2019-03-12 - TIMELINE 3: I Don't Need To Know Who You Are

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Title: I Don't Need To Know Who You Are

In the wake of a late-night battle, Sailor Moon and Ladybug finally have a chance to talk for a little while. Stress from keeping a secret identity secret is starting to make cracks show for at least one of them, though...


Sailor Moon, Ladybug


Game Center Crown

OOC - IC Date:

2019-03-12 - December 22nd, 2014

<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

There's a crescent moon overhead, shining its light down on the aftermath of battle. A spectre of the night, composed of a thousand crimson eyes blended with lurking shadows and menace, had stalked the alleys of Shitamachi. Whatever it had sought from its victims, it hissed of danger and death.

Unfortunately, its lightning-quick stalking had one weakness - it could only spring from shadow to shadow. For a brief instant, the overloaded sign of Game Center Crown shone like a noon-time sun, scattering darkness as if it were midday. A thousand crimson eyes winced in agony, and the monster screeched in fury - and then confusion, as an unbreakable string wrapped around it. "Now's your chance, Sailor Moon!"

The deed was done.

The battle over.

Perhaps uncharacteristically, though, Ladybug remained - perched atop the roof of the now-darkened arcade. There's a faint sizzle from the sign, and she winces at the odor - but she doesn't comment on it, only staring at the yo-yo held in one hand.

"...I'm glad I was able to help." She's been saying that, lately - saying it since the invasion and liberation of Ohtori, for which she'd been absent. More monster battles, even when not Akuma, popping up all over the city as needed...

But her shoulders still slump, and she looks off into the distance in silence for a moment. Belatedly, she shakes her head. "Sorry - are you all right, Sailor Moon?"

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Now's her chance?

"Moon Princess - HALATION!"

Coruscating crescents, glimmering pinwheels of sparkles, shining stars. And... it all fades to white.

There's only a sizzling sign left.

Sailor Moon looks like she's about to sink down in exhaustion. "Thank goodness...!" She's perhaps just a tad bruised up from the ambushes of it moving from shadow to shadow. For a while, she looks so very tired.

And then out of nowhere she just grasps Ladybug's hands, with her rod still in one of them and gives them an energetic shake. "That was amazing!" And she has this huge smile. It's a far cry from Chat Noir and their after battle ritual of fist bumps.

She doesn't hang on awkwardly long though or anything, taking this step back, and clasping her hands over her rod, with this look of admiration. "You did all that even without using your Lucky Charm - you're like an improvisation genius!"

And this coming from a girl that improvises a lot herself to defeat her monsters. You can only face enough speaker Youma before you learn to throw a microphone at them to defeat them via feedback.

Then a moment later she seems to remember the question at hand. "I'm okay!" Well she's made that abundantly obvious. "How about you? Nothing that'll show up when you change back?"

Sailor Moon rubs the back of her head, just grinning as if she doesn't have a care in the world. "Luckily I don't have to worry about anyone thinking anything of it." That kind of comment makes one wonder if Sailor Moon is into athletics or something... some kind of rough lifestyle where people would think nothing of bruises?

But no, it's just that she's so clumsy that everyone would assume that she simply took a bad spill - again.

<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

It's an awkward handshake, given that each of them is holding a mystical weapon in one hand. Still, Sailor Moon's smile is kind of infectious, and Ladybug can't help but grin beneath her mask in response. "Talking about your own achievements again?"

When the praise unavoidably turns her way, though, Ladybug almost fidgets with her yo-yo. "I've been...trying to rely on it a little less if I can. I only have a couple of minutes after using it before all this - " She gestures at herself, her mask in particular. " - goes away. But thanks - I'm just glad it worked. And wondering if I should leave an apology note for the arcade."

She crosses one foot behind herself as she speaks, hoping that it's not too big a lie. Five minutes, if she's honest...but she can't risk even a friend knowing that limit, right?

There's an awkward pointed question in response, and her eyes widen for a moment. "That - no, no, it's all fine. A few bumps here and there, I guess, but nothing that..." She trails off for a moment, and her head tilts almost comically at that carefree grin.

"...I really don't wish to pry, but how can you not worry about something like that? Aren't you concerned some enemy like Beryl might connect...I don't even know. I shouldn't ask, sorry." She sighs, the hand holding her weapon dropping to hang idly by her side as she leans her shoulder against a quickly cooling sign.

