It's been YEARS since I last updated this, but I found part of this chapter on a old hard drive and remember that I swore I would finish it so here I am. Writting and getting back into the universe has made me nostalgic, great times and great friends. So to all the old gang at XL, fellow swimmners of the gutter and the Night Owls, this one is for you. XD
A week had passed since he had taken Momo to dinner and he was still walking on air. Everywhere he went smiles lit his face, he was whistling and joking with the crew and everyone was overjoyed to have the old Little Master back.
At the moment however Mary was pestering him to look over the final list of guest for the gala.
"C'mon Lil Masta! It might be a party but you still have dignitaries who are comin and you need to put a face to the name." Mary said smacking his arm with the data pad.
Jr grunted, "I know I know, I hate having to act all official at parties, everyone else gets to relax and have fun, but I have to meet, greet and kiss babies."
"If you think about it Little Master, for everyone one of these events you have months in between that you get to have fun with the crew." Shelley chimed in from her console, fingers still flying. "What other captain of a ship has such a close relationship with his subordinates that you know?"
Yeah!" Mary added, cocking her hands on her hips. "And what is this about kissing babies? Are you doing things we don't know about?"
Rolling his eyes as a smile cracked across his face he explained. "It's an old term politicians used back on Lost Jerusalem when they had an official function that involved the media. I found it in one of the books Jin sent me." Mary opened her mouth to reply but Jr continued before she could utter a sound, "I also realize how lucky I am to have the crew I do and I am more than willing to put up with some self-centered politicians so they can have a little fun themselves."
Closing her mouth Mary raised her eyebrows, "Why if I didn't know better I'd say our Lil' Master is all grown up."
"Yet you still call me Little Master….?" Jr questioned lightly.
Mary laughed, "What do ya want us to call you? Not so Little Master?"
"Ok, ok I was just joking!" Jr exclaimed, enjoying the banter. "Give me the list and don't worry I won't forget anyone."
"We'll see about that…" Mary said cryptically looking over at her sister who had for the moment stopped typing.
Grimacing Jr groaned, "What do you mean, you two better not have any surprises for me, I hate it when you do this!"
While Mary laughed Shelley showed a rare smile and elaborated for her confused boss, "Do not worry Little Master, there are no surprises planned."
"Now I am really lost." Grumbled a forlorn Jr. "As if I didn't have enough going on…"
"Just go study your list and say hi to MOMO for us, she should be in the conference hall helping set up." Mary directed him. "And yes I do so know you were gonna go see her, every spare minute you have your with her so I don't wanna hear a word otherwise."
A sheepish grin on his face Jr waved his thanks to the sisters and walked down the ramp to the lift, Mary was right about his time with MOMO; every spare moment wasn't enough though.
"How's this look?"
"Umm, three inches to your right should do it." Momo told her sister, who was pinning a banner above the main doors to the conference hall.
Balancing on one foot and stretching her small body as far as it would go her sister placed the corner of the banner on a magnetic strip on the wall.
Turning around Momo admired the large space spread out before her, technicians where testing the lighting system, red, blue, green and gold flashing off of mirrored balls hung from the ceiling, elegantly set tables lined the walls and the band playing scales softly as they tuned their instruments. She couldn't wait; flurries of butterflies rose in her stomach every time she thought of dancing with Jr out there, in front of everyone. A smile brightened her face as she let herself get lost in the daydream.
Snapped out of her fantasy by the screech she whipped around in time to see her sister fall from the ladder onto the unfortunate person who had walked in the door and under the banner; scarring her enough to throw her balance off.
A dull thud echoed through the hall as the tangled bodies settled on the floor, immediately queuing her ether circuit to heal Momo rushed over to her sister and the person who ended up being her pillow.
"Are you ok?" She asked even as she began her scans.
"!" Her sister rushed out as she untangled herself from person under her.
Finished with her sister and finding nothing broken Momo started scanning the other person, "Oh my."
Body shaking with laughter Jr rolled over and grinned widely at the two surprised realians. "You girls are a lot heavier than you look!"
"Jr!" Momo exclaimed. "That wasn't very nice."
Grin faltering he tried to explain, "That's not what I meant, I just meant that for being so small….oh hell."
Standing rigidly next to Momo, eyes downcast her sister flushed a brighter red than her boss's hair. Jr sat up, turned around; squatted in front of the small girl and placed a hand on her shoulder, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it the way it came out, are you ok?"
She nodded but still refused to look up. "I am ok, are you alright Little Master?" She whispered, barely audible.
"Yea, I'm ok, it'll take a lot more than someone as small as you to put me down for the count." He told her with a smile, you're Neo, right?"
Peeking from under her bangs, gold eyes wide she nodded, "Yes, I am Neo, I am sorry Little Master you scared me when you came in. You came to see Momo right?"
"Huh?" Momo and Jr asked, looking at each other.
Light flashing in her eyes, Jr swore he saw something mischievous there, "You came to see Momo right? You should have been here helping her set up, that way you could spend more time together. You are supposed to be together all the time. Have you guys kissed again?"
Both blushing furiously, they looked at the girl, shocked by her sudden forwardness. "Um, uh, ho…how do you know we kissed?" Momo asked her sister.
"Everyone knows," Neo stated as If they were mocking her, looking directly at her boss. "Don't get me wrong, we are all rooting for you, but if you hurt her Little Master…"
Neo smiled sweetly, bouncing on her heels much like her older sister, "I have to finish setting up, but you two stay here and talk, thank you for breaking my fall Little Master. Bye!"
Sitting in stunned silence they watched Neo run off to the other side of the room, where two other 100-series were putting the finishing touches on the head table.
Looking over at Jr Momo shrugged, "I have no idea."
Jr shook his head, trying to clear the thought of an entire bridge of 100-series watching his and Momo's every move. "Anyways…this place looks great."
"Oh, yes it does. The crews worked really hard to make it in time, the lighting system didn't come in until yesterday night and they spent all day setting it up."
"Yea? I'll have to make sure to add a tip in their checks." Jr said absently. "Tonight is going to be really fun; I can't wait to eat either, I haven't had a chance to sit down today."
"Do you want me to get you something?" Momo asked.
Jr reached back and picked up the data pad that had gotten tossed during Neo's fall. "Naw, don't worry about it, I still have a bunch of stuff to do. I just wanted to stop by and see how you're doing today."
Momo's cheeks flushed, "So you did come just to see me?"
Scratching his head Jr grinned. "Uh, well. Yeah."
Happy but embarrassed Momo clasped her hands in her lap, "Oh, ok."
They both sat in awkward, happy silence neither knowing what to say or do. "So…are you ready for tonight?" Jr asked finally breaking the ice.
"Oh! Yes, Shion arrived yesterday and we are going to get ready in her room, Allen stayed with AJ so she is catching up on sleep right now." She informed him, giggling.
"Good, I haven't seen Shion in awhile, it's too bad that we couldn't get everyone else to come though."
"That would have been nice." Momo agreed. "Maybe we should plan something after this just for us, kind of like a reunion!"
"Hey, that sounds like a plan." Jr grinned. "We can have everyone come here and go to the beach and everything."
"Maybe Allen will have gotten a new swimming suit." Momo wondered giggling at the thought of the green and white stripped monstrosity he wore last time.
Jr laughed, "Oh wow, I almost forgot about that! I kinda hope he didn't so I can give him a bad time."
Momo nodded, laughing too hard to speak.
Wiping a few tears from his own eyes Jr stood up, "It's decided then, after this we will get everyone together; it's been way to long and I want to see Allen, KOS-MOS, Ziggy and everyone."
Jumping to her feet Momo hugged Jr, "I can't wait!"
Laughing Jr wrapped his arms around her and spun around to keep from falling. "Whoa! Trying to keep up with your sister?"
"Maybe she was trying to keep up with me." Momo suggested slyly as they came to a stop.
"Ha ha now you're being silly."
With a twinkle in her eye Momo looked up, "Am I?"
"What're you…" Jr's eye's popped wide, sentence cut short when Momo planted a soft kiss on his lips.
After a moment Momo stepped back, flushed and with a smile on her face. "Thank you for coming to see me, pick me up at eight tonight ok?"
"Uh, sure." Jr said, grinning and happily stunned.
"Ok, see you tonight Jr. Bye" Momo turned on her heels and bounced off towards her sisters.
Still grinning like an idiot Jr wondered what he had gotten himself into, and somewhere in the back of his mind he could have sworn he heard Albedo laugh.
"There is still time to stop this, if you tell them to cancel the invasion they will listen."
In a recessed corner of the office a strikingly beautiful woman sat ramrod straight in what was meant to be a comfortable chair. The pleading eyes that sought to bring out her humanity annoyed her. When she looked at him in this form, she thought of all that potential wasted for so long.
"Even if I was to listen to your prattle and did try to call off the boarding, there are fail-safes in place that ensure its success." Citrine stated coldly. "And if the only resistance you can offer is a weak plea then my disappointment in you is well placed."
