The new girl in the class stood nervously at the front of the room, waiting for the whispering to die down long enough for her to introduce herself. She was dressed in the girls' version of the school uniform, but it seemed to be a bit large for her. And she had blonde hair in a braid that stopped just below her knees.
Finally the teacher cleared his throat, and the room went absolutely silent. It was hard to tell if the blush on her cheeks was due to all her make-up or embarassment. In very hesitant English, she stated, "My name is Usagi Tsukino. I'm pleased to meet you."
"Very good," continued the teacher, who had barely looked up at her. "Why don't you go take a seat near Maxwell-kun and get him to show you around since he's rather new himself."
"Hai, sensei," she agreed then glanced around the room to see where she was supposed to be going.
It was a little hard to ignore the glares he was getting, but Duo shrugged them off with a smile as usual and raised his hand. She was sitting in the seat beside him so fast it seemed she flew.
"Arigatou, Maxwell-senpai," she whispered, sounding rather relieved.
"No problem," he whispered back, winking briefly at her. "Just call me Duo though, Usagi, okay?"
She smiled briefly then stopped, almost as if it hurt to do so. "Okay, Duo."
Over the next few hours, he was about to figure out a great many things about her. Though she was obviously still learning, she spoke better English than most people he knew. She was sixteen. The braid was obviously still new to her, because she kept sitting on it. She jumped so badly that she nearly left her seat whenever there was a storm. There had to be some sort of an injury on her left cheek covered up by all that make-up. She didn't know anyone at the school. And she didn't react well to flirting.
And she really didn't like storms. She'd changed back into her outside shoes more quickly than even Heero could and was now standing under the scant shelter at the front steps of the school, apparently waiting for her waiting for her ride.
"Yare, yare, Usagi, what are you doing?" he asked easily.
"I'm waiting for my guardian to show up," she slowly answered. "It's a long drive over from the college." She glanced over at him briefly. "I wanted to thank you, Duo, for being so nice to me today."
"So why are you here anyway?"
Her eyes went distant, and she refused to look at him. "Because I couldn't stay in Tokyo any longer so my guardian and I left and came here."
"Because of the person who put that bruise on your cheek?"
She raised her hand to touch it, wincing at even that light touch. "You noticed it?"
"I had it figured out pretty quickly," he admitted, "but I only knew for sure just now."
"Aa." She smiled for real this time. "I've always been lousy at keeping this kind of secret anyway."
He leaned back against the wall, hands behind his head. "I think the other guys would have kittens if they could actually see me being this serious for once."
"This is serious for you, Duo?"
He just blinked once; this abrupt about-face was almost as strange as Quatre cussing, but of course, he recovered quickly. "Well, I can't walk around all quiet and always serious like Heero."
"He's one of your friends?"
"My best friend, I suppose."
"My best friend is part of the reason I left Tokyo." She turned back to look at the silently falling rain. "My guardian's my only friend here."
"Mou, so that means you don't like me?"
She laughed again. "Hai, I like you, Duo-kun."
"What are you two doing out here in the rain?"
"Konnichi wa, Quatre, Trowa," Duo greeted the small blond teenager holding the light blue umbrella over his head and the tall young man with strange hair by his side. "We're waiting on Usagi's ride to get here."
"Soo ka? Then we'll wait with you, if that's all right?"
"Sure, whatever," agreed Duo, never moving from his lounging spot.
"My name is Quatre Rabera Winner. I'm pleased to meet you. You just started here today, right?"
"That's right, Quatre-san. I am Usagi Tsukino," she said with a smile, taking great care to say her family name last. She glanced past him at the person Duo had identified as Trowa and stuck out her hand. "Hajimemashite, Trowa-san."
He stepped forward and grasped her hand, seemingly about to say something when a car horn blew. Usagi glanced over her shoulder. "Well, that's my guardinan now."
"Where in the world did he get an antique car like that?" Duo couldn't help asking.
"We brought it with us from Tokyo." Which was technically true enough. They had arrived in this time's Tokyo, bought the car, and come here.
The door opened, and a woman with long dark hair stepped out, holding a huge black umbrella over her head. "Usagi-chan! Come on!" she called. "We need to get home!"
"Well, see you tomorrow, guys! Ja mata, ne!"
~ * ~ * ~
"Can you trust them, Usagi-chan?" Setsuna couldn't help asking. She was scanning the classifieds in search of a job, preferably one involving clothes making, a personal passion of hers.
"Duo-kun-tachi? Yes, I believe so."
Kun? Setsuna wondered to herself, glancing up at the blonde girl who was trying so hard to learn to cook. Usagi-chan seemed like she was trying to keep some emotional distance from everyone after what the Inner Senshi and Mamoru did. She listened a moment as Usagi hummed in the kitchen. This Duo must be someone special to get her out of her shell in only a few hours.
25 September 2000
Yay! Another Act finished!!!! Major kudos to everyone who reviewed the prologue at Fanfiction.net and said nice things or told me to hurry up.