REUNION
Chapter 1: "The Prodigal"
A Sailor Moon fanfic

By Bill K.
some plot threads created by Naoko Takeuchi

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Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2002 by Naoko Takeuchi/
Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with
respect. Story is (c)2002 by Bill Kropfhauser.

As always, for those only familiar with the English dub:

Usagi=Serena
Ami=Amy
Rei=Raye
Makoto=Lyta
Minako=Mina
Haruka=Amara
Michiru=Michelle
Setsuna=Trista
Mamoru=Darien
Chibi-Usa=Rini
Yuuichiro=Chad
Motoki=Andrew
Unazuki=Lizzie
Shingo=Sammy
Momoko=Melanie
Shinozaki=Ken

Finally, Haruka and Michiru are NOT cousins.
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March 24, 2002.

Usagi forced herself away from her drawing board. It was time
to go and she'd already adjusted the figure in panel four five times.
Even though it still didn't look right, it would have to do for now.

"Mamo-chan?" she said inquiringly, entering the bedroom of
their tiny apartment. "I'm leaving now."

Mamoru lay almost on the bed - - one leg dangled off the side
- - still dressed in his hospital clothes. He was fast asleep.
Usagi grinned, her heart torn by her husband's predicament, but still
amused by the disheveled way he looked. Softly she crossed over to
the bed and drew the sheet over him. She bent down and ever so
lightly pressed her lips to his.

"Sleep well, my darling," Usagi whispered. "Mother will be
back soon."

Pulling a change of blouse out of the closet, Usagi slipped
into it and headed for the door. As she entered the living room, she
glanced at Luna, sleeping in the window.

"Are you sure you don't want to come?" Usagi asked.

"You were still planning on having her over tomorrow, weren't
you?" Luna asked. Usagi nodded. "I'll see her then. I'm not
terribly keen on airports and they're not terribly keen on me,
either."

"If Mamo-chan wakes up, tell him where I went?" Usagi requested
as she opened the door.

She checked her watch as she hurried to the bus stop. Ami's
plane was due in at four. She'd just make it if her bus wasn't late.

"No!" Usagi cried out, looking up and seeing the bus pull up to
the stop she was still half a block away from. "Wait! You have to
wait!"
* * * *
Usagi hurried through the airport, nervously checking her watch
for the tenth time. Confirming that she was late, the woman scurried
past ticket windows and passengers and loved ones milling about while
she looked for her friends. After a few moments, her diligence was
rewarded.

"Hi!" she called, waving at them when she spotted Rei, Makoto
and Minako near the passenger arrival gate.

"Honestly, twenty-four years old and you still can't tell
time!" fussed Rei.

"The bus was early!" Usagi shot back. "Is she here yet?"

"No, her plane's even later than you," grinned Minako.

"How are you feeling?" Makoto asked.

"Oh, I'm fine. Stop fussing," Usagi said. "The question is
are you nervous yet?"

"Nah. It's not like I'm facing major surgery or something.
I'm just getting married."

"Makoto!" gasped Usagi. "You don't just go 'I'm getting
married' and shrug your shoulders! You go 'I'm getting married' and
squeal and jump up and down with excitement!"

"Is that what you did when Mamoru popped the question?" Minako
asked.

"For three days, it seems like," grinned Usagi. "Drove Shingo
nuts."

"Well I'm twenty-five. You were only eighteen," Makoto told
her.

"And you are a little more excitable, Usagi," Rei added.

"Besides, I've been living with San-san for two years now.
Nothing's going to change except now we'll have a license."

"Take it from an old married woman," Usagi advised. "Being
married is different from not being married. I don't know why, but
it is."

"I second that," Minako added. "I didn't marry Tomo thinking I
was going to divorce him a year later, but he was a different person
when we were single."

"You guys aren't having problems, are you?" Rei asked Usagi,
concerned.

"No," Usagi said meekly. "It's just - - different. Some
things are better, some things aren't."

"Hey, they're opening the gate!" Minako prodded.

