The darksome pines that o'er yon rocks reclin'd
Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind,
See from my cheek the transient roses fly!
See the last sparkle languish in my eye!
- Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard
"What the hell are they doing?"
Usagi, Mako and even Rei stared goggled-eyed at the pair walking arm in arm down the street toward them.
Kazuya took his hands out of his pockets, smoothed his hair and spoke again:
"Is that Toshiro, or are my eyes playing tricks on me?"
"Nope that's Toshiro alright." Mamoru commented, staring.
"Is that Aino-san?" Kazuya asked calmly.
"Yep, that's Minako." Mako replied.
"And are they actually, or am I dreaming; holding hands?"
There was silence as Mina and Toshiro, holding hands, walked into the ice-cream shop smiling and sat down side by side at the table.
"Hi guys!" Mina chimed, grabbing a menu, "I'm starved."
"H-hi, Mina." Usagi gulped.
"You guys sure are quiet today." Mina giggled.
"Yeah," Mako nodded slowly, "Uh, about that...um..."
She trailed off.
The server entered and took their orders. Once he was gone, things went back to being awkward again.
"So," Mina said brightly, "what's up with the studio, Kazuya-kun?"
"Um, well, I should be able to show you the final prints tomorrow."
"Yeah, I'm very excited about the photos we took at the end. I think those will be the best of the lot."
"I enjoyed doing that," Mina nodded.
"I have a few proofs here with me, if you'd like to see them"
Kazuya handed her the prints from his bag.
Mina rifled through them energetically.
"Oooh, look at this one," she cooed holding it up for Toshiro to see it as everyone else watched the two of them, amazedly; "see, that's the one when I was hanging off that rope. And look, here's you and me when you rescued me, Toshi-chan."
Kazuya nearly collapsed. Mako's eyes came close to popping out of her head, and Mamoru and Usagi froze in identical expressions of disbelief.
Toshiro smiled, picking one of the photos up to look at it.
Mina glanced at it and blushed.
"I don't know if I make a very good angel," she laughed, "look at me swinging back and forth."
"You look beautiful, Minako." Toshiro murmured, and slid a strand of her hair behind her ear.
Everyone stopped breathing until finally, Usagi exploded.
"Alright!" she yelled, pointing a hand dramatically in the air and causing everyone in the shop to look at them, "This is too much.
Mina, Toshiro, what is -?"
Mamoru clamped a hand over her mouth.
"Ah, what she means to ask is -well - um I guess we're all sort of surprised. I mean-" he stuttered, "that it's sort of, well, you - we - uh -"
"We're dating." Mina supplied.
"Ah-hah." Mamoru nodded in mock calm as the rest of the table went into shock.
"Would you care to elaborate?" Rei asked quietly.
"Um..."Mina glanced at Toshiro who merely quirked an eyebrow at her.
"No." she said happily.
"Ok, then." Rei sighed.
"Maybe later," Mina winked.
"Maybe, later." Toshiro echoed.
Rei groaned as Mina and Toshiro smiled at each other happily and everyone else at the table collapsed.
As she exited the shop, Rei was thinking furiously about Mina and Toshiro. They looked so happy, she thought, I'm glad for them, but it all seems so sudden.
Mina's face suddenly sprang into her mind again.
She looked so...content. Rei thought wistfully, I wish.
Then she stuffed that thought down hard.
I don't need that, she growled to herself, I don't need anything like that - I have my friends, and grandpa - I don't need anything else.
Suddenly Junshi's face appeared in her mind. I - he's my friend, she thought frantically, he's my teacher - it's not -
She looked up and thought she was still imagining Junshi's face.
I wish I could, she began longingly.
"Hino-san? Are you alright?"
Junshi was standing in front of her, only a foot away, peering worriedly down into her face.
"Hino-san?" he asked again, then hesitantly, "uh...Rei?"
Rei shook her head and felt herself blushing.
"Oh- sorry, Sotou-Sensei, I was...thinking...I didn't hear you."
Junshi smiled gently.
"It's alright, Hino-san, I'm sorry I interrupted your thoughts. They must have been important."
"Oh, no!" Rei waved a dismissive hand, "Nothing special. So, what are you up to?"
"I was going to meet my brothers," he said, looking off in the distance behind her, "I'm late. They wanted me to meet some friends of theirs."
"Oh, that sounds like fun," Rei smiled.
"Yes, I hope I'm not too late." Junshi smiled down at her.
They both forgot to continue the conversation until someone yelled:
Looking up, Rei saw Kazuya walking toward them.
"Hey, Junshi, oh - I guess you've already met Hino Rei."
Rei and Junshi looked at each other in surprise.
"Well, yes, she's -"
Kazuya is his brother? Rei thought, startled - he wanted me to meet him - as a friend?
" - my student." Junshi finished.
Rei's thoughts came crashing down. Which made her realize the impropriety and also the rashness of what she'd been thinking: that her teacher, a man she really didn't know that well, could have such a powerful effect on her emotions.
"Yes, I didn't know that you and my sensei were related, Kazuya-san," she answered, "it's a very small world."
"I guess it is," Kazuya laughed, "well, come on Junshi, you have to meet everyone. Are you coming, Rei-san?"
"Ah, no, sorry, I have to go check on my grandpa."
"Oh, well, see you later then."
Rei turned to leave, she needed a long walk home to sort out her emotions.
She stopped and looked back, trying to be cheerful.
Junshi looked worried again.
"I -" he started, then sighed.
"I hope your grandfather is feeling better today?"
"He is, thank you."
"I'm glad to hear that," he nodded," Um, Hino-san, I -"
"You coming, Junshi?" Kazuya called from the shop entrance.
Junshi smiled wryly and looked back at Rei.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Hino-san. Our last lesson, eh?"
"Yes." She nodded, "See you tomorrow, Sensei."
She watched as he turned and jogged to Kazuya waiting by the shop. Then she turned and began her walk home.
Kazuya grabbed Mina's sleeve as everyone left the shop.
"So?" he hissed in her ear as they stood behind Mako and Usagi chatting with Mamoru.
"So what?" Mina whispered.
"You know." He nodded toward the group.
"You are so dramatic, Kazuya-kun. You know you really should have been an actor."
She rolled her eyes, but smiled.
"I don't really know for sure, but I think she still likes you."
Kazuya eyed her desperately.
"But why does she keep avoiding me?!" he almost yelled before she hushed him.
"I'm not sure, alright?" she sighed, "There's something in the way."
"But I've changed," he wheedled, "I mean, I've tried. I am trying."
"And your doing a good job too, but I guess there's something else."
"You must really like her," Mina commented surprised.
Kazuya shot her an exasperated look.
"You think?" he asked sarcastically.
