~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~

A fanfic by Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to
Pandora Diane Waldron


Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.

CHAPTER 9: My Odango Atama

Part 2: Into The Fog

The second encounter I had with Sailor Moon was also my first with the brilliant and very supportive Sailor Mercury a.k.a. Mizuno Ami. Ami, I would like to say, is more fun than people would ever expect who just see her as, I quote, "The 300 point I.Q. Girl Genius." She is much more than that, just as my Usako is a lot more than just a girl who would a thousand times rather be playing video games or eating out than studying. If you could only know them as I do. Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, I might not have ever met Sailor Mercury, except that I started feeling bad vibes about this "Crystal Academy" place that I'd recently heard about. The Crystal Academy was a suddenly trendy cram school, where all the top students in the neighbourhood were going for after-school studying.

That name, "Crystal" did make me wonder...might it lead me to the Illusion Silver Crystal? So Tuxedo Kamen decided to make the scene, and I arrived just as Sailor Mercury had her first transformation, right as Sailor Moon and I were watching [that is, if we could have seen what was happening to Ami through the fog, we would have seen her transformation. But I'm getting ahead of myself.]

Poor Ami was in the grip of a computer teacher who had suddenly sprouted long, vicious razor-sharp nails, and yes, this teacher was starting to look like many of the Dark Kingdom youmas that Sailor Moon and I have since come to know, and love. Uhhhh... love, like a toothache, that is.

I thought I heard a voice yell at Ami to use her transformation pen [dunno who could have been talking to her..nothing in the room but that little black cat?], and instantly, the room was filled with icy fog...Sailor Mercury, in full battle mode. However, it wasn't just the youma who was blinded. Sailor Moon

Fortunately, I didn't need to understand the nature of my own powers to be able to use them in a crisis So I grabbed Sailor Moon from behind, and, with a steady grip under her arms, gave her the balance to aim a crescent-kick dead centre of that witch's face, though Sailor Moon couldn't see just where she was kicking in the fog. It's interesting to recall now that without being able to see, and hardly knowing me, still, she trusted me enough just to follow my instructions and kick out blindly. Just as I knew instinctively what to say, how to move--holding her came completely naturally to me, without thinking. We moved as one, like a pair of dancers, long accustomed to each others' moves.

In retrospect, if I had thought about it at all at the time, it should have occurred to that things like this shouldn't have come so easily for Sailor Moon and for me, after only one meeting....It was as if we had, in reality, known each other for a very, very long time, to have that level of trust, for the two of us to be able to function like a team so quickly. But I *wasn't* thinking. I wasn't thinking at all. The inner voice took over and choreographed my moves, with a precision I never would have known how to achieve, back then.

Once the youma was stunned by that marvellous kick she let fly, I set Sailor Moon down and told her it was time for her to do her stuff, a performance I'd taken pleasure in once before--her tiara throw. I hung around just long enough to have the satisfaction of seeing that tiara hit the mark perfectly, then made my exit quietly.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...let me go back to earlier that same day, when things, although I didn't know it then, were really starting to happen in my life....



I don't think I will ever forget the day a small, crumpled wad of paper socked me right between the eyes--lucky I was wearing shades! I unfolded the paper, and it read: Grade 8, Class 1, Tsukino Usagi, Mark: 30. Thirty per cent! I was scandalized, that anyone could get such a low mark. And also, when I saw this little blonde girl flouncing by, long blonde pony tails sailing out behind her like streamers, and her hair caught up into two little balls, shaped like dumplings, I was--annoyed. [OK, I was furious, I admit it.] She wasn't even looking at me. And by this time, well, I admit it, I wasn't used to being completely ignored by the female sector.


[Usako has just come into the room at this point, and, overhearing me re-telling the tale of how we first met, she says, "Yes, Mamo-chan, you were spoiled, totally spoiled! Spoiled, and insufferably arrogant!"

"Spoiled, huh? Spoiled, and insufferably arrogant, am I? I'll show YOU who's spoiled, Ms. Junk Food Poster Girl! I'll attend to you....later."

But Usa's not impressed with my threats, breaking into delighted giggles. "Is that a promise, Mamo-chan? Good, I'll be waiting!" Then she squeezes my shoulder, gives me a wicked grin, and runs out of the room, still giggling. You know, for a girl who was at one point, very unsure of herself, these days, she can be a terrible tease. Not that I'm complaining...]


Oh, what was I saying? Usako can be SO distracting. Oh, yes. She lobbed that test paper behind her, not even looking, and after I recovered from that, I yelled at her, "Hey, Odango Atama [Dumpling Head]! Are you really that stupid? Or are you just plain lazy?"

I don't know what I expected. When I make a teasing remark to most girls, usually, they just laugh, and respond in kind. But this Tsukino Usagi was different. Quite the proud little princess, this one.

