Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon.

Author's Note: I'm in between Teen Titans fictions and to fill in the time, I've been watching my S tapes and getting an idea for a pair that's always in the backburner for me. I only have access to the S dub for transcriptions but I won't overdo. Given my new direction here, I will include lemon scenes, and can be found on other sites or personally requested. A personal crisis and deadlines, I couldn't finish this one shot in time, so I shall chapterize and then remerge as I finish. Thank you for patience.

Forgive my betas for they have life to contend with first.

Ready Go!

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The alarm clock's buzzing slowly nudged her to consciousness. She opened her eyes, and noticed the soft glowing numbers flashing in front of her. She murmured in her sleep and hesitantly touched the sleep button on the alarm.

'What day is it? Thursday. Oh yes, a very special day. And almost time for her birthday too, come two days. So much to do.'

She felt the body next to her stir slightly. 'And Mr. Lazy bones haven't helped that much at all.' She sat up and just watched him sleep for a few minutes. 'Still, wouldn't have him any other way.' She bent over and caressed his cheek and his ivory blonde hair.

'Such a heavy sleeper. That man can sleep through anything.' Kaolinite Tomoe kissed her husband on the cheek.

He mumbled in his sleep. "Kaori, no more right now, you already had it 4 times…"

She laughed lightly. "No, got to save something for tonight. I'm going to bake you a cake with so many layers." She whispered as she played with his hair.

"Heaven knows you're quite the cook." He turned to face her. "I was always one for your prized sundaes. If…I was to indulge in such matters." He gave her a sly look.

"You for indulgence, Souichi? Perish the thought." She arched an eyebrow.

"Not even I am above such…cherries like yours, but time and place." His eyes wondered down her translucent nightgown. She nearly blushed as he leered.

"Always good to know that not even the emotionless, all business, scientist Souichi Tomoe is not above his hormones." She smirked as she undressed and leaned in front of him, her naturally endowed breasts inches away from his mouth.

"I wouldn't be much of a male if I could ignore such…delectable fruits. But I'd delay instead." He quickly crawled out of bed and grabbed his glasses, the jeweled right eye lens shining in the dark.

"First things first, I have my research to do. I'm close with my Daimon research, and finding the right Hoste for them. But I'll be done in plenty of time for your…cake." Souichi about licked his lips.

"Don't forget, we have Hotaru's recital to go to tonight and her birthday in two days." She kissed him slowly.

"Indeed, she's worked hard for this. But I'm not worried, she's a Tomoe, she has the potential for anything in her blood." He gesticulated.

"And God knows what else she picked up from dear Papa." Kaolinite said coyly.

"Oh hush, you'll give your contributions to the Tomoe gene pool soon enough. I'll see you at the breakfast table." He leaned over and kissed her on the lips. She saw her chance and wrapped her arms around him and rubbed her breasts against his chest.

"Sure I can't give it now?" She whispered.

"Time and place. We'll make tonight extra special, no birth control. Until then, you're going to have to wait. Work and research first, playing later. You used to be a secretary, you should know that." He placed his finger on her lips.

"Pardon if sleeping with the boss has clouded my visions." She licked his finger, but she didn't need his guilt trip, not this day.

"Oh, Kaori, wish you'd focus on what's important. My research keeps food on the table and gives Hotaru the best education there is and sadly, I have to sacrifice my pleasures so we can have all this." He was giving the usual 'responsibility' speech.

"I know, Ichi, but I thought with today…"

"No exceptions, not when I'm so close." He backed off and began to walk out of the bedroom, he hesitated for a minute.

"But…I can call in late tomorrow. And I'd be remiss if I didn't say happy wedding anniversary. I'll see you there." He didn't look back. Kaolinite had a small smile.

'Yes, you would be. The life of a scientist's wife. The price we pay for such ambition. Damn it.'

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Kaolinite got dressed in a ruby robe and walked the long hall into the kitchen, the whiff of pancakes permeating the air.

"I wish I didn't have all these lines to recite." Hotaru's young voice complained.

"The price we play, at least you're not the star. Imagine all those lines." Souichi just laughed as he flipped up another pancake, Kaolinite just lingered in the hall. She knew Souichi tried to spend as much time as he could with both her and Hotaru separately but the Mugen Gauken's research has been pushing him to his limits lately. The females understood but they didn't want to waste a private second with their man, their past rivalry has become muted, but not lacking its intensity.

