Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ The Birthday Mystery ❯ The Birthday Mystery ( One-Shot )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Title: The Birthday Mystery
Status: Alpha
Author: Matthias aka MysticMew
Email: Minaru@gmx.de
Rating: PG-13 (just to be sure because of shoujo ai content, nothing really unsuited)
Category: Romance, sort of Songfic (well there is a song in there but I wouldn't call it a
Songfic because of that)
Fandoms: Sailormoon (manga)
Main Pairing: Minako/Hotaru
Summary: Minako is lonely, Minako is lonely at her birthday... Minako gets an intriguing
letter on her lonely birthday!
Distribution: MSD (http://www.catstrio.de) Starsinlove-group
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/starsinlove), ff.net (www.fanfiction.net), Mediaminer
(www.mediamer.org), ASMR (www.moonromance.net), Shoujo Ai.com
(www.shoujoai.com). Anyone else, you can have it but please ask first, ‘kay?
Disclaimer: See individual disclaimers below intro
Story Disclaimer: Copyright©2011 by Matthias Engel
Note: () indicates change of POV to the listed character, if empty then the following will
be done in third person, a question mark indicates a character who is either unknown
yet to the reader or should stay that way for now. <> Indicated time/place if necessary

************************************************************

Foreword

I wanted to do something Minaru-like again. After my resurfacing with TFSTTM
Reloaded and currently going through all my SL stuff again, I didn't feel quite up to that
old level yet. Seeing as Minako's birthday is coming up soon (mine too), I resolved to at
least put out a short piece for her. When I started I wavered between a dual perspective
from Minako or Hotaru or just doing Minako and perhaps saving Hotaru's perspective for
a possible companion piece. For the sake of keeping it short and getting this done in
time, I decided on the latter.

There is a song towards the end. If you want to see the English translation for the
Lyrics, they are included at the very end, behind the Author's Notes.

Enjoy.

************************************************************

M&M DreamWorks Presents
The Birthday Mystery
A Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon Fanfiction

************************************************************

If someone told me a year ago I would be sitting in front of a computer monitor
working until late at night I would have laughed at them. Of course, this wasn't about
school at all. Sure, the blasted thing was helpful for that, too, I had to admit. Most of its
use, however, came for my personal ambition. I was quite grateful for Ami's help in
getting me this and setting it up. Managing all my appointments would have been quite a
hassle without it.

With two years of relative peace and quiet, I had had a lot of time to concentrate
on my dream. And without wanting to sound boastful, I could say that I was fairly
successful. Able to put all my energy and dedication in learning all those qualifications
needed to be an idol, I had made leaps and bounds in my progress. Various castings
had proven to me that I had what it took to become an idol. Between High School and
Senshi business – I was still their leader after all and it wouldn't do for us to slack off –,
my daily schedule was usually packed and I could count the days on one hand I actually
had some "free time" every month.

Not that I was complaining, mind you. This was what I wanted and I had known it
would be hard work. With Crystal Tokyo looming on the horizon, we were all aware that
this period might be the only one we could live out the dreams of our normal, human
selves. And so everyone worked hard on them.

Wearily rubbing my eyes, I glanced down to the small digital clock in the corner of
the screen. Twenty minutes before midnight. Great. I'd be dead tired again tomorrow. 'I
really should go home', I mused, sitting back to stretch my limbs. That was why I didn't
like working on a computer. Too little physical activity. Not just my body would protest but
I could easily get cranky if I didn't have something physical to do.

Unfortunately the computer was a godsend when it came to compilation. The
song I was working on was due in a few days. While I wouldn't be able to start an official
career before graduating High School this term – baring possible flunking from all the
stress –, I had managed to rope in several offers for next year already. Some of these,
usually the better ones, came in with conditions, resulting in extra work. I enjoyed
singing. Perhaps the most out of everything I learned in the last years. Singing was the
purest form of expressing feelings, of conveying dreams to the audience. Eventually that
meant writing your own songs, which was far harder than it might seem to the casual
observer.

Thus, I ignored the voice of reason and went back to work. Unfortunately I soon
realized the futility of the endeavor. I was already tired, I could hardly concentrate and try
as I might my mind kept wondering to tomorrow and the negative side of all my devotion
to making a career as an idol.

