LIVING A LIFE FORETOLD
Chapter 1: "Terrible Reunion"
A Sailor Moon fanfic
By Bill K.
Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2006 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2006 by Bill K.
As always, for those only familiar with the English dub:
Ryo Urawa: Greg
Diet: Japan's legislative body
The day had been long and hectic, and more work loomed for the night. Japan was in the midst of a recession and the people weren't happy. The boom of the nineties was going bust. Even the electronics and tech companies, two of the businesses that had shoved Japan headlong into the runaway economic growth it had experienced, were finding hard times. Protectionism from markets like the United States and Europe, coupled with competition from Korea and China, were gumming up the smooth Japanese economic machine. Add to that cultural clashes between generations and influences, concerns about foreign defense and the presence of foreign armies in the country, and the general unease of the world markets, and it wasn't a very good time to be a politician in power.
Yet Shinjiro Hino reveled in it. For there were perks to being a politician whose party was in power that counterbalanced the problems. And his party was in power, as it had been for a decade. As a rising member of the Japanese Diet, and as a protege of the recently retired party chairman Toguro, Hino had power and all the benefits that came with it. So what if there were fifteen hour days sometimes? What else would he be doing with his time that meant as much to him? It wasn't as if he had a family to go home to. Though women sought him out, both for his position and for his good looks, he'd long since given up on the opposite sex as anything more than a fleeting diversion. There was only one woman he'd ever loved - - and she was gone.
Power was his lover now, as it had been his seductive mistress during his short marriage to his departed wife.
Though he was gone from office, former Chairman Toguro wasn't gone from politics. He still lobbied his former fellows on behalf of a few select clients. They were usually industrial moguls looking to use any influence Toguro had left with the Diet, for though Toguro was a deposed old lion, he still knew enough about his former colleagues to be able to know what arms could be twisted and which palms needed greasing. And this evening he had an appointment with Dietman Hino.
Hino made sure to clear a spot on his calendar for Toguro, despite his busy workload. Hino was ranked in the Diet hierarchy, but he wasn't head - - yet. And the current Prime Minister, Yuki Arashi, was an old foe of Toguro and Hino. It wouldn't do for Hino to slight someone like Toguro. Though defanged, he wasn't declawed, and for Hino to outmaneuver Arashi, it paid to still have Toguro on his side.
Toguro arrived promptly at seven. Hino noted that the old man still valued punctuality. He bowed respectfully to Toguro and the old man took it as his due.
"Nice office," Toguro commented as he took a seat in front of Hino's desk. Hino offered him Saki and the old man took it with a gentle nod. "You've certainly done well for yourself, despite the current political climate."
"The wise man knows when to bide his time and observe his enemy," Hino smiled, repeating a saying Toguro was fond of. The old lion chuckled.
"Why does that sound so much more deadly when you say it, Hino?" he said, the smile not vanishing from his lips. "Ah, you always had the charm, Hino. It's too bad that serpent Arashi won. I had hopes that you would succeed me."
"I'm grateful for the faith you placed in me, Toguro-sama," Hino replied, brushing the black pencil-thin mustache on his lip. "I like to believe that it's faith that was - - prescient rather than misplaced."
"With the right friends, it would be," Toguro smiled.
"You know of such friends?" Hino asked, trying to draw out the cagey old politician. "I am always interested in meeting someone who shares my views."
"I do," Toguro said. "They believe there's money to be made and prosperity to be recaptured. They believe that the current downturn in the economy can be reversed, something that would benefit the men representing their interests in the Diet."
"And this would entail?"
"The steering of certain governmental subsidies away from dead end concerns such as consumer electronics and computers," Toguro began enticingly, "and into other industry in which Japan can compete. The bottom has fallen out of the tech market. If Japan doesn't pull back, she'll be sucked down the drain with it. Armaments are the future. There will always be war,particularly with the current climate in America and the Middle East. Cutting edge technology in armaments will always be in vogue and cutting edge is what Japan does best."
