A/N: Kon'wa, minna-san! This is Arashi-chan speaking, as she is the author of this chapter. I started this story while Jikkan-chan was in a tizzy about her finals, and finished it as she recovered from them, and so this chapter is mine. Tcha/grins/
I thank Jikkan-chan for her beta-esque help all the same, and apologise for starting yet another story without finishing the half-complete chapter of Aika no Tsuki (not to mention all the other fics on my Nimbirosa account). In spite of all this, Aika will be up in a few days. It's already half-finished, after all.
Now that everything's
out of the way (goodness, I hate Author's Notes, which is why I
make poor Jikkan-chan do them), on with the story!
Kakera ni Tsukiakari
A Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon fanstory by Arashinobara Jikkankakyoku
Prologue – Mukashi Mukashi
Once Upon a Time…
'The rose gardens were like my heart; there were high walls keeping intruders at bay, and only my most beloved and trusted were allowed within. Every hedge, shrub, vine – every blade of grass was cultivated by my own hand, and I guarded it jealously, for it was my sanctuary from the duties and obligations of the Crown Prince of the Golden Kingdom. Imagine my surprise, then, when on a particularly black day I entered and found beauty immeasurable and innocence incarnate examining everything with an air of quiet awe. Her name, though I did not know it at the time, was Serenity-hime of the Moon Kingdom. In that moment, she simply materialised in my heart, much as she appeared one day in those blessed gardens.'
– An excerpt from Chikyuu no Ai, The Memories of Neo-King Endymion
Their first meeting was almost ethereal – it was full of quiet understanding and mutual sight. He was as numb as he was alone, before she came. She was golden and full of light that dimmed sympathetically as she saw him.
He stared stonily at the wall, insides twisting and churning. He would go to the place for the kids with no parents in four or five days. An orphanage, he thought they called it. Orphanage. The word was guttural; ugly. Will it be ugly there? he wondered detachedly. The eight-year-old boy never noticed that his cheeks were wet until a tear dripped off his chin to splash angrily on his bare hand.
That was when the door opened silently, and a head of butter-gold curls peeked in, the joyful expression on the small face fading as the six-year-old girl watched him solemnly. He scrubbed angrily at his face, hating the almost painful pinching sensation across the bridge of his nose that heralded yet more tears.
The sudden light pressure on his knee alerted him of a small head resting there, lending him comfort. The pressure of tears in his chest eased, and then vanished. They sat in silence a little while, she offering him her light, he soaking it in furtively as the bone-deep ache began to recede.
"Daijoubu, Tanin-kun?" she asked, addressing him as 'stranger'. Sapphire eyes that weren't so hurt and angry anymore gazed steadily back at innocently concerned cerulean ones.
"Daijoubu," he answered quietly, the ache all gone and the numbness vanishing as blessed warmth took its place.
She'd been lost, looking for her mother's room, but decided that it could wait. She glanced pensively at the bouquet of roses she carried, and then at the boy, who had stubbornly turned his back on her. Mama won't miss just one flower, she decided. Picking the freshest, prettiest bloom, the only one with unbruised petals, she drew it out carefully and, with typical six-year-old pomp, dethorned it.
He started when a perfect red rose, dew still glistening on its petals, was thrust directly in front of his nose. "Eh!"
"It's for you," she said somewhat unnecessarily. "When Mama's feeling unhappy, I pick some flowers and give them to her. She always feels better after that."
He wrinkled his nose. "Sounds a little hard on the flowers to me."
She grinned widely up at him, not understanding. Unable to fortify the walls around his heart any longer, he opened the gates and handed her the keys.
She seemed to perk up visibly at his returning smile, and the rose fluttered even closer to his face. When he reached up to take it, their fingers brushed, and sparks of golden-silver and silvery-gold merged together, swimming through the stem and taking up residence in the bloom, immortalising it.
Neither child noticed, because her fingers had left the flower and he had set it aside as they laughed together at her clumsy attempts to climb the hospital bed. He quickly relented at a soulful look and reached out his hand, which she took. The sparks flickered again, and she blinked, startled, before he hauled her up beside him.
