WRATH OF THE GODS
A Sailor Moon fanfiction
Chapter 1: A Death In The Family
By Bill K.
Sailor Moon and all related characters are ©2012 by Naoko Takeuchi and are used without permission, but with respect. This story is © 2012 by Bill K.
Sakura Ogami is based on the character Sakura Shinguji of the Sakura Taisen video game, manga and anime and is ©2012 by SEGA.
This story is a fictionalized version of actual events.
Saturday, March 5, 2011:
Ami Mizuno was driving down the freeway when her cell phone began to ring. A tired smile of helpless resignation formed on her face. Pulling over to the berm, she brought the cell phone out and answered it before it could go to voice mail.
"Hello, Usagi," Ami said.
"How did you know it was me?" Usagi asked on the other end of the line.
"Who has called me at this time every day for the last two weeks to ask me how my relationship with Hayami is progressing?"
"I don't know. Who?" Usagi asked. By her puzzled tone, she hadn't picked up on Ami's gentle chastizement.
"Usagi," Ami sighed. "I appreciate that you're interested in how Hayami and I are progressing, since you were the one who nudged us together."
"Nudged. I like that," Usagi said over the phone. "It's a lot classier sounding than 'meddling busybody'. And if Luna calls me that one more time. . ."
"The point is," Ami interjected. "Hayami and I are still in the tentative stages of our relationship. We're still discovering who the other person is, what the other person desires and is comfortable with. Please don't take this the wrong way, but you're putting, well, more pressure on me than I'm comfortable handling."
"OH, AMI, I'M SO SORRY!" gasped Usagi. "Please don't be mad at me again! I don't want you to be mad at me again!"
"I'm not mad, Usagi. I know you can't help the way you are. And I do appreciate your interest. But calling every day is - - somewhat extreme."
"I'm sorry," Usagi whimpered. "But I want to know that you're both working out. I guess I am being over-eager. But I really think you and Hayami-San can really be good for each other!"
"I hope so, too," Ami smiled timidly. "I admit I have enjoyed his company."
"Are you going anywhere tonight?" Usagi whispered excitedly. "Oh, there I go again!"
"Actually," Ami giggled, "I'm traveling up to Lake Biwa and spending a few days with my Dad. It's been a few months since I've seen him. And after our recent visit with Ogami-Sensei, I don't want to let things like that slide."
"That's a good idea. I should visit Mom and Dad soon." Usagi paused. "Oh, I've got another call coming in."
"Then I'll speak to you on Monday, Usagi," Ami replied, taking the advantage to sever the conversation. Her hand lingered on the phone after hanging up. What would she do without Usagi as a friend?
Luna was in the kitchen eying the breakfast dishes that were still in the sink. Mamoru working on assembling a new furnishing for the bedroom. Usagi was nattering on the phone, trying to pry things out of Ami that were none of her business.
"Honestly, if the phone lines were ever severed, I think that woman would shrivel up and die," the black cat muttered.
Suddenly the apartment was pierced by an ear-splitting shriek. Luna's eyes bulged in shock. Instantly she went scampering out of the kitchen and over to the phone, for the shriek had come from Usagi. Mamoru arrived at about the same time and was just as confused and agitated.
"Are you kidding me?" Usagi screamed into the phone, wide-eyed and excited herself. "Really? You're not kidding me?"
"What is it?" Luna demanded.
But Usagi's only response was to start jumping up and down in place, the phone still in her hand, squealing "I did it" over and over again. The base of the phone finally jostled off of the end table it was on and Mamoru quickly caught it before it hit the floor. Luna only stared as if her longtime friend and charge had finally lost her tenuous grip on reality. When Usagi at last ran out of energy, she stopped and cradled the phone to her ear with both hands.
"Thank you, Sir! Yes, I'll get right on it! Monday? Yes, I'll be there! Thank you, Sir! Thank you!"
"Usako?" Mamoru asked after she hung up. "What happened?"
"MAMO-CHAN, THEY BOUGHT IT THEY BOUGHT IT THEY BOUGHT IT!" Usagi shouted, teetering close to hyper-ventilating.
"Bought what, Usagi?" Luna barked.
"Your story?" Mamoru asked. "Fire Princess Rika?"
"YES!" Usagi exclaimed. "THEY'RE GOING TO PUBLISH IT! IT'S GOING TO BE IN NAKAYOSHI! THEY WANT ME TO SIGN THE CONTRACT ON MONDAY!"
And she dived at Mamoru, grasping him around his neck and pulling her feet up to her body so he was supporting her full weight. Startled, Mamoru folded his arms around her and held her.
"That's great news, Usako," he said, nuzzling her neck.
"Jolly good, Usagi," Luna smiled. "I told you that perseverance would pay off in the end."
"I'm not a failure!" Usagi proclaimed proudly. Then she stiffened and slid out of her husband's grasp. "I've got to finish the next chapter! I don't want to miss a deadline!"
"I thought we were going out for lunch," chuckled Mamoru.
