BREATHE IN NOW
AN: Ok guys, this is an Alternate Reality story. There will be no Sailor Moon, no cats and no aliens. It is rated R for a reason. There will be mild sex scenes, coarse language and alcohol consumption. You have been warned.
A few of you may remember this story from several years ago. My sister was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and passed away in October of 2006. Quite simply, I couldn't even put one word to paper until October last year, just before her anniversary. I think my sister is giving me a little nudge. So I've come back to this story because I hate to leave things unfinished. However, when I read through it I was embarrassed by how bad it was. So it has undergone a major overhaul and I have done away with the Japanese text and made a few changes in plot and character perspective. For those of you who have read this story previously, you will see what I mean. Breathe In Now holds a special place for me. I really hope you like it.
DISCLAIMER: Sailor Moon belongs respectively to Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha, TOEI Animation and DIC Entertainment. Not written for monetary purposes, this is simply written in the hopes of entertaining anyone out there who decides to read it. I can thank Australian band George for my title. The song does not feature in this story but the title was perfect.
Everything was quiet except for the ringing in her ears. Usagi wondered if perhaps it might actually be the static electricity from her brain waves but then shook the thought off. 'Moron'. She pressed her fingers to the bridge of her nose and shook her head hard, the tassels on her head piece swinging with the sharp movement. The Miko, a picture of exotic refinement in red and white robes with luminous violet eyes, gazed at Usagi in what she found to be a very disconcerting fashion. Her cheeks burned, somehow certain that this girl could read every traitorous thought pounding through her head. After an uncomfortable moment the Miko shook her head and looked away.
The bubble in her ears popped without warning. Usagi gasped, reeling from the onslaught of sound, feeling like she had just resurfaced from very deep water into the middle of a rock concert. The pulse in her throat pumped with erratic vigour and her eyes were very wide, sweat breaking out on her forehead, matting her silver blonde curls to her cheeks and neck. The old Priest finished reciting from the ancient parchment laid out on the altar of the Jinja and handed the Miko a small bowl. Her movements were fluid and controlled as she bowed before handing the bowl to the couple sitting side by side before her.
Usagi had never seen her cousin so happy. She looked beautiful in her blood red silk wedding kimono and elaborate head piece, her sky blue eyes sparkling with excitement. Usagi craned her neck. Minako's left hand was clasped within his larger one, thumb caressing her palm in a small gesture that was none the less possessive. Jealousy gripped at Usagi's insides and a huge rock formed in her throat. At that moment Minako caught her eye and flashed a blinding smile. She swallowed with difficulty and tried for a smile of her own. It was a poor attempt but Minako failed to notice.
Usagi closed her eyes, hearing the old Priests voice but not understanding the words he uttered. The stirring of air beside her caused her eyes to flutter open and she pushed herself to her feet. The ceremony was over.
She walked out behind the euphoric couple, hanging back as they were engulfed by their friends and relatives. Tears sprang into Usagi's eyes and she had to turn away from the affectionate smile her ignorant mother gave her. The crowd made its gradual descent down the thousand odd steps of the Hikawa Jinja. Minako gripped Koans arm and giggled each time she slipped out of her getas. They paused for a moment to let the waiting press take a few photos before they were all ushered into the waiting cars. Usagi stared out of the dark tinted windows of the vintage Mercedes, every kiss and caress the couple shared driving the dagger deeper within her heart.
Sugai Koan's grey eyes met hers as they were seated at the large centre table of Tokyo's Crown Hotel. Usagi stared back, feeling raw and naked as the unconcealed emotions in her eyes played for him to see; unable to control herself, knowing he knew it and took great pleasure in the absoluteness of her vulnerability. The soft lighting lit his snow-white hair like a halo, his deep tan complemented by the stylish navy tuxedo he had changed into just minutes ago. He held her gaze for a moment longer before he turned away to bring a surprised Minako's face to his and crushed his lips to hers, long fingers tangling in her honey blonde hair. Usagi choked, a hand at her throat, unable to stop the strangled gasp of pain that passed her lips. She knew what that felt like.
Usagi reached for her glass of sake and swallowed it in one long gulp. She snatched Naru's glass right out of her hand, ignoring her squawk of indignation. The red haired girl gazed at her friend in consternation before shaking her head and lifting her hand to draw the attention of nearby staff. Naru eyed the handsome waiter with unconcealed hunger as he came to a stop at their table. His eyebrows shot up as Usagi grabbed three glasses from his tray. Ignoring him, she placed one in front of a gaping Naru and downed the two glasses. Her throat burned. Everything was beginning to numb now so the pain would have to stop soon, right?
