Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon or Kannazuki no Miko if I did there'd be so much more yuri!
Cornflower blues gazed about the Crown Fruit Parlour, from the wall clock, to the large window screens, to peering out into the busy streets of Tokyo, then back to her three friends gathered around her, each mirroring the same worry and anxiety as she, in their own unique way.
"Guess she can't yell or scold either of us next time we're a tad tardy, ne, Usagi-chan?" Minako mused cheerfully, keeping spirits up.
"What if…" Ami injected, the priestess was never late. She prided herself in her promptness. It was what gave her power to scold the blondes whenever they come late.
"She's late," Makoto simply stated not wanting to jump to conclusions. Arms crossed, it was obvious, she simply wanted to remind them that everyone had their late days. The priestess was no exception.
"LATE?" shrieked the voice of her princess. "She's beyond late! Late doesn't even suffice to as what she is! She's…" the odango haired princess abruptly forgot her ranting as the chiming of the sliding doors were activated and in scrambled the missing raven haired beauty.
What shocked most wasn't her abrupt entrance, nor was it her dishevelled appearance, no they were quiet accustomed to this sort of behaviour from this particular group of girls, although it was rare for any one other than the two blondes to storm in panicked, it wasn't the least bit uncommon, but what surprised all was the lack of the miko's infamous temper. Usually, if ever Hino Rei arrived late or 'sloppy' her current state of mind was anything but calm and collected, it was even rarer for her to be silent. Normally, she'd vent her anger on any poor sucker that got in her way. Her wrath could be sensed from miles away. Yet now, there was no wrath, no anger, absolutely nothing at all.
Rei plopped into her usual spot beside Minako gazing nonchalantly at everyone, "What's up?"
"What do you mean what's up?" Usagi exclaimed. "So it's alright to jump down our throats when we're late but when it's you everything's just fine and dandy? Justice! I demand justice!" complained Usagi in a joking manner, trying to get a rise out of Rei.
Minako stuck herself in front of Rei blocking Usagi, "So what's up with you?"
Rei shrugged, "Nothing."
"Rei-chan as your princess and future queen, I demand an explanation!" Usagi exclaimed, set out on reeling in an answer from the fire senshi.
Rei rolled her eyes at the royal.
"At least she's showing some signs of her usual self," Minako thought auspiciously, shadowed by a playful grin, the grief and anxiety soaring through every vain in her body. "Now, now Rei, love," Minako reasoned playfully, tilting her head slightly, barely touching the priestess' shoulder, "Nothing, just won't suffice. Spill it Hino," Minako managed yet another coy smile, but the usual playfulness in her voice was lacking something, --was that desire silken in her voice?
Rei slumped her shoulders, away from Minako's touch, leaning back into the booth with a sigh, "I'm just exhausted." Rei stretched her arms up high, then delicately bringing her hands back to massage her sores and stiff neck. "Grandpa had me up all night with a heavy duty work out, cleaning every corner, every niche, every millimetre of the shrine, top to bottom, inside and out, preparing the guest room…"
"You're having guests?" Ami inquired.
Rei groaned, "You know how grandpa is, leaves everything to the last minute. If I didn't know any better, I'd think he's the most irresponsible person in the world, but we all know that title belongs to our fair princess," Rei added teasingly.
The four inner senshi gazed at their childish princess and laughed knowingly. In truth, Usagi, had matured. She matured a long time ago. Not exactly the Neo Queen of Crystal Tokyo yet, though subtle, the transition was evident. They themselves are but mirror images of the senshi of the future, beautiful, strong. Now at 19, day by day, the transition from pretty girls to beautiful women flourished.
"So who's coming?" Makoto asked, as the laughter died down.
That distant look returned to Rei's eyes, as well as a peculiar smile. "My cousin, Tomiko, she's been studying abroad for the past five years. She's the family gem. Even my father, the politician, flaunts their relation, even if it's only through marriage, all know of Miya-sama, his niece, yet all are ignorant of the existence of his only daughter. I don't blame him though, I suppose it's better this way, less bothersome, and besides in comparison to her I'm just a no one, with anger management problems," Rei laughed softly.
"Rei, you know that's not true," Makoto comforted, reaching out to her usually very confident friend.
