Sailor Moon: Snippets - Ten

(Sailor Moon, after ep. 37, after Snip 8)

 

For the first time in ages, Usagi wandered into the Crown Games. She wasnít sure what sheíd do there. Well, play games, yes... But she remembered what Andrew had been like when Mamoru was in the hospital. What would he be like now that Mamoru had, by all appearances, just disappeared? Usagi wandered over to the Sailor V game and sat down. She put a coin in and started the character, jumping and shooting the monsters that came out at her. ĎI have been Sailor V for over two years.í Usagi had been Sailor Moon for only a couple of months. And I have nightmares every night. Sheíd had them since the first time a yoma had turned on her. Theyíd gotten worse since sheíd seen the crystal pierce Tuxedo Maskís body. My friend... This is not a game. People are getting hurt, killed, protecting me. I would rather die myself, than see them die. She knew what her friends would say to that -- they would say that it was her duty to fight. But I donít want to see them hurt. Tuxedo Mask, falling. His hand reaching up to her face, ĎThen why are you sad? -- Iím happy you are safe." But Iím not happy!!!!! Iíd rather be dead myself, then have seen you so hurt.

"Usagi-san? Are you all right?"

Usagi jerked upright. Her eyes refocused on the screen. It had been flashing ĎGame Overí for a time. "Oh, hi, Andrew -- no Iím not all right! This stupid game is jinxed!"

Andrew laughed, "Oh, Usagi! Iíve shown you all the tricks on it already. I think youíve been playing it too long. Come on over here! I just got a new game in -- itís really cool!"

She followed him over, and watched as he guided the dot around the screen. She blinked at the kaleidoscope of colors that resulted. And then the game changed... "What sort of a game is this?"

"Half-action, half-strategy. With just enough luck to keep things hopping for your yen." Andrew flashed a grin at her, "Itís too bad Mamoru isnít around -- I rarely find any sort of game he likes, but I think I could get him to drop a few coins in this one! When he gets back, Iím going to drag him in here."

What? Usagiís mouth opened and closed a few times.

Andrew looked over and saw her face, "Oh thatís right!" He smacked his head, "Sorry, Usagi, forgot to tell you. Mamoruís out of town. He had some long-lost relatives show up out of nowhere, and they took him off to America for a couple of months. The message he left me said that we should expect him when we see him. And he took Raylia with him."

This time, Usagiís mouth fell open and stayed there. She shut it with an effort. "Uh, well, thanks for telling me, but itís not something I really care about."

Andrew winked at her, "Oh, yeah, I forgot. Cats and dogs..." He laughed.

As soon as she could, Usagi escaped from the Arcade and her confusion of thoughts. She headed straight for the florist shop.

"Hi Mrs. Tsuko."

"Oh, good afternoon, Usagi-chan!" Mrs. Tsuko finished arranging some ferns in a vase and climbed down off the ladder. "Iím getting too old for this," she smiled at her young friend.

"Mrs. Tsuko, you will never be too old!"

Mrs. Tsuko smiled at her and shook her head. Usagi thought her eyes looked sad, and Usagi grew nervous. She started perusing the new arrangements.

"Usagi-chan, would you like tea or cocoa?"

"Cocoa, please." Usagi reluctantly turned back. I wish I hadnít come. Why did I come?

"Please, sit down, Usagi-chan." Mrs. Tsuko turned the shop sign to indicate she was out, and took her young charge into the back room. "Iíve been expecting you for some time, now."

"You have?"

Mrs. Tsuko smiled at her over her cup of tea. "Usagi-chan. I told you once about my children. I never told you about my parents." She sipped her tea calmly. "I am a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. When I die next year, my grand-daughter will come here to take over the shop. She is a third daughter of a third daughter, from my seventh lineage. I think you might have known her once, a very long time ago. Please, treat her gently."

Usagi wasnít drinking her cocoa. She wasnít even sure if she was thinking. She knew she was staring.

"There are two futures in front of us." Mrs. Tsuko sipped her tea, "Well, more than that, obviously, but in general terms... There is a future in which the world is destroyed. There is also one in which it is saved. I am believing in the future that is saved. Partially because to be otherwise would be to stop living before my work here is done, but mostly because I have come to know you."

Staring into those calm brown eyes, Usagi gulped her cocoa and burnt her tongue.

Mrs. Tsuko smiled. "I got an e-mail message from Mamoru saying heíll be out for awhile. It was very well done -- exactly as he would have stated it. But I think you had better go have a talk with Raylia. I really donít think she was suppose to have done even that much."

Usagiís cup fell unnoticed to the table. Mrs. Tsuko calmly brought out a napkin and mopped it up. Then she stood up. "Goodbye, my dear. Iíll see you again next week. Oh, and could you please put these in Mamoruís vase for me? I donít think Iím going to leave the shop much for awhile."