October 22th. My nineteenth birthday. And once again I wouldn't spent it with a
special someone. Even more, everyone was fairly busy with their own work. Graduation
year already took away a lot of time even without individual dreams. There definitely
wouldn't be a party before the weekend and even that was not assured. I needed to send
this song in and was actually supposed to be there for an official interview. And in this
business you never knew if that would take only an hour or consume almost the entire
day. The latter was actually desired since it usually meant you had your possible future
bosses/managers' attention.

Heaving a sigh, I saved my work and closed the application. In this state I wouldn't
be able to produce anything worthwhile. There was no point in handing in a crappy work.

Idly I called up a small document and stared at it for awhile. This was really the
biggest problem with my chosen path. With so little time, there was really nothing left to
find someone to love. Considering my track record from before, the whole notion was
nigh impossible now. Oh sure, I had gained a lot of popularity on our school and I did get
a lot of love letters. That had at first thrilled me... until I came to the realization that none
of these people really knew me. They only saw the popular, beautiful girl. That was
flattering but ultimately not what I was looking for. And I had serious doubts I would ever
find someone to meet my qualifications as they were listed in this simple list I had
compiled last year already and which I always looked at again when I was feeling down
and lonely about the issue.

Not that it was helping. I usually would feel even more lonely afterwards. But for a
few minutes at least, I could fantasize about the possibilities.

The list was only a few items long, organized in number of priority. Some would
probably be surprised to find "A Boyfriend" as last on the list. I had pretty much given up
on the notion to ever find a boy who could adequately understand and relate to me. All
my past experiences had somewhat desensitized me on that idea. As such "A
Girlfriend" actually took the next place. Considering my strong feelings for the princess in
both incarnations, I shouldn't really have been as surprised as I was when I realized that I
could actually imagine myself with a girl. Love was love in the end. At first I was fairly
balanced between either gender, however, the girlfriend idea was appealing to me more
and more with time. Of course, no one had caught my interest in that regard either.
Okay, some did but they were either just like my male "admirers", spoken for or not
remotely interested in the same sex. No options there.

In the end, none of them could fulfill my top qualification: "Someone to understand
me". Perhaps I was really setting to high standards. But... was it really so much to ask
that there was one person out there who loved me for who I am?

************************************************************

The first thing I became aware of was the light tickling my skin and my eyes. More
like annoying actually. And persistent to drive away the nice dream. What was it about
again? The images were rapidly fleeting and as more awake as I became the more it
vanished from my mind. It had been something nice, at least, that much I was sure of.

Groggily and annoyed I blinked my eyes and became aware of the second
circumstance. My back was killing me. From there the realization of just where I was only
took a few more seconds. Certainly the small couch was comfy to relax in for awhile but
not actually appealing for sleeping, especially after a long day working hard in here
without stretching my limbs.

Great, I had dozed off before the computer again. Not that it was a regular
occurrence and I really didn't think I had been that tired last night, especially considering I
was just about to go home. The last thing I remembered was looking at my wishing list
again and then... Then I must have fallen asleep.

For just a moment I pondered the mystery of how I ended up on the couch, then
smiled softly. Whatever would I do without my thoughtful assistant? There was not even a
point in wondering what she had still been doing in the building when in fact it should be
deserted already. But Hotaru-chan was like that and sometimes I wondered with what
exactly I had earned such devotion.

After I had been made president of the school's recently founded musical club, I
had been granted this small office. That had thoroughly surprised me but I wasn't about
to protest. It was hardly much but adequate enough for my needs. No one minded that I
would more often use it for my own purposes. As I said, I had become quite popular and
I think most of them were just in the club because of that. To follow someone popular. I
tried to weed out the talented from the followers but it was kind of hard if both fell into the
same category very often.

I had been surprised when Hotaru joined shortly after the initial founding. She
wasn't even very good at singing or dancing... However, she displayed an amazing
organizing talent for her age... then again, measuring her by age was a problem in itself.

