Second Chances
SECOND CHANCES
PROLOGUE

The first and last fanfic I've ever written was done when I was 13 years old (man, that was so long ago!). It wasn't even an anime-based one. I think the cartoon's title was Zone Riders (eh, not too sure on that one, it's American). I tried making a romance between the characters Corporal Katerina Anastasia and Sgt. Tank Schmidt. I thought they looked cute together especially after they played husband and wife as undercover agents. I did it diary style. Uhm, unfortunately, it turns out that the lovely lady corporal was in love with the team captain Dirk. Eh! So what you'll be reading this time would be my second attempt. This was inspired by A Sailormoon Romance: Jadeite and Rei, The Past Returns written by Mara Julianne. If there are any inconsistencies here, well, forgive me then, Besides, it's only fanfic! Okay, read on!
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"Are you sure you can handle all of it, Grandpa?" Rei asked her grandfather again as he eyed the list in his hand.

"Sure, sure. Nothing to it." Grandfather dismissed. "It's not the first time I went to a grocery store you know." He reassured his granddaughter. Kids, he thought, still young and they worry about everything already.

Rei frowned. The last time her grand father went shopping for supplies, he'd nearly been thrown out the store for peeking under the cashier's skirt. She would've done the shopping herself but she had slipped and sprained her ankle yesterday. Forcing herself to walk caused excruciating pain. She sighed. The shopping couldn't be postponed for another day. There wasn't any food left at the temple and her friends were coming over tonight.

"You be careful now, Grandpa." She called off to the figure walking down the steps of Hikawa Jinja.

"I will...I will." He called back.

"And don't forget anything!" she reminded again as he disappeared around the corner.

Rei closed the door and took the walking stick that aided her walk. She was angry with herself for falling over the steps yesterday. She bit her lip every now and then to hold back the pain that occurred every time she stepped forward.

She peered over the fireplace, watching the flames dance brightly. Her two pet ravens Phobos and Deimos danced merrily about. Apparently the two birds were happy about something. It looked as though something good was about to happen. She shook her head. Something good should happen today. Her dreams of the past few days were strange and complicated. She hoped it wasn't an omen of things to come.

It was cold. Cold drops of water fell on his cheek, rousing him from what seemed to be an eternal sleep. He brushed the dewdrops that had fallen on his face. Gradually, he opened his eyes, only to close them again as he was blinded by the bright sunlight that greeted him. He carefully rose from the supine position. Pain seared through his head like a sharp flash, almost making him fall again. Only the quick support of his elbow prevented him from doing so. Every muscle on his body seemed to ache. Had he grown old and developed arthritis already? The flash of pain subsided after a while and the cramps of his muscles mellowed down. He opened his eyes, revealing their clear blue depths. A wisp of his wavy blonde hair fell in front of his face and he brushed it aside. Slowly he began to assess the vision before him. A field of green grass with tall trees planted intermittently and fragrant flowers scattered greeted him. A stone cherub stood in between a large pool of clear water, the stream flowing from the basin he held. In the distance he could hear children's noises, laughing, teasing playfully under the warmth of the sun and the blow of a gentle breeze.

"Where am I?" he wondered.

He stood up. He noted that the clothes he were wearing, a blue general's uniform, was tattered and torn. He was barefoot. When he raised his hand to touch his face, he felt a rough stubble on his chin. He moved over to the stone fountain and glanced at his reflection on the water. He almost didn't recognize his face.

I look pathetic, he thought. His wavy blonde hair was short but disshevelled. A fine stubble of the same color covered his chin lightly. That and his clothes taken altogether made him look like a derelict.

He stood straight and looked around. The place was totally alien to him. Why was he here anyway? He tried to think but couldn't come up with anything. It seems his mind was a total blank. Deciding he wouldn't get any answers by standing there, he started to walk.

"Look at that."

"He looks like a vagrant."

"Maybe he's a nutcase."
"Too bad. He's kind of cute though."

People whispered as the tall, blonde stranger in a torn uniform walked by. He merely ignored them and their snide comments. He simply wandered around the streets of downtown Tokyo, observing the place. He had been wandering for a half hour or so and still he had no idea where he was or why he was here. He tried to analyze but kept on coming to a blank halt.

Exhausted and with another attack of the splitting headache, he stopped and sat in front of a store. He closed his eyes trying to shut out the pain when a hand was suddenly put on his shoulder. Reflex prompted him to grip the wrist and pull the arm forward. The owner barely budged. When he opened his eyes, he was met by a kind pair of eyes the same fathomless blue as his own.

"Jadeite."

"Who?" he snapped back. He stood up to face the man whose face was at level with his. The man was dressed in a tailored suit. His long, brown curly hair framed his handsome face. At his arm was a young woman with red hair and a pink ribbon on her head.

