Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon.
Author's Note: I was originally going to write this last year but with transit computers and completing a 15,000 word Father's Day piece for the Teen Titans' fandom, I put this away. But now I'm settled, so I can focus on this. Something I've been mulling over for a while and giving two characters I love their due. Also, if my characterizations are off, my apologies. Been a long while since I was into Moon. And to those you who resent the S dub, there will be some references from that as it's the only form of S I can get my hands on.
This was meant to be a one shot and should have this completed on Father's day but life and other projects delayed me. So I'll chapterize this and then remerge them into one as it was meant to be.
Timeline: 7 years after the events of the anime version of Stars.
The beta version will be coming soon; BlackShield has life to deal with first.
Dedication: to the real men who want to be and are fathers. And the sons and daughters who need them.
Souichi Tomoe kept staring at the digital clock flashing numbers in the darkness. '3 AM.' He tossed and turned away from the device. 'Just a few more hours.'
This day out of the year was the same. It didn't matter if anything else happened during rest of the year, nothing would change. It was the same when Hotaru was returned to him ten years older after the events of Ginga T.V. and the renegade senshi, Sailor Galaxia and her invasion of Tokyo and left him puzzled as to her accelerated age. It was the same when he was possessed and twisted by the daimon, Gelmatoid and fought for control as the insane scheme to bring about the Silence came to a head. Today would be no different.
'Four more hours.' He stared at the clock again. He could never sleep on the night before. Too much twisting and writhing but he always wondered if it was anticipation or guilt.
After a few more minutes of lying on the bed, he turned on his lamp, put on his glasses, and walked to his dresser mirror. He noticed some wrinkles, crow's feet, all the signs of age.
'I'm growing older and my daughter can't even age past 20. What lives we lead. I hope we don't off put with the aging yo-yo game.'
Every year, like clockwork, his stomach rumbled. 'It never fails.' Souichi left his bedroom and headed towards the kitchen. The new house certainly wasn't like his old mansion. The shadows here danced and weaved, whereas the other had shadows waiting to strike and terrorize.
He suddenly wondered what happened to the old mansion. After he sold it off and moved away, he lost track of it or what happened with the property that was once Mugen Gakuen. Ruminations for another day, for today, only one thing mattered.
The former professor saw the now 17 year old girl rooting around through her refrigerator. She changed over the five years yet still remained the same. She still dressed in black and retained her quiet and empathic personality but lately more reserved then she was when she was 13 for the first time. She almost acted like…her mother.
"Oh, hello, Papa. I'm sorry, I was hungry." She was almost blushing.
"It's fine, I was hungry myself. Always hungry around this time."
"Great minds think alike."
Souichi cracked a smile. "Indeed. What are you having?"
"Just some white rice. Nothing heavy."
"You want me to make you some pancakes or eggs? It's almost early enough for them." He smirked.
"Pancakes? Just like the way Mama used to make them?" She had a glint in her eyes.
"Of course." He headed to the stove and grabbed a pan.
"I only hope they're edible." She said, bemused.
"Of course they'd be edible; I used to cook all the time when I was in college." He turned on the stove.
"Then Mama came along and put an end to the fires, right?" She teased.
"One time. And it wasn't my fault. Someone left that aerosol can by the stove and I didn't see it."
"Oh, Papa, you may be smarter than everyone in Japan but you don't have much street smarts, don't you?"
"Oh hush. I know plenty."
"What am I going to do with you?" She gave off a laugh.
"Raising you and cooking this for starters." Souichi gathered some batter mix.
"Are you making them buckwheat?" She sounded like she was going to beg.
"No, I figured save them for this morning. You know the tradition and all that."
"Right, sorry, I thought we'd…try something different this year." The gothic senshi asked uncertain. He stared straight through her.
"Well, I thought we'd didn't have to do the same routine this year. It's feeling so mechanical. You know?"
"No, I don't know." He was trying to hide his rising anger.
"Isn't it time we get to do what we wanted to do and not tied up with the same routine like we have been ever since…"
"You don't have to finish that. I…understand your feelings. I do."
"You do?" The guilt was palpable to her.
