Continuing Tales


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 40 of 42

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Minako had learnt many things during her time in New York.

She had learnt that she wanted to be a writer.

She had learnt where to get the best coffee.

She had learnt that her own parents were wonderful people compared to Ando's.

She had learnt to cross a street regardless of what the traffic lights said.

She had learnt to spend 300 dollars on a pair of shoes without flinching.

She had learnt that she didn't mind living in a hotel.

She had learnt that some nightmares never went away.

She had learnt that Ando was drinking more than was good for him.

She had learnt to take away the sleeping pills he more or less secretly carried in his pockets and flush them down the toilet.

She had learnt to cry without making a noise.

She had learnt that two weeks could very quickly turn into two months.

The miko sat on a bench near the shrine, a brightly coloured postcard clutched in her hands. The handwriting was familiar and she didn't need to look at the signature to know who had send it. Few words were scribbled on the back, but their meaning was manifold. They told her about homesickness, about tears and cries, about not knowing what to do and about hoping to return soon.

All it said was:

"Please forgive him - Minako."

They had just returned from a party of an old friend's of his and Ando was drunk. Very much so. He had barely made it into the bathroom before she heard him retching. Scrunching up her nose, she opened the mini-bar and grabbed a bottle of water. After rummaging in a chest of drawers for a minute, she produced a pack of aspirin. After all, this was not the first time. Carrying the life-saving supplies into the bathroom, she sat down next to her friend and wondered whether she would react the same way were their positions reversed.

"I hurt her, I was a monster", he croaked out before succumbing to the nausea again. He was punishing himself, but he had no idea that seeing him like this hurt Minako just as much. Stroking his back in soothing motions, she felt so much older than her actual years.

A couple walked down the sweets aisle in a supermarket together just before the shop closed.

Their conversation was easy, their laughter pleasant and the way they looked at each other spoke of more than just affection. Also, they were completely oblivious to the time and the staff waiting for them to finally complete their purchase and allow them to call it a day which -given their considerate natures- was very unusual.

"Shall we get some gummy bears?"

Umino nodded and bent down to retrieve a family pack. Meeting Ami's raised eyebrows, he grinned.

"What? We are watching a Lord of the Rings marathon. That's easily nine hours and you want me to get the small package?"

The student shook her head, but the smile on her face said very clearly that she didn't mind his sweet tooth at all.

"Minako sent me some candy, too. And since I haven't eaten it yet, I'm willing to share."

Running a hand through his wavy hair, Umino couldn't hide the apprehension that appeared on his face. Careful not to meet his girlfriend's observant eyes, he looked at the selection of sweets in his hands instead.

"She's sending you candy?"

"And weekly postcards. Ando is not-"

Looking at her intently, he interrupted her.

"Ami, sorry, but I don't care what Ando is or is not at the moment. Because frankly, he is supposed to be here in Tokyo and not hiding in New York. And I can't believe that your friend is supporting him in his cowardice when she has Takeshi waiting for her. Now, do you want popcorn?"

Seeing the tension in his shoulders and the steel in his eyes, she sighed. Umino flew off the handle whenever Ando was mentioned, but the senshi knew that it had just as much to do with the fact that he missed his flatmate horribly (not that this was something he would ever admit) as with being angry on Takeshi's behalf.

"Yes please."



"How are you?"


"Fine fine or I pretend to be fine when all I want to do is cower in a dark corner fine?"

They sat outside a small café, drinking iced lattes that had begun to taste sour in her mouth.

Ando shrugged his shoulders in way of response, and played with the red straw that decorated the plastic cup. The sun was shining on their blonde heads, and Minako could already smell the first traces of spring's end and summer's beginning in the fresh air.

She absent-mindedly began to play with the locket resting on her chest. She hadn't taken it off ever since she had first put it on, regardless of everything else that happened around her. Ando hadn't noticed the sudden appearance of the jewellery, but that she was grateful for. She knew that she would break the minute she would have to talk about the box and its content, and since her friend needed her to be strong, she was trying her best to hold it together.

There had been no phone calls, no letters, no emails, nothing. She wondered if he had stopped the building of their house once he realised that she had gone to New York but even thinking about it tore at the façade of cheeriness she had erected for Ando's sake.

Pushing her milkshake over to him, she leaned back in her chair and watched the people passing by.

His call had come as a complete surprise. They did get along very well, but then again, everyone was drawn to his friendly and easy-going personality. Yet they had never met without Makoto or Umino present and since his days of being a student were long since gone, Hiromasa's presence on campus was somewhat unconventional.

