Before the Love Letters
Makoto Ozawa - Present Day
"You two really didn't have to put yourselves out. We would've been fine on our on."
"Oh hush, Mako-chan. It's not a bother to help a friend."
Makoto Ozawa twisted her body from the front passenger seat of her wife's car to gaze at her two friends in the back seat. Behind her was Yui Hino and the speaker was Shiho Inoue. The four of them had come home to Yumoto to finish up moving the last of the married couples things.
Just recently she and Kaede had purchased a large house in a closed community that catered to celebrities. It was something the two had avoided for over a year, but Kaede's fame had reached a point where living in Shibuya was no longer possible. So for the last few weeks, she and Kaede had slowly been moving from their small flat in Hoshino Apartments to their new modest sized mansion in the hidden away Tokyo suburb. The last of the items that they were gathering now were things from their hometown that both Makoto and Kaede needed to personally attend to.
"Lovelies stick together." Yui chimed into Shiho's sentiment. "Besides, isn't it nice meeting up again? I haven't seen everyone since the wedding."
"Mmm Hmm." Kaede agreed, keeping her eyes on the road as she drove.
"Well, I still appreciate the help." Makoto gave in, still feeling slightly guilty. Yui's presence was fine, as she still lived in Yumoto, but Shiho had to go out of her way to come with them. She lived in Utsuomiya.
Sensing Makoto's thoughts, Shiho addressed her concerns. "Really, it's okay. I wanted an excuse to get out of that dorm and visit home, anyway. I'm sort of mad at Nanami-chan at the moment, so some fresh mountain air is what I need."
"What's wrong?" Yui asked.
"Oh… she's still on my ass about the Jessie-situation. I wish she'd just lay off." Shiho murmured bitterly.
Kaede turned her head and glanced at Makoto with a knowing look. All of them had the same concerns that Shiho's firey little dorm mate had, but they were smart enough to keep it to themselves. Shiho's long distance relationship with Jessica Perez was unconventional, and all of them dreaded what the final outcome might be. However, everyone's fear had been put on hold for about four years. The two of them, remarkably, were still together.
"How is Jessie doing, by the way?" Yui asked conversationally.
"Working as hard as ever on her law degree. She's really going for it." Shiho told them proudly.
"That's nice." Yui gave a kind smile.
As unorganized as it was, the plan was to start at Makoto's childhood home first, then end the trip at Kaede's. The reason being that after a long day of rooting around boxes and packing, that there'd be a nice hot spring at the end of the day to greet them. Yui, of course, lived in the Ozawa Inn, so what they were doing was completely backwards. After the long trip the day before, they had spent the night at the Inn, so leaving to the Akiyama residence when they could start on Kaede's belongings seemed backwards. Regardless, the prize of soaking in the mineral water of the small onsen after all their hard work seemed more appealing than being practical. So it was off to Makoto's parent's house.
When Kaede pulled up to the Akiyama home, three of them got out and stretched their legs, still stiff from the previous day's drive. Yui watched them kindly, having a satisfied look in her eyes. Out of the remaining original Love Letter Lovelies, she was the only one still living at home. Makoto always felt a small sense of guilt about that, as it seemed that everyone had left her behind. If Yui felt any animosity about that, she never let on, but Makoto still always felt bad.
"I still think my body is asleep after that drive yesterday. I want to take a nap." Shiho moaned as she stretched. Her arms were high in the air and everyone took the chance to look at those exposed perfect abs she had as her shirt raised.
"You just got up, silly." Makoto giggled.
"We're here for the weekend," Kaede rationally pointed out. "there's no need to rush."
Shiho lowered her arms, and regrettably smoothed her shirt down. Without making a reply, she was the first to walk towards Makoto's parent's front door. The others joined behind her, though cleared a path for Makoto so she could open the door. As she entered, she announced her arrival, kicked off her shoes, then stood to the side so the others could join her. During the commotion, her parents emerged from the living room to greet them all.
