SECONDS OF TIME Series: PGSM / Sailor Moon Live Action Pairing: Shoujo-Ai (Rei x Minako)

Basically a re-write filling in parts of the story for what to many (me included) see as an intense relationship between Rei and Minako. PGSM Scriptwriters and Staff did a fantastic job at teasing us with these two. Allow me to make it happen the way I felt it did.
From the time they met to (currently) just before the Dark Mercury arc.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything. All hail Naoko-hime!

(A/N: The divisions were removed -arg!- So I reuploaded it. Gomen.)

Chapter Five. To Unlock My Spirit

Facing the sacred fire, Rei Hino concentrated to clear her mind and allow her visions to surface.

-- Remember it yourself. --

Rei imagined a Kingdom in the Moon, as she had done when her mother read the story of Princess Kaguya to her. She tried to change the face of the princess in her mind with Venus' face. She couldn't get over the blond haired beauty wearing a traditional japanese kimono, so she changed the face to that of the idol. Beautiful and captivating as she imagined the princess to be, it still felt like forcing the wrong jigsaw puzzle piece.

Rei couldn't help scowling at the flickering flames. What was she supposed to remember?And how!

"Do you really wish to see the past?"

Rei directed her scowl to her sudden visitor. "You again."

"Good evening to you too." There was a hint of amusement in the tone of the mysterious woman.

"Why are you here?"

"Feisty as always, princess of Mars. Can't an old friend drop by to talk?"

"I'm busy." She looked back at the sacred fire.

"There was a time when you didn't need any tool for your visions. You were the celebrated seer of the Silver Millenium, that is after me, but then I'd never tell what it is I know."

"Then you're wasting my time and yours as well." Rei glared at her.

"I don't waste time, Mars, not mine nor yours. It becomes quite lonesome where I am, and I terribly miss the pleasantries of old."

"I'm sorry but I don't remember anything 'of old'. You can try and drop by Venus. You two can chat about the way things were."

"You mean you're not interested?"

"I am," Rei hastily answered. "It's just, I don't get any straight answers from you."

"I can't change the rules, little one. I, however, can give you soft nudges toward the right direction."

"What kinds of nudges are you talking of?"

"Bits of information that may or may not be useful. Hopefully, though, it would be because you and the rest of the Senshi need to keep the Princess safe."

Her attention perked up at the mention of the Princess' safety. "Then tell me what it is you can."

"You wish to remember the past. Memories create echoes that resonate louder when we encounter a similar event or a person from the past or a scent or a sound. They serve as keys to Aletheia and unlock what your spirit holds locked inside."

"That's not entirely helpful. I've been with the others for a while now. We've fought with the Dark Kingdom. Why don't I remember anything?"

"I'd say the echoes are not loud enough for you to notice. It's strange though, that you don't acknowledge them."

"What do you mean?"

"Sensitive as you are, you fail to accept the echoes. Instead, you turn to your princess, asking her if you are correct. Don't you trust your own echoes?"

Rei didn't answer but looked away from the woman.

"I see. I asked the right question." She paused to observe Rei. "What is it that keeps you from trusting yourself? Is there something that you lack?"

"I do not lack anything," Rei answered harshly. She never liked people looking down at her.

Rei didn't see the frown on the woman's face. She saw the difference between the past Mars and this girl. No wonder, I am to help her. As she is, her memories would never surface. Yet, time alone cannot heal the wounds of this girl.

"I need to leave now," she told Rei. "Before I go, I'll leave you with something to think about. What do you think makes the Senshi strong?" The woman's aura began to fade into the darkness.

"Wait," Rei called out. The fading aura returned. "The others. If you are indeed a friend from the past, why do you not help them remember?"

"Each one has a path to take. I will not disturb those paths. Your path simply includes me." With that, the mysterious woman's aura vanished.

-- What do you think makes the Senshi strong? --

She's right. I have to be strong to awaken my Senshi powers.

-- I'll be waiting for that. --

Wait for me, Princess. I will prove to you that I can protect you.