"Of course, we've been doing it for so long; it's natural that you'd lose your appeal to it eventually."
"I don't want to stop but…I thought we'd do something by ourselves this year."
"I see but we do that every day."
"Not like this."
He turned off the burner. "Fine, we'll do whatever you want to do. Which is what?"
"I…haven't gotten that far. I will in the morning." Hotaru suddenly felt two inches tall.
'Teenagers. Never think ahead.' "Fine, I…suddenly lost my appetite but if you're still hungry, I can finish these for you."
"No, no, you don't need to do that."
"Hotaru, you need your strength. I don't want to repeat the same mistakes from before and have you in skin and bones." He reheated the burner.
"Papa, you don't have—"
"No, I'd like to be of some use to you." He tended to the stove.
"Some use? I don't understand?"
She got up and faced him. "What do you mean 'nothing?' "
"Forget it." Now he couldn't face her. He turned to finish mixing the batter.
He knew he couldn't resist that. "You may be able to let go of our tradition but I can't. You know I can't. But…I wouldn't dock you if you do. Alright?" He wished he could tell her the truth but this would do.
'Hope I learned something after all, from that…thing that was in my head.'
"Papa, I don't want to but I think it's time to move on. There is nothing more we can do with this anymore."
"Perhaps but nothing I can do. Nothing outside of being a criminal again." He chuckled ruefully.
"Oh, please don't." She was horrified. The last thing she wanted was for him to resume his criminal ways.
"No. I know better." He assuaged her.
"Good." She was relieved, for the most part.
"But it's too hard for me to change now. I'm too old. Anyway, the batter is done and the oven is on. You can go ahead if you want. I'll see you tomorrow morning." He kissed her on the cheek and left.
Hotaru gave off a loud sigh. 'I should have kept my mouth shut. Not much of a daughter now I am?'
'Perhaps she is right. But can I let it go? Should I?' Souichi just stared at the ceiling, ignoring the alarm.
He thought about the tradition and what it meant to him and by force of will, he kept it going. When Gelmatoid rattled around his head, and for one day, he was human again and even when his daughter was missing for about a year, he continued as he was deluged with worry.
'It's a part of who I am but…it's not part of her anymore. She moved on. But can I?'
He swore the spots on the ceiling looked like…
'No. Or…I don't know. Maybe I should try it her way. Just this once.'
He stared at the clock. '3:30. Won't be long now. Just remember, this is for Hotaru. I'll make it her day. Instead of…' He sighed as he kept staring at the ceiling and tried to clench his eyes shut.
'Going to be a long night which will turn into an even longer day.'
Hotaru stared up at her clock: '7:00.' She didn't sleep at all since the incident in the kitchen.
'Am I being too rigid here? The tradition is one of the few things that he has left anymore. But I don't want to see him continuing to be unhappy. But can I get him so he'll shift his focus from this? He doesn't seem to have…' The elder Tomoe interrupted her thoughts by shouting breakfast.
'Wish I could think now. I never could this early.' "Coming, Papa." She quickly got dressed. Her fashion style didn't change from back when she was a early teen. A black pair of jeans, a spaghetti strap black tank top, and a flowing matching skirt.
'Let's see what happens now.'
She walked hesitantly to the kitchen where she found her father by the stove, complete with the aroma of buckwheat pancakes. She immediately noticed his clothes—the same ones he wore back when he was the Death Busters' pawn. Then she had a flicker of a memory, tapered with loneliness, if only for a second.
"Hello, Papa." 'He hasn't worn that in years. Why now?'
"Hello, Hotaru. I hope you're hungry." He placed a plate of pancakes on the table.
"Don't worry. Hungry like a horse." She smiled, falsely.
"4 like usual?"
"As usual." She began to eat in silence. 'If we're going to fight, at least we'll be on full stomachs.'
"Hotaru…what do you want to do today?" Souichi finally broke the silence.
She was about to choke. "Um, pardon, Papa?"
He hid his tension. "I thought we'd try it your way today. You're right in that it isn't always productive to adhere to the same routine." Hotaru nearly chuckled at his word choice. The Professor persona never goes away, even after all this time.
