They were very, very, very late for breakfast, had missed every morning meeting, but were a little early for the lunch meeting that day. It was almost embarrassing, but they were quite unrepentant. They'd had too much fun together and too much wine the night before and were too in love, and well, things happen.
Perhaps they could slip in, they thought, before the others got there. That was the plan, at least. And of course no one would say anything. Too bad it didn't have a chance. You see, it's very hard to keep secrets when you're a senshi at court.
Minako was already seated at the long table, going over some maps, with Kunzite, who stood behind her, peering over his wife's shoulder and twining a hand in her long golden hair. They both looked up as they heard the sound of footsteps on crystal.
Nephrite grinned unapologetically, waving at his superior officer as he held the door for his tardy wife. "Sorry we missed breakfast, Kunzite. Mako-chan would just insist on sleeping in."
He snickered slightly as he heard Makoto's soft, "Nephrite no baka," from outside the room.
Kunzite gazed at him without saying a word, though Minako giggled slightly. "Had trouble getting out of bed ourselves, this morning, didn't we Kunzie?" The mottled color that tinged Kunzite's cheekbones was fascinating and she loved knowing she was the only person who had the power to bring it up.
Makoto entered, patting Nephrite on the hand, and then trailed her hand up his arm in a gentle caress. "That's more than we wanted to know, Mina-chan. Just way too much information."
The senshi of love just gave her friends a knowing wink and pinched Kunzite's backside blatantly, making her husband grunt. However she soon turned back, her intense cerulean blue gaze noting the change in her friend and her smile turned wicked. "Oh! You should talk."
Hearing his wife's startled gasp and sly comment, Kunzite looked over at his friend's spouse. He instantly noted what it was that she had sensed and snapped off the overhead light switch with a soft "Ku," and a psychokinetic push. The lights switched off, but the windowless room did not exactly go dark.
"I knew it," Minako said gleefully, hopping up to hug her friend. She did a little dance of glee. "I knew it from the second you walked in. I could feel it, sense it. But this just confirms it."
Makoto shot her friend a mildly vexed look. For what Minako had noticed was unmistakable with the lights off. The normally very faint sparkle of power that Makoto possessed, usually only visible at night or in the rain, was now considerably brighter, enough to light up the room in a shimmering green-white wash of building power. It was a unique, early, external manifestation to changes that were happening to her internally. "Cripes…I forgot about this effect."
"Do you think it's a boy or a girl?" Minako murmured the question. "Serenity-sama's going to be so pleased."
"Pleased about what?" Zoisite sauntered into the room, his arm slung around Ami's waist. Bottle green and cobalt blue eyes widened, taking into account the fluctuating shimmer that surrounded Makoto. The two bright minds were more than capable of putting together the simple bit of addition by which 1 + 1 could equal 3. And Ami, at least, was smart enough to hold her tongue, even if Zoisite was not.
"We'll have to start putting together the press release," said Zoisite, slugging Nephrite in the shoulder in a comrade-ish fashion. "The Imperial Royal House of Serenity is pleased to announce that Eternal Senshi and High Queen of Jupiter and the North Americas and her husban…"
Ami cut off her husband by the simple method of popping her hand over his lips, though she grinned as he kissed her palm. "It's too soon to think of that yet, baka." She hugged Makoto warmly and murmured a soft, "Congratulations," in the taller girl's ear.
"Oi…someone adjust the wattage in here. It's flickering out of whack." Haruka said loudly as she entered the dining room with Michiru following closely behind. The tall blonde woman pulled out a pair of sunglasses, sliding them on against an intense flash of light. "Wait…the lights aren't even turned on. What gives anyway?"
There was silence. Other than the two Outer Senshi, all looked at Makoto. She flushed, looking away as Haruka looked around, then turned and really, REALLY looked at her, pinpointing the source of the rippling, incandescent light show and its only credible reason. "Oh."
Michiru smiled, as if she'd known all along. "Congratulations, Mako-chan and Nephrite-san. Such wonderful news. I sensed something in the mirror a while back and now it makes sense."
Looking insufferably smug, Nephrite wrapped his arms loosely around his now brightly shimmering wife's waist. "Arigato. We're very pleased."
"So we're gonna have another nine months of day glow and night storms, then?"
"It's…it's not like I can control it," babbled Makoto, a rosy tint heating her cheeks as she looked at Haruka. "It just sort of…happens."