'I'm in a good mood, let them have their time, I should get ready for my chores today.' She walked in the opposite direction.

"True. Good thing I don't wish to be an actor." The 13 year old inhaled her pancake slice.

"I don't know. Barrymore, Brando, Tomoe. Has a nice ring to it."

"Papa, why must you dwell the past so much? Not many care about the old fogies of the past, only the new."

"You mean the testosterone laded, perfect hair, young devils of the today who you'd rather rent skies from than pointing a camera at for the purposes of entertaining the masses? Give me a Waterston any day. He out act, out class, out charm all those juvenile narcissists."

"Who, Papa?"

He just rolled his eye. "Never mind."

"When are you and Kaolinite going to show up for the recital tonight?" She was afraid if he would be with her, an unfortunate side effect, especially for today or worse: be delayed with yet another experiment again. As time goes on, he has begun to submerge deeper and deeper back to his old ways.

"7:00 as promised. 7:15 at most, you know how my experiments go sometimes."

"I know, Papa." She suppressed her true emotions. "Can I have another pancake?"

"Of course, I don't want you skin and bones." He offered her another pancake.

"If I'm going to get fat, it will be based on good food. Although I wouldn't mind eggs benedict."

"Oh, no, I do that, you won't fit the door. Here, have one more, then I'll take you to school." He shoveled the last one on her plate.

"Kaolinite isn't going to?" She took a bite.

"No, and in case I'm late tonight and don't see you. Besides, if I'm early for work, the earth won't stop on its axis. And…a father/daughter talk wouldn't hurt us. I'll go get ready." He finished up and left the room. She lingered eating her last pancake.

'Just wish the day would end already. But at least with the recital and that, he'll be around for the night. Been a year today and still getting used to this. Could be worse: they could have wed on my birthday or Papa and Mama's wedding anniversary. Although my luck never was that good to begin with.'

She placed the dishes in the sink and picked up her briefcase as she began to have a throbbing migraine.

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Kaolinite slipped into her usual revealing vest and short skirt. She mused about changing her wardrobe but old habits die hard. She always made a point to stare at herself in the mirror on the morning of this day. She often wonders what stares back at her.

'What role will I be this year? Secretary to the great Souichi Tomoe? Wife? Stepmother? Myself?' She gave a breathless laugh. 'Myself? When was the last time that happened?'

The sunlight was peeking through the Venetian blinds, the beams falling on a triangular prism Souichi had as long ago as a child. The rainbow light danced throughout the room. She felt a fragment of a memory looming over as she stared at the prism.

'No! This can't be!'She felt as if she was inside the prism. Every corner in her eyes, reflected back an expression of such horror and terror on her face, it made her skin crawl.

She massaged her temples as the memory disappeared into the prismatic light.

'Where did that come from? Just saw the prism and I…' She walked out of the room. 'My mind must be playing tricks on me, but why start with the prism? No, I best not obsess, I have much to do today before the recital and then…' Her mind started to wander about Souichi and the wonders of his mouth.

"Honey?" A voice began to cut in.

'Honey indeed…'

"Honey?" The voice became louder. She snapped out of her trance.

"Oh, Souichi. Sorry, I was lost in thought." She focused her eyes.

"I'm sure, but I'll spare the adage 'penny for your thoughts' for now and tell you I'll take Hotaru to school today."

"Oh? I was about to get ready." Her mind shifted gears.

"Yes, I'm picking up a vibe of her. I figure a father/daughter chat wouldn't hurt. I'll see you at the auditorium at 6:30." He kissed her softly and walked her out of the room.

"Yes, right. Good luck…" She sighed and stared outside, letting the event sink in.

'Best get to work.'

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Hotaru felt her stomach doing flip flops during the car ride; she was wondering who would break the silence first. Souichi was zigzagging with the cars, he stopped at a red light, and she saw her chance.

"Papa?"

"Yes?"

'Should I get to the point?' "Papa, are you sure you'll be able to make tonight?"

"Of course, haven't you already asked this in the kitchen? We'll be there."

'Yes, we.' "I know Papa, but you do get absent minded at times, and you…forget."

He gave off a hard sigh. "I know but you know why. You know how my lab work consumes at times."

"But Papa, I thought when you…married Kaori; you were able to cut down." She forced herself to say the verb.

"I was. But…you shouldn't be surprised with the recent workload. You knew how bad it was before when it was just you and me."

