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Prologue

A Dragonball Z / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon crossover story
by Brian Randall

Disclaimer: Dragonball Z is the property of Akira Toriyama. Sailor Moon is the property of Naoko Takeuchi.

Notes: No, it's not a joke, yes, it is an alt. Proceed, Friend Citizen. Friend Computer thanks you for your time.


All things in due course.

Which is, of course, how all things should work.

Too bad most of the time, they don't.


Hammer-blows, ki blasts, smoking craters…

They were used to battle in all its forms. That was what they did.

While the average man went about his desk job, filing paperwork, drinking beer after hours with the rest of the boys from the office, and then, after all that, going home and sleeping soundly, knowing that the world will still be there when they woke up… They frequently died to protect those people, and defend their rights to file, drink, and sleep.

And most of the time, it was a beautifully crafted system.

After all, when something went wrong, it could all be wished back together.

Mostly.


"And here."

"What of it?"

"I thought it would be obvious. Think, will you? With the crystal broken…"

"That line is doomed. It happens."

"Why not merge it?"

"Merging can only be done when there's a similarity between the two lines."

"Like this one?"

"Those two are almost nothing alike."

"Look again. Shattered crystals and broken magics. One there, seven here. They both lead to the same outcome."

"Of course: failure. You think they are close enough to combine?"

"Partially, perhaps. Something would be lost… would have to be lost, really."

"We will have to examine it more closely."


In a small, dark alley in Juuban, a creature not quite of Earth recovered its senses. Small, black, compact, and carrying the key to a power far, far, far greater than herself…

"Oh no," she whispered.

Memories came back in a sickening surge, reminding her of how much was lost, how little chance she had. "Oh no… The Silver Crystal is shattered… Even if I find them, it's a doomed cause…"


He gasped for breath, choking up blood. "I don't…" he groaned, collapsing to the ground weakly, while his opponent towered above him, ki-aura flaring brightly enough to blind any less well trained. "I don't know what you're talking about," he managed. "The Dragonballs were all broken when we found them the first time…"

"Just as well," a dry voice informed him. "Your father and friends lie dead, and you lie broken before me. There is no power that can stand in my way. Without the Dragonballs, I have no need to bother with you anymore."

And with that, he vanished, leaving the boy alone, broken and bloody. "But," he gasped, wishing his father had trained him further, "why… Why?"

If only the Dragonballs hadn't been destroyed, then… then they could wish everyone back, but…


"Very well. That is the extent. Shunt from here, to there…"

"Will that cause an error in causality?"

"Only if you make a mistake."

"Very well."

"And that will be the limit of our involvement."

"Understood."


He woke up.

The processes involved were painful, first the searing pain of cracked ribs, followed shortly by the splitting pain caused by light on his migraine-sensitive eyes. He groaned, which sent off a secondary bout of pain echoing through him. And then there was the strained joints, the hyper-extended knee specifically, and the bone-deep bruising, and the scrapes and cuts…

It hurt worse than the time that he and his father had gone drinking — ChiChi was away, and, as she said later, 'When mother's away, boys will play.' Though she had to calm down a lot before she got to that point, because she was afraid that it would affect his schooling.

He couldn't help but resent that, just a little. If he had spent more time learning how to fight, and less time learning about medicine and advanced math… Then maybe, just maybe, he and his father could have stood against the madness that had come.

If some event had come that allowed he and his father's friends to become strong enough… but his own training was weak, allowing him no more than the weakest of ki-blasts and half of the hearty constitution that his father boasted.

A hand interrupted his ruminations, forcing him — gently — back to whatever he was lying on. "Where…" he croaked, trailing off.

His head was raised slightly by the hand, and a plastic cup was held to his lips. He sipped cautiously, then greedily, though whoever his benefactor was took care that he drink slowly. Just as well, he remembered. When you were very thirsty, drinking too quickly could make you ill.

