From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane MacMillan
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
CHAPTER 10: A Locket And A Handkerchief
Part 3: Motoki Meets "Mako-chan"
A cold wind blew across the empty square, and over the darkened fountain where in the sunlight, I'd often sit and study. It ruffled my hair stealthily and made my cape unfurl and flap like a sail. I caught the corners and pulled it in. Can't afford to have anyone seeing, or hearing me right now.
I looked out from across the rooftop where I was crouched, looking down on the bridal shop, on the other side of the square. It looked innocent enough now, but that meant nothing where the Dark Kingdom was concerned.
Now, in the empty waiting darkness, Motoki's words floated back to me. Have you ever listened to something and willed yourself not to react then, but to stay calm and show no emotion, only to have it sucker-punch you in the stomach, later, when you remember it? That was what was happening to me now.
Motoki's voice, cheerful and animated, floated out in my thoughts and seemed to brighten the darkened square with his good humoured observations of what had gone on at the Crown Game Center that day. "Did you know that Usagi calls me Onii-san? I think that's so cute. But then, she's a cute little chick."
A cute little chick, huh? GRRRRRRRR. How I stayed silent when he talked about her like that, I don't know. But I held my hands still, and reminded myself that he flirted with all the girls, not just Usagi.
"Anyway, so in she comes with the Amazon, as I was saying, this long tall babe with a brown and white uniform. So of course, I assumed she was from a different school, but then this Makoto blushes a little, and told me she'd just transferred to Juuban Junior High, in Grade 8, just like Usagi, but that they didn't have any uniforms in her size. So then I introduced myself, and Usagi pipes up, 'Oh Onii-san, I didn't know your nickname was Furu-chan, what a cute name!' She's so bubbly, isn't she? And then just like that, she says, 'So... Makoto-san should be... Mako-chan! The good cook, strong Mako-chan!' Usagi's so trusting, isn't she? Know her one day and you're her best friend, just like that."
I sighed at that, and said quietly, "Not always." She gives everyone else a nickname, but not me. I stay Mamoru-san, and she gives me the deep freeze.
"Then Usagi starts bubbling away to her other friend, little Ami, the shy one, about how Makoto has the most delicious onigiri she'd ever tasted. Makoto stops in the middle of the video game she's playing, to turn around, and quips how Usagi had claimed to be just a light eater, and then hardly left anything of Makoto's lunch for her to finish. Ami giggled at that, and Usagi looked embarrassed."
"That Makoto is really a video game whiz, Mamoru. I was gonna use my usual gambit, you know, lean over her shoulders and pretend to *help* her with her game while touching her. But I couldn't do that for long. She plays a game once and she's on to it. Used to be there were mostly guys playing in the Game Center, but with girl players like Makoto, I bet there'll be a lot more girls coming to the Crown."
I started to laugh. "Are you going to give me a point-by-point bulletin of everything Usagi and her friends do? Anybody would think you're interested in her, " As I mentioned that, oh-so-casually, I watched his face narrowly for a reaction.
"Not that way, she doesn't interest me," Motoki shook his head vigorously in denial. "You know what I always say, Mamoru? Whatever's good for business. And Usagi and her friends are VERY good for business--she brings them all with her, sooner or later, to the Crown Game Center. Usagi's my second best female customer."
"Second best female customer? Who's your best female customer then?" I asked, intrigued in spite of myself.
"You haven't met her, " Motoki replied. "And you're not going to, either," he said, with a wicked grin. "You don't need any additions to your female fan club, Mamoru. I'm keeping the little blonde with the legs that go on and on, all to myself, understand? Best scenery around the place, up until Makoto showed up, that is. She was the first girl who ever started coming into the Game Center regularly. All the guys used to stare at her, but she just ignored them. She even gave me a new video game, the Sailor V game, that draws the girls here to play by the dozen. Nope, she's my find. I don't even mind that she brings her little white cat with her. She's the best thing that ever happened to the Crown Game Center."
