"You really are insistent on keeping this from them for now aren't you?" Luna asked from her spot on the bed. It was a couple of days after the whole concert incident and she was finally meeting Uranus and Neptune at her apartment for the first time at Naru's house. Of course, that meant she was trying to stuff any evidence of her legs into the closet or any other spare spot in the room where they wouldn't be seen. Thankfully there wasn't too much since she was at Naru's and not her place. But she was being extra careful. She had dressed carefully to try and conceal the prosthetics but she still wasn't sure it would be enough.
Originally it had seemed like the older girls had almost wanted to meet somewhere more neutral the first time. Which she kind of understood to an extent, they were practically strangers at this point. Luna, however, had shot that down very quickly pointing out that in public too many would be able to possibly overhear their conversation. So being in public meant they would have to considerably cull the conversation. So that's how really the three of them had found themselves meeting at Naru's place versus the first suggestion of a park.
"Of course." Usagi said as if it were a no-brainer while putting away the last thing. Briefly pausing to do a mental catalog in case she missed something. Turning back to Luna as she realized she still didn't understand the situation Usagi decided to elaborate. "It's not that I don't trust them as team mates. I do for the most part. So far anyway. It's just after everything that's happened I have trust issues with my more personal aspects."
"That's kind of contradictory Usagi." Luna pointed out.
Shrugging Usagi responded. "Just give it time. I am sure they will prove to deserve the trust in my heart. Just let me learn to trust them with more than a feeling from a past life. If it is anything I have learned, it is that people don't handle my legs well. I don't want them to think less of me because I am not whole."
"They might not be pleased with your decision in the long run you do realize that?" Luna stated more than asked with an accepting sigh.
Usagi twiddled her thumbs slightly before nodding. "And that scares me but showing them my legs is bigger. If we really are supposed to be able to work together as well as you've been saying then it should all end up being fine though right?" The last part was asked like a hopeful plea and a nervous attempt at a smile.
"It will be fine Usagi." Luna insisted giving her nervous charge's hand a slight headbutt in encouragement. Luna did seem to at least try to understand and for that Usagi was grateful though she doubted this would be the last time this would come up. The girls were scheduled to arrive any minute and to say she was nervous was an understatement. Naru was keeping a look out in case she didn't get the equipment she had at Naru's put away in time. She was the delay to make sure they didn't see. Both Usagi and Naru had taken steps to cover up Usagi's lack of legs but she was worried they would somehow figure it out with the obvious clues missing.
"You ready Usagi? They are coming." Naru said from the window. Usagi just nodded her head determined.
A knock sounded after a moment.
"Coming!" Naru called out before going to get the door while Usagi picked herself up from the bed with a grim determination. "Well. Here goes nothing."
"It will be fine. You'll see. Just take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself." Was Luna's encouragement.
"I hope your right." was all she said.
"So I remember you from the concert but not from much else." Haruka commented frowning slightly at Naru as they got settled.
"Just a normal girl." Naru explained indicating herself at Haruka's look.
"I am a horrible liar and the two of us have known each other since we were little. She figured it out the first time I became Sailor Moon to save her and her mom from some youma. It worked out for the best to be honest. The apartment I live in with my parents doesn't allow pets. Naru keeps Luna and I come over for study/Senshi talking sessions." Usagi summarized with a shrug. Sure it wasn't the most convenient but it did work.
"So wait how did you become Sailor Moon to begin with? You mentioned Luna here followed you home back at the concert but didn't exactly elaborate." Haruka.
"It began when Luna followed me home after school." Usagi started, "Luna initially found me when I tripped over her on the way to class one morning last month when I was running late and I guess I somehow grabbed her attention because that evening she came home with me."
"Wait so you literally brought your own guardian home." Haruka asked raising an eyebrow.
Usagi shook her head in the negative. "She actually followed me home and I didn't notice it until I was all the way back here. We really can't keep a pet right now. At the time I was rather stubborn about it so I asked Mom if she could stay the night. If I hadn't begged Mom to let her spend the night we might not be here having this conversation right now. The rest is history so to speak. What about the two of you? Michiru I remember you saying you woke up in September when we first met. How did that happen since you didn't exactly have Luna around?" She was curious how their story went.
"There really isn't that much of a story. What happened essentially was I ran into a youma and that triggered my bracelet appearing for some reason. From there I transformed and took care of it." Michiru said holding up the wrist with the bracelet in question.
"I used to run track before I became Sailor Uranus. Back when I was on the team an old friendly rival of mine introduced the two of us. We didn't get along at first, personality clash. By the time I awoke as Uranus we were still having issues but they were starting to smooth out, sort of similar story though youma appearance and triggered the bracelet materialization." Haruka explained.
