"I KNOW A SECRET!"
Oosaka Naru knows something about Tsukino Usagi that none of her Senshi know - yet! A gift for Hallowe'en. And - definitely AU!
DISCLAIMER: Sailormoon does not belong to me! Never has, and never will.
WARNING! There WILL be character-death in this story (by the end)!
I am rewriting the mythos, I know. But? It's called "Fan-Fiction" for a reason!
Naru knows something about Usagi that very few others know about..
besides the fact to Tsukino Usagi is Sailormoon and Princess Serenity of the old Moon Kingdom! It's a secret even the Sailorsenshi don't know about!
What is this secret?
Usagi is a werewolf!
Naru learned about Usagi's secret almost as soon as she and Usagi met! After all, it IS hard to hide things from your best friend, especially,
when she worries about you!
Watching from the shadows of an ancient shrine as Usagi was losing herself in a long-overdue run, Naru had to laugh as she remembered first meeting the odangoed-wonder! In retrospect, Naru realized, she and Tsukino Usagi were destined to meet! Her mother had often explained that for every "watcher"- as her family and other such families were called - there was a werewolf! And.. Naru's Okaasan had reasoned.. it would -probably- be a Tsukino, since she had spent much of HER life watching over Tsukino Ikuko! Of course, Naru was told this a few years after the fact.. but, it SORT OF made sense! "Sort of".
As Naru watched over Usagi, she turned the pages of her memory, each picture a treasure more precious than all the jewels in Osa-P:
'Every time you watched over me, Usagi-chan,' Naru smiled, 'if you were to only know, I have watched over you! Demo, it will stay my secret.. as it should.'
Unfortunately, it was not to stay Naru's secret for long! For, as Usagi slowed at a near-by spring to drink and rest, four sharp shouts pierced the quietness of the forest:
"OOKAMI TOMARU! In place of Venus.. I command you stay STILL!"
"Shimatte!" Naru hissed as Usagi froze in her tracks.
"You think THAT will stop Ookami? Minako-Baka! This is how you stop Ookami.." Sailormars pulled out an ofuda. "Rin - Ryou - Rou - Sha - Tai - Kai - Shi - Retsu - Sai - Zen.. AKURO TAISEN! MARS flame SNIPER!"
A mystic arrow of flame was shot toward Usagi, singing the wolf's right rear leg..
And the Watcher reacted!
Three seconds. That's all it took for Oosaka Naru to shoulder, load, and aim the old Enfield she carried with her whenever she watched over Usagi. As useful as it was for dispatching werewolves who posed a threat, it was equally-
effective at stopping any would-be wolf-hunters! The report of the rifle echoed as one bullet, then another, hit the ridge the Senshi stood on!
"Who is SHOOTING at us?" Makoto snapped.
"Ookami has a RIFLE?" Minako jumped.
"Ookami cannot use gun in THAT form, Aino-BAKA!" Rei hissed. "Dano.. it has not SHIFTED! Iyaa.."
"That means..", Ami mused, "that the wolf has an accomplice. Somewhere.." She scanned the area of the shrine. "THERE! In that garden!"
Naru shot perfectly at Ami's feet!
"It does not MATTER!" Rei commanded. "We must RETREAT! Ookami can wait for another day!"
As fast as they had appeared on the rise, the Senshi vanished!
"There will *be* no bounty, Senshi," Naru swore under her breath, "not today!"
After watching as the Senshi made a full-retreat, and donning a mask and hood to hide her identity, Oosaka Naru hurried back to the injured wolf:
"You are dazed, Usagi? Good. I hate to see you in pain, my friend, demo.. it is best that the pain hide me from your senses! Hai. I will not have you worrying about me any more than you do, already!"
Naru continued to speak softly to the stricken wolf as she tended her wounds.
"Usagi? You *must* be careful! Promise me? As it is, now.. with your past hunting your present.. you will have no future!"
