Continuing Tales


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 39 of 42

<< Previous     Home     Next >>

Many people had visited Rei in the past two weeks, but he was a surprise. So much that she actually felt something other than pain for the first time since she had sent Ando away. She felt curiosity.

"Hello Rei."

It was strange, but they hadn't met in this life so far. She knew who he was, of course she did, but the last memory she had of him was that of a man turning his powers on himself so that Sailor Mercury could live. It was this memory that caused her to invite him inside for a cup of tea.

They sat down in the kitchen, because she hadn't been able to step in the white tea room ever since Ando had stormed out of it, leaving so many a part of his soul behind.


His smile was shy, and she noticed how boyish he still looked. How innocent. Reincarnation had been good to him.

"I'd rather have you call me Umino, but if it's Zoisite to you, than that's fine as well."

He accepted the tea with a short bow and following her example, sat down at the table, careful to avoid the many stains that adorned its dirty tablecloth. Instinctively, he knew that both the kitchen and its owner normally looked pristine, but had succumbed to the desperate circumstances that seemed to cast a shadow over everything lately.

"Are you here to speak for him?" she inquired in a soft voice.

Adding two sugar cubes to his tea, he slowly stirred the steaming liquid with the silver spoon she had provided. Looking at the priestess, he shook his head.

"No, actually I am here to speak against him."

Her violet orbs fixed themselves on him, prodding him to elaborate. Taking a sip from his tea, he complied. It was hot and strong. Too strong for his liking, but that came with the setting, he supposed. Even in her weakened state, the girl in front of him exuded a power that was already tugging at the corners of his mind, demanding entrance. Raw, sheer power.

"Do you know that Ando and I found each other before we met Mamoru and the others? We moved in with each other, we searched high and low for our fellows and frankly, I do know him a bit better than most people. That is why I know that he has a habit of destroying what he holds dearest."

Unwelcome memories played in her mind, but years of meditation allowed her to keep them at bay. They would however come back when she was defenceless. It seemed like forever ago that sleep had meant rest.

"Takeshi is like a brother to me. Always has been. And I'm not saying this easily, for I have siblings and know what family feels like. What Ando is doing right now is not good. Minako wants to help him, but while she can subdue the misery, she cannot make it go away."

Rei sat a little bit more upright in her chair, tension building in her shoulders. Umino took note of this and smiled sympathically, but otherwise offered her no comfort.

"Takeshi is a good man, he deserves to be happy. But his happiness is barred by Minako taking care of Ando the way she does. I'm not saying that they shouldn't be friends, I'm saying that to have her take care of him for you is wrong. You are hurting my friend, and yours by extension. So let Ando be, this is his grave to dig himself out of. If you want him taken care of in this time of need, it speaks for you, but don't make other people do it because you yourself are not able to."

He pushed the cup back on its saucer and the boyish innocence she had admired earlier was gone. His blue eyes were steely and unforgiving, and had it been any other shitennou, she would have made him pay for being so bold as to come to her to say the things he did. But his words were true, all of them. And he had sacrificed himself, even when almost nothing of his soul had been left. He had a right to speak up and he made use of that.

She didn't hear his goodbye, didn't watch him leave.

Walking into the room that held the holy fire, she sank down on her knees. The images overwhelmed her, floating in her soul without barriers to reign them in.

Takeshi in his cold penthouse, a glass of clear liquid in his hand.

Minako's eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses as she shoved the chocolate in her hands.

Ando stumbling down the steps leading away from the shrine.

Bending forward, she rested her forehead on the wooden floor, wondering how to make the world right again without losing herself in the process.

The university's canteen was crowded, as it always was during lunchtime. Two girls carried their trays over to a free table that Usagi had spotted from the distance. She sped up and plonked down on one of the chairs seconds before it was claimed by another equally hungry student. Some sauce had spilled over the edge of her plate and now met the napkin, colouring it in a light maroon. Sending an apologetic smile his way, Ami joined the blonde, even though her movements were far more graceful as she sat down.

Eyeing her dish with more scrutiny than it deserved, Usagi began to eat, a look of disdain on her face. Barely pausing to swallow, she picked up the conversation again.

"Urgh, why is that everything they sell here either tastes salty or greasy? Anyway, you were just telling me about the zoo? Hey, not that I don't approve, but what were doing in the zoo in the middle of the week? It's quite unusual for you to do something so wonderfully pointless."

Ami put her fork back on the table, a hesitant look in her eyes. Her sharp mind suddenly grasped the fact that none of them had alerted the odango blonde to the most recent developments. Therefore her voice was thoughtful as she answered, weighing each word carefully.

"Umino was so upset about Ando and Minako leaving for New York, and you know that aside from the others and us, he has not found any friends in Tokyo yet, so I thought it would cheer him up."