With a groan, I stretched my weary limbs and, glancing at the clock on the
opposite side of the room, noted it was a little past six thirty in the morning. Some would
be annoyed that after sleeping in less preferred circumstances it hadn't been at least a
little longer. Not me. I had gotten used to make due with little sleep. Partly because I had
so much responsibilities between school, club, Senshi business and pursuing my career
that long working nights like this became quite common. Part of it was also self-
enforced. As an idol I would probably be swarming in work, making sleep just as – if not
more – sparse. Best to get used to it now.

Since it was early enough, I could catch a quick shower down at the baths.
Thankfully I would change out of my school uniform when coming here after classes, so I
wouldn't look... well, like someone who had slept on a couch in their clothes all night.

Still... My birthday had hardly begun and already started on a sour note. I really
wasn't expecting it to get much better, more like the opposite. Lost in these gloomy
thoughts I never quite realized that my computer was turned off and what I had been
looking at last before falling asleep...

************************************************************

An hour later I was feeling refreshed but still not much less cranky. While
overworking and falling asleep somewhere other than your own bed was fine on
weekends, it really sucked during school hours. The signs would be visible to all who
would look close enough and I really prided myself on looking perfect. Sure, not in a self-
absorbed, narcissistic kind of way. That was just pitiful and I hoped to never sink that
low. However, image was essential in the line of business I was aiming for. Both the
more broader definition of the term as well as the physical appearance.

My mood began to drop more and more as I finally made my way back to the
school, the first waves of students slowly filling up the hallways. Over in that corner a girl
blushing and giggling over some kind of comment her apparent boyfriend made. And
there a happy couple on a bench – so much for no public affection in a school building!
Heck those two over by the fountain were even kissing!

And finally, on the way to my locker, two students walked past me that were so
madly in love with each other but too chicken to say it, it made me sick with envy. I know I
shouldn't feel so aggravated and petty about it but couldn't help myself. Normally I could
ignore these things but when I was feeling morose about my own loveless life, I had
trouble keeping control over my "love radar" and that only made it worse.

Biting back an angry comment when I passed by two girls gossiping about their
love interests, I reached my locker. By now I was ready to just throw in my dirty clothes so
that I could quickly take them out when I went home today – no way, I would work on my
birthday, that much principle had to be. In such a hurry, I almost didn't see it at first.
However, when I did, I half-groaned before getting a closer look and actually getting
curious.

I was no stranger to love letters... and the futility of them. At first I had been
flattered. Then I learned that most of the guys only knew Minako, the popular girl that
wanted to become an idol. Not Aino Minako, the person. Not that I was denying them the
effort, not too long ago I was much the same with some guys. Some actually made them
interesting and those were the ones I at least bothered to check out. With minimal
results. And those that did peek my interest for a date or two, were usually sorted out
quickly thereafter.

This letter definitely seemed to fall more into the latter categories. Unlike the
standard white with red heart, the envelope was in orange with a blue heart as a seal,
with golden lining. Someone at least knew what I liked in colors and was creative
enough to make the envelope look appealing already. Sadly enough, that was more
uncommon than one could have hoped for. Especially in the last year of high school
where you would expect a bit more effort to impress someone you were interested in.

Carefully, as not to damage the envelope, I broke the seal. Perhaps I shouldn't
have been any more surprised to find the actual letter with an interesting color
combination as well but the soft but deep purple with intricate silver writing was definitely
a new one. Computer-printed paper was sadly getting the norm, so seeing someone not
only select such clearly more expensive paper for both the message and the wrapping,
but also to compose their letter in elaborate handwriting with an even rarer color, already
put whoever my latest admirer was in a much higher category than many, if not all
before.

Truly curious now, I focused my attention on the actual letter.

Compared to you I am but a small light in the dark,
Your radiance swallows me whole.
If there is one small thing I could do for you,
Then I would dare to try and fill your lonely heart.

If you wish to find me, come to the place where even the lion
and the bird can find love in each other.

Huh?

Okay, that was a first... and something I had almost given up hope to ever
receive. Sure, the first lines sounded kind of sappy but I could somehow tell they came
deep from the heart. The more important thing was that the letter gave no indication who
the sender was. Annoying, right? Not much point to it if you had no clue who left it,
correct?

Wrong! It was a mystery! Someone was expressing their feelings for me and at
the same time piquing my interest by being all mysterious. Both hunter and hunted. He or
she had an interest in me but wanted me to find him or her.

