Through Their Eyes
Chapter 28: Beyond the Past, Through the Present, and Into the Future
Disclaimer: Naoko Takeuchi owns Sailor Moon.
At Crown Karaoke, Makoto shifted on the couch, the springs beneath her issuing protest. It was the only sound in the quiet room that had otherwise resembled the eerie silence of a death they had only just relived.
"It feels like I've died." Makoto said.
"Again." Rei agreed quietly.
"A third time." Ami said.
"Fourth." Minako's voice was small and quiet. In their present timeline, she may not have died together with her Princess and her comrades before Usagi reset the world, but where she had watched from the sidelines after her illness had taken her before the final battle, she had been witness to the events that had nearly mirrored those of their past lives. She had felt like she'd died with them regardless, and she shivered at the memory.
Rei squeezed Minako's hand tightly, and it was only then that Minako even realized that Rei was holding her hand at all. She returned the pressure, their hands joined in the barely existent space between their bodies, and Minako drew her knees closer to her chest.
"We blinked and it was over." As was Ami's way, she tried to distance herself from the situation by stating the facts, and through the facts, she seemed to make peace with the memories.
Rei took the burden of explanation off of her. After all, it was her alter ego that had known the most, back then. "The scales tipped. Metallia had been steadily gaining power, but when Serenity witnessed Endymion's death – a death that was meant for her – she lost control. She tapped into the light; into the power that was meant to control the dark."
"And the age old struggle that waged within the Ginzuishou took precedence over the lives of the entirety of the solar system." Minako said bitterly.
"Yes." Rei said flatly.
"But she defeated both the light and the dark, this time around." Makoto said.
"Usagi kept her promise," Ami agreed, "even though right up to the end, history almost repeated itself."
Makoto leaned forward, placing her elbows on her knees. Her knees brushed up against Ami's, and the smaller woman blushed and pulled away. If Makoto noticed the behavior, she didn't show it.
"Back then," Makoto said, lost to her thoughts, "Rei knew about the future. Her comment about martyrs-"
Ami leaned across the table towards Rei. "Had Rei seen then, what Minako planned to do in this life? I mean… Minako's illness?"
Minako straightened, her face pale. When Rei's hand in hers flinched, she could not look to her second in command.
"It was Usagi," Rei said, more forcefully than was necessary. "Mamoru tried to sacrifice himself in this life too, by trying to absorb Metallia into his body."
"Oh." Makoto said flatly. None of them could find the courage to look at Minako.
An awkward stretch of silence ensued in which each woman found something in the room more interesting than each other.
Always the first to get itchy feet, Makoto stood. Ami flinched at the sudden movement. Makoto smiled at her friends, and it wasn't an entirely untrue gesture.
"Now that we've remembered, I guess we can put all of this behind us."
"Right," Ami chuckled nervously. "I mean, none of this changes us, the people we've become in this lifetime."
"I've been saying that for years." Rei said gruffly.
The others tried to chuckle, and this only made Rei's hackles rise.
"What?" She barked. "We were obviously stronger this time around. We managed to help Usagi defeat Metallia, didn't we? We helped her to purify the ginzuishou. We did that without half the powers we had back then, and most of us didn't have our memories of the past life to depend on."
Straightening her shoulders, Rei pulled her hand out of Minako's and she crossed her arms over her chest. "Any resemblance we bear to our past selves is purely coincidental."
Whether or not Rei had seen Minako flinch at those words that had never ceased to hurt her, Minako couldn't tell.
Makoto clapped her hands together. "I'm with Rei on this one."
Minako rose, once again assuming the mantle of leader that she'd always carried. "We should go now," she checked her watch. "It's been nearly twenty four hours. We should all get some rest."
It was an idea that sat well with all of them; each of them had lived through an entire life in just one day and Minako led her troops up the small flight of steps that would return them back to the normal world.
Makoto took over when they spilled into the hallway and she led them through the dimly-lit corridor, through the thumping sounds of bass speakers and the occasional wail of microphone feedback. The lunch regulars were already in their private karaoke rooms and she led them to the back doorway.
They each took a deep breath in the quiet alleyway behind the Crown, and they looked to each other one more time. There was one more awkward moment when each of them became acutely aware that, for the most part, there was an issue that had barely been addressed – the issue of their past relationships with one another - and none of them seemed eager to be the one to call it to anyone's attention. The fact that Makoto had taken them through the back door, away from where Motoki could see them, had not gone unnoticed.
Ami was the first to speak, either out of sheer exhaustion or her constant desire to achieve comfort while with her friends.
