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JupiterThunderCrash
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PostSubject: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   27th May 2016, 1:46 pm


Creator(s): JupiterThunderCrash and Aurae
Forum: Tokyo City
Advanced or Relaxed: Relaxed
Plot Summary: After the defeat of Sailor Galaxia and Chaos, Hotaru still feels guilty over being defeated and used against Sailor Moon, and in a way, almost ending Chibiusa's existence. She withdraws into herself more, and eventually, Setsuna suggests that she begins attending school with other children her age to get her mind off of it.

At the same time, Chibiusa visits the past again, but feels awkward about the circumstances around their last battle as senshi. She avoids telling Hotaru she's returned as she works up the nerve to approach one of her best friends again. A monkey wrench is thrown into both of their plans when they end up enrolled in the same middle school, and they struggle to reconnect once again.

Details on any necessary information: This takes place in the gap of time between the battle against Galaxia and Usagi's wedding, following the Manga's canon. Hotaru and Chibiusa are physically around 14 years old, and Hotaru still lives with Setsuna, Haruka, and Michiru.
Restrictions: Only Hotaru and Chibiusa are playable characters. The rest will be NPCs as needed.
OOC Thread: None.
Member to Character List:

JupiterThunderCrash---> Hotaru/Sailor Saturn
Sailor Mercury---> Chibiusa/ Sailor Chibimoon

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   27th May 2016, 4:34 pm



It had been at least a year since Chaos had been defeated, yet that didn't stop the bad dreams from disrupting her every once in a while. Hotaru hated them. Hated how they dredged up the faded memories of dying to Sailor Galaxia, only to be revived again and used against the people she cared about.

Hotaru didn't fear death itself. How could she, being the Soldier of Death and Rebirth? What scared her most was losing control. For so long, it felt like her very existence was a curse on everyone around her. Her fate had never been in her own hands, being manipulated by both Mistress 9 and the terrifying power of her senshi persona. It had been Sailor Moon that had given her a new life to live by her own choices, but it was Chibiusa that gave her the drive to forge her own destiny in the first place.

And she had almost erased her best friend by killing her mother.

Usagi never blamed Hotaru, or any of the others for attacking her at the Galaxy Caludron, knowing that they were just Galaxia's puppets, but that didn't stop the guilt from gnawing at her. She had been growing more confident in herself, only to have her decisions taken away from her in what felt like an instant. Deep inside, she was starting to feel like that helpless child possessed by a daimon again.

Her dark mood was apparent enough for her parents to pick up on, and after some failed attempts to cheer her up, it was Setsuna-mama that approached her with the idea of attending school once again.

"It could give you a chance to make some new friends," she had reasoned. "You're very smart, but it's good for people your age to be with other children for a while." Okay, maybe she had been purposely staying in their house more often, but without Chibiusa around, she sometimes found it hard to motivate herself to leave it.

Hotaru had finished taking the placement exams a week ago, scoring high enough to get into any middle school without issue, and she'd be attending a local one in the Juuban District in a few days. Her last experience at school hadn't been pleasant, so she had her doubts about this second attempt, but she had promised to try it out for a bit. 

That didn't mean she couldn't glare at her book bag sitting in the corner of her room though.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   31st May 2016, 6:47 am



The pink-haired girl fiddled nervously with the elaborate silver key, sliding it along the chain she wore around her neck. Although her body had returned to 20th century Tokyo once more, the princess's thoughts remained solidly left somewhere in the future. It felt strange to be back here, considering everything that had happened. The last time she had crossed Time-Space to find Sailor Moon, she had found herself at the core of everything, Zero Star Sagittarius.

She idly kicked her feet into the dirt, pushing the swing back slightly.

The last time she had seen Hotaru there... The thing she saw wasn't Hotaru. She remembered the cold, empty, marble-like quality of everyone's eyes. They weren't really sailor soldiers—at least, not the ones she knew and loved. They were under Galaxia's control, reanimated for her bidding. Somehow, Chibi Usa couldn't hold back the memory of that awful smile when Sailor Saturn attacked...

After all, even though she was briefly reunited with everyone in the warm embrace of the Cauldron, that was the last time she had seen her friend's eyes. Of course, she knew it wasn't Hotaru. She knew it wasn't any of them. She knew they were being used. It wasn't their fault. Not any of them. Even if Sailor Saturn tried to kill her, it wasn't Hotaru's choice. They were still friends. Right?

Well, that's why she was back, wasn't it?

So... why couldn't she meet her? Chibi Usa knew where Hotaru and the others were living. Why hadn't she gone over there? It should be easy to ring the doorbell, smile, and say, "Hello, Hotaru-chan!"