"Look, Kazu-chan." Mina whispered, "I don't know what it is. She hasn't talked to me about it in a while, and the truth is that I don't think she will anytime soon. She'll feel awkward because Toshi and I are together."
"Yeah, about that -" Kazuya began sternly.
"Never mind," Mina replied, smug, "the point is you'll have to get her to talk to you about it, because I really don't think she'll tell me."
"But she avoids me." He complained, "how can I get her to talk to me?"
"Well, then find someone she does talk to," Mina snapped, "but whatever you do, I have to go now."
They both looked up to see Toshiro watching them calmly. He raised an eyebrow at Mina and she brightened.
"See you later, Kazu-kun, good luck!" she called as she ran to Toshiro's side.
"Wait a minute!" He yelled. "Damn it."
He sighed and watched Mako wondering off with Usagi and Mamoru.
"There has to be a way to find out how she feels." he said to himself.
A noise caught his attention.
'That hair looks familiar' he thought. He followed Sazume into the alleyway.
Sazume sighed happily.
Sailor Mercury was sitting beside him by the lake, hidden by the trees.
"I -I wanted to - to tell you something." she murmured shyly.
"I have something to tell you too," he said, his heart thumping irregularly.
He'd decided it was time to admit his feelings for her. After pouring his heart out to Junshi yesterday he'd decided to go with his gut instinct and tell her. It was an easy decision to make but not an easy one to follow through on.
"Oh," she glanced at him, her blue eyes big with surprise, "Oh, please, you go first."
"What? No, no, you go first, please," he said.
"No, no, really, it's nothing, what I have to say, I mean," she fumbled.
"Well, me neither, really." he mumbled.
They both looked away, embarrassed.
"It's just that-" He began.
"I was thinking -" she started.
They both stopped and blushed. Zume smiled.
"I have an idea," he said, "let's toss for it."
"Toss?" Ami asked puzzled.
"Yeah," he stood up and gave her a hand. Then he pulled a quarter out of his pocket.
"Heads," he said and flipped it, but the coin rolled off his palm and fell into a puddle.
"Uh-oh," he commented lowly.
They both got bent over the puddle to find it.
They were so engrossed in this that they didn't notice they were creeping toward each other until their foreheads collided. Both of them reeled back; Ami landed on her butt, while Zume rocked back onto his knees.
"Oh, I'm sorry -" he started, as he rose to help her up.
"I didn't mean to-" Ami began, as she put one hand to her head and held out the other to him.
He grasped her hand but slipped on a rock and fell forward onto his face.
"Are you alright!?"
When he looked up he realized their faces were only inches from each other, and both of them were very red.
"Um..." He said.
He pulled himself and Ami up in one graceful motion, until they were both on their knees, face to face, and retained one arm around her, while her hands were placed on his chest to balance.
"Mercury," he began again, in a softer and more determined tone, "I need to tell you something. I"
He broke off as, to both of their surprise, Ami leaned in and kissed him.
When she pulled away, they blinked at each other, nonplussed.
Until Ami finally realized what she'd just done.
"I-I-I," stumbled, becoming brilliantly red, "I don't- I didn't-"
Something between Zume's mind and heart clicked.
"Well, I did." He grinned and with an aggressiveness he'd never known he possessed, grabbed her face with both hands, pulling her in to kiss her again. He leaned down eagerly and scooped her up off the ground, letting her feet dangle, and kissed her much longer than she had kissed him.
He eventually released her and set her back on the ground.
It gave him quite an adrenaline rush, he observed.
He was slightly amazed at himself, he'd never acted like this before. But then, he added, he'd never felt like this before either.
"Um, I'll see you tomorrow?" she asked, wobbling slightly.
"Definitely," he grinned voraciously, then came to himself a bit more and blushed.
"Goodbye." he murmured affectionately, and teleported away.
Sazume nearly jumped out of the window of his room.
"You almost gave me a heart attack, you idiot!" he fumed as Kazuya sauntered out of the shadows of the doorway.
"Interesting," he commented smoothly, "why are you so afraid? Are you hiding something, little Sazu?"
"No, stupid," Sazume snipped, "I'm just not used to random people appearing in my bedroom in the middle of the night. Call me crazy."
"You were out rather late tonight." Kazuya noted slyly.
"I had more research I had to do."
"Really? On what, pray tell?"
"None of your business; ever heard of it?"
"Oh, that's funny, because if I didn't know any better, I'd have sworn you were interested in astronomy now."
"What do you mean?" Sazume asked in sudden dread.
Kazuya let loose a sinister chuckle.
"Let's just say that I know what your favorite planet is."
"And that would be?"
Sazume paled and whipped around to face Kazuya.
"You can't tell anyone, you cretin! If you do I'll -
I'll - "
"Cry?" Kazuya suggested mildly.
"I'll kill you!" Sazume roared.
"Right," Kazuya agreed.
"Zume, Zume, Zume," he shook his head sadly, "little Zume, my little brother -"
"I'm not your brother-," Zume snapped.
"-Who I love more than anything," Kazuya continued, "there's no need to get so worked up. I promise I won't tell anyone."
"Oh thank you, Kazuya!" Sazume's face transformed with relief and happiness.
"If," Kazuya remarked, "You do me the tiniest of favors."
"What kind of favor?" Zume asked through clenched teeth.
Kazuya bent his head and whispered quickly in Zume's ear.
"Are you insane!?" Zume screeched in fury, "Never in a million years-"
"Now, Zume," Kazu warned, "I wouldn't want Toshi-kun to find out about your little breech of conduct -"
"I don't care!" Zume railed desperately, "Anything is better than that!"
"Oh, come on, Zume-chan!" Kazuya dropped all pretense of patience, "I need you, you have to do this for me!"
"Please!" Kazu pleaded, taking Zume's hand, "I'm desperate. Have pity on this deranged fool. You know what it's like to be in love. Please, Sazume, have a heart."
Sazume squinted at the pathetic face and large, winsome eyes that Kazuya was directing his way, but finally he gave in.
"Alright," he groaned, "I'll do it, but just this once."
"You're wonderful!" Kazuya embraced him enthusiastically.
"Just let me go to bed, already." Zume pushed him off and turned out the lights, maliciously leaving Kazuya to stumble around in the dark on his way out.
At the classroom the next afternoon, the overcast sky promised a heavy rain. Rei was gathering her papers after the conclusion of their last lesson before she would take the exam.
The rain started to drizzle down the windows. Rei sighed in exasperation and relief. She wouldn't have to meet Junshi again, though a part of her was sad at this thought. She coldly snuffed the rebellious thought.
Junshi felt as though he had a cold, on top of the melancholy that was already there to the fact that Rei no longer needed him and he no longer had an excuse to see her. His head was killing him.
"I guess this is goodbye, then. Thank you."
Her words resonated oddly, they tickled at a corner of his mind.
