Complications - Part One by becca-oneechan 10/12/97 firstname.lastname@example.org Oy! This part was certainly long enough in coming (almost a month - Ack!)! Hopefully Part Two won't be as problematic. And I sure hope this was worth the wait, and all the time I spent struggling with it (three rewrites and a lot of tears. =P)! If not... well, Part Two should be a corker!! Heh-heh-heh.... "Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko. --Complications-- *becca-oneechan* "Part One- A Friend in Need" "Do you ever feel like something's missing...?" Osaka Naru blinked at her friend, a little startled by Usagi's pensive tone of voice. "Neh?" She gave the question a little thought, feeling the familiar stab of pain. "H-hai. Every day." It was Usagi's turn to blink, then an expression of understanding, compassion, concern crossed her soft young face. "Naru-chan...." "What could be missing?" Naru hurried to ask, before Usagi could say anything further. "You have a loving family, a good home, a ton of friends, and a gorgeous, successful, *adult* boyfriend who helps you with your homework. What more do you need?" Usagi shook her head, still looking oddly introspective. "That's what I can't figure out." She planted her chin on her hand and stared into nothing, her warm blue eyes dark. Naru hid a small smile. She knew Usagi was going to go see Kunzite after school, because the long golden hair was unbound from the usual odangos and captured in a thick braid. It was a little difficult to get used to, but it sure made Usagi look a lot older, and more mature. Not that her current expression harmed that illusion any either.... "Hm...." Naru joined her golden-haired friend in brooding, though their thoughts weren't on the same things. "Maybe you--" "Hey, girls!" "Ack! Umino!" Naru glared silently at the boy as Usagi belabored him about the head, trying to pound it through that thick skull that they didn't like being snuck up upon. She sighed. It wouldn't do any good. If you were to look up the word 'oblivious' in the dictionary, it was likely you'd find Umino's picture next to it. Or maybe that would be 'persistent'. The two exasperated girls couldn't shake their uninvited guest, even with blunt instruments, and the bell for the end of lunch went without their getting anything of real consequence discussed. Naru sighed as she began the slow, lonely walk home. Usagi was spending far more time with her this past month than she had been the previous seven or more, but on Saturdays she went over to her boyfriend's after school to cook him dinner and watch videos. Actually, Usagi went over to Kunzite's most afternoons, for he was both willing and adept at helping the blonde with her homework. At those times Naru was invited along, and she enjoyed it, because Kunzite was a really sweet guy and could make sense out of the hardest problems, explaining them so that even Usagi understood. But Saturdays were Usagi and Kunzite's private sessions. Naru didn't mind, not at all. She was glad for Usagi. But tonight... just tonight, she felt a little jealous. Because of the reminder at lunch. Usagi hadn't been the one, really. She'd brought it on herself. But that didn't mean it hurt any less.... It hadn't been so very long ago she'd been totally, completely, blissfully in love. Now... she had nothing. Well, that wasn't quite true. She had Usagi, and a friend like that went a long way toward easing her pain. But nothing could heal the hole that had been torn from her heart that night.... It was all so clear in her mind, even though it had been over three months ago. Twelve weeks. Ninety days.... Eighty nine restless nights.... She could count on her fingers how many nights she'd slept through without dreaming over again the death of the man she loved. Well, he hadn't been a man. His blood hadn't even been the right color. But he'd been warm, and alive, and handsome, and had treated her as kindly as his evil nature had allowed him to. She was certain of that much. And he had, eventually, fallen. Or perhaps ascended. Come to the light, to the acceptance of... even the pursuit of... love, life, laughter.... Just before all three had been rent from him forcibly. Naru sighed unhappily. Nephrite hadn't been evil, really. Just... misguided. Oh, okay. Maybe he had been evil. He'd used her for his own ends, time and again. But... she had let him do so. Had been a willing pawn in his game. And he really had been softening toward the end. Had been honest with her, even in his falsehoods. She smiled slightly. He'd been so startled when she'd told him that she knew he was lying and even more so when she said that she didn't care. But how could she hold anything against him? She loved him. He had been... her heart. And now he was gone. There was an empty place inside her, and nothing was going to fill it, ever. In time it might heal over a little, not hurt as much, but it would never disappear. She didn't want it to. As much as it ached, she couldn't just forget him. That would be dishonoring to his memory and the memory of her love for him. She didn't know if he loved her back. But he had rescued her, more than once. And he had died for her. Even if he didn't love her in those hours before his death, she was certain he would have come to love her eventually. If he hadn't died. No, he hadn't 'died'. He had been killed. Murdered. That was the only word for it. She could still remember the gloating look in those bright