But instead she was here, at the mostly-abandoned park, sitting on the swing set. Exactly the what she had done as a child—only this time she knew that she wouldn't hear that familiar voice or see the tall shadow cast by Mamoru, usually the one who found her. Comforted her. Made it all a little bit easier.

He wouldn't be here this time. This was something she had to deal with on her own.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   31st May 2016, 12:15 pm



Haruka insisted on driving Hotaru to Juuban Middle School on the first day, which meant that she had to walk all the way through the front gate after getting out of a sports car in front of everyone. The rumors were already starting before she stepped into class, to her embarrassment. 

Hotaru felt odd wearing the brightly colored school uniform as she stood in front of her homeroom class, but she tried her best to relax and smile while she was introduced. She payed as much attention as possible during the lessons, tuning out the stares and whispers around her, and by the time it was the end of school she was mentally exhausted.

She knew she wasn't an extroverted person in the first place, but now she understood why she heard the other senshi complain about high school. It was draining in its own way... Hotaru picked up her bag and went to retrieve her shoes from her labelled cubby at the front of the school. At least she hadn't been approached by bullies yet, which was a positive compared to her time in Mugen Academy.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   31st May 2016, 12:31 pm



An entire day, and she still hadn't gotten any closer to actually greeting her friend. Chibi Usa knew that Hotaru was here, at Juuban Middle School. Not only did she have concrete proof that had nothing to do with Luna P and the registration system, but after the unmistakably ostentatious sports car and all the rumors about the driver, her certainty increased. They were in different grades—Hotaru just one year senior to Chibi Usa in this particular intersection of Time-Space and other factors—and thus inevitably different classrooms. Still, a pair of keen russet eyes had sought out the dark-haired girl all day long.

Chibi Usa knew immediately which girl was Hotaru when she glanced out the window during History class and spotted students outside for gym class. She saw the same familiar silhouette during the lunch hour, although she hadn't worked up the nerve to follow or say anything. It was as though the school was thoroughly haunted with a Hotaru-shaped ghost and she was the skeptic who kept seeing something suspicious out of the corner of her eye, but not acting on it. Just like all those scary movies Usagi's friends sometimes watched at Rei's house.

And still she hadn't done anything.

The pink-haired student sighed, slouching slightly as she walked towards the shoe lockers. What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she do something so simple?

She was so lost in her own thoughts that she tripped on the slight step down between two of the locker areas.

"Uwaaa~!" she exclaimed, almost identical to her mother's familiar cry, sliding down and losing her grip on her bookbag. Papers flew out, spilling everywhere. Other students immediately rushed to help her, while some stood by and chuckled at the clumsy antics. Chibi Usa giggled awkwardly and alternated between apologies and thanks as she tried to collect her things, knowing that so many eyes were on her.

But then she felt a different sense of unease. When she next looked up, her ruby eyes found that she was directly in the line of sight of Hotaru, the other girl also preparing to retrieve her street shoes and leave for the day. Upon seeing her friend, Chibi Usa's mind went completely blank. Her eyes still wide with the shock of sudden recognition, she could only dread the moment when the other girl would glance over...and recognize her!
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   31st May 2016, 1:59 pm



A familiar cry pulled Hotaru from her thoughts, and as the students around her turned to look at what happened, Hotaru froze.

It couldn't be Chibiusa, she was back in Crystal Tokyo. She would have called or visited her if she have returned to this time... right? It was just another girl that sounded like her.

Yet she couldn't help but try to see who it was anyway. Hotaru slipped her shoes on and strained to look between people in the flood of departing students. And there, in the middle of her dropped papers, was an older than before Chibiusa.

Hotaru stared at her, violet eyes wide in surprise, but did not move from her position. A part of her wanted to push through the crowd and hug her right there, having missed her so much, but a part of her was still hesitant.

Why had she avoided her until now?

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   1st June 2016, 9:36 am



As their eyes connected, Chibi Usa could only hear her heart beat, thudding like a bass drum in her ears. Hotaru was the only person who existed in this school entryway; the other students faded away from her notice, melted like wax into nothingness. Her mouth felt dry; her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, and she couldn't move it. Her body was not her own; it was some kind of stiff and joint-less mannequin.

"Say something!" she begged herself. It could barely be registered in her mind over the loud drone of internal screaming.

Something snapped, as though the spell she had been under was broken, and before she even realized what she was doing Chibi Usa was running. She didn't know why she was running. Or where. She just ran.

Her school shoes, unsuitable for the outdoors, pounded against the dirt of the schoolyard. Her bookbag, still a mess, was clutched uncomfortably in her arms. Her fingers tried to dig into the leather, clenched so tightly that her hands ached. She practically threw herself over the fence that separated Juuban Middle School from a small forest, not even noticing the scratches and dust her actions kicked up.