"...do I worry about this too much?" The thought slips out without thinking - and as soon as she says it, she purses her lips and glances away.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

As Sailor Moon is called out, she let's this little giggle, and her tongue slips out in a gesture like 'You caught me.' Though when Ladybug mentions leaving a note. Sailor Moon puts a finger to her chin, "Hmm." Then it's like she changes the angle of her head in thought, "Hmm." Then she decides, "I think it'll work out." She puts up a finger, "Motoki-san always says whenever one of the cabinets here breaks down that..."

This personal anecdote sounds like the wind up for some kind of heroic wisdom. And yet...

"'It's fine. It's fine. We have good insurance.'"

In the end it amounts to 'Don't worry about it. I'm sure it'll work out.'

Though she does add, "But... I'm glad you are. We rarely get to just talk like this after a battle you know." It's not like she blames Ladybug for having to run off before she changes back. She just seems a little sad perhaps that 'that's the way things are.' However Marinette asks the big question. Shouldn't she be worried? "Well... Luna says I need to be constantly vigilant. And..." The girl pulls her fingers apart, one still holding her rod, and back together... "... well I guess she's more right than I want her to be. I've had... a few really close calls. And..."

Sailor Moon cringes, "... one time - Nephrite did find out. Who I was." She closes her eyes, then does this small inhale through her nostrils, then an exhalation, "I was really worried when he did. That the Dark Kingdom might come after my friends and family. And then well..."

Her eyes slowly open, and her expression dims in it's cheer. "He died. He was... killed by one of his allies. It was horrible. So horrible I guess that for a while I forgot about... what he found out..."

Mostly because she was having to comfort one of the few people that mourned his passage, "...but... then I wondered. Did he tell anyone?"

It's a panic inducing thought. One deferred, but still present. Sailor Moon simply shakes her head. "He didn't. They... didn't trust each other. It feels kinda bad to say I lucked out... but I kinda did."

Finally her fingers lace together again over the rod, and she gives Ladybug a more sober look, "I don't know how much you worry about it, but I don't think being cautious is... bad?"

<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"Good insurance. I've been wondering how many plans cover Act Of Magical Girl..." It'll work out, probably, and at least that gets a little giggle from the girl in red.

She can't help but shrink in on herself a little bashfully when the rarity of these chats comes up. "It's...honestly, I kind of regret it too. Not being closer to everyone, always having to show up late and leave in a hurry..." She leans into the sign a little more, tucking one foot behind her ankle again. Sailor Moon goes on, though, and Ladybug's interest is practically palpable.

That interest turns to a horrified gasp, and she steps forward as that cheer finally dims. One step, another, and there's a hand on Sailor Moon's shoulder as wide masked eyes stare at her. "I...I'm glad you lucked out - but I'm so sorry you had to go through that..."

And then, almost as quickly, she backpedals a step, as if to regain that distance. It's like she's been struck, suddenly, words like a knife striking home. "Trust...maybe I'm making mistakes, Sailor Moon. There's cautious, there's paranoid, and then there's..."

Ladybug's yo-yo is magical, in many ways - it clips to her side with no trouble, shrinking slightly in the process. She turns partway, profile to Sailor Moon, and looks up at the crescent moon in the sky. "'No one can know who we are.' That's what Ti- my- what Tikki told me when we first met. Evil forces would seek the Miraculous Stones, and so their holders had to keep their identities secret...even from each other."

She laughs, once, but it doesn't seem funny. "Not even Chat Noir. Maybe that's why he barely talks to me these days - I haven't shown any trust in him, so why should he trust me? I've been so ridiculous about keeping my secret - leaving my magic at home sometimes to keep an alibi, showing up late to attacks to hide where I go to school..."

She blinks, twice, and turns to Sailor Moon. "I'm not allowed to trust anyone, apparently. Maybe being cautious isn't bad, but doing what I do? I wonder." She moves to wipe at her eyes, but stops - it'd be too awkward.

Even though the dampness makes her mask chafe.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed. 

Sailor Moon listens to Ladybug's regrets, her body language. And she sees that moment where there's a horrified gasp. She sees Ladybug backpedal, sees the horror. The doubt...

And hears the isolation. As a crybaby with far too much empathy for her own good - she's extra sensitive to when the tears come on in others.

The girl slowly steps forward, and there's something almost solemn about the way she does. "Hey..."

Once within distance, she puts her arms around her in a hug that wraps around to the back of the bodysuit of her henshin, and squeezes tightly. "... it's hard. It's hard what we do." The other girl whispers near her. "... keeping these kind of secrets from everyone. It's not easy. I'm lucky enough to have four girls who know who I am... who I can talk to about it. But for a while it was just me and... my mentor too."

There was a little pause, as she had to remember not to say Luna's name right now.

