Spirit of Fire

Prologue

He looked out at the cemetery through the tinted windows of his limousine, sadness evident in his normally stony gray eyes. They were a perfect match for the overcast skies.

Looks like rain, he thought, grabbing a large black umbrella from the seat beside him. The man then reached for the solid gold handle, but couldn't bring himself to open the car door. This was a mistake. He shouldn't have come.

It had been over ten years since he last visited the small Buddhist cemetery where his wife's ashes were buried. After the funeral, he just couldn't bring himself to visit her grave, afraid to feel the sharp pain that accompanied any reminder that Takara was no longer with him. So why now? What possessed him to return after so many years of pretending that the time spent with the raven-haired miko was nothing more than a beautiful dream he had been forced to wake up from one ironically gorgeous spring day?

He involuntarily jumped as the window separating him from the driver slowly rolled down. The driver, a sixty-year-old man who had been the prominent politician's personal chauffeur for the past fifteen or so years, glanced up at his boss's reflection in the rearview mirror, a confused look on his face.

"This is the correct address, is it not, Hino-sama?" he asked. "I followed the map, but some of the street names are faded and such…"

The man nodded. "Yes, this is the place, Ogata-kun, but I've changed my mind. Take me back to the office."

"As you wish, sir." Ogata rolled the window back up and started to drive away. They were barely ten feet away from the cemetery when his boss knocked on the glass. The driver stopped once again and pushed the button that put down the window. "Yes, Hino-sama?"

"I've decided to stay," the man replied, reaching again for the door handle and opening the door. He stepped out of the limousine, stretching out his hand to check for precipitation. It was lightly drizzling, but nothing too bothersome. Still, he took the umbrella just in case.

Ogata rolled down his driver's side window. "Should I wait here or come back later, sir?"

"I'll call you when I require your services," the man decided, checking to make sure he had his cell phone with him in his coat pocket. The chauffeur nodded before driving off toward a nearby restaurant for some lunch.

Once the car was out of sight, the man turned around and pushed his gold-rimmed glasses up his nose, sighing loudly. He was surprised to find the cemetery practically deserted except for about three or four families who braved the dreary weather to pay respect to their deceased relatives. It was the holy week of Obon, was it not? He expected to find the place more crowded, but he supposed the possibility of rain kept most mourners away.

After taking a deep breath, the politician forced himself to enter the cemetery, ignoring the atmosphere of death and loneliness that surrounded him like a thick wool blanket, almost suffocating him. He looked over the vicinity with his gray eyes, searching for a particular tombstone.

Though years had passed since he last saw her grave, the man was able to easily find the simple headstone located in the far corner of the graveyard. It was practically hidden in the shadows of an old sakura tree. He slowly walked toward the grave, suddenly feeling self-conscious as he realized that he had nothing to offer the deceased. It was too late to go back now though.

Only as he walked closer toward Takara's grave did he notice that someone else was already there. The visitor had long raven hair, almost the exact color of midnight, which hung loose down her back, and wore the familiar red and white robes of a Shinto miko. The faint smell of incense hung in the air, and the girl was softly speaking, mostly likely some prayer for the desceased. The man suddenly paused in his tracks, the color running from his face as if he had just seen a ghost.

"Takara…"

The beautiful shrine maiden turned around and glanced up at the sound of her mother's name, staring at the man who stood less than five feet away. Her lovely amethyst eyes, identical to her late mother's, darkened in a mixture of sadness and anger as she recognized who he was. The man knew he was the last person she wanted to see today.

"Otou-sama."

DISCLAIMER: Sailor Moon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is based on information given in the manga. Special thanks to my editor, Krysia.