24 Hours to Life
by Moon Momma
1:00 pm, Tokyo
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Saionji Rui, the young tennis player, stared down at her old tennis racquet, her eyes growing wide. "I - I remember. All I wanted was to win, no matter who I hurt. I was hungry to win; I put all my heart and all my energy into it -" She looked up at Nephrite, who was standing in the living room of her apartment. "You! I remember now. The young millionaire who was also a coach..."
The young woman had been waiting with the tennis racquet when he arrived at her house only a few minutes ago, after he finished quickly recording the radio advertisement. He hadn't expected her memories to start coming back so quickly. It was working; finally, things were going right. "I'm the one who encouraged you to develop that obsessive desire to win no matter what. I've come to offer you an apology. I did a lot of harm to you and to those you played against."
"I - What did you do to me?" she asked, starting to sound a little hysterical.
"It's hard to explain. That desire to win, the desperate energy you produced, it fed my ego to be able to encourage those reactions in you. I've changed now - Naru-chan can tell you that I've changed, and I do sincerely apologize, and wish to make some sort of reparations. Perhaps a donation to a center for young tennis players?"
"That would... that would be good," the young woman said, still sounding upset and bewildered. Then she moaned and collapsed to the floor in a faint.
Nephrite hadn't expected that. He crouched next to her and determined that her breathing, pulse, and temperature were normal and that she didn't seem to be in any pain. She must have just been overcome by the intensity of the returning memories.
He went outside and got in his car, and pulled away with a squeal of tires to his next destination.
* * * * * * * *
"I - I remember that you caught me when I slid down the cliff," Kijin, the young photographer, said. He was holding his old camera, the one that Nephrite had planted the youma Cameran in, and staring at it intensely as the memories came back. "But I'm afraid I don't remember seeing you after that."
"At that time I gave you the idea of photographing young women in swimsuits, and encouraged your curiosity and enthusiasm for it. I've finally come to realize that that was the wrong thing for you to be doing with your talents, and that it caused you a lot of trouble and embarrassment. I will be contacting the young women personally - as many as I can find, at least - to offer them a personal apology and whatever reparations are required. It happens that one of them is my girlfriend." How strange it felt to say that, but how good, too. "But I decided that I owe you the first apology, and I want to know if there is anything else I can do to make up to you for what I did. I realize that I nearly ruined your career."
"No, you didn't - I remember now, the incident made me step back and think about what I really wanted to accomplish as a photographer, and caused me to questions my ideals of true beauty. I believe it even made me into a better photographer. But if you can apologize to the young women who were troubled, I would appreciate it. And if you would buy some of my photographs to display in your offices, with a card stating where prints can be purchased."
"I'll be glad to do that, once I've reorganized my business after my extended absence. I have another appointment I have to keep in a few moments, but I'll be sure to come back within a few days to select some prints to display in my offices." If he was still here in a few days, Nephrite thought.
"Thank you," the young man said. "I - I feel dizzy -" He let out a low moan and collapsed to the floor. As he had with the tennis player, Nephrite made sure he was all right, then left to meet Usagi at Kiyama Mika's home.
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