|Bottom of a Phone Booth
Author: Kihin Ranno PM
Epic love stories often have the most ludicrous beginnings.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Kunzite/Malachite & Minako A./Mina/Sailor Venus - Words: 2,321 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 1 - Published: 11-11-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3241182
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Bottom of a Phone Booth
Written for the Fanfic100 Challenge on LiveJournal
Sailor Venus and Kunzite Claim
01 - Beginnings
by Kihin Ranno
Takehiko wouldn't call himself a careless man, and neither would anyone else who had ever had the experience of meeting him, bumping into him, or glancing at him from across a crowded room. Anyone could instantly tell that Takehiko was careful and that he never did or said anything without thoroughly thinking it through. It was part of what made him an adept leader and successful in nearly everything he did. He was not a man who made many mistakes.
And that was why he was so annoyed when his cell phone battery died in the middle of a phone conversation that, while it was not vitally important, was not one that he wanted to have cut off.
He looked down at the small device, shaking his head. He couldn't recall ever having had this problem before, and that was because he always plugged his cell phone in to charge the moment he got to his flat at the end of the day. He had done so without fail ever since he had gotten a cell phone, and he couldn't think of why he hadn't done so the day before. He certainly thought that he had plugged it in, but then a certain trio of men had conspired to distract him the day before. It was entirely possible that he hadn't been paying enough attention while he was doing it.
It was irritating, but it was hardly catastrophic. After all, there was still such a thing as a pay phone, and he was armed with change and a phone card in case of such a situation. So Takehiko put his dead cell phone into the pocket of his trench coat without fuss and began looking for a phone booth to continue the call.
It took him awhile to locate one that wasn't occupied, a fact that didn't quite surprise him but still gave him cause to take notice. He happened to pass what looked like a very important business man making a very important call on very important manners, a housewife out with three of her little ones who thought that the phone booth was a mini-playground, and a young girl who appeared to be having a very animated conversation. It was after passing the last that he saw an empty booth on the next block. He sighed in relief and began to walk forward, but he was stopped by the sound of a loud bang.
Takehiko turned to see that the girl was slamming the phone into the receiver repeatedly. On the fourth time, she held it steady for a moment, though Takehiko could see through the glass that she was clutching the phone with an almost vice-like grip. Then her shoulders shook as her back slumped against the glass. She slid down to the floor, hugging her knees close to her chest. She was clearly crying.
Takehiko looked on for a moment, noting that the girl was getting a number of looks from passers by (and that he was getting a number of looks for standing in the middle of the sidewalk as well). He also noted that no one was stopping to help her. He didn't know whether it would be appreciated or not, but for whatever reason, he didn't want to go on about his business without seeing if the girl was okay.
He strode forward and reached into his pocket to pull out a handkerchief. He rapped on the window, but she didn't appear to hear him over the sound of a particularly loud sob. He thought of knocking again, but he decided against it. Instead, he slid the door open and crouched down before she could look up and see him towering over him. She still didn't seem to notice him, so he cleared his throat and said, "Excuse me, miss?"
She looked up, and Takehiko had no idea how he kept his balance.
It was iher/i. He had no idea how he had been so blind as to miss it (though later he would explain it away because of her hairstyle and the heels she was wearing that made her look taller), but he had. And now he was sitting in front of iher/i - the leader of the Sailor Senshi, his murderer twice over, and a woman who meant a great deal to him once. She still did, even though he had never met her and he did not know her name.
She stared at him staring at her and then instantly became self-conscious once she realized she was doing it. She wiped at her eyes hastily and began to get to her feet, though she was having considerable trouble given the lack of room she had to move, the green spike heels she was wearing, and the fact that she was trying to preserve her modesty. She was incredibly embarrassed on top of her grief, and he felt a pang for having caused any of it. "Do you need the phone? I'm so sorry. I shouldn't be--"
"No," he said hastily, regretting the volume of his voice when she jumped a bit. Takehiko paused, quickly struggling to regain control. He didn't sigh, but he almost wanted to, right before he said, "I don't need the phone. I just wanted to see if you were all right." He held his arm out, offering her the handkerchief he had gotten out a moment before.
She stared at the bit of cloth and then back up at him again. Then she laughed, still miserable, causing a few more tears to fall down her cheeks. It was smearing her eye make-up, but he was paying more attention to her eyes. They were solid blue now, a lighter hue than any he'd ever seen before. He could remember when they had had gold rays extending out from the pupil. They had glowed when she was exceptionally emotional and during… other times.
He cleared his throat out of private propriety and almost missed what she said.
"Evidence of chivalry? Someone certainly has a twisted sense of humor," she observed, sniffling. She brought a hand up to take it, but she hesitated at the last moment.
Takehiko noticed that she had a fresh manicure, but she had picked off some of the nail polish. He saw flecks of red on her skirt. "Take it," he told her, trying to be kind.
She looked at him for a moment, confused, but she did as he asked. She shook her head as she dabbed at her eyes, wiping the black and wet away. "I warn you now. I am trying not to blow my nose because that would result in the inevitable awkward moment where I try to give it back out of politeness and you have to turn it down because it's just gross. But I don't know how much longer that resolve is going to last."