It was after they'd exhausted themselves playing, bouncing lightly on his bed as they fought dragons and defeated sorcerers, their laughter keeping the silence at bay.
"I'm Usagi," she told him. His slow, beautiful smile lit up the room as he placed a name to his angel's face.
"I'm Mamoru," he replied.
The blonde hugged him without warning, and he froze in shock. "Iie," she said, her voice muffled in the rough material of his hospital gown. "You are Mamo-chan."
One could feel their heartbeats in the following quiet. Slowly, slowly, he brought his arms around her in a silent embrace, returning the hug. "Then you are Tenshi." My angel.
The silence was full of understanding, and no words needed to be said.
They pulled away from each other as faint shouting was heard outside the room. Mamoru looked at Usagi to see a faintly chagrined look on her face. "Nani?"
"Oh, that's my 'tousan. Daddy's probably wondering where I got to," she replied airily even as she scrambled off the side of the bed. Mamoru's grin vanished instantly.
"Do you have to go?" he asked miserably.
Usagi's own smile seemed dimmer than usual. "Hai… I came here to visit my Mama – she's having a baby. The roses are for her and Shingo."
"Mmm-hmmm," Usagi hummed an affirmative, straightening her wrinkled blouse and skirt. Bright eyes looked up into now-miserable ones, and she seemed to think for a moment. "Would you like to come see him?"
Mamoru's ecstatic grin was all the answer she needed, and he clambered down next to her before they exited the hallway and walked bumped directly into a wild-eyed man and a harried-looking nurse.
Usagi ran to the man. "Papa!" she cried, clinging to his leg.
The nurse sighed in relief. "Tsukino-san, would that be your daughter?" she asked.
The man looked up, apology in his eyes. "Hai, it would be. Where have you been, you bad girl?" he scolded, lifting her up in his arms.
"With Mamo-chan!" she beamed, giving her father a smacking kiss on the cheek before squirming to be let down. That was when the nurse spotted Mamoru.
"Mamoru-kun, why are you out of your room?" she asked, surprise evident in her tone.
Mamoru shrugged, sullen now that he was sure he would not be allowed to see Shingo with Usagi. "Tensh – Usagi-chan said I could come see her brother, Nasake-san."
Nasake, the nurse, looked calculatingly from Usagi's pleading eyes to Mamoru's sulky countenance. 'Perhaps it will be good for him,' she thought hopefully. "Is that okay with you, Tsukino-san?"
Kenji – Usagi's father – looked warily at Mamoru, but relented upon Usagi's tiny fists beating against his chest, along with her begging expression. "Hai, that's fine. Come along… Mamoru, was it?"
"Hai, Tsukino-san," he answered politely, his unhappy demeanour melting away. He and Usagi exchanged giddy grins, and she succeeded in wriggling out of her father's arms, joining Mamoru on proper ground level.
Nasake ruffled Mamoru's hair with a smile, watching as he in turn tried to mess up Usagi's unique hairdo – a pair of perfectly round buns with short ponytails streaming from them. "Tsukino-mama is in room 278," she told the playful duo. "Don't make too much noise?"
As they giggled together, running down the hall before disappearing behind a corner, Nurse Nasake exchanged wry glances at Tsukino Kenji.
"She's going to be a heartbreaker when she grows up," the lilac-haired nurse remarked with a smile. Kenji let out a tortured-sounding groan.
"Don't I know it!" he sighed, sticking his hands in his pockets. "I swear, I'm going to buy a shotgun when she turns ten or something…"
"I don't think it'll make too much of an impression, really," Nasake shrugged as she and Kenji followed the faint sound of laughter. "Young Mamoru there is obviously quite taken with her."
Kenji made a strangled noise that sounded much like a cat being stepped on.
The nurse resisted the urge to roll her eyes as they moved to the side, allowing a wheelchair-bound patient to pass. "Tsukino-san, my point is that if she could get through Mamoru's walls, she should be able to get through just about anyone's. Do calm yourself down; I would be fired if I caused a healthy visitor to have a heart attack."
