Mother

*****

I

*****

soyo kaze fuita ato honno sukoshi
hora kisetsu ga ugoku yo yume ga arukidasu
omoidoori ni narazu tomadottari

[The gentle breeze blows back just a little bit
Look! The season moves while I dream
I am a rascal when I want to be, but I can stop]

~Hanazawa Kae, "Motto Suteki na Asa ga Kuru yo" ["A More Beautiful Morning Will Come"]

*****

The twelve-year old girl shed her shirt and shorts, favoring the sleek one-piece swimsuit she wore constantly underneath it. White skin contrasting with the light and dark tans of her neighbors, Tetsu Umi did not care - she embraced the heritage of her mother's race. And now, her mother was waiting, silently, beneath the silky froth for Umi to dive in and become one with the ocean she was named for. Trilling a brief song she had learned from Amanyushuu, she felt the strands of her long grey-black hair brush her nearly bare back. Then she was dashing off the sandy shore, into the frothy surf and then on into the clear blue ocean waters.

"Umi," Muteo smiled, eyes joyous. "It is well to see you…"

"I've missed you," Umi answered in return, using the singing language her mother used when underwater. While she was learning to swim, she was learning to speak the language of her sea blood, and it was to her like swimming, breathing, and speaking Japanese was - purely natural. "Father and Kino took me to a new city that Katsuma-san helped build. It's half-water and half-land." She couldn't bring herself to call Kino her mother; though Hayami had married her nearly six years ago, it wasn't right. Muteo was mother, all logic stated stubbornly, so Kino clearly could not be.

"Ha Ya Mi…?" Muteo asked, suddenly shy. The two girlish figures were submerged along the shelf-line, bobbing in underwater currents that tugged and shoved in turn, eerily similar, yet different. "Brave Ha Ya Mi…"

Umi giggled, snapping her legs together like she would scissors, cutting forward through the salty waters. "That's my father, all right! Brave Ha Ya Mi!" she nodded affirmatively. "You promised you'd teach me the sorrow song of the seagulls, remember?"

"Yes," her mother nodded, red eyes gazing at a distant, unfocused point. "The sorrow song was first sung to Verg by my eldest sister and it begins like this…"

Anyone below or above water who heard mother and daughter thought them to be only mournful seagulls and dismissed the heart-wrenching cries just as carelessly as they would a seagull itself.

*

Hayami found himself staring at the sea again, a dying hope still burning faintly in his heart to see Muteo emerge from the waters. Kino had gone out to the recently established general store, to buy more supplies in preparation for the coming sea storm the news anchors had been preaching the glories of for what seemed like nearly a month now. Umi, he knew, had slipped away to the ocean once more, merging with its crystalline beauty. Had it truly been twelve years since he had found his daughter, naked, shivering, lonely, on the porch? Not once since the brief war finished had it crossed his mind that Muteo could have carried a child…his child. Their child. Umi.

Sighing, the tall man turned around, smiling lopsidedly at the portions of the wall where Umi had dented it kicking a soccer ball around happily and the deep gouges in the wood floor created by her dragging a karaoke machine on its back edge everywhere when she was nine. Singing was her greatest talent, followed, as Kino joked, very closely by creating havoc wherever she felt necessary. The rascal was as beautiful as her unseen mother and as furor about life as Kino was, but Umi still refused to call Kino the sacred name of mother. The two were more like bosom buddies than a stepmother and daughter.

Kino, it seemed to Hayami, was willing to accept that she was second-hand in both ends of the relationship.

"I don't think I can ever love you," he had told her before proposing. "I can only be your friend for eternity."

"That's all right," she had smiled in reluctant understanding. "You love the monster girl and as long as I can love you, I'm happy."

"I," Hayami heard himself whisper softly, stirring the tea in his coffee mug reflectively, "am sorry, Kino. I never meant to learn to love…"

Muteo, his heart finished and, in the distance, he saw Umi slowly creep out of the water, shaking her tangled mane of dark hair out, thin white, yellow, and black body covered by her red-and-white candy-cane style bathing suit. She turned and waved good-bye to someone he didn't see, taking off up the beach to the house.

"Father!" came her breathless cry. "Father, can I call Oric-kun?"

Oric, a feline 'monster' boy that was the son of Amanyushuu and a deceased cat-man, was the only friend of Umi's that Hayami really knew. The cat-boy was only eight, four years younger than Umi, but they were inseparable whenever one or the other's respective parent met to discuss peace treaties.

"Why not?" he replied, setting his tea down on the counter and grabbing the phone quickly, leaning out the kitchen window strategically placed over the sink and handing it to the wet, slick hand of his daughter; she stood on her tiptoes outside the window to accept the piece of hard plastic technology, knowing fully well not to enter the house until she was dry.

Hayami listened until she had typed in the phone number and was talking the gibberish language she and Oric had invented. Undoubtedly, he though with an amused shake of his head, about the new playground there was talk of building underwater.

His tea was beginning to cool, so he crossed the kitchen to sip it before it lost all heat.

Outside, the sky was darkening in a foreboding way, while lightning flashed along the horizon and fuzzy grey streaks cut off vision near the horizon as well.

The cry of one seagull's song whispered sadly through the evening sky, almost hidden by the crashing of increasingly large waves.

Then again…it might not have been a seagull after all.

*****

Ahem…until next time, as they say! This was Chapter I, obviously.

Soooooooooooo…what didja think?

PallaPlease.

DISCLAIMER:
Blue Submarine No. 6 and all characters - disregarding Tetsu Umi - are © to Bandai, Toonami, Cartoon Network, WB!, AOL, etc.
Lyrics to "Motto Suteki na Asa ga Kuru yo" were obtained from www.lyricmoon.com and are © to all affiliates of Takeuchi Naoko's KODANSHA series "Bishoujo Senshi Sera Mun," including TOEI Animation and DiC. Both versions of the song are from the Sailor Moon Sailor Stars Opening Theme CD Single, played in episode 178.
"Mother" in its entirety, all situations and plot devices thus far, is © to myself, referred to on-line as PallaPlease or Purple Mongoose/PallaPlease.