-- -- -- -- -- --

Minako lay on her soft hotel bed. She had just taken her medicine and she was beginning to feel drowsy. Artemis silently sat beside her pillow, watching his ward.

"Artemis," Minako asked him in a sleepy voice. "Tell me again about Mars."

"From what Luna told me, Mars' identity in the present is Rei Hino," he began. The story of Mars: her favorite bedtime story.

Minako nodded at Artemis as he began talking.

"She's 14," the white plushie continued, "like you and Usagi. She's the daughter of Senator Hino, but she doesn't live with him. Her mother died when Rei was still young. Luna said that it was her mother's death anniversary when you were both at the Church."

Minako closed her eyes and gave a satisfied sigh. Meeting Mars again at the Church, seeing her smile, and fighting a youma with her… it was no coincidence.

"She's studying at the Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin, a private Catholic school, but she is Shinto miko and lives in Hikawa Jinja. She has a reputation for having visions, much like in the past life, but she uses fire to enhance her visions."

Artemis stopped when he noticed the even and slow breathing of his ward. He hopped off the bed and walked out the door, taking a moment to look back and ensure that she was truly asleep.

Forgive me, Minako. Choosing to awaken you for the mission… I knew it was the right choice for me to make. You, the Senshi Leader, were the right choice. But seeing you like this, because of your condition… sometimes, even I doubt my decision.

"Pluto," called a young boy with long straight white hair.

She was surprised by having a visitor at the Gate of Time. "Artemis, it's nice to see you."

"Forgive me. This is not a pleasure trip."

-- -- -- -- -- --

Pluto smiled at her guest. Despite the boyish appearance and voice, his eyes showed the ageless wisdom of Queen Serenity's advisor. "Can't even take a few minutes for pleasantries anymore? Too much have changed after the end of the Silver Millenium, " Pluto teased before reverting to a serious tone. "You want to speak to me of Princess Serenity and her Senshis."

"Queen Serenity's wish was granted. They are reborn on the new Earth."

"You know I already know that, don't you?"

"Her Highness sent me here. She feels that the Princess is in danger."

"I would say that the pieces of the chess are on the board."

"Then you must help me. We cannot allow the Princess to be harmed in any way."

"You know very well that my mission is different from the Guardians of the Princess."

"Her Highness said I might need this to gain your assistance." He opened her pam to reveal a necklace with a small intricate key pendant.

She picked it up from his hand and her gloved fingers caressed the cold metal. The key was identical to the rest of the keys on her belt, except this was one she gave Queen Serenity before the end of the Silver Millenium. It could have been used to prevent the carnage of the Great War, but the Queen firmly believed that Time was the last inviolable territory.

"What is it that you need?"

"I need to know the present incarnations of the Princess and her Guardians."

She smiled at the simple request. "You don't need me for that, Artemis. There are many seers in Earth old and young. You needed not travel here and use up much of your remaining power. There is one very interesting young seer of fi—"

"I need to know for certain," Artemis interrupted. "There is no room for mistakes."

She smiled at his impatience. "Very well." She closed her eyes and concentrated, her thumb absentmindedly following the pattern of the key she held.

"I cannot tell you what you seek." Artemis was about to protest when she held up a hand to silence him. "There are rules, Artemis, and it is my mission to uphold them. I can only give you one identity without compromising what is to happen."

"And how will I find the rest, if I know only one?"

"Their paths are bound to meet. Yet, choose carefully. Your choice will trigger events that may keep Princess Serenity safe or harm her."

Pluto looked on as the feline retired General began to pace as he thought well his decision. He stopped and looked at her.

"Will they remember?"

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I hold not any power over the effects of Lethe. Do not despair. Memories and especially strong emotions remain deeply embedded in each one of them. The keys to Aletheia is different for each person."

He nodded, taking in the new information. "Then I have no time to waste. I cannot choose the Princess, as her lack of knowledge of the past may be for her safety. And if I am to choose one of the Senshi, I would choose their leader."

