BREATHE IN NOW
AN: All I can say is 'Finally!'. I hit an impasse with this chapter, mostly because I had no idea where the story was going. I can't tell you how many times I've sat down to write and been unable to type a single word. Thankfully, for the moment, the flood gates have opened and words and ideas have come. So please enjoy this long awaited chapter and let me know what you think. Feedback definitely helps!
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.
Usagi folded her arms, pulling the sleeves of her oversized white hoody over her hands to ward off the chill in the air. Her limbs were filled with a heavy lethargy, her head tender due to a rather nasty bump she seemed to have acquired the night before. A pounding migraine had threatened the moment she'd dared to open her eyes, causing her to be sick twice before crawling into the shower where she had stayed in the dark until the hot water had run out and Motoki began pounding on the door.
Now loaded up with paracetamol, she was unable to answer the majority of the rapidly fired questions her brother spat at her as he waved his hands in the air and ranted about betrayal and trust. He seemed unable to believe she had deliberately disobeyed him (she had to wonder if he'd always been this naive). Then he'd spied the hickeys on her neck. He didn't yell or swear; just looked at her with a profound expression of disgust. One look from him was worse than any more words he could have said.
"We've found a new place." Motoki scrubbed at his face, exhausted.
"That's great." And it was. However, Usagi found she couldn't inject any of the enthusiasm she would have otherwise felt at another time.
Motoki eyed her for a moment, lips pressed into a thin line. "We signed the contract this morning but I thought you'd like to see it now."
She forced a smile onto her chapped lips. "That sounds great."
Usagi tilted her head backwards to face the black clouds pressing down from above, their heavy weight creating a feeling of great oppression as she followed her brother across the parking lot, shivering as a huge gust of wind tore through her clothes, chilling her to the core. Motoki leant across to unlock her door. Grateful to escape the wind, she climbed into his old powder blue Mazda Cosmo and shut the door. She fiddled with the heater as he started the engine.
"Oh fucking great." Motoki groaned and slumped forward across his steering wheel, arms folding under his face. He was forced to lift his head when fingers tapped at his window. Making no effort to hide the fierce scowl shadowing his handsome face, Motoki wound his window down, the cabin of the little car filling with cold air again. A man rested his elbows on the open windowsill as Motoki leaned back into his chair. Usagi couldn't help the little gasp that escaped as she took in his face. The differences were there in the longer length of his hair and the deep frown lines around his mouth but when his grey eyes flicked her way she realised the major differences were on the inside. So much anger…
Fingers curled tight around the steering wheel, blood fleeing from his knuckles. "What are you doing back here Chiba?"
"I'm looking for Mamoru."
"He's not here."
Chiba Nori shoved an impatient hand through his hair as the wind blew, tucking it back behind his ear. "You can't tell me where he is?"
"I'll tell him you came by."
Nori didn't respond, tilting his head to study the other man. A small downward pull of his mouth was the only outward sign of emotion. "It's rather important that I speak to him."
"And I said I'd tell him you were here." Motoki snapped.
"Is there a number Mamoru could reach you on?" Usagi asked, head aching from the circles the two were spinning around each other.
Nori looked at her for the first time. She found herself shrinking away from his gaze, even as she firmed her chin and returned the look. He raised one eyebrow, an expression she had seen on Mamoru often. Somehow, this unsettled her further and she had to look away.
Mamoru's twin leaned back from the car to dig into one of the back pockets of his jeans. The hem of his black hoody was lifted as he moved and Usagi glimpsed a deep scar above the band of his jeans on his left hip. A lump grew in her throat as her mind went through all of the possible ways he could have gotten a scar like that. She didn't like what she was coming up with. Nori rested on the window sill once more, stretching one arm out to her with a piece of paper clutched between two fingers.
"I'll make sure he gets it." Usagi assured him, slipping the paper into the pocket of her navy blue track pants. Motoki put the car back into gear.
"You know Furuhata," Nori scratched at his neck, refusing to let go of the side of the car. "I thought you'd be over it by now."
Dark shadows flew across Motoki's face, the tendons in his neck flexing as he swallowed. "Well, you thought wrong."
