Gone But Not Forgotten
A soft breeze coaxed Naru Osaka into opening her eyes. She felt warm, but not hot. It was perfect weather, but her eyes said differently. The sky was red and the crystal clear full moon was black. There was no sun, but the red light from the sky allowed her to see as if it were a sunny day. Am I... dead?
Was she in hell? Purgatory? Was the dusty wasteland surrounding her truly the afterlife? She observed herself and realized she was still wearing her dress for Ami's party that she never made it to. She remembered the brutal assault and the grizzly end of her attacker at the hands of The Journeyman. Her knee was fine other than the visible hole in it. At least it didn't hurt and worked normally in the dream world or afterlife, whichever was applicable. She stood up and took a few steps. "Now what..."
She looked around at three hundred and sixty degrees of empty horizon, all red sky. The ground was an off white powder. She kicked at it and a layer of off white gravel and rock was underneath. The soft breeze didn't seem to kick up any dust. Then again, what was the point of physics when you were dreaming? Or dead...
She stopped breathing for a moment, and almost felt as if some mysterious force was pushing air back into her lungs again before she had a chance to see if she actually needed to breathe anymore. She followed up that inconclusive experiment by taking her pulse. After a moment of pushing on her wrist and then her neck, she felt a faint, mostly rhythmic pressure. She smiled slightly as she was convinced that she was still alive in the real world.
"Mr. Rabbit," she asked softly. No rabbit with a fob watch came running by, complaining about being late. She looked at the ground again. Although she displaced the dust when she moved, it filled back in as soon as she looked away. No footprints to see if she was walking in circles. Then again, maybe she should be calling for a certain rabbit of the moon...
She looked at the small slit just below her knee again. It was rather unsightly, but it wasn't gushing blood. She wondered if she would be able to fully recover after such an injury. Then again, she had to survive the severe shock and blood loss, first. Her next experiment, which would have involved trying to taste the dirt, was interrupted by the sound of an approaching car. A red car of the Lamborghini or Ferrari persuasion. She wasn't sure, as she had never looked into it...
It can't be... Was she only alive enough to be ferried to the afterlife by a friendly face? Was that it? Was it over? No... The car slowed and stopped in front of her. Naru took a step back as she heard the sound of a power window rolling down, wondering if she should be running. Even if it was hopeless, she would fight for as long as she could!
"Please get in," a familiar, missed voice said.
"Mr. Sanjouin..." Naru obeyed. Surely he wouldn't betray her again. She opened the car and gazed upon him. He was the way she had remembered him. Long brown hair, soft blue eyes and a periwinkle blue sports jacket.
He looked at her and smiled a gentle smile, one he truly meant. "Please, call me Masato. I like my human name."
"Am I going to die?" She put on her seatbelt and looked back at him.
"That is up to you."
"What do you mean?"
Masato pointed to a small box on the dashboard. "It's really quite simple. There are two chocolate parfaits in that box. If you wish to stay here with me..."
Naru grabbed the box and tossed it out of Masato's window. "It's not that I don't wish to see you, but if I don't wake up, it'll kill my mother, and I'll be damned if I miss Usagi-chan's wedding."
Masato chuckled as he rolled up the window with the push of a button. "I understand. Hang on."
Naru was pressed against her seat as the engine roared and the car sped forward. "Is this thing a Lamborghini or a Ferrari?"
"I think it's a Corvette. I'm not really sure, though. It was stolen. Why do you ask?"
"I was just wondering. I never really looked into it after you died."
"I never really thought about it until now." Naru was held in place by her seatbelt as the car audibly skidded to a halt.
"Um... how did you make that noise on powdered dirt?"
"Just go with it," he said with a wink. "This is your stop."
Naru looked out her window. "My old house in Juuban?"
"You look tired. Take a nap. When you wake up, you'll be back in the world of the living. And do me a favor."
"Look into what kind of car this is. Now it's gonna bother me until I find out." He started chuckling.
"Wouldn't it be on the car somewhere?"
"This isn't a real car."
"Wait... how do I tell you what kind of car this is?"
"We'll see each other one more time. We'll share the parfait then. Now if you don't mind, I got another appointment."
