Chapter 1: "Plots and Plans"
A Sailor Moon fanfic
By Bill K.
Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2009 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2009 by Bill K.
It was already becoming hot for June. Ami Mizuno noticed the heat as she ascended the steps of Hikawa Shrine. Coming from an air-conditioned hospital via an air-conditioned car to this shrine that depended on the good will of the gods to provide a breeze didn't do much for Ami's energy. She told herself it was just a matter of concentrating and not dwelling on the effects of the heat, but she was feeling the beginnings of a headache coming. Since it was located near her upper sinus cavity, Ami concluded that the heat was responsible. She would have postponed her trip all together, but Rei had asked her over and it had been a while since she'd visited with Rei.
"Rei?" she called, entering the shrine's main building.
It was the most logical place for her to be. However Rei wasn't there. Nobody was there, in fact. The grounds were empty, no doubt due to the unseasonable heat. Undaunted, Ami walked around back to where Rei kept her household. The door was closed. Ami climbed up onto the back porch and rapped on the door.
"Ami! Hi!" Rei said after opening the door. She ushered the woman into the room and closed the door. "I'm glad you could come. Did you see anybody out on the grounds?"
"No. Were you expecting someone?"
"No, I just don't want to neglect a customer," Rei replied. Then her eyes grew large. "I mean - - someone who is - - looking for enlightenment!"
Ami twittered at Rei's crimson cheeks. Then she noticed the book open on the desk.
"English?" Ami queried.
"Yeah," Rei nodded. "I got these tapes, too. I've been practicing with them at night. With headphones, I can listen to them while I clean the grounds."
"You're serious about visiting America?" Ami asked.
"Well yeah!" Rei exclaimed. "Derek's baseball team is in San Francisco July fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. And Ryoko was able to get me this great deal on the internet on an airline ticket from Tokyo to Honolulu to San Francisco and back. I can actually afford it," and she flushed slightly, "with the two thousand yen Usagi loaned me." Rei became misty-eyed. "It'll be the first time I've seen him since last October."
"You two still write, don't you?" Ami asked.
"Yeah," Rei sighed, "but it's not the same. That's why I was so easy to convince when the opportunity to take the trip came up." Rei grinned. "I've got to see that man again!"
"If you had a computer, you could keep in touch with him via e-mail," Ami suggested. "And you could follow his exploits on the net. You could even set up a web-cam . . ."
"A computer is not an expense I can afford," Rei replied. "Plus, how would it look for a Shinto Shrine to have a computer?"
"I doubt the gods would mind," Ami told her with a smirk. "And I'm about to upgrade. I could let you have my old one. Admittedly it only has 400 gigs of memory, but I imagine it would be suitable for your needs."
Rei grimaced. Ami could see she was reluctant, more out of mistrust of technology than anything. "I'll - - think about it," she replied.
"So how long have you been learning English?"
"Since April. I want to be able to at least communicate on a functional level when I'm in America and I doubt very many of them know Japanese. If it's OK with you, I'd like you to tell me how I'm doing."
"[Certainly]," Ami replied in flawless English, honed by eight years of study at Oxford. "[Say something to me in English]."
"Um," Rei began, brow furrowed. "[Me am pleased to meet you. Can you directing I to the baseball game]?"
"Well, you're . . ." Ami began.
"In English, please," Rei requested.
"[Very well. Your sentence structure is correct. However, you're using the wrong pronouns with the wrong tense of verb]."
Rei stared, confused.
"You're using the wrong pronoun with the wrong tense," Ami repeated in Japanese. "'I' needs to be used with 'am', while in the second sentence you wanted 'direct' with the pronoun 'me'."
"'I' with 'am'," Rei repeated, trying to commit it to memory.
"You've got another month yet, Rei," Ami consoled her. "You've made remarkable progress for two months." An idea occurred to Ami. "Perhaps you could rent a few anime DVDs that have English subtitles as well as the Chinese track. Reading English while hearing the dialog in Japanese might help you recognize and remember better."
"Well," Rei grimaced again, "I'd have to have a DVD player - - and a TV set."
"Oh, yes. And streaming video is out without an internet connection. Rei, you really must join the twenty-first century." Rei grimaced with chagrin. "Well," Ami sighed with resignation, "I suppose I can give you a couple of Saturday afternoons to work with you."
"Oh I really hate to impose, Ami," Rei groaned.
"It's all . . ."
"But if you are willing, would this Saturday be OK?" Rei asked. Internally Ami sighed again. She couldn't escape the thought that her tutoring Rei was one of the reasons Rei had asked her over.
Sanjuro Ikegami entered the apartment where he and his family lived. The burly dock worker inhaled, trying to expel the fatigue that saturated every fiber of his being. The idea of running a restaurant with Makoto looked more and more appealing every day. But with two young children now, where would they find the time?
And where would they find the money?
No one had greeted his entry. His first thought was that Makoto had been called away on Sailor business. Sanjuro moved to the phone stand in the living room, where she would have taped the note telling him where she'd left the kids. That's when he found Akiko.