"I know and I'm…glad we haven't returned to that." She was losing her nerve quickly.

"As I am. But…no, the new research doesn't make things easier. With you and me, or our new…family.

'Why did he have to say that word?' "No, it doesn't." She said emotionlessly.

"I know. Just been so at ease, I lost track of how easily I could slip back at my old habits."

"Well…it does happen to the best of us. You're only human, Papa."

Souichi swallowed hard. "Given my research, I sometimes forget that."

"Don't be so…what's the phrase? Histrionic? It's not like you're working on aliens." She smirked.

'You have no idea.' "No, just the byproduct of working with the computer data stage, makes you detached. More a machine than a living being."

"One of these days, you have to give me a tour of your labs."

"Heh. One of these days."

"You're changing the subject." Hotaru was surprised by her courage.

"I am. I apologize."

Hotaru made no response.

"I wish I was aware of this sooner."

She was hesitant; she didn't want to be trapped by the bait. "Papa, you never were the most aware, you always had your head in the clouds. Still do."

"I suppose that's been my problem. Been trying to have my cake and eat it too." His guilt consumed him along with his thoughts.

"Well, then, Papa, in that respect, you're no different than anyone else."

"That may be but it doesn't mean I have to continue being blind like anyone else either. Just…how to circumvent."

"Circumvent?"

"I'm thinking of a possible solution."

"Is there one?"

'If I have to fall on my sword, I have to.' "One, but it could be difficult." The light turned green and Souichi sped up slightly.

"Difficult how?"

"I'm not sure; it's one that would pull a lot of strings. One too many favors."

"Papa, if you can't, you can't. I will be fine." She didn't want her optimism crawling out of the pit.

He sensed her hidden despair. "No, I can do this; it's simply getting my resolve."

"What are you planning to do?"

"I'm not sure. I know my research will soon be done, but…usually as soon as I finish one project, I immediately go to another. Timetables are…deceiving."

"So are most things in life, if you think about it." He felt her barb.

"Duly noted. But it doesn't mean all things are a Trojan horse in the making."

"I suppose not."

He was assessing his few options. 'She's getting rather disillusioned. And before her time, I don't want to dash that away. I can't let her slip away just so I can get my name in an article.'

"But if you give in the cynicism, then you can't say that you're not above everyone else. And give benefit of the doubt."

Hotaru softened her expression. "That's true, but hope only goes so far."

"And I don't want to dash it, not after everything. I'm thinking that after this project is done, I'm going to put in for a long hiatus."

Hotaru's eyes lit up. "Hiatus?"

He sucked in a breath. "Yes, I've put in my time, time to let some young buck see if he can try and trump the Tomoe legacy, either way, I don't care, this old soldier needs to focus on more important things: like you and our family." He said in a compassionate tone, he began to slow down as he approached Mugen.

"For how long?" The only question burned in her mind.

"For as long as it takes. Mugen will be fine without me for a while."

'I really wish that were true, Papa, but I've heard the same song and dance before.' "You know the old phrase, Papa: the proof is in the pudding. I'll see you later. Have a good day." The professor was silent as his daughter squirmed her way out of the car.

"You too…" He gave a hard sign as she walked away from the car and disappeared into the crowd.

"Something has to change."

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Kaori saw the overwhelming pile of papers in her box in her home office. 'The life of a principal.'

When Mugen Gakuen was first established, she was appointed to Principal as a favor to Souichi as to help relieve some of his pressures as his experiments began to take precedent. But once she married him, she cut back on her administrative duties to focus on her new family; thankfully there weren't many troubling students or special events that required her attention. So she let her staff do the work while she remained at home, burning out the fax machines and home computers with her constant stream of paperwork.

'Employee parking. Let them have the spaces or fend for themselves?' She tapped her pen on the sheet when her wandering eye landed on a framed photo of her and Souichi at the Hokkaido forest.

'Why not? I'm in a generous mood. So much for my raise.' She signed the paper and then focused on the next form.

'Science club budget. I don't know. Their budgets are always so inflated. Granted, they pull miracles and additional funding but let's see them fare with a budget like the rest of the clubs for once.' She whipped out a rubber stamp and stamped a red X in the corner.

'Product placement forms for…Daimon materials.' The Damions were Souichi's children, the prelude to the ultimate life form. With longevity and super strength, humanity would reach a grand new age. She never grasped the concept herself, but whatever sinks his canoe.