"Well," she said in a small voice, "my apartment's that way, so…"
"I'll go with you." Makoto's voice was brash and rushed and the slight blush on her cheeks gave away more than she intended. "I mean, you know, my apartment's in the same direction too."
Ami nodded and Makoto fell into step alongside her. Neither of them turned to look back to their other two friends.
They had their own issues to work out, it seemed. Yet if Makoto and Ami could overcome their awkwardness to at least walk together, what were Minako and Rei capable of?
The two women stood in an awkward silence long after Makoto and Ami had disappeared around the corner, depending on the sounds of the city for any diversion. A car horn, amplified by the tall walls on either side of the alley seemed the catalyst Minako needed.
She turned on her heel and started walking towards the street at a brisk and purposeful pace. She pulled the brim of her hat down over her eyes and adjusted her purse under her arm before turning the corner and merging into the lunchtime foot traffic, letting herself get carried away by the crowd.
A familiar feeling soon tingled against the edges of her awareness. It was one her past persona had felt in the Venusian Tent City and in every corridor of the Moon Palace. It was one she herself had felt on so many of Juuban's streets. And she smiled broadly, though she did not slow down.
She navigated her way down several streets, across several intersections, and finally, into a small park that wasn't very far from the church where she had first met Rei in this life.
The park path narrowed, a small, sandy strip that meandered under hundred year old maple trees. Several people in business suits were hurrying back to their offices after a brief lunch break in the park, and finally, there were no more distractions.
Minako spun on her heel and nearly mastered a scowl.
"Why are you following me?"
Ten feet away, Rei didn't so much as flinch. "Because following you is what I've always done." Her reply was equally intense, and as fiery as her gaze.
Minako cocked a hand on her hip. "You just said that any similarities to our past lives was coincidence."
"I did." Rei replied sharply. "And even before I had the memories of my past life, I've followed you in this life, too." She took several steps closer. "Or have you been so wrapped up in the past that you never noticed my actions in the present?"
Her words threw Minako off, and her ire was made worse when Rei acknowledged the victory she had won.
It took Minako a moment to regain her cool, and finally, she crossed her arms over her chest. "If there's one thing that Hino Rei taught me, it was to live for the present."
"Oh?" Rei asked. Her expression was cool and unreadable, and she took a few steps closer. "And if there's one thing that both Venus Minako and Aino Minako taught me, it's that she's always running away from something."
"Is that so?" Minako scowled and stepped forward, until there was barely any room left between them. "Then tell me, Rei. What am I running from?"
Rei almost sneered. "You of all people, who always had their memories of the past, should know best."
"You're repeating your same mistakes, Minako!"
Shocked by Rei's forwardness, Minako remembered the only time she could recall such forwardness during the Silver Millennium, during the worst of their fights, and then she understood. A blush rising on her cheeks, not for the first time, she cursed Rei's ability to both make her stronger and knock her down simultaneously, and she cursed the way in which Martians showed their feelings.
"Why?" Minako asked. "If you knew you… if you knew I…" She blew an exasperated breath into her bangs.
"You lied." Minako nearly snarled and Rei took a step back. "Your memories returned before this. If you had just relived them, you wouldn't have come to terms with all of this so easily, considering how stubborn-"
"Stubborn?" Rei reclaimed the space she'd given. "What does it matter? Whether I started remembering yesterday or a year ago, it changes nothing!"
Rei looked down at her hands, fidgeting slightly. "Besides," she grumbled. "I didn't lie. You stopped asking about the past life after Usagi… when she brought us all back."
"You could have told me, Rei." Minako's arms fell to her sides and her voice was quiet, as though the wind had been knocked out of her.
"Tell you what?" Rei asked. She smiled; a tentative grin that was small and honest. "That you're incredibly thick headed, or that you're still incredibly blind when it comes to the people who are right in front of you?"
"Rei," Minako said warningly, and she was silenced when the firm pressure of Rei's hand grasped her by the wrist.
"Minako," Rei said.
The simple utterance of their names seemed to trigger a stalemate. Standing so close, both of them brimming with so many things unsaid, so many possibilities in front of them, and so much emotion threatening to spill over, neither knew how to make the next move.
Time had brough them here. Time had changed them. But now, as had been the case for Usagi, it would only be changes brought by their own accord that would help them grow beyond the past, through the present, and into the future.
It was Rei that broke the roles they'd played over and over again. She laughed at the woman before her; it was a laugh that quiet and melodious and full of promise. And then, mentally cataloguing the perplexed expression of her commander, she turned and walked away.
Quite unlike the early relationship between both their past and present lives, Minako rushed to chase after Rei, laughing and calling out as she chased her into the park, and into the future.
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