Releasing the Spirit

[Releasing the Spirit is set four years after the last battle with Galaxia and the abolition of Chaos. It is written as if the first season of Sailormoon (Dark Kingdom) had never taken place. This writing also advocates the idea that the Senshi had romances with the Shitennou during the Silver Millennium.]

The ebony night was riven with violet cracks and torrents of blue rain. For days the Tokyo sky had been edged in an ominous grey, and tonight the full force of its fury was let loose upon the city. An ear-splitting snap emanated as another whip of lightning tore across the atmosphere.

Damn, Rei thought, Another tree has gone down. This storm is unforgiving! Already she had heard three loud snaps as the beautiful cedars surrounding her home fell. She hated to think how difficult restoration after the storm would be.
Rei lived a solitary life. After her grandfather died and the weight of maintaining a shrine was laden upon her back, Rei directed her energy toward becoming a priestess. She left college at the age of twenty to care for her grandfather's Shinto shrine. There were other reasons for her departure, but Rei kept them a closely guarded secret. Occasionally Rei wondered what life would have been like if her relative had not expired, but the fates had wrought their judgment and nothing could be done to change that. Rei didn't ponder such things now: her mind was on the storm.
"Please, please let this tempest lift," she whispered aloud.

"Damn this rain! It's like the whole sky let loose!" Jadeite hardly had time to complete his thought when another ribbon of light struck down. He had searched the vacant streets for any form of shelter, but businesses were closed and no passersby were to be seen. When Jadeite had left the bus station only an hour or so earlier, the grey-edged sky seemed somewhat dormant, like a starving wolf that, for a moment, has abandoned his chase and lay asleep. Unfortunately the wolf rose from sleep too soon.

Traveling for days on a crowded bus set Jadeite in an irritated mood. It was made worse by the storm and the fact that he had no plans of what to do. Jadeite was on what he called a soul-search. He had no family to speak of and for the past several months wandered aimlessly around the Far East. The young man encountered no problems finding a job or a woman for the night, but the adventurous side of his spirit cried out for something more. Why Tokyo seemed so appealing he couldn't accurately say. Someone or something was pulling him there.
The soaked fabric of his long-sleeved shirt clung to his body, contouring his muscular chest. The flaxen curls that caught the noonday sun and made women take second glances now hung limp. On the whole, Jadeite took the appearance of a back-alley mutt. His black bag was made heavier by the drenching rain. The radiant Apollo was shrouded in the dreary black of the present tempest.
Rounding a bend in the sidewalk, Jadeite tripped on haphazardly placed rocks and fell to his face as another rivet of thunder bellowed above. He knew with absolute certainty that the storm would claim him if he could not find shelter soon. Picking himself off the drowned sidewalk, Jadeite spied a building in the distance. It had the look of a shrine, and the weather-beaten man decided that if no other place would aid him, this surely would.

The glow of candles was a small comfort against the thunderstorm. Rei had placed the myriad of sparkling wicks around the perimeter of the bare room she chose to stay in for the duration of the storm. On any normal day the room would be used for meditation, but under the present circumstances, Rei thought it an ideal place to camp out. I'll bet Makoto is loving this storm, she thought. The thought frustrated her. They are all so happy. Why am I the last? It had been four years since the abolition of Chaos. The Senshis' mission was complete and slowly their abilities to transform left them. It was finality, a closure that the warriors experienced. The pathway to a bright future was carved and the Sailor powers the girls discovered years ago slipped from them.