When the cup was taken away, he opened his eyes, slowly. The light seemed less intense, and he blinked up at a somber blue-haired girl. She watched him worriedly, hovering like a mother chick protecting its clutch. He managed to restrain his laughter. He saw many of the women at his college look at him the same way — few of them would believe that he was a student there himself, since he had gotten in so young. Thanks, of course, to his mother's pressure on him to study, and his father's vaunted reputation…

"Who are you?" he asked in careful English, taking in her features. She was dressed like a student, but none he recognized. And he and his father had journeyed to Australia to confront the invader. He had thought that most schoolgirls in the area hadn't worn uniforms, but…

She blinked at him, and spoke very slowly, with a noticeable, but controlled accent, "Hello, Sir. My name is Mizuno Ami. Who are you?"

He grunted, allowing his eyes to drift shut. "My name is Son Gohan. I'm sorry… I'm in a hurry. Can you contact Capsule Corporation? My aunt owns a stake in that… I need to get in touch with her."

Eyes opening at the silence that greeted his question, the girl mouthed, "Ko-n-ta-ku-tu…"

He cursed his own idiocy, switching smoothly to the cultured Japanese his mother instilled into him at a young age, "Sorry, Ami-san. I didn't know you spoke Japanese. I need you to contact my aunt, she owns a stake in the Capsule Corporation." At the girl's surprise, he added, "Her name is Burifu Buruma."


Thanking the operator politely, Ami carefully set the phone's receiver down on its cradle, and frowned thoughtfully, eyes flicking towards the notepad.

At the top, in her neat handwriting, were the names that Gohan had given her. Burifu, however, was a name that none of the phone operators were familiar with, nor was 'Capsule Corporation', or any other names Gohan had given her. There were a few possible explanations for it.

It was possible that there was an error in communication — the boy had switched so effortlessly between English and Japanese, he might have been a native of either, though his appearance was difficult to gauge. It was also possible that he was delirious, due to a blow to the head, or such. Given how he had arrived, that was not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

But that same method of arrival also gave way to an entirely different possibility. He had arrived from a rift in space, not entirely unlike the General had, save that the rift behind him was intensely dazzling white, the light of which had seared the youma into nothingness.

He hadn't come through that rift yelling or screaming; he had been unconscious from moment he emerged from the portal, which shut behind him without trace. He hadn't woken from the fall, leaving Ami and her companions to wonder what to do with him. Usagi was exhausted from the brief battle with the youma, and the three needed to run after that.

The light had not gone unnoticed, and they would need to move, but abandoning the boy didn't figure into their equations — whoever he was, he couldn't be left as he was. Rei had helped Ami hide him in a nearby alley, and then the two had escorted Usagi home before the police arrived.

Still not done, Rei and Ami managed to carry the incredibly heavy boy away from the scene before he was discovered, and agreed on Ami's house as an ideal location to leave him — it was much closer to the scene than the temple, or Usagi's house. Added to the fact that it was closer, it had the advantage that Ami's mother was a doctor, should he need one.

Ami's mother was as of yet unaware of the boy's presence, stowed as he was in the guest bedroom. Ami hoped that her mother would understand, but the boy had slept for a solid day before waking, and telling the woman about a boy she was keeping in the house would be a… difficult situation to manage, at best.

She chastised herself for allowing her mind to wander so. The truth of the matter was that the only remaining explanation for the boy's knowledge of places that didn't exist was that… he wasn't from their world. But how could she tell him something like that?


Gohan moved to sit up when Ami returned, but she shook her head at him, motioning that he should lie down. "Son-san… are you hungry at all? You've not eaten in at least a day," she said softly.

"Yes," he responded, closing his eyes and feeling out the full extent of his injuries again. The hyper-extended knee would probably be the worst of it, outside of any internal bleeding. There wasn't much he could do about that, other than hope there wasn't any, though. The knee, he knew, would heal, even if it probably shouldn't. His father's legacy, he supposed. "I have some money," he added, struggling to reach his wallet.