He eyed the man menacingly, though apparently he wasn't threatened. Jadeite noted that the man's hand was still on his shoulder.

As if understanding, the dark-haired stranger took his hand off. He smiled, "We have been given a second chance, my friend. Don't let it go to waste." He stated.

Before Jadeite could ask what the other man had meant, the latter turned and walked away. "Hey! What do you mean?" he called. But the man did not seem to hear him as he escorted his female companion to a parked red sports car.

"Who was that Masato-sama?" the girl asked at last. She noted the man still calling for her beau.

"An old friend, Naru-chan." He replied as he started the car.

Jadeite stared at the vehicle that was about to leave. He was about to follow it when something heavy struck him from behind.

Thump!

He fell flat to the ground, his face missing the pavement by an inch. A heavy object laid on his back.

"And stay out!" an angry, burly man screamed. He was standing at the grocery store door, waving a rolled newspaper towards Jadeite. "If I ever catch you looking under my daughter's skirt again, I'll wipe the floor with you! And I don't care if you're an old man!"

Jadeite turned his head. The burly man wasn't screaming at him, but at the person who had landed on his broad back. It was a small, bald old man who was currently holding his hairless head. "People! They just don't respect their elders anymore!" he complained as he got up, dusting off his priest robes. He turned towards a bewildered Jadeite and shook his hand, "Thank you for breaking my fall there, young man. I could've broken my neck if you hadn't cushioned my fall." He proceeded to pick up the fallen groceries scattered on the pavement.

Jadeite had no clue what was going on. He looked over his shoulder to across the street. The car was gone. No chance of him finding out who that man was and why he knew him. His gaze shifted to the tiny man who smashed into him. The poor guy was attempting to balance three tall grocery bags full of food unsuccessfully. Before Jadeite could do anything, the man had fallen over and had spilled the contents over the sidewalk again.

Something in Jadeite's head told him to pick up the fallen goods and replace them in the bag.

"Thank you, young man." Rei's grandfather acknowledged. "Oh, I haven't even given you anything for helping me out earlier. How thoughtless of me!" He took an orange from one of the bags and handed it to Jadeite. "Take it. It looks as if you hadn't eaten in a while."

The former Negaverse General took the bright colored fruit and stared at it. What is this? He thought., eyeing the orange carefully. What purpose does it serve? A querying look was shot at Rei's grandfaher.

"You don't like oranges?" the old man asked. Jadeite simply stared back at him. The old man laughed. "How silly of me, of course!" he said. "Say, why don't you come back to the temple with me? I can give you something more filling than that. Come on."

Rei's grand father took the fruit back and led Jadeite's hand. "Oh don't be shy now." the old man reassured when he didn't budge. "We'll eat a lot of sushi, I'll pour you some warm tea, and I'll even spare you some clothes to change those rags." He pulled Jadeite but the latter stood still and unmoving. As if realizing something, Grandpa said, "You probably heard about my grand daughter Rei. She's not really mean, you know. She's actually a very sweet kid, so don't believe all that hearsay. Come now."

It was as though a spark had been lit for him when Jadeite heard the name Rei. As though something suddenly struck his clouded mind. Her name sounded familiar…and yet…he couldn't be sure. Perhaps this Rei person knew something about him that would explain his situation. He could use a lot more information than his brain was currently providing him with. He took two of the three grocery bags from the old man, lest they fall again, and said, "Okay, I'll come with you."

