A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
Disclaimer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC.
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Chapter 7: The House with Evil Feelings All Around. The Secret of Pretty Girl Hotaru!
Usagi groaned as she stretched herself out on Rei's bed, before she rolled over and found herself face to face with her friend.
"Good morning, sleepyhead." Rei smiled warmly at Usagi from a sitting position on the floor.
"It's morning already? Ugh, I'm still dead tired," Usagi complained as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.
"You can go back to sleep if you want," Rei offered, hoping that Usagi would not accept the offer since she really wanted to talk to her.
Usagi sat up and stretched her arms, giving an enormous yawn in the process. "That's okay, Rei-chan. If I'm up, I'm up." She looked down and saw a sleeping Chibi-Usa snuggled up against her side. She reached down and gently caressed her future daughter's cheek. "I guess I gave everyone a real scare, huh?"
"I never realised you had such a talent for understatement," Rei deadpanned. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Usagi shifted uncomfortably, doing her best to avoid jostling Chibi-Usa too much "Um… there's not much to tell, really… I wasn't really aware for much of it." She gave Rei what she hoped was a reassuring smile while silently urging her to drop the subject.
Rei frowned as she considered this for a moment, before she replied. "Oh well. By the way, Mamoru-san said he would be over soon," she said in her most matter-of-fact voice.
The reaction was instant. Usagi drew her legs up to her chest and shuddered violently. Chibi-Usa grunted, but remained asleep. "Ah… I don't think I'm ready to see him just yet…" Usagi said in a quiet but slightly panicked voice.
"So, it's true then," Rei hissed, her previously friendly expression replaced by one of pure fury.
"What?" Usagi whirled round to look at Rei. Her expression was completely terrified.
"She told us last night." Rei's voice was filled with anger. "She told us what she did with him." She shook her head disgustedly. "I'd hoped it was a lie."
"No, no, no!" Usagi waved her hands in a conciliatory gesture. "I'm sure it wasn't like that! She must have tricked him into thinking she was me, that must be it!"
Rei looked at Usagi, surprised that she would defend him after what he did. "That wasn't the way she told it. And I didn't hear a whole lot of denials from him, either."
Usagi was saved the trouble of thinking up another excuse when Chibi-Usa woke up. "Usagi! You're still here!" She glomped onto the older girl.
"Yes, and I promise I won't leave you ever again," Usagi swore while hugging her back, giving Rei a look that begged her to drop the subject.
Rei, for her part, had no intention of discussing Mamoru's… indiscretion… in front of Chibi-Usa. "Well, who's up for breakfast?" she offered as a change of subject.
Usagi flashed Rei a grateful smile before responding, "I'm famished. How about you, Chibi-Usa-chan?"
Chibi-Usa gave a cheerful nod before all three girls got up to go in search of something to eat. "By the way, are these your pyjamas, Rei-chan?" Usagi asked as she looked down at the light yellow pyjamas she was wearing.
Chibi-Usa giggled at this before answering, "You're wearing Luna-P!"
Usagi's eyes practically bugged out. "Nani? Well, I hope she doesn't change back before I'm ready to get dressed!"
"She won't," Chibi-Usa said solemnly as the trio left Rei's bedroom and headed towards the kitchen.
"I'm sorry I took your bed last night, Rei-chan. You didn't have to do that for me," Usagi said, almost meekly.
Rei did her best to suppress a sigh at these mundane topics. She really wanted to talk to Usagi about what was going on, but she doubted Usagi would be in any mood to discuss it even when Chibi-Usa wasn't around. "Don't worry about it, Usagi. I hope cereal is okay with you guys, since that's about all I can make as far as breakfast is concerned."
"Cereal's fine," Usagi said as they entered the kitchen and Rei set about getting some bowls from the cupboard. "Say, where's Yuichirou and Ojichan?"
'She's really doing her best to come up with anything to talk about besides what's important,' Rei thought as she poured corn flakes into the bowls. "Yuichirou should be out in the yard doing his chores. Grandpa's most likely making up new fortunes." She poured milk in the cereal and offered the bowls to her guests.
"Um… this might be a silly question…" Usagi began in-between munching on the cereal, "…but what day is it?"
"It's Sunday, so at least we don't have to worry about school today," Rei told her.
