AN: GO VOTE IN THE POLL! I don't care if you all ready have please vote again. The polling is acting really weird and won't register the first set of votes so please vote again.
Second off. My aplogies for the delay. This chapter was rather problematic in getting written. I kept hitting blocks. I literally got it to juliemarie12 late Saturday night the Monday before it was supposed to be posted. After that well stuff happened. In the following order:things happened that caused juliemarie12 not to be able to get chapter editedI left for a five day trip to Los AngelesI was too busy during afore mentioned trip to writeI ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon on SundayFlew back to CO on MondayGot miserably sickGot edited chapter from juliemarie12 on MondayFinally felt better on Thursday and finally began work on Chapter 12
If all goes well (chapter 12 is coming along a lot easier than this chapter) chapter 12 should hopefully be in your hands either on the mornings of February 4th or 6th (depends on when I get chapter to juliemarie12, when I get it back, and whether or not I am in LA again, and whether or not I can figure out how to upload a chapter with an IPad).
My apologies for the long delay hopefully it won't happen again. Or at least it won't happen again for an unplanned length to this extent.
First off thanks to Ladygoddess8 (I know, I know, I keep forgetting), AzarathMetrionZ, PuffGirl1952, LoveInTheBattleField, and Light-Sakura for reviewing. I also love the fact that you guys review so much I can just copy paste your names from previous ANs (it makes my life a LOT easier). To Penbrook5200, supernena25, Sha115, Lupin and Tonks Forever, gundam1, and Belle of Ponderosa for the favs! To reereerenaissance, Belle of Ponderosa, and sorel y for the follows. To hungrytiger and peachfairie for the comments on AO3!
Also a big thanks to all of my readers for now having me up to nearly 4,400 hits on and up to 900 hits on AO3. I think my eyes bulged out at the later. Wasn't expecting that much popularity at the newer site. Hell I wasn't expecting that much popularity at either sites. Glad everyone likes the story!
As always a thank you to my unknown readers! I love you all!
Once again I want to thank some people. A friend who shall remain unnamed for being my sounding board on how to handle certain thing in the story. To June aka lesbiaaans for helping point me in the right direction on how to handle one of my plans that will kick in during the second arc. And to all the people at the NaNoWriMo write-ins who heard me talking about this story and let me ramble about it for God knows how long. You all are the best!
Before we begin. I aplogize for any awkwardness of this chapter. I had a very hard time writing this chapter oddly enough beyond the first scene.
Enough rambling please enjoy chapter 11!
The Masked Marauder!
Today I put aside everything and faced one of my greatest fears: whether or not the other girls would continue to respect me after they knew about my legs…
"I can't do this. I really, really can't do this," was the first thing out of Usagi's mouth the following afternoon upon arriving at Naru's house. She and her friend had headed home right after class had ended and were waiting for the older girls to arrive.
"Usagi, it will be fine," Naru said, trying to assure her longtime friend. She had managed to convince her to take off her legs and work on her exercises while they waited.
"Easy for you to say; you aren't a senshi and don't have to worry about whether or not they will respect you both in and out of battle," Usagi said shifting slightly in nervousness.
Naru sighed before replying, "You have too little faith in others. Besides, you said they handled it fine yesterday during the youma fight."
"For good reason," Usagi muttered in reply, then paused for a second before continuing, "But at the time of the youma fight they had just found out. While they appeared to be fine with it last night, they may have changed their mind since then."
Naru was cut off from replying by the doorbell ringing. Usagi froze as Naru stood up from the table, heading for the door and saying over her shoulder, "Look, it will be okay. It's out in the open now; you can't hide everything from everyone. You'll feel better after this, all right?"
"I still don't like the fact that we are telling them," Usagi muttered to herself as she resumed her exercises, noticing Luna pacing out of the corner of her eye. The cat may have been verbally denying it all afternoon, but her body language portrayed her own sort of nervousness.
"You had to tell them eventually," Luna said, looking over.
"I know. It's just easier said than done," Usagi replied. She could hear the girls climbing up the stairs toward Naru's room. The nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach increased with each second.
"So what's the deal, anyway? Why didn't she tell us about this before?" she heard Haruka ask as the girls neared door.
"It's not my story to be told. As for why she keeps it hidden, well…she really hates talking about the whole thing, so go easy on her, please. We've been trying to convince her for weeks now to tell you guys, but she kept refusing until last night," Naru responded.