Usagi just munched on, speaking between bites. The med student waited.

"Aww, Ami. I'm so happy for you two. It's a good thing that you spend time with him, you're smart enough as it is, so you don't need to study as much as you do. Which animals did you like best? Personally, I have a thing for flaming- … hang on. What did you say about Minako going to New York?"

The cutlery Usagi had been holding dropped on the tablet, sending little drops of sauce splashing on her black jumper.

Smiling uncertainly, Ami offered her friend her own napkin.

They stayed at a hotel, in adjourning rooms with a door connecting them. The walls were thin, so she heard him tossing and turning in his bed, occasionally murmuring and crying out. He sounded like a wounded animal, and Minako wondered what exactly Rei had shown him to evoke a reaction so strong.

Unable to stand it any longer, the girl got up, crossed the room and stepped through the door, her own blankets trailing behind her. As she settled herself next to her friend and stroked his sweaty forehead, she closed her eyes and prayed for a miracle.

It was late afternoon in Tokyo and pony-tails swishing behind here, Usagi Chiba walked through the hospital's gates in search of her husband. She found him doing the rounds, and a smile appeared on her face as she beheld his lean form in the doctor's overall he wore with so much pride. She also noticed him wearing his glasses; she had always found that they made him even more attractive than he already was. Waiting until his colleague finished his sentence, she drummed her long fingers on the wall, barely able to control her impatience.


The familiar voice caused him to turn and surprise was evident on his features.

"Usa! What are you doing here? Are you okay?"

Always the protectors, she mused and rewarded his worry with a brief kiss. He made an apologetic gesture to his colleagues, indicating that they should go on without him.

"I'm fine, but there's something you need to take care of when you finish work today."

He cocked his head to the side, waiting for her to continue. This had to be important. For one, his wife knew not to come visit him at work unless expressly invited and also because they had planned to have a romantic dinner in their favourite restaurant this evening and she was apparently willing to give that up.

"You have to go to Takeshi and talk to him. Minako and Ando have gone to New York together, I'm certain it's perfectly harmless, but I think it would be good for Takeshi to know that he's not alone. Go watch a football game or something. Eat burgers, drink bear. Or whatever it is you do when you have a men's night out. But don't invite Umino or Hiromasa. They can join you the next time, but not today."

Mamoru briefly considered her words, nodded, pressed a brief kiss on Usagi's soft lips and made his way back to the team. His wife really was quite something.

"How old are you precisely?"

"As in years, months, days precisely?"

They walked down Times Square together and looked perfectly at ease amidst the tourists, the hurried business people, the teenagers. Grinning, she looked around. There was something about the city that drew her to it and were it not for all she had left behind in Tokyo, she might have seriously considered moving here.

"There is a bar I used to hang out all the time, and I thought we could go there after the meeting with my editor and get hellishly drunk, because there is no doubt in my mind that he will spend at least half of the time I'm in that building shouting at me. Loudly. So are you old enough to join the drinking fun later on?"

"While I'm very flattered that you are not sure that I'm twenty-one yet, I'll have to decline. I don't drink."

"You don't drink? Surely you mean that you don't drink and drive, which won't be a problem seeing how we can just take a cab or take the subw-"

"No Ando, I'm serious. I don't drink. Well, I do drink on New Year's, but otherwise, alcohol and Minako don't go together. However, I'll happily laugh at you when you're a drunken mess and puke in the streets. Hey, I even promise to take pictures."

Reaching up, she ruffled his strawberry blonde curls, only to find herself tickled in defence.

Muttering to himself in mock despair, Ando shook his head.

"The woman doesn't drink."

Two tall man left a bar together, one swaying ever so slightly more than the other, but both very very drunk. The fresh night air failed to sober them as they had indulged in too many overpriced drinks Mamoru had ordered. His plan had been to get Takeshi so sloshed that he would share his worries, but apparently, there wasn't enough liquor in Tokyo to loosen the silver-haired man's tongue.

Six days into their visit, Ando entered her room and flopped theatrically onto her bed, his head coming to rest in her lap. He wisely refrained from commenting on the countless shopping bags littering the thick blue carpet.

"Bad news."

"Define bad. Apocalypse bad? Splinter in your finger bad? Syphilis bad?"

"My parents found out that I'm in town and invited us over for dinner bad. So something between syphilis and apocalypse."

Ando's parents lived in a town house near Central Park.

A town house that looked like a palace from the inside.

A palace with an ice queen and king ruling over a staff consisting of frightened people and one ugly poodle.

"So Minako, what is it that you do?"

Plastering a fake smile on her face, she turned to Ando's mother, but not before kicking her friend against the shins under the table. This evening was already turning into one nightmarish experience, and Ando himself had apparently decided that getting drunk as quickly as possible was the way to go about it. He was on his second Martini already, and they had just taken their seats at the long dining table.