The next day, after school, a meeting of the Senshi was held at the Hino Shrine:
"What HAPPENED to you, Usagi-chan?" Makoto had almost gone into a panic as she noticed her limp and the bandages on her leg as Usagi had come to class, but Usagi had managed- so far- to deflect any suspicious questions.
FLASHBACK FLASHBACK FLASHBACK
"Where is Usagi-chan?" Mizuno Ami wondered aloud as the class started to get underway. "She *can* be late to class, but she has never been *this* late!"
"I do not know, Ami-chan!" Kino Makoto wondered. "Usually, I would say she just overslept! Demo..."
"Now.. students!" The teacher announced. "Get out your math-books and turn to..."
A soft, hesitant knock on the door halted the lesson, momentarily.
"Haruna-sensei?" Usagi spoke slowly, almost painfully. "I.. am late. Gomen nissai."
END OF FLASHBACK END OF FLASHBACK END OF FLASHBACK
"I.. had an accident.. last night, ne?" Usagi deflacted the questioning Senshi.
"Nothing was broken.. I think ? Demo.. *ITAI!* Hard to walk!"
"Sailormoon?" Luna screeched. "What are YOU doing here? You should be at home RESTING! We cannot have you HURT by another ACCIDENT! Or worse! Then Ookami would win! World would in DARKNESS! Hai!"
"I know of Ookami, Luna.." Usagi winced in pain. "Itaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! Itai!"
"Go home. Go to BED, Usagi-chan!" Ami snapped out. "Ookami are most-probably after YOU no Ginzhuishou!"
"Hai hai." Makoto nodded. "Mamoru TOLD us Ookami were on the hunt! The dark forces are GATHERING! Hai. Earth in peril! As King of Earth, Mamoru KNOWS these things, and what they mean! We cannot afford to LOSE you, Usagi! Iyaa."
"Goshinpainaku!" Minako chirped. "We are Sailorsenshi! Hai we will protect things. Hai."
"Ja, minna." Usagi said softly as she limped out of the shrine. "Just.. be careful. Onegai?"
The first night after the meeting, Kino Makoto stood guard over the District. The Senshi of Storms was ever watchful, both at street-level and on the rooftops! Meanwhile, Oosaka Naru kept to the darker shadows of the street, always wary of the Sailorsenshi, and always with a portable-receiver tuned into the emergancy-signals! Whichever would strike first, Senshi or Youma, Naru would be ready! A Watcher was always ready.
As Midnight approached, Naru spied upon Usagi's house from a nearby street-
must stay safe, she reminded herself, but, so should Usagi!
And, she would, no matter how many of the Sailorsenshi Oosaka Naru had to go through!
After checking in on Usagi, Naru patrolled the District. Juuban, thankfully, stayed quiet that morning. Naru, however, got little sleep.
The net evening, Naru trailed Rei through Juuban. it was hard to avoid the Miko's senses, but, it was not impossible. Thw Watcher just had to train herself to not let her mind wander. Actually, Naru smiled, it was rather like learning to trail Usagi! She faught hard not to even let her mind giggle too loudly at the memories!
Unfortunately, at two o'clock in the morning, a police call came from Juuban Park! A body had been found at the lakeshore, with wounds to the neck .
Somehow, by using every shortcut known to her, Naru made it to the park before the police or Sailormars! And, with a pinlight, rulers, and a miniature-camera, Naru was able to gather her clues before the police or any Sailorsenshi arrived!
That day, after school and a short nap, Naru processed her photographs and started studying her evidence. build a scale model of shoulder, neck, and head from wire, papier-
mache, and plaster.
"I see bite-marks." She said to herself. "Not Ookami! Too small. Wrong shape. Iie. Not Ookami. Who tell Senshi to look for Ookami demo?"
That night, Naru was trailing Minako. This, the redhead found, was not easy to do, as the blonde proved to be the fastest and most-agile of the Senshi! And, at times, the night and morning seemed to turn into a game of cat-and-mouse. But, who was the mouse?
Fortunately, there no calls that night. There were no emergancies. And, Naru was only a little behind-time in checking in on Usagi.. thanks to the Watcher having to outsmart Sailorvenus!