Absolutely perfect! I loved a good mystery to solve, especially with a possible
good reward. Even if whoever put this here didn't turn out to be what I wanted, I would
have fun finding out and retain a fond memory. Perhaps this birthday wouldn't be quite
as bland as I had thought after all.

Now I just had to figure out just what the clue meant...

************************************************************

'Not many people here today.'

A sharp wind blew against my jacket, causing a small shiver that went quickly
ignored. No wonder few would frequent a park on a late October day with the
temperature declining sharply over the last days. The last breaths of summer had finally
begun to give into autumn. One that at days already felt half way like winter.

That couldn't really put me down. First of all, being a Senshi in their prime of
power, extreme temperatures were nothing more than a minor annoyance. Even without
that, the excitement that had been building up over the day was demanding results now.
School was barely bearable. It hadn't taken me long to figure out the clue and with it
some suspicion as to who my mystery admirer was. I had actually skipped P.E. under
the excuse of having work to do. The teachers were used to it sometimes, although I
rarely bailed on P.E. I needed the workout and had too much fun doing sport activity.

This was more important. This was a whole different level of fun. This was an
extraordinary, rare and golden opportunity. This was... A QUEST FOR LOVE!

Stomping down on the errand moment of craziness in my head, I noticed that I
reached my destination. With purpose I left the path and slipped between some trees
into the undergrowth. After a couple of feet, a small dirt trail emerged among the foliage
and lead towards a small secluded part at the edge of the sea in the middle of the park.
The only thing of note here was the stone statue. Nothing extravagant, a simple work
really.

I had always found it... inspiring.

The majestic lion sat on his hunches, peaceful but regal-looking. Few would dare
approach him, few would try to not show the utmost reverence. Especially not small
animals the feline king would normally consider prey. And yet the lone, small bird –
nothing more than a starling – sat without a care atop the mighty beast's head, as if
using the long mane as its nest.

I wasn't an art expert but I would like to think I had a fair amount of taste for
creativity. To me the unequal pair reminded me that even the most unlikely people could
become friends or even more. That there was no boundaries to love – regardless of
what kind – between living beings.

Where even the lion and the bird can find love, indeed. I had used that expression
once and to my knowledge only one person had heard me say it. Of course, it could just
be a coincidence. Far be it from me to deny someone to come to the same
interpretation. Yet, my infallible sense for mystery was telling me the possibility of my
suspicion being true was quite high. I had pondered the consequences at length and
found a part of me actually hoping to be proven right.

Well, now for that clue... "Ah, what do we have here?" Nimbly I jumped on the
lion's back and snatched the note tucked into his stony mane away in one quick move
before landing back on the other side. No envelope this time but I didn't expect that. It
was the same paper and that seemed already expensive enough.

I am a light that shines only in the dark,
alone in the wide forests I thrive on the shadows.
When I look at you, I am humbled,
nothing of me is left in your light
Would you still reach out for me?

Then look on the bridge that spans the Moon.

Oh yes. No doubt about it now. If I was wrong about this, I might just eat my shoes.
It wasn't like I couldn't use my gifts on myself or my potential partners. There were simply
reasons why I didn't do it. First of all, that would ruin the effort, surprise and satisfaction.
Second, my sight was limited when it concerned me. Not useless. Just not quite so
efficient and prone to error, especially when subjected to my own feelings. Objectivity
could be easily clouded by my own emotions.

However, despite trying not to, it was hard to ignore feelings directed at me if they
were sufficiently strong and pure. And hers had always been. I had never said a thing
though, not because I was offended or couldn't imagine a possible relationship. No, I
didn't because she didn't. One of the most important traits I wanted in a partner was for
someone to keep up with me. I couldn't have a relationship where the partner couldn't
even work up the courage to approach me and confess their feelings. She had always
shied away from doing that and I had almost given up hope that she would ever have.

Apparently I had made an error in judgment but I certainly wouldn't complain. This
was a pleasant surprise. The question remained whether to seek her out directly – which
I probably could through various means – or humor her and keep following what surely
would be several more hints sending me running all over the place...

No. A lot of effort had been put into this, just the way I liked it. The least I could do
was follow along. After all the chase was a vital part of the fun and there was no sense in
collecting a reward without working for it.

