*I don't own any rights to anything connected with Sailor Moon. I'm just doing this for fun.
*Lyrics to "The Dance" by Tony Arata, copyright 1989 Morganactive Songs Inc. From the album "The Dance," by Dave Koz, copyright 1999 Capitol Records. Used without permission (it's a great album, though!)

Interlude
by Moon Momma

* * * * * * * *

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared neath the stars above,
For a moment all the world was right.
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye?

And now, I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance --
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance.

* * * * * * * *

Naru stirred, and awoke. Had it all been some strange nightmare? "Masato," she murmured. It took her a minute to realize that her head was pillowed on Sailor Moon's legs, and that it was Sailor Moon's gloved hands stroking her hair, soothing her. "It's all right now, Naru-chan," Sailor Moon whispered to her.

Naru struggled to a sitting position. "Where's Masato-san?"

"He's gone, Naru."

Naru whipped her head around to stare in horror at the sailor-suited heroine. "You killed him!"

"No, no. I mean, he left. Naru, you have to listen to me. He's bad, he's dangerous, he doesn't care about you or anyone."

"That isn't true! He saved me from that horrible old woman!"

Sailor Mars knelt down next to Naru. "Listen, Naru. He and that youma were both from the Dark Kingdom. Who knows what kind of rivalries are going on between those evil people? That's why he attacked the youma, not to save you. Before he left, we asked him to consider your feelings and stop using you, and he laughed!"

"It isn't true!" Naru insisted again, but with less certainty. Tears spilled from her eyes.

"Naru-chan --" Sailor Moon started to say, but Sailor Mercury interrupted her. "She's in no shape to listen now. The best thing we can do now is get her home safely." She and Sailor Moon helped Naru stand up. "Come on, Naru-chan," Sailor Moon said. "We'll take you home."

Naru pulled herself out of their grasp. "I want to be alone for a while."

"But, Naru --" Sailor Mars started to protest.

"Leave me alone!" Naru cried, running out of the park into the city night. She couldn't run for very long, because she was wearing heels. Gradually she slowed to a walk, taking the long way around the park back towards home. Suddenly she realized she was holding the crystal she had taken from her mother's shop; apparently it hadn't been the one Masato-san needed, after all. She dropped it into the pocket of her skirt.

She sniffled as she walked, letting the tears run freely down her cheeks, while she wondered if any girl had ever been as confused about love as she was. Sanjouin Masato was so handsome and sophisticated; she could hardly believe that someone like him would ever notice her. True, strange things often happened around him, but she just couldn't believe that he was evil. His voice, his touch, the way he looked at her, were all so gentle. And though he was twice her age, she felt, deep down, an elemental, instinctive connection to him, something that she could never express in words but was undeniably there. Surely he had to feel it, too.

Behind her she heard the purr of a car engine at low speed, slowing down beside her. Belatedly she thought of kidnappers, and looked over her shoulder at the car. It was a red Ferrari. She stopped walking, and the car stopped next to her. Masato reached over and opened the passenger side door. No words passed between them; they simply looked at each other, until Naru decided to accept the unspoken invitation. She got into the car, fastened her seat belt, and closed the door.

They drove in silence through the city to the wooded foothills. At the end of a long, winding dirt road, a huge old mansion showed in the headlights through the trees. Masato pulled the car up near the front door and shut off the engine. The mansion and its surrounding pine trees looked ghostly in the moonlight.

He got out of the car first, came around, and opened her door for her. Then, with a hand lightly placed behind her shoulders, he guided her into the house. He didn't touch any buttons or switches, but lights came on and soft jazz music began playing from a sound system somewhere. This ground floor was one huge room, simply but comfortably and expensively furnished with groupings of sofas and chairs upholstered in cream and hunter green leather. Opposite the front door was a French double door. Near this back door was a bar. Masato took off his jacket, then poured himself a glass of whiskey over ice. After looking Naru over with a calculating eye, he poured about two centimeters of white wine into a goblet and handed it to her. Naru had never tried wine before, but she didn't think this would be enough to get her drunk.

Still without saying a word, Masato opened the French doors and guided her out onto the patio there. It was really more of a balcony, since the ground sloped away at the back of the house and from here one could look into the middle height of the trees a short distance away. He left the doors open so that the music drifted outside.

Naru leaned against the railing, looking out into the woods, which were dimly lit by the light from the house. Masato also leaned against the railing, sideways, facing her. There was a soft clink of ice as he sipped his drink. He finally spoke. "Why did you do it?"

