Once more, Minako dreamt of a girl calling out to her. She followed the voice, even though she knew she couldn’t reach it. She ran and ran -- until another voice called for her.
This time it was masculine. Heartstrings tugged between pain and sadness, anger and regret. Despite how solemn and stern the inflection was, Minako felt he cared a great deal. That, just like her, he wanted to protect someone.
Both voices pulled her, drawing her closer. Should she head towards the girl she dedicated her life to or to the man she loved? Who she had loved before -- until he betrayed her. Betrayed her trust, her love, her princess.
This pain was unbearable, almost ripping her apart. But she couldn't awaken. A chorus of voices called for her, but she wanted to leave. She needed to. Her sanity depended on it -- yet she couldn't. Until, the ground trembled. A new, concerned voice kept calling for Minako, an earthquake each time. She realized someone was shaking her with all their might.
Suddenly, she sat up, wide awake. Something rolled off her bed with a yelp of displeasure. It was her white canine companion with a crescent moon on his collar. Koromaru. She winced as Koromaru thudded onto the floor with a pained yowl. "I'm sorry, Koro-chan!" the auburn-haired girl said with an apologetic expression as she climbed out of the bed.
The dog shook it off and straightened his back. "At least it wasn't on purpose, Minako." She winced again at that comment as she sat on the floor. While she stretched, the dog dawdled near her. He cocked his head, worried. "Did you have a bad dream, Minako?" She looked away. "Minako, answer the question. If you don't, I'll pester you all day."
"Agh, leave me be Koro-chan!" she exclaimed, folding protesting arms. All the moon dog did was stare. Defeated, Minako sighed. "Okay, I did. My dream... it was… a call from the princess." She looked down at her hands, and Koromaru came to her side.
"It's not unusual for you since you awoke first."
She smiled as she nodded. "True. But this time it was different on a whole ’nother matter, Koro-chan." The dog blinked, then prompted her to continue. "The princess called me, and I tried to run to her. I kept running, but then… someone else called me as well!" Surprised, he comically toppled. She laughed before helping him up.
"But that's not possible!" His expression strained as he thought it over.
"Yeah, I knew that, Koro-chan. Thanks for telling me." Minako rolled her eyes as she proceeded. "The person who called me was a man. I couldn't see his face. In fact I couldn't see him at all. But he kept calling for ' Venus ' over and over. For some reason, I felt so many emotions at once. Pain, sadness, anger, and even regret. As if I loved and hated him at the same time..." Her heart throbbed and she gripped her shirt.
She noticed her companion didn't utter a word. His expression was a mix of anger and sorrow. Too complex for a dog -- but then again, Koromaru was, well, special. "Koro-chan, is something wrong?" However, her words didn’t get through to him. If anything, he grew angrier to the point of growling. "Hey, Koromaru!" she yelled, and the dog hopped.
"Why did you yell?!" he barked.
"Because you weren't responding to me. You even started growling! Like a regular dog!"
Koromaru, flabbergasted, remarked, "Of course! I'm a dog, you silly girl!"
She bonked his head in annoyance and folded her arms. "There's the regular Koro-chan. Now, why did you look so mad?" He looked away, but she directed his head to look eye-to-eye. "Tell me. And you are not going to leave out a single detail."
The dog relentlessly squirmed but couldn’t escape. Defeated, he sighed as he frowned, staring at an annoyed Minako. "Fine. I'll tell you." His voice was low. “Back then in the past... the Crown Prince of Earth had his own protectors, similar to our Princess of the Moon... Those protectors were the Shitennou.”
“...Oh nonono!” Minako exclaimed as her eyes widened. She regretted asking, realizing the identity of the man in her dream. This was neither good or happy to acknowledge.
Koromaru looked at her pensively. He didn’t want to talk about that person. Yet he had to if his Senshi dreamed of him. ‘ Why must you haunt and torture her? Are you asking for her forgiveness? Foolish! ’ he thought with a snarl. ‘ You betrayed her and your prince. I won’t forgive you either. ’
He looked at the young girl whose expression blanked as she stood, mumbling. “No, no, no... Absolutely not. I am not going to deal with this.”
She shook her head violently. He was scared now. “V...!?”
“Sorry, Koro-chan, but I am in need of a walk.” Leaving a rather conflicted Koromaru behind, she left the room in a rush. He started after her, but she slammed the door shut.
“Oh, Minako…” He felt terrible. However, Koromaru couldn’t do anything.
Minako glanced around. Thankfully, her cousin and her brother-in-law were at work, so she could sneak out of the apartment. She needed to clear her mind. ‘Maybe playing some games and seeing Aragaki-san will do me some good,’ she contemplated as she pulled on her sneakers. She needed to do something, anything, to forget her dream. As she headed towards Game Panic, she spotted dark clothes and dark sunglasses -- an older boy fully engrossed with his headphones as he passed.
