A.D.V. American Vacation Chapter 12

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.
 

           A Different Viewpoint: America pt 12

        In his car, Michael Dwire was trying to pay attention to the
road.  < Oh my god.  My oh my oh my.>  He was driving mostly on
automatic pilot, the way from his apartment to his parent's house being
routine for him. "What am I going to do?"  He groaned out loud.  "What
can I tell John?"  Images of his brother beating the hell out of him ran
amok in his head.  "Agrrgh."

        Mike paused.  "Wait... she... she wouldn't...  would John ask
her to?"  He broke off.  "If he did... which I wouldn't put past him,
she'd probably do it... ah who am I kidding, this is crazy.  If John
doesn't know about it, this could ruin what ever they have.  Maybe I
should just avoid them until they leave?  But if she's betraying him, he
should know... shouldn't he?"  Mike let his thoughts subside for a few
moments as he negotiated traffic.  < I'm almost there.  I'll just have
to talk to her first.  If they... want me too....>  He shoved aside that
thought. < Stop thinking about it... but good lord, she was
beautiful....>  "Arrgh! Shut up!"  He told himself.  < Oh great, I'm
here.  Relax, and go eat dinner... I'll talk to her as soon as I can get
her alone.>  He didn't spot the fallacy in this idea.

        In the Dwire's parlor, Ranma and Akane were relaxing watching
American TV. Johnathon, seeing that his father would still be awhile
cooking, sat down and started to explain some of the in-jokes for them.
Kasumi watched them for awhile, but her heart wasn't in it.  Michael
still hadn't arrived for dinner, and she was still worried about his
reaction.  The door bell rang. John got up to get it, but Kasumi shook
her head.  "You go on explaining, I'll get it."  She walked over to the
front door and opened it.  "Hell..." She started to say.

        Mike was standing there, a serious expression on his face.
"Hello Kasumi, can we talk?"

        She closed her gaping mouth and nodded.  He motioned for her to
join him outside.  She nodded again and stepped outside to join him,
closing the door behind her.

        Mike looked at her, at the ground, then at her again.  < I
decided to ask her, didn't I?>  He thought to himself fiercely.  < I
just... I don't want to hurt her... but.>  He straightened and said,
"Um... Ah Kasumi..."  She waited patiently for him to finish.  He
gathered himself and looked into her eyes.

        She gazed back, surprised at the sudden sense of calm she
received.  < Ah, good, he's OK.>

        Mike, his expression placid, said.  "Kasumi, does John know?
Was it his idea for you to... pop in on me like that?  Or did you ask
him first and he agreed?  If not..."  He looked at her helplessly.  "Ah
well, I will keep it quiet, if you promise me... that you won't try
something like that again." He blushed just slightly, and shook his
head.  "If you and John did plan this... I'm not saying that I didn't
want too... I mean, you are very beautiful, and you seem to be a very
nice person.  I wouldn't say no."

        Kasumi let him speak, having no idea how to reply.  < Well, of
course he thinks I was trying to seduce him.  He just wants to know if I
had Johnathon's permission, or if it was his idea.>  She backed away
slightly. "I am sorry Micheal-chan, but I need to talk to Johnathon
now."

        Mike blinked.  "Oh.  Alright... but I think... I do need to
know, he is my brother..."  He sighed and nodded.  "Please, go talk to
him."

        Kasumi smiled a tiny bit.  < He's very loyal to Johnathon.>  She
quickly retreated inside, leaving him standing there with an uncertain
look on his face.  She entered the family room and spoke to Johnathon.
"May I talk to you for a minute, dear?"  He nodded absently, so she
whispered in his ear, "Privately?  Micheal-san just came to see me."

        He looked at her.  "Huh?  Really?"  She nodded.  "Right."  He
stood up. "Let's go to our room."

        Ranma didn't really pay attention to the older couple's
departure, but Akane had looked up when Kasumi came back in, and the
concerned expression on her older sisters face, so unlike her, had
caught her attention immediately.  < Kasumi didn't look this worried
even when we were going to fight youma.  What in the world can be so
bad?>  She nudged Ranma as they left the room.  "Ranma?  Ranma!"