Hino listened to the proposal with incredulity that he hid well. How could Toguro think the munitions giants in the U.S. and Europe, let alone the bargain basement munitions still available through the old Soviet Bloc, would let Japan compete when the World War II treaty could still be used as a leash? This was as stupid a concept as he could ever remember Toguro embracing, which meant his silent backers were spreading around a lot of money. While the money was a temptation, it wasn't enough to make him want to take up such a hopeless battle.
"An interesting idea," Hino told him with all the sincerity he could manufacture, "but I'm not sure the political climate is right for such a bold move. I doubt Arashi will be receptive to such an idea. He's very pro-tech and they support him quite generously. And Arashi has a lot of support."
"His support isn't what he thinks it is," scoffed Toguro. "The recession has done as much damage to him as it did to me, simply because he hasn't been able to live up to his promise to reverse it. He's vulnerable on the issues." Toguro took a sip of the Saki. "I will grant you that he does have a strong base in the Diet, but it's not a tested base. Give it the right push and it might swing to another candidate."
He looked directly at Hino.
"Someone from a more sturdy lineage," Toguro hinted.
Hino's eyebrow raised. He still thought Toguro's proposal was rubbish, but if he could ride the old man to a higher spot in the pecking order - - possibly even the Prime Minister seat, it was worth his time.
"Perhaps you're right," Hino ventured. "But Arashi won't go down without a fight on this. I'm not sure we're ready to take him on so soon after . . ."
"Arashi is taken care of," Toguro huffed and Hino noticed just how bitter the old man still was about being toppled by the man. "In the ensuing chaos, a strong hand can bring the factions together under his command. Will you be that strong hand, Hino?"
"Taken care of how?" Hino asked.
"Never mind that," Toguro replied. "Will you be that strong hand?"
Hino thought it over. What Toguro was hinting at sounded at the very least unethical. It wasn't that Hino was a virgin in politics, but one had to be careful. Unless Toguro had some scandal to connect to Arashi that was sure-fire dynamite, he seemed to be throwing caution to the wind in gambling on the negative effect it would have on Arashi's power base. It was that lack of caution that gave Arashi the chance to topple Toguro initially.
Still, the thought of the Prime Minister's chair being in his grasp made it very hard for him to be careful.
Minako Aino ascended the steps to Hikawa Shrine with a bouncing jaunt to her stride. Her gait matched her mood. Things had been looking up in her life recently and it all started here just six months ago when she told Rei about a script Minako's agent had given her. The priest's response still echoed in her head when she mentioned the script's title, "Island Princess".
"You might want to read that one," Rei had told her, in that earnest, confident manner that gave the priest her otherworldly aura, "soon."
"For real?" Minako had responded, demonstrating an unusual lack of wit.
"Trust me," Rei had said. Even now Minako felt goose bumps when she recalled it.
Half way up the steps, a fifteen-year-old girl buzzed past her on the way down. She caused Minako to turn and stare, not because of her looks. The girl was rather ordinary, with medium length black hair and unremarkable features. Minako stared after her because of the girl's barely restrained rage, a rage so hot she was muttering to herself. A smile of recognition curled Minako's lips.
She found Rei at the top step, angrily attacking the dirt on the walk with a broom. Dust clouds rose from the stone path while Rei's violet eyes smoldered with characteristic violence. Her red mouth was hardened by clenched teeth and her knuckles were white around the handle of the broom. Of course, it wasn't the priest's duty to be sweeping. That usually fell to the miko of the shrine. But that was assuming the shrine still HAD a miko. Rei looked up, her vision telling her of Minako's presence because her temper was blocking her sight. She noticed the knowing smile on the dazzling young blonde.
"What are you smirking about, you hyena?" the priest snapped.
"Ran off ANOTHER miko?" Minako inquired. She knew the answer; she just wanted to get a reaction.
"I am NOT going to let some lazy teenager hang around here because the only reason she wants to be a miko is because she thinks it makes her more attractive to BOYS!" Rei roared.
"There's a better reason?" Minako asked.
"Did you come here for something?" Rei demanded.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact," Minako argued playfully. "I wanted to give you this!"
