Sailor Moon: Snippets - Eight

(Sailor Moon, after ep. 37)

 

"Usagi. Will you pay attention, please?" Luna sighed as the blonde girl blinked, then focused questioningly on the moon cat. "Weíre trying to figure out what to do about the Negaverse. They are obviously changing tactics. Theyíre not just after energy. Theyíre after you and the Silver Crystal."

"Theyíve always been after the Silver Crystal," Minako put in.

"Maybe so, but not to this extent. And now theyíre trying directly to track down Sailor Moon. Does this mean they have enough energy for their needs?"

"Or are they sick and tired of Sailor Moon interfering?"

"Or is it because the Silver Crystal has now appeared?"

"Iím inclined to think the last. They are in serious trouble if Usagi learns to control and use the Silver Crystal."

They all looked to Usagi, who was staring off into the trees again.

Luna blew up, "Usagi!"

Ami clamped a hand over the black catís mouth before she said anything else. "What are you thinking about, Usagi-chan?"

"He phased out of my reach."

"Huh?"

"When I was going to use the Moon Healing on him, he phased back." Usagi looked at them with a sparkle in her eyes, "That means he was afraid of it. That means it would work! Tuxedo Mask is still in there, and itís up to me to free him." She looked back at the trees, "Now all I have to do is find him."

The others glanced at each other. They were wary of destroying her good mood, but they were almost more afraid of her unreal confidence. And while she was thinking about Tuxedo Mask, she seemed not to be able to concentrate on anything else. Not that she ever did... But she was the Moon Princess now, and they needed Serenityís wisdom and power. Not Usagiís wild mood-swings.

Ami tried a tentative, "It might be another trap -- maybe thatís what they want you to think."

Usagi shook her head. "No. When he was talking with Malacite, he told him he was chasing his tail. Endymion would never have used that expression. Thatís something Mamoru says! Mamoru is there. That means Tuxedo Mask is there as well, and I will free both of them and restore Endymion!"

"Mamoru-san never said that." Rei didnít raise her head.

"Sure he did." Usagi waved her hand, "Okay, so he said it to his cat. But it was the way that he said it. And he explained all about it being an American expression -- and he used it when talking with Malacite!"

Rei slowly raised her head, while the others traded glances again. "Mamoru has a cat?"

"Oh good God!" Usagi jumped to her feet, and Luna was only a second behind her.

"We forgot again!" Luna meowed with frustration. "Usagi, have you talked with Andrew?"

"I havenít seen him -- Iíve been avoiding the Arcade. But Andrew wouldnít think of it." Usagi smacked her head, "That poor cat! Twice in three months! I hope Mamoru left the cat food filled up."

"And the water," Luna added. "We better head over there right away -- itís been two weeks! Weíll have to stop by the Arcade first to get the key."

"Uh, well, actually..." Usagi blushed to the roots of her hair.

"Usagi-chan! Do you still have the key to his apartment?"

"It was too embarrassing to return it!" Usagi wailed. "Andrew never asked for it, and every time I thought of giving it back was when Mamoru was around, and I couldnít, I just couldnít, give it back when he was there!!"

Luna couldnít help it, she sniggered, then burst out laughing.

Rei stood up, "Why do you have a key to his apartment?" Her heart was heavy.

"Uh, well, ah..." Usagi gave up and decided to make a clean sweep of it, "It was when he was in the hospital. Andrew had forgotten to feed his cat and couldnít get away from work, so he asked me to go do it."

Reiís heart sank lower. "Mamoru was in the hospital? When?"

"He didnít tell you???"

To her own surprise, Rei didnít feel angry. She didnít even feel mad. She felt... resigned. It was over. There was no doubt about it. Mamoru was Tuxedo Mask was Endymion. It had been obvious over the last few months that it was Sailor Moon that Tuxedo Mask was there for. And Endymion was Serenityís love from the distant past. And Rei knew that Mamoru had never loved her. But she had loved him -- or thought she did. And now it looked like even Usagi had known Mamoru better than her.

Lost in her thoughts, Rei hadnít noticed the silence. She became aware of it and, looking up, had to smile in spite of her heavy thoughts. If it was possible for a cat and a human to look alike, Luna and Usagi did. They both looked like they wished they were not there at that time, in that place. Rei thought that if they could phase like Tuxedo Mask could, they wouldnít be there at all. Instead, all they did was huddle still and hope that Rei would ask the other.