"Another person is making a choice, too?"
He frowned. "You're very lucky. This one, not so much."
She nodded her understanding. "Masoto, I might not be back here for decades."
He shrugged. "Time isn't linear here, nor is it interpreted the way you interpret it in your world."
"Is this a dream or the transition between life and death?"
The gentle smile returned. "Yes."
Naru smiled at his answer. "Alright. You take care of yourself."
"You too. I want you to be gray and hunched over when we meet again."
Naru exited the vehicle as another girl got in the car. "Omi?"
She looked at her and squinted. She didn't have her glasses and her pink hair was done up in balls from the dance, but one had been cut off. She had a scarf covering her neck, but there were several very visible cuts on her face. She smiled at her and gave her a peace sign as Masoto's car sped off.
"Take a nap," Naru said to herself as she walked towards the front door. She began to feel dizzy and lightheaded, as if her breaths weren't having any effect. As she opened the door, she felt a shocking sensation running through her chest. "No!" She slammed the door and locked it for good measure. Naru stumbled towards the couch as things became blurry. It was naptime. Masoto wasn't going to betray her again. As the dream faded into a deeper level of unconsciousness and she felt a rib break, she smiled. She knew she would wake up again...
Until we meet again, Masoto...
Tetsuya's eyes snapped open when he heard a familiar laughing sound. He was in the room with no walls, a dirty floor and that damned hazy, cracked mirror. He looked at his reflection. The figure perfectly mimicked his movements, but it wasn't him, it was something he simply called The Monster.
"Your mother did wonders during our last confrontation," he said with his ghostly voice. Two glowing orbs that were like iridescent shimmering holographs could be seen under the dark, faded purple cloak he wore. Two gnarled hands with pale brown, leathery skin and claws for fingernails were holding a glowing orb. It was him, alright. "I can taunt you and remind you of your failures until the moopawaks come home, but I can't touch you."
"... Mom?" Tetsuya remembered the black lightning that burned his very essence, burned his soul. Ever since the day the Klijargans invaded Aschothiyl, he had had occasional dreams where The Monster would attack him, and one by one, his guardians would hold him at bay long enough for Tetsuya to wake up. Back then, he had called himself Pethospoe Jirghy. "Mom!"
Only silence followed. First, Jorda had held The Monster off. She had been his friend when he was still a child. He protected her from the pimps and mistresses who wanted to sell her out, but the only protection he could offer her was joining him as a mule, running drug deliveries through the slums. It kept them off of the streets and away from the horrible orphanages, but she started using and overdosed when she was twelve. After her stand against The Monster, Tetsuya never saw Jorda in a dream again.
Following her was his Uncle Reeshka, who had helped his mother raise him. Tetsuya didn't see The Monster for a long time after that, not until the night he had almost killed himself. He chickened out and cried himself to sleep, only to be greeted by The Monster's laughter and his mother's terrified voice. He tried to fight that time. He knew he'd never see her again in the dream realm if The Monster fought her. Together, they sealed him in a mirror.
But it had been in vain. In order to make the seal permanent, his mother sacrificed her spiritual essence. As she faded away, she begged him to keep fighting and not give up hope. Despite the crushing realization that she was truly gone forever, he kept his promise and began devising his escape from the Klijargans the next morning.
It was one of the few promises he had yet to break. But no matter how things turned out, he would never see her again. She had been murdered when he was eight, and her spirit, which had protected and guided him, had finally perished in the last battle with The Monster.
"You know you're just wasting your breath. She's gone forever."
Tetsuya looked away from the mirror. "I know that."
"You're all alone."
Memories of a silly blonde girl with two ridiculous pigtails from two buns on her head made him smile, especially the comment about Omi needing a stick to beat off boys at college. He wondered if she ever realized the double meaning of her words. He opened his mouth to speak, but The Monster cut in.
"They'll leave you too. Omi was just the first."
"I have to believe otherwise. Sailor Moon is undefeated."