'Check and check.' She filled out the form, and sighed at the next one. 'Wish the Science club could make a time machine they've been whining about for years, certainly make the paperwork go by faster.'

25 forms and 3 paper cuts later, Kaolinite stood up and stretched. She burned holes at the clock. 'Only eleven o'clock? Souichi's lunch break isn't until 12:30. The shops are near the school anyway. Two birds with one stone.' She began to fax out the signed forms.

'More if he still has that private office.' She grinned slyly as she was finishing her task.

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'1300 yen for this? Not with the paper it's printed on.' Kaori dumped the birthday hats in her basket. She walked around in the birthday section, eyeing banners.

'Wish there was a firefly motif, maybe I can make one myself. I can be creative.' She grabbed a moderately priced black one.

'Wish she wasn't so…what's that lifestyle that the kids are going for these days? Goth? What happened to dying your hair and act more promiscuous? To be 17 again.'

She placed the basket on the counter and checked all her items. 'Banner, hats, candles, I need icing, and food coloring to make it black.'

She walked to the cakes section and passed two twin teenage schoolgirls, each with dyed hair and braids on the opposite sides of their heads and bizarre glasses, on her way to the aisle.

"Can you believe her?" The redhead blurted out when she thought Kaori was out of hearing range.

"I know, exhibitionist." The blue dyed hair one said without a beat.

"That vest any tighter and she'll put someone's one eye out."

"I know. This culture anymore."

"And can she be anymore pathetic? She looks to be in her 30's." The redhead grabbed some ramen packs at the end of the aisle.

"Some women are desperate for the attention. Just didn't think someone was that desperate."

"I wish they'd know that adage 'Age before beauty.'"

"If only."

The two girls continued their conversation as they went to another aisle, leaving Kaori angry by the ramen packs.

'Obnoxious brats. Like they would know how to acquire a man's attention, why don't they spare themselves years of sexual ambiguity and buy for themselves a pair of hers and hers matching bathrobes each?'

She walked to the cake section, still seething in rage. 'Calm down, I got the best man of all; those two look to be the type to be screwing with noodle cooks in the alley of their restaurants.' She gave a smirk as she grabbed vanilla icing from a counter.

'500 yen off if you buy two for one. Wonderful. About time I caught a break. And now I need food coloring.'

With the help of a slightly confused clerk, Kaori found her indigo food coloring and checked herself out. She turned to see the Mugen high rise in the near distance.

'Good thing I bought that two for one for icing.' She thought before heading off to the school.

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The slug Daimon shrieked like a stuck pig as the syringes were injecting a ruby liquid inside. The Daimon's tentacles quickly made short work of the syringes and the mechanical arms holding them.

"R aggression factor increased by 30." Souichi commented to his assistant behind a Plexiglas mirror, a teenager girl with a shock of straight ivory hair with sapphire highlights.

"The culture certainly did the trick, Professor."

"Indeed but it was born from that exact fluid. It's the equivalent of amniotic fluid with human infants. Why would it be full of rage?"

"It could be this particular Daimon, I suggest we dissect its brain." She almost smiled at the possibility.

"No, I don't want it harmed but I want more tests before we go that far. But your lack of empathy concerns me, Ms. Bidou."

"I apologize, Professor. But such opportunities to learn would be lost if we were afraid to cut and dissect into the occasional rat." She bowed before him.

"Spare me the Mengela lecture. I don't need to apprentice an Armin Zola in the making."

"Who, sir?" She asked.

'I swear it must be a recurring theme.' "Armin Zola? The man who experimented on every living thing possible back in World War II and put his brain in…never mind. Just put the Daimon back in its cage." He sighed in frustration.

"Yes, sir." She nodded and left the room.

'Where do they find these kids?' He shook his head and glanced at the Daimon before containment workers arrived.

'I know you'll lead me to greatness, but how?' His stomach began to rumble. 'It will keep; even a scientist needs to care of the basic necessities.'

He emerged from the laboratory and to an elevator and ascended. 'I wonder what's at the commissary today. I could use some octopi and wasabi. Try something different. I still have to check on the Mosaic Buster project but I might as well have Bidou show it to me in the morning, as she's been tinkering with it day and night with her constant revisions.' He noticed the Tokyo harbor skyline as he approached his floor.