Usagi blushed. "Actually, I was wondering what the actual date was…"
"It's the sixteenth. Why?" Rei was instantly suspicious. She didn't think this was Usagi's usual scatter-brainedness. "Don't you know how long… it… lasted?"
Usagi was instantly regretting bringing up something connected to her ordeal, but decided that she might as well be honest. It wasn't that big a deal compared to what else had happened. "Um… there wasn't really any way to tell when days ended or began…" She hoped that would be enough to forestall any more questioning.
Chibi-Usa picked up on Usagi's reluctance to discuss this further and decided to help her out by changing the subject to something that was more cheerful in her mind. "So, when's Mamo-chan coming 'round?" she chirped innocently.
Usagi turned white as a sheet and dropped the bowl in her hand, causing it to shatter on the kitchen floor, its contents spattering all around. Both Rei and Chibi-Usa were shocked to see that she was hyperventilating.
"Usagi… Usagi! Calm down!" Rei put her arm around her shivering friend and tried to massage her back.
"What's wrong, Usagi?!" A panicked Chibi-Usa grabbed onto her leg fearfully.
Usagi came back to reality and her breathing slowed down, although not by much. "Oh, Rei-chan, I'm sorry! I made a mess!" She shrugged out of Rei's grasp and bent down to the floor. "I'll clean it up!" She started picking up pieces of the shattered bowl, and quickly managed to cut her finger. "Itai!" she hissed, dropping the pieces she had collected and sucking on the injured digit.
"Don't worry about the mess; I'll take care of it," Rei said firmly as she more-or-less dragged Usagi to her feet.
"Oh… Well, I'll just go clean this up in the bathroom." Usagi indicated her cut finger.
Rei wanted to just tell Usagi to use the kitchen sink, but decided against causing a scene in front of Chibi-Usa. "There should be band-aids behind the mirror. Help yourself," she called after the retreating figure of Usagi.
After a moment, Chibi-Usa spoke. "Rei-chan… What's wrong with Usagi? I thought everything was all right now…"
Rei managed a baleful smile. 'If only things were that simple in the real world…' she thought sadly. "Usagi's been through a lot… it might be awhile before things are back to normal…" '…if ever,' she finished silently.
After quickly finishing her breakfast, Rei got a brush and cleaned up the mess from Usagi's breakfast. Chibi-Usa just ate hers slowly in an awkward silence as the minutes passed.
"All better!" Usagi said cheerfully as she bounced back into the kitchen, showing off her finger, which had a blue plaster wrapped around it. She smiled brightly at both Rei and Chibi-Usa.
Rei wasn't fooled for a minute. It was obvious she had been crying; her eyes were puffy and her cheeks were slightly discoloured. 'Stop pretending everything's okay when it's not!' Rei thought furiously, but kept her tongue in check. Again for Chibi-Usa's benefit.
"Oh no!" Chibi-Usa suddenly gasped as a thought struck her. "I forgot all about Hotaru-chan!"
"Who?" Rei and Usagi echoed.
"Hotaru's my friend; she was with me last night when I was attacked… I forgot all about her in all the excitement!" Chibi-Usa had a distinct note of panic in her voice.
"Don't worry, Chibi-Usa," Rei reassured her. "There was no one else there when we arrived. Your friend must have run away when the monster showed up."
"No!" Chibi-Usa shook her head. "Hotaru tried to protect me and got hurt. That's why I released my energy like that. She wouldn't have run away, I just know it!"
"I'm telling you, she wasn't there last night. We would have noticed her," Rei protested.
"I'm sure Hotaru's okay, Chibi-Usa-chan." Usagi knelt down and hugged her reassuringly. "Why don't we go 'round to her house and make sure?" she offered.
"Okay, let's go get dressed!" Chibi-Usa's spirits started to lift as she led Usagi back to Rei's bedroom. A few minutes later both emerged, fully-clothed and trailing Luna-P.
"Well, we're going to check up on Hotaru. See you later, Rei-chan!" Usagi called out cheerfully as they both left, leaving a bewildered miko girl behind.
After a few minutes of standing in stunned silence, Rei remembered that Mamoru would be around soon. "Aw, crap…" she muttered under her breath.
