount of time. Trista, like herself, was a Sailor Scout. The magic granted to them strong and healed their bodies quickly. Ami was sure that it was the magic of being a Sailor that kept Trista alive for so long despite horrific conditions and treatment in the Negaverse.

After checking on Trista, Ami walked over to her desk. She had left her sailor pen there last night after all the excitement. She was used to carrying it on her at all times, but so many things had happened in the past few weeks. She picked it up and savored the icy cold feeling it brought to her skin for a few moments. It felt like she was greeting an old friend she hadn't seen in a long time. She then gave it a small wave. A slight wave of golden magic dust emerged from the pen. Soon, her small communicator materialized before her.

Ami took the small communicator into her hands. It felt so foreign to touch. What she wouldn't have given to have this in her hands while in the Negaverse. But that was all over now. She closed her eyes, relishing the fact that she was standing in her very own bedroom. She was home.

Now, it was time to move onto business. It was time to call the other Sailor Scouts. Ami looked over at the clock. It was Saturday. Serena would probably be still asleep. As silly as it was, it was hard to push the button. Ami didn't like to be a bother to anyone. But she knew this was important so she pushed the button to page Serena.

The bunny snuggled into her blankets as the cold morning air nipped at her toes. It felt so good to sleep in and not have to go to school that morning. Luna seemed to be enjoying the morning too. She was curled up at the end of the bed, sleeping as well.

Suddenly, Serena's communicator beeped. Luna's ears perked right up at the sound of the small beeping that sounded like nothing more than a small wristwatch. Luna ran across the bed, over Serena's body, and leapt towards the night stand where the communicator was.

"Serena! Wake up! We have an emergency!"

The bunny however only burrowed into her blankets and mumbled something incoherently.

"Serena, get up and answer this message!"

"…why don't you do it!" was all that was Luna could understand.

"You know very well that I don't have any thumbs!" Luna's feline hiss finally prodded Serena to get moving. It wasn't fast enough though. Carefully, Luna tried to form her paw into a shape where she could press the button needed to receive the communicator. With all her strength and will, she managed to force one of her digital pads to stick out more than the others. She pressed the small button on the communicator.

Ami's picture appeared on the screen.

"Ami!" Luna gasped.

That got Serena moving! The blonde threw aside her covers and quickly came to the nightstand to view the communicator screen. "Ami!" She exclaimed at the sight of her friend. "Ami, is that really you?"

Ami faintly gigged at the sight of her disheveled friend. "Yes, it's me, Serena."

"Oh," Serena squealed. "I can't believe it! How? Where are you?"

Luna's eyes narrowed. "Serena," She called, more seriously than she had ever spoken to Serena before.

Serena looked at Luna, confused. "What? What's the matter?"

"That might not be the real Ami," Luna said quietly. "We need to make sure who it is on the other line before we…"

Serena laughed at that idea. "Oh come on, Luna! It's Ami!"

"Luna's right," Ami happened to overhear the conversation. "What can I do to prove myself to you?"

"Tell us something only you'd know," Serena said. "Like a secret crush or something," She giggled.

"Well, I don't know about any secret crushes, but I do know you like to prop your book up and sleep during class, and I also know that…"

"Okay, okay, okay!" Serena laughed nervously. "It's the real Ami. We don't need any more tests, or quizzes, or exams, or anything."

Luna continued her disapproving glare at Serena's study habits for a moment before during her attention back to Ami. "Where are you, Ami?"

"I'm at home," She said. "I was hoping everyone could come over today. It is such a long story, and it would be more efficient if everyone was present."

"Of course we'll come over!" Serena bounced. "I'll get everyone together, and we'll be right over!"

"Alright. I'll see you soon."

Within an hour, all seven Sailor Scouts were gathered together. They crammed into the elevator of Ami's apartment building and went up to the seventh floor. When Ami answered the door, she was tackled by multiple hugs and joyous cries all at once. She nearly collapsed to the floor.

Too many questions all at once were fired at her. She blinked, unable to process all the attention and questions.

"Let her sit down," Lita laughed, noticing her friend's reaction.

Ami shook out of her daze. "I'm fine." Her excitement grew. "I have something important to show you." She led them away from the doorway and into her house. As she led them through the house, she motioned for them to keep quiet. She took them to her bedroom. Ami slowly opened the door.

