This story is based on an awesome movie starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven. Please consider this as my apology for taking down Captain Senshi. If you have no idea what Captain Senshi is, don't worry about it. Just enjoy the story.
"We at Chiba and Son would like to thank all of you for your hard work during this Christmas season. Thanks to all of your hard work, we have beaten our projected sales goal and it will be reflected in your holiday bonus." A cheer when up through the Chiba department store, drowning out the elder Mr. Chiba as the employees eagerly accepted their pay checks. There was an air of festivity and everyone called out their fair holiday wishes. Only a few people in the entire store were immune to the joyful atmosphere, one of them a young woman working in the toy department. Her cornflower blue eyes darkened as they scanned the letter that came with her paycheck and her mouth drew down into a frown.
"Dear Ms. Tsukino,
Haru Chiba and Son would like to thank you for your excellent performance
during this Christmas Season. Unfortunately as of close of business today, your
services will no longer be required. This is in no way a reflection of your work as you were
hired on a seasonal basis. Please feel free to reapply during any holiday, and don't
hesitate to use us as a reference.
Haru and Mamoru Chiba
Usagi Tsukino sighed and reread the letter. She had resigned herself to this days ago, though it didn't make the prospect of looking for a new job any better.
"What's that?" Usagi looked up and smiled joylessly at Naru Osaka, one of her only friends in this town. She looked back down at the letter and sighed once more.
"Christmas card," she said ironically. "Did you get one?" Naru shook her head sympathetically. Usagi sighed and tossed it down on the counter. "Don't be jealous."
"I'm sorry. It won't be easy finding a job right after Christimas." Usagi rolled her eyes and scoffed.
"It wasn't easy before Christmas." She looked around the toy department ruefully. "I wonder if they'd give me a pension. I did work here for six weeks."
"Look, honey, maybe you should go back home," Naru suggested as she and Usagi began unpacking the toys for their display. "Haven't you got anybody you could call for help?" Usagi bit her lip and shook her head sadly.
"There's no one. Not any more." Usagi paused. "Naru, is it hard for a girl to get into the navy? I'd be willing to move to America." Naru clucked sympathetically and patted Usagi's arm. Usagi smiled bravely and clapped her hands together.
"Alrighty! Let's get these crazy looking things on the shelves!" The two women worked quickly and soon they had a passable display of small retro wind up ducks waddling around the table. That task done, the girls had nothing else to do but man the counter and wait for the inevitable onslaught of Christmas Eve shoppers looking to buy their last minute stocking stuffers and presents. They watched the harried customers try to figure out what they were supposed to get and laughed at the outrageous fights that broke out over the randomest toys.
"People watching, are we?" The girls turned to glance back at Umino, the floor's stock clerk, favoring him with a bored stare.
"What do you want, Umino?" Naru asked, her tone less than inviting. Umino just grinned and gently tugged at her red hair.
"Just wanted to visit my two favorite girls," he said. "Did you get me anything for Christmas?"
"Yeah," Naru snorted. "But you wouldn't drink it." She rolled her eyes at Umino and walked away. Usagi laughed, shaking her head at the two.
"Hey, Usagi, I actually came over here to ask you something." She looked up at Umino expectantly. "How would you like to go to a swing club with me tonight?" Usagi's eyebrows shot up to her hairline and she blinked a couple of times.
"You want me to go to a swing club with you? Somehow I don't think that Naru would be happy with either of us if I said yes." Umino chuckled and shook his head.
"No, not like that," he said. "The Pink Slipper is having a swing dancing contest tonight. There's a 50 thousand yen prize for second place and my cousin is the MC and a judge. I could set it up with him so we'd win the prize and we could split it down the middle. I saw you dance at the Christmas, so I know you can do it. We could pull this off if you say yes." Usagi thought for a moment. Having just lost her job, the prospect of a quick buck sounded good to her. Especially to the tune of 25 thousand yen.
"Alright you've got yourself a deal," she told him.
"Uh-oh, Usagi, you made a deal with Umino? That won't end well." Naru had caught the last bit of their conversation as she came over carrying more wrapping paper.
"No, this is actually a pretty good deal," Usagi said. "Umino and I are entering a dancing contest. We're going for the 50 thousand yen prize.' Naru raised an eye brow, but said nothing more about it.
"Well, I have to get back to work I'll pick you up at 7. After dinner." Umino bid the girls farewell and went to make his rounds on the floor. Naru and Usagi shook their heads at his retreating back.
"Class act that one is," Naru scoffed. Usagi shrugged and grinned at Naru.
"I bet if it were you, he'd take you to dinner," she said, nudging her friend in the side. Naru swatted , half playfully.
"Shut up and let's get back to work." Usagi's stomach rumbled audibly just then, and Naru checked her watch.
"Oh, it's lunch time already," she commented, winking at Usagi. Relief washed over her face and she gathered her things to leave.
"Aren't you coming, Naru?" Usagi asked, as she grabbed her parka and hat. Naru shook her head.
"Nah, I have a turkey sandwich in the employee lounge. It's way too cold for me to be out there." Naru looked out of the store's picture windows into the snow covered streets and shivered. "No thank you. You enjoy your lunch, though. Where are you going?"
