Slow Process to Redemption
by Keren Olivero
* * * * * * * *
Shingo didn't see Mika at school the next day. He went straight over to her house after the final bell. He didn't believe she would skip school just because she was angry with him. 'I hope everything is all right with her,' thought the young boy as he rang the door bell.
"Yes?" answered Mrs. Kayama.
"Hi Mrs. Kayama. It's Shingo Tsukino."
"Wait just a moment."
Shingo heard footsteps coming towards the door. Mrs. Kayama opened it. "Hello, Shingo. How are you? What brings you here today?" she asked.
Shingo didn't expect Mika's mother to be this warm towards him. He wondered if she even knew about the misunderstanding between him and Mika. Or maybe she knew but decided to let them work it out themselves. "I'm fine thank you. I just came to see how Mika is doing, since she was absent from school today."
Mrs. Kayama had a distressed look on her face. "Shingo…Mika has been making dolls day and night. I've told her to stop, but she won't listen. She has changed. I don't know what to do."
The little boy believed she was acting like that because she was mad at him. 'What would Usagi say if she knew I missed apologizing to Mika? I have to get through to her.' "I'll try to talk to her," he said.
Mrs. Kayama let Shingo inside towards Mika's room, which was closed and locked. "Mika, Shingo is here to see you."
"I don't want to see him again," Mika replied coolly.
Shingo was stunned, but would not be deterred. "Mika, I want to talk to you! I have something to tell you!"
"Go away and leave me alone!" yelled Mika.
Mrs. Kayama gave Shingo a sympathetic look. "I apologize for my daughter's behavior."
But Shingo shook his head. "It's okay, Mrs. Kayama. It was my doing." He left before Mika's mom could say anything. 'Oh well. I tried my hardest so I don't care what Usagi thinks. If I came to apologize and Mika wouldn't listen, it wouldn't be my fault I didn't get to say sorry. Hopefully she won't even ask.'
* * * * * * * *
Shingo went into his parents' library for some alone time. He was so frustrated about this whole thing; he didn't bother picking up a book to read. He just sat there and moped. He didn't intend to leave there until it was his bedtime.
'Oh what am I going to do? What if Mika never speaks to me again?' wondered the little boy. 'It's already hard enough to regain the respect of her friends.'
Just then, Usagi entered the library, holding a chalice of fruit juice. She had seen her brother looking distressed when he came back home, and she didn't like that. She had opted to give him some time alone, but she was desperate to know if apologizing to Mika was successful. "Shingo, here you go," she said, placing the cup in front of her younger brother.
Shingo didn't even particularly care to see his sister at the moment. "What do you want? Are you here to torment me, like you always do?"
"No, it's nothing like that," answered Usagi, giving Shingo a surprised look. "I am just concerned for you. Why do you look so down, anyway? You apologized to Mika, didn't you?"
"Well I—" Shingo wasn't sure how to say he hadn't. He didn't want to lie about it. 'Just tell her the truth about what happened. No need to feel ashamed. You tried your best,' said a voice in his head. "I went there to do it this afternoon, but she wouldn't come out and talk to me. She's not even listening to her mother and is making dolls nonstop. " Shingo was thirsty all of a sudden. He took the glass of juice and gulped it all down.
Contrary to the chewing out Shingo expected to get from Usagi, what she gave him was a sympathetic look. This surprised him. "You tried your best and for that I am proud of you," she said to him.
That was something Shingo didn't expect to hear. "You are?"
"Yes. Your best is all that matters to me."
"Oh. I'm glad." Shingo had to admit, he enjoyed this side of his elder sister.
"It's so weird Mika has changed so much."
"It is," agreed Shingo. "She used to be so nice. This is not like her. Did I hurt her feelings that much?"
"I have an idea," said Usagi. "Why don't you give her a really nice present? Girls love presents."
Shingo never thought about that. He wasn't sure if it would make his friend forgive him, but he was so desperate that he decided a present would be worth a try. "Maybe."
"That's the spirit." Usagi patted her brother on the shoulder and left the library. 'I don't think he's up to eating dinner with us. I think I'll bring dinner to him instead.'
* * * * * * * *
Usagi was sitting on her bed, thinking about what Shingo told her. 'Oh, I wish I can do something to help patch up the situation. It's frustrating seeing Shingo so down. I suppose I could talk to Mika myself, but who says she would listen to me, considering she won't even listen to her mom?'
Luna climbed onto the bed, next to Usagi, and noticed her serious expression. "Usagi-chan, what's wrong? What are you thinking?"
"I didn't tell Shingo-kun this, but I'm concerned for Mika. She hasn't been her usual self lately."