It was awkward, but the girl helped him sit, so he could retrieve it without too much strain, and he flipped it open. Most of it was in Australian currency, because his father had suggested they get a souvenir for his mother… though that was all moot, now. He grunted, pulling the Australian bills aside, and produced a stack of ten bills — thousand-yen bills. 'Petty cash', Buruma called it before giving it to him. His mother insisted that she was too free with money, but it had come in handy more often than not, considering the relative appetites of his father, and their friends.

"You can use this," he said, handing it towards the girl. "Did you reach my aunt?"

She stared at the money in surprise before accepting it hesitantly, and explaining, "I… Son-san, this may be strange, but I couldn't find any of them in the directory. I'm sorry, but… maybe it was a fluke. I can try again."

Gohan frowned, wincing at a residual wave of pain through him, and said, "I… I have her number, hold on." Flipping past his student identification, the driver's license his mother had made him train to get from the day he turned sixteen, and his insurance card, he retrieved a slip of paper. The first number was clearly labeled 'Buruma', and the one below that was… "I need to call her, and… I need to call Kuririn. His… his wife needs to know… I need to call my mother…"

Groaning, he dropped both the wallet and list of phone numbers. "Son-san?" the girl asked softly. "What's wrong?"

"Do you know what was happening in Australia?" he asked her, raising his head. "The invaders? They landed in the desert and demanded to meet with Earth's strongest?"

Ami shook her head slowly. "No, Son-san… I've never heard of that."

"What? But… it was all over the news. The invader, he called himself Koruman, and said that he would challenge Earth's strongest for the Dragonballs."

At Ami's blank look, he managed a shrug, explaining, "The Dragonballs are an old… magical collection of crystal balls. They were supposed to grant wishes, but they were broken a long time ago by a scientist named Gero. Gero-sensei died in the blast, and the broken Dragonballs were scattered around the world, but they were useless, since they couldn't grant wishes anymore.

"Koruman wanted them, since they could make him the strongest force in the universe, and they were the biggest threat to him. Since they were broken, he just… just…" Gohan broke off, heaving a shuddering sigh. Voice thick, he continued, "Since they were broken, he just killed all of our strongest fighters. My father, Goku. Kuririn. Yamucha. And… and when he was done, he left me to die, because he knew I wasn't strong enough to challenge him."

Ami's eyes grew large at the story, and she clasped her hands over her mouth, unbelieving.

"I don't understand," Gohan said, shaking his head. "I was in Australia, left to die… how did you find me, and why do you speak Japanese?"

"Son-san," Ami managed, lowering her hands to her sides, and unable to meet his gaze. "I… I… I will get something for you to eat. What would you like?"

"Anything is fine," he mumbled, slumping back into the bed, shaking his head. "I… I need to call my mother."

"I…" Ami bit her lip, trailing off. "I will bring a telephone for you once you've eaten, Son-san."


Ami bowed politely to the boy, who sighed at her evasion, and scurried quickly from the room. She had no idea how to tell him what had happened, or at least, what she _thought_ had happened.

She hesitated at the front door, considering. She was not the grandest of cooks, and wasn't happy about accepting money from him, but she had taken it, and then she found herself too stunned at his words to give it back. Hanging her head, she pushed through, blinking at the late afternoon sun. Her mother wouldn't be home for some hours, in all likelihood, and there was no reason to make only a sandwich for Gohan.

Considering his injuries, one of which was a rough scrape along his jaw, he'd probably want something that didn't require a lot of chewing. At least, that was what she hoped. Glancing around furtively to ensure that she wasn't being watched, she withdrew the small pocket communicator used to contact the other Senshi, and activated it.

Rei answered instantly, and Usagi a moment later. "Ami-chan?" Rei asked worriedly. "Is it a youma attack?"