************************************************************

The clue chasing continued well into the evening. The bridge was easy. There
was one not far from the park that I had found out made a very romantic spot at night.
Somehow, regardless of moon phase, the water of the small canal always seemed to
reflect the moonlight in a perfect way so when looking down, the Moon would seem to be
actually floating below instead of above. Another clue was stuck behind one of the
support pillars on one side.

After that I had to actually double back to school and one of my favorite's spots
outside that I would always go to when I wanted to have some peace and quiet. Again,
not many would know about it but that at least someone could have found out. I would
really have to teach her how to do this right, I mused. If the hints had started out there, I
would have been guessing for a bit longer. Especially since having to go all the way to
the Fruit Parlor from there was rather inefficient. It had gotten late already and I had to
pester Unazuki to let me in to get my last hint. Not that I really needed it, already having a
feeling of just where this would end up.

So here I was. With practiced care I slipped through the shadows of the gathering
night. Part of me felt guilty for wanting to reverse the surprise suspected to be in store
just around the corner. The "hunt", however, had left me just a little playful and so I
decided that I would surprise my "secret" admirer instead. Stealth was a skill Artemis
had drilled into me early and that I had to quickly perfect while hunting for information and
spying on the Dark Kingdom in the interval between the fall of the Dark Agency and the
gathering of the other Inners.

And keeping hidden in an open place was not exactly easy. The hints had really
lead me on a roundabout way from school, to the park, back to the school eventually and
now back to another section of the park. The open air theatre had just been recently built
and I really liked it here. During the day many entertainers, from small bands over
various musicians came here to play in the summer. Now that the weather was turning
for the worse, the area was deserted. Yet, I could still feel the special atmosphere at
work. The reason why I loved it here so much.

Everyone that came here to perform loved what they were doing, their feelings
seemed to gather and fill this place with the devotion to their art, with the emotions they
wished to portray. Even being mainly unknown faces, known by insiders only or simply
just amateurs having fun, their hearts went into the music and the power stayed even
after all this time. My first real public performance would be here, that much I had already
resolved.

For now though, there was a date to be secured!

Poised in striking distance of the assumed and highly likely target area, I took a
short, inaudible breath and slipped around the stone wall surrounding the small booth
slightly off to the sound but granting an excellent view at the stage. My preferred place to
sit and listen when I found the time on a hot summer day. Also the place of where she
and I had often found ourselves when wanting to relax...

Anticipation coursed through me, as I peered just around the edge of the small
half-crescent of stone surrounding the booth, barely high enough to crouch under... to
find nothing.

Eh?

But... I had been so sure this was the place. Had I interpreted something wrong?
No. The clue had been clear about it. Had she chickened out after all? Unlikely. Not once
she really set her mind to something, that much I had learned by now. Perhaps I had
misinterpreted all the signs after all? Or... Quickly I let my senses expand outwards.
'Could I have been outwitted,' I thought with a mixture of outrage and mirth. No, she
wasn't here. No one else was.

When my eyes finally found something stuck between one of the benches, I felt
like slapping myself. Hmm, another hint then. Apparently I had been wrong about one
thing at least. This wasn't the final destination. Relaxing my body, I strode over to the
bench and fished out another piece of paper. This time the message was short and
simple.

I am waiting for you at the place where the angels sing.

Ah. There she is. Well, that had been my second guess but I had discarded it for
not being suitable as a final setting. I wondered why she chose that place... 'Well, looks
like I will actually have a few surprises after all.' And that was making me even more
eager to experience them.

************************************************************

The "Angel Choir" was a well-known karaoke bar in Juuban, frequented mostly by
High School students out to have fun. Even on weekdays the establishment was
brimming with activity, if not quite as much as on weekends. There weren't many people
outside today but considering the time that was not surprising. By now most of those that
wanted to come had either been here directly after school, had come already for the
evening or wouldn't come at all today.

As such I didn't have to wait long. With some surprise I noted that I was waved
through at the door without having to pay. Half-guessing at the reason, I went inside,
giving a polite nod to the young bouncer and getting an enigmatic smile and wink in
return. Raising an eyebrow, really curious now, I shrugged and entered the "bar". That
was really too... inappropriate a term. Since the Angel's Choir was meant for students,
alcoholic drinks were next to nonexistent. In fact they were only given out for special
occasions. Walking past the first tables, I noticed that actually there were quite a few of
those present today and not just on one or two tables suggesting a celebration of sorts. It
was rare the entire bar was celebrating something.