Before he could return Rei's bow, Junshi's body suddenly stiffened. She watched in some alarm as a stricken expression crossed his face.
"What is it?" She asked worriedly, but Junshi didn't hear her.
He was no longer in Tokyo, or even the Earth, he was in the past, on the moon, in a palace of sorts, and across from him a princess in crimson was bowing.
"Well," she said in gentle tones, the tiny bells in her ornamental head dress chiming softly with her movements, "I suppose this is goodbye. Thank you, Prince Jiko."
What? he questioned groggily, Why is she addressing me as if I was royalty? Who is she?
He felt his body move independent of his will and realized he was either caught in a lucid dream... or memory.
The woman straightened, and with a mental gasp he recognized her face. Even though the gown and adornments she wore were alien and antique he still knew it was her.
Rei. He thought. But -
His hand moved forward suddenly as though to catch her voluminous sleeve, but he hesitated.
"Princess," his voice called softly. Princess? he thought, Rei is-was a princess?
The princess Rei turned back to him gracefully.
"Yes?" she asked, as he remained silent, "Is there something you wanted to say to me?"
Junshi's alter-ego of the past remained silent, but Junshi could feel the emotions coursing through him as though they were his own. His heart sped up, his breathing accelerated, and suddenly the emotions really were his own, the same familiar spark that always ignited some flame in him that spread it's warmth through his entire being every time he saw her. He was there, He was the Eastern king, trying to say something vitally important to this beautiful girl.
And he realized in that moment what it was, but it was too late, she was turning away from him just as he remembered, more than a thousand years ago.
"I love you." he whispered.
He could see her walking farther away, he knew that was how it would end because that was how it had ended a millennia ago when he'd let her walk away.
"I love you." he said to himself as he savored the words and their meaning, it was such a surprise to him that he'd actually fallen in love.
He blinked. Princess Rei wasn't in the room anymore but he could hear her voice.
"What did you say?" her voice sounded frightened.
He opened his eyes (he hadn't realized they were closed) and saw Rei dressed in her temple robes, staring at him. Her face was white, but there were two small roses forming on her cheeks.
It hadn't been a dream, he knew, it was a memory of his past self, and Rei. He'd loved her then, devotedly, but he'd never told her. Looking at her now, her hair falling around her shoulders like a black curtain and her large violet eyes watching him with a strange expression, he realized that he still loved her, perhaps more than he ever had.
"I think I need to go," she said, and her voice held a slight tremor that didn't escape his notice.
"Rei, wait, I need to explain something-" he started, but she shook her head and turned to almost run out the door.
He stood, not knowing quite how to react. She had left him, just as she had before, and this time he'd honestly, though inadvertently, told her how he felt. She didn't feel the same, that much was obvious. It was that exact fear that had made him silent the first time.
The first time. His thoughts murmured, something nagging tugging at his mind. The first time around he'd loved her since the moment he saw her standing on the Moon palace steps, her black hair and scarlet robes swaying in the wind; tranquil, mysterious and amazingly beautiful. But he was always too shy where these matters were concerned, and he couldn't be certain that she felt the same, so he'd said nothing.
And then she'd died.
The memory was so shocking, springing into his mind without warning, violent and visceral, that for a moment he was rooted to the spot.
She had died, he remembered watching it (though why he hadn't been with her he couldn't understand), her vibrant eyes wide in anguish.
He shuddered involuntarily. She'd never known, and he remembered with what despair he had seen her lying on the ground, and what utter helplessness he felt now remembering it all and knowing he was powerless to change it.
The first time around. He thought sadly, but then lifted his head. The first time around, his mind murmured, but this is the second time which meant...
It wasn't too late. He was here, she was here, and they were both alive.
Not noticing that he'd dropped his glasses and not bothering to grab his coat, he bolted out the door and in the direction she'd run as fast as he could go.
Ami and Mako were changing out for gym, getting ready to play volleyball.
Though Ami wasn't fond of volley ball especially, she was already dressed while Mako was still trying to find her other shoe.
"Did you drop this?" a soft, mellifluous voice asked shyly.
Mako and Ami looked up, startled, to find an uncommonly beautiful girl watching them. Her slim figure was already dressed in the gym outfit, but her long hair hung around her shoulders, and Ami noted that she appeared to be wearing make-up.
Why do some girls insist on wearing make-up in gym class, she thought sadly.
"Uh, thanks." Mako took the shoe the girl offered and stood up smiling.
"I'm Kino Makoto," she introduced herself, "I don't think I've seen you here before."
"No," the girl smiled fetchingly, "I'm sure you haven't, this is my first day. I'm visiting. I actually go to another school."
"You look very familiar," Ami frowned, "Do you go to any of the academic meets or groups?"
"Ah," the girl spluttered, "Oh, no, no. Uh, oh I hate school! So boring! Ahahahaha. All I care about is make-up and boys!"
Ami turned her head to hide a grimace as the girl twittered away.
Makoto looked startled but slightly amused.
"What did you say your name was?" she asked, putting on her shoe.
"Uh - I'm Sakura," she blurted.
"Just 'Sakura'?" Makoto queried and began to pull off her shirt.
Sakura turned a brilliant red as her eyes bugged out; she turned quickly in the opposite direction as though hunting for something.
"Ah, hahaha," she giggled nervously, "No, no, that would be silly. My name is Suzuki," she said, glancing at a poster on the wall, "Yes, Suzuki Sakura."
"Excuse me for saying this," Mako mumbled from inside her shirt, "But that's kind of a weird name."
"Well, my parents were crazy, what can I say," Sakura chirped, "But enough about me, what about you girls?"
Ami and Makoto shared a look.
"Listen, you seem a little nervous," Makoto intoned as she brushed out her hair into the familiar pony-tail:
"If you feel anxious about your first day, you're welcome to hang out with us."
"Oh," Sakura reddened, "thank you very much, Kino-san. Oh,
I don't believe I've met you, Miss-?"
"Mizuno Ami," Ami replied.
"Oh, what a pretty name, well I hope we'll all be friends. You are both so nice that I'm sure we'll be sharing secrets in no time!"
Ami arched an eyebrow in Makoto's direction, but Makoto only shrugged.
"Time for volleyball!" she grinned and grabbed Sakura's bony wrist.
"Eh, really?" Sakura twittered, "Uh, I'm not that good at sports."
"It's ok, no one else is either."
Makoto left Sakura standing beside Ami and ran to the other side of the net.
"Uh, why is Kino-san playing with the boys?"
"Because, she's so good she gets bored playing with the girls," Ami explained.
Just then someone served the ball over the net and it crashed into Sakura's face.
"Ouchies," she mumbled, as Ami tried not to laugh.