        He snorted at the TV, then turned to look at her.  "Yeah?  What,
Akane, somethin up?"

        She frowned at him.  "I think something's wrong.  When Kasumi
came back from answering the doorbell, she looked... concerned."

        Ranma shrugged.  "Yeah, and?"

        Akane fumed.  "No, you dummy, it's got to be bad.  Kasumi looked
concerned!"

        Ranma blinked, then frowned in thought.  "Really?"  Akane
nodded.  Ranma looked back at the guest rooms.  "Wow, I hope she's ok."
Just then the doorbell rang again.  Ranma got up.  "I'll get it."

        Akane got up as well.  "Maybe whoever it was came back?"

        Ranma slapped a fist into his palm.  "If they've hurt Kasumi
they'll get what's coming to them."  The two headed to the door and
Ranma opened it quickly.

        Standing outside with a blank expression, Mike blinked at the
door's rapid movement.  "Ah.  Hi you two.  How was you day today?"

        Ranma and Akane glanced at each other then back at him.  "We had
an... interesting day, Mike-san."  Akane said.

        Ranma snorted.  "Yeah, it too bad you not come."  Akane elbowed
him in the stomach.

        Mike nodded absently.  "Really."  < I wouldn't have been home
alone then at least.>  "Ah, is dinner ready yet?"

        Ranma shook his head.  "No, your father say it would be ah...
too long..."  He made counting motions with his fingers."

        Akane sighed.  "About an hour, Mike-san."  She shook her head at
Ranma. "You really have to study your English, Ranma."

        Mike cocked his head.  "Hmm, maybe I can help you a bit Ranma?
My Japanese isn't very good yet really.  We could help each other."

        Ranma looked a bit dubious.  "Ah, I guess."  Akane elbowed him
again and he winced.  "Ah, why don't you come inside."

        Akane nodded.  "Yes, come on in, John-kun's in the bedroom with
Kasumi.  We were just watching TV."

        Mike nodded.  "Alright, I'll just wait for...  I mean, what's on
TV?"

        Ranma started telling him what was on while they walked back to
the family room.  Akane peered at him somewhat suspiciously.  He seemed
calm enough outwardly, but a closer look showed his muscles tight, his
back especially guarded.  < He's stressed about something.>  As they sat
down, Mike unconsciously took over his brothers role as English joke
commentator.  Ranma sat back and enjoyed the show, but Akane was
pondering.  < Michael is a mystery to me.  He always seems so calm,
nothing like his brother at all.  I'd never picture him as a martial
artist... maybe Johnathon was exaggerating when he said Mike used to
spar with him....>  The program they were watching ended, and Akane
decided to satisfy her curiosity.  "Mike-san?  Do you practice martial
arts?"

        Mike blinked.  < Where did that come from?>  He turned and
nodded to Akane.   "I do... It's not as important to me as it is to
John... I suppose I mainly practice now to keep from getting too far
behind John's skill."

        Akane nodded.  "Well, would you like to spar?  Just a little
match, I'd like to see how good you are."

        Mike smiled softly, looking pleased.  "You honor me.  Yes, thank
you, I think I'd like that."  He motioned to the backyard.  "Would now
be a good time?"

        Akane nodded.  "Sure, we'll have a good appetite for supper
then."  She stood and walked over to the patio door.  Mike pulled his
shoes off and followed her.  Mildly curious, Ranma came after the two.

        Akane paced ahead to the middle of the lawn and turned around,
getting into an aggressive stance.  Mike bowed slightly to her and
waited, his face passive, his posture open.  Akane said,  "Don't worry,
I won't go to hard on you."

        Mike just smiled.  He spread his hands as if to say, 'Come get
me.'

        Akane instead of reacting like she would have a year ago, paused
to feel out his fighting spirit like Ranma had been teaching her.  She
almost sighed.  < Nothing.  I guess I'll really have to go easy on him.
John-san has more fighting spirit in his left foot than Mike has
altogether....>  She charged forward with a simple punch.  Mike's
posture hardly changed, but his legs flexed to put him out of the path
of her attack.  His hand came up, and his legs bent slightly, leaving him
in a stance much like Johnathon's favorite.