She looked at him. So many things had happened that night, so quickly; she still felt confused about it all. "What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean. Why did you put yourself between me and the Moon Tiara? I assume you've seen what that little Frisbee trick of Moon's can do, haven't you?" For some reason, his voice sounded rougher, deeper, more gravelly. Was it fatigue, or emotion, or was this his real voice, his private voice?

Naru thought about all the strange things that had been happening the last few months, the monsters that had appeared around the city, all too often in places where Naru was. Every time, Sailor Moon had showed up to save the day with that spinning golden disc. "Yes, I have."

"Didn't it scare you?"

"I -- I guess so."

He looked out into the woods now. "Scared the hell out of me."

"What scared me more was the thought of what it would do to you. I would rather die than see you destroyed like that."

"Why?"

She also looked out towards the trees. "You heard me tell the Sailor Senshi."

"I want you to tell me."

Naru sipped a little of her wine. It didn't taste at all like juice, like she had thought it would. It was sharp and strange. She rolled the stem of the goblet between her fingers, wondering why she suddenly felt so shy and intimidated. She tried to summon some of the boldness she had felt a few weeks ago, that night at the department store. "I did it because I love you."

"Why?"

She turned towards him in surprise. "What do you mean?"

"Why would you love someone like me?"

It was a question she never would have expected from him. He was always in the society columns, at some glamorous party or nightclub, always with one of half a dozen different, gorgeous mystery women. She would have thought he would take being loved for granted. "Well, it's -- It isn't like a checklist or something, where I go, ok, he's handsome and he's rich and he drives a red Ferrari and he's a good dancer, so that means I'll love him. It's more like, even though I don't really know you very well, I feel, deep inside, like I know you better than anyone else in the world, and you know me the same way. I love you because of you."

"Sailor Moon tried to warn you about me, didn't she? You saw me try to kill her and the other Scouts tonight. And you must have noticed that I've got a wild reputation around town."

"I don't believe any of that," Naru said. She felt her confidence returning. "I believe what my heart says."

"And what does it say?"

"That in spite of what you do or what anyone says about you, you are a good man."

He laughed, a short, cynical sound. "That just shows how little you know. I am incapable of loving anyone or anything. I do what I must, to advance the cause I serve, and lately I've been doing more for the sake of my own self-preservation than for my cause. I'll lie, steal, betray, kill, whatever it takes to get what I want, without regard for the harm or good it does to anyone else. I don't love myself, I don't love my allies, and I don't love you. What does your heart say now?"

He was facing her now, and she met his eyes. "It says that liars are best at lying to themselves."

Abruptly, he turned away from her, and went to the railing at the far end of the balcony. They stood in silence for a long time, until a new song came on, a dreamy, sophisticated Big Band ballad. Naru heard Masato walk over to her. He took her hand and turned her to face him. "Will you dance?"

She smiled her answer, and set her drink down on top of the rail. He took her into his arms, and they began to dance. This was different from the formal waltz they had shared at the Diamond Embassy ball; this was closer, more casual, more intimate. Masato's right hand was at the small of her back; with his left hand he held her right hand against his shoulder. Her left hand gripped at his right shoulder, entangled in his long hair. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, he pulled her closer during the course of the dance until she could rest her head against his chest as they moved together. She closed her eyes and hoped she wouldn't start crying. If there was to be one perfect moment in her life, this was it, dancing so close with Masato under the moon and stars, alone except for the trees.

Too soon, the song ended; he held her a few seconds longer, then let go. He was still standing next to her, and she asked, "What was that song called?" She wanted to make sure she always remembered it.

"Moonlight Serenade, by Glenn Miller." After a moment, he added wryly, "How appropriate."

The mood was broken. Naru walked back to her drink on the rail. She picked up the goblet, fiddled with it, set it down again.

"I'll take you home now. Do you want to finish your drink?" Masato asked.

"I guess not. I'm not really used to wine."

"Leave your glass there. I'll get it later." Again with the light touch behind her shoulders, he guided her into the house. They went out the front door, got into the car, and drove away in silence. Naru leaned her face against the window, watching as the woods changed to suburbs and the suburbs changed to city streets. There was little traffic at this hour, but enough that she started to become hypnotized by the passing headlights. She suddenly realized how desperately tired she was; how would she ever get up for school in the morning?

Masato stopped the car in front of the jewelry store. He got out and opened the passenger door for Naru, then walked her to the private entrance, that led to the second-floor apartment where Naru lived with her mother. They faced each other. Masato brushed his fingers along Naru's jawline. "I wish I could know what you know, Naru," he whispered.

He went back to his car, got in, and drove away. Naru stood, watching the taillights disappear into the city night. "You are a good man, Sanjouin Masato, even if you don't know it," she whispered. Then she pushed the buzzer, wondering how she would explain her late night to her mother.

* * * * * * * *

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