"Far as I heard, you have a new woman now."
"You heard right."
"Then why-" Grey eyes met Usagi's for a split second. "-haven't you let it go? Mamoru forgave me months ago."
"Mamoru's a soft touch." Motoki muttered. He visibly pulled himself together, straightening his shoulders. "I don't like you," He shrugged. "You come and screw with Mamoru's life and then leave. He puts up with it but I don't have that problem; you're not my brother. Now get the fuck away from my car," He glanced at Usagi, an obvious after thought. "And stay away from my sister."
Nori seemed to enjoy Motoki's outburst, a small smirk playing on his handsome face as he stepped away from the Mazda. Without a word, he turned his back on them both, shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his scuffed jeans. Broad shoulders hunkered against the cold as he dashed across the street, disappearing from sight.
Usagi sank low into her seat, afraid to look at her brother as he manoeuvred through traffic. He was a terrible driver (made all the worse by his obvious distraction), crunching the gears more than once and seeming to brake at all the wrong times as they went through corners. She clutched at the door handle, closing her eyes to try and control the persistent urge to be sick.
Motoki eased his car into a tight space across the street from their new apartment building. Usagi followed silently behind her brother as he led them through the lobby and into the elevator. She watched the numbers clock over as they rose through the floors, eyebrows raised a little when they finally stopped on the fourteenth floor.
"There are nineteen floors." Motoki explained as he slid the key into the lock. "There are two apartments on each floor. But the best part-" He opened the door marked 14A. "Is that we've got ocean views."
Hard wood floors covered the expanse of the open planned living area, the room bathed in gloomy light from the enormous windows that led to the generous balcony looking out to the bay. She wanted to step outside but at that moment the clouds began to empty their load of fat raindrops, pelting the tiled area. She ventured into the kitchen and decided it was a little on the small side but that it wouldn't matter because Ami was the only one of them that could cook.
Her brother led her down the hallway, pointing out the bedrooms. She was adamant that Motoki should take the master bedroom, equipped with double walk in robes and sunken tub, and they argued for several minutes before he relented. Mamoru and Usagi's rooms were smaller but still sufficient and also had walk in robes, though they would have to share a bathroom.
"I love it." Usagi declared, spreading her palms out on the granite kitchen counter. "When do we move in?"
His keys jingled as he moved his hands around inside his pockets. "Two days. We're a little further away from your school here so we'll have to take turns driving you...or I suppose you might catch the bus," Motoki paused, brows furrowed. "But we'll sort that out later."
The temperature had dropped when they stepped back outside and Usagi found the jumper she wore was ill equipped to ward of the blustering wind brought in from the ocean, carrying the rain under the cover they stopped under. Wrapping her arms around herself, she prepared to make the dash across the street but Motoki's hand on her arm stopped her.
"Listen Usa, there's something I need to do," He pulled some notes from his pocket, shoving them into her hand. "Call Mamoru and he'll come and get you. Tell him Nori's back in town."
"What?" Usagi stared at him in confusion, certain that he wasn't serious. "Motoki, you can't leave me here. It's freezing!"
"I'm sorry," He repeated. "I've got to see Reika, it's important," He stepped out into the rain. "Call Mamoru."
Usagi watched with horror as Motoki drove away, unable to understand what could possibly be so urgent that she had been left to freeze to death in an unknown part of town.
"Bastard," She whispered, breath misting in the chilled air. "Shit!"
She dug her slim purple flip phone from her pocket and found Mamoru's number in her contacts. She stared up and down the street, shivering as she waited for Mamoru to pick up. It continued to ring until the recorded voice informed her that the person she was trying to call was unavailable. Frustration building, she ended the call and redialled the number. As she listened to the unanswered ring tone once more, she cursed her brother, Mamoru and all men in general.
For the first time in weeks, Usagi wished she were home.
Mamoru leant back on his elbows, face tilted upwards to the heavy laden sky as the wind picked up, rustling his hair about his head. Two drops hit his face but he remained where he was, shifting a little to look at his watch. A frustrated hiss passed through his lips but he pushed himself back into a sitting position. Rei continued to move her broom back and forth, long hair swept from her shoulder by the wind to hide her face. She shoved at it impatiently.