Minako stopped at the crosswalk button, turning to stare at their receding back. Confused as to why she noticed him, she shook her head and continued on her path. ‘ Geez, who would wear black head-to-toe on a sunny day like this? What a weirdo. ’
Luckily, Game Panic was nearby. ‘ He’s totally not my type. A gloomy music junkie. He’s nothing to be concerned about. ’
When she arrived, she brightened. Time to focus on gaming and Aragaki-san. Nothing else! Not on a mysterious man from her dream and past life or some gloomy music junkie. Absolutely not! Minako entered, a spring to her step. “Hi, Aragaki-san!”
Said young man peered up from behind the counter with a nod. “Hey. Didn’t think you’d be comin’ in today.”
She grinned slightly as she sauntered to the counter. “Hehehe, I felt like playing some games today! Gotta keep my high score, y’know!”
Shinjiro muttered in response, “Alright, Arisato. Have fun.”
She was flustered, but the moment was ruined immediately. Just then, her classmate Iori Junpei entered. “Ohh~ look who it is! Arisato-chan! I didn’t know you came to this place. Do you even know how to play games?”
She groaned internally and glared with animosity. She didn’t want to deal with him. “Can it, Iori. Of course I know how to play games. Are you trying to say that a girl like me can’t? Have you seen the high score of the Sailor V game? That’s mine. ” Bam. End of conversation. Or so she wished.
“Hey, hey, what got you so riled up, Arisato?” He revolved his baseball cap, holding his hands up as if to surrender. “I didn’t mean anything by that. I was joking! Seriously, what’s up with you?”
Minako wanted to roll her eyes, but Shinjiro was concerned now. She deflated at the spot, scratching the back of her neck. “Oh, you know. The usual. I’ve been so stressed over next week’s math test, I had a nightmare I flunked it!” This was only partially a lie. There was indeed a math test coming up.
That was news to Junpei. “We have a math test next week?! Oh man, oh man, I completely forgot!”
Minako murmured to Shinjiro, “He probably erased it from his memory!”
The duo sniggered and Junpei frowned. “Not very funny, you two.”
“Oh, lighten up, Iori. Wanna play against me in racing?”
It cheered both of them up. They yelled at each other, distracting one another from their screen. Shinjiro shook his head at the two and greeted newer customers.
In the end, Minako won and pumped a triumphant fist. Junpei faked-sobbed in the background, hammering his against the floor. It was quite the commotion for the other customers yet Shinjiro sneered. “Congratulations, Arisato. Sorry for your loss, Iori. Come on, you two. You’re botherin’ my customers.”
The two of them replied in sync, “Roger, Aragaki-san!”
Junpei got up, dusting himself and shaking his head in disbelief. “I can’t seem to beat you at any game, Arisato!”
“Like I said, it’s girl’s intuition!”
“That doesn’t even make any sense!”
The two of them began to bicker, but Shinjiro cut in, “Hey, ya loudmouths want a sundae parfait?”
Minako almost drooled at the thought. Junpei, on the contrary, got up to leave. “Sorry, Aragaki-san, I gotta get home.” He beamed at Minako. “Smell ya at school, Arisato-chan!”
She rolled her eyes but smiled while waving goodbye. Then she turned her attention to Shinjiro, nodding eagerly with her ponytail bobbing. “I do, I do!”
“The usual, right?”
She affirmed as such as she sat at the counter. She had her fun, managing to forget the man in her dream. As thankful as she was for that, she still didn’t know what to do.
Shinjiro returned and gave her the sundae parfait. Her forlorn look didn’t go unnoticed. “What’s the matter, Arisato?”
She blinked, startled. “Did I look worried, Aragaki-san?” She scuffed at her cheek in embarrassment. ‘ Oh geez, now even he’s worried… Well, it’s kind of nice, but-- Now that I think about it, I left poor Koro-chan in my room! I’ll have to apologize later…! ’
“You look like you’re carrying a large burden on your shoulders. Wanna ... talk about it?”
She took a deep breath. “Okay. Um, what if someone you cared about came back into your life? Thing is, that person hurt you and your friends and betrayed your trust. What would you do?”
The brunette quirked his eyebrow, unsure of what to say. “Is this your…”
With a blush, she raised a hand in protest. “ No, not an ex. Absolutely not. ”
“That’s a complicated question. There ain’t an easy answer. Well-- if it were me, I wouldn’t wanna see ‘em.” Shinjiro paused as he wrung his hands. “If they insist, I’d listen, I guess, but I’d make it clear I want nothin’ to do with them, especially since they hurt the people I care about and all. I’d rather keep them at arm’s length. Tell them they had their chance.” Shinjiro considered thoughtfully..
