Vignettes from Tokyo

The first half of what will be a short and silly two-part story, following immediately after 'Haunted Weekend'. Usagi and her friends arrive back home in Tokyo after their night in the haunted house.

. . . . .

Scene 1: Road Rage

"We're here!" Aino Minako's excited squeal was barely audible above the howl of skidding tires as her little orange car screeched to a stop in the parking lot beside Kino Makoto's apartment.

To her left, Makoto relaxed the tight squint of her eyelids and slowly looked around in exaggerated awe. "We made it home and we're still in one piece? I must be dreaming!"

"Come on, silly! Time's wasting and I want us to be with Taro and Yuji at your house as soon as we possibly can!" Minako sprang from the car and waited, tapping her foot impatiently as her friend climbed out. "Don't forget the money, Mako-chan."

"I won't, but I'd sure like to forget that ride we just had" the brunette muttered. "I never thought I'd believe that flying in a plane would feel safer than sitting in a car."

"Don't be such a scaredy cat!" Minako laughed. The girls trundled up the stairs to the third floor, soon arriving at Makoto's tiny Tokyo home. "Listen, why don't you shower first while I phone the boys? I'll only need a few minutes after you're done, then we can get going."

"Fine" the brunette agreed as she unlocked the door. "But try to keep it short, will you please? My phone bill next month is going to kill me." After a quick shower, Makoto emerged and changed into a fresh skirt and top while her blonde friend whooshed past to take her turn. In record time, Minako finished and scurried into the hall.

"Do you still have the extra clothes I left here the last time our guys were in town?" she asked from within the confines of an oversized beige bath towel.

"I set them out on the bed for you. While you change, I think I'll have some tea. My throat's a little dry. Want a cup?"

"Tea?" Minako stared at Makoto in stunned shock, as though the tall brunette had just magically sprouted a third eye in the center of her forehead. "There's no time for tea!"

"Alright, since you're in such a panic I'll skip the tea" Makoto muttered. "Were you able to reach Yuji and Ta-?"

Her half-spoken question fell on deaf ears as Minako zoomed away to change. But the blonde answered back through the bedroom doorway as she dressed, "Hai! It's all set. The boys will be waiting for us at your house when we get there." Seconds later, she reappeared, still fastening buttons on her white blouse. As a finishing touch, she reattached her traditional red bow to her long golden hair. "Ok, Mako-chan! Let's get our wheels spinning!"

"Your hair's still damp."

"I'll leave the car window down and it'll dry in the breeze while we drive!" Minako answered.

"The breeze?" the brunette scoffed. "At the speeds you travel it's more like a tropical storm, if you ask me."

Giggling, Minako grabbed her friend's arm and guided her toward the door. "Time to go!"

"Ok, ok! Stop pushing! I want to be with Yuji, not fall down the stairs and end up in the hospital!" With a sigh, Makoto followed her anxious friend back to the car. "Maybe I should take the train" she pondered aloud. "You can pick me up at the station in Nerima."

"Nani? That's crazy talk!" Minako yanked open the left door and firmly steered Makoto into the passenger seat. In a heartbeat, she zipped around to the other side and took her place behind the wheel. A quick twist of the key and hard stomp of her right foot brought her little car's engine screaming to life. "Hold on tight, Mako-chan!" Before starting out, Minako reached up to slip her designer eyewear into place and groaned. "Baka Minako! I left my sunglasses in the bathroom!"

Makoto reached for the door handle. "No problem, let me go get-" It was all she had time to utter before the car abruptly reversed, then lurched forward onto the busy road, leaving Makoto scrambling to fasten her seat belt.

"Taro and Yuji, here we come!" Minako cheered. But the blonde at the wheel rapidly became frustrated. "Just look at all this traffic!" she fumed. "It's ridiculous, Mako-chan! There's just too many cars in Tokyo these days."

"Well, why don't you do your part and leave your car at home occasionally?" Makoto teased. "I think you'd drive from your bedroom to the breakfast table every morning if you somehow found a way."

Minako gave her friend a sour glare before pulling up close behind another vehicle waiting at the next red light. She began drumming her fingers on the wheel.

"Mako-chan, doesn't that look like Rei's car in front of us?"