"Hey, sweetheart!" A boy called from the other side, "Why don't you watch what your doing? You might get that pretty face all messed up."
He started laughing and the other boys joined in. Sakura looked away embarrassed.
"Shut it, Aito," Mako fixed the boy with a stern look and he shut up immediately with a gulp.
"Are you alright?" she called over.
Ami reached up a quick hand to brush away Sakura's hair. She leaned in close to peer at Sakura's forehead, while Sakura blinked down at her.
Ami's brows snapped together. She knew she'd seen this girl before.
"She's fine!" Ami called back.
"Uh, thank you, Mizuno-san," Sakura said, blushing.
Ami smiled, but kept her focus on trying to figure out where she had seen Sakura before.
The boy that Makoto had warned waited until Mako wasn't looking then slammed the ball at Ami, who also wasn't looking.
It would have struck her full on in the face, if Sakura hadn't intercepted it.
"Pick on someone your own size, you coward!" she yelled, and pummeled the ball with incredible force at the boy, hitting him in the groin.
He collapsed to the gym floor, his face green.
"Alright, that's it for the day!!" the instructor called out, hastily, trying to revive Aito. The class dispersed instantly.
Sakura turned to Ami saying, "Are you alright, Mizuno-san?"
Ami shook her head, then looked sharply into Sakura's green eyes.
"I know who you remind me of," she accused, "Satou Sazume."
Sakura blushed furiously, and waved her hands in front of her face.
"Oh, no-no-no-no-no!" she laughed a little crazily, "Ah, that's-"
"You do," Ami insisted, "Do you know him?"
"I-uh-well-that is, ah- no," Sakura stuttered, "Ah, he's -he's my brother."
"Your brother?" Ami asked, nonplussed, "But, what about your name?"
"Uh, well, I don't like to talk about it, you see we don't have the same father. My mother got divorced and re-married."
"Oh," Ami nodded, "My parents are divorced too."
"They are?" Sakura halted as they made their way back to the locker room.
"Yes, but it's not such a terrible thing," she said in response to the odd look on Sakura's face.
"My parents separated when I was very young. My mother's a doctor, and my father is an artist. I haven't seen him in quite some time. But though they don't want to live together any more they're still on comfortable terms with each other. Nothing to be ashamed of."
"Oh, yes. Eh -Mine too." Sakura mumbled, "Uh, tell me, Mizuno-san, do you have any siblings?"
"No, but I always wanted one. You're lucky to have Satou-san, "Ami smiled to herself, "He and I don't get along very well,
but it's still better to have someone, don't you think?"
"Uh, I suppose so," Sakura acknowledged, then frowned.
"Why don't you get along with Sazume?" she asked tentatively.
"Well, to be honest with you," Ami was surprised by how comfortable she felt talking to this strange girl, but she went on, "I liked him very much when I first met him."
"You did?" Sakura's eyes grew as large as saucers.
"Oh, yes," Ami blushed, "but then I found out that we were rivals for the scholarship. The truth is, I really think we could've been friends if...well, but I guess that won't happen, there's too much anger and resentment between us now."
"That's..." Sakura got a far away look in her eyes, "unfortunate."
Suddenly she realized they were in the dressing room where all the girls were engaged in changing out of their gym clothes and showering.
"I - forgot something, Mizuno-san!" she gurgled, "I'll meet you at lunch!"
Before Ami could turn around, Sakura was gone.
What an odd girl, Ami thought.
Later at lunch Sakura sat down between Ami and Makoto.
"Where's Usagi?" Ami asked.
"I think she and Mina are skipping today, there's some movie they want to see and they convinced Mamoru to take them. I think Satou Toshiro will be with them."
"Satou Toshiro?" Sakura asked, startled.
"Yeah," Makoto said around a mouthful of rice, "He goes out with our friend, Aino Minako. Do you know him?"
"Uh, no," Sakura said, but I thought I did - she added silently.
"It's sort of out of the blue," Mako continued, "you know? I didn't even know she liked him. I definitely didn't know that he liked her.
He's a little older than we are."
"Oh," here is my chance, Sakura thought, -"Would you ever date a guy that was older than you, Kino-san?"
Mako paused in thought, "I guess so."
"What's your ideal age? I mean, for instance; twenty?"
"Well, I'm sixteen," she replied, "I guess four years wouldn't be too bad, but I'd probably prefer someone younger. I have a young personality. I wouldn't want someone too mature."
Well, that's one point in your favor, Kazuya - Sakura thought dryly.
"Is there anyone you have in mind?" she asked.
"Um - I don't think so," Mako answered, blushing. She stirred her rice.
One point against, Sakura sighed.
"But -" Mako started, "There is one guy that I do sort of.
that I think is interesting."
"But, he would never look at me." she added, embarrassed.
"Oh, do I know him?"
"I don't know, probably not!" Mako blurted. "He's - uh,
he's not in our class."
Uh-oh, Sakura thought, darkly, Kazuya will not like this.
She rose, suddenly saying, "Well, I've got to get back to class,
I have some homework I have to finish before it starts! It was so nice to meet you both. And, Mizuno-san," she said suddenly, taking Ami's hand, "if you see my brother -
uh...don't think too harshly of him?"
Ami nodded. Sakura giggled and tottered away, as half the boys watched her dance across the hall appreciatively.
"That's a strange girl, Ami-chan." Makoto commented.
When Sazume came home that day Kazuya was already waiting for him.
"So, what did you find out!?" He cried.
Zume threw his bags and girls' clothes down disgustedly.
"Not 'hello, Sazume' or 'thank you, Sazume'", he mentioned sarcastically, "You are so selfish, Kazuya."
"I'm sorry, I'm just - I can't -" Kazuya clutched both fists in his hair:
"I'm just so anxious to know, I like her so much, it drives me crazy sometimes."
Sazume felt a twinge of regret.
"Well, I think you may be a little disappointed," he admitted.
"Really?" Kazuya asked in an odd voice, "That's alright. Just tell me, whatever it is, it's ok."
Sazume was surprised by the suddenly mature, resigned tone Kazuya had used. He really has changed, Zume acknowledged.
"She likes someone else."
Kazuya was silent for a moment, staring.
"I see. Do you know who?" he asked calmly.
"I think it's some boy in my class - I can't remember his name."
"It doesn't really matter."
Sazume glanced worriedly at the other man.
"Thank you, Zume-chan. You really are a good friend."
He reached out and laid his hand on Zume's shoulder.
Zume shrugged, but gave Kazu's hand a friendly pat.
"What will you do now?" he asked.
"Do?" Kazu looked at him, a slightly amused expression crossed his face.
"Nothing." he replied, "There's nothing that needs to be done, as long as Mako is happy."
Rei reached the temple and nearly collapsed in a heap from running so hard. As it was she had to lean against the door frame for support while she caught her breath. Her mind was in a tumult.