jade green eyes, plastered on the pretty face. That... that bakayaro! Oh, she knew he hadn't struck the fatal blow. Hadn't struck a single blow. But he'd been directing those youma-women that *had* killed Nephrite. Had ordered his death. His murder. It was all *his* fault. The youma- women had been merely following instructions. Naru wondered what had ever happened to that man. The one who had taken Nephrite from her. Who had stripped her love of his life, just when he was ready to begin living it. She didn't even know his name, or what his enmity toward Nephrite had been. She wished she knew. It might make the pain a little less, just to know why Nephrite had died. She could feel the hot rush of tears to her eyes and throat, so horribly familiar, and tried desperately to stifle them. She was still several blocks from her home; she couldn't break down now. "Naru-chan!" She jumped, startled from her tears and her deep thoughts. "Nanii?" She turned to see Makoto barreling down on her, Ami in tow. The shorter girl had a book in one hand, her other hand clasped tightly in Mako's, and a slightly peeved expression on her face. Naru hid a sudden smile. "Hey, what's wrong, Naru-chan?" asked Mako in concern. "You look so bummed!" Naru sighed. "Nothing, Mako-chan." "People don't cry over nothing," Ami said softly, cocking her dark head. Naru flushed and scrubbed at her tell-tale damp eyes. Mako and Ami had both changed in the past month. Naru knew.... She knew about Usagi being Sailor Moon. And Usagi sort of knew she knew, though neither girl said anything to the other. Every time one of them tried something interrupted, like Umino had this noon. Naru wanted to assure Usagi that she didn't in any way blame Sailor Moon for not arriving in time to save Nephrite, but she just couldn't seem to call up enough courage to broach the subject. Because she knew if she did, she'd start crying and she didn't know if she'd be able to stop. Things had changed, though, a month ago. No more people collapsing from lack of energy, no more wild reports of youma attacks, no more Sailor Moon.... Naru wasn't sure what to think, but she knew something big had gone down. Minako and Rei were even more different than before, and Mamoru was usually *nice* to Usagi, something Naru wouldn't have thought possible. It was a month ago she'd waken up screaming from a dream she couldn't remember. A month ago she'd felt something different, something changed. It was as if the whole world was changed, and it had taken her days to get used to the feeling. She had even been distracted from her grief for that time. She gazed at the two girls before her. Mako looked like her old self, but she was less aggressive than she had been before, less inclined to act rashly. She hadn't been in a single fight at school for the past month. Her grades weren't a lot better, but she seemed to be more interested in her studies than she had been. And she spent a lot less time with Usagi than she used to, even though they were still friends. Ami's changes were more obvious. She was more outspoken, held herself taller, spent more time with Mako and her other friends than formerly. She still studied and got near-perfect grades, but school no longer consumed her every hour. And even looking at her showed the changes. She was growing her short hair out a little, and her clothing choices were brighter and less staid than previously. She liked bright colors, that was obvious, and she seemed to actively avoid the color blue. As a result she looked less washed-out, more vibrant, and was not eclipsed by Mako's strong presence. Naru sighed. Whatever had happened to change them... why hadn't it changed her? She wouldn't mind losing her pain.... "Hey, where's Usagi-chan?" Naru and Ami both gave Mako matching incredulous looks. "It's Saturday evening. Where do you think she is?" "Oops!" Mako blushed. "Er...." "Do you want to come study with us, Naru-chan?" Ami asked, ignoring Mako's loud groan at the word 'study', though her eyes flared with something suspiciously like humor. "Since Usagi-chan has deserted you...." "No thank you," Naru said politely. "I... I appreciate the offer, but I think tonight I would like to be alone." Ami gave her a sympathetic look. Naru knew full well Ami had been Sailor Mercury, had been there when Nephrite had died. Though she didn't think Ami knew she knew, not being as close to her as Usagi was. "All right. Just don't let yourself get too down, neh? Ja ne!" "Bai-bai, Naru-chan," Mako waved as Ami took her turn in dragging the taller girl away. "Ami-chan, why do we have to study?" Naru heard her whining as the two moved down the sidewalk. "It's Saturday! We don't have to go back to school 'til Monday!" The only answer Naru could make out was a deep sigh, then the two were out of range. She giggled a little to herself, putting aside her bleak mood with no regrets. They certainly were a mis-matched pair. Oh well, they could make it work. After all, if Usagi and Kunzite could get along.... She hefted her school bag more firmly and strode with determination toward her home. She still wasn't sure how Usagi had snagged a guy like Kunzite. Not that she didn't love Usagi. She knew how sweet and open-hearted her friend was, and Usagi was certainly one of the most beautiful girls she knew. But.... Well, jeez! The guy was in his early twenties, was a successful artist, and was absolutely gorgeous! Naru certainly wasn't jealous, nor