"I feel like I am cheating on her by just being here", he joked and made an encompassing gesture around the café that was decidedly not his girlfriend's. Still uncertain as to the purpose of the whole secrecy, Ami remained quiet but granted the man a genuine smile. Hiromasa was nervous, very much so. His hands were never still, and neither was his mouth. After they had placed their orders, he jumped into a long, rambling recount of the past weekend, during which he had finally introduced Makoto to his beloved grandparents.

"And naturally, they adore her. She brought them cake, so even if they hadn't taken to her as a person, the cake would have made them change their mind. She was so nervous, even though I told her a million times that they would take to her immediately. Really good cake. Chocolate. Or something." The waitress brought them the two cups of espresso they had ordered and Hiromasa downed his in one gulp, promptly burning his tongue. She didn't think she had seen him this fidgety since the day he had met Mamoru again.

Leaning her head to the side, she decided to put him out of his misery.

"Hiromasa, please do not think me rude, but I cannot help feeling that this meeting has a very specific reason. One that you haven't broached yet. So why don't you just tell me?"

He began to nod his head vigorously, causing his chestnut curls to bounce. The tall man was incapable of subtle movements, but it was an endearing quality. Instead of speaking, he pulled something out of the pockets of his jeans and put it on the table between them.

"This was my grandmother's. Do you think Makoto will like it?"

Ami picked up the small golden ring with cautious fingers and held it closer to her face. It was rather modest, a small diamond its only decoration, but she knew instantly that Makoto would love it all the more for its simplicity.

The tall man on the chair opposite her began to speak again, drumming his fingers on the table and his feet on the ground. Ami wondered whether or not he would have a coronary before asking her friend to marry him.

"If you think she won't like it, I'll go and buy her a new one, a fancier one with big stones and stuff, but I thought she might appreciate that this one has a story already, a happy one at that."

Most carefully, Ami placed the ring back on the table. She was beaming as she spoke.

"Makoto will love it, Hiromasa."

The huge sigh of relief he made caused her to openly laugh, the sound fitting in seamlessly into the warm spring day.

It was the first time he had seen her sunny demeanour slip since they had arrived and it was actually quite painful to watch. They had gone to Jekyll & Hyde's, a horror themed restaurant that should have been exactly to her taste, but she hadn't smiled all evening. Her eyes cast to the plate, she had pushed the food around without eating it and even when a man in a Godzilla costume had approached them with free desserts, she had barely managed to crack a smile.

Back in the hotel, she excused herself, saying that she wanted to go take a bath. Both of them knew it was a lie, but he felt that he owed her a bit of privacy.

When she hadn't left the bathroom three hours later, he knocked and pushed the door open, not surprised to find it unlocked. She sat on the floor, an ashtray beside her and dried tears on her face. Noticing that she had run out of cigarettes, he offered her one of his.

Together, they smoked the night away, each of them haunted by their own demons.

"What is it?"

"Another postcard from Minako. They've been to Disney Land."

Thinking of Takeshi holed up in his office, Mamoru cursed and threw the innocent piece of paper a disgruntled glance before taking it from his wife's hands and putting it into the bin.

Another week had passed and things were still not looking up. They had taken a walk in Central Park this morning and a woman with long black hair had walked in front of them. Ando had paled visibly, but couldn't tear his eyes away from her.

Minako could have told him that Rei's hair was most certainly more silky than the stranger's, but she linked her arm in his instead and began to chat about the fantastic book shop she had discovered. He didn't hear a word she said.

Makoto wanted to go to Yokohama. And she wanted to do so in a car.

The only problem was that the senshi had never acquired a driver's license, let alone a car, something Hiromasa had teased her about for weeks upon weeks. He had insisted that every business woman needed a car, but Makoto had shrugged him off and simply hired a delivery guy for the odd cakes that were not picked up directly in the shop.

So she had asked Takeshi for a favour, secrecy and three hours of his time on a Sunday and the architect had complied without asking any questions. Presently, they sat in his comfortable car, a gleaming silver BMW X5, and headed south.

"Thanks for helping me, this is very nice of you. I know how busy you are."

Ever since Minako and Ando had gone to New York, he had taken to working on the weekends as well. Makoto had visited him in his office twice shortly after their departure, and marvelled at the chaos that surrounded him. She had always assumed that he would have a very tidy office, but that was so far from the truth that it was laughable. Calling it creative chaos was an euphemism if she ever heard one, but she was too polite to comment on it.

"You're welcome, but since you invite me over for dinner at least once a week, I am more than happy to help you." It had been Hiromasa's idea, and Makoto had supported it fully. So every Wednesday evening, Takeshi stood in front of their door at eight sharp, always carrying a bottle of expensive wine in his hands. Sometimes they were joined by Umino and Ami, sometimes by Usagi and Mamoru, and sometimes it was just the three of them, but Makoto knew that if it weren't for their weekly meeting, Takeshi wouldn't see anyone but his colleagues all week long.

