~~~~((~~((@ Fiore: The Turning Point @))~~))~~~~
From the memoirs of 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.
Part 2: A Sticky Situation
Kawara no Sadaijin
Tare yue ni
Midare some ni shi
Ware naranaku ni
Minamoto no Toru
Like Michinoku prints
Of the tangled leaves of ferns,
It is because of you
That I have become confused;
But my love for you remains.
The next morning, there was a certain sense of distance between myself and Usako which had not been there before. I just didn't know what to say, or what to do about it. I knew she was hurt by what happened the day before, and that she did not what to make of Fiore--or my reaction to him.
I was actually afraid to touch her, to comfort her a way she would understand, without words. Because I could sense Fiore somewhere nearby, seething with unreasoning jealousy. I did not want her anywhere near Fiore, where he could harm her. I told myself that there would be a better time to explain all this to Usako...much later, when the danger to her had passed. I needed to talk to Fiore alone, to try to deal with this situation myself. And it had begun to dawn on me that the presence of something malevolent was influencing Fiore. He was NOT as I remembered him. This Kisenian flower, whispering messages of hate to him--horrible.
That malevolent flower had already sent her foot-soldiers, pink, sweet-smelling blooms, but which, close up, were evil plants with spider legs, sucking energy from people, and making them mindless zombies. While I lay on my bed that morning in my room, wracking my brain to find the right words to say, not just to Fiore, but to Usako as well, the five Senshi had already tussled with the sprouting seeds of the Kisenian. So now they knew her vicious plan...like a parasite, she and her seeds would grow and invade every living thing on Earth, and destroy it. Distrust and hatred were as bread and butter to her and her kind...she sought them out, and feasted on these weaknesses.
The Sailor Senshi managed to destroy the Kisenian's seedlings. But now Fiore was here, and he was as angry as if it were his own children that had been mindlessly destroyed. "I didn't know people like you existed on this planet," he said, shaking his head. "But it doesn't matter. Even now, my meteor is coming closer to the Earth, with thousands of seedlings...you cannot destroy them all. And this world will be a beautiful place of flowers, and we will be rid of you all."
"I won't let you do this!" Sailor Mars yelled. Fiore slammed her against the wall as if she were a rag doll. The other Senshi challenged him, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter...and each of them he viciously smashed into brickwork, windows. They lay limp, unmoving.
I arrived on the scene not a moment too soon. I felt my blood run cold as I heard the venom in his voice as he turned on Usako...my God, how he hates her. "You...you who have had such a dangerous influence on Mamoru-kun...I will deal with you more harshly. You will die, but you will suffer first..you will die slowly and in pain. Treacherous female...die now!"
From my observation post, high on a billboard, I sent a steel-tipped rose whistling past him, and it buried itself in the pavement between Fiore and Usako. Not realizing my rose was meant as a warning, Fiore looked up at me with surprised recognition, and with a strange childlike pleasure to see me. "Mamoru-kun, you remembered! I knew you wouldn't forget our friendship!"
He is a child, I thought. He looks like a grown man, but there's only a child there inside. A small child, who would unthinkingly push another child over in the sandbox to re-claim a favourite toy. If he is a child, then I must try to talk to him as I would a child. Perhaps I can still reach him.
"Fiore, why are you doing this? I tell you, you must believe in Usagi, and these people with her. Usagi and her friends, they are good, caring people. Please understand this," I smiled at him, the same smile one lonely boy had once given another, when I told him I would find him a warm place to sleep, and food to eat, that he could trust me. I who had no one to look after, to care for.
Taking care of Fiore for those few short weeks, was the first time, since I woke up in the hospital, that I had felt good about myself. It was the first time I had felt wanted, useful. Not the problem boy everyone seemed to wish would just go away, that everyone wished had conveniently died in the accident which claimed his parents.
I know some of them wished I were dead. Sometimes, at times then, I had wished I were dead. No wonder Fiore had felt some of my despair...no wonder he had become a man-child who trusted no one...except, he still trusted me...or did he?
Surely Fiore would remember he could still trust me. Surely he would find a way to understand that I was no longer alone, that I was among people who cared about me, about each other. Surely Fiore would realize, he could still trust in me to tell him the truth.
And he did, just for a moment. I saw Fiore's shoulders slacken, his tight face muscles relax into a smile...something, I noticed sadly, which was not an expression usual with him. He must have been alone for a very long time after he left the Earth. His breath went out in a long sigh, "All right," he said softly, in acceptance. Yes...that was the young, trusting Fiore I knew once...it was there in his eyes.
And then the Kisenian flower's eyes flashed red with rage. I saw a shudder go through Fiore's body, like a electric charge, a jolt that stiffened him again. I saw his fists clench and unclench and then he looked through me as if I had suddenly become, not his trusted friend, but someone pathetically naive. Fiore looked at me pityingly, with the eyes of a cynic.
"You are so blind, so foolish, Mamoru-kun! This woman is fooling you! Why do you stay with her? She is deceiving you! She will just leave you in time. I am your only friend, the only one you can trust...you told me so once...remember?"
I winced at the memory. Those were the words of a young Chiba Mamoru who nobody wanted. They had nothing to do with the man I have become, with who I am now. Yes, I still remember, with compassion, what it was like to believe in no one, in nothing. And so I cherish it all the more that I know I can believe in my Usako with all my heart, with all my soul. When she holds out her arms to me, I can feel all the bitterness of those empty years just melting away, and I feel like I want to bury myself in her arms, just hold on and never let go. But how can I make Fiore understand even a glimmering of what I feel now...he who does not even begin to know what love is?
He is screaming at me, his voice filled with mindless rage, focused only on getting vengeance for the empty vacuum of hate inside him.
"I will get rid of this evil Sailor Moon for you..stand aside!" Fiore shrieks. I hold up my cane as a barrier.
I have to get Usako out of here, fast...he's out of control. God, why won't she move? Please, please, Usako don't worry about me...just get out of here! My Usako, so sweet and trusting, not sensing the danger to her that tingles through every fibre of my being. As she stays there, looking at me, refusing to leave me, I see all the more sharply the contrast between her and my childhood friend. How precious her love is to me. I will not lose her. I will not lose her.
But I still try to reason with him, even while physically holding him back, as he struggles to get past my cane. Don't make me choose between you, Fiore. Don't make me choose between you, my childhood friend, and my Usako, who means more to me than anyone else in the world. Please, try to understand.
But he will not listen. He yells at me that I am fooled by her. Tsukino Usagi, deceitful? She who could never hide her true feelings from me?
With a howl of rage, Fiore slashes with razor edged fingers towards Usako. He's only seconds away. Praying I'm in time, I leap into the air, hoping to land between the vicious knives which are Fiore's hands, and Usako. Oh God, can I get there in time to stop.... and then the pain hits, and I can't feel my legs any more. Inside, my heart pounds and with each beat, one thought keeps repeating itself...she's all right, she's all right, he didn't harm her. I don't mind the pain, just so he doesn't try to harm her any more.
As I feel myself start to fall, Fiore cries out, still not understanding, "Mamoru-kun? You cared about her THAT much?"
I hear Usako cry out in horror as my knees buckle under me. Then I feel her sweet arms holding my neck, my head pillowed against her shoulder. And all I can think, as my vision slowly fades into blackness, is how much I wish I were back in that greenhouse, with her little face turned up to mine so trustingly, wanting a kiss. And fool that I was, I didn't want to be embarrassed in front of her friends. As if it mattered.
PLEASE GO TO Part 3: Kiss Of The Kisenian