Continuing Tales


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 28 of 42

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It was so strange. Her friend Minako, who had always rivalled Usagi in terms of sleep-induced laziness had taken to showing up at the shop at seven thirty every morning. And to top that, the girl had been out for a run before that!

"Do you want a coffee?"

Her question was rewarded by a broad smile, and the blonde began to lift the chairs from the tables in an attempt to make herself useful.

"So how is the business?"

Makoto gently placed the delicate cup on the counter that was already filled with several cakes she had prepared yesterday evening.

"It's going good. Of course, it would go better if Usagi didn't eat half of the food I prepare without paying, but I am attracting more and more customers. Hiromasa has told some friends of his about the place, and they brought friends in turn and so on."

Toying with the cup, Minako looked up at the brunette. "Don't you find it strange?"

Absent-mindedly, Makoto rearranged some of the displays. "What do you mean?"

"Well, they have had complete lives before...well, before us. They have friends, they have families. At least Hiromasa does, I'm not sure whether Takeshi hasn't been dropped into being by a giant figure of stone and raised by a group of monks who all took a vow of silence."

"So you're still not talking, are you?"

She sighed.

"Not really. Talking is a bit scary, lots of land mines in the vicinity and I think we're both afraid to accidentally step on one and destroy the whole thing in an instant. So not talking is easier, but it is also very frustrating."

Out of all the senshi, Makoto was the only one with whom Minako had shared what was going on between herself and Takeshi. She did need a shoulder to cry on from time to time, and Rei was too judgemental, Ami (bless her heart)a little bit too prudish and Usagi would probably tell Mamoru, who would in turn talk to Takeshi, and that wasn't acceptable. Artemis would just drop dead. Artemis, I am sleeping with Takeshi. Sleeping, but not talking. Swell, isn't it? Allowing the scenario to unfold in her mind, she grinned.

"You look miserable."

Ando threw his room-mate an angry glare that clearly told him to keep his pretty nose out of things that weren't his business if he wanted to his vanity to remain justified.

"Fine, suit yourself. I'm meeting Ami for a quick cup of coffee on campus."

The door couldn't shut fast enough behind Umino, whose step had taken on a cheerful bounce at the prospect of meeting his soon-to-be girlfriend. Restless, Ando got up and walked through the flat the two of them were sharing. None of them cared for cleaning up after them, so it was already a mess. Several unpacked boxes loomed in a corner and the only things that had been set up properly in their respective rooms were their beds and their desks with their computers on them.

It was another side-effect of that reincarnation thing, having to live with someone in a still strange and rather unwelcoming city, devoid of fun and friends. His eyes fell on the small pink slip of paper, on which Minako had scribbled her address and phone number two weeks ago. They hadn't seen each other since then, and the only person he had been in contact with outside the shitennou had been his editor, who had repeatedly threatened to fire him if he didn't pay bi-weekly to New York. Not that this was something new. It was their ritual. Shouting led to more shouting, with led to Ando hanging up and actually doing his work. He needed this sort of incentive, but he wouldn't admit it anyone, his editor in particular.

He had kept a low profile in Tokyo, but it was against his very nature and to say that he was fed up with it was an understatement. He grabbed the slip of paper, his keys, a book and his jacket and set out in the afternoon. Luckily, his job allowed him to just move from one city to the next. Being a journalist came with many benefits, if one didn't care about being rich. Which he certainly didn't.

His parents had it all: Two houses, a prized poodle and a maid, but none of that appealed to him. Aged 26, he was successful enough in his profession to be independent and ruthless enough to cut the ties that still bound him to his family. The only thing he had not been able to just leave behind was her. But that had to with their story never having reached a proper conclusion, he supposed. He was a sticker for the right sort of endings, his stories never left any questions open, his book reviews always told his readers precisely whether or not a book deserved to be a success or a failure; but with her, nothing was set in stone.

"Haven't I told you to go away?"

He smirked, and walked closer instead of heeding her unspoken warning.

"You may have, but you also kissed me last night right after the words left your mouth, so which one of your commands do you really want me to follow, most noble and honourable Lady Mars?"

She made to turn and leave his jesting behind, but he grabbed her slender wrist and pulled her towards his lean figure.

Her eyes were two raging violet orbs, conflict showing in them in the same way that lust was etched in his.