This was too familiar. Hadn't this happened before? She thought of that time she had seen Hotaru's scars, all of the damage from the operations that saved her life in that horrific accident. Hadn't it been like this? Why? Why was it repeating? Why couldn't she...? What was Hotaru thinking? What was going on?

Why was this all so hard?
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   1st June 2016, 10:21 am



Hotaru could only watch as Chibiusa bolted past her and out the school doors, too stunned to call out to her. And as people whispered around her abut what just happened, Hotaru's gaze fell to the floor, a wave of shame hitting her.

Of course she ran away. Why did she think that Chibiusa would forgive her so easily? She had most likely not told Hotaru she had returned because she was afraid of her. And maybe she should be afraid... 

Hotaru clutched her bag with both hands as she fought back tears. She was in middle school now, she couldn't cry in front of everyone like this. She spun on her heel and walked away, out to the courtyard. Chibiusa was nowhere to be found, but she was probably long gone by now anyway. 

Haruka pulled up to the gate and waved at her from her car window, and Hotaru rubbed her eyes with her hand to wipe any evidence of her emotions away before running to get in.

"Did you have a good first day, Hotaru-chan?" Haruka asked as they pulled away from the school. Hotaru answered with a low sigh, not meeting her eyes. Haruka seemed to pick up on her mood. "You wanna talk about it?"

"...Not right now." It was hard to talk past the lump in her throat at the moment. 

"That's alright, you're probably tired after today. You can tell us later if you feel up to it..." Hotaru hummed a reply, and the rest of the car ride was silent.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   1st June 2016, 10:40 am



"How was your day, Chibi Usa-chan?" Ikuko-mama's voice called from the kitchen. Chibi Usa could hear the clatter of cooking; dinner preparations were hard at work. The long-haired housewife always took feeding her family very seriously.

"Oh, just fine," she lied in response, glad that she didn't immediately give the truth away. If she moved fast enough she could avoid the motherly woman's gaze reviewing her tear-stained eyes and disheveled appearance. The pink-haired girl still wasn't sure exactly how she was going to explain her missing shoes, both the pair temporarily left behind at school and the formerly-indoor shoes that absolutely needed to be retired.

"I'm going to take a quick bath before dinner," she called, hurrying towards the stairs. She needed to do something before she had to face the rest of the family.

As she reached the top of the stairs, Chibi Usa could hear Usagi's voice echoing down the hallway. It seemed impossible for the blonde to converse on the phone without everyone else also hearing the conversation; some things didn't seem to change. She had just slid open the bathroom door when the older girl's head peeked around the corner, the phone held up to her head.

"Ah, Chibi Usa-chan, Mamo-chan says..." The teenage-version of her future mother paused, the young woman's expression immediately replaced with concern. "Chibi Usa-chan, are you—?"

"I'm fine," she insisted, cutting off the question and ducking into the bathroom to end the conversation.

It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to Usagi. In fact, she could have easily ran into the arms that she knew would always hold her comfortingly and cry for hours. But that would be so much harder than just... trying to figure this out. And what about Ikuko-mama or Shingo? Chibi Usa didn't want to talk to them about this. She didn't want anyone to know how stupid she was. Everything about this situation was absolutely her fault. The thought of admitting that to who knows how many people was just too much. She couldn't do it.

So she didn't.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   7th June 2016, 9:15 am



As soon as they arrived back home, Hotaru mumbled a greeting to Setsuna and Michiru, and then retreated to her bedroom with the excuse of doing homework. As soon as she had the door closed, she curled up on her bed, face hidden behind her knees. How could she face anyone knowing that Chibiusa hated her?

"Something's really bothering her..." Haruka said as the three outer senshi sat in the kitchen. They had thought that Hotaru's downward mood swing over the last few months were simply her growing up and needing space, but now it was worrying. 

"But if she won't tell us, I can't see how we can help her very much," Michiru said, setting down a pot of tea. Setsuna was silent, contemplating something.

"... I'll go check on her," she said, getting their attention. Setsuna grabbed a tray and set up two tea cups to take with her. "She hasn't eaten anything since she got home."

Hotaru glanced up from her brooding when Setsuna opened the door, and then went back to staring at the floor.

"I thought you might want some tea..." she said, setting the tray down on a table. Hotaru murmured a thanks and picked up a cup. "Was Chibiusa not at school today?" she asked. Hotaru's eyes widened.

"You knew she was back?" Setsuna nodded.

"I thought she would want to surprise you herself, since she didn't come over here to say hello." Hotaru stared into her tea cup and sighed.

"I didn't see her until the end of the day, and then... and then she looked at me and ran off..." Hotaru admitted. Setsuna looked surprised.

"Well that isn't like her."