Everyone gasped. Trista was lying in the bed sound asleep. Everyone began with more questions, but Ami only motioned for them to be quiet. They nodded and kept quiet.

Michelle stepped forward into the room. She came to Trista's bedside and stared down at the woman. "Oh, Trista, what happened to you?" She gasped, almost in tears, seeing Trista's condition.

Amara came up behind Michelle and put her hands on Michelle's shoulders. "They'll pay for this! I swear it! They'll pay for doing this to her!"

"The Negaverse had her all this time?" Raye was stunned.

"Please," Ami said. "Let's talk about this in the other room."

"No," Trista's eyes fluttered open. "Don't go."

"Trista!" Everyone exclaimed. Quickly, everyone packed into the room and surrounded the bed.

"You're alive." Tears finally did run down Michelle's face.

"Takes more than that to kill me," Trista said with a weak smirk.

Mina sat down in the chair at Ami's desk. "You have to tell us the story. How did you get back here? How did you find each other? What happened?"

The others nodded. They all made themselves comfortable and prepared for the story.

All eyes fell on Ami, but it was difficult for her to speak. She didn't know where to begin. She closed her eyes, looking as if she was recalling a painful memory, but after a few moments, she opened her eyes and looked up at her friends. "Queen Beryl is alive."

A vast array of reactions exploded across the room: swearing, screaming, crying, and stuttering. It took a few moments for things to calm back down so Ami could speak again.

Ami shook her head. "I don't know how, but I saw her. She's alive."

"How is that possible?" Serena stuttered. "We…we…defeated her…we…"

"I don't know," Ami reiterated, shaking her head.

The room was quiet for a long time.

Orion opened his eyes to see the plain white ceiling of Ami's apartment above him. Everything he had ached. Sleeping wasn't as replenishing as he remembered it, but it was a lot to recover from, he supposed. He forced himself to sit up. He almost howled in pain as he did it, but he managed it. He turned and put his feet on the floor. As he sat quietly, he heard sounds across the house. He willed himself to stand up, despite the pain. It was his core that hurt the most. As he walked out of the bedroom, he could not help but keep his arms wrapped around himself.

There were voices down the hallway. He slowly followed the sounds and came to the doorway of Ami's bedroom.

"Orion!" Ami gasped.

As a Negaverse General, Orion's reaction time and reflexes were peerless. Now, however, as a weakened man, he barely had time to process the fist that was flying at his face. Lita's strong fist smacked into his nose and sent him flying out of the doorway and against the wall. Blood gushed down his face and onto his shirt.

"Lita! No!" Ami hollered, surprising everyone. Ami stood before Orion, shielding him from the wrath of her friends. "He's the one who brought us home! He saved my life!"

"What?" Amara asked, still with raised fists. "He saved you?"

"Yes," Ami nodded vigorously. "Orion saved my life. He saved Trista's life by getting her out of there as well."

Ami kneeled down at Orion's side. He was cupping his hands over his nose to try and stop the blood. Ami reached in and pinched his nose. "Could someone bring me some tissue paper from the bathroom?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess." Raye ran off towards the bathroom. It only took her a few seconds. Once they had the tissues over Orion's nose, Ami helped him to stand.

"Er," Lita rubbed the back of her head. "Sorry about that."

Orion only nodded in response.

"So what does this mean?" Hotaru spoke up. "Have you changed your alliances?"

Ami looked at Orion. That was something they hadn't discussed.

Orion pinched his nose tighter. "I can't go back there," was all he said.

"Will you tell us what we need to know?" Michelle stepped forward and looked at him with a cold and firm expression.

Orion only nodded.

It took a few minutes for Orion's nose to stop bleeding. He was guided back into the bathroom to wash up his skin while Ami went to get him some fresh clothes. Even though her parents were divorced, her mother kept a box of her father's old clothes stored away in the bedroom closet. Ami dug through the box looking for something appropriate for Orion to wear. Most of the clothes were stained with paint—her father was an artist. After combing through the entire box, she managed to find a button down shirt and pair of jeans that weren't too badly marked up with paint. She brought the clothes to Orion in the bathroom.

The blood was cleaned, but his face was red and puffy. It was obvious that he was going to have a large bruise across the bridge of his nose.

"Oh, goodness," Ami gasped at the sight of it.