There was a good 40 minutes of chit-chatting and catching up before someone mentioned the task at hand. Prying Makoto away from her father, Kaede politely led the group up the stairs and into Makoto's childhood room. For herself and Kaede, they last visited the inside of it a year ago, but for Shiho and Yui it was like nostalgia slammed into their faces like a brick wall.
"I can't believe it, it's still the same!" Yui exclaimed.
"It's exactly how I remember it from High School." Shiho noted. "What's it been, five years?"
"Around that." Makoto nodded, but wasn't exactly sure how long it had been since the two of them had visited her room. "I've lived here ever since I was in grade school. I still remember being scared that I'd have a room to myself and away from Nori-chan."
"Little kid Makoto." Kaede gave that famous small smile of hers.
"She's probably thinking something weird." Shiho grinned and shoved Kaede. "Damn it, Kaede-chan, you'd think after being married for a year you'd stop fantasizing about her. You see her everyday!"
"I can't help it." Kaede told them a bit too seriously.
Makoto gave her wife a hug, while Yui gave a cute 'aw' sound. Shiho just rolled her eyes.
As strange as it seemed, they had to go about the task of analyzing the museum of Makoto's childhood and dismantle parts of it. It almost seemed a shame to do so, but now that Makoto had a proper home of her own, she wanted to take some memories with her. Of course, not everything was going. It was her task to decide on what was important or not. Sadly this proved to be more emotional and tasking than she thought.
"You still have a Playstation 3. Nice." Shiho looked at Makoto's old system that sat under the TV-stand that held an even older TV.
"I used to have a Playstation 2, but I think my Mom gave it to my cousin when I got this one." Makoto remembered.
"Parents always give away the good stuff." Yui said, then glanced at Shiho. "Right?"
"Uh, yeah. They do." Shiho's voice dropped.
Makoto could had slapped Yui in the back of the head for that… after she ran downstairs, grabbed a stool, and came back up so she could climb up on it just so she could reach it. Sometimes the tall girl could be so insensitive and forgetful. One of the precious things that Shiho's parents gave away was their own daughter. Aside that tragedy, everything that Shiho owned from her childhood was bound to be gone as a result. It wasn't something the others wanted Shiho to relive.
"Yui-chan, why don't you pull those boxes from the top shelf of my closet and see if there's anything good in there." Makoto quickly said, wanting to distract the girl before anything more cruel was unintentionally said.
"Alright." Yui blinked and wandered over to Makoto's closet door and opened it up.
Shiho gave Makoto a thankful gesture and that's all that was said on the matter. Everyone knew that Yui didn't know better, and didn't want to make it an issue by explaining it to her. Dealing with a distraught apologetic Yui was always worse than just sucking up the pain she accidentally dealt out.
"Oh! You're school uniforms!" Yui called from the closet. "Not just Yumoto High School's uniform, but your Middle School ones!"
"Yeah, I kept those for some reason." Makoto peered around Yui's slender back to look at one of the blue jumpers on a hanger.
"You went to Nantai Junior High?" Yui stepped aside and pointed to the Middle School uniform. "I didn't know that!"
"I did." Makoto smiled, then scrunched up her face slightly. "I didn't have the grades to go to Nantai High School like I wanted too, but I think things worked out fine for me at Yumoto."
"You know, Maria and I went to Nantai Junior High as well." Yui told Makoto excitedly.
"Oh you did?" Makoto could see why Yui was excited now. "Wouldn't it have been cool if we had met each other back then and didn't know it?"
"It would!" Yui laughed, and looked at Makoto's uniform. "Nantai Junior High… that takes me back."
"We went to Yumoto Middle School." Shiho told the others, gesturing at Kaede. "I didn't know her, of course, but I used to find pictures of Kaede in the Yumoto Middle School uniform at Sora's house."
"I remember Shiho-chan." Kaede informed them.
Shiho looked shocked by this. "You do?"
"Yes. 3rd year you had P.E. just before my class did. I would catch you changing out a few times."
"Checking her out?" Makoto laughed.
"Maybe." Kaede spoke coyly.