"So, Chibi-Usa, what's Hotaru like then?" Usagi asked as she allowed herself to be led by the hand towards Hotaru's house by Chibi-Usa.
"Well, she has some sort of illness that makes her really weak, and has seizures, but she's really sweet and smart. And she was so brave last night when she tried to help me… I really hope she's all right…" Chibi-Usa looked a little sad at the possibility that she wouldn't be all right. 'It seems I always bring trouble to people that I like…' she thought dismally.
"Don't worry. I just know that she'll be safe and sound at her house when we get there. You just wait and see!" Usagi said confidently.
The pair walked along for a little more before Usagi was suddenly struck by a thought. "Hey, how have my family reacted to my being gone for the past week?"
Chibi-Usa took on a sullen expression. "I hypnotised them to think you were off visiting relatives in Nerima…"
"But I don't have any relatives in Nerima…" Usagi looked rather confused at this news.
"I'm not your cousin either…" Chibi-Usa said despondently as an explanation of what her hypnosis could do.
Usagi abruptly stopped, forcing Chibi-Usa to do likewise as she retained her grip on her hand. "No, you're not my cousin," she said sternly before grabbing Chibi-Usa in a tight hug. "You're far more important than that to me…"
"Usagi…" Chibi-Usa said shyly. "People are looking…" She tried to disentangle herself from the hug, though her reason was mainly to avoid crying with happiness and embarrassing herself further.
"I don't care about that…" Usagi said earnestly as she kept hold of her future daughter. "I want you to know how proud I am of you for last night… I couldn't have done it without you." She was starting to tear up herself.
"It was my fault for getting you involved in my troubles…" Chibi-Usa sniffled.
"Hey now." Usagi relaxed her grip so she could look Chibi-Usa in the eyes. "You only did it to help your mama, right?"
"Uh huh." Chibi-Usa nodded.
"Well, your mama is me, so it's only natural that I should have tried to help out, right?" Usagi pressed on.
"I guess so…" Chibi-Usa agreed hesitantly.
"No guessing about it. You have nothing to feel bad about, understand?" Usagi held Chibi-Usa's gaze until the child slowly nodded. "Good!" she said brightly, letting go and taking her hand so they could resume walking.
Hotaru slowly came to in her darkened room. Her temples were throbbing and her vision took a few minutes to stop being blurry. She sat up and saw she was in her bed wearing her nightclothes.
"What's going on…?" she asked herself as she looked around in bewilderment. "Wasn't I going to that tower with Chibi-Usa-chan?" She massaged her temples in a futile attempt to get rid of the pain as she considered her situation.
After a moment, she got out of bed and went over to open her curtains. She was instantly assaulted by the bright sunshine and quickly closed the curtains again. Bright light certainly wasn't doing her eyes any favours. After the purple spots stopped swimming in her vision, she turned on her lamps, bathing the room in a diffuse light which was much easier for her to take.
She sat back down on her bed and tried to regulate her breathing as she struggled to remember the events of the previous evening. Everything after leaving the house with Chibi-Usa was a blank.
A disturbingly familiar blank.
"I must have had one of my episodes!" she exclaimed, recalling all the other blank spots in her memory.
Blank spots which always preceded her learning that she had done something terrible. "Did I… hurt her…?" Hotaru looked at her delicate pale hands as if they were soaked in her friend's blood. She had a terrible feeling that she would never see Chibi-Usa again.
"I hope she isn't hurt too badly…" Hotaru drew her knees up to her chest as a horrible voice in her head said, 'It's better this way… you were never meant to have friends.' "Always alone…" A choked sob escaped her lips before she tried to rein in her feelings.
"You'd think I'd be used to it by now… that it wouldn't hurt…" She rubbed away the tears from her eyes. A part of her was terrified that if it ever did stop hurting then she'd be even less human than she was. A part of her revelled in the pain.
Hotaru wasn't the only one in the Tomoe household that was feeling less than human today. Kaolinite — 'no… Just Kaori now…' she reminded herself — was making breakfast for the professor. He frequently forgot to eat while he was absorbed in the process of growing daimon eggs.
The professor had brought her back to life using a process she didn't understand and was pretty sure she didn't want to. All she knew was that she felt… different… inside. It was like a disgusting weight was pressing against her mind. She didn't know what it was, but she knew it felt unclean. Unnatural.