"Very well." Pluto felt the mists around her shift as the effects of his decision rolled into the futures. "I can send you to her now or you can return to the moon and tell Luna."

"As I said, there is no time to waste."

-- -- -- -- -- --

It was a nice Saturday morning and Rei ran into the children playing Onigokko at the temple grounds. She greeted them with a smile.

"Let's make Rei-san the Oni!"


"Rei-oni! Rei-oni!"

"Aww, you always make me the Oni," Rei playfully teased.

"You make a beautiful Oni."

"Keiichi-kun likes Rei-san!" The children teased the young boy.

"When I grow up, I will ask Rei-san to be my girlfriend!"

Rei smiled and looked at the happy faces of the temple kids. "Huh? Where's Nana?"

"Nana's mama said Nana-chan is in the hospital."

"Rei-san," a girl in braided pig tails asked in a worried voice. "Will Nana-chan be all right?"

Rei crouched beside the girl. "Of course, Erika. Nana will be all right. She will be back here playing with us in no time." Erika nodded.

"Yosh," Rei called to the kids. "Better run away from Rei-oni!"

The kids squealled in delight as they run to different directions away from her.

-- -- -- -- -- --

Sighing, Minako propped her elbow on the table beside her laptop and rested her chin on her hand. Her manager called a few hours ago asking for the lyrics to her new song. More often than not, her words would be chopped up and mixed with more catchy phrases that went better with the music. Still, she was allowed to proof read it before the final nod.

She stared blankly at the word processing software she had open. She still needed to write up what she wanted to sing about and lately, her inspiration was at odds with her.

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Mars. The name was a song in itself for her. Before meeting the incarnation of Mars, she had been filled with dreams of her past beloved. It was a far away illusion that she slipped into when her sickness and her mission overwhelmed her.

Meeting Mars suddenly, away from her Venus persona, that had been unexpected. At that moment, except when she's with Artemis, Minako was as real as she ever was, and it had been easy for her to be so. Mars made it so easy and simple.

Our meeting was a miracle not an accident.

She looked at the words on her screen. She'd probably change them later, but she learned not to discard ideas. What is it that I want to sing?

Love. It was always about love and romance and living life to the fullest. It's the type of songs that Aino Minako is known for. And though I sing it, I will never have it. Not love nor romance and definitely not living.

A frown graced her delicate lips. How lucky I was in the past! I had a life worth living and someone to share it with.

-- I'm your protector. --

She doesn't even remember how she used to tell me that she'd always protect me. Maybe I can make myself believe that there's a part of her that remembers, but I'd only be lying.

Minako's fingers tapped the keyboard. Whimsical thoughts. Romance.

She reclined into her chair, a sigh escaping her lips once again. Her thoughts going back to Mars' present incarnation. She was indeed a beauty, as she had been in the past, but there was a fragile softness in this girl that used to be Mars. Indeed, her smile gave her that fuzzy feeling she oft described in her songs, but even the pout and hauty arrogrance she displayed did very little to keep Minako from noticing her beauty. And her grace as she moved and fought! It showed that despite her lack of memories of her past life, Mars was still Mars. My Mars.

-- I wanted to talk to you one more time, that's why I searched for you. --

My Mars would have searched for Venus, not the Princess. My Mars would be protecting me, not because I'm the Princess but because I am the one she loves.

She frowned at the bitterness of her thoughts. Wasn't it her decision to pretend to be the princess? Wasn't it her decision to stay away from her comrades and past lover? So why am I second-guessing myself?

She closed her laptop and stood up, knowing how her mood has gone south again.

-- -- -- -- -- --

After spending the morning with the children, Rei was given the rest of the day off. She decided to spend her time going around the neighborhood and scout for any movement from the enemy.

Walking alone, her mind was left to ponder on the words uttered by her mysterious 'friend'.

-- What do you think makes the Senshi strong? --

In the past, fighting together helped us defeat stronger enemies, but the Princess is fighting alone. I should aim to be like that too.