"May I ask what is leading you to Yokohama?"

Their eyes met in the rear view mirror and he was surprised to see her grinning so broadly.

"I'm picking up a gift for Hiromasa."

"My editor hates me."

"Hmm. Isn't that sort of his job?"

"Have you been shopping again?"


"More shoes?"


"You're addicted."

"No, I'm bored," she joked, but the smile didn't quite reach her eyes.

After checking three times that he in fact not lost the ring, Hiromasa finally entered their flat. His palms were already sweaty and he repeatedly swiped them on his jeans. Makoto had spent the morning doing something with the girls, so he had taken a long walk with Umino to assemble his courage. That the philosopher had been laughing at him half of the time hadn't helped and Hiro had eventually tried to push him in a pond they had walked by, but the man had an annoyingly perfect sense of balance.

Clearing his throat, he walked down the hall and into their leaving room, where his girlfriend was sitting on the couch reading a book she hastily threw under the cushions when she heard him. She wasn't quick enough though and while he didn't see the cover, he did see one of the pages cheekily peeking out from under its hiding spot.

"What are you hiding?"


"Nothing under the pillows?"

She grinned and got up, giving him a brief kiss before cocking her head and answering, her voice a lot more sing-songy that it usually was.

"And especially nothing in the bathroom."

Remembering the temporarily forgotten ring in his pocket, he nodded and shifted from one foot to the other. He took her hand and tried to lead her back to the sofa. Now was the time. Breathing in, he thought of the moment he had seen her painting the shop, of the first time he had kissed her, of the first time they had spend a night with each other, of the first time they ha-

"Hmm, and I was under the impression that I wasn't overly subtle," she quipped, refusing to sit down and interrupting his thoughts.

"Excuse me?"

"I am not hiding anything in the bathroom." She looked up at him, and winked twice.

"Well, good. Now Mako, please take a seat, there's this certain something I've been meaning to ta-"

Shaking her head in the most exasperated manner, she walked past him and not letting go of his hand, pulled him down the hall to the bathroom.

"Mako, really, can't this wait?"

"No, it can't!" she called over her shoulder, giving him another radiant smile that made him weak in the knees.

Pushing the bathroom door open, she turned to him in order to watch his response. His eyes widened. The whole floor was covered in newspapers and in the middle of it sat a big-eared, soft-furred puppy with a red bow around its neck.

"Is that a basset hound?"

Makoto giggled.

"I picked him up from a breeder in Yokohama today, Takeshi was so kind as to drive me. It's a pity that the little lad rewarded that kindness with a puddle on his leather seats."

Hiromasa walked over to the tiny dog, holding out his hand so that it could sniff it before gently picking it up.

"You've bought us a dog."

He spoke quietly as he scratched the puppy behind its ears.

Her grin got even wider as she saw the tall man cradling the the tiny dog. Bull's eye, she thought to herself and stepped closer, placing her arm around his waist.

"You like him then?"

His eyes meet hers, a strange expression in them. He put the basset hound in her arms, and fished for something in his pockets.

"Hiro? Are you okay?"

He shook his head.

"Hiro? Why are you looking at me like that? I thought you wanted to have a dog again?"

Still shaking his head, he beckoned to her to be silent, a fiercely loving expression his face.

He got down on one knee and suddenly realisation dawned on her.

"Oh my god. You're not, are you? Hiro?"

He held the ring up to her, the one she had seen on his grandmother's slim finger a little over two weeks ago.

"Do you want to marry me?"

Her answer was a sea of happy tears, a vigorous nod and a bruising kiss. For the first time since her parents died, she had a family again and she had never felt so lucky.

She spent every night the same way.

First she would try to sleep, then she would turn the lights on and look at the sketch he had given her, then she would try to sleep again only to hear her friend's cries and howls in the adjourning room.

Why it was that particular night she decided that enough was enough, she couldn't say.

Jumping out of her bed, she stormed into Ando's room and gripping his shoulders, began to shake him rather violently.

"Wake up. Ando! Wake up! Oh for the love of god, don't you hear me?"

When his blue eyes blinked open and beheld the upset girl almost on top of him, reality had him back.

"Min, what is it?" He knew that it must have been the sounds of his haunted sleep that disrupted her own rest, but she normally just slipped under the covers beside him, knowing that her sheer presence would allow him to escape the nightmares at least for a little while.