"Wait I thought you both went to Mugen Gaken?" Naru piped in. If they had met via a mutual friend from a rival school then that made it sound like they went elsewhere.
"We didn't always go to Mugen Gaken. We both transferred there shortly after the start of winter break." Michru explained.
Both Usagi and Naru nodded in understanding. That certainly explained it. Michiru added. "We transfered under one of Mugen's specialty programs. It's actually been a positive experience so far." Seeming to realize something. "You seem interested. Usagi?"
"Yeah I was at one point, I'm waitlisted at the moment for one of their programs but the story I got from them made it sound like its highly unlikely that my name will ever see the light of day. I've settled into the local Middle School." Usagi confessed being careful to not actually mention which program she was intersted in.
"I wonder if I could pull some strings and see if we could get you off the wait list. Wouldn't hurt to have all of us at the same place." Michiru seemed to be thinking out loud at the moment.
"I don't want to be any trouble. I'm alright waiting." Usagi said waving her hands slightly. Most likely if either of them started digging into this they would find out about just why she was applying for Mugen Gaken. A conversation that she definitely not ready for yet. Even if actually meeting them outside of Senshi duties was making her more comfortable she wasn't at that point yet.
"Michiru's family is pretty high society. It probably wouldn't be too difficult to get you moved off the waitlist actually." Haruka said glancing at the other girl.
"It's fine." Usagi tried to assure them maybe when she was feeling more comfortable with them she might consider it. Right now though everything was far too fresh and besides her switching this late in the school year wouldn't have much impact.
“So that’s the contest everyone’s been talking about at school.” Usagi said late one afternoon a few days later. She was taking a short break from studying to eat and the tv was on in the background playing an ad for a contest that it seemed was sweeping the entire school. She was getting together every few days to get to know the other girls better but today wasn’t one of the get together days so she was left to study on her own.
“Contest?” Luna asked coming up from behind her. Naru was acting weird and essentially kicked the cat out of the house for the day and Luna had managed to somehow sneak into the apartment. She still wasn’t really sure how the cat had pulled that one off.
“Yeah some popular idol lady is hosting some big thing looking for the next ‘Cinderella star’. It’s open to anyone and everyone so of course apparently everyone is taking a shot trying to win it.” she said with a shrug turning back to her school work.
“I wonder if its another Dark Kingdom plot.” Luna commented frowning as the tv ad finished.
"Maybe. Luna what haven't they done to gather energy?” Usagi asked frowning at her school book.
“Oh,” Luna paused for a moment, “Well they haven’t been awake very long truth be told so the list of plots they have used isn’t very long. Venus seemed to keep running into idol related plots when she was first starting out though so it's something they have done before.”
“So this might be them then. Can't catch a break can we?” Usagi frowned slightly thinking again about her classmates. Arguably with the amount of weird stuff happening right now you could almost argue that anything weird was almost normal at this point.
“Have you noticed something peculiar at your school?” Luna asked.
“Yeah actually it seems everyone at school is behaving a bit nuts over this idol contest. Not sure if that is Dark Kindgom or idol contests in general though. People go crazy for idol contests.” Usagi confessed.
“What do you mean?” Luna asked frowning slightly.
“Well let’s see Umino apparently was trying to perfect his magic trick rather then study, which for him is unheard of. Naru got into an argument with one of the other girls in our class over who had the better idea. Naru! Of all people.” She said thumping down on her bed. Naru was pretty mild mannered for the most part. So for her to get worked up over something, especially a contest wasn’t that common.
“What about the others?” Luna prodded.
“Luna we’ve been over this before. The only person in my class I’m remotely close too is Naru and you saw yourself how she was behaving today. I know Umino kind of but I’m not sure if I would call him a friend or an acquaintance. Everyone else could do a 180 personality wise I wouldn’t be the wiser just because I don’t really know them.” Usagi pointed out.
“Okay ignoring the fact you don’t know your classmates behavior were they showing any obsession over the contest?” Luna asked.
“Yeah but the whole school was except for maybe a scattered few and most of the teachers.” Usagi confessed.
“I thought you said your teacher was obsessing over it too though.” Luna frowned.
“Our teacher is a bit unique. Her wanting to do the contest isn’t that big of a surprise honestly.” She said after a moment. It wasn’t a huge surprise that the woman had taken an interest in the contest. The lady had to be somewhere in her 30s and yet seemed to be constantly wanting to be returning to being a teenager.
