Continuing Tales


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 38 of 42

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Checking his watch, he realised that Minako had been in the shower for over twenty-five minutes and he could still hear the water pounding on the floor. The coffee was long since cold and he doubted that the scrambled eggs would be eaten when she returned. Thus the coffee was poured in the sink, the food was put away, the table was cleaned and once again, it was shining glass without any stories to tell.

Uncharacteristically impatient, Takeshi decided to see what was taking her so long. Opening the door to the bathroom, he saw her sitting on the shower receptor, curled into a small ball of Minako-shaped misery. Sliding the doors open, he crouched down to be on eye level with her.

"Why don't you come out?"

"Because I don't know what I am supposed to do, I just don't know and I can't just go back to sitting at the breakfast table with you unless I have an answer."

"You don't need to decide now." While his voice was brisk, his eyes belied the tone he had taken on. Grabbing one of the white fluffy towels, he held it towards her, not caring that stray drops of water hit his shirt.

Hesitantly, she reached upwards and turned the water off and lifted herself up again. Takeshi mirrored her movements, unfolding his considerable height and only when the towel had been taken from his hand did he leave the bathroom.

The two girls sat next to each other on the bench under the weeping willow. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and Minako had jumped at the opportunity to hide her eyes behind gigantic sunglasses. Rei had once told her that it was very hard to read a person if the eyes were not visible, and since the blonde had no intention of letting her know just how complicated things between Takeshi and herself were at the moment, sunglasses were the thing.

The lawn was adorned with the year's first daffodils, greedily growing towards the sun.

Rei's long hair was in a careless braid and while her clothes were usually the picture of understated elegance, they were completely mismatched today. By the look of it, she had just randomly pulled them out of her closet. Minako would be surprised if her friend even managed to put on matching socks.

Noticing that the jumper hung lose on her friend's already slender frame, Minako reached inside her orange bag and rummaged in it for a while before producing a half-eaten chocolate bar.

"Here, eat that."

It was shoved into Rei's hands and even despite the sunglasses, the priestess knew that Minako's eyes had taken on a stubborn look.

Groaning weakly, she unwrapped the candy and took a bite. It tasted stale, but so did everything these days. Forcing a bite down her throat, she put the rest back in the plastic foil and then the jacket of her coat. There it would find itself forgotten, slowly crumbling to pieces in the not too distant future.

"Ando wants to go back to New York for a couple of days and has asked me to join him."

A small part of Minako was proud that she had managed to say it so evenly, without letting the desperation Ando's request had set free inside her shining through. Another part of her wondered what sort of person would hide this much of herself. She was entitled to be selfish, she had a right to step away from this whole mess and sort out her own, but she knew that the decision would eventually be made by someone other than herself.

A few birds flew over and landed right in front of their feet, completely undeterred by the humans' presence. But then Rei was so pale that she looked just like one of those statues across the lawn, Minako noticed. There was the sort of paleness that made pretty women even more beautiful and there was the sort that made them look so otherworldly that it was scary. Rei had transgressed from the former to the latter within days.

"Rei, won't you talk to him? I think it would help both you."

Closing her eyes, she shook her head.

"I can't. Please take care of him for me, I just... I just can't."

A lump formed in Minako's throat and it stayed there for a long time, so the two women just sat next to each other without speaking. Sometimes, it was just easier that way.

"Minako, no!"

"What am I supposed to do? Rei is miserable, Ando is miserable, and they've asked me to help. How can I possibly refuse?"

"Do you want to go? Right now? What about Takeshi?"

"He said he'd be fine."

"Oh, great, he said he'd fine. If I accidentally cut off my fingers while chopping up some cucumbers, I will be fine. But I won't be happy."

As an afterthought, the chef added resolutely:

"Also, you are not responsible for Ando's and Rei's happiness. Frankly, you're in too deep already and you have your own stuff to take care of. Let one of the boys go to New York with Ando, but stay put, damn it."

A derisive snort escaped Minako.