"Why Mamoru?" he asked simply, choosing to ignore her latter remark.
"Why Mamoru…" she drew out the young boy's name thoughtfully before shaking her head. "His case is quite the tragic one. Orphaned in a motor accident. No one knows exactly how the car came to skid off the highway – later tests proved that both parents were perfectly sober."
Kenji's face was unreadable. "Doesn't the boy know? Or was he sleeping while it happened?"
"Iie, that's what makes it even worse." Nasake paused to get her thoughts together, and shook her head in chagrin when she realised that they had passed the next turn.
"What could possibly be worse than being orphaned? He has relatives, surely? Someone who will be there for him?"
Nurse Nasake glanced at the older man out of the corner of her eye. "Complete amnesia. No knowledge of his name or roots, no understanding of how he came to be here and no one to help him through this time. One would say, perhaps, that no memories were better, so that he could start out fresh."
"I'd disagree," Kenji sighed as they paused outside the ward door, mind whirring. 'He has no one…' "Memories would give him closure, to say the least."
"That they would," Nasake looked hard at the frowning man next to her. "Would you do me a favour, Tsukino-san?"
"I make no promises, but if I may in good conscience grant it, I shall," he responded warily.
Nasake gestured at the door leading to the ward that Kenji's post-natal wife. "Please allow Mamoru-kun and your Usagi to keep in touch. She's the first one he's let in since his accident, and if you'd seen just how cold he was… you'd understand."
Kenji was silent for a moment before a reluctant smile broke out on his face. He grinned boyishly at her. "Considering the hand he's been dealt, I guess I'll let him near Usagi-chan," he chuckled slightly. "I'll have to lay down the law with him, though: looking only, no touching."
Nasake's lips curved into a grateful smile. "Domo arigatou, Tsukino-san. The world needs more men like you in it."
"Iie, do itamashite," he replied, his cheeks warming a little. The blush disappeared as he scowled abruptly. "I'm still buying that shotgun, though."
"He's so small," Mamoru said wonderingly as he took in the little red face, the damp wisps of light hair and the tightly-shut eyes. He poked a finger lightly at one of Shingo's balled fists, and to his surprise and secret delight, the tiny hand unclenched before closing back around Mamoru's finger, which seemed large by comparison.
"He's very ugly, all wrinkly and red," Usagi stated flatly as she looked over at the baby. "Mama, these are for you," she said somewhat belatedly as the indigo-haired young mother smiled tiredly at her exuberant daughter, accepting the bouquet of battered red roses.
"Domo, Usagi-chan," Tsukino Ikuko murmured. She cradled baby Shingo closer to her chest. "And Shingo will grow up to be a handsome boy, ne?" she addressed the slumbering baby.
"I don't know… was I that ugly when I was born?" Usagi scrunched her face up in thought, but a quick squeeze from Mamoru's hand had her relaxing, blinking questioningly at him.
"I can't see you being ugly, T – Usagi-chan," he said matter-of-factly even as he stared, fascinated at the newborn.
Usagi rolled her eyes. "That's because you haven't seen me when I'm ugly."
Mamoru turned from Shingo, his brows furrowing uncomprehendingly. "Ano… Usa, you're not making any sense."
"No, you aren't…" Usagi began to argue, her face pinking.
"Children –" Ikuko began exhaustedly.
"Sumimasen, Tsukino-san," Mamoru apologised hastily.
"Mama, can Mamo-chan come over to play?" Usagi asked, remembering.
"I'm sure he can, sweetheart, but you should ask your father first," Ikuko closed her eyes momentarily before opening them again. "Mamoru-kun, would you like to hold Shingo? He's sleeping, so he shouldn't give you any fuss."
Mamoru's eyes widened. "Iie, I don't think so Tsukino-san, I might drop him –"
Ikuko smiled kindly. "Come and sit down; you won't drop him unless you shove him off your lap that way."
