Disclaimer: "Sailor Moon" is owned by Naoko Takeuchi and various companies which have paid good money to do so. I do not have any money, thus I do not own "Sailor Moon". I just needed to write this quickly.
Chiba Mamoru loved Sunday dinners with the Tsukino family. Tsukino Ikuko would make a veritable feast of home-cooked meals. Some weeks it would be Shabu-shabu and other weeks it would be Chinese Cabbage Rolls or Chicken-and-egg Danburi. When she found out he like swordfish, she made an effort to serve her mother’s Fried Swordfish recipe occasionally. Oh, sure, he wasn’t fond of Kenji’s murderous stares, but after a year or so those diminished and now, four years later, he hardly got glared at at all.
The whole idea of a family dinner was just so alien to Mamoru. The idea of everyone getting together, sharing a meal and savoring it, not rushing through it to be done before the next thing happened – it didn’t make any sense to him, at first. At the orphanage, meals were part of the routine. There was no lingering over a meal. Meals were served cafeteria-style. They sat on the benches and ate quickly, as the kitchen staff wanted to clean up. But, at the Tsukino household, dinners were stretched out over a couple of hours. Just when you thought the meal was done and you couldn’t eat another bite, Ikuko would duck into the kitchen and return with bowls of ice cream for everyone or strawberry daifuku or birthday cake around someone’s birthday. Mamoru was stunned when she had made birthday cake for his birthday the first time. He hadn’t remembered telling her it was in August, but Ikuko had made him a cake on the Sunday before his birthday, just like she did for everyone else.
He didn’t remember exactly how she knew to expect him for dinner every week. One day, he was over and Usako was taking longer to get ready than usual. (It turned out Shingo had taken her hairbrush. Mamoru couldn’t understand why that was such an emergency – Usako must have had 15 hairbrushes – but it delayed her by 15 minutes while she searched and then pummeled her little brother.) He was sitting in the kitchen when Ikuko mentioned that dinner on Sunday was at 2:00, and he would be welcome to come by. On that Sunday, he came, had a completely uncomfortable time, and left with more food than he normally got from the grocery store.
But, he came a couple of weeks later, and it was slightly less uncomfortable.
And a few weeks later, he came to dinner again, and this time Shingo had decided he wasn’t too bad, so he quit giving Mamoru the evil eye and Ikuko had made Teriyaki Chicken, Rice and Gyoza for dinner and Mamoru had gone home with a bag full of leftovers and he realized that Sundays at two o’clock had become a standing appointment in his calendar.
But what he mostly loved were the rounds of “Do you remember” stories the family would share over dessert. Shingo delighted in tormenting his sister, especially when her boyfriend came over. Usako would turn tomato-red and yell Mom in that special way of teenage girls, managing to drag the word in three syllables and reach a pitch so high that small dogs would cringe.
They would share stories and pictures from Usako’s childhood. One good thing about having a photographer for a father was that it meant there lots of great pictures of his Usako as a kid. There was the obligatory baby in a bathtub shots and there were family vacation pictures. There were shots of Usako and Shingo mugging for the camera and there were shots of the family, carefully posed, to send with the family’s Christmas cards. His favorite photo was one of Usako as a toddler, brandishing a spatula, her blanket tied around her like a cape and red polka dotted boxers on her head. Her mother said that was the time Usagi decided she was Princess Fairy Sparkle and she needed a crown.
There were also the stories, the ones you tell to alternately embarrass family members and scare possible new ones away. Like the time when Usako was two years old and spring came to Juuban. Usagi hadn’t known what to do with shorts – she hadn’t worn them in so long, after all – and was uncomfortable with her legs being bare. So in the middle of the grocery store, she pulled her pants down to cover her legs and waddled around the store. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad, but Ikuko’s younger sister had been with them and she had been mortified by the idea that her niece was a stripper.
There were the stories of the family’s vacations to grandma’s house and to Oku-Tadamii ski area and to the hot springs. There were stories of school recitals and visiting carnivals and stories of shopping trips where Ikuko wasn’t sure she’d be bringing both children home with her. Mamoru didn’t have stories to share, but he enjoyed listening to the good-natured bickering and sharing a funny memory and laughing so hard that the story-teller couldn’t continue.
And then, one day when Shingo had turned 16, he brought over a “friend” and Mamoru heard himself saying “Do you remember…”
Author's Note: The embarrassing stories from Usagi's childhood may
have been from the author's childhood. She may
have felt it unfair to plunder her siblings' childhood for posting on the internet.Or she figured since they've teased her enough about them, why not a few more people?
Labels: creative, fanfic, sailor moon