[We see Makoto on the phone while in the kitchen cooking dinner.]
Makoto: You're busy tonight too, Rei?
[She adds some spices to one pot.]
Makoto: Your grandfather says you need special training? I don't suppose I could come watch or something? [pause] I just don't have anything to do.
[She stirs the pot, then takes some bread from the oven.]
Makoto: Yeah. What with Usagi and Mamoru off on a date, Minako off skiing, Ami busy studying, and you busy, I just guess I'm gonna end up by myself tonight. [pause] I'll be fine. Maybe I'll rent something. Good luck with your special training! Bye! [hangs up] Great. All by myself. With NOTHING to do. [looks at the other pot] Well, nothing besides dinner.
* * * * *
* * * * *
[A little while later, still in the kitchen]
Makoto: Well, that needs to simmer for about an hour. I guess I'll pop down to the video store and try and find something worth watching.
[She puts on her jacket and a scarf.]
Makoto: What am I going to do with all this food? [sighs] I should have made plans before I started cooking, but that recipe looked so good...
* * * * *
[We see Makoto at the video store, roaming the aisles. She is clutching a single tape, a concert tape of one of her favorite idol singers.]
Makoto: There's got to be something I haven't seen yet that doesn't look stupid.
[She turns down one aisle and sees a new section: American animation.]
Makoto: Hmm. This is new. I certainly haven't seen any of this.
[She picks up a tape labeled Robotech.]
Makoto: Hmm. This looks vaguely familiar...
[She picks up another tape labeled Animaniacs.]
Makoto: This looks fun.
Voice: That's a good one. Most american animation is garbage, but there are a few good series. They're hard to get here in Japan. Even the garbage is hard to get.
Makoto: [turns and sees it is Umino] Oh, uh, hi.
Umino: Hi! Naru-chan and I are picking out some videos to watch tonight. Want to join us, Makoto-san?
Makoto: I...uh...[thinking] A night with the geek wonder? Yuck. On the other hand, Naru is okay. Not to mention, I'd rather not be alone. And I've got all that food that's gonna sit in my refrigerator and stare at me if it doesn't get eaten...[out loud] Okay. Sure. In fact, why don't we do it at my house? I've got more food than I need.
Naru: [coming around the corner] That sounds great! I'll need to call mom and tell her we'll be at your place.
Umino: Usagi says you're a really great cook, Makoto.
Makoto: Thanks, Umino.
Umino: Did you really get kicked out of your last school for beating up all the other students? Or was it just some of them? I need to get that straight in my mind.
Makoto: UMINO!!!!! [She raises the tape in her hands to whap him in the head, then stops and sighs.] I got in a few fights, hai.
Umino: [still flinching with his eyes shut. Naru puts a hand on his shoulder and he slowly relaxes.] I guess I shouldn't have asked that. I'm sorry.
Makoto: It was nothing. Well, let's get going!
* * * * *
[Makoto and Umino are clearing off the dishes from the table at Makoto's house while Naru is starting to wash them.]
Makoto: You really don't have to do this, Naru.
Naru: I don't mind!
Umino: [struggling under a pile clearly too heavy for him] I'm glad to help.
Makoto: Let me get that for you.
Umino: No...[grunts] I'll...be...fine.
[He drops the dishes into the sink, splashing water on himself and Naru.]
Umino: Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to splash you...those are nice clothes too, I...
Umino: I'm sorry, did I get you wet too, Makoto? [turns back to Naru, who is drying her face with a dish towel] I didn't ruin your nice dress, did I? Let's see, the best way to prevent staining is...
Naru: [smiles] I'll be fine once I dry out.
Makoto: You want to change into something dry, Naru? You might catch cold.
Umino: That would be awful! I think Makoto is right. You'd better change into something of hers.
Naru: Well, if you don't mind.
Makoto: [guiding Naru out the door] You work on the dishes, Umino. I'll get her changed.
[Makoto takes Naru down the hallway to her room and starts rifling through her closet.]
Makoto: There's got to be something in here to fit you. Maybe some of my old clothing.
Naru: I wish I was tall like you.
Makoto: No you don't. Not really.
Makoto: Being big has its advantages, but standing out like that attracts a lot of trouble too. You can win fights...but you get into more of them. Even the guys think they have to test their machismo with me.
Naru: [digs out a shirt and some jeans] These might fit me. I wish I had such a nice figure as you too.
Makoto: You're not bad looking, you know. You could do a lot better than...