Her hand stuck out, shoving a metallic gold gift bag into Rei's face. The startled priest took a step back until she realized it was a gift and it was for her - - and it wasn't ticking.
"What's this for?" she asked as she took the bag. Minako could see she was completely flummoxed.
"A thank you gift," Minako explained. "Actually, it's a 'lot of thank yous' gift. The first one is for forgiving me for that whole model thing six months ago."
"You've already thanked me for that," Rei said, her hand diving into the bag. She brought out a long winter scarf of red and violet. "Oh, it's beautiful! Is this silk?"
"Yeah. I figured you could do a few things with it, especially now that it's getting colder. It's to thank you for 'Island Princess', too."
"Did they pick the show up?" Rei asked.
"Too soon. We only just finished filming the pilot. But Toshi saw a print and he liked it. He thinks it's got a good chance. And I hope it sells, because I love this role! I get to sing and act and do comedy and drama! And I owe it all to you."
"I think you had a little hand in it," Rei smiled.
"Yeah, but I might not have even looked at that script if it wasn't for you! Or I might not have given it that little extra something when I auditioned, because I remembered what you said when I went in. And that helped me! I think it put me over the top! So I owe you."
"No you don't," Rei said, putting her hand on Minako's shoulder. "You're my friend. It's no charge. You may get on my nerves sometimes, but you're a friend and helping friends is not an imposition or chore in any way. You'd do the same for me."
"I'd like to think that," Minako began.
"You would," Rei stated.
"Yeah," Minako blushed. "There was kind of another reason for the gift."
Rei stared for a second. "You want to know if the pilot will sell?"
"Damn, you're good!" Minako gasped.
"You want me to read your future again?"
"If you could?" Minako ventured timidly. "Because I figure you're my good luck charm now."
Rei dropped her head to hide the smile on her face. She was incredulous, but then again this was Minako.
"I'll help you clean," Minako ventured. That brought a snort of laughter from Rei.
"You? You and 'clean' are mutually exclusive terms."
Minako flashed puppy-dog eyes.
"Go inside," Rei said, half-laughing. "I'll get prepared."
"Yes!" Minako exclaimed and half-danced into the shrine.
As part of her internship, Dr. Ami Mizuno was rotated between several departments in the hospital she worked at until she decided on a specialty. Today was the middle of her month-long stint in the hospital's emergency room.
The sheer variety of patients she saw in emergency room work made the job interesting. Though only a doctor for six months, she could safely say that she'd seen more things in the past two weeks than in her previous five months. Everything from children with flu to stabbing victims rolled through. It was a lot to master in a short time, but Ami actually embraced the experience. To the surprised pleasure of Dr. Aya Nakahara, her supervisor, Ami handled everything with the skill and cool head of a seasoned practitioner. The young intern had a brilliant mind, that he knew going in. She also demonstrated a coolness under fire that one didn't see in young doctors that much - - as if she were used to making decisions amid stressful conditions. He'd even ventured the first feelers to her about making emergency room care her specialty.
For her part, Ami was reluctant. While she couldn't argue with her supervisor's assertion
that she was a great aid to people who clearly needed aid urgently, the work seemed too
impersonal to her. Her job was to get a patient stable enough to transport to a room and a bed,
where an attending physician would take over. Ami did her job, as required, but couldn't help wondering after every person she ferried through the ER to another doctor. While the training she got here was invaluable, the young intern was arriving over the course of days at the conclusion that she would prefer to do more for fewer patients.
This day found her working beside Dr. Nakahara, as they tried to stabilize a sixty-six year old woman suffering from a fall down a flight of steps. Dr. Nakahara did the primary work in treating the victim's shock and the break in her hip while Ami monitored her blood pressure and respiration for signs of sudden drops. This would indicate cardio-pulmonary distress and would take precedence over the hip. Just then, the duty nurse at the receiving station leaned urgently into the door of the exam room.
"Dr. Nakahara!" she called out. "We just got a call from a medic unit! They're transporting a gunshot victim here!"