“Maybe we should check it out.” Luna suggested. “Do you know when the final selection rounds are?”
“Naru mentioned that they are supposed to be sometime this weekend but I missed the actual day. I’ll ask her tomorrow.” She assured the cat.
“Good I’ll look into seeing if I can pinpoint anything that can define it definitely or not as a Dark Kingdom plot.” Luna said leaving the room headed for who knows where.
“Usagi? I didn’t know you were participating in the contest.” Came the surprised voice of Michiru. She had come to the concert hall, in the end, more to support Naru than to check for yet another Dark Kingdom plot. But she hadn’t expected to run into her two new teammates considering she realized now that the two of them had forgot to tell them about this.
“Oh hi Michiru, didn’t know you were here. I’m not in the contest. I am here to cheer Naru on. What are you doing here?” Usagi asked shifting the focus away from the fact that she was here at all.
“Haruka and I are additional judges.” Michiru’s face remained neutral but something about her tone said she wasn’t happy about having to be here.
“Huh. Didn’t think that would be something you two would want to do.” Usagi said a bit surprised. She hadn’t known either girl very long but at least with Michiru, she thought she had more refined tastes and a pop idol contest would be the last thing she would want to do. At least it seemed that way based on that one concert.
“Not our choice really. Our agent insisted on it, saying it would get us more bookings.” Michiru explained.
“Ah.” That explained the situation better. Well maybe. She wasn’t sure how idol things equated into more classical stuff but she wasn’t an idol agent or whatever it was that those two had hired.
“So your friend Naru is participating in the show?” Michiru asked shifting topics.
“Yeah, you met her that night. Naru decided she wanted to do this contest so I came along to watch. Plus Luna thinks this might be another Dark Kingdom cover since some of the competitors have been acting a bit odd. You pick up on anything while you were helping with the judging?” she added.
“No, but we weren’t involved in the judging of the preliminary rounds either.” Michiru admitted seeming to be thinking about something after a slight pause she frowned asking. “If you two had thought you had found a plot why didn’t you contact us?”
Usagi cringed admitting. “Sorry. With everything going on I forgot."
Michiru gave a handwave. “It happens. Just try not to make a habit of it.”
“Not planning too.” she said.
“So Luna thinks this might be a Dark Kingdom plot?” Michiru asked, “Have to admit that would be a first for us. Though the way they are drawing in so many people does fit the model of a Dark Kingdom plot.”
She shrugged, “Yeah this is my first experience with this kind of a plot. But Luna says she's seen it somewhere before. It seems like we've seen them use more than one tactic to target people. So I guess it could be more than some sort of potential idol contest. Have you noticed anything unusual with the people your working with?”
Michiru shook her head no. "But then we don't know them well so I am not sure we would notice. I’ll see if Haruka has picked up anything. We’ll contact you if we see anything suspicious.” was Michiru’s response.
“Thanks. I should probably get going to the hall if I want to get a seat before Naru performs.” she said.
“Be careful. If this is a youma plot they won’t have much longer to put their actual plan into action probably.” Michiru noted.
“I will. See you after the show?” she asked getting an affirmative she headed towards the auditorium they were supposed to be showing in.
“Sooo, Haruka and Michiru are here. Good thing too since apparently, neither of us remembered to tell them about what we were planning to do today.” Usagi said speaking low enough that Luna should still hear her but that she wouldn’t draw suspicion from any audience members. After she had slipped away from Michiru she had headed back to the audience figuring that would be the easiest place to find Luna again. Thankfully she was right on target finding the cat hanging out towards the back of the auditorium.
“You should have called them the minute I told you this might be a Dark Kingdom plot.” Luna hissed.
“Remembering to tell my new teammates about the possible Dark Kingdom plot was the last thing on my mind.” Usagi nearly snapped. Her bigger concern had been whether or not Naru was at the center of yet another youma plot. That caused Luna to cringe slightly. Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh. Taking a deep calming breath she spoke again, “Why didn't you call them or remind me to call them anyway?"
“I’ll admit some responsibility in this situation but in the future, both of us have to be more on top of these kinds of situations.” Sighed Luna.
“We have got to figure out a better way to keep up with this stuff between us.” Usagi commented more to herself than to Luna. It wasn’t that the cell phones weren’t great, they were. It was just she sometimes forgot to use them apparently.
“I’m working on it but I don’t have anything concrete yet.” Luna confessed.
“Well, that’s a start at least.” Usagi said with a shrug of her shoulders, patience was finally being rewarded as the youma was finally revealing itself. “So what are we going to do about ugly and blue over there?”
