This songfic (gasp! Not another one!) is set post-Stars, after Crystal Tokyo has been set up and everyone, including the Kinmokusei senshi, have created and begun to settle into their new lives. The main characters, in fact, the only characters, are Yaten and Minako. The song "Martha" is by the very talented Meat Loaf (yes, I love Meat Loaf, okay? So sue me. To me his songs are filled with deep emotion, passion and sometimes beautiful pathos.)

All kinds of feedback and constructive criticism welcome. I would recommend listening to the song "Martha" before, during or after reading this fic to appreciate this fully, though of course you don't have to.

Song lyrics are in bold italics, thoughts in normal italics.


*This is it. This must be Crystal Tokyo. The peaceful sanctuary of the universe, and it's Sailor Moon's creation -- no, Neo-Queen Serenity's. And the rest of the senshi... all of them... her, too...

I wonder if they'll remember me? I wonder if she will?

There she is.*

And indeed, there she was, leaning up against a tree, gazing out onto a shimmering lake. The look of age in her eyes marred and belied her otherwise youthful appearance. Her body's aging process halted forever in late adolescence, -- Just like mine did, the newcomer mused -- she would be approaching the age of sixty, rather than the sixteen her deceitful appearance suggested. That long hair was still radiantly blonde, despite the advances of time. And yes, that trademark red ribbon was still crowning her pretty head.

(Operator, number please --
It's been so many years
And she'll remember my old voice
While I fight the tears..)

The sound of a shoe scuffle alerted the woman to the presence of someone else. Turning, she mumbled a "Who's there?" with much less cheer or excitement than the visitor ever recalled hearing before. A troubled frown began to form in jade-green eyes, but quickly vanished as her blue eyes widened in surprise, a delighted smile restoring her face to what was familiar, remembered... cherished.

"Yaten-kun! No, sorry, StarHealer! You're here!" And the Kinmoku native found herself gripped in a bear hug that resembled a stranglehold. *Well, at least she's cheered up now.*

Grinning, Healer gently detached Minako's arms and stepped back a step, brushing her fringe out of her face and nodding. "Yeah, I'm back." Narrowing her eyes, she teased in mock irritation, "Please, NO autographs."

Minako laughed, a beautiful sound to match the magnificence of the garden they were in -- Healer presumed it was a palace garden. "I doubt it, though I'm sure the other senshi will be pleased to see you again. AND Luna," she added slyly. "I can't say Artemis will be pleased though -- he and Luna have Diana now..."

Healer smiled before detransforming into Yaten, attired in simple Earth clothing. When the detransformation was over, Yaten stumbled, and would have fallen if Minako hadn't caught him.

"Yaten-kun! What's wrong?

Yaten waved her away before standing, a little shakily. "I'm all right. It's just the long journey here -- it can be draining."

(Hello, hello there, is this Martha?
This is old Tom Frost.
And I am calling long distance
Don't worry about the cost...)

Minako was worried. *Why would he travel all the way here at such expense to his energy, unless...* "Has Neo-Queen Kakyuu sent you because of some kind of emergency?" she asked, suddenly looking serious. If this was senshi business...

Yaten shook his head. "If it were that, she'd have come herself, along with Seiya," he said, making a half-hearted face. "And I wouldn't have come in that case. Probably Taiki wouldn't, either. Do you have any idea how sickeningly kissy-kissy they are to be around when they're together? Yeuch." Yaten pretended to shiver in disgust, though he really didn't mind it at all, even if he was a little jealous...

"Liar. You would have gone with them, and so would have Taiki, because that's your job, right?" Minako said, pointing her finger at Yaten and grinning. "Ha! Argue your way out of that!"

Since he couldn't, Yaten just made another face. "I'm here on holiday."


"Holiday. You know, that thing that happens when your ruler gives you time off work? That. I was given one, and I... decided to spend it here. Oh," he added, "and Taiki's holiday is next. Tell Ami that she'll have a visitor soon, too."

