Notes and Disclaimers: Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha, Toei and NHK may own the rights, but the fans are the true owners of these characters.
I love this title, btw. I hope you do, as well. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is, as so many of my others are, dedicated to my lovely wife. BGM is "Eien no Melody" and I've used a few of the lines from it. Translations of those lines follow the story, as will a few random notes. The song is written by Noda Kaoru and composed by Mashita Izumi. Arrangement by Akasaka Tooru and of, course, sung by Tomizawa Michie, except in this case.
The Lotos Eaters
Minako smiled and bowed to her audience. A wave of female voices sang out her name in response.
"Minako-sama!" "Aino-sama!" Over and over, the voices came. Minako blew a laughing kiss into the audience as the voices trilled. Screams of Beatlemania-like ecstasy rose up from the throng.
"For my next song, Id like to sing something written by a close friend " The girls voices drowned out her next words, but they quieted as the first strains of a well-known melody began.
"Taiyou ni kazashita " Minakos voice was soft. Not as sweet as Reis, when she had sung it the very first time, but that was so long ago, wasnt it? They had been younger then. Minako scanned the audience for the faces of her friends. Rei stood there, her eyes shining with tears, and her hands being held by Makoto and Ami. Minako smiled at her. But why did Rei look so sad? Behind her three friends stood the mysterious and beautiful Outers all together, like a family. Hotaru held Setsunas hand, and Haruka had her arm around Michiru. They smiled at each other at Minakos words.
"Zutto suki data shinu hodo " Yes, they would smile at that. Minako turned her eyes to the rest of the audience it wasnt fair to favor her friends, but she continued to search for one face, the one for whom the song was written.
There was Mamoru-san, standing tall and handsome. And she could just make out Chibi-Usa next to him.
"Anata no me ga oshiete kureta." Minako finished the song with a flourish and looked across the arena once again. Why wasnt Usagi here? She was supposed to be here, wasnt she? Or was it that she was in the right place, and the rest of them were wrong.
Maybe they werent supposed to be here at all.
Leaves fell like snow. Hotaru could feel the sun warm on her back and she laughed for pure joy at the sensation. Spinning in place until she was dizzy, she fell into a heap of leaves and lay there, feeling the half-soft, half crunchy sensation through her clothes. She wiggled, covering herself slightly with fallen leaves, but unable to get out of the thick pile. She shrieked lightly and two hands grabbed her own and pulled. As if she were weightless, she nearly flew out of the leaf pile and stood with a hop. Keeping hold of one hand, she released the other. Turning to wave at Setsuna-mama, she said to Chibi-Usa, who held her hand tightly, that they should try and make leaf angels. Chibi-Usa smiled and the girls ran to find a good spot to try.
They laughed until their stomachs hurt, while leaves fell in a red-gold shower. When they had stopped laughing, Hotaru turned to Chibi-Usa and asked, "Wasnt Usagi supposed to come today? What happened?"
Chibi-Usas face looked sad. "She has something important to do, so she cant be here."
Makoto chewed on a piece of grass thoughtfully. The sun was bright, but in the shade of the tree, her eyes werent dazzled.
But where were the others? Shed been waiting her for a while. For a change *they* were providing the food and she was hungry. Her stomach growled as if to illustrate the point. At that moment, Makoto heard sounds from behind her and turned to see a small army of people approaching. Smiling and waving she could see all her friends armed with what looked like enough food for an entire city.
Makoto stood and waved. They reached the tree and blankets were laid out, hampers were open, food and drink served. Glasses were raised and toasts made. It was all so wonderful. Makoto had never felt so happy before. This was what was important. Good friends, good food.
She couldnt shake the feeling however, that something was left undone. Just then another toast was drunk and she was shaken from her reverie. She smiled at her friends, noting their happy faces and realized that the happiest one of all wasnt with them.
Makoto frowned a little, missing her friend's bright smile. Holding her glass high, Makoto propsed a toast, to friendship and to Usagi.
They walked along a beach. Harukas pants were rolled up and her shoes in her hand. The other hand held Michirus, whose summer dress moved lightly in the breeze. The sun set in a fiery ball that sparked the waves. Stopping, Haruka turned to Michiru and smiled.
