Author's Note: this is an alternate universe fic featuring characters and concepts from both Sailor Moon and the manga series Twenty Masks. I don't own any of the characters, I'm just borrowing them for a while. This is also a shoujoai (girl/girl) romance, so if you don't like that sort of thing, stay away.
The Twenty Masks of Sailor V!
Natsuna Sakurada gave the costumed woman a amused smile as the older woman read from the paper, "The costumed adventurer Sailor V is confident she will quickly capture the mysterious thief." The brown haired police officer set the paper she had been quoting from aside as she asked, "You didn't really tell her that?"
"Of course not," Sailor V sighed irritably, the younger blonde girl sitting on the other side of the desk by the window, "I have no idea where she got that quote from." She leaned forward, long blonde hair falling in front of the lenses of the simple mask she wore as she asked with an eager smile, "So tell me about this problem thief of yours."
Natsuna handed the file over as she said, "The thief has picked up the nickname Twenty Masks, mostly due to the use of disguises. Has hit seven museums and other events, stealing one valuable item then slipping away each time."
"Not bad," Sailor V acknowledged as she browsed through the papers, "but I'm not sure why you wanted me to get involved."
"Before every robbery," Natsuna said, looking very annoyed, "this Twenty Masks has sent us a warning that he was going to strike. We've deployed dozens of officers and the best security, but each time he's pulled off the robbery."
"Leaving the police with egg on their faces," Sailor V nodded. She came across a photo then made a face, "No better images?"
The figure in the blurred security photo was turning even as the camera went off, the body slightly blurred by motion. It was hard to pick out details but it almost looked like he was wearing a black tuxedo, a long cape swirling around the slim body. A simple mask covered the eyes, a top hat perched atop a remarkably delicate face.
"Normally Twenty Masks is more thorough," Natsuna admitted, "we think he missed this camera, destroying it only after the photo was taken."
"She," Sailor V murmured as she studied the image.
"What?" Natsuna leaned forward, looking at the image in surprise.
Silently Sailor V pointed to the slight curve visible on the chest, the proportions of the body. "The clothes are padded, but it's still visible. Do you think you can get this enhanced, maybe?" she asked, handing it back to Natsuna.
"I'll pass it on to Doctor Mizuno down in forensics," Natsuna took it back as she continued, "Ami might be able to get some more details out of it."
"Did you have fun at Ami and Makoto's bridal shower?" Sailor V asked impishly.
"Actually, yes," Natsuna chuckled softly, not at all surprised that Sailor V knew about it. She slid the photo away before adding, "And there's another unusual detail in this case, it looks like Twenty Masks is targeting a specific individual."
Sailor V looked at her curiously, "Oh?"
"All the items that have been stolen have belonged to a wealthy young woman named Hotaru Tomoe," Natsuna said simply.
"She's the daughter of Professor Tomoe," Sailor V instantly recognized the name as she worked to recall the articles she had once read, "she's a patron of the arts, having leant items to various museums and special events around the city." Sailor V looked at Natsuna thoughtfully as she asked, "You've interviewed her about this, of course?"
"The young lady has no idea why Twenty Masks would be targeting her," Natsuna said then admitted, "I think Hotaru's not telling the truth, but I'm not quite sure about what or why."
"I'll look into that," Sailor V flashed a smile. She had reason to trust in Natsuna's detective instincts, they had helped her discover her true identity of Minako Aino, after all. "Any other galleries or museums with items belonging to Ms. Tomoe?" Sailor V asked.
"She's making a public presentation to the Cultural Center tomorrow," Natsuna said as she passed over an invitation, "I arranged to get an extra one just in case."
"As sharp as ever," Sailor V said with a grin.
With a bit of a flush to her cheeks Natsuna turned to the filing cabinet on one side of the office, getting some still warm tea from the thermos atop it. "I was wondering if you..." she started to say as she turned back, only to stop cold.
The chair Sailor V had sat in was empty, the small room dead silent. Natsuna rushed over to the now open window to look out at the night, the full moon shining down on the city. For just a moment one of her powerful leaps brought Sailor V into Natsuna's line of sight, the blonde beauty a shadow against the moon, then she was gone.
"Good luck," Natsuna shook her head with a smile before getting back to work.
Sailor V dropped to a roof, scooping up the white shape waiting there before leaping off again. "You heard?" she asked.
"Every word," Artemis answered, the little white cat clasped close to her. "It doesn't feel Negaverse related," he said, "I think it may just be a ordinary robber."
"Nice for a change," Sailor V said dryly. "So I'm going to the unveiling, what sort of face do you think I should wear?"
"Oof," Artemis puffed out as they hit a roof then were launched into the air again. "The young socialite, I think," he said, "just drop that annoying laugh you used last time."
"Aww," Sailor V pouted then laughed much more normally.