Mamoru obeyed dumbly, his arms reaching out hesitantly for the sleeping newborn. Usagi watched silently, crystal-blue eyes bright as her new friend cradled her new brother in his lap, supporting Shingo's head in the crook of his elbow. Usagi scrambled over to look a little more closely at Shingo, gently tracing the curve of his cheek with a finger. "I've changed my mind," she said suddenly. "He's not ugly, and I like him very much."
Mamoru gave her a wry, sideward glance. "That's because he's your brother, silly."
Silver-blonde eyebrows furrowed. "I know that, Mamo-chan."
The dark-haired boy sighed and looked back down at the little bundle sitting on his lap. His breath hitched as sleepy blue eyes gazed steadily back at him. Shingo squirmed lightly, yawned, and settled back into a deeper sleep.
Mamoru's smile was almost painful, it was so large. "Tenshi-chan! Did you see that?"
"Hai, Mamo-chan. Shingo likes you! You can be his big brother, and I can be his big sister, and –"
"Usagi-chan, please," Kenji laughed softly as he closed the door quietly behind him. His dark eyes were tender as he pressed a warm kiss to his wife's forehead. "How are you, koishii?"
"Better now that you're here," Ikuko smiled coyly.
Kenji rolled his eyes. "How cliché," he muttered, stifling a grin. He spotted Mamoru holding Shingo. "Mamoru-kun, would you mind if I took my son for a while?"
"Iie, he's your son, Tsukino-san," Mamoru kept carefully still as Kenji retrieved the baby from his lap.
Usagi, however, bounced over to Mamoru and gave him a hug. "Don't worry, Mamo-chan! You can hold him again when you come over to play!" She turned to her father, who raised a questioning brow. "Papa, can Mamo-chan come over today?"
Kenji shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't see why he shouldn't be able to come over – we'll have to speak to the orphanage, of course. Not today though, sweetheart."
Usagi sulked, but Mamoru felt light. He'd see her again! He'd be able to hold her baby brother, and maybe, just maybe, the loneliness would leave him for good.
Later, when Nurse Nasake had escorted her young charge back to his room, she watched him pick up a rose. Its petals were unbruised, the bloom a flawless one. He inhaled its delicate scent, and Nasake offered to bring him a little vase where he could keep it in water.
She would never forget the half-thoughtful, half-amused way he gazed up at her through his lashes as he politely declined.
"Iie, Nasake-san… I don't think it will need that."
At his words, somehow unseen, the flower shuddered and opened just a little further before freezing in a flash of silver and gold.
And so it began.
She was eight and attempting to build a sandcastle for her two-year-old brother when a pair of bullies her age stomped it cheerfully, kicking sand into Shingo's eyes. Furious, she rose to defend him but was swatted down by the larger boys. A sudden shadow cast over the bullies was the only warning they had before an enraged Mamoru grabbed both their collars and threw them bodily out of the playground sandbox.
would have done more, but a slight whimper from Usagi calmed him.
Shooting a dirty look at the cowering boys, he sighed, dragged his
schoolbag over from the bench he'd been sitting at and did his
homework in the sand instead, eyes flitting up every so often to warn
off any potential threats to his charges.
He was twelve and Tsukino Kenji took him aside quietly, ignoring his wife's wink and his daughter's questioning glance.
"Mamoru-kun, you've become a brother, a son and a friend to we Tsukinos, and it's past time I asked you if you would like to be part of our family officially?" Mamoru thought for a moment, digesting Kenji's words before he grinned.
"Really? Away from the orphanage? With you?" The dark-haired boy glowed before his eyes drifted towards Usagi, who was reading a manga on some kind of half-demon and a schoolgirl. His face sobered abruptly. "I don't know… I wouldn't want to impose –"
"Mamoru, you have never imposed, and I understand this is quite a decision for you to make."
Mamoru squared his shoulders and smiled at Kenji. "Iie, I think I know how to reply."
"You will, then?"
"Ano… iie, actually. I never knew you would tolerate me so much so as to actually adopt me, but… I think it is better this way."
