rating: PG (I know, I'm losing my edge)
Disclaimer: Ooh, I forgot this when I originally posted this chapter! My ass is grass! I'm gonna get sued by Naoko Takeuchi, creator and writer of Sailor Moon, hard core! Why, because I don't own Sailor Moon. Doomed, I'm doomed!
"Can I get you anything else?" A petite waitress asked, adding enticingly as she eyed her customer's round tummy, "Some of our famous desserts?"
Azure eyes shone, "What do you have?" Than grew brighter as the waitress ticked off pies and cakes with her fingers.
"Stop, stop! You won!" The blonde customer laughed and ordered two slices of key lime pie. The waitress pocketed the order with a promise to get it in a jiffy. As she moved to her next table, the customer leaned back and drew in a deep breath.
Damn, spoke too soon.
Usagi cringed and attempted to shrink down in her seat. But the jig was up. She was caught outside the palace without supervision. She was senshi chow.
"U-sa-gi!" Minako over-pronounced as she and Rei descended upon her booth.
Gathering all her courage, honed by years of facing deformed demons and megalomaniac queens, Usagi peered up at her two friends and managed only a squeaked, "Yes?"
Minako's eyes narrowed, "Don't feign innocent with me! You know you aren't supposed to be out in the city by yourself."
Wincing slightly at the veiled panic in the senshi of love's voice, Usagi considered apologizing, but Rei quickly butted in, "In fact, I remember a certain discussion involving you NOT leaving the palace at all."
All apologies and explanations died in Usagi's throat the moment Rei opened her bigmouth, words of outrage fueled by unbalanced body chemistry replacing them, "Discussion? From what I recall, it was more of an order. And I thought I was the queen here."
"Shhh!" Both girls rushed, Minako pushing Usagi further into her booth and Rei sliding onto the bench seat across the table, hissing, "Geez, Usa, why don't you just wear a big neon sign that says, 'Kill me, I'm the Queen'?"
Usagi glared, "Sure, and you can wave all the assassin's my way." Pointing out the crowd of eyes they were beginning to draw to the booth.
Minako saw the tongues being unleashed and quickly interjected, "The point is Usagi-chan, that your life is in serious danger," She than ignored the "Duh" look Usagi cast on her and continued, "and we need to take the proper precautions. We've tried hiding you and that didn't work."
"Obviously." Rei interrupted dryly.
"So now you need to stay closer to us. We can't protect you if you disappear like this."
"I understand that-"
"Then why are you here instead of in your rooms?" Rei demanded, eliciting another annoyed stare from her queen.
"Because, if you'll be so kind as to let me finish a sentence," Usagi looked pointedly at Rei before starting again, "if I allow myself to be locked away, this maniac wins. I can't let that happen." Usagi slanted each girl a pleading glance, her posture begging for understanding from her friends.
It didn't look like she was going to get it.
"Here is your root beer float." The waitress had returned with Usagi's drink order, smiled warmly at the new faces and whipped out her pen and pad, "Some late-comers huh? What can I get for you girls?"
"Oh, nothing." Minako shook her head.
Rei quickly added, "In fact, we're going to le-"
But Usagi's sharp gasp brought the blonde and brunette's gaze to their friend. Panic fled as they took in Usagi's puppy dog eyes and quivering lower lip. Oh no, The Face.
Minako gulped as she felt her resolve slip, "Now, Usagi-"
"Minako, I need to eat. I'm famished, and the nice waitress has already brought me one of the things I ordered."
"We have to leave." Rei began, but much like her cohort, was cut off by watery blue eyes shining with hope.
"Pleeeeease? Let's not forget I'm eating for two. Denying me is denying the nutrition of Chibi-Usa."
Minako groaned, "Low blow."
It was obvious that Usagi would not let up, so Rei let her head droop in consent, "Fine."
A celebratory whoop erupted from the petite queen sitting across from her before Rei added, "But as soon as your finished, we're going home."
Usagi chose to say nothing as she smiled up at the waitress, who stood by patiently. The amused look in her eyes knew that Usagi would win over her friends.
"So what will you two have?"
Minako perused the menu handed to her briefly and ordered. Rei however, just watched Usagi before reiterating, "One meal Usagi, then we're going home."
Usagi simply hummed to her herself and sipped herf loat.
"What? Oh, Rei, you should order." Usagi pointed out, masterfully avoiding Rei's earlier statement.
"Usagi, promise me that-"
"How about you, hun? Can I start a drink for you?" The waitress cut in, throwing Usagi a discreet wink.
