Green Eyed Monster
Chapter 1: "With friends like these . . "
A Sailor Moon fanfic
By Bill K.
Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2005 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2005 by Bill K.
As always, for those only familiar with the English dub:
May 17, 2004.
Usagi forced herself away from her drawing board. It was time to go and she'd already adjusted the figure in panel two four times. Even though it still didn't look right, it would have to do for now.
"You haven't forgotten what day this is, have you?" Luna said, her voice dripping with reproach. The black cat appeared suddenly at the foot of Usagi's drawing board.
"No I haven't forgotten what day this is!" Usagi mimicked sarcastically. She cautiously stored her drawing pencil away in her tool kit. Once again she glanced at the page in frustration. "It's just - - it has to be perfect, Luna! This manga could be my big break!"
"I quite understand," Luna told her. "A little time away from your drawing board may be all you need. You've a very good story. I told you that when I proofread your script. And you're more than capable of producing fine visuals."
"Fine isn't good enough," Usagi said, fishing through her closet for a fresh blouse. "This has to blow the editors away! Otherwise I'll be stuck being an assistant most of my life - - not that I mind working for Baishaku-san."
"Well I can't claim to be in tune with what the masses like, since I despise drivel like 'Dragon Courage Challenge' and such," scowled the black cat, "but mark my word, Usagi. 'Fire Princess Rika' will be a success." She glanced at the clock. "Now run along or you'll be late for your bus!"
"I wish Mamo-chan could drive me," pouted Usagi.
"Mamoru has to work. A resident physician's hours are not his own. Now scat!"
"All right!" fumed Usagi and exited the apartment. Once the door slammed, Luna allowed herself a knowing smirk. Over the years she'd come to understand just how much fun Rei had provoking Usagi.
The twenty-six year old woman scurried down to the bus stop, anticipation crowding out her peevishness over Luna's bossy attitude. For today was the day - - Ami was coming home! For good! She'd finally achieved her doctoral degree in medicine from Oxford University in England and she was coming home! Usagi's circle of close friends would be complete again. Eight years with only e-mail communication and three visits seemed like an eternity. But now it was over. Usagi checked her watch. Ami's plane was due in at four-thirty.
"Oh, where is that bus!" fumed Usagi. "One of these days I've got to learn how to drive"
"Hello, Dr. Mizuno," the head nurse said. Her two assistants echoed the greeting.
Dr. Kaname Mizuno acknowledged the greeting briefly and economically, as she always did, then turned her concentration to the patient chart in her hand. Still a handsome woman at forty-four with her slim figure, short cropped black hair and tender features, she was nonetheless all business when on duty. There was no denying Dr. Mizuno's ability as a pediatrician. She was very skilled and that skill had been both very rewarding and very lucrative.
But few people on staff were close to Kaname Mizuno. She was a very demanding perfectionist and that put some people off. Diplomacy was sometimes difficult for her and that put others off. And there was a guarded side to her. Longtime members of the hospital staff knew a different side to her long ago, a side they didn't see very often anymore. The loss of a husband to divorce and the loss of her only child to adulthood and study abroad had sent Dr. Mizuno diving into her work to compensate for a home life that no longer seemed to exist. Some had tried to intercede - - several of the male doctors had tried to woo her, for she was still attractive, and several women had offered to set her up with men they knew. Faced with her carefully reasoned counters to their arguments and the "iron fist in a velvet glove" demeanor of Dr. Mizuno, such attempts always died.
"I want to pop in on the Kojima infant," Dr. Mizuno told the duty nurse, "then I'll be leaving early."
"Really?" the nurse replied with surprise. Dr. Mizuno NEVER left early.
The doctor flashed a slightly guilty smile - - something else she never did.
"Yes," Dr. Mizuno whispered. "My daughter's coming back from England today."
"Congratulations, Dr. Mizuno," the nurse beamed. "She's graduated?"
