Minako and Artemis were walking along a path in the park, it was Sunday so there was no school and with summer break only a week away, everyone seemed excited to be out of school for a while.
"Summer break" Minako quietly cheered, "I can't wait".
"Are you planning on going somewhere Minako?" the white cat asked his partner.
Minako thought for a moment, "Well I wouldn't mind going to the beach with everyone, after all I think we deserve some R&R after all we've been through".
"Well even if everyone wanted to go, would you have the money to do it?" Artemis asked, "A hotel room for five girls and two cats, Usagi would probably want to bring Mamoru along with her so add him to the list".
"I get it" Minako sighed, "Money poses a problem" Minako sighed again "Well I guess we can have fun here, there's the arcade and the theatre".
"Well I heard Makoto and Ami talking about a carnival that's in town" Artemis told her, "Maybe you could go to that".
Minako placed her hands behind her head, "We could, but it's only in town for the weekend, what would we do after that?"
Artemis stopped to look at her, "Well you don't have to go somewhere special to have fun do you? Getting to be with your friends should be good enough right?"
Minako nodded, "That's true, but it's not that simple for us. We're different from everyone else. Even if we all hang out here, just about everywhere we go will remind us of one of our struggles against the Negaverse. But if we went to the beach or somewhere away from here, we could just have fun and completely forget about all of that even if it's just for a single day. You know a chance to actually be normal and have fun for once".
Artemis lowered his head, "You do have a point, if there's anyone who deserves a rest more than anyone else it's definitely you guys and you didn't just defeat Queen Beryl you also stop Anne and Alan from trying to drain the energy from the town to feed that tree. You've all done so much and haven't really had any real time to relax as friends".
Minako smiled, "That's what I like about you Artemis. You understand me when I really need you to".
Artemis sat down and curled his tail around his body, "Well I can't exactly deny you the rest you deserve now can I? Besides even though Luna and I aren't able to help you in an actual battle I'd still like to think of us as part of the team".
Minako kneeled down and scratched his ear, "Of course you're both part of the team. You've saved us more than once and it was you who awakened me to my identity in the first place. As far as I'm concerned you and Luna are irreplaceable".
There was a loud rustling sound in the bushes behind them and Minako turned around to see what it is, this early in the morning she was sure it was just an animal, but ever the cautious one she readied herself just in case.
The rustling continued until a long thin leg stepped out from the brush.
"Now there's something you don't see everyday" Artemis said when they saw what was causing the noise.
A single Sika deer stepped out from the brush and sniffed at the ground before its tail shot up and it turned its head to Minako and Artemis.
"Wow" Minako muttered seeing the deer looking at them, "I don't think I've ever seen a deer this close before".
The large doe was about five feet away from them; it just looked at them obviously very cautious of their presence.
Artemis looked up at Minako, "It is pretty early and there aren't that many people out here yet so it makes sense that they'd be this close to the city right now".
Minako slowly reached out her hand to the doe and stood still, "Hey there, good morning".
The doe turned toward her and timidly walked over to her and sniffed at her hand.
"You're pretty friendly" Minako said which startled the animal. The doe withdrew its head and took a step back, but Minako calmly kept her hand held out and stepped toward it, "Its ok" she said as she turned her hand around and gently ran it over the doe's head.
While Minako was petting the doe, Artemis noticed a large cut on its hind leg and pointed it out.
Minako looked around at the cut and covered her mouth, "That's a nasty cut" she said, "What happened to you?" she asked the deer as she reached for the injury, but the deer quickly backed away and ran off toward the river.
"I'm sure it'll be fine Minako you shouldn't worry about it too much" Artemis told her, "I know it looks bad, but nature has a way of preserving its life".
"I guess you're right" Minako agreed before they heard someone talking.
"You hear that?" she asked her feline companion.
Artemis nodded, "Whoever it is it sounds like they're at the river".
Walking past the line of bushes and trees, Minako and Artemis reached the river and looked around.
"It sounds like she's singing" Artemis said once they got close enough to better hear what it was. Looking down the river Artemis saw someone, "Over there".
Minako looked down the river and was surprised to see who was there, "That's Ahri! What's she doing out here this early?"
Artemis looked up at her, "Well she's not exactly normal either, that girl is a real mystery".
Minako stepped out from behind the trees and started walking over to Ahri who didn't seem to be aware of their presence.
