WHEN SHE RETURNED to her foster home, after school the next day, Sue's foster mother asked her where she had been the night before. She explained that she had stayed with Dr. Goodman, the lecturer. Her foster mother asked about the doctor, but grew bored while Sue explained. "Well, that's quite a story, honey--but you don't need to make it up stuff like that. If you want to fuck Jimmy or whoever, fine, just don't get yourself pregnant."
"I do not *fuck* Jimmy or anyone else. I stayed with Dr. Goodman because I did not want to wake you or Vic-san up. Her lecture was not finished until after midnight."
"Well, how considerate . . . Listen, Honey--" Her foster mother actually seemed in a good mood for a change, "You're about the only decent kid I've seen come through here, and I count my own two. So don't think I'm doing this because I don't like you. But they're sending me a new kid. The only way I can fit her in here is to put her in your room."
"Shut-up and listen, Honey. Vic is going to be home soon, and I don't want to go over this in front of him. I need to put her in with you because she's young. If I put her with the other girls, I don't think they will keep the boys away from her . . . hell, I know they won't. But they don't bother you . . . not after what you did to Louie."
"You know about that?" She had flattened Louis a few days after he'd arrived, with a few moves that wouldn't have impressed Haruka or Minako, but which seemed to have made a lasting impression on Louis and the other would-be young toughs. "He told you?"
"No, he'd never tell me he got his ass whupped by a girl--I saw it. Almost bit off my tongue to keep from laughing. 'Course, your were lucky you didn't really hurt him."
"Well . . . Anyway, Honey, I trust you more than any of the others. I even asked Vic to give you a key awhile back, but he wouldn't hear of it . . . you got to understand, Honey, I have to be hard on you in front of the others, I can't let them know we'll ever let up on any of them."
"Thank you . . . when will this new girl be coming here?"
"I'm not sure. Tomorrow or the next day—maybe even tonight. I need you to clear out some space for her in your room tonight, now. I'll give you a couple of milk crates. Put the stuff you think you can get along without for awhile in them. I'll lock them up for you."
Sue wasn't happy about someone sharing her tiny room—and her bed; there wasn't room for another one. But she didn't think too much about it . . . she didn't really believe her foster mother had been secretly liking her all along. Maybe she was putting on the act to smooth over things with the new girl . . . but she had seemed *different*. It would have been better if she would have been her old mean self . . . that was something the girl who used to call herself Usagi could understand.
Sue didn't think much about the new girl during school the next day, or the next; she didn't come. Jimmy didn't come to school on those days, either. On the third day, Jimmy was back, but he didn't say much to her until they were riding home on the bus.
"What was Dr. Goodman like at home?"
"It was a motel room . . . Do you think we have sex?" Her English still tended to fracture when she was excited.
"No . . . well . . ."
"No, I am not like that, and she was not. She was a nice lady. Her old aunt was up with her baby when we got there, and it took a long time for the baby to go to sleep after Dr. Goodman fed her. We talked for a long time."
"Many things . . . I said I missed my parents, and she said she'd never known her mother—I think her mother died when she was born. Her father died before she was born. He was murdered. She has had a very sad life, and yet she is not a sad person. She reminds me of . . ."
"She makes me think about one of those cartoon people." Sailor Pluto, actually, but she didn't tell Jimmy that. It still seemed so real at times . . . why couldn't she remember her real life? Or was it her real life?
"Hey, remember me? I may not be that Tuxedo guy, but I'm here."
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "You will always be a good friend, Jimmy."
"I'd like to be more."
"I know . . . I cannot promise that I will ever be what you want."
"You are exactly what I want."
She paused. "I think I understand. But I don't love you like that."
She took a long time to answer. "I could . . . but you could wait a very long time for nothing."
"I've got more time than money . . . Hey, this is your stop!" He pulled the cord.
The new girl hadn't shown up yet. No one in the house seemed to be worried about that, because Louis had gotten into a bad fight—not at school; he'd cut and found his trouble in a mall parking lot. There were police and Juvenile Authority people at the house—and Dr. Watanabe. "Arigato, Watanabe-sama," she said to him without thought when she came upon him.
"Still speaking Japanese?"
"Oh. Not much, but I have not forgotten how."
"Well, that's actually good news . . . the girl I'm placing here seems to speak only a very few words of English."
"Yes . . . she's younger than you by quite a few years, but she seems to have the same problem you had, Sue . . . Do you still call yourself Sue?"
"Yes. I don't remember any other names. Besides from the cartoon."
"You're still wearing your hair the same way."
Sue shrugged. "I just do. I can make up my odango in a minute. I must have been wearing them for many years. It is part of me."
"Mmmmm . . . Anyway, I'm hoping that being with you for awhile will help her."
"What is her name?"
"Well, for now, it is Usagi. Like you, I'm afraid we don't have any idea of her real identity . . . you haven't had any clues about your own past, have you?"
"No, I have not . . . perhaps it is too terrible to remember." It would have to be, if some of the things she thought she remembered were better!
"Perhaps, but it would be nice to know the truth, wouldn't it?"
"Yes . . ." Sue almost revealed that this new girl would be sharing her bed, but she suspected that was a violation of regulations, which would anger her foster parents if she revealed it—her foster mother was furious again, although fortunately not with her this time. She suspected that he knew already . . .
Dr. Watanabe turned away and went back to talking with the police and the people from the Juvenile Authority.
Sue was cursed with the tendency to go to sleep almost anywhere, but she was also blessed with the ability to fall asleep almost whenever and wherever she wanted to. So she went to bed and to sleep while the yelling was still going on downstairs later that evening.
She woke up in the night needing to pee and stumbled off to the bathroom, noticing that someone else was in the bed but not caring enough to wait. Returning, she found the new girl had rolled to the center of the bed and scrunched up all the covers about her. Sue tugged until the girl released some of the covers and moved away—not waking up. It seemed familiar—like herself, she realized, on the few occasions when she had shared a bed with her brother—
If she had a brother.
She got back into bed and under the portion of the covers the new girl had relinquished. It was not half. Rather than wrestle with the girl for more, she drew up close to her, so what covers she had would do. The girl's hair was long like hers, and she saw it was even done up in odongo—why did she still do that? The smell of the hair was somehow comforting, although it tickled her nose as she—
She sneezed. It was a bad sneeze.
The other girl sat up, and said, "You got me all wet!"
And then she sat up straighter, and after a long, quiet moment, looking at Sue. She then leaned over and switched on the light, and then she said, "Mama-san?"
The new girl could be none other than Chibi-Usa. That meant so many things . . . things neither of them thought of as they clutched each other in tears. But Usagi—who must now call herself Sue—did retain enough presence of mind to switch off the light and say, "Not loud, my precious spore; these people are mean when you wake them up . . ."