"One day, Jadeite, I will tell you to leave and I will mean it. Do not be so foolish to extend your welcome then, for it will not be pleasant."

"I am so sorry, Sir. He just walked in! I told him you were busy, but he didn't listen!"

The stout woman's face resonated with anger at his disrespect, but Ando wasn't an excellent reporter for listening to the word 'no'.

"It's okay, Miss Fukuda. He is an old friend of mine and as such he is privy to just entering when it pleases him." The secretary toddled of, disdain clearly visible in her every step. Didn't that rude man see how busy her boss was?

Ando had to give it to him, Takeshi cut a striking figure behind his huge desk. The office was cluttered and filled with various charts, folders, posters of buildings and rulers and pencils were all over the place, but Takeshi seemed to be remarkably in control, reigning over this creative chaos in a way that commanded respect. He now got up, re-adjusting the perfect Windsor knot of his grey tie. The two men stood in front of each other indecisively. They hadn't quite figured out how to welcome each other yet. With regards to all that they had been through together, a simple handshake was not sufficient, but an embrace stroke them as odd. A military greeting was out of the question. Takeshi made an inviting hand gesture towards his visitor's chair, thus smoothing over any lingering awkwardness and seated himself behind the heavy wooden desk again.

"What brings you here?"

Not following the invitation to take a seat, Ando strolled over the posters, eyeing them closely. Some of these buildings he had already seen on his reconnaissance missions through the city.

"Did you design these?"


"Look impressive. But I wouldn't have expected anything else from you." Inclining his head, Takeshi accepted the compliment.

Walking back to the chair, but not sitting down but leaning on its back instead, Ando continued conversationally: "Have you seen in contact the senshi recently? It's been two weeks since we pledged our vows to End-..Mamoru, and I haven't heard from anyone since then."

A careful, non-committal mask had slipped over Takeshi's face, one that very annoyingly gave nothing away.

"I have met Hiromasa at Makoto's café yesterday for a brief lunch."

"So Jupiter is the only one you've-"

"Ando, careful. It's Makoto, not Jupiter."

"Very much the same to me, but fine, Makoto then. So she's the only one? No word from the others?"

A frown slid over the architect's face. He remembered the unlikely friendship Venus and Jadeite had formed in the Silver Millennium, one that he never liked or approved of. A friendship like this had been even more dangerous than their relationship, and the mere idea that Jadeite had been able to read his own darkest secrets in Venus' trusting mind had send him over the edge all those years ago, resulting in what was almost the end of their romance.

"Let us hope that you are enquiring after Rei. No, I haven't seen her lately, and I do not intend to do so."

The abrupt tone signalled that it was high time to change the topic, but Ando's temper had not mellowed over the last weeks and his frustration was still easily visible in his eyes. Also, he had heard the little world 'lately' very clearly and this was a piece of information his friend most certainly hadn't intended to give away. Deciding that the best course of action was to goad him a little and hope that he would slip again, he went on.

"And what about Minako? You know that it was her and Ami that searched for Umino and me, right? We had a very enjoyable afternoon walking through Tokyo upon meeting again. She is still a lovely girl. We've spent hours catching up, talking to her has always been a pleasure."

The older man's voice had taken on a slight edge. Although his features remained stoic, Ando immediately sensed he had hit a nerve.

"So you talked. How...agreeable."

Looking at the man in front of him with a sudden feeling of cold disregard and hot jealousy, he decided not to join Ando in his silly games today. The silent nights weighed heavy on his heart, and so far all he and Minako had managed to speak about had been his cooking, arranging whether they would meet at his or her flat and words of lust moaned in the heat of the moment. The thought of his Venus chatting freely to another man, while they stumbled around without words, set a slow rage free that waited to be allowed to finally crawl to the surface and launch itself on its source, ripping and tearing. Didn't she remember the damage that the silver tongue of his fellow shitennou had unintentionally done to them before?

Ando had left the office soon after the conversation had turned sour, angry at himself for not being able to weasel the information he wanted out of Takeshi. That man was made out of granite and apparently it took a lot more than a few choice words to get to him share the knowledge Ando was certain he had. When on earth had he met Rei?