did she consider that Usagi was unworthy of Kunzite, but... she still wondered. He'd shown up in Usagi's life a month ago. How... curious. Naru got strange little inklings of ideas when she thought on that fact too hard, and she didn't like them at all. So she tried to avoid thinking them. Kunzite was just a normal guy. Nicer, more gentlemanly, more intelligent than most of the guys Naru had ever met, but normal. Normal, normal, normal!! No matter how many times she told herself that, she just couldn't bring herself to believe it. She sighed again, more confused and unsettled now than depressed. She wasn't sure which was worse. "Art-kun!" Naru jumped as a high, feminine voice called out behind her. She glanced back quickly. Ah. It was Usagi's 'new' 'friend'. She smirked. Quite a coincidence that this fresh young woman who had shown up just a month ago had the same name as Usagi's vanished cat. Not to mention the deep purple hair and the delicate, round face. Naru sometimes amused herself imagining whiskers sprouting from those smooth cheeks. There was little difference. Today Luna was dressed in a small yellow dress and yellow pumps, with a bright yellow-dyed straw hat to top it all off. She looked impossibly kawaii. No wonder she was growing ever more well known as a model. Right now she was jumping up and down excitedly, waving a tiny white-gloved hand frantically. Naru wondered what she was so flushed about, and slowed her steps, lingering slightly. Not really eavesdropping... just overhearing.... Yeah, right. Art -- who Naru would swear had been Minako's 'pet', up until a month ago -- dashed past her, wearing a nice black suit with a denim shirt underneath. His white hair was tousled, and there was a slightly frantic expression on his face. Naru wondered what on Earth was going on, and came to a standstill, facing a little away, unashamedly listening to the two. She felt she'd die of curiosity if she didn't find out what they were up to! "Well?" Art asked breathlessly, screeching to a halt before Luna. "Well? What did he say? What is it? What? What?" "Quiet!" Luna commanded, clapping a hand over Art's mouth to halt his babbling. She took a deep breath, and both Art and Naru held theirs. "It was positive!" she squealed. Naru bit back a wide grin as Art yelled in delight, swinging an ecstatic Luna around in a huge hug. Then she went on her way, smiling happily, giggling slightly. Wait until Usagi got *this* news! She'd blow a gasket, that's for sure! Naru felt a little guilty for sort of spying on the two, but if they had meant it to be a private moment, they wouldn't have been shouting at each other in front of the doctor's offices. And the news greatly cheered her up, so all in all, she didn't feel *too* bad. She was certainly happy for them. Luna would have to put her modeling career on hold for a while, but Naru doubted she'd mind too much.... Singing a little song, Naru started skipping slightly. She was almost home, and maybe tonight she wouldn't cry herself to sleep, like she'd been planning. Maybe tonight she wouldn't dream of-- HIM!! She froze, feeling her world turn upside down around her. Everything locked, and her whole body turned to ice. She couldn't move, could speak, couldn't SCREAM, as the tall auburn man strode from the building before her and climbed into his shiny red Ferrari, all without glancing once in her direction. She couldn't see his face, not even a profile, but she knew him as well as she knew her own reflection in the mirror. It was Nephrite. In his Sanjouin Masato disguise. It was Nephrite. Alive. Not dead. The car door slammed. The engine roared. The car was gone. Naru collapsed to the hard pavement, scraping her knees but not caring. Her world had just come apart. Nephrite was alive. Nephrite was alive, and hadn't come to her. She whimpered, ignoring the young man who stopped and asked her if she was all right. Why hadn't he come to her? He knew where she lived. He MUST have come back a month ago, when the strangeness had happened. Why hadn't he-- "WHY?!" Naru shrieked, leaping to her feet. She turned and sped back the way she had come. There was only one person she could turn to for help. *** It was nice apartment. Homey. Cluttered without being messy. Warm and inviting. Hard to believe it had only been lived in for a month. The living room never failed to make Usagi blush, every time she walked into it. Everywhere she looked, there she was. Kunzite had plastered all available wallspace between the five bookshelves with photographs, sketches, and paintings, almost all of Usagi. The photos were tacked or taped up, with one or two professional ones in simple frames. There were close-ups of Usagi laughing, more distant shots of her walking or sitting. There were moments captured joking with Luna, tousling with Mako, studying quietly with Naru.... Pictures of Usagi playing volleyball with Minako, pushing Ami into a swimming pool, riding on the back of Art's motorcycle, arguing with Rei.... Most of the photos, though, were of Usagi with Kunzite, or alone. The sketches were from all angles and in every medium, from charcoal to acrylics. But all the paintings were oil. And they were the masterworks. Every stroke of the brush showed the love that had gone into the painting. Every painting glowed with a light and life that captured its subject perfectly. And every painting was of Usagi. The largest painting was in a place of honor, between two laden