Naru: [starts to change] He loves me, more than anyone I might ever find, I think. I don't know why. I'm not all that special.
Makoto: You're more special than he is.
Naru: That's not true. Umino is a very special person. He has a lot of good qualities.
Makoto: Like what?
Naru: He tries his best to protect me. You know how many incidents I get into. It seems like every monster in Japan wants me. He knows he can't stop them, but he tries anyway...[shudders a bit] I'm so worried he's going to get himself killed trying to save me...[her eyes mist up a bit]
Makoto: [face softens] Don't worry, Naru. He'll be fine. You've always been saved before, right?
Naru: [staring at an orange shirt in Makoto's closet] I just...when I think about it...I feel like, someone died protecting me from monsters. Gave his life to save me. But I can't even remember his name! [starts to cry] I can't remember when it was or who or why...but I remember...I think. How could I forget something like that, Makoto?
Makoto: [thinking] What is she talking about? I don't remember anything like that either, but then I haven't known her for that long. I guess I'll have to ask Usagi about this. [out loud] Maybe it's a side effect of all those monster attacks.
Naru: [finishes dressing] I just...don't want to forget him, not like, like...[gives a big sob] Like whoever I've forgotten. I can't save him. I can't even save myself. If the Sailor Senshi weren't around, I'd be dead twenty times over.
Makoto: Don't worry. You're safe with me. [thinking] Safer than you know. Oh God, I hope we don't get attacked tonight. If Umino even gets scratched, Naru will come apart at the seams if she's feeling like this. [out loud] Maybe I should teach you some self-defense stuff. And Umino too.
Naru: Thank you. Some nights...I'm afraid to go out of my house. Not that my house is all that safe either.
Makoto: [pounds a hand into her fist] Nothing will hurt you while you're in my house.
Naru: We'd better go out before Umino starts worrying.
Makoto: Or destroys my kitchen.
[They head to the kitchen. The kitchen is spotless. The dishes have been put away. There are bowls of ice cream on the table, along with three napkins and spoons. Each of the napkins has a name on it. Naru has the biggest bowl of ice cream. However, Umino is nowhere to be seen.]
Naru: He fixed dessert for us!
Makoto: Where is he?
Umino: [from out of sight behind the corner] I'll be right there!
Naru: Why can't we see you.
Umino: [still out of sight] Nothing. I'll be right there.
Makoto: What are you...[moves around the counter and sees Umino is on the floor, wrestling with the garbage can, which he has his foot stuck in] Let me help.
Umino: No need to bother. I just...[Makoto pulls his leg out of the trashcan.] Thanks.
Makoto: Don't mention it. [thinking] How did he manage that, anyway?
Umino: [sits down with his ice cream] What are we going to watch first?
Makoto: How about this concert tape I got?
Naru: Sounds good to me!
Umino: [while eating his ice cream] Zug noro dwortz.
Umino: Fine with me.
* * * * *
[The last notes of the concert tape finish and Makoto clicks rewind on the VCR. Makoto is sitting in a nice plush chair, while Naru and Umino are holding hands on the couch.]
Umino: This is a really nice place, Makoto.
Makoto: Well, I do have a lot of money. My parents bought most of this stuff, though.
Umino: What do you want to watch next?
Makoto: Why don't you pick something?
Umino: [springs over to the pile of tapes.] Hmmm. Ahh, this is good.
[He pops in the Animaniacs tape.]
Makoto: I hope this is dubbed. My english isn't very good.
Umino: I can translate for you.
[The tape starts. It is in English, with Japanese subtitles. Umino just about laughs his head off as the tape goes by. Naru laughs a fair amount, while Makoto mostly sits and stares, confused.]
Umino: Heh. Freunleven!
Makoto: This thing really needs another tape to explain all the jokes...And where do those hippos get all their money from? Not to mention those cat...dog...monkey...uh whatever they were.
Umino: It is never revealed as to what exactly they are. They are themselves. They are trickster figures, with a certain ambiguity of identity inherent in that.
Makoto: Right. I knew that. [thought] It's times like these that I remember that Umino is the second smartest person I know, no matter how dumb he is sometimes...
Umino: The Warner Brothers studio has a long tradition of ambiguous trickster figures, with Bugs Bunny being the classic example.
Makoto: [thought] Does he have an off button?
Umino: These figures transgress identity boundaries, forcing us to rethink the ways in which we...[Naru whispers in his ear] Well, anyway, they leave it up to your imagination as to what they are.