Ami shook her head quickly, glancing around the deserted street. "No, no," she assured the raven-haired girl. "It's about Son-san. I think we need to talk." She looked up to see a small take out restaurant, and read the name to Rei as Usagi joined the line, "Can you please meet me at… Ah, 'Ariyake's Udon', so we can talk about this?"

"Oooh!" Usagi cooed, delighted. "Udon! I'll be right there, Ami-chan!"

Rei sighed, audible across the little communicator's link. "His name is 'Son'? I'll need a moment to get free," she said, "but I can be there soon."

Ami smiled gratefully before shutting the device off, and entering the restaurant. Nodding politely to the chef behind the counter, who offered her a friendly smile and bow before turning his attention to a phone call, she took a seat by the door and waited for Usagi and Rei.

Until they arrived, she had a moment to think about things. Firstly, she'd probably need an excuse to explain why she had taken so long to return home. Secondly, Gohan likely had no other place to go, which meant he'd need a place to stay.

And that meant, in all likelihood, a confrontation of some sort with her mother, who would be arriving home later that evening. Ami pursed her lips thoughtfully, studying the money that he had given her. It looked identical to the currency of her own world. She studied it closely, then shook her head. It was also far more than she needed to buy a reasonable amount of food.

Perhaps she could buy a little more than was reasonable, and claim she didn't know how much he would want? That would work, and would give a good excuse to bring the other girls back with her, since she could claim that she needed their help. The dishonesty did not appeal to her, nor did leaving Gohan in the dark about her thoughts on his origins, but it would probably all be for the best, one way or another.

Rei entered at that point, Usagi in tow, causing Ami to leap to her feet and wonder how long she had simply sat in the worn chair by the door. "Ah!" she exclaimed. "I'm sorry, I lost track of the time!"

"Don't worry about it," Rei grumped, rolling her eyes. "Odango-atama here got distracted by some manga. What's wrong?"

"Mmm… I'll explain it on the way back," Ami said, turning to the man behind the counter, as he concluded his phone call.

"Sorry about that," he said, bowing to further indicate his apology. "What would you girls like?"

Ami glanced back at Usagi and Rei, who regarded her curiously, then turned her attention back to the proprietor. "Ah… may we have eight bowls of udon to go, please?"

The man nodded quickly. "It'll take me just a moment," he said, glancing into the back of the shop. "Eight bowls, let's see, that would be… about seven thousand yen. Will that be okay?"

Glancing at the ten thousand yen that Gohan had already given her, Ami sighed. "Yes, thank you." She pocketed the bills, drawing her own purse from a pocket, and counted out the change. Her mother was fairly free with money, though she seldom found herself needing to use very much of it. Gohan, however, would have to have his money given back to him; considering what she had done to conceal her suspicions from him, she couldn't allow him to spend money like that, especially when she was trying to take care of him.

The man disappeared into the back of the restaurant, calling out, "It'll be just a minute."

Usagi brightened immediately, exclaiming, "Thanks, Ami-chan! You're the greatest!"

Ami hid a small frown. "Usagi-chan, this is for Son-san, too," she pointed out.

Usagi put her finger to her lower lip thoughtfully. "Is that his name?" she asked. "What did you find out?" Rei nodded, folding her arms over her chest. She'd want to know too, of course.

Checking once more to make sure that the proprietor wasn't within earshot, she hesitantly explained, "I think that… ah, Son-san -his name is Son Gohan — is from… another world."

Rei's arms unfolded, nearly of their own accord, and she asked worriedly, "He's not a youma, is he?"

Ami shook her head quickly. "I don’t think so. He had many cards with his name and picture on them, though I couldn't read them. I think he has a driver's license of some kind, though I couldn't see what it was before he moved to hand me a list of phone numbers. I don't know what to make of the phone numbers, but he gave me a list of names for people and companies to look up… only I could not find any of them here. He also has some money that he says is from Australia, and… I think that he believes he's still there." The girl bit her lip pensively, managing a smile as the man behind the counter brought up a trio of large boxes.