"And who do you suggest? Umino perhaps? Because he and Ando are getting along so splendidly right now? Or maybe Hiromasa, who rather shouts at me than help Ando? Or Takeshi, because that would work out just perfectly in light of all that's happened. They could sit down and have a nice long chat about it." Her words were heavily laced with irony, and she felt the now familiar lump rising again. It was too much, it all was, but she had been chosen as a leader more than a millennia ago and as such she had to take care of her own. So New York it was, for Rei's benefit as much as for the journalist who had become so eerily silent. And yet, thinking about Takeshi's stormy green eyes made her question everything.

"You don't have to fix everything yourself. We can take care of Rei and as for Ando... I'm sure he will be fine. He'll get over it." But both women knew he wouldn't. However, only one of them cared for the journalist's well-being as much as she did for her fellow senshi.

Bristling, Minako jumped off the work disc and shot her friend a look of disdain before walking out of the kitchens. The tinkling of the door bell and a slamming sound let Makoto know that the blonde had left the shop.

As soon as the last customer had left, Makoto closed the shop without tidying up or doing the till and hailed a cab. The urgency of the situation didn't allow for waiting for the bus. She knew from experience that stupid people did stupid things, and when they did so, they didn't waste any time. Minako was the epitome of this selfless, noble stupidity and it had to stop. Now.

Arriving at the temple minutes later, she got up, raced up the stairs and stormed into Rei's living quarters. They were almost dark, with only one candle illuminating the the room and for a moment, Makoto wondered if Rei was even here. Adamantly, she hit the light switch. Only then, in the cruel light of the light bulbs, did she find the priestess sitting on the floor in the narrow space between couch and coffee table, toying with a white lily.

"You have to tell Minako not to go to New York with Ando."

Bringing the flower to her nose, Rei inhaled its sickly sweet smell before putting it back into the vase. Looking up at Makoto, the expression on her face was enough to break a heart.

"He needs her."

Steeling herself against this picture of unhappiness, Makoto pressed forth.

"And so does Takeshi, and I'm quite sure that Minako hasn't told you about this, but she and Takeshi are struggling and things are not getting easier if she spends just as much time with Ando as she does with her actual boyfriend. Tell her to stay, she will listen to you."

It was then that the most unusual thing happened: Tears formed in Rei's eyes. Makoto had never seen the senshi of fire cry unless it was after a beloved's death at the hands of an enemy and even then did the tears seem to evaporate into thin air as quickly as they came


Just as Rei didn't do apologies, Rei didn't cry.

And as much as she hated it, Makoto finally understood why Minako had put herself in the middle of this whole mess. Because her support of the two lost lovers was all that kept them upright.

At about the same time in a very different part of the city, another unexpected visitor entered an office with an agenda, but not after charming the secretary into letting him in without so much as an announcing phone call.

"Hey man, how are you?"

Hiromasa leaned casually against the door frame and grinned at Takeshi, who was buried behind a mountain of paper piling up on his desk.

"I'm fine, thank you. What brings you here?" Hearing Hiromasa deep voice in his office was unexpected, but by no means unwelcome.

"I heard about the New York thing and wanted to check in on you."

"How did you hear about that?"

Takeshi immediately slipped on a mask of non-committal politeness, but Hiromasa was not here to pry. Nevertheless, he hated that the older shitennou felt the need to keep his emotions at bay in front of him. He knew that it was just his nature, he had been like this in their past, but it still ruffled his feather ever so slightly.

"Well, you know how these things work. Minako told Makoto, Makoto told me and here I am."

"While I appreciate the sentiment, I think it's Ando that needs a visit, not me."

The architect's voice was resolute, reprimanding and it didn't leave any room for a contradiction. The voice of a leading general. It was also a clear dismissal, one that Hiromasa wisely chose to heed. He knocked against the door frame in a gesture of farewell and left. There was nothing he could do here.

