Hi no Himitsu (The Fire's Secret) : Chapter 28 - CONSEQUENCE
ANOOO… Well… Umm…
ARIGATOU /DOMO ARIGATOU GOZAIMASHITA… Thank you
BAKA / BAKERO… Fool / Stupid
CHOTTO MATTE … Please wait a little
DAIJOUBU… It is ok
GOMENE / GOMEN NASAI… I'm sorry
KOGYARU… Tanned girls with blonde hair, a phenomenon in Japan inspired by pop stars
KONNICHIWA … Good afternoon
MASAKA… No way/But…
MIKO… Shrine attendant
NANI … What?
OJII-SAN … Grandfather
OMI-AI … Love matchmaker
SENPAI… Senior person
SENSHI … Soldier (in this case, referring to the sailor senshi)
SOU KA / SOU DESU KA… Oh… Is that so
SUIMASEN… Sorry/Excuse me
WAKATTA … Ok/I understand
In the Previous Chapter:
After telling his father of his decision to marry Suzaku-sama, Kamui proceeded to finally give up all of his mementos. In the midst of that, he and the rest of his friends (Kenta, Sanjounin and Soujirou) met for a meeting at Sanjounin's unkempt apartment. There Soujirou revealed that he had indeed recovered his memories except for some few gaps. But when Soujirou revealed that a magical force named Elis is the source of their accident, the three of them stood in disbelief, except for Kenta, who believe that the part where they must search for 'their prince' is true.
Kenta was in fact resolute to finding 'their prince' and has even returned to Takei-sensei's play to play opposite Minako as a lead. (Minako swooned when she realized.)
Rei's grandfather told Rei that he would not allow his granddaughter to experience the pain he saw her mother experience. In the case that Kamui would choose to marry Suzaku-sama, he has already set a plan for Rei to go and do a teaching mission in Ishizuchi Jinja in Hawaii, far away from all the news in Japan for the celebrated wedding.
Soujirou further revealed that he has learned all of this by discovering the mask of V-Knight that triggered the return of his memories especially that of being V-Knight himself. Soujirou said since he has recovered his memories this way, it would also be scientific for the rest to seek out their own mementos or souvenirs to regain theirs. So each of them then began to search for their own - Soujirou who has found his memento and would know seek to get on the Iron Grandmaster broadcast, Sanjounin by releasing his song on Valentine's Day and Kenta by seeking their prince.
Kamui, on the other hand, despite having been revealed by Soujirou of an article in the newspaper of his miko "girlfriend" in the Sumida and the sudden flashback just by that photo, was resolved to burn his wood block memento in order to be certain of his decision. As soon as he went there and did that, the Sacred Fire began to reveal its 'Secret' and became the ultimate memento that would give Kamui all of his memories. To add insult to injury, he had seen Rei Hino enter Hikawa Jinja at that time. Despite being persuaded by Rei to help in regaining his memories, Kamui, despite his hesitation to do so, told Rei that he would no longer need his past and would instead start fresh on his future. He parted with her saying that it is too late and dashed out of Hikawa Jinja with a heavy heart.
(Remember: Kamui Asano is Jadeite; Kenta Maeda is Kunzite; Soujirou Nishimura is Zoicite; Sanjounin Masato is Nephrite. See Author's Notes on WHY these names.)
Nigatsu. Jurokunichi. (February 16)
The day after is always the hardest. Phobos and Deimos kept vigil on their princess that night as she chose to stay by the Sacred Fire and clear her mind of him in meditation and tears. Unfortunately, the chants she recited could only drive away evil spirits but not her depression. She opened her eyes slowly that morning and ignored the little pains on her back from sleeping on the cold floor. The cold light of the morning was unexpectedly breezy because the Sacred Fire was already extinguished by the time Rei Hino woke up.
Phobos and Deimos stood a little away from the extinguished fire and waited for their princess to rise. When she turned away, they called to her until she acquiesced to their side. Between both of them was the remainder of wood, about a quarter of it that remained, that Kamui threw in the fire. Phobos and Deimos were unaware of the secret that the fire revealed to Kamui that released back his missing memories but they managed to sort this remnant one out to present to their princess to show her that not even such a huge fire could consume a wish-that if that had been the case, then the impossible can happen and she should not give up. There was a risk that but the guardians were not in their past forms that they have the ability to speak and comfort their princess in words. So now, they simply presented it to her with that simple hope that she would sense their true message as she usually did.
Rei knelt down and held the wood in her hands and saw only half of the first character of "miko" that Kamui wrote with his own hand. She felt its edges to remember what it felt like when she had kept it in its complete form. This action weakened her that she dropped her relic of him on the floor, jolting Phobos and Deimos to jump out from their places.
"In the distant past during our days on the Moon, I remember burning a memento of his so that I could easily forget him," Rei's voice crumbled as she spoke to her guardians. "Now, he has burned this because he chose not to remember me."
Though she tried her best, she could not help but have tears drop on her coal-lined fingers. Last night just wasn't enough to empty all her tears. Phobos and Deimos immediately rushed to fly to their princess's lap to comfort her as she softly sobbed out her frustration.
"Arigatou...minna…" she told them helplessly. Just for today, Rei will be resigned to this fact and allow herself to soak in her tears once more. She's not sure that tomorrow will be a different day but there's just a comfort that it will pass.
Nigatsu. Jugonichi. (February 15)
Aiko Asano immediately saw Nishida's rough and obstinate walk when he entered the family room. She also noticed the serious stare underneath his dark shades. After he bowed to her, she patiently waited for him to catch his breath and speak his mind.
