Seiko. I call her "Seiko." (Pronounced "SAY-KO"). That's not her real name, of course. Her real name is Saori, and she's a girl I went to high school with, and then we attended the same local college. A very serious girl, in fact. So if she ever found out that this is my secret nickname for her, I think our friendship, and all the favours she's done for me over the years, would be at an end. So this is just between you and me and the wall, you got me?
I bet you wonder why the well-known-to-be serious and conscientious Chiba Mamoru has such a nickname for one of his friends. To tell you the reason for that, you have to know what Saori-san is like. Seiko, in case you don't already know this, is the name of a well-known Japanese company which makes wrist watches. Seiko watches don't tend to need repairs very often; they run reliably and well. [No, the company is NOT paying me to say this. But I've had my own Seiko wrist watch for years and years now, and it only needs its battery replaced now and then. How many years? You don't wanna know. Remember I am King Endymion now, and how long our lifespan is in Crystal Tokyo. No, you don't wanna know.] There are other meanings for the word "Seiko" which I leave the intrepid reader to discover, and I say no more.
As I was saying, Saori, or "Seiko," is a girl who is as reliable, hard-working, and steadfast as a Seiko watch-she practically defines the term "Success." Uhhhhh...she's kinda scary. I remember well the day we first met. I was just 16, new at Moto Azabu High School, didn't know my way around, and very nervous, though I tried not to show it. [I *thought* I wasn't showing it, anyway.] I had found several of the library books I needed for my courses, but the last one eluded me. I was going up and down the aisles, searching, searching, for ages.
And all the time I was doing this, the quiet girl with the long straight brown hair at the check out desk watched me. And watched me. Oh God, how I hate being stared at. And still, she watched me. Finally, I decided to forget the steady, serious blue regard of those eyes and just concentrated on my search for the elusive book. [All right, I heard that sarcastic remark someone just made. Not any better at finding books than he is at finding the Silver Crystal, you said, didn't you? Very funny.]
Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me. "5:55 P.M., Chiba-san. The library closes in five minutes exactly." The tone was as frosty as the top of Mount Fuji. It was her. Seiko.
I whirled on her indignantly. "How do you know my name? And it's not 6:00 P.M. yet. So why are you on my case?"
"As for your name, Chiba-san, you left your library card on the floor half an hour ago. You never noticed, did you? I picked it up and I have it here on the desk for you. I have other appointments today, Chiba-san, and I will NOT stay here past six. But if you wish, I have the library search computer on-line and I will find the book you are looking for. Leave me a note, and be here after the library opens at 9 tomorrow. It will be ready for you by 9:30 A.M. precisely. Be there."
I was dumbfounded by her cool manner and efficiency. She seemed to have taken charge while I was floundering, and I never noticed. "Domo arigatou, Miss?" I began, hesitantly.
"Saori." She said with a quick smile.
Then as I walked away, I heard her say, a little mockingly, "Men! You never want to ask for help, do you? You would rather stay lost!" I turned again to look at her, and had the alarming sense I was being analysed and catalogued, in that efficient brain. I felt myself turn bright red to the roots. I gulped under the steady gaze of the intelligent blue eyes, but somehow pulled myself together.
"Saori-san, I will never make that mistake again. I am in your debt. And I hope I can return the favour in the near future. But please call me Mamoru."
"Oh, you will return the favour, Mamoru-san. See you tomorrow at 9:30 A.M." And then she had that little smile on her face. Little pearls on her neck, little pearl teeth, I noticed then-too, too perfect to be real, that girl was. Yet under that, the smile was real, and warm.
That was the beginning of a very good friendship. Saori found all the books I needed for my courses very quickly and efficiently. She was my study partner all through high school. In fact, she would sometimes drop them by for me at the Crown Game Center, when I was briefly working there part-time with Motoki. Motoki thought Saori was a looker. I suppose she is; I've never thought about it much. To me, she will always be Seiko-polished and efficient as a Seiko quartz watch, always cool as ice, serious and hard-working.
Although I am one of the top students in my college, here, as at Moto Azabu High School, Seiko outshines me. The guys at the college say some day she will be head of our county police department. I say, one day, Seiko will be police chief-and God help the officers who are late turning up for their shifts!! And God help those crooks! One withering look from those steel-blue eyes of hers and they will be dead meat. After all the years I've known her, she still makes ME nervous. But she has been a very good friend to me, reliable as my Seiko wrist watch.