Rei smiled at them, "Come on. If we need to take care of his cat, we better do it. You can tell me on the way."

Luna, Usagi, and Rei lead the group. The conspicuously silent others followed.

"It was about three months ago."

Three months. Rei remembered seeing Mamoru pale and wan, after not having talked to her for over a week. Heíd apologized for not returning her calls and told her heíd been busy.

"It was just after... Oh my."

Luna hopped to Usagiís shoulder, "Whatís wrong?"

"Nothing." Usagi shook her head, almost dislodging the cat. "I just realized. We had that fight with the dragon, and Tuxedo Mask told us he wouldnít be around for awhile. Tuxedo Mask is Mamoru -- thatís what must have caused his coma. When he sealed the rip..."

Coma?

"You know, itís rather odd," Ami spoke up, "With all the times weíve encountered Mamoru and Tuxedo Mask in the same situations... We never thought about it."

"Chameleon Effect."

"What?"

Minako shrugged, "Itís the same as with ourselves. Nobody recognizes us -- you didnít recognize me the first time you saw me. When we are the Senshi, the Light of the Moon is what people see, and not what we look like."

"But Mamoru?"

"He is--"

"Tuxedo Mask." Artemis cut Minako off. "Itís apparently much the same."

Minako nodded. They were at the back of the group, so nobody could really see them, and she and Artemis traded glances. It was probably better that they didnít mention that he was a Senshi like them. Especially since the Negaverse had somehow subverted him. Minako shuddered. She hadnít thought it was possible for a Senshi to be turned. But Endymion was such a shattered soul...

"Coma." Rei turned back the conversation to what she was interested in.

"Uh, right." Usagi gathered her thoughts again. "Andrew told me that Mamoru had been having blackouts--"

"Oh!" Rei blinked, sheíd forgotten all about that.

"What?"

"That time we were boating at the lake... Iíd felt some evil, but thought it was the construction. Then Mamoru doubled over in pain, clutching his head -- just before we were attacked by birds. When we got back to the shore, I came to join you. But I just realized -- that was at the exact moment that I felt you change to Sailor Moon."

Their pace had slowed until they were all just standing on the sidewalk, looking at each other. "Tuxedo Mask didnít know who he was at first."

"It was after Mamoru came out of his coma that he started looking for the seven crystals."

"Do you think...?"

"Seems obvious."

"Thatís when he realized who he was."

"Kind-of."

"Letís keep walking."

"Oh yeah."

There was a silence as they all thought their own thoughts and speeded back up to a walking pace.

"Anyhow, Andrew said that Mamoru had been in an accident when he was young..." Usagi trailed off. He was telling me about it in the elevator... ĎWhat am I?í Even as a child, he knew he was different. Oh, Mamoru -- why did I not know you? Why was I so mean to you?

The others held their peace, waiting for Usagi to continue.

"Andrew said that Mamoru was in a coma from something left over from that old accident. Iím afraid I wasnít paying attention to the details. I thought about poor Ray..."

"What?"

"Oh, Rei! Sorry! I meant the cat!! I did ask Andrew if heíd told you..."

"And?"

Usagi blushed and hung her head. Luna did almost the same. Usagi mumbled something. After Rei prompted her, gently, she still didnít respond.

Luna repeated it for her and added the explanation, "He said he didnít want to deal with it. He made her promise not to tell you until the next day. And by then, Mamoru was out of the coma, and I really thought he would have told you."

"But he wouldnít have. Mamoru doesnít like to admit weakness." Usagi shrugged, "I didnít think anymore of it."

"Mamoru doesnít like to admit anything," Rei muttered under her breath. Louder, she asked, "He came out of the coma that same day? Coincidence."

Usagi stopped short again, and burst out crying.

"Usagi, weíll never get there at this rate." Rei got Usagi walking again and she stopped crying. "Now what?"

"We thought he was calling for peace... He was calling my name!" Usagi glanced vaguely around, then tried a bit of an explanation, "Mrs. Tsuko and I -- sheís a dear friend of his -- were at the hospital, and he came out of the coma shouting ĎSerenityí." Usagi gulped. "Mrs. Tsuko said it was English for Ďpeaceí, and we thought he was calling for it... The doctors made us leave. He was calling my name as we left... Mamoru..."

There was a very long silence after that.

Rei broke it first, "Mamoru-san has a cat with my name?"

"Oh no. Her name is Raylia. Ray is the short-name."

Minako and Artemis stopped dead on the instant, and the rest of the group left them behind before they noticed.

"Whatís wrong, Minako?"

"Did you say--" Minako started.

"Raylia?" Artemis finished.

"Oh Lord. If itís really her..." Minakoís face lighted up with sudden hope.

Artemis snapped around to face her, "It changes nothing!"

Minako recoiled at the vehemence in his voice.

"Nothing at all!" Artemis closed his eyes. "Captain, you forget -- Non-Interference."

"But sheís here! Isnít that doing something?" Minako had forgotten.

"Not if she just watches. Raylia would never do anything." Artemis suddenly sat down, his tail curling around his toes. The others in the group watched the by-play, fascinated. "Itís probably not Raylia. This is a reincarnation of Endymion -- he probably just remembered the name and called his cat it."

"I had a pet canary when I was a kid and didnít name him Euripides!"

"Euripides was only your lover, not your Sensei!"

"Lover???" Four voices rang out as one. Minako turned pure scarlet and so did Artemis.

Luna jumped down from Usagiís shoulder and shook her head, "Not now, you dinglebats -- a thousand years ago, when you were different people." She looked at Artemis, "Who is Raylia?"

Artemis blinked, his color went back to its normal white, and he blinked again, "I thought you got your memory back!"

Luna coughed, and turned away, "Itís... sporadic. Most things. But not all. And I have trouble... Never mind."

"Oh, Luna."

"Never mind, I said! As far I as could tell, three months ago, Raylia was a normal cat. What is she suppose to be?"

Minako and Artemis looked at each other. "Your department, Captain."

"Thanks, Artemis." The sarcasm shone through the words. Minako started walking again, and the others followed. Usagi took the lead again. "Raylia is a... being from another universe who helped out the Moon Kingdom a long, long time ago."

Artemis added, "This was in the lifetime of Serenity the Wise -- the current Princess Serenityís great, great grand-mother."

"And the Moon people live long lives." Minako was silent for a moment. "Raylia is powerful. So powerful that she and Serenity the Wise made an agreement that Raylia would not interfere with the lives and destinies of the people of Earth and the Moon, but would only give advice."

"Thatís silly."

"No. Itís wise. People do not grow if there is no reason."

Everybodyís eyes involuntarily went to Usagi, but she was in the front and didnít notice. Nobody said anything.

"Okay, but why then, was she with Endymion?"

After a silence because Minako didnít actually know, a different voice responded, "Because she liked living on the Earth more than the Moon."

Six people stopped moving. Then they hurried to catch up with Usagi. "What?"

Usagi didnít respond for a while. "My memoryís like Lunaís -- sporadic. But I remember Endymion. And Raylia was his companion and teacher. I liked her. But she used to say that she would not stay near the Moon Queen because... It had something to do with mongooses. It made sense at the time."

"If you had a house in India, you would constantly be on your guard for cobras. They are dangerous, but can be defeated with vigilance. If you had a particularly nasty one loose in your house, you might send for a neighborís mongoose to kill it. But if you had a mongoose living in your house, you would stop worrying about the cobras. For the mongoose would take care of them. But what would happen one day if the mongoose was not around when a cobra came in? You would not notice, because you were not watching for it. And then the cobra could easily kill your children for you wouldnít know the cobra was in your house."

"That was it!" Usagi clapped her hands.

Ami smiled, "I used to like that analogy. When I visited India..." Ami frowned, "When I..." she raised a hand to her head, "Oh!"

Minako hurriedly supported her, and the group stopped again and gathered around them. "Donít think about it too much! Actually, itíll be easier if you try not to think of it at all. If the memories come, theyíll come like the Arabs -- swiftly and silently, but they wonít be there if you look for them."

The girls were feeling rather lost. Mako whispered, "We really are the reincarnations!"

"Yes," Minakoís face was completely blank as she hid her emotions, "We are."

"You remember a lot."

Minako sighed, and the others couldnít read her face. "The more time you spend as Sailor Senshi, the more youíll remember. Iíve spent nearly two years as Sailor V." She looked down the street, "We should probably keep going."

Usagi and Rei shrugged, "Weíre here."

"Huh?" The others all looked at the building they were standing by. Rei held open the door and they filed in.

 

After opening the door, Usagi took two steps in and stopped. The others piled up behind her. They looked to where her attention was, on a vase of roses. Mako leaned over to smell them, "Oh, beautiful." They were a gorgeous shade of lilac-purple, and even the fact that they were starting to wilt didnít diminish their beauty or scent.

