Please forgive me for being gone so long. Life has been hectic, but of course you probably already knew that. This fic is winding down. There are another one or two chapters left. I want to take this time to thank everyone that has supported me. I love you all. Really I do. Without the loving kindness of a few special people (and you know who you are) I don't think I would have gotten this far…Well enough of my sentimental dribble. On with the show—
Oh, one more thing. This is VERY rough. (I don't have anyone to beta my SM work. Hint Hint) If you find any glaring errors, let me know so I can fix them.
"By the goddess, you're pregnant."
Usagi could be described as many things, but speechless was never one of them. Her face took on an interesting shade of red as she looked to Mamoru for some kind of sign of what she should do. He nodded and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.
"Ami, did you just see that?" Rei asked amusedly.
"Indeed I did. It was the typical reaction of an overprotective father-to-be," Ami replied.
"Well I guess there's no point in denying it." Usagi's smile beamed brighter than it had on her wedding day.
"I don't believe this," Exclaimed Rei, "When were you planning on telling the rest of us? We have a vested interest in this pregnancy too."
"Rei calm down," Mamoru answered. "We've only known for about two weeks. We didn't want to mention it with everything that was going on."
Ami's face changed slightly upon hearing Mamoru's words. She did not anticipate how her actions would affect everyone. Usagi and Mamoru should have been shouting their good news from the rooftops. Instead, they were too busy worrying about hurting her and Zoicite. Her selfishness hit her harder than any battle ever could, causing tears to roll down her cheeks.
"Ami, what's wrong?" Zoicite's attentions had once again focused on his own pregnant lover. Her sobs became louder as he wrapped his arms around her.
"It's all my fault."
Mamoru chuckled. "Ami, I don't think you can take credit for this one. I'm pretty sure that I had a little something to do with it."
Ami looked into to Mamoru's eyes and saw laughter, not the malice that she expected. "It's just that – if I had been honest with Zoicite, you and Usagi would not have had to hide your pregnancy."
Usagi removed herself from her husband's grasp and made her way to Ami's side. She leaned in close to whisper in Ami's ear. "Don't you dare do this to yourself. Today is a happy day. What is in the past is in the past. All that matters is what's happening right now. You have a little one who will be making their grand debut rather soon. It's seems that Chibi-Usa is anxious to join us as well. Zoicite has forgiven you. Why don't you try forgiving yourself? Besides, all this guilt can't be good for the baby."
As Usagi stood, she gave Ami a hug that spoke volumes. Usagi walked across the room, sat next to Mamoru and attempted to finish the Odango special that Ami brought. Mamoru snatched it from her hands proclaiming that Chibi-Usa did not need all that ice cream. Rei nearly choked on the cherry that she managed to pilfer from Usagi's sundae. She readily agreed that a woman in Usagi's condition should be more particular about what she eats. Usagi commenced pouting and pleading, neither of which had an effect on the resolute father-to-be. Usagi batted her eyes once more, hoping that her husband would relent. When he did not, she crossed her arms over her chest and abruptly turned her back to him.
Ami smiled as she watched Usagi morph from wise matriarch to stubborn adolescent. She knew that some wondered how such a walking contradiction managed to solve the world's problems. Ami didn't wonder. She knew that it was the many facets of Usagi, the sage queen, the passionate lover, the loyal friend, the compassionate citizen, which enabled her to excel. Usagi did not seek outside validation; she had long ago learned to march to the beat of her own personal rhythm deficient drummer.
"Usako, you know that you are no good at giving people the silent treatment." Mamoru placed his arm around his wife's shoulder, a move which Usagi pointedly ignored.
Determined to prove Mamoru wrong, Usagi began conversing with Ami anew. "So Ami-chan, when are you due?"
"September 17." Ami cut her eyes toward Zoicite who probably had a plethora of questions.
"Ami, sweetheart," Zoicite's honeyed voice eked out as he rubbed her stomach, "You wouldn't happen to know whether you've got my daughter or maybe my son in here, would you?"
The room became eerily silent as all eyes focused on a rather nervous water senshi.
Seiya sat in his room staring at the ceiling. Briefly he thought it would be better to be confined to the Lighthouse than be subjected to such a dismal existence. Since his involvement in the kidnapping of Makoto, Seiya was given a choice of living under the strict supervision of his fellow Starlights or going back to the Lighthouse. Seiya jumped at the chance to avoid going back to the Lighthouse, but now he was beginning to think that he made the wrong choice.