The Monster laughed. "So are the Klijargans. An unstoppable force and an unmovable object. What happens when they meet? The answer is rather simple. One of them loses, and the odds say that you picked the wrong side. Getting killed for a hopeless cause. Hardly any way to repay Celthia for her..."
"Don't you dare speak her name!" Tetsuya stalked up to the mirror, The Monster helplessly copying his movements.
"What's in a name? You're on your third one! But don't tell him that..."
Tetsuya saw another reflection in the mirror. That little twit... He turned to face a young boy wearing the clothing he had worn the day his mother and uncle died. "You again? I see you brought your friend."
Hiding behind him was a little girl in a light purple nightgown. She was holding a stuffed animal that looked like a cross between a panda bear and a kangaroo. "It's okay," the boy said to her. "He can't hurt you anymore."
"Anymore? Again with your crap! What riddles do you have for me, my younger self?"
The boy shook his head. "You never stopped being me because you never were me! I'm Celpoe Midnovir, and Celthia was my mother. You're just an unfinished patchwork of broken shards of lost souls in charge of my body!"
Big words, little man. "I never saw her protecting you."
"That's because she still had hope in the future."
Tetsuya walked up to Celpoe and stared down at him. "Let me guess... there is no hope for the future?"
"As long as you live, hope dies."
"As long as you live," Tetsuya repeated in a mocking voice, "hope dies. Wow, where did you steal that one from? Most eight year olds aren't that insightful."
The girl huddled closer to Celpoe. "Knock it off. You're scaring her."
Tetsuya took a step back. "Sorry. I dunno why she hangs around with a schmuck like you, but who am I to judge?"
"No one's perfect," the girl said softly, not making eye contact. "Please... try harder."
Tetsuya opened his mouth to reply, but the words never came. Never once in the two years of his run ins with The Monster, Celpoe and the little girl, and his dead family and friends did the boy ever say a word of kindness or encouragement. Why would the girl be any different? "Is your name... Mellaha?"
The tiniest hint of a smile crept upon her face while she continued to avoid eye contact. "No..."
She twirled in place back and forth slightly as the smile grew. "I'm not from Aschothiyl like you two."
"He's not from anywhere," Celpoe snapped. The smile on the girl's face faded as she stood still again, looking away from both of them. "Why are you even talking to him? Don't encourage him! You know what he is."
"And what am I," Tetsuya asked softly, looking at the girl. "Please."
The girl hugged Celpoe. "I'm sorry, but this is where we have to disagree to agree." Although she had misspoken the phrase, she understood the concept. She made eye contact with Tetsuya and smiled. "You're your mother's son. No matter what happened or what will happen, Celthia sees you as her son, just like Celpoe. That's all that matters because that means she's your mommy, too."
The room began to fade and blur. "What do you mean by no matter what happened? How does that affect..."
It was too late, and the dream ended with the sound of The Monster's condescending laughter.
Author's notes: Um, pretty significant change from the original story. Naru gets a dream scene, and Tetsuya's mother and Jorda are already gone in the dream word as well. In addition, The Monster, Celpoe and the girl are introduced way earlier than when I originally wrote it. As for the confusion to Sanjouin's car, I'm not sure what he drove. I googled it, and I got nuttin! So, that's how I'm writing it in. :P
Um, this was originally the prologue to part two, now it's chapter two. Um, expect Tetsuya's past to come slowly in bits and pieces, as in addition to not wanting to admit things to his friends, by doing so, he validates those events by admitting them to himself, and he has to embrace the fact that in addition to being Tetsuya Journey, he is also Pethospoe Jirghy and Celpoe Midnovir, and he can't keep outrunning his past.
Uh, I hope I described the girl's movement right. You know that thing that kids'll do when they kinda rotate clockwise and counterclockwise standing in place with their feet not moving when they're thinking about something? That's what I'm trying to convey. I dunno. It's late, and I get two of my teeth drilled tomorrow. I'd like to get chapter three up by Wednesday, but I'm not making any guarantees.
Oh! The Dark Knight Returns: Part Two and The Dark Knight Rises were both $#%&ing awesome! Don't hate Bane for not being The Joker. G'night!
Oh, yeah! Thanks to everyone who's read my stuff or written a comment or critique!