"I'm a student at Tokyo University. I read literature."

"What an interesting choice."

Mrs. Tanaka's smile was equally fake as she took a sip of her Chardonnay. Above them, the heavy chandelier twinkled, reflecting the light in thousand crystals, but nevertheless failing to make the room any more welcoming than Satan's private playground. The senshi suddenly understood why Ando had next to no contact to his family.

A maid brought them the first course, a thick soup in a decidedly unappealing colour. Hers and Ando's eyes met over the table, and Minako concentrated very hard on a mental image of the poodle sitting on her seat, delightedly slurping the soup before belching loudly.

When the journalist choked on his drink, she grinned, knowing that the little trick had worked. There were these times when being psychic didn't exactly work to your advantage.

Ando's father, a very thin man in his late fifties, looked at the dish with the same apprehension in his face that his son was experiencing at being in this house again. Completely ignoring the polite conversation his wife had been trying to establish, he boomed across the long table as if there were any danger that if he spoke in a normal volume, Ando would not hear him.

"Still doing that higgledy-piggledy writing you call a career?"

"No, I actually do piggledy-higgledy writing now, which I'm sure you can see is a huge improvement."

A chuckle escaped Minako, only to be punished with two sets of disapproving, cold eyes focusing on her. She shrunk a little in her seat and wondered why the ground never swallowed her when she really wanted it to.

"My dear girl", Ando's father began, pronouncing the words in a way that made clear that she was anything but, "my son could have been a lawyer, a judge, a doctor. And yet he chose to throw his education in the wind and run after rumours. My only son, a journalist! I do not see what is so funny about that."

Incredulity manifested on the senshi's face. Mr. Tanaka had said journalist just as her own mother would have said prostitute and Mrs. Aino was a very conservative woman, which was one reason why Minako would have never considered telling her that she was in fact Sailor Venus. The skirt was simply too shot.

Soft piano music played in the background, tastefully supporting the conversation. It reminded her of Takeshi, causing her to temporarily lose herself in thoughts that had no place in the house of parents of whichever kind.

Mrs. Tanaka, not noticing that Minako had zoned out, just nodded gravely, silently supporting her husband in his claim that his son had wasted his life away. Ando in the meantime threw his most charming grin in the general direction of the maid and pointed to his almost empty glass.

The poodle trodded over and draped itself across his feet, a most unwelcome weight. Impatiently, the shitennou tried to shoo the animal away. When that failed, he gave him a little kick his mother thankfully didn't see because her attention was focused on her husband who was still droning on about the many mistakes Ando had made in this life, causing his son to snort derisively. The mistakes I made in this life? What about those in my other lives? Oh yeah, I'm a reborn warrior, I somehow forgot to mention that. Another brandy, father?

"And then he just leaves for Tokyo, and we have to hear from his editor that he has spontaneously decided to move there. I hope you realise that with luring him to stay with you in Japan, you have done Ando and this family a great disservice." Snapping back into reality, Minako blushed before knitting her eyebrows together. Was that man serious? She crossed her arms in front of her chest, not caring that it made her look like an insolent little girl. There weren't many people whose respect she craved and other than Ando, none of them were in this room.

"Luring him to stay in Japan with me? You do realise that I'm not his g-?"

Downing the rest of his Martini in one gulp, followed by smacking his lips, Ando grinned half-heartedly and cut across her.

"In all fairness, since I only ever visit you on Christmas, what difference does it make that I moved?"

Things only went downhill from there. Ando got snarkier with each passing minute, his mother got colder, his father got louder and suddenly, Minako had an epiphany.

"What on earth am I doing here? I don't have to be here.", she abruptly blurted out, her voice clear and cutting as glass, thus interrupting the beginning of a shouting match between father and son. Her eyes met Mrs. Tanaka's in surprising compliance. The woman had thought the same, albeit for very different reasons. After all, this outspoken girl obviously held an atrocious influence on her already out-of-control son!

Throwing her napkin on the table, Minako got up, placed a quick kiss on Ando's cheek and walked out without looking back. It felt good.

It had taken her quite long to find a phone booth, her rush of adrenaline steadily disappearing and thus causing her to question whether this really was a good idea. The thought of their last love-making prompted her not to falter, it being all the incentive she needed.

The battery of her mobile phone was obviously empty, the stupid thing didn't so much as turn as make a beep as she pressed the on-button repeatedly. But luckily, the number she needed was embedded in her mind, so armed with a small armada of silver coins, she disappeared behind the glass doors of the phone booth, her fingers quickly hitting the buttons. She mixed the number up twice before finally getting it right.