'At least one good reason for locating here, it does elicit a certain…serenity with the bay in the background. Dissolves such…petty concerns like Bidou and the Daimon. Perhaps I could spend lunch near the water. Or wait until Hotaru has a break from her final rehearsal. She always appreciated the sounds and sights of nature.' His office had an impressive skyline that reached as higher than most of the skyscrapers in Tokyo, he slowly strolled inside. He left the door open ajar as he approached the window.

'Makes all my research seem quite insignificant, doesn't it?'

He thought he heard someone's footsteps come from the hall but he assumed it was students panicking, rushing to and fro to arrive at their class before the bell.

'Wonder if Hotaru is finished with her lunch break, although…I don't wish to appear that my daughter is getting favors from her father, the owner. Wretched conflicts of interest. Although…in the grand design, it won't matter. None of these…petty issues do.'

He sighed as someone's pale hand slowly crept out and covered his normal eye.

"If this is someone else's idea of a joke, I don't find it humorous."

"Guess who?" A familiar female voice whispered seductively in his ear. He smirked in response.

"How difficult. Hmm…Hiroko Sakurai?"

"No, guess again."

"Kumi Mizuno?"

"Now you're just not trying."

"How about the most attractive woman in existence?"

She smiled. "You guessed right." She nibbled on his neck.

"I already have a feeling I know what I will win but…logic has to assuage me first: what are you doing here?" He turned and on time, blushed at her usual attire.

"I picked up Hotaru's party favors and I thought I'd come and see you." She held up her bag for him to see before she leaned over and kissed him.

"Is there actual business or is this strictly pleasure?" He leered up and down.

"A little of column A, and…quite a lot of column B. Bored waiting for you and being your Principal in the mean time." She nibbled at his neck again.

"Kaori, as much as I would like to indulge, I'd like to savor and halt until tonight. Besides, the school has ears." He tried to grip her shoulders.

"Then we have to be quiet, unless you think you can wait until home to have your cake." She about purred as she lightly squeezed the icing tube.

"My dear, I am appalled that such a high ranking official of one of the highest ranking schools in the world would rather play around and have…fun, than do any work at all." He said loudly as he walked to the door. "And furthermore, I shall enforce strict discipline and teach you…" He firmly shut the door as cacophonous as he could for all creation to hear. "Teach you to be more subtle as I am a subtle man." He lowered his voice after he shut the door.

"Subtlety?" She slinked across to him, leaning against him to do the door. "Subtlety is for those who don't know what they want. Besides, let your actions, like now…" She adopted a Cheshire cat grin. "…speak for you." She mimicked his tone.

"You realize of course, my assistant could pop up in any minute."

"I'm more concerned with a different kind of pop up." She said huskily, as she felt around by his inseam and brushed her hand on his rising erection.

"You're the cook; you've gathered your ingredients. You tell me how you wish to…bake."

"How about we make that cake rise, after we use the proper icing?" She knelt down and began to zip down his fly, icing tube with the other hand.

"You're the chef." He gripped her shoulders again, and led her to his desk.

"Indeed." She mimicked his usual intellectual tone and the last thing Souichi would focus on how unseasonable warm this winter has been.

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The professor slowly arrived to his senses as he collapsed further into the chair. The only article of clothing he had was his lab coat, her sitting, nuzzling by his legs, wore even less.

"You're too good for me." He said exhausted.

"I should say the same for you." She slowly got up and kissed him deeply. "You're far too good for someone like me."

"Pardon me if I try to refute that. And I shall…as soon as I sleep for a hundred years." Kaori just chuckled.

"If you sleep for a hundred after this, how about tonight?"

"I'll be doing my best bear impression." He deadpanned.

"Grizzly or Brown?"

"Grizzly if I get fired because I can't get to my pants." He got up and dug around for his pants, she rapidly snatched them.

"I don't know, I rather like you this way, I love seeing your knobby knees and those lovely birthmarks."

"Those aren't birthmarks, those are hickeys. Now I reiterate, give them back." He approached her with his hand out.

"No, come and get them. Unless you give me a good reason to." She scampered away from him, running to the door.

"Because."

"Just because isn't a reason." She taunted as she rested her hand on the doorknob.

"Because if I don't have pants on, then I'm not doing my job."

"You would if you were conducting sexual research instead. Like Johnson and Johnson."

"Don't be using an obvious reference as an excuse to escape with my pants." He nearly lunged at her. She danced out of her way.