The patrol of the District for the two weeks after Usagi's injury had proven rather quiet. In fact, the fourteenth night had been the seventh night in a row that whatever was hunting had stayed low and quiet.. Except for that wolf outside that old shrine Mars had shot! Sailormercury was on edge about the supposed-lack of any action on the part of the Enemy, but Mizuno Ami treasured this quiet time! True.. she was a warrior.. albeit a reluctant one.. but she was *much* better at defence and strategy than she was at aggressive-action! That was the forte of the other Senshi. Not hers.
True,Rei had mentioned the psychic-headaches she had whenever she would try to "scan" the District on her nights. And, Minako said she felt like she was being followed. But, nothing extraordinary happened on any of their nights! So.. maybe, the Ookami were being scared away by the Senshi?
Maybe. Maybe they were lucky?
The problem: Mizuno Ami did not put much faith in blind-luck!
Ami had received a call, earlier in the week, from Uwada Ryo. The future-seeing Genius was one of the re-incarnated "Shadows" of the Dark Kindgom whome she and the rest of the Senshi had managed to free from Queen Beryl's , now, though his future-sighth had diminished some (or so he claimed), he still served, as he could,as the Senshi's "Early-Warning System"! And,as such, he had warned Ami of the danger he had sensed toward Usagi and she! But? Since he seemed to only see one thing clearing, he was not sure who or what the danger was, or where it came from! All he knew, Ryo had said emphatically, was that the danger was there!
Itwasn't a lot, but, Ryo had left her a little better prepared!
Plus? Chiba Mamoru had told them that the Ookami were hunting in Tokyo, in his city! Makoto had affirmed that. But, Mizuno Ami had to ask herself:
How did Chiba-san know about Ookami?
Lastly, and most-importantly, Usagi was, also, on Mizuno Ami's mind. The Tsukino family had not spoken to any of the girls, much, since Usagi's accident. And, that bothered the girls! Or, Ami hoped it bothered the other girls? For, it gnawed on Ami's conscience! Like an ulcer in her soul. Usagi was Ami's oldest and best friend! "Best friend"? Ami laughed sarcastically. How about ONLY friend? That sounded closer to the truth! Even counting Uwada Ryo, whom she still heard from every now and then,Ami really had only one friend: Usagi. And, suddenly wished she could tell Usagi that! Hell! She felt like she could tell Usagi everything else! Aside from problems with schoolwork, Usagi seemed to understand her, better than the other Senshi! Maybe..
Better than herself?
And, now? Usagi was gone.
Ami suddenly felt alone. At least, Uasgi still was able to talk to Naru! Who did she have? The dark night, now darker from an early moonset, seemed to be the Enemy.
But, soon, it would be over for the night. Soon, Ami could rest. The first grey streaks of pre-dawn were lighting the eastern horizon. The creatures of the night were now getting ready to hide from the day.
Or, they should have.
As she entered the street that led, four blocks away, to her and her mother's apartment,
Ami heard a faint hiss and low growl. Sailormercury spun around into a battle-stance, peering into the still-black streets. The night-lights, though still burning, offered little assistance to the Senshi.
Then, they attacked! Razor-like slits quickly appeared at the back of Ami's neck and shoulders, as high-pitched squeaks and cries pierced the air and assaulted Ami's ears! Soon- and too soon- Ami's vision was blurred, and she found herself weakened from blood-loss! Ami rushed to her apartment, grateful that her mother was pulling double-duty at Tokyo General because of the attacks of the werewolves. Then, Ami collapsed, mere meters from the safety of the apartment-
building and half-blind with fright! As she turned over to try to defend herself, Mizuno Ami heard the blood-chilling cry and low growl of the wolf...
Then.. everything faded into unconscienceness...
Ami later found herself in the hall of her apartment-building! The ambush of the Werewolves had worn her in body and spirit. She was glad to get home before Doctor Mizuno got home! Although,
she could not remember just HOW she got inside the building! Ami got inside her apartment-door, calmed herself down, and ran to replenish the bullets in her Luger...
