A/N: This story is going through some major revisions, so I apologize for the lateness. I'm trying to revise and keep up with the new chapters. I'll do better, I promise. Part II only has 3 more chapters in it before I move to Part III, which is the one that is really explosive and provides you guys with the answers you want.
Posted: December 31, 2015
"You better have a good fucking reason why you didn't tell me you were coming back in town Mina Aino," Harper Harrison seethed from her spot on Mina's stoop. The sandy haired blonde pounded on the front door and yelled for the other blonde in the house. Said blonde was pressed up against the door, her back vibrating with Harper's pounds, and her eyes darting around in terror looking for an exit. "I know you're there, I can sense you looking around in terror."
Mina sighed in resignation, and turned around, opening the door after a moment. "Hi Harper," the honey blonde grimaced, staring at her childhood best friend.
"Don't 'hi' me Mina," Harper grumbled, pushing her way into the townhouse.
"Just go on and invite yourself in then," Mina huffed, closing the door and following the other blonde into the house.
"Don't mind if I do," Harper shot back, heading to the kitchen. She started rummaging through the cupboards, and the refrigerator, pulling out food and spices.
"What are you doing?" Mina asked, watching as Harper pulled a skillet down from the rack.
"What does it look like I'm doing? It's lunch time and I'm starving," Harper returned, poking the chicken breast she pulled out of the fridge hesitantly. "I also figured that your cooking skills were still abysmal, so I would fix whatever I found in here so that you wouldn't starve until your parents came home."
Mina rolled her eyes and sat down at the dinning room table. "I'm not that pathetic," the girl grumbled, grabbing a banana out of the fruit bowl on the table. "I've survived off of sandwiches, TV dinners and take out when I was in Japan on my own."
Harper just hummed and set about tenderizing and marinating the chicken in front of her, and grabbed some bags of vegetables from the freezer. "So when were you going to tell me you were back in town?"
"Ugh," the honey blonde cried out, her head hitting the table. "I forgot, okay? I was going to call you, but everything's been a bit hectic recently, so it slipped my mind."
The sandy blonde turned her honey colored eyes on the honey blonde and smirked slightly before turning her attention back to the food in front of her. "Just so you know I was displeased with your behavior," Harper sniffed. "I heard you got in the Academy though, that's great. I'll be going there too."
"To an acting school?"
"It's not just an acting school anymore; it merged with a local school and became a magnet school for the arts. There is still a huge focus on theater, but also on other arts and humanities as well."
"Let me guess, they have a culinary arts program?"
"Just like, the best in the city that's not part of higher education," Harper gasped out, turning to Mina with big eyes. "I've been in the program for like a year now, and it is awesome!"
"Hmm, then you should be able to tell me all about the school," Mina grinned, winking at the other girl.
"What's there to tell? It's a school with a bunch of geeks and nerds, with the occasional prep because they wanted to go to a prestigious magnet school," Harper rolled her eyes at the last part.
Mina rolled her eyes dramatically and sighed. "That can't be all, what about the people? Anyone nice, cute, amazing, all of the above?"
"Dating is not high on my priority list and you know it, so I wouldn't be paying attention to things like that."
"You have eyes don't you?!" At Harper's blank stare, Mina just groaned. "Argh, you are so frustrating at times."
"That's why we're best friends, we're both 'unique,'" Harper replied as she tossed the chicken on the small indoor grill and pulled out a pot to boil spaghetti. "Have you arranged your schedule yet?"
"Yes, I've been communicating with the enrollment office and headmaster. This semester I'm taking some of the basic classes, you know, the boring ones, along with Theater and History of Theater," Mina replied, excited for her new classes to start.
"You never did tell me why you moved back," the sandy-haired girl asked. "The last I knew, you were perfectly content to stay in Japan. You can't tell me that getting into acting school was the only reason that prompted you to come home."
Mina sighed and poked a little at the kitchen counter, and looked up at her friend. "You're right, that isn't the only reason why I came back, though it was a big reason. You remember when you figured out I was Sailor V?"
"Yeah, you were doing your superhero thing around town, not having enough time to hangout at night, so it wasn't hard to put together. You went to Japan to do your superhero thing there too didn't you? As Sailor Venus?"
"Yeah, well, I met up with the other Sailor scouts, fighting evil, doing friend things, other stuff like that," Mina replied. "Usagi, Sailor Moon, she was my best friend, like you, and I love her dearly. I was staying in Japan for her, her life wasn't the best as I found out. Anyway, after most of the other scouts turned traitor, Usagi left to live with her older sisters in America, and told me to pursue my dreams to the fullest of my abilities."