"Kind of, but I think it's bigger than Rei's, and the two people sitting inside it definitely aren't her and Yuuichirou" Makoto noted with a chuckle. In the car directly in front of them, its blonde driver was chatting with a green-haired passenger. Both appeared several years older than the girls waiting behind. "They do look strangely familiar though."

"I was just thinking the very same thing" Minako replied. "The guy driving is really cute. Of course, he's not nearly as handsome as my Taro-chan!" she boasted proudly. "He's a real man!" She winked slyly at her passenger. "In every way!"

"So what's my Yuji then, a bowl of udon?" Makoto shot back defensively.

The light changed, but the driver hesitated a moment before pulling away, still chatting with the green-haired girl. "Come on!" Minako yelled through her open window while leaning on her horn. "Let's get going! We've got bigger fish to fly!"

"Minako-chan, it isn't polite to use your horn so often" Makoto chastised her, but her friend was too infuriated by the car blocking her path to pay any attention to the brunette's reprimand.

The blonde at the wheel of the larger maroon car peered in her rear view mirror then said something to the passenger. Ever so slowly they began creeping forward, with the driver's face now sporting a huge smirk.

"Will you look at that! They're going really slow on purpose!" Minako fumed. "And there's too much traffic here to change lanes and pass them!"

"That's a shame" Makoto chuckled, feeling relieved at the welcome development. "I guess we'll just have to travel at normal speeds for a while."

After suffering through the next three stoplights still trapped behind the other slow-moving car, and with her muttering growing louder by the second, Minako finally found her chance. A large delivery truck was signaling to turn into a side street from the next lane and the blonde abruptly yanked the steering wheel hard left, making Makoto's body jerk against her seatbelt as she weaved in behind the truck.

"Real smooth, Minako-chan!"

After the truck had gone, Minako pulled up alongside the other car and glared sternly over at its driver while they waited side-by-side at yet another red signal. She grew even more upset when the person at the wheel looked back and gave her a big smile and a wink.

A sudden realization dawned on her. "Mako-chan! Those people beside us are the same two who passed Ami's car on the way home from the resort trip last year! Hai, I'm sure it's them!"

"The two clowns who teased us and made us look like total idiots?" Makoto leaned forward to peer past her friend through the open window. "You're right, Minako-chan! I never thought we'd see them again, but here they are!" She added her angry glare to Minako's as both girls scowled at the couple, who now seemed to be deliberately ignoring them.

"Well! This time the shoe is on the other hand! Mako-chan, do you know what time it is? Time to get even, that's what!" Minako's eyes narrowed, flitting back and forth between the red light and the car beside her. Her hands tightened their grip on the steering wheel. "When that light turns green, we're going to leave those two in our dust! Which is exactly where they belong!"

Makoto sat back and answered in a low, determined growl. "Do it."

The light changed and the two girls in the orange hatchback squealed away at full power. Inside the second car, Kaioh Michiru wrinkled her nose disapprovingly at the sudden unexpected outburst of noise and commotion. She fanned the fumes away from her face with a few subtle wafts of her hand. "What on earth was that all about?"

As her partner drove off, Tenou Haruka glanced at her green-haired companion and grinned. "Michiru, isn't it disgraceful how kids act these days?"

. . . . .

Scene 2: Dinner Plans

Mizuno Ami left her miko friend's red Mercedes and said goodbye to Rei and Usagi at the curb. She waved as they drove away, waiting until Rei's car had merged into traffic. The blue-haired girl turned and scurried up the steps to unlock the front door to her home. Once inside, she placed her shoes neatly in a closet as her mother approached.

"Mama, you're home!" Ami was pleasantly surprised to finally see her parent again after a period of overtime at the hospital had kept Dr. Mizuno busy for days.

"Konnichiwa, Ami-chan. I needed a break so I swapped shifts with Dr. Hyata today." Her mother greeted her brilliant young daughter. "How was your big adventure with your friends at the haunted house last night?"

"It was... quite interesting, Mama. I learned a lot from it."

"But of course you did" Saeko smiled. "I certainly hope you didn't encounter too many ghosts!" she continued tongue-in-cheek.