Oosaka Naru glared at Sailormercury as she tossed the spent-bullet from the Luger back to the Senshi:
"A word of warning, Senshi! When that wolf DIES.. my duty as a Watcher will end. Hai. Demo..", Naru stared daggars at the Senshi of Mercury. "IF she is KILLED .. then, my duties as a FRIEND BEGIN! Dano.. if I find you are INVOLVED in that death, Mizuno Ami, there will be no place LARGE enough to hide you from me! Iie."
Ami jumped straight into the air:
"You heard me, Senshi!" Naru hissed. "I know of you. And of other Senshi! Also know you for the wolf-hunters you are. Hai! A word of advise.. hunting-season is OVER!"
Before Ami could utter one word, Oosaka Naru was gone!
"Oosaka NARU! HOW did you get into my HOUSE?" Ami could feel her heart and pulse race as she chased blindly through the house for her intruder. She also felt the blood spill from her open wounds!
"NARU?!" Ami screamed out as she reached her balcony. "Where ARE you.. dammit..."
The Senshi of Ice passed out as she collapsed, once more, on the floor of the balcony.
"ITAI! Nani..yo?" Ami panted out. "I.. am weak! Na.. Nani?"
"You are *still* in the Land of the Living?" Naru smirked. "That is good! Hai. The Enemy has not won, yet!"
"You KNOW about our Enemy?" Ami meeped, then harrumphed. "Hai. You know of them. You HELP them!"
Naru quit cleaning Ami's cuts and bruises. "*I* help Enemy? If I helped Enemy, you would be DEAD, now, Hime-no-Mercury! Instead of recovering." She then swabbed more alchohol into Ami's scrapes, making the blue-haired girl wince. "As stands... may still let Enemy win, hai! May let Senshi die.. even after Ookami-bite."
"Oo.. Ookami?" Ami's face suddenly drained of color. "I have.. You.. let.. I.. am.. oh, Kami.. OOKAMI ATTACKED ME! I am OOKAMI!"
Naru winced at Ami's tirade. "Kami! You are as bad as *Usagi*! Only ONE ookami bit you,
and that was to SAVE your *sorry* ass! Do NOT ask me 'why' demo. I am still puzzling that out!"
"'One.' ONE!?" Ami's weakened body started to hyperventillate! "Do not lie to ME, Oosaka Naru! I KNOW what I FELT! What with into my flesh were TEETH! And NOW I am cursed Ookami. Damn you.."
"I saw wounds. Hai." Naru continued to doctor Ami. "Teethmarks! Hai. Ookami? Iie. Too small and thin. Like needles. What attacked you were youma.. the TRUE night-spirits.. not Ookami. What kind? I do not know. Yet. Ookami bite gives your body a chance to fight Youma-poison demo! Ookami thinks you should live! Demo.. I know not why. She considers you a friend, Mizuno Ami-baka! Usagi makes friends with the strangest people, is all I can say."
"U.. sagi?" Ami asked in a quiet, shaking voice.
As soon as Ami meeped out Usagi's named, Oosaka Naru vanished, taking every clue to her mere-presence with her. Then, after a three-minute silence, A yellowish-colored wolf padded into the cabin and looked sadly up at Ami.
"Usa.. gi?" Ami whispered barely petting the creature's head.
The wolf slowly transformed into Tsukino Usagi:
"I am here.. Ami-chan.. dano.. I am sorry..."
"U.. sa.. gi..?" Ami squeaked. "You are..? How can.. you.. be..?"
"Quiet, Ami-chan!" Usagi whispered. "You have lost much blood! Even with my help, you are weak. And cold! I will have to thank whoever saved you, later, for their healing-skills." Usagi climbed into bed with Ami and wrapped a blanket around themselves. "Now, I *must* keep you warm. Hai! Nght-Spirits WILL NOT win!"
"Night.. Spirits..?" Ami mumbled.
"In the morning, we will talk." Usagi kissed Ami's forehead. "Tonight, we rest!"