"My my, Usagi-chan, you're so intuitive today," remarked Luna.
Usagi ignored Luna's tone of voice in that comment. "I really want to help save the friendship between Mika and Shingo, but at the same time, cursed dolls sound so interesting."
Shivers went through Luna's tail. "Oh, spare me the scare tactics. I suspect the Dark Kingdom has a hand in this. We need to keep an eye on Mika."
Usagi had a feeling her guardian would say that. "I suppose you're right. We should have Rei and Ami investigate the situation. "
"Usagi! This is your mission, too, you know."
"I got it. I was just joking."
"You'd better be. Call the other girls and tell them about the situation."
"Awww, do I have to?" whined the blonde. A hard look was all the feline guardian would give her, which meant no room for questioning. "Okay okay I'll do it." Usagi dashed off to call her friends.
* * * * * * * *
(few days later)
After school, the three senshi headed over to the Juuban Art Museum to begin their investigation. On that particular day, it was very quiet.
'Oooh, this is going to be so boring…I can tell,' thought Usagi, scratching her head. 'But I promised Shingo I would help him patch up his friendship with Mika.'
"There is nothing suspicious so far…in fact, it is very quiet," said Ami.
"We won't find any clues right now," Rei agreed. "Maybe we'd better investigate somewhere else, like Mika's house. Do you know where she lives, Usagi?"
"Yeah. But I doubt Mika would talk to us. Shingo told me she had been skipping school lately."
"I see." Ami glanced up and saw the advertisement for the private doll exhibition that would take place the very next day. "The doll exhibit. Surely she will be there. We should go as well. It will be the perfect opportunity for us to investigate, especially if the Dark Kingdom does strike."
"Sounds super, Ami," said Usagi. Luna and Rei looked at her in surprise. For as long as they could remember, she always balked at sailor business.
'What brought on this change?' Rei wondered to herself. 'Not that I am complaining. It's time she took her duties more seriously.'
* * * * * * * *
Shingo had just finished playing one of his favorite games at the arcade, and was now about to leave. He felt slightly better and decided he just would make his best friend a present. 'I'm sure it'll be a good enough way to apologize…but then again, maybe she'll do the same thing to me that I had done to her. This might not be such a good idea after all.'
The young boy shook his head to rid it of all the pessimistic thoughts. 'What am I thinking? Of course she will forgive me one day. She's not the type to stay mad for the rest of her life.' He furrowed his brow in thought. 'I wonder what type of present I should give her.'
Just as Shingo was passing the arcade, he caught a glimpse of the Sailor V poster. It brought back to memory a conversation he and Mika had during happier times.
Mika and Shingo had just finished playing the new Sailor V video game and both of them took a liking to it even though the game was quite challenging.
"Sailor V is nice, but I like Sailor Moon better," said Mika.
"I do, too," agreed Shingo."
That conversation gave Shingo an idea of a present, one he knew Mika would like. 'I know what I should give her!' he thought. 'It wouldn't be as good as the dolls she makes but I can be satisfied knowing I did my best.' He raced home to get started.
* * * * * * * *
After having an afternoon snack, Shingo was seated at his desk in his room. His desk was covered with old newspapers and all the necessary art supplies were scattered all over it. He took some clay and proceeded to mold it into the shape of a human. Since he was no expert at making dolls, some parts were rather difficult to get just right.
Just as Shingo was shaping up the hair, Usagi walked in. 'Oh great. Now what does this knucklehead want?' He felt a sudden urge to hide the doll, for fear his big sister would make fun of it. But he wasn't fast enough.
"Hey there little brother, what are you doing?" asked the blonde.
"I'm working on something." Shingo studied his sister's facial expression. She wasn't laughing or anything, but he couldn't be positive that she wouldn't burst into laughter.
"On what? A present for Mika?"
"It's so cute! You did a great job."
Shingo's eyes widened in surprise. "Do you really think so?"
"I sure do. What gave you the idea to do a stuffed pig?"
Shingo groaned. His sister's ditziness never ceased to amaze him. "It's Sailor Moon."
"Sorry…but it's so hard to tell. If the real Sailor Moon saw it, she would cry."
'Rats! I knew I should have hidden it!' "It's the thought that counts! The thought!"
Usagi rolled her eyes at her younger brother. "I know that, silly! And I'm glad you've learned that, too. " She good-naturedly ruffled Shingo's hair and left the room.
'I forgot what a good sister she can be, even if she's a goof,' thought Shingo. He finished molding the shape of Sailor Moon and rested it down to dry. 'I will paint it later. Hopefully it'll be ready by tomorrow.'