Minako lazily lounged in her steaming bath tub, allowing her sore muscles to rest. Running and the nights with Takeshi were taking a toll on her body, but both helped to ease her mind. He had stopped to leave before dawn, and had even stocked some clothing in her wardrobe so that he could go from her place to his office directly, but this small sign of normalcy didn't quite cover what was wrong between them. The only way I can tell that he is working in an office and not in a greenhouse is from the expensive suits he is wearing, because God forbid he should share this information directly. So every morning after he had left for work, she went on her daily run. Usagi had joined her the first week, but the poor girl was almost killing herself over this unaccustomed activity, so Minako had told her not to come any more. Her friends prying eyes hadn't helped either, for the senshi of love was very intent on keeping her relationship to Takeshi a secret until she figured out whether or not they actually had one. Makoto knew, and that was enough.

The radio was playing a gut-wrenchingly sad song about forgiveness and love and Minako wished for what must be the thirtiest time that she had a remote for that damned thing.

'And this was Forgiven, by Within Temptation. And now on to the weather forecast: There will be rain, rain and, guess what, rain in Tokyo. Better leave your high heels at home, girls and don your Wellington boots, because we are about to drown.'

Does that DJ even realise how silly he sounds? Wellington boots. We're not in England, are we now?, Minako grumbled before submerging her head in the hot water, efficiently drowning out the noisy world outside her tub. When she got up, the DJ had moved on to an up-tempo number, one that had nothing to do with forgiveness and everything to do with drinking and dancing. Thank God.

Her phone began to beep, alerting her to the text message she had just received. Gripping it with wet fingers, she flipped its purple cover open.

'How about coffee in the Museum of Modern Art? Meeting you there in an hour. Ando.'

She put the phone back on the small stool next her tub, which was occupied by several magazines and a cup of cocoa. The weather was most certainly not one to invite her to set one foot (Wellington clad or not) out of her door, and she was quite content to just lounge in her tub for the next hour or two, but Ando's heart-broken expression over Rei's refusal to see her caused the dripping girl to leave her comfortable abode and ignore the screams of her strained muscles.

When she arrived at the museum, she was only moderately late (fifteen minutes is nothing, and I am here in this abysmal weather, which deserves gratitude as it is) and completely soaked. The thing about umbrellas is that they cannot shelter you from the rain when it hits you from every side, she mused and began to look for a head covered in blond locks. She found him standing in front of the entrance, just as wet as she was. Laughing, they entered the building and headed straight for the small café the museum ran in order to make some extra money. The beverages and cakes were ridiculously expensive, but seeing how the Sailor V enterprise was still going strong, Minako never needed to worry about money.

The pouring rain had left the place with nearly no customers, so they could chose freely between several armchairs and couches, finally settling for those closest to the windows. The heavy clouds had darkened the sky, but several lit candles turned this from an ominous into a cosy atmosphere. After placing their orders, they began to slide into conversation again, and the easiness of it briefly left her pained. But she shrugged the feeling off, not wanting this afternoon to be ruined by her morose thoughts. After all, she was lucky. Takeshi and her were at least seeing each other, while Rei had not only refused to meet Ando, but also explicitly forbid anyone to so much as mention him in her presence.

One thing the shitennou had always valued about his friendship to the Venusian princess was that they never needed to skirt around uncomfortable truths. So he knew that unlike Takeshi, she would either answer his question or tell him directly why she wouldn't.

"Have you spoken to her? About me, I mean."

Long blonde hair swished as she shook her head. "It's not that I haven't tried, but every time I mention you, she tells me to leave. I am sure that she will come around eventually, I just don't know when that's going to be."

Ando cocked his head to the side, wondering how amoral it would be to tell her that he was certain that Mars and Takeshi had met some time prior to today. It wasn't as if Minako didn't deserve to know. And she was very curious. And she might be able to elicit the information the silver-haired general was keeping from him. But she was his friend, and he didn't want to hurt her by mentioning Takeshi. Because let's face it, I don't even know whether that idiot has acknowledged his feelings for her yet. It took him ages in the Silver Millennium, so who knows how long it'll take him here to wake up and face the music.

But everything is fair in love and war. Grudgingly, he thought that this proverb couldn't be closer to the truth when it came to him and the senshi of fire.

"I think Takeshi and her talked. Don't know how much, but he let something slip when I visited him in his office today."