"Smiled and told myself, ain't it great that all is clear? All carefree here I go, setting my sights on the world 'cause I know".
Minako and Artemis stopped a few yards away from Ahri, deciding not to interrupt her.
"There are greater things waiting out there. On the hardened road that I will tread
and these wonders one by one will become just a part of me I know; now I know"
"There are crazy hazards ahead yet I don't really fear them as I should. Not that now I have unshakable faith that inside of me my smile is shining bright just because now I know"
Ahri paused for a brief moment, but didn't open her eyes as she slowly swayed back and forth. She slowly reached her hands up and held them together against her chest and she opened her mount again.
"There are miracles waiting for me. On the weathered road that I will tread and these wonders one by one will become just a part of me I know, now I know"
"There are crazy hazards ahead yet I don't really fear them as I should. Not that now I have unshakable faith that inside of me the sky is shining bright just because now I know"
"Now I feel it, I can see it bright as day, it's clear now, now I know I'm on the right track fearless 'cause I know now".
"Now I feel it, I can see it bright as day, it's clear now, now I know I'm on the right track fearless 'cause I know now".
Ahri opened her eyes and looked up at the morning sky before falling back into a sitting position on the ground.
"That was good" Minako said, surprising her.
Ahri looked over to Minako who was smiling at her, "Oh, morning Minako".
Minako walked over to her and sat down next to her, "I didn't know you could sing like that".
"It's just that one song really" Ahri told her, "When the moon kingdom was still around, I would always sing that when I needed something to cheer me up".
"Are you feeling down about something?" Minako asked her.
Ahri didn't answer she just looked down at the river.
"You can tell me Ahri" Minako said, "We're friends aren't we?"
"Are we?" Ahri asked in a rather blank tone, "I'm just here to prepare all of you for what's to come".
Minako looked up at the sky; the moon was still faintly visible in the early morning sky, "Well we were friends during the Silver Millennium right? And we were friends in a year from now right? So why can't we be friends now?"
"Friends are supposed to protect each other" Ahri said, "I failed to save Makoto, I couldn't even save R…" Ahri looked down again, "Do I deserve friends if I can't protect them when they need me?"
Minako looked at Ahri and noticed tears in her eyes, "You can't blame yourself Ahri. You showed us your memories, you did everything you could".
"It wasn't enough" Ahri replied bluntly.
"Well that's why you here isn't it?" Minako asked her, "To make sure we survive this time. You came back because you didn't want us to die; you're protecting us now by training us to become stronger".
"Thank you Minako" Ahri said looking back to her, "That actually makes me feel better".
"Hey Ahri" Minako said before hesitating, "Can I ask you something?"
"What is it?" Ahri asked her.
"It's just something that's been bothering me" Minako began before looking at Artemis from the corner of her eyes, "Why can I sense faint traces of the Negaverse from you?"
"Oh that?" Ahri asked casually, "That's because I spent a lot of time there during the Silver Millennium. There are several trials initiates must go through to become one of the Celestial Guardians, the final trial is to meditate within a place flooding with negative energy".
"The Negaverse" Minako muttered.
Ahri nodded, "At first I was almost overwhelmed by the power there and I was even tempted by it at several points, but I remembered why I was there and resisted".
Minako placed her hand on Ahri's shoulder and smiled at her, "Hey I've got an idea, why don't we get everyone together and go to that carnival next week?"
Ahri had a small smile on her face as well, "That sounds like fun".
Minako got up and held her hand out to Ahri, still smiling "Well let's go ask them. I'm sure Makoto is up by now and Ami is probably at the library".
Ahri took Minako's hand and pulled herself up, "You know you're a lot like you were during the Silver Millennium. You were always concerned about everyone else before yourself".
"And that's a bad thing?" Minako asked her.
Ahri shook her head, "No it's just nice to see, it's what I like best about you".
Minako noticed something behind Ahri and tilted her head, "Hey it's that deer again".
Ahri looked over her shoulder and saw a Sika doe with a nasty looking cut on its hind leg. Turning around to face the deer, Ahri walked over to it and reached out her hand, "Come here" she said, speaking very calmly.
The doe walked over to her without hesitation and sniffed at her hand just like it did with Minako.
Looking at the cut on the animal's leg, Ahri looked at the doe and asked, "What happened to you?"
The doe nuzzled its head against her hand for a second before looking right into her eyes.