"First off, I would like to apologize in advance for being honest, Asano-san," Nishida grunted underneath those words. "But it is only because I truly care for the welfare of Kamui-san."
Aiko Asano nodded to acknowledge.
"I think that Kamui-san is making a big mistake," Nishida boldly told her.
Aiko Asano understood what Nishida meant but she still calmly took a long moment to think. "Asano-dono and I have faith in Kamui. He never decides hastily and always thinks before he acts."
"But with all due respect, Asano-san...he is not the same Kamui we know."
"All I'm saying, Nishida…" Aiko Asano gently raised her hand to gesture for Nishida to listen. "...is that in the end, whatever happens, we will have to respect Kamui's final decision."
Nishida nodded to acknowledge without masking his own disappointment to his mistress.
"I have already spoken to my wise husband and he already knows what to do now that he is speaking with the Emperor. Until then, we can only influence how the stars act on their own fates."
Nishida took a moment to repeat Aiko Asano's cryptic words. Those were things that he could not understand fully but that there was something in there he knew he could count on for encouragement.
"After all," Aiko Asano said with her famous husband's smirk. "I made a promise to that girl."
Nigatsu. Jugonichi. (February 15)
Gozen Juujirokupun. (10:05 am)
The lights went completely bright on Ami Mizuno's face. A huge squeal of static from the mics were heard for a few seconds until there was complete silence on that brightly lit set.
Ami panned her sight across that room searching for a familiar image. Through the lines of people from the production staff to a group of suits representing the producers and one director biting his nails in anticipation, Ami sat calmly on her chair. For a little while, she saw herself on the monitor and gave a weak smile.
"Five minutes have passed...will V-Knight come and face Mizuno-san for the title?" the voice of the announcer boomed across the set that surprised Ami for a second.
Then Ami Mizuno maintained her composure and sat down to wait.
For ten minutes.
For fifteen minutes.
For thirty-five minutes, and that was a long time to pretend staying calm in front of an audience of millions while her heart was completely antsy, Ami Mizuno was now managing how to keep the faith in having V-Knight return.
At forty three minutes, she knew she could no longer hold her tears. Sitting against an empty opponent with untouched chess pieces for another five minutes would cause her to break down on national television with the announcer giving a blow by blow account of how each chair fell.
Ami finally stood up and walked to the center of the stage to bow down and thank the virtual audience. "Domo arigatou gozaimashita, minna-san," she greeted. "I have come here with the same hope as all of you did that the real champion will emerge from this contest. I have waited long enough for him not because I believe that he will beat me...but because I want to know for myself if I can beat him."
"Maybe it's not for us to know the real outcome," Ami continued, trying to smile beneath her sad disposition. "But for myself, I will forever wonder…."
Then immediately, the lights went out including the monitor that was showing the live broadcast, setting the entire crew into panic. But Ami sighed out of all that commotion seeing this more as a reprieve from explaining any further regarding her true longing of seeing V-Knight. It would have ended safely that way for her and it would have boosted ratings much to the delight of the producers.
But the true V-Knight's presence would delight them even more because the lights went on and Ami heard a unanimous gasp from the line of people in front of her. She gave a moment to wonder and then she saw herself on the monitor and the image of the one she was waiting for.
"For that you do not have to wonder," the red-masked V-Knight said behind her. "Because I have already come."
Ami's heart sprung to life once again and she ran towards her seat to skid just right opposite him. Her smile showed that she could not mask her own delight upon seeing him.
"It can't be! The majestic V-Knight has arrived!" the announcer frantically announced. "Now we shall see who will become the true Iron Grandmaster!"
Drums and gongs erupted as Ami and V-Knight sat on their seats. V-Knight rested his elbow on the table and grinned as he moved a pawn. The first move.
There were only seven moves exchanged and Ami's concentration had diminished from the start. Yet, she remained completely focused on the game and was enduring enough patience not to be distracted just because of her opponent. Yet for all the tactics and concentration, it was ultimately V-Knight who had planned every single move hereon after.
"Mizuno-san…" V-Knight whispered, drawing gasps from the spectators since it was his turn to move. "I see there would only be four more moves before I can 'check mate' your king."
"Sou desu ka?" Ami asked calmly. "I have two counter-moves in place before taking your queen and leave your king exposed."
"Then our moves show who would win, wouldn't it?" whispered V-Knight with a grin. "Didn't I tell you before...that I would let you win?"
Masaka… heavy chills went down Ami's spine as she looked past the mask and into Soujirou's eyes. All these months of planning and finding how he would realize finally culminated into a satisfying end. "You remember," she whispered with a tear running down her cheek.
V-Knight nodded and smiled. "You do not have to wonder then," he said. "Because it was clear from the beginning that I am your match."
That was when the lights suddenly went off again sending a circle of panic running through the entire set. Even the producers were incensed at the prolonged outage of power this time right when the last fifteen minutes would pull in the biggest story they never planned happening on national television.
But by the time the light went on, the last minute of that show sounded signaling the end of the Iron Grandmaster. The announcer was forced to close the show with two empty seats at the center of its set with untouched chess pieces between them, showing an unfinished match.
A few minutes after the Iron Grandmaster was closed, Ami found herself mysteriously in V-Knight's arms, at the parking lot across the station's building. She blushed and gently pushed V-Knight from her. "Soujirou-san… how did you do that?" she asked in disbelief that he could somehow teleport.
"I don't know," he answered truthfully. "I just...I just wanted…."
Ami waited for an answer as she was shivering in the cold. Both she and V-Knight since they had mysteriously appeared outside that parking lot without their coats. But Soujirou seemed to be bothered by the cold so much that he hesitated to answer.