Seeing that my usual table was empty, I took a moment to look around but
couldn't see my expected quarry anywhere. Fairly convinced there wouldn't be yet
another note – it would be rather hard to keep it hidden somewhere and no specific area
had been indicated unlike in the earlier spots –, I resigned myself to wait.

I didn't have to wait long. I got my own drink, a mild alcoholic cocktail special that
came in different variations. I had just been about to take a sip to calm my rising
curiosity all the small strange details was causing to intensify when I froze in mid-motion,
glass half to my lips. The previous singer had been gone for awhile but no one had taken
the stage again. In fact no one had even attempted to. Very strange. The reason for that
became apparent when the person I had been waiting for emerged from behind the
stage.

Clad in a purple dress that was actually just a tad bit risqué, my lips went
suddenly dry by the sight of Tomoe Hotaru, my assistant and recently very good friend
who I had suspected all along to have sent me on the interesting mystery hunt. Yet
expecting her and seeing the girl in an appearance more daring and mature than she
had ever managed to pull off outside of being Sailor Saturn, actually caused me to catch
my breath. Despite that I rather put the glass down, instead of taking the needed sip, not
trusting myself with keeping the contents where they should be or go.

The most distracting, shocking and the same time utterly thrilling event, however,
was that Hotaru was apparently going to sing. Oh no, that wasn't a bad thing, not at all.
She had a lovely singing voice, enough so that I had often joked, actually more than half-
serious, that we should start a career as a duet... However, Hotaru was very nervous
about singing in front of people and despite my encouragement always felt self-
conscious and inadequate about her skill.

None of that was present in the face of the young teenager and I could actually
feel the strength of will coming from her. She had put all her heart into this day and
already now, even before she had spoken a single word, I felt humbled.

The noise level had gradually begun to die down as soon as Hotaru had emerged
and now a fairly uncommon, expecting silence filled the room. Very few actually got all
the visitors to stay quiet and listen, it had taken me quite some time to actually work up
to that level.

"This next song is for a very special person on a very special day. I hope you
enjoyed my gift so far and that my idea was to your liking. I really wish I had the courage
to just approach you directly and say what I am feeling but I fear if I had tried that, I would
have just chickened out again."

'Nonsense, I thought, you are already far braver standing up there with all these
people actually listening to you.' And that was when I realized what that really meant.
There were a lot of students from our school coming here. There was no way that they
wouldn't know whom Hotaru was addressing. In fact I was starting to realize that
everyone I could see here was as much a core audience as such a term could be
applied to a informal karaoke bar. Most of these people actually came to hear me sing
instead of following the popular girl of the school just because it was cool. Still, this
would be all over school tomorrow...

"I really don't know if I am good enough or if I can ever live up to the kind of person
you want to have by your side. However, just by being with you, you are making me feel
special, more special and above else accepted than I have felt all my childhood. Your
shining spirit has encouraged me to be stronger, to not be afraid or uncertain of myself
anymore. The whole reason why I can stand here today, saying these things, is because
of you."

Oh Aphrodite, I think I was going to cry. She was practically confessing to me in
front of the entire audience! That was likely the single most bravest thing I had ever seen
anyone do, especially considering how shy Hotaru usually was with these things. For that
alone I could easily fall in love.

"You will all recognize this song, since it is yours. I like it because it describes you
so well... which is actually rather sad. Maybe it is just a feeble hope, but perhaps you
would give me a chance to fill your lonely heart." And with that the first notes to
'Setsunakute Ii' started playing. Goddess help me, she was really going to do a slow
song. As I said Hotaru was a good singer if she wanted but her voice was best suited for
just this type of song.

My heart was racing wildly, filled with a fluttering feeling, a mixture of gratitude,
pride, fondness and real affection. At this point she really wouldn't have needed to sing.
Getting out there and saying all that on stage was so... beautiful that I would have given
in even had I not been inclined to begin with. That didn't mean I wanted to miss Hotaru
singing...