Takehiko chuckled, briefly amazed at how she could joke when she was clearly in such distress. "I have others," he assured her after a moment. Then he glanced at the handkerchief and raised an eyebrow. "Though I don't think I would have taken it back regardless. I wouldn't know what to do with mascara stains."
Her eyes widened and she removed the cloth from her face. He saw her cheeks turn pinker under her light application of rouge. "Oh, no. I'm so sorry. It's probably ruined now." She paused and realized the even more embarrassing implication. "And I must look ridiculous."
"Don't apologize," he said, the stern sincerity in his voice clearly taking her off guard once again. "I told you. I have others."
She sniffed again but found that it wasn't doing the trick any more. She blew her nose as daintily as she possibly could, keeping her eyes on him at all times. A moment later, she reached over to her purse at her side and began frantically looking around for something that was no doubt buried at the bottom. "You're just saying that because you already knew you weren't going to get it back when all this started." She finally found what she was looking for, a compact, and held it up to her face. She groaned, the pink flush leaning closer and closer to red. "I was wrong. I look worse than ridiculous. I would give my eye teeth to just look ridiculous."
Takehiko felt a pang that took him off guard, but he knew it couldn't be helped. He had never enjoyed watching anyone look down on themselves, and this was no exception. Especially since he knew she had never been so self-deprecating before and that she was probably one of the people least deserving of such words, least of all from her own mouth. Though, he reminded himself, he didn't know iher/i; he only knew who she used to be.
"Ridiculous-looking women do not often have men worrying about their well-being even before names have been exchanged," Takehiko informed her, smirking in anticipation of her reaction.
She was still blushing. But he was pleased to see that one thing about her had not changed. She still knew flirting when she heard it, and it had a pleasing effect on her disposition. She straightened her shoulders a bit and finished wiping off the ruined portion of her make-up. When she finished, she looked up at him, arching an eyebrow at him. "Do you say that to every girl you find in hysterics at the bottom of a phone booth?"
He shook his head. "Only the blondes," he assured her. "Now, please don't take this as a comment on your company, but this position is rather painful to hold, so would you mind…" he trailed off, gesturing the remainder of his sentence.
"Oh. Right," she said. She once again looked like she was going to have trouble, but that was quickly remedied when Takehiko offered her a hand to help her to her feet. She looked at it as if she was expecting to bit her at any moment, but it didn't stop her from taking it.
Takehiko didn't quite straighten immediately, bending down to get her purse first. He handed it to her and finally stood at his full height. He noticed her eyes widen. "Yes?" he asked, knowing something had surprised her.
"Nothing," she said quickly. "It's just… You're very… tall." She didn't seem to realize what she had been thinking until after she'd said it aloud. A hand flew to her mouth while the other clenched itself into a fist, balling up the handkerchief she was still holding on to.
He chuckled, not the least bit offended, which she was clearly relieved about. "Don't worry. It surprises everyone who meets me while I'm sitting." He paused. "Or in your case, crouched down."
She smiled, looking as if whatever had upset her (he suspected a now ex-boyfriend) was no longer very important. She was twirling the end of her French braid around her finger as she asked, "So what iis/i your name?"
He considered her question for a moment, which seemed to amuse her.
"What? Did you not right it enough in kindergarten?" she teased. "Why don't I start then? I'm Aino Minako."
He laughed without meaning to and said, "Of course you are."
She blinked. "I'm sorry?"
He shook his head. "Nothing. I just thought it was fitting." He was happy to see that he'd made her blush again and that she was beginning to become annoyed with herself because of it. "I'm Takehiko."
She waited for him to finish and pouted cutely when he didn't. "I don't get a last name?"
"That's for next time," Takehiko said, smiling. Then he pushed his hands into the pockets of his trench coat and began to walk off. "Keep the handkerchief and be sure to tell your boyfriend that a very tall man thinks he shouldn't make pretty girls cry at the bottom of phone booths."
She made some very funny noises in response to that and he was a little sad that his back was turned, meaning that he couldn't see it. "Wait! How do you know there'll even be a next time?"
He thought of answering her, but he decided against it. Instead, he turned around to bow courteously and then continued on his way. He chuckled when he heard her continue to sputter in outrage and then stalk off in the opposite direction.
A few minutes later, he came upon another empty phone booth. He stepped in and swiped his phone card efficiently. He dialed the newly memorized number and waited.
After three rings, the other person picked up. "Finally. It's been almost thirty minutes. What happened to you?"
"Phone died," Takehiko said simply, injecting the apology into his voice so that it didn't sound as curt as it could have. He leaned his shoulder against the glass, inhaling the scent of her perfume that had been left behind. "In more interesting news, guess who I just ran into?"
Author's Note: Takehiko is a name that was given to Kunzite's "reincarnation" in the wonderfully wonderful epic "The Exiles" by Starsea, and I have been unable to find a better name for him, so I keep stealing it with permission. It is by far the best Shitennou fic around, so if you have any interest in the boys, please go and read it right now.