.moon by night

Silver and Steel by Nephthys Moon

Waking Dream  next
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Silver and Steel: Chapter 1 - Waking Dream

“She’s waking up!”

That voice sounded like her mother’s, Tsukino Usagi thought sleepily. Why was her mother so worried? It was still dark outside; she couldn’t possibly be late for school yet.

“Usagi-chan, can you hear me?”

That was her father, she acknowledged, opening one bleary eye. She forced herself to focus, wondering why she was in a white room – her walls were pink. She slowly peeled her other eye open, taking in the peculiar sight of her mother, father and brother standing over her and a white-coated doctor standing at the foot of her bed. A doctor?

Usagi struggled to concentrate, her eyes darting cautiously around the room that she could clearly see was not her bedroom at home; in fact, if she were forced to hazard a guess, she would have to say that she was in a hospital, but why on earth would she be in the hospital?

“Usagi-chan?” her mother said, leaning over her. She nodded. “Do you know where you are?”

“Hospital,” she ground out, her throat sore and her voice sounding rusty – as though she hadn’t used it in a long time.

“That’s right, baby,” her mother said encouragingly. Her father nodded. “Do you know why you’re here?” Usagi merely shook her head, uncertain if she wanted to try speaking again just yet.

“You were found in the middle of the road,” the doctor cut in. “You and several others were completely unconscious, like you’d been drained of your energy. The person that found you outside of his arcade called an ambulance and said that you’d all been attacked by one of those youma.”

Youma. The word brought an image to her head, a flash of a demon’s shadow that vanished when she tried to focus on it, completely tuning out the doctor. What was he talking about anyway? She had been attacked?

“Motoki-san has been by to visit you every day,” Tsukino Ikuko said, her voice fond. Usagi looked at her mother curiously. Motoki was the one that found her? He’d know what was going on. “He stops to visit Mako-chan, too.”

Mako-chan. A brief picture of a girl with softly curling brown hair in a high ponytail and large green eyes came to her before it, too, vanished. She shook her head. The name wasn’t familiar, though she felt it should be. The face – it went with that name, but who was it?

“You’ve been out for two weeks, Usagi-chan,” her father told her gently, and she felt her eyes widen. She’d been in a coma for two weeks? She looked to the doctor for confirmation, but found that he was gone. “There were ten of you found in the street. The doctor went to check on Minako-chan – apparently she is waking up now, too.”

Again, a flicker of recognition went through Usagi at the name, a mane of long, golden blonde hair and a bright, cheerful smile before the vision disappeared. Again, she felt she should know the name, but couldn’t understand why she didn’t.

“Mama,” she croaked. “Water?” Her mother nodded and rushed to bring her a small Styrofoam cup of ice water, which she gratefully took and gulped down, grateful for the cool wetness against her parched throat.

“Does anyone know for sure what happened?” Usagi asked, wondering why her parents were looking at each other so oddly.

“No, Usagi-chan,” her father said softly. “The doctors were hoping that one of you might be able to tell them when you woke up, though they warned us that you might not have any memory of the incident.” She shook her head.

“I don’t remember anything,” she whispered forlornly. “I feel like I should know the people you’re talking about and I can almost see their faces, but I don’t know who they are.” She felt like crying. It was completely terrifying to realize that she had no recollection of events that had landed her in the hospital.

“What’s the last thing you do remember, Usagi-chan?” Her mother’s voice was curious, but there was a hint of worry underneath it. Usagi didn’t blame her; it must be just as scary for her.

“I remember that I got a low grade on a test and you wouldn’t let me in the house, Mama,” she mumbled, concentrating. “And after everything I’d already been through that day, too,” she added reproachfully.

“What else happened that day?” This from her father.

“I got into a fight with that baka about my grades and before that Haruna-sensei made me stand in the hallway because I was late for class,” she mumbled, mentally growling at both that arrogant jerk and her teacher.

“That was three months ago, Usagi-chan,” her mother whispered softly, so softly she wasn’t sure she’d heard it. Usagi leaned back on her pillow, focusing on the ceiling; she’d lost three months of her life – no memories, nothing. “At least it explains why you don’t remember the girls; you haven’t known them that long.”

Usagi nodded a bit; that made sense, she supposed. Her parents leaned down and dropped a kiss on each cheek and her brother waved awkwardly and they left to let her ‘rest’. She figured she’d probably rested enough in the past two weeks for at least two more people, but she didn’t argue. She wanted to be alone with her thoughts for a bit; she felt like there was something more she was missing – something important.

The next morning she was wheeled out to a small garden on the hospital grounds; the fresh air was supposed to help her regain her strength. It had been extremely disturbing when she’d fallen trying to get from her bed to the wheelchair they provided. The garden was filled with the scent of roses, and for some inexplicable reason, she wanted to cry at the smell. The sound of a girl’s cough brought her attention to the other occupant, a dark-haired girl with brilliant violet eyes. Usagi thought she was perhaps the most beautiful girl she’d ever seen. Again there was a brief flash of recognition, a name just beyond her reach, and she offered the other girl a tentative smile.