He turned towards her. "That bad, huh?"

She put the clothes down on the counter and reached up for his face. Gently, she ran her fingers over his nose. "Your nose isn't broken."

"That's good," He said, softly. Their faces were centimeters apart.

She noticed their closeness and turned her head away bashfully. She turned her attention back to the clothes. "I brought you some clothes." He padded them with her hand. "Well, I'll leave you to finish cleaning up then."

Orion nodded as she left the room. When she was gone, he closed the door behind her and stripped off his Negaverse uniform. He exchanged it for the pair of blue jeans with paint slightly splattered in random places. He then reached for the blue button up shirt. He slid it over his weary and aching upper body. Before he buttoned up the shirt, he looked at his toned abs. He looked strong, but he felt so weak. This lifestyle would have to take getting used to.

A few moments later, Ami knocked at the door. Orion was fiddling with the buttons, but failing. His dexterity was low to say the least.

She announced that she was coming in before the door opened. He had only finished a quarter the buttons. The next one gave him an extra amount of trouble.

Ami stood in the doorway, just looking for a moment. While Orion looked nothing like her father, it somehow felt like her father was standing before her as Orion stood in his clothes. Although she never saw her father wear that particular outfit, she remembered a photograph with her father wearing that shirt. After her moment of nostalgia dissipated, she noticed Orion struggling with the buttons. She came forward and took ahold of the shirt.

"I just can't seem…" His hands fell to his sides. He closed his eyes, painfully. "Everything feels like a chore."

Her sense of altruism caused her to leap into an embarrassing situation. In order to button the shirt, her eyes had to rack over his body—over the open shirt that showed his chest and abs. As best as she could, she tried to look away, but she could not hide the blush appearing on her face. Finally, she finished and looked away.

"Thank you," He said.

"Are you feeling better?" She asked, trying to break the tension.

Orion shook his head. "No, I still feel so weak…so tired, and…" He sighed. "…there's this strange pain in my stomach."

"Oh?" She looked at him, a little worried. "Can you show me?"

Orion pointed to the upper left quadrant of his abdominal area. "It's been hurting since I got up. Occasionally, I feel this strange sensation—like rumbling."

It took everything she had not to laugh in his face, but she was unsuccessful. A few chuckles escaped her lips. "Is it a dull pain—not too severe?"

"Yes," He nodded, vigorously, but confused as to why she was laughing at him.

"You're hungry," She said, cracking a smile.

"Hungry?" He looked down at his stomach. A blush came to his face. He hadn't felt hunger in so many years that he had forgotten what it was like. However, he hated to feel so foolish. Here was another effect of losing his connection to the Negaverse—he would need to eat again.

Ami lead him out of the bathroom. "Come on, the girls are making some lunch."

It was true. The girls were hard at work rummaging through Ami's kitchen for something to eat; however, there wasn't much to be found in the house. Ami and her mother lived a very active lifestyle. They ate out more than most families did, and when they were at him, they ate very simple and basic foods. The groceries that Ami bought for herself over two weeks ago were already bad.

Lita looked around the kitchen at the lack of supplies. Even Lita, the most culinary skilled and creative chef of the group, suggested that they call for delivery. After a few minutes, it was decided that pizza would be order, and within the hour, pizza was delivered to the house.

It was a bit unusual, but Ami entertained all of her guests in her bedroom while they ate pizza, and Trista sipped on another protein shake. After a few minutes of passing out plates and slices, they settled down to finally hear the story.

Despite the fact that Ami told them not to hurt Orion, some of them still bore skeptical looks on their faces whenever he entered into their presence. Amara, however, was not afraid to speak her mind. "So, what happened there, and what does he have to do with it?" She nodded towards the man who sat in the corner.

Orion only glanced up, but he didn't say anything.

"Well, when I was taken to the Negaverse, the first thing they did was steal my Sailor pen. I was then taken to the prison ward of Beryl's palace. That's where I found Trista."

"How long were you there, Trista?" Mina asked.

Trista shook her head. "I'm not sure. Maybe six to eight weeks." She closed her eyes, as the painful memories flooded her mind. "They wanted my staff. They still have it."

The Sailors sighed. That was not good.

"Why do they want it?" Lita asked. "I don't understand."

The look on Trista's face communicated that she didn't know the exact answer to that question. However, Orion spoke up from his corner. "Beryl has discovered away to channel the staff's power through a magical ritual and view fragments of the time spectrum."

Serena blinked. "Translation please."

"Beryl can see time? Like the future?" Mina scratched her head.

"Yes—past, present, and future," Orion said. "At this time, however, she is not able to control what images are presented to her."

"How does that even work?" Amara asked.

"She can channel the staff's energy though the use of moonstones," Orion's answered.

"Ah," Ami said. "The same stones they've been using on people."

Orion nodded. "The magical properties of moonstone allow the staff to be used Beryl's whim. As I said though, she is not able to control what she sees."

"Why is she doing this?" Serena asked.

"Who wouldn't want to see the future?" Raye said. "She probably wants to see if whatever scheme she's got planned will work."

"That's exactly what she did," Orion said. "And the first time, she didn't like what she saw."

"What did she see?" Everyone said at one.

Orion shook his head. "I wasn't there—nobody was, but I do know that it haunts her to this very moment. She told us that we had to find the Moon Prince. He was the key to her destruction."

"Yes, your friends have been griping about the Moon Prince for goodness knows how long!" Mina said.

"Yes, who is he?" Hotaru asked.

Orion shrugged. "We don't know. Beryl has her Generals looking, but there is no information available to locate his whereabouts."

"I don't understand," Serena said. "What exactly is the Moon Prince?"

"I would have thought if anyone knew, it would have been you, Sailor Moon," Orion said with a smirk.

"Why is that?" She asked.

"Because he was your brother."

"Whhhhaaaa?" Serena blinked. "My brother…but…I don't remember any brothers…"

"It was a lifetime ago," Raye said, thinking about her own disconnected memories from the past. "I'm sure we've all forgotten a few things."

"It's true," Trista spoke up. "You had a brother in the past."

"I did?" Serena looked at Trista, concerned.

Trista nodded. "Prince Lír of the Moon Kingdom—second in line to the throne, twin brother of the Princess Serenity, General of the Moon Kingdom Armies, and the Moon's Greatest Champion."

All of the Sailors strained their thoughts trying to remember. Each Sailor would confess to having similar experiences of flashbacks or even dreams of the past. It didn't happen often, but sometimes, a glimpse into their past might come to them. This time, however, nothing seemed to appear about the Moon Prince. As Raye concentrated, however, she felt an uneasy pulling at her stomach. What was that about?

"I have a brother," Serena reiterated. "He was reborn then, but where?"

"You don't think it is Sammy do you?" Lita asked. "I mean, he's your brother now."

Serena thought about it. "Hmm, I don't know. If that's the case, why hasn't anyone noticed yet?"

"Who is this Sammy?" Orion asked.

"He's my little brother," Serena said. "He's fifteen years old."

Orion pondered for a moment. "A little young for the profile, but it is a possibility. You could speak with him about this."

"No!" Serena exclaimed. "My family doesn't know about any of this Sailor stuff! My mom would kill me if she found out!"

"Well," He cocked his head. "You could use a moonstone on him."

"I don't want to hurt him!"

Orion shook his head. "Using a moonstone on people doesn't actually hurt."

"Why do they scream then?" Mina asked.

"People are afraid when they are confronted," Orion said. "Let's be honest though. Draco or Lyra aren't the most gentle or subtle kind of people."

"No kidding," Mina laughed.

"There's just one thing I don't understand," Lita said. "How is it that Beryl is alive? We fought her. Serena killed her. She's supposed to be dead."

"The Negaverse is much more powerful than you could ever imagine," Orion said, solemnly.

"What do you mean?" Lita wanted to know more.

"The Negaverse feeds off the negative energy of the universe—unfortunately, there is a lot to feed it with. The Negaverse seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. It swallows worlds and galaxies whole—feasting off the misery that it causes."

"That's what the Negaverse wants to do to our world," Raye said, just as solemn.

"We won't let that happen!" Serena said, determined.

They continued eating in silence for a long while. The silence didn't end until someone noticed that Ami had only eaten a half a slice of pizza.

"Girl, you need to eat!" Lita poked at Ami's side. "You look like you've dropped a few kilos."

She looked at her half-eaten pizza. "Sorry, it's difficult to eat. They didn't feed us regularly."

"Maybe you should have a protein shake, too?" Mina suggested. With Ami's nod of approval, Mina got up and went into the kitchen. Raye followed her.

A saddened mood fell over the room. They started to feel just how much pain being in the Negaverse caused Ami.

"You're going to be alright," Amara, a bit uncharacteristically reached out and put her hand over Ami's.

Lita put her arm around Ami's shoulder at the same moment, and it was then that tears gently flowed down Ami's face. All of her friends surrounded her in that moment and comforted her.

Orion continued to sit in the corner, quietly watching the scene before him. He hung his head low, the shaggy bangs of his bluish-purple hair keeping his sky blue eyes covered. These were Ami's true friends—the people she would live and die for. He pondered on that fact, and the fact that there was nobody like that in his life.

The Sailors spent many hours at Ami's house—just laughing, talking, crying, or whatever emotion came up. The hour was growing late, and decisions had to be made. Ami's mother wouldn't be home for another two weeks. It was agreed that Trista should say at Ami's apartment for those two weeks so that her strength could grow. Then when Ami's mom would come home, Trista would have more strength to move. The next question was though, what would they do with Orion.

It was perhaps an embarrassing question, but Mina was the kind of girl to make everyone feel uncomfortable. She looked straight at him. "So where are you going to go now?"

The truth was that he had absolutely no where to go. He was alone in this world—he was alone in every world. He glanced down at his feet covered with the socks Ami gave him. How pathetic he felt—he didn't even have any clothes.

By his expression, everyone could tell that he had nowhere to go. They started discussing it among themselves.

"I can take care of myself," He said, gruffly.

"Let's just be honest here," Lita said. "You need a place to stay."

Orion glanced away.

"You can stay at Raye's!" Serena said, proud of her idea.

"Serena! You can't just volunteer my house whenever you feel like it!"

Serena rolled her eyes. "You know it's the perfect place!"

"I know that!" Raye growled, "But still, you can't just use my house like your personal hotel! I've got to take some time and try to get Grandpa to say yes. "

"It's perfect!" Serena said. "You can just hire Orion as an apprentice."

"We already have an apprentice," Raye looked annoyed. "I'll have to spend some time buttering Grandpa up before he'll say yes."

How could he ask any of these people for a favor? He didn't belong here. He stood up from the floor. "Look, I'm not going to bother you anymore. I can take care of myself. I'm a grown person." He bowed his head and exited the bedroom.

Ami shot up from the floor and followed him down the hallway. He reached the doorway to the apartment. His old boots from his Negaverse General uniform was all he had to wear on his feet. Gods, it was depressing to have to put those back on, but he sat down on the floor.

"Where do you think you're going?" Ami ran after him.

He reached for the first boot, but she leaned down and swatted it out of his hand.

"Mizuno-san!" He said, a bit indignant that she would do such a thing.

"I asked you a question!" She put her hands on her hips as she towered over him.

He rolled his eyes and looked away. "I'll figure it out."

"I'm not just going to let the person who saved my life sleep out on the street. Now, you're staying here until proper arrangements can be made for you."

"I don't need your help, Mizuno-san," Orion said. "I can take care of myself."

Even she was surprised by the frown she felt forming on her face. He noticed it too because he wouldn't even look at her.

"I just…" Ami began, but she couldn't finish. "I guess you can go if you want, but…"

He stood up from the ground, looking at her again.

She looked at him too. "I don't want you to get hurt. I suspect that they'd be looking for you, and in your condition…please…just stay…"

It was absolutely true—he was in no condition to wander the streets alone. He had no idea of the full effect that being severed from the Negaverse had, and nevermind the fact that Beryl probably has sent her minions to hunt him down. "Alright," He sighed. "I'll stay."

"Thank you."

And so that night, Orion, Ami, and Trista stayed in Ami's apartment that night. Trista was in Ami's room. Orion insisted that he sleep on the couch while Ami slept in her mother's bed. As Ami tried to sleep, so many thoughts and feelings circled through her mind. She clenched onto the white sheets tighter. What she wouldn't give to have her mother home. Tears came onto the pillow. She tried to calm herself though. She had to sleep well. She had a lot of responsibility to try and get Trista back to health.

She snuggled her head into the pillow. It didn't smell like her mother. The smell was calming to her, but she blushed at the realization—it was his smell.