A severe pounding at the front door interrupted Rei's silent meditations. She rose up startled, and when the beatings came again, made her way to their origin. Grabbing the brass fixture Rei pulled open the massive wooden door and stood staring into the dark hole of the doorframe. Her eyes were drawn to the weathered man leaning against the shrine's exterior and breathing heavily.
"Oh my God," Rei said under her breath. She moved aside and beckoned the stranger inside. With faltering steps he stumbled inside and Rei slammed the door shut behind him. Rei was slightly bewildered at this stranger standing inside her door. Who in their right mind would go out into a thunderstorm?
"Come this way," Rei directed him. He followed her into a large square room swimming in the light of candles. "Wait here," she said and turned down a dark hallway. Moments later Rei returned with several towels and a clean robe. "Put these on; I'll be back in a moment."
Jadeite stood for several seconds taking in the sight before him. He then peeled off his soaked clothes, placed them in a pile on the floor, and put on the robe the woman had brought for him. Looks like things are going pretty well so far, Jadeite thought to himself, a place to stay with a hot girl. Jadeite let his mind rummage through its trail of dirty thoughts when Rei appeared again with blankets and a pillow.
"You can sleep here tonight," she stated without emotion.
"Thank you, Miss...?"
"Rei."
"Nice to meet you, Rei-san." Jadeite bowed. "I am Jadeite."
"Nice to meet you, too," Rei said flatly. She didn't like the thought of a strange man staying at her house. "What brings you outside in the middle of a thunderstorm?"
"I hadn't planned on a storm. I just arrived here from Beijing, so I don't know my way around very well. Thank God I found this place in time."
Yes, thank God, Rei spat sarcastically. She laid the blankets on the floor and turned to leave. She could feel his eyes on her every moment, and it made her uneasy.
Jadeite watched as the gorgeous woman exited the chamber. He lay on the floor and fell asleep to the sound of the rain beating the earth outside.

The sun had not yet risen and Rei was in a foul mood. I've had to forfeit my room to a complete stranger, the electricity is still out, and I have no clue how to move these damn trees! The horizon was painted a light pink as the sun began its climb up the atmosphere. Clad in an old t-shirt and jeans with her raven locks tied back in a bun, Rei raked away disheveled leaves.

When a big pile formed Rei knelt down and spat a flame from the palm of her hand. The dead leaves ignited. Rei was the only Senshi left with her powers.
Usagi's power diminished first. She had Mamoru. Minako had been the second to loose contact with Sailorvenus. Makoto ran off with a man after high school and left the spirit of Sailorjupiter. Ami recently lost her Sailor powers as well. Why am I still able to commune with the spirit of Sailormars? The truth lay in her soul, but she could not dive through the depths to reach it.

When Jadeite rose the sky was painted a soft blue with little reminders of the past storm edging the horizon. The candles surrounding him were reduced to smoldering wicks. He sat up stretched, then opened the door and left the room. The air was still and warm. He wondered where Rei was. She's probably awake already, he mused. The clothes inside his black bag had miraculously remained dry. He dressed casually and decided to begin his stay at the shrine with a tour.

