Ok, so this is way, way overdue. Sorry guys. And I don't own Sailor Moon.

Kunzite jerked awake in the darkness and blearily glanced around. He was still in his rumpled work clothes, and Minako was on the phone, snoring. Gingerly moving his stiff neck, he glanced at the glowing clock digits. 3:58 AM. He had planned to get an early start to the day and do some research at the library. This was a little too early, though. If he wanted to be remotely productive, he needed at least two and half more hours of sleep.

"Minako, it's getting late," he said, rubbing his gritty eyes. He coughed; his voice was gravelly and his throat sore, unused to the vocal exercise. They had been on the phone for hours and he wanted desperately to get to sleep.

"Minako," he said, switching the phone to the other ear. He rubbed at his sweaty cheek and was rewarded with a slight moan for his efforts.

"I'm still awake," she coughed suddenly.

He cleared his throat experimentally and groped through a mental fog for something to say.

"What did you say?" she yawned sleepily.

"We have to go to work in a couple of hours. I've certainly run out of things to talk about and apparently you did, too," he replied, amused.

"I didn't fall asleep!" she protested still sleepy.

"Alright, you didn't fall asleep, and you weren't snoring," he agreed calmly.

"Alright, then. Good morning. Sleep well," she giggled.

"Sleep well," he said, smiling and wistfully hanging up. His warm gray eyes lingered on the phone, and then turned angry at the sound of a voice.

"You know, as wonderful as it is to hear you two giggling and whispering on the phone, some creatures would like to sleep," came the acerbic voice from the foot of the bed. The caustic tone immediately put out any warm, fuzzy feelings that Minako's conversation had given him.

"You sleep during the day, cat," grunted Kunzite as he got out of bed and stumbled his way to the bathroom.

"Correction, I nap during the day," said Artemis irately, flicking his tail from his reclining position.

"Whatever you want to call it. All you do is sleep, cat. Besides, aren't felines nocturnal creatures?" Kunzite shot back, brushing his teeth.

"Ooh…so barbaric. I could barely hear what you were mumbling, you uncouth monkey," said Artemis, yawning and carelessly displaying a row of neatly sharpened teeth. When Kunzite angrily choked on his toothpaste, Artemis began to purr smugly.

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The lump under the covers stirred reluctantly. Something was ringing. It seemed like something was always ringing. A hand shot out and snatched the phone from the bureau, yanking out the charger from the wall in the process. The hand slithered under the covers dragging the charger, which was still attached to the phone, with it.

"Hello," mumbled Jadeite flatly, clearly beyond exhaustion. After his outing with Hino-san, he had gotten home at a thoroughly indecent hour. His face was smashed against the pillow and his features scrunched up with the agony of being awake.

"Good morning, Hakumoro-san! Are you still coming today? The director was wondering where you were!"

Jadeite flinched at the volume and tone of the happy voice. "Aino-san," he drawled unkindly. He barely suppressed a groan at her cheerfulness.

"Haaaiii!" she called out happily.

He opened his eyes, held the phone up to his face and glared, wishing evil upon the chirpy blonde. When his eyes began to ache from their bloodshot squinting, he replied, "I'll deal with it later. I'm not coming in today. I'll kill him on Monday. In front of everyone. Goodbye, Aino-san," he said, hanging up and cutting off any reply.

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The lump under the covers stirred. Something was ringing. Again. He fumbled for the phone near his pillow, ready to rip into whoever was idiotic enough to call.

"What! What is it?! What could possibly be so important that you would call!" he snarled viciously.

"Don't take that tone with me, you bastard! I'm twice as hung over as you are and you dumped me in your car!" growled Rei. The sound of her stomping up the gravelly temple stairs made his head ache.

"Ah, Kami-sama. What sins have I committed in my past life to meet this kind of annoying female?" he complained recklessly.

"You should take full responsibility if you're going to take me to some strange party and not dump me in front of my house afterwards," she said through gritted teeth.

"If I had woken you up, you would have taken my head. I did you a favor. Now do one for me and let me sleep," he said in clipped tones.

"I'll take more than your head if you even think about appearing before me ever again!" she growled.

"Oh my, so frightening. It's a shame that I left my car in front of your place. I guess I'll have to appear before you after all," he snarled.