"Nee nemurenai yoru ga kite
Mata anata wo omotteru"

I could only watch spellbound as Hotaru stood at the microphone with her eyes
closed, her soft voice melting my heart. In my opinion she was better suited for this song
than me... but then again, I think I was rather biased right now.

"Aa aojiroi mado wo ake
Sora ni mada kienokoru hoshi wo miageru"

Eyes slowly opening she lifted her face upwards in tune with the last line, voice
rising slightly. I felt a tremor in my heart and realized that Hotaru's strong feelings were
expressing themselves through the song and actually creating a message. It did not
have the depth of what the Starlights could do but that wasn't even necessary. I was right
here and that was enough to reach its intention.

"Anata ni oyasumi wo
Akai RIBON wo hodoite

Tooku kara shikatte ne
Dare ni mo misenai kiyowa na watashi wo"

Amethyst eyes suddenly locked onto me and I was drawn in by their depths.
Hotaru's eyes had always had a special quality. At times the innocent and childlike
quality of the reborn girl but also the infinite depth of countless millennia spent in silent
vigil as Sailor Saturn. Reminded of the last I always felt my own loneliness pale in
comparison.

"Itsumade mo suki da kara
Anata no sei naraba
Setsunakute setsunakute ii"

Voice rising for the chorus, the strength of her expression did as well. There were
still no coherent words forming behind the song but there were flashes of pictures in my
head. Hotaru alone and shunned, her brief joy at finally finding a friend, then having to
start over again in a body that aged far too quickly to give her a remotely decent second
chance at childhood. I had written the song for myself, yet somehow Hotaru managed to
make it her own for that small moment.

"Nee mada hosoi kono ude de
Anata dakishimeru hi ga kuru no deshou ka"

Once again her voice grew soft as the tempo of the song fell again and she
wrapped her arms around herself. The direction of the images changed as well. Hotaru
entering our school, Hotaru watching me from afar, then daring to approach me and
enter the club. But always hiding her true feelings.

"Mo ichido aeta nara
Kitto nakidashite shimau"

With a start I realized one crucial detail I had not known before. I had thought that
Hotaru's feelings had started out as a mix of fascination, admiration and empathy – in
short as a simple schoolgirl's crush – and then slowly grown into something deeper.
However, there had been love from the very first moment that she had reentered our
lives after the defeat of Neherenia. That humbled and at the same time made me feel a
tiny bit guilty for not trying to encourage her in some way earlier. Yes, I wanted her to
have the courage to realize and act on her feelings by herself but at first I had been sure
it was nothing more than a crush that she might or might not grow out of.

"Seifuku no mune ni aru
Haruka na me wo shita anata no yokogao

Sono mama de suki da kedo
Motto anata rashiku
Kawatte mo kawatte mo ii"

And with that realization the actual words of the song faded into the background
and I could hear her voice clearly in my heart, touching my soul and leaving it trembling
with the intensity of someone actually feeling so deeply towards me.

*Perhaps I am not your ideal choice. Perhaps I'll never be what you really want.
But I am here and I love you. Everything you do inspires me. I would walk by your side
even if you never returned my feelings. If my presence alone can at least somewhat
lift your loneliness, then it will certainly help my own.*

"Tooku kara dakishimete
Dare ni mo misenai kiyowa na watashi wo

Itsumademo suki da kara
Anata no sei naraba
Setsunakute setsunakute ii"

Tears stung in my eyes at the depth of emotion. Hotaru's voice rose once again
for the final lines, her eyes only focused on me, everything else around us falling apart. I
wasn't even aware of the bar anymore. The younger girl had completely caught me
inside her spell. The final words carried a final, very simple but oh so beautiful yet
terrifying message.

*On this, your nineteenth birthday, I give you my heart.*

How was I supposed to react to that? I had expected a confession but the
intensity was overwhelming. Somehow now I was the one that felt insignificant, unworthy
of such love and... uncertain if I could ever return it adequately. But, so Aphrodite help
me, I would try my hardest! No one had ever courted me like that and if that wasn't the
worth at least a try I didn't know what was.