People were beginning to stare. She cringed deep inside at the spectacle she was making but couldn't bring herself to stop. Naru nudged her, gesturing towards where her family was seated. Usagi's little brother Shingo was pointing right at her and her parents both swivelled in their seats. She could see their frowns of disappointment clear as day. Usagi's father pushed his chair back.
"Oh shit." She whispered.
"Usa, are you alright?" Minako's sweet voice filtered through the ever encroaching numbness. Usagi gripped the table and pushed herself to her feet. The world spun. "Usagi?" Minako moved to stand.
"I'm fine Mina," She forced her lips upwards, eyes on the rapid approach of her father. "I-I just need some fresh air."
Usagi scanned the room in desperation, trying to force back the numbness that was now blackening into a shroud of panic. Her eyes locked onto the black uniform of a waiter pushing through a set of double doors in the far corner of the room.
"Usagi?" Naru tugged on her wrist.
"I'll be back." She lied before melting into the magnitude of mingling people. Usagi dived through the double doors and into organised chaos, somehow avoiding disaster as she almost collided with a waiter about to do his next round. "Sorry!" She squealed, breathless from the intense heat and smells clogging the air. He winked and pushed past her, grip holding firm to the tray within his arms. The floor began to spin as another man dodged past her. Usagi flattened herself against the wall and closed her eyes, trying to breathe.
"Are you lost Odango Atama?"
Usagi's eyes flashed open and she found herself staring into eyes that were much too blue. She thought briefly that she could drown in eyes like that, delicious heat scouring through her body. The blue disappeared into the shadow of his ebony hair as he tilted his head, a smirk twisting lips that caught her attention and held. It was the same look Koan had worn right before telling her he was going to marry Minako. All the hurt and anger came flooding back and now Usagi only saw red. The need to lash out consumed her and she found that all she wanted to do was hurt him.
So she did.
Mamoru slammed the door of his precious BMW 335I as hard as he could, the expensive tinted glass rattling in the half open window as it connected with the frame. He felt a fleeting sense of remorse for scaring the old lady backing away from his public fit of aggression with her little trolley, but it wasn't enough to stop him from kicking viciously at a wheel.
"Son of a bitch!" He seethed, running rough fingers through his messy black hair and leaned his forehead on the lukewarm hood. He forced his eyes closed and concentrated on his breathing. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. After two goes he gave up.
Pushing back from his car Mamoru surveyed the driveway and footpath before him. His clothes, shoes, even his underwear were scattered across the cement. Heaving an angry sigh he began to collect his things, ignoring the third story window from which his just now proclaimed ex flat mate Chihiro had flung all his stuff. He knew she was watching, could feel the holes she was trying to burn into the back of his head and was thankful that she hadn't thought of any new obscenities to scream at him while their neighbours listened. He really should have known better than to hook up with her. Sex complicated everything.
Shoving his meagre belongings onto the small backseat, he sank into the comfortable leather of the driver's seat. Mamoru turned the key in the ignition, the deep hum of the powerful 6 cylinder turbocharged engine filling him with satisfaction before his foot pressed heavy on the gas pedal. Fingers tapped on the steering wheel as he waited at a traffic light, he mulled over his immediate options. The light turned green and he made a snap decision, cutting across three lanes to make the right turn. Driving too fast, Mamoru weaved in and out of traffic, cutting a Toyota off as he took a sharp turn into an apartment block car park. Deciding to leave his stuff for the moment, he locked the car and quickly took the stairs. He came to a stop at a door with the number 12 on it and rapped his fist against the wood causing the green paint to flake away.
"You look like shit." Motoki commented, standing aside to allow his best friend entry.
Mamoru brushed past him with a grunt and collapsed onto his ripped couch, his 6'4 frame not quite fitting. He twisted and put one leg up and the other foot onto the floor. "I need a drink."
Motoki clucked his tongue but complied with his friends wish and pulled two beers from his old fridge. "So," He ventured when it became clear that Mamoru was not going to volunteer any information. "What happened?"
Mamoru sighed, putting the unopened bottle on the ground below him. "Chihiro kicked me out."
"Oh," The blonde man scratched at his shaggy head, not bothering to hide his amusement. "What did you do?"
