USAGI'S CONCERN for Dr. Watanabe did not go away, but she did not think about it much after helping to save Kimberly. She had to deal with settling in with Jimmy and Nancy's family, and with whether it was right to use her powers to help them accept her. The same was true of Chibi-Usa, though she never spent as much time as Usagi did worrying about anything, at least while she was sure her mother was close at hand.
Both of them sought out ways to help the family out, and they were soon actually doing a little more work than they had for the Gants. Ms. Leary and Mr. Ferrara responded not by looking for even more for them to do, but told them they were doing too much—and they started being more serious about assigning chores to the other children.
This did not make them very popular with Nancy's and Jimmy's stepbrother Eric and his three stepsisters Felicia, Gina, and Catherine ("Cat"). Baby Ryan had adored Sarah from the first and came to look for Sue when Sarah or his mother wasn't around. Four-year-old Conner (a girl) was indifferent to Sue most of the time but took to Sarah immediately.
In fact, word of Sarah Kino's knack with small children spread through the neighborhood rapidly. In a month, she was pulling in nearly as much money baby-sitting as her "sister" did working twenty hours a week at a fast food restaurant. Sarah Kino wasn't shy about asking for what she thought she was worth, and she had an uncanny ability to guess what her customers were really willing to pay.
She could have earned more, but with the disappearances continuing, fewer and fewer couples were going out and leaving their children with sitters. And Sarah took the lion's share of what sitter jobs were available for about a square mile. Some of the girls at her middle school noticed that she was sitting for families they used to sit for. They started talking about her, and which led to rumors, which led to factions. Only one of the girls was foolish enough to start a fight with Sarah Kino, though, and it did not last very long at all. And, unfortunately for the girl who started the fight, the vice-principal was one of the people who still went out with his wife. He weighed the possibility of losing his sitter against the bloody nose of the other girl. He then pointed out that he was inclined to believe Sarah, especially since the other girl appeared to be larger and stronger. He was prepared to backpedal, of course, if the other girl's parents brought in their lawyer.
When the school day ended, the girl who had fought Sarah and lost began walking away from the school when she saw Sarah, Nancy, and Kimberly come out to wait for their ride home.
Chibi-Usa noticed her walking away, put down her pack, and started running after the girl—who saw her and started running away.
"No, stay with us!" cried Kimberly.
Chibi-Usa called back, "I have to stop her!" She remembered Ashley leaving after she had pushed her into the punchbowl, and the horrible things that had happened to her when she ran away afterward.
Kimberly started running after Chibi-Usa, but Nancy stopped her. "No, no, we've got to wait for Jimmy and Sue," she said. She would have run after them herself, if she didn't have Kimberly to watch out for.
"Bonnie, don't run away!" cried Chibi Usa, but the girl was getting further away. She was not much of a fighter by her standards, but she was a good runner, and had longer legs. In a few moments, Bonnie turned a corner, and Chibi-Usa knew she would lose her.
She stopped, and looked around. It was not a good place—a half-built condo development, where no one had worked for awhile. There wasn't anyone else closer than people in cars on the freeway, quite a distance away.
There was no answer.
She transformed, and flew up high enough to look around.
"There she is!" shouted Kimberly, pointing out the window at what drivers on the freeway thought was a bird.
Jimmy had come by with Usagi, and they had taken off looking for Chibi-Usa immediately. Usagi was already getting out of her clothes so they wouldn't be ruined by her transformation. She shouted to Jimmy, "Stop, let me out." It was in Japanese, but he either had learned enough words or made a good guess, because he stopped. She still had her jeans on, but she transformed anyway, trailing a cloud of denim confetti as she rose up.
"Well, at least she's still got her undies," mumbled Nancy. Jimmy peeled off to follow Usagi.
They didn't have to go very far. Nancy wanted to get out, but Kimberly dissolved into fear, and Nancy held her, waiting in the car, while Jimmy ran out to see what he could do. Usagi and Chibi-Usa were bent over a girl, and they were trying to get her to breathe. The girl was naked and there was blood, but not pools or streams of it.
Then they got the girl up and brought her to the car. Jimmy let the passenger seat all the way back and down so the girl could almost lie down. There was just enough room left for Kimberly and Nancy if they squeezed close together, but that was no problem at all.
Jimmy drove to the nearest hospital. Nancy wondered how Sailor Moon and Chibi Moon were going to get back home, but not much—she was busy comforting Kimberly and watching over the girl—she didn't know who it was but Kimberly told her it was Bonnie, and that she had been in a fight with Chibi-Usa. Since Nancy had been with Chibi-Usa for a good bit of the day and hadn't been told, she was a little miffed. But then, some police had "a few questions . . ."
Bonnie Riordon had been assaulted in Detective Ateminski's jurisdiction, but on his day off. By the time he'd heard of the incident, it was after dark. He had been thinking about looking up the Kino girls, but now everyone was looking for them—Sue Kino's boyfriend said he'd last seen them where they'd found Bonnie Riordon. But there was no sign of them on the scene. The Leary-Ferrarra family were frantic with worry, and they weren't the only ones. Sarah Kino seemed to have become a local celebrity, judging from the number of calls about her from private citizens.
Arteminski had a hunch. Instead of joining the interrogation of the kids who'd brought in the Riordon girl, he decided to head to the Leary-Ferrara home. It was closer to where he happened to be when he got the news, anyway.