"Do you...remember everything, Soujirou-san?" Ami asked instead.
Soujirou nodded. "There are still some gaps but I have known enough...even to how much you changed since then."
"Since you were the princess." Soujirou paused to bite his lip for some warmth. "Of Mercury."
"Sou ka…" Ami smiled and shivered because of the excitement welling within her. "You have also changed!" She then grabbed Soujirou's bejeweled mask from his face and grinned to taunt him. "V-Knight?"
"It was the only way the grand Mizuno Ami-san would allow me to combat her. Even if I am a genius at Tokyo Tech, you never thought that I was your equal."
"Gomene...Soujirou-san," Ami told him sighing, her cheeks burning despite the cold. "I have realized that late."
Soujirou smiled and reached out for her both her hands, pressing them tight. "But you waited for me."
Ami Mizuno smiled and instantly felt that now was the best time to deliver that millenia-old excuse that she had given when she was the Princess of Mercury. "I'm...cold, Soujirou," she said coyly smiling with blushed cheeks.
"Anoo...gomen," whispered Soujirou, before slowly coming over to her side and tightly gave her an embrace. He only felt her warmth respond when her arm tightly held him towards her. But Soujirou was not able to see the happiness that Ami reciprocated because he was not able to see her tearful smile - a sign of her being grateful that the Soujirou she knew had returned.
Nigatsu. Nijuninichi. (February 22)
"Nani...Usagi-chan?" Makoto pressed her ear with her finger so that she could hear her friend speak out of all the commotion happening around here.
"Mako-chan… I really must insist on your full cooperation."
"Chotto matte, senpai… I just have a very important phone call," Makoto politely pleaded with a constant bow and with her hand still pressed to her ear.
"You say that Rei-chan is leaving? That soon?" Makoto's eyes widened in surprise. "I guess I understand...she will need time to forget."
Makoto listened for a while and then finally sighed before saying, "Daijoubu...Just take care of Rei-chan. You don't have to worry about me."
Enzo Kakei immediately realized the huge cloud that hung over Makoto and didn't hesitate to ask. "Your sadness… doesn't seem to fit the whole idea of what you're wearing now."
Immediately feeling self-conscious, Makoto immediately faced the mirror much to the dismay of Enzo Kakei's attendants who were attending to the huge, princess-style gown she was wearing. "Suimasen...senpai," Makoto apologized, seeing how much her disposition wilted the gown that demanded nothing else but a blushing bride.
Enzo Kakei immediately waved his hand to all his attendants as a gesture for them to leave. As soon as they left and he and Makoto were the only ones in his store, he shook his head and told her, "I'm sure that when your boyfriend sees you in this, he will see how beautiful you are and that will bring back the missing smile on your face."
Makoto smiled weakly. "That's what started all the argument in the first place. It was great before that," she answered, pulling down one of her long gloves. "I guess he realized that we were not looking at the same things."
"Men are sure of what they want. If he decided to move on with a relationship with you, he must want you," Kakei-san said in a matter-of-fact tone. "He may just want to move on to making you as his bride on his own time. I should know."
Makoto raised an eyebrow. "Hontou...senpai?" With a bridal shop and everything, Makoto actually thought that senpai was actually not-
"-Sumimasen! Are you the only people in this shop?" A stranger's voice interrupted, sending a freezing icicle down Makoto's spine.
"Hai, oyaku-sama," Kakei-senpai responded, calmly walking towards the new stranger. But Makoto remained with her back turned, still lucid with surprise and waiting to verify the voice she heard.
"Yoshi!" Makoto heard the customer say along with a few rushed steps on that little store. "I really need a place to hide!"
"Oyaku-sama? Nande…" Kakei-senpai's voice trailed as Makoto heard the stranger ruffle through all the clothes looking for a place to hide.
"Totemo gomen nasai!" the customer frantically apologized. "All these girls are after me! I just need some time to hide!"
But before Kakei-senpai could say anything, that stranger already crouched himself in front of Makoto so that she was able to see that familiar mop of curly hair with red streaks enough to verify that SanjouMasa was indeed, out of all the shops in that mall, inside Kakei-senpai's bridal store.
Baka! Makoto furiously thought. She was there to see all his groupies crowding the backstage during the time they were together. A group of kogyaru types even challenged her to a fight for hogging SanjouMasa's attention. But those were at most four or six. What an overreacting, proud ba-
Kakei-senpai and Makoto jumped at the giggly sounds an entire crowd of girls made in unison. As the object of their affection crouched in front of Makoto in fright, the crowd of girls passed by chanting his name, not knowing that they had bypassed him at the bridal shop. The crowd was indeed so many that smoke literally cleared after they thunderously stormed off. Who would've thought that a famous rock star would be in that place anyway?
"Yoshi! Now I am safe!" SanjouMasa declared, relieved, still sitting crouched in front of Makoto and looking behind her huge pouffy skirt to verify if they were gone.
"SanjouMasa?" Enzo Kakei's jaw dropped open. "You can't be...the lead singer of Nephrite?" The very word made Makoto gulp in her pouffy dress.
"Hai…" sighed SanjouMasa. "I didn't think it would have this disastrous response just to find…"
SanjouMasa paused at the moment he stood up because there was this striking image before him, dressed out of all things, as a blushing bride. He barely can make out words for a whole minute while Makoto remained frozen in her place, actually feeling very ashamed at her having to see him like this...again.
"Find what, SanjouMasa?" Enzo Kakei ask impatiently.
"Didn't you hear my newest song?" SanjouMasa asked, still not moving from his place.