* * *
* * * * * * * *
Mamoru and Rei were walking to the art museum together. Mamoru hadn't been entirely thrilled with the idea of going to a doll exhibition but with a bit of coaxing from Rei, he agreed to go. "I know this probably sounds like a weird thing to do, but this is a very special event," the fire senshi told Mamoru.
The ebony-haired young man didn't say anything, just continued walking along with Rei. He doubted what she said would make him enjoy the exhibit any better. 'However, I'm going just for her.'
Just as promised, Nephrite had showed up for the exhibition, along with his henchwomen. They had been looking forward to the event for some time, so showing up late was not an option for either of them. Nephrite and the trio of youma went to look for dolls made by Mika Kayama and her mother. It didn't take them long to find the dolls. They were practically everywhere.
"Oh wow, this human handiwork is amazing!" Yukari exclaimed softly, peering down at Mika's dolls.
"How right you are, sister," agreed Miki. "This Mika girl is going to become as wonderful a designer as her mother is. "
"Generally I am not particularly fond of this kind of art, but I have to admit that this is what you call a masterpiece," said Ruby.
Yukari glanced at her twin, giving her a look that said, 'I am surprised she was looking forward to this event considering she usually thinks doll making is too girlie for her.'
Miki returned a look that said, 'I know. But as you know, duty is duty.'
Just then, Mrs. Kayama walked up to Nephrite and his henchwomen. "Well, hello there. How are you enjoying the exhibition thus far?"
"Congratulations!" said Nephrite. "Your show is a success."
"Keep up the great work," added Ruby.
"Thank you very much!" said Mrs. Kayama.
"Where's Mika?" asked the chestnut haired shitennou. He hoped the young girl hadn't backed out.
Mrs. Kayama got a sad expression on her face when she answered, "She is finishing her last doll in the waiting room. I'm afraid she has been working much too hard."
That was news to Nephrite. "Is that right?" He hid an evil smirk. 'Perfect. This means her energy is nearing its peak! Surrender your energy to the great Metallia!'
"I'll go speak with her," said Yukari.
"Thank you very much," said Mrs. Kayama. "By the way, what is your name?"
"You may call me Yukari. And this is Miki and Ruby," answered the brunette, pointing out the other two youma.
"It's nice to meet you," said Mrs. Kayama. She reached out and took Yukari's hand, shaking it. Yukari was a bit taken aback, but obliged.
'Oh my...this young woman's hand is as cold as ice,' thought Mika's mother.
"Likewise. Now if you'll excuse me." Yukari headed for the waiting room. 'I can't believe I shook that mortal woman's hand—what will Master Nephrite think?'
'I've no time for foolish distractions. There is work to be done,' thought Nephrite. He started to walk away. Miki and Ruby followed him.
Over in another corner, Rei was showing Mamoru some dolls. "This one is nice, isn't it?" she asked.
Mamoru's facial expression was blank. "I'm sorry Rei. What was that?"
"This doll is by the artist," said Rei. "Do you like it?"
Mamoru's expression changed into an embarrassed one.
"Am I boring you?" asked the raven haired girl, noting Mamoru's disinterested expression.
"It's not you," said Mamoru. "I just don't care too much for the art of doll making."
Now it was Rei's turn to look embarrassed. "Do you want to leave then?"
"No," answered the ebony-haired young man. "It is not that I hate it."
"Oh." Rei was relieved. "Well, let's go this way." She took Mamoru by the arm. Nephrite and two of his henchwomen were passing by. Mamoru felt a strange but familiar presence that forced him to stop short, his back touching Nephrite's.
"Did you want something?" Mamoru asked the chestnut haired shitennou.
"Pardon me. I thought you were someone else," answered Nephrite. He walked away, seeing that his youma were waiting patiently for him.
* * * * * * * *
Mika was working arduously on her final doll, just as her mother had told Nephrite. At this point, she was feeling more hyper than she was feeling before. 'Oh I wonder what that guy wants me to do after this.'
Just then, Mika heard the sound of the door opening. 'Whoever it is, this had better be good.' She turned around to see who it was. Standing there was a young woman she had never seen before. This woman was tall and thin, had long brunette hair streaked with platinum blonde that she wore in wild ringlets, and she was wearing a short navy blue dress.
'Wow. I wouldn't be able to wear anything like that for years. And she looks like she could be a model,' thought Mika, awed by this woman's beauty. "Who are you? And how can I help you?
"You may call me Yukari. And I have come to tell you how much I am enamored with your work," said Yukari.