"It's... it's okay, she doesn't have to talk to me if she doesn't want to." Despite her words, she looked like she was about to cry. Setsuna hugged her around the shoulder.

"I'm sure it was just a misunderstanding. Tomorrow will be better, I promise."

After she left the room again, Setsuna went to pick up the phone and dialed one of the numbers in the address book. Maybe Usagi could enlighten her on what was going on here...

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   7th June 2016, 10:30 am



Chibi Usa looked up from her homework, hearing a familiar voice. Her desk in the attic room that Ikuko-mama kept converted for her could barely be seen under the piles of textbooks and worksheets. Even though the pink-haired girl had been sitting there for hours after dinner, so many assignments remained blank. And there were tear stains marking various handouts. It was so hard to concentrate when she continued to watch the events of the afternoon repeat in her mind.

What must Hotaru-chan be thinking? Chibi Usa couldn't even bear to consider various scenarios.

She wiped her eyes, now as red as a rabbit's, and tried to get back to her mathematics workbook, but the sound of Usagi talking was just too loud.

From up here, she could only hear snippets of the conversation. Usagi certainly sounded delighted to talk to whoever it was.

"...na-san! How are you? And the others?"

The voice was muffled from her vantage point in the attic.

"Eeeeh? But I thought..."

The incredulous reaction was the clearest thing she heard, but the rest was difficult to make out.

Finally, she pushed her chair back and padded down the steep stairs, peering down the hall to where Usagi stood with the telephone.

"Who is it, Usagi-chan?"
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   15th June 2016, 10:33 am



"So you didn't know about this either..." Setsuna hummed in thought. "It seems like something that they need to sort out themselves before this misunderstanding gets any worse. Can you tell Chibiusa that I'd like to meet her for ice cream tomorrow afternoon? I believe I can give them a chance to talk it out."

After explaining her plan, she said goodbye to Usagi and hung up the phone. Now all she had to do was invite Hotaru out for the same day and hope things worked out.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   16th June 2016, 5:23 am



"It's Setsuna-san?"

She couldn't hide the excitement in her voice. Things may have changed, but Chibi Usa never lost her adoration for Sailor Pluto or any of her incarnations. After all, Pluto was her very first friend—she treasured every moment she could spend with the calm and wise woman. It wasn't quite the same in the 20th century as it was in the 30th, but Meioh Setsuna was still a version of Sailor Pluto. She still provided so much valuable advice and always lent a sympathetic ear.

Maybe that was what she needed right now.

"Of course I'll meet her tomorrow!" she conveyed to Usagi, her smile a clear indicator of her eager feelings.

It would be so nice to see Setsuna again!
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   28th June 2016, 10:07 am



After school let out the next day, Hotaru didn't wait in the yard for Haruka's car to show up. Instead, she turned down the sidewalk and headed towards the shopping district. Setsuna had invited her out to ice cream the night before, and they had agreed on meeting at the small stand close to the arcade. After her less than uplifting first day of school, Hotaru had almost jumped at the chance to spend time away from it.

Even today, some students stared at her and whispered, recognizing her from when Chibiusa had bolted out of the front doors. She didn't even want to imagine what they could possibly be saying, but it most likely wasn't kind. 

When Hotaru arrived at the familiar ice cream place, she looked for Setsuna's figure with wide eyes, only to not find her anywhere. Maybe she was a little late from her own job. Deciding to wait for her, Hotaru found an empty table and sat down, setting her school bag beside her.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   28th June 2016, 12:59 pm



She very seriously considered pretending to be sick and begging Ikuko-mama to let her stay home. It was absolutely what she wanted, but even when wounded her pride wouldn't let her. As she flip-flopped back and forth she kept thinking about Usagi finding out, and having to listen to the significantly-less-responsible girl tease her for it... And then she imagined her classmates possibly overtaking her in her studies... So she steeled herself and headed to school.

It was no easier than she had expected; all day long the flutter of whispers and gasps seemed to haunt her. A few of the other girls from Hotaru's year even tried to talk to her before lunch time, their shark-like smiles eager for gossip. The pink-haired girl was slowly learning that her fellow sailor soldier was regarded with suspicion and curiosity by the other students. The more the day went on, the more Chibi Usa could feel indignation burning in her heart. It was so early in the school year! How could they have been talking about Hotaru-chan in rumors even before meeting her?

But even this thought turned sour on her tongue. Did she even have a right to call the other girl "Hotaru-chan" anymore? After what she had done? Her schoolmates might be behaving poorly, but it was truly herself who had done the most damage—and so quickly. She was the one most at fault.

The princess from the future did her best to throw herself into her studies instead, volunteering for any lesson, preferring the fixed attention of her teachers to the side-stares of her classmates. Maybe she'd give them something else to talk about. At least her after-school plans would provide some relief. Seeing Setsuna-san again would be an excellent end to a day like this one.