How could he say that? She thought frantically. He's my friend. How could he just blurt that out? She'd purposely refrained from considering her feelings on the subject of their friendship - she'd always told herself that the attraction she felt for him was because they were like-minded, it was a platonic thing.
But now, with her mind and heart in a whirl, she slumped to the floor in front of the fire and faced all the things she'd been hiding from for so long. (I don't feel that way about him), she admitted wretchedly, but what can I do? (I really don't know anything about him. This is terrifying.)
She stared into the sacred flame trying to breath slowly and to calm her heart and mind, but as she watched, something extraordinary happened.
She began to feel light-headed, as though she was being lifted away from her body and being put into the body of someone else.
Am I fainting? she asked herself queasily. But this didn't feel like fainting. Her vision cleared suddenly but she found herself in a garden under an evening sky that held not the moon, but the earth.
She noticed then that her body was moving independently from her will, she realized she'd felt this way once before.
(I'm in a memory), she acknowledged.
Her memory self was walking through a quiet garden on the moon, and as she looked over to her right she noticed someone was watching her.
With a shock she recognized, Junshi. Only he wasn't dressed like Junshi, he was dressed like a King, in a uniform with light armor and a dress sword buckled on his side. He caught her glance and smiled shyly, bowing very low. He's very handsome, she thought fondly, then gaped... that means he was part of the Silver Millennium. But that meant if he was here that he was also reincarnated - which made him one of Endymion's Shintennou. For a moment her anger flared and she was unreasonably irate that he hadn't shared that information with her.
But then she saw him salute her hand. Or rather, felt him do it. And all thoughts of anger fled at his touch.
(That's amazing.) She shivered inside the body of the old Princess of Mars, whose own heart was hammering loud and fast in her ears.
It was a light and respectful salutation, he barely held her hand and there was nothing suggestive about it, and she blushed only slightly in the memory before she nodded and turned away: but not before she caught the expression in his eyes that he hadn't meant for anyone to see.
This made her heart leap up into her throat.
His clear blue eyes, as he flashed them for only a moment on her face, were so full of tenderness and devotion that she thought the sheer emotion would overwhelm her. She felt guilty, as though she'd peeped directly into the depths of his soul and seen something she shouldn't have, but it thrilled her to know it was there.
(He loved me), she thought in amazement. The memory shattered in that moment and plunged her back into the present still staring at the flame, but it left her with a million questions like tiny fragments.
(Why did he never tell me?) she asked the fire, (why did he pretend there was nothing more than friendship?) and then; (does he love me now?) The fire flickered back and forth as though deliberating which question to answer and not meaning to answer any of them.
"Do I love him?" She asked, almost without thinking.
In the fire an image burst into view: a dragon entwined with a phoenix, both in brilliant crimson and sapphire-green sheens.
Finally she understood. She recalled from her first dream the image of the shadowed man with the dragon on his lapel.
"Hino-san." A haggard voice wheezed. She turned around sharply and gave a cry of surprise to see Junshi, as out of breath as she had been earlier - his blonde hair dark and plastered to his face in damp curls - leaning against the door for support. He had run after her, all the way to the temple.
"Junshi, I-" she started, but he held up a hand to halt her.
"Wait," he gasped pulling himself upright, "Give me a chance to explain, please. Just let me explain this once, and I won"t ever bother you again."
She remained silent and he took this as acquiescence.
"When I first met you, I thought you were the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen," he began calmly, almost matter-of-fact.
"Every time I looked at you it threatened to overwhelm me. I didn't remember then, that we'd met before. I didn't remember anything."
Rei started to open her mouth but he stopped her again with his hand.
"I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you, but I've grown to love you more through these last months." he confessed quietly,
"Everything about you - your courage, tenacity, ingenuity. The way you take care of everyone in your life. How could I not love you?" he asked almost defensively, "I didn't know that I did. I kept telling myself that I was your teacher, that I was fond of you and you were a good pupil, and that it would be wrong of me to take advantage of our relationship. But, just a few moments ago, I remembered something very important."
"You see," he sighed, rubbing a hand through his hair in a habitual gesture of frustration or nervousness, "You and I, we met before, more than a thousand years before, in the Moon Kingdom. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I swear it's the truth. The point is," he looked her in the eyes for the first time, "I've always loved you. In the past I was too shy to tell you, I felt - no - I knew you couldn't possibly return my affection - so I never told you. But," and Rei was surprised to see that he was very close to tears, "after you - after - it was over, I couldn't stand the thought that you'd never know. And so, here we are again, and I decided - it was better to tell you than to let you go on forever without at least knowing how much you mean to me."
Rei felt tears coming to her eyes, but Junshi looked away and so he didn't see them.
"I'll understand if you want me to go, and I'm ready to," he assured her earnestly, "say the word and I will pack tomorrow." He smiled a little wistfully, "It's just that...I love you."
He looked at her apologetically:
"It's never changed, and I don't think it will. I'm really very sorry." he finished.
Rei stood unmoving.
He looked down at the ground in humiliation: until something sparked in his mind.
"Wait," he said in a different voice, looking up at her pale face as she watched him, "wait...did you just call me 'Junshi'?"
She burst into laughing and crying and smiling all at once.
"You're so ridiculous, Satou-san." she sniffed.
"Hino-san," he murmured humbly, "I'm so glad I got a second chance, and I'm so very sorry that I made such a mess of the first one -"
He would still have said more but Rei went suddenly to embrace him and he was caught up in hugging her so that he couldn't finish his sentence.
"I can't believe it," he whispered.
"You can't believe it?" she hissed in a shaky voice, "I can't believe it. Junshi, you crazy idiot, you're an absolute moron."
He pulled back at this to look at her with a questioning face, but she was smiling and so he smiled too.
When she finally released him, she laughed at the slightly happy, dizzy look that he gave her.
"I've wanted to do that since I first saw you." Rei admitted.
"That would have been awkward," Junshi commented with a lopsided smile, "in a classroom full of teenage girls. What would the nuns have thought?"
"I wouldn't have cared," she rejoined haughtily, "but that wasn't what I meant. I mean the first time I saw you, on the steps of the palace on the day you arrived."
Junshi looked at her speechless .
"You remember?" he breathed.
She nodded and tentatively put a hand to his cheek. He grasped it and held it there.
"You felt the same way?" he asked disbelievingly.
"I don't know. I'm not sure how I feel. But I can figure it out." she added, almost like a promise.
He nodded and they stared at each other for a protracted moment.
"But why didn't you say anything?!" he suddenly cried.
"Well, I might ask you the same question, stupid!" Rei jabbed an accusatory finger into his chest, but he caught her hand and held it.
"I will never withhold anything from you again, for the rest of my life," he promised solemnly.