"Uh, I haven't thought about it in depth. I was thinking we'd just…play it by ear?"
Souichi looked at her briefly before he took his pancakes from the pan. "Total spontaneity? Why not?" 'Let it go, this is for her.'
She was expecting more of a fight with him, at least on this. "It was a suggestion, we don't have…"
"No. You made yourself clear and I agree. So again, I reiterate, what do you want to do?"
"Well, we usually hit the park and then the shops and then…do the picnic. I read about this exhibit at the Observatory and a great observation deck, thought we can go after the park. And then see what happens."
He sucked in a breath. "Do you…still want to do the picnic? I should have asked but you left quite a bombshell before. Couldn't exactly think."
"No, and I'm sorry but…do you think it matters anymore? I think she'd let it go by now."
Souichi gave off a loud sigh. "I wish I knew." He suddenly reacted like he had his heart sucked out of him, the irony didn't escape him.
"I'm just being honest, Papa. I'm thinking what's best for both of you." He relaxed slightly with that.
"Well, I suppose we can go and…." She acquiesced.
"No, I don't want you unhappy because of my stubbornness. Come on, finish your pancakes and we'll be going." He finally began to eat his cold pancakes.
"Papa, I don't want you…"
"Stop. I know you don't want me unhappy, just what she wanted. Now let's finish eating breakfast so we can get started."
They finished their meal in record time.
Souichi kept one eye on the road and the other on Hotaru. 'Almost there. Just remember: calm and relaxed.'
"So how is school treating you?" He broke the tension.
She was surprised; she knew he didn't care for shop. "Well, I do have exams in a month, and I feel somewhat alright with them."
"Good. You certainly know what happens if you flunk don't you?"
"Well, Haruka-papa takes her example from Vince Lombardi. 'If you lose, you're out of the family.' "
Souichi forcefully chuckled. "Yes, well, that's also the motto of the Tomoes." He suddenly gripped the steering wheel a bit tight.
"Well, when your father is a graduate of Tokyo U, it's hard to be lazy, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is. Anything else with school?"
"Not much. No."
"You sure? Not a boy you like?"
Hotaru began to laugh. "Papa! If I did, he wouldn't live that long, and I won't have that on my conscience."
"When you're the daughter of the 'creepy' professor, Souichi Tomoe, boys tend to stay away."
"True. I don't know if I want to be pleased or insulted." He said amused.
"Knowing you and your overprotective ness, I'd say pleased."
"You'd be right."
"Papa, sometimes you're so predictable."
"Before, it sounded like a bad thing." The park was almost in their sights. Hotaru tried to hide her reaction.
"Depends on the situation. The control of the experiment."
"Now who sounds like a professor?"
"Oh, Papa. Not my fault, your terms are infectious."
"Infectious or proper parenting?" He gave a smirk.
"The former. Ask me about the latter when I'm 40."
"It's a deal."
They approached the park. He found an empty parking spot.
"Here we are. Anywhere in particular or same place as always?" Souichi turned off the car.
"The fountain? I suppose we can make a short stop." They got out of the car and walked at a slow pace. It was a nice warm day which relieved Hotaru. If it was too cold, and the way he was dressed, the infamous lab coat could have made an appearance. Especially since such things as proper fashion was never a bother to the former scientist.
"You didn't answer my question. You sure no boys?" He broke the silence and continued with his amused tone.
"Papa. No. Besides, with school, there isn't much time for that, anyway."
"True but…there is time for it. If you can find it." He began to sound maudlin.
"I know, Papa." She didn't want to fight him. Not anymore.
"The advantages of youth. You have a lot of time to look. Especially if you get reborn again." He switched tones.
"That was one time."
"Supposed to be scientifically impossible. If it happened once…"
"You're such the scientist."
"Such the old scientist." He quipped.
"You're not that old."
"I'm getting there. Just takes a few more years."
"Just because you have a little snow on the roof, you think you're Methuselah?"
"You should get checked for glasses. I have a lot of snow."
"Yet you don't dye it." Hotaru was just savoring this.
"Until my crow's feet and wrinkles give me away. And then the next step, Botox."