"Oh my, it seems you will. Someone is illegally parked in front of the fire hydrant. As a good citizen of Tokyo, I am duty-bound to inform the proper officials," she said in the sweetest tone possible.

He shot up from his bed in flurry of sheets and ruffled blonde hair. "You. Wouldn't. Dare," he breathed.

Click.

Uttering a curse, Jadeite flung the phone across the room in a fit of temper.

'Great,' he thought, breathing heavily. 'Not only do I have to get out of bed, but my car is going to get towed.' It took him five minutes to piece his phone back together, disconnect the charger, grab his keys, and phone the front desk.

"Yes, good morning. This is Hakumoro Jadeite. I'd like a taxi. Tell them to meet me out front. I'd like to go to the Shinto shrine on Sendai Hill. Yes. Okay, goodbye," he told the front desk aide. He ended the call and furiously began to brush his teeth.

"Dead," he mumbled angrily through the foam. Rinsing the taste out of his mouth and splashing his face, he toweled himself off.

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Minako worriedly played with the ends of her hair as she watched the director announce several revisions to the script. Cries of protest arose from some of the minor characters and she made a mental note of who the dissenters were. He was cutting out some scenes and changing the dialogue. She'd bet money that Jadeite was going to throw another fit. She made a note in her script book of the new revisions. Last time, he had grilled her as to the exact changes. He would want to know, for all the good it would do him. She took a sip of her rapidly cooling coffee and sighed, rubbing her eyes tiredly. She'd been exhausted when she woke up this morning, but the warm conversation with Kunzite was more than worth it.

"Everything is going to be fine. Just work with me, and we'll make the movie a success," boomed the director loudly over the undercurrent of grumbling. The sound of his imperious voice cut into her reminiscing and she frowned.

Minako sensed the feeling of uneasiness and anger in the room and tried her best to dispel it. "Wow, you guys are so lucky! You'll have fewer lines to memorize!" she chirped happily. Her comment was met with an icy silence and several glares.

'Wah, scary,' she thought, smiling sheepishly and blushing as she shrank back into her seat. Her blue eyes innocently focused on her tiny, paper coffee cup. She felt a pair of amused eyes on her and looked up at her co-star.

"Nice try, Aino-san," grinned the handsome male lead, winking in her direction. She returned his smile and fidgeted with her script as the other announcements were made. Definitely her type. It would almost be too easy to flirt with him, but after the tabloid fiasco, she daren't try. She glanced over at Yuki-san, who was lost in thought and worrying at her lip. There was another problem. Yuki seemed to be losing her focus and getting more and more anxious as the weekend approached. She would have to have a pep talk with the handmaiden.

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Phobos and Deimos, roused by their mistress' presence, hopped towards her. Rei absent-mindedly gave them both light touches, causing their feathers to ruffle up in pleasure. She sat on the temple steps in her bathrobe and glanced distractedly at the dull, iron grey sky. She would probably get dirty from sitting on the steps, but she was too bent on her revenge to care. Rei hugged her coffee cup for warmth and blew at the steam that tickled her nose. She blinked sleepily before taking a sip. It was still ridiculously early, but all her efforts would be repaid momentarily.

Sure enough, a taxi appeared at the crest of Sendai Hill. It drove up the street and parked right at the temple. She smiled maliciously at the figure that paid the driver and shut the door. It was Jadeite. He was dressed in little more than a pair of dark blue pajamas and slippers. She adjusted her bathrobe self consciously, suddenly aware that she, too, was wearing her pajamas in public.

Eagerly, she leaned forward to watch as he walked to the sidewalk. He stood. And stared. There was no fire hydrant. Rei smirked. Sure, it was petty. Of course she had stooped down to the level of a high school prank. Yes, she was in her twenties and a mature adult, but damn it, it felt good. Besides, he had no right to leave her in the car like that. It was only a matter of time before the news got around to her grandfather that she had spent the night in a car that she didn't own.

Her neighbors were early risers; in fact, wrinkly Seno-san was walking his dog and woke her up by tapping on the window. The embarrassment was almost too much for her. And so, revenge. She savored the look on Jadeite's face.

