But he wasn't just a photographer; he was a grandfather. Minako watched him holding his little granddaughter for a long time from a landing on one of the staircases. Then she watched Usagi's mother sit down with him, kiss him, and lean against him while she rubbed the baby's head and body, arms and legs. And Minako began to cry.
Then she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around, and saw it was Usagi. Wiping off her tears and sniffling, she said, "I thought you were down there."
"I came up the other stairs," said Usagi quietly. "I saw you here. Why are you crying?"
Minako said, "Oh, it is so wonderful, seeing your parents with your daughter."
"It is wonderful, but that is not why you are crying, is it?" Before Minako could answer, or decide if she would answer, Usagi said, "Come, let's go to your room. They will see us soon."
Once they entered the large room Minako shared with her mother and Mako, Usagi said, "I've noticed you don't talk about your father much. Neither does your Mom."
Minako asked, "Did you find out from your Mom?"
"I'd rather find out from you," said Usagi.
Minako took a moment to draw in a breath. "Otousan has left mother . . . he wants to marry someone else. He fell in love with a girl, and they are going to have a baby together."
Usagi said, "That is sad, but it does not mean your father will stop loving you."
"No, but . . ." Minako hesitated.
"Otousan is not really my father. Okasan really had me a little before she met him. She could not have any other children. But my father . . . the man I thought was my father . . . I guess he always wanted to have a child who was really his."
Usagi embraced her.
After she cried for a little while, Minako said, "I guess it is funny. I am the Sailor Fighter of Venus, the planet named for the goddess of love. It is only natural, that I be a love child."
"Did you know?" asked Usagi.
Minako said, "No . . . No, mama just told me. She told me after you had Chibi-Usa."
"'Sarah Ami Uer' That is the name I gave her. An American-style name." Usagi held her very tightly for a long moment. "I wish you would call her 'Sarah.'"
"Why are you crying?" asked Minako.
Usagi would not tell her why she was crying. But she did tell Minako it was not her fault that the man she had known as her father had left her mother.
When they had both stopped crying, at least for now, Minako asked Usagi,"Can you have any more children?"
"Yes," answered Usagi. "I suppose."
Minako said, "So, if you do change your mind and get back with Mamoru--"
Usagi looked angry for a moment, and Minako stopped talking. But then Usagi's face softened. "What Mamoru had with me, he cannot have again. We are no longer destined for each other. I will always love Mamo-chan. That is why I want to see him find the one who is really for him."
"Rei? Or Ami, now? She is going to some function at Stanford in a few days. With Mamoru."
"I know. I'm happy for her. But if Ami should not be the right one, why not you? Who better to make him learn to love again than the goddess of Love?"
Minako shook her head, but then stopped, and said. "Maybe. But I just cannot imagine that it will not be you with Mamoru, that you will not be the queen someday."
"I thought you were the Moon Princess, at first. You could be the queen, if there is ever need for a queen. At least you could lead the senshi again. There's no reason I have to be the leader now. I am not even sure I will ever return to Japan."
The man who was arrested and identified by Nancy was released from jail, by mistake. The jail did not discover its error for several days. In the meantime . . .
Makoto woke up in the early hours, couldn't get to sleep, and decided to make a hot little chocolate. She checked at Usagi's room and found she was up, nursing, talking lowly with Nancy. She said, "I am going to make some hot chocolate. Do you want some?"
They were both up for it, so they all went to the kitchen in the back of the house.
While Mako started preparing the chocolate, she asked, "What were you talking about? I mean, if it isn't private."
Usagi said, "We were talking about what to do before Nancy goes home with her family."
Nancy said, "And I was saying I could stay--"
Usagi cut her off: "And I was telling her why she cannot! And I won't say it again."
"Why are you so bothered to go home?" asked Makoto. "I thought you lived close to Stanford, where Chiba-san is studying. That is not very far from here."
Nancy Uer looked at Mako for a moment, glanced at Usagi, and turned back to Mako. "We lived near Stanford when Sue--Usagi--stayed with us. But we live far away from here, now."
For some reason, Makoto wasn't really satisfied with that answer, but she stirred the pan of chocolate again, keeping the skim from forming. "That is sad to hear, but you should be with your family. You never know how long you will have them . . . Usako, I have no family, really. I am of age now. I can stay here as long as I like. As long as you want me to stay." The chocolate was almost ready. Mako took the pan off the stove and poured the chocolate it into cups. She shaved a little hard chocolate into each cup, and squeezed a lemon wedge into hers. "Do you take lemon in your chocolate, Nancy?"