Paying him from her own pocket, Ami bowed gratefully, and grabbed the boxes. Rei took two of them from her before she could say anything, and then they made their way out of the small shop in silence. "So why do you think he's from another world?" Usagi asked once they reached the street. "Sometimes I forget things like that all the time!"

"He seems quite intelligent," Ami objected. "He speaks flawless English and Japanese, but he was… he was talking about invaders from another world. He spoke of a few things that I've never heard of. I think perhaps… he fell from his own world to ours, as strange as that might sound." She sighed, falling silent again.

"That's pretty strange," Rei managed after a moment, frowning. "What do you think we should do?"

"We should help him out!" Usagi exclaimed. She smiled, nodding excitedly at the pair until she very nearly walking into a light post. Giggling at the near miss, she continued, "When he showed up like he did, he made the youma disappear! Since he helped us, we should help him, too."

Ami sighed, pausing for a moment at the marble floor of her apartment's lobby. "I haven't told him what I think," she warned. "I… I'm not sure how to yet. We should let him at least eat something before we try and tell him, I think. He might not want to later, and since he was so badly wounded, he probably should."


Voices greeted Ami as she opened the door, making her pale and nearly drop the take-out boxes with their bowls of udon. She had wanted to explain things to her mother on her own terms — this could be very bad. Very bad indeed.

"… minor contusions along my right arm, a few lacerations along my ribcage, right knee is hyper-extended, and the ligaments on both legs and wrists are probably strained, though the left wrist will be the worst of that."

Ami swallowed, carefully setting her take-out box on the table and silently motioning for Usagi and Rei to wait, while she tried to explain things to her mother.

"Mm… I see. Some minor lesions along your ribcage, too. Well, I'm certainly going to need to have a talk with Ami-chan about this… Do you mind if I check your pulse?"

"My blood pressure will be one twenty five over eighty three, at… forty six beats per minute."

Ami entered the doorway of the guest bedroom in time to see her mother raise her eyebrows at Gohan's estimates. "Is that so?" the woman asked him. "Are you an athlete?"

"Hello, Ami-san," he said, sitting up as he was, nervously glancing at Ami's mother. "I'm actually… yes, that's a part of it. My mother wants me to be a doctor — she wanted me to be a podiatrist, but I chose to try getting a career in general practice, instead. I've only finished two semesters, so far, Mizuno-san."

"Interesting," Ami's mother remarked, shooting her daughter a look that spoke volumes of annoyance, disappointment… and just a little bit of understanding. "Son-san, which college do you go to?"

"Uh," Gohan pronounced, grabbing his wallet and flipping to his student identification. "I went to Capsule College," he admitted. "They're kind of… um… lenient on me because of my father's work."

Ami remained quiet, unsure of what to say. Her mother took a stethoscope from her pocket, and made a thoughtful noise, placing it against Gohan's wrist for a silent minute. "Impressive," said, shaking her head and pulling the stethoscope away. "I bet you're probably right about the blood pressure, too. What does your father do?" Turning to her daughter, she noted, "Son-san said that you had left to get something for him to eat, Ami. Why don't you get that ready? I'll be done with Son-san in a moment."

Gohan offered her a sheepish and nervous smile, before saying quietly, "Mizuno-san, thank you very much for your and your daughter's hospitality, but I need to get to the Japanese Embassy and contact… er… my mother."

"The Japanese Embassy?" she asked, shooting a questioning look at Ami.

"Er… this is Australia, isn't it? I know that Koruman hit me pretty hard, but I don't think he knocked me off of the continent," he managed with weak humor.

Ami's mother said nothing for a long moment, simply opening a small first aid kit and swabbing at some of the cuts on his side. "No," she said at length, only after she was done cleaning the wounds. "This is Tokyo, Japan. More appropriately, Juuban, in Tokyo. Where is your mother?"

"T-t… Tokyo?" Gohan asked, stunned. "But… how did… Um, I have her phone number. She lives, uh, in Chiba. She's probably worried about me."