"The Americans do it. So why not?"
"Papa, no. Don't pander. It makes you distinguished."
"Still means old."
"Oh, Papa." She shook her head and rolled her eyes.
"The greenhouse is up ahead." Hotaru nodded to the grove up ahead.
"Interesting deviation. Usually we watch the children play at the fountain first."
"Papa." She said in a subtle, stern tone.
"I know, I know."
"But why there first?"
"I thought it was time to use that phrase, 'stop and smell the roses.'"
"Usually I'm the one who waxes philosophic." He smirked.
"Like father, like daughter?"
Souichi just chuckled ruefully. "Yes."
"Come on." Hotaru walked faster.
"Hey, slow down. I told you I'm old remember?" He slightly quickened his pace.
"You're not old!"
"Says you, you're the one that has all that energy to burn! Children. They're right: youth is wasted on the young." He muttered as he followed her.
The whiff of the exotic flowers covered the air of the greenhouse. The two felt every sense coming alive. The room itself was brimming with roses of assorted colors. "That's…quite strong." Souichi was taken aback by the aroma. Hotaru had something on her mind, something almost out of place.
"I know. Clears up the sinuses, doesn't it?"
"And everything else." He cleared his throat and felt slightly disoriented.
"It wouldn't bother you if you weren't all indoors all the time."
"But that's where we get the bread and butter as it were. But yes, I think she was always trying to…" His maudlin tone was returning.
"Papa. Let's go see the new flower exhibit. I heard there was a rare rose that has returned to Japan after 9 years." Hotaru was leading her father deeper within the building, hoping her distraction would work.
"9 years? That's quite a wait."
"Yes, the botanist raised it years ago. Called it the "Pure Heart." Then a…plant monster caused him to close shop for a while." Hotaru knew this place was familiar, but from where or perhaps when?
"You're quite well read."
"Like I said, when you have a father for a scientist…"
"That you do, so let's see this 'Pure Heart.'" He pecked her on the cheek and walked away. Hotaru began to be lost in thought.
'This is the first time I've ever in here before. So why it so familiar?'
"Certainly picked a proper time, the flowers are bloom." Souichi broke up her ruminating.
"Yes, it is." She sounded distracted. He was curious why the change in tone.
"Hotaru? Are you alright?"
"Oh of course. Just the flowers, quite a distraction." He felt assuaged.
"That they are. I'll see you there." He walked away but she focused on the roof above him. She had a flash of a memory of her holding a piece of wood in place on a broken pane while the owner hammered it in place.
'Then I was here before. But what happened in here? Never mind, it's more important to be with Papa today than sort all this now. One thing at a time.'
She slowly walked in her father's direction and noticed him starting at a saffron rose.
"How uncommon. You don't see a rose this color very much." He suddenly remembered seeing this rose before, but from where?
"Really?" Hotaru approached him.
"Yes. Red is so common as you know. He obviously took a different path to the color scheme. Anyone could have used a different color, such as black, as clichéd as it is anymore. How original."
"Indeed." She decided to join him and stared at the rose. She too, thought she saw a flicker of reminiscence, a memory of seeing that design in a monster attacking the greenhouse. She saw it for only a second.
'What? What was that from? I wish I can understand all this.'
"I think I saw this some time ago. Just trying to remember when." Souichi kept staring at the plant.
"Yeah. Shall we see the Pure Heart now?" She took his arm, and trying to usher him away to the Tropical room.
"Oh sure." He still tried to give it a sideways glance.
'Where did I see that? In a lab of mine? No matter.'
"It's certainly an exotic gallery. And beautiful, as I can see. Along with being humid." He noticed all the various plants and trying to ignore the new found humidity of the room.
"The botanist is quite the expert, I agree. I wish I knew how he does it." They walked to a glass case, inside was a deep maroon rose with ivory petals in the center.
"It's quite alluring, isn't it?" Souichi felt mesmerized by the coloring.
"Yes, it's supposed to be used for vaccines and other medicinal purposes. It will still be a couple of years before everything about it can be researched."
"Wonder how he was able to crossbreed such a flower." 'That coloring, seems…familiar.' He was trying to see the truth.