"This Usagi sounds like a pretty alright person, but what do you mean her life was pretty hard?"
"I can't give you all of the details, since I don't know them, but her family was pretty abusive, physically and emotionally. I didn't know until right at the end, when I found her near death just a short distance from her house."
"That's awful," Harper gasped, turning away from the stove to fully look at Mina.
"Yeah, but she's doing way better now. She's living with her older sisters, has some new friends, friends that weren't created through supernatural nonsense and past lives, but real friends. She's doing much better," Mina smiled sadly, thinking of her separated friend.
"Just because she's far from you, getting new friends that she's not going to be your friend anymore," Harper said, seemingly reading her mind. "I had to go through the same thing when you moved to Japan."
"Well this way I can empathize with you a bit more," the blonde smirked, watching her sandy-haired friend cook. "I'm hungry, when is the food going to be ready?"
Harper just glared at her and waved a spatula at her, "You could always learn to cook."
"Never mind, take your time," Mina retreated away from the counter and started digging through the drawers, looking at the papers and fliers her parents had collected. Her eyes fell on one particular flier and her mouth instantly watered at the words on the page. "Harper, hurry up, we're going out for food," she cried, nudging her friend's arm as if that would cause the food to cook faster.
"Why are we going out for food now?" Harper asked, "What about the food I'm currently making?"
"We'll eat it later, but right now, I really want a good plate of fish n chips."
"So good," Mina groaned around the battered fish filet in her mouth. "They don't have fish n chips in Japan, a classic staple for the English diet. The food was good, don't get me wrong, but I missed English food."
"Bet they didn't have much authentic French food either," Harper pointed out, waving a chip. "You know how much you love French cuisine."
"Bouillabaisse and French Onion soup is the best," Mina groaned. "And Pissaladière, and practically any type of crepe, and pastries, and…"
"Okay, okay, you can stop," Harper said. "We're eating right now, don't need to get you worked up about more food. I'm surprised you're not the size of a house with how much food you eat, or that you don't know how to cook anything."
"I can make a toasted cheese sandwich," Mina protested. "And a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
"Good to know you're not totally incompetent," Harper replied, biting into her own battered fish. "Oh they do make good fish and chips here don't they?"
"It's the beer batter, made from the local brew," Mina replied, her mouth full of fish.
"It's good," the sandy blonde murmured, inhaling her own food. She caught sight of something behind the other blonde at the door of the pub, and spoke again. "You seen your family since you've been back?"
"Mum and Dad are away for business, Coop said he would drop by later though, why?"
"Later might be sooner than you think," Harper chuckled, turning her attention back to her food.
"What do you-" Mina started before she let out a shriek when she was lifted from her chair.
"Mina!" Her older brother, Coop, yelled. He hugged her tiny frame, crushing her against him.
"Coop!" Mina wheezed, "I can't breath." Her older brother had the same blonde hair and blue eyes that she possessed and exuberant personality, but that is where the similarity between the siblings ended. While Mina was around average height for a teenage girl, around 5 feet 5 inches, her brother Coop was well over 6 feet with a slender but muscular frame.
Once Coop set her down, Mina took a good look at him. "You're growing your hair out again," she pointed out, indicating the clean, shoulder length blonde hair that was pulled back slightly from his face.
"He's going for that Asgardian god of thunder vibe," Harper stated. "You need to bulk up a bit dude if you want to fit into Thor's costume."
"Shut-up twerp," Coop said, staring down at his little sister's best friend. The younger girl was almost like a sister to him since she grew up with Mina, so she received the same treatment that the other blonde did. With a mischievous grin, Coop pulled the other girl up from her sister and crushed her in a hug as well.
"You put me down you big brute," Harper yelled out indignantly, and looked to her best friend for assistance. The honey blonde had returned to her seat and was ignoring them as she happily munched on her basket of fish and dunked the chips in the container of vinegar.
"How did you know we were here anyway?" Harper asked once Coop set her down and they sat down in the booth.
Coop scooted his sister down further on the bench but refrained from trying to take some of her food, knowing that she was liable to bite one of his fingers off if he tried that. "I went to the house to check on Mina, and nearly panicked when she wasn't there. I checked the kitchen, knowing how much she likes food and saw some freshly cooked chicken, meaning you had to be around. When I saw the flier on the table for this place," he said, gesturing around them. "I knew you guys had to be here. Fish n'chips is Mina's favorite, as you know, and this place makes the best around."