"And your father," Ami's mother commented, packing away the first aid supplies. "What does he do?"

"He's, um, a businessman," Gohan lamely offered. "Er… he travels a lot, and likes to take me with him, sometimes."

Ami bit her lip, hard, and turned away. It was wrong, and she knew that he was lying, but she knew that it was also probably in his better interests to do so. Sad, when she realized that she was lying to her mother herself by not telling the woman that she was also… but there was time for that later. For the moment, Gohan had probably gained the slightest glimmering of understanding to what was going on, and that would undoubtedly distress him once the rest fit into place.

She silently shuffled to the front room, where both Usagi and Rei were waiting in anticipation. "Well?" Usagi whispered loudly. "What's going on?"

"Yes," Ami's mother said from behind her, causing the girl to jump. "I'd like to know that, too. Ami, I try and be an accepting mother, but bringing in some young man who looks like he's been on the wrong side of a gang war, and then leaving him here _alone_ does not strike me as responsible behavior." She glanced briefly at Usagi and Rei, managing a slight smile. "If you wish, you can take some of that udon to Son-san, while I have a talk with this young lady."

Both the other girls winced in sympathy, while Ami's mother gently took her wrist, and led her firmly into the small room that served as her office. Once the door was shut, most all of the pretences of pleasantness faded. "I can explain everything," Ami protested.

"Then do so," her mother said coolly, releasing Ami's wrist and taking a seat to study her daughter. "Explain why this young man is in my house."

"I…" Ami trailed off, thinking frantically. She couldn't very well tell her mother he had appeared while she was fighting youma as Sailor Mercury. That simply wouldn't do at all… "I found him wounded in an alley, and… I was going to tell you mother, I couldn't simply leave him alone."

"And you didn't call me? Or better, just call an ambulance? Is there a reason that you've avoided hospitals, perhaps your friend is a criminal?" Ami's mother asked, not quite yelling, but most certainly not pleased.

Ami struggled, lost and unsure of how to answer best. Ultimately, she realized, trying to explain away wouldn't solve anything. "I do not think he's a criminal, mother. I think he's merely confused. And… he needed help. I… I panicked. I wasn't sure what to do, so I brought him here, but you weren't home. I was going to tell you, and ask you what you thought I should do, but… I'm sorry." She dropped her head in defeat, feeling a familiar tightness about her eyes.

For a long, pregnant pause, Ami simply wasn't sure what to expect from her mother, until the woman sighed. "Ami-chan… I'm… not angry at you. I'm upset, yes, and this is not the kind of thing a mother wants to confront her daughter with, but…" she trailed off there, as Ami raised her eyes to meet her mother's. "He can stay here tonight, since he's injured. As little as I like the situation, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Tomorrow, however, he's out. Do you understand?"

The girl nodded quickly, relief and uncertainty warring for control of her face before settling into merely apprehensive. "What should I tell him?" she asked.

"I'll tell him. Don't worry about it," Ami's mother assured her.


Gohan eyed the pair of girls warily, struggling to a sitting position and attempting to nod politely. "Hello," he said quietly.

The first of the girls, one with stark black hair inclined her head to him, taking one of the seats by the side of the bed. "Hello," she offered after a moment, frowning apprehensively. "Um… Son-san… Ami-chan told us that was your name, right?"

"Yeah," he mumbled, nodding. He glanced down at his shirt — Buruma's work, not great armor, but nearly indestructible. The material was blackened and scorched, Koruman's attacks having cut through it easily. His pants, too, were ragged and torn, but it was all too easy to remember how those same attacks had… had torn through Kuririn, and… and his own father. He shuddered slightly, managing a wan smile. "I smell something," he noted. "Did Ami-san buy something to eat?" At their blank looks, he hastily amended, "I gave her some money, I don't know how much it would cost, but… er…"

"Oh!" the blonde exclaimed, jumping to her feet. "I forgot about that! Yeah, Ami-chan picked up some udon — do you like soup?"