Minako carefully licked the cream from her spoon, taking the moment to will herself not to run through the rain and demand answers from her elusive friend. Both of them, actually. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but what she felt was something between intense disappointment and roaring anger. You just wait, my dear. I brought Ando to your very door as soon as I encountered him and you met Takeshi and didn't tell me?

A minute passed. When she faced the waiting man again, her face was cool, calm, collected. Very much like Takeshi's earlier, Ando realised with annoyance. "Hmm. I wasn't aware of that. He hasn't mentioned it and neither has she." Ando made a mental note that Takeshi and Minako were indeed having some sort of contact to another, and immediately wondered how they got along, but something in her eyes kept him from asking. Egoistically, there were more pressing matters on his mind. His face was serious as he fixed her with an intent expression.

"Will you try to find out what he knows?"

"I sure will."

"So you are an architect?"

Her voice still sounded foreign in his apartment, but it was a welcome addition to the bleak environment he had created for himself. He turned to face her, sitting on the large dining table made of glass, leaving countless fingerprints on the surface. Her delicate fingers plucked a grape from its stem.

"I am." He downed the contents of his glass and put it into the sink, the ghost of a smile tugging at the edges of his mouth.

"How do you know that?"

Her eyes had taken on a mischievous, yet hard gleam, one that told him that they had suddenly stepped on dangerous grounds. She popped the purple grape into her mouth and smiled, but the playful action was a deceiving one and he knew it.

"The same way you knew where to come looking for Hiromasa, I suppose."

Recognizing a trap when he saw one, he fell into the sort of stoic silence most people associated with him. Mars would have never told her about their nightly meeting, so Minako was obviously fishing blindly for something that wasn't his place to share. That she was fishing in precisely the right pond was another matter entirely.

He did however have an inkling as to what might have prompted her to step on this path of inquiry, and the thought was not a pleasant one.

"Seeing how you got your information from Ando, and I didn't, it is obviously not the same way." His voice was cold, freezingly so, but she could detect the anger in his eyes. It wasn't the first time she saw it, after all.

The door banged open, and the frame was filled completely by a seething Kunzite. Anger emanated out of his every pore, tainting the peaceful atmosphere of the room. He slammed the door shut, causing her to slowly get up from the chaise longue she had been resting on.

Striding, his eyes bored into hers, and fear tugged at the corner of her heart. But she was a senshi, therefore giving in to being frightened was not an option. The air in the room had suddenly become stifling, such was his presence. Towering over her and for once playing the card of his considerable height, he spoke. Low and quiet. Commanding and intimidating.

"Did you tell Jadeite about us?"

Lifting her chin in defiance, she tried to cloak herself in the power of her planet, but wondered briefly if the fact that she felt she needed to do that didn't make her look like less than she was.

"Yes, I did."

He moved quickly, stepping away from her before he lost it. His calloused hands were balled into fists and the warrior in her noted gladly that he didn't carry his sword. For the first time in the two years they had known each other, she heard him shout. It was terrifying. "What on earth did you that for?It is forbidden, Aphrodite! WE are forbidden! And to tell Jadeite, him of all people, don't you foolish girl know what you've done?", he roared. The room shook with the weight of his words, but she refused to back down. Her voice was silken, but her eyes were hard.

"I told him because he is my friend. I told him because I need to talk about it. I told him in the hope that you would use this opportunity to do some talking yourself, so that you have a confidante around you instead of followers only."

How dare she presume to know what he needed? It was a mistake, it all was. This affair had gone too far and they had given in to the delusion that they could be together just like their lieges. She was poison, destroying his reputation and lacerating his concentration and he wouldn't let her beauty distract him from that any longer. Jadeite's merciless teasing had made him see that.

He had lowered his voice again, but as he spoke, she wished he would only shout again.

"If you had more followers instead of friends, you might be a better leader and know what your princess is up to in the dead of the night." With that, he turned, slamming the door as went.

Brushing past a waiting Zoisite, he wished to never have set foot on this cursed planet.

She stood in the middle of the room, white-faced, angry, and utterly alone.

He moved out of the kitchen and into the living-room. Calmly turning on some music, he opened the doors to his balcony and stepped outside, effectively shutting her out. Without a second though, she grabbed her purse and left. He flinched at the sound of the slamming door. The minefield had finally been stepped upon.


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 28 of 42

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