"Why do you immediately assume that I did something?" Mamoru demanded.
Motoki raised an eyebrow. "Am I wrong?"
"No," Mamoru settled back into the couch. "But you could have been."
The two men eyed each other, each accepting that Mamoru could not voice the question and Motoki was not going to force it from him. "You can stay here."
Mamoru grimaced as he glanced around the small apartment, feeling a little green. There were still unopened boxes from his move a year and half ago, along with a litany of garbage that Mamoru suspected had been there for months. Every now and then his girlfriend Ami threw a fit and threatened to have a massive cleanup but as far as he could tell, even when she did manage to get Motoki to do some house work it never stayed that way for long. He pondered his lack of options for a couple of seconds, fatigue filling his limbs. He rubbed his eyes and nodded.
"Are you still working tonight?" Motoki asked.
Mamoru groaned, flinging his arms over his face. "Yes. Sugai Michio's son is getting married this afternoon. Twelve hundred guests."
"Well," Motoki pointed at the tv. "The news update just announced that the ceremony finished about ten minutes ago. What time is the reception?"
Mamoru sat bolt upright and craned his neck back to get a look at the clock hanging at a crooked angle above Motoki's fridge. "Fuck."
He raced back out to his car, sorting through his clothes until he came across his work uniform, cursing when he realised his tie was not there. He changed in Motoki's bathroom, trying to smooth out the wrinkles of the black and red pin striped shirt as he tucked it into the black dress pants while slipping his feet into his shoes. Mamoru fixed the collar and splashed a hand full of cold water onto his face, praying he would not be penalised for the loss of the tie. He ran a harried hand through his hair, trying to smooth some of the errant cowlicks and gave a shrug as the longer strands fell straight back into his eyes.
"Later Motoki." He called, catching his friends' half hearted wave as he closed the door.
Once again, Mamoru sped through traffic, this time taking the well travelled route to his place of employment. Parking in the special 'Employees Only' section set aside for all Crown Hotel employees, he sprinted for the back entrance, flashing his ID for the security guards who took agonising moments to stare at his horrible photo before waving him inside. Mamoru cast a furtive glance to his right and left for any sign of his manager before punching his employee code into the system.
"You're late Chiba."
Mamoru peered around a set of shelves at the tall brunette filling trays with crystal wine flutes, beer mugs and sake cups. "You covered for me Mako?"
Kino Makoto's smile widened. "Of course."
He motioned for her to come closer. She leaned forward, giving him a nice view of two perfect, large breasts through the open buttons of her shirt. Mamoru grinned and leaned in until his lips just brushed her cheek. "Thank you." He felt her shudder as he pulled back, enjoying the roses blooming in her cheeks. He winked.
Mamoru handed out the first tray of drinks, realising after a quick glance at those in his immediate line of sight that the majority of Japan's political and social elite were present. His eyes snapped around the room until he located Senator Hino Nibori and swore under his breath, vowing to stay as far away from that side of the room as possible. He was in no mood for a lecture.
A hand lifted to his left, beckoning him. He made his way through the crowd and came to a stop in front of what he realised was the bridal table. Television had not done Aino Minako justice. She was all long limbs, smiles and sparkle, radiating a confidence that Mamoru should have found appealing but somehow found off putting. He met her new husband's eyes, surprised to find it was Sugai Koan lifting his champagne glass in a silent toast. So this was the woman Koan had been keeping a secret. Mamoru squinted, trying to recall the man's words from several months ago. Bendy…apparently she was very bendy.
The weight of his tray shifted and he was forced to divert his attention back to the girl in front of him. She was wearing a simple pale blue kimono with an enormous Heron embroidered into the silk but it was her hair that held his attention. Almost silver and very long, she had it tied into a very strange and somewhat ridiculous style that made her look years younger than she actually was. It looked like-
Mamoru lost his train of thought as she handed one of the drinks to the pretty red head beside her and then poured the other two down her throat. His eyebrows shot up, impressed. Those closest to her were staring, undertones of concern laced with amusement as they shared questioning looks. Another hand went up a few tables over. Mamoru cast one last glance at the little blonde before shaking his head and moving on to that table.
"Mamoru, could you take these for me?" Makoto asked, manoeuvring her tray into her workmates arms before he could protest. "Yokomiza needs help." She pointed at one of the apprentice chefs. Mamoru grimaced, repositioning the tray in his hands as he turned to go back out. That's when he saw her.
