Enemy's Choice
by Moon Momma

Chapter 2

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Nephrite deposited the unconscious young girl on the worn leather sofa in his living quarters on the upper floor of his mansion. He touched her forehead to put a sleep spell on her; he needed her to stay put for a while. Then he teleported to the Dark Kingdom.

Contrary to his triumphant expectations, Beryl was not pleased to see him. "Nephrite, come here," she ordered him as soon as he arrived.

Nephrite approached cautiously. Something was wrong. "Yes, Queen Beryl-sama?"

"Nephrite, explain this, if you please." She indicated the crystal ball into which she was constantly gazing.

Nephrite peered into the ball, and was most unpleasantly surprised to see Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen standing on the roof of the department store with the other two Sailor Senshi. "Damn," he whispered harshly. How had they escaped from the trap he had set? "I - I can't explain it, Queen Beryl-sama. I don't know how -"

"You guaranteed me that you would destroy Sailor Moon with this plan. So why didn't you?"

Nephrite was at a complete loss for words. He clenched his hands into trembling fists. Things had suddenly gone so very wrong. "I -"

From behind him he heard soft, all-too-familiar laughter. "You failed again, Nephrite. If you aren't careful, you're going to end up just like Jadeite." Nephrite turned his head to scowl at Zoisite. "Queen Beryl-sama," Zoisite continued, "Nephrite broke his promise to destroy Sailor Moon. Don't you think he deserves Eternal Sleep?"

Nephrite trembled even harder at the thought of the punishment. Death would be far preferable -

"The energy Nephrite brought back for me is very powerful. I won't punish him this time."

Nephrite's eyes widened in shock at the unexpected reprieve.

"Queen Beryl-sama!" Zoisite protested.

"I can always punish him later," the Queen said softly. She fixed Zoisite with a cold stare. "Zoisite, if you have time to be worrying about Nephrite's business, you should work harder on locating the Silver Crystal."

Now it was Zoisite's turn to look alarmed. "Y - Yes, Queen Beryl-sama."

Nephrite couldn't quite suppress a grin of satisfaction. Back-stabbing little rat, it served him right to be afraid of Beryl for once.

"Do not fail me again, Nephrite," Beryl said.

"Yes, Queen Beryl-sama." Nephrite bowed, then teleported back to his mansion before she could change her mind.

As he had hoped, the girl was still asleep. He poured himself a scotch on ice - stars, he needed a drink, after the evening he'd had - then changed into his Sanjouin Masato clothes, pulled an armchair around in front of the couch so he could keep an eye on the sleeping girl, and sat down to think about what to say to her.

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Naru slowly woke up, struggling out of confusing, frightening dreams. Her head hurt, and she felt terribly weak, as though she'd been sick. She was on a leather sofa in a dimly-lit, unfamiliar room. A man with long dark hair, wearing light-colored pants and shirt, sat in an armchair a meter or so away from her. His legs were crossed, and he cradled a cut-crystal glass containing ice cubes and a few centimeters of amber liquid in his left hand. "Sa - Sanjouin-sama?"

"Ah." His smile was shadowy in the faint light of the room. "You're awake."

"What happened?" she asked, trying to clear her head enough to piece together the evening's events. He had been wearing some kind of disguise, one minute he had been so kind and the next he was scary and angry.... "Why did you think I was Sailor Moon?"

Another brief smile. "That? I do apologize for the mistake. I'm sorry I frightened you; I didn't mean to."

"That's okay -" Naru tried to sit up, but she was too weak, and the movement made her head spin. She lay back down again.

"Excuse me." Sanjouin disappeared behind a partition. Naru heard a refrigerator open and close, a clink of glass, liquid being poured. He came back out, holding a glass of something dark, and offered it to her. "It's only juice, I promise. No alcohol." His smile was gentle and reassuring.

Naru took the glass and sipped, and started feeling better almost immediately. She sat up, rubbing her head, where the ache was already starting to subside.

"Better?" Sanjouin asked.

She nodded.

"As I said, I apologize for what happened this evening. I feel that I owe you an explanation. I'm also hoping that you could be of some assistance to me."

How could someone like him possibly need my help? "Um, okay, I guess..."

"As you've already surmised, I'm the one who sent those letters in Tuxedo Kamen's name. I did that, and disguised myself as him, in order to get Sailor Moon to meet with me.

"But why --?"

He chuckled a little. "No need to look so alarmed, Miss - Osaka, was it?" Naru nodded. "I am not an enemy of Sailor Moon. I have no intention of hurting her. She does a lot of good, and I have nothing but admiration for her. I urgently need to meet with her because I've discovered that she is being manipulated by an evil force. Of course, she has no idea that her commanders have evil intentions. I need to warn her. But I have no idea who she really is or how to get in contact with her. Thus the trick I was forced to play tonight."

