"STAY CLOSE, CHIBI-USA . . . Do you think you can use your powers to keep anyone from noticing us?"
"I'll try. But I've never flown so high before."
"Then just keep up and think about your flying. I don't want you to fall or run into anything."
Down below, a few hundred feet, it was getting darker every minute. The sun had set. Transformed, even naked, they didn't feel the cold as much, but they felt it, flying a little faster than the traffic below. They were hard to see, but not invisible, and they, in fact, caused three traffic accidents when drivers looked up at just the right time. But none of the police reports would later mention this. "Naked girl angels" was a phrase that looked very poor on an insurance claim.
They flew to their foster home, and began spiraling out from there. One of the things they discovered was that they could see quite well in their current forms; everything in shadow seemed to be in bright moonlight. Not as good as daylight, but good enough to see anything important.
The police were already beginning to search, but they weren't combing the most of the back areas, they wouldn't until morning, and that is where Usagi and Chibi-Usa kept looking. And in a dark, weed-grown field where no development had sprung up yet, Usagi found Kimberly.
Usagi said to Chibi-Usa, "Don't look," but of course she did, and shrieked loud enough to scare the feral dogs away from the body.
Usagi went down and took up what was left of Kimberly into her arms, and under her wings.
A car drove into the field. A real off-road vehicle, not a poseur. It didn't have its regular lights on. It drove to within 10 meters of them, beginning to alarm Chibi-Usa, but Usagi seemed not to notice. "Okasan?"
Someone got out of the car and walked toward them. Chibi-Usa struck her pose and prepared her magic. But it was her mother who called out behind her, "Did you do this?"
The gray lady answered, "No. If you don't believe me, turn me into moon dust. But you'll have Aura to take care of. She's in my car." She put her boot under the corpse of one of the feral dogs Chibi-Usa had killed, and kicked it aside.
After a moment, Usagi said, "Your heart seems clear. What do you want?"
"I want to help."
"You are too late. We are too late."
"Perhaps not." There was a crackle of voices from a radio in the lady's car. She went back to it, and switched on the lights. "Sorry, I can't see in the dark without this contraption," she said, taking off a funny pair of goggles, "And I can't wear them for what comes next." She pulled something from her car, and brought it with her. She shook it out, and it floated to the ground—it was made of silk, gray, with intricate colored designs. "Lay her down on this."
"Just do it, we don't have much time. The police will be here very soon."
Usagi set down Kimberly as tenderly as she could. She picked up some parts that fell out, and put them where she thought they went, for some reason . . .
"Stand with me. Over her. There, and there. Hold hands. Try to help me."
"Just try, there is only one chance to do this . . . " The gray lady let go of their hands and reached up to her face. "You have wings, I have only these. But they have their uses . . ."
The lady closed her hands on the feathers in her hair and pulled, very hard. She screamed in pain. Then she let the feathers fall down onto Kimberly's body. She grabbed onto their hands again and gripped them hard. Usagi felt that the woman's hand was hot, wet, and sticky now.
The woman said things in a language Usagi had never heard. Then she squeezed their hands even tighter and said—or thought—"God of my father, Gods of my mother, help me work my art. Help me undo what should not have been done." She let go of their hands, and took out something else—a tiny hourglass. She put it into her mouth, and took their hands again. She bent down. Usagi could see that blood was streaming down from the side of her head, where she had pulled the feathers from. Usagi heard a crunch, and the woman spat out more blood. A stream of dust also flowed down from the tiny broken hourglass, glittering, golden in the headlights. When the stream ended, she spat out the rest of the hourglass and said, "Please, please work this time . . . help me. Help her." Then she began chanting in the unknown language again.
It was terrible to watch, but the magic began to work. Usagi prayed, "Goddess of the moon, help us bring her back . . ."
When it was done, the gray lady staggered away. "We have to get her away from here. The thread of her life is very thin now. I'm afraid the police could break it again. I can't get her past the police now. Can you fly with her?"
"I think so . . . yes."
"Then take her away. Is there a place you can take her besides that foster home?"
"Then go there. Before she wakes up, if possible . . ." They could hear sirens now, far away, but getting closer. "Wait. You, little one. Take her." She handed her baby to Chibi-Usa. "The police might arrest me. I don't want to lose Aura into foster care!"
"Come with us. Maybe—"
"I need to protect this place. The spell is still tied to here. It should be all right in a few minutes . . . go, go now!"
They flew off into the night. A policeman saw them for a moment just after they took off, but thought his eyes were playing tricks on him . . .
Usagi didn't have any real idea of what to do once they got back to Jimmy's place. Glancing down at the naked girl in her arms, even smaller than Chibi-Usa, though she had already born a child of her own, thinking of what she had been when she found her . . . there would be a way to keep her safe.
She circled around Jimmy's place with Chibi-Usa, looking, thinking . . . and then she saw something. "There, Chibi-Usa. We'll go there."
Nancy had been watching for what seemed forever when she saw them, just by chance, flying across the face of the moon. She switched on the light and opened the window. They must have seen it, because in a few moments, they flew in. Sue seemed to float in sideways, holding Kimberly, folding her wings to get through. She righted herself and set down lightly. Kimberly seemed to suddenly take on weight, and Nancy grabbed at her, helping Sue set her gently down onto the bed. As that happened, Sarah flew in. She was holding a baby. As soon as she set down, her wings shimmered, and then winked out of existance. She was still naked, and began shivering. Nancy got up and closed the window. Then she pulled the curtains closed.
There were so many things to ask, but the first thing that came to Nancy was, "Is that Kimberly's baby?"
"No, she belongs to the Gray Lady." said Sarah.
"The Gray Lady?"
Sue said, "The Gray Lady is a witch. But a good one. She brought back Kimberly-chan."
Nancy looked back. Sue still had her angel wings; she had folded them around Kimberly. But there was something else . . . they were matted with blood.
"Are you hurt?"
"No, just very tired . . ."
Before Nancy's eyes, Sue's wings faded out. She fell back onto the bed along with Kimberly. But the blood that had been on her wings fell down in a crusty powder onto the carpet. And the erstwhile angel began snoring.
"Okasan is very noisy at night," said Sarah. She went up to the bed, used one hand to pull the quilt over the Kimberly and Sue, and then asked, "Where are we going to sleep?"