Her back was pressed into the wall, tiny fingers bunching the blue silk in her hands. Her enormous blue eyes were glazed, forehead pinched with obvious distress and her face had a slight sheen of sweat. Mamoru couldn't help but think that she looked enchanting with all that silver hair and blue silk. He walked over to her side, lips parted to ask her if she required any assistance when it struck him what her hair reminded him of. Therefore, all thoughts of chivalry were lost in that second and he abandoned that age old advice of 'think before you speak'.
"Are you lost Odango Atama?"
Her `Odangos' rolled on her head, loosening from the long day. Those enormous light blue eyes snapped up to glare at him, the alcohol adding fuel to her rage. Her face became beet red and blotchy, mouth set in a thin line, her nostrils flared. He should have been terrified but in truth, he thought she looked adorable; a kitten flexing its claws. Mamoru only had time to blink once before she hitched up her kimono, giving him a brief glance at her very nice legs before she kicked him square in his knee cap. He let out a startled gasp and folded over, the full tray of $800.00 red wine shattering all over the floor.
Christ that hurt...
"You idiot!" Usagi shrieked at the man's crumpled form, shuddering as the cool liquid continued its path down her kimono, the liquid soaking the fine silk. She could feel it inside her bra. "Look what you've done. This is a family heirloom and it's ruined!"
"Well Odango, you should have thought of that before you tried to kick my feet out from under me." He growled, face twisted with pain as he rubbed his knee.
"What?" She shouted. "You creep. This is your fault," She stomped her foot, furious. "And don't call me that!"
"Oh?" He straightened and she gulped when she realised the top of her head only just reached his shoulders. She shivered as the warm hard length of his body pushed her into the wall, his eyes dark as he looked down at her. Usagi ignored the warm feeling that spread in the pit of her stomach and lifted her chin in defiance.
"You heard me. No one insults my hair."
"You're too sensitive."
"I am not."
He threw his hands up in the air. "Then don't stick two buns on your head. What are you, twelve?"
She winced at the sting of his insult and reached a hand up to touch her hair. `He's a jerk' She told herself `I don't care what he thinks.'
"I don't have to listen to this," Usagi announced and put her hands on his chest. Shoved. He didn't move an inch. "Bloody hell, move!"
He took a step back and she once again looked down at herself, biting hard into her lip to keep from wailing. Her great grandmother's kimono was ruined.
"Do you realise that you've just made me spill about $800.00 worth of red wine all over the floor?" He folded his arms and leaned one shoulder against the wall. He was far too relaxed and she decided right then that she hated him.
"Really?" She asked, nibbling at a fingernail. Father was going to kill her. The haze of alcohol was impeding her thought process, making it hard to think of what she should do.
A beautiful woman appeared through the doors and paused to take the situation in. She slipped through a side door and reappeared a moment later with a hazard kit. "Here you go Mamoru," She eyed the blonde with open curiosity. "Is that-" She began.
"Don't ask." Mamoru grumbled, beginning to sweep up the mess.
"Hello. I'm Kino Makoto," She smiled at Usagi, running her fingers through the length of her thick mahogany ponytail. "Some wedding huh?"
"I suppose," Usagi froze as her stomach lurched. "Sorry but I-" She clamped her hands over her mouth and bolted for the door, bursting out into the frigid autumn air. She had about two seconds before her stomach lurched again and she was bent over double, emptying what looked like everything she had consumed that week from her stomach. Her skin burned once again and she felt very dizzy.
Usagi was only vaguely aware when large hands took the load of her hair but could not be grateful. While the humiliation burned it was not the worst moment of her life.
The long silky mass of her silver blonde curls were wound within his hands; loose strands moving in the cool evening breeze as his fingers brushed the soft skin of her neck, trying to keep her face clear. She shivered a little as her heaving stopped and she slumped back into his chest. Mamoru's gaze fell from a spot over the top of her head to the exposed skin just behind her ear. He watched, fascinated, as the almost indecipherable acceleration of her heart beat thumped against the delicate skin. He wanted to press his lips to that spot ever so gently... 'Ok Chiba, you've lost it'. He dropped her hair and took a giant step back.
"Are you ok?" He demanded, embarrassed by the breathy quality of his voice. She nodded once and wiped her nose on her sleeve. Her eyes were watery when she looked up at him. Mamoru's heart lurched. "Odango-"
"Oh it's a disaster." She moaned, beginning to sink to the cement. He grabbed her, stopping her from collapsing in her own vomit. He made sure she was settled against the wall of the building before he ducked back inside and grabbed a glass of water. Keeping some distance between them, Mamoru mimicked her by pulling his legs up towards his chest and handed her the glass.