It was pitch dark and quite cold when he got to the house. He got out his night scope, a gadget he'd paid over three grand for and had given up any hope of getting the department to buy. He looked around a bit, put it back in its case, and then went in to see the Leary-Ferrara family. He called them all downstairs, spoke for a few minutes, and then told them to stay downstairs while he looked around their rooms for clues—if it was all right. They bought it. Once he was upstairs, he simply opened the biggest window, and let the girls fly in. He'd seen them hiding in a tree with his scope.
"Thank you, Arteminski-sama," whispered the older one, a gorgeous vision in wings, pink panties, and a bra that showed more bosom than he'd expected. The little one was completely naked, and Arteminski turned away from her.
"What story do you want to tell them?"
He heard drawers open and close, carefully, quietly; then, the rustle of cloth. "Say we came home and were so tired we went right to sleep," the big one said behind him, after a few moments. A little more rustling, and he heard snoring.
He turned around. They'd lost their wings, and had both slipped into flannel nighties. The big one was sound asleep. The little one was in the same bed, snuggling up to the big one, looking at him, but dreamily.
He waited rather longer than he should have before going back downstairs. These girls—or whatever they were—simply trusted him. They had weighed his heart, and found it trustworthy.
He decided he would ask for their help. But not tonight, and not until their latest mess cleared up.
He talked to them the next day, at their schools. He managed to get his partner for the day to leave each interrogation long enough for the girls to give him the gist of what really happened. It was not terribly helpful, but it was a piece of the puzzle he would never have got from anyone.
The facts they gave him were that the little one had found Bonnie Riordon perhaps two minutes after losing sight of her. Somehow, in that short space of time, the girl had been stripped, sexually assaulted, and suffocated, and the perpetrator had vanished. They couldn't have saved her if they had found her a few minutes later—even now, doctors told him there was probably some brain damage from the loss of circulation to the Riordon girl's brain. They gave varying opinions about whether or not that was responsible for her outlandish story. That is, Bonnie Riordon said that angels had saved her. "Moon Angels."
Other cops came up with the theory that Jimmy Uer was the perpetrator. Arteminski responded to these allegations with laughter. "And he takes her to a hospital? Not to mention the fact that there were never less than two witnesses with him the whole time?"
"So who is the perp?" asked one of them. "Watanabe?"
"Not on this one. In fact, the odds are this wasn't our guy. Or guys. This one looks like a crime of opportunity. Try this: a transient camps out at this place; he finds this kid just dropping in his lap and he starts doing her. Then he panics, smothers her, and runs off when the other kids show up."
"That's your theory?"
"That's a theory, but it's pretty good one. I can come up with more. So should you. Turn loose of the Uer kid. The girl's family thinks he's some kind of saint now. Not only are you wrong on this one, you could get your testicles smashed if you go any further. Don't. That's an order, incidentally."
Arteminski was a Sergeant, but there was no senior Detective sergeant to him in his department.
The father under arrest for murdering his daughter as being held in a solitary cell. Child-killers are not liked in jails by guards or prisoners. He was not a wealthy man, and no one else came forward to make his bail. So, he stayed in a windowless cell twenty-three hours a day. His wife stopped visiting him, becoming convinced that he must be guilty.
Detective Arteminski brought the Kino girls in, explaining that he wanted them to see the man, to see if they recognized him. It was b.s., of course, but they were allowed in. Once inside the interrogation room, the big one simply looked at the cameras for a moment, and then at the monitoring officer—who slumped down in his chair, asleep.
"I am afraid I have ruined the cameras," she said.
Arteminski shrugged. "I didn't know you could put people to sleep."
"I did not know I could until last week. I wished this policeman who was asking Jimmy all these bad questions would just go to sleep, and he did."
"Maybe that is why okasan sleeps so well," said the little one. Then they stepped out of their overcoats and transformed in front of the man whose life had been destroyed. He spoke very little English, so Sergeant Arteminski asked him questions in Spanish. Not many. The girls told him that his heart was clear.
"He is thinking of his daughter," said the big one to Arteminski, watching the man cry. "He does not want to live without her. He is thinking about how to make a noose from his blanket and hang himself." She turned to Arteminski. "We must tell his wife he did not do it."
Looking at the little one trying to soothe the man, Arteminski replied, "Yes. But I need you to do something else first."
The man arrested for killing his daughter was let go two days later, and his wife took him home. The police department launched an internal investigation to find out how the evidence disappeared, but no one was punished. Since there were rumors the evidence had been planted, the department said nothing more about the matter than they had to, until the girl's murder was forgotten by most people, as more and more girls vanished . . .
Detective Arteminski looked in on the Riordon girl at her hospital the day before she was released. He talked to the doctor in charge of her case, and found out that he had kept her so long because he was worried about her "moon angels" story. But the girl finally said that she must have dreamed it. Since she seemed to be lucid again, the doctor kept her another couple of days to see if she would slip back, and also checked for any sign of nerve damage.
"No, none that I can find. In fact, I doubt if she actually ever stopped breathing. The kids who found her weren't EMT's, after all."
"Yes." He looked at the paper cranes hanging in strings at the foot of the girl's bed. "Did the Kino girls come to visit her?"
"Why, yes, they brought those things you see hanging there."
"When did they come? About two days ago?"
"Why, yes—how did you guess?"
"Just a hunch."