By: Krys Bear
Note: This story depics two girls in love (Makoto and Minako). If you have a problem with that please evolve.
Disclaimer: The Sailor Moon characters are not mine. I'm just using them for my own romantic pleasure. I promise I'll put them back as soon as I'm done with them.
Purgatory - The realm between heaven and hell where the soul awaits judgement.
When I reached the underground parking lot of my apartment complex, I forced myself to stop for a minute. Stop, breathe, and avoid thoughts about actions that would land me in jail. As a martial artist, you'd think I'd be able to keep my cool under anything. And sometimes I can. But since this isn't one of those times, I know I have to gather myself before I unleash myself on the unsuspecting driving public.
My hands clenched into fists, I made my way across the lot over to my spaces. I have two modes of transportation, a lifted jeep, custom designed to be higher than standard, and pianted yellow with the word 'Tonka' across the side. Yes, I drive an oversized toy that no one else in high and mighty Tokyo would be caught dead in. But I like it, and Minako loves it. I probably got it just for that reason, if i'm real honest with myself...
No mind. Don't go there. Don't make me lay the smack down on you.
Then there's my ticket to the stars.
My Kawasaki Ninja. Black and silver, with a maximum speed that makes you feel like you're flying.
It was Haruka who got me into these things. 'Crotch rockets', she called them. She always was pretty damn raw about things.But I liked that about her. She didn't sugar coat things, like everyone else did. She was honest to the point of brutality.
A lot of people have misconceptions about the relationship between me and Haruka. I suppose that's because I never really explained it to anyone, and they were left to just think what they wanted. Well first off, I was _not_ in love with her. She fascinated me, but not on a sexual level. Here was this woman, living her life as a man, and doing so fucking well at it that even men were envious. She was strong, confident, and sharp. Women fell all over her. STRAIGHT women fell all over her. She knew what she was, and wasn't ashamed of it in the least. Unlike me.
I didn't want to be WITH her. I wanted to be LIKE her.
I struggled everyday to find out just who Kino Makoto really was. I wanted to be strong, but I also wanted to be accepted. I was born with incredible strength and height, and for a long time I cursed it. I believed that I would be alone forever because of it. No man wants to be with a woman who can beat the tar out of him. They just can't take that. So I tried to step back a little, and downplay my macho side. But I was never happy. I felt just as lost as ever.
So then I meet Haruka, who, as I mentioned earlier, was completely abnormal in a lot of ways, but perfectly happy being such. She's the only woman I've seen who's taller than me, (though that's not by much) and nothing ever seemed to bring her down. I was infatuated with the possibilities she represented, not with her. And as I got to know her a little better, I started to understand that no matter how much I tried, I couldn't be the ideal woman. Not just because of my physical attributes, but because when I really looked inside of myself, it wasn't in me.
She saw it long before I did. She knew a lot of things before I did.
Not long before her and Michiru flew off to Europe, she sat down and had a talk with me. This was three years ago now, but I still remember it like yesterday. I'll never forget what she said, because it changed my life forever. 'Makoto', she said, 'when are you going to get your goddam act together?'
I had been bewildered by this, and a little stung as well. 'What do you mean? I've been on my own for years, and I do pretty damn well-'
'That's not what I meant, Kino. And you know it.'
Haruka can be a little obscure sometimes, so I was a little unsure. I wanted this spelled out for me. 'Well just what do you mean then, Haruka.?' My voice had a bit of an edge to it. This sounded too close to an insult.
She sighed and shook her head. 'I mean, when are you finally going to realize you're not happy trying to live out everyone else's ideals?'
I didn't know what to say to this. I had a pretty good idea of what she was getting at, but it wasn't something I felt ready to discuss. I hoped she would take my silence as an indication of that. She didn't.
'Makoto, you remind me of myself when I was young and confused. Sometimes I feel like I'm looking into a mirror when I see you. There are differences...but one thing remains the same between us. We are not like everyone else. And we can't live the way they do. No matter how hard we try, we'll never succeed. It's not in us.'