Akiko was off in a corner of the room, silently coloring in her coloring book. To Sanjuro's eyes, the girl looked lonely and a little depressed. He had a suspicion why, but why wasn't important right now. The huge man knelt down next to her. Only then did she look up at him.
"Hi, Daddy," she smiled.
"Hi, Sweetie," Sanjuro replied gently. "You all alone?"
"Mommy is taking care of Ichiro," Akiko told him. The resignation in her voice was heartbreaking. "I know I'm not supposed to bother Mommy when she's taking care of Ichiro."
"Yeah," Sanjuro sympathized. His massive hand stroked the child's hair. "But you still miss the time Mommy could spend with you, don't you?"
Akiko wouldn't answer at first, fearing a scolding. Finally, though, she rewarded her father's patience with a simple nod.
"Well, Daddy's home," Sanjuro said, holding his fatigue at bay. "You want to spend some time with Daddy?"
Akiko looked up, beaming, and nodded. And Sanjuro remembered the times Makoto would look at him when they were dating, joyous and grateful that he was who he was. The resemblance was there.
"Hi, San-San," Makoto said, adjusting her blouse as she entered the living room minutes later. "I heard you come in, but I couldn't get away. I just finished giving Ichiro dinner."
"That's good, Babe," her husband told her. Then he returned to the coloring book in the lap of Akiko, who sat on his massive lap. "So why color the sky green?"
"I like green," Akiko replied, as if that alone should end the discussion.
"But that's not what the color of the sky is, hon'," Makoto leaned in. "The sky is blue."
"Well I want it to be green," Akiko huffed. She began scribbling wide green strokes across the page with the green crayon lodged in her pudgy fingers.
"Nobody's going to know it's the sky if it's green," Makoto argued.
"I don't care," Akiko scowled.
"Akiko," Makoto said, kneeling down so she was eye-level with the child. "Don't be rude. That's not what a lady would do."
"Well I'm not a lady," Akiko growled, staring at the coloring book and continuing to scribble green all over the page. Then Sanjuro's hand gently closed over hers, swallowing it up.
"Hey," Sanjuro interjected with a soft voice. "If you want the sky to be green in your picture, it can be green. It's your picture. But that's no reason to be rude to your Mommy."
Akiko scowled. "I'm sorry, Daddy."
Makoto rose to full height. "I'll go fix dinner."
Forty minutes later, Sanjuro found his wife elbow deep in one of her typical culinary delights. The things she could do with rice, vegetables and some meat were truly wonders. It was one of the reasons why he was always bored when one of the cooking shows Makoto obsessed on was being broadcast: Nobody on those shows were as good at what they did as she was.
"Smells good," Sanjuro said, the scents from the kitchen invigorating his tired frame.
"Thanks," Makoto replied, subdued. "Is Akiko over it?"
"What, before? Yeah."
"I wish you wouldn't encourage her like that."
"The sky is blue, not green. You're teaching her things that aren't so."
"It's a coloring book. A month from now, who's going to care?"
"I'll care. You should back me up."
"She was deliberately challenging me," Makoto argued.
"And when she stepped over the line, I pulled her back," Sanjuro retorted. "Babe, you've got to give her some control over little things like this. She doesn't have a lot of it, especially now that she has to share her world. She wants some things that she can control, and if one of them is coloring a sky green in a coloring book, let her."
"Fine. Does she have to be so resentful of me? It's like she still blames me for giving birth to Ichiro. And she's afraid to hate him because of that 'oni' story, so she's turning it on me now."
"She doesn't hate you, Babe," Sanjuro maintained. Makoto's response was to slam a spoon onto the stove top. Sanjuro gathered her in and Makoto clung to him in spite of herself.
"I want to spend time with her," Makoto admitted. "But Ichiro needs so much. And I need a little time, too. It seems like the only time I can be me is when I'm cooking dinner. And I can't help but be afraid that if I do give in and spend some time with her, it's just going to reinforce the idea that she can get her way by being petulant."
"You've been reading those child-rearing books too much," Sanjuro told her. "Babe, you've got good instincts. Don't be afraid to use them. To Hell with the books. Akiko turned out pretty good for the two plus years you've been with her. Now we get one bump in the road and you start doubting yourself. Personally I think you've done a great job."
"Thanks," Makoto cooed.
"Except for coloring books, of course."
"Rat," Makoto grumbled and punched him playfully.
"The way you go at her, I almost think you secretly want to color in them yourself," Sanjuro joked.
"Get off me," Makoto shoved him away with mock indignance. "Dinner's almost ready. Get cleaned up."
As Makoto brought out the last dish, Sanjuro was lifting Akiko up to her seat atop two books stacked on a chair. He pushed the chair up to the table.
"My, you get bigger every day, Akiko," Sanjuro said to the girl. She was big for her age. "Must be all of your Mommy's good cooking that does that to you."
"What are we having?" Akiko asked and Makoto saw the light of anticipation dancing in her daughter's eyes.
"Grilled fish," Makoto responded. "With steamed rice and mixed vegetables." Akiko's eyes lit up.