I was moving as soon as the last note of the song played out. Excitement, anxiety
and so many other things were playing havoc with my heart. However, there was one
thing above all else I could focus on, that I knew I had to do. My eyes never left her as I
climbed up on stage until I stood directly before the dark-haired girl that had never
looked so gorgeous ever before. Trembling I reached out with one hand, my heart
pounding, threatening to jump right out my chest...

Probably to the bafflement of everyone watching and the confusion of Hotaru I
reached for her hair and ruffled it playfully, my chaotic feelings demanding release.
"Baka-chan, did you have to embarrass me like that?" I smiled though, a bittersweet, but
honest smile... then pulled her close and dipped my head down, my emotions exploding
into a kiss perhaps a tad more passionate than I intended. I couldn't help myself,
however, needing to express myself, to give an answer to Hotaru's words. And since I
didn't trust myself with speaking right now, this was the best way that came to mind.

Hotaru had stiffened at first, completely caught off guard, but quickly melted into
the contact. My arms slipped around her and I could feel the sigh vibrating through the
contact of our lips. For a single, timeless moment everything was perfect and the
universe was just as it should be...

Then the wolf whistles and cat calls started and I reluctantly pulled back with a
slight blush. She was blushing much more which I found endearing since I still found her
earlier actions were much more courageous than getting caught making out on stage. I
winked at her and a small smile broke her face, followed by a lovely giggle.

"Happy Birthday, Minako-chan."

THE END

************************************************************

Author's Notes

Okay, that was that. I actually intended one more scene but decided this was
actually a better stop to draw a close. This leaves a few things open, well one mostly, but
as I said I might do a companion piece. MIGHT.

All in all, I am not quite sure where to put this story. Perhaps not one of my better
works, I am honestly not quite sure if I should be satisfied with it or not. The onset for the
story was just a vague part of an idea and I more or less developed the direction while
writing. I don't think it's bad per se but I have done better romance, that's for sure. I let
you be the judge of the quality of this short piece.

I included the translation of 'Setsunakute Ii' at the end of these notes, if you are
interested. I really do love all of Fukami Rica's pieces, they really fit Minako so well even
if a lot of them are rather melancholic. I was torn between either this or 'Anata no Yume
wo Mita wa'. However, the latter didn't really fit the situation at all.

As for future plans... Well, I told all those that read TFSTTM Reloaded that I would
be busy with a training school program of sorts... Unfortunately it got cancelled, leaving
me hanging once again. I had been down about this for quite some time. That, rereading
my old SL stuff and realizing that Sailormoon Z which I had given up on ever being
completed, had been finished since three years already, eat up most of my time the last
weeks.

Since I'm in the middle of going through the main arcs of SL now I cannot say for
sure yet if I actually get back to writing on that. I want to but I am not sure if I can fit back
into the quality of my writing from years ago yet. I will try and that is the only way I can tell
if I am satisfied with it or not. However, that might still take a little while, so be patient.
Also with my already planned for next half year up in the open again and work situation
not really looking up either, I cannot say what I'll be doing next week or next month and
how much time it will consume.

As always lots of feedback will certainly help encourage Maia and me to do our
best. I will do my best not to disappear from the writing scene again for so long even if I
will probably take longer between updates.

Now let's all wish Minako a Happy Birthday!

Ja ne, yours

Matthias

************************************************************

Lyric Translation

Setsunakute Ii
Minako's R single
Romanization by Valerie Yoza
Translation by Melissa Leubner
Written by Serizawa Rui
Sung by Fukami Rika (Minako)

Hey, as I sleep in the night, I can hear you,
and once more, I remember you...

Ah, opening the pale window
I lift my eyes to the sky, to the planet turning.

For you, I'll be good
and I'll wear a red ribbon.

From the distance, alone
I watch for someone to call my own.

How long till I exchange emptyness for love?
In case your spirit
is alone, I'll stand alone...

Hey, through the window, I want to be
with you and hold you in my slender arms...

And at once, if you're ever threatened and cry
surely, I'll run to you and end it.

The suit of your spirit is in my heart
and in the distance I can see your profile.

My love will never change but
becomes more like you and
is in your name, I'll stand in your name...

From the distance, I hold
and watch for someone to call my own.

How long till I exchange emptyness for love?
In case your spirit
is alone, I'll stand alone...


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