Like a daimon.
The professor had told her she would no longer play an active part in the Deathbusters' plans. She would remain his live-in assistant, but all the field work would go to the younger research group: Witches 5.
She was no longer Kaolinite the Deathbuster. Now she was just Kaori, the professor's assistant. She hadn't decided how she felt about that yet. Thinking on any meaningful level was proving most difficult this morning.
Hotaru entered the kitchen, moving almost mechanically. Kaori ignored her; she didn't feel like tormenting the girl, not today. Hotaru likewise ignored Kaori, preferring not to draw her attention in case she got on the receiving end of a few hurtful comments. She set about making her own breakfast.
After preparing some cereal, Hotaru went into the living room to eat it. Kaori remained in the kitchen as she continued cooking.
The doorbell rang.
Kaori looked at the clock and saw it was nearly half past nine. Rather early for visitors on a Sunday. She went to answer the door, and was startled to see Hotaru's friend — the girl who didn't have a talisman but nonetheless possessed extraordinary power — was waiting anxiously along with a teenage girl who bore more than a passing resemblance to her.
'It's not my business anymore.' Kaori reminded herself that she was no longer involved in the search for the talismans. "Yes?" she said slowly.
"Is Hotaru here?" the younger girl asked nervously. The older girl placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Kaori didn't bother to send them away. 'Let them do what they want…' she thought as she allowed them in. "She's in the living room."
"…and then she just took off with Chibi-Usa to go check on this Hotaru girl," Rei finished telling Makoto and Ami the events of this morning. The two girls had come along to see Usagi and offer support if Rei needed to kick Mamoru out.
Usagi was gone, but Mamoru had still to arrive, so Rei was quite glad for the company.
"So, do either of you two know when Minako's coming 'round?" Rei asked the pair. All three girls were standing around outside the shrine.
"She said she'd be 'round this afternoon. She'd rather not get involved in the whole Mamoru situation," Makoto informed her.
Rei made a disgusted face. "Typical… I'm glad Usagi's back so we don't have her as leader anymore."
"I don't know… She did rather well under the circumstances, and I can't blame her for not wanting to get involved," Ami said. She had pretty much been dragged along by Makoto. 'I wish I had a spine…' she thought dismally to herself.
"Well, as far as I'm concerned, the bastard can go to hell! There's no way I'm letting him near Usagi." Makoto emphasised her statement by cracking her knuckles.
"Don't you think it's a matter for Usagi and Mamoru to deal with themselves?" Ami, ever the voice of reason, pointed out.
"Weren't you listening?!" Rei sounded exasperated. "Usagi was having panic attacks at the mention of his name! She didn't leave because she was worried about Chibi-Usa's friend; she got out of here to avoid him!"
Ami's hands suddenly shot to her mouth. "He's here!" she squeaked.
The other two girls turned round to see Mamoru just making his way to the top of the stairs. "Solidarity, Ami," Makoto reminded the blue-haired girl.
Mamoru approached the three girls and saw he was on the receiving end of two venomous and one half-hearted glare. "Where is she?" he demanded, deciding that if they were going to be hostile, then he would too.
Rei and Ami were both momentarily surprised by his attitude; they had expected him to be a lot more obsequious, given that he was blatantly in the wrong. Makoto had expected this attitude from him, however, and was unfazed. "She left. She didn't want to see you," she took great glee in informing him.
"Where did she go?" Mamoru bit the words out harshly. The only thing which had kept him sane last night was the promise of seeing her today, and now she was being kept out of his reach. He was not happy.
Rei had recovered by now, and was ready to take out her anger on him. "Why do you care? Feeling a little antsy, are we?" Her words carried so much hatred it even surprised her.
"Rei! You aren't helping!" Ami said forcefully before turning to Mamoru. "She went to visit one of Chibi-Usa's friends. We don't know where she lives, so you might as well leave, Mamoru-san."
Mamoru was turning several shades of purple from Rei's jibe, but if Ami was telling the truth — and he really couldn't see her lying — then he might as well leave. "Fine, I'll go." He turned and stalked off. No, he was certainly anything but happy.
Once he was gone, Rei turned on Ami. "Dammit, Ami, why did you do that?! I was just getting started!"