*****
Rei was sweeping the front steps of the temple when she heard her grandfather's offbeat humming. He would be in a fit if he saw her cleaning, as he insisted she rest her injured foot. But leaves and dust had gathered carelessly on the temple floor and it wouldn't be right. Her friends would be coming over tonight.
She looked up to greet her grandpa when he caught her eye. The smile disappeared from her lips. He was no less than ten feet away but she recognized him immediately. Under the dishevelled hair and the thin grazing of beard, he was the same man. Rei quickly drew one of her ofuda scrolls and chanted her exorcism. Despite her aching foot, she launched in mid-air to throw the scroll at her target.
"Rei stop!" her grandfather saw what she was about to do and jumped to block the sheet of paper she had cast.
Before Rei could put on her brakes, the scroll had hit her grandfather square in the forehead. He fell back and for a second time, landed on Jadeite. Rei, the pain on her ankle overcoming her, landed less than gracefully and collided with the two men. The three of them were sent crashing on the floor, with grandfather rolling aside and Rei landing on top of Jadeite.
Rei found herself atop the former Negaverse general, her face less than a foot away from him. She found herself looking into his clear blue eyes. A fiery warning emanated from her own violet stare, directing them at the man who looked back at her in wonder.
"Rei!" her Grandfather called out angrily. He proceeded to pull his grandchild off Jadeite. "That's no way to treat a guest!"
Rei's eyes stared at the old man incredulously. ""What?" she exclaimed, "You're not serious, Grandpa!"
Jadeite stood up and dusted off his worn-out garb. He proceeded to pick up the fallen grocery bags for the nth time. It seems the groceries spill out more than need be today. All the while he was staring at Rei who was engaging on a war of words with her grandfather.
So this is Rei, he thought. Somehow she looked familiar, though he couldn't pinpoint when or where he had seen her. But then, it's not possible...he concluded. For if he had met someone as beautiful as she was, he'd be sure to remember. And she was just that...beautiful.
"But Grandpa! You can't let him stay here." she protested,"He's...he's..." Rei couldn't get to tell her grandfather that the man he had brought home was Queen Beryl's general. Of course beryl was long dead, and still...
"He's a man with no home, no family, no food, no memory." the old man concluded. "He's my guest and I have a right to welcome to Hikawa Jinja who I please! Besides, if it weren't for him, I'd probably be in the hospital now!"
If he doesn't send you there himself, Rei thought bitterly. She threw a warning look at Jadeite. Not if I can help it, she told herself.
"Come now...uh..." Rei's grandfather called, "What's your name again?"
"Uh...." Jadeite stuttered. He can't seem to recall. What had that dark-haired man on the street called him?
"Jadeite." Rei replied curtly.
"How'd you know?" the old man asked his granddaughter.
"I told you...he's...he's..."
"Enough of that nonsense!" he dismissed Rei. "Come now Jadeite. Let me serve you some of my homemade tea. What a strange name you have."
Jadeite reluctantly obeyed. Rei's piercing gaze followed him. If looks could kill, he'd be sprawled on the floor now. Muttering something under her breath, Rei followed them inside.
The warm, brown liquid the old man served him was good. He learned that it was called "tea." It pacified the grumbling protest of his stomach. It was a funny sensation, as though he's never felt it before. The tea seemed to have alleviated it. He didn't know what to do with it first but after watching Rei's grandfather, he followed suit.
"Stay here. I'll go fetch us something to eat."the old man said. "You must excuse my granddaughter's behavior. She's not normally like that. She's just a little peeved with that sore ankle of hers."
Jadeite merely nodded. Rei appeared from behind the screen as soon as her grandfather had left. She half dragged her sore foot and sat opposite their guest.
"What do you want from us?" she asked bluntly.
"I don't want anything." he replied honestly, "Your grandfather invited me over, that's all."
"Don't play games with me." she spoke angrily,"I've known your ilk for the longest time." She stared back at him, "I thought I've gotten rid of you ages ago. Apparently not. What brought you back? Why have you returned?" she demanded.
He shook his head,"I don't understand. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Stop pretending. You're only making me mad!" her voice rose. Rei was on the verge of pulling out one of her ofuda scrolls when her grandfather reappeared.
"What seems to be the problem?" he asked, shifting his gaze from Rei to Jadeite and back.
"Nothing." Rei smiled at the old man.
"Would you like to join us for some rice balls?" her grandfather offered.
"No thanks, I'm full." she declined. She arose slowly and half-dragged her foot again, her face scowling in pain as she did.
"You know you should really be resting that foot, Rei." her grandfather reminded as he put down the tray.
"Don't worry about it, Grandpa. I can take care of myself." she reassured, walking away limping.
The old man shook his head,"That girl is as stubborn as a mule. Okay, let's eat."
Jadeite merely nodded. He didn't quite comprehend what the word "eat" means. He simply followed the old man's lead. He nearly choked at his first attempt to eat a rice ball, but got used to it after a while. It tasted good and it satisfied his protesting stomach just like the tea. The old man went merrily about talking to him about Hikawa Jinja.
That evening, Jadeite spent the hours sitting by the window sill. He stared at the beautiful moonlit sky. He had bathed, shaved, combed his hair and changed into a clean set of clothes. Rei's grandfather provided him old priest robes like the one the latter wore. The old man had invited him to stay, much to Rei's dismay. They had spent over an hour arguing about it, with the older one triumphing.