"That does it! I'm calling your girlfriend, Reika-san, right now!" I teased him. "You're seriously out of hand. I'm going to tell her to come home right away! Really, you should settle down and get married, Motoki. Maybe that would stop your roving eye, not that I think anything could, " I grinned.
Motoki winced, "What, and have to wear one of those monkey suits and a white carnation? Not on your life! I heard Usagi and Naru and the others, in the Game Center the day before, going on and on about that new bridal shop, about how they all wanted to be brides, and wear a beautiful long white dress, and ropes of pearls and diamonds--ICCCCCKK!!"
"Monkey suit? What are you calling a monkey suit?" I was irritated.
"A tuxedo. Monkey suits, my father calls them. He tells my mother she might have got him into one of those for their wedding, but never, never again! What, do you LIKE wearing tuxedos, or something?"
I started to reply, and then bit my tongue. Ahhh, the things Motoki doesn't know!
Privately, I wondered to myself if this blonde "find" of Motoki's with the white cat might have been the same long-legged girl I'd seen that morning, walking awkwardly in the new high heels, leaving behind her red hair ribbon in a puddle. If so, I had a feeling she was probably the best thing that ever happened to half the fashion boutiques in town, too. Video games were probably not the only thing she had a "yen" [$$$] for.
But I said nothing about my speculations to Motoki. It amused me to let him gloat, for the time being, that there was actually one "looker" he had seen that I hadn't. It was a little game we both played, and I didn't mind letting Motoki believe that at the moment, he was ahead of me. His lead wouldn't last for long. Except...except for Usagi. Here, her "Onii-san" Motoki had me beat, well and truly, I thought sadly.
Motoki was still expounding on his favourite subject, girls, girls, girls. "But Mamoru, I gotta admit, the girls just love to see guys in tuxedos. I hate them, they're so uncomfortable. But for Reika, maybe, I would wear one, once. And maybe, just maybe, for Makoto," Motoki stared off into space then, suddenly, uncharacteristically silent. He had become almost as wistful as I was now feeling, still thinking about the girl who only loved to see me when I was in a tuxedo...and a mask.
I don't know why I always have these kinds of dark reflections when I'm in my Tuxedo Kamen guise, skulking in the shadows, waiting for something to happen. That's when my thoughts seem to roam in ever-depressing circles about the things that have happened, and I feel as if things are hopeless. But a gust of cold wind, stronger this time, nearly whipping my top hat off, seemed to clear my head and bring me back to reality. If anyone was in danger from the roving eye of Motoki, I reminded myself, it was Makoto, not Usagi. Maybe I still had a chance, since her "Onii-san" was mainly interested in all the business she brought him.
For a moment, I then found my thoughts focussing again on the blonde girl Motoki had mentioned who was his best customer. I felt a sudden dark chill of premonition, colder than the night wind, running through my veins. I had the strangest feeling, all at once, that when I would next meet the mysterious blonde with her white cat, something very bad was going to happen, and that it was somehow connected with the Dark Kingdom.
But musing about the Dark Kingdom's plans reminded me that I had already sensed Dark Kingdom activity right here, at the bridal shop, and that I couldn't afford to be distracted from my watch, even for a moment. I looked at the mannequin in the window over the shop, her shimmering white wedding dress gleaming in the moonlight. Wait a minute...was that a trick of the light, or were the mannequin's eyes staring back at me? Why did the smile on the mannequin's face give me the chills? I shook my head, trying to clear it of those irrational thoughts. Mamoru, this is what comes of wandering around the streets at night, alone. You start hallucinating. Now stop it! Tuxedo Kamen will need a clear head, not these fantasies.
A girlish voice from below me spoke in an awed whisper. "That's the haunted bridal shop. I heard that a ghost in a wedding dress appears there each night. See that mannequin? They say she wanders around the shop at night and takes any man who is nearby. And anyone who buys a wedding dress there is cursed."
The other girl nodded, wide-eyed, and replied, "Yeah, I hear some guy in Class 1 saw the spectre bride there last night."