"Dream Destiny?" asked Enzo Kakei, seeming mesmerized. "But of course!"
"Well, I thought that by putting that song out, I would be able to find her," SanjouMasa answered. "I shouldn't have made that announcement. Now all these girls claim that they're her!"
"Who's her?" Makoto asked softly.
Sanjounin smiled. "You have not heard of my song, miss? You must be one of the few."
That smile, Makoto knows well, was one of Sanjounin trying to mask his disappointment. She did not understand why at the time, that Sanjounin was hoping that this beautiful stranger before him has at least heard his song.
"But thank you, sir...I really appreciate your kindness," Sanjounin appreciatively said with a bow, before heading out the exit. "Maybe soon, I can drop by your shop for a good purpose!" He laughed as he spoke, looking back to take one last look at Makoto.
"Domo arigatou gozaimasu, SanjouMasa-sama!" Enzo Kakei bowed appreciatively, flattered by being patronized by a rock star's presence.
SanjouMasa-sama walked slowly away from the Enzo Kakei's shop, trying to capture every opportunity to look back at the only comely stranger who did not know about his song. Maybe something about her seemed very familiar, but if she was the very person he longed for, then she would've been easily fated to decode his song. Sanjounin still had hopes that his plan would work so for now, any stranger who beautifully resembles the princess in his dreams, would never qualify.
But it's not as if destiny could be planned based on only one person. The other party needs to respond accordingly as well. It might have been late, but Makoto, decked in the most beautiful bridal dress designed by her senpai, had once again left that shop with her hopes filled and could not wait to listen to SanjouMasa's new song.
"Konnichiwa...Kaidou-san. You have come so early."
Hisato Kaidou bowed low after reeling a little from the surprise greeting of Hikawa Jinja's main proprietor. "Of course, it's because you called on me," he politely acknowledged.
The old man smiled and bowed lower to Kaidou-san for receiving his favor. "Domo arigatou gozaimasu…" he said to Kaidou-san. "I am extremely grateful for your presence...for coming over for my granddaughter."
"It is my honor to always serve Hino-dono and his family," Kaidou-san responded.
Rei's ojii-san nodded. "I have come to ask for a personal favor," the old man immediately began. "I have set a good plan for Rei-chan so that she can avoid seeing all these upcoming announcements regarding the engagement of the Crown Princess to Asano-dono's son and then causing her much loneliness."
"Sou ka… so it has happened?"
The old man sighed heavily. "Haii… I think it is not a secret to you to know how much my granddaughter puts him in high regard."
Kaidou-san nodded with a bitter expression on his face. "I just hope that Rei-san is well."
"She has been doing better, ever since her friends came," the old man sighed heavily again. "But she is still in the worst state...one that I dread to ever see again."
Kaidou-san nodded, swallowing hard at that and decided not to say anything.
"Therefore, I want to intervene myself and coordinated a plan to send her to Ishizuchi Jinja where she can teach some aspiring miko. She can be there as long as she wants because her presence is needed, but her studies in Waseda will be discontinued for the time being."
"Haii...ojii-san," Kaidou-san softly answered. "I shall do my best in explaining this to Hino-dono."
"My personal favor is for you to tell Rei's father that this is my personal request. She can go there to gain more experience so that she can come back and be more mature in managing the shrine. This way we can give a more pragmatic reason that Hino-dono will accept rather than her just nursing a broken heart."
Kaidou-san nodded again. "I understand and I will gladly do it."
Ojii-san nodded and smiled. "Rei is not even trying to put up a strong front as she usually does. In this case, she has given up. There is no way for her to face her father or anyone in office to even mention this reason." Ojii-san then bowed low again before Kaidou-san. "Your help is greatly appreciated. I am myself indebted to you."
Kaidou-san bowed to acknowledge and waited for the old man to stand straight before smiling himself. "There will be no debts, ojii-san. I know very well that you have specifically called on me not because of my access to Hino-dono, but because you know there is nothing that I will not do for Rei-san."
This honest statement by Kaidou-san only astonished and pleased Rei's grandfather. "She is by the fire, if you wish to see her," was the old man's presumptive answer.
After Kaidou-san bowed to Rei's grandfather again, he went straight to the Sacred Fire exactly as the old man presupposed. He has never seen Rei in the worst state and was worried about how she was doing. But as Kaidou-san was preparing to remove his shoes to enter the Sanctuary, that coincided with Rei coming out of its door so that Kaidou-san was able to see Rei above the Sanctuary steps.
"Konnichiwa, Kaidou-san," she greeted with a weak smile.
Rei was dressed immaculately as ever in her miko robes, always polished from head to toe while wearing it. But her eyes glistened with a glassy film and her cheeks were still flustered - signs of previous tears.
"Konnichiwa, Rei-san. I wanted to see you before you leave for Ishizuchi Jinja."
She nodded with a genuine smile as she went down the steps to stay closer to Kaidou-san. "I should go in a few days to tell my father."
"You do not have to. I have spoken to your grandfather and we have come up with a reason enough for your father to understand. I think he will be generous to accept it, as after all, he will be busy in the coming weeks as he is inclined to reconsider the Chief Cabinet Secretary position that Asano-dono has offered him."
"Sou ka na…. domo arigatou gozaimasu, Kaidou-san," Rei replied, bowing low to Kaidou-san. "You have no idea how much your help is appreciated bec-"
"-You do not have to do that, Rei-san. I would gladly do it," Kaidou-san interrupted and gently raised her chin with his hand for her to rise until she could see him smile at her, eye to eye. "After you are finished with your mission, we will be here waiting for your return. Or if Risa-chan misses you, we shall ride on the shinkansen just to visit you at Ishizuchi Jinja."