"But why here? Why not somewhere on your own planet?" *Not that I'm complaining... it's been a long time since I saw any of the Lights. About forty years...*

Yaten shrugged. "I... no real reason. Just wanted to see how you lot were all faring without our help." Looking out on Crystal Tokyo, he raised an eyebrow and said, "Well, it seems you did okay -- better than I thought you would."

"Hey!" Minako protested. "What did you say?"

Yaten's lips twitched into a small grin. "So. Are we just going to stand around here, or are you going to show me around?"

"Fine." Minako faked sulking elaborately, and Yaten repressed a snicker.

Twenty minutes later, they were wandering casually down the streets of Crystal Tokyo, until Minako stopped outside a cafe. "I think I'd like some coffee. Want something?"

Now that Yaten thought about it, he was still tired. Despite his earlier protestation of being fine, he found himself having to force movement from shaky, leaden legs, and hiding it from Minako was becoming more and more difficult. Sitting down seemed like a very good idea right now. "That sounds fine," he told her.

Minako grabbed his arm and lead him into the small cafe. She was positive that if she didn't get him to have a rest within two seconds, he'd collapse. As she found a small table and sat them down, a waiter noticing their arrival and approaching their table, she smiled. "You know," she commented, "Forty years ago I would have killed for the chance to do this." At Yaten's puzzled glance, she clarified, "Go out for a drink with you, I mean."

Her jaw dropped when Yaten ducked his head, an embarrassed smile on his face, and his cheeks getting more -- red? Could he actually be blushing? *Yaten*? No, impossible...

(It's been forty years or more
Now Martha, please recall
And meet me out for coffee
Where we'll talk about it all...)

***Later that day...***

Between fits of giggles, Minako gasped out, "Oh, I remember that! We all had to choose a school sport, and I was playing volleyball with Taiki. He was actually a pretty good player. I know Seiya was good at baseball -- trying to teach Usagi --" at the memory, both of them went off into fits of giggles again, their cups of coffee half-drained in front of them.

Recovering somewhat, Yaten wiped his eyes. "Yes. I pretty much picked basketball at random, 'cause I didn't really know what it was, and I didn't want to do baseball. Afterwards, though, I wish I had. At least Seiya would have been able to help me with that. All the other guys playing basketball were Taiki's height, at least! Geez, you'd think they'd tell the person from another planet that basketball is a sport for TALL people!"

"They didn't," Minako giggled, "know that," and she gasped for breath, "you weren't from around here!"

"That's not the point! I already had to pretend I was a guy, a student, and the idol singer with a yellow rose, of all things, when all I wanted to do back then was find the princess -- and they wouldn't let me get out of that stupid sport once I'd signed up for it! I was so mad!"

Minako smiled at the memory, but then a thought struck her. "Hey, what was it with the roses, anyhow? You had yellow, Taiki had white..."

Yaten shrugged. "It was pretty much a gimmick thought up by our manager. But Taiki and Seiya liked roses, and liked the idea, so I just went along with it. Not that I minded. To us, roses were beautiful flowers, exotic and alien, exciting. I think yellow roses are nice, anyhow."

"Oh, they are. They suited you," Minako assured him, earning a small "Hmph" from Yaten in reply. But he was smiling.

"Well, it was Taiki's idea, so thank him when he comes. But I'm surprised he played the volleyball with you without trying to get out of it so he could go home and write. That was his safety valve back then -- reading and writing. Still is. Especially poetry. He did most of our song lyrics, actually."


Yaten nodded, looking momentarily serious. "You wouldn't guess it, but there's actually a lot going on behind that cool, unruffled face. If Taiki hadn't had his poetry to obsess over -- and the need to score higher than Ami-chan, of course -- I think he would have cracked."

Minako nodded. "Yeah. You have to have something to hold on to, in times like you were in," she murmured sympathetically. "That's why Usagi encouraged me to go for the contest -- to give me something else to think about."