"Why is she so frightened of this? She seemed quite open about everything before," Michiru inquired.
"She's not so much as scared as much as very subconscious about the whole thing. When she first started school here, she was teased a whole lot about it, thus her wanting to hide it as much as possible," Naru replied, sounding close enough that Usagi figured they had to be either at the door or nearly there.
Absent-mindedly chewing her lip, she waited for the inevitable. She only hoped that their opinion of her had not changed because of her condition.
A few seconds later, the door opened. Naru was the first one through, followed closely by the other girls. There was silence for a few seconds before a sense of deja vu of when Usagi had discovered Haruka had been a girl swept over them. Haruka stated, "So you have no legs?"
"It's complicated. I have prosthetic legs, as you can see, that Luna is sitting next, but not actual legs. No, I haven't had them in almost two years," Usagi explained nervously. So far they were reacting okay, it looked like, but they'd yet to say what they actually thought about being leaded by a disabled girl.
"What exactly happened?" Michiru asked after a few minutes of silence, during which the older girls took a seat.
Usagi took a deep breath and began the story she would rather just shove into a distant corner of her mind, "It's a long and complicated story; one I rarely talk about when I can avoid it. The big thing, though, is that I am not a Tokyo native. My family moved here well over a year and a half ago. You see, up until I was twelve years old I lived in a small no-name town near the coast to the north of here – about an hour and a half by train to be exact. My father worked for the local paper as a photographer, much like he does here. My mother was a housewife charged with keeping the house in order and raising my younger brother, Shingo, and me."
"It was a simple life, but a happy one nonetheless. We were never in need and, even though we didn't always see Dad because of his odd work hours, it was a good life." Usagi paused for a second. From here on, the story got harder to tell.
"That all changed on March 11th of 2011," Usagi said, pausing briefly when she heard both older girls sharp in draws of breath. They could probably figure out most of the story from here, but once she had started it was hard to stop. She continued after a second, "Like for everyone else living here in Japan, it started out as your average day. Dad had left for work long before we were up. Shingo was up first, like always, and I had to be almost dragged out of bed to make it to class on time."
"The school day progressed like normal. We got out just a bit early, so I went to pick up Shingo to walk him home like we did almost every day. We hadn't made it maybe a mile or two from the school when the earthquake struck," Usagi continued, reluctantly pulling out the memories from the back corners of her mind – where she stuffed most of the memories involving the quake.
"Most of the events are a bit of a blur after that, but I do remember trying to flee to higher ground before the waves came in. We were unsuccessful. The last time I saw Shingo was when we the waves tore us apart. I was the lucky one. They found me; they never found Shingo," Usagi muttered, wishing she could pull her legs to her but the stumps wouldn't provide the normal sensation she longed for.
"Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital room almost a month later. I had been in a coma ever since the rescuers had found me by some fishing boats floating in some debris, pinned under another piece of debris. The rescuers weren't able to remove the debris, unfortunately having to opt for an emergency amputation to get me out," Usagi continued after a brief pause to go over her memories of the aftermath of the earthquake. She thought she had covered almost everything.
"By all accounts, according to the doctors, I should be dead. I'm a living anomaly. I shouldn't be sitting here being able to have a conversation with you, yet that's exactly what I'm doing. I missed another month of school on top of everything else after I woke up just trying to recover. Since then, I've been struggling to catch back up and understand what's going on. Haruna-sensei, well, she's an okay teacher, but her teaching style just doesn't match me and that is problematic so I have a hard time learning from her," Usagi confessed, nervously crossing her arms at the thoughts of what had been going on.
"Well, thankfully you are still here," Michiru said, giving her a sad smile.
"Why did you never really mention this before? It would have been helpful to have known about this in case something strange happened," Haruka asked after a few minutes of silence.
"Because I was afraid of how you would react. You two have been great, honestly," Usagi began as they made a face at her comment, "But the last time I was open about my condition, I ended up being mocked by classmates. I just got used to hiding my condition that I continued to hide because I was still worried about your opinions. And I wanted to earn your respect without you guys knowing about everything."
"So, the afternoons you are absent, are they for doctor's appointments?" Haruka asked.
"Yeah, I am currently seeing Dr. Setsuna Meioh. She has been absolutely great and I'm slowly getting over all of my issues. It's a long road, but she is approaching it in a manner that no other doctor did before. And for the first time since the quake I feel like I am actually getting somewhere with my recovery instead of going in circles." Usagi gave a slight smile at the thought of her favorite doctor.