"First in her class, of course," Dr. Mizuno replied proudly. The other two nurses watched in amazement. It was a side of the doctor they'd never seen. "I only wish I could have attended the ceremony. Her father was there. Fortunately he wasn't in the middle of a painting, so he remembered." Mizuno smiled wistfully. "He was thoughtful enough to record the ceremony on DVD and overnight it to me." Suddenly embarrassed, Dr. Mizuno closed the chart. "Well I've wasted enough time on reminiscing. Time to get back to . . ."
Dr. Mizuno was cut off by an alarm from a vital signs monitor. As one Mizuno and the nurses turned to the board of monitors. The monitor signaling was for Baby Togama in the nursery. It was indicating no pulse or respiration - - a code blue flatline.
"Code Blue!" shouted one of the junior nurses while Dr. Mizuno and the others raced for the nursery.
When they arrived, the nursery duty nurse was already attempting cardio-pulmonary massage on the tiny infant's chest. Sensing the arrivals, she glanced up at Dr. Mizuno as the doctor quickly examined the situation. Not wasting time with orders, she snatched up a syringe and bottle from the cardio-pulmonary crash cart just arriving. The drug was injected while a nurse put an oxygen mask over the cold, motionless infant's face.
They did all they could. They tried to drag the infant back to life, tried with every scrap of knowledge learned in medical school and years of practice. But nothing seemed to work. Finally, realizing against her fervent hopes that there was no longer any hope, Dr. Mizuno's shoulders slumped. She straightened up. The nurses looked up at her with dread.
"I have to call it," she whispered, empty and beaten. "Time of death," and she glanced at the clock, "three fifty-six pm."
Reluctantly one nurse recorded it on the chart. The others solemnly began to pack away materials and notify the morgue. Dr. Mizuno turned to go.
"Dr. Mizuno," the nursery duty nurse said, her voice hollow and distant. "I don't understand it."
"Understand what?" Mizuno asked.
"He was fine. He was the healthiest baby in here! He-he was going home tomorrow! Why would he just - - die like that? There's nothing wrong! There isn't even an indication of sudden infant death syndrome! I don't understand!"
"I don't see any purpose in speculating," Dr. Mizuno replied. "A post-mortem should give us the answers, if the family allows it. In the meantime, assemble all the records so I can go over them. Maybe I can spot something - - some mistake."
"Yes, Doctor," the duty nurse replied.
Dr. Mizuno glanced at the clock again and sighed.
"I'm sorry, Ami," she thought. "I guess I'm going to miss ANOTHER part of your life"
At the airport, Rei impatiently glanced at her watch again. It was nearly four-thirty and no one was here but her. The last thing she wanted was to be the only person there to greet Ami's return. Usagi and Minako being late wasn't really a surprise. But Makoto was usually more responsible than this - - and she'd been very eager to see Ami again. And Ami's mother?
"I hope she wasn't delayed by a patient," the young priest thought. "Ami will really be disappointed."
The thunderous clop of impractical shoes on the airport's tile floor alerted Rei to her approach. She turned and spotted Usagi huffing and puffing down the hall. Despite her ire, a smile curled on the young priest's lips.
"Glad you could make it," Rei said gruffly.
"The bus was late!" Usagi snapped defiantly. "Where's everybody else?"
"That's what I'm wondering."
"Oh, Rei, that's a lovely outfit!"
Though she was a struggling priest at a struggling shrine, Rei Hino still had an accomplished fashion sense. She wore a very tight, very short red skirt, a red bolero jacket over a black open collar blouse, black hose and red pumps. It took Usagi two glimpses to realize that the outfit was cobbled together from other ensembles previously worn. Her mouth screwed up into a pout, for it was light-years more stylish than her own white blouse, blue skirt and three inch heels.
"You honestly can wear anything," Usagi muttered playfully. "Do you realize how much I hate you for that?"
"Do YOU realize how much I love it that you hate me for that?" smirked Rei.
"Hey, guys!" Makoto called out. They both turned and spotted the still towering woman working her way down the corridor. In her arms was a bundle wrapped in a blanket, eliciting a squeal of anticipation from Usagi.
"Is that Akiko?" Usagi exclaimed.