"Yes. Sorry -- about yelling at you that time. I thought you were just obsessed with yourself, deliberately pretending there was no tomorrow, no consequences. I shouldn't have taken everything out on you, any more than I should have blamed Seiya for being the only one able to let go of his grief, even if it was only a little bit. And Taiki always had his head in a book or the computer... I thought they were crazy, especially Seiya, immersing themselves in other things like that, but it stopped them from obsessing over Galaxia to the point of insanity. Stopped them from totally cracking."

"So," Mianko asked tentatively, unsure of what to make of the disturbed look of Yaten's face, "What did you obsess over?"

Yaten was silent.

(And those were days of roses
Poetry and prose and Martha --
All I had was you and all you had was me.
And there were no tomorrows
As we packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day...)

"So what happened after that?"

Yaten made a face. "The marriage just broke up. We weren't really suited to each other at all -- I wasn't even in love, really. But I had to have at least one child -- you know, to carry on the Healer starseed."

Minako nodded. "I know what you mean. I've got a son and daughter too, now, but their father and I are having a few problems right now. Oh, nothing drastic," she quickly added calmly, "Just a small fight, that's all. That's why I went to the gardens, because i was feeling a little down, but it'll blow over. I have faith in Toshio. Before him, I just couldn't get a relationship right. Stupid, really -- I'm the senshi of love, and I couldn't keep anyone's love or interest for very long, now matter how good I tried to be. I tried interesting, eccentric and eyecatching, efficient, energetic tomboy, hardworking, reliable, the woman of mystery... take your pick, I've tried the approach. And it never worked."

"Have you tried just being yourself?" Yaten pointed out. "You should. I can't be bothered acting like anyone but myself."

"Liar." Yaten looked at her sharply, but Minako just went on. "You always act meaner than you are, to scare people away so you don't have to take the chance of being hurt."

Yaten blinked, astonsished into silence for a few moments, before collecting himself and opening his mouth to retort. But Minako beat him to it.

"Besides," she said, shrugging and taking another sip of her cooling coffee, "I tried being myself around you, and it didn't work. You didn't like me the way I was, any more than any of the other guys did."

Yaten sputtered for a moment. "Now wait a minute! I never said..."

"You didn't have to. But then, you never exactly gave the impression of liking anybody, so I guess that's not the best way to judge. Besides, it's all way in the past now."

Yaten was still for a moment, then sighed and nodded, looking at the tabletop. "Yeah, it is."

(And I feel so much older now
And you're much older, too...
Oh, how's the husband and how's the kids?
You know that I got married too?

Oh lucky that you found someone
To make you feel secure
Oh, 'cause we were all so young and foolish
And now we are mature...)

"Still," he pointed out, "I liked you enough to go to that movie, didn't I? Remember that?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Minako, jolting upright in her seat, eyes sparkling with the memory. "I can't believe I actually managed to talk you into it! Especially since Taiki was so stubborn and wouldn't go."

Yaten tried and dismally failed to hold back a sudden coughing fit as he choked on his coffee. After a few minutes of frantic, and rather overenthusiastic, pounding on the back by Minako, Yaten managed to get his breath back. "You asked Taiki to go? Oh I wish I could have seen that. And if he'd actually GONE to it! I would have paid good money to see how he'd have reacted! Probably something like 'This is not a logical progression of events.' It would have been priceless."

"Yeah," Minako agreed, then added with a sly grin, "but I'm glad you were the one to give in to my nagging."

"I don't know how you got me to do it, but somehow you did. Oh, yes, that's right, you nagged me until I got so exasperated I said 'Yes, I'll go, just leave me in peace!'" Yaten recalled, smirking at the memory.

"Actually, it was more like shrieking."

"I did not shriek at you!"

"Did so."