"And it just makes you feel so isolated doesn't it? You have Tikki - but she... well... she sets the rules. Just like mine does. And they're not always understanding about... how it makes you feel... right?" It's not like she blames Tikki - or Luna for that matter. It's simply that a sort of /duty/ compels them, as she understands with mascots.

Sailor Moon takes a step back, her arms sliding down Ladybug's arms, back to her hands, where she briefly squeezes them, then steps back. "You're not alone though."

It sounds like a promise, more than a statement of fact. "Maybe we don't know everything about each other - but we're all in this life together. I don't need to know who you are to know you're someone special to me." She holds up a finger, "And I bet the same is true for Chat Noir too." There's this almost infectious, tangible smile in that moment.

Sailor Moon waves her glove-covered palms, one hand still holding the rod in two fingers. "Anyhow... I can say all that - but maybe it's hard to let yourself believe it?"

The girl takes a deep breath, then exhales as a prelude to something. "So... believe this instead."

The girl puts a palm to her brooch, and suddenly her henshin unravels into so many pink and red ribbons. And instead of Sailor Moon, there stands a normal girl, Usagi Tsukino. Juuban third year middle schooler. Marinette's senpai. And as if there were more evidence required that she's Sailor Moon, the rod still persists, and the brooch is still hooked to her uniform.

It seems almost careless - after the story she told her. Couldn't someone still be watching?

"You don't need to reciprocate, Ladybug. I'd never ask you that." The girl shakes her long twintails, "In fact, I think you shouldn't if it would make you feel unsafe. Just..."

The girl trails off, then there's that smile back. "...know that you're not alone. That you don't have to feel that way. Whenever it's bothering you - whenever it's got you so twisted up you can't stand it anymore... you can always come talk to me. I promise - I'll understand."

Then those big luminous baby blue eyes blink twice, and Usagi Tsukino puts a finger to her chin. "Oh! I forgot to introduce myself um-" Usagi steps forward and holds out a hand, "Usagi Tsukino - third year middle school, Juuban." Then realizing she's offering the hand with the rod, quickly switches hands, and holds it behind her back, laughing. "Um. Yeah, it's kinda hard to hide this everywhere I go."

<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

There's comfort, unexpected in light of all the secrets and lies that Ladybug has kept close to her chest. While the other girl whispers, Ladybug just buries her face in Sailor Moon's shoulder. Just for a moment, right?

"...yeah, it's hard. Is it wrong that I'm a little jealous, that you have that many? Without my mask, my best friend is - is someone I can't breathe a word of this whole life to." She steps back when Sailor Moon does, hands in hands for a moment. "It's rough, yeah. We...butt heads a bit over how to approach this life..."

Maybe she doesn't entirely trust Homura Akemi's warnings. But she doesn't entirely trust Tikki's advice, either.

Sailor Moon says she's not alone, but...isn't she?

Ladybug looks up in surprise at being told she's special, blinking repeatedly. Words are cheap, and the reminder that she isn't supposed to trust anyone echoes in her ears. "I mean-"

And then Sailor Moon gives her something to believe in.

"What - you - " She's like a bird, practically in freeze-frame between flailing pointing and open staring in wanton disbelief. There's an entire stack of things to unpack, and she can barely decide where to begin. The rod and the brooch prove that it's not some simple bait-and-switch swap, but-

"You're...you're unbelievable! Se- Sail- Tsu- " She throws up her hands in exasperation, in disbelief, maybe just to be able to throw something. "You know how dangerous it is - you just told me! You have to worry, and hide, and lie, and -"

She hasn't taken the outstretched hand yet - there's instead a thump as she sits heavily on the roof, back against the arcade's darkened sign. "...I can't. I just - I can't do the right thing, and trust you in turn. Not yet. And it's not fair, I want to be able to answer you in kind, but..."

She buries her face in her knees. "...no one can know who I am. I'm sorry."

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Ladybug's reaction is definitely warranted, and Sailor Moon scratches the back of her head at first, Before finally nodding cheerfully, "I did say all that! And we do have to do all of those things." Usagi Tsukino agrees, "But it's my choice to share the secret with you. And it's my choice to take the risk..."

And Ladybug sits down on the ground, burying her face heavily in her knees. Usagi instead of keeping that hand outstretched, lowers herself down behind her, down on her knees on the rooftop, and uses a hand to rub her back. "I already said - you don't have to. You don't have to trust me. You don't have to share in the same way - especially if it makes you feel unsafe. I just chose to do so with you. That's all. I promise. I'm not disappointed in you or anything."

Instead she quietly whispers, "I'm proud of you - and I don't want to see you hurting if I can do anything about it. So shhh. It's okay. Don't worry about trusting me - or disappointing me - or just... anything like that for a while."