Perhaps it was the smugness that radiated from her. Either way, when Jadeite spotted her, his face went from disbelieving to murderous in a matter of seconds. She saluted him by raising her coffee, dusted herself off, and headed up the stairs. Now she could sleep.

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Jadeite fumed at a red light, almost a block away from the temple. He needed to vent. He needed a listening ear. Sympathy, perhaps. On impulse, he made a right. He kept going for about four blocks, made a left, drove some more, and made another right. He parked his car and heedless of his pajamas, he walked into Minako's apartment complex. Kunzite was dating an irrational female. He would understand perfectly what Jadeite was going through.

Jadeite hesitated before he knocked. Maybe Kunzite wouldn't understand. Aino Minako was no Hino Rei and Hino Rei was no Aino Minako. He knocked anyway and frowned when he found that the door was unlocked. He opened it and went in when he heard an angry voice.

"Damn you! Get in here! There isn't a single crumb in the refrigerator, you human pig! You ate the last of the cereal! You have some nerve—

Jadeite stood in disbelief in the doorway as he watched the small, white cat break off in mid-sentence and stop his angry pacing.

"Kami-sama," breathed Jadeite.

In the ensuing silence, the two stared at each other without blinking. Finally, it was Artemis who broke the deadlock.

"Damn it. That's the second one this month. I might as well get on the rooftops of Tokyo and announce my presence to the world," sighed the cat with exasperation.

Jadeite continued to stare at the cat as the voice sank in. "Vandalay-san?" he asked incredulously.

"Don't be ridiculous," snapped Artemis.

Silence. Then…

"Give me back my money," demanded Jadeite, holding out his hand angrily.

"Why, you little…" began Artemis.

"There's no way you're her agent! You're a talking animal! You scammed me out of my money!"

"That was a donation!"

"A donation?!? For what?!?" snapped Jadeite, outraged. "The only reason I gave you that was because I thought you were going to kill me!"

"So you at least know how to recognize power," said Artemis smugly, sitting down on his haunches.

Jadeite grabbed Artemis by his ruff. "Give it," he said, shaking him threateningly.

Artemis glared balefully at him. "Feed me first," Artemis said.

Jadeite smirked. Now that was one thing he could do.

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"Bacon! Get the bacon!" hissed the cat, poking his head through the opening in Kunzite's jacket. Jadeite scowled angrily and shoved the cat's head back into the jacket. He felt the cat insistently dig his claws into his chest. The shopping trip was beginning to turn into ordeal and suddenly, feeding the cat didn't seem so simple.

"We already have bacon!" snapped Jadeite, looking around to make sure that no had heard him.

"We have bacon, not turkey bacon!" argued Artemis from inside the jacket. Jadeite sighed with exasperation and regretted bringing the creature inside. He had borrowed one of Kunzite's jackets, and the cat had made himself at home in the space between Jadeite's chest and the zippered jacket. Every time Jadeite placed something in the cart, the cat would insist on inspecting the product. The shopping cart was already half full.

"Biscuits! Get the biscuits!" hissed the cat, poking his head through the opening in Kunzite's jacket. Jadeite stopped the cart. This was ridiculous. Not only was he in his pajamas and getting cat hair all over himself, but he was buying groceries for the beast.

"You can't eat bread," retorted Jadeite.

"Nonsense. We should have salmon croquette cakes, too," sniffed Artemis, going back inside his hollow.

"I don't know how to make them," lied Jadeite.

"I'll teach you," insisted the cat, his voice muffled by the lining of the jacket.

"Should we have lox, too?" drawled Jadeite sarcastically.

"Where?!" demanded Artemis, excitedly popping his head out of the jacket. In his eagerness to inspect the display of lox, he smacked his head against Jadeite's chin. His claws scrabbled for purchase and Jadeite lost his temper as he felt the cat's claws gouging his skin through the silk of his blue pajamas.

"For the last time, get back in the jacket!" he growled. Sensing the human's anger, Artemis quickly stuck his head back into jacket.

An early rising housewife stared wide-eyed at Jadeite talking to himself. She dropped the stick of butter into her cart and quickly rolled away. Jadeite blushed.

"Get the Scottish one!" came the whisper. Of course. The most expensive one. Jadeite dropped this, too, into the cart.

"Should we have fish soup?" asked Jadeite, giving up and not even bothering to listen to a response. He immediately dropped a package of dried fish into the cart.

"With seaweed!" hissed the cat. Jadeite paused at the fish tanks and stared at his murky reflection. He either looked pregnant or like he had stolen a large amount of merchandise.

"Crap," he muttered anxiously. He rolled past an aisle and paused. An immensely tall, broad-shouldered man was currently loading a large amount of flour sacks into his grocery cart. His physical presence struck Jadeite like a blow.

'I know you…'he thought, watching the familiar man at work. The man paused and turned to stare at Jadeite. It was the owner of the Jade Tree Bakery. Jadeite flushed, caught, and quickly pushed the cart into the next aisle over. His heart was beating rapidly with embarrassment. The cat flexed his claws against Jadeite's stomach and Jadeite peered into the hole.

"What?" he hissed.

"Oatmeal! We should have oatmeal, too!"

"Why?"

Pause. Jadeite could practically hear the cat thinking of an excuse.

"Fiber! Fiber is good for you!"

Jadeite snorted and could see the cat's green eyes narrow into slits.

"Alright. Oatmeal. With tuna?" suggested Jadeite amused. He was rewarded with an unamused hiss from the cat.

"What? I thought cats loved fish," explained Jadeite.

"You push the boundaries, human," was his only reply. Jadeite smirked and then frowned. He felt something swishing against his thigh and stared aghast.

"Hey! Hide your tail!" he exclaimed, looking wildly about him. No wonder that guy had stared at him. The cat neatly tucked his tail into the jacket without complaining.

"Kami-sama. This is a very bad idea," he muttered, snatching the oatmeal off the shelf. Jadeite looked at the cart ruefully.

"Okay, Artemis-san. So far, we have the items for salmon croquette cakes, breakfast sausage casserole, omelet, biscuits, bagel with lox, fish soup with seaweed, oatmeal, turkey sausage and bacon, pork sausage and bacon, potato pancakes, waffles, and a spinach and ham quiche. Are you going to be able to eat all of this?" asked Jadeite, with disgust.

"Toast! We need toast! And butter!" replied the cat.

"Fine," said Jadeite nastily.

The cat began to purr as Jadeite went to go get bread. A man in business suit with a hand basket stopped and gave Jadeite a strange look as he passed.

"Hey. Stop that. People are staring," he whispered into the hole.

"Let them stare. I'm getting properly fed," purred the cat. Artemis' long tail smacked Jadeite's chin in anticipation. Jadeite, for his part, shoved the tail back in and snatched the bread off the shelf. Thankfully, the store provided self-checkout so he didn't have to face the embarrassment of the cashier asking him to unzip his jacket. He did, however, have to explain himself to the burly security guard blocking the doorway.

"My cat. He's sick and needs to be kept warm. That's what the vet said, at least. I couldn't bear to leave him alone," explained Jadeite. A sniggering sound came from the jacket and Jadeite hastily unzipped it to display Artemis.

"MEOW!" said Artemis, in what was a painfully obvious false imitation of a noise a normal feline would make.

"Cats aren't allowed in the store. Don't do it again," said the guard, waggling his finger and going back inside.

"That was close," said Jadeite, relieved and looking down at Artemis.

"I'll say," replied Artemis, amused, as he looked up at Jadeite.

"What was close?" asked a voice. Startled, Artemis jumped out of Jadeite's arms, scratching him for good measure, and landed awkwardly in the shopping cart. Equally startled, Jadeite gave a strangled cry and jumped back.

"Good-good morning," he stammered, his face beet red.

"Good morning," said Nephrite.

"MEOW!" said Artemis, in what was a painfully obvious false imitation of a noise a normal feline would make.

Silence.

"Have we met?" asked Jadeite, politely regaining his composure.

"We already have. At the Jade Tree Bakery. I'm the owner, Watase Nephrite," blinked Nephrite as he pointed to himself.

Silence.

"Don't remember. Good day, sir," lied Jadeite as he hastily pushed the cart out into the parking lot. He practically ran to the car, tossed his groceries in the trunk, and pulled out of the parking lot.

"Kami-sama! He gave me a heart attack! I'm never going out with you again! What if he heard you talk?" snapped Jadeite as he made his way towards the apartment.

"Where's your sense of adventure, boy?" asked Artemis, cool once more as he groomed his fur.

"Argh! Look at you! It isn't embarrassing for you, is it? You don't care as long as you're getting fed!" snapped Jadeite.

"Not one bit. I thrive on these events. They keep me young. And yes, I am getting well fed," chuckled the cat, who was in high spirits now that he had attained his goal of getting a meal.

Jadeite slumped over the wheel. "Gluttonous, crazed beast. What if I run into him again?" groaned Jadeite.

"Ugh. Look at you. Like a whiny school girl obsessing over her first love. Stay away from him, then! Do you know how large Tokyo is? You'll probably never see him again, and if you do, just avoid him. He's tall and has long hair. You'll spot him easily. Trust me," declared Artemis confidently.

Jadeite took a deep breath and released it. "Fine, then. Have it your way," snapped Jadeite as he made a left turn.

"You set yourself up for embarrassment when you came to Minako's apartment dressed like that," sneered Artemis.

"What was that?" drawled Jadeite, eyeing him warningly.

"Nothing," smirked Artemis as he leapt onto the headrest and proudly surveyed the results of the shopping trip. Purposefully, Jadeite slammed on the brakes when the lights turned red. As a result of physics, the cat went tumbling from the passenger headrest and onto the floor.

"Oops. Sorry about that. By the way, I still want my money back. You're sadly mistaken if you think that I'm going to pay for your groceries and still let you keep that check," snapped Jadeite.

The cat, now lying on his back, looked up at Jadeite, gauging his expression and level of irritation. "Fine then, have it your way," mimicked Artemis in a bored tone. He transformed, much to Jadeite's startled surprise, and pulled out the check from his pocket.

"Here," said Artemis, handing it to him. The cat, currently man, pushed the seat back for better leg room, buckled his seatbelt, and stretched his legs over the glove compartment.

"What? Safety first, right?" asked Artemis, quirking an eyebrow in Jadeite's direction.

"You…what are you?" asked Jadeite, his blue eyes wide. A car horn honked, breaking into the silence.

"Drive," commanded Artemis, closing his eyes and letting the seat down. For once, Jadeite complied.

"You'll tell me, though, right?" asked Jadeite, insecure.

"Everything," lied Artemis, lazily swishing his long tail in Jadeite's face. When Jadeite brushed it out of the way, Artemis playfully thwacked him with his tail, startling the driver.

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Kunzite shot awake, fully alert. The wooden chair tilted over from the abruptness of his actions and fell to the floor with an audible thump. He flushed as several heads turned towards the now standing silver-haired man. Quickly, he righted the chair and picked up his vibrating phone.

"Moshi Moshi," he said, clearing his throat as he sat back down in his cubicle.

"Yo. How's the private dancer?" drawled Haruka.

"Wha-what?" asked Kunzite, flushing as he looked in vain for his highlighter. Damn it, someone had taken it while he was asleep. Good thing he hadn't brought his wallet with him.

"Don't deny it. Hotaru told me everything. In fact, I was wondering if you could go over the steps with her again. She had a small panic attack and forgot what comes next. Also, Michiru wants to thank you. And I want to see you in a female kimono, wielding a fan," chuckled Haruka.

"Ugh," groaned Kunzite, flushing.

"Well, are you going to do it or not? You wouldn't want to disappoint our little girl would you?" asked Haruka warningly.

"No. Um, I'll be there in an hour and half. Is that okay?" he asked, beginning to pack his things.

"Yeah, okay. See you soon," she said, hanging up abruptly.

Kunzite heaved an exasperated sigh. He had come to the library with the intention of studying and had ended up falling asleep and getting his highlighter stolen. He might as well go home and get something to eat. He was starving.

Kunzite paused in his packing and frowned. Had he fed the cat? He hoped so. If not, then he would never hear the end of it. He slung his backpack over one shoulder and headed outside.

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Jadeite bent over the four pots and pans on the stove and sweated from the vapor and heat.

"How long? I'm famished, human," drawled Artemis.