"Ando, listen to me and listen to me carefully, because I have no intention of saying this again. We've been here for months now, and you're not feeling better. Not a bit. You're still crying in your sleep, you drink to much- don't you dare deny it, you daft idiot, you are a bottomless pit and I've had it. Do you hear me? I've had it! This is not working." Even in the relative darkness of the room, he could see her eyes blazing. Tousling his curls, he sat up a bit and stared at the enraged girl.

"You're even more miserable here than you were in Tokyo and I'm not waiting for you to understand that any longer. It doesn't matter where you are, you are without her."

They had stopped speaking about Rei as soon as Minako had realised that every time the priestess' name was mentioned, Ando decided to get sloshed. But apparently the rules had been changed, for the senshi continued; desperation, pleading, hope and anger mixing in her voice, giving it an edge it hadn't had before.

"So I don't care about how hopeless you perceive this to be, we are going home. And since you just can't seem to make up your mind as to when our return is supposed to take place, let me take over here. We're going home. Tomorrow. I'll go book the flight."

Bouncing off of his mattress, she shot out of his room, blonde hair angrily swishing behind her.

Exhaling deeply, Ando got up and walked over to the mini-bar, only to find it empty.

Hiromasa and Makoto had invited them all over for a generous Sunday brunch. The table was laden with foods of all sorts, ranging from pancakes to sausages to fruit to almost everything else one could wish for. Even Rei had been convinced to leave the temple for once and she sat next to Usagi, who was just now dropping a pancake on her friend's empty plate with a stern expression on her face.

Umino and Ami just waited for the bomb to drop. Both of them knew what it was being celebrated with this lavish brunch and exchanged hushed words every now and then, followed by grins and giggles.

Takeshi and Mamoru were deep in a conversation about the new wing of the hospital that was still under construction even though it should have been finished weeks ago and Takeshi explained to his future king that nothing in this world could hurry building labourers.

The still unnamed pet had been gushed over by the girls and Takeshi had tried his best not to imagine the doubtlessly gleeful reaction Minako would have had upon seeing the small dog with its ears so long that they almost trailed on the ground when it walked.

Soft footfalls sounded through the hall, and very carefully, a key was turned in its look. The door was closed almost noiselessly and the secret visitor put her suitcase to the ground and slipped out of her sandals. Making her way straight into his bedroom, her heart pounded violently in her chest and breathing became difficult. The first rays of sunlight were falling through the windows, and she breathed in deeply as she beheld his sleeping form. Sneaking to the large bed on which he was resting, she knew that she should have returned weeks ago.

Not quite sure how to go about things, she gingerly sat down on the edge of the mattress and watched him sleep for a while.

In another part of town, Ando was less subtle about his return. Especially since it was a return he had not initiated and was not too happy about in the first place.

He slammed the door extra hard, knowing that Umino was fully capable of sleeping through an earthquake. When the snoring continued, Ando walked into the kitchen and pulled out some pots from the pantry, and dropped them to the floor, making sure that one fell on top of the other so that they made lots and lots of noise. Enough noise to wake the dead, let alone his flatmate. Lighting a cigarette, he grinned as he heard the snoring stop abruptly and seconds later, a pyjama-clad Umino stumbled into the kitchen, a confused expression on his face.

"Hi. I'm back."

At six o'clock, his shrill alarm began beeping and thus the new week began. Without opening his eyes, he turned it off. The brunch had turned into tea and the tea in turn had led to a dinner to further celebrate the engagement. The dinner had been followed by drinks and Takeshi had gladly toasted to the couple time and again. Makoto and Hiromasa had been beaming all day long and Takeshi was genuinely happy for them.

Only when he stepped out of the shower and got dressed, did he notice that something was off. Decidedly so. Not bothering to knot his tie, he stepped into the hall and followed his nose.

His penthouse smelled of freshly brewed coffee and something else. Something burned. He hurried his steps and rushed into the kitchen.

She stood in front of the sink, her slender back to him. A fuming pan was standing on the stove, but was being completely neglected as she held her aching fingers under the jet of cold water.

Upon hearing his steps, she whipped around, uncertainty playing on her features.

"I wanted to make pancakes. know... and then I... but... I can't really cook..." She gulped and watched his face, waiting for him to react. "I'm here." His guard was up and she couldn't see through it.

Takeshi saw the locket dangling on her neck and decided that it had simply been too long.

Too long since he had seen her, too long since he had held her, too long that he had heard her voice.

Moving closer in measured steps, he brought her hand up to his face and examined the burns. Her eyes were brimming with tears that had nothing to do with the hot pan and everything to do with him being so close.

When he slowly kissed the pain away, and his eyes met hers, she saw the raw emotion swirling in his green orbs.

She vowed never to leave again.


A Sailor Moon Story
by LovelyLytton

Part 40 of 42

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