"I see" Ahri said, "That's horrible".
"Wait" Minako blurted out, "You can speak to animals?"
Ahri nodded at her, "I don't really know how I do it. Before the other Guardians disappeared they said I was the only one who could do such a thing or at least as far as they were aware of".
Ahri looked back at the doe, "I'm going to take care of that for you ok, just hold still". Reaching her hand around the side of the deer, Ahri gently touched her hand to the cut on its leg and closed her eyes. A few seconds later a faint light started glowing from Ahri's hand and the cut slowly started to heal without any traces of a scar.
Once the injury was completely gone Ahri looked at the doe and smiled, "All done. Run along now and don't worry about him I'll take care of it".
The doe nuzzled against Ahri's hand one more time before it turned around and ran off, vanishing behind the line of trees.
"Wow" Minako muttered, "That was pretty cool".
"It's nothing really" Ahri said "All of the Guardians were capable of such a thing".
Minako disagreed, "It may not seem like much to you, but tat's pretty cool to me".
Ahri smiled slightly before looking at her, "Well shall we leave then?"
Minako and Ahri left with Artemis right next to them.
Leaving the park, Minako looked at Ahri and asked her, "So what's that song you were singing?"
"I don't remember its name" Ahri replied, "I don't even remember where I heard it, but it's always been in my head for as long as I can remember".
"Think you could teach it to me one day?"
Ahri smiled, "Sure. I'd love to".
The two of them continued walking for a while until Minako stopped and placed her hand against her head.
"Is something wrong?" Ahri asked her.
Minako shook her head, "No, I just got a little dizzy is all. I'm fine".
Ahri walked over to her and placed her hand against Minako's chest.
"A…Ahri! Minako blushed brightly.
Ahri firmly held her hand against Minako's chest for a few seconds before looking at her, "You're anemic" she said.
Minako was so surprised that she forgot about where Ahri's hand was. "You…You can tell?"
Ahri moved her hand away from Minako's chest, "I can tell if someone is sick I just go over symptoms in my head and make a guess based on what I know".
"I see" Minako replied, "But…did you have to touch my…"
"I did" Ahri said cutting her off, "The easiest way for me to communicate with another's body is by getting as close to their heart as possible". Ahri smiled mischievously, "Why are you blushing? Did you like it?"
Minako's face grew redder, "No…I uh…Let's just keep going!"
Minako swiftly walked past Ahri who laughed at her before running after her.
Catching up to Minako, Ahri asked her, "Did you tell the others?"
Minako lowered her head, "No. I don't want to make them worry. If they knew and we had to fight they'd be worried about me instead of focusing on the enemy".
"I would just tell you to stay back and out of the fight" Ahri answered sternly, "When a soldier is injured or sick enough that her efficiency is affected she only becomes a liability".
Minako was about to say something, but Ahri spoke first "You have to understand Minako. If you went into a fight like that and you started to get dizzy or even fainted what would the others do? They'd be distracted, even a second worth of distraction can turn the tide of battle. The most likely outcome would be they'd have Usagi take you somewhere so she can heal you which would mean they'd be down two fighters not just one and their battle effectiveness would be severely restricted".
Minako looked away from her, "I see what you mean. Wait you said they'd have Usagi take me somewhere and try to heal me. Could we do that?"
"No" Ahri answered immediately, "Her power doesn't work like that. Your condition isn't magic based or anything like that. It's a natural condition so her scepter wouldn't do any good…" Ahri fell silent for a few seconds, "I might be able to do something though".
"Really?" Minako asked her.
"I'm not sure" Ahri replied, "I think so, but I'll have to look into it to be sure".
Artemis looked up to her, "I remember one of the guardians treated Queen Serenity once when she became ill. Of course that was when she was still a child herself".
Making it to a bus corner, the two of them sat on a nearby bench while they waited.
"So Ahri" Minako said, "How much do you remember about your life during the Silver Millennium?"
Ahri answered right away, "Everything. The Guardians can be considered as sages, we posses live long and have incredible wisdom in our later years and we never forget anything". Ahri looked down, "Of course that doesn't really apply to me much anymore".
"What do you mean?" Minako asked her.
"I'm slowly forgetting most of my past, since I'm losing my powers as a Guardian. That's actually why I tire so easily because I have to concentrate much harder than I used to when focusing on something. Such as the training I'm putting you all through, if I had my full power I wouldn't even break a sweat".