Rei passed by the Amishiro Park. As it was a weekend, there were more than a few people there. She let herself feel any Dark energy, but there was none. The place was clear. She walked away toward Azabujuban Street.

-- When you awaken as a senshi on your own, you will understand everything. --

Then I will go at it on my own feet. I will be strong, so you don't have to be alone.

Rei circled back to the shrine. It was a long walk and it was already nightfall when she arrived home. She decided she'd use her bike next time she makes her rounds. Tired, though she was, she was thankful that the enemies were not attacking at this time.

-- -- -- -- -- --

She sighed as she gazed up the stars. So this is how it is like pining for someone.

In the past, it had been Mars pining for her. Not that she didn't notice, Minako thought with an amused grin. She was not the Senshi of Love and Beauty for nothing.

I could visit her in her room, watch her while she sleeps, and tell her everything.

Minako laughed out loud at that thought and walked to her bed.

Why wouldn't that work? It worked for Mars before, didn't it?

She sat on her bed, indulging herself with the memory of Mars' confession. It's for her work, she told herself, to write a song that people would like to hear.

-- -- -- -- -- --

"Who's there?" I asked as I sat up.

I frowned, feeling a presence hidden in the shadows of my room. The silence was deafening to me. I felt the intruder push back into the darkness. I felt its fear.

"I asked you a question. Who are you?"

I shifted my position, slowly pulling my legs under me. The intruder seemed to have noticed my movement. I could see a slight movement. I took it as an attempt to flee. No one flees from Venus. As the intruder moved toward the balcony, I jumped and tackled.

"Mars!" I was surprised to find my comrade under me.

In the moonlight, I could see her face.

"You're crying." I sat, unconsciously still straddling her hips. My mind was trying to comprehend what would make Mars cry.

She looked away, her cheeks becoming rosy. She must feel embarrassed to have been seen crying.

"Tell me, Mars." I softly coaxed her to open up.

In an instant, she sat up and hugged me. I felt my cheeks grow warmer at our position. I marvelled at feeling both her warmth and the coldness of her skin. She must've been standing in the darkness for quite some time before I woke up.

"You're cold. Let's get a warm blanket around you, Mars."

She did not let go. I felt a wet drop of her tears on my shoulder. It was followed by another.

"Shhhh," I whispered in her smooth hair. I figured she'd release me once she finished crying.

"I –" Mars spoke so softly only the silent night and her proximity allowed me to hear her. "I won't let anything happen to you."

"Of course you won't," I answered a bit cockier than I intended. She didn't seem to notice.

"If anything would ever happen to you, I wouldn't be able to bear it." She moved away to look at me. "I'll always protect you, Venus, not as my leader, but because I love you."

I smiled. "I'm glad you finally told me."

She looked at me with a puzzled expression. I couldn't help but giggle.

"I have been wondering how long you'd keep how you feel hidden." I winked at her. "I am the Senshi of Love, am I not?"

"You knew?" Her embrace loosened and her movements seemed as though she was attempting to flee.

I delicately placed a hand on her cheek, carefully wiping her tears with my thumb, and I laid my cheek against the other. She seemed frozen by my actions which was the effect I was going for. "I waited patiently for this moment," I whispered to her ear making sure she'd feel my breath on her sensitive skin, "because I also feel the same way." I pulled away to look her in the eye. "I love you too, my Mars."

-- -- -- -- -- --

Minako watched the shadows of her room.

What I would give to find my Mars hiding there. Then she'll take me in her arms and kiss me as passionately as she had many times in the past. She smiled at her romantic thoughts. A girl's allowed to dream, right?

She pulled the comforter away and walked to her work table. She finally had her inspiration for her next song.

-- -- -- -- -- --

"Mama! Mama!" I called out in desperation. I knew she was leaving me, I could feel it.

My eyes were fixated on the hand limply hanging at the edge of the bed. Some nurses ran past me to attend to my mother, but they were too late. My cursed gift told me that she was leaving.