"I'm not one for obscure."

"That may be but this isn't a debate for semantics. Give me my…" She savored seeing the erudite and to some, unfeeling, Professor Souichi Tomoe being so basic, frustrated, and needy like everyone else on the planet. The role reversal was too delectable to her.

"Say please."

"What?"

"Say please or I'll toss them from out of the window and someone will be using them as a kite. Although, it would be an adorable flag."

"You wouldn't." She ran to the window.

"I'm young and in love, I'm supposed to be irresponsible." She batted her eyelashes.

"By the Gods, you are so…" He was quite blustered. "Fine. Can I have my pants back, please?"

"Please what?" She asked in a begging tone.

"Please…mistress."

"Good boy." She flung the pants in his face. "Although you'd be fine without them."

"I could say the same with you and your vest ensemble; I don't know how you keep that on." He struggled as he put on his pants.

"The handyman's secret weapon?" She walked and retrieved the discarded vest and skirt.

"I should have known. And pray to divinity for a few more seconds of righteous covering."

"Righteous? Fine time to turn yourself into a prude."

"Call it an opportunity to reclaim…lost credibility." He barbed as the door began to rattle, the two subtly panicked.

Ms. Bidou slowly opened the door and found a fully dressed Souichi and Kaolinite.

"Professor, I wanted to tell you the Daimon was transferred and…" She hid her bemusement at how wrinkled the duo's clothes are.

"And you couldn't call me over the phone and save yourself the trouble of coming up here with this?"

"I need your signature for this acquisition form for the Mosaic Buster." She produced a clipboard to the frustrated professor.

"You want a transponder?"

"Yes, I'll need to connect the device to my nervous system and a subcutaneous transponder will do that once I inject it into my wrist." She was tempted to bat her eyes if it weren't for his wife standing right there.

'Risk is for the bold.' "And Professor, I believe with the new modifications, I will soon be capable of connecting to the Daimon's nervous system and fuse it to my pulse changes. Thus finally compelling it to obey and correct the emotional challenges of the conversion process and I know you would want to witness that before your very….eye. I wouldn't have achieved my formula if it weren't for your brilliant notes on the original experiment. Tell me, how did you reach your conclusion?" She widened her eyes in admiration.

Kaolinite just harrumphed. 'Can she be more obvious?'

"Well…I first found the equation of the compatibility composition of the inanimate objects with the living tissue matrix by utilizing…" He started to blush.

"Wah, wah, wah." Is all Kaolinite heard between the talkative scientists but she tried to follow along with Bidou and her thinly veiled flirting.

"Well, I have to admit, your theory sounds reasonable, talk to Kaori about getting her to help with the funding paperwork and you'll be all set." He signed the form on the clipboard.

Kaolinite arched her eyebrows. "Excuse me?" 'I'm not about to serve this pasty haired twit.'

"Oh, no, Professor, you don't need to do that, I'm sure the Principal has better uses of her time." Bidou sneered.

'That tone…it's…familiar.' Another memory crept up upon Kaolinite. She remembered hearing that condescending voice before, in this office.

'Hey, you. Cut the flirt act and try to make believe you actually have a use?'

She simply glared at the student. "No, it's all alright, I have some time." 'Even though I'd rather rip out your vocal cords instead.' Ms. Bidou just lightly hid her smirk.

"Thank you, Kaolinite. Now if there is anything else, Ms. Bidou?"

"Nothing, Professor. I have all I need. I shall leave you to conduct whatever business you have with the Principal." She bowed and gave a sideways sneer to Kaori before leaving the room.

'Sanctimonious little…' She burned a hole at the door.

"Something wrong, Kaolinite?" That compassionate tone of his, she heard that before in this office as well.

"Oh, nothing. But who is she anyway?" She walked and sat on the desk.

"Yui Bidou, my new assistant. She's risen through the ranks with her Science Club experiments; I thought promoting her would give her good leadership experience." He followed her and leaned on the desk.

"She sounds like a sycophant to me. Batting her eyes and talking shop, just to get your approval." She spat.

"Oh, no, Kaori, nothing like that, the premise of her experiment just made sense. Hence my approval."

'I'd say it was her breasts with a tight blouse that made sense.' "I suppose. Either way, I'm not going to debate the issue, but I'd get an assistant that wasn't so…manipulative if I were you."