She made it to the ice cream parlor almost at record speed. It took a moment for her to catch her breath before she could walk inside. This place was nice; Chibi Usa remembered it from some of her other trips to the 20th century. They made delicious parfaits—maybe that's what she'd choose today. This was on her mind as she stepped forward, looking at the desserts on other tables, in the process unintentionally stumbling over something.

"Oh! I'm sorry!" she quickly apologized, crouching to pick up the book bag—how interesting, it looked kind of familiar...—and place it back more neatly.

"I should have been paying more attention," the girl continued with a smile.

"I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAYING MORE ATTENTION," her voice screamed internally. Chibi Usa found herself face-to-face with Hotaru!
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   29th June 2016, 9:18 am



As she waited for Setsuna to arrive, Hotaru had eventually pulled out a book to read to pass the time. She was only technically in junior high school, but she always ended up reading books that fit a college student more. Her shelf at home was filled with Greek poems and astronomy texts more than fictional chapter books, but she did enjoy them. Today she had chosen a translation of the Odyssey to take with her, and she was so engrossed in it that she didn't even notice Chibiusa entering the parlor.

When someone knocked her bag over, she finally looked up. 

"Oh no, you don't have to apologize," Hotaru said as she reached for the bag at the same time, not realizing who it was at first. And then their eyes met and she was once again stunned.

"Ch-chibiusa?!" She kept her voice low, but she was clearly surprised. How unlucky could she be, bumping into her again just a day later? She already wanted to get up from her seat and go, before a repeat of yesterday happened. She wasn't sure she could take seeing her run away a second time...

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   29th June 2016, 11:16 am



This time Chibi Usa froze, which apparently was slightly better than running off. The screaming internally didn't quiet, drowning out all of her ability to think. Her maroon eyes fixated on her friend's dark violet as soon as they actually met. She could feel herself start to quiver slightly, unsure of what to do.

But then the other girl's soft pained voice snapped her out of her petrified state.

Her own heart twisted slightly, feeling the other girl's emotion echo off her personal state of confusion. This was her fault. She was responsible for this. How was she ever going to figure out exactly what things were going to be like between the two of them if she couldn't fix all of this first? It seemed so overwhelming, but she knew that this time she absolutely couldn't run away.

"G-g-good afternoon..." she stammered, her face blushing a bright red so reminiscent of her mother. She wanted to say "Hotaru-chan," but was that wrong? Could she speak so informally to someone she had treated so poorly?

"Have you s-s-s-seen S-s-s-s-setsuna-san?" she continued, gradually trying to overcome her shock. "I was supposed to meet her..."
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   29th June 2016, 8:23 pm



Hotaru's heart sank as Chibiusa stumbled over her words. It was the first time she'd seen her so nervous around her, and she wished she could do something to fix it. Hotaru had dealt with being feared before, but Chibiusa always reached out to her, and it was something Hotaru didn't realize how much she missed until it was gone. But Chibiusa's next words only confused her.

"You were... meeting Setsuna-mama here too?" But that didn't make sense, unless... Hotaru looked down at the table, a slight smile on her face as she pieced things together. "I don't think either of us will be seeing her for a while," Hotaru said. Was this her way of trying to get them to make up?

"But...you don't have to stay here if you don't want to. I'd understand..."

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   30th June 2016, 5:40 am



"Too." That was the key word in Hotaru's reply. If they were both supposed to meet Setsuna here, at this same ice cream parlor, on the same day, at the same time... It didn't take long for the pink-haired girl to make the same connection that the other had made only moments before. So, what did the guardian of time and space already know about this whole situation? And why had she decided that the best solution would be to force both parties to "accidentally" run into each other?

Maybe she was trying to tell Chibi Usa that the only want to deal with her problems was to face them head-on.

Chibi Usa forced a smile in reply to Hotaru's final comment, feeling her own emotions do a barrel roll at the sound of the sadness in the voice of someone she had once considered her very best friend. Still, she couldn't figure out what could relieve the awkward tension in the air. Everything about their interaction felt thickly coated in the aftermath of yesterday's terrible incident. It spoiled everything and kept either from feeling at ease with each other.

"Is it okay if I sit here?" she asked timidly. "We might as well have ice cream, since we're here. Even if Setsuna-san tricked us."
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   9th July 2016, 10:32 pm



She didn't want to leave? Hotaru had expected her to take the way out when she could. Why was Chibiusa willing to sit with her now? Suddenly as nervous as she was, Hotaru nodded and tucked her book away, her mouth refusing to let her speak. She couldn't quite make eye contact with her at the table, but a distraction came in the form of a waitress carrying two ice cream bowls over to them. 