"No, thanks." Nancy had risen already, and she took her cup and Usagi's cup back to the table. Mako saw her hold the cup to Usagi's lips. Makoto remembered now that Usagi held her baby with both arms when she nursed it, never freeing a hand for more than a moment or two, almost as if she were afraid someone would take it from her . . .
No one said much for a few minutes. Mako looked at Usagi, and sometimes at Nancy, wondering if there was something she should ask. And she pictured Mamoru with them, tending Usagi and Chibi-Usa--no, this can't be Chibi-Usa, not the one we knew, even if we keep calling her that . . .
The silence was broken just after both Nancy and Mako reached for Usagi's cup. Nancy surrendered the cup to Mako, and they both laughed for a moment. While giving Usagi another few sips, Mako said, "Why haven't you told me to go after Chiba-san? Don't you think I'm as good as Ami, or Rei, or Minako?"
Usagi retorted, "Of course I don't think that! See him. See if anything happens. Unless you have someone else you haven't told me about. Motoki?"
Makoto said, "No, there is nothing between me and Motoki."
"How are you sure?" asked Usagi.
"He is seeing Reika again," said Makoto.
"Then what about--"
Makoto cut Usagi off with: "No. I've told you, many times. He is my friend. If I try to make him more, I'm sure I will lose him."
"Maybe I should leave," said Nancy.
Mako shook her head. "No. Maybe you can help talk some sense into Usako's thick head."
Usagi smiled at Makoto, very sadly.
Makoto went on. "I am usually the one who answers when Chiba-san calls here. I know that he still loves you. He thinks that it is his fault that you found another love. I know you must have loved Jimmy with all your heart, but he is gone now and Chiba-san is not. Won't you at least talk with him?"
Usagi shook her head. "No. No, you should know from Minako that I won't see Mamo-chan until he finds someone else. That is how things must be. It could be anyone with a good heart, but I think he would be better with another senshi."
Makoto glanced at Nancy, who said quietly, "Yeah, I know. I guess Haruka didn't tell anyone, except maybe Michiru."
Makoto did not have long to puzzle over that because Usagi continued: "You would be good for him. You are strong enough to stand up to him, put him in his place when he needs to be. And you could take care of him better than I ever could. He is really much like my otousan; he needs a lot of taking-care-of, even if he won't let himself see that he does."
Usagi spoke in a commanding voice. "Listen, Princess of Jupiter. If my okasan and otousan and even Nancy-chan and her mother cannot make me change my mind about Mamoru, you will not. If you want to help Mamoru, do it as yourself. Or help someone else with him. If you help make Mamoru happy again, that will make me happy. Now, would someone please give me some chocolate, before it gets cold?"
They all sat in silence for some time. Then there was noise . . . a creaking scratch, a thump, a crack. It was coming from somewhere else in the house, and they would never have noticed it if they hadn't stopped talking.
Makoto got up quietly and switched off the lights. She tried the phone--it was dead. She found Nancy beside her, who whispered, "Not working, right?"
"No, it does not work," said Makoto, realizing she did not have her henshin wand.
Nancy said, "That figures. Whoever's out there was smart enough to get around the security system. Sue, you can go out the back--"
"No. I will take care of it," said Usagi, in a normal tone of voice.
Makoto was so amazed that she froze, and she noticed that Nancy seemed unable to respond, either. Usagi got up and walked out through the inside door of the kitchen, switching on lights as she entered the huge front room the rest of the mansion was built around. Mako heard Usagi call out, "Over here. You do not have to sneak any more. We know you are here."
Mako could hear movement all through the house after that. Without thinking, she left the kitchen to approach Usagi, and Nancy was just ahead of her.
"You. You're the one," said a man's voice. "You're coming with me. The rest of you--"
Makoto saw that the man who was speaking had a gun.
Usagi interrupted the man with the gun. "No, Nancy. Stay. I do not want the gentleman to make any more mistakes."
"Listen--" the man with the gun started to say, but he stopped when Usagi spoke again.
"You can only shoot that gun once, I think," continued Usagi, cool as if she was talking to just another person she didn't particularly care for. "Before you can make it ready to shoot again, someone here might shoot you. Or something. Or someone might get away, and when they catch you, you could be put to death. Especially if you shoot me and my baby. No lawyer could save you if do that . . . Hotaru, no."
The man looked behind him and saw Hotaru, in her Saturn form, readying her long glaive from a landing. Mako did not know what to think--in another second, Hotaru could have cut him in half. He would never have noticed the Senshi of Silence approaching unless Usagi had not said what she had.
"Put that thing down! Or I'll kill her!" shouted the man.