She murmurs supportively, trying to comfort her. "Just do what's right for you Ladybug. Anytime you want to vent your frustration, or want to cry about it and can't hold it in any longer - then I'm here for you. And if you think this means you can't trust me because I just showed you who I was - then it's enough for me to know that I at least gave you the option."

There's this pause, and for a while, all she does is try to soothingly rub her back. "Back during the North Pole... I heard... the voice of... well... the one who gave me my powers I think." It's hard to articulate that it's your mother in a past life to someone. So instead she says it another way, "Who gave me the responsibility to be Sailor Moon. And she told me to always remember that I'm a normal girl first."

Some further emotion enters into her voice, "And that... I guess... just means to be yourself. That I don't always have to be strong for everyone... that sometimes I can be weak for my own sake. I'm not Sailor Moon first - I'm Usagi Tsukino first. I'm clumsy... and a bit of a crybaby... and..."

There's this light sniff, "I want normal things. Like friends - and a boyfriend. Or just to sleep in some days... and to eat too much... and mess around and enjoy my youth. Duty? Responsibility? They don't always get that."

That voice becomes a faint whisper, "But /she/ understood that... and I do too."

<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

It's a choice. It's a risk. It's an extension of trust.

It's enough to make all the lies Ladybug had to tell over the past year feel like rocks in her gut, dragging her down. Even though Sailor Moon - even though Usagi says it's fine, and that she isn't disappointed, and that it's important to do what feels right...

More than anything else, Marinette truly wishes she could share her secret.

Ladybug lifts her head, slowly, turning to the girl beside her. She starts to speak, not hesitating - maybe she can't trust her voice, after all. But...maybe that's for the best.

It seems like Usagi needs to vent, too.

At the first sniff, there's a hand on Usagi's back in turn. As the voice fades to a whisper, it moves to her shoulder, as Ladybug leans in.

"Being normal...sounds pretty great. It's hard dealing with...new roles, new duties, and having the balance everything...all things considered, I think you've done a lot better at that than I have." Her free hand wipes at her eyes, even with the mask in the way. "There's so much I want to do, too -"

She hesitates again, a catch in her throat. Even talking about her interests, or anything connected to that life as a normal girl...but the cracks have been spreading for a year and something has to give. " - so much I've had to stay all professional about. All, 'keep your distance, citizens' or 'you won't win this time, villain' instead of just geeking out about AoAka or something. Maybe...Maybe I should put M-myself first."

There's a deep sigh, and she cradles her face in one hand. When she lifts it, though, the mask is still on - as secure as ever. The only change is that there's a little more of a smile, even tinged with sadness. "Thank you, Usagi-chan. For trusting me, for reminding me, for just being..."

Marinette had kind of underestimated her senpai, admittedly, so the blush on Ladybug's face is more than the mask can hide.

"...anyway, thanks. I'm still kind of stuck, but at least I'll try to offer this much." She takes the magical yo-yo from her side, tapping it once - and then much like a compact, it opens up to show a little video screen. "I've got a...I guess some kind of magic phone in this. I'm hoping we can exchange numbers, so if you ever need anything - anything at all! - you can reach me."

She turns, holding out the device for a contact-exchange tap, and as hunched in as her shoulders are there's a sheepish smile on her face. "Would that be okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

It's nighttime. Most students should be in bed, though frantic last-minute assignments aren't uncommon at this hour. Amid the darkness, there's a faint, practiced thump of footfalls on a balcony outside one dimly lit room, followed by the silent whisper of the balcony door opening and closing.

A gloved hand goes first to the desk, to pull a cozy-looking blanket off of the dressmaker's mannequin seated there. A few moments of folding, arranging, and setting the decoy back into a closet for another day's use, and the room is back to normal.

There's a faint flash of crimson light, washing away a disguise from head to toes and leaving Marinette in some comfortable pyjamas. It's the work of a moment to take off her earrings and set them on her bedside table, and she starts to reach for the switch that will turn off her lamps for the night.

"Marinette..." The voice of Tikki, released from the Miraculous stones moment before, interrupts the practiced movement. "I'm wondering...this hasn't been easy for you. Maybe...maybe you could at least-"

"No one can know, right?" Marinette doesn't face Tikki - doesn't dare to face her, not tonight. Right now, at least, her mask doesn't chafe and so she's free to wipe at her eyes with her sleeve. There's a hitch to her voice, a tension, an exhaustion. "That's the rule. We have to keep the Miraculous safe from those who would misuse it."

A touch of bitter sorrow, too, as her hand rests on the switch. "No one can ever know."