Usagi found herself outside the shop door without really knowing how she got there.

 

Slowly, Usagi opened the door to Mamoruís apartment. It didnít look any different. The slightly wilted roses were still in their vase. She glanced down at the ones she carried. Making a decision, she walked in and closed the door behind her. "RayliaÖ" There was no sign of the grey tabby cat. Usagi bit her lip and took the vase of roses to the kitchen, where she changed the flowers. She laid the old ones on the kitchen counter, not willing to throw them out yet.

When she was done, Usagi went searching. The cat wasnít in the living room. Nor the kitchen. Nor the bathroom. That left Mamoruís bedroom. Usagi winced, then went in. The grey tabby cat was laying on the bed. Curled with her tail covering her nose, a single golden eye opened, saw her, then closed again. A low rumble of a purr started up. She sure seems like a cat! Usagi walked over and petted the soft fur. A framed poem on one wall caught her attention and she moved to read it.

 

"The Lake of Time"

A pebble is thrown

into the stillness.

~~~ripples~~~

Another person, another stone.

Different ripples.

~~~~~~~~~~~

A ripple, crosses a ripple

Which way does it turn?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The futures are many.

 

Oh, no. Usagi remembered that incredibly embarrassing time when she first met Endymion. Sheíd been skipping stones on the lake. She was at a fairly remote one, so sheíd thought she was alone. She could skip the stones well with her right hand, and was training her left to skip them as well. She picked up a good stone. Put it in her left hand. Threw it at the lake, and watched it spin off to the side and completely miss the lake.

"Ouch."

"Oh no!" Serenity turned to see a young man, about 17 years old, holding a hand to his head. "Oh, Iím so very sorry!"

"Well, I thought youíd been doing pretty well until that one."

A laugh that sounded more in her mind than her ears directed Serenityís attention down to the three-foot high serval cat that sat at the young manís side. *Actually, I think it depicts the lesson I was teaching very well Ė you can never anticipate the future. But if you watch closely enough, you might be able to avoid or change the consequences. You werenít watching carefully enough.*

"I was watching."

*But not the stone that she held.*

The young man turned a furious red. Serenity watched, fascinated. Suddenly, her gaze locked on the serval. "Raylia!"

If a cat could look pleased, this one did. *Very good, Serenity. Youíre learning to look beyond the form.*

"Serenity? The Queen?" Aghast, the young man started to bow down.

"Oh, no." Serenity put out a hand to stop him, "Thatís my mother."

"Youíre the Princess?" The red color the man had been before changed to a stark white, "Oh, my father is going to kill me. So much for good impressions."

Serenity laughed. The young man looked at her as if heíd never heard such a sound before. She grinned at him, "I think it was more my fault than anything else! I should have been paying closer attention Ė and not thrown rocks at people!" She studied him for a moment. He was somebody Serenity didnít know, and while there were perhaps thousands of people living in their Kingdom, for her to have never even seen him before was odd. "Oh!" Her eyes widened. There was only one set of people who could teleport freely between the Earth and the MoonÖ "Iím sorry, Prince. I didnít recognize you."

Again, the mind laugh whispered through her head, but this time, Serenity knew that only she could hear it. *Nicely ambiguous, Princess, but I might as well fill you in. Prince Endymion Ė third son of Terra.* Serenity flashed a quick smile at the cat, mentally reviewing all that she knew of the Princes of Earth. Then she prepared to greet him properly.

 

The flashback ended, leaving Usagi sitting on the edge of the bed, feeling dazed and shocked. She hadnít just remembering that. Sheíd been living it. She could still see the young Endymion, standing by the lake shore. Usagi closed her eyes. "OhÖ" Even when the memories had flooded her mind in the tower, Endymion, laying in her lap, looking at her with eyes that shone, as her tear glistened on his cheek. It was happening again. Her memories hadnít been as vivid as that flashback, and this last one also. "Whatís happening to me?"

A soft meow directed her attention to the tabby cat sitting in the doorway. The tail swished around the catís feet, then the cat stood up and walked down the hallway.

I donít think there can be a clearer statement without words than that. Usagi stayed sitting on the bed for a moment longer, gathering the tatters of her courage, then she got up and followed the cat to the living room.

 

Usagi sat on the couch next to the grey tabby cat. Usagi was sitting with her back touching the couch, but hunched over so that her shoulders were over her knees. Her hands were clasped in her lap, and her blue eyes stared at them without looking at them. The cat was stretched out next to her, back against the couch and curling along her legs. Her ears almost touched Usagiís knees, and the long front legs dangled off the couch edge. The black striped tail beat rhythmically against the seat. Theyíd been sitting together like that for several minutes now.