And if you're wondering, I had no idea at the time, honestly, that the kids at college were pairing us off and saying Seiko and I were "the perfect couple." Just cause we hang around together a lot doesn't mean I ever considered her THAT way. I hang around with my Seiko wrist watch all day too and it never leaves my side except when I shower. But nobody thinks I am gonna date my wrist watch, do they?
You might wonder why I am telling you about my friend Seiko right now. To answer that, I will take you back in time, to summer vacation time, after my first year at college. Come hop in Sailor Pluto's Time Portal with me; it's nice to have some company for a change!
As this story begins, I'd just received a letter from a mutual acquaintance of ours at college, Kobayashi. This letter, I admit, rocked me to my foundations. It let me know not only some things I didn't know about Kobayashi, but also about Seiko, and Chibi Usa, too. I am going to have a word with that young lady. If she thinks she is going to plan my social life for me, she has another think coming!!
The letter was very whiny in tone. It accused me, in essence, of ruining Kobayashi's chances with Saori-san [he still doesn't call her Saori-chan-he is in love with her, it seems, but still afraid of her-aren't we all?]. I was stunned-absolutely stunned. Seiko, attracted to ME? She, who always tells me all my faults and that timeliness and efficiency is everything? And here I thought she kind of felt sorry for me. Damn. I will never, never understand GIRLS. It also said that "my little girlfriend" [my little WHAT? Oh, he means Chibi Usa.!] had tried to help Kobayashi get in good with Saori, which touched him, but that, really, isn't she a little too young for me?
I am really not sure how to reply to this screwy letter. What do I say, gang? Do I say, no, she's not my girlfriend, she is my future daughter? As if Kobayashi, or anyone else, for that matter, is going to believe such a nutty story!! Do I say no, that I never ever thought of Saori as a girlfriend, and that I can't imagine anyone else being that gone on her? That is going to insult Kobayashi. No, I definitely have a problem here. Damn!! How do I always get myself into these situations?
Well, maybe if I tell you what Kobayashi was ranting and raving about, a solution will come to me. The great Tuxedo Kamen can think himself out of anything, just about <grin>.
But you are going to have one advantage I didn't have, that warm summer morning when Kobayashi's excitable badly-penned letter arrived on his "sempai's" doorstep. You will not only know what I knew at the time, but as well, you will know the things I only found out later, courtesy of a trip back in time through Sailor Pluto's Time Portal. Now that I can be an <ahem> caped phantom, a fly on the wall, silently watching my daughter, and my future wife in the 20th Century, I find that I can understand them both a lot better. This King needs all the help he can get to handle his two feisty Moon Princesses, Usa Major and Usa Minor. So, through the wonders of the Time Portal, I will let you eavesdrop on Kobayashi, Saori, Chibi Usa and yes, my Usako, Sailor Moon, and you will watch things happen for yourself. And I will, of course, offer my usual brilliant comments on the action. Hey, stop snickering! You are ruining Tuxedo Kamen-sama's reputation.
Kobayashi and Saori were walking down a residential street in my neighbourhood. Kobayashi looked nervous and on his best behaviour, and kept glancing at his companion, Saori. Saori, "Seiko", the Ice Queen, was strolling along at his side, utterly serene. Seiko looked cool, elegant and unruffled as always, pearls on her neck, warm brown hair combed to a scintillating shine, nails and shoes buffed-she always looks [forgive me] "like she just stepped out of a salon."
Yet, whenever I look at Seiko, in my mind, I can't help but see another face, small, round, rosy-cheeked, two blonde odangos sailing in the wind, school tie askew, white socks falling down, shoes scuffed, running because she's late as usual, and about to barrel into me and give me a bear hug. How different from Saori is Usako! And how odd that Usako's real name is Serenity, for she is so seldom serene-she is always moving, excitable, anxious. And always fascinating. But I digress. Let's listen in on Kobayashi and Saori.
Kobayashi could see that Saori was preoccupied, and was trying hard to make small talk, anything to get her attention. "So, Saori-san, is this your first visit to Mamoru's place? "
"Yes," replied Saori.
"Heh-heh-heh! I bet his apartment is really messy. What do you think?" Kobayashi was laughing, but his eyes watched her closely.
The steel blue eyes swivelled, and peered at Kobaysahi shrewdly. "What makes you think that?"
Kobayashi grinned, rubbed his head a little in embarrassment, and then proceeded to make a utter fool of himself [in my opinion, anyway], "Hey, macho guys always have messy rooms! After all, it's a woman's job to keep the place tidy, isn't it?"