        Ranma watched with increasing interest.  < Huh, Ms. Hinako would
have some trouble with draining this guy, no battle aura at all yet.
His stance looks like Johnathon's... I wonder if Akane sees the
difference?>  Akane attacked again with a punch.  Her second strike was
faster, and she brushed Mike's shirt as he again side stepped.  This
time Mike's dodge came around behind Akane, and he almost casually
slipped his trailing hand around her throat, his other hand coming
around to grasp his wrist, he started to pull Akane back and down into
his extended knee.

        Ranma blinked as Mike's battle aura flared into life suddenly.
Mike's maneuver was almost completed when Akane's hand grabbed one of
Mike's wrists and stopped his move entirely.  She then bent into him,
bringing him up and over.  Mike had a mildly surprised look as he
started to lift off the ground, but as she began to throw him, he
grabbed Akane's head, redirecting his momentum once again.  Akane
spiraled downwards, Mike on top of her. < Interesting.>  Ranma thought.
< Mike uses a much different style than Johnathon, but at first it
looks the same.>

        Akane wasn't down long, she spun about as she landed and kicked
up to face Michael again.  This time she came in with a punch
combination which Mike tried to avoid, only to miss her drop kick.  She
lifted him off the ground, and he landed a few feet back.  Anticipating
a moments pause in his defense, she pressed her attack.  Mike went down
as she reached him, trying to flip Akane past him with his legs.  Akane
stopped just in time, surprised at his quick response.  She gathered her
wits as he sprang to his feet after rolling away from her again.  She
could see Ranma shaking his head.

        "He's not Johnathon, Akane, stop treating him like he is."
Ranma commented.

        Akane grimaced.  "Alright, Ranma, I kind of figured that out
already!"  She charged Mike, attacking him with a rapid combination of
punches and kicks, but not putting too much effort into them, so he
couldn't take advantage of her movement again.  Soon Mike found himself
backed into a corner, and blocked hastily as Akane started connecting.
Akane felt several punches slip past Mike's guard and strike him
solidly.  She almost expected him to halt the match there, but he
didn't.  When Akane paused for that moment, Mike threw his first punch.

        Akane grinned and stepped into it, grabbing Mike's arm and
moving to throw him.  < Hah, that was too easy.>  Her amusement ended as
Mike somehow didn't leave the ground.  < Ugh... He's so... heavy!>  She
grunted as Mike once again started to wrap his long arms around her
throat.  "Oh no you...don't!"  She shouted, and poured on the power.
With a snap, almost as if a line had broken, Mike sailed into the air,
across the yard, and into the wisteria tree.  He snapped off several
small branches as he crashed out of the tree and fell heavily to the
ground.  She gasped.  'Mike-san!"  < Why'd he fly so far?  He was so
heavy a minute ago?>

        Mike slowly sat up and shook his head.  "Ouch."  He said with no
rancor.  "Wow, you're good, Akane.  I could tell you were holding back a
lot."

        Akane looked relieved.  < I guess he's OK.>  She went over to
help him up. "Well, I didn't want to hurt my bother-in-law's...
brother.  Your not bad Mike-san.  What style was that? I didn't
recognize it."

        Mike let her help him too his feet, concealing the huge amount
of pain he was feeling.  "Ah, a few different style really... Though I
guess I mainly used..."

        "Tai-Chi,"  Ranma interrupted.  "To counter Akane's aggressive
straight attacks, you used a passive, circular form.  You got some good
potential there, Mike."  He shook his finger at Akane.  "You shoulda
known that.  Don't try ta throw a Tai Chi master...  it don't work.
You're just lucky Mike-san lost his focus so fast."

        Mike and Akane blinked.  Mike suddenly looked back at the fence
Akane had thrown him from, measuring the distance to the tree with his
eyes.  Akane just looked at Mike.  "So that's why you were so heavy..."

        Mike looked back at her, a mildly amazed look on his face.
"Wow.  You're strong Akane!  I didn't think my centering had worked."

        From the patio door, Clara Dwire's voice rang out.  "Dinner time
everyone!"   Ranma was halfway to the door before the other two even
started moving.