At least at the Lighthouse, there was no question of captivity for Seiya. In Yaten's apartment, however, he was given just enough latitude to remind him of his lamentable, yet self-imposed, situation. Yaten and Taiki no longer had tolerance for Seiya. He had done too much, gone too far. Seiya was given access to all common areas of Yaten's penthouse – the living room, kitchen, bathroom, dining room. Taiki still believed that the compulsion to contact Usagi was still too great. For that reason, Seiya was not allowed to use the telephone or the computer, both of which were kept in Yaten's locked bedroom. Taiki even went so far as to equip the balcony door with a specialized lock, which recognized individual energy patterns. This lock would not permit Seiya access to the balcony.
Seiya grew weary of the fours walls surrounding him. He emerged from his cell, rather his bedroom, to find that Yaten was already gone. Seiya sighed; he would rather listen to Yaten's incessant complaining than to spend another evening alone in the penthouse. Seiya found himself once again seeking companionship from the television. At least he could see what some of his former allies were doing.
As he channel surfed, never before had Seiya been so grateful for Minako's tenacity. If it weren't for her drive to become an idol in her own right, Seiya would not know that Minako was in the United States on a promotional tour for her latest film. As he watched footage of Minako entering a theater, he noticed a tall blond man at her side. Flashbulbs lit the screen as photographers angled for the perfect shot of Minako and her companion. The television reporter's camera came in close on the couple and Seiya immediately recognized the man. It was Kunzite. While the entertainment reporter prattled on about the handsome and mysterious man who captured Aino Minako's heart, Seiya sunk back into the couch. Thoughts of Yaten filled Seiya's mind. Yaten had attempted to gain favor in Minako's eyes, but he was thwarted by the memory of a love that reached across time. Had Minako chosen Kunzite over Yaten, or had fate made the choice during the Silver Millennium? Could it have turned out differently if Yaten had let Minako know how he felt sooner? Seiya sighed. He could not understand what compelled a woman as smart, sweet, gentle, kind and beautiful as Usagi to remain faithful to a man that betrayed her. Seiya's body jerked up as he realized where his train of thought had taken him. He quickly changed the channel, hoping that a new visual stimulus would help.
Language unbefitting one of Seiya's status escaped his lips as the new image came across his screen. Makoto and Nephrite were smiling for the local news as they cut the ribbon on their newest culinary endeavor, Zodiac. Seiya's heart felt like the ribbon, cut in pieces. Was this how he was to live the rest of his days, condemned to watch a world of which he could no longer be a part? As the report continued, Yaten's face graced the screen. He was speaking on how Zodiac and Acid would revitalize the area's nightlife scene. Frustrated, Seiya turned the television off and threw the remote across the room.
A dull ache alerted Seiya to the fact that he had not eaten for several hours. As he stood, Seiya felt a bit woozy and leaned on the couch for support. He chastised himself for nearly starving to death, making a mental note to ask Yaten to purchase a small refrigerator for his bedroom. The dull ache that initiated Seiya's trip to the kitchen became stronger. Then, his hands and feet began to tingle. The tantalizingly odd feeling traveled from his extremities to his core. The glamour that maintained his masculine appearance quickly faded, leaving a very female Seiya Kou bewildered. Surprise gave way to shock as an ungodly pain struck Seiya. Lying on the floor, she curled her body into the fetal position in a vain attempt to assuage that pain that was overwhelming her body. Never had a de-transformation been so agonizing; Seiya felt as if someone were ripping her apart from the inside. Tears streamed down her face as her body turned against her.
Usagi sighed contently as Mamoru walked their guests to the door. Everything was finally as it should be. She heard the door click as her husband closed it. Turning around, Usagi could see Mamoru leaning on the door, as if to make sure that no one else showed up.
"Mamo-chan," Usagi uttered through a lengthy yawn, "What time is it?"
Mamoru gave his watch a glance and shook his head. "It's after eleven." He made his way back to the couch where Usagi was and sat down. He placed his head in her lap and sighed as she stroked his hair.
"You do know that you will have to relinquish this spot once Chibi-Usa is born?"