Ami, for once, was angry herself. "You weren't helping anything, Rei! This is more important than your petty grudges!"
"This isn't a 'petty grudge'!!" Rei shrieked angrily. "You didn't see her…" She slumped to her knees, overwhelmed with emotion. "You don't know what it was like…"
Kaori showed Usagi and Chibi-Usa the door to the living room, and then went off to resume making breakfast for the professor.
The two girls entered and saw Hotaru sitting with her back to them. She didn't bother to turn round at the sound of the door, expecting it would just be Kaori.
"Hotaru-chan! You're all right!" Chibi-Usa exclaimed, rushing over to hug her friend.
Hotaru, for her part, was completely stunned. "Ch-Chibi-Usa-chan… I thought… What happened?" Shock was quickly replaced by joy as she realised she still had a friend, and she returned the hug with equal fervour.
Usagi, still standing by the door, couldn't help but smile at the scene the pair made. 'They're so kawaii!' she thought cheerily.
"I'm so sorry, Hotaru… I must have lost track of you in all the excitement. I'm really sorry!" Chibi-Usa gushed.
'Should I admit I have no clue what she's talking about, or just go with the flow?' Hotaru asked herself uncertainly. Despite having little experience in friendships, she realised that honesty was important, so she eventually said, "Um… Chibi-Usa… I don't know what you're talking about. I can't remember anything after we left my house last night."
Chibi-Usa looked at her friend askance. "You don't remember?"
'Have I done something wrong? I knew I should have just kept my mouth shut!' Hotaru reprimanded herself, but Chibi-Usa just decided to give her an edited account of last night's events.
"We were attacked by a monster, and you tried to fight it — you were so brave Hotaru-chan! — and then the Sailor Senshi came and defeated it, but you were nowhere in sight… I didn't see where you went. Gomen…"
Hotaru was able to put the pieces together in her head to come up with an explanation 'I must have had an episode and just attacked the monster because it was the nearest thing… then I probably wandered home in a daze…' Was the most sensible explanation she could come up with. "I'm glad the monster didn't hurt you, Chibi-Usa," she said, referring more to the monster in her head than anything else.
"I'm just glad you're safe!" Chibi-Usa said sincerely, then she suddenly remembered Usagi was in the room. "Oh, I forgot… I'm so rude…" She mentally chastised herself over forgetting her manners. 'You're a princess, remember, dummy?!' she thought angrily. "Hotaru, I'd like you to meet my… um…" She couldn't well call Usagi her mother, but cousin was just so distant, then she was hit by inspiration. "…big sister, Usagi! Usagi, meet Hotaru."
Hotaru thought it was a little odd that two sisters would both be called Usagi, but decided she was in no position to comment. As far as weird families went, hers took the prize. "I'm pleased to meet you, Usagi-san." Hotaru got up and bowed.
"I'm glad to meet you, too, Hotaru-chan. And please just call me, Usagi-chan." Usagi bowed as well. She was quite pleased at Chibi-Usa admitting to a closer family relationship with her to her friends.
"Okay… Usagi-chan," Hotaru said, slightly shyly, but she lost her reservations when Usagi gave her a bright friendly smile in response. 'She's a lot like Chibi-Usa… the Tsukinos must be a really nice family…' she thought.
Usagi was thinking that she should suggest some sort of activity for all three of them to do today. 'I should try to get to know Chibi-Usa's friend… she seems like a really nice girl… besides, if I go home, Mamo-chan will probably find me…' She shuddered slightly at the thought of his name. 'But where could we go? Too many people I know are likely to be at the game centre…' she considered her problem a little before inspiration struck. "Hey, would you two like to go to the art museum? I'll pay." 'Ha! Nice one Usagi! No one will ever look for you there!' she mentally congratulated herself on a brilliant plan.
Chibi-Usa was pretty surprised at this development. As nice as Usagi was, she was not well known to be generous when it came to spending money on others, and she had never seemed interested in art. 'But mama loves art… maybe Usagi just hides it,' she thought to herself. "That sounds like a great idea! What do you think, Hotaru?" She turned to her friend.
"Well… I've never been to an art museum before, but I'd like to go with you," she replied.
"Great! Then it's settled," Usagi announced brightly.
To be continued.
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