A nurse bumped into the table and a book fell to the tiled floor. It was the book of Princess Kaguya. Mama liked reading it to me. Perhaps she was there in the Moon Kingdom with Princess Kaguya. The princess was wearing a white gown and standing among marbled floors and walls and pillars. It was a huge castle. Mama must be happy there, but I was left behind.

I stepped away from the ruckus in front of me and looked away. Mama was no longer there. My eyes searched for him, but I could not find him. "Papa!" I called out even though I knew he was not there. "Papa!" I shouted louder. I knew he could not hear me, wherever he is.

Whoever I hold dear in my heart always disappears. That's how it has always been. It was similar to having my soul teared apart. That's how it felt. Every painful detail made the seconds move a hundred times slower.

Ever since she left. The day I watched the blond hair trail in the wind as she fell to the ground. The crimson ribbon flying in the air, the crystal beads scattering. The blond hair returning to its normal black hue. Her chocolate eyes were open but the sparkle behind them had been at that instant switched off.

Venus! No!

I sat up, my chest heaving from the breath that I held as the images that bombarded my dreams kept its imprint on my consciousness. I hurried out to my balcony and jumped to the adjacent one. I peered inside to watch the sleeping form on the bed. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see the slight movement of breathing. I spoke a silent prayer. A cold and crisp breeze blew toward me and I noticed the curtains furl inside the room. The door was open. I slipped inside a room like my own.

In the shadows, I stayed and watched her still form. I could not shake off the disturbing vision. Inside me, I felt a longing to caress those cheeks and move the wayward strands of hair that fell on them. I wanted to feel her warmth and know that the visions were not real.

When was it that I started to feel this way? When was it that I began to marvel at her strength beyond what my duties allowed? When was it that I admired her flirtatious attack movements beyond how a soldier admired a stronger one? When was it when I started to wish she'd kiss me like she kissed her fingers when firing a Crescent Beam? When was it that I began seeing and wanting the young woman? I watched as she stirred, her lids slowly opening. She faced my way and I see Venus' beauty reflected in the dim light.

"Who's there?" She asked.

I panicked. She should not see me. How could I explain my presence?

Rei opened her eyes to see the familiar ceiling of her bedroom. Before any other thoughts entered her mind, she began writing on her dream diary. Even as she was jotting down the dream, details have begun to seep back into her subconscious.


Author's Notes:

Thank you for finishing this long chapter. This is the longest one and without a lot of scenes from the series itself.

Pluto returns. Did you like her parts in this chapter? I'm really worried about making her OOC. Sometimes I think she's turning into xxxHolic's Yuuko (who happens to be the Witch of Time and Dimension for CLAMP-verse).

And making some use of Artemis. Since Luna appears as a little girl, I made Artemis into a young boy with the same features as drawn in the manga. I also noticed that Luna when not in Senshi form doesn't have a crescent on her forehead so I scrapped that detail for Artemis too. Besides, Artemis plays a big part in Venus' life so that was only natural.

I extended the time after Valentine's Day to the double date and Ami's abduction to give Minako and Rei time to think about how they feel.

Lethe is the river where those who died drink from before being reincarnated. Aletheia is the Greek word for "truth". (Source: Wikipedia)

Inserted that little bit of Rei playing with the temple kids since she takes care of them a lot. And Nana has an important part in Act 23. Erika is the girl in Act 10 and she returns in Act 27.

I'm not sure if the first part of Rei's dream was fleshed out the way I wanted to show it. I'd love to hear how you feel about it.

What song is Minako writing? Points go to everyone who answered "Romance". But it is not the song where the title came from. It actually came from "Stars Fall At Dawn" which is also the title of one of my favorite Rei-Minako fanfics written by kanzaki (go to coz you won't be disappointed). I chose the title because this chapter talks about Artemis choosing to "unlock" Minako and about Rei's first cohesive memory of her past life thereby "unlocking" her as well.

What happens now? How much of the dream does Rei remember? How will it affect her? How will they deal with the emergence of Dark Mercury? Next chapter…