Rei smiled as well. "The shinkansen cannot reach Hawaii… Kaidou-san," she sounded a bit embarrassed to correct him.
"Aaa…" he remarked, unable to mask his surprise. "You have to go that far, Rei-san?"
She nodded. "I have trouble forgetting," she softly answered, gracefully brushing a single tear that fell on her cheek.
Almost a year ago, the man Rei had trouble forgetting was Kaidou-san himself. Yet he found a girl who had matured and later chose to move on and have someone else eclipse her mind. Kaidou-san knew how bad Rei Hino was at forgetting that he now felt a deeper empathy to what is happening to her right now.
"I wish I can also do that for you… helping you forget," Kaidou-san could not help but say. "But then that would have been selfish."
"You are not selfish, Kaidou-san," Rei gently encouraged. "I have seen you loyally walk side by side with my father all these years and I have seen you care selflessly for Risa-chan. And now, despite everything that has happened between you and Kamui-san...you are doing this for me."
Rei gently brushed her finger on Kaidou-san's cheek, alluding to the once harshly bruised side courtesy of Kamui Asano. Kaidou-san caught that hand of hers and felt the greatest urge to speak in order to release the tension that boiled in his heart.
"Because even until now, there is nothing of myself that I can withhold from you," he replied bitterly, still holding her hand to his cheek.
Rei did wish that there was something of her that he could give to him. Despite Kaidou-san's competition with Kamui, Kaidou-san's presence was always welcome. Kaidou-san always represented faithfulness and security, the one person she counted on despite her father.
So Rei Hino was unable to answer for awhile. Her mouth tried to mutter empty syllables for a few moments trying to compose a word and when she was able to remove her hand free from his grasp, she could only smile at Kaidou-san for his intentions. It was a very sincere smile, and one borne out of sympathy.
Tomodachi. Kaidou-san knew in his heart that this was the only thing she wanted to tell him, but it was better left unuttered despite Kaidou-san's bitter acceptance.
"Kindred spirits," Kaidou-san muttered softly.
"I prefer for us to be kindred spirits instead of just friends, Rei-san," he told her, echoing the phrase she used six years ago after realizing that they were of the same thought.
Rei nodded, appreciating it greatly. "Kindred spirits," she repeated softly to agree.
"We both seem to be stubborn...we do not give up. Even I will not rest until I have done everything to return you back to your old self. Maybe even deliver Asano-san to you if that's what it takes." Kaidou-san chuckled after that, only because he knew he was not good at making jokes to change the subject.
"Deliver Asano-san? There are limits, even to your control," Rei remarked, laughing a little herself.
"But we still do not give up. You will not give up, won't you...Rei-san?"
She thought that he was still in the midst of joking but instead, Rei nodded, seeing the now serious look on Kaidou-san's face that immediately touched her, and just in time for the breeze to blow past her face. The breeze only induced the inevitable, for the tears she controlled were now released by the sting of this wind.
"You must allow me to thank you, Kaidou-san…." she told him, while uncomfortably feeling a single tear run down her cheek. "Just like before, your presence is a great comfort. I only wish that the time had been different, and then…."
More tears flowed but those were not for him. Those were for Kamui Asano. Yet for all they are, Hisato Kaidou found himself to be completely unprepared to be devastated upon seeing them, that he could not resist but run closer to Rei Hino's side and swipe her entire body unto his embrace.
"It is enough, Rei-san…." Kaidou-san whispered. " One tear is enough. Whatever it takes…I will not allow it. "
It was a comfortable silence, a very easy peace that Kaidou-san left with Rei. He wished to linger a little more, debating in his head to take advantage of that opportunity of discarding his own rival in her presence. The accident that Kamui Asano experienced was supposed to be Hisato Kaidou's biggest opportunity. But the part of him vowing to be unselfish had a bigger voice so that when Kaidou-san bid Rei goodbye, he was very sure that he would be on that path to make that voice win.
Sangatsu. Tsuitachi. (March 1)
"Are you leaving soon… Aino-san?"
Minako froze midway in arranging the scarf around her neck as though time stops every minute that Kenta Maeda mentions her name. Or even remotely talks to her. (This has actually been a problem on the first two days of practice that Kenta Maeda got on board because Minako was in complete disbelief and awe that he was back on the play. It caused a lot of problems with director Takei-sensei screaming at her to get it right.)
"A-anooo…. I-I am… s-someone's waiting f-for me," Minako stammered at the simple question and shook her head many times to get out of that manic trance. She knows she can still carry a conversation despite the supreme hotness of Kenta Maeda standing in front of her!
"Aah…" said Kenta. He was really disappointed. "I was just talking to Takei-sensei to make some minor changes to your character."
"Minor changes?" MInako asked sounding completely surprised.
Kenta Maeda nodded. "I think your character sounds a little too dramatic and serious. I made her so that she would at least sound more cheerful and friendly, and with a few flaws. This way, she'd be perfect for me."
That sounded a little bit like what Minako wanted to hear. "P-Perfect for you, Kenta-san?"
"Yes… for my character."
"Sou…" Minako said with a sigh.
"Is there anything wrong?"
Baka….what did I say? Minako was still stuck in daydreaming, thinking that Kenta could be referring to her so she painfully thought of a quick excuse at the moment. "Well, just a little bit, Kenta-san," she began to say with a grin. "Well, there's nobody that's perfect for you. I mean, your character…. or for anybody."