Every room in the place was similar. Sparse decor littered the rooms. One room in particular caught his attention. It was a smaller room located near the back of the building. In it was a low bed, a desk, and a dresser. A collage of papers covered the desk and the white sheets lay mussled. This must be her room, he thought with pleasure. Not having heard any other footsteps nearby, Jadeite slipped into the room. He leaned over the desk and glanced at the papers; nothing of particular interest resided there. The dresser pulled at his curiosity. He opened the top drawer. It was filled with shirts, and off to one side lay a small wooden box. Jadeite gingerly lifted the lid. Its contents were a few folded letters. Taking out the topmost one Jadeite unfolded it and scanned the page.
My dear Rei,
I am sorry . . . This life is too much right now . . . I think it would be best . . . I just need some time alone . . . I'm sorry.
So now it becomes interesting, Jadeite thought while putting the letter away.
Eventually Jadeite made his way to the back door. Behind the shrine lay a garden surrounded by majestic trees (or what remained of them). Jadeite spied Rei with a trash bag picking up debris. He stood marveling at her shape, her form, the contours of her legs. After letting his mind linger he walked over.
"Good morning, Rei," he said.
She turned. The sun hit her hair in such a way that purple diamonds ricocheted off of each black strand. The intensity of her violet eyes stunned Jadeite: he hadn't noticed them in the dim light of the previous evening. It was as if she could see through him, and that realization ashamed Jadeite. He looked away.
"Good morning," she replied, turning back to her work.
"Can I give you a hand?" he asked.
She stopped and turned her body towards him as if to see him in a better view. She spent a moment unspeaking, as if judging him, then simply said, "Yeah. There's an empty bag over there."
He promptly picked up the sack.
"So, you're new in Tokyo?" she questioned.
"Yeah, just came in from the mainland."
"What brings you to the city?"
"I'm not sure really. I just felt that I needed to come here."
His answer intrigued her. Soul-searching? she wondered. Lately Rei had been giving her life the same sort of thought. Was this what she really wanted? Of course she knew the answer, but pride would keep her from ever admitting it. It's curious this stranger feels the same, she thought.
"Looking for something, perhaps?" Rei ventured.
"I guess so."
"What are you searching for, Jadeite?" Her questions were so blunt, so honest, so true. Her nature was a challenge. It brought a sly smile to Jadeite's face.
"I don't know; my soul, I guess."
"Hmm." Rei didn't look up, but inside she was racing. It wasn't often that someone stopped by the Hikawa shrine for something other than business. It was a nice change to just have someone to talk to. Nevertheless, it still made Rei uneasy. If he weren't so damn good-looking! she cursed inwardly, and it was true.
"What are you searching for?" This time it was Jadeite to ask.
"Nothing: I have everything I need." It was a lie. If not, her powers would have been abolished.
"Is it everything you want?"
"That doesn't matter."
"I think it matters very much. I think you should let go of him. You should find someone new."
Rei spun her head around. "What? Who? What are you talking about?"
"You know. The bastard shouldn't have left you."
How dare this son-of-a-bitch pry into my personal affairs! Rei was steaming. She gave Jadeite a hard look, and, drawing back her hand, slapped him hard across the cheek. Throwing the half-filled sack to the ground Rei stormed inside.

Beads of sweat ran down her face. Fiercely she spat out the chat, alive with angry passion. The sacred flames before her mirrored her emotion. Her hopeful thoughts of a friend were shattered. That damn son-of-a-bitch!

The raven-haired woman concentrated hard on her thoughts. The flames, never lying, showed no danger in this stranger. In fact, they revealed the opposite: that his coming was somehow predestined. This news only made Rei pray deeper.
"I apologize."
Those two clear words piercing the silence startled Rei, and she gasped loudly. Angrily she turned. Jadeite stood in the doorway, a look of true sincerity on his face. "I apologize. It was wrong of me to pry."
"Damn right it was," Rei muttered under her breath. "You had no right to look through my things." She turned back to the flames.
Jadeite turned to go, but an overwhelming anger enveloped him. What was this girl trying to hide? Why the hell did he feel it was his responsibility to find out? None of the other women he stayed with made him feel this way. She was unlike any woman he had come across in his travels: this woman didn't want him for sex; and yet he didn't want her for that reason. "What is wrong, Rei? What happened?"
Tears began to well up in her eyes. "I thought I let you know very well today that I didn't want to discuss it!"
"I think you need to. Something happened that's holding you back, Rei! I've seen those eyes. I saw the sheltered soul in your eyes today. You cannot hide them. You cannot hide behind the past, Rei! You need to live again."
"You don't know what you see. Besides, it's none of your concern!"
"Yes, yes it is. There's something about you, Rei. You're different. I feel something in you. I feel you are my reason: what I have been searching for."
Rei stood. "Don't tell me that line. All you want is another whore. I've seen your life in the flames, Jadeite, and they do not lie. How many times have you said that line? How many women have you used? In a few days you'll be off. What will you leave me with, Jadeite?"
The harsh reality of those cold words fell like a huge stone upon Jadeite, pounding him into the ground. Every word she spoke rang with truth. But this time it really was different. This time his line spoke truly. How could he convince her of that with all that she had seen? He couldn't answer to such a cruel reality. Once again he turned to leave. In parting he said, "I know things too, Rei. I know what you desire. Why don't you just give in?"
Rei fell back to the floor and harshly whispered her chant. The rising fire only repeated Jadeite's wisdom.

Night had fallen. Rei rose from her position on the floor and left the fire. Hours in front of the inferno had only unveiled one truth. It told Rei to heed Jadeite's words. *I'm not giving in,* Rei told herself. She had been abused and neglected by any man she was attracted to. But she had to find her happiness to release the spell.