Mamoru shook his head defiantly. "Nope. I'll just hold her while I lay in your lap." Mamoru soon found himself yawning as well. "How about we go to bed? I don't think there will be anymore long awaited reunions, birth announcements or professions of love."
Usagi nodded her silent agreement.
Taiki stood at the bar sipping his cosmopolitan. He was impressed with the club that Yaten had opened. He was not expecting such a chic establishment. Yaten purchased an old factory building and had it gutted. Yaten maintained the industrial feel by decorating the club with black leather and polished steel beams. There were three levels, each more exclusive than the previous, where patrons could enjoy the sounds of the hottest deejays. On the third level were opera style boxes where exclusive patrons could enjoy an evening out without fear of overexposure. Taiki could not help but laugh as he noticed that the waitresses wore uniforms that were exact replicas of Yaten's senshi outfit.
"So what do you think?"
Taiki was startled to see that Yaten was standing next to him. "It's really nice, really nice."
Yaten raised an eyebrow. He was about to tell Taiki where he could put his 'really nice' when a flustered waitress rushed to Yaten.
"Yaten-sama, Yuuichirou wants a bottle of Cristal, but we're all out."
"All out? I doubt that. Tell Kimiko to go to the reserve cooler -- never mind I'll do it myself." Yaten quickly shooed the girl away. "Sorry Taiki, duty calls."
Yaten stopped short and shot an irritated look to Taiki.
"I'll come with you," Taiki said all too quickly, "I want to see how the owner of the city's hottest new nightspot manages to handle everything with such ease."
Yaten raised a suspicious eyebrow, but said nothing. Instead, he motioned for his compatriot to follow. Taiki was quite surprised as he and Yaten walked the floor. Yaten, who was notoriously short-tempered with those he considered beneath him, was gracious and almost friendly. Taiki watched in awe as Yaten smiled and embraced various patrons that approached to congratulate him. Yaten's determined gait slowed as he felt Taiki gaze burn through his back.
"What in the world are you staring at?" Yaten asked without as much as a backward glance.
"You – You're actually being nice to people. It's odd, that's all."
Yaten sighed. "You don't expect people to patronize an establishment where the owner is an asshole, do you?" Yaten shook his head at Taiki's naïveté. Taiki stood silent, mouth agape. "Stop standing there with your mouth wide open. I have a VIP waiting for a bottle of champagne."
Taiki and Yaten continued their journey to the reserve stash of alcohol. Their trek took them to the basement of the building. There were ten glass-doored refrigerators chilling white wines, blushes and champagne. There were just as many wines racks holding red wines. There was also a row of tall and deep cabinets. Two of each was devoted to a different kind of liquor. To call it a wine cellar would have been a gross understatement.
"When you said reserve cooler, I was thinking something along the lines of a refrigerator, maybe two. This is a veritable alcohol apartment complex."
Yaten rolled his eyes. "Can't you just say it's big?" Yaten muttered something under his breath that Taiki could not make out. The short blond opened one of the champagne chests as searched for the elusive bottle of Cristal. Just as he was about to slam the door and move to the next unit, he found the object of his customer's desire.
"Here!" Yaten shoved the bottle into Taiki's chest. "Since you wanted to tag along so damn badly, you can hold the bottle."
"It's a good thing I don't have breasts anymore," Taiki muttered as began to follow Yaten out of the cellar.
Taiki followed Yaten through a series of hidden passageways that led to the VIP rooms. The passageways were to ensure that the servers would not lead any overzealous, opportunistic fans to the rooms. They also provided camera shy celebrities with a discreet way to leave the club. With a growing respect for Yaten's business acumen, Taiki surveyed his surroundings. He would have never thought to add such a feature to a nightclub. Taiki chuckled as he thought back to his days as an idol. Something like this would have come in handy.
"What's so damn funny this time?"
Taiki was amazed that he could see the frustration on Yaten's face though his back was to him.
"These halls. If we had access to this kind of stuff when we were performing –"
"We would have spent less time running from rabid fangirls. Why do you think I put them in?"
The remainder of the walk to the VIP rooms had been pleasantly silent until Yaten and Taiki reached their destination. Taiki absentmindedly placed his hand on the door. Sighing, he turned to his compatriot. He opened his mouth to speak, but quickly changed his mind. Taiki stepped away from the door. He simply did not have the courage to knock.