"Uh... no, Mama" Ami smiled back. "Not... too many." As a highly-skilled professional, Dr. Mizuno had passed much of her logical thought patterns and scientific skepticism along to her child, though lately she found herself wondering if there really was something else 'out there'. The appearance of youma in Tokyo and those mysterious Sailor Senshi who fought them was more than enough to give her and her colleagues at Juuban Secondary General Hospital pause for thought, as well as an often-lively ongoing debate during their lunch breaks. She felt incredibly relieved that her shy, studious teenage daughter wasn't mixed up in such dangerous matters.

Ami and Saeko entered the living room together, and after a quick glance around, the blue-haired girl's voice revealed more than a trace of disappointment. "Ryo isn't here?"

Saeko briefly pressed her lips firmly together to avoid smiling. "That boyfriend of yours? Hmm... I wonder what he could possibly be up to today?"

After a night of intense listening for unusual sounds at the Himuro Mansion, Ami's ears were still extremely alert. The soft patter of sock-clad feet on the floor behind her made the girl instantly whirl around.

A handsome dark-haired boy stood smiling happily back at her. "I really missed you, Ami-chan."

"Ryo-kun!" She flung her arms tightly around her boyfriend and was about to kiss him when she remembered her parent was standing nearby. Both teens paused, Ryo shyly diverting his gaze downward while Ami peered expectantly at her mother. Taking the cue, Saeko chuckled softly and left the living room. The instant she had gone, the young lovers' lips came together in joyous bliss.

"I missed you too, my Ryo-kun" Ami softly whispered after they parted, the teenage couple still holding each other close in a warm, tender embrace. "So very, very much."

The fifteen-year-old boy looked as though a massive weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "I can't tell you how glad I am that you're finally home safe, my beautiful Ami."

"Were you concerned about me again?"

"Worried sick, actually" Ryo admitted. He kept his voice low so her mother wouldn't overhear them. "I had another vision late last night, the first one in months. I couldn't sleep so I was sitting up in bed reading a schoolbook when it suddenly came to me."

"Oh?" Ami sat beside her love on the sofa, looking into his deep blue eyes with concern. "What was it about?"

"If what I saw in last night's vision was the same creature you and the other Senshi fought, I... I'm so happy you came back to me." The fifteen-year-old shivered at the vivid, horrifying memory.

"I promised I'll never leave you, Ryo-kun" Ami reassured him. "And I won't. We did encounter some trouble last night, but that's all taken care of now." She smiled brightly at her young man. "Makoto gets to keep her house, and we and the other couples are together again, safe and sound. A very happy ending, wouldn't you agree?"

"Hai." He took her soft hand and held it gently in his. "Very happy. There's only one thing that could make this day even better. Remember that romantic dinner together I promised you a while ago? Let's go out tonight, as a celebration."

"Of course, darling! I'd love to! But only if you let me treat you."

"I have enough cash to cover it, sweetheart. I'm doing really well from all that extra tutoring I've been giving lately!" Ryo joked.

Ami's beautiful blue eyes sparkled. "Save it for something even more special. Tonight's on me. Though to be precise, Mako-chan will be paying for it."

"Mako-chan?" Ryo asked, puzzled.

"When she counted the prize money, she found there was some extra yen left over, even after allowing for two full years of tax payments on her home. So she divided the remaining cash between everyone."

"She shouldn't have done that, Ami-chan. She probably needs that money more than you or any of the other girls."

Ami continued, "I know. We all tried to convince her to keep it, but you know our Mako-chan. Extremely kind and generous, but... quite stubborn at times."

"That was incredibly nice of her. Well then, I wouldn't want to refuse an offer of dinner from the girl I love and will be marrying some day soon!" Ryo grinned. "That just wouldn't be right. So... where are you taking me?"

As Ami was about to answer, Mizuno Saeko strolled across the living room with her purse. "I'm going out to do a little shopping and have coffee with a friend, Ami-chan. I'll be back sometime later this evening. You and Ryo have a good time while I'm gone."

After her mother had left and closed the door behind her, Ami smiled sweetly at her boyfriend. "Where are we going? Well... choosing an appropriate restaurant isn't something to be taken lightly, my Ryo-kun. It requires careful consideration and attention to the most intimate of details to enjoy the very best experience." Her voice dropped to a soft, inviting whisper. "It's a very interesting problem, my love. How about we go upstairs and... study it a while?"