"I see" Minako replied, "That must be difficult for you".
Ahri shrugged, "Actually a part of me likes it. Not having these powers gives me a bit of freedom. Of course if I didn't have these powers I wouldn't have ever reunited with you and everyone else I would've been reborn as a normal girl".
"So what was our relationship to each other then?" Minako asked her "I can remember a lot of my past life, but some parts are still fuzzy, but I do remember you and me talking a lot".
Ahri smiled and looked back at the sky, "You and me were like sisters. When you were a child I had just started my training to become a Guardian and we ran into each other quite often, you would always cheer me on. I guess eventually we just became really close" Ahri smiled as she looked at the ground with a slight blush, "We even kissed once".
"What!?" Minako yelled leaning away from her.
Ahri began laughing, "Relax I'm only joking".
Minako sighed, "Don't mess with me like that".
Ahri continued laughing as the bus arrived, "Sorry, sorry. I just couldn't help myself".
Minako picked Artemis up in her arms and they both got on the bus and took their seats next to each other.
Arriving at Rei's shrine, they both stepped off the bus and quickly walked up the stairs.
"Rei" Minako called, "Good morning".
"Oh Minako good morning" Rei called back after seeing her friend.
"Hello Rei" Ahri said with a pleasant smile.
"Hey" Rei greeted, "You seem happy today".
Ahri nodded her head to the side, "I've had a good morning so far".
Rei looked back at the shrine, "I have to do a few readings and meditate a bit before I get any free time is that ok with you two?"
Ahri nodded, "Of course. We'll wait for you".
Rei nodded back to her, "Thanks, it won't take me long". Rei returned to the shrine to finish her morning work, "Ahri looks really happy today" she said to herself "Actually now that I think of it I haven't seen her smile before, not like this anyway".
While Rei finished her duties as a shrine maiden, Minako contacted the rest of the gang to meet them at the shrine. By the time Rei finished everyone was present, even Mamoru.
Ahri stood on the porch of the shrine, looking at all of them. "Today's training is going to be a bit harsh I'm afraid".
"What do you mean harsh?" Makoto asked her.
"Whoever these Konsui people are, they know a lot about each of you. Including everything Queen Beryl knew about you, thankfully however that does not include your civilian identities since she never learned about them".
They all seemed pleased about that at least, but Ahri revealed something that wiped away what little light there was in the conversation.
"These enemies will not hesitate to resort to cowardly acts to get the upper hand. During one of our first encounters one of them did something to a bus full of kids and almost caused it to go over into a river".
The group was disgusted at such a tactic, but not surprised they had dealt with a similar situation before.
Ahri continued, "That's only a single example. Today your training is going to help prepare you against the monstrous acts they'll do. I want to apologize in advance for this, its going to be hard to deal with".
"We're ready" Minako said trying to rally the others, "Regardless of how horrible they may be I know we can do this together".
"Minako's right" Ahri told them, "Standing together is how you'll win. And you'll need each other's support today to make it through this test". Ahri closed her eyes and held her hands up like she was lifting something.
Once again they were all enshrouded in darkness and felt like they were being lifted off the ground before landing on an invisible floor. When the darkness faded they were all standing in the middle of a street in their Sailor forms while Mamoru had turned into Tuxedo Mask.
Ahri was with them this time, turning to look at them she began to explain what they would be doing.
"We're going to be here for a few hours. There will be a single main enemy with many hidden enemies who will attack you to try and slow you down. Your goal is to track the main enemy and capture or destroy him, remember that there will be many obstacles in your path some of them may challenge you emotionally, the important thing to remember is that none of this is real it's all an illusion".
"That'll make this easy then" Sailor Moon said, "If this is just an illusion we can just walk past everything and go straight to the big bad boss".
"That won't work" Ahri told her, "Since I'm training you to deal with emotional horrors I told you to remember that this isn't real however to keep you from just running through and ignoring the enemies I've made this place to where you will feel pain if your hit by something. If you trip you'll feel it, if you roll down a hill you'll feel it, if you so much as stub your toe on something you'll feel it. While this may not be real the pain you'll feel is, keep both in mind".
Ahri turned away from them and closed her eyes once again. Holding her hand out she created a figure in front of them, a relatively tall person wearing a dark cloak to hide his body and face.