"That's good," Michiru said, giving her a smile.
"So..."Usagi began, glancing between the two older girls. So far they had handled it very well, but she couldn't be one hundred percent sure until they said something either positive or negative about her condition.
The older girls exchanged a glance, sighing before Michiru spoke for the two of them, "Usagi, we only wish you had told us everything earlier so we could have supported you. Also, it would have given us an explanation as to what happened during the battle with Jadeite. I'm guessing your freezing had something to do with your experience?"
Usagi nodded hesitantly before speaking, "Shingo's loss was rather traumatizing. I had to be told to let him go a few times before I would. I think I froze at the thought of being involved so closely with someone else's death, even if he was the enemy."
"That's perfectly understandable, considering everything you went through," Michiru said, taking one of her free hands with a reassuring squeeze that earned her a tentative smile from Usagi.
After a few minutes, the topic changed to slightly more normal one for the group and Usagi finally relaxed somewhat for the first time in the last couple of days. It looked like everything would be okay after all.
The next week and a half passed with a sort of normality to it. Nephrite had sent out a couple of more youmas to try and steal energy, but nothing to write home about. Haruka and Michiru had accepted her condition without a word more after the conversation, just the way Usagi preferred. She had Setsuna to talk to about her issues; she wanted to keep her personal medical issues as separate from everything else as humanly possible.
Most evenings revolved around the usual talk about senshi duties, school, and Naru's growing crush on Masato Sanjouin, which had seemed to have doubled after seeing the man at the contest.
They continued to see Tuxedo Kamen and Sailor Pluto occasionally at the fights, which had brought up the topic a few times of how they kept they locating them. Haruka seemed to be of the mentality that they were more stalkers than helpers at the time. Usagi knew she had a point, but she couldn't really bring herself to truly believe that. Though Pluto's behavior was odd, at best, and weird at others, Tuxedo Kamen had at least given her a semi-reason for his behavior back when this whole mess was starting. Pluto had yet to explain her behavior, which seemed to greatly annoy Luna for reasons unknown.
But Usagi and Naru had less and less time to contemplate the odd behavior of their fellow fighters as January grew to a close, leaving them with a little more than a month to prepare for the end of the year exams that were freaking Usagi out greatly, for good reason. The semester had been a hell ride and it was looking like, unless she pulled a miracle out of nowhere, she would be stuck going back to Haruna-sensei the following semester.
So, while some of her classmates were fretting about the spring and the search for love, love was the last thing on Usagi's mind. When, on one afternoon as January grew to a close, her mom informed that she had received a love letter in the mail, it struck her as odd. She wasn't exactly popular at school and she had lost touch with all but a few of her classmates from her hometown after the earthquake. Who exactly would be sending her a love letter?
As she slipped the letter out, she tuned out her mom's normal babble. It was a simple piece of lined paper, blank on one side, but she could make out some of the kana on the other side. Flipping it over, she noticed it was a fairly average length letter. Scanning it over, she felt her eyebrows climb slowly towards her hairline. Why would he of all people send her a love letter? And, better yet, how the heck did he get her address? This felt way too fishy.
Stuffing the letter into her shoulder bag, she bid farewell to her mom and made her way to the office where they kept their one computer. They were attempting to save up for another one, and Usagi was hoping with her new income from the government that this would be sooner rather than later, but it wasn't exactly easy for them. They had lost so many personal possessions in the tsunami that they still hadn't been able to fully replace everything due to the cost of certain items and medical bills in general. Of course, there were certain items they would never be able to replace no matter how hard they tried, but that was a give in. She pressed the power button on the computer hard drive and waited it to boot up while texting the others, asking for a Skype chat. She wasn't sure how plausible that was considering how far Haruka and Michiru had to travel to get back to their apartment, but this was something they needed to address.
Thankfully it was a short wait to get the entire group onto Skype. Once the group call began, Usagi held up the letter, explaining it had been dropped in her mailbox earlier that day with the rest of the mail. However, the contents didn't make sense because there was no way Tuxedo Kamen could have magically gained her contact info after only a few exchanges between him and the girls.
"Are you certain you aren't reading too far into this?" Michiru asked, frowning slightly. It was odd, but there had to be some explanation that made more sense than what Usagi was suggesting. They ignored Haruka's comment about the other members of their team being very stalker-like.