Kenji watched how Mamoru's eyes never left his daughter and thought of the brand new shotgun he had bought only the day before. The Tsukino patriarch fought with himself for a moment before a large smile spread across his face. He clapped the boy he thought of as a son on the back and turned to leave. "Mamoru-kun, you may change your mind whenever you like, but the decision is all yours."
embraced her husband as he told her about the twelve-year-old's
decision and how the sapphire eyes never wavered from their daughter.
She thought fondly of how maybe, just maybe in later years that
Mamoru would be a more permanent part of their family after all.
She was twelve and starry-eyed over her first real crush. Mamoru gritted his teeth and manfully restrained himself from going out and pounding this ''Toki-kun'. He was sick and tired of hearing about 'Toki-this and 'Toki-that; it made a nauseous feeling well up somewhere in his stomach region. When he finally met the cheerful, grinning, good-looking son of the Crown Arcade owner, he shot one glance at her genuinely happy face, and although he had always taken great pleasure in her joy, something clenched in his chest and he had to look away.
He withdrew from her, growing increasingly cold and snappish, until one day a fortnight later she confronted him. He would never forget the words she spoke that day, nor the promise marked by the thin scars on both their right hands.
"Mamo-chan… no matter what, you're always the best guy."
"Even better than Motoki?"
"Of course! Besides, he has this crush on Reika – she's very pretty…"
"You're prettier. And what if you get a boyfriend? He won't like being told he's second-best."
"Somehow I don't think that's going to be a problem, Mamo-chan."
"'Somehow' just doesn't cut it!" Then, more quietly, "Tenshi-chan…"
"It'll have to do for now." A sharp intake of breath and a pair of dark sapphire eyes met crystal blue.
"What are you doing?"
"There's no promise stronger than blood." She handed him the tiny, carved ornamental blade he had found in a thrift shop and given to her for her twelfth birthday. She always wore it on a silver chain around her neck, and she had just used it to slash open her palm.
He raised his stricken gaze to her calm one. "Tenshi-chan!"
"Mamo-chan. I promise."
"Then I will as well. It's only fair." He took the knife from her and blood splashed down his fingers, too. Clasping hands and ignoring the pain, a sudden flash of silver and gold blinded them momentarily.
Their skin was unmarred, and only the fact that both hands were still wet with blood indicated that there had ever been a wound. That and the thin scars running through the head, heart, life and destiny lines of their palms.
they didn't seem to find this very frightening. Somehow, it felt
familiar, but they never spoke of it again. Somehow, he felt that the
promise was tainted simply because they had used her blood. The fact
that she would go to such measures to reassure him that she cared
brought him both fierce joy and pained guilt. He never really did
understand his emotions around her.
He was sixteen, and on his first date. Usagi had sulked all afternoon and most of the evening. Despite her mute disapproval, she did her best to help him get ready. He had protested laughingly that he could dress himself, and they played a short game of grab when she stole his new cologne – cologne that she'd bought for his last birthday – and refused to return it.
"You smell much nicer naturally," was her only explanation, and he flushed before she finally relented and allowed him to take the small bottle from her.
"Oh? And what do I smell like?" She looked thoughtfully up at him, he being over a head and a half taller than her five foot frame. "Well?"
"Fire," she finally answered. She stepped closer and hugged him, eyes closing as she inhaled deeply. "Sky."
He blinked, unsure of how to take this. "Fire and sky?"
"Fire and sky," she affirmed, "and summer breezes."
He stared at her for a moment before barking out a laugh. "I don't know how I'd have turned out if I'd never met you, but it can't be good."
She grinned at the compliment, snuggling further into his worn leather jacket. For a moment, he wondered just why he was preparing to go on a movie date with a girl he had no real interest in; he couldn't even remember her last name, or the colour of her eyes. Come to think of it, he couldn't quite fix the image of the girl in his head, and her first name eluded him, too. Usagi kept appearing, and every time she did, his lips moved silently. Tenshi, they would mouth, and he bit the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood.
Shaking his head forcibly, he rested his chin directly between the two round buns adorning her head, even eight years after their first meeting, and ten since their creation.