At this, Saori turned into icy, Seiko mode, smiling-a gentle, and dangerous smile, "I guess that means your room is very messy, doesn't it, Kobayashi? So you think keeping things clean and organized is a woman's job, do you? Well, when I am a police officer someday, you will see how well I clean up this town-and not with a broom, either!"
Kobayashi turned bright red, and started stammering, "Saori-san! I didn't mean-I didn't mean-!!"
She gave him the "Seiko" look, and the words died on his lips, unsaid.
"Yes, you did." she said, ever so quietly.
Kobayashi hung his head for a few moments, then desperately tried another conversational gambit, "Do you really think Mamoru has invited his *girlfriend* too?" There was a special emphasis on the word "girlfriend," as if this was the one word he was savouring as he said it. Poor Kobayashi. Poor, poor Kobayashi. About as subtle as a sledgehammer, he is. Saori looked at him out of the corner of her eye, and he fell silent.
It was at that point they reached my apartment, and I, the unsuspecting host to this soap opera, let them both in.
My doorbell rang, once, and looking at my [Seiko] watch, I smothered a grin. Right on the dot as usual. Could only be "Seiko." And Usako? Well, of course, she was late as usual. As I showed my two guests to the couch, they made, what I thought at the time, was the strangest remarks!
"Seiko" gave my room the once-over, the all-encompassing appraisal only she can give [a future cop's eye-she misses NOTHING]. "Why, it's really clean and neat, isn't it?" She sounded a little surprised. But she's not the first one to comment on my apartment-I'm kind of resigned to all the little remarks I get.
"Yes," says Kobayashi, "I'm disappointed." My eyebrows must have gone up two feet at this remark. But I don't know why I'm surprised at any strange thing that happens to me anymore.
[If only they knew how much a cluttered room drives me absolutely right around the bend, they would understand. Yes, you're right. If I have to go into one of Usako's many personal rooms in the Crystal Palace, piled high with plush toys, pot pourri, perfumes, mangas, enough junk food to fill a candy store, not to mention shoes and jewellery scattered everywhere, I have to try hard to avert my eyes from everything but Usako herself, or I would get a sudden, desperate urge to start cleaning stuff up. Fortunately, I enjoy looking at Usako anyway, so it's not as difficult to resist my tidiness urges as it would be otherwise.]
"What on earth are you talking about?" I peered at Kobayashi. And he, naturally, reddened and muttered, "Oh, nothing, nothing."
I sighed. There is just no use in talking to Kobayashi, the clown. One day he will clown himself right into failing his college courses, that is, if I, his "sempai", his faithful tutor, get tired of his clowning and decide not to help him anymore. I decided to ignore him and speak to someone whose behaviour, if nothing else, always makes sense to me-Seiko. "Stop clowning around, Kobayashi. So, Saori-san, did you finish your report on time?" [As if I didn't know the answer to that question!]
And "Seiko" smiled and replied, "Why, yes, I already handed it in, two weeks early!" She just beamed-while Kobayashi and I exchanged secret looks-how on earth does she do it? And then we quickly composed our faces to seriousness.
"I knew you would!" is all I said to her.
Kobayashi now gave my room a second, much more scrutinizing once-over. All of a sudden, he looked increasingly uneasy, and I asked, "Kobayashi, what is it?"
That's when he burst out, all at once, "Mamoru, don't you have any pictures here?"
"What on earth does he mean?" I wondered to myself. There's my beloved print of the solar system hanging big as life on the wall. Why, of course, I have pictures!
"Pictures? Of what?" I asked him.
And Kobayashi exploded, as if I were some kind of baka [idiot], "Why, of your girlfriend, of course!! Don't you have any pictures of her?"
I smiled a little at that. I do have her pictures, as a matter of fact, in my bedroom, and some paintings of her too, by Yumeno Yumeni, in my closet. But the photographs, and most especially, the paintings, are for my eyes only. I don't put Usako on display in my living room for the likes of Kobayashi to gawk at. But all I said was, "No, I don't have her pictures here."
Kobayashi then dropped all pretense of clowning and became belligerent-and I was mystified. "Well, why don't you have any pictures of her?" he demanded.
[I didn't know that all this performance of Kobayashi's was designed to impress on Saori that I already had a girlfriend and that therefore, she had no hope of interesting me. And if I had known that, I can assure you, the unimaginable thought of the oh-so-serious "Seiko" coming on to me would have knocked me for a loop.]