"Is Aramatsu busy?" Nakahara asked. He looked away from his patient and Ami immediately moved in to continue her treatment.
"He's still with the driver from that auto accident," the nurse responded. "And Yomohara is with the poisoned child."
"Go ahead, Dr. Nakahara," Ami gently suggested. "I think I can handle this case."
Nakahara looked at Ami, startled. She felt herself blush over her boldness. Then he grew a pleased smile.
"I'm sure you can, Mizuno," Nakahara said. "But this is my patient. Why don't you take the gunshot victim."
"Me?" Ami asked, startled by the suggestion. Gunshot victims were, by nature, more involved than victims of falls. It was a tremendous vote of confidence in her skills.
"First time for everything, Dr. Mizuno," Nakahara said. Then he turned to the duty nurse. "Pull Nurse Togosa off of the auto accident, so Dr. Mizuno has a safety net to work with. Get someone else in with Aramatsu and here with me."
Nurse Togosa was the most experienced nurse in the ER. Ami felt a little better having such a veteran to work with. She doffed her gloves and hurried off with the duty nurse.
"Don't worry, Dr. Mizuno. You'll be fine," the duty nurse told her.
"Thank you," Ami smiled, then let her doctor side take over. "Do we know any particulars about how the shooting occurred?"
"Well, it's all over the emergency bands," the duty nurse related. "He was shot by government security forces. He actually tried to kill Prime Minister Arashi!"
"Really?" Ami gasped and her mind began turning over possibilities as to what type of person he might be. "Have you notified security?"
"I'll do that, Doctor," she replied, "even though the security agents are coming in with him - - according to Tatsuo."
Tatsuo, a medic unit driver, and Reiko, the duty nurse, were dating. Ami allowed herself a moment's smirk, then got back to business. The medic unit pulled up and instantly two medics were hauling a Gurney through the doors of the ER. On the Gurney was a gaunt man no taller than she was. His black hair was tousled and unkempt, his skin leathery and stretched over bone and little sinew. The lower half of his face was obscured by the oxygen mask strapped on. One of the medics pushed the Gurney while the other kept pressure on a chest wound. Ami and Nurse Togosa, a sturdy woman of forty-nine with short black hair, swooped in.
"How many wounds?" Ami demanded. Her eyes counted three: Upper right chest, right forearm and lower right thoracic cavity.
"Four!" the medic related. "There's one in the lower left abdomen. We've got pressure pants on him!" Pressure pants were plastic pants that went over the legs and hips and were inflated to put constant pressure on leg and abdominal wounds.
"Type and cross-match!" Togosa called out to an orderly. "This one's going to need a lot of blood!"
The patient was wheeled into an open exam room. An orderly stood by with a cardiac crash cart, in case the patient went into arrest. Outside, two officers of Japan's security force stood watch. As Nurse Togosa inserted the intravenous shunt into the patient's left arm, Ami reached for a needle in order to begin closing the chest wound.
"Patient's beginning to wake up," Togosa told Ami. The nurse reached for a sedative.
Reflexively Ami looked into the eyes of the waking patient. Instantly a chill of recognition swept down her spine.
"M-Mizuno?" the haggard, gaunt man rasped, his emaciated body and worn, haunted face seeming to be fifty and not twenty-seven.
"U-Urawa-kun?" Ami gasped. It couldn't be. But she knew those eyes. They were the same eyes that stared at her with love in a fourteen-year-old's fantasy.
"Dr. Mizuno?" Togosa inquired. "Are you all right?"
Ami stared for a second more, then shook herself. She looked up at Togosa as if just hearing her at that second.
"Yes," she choked out and snapped back into doctor mode. "Yes, forgive me. Please sedate the patient, Nurse."
And while one part of Ami Mizuno's compartmentalized mind employed her skill and her education toward saving Ryo Urawa's life, another part reeled out of control, wondering how the delicate, sensitive genius she once could have loved could have ended up like this? And what could have motivated him to attempt to assassinate the Prime Minister?
continued in Chapter 2