When she arrived 4 days ago Gaignun had felt some small spark of hope return, granted she worked for their father but maybe he could bring her around to seeing the dangerous path she was traveling. But each time he returned to his body from the depthless darkness she seemed more resolute in reaching whatever her final destination was.
Fed up and knowing the timetable for the operation was nearing its end he decided to switch tables on her. "Your disappointment in me? What was I supposed to do? Miltia was sealed off, I had killed our father and was nearly killed myself by U-DO. I thought no one but Rubedo and I had survived, maybe if you had come to me earlier things would have been different."
"Different?" Citrine asked, not bothering to hide her contempt. "I have spent the last 20 years of my life preparing for this, and if you had been anything more than useless mutation of me then perhaps you would have searched for the pieces that would have led you right here."
His sunken eyes flaring Gaignun turned to face his estranged sister, "I did search, many times I sat and cast my mind out, hoping to hear some reply, feel some touch of another URTV. You must have heard me." Leaning forward Citrine started to reply when he cut her off. "No, I know you did hear me, we are the same you and I so I know you did. Why didn't you reply to me?"
"Are you done interrogating me brother?" Citrine asked, glaring daggers. "To answer your questions, even though you don't deserve any answers; yes I did hear you. As to why I didn't reply? I was doing what I was meant to do, unlike you who have squandered your abilities, using them to get low-level politicians to agree with you."
Gaignun sighed, leaning back in his chair, "Your right I haven't done much with my powers, but then again I was meant mostly to kill Rubedo if he ever lost control. It has not been easy living with that over my head, if I had known you were still alive; maybe not for better or worse but circumstances could have been changed."
Looking over at her Gaignun saw a glimpse of something pass behind her hard eyes. "You felt it to didn't you, the emptiness of being alone, having no one like you to talk to, hiding everything and putting on a charade for those around you."
Crossing her legs and sitting back in the chair defiantly Citrine closed her eyes, "I had no time to be alone, tasks needed to be accomplished, people and supplies gathered plans set in motion. I was doing what I was meant to do."
"Where you? Weren't you supposed to have children, bear the fruit of our father's labor? And all of these tasks, people and plans, they didn't fill that hole did they?" Gaignun asked softly.
"You do not know me, so stop pretending you do." She replied, less forcefully than before.
"Why did it take you so long to get everything together? Why not act after the Miltian Incident when everything was still in chaos?" He wondered aloud. "Father wasn't one to have just one plan mapped out…"
Seeing her body tense Gaignun felt the waves of hate flow from her. "How did I not see it before, you were the backup, everything had to wait until you were old enough to be his voice. No…it wasn't even that was it, he was just using you as a container until I was ready."
Suddenly he was thrown from the chair and into the wall; breath knocked from him and tasting blood in his mouth he looked up to see Citrine standing rigid as her eyes burned with hate for him. "I was the one he chose to stand by him; I was never just a container. You were too weak to hold his essence; he only needed your connections to complete his plans. You are the garbage, the throwaway. I am the one he chose to sustain him."
Standing slowly Gaignun braced himself on a bookshelf, "Is that what he told you? You're not that naive Citrine, stop all of this now and live your own life, he isn't worth it."
"Oh and all of this is?" She asked hotly, sweeping her arm about the room. "Playing nice with your little friends, going on adventures? Being at Helmer's beck and call? You could have so much power; you could have made Father proud!"
"You're right, I knew what he wanted; I could have followed his plans and made up for killing him. Become the prodigal son, given my life so that he could live again and finally defeat U-DO. "
"But that doesn't matter does it, you are so blinded by your need for him to accept you, praise you that you will do anything he asks, even killing your own last brothers, the only people who could possibly begin to understand you."
Silence permeated the room as Gaignun stared at his sister as she turned her back to him; saw her fight within herself hoping she would see her chance to break free from her bonds.
Then laughter filled his mind.
"Are you done having your fun?"
"No, not now." He thought desperately, bringing every defense he knew to bear.
"She is exactly what I made her, nothing more; a means to an end." Yuriev whispered inside him. "She will do as she has always done, because that is all she has ever done. Now be quiet, the time is at hand."
Pain exploding though him, Gaignun fought his father, holding out for just a moment before the darkness swallowed him whole.
"You don't know what I have been through," Citrine began to explain.
"Silence Citrine, there is work to be done. Is everything ready?"
Snapping back around she stood face to face with Yuriev, his eyes cold and questioning. "Ye, Yes Father, everything is in place."
"Good, now do as you have been instructed and forget your "brothers." He told her, smoothly walking to the large desk. "By the time this is over Rubedo will be dead and I already have complete control of this body."
Watching him sit and open the channel to his contacts, a small part of Citrine that had heard her brother withered and died. "Yes Father."