"Well thank you," answered the young girl, not bothering to look up, for she was still working on the final doll.
Yukari eyed the doll Mika was working on. She gave a small smirk, though the little girl couldn't see it. 'Perfect. This little girl has fallen for Master Nephrite's trap. Her energy is nearly at its peak. I can feel it!' "Is doing these dolls too much for you? Are you weary?" asked the youma.
"No, not at all. In fact, I have not had more energy."
"That's good. In that case, keep going. You're almost there." 'You're close to having your energy zapped by Master Nephrite. Silly little child—she's so easy to fool.' "I'll leave you to your work." Yukari exited the room.
Mika worked to complete the design of the doll's face. She gave a satisfied sigh when it was done. 'Finished.' Just like with the previous dolls, the serious expression changed into a wicked smile and Nephrite's magical crest appeared on its forehead. Mika felt a major energy rush coming on.
A few moments later, Mika heard more footsteps, this time two pairs. "Mika, I brought you a present!" she heard a familiar voice scream.
* * * * * * * *
Nephrite could feel that it was time. "Her energy level has reached its peak. Arise, Jumou!" Conjuring the crystal ball, he made himself invisible, teleported to the waiting room of the art museum, sucked up Mika's energy and disappeared back to his mansion.
A collapsible, humanoid shaped doll youma with detachable limbs and a mop of dark green air emerged from Mika's final doll, giving an evil cackle. Mika collapsed from the energy loss.
"MIKA!" Shingo cried in horror. He proceeded to run to her.
Jumou laughed again, and knocked the young boy down. The force of her blow rendered him unconscious as well. He dropped the doll he had made for Mika in the process. The doll youma crushed it beneath her foot, smashing it to bits.
"Shingo!" screamed Usagi. 'Just great…another creepy monster.'
Luna saw that her suspicions were correct. "Usagi, you must transform right now!"
"Yeah, yeah, I was just going to do that!" said Usagi. "Moon Prism Power, Make Up!"
"Ha ha ha ha!" Jumou raised her hand, preparing to kill Shingo.
"Hold it right there!" cried a young girl's voice.
Jumou turned around sharply.
"Shame on you for destroying the doll Shingo worked so hard to make for Mika! And I'll never forgive you for using the art of doll making for your selfish, evil purpose! I'm the sailor senshi of love and justice, Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I'll punish you!"
Luna was dumbstruck. "Wow, what an eloquent speech. Is she really learning or is this just a show?"
Jumou looked at the moon senshi. 'So this is one of the nosy senshi Master Nephrite warned me about. She looks like such a weakling but I will not take any chances. One can never be too careful.' She used her telekinesis powers to move the dolls. They flew toward the blonde with their mouths open.
Sailor Moon guessed that the dolls Mika made intended to bite her. The dolls missed, and their eyeballs rolled round and round. The senshi of the moon jumped out the window. "Possessed dolls! Aaaaah!"
"Just great. She has gone into flake mode again," Luna groaned.
Jumou flew out after Moon. "I won't let you escape me!" She lunged toward the frightened teen.
The fog disoriented the doll youma long enough for Mercury and Mars to make their entrance.
"I thought I was a goner for sure," said Moon, breathing a sigh of relief.
"Are you all right, Sailor Moon?" asked Mercury.
"You're glad to see us, aren't you?" asked Mars.
Before Moon could answer, Luna cried out a warning. The senshi looked up to see why. Mika's dolls were flying towards the girls bearing their razor sharp teeth once again. Sailor Moon started quivering and whimpering once again.
Sailor Mars took out her odufa. "Rin, pyou, tou, sha, kai, jin, retsu, sai, zen. Akuryou taisan!" she chanted, throwing the scrolls onto the faces of the dolls. This was enough to rid them of the spell. They fell onto the ground.
"Great job, Mars!" said Sailor Moon. All of a sudden she felt a pair of detachable hands wrap around her neck, gripping it tightly.
"Oooh, someone help me! I can't breathe!" the blonde senshi begged hoarsely. She tried to pry the hands from around her neck, but it was no use.
"Sailor Moon! No!" Mars and Mercury cried in unison.
"Haha, your attacks are useless!" taunted Jumou, shooting her detachable arms at the two remaining senshi, only they were able to dodge the attack.
"Be careful! Her limbs are razor sharp like knives!" warned the senshi of fire. The monster's detachable arm nipped a strand of her hair.
Mercury shot a glance at Moon. Her face was turning blue. "We've got to save Sailor Moon. She's losing consciousness by the second!"
"Yes, you're right," agreed the senshi of fire. "But how?"