I directed a look at the excitable Kobayashi, the same look I customarily give him when one of his math equations makes absolutely no sense at all. Mind you, none of his equations ever do. Logic is not Kobayashi's strong point. And nor has he any finesse or ability to get what he wants politely, or subtly. You would think he would treat me, his "sempai" with a little more respect, given the many times I have saved his bacon when he was about to fail in his math courses. And you would think, if his object was to get Saori interested in him, that the last thing he would do would be to say things which embarrass her. But as I have said, logic and sense are not Kobayashi's strong points.
Well, time to slap him down-hard. "I don't know what you're getting upset about, Kobayashi," I remarked, coolly. "If I don't have any pictures of her, that's no concern of yours, is it?"
"It IS my business!" Kobayashi was practically shouting now. "Are you SURE your girlfriend is coming today?"
Now I was secretly grinning to myself. My Usako, stand me up? Particularly when I had told her in advance that I would be baking some of her favourite pastries for this occasion? When the moon is blue, maybe! No, my Moon Princess would be there-with her appetite.
"Oh yes, any minute now," I replied, cheerfully and confidently.
And right on cue, the doorbell began ringing-and ringing-and ringing. I scrambled to get there before the bell was broken. Just outside the door, I could hear the familiar sounds of squabbling. Oh-oh. Usako must have let it slip that pastries are being served, and now Chibi Usa is here too. Sigh. Well, so much for impressing my friends at college. Mayhem is about to ensue-I know those two all too well; Usako and Chibi Usa mix like oil and water-- not at all.
I raised my voice to cover the sounds of squabbling and injected a note of false brightness into my voice, "Here she is! Please excuse me for a moment."
The second I left the room, Saori turned on Kobayashi and hissed at him, "Would you please stop embarrassing me by keep saying 'girlfriend' to Mamoru so bluntly?"
"Come on! I did that for YOUR sake." Kobayashi had a tone of smugness in his tone that in my experience, would have annoyed any female older than, say, five years old. I couldn't even pull that tone of voice on Chibi Usa once she could talk, and get away with it. That much about girls, I HAVE learned.
"For MY sake!" cried Saori, indignantly.
Kobayashi smirked knowingly, and said, in a sing-song voice, "Saori-san, you wear a different lipstick colour on the days you see Mamoru, don't you?"
And Saori turned redder than a traffic light.
Kobayashi, seeing Saori's obvious discomfort, gloated, and cried, "Aha! I'm right!"
[Someday, Kobayashi will write a book on how NOT to use your charm and influence to get girls-he instinctively knows all the wrong things to do.]
Controlling herself with an effort, Saori said coldly, "What a nasty, mean-spirited thing to say!"
Kobayashi, realizing too late that he had fixed his image in Saori's mind as someone spiteful, cried, "No way!" But it was obviously too late to mend the damage.
At that moment, a very noisy distraction appeared in the room, Usas Major and Minor, clinging like limpets to my arms. You know, it's a wonder any of my sweaters still fit me, the way those two pull on my sleeves. What a guy will endure for love...and to keep his small future daughter happy.
But really, girls, I have guests here. So I had to assert myself. "Hey girls, get your hands off!"
And Usako yelled, "No, I won't!" [Oh God...here we go again. Patience, Mamoru, patience.]
Chibi Usa chimed in, "No! Hey, Usagi, you keep your hands off!" From my vantage point, I could look down on a little pink head of hair, bristling with bravado, all out of proportion to her size.
"Why did you say that?" Usako was glaring, her eyes like sky-blue fire.
"Because Mamoru is MINE!!" Chibi Usa squeaked.
Usako's voice now took on a dangerous tone. "Mine?? What do you mean, 'Mine'!"
I shook them off with an effort, and sat down on the couch. And Chibi Usa promptly plunked herself in my lap possessively. [There are times when I think, that's so cute. This wasn't one of them.]
And then Usako, much to my embarrassment, screeched, "Oh, no, no! That's MY place! Go away!" [Great, Usako. That's right-tell the world that you usually sit in my lap when you come over. The college gossips will REALLY enjoy that, I'm sure-Kobayashi's ears are pricking up already.]
Chibi Usa yelled back, "No, I won't!" [Sigh. And to think I used to think my apartment was too quiet, before my life was invaded by the Moon princesses.]
Usako retorted, "If you don't get out of his lap, I won't bring you here any more!" [Out of the corner of my, admittedly trained, eye, I could see the beginnings of a crescent moon glowing on her forehead, Usako was so ticked. Hope my guests don't see THAT!]
Chibi Usa taunted her, "I come here by myself all the time anyway!" [Oh, great, Chibi Usa. Now the college gossips will wonder how it is that a young girl like her visits me alone all the time. Great!]