"No! I've got to do it now! Now while I'm inspired!" And Usagi scurried off to her little studio off of the bedroom. Mamoru and Luna stared after her with varying degrees of amazement.
"She must be inspired if she's turning down a meal," Luna commented acidly.
"I just hope she's not still up drawing at three a.m.," Mamoru said wistfully.
"Still, it is good news," Luna softened. Mamoru beamed his happy assent.
"OK, do you have your bentos?" Makoto asked, kneeling in front of her two children.
Akiko patted her backpack, while Ichiro showed his to his mother. Sanjuro waited by the door while his wife went through her daily ritual. It had been this way every morning, six days a week, ever since Ichiro had started school. Akiko was wearing her black pleated skirt, white blouse and patent leather shoes. She only just now divested herself of the uniform vest because it was too warm. Ichiro wore his black shorts and black tunic with the white sailor-motif kerchief.
"And you've got your homework?" Makoto asked Akiko.
"I don't have any homework," Ichiro protested.
"She's talking to me," Akiko sighed impatiently.
"Akiko, you've mussed your uniform again!" fussed Makoto.
"So? It's not going to stay perfect! I have to move in it!" huffed Akiko.
"There's no reason you can't look neat," Makoto replied. She began adjusting the blouse and skirt while Akiko did a slow burn enduring it.
"Are you going to pick us up or is Daddy?" Ichiro inquired.
"Your Daddy will pick you up," Makoto informed him as she smoothed his hair against his forehead. "I have to run your Aunt Rei somewhere."
"Is it Sailor business?" Akiko gasped excitedly.
"No, it's not Sailor business," Makoto told her. "Your Aunt Rei had someone very close to her - - pass on - - and Rei has to make the - - final arrangements."
"Where did the person pass on to?" Ichiro asked innocently. Makoto's gaze shifted to her husband.
"It means they died, dummy," Akiko said impatiently. That earned her a rap on the head from her mother.
"Akiko, I have TOLD YOU not to call your brother a dummy!" Makoto barked. Then she began smoothing out Akiko's mussed hair.
"Mommy," Ichiro asked. "Can we go visit Aunt Rei? She's probably sad right now."
"Not a bad idea," Sanjuro said. As he did, he stealthily leaned in and eased the children away from his wife before she could primp them anymore. "Think tomorrow would be too soon?"
"No, I think she'd like that," Makoto replied, rising to her feet. "OK, you two be good in school. And don't give your teachers problems. And that goes double for YOU, young lady."
"I hate being a 'lady'," grumbled Akiko as she and Ichiro were led out the door. Sanjuro flashed his wife a mischievous grin as he left. Makoto only shook her head and gathered her purse and car keys.
Derek Johnson strolled through the grounds of the Shrine on Sendai Hill. Five years ago he would have scoffed at liking the peaceful serenity of the place. But he was a different person five years ago. Five years ago he still had a dream of being a major league ball player. It was pretty much all he thought about then.
Two other worshippers, Japanese natives, passed him as he crossed the bridge over the pond. They turned and gawked at him and Derek couldn't decide whether it was because they recognized him as the star outfielder for the Yomiyuri Giants or if it was because he was a six foot three inch black man. Five years ago he would have cared.
When San Diego had released him, a genuine sense of loss had overtaken him. That had been his last chance and he knew it. He might get another offer in a few years, if he continued to do well in Japan. But it would just be "cup of coffee" time. He'd never start. But with that blow came a maturity he'd never had. Knowing that the two things he desired most in life were denied him - - major league baseball and a pretty, fiery, raven-haired priest - - gave him a sense of maturity that he hadn't had before. It was a realization that he had to grow up and look to his future. He had to save money instead of spend it. He had to prepare for a time when even the Japanese League wouldn't want him due to advancing age and eroding skills. He had to stop treating women as momentary dalliances and look to maybe settle down.
That was another reason he was at the shrine. Maybe his dream of major league stardom was gone. But maybe it wasn't too late to settle down. Finally, after wandering the grounds for fifteen minutes, he found Rei. She was sweeping, as it seemed like she always was.
"Hey, Rei," he said, smiling as he eased up to the priest. She glanced up at him and Derek was instantly struck by her mood.
"Hi, Derek," she said tersely, looking down. "It's a little early in the morning for you."
"On my way to the Stadium now," he shrugged. "Something happen?" Rei looked up at him with surprise. "I may not be able to read moods in your league, but I can read the obvious."
"I," Rei began, reluctantly, "got some bad news this morning. Someone very important in my life died."
"A mentor," Rei replied. "She taught the man who taught me everything he knew about being a priest. She was a goal to aspire to more than anything."
"How old was she?"
"One hundred and four."
"I'm sorry, Rei," Derek offered. "That's a long time to live. Was it a full life?"
"All but the last few years, probably."