“Thanks, Aragaki-san, for the sundae parfait and wisdom. I think I know what to do now.” She clapped money on the counter and sprinted out the door. “Keep the change!”
He shook his head. “What an odd and mysterious kid. Seriously, what is up with junior high students these days.”
Minako Arisato, also known as Sailor V and Sailor Venus, ran as if on a mission. She knew what to do and what to say now. In the past, that man had been her old flame. Now, he was the enemy. She wasn’t going to be sad or have regrets. She dared not.
She had other things to do! Things that were important to her, and he couldn’t stop her! The moon shone on her and she smiled. Returning to her apartment, she found her cousin and brother-in-law preparing dinner. “Welcome home, Minako-chan! Where were you?”
“Oh, the usual!” she replied, her heart thumping. Weird, but she was excited to sleep.
Of course, as soon as she opened the door to her room, Koromaru leapt upon her, whining. “I can’t believe you left me in your room, Minako! How could you!”
Her hands clasped together. “Sorry, Koro-chan, but you don’t need to worry about me anymore.”
The dog intended to argue, but that determination... “If you say so, Minako. Do you know who it is?”
She nodded. “ Akihiko .” Minako sighed. “To think he had the guts to bother me in my dreams!” Her fiery eyes blazed as her hands clenched into fists.
“What are you doing up on a school night, Minako-chan?! Go to sleep!” That was her cousin in another room.
Minako flinched in response before plucking Koromaru and crawling into bed. “Goodnight, Koro-chan,” she whispered.
Her eyes closed while Koromaru quietly watched. ‘Goodnight and good luck, Minako…’
It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep. She dreamt immediately and heard the call of her princess. It was instinctive to chase her voice, but Minako -- no -- Sailor Venus stood in her place. Calm and resilient, she ignored it. She had a different objective tonight.
Her patience rewarded her once she heard his voice. Akihiko’s.
“Venus, Venus. Where are you?” he called desperately.
‘ Found you, ’ she thought as she closed her eyes. Focusing on him alone, Sailor Venus blocked out her princess’ voice despite how it pained her to do so. Walking towards his, he grew louder and louder.
Eventually, her eyes opened and saw a young man. His silver-white hair was cut short, his skin was surprisingly pale, and his eyes were bright and kind. However, he didn’t seem to match her memory.
“You know, I expected you to be a little more… darker? With green eyes? Longer hair?”
The man blinked and jumped into the defensive. As he considered her statement, he made a face at her in return. “And I expected you to have blonde hair and blue eyes, Venus.”
“Okay, point taken,” she muttered as she stepped away. “So.. why are you disturbing my dreams, Akihiko? I remember what you did to my princess and to your prince! To me! What the hell do you want?!”
Hot tears threatened to form, but she refused to cry. She refused to be beneath this man! The sight of him wounded her dear heart.
Akihiko was taken aback by her anger, her ferocity. At a loss for words. Clearing his throat, he finally confessed: “I-I… wanted to see you…”
WHAM! A gloved fist sent him to the ground. Venus huffed as she yelled, “That’s pathetic of you!! You invade my dreams just to say you want to see me? For what?! I remember what happened that day! And what I saw won’t change my mind!!”
Tears finally fell, but -- oh no -- that didn’t weaken her. Not at all. They didn’t stop her. She was so, so angry, but when she saw Akihiko stand, shoulders drooped. “Are you here to reminiscence over old times, Akihiko? Or are you going to make me feel terrible?”
He didn’t answer. She glared at him square in the eyes. “Answer me, you coward! Answer me!” She strutted towards him. Once she got near, she hit him. As soon as he seized her wrist, she yanked at his collar with her other hand, wrenching.
Before the two of them could register, their faces pressed. Sailor Venus gave Akihiko a chaste kiss to the lips. While he remained in a tizzy, she whirled against him and kicked him in his stomach, forcing him to release her.
“That caught you off guard didn’t it, Akihiko?” She spoke cheekily even if her face tinged crimson. “That time I came to Earth to drag the princess back to the Moon? I did it because I wanted to see you. All the pointless small talks we had was me trying to get you to like me. I had a huge crush on you back then.” The girl stepped backwards, shrugging. “Unfortunately for both of us, it never worked out!”
“Then w-what’s with the kiss..?”
Her eyes became solemn. “Hmm… who knows. Maybe it was a kiss goodbye and good riddance . Now disappear! You don’t belong in my dreams or in my heart! You’re merely a phantom haunting me! You are my enemy now, and I’ll never forgive you!”
Left unsaid was a proper goodbye , but she was too proud to say it.