At the words, "Class 1", quite without thinking, my white gloved hand flew to my hidden inner breast pocket, to touch the handkerchief nestling, carefully folded there. In my mind, I saw the embroidered words in black again: "Tsukino Usagi, Grade 8, Class 1." I looked around quickly and saw two girls wearing the distinctive uniform of Usagi's school, peering at the bridal mannequin, its white gown glittering ominously in the gloom. They looked scared, but they also looked like they were enjoying being scared.
I frowned. [If Usagi were here, she'd say it was a typical Mamoru scowl, but I prefer to call it frowning.] I didn't like it. Too many of the kids were not taking the recent strange happenings in Juuban District seriously, but as some kind of cheap thrill. And that's what the Dark Kingdom's counting on, I suddenly realized. They were counting on curiosity overcoming fear and common sense, which would tell these young kids to avoid being out so late, in a place rumoured to be haunted.
Curiosity killed the cat, the old saying goes. But at the moment, I would have been grateful even to see that darn cat, Luna, as long as her odangoed mistress was along. Usagi, in her guise as Sailor Moon, had so far been a very welcome ally in my battles against the Dark Kingdom. Maybe we were after the same thing, the Illusion Silver Crystal, but still, two heads were better than one, and I'd rather have her on my side than fighting me. Maybe, we could work out what to do when we found the Crystal, once we finally found it.
Ahhh, who are you fooling, Mamoru? You tell yourself that you need Sailor Moon as an ally, so you refuse to think of her as a potential rival for the Illusion Silver Crystal. But what you're really doing, is trying to rationalize to yourself some good excuse for seeing Usagi again. That, plus I'm cold and I'm tired, and admit to yourself, Mamoru, tired of being alone, tired of fighting the Dark Kingdom alone.
In my mind's eye, I travelled back in memory to the day I saw her again for the first time, Sailor Moon in her fuku. I held her in the fog and helped her land her Sailor Kick attack. What a team we would make, I thought, wistfully. If only...if only....
Again, my reverie was disturbed by a voice from down below, this time a masculine voice, and one that I recognized as belonging to the evening supervisor at the Crown Fruit Parlour.
"You really worked hard tonight, Furu-chan--good work. Ja ne!" came his cheery voice, and then I saw a light from the back door as he let Motoki out..
"Thank you. Goodnight!" came Motoki's reply, and then I heard his footsteps heading down the alleyway next to the bridal shop. I almost called down to Motoki, but then I remembered that Motoki had no idea that his friend was the same Tuxedo Kamen who was potentially stealing some of his "harem", and stayed in my hiding place in the shadows of the rooftop. Motoki's footsteps died away in the distance.
It must have been only seconds after that, that I became aware that the temperature had dropped drastically. A chill gust of wind whipped into my face, stinging my skin. It was as if fall had turned to the depths of winter in an instant--the chill seemed to go right to the bone. I pulled my tuxedo collar up around my neck and in doing so, touched the silver medallion just under my white bow tie. I shuddered--it felt like a block of ice. If I have to stay out on another night like this, I thought, I'll have to start wearing thermal underwear under my tux! If I'd taken time to think about it, I would have found such sudden bitter cold at this time of year to be unusual, at least. But I was getting really tired, and not thinking much at all.
I looked again at the bridal shop, studied the bridal mannequin, still sitting motionless in the centre display window over the ornate, baroque style domed door, and I sighed, frustrated. You're just freezing out here for nothing, I grumbled to myself. Nothing's happening. No reason for Tuxedo Kamen to be on the prowl. So why not drop into that corner bookstore that's open 24 hours and get a hot coffee and something to read? Then you can get warm, get re-charged, and then take the book home to read till you fall asleep.
In the darkness, the mannequin's eyes sparkled, and she seemed to smile in a secretive way, now that she was no longer under observation by the man in the cape and mask. Her veil and long train lifted slightly, like feathers rising in a slight breeze. Then the spectre bride floated down from the shop window to the ground. She stopped for a moment, smiling knowingly, to smooth her veil and pat down a few stray tendrils with long tapered fingers. Then she strolled in a leisurely fashion towards the deeper shadows of the alleyway, bouquet in hand, white high heels clicking.