After ten painfully long seconds, the free line signal sounded in her ears. Minako had never been good with time zones, so she had no idea whether it was day or night or noon in Tokyo, but she simply hoped that it was a time during which Takeshi was at home. Ando had not said a word as to when they would go home, but if she didn't hear the deep, gruff voice of Takeshi soon, she knew she would lose it and hail the next cab to drive her to the JFK airport regardless of whether or not this journey had been a success in the first place.

After listening to the signal for over four minutes, she had to admit that he wasn't home. And since he hated leaving messages on machines, he didn't have one, so there wasn't even a curt clip of his voice recorded somewhere on a machine to calm her. Cursing, Minako collected her change and left the narrow cabin.

Takeshi was sitting at his desk, working the night away. Every once in a while, he would look up at the small replica of the Pritzker Prize she had bought for him and think of blonde curls entangled in his hands. Behind him, the red sofa stood unused without its owner there, very much like a sad clown in an empty circus.

Hours later, Ando walked into her room. They had stopped knocking on the connecting door the second day in the city, since they didn't have any precious secrets to protect anyway.

"My parents. Wonderful, heart-warming people, aren't they?"

He joined the girl under the covers and stole the pillow from under her head.

"You dolt, give it back!"

Instead, Ando propped it up under his own head and continued as if he hadn't heard her.

"Do you want to know what they came up with after you left?"

"Actually, I'm not sure I do. After all, I lured you to Tokyo with my womanly wiles. I can't believe that you would let them believe I was your girlfriend, you jerky moron!"

"Loveable, incredible, endearing, jerky moron, if you please."

She snorted and tore the covers away from him, bundling them up around herself with a pout firmly set in her face.

"They would like to offer you-" Seeing her disgruntled expression, he grinned and bit down on his bottom lip, trying to keep the laughter in. "You really want to hear this, believe me. They would like to offer you an internship in a friend's law firm so that you can make something of your life and convince me to do the same."

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Min, have you seen the poodle?"

Groaning, she pulled the sheets over her head.

When Ando had finally gone to his own bed after they had spend at least an hour mocking his parents, she watched the moulded ceiling.

Her own sleep stubbornly refused to come and unlike Ando, she would not down two sleeping pills with a gulp of brandy. She knew that her insomnia stemmed from missing Takeshi. Without his broad shape next to her, the night was not made for sleeping, it was made for worrying. In the darkness, she could see the outline of the small box sitting on the mahogany dresser and since it was the only thing of his she had in this strange but wonderful city, she climbed out of bed, turned on one of the many lamps dotted around the room and picked it up.

A part of her had hoped that Takeshi would have called her after reading the letter, but her phone had remained silent for days, even when fully charged. Cradling the box in her hands, fingers tracing over the soft velvet, she felt his absence as intense and real as physical pain. How she had lived so long without him was a mystery to her. He was an essential part of her life, just as essential as the girls she fought alongside and the princess she had sworn to protect. Within a few short months, he had become her oxygen and it was true: suffocating was the most painful death imaginable.

Finally, she snapped the box open. The first thing she noticed was a small, folded piece of paper that fell towards her, finally freed from its confines. She picked it up and unfolded it, her heart beating frantically in her chest. It was one of his drawings, more so, it was the design for a house. A house with lots of French windows. Above the house, a few words were scribbled in the architect's unruly handwriting.

For us. Will be finished before Christmas.

The world stopped turning and the paper fell from her shaking hands, coming to rest on the carpet beside her naked, cold feet.

How long she had sat motionless, she could not tell, but when she picked up the box once more, the sun had risen over New York, bathing the city in orange light. The case still held two more items. A slender key that would one day open the door to the house he was building for them and a long silver necklace with an intricately carved locket dangling on it. It didn't hold any pictures or any engraving, but it didn't need to. She had understood.

Morning was about to arrive, so Kunzite grudgingly entangled himself from Aphrodite's embrace.

When she spoke up, her voice was not sleepy but wistful and he knew that just like himself, she had not spend even so much as one minute sleeping.

"I will miss you."

He turned, pulling her into one more embrace before steeling himself for the looming departure.

His eyes were on her as he dressed himself, and just before he finally tore himself away to return to Earth's growing darkness, he decided to leave her a token of his affection. It was the only piece of jewellery he owned – a heavy silver locket, given to him by his grandfather when he was still nothing more than a silly boy. He carried it with him as a lucky charm, but felt that it should stay here with her.

Putting it in her hand, he smiled, his green eyes telling her more about his feelings than words ever could. The door closed behind him just as she put it around her slender neck, vowing to never take it off again.

None of them knew that their next meeting would take place on a battlefield.

A knock on the door brought her back to the here and now. The empty here and the lonely now.


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 39 of 42

<< Previous     Home     Next >>