        Akane followed after, glancing back at Mike.  "Are you coming,
Mike-san?"

        He nodded.  "Yes, be there in a minute."  He watched them go and
carefully modified his breathing before walking slowly towards the
door.  < Oww, oww, oww.  Ah, pain my old enemy.>  Slowly his pace
increased as he mastered the new aches he had just acquired.  < Boy was
that a mistake. If that's sparring, I really better not make her mad! Oh
well, at least I think I learned something..>  He was inside before it
occurred to him.  < Ack! What if she finds out what happened between
Kasumi and me?  I'll be lucky if she just kills me quick!>  He sighed.
< I shouldn't let it bother me that much.   What will happen... will
happen.  God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change.>

        As Akane sat down at the table she reflected.  < I wonder if
that's how Ranma feels when he spars with me.  I had to really hold back
to avoid hurting Mike-san... though I think I did get a little too
enthusiastic back there. At least he doesn't look hurt.  I guess he's at
least as tough as his brother... though Johnathon's stronger and a bit
faster I think.>

        Johnathon and Kasumi came last to the table.  Akane noticed
Johnathon's nervousness, though he was trying hard to hide it.  Kasumi
however looked relieved about something, if a trifle nervous.  < What's
going on?>  Akane wondered.  Her curiosity had to wait however, as he
started a conversation with his brother about the current situation of
several old friends.  Ranma barely restrained his usually voracious
appetite and he ate in an almost civilized fashion for once.  The meal
passed quickly, and Akane thanked the Dwires for the food, for it had
been quite good, even though her preoccupation had kept her from
enjoying it fully.  Mike excused himself as the meal ended.  "I think
I'll just catch up with John, alright?"  The brothers walked together
into the backyard.  Akane watched them casually leap over the back
fence.  She nodded.  < I think I'll have a talk with my sibling too.>

        She followed Kasumi back to her room.  Kasumi sat down on her
bed and looked at her politely.  "Yes Akane?  Is something bothering
you?"

        Akane nodded.  "Yes, what ever is bothering you, that's what."

        Kasumi blinked.  "Oh?  I am sorry Akane, I didn't realize it was
that obvious."

        Akane sat down next to her.  "So, what is bothering you,
Kasumi?  You can tell me."

        Kasumi hesitated, blushing slightly.  "It's a little personal,
Akane."

        Akane paused, then spoke up.  "Well, you don't have to tell me
if you don't want too.  I'm just worried about you.  Did something bad
happen today?" Akane sighed.  "I suppose getting kidnapped counts, but,
it seems like something else is bothering you."

        Kasumi smiled faintly.  "To tell you the truth, getting
kidnapped wasn't too bad.  I knew things would turn out, for me at
least.  I was really most worried about you three, and those poor
girls."  She shook her head.  "It was something else."  Akane waited
patiently and Kasumi sighed.  "Akane, do you remember how Shampoo used
to sneak into the bath... with Ranma?"

        Akane's face clouded angrily.  "I wish I could forget.  I know
he never did anything about it, but...."

        Kasumi nodded.  "Ranma has a lot more self control then most
people give him credit for.  Thankfully, so does Michael."  She blushed
again.  "I fell into the tub with him...  It was an accident, and
nothing happened, but... I'm afraid he has gotten the idea that I was
trying to seduce him...."  She blushed deeper red and turned away.

        Akane sat in stunned silence.  "You... Michael... the bath?  How
in the world...?  It was an ACCIDENT?"

        Kasumi nodded quickly, her head still turned away.  "I would
never have... done that on purpose... I... I...."

        Akane spoke up.  "I believe you Kasumi.  Of course I do!  It's
just... oh my."

        Kasumi smiled faintly.  "Isn't that my line?  Anyway, I told
Johnathon, but he doesn't know what to do any more than I do.  Michael's
eyes were covered when I fell on him, so he doesn't know about the
curse, and I can't think of any other explanation that makes sense."

        Akane frowned.  "But... can't you just tell him the truth,
Kasumi?"