bookshelves. It was life-size, stretching nearly from the floor to the ceiling in its intricate golden frame. It was breathtaking, everyone who saw it agreed. Kunzite had been offered amazing sums by many galleries to be allowed to display it, but he had sworn up and down that it would never leave his apartment. And so far it never had. It was Usagi. Her golden hair flowing loose down her back and over her shoulders. She was clad in a filmy white gown, thin gold bangles at her slim wrists. Her face was upraised, her blue eyes warm with love. She held her hands before her, slender fingers splayed. A small galaxy of white stars danced at her breast, and brilliant white wings arched above and behind her against a deep indigo background. It was almost as beautiful as the real Usagi. The rest of the apartment proclaimed it to be that of a regular man, though one a bit more well-read and slightly less sloppy than most. The bookshelves were crammed with everything from peeling classics to brand new manga. There were several shelves for videos, and a nice entertainment system sat in a spot of honor. There was a coffee table covered in tattered periodicals, and a few pieces of comfortable, overstuffed furniture. A heavy leather jacket was thrown carelessly over the chair back, and a few of the couch cushions had fallen to the floor, but overall the place looked more crowded than actually messy. It looked like a home. *** "Kunzite, where do you want me to put the left-over--" --CRASH!-- "Um... never mind...." Kunzite winced, then shook his head and smiled affectionately, racking up another broken bowl. He always lost at least a couple bowls, plates, anything that was breakable, whenever Usagi came over to cook for him. And then there was the incredible mess she made of the kitchen. But he considered it well worth the price. After all, it wasn't as though he couldn't afford new flatware, and she always cleaned up after herself, with his help. Which actually, though he never would have thought it before the fact, always made for a pleasant evening. He must like the domestic feel, since he absolutely hated cleaning up after himself when he was home alone. And, besides, despite the chaos she created, she managed to cook some really excellent meals. He was constantly amazed at how something that looked so... er, well, *bad*... could taste so good. "You *do* know where the broom is, don't you, Usa-chan?" he called, gathering up the last three bowls and a plate off the dining area table. "Of course! But... um... actually, I sorta need the mop." Kunzite sighed and headed for the kitchen, hearing a yelp from Usagi, then a loud clatter from the broom closet. "Usa-chan, are you all ri--" Then it was his turn to yell as the kitchen door flew open in his face, slamming into him and knocking the bowls and plate he'd been balancing onto the floor. Usagi stood in the doorway, hands clapped over her mouth, her warm blue eyes wide. After a moment's silence, she threw herself into his arms, wailing. "OOOOH! Gomen nasai!! Are you okay, Kunzite?" "Ouch." He hugged her back, trying to ignore the ramen broth slowly soaking into his socks. "Yes, Usa-chan, though I doubt the carpet will ever be the same." He smiled and stroked her golden hair as she looked up at him tearfully. "Don't worry. I have a special account at the bank I call the 'Usagi-Disaster-Fund'. I'll just call the professional cleaners tomorrow." Usagi sniffled and looked at him suspiciously. "Are you teasing me?" Kunzite grinned more sharply. "A little. Now--" He was interrupted as a frantic pounding suddenly rattled the door. "Nanii?" He strode quickly across the room, hoping to get there before whoever was out there broke the door down. No sooner was the knob turned than a blur of dark red and school blue and white slammed into his chest. "Oh, Kunzite-kun!" Naru wailed, sobbing wildly, her whole body shaken with the force of her tears. "Naru-chan?" Naru raised her head, her face stark and white, her dark eyes huge and pain-filled. "Usagi-chan, I need your help!!" ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Some after Notes: For those of you who aren't aware, school in Japan goes from Monday to Saturday. Sunday is the only day the students have off. So, no, I did not make several monster-typos. ^_^ (At least, not regarding that....) Also, I figure it was FAR more than two months between Nephrite's death and the ending of the first season, considering the girls were wearing summer clothes in some of the Zoisite episodes, and it was snowing when Endymion tried to 'collect' the former nijizuishou bearers. However, for the sake of this fanfic, I shortened the time. Usually I try to be more accurate, but... neh, oh well. Lastly, I'm a bit peeved that on the anime, Mamoru doesn't have a single picture of Usagi in his apartement (see the fifth "Dead Moon Circus" episode), but that's not the only reason Kunzite has his apartment plastered with her face. I am an artist, and I find photos of the people I love VERY important. Also, I like to put my own art up on my walls. So... Kunzite, being an artist, is, like me, a very visually oriented person. Plus he loves Usagi very much. So it's only natural for him to cover his walls with her face and form! (What's unnatural is Mamoru's seeming shame over the fact that she's his girlfriend, but, hey, you all know by now that I hate Mamo-slime, so I'll get off that subject. ^_^) Until Part Two!! Ja ne!!