"What the hell is wrong with you? A minute ago you were rambling on about the size of my wine cellar and now you're staring at that door like your salvation is waiting for you on the other side." Yaten saw panic flash across Taiki's face at the mention of the word salvation. "Taiki," Yaten's tone had softened, "What's going on?"
Taiki looked to the ceiling. He sighed, smiling sadly as he thought of how to answer Yaten. "Have you ever wanted something so bad, but were afraid to go after it? Have you ever thought that you wouldn't know what to do with it even it you did have it?"
Yaten did not miss the way that Taiki was fixated on the door. He turned to knock on the door when a startling realization hit him. It was all beginning to make sense: Taiki's insistence on coming along to deliver a single bottle of champagne, his fixation on the door, the enigmatic profession – Taiki was in love. Yaten stopped and turned to face his friend. "Taiki, you do realize who you are talking about? Why not use your natural body and pursue him?"
Taiki shook his head. "I like this body and I like him. Besides, it's this body that reacts to him. If it's going to be, then it will be with me looking like this." Taiki looked at the door separating him from Yuuichirou. "I know it doesn't make much sense. I know I'd probably have a better chance if I was in my own body, but I'm afraid."
Yaten looked at Taiki curiously. Then with more empathy than he knew he was capable of, Yaten asked the simple question. "What are you afraid of Taiki?"
Taiki laughed half-heartedly. "You don't understand Yaten. I'm afraid that if I undo the spell that keeps me like this that my feelings for him will disappear as well. You were in love before. You know what it feels like to be consumed by passion. I never had that before – not even with Ami. I love her, but not the way that you loved Taiyo. For the first time in my life I am dangerously in love with someone and I don't want to lose that feeling."
Taiki leaned back against the door. Misjudging the distance, he hit the floor with an unceremonious thump. Yaten, taking one look at his comrade's fallen form, immediately came to his aid – to make sure that the champagne bottle was still intact.
"I'm alright. Really I am. Good thing you grabbed that bottle. We wouldn't want anything to happen to the alcohol." Taiki drawled out as he righted himself.
Yaten chortled. "I'm in the business of making sure that my customers have a good time, not babysitting love struck fools."
Taiki readied a snappy retort when the door behind him opened.
"Yuuichirou, look what I found." Yaten held the bottle of champagne out to the surprised rock star. Noticing the awkward silence, Yaten opened his mouth yet again. "And this graceful creature is –"
"I know who he is," Yuuichirou interrupted. "I remember Taiki Kou of the Three Lights quite well. Who couldn't?"
Taiki lowered his eyes as he felt an uncomfortable heat attack his cheeks. Slightly embarrassed for reacting like a prepubescent schoolgirl, he quickly composed himself.
"Sorry to have disturbed you. I'll be going now." Taiki still could not bring himself to look at Yuuichirou's face, too afraid that the young man would be able to see what he was feeling.
"Wait – why don't you join us? There's always room for one more." Yuuichirou interjected.
"Well, since that's been settled, I'll be on my way." Yaten swiftly made his way into the hidden corridor before Taiki could object.
Taiki knew it was a waste of time and energy to call him. Yaten could move quite quickly when he so desired. Taiki looked over his shoulder to see Yuuichirou still standing in the doorway. Turning to face him, Taiki nervously laughed. Somehow he was going to have to deal with the situation in which Yaten left him.
"Well, this is awkward." Taiki whispered. He took a deep breath before he began speaking again. "Thank you for the invitation Yuuichirou-kun, but I would not want to intrude upon your evening. I'll make my way back downstairs. Have a good night."
As Taiki took his first step away from Yuuichirou's VIP box, he felt a hand encircle his wrist.
"Taiki-kun, how could you be an intrusion when I invited you to join me?" Yuuichirou let his hand wander from Taiki's wrist so that he was now holding the flustered Starlight's hand. Taiki eyed the brown haired rock star curiously, silently praying that he was not misinterpreting Yuuichirou's actions. Yuuichirou simply winked and lead Taiki into the VIP room.