"Well, what about me?"
He grinned down at her. "What about you?" He winced as she ground her slipper-clad foot painfully onto his newly-polished boots. "Itai!"
"Serves you right. What about me?"
He inhaled deeply then, simply because he could, and felt his lips turn upwards into a broad smile. "Wildflowers." He held her just a little tighter. "Spring nights. Light."
"Don't be silly – you can't smell light," she scrunched her face up lightly, drawing back slightly from his hug.
He couldn't resist. "Iie – I can smell you."
She had to laugh. "Corny. Real corny, Mamo-kun." His heart twinged painfully. The suffix '-kun' had been added to his name after their first, and only remotely large fight. He supposed it wasn't so bad, considering '-chan' implied he was little and…cute. Still, it hurt that she would change his childhood nickname due to something stupid he'd done. She, on the other hand, had always been 'Tenshi' to him. The week-long period they had ignored each other were the darkest seven eternities he had ever faced.
her expectant face and remembered what she'd said, responding
belatedly. "And don't you forget it," he forced a grin,
checking his reflection in the mirror one last time before going to
get his keys. When Usagi brushed up against him as they jostled each
other to get through the door first, she sniffed lightly and then
smiled. He hadn't used the cologne.
Neither could pinpoint when it had happened, only how it did, and that she was nearly sixteen, and he almost eighteen. Mamo-kun again became Mamo-chan, and Tenshi-chan became Tenshi-ko.
It had been a mere slip of the tongue, really. He was tickling her mercilessly on the carpeted floor of his new apartment, and she gasped for air between shrieks of laughter. "Mamo-chan, matte, onegai…"
So startled he had been, he paused momentarily before pressing a tender kiss to her forehead, feeling as if everything had fallen back into place. "As you wish, Tenshiko."
smiled, and his cheeks had warmed, but neither took back their words.
It had been ten years, yet their friendship persisted and persevered. She was sixteen, and a sophomore in high school. He was eighteen and a senior at the same public school she went to despite his newly-discovered inheritance, which meant he could go to the more prestigious institute. Despite her protests, he had stuck stubbornly to his decision, re-enrolled at Moto Azabu, and instead used his own savings to buy the black and chrome motorcycle he had been ogling since his thirteenth birthday.
"What about the Ferrari?" she'd asked curiously, referring to his pride and joy, the car he had bought off a second-hand dealer before restoring it himself.
"The Ferrari stays," he'd responded amusedly. "It's a great chick-magnet, after all."
Usagi had slapped him upside the head for that. "Why would you need a 'chick-magnet' when you've got me?"
"By 'chick', I meant a girl who finds me attractive and doesn't pop up as my girlfriend attempts to give me my first kiss."
"Yeah, about that – you're pretty pathetic. Eighteen and never been kissed."
"You're just as pathetic as I am; you haven't even had a boyfriend yet."
"Only because you've scared them all away."
"None of them were good enough for you."
A short pause. "How exactly did we start from talking about cars to complimenting me?"
"Would you prefer I insulted you?"
"Iie, iie," she said hastily. "Compliment away."
And through it all, the rose that she had given him a decade ago was kept in a simple crystal vase, its fragrance and beauty immortal, dew still frozen on the half-open bloom. The areas where she had removed the thorns had healed over, leaving an unmarked, surprisingly tough, dark green stem.
Both Mamoru and Usagi never questioned this, just as they had not wondered further about the blood-promise ritual. Some things simply were, they knew, and the rose and the promise would stay so.
And so it was, and so it remained.
Until one day…
kakera ni tsukiakari—'broken pieces/splinters in the moonlight'
mukashi mukashi—'once upon a time'. Literally, 'long ago'. A traditional beginning to tales.
tanin—'another person; an unrelated person; an outsider; a stranger'. (Begins with the same kanji as Chiba and can be read as 'earth person', which amuses Jikkan-chan immensely.)
sumimasen—'please excuse my behaviour/actions'.
Nasake—'compassion, sympathy, understanding.'