Shiho smirked as well. "I don't remember that at all. Then again, at that time I was going through a lot. You know, just figuring out my sexuality… life changing factors like that."
"I was already dating Sarah," Kaede remembered, correctly saying Sora's preferred name. "but that didn't stop me from looking."
They reminisced for a while, then got back to work. Makoto watched Kaede for a small moment, wondering what her now wife was like back as a pre-teen. That time in Kaede's life had always been somewhat of a mystery, one that Makoto never really pried into. She knew bits and pieces about her relationship with Sarah, but it was a topic that Makoto didn't want to know the details too for the most part. Still, there was a part of her that was curious.
Again, it was Yui who drew her attention. She was sitting on the ground, looking into a hat box that was filled with miscellaneous papers and photos. She had been looking at the pictures, it seemed, but ran into something that Makoto forgot she had. On seeing a faded red envelop in her hand, Makoto's heart nearly skipped a beat.
So that's where they were.
"What is it?" Shiho asked, seeing that Makoto's attention was drawn to Yui's letter.
"It's my love letter." Yui told them all in a soft voice. "You know… the one I wrote Mako-chan seven years ago."
"What!?" Shiho exclaimed.
Even Kaede put down the book she was looking at and wandered over.
"This is definitely my letter. I remember these envelopes." Yui said, then looked up at Makoto. "You kept this?"
"I did." Makoto nodded, feeling slightly hot in the face now. "I kept everyones… well, everyone except Kato-san's."
Shiho was on her knees as well, now, ruffling through the box until she found her own envelope. Her own face went pink as seeing it, and she glanced up at Makoto with big eyes. As she did that, Yui pulled Kaede's letter out and handed it to her. Out of all the envelopes, hers looked the most worn, as Past-Makoto had read and re-read that letter over and over. Kaede looked at her own letter with a satisfied smile, then glanced back down at the box. Stooping over, she found and picked up the last love letter saved. Everyone knew who's letter that was.
"Maria…" Yui exhaled in an almost whispered reverence.
"You've got to read that!" Shiho nodded her head at Maria's letter. "I want to know what she said!"
Before Kaede could respond, Makoto gently took it away from her. "No."
"Why not?" Yui demanded.
"This is something private… Maria only wanted me to see this." Makoto felt awkward at having to say that, especially to her wife.
"But she's dead, she won't care." Yui looked annoyed.
"Even still…" Makoto kept the letter to her chest. It was her memory of Maria, one she didn't want to share. Perhaps Yui was right in that had Maria been alive, she would have been the first person to read her love letter to everyone, but the very fact that she was dead just felt wrong. These were Maria's emotions back then, so precious and private. It wasn't something for everyone else to hear.
"I understand." Kaede spoke softly. "Let's drop it."
Shiho looked disappointed, but nodded. Yui, however, looked as if she wanted to cry. Out of all of them, she knew Maria the best and Makoto having that one part of her that was unreachable looked like it hurt her. Even still, Makoto didn't want anyone, especially Yui, to read that letter. It would be too painful.
"I'm sorry, Yui-chan. This is just too special to me." Makoto tried to justify it to her so she'd understand. "Everyone poured their heart to me in these letters and I treasure them… Maria especially. It must have taken great courage for her… and everyone else… to write these."
Yui nodded, and glanced down at her own letter. Sniffing a bit, she fumbled with the envelop, pulled out the light pink paper inside, and read it herself. Everyone watched her, unsure on what to do, or how to react. Then she gave a smile and looked away from the letter.
"What's it say?" Shiho's curiosity was too much now.
"Nothing all that original. I just remembered why I wrote this." Yui said, then glanced at Makoto's Nantai Junior High uniform. "Actually, it all started before… back in Middle School. The stuff that happened back then caused me to write this letter."
"So… what happened?" Shiho asked.
Jessica Perez is a character created by Sailor Jane (who also has a FictionPress account) for her own stories based on The Fiona Five. Shiho and Jessie occasionally crossover into our respective works as they are a couple.