"I'm not leaving." He re-affirmed, tone mild. He just barely dodged the broom that took a sudden swipe at his head.
"Look," Rei placed one hand on her hip. "I didn't know she was going to be there."
"I'm not Mako." She quipped smartly, blowing a raspberry at her brother.
Mamoru resisted the urge to roll his eyes, pushing himself to his feet. "Not good enough. What were you even doing at a club Rei? Nibori is going to flip if the media gets wind of this."
Rei shrugged. "I've never cared before," She eyed him, "And neither have you."
"We're getting off track," Mamoru insisted. "I need you to keep an eye on Usagi for me. She's-" He paused, trying to choose his words carefully. "I think she's a little, ah, unstable."
Rei let out a frustrated hiss, as the wind blew through the pile of leaves she'd just gathered and scattered them across the pavement. She clutched her broom, counted to ten in her head and began the task again. "I don't get it." She finally said.
"I think she's got a drinking problem," He began. "And-"
"No," Rei interrupted. "I don't get why you're here telling me this. Why do you care?"
"None of your business," Rei's amethyst eyes flared with anger. He winced, knowing he'd just blown it. "Are you going to help me or not?"
"Not." She levelled him with a glare, sniffed and then spun on her heel, abandoning the small pile of leaves to the whim of the wind. Mamoru debated going after her but decided against it, knowing their conversation had already deteriorated past the point of gaining anything constructive. Besides, she still had the broom in her hand.
"Is she pretty?"
Mamoru jumped, though he should have known the old man was lurking somewhere close. "Who Grandpa?"
"Don't play coy with me boy, it makes you appear a tad daft."Grandpa scolded, waving one stubby finger in the air. Mamoru flushed. "This girl you want to save-"
"I wouldn't say save-"
"-is she pretty?" Grandpa finished.
"I'm not trying to save her Grandpa, just keep her out of trouble until she goes back home." Mamoru insisted. The old man raised one bushy brow. "Yes," He relented, not quite sure why he felt so reluctant to say the words out loud. "She's very pretty."
"Good," His eyes seemed to light up with a peculiar gleam. Mamoru could practically see him rubbing his hands together. "Then bring her over for dinner. Rei will cook."
Both men jumped as the shriek reverberated from deep within the building. Mamoru promptly backed away from the temple, pretending not to see the pleading look the old man threw his way. He was almost at the stairs when he heard Rei emerge, bellowing at the top of her lungs. He put his head down and made a run for it.
"Here," Minako said, carelessly shoving a pair of peacock blue Milano Blahnik's into Usagi's hands. "Oh and you can have these too." She pulled a pair of fire engine red heels and black strapped wedges from behind some boxes and gave them to her cousin. Usagi fingered the Swarovski crystals adorning the ankle strap of the red heels, wondering if it would lower her IQ if she declared her love for these shoes out loud.
"Are you sure?" She asked, holding her breath.
"Yes," Minako assured her as she placed several pairs back onto their respective shelves. Usagi could hear the reluctance in her cousin's voice. "Koan made me swear to pass some on when we got back from Paris. He still doesn't understand that I get most of them for free."
"Well thanks, I guess."
Usagi tried not to look at the enormous bed as she followed Minako out of the bedroom but couldn't stop her mind from wandering back to that afternoon only two months ago when Koan had brought her here for the first time. He'd taken her against the wall somewhere between the front hall and kitchen before carrying her to the bed where he'd kept her for a further two hours before he had to get back to work. She'd fallen hard for him that day.
Gasping a little, Usagi forced herself to look down at the floor, fingers clutching like claws around her new shoes. She wasn't ready for this.
"Are you ok?"
Looking up, she met Minako's concerned gaze with a forced smile. "I'm hung over Mina. I need coffee and sleep."
Minako raised one perfect eyebrow. "You sound like a pro."
Usagi shrugged. "You've met my parents."
"I have," Minako eyed her once more before turning away. "And I know Uncle Kenji would have another heart attack if he saw the state of your neck." She pulled out a cloth shopping bag and held it open for Usagi to place her new shoes into it. "Perhaps Motoki's not the best person to be looking after you," She mused. "Maybe I'll have a word with Aunt Ikuko. I'm sure she'd let you stay with me until Uncle Kenji's better."