"That's easy. I found a fertilizer that combined them nicely." An older voice started them. They both turned to see an older man in glasses, with a gardener's outfit, his sunhat blocking the light. He seemed somewhat familiar to the younger Tomoe.
"I see you two are enjoying my Pure Heart."
The irony escaped the two. "Yes, I was wondering how you're able to make such a coloring design." The elder Tomoe spoke.
"Yes well, I found a perfect fertilizer I mixed together recently and finally made it in bloom. I've been trying to raise this for a decade. It wasn't until the scientific community released all the information on that elite school, Mugen and all those chemicals. I thought try to put all those chemicals to good use."
Souichi raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yes, which I thought was ironic when it came to Mugen. They hogged all those secrets that should be for the right of the world, I'm glad the government stepped in and released them." The words cut the ex-professor to the quick.
"Indeed. How close are you to your end results?"
"Actually, just six months. The nectar is close to being isolated and we've been experimenting on rats to test. You have to admit, it's really all about helping people, not about egos and pissing contents, yes?"
"Something like that." Hotaru could feel her father's tension.
"Papa, why don't you take a look at this? It's quite exotic." She hoped he'd take the hint.
"Are you and your daughter enjoying my gardens?" The botanist asked.
"Um, yes. You raise very beautiful flora. I was most curious by your yellow rose in the Rose room."
"Oh, that, I keep as an anomaly. As a reminder as what happened a decade ago."
"Why? What happened?"
"Something I've never seen before: a plant monster, who looked…over fertilized tried to take over the greenhouse, until the…blond heroine Sailor Moon arrived and saved the day and once she destroyed the monster, all was left was a yellow rose. Kept it as a souvenir. I don't know how many times I've told that story." The botanist chuckled ruefully.
"I see. My daughter noticed your greenhouse closed for quite some time." The events seem almost familiar to Souichi.
"Yes. The greenhouse hit on some hard times after that incident, so I closed shop. Then came the government and Mugen research and I…reopened it with a scientific grant."
"Certainly shows. Like your water heaters." Souichi just glanced around the humid room.
"Yes, it's hard to take at times I admit. Even I faint from the heat at times."
"I'm used to being inside a lab. With an air conditioner."
"I'm not, I'm the reverse." The botanist laughed.
"Yes, I should go before my daughter gets further anxious."
"The impulsiveness of youth. My daughters act the same way. On that note, you have a very beautiful daughter."
"Thank you." Souichi was brimming with pride.
"You know, as I think about it, I thought I saw her in my greenhouse before it closed down or…at least a younger sister?"
"It's possible. She comes from good genes." the ex-professor used humor to hide his tension.
"I'm sure that's true. Say, you look familiar too."
"No, I have a very plain face; I just look like the rest of the salarymen. Happens all the time. Excuse me, sir." He began to walk away. The botanist kept ruminating and staring.
'Where did I keep that scientific journal?'
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, just talking shop with him. Now, what am I looking at again?" Souichi approached his daughter.
"I thought this flower was quite exotic, wanted you to see it." She leaned against the display. It was a rare magenta bloom complete with thorns on the stem.
"Interesting bloom. Far more unique than a rose, I think."
"I thought you'd like it." She gave a small smile.
"That I did. Now, it's all the same to you, shall we go and get out of this hot room?" He began to fan his jacket. Hotaru just giggled.
"Can't take the heat?"
"Not in the least. I'll be in the Rose room if you're going to stay here." He pecked his daughter on the cheek and left the humid room. Hotaru stared as he receded into the room.
"I thought I remembered you. You were here before the greenhouse closed didn't you?" The botanist came over to her.
"I think so, as a child."
"I may not remember every face that comes in here but the special ones…never."
"You did a wonderful job with your gardens."
"I'm glad you think so. Makes the struggles worthwhile. Impress the children and wait for their children and that's it in a nutshell." She couldn't help but smile.
"If and when I decided to have children, this is certainly a place I'd want to take them."
"Yes, and the parents. I take it that you and your father cleared up your differences?"