"I…" Rei began, not realizing that she just put herself down.
"Rei-chan, what do you mean you're nothing? You're Princess of Mars, the brilliantly exotic fiery fire senshi!" exclaimed Usagi, now standing slamming the table.
Makoto, immediately dragged Usagi back into her seat, and hushed her.
Luckily those who frequent the Crown Fruit Parlour are accustomed to such weird outburst from this particular group of girls. No one took their outbursts seriously before, and none do now, still it was interesting to watch.
"I'm not…" Rei wanted to explain herself. She never meant to sound like she was putting herself down. Really, it's hard to get a word in edge wise when her friends were worked up. The lack of enemy attacks really kept them on their toes.
"Rei never doubt yourself again," Minako commanded, using her Venus voice. She hated what Rei was saying. It pained her. "How could you possibly think that low of yourself?"
Rei just nodded, lost in the intensity of Minako's eyes, forgetting what she wanted to say. The words suddenly didn't matter anymore, but out of reflex, hearing that tone in her companion's tone, she knew to just nod.
"You're so much more than you think…" Minako said softly turning her gaze away, breaking their eye contact.
"Ya Rei-chan," Usagi reasoned. "In junior high, everyone wanted to be like you even in high school, all admired your passion, beauty and grace. You're the beautiful shrine maiden. Heads turn when you pass by."
Rei tore herself away from Minako, to look at her princess. "Tomi…"
"Usagi's right, Rei," Makoto agreed. "Now I know there's definitely something wrong, you're usually so confident and sure about yourself."
"Urg…" Rei exclaimed, giving up.
"Fukumiya Tomiko," Ami interjected, nodding knowingly at Rei, "is your cousin?"
Rei looked up, smiled and nodded. "Finally…"
"Ami-chan, you know Rei-chan's cousin?" Usagi asked, more confused then ever. "What does that have to do with anything?"
Ami nodded, "I haven't met her in person, but I know of her. Years ago, before I met you Usagi-chan, I tied for first in the Nation's Junior Mock Exam, with a Fukumiya Tomiko, who placed first the year before. Curious about her character I did a bit of snooping and found out that she's "the" honour student at TA Private School for girls, Rei's school. She excelled in everything, academics, and extracurricular."
"Captain of the tennis team, volleyball team, badminton, president of the student council, horseback riding club, music club and archery club," Rei interjected. "There wasn't anything she wasn't part of. Honour Roll Student of the year, no, Model Idol Student of the century." Rei announced proudly. There was a glint in her eyes, as she spoke of her cousin, a surreal sparkle.
"You really idolize her, don't you?" Makoto asked.
Rei blushed and nodded. Tomiko was a lady, a lady like Rei's own mother. After her death, Tomiko became like a mother figure for Rei, well not exactly, but she pictured her mother being just as Tomiko was. What Tomiko approved of, her mother would be the same. Rei wanted to be like Tomiko. Even if Tomiko was only a year older, she was mature beyond her years. From family portraits, Rei could see Tomiko resemble her mother more than Rei ever would, not just in looks, but the way she carried herself. Always humble, reserved, polite, being like Tomiko meant being like her mother. Yet the bar has always been set so high, especially when Tomiko was ever concerned.
"Then why are you in such a bad mood?" Usagi asked.
Rei sighed, "I'm not I'm just tired. I couldn't sleep until everything was done. Everything has to be just perfect for when she comes," Rei yawned.
Usagi rolled her eyes, "Never mind, there's nothing wrong with her, compulsive and pig-headed as usual. Just like Rei to be a perfectionist about the littlest things," rewarding Rei with a childish raspberry.
Rei of course had to counter with one of her own.
"I've never heard you mention her," Minako asked curiously.
Rei shrugged, "I don't like to boast relations. That's why I live with grandpa at the shrine. My family is my family, and I'm me. My father's politics are his. Good riddance to that. I don't like getting involved," Rei ended her speech with a powerful sigh. This meant this discussion had to end, no questions asked.
"What time is she coming?" Ami asked.
"She'll be here by 5, this evening," Rei answered. "I haven't seen her in person for five years. She's coming straight to the shrine."