"How do you know all of this?"

A brief, shadowy smile. "I'm in a position to know these sorts of things. I'm afraid I can't give you any more details than that; otherwise, a number of people could be endangered. Including yourself. For now, I can only ask you to trust me.

"I..." Naru wasn't sure what to think. His behavior at the department store had been so strange and frightening, but there was a good reason for it, and he was being so kind to her now. She looked him directly in the face; he met her gaze steadily. He was so nice, and so handsome, and he needed her help. "Okay, I guess." Really lame, Naru-chan, she thought. Can't you say something besides that? "Um, what do you need me to do?"

"I need you to help me find a person and a thing. The person is Sailor Moon, of course. I have good reason to believe that she is a young girl about your age, and that she possibly lives in your area of Tokyo, perhaps even attends your school. If you can observe, listen, perhaps ask a few discreet questions, you may be able to identify Sailor Moon for me. After all, you belong in Sailor Moon's world and I don't."

"Okay," Naru said uncertainly. If someone she knew was really Sailor Moon, she had no idea who it could be. But she would try to find out, for Sanjouin Masato-sama.

"The object I need help in finding is a certain jewel, called the Silver Crystal. It's a very powerful jewel; it can be used for great good or great evil. Sailor Moon's masters are also seeking the Crystal. If Sailor Moon were to find it before I can, the results for this world would be devastating."

"But Sailor Moon wouldn't hurt anyone!"

"True. Or at least, not intentionally. But even with the most innocent or well-meaning intentions, the Silver Crystal can cause great destruction if it's used wrongly. My mission is to find the Silver Crystal before Sailor Moon does, and put it away for safekeeping, where it can do no harm."

"Do you have any idea where to look for it?"

"I'm afraid I don't, Miss Osaka -"

"Naru-chan is okay, like you called me before. At the mall this afternoon." Naru said it before she realized what she was saying. She felt a little frightened by her own boldness, now and earlier. I can't believe I actually told him I love him, she thought, her cheeks burning.

Sanjouin-san didn't seem offended by her forwardness, though. "Ah. All right. Naru-chan it is, then. You may call me Masato, if you wish. If we are going to work together effectively, we need to be friends." He smiled yet again, and Naru suddenly felt something warm bubble up inside her. "As I was saying, Naru-chan," he went on, "I don't know where to look for the Silver Crystal. At the moment, my best hope is to follow Sailor Moon as she searches for it. But perhaps your eyes and ears will discover things that I can't."

"Hmm." Naru thought for a moment. "Well, I don't know if you know this, but my mom owns a jewelry store. Maybe she'll hear something about a jewel like that, or there'll be something in the trade news about it."

"That's very possible, Naru-chan. You should be on the alert for any rumors about a large jewel of uncertain history and origin, possibly one that has mysterious occurrences connected with it."

"Sort of like the Curse of the Hope Diamond?" Naru asked.

"Yes, that sort of thing." Masato stood and placed his empty glass on a small, round table next to the sofa. Naru finished her juice, then did likewise.

"Come," Masato said. "It's time I took you home." He led her downstairs, through a vast, dark, echoing room, and through the mansion's front door to the driveway. A beautiful red Testarossa waited there; Masato opened the passenger-side door for Naru, then got in and started the car.

As they drove, Naru tried to keep track of the route they took, but it was unclear. None of the streets were familiar, and some of the corners seemed to disappear right after they turned them. But then it was late at night, and dark outside, so it shouldn't seem strange that she didn't know where they were.

"I want to thank you, Naru-chan, for your assistance. You're a doing a very great service to Earth and your fellow human beings."

Naru felt her cheeks redden. "Thank you."

"How would you like some free tennis lessons?" Masato-san asked.

Rather confused by the sudden change of subject, Naru looked at him. "I - guess that would be okay. Why?"

"It would make the perfect cover for our meetings, don't you think? I don't want Sailor Moon's masters to discover your involvement in this matter. I won't let them hurt you, but I would prefer that you not be endangered in the first place."

"Okay." That made sense. Then she smiled widely at the thought of spending lots of time with Masato-san. It was what she had dreamed of but hadn't hoped for, thinking he was too far above her, too distant, too unapproachable. "That would be great!"

He smiled back. "Good. Tomorrow afternoon, then."

The car suddenly swerved and screeched to a stop alongside the OSA*P shop. Naru hadn't even noticed they were back in her own neighborhood. A light shone from deep inside the store. Naru sighed a bit in relief. Her mother was working late in her office; she wouldn't see Naru sneak in the back doorway, and with any luck hadn't noticed her absence at all. "Tomorrow afternoon!" she agreed. She got out of the car, then leaned back in to wave goodbye. "Thanks for the ride!"

He waved back, then sped off into the night as Naru stood on the sidewalk, watching him.

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return to Index / go to Chapter 3

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury