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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   3rd August 2016, 5:43 am



The significance of Hotaru's words flew right over Chibi Usa's pink little head.

She smiled warmly at her friend, the ruby eyes seeking out those of amethyst. She made a motion as if to reach across the table for Hotaru's hand, but the distance was somewhat awkward with their ice cream bowls in the way. The action remained incomplete. The look on the young teenager's face was one that Hotaru would have seen there so many times before—it may have reminded others of the same radiant love that Usagi so frequently projected. But it was not specific. It was not a true reply to the emotions Hotaru could barely admit she was feeling.

"I really like you, too, Hotaru-chan! ♥" Chibi Usa replied, her voice buoyant with conviction.

She did feel better now that the two of them had a moment to talk about this. The state of their interactions in the future... that was something she was beginning to admit to herself that she'd need to handle. Hotaru's suggestion of a misunderstanding, something similar to this one, didn't seem too far off the mark the longer Chibi Usa thought about it. The thought of having to actually do something about it—to actually approach Sailor Saturn and bring up a topic as awkward as their friendship—definitely made Chibi Usa uncomfortable. But you couldn't ignore something uncomfortable and expect it to fix itself.

Her experience here in this ice cream parlor, after the events of the past few days, made that even clearer.

"I'm so glad we could talk about this," she continued, regaining more and more of her customary good spirits. She picked up her spoon, now filled only with melted remains of what had been her ice cream. "I don't know how long I can stay here, in the 20th century, but I'd like to spend more time with you, Hotaru-chan."

The brief confession remained completely unaddressed.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   3rd August 2016, 7:41 am

Hotaru couldn't believe it. Had Chibiusa really not understood what she had accidentally blurted out? One side of her was relieved. She could pretend it had never happened now! They'd go back to eating ice cream and everything would be normal once again.

But the other part of her needed an answer. She couldn't just forget it and move on. But for now, Hotaru didn't have the energy or the courage to even think about confessing again. But how? Whatever method she decided on needed to be clear, or it was likely Chibiusa just wouldn't get her message.

"Y-yeah..." Hotaru said, putting on a smile for her. "That'd be great if we could..."

---------------

The next few days of school were awkward for a very different reason, though Hotaru kept up the illusion of nothing being wrong while she was with Chibiusa. She genuinely did enjoy being with her again, but it seemed that now that she knew the depth of her own feelings, it was so hard to stay calm around her. 

She couldn't look Chibiusa in the eyes for too long without heating up, and whenever she smiled at her, her stomach did a flip. Was this what a crush was like? She certainly wasn't going to ask anyone. Hotaru couldn't imagine the kind of advice Haruka -papa or Michiru-mama would give her for this...

Today, they were going to meet up outside for lunch break, and Hotaru was gathering her bravery for another possible attempt at telling the truth.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   3rd August 2016, 8:02 am



Chibi Usa practically skipped into school that morning, despite her new-found maturity, her mind abuzz with the happy anticipation of eating lunch with her very best friend. They weren't in the same class or even in the same grade level, so it wasn't as easy as it could otherwise be. Plus, the pink-haired schoolgirl was hard at work with some class projects and didn't necessarily have as much free time during the school day as would otherwise make such a meeting simpler to plan. But today—this was the day! The lunch that Ikuko-mama packed for her this morning was extra-perfect for sharing. Chibi Usa's 20th century mother figure always put loving attention into the food she sent her family off with, but today's was just a little bit more extravagant.

The teenager did her best to stay focused throughout the day. She had her grades to keep up, after all (thankfully she trended more towards her father's study habits than her mother's), so she couldn't let her hard work be totally set aside just because she was looking forward to the noon hour. Her classmates definitely noticed the pink-haired girl's bright spirits. Chibi Usa was known for being cheerful and animated, but it was even more pronounced in her words and actions today.

When the bell rang to signal lunch, she bolted from her seat and headed out to the shady spot in the school yard that she and Hotaru had agreed upon like a comet with teeny-tiny candy pink tails. Her keen eyes spotted the thin, slightly taller, dark-haired girl immediately. After all, she could recognize her dearest friend almost anywhere.

"Hotaru-chan~!" she called out, hurrying across the lawn just a hair shy of actually running. "Let's have lunch!"
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   3rd August 2016, 9:51 pm



Despite her nervous mood that followed her all that morning, Hotaru perked up when Chibiusa called out to her, a small smile on her face as her best friend met up with her. She couldn't bring herself to feel bad when she was around. The tree they were using as shade was an older cherry blossom one, big enough to cover a good sized area beyond where they sat. Even if they were technically in the open, it was private in a way. More private than she was used to, which gave this lunch break a different feel to her. 

Hotaru tried not to think of it as a date, because it certainly wasn't one.

"Sorry we couldn't get together sooner," she said, sitting down with her own lunch. Hotaru wasn't one for an extravagant bento, despite her parents being able to provide one if she wanted it. Instead, she tended to request noodles with a side of sushi or vegetables. The only thing that she outright wanted to reject was the milk that was sometimes packed. Hotaru knew that milk was healthy, but that didn't make it taste any better to her. 

"I didn't realize how busy school would be until now..." She reached for her drink, and to her surprise and annoyance, found milk. She still didn't quite buy Setsuna-mama's claims that it would help her grow taller. Wasn't she tall enough now? Hotaru couldn't stop herself from pulling a face.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   4th August 2016, 5:39 am



Chibi Usa couldn't repress a giggle at Hotaru's reaction to the milk accompanying her lunch. She plopped down next to the upperclassman and opened her own lunch, only to immediately make a similar face. There were carrots in here! Ikuko-mama was definitely taking this opportunity to express her motherly feelings about things that two of her "rabbit children" consistently attempted to avoid. Well... at least they were cute carrots? They were shaped like little flowers, after all. Buuuuut that wouldn't make them taste any less like carrots.

The pink-haired girl grinned mischievously at her dark-haired friend, and gestured towards the scalloped-edge carrot slices tucked in a foil wrapper in her pink lunchbox.

"How about a trade, Hotaru-chan?" she offered with feigned slyness. She would definitely be willing to drink milk, which Chibi Usa generally enjoyed, in exchange for someone else taking these carrots off her hands.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   6th September 2016, 10:56 pm



As ironic as it might be, Hotaru completely sympathized with Chibiusa's carrot hate. And since she had no issues with vegetables...

A laugh slipped out of Hotaru as Chibiusa offered them to her like they were contraband instead of an innocent lunch item. She'd never traded lunches like this before, and it felt like they had their own little secret. It was silly, but she valued these moments the most.

"Only if you don't mind," she said, picking up the milk to exchange it.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   7th September 2016, 9:03 am



The offending carrots now no longer her problem, Chibi Usa immediately poked the straw into the small carton of milk and took a sip. This was definitely the kind of trade she'd be willing to make in the future. At least there was more to her lunch than just not-so-tasty orange vegetables that she could share with Hotaru. She carefully spread out her bunny-patterned wrapping cloth as a makeshift picnic blanket, setting the tiers of her lunch box ontop of it.

As always, Ikuko-mama's cooking did not disappoint. Everything looked adorable, and Chibi Usa knew it would be just as delicious.

"If you'd like anything else, Hotaru-chan, please have some!" she encouraged, all smiles. It was so nice to be having lunch together! "Ikuko-mama made it just for us."

She picked up a cute shumai in a pink wrapper, nestled among similarly pastel friends, and popped it into her mouth.

"What's keeping you busy right now, Hotaru-chan?" she asked, thinking back to the dark-haired girl's earlier comment.

Chibi Usa was working hard for things with her own class. There would be a school fair soon, which created a flurry of activity for all of the students. Each class was determined to have the best stall, whether it be food, shopping, or activities they would be providing. There were already whispers among some of the boys and girls about who might ask who to get their love fortune told together or who might ask someone else to have tea together. The excitement in the air was tangible.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   30th September 2016, 10:59 am



"T-thank you," Saturn said, though she wasn't sure why she was even still surprised over Chibiusa's generosity. Maybe she'd never get used to it...

"I'm in the advanced science class, so it's more reading work than in the other classes, but it's fun, so I don't mind." Hotaru had gotten so far ahead at home just reading Setsuna's textbooks from her college studies, that the school had placed her in the senior grade level of study for physics, but it did keep her from boredom with the more rigorous work. The stares she had gotten on her first day were unnerving though...

Her eye caught a poster on the school's wall, and she remembered that it was growing close to time for the culture festival. She'd never been to one of those before, so she was curious about how it would go.

"Chibiusa-chan, is your homeroom working on something for the festival?" she asked.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   30th September 2016, 11:14 am



Chibi Usa nodded enthusiastically, the pink pigtails bouncing with emphasis.

"Of course! We're doing an art gallery!" she announced, eyes bright with excitement.

There had been a lot of debate over exactly what would be appropriate for her classroom, with a lot of initial interest in setting up a cafe... but they were just a little bit too slow with their proposal, and the classroom next door had gone forward with that same idea. Having two cafes side-by-side was just not cool. They had to come up with something else. Fortune telling, contests... all the usual choices were brought up, only to learn that another nearby classroom had already laid claim to it. Chibi Usa was the one to make the gallery suggestion, stemming from her own interest in artwork, and her classmates rallied around it quickly.

She explained this to Hotaru as she continued to enjoy the lunch Ikuko-mama had provided, her exposition animated and cheerful. It was so hard to restrict herself to not feel this kind of high spirits when working on something like this, after all.

"Since it's my suggestion, they'll have three works from me in the gallery. Will you come see it, Hotaru-chan? What is your class doing?"
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   17th October 2016, 3:57 pm



"I'd love to visit your art gallery," Hotaru said, genuinely interested. She knew that Chibiusa was good at drawing and painting, and she seemed so excited about it that she wouldn't have said no anyway. 

