I don't own Sailormoon – but the story is mine, historical inaccuracies and all :)
Twilight Bastille: Chapter #1 – Recurring Dreams
Her small, bare feet pounded down the uneven steps of the old shrine, slipping slightly on the curling tendrils of moss. There was a smell of damp stone and dew-kissed leaves in the air and Rei ran faster than she had ever run in her life, because if she couldn't catch him now, he'd be gone forever.
Distantly behind her, she could hear her grandfather shouting at her – "Slow down!" but Rei didn't have the time to hear or obey.
There he was. Her father was just getting into the limousine.
His manservant closed the door with a firm click.
On the other side, the chauffeur's door slammed shut.
With a low growl, the motor whirred and started.
She ran still faster, and so focused was she on the long stretch of black machine before her that Rei barely noticed that she'd tripped and fallen. So she sat there in the wet grass, staring dumbly at the car as it coughed thick sepia smoke its way up the lane. Past the creaking shrine gate and then onto open road, gone gone gone. Her grandfather stood beside her.
"What did I say about slowing down, little one?" he chided, helping her to her feet.
Rei blinked up at him, uncomprehending, before she buried her face in his robes smelling of cedar and cotton and sobbed.
"Why couldn't Papa wait for me? Why couldn't he…? Why…"
Rei sat up, wide awake, gasping short breaths. For a few moments, the memory of the dream was immediate enough to numb the stinging pains that chased each other up and down her taut back and neck, but the respite was brief and she winced as yet another night on a hardwood handout of a bed caught up with her. The smells of home, now nowhere but in her hazy, gray-edged dreams, still lingered.
"Rei, are you awake yet?" her grandfather's soft voice emerged from behind the curtain.
"Yes, Grandfather, I'm up," she called back.
She disentangled herself from the thin sheets twisted between her legs. Her thin night chemise was slightly damp with perspiration, clinging to the too-sharp bones at her hips. Hurriedly, Rei stood and splashed her face with water from the basin near her bed, washing the taste of morning from her mouth. The water was already warm. Not a good sign; such heat in the air at dawn foreshadowed a blistering day ahead. For the sake of modesty – she certainly didn't need the warmth – Rei tossed a threadbare robe over her chemise.
"I'm just finishing dusting up, child."
She began the always-arduous process of brushing her hair, which pooled out beside her over the whisper-thin sheets and onto the gritty floor in a slippery, heavy mass of living silk. Her toes idly patterned the dust. Rei's thoughts turned almost immediately to her dream, one that had plagued her since she was a child. It was a dream she had all too frequently, one that affected her more than she cared to admit. It's been years. Let it go. Somehow, she couldn't.
Of course Papa couldn't wait, Rei mused, failing to turn her thoughts elsewhere. Couldn't wait to get us off his hands…out of Japan, out of his life. What good was any of it? – convent girls' academy, the lavish allowance, a huge ranch in the valley, awkwardly large for Grandfather and herself, accustomed as they were to their small shrine of wood and stone. Rei hated how her father had bought their compliance, hated his money, but times being what they were, she didn't have a choice.
And now where are we stuck living?
Well, even his wealth couldn't save them now, not while the war continued with no clear end in sight.
She was distracted by Grandfather shuffling in. He held a small, dust-filled tray and a brush. Rei immediately took the tray from him, bending to kiss the top of his head in affectionate greeting. She crouched by the bed, scraping the ever-present sand and dust off the floor and into the tray. He maneuvered himself onto the bed slowly, and reached for the glass of water on the nightstand.
"Breakfast in a bit…do you think it will be powdered sugar or raisins on the rice today? When do you think the chefs will finally learn?" Grandfather wondered absently, only half-complaining. He says the same thing every morning. Calls it "making polite conversation." Rei rolled her dark eyes in reply, just as she always did.
"When they learn that green tea doesn't come in a bag and baka yaro doesn't mean 'good morning'."
They laughed a bit over that one, and then allowed companionable silence to take hold, each lost in their own thoughts.
Finding no more dirt between her toes, Rei made to stand when Grandfather suddenly put down his glass with a clink and took one of her work-roughened hands between his leathery palms. His tone was unusually sober.
"Listen, child. Dr. Phifer has been transferred to Arizona, and I just talked to the new supervising physician earlier this morning. Arrived last week – very young, very…ah, never mind, there's a bit of a problem with my medicines, you see…Dr. Amos says…" he hesitated, seeing her lips tighten.
"He says that he can't get my medicines for me anymore. That the rationing guidelines have tightened, and there's a shortage…" Grandfather trailed off as Rei pulled her hand from his and began to pace around the tiny room, brow pensive. So much like her grandmother, he reminisced, always demanding. Like her father too, I suppose, though I won't say it. He cleared his throat, somewhat guiltily. This was going to cause problems with their meager income, problems that they didn't need.
"I'm so sorry, child, but I don't know what to do – "
Rei turned on her heel, the frown softening instantly. She knelt before him, putting her hands in his lap like a little girl.
"You don't have to do anything, Grandfather. Just – just don't go to work today. Take the day off, visit the Onos or something. I don't want you to get sick again. Listen, I'll take care of it."
"But – "
"No buts. I'll talk to this new doctor. Don't worry. Just putter around uselessly like you always do," Rei scolded, not meaning a word of it. "We can go without your working one day, don't you think?"
She stood briskly, brooking no argument, and began to put her shoes on.
Grandfather half-smiled at her businesslike manner, still worried. "I suppose you're right. But I can't stop working forever just because of this. How else will we buy the ranch back?"