I looked down at the tabletop, feeling my cheeks grow hot. She knew. She understood, and now, she was calling me out.
'Makoto. You just tell me if I'm wrong. You want me to shut up, just look up at me and say 'No Haruka, I'm happy being this way.' And I'll back off. But before you try to tell me that, just keep in mind one thing. It takes one to know one. And I've seen how you look at Minako.'
I was mortified. I expected her to figure some things out, being around me so much and being so quick witted. But that...that was my soul's secret. Nobody was supposed to ever figure that out. I felt completely and utterly exposed. 'You don't know shit, Haruka. I don't look at her as anything more than she ever will be to me. And I'm not like you. I can't ever be like you.'
She arched an eyebrow. 'And why is that?'
'Because you have something I could never have. You have a charisma that I could never imitate. You're smooth, successful, and elegant at the same time. Even she looks at you....'
'Sometimes I hate you Haruka.' And it was true. When I saw the way Minako looked at her, even though she was a girl, I did hate her. She had everything....and I felt I was nothing.
She was quiet for a few seconds. 'It's not me you hate, Mako-chan. It's yourself. And it would stop, if you would just quit lying to your heart.'
It was only after she said that to me, that I started to change myself. My life. I broke free from the invisible shackles of expectation that had been binding me for years, and set myself free. I threw out my gaudy, overly feminine clothes and started a new wardrobe based on my own comfort. A lot of it being male oriented. I stopped wearing my mismatched makeshift school uniform, and began wearing a male's instead.
Oh sure, I got a few snickers and stares, but that wasn't anything new. If they were going to talk about me anyways, may as well give them a good reason to.
Grinning a little at the welcome memory, I stepped back into the present. I started to pull on my helmet, but then decided I didn't care enough to bother, and threw it aside instead. I'm a good rider, and if I get hit....
Scary. I don't even care about living all that much right at this particular moment. When I pull out of this, I'm sure I'll be very disturbed about that.
But for now, fuck the world, and anyone who gets in my way.
Tiger Alley, to the untrained eye, is just another bar on the bad side of Juuban. Somewhere for the fishermen to go after they dock for the night, and blow all of the money they just made. However, if one took a moment to look a little closer, they'd notice right off that this is not just some wharf pub. There's absolutely no fishermen even near it. Hell, there's no men in it at all.
To be politically correct, it's an alternative bar.
To be honest, its Tokyo's very own lesbian heaven.
Now before you go thinking something you shouldn't be, no, this is not a regular hangout spot for me. Truthfully, this is only the third time I've been here. And I wouldn't even be here now if Stevie was at home instead of working. But she's not. So here I am.
Other than the fact this bar works with female clientele only, there's no difference between it and the pub down the street. As soon as you open the doors, you're bombarded with smoke and noise. Usually I hate it, but tonight I find comfort in it. It means that I'm not the only one suffering a heartache, and the selfish part of me likes that. Coughing a little, I make my way through the crowd to the bar, and take a seat on one of the stools, looking down at my reflection in the counter.
Maybe it's better this way. You're two very different people...at least now, you can always picture it as something perfect that never was. If you had tried it with her, and it didn't work out, then you wouldn't have anything to hold on to. Not even an illusion.
I looked up to a pair of playful green eyes, under a set of messy blond bangs, and couldn't help but grin a little. "Stevie."
"Ah, the invisible wonder remembers my name!" She broke out into a laugh. "Where the hell ya been? What brings you to me happy little dump?"
My mouth opens, and I start to tell her. I try to, I really do. But for some reason I can't...and I just freeze. I then realize that the reason I'm having so much trouble is because I haven't come out and told anyone about this yet. The closest I've ever been is telling Usagi that the rose she was admiring was a present for Minako.
I have no idea what to say. Luckily for me though, I don't have to say a word.
"It's a woman, isn't it?"
I cough and turn away, feeling embarassed even though I have no reason to be. I guess I'm still just shy about this whole thing, and although I've discovered the beauty of being honest with myself, being honest with other people is still another story.
