Dejana's Writing

Forgotten Friends
a Sailormoon fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-

"...and so, with those sentiments, I offer a toast: To my dear friend Mamoru, and his lovely new wife, Usagi. May they create many more happy memories together."

With these final words Motoki raised his fluted champagne glass as he stood behind the table reserved for the wedding party, and tried not to blink as the sparkles from dozens of other moving goblets assaulted his eyes. He glanced at the golden liquid swirling gently within the glass in his hand, his eyes locked on the rising bubbles as he held a warm smile on his face.

Completing the toast and fulfilling his duty as Best Man, Motoki lifted the goblet to his lips and drew a mouthful of the liquid, its cool crispness tingling on his tongue. Around him, the rest of the guests did the same.

Nodding to the bride and groom, Motoki reclaimed his seat. Turning in his chair Mamoru gave his friend a warm smile, silently thanking his Best Man for the heart-warming speech he had given. Motoki returned the smile - and held it firmly throughout the remainder of the reception, until the muscles of his face were stiff and aching.

He was happy for his friend Mamoru. At last, he was finally married to the woman he loved so dearly. Motoki recalled how annoyed Mamoru had been by the blonde-haired woman at first, and laughed inwardly at the irony of the pair turning out to be soulmates. Mamoru had often complained that Usagi irritated him, when the lovers first met.

For that matter, Mamoru had often talked with Motoki about similar things...before he and Usagi became a couple. Since his dark-haired friend had admitted his love for the dumpling-haired bundle of energy, Motoki had seen less and less of him. After Mamoru returned from America and formalized his engagement to Usagi, he barely found any time at all for his blond friend. Now that they were married, Motoki knew their friendship was likely to completely evaporate into mist.

Despite these thoughts, the Best Man kept a pleasant smile on his lips throughout the dinner. Afterwards, when the dancing had started, it became easier for him to distance himself from the rest of the wedding party. Motoki danced as few songs as he could without appearing rude, and spent much of the rest of his time standing in the shadows against the walls, allowing the false smile to fade from his face.

He and Mamoru had been so close once. Every little problem and source of stress had been a shared burden between them. Motoki had always been the first person Mamoru would turn to when he needed someone to talk to. The blond student had been the only person who knew that beneath Mamoru's cool, collected, strong exterior there lurked a troubled man with worries and hopes just like everyone else's.

Around the time Usagi had entered their lives, Mamoru had started to become distant. Motoki knew he hadn't been sleeping well, but his friend had declined to share his nightmares with him. The dark-haired man had developed dark circles under his eyes and began to miss study sessions, and was often absent in the evenings with no explanation. Motoki had made his best effort to be as patient and supportive as he could, but inside, his heart was sickened. For the first time, his dear friend had been keeping secrets from him.

Motoki had hoped that eventually Mamoru would remember that he could trust his blond classmate, but the distance had only grown since then. Motoki had known that his friend was in love with Usagi, and that he likely confided in her lately when something was bothering him. Unwilling to disturb Mamoru's happiness with his new love, Motoki had kept his disappointment and pain to himself.

Now, as he stood against the wall in his stiff black tuxedo, a red rose pinned to the lapel, Motoki looked at his old friend dancing with his new wife and saw a complete stranger. It had been many years since Motoki had felt close to the dark-haired man, and yet he had still been chosen as Best Man for his wedding. Watching the newlyweds twirl gently across the floor, lost in their own world of bliss, Motoki knew that Mamoru did not even realize how deeply he had wounded his best friend.

The blond man leaned back against the wall. He could no longer fake a smile. He wanted to be happy for Mamoru, and yet his heart was so heavy that he felt as if he could not remain standing. Happiness filled the air, but none of it could touch the emptiness within Motoki's heart.

Reika approached him then, the slight blush of alcohol and the exhilaration of dancing tinting her cheeks. She had been enjoying herself with the other guests, but now she spotted her boyfriend confining himself to the shadows. Concerned, she approached, and noticed the sadness that he couldn't banish into hiding.

"Do you want to leave now?" she asked Motoki gently, touching his arm.

The blond man shook his head solemnly. "You're having fun. Stay as long as you want to." He studied Reika carefully, and judged her only slightly intoxicated. "Keep the car to drive yourself home, but don't have anything more to drink, okay?"

"Are you sure?" Reika inquired, looking into Motoki's eyes, trying to judge his pain. "If you want to talk..."

"Really, I'll be okay," Motoki insisted, pressing the car keys into Reika's hand. "I feel like taking a walk anyway. I'll be fine when you get home, I promise." Leaning forward, Motoki brushed Reika's lips lightly with his own, then turned and slipped out the door.

Walking away from the reception hall, the music and sounds of celebration rapidly faded away to silence. Motoki trudged down the street alone, his hands buried in the pockets of the tuxedo. His head was bowed, weighed down beneath the pressure of his thoughts. He and Mamoru had been so close, once. What had happened to their friendship?

He did not blame Usagi. Mamoru's distant behavior had begun shortly before he met the blue-eyed girl. Motoki searched his memory. If only he could find some clue, some indication of what had soured their relationship. If only he could identify what he had done wrong, what mistake he had made that caused Mamoru to stop trusting him. He knew he would feel much better if he only knew the reasons behind this loss.

The darkening sky was cloudy, the setting sun invisible behind the growing masses of moisture. Motoki's steps were heavy and slow, and soon he felt the first few raindrops strike his blond hair. He continued walking steadily as the rainfall increased, heedless of the downpour that soon ruined his tuxedo. All the rain in the world could not stir him from the heaviness in his heart. The thoughts kept circling around in his head, guilt over the loss of his best friend combined with guilt over his inability to be happy on his wedding day. His blond hair became matted down with rain, the splattering drops masking the tears on his cheeks.

As Motoki rounded a corner, he nearly bumped right into someone. Raising his heavy head, he found himself looking down into the tear-streaked face of Osaka Naru. She was soaked by the storm also, her elegant dress waterlogged and clinging to her arms and legs. Her normally curly hair was plastered to the sides of her head, and she breathed unsteadily, fighting the sobs that had covered her cheeks in tears.

For a moment they stared at each other, two pairs of startled overflowing eyes meeting each other's gaze. Motoki didn't understand at first. Why would Naru be so sad on the day of her friend Usagi's wedding? She had been at the ceremony and reception, just as he himself had been, and she had seemed as happy as anyone else...

Then it occurred to him. Usagi and Naru had been best friends when Motoki had first met them...but today, there had been no room for Naru among the bridesmaids of Usagi's wedding party. Over the years, other friends had taken Naru's place in Usagi's heart.

As the rain roared in their ears, soaking their bodies to match the pouring tears within their hearts, Motoki looked at Naru and found a mirror to his own suffering. Within her pain, he found understanding.

"Would you like to join me?" he asked hesitantly, his voice shaking with the emotions he was struggling to contain.

Naru could not speak, nearly choking on the tears that filled her throat, but she nodded nervously, her whole body quaking with the chill of the rain.

The two forgotten friends walked down the road together, side by side, heedless of the rain that poured down around them. Neither one spoke. No words were needed.

The End
Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon and its associated characters and canon are the property of Naoko Takeuchi and Kodansha.
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