The city was still dark as Sailor V reached the mansion, the young blonde moving carefully on the balcony. The house was in one of the best parts of town, a sprawling building that suited the prestige and wealth of the Tomoe family.
"Who's there?" a figure called, the silhouette moving to the balcony doors. She was young, early teens, with short black hair framing a pretty face. She saw who was standing outside and her eyes widened, ":Sailor V!"
"Miss Tomoe," Sailor V nodded. 'How did she know I was here?' she wondered, 'I was nearly silent.' Aloud she said, "I hoped that you would speak to me, tonight."
"Of course," Hotaru Tomoe stepped closer, the nightgown she wore fluttering around her.
Sailor V blushed slightly, looking away from the girl's near nudity. "I didn't mean to interrupt your sleep," she murmured.
"I was just thinking about tomorrow," Hotaru shook her head. She smiled at Sailor V, her delicate perfume carried by the breeze, "How can I help you?"
"You've been targeted by the thief Twenty Masks," Sailor V made herself concentrate on her work, "but do you know why?"
Hotaru shook her head, closing those striking violet eyes as she said, "I have no idea why this criminal would be interested in me."
'She's lying,' Sailor V realized, 'but why?' She moved away, putting a hand on the rail of the balcony, "I'll be watching over things, tomorrow."
"Wait...." Hotaru started but Sailor V was gone, the blonde disappearing into the darkness.
"That's interesting," Artemis muttered once she picked him up from his nearby hiding place.
A faint blush colored Sailor V's cheeks as she thought of the surprisingly pretty young woman, "Yes, it was."
The next day was cloudy, the summer sun struggling to burn through the misty cover. There were security guards stationed all around the Cultural Center, some in plain clothes the others dressed in uniform to make a robber hesitate. Minako Aino spotted them all, of course, but she didn't think they'd get much use today.
'This is far too public for Twenty Masks,' the young woman also known as Sailor V thought, 'she seems to prefer the shadows.' Minako showed the pass to a guard stationed by the gate, one who checked it and her over carefully. The blue party dress hugged her slim body, the low cut top boldly highlighting her cleavage and the high skirt showing off nice legs.
"Go on in, miss," the black haired man said with a nod and a soft gulp.
"Thanks," Minako answered with a wicked smile as she moved in through the front gate.
The Cultural Center was a newer building, one that was constructed more in a western style, a square, blocky shape in concrete. There were stone steps leading up to the entrance, a large porch extending out ten feet before the doors. On that porch the presentation was going to be happening, a band of older officials and a black haired young lady standing beside a drape covered object.
Hotaru Tomoe was dressed somberly, the black dress fitting her nicely. Her short black hair framed a delicate face, pale skin vivid on black. Her face was serious as she listened to the officials talk away, then she frowned slightly. Almost as if she felt Minako's eyes on her Hotaru turned to zero in on her, the girl's eyes meeting Minako's.
'Those violet eyes again,' Minako thought in surprise, 'I wonder if that's her natural color or contacts?" They stood there for a long moment, each silently gazing at the other, then Hotaru turned away to talk to the representatives of the city.
Using her charm and a warm smile Minako smoothly made her way forward through the crowd of guests and the press, waiting not far from where the presentation was going to take place. With some amusement she recognized several of the plain clothed officers in the press of people, and up on the stage Natsuna kept a wary eye out.
'Natsuna looks so good in a suit,' Sailor V noted, 'I almost wish....' then she shook her head. Minako and her had met back in London, when Natsuna had pursued Sailor V thinking she was a criminal, but eventually they had become allies. There even had been some flirting there, but in the end the age difference between them had gotten in the way. 'Not to mention Natsuna falling in love with someone else,' she thought.
All the speech making was pretty boring, the representatives of the Cultural Center almost too overdone in their praise of Miss Tomoe, then the various city politicians who were looking for votes took a turn. Hotaru herself kept her comments short and to the point, thanking the city and it's people for supporting the Center then moving on to the unveiling.
The oldest man on the stage took the drape in his hands and pulled, then a soft gasp of surprise and alarm rang out. The sculpture itself was remarkable, a lovely image of the goddess Venus, but what really drew attention was the note that someone had attached to the bare breasts.
"The Venus will be mine by midnight," the note read, signed at the bottom, "Twenty Masks."
The police around the sculpture went mad as they scurried around looking for how Twenty Masks had gained access and Natsuna glared around intensely. The politicians and officials had a fit but oddly Hotaru stood calmly, speaking reassuringly as they all panicked.
It took Minako a few moments to reach Natsuna's side, the officer subtlety waiting for her to make contact. "Obviously Twenty Masks got here long before the unveiling to add that note," Natsuna murmured to her quietly.
"Exactly," Minako agreed, "you can dust the note for fingerprints, but I doubt you'll get anything. Twenty Masks has been too careful so far, I doubt she'd screw up like that."
"We'll try anyway," Natsuna answered, "so what will you do now?"
