Disclaimer: By this time, you should know the drill, but I'll say it anyway. I dis claim any and all things that appear in this chapter, including Sailor Moon.

Chapter 20

When Chibiusa opened the door to the lecture hall of her afternoon class, there were two people sitting on the right side, three clustered together on the left, and five scattered throughout the back and middle. She walked down to the front and took the seat that she preferred, pleased that no one had gotten to it. After she took out her notebook and pencil, her thoughts began to wander back to the night before.

No longer in the dorms, her parents had gotten her an apartment located conveniently close to campus. The rent was up within one year, but she had two and a half months of summer vacation to go home. She learned the night before, from the front desk, that she could not lend out or "sub-lease" her apartment without putting herself back on the waiting list. When she told her parents, her father said it was a waste of money if they just left the apartment empty for so long a time period and that she should get a job or internship on the campus for summer.

She was brought out of her musings by loud chatter. Chibiusa looked around to see the room filled up and the professor setting up his things at the desk in the front of the room. She straightened up, took hold of her pencil, and the lecture began.

"… and this is why you have to take action now, before it's too late. Developing your skill set for your area, sending out resumes, and meeting people are all things that you should be doing so that by your junior and senior years, before you graduate at the latest, you have a job lined up and a path to take." Nearing the end of the hour with fifteen minutes left to go, the professor went on about setting up a path for careers and "marketing" one's own abilities.

"I realize that some of you don't know what you want to do. So I want you to think about it and picture yourself in ten years. What will you being doing? How will you be living? Will you have a family? For this assignment – and don't groan, it won't be that bad – for this assignment, I want you to write an essay about all of these things. I've posted a schedule for this assignment on the class website, so be sure to have a look at it."

At the end of the class, Chibiusa packed up her things and left the room. On her way back to her apartment, she made sure to add the essay to the list of schoolwork to be done, along with the team project that was due in one of her other classes.

Chibiusa opened the door to her place, stepped inside, then closed the door behind her and locked it. She headed to her bedroom and buried her face in her pillow. Moments later, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and looked up at Helios.

"Oh, um. Hi," she said. Chibiusa sat up and he sat down next to her. "Sorry, having kind of tough day." She looked away from him.

"I see. Care to talk about it?" She bit her lip and then stood up.

"I'm trapped – trapped! – and I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm all alone and I don't know anyone or anything and I'm totally helpless and worthless and confused and have so much to do, no idea how to do it, and I can't ask for help because there's no one to ask and… and… and…" Chibiusa bit down hard on the air and then took a deep breath when she realized that nothing of what she said had made any coherent sense. "I have no idea what I'm doing and the rest of my team seem to be able to handle it, so why am I here? I want to help, to feel useful and needed and part of something, but all I do is sit there watch and listen." He kept his eyes on her, but she had to turn away and pace.

"I don't really understand any of the legal or financial stuff; the only thing I do know is that I'm trapped. I can't go home for the summer and I have to find some kind of internship over here. I don't really know anyone in the area, and is this what it's going to be like for the rest of my life? Alone, unnecessary, and unwanted? I never know what I'm doing or what I want to do in the future. I'm way too awkward to work with people, but I don't have the technical skill or knowledge to be of any use. Whatever I can do, everyone else can too, so it doesn't really matter.

"Helios, help me, please. You've always known just what to say and do, so please. Help me the way you've always done." She gripped his forearms tightly, and searched his face for the calm, confident assurance that she needed. Instead, his eyes were sorrowful and his mouth was set in a sympathetic line.

"I can't help you, my maiden. These are questions only you can answer and fears that only you can dispel." Then he gave her a gentle smile. "But you are never alone. I am always right here, whether you remember me or not."

"Do you promise? Do you promise to stay here, with me?" She watched him earnestly, hoping that she wouldn't have to be all alone. He nodded and she gave Helios a brilliantly wide smile before throwing her arms around him in a hug, which he returned.

"You may feel useless now, maiden, but I know you will grow to become a fine lady." And when that day comes, I myself will ask for your help.


To Mika Tanasihi

This story is not yet finished, so rest assured there will be updates. And for the record, there are stories on this site published over fourteen years ago, so mine isn't really that old. I don't have an Instagram (part of my rebellion against most social media) but I am replying to you.