On the other hand, Akihiko was not. He bowed to her and turned. She caught glimpse of his eyes darkening. He departed, only to stop. The man didn’t face her as he spoke. “Farewell, Venus.”
He resumed, delving further into the abyss and darkness of her dreamscape. As he faded from existence, she dropped to her knees. The meeting with Akihiko exhausted her, and Venus felt her face flare again as she remembered the kiss.
She placed a finger on her lips and groaned. “There goes my second kiss! Once again to a silver-haired jerk! I’m the worst!” She laughed bitterly. Soon, she heard someone call for her -- the only person allowed to in her dreams.
Sailor Venus approached where she could hear her princess’ voice the loudest. Kneeling, she solemnly swore, “I, Sailor Venus, Guardian of Love, promise to you, my princess, that I will find you no matter what it takes. I shall fight for your sake and yours alone.”
The call for her ceased and Minako woke up at dawn, sprawled on the bed. She sat up, cheeks stained with tears. It was a good thing her guardian dog wasn’t awake. She sobbed into her hands quietly, even though her heart was at ease.
In the end, behind the courageous Soldier of Love, was a young girl who wanted to be ordinary. She wiped her tears and smiled at Koromaru who yawned.
“Good morning, Koro-chan.”
Today was a brand new day, after all.
Fate and destiny were laughing at her.
No, rather, they were messing with her. Hard.
It all started when Minako’s wallet dropped while she chased and beat up a minor thug.
She didn't notice even after returning home. The girl was exhausted to... until the next day. Her room turned into chaos, getting her scolded by both her cousin and Koromaru.
Minako decided to retrace yesterday’s steps, taking Koromaru along for a walk. A sort of apology... as she may or may not have kicked him out when she searched.
The two investigated the park, checking several bushes and under benches. Annoyed, she plopped down on a bench. “Aaah, she’s going to be so mad at me!”
Koromaru gave a sympathetic look, placing a paw on the girl’s feet as if providing assurance.
“Is this wallet.. yours?”
A hand held it towards Minako and she may have squealed at its appearance. She joyously plucked it out. “Ohh, thank you, thank--"
The rest failed to come out for she gaped at that helpful person. One who happened... to be very familiar.
A young man with silver hair and grey eyes. Akihiko. He wore a dark suit with a red tie. Emotions clashed in his eyes, but he nonetheless maintained a polite smile before walking away. Minako’s only blinked as she held the wallet, but then she swiftly rose, sputtering. “W-wait! Can I m-meet you here... Tomorrow...?”
She watched Akihiko halt. He didn't reply for so long that she almost stopped breathing. “...Why?”
"Because I need to talk to you. It's been... a long time since that happened! We can... and need to talk it out. So.. Please. See me."
"I'll keep coming here every day until you do!"
Koromaru barked in agreement, bearing also his fangs.
A groan came from Akihiko. "Fine. Okay, we can.. Meet up."
“Good! Good… Um, I’ll see you tomorrow…”
She walked away as Koromaru followed. “Do you think he’ll show?”
“Yes. He wouldn’t back out from something like this.”
The next day Akihiko was seen pacing back and forth. She found it a little funny, but she didn’t laugh. Yet. “Hey.”
She terminated his pacing, earning her a rather mixed expression. If anything, he seemed… a bit happy for one. Possibly confused, as well.
“H-hey.” He waved weakly, then blinked in realization. “You didn’t bring your pet?”
“Koro-chan is busy. I can protect myself. And definitely from you.”
“I didn’t mean…”
“I know. I was joking.” She sighed. “It’s been a while. I thought you… turned into a gem. So why are you here as a person..?”
“I-it’s more than a while… It’s been four years… It’s been a long time.” He scratched his cheek. “The prince, er-- rather, king-- was strong and few evils had happened, so he released me, and I reverted into a human.”
“He isn’t quite the king yet, you know, Akihiko?” she replied, and nodded. “Huh… I see… And… yeah, it’s been a long time.”
“Is that all you wanted to know?”
“What, I can’t be here with you and talk to you?”
“I don’t mind...”
Silence hovered between them. The one who broke it was Akihiko. “I.. know it's not my place to say this. But, Minako, I’d like… to start over…”
Minako remained quiet. Arms folded as she waited for him to continue, only for him to falter. But then: “Our relationship, I mean. To… be honest, I’m not sure... if there’s anything I can do to make amends--”
“You don’t need to make amends, Akihiko. I’ve forgiven you. Dark Kingdom is no more, and you’re no longer my enemy, either. I can’t hold a grudge for long, you know?”
Minako deeply exhaled and seized his startled hand. “You want to start our relationship over. Focus on that. This ... is a start, don’t you think?”
Flustered, Akihiko peered elsewhere, but his clasped hand adapted warmly into hers. “Yeah. This is a start.”