"Stand guard tonight," Minako shrugged, "the note gives me two reasons."
"Two?" Natsuna blinked.
"There's the challenge that the note represents," Minako answered, "and there's one other thing: Sailor V stands for Venus." With that Minako slipped away as silently as she came.
Hotaru Tomoe made her way over to Natsuna, the grave young woman looking up at the older officer. "Who was that young woman?" she asked, seemingly casual.
Natsuna lied smoothly, hiding her surprise that Hotaru had been attentive enough to see them talking together, "One of my undercover officers, though I'm sorry to say I can't mention her name."
Hotaru gazed off into the crowd where Minako had disappeared, her expression thoughtful. "Thank you, officer," she smiled politely then turned back to the anxious politicians.
"Miss Tomoe, what are we going to do?" the curator of the museum bleated.
"Don't worry," Hotaru smoothly reassured them, "I'm sure that Sailor V will stop that awful criminal."
'Well, isn't that an interesting comment to make,' Natsuna thought before the officer returned to the demands of her work.
The day passed by quickly, the sun fading away as police were stationed around the Center. Several police cars were parked in front, uniformed officers patrolled the grounds and powerful spotlights swept across the darkness. At the unofficial command post by one of the patrol cars Natsuna sipped her cup of tea, wondering what was going to happen.
"Not bad," Sailor V seemed to drop right out of the sky, landing smoothly by her side.
Natsuna looked cross, "How do you do that?"
Sailor V flashed her a grin, "Professional secret." She set Artemis down on the hood of the car as she continued, "Pass on any relevant information, I'll check the place out." With that she was off, disappearing into the shadows.
"Hi," Artemis gave Natsuna a sheepish smile, the white cat looking mildly embarrassed at being dumped there with the officer.
Sailor V perched on a lamp post then rose, the skirt of her sailor fuku blowing gently in the breeze as she took in the scene. 'The problem with police is,' she thought, reaching out to touch a whisper thin line that stretched from a nearby building to the Cultural Center, 'they never look up.' Using the line and the right equipment access to the center would be terribly easy. As fast as possible she bounded to the roof of the building only to freeze, gazing at what awaited her.
"I've been waiting for you," Twenty Masks said calmly, her voice warm as she sat on the roof, a thermos sitting there beside her. She had taken out the padding from the suit, the curve of breasts and hips now clearly visible under the black cloth. Beside her two cups steamed, the rich scent of hot cocoa carried by the breeze.
"You're awfully casual about being caught," Sailor V said, her body tensed and ready for any move her foe might make.
"I've accomplished what I set out to do," Twenty Masks said simply. She held out one of the cups, "Would you like some?"
Sailor V walked closer, the better to strike if she needed to. "And what did you want to do?" she asked, taking the cup with a wary smile.
Twenty Masks took her hat off, short black hair swinging free. "Trying to meet you, of course," she said with a shrug.
"What?" Sailor V blinked.
"You aren't the easiest woman to contact," Twenty Masks flashed a smile, "so I needed to find a way to get your attention."
"But why did you target someone like Hotaru...." Sailor V trailed off as it hit her suddenly, the pieces falling into place. "Of course," she murmured, eyes narrowing.
Twenty Masks reached up to remove her mask, those violet eyes now twinkling with honest amusement. "I thought you'd get it," Hotaru smiled, sipping her own cocoa. She smoothly rose, "I intend to return all the items to the museums, of course."
"Why did you want to contact me?" Sailor V demanded, trying to ignore the sudden racing of her heart. 'I always liked a woman in a suit,' she thought.
Hotaru set the cup down on the roof, moving with an almost unearthly grace. "I don't know if someone can really fall in love at first sight," Hotaru suddenly stepped close, "but I think it happened to me the first time that I saw you." With that she pressed her lips to the startled Sailor V's, swiftly drawing her into a lingering kiss.
"What?!" Sailor V blurted, pulling back once the kiss ended.
"What's going on?" Artemis demanded into her ear, the communications device she wore keeping them in constant contact.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Sailor V muttered.
Hotaru stepped back, smiling up at her. "I'm sorry if I'm too forward," she said softly, "but I've wanted to do that for so long."
"Gah," Sailor V shook her head, trying to clear it. "You can't be in love with me," she tried to be reasonable, "you don't even know me."
Hotaru put her hand on Sailor V's shoulder, looking up at her with those oddly bottomless eyes. "I'd love to get to know you better," she said simply.
"Oh, boy," Sailor V whimpered.
The criminal known as Twenty Masks made her last appearance that very night, Hotaru quite willingly choosing to retire that identity. Sailor V swiftly brokered a deal between Hotaru and Natsuna, closing the case without bringing too much publicity to either the police force or the Tomoe family. Over time Hotaru won Sailor V over, both in her civilian identity and as Sailor V's new partner in crime fighting.... the mysterious Sailor Saturn.