June, 2005-Hello everyone! After some thought, I've decided to concentrate on only two stories of mine: this one, and the unpublished "In the Dark" this summer. But upon reading the first three chapters to "Shipwrecked," I realized how much they sucked. So I have completely revised this story in preparation for the release of chapter 3, which will be posted (hopefully!) next week. So to my old followers (if there are any left), bear with me; a new chapter will out soon! To any new readers I might have, I hope you'll like what I have so far, and please send feedback my way! Thanks!
Disclaimers: Sailor Moon and the others don't belong to me, but this story does.
Tsukino Usagi walked down the crowded streets by the docks, barely managing to make her way through the throngs of people as she tightly clutched onto two heavy suitcases, cringing at their combined weight. At the age of sixteen, with a slender frame and piercing blue eyes, Usagi had already begun to blossom into a remarkable beauty. The sun's golden rays further accented her long blond hair, giving her an almost angelic glow. Though she was nearly swallowed by the crowd, she still seemed to stand out among the masses.
Usagi wiped a bead of perspiration off her forehead, and set down her luggage with a grateful sigh. The girl took a moment to survey her surroundings and enjoy the light breeze wafting from the ocean. With a grin, she waved at two people standing in the distance. They returned the gesture with sad smiles and hesitant waves of farewell. With that, Usagi again picked up her luggage with another grunt, and turned away from the couple.
"Oh Kenji, I miss her already," the woman who Usagi had waved to murmured, her gaze riveted on her daughter.
"Me too...but she takes this trip every summer..." Kenji whispered back. He smiled and gave his wife a comforting pat before wrapping his arm around her slender shoulders.
"Don't worry…she'll be back before we know it."
"You're right," Ikuko Tsukino sighed. "Doesn't mean I'll miss her any less though." With a chuckle, Kenji pressed a quick kiss to her cheek.
"Come on," he said gently, "let's go home."
Usagi gazed at her ticket intently and tried to read the small print on the paper. In a matter of minutes, she would be on a ship on her way to the Philippines. It was an interesting tradition, Usagi thought, as she pushed past numerous seafood vendors hovering over small wooden carts. She visited her aunt every summer after the end of the school year, and enjoyed the month spent there thoroughly. Each year brought the same routine: Aunt Keiko would buy her a cruise ticket rather than a plane ticket like any normal person; according to Aunt Keiko, "the journey was half the fun." Usagi's aunt was a wonderful person with a great sense of humor and a thirst for adventure. Usagi loved these visits and could hardly contain her excitement as June approached. Her aunt lived by herself in a cozy home by the sea. Having divorced from her husband several years back and with no children of her own, Usagi's favorite aunt always longed for company. She regarded Usagi more as her daughter than her niece.
The girl loved the view from her aunt's home more than anything else. It was unlike anything she had ever seen. She would spend hours at a time staring out the window, gazing at the sea. Aunt Keiko always spoiled her niece with presents and souvenirs, so Usagi would not forget her time there. As if Usagi needed tangible reminders of those summer vacations. A small smile curved her lips. She wouldn't have it any other way. "Aunt Keiko, here I come."
Usagi ended her musings and took a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air, laced with the unmistakable smell of fish and seawater. Seagulls, among many other birds, flew overhead and cawed loudly in delight, which proved to be a racket, but everyone had gotten used to the big birds. Once in a while, one of the birds would stoop down into the dark, churning waters to smoothly extract a fish with their powerful beaks.
A large ship with Japanese Cruiselines printed in gold lettering was docked by the harbor. Usagi walked toward it, barely managing to haul the baggage with her. 'Oh, why must it be so heavy?' She clenched her teeth, now regretting her decision to pack so many clothes. Her mother had made sure she packed clothing for any type of whether Usagi might encounter, from shorts and t-shirts to layered jackets and thick wool sweaters. "You can never predict the weather," Ikuko had reminded her, and Usagi couldn't argue with that logic. Yet the blonde doubted that a snowstorm would occur in the middle of June.
"Tickets please," a man standing by the boarding line called cheerfully, his hands outstretched to take the slips of paper from the passengers. The ship's shrill whistle pierced the air. Usagi walked to the back of the line and waited behind a family of four. She gave the little girl standing in front of her, no more than four years old, a large smile. She grinned back, revealing missing teeth. 'How adorable!' Usagi thought, before she handed her ticket to the tall man with shiny black hair and broad shoulders.
"Here you are, Sir," Usagi said politely.
"Arigato Miss, and enjoy your trip."
She nodded. "I'm sure I will."