Kenta's forehead crinkled in disappointment so he was silent and waited for Minako to continue her explanation.
"What I mean is that art just mirrors life. We're playing a story that everybody can relate to. And nobody has found a person in this world that's perfect for them. I mean…" Minako coughed. "...have you?"
The crinkle in Kenta's forehead deepened and then disappeared as he now had a good thought regarding Minako's question. "I was told…" Kenta answered seriously. "...that she has been found."
That just struck a huge cord with Minako, as if she had been doused with water as cool as ice. "Sou…" she remarked without breathing.
"I am sorry to disappoint you...Takei-sensei has approved these minor changes," Kenta continued to speak without noticing Minako's frozen state. "It's just that I thought that putting in a few small changes would suit your personality that you would naturally flow in it with me. I now feel ashamed for not consulting you."
"Daijoubu… Kenta-san," Minako assured in a soft voice. "I trust your judgment."
"Arigatou," he thanked with an appreciative smile and took a few moments arguing in his mind if he should give in to his curiosity but ended up asking anyway. "What about you, Aino-san?"
Kenta nodded. "Have you found a person that's perfect for you?"
Has she? She was just standing in front of the hotly reincarnated version of the shittenou she once loved. "I guess I am still searching for him." It was not a lie. Kunzite was still lost that he has not remembered her.
"I understand," Kenta replied. He was good at keeping a steady disposition despite that inescapable jolt of excitement that he could not understand. "Ja mata, Aino-san."
It was the first personal discussion with Kenta Maeda since the last battle with Elis and he had lost part of his memories. And it was actually heartbreaking. Of all the things she learned, it was that Kenta-san seems to have moved on and found the perfect woman. She felt so let down that Minako's scarf remained undone even after Kenta left and she was now meeting Rei outside of the theater. When Minako saw Rei, she gave her the biggest smile as she had been successful in pulling Rei out of seclusion in Hikawa Jinja.
"Rei-chan! I'm so glad that you have come! Are you ready to go shopping?"
"Unn…" Rei nodded, looking apprehensively at Minako as they started walking. "What is wrong, Minako-chan?"
"Eh? Nothing wrong!"
"Wakatta...it is hard that maybe…Kenta-san has not remembered yet?"
There was now a lag in Minako's stride. She guessed that Rei probably saw the pain in her smile, yet for Rei's sake, she kept it on. "Daijoubu, Rei-chan! You should not be reminded of these things! It's time for us to just enjoy the day!"
Rei exhaled a heavy mist in the air and continued to drag on with Minako's slow pace. "Maybe I am different than most people. There will be a day that Kamui gets married to Suzaku-sama and then I will have to clear my mind completely of him. But for now...even though it hurts, I don't want to forget him."
Minako's smile faded and she blew the same heavy mist. "They were good memories, Rei-chan," Minako comforted, smiling weakly.
"Which is why I understand if you are still holding on to him...to Kenta-san," Rei said gently with her turn to smile weakly at Minako.
It took awhile before Minako could answer because she felt uneasy to discuss such a sensitive topic to Rei but with what was just said, it did seem that Rei was already on the verge of recovering, or at least of coping. "Kenta-san may have already chosen someone else," Minako replied weakly. "And I guess I too wasn't counting on it…and I have consulted a good omi-ai to find someone else for me."
"Hontou? I really thought that you were always the one who's optimistic about this."
"I learned it just now… right before I came out to meet you. And somehow, he had told me that there was someone else…."
"Are you sure, Minako-chan?"
Minako nodded with a heavy sigh.
"Did he…" Rei paused for a moment to swallow hard before she could ask. "...did he tell you that he has decided to move on?"
"Unn…" Rei nodded. "Then you should not give up yet, Minako."
Rei continued to walk slowly dragging her steps, leaving Minako as she stopped to ponder at Rei's words. So that was it-a completely understandable and valid reason as to why Rei chose to remain in seclusion. What hard words for Kamui to say. Yet despite all that, Rei thought that it was worth it for Minako not to give up.
After all, even if Kenta thought he has found his perfect woman, he had found her without his memories. If he had all of them back, including the ones of him in his very far past, the ones of him sharing something with her, there was still a chance. And for someone like Minako, a glimmer of hope is all she needed to return to her bubbly self.
"Rei-chan!" Minako called out excitedly, jogging to catch up with Rei. "There is a new place at Omotesando that we should try out before we go shopping."
Minako bumped hips with Rei as she linked their arms together. "I'm going to treat you to the tasty Omurice!" she announced cheerfully.
Rei was only pleased to see the glow back in Minako's eyes and everything about her smiling for real. "Yoshi! It's not everyday I get treated in Ometesando by Minako-chan!"
"Of course!" Minako smiled. "Arigatou, Rei-chan...for believing. I'm not giving up…for all of us! It will just be a matter of time before everything gets back in place."
Rei nodded and smiled at Minako. Inside of her, doubts flooded her thoughts that Minako's words would come true. But Minako was grinning from ear to ear after all that encouragement. It was at least a good indication that one of them would carry enough courage to believe that anything is possible.
Sangatsu. Itsuka. (March 5)
"Oi...Kamui…this is a neat office you have."
With his jaw propped open, Kamui still managed to pull Nishida's sleeve before the latter could prop a step out the door.
"They insisted to see your office. And there is no other place available for you guys to talk," Nishida sternly replied as he gently pulled from Kamui's grasp on his sleeve. Kamui was not successful to grab onto his valet any longer as Nishida swiftly closed the door between them, hoping for this instant move of providence that one of his friends would at least put some sense back into his young master since they were all part of his accident.