"I didnt expect it be so beautiful here, did you?"
"No." Michirus voice was gentle. "But anywhere would be beautiful as long as were together."
Haruka draped her arm over Michirus shoulder and they continued walking along the beach. "Its so peaceful here. Ive never felt this peaceful before."
Michiru laid her head against Harukas shoulder. The tide lapped at their feet.
"I worry about her, though." Michiru said. "Do you think shell be alright by herself?"
Harukas voice was soft. "I believe in her."
In silence the two women made their way down the beach.
Ami let the music flow through the headphones, her eyes closed. For the moment, all she wanted to think about was the beauty of the notes as they carried her away.
It was nice, to just be able to relax like this with no worries about tests or grades for a few minutes. Not too long, but right now was fine.
Amis eyes opened. The cherry blossoms fell as if in time to the melody. Like snow, they covered the ground around her, brushing past her cheeks, and landing in her hair.
Turning slightly, Ami could see the sleeping forms of her friends. Makoto had her mouth slightly open, while Minako laid so close they practically touched. Ami smiled cherry blossom watching wasnt for everyone. She shifted to see Rei, but could not. Standing, Ami spun to find Rei staring up, tears trickling softly down her face.
The dark haired girl faced Ami. "Im sorry I cant be happy here."
Ami smiled sadly. "I know, but all we can do is wait."
Rei nodded. Ami stepped up to Rei and took one of her hands in her own.
"Well wait together."
The rain came down in sheets. Mamoru stood by the window and thanked the very planet that it cried for him no tears of his own would suffice.
How long had it been since hed seen her? He really couldnt remember anymore. How lonely it had been at first. How shocked hed been when everyone else arrived so suddenly.
Mamoru turned to watch the tableau in the room. Minako, Rei, Makoto and Ami sat together, quietly, or softly crying. When they had come, for one moment he had been glad. But the looks on their faces stopped his heart cold.
It was sometime later that Hotaru and Setsuna appeared. Setsuna sat with the younger women, talking quietly with them, but Hotaru had come to his side and held his hand, watching the rain with him and waiting.
The moment he realized Haruka and Michiru had joined them, something in his heart broke. He knew that she had to do this alone, but it was so hard. Would she join them? Mamoru berated himself for doubting her. He knew she would not come. In contrast, Haruka and Michiru looked almost happy. He hated them for it.
Mamoru turned back to the window and watched the sky mourn.
Setsuna stood before the Doors of Time. She was alone, as she had always been and always would be. She sighed and sent a prayer to the universe that the Senshi would fare well.
Rei looked out into a black sky. Stars glittered brightly, and she spent a moment finding the obvious constellations.
Hours passed and Rei did not move. Sounds of the night came to her, familiar and unfamiliar, but she just sat and watched the sky.
A spark of light shot across the firmament, trailing celestial fire behind it. Reis lips moved silently, mouthing a charm as old as the hills.
The last image of the shooting star erased itself from Reis retinas. Softly, unwilling to disrupt the night with her own wishes, Rei spoke into the darkness.
"Everyone, I tried my best. But I'm so lonely by myself. I'm not that strong. I'm lonely."
"Youre not alone. You're not alone, Usagi."
"Everyone is near you."
"We believed in you."
"That you can do something."
"Minako-chan, Mako-chan. This isn't a dream is it?"
"This isn't a dream. You saved this world."
"With your trusting heart."
"Thank you, Usagi-san."
"You did very well"
"Hotaru-chan, Setsuna-san. I'm so happy."
Yes, this was episode 200.
Eien no Melody Translations:
Taiyou ni kazashita Shaded by the sunlight
Zutto suki datta shinu hodo I love you so much that I could die
Anata no me ga oshiete kureta Your deep eyes told me to do that
"The Lotos Eaters" is originally from the Odyssey. Despite its status as a classic and required reading, it really is an exceptional story. Read it again, without a teacher to ruin it for you. Jonathan Swift used the idea in his Gulliver's Travels (and yes, I know that is not the real title) as well. I've used the original Greek spelling of lotus, because I prefer it.
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