Rei snorted but said gently, "Slow down there, Satou-san."
He smiled as he bent to hug her.
"We'll see, Rei-chan."
"We'll see." she agreed silently.
"Well, are you ready?" Mako called out.
Kazuya flashed her a thumbs up sign from behind the lens of his camera.
Mako let loose the dove from its cage and it flew, not toward the perch it was supposed to alight on, but out the window instead.
"Oh, crap." Mako muttered as she vainly attempted to catch it before it flew away. As she leaned out to scare it back, she felt an arm around her waist and was hauled bodily back inside.
"As much as I'd like the dove, I think I'd miss my assistant more"
Kazuya said wryly, depositing Mako inside the studio.
"Oh, sorry." She blushed.
Kazuya shrugged and flopped onto his lumpy sofa.
"We'll just have to come up with something else to personify nature."
They were trying to create a piece of art that would show nature's beauty for the local Reservation - it had been a specially requested project.
Kazuya rubbed his eyes and leaned his head back against the couch. He felt Mako flop down beside him and decided to keep his eyes closed. It was always easier to do that when Mako was near.
He hadn't been sleeping well since he'd discovered that she liked someone else.
"Kazuya-kun," she asked suddenly, "is something bothering you?"
Mako looked around the room, which was half a studio,
and half Kazuya's apartment. Though she generally helped him keep it organized and even did a little cleaning (though he did the majority)
it still looked neglected of late. She also noticed that the paintings he'd done were different from the ones he normally did.
"No, I'm fine." Kazuya startled her out of her reverie.
He took the opportunity to peep at her from under his eye lids as she lay back against the couch, her long hair pooling around her head, as she turned to look up at him.
The familiar feelings coursed through him but then he snapped his eyes fully open.
"I've got it," he said springing up and pulling Mako up with him.
"What is it?" she asked surprised.
"Sit here," he said, and placed her in the middle of the shoot, sitting on the log they'd rolled in from the park.
Now that he was focused on his profession, the artist in him took over and he forgot about distractions for the moment.
He crouched in front of her and smoothed her hair out of her eyes, making her blush.
"Take down your hair," he ordered, and she complied, startled.
Once her hair was free of its holder she shook it out and it rippled in reddish brown waves past her shoulders.
"Take off the jacket," he said as he went to get the camera.
Still blushing and uncertain, Mako took her jacket off to reveal the spring green blouse she wore underneath. The short,
baby-doll sleeves were rumpled from the jacket so she gave them a quick tug and straightened the mandarin collar, unbuttoned to her white tank top.
"Ok," Kazuya said, bringing the camera very close, "Now,
look at me, Mako."
She gasped, looking up. He'd called her 'Mako' without even realizing it, and the familiarity made her blush charmingly,
with a look that was a mixture of Innocent surprise and hidden warmth.
"Perfect," Kazuya said, so engrossed that he never realized the slip he'd made.
He took a few more pictures before he put the camera down.
"I think that the first one will be the one that we use" he said, looking at the digital proofs.
"Oh, wow, is that me?" Mako asked, and he looked up to find her face an inch away, staring in fascination at the picture.
"Yeah," Kazuya said, still gazing at her while she looked at her picture. He noticed with her hair down, her face looked more delicate, the slender lines were softened by her wavy hair.
He found himself leaning in again.
"I look...pretty!" Mako cried delightedly.
"You are pretty," Kazuya said softly, tucking her hair behind her ear, and she turned quickly from the camera to look at him uncertainly. She blushed and looked down.
Idiot, he thought, and quickly drew away from her.
"That will work very well, thank you, Kino-san," he crossed to the sofa to retrieve his camera case and loaded the camera into it, taking a few steadying breaths.
"You may want a few of these prints," he commented casually, "In case you want to give some to a...friend."
"Well, I could," she agreed, slowly, "but the girls already have plenty of pictures."
"I meant, maybe to someone special." he said, still looking down at the camera.
"I-I-I don't know of anyone."
"No one? Isn't there anyone that you think would love to have a picture of you?" He gazed at her gently with an odd, longing expression on his face.
She frowned in confusion.
"Well," she blushed, "there is someone I would like to give it to, but I don't think he'd really want it."
"Why not?" Kazuya's brows snapped down.
"Because, well I mean, I don't think he feels- I mean, I don't think he knows - he doesn't really know that I would like him to have it. And I don't think it would make him happy."
She looked up to find that Kazuya had deposited the camera on the sofa and was storming over to her.
"How could he not?" He asked angrily, and Mako backed away a little startled:
"I'm sorry, Kino-san," he said, attempting to calm down:
"But what kind of a moron wouldn't want that?"
"Uh-, I'm not sure what -," she began.
"I mean, who does he think he is?" Kazuya continued vehemently, pacing the floor as Mako watched him in confusion.
"I just, I want to -" he made strangling motions with his hands, then took a deep breath and strode up to Makoto, taking both of her hands.
"I hope you'll forgive me for what I'm about to say, but, he doesn't deserve you, Kino-san. I've sat by and said nothing, but I can't do that any more. I'm going to give this guy a piece of my mind."
"What?" Makoto asked, shocked. She was completely bewildered by the turn of the conversation.
Kazuya grabbed their jackets in one hand, and Makoto's hand with the other.
"Kazuya-kun," she asked at last, "What are you doing?"
He turned quickly to her and took her hand again,
"Listen to me, Kino-san," he said determinedly, locking eyes with her and making it difficult for her to breath:
"I know you've got a crush on someone at school. Never mind how I know, I want you to be happy, and if this guy is what you want, then so be it. We'll get him to see the light. But," he stepped closer and dipped his head, "if you decide to change your mind, give me a chance too, ok?"
Makoto gasped and paled again.
"What!?" she spluttered. Her heart was beating very fast.
"I was afraid you'd feel that way," he said, straightening, "And I don't blame you. I know I've been a jerk, but I can do better, if you'd just let me show you - please, Makoto?"
He grabbed both her hands in his.
"Please, give me a chance."
"I - could you give me a second?" she asked breathlessly.
He released her hands and turned away.
Makoto sat on the steps outside his apartment door gingerly.
What is he talking about? she thought. Did he mean -?
"So where is he?" Kazuya asked with his back turned.
"Where is who?" Makoto queried, still not understanding.
"Him, the guy that you're so crazy about. It's time we gave him a long deserved lecture."
Makoto stared at his back, his tall frame posed in frustration, his hands in his pockets, clutched, his long hair blowing in the breeze. She saw that he'd picked up her hair tie, and watched as he tied his hair back with it. Then something clicked in her mind and everything suddenly became clear.
"He's here." She said, smiling.
"Where?" He turned around sharply, whipping his head back to find Mako's supposed crush.