"Duly noted. Moving on, Hotaru's recital is in a few hours." He couldn't bear to look at her glare.

"Oh yes, I should get home and put away everything. Can't have the birthday girl see her surprise party forms just yet."

"I know. I have this firefly painting squirreled away; it was painted when she was born. I thought it would be most fitting for her."

"Interesting choice. But then I shouldn't be surprised, you were always insightful with such matters."

"I hope so. But yes, I have it here in the office, if you wish to see."

"Why not?"

"Hold on, I'll go retrieve it." The professor walked off to the adjacent wall and pressed a statuette down and the wall opened up to reveal a combination safe.

"How long has that been there?"

"Long enough, with school secrets and the threat of sabotage, it pays to be cautious." He was tinkering with the dial.

"Or paranoid." She quipped.

"Whichever works." The tumblers made a sound and he unlocked the safe. A wrapped up portrait was inside, collecting dust.

"Here we go. I remember seeing this when Keiko was pregnant with Hotaru." He carried the portrait to his desk. He slowly removed the canvas.

"I couldn't buy it back then because of…lack of funds. I was still struggling finding a job with my ban."

"Your research, I know."

"And one day, after another failed job interview, I caught this in a display window." The painting was a small girl in a valley, captivated by a swarm of fireflies taking flight. Incandescent glows from each of the fireflies, illuminating the sky, similar to the Aurora Borealis. "The lights, the beauty, the landscape. And the best part, the optimism of the little girl, watching nature and just so enthralled, I hoped that my gestating daughter would be like her. And now…she is."

"Ichi, you alright?"

"Yes, just…realized I have been a cad and once this Daimon research finishes, I am putting in for a hiatus. For her sake and my own."

"A hiatus?"

"Yes, just between gelling my relationship with you, and my job, I'm losing her in the shuffle again." He signed and stared outside.

"I understand…" She felt tinges of regret but panic. One of the issues she had to deal with Souichi and their budding relationship was his lingering guilt involving his daughter and departed wife. She withstood the tears and frustration, but as he surpassed his remorse of his wife, he couldn't with his daughter. She tried to distract him from his angst as long as she could.

"So…when did you come to this conclusion?"

"Today with Hotaru in the car. Made me realize how…I've been spending too much time on…you and the Daimons. I'm slipping back into old habits. A hiatus is an option that I have."

"Are you sure? So what you would do?"

"I have you as Principal; you can take care of the day to day jobs. I have to be with my daughter. I have to make sure she knows that she's in my life." He felt so enervated.

"Am I a part of this at all? Or I'm being shunted to the side?"

"Kaori…"

"Souichi, I think…I understand why but don't think you can just make such major decisions without talking to me first. We're married now, it doesn't work that way."

"I know, but I was torn…I didn't know what you'd think. And there isn't anyone of rank to take over for your job if I take you with me."

"I know. But I'm doing at home with phones, faxes, and the computers, so it's not a hardship. You both know that. What is the real issue?"

He couldn't face her. "She still resents me and…us, doesn't she?"

"No, not exactly. It's more…on me and you replacing me to her. Because you work at home and I work here. I'm never around. It's the same issue of the past. Just relapsing because I'm relaxing."

"And the fact she resents for being her new mother, makes the cheese a little more binding."

"Yes. But at least she's trying to compromise."

"I would like to see that." She said defensively.

"Give her some credit, have you ever talked to her about the situation?"

She was stopped in her tracks. "No."

"There you go. We have to talk to her about this but separately. I think it time to show our respective hands." He gripped his hands on her shoulders.

"Yes, I suppose we do. When?" She could melt in his arms.

"Tonight, after the recital, she'll have enough pressure as it is."

"Alright. And I guess our anniversary is canceled." She said in self deprecation.

"Don't be so negative. When the dust settles, then we shall." He kissed her gingerly.

"Right." She suddenly had her soul sucked out of her with that.

"Well, I certainly appreciate your coming over, and I'll see you back here for the recital." He was escorting her to the door.

"Right." He bent over to kiss her deeply.

"And thank you for the cake."

"Of course…what kind of wife would I be if I didn't know how to bake a proper cake?" She hid her overcompensating. Souichi silently chuckled.

"Ask me that again tonight, take care, dear." He shut the door, Kaolinite just stood there, lingering.

'And the great debate continues and with her…I always seem to lose.' She slowly trudged herself to the elevator.

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To be continued.

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