Panic literally blinded her. Usagi fought it with brutal determination, knowing if she didn't utilise her full faculties now she'd be locked into a situation that might just kill her.
"Don't do that!" She blurted, grabbing her cousins arm. Minako blanched, unaccustomed to being man handled. "I like staying at Motoki's place. He and Mamoru look after me just fine." Usagi waved a hand at her neck. "This is my fault," She said, referring to the hickeys. "It won't happen again. I swear."
"Still, I don't think-"
"You'll be going back to New York soon anyway," Usagi pointed out, releasing Minako's arm. "I don't think Koan's going to like the idea of playing babysitter."
"That's true." Minako conceded, her pale blue eyes thoughtful as she regarded the younger girl. "Alright, I won't call Aunt Ikuko. But I'll be checking up on you," She grabbed Usagi's shoulders. "And you won't know when. So behave."
Usagi nodded, not caring that the relief was probably plastered all over her face. Minako stared at her a moment longer before she reached across the marble counter for her car keys.
"C'mon, I'd better take you home. You look like hell."
Usagi glanced out of the wall of glass lining one whole side of the penthouse at the view of Tokyo far below. It was dark now and still raining hard, water running like a river down the glass, causing the lights below to waver. Her phone began to sing in her pocket and she pulled it out. Mamoru was finally calling her back. Annoyed, she pressed the cancel button. 'Let him figure that out on his own' she thought, feeling rather mulish about the black haired man's abandonment.
"You're not going to answer it?" Minako asked, leading Usagi from the apartment.
"No," Usagi shook her head. "It's only Mamoru."
"Your room mate?'
"You don't like him?" Minako guessed.
"What?" Usagi glanced sideways at her cousin. A certain knowing smirk graced her cousins beautiful face. "Get your mind out of the gutter Mina."
"Did he give you those hickeys?"
Usagi snorted; though a tiny traitorous voice reminded her that Minako wasn't entirely off track "No."
Minako shrugged, dismissing Usagi's discomfort. "Ok, Ok. Don't get your knickers in a knot."
Usagi opened her mouth to retort but found herself overcome. She flung her arms around her cousin. If Minako was surprised she recovered fast, folding her long arms around the younger girl. Usagi felt tears coming but fought them back. They'd grown up together, filling that hole of loneliness that seemed to be a part of both of them. Then Minako had landed her big break with Revlon and moved to New York where she was immediately snatched up by Victoria Secrets. Usagi wasn't sure how she felt about it yet, only that she knew she'd lost something important. Her arms tightened around her cousin. If Minako ever found out about her betrayal with Koan she'd lose everything. She couldn't let that happen.
Mamoru drummed his hands on the steering wheel, peering through the water sheeting the windscreen.
"C'mon Odango," He murmured. "Get out of the damn car."
Usagi sat in a blue Aston Martin DB9 across the street. Mamoru had had ample time to appreciate the sublime beauty of the Aston because it had been parked in front of their apartment building for at least fifteen minutes now. He needed to speak to her and he needed to do it before she went upstairs. That didn't mean he was going to wait all night for her. He debated with himself for a moment.
"Fuck it." Mamoru decided, pushing his door open.
He had to wait for several vehicles to pass before he could make his dash across the street. The water on the road quickly soaked his boots and the bottom of his pants but he resigned himself to the discomfort as he rapped against Usagi's window. She jumped. He shoved a hand through his wet hair as he stepped back so that Usagi could open the door. He pushed it closed quickly once she'd stepped clear, knowing the rain was not good for the cream leather he'd just gotten a brief glimpse of.
"What?" She demanded, raising her voice to be heard over the rumble of a passing truck.
Mamoru shook his head and grabbed her elbow, pulling her towards the stairs and cover. She allowed his grip until they were in the lobby and then made a move to wrench her arm away but he released her before it could be made an issue. Her silver hair had come loose from her silly odangos, damp curling waves falling over her shoulders to cover a cloth bag she was clutching to her side. She was dressed casually in sweats but somehow the bedraggled look worked for him. He took a step back, trying to shake off the distraction so that he could get the first word in but it was too late. Arms folded tight across her chest, Usagi levelled him with a glare.