"I remembered that you were worried about your father not taking you on any picnics anymore. Seems like you corrected that."
She astonished that he knew that. She didn't even remember saying that. "Yes…we did but we have our differences too."
"That's how it is for every family really. It wouldn't be much of anything if we didn't clash at least some of the time and show how different we are. Who wants to be the same anyway?" She swore she thought it was her father speaking to her for a second.
"As long as you don't break into song and dance, I'll be fine." He just laughed.
"No, but you can't get dysfunctional without fun."
"You got me there."
"Just remember to embrace, not distance yourself from that. How else was I going to get seven kids?" He began to walk away.
"Thank you." She smiled and walked to the Rose room.
'Where have I seen this before?' Souichi burned the image of the goldenrod rose into his mind. Flashes of seeing it in a chemist's oven kept shining in his mind.
'At least it's not a delusion.' He took off his glasses and massaged his temples.
'Any more staring and I'll be seeing yellow. Stop obsessing. Oh, listen to me, like I would know how to do that. If only I…'
"Papa?" Hotaru broke his thoughts.
"Sorry, I was just still admiring this rose." Another memory flashed to her as she watched the rose again, one of her grabbing one of the vines on the monster for only a few seconds, wilting it.
'No. Did I do that?' She massaged her temples. "Hotaru?" Her father put his hand on her shoulder.
"Sorry, Papa. Must be the pollen; think it's finally starting to get to me." She wished she knew what was going on with her. She wasn't sure if she should tell him; he had enough worries and didn't want to add any more to them.
"It is strong, yes. We can go now. You go ahead; I'll meet you outside in a minute."
"Ok, Papa." She walked quickly to the exit.
'Wish I knew where I remembered this.' He thought he saw a flicker of him over spraying the rose for a second.
'Why did I do that? Then I…put it in the oven? Why did I…?' He sighed and then remembered Hotaru waiting outside.
'This is something about this rose, and I'm going to find what it is. For another day. Focus on her now. Spent enough time as it is.' He left and joined her outside.
"You alright?" He saw her leaning near one on the flowerbeds.
"I'm fine, just allergies a little bit. I'm the indoors type, remember?" He just smiled.
"Just like your father. So what do you want to do now?"
"Not sure. I think we have some time to catch the observation deck. I think the high altitude will help my nose. And then lunch?"
"No lingering in the park? Alright, it's your day. Ready?" She just nodded and the two walked away from the greenhouse.
"That was most interesting. Any reason why you wanted to go there?" Souichi broke the silence.
"I thought the fact it was open after being closed all this time was worth a look."
"It certainly was. Stirred up some distant memories." He said in a ruminating tone.
She felt the same way with the botanist. "That it did."
"Oh? I don't recall you being there before."
"I think it was a field trip. A long time ago, I barely remembered it."
"Field trips aren't supposed to be memorable. They're just to be embraced because they are a day off from school and not much else." She turned her head.
"Papa! You advocating skipping school?" She was about to descend into giggles.
"Even professors and teachers can understand and empathize with the students who are tired of dragging themselves in day in and day out. Constant work without rest is counterproductive." Once again, the professor reared its intellectual head.
"I can't believe you would blithely dismiss field trips like that. You're right but from you?"
"Just because I was a professor doesn't mean I always had my head in the books. I felt the same way, that's why I was the same way about field trips. I needed a break too."
"I find that hard to believe. You're the ultimate workaholic."
"I was. But when I was younger, I had the energy and thought I could do it. When you're young, you think you can take on the world because you can. Or in some cases, when you're old, you do it for spite."
"Again with your age?"
"It's part of the game with scientists: legacies. But I gave that up didn't I?" He put his hand on her shoulder. She couldn't help but smile until another flicker of a memory came about. A memory of waiting and loneliness.
"That you did." She couldn't lose that feeling of loneliness.
He raised an eyebrow. "Hotaru?"
"It's nothing, Papa. Just a bit of fatigue. Let's go shall we?" She walked faster, away from him.
"Yes, let's." Souichi simply had a look of uncertainty about him. 'And I thought I'd be the miserable one.' He trudged away to the car.
To be continued…