Usagi climbed the long ramp, hearing the wood creak with each step. Once inside the huge ship, she took her time exploring the magnificent ship, as she was in no hurry to find her room. Usagi found the main hall to be the most attractive, with its sparkling chandeliers and elegant decorations. The room buzzed of conversation as the people, chatted pleasantly, sipped drinks, and got acquainted with one another. 'So this is where everyone gathers,' she noted, 'and this must also be the place where everyone dines.' Numerous round tables were stacked on top of each other and piled by the walls.
Usagi came to her room, number 102, a couple hours later. Now quite weary from walking about the ship, and for getting up at dawn that morning, she twisted the brass knob on the wooden door and stepped in. The room was rather small, as Usagi had expected. The size did not bother her.
A small circular window was over the bed, and a modest sized desk rested at the other end of the room, accompanied by a gray wireless telephone and desk lamp. It was just how Usagi liked it, simple and efficient. Seating herself on the soft bed with clean white sheets that smelled faintly of the ocean, Usagi peered out the window, feeling quite at home at this place. She knew that her week on this ship would be quite pleasant. Usagi lay down on the bed and pulled the crisp sheets up to her chin.
She thought about her mother and father back home, her pet cat Luna, and all her friends. She missed them, of course, and couldn't help wondering if they missed her too. The gentle swaying of the ship carried by the currents in the ocean made the blond feel sleepy. She yawned a few times before her heavy eyelids became too much for her to keep open. Usagi fell asleep, and dreamed of meeting her aunt again...
She awoke several hours later to find herself bathed in complete darkness. She had missed her opportunity to watch the sunset! Usagi had always loved sunsets, and felt disappointed that she didn't get to witness it. 'Oh well...there will be others...' She reluctantly got up from the bed and stepped into the bathroom with a small sigh. The girl brushed her hair and tied it into a long ponytail that spilled down to her ankles. Usagi pulled up a light blue dress from her suitcase, which complimented the color of her eyes. She put it on hurriedly and realized that her stomach was demanding for sustenance. She had eaten a large breakfast but no lunch, and her hunger was almost unbearable at that point.
As she passed by the many rooms in the ship, a deep voice came over the intercom, transmitting an announcement from the captain of the ship. "Please join us for supper in the main hall. There I shall give a welcoming speech, as well as some suggestions as to what you might want to see during your stay here on the Japanese Cruiselines. Thank you."
Just as his message ended, Usagi reached the room and found it packed with hungry passengers. She could barely get into the room with all the people inside. After some minutes (too many, in Usagi's opinion), she managed to squeeze her way in, just in time to hear the captain's opening remarks. "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen!" A whistle was heard from someone, then enormous applause. "We hope you will enjoy yourself here, and to make sure that you do, here are a few places on the ship that might be of interest to you."
As the captain started listing the places he recommended everyone to visit, Usagi took a good look at the captain. He was quite tall, she thought silently, with jet-black hair and bright blue eyes a shade darker than hers. 'He's quite handsome,' she thought silently. Then her gaze landed on a younger man sitting behind the captain...a man who held a striking resemblance to the captain. Their features were almost identical. Usagi found herself entranced by the young man. Unfortunately, many of the other young women present also seemed to be in a similar state of entrancement. 'He must be the captain's son,' she realized. The blond just couldn't take her eyes off him the entire time during dinner. Her hunger all but forgotten, she monitored his every move and picked at her food absentmindedly.
After dinner, Usagi walked back to her room, deep in thought. She wondered if she would be able to see him again…or possibly meet him in person. Though considering the amount of attention he received at the reception, it'd certainly prove challenging. 'Tomorrow,' she resolved, 'I'll try to find him.' The mere thought made Usagi anxious. She felt a blush slowly creep to her cheeks and berated herself for feeling this way. She hadn't even spoken a word to the man, and he'd captured her curiosity. 'Why? It's not like he's the only cute guy you've ever seen before,' Usagi chided herself. In a moment of self-honesty, however, Usagi was forced to admit that—while "cute" guys weren't too hard to find in Tokyo—he far surpassed mere cuteness. He was, simply put, beautiful.
"Watch where you're going!" a deep voice shouted, irritation and no small touch of anger laced in his tone.
"Gomen nasai," Usagi muttered automatically, disoriented from the impact of the collision. She shook her head and looked up at the speaker, only to find herself face to face with...him. Frozen with shock, Usagi opened her mouth to say something, desperately hoping it'd be intelligent, but only stammered incoherently in response.
"I..." She was transfixed by the intensity of his stormy blue eyes.
This story was written and posted July, 2001, edited November 2003 and June 2005.