"Thanks." She swished the water around in her mouth and spat it out. A blush tinted her cheeks as she wiped her mouth on her other sleeve.
Mamoru leaned his head back against the brick wall, keeping his eyes forward. "Are you ok?" He repeated, feeling uncomfortable.
"Yeah," She leaned her head back against the wall as well, pulling her hair around herself. "No," She said after a long moment of silence. "No, I'm not."
The tears came for real then. Mamoru watched in alarm as her face turned red, quiet sobs wracking her tiny frame and had the very real urge to bolt. He eyed the girl, angry with her for putting him in this unbelievably uncomfortable position. Little sobs filled the space around them. He took a deep breath before dragging himself closer and slid a reluctant arm around her quivering shoulders, patting her awkwardly. She twisted into his side, burying her face in his shirt. Mamoru glared down at the top of her head, the subtle hint of her coconut conditioner wafting up his nostrils. He could feel her breasts through the thick fabric of her clothes as she pressed up against him. Usagi shifted a little and before he could move she'd lifted one hand to his face and closed the distance to press her lips against his.
A tiny voice in the back of Mamoru's head was telling him that he should pull back, that this was a very, very bad idea but then her lips parted and her tongue slid across his bottom lip. His anger was simmering now, hands sliding into her glorious hair, soft as baby duck down but he didn't handle it as he should have, yanking her head to the side for better access to her mouth. She gasped in pain but the sound was muffled as he began to kiss her with force, no trace of the gentleness he knew should have been there. He was just so angry! He wanted to punish her, for what he didn't know, but she wasn't pushing him away like she should have been and that only made him feel worse. Maybe it was the alcohol but she wasn't hesitant in her movements, no trace of shyness in the way she was touching his body. And damn it all to hell but she felt incredible.
It was the scandalised pitch of her name that had Mamoru pulling away from the girl in question, mortified to find that she'd squirmed herself into his lap. The pretty red head loomed over them, hands on her hips. She levelled him with a glare that spoke volumes as to just how much she'd witnessed before kneeling before them both to grab her blonde friend by the shoulders.
"Usagi," She shook her hard. "Usagi, your father is looking for you."
Usagi flung her arms around the girl, pushing her backward so that they fell into a heap. "Oh Naru," She cried. "I'm so sorry."
Naru floundered under the dead weight of the smaller girl. "A little help?" She demanded, glaring at Mamoru. He glared back before pushing his reluctant body up and grabbed one of Usagi's elbows, heaving her to her feet. He pulled with a little too much force, however, because she flew straight into him, chin jutting into his sternum. He grunted in pain. Her hair was caressing his hands again, causing tiny trills to skirt up his spine. God what was wrong with him?
It was, of course, at that point that her father found her. Mamoru could see the exact moment that he put the situation into context because his skin turned an unhealthy shade of purple. Profanity's slid through his clenched teeth as he began to stalk towards them. Usagi whimpered and buried herself into Mamoru's body, seeking protection. Mamoru glanced once more at her furious father; measured his sudden odd attraction against his own angry will to throttle the girl and decided it wasn't worth it. He shoved her away.
She gasped in outrage at the betrayal and then did something unexpected. She stuck her finger up at him. It was so out of place with her cherubic face that his anger melted like butter left in the sun and a huge grin spread across his face. Mamoru winked and spun on his heel, long legs helping him to make a quick escape.
"Son don't you walk away from me," Her father demanded, furious. Mamoru quickened his pace, reaching into his pocket for his keys. "Hey! I said-"
Mamoru swung around to face the older man. "With all due respect sir, your lack of control over your daughter has nothing to do with me."
The man's skin darkened to a very alarming shade of blue but Mamoru had already turned away, thus missing him clutch at his chest, face twisting in pain. Juggling his keys, Mamoru tried to block out the shouting behind him.
He heaved a sigh as he climbed into his car, glancing once more at the little group. Her father had her by the arm and was dragging her back into the hotel, gesturing at the perplexed security guards who were just returning from their break. Mamoru frowned, not sure that he approved of the harsh way the man was handling his daughter but then shook his head. He'd never see the girl again anyway. It wasn't his problem.
AN: Please Review