"I actually got the same letter," Naru admitted, holding up a near identical letter.
"This is sounding more and more like a youma plot. Though, it seems odd for Nephrite to revert back to Jadeite's style of tactics after going his own way for so long," Michiru admitted after some thought.
"Yeah, but Jadeite is dead. It was all over the news. So, unless we are dealing with a new general out of the blue, maybe Nephrite switched tactics hoping to make more headway?" Usagi suggested. She absent-mindedly tapped her thighs. It would make more sense, but if Jadeite was anything to go by when the generals got desperate, they seemed to resort to all sorts of odd tactics. Challenging them in front of an entire city of viewers in this day and age, while threatening to burn the city to the ground, where every government official can observe you was just flat out stupid.
"Well, at least he appears to have some tact, compared to his predecessor," she could hear Haruka mutter over the connection. She could hear a muffled 'ow' and assumed that the older girl had been elbowed by Michiru for the comment, judging by the look Haruka was now shooting her.
"So what do we do now? Should we try showing up?" Naru asked after a few minutes of silence.
"Seems like the only real course of action. I'm just worried how many other students our age got the letter. You two didn't get one, correct?" Usagi addressed Haruka and Michiru.
"No. Then again, it seems that most people at our school know about our relationship, so he may have not sent the letter for that reason," Michiru said. She had disappeared off screen – probably to check her mail – for a short bit but now returned.
"Or maybe he is just targeting Juuban," Haruka said.
"Either way, we should probably check it out. Why don't you give us the address listed in the letter and we meet there tomorrow after class instead of at Naru's," Michiru suggested.
"Sounds like as good of a plan as any," Usagi admitted, preparing to end the call.
"See you tomorrow, then?" she heard Haruka ask.
"Yeah, see you then," Usagi said as she hung up the Skype call. She shut down the computer before heading back to studying. Odd love letters or not, she still had finals to take.
The following afternoon, Usagi and Naru wandered around in the mall by themselves, playing a guessing game of who actually sent the letter. Haruka and Michiru had been held up at their school, having gotten into trouble over something neither girl had been willing to talk about over the phone.
"Maybe him?" Naru said, pointing at another guy as he walked past.
"Nah, too short. He's taller than that," Usagi said, waving her hand in dismissal.
"For only having seen him a couple of times you sure remember quite a bit about him," Naru muttered, looking around.
"Yeah, well, he left quite an impression," Usagi muttered, glancing around. Any guy who was willing and crazy enough to risk it all to fight the Dark Kingdom was worth a second glance.
"Does someone have a crush?" Naru teased lightly as they began to move into another section of the mall.
"What? No! I just mean that the fact he is fighting the enemy without any prompting left an impression, that's all," Usagi said, putting her hands up in defense.
"I see your point. Do you have any idea why he joined the fight?" Naru asked, bobbing her head in agreement.
"No. He is more mysterious than the other unknown member of our group, in some ways. Though, at least with her, we know she's one of us. Luna doesn't have a clue who this guy is and I think that really unnerves her," Usagi said as they settled down on a nearby bench to observe people again.
"Because she knows she is supposed to exist but she doesn't feel like he is supposed to, right?" Naru asked.
"Pretty much. From what little I have been able to pry out of Luna, back in the old days there were only the warriors, none of which were male," Usagi said, glancing around some.
"Anyway, I'm wondering when he will show up, if at all," Usagi said after a minute or so of silence. She unfolded her own copy of the letter, double-checking her suspicions. No time was specifically mentioned, just the mall in the late afternoon.
"Well, if it is the enemy, it would make more sense for him to show up if this was a trap. If not, well, I think he will still show up. Though, his method of trying to find the warriors is a bit odd, to say the least," Naru said, looking around.
"I agree, but you would think he would have been smart enough to specify a specific location," Usagi said, glancing around at the crowd. Still no person in particular looked like he may be Tuxedo Kamen. Though, she did notice that millionaire Naru had been crushing on was window shopping. That seemed a bit odd.
She gave Naru a bit of a nudge before pointing at him and saying, "Speaking of crushes, look who's here."
Naru caught sight of who she was pointing at before flushing bright red. Usagi giggled slightly at her friend's reaction before teasing, "What? Surprised to see him?"
"Yeah. Well, he was apparently a bit of a recluse until recently. For him to be spotted at a shopping mall seems a bit odd," Naru admitted, glancing away.