"Guess that's all we can ask for. I suppose at that age, you kind of figure it's coming." Rei glanced at him, questioning. "I knew a guy once. We played in Fresno together. He had everything going for him. Had a pretty wife, an adorable daughter, and he was going to play with the big club. It was just a matter of time. Then one day he's gone. This drunk driver runs a light and t-bone's the car he was in. Kills him instantly."
"If this is supposed to make me feel better," Rei began.
"Guess I'm just trying to put things in perspective. Thing is, it happens," Derek continued. "You hate that it happens, and that's all right. But when you're a hundred and four, I think you're kind of prepared to die. Your mentor wasn't taken before she could make a difference in the world. It was rough when we lost Aiden. I mean we went on a twelve game losing streak because none of us wanted to be out there. All we could think about was all of the things Aiden was going to do and couldn't now. It hurt. It still hurts, just like you're hurting now. But your mentor was luckier than most. She had her time, more time than most of us get, and she touched other people's lives in that time. That's more than Aiden got. And you may not want to go on now, just like we didn't want to go on without Aiden, but you have to. Otherwise, you're not doing her memory any good. And it will get easier."
"Sometimes I think you're miscast, Mr. Johnson," Rei replied, smiling slightly. "You should have been a philosopher instead of an athlete."
"It's OK," Derek grinned. "Lots of times I think you should have been a model instead of a priest." Rei felt herself flush. "Who says you can't do both?"
"Sorry if I'm breaking something up," they heard.
Turning, they found Makoto standing on the path. Rei turned back to Derek.
"I'm sorry, I have to go," she said. "Makoto's driving me up to the rest home so I can make funeral arrangements for Ogami-Sensei."
"Well you take care. And remember what I said. We lose people out of our life all the time. It'll help if you think about all the memories she gave you, instead of her not being there anymore," Derek advised. "Call me if you want to talk. We can hit one of those restaurants by the harbor."
"I'll think about it," Rei replied. "And thank you, Derek."
The priest went to join Makoto. While Makoto didn't say anything, her thoughts came unbidden to the priest.
"You're getting as bad as Usagi," muttered Rei as they headed for street level. Makoto only smirked.
The undisturbed woodlands around Lake Biwa seemed like they hadn't changed in a hundred thousand years. Yet Ami knew they had. She could still hear the traffic from the nearby road. There were occasional planes overhead. And it seemed the path through the woods to the lake was just a little deeper and a little wider. Humanity was encroaching inexorably. And that made Ami sad because she knew it would make her father sad. Someday the only record of the beauty of this area might be the paintings of Yoji Mizuno.
As she walked, Ami anticipated what she would find: Her father concentrating on another painting, ignorant of whether it was noon or midnight, of whether he'd eaten or slept or how long he'd worked on the painting itself. He might let personal hygiene slide for days at a time, and he was never that diligent a housekeeper even when he wasn't absorbed in his craft. He was the complete opposite of her mother in almost every way.
And that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Her mother could be so demanding and controlling. It was why they hardly spoke now. Ami's mother had driven her father away with her exacting, uncompromising nature and stratospheric expectations. Now she threatened to do it to Ami, too. Ami's father never demanded anything of her save that she be kind to everyone.
Approaching the cabin her father resided in, Ami noticed a bag of trash that had been left out on the porch to be disposed of. It had clearly been there overnight, because an animal had gotten to it, ripped the bag open and spread trash all over the grounds in search of food. No doubt her absent-minded father had forgotten it. Making a mental note to clean up the yard after greeting her father, Ami carefully worked her way through the trash to the porch.
"Dad?" she called, knocking on the door. "It's Ami."
No answer. Leaning over to the window, Ami peered in and found the inside in typical clutter. Sketch books were everywhere. Magazines were piled twelve deep on a table. She could see three days' worth of dishes piled up and empty food boxes on the counter.
Sighing, Ami tried the door. It opened without protest, meaning he'd forgotten to lock it again. Though Ami did see why her father left her mother, it was also easy to see her mother's side of things. He could be so exasperating sometimes.
"Dad?" Ami called, venturing into the cabin. There was no response. "Probably down by the lake, painting," she mused to herself.
She was about to close the door behind her when something caught her eye. Refocusing, Ami saw that it was a pant leg behind the sofa, partially obscured by an end table. Entering again, Ami saw as she got nearer that there was a foot sticking out, wearing a slipper. Quickening her pace, Ami reached the spot behind the sofa.
"DAD!" Ami gasped. She knelt down to her father, lying awkwardly on the floor behind the sofa. Years of medical study instantly kicked in. Ami felt for a pulse, but immediately snatched back her hand. Yoji's skin was cold and clammy to the touch. Ami didn't need to feel for a pulse. Her father was dead. He'd been dead for hours, possibly a day.
The strength went out of her and Ami rolled back against the near wall. And her vaunted mind did something it had never done before: It deserted her. There were half a dozen different things she could do at that moment. But she couldn't think of them. Welling emotion stripped her of all rational thought. Instead Ami just began to cry, pitifully and uncontrollably, just like she had when she was five and her father left their home for the last time.
Continued in Chapter 2