        Kasumi shook her head.  "No.  Even if Johnathon were willing,  I
am not. To tell Michael about the curse... knowing that he could do
nothing... it would hurt him, Akane.  I don't want to hurt anyone."  She
sighed lightly.  "My reputation is not such a big price to pay, really."

        Akane decided to ask.  "Well, why can't you tell him it was just
a mistake?   That you thought he was Johnathon or something?"

        Kasumi shook her head.  "We thought of that, but I'm afraid
Michael knew that Johnathon was with you two at the time."

        Akane shook her head helplessly, trying to come up with another
reason.  "Oh... but...." She pondered.  "Maybe..."  She shook her head
as something occurred to her.  "Kasumi, do you... well, want to sleep
with him?"

        Kasumi found herself surprised a the suggestion, but she
considered the question carefully.  "Oh my, I hadn't thought about it
like that..."  She paused in contemplation.  "I suppose It's only
natural that I be a bit attracted to him, and I am a bit curious as to
how much he differs from Johnathon, but really, my husband is more than
enough for me."

        Akane smiled a bit at Kasumi's simple summation.  She frowned
then in thought.  "Well then..." She said slowly,  "Why don't you just
tell him you... changed your mind?"

        Kasumi looked interested.  "Changed my mind?"

        Akane nodded, warming to the idea.  "Yes, like it was a spur of
the moment idea, and now that you've had time to think about it, you've
changed your mind."

        Kasumi nodded slowly.  "Well, it doesn't paint me in the best
light... and I hope it doesn't hurt his feelings too badly, but that
does sound like an excellent idea, Akane.  I know it will make Johnathon
happy."

        Akane smiled with genuine pleasure.  "I'm really glad I could
help, Kasumi."  < I guess all those crazy misunderstandings with Ranma
have had at least one good effect.  Although most people wouldn't think
experience with fixing misunderstandings caused by magical curses to be
a useful skill.> She chuckled.  < Who would have thought that I would be
giving advice to Kasumi, and that she would take it?  Things have
definitely changed in the past year.>

        Kasumi smiled thoughtfully at her youngest sister.  "Thank you,
Akane. You've really grown up.  Mother would be very proud of you."

        Akane blushed in embarrassment and pleasure.  "Do you really
think so, big sister?"

        Kasumi nodded.  "I know so."  She glanced out the back door and
stood up. "Johnathon and his brother are back.  I think it's time we all
had a talk. I think we will be able to  work this out."

        Akane nodded hopefully.  "Good luck, Sis."

        Kasumi nodded and went to the back door to join her husband and
his twin.

        ********************************

        Driving back to his apartment that night, Michael Dwire wrestled
with his confusion.  < One thing is clear.>  He told himself.  < John
was lying to me tonight.  If I'm not badly mistaken, Kasumi was too.
They are sharing a secret of some kind, and don't want me to know.>
Michael shook his head. "Why doesn't John trust me?  He's never lied to
me before... at least, not about anything important...."  Michael
frowned.  < Except for last year, when he wouldn't talk to me for
months, while he wandered around China for no apparent reason....  He
wouldn't even tell me that much!  I had to find out that much from
another source.>

        Michael gripped his steering wheel tight in frustration.
"Johnathon NEVER lies to me!  Except he did today.  He won't admit it,
but I know it.  There is more to this than I can see, and John will not
admit it."  Michael tapped his steering wheel thoughtfully.  "I wonder
if I can find out more the same way I found out Johnathon was going to
China...."  He nodded grimly to himself.  "It's expensive, but...."
Determined now to his course, Michael Dwire accelerated his small car,
anxious to get back to his apartment to get started.

        *****************************

        Setsuna Meiou was starting to get annoyed.  For the third time
in as many weeks she had been surprised by something.  Mrs. Tsukino had
just called her at home, to inform her that she didn't need to pick up
Usagi for her martial arts class.  The Senshi of time suddenly found
herself about to say something she hadn't had reason to for longer than
recorded history.

        "Why?"  Setsuna asked, trying not to let her wince travel across
the phone lines too audibly.  "Is Usagi-chan ill?"