Finally, Usagi sat up, and looked down at the cat laying next to her. "You sure look like a cat."

There was no noticeable response from the cat.

Usagi tried again, "Mrs. Tsuko says you werenít suppose to send out messages."

That got a slow blink of the golden eyes.

"Raylia, talk to me!"

No response.

"Raylia, you were doing that Ė with my memories! For pityís sake! I even remembered you! Please, talk to me."

The cat yawned, showing white shiny teeth.

Usagi fell silent again.

The cat got up, turned around in a circle, and climbed into her lap, nudging her hand with her nose. Usagi couldnít help grinning, and started to pet the cat. The tabby laid down, curled in her lap, purring as Usagiís hands kept moving over the soft fur.

"I donít think I can keep this up, Raylia." Usagi spoke softly, her eyes on the blank wall across from her. "My heart is breaking. Has been breaking ever since I first changed to Sailor Moon. But I thought I could do it. I fought. I did. I found new friends. Tuxedo Mask came into my life, and Iíll never see a red rose in the same way again." A tear slipped down her cheek, "Tuxedo Mask nearly died for me. Nobody should die for me." The tears started coming faster. "Raylia, what would have happened if Iíd never become Sailor Moon?"

Suddenly, the blank wall that Usagi was staring at changed to a view of herself, sleeping in her bed at home. The alarm clock was chirping.

The tears stopped, and Usagiís mouth hung open for a second before she shut it.

The scene continued to move on, showing Usagi running downstairs, getting her lunch from her mother, running to school.

"Wait a second, wasnít that the day I met Luna?"

The scenes didnít stop, but there was definitely no black cat in an alley. At school, Usagi wasnít late, and she laughed with Neru in class Ė until the tests were returned.

"It is the same day!"

After school, the girls commiserated about the tests, then headed to the jewelry store. Usagi remembered every part of that happening Ė including when she bounced her test paper off that strange guyís head.

"Oh, Mamoru." Looking at it again, Usagi could see the amusement and, yes, compassion in his eyes as he told her to study harder.

The scenes flowed quickly now, going through the hours in seconds. Usagi went to sleep at night. There was no black moon cat giving her a broach. The next day, Usagi went to school. There was an empty seat where Neru sat.

Usagi gasped, "No!!!!!!!!"

Perhaps mercifully, the scenes had no sound to accompany the sight of Miss Huroku coming into the class, white faced and serious. The Usagi on the screen burst into tears. The scenes started changing faster, the days going by in blurs, slowing when something notable came into them, usually headlines about mysterious illnesses and disappearances.

"I donít need to see any more!"

The scenes didnít stop. Usagi kept running into Mamoru on different occasions. She also made friends with the new girl in the school, Makoto, and the school genius, Ami. The school numbers shrank. A new teacher replaced Miss Huroku. Melvin became a bully and stopped coming to school. People started leaving Tokyo, but headlines reported outbreaks of violence and disease all over the world. Sailor V came to Tokyo and things looked better for a time, but one day she stopped showing up.

"MinakoÖ"

Usagiís little brother Shingo fell into a coma and her mother spent her days caring for him.

"ShingoÖ"

The Fire Temple was destroyed in a huge explosion, from unknown causes.

"ReiÖ"

Makoto was killed defending some younger students from a monster.

"Mako-chan."

A new hero showed up in the city Ė Tuxedo Mask. For several weeks, things seemed peaceful again. Then one day, Tuxedo Mask appeared in front of Ami and Usagi as they were walking back from class. His cape was in tatters, and his mask fell off his face as he fell before them. He raised his hand to Usagi, blue eyes sad, a rose in his hand. Then the petals fell off the rose, his hand dropped, and he changed to Mamoru. He didnít move.

Usagi said nothing as she watched.

A black wave moved over the city, enveloping everything. A light appeared in one point, and Usagi saw the Princess Serenity hold up the Moon Wand Ė there was no sign of the Silver Crystal. The darkness paused, then rushed violently forward. The light disappeared. The scene pulled back to show the Earth, with waves of darkness rolling over it. The wall became a wall again.

Usagi looked down at the tabby cat in her lap. The cat was looking at the wall, tail gently curling and uncurling. Usagi closed her eyes.

"All right. I would not trade Neru-chanís life for my peace of mind. Nor the others. You see the futures, Raylia. All of them. I accept that as a true answer to my question."

A purr sounded in her lap. Usagi opened her eyes.

"So, RayliaÖ What happens now? What are to possible futures from this point?"

The wall stayed a wall for a moment, then a picture of the moon appeared. It drifted backwards until Usagi saw herself looking at it, standing on the edge of the warf.

The night after the StarLight tower.

This time, the scenes werenít continuous, but flickered about, seemly at random.

 

Unfinished.