Mina moaned out her agreement as she finished off the last bite and sat back in her seat with a groan. "I can't wait until I'm old enough to sit down, eat my basket of fish n'chips and have a pint while watching footy," she sighed, rubbing her stomach.
"You hate watching footy," Coop pointed out, waving over a waitress to order his own food.
"So not the point," Mina muttered. Harper rolled her eyes at the siblings, knowing what it's like with an older sibling herself, before returning to her food.
When Coop's basket of chips arrived with vinegar, Mina tried to snatch a few away from him before being swatted back.
"So how's your current girlfriend doing? Paige right?" Mina asked Coop, trying to remember what the girl's name was. It was difficult because for a while he was changing out girlfriends every couple months, but, as far as she knows, he's been with this one for a little over a year now.
"Paige, yeah, we're still dating," Coop answered with a dopey grin on his face.
"It's been what, almost a year?" The blonde asked, thinking back. Coop was a few years older than her, starting his third year of college that fall. She remembered that he told her that he met Paige in one of their shared classes, but couldn't remember if it was the spring semester of his first year, or fall semester of his second year.
"Nearly a year, will be a year in October," he replied. "We didn't start dating until a few months after we met."
"Have Mum and Dad met her yet?"
"Mum hates her doesn't she?"
"Oh yes," Coop replied with a sigh as he ate his chips.
Harper snorted, "As long as I've known you, your Mom has pretty much hated all of your girlfriends, how is this any different?"
"I really like this one," Coop answered. "We've even talked about driving up to Wales soon to meet her family."
"I don't need to hear about your love life too," Harper deadpanned. "It's bad enough I have to see Hailey's all over the place, I don't need to hear about yours."
"Well I can't wait to meet her," Mina said. "Can she cook?"
"She makes really good pie," Coop offered.
"Tell her to bring pie and we're good," the longhaired blonde said before she was finally successful in stealing some of Coop's chips. He loudly protested until Mina pointed out that he could just buy her more chips so that she would stop eating his. Coop rolled his eyes but acquiesced since he missed his baby sister a great deal when she was in Japan, even though he would deny it if anyone ever asked him outright.
"Do you want me to see you home?" Coop asked Harper an hour later when the three of them decided they were finally done eating.
"No, it's not far if I take the tube," Harper replied, dismissing his concerns. "I'll see you in a few days Mina and we can go shopping for school."
"Bye Harper, I'll see you soon," the exuberant blonde waved after her friend as she walked down the street to the station for the underground.
"C'mon sis, best get back to the house so you can finish straightening your room around."
"Yeah," Mina sighed. "Artemis is probably awake now anyway, wondering where I went.
"Still have that mangy cat then?"
"Yes I still have him and he is not mangy," the girl sputtered out indignantly, punching Coop in the arm. "You take that back Cupid!"
"Shush," he said, placing a hand over her mouth. "What did I tell you about using that name in public, it's embarrassing."
"I think it's funny," Mina cackled. "Mum and Dad were still flower children at heart when they had you."
"I'm just glad they didn't get mad when I legally changed it when I came of age," Coop sighed. "That would've been awkward."
The two siblings kidded around as they walked back to the brownstone, the London evening traffic just kicking up when they made it through the front door. "Are you staying tonight or are you going back to your flat?"
"I'm going to head back soon, I've got work in the morning, plus my roommates are coming back in a few days, so I want to enjoy having the place to myself while I can," Coop replied, thinking of his three, messy, loud roommates. He lived in a flat just off of the university campus, close enough to still be considered student housing so what relatively cheap. He lived in the dorms for his first year at school, since his family was living in Japan at the time, but decided to try and find an off campus flat to escape the cramped dorm living.
"I thought you liked your roommates?" Mina asked. "Two brothers… and their cousin right?"
"Yeah, they're decent enough blokes, but they can be pretty dramatic when they feel like it. Plus Garnet, the cousin, is a slob. Fortunately it was a three bedroom flat so both he and I get our own rooms, the other two aren't too bad, just… dramatic."
"Sound like my kind of people," Mina winked, giggling.
Coop rolled his eyes and looked around for his sister's pet. "Artemis still in quarantine?"
"Yeah," Mina sighed, missing her guardian's presence. "I did call them this morning though and he should be out right before I start school so I'll be able to help him adjust before going to school."