He nodded, the growling void in his stomach distracting him for the moment from what had gone before.

Dashing hurriedly from the room, and trailed by both his and the dark-haired girl's gazes, the blonde fled, her long hair fluttering in her wake. "Er… sorry about forgetting," the girl managed sheepishly. "My name is Hino Rei."

He nodded to her. "Son Gohan. Who's your friend?" he asked, as the blonde returned, bearing three of the containers of udon he could faintly smell.

"I'm Tsukino Usagi!" she bubbled happily. "Nice to meet you!"

Smiling weakly, he nodded again, accepting one of the bowls with a mumbled, "Thanks. It kind of reminds me of my mother's cooking."

Usagi giggled, motioning for him to eat, and setting into the bowl she carried with reckless abandon. Not to be outdone, and noticing Rei's pained wince, Gohan tore into his own food, matching Usagi's pace easily. The black-haired girl stared at him in astonishment before a smile came to her lips, and she giggled quietly.

Frowning, he paused, noodles still dangling from his mouth, and mumbled, "What?"

Usagi and Rei both laughed at him in tandem, and he offered a good-natured smile. At least for a while, he could ignore his plight. He guessed he'd be easily able to walk by morning; with luck, he could simply slip out and vanish without his hosts being any the wiser. He'd imposed on them long enough, he suspected.

"So," he said, after the bowl of udon was completely gone, only managing to take an edge off of his hunger. "You're friends of Ami's?"

"Er…" Rei began, glancing at Usagi nervously. "Well, you see… ah, Son-san… Um, Ami-chan asked us to talk to you because…" She took a deep breath, steeling herself, and burst out, "We think that you—" Cutting herself off sharply, she coughed, as Ami's mother re-entered, along with the girl herself.

"My," she remarked, smiling softly, "you seem to have garnered yourself quite the fan club, Son-san."

He felt his face warm at that, and laughed nervously, wondering at what the girl was going to tell him. "Um… sorry about that, Mizuno-san," he apologized, bowing his head.

"No need to worry," the woman assured him. "I know how young girls can be."

"Thank you again for allowing me to recover here, Mizuno-san," Gohan said quietly.

"Well, we all have hardships we have to endure. Since your parents aren't around, you shouldn't have to endure them alone, I'd hope."

"Alone," Gohan whispered to himself.


Her hands stroked the white cat in her lap gently, as her blue eyes slowly rose from him, to look at the ocean beyond the railing. "This is going to be hard," she whispered quietly.

A soft breeze wafted through, causing the low pines between the railing on the deck and her view of the ocean to sway gently. "Uncle can't take care of me, and you know that," she continued in the same voice. "And I can't stay here anymore."

"Yes you can," the cat protested, glancing surreptitiously behind her to ensure they weren't being observed. "And you should, too. Trying to leave would be a really bad idea — you'd get yourself in much more trouble."

"I used to be able to take pretty good care of myself," she muttered. "And I'm going to learn how to again. M… Mom and Dad… it's my fault they're… gone. If I stay here, Uncle's going to be at risk, too. And admit it, I need to go to Tokyo anyway. You feel something telling you to go there, don't you?"

"Well…" the cat offered hesitantly. "Maybe. But maybe you should really just… stay here until we figure something else out?"

"No," she answered flatly. "I'm going, and that's all there is to it."

"Can you handle it?" the white cat asked intently, rising to sit up and gaze into her face seriously.

"I hope so," she whispered quietly. "I have to. I got myself into this… and I'm not going to drag Uncle down with me. I'll do what I can anyway, as… as useless as I am now." At the last, tears appeared in the corners of her eyes, and she dabbed at them cautiously with a handkerchief, lowering her gaze from the ocean to the wooden railing on the deck of her uncle's porch.

"You're not useless," the cat insisted.