Standing in front of the full length mirror Jr adjusted his tux, failing again to find an angle that was remotely comfortable. "I swear one of these days I am gonna force Gaignun into something other than one of his suits and see how he feels."
Tugging at the starched collar, trying to give his neck a little room he thought, "I am going to find out what is up with him tonight too" He's never been so quiet this long about anything either, hell he didn't even say anything about me and Momo all this week and I know he felt that."
A chime sounded though his quarters pulling him from his thoughts; looking over at the display he noticed the time. "Crap, I am gonna be late picking up Momo!"
Glancing one last time in the mirror and seriously considering just changing back into his usual attire he remembered that Momo was getting dressed up to. Grinning widely and feeling not the least bit foolish he winked to his reflection, turned heels and headed out to pick up his date.
"Umm, Shion are you sure this looks ok?"
"Momo, for the last time you look better than fine, alright?!" Shion called from the bathroom, which was stylistically hidden behind a panel that blended perfectly into the wall when closed. "And I should know, I designed your body!"
Blushing at the thought of Shion going over her measurements in fanatical detail, Momo nervously smoothed her hands over her dress again. The deep violet sleeveless gown she had picked out with her sisters earlier that day flowed over her hips and reached just above the floor. Her toes peaked out from beneath the hem; cradled in a simple pair of sandal-like heals that strapped around her ankles. Shion had curled and teased her hair for an hour, and she had to admit she loved the way it lay on her shoulders and framed her face. She wasn't so sure about the dress at first since it was fairly low cut and the bodice was covered in tiny sparkling gems; she thought it drew too much attention to her chest but her sisters swore up and down that it was perfect…
Since their "date" Momo had been on cloud nine and when Shion had arrived all she could do was gush about it, to the point that Shion could tell the tale as if she had been there. It was like all the awkward, lonely, painful years had been a bad dream and she was just now waking up to reality; they were together and this time she wasn't going to let him go.
"Momo if you keep grinning like that you're face is going to get stuck."
Jumping she turned to see Shion walking towards her snapping her earings on with a knowing smile. "I wasn't, I mean, I just…" She tried to explain.
"Oh yes you where." Shion laughed. "And no your face won't get stuck, I was just teasing you, now that I can."
"What do you mean now that you can?"
Sitting on the edge of the bed Shion grabbed her shoes, "You didn't notice, and none of us were going to point it out but when anyone teased you about finding a guy, or if you saw something that reminded you of Jr you would get depressed and would bury yourself in work for days on end."
"No I didn't." Momo defended, until she saw her friend's face. "Really?"
Shion smiled softly, "Yeah, we all tried to keep the topic of conversation away from that stuff, and not mention the Foundation around you." She explained, slipping on her own heels. "One we didn't like seeing you hurt like that…and two you bring everyone down when you're depressed."
Mortified Momo sat heavily in a nearby chair. "Oh no, I didn't mean to! I am so sorry! You should have told me I would have been cheerier."
"That's why we didn't say anything, you always put others before yourself, you deserved to be a little selfish for once, it's ok to hurt and be hurt you don't always have to be happy for everyone else."
"Still, you should have said something…" Momo started.
"No, we were right. " Shion told her with a mischievous glint of her glasses. "However, now that you and Jr are together I am going to tease you every chance I get!"
Laughing Momo agreed, "Ok, ok I deserve that, just not in front of him right?"
"Oh no, you don't get off that easy, and neither does he. " Shion exclaimed. "He's my friend to and he deserves the ribbing just as much as you."
"No, please Shion?" Momo pleaded, blushing at the thought of her friend teasing her in front of Jr.
"Nope, you're not going to convince me otherwise, besides do you know how long we have all waited for this?"
"Huh? What do you mean?" She asked, curiously overcoming her embarrassment.
Standing, hands on her hips Shion explained, "You two were meant to be together, just like Allen and me. Everyone knew it; we had a poll going at first how long it would be before he came running into the lab and swept you off your feet. After a while though we lost track and just hoped that one of you would stop being stubborn, it was getting close to the point where we were going to kidnap him and leave him tied up in your room."
"Oh my gosh no!"
Laughing again Shion crossed the room to her terror struck friend, "Well…not really but I was tempted." Taking Momo's hands she pulled the girl to her feet, "Yes I am going to tease you, yes it's going to be embarrassing but your happy with him and that is all that counts."
Momo sighed and she smiled, "I am happy with him, even more than last time. This just feels…right."
Shion laughed, "It had better, I am not putting up with you moping around again. Now come on, Jr should be here any minute!"