Naru: My turn to choose a tape!
Makoto: [thought] Please, oh please let me understand this one.
[Naru pops in a tape.]
Naru: I think you'll like this one, Makoto.
Makoto: What is it?
[Incredibly cheesy music begins to play, and a badly done set of characters fades into view on the screen: Seven Female Fists of Death.]
Naru: It's this great Hong Kong Martial Arts movie with a band of all female martial artists who overthrow the government of China to avenge the death of their master who trained them.
Makoto: Overthrow the government?
Naru: Really, it's a lot of silly fighting barely possessing a plot, but it's a lot of fun.
[On the screen, we see a ancient generic oriental village. An ancient man faces 100 Chinese soldiers and a Mandarin.]
Mandarin: [voice out of sync with lips] So, old man, I shall finally have my revenge.
Old Man: [voice in sync] Like a tree falling alone in the forest, I shall make no sound, nor bar your path. It is fate.
Mandarin: [voice badly out of sync] Kill him!
[The soldiers rush forward and the old man takes them all out with one blow. ]
Old Man: [Lips aren't actually moving] Like the grasshopper, I part the waves.
[Makoto, Umino, and Naru all laugh.]
Mandarin: [lips stop moving halfway through speech] You force me to use my ultimate attack!
Old Man: I flow with the wisdom of the universe. It tells me to go eat lunch now. [turns to leave]
Mandarin: FALLING MOUNTAIN ATTACK!
[A mountain falls from the sky, crushing the old man flat, with only his feet showing.]
Mandarin: [no lip motion] HAHAHA! After ten thousand years, [lips start moving] I'm victorious! Now to conquer China!
[He turns to ride off and discovers he crushed his horse flat too.]
Mandarin: [voice out of sync] I never liked that horse anyway.
Makoto: You're right. I think I am going to like this.
* * * * *
[The movie is winding towards its end. The Seven Female Fists of Fury are fighting the Mandarin's henchmen in the Imperial palace. Meanwhile, Naru, Makoto, and Umino are "helping out", showing off their own hokey martial arts moves.]
Naru: So, you think you are powerful? Face the hair ribbon of death! [She pulls out her hair ribbon and strikes an imaginary foe with it.]
Umino: Woo Woo Woo! [He moves a hand up and down with two fingers extended, then pokes an invisible opponent in the eye.]
Makoto: So, you think your puny Stooge fu can hurt me, Makoto, the master of 3001 forms of martial arts!? I unleash upon you the fury of Martial cooking! Eat this! [She unleashes dozens of ridiculous looking jabs with her ice cream spoon in Umino's general direction.
Umino: [staggers around] Oh, you have wounded me to the quick! I must breathe my last! [staggers more] I now must die, brought low by your unparalleled skill. There remains only my last stroke of revenge!
Umino: [grabs one of the sofa cushions and throws it at Makoto] To drop a mountain on you! HAHAHAHAH!!!!!!
[They all fall down laughing, then Makoto tosses the cushion at Umino and a proper pillow fight soon breaks out. Unfortunately for Makoto, it rapidly becomes two against one, with her as the one. Trapped in her chair, she finally surrenders.]
Makoto: Okay! I give up!
Naru: We have shown you who is the true master of martial arts!
Umino: [looks over at the TV] We missed the end of the movie.
Naru: Well, they trick the Mandarin into dropping a mountain on himself. Poetic justice and all that.
Makoto: I take it you've seen it before?
Naru: Hai. I like these silly old martial arts movies. They make them in Hong Kong by the dozens. [pause] I'll be right back.
[She heads off to the bathroom. Makoto goes over to the tape pile and starts digging through it.]
Umino: She's so beautiful...
Makoto: [looks up] You're lucky to have her, Umino.
Umino: I know. I wonder what she sees in me sometimes. I mean, I'm not a very impressive person. I was in love with Usagi for a long time, but I never had any luck with her at all. I'm not surprised, though. I mean I'm kinda clutzy and I'm not very good looking either. Everything I do seems to go wrong. [pauses] Being with Naru-chan is like a dream. I'm afraid I'll wake up one morning, and it will have all just been a dream...something that never happened.
Makoto: She really does love you, Umino. [thought] Even if I can't understand why.
Umino: [sighs faintly] And I worry about being able to protect her. I can't fight. Not really. But I'd gladly give my life to save her. She gets into so much trouble. It seems like every monster in Tokyo has her address.