"Been doing your research?" Usagi asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I have a copy of his book," Naru muttered to herself, but Usagi heard her loud and clear. Usagi finally realized what book she had seen her friend buried in lately. Naru had been very careful about hiding it from her, stuffing it in her bag anytime she knew Usagi was around.
"And he actually says that in an autobiography?" Usagi asked in surprise.
"Not exactly," Naru admitted.
"So you did some research!" Usagi exclaimed, making sure to keep her voice on the low side to avoid attracting too much attention.
"Maybe," Naru admitted hesitantly.
"Well, he's here. Why don't you get him to sign the book?" Usagi suggested.
"How do you even know I have the book on me?" Naru asked, flushing slightly.
"Naru, you have been carrying it everywhere for the past week, if it's the book I'm thinking about. I would be shocked if you didn't have it on you," Usagi pointed out.
"That obvious?" Naru muttered after a second of hesitation.
"I wouldn't say obvious to anyone else, but you have to remember when we've known each other for as long as we have, I would notice certain things that others wouldn't," Usagi pointed out.
"True," Naru said with a bit of a sigh. She looked over to where Masato was standing before continuing, "I don't know. I don't really want to bother him."
"Come on, it doesn't hurt to just ask," Usagi urged.
"I guess," Naru said but still didn't stand up.
"Look, if you at least go talk to him I'll make you a deal. Somewhere down the road I will do something that I am hesitant to do because you want me to, okay?" Usagi said, trying to give her a slight push.
"Promise?" Naru asked after a second of thought.
"Promise!" Usagi agreed.
Naru pulled a pen out of her bag then finally stood, after taking a deep breath, and made her way over the aforementioned millionaire. Usagi watched her go with a slight smile. She hoped someday she could find her own love, but for now she could encourage her friend to seek opportunities she wasn't personally so sure about quite yet.
"I really don't like this," Usagi admitted to Naru a few hours later. There was still no sign of the mystery man that was supposed to be Tuxedo Kamen and the mall was getting ready to shut down.
"Maybe it was a practical joke?" Naru suggested. It was the only explanation that made sense at this point.
"If it is, it sure is an elaborate one. I mean, sending out letters to the entire female half of our class? He not only had to look up personal information and hand write each letter, but he had to make sure it didn't get anywhere else. It seems a little extreme for him, from what I have seen," Usagi commented, waving her copy of the letter in front of Naru as a reminder.
"I agree. It's the only explanation that I can come up with, though, unless he wanted to meet after the mall closed for some reason. Which is weird, to say the least," Naru said, chewing on her lip thoughtfully.
"Yeah, well, you probably should see about going home," Usagi said, standing up.
"Shouldn't you be saying the same thing about yourself? It is getting pretty late," Naru replied as she stood.
"I will in a bit. I just want to make sure I don't see anyone who could possibly be our masked helper," Usagi explained.
"Sounds good. Do you know if the others are ever going to show up?" Naru said as they walked out of the mall to the side of the main entrance.
"They said they were on their way a while back. I told them we would either meet at the mall or at my apartment if I let them know I left. For now, I'll just plan to meet them here unless I see something to otherwise suggest I should leave," Usagi decided.
"All right. Then I should probably head out if you're going to be okay," Naru replied, tilting her head in question.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. See you at school tomorrow," Usagi said, waving her off. Naru said her final farewell before heading home.
Usagi relaxed against the side of the building as she engaged in another game of people watching. While she had a basic idea of what Tuxedo Kamen looked like out of uniform, it was a vague idea at best. Luna had explained that the same disguise magic that kept others from identifying the senshi in their uniforms, despite the few changes in appearance, seemed to be in use by the man, which only raised Usagi's curiosity even more.
Usagi sent another text to the other girls to let them know she was still outside the mall before looking around. So far, there was no sign of anyone who could be their masked man. It was looking more and more like a practical joke – or the work of Nephrite – than anything, but she had to at least stick around until the mall closed.
As she stood around for maybe a half hour, she continued to get more fed up with the situation as the minutes ticked past. Waiting for some mystery guy that may or may not show up ,was not what she wanted to do with her evening. She had better things to do with her time.
She was just about to leave once and for all when she heard the cracking of the doors. She frowned slightly. The mall was closed, why would it be opening again? It wasn't supposed to open until the following morning. There were no late night events today, she had checked before she had come to the mall. So what the heck was going on? Dodging into a nearby alley, she decided not to risk any trouble and transformed.