        Setsuna could hear Mrs. Tsukino's breath catch slightly before
she answered.  "No, Usagi isn't sick.  She simply will be staying home
this week."  The barely noticeable stress in her voice made Setsuna
guess that there was a lot more to it than that, but guessing wasn't
something she enjoyed doing.

        "Thank you for calling me."  Setsuna hesitated then continued.
"I'm sorry to hear Usagi can't make it.  She really seems to be
benefiting from the class."

        The silence on the other end of the line was maddening.
"Yes...."  Mrs. Tsukino finally answered.  "Well, I'll call you if
things change.  Thank you for your help."  Setsuna could hear the
dismissal in Mrs. Tsukino's tone and said her good-byes.  After she had
hung up, she sat down on the couch to think.

        Hotaru Tomoe was standing in the doorway with a concerned
expression on her young face.  "Is Usagi alright?  Why isn't she coming
to class?"

        Setsuna looked up distractedly.  "Hmm?  I don't know...." She
paled slightly for a moment before grimacing.

        Hotaru was looking at her as if she had just grown a pair of
antenna. "Pu... I've never heard you say that before."

        Setsuna frowned.  "I've never claimed to be omnisentient,
Hotaru-chan."

        Hotaru blinked.  "Omni... what?"

        Setsuna shook her head.  "I don't know everything, Hotaru.  That
would be a bit much."  < But I should have know about whatever effects
the princess....   What could possibly....>  She blinked.  "Of course...
the Jusenkyo curse must be throwing off my sight!  But which curse
caused the change?"

        Hotaru looked thoughtful.  "Maybe Luna's Jusenkyo curse.  She
lives with Usagi, after all."

        Setsuna blinked and glanced back at the young girl, not having
realized she had been speaking aloud.  < These events are throwing me
off more than I thought.  I can't let myself get this distracted.
Still, Hotaru-chan has a point.>  "You are most likely correct.  I will
have to investigate."

        Hotaru looked pleased.  "I am?  Pu... can I help you
investigate?"

        Setsuna looked at the Senshi of Silence with a slight smile.  "I
don't see why not."

        ****************************

    Usagi lay on her bed, staring up at the ceiling.  It had been two
days since her parents had grounded her.  Two days since they had found
her and Luna "Diana" in such a compromising position.  She had run out
of tears on the first day.  Now she was just numb.  Not being allowed to
see Luna, being grounded for an entire month, seemed so completely
unreal that it was hard to sustain her grief.

    Usagi sighed.  < If only mother didn't take away my manga collection
again!>  She turned over on her stomach.  <Not only am I a prisoner in
my room, but I'm going to go stark raving mad from boredom as well!>
Burying her head in her pilliow, Usagi sighed again, more dramatically.
<Setsuna would be coming by to pick me up for class in a few minutes,
except I'm grounded!  There's no way mother is going to let me out of
the house.  No way at all...."

    Usagi found herself being shaken awake by her mother.  "Usagi,
Usagi, wake up!  Its time for you to go to class."

    Usagi blinked blearally.  "What?  Huh?  Wait... class?  Aren't I
grounded?"

    Ikuko looked down at her rumbled looking daughter and sighed.  "Your
father and I desided you should keep going.  Its a good idea for you to
learn some martial arts, what with all the monster attacks that seem to
happen around here."  The older woman frowned.  "Not that I'd want you
to get involved, but it is best to be prepared.  Besides, if you stopped
going for a month you'd be so behind that you would never catch up."

    Usagi shot up.  "I can go?"  She glanced at the clock.  "Oh my god
I'm going to be late!  Setsuna will be here any minute!"

    Ikuko got up off the bed and stood.  "You have a few minutes.  Oh,
and Setsuna won't be driving you today.  Naru's mother offered to drive
you, since they live so close."

    Usagi blinked.  "Naru's mother?"

    Ikuko nodded.  "Yes, Naru-chan is going to be joining your class
starting today.  I was talking with her mother and she desided that
martial arts classes were a wonderful idea.  Won't that be nice, having
your best friend come along?"

    Usagi nodded automatically, smiling weakly.  <Naru-chan?  Oh god, it
has been ages since we've hung out together.  Ever since I became Sailor
Moon, I've spent less and less time with her.  She's never said
anything, but....>

    Ikuko went to the door.  "Now you'd better get ready.  Come down
when you're dressed."