Slowly, Usagi wormed into bed and wrapped herself around the shivering-form of Mizuno Ami, trying to make her body-heat stabilize Ami's plummeting temperature!
Naru, meanwhile, stationed herself in another room in the shack, away from any windows, with the Enfield cradled in her arms!
The next morning, Ami woke up feeling Usagi's nude body around her like a blanket.
Usagi's arms and legs were intertwined around Ami's, and their bodies were tightly against each other. Blushing, Ami started to fidget and whimper under her friend's weight, suddenly uncomfortable with her own thoughts!
"Shhh... quiet down, Ami-chan!" Usagi reassured her friend. "You are safe, I would never leave you alone and scared."
"I know." Ami whined.
"Ara! Mizuno-chan is back among the living! Hai!" Naru suddenly chirped. "Bite was able to ward-off Youma-Poison. Good News! Now.. for bad news. Means that Mizuno-baka is now werewolf. Hai." Naru started serving up the pancakes. "Means bakayarou needs to learn to SURVIVE like wolf!
I know you were a good student, BEFORE, Mizuno. NOW, you must be EXCELLANT! Hai. If you failed,
before, you *only* would pay the price. NOT NOW! NOW, you fail, your WHOLR PACK will suffer!"
"My.. pack?" Ami asked.
"Hai. Those who you depend on. Those who depend on you. Hai." Naru said. "Ookami.. like inu.. are group-animals. Live better in families. Mizuno must now learn to protect family. Mizuno must RE-LEARN! Hai."
"Relearn?" Ami gulped nervously. "Douyatte?"
"How ookami always learn," Naru pointed to Usagi. "From elders!"
Usagi looked questioningly at Naru.
"Usagi kinsunura!" Naru chuckled. "You will be fine! I will watch."
Usagi cocked her head, studying her oldest-friend:
"Oosaka-Sama? How long have you known of me?"
Naru grinned over a cup of coffee. "How long has Usagi been Senshi?"
"Four years!" Usagi stuck her tongue out at Naru. "And that was not what I was asking!
How long have you know I was Ookami?"
Naru's smile slowly disappeared. "How long have we known each other? Been watching over you.. eight years! Hai. ALMOST AS LONG AS We've known each other. Always watch. Watch in sunshine. Watch in shadows. Always watch."
"My shadow? The dark cloak and hat? The.. rifle..?" Usagi watched Naru intently.
"Hai. Always me. Kaasan says every Ookami has a watcher. A warden. Demo. Ookami must *never*
know. When Senshi go on wolf-hunt demo, I become frightened. When Senshi find us, I become alert.
When Mizuno-san get ambushed and you save her.. I decide you need to know about me! Hai."
Usagi grew strangely silent. Although too few individual Watchers were known by name and face, the Ookami-clans knew of the Watchers, and understood their duel-mission. The weapons that so gaurded the Ookami could well be turned on any that went ronin. There were so many questions Usagi had for the redhead, but those questions would have to wait. Ami was still with them.
"Ami-imouto?" Usagi said as she started to shape-shift, "have some breakfast! We will start your education after that! Hai!"
After breakfast, Usagi and Ami followed Naru into the forested mountains.
"Mizuno-imuoye!" Naru called out. "Your henshin into ookami will not be conplete for another month! This means the senses and reflexes of the Ookami will not find their home in you for a while. Demo! It will still help you.. and Usagi.. to learn the careful ways of ookami. Hai. First test! You have until NOON to avoid Usagi. And me! I will be using paint-balls, not bullets. Will not kill. Will hurt demo! Dano! Paint mixed with herbs to bring drowsiness."
Ami swirled around to stare at Naru:
"Kuso! You are ENJOYING this too much, Naru!"
"'Oosaka-Sensei'.. inoyei!" Naru loaded a pellet-rifle. "Dano.. I only enjoy knowing you passed the test.. and live. Now- GO!"