Makoto started giggling, quietly, but grew louder as she watched Kazuya grow more frantic.
"I don't see him," he complained, "Where is he?"
"He's standing right there," she laughed harder.
He stood in front of her, hands on his hips.
"What the hell does this guy look like?"
Makoto burst out laughing and nearly fell down the stairs.
He took her by the shoulders and leaned down to look her in the face.
"What is so funny?"
"I'm sorry!" Makoto wheezed, "You just - you just -"
"He's not here, is he?" Kazuya asked sourly, crouching until he was level with her shoulder, looking up.
She looked at him affectionately, and managed to say:
Kazuya paused, and watched her face thoughtfully. She stopped laughing, only chuckling very softly and looking at him with a warmth he'd never seen before.
"He's here?" He asked quietly.
Makoto leaned forward on the steps and poked him gently in the chest with her finger.
"Here." she said softly, with a smile.
Kazuya didn't break his gaze, and his expression didn't change, but he wrapped a hand around hers and held it very tightly.
"Mako-chan," he said solemnly, "Before I continue, I want you to know that I think I am probably in love with you, alright?"
Mako froze, "Ah -"
"Excellent. Now that that's out of the way -"
With that he jerked her arms around his neck, causing her to fall off the steps toward him, as he kissed her and teleported simultaneously.
When Mako's head stopped spinning they were back in Kazuya's studio, and he was still holding her. He was smiling down at her with joyful expression.
"Why are we back here?" she asked.
"Privacy." Kazuya answered and pulled her arms around his neck again, holding her tightly.
"Now, tell me something, Mako-chan." he murmured in her ear.
"Sure." she breathed, eyes wide, she felt her knees beginning to weaken.
"Do you like me?"
Mako gulped and managed to nod as he kissed her right below the ear.
"Good." he whispered smugly, "You have excellent taste."
Her head shot up, but he laughed and caught her with another kiss - this one much longer than the first.
"Wow," she said when she could breath again.
"I like you, Mako-chan," Kazuya murmured into her hair.
"Hmm," Mako grinned and hugged him, "You have better taste than I do."
He quirked an eye-brow and without warning bent and flipped her over his shoulder, carrying her to the sofa where he dumped her and then fell down beside her.
She smiled up at him impishly, but as he bent to kiss her again:
"Kazu-kun, how did we get back here?" she asked, pulling away reluctantly to stare at him.
Kazuya sighed. For an answer he jumped off the sofa and casually transformed into his alter ego.
Mako jumped back, shocked. Then she giggled.
"What is it?" he asked, his hair coming loose from the tie, "I know the cape's a bit much, but -"
"It's not that," Mako said, and bringing out her transformation pen, she hid a bit behind the couch and promptly changed as well.
"That's impressive," Kazuya remarked when she was done, but she noted the gleam in his eye as he shifted his focus to her feet.
"What?" she asked, "oh, the boots? I know, they look a little scary -"
"Mako-chan, Sailor Jupiter," Kazuya cut in, "you have the best legs I've ever seen."
"Thank you," Mako blushed, "I think."
"You're welcome." He strode over to her, his transformation fading as did hers, and reached over to pull the hair band out of her hair again. Then he tipped her face up to look at him as he pulled her gently down to sit on the sofa.
"You're the perfect height, Kazu-chan." she sighed happily, sitting.
He laughed, but stopped when she frowned.
"I thought you didn't like me," she pointed out.
"I thought you didn't like me," Kazu answered and lay down,
inviting her to join him.
"I guess we were both wrong," she said, scooting in beside him.
"No more misunderstandings," he declared, wrapping his arms around her and resting his cheek against hers, with his chin on her shoulder.
"No more." she agreed, and folded her arms over his. Resting on the sofa they fell asleep as thunder sounded above them and the rain began to pour down.
When Mako woke a little later she turned to find Kazuya muttering agitatedly in his sleep. She had just had the strangest dream of her life, culminating in the return of her memories - a few concerning Kazuya were especially interesting.
But now he seemed to be having a nightmare. She twisted until they were face to face on the couch, his arms still around her,
and put a hand to his cheek gently.
"Kazu-chan?" she said softly, and his eyes opened. He stared dazedly for a moment, blinking, then focused on her face.
"Mako," he breathed, "I just dreamed that -"
"I know," she broke in, "I did too."
"Is it real?"
"I think so."
He shifted and held her closer, resting his chin on her head. A very self-satisfied grin flashed across his face.
"Which is why I have decided that we will be voting again today, even though Luna and Artemis won't be back yet."
Mina was running the meeting in Rei's home, despite the fact that Luna and Artemis were out of town for the weekend.
All of them had assembled except for Mako, who appeared as Mina finished, her face red from running.
"Sorry," she panted, smiling sheepishly, "I got caught up with something and lost track of the time."
"No worries, Mako-chan," Rei chimed. She seemed to be in unusually good spirits today.
Mina was happy all the time, it seemed, and now as she sat down,
Ami and Usagi noted that even Mako had an odd glow about her that had nothing to do with her sprinting.
"So, let's put it to a vote. Should we reveal our identities to the Shitennou? Remember we have to be unanimously agreed to do this. Usagi?"
"Definitely! I said it once and I'll say it again!" Usagi declared around a mouthful of rice ball.
Ami, for some reason blushed and took a deep breath.
"I still hold to my opinion that it would be wise"
"Yeah, uh, I think so." Mako grinned, "I'm behind it one-hundred percent."
Everyone turned to look at her, wondering if she still felt hesitant to allow the Shitennou to know who they were.
She smiled secretively, to their surprise, and answered:
"Really?" Usagi gaped.
"Yes," Rei pursed her mouth, throwing a disapproving glance at the rice falling out of Usagi's mouth.
"I guess that leaves me, and I'm totally agreed, so that's a resounding 'yes'!" Mina finished cheerfully.
"I'll let them know then," she said, tapping on the screen behind which Mamoru and the Shitennou were waiting. All of them transformed as they waited for the Shitennou to enter.
The Shitennou and Mamoru came in to stand against the wall, nodding politely to the Senshi, though, as Ami watched she thought she caught a conspiratorial wink pass between Mina and Mamoru.
She also thought it was odd the way Komokuten and Sailor Jupiter were eying each other. Then she saw Zochokuten and her heart started thumping out of her chest. They would finally get to meet each other in their true identities.
"Well, Senshi, what did you decide?" Mamoru asked calmly.
"We decided that in order to better facilitate the future of our professional working relationships," here Mina almost lost it and started to giggle, the others looked at her in suspicion: "we will reveal our identities to each other,
if the Shitennou agree."
"We do." Tamoten answered solemnly and quietly.
"Alright then!" Mina yelled, "Let's do it."
"She sure is enthusiastic about this, isn't she" Usagi whispered to Ami, who shrugged and nodded.