"This is an exact replication of the man I faced; now you may begin".
Ahri stepped out of the way and the fake enemy attacked them, intentionally missing its strike to cause them to separate before it ran off.
"Oh I forgot to mention" Ahri said after the enemy ran off, "If you don't stop him before he reaches the shrine, he'll destroy the city so do hurry".
"Now you tell us that?" Mars yelled before they all ran after their target.
The five Senshi along with Tuxedo Mask chased down the enemy who waited for them at a bus stop, but once they caught up he laughed at them before running off again.
"He's fast" Mercury panted before they heard someone screaming down the street.
Looking down the road they all saw a woman with a little boy being attacked by the same humanoid crow monster they saw in Ahri's memories, the same one that killed Jupiter.
"We have to help them" Mars yelled.
"Why they're not real" Sailor Moon argued.
"That's not the point Sailor Moon!" Mars fired back, "Even if this is all just an illusion what kind of people would we be if we just turned our backs on someone who needed help? Real or not we have to help them".
"Mars is right" Jupiter said, "You guys go on ahead Venus and I will handle this and catch up with you when we're done" she looked at Sailor Venus and smiled "Let's go we'll thrash this negacreep".
Venus nodded and they both ran to attack the monster, leaving the rest of them to follow after the main target.
The crow monster laughed as it closed in on the woman and boy, but once it sensed the two Senshi behind it, it turned around and immediately attacked them.
In an instant it just flashed forward and appeared in front of them, they both just barely evaded its claws.
Rolling to the side to avoid the attack, Jupiter looked over to the woman and the boy and yelled for them to run. The woman grabbed the boy and ran away allowing Jupiter and Venus to fight the monster without having to worry about them.
The monster looked at Jupiter and once again rushed over to her with incredible speed and once again Jupiter was just barely able to dodge the attack.
"It's so fast!" Jupiter yelled in her head as she dodged to the side, thankfully Venus was able to score a hit on the monster's back with her crescent beam attack.
The monster stumbled forward allowing Jupiter to charge her attack while Venus shot the monster in the leg to keep it from moving. Unleashing her thunder dragon attack, Jupiter struck the immobilized monster down.
Waiting a few seconds to be sure the monster was defeated the two Senshi turned around and began running to catch up with the others. Neither of them noticed the monster getting back up to attack them again.
The monster jumped up with its claws raised eyeing Venus with a murderous intent.
Seeing the shadow on Venus' back, Jupiter looked over her shoulder to see the monster above them as it flew at Venus.
Everything started to move slower for Jupiter as she turned toward Venus and pushed her out of the way just as the monster landed where Venus once stood.
After the monster's attack missed, Jupiter tried to jump to the side, but the infinitely quicker monster spun around slashing at Jupiter's chest stunning her as it brought its claws back down to finish her, thankfully Venus intervened once again to save her friend.
The monster turned to face Venus, but Jupiter leaped up and grabbed hold of the monster. Hooking her arms under the monster's holding it immobile. "Venus shoot it now!" she yelled as the enemy thrashed about to get free.
Venus hesitated to attack for fear of her friend's safety, but at Jupiter's pleas she quickly charged her crescent beam and fired it again, hitting the monster in its chest seemingly killing it.
Jupiter was mostly unharmed as she held the now limp body of their enemy before dropping it and then falling to her knees.
Venus ran over to help her up, but Jupiter shook her head and told her to go on without her. "Don't worry I'll catch up once I catch my breath first".
Reluctantly Venus left her friend behind and ran on ahead to rejoin the others.
Once Venus was gone, Jupiter slowly returned to her feet and held her hand against her chest as she limped away from her defeated enemy.
Hearing the monster behind her groan, Jupiter turned around to see the monster getting back to its feet, snarling violently.
"So you want some more huh?" Jupiter asked with an unconcerned smile "Then bring it on".
Crossing her arms and holding her hands up next to her face, Jupiter once again used the tiny lightning rod from her tiara to channel her attack one last time as the enemy charged toward her.
Running up a winding street, Venus heard a loud explosion from behind her and looked back to see a large cloud of smoke from the spot where she left Jupiter, she stopped and turned around she wanted to go back and make sure her friend was ok, but she also knew she needed to help the others.
Narrowing her eyes and gritting her teeth in anger she whispered, "I'm sorry, please be ok" before continuing on to rejoin the others.