"Can you introduce us?" Ami inquired, then blushed. "I've always been curious about her. Back when we were suppose to be acknowledge by the press together, Fukumiya-sama, came down with a cold, so did not attend," she explained.
"Just like Ami to remember a rival, after years and years, still eager to best her, ne Ami-chan?" Makoto teased.
Before Rei could respond, Usagi piped up, "Of course Ami-chan, it's a given. We're having a whole conversation about her of course Rei wants to show off her cousin. You wouldn't disappoint us, would you Rei-chan?"
"Maybe tomorrow," Rei answered. She looked about, seeking a different topic, "Minako, Makoto, Usagi, how's the roommate hunt coming along?"
Minako shrugged, and answered casually, "Mako suggested that we kidnap Ami, have our way with her, and lock her away until she submits to our every whim." Ami blushed furiously, as Makoto pinched Minako causing her to yelp, "What's that for?"
"Stop being so perverted Minako," Makoto scolded, as Minako giggled gaily.
"Perverted? Dear me, what is going through that little mind of yours? I meant have the resident genius do our homework and chores for us. I don't know what you're talking about," Mina teased, earning a good strangling from Makoto.
After they graduated high school, Makoto, Minako, and Usagi rented a flat, with Furuhata Unazuki, Motoki's younger sister. Unazuki had previously gotten engaged and has moved in with her fiancée. Missing a roommate meant, they were missing a quarter of the rent and utilities. Ami-chan still lived with her mother in their apartment, while Rei-chan decided to stay at the shrine. Her grandfather was growing older, and Yuichiro had moved out long ago.
Makoto was currently studying business management and culinary in hopes of opening her own restaurant in the near future, Ami is still chasing her dream of being a doctor. Minako still aspiring to be a star, studying drama and music, Rei was majoring in media and production, interested in what goes on behind the scene, then actually being in front of the camera, yet still continued with her miko training, and Usagi, taking general humanitarian courses.
Crystal Tokyo will happen, and the senshi must step up and take up their responsibilities, to serve their queen, protect and lead the new world. For now, they'll live the lives they want, and when duty calls, the senshi will always be ready, but at least their lives don't revolve solely around duty and destiny for the time being.
Engines roaring, crowds cheering, the thrill, the rush, the race circuit was truly an exhilarating experience for one so naïve as this particular young photographer, walking about the grounds. Places like this didn't even exist in Mahoroba, local racers would usually gather around hilly areas on the outskirts of town. In Mahoroba, only a small sum of the population was even into motorcycle racing. But this, this was really something to behold. Stands filled with fans rooting for their favourite racers, merchants selling adorable little racing plushies, fan girls swooning for the most charming racers. Indeed Tokyo is different from the village of Mahoroba.
It was time to settle down, to end her journey. It's been two years since she graduated from the prestigious Ototachibana Academy. Two years since she left Mahoroba, her aunt and uncle, to travel Japan, to marvel the extraordinary scenery, from city to city. Constantly searching, hardly ever staying in one place for too long. It was time for her to return to her studies and hit the books. By some completely insane fluke, she got accepted to Tokyo U, two years ago, when her acceptance letter came, it was withheld from her by her aunt and uncle, who refused to use her inheritance to pay for her to go to university, she thought she lost her chance so went ahead and travelled the country, two weeks ago, she received a letter in the mail from the university reminding her the semester is starting soon. Tired from her travels, she decided to go for it.
Drawn by the enthusiastic people, she found herself on a motor-cross race circuit apparently a huge event was to take place, one of the biggest races of the year. Optimistic about everything, and living her life following one simple philosophy, try everything once. Of course pictures of the racing circuit, racers and crowds would pose excellently in her portfolio. She wanted to be a diversely dynamic photographer, never limited to just landscape or portraits.
With her camera in hand, she wandered about, looking for perfect shots. Her pictures were nice, but never perfect. Part of the reason for her two year long journey was to find her muse. She wanted the perfect picture. Hers were nice, some may even say good, but they always seem to be missing something. Something she once had, something to be treasured, but somehow it slipped away, through her fingers and vanished. She has to find it. She wandered and wandered, further and further away from the crowd, she completely missed the sign that said racers only, getting herself lost.