She turned on me ferociously, and told me, "Don't you dare call me Dumpling Head! That's my hair style! And my test paper is none of your business!" To my surprise, she was almost in tears.

And now I felt really bad for making fun of her. But the damage was done. She snatched the paper from me, and flounced off. Run, rabbit, run. Never saw a girl take off so fast. And I was kind of irritated to find I was still watching her hair--those odangos, bounce, as she went away--why? Oh, never mind. Not going to let some silly girl wreck my day.


And that was our first meeting. Hardly sounds like the beginning of a great romance, does it? Yet it was. And if I'd been paying any attention to my own reaction, I would have realized that I was way too interested in having her turn around and look at me. I would have said just about anything to make her turn around. And given what a depressed mood she must have been in at the time, maybe if I'd said something polite or nice, she would have probably have run off in embarrassment, instead of staying, and getting angry at me. And I sensed even then, I'd enjoyed that encounter--I'd actually enjoyed watching her get angry at me.


About the same time, as I mentioned before, someone else invaded my life. The one called Sailor Moon. At the time, I had no idea that Odango Atama and Sailor Moon were one and the same person. I did react to Sailor Moon differently than Odango, right from the beginning. Maybe that's why. But considering how differently SHE reacted to Tuxedo Kamen, and how she insulted ME all the time, I don't know that I have anything to feel embarrassed about here. But I do, anyway.

Now, I have a confession to make. I love to watch Sailor Moon in action. I always have, from that very first time she sent her tiara spinning into the air, in a perfect arc, and then caught it, with such natural grace. That day, she just took my breath away. And she still takes my breath away. I never get bored, watching her, to this day. I feel so proud sometimes, knowing she's my Usako, I could just about bust. Yes. About Sailor Moon, I'm a total, total marshmallow, in awe of her sometimes. I guess that will never change.

Yes, sometimes she's scared, sometimes she cries. She was like that a lot, at the beginning. But let's just say, I know exactly what it's like to be very alone, and afraid. And not be able to stop your tears. There was nobody to tell me to believe in myself, there in the hospital, and in the orphanage. Nobody to hold me and tell me things would work out O.K. But I remember the feeling, all too well. From the beginning, I felt her loneliness reach out to me...I who knew all about loneliness. The first time I met her, without knowing it, it seemed I had made a promise to myself about her: She will not be alone, never again, if I, Tuxedo Kamen, have anything to say about it; I will be there for her. Until she finds her own way.

But also, once I was sure she was all right, I left her to deal with things. I knew that Sailor Moon mustn't get too dependent on me or anyone else. To rise to her full powers and confidence, she had to know beyond doubt, that she could manage on her own very well. She needed to learn to trust in herself. So I gave her space to do that, though sometimes, in our early encounters, I would have liked to have stayed around, maybe got to know and her friends, the other Senshi, a little better.

But somehow, I sensed there would be plenty of time later to do that. There was a flicker of premonition in me, that the relationship between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen, and her other friends, was just beginning; that I could watch it patiently, and very slowly grow, like one of my prized bonsai.


But, getting back to Odango Atama...In the following weeks, it seemed that girl with the odangos was ubiquitous, following me everywhere. In the streets. On the bus. At the Crown Game Centre. Was it me who couldn't forget her, or was it she who was somehow insisting I notice her? It seemed at the time that she was fluttering, teasingly, like a mysterious butterfly in the edge of my vision, and I was unwilling at first to bring her into full view.

Now I know better, of course. She was the one girl I knew who wasn't falling all over herself to impress me, and that piqued me. I was badly in need of ego-puncturing, and Usagi gave it to me. Swat! Right between the eyes! With yet another crumpled-up paper, this time an ad for a computer cram school, the Crystal Academy. [Now this time, I do understand why she threw out that flyer. The day that Usako deliberately gives up her free time for studying at some cram school, for computers or anything else, there will be two moons in the sky, for sure. Ami-chan, she is not, and will never be.]

I yelled at her, "Hey, Odango! I'm not a garbage can!" She at least had the grace to look embarrassed.

"Oh, it's you again!" She greeted me like I was a bad penny turning up. Arigatou, Odango. You know just how to make me feel this small. And I'm not gonna let you get away with it. I'll take every opportunity to take you down a peg too, annoying girl.


PLEASE GO To Part 3: All Aboard For The Dark Kingdom

*Final note:* The title "The Rose Garden" in relation to Sailor Moon, and the fan fiction of this title, is legally copyright of Pandora Diane Waldron. If you wish to quote from it on a web site, or otherwise publish it, please ask permission of the author, by e-mailing pwaldron@idirect.com. If you use it on a web site without the author's permission, that constitutes copywrite infringement. I have never said no to anyone yet, OK? And yes, please e-mail me anyway with your comments.

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