"Shh…love, you look beautiful." Warm arms tightened around Makoto's waist as her husband whispered in her ear. "And you'll only get more so."
"It'll actually get brighter as she gets further along," Minako reminded them, thinking of the constant golden glow she had once worn which had resulted in her and Kunzite's daughter.
Haruka snorted. "I remember. With the twins she could have practically powered the entire city of Crystal Tokyo by herself toward the end, if we could've harnessed it. Serenity-sama's going to have to invest in major new grounding and lightning rods for the palace or it's going to be non-stop electrical shocks around here. And I'll need new Ray Bans for the glare."
"Does anybody mind NOT talking about me like this?" Makoto fumed, her lip curling into a faint scowl and her emerald eyes glittering dangerously. "It's making me very uncomfortable. It's just a side effect and it's not like I'm the only one it happens to, for heaven's sake. Ami gleamed, if you recall. Minako shone. Hell, Rei singed everything she touched for weeks."
"I did what?" Rei's outraged voice filled the room, though she was still halfway down the hall. "Who's blaming me for what now? Whatever's happened, it has to be Jadeite's fault. It's always his fault."
Minako giggled hysterically at Rei's unintentional innuendo and Haruka snorted again, trying not to laugh. Ami and Michiru tittered softly. Zoisite merely coughed and looked away as Nephrite's face darkened. Kunzite looked annoyed, his eyebrows drawing together in a stern scowl.
"Hardly," grouched Nephrite, not even liking the idea to be spoken or thought, no matter how ridiculous they all knew it to be. Makoto was his dear wife, after all, and it was his baby she was now carrying.
Makoto was now completely red-faced. She turned and buried her heated face against Nephrite's shoulder, praying to kami-sama for patience. He wrapped his arms possessively around her, hugging her and feeling his own irritation drain away with the pleasure of holding her. "Just kill me now," she pleaded, "and save me the humiliation."
"Can't," Nephrite said, nuzzling her silky auburn hair. "I'd miss you too much, love."
"That's what got you into this in the first place," Minako reminded them, winking cheekily as she felt the love radiating between Nephrite and Makoto.
"Nani?" Rei finally entered the private senshi dining hall with Jadeite following closely behind her, the better to watch her hips sway. The mere sight of the blonde man sent Minako into another paroxysm of laughter. "What's so funny?"
"Jadeite sure wasn't responsible for what happened this time, Rei-honey." Minako said, sounding a bit like she was being strangled. She gestured toward Nephrite and his wife. Now more than a bit stressed, Makoto's light flickered rapidly.
Rei's own face went a little red and her violet eyes got very wide. Jadeite laughed out loud and held up his hands in mock surrender. "Nope. Definitely not responsible for this one. You'd know, Rei-chan, since you know where I spend all my nights and keep me busy through them, though I do my best to bear up admirably under the strain. That said, I think we all know who the proud papa-to-be is here."
Reaching over, he slapped Nephrite on the back. "Good job, Neph."
A soft snarl from Makoto silenced the voluble blonde. "Rei-chan," Makoto said with icy politeness. "Would you please stifle your husband before I have to hurt him? Onegai. Or he mightn't be much use to you for a quite a while. Maybe never again, dammit."
"Now, now, little mother. No language like that around the baby."
"Baka," snapped Rei, grabbing Jadeite by the ear and dragging the man toward the far end of the table. "You're embarrassing her."
"Well you're the one who said…" He burst out laughing again, putting his head down on the table, his shoulders shaking as he was consumed in hilarity. Fuming, Makoto flung herself into a chair, her hands curling into fists in her lap. One eye was twitching slightly.
"It's not that funny," sniffed a now highly perturbed Makoto, picking at the tablecloth, a little crackle of lightning snapping off her fingertips. Embarrassed and hungry always had been a bad combination for her, especially when she was expecting. Then they could be dangerous.
"Easy now, love." Nephrite soothed, rubbing his wife's shoulders soothingly. "Don't kill him, ma tempête, at least not until after lunch. There's plenty of time after you get something to eat. He'll keep." He shot his fellow Shitennou a warning look that said Jadeite would be regretting his teasing when hand-to-hand training time rolled around that afternoon.
"Yeah, she's got to eat and keep up her strength," the unrepentant prankster continued, not cowed by Nephrite's forbidding glower. "She'll be eating for two now, you know."
Makoto growled again audibly, shooting Jadeite a thunderous glare that should have withered him on the spot. It was getting downright mortifying.