"Of course," Makoto smiled. "You don't think I'd deprive my girl of meeting her Aunt Ami for the first time, do you?"
Crowding around Makoto, Usagi and Rei peered in while Rei gently pulled the blanket back. Cradled against her mother's breast, four month old Akiko Ikegami slept.
"Oh, she is just the cutest thing alive!" cooed Usagi. "Mako-chan, you are so lucky!"
"She seems to get prettier every day," Rei beamed. "So how's motherhood been treating you?"
Makoto sighed. "Rei, I love her to death and I'd do anything for her, but sometimes I wonder if somebody switched out my real baby with a demon."
"She's only four months and already she is the most willful, stubborn, demanding little thing I've ever encountered!"
"You probably spoil her," Usagi replied.
"And sometimes I think she does it on purpose! The minute I decide I want something for her, she automatically wants the opposite! She's a demon, I tell you!" Makoto then softened. "But she's my little demon and I love her."
"Well anytime you get tired of her, I'll take her," Rei offered.
"Get in line, Rei!" Usagi barked. They glared playfully at each other, then broke into giggles.
"EEEEE! Is that my gorgeous little niece you've got there!" Minako squealed across the plaza, drawing curious stares from other people. Rei winced in embarrassment while Usagi and Makoto exchanged knowing smirks.
"Do you ALWAYS have to make an entrance?" Rei asked sourly.
"Of course. Is this a trick question?" Minako responded. Instantly her attention shifted to Akiko. The blonde leaned in and rubbed noses with the infant. "Oh, Akiko, you just get more adorable every day!"
"I wonder how adorable you'd think she was when she's messed her diaper, Blondie," Makoto smirked.
"Why do you think I've never had children," Minako smirked back. "This way I get all the good parts and none of the mess." Minako leaned in again and made strange gurgling sounds to the now awake and curious infant.
"And I always called her a dumb blonde," Makoto quipped to Rei and Usagi. They both smirked in return.
"Any new leads on parts?" Rei asked.
"Nothing concrete," Minako answered. "But my agent's looking at scripts and Toshi-chan has his ear to the ground."
"So 'Sure Cure For Swelling' is definitely canceled?" Usagi asked.
"Yep. D.O.A. after one season," Minako replied. "Of course the only thing I mind about that is being out of work. It wasn't exactly a role I could shine in."
"I thought you were very funny," Usagi offered. "I know Mamo-chan didn't like it, but it wasn't because of you."
"Yeah," Minako replied wistfully. "I think I'd like to do another comedy. Toshi-chan thinks I've got pretty good comic timing and it's nice to just be able to be goofy. But I miss singing. If none of the scripts pan out, I may just go back on the club circuit."
Just then the four women became aware of a presence behind them. Turning, they found a well-dressed, business-like man in his late forties staring enraptured at Rei. Immediately the other three moved into defensive positions around her.
"Did you want something?" Rei asked, perturbed and not shy about showing it.
"Oh, that's even better," the man gasped happily.
"What is?" the priest demanded.
"Oh, I apologize," the man said, shaking his head. "Look, I'm sure someone like you hears this a lot, but I think you have tremendous potential to be a fashion model."
"I've already got a boyfriend," Rei replied acidly, her arms folded across her chest. When she noticed Usagi about to correct her, Rei stepped on her foot.
"And I'm sure he feels very fortunate," the man smiled knowingly.
Sticking his hand into his coat pocket, he produced a business card and handed it to her. Rei glanced at it, while Usagi and Minako peered over her shoulder. It seemed legitimate, but anyone could have business cards printed.
"THE KANO AGENCY!" Minako shrieked. "You're with The Kano Agency?"
"Is that good?" Rei asked, perplexed by Minako's sudden frenzy.
"I'm a photographer with them," the man said, focused on Rei the entire time.
"Wow! What a small world!" Minako beamed, easing in front of Rei. "I've done some modeling, you know. Well, you could probably tell. Ah hah hah hah hah!"