    Her mind whirling, Usagi dressed rapidly and rushed downstairs.  As
she arrived, her mother was talking with Naru's mother, while Naru stood
to the side, waiting.

    Upon seeing Usagi, Naru's face brightened into a pleasent smile.
"Hi Usagi!"

    Usagi smiled back happily.  <Perhaps Naru isn't sore at me after
all.>  "Hi Naru-chan!  You're coming to martial arts class with me?"

    Naru nodded, looking wryly at Usagi.  "Yeah, mom got a urge to
protect me all of a sudden.  I suppose it couldn't hurt though.  With
everything that's happened to me in the last few years, I could swear
I'm a magnet for monster attacks."  She sighed.  "At least I haven't
been attacked in the last year."

    Usagi chewed on her lip, trying to hide her nervousness.  <Most of
those monster attacks were my fault.  You haven't been attacked in the
last year, Naru, because I haven't been hanging out with you.>  She
smiled, trying to get rid of her worry.  <At least there aren't any more
monsters around now.>

    Naru's mother turned to them.  "Shall we go, girls?  We don't want
to be late."

    Usagi was surprised to find Umino sitting in Naru's mother's car.
"Hi Usagi!"  The young man squinted at her through his huge glasses.
"When I heard Naru was going to a self defence course, I signed up as
well!  I've heard really interesting things about the Tendo Dojo...."

    As Umino launched into a rant about all the gossip about the Tendo
Dojo and its inhabitants, Usagi closed her eyes and sighed.  <At least
I'm getting to see everyone at class.  I hope Luna's OK.>

        ************************************

    Setsuna nodded to herself in satisfaction.  "Accidentally" bumping
into Naru's mother in the supermarket and encuraging her to enroll Naru
in martial arts classes had worked  as predicted.  Usagi's mother would
be reasured enough by Naru's presence with Usagi to allow her to
continue training, and the slight risk of Naru discovering the Senshi's
secret was negligible, especially now that the Dojo's classes were
gathering plenty of other students.  Having as many of the Dojo's
students as friends and allies of the Senshi as possible wasn't a bad
bonus at all, either.

    Setsuna let her "Sight" fade and opened the front door for Hotaru,
who was about to knock.

    Hotaru blinked, then walked in the house.  "Thank you,
Sestuna-san."  She paused.  "I went around and asked all the other
Senshi if they knew what happened to Usagi, but no one did.  Now what?"

    Setsuna smiled.  "Why, we just ask Usagi herself.  Its time to go to
the Tendo's for class."

    Hotaru looked confused.  "I thought Usagi couldn't make it.  You
didn't...."  Hotaru wiggled her fingers.  "You know, mess with time or
anything, did you?"

    Setsuna shook her head.  "Nothing so vugar.  Sometimes much more
subtle methods are just as effective."

        *******************************

    Nabiki checked her email before getting ready for Ryoga's class.
There was something new from an old, and profitable source.

    "Hmm...."  Nabiki murmered to herself.  "This is facinating."
Around 6 months before, an anonmous source had been asking around the
net for information on Johnathon Dwire.  Nabiki had seen a source for
some easy money, and had made contact.  After feeding the source some
information about Johnathon's possible whereabouts, for a nice fee, of
course, she hadn't seen any more from that address until just now.
"Well, my mysterious stranger wants to know more about Johnathon Dwire,
eh?  Anything unusual that happened to him in the last eight months?
Now, what do I tell him?"  Nabiki pondered the matter for several
minutes.  "I wonder how much I could get?"  She frowned.  "No, Kasumi
would never forgive me.  I don't sell out family... without very good
reason, anyway."  She started to type out a noncommital response.  "I'll
just lead whoever it is on for awhile, and see if I can't find out who
this really is."

        *******************************

    Michael sat back at his computer.  <My Nerima informant knows
something, I know it.  I wonder how much money it's going to cost me to
find out what?>  He began typing out another message to
IceQueen@infomail.com.  <I guess I'm going to find out.>
 

end of Chapter 12
 


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