Usako was just getting wound up for her next retort, when Saori, ever the cool, poised, lady, interrupted, softly, but firmly, "Excuse me...."
Usako, colouring deeply, stopped, looked contritely at Saori and Kobayashi [whose mouth had just about dropped to the floor, and was taking in the scene with relish] and said, "Sorry to make such a scene..." then stopped and hung her head in embarrassment.
Chibi Usa had also collected herself and remembered her "Small Lady" royal manners. "Konnichiwa! [how do you do?]" she said a little nervously to the two on the couch.
To my two brash Princesses, I made the introductions, "My friends at university, Saori and Kobayashi. This is Tsukino Usagi and Chibi Usa."
Kobayashi, clearly delighted by the situation, which must have disconcerted Saori, grinned and said "Hi! So, Mamoru, your girlfriend is...." Then he stopped and looked puzzled, at the two still hanging from my arms.
Usako immediately piped up, "Well, I'm Mamoru's girl..." only to have Chibi Usa insist, "I'm his REAL girlfriend!"
Usako, really angry now, hissed, "Just shut up!"
Chibi Usa replied coolly, "Go back home!"
Enough is enough, thought I. I looked at Usako and said one word only, "USAKO!"
But the two got one last dig in at each other, "It's all your fault!" they screeched in unison.
Looking down at them, still hanging off my arms, I said firmly, irritated, "Just stop it!"
There were muttered apologies from Usas Major and Minor, and they seated themselves to either side of me on the couch.
Saori was clearly amused, started to laugh, and then apologized, "Sorry for laughing. Your girlfriends are cute. Here you are, have some pastries!" [Now why didn't I think of the pastries, dammit? Always, Saori is just that little bit smarter than I am. And she doesn't even know those girls and their prodigious appetites, as I do!]
Eyes big as saucers at the spread of petit-fours, the two Moon Princesses cried, "Wow!!" [Yes, I had really outdone myself that day. Seiko tends to make me nervous, and I wanted to impress her that if I couldn't find my way around a library quite as well as she can, still, I really can cook when I want to.]
"Oh, girlfriends!" said Kobayashi, with an emphasis on the "S". "That explains it." [The silly ass must have thought that I have two girlfriends, and rather than make them jealous of each other, I don't any have photos of either of them in my living room! If only he knew the truth, which is even more bizarre! Well, let him think I have two girlfriends if he wants. Is it any use trying to reason with such a baka (fool) as Kobayashi? Such a complete waste of time and energy, I thought, resignedly.]
"So, how are you doing, Usagi-san?" Kobayashi asked her.
And my Usako, her mouth full of petit-fours and thinking of nothing else, replied, contentedly, eying the pastry tray, "Well, I'm thinking of having another one!"
There was a sudden, embarrassed silence in the room. My university friends have never met anything quite like the Junk Food Princess in her full glory, after all. Tsukino Usagi's ability to completely concentrate on stuffing her face, to the exclusion of all other possible disturbances in the universe, is sometimes...breathtaking.
Kobayashi told her, "I'm not asking about your appetite!"
Usako, face still full of petit-fours, swallowed and spoke, smiling serenely. [Yes, that's the one time Usako looks serene-when she's EATING.] "I'm fifteen and a half."
You know, I don't know why Usako can't just reply, "I'm fine," like anyone else would, but it seems she's determined to say as many potentially embarrassing things as she can. In self-defence, Chiba Mamoru has become a master of looking oh-so-nonchalant. Sometimes, I think I ought to thank Usako. I beat all my university friends at poker now!
Kobayashi grinned at her. "Fifteen, huh? Good age! At that age, you're full of love and dreams, aren't you?" [At the moment, Usako is full of creams, not dreams, but who am I to argue?]
Usako, now sporting a whipped-cream moustache, replied, "Well, you may be right. I'm already in love with Mamoru, though."
Kobayashi stopped whatever he was going to say, and looked at Saori. Seiko's hand trembled a little as she set down her tea cup, but otherwise, her composure was admirable. For a moment, I felt uncomfortable too, but then I felt a smile coming up at the corners of my mouth, unbidden. I felt my eyes rest on her with love, and she didn't even see. Oh, Usako, Usako. How you wear your heart on your sleeve, and you don't give a damn what the world thinks. May you never change. I decided right then I would take her out for a sundae tonight. But in the meantime, I took the little smile off my face, before anyone saw it, and went back to being the cool, nonchalant Mamoru.
At that moment, I noticed Chibi Usa peering at Saori suspiciously. "What's your relationship to Mamoru?" she demanded.
Click here to go to "Seiko - Part 2"