Finally noticing the absence of the crowd and roaring engine that had been replaced with complete silence, she began to panic. She was alone in a place foreign to her, images and not so friendly scenes enter her field of vision. Images of big, hairy, scary, biker men, scenes from movies of bikers and their gangs clad in leather entered her mind. A figment of her imagination, she prayed, reality clad in a smart racing suit, stood in front of her, as real as day, was reaching out to her…
"NO!" she shrieked, feeling someone grab her.
"Whoa…whoa there koneko-chan," came a soothing, deep gentle voice. She opened her eyes, and stared into the deepest teal she's ever seen; greens within blues, within greens, in a sea of more blue. Tearing away from those heavenly orbs, she was graced with a handsome face, short blond hair, only a tad darker than her own; a face so enthralling that could make any girl float on air. Receiving no reply, from the younger girl, the stranger continued, "I won't hurt you," 'he' assured her. "I just want to help you…"
Touched by 'his' generosity, she found it her duty to properly respond as kindly as she can, but could only stutter, "I…I…lost…help?" Oh, how it sounded so much more grown up in her mind, "Pardon me sir, I'm lost, can you please guide me back to the crowd?" At least that would've been far more civil not to mention coherent.
The handsome blond only chuckled. "I'm heading over to the race track now, care to join me?" he asked. "You can sit on the sidelines."
"Ummm…." she stammered. Going with a stranger? No she couldn't.
"You're a photographer right?" he pointed to her camera, still strapped over her shoulder. "You can get some really awesome close up shots," he continued, trying to be as friendly as possible.
Common sense told her to refuse, never talk to strangers, never follow strangers, but there's just something about this particular person.
He held out his hand, "I'm Tenoh Haruka."
Reluctantly she held out her own hand, "Kurusugawa Himeko," she answered.
Haruka grinned, and pulled the young girl towards her bike, and handed her a helmet. "Hop on."
"Umm…I don't know," Himeko replied. It's not that she's foreign to riding on motorcycles, quite the contrary she's ridden with Oogami-kun many times before.
Haruka gave her this look. Teal eyes boring into her own, how could a girl refuse such an offer. Himeko took the helmet in her hand and hopped onto the bike, gripping Haruka's coat tightly. Haruka grinned as the engine roared and the pair soon sped off towards the race track.
Gripping for dear life, Himeko prayed for it all to be over soon. This Haruka drove like a lunatic. Her heart was in her throat. They were going so fast she couldn't even feel herself. It was all so weird. They reached the race track sooner than expected. Himeko was expecting Haruka to stop, to let her off, but instead Haruka sped around the track once or twice, she could not tell. Himeko could hear the crowd cheering Haruka's name in the distance.
Himeko was so wrapped up in her own fear that she did not notice that they had stopped. She was still gripping onto Haruka tightly. She felt Haruka chuckle once again, "This is your stop Kurusugawa-san."
Himeko looked up thrilled to see solid objects, solid people, they weren't blurs anymore. She's never seen such a homely sight, stillness. She abruptly got off the bike and bowed, thanking Haruka.
"Root for me," Haruka winked, speeding over to the starting line up, leaving a flustered Himeko.
"That Haruka," tut a disapproving tone.
Startled by the estranged voice Himeko turned to see an aquamarine beauty, shaking her wavy hair feigning disparagement, yet her amusement coated her voice. Her wavy hair spilled about, framing her delicate face. Her skin the colour of ivory. She was the embodiment of grace.
"You must excuse Haruka's callous behaviour," the beauty announced with a radiant smile, now gazing at Himeko. "She's just too much at times. The excitement of this race is really getting to her. She tends to pull wild stunts when she's restless."
"She?" Himeko exclaimed. "Haruka's a she?" Himeko verbalized her thought.
The aquamarine giggled, "You remind me of a dear friend of mine," she replied. "My name is Kaioh Michiru."
"Kurusugawa Himeko, pleasure to meet you Kaioh-san."
A flare gun was fired, and the racers sped off.
"Oh no!" Himeko exclaimed. "I think there's something wrong with Tenoh-san's bike, she's still there!"
Michiru rolled her eyes, "She's too confident for her own good."