Mako did not have her henshin to transform, but that did not stop her from bounding toward the man while his back was turned. But before she reached him, Usagi's voice called. "Mako-chan, Nancy, everyone, stop! Everyone, let him alone, until I am finished with him!"
Mako halted, perhaps three paces short of the man. He twisted around, and around again. Mako could see why he was now terrified. Sailor Pluto had joined Hotaru on the landing, and the garnet-orb on her time-staff was glowing, ready to loose her attack at an instant. On another landing, Uranus and Neptune were both transformed, both holding their talismans, and both looked like they wanted to see the man very, very dead. Behind him, had Minako landed, not transformed, but holding her practice staff as if she meant to use it. Mako realized that if the man had not been spooked, Minako could have knocked him out--even killed him. Rei and Ami were at the top of their stairway, but they were transformed, and Rei was so angry Mako saw that she had sparked a tiny fire, which Ami was dousing as best she could while watching the man.
Usagi spoke again, returning to that calm, yet somehow frightening tone she had used before. "You made a mistake coming here. Now, if you take me hostage, with my baby, that would be better than taking Nancy and killing her. You could tell Nancy to change her story to the police, and they would have to let you off again."
The man seemed to regain some of his confidence. "That sounds pretty good. But this is better. All of you, down here. Now!"
Usagi said leisurely, "Let's see . . . you are going to have us all tie each other up, right? So you're sure we don't call the police as soon as you go away?"
"You guessed right. Move, NOW!"
Mako saw Usagi shake her head. "No. No, we will not do that. After we were helpless, would just kill us all. After you had fun with the ones you wanted. And that is what you would have done with all the girls from now on, is it not? Kill them. You have been thinking about it for a long time, but now that you have to kill Nancy, why not? You have outsmarted everyone so far; this way, they will never put you in jail ever again."
The man actually smiled. "You think pretty good, for a blonde. Maybe I will do that. Maybe I'll let you live. But I'll tell you all one thing . . ." The man raised his gun and aimed it right at Usagi. "If you don't all come down here and get in front of me, I'm going to blow the baby's head off!"
Then Makoto saw Usagi take a step forward. The man pulled the trigger of his gun . . . but there was no shot.
Then Usagi transformed. The man hurled his gun at Sailor Moon, but she swatted it down with her black wings. For a moment, Mako could not see the man through Sailor Moon's great wings, but then she rose up over him.
She spoke again, in the same tone. "If you had just sat in jail for awhile, you would have probably gotten off. Nancy cannot stay to testify against you. All you had to do was wait for your day in court. But you are having your day here, in my court, the Court of the Moons. You are privileged; this may be the last time my court is gathered. And this is your sentence!"
Sailor Moon paused just a moment before saying, "In the name of my little moon, I punish you!"
When it was done, the man was a pile of dust.
Makoto dropped to her knees before being aware that she was doing it. She just knelt in shock until Minako and Nancy helped her up.
By that time, Makoto saw that everyone in the house had come downstairs into the huge parlor/ballroom that formed most of the front part of the mansion. Makoto noticed that Eric and his sisters did not seem to take any special notice of the transformed senshi. She noticed that even Setsuna, Sailor Pluto, was startled by the form Sailor Moon had taken--far different from any they had seen. And she noticed that Shingo was afraid.
Sailor Moon went to Shingo, but he drew back. She said, "Do not be afraid, Shingo. See? My little moon is not afraid." She held out her baby to Shingo. He came closer, and took the baby into his arms. Sailor Moon slipped behind him and put her arms around him and her baby, and her great black wings. "See, Shingo? You should not be afraid. My brave little moon is not afraid. My brave, brave little moon . . ."
Then Sailor Moon began to weep.
Mako gathered around her, along with everyone else. Her mother, and Nancy's mother, put their around Sailor Moon as best they could, and everyone else backed off a little to let them, except for Eric and his little half-sister--the half-sister was small enough to get very close, and Sailor Moon hugged her too. Naru knelt before them all, and put out her comforting hand.
Sailor Moon said, "Now everyone but otousan knows. I told him once, but he was not really listening . . ." But then she began to weep again, worse than before.
Mako looked around, and finally registered on what Nancy had become, and suddenly knew why Nancy knew so much about the senshi. Mako moved next to Nancy, and asked, "Have you seen her in this form?"
"Yes," said Nancy. "Once."
Then Sailor Moon told Makoto and the other senshi how she had taken the form of a Death Angel.
Previous: Ami and Usagi
Next: The Senshi Make a Decision
Story Index Main Index