"Did not. Although it wasn't quite the movie the tickets said it would be," reflected Yaten, remembering how the tickets had proclaimed "XX rated" or some other rating supposed to mean restricted to those over 21. But in the end, despite all Minako's valiant efforts to disguise their true ages, they were caught, and when she insisted on sneaking into the cinema anyway, they had sneaked into the wrong showing. Luckily, that movie had also seemed sufficiently 'adult' for Minako to enjoy it. Frankly, Yaten hadn't understood at the time what all the fuss was about.

(And those were days of roses
Poetry and prose and Martha --
All I had was you and all you had was me.
And there were no tomorrows
As we packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day...)

"Still, it was an... interesting movie. Tell me, is the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' still a," he wracked his brains for the right phrase, "a 'cult classic'?"

"You remember what it was!" Minako clapped her hands in delight.

"How could I forget? The audience yelling out at the top of their lungs gave me a headache. I thought that was so strange -- that's considered extremely rude on Kinmokusei. The movie itself wasn't too weird, though."

Minako laughed. "Only for Kinmokusei people. It was pretty radical for us at the time it was made -- We Earth people are mostly stuck with the gender we're born with."

Yaten nodded. "That was so weird -- to be suddenly stuck in one gender all the time. I've never understood how humans cope so well with that. The only time that happens on Kinmokusei is when I'm in senshi form, and I'm female. Otherwise, I can usually choose my gender like choosing an outfit, if I want to. Imagine how I felt when I was suddenly stuck in the one gender all the time. It wasn't that I would have wanted to change gender a million times a day or anything, but just the sheer fact that I'd had the choice taken away from me sometimes made me feel sick. I mean, physically sick. And then there was the differences between here and Kinmoku, mentally speaking."


"Earth people don't have any shields around their emotions, like most Kinmokuseians do, and I wasn't ready for it. I had this constant headache -- trying to block everyone's emotions was pretty tiring. I felt tired and sick and my head just never stopped aching...I kept feeling like I was going to snap completely, so I kept shoving people away so their emotions wouldn't be so -- overwhelming. *That's* why I treated people meanly, just so they'd go away and leave me alone," he added firmly. "NOT because I was scared of getting hurt or anything silly like that. I'm not afraid of that kind of thing."

(And I was always so impulsive...
I guess that I still am.
But all that really mattered then
Was that I was a man)

Minako just nodded, with a "Whatever you say, but you can't fool ME" look on her face. *I remember, Yaten-kun... You probably don't remember or even realise what you said, but I remember...* Before he could press his case, however, she sighed in remembrance and added wistfully, "Well, thanks for putting up with going to the movie with me, even if you hated it. I had fun."

Yaten shrugged. "I... didn't exactly hate it, even though I said I did. I didn't really mean it. I mean, the movie was okay, and then, well... you were pretty enthusiastic." With a chuckle at the memory, he added, "You were actually more fun to watch than the movie. I didn't know whether I wanted to laugh or to..." *to hug you*

"To what?"

"Oh, n-nothing." *to tell you* "It was just some silly thought, and I pushed it away instantly, you know, tried to concentrate on my mission."

"Yes, but to do what?"

*To kiss you* "To... join in. But I didn't know the jokes off by heart like you did."

Their coffee and cake finally finished hours after it had been ordered, and the bill paid, the two began a leisurely stroll back to the hotel Yaten had made prior arrangements with. Minako had tried to persuade him to come stay at her house, but without success. "Toshio-san may not appreciate an unexpected guest," Yaten pointed out, feeling a bit uncomfortable at mentioning Minako's husband. And he definitely didn't want to sleep under the same roof as Minako's new family...

"Nonsense!" Minako protested loudly. But Yaten refused to budge, so she eventually relented and said, "All right. But I'm going to be here to show you around Crystal Tokyo some more, and I want you to see my house and Toshio and my children and Artemis, and I expect to hear more of what's going on over at Kinmokusei! As they say, a friend in need is definately a friend." A pause, then, "I think I got that one right, didn't I?"