"Here you go!" she said cheerfully. Hotaru blinked at her, trying to remember if she had actually ordered anything. Had she brought it to the wrong people?

"I-I don't think those are"- Hotaru tried to correct her, but the waitress cut her off. 

"Don't worry, these are already paid for by someone who came earlier!" Earlier? Her thoughts turned to Setsuna. How much had she planned this out beforehand. The waitress set the two bowls down in front of them before Hotaru could ask any questions, and then they were alone again. 

It seemed that Setsuna had made sure to order their favorite flavors as well, she noted, inspecting her own bowl.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   11th July 2016, 6:53 am



The dish of ice cream puzzled the pink-haired girl as well, and she felt that nagging sensation of interference from a certain evergreen-haired woman. Chibi Usa couldn't deny that this dish of strawberry ice cream topped with hot fudge was exactly what she would have chosen to order on her own. It still felt like Pluto was cheating. For someone who had lectured her so much about the "proper" uses of the far-sighted power of Time-Space, this seemed to be toeing the line.

She didn't know what to do with Hotaru's silence. If things were better between the pair, she would have felt comfortable and at ease just enjoying each other's company. This was not that type of lull—this was something that hung there in the air between the pair. It felt anxious rather than cozy.

"Wow, she really arranged this," Chibi Usa commented. Her chuckle sounded somewhat forced, but far from actually unnatural. She wanted to keep the tone of the conversation casual and light... at least for now.

"Did she guess right for you, too? Or maybe she peeked to see exactly what we'd want, instead of having to guess."

The pink-haired girl picked up her spoon, wiggling it between her fingers before taking a bite. As expected, this was definitely one of the ice cream parlors she liked best in the 20th century. It didn't actually exist any more in Crystal Tokyo, sadly. Things like that tended to change. At least she had the opportunity to enjoy it here.

"So..."

She took a deep breath and tried to steady her nerves.

"Go for it, Chibi Usa," she prodded herself. "You have to just do it!"

An exhale and then another deep breath.

"I'm sorry. About yesterday. I was really stupid. I'm sorry, Hotaru-chan."

The familiar phrase slipped out before she could even think about it. She felt embarrassed, her cheeks flushed not only with the shame of her apology and previous actions, but of the rude use of a term probably unwanted and unappreciated by the other girl sitting at the table. Nothing about this was going right.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   13th July 2016, 10:40 pm



On most days, Hotaru would be perfectly comfortable letting Chibiusa do the talking between them, jumping in with an occasional comment of her own, but today, it was as if her jaw refused to move. She only nodded in silence. She kept her eyes on her bowl and poked at her grape sherbet ice cream, but didn't seem very interested in eating. Her stomach felt like there was a rock sitting in it.

When she heard the apology, she froze. Chibiusa was sorry? What was she sorry about? It was Hotaru who had scared her off. She couldn't understand how Chibiusa could even refer to her as someone close.

"D-don't say that..." she said, her voice thick. She was already thinking about the Galaxy Cauldron again, and a hand went up and rubbed feebly at her eyes in an attempt to not cry. It wasn't working very well. It was like all the doubts she had been shoving into a corner to try and forget about over the past few days was finally loose, and it refused to be ignored.

"I...I should have"- she hitched, her eyes hidden behind her bangs. "I should have fought harder, but I lost, and I almost...." Hotaru knew she wasn't making much sense, but it was all she could find the words to say. "I'm so sorry..."

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   14th July 2016, 8:10 am



She couldn't quite understand the other girl's refusal of her apology. Wasn't this why they had reached such a strange impasse—because Chibi Usa had run away like a guilty person? She certainly felt guilty. She hadn't wanted their first moment of reunion to be like that, in public among all of those other students, watched by eyes of people with no hope of privacy. It felt to the pink-haired time traveler like there were too many elements of their relationship left uncertain; she loathed discovering where they stood under the scrutiny of uninvolved parties.

Instead it was Hotaru who continued to apologize. This didn't feel right to Chibi Usa, even though she still vividly remembered the Galaxy Cauldron and all the events that had happened there. That wasn't Hotaru. Hotaru didn't make those choices.

"Don't blame yourself!" she replied, her voice as wavering as her thoughts were confused. "It happened to everyone."

She didn't choose to erase you. She couldn't help it. That's what evil does. She did her best to remind herself of these things, but she didn't know how much of it she could actually believe, at least right now.

It wasn't that she didn't trust Hotaru, it was only that she feared that the two girls would find themselves different now. They had been so close before. Even when Mistress 9 had caused such a horrible threat, Chibi Usa knew it wasn't Hotaru. But this enemy had no specific name, no specific takeover, just that horrible manipulation. What if the actions of Saturn under Galaxia's control were because Hotaru really felt that way, somewhere deep in her heart? Maybe she didn't care about Chibi Usa the same way that Chibi Usa cared about her.