Catching it, Usagi nearly bounded from her seat (most likely crippling Minako in the process too) to give the girl a hug. It was always nice to find a kindred spirit.
Sipping at her frosty treat, Usagi giddily plotted the rest of the day.
After all, she never promised anything.
MM MM MM MM MM
Michiru sighed wearily and placed a hand on her partners shoulder. Haruka made no motion to make her think she noticed, but Michiru knew she was listening. After all, one could only take so much silence.
And Haruka did indeed feel her lover's hand resting on her shoulder. Michiru had been her savior for the past month, a mantle she wore often. But Haruka refused to give in, her eyes never breaking from the assassin they had dubbed, "Silent Bob," a name Usagi had sired upon her attacker. A silly moniker for someone who had tried to kill their queen, but it stuck all the same.
Besides, you really don't argue with a woman fivemonths into her pregnancy. Unless your suicidal, then by all means...
As Haruka smiled wryly, she gauged the reaction of "Silent Bob." As usual, nothing.
"Uranus." Michiru prodded, using Haruka's senshi name in front of the assassin.
"Yes?" Haruka answered, her dark blue eyes still burning straight ahead.
"Can I speak to you?" Michiru stood, an obvious gesture that brooked no argument.
Haruka did look up at Michiru then. A silent communication passed between them before Haruka nodded slowly and pushed up out of her seat. They left the room without a second glance to the other occupant. He might as well have been invisible.
When the door clicked shut behind them with a soft click, Michiru released another sigh and ran a handover her forehead, "I think we should call it a day."
Haruka shot a glance at Michiru, then pushed her glove aside to read the time on her wristwatch, "It's still early."
"I don't think we'll miss much." Michiru mumbled sarcastically, receiving a hard glare from Haruka before continuing, "Do you really think he'll ever tell us anything? We've been with him every waking minute for the past month and he hasn't even batted an eyelash."
"He'll talk." Haruka stated, crossing into the small hallway that housed the two way mirror looking into the interrogation room.
"I used to think that too." Michiru spoke softly, siding up next to Haruka, wrapping arms around her lover's waist, "But it's long past time for us to consider where our resources can be better served."
A bitter laugh erupted from Haruka, "So you're suggesting we let this go? Dammit Michiru, he tried to kill Usagi!"
"Yes, he did." Michiru's tone calm, in sharp contrast with Haruka's, "And he's here, locked up where he can never hurt her again. He's where he belongs, now we should be where we belong."
"Where we belong?" Haruka questioned, dropping her chin to her chest to look down into aqua eyes.
Michiru smiled, the serenity of it unchanging in all the years Haruka knew her, "With Usagi. Protecting her. Being her most loyal subjects and even more importantly, her friends."
Haruka absorbed it all very slowly. Michiru was right, of course. The likeliness of "Silent Bob" speaking out was slim and it was Usagi who needed them now. But still-
Haruka finally shook her head and pulled away from Michiru's hold, "I want one more week."
"I think I can get him to talk. I also believe that he can tell us about who is contracting these hits." Haruka's eyes veiled darkly before she added, "Something got to him out there, in the woods that night. I want to try a new angle."
"And all you'll need is a week?" Michiru asked.
"I agree with what you're saying, but I just have a feeling that I can't let this drop. This guy can point us towards the origin of the attacks, I know it." Haruka was the one to pull Michiru into an embrace this time before continuing, "You go ahead and join Usagi. But I have to follow my hunch here. All I'm asking for is one week."
Michiru looked away with what Haruka feared was disappointment. The arms circling Michiru's shoulders tightening momentarily before slowly withdrawing. But Michiru's arms rising to encircle her waist brought Haruka's breath out in a relieved whoosh and her arms back to their perch.
"Well, I suppose one week isn't asking too much." Michiru lifted up on her toes slightly to kiss Haruka softly on the lips before adding, "Hope you don't mind if I take up the offer to be with the queen though. I'd just feel of better use with her."
"No, I don't mind." Haruka consented, "I promise I'll come up for dinner tonight."
Michiru smiled again as she made her way to the winding steps that led to the main hallway of the palace, "I'll hold you to that."
"I'll be there."
Michiru paused on the first step and looked back ather partner. Aqua eyes shimmered through Haruka'sbefore they trailed to the entryway of the room thatheld their ever silent prisoner, "One week?"
"One week." Haruka reiterated, nodding her head.
Michiru too nodded, hair a shade lighter then her eye stumbling over her shoulder. Without another word, Michiru turned and climbed the staircase. She felt
Haruka's gaze on her back until she disappeared from view, and knew that they would continue to watch for a bit to come.