Seiya slowly rose from the floor. The pain had subsided, but the shock of being female remained. Seiya tried in vain to reinstate her male appearance. She concentrated and called upon every manner of magic she knew. It was all for naught. She knew that sooner or later she would have to look into the face that she was had been given at birth. In an act of acceptance, forced upon her by fate, Seiya found herself walking into the bathroom. Fear marked each step as Seiya closed the gap between herself and the mirror. She spent so much time living as a man that she did not know if she would recognize herself as a woman. Would she be pleased with what she saw?
Seiya turned on the bathroom light. She gasped upon seeing the woman she had become. Her blue eyes, complete with long luxurious lashes, had widened to display their brilliance to the world. Her jet black hair struck her at the waist. The slight wave pattern enhanced its brilliance. Even while in the masculine state, Seiya envied Rei's hair. Now, she had a mane to rival the fire priestess'. Seiya smiled appreciatively. It was then that she noticed that her lips had taken the hue of a girl who spent her day eating ripe strawberries.
"Damn," Seiya whispered, "If I were I man, I'd date me."
Her silent inspection was interrupted by the slamming of the apartment door. Seiya's head spun around, as if she had been caught trying to rob someone's home. Laughing to herself, she knew it was only Yaten. She wrapped her long fingers around the doorknob. Panic seized her once again. She hesitated, and then realized that there was no point delaying the inevitable. Seiya opened the door and walked through. She walked to the center of the living room and waited for Yaten to acknowledge her presence.
Yaten was fixed in his post-club routine. He threw his sport coat onto coat hook on the outside of the closet door. Then, he walked to the kitchen and poured half a glass of water and threw a lime wedge in it. Holding his beverage, Yaten settled in on the couch and reached over for the remote. His hand patted the couch a few times, searching for the elusive contraption.
"Damn it Seiya! What did you do with the remote?"
"Here you go." Seiya held the object of Yaten's desire mere inches from his face.
The lilt in the respondent's voice startled Yaten. Slowly, he turned to see the face of the person holding his remote control.
"Funny thing happened on the way to the kitchen. I fell over and when I stood up, I was a girl."
The quizzical look on Yaten's face let Seiya know that her weak attempt at humor failed. She sat next to Yaten, took a deep breath and started again.
"Yaten, I don't know what happened. I was sitting down watching the news and the next thing I knew I was de-transforming."
Yaten shook his head before gulping his water. He closed his eyes, opening them slowly. Yaten took another look at Seiya. Seiya was indeed female.
"Did you try to change back?"
Seiya gave Yaten a blank look. She could not believe that he asked such a daft and obvious question. Yaten sighed and quietly acknowledged that Seiya had probably exhausted all measures available. He then leaned back onto the couch and realized that he had left his mobile phone in its holster at his waist. As Yaten removed the holster, an idea popped in his mind. He scanned through his recent calls until the desired name was highlighted. Yaten pressed the talk button and waited, only to find that his call went straight into Taiki's voicemail.
"The nerve of him –," Yaten began to rant and then abruptly stopped. An impish grin grew in place of his scowl. Seiya watched as Yaten cycled through irritation, frustration, amusement and awe. .
"Yaten…are you okay?" Seiya prayed that her current predicament did not send Yaten over the edge.
Once Yaten recognized that Seiya had been speaking, he started laughing uncontrollably. It was not his usual superficial laugh. This one came from deep within his chest. It was not until he was out of breath and red in the face did the laughter cease.
"By the gods, Taiki did it."
Rei yawned as she rode in the passenger seat of Jadeite's sport utility vehicle. She had not expected to spend so much time at Usagi's house. She also didn't expect for Ami and Zoicite to get back together and to find out that Usagi was pregnant.
"Jadeite, is that your phone?"
"I don't think so." Jadeite tapped his earpiece. "Nope, not my phone."
Rei dug in her purse, searching haphazardly for her mobile. She muttered a string of curses that would have made sailors blush. Finally, Rei managed to fish her phone from the bottom of her bag. Ignoring the comment Jadeite made about carrying the world in her purse, Rei opened her mobile to see who had called.
"Damn it. I went through all that for a text?" Rei pushed the buttons on her phone to bring up the message. Her eyes widened and a slight blush crept up to her cheeks. "By the goddess, Yuuichirou did it."
There it is. You know what I want you to do. You know what I need you to do. The question is, will you do it?
Love and peace,