Yaten sighed. "I guess I have no choice, then. Thank you, Minako-chan. I appreciate your hospitality. And no, that isn't the right proverb... but I think yours is better."

Minako looked at him carefully as they stood outside the hotel. It was a nice hotel, with a tiny, neatly designed garden plot just outisde the front entrance, filled entirely with roses. Their sweet purfume lightly scented the air. *Yes,* she thought, *he's much better than he was when he arrived here. A decent night's sleep and he'll be well again.*

Yaten smiled. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow then."

Minako clasped his hand tightly in both of hers. "It's been so good to see you again, Yaten-kun. You have no idea how lonely it can sometimes be when all your friends other than the senshi have gotten old... even Toshio's getting older now..."

Yaten nodded softly. It was the same situation on Kinmokusei, after all. "It was good to see you again too, Minako-chan. More than you realise."

(I guess that our being together
Was never meant to be
Oh but Martha, oh Martha
I love you, can't you see?)

Yaten smiled suddenly. "What will Toshio-san say when you tell him you've been on a date with somebody else all day?"

Minako laughed. "Oh, he's still a little jealous of you... but he'll get over it, I'm sure."

"Jealous of me?" Yaten was mystified.

"Yes. Because all the senshi talk about you, all four of you, a lot. Because I still keep a picture of the three of you singing your hearts out, baring your emotions for all to see in the hopes of finding one person. I still think that's so loyal and beautiful... And because of your present." At Yaten's bewildered look, she reminded him, "Do you remember what you gave me on our last date, when we left the movie and you drove me home? When you dropped me off at my apartment building and said goodbye?"

Yaten paused for a moment, then idly picked a rose from the bush growing nearest him. A pale yellow rose. He brought it to his face for a moment, smelling the sweetness of the, to him, alien flower, then presented it wordlessly to Minako, who accepted it reverently.

"I still keep that first one pressed in my diary, so it didn't shrivel and die, only to have to be thrown away. I couldn't bear for it to disappear like that, somehow. So I pressed it and kept it. It still exists, forty years after... well, after the date that wasn't. I mean, I nagged and wheedled you into it, and you were uncomfortable the whole way through. I'm surprised you gave it to me at all, really..."

(And those were days of roses
Poetry and prose and Martha --
All I had was you and all you had was me.
And there were no tomorrows
As we packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day...)

Yaten closed his eyes, just for a moment. When he spoke, his voice was a hoarse whisper. "And do you remember what you gave me after I gave you the rose?"

Of course she remembered. She remembered it as clearly as yesterday.

She'd kissed him. She'd thrown her arms around him in a moment of overenthusiastic lack of thought and kissed him exurberantly, only to have him pull away, looking embarrassed and infuriated.

"Don't do that to me! I don't love you. I don't love anybody," he'd said.

Or maybe he'd meant to, wanted to, but she remembered. She knew. For once, his attempts to be mean, to keep the hurt at bay had failed with a slip of the tongue.

What he'd actually said was, "Don't do that to me! I can't love you. I can't love anybody."

Minako blinked in surprise, wondering why Yaten had asked, but not before he had leaned forward and lightly brushed her cheek with his lips. She froze in shock, her fingers gripping, clasping the stem of the rose so tightly the thorns sliced through skin, causing tiny rivulets of blood to ooze out.

After a few seconds, Yaten moved away and opened his eyes, looking at her with a sad smile, full of loss and regrets and resignation. But most painful of all to see... full of understanding.

As if in a dream, she saw Yaten's mouth move, heard his voice say "Good night, Minako-chan. Tell Toshio-san there's nothing to be jealous of." Unable to reply beyond a whispered "Good night", she saw him turning and walking into the hotel. She clutched the rose tighter still, gently brushing its soft, fragrant petals over the cheek he had kissed.

(And I remember quiet evenings
Trembling close to you...)