Haruka's yellow bike, relied and roared, as the last racer bounded the half point mark, Haruka sped off in a flash.
Himeko stared at the track her mouth agape watching as Haruka zoomed passed the other racers, quickly catching up with the leading racers.
"One of these days her cockiness is going to cost her a race," sighed Michiru.
Remembering her camera Himeko began snapping away, taking as many pictures as she can. She didn't have the proper equipment with her but what the heck.
"They're going way too fast for a regular camera to capture a picture," Michiru pointed out.
Himeko looked at Michiru and smiled, "That's why I'm taking as many as I can at least one of them is bound to turn out good."
"You're very optimistic," Michiru mused.
Himeko blushed. She glanced at the large screen television and noticed the time, and gasped, "I'm late!" She turned to Michiru and bowed, "I'm sorry, I just remembered I have somewhere to be. Please send my regards to Tenoh-san. Goodbye!" with that Himeko began running off. "Late…late…please don't give away my room!"
"Wait!" Michiru called, but Himeko was long gone. "Indeed, very similar," Michiru mused with a soft smile.
Stepping into the airport, she was overcome with a nostalgic feeling. She was finally home. After five years of travelling abroad she's finally returned. Return to finish her studies, and soon to take over the family business and sit as head of her clan. To do all that's been expected of her since the day she was born. Her life was neatly mapped out for her, just as it was for many other heiress of her statue.
She had been bumped onto an earlier flight. Hino-san and Rei would not be expecting her for another few hours. It would be rude to arrive unannounced. The next three or so years she'd be residing at the Hikawa Jinja away from the maids, away from regulations upholding the honour of the household. She can find peace with herself at the shrine, living without materialistic things, and her silver spoon.
It was rare for her to have so much free time on her hands and have nothing to do. She might as well explore the city on her own. Maybe visit all the boutiques around, and then sit down and have a nice cup of tea. Deciding to do just that, she ventured out on her own.
Stopping at an intersection to finally catch her breath Himeko glanced at her watch, "Fifteen minutes to spare, maybe I won't be late after all!" she rejoiced, deciding to take her time now. Rushing into the application center looking like a dishevelled monkey wasn't very mature like. Enough people mistake her for a teenager she needn't to prove to them that she was as immature in mannerism as she is physique wise. It was really exhausting, in high school, people mistook her for a middle school student in middle school people thought she was a preschooler. Now nearing 21, she looked 17.
The light flashed, signalling pedestrians to cross, everyone seemed to be in a hurry. Midway across the street she caught a glimpse of a little pink scallop sea shell necklace, one similar to the one she never took off. The one her father made her when she was but a little girl.
A flash of silky raven blue hair, shimmering creamy ivory skin…
Himeko's heart began to race uncontrollably. She felt weightless, her mind blank. Her heart ached with yearning. Before she knew it Himeko had embraced the object of her ignited desire. Her heart was bursting in tormenting bliss. Himeko was clutching with all her might terrified that this person would disappear forever from her life. This nostalgic, living deja-vu was eating her alive. She couldn't place this feeling. She just wanted to cry out in joy. Nothing else mattered. She felt safe and secure.
One minute she was crossing the street, the next a young lady embraces her, Japan sure has changed a lot. Everything happened too quickly for her to properly analyze and comprehend the situation. This girl clinging onto her, there was just something about her. Something she needed to protect. Warmth engulfed her with a foreign yet familiar sensation. It was but a natural reflex to encircle the young girl within her arms, like it had been done time and time again.
Both girls lost in the other's embrace, basking in the other's touch.
"GET OFF THE STREET!" yelled a driver from within his car, honking his offending horn.
Startled Himeko pulled back slightly, now realization finally dawning on her. She just embraced, and nearly crushed an innocent bystander with her death grip bear hug, that until this point has only been utilized upon her poor and unfortunate roommate back in high school. "Oh no!" Himeko panicked. Embarrassed isn't even close to what she felt. This was beyond beyond…beyond. Mistake two was looking up, into the beautiful face of her captive.