A soft smile crossed Michiru's lips at this. So much time had passed, so many experiences and battles, and she was still the incurable romantic. But Michiru knew within her that Haruka's deep blue eyes would stay frozen in the place she had seen her last. Too often Michiru had caught or felt them to believe otherwise.
Pulling her henshin wand from her pocket, Michiru debated whether or not she should drop her transformation. She was only begging to be mobbed walking around in her fuku in the middle of a work day in the palace. Then again, it was best if one of the new senshi were seen out and about. Hotaru was constantly shacked up with Usagi, keeping her company when Ami and the rest of the inner's insisted Usagi stay in bed. Setsuna, though she hadn't joined them in the wood rescue, was there, constantly in conference with Mamoru. She hadn't been to the Time Gate, but only because everyone knew that it was already guarded, by the Pluto who would die in the future. It was a confusing thing, time, and Michiru and the other senshi accepted that Pluto's life was aconstant roller coaster. Meanwhile, Michiru and Haruka had been with the captive assassin. Though rumors of the new senshi circulated through the kingdom, few believed it since they were rarely seen.
Deciding that it was time for Sailor Neptune to make an appearance and feed the rumor bins, Michiru tucked away her wand. The more allies that Usagi appeared with, the better. The people of Crystal Tokyo would have to become acquainted with the outer senshi just as they had with the inner.
Michiru reached the door and punched in her security code. The door slid open and Michiru found herself nearly blinded by the shimmering brightness. The crystal walls intensifying the sunlight did little to help her cause either. That was something Michiru and the other outers had yet to get used to. It seemed that no matter what time of day, or even night, the palace gleamed and shone with unfiltered light.
It was odd how the palace reflected its monarch so well. Beautiful, bright and warm. It was nearly impossible to think that the architect had no one in mind but the queen when he designed it.
Chuckling softly, Michiru rose a gloved hand to shield her eyes as she stepped out of the dark stairwell. She hadn't gotten very far from it either before she bumped into someone. Apologizing, Michiru squinted to make out the person. Curious orange eyes, a few shades darker then the chin-length cropped hair on the woman's head look back at Michiru with undisguised glee.
"Oh, your one of those new senshi, aren't you?" The woman asked.
"Yes, I am."
A broad smile crossed the woman's features as she cooed, "Oh, you're the first one I've seen! Which planet is yours?"
Michiru couldn't help but bristle a bit under the young woman's tactless questioning. By the look of her dress, and according to the golden band carrying the insignia of the Crystal Millennium on her middle finger, the woman was a noble, a member of the queen's court. And though the noble-woman's brash behavior rankled Michiru some, she recognized the other woman with the respect her position promised her.
"Neptune." Michiru finally answered, slightly bowing her head.
"How delectable to meet you! I am Lady Penelope, Representative of Europe and a Member of Neo-Queen Serenity's Continental Court." The woman, Lady Penelope, introduced herself. Properly as well, Michiru couldn't help but notice. Lady Penelope only seemed to care about the properties of title and station when it came to her own. Michiru fought back the childish impulse to bring up how the senshi were not only blessed with the powers of the planet's, they were also the princess's of their respective home-world. Swallowing the retort down, Michiru again bowed slightly, "Pleasure to meet you Lady Penelope."
The lady lifted her brow at the senshi of Neptune's slightly veiled lack of interest or even respect at her regal bearing. Allowing the insult to slide, Penelope's attention was diverted by the door from which Neptune had just exited, sliding closed behind her. The finely arched brows gathered as she asked, "I didn't realize that door led anywhere special enough for a warrior of the planets to be in. I don't recall ever being shown that room. What is it?"
Michiru glanced over her shoulder briefly before answering, "Nothing of much importance my lady."
"Oh? Well if you need a code to enter it, it must be of some importance." Penelope insisted, walking over and patting the security box, her orange eyes challenging Michiru.
Seeing that the nosy "Representative of Europe," would not be satisfied without an answer of some sort, Michiru stated, "You're right my lady. Very astute of you to notice." Michiru pitted Penelope's ego some before continuing, keeping her tone light. As if she were jesting with the lady, "It actually leads to a dungeon where we keep dangerous criminals to interrogate and torture them."
Penelope blinked, looked from Michiru, to the door, then to Michiru again before allowing a slightly wobbly smile to turn up the corners of her mouth, a feeble attempt to hide her confusion, "You're playing with me."