When Takeshi left the skyscraper in which his office was located, a whirlwind of golden hair seemed to appear out of nowhere and fell into step beside him. They walked in silence for several blocks, their arms occasionally brushing against one another and the spring air smelled of hope and promises.

Just as they passed Minako's favourite sushi place, she slipped her smaller hand into his, causing an unexpected smile to spread on Takeshi's face. It was strange: they had slept with and next to each other, shared meals and conversations, had expressed exasperation and affection and yet, they had never held hands while walking down a street.

"Are we going to your place or mine?", he inquired after a while.

"Let's go to mine. I even have some food in the fridge and it's not even old curry."

He chuckled, and it was a sound she loved to hear. It warmed her heart, even more so because it was heard so seldom, and she wondered what had happened to the stern man in his past to make him so guarded. Because some things were not to be explained by having been turned into an evil puppet in a war and a life so long past, they were very firmly rooted in this one, but since Takeshi had always played things close to the vest, she was still oblivious to most aspects of his life.

But in this moment, his presence was enough and she needed nothing else from him than the smile he was willing to give her. Tugging gently on his hand, she caused both of them to stand still, facing each other. Above them, the stars twinkled, telling another of their fate. It was one of these perfect moments, those that allowed you to be happy and at the same time grateful for what you have been given.

Her voice was soft as she spoke, but it was nevertheless heavy with sincerity.

"If you want me to stay, I will."

Instead of answering, he pulled her in for a kiss that left her breathless, not because of its ardour, but because of its infinite gentleness. When his lips left hers, she wanted to cry at the loss. She hadn't known that it was possible to be kissed, and she been by no means been a shrinking violet before he had appeared on her door step.

They continued to make their way to her flat, but the thing about perfect moments is that they tend to be over before they've really begun. He had not answered her, she realised belatedly.

"I said that if you want me to stay, I will. Just say the words, and I'll stay." Her voice had taken on an insistent quality, and when he still failed to react, her hand slipped out of his.

Briefly closing his eyes, he shoved his own hands into his pockets.

"As I've told you this morning, I'm fine with whatever decision you make."

Throwing decorum in the wind, she positioned herself right in front of him again, hoping to see another answer in his forest green eyes. She didn't. His guard was up and she had no means to break through it. It was enough to drive her to distraction, and not caring who heard them, she raised her voice and cried out.

"I have always put my duty before you. We've never had a chance! And now, when we can finally be together, you are perfectly at ease with me flying halfway across the planet? I've bought a speaking desk, didn't you hear a word it said?"

His face remained expressionless, and with each second that passed, Minako could feel herself being ripped apart at the seams. It was only one clue, one minuscule hint she needed to make her decision in favour of him, in favour of them, but his eyes gave nothing away. She knew that this was her punishment for slipping and uttering the forbidden name, but it was unusually cruel and it hurt her deeply. She had opened herself up only to be rejected.

Taking a deep breath, the senshi of love attempted to guard herself against the overwhelming despair that had taken a hold over her heart. The rest of the walk home was so silent, they could have gone to a funeral. But since Minako was convinced that they were carrying their relationship to its early grave, she felt that it was quite fitting really.

Umino watched Ando pack.

"Do you really think things are magically going to get better if you just up and leave for a while?"

Shoving a stack of books in his suitcase and carelessly throwing a few shirts on top of them, Ando ignored his flatmate.

Umino however was not be deterred. Also, he could tell that the suitcase was never going to close like that, but he had no intention of alerting Ando to that particular detail. Instead, he toyed with a curl of his hair, and watched as more and more articles of clothing were haphazardly put in the piece of luggage. All of them would be full of wrinkles once Ando got to New York, but he knew that pressed clothing was nothing the journalist cared about anyway.

"When you come back, Rei will still not want to talk to you and if you think that things with Takeshi will get better if you take his girlfriend on an extended holiday, you are sorely mistaken."

For a moment Umino was afraid that Ando would break the bottle of cologne he had been about to drop on the ever growing pile, but it just feel into the soft cushion created by the clothes and remained unscathed. Opening a chest of drawers, Ando began to rummage in it, finally finding his passport and the charger for his mobile phone.

"Takeshi knows about it. I've asked him, he's fine with it."

Umino walked over and sat down on Ando's bed, waiting until the journalist was looking at him before theatrically rolling his eyes for full effect.

"You really are stupid."

"Thanks. And now go over to your room and get me something to read on the flight."

Jumping off the bed, Umino left the room and entered his own. He had no intention of sharing his books with Ando, having seen how he treated his own. But he knew that the journalist was prone to sneaking into his room at night when he was sleeping and to just nick whichever tome took his fancy. Turning the key in its lock, Umino's face showed a grim smile. If Ando wanted to do something stupid, then he would at least do it without an interesting read .

It was a horrible evening.

They had barely exchanged a word since her outburst and now sat in front of the TV as if everything was okay, when in truth she couldn't even so much as look at him without wanting to succumb to tears. The small screen told them the story of a lie, a soldier and a lost life, but the hauntingly beautiful images seemed to widen the gap between them only further. Minako cursed the day she had bought a sofa that had room for at least six people and thus allowed Takeshi to sit so far away from her that no part of their bodies were even remotely in danger of touching.

At ten o'clock, long before the film had reached its end, Minako got up and disappeared into the bedroom, softly closing the door behind her. A small part of Takeshi wished that she had slammed it. The sound of something heavy hitting the floor didn't alarm him. He knew that it was just the suitcase she kept on top of her wardrobe plummeting to the ground.

Two hours later, he followed her. The lights were already out, but he could still see the outline of the suitcase sitting upright on the floor next to the wardrobe. Shedding his clothes and not bothering to put his pyjamas on, he got into bed beside her, pulling her naked form close to him without preamble.

She came willingly, resting her head on his chest, fingers splayed on his broad shoulders. Soon, they were travelling to the sides of his face, over his closed eyelids, over his lips, along the line of his jaw, through his hair. In the darkness, they were free.

Lips met, hands discovered, souls connected. Their movements were painfully slow, but they were drinking each other in, neither ready nor willing to hurry this process. When he finally slid inside her, she held on to him for dear life. They came together, and the wetness on his shoulder told him that she had been crying.

Like the first time they had spent a night together in this life and every other one they had lived, he stole out of her bed before dawn. He put the box he'd been carrying with him for days on the suitcase as he went.

And like the first time, Minako heard his every step booming in her head. Reaching for the mobile phone on her night stand, she dialled the familiar number, not caring that it was that odd time between night and morning and that the person on the other end of the line was probably in deep, liquor induced sleep.

The free line signal tore at her nerves, it was mocking her and she knew it. When he finally picked up, she spoke quickly before her courage stormed out after the man she loved so much.

"Let's take the next flight. I'll meet you at the airport."

When Umino woke up sometime after ten, the flat was empty. Ando, his luggage and the lingering smell of suffering and cigarettes were gone.

Miss Fukuda knocked briefly and then entered. It was one of the many things that made her proud – that Mr. Nakamura trusted her enough to allow her to enter his office with only the shortest of announcements at all times.

"Sir? A delivery just came for you." Her stubby fingers held a thick cream envelope towards him. Without looking at the forwarder's name on the back of it, he knew immediately who it was from. The subtle smell of vanilla and sunlight left no doubt in his mind that it was from her.

He accepted it with a nod, not sparing his secretary another glance, his manners for once forgotten.

The parchment rustled under his touch as he unfolded it.

Looking through the glass door, Miss Fukuda watched the architect read the letter. It fell to the table once he was finished, and he swiped every piece of paper off the desk in one angry movement. Putting his head in his hands, he was the picture of a broken man.

Kneeling in front of the holy fire, head bowed in surrender and prayer, Rei knew that far above her, up in the clear blue sky, her best friend and the love of her life were heading towards the city that never sleeps.

"Cancel all appointments for the day, I have some urgent business to take care of."

Before Miss Fukuda had so much as raised her eyes from the memo she was typing, Takeshi Nakamura had already rushed past her, soundly slamming the door behind him as he went.

While she prided herself on her discretion, this was too strange not to uncover it. She had never seen him so much as raise his voice and that man had been in meetings with very annoying people. So her sturdy figure made her way into his office and she gently picked the offending letter up and began to read.


when you read this I will probably already be up in the air, flying away against my better judgement.

When I was thirteen years old, I was told that I would never get to be with the one I love, that my love would always be hopeless. Whether I've been told this out of spite or whether it was a genuine premonition, I don't know. But in this very moment, I remembered us for the first time. You were nothing more than a shadow, but the lingering memory of you haunted me more than those words ever did.

How cruel it was that we met again only to be enemies in a fight I had hoped to have already won. To this day, I regret what happened that night. You should have been given a chance, instead you were killed without so much as the hope of redemption. Words cannot express how sorry I am. I should have known better.

I want you to know that I have forgiven you for everything that happened in these dark days, but that I can never forgive myself for taking your life. Kunzite, it haunts me in sleep and it tears at me when I look at you. This we share. I can see the guilt on your shoulders, even though it no longer has a place there. You are a good man, and I wish we could be happy.

For years you have been my silent companion, a fixture in my heart as much as in my mind and now that we finally have a chance to be more, I feel that the world is once again standing between us. I was so hoping that you would tell me to stay, I wanted to prove to you that you mean so much to me by not leaving your side. Ando is my friend and my friend only. There will never be another man in my life but you, I think you know that.

I know that my words hurt you, and I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused you. I had no right to question your loyalty, and I didn't mean it. I was just lashing out because you can read me so well that my own worries are reflected in your very words. I'm an idiot, I just am.

What I should have told you, confessed to you is that even before you stepped back into my life as Takeshi, when I thought of Kunzite, I thought of more than bloodshed. I remembered missing you, I remembered watching the Earth for hours, I remember that you loved me.

I saw you once in the streets of Tokyo, but I didn't dare approach you. Now I wish that I had, for maybe things between us were different if we would have had more time.

There are so many things I wish to say to you, but I just don't have it in me. I'm so sorry.

Please be there when I get back.


Shaking her head, Miss Fukuda put the letter back on the paper covered floor, careful to arrange it just as it lay before her curiosity had gotten the better of her. This Minako was obviously crazy. How could she have killed Mr. Nakamura when he was very much alive? Muttering under her breath about young people and their sordid sense of humour, she sat down at her desk again, her small world in perfect working order.

Up in the heavens, Minako looked out of the plane's window, losing herself in the clouds. The sun was piercing them every now and then, but above anything, she saw grey. Grey clouds, an endless grey sky, even the sun's yellow streaks seemed to have been dulled.

She remembered his every touch, and if she just focused hard enough, she could still smell him on her skin. Her fingers clutched the black box he had left on her suitcase, but she couldn't bring herself to open it.

Beside her, Ando had his eyes closed, lost in memories of his own. He was falling apart right in front of her, but she wondered if leaving Tokyo really was the best way to take care of things. Hiding in her flat hadn't helped her, and she doubted that hiding in another country would help him.

Resting her head on Ando's shoulder, she thought of Rei in her temple, of Takeshi behind his protective walls of silence and of Ando so unusually quiet beside her. Minako Aino cried for all of them. Without opening his eyes, the journalist pulled her into an embrace that should have comforted them both, but failed to do so spectacularly.

Asking her to come with him had been a mistake. He realised that now as images of Venus and Kunzite, of Minako and Takeshi flooded his mind. It was a cruel revelation, but he and Rei did not have a monopole on heartbreak.

Gently stroking her back, he whispered what he desperately hoped not be a lie.

"It's all going to be okay, it's all going to be all right."

She wasn't here any more.

Her flat was silent. Defeatingly so.

His shoulders sagged as he looked at the desk she had bought for him, finally understanding its message.


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 38 of 42

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