Far ahead of her, the others had managed to catch up with the target who once again waited for them before he ran away again, taunting them again.
"Darn we almost had him" Mars panted.
"This is where I take my computer classes" Mercury said noticing the building they were standing in front of.
"Let's go he's getting away" Mars said before they heard yelling from above them.
There were students inside a room a few floors above them screaming and banging against the windows while a bright light shined from the room.
"What do we do?" Mercury asked "We can't leave them".
"Mercury you go with Sailor Moon and go after the enemy, Tuxedo Mask and I will go help the students" Mars ordered.
"Hey you better not try anything with my prince now Mars" Sailor Moon said to her.
"Like I would even dream of such a thing" Mars fired back, "Besides there's no time to think about this. Mercury can track him with her computer so she'll be of more use to you at this point. We'll catch up once we're done now go!"
Sailor Moon didn't like the idea of leaving her friend and prince behind, but she knew Mars had a valid point, with disagreement in her eyes she quickly started running again with Mercury right behind her.
Mars looked to Tuxedo Mask and said, "Let's go".
Tuxedo Mask nodded, "Right we've got people to save".
Entering the building the two of them ran up the stairs and approached the classroom with the screaming students, but the door was locked.
"Look out" Tuxedo Mask yelled before kicking the door open.
Inside the room was a hooded figure with a clawed gauntlet on his hand. He didn't speak, but he turned to face the two of them allowing the students to flee through the other door.
"How do you want to handle this?" Mars asked her partner.
Tuxedo Mask eyed their opponent for a few seconds, "I'll distract him".
Reaching into his cape, Tuxedo Mask pulled out a small pole that extended into a full staff before charging forward to attack the enemy who casually dodged each of his strikes.
Watching how the enemy dodged Tuxedo Mask's attacks Mars waited before she slowly began charging her fireball and once the enemy was backed into a corner she fired it, scoring a grazing hit as the enemy rolled forward, barely getting away.
The enemy's cloak caught fire and forced him to discard it revealing the man under it.
A young looking man with pale blonde hair and piercing red eyes, all of his features appeared normal except the weapon he was carrying, a large leathery gauntlet with razor sharp claws that was easily three times the size of his hand.
The enemy lunged forward and swung at Mars, but Tuxedo Mask blocked the attack with his staff before immediately turning it around and jabbing the enemy in his stomach making him hunch over. Taking advantage of his stunned opponent, Tuxedo Mask flipped his staff upward, nailing the enemy in an uppercut fashion and making him stumble back.
"Now Sailor Mars!" he yelled as he jabbed the enemy again to keep him from evading.
Mars held her hands together as she began focusing her attack. Channeling the fireball at the tip of her fingers larger and larger she yelled for Tuxedo Mask to move out of the way as she fired it.
Once the fireball was unleashed it took the form of a large firebird that swooped down and struck the enemy knocking him out of the window to the street three floors below.
Both of them rushed outside to see if they had won, after a few seconds they determined that their enemy was defeated and were about to continue before they heard Venus calling to them.
"Sailor Venus you made it" Mars said before noticing Jupiter's absence "Is Jupiter..."
Venus looked down, "I'm not sure, I wanted to go back and check, but we can't let the enemy get away".
Mars also looked down worried about their friend's fate, but they both knew they had to press on regardless.
The three of them started running once again determined to catch up to their target.
At the Hikawa shrine, Sailor Moon and Mercury arrived and looked around, but there was no sign of the target anywhere.
"Mercury is your computer detecting anything?" Sailor Moon asked.
Mercury checked, but there was nothing, "Nothing. I'm afraid I'm not picking up anything".
"Did we get here before him?" Sailor Moon asked before the entire sky turned dark. "Wha…What is this?" she gasped before the ground started shaking.
The enemy appeared in front of them and laughed, but there was something weird about it, his laugh seemed distorted.
"Mercury any idea what's going on here?" Sailor Moon asked as the sky grew darker and the ground began splitting apart into hundreds of pieces.
Mercury tried to use her computer, but it stopped working. "My computer isn't working something must be interfering with it".
"Well I'm open to suggestions on what to do, AH!" Sailor Moon screamed as a part of the ground shattered and threw her into the air.
Everywhere the ground was shattering and the sky growing darker, the enemy in front of them vanished completely and soon afterward they were all engulfed in a chilling darkness.