"Mood swing," Jadeite chortled, amused all over again. This time Zoisite laughed as well and even Kunzite had a slight smirk on his normally solemn face. "Next will come the cravings."
"Darling," the raven-haired senshi of Mars leaned over to hiss in her husband's ear, "Shut up. Mako-chan was only half-kidding, but I'm dead serious. Stop embarrassing her right now. Because if she doesn't get you and Nephrite doesn't get you, and I believe they're both considering it right now, then, let's just say that this won't be a problem you'll run into for a very, very long while. You catch my drift?"
That threat got Jadeite's attention and he sobered quickly, looking abashed. Turning to Nephrite and Makoto, he said with complete formality and seriousness, "Our congratulations on the coming child and best wishes for a healthy baby."
"Now that's just so whipped," Haruka commented with a smirk.
"I prefer," Jadeite said with comically raised eyebrows and a slight leer at his wife's curvy backside, "to call it prudence and exercising good judgment. I much prefer sleeping with my wife in our warm bed than in the dog house."
"Jade-ite!" Rei's face turned the color of an over-ripe tomato and she smacked him on the back of his head. He let out a theatrical moan of pain, rubbing his scalp.
"I think you've just made your reservations in the dog house," came Makoto's acidic retort. "Ne, Rei-chan?"
"Hai." She muttered something under her breath about cold days and beds and hell.
"What did Jadeite do now?" inquired a sweet, serene and rather high-pitched voice.
"He didn't do this," ground out Rei, making Makoto groan again at the phrasing. "He's just being a bakayaro, commenting on it."
"Huh?" Neo-Queen Serenity walked in on the arm of her husband, Endymion. "What do you mea…Oh." She broke off, an enormous smile lighting up her face as she took in the sight of Makoto's current radiant condition and Nephrite's protective posture.
Zoisite laughed. "Someone already said that, your highness." He grunted softly as Ami elbowed him in the ribcage.
King Endymion chuckled softly, shaking Nephrite's hand and then bent over to kiss the back of Makoto's hand. "You both have congratulations from the Imperial Royal House of Serenity."
Utilizing his unique power to make them appear out of nowhere, Endymion somehow materialized a creamy rose with a soft, baby pink colored heart which he presented to Makoto with a flourish. "You look beautiful, Mako-chan."
"Arigato, Endymion-sama," Makoto whispered, some of her ill temper fading away with the king's gallantry, just as long as she didn't have to look at Jadeite. Or hear Jadeite. Or basically breathe the same air as Jadeite.
"Hai! Hai!" The slim, young-looking queen darted over to hug her old friend. "This is wonderful. Another new addition to the court. I couldn't be more pleased. We'll have to lend you the baby-name book. I think Ami-chan and Zoisite had it last. Or was it Minako-chan and Kunzite? Oh well…a new playmate for Chibi-Usa and the others."
"Knowing Neph here," Jadeite remarked with another smirk, that had Makoto ready to fly at him, "they'd better keep the book in their own personal library. Itai…Rei, don't hit! Don't hit!"
"I hate you all," Makoto gritted out through a clenched jaw, "except for Serenity-sama, Endymion-sama, Kunzite and Michiru."
"Hey, what'd I do?" sniffed Rei, confusion and indignation lighting up her violet gaze. "I stuck up for you."
"You didn't drown Jadeite in the fountain promptly after the Reawakening," was the testy reply from the tall, pony-tailed brunette.
"Even me, love?" Nephrite was starting to look rather amused by his radiantly lovely and very exquisitely pissed off wife. He never could resist her when she had that adorable scowl puckering up her face, and he dropped a quick kiss on her lips that had her sputtering indignantly.
"Especially you, dammit! This is all your fault!" Emerald green eyes snapped death threats at him for daring to find humor in the situation.
A bark of rusty-sounding laughter from Kunzite startled everyone in the room and they all looked over at him. The silver-haired man shrugged his shoulders and tried not to look sheepish. "It's just that," he explained a bit lamely, "I didn't expect to hear her say that until she was actually in the middle of labor, breaking his hand, and threatening his manhood. Again."
Everybody in the room burst out laughing. They laughed even harder when Makoto's stomach growled audibly and she pressed a hand to her belly.
"I take it back," Makoto snapped, shoving herself away from the table and heading through the kitchen doors to where she knew she could find something to fill the gnawing hole in her stomach and escape the laughter, however good natured. "I HATE YOU ALL!"