Without further words-of-protest, Ami turned and sprinted for the denser-
forests on the lower-slopes! If she were smart AND lucky, she could get down to the stream, lose her scent in the stream, and double-back to camp! Big "if". Especially, since Usagi would probably be sniffing-out her trail to the water.
As Ami hit the trees edging the steeper slopes, she had to slow to catch her breath and regain her footing. She tried to hide behind a large-diameter tree.
"Would.. be easier.. to hide.. in shibon-fog!" Ami wheezed. "Iyaa! Naru.. Usagi ano.. would hear henshi-cry! If that.. would not give me away? Shibon-fog would! Make.. Usagi..
Ami heard a paint-ball hit the tree she leaned against, and smelled the herbal-
mixture's scent as it escaped into the air!
"Kuso!" Ami spat out. "They find me too soon. Run!"
With a surprising quickness and grace, Ami scrambled down the slope! jumping over some fallen trees, squirming under others, and climbing over and along every available rock! Soon, she found herself along the mossy banks of a fast-running stream.
"I wonder..", Ami panted, "I have.. until.. Naru-Sensei finds me?"
"AROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! " Came a high-pitched call.
"Guess that answers my question!" Ami chuckled. "Good work, Usagi! just follow stream, Mizuno! Maybe stream will wash-away scent and footprints?"
Soon, Ami was scrambling over and down three waterfalls and entering a wider stream, almost a river! She then turned her head back, looked upwards, and listened:
"I do not hear Usagi-aneue, yet?" She whispered. "Maybe I can swim downstream? Make time?" With that thought, Ami crept into deeper water,and swam off!
Soon, Ami came to a bend in the river and a meadow.
"Looks like a good place to exit! Maybe, start back to the cabin? Hai?" Ami looked up at the sky.
"Ara.. halfway-point? Looks like.. two hours till noon? Time to get to the cabin."
From where she sat by the bank, Ami assessed the meadow.
"Just in case Usagi is near. Naru dano. Crawl though grass, slowly! Two trails, it looks like, back to cabin. Maybe, with luck, I will be back by lunch. Maybe."
Soon, Ami was crawling through the grass, and away from the stream, going to the farther-path. Three-quarters of the way to the path, Ami heard a few excited yips, and a familiar-howl.
"Usagi found me..", Ami grinned, enjoying the game. "Must catch me demo!"
Soon, Ami was sprinted through the undergrowth and lower branches of the trees! Then, the trail became steeper and less-visible, the forest growing denser. The more she tried to follow the path, the more-lost she become.
"Follow wrong path." A familiar female voice seemed to whisper.
"Na.. nani-yo?" Ami started to turn around.
Ami was answered by the growl of a yellowish-colored wolf!
"AIIIIIIIIIIIIII!" Ami sqealed as stumbled backwards onto roots and rocky soil.
"Itai!" The blue-haired genius winced. "I think something just stabbed me in the back?"
"Come!" Usagi smiled sympathetically. "I will lead us back! Hai. Took right trail,
wrong branch of trail! Hai. You were going around three kilometers more then you needed.
Or would have, had I not found you! As is? Detoure of one kilometer."
"How far was I from the cabin?" Ami asked. "When I got lost?"
"One kilometer." The blonde answered.
Ami winced.. and tried not to whimper.
"I bet Naru-sampai will be laughing when you bring me in, Usagi-aneue!" Ami said glumly. "Just hope she does not fire paint-gun at me! Iyaa. Do not wish to fall asleep before lunch and soak. Back starts to hurt more. Kuso!"
"Iyaa! Naru-chan will not laugh. Much. She sounded very impressed that you lasted this long! Hai! Even after I found you!"
"Well," Ami giggled, "I couldn't just give up and give you an easy-win the first time out!"
"Be INSULTED if you let me win", the blonde pouted.
After lunch and the asked-for hot bath, Naru went over what Usagi and Ami related about the morning's run.