Getting back to her feet, Sailor Moon looked behind her to see her friends and Tuxedo Mask all safe and sound, "Guys you're ok" she said happily.
"Yeah, but what's going on?" Jupiter asked.
Venus looked around, "Where's Ahri? She's not here".
"Is the training over then?" Jupiter asked, "Did you guys win?"
Before anyone could respond they were back in the real world and had been returned to their civilian forms.
"Wait so what happened?" Makoto asked before Minako spotted Ahri lying on the ground.
"Ahri!" she yelled rushing over to her.
Ahri was lying on her stomach, with her hand pressed against the bottom step to the shrine, weakly trying to push herself back up, but her arm was shaking under the weight of her body. She was breathing was very shallow and heavy as Minako reached down and helped her up.
"What happened?" she asked her.
Ahri tried to control her breathing as she spoke, "I…used too much energy…got…tired and couldn't…hold on anymore".
"Do you need to go to the emergency room?" Minako asked her.
Ahri shook her head, "I…just need to rest a bit…that's all".
Minako saw the exhausted look in her eyes, she believed she should be taken to a hospital, but she trusted Ahri's words and decided to take her home to let her rest.
"I'll take her home" Minako said, "I'll catch up with you once I'm sure she'll be alright".
Minako placed Ahri's arm over her shoulder to help her walk, but Rei called to her, "Wait up I'll go with you".
Rei gently placed Ahri's other arm over her shoulder and helped Minako take Ahri home.
Once they were at the shrine's street entrance they both remembered that neither of them knew where Ahri lived.
Ahri slowly muttered the name of the street she lived on and they both started walking her there, thankfully it was only a few blocks away.
Once they made it to the apartment where Ahri lived, she told them what room she was in and they helped her inside.
When they entered Ahri's home they immediately noticed that there was hardly anything there, no couch or TV. not even a chair in the kitchen. The only furniture was a small bookshelf in the far corner of the living room. The kitchen seemed to have everything it needed, but the oddest part was Ahri's room, there was only a single queen sized mattress lying on the floor.
They gently set Ahri down on the mattress and stepped back, "Does she really live here?" Rei asked.
Minako didn't answer; she was more concerned with Ahri's health than her empty residence.
Ahri was asleep, but she was still breathing heavily trying to catch her breath.
Minako looked at Rei, "Thanks for the help Rei. You can go on back now".
"Are you sure?" Rei asked her.
Minako nodded, "I'll stay with her for a while to make sure she's ok you go on ahead".
Rei looked back at Ahri and decided to leave, "Alright call me if anything changes at all".
Minako nodded again, "I will".
Rei turned to leave, but stopped at the bedroom doorway, "Hey Minako can I ask you something?"
Minako turned to her friend, "What is it?"
"Did…" Rei hesitated for a moment, "Did something happen this morning? Ahri…she seemed really happy this morning, I haven't seen her smile like that since we met her".
Minako stepped outside the bedroom with Rei and told her everything that happened after she found Ahri at the river, from the song she was singing to her depression and even the way she healed the deer they found.
"Wow" Rei said when Minako finished, "I never would have guessed she was like that".
Minako looked back at Ahri who was still sleeping, "She's here to help us so I want to be there for her in return" she smiled slightly "I kinda feel like we're sisters".
"Really?" Rei asked.
Minako kept smiling, "I know it's funny since we've only known her for a few days, but I feel like I can really trust her and when I see her like this I want to help her as much as I can".
"I kind of feel the same way" Rei admitted seeing the way Ahri slowly returned to normal breathing. Rei smiled before turning around, "Well I'll see you later then".
The two friends said goodbye to each other and Minako locked the door behind Rei and grabbed a cup of water from the kitchen and set it next to Ahri who was still sleeping.
Minako sat next to her for a while and eventually began feeling tired herself, her eyes slowly began closing and she tried to keep them open.
She heard a muffled chuckle coming from behind her and her eyes shot open as she turned around, but there was no one there.
"Minako?" Ahri muttered.
"Ahri!" Minako gasped turning back to her friend.
Ahri slowly rose into a sitting position, but Minako told her to take it easy before noticing how dark it was in the room.
Looking out the window, Minako saw that it was now night time. "Oh no" she said in a small panic "I should call my mom and let her know I'm alright. Oh and I've got another doctor's appointment in the morning!"
"Minako" Ahri muttered weakly.