I could hear the smile in her voice without seeing it. "It is." She leaned forward and pinched my cheek as if I were a five year old. "Makoto's finally coming out, and she's got a crush! Oh, please tell me this was because of my influence on you!"
I sighed. If only it was that simple. "It's...not exactly like that...and no, it's not because of your influence on me."
Stevie pouted. "So I didn't turn you?"
I shook my head. "Nope. Sorry...I know you were looking forward to that all expenses paid trip to Hawaii from Gays 'R' Us."
She smacked my arm playfully. "You could have at least pretended! But really....you're not lookin so hot, Mako. And believe me, I notice these things. Not just because I'm a bartender either, but because I'll have you know I've checked you out more than once-"
My face hit the counter top, hiding my blush. I'd been pining over Minako so long, it never even occured to me that any other women would pay any attention to me. Kami knows the one who I crave attention from most wasn't giving it to me. I swallowed. "Umm...go easy on me here Stevie. This...is all sort of new..."
She patted my hand. "Sorry. I was just messin with ya. You're cute, but not quite my type. Didn't mean ta spook ya." She turned to pour some sort of exotic drink, and then placed it in front of me. "Now how about you drink this, cool down, and then tell me what exactly is goin' on." Once Stevie got past goofing off, she took care of business. She'd been that way for as long as I'd known her.
"Well, you're the expert. How about you guess and I'll see just how good you are at this whole deduction bit."
She scowled a little. "Smartass! But alright...I'll take you up on that little challenge. Judging from your posture...." she leaned in a little, "....and haunted look in your eyes....fact you rode here without wearing a helmet...." She paused for a moment. "I don't believe it. You fell for a straight girl."
I blinked, and felt my jaw drop.
She clucked her tongue and looked at me sympathetically. "Makoto honey, you know that's rule number one. Never fall for a straight...all they'll do is tear you up."
I looked down into my drink, and considered downing a few of them. Then I remembered my chicken cake, and pushed it away. It was probably the last thing I needed.
"Is she someone I know?"
"Huh? Oh...no...I don't think so."
"Well I can tell you one thing, Mako. Really....anyone who'd turn you away, you're probably better off without. You've got more going for you than anyone else in this entire bar. Besides me of course. But hey, that's just because I'm a God."
If I wasn't suddenly feeling sick to my stomach, I would have laughed. Instead I just snorted and turned away.
"Hey. Don't give me that, Makoto. You know as well as I do you have a lot to offer. You're strong, in great shape, good looking....a lot of people would sell their souls to have just one of those things. Not only that, your financial future is set too. You own your own apartment, vehicle, and whatever else was left to you. You're starting your own business...most people have to work a long time to get any of that."
That's another misconception about me a lot of people have. They seem to think that just because my parents left me a healthy inheritance when they died, I don't know what it's like to do an honest days work. It's true I've never had to work for financial reasons, but I did take my turn at holding a job. In fact, I only quit three months ago, when I received the funding I needed to open my restaurant.
I had worked at one of the more elite Japanese restaurants in town, as nothing more than a lowly dishwasher. With no professional experience as a chef under my belt, there was no way they would even look at hiring me for anything else. But I knew I needed to get in somewhere, so I could learn enough to help me when I ran my own. Even though I was usually swamped with dishes to clean, I still managed to pick up a lot about the business working there. People never cared about what they said in front of a dishwasher. It was like I was invisible.
I remember how shocked the gang was when I told them I was cleaning dishes. They couldn't believe I wasn't hired on as head chef the moment I walked in, but then again, none of them really understood business that well. They came to visit me at work sometimes. Minako came to visit me a lot too. It was always hard for me to control my temper when she did though, because the moment she walked through the back door, most of the staff was hitting on her every spare moment. She took it in stride though, and surprisingly, never let herself get distracted by any of them. I remember once one of the chef's asked her what she was doing there visiting the dishwasher, when she could be visiting him instead. Minako just smiled sweetly at this, and replied 'well, as far as I can tell, the dishwasher has a lot more manners than you, so I'll stay right where I am.'
I bit my lower lip and closed that door in my mind.
There is a time and place for everything.