Making her way back to the door, she found them open again, though the lights were still off. She frowned, hesitating for only the briefest of moments in the edge of the doorway. She really didn't like this whole scenario, but she had to at least see if this was either an enemy or Tuxedo Kamen. She slipped through one of the manual doors with some reluctance, entering the mall just as the lights came back on.
As much as she really didn't like this, she had to fulfill her duty. She heard the whir of the escalators turning on and the whishing of a cape. She rolled her eyes in exasperation as she said, "You know, if you wanted to meet me, there are better ways to go about this than this. I almost left because I was fed up with waiting."
"Well, thankfully for me you apparently have a high amount of patience," came the deep voice.
She frowned, spinning on her heel in the direction of the voice. That definitely wasn't the voice she had come to recognize, which left only one option: Nephrite. She hissed in annoyance, "Just as we figured. Nephrite, show yourself!"
"What makes you so sure I am not your masked savior?" the voice echoed off of the marble.
"First off, I have only met the guy a couple of times, not enough to actually have a party fall in love with him. Like yes, love no. Second, your voice is all wrong," Usagi retorted.
"For someone who isn't in love and has only met a man a few times, you sure remember quite a few details. I would be less surprised if you actually were in love with him," came the voice. The man finally materialized in the air a few feet in front of her. He was taller than Jadeite and had dark brown hair. Actually, he bore some resemblance to the millionaire who Naru was crushing on, she realized with a frown. She hoped for both her and Naru's sakes it was just a coincidence. Unfortunately, knowing her luck, it was anything but.
"Why I remember those details is none of your business!" Usagi snapped back in annoyance. Okay, maybe she did have a bit of a crush on him now that she thought about it, but she wasn't going to admit it to anyone.
"Whatever. I am here to fight you, not argue with you over your personal feelings toward an ally," Nephrite said, moving into a stance she didn't recognize.
She reached up for her tiara automatically but didn't get a chance to launch her attack as a lion – of all things – materialized out of thin air. Even though she knew it was most likely just a youma, that didn't make the situation any better as she moved to dodge the incoming attack. She could really use the help of the older senshi right about now.
Assistance came a few minutes later but in the ironic form of the actual Tuxedo Kamen deciding to make his own presence known. She drew a deep breath as he tried to distract the youma, then she reached up for her tiara. Hoping the man could keep him distracted long enough, she powered up her own attack. Thankfully, it did dust the youma which was admittedly a bit unusual these days.
She never got a chance to properly thank him as Nephrite launched another youma to attack. Chasing them into a nearby elevator, it made her wish for her senshi companions more and more. She knew the last text had said they weren't too far out, so they had better have a good excuse for not arriving yet.
She was drawn out of her thoughts as she heard Nephrite's voice doing the echoing thing again. She had missed most of the message but caught the tail end of him telling them they had apparently fallen for some trap. Great; that was just great.
When she felt the elevator start going up, she let out a bit of a yelp. Tuxedo Kamen didn't spare her a glance, too engrossed in trying to find a way out of the elevator.
Finding the hatch on the top of the elevator took only a couple of minutes. In the meantime, a brief moment of him being startled over something he refused to elaborate upon made her wonder about how much he might be aware of after today, and what actually it felt like with her legs. Haruka hadn't mentioned anything seeming to be odd after the battle with Jadeite, but then again there seemed to be some sort of unspoken truce between the three of them that they would speak about such issues only when the associated party felt most comfortable.
It was part of the reason that, even though Usagi was curious about Haruka and Michiru's relationship, she had never pushed for actual details. And it was part of the reason why she thought they never pushed about certain other details of her life before some of it had come out the other day – like why she missed a meeting once a week.
For now, she just ignored the look she was getting, opting to ask a question instead, "So what now? We're out of the death trap, at least, but we still aren't exactly safe yet."
"There should be a ledge coming up at the top just before the elevator begins its journey downward. We're going to have jump for it since the top of the elevator won't be in perfect alignment with it, but it's the only option we have," he said, making motion towards the top of the dark shaft.
She tried squinting at it to see if she could see what ledge he meant. She could see something was up there but nothing definite; she guessed she would have to put some faith in the man.
The elevator reached the top of the shaft within a couple of minutes. Not sure how much springing power her legs would possess, she tried to put as much power into them as possible. Falling a bit short of the ledge, she was more than relieved when Tuxedo Kamen managed to catch her.
"Easy. I've got you," he said, helping her up a bit so she had a better grip.
There was a brief silence as took in the situation before asking, "Do you think you could reach the ledge if you tried swinging yourself a bit?"
"I'm not really sure if I can do that," Usagi said, frowning as she looked at the ledge. If she tried swinging herself up, she may just throw both of them off balance and send them to their deaths. However, if she could reach the others she wouldn't have to worry about the swinging. Reluctantly, she shifted her weight so she had a better grip with her left arm.
"What are you doing?" Tuxedo Kamen asked as she maneuvered to get her wrist watch open. Thanking Luna's own paranoia and her insistence on having some other form of communication than their cell phones, she opened it and pressed the button that would call Neptune.
As soon as the other girl answered, she said, "Where are you? I need you now!"
"We've just arrived at the mall," came Michiru's response. She could hear Haruka grumbling in the background.
"Yeah, well, hurry up! I'm kind of dangling here!" Usagi snapped, her worry for their safety coming through.
She wasn't sure how much longer she could stay hanging there, and then there was the matter of her legs. Sure, they were snapped in tight, but she was pretty sure they weren't used to being pulled by gravity this much, so she was worried about them becoming unsnapped.
"Where are you exactly?" Michiru said frowning slightly.
"At the top ledge of the third elevator shaft," Usagi replied.
"Give us a couple of minutes and we will be there to get you," Michiru assured before closing the connection.
"It better be just a couple of minutes," Usagi grumbled as she closed her own communicator. Carefully maneuvering so she could get a better grip on Tuxedo Kamen, the brief silence was broken by him asking, "Why weren't they with you in the first place?"
"They had to stay after class for some reason – wouldn't say why when I asked. They kept telling me earlier they would be here shortly but they just got here. At least they are getting here now, I guess," Usagi sighed. She understood that things came up but this had been bordering on ridiculous.
Any further conversation was cut off by the door to the shaft opening. Usagi let out a sigh of relief when she felt them being pulled up. She felt like nearly kissing the ground; that was one experience she hoped to never repeat.
Tuxedo Kamen didn't give them much time, taking off for parts unknown as soon as he was safely on the ledge. Usagi wasn't exactly happy about the events leading up to it, but at least everything would hopefully be okay now.
Luna was not happy about the entire thing. While she seemed glad that I was starting to take some responsibility, she was far from pleased about Haruka and Michiru's disappearing act today.
Not to say I am exactly pleased about the whole thing personally, but at least they showed up, right? I may have been able to get up on the ledge on my own but it was so risky.
Anyway, I hope they will be more careful about whatever got them in trouble in the future.
Your big sister,
AN: So that concludes chapter 11 at long last. Chapter 12 will be coming to you in February. To tide you over until then here's the preview (and also the reason this chapter didn't go up on Tuesday):
"He actually invited you out to something," came Usagi's exclamation a couple of days later on the walk from school.
"Uh huh. He said that he was looking for someone to accompany him to it and asked if I would join him," Naru said giving a bit of a grin.
"Great everyone has an invite but me," Usagi said slightly more in exasperation than in jealousy.
"Why are you interested anyway? Parties were never really your thing. And I wouldn't think Luna would be that interested in some sort of fancy party," Naru said raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah well Luna wants me to go because she is wondering if the mysterious royal treasure of the D Family is somehow connected to the crystal she has mentioned before but I don't see how I could get in. I'm seriously tempted to tell Luna to shove it for once and let Haruka and Michiru handle it. I mean why the heck would an ancient crystal from such a far off place be with a royal family from a small country of all places?" Usagi said after a second.
"Maybe the queen sent it their for safe keeping when the kingdom fell?" Naru suggested.
"The D kingdom maybe old but I don't think they are that old," Usagi said
"How are Haruka and Michiru getting in anyway?" Naru said going back to something that Usagi had glanced over in passing.
"I think Michiru's agent hooked them up with some playing time during the party. Or something like that," Usagi said trying to remember the explanation she had been given about that.
"So you're the lone one out then?" Naru asked.
"Pretty much. Unless Luna manages to pull something out of blue air. Which after she has done in the last month and a half I wouldn't put it past her to find someway to get me into the ball. But she isn't exactly a miracle worker. Even if we got the disguise, their is so many things we would be lacking," Usagi said after a couple of minutes.
That's it for now! See you in February!