Minako looked back at Ahri as she asked her to help her up. Holding her hand out, Minako gently pulled Ahri back to her feet, "Are you feeling alright? You still look pretty tired".
Ahri tried to stand, but stumbled back thankfully Minako grabbed her arm and balanced her to keep her from falling.
Ahri spoke in a really weak tone, "There's a phone in the kitchen, I don't use it much, but you can call your mom and let her know you're alright".
Minako looked at Ahri's face; she was clearly still very weak and needed more rest.
Minako let go of Ahri and went to call her mom.
The second Minako picked up the phone Ahri placed her hand on her shoulder, "Can I ask you to do something for me?" she asked her, her voice still really weak.
Seeing the look in her eyes, Minako had a guess of what she was going to ask, "Do you want me to stay with you tonight?"
Ahri lowered her eyes away from Minako and nodded, "I…would like to have someone to spend the night with. It's only me here".
"Where are your parents?" Minako asked her.
Ahri looked back at her, but didn't make eye contact "I don't have any. My Earth parents died when I was really young, I've been on my own since I was seven".
Ahri stumbled forward and Minako caught her again, "Go lay down alright" she told her, "I'll be right there".
Ahri slowly turned around and leaned against the wall for support as she made her way back to her room. Once Minako called her mom and told her she was going to stay at a friend's house for the night she went back to Ahri who leaning against the window sill looking out at the city.
"You should get some rest" Minako told her.
Ahri looked over to her, "Thank you" she said quietly, "It's…been a long time since I've had anyone to spend time with".
"Hey what are friends for?" Minako asked her as she walked over to her.
Ahri looked away from her, "I…I think I have a way to cure your anemia".
"Huh?" Minako muttered, "How?"
Ahri looked down at the floor, "Do you trust me?"
"Of course I do. Why?"
Ahri looked at her, Minako couldn't see it too well in the dark room, but Ahri was blushing slightly, "Close your eyes". Minako hesitated at first, but she slowly closed her eyes and waited.
Feeling Ahri's hand against her chest again, Minako tensed, "Ahri…" she muttered before she felt something press against her lips. Quickly opening her eyes, she saw Ahri kissing her, Minako tried to pull away, but she couldn't move she was completely paralyzed.
It only lasted for a few seconds however, once Ahri let go Minako could move again.
Blushing brightly and breathing heavily, Minako looked at Ahri who also seemed a little embarrassed, "What…What did you…Did you have to" Minako was at a complete loss for words.
Ahri looked away from her, "It's going to sound weird, but I transferred the condition to me when I kissed you. Since I can't get sick it won't affect me, sorry I didn't mean to startle you I just didn't think you would agree to it if I told you what I was going to do".
Minako waited to calm down before she answered, "Thanks I guess" she smiled awkwardly, "Just warn me next time alright".
Ahri smiled back at her before getting dizzy and stumbling forward again, thankfully Minako caught her once more.
"You need to rest, you're still weak" she told her.
Ahri looked away from her again, "Will you…sleep next to me?"
Minako could tell Ahri was uncomfortable asking her that, but she knew how lonely she must feel without anyone around; "Well you've got the only blanket" she said after a brief silence "Just don't snore too much".
Ahri moved her eyes away even further, "Thank you" she said as they both lay on the mattress. It didn't take Ahri long to fall back asleep and for a few minutes Minako stared at Ahri as she slept, even after what happened; she felt a smile forming on her face.
"Good night Ahri" she whispered before closing her own eyes.
A/N. Alright chapter 4 done and done.
In my original drafts I had Minako more suspicious of Ahri, much like Rei has been, but I decided to have her be a little more comfortable around her since in the manga she can remember her previous life a lot more clearly than the rest of the team so it would make sense for her to remember if they were friends back then.
I also decided to make Minako anemic in this chapter since I remember her character in one of the live action series being anemic as well. This wasn't in my original drafts, but I thought I could use it as a base to build the relation between them more quickly.
And Minako shows she actually has a soft spot for Ahri after she collapses and takes her home with Rei's help who also seems to be slowly warming up to Ahri. And we end with Minako staying the night with Ahri who admits to being lonely.
Minako seems to trust Ahri and even shows to care for her a bit, how do the others feel about her? And let's not forget the images Rei saw from the fire spirit, what do they mean?
Find out in the next chapter, Ahri's true feelings!