Usagi sat down where she was and started to cry.

"Usagi-chan!"

"I picked those out!" She sobbed harder, "Mamoru and I picked them out... Oh, Mamo-chan!!!" Lost in her memories, Usagi didnít even notice that sheíd used a friendís form of Mamoruís name for the first time. The others practically picked her up and hustled her inside far enough so they could all get inside and they shut the door and then tried to calm her down.

"Usagi-chan. I have a space ready for a new rose-bush. Would you like to help me pick it out?"

"Mrs. Tsuko!" Usagi jumped up and clapped her hands. "Oh, can I?"

Mrs. Tsuko smiled at her in that special way that made Usagi feel good. "Of course, my dear." She looked beyond her, "Now donít sulk, Mamo-chan. You picked out the last six!"

"Iím not sulking."

"Oh, of course not." Mrs. Tsuko winked at Usagi, "You just do a good imitation of it."

Usagi stuck out her tongue at Mamoru. He glared at her. Mrs. Tsuko laughed, "Iíll give you the second cuttings from it for your vase."

"Knowing what Odongo Atama is likely to chose, I probably wonít want any."

"Iím going to chose the best smelling rose in the world, and you probably shouldnít give him any because the smell of roses wouldnít suit him!"

Mamoru actually winced, "Iím sorry about that one, Odongo -- I was in a bad mood that day."

"How was that different than any other?"

Before the scrabble turned into a full-scale war, Mrs. Tsuko diverted them into arguing about what type of rose bush it was to be.

"Mamo-chan..." The flood of tears diminished to a trickle, and the group got her standing again. "Where are you, Luna?"

A black nose and whiskers poked around the corner. "In the kitchen. Raylia is a fairly resourceful cat, but I do think sheís just a cat."

They all blinked at that one, then followed Luna around to the kitchen. Usagi laughed when she saw it. The kitchen, in general, was its normal spotless self. But there was a cabinet door open, that had a small hole torn out of a bag of cat food, and the food had spilled on the floor below. The sink had one of those lever-type handles, instead of a turn one, and there was a steady drip coming from the faucet. Raylia, the grey tabby cat, was actually sitting in the sink, head turned to look at all the people crowding into the kitchen. The golden-yellow eyes regarded them with the serious look that only a cat can manage.

Mako laughed, "Resourceful, indeed." She approached the sink and put her hand out, "Hi Raylia, Iím Makoto." The cat gravely inclined her head to sniff the offered hand. Then she hopped out of the sink and onto the floor, where she walked up to Usagi and started purring. "Recognize your food person, eh?" Mako and Ami got busy cleaning up the kitchen and refilling the food and water dishes. Ami stared at the water container for a few moments before filling it. So, Mamoru was the friend that Usagi didnít want to talk about.

Minako went back out to the hall and got the roses, changing the water on them, and pulling out a plant that had been in with them, but was totally wilted and dried. Usagi looked up from petting the cat, and grabbed it from her. She grabbed it so hard, the petals crumbled to the ground. Usagi watched them drift down, dry-eyed, though the look on her face was such that the others expected her to start crying again.

"What was it?"

Usagi turned, and headed out the kitchen, moving into the living room where Rei was. "A Hydrangea."

They looked at each other. Ami and Minako followed her. Makoto reached for a broom.

Usagi sat down on the faded and torn couch and put her face in her hands. "It means, Ďthank you for understanding meí. And there was a crocus there too. Thatís my flower. Mrs. Tsuko must have told him... Oh, Mamoru, why didnít you tell me?" She answered her own question, head still buried, "Because I wouldnít have listened. Second-most hated person in the world."

The others waited for the tears, but they still didnít come.

Rei listened to her, and listened to herself, and stared at the painting on the wall that was obviously of Mamoru and Usagi. Sheíd already heard of that story. From Usagi. Usagi had told it as if they had hated each other during it. Maybe they had. But they had also been friends. That much was becoming so very obvious. I didnít know he had a cat. I didnít know about his roses. I didnít know heíd been in the hospital. I never called him Mamoru-chan. I loved him -- he was gentle and kind and sweet, and the goodness just radiated from him... but I was never his friend. Heís been Usagiís man, all along. Goodbye, Mamoru-san. Even if we get you back on our side, goodbye. I love you, and I let you go. Rei sat down beside Usagi and gathered her into a hug, crying the tears that her best friend could not shed for herself.

 

End.