“I’m Tsukino Usagi,” she said weakly. The other nodded.

“Hino Rei,” she said softly. “You’re one of the survivors, aren’t you?” It was Usagi’s turn to nod. Survivor seemed an apt word. “Did you wake up yesterday, too?”

“Yes,” Usagi confirmed. “Do you remember what happened to us?” Rei shook her head. “My parents told me we were all friends, but I don’t remember.”

“Me neither,” Rei whispered. “You seem familiar, but I don’t know you – not really.”

“Yes, exactly,” another voice chimed in, and the two spun to see another girl, this one with short blue hair and bright azure eyes. “I feel like I should know you both, but I can’t remember.”

“You’re Mizuno Ami,” Usagi whispered in awe. She recognized the girl as the genius of her school; it was rumored that Mizuno-san had an IQ of over 300.

“You’re Tsukino Usagi, and I heard you say you were Hino Rei,” Ami said with a nod. “It’s so strange; I woke up yesterday with no memory of what happened, but I feel like if I sit here with you two long enough it might come back.” Usagi nodded and saw Rei doing the same.

“Do you feel like there’s something more they aren’t telling us?” another voice asked, and Usagi and the others turned.

“Mako-chan,” Usagi breathed softly. This was the face that had flashed through her mind when she’d heard the name.

“Mako-chan, huh?” The girl smiled. “I like that. So do you remember?”

“No, but my parents said your name earlier and I recognized your face,” Usagi explained. “What did you say? They aren’t telling us something?”

“I get that feeling, too,” Rei chimed in. “My grandfather won’t meet my eyes whenever he talks about it – like there’s something horrible about it.”

“It could just be relief,” Ami muttered thoughtfully, “but I have to admit that my mother seems to be hiding something from me, too.” Usagi thought for a moment, remembering the looks her mother had given her when she was asking what the last thing she’d remembered before the accident.

“Mine, too,” came yet another voice, and Usagi realized that this must be Minako-chan. “Aino Minako,” the girl introduced. I know your faces and your names, but I don’t have a clue how I know that. Odd, isn’t it?” The others nodded slowly, as though she’d said what they were all thinking.

“So you think your parents are hiding something, too, Minako-chan?” Usagi asked and the other blonde nodded quickly.

“I wonder what it is,” Mako-chan mused. “Maybe we were all found nude or something bizarre like that.” Ami flushed a pretty pink and Rei looked ready to shoot arrows at her. Minako merely giggled, but Usagi shook her head.

“No, I think it was more serious than that, Mako-chan,” she said slowly. “My parents were really eager to know what the last thing I remembered was – and seemed relieved that it was something that happened three months ago.”

“You must be talking about using my head as your rubbish bin, Odango Atama” drawled a male voice from behind her, and Usagi didn’t even need to turn to see who it was; only one voice made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand up that way – that she knew of, anyway. And surely only one person would call her by that name.

“Odango!” Rei let loose a bark of laughter. “You’re right – they do look just like Odango!” The others burst into laughter. “Are you one of the survivors as well?”

“I am,” he confirmed. “Chiba Mamoru.” The girls introduced themselves, but Usagi stayed firmly silent. What were the odds that the same jerk, one she’d never seen before or since – that she knew of – would be one of the people that had been involved in her ‘accident’? She wasn’t very good at math, but she figured the odds must be pretty slim.

“Well, what do you remember, Mamoru-baka?” she asked.

“Actually, Odango-chan, the last thing I remember is you hitting me in the head with that paper,” he said. “You really should study more.”

“It’s so strange…” Ami mused softly, as though to herself. “We were all involved in this accident, and we all knew each other – and none of us remember any of it.” Heads around the garden slowly nodded. “My mother said it could all come back to us, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a week or even years down the road, but I wonder. From what I can gather, a lot of strange things have been happening over the past few months, and it seems like we got in the middle of some kind of monster attack – we may never remember.”

Usagi pondered for a few moments in silence, wondering what it would be like to just never remember three months of her life – to have it completely erased. The thought made her head hurt; she felt like whatever it was that she had forgotten was very important – life-altering, even. What would she do if she never remembered? Already she’d realized that there was something very different about her hair; it was longer than she could ever remember having worn it, and it seemed to have switched from a bright, golden blonde to a shimmering silver-blonde. She could feel Mamoru staring at the back of her head and she wondered if he was realizing the same thing.

She brushed it off in the silence; what did it matter if that jerk was looking at her hair? Everything she could remember about him indicated that they hadn’t gotten along – granted it was just one meeting, but she didn’t see how things could have changed that much between them in three months. He obviously wasn’t important to her – not like these girls. She knew, suddenly, that these girls were her friends – not because she’d been told that, but because she felt it. There was a bond between them; if she concentrated, she was almost certain she could see tiny red strings of fate binding them together.