The four women surveyed the arriving passengers. Anxious
moments passed. Then Makoto spotted Ami, dressed in a very mature
navy blue jacket and tight knee length skirt. She started to wave to
Ami, but Usagi pushed past her.

"OH, AMI!" the woman heard just in time to steady herself for
impact. Usagi slammed into her, wrapped her arms around the slim
young woman and crushed her in a bear hug. "Oh it's so great to see
you again!"

"Usagi, you don't know how much I've missed you!" Ami cried,
working her arms up so she could return the hug. "I've read all your
letters twenty times just to keep your spirit alive inside me!" She
glanced up and spotted the others approaching. "You all came to meet
me! Oh, you're all just the best friends a girl could have!" Rei
pried Usagi away so she could hug Ami.

"Hey, all we did was come to the airport," Makoto smiled.
"You're the one who flew in all the way from England just to be at my
wedding!"

"As if I'd miss it!" gasped Ami, returning Minako's embrace.
"As much as we've all meant to each other, you shouldn't even
consider the possibility! I'm just grateful you pushed back the date
so I could come during spring break."

"No big deal," Makoto shrugged, then caught Ami in an embrace
of her own. "It lets me be a spring bride. That's supposed to be
lucky."

"Well, let's get my suitcase," Ami said. "We can stop by
Mother's and catch up on everything over dinner." She scanned her
four friends with her eyes, noting their curious reactions. "You
were planning on staying over for dinner tonight?"

"Actually," grinned Usagi, "we were going to take you out to
dinner."

"Very well," smirked Ami. "You four seem to have this all
planned out. We'll drop my bag off at Mother's and I'm yours for the
evening."

"Great!" Minako chirped. "We'll take my car - - since I'm the
only one here who happens to have brought one," she added proudly.

"Minako's driving?" Ami asked uneasily.

"Hey!" protested Minako. "I'll have you know I haven't been
cited in six months!"

"Very good! You're improving!"

"Um, her license was suspended for three of those months," Rei
quickly added.

"Details, details," scowled Minako.
* * * *
The five friends sat around a table in a very ornate
restaurant that specialized in Japanese approximations of American
versions of Italian cuisine. There were just enough patrons there
that night to make it cozy, but not enough to make it boisterous. As
Ami looked around at her friends, she noticed right off that Usagi
had gained a great deal of grace and maturity at the table. She ate
rather than inhaled her food.

"This is very good," Ami said of the food. "Do you all come
here often?"

"Not as often as I'd like," sighed Rei. "It is a great place."

"Thank you," smiled Makoto. "I'm one of the chefs here."

"This is the place you cook at?" gasped Ami.

Makoto shrugged. "I got Usagi a deal. Since she's paying for
this and since she and Mamoru are still paying off college, I figured
she could use a break."

"Enough about that," Rei said. "What's it like in Oxford,
England? All we know is what Usagi told us from your letters."

"Different," Ami replied, with more than just a little
melancholy than her friends expected. "It's so different from Japan.
Sometimes it's like being on an alien world. I still feel that way
now. Imagine what it was like six years ago."

"Must have been rough," Makoto said.

"I honestly don't know how I got through it, being a shy little
eighteen-year-old freshman thousands of miles away from home in a
strange land with strange customs. The schoolwork was challenging,
but I could handle that." Ami looked down, as if confronted by
painful memories. "The isolation was the toughest part. If it
wasn't for the phone calls to Mother and the letters from Usagi and
keeping up with events in Japan through the Internet, I'm not sure I
would have made it." She reached out and touched Usagi's hand.
Usagi smiled back at her.

"I know what you mean," Minako recalled. "My time in England
had some rough spots, too, for the very same reasons you named. And
I wasn't there nearly as long as you were."

"And I really missed you all a lot," Ami continued, "and I have
to confess I still feel guilty about leaving the senshi shorthanded."

"Well nobody forced you to go all the way to Oxford," Rei
chided. "We told you then that there are perfectly good schools here
in Japan."