"You like that, huh?" Sanjuro asked.
"Oh, yes! Mommy's grilled fish is wonderful!" Akiko exclaimed. She reached for the fish. Sanjuro started to head her off, but Makoto stopped him.
"Let her," Makoto said.
"It's not something a lady would do," Sanjuro whispered to her.
"I guess she's got plenty of time to be a lady yet," Makoto answered. "Let's let her be a kid."
"Can I have some vegetables?" Akiko asked.
"'May' I have some vegetables," Sanjuro corrected.
"Yes, Daddy, but after me!" Akiko protested. Sanjuro and Makoto glanced at each other and giggled.
Junichi Yabu was the law in the twelfth district. Everywhere he went, he was respected or feared - - which, to him, was the same thing. Everyone deferred to his will. Everything that happened in the district happened because he approved it. He was Yakuza, in charge of this district, and he ran the district with savvy and with a dispassionate eye toward business. Nothing affected his decisions other than what was best for business. Sentiment didn't enter into it, nor ego, anger or loyalty. You produced, you found favor. You didn't, and Yabu cut his losses.
He was, at forty-two, still handsome in a rough sort of way. His jet black hair was cut and styled to flatter him. His features were marked here and there, but on the whole retained some of their allure. His body was still trim and fit, as fit as it had been when Junichi was an up and coming tough. But his eyes, dull brown and eternally hidden behind designer Ray-Ban dark glasses, were cold. They judged, but they rarely felt.
He dined with two of his bodyguards, both blatantly Yakuza toughs, and his accountant at a fine restaurant in Roppongi. Yabu ate and listened to his accountant speak, in general terms that couldn't be used as evidence, of how the district business was going for the financial second quarter. For ninety percent of the pachinko parlors in the district were run by Junichi Yabu and his organization. Eighty-five percent of the "friendship" clubs where salarymen drank and were fawned over by pretty girls were run by Junichi Yabu. And more serious matters like drugs, bootleg media and pornographic photography were under Yabu's control, too. That's why he could afford to dress nicely and look respectable and eat in a fine establishment in Roppongi. And because he was smart about his business, it was why Superintendent Sakurada could only glare at him impotently from afar.
After his dinner was finished, Yabu and his associates left the restaurant and ventured out into the June evening. Darkness had brought a temporary end to the heat of the day and the stars were out in force in the indigo sky. Yabu waited at the door while his bodyguard checked ahead and his other bodyguard kept an eye behind them. When they were satisfied, the four people moved out onto the street. The man's trusted driver had brought Yabu's black limousine around and the motor was idling.
Suddenly, someone impacted with Yabu out of nowhere. As the form bounced off of the sturdy Yakuza boss and fell to the pavement, the two bodyguards pulled out harsh-looking .45 automatics from under their suit coats. They all looked down - - and found a girl, probably no more than fifteen. She had long black hair gathered behind her neck with a green ribbon and thick black eyeglass frames perched on a face that was quiet but had the makings of an attractive female. She wore a green skirt and sailor tunic from one of the local middle schools and a satchel lay inches from her. The girl sat on the pavement, stunned, her legs spread wide and her mouth pinched in pain. Then her senses collected and she realized what had happened.
"OH MY GOODNESS, I'M SO SORRY!" she gasped, looking up at Yabu through the thick glasses on her face. "I was in a hurry and wasn't watching where I was going! It's entirely my fault! Please forgive me!"
Then the girl noticed where the eyes of the two bodyguards were looking. Realizing that her skirt had pulled up and revealed a hint of her panties, the girl jammed her hands between her legs to secure the skirt while her face twisted in mortification.
And something unusual happened. Junichi Yabu surrendered to human sentiment.
"Here," Yabu said, extending his hand to her as his bodyguards snickered. "Let me help you up. It looks like you took more damage from this than I did."
"Thank you!" she gasped, taking the hand and allowing Yabu to pull her to her feet. "I'm so sorry this happened! You're very kind!"
Her hand then locked onto Yabu's. In one sweeping motion, the girl's other hand swung around and sliced across Yabu's throat. Blood sprayed out from the gash across his throat, made with the razor blade that was at this moment flying from the girl's hand. She released Yabu's hand, pivoted in one motion and kicked hard, nailing the lead bodyguard in the groin. While the trailing guard drew a bead on where she was, the girl leaped up and somersaulted in a complete circle. Her foot, which now had a sharp blade sticking out from the toe of her black patent leather shoe, came down on the gun hand. The blade gashed the hand and the guard pulled back reflexively, dropping his weapon.
In a single motion, the girl landed, scooped up the gun and shot the trailing guard twice in the chest point blank. She whirled and caught the lead guard once in the head. One more bullet went into the driver of the idling limousine. Turning, she saw the accountant fleeing into the parking lot. One shot, aimed between the shoulder blades, felled him. Her work done, the girl fled into the evening, gun in hand, amid the horrified shouts of restaurant patrons, staff and people in the parking lot.
Continued in Chapter 2