As they were wheeled back into their rooms, she pondered it a bit more. In fact, Usagi probably thought harder about her friendship with the other girls more than she’d thought about anything else in her life, and she came to one decision: as long as they were willing, she would be friends with them. Even if they had to learn everything about each other again, she knew that it was vital to her to have them close. The next few days of being monitored in the hospital merely confirmed that decision. Every afternoon they were wheeled into the garden, and every afternoon they spent getting to know one another again. Naru came by every day, but Usagi was dismayed to realize that there was a coolness in her voice that had never been there before. It was almost as though she and Naru were no longer as close as they had been, and she found herself regretting those months that she’d lost, that she might never regain. What had happened to strain her friendship with Naru so?

Finally, she was released from the hospital and allowed to go home. She walked slowly up the stairs, appalled that she still had such little strength in her legs, but determined to do it alone, and collapsed, legs shaking, into her bed. The bag of her personal items from the hospital was already on her nightstand, and she opened curiously, wondering what she’d had with her that the doctors had deemed worth saving. She dumped the contents out on her bed and stared in shock when only two items fell out. One was a pink pen with a large fake jewel at the end; she assumed it was fake because she couldn’t imagine that she’d ever had the spending money to buy a pen with a real gem on it. It was metal, and heavy, she noted, weighing it in her hand. She must have really liked it before.

The second item was stranger still. A round pink brooch with a gold star crossing winked innocuously from the bed, but she stared at it horror. For some reason, the very sight of the locket filled her with dread; it was obviously expensive, and most likely a gift from her parents, but it was terrifying to look at. She picked it up gingerly, noting that it seemed warm to the touch as though it had its own heat source, and dropped it ruthlessly in a drawer in her nightstand. Perhaps she’d wear it from time to time in the future to keep her parents from regretting buying her such an expensive gift, but she didn’t think she’d ever like it.

As the weeks wore on, she and Naru repaired whatever was wrong with their friendship, and the two could often be found in the presence of the other girls, most often at the arcade after school, studying. Her grades improved drastically, and her average went from a D to a B, something that made her parents look at her curiously. Sometimes, when Naru wasn’t around, she and the others would talk about what had happened at the hospital and try to puzzle out what had taken away their memories of the event and the months leading up to it, but eventually they grew too frustrated with the lack of information about it to continue. Still, she would lie awake in the evenings before she fell asleep and try to remember, and her last thought before she finally drifted off was that she would give anything to know the truth.


“Why don’t they remember, Artemis?” The voice belonged to a small black cat with a peculiar crescent moon on her forehead. “Even Mamoru-san doesn’t recall anything. It’s like it never happened.”

“I don’t know, Luna.” This from the white cat with the same marking sitting next to her on the roof of the Tsukino household. “I’m more concerned about the others.”

“Why were they brought back, you mean?” she asked and he nodded at her.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he explained. “The girls and Mamoru all meant something to Usagi-chan, in this life and her past one, but they did not – they were traitors and enemies.”

“We should watch them closely,” Luna said decisively. “If need be, we can try reawakening the Senshi, but…” she trailed off.

“I don’t want to have to do that, either,” Artemis agreed. “It’s better that they don’t remember, honestly. What kind of lives could they have if they were haunted by that past?”

“But what about Usagi and Mamoru?” Luna persisted. “What if they are never reunited?” Artemis thought about it for a long moment before speaking.

“Maybe they aren’t meant to be.” His voice was sad, as though he didn’t really believe it.

“But the Queen…” she reminded him.

“Yes, the Queen wanted them to be reborn on the same planet, but what about Usagi-chan?” he asked. “She wished to be normal – that when they woke up they wouldn’t remember. She wished that and had to know that it meant that she and Mamoru wouldn’t remember, either. If they are meant to be together then they will, with or without those memories. Perhaps Usagi-chan wanted to give them that freedom.”

“The freedom to fall in love without Endymion and Serenity being a part of it?” Luna asked curiously. “Would Usagi-chan really want that? I think you’re giving her too much credit for foresight she simply doesn’t possess.”

“I’m not so sure,” he said, standing firm. “She might still be Usagi-chan, but Serenity is a part of that, and Princess Serenity would never have wanted Usagi to be with someone simply because he was once Endymion. Perhaps the Princess decided that it would be best if they fell in love on their own – you have to admit that it seemed a little peculiar that they went from enemies to being madly in love with each other once they realized they used to be. I have to wonder how much of that was Endymion and Serenity pushing to the surface and suppressing their mutual dislike.”

Luna looked as though she’d swallowed something distinctly unpleasant, but she didn’t disagree with him. “Perhaps you are right,” she said after a long moment. “Perhaps a watch and wait approach is best for now.” He nodded.

“I’ll try to track them down,” he said quietly. “Keep an eye on the girls and Mamoru.” Luna nodded and he jumped from the roof, landing on a tree branch before continuing to the ground.

“Good-night, Usagi-chan,” she whispered into the silence he left in his wake. “Sweet dreams.”

Below her a fourteen-year-old with silver-blonde hair smiled softly in her sleep and rolled over, muttering a quiet goodnight in return.

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