“My goodness. These are rather on the short side, aren’t they?” Charles asked, alternating between staring down at himself and checking his reflection in the mirror while he tugged at the edge of the shorts in an attempt to give himself a little more coverage. It was a vain attempt. “And aren’t they a bit…snug?”
“You should be thankful it was shorts at all. It could just as easily have been a mini-skirt,” the cat, Moira, replied smugly.
Charles took in his refection once again, staring in disbelief at the outfit that had appeared in place of his clothes. His shorts were a deep blue that matched the trim on short sleeves and collar of what he could only describe as a sailor suit. The flowing sash around his waist also had the same sort of trim, and the fabric matched the red tie hanging around his neck, which in turn coordinated with the ends of the gloves that terminated at his elbow, as well as the boots had appeared on his feet. The brooch sat on his sash where a buckle would sit on a belt, and a tiara completed the ensemble.
“You cannot be serious!” Charles shouted, rounding on the cat. “A tiara?!”
“Mini. Skirt,” the cat reminded him.
“Fine. Tell me what I have to do so I can hurry up and do it and get out of this bloody thing and back to my thesis.”
This was how Charles found himself staring down a creature that had taken the shape of a dear friend’s mother, making a gesture he’d never even conceived before, let alone memorized, and promising to punish someone in the name of the moon.
It was possibly the third most ridiculous thing he had done in his life.
Still, he couldn’t quite bring himself to fight the creature. Surely there was a reason for its actions? It’s presence here? But when he asked, the being just laughed and ordered the brainwashed patrons to attack him. And if Charles couldn’t attack a bizarre creature from what he could only assume was outer space or an alternate dimension, he certainly couldn’t bring himself to attack people who were not acting of their own free will.
Charles was backed against the wall, trying desperately to think of a solution to his problem and moments away from doom at the hand of a rather impressive set of fingernails when the sudden appearance of a violently thrown rose stopped them all in their tracks.
Charles quickly calculated the trajectory and followed it backwards. Framed dramatically in an open window stood a masked man, gloved hand still raised from the end of his throw. He was wearing a black tuxedo with a purple vest and shirt, a long flowing cape with red lining, and a top hat. It should have looked ridiculous. On the tall, attractive, slightly older man it really didn’t.
Rather the opposite, actually. But Charles was going to stop that train of thought before it got out of the station, because his ridiculous shorts left nothing to the imagination.
“Who are you?” the monster snapped furiously.
“I am Tuxedo Mask,” he answered, completely collected, and dear lord, was that a hint of an accent Charles detected in his voice? “Sailor Moon, now is no time for cowardice.”
At that, Charles felt his hackles raise. “It’s not cowardice. There are civilians everywhere! And I’m rather new at this whole thing, so pardon me for being out of sorts!”
Tuxedo Mask leapt down from his windowsill perch with ease and grace. As soon as he had his feet underneath him, he drew a cane out from under his cape and ran at the monster.
“If you ever change your mind about attacking,” Moira offered, “just take off your headpiece and shout ‘Moon Tiara Magic’.”
Charles stared down at the cat. “Are you serious.” It wasn’t even a question.
Moira glared at him in response.
Charles rolled his eyes, and in doing so caught sight of his rescuer battling the monster, and while the man was clearly handling it just fine on his own, Charles figured that the least he could do was offer his assistance. Using his newly gained ability to jump ridiculous distances, he cleared the mass of hypnotized people and landed gracefully beside Tuxedo Mask.
“Can I lend a hand?”
“Be my guest,” the masked man said with a small smirk.
Charles, unable to believe he was actually about to do what he was about to do, took the tiara off his head. It glowed in the palm of his hand, flattening and floating, and he brought his arm back.
“Moon Tiara Magic!” he shouted, flinging the glowing projectile at the monster.
His aim was true. With a threat and a scream of rage, the monster exploded into dust.
“Well…” Charles said, staring at the scene before him, absentminded taking the tiara that had floated back to him and replacing it on his head. “That…did I really do that?”
“Yes, you did. I must say, it’s much cleaner than when I do it. And faster too,” Tuxedo Mask offered. “Well done, Sailor Moon,” he called as he leapt back up to the window.
“Wait!” Charles called, and Tuxedo Mask did, pausing in the frame. “Why…why did you help me?”
His lips twisted into a bitter smile. “Consider it a thank you.”
“What for?” Charles asked. “If anyone should be thanking anyone, I should be thanking you.”
“For something you don’t remember,” he said, his expression too subtle for Charles to make out at this distance, “and something I’m trying to. Until we meet again,” Tuxedo Mask tipped his hat.
Then he was gone.
‘Oh dear,’ Charles thought, staring at the now empty window, ‘I might be in trouble’.