Nishida was referring to Kamui's famous friends, who all used to hang out at the Asano residence and not in Kamui's place of work. Kamui had only asked Kenta to come and see him in relation to some of Kenta's "dreams" and memories in order to get some final advice before he is to embark on his engagement, as Kamui now remembers Kenta to be more rational than Sanjounin. Of course, Kamui needed rational and logical advice which is why he never thought of asking Soujirou. But all of them were at "his" office now.
"You didn't say that your office was this big," Sanjounin said, marveling at the surroundings.
Kamui huffed and went straight to the huge desk and sat on the sofa opposite it where Kenta sat on the other end. "Because I do not have an office. I share a desk along with my father's staff outside," he told them.
"Unbelievable…" Sanjounin casually remarked, happily rocking the huge chair where he sat opposite Kamui and Kenta. "This is the prime minister's office!"
"And you are sitting on the prime minister's chair!" Soujirou exclaimed with a gasp. "How does it feel like?"
"Powerful!" Sanjounin said in a booming voice in English and with a proud grin on his face.
"I think we should go to another place to meet then, Kamui?" Kenta asked uneasily.
"Asano-dono wouldn't mind!" Sanjounin said confidently while rocking Asano-dono's chair. "He is the coolest of all prime ministers and it's not like we are strangers to him."
"Eeto… it is all right. My father is in a closed-door meeting with some of his cabinet appointees," Kamui said with his head bowed. Sanjounin was right. His father wouldn't mind him meeting his friends even in the prime minister's office at all. What Kamui was worried about was Sanjounin, who in his past and present life, managed to see through his thoughts and feelings, and who could risk seeing that he had already remembered everything. But it would be more obvious to act strange in front of Sanjounin.
"This would only be short as I have another meeting, Kenta-kun," Kamui stated his alibi instead. It is the truth though. He was to be in another meeting with Hino-dono to get his answer on reconsidering his father's appointment but that won't be in another two hours.
"Good...I have brought them here for us to hear your side of the story," Kenta explained in a very serious and business-like tone, as if affected by the place.
"I have the dream of Elis...and Endymion, our prince…." Kamui announced immediately.
"Masaka...so it is real…." Sanjounin remarked excitedly, sitting straight in his chair to listen.
"It is real! That's what I keep telling you!" Soujirou interjected. "He is the common thing that links us and I am sure that he is the cause of our accident!"
"Then how come you cannot tell us exactly how we have lost part of our memories, Soujirou-kun?" asked Sanjounin.
"Because there were so many memories, including that of my past life. The life I led in another lifetime as a ruler of a kingdom on Earth…. you are all going to laugh again," Soujirou discontinued his speech as he waited with a frown for the jokes to be thrown at him.
"Kamui has the same dreams as we all do now, Soujirou-kun. It is not a joke," Sanjounin assured seriously.
"I am relieved...as I was saying," Soujirou continued. "There is this other lifetime and the lifetime now. Too many memories. Even the ones I remember and the ones I do not remember come to me as though I was struck with lightning many times. I could feel them all happening as though I was in it...but it would take me awhile to understand which ones belong to the past and to the present."
"Which would explain why Soujirou cannot remember the exact events yet….and tell us." Kenta sounded disappointed.
"But the final battle with Elis caused us some of our memories, especially the last few months...the parts that deal with the senshi," Soujirou told them.
"Senshi?" Sanjounin repeated to ask, but his face showed a smile. "Unbelievable, Soujirou! That is part of my song… Dream Destiny! She battled with me...this mysterious senshi… yet she is who I am looking for! Don't you remember my senshi, Soujirou?"
Soujirou shook his head. "We all had individual battles and I was only in my own battle so I cannot remember yours."
"Damn...I thought that with your remembrance, we'd be so close," Sanjounin replied in disappointment. "Morie-san has booked an initial concert for me at Tokyo Dome in the next two weeks and nobody has accurately decoded my song!"
Kenta shrugged and stood up, sighing. "Aside from Soujirou, we are all not close to regaining our lost memories. At least now with Kamui's dream, we are at least sure that we know the reason for our accident."
By this time, Kamui was still resting his elbows on his knees with his head bowed as he sat. The conversation was making him antsy. This was not the justification for the decision he was about to make.
"Why do we need to regain it? Can't we just move forward?" Kamui asked, trying to mask his despair.
"What are you saying, Kamui?" Sanjounin asked in disbelief. "For once, I would love to be in the same boat as Soujirou! Why wouldn't you?"
"Our past lives clearly do not define us, Sanjou-kun," Kamui tried his best to explain calmly. "We are not the same people as we are in our past lives. We have made a different life for ourselves here in this life. You can clearly see that we are in the office of the prime minister himself, and I am his only son. I am not one of the kings under a prince of Earth anymore! Why can't we move forward with the good fortune we have in this life rather than try to remember the past?"
Sanjounin and Kenta fell silent at the point Kamui presented. They took a moment to ask themselves why it was necessary for them to remember when Kamui was indeed right that the present life they lead now is more important for their future. They took more moments to justify the reason and found none but an aching desire to satiate their curiosity and longing, especially for their senshi and prince. It was an illogical reason so they dared not tell each other.
But Soujirou was silent for a long time for a different reason. He too was recalling Kamui's words to heart but not to provide a rebuttal for its meaning. "Kamui-kun…" Soujirou hesitantly began. "I have never mentioned it before and it was not until this point that I knew… that we are actually kings under a prince of Earth."
"Soujirou-kun, we all dreamt that we are under a prince and we are all searching for him," Kamui said nervously.