Makoto: I know. It's like she's a magnet for trouble...I mean...
Umino: I understand. I'm just glad she's gotten through all of it alive. If she ever...died...I don't know what I'd do. I don't think I'd want to live.
Makoto: [blinks] Don't say things like that!
Umino: I had a dream once...Naru-chan was a lady-in-waiting to a beautiful princess. I was her page boy, but I loved her anyway. She was in love with a great general from another kingdom. Our kingdom was betrayed, and demons over ran the land. When they attacked the palace, I tried to fight them but I couldn't save her...She died in my arms...[starts crying] There was nothing I could do! Nothing!
[Makoto sits in her chair, uncertain of what to do.]
Makoto: I...uh...Have you...told Naru about this dream?
Umino: [trying to pull himself together] I...no. I don't want to make her worry. I mean, it was just a dream...but it seemed so real. I remember the moon princess coming in and crying to see her lady-in-waiting, her friend, was dead. [shudders]
Makoto: [thought] Moon Princess? That sounds like...
Umino: [laughs faintly] She looked just like Usagi, but older. Usagi as a princess? I guess you don't have to pass any exams to be a princess, though.
Makoto: [thought] Could he be...somehow remembering things that happened in the moon kingdom? No...it must be a coincidence. [out loud] Were any of the rest of us in the dream?
Umino: Just about everyone was. You were some kind of bodyguard of the princess. And Rei and that Mamoru guy and lots of other people...
Makoto: [thought] He is remembering it! Somehow...I guess there were lots of other people there sent to be reincarnated on Earth.
Umino: I think you were engaged to someone...
Makoto: [leans forward] Who, Who? [thought] Now that's news.
Umino: I can't remember. Some guy with long brown hair. I can't remember his name...
Naru: Who's name, Umino?
[They both suddenly realize Naru is back and have no idea how much she has heard.]
Umino: I, uh...had a dream where Makoto was engaged to someone, but I can't remember who it was...
Naru: Was I in the dream?
Umino: Hai! You were a noble woman. [thought] I won't mention the death part. Don't mention it. Don't mention it...
Naru: Why don't you pick out a tape for us, Umino?
Makoto: How about this? [She holds up Tenchi Muyou #1] I've heard this is pretty good.
Umino: As long as no one dies, that will be just fine.
Naru: Eh, what, Umino?
Umino: I..uh...nothing...Be right back. [He runs off into...the closet. From inside the closet] Hey, where am I?
Makoto: [buries her face in her hands] Don't ask me. I'm not the one dating him.
* * * * *
[The clock reads 12:30 AM. Naru is nodding off, her head on Umino's shoulder. He and Makoto are both yawning, but somewhat more awake. They are watching the tail end of Dread Space Pirate Bailesu #1. The episode ends with a red haired woman and a black haired woman, both in skimpy gold outfits chasing off the Dread Space Pirate and crew into the sunset as the sun goes nova.]
Makoto: Yeesh. What a way to go...Pretty funny though.
Umino: I guess we ought to be going now.
Naru: [mumbles] No, Usagi, you can't have all my food...
[Makoto and Umino laugh.]
Umino: [getting up] Come on, Naru-chan. Time for us to go home.
Naru: [sleepily] Don't wanna move.
Umino: We can't sleep on Makoto's couch.
Naru: [sleepily] Why not?
Umino: [big sweat] ...
Makoto: [big sweat] ...
Naru: [getting up and stretching] I so sleepy.
Umino: [helps Naru get her coat on and walks her towards the door] Thanks for letting us come over, Makoto.
Makoto: [hands Umino and Naru their share of the tape pile] It was fun. Thanks for coming. [pauses] Being alone at night with nothing to do is no fun.
Umino: [smiles faintly in a sad way] I know that...very well. [more cheerily] Good night, Makoto!
Naru: Good night, Makoto. Thanks for everything. See ya.
[They head out into the cool night air. Makoto watches them go, then closes the door.]
Makoto: [goes back to the living room and sinks down in her plush
chair] That really was fun. I guess maybe I can understand how she can
stand to go out with Umino now...I wish I had someone that devoted to me...
Yeesh, I sound like I'm jealous. I'm not, really...[she nods off] I
wonder who I was engaged to in the moon kingdom?...[she falls asleep and
dreams of a man with long brown hair and no face.]
back to the Short Story Page.
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