Coop nodded in understanding before he paused, "Since Artemis isn't here, I don't feel comfortable leaving you here by yourself, so I'm going to head back to my flat, grab some clothes for a few days and stay here with you."
"But what about your job?"
"I can make it from here if I wake up early enough to catch the Tube," Coop countered.
"What about enjoying the flat by yourself while your flat mates are gone?"
"It would be… nice if I could spend time in the flat without Darick, Garnet and Safir bringing their mess, drama and loudness, but what kind of brother would I be if I let you stay here by yourself. Anything could happen to you."
"Coop, I'm sixteen, not six, I'll be fine on my own. I'll probably just eat some of the food Harper cooked for me for dinner, maybe a tub of ice cream and watch some movies."
"Are you sure you're going to be alright?" Coop asked, looking at his sister with assessing eyes.
"I'll be fine Coop, won't even go out at night, and during the day only if one of my friends is with me," Mina promised, desperately trying to get her brother out of the door. She really needed time to process everything that had gone on in the past few weeks, and this was her first time without Artemis, Michelle or anyone else around. She needed this time.
Coop sighed, "Alright, alright, I can take a hint, I'm going. I'll be seeing you in a few days though. Mom and Dad want to have a big family dinner when they get back and I'll be bringing Jenny with me so that you can meet her."
"I can't wait," the blonde girl replied, pushing her brother out the door. "I'll see you later Coop, love you bye!"
Mina leaned back against the door with a sigh, feeling the quiet and the emptiness of the house settle in around her. She pushed away from the door and headed upstairs to her room. She opened her bedroom door and looked around at the empty spaces in her room and on her furniture. All of her stuff and personal effects were being shipped from Japan along with her car, and everything that had remained in her London home had been things from her childhood, items she no longer needed or cared about.
"Can't wait for my stuff to get here so I can really start to decorate this space," Mina muttered to herself as she flopped out on her bed. Thoughts about Usagi, Luna, Michelle, the Scouts, the Brat, and Mamoru flooded her mind. Things that have happened recently have her questioning what she knows of the past, what has been told to her. If Mamoru and Usagi were truly meant to be, wouldn't they have worked out, wouldn't they known from the beginning? If they were truly soul mates, they would have known, they would have recognized each other. She was the soldier of love, she knew how love worked, particularly true love.
And the little pink spore was another matter; she knew that Usagi was going to be her mother in the future and yet treated her like she was scum beneath her feet. The scouts, especially Setsuna, and Mamoru let her get away with treating Usagi like shit, like a lesser person when they only reason any of them were alive, still alive, was to protect Usagi. Things weren't adding up and it confused Mina.
"Ugh, I need to stop thinking about these things," the blonde groaned. "I don't live in Japan anymore, I'm not going to see them for a long time probably, so I don't need to think about this stuff. Usagi is hopefully settling in with her sisters and is going to be starting a new life, it's time I do the same."
I walked up the stairs out of the tube station near Mina's home and started the couple blocks over to her brownstone. It had been a while since I dropped Mina off at home and I knew that I had to visit her before I moved to Paris. I was going to leave in a few days and today was the only free day I had.
Reaching the door, I knocked a few times, taking a small step back when I heard a tremendous crash coming from somewhere behind the door. "Fuck, shit, damn, bollocks, bloody hell," I heard Mina's muffled voice coming through the door before it swung open, revealing a dusty, sweaty blonde.
"Oh hey Michelle, come on in," Mina said, waving me in behind her as she disappeared back through the door.
"I thought your parents would've been home by now," I said as I walked through the door, glancing around to observe the place where the bubbly blonde grew up.
"Oh, they did, they came back a few days after you dropped me off, which I told you they would. They took off again though on another honeymoon for their wedding anniversary though," Mina replied, picking up one of the boxes that were strewn about the floor.
"Seriously?" I asked, my brow nearly disappearing into my hairline. "You just got home from being in Japan by yourself for nearly a year and they disappear on vacation, leaving you home alone?"
"Michelle, calm down, my parents aren't abusive, neglectful or whatever else you're thinking," Mina told me firmly, setting the box down again so she could look at me properly. "They're a bit unusual for parents sure, they have their own unique parenting style but I know that they're always there for me if I need them. If I truly felt like I needed them to be with me in Japan, I could've called them and my mom would've dropped everything in a heartbeat to come, my dad too."