Michiru smiled too, her heart softening a bit to the Lady Penelope. Her holier-than-thou front seemed to be Penelope's way of hiding her youth. Michiru saw her naivety and inexperience with the slight quiver of her lower lip. The lady was really not much older then Hotaru. And Michiru understood how it felt to carry a great deal of responsibility at a young age.
"Yes, my lady. It was a joke." Michiru amended, "The room is simply where the other senshi and I hone our powers. We keep it locked so nobody wanders down while we train. It would be very dangerous for anyone to get caught in the crossfire."
"Oh, I see." Penelope nodded, her gaze glued to the door, her expression suddenly unreadable.
Michiru felt a sliver of unease at the lady's peculiar reaction, but dismissed the feeling as exhaustion. Bowing her head to the lady once again, Michiru took her leave, "If you'll pardon me, I have other business to attend to this afternoon."
Penelope didn't answer for a moment before she waved a disinterested hand Michiru, "Of course. It was lovely meeting you."
"As it was to meet you." Michiru responded, than turned on her heel. Walking down the long corridor, Michiru slowed as she came to her turn. Checking over her shoulder, Michiru noted in puzzlement that Lady Penelope still stood at the door of the hidden interrogation room, the same unreadable expression on her youthful features.
MM MM MM MM MM
Haruka reentered the interrogation room and pulled out her chair. Flipping it around, she straddled it, disregarding the fact she was in her fuku, short skirt and all. The assassin could only see her from the waist up anyway. Propping her forearms on the back of the chair, she settled her chin down on her arms and met "Silent Bob's" dead gaze head on. She hated those eyes. They just stared forward, unblinking, gazing as if he could see through her, the wall behind and every other surface until all that was left was nothing. It was like he was dead, but his conscious brain was still working. He absorbed what was going on around him, but could do nothing.
Haruka breathed evenly, the rise and fall of her chest matching his. She tried to connect with the assassin in every way possible, all but one. Only because it seemed too taboo to use with the king or Michiru around. The one link she believed would get "Silent Bob" to talk, was Usagi.
The queen had gotten to him somehow, she could just feel it. The topic was impossible to broach. It seemed like insanity to discuss the queen with one of the men who tried to kill her.
But it was the only way. Haruka could feel it in her bones.
"I've known the queen for a very long time." Haruka began without preamble, taking her eyes away from the assassin's, training them on the metal table sitting between them. For this to work, Haruka would have to delve into herself and her love for Usagi. It may be a huge mistake, but Haruka was willing to risk it if it could help her protect her queen and beloved friend, "She hasn't changed much since I first met her too."
"I thought she was the silliest person to walk this Earth, let alone be a princess when we first met. Didn't have much confidence in her abilities as a leader, or monarch. I thought I was better then her. But I was wrong. Though my power was stronger, her compassion and love was, and still is, something I could never obtain. She is selfless, and pure. She loves with her whole being. Some would say that makes her soft, unfit to rule. Through my personal experience, that is something one must have to sit on a throne."
Haruka looked up at this, hiding her surprise when she saw that the assassin was looking back at, not through, her, "But you already know this, don't you?"
"Silent Bob" lived up to his name as he remained stone-faced. But Haruka could see in his eyes that he heard her, and understood what she was saying.
"Another thing I find amazing about the queen, is her incredible capacity to love those who mean her ill. More times then I can count, she has risked her life for those who want to destroy her and this planet." Haruka eyes sparked as she remembered how Usagi went after Saturn in the battle with Pharaoh 90. How she fought to help Galaxia defeat Chaos. Such a heart was rare one could only dream to see things so simply.
Haruka fought back uncharacteristic tears as she continued quietly, "She'll help you too. She tried to do it once, remember?" Haruka recognized the memory flashing briefly in the assassin's eyes. 'I knew it. I knew it.'
"She doesn't care what you've done, what you've tried to do. What she wants is for you to find peace. If you let her, she can help you. But you have to help us. Someone is out there, someone who wants to destroy everything good in this world. We cannot let her die."
Haruka watched as the assassin contemplated her words, but it did not look like the decision would be in her favor. Sighing warily, Haruka added, "No matter what you choose, the queen will do anything in her power to see you are safe. That is what makes her a great queen. As long as she lives, every man and woman on this planet has one friend that would do anything for them. No matter what, the queen would die for you."
And it was this truthful observation from a weary senshi that swayed the forces of evil in the queen's favor.
To Be Continued…
Yay! Done! What did ya'll think? R&R if you're feeling pleasant.
Written: September 24, 2001