“I'll find the others. Transform.” Luna said slinking off in search of Haruka and Michiru.
“Right, find a discreet place to transform. I swear that is getting more and more difficult every time we run into a new youma.” Usagi grumbled out her complaint under her breath.
She should have waited for the others really she should have but when the youma made her move she couldn’t hold back anymore. Naru was one of her few remaining friends she just couldn’t stand around and let her become any more of a victim of the Dark Kingdom.
That would almost to be Sailor Moon's downfall. Apparently, this youma was capable of spewing a hard glass-like substance that it attempted to encase her in. Her vision was going dark if someone didn’t come soon she was going to apparently die here. Thankfully help finally did arrive and the glass like substance was broken just in time allowing her body to fall like a limp doll.
“Sailor Moon are you all right?” Sailor Moon heard a familiar voice. She was slightly relieved to hear the two older girls finally arrive straightening up some. That Tuxedo Mask character she remembered from the fortune teller’s was busy distracting the youma for them so she was able to gather herself before speaking.
“I’m fine, a bit shaken, but fine.” Sailor Moon admitted giving them a slight smile as she picked herself up back to standing.
“Apologies we were being held up in another audition room.” Sailor Neptune said coming up on her other side.
“Who is the Tuxedo guy?” Sailor Uranus asked eyeing Tuxedo Mask with some suspicion.
“He’s on our side, he’s helped me before get out of a couple of tight spots.” Trying to get the older girl to stand down.
“Not sure how much throwing roses helps.” Sailor Uranus muttered.
“Distraction, he's been providing a distraction. Plus I love your guys' help but I’m not sure how well you could have got me out of that glass case the youma tried to seal me in.” Sailor Moon pointed out. He had freed her and saved her life, again, after all.
“Touche.” Sailor Uranus conceded.
“Any idea's?” Usagi asked turning her attention back to the youma who seemed to be debating at the moment on whether or not to go after them or Tuxedo Mask who was now somewhere up in the rafters. Well, that at least took him out of range their attacks if they made a move.
Sailor's Uranus and Neptune exchanged glances before Sailor Neptune spoke up, “We might have an idea. I am going to hit it from my right you aim your tiara for the left while Uranus aims an attack up the center. Worst case scenario one of them should hit it and do the job or we might have to launch another attack best case it can’t decide which direction to dodge and gets hit by all three.”
"Right.” Sailor Moon said removing her tiara.
“Now! Spiral Buster!” Sailor Uranus said her attack.
“Splash Edge!” Sailor Neptune said surprising her by shooting up another attack up the
“Moon Tiara Action!” Sailor Moon said releasing the tiara in the opposite action. She let out a sigh of relief when the tiara hit and disintegrated the youma. One last trouble to deal with.
“We should probably get going. People will wake.” Sailor Neptune said speaking up. They left the stage area and found a private area and dehenshined.
After a moment Haruka turned on Usagi. "What were you thinking?!" Michiru set her hand on Haruka's shoulder. A calming presence. "I couldn't wait anymore. Naru wouldn't have made it if I had. I don't have many people left." She didn't elaborate but the wind senshi seemed to let out a resigned sigh.
Haruka said after a slight pause, “I just wish you had waited for us to engage the youma.”
“Sorry.” Usagi apologized shifting slightly not making eye contact with either girl. In retrospect, it was a stupid move to pull but she'd do it again if it meant keeping Naru safe.
Haruka said after a moment of silence running her hands through her hair. “Just be more careful in the future.”
“Today was a mess.” Michiru said breaking the silence that had fallen over the group.
“It's been a mess ever since I became Sailor Moon. Maybe before that.” Usagi admitted. Finals were right around the corner so things would get calmer on a school front soon at least. But for now, the craziness level was going to be through the roof.
Haruka frowned slightly at that, “Everything okay?”
“It’s just school.” Usagi evasively attempted to reassure. This week's whole thing with the idol contest hadn't exactly helped with the already stressful situation. Combine that with fast approaching finals and her stress levels seemed to be at an all-time high.
Haruka and Michiru exchanged glances frowning before Michiru asked, “Are you sure that you don’t want an assist getting into Mugen Gaken?”
“I appreciate the offer on some level but I think I’m okay staying at Juuban for now.” Usagi confessed shifting slightly. The offer was tempting and probably would become even more so as the end of the semester came steaming in. She would need to make her decision sooner or later on how much her fear that caused her to hide her issues was worth losing school time. Maybe…maybe telling them during the school break wouldn’t be a bad idea if it meant she could get out of Juuban.
End Chapter 5