"I don't know yet," Usagi said with a shrug. "I think I feel like pizza, though."
"Alright, see you later then." Usagi waved goodbye, then headed out the front door.
Usagi drifted down the sidewalk as if in a fog. Before her stretched several city blocks of dingy grey snow, and in her mind, Usagi imagined that she was staring into the abyss that had become her future. She had moved to Tokyo from Yokohama a month ago with no job, a half completed college education, and no family close by to speak of.
"Idiot," Usagi berated herself, disgustedly. "Oh sure, Usagi, just pick up and leave the only place you've ever known with no plans set, and no money to fall back on. I hope you're happy, Mom. You miserable bat. I'll bet she's looking down at me laughing her ethereal butt off." Usagi bit her lip and tried to hold back her tears as memories of her mother flooded her mind. No time for dwelling on the past. She had to make plans for the rest of her life. Usagi shuddered again and amended that last thought.
"Maybe I should focus on the rest of this week," she told herself. Nodding, determinedly Usagi threw her shoulders back and stuck out her chin defiantly, ready to take on the world…or at least some unsuspecting pizza shop… when she spotted a woman kneeling on the stairs of an old looking building.
Usagi heard the baby at the same time that she realized what the building was: The Tokyo Home for Children. It was an orphanage. Usagi was at the woman's side before she had actually thought of what she was going to do.
"Don't you dare!" she whispered almost desperately. "Don't you dare leave your baby here." The woman stood up and turned around, and Usagi gasped as she found herself staring into the sad, dark brown eyes of a woman old enough to be her grandmother. Tears glimmered in her eyes, regret etched on her careworn face.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I…" Usagi stammered. The old woman wasn't really paying attention, though. She looked back at the baby on the doorstep and shook her head sadly.
"Such a good baby," she murmured to no one in particular. "Such a good sweet boy. I can't do anything for him anymore." With a sob and one more cheerless look back at Usagi, the woman ran off down the street, leaving a stunned Usagi in front of the orphanage. On the stairs the baby started fussing and waving his arms, and teetered dangerously on the stairs. Usagi shook herself from her stupor and ran to the stairs, placing a hand gently on the baby's stomach. He stopped fussing and grinned up at Usagi with a nearly toothless grin. He couldn't have been more than four or five months old, Usagi thought. He was a chubby little baby with blue eyes with flecks of silver in the iris. They kind of looked like Usagi's a bit. He had wispy curls of jet black hair in random patches on his head. His nose was running and Usagi wiped his nose with a napkin she found in her pocket.
"You're a sweet boy," she said, tickling his blanket swaddled tummy. "And a handsome boy, too. You'll break some hearts in your day." Usagi almost didn't notice when the door opened and a severe looking woman walked out. She looked down at Usagi and the baby sternly, but there was some sadness in her gaze, too. With a sigh, she motioned for Usagi to stand up.
"Follow me, please," she said, curtly, leading them into the building. Usagi followed, smiling down at the baby in her arms, not really noticing where she was heading. The woman took Usagi to an office near the front door where a mousy looking man was typing something into his computer. He looked up when they walked in and saw Usagi playing with the baby. Looking at his secretary wearily, he sighed to himself and pulled up some forms on his computer.
"Won't you have a seat, please?" Usagi sat in the threadbare chair across from him and shifted the baby in her arms. "What is your name?"
"Usagi Tsukino," she told him, absently, still playing with the baby. She had always liked babies. She had begged her mother for a younger brother or sister until she was 12, and well, she was much too old to be this baby's sister, but she still felt a glimmer of a connection with it.
"Age?" The ma asked.
"22," Usagi answered. She played with the baby's fingers and wondered what it would be like one day, when she had a little one of her own. It was almost a shame that she would have to leave this one with the orphanage, but she was sure they'd be able to find him a good home.
"449 Higura Plaza."
"Place of employment?"
"Chiba and Son. The department store."
"Baby's name and age?" Usagi started to answer until she realized what exactly the man had asked.
"Wait, what?" she looked up at the man and his secretary for the first time. "Hold on a second, why are you asking me?" They didn't answer her, but favored her with sympathetic looks. Usagi nearly leapt to her feet. "You don't think this baby is mine do you? I was just making sure he didn't fall off of the stoop. An old woman brought him here." The man- Usagi suddenly noticed that neither he nor the nurse had introduced themselves- held his hands out in a placating manner.
"Now Ms. Tsukino, please understand that many mothers come in with similar stories, but we find that more often than not, the woman is in fact the mother."
"Well then I guess that makes me that one woman who is actually not the mother." With an indignant huff, she handed the baby to the strict looking nurse. The baby immediately began to cry, and the nurse handed him back to Usagi. To her immense surprise, the baby stopped crying once he was back in her arms. Usagi looked at the man and the nurse with a sort of incredulous half smile playing on one corner of her mouth.
"Well, how do you like that?" The other two adults looked at her knowingly and the smile fell quickly from her face as she gave the baby to the nurse once more. "Now look, that's not my baby! When I'm ready to have children, I'll get married and do it right."
With a final glance at the baby that was fussing in the nurse's arms, Usagi fled the orphanage, as fast her feet would carry her.