"I know. In a way, it was for the best," Ami smiled wistfully.
"Getting out of Japan and the whole Sailor Senshi cycle and immersing
myself in a new environment helped expand my horizons. It gave me
new ways of looking at things, new forms of expression. And it
forced me to grow up." Her smile turned more mirthful. "And I never
would have met Evan otherwise."

"Here, here," Rei said, raising her glass.

"To college romance," Makoto said, raising her glass.

"And to college lust," smirked Minako, raising hers.

Usagi scowled and raised her glass. Minako jumped as if
kicked.

"So when are you two getting married?" leered Usagi. "You know
I'd fly all the way to England just to be at your wedding."

"Usagi," sighed Ami, her exasperation turning into a familiar
grin. "Ever the matchmaker."

"Incurable romantic, that's me. So what about it?"

Ami grew somber. "We're not dating anymore."

"Ami-chan!" gasped Usagi.

"I'm sorry!" grimaced Makoto.

"What happened?" Minako asked.

"But if it's none of our business . . ." Rei offered.

Ami shrugged.

"His family didn't do anything, did they?" Minako asked. "I
remember you told Usagi they weren't too crazy about the two of you
going together - - probably worried that a Japanese girl would
pollute the 'Radcliffe family bloodline'. Those British can be
really stuffy about stuff like that, you know."

"We Japanese can be pretty 'stuffy' about it, too," Ami said.
"Evan's parents weren't the problem. Evan loved rebelling against
them. If they tried to break us up, it would have only driven him
closer to me."

"Then what happened?" Usagi asked. "You sounded like you were
really in love with him in your letters."

"I was," Ami sighed, "when I thought he was in love with me.
But the longer we were together, the more I realized it wasn't me he
was in love with. He was in love with an image in his mind that I
just happened to resemble."

"I don't understand."

Ami considered her words. "Evan thinks of Asian and Oriental
women as exotic. Because of this, I wasn't really a person to him.
I was this exotic Far East temptress fantasy to him."

"Yow!" gaped Minako. "I really have trouble grouping you and
'temptress' in the same sentence."

"How do you think I felt? He wanted me to be someone I wasn't,
and when I couldn't live up to this exotic temptress fantasy girl he
wanted me to be, he lost interest. It wasn't a good break up."

"I'm sorry, Ami," Rei offered.

"It was a learning experience, as is all of life," Ami sighed
wistfully. "And it wasn't entirely a bad experience."

"Oh?" Rei asked, leaning in closer.

"Evan is a very talented man," Ami smiled.

"Oh?" the other three repeated, leaning in closer.

"And if you think I'm telling any of you gossip mongers
anything about my sex life, you're all crazy."

Her four friends sagged back into their seats.

"You're still no fun, Ami," Minako groused.

"So tell me about this man you're going to marry, Makoto," Ami
said, shifting the conversation away from her. "Who is he, what is
he like and most importantly do you have a picture of him?"

Makoto blushed, smiling self-consciously. She reached into her
purse and handed a picture to Ami, amid giggles from the rest of the
table. Ami took the picture and, upon seeing it her eyes lit up with
approval.

"His name's Sanjuro Ikegami," Makoto said proudly. "He works
as a longshoreman on the docks at the harbor. He's really bright and
he's really funny and he's just so kind."

"Not that you're prejudiced or anything," added Minako.

"Handsome, too," Ami replied. "You never seemed to go for the
rugged type before."

"Well, I didn't fall in love with his body," Makoto responded,
"although that helps. Do you know he writes haiku?" Ami nodded,
impressed. "And he's got a way about him that makes me feel like I'm
the center of the universe. He can make me feel like a queen when I
need it. And there's a part of him that needs me so bad. He'll come
home all tired and sore and all I have to do is give him a shoulder
massage and a little TLC and he'll give me such a look of gratitude.
Ami, it's better than gold."

"And this is after living with him for two years," Rei
interjected. "You can imagine what she was like two years ago."

"Yeah, she raves about him so much, I'm having naughty dreams
about him," joked Minako. Then she winced again. "Usagi, stop
kicking me in the shins!"

"In six years, I think you've changed the least," Ami giggled
to Minako. "You've actually been living with him for two years,
Makoto?"