Motoki blinked, not believing what he was seeing. From around the corner of the alleyway, a long, slim white gloved arm slid up the stone wall, the fingers almost caressing the cold stone. A pair of high heels tapped, and there was the rustling sounds of taffeta, silk and lace, as the lady in white came into view, her eyes filled with a thousand silent enticing promises.
"It can't be! A bride?" Motoki cried.
The spectre bride's voice floated back eerily through the alleyway. "Yes, Motoki, I am your bride. Now, show me your devotion, my chosen one. Look into my eyes. All men are my slaves, slaves to my beauty, and you will be too. Yes, devote all your ENERGY...to me!!" Her evil chuckle echoed into the street.
On another nearby street, a tall girl headed towards a soft drink vending machine, her brown ponytail bobbing as she crossed the intersection with long, purposeful strides. Retrieving a can from the machine, she leaned back against the machine and stared off into the distance, to where she could just make out the bridal shop sign glowing in the darkness.
She muttered to herself. "Life is so complicated. People are so complicated. And men, they're the most complicated of all! It makes my head ache, trying to puzzle it all out. I don't understand that Rei when she says she doesn't trust men, that only a stupid man would be enticed by a bride in a shop. Even if Usagi says that shop IS cursed, I'd love to wear that wedding dress in the window. How can anybody really know if it's cursed? If only it were that easy, to know who or what to trust, who to love. Me, I think that brides are so lucky, to have found someone they can love and trust." She sighed then. "If only I could be a bride!"
She sighed again. "Geez, it's gotten late. I'd better be getting home."
At that moment, Motoki, stepped out of the alleyway, his eyes glittering strangely. "Hey, Mako-chan! I've been waiting for you."
"Me??" the girl responded, stunned.
Cupping her chin in both hands, he raised her face to his, as if about to kiss her. "Look into my eyes," he insisted. "I love you...."
It didn't take me long to for me to leap down from the rooftop, change back into my green blazer and black turtleneck, and then to stow the precious handkerchief safely into the inner pocket of the blazer. I was soon on my way to where the bright neon lights of my favourite late night corner bookstore beckoned me. My mind must have been making plans without my being aware of it, however, for I found myself staring at the shelf marked, "Parapsychology," without even knowing how I had got there. In that section, there were quite a lot of books by Aiko Gibo, the foremost psychic in Japan. The store had a big feature on her latest book at the time, "Finding your Guardian Spirit: The Secrets Of Life After Death." I picked up a few of Ms. Gibo's books to skim through, ordered myself an extra large café mocha (that combination of coffee and chocolate flavours is irresistible to me) and sat down in the café section to peruse them at my leisure. Finally, I found a book by Gibo, the great lady ghost hunter, that seemed to have the information I was looking for. I gulped down the rest of the café mocha, feeling it warm me to my toes, and then hurried to the checkout counter to pay for the book.
The book was so engrossing, I couldn't wait till I got home to read it. I decided to take advantage of the overhead lamplight to take another glance at it, as I walked down the street. But what I read in one section of Aiko Gibo's book made me stop in my tracks: she mentioned that one sure sign that a ghostly apparition was present, was a sudden drop in temperature, a feeling of a deep chill in your body. Reading this sent me rushing back in the direction of the bridal shop, hoping I was not too late.
As I got within sight of the ornate Victorian building housing the bridal shop, I heard a strangled cry of pain. There, near the back of the bridal shop, stood Motoki, his eyes strangely glazed, and with arms outstretched, both hands seeming to caress the cheeks of a tall girl with a brown ponytail, who could only be described as an Amazon. For a moment I just stood there, gaping. Then I realized that Motoki was drawing energy from the girl, and that despite the girl's obvious strength and resistance, she was weakening. If the Dark Kingdom had managed to claim her AND my friend Motoki, this spectre bride must be a powerful daimon.