"Hai...but I did not really tell you that in the past, we were actually kings…"
Sanjounin and Kenta looked deep at Kamui after hearing those words from Soujirou.
"Kamui-kun...does this mean that you remember?" Kenta beat Sanjounin into asking, setting Kamui's insides into alarm.
"Kamui...if you can remember, do not hide it from us," Sanjounin pleaded. "At least, let me know if you remember any little memory about my senshi."
Despite the penetrating gazes and the alarm inside of him, Kamui learned early in life how to dodge through a hard question through living vicariously in his father's shadow.
With the signature Asano smirk, Kamui answered with a simple, "No," leading to disappointed sighs from everyone, including Soujirou.
"I wish I knew...and then my dilemma would've ended," Kamui added with everyone not noticing how he gulped with that reply. In the political world, the Asanos were masters at bluff, but telling a lie was not something that Kamui was proud of. In his hardest days with politicians, he always conquered the urge to do it even if it merited the necessity. That was not so in this case.
"Then Kamui, does that mean that you would like to go on with your engagement to the Crown Princess despite not remembering many things about her?" Sanjounin asked, sounding completely concerned.
Kamui nodded. "As I said, why shouldn't we go on with the good fortune that we have in this life?" He was still bluffing.
Sanjounin and Kenta nodded to acknowledge and proceeded with their silence, as they have not yet found a good way to justify their continued search for their senshi and prince out loud.
"Yoshi… I have a meeting to attend to then," Kamui announced as he stood, looking at his watch. It was still an hour to go before his meeting with Hino-dono but bid his leave politely with his friends with the two of them still completely silent with their last thought.
It would seem that Kamui was successful in drowning out the emotions from that conversation. Even Sanjounin who felt compelled to say something to him could not argue with Kamui's elegant logic. Kamui's success would've been better if when he stepped out the door, there was no one to put some more reason into him. Soujirou was swift enough to grab a hold of Kamui's sleeve as he stepped into that corridor on the way to Hino-dono's office.
"If you can do everything in your power to regain the memories you have lost, you should do it, Kamui," Soujirou wholeheartedly said to him. "There is no sensible reason. Just the smallest chance that there may be something in that small part of your past that is worth it. I cannot completely remember the rest about you during that time, but I am sure that there is something there that you would not regret."
Of course, Kamui needed rational and logical advice which is why he never thought of asking Soujirou. The answer came anyway. Soujirou left without waiting for Kamui to answer. The former expected that he would be laughed at anyway. Although Kamui didn't, he still carried on to Hino-dono's office with his head held high dismissing Soujirou's statement because it lacked the necessary justification he was waiting for that day.
But he was unaware that this was only a foreshadowing of more of his guilt to haunt him.
One hour early into the meeting with Hino-dono, Ono-san pleasantly greeted that he would now be allowed into Hino-dono's office despite his extraordinary punctuality. At first, Kamui thought nothing of it. Hino-dono was probably impressed with him being there early and was already keen on reconsidering the proposal of his father to have Hino-dono appointed as Chief Cabinet Secretary.
Kamui couldn't have been more wrong in predicting that he would have a very productive and speedy meeting when he saw Kaidou-san leaning on his back on the front of Hino-dono's desk. There was no one else in the room except for the one he recognized completely as his rival.
"Konnichiwa, Asano-san," Kaidou-san greeted with a bow.
"Konnichiwa, Kaidou-san," Kamui replied, uneasily standing where he was. "Where is Hino-dono?"
"He has given me the liberty to preside over this," Kaidou-san mentioned confidently. "Therefore, I will go through this meeting with you on his behalf."
"Very well, Kaidou-san," Kamui said, offering the leather folder containing his father's proposal to Kaidou-san. "Kindly proceed at your own convenience." (Kamui was exceedingly polite despite meeting Kaidou-san as this involved a high level of agenda on behalf of his father, the prime minister.)
Kaidou-san took the leather folder with both hands and gave a short bow to acknowledge. "Before anything else, I would like to discuss another proposal," he said, while officially holding on to the proposal.
"What is it, Kaidou-san?"
"Regarding my supposed proposal to Hino-dono's daughter."
It was a complete surprise for that topic to be mentioned in an official meeting but just the same, Kamui held his breath before replying further.
"It is true that I have previously asked Hino-dono for his permission to marry his daughter. But his recent announcement about our engagement was made in error."
Hearing this cause Kamui to freeze. The justification he was waiting for can't seem to come to him when he direly requested it. Probably more proof of his loss where he was not even in a position to admit that he made the wrong decision.
And to add more insult to injury. Kaidou-san continued to tell him, "I am not engaged to Hino Rei-san."
- tsuzuku -
Remember, Kamui = Jadeite. Kenta = Kunzite. Soujirou = Zoicite. Sanjounin = Nephrite. Just a little reminder. ;) Some people have told me that they could not foresee Rei to just be 'giving up' everything just to be a politician's wife for Kamui. But don't forget the Casablanca Memories episode in the manga where in the scene that she pulled Kaidou-san for a kiss, she said, "If you want to be my father's successor, all you have to do is marry me." So there you have it. Besides, you all know our Rei, even in the manga. She's too passionate in her work in the shrine to just give it up like that. In love, these are not necessarily sacrifices. Marriage in the real world requires some adjustments. If you love someone, that's just one of things you have to do. In the manga, Rei was willing to for that reason so I made her up in the same vein. By the way, I'm still writing a few more chapters. That's right… just a few more. We're near the end, folks! And I hope to finish this very soon. I'm not leaving out Kaidou-san, as you can see in this chapter. Let's see how this will end.