"What the hell is your problem?" She demanded.
"My problem is that you don't answer phone calls." Mamoru said, trying to keep his tone moderate.
"Neither do you!" Usagi retorted. "I had to wait an hour before Minako could come and get me... in the rain." She added.
"You seem to have survived ok." He let his eyes travel down her figure.
Colour crept into Usagi's cheeks. "She had to leave a shoot early to come and get me Mamoru."
"Well, where was Motoki?"
"He's not back yet?" She asked. He realised for the first time that she was shivering and motioned for her to follow him upstairs. "We went to look at the new apartment. He decided he had to go and left me there."
"Did he say where he was going?"
Her brow furrowed as she twirled a strand of hair around her wrist. "To see someone; I can't remember her name. Oh!" She exclaimed, pulling a rumbled piece of paper from her pocket. "Here."
Right away Mamoru recognised the neat scrawl of his twin. He had to read it twice because his mind immediately went to where he knew Motoki had to be and all of the potential problems it could cause. Crumpling the note, he resisted the urge to toss it away and settled for a deep groan of frustration.
"You weren't kidding when you said you had a twin." Usagi said as they reached their floor. One of the lights was out, shrouding part of the hall into darkness. She drifted closer to him, a fact both chose to ignore.
"We don't see each other much."
Mamoru couldn't help the bitterness that crept into his voice. No matter how hard he tried, they'd never been able to overcome the events that had shaped their childhoods. While he knew in theory that it wasn't his fault that Nibori and Takara had chosen not to adopt both twins, he couldn't help but bear the weight of that decision. Perhaps that was why he found it so easy to forgive Nori for his short comings. His childhood had been vastly different to Nori's and he couldn't help but shoulder the guilt that should have been felt by others.
They reached their apartment and Usagi stood back while he fished in his pocket for the key. He was about to put it into the lock when the door swung open.
Ami stood on the other side, the colour bleeding from the hand wrapped tight around the door knob. She tried to smile. "Sorry," She apologised, fingers weaving into the light fabric of the oversized white tunic she wore. "I had to use the key he gave me. I really didn't want to but he was supposed to meet me over an hour ago and he won't answer his phone. I tried to call but-"
"Ami," Mamoru held up a hand to stop the flow of words. Ami never babbled. "Slow down. Breathe."
She did as he said, sucking in a huge breath of air and released it in a noisy gush. "I don't know where Motoki is," She explained, worry making her normally quiet voice pitch several octaves higher. "He won't answer his phone."
"I know how that feels." Usagi piped up, rocking back on her heels. Mamoru shot her a withering look. Now was not the time.
"Maybe his battery ran out," He suggested. "You know he's always forgetting to charge it."
"That's true." Ami conceded, though it was clear she didn't believe it.
"Reika," Usagi announced, the name just coming back to her. Mamoru wanted to strangle her. "He said he was going to see Reika."
Any remaining colour drained from Ami's already pale face. Wordlessly, she shoved passed them and fled down the hallway, the echo of her shoes drifting back to their ears as she pounded down the stairs.
"You idiot," Mamoru shouted, rounding on the confused blonde. "Why can't you ever keep your mouth shut?"
"Don't yell at me." Usagi shouted back, instantly on the defensive.
"You couldn't just stay out of it," Mamoru fumed, waving a hand in the direction Ami had just fled. "You really do have noodles inside to go with the Odango."
"How dare you!" She shrieked, balling her fists.
He crowded her personal space, leaning down so that they were eye to eye. She still smelt like coconut. "Ami's going to go straight over to Rieka's house Usagi. If Motoki's still there it's going to be over for them. He promised to stay away."
She shoved at him and he took a step back, mindful of his knee caps. "I don't understand," Usagi cried as tears of frustration gathered. "Who is Reika?"
Mamoru stared deep into the depths of her watery baby blues. He sighed and looked away. "Reika is Motoki's ex wife."
AN: I need feedback guys. Let me know what you think.