Butterflies erupted in her stomach, millions upon millions of little butterflies. Crystalline blue sapphires glowing, shining, twinkling, gorgeous raven sapphire kissed hair, a delicate porcelain face, luscious, full, pink lips. She was beautiful, she was beyond beautiful, she embodied perfection, just lovely. Oh how the humiliation grew tenfold, as Himeko lost herself in the glamorousness of this belle.
The cars continued honking.
Himeko felt herself being tugged towards the sidewalk, but she couldn't think. The raven haired stranger, had her arm securely wrapped around her own waist as her other hand held onto hers. Quite a picture the two of them made, with Himeko held close to the taller girl's bosom.
Finally some sense began kicking in. Himeko began to panic. What is she suppose to say, when this girl speaks to her? What can she say? What if she's taking her to the police station? Yet one look into her eyes, all sense of panic dissolved. Just looking at the raven haired beauty made her ecstatic. She was willing to go to the moon and back just to be able to look at this beauty a second longer. No, not just look at her, be near her, touch her. "Touch her?" Himeko blushed, thinking how her thoughts were straying.
As the cars drove pass some continued to honk and harass both girls, yelling out curses and swears. Never had she been angrier in her entire life. This girl has done no wrong, and should not be a target for these angry drivers, her arms still secure around the smaller girl. This mundane girl dissolved all estrangement in her usual behaviour. She has breached 'the' barrier that had isolated her from the world, this sweet, sweet charming girl. Her shoulder length blonde hair affectionately framed her peachy skin. A quaint little white bow entwined with her sun kissed tresses. For a second she envisioned a big red bow in place of the tiny white one. Her violet eyes impeccably captivating with unblemished innocence. That moment something changed in her. She would not let this girl go, ever.
Himeko felt her cheeks growing hotter and hotter, under the intensity of the raven girl's stare. She hadn't realized how close they'd been until now, and it seemed like her captive had become the captor because it seemed that she'd forgotten that they were still in the middle of the streets. The beating of her own heart continued to intensify. "Umm…" she began, not knowing what she wanted to say. 'Let go of me?' 'I'm sorry?' No, she didn't want to be released, nor was she sorry for embracing this familiar stranger. She wanted to say so many things, but once her mouth opened no words followed.
"I know you from somewhere, don't I?" her captive turned captor finally spoke.
That voice, oh that voice, Himeko would've given anything, to hear her speak again. Know her? Himeko paused, she's never seen her before in her entire life, but then she felt as if she's known her all her life. "I…I don't know…"
"You don't know," she paused, "but I…" she didn't know what to say, she just wanted to hold the smaller girl close to her, "…I seem to know you, but for the life of me I cannot recall from where. You're face I know, but it's as if I'm enlightened for the first time," so many thoughts circulating in her mind, she did not even realize that she had reached out to caress the little bird's cheek.
Himeko trembled at her touch, her eyes closed, enthralling in this sensation, "My name, my name is Kurusugawa Himeko," she answered, hoping it'd help her embracer trigger a lost memory or something.
"Himeko," she whispered, the name dancing from her lips like a sweet melody. She wanted to say it again and again. 'Himeko' it warmed her heart. 'Himeko, Himeko, Himeko,' the name jollied about her mind, chanted like a mantra. Finally remembering the proper, civil etiquette, she'd been raised by she released Himeko, setting a reasonable distance between them. "Kurusugawa-san," she called Himeko from her thoughts, "I am Fukumiya Tomiko," she bowed.
Still caught in her state of bliss, Himeko responded, "Tomi-chan," greeting the young lady.
'Tomi-chan,' the raven haired girl thought to herself. No one's ever called her Tomi-chan, not even her parents. It has always been, 'Fukumiya-san,' 'Miya-sama' or 'Tomiko,' by her elders.
Himeko slapped her hand over her mouth, 'That was rude.' "I…umm…I mean Fuku—"
Tomiko quickly intervened, "No, that's fine, Himeko," she relinquished the titles that set them apart as strangers, and savouring the little bird's name on her tongue once again. "Would you…like to have tea?" Tomiko hesitated, not knowing what she said until she said it.
Forgetting her 'appointment,' Himeko cordially accepted the invitation to tea. Contented with Himeko's agreement, Tomiko led way to a nearby café, where they would have tea. Tea sounded very appealing now, 'Tea with Tomi.'