"I am where it counts," she muttered bitterly, lowering her hands to the armrests of her chair. "Turning into Sailor V doesn't fix it. Nothing can…"

"Don't give up hope!"

"I haven't given up hope, Artemis," she noted, fumbling with a device beneath the armrest for a moment. "Otherwise I wouldn't be going to Tokyo, would I?"

"I… so I can't talk you out of it?"

Smiling sadly, she shook her head, grasping the thin rails to the sides of the armrests and turning the wheelchair slowly about. "Of course not," Minako said. "Now come on, you can try to help me pack."


He slept fitfully, and not for very long, awaking in the very early hours of the morning. What he had gotten to eat wasn't filling, by his standards, though Ami had returned his money to him. The gesture confused him, though he knew better than to refuse that small charity; if his guesses were correct, he'd need every little bit of help he could get.

Sighing, he trod silently from the small guestroom, gathering his wallet and the list of phone numbers — he'd gotten no chance to use the phone, yet. Pausing in the main hall, he picked up the receiver, wishing that he didn't have to abuse his host's hospitality.

Taking a deep breath, he picked up the receiver, and dialed his mother's number. It was early in the morning — too early, he knew, to call her, and she'd be upset with him, but at that moment he longed for her anger more than any silence. The phone rang.

He swallowed, fidgeting uncomfortable and glancing about the darkened apartment.

Again it rang.

Something in the apartment creaked, likely old furniture settling, or the like.

And again.

He stared resolutely through the window, the stars invisible through the clouds, which glowed from the lights of the city below.

Again.

A harsh wind picked up, whistling along the building's walls, not enough to rattle the windows, merely enough to be heard.

Once more.

The sound of falling water sounded, a single drop from a faucet in the kitchen, but it set his nerves on edge in the oppressive quiet.

Another ring.

The wind outside the building died, as suddenly as it had sprung up.

And one more, only to cut off suddenly. The change granted Gohan a moment of absolute joy and relief, patiently waiting for his mother to speak to him, as angry as she would be about him calling—

"Thank you," the voice on the other end of the line informed him, "for calling the Chiba Dentistry Bureau, at five eight…" Gohan numbly blinked, words of apology dying on his lips, as a recording dryly fed his mother's — and his own home's — phone number back to him, politely asked him to state his message, and thanked him for his time.

Carefully, gently, so he would not break it, he set the phone back on the receiver. Ami had told him that she'd had no luck finding any of the names or businesses he had mentioned to her, as ashamed as she was at that. Not that it was her fault; they simply weren't there to be found. He had never learned what Rei wanted to tell him, but not let Ami's mother know of.

He could guess, though.

This wasn't his home. It never had been.

And that meant that Koruman had won, in some sense. On a strange world, with no friends, no family… No paperwork to prove who he was, who he had been… what schools he had gone to, or anything at all.

"Great," he whispered. "Just great."

No, he couldn't afford to let it get him down. Hadn't his father lived alone from the time he was a small child, his grandfather dying and leaving him alone? If anything, he was better equipped for the world… whatever it was… than his grandfather had been.

"Okay," he mumbled to himself. "Gotta think. Need a place to stay, food to eat, and to find a way back home."

Glancing about him as the building made another sudden noise, he shook his head. First things first, he needed to get out of the apartment. Turning his attention to the small pad of paper next to the phone, he grabbed a pen and sketched out a quick note thanking Ami and her mother again, then apologizing, and signing it with his name.

"I'll probably never see you again," he noted sadly, letting himself out the front door. "But that's probably for the best…"

 

To be continued?


Author's notes: I am bereft of words. No clue why; it's not like I think this idea is great… but hopefully it's not too horrible. Ah well… I'm not really confident that I can continue this. I seem to have a knack for catching sparks of ideas that I don't have the skill to follow through with. Since I can't write it, I'll make it a challenge: Anyone who wants to can take this idea and run with it. Maybe at least we'll be able to see it finished, eh?

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