Jadeite closed his eyes, thinking. He still had no idea what was going on. All he knew was that he woke up this morning with an aching body, torn clothing and without a memory of what happened before that. The dark-haired man on the street apparently knew him. He even called him his name when even he himself could not recall it. If only he had spoken to him a little longer...and then Rei. Rei obviously knew who he was. But she can't seem to tell her grandfather. I thought I had gotten rid of you long ago...she had said. How long ago was that? And why did she get rid of him then? Who was he? Why was she so hostile to him?
He glanced over to see Rei's profile behind the screen. She was in front of the fireplace, performing a strange ritual. He sighed. It would've been nicer if she didn't dislike him so. He would've preferred to be in her good graces. She was cross when she had greeted him this morning. But that wasn't what drew her to him. His eyes had been focused on her long, raven hair flowing about her delicate frame looking so soft and delicate. How he had wanted to run his fingers through the silken strands. His gaze had also been drawn to her eyes. Eyes that had bored through him with disdain. He had seen beyond their hostility and saw the fiery passion burning with intensity within. He had wanted to drown in their violet depths, get carried in those purple flames. He remembered her breath on his face when she had landed on him earlier. So sweet, so tender. He could almost feel it now. Jadeite allowed himself to drift off with pleasant thoughts of the young woman behind the screen.
*****
Tik...tik..tik. It was 2 AM. On a normal day, she would be in deep slumber, dreaming of the prince who would sweep her off her feet and carry her off to his castle. This day, however, was anything but normal. She lay motionless in bed, staring wideawake at the ceiling. her severely disturbed thoughts preventing her from getting an ounce of shut-eye.
"Are you sure it was Jadeite?" Makoto had asked. Rei had told them of that morning'e event when the girls came over at dinnertime.
"I'm sure Mako-chan," she replied, "He came here dressed in his old general's outfit. It was worn out though."
"Doesn't your Grandfather recognize him? That he's been here before?" Minako said.
"Obviously not." she sighed, "You know how forgetful Grandpa is."
"I think you shouldn't have attacked him so soon, Rei-chan." commented Ami. "If he is who he is and he's planning something bad, he'll be more careful now because he knows you're on to him. He'll plan his attack well."
Rei became worried with Ami's statement. She shouldn't have been too impulsive, jumping at Jadeite like that from the onset. She suddenly remembered that it was Sailor Mars who finished him before, not Rei! Therefore...
"More dumplings anyone?"
The warm, baritone voice almost jump started Rei. She looked up from her plate and found herself staring at a pair of blue eyes that looked almost....well...almost kind. He was...she swallowed, smiling at her. If she had not been stunned, she would've noticed that the others were gaping at him as well.
"Gimme! Gimme!" Usagi's enthusiastic greeting snapped everyone back into reality. She took the tray from Jadeite's hands and helped herself to half of the entire serving.
"Thank you! It's delicious!" Usagi blurted in between dumplings to a stunned Jadeite. He nodded and smiled back at the girls before going back to the kitchen.
All gaze shifted back to Rei.
"Well?"
"Are you certain that's the Jadeite we know?" Minako asked. "He doesn't look threatening by any means."
"Looks can deceive, Mina-chan," quotedMakoto. "Personally, I wouldn't trust him. He looks way to innocent."
"Usagi if you don't slow down, tha dumpling will fall into your windpipe." warned ami as she watched Usagi swallow one piece after another.
"If you ask me, " Usagi said in between chewing,"He's probably just a lookalike. The real one has been dead for years! (Chomp) Unless of course some magic power reincarnated the entire Negaverse troop."
All four girls looked at Usagi simultaneously.
"Lighten up! (Cough...cough...choke..) I was..(choke)...just kidding. We destroyed the Negaverse forces years ago (choke)," Usagi laughed, finally swallowing the last piece of dumpling. "Besides, Luna reports to me regularly and there isn't any unusual sighting for the past year."
"Still," Makoto warned,"I'd be extra careful if I were you. Keep an eye on him at all times. And if he does anything funny," she slammed her fist on her palm. "Sailor senshi time."
"Shhhh..." hushed Minako, "He might hear you."
"All the better then," Makoto said, "Maybe then he'll abandon his plans and crawl back to the hole where he came from."
Ami turned to Rei,"Just be alert. Don't be too obvious on observing him. We'll send Luna or Artemis here every now and then, so then can notify us if you need help."
"You're all so paranoid." interjected Usagi, "Give the poor guy a break. For all we know, maybe he just wanted to come here because he's got a crush on Rei-chan." She winked at Rei.
"Usagi!" Rei's eyes bulged.
"Really now, Rei...he is kinda cute you know. And you did say your Grandpa likes him...hee.."Usagi teased.
"Why you..." Rei bonked Usagi on the head.
Rei pulled the blanket around her tighter. Makoto and Ami were right to warn her. And she knows she must be more discreet on observing him. He musn't find out who she really was. God she hoped she didn't give herself away with that dumb comment she made this afternoon. She reached under her pillow for the henshin stick. She sighed. She hadn't used it in a while. She didn't want to go about using it now. Not that she didn't enjoy being Sailor Mars and beating up the bad guys. But there's a part of her that didn't want to fire that Mars flame sniper at Jadeite. Rei returned the pen under her pillow before she got into entertaining other unpleasant thoughts.
TO BE CONTINUED......