"Yeah," Makoto shrugged.

"Was it that one of you weren't sure?"

"Yeah," Makoto said softly, glancing down at her plate. "And
it was me. San-san asked me to marry him four months after we met
- - but I wasn't sure. I guess all those heartbreaks I went through
over the years finally made me gun-shy. I told him I wasn't ready."

"So what happened?" Immediately Ami noticed Usagi blush.

"You guessed it," Makoto smiled, noticing the direction of her
glance. "San-san worked on me from one end and Usagi worked on me
from the other and the pair of them wore me down. I finally agreed
to live with him just to get them off my back."

"It was for your own good," mumbled Usagi.

"That way we could see if it would work, and if it didn't we
had a way out. I'd seen the way Minako was during her divorce and I
didn't want that to happen to me. Heck, Usagi was more sure it would
work than either of us. And she was right. It's just so wonderful
to come home to someone."

"Well if it was working so well, why get married now after two
years?" Ami asked. She grew visibly uncomfortable. "Forgive me for
asking, but - - you're not pregnant, are you?"

Everyone exploded in laughter.

"No, Ami," Makoto chuckled. "Although I wouldn't mind it. You
know I've always dreamed of having a little girl." She smirked
self-consciously again. "And it's not like San-san and I haven't
been trying." She glanced sideways at Minako. "Don't say a word,
blondie." Minako scowled, her shoulders sagging. "One day I was
looking across the breakfast table at him and I realized that I was
going to spend the rest of my life with him. And I got such a rush
from that thought. And the next thing out of my mouth was 'Let's
make it official.' And he said yes."

"That's so beautiful," grinned Usagi. "I never get tired of
hearing that story."

"And we're saving up to start our own business," Makoto
continued. "San-san likes being a longshoreman, but he's smart
enough to know it's not a life's work. So we're going into business
for ourselves. We haven't decided whether to make it a restaurant or
a bakery. Of course it's still a long way off."

"But the minute they pick a location, you-know-who is going to
be camped out front so she can be first in the door," Rei jabbed.
Usagi gave her a cynical smirk.

"Well I'm glad to see it," Ami said, reaching across the table
and grasping Makoto's hand. "Nobody deserves it more. This is going
to be a happy occasion."

"I'm really grateful you could make it," Makoto said, her eyes
misting. "Now all of my family can stand with me at the ceremony."

"You're sure that's not breaking any rules?" Usagi asked.

"Hey, I'm the Kannushi (chief priest) at that shrine and if I
say it's fine, it's fine," Rei growled. "At least SHE'S having a
traditional wedding and not doing it western style."

"You're never going to let me forget that, are you?" huffed
Usagi. "Just because I dreamed for years and years about wearing a
western wedding gown when I got married doesn't mean I was trying to
slight you! I offered to hold the ceremony at Hikawa, but you
wouldn't let me do it in a western gown!"

"There are SOME traditions you don't mess with," Rei volleyed
back.

"It was probably for the best," Minako grinned. "Your
grandfather probably would have spent the whole ceremony trying to
pinch us." Ami heard a shoe impact with a chair leg. Minako smiled
at Rei. "Too slow," she said.

"You're having a Shinto ceremony?" Ami asked Makoto.

"Yeah," she smiled. "I think that's what Mom and Dad would
have wanted. Since they're going to be there in spirit, I figured I
ought to honor their wishes."

"You know this is going to be the first wedding I've
officiated?" Rei added with a smile.

"Don't mess it up," jabbed Usagi.

"As if!" Rei said, eyes flaring. "I know what I'm doing! And
one word of warning: If I see you set foot on the grounds and you're
not wearing a kimono, you're in deep trouble! And that goes double
for you, Minako!"

That did it. Instantly Usagi, Rei and Minako were at it,
throwing threats and accusations back and forth that only three
longtime friends could safely do. Makoto leaned over and caught
Ami's attention.

"See all of the character growth you've missed in six years?"
Makoto joked.

"And I've spent every day of those six years longing for it,"
Ami replied happily.

Continued in part 2