"I should have told you sooner that I came back. I wanted to see you. I just..."

She took a deep breath, completely unaware that the ice cream in her bowl was slowly melting—very strange behaviour for any "Usagi". That was how serious the young girl felt about this situation. As she spoke the next piece of her sentence, her voice was uncharacteristically quiet, barely a whisper.

"...I didn't know if you still wanted to be my friend..."
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   14th July 2016, 8:48 am



She had wanted to see her? For some reason, Hotaru found that surprising. In her constant guilt, she had convinced herself that Chibiusa wanted nothing to do with her, and when she ran away at school, it had only confirmed her thoughts. But was she wrong?

Hotaru looked up at her, tears only being held back by the shock of what Chibiusa had just admitted. 

"Of course I wanted to! I mean..." Hotaru felt self-conscious after her outburst. But how could she possibly not want to be friends with someone that meant so much to her? Didn't Chibiusa know that? Hotaru fumbled for what she wanted to say, not used to stating what she felt out loud like this. Not this obviously. 

"I don't know what I'd do without you. I miss you so much when you go back home." They both knew what home Hotaru was referring to, the one in the far future. 

"I didn't know if... if you wanted to still be my friend," she said, lowering her voice.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   14th July 2016, 10:25 am



She could feel the tears in her eyes, although she tried valiantly to blink them back. She knew she was her mother's daughter, always quick to cry, but she didn't need the entire ice cream parlor to witness that proof in action. Instead, Chibi Usa sniffled as she replied to Hotaru's heartfelt admission.

"I miss you, too! I mean... you're there, but you're not... there," she tried to say, not sure what was the best way to express the strange situations of the future.

It wasn't that her friend didn't exist in the place that Chibi Usa came from, but Sailor Saturn of the 30th century wasn't quite the same as Hotaru of the 20th century. For one, she had important duties as a sailor soldier. And another—the age gap between them was more pronounced. In this segment of the timeline, both before and after Hotaru's rebirth, the sailor soldier of ruin was more like a peer than a role model. That felt somewhat less true ten centuries later. The whole time travel thing didn't really make it any easier—it actually felt more confusing to Chibi Usa. With every trip back and forth, something changed.

"And of course I want to be your friend! You're my best friend, Hotaru-chan!" she pleaded, her ruby eyes still sparkling with tears. She tried to keep her voice low, unwilling to cause a scene in this public place.

"But I'm a terrible friend. I leave you alone all the time. And I couldn't help you when you needed me."

I couldn't save you. Mama always saves her friends. I didn't do anything for mine.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   14th July 2016, 1:52 pm



Watching Chibiusa cry was not helping Hotaru keep herself together either, even if she was very aware of how strange this looked to possible eavesdroppers. She wasn't there for her in the future? Hotaru had almost been jealous of her future self, being able to see Chibiusa far more frequently, but maybe it wasn't as she had envisioned it. Was their relationship that different? 

"I know you don't do it on purpose..." Hotaru said, beginning to calm down. "I can't expect you to be here all the time, you have a life somewhere else. And don't you dare call yourself a terrible friend, because without you, I wouldn't even be here at all." Hotaru smiled at her for the first time since they met up again. 

"You've helped me more than enough. I just wish I could do just as much for you... But..." She thought back to what Chibiusa had said about Crystal Tokyo. "Am I really that busy in the future?" Hotaru almost looked like she was irritated as she thought about it, as if she could mentally reprimand the future Saturn for neglecting her best friend.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   15th July 2016, 6:50 am



There was something about the tone of voice for the other girl's question that made Chibi Usa feel like she had misspoken and done something wrong. She immediately replied, chuckling nervously as she did so; there had to be a way to avoid causing more misunderstandings.

"Well, I mean, yes—you really are," she insisted, perhaps a little bit too enthusiastically. "Everyone is. The sailor soldiers of the outer solar system form a defensive perimeter, stationed at their castles. We don't really see them often in the Crystal Palace, although there's regular communication. But that's usually broadcast for Luna and Artemis."

Except for Pluto, of course, but that didn't really need to be said. The tall dark guardian maintained her place at the doors of Time-Space. Her solitude no longer oppressed her so thoroughly as it may once have done during Chibi Usa's early childhood; since her death and subsequent rebirth, there seemed to be more freedom in the timeless woman's boundaries. Yet her duty occupied her time first and foremost. The same could be said for the other sailor soldiers.