"So, uh," Mamoru wavered: "I guess - go?"
The Senshi and Shitennou de-transformed in a flash of light and a few petals.
"Toshiro?!" Usagi squeaked, "You are a Shitennou?"
"Of course!" Mina laughed, then catching a glance from Usagi she turned red and spluttered, "Uh - I mean -"
"Toshi-kun!" she gasped, throwing her arms around him: "I had no idea! I am so surprised!! How could you hide this from me!?"
"I might ask you the same question," Toshiro pointed out calmly, enduring Mina's tight embrace and mock surprise with a stoic face.
"And Junshi-kun!?" Usagi exclaimed, "And Kazuya-kun!"
"What a coincidence, Rei!" Mina gushed, "Your tutor is a Shitennou."
"Uh, yes." Rei muttered as she and Junshi stood across from each other awkwardly. Only Toshrio noted the slight smile on Junshi's face.
"Yeah, coincidence, huh?" Kazuya replied as he sauntered toward Mako, hands in his pockets.
"I can't decide," he said, eying her up and down, "But I do like the short skirt, Mako-chan."
"Mako-chan?" Usagi, Rei, and Mina chorused in surprise.
"Yeah, well, don't get used to it." Mako mumbled gruffly, blushing as Kazuya kissed her cheek.
Mina and Usagi's eyes were saucer size as they watched their friends.
"What is -" Usagi began, then her attention was seized by the raised voices behind them.
"I can't believe it!" Ami gasped, staring at Zume, her face as pale as chalk.
"This can't be happening," Zume groaned, "You, of all people."
"What do you mean, me of all people?" Ami countered angrily.
"I didn't mean -" Zume began, paling.
"I thought - I thought - I'm so embarrassed." Ami turned bright red and exited the room. Everyone watched her go in silence.
"Um, I don't mean to sound accusatory," Usagi started, "but it seems that there's a lot going on that I don't know about."
"I'm such an idiot." Zume sighed, shaking his head.
"Don't worry," he called as he ran out of the room, "I'll be right back."
"Well, that's interesting," Kazuya commented to no one.
"Ami!" Zume called, jogging down the gravel drive to the road. He could see her in the distance, walking toward the highway,
but when she heard his voice she almost stopped.
He teleported directly behind her and embraced her, halting her in her tracks as she gasped in surprise.
Zume held Ami for a moment, waiting for her to relax. She was still pale, and her eyes were wet, but she didn't look angry, only a little sad.
"I'm sorry," he said.
She kept her face down, but didn't move away from him, so he kept his hold on her.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled to his shoes, "I should have - I never meant to be so...unfriendly. It was just such a shock - finding out who you were."
"Yeah," he said quietly, "tell me about it. But I'm sorry too, If I hadn't been such a jerk this never would have happened."
She looked over her shoulder, quickly.
"I was so mean to you -"
"We were both jerks," Zume compromised, "let's just forgive each other and forget about it, hmm?"
"But I remember now," she frowned, "It seems so silly."
"The two of us not liking each other, when we'd never really met."
"I like you now," Zume answered.
Ami whispered, "I like you too."
They looked at each other and began to smile.
"What are you two doing out here?" Kazuya 's voice thundered across the drive.
Guiltily, Ami and Zume jumped apart.
"Nothing!" They both exclaimed.
Kazuya exploded into laughter, as did Mina, Makoto, Usagi and Mamoru. Toshiro, Rei and Junshi enjoyed the spectacle with the same zeal if with slightly more reserve.
"The look on your faces," Kazu gasped as he lent on Mako,
"Shut up!" Zume snapped, fuming, and took Ami's hand defiantly.
"I will have you know," he uttered in stentorian tones, "that Ami-chan and I will do whatever we feel like doing without your interference, Kazuya!"
Ami blushed scarlet. The rest paused in shocked silence.
"Oh, well, if we are making those kind of statements," Junshi mentioned nonchalantly, "then I suppose that I ought tell you all that I asked Rei to go out with me. But I'm not sure if she's given me a definitive answer."
Everyone turned to look in shocked amazement at Rei who was turning almost as red as her skirt.
"We will discuss this later, Satou-kun." she hissed.
Junshi raised an eyebrow.
"I think I'm in trouble," he sighed, "but I really do want you to date me, Rei-chan."
"LATER!" Rei thundered and grabbed Junshi by the sleeve, hauling him back into the temple.
"She's scary," Kazuya commented.
"Poor Junshi," Sazume sympathized.
Toshiro only smiled enigmatically and kept his thoughts on the subject to himself.
"Well, I think I've had just about all the excitement I can handle for one day," Kazu continued, slipping an arm around Mako's waist.
"Ready to call it a night, sweetheart?" he asked suggestively.
Mako gave him an unamused look. She opened her mouth to say something, then closed it, with a funny look on her face.
"What are you being so sweet all of a sudden?" she asked suspiciously.
Kazu's grin widened considerably, and he pulled her in close to whisper in her ear.
She jerked back, startled.
"Really!? No way!"
"Oh, yes, which is why we are going home right now, Mako-chan," he answered, pulling her along with him.
"But-" she began.
"No buts," he warned, then kissed her in front of everyone; to everyone's considerable discomfort.
Mako sighed happily. "Ok. Let's go." she agreed, and the two of them walked down the road to Kazu's motorcycle.
"Does anyone understand what just happened?" Usagi asked.
"I agree, I want an explanation," Mina chimed in.
"Do you know, Toshiro?" asked Mamoru as he noticed Toshiro's wry expression.
"I think so," Toshiro mused, slipping a casual arm around Minako's shoulder, "during the Silver Millennium the ten of us were acquainted in one fashion or another; some," he coughed politely "rather better than others. I surmise that Kazuya wishes to stir up some particular memories in Makoto's mind."
Everyone paused, embarrassed or amused: some trying to remember those last weeks of the moon kingdom, and others trying to forget them.
"Indeed." Mamoru shook his head, "Well, this has been crazy, I think it's time for us to go. Coming, Usako?"
Usagi ran to him and grabbed his hand and the two of them waved goodbye.
"May I walk you home, Ami-chan?" Zume asked shyly.
"Of course," Ami answered, blushing, "we are...um - you know, after all."
"Oh, yeah," he grinned, delightedly, "I forgot."
They walked side by side out the gates.
In the moonlight, Mina turned to Toshiro and watched as the clouds made shadows over the moon, hiding parts of his face in darkness, and illuminating others.
"We've forgotten so much," she murmured, solemnly, "so many precious details that I wish I could remember."
"It's true," he nodded wistfully, "that was another life time and the age it belonged to is dead. But," he paused, and took her hand in his:
"This is the life we have now. I wouldn't trade it."
End of Part 1. Thank you for reading.