"Congratulations," he told Minako, then returned his gaze to Rei. "My offer is serious. I don't mean to be immodest, but I've got an eye for these things. Please consider it. If you want to try it, just call the number on the card and set up an appointment with my secretary." He bowed to the group. "And please forgive me for intruding."
"O-OK," Rei whispered, stunned. "I-I'll think about it."
The stranger smiled at her, then walked off into the airport. Minako stared after him like he'd just burned down her home. Then she turned and stared at Rei.
"Do you suppose he's serious?" Makoto asked.
"If you want, I'll go home and search every fashion magazine I have until I find his name," Usagi offered.
"Why don't we just call the agency and find out if he works there," Makoto countered.
"Oh - - yeah, we could do that, too," Usagi squeaked. "So, Rei, are you going to do it?"
"I don't know," Rei murmured, still in shock. "It might be fun to find out what it's like."
"Oh, I can't wait to see you walking down the runway in the latest designer clothes!" Usagi squealed.
Minako continued to stare.
"Announcing British Airways Flight 207 arriving from Vienna at gate twelve," blared the airport intercom. Instantly the group headed for the gate. As they waited, Rei peered out a window onto the tarmac.
"Is the plane down yet?" Makoto asked nervously. Usagi looked at her curiously.
"Yeah, I can see it taxiing up to the gate," Rei replied. She noticed Makoto's tension as well. Then a lightbulb went off over her. "Oh."
"Yeah," Makoto offered self-consciously. "I can never relax until the plane actually lands safely, you know."
The wait seemed to take an eternity. But finally Usagi spotted Ami in the crowd of disembarking passengers. Again the clop of impractical shoes betrayed her and Ami had time to brace herself before impact.
"OH AMI, PROMISE ME YOU'RE HOME FOR GOOD!" Usagi wailed, hugging the woman to within an inch of her life.
"I promise, Usagi!" Ami giggled, enjoying every moment of her reunion. "No more vagabond student's life for me. I'm back home and I'm home to stay."
"Good to hear," Rei beamed. "We've all missed you these past eight years, Ami."
"And I've missed you all as well," Ami replied. She looked around. "Mother's not here?"
"No," grimaced Rei.
"I guess she was delayed at the hospital," Ami whispered, trying to hide her disappointment.
"Well don't worry, we'll take good care of you," Minako told her. "We'll party hearty until you can't stand it - - which, knowing you, will probably be about an hour from now."
"Akiko," Makoto whispered, holding the infant up until she could look directly at Ami. "Meet your Aunt Ami."
Ami gasped, her hands going to her mouth. "Oh my, Akiko! Makoto, she's so precious! She's twice as beautiful as the pictures you sent me!" Ami gently held out her finger. Akiko wrapped her little stubs of fingers around it curiously, then looked up and examined Ami's face. "She seems perfectly healthy, too."
"Yeah, and I think the healthiest part of her is her lungs," Makoto quipped. "So, doing anything tonight?"
"I wanted to stop by Mother's and leave my bags. Why?"
"Because it's now a tradition that we take you to dinner the night you return from England," smiled Usagi.
"And since Akiko's too young to be up that late in a public place, we're having it at Makoto and Sanjuro's place," Minako added.
Ami looked at Makoto curiously.
"I insisted," Makoto smiled warmly. "Besides, I had to quit the restaurant to take care of Akiko, so there's no other place to go." Ami started to protest, but Makoto held up a hand. "Before you start, San-san loves the idea. It'll be a little cramped with Mamoru and Toshihiro there, too, but we can manage. And I want to cook for you, Ami. It's my way of saying 'welcome back'."
"Then I guess I can't refuse," Ami smiled shyly.
"So do we have to call you 'Mizuno-sensei' now?" Minako asked.
"Of course," Ami replied haughtily. Minako and Usagi stared, unsure. Then Ami broke into a wide smile and everybody realized that their shy little Ami Mizuno - - Doctor Ami Mizuno now - - had grown a sense of humor while at Oxford, too.
And everybody laughed - - even Akiko.
Continued in Chapter 2