Rei paused, one shoe still unbuckled. Her black hair curtained her face, thankfully obscuring her pained expression. "I know, Grandfather. Don't worry. We'll get enough money up somehow to go home."
"I know we will, child," his voice was warm with certainty.
"I'll see you tonight," she kept her tone neutral, refusing to betray her doubts to the old man.
Practiced fingers twisted her mane into some semblance of order, pinning it into a heavy coil at the base of her neck as Rei nudged open the flimsy, taped-up door and surveyed the barracks around her.
There was a thirst already in her throat, and she could just smell the glassy, seething heat coming in over the infinite dunes beyond Manzanar.
"Our staff at Manzanar is widely respected…for their efficiency…their professionalism…their compassion," Phyllis explained breathlessly, her words punctuated by short gasps as she struggled to keep up with the doctor's long, purposeful stride. "We're one…of the largest camps…have a reputation…to uphold…for finer living…for the Japanese…"
"And here…we've got the elementary school block – school's out now…it's late, of course," Phyllis tittered, glancing hopefully at the doctor in her peripheral vision. It was a shame she couldn't see what color his eyes were behind those sunglasses – the dark frames gave him the look of a rakish film star. He didn't seem to notice her sincere effort at charm, taking in the scenery around him with an air of nonchalance, like he'd been interested until he realized he'd seen it all before. "And this," she continued, louder than before, "this is the community center – they all get together…for their holidays here. Not that many anymore…I guess. The ones left are a…pretty small bunch, I've got to say, which is good because you're our…best doc at the moment, and staff is short – "
"Where, Phyllis," Dr. Jacen Amos interrupted her easily, "– is that your name? it's lovely – where are the hospital barracks?"
Phyllis shivered slightly at the sound of his caressing tenor, Mid-Atlantic roots clear in his enunciation. "J – just nearby, Doctor, in the northeast corner of the central camp. Actually right by your quarters, but I wanted to take you on a tour of the camp first – " she extended her hand, gesturing to the barracks behind him.
"That's kind of you, but not necessary. I'll just explore on my own – thanks for showing me around all the same. Pleasure meeting you, sweetheart," Jacen continued onward, gait long and loose. Phyllis's hand remained suspended in the air as she watched the afternoon sun tenderly burnish the doctor's curls a fiery gold. It was several moments before she realized that she had been rather charmingly kicked to the curb.
Jacen left the tiresome, albeit pretty nurse behind, his blue gaze scanning the wide expanse of desert-aged buildings, absorbing the new information with the eagerness of a long-time student. Despite all that he'd heard about Manzanar being the most dynamic internment facility of them all, he couldn't see how this place was any more livable than some of the run-down, evacuated towns he'd seen overseas. Take away the little park I just walked past, piped-in water in a shallow pond, fake trees and shrubs blooming out of this dry desert. Take away the silent basketball courts, still smelling of white paint. Take away the empty theaters over here in the center. It's all the same – dusty buildings and resigned faces. That's all the talk is – bullshit.
He slowed as he approached the very center of the camp. Everything was the same. The neat, orderly rows of barracks, fading white paint denoting room numbers and names. Children's Village, Barbershop, Judo Room. Cracked stone steps leading up to each building, wind and sand clouding up just above the bone-dry earth. The center of the camp was pretty empty around this time of day – Jacen guessed that most people were napping at home, too exhausted to do much of anything in the midday heat. He rolled up his thin sleeves with a muttered curse, wishing he'd brought along something to wet his parched mouth.
A few older men lounged on the shaded steps, all clad in ripped overalls, staring past him with cold nonchalance. Two tiny girls, not more than a few years old, clapped their hands together outside the beauty parlor, chattering animatedly in Japanese. Jacen half-smiled as their appropriately tiny mother emerged from the salon, scolding them loudly for – what? – he had no idea. The woman chose that moment to look up, her eyes lighting with surprise on Jacen's tall form – the only American to be seen in the area. She gave him an appraising stare, as they all did, looking for some hidden characteristic that Jacen didn't know if he possessed. Then, as if on cue, they all turned back to their business, the men pulling out cigarettes and matchboxes, the mother vanishing within the parlor's cooler recesses. I suppose I'll never quite understand. The soft sound of feminine laughter shattered the still afternoon, and Jacen paused, turning to find the source.
Two schoolgirls, just outside the elementary school block, their dark heads both bent over some mysterious problem. Obviously, neither of them could be bothered to stare at the newcomer. The taller of the two lifted her face to the sun for a brief moment, eyes rolled heavenward with annoyance, and Jacen corrected his previous assessment. Make that one schoolgirl. This one's probably her teacher – nah, tutor.
He'd known many beauties back in New York, whores and heiresses both, and whoever this girl was, she didn't hold a candle to some of them. All the same, she was striking in a way most women weren't, Japanese or otherwise, her skin almost translucent, sunlight glinting off the glossy coalblack of her hair, reflecting the sparkling cement. A bit too skinny for Jacen's taste. On the short side, too.
Talk about hard-up, he laughed at himself. Looking for pretty girls here of all places?
It was no good, anyway. In the few short days since his arrival, he'd already noticed that many people still living here – young and old – had an almost corpse-like quality, dried up and desiccated in the sand and sun. Their bones moved like old lace and their unlit eyes filmed over with regret. Still, there was something about the girl that made him want to keep looking… Jacen moved on.
Time to see if Manzanar's hospital facilities were as spacious as glowingly reported. It would be his office as medical department head until the camp inevitably closed down.