It wasn't as if Chibi Usa spent much time interacting with her mother's guard, either. They were around, obviously. They were also quite busy. As the young princess trained and matured, she found herself more included among them. Someday she would be responsible for so much, and they were gradually testing her to see what she could handle.

But she missed her friend. She missed the casual, intimate interactions of the 20th century. Here she wasn't a princess living in a castle—she was just a normal girl. In this world her mother wasn't a distant and perfect goddess—Usagi was, also, just a normal girl. And this was the place where Saturn was not a powerful warrior with awesome power—Hotaru, too, was just a normal girl.

It had been strange going back to the past after meeting Hotaru, and learning for the first time that Sailor Saturn existed in the era of Crystal Tokyo as well. Chibi Usa hadn't had much time to wonder about their limited interactions; she had been busy herself traveling back to the 20th century and fighting alongside the sailor soldiers against so many threats to her beautiful and precious home: Earth. Now, prompted by the disapproving look on her dark-haired friend's face, Chibi Usa found herself reflecting on how little she had spoken to Saturn. The deep red eyes glanced downcast at the table, the almost-completely-melted ice cream in her dish totally unseen—her thoughts were elsewhere.

Maybe Hotaru was only her friend here. Like this. Could that be... true?
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   1st August 2016, 11:19 am



She didn't like how sad Chibiusa looked now, thinking about the future. She had a vague understanding on what Saturn of the future was meant to do, but was there really no time to play or even have free time beyond her duty? That couldn't be true. 

"Maybe... maybe it's just a misunderstanding. Like this one," Hotaru said after a stretch of silence. "Maybe she'll... um, or is it I? Maybe I'll respond if you send me a message."

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   1st August 2016, 11:57 am



Chibi Usa laughed awkwardly at Hotaru's fumble for the right phrasing. It was really difficult to talk about the future—that was something she knew pretty well, herself, as the resident time-traveler of the group. Now that she was growing up, the White Moon princess was starting to have a much clearer understanding of why Sailor Pluto had always told her that time travel was forbidden. Chibi Usa had done some good with her actions in the past and future, but also potentially caused some damage. It was not something she necessarily recommended to others, even though now the desire to maintain a life between both timelines was so strong.

"It's... hard to do that kind of thing," she mumbled.

How could she tell this Hotaru how much the thought of attempting a casual interaction with the Sailor Saturn of Crystal Tokyo intimidated her? Not because of any fear of the dark-haired sailor soldier or her powers of destruction, but simply because of the increased gap in age between the two young women and their nearly-constant separation. Somehow much of what the two had experienced in the 20th century just didn't seem to translate into anything in the future. Was it because Sailor Saturn was busy with so many duties? Was it because Princess Small Lady Serenity had her own royal tutelage and journeys into the past?

"I mean, she's busy. Everyone is busy."

That's why I so frequently visited Pluto, when I was a small child. That's how I ended up here, among the rest of you in this time, after all.

"It's kind of embarrassing to interrupt. And I'm not sure what I'd say," she admitted, blushing crimson at the strangeness of talking about Sailor Saturn to Hotaru-chan. Very bizarre. "And if you... er, she? If... Saturn didn't reply..."

Maybe I'd feel even more lonely.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   2nd August 2016, 10:07 pm



"...I guess you're right, that would be difficult. Don't worry about it." Yet even after better understanding Chibiusa's situation, she was still frustrated deep down. But why? Why was she so worried about the future? Were they not together right now? Hotaru internally strained to find an answer, but she just couldn't. Not a rational one, anyway. 

As much as she wished it weren't true, Chibiusa had only confirmed that they had grown more distant, and deep down, Hotaru wanted the exact opposite. But they were best friends already. Why was she not satisfied with that now? 

"But I just...I can't understand why I'd do that..." she said. She spoke as the words came to her, aware that she was probably rambling. But she needed to figure this out right now. "Because when you're here, I want to spend all my time with you."

A year ago, Hotaru wouldn't even be questioning their relationship. Chibiusa made her feel much brighter than she did alone. She had been happy no matter what they did, as long as it was together. And if push came to shove, she'd sacrifice herself for her safety, as a guardian senshi and someone she cared deeply about. Chibiusa was the kind of person who's light attracted people to her like moths to a lamp, and even though she knew she'd never be forgotten, Hotaru couldn't help the stab of jealousy she felt when others encroached on them. 

The same emotion she could clearly read from Haruka-papa when strangers at parties tried and failed to entice Michiru-mama, even though she knew she'd never fall for someone else.

Hotaru almost dropped her spoon in surprise as she connected all the dots, a realization dawning on her.

"I...I really like you." Wait, did she say that out loud? "I mean...Th-that came out wrong!" If she could tear a hole in the ground and sink into it, Hotaru would have disappeared already. "I, um..." Could she humiliate herself any further today?

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