"Um, I think we're doing a haunted house." The older kids had been set on it, and Hotaru hadn't really been for or against the idea. She wasn't very easy to scare in the first place, but the thought of going out of her way to startle people didn't sit well with her at the moment. "I'm not really sure how to contribute, to be honest..." she said, looking down at her lap.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   18th October 2016, 6:01 am



Chibi Usa felt a flutter of excitement at Hotaru's agreement. She couldn't think of anyone she'd rather enjoy the school festival with. Chibi Usa had made other friends in her class—she just had such a bright energy around her and cheerful attitude that others seemed drawn closer—but none of them were important friends like Hotaru. Hotaru was her best friend, someone she had traveled back into the past specifically to see again. Who better to look at exhibits and eat snacks with at the culture fair?

Wow, a haunted house! Despite having a pretty low tolerance for scary things, Chibi Usa felt immediately intrigued. She didn't remember any of her previous schools doing something like that. This sounded very new and original! Of course Hotaru's class, filled with upperclassmen, would come up with something so interesting! She found herself wondering just how scary they'd be able to make it, given that it would be in one of the school classrooms.

The pink-haired student took a few more bites of their lunch as she pondered her friend's dilemma. How could Hotaru best contribute? After all, she probably didn't want to be directly involved in any of the scaring. That could accidentally bring back a reputation that had taken a while to settle down. But Hotaru was extremely smart, and Chibi Usa knew there had to be something she could do...

"Oh!" she exclaimed, almost dropping an octopus-shaped cocktail wiener. "What about lighting, Hotaru-chan? Do you still have all those lamps in your bedroom? I don't think you should risk bringing any of them to school, but maybe you could help them give the haunted house an appropriately spooky tone with lighting?"
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   27th October 2016, 3:35 pm



"The lighting...?" Well she did gravitate towards lamps quite a bit, and Michiru-mama sometimes let her decide how dim a room should be when she was painting a subject. Maybe she could be good at mood lighting, and she wouldn't be actively scaring anyone that way. 

"I didn't even think about that, I should ask!" Hotaru said. She was sure there were some cheaper indoor lighting she could find at a store, and the classrooms had shades and adjustable lights too. "I was really worried about not being able to participate..." Despite not liking the idea originally, Hotaru did want to fit in at school and enjoy herself, and she didn't think her classmates would take it well if she didn't attempt to help.

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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   29th October 2016, 3:37 pm



Chibi Usa felt particularly pleased with herself for coming up with an idea. She grinned at Hotaru across the open lunch box, eating another octopus-shaped cocktail weiner—but without almost dropping it this time. She couldn't wait for the festival! They were going to have so much fun! She wanted to go hand-in-hand with Hotaru to every classroom's display or shop. Since they weren't in the same grade, they wouldn't be on any of the same "teams" for any events if this was a sports day, so cultural festival was even better!

Her mind was already whirling with ideas for her artwork. As usual, she was already coming up with ideas and preparing herself to execute them... but now that she had told Hotaru, who had sounded enthused by the idea, she really wanted to make something impressive. Chibi Usa knew she'd have to go over her ideas again, to really evaluate which were the best.
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PostSubject: Re: [Relaxed] Reconnecting   Today at 9:28 am



It was the day of the festival, and Hotaru had just finished setting all the lights she had picked out for her class's haunted house. Her classmates had been excited after hearing Chibiusa's mood lighting idea and were eager to see how it'd come out. She was especially proud of the lone light just at the entrance, where it flickered on and off and random intervals like a broken fuse. She didn't actually need to stay for the scaring part, so Hotaru decided to slip out and see if Chibiusa was done hanging up her paintings yet.

Before she could reach the stairway to the lower floor of the school, someone called out her name in the hallway. 

"Tomoe-san!" She stopped and turned around startled, but relaxed when she realized it was just two upperclassmen girls standing outside a brightly decorated classroom door. "Could you come over here for a moment? We could really use your help with something!" Hotaru hesitated, but she seemed really sincere, and Hotaru didn't want to let her down. It couldn't possibly take too long, right? 

"S-sure..." Before she knew what was going on, the girls cheered and dragged her into their classroom. 

Five minutes later, she had somehow ended up in a frilly black and white maid outfit, a silver tray in her hands. 

"Is this all really necessary?" Hotaru asked, blushing already. The girls nodded.

"Our class was doing a maid cafe, but one of our waitresses got sick last night and can't come in," one of them said. "We looked around for anyone who could fill in, but no one can cover her until the afternoon. Could you please help us out until lunch time?" she asked.

"Um..." Hotaru looked down at the ground. 

"Please, Tomoe-san? It fits you perfectly!" Hotaru sighed.

"Okay." How did she even get into this mess? She'd have to apologize to Chibiusa later for not meeting up with her...

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