I needed help, and I knew it. I had no choice now. I had to find her, find Sailor Moon and bring her here. I hope she's home by now, because if she is, thanks to my discovery of her identity at the Masquerade Ball, I know where she lives. But I mustn't let her hear my voice. If she knows that Tuxedo Kamen is Mamoru, she may not want to come with me. So I must stay silent.
Please go to Part 4: Tuxedo Moon.
NOTE: As you may know, Wednesday, August 3, 2000, is Chiba Mamoru's birthday. It is my tradition to release a new fanfic every year as his birthday present since I posted the first chapters of "The Rose Garden" on August 2, 1997. In 1998, Mamoru's birthday fanfic was "Seiko" and in late July 1999, I posted the first two parts of Chapter 10. This is the third part of that chapter.
PERSONAL NOTE: If you're wondering why this is posted under Pandora Diane MacMillan, and not Waldron, the answer is simple. I am separated and have returned to my maiden name, MacMillan. As of Friday, July 28, 2000, all my legal I.D. has been changed to MacMillan. I suppose this will confuse all those poor brainless search engines, but I am still Pandora, so I trust they will cope in their computer way.
If you enjoyed this fan fiction or any other fanfic I've written, there's just one thing I want from you, and it's not your money ;-) I want your e-mail--pretty please Pink Sugar Heart Attack! So please take a minute or two and click on this e-mail reply:
Remember, e-mail from our fans is the only *pay* we fanfic authors receive for our hours of effort. I'd appreciate it very much if you mentioned what country and city you live in when you write me, because I find it fascinating to see how there are Sailor Moon fans all over the world. Sometimes I can tell what country you're from by your e-mail address, but not if you use a .com, a .net or an aol or hotmail addy!
Many people are under the false impression that the only big fans of the series are in places like Toronto, Canada, where I live, or the big cities in the United States. The people at DiC and Cloverway who have dubbed Sailor Moon into English also seem to think most people watching are girls under 10 years old. Let's show them how very wrong they are! So please drop me an electronic line, tell me a little about yourself, and your interests in Sailor Moon, and whether you watch other anime. All of you are roses in MY garden, and I like to *see* your colours.
@))~~~))~~~~ I love the stories my fans e-mail me!
@))~~~))~~~~ Please keep those stories coming!
Sailor Moon, the manga and TV series are copyright of Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha, TOEI Animation and its English language TV adaptation is copyright of DiC Entertainment. However, the title,"The Rose Garden" in relation to Sailor Moon, and the fan fiction of this title, is legally copyright of Pandora Diane MacMillan. If you wish to quote from it, use the title for a Sailor Moon-related web page, post the fanfic on your web site, or otherwise publish it, please first ask permission of the author, by e-mailing email@example.com. If you copy the fanfic onto a website without the author's permission, that constitutes copyright infringement. While this fan fiction is freely published on the Internet, and I receive no profits from it, nevertheless, it remains legally, the intellectual property of its author, and I retain the rights to where it may be published.
A couple of people have used the title of my fanfic as a title for their Mamoru web pages, without either asking me first, or crediting me for that title. If you just want to use the title "The Rose Garden" on a site devoted to Tuxedo Kamen/Tuxedo Mask, the proper and polite thing to do is to give me credit as the author of that title, and provide a link to the fan fiction of that title, or to my e-mail address. If you don't, you are not only being unfair to me, but you are also doing a disservice to my fans, who come looking for my fan fiction with a search engine, and come away disappointed when they see the title on your site, and think it's my fanfic there.
Don't get me wrong, minna-san--I am pleased that you enjoy my work enough to want to include on your web site or use it in some manner, but my work is my reputation, so where and how it appears is important to that reputation. I'm easy to find, really--just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on ICQ Chat: UIN 3471229. If you want to be added to my Contact List on ICQ, please state in your Authorization Message that you read the fanfic, "The Rose Garden." I really love hearing from my readers, so don't be shy.
Pandora-sama--------------------------July 30, 2000
A Virtual Goddess, Setsuna of the Sailor Moon Net World, ageless and gorgeous, transported to this time line, hence the -sama. Please bow very low as you leave.