With catlike steps she walked out the door and onto the porch in the back. There she witnessed something quite unexpected. The filthy bastard of a man she argued bitterly with earlier was clearing her land of the fallen trees. With swift axe strokes he cut away the dead branches. Sweat ran down his back; he had obviously been working a long time. This was Jadeite: the man Rei thought would surely be gone. Why was he persisting? What did he want with her?
Unwilling to think further of the matter, Rei retired to her chamber. There, lying on the soft folds of her sheets, was a folded note. The sight of it angered her, but still she picked it up and read its contents: "What I said was true. You can decide whether or not you believe it." She didn't want to believe it.

For a moment Jadeite paused to wipe the sweat from his brow, then he put down the axe and turned towards the shrine. Most of the trees had been cleared, and Jadeite was proud of his efforts. Maybe this would give Rei a different view of him. Hopefully.

Coming in through the door and passing down the large hallway, he found Rei in a bare room with a cup of tea. She looked up as he passed and her eyes froze his feet.
"I thought I'd offer my services. I cleared a few of the trees from the back," Jadeite said.
"Thank you," Rei said with stunning gentleness. "If you want to wash up, go down the hall and four doors to the left."
"Thanks."
Rei was silent for a moment as if thinking very deeply. Then she spoke, "I suppose I owe you an apology. I shouldn't have lashed out like that."
"You sure put your message across," he said, touching his bruised cheek.
"You hit a difficult subject," she replied and looked away.
"You loved him deeply?"
"My friends told me it was unwise to fall in love with something I couldn't have..." Rei's voice quivered: she had been given away.
"Rei, I don't know what it is about you, but I don't care what happened. There's something about you, Rei. I feel different when I'm around you."
"Don't tell me that. Don't tell me another lie."
"All I can say is that it isn't a lie. I think you know it isn't. Let go, Rei." With those words as parting, Jadeite turned and headed down the hall.

Rei lay awake staring at her blank ceiling. In the passing of twenty-four hours she had met a man who read her soul clearer than anyone she had met in the passing of twenty years. All I can say is that it isn't a lie. I think you know it isn't. His words repeated themselves inside her thoughts. How do I feel a connection to this man? She felt as if, in some distant time, she had known him. You need to live again. How badly she wanted to. Fear wove threads around her heart and kept her wings from flying. Why don't you just give in? Why didn't she. Why am I keeping myself from something I want so badly, Rei admitted silently. The symbol of Mars glowed upon her forehead. She longed to release the spirit.

Rei could hear the water running down the drain a few doors down. Suddenly it stopped and there was silence. Brushing away a stray tear, Rei rose from her bed.

Jadeite stood in the large room toweling off his damp hair. He was wearing only a pair of sweatpants. He stayed in the room from the previous night. It was still thick with the scent of her. His mind wandered, but not in its familiar path of lust. He saw a vision of her violet hair engraved on the back of his eyelids. It was so beautiful he couldn't bear to open them.

Light footsteps signaled that she was coming. He reached for a shirt but not before the door swung open and Rei stepped inside. She clutched together a scarlet robe and her cheeks flushed with pink.
"Rei..." he ventured, but the glow in her eyes silenced him. With delicate hands she shut the door and turned to face him fully. Then, with a last nervous sigh, she let the red silk fall to the floor.

Night was fading from purple to blue. Rei saw tired stars burning through the window. She could feel the steady rise and fall of Jadeite's chest beside her. On the floor she lay entwined with her lover. All anger towards him Rei released: she had felt his soul. She had wallowed through his emotions, and she now knew. Rei loved him.

She kissed his fingertips and the sign on her forehead burned. Then, as if a burden had been lifted from her, it faded away. The spirit of Sailormars had left her. A tear of relief fell down her face.
Rei brushed a wisp of hair away from Jadeite's sleeping face. This was the man she loved. He had come to her at last. Rei relaxed in his embrace feeling comfort that he was there and knowing that he would still be there in the morning.

[ the orchids ]