"I am not Ookami! nor, would I call myself 'expert' on Ookami! From what I have seen from Usagi dano what kaasan has written about Ikuko I think you are already adjusting demo! That may be because are Senshi? Maybe it is because you are Mizuno? Who knows? Demo. For now? You and Usagi will have play-time! Wrestling-match! Many times, when packs have fought? It was up-close! Fang and Claw! Usagi will never try to kill! Other Ookami will not be so considerate demo. Do Not forget night-spirits dano! Especially in cities! Like Tokyo!"
And Ami felt a shiver run up her spine - much colder than any of her weapons as Sailormercury!
"I will not forget. CANNOT forget." Ami swore under her breath. "Whoever loosed spirits on Tokyo will wish for death! Wish to have stayed dead demo!"
"Hai." Usagi agreed. "For now demo.. Mizuno Ami.. DEFEND YOURSELF!"
"Hai." Ami took a relaxed stance. "Let match.. BEGIN!"
The next few hours saw Ami and Usagi sparring in every martail-art practiced in Japan, and then some!
"ITAI!" Usagi squealed after an hour! "You BIT me on my arm, Ami-chan!"
"Gomennissai." Ami blushed. "I hope I did not break the skin too badly." She then smiled. "It did break your grip demo."
Usgi giggled. "Hai! You are learning, Ami-chan! If you cannot break anything else on Enemy, break their concentration!"
Soon,the sparring match began, again, and continued until a hour before the sun set beyond the mountains.
When the two were finished sparring, they were bruised, sweating, and missing most of their clothing! What was left was torn and tattered.
"The fight is called off!" Naru finally announced,"Dinner is ready. Hai! I am sure even Mizuno-imouto had worked up an appetite?"
"Domo arigatou.. Oosaka-Sensei!" Ami breathed out."I shall be.. in the kitchen.. after I freshen up. Hai! I feel like a mess!"
"You did well, Ami-chan! Hai!" Usagi smiled. "Proud of you, imouto!"
For some reason, Ami felt the sudden-need to hide a blush.
"I.. will be back.. for.. dinner!" Ami found herself stuttering. "Shortly?"
As the three young women were gathered around the stew-pot, Naru was going over that day's activities:
"Usagi explained to me, last night, that you are mainly a defensive-fighter, Mizuno! Hai. Strategist demo. Both were shown, today! In evading me and Usagi, you proved to me you are not only tactician, but field-tactician! Hai! VERY observant. Good."."
"Got lost demo!" Ami whined softly. "What kind of observant tactician is that?"
"Do not pout, Mizuno!" Naru snapped. "No need for self-mutilation. Iyaa! First day on trail? Hai! Tomorrow will be different!"
"Tomorrow?" Ami asked after chewing and swallowing some more of Naru's stew.
"Hai!" Naru answered. "Morning work-out, before we go home!"
"'Home'." Ami whispered, a distant look in her eyes.
"Hai." Naru answered. "Where Mizuno Saeko-okaasan waits. Should talk to her. Tell her about this!"
Ami snapped her head up! "Nani-yo?! Talk.. to kaasan? Tell her.. about..?"
"Hai!" Usagi answered for Naru. "About Ookami. Hai! Ami? Imouto? Ookami are pack-creatures.
Family. Do not last long when alone! Must have family! Family not just me dano! Family includes Mizuno Saeko-Sensei! MUST include Sensei! She is okaasan!"
"Never wanted to lie to kaasan, iyaa." Ami looked into her bowl of stew as if trying to se the futre. "Lieto her demo. Lie about being Senshi. Hai. Lie to her about getting hurt. Never bring up dying asSenshi. How do I tell her the truth? How will she trust me, again?! How can she trust.. someone she does not know?"
That night, usagi listened as Ami finally went to sleep. Ami's mind was obviously still active, worrying over thecoming days and what they would bring, but the strenuous activities of that day finally took their toll on her body. However, early the following morning, Usagi heard Ami whimpering in her bed! Softly and slowly, Usagi slide into Ami's bed and wrapped her arms and legs around her friend, pressing her body securely against Ami's! And? She layed there throughout the morning, daring the world to desturb her inuoye.
And, in the kitchen, Oosaka Naru listened and smiled before heading back to bed.