Sailor Mercury got out her mini-computer and started doing a bunch of calculations. "By scanning for structural weaknesses."
Sailor Mars felt like a fool for forgetting that option. "Yes, of course!"
"Yes, I've detected one in her ankle," announced the senshi of ice. "Sailor Moon, aim at her right foot!"
The blonde senshi was still struggling to get free from the youma's grip. "If only I could," she managed to croak out.
"Haha, you'll never get yourself free!" gloated Jumou.
Just as Sailor Moon felt like she was going to completely lose consciousness, a red rose struck the youma's weapon that had her trapped. She was finally free. 'Whew.'
Jumou glared at the one who dared to thwart her plan. It was a man dressed in a tuxedo and a cape, as well as a masquerade mask. "Who are you?"
"Tuxedo Kamen-sama!" Sailor Moon yelped excitedly.
"Sailor Moon! Your tiara!" Tuxedo Kamen reminded the young heroine.
"Right!" The senshi of the moon took off her tiara and hurled it at the youma's right Achilles, like Mercury told her to. "Moon Tiara Action!"
"AAAAAAH!" Jumou screeched in horror as the moon senshi's Frisbee weapon hit her on her only weak spot. Within seconds she was moon dust.
Shingo finally awoke, but Mika didn't. 'I wonder how long I was out of it.' The little boy looked around. 'Oh I remember now.' He saw Mika lying still and pieces of the Sailor Moon doll littering the floor. But what worried him more was Mika. "Oh no! Mika!" He shook her shoulders to get her to wake up. There was no hint of a response. "Oh no, what am I going to do?!"
A silhouette of Sailor Moon appeared. "Oh! Thank goodness you're awake, Shingo! But what's wrong with Mika?"
Shingo was too panicked to be shocked that he was talking to his idol. "I don't know. But she wouldn't wake up! I hope she's not dead!"
'Not again! It must be Nephrite's doing again. But how can it be that he gets away with it so easily? Wait until I get my hands on him!' Sailor Moon clenched her fists. 'Now now, remain calm. Your brother and Mika need you,' the blonde senshi said to herself. 'There is only one thing left to do. Hopefully Shingo doesn't figure out who I am.' She went inside the waiting room.
Shingo looked up. His hero was even closer than he thought. "Sailor Moon! Can you help?"
Sailor Moon maintained a kind but neutral expression on her face. "I sure can." She knelt next to Mika's unconscious form and took one of the young girl's hands, holding it firmly.
Shingo was bewildered. "What are you doing?"
"You'll see." The moon senshi continued the energy transfusion until she felt weakened. Sure enough, Mika began to stir. She opened her eyes.
"What's happened to me?" Mika wondered. She looked up and saw Sailor Moon sitting over her. "What's going on?"
"Don't worry about that. My friends and I taught the bad guys a lesson," replied the senshi.
"I see that. Thank you very much. You saved my best friend's life," said Shingo.
"It was my pleasure. Be good friends, you two. I must go now. See ya!" With a bit of difficulty, the senshi of the moon stood up and exited the art museum.
"I can't believe it! Sailor Moon saved us!" Shingo turned to his best female friend. "I made a present for you, and it is all smashed. I'm sorry about that."
"You made it for me?" Mika asked incredulously.
Shingo nodded. "I wanted to apologize for being such a jerk." He looked into Mika's eyes and was relieved to see that she didn't look angry at all.
"You don't have to apologize. What you did for me says more than any apology can say."
Shingo knew that he and Mika were best friends again.
* * * * * * * *
"Inconceivable!" said Nephrite, when he saw the stars disappearing. He knew that meant the senshi had foiled another one of his schemes. The fact that he still had the energy and he managed to have Mika in dire straits for awhile did very little to appease his displeasure.
"Those annoying germs…" growled Miki. She shot a glance at her master. He had that crease in his brow again. "Do you want me to hunt them down and get rid of them?"
"That won't be necessary," answered Nephrite. A new idea was coming to him...one that would involve doing his own vile bidding.
"Oh. Well then, will you be all right?"
"That I will. I have the perfect scheme to dispose of Sailor Moon forever."
"Oh?" Miki's olive-green eyes were full of curiosity. "What will you do this time?"
"I will strike her where it hurts most—by using her greatest weakness against her."
"Oooo. Very clever."
Nephrite remembered how badly Miki and her comrades wanted to be of assistance. "You, Ruby and Yukari will have an opportunity to help me this time."
Miki felt like she could jump up and down but remembered she was in the presence of her master. "I thank you, Master Nephrite."
* * * * * * * *
return to Index / go to Chapter 11
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury