CHIBI-USA HAD COME on Friday night, but Usagi had to work the next morning. But Chibi-Usa did not want to be left alone again, so Usagi took her with her. Neither one of her foster parents objected, not that Usagi expected them to. When would they object to having one of their foster kids out of their hair for a day? Unless, of course, the kid got into trouble . . .
But Usagi didn't worry much about that. In fact, she didn't worry at all—taking Chibi-Usa was something she felt was right down to her bones. Maybe some of her future self had leaked back to her, or maybe some of her own mother, but she wasn't going to let Chibi-Usa be left alone and scared one second more than she had to. And her boss for that day, an assistant manager who was actually a little younger than herself, seemed to get two shades paler when Usagi told him that Chibi-Usa would be hanging around for her shift. Not asked. Told.
Usagi did begin to wonder as the shift went on whether or not Chibi-Usa would grow bored and wander off, something she had done many times—something Usagi herself had done many times—but she did not. There wasn't time to think much about that or anything else besides work; it was almost summer now, and her place was very busy. A couple of the big summer movies had just opened in that mall, and there were lots of kids grabbing a meal between seeing one and the other.
Usagi thought she might be able to talk to Chibi Usa about how she had come here—finally—over their own lunch, since no one else understood Japanese—but she was wrong about that. As she began talking with Chibi-Usa, an old gentleman who had always given her mean looks suddenly cameup to them and said "You actually speak Japanese?" in Japanese.
"I thought you were making fun of me, the way you talk."
"It is my English that is not so good."
"She will never really learn kanji," interjected Chibi-Usa.
Usagi turned and was about to get angry—but she leaned over and kissed the top of her daughter's head instead. "I suspect that is true. But I can speak well enough not to disgrace myself."
"Goodness! You sound like a Tokyo girl."
"Juubangai . . . I think I lived there once. But I have lost my memories—" she squeezed Chibi-Usa's hand—"And my sister is too young to remember our parents. They won't let us know what really happened to them."
"How awful! Was your mother Japanese?"
"Oh, yes, I do remember that," piped in Chibi-Usa. "She would wear kimono on Sundays, and take us to Hikawa Shrine." Chibi-Usa squeezed back—that had been something Chibi-Usa had nagged Usagi into doing. "But grandma and grandpa would stay behind. That was the only time we were all out of the house. I think they would make their love then."
The old gentleman chortled as Usagi blushed. Chibi-Usa was probably right about that . . . Then the old gentleman joined them and went on about his younger days in Tokyo and how he had come to be living in Silicon Valley, and then about the three sets of grandchildren living in various cities around the Bay). He was still talking with Chibi-Usa when Usagi went back to work.
Usagi usually rode her bike to her Saturday job, but Chibi-Usa didn't have one, so she had taken the bus. Waiting for the return bus, she once again began to speak with Chibi-Usa in Japanese when Jimmy came up on his own bike. He also had a job at the mall, but it was far from the place where Usagi worked, so they usually did not see each other—except riding home. She had forgotten about him.
"Who's your new—Jesus, she looks like you! Is that your sister?"
A few hours before, she had easily lied to the old gentleman, but now Usagi found she couldn't lie to Jimmy—whom she had quite forgotten about since Chibi-Usa had appeared. But if her faith in the truth of her memories had been restored, that still left Jimmy . . .
"Hey, Sue! It's me! Remember? Aren't you going to introduce her?"
Chibi-Usa was looking at her, too, and not liking what she saw. "Okasan, you haven't . . . with this man?"
"No, no, Chibi-Usa . . . Usagi,no . . . but he is a good friend." She switched to English. "Jimmy, please, go home. I cannot talk to you now."
"Go home, my friend. Please?"
His shoulders slumped, but he got wordlessly back onto his bike and pedaled away.
"Oh, kaasan . . . you broke his heart."
"Yes. I think I did . . . but I warned him. Now, tell me, how did you get to this place. No, wait, I must warn you first . . . did they put you in a place with crazy people?"
"Yes, okasan, they did."
"They did that to me too . . . " She took out a comb and brush, and began to undo her odango. "You and I know the truth, but we must not let them think we believe it or they may put us back with the crazy people. So, we cannot be odango atama while we are in this world."
"Yes, my Usagi. It cannot be the world we knew. And call me 'Sue,' please. We will have to pick out a good American name for you soon."
"Will we ever get back?"
"Yes . . . I thought I was crazy sometimes, that I had never been Sailor Moon or even Usagi, that Mamo-chan was just a cartoon . . . but you have come to me . . . here, let me help me take your odango out . . ."
"You must not call me that around the other people at our home, someone might tell Watanabe-sama . . . but thank you for calling me that now . . ."
"Okasan, would you have . . . with that man? Jimi?"
"He is my age, Usako . . . I really don't know . . . when Mamoru was killed—"
"Killed? Which time?"
"By Galaxia . . . but the ginzuishou brought him back again . . . you don't know of that? It was more than two years ago." Among Galaxia's many powers had been time travel, so Chibi-Usa, who was from the future, might know nothing of her, since her future had been saved . . .
"No, mama . . . but that may be why it happened."
"Why what happened?"
"Crystal Tokyo is gone. Maybe like it never was . . . "
"Then how did you—"
"I went to the Timegate, like otousan and okasan . . . like you told me. Everyone and everything was fading, including me, like when Neherenia almost destroyed Mamo-chan . . . just before I went in, everything was gone, and everyone I'd known."
"No . . . no, there were buildings and stuff there, and people—but not our buildings and our people. I don't remember anything more, until I was wherever we are now . . . I'm going to miss my odango . . . okasan, how will we get back?"
"I don't know. But I have you again, and that gives me hope."
"I do not have the future ginzuishou. I cannot transform."
"I have lost mine . . . but if we cannot be senshi, we are still the Moon family, and we will find a way. We always do . . . there. My, your hair has grown. You have grown. You look—have your periods started?"
"Yes. I just had my first one. Kaasan—you—were so happy that I was growing up at last . . . "
"You look older than I was when . . . almost as big as I was when Luna first showed me how to transform."
"Am I pretty?"
"Very . . . In fact, you are going to have to be careful. Boys here don't have manners like in Japan, except for a few like Jimmy-san . . . I've gotten into about as many fights as Mako used to. But you must be careful not to hit too hard. With your training, even if you are not transformed, you could hurt someone very badly."
"Auntie Minako warned me about that. And Auntie Haruka, too."
"Really?. . . " Usagi found herself crying, remembering Haruka crying, so long ago now . . .
Chibi-Usa held her, and began crying herself. People around them stared. Usagi almost missed the bus home.