"All right, so why do they let you be so independent? Leaving you alone all the time?" I asked, truly curious. The family dynamics of the people around me intrigued me. Usagi, the kindest, most loving person on the planet, had an extremely abusive family. Haruka, who told me that her parents kicked her out because she was gay, came from possibly the loudest, warmest and friendliest family I ever encountered. My own family was unique in how it functioned, particularly compared to my other 'titled' peers. While governesses raised them, my parents raised my brother and I themselves, not as openly warm as Hailey's family, but still loving and attentive.
"My parents try to foster independence," Mina said, breaking me from my thoughts. "They always taught me to be as independent as possible, to make my own choices and own up to my own mistakes. I imagine that part of them wanted to protect me from making some of those mistakes but realized the valuable life lessons to be gained from them. And I made a lot of mistakes, believe me, some I wish that I hadn't but I'm glad I did. By the time I reached secondary school, I had learned what takes many years to learn. I learned how to budget properly, saving money but also knowing how to live a little. I learned how to manage time, leaving proper amounts for work, family, friends and myself. My parents believed that these lessons would go further than anything I could learn in school, and might even help me push towards my goals harder."
"But to leave you alone all the time?" I murmured, still hung up on that issue.
"Yeah, well that's probably the downside to this parenting style, I basically raised myself with their guidance. I don't really seek out their help all that much since they taught me how to problem solve on my own, so they feel comfortable leaving me alone a lot, or at least with Artemis around." The blonde gestured to the white cat sleeping on the couch in the den. "They only left yesterday when I picked up Artemis from quarantine. If he had been kept longer, they would've put off their trip, they don't like leaving me completely alone."
"Well I guess I can't judge them too harshly then, they're doing the best they can, which is what most parents do," I conceded.
"Exactly," the blonde replied, smiling. She picked the box back up again and started up the stairs. "Could you grab another box and follow me. I'm still sorting through all of the crap I shipped her from Japan. I can't believe I have all of this junk, why did I think I needed like three beanbags? Or any beanbags, at all?"
I grabbed a box and followed after the blonde girl chuckling, listening to her complain about having too many beanie babies. "Well your room is looking nice," I commented, taking in the organized half and trying to ignore the other half that looked like a junk store threw up inside the room.
"It's, it's going slowly," Mina sighed. "Just set the box down wherever, I'll get back to this later. So where do you want to go?"
"I'm not sure, I haven't been to this part of town recently, but I know I'm starving, know any place nearby with good food?" I asked, setting the box down precariously on a stack of boxes.
"Of course I do," Mina scoffed, tugging me out of her room. "There's a fantastic pub a few blocks down with really good fish n' chips. I've been there a few times since I've been home actually."
"That sounds delicious right now." We left Mina's house and walked the few blocks over to the pub and settled into an out of the way booth, both of us ordering a basket of fish n' chips.
"So you got everything settled with where you're going to live when you move to Paris?" Mina asked me once our food arrived at the table.
"Yeah, actually my brother's girlfriend's best friend lives in Paris part of the year and has a spare room. So long as I was okay with living with a dog when she came back, it was cool for me to move in. Actually, I'm going to be working with her too, Stella Parker, she's kind of my hero, a rising star in the classical music field."
"That's awesome right?" Mina asked, her mouth full of chips. She swallowed, her eyes bulging slightly as she grabbed for her water and gulped down half of a glass. "Oh that's better," she sighed.
I fought down my laughter as I ate my own chips, one at a time though. "Yeah, it is really awesome. I can't wait to meet her, she should be back in Paris sometime in October. She told me some of her friends live in the same building and she's asked them to help me settle in."
"I'm super excited for you Michelle, this is us, finding new lives and making our own futures, without having to work towards some creepy, utopian future. How boring is that?"
"Yeah, super boring," I replied, still not fully comfortable with letting go of that future, the future that I had worked so hard for, sacrificed so much for. I was willing to sacrifice someone else, myself, to work towards that future, so it was still hard for me to just let it go. I shook myself out of it when I felt Mina's eyes on me and I smiled weakly. "When do you start your new school year?"
"Next week," Mina replied. "I'm so ready, normally I dread starting school, but I can't wait in this case. It's exactly what I wanted to do and everything I wanted to learn, I'm so excited."
"Looks like we're both charging forward and making our own futures then," I said, raising my glass. "To a new future."
"To a new now," Mina corrected, raising her own glass. "Cheers."