"It wouldn't have taken this long if someone had helped me chop the vegetables," snapped Jadeite in flare of temper.

"I don't do manual labor. I'm a diplomat. Practically royalty, a celebrity where I come from. I don't chop anything. I could get hurt. You wouldn't want one of the only two living monuments of the planet Mau to get hurt, would you? It would cause an intergalactic incident," smirked Artemis, his tail swishing back and forth. He was back in his cat form to conserve energy and Jadeite scowled at the figure propped on the stool. In return, the cat blinked slowly, unfazed by the nasty stare.

"Rice is ready. So is the fish soup. The casserole needs a few more minutes," explained Jadeite, beginning to pull out dishes and filling up the plates with the contents of the pans.

"Hurry up. Earth courtesy dictates that I wait until you're ready to eat," urged Artemis, grooming himself in preparation for his meal.

"I'll take my time, then, just to torture you," drawled Jadeite, slowly placing the prepared dishes in front of the cat one by one.

"Ooh. Cruel," responded Artemis sarcastically.

The sound of the key in the front door came as a surprise, and they twisted to watch Kunzite walk in.

"I'm home," said Kunzite, uttering the traditional phrase.

"Welcome home," echoed Jadeite.

"Yes, welcome back, irresponsible one," snapped Artemis, annoyed with Kunzite.

Kunzite looked up from his task of untying his shoes, alarmed. "Wait. Hakumoro-san?" queried Kunzite, frowning as he straightened.

"You may call me Jadeite. I am cooking for your talking cat after all, Kunzite-san."

"Isn't mine. It's Minako's. I apologize for the trouble," replied Kunzite, jogging up the steps.

"I'm not Minako's. I belong to myself," retorted the cat.

"It's no trouble," lied Jadeite, ignoring the cat.

"It sure looks like Minako's cat has put you through a lot of trouble," said Kunzite, sitting down at a kitchen stool.

"Hey! Are you listening to me?" snapped Artemis.

"It's a pleasure to cook for Minako's cat. It's not every day that one runs into such an odd creature. I must ask her where she bought it from. It would be amusing to own one," smirked Jadeite, catching on to the joke.

"Hey! No one owns me!"

"It's not at all amusing to own such an annoying creature. It's loud, rude, sarcastic, wakes you up at all hours of the night, bites, scratches, demands impossible things, talks back, gives you no privacy…well, the list does go on," replied Kunzite, ignoring the fuming cat beside him. He'd somehow managed to rattle the list off in a monotone voice and with a straight face.

Jadeite laughed unable to contain himself. "That does sound pretty bad. What do you have to say to the accusations being leveled at you, Artemis-san?" asked Jadeite, grinning boyishly.

"Nonsense. I have more culture, sophistication, and refinement in my smallest claw than this one does in his whole body," snapped Artemis, thoroughly upset. He raised his forelimb and began to hastily wash himself.

Jadeite and Kunzite exchanged smiles, and Jadeite poured Kunzite some sake. Finally, the food was ready and Jadeite sat down to eat.

"Looks good," said Kunzite, pleasantly surprised.

"Finally," said Artemis, eagerly his whiskers twitching.

"Itadakimasu," intoned Jadeite before he began to coolly dig in.

They served themselves, and Artemis took the first bite.

"How is it?" asked Jadeite.

"Divine. Learn, human man. Learn," said Artemis, addressing Kunzite with disgust in his voice.

"It's not going to happen. I've never been a good cook," replied Kunzite, eyeing the feline as he ate his salmon croquette cakes.

"In that case, I give you full permission to steal Minako away from this man," announced Artemis, licking his chops.

"Pass," replied Jadeite instantly.

"Why? She's beautiful and…"

"And annoying. She called at five this morning to see where I was. I'm not a patient person. She's an airhead, overly cheerful, and tactless. The list, as Kunzite-san said, goes on," said Jadeite, reaching for a mini waffle with his chopsticks.

"I happening to find those things endearing," smirked Kunzite.

"Good. They annoy the hell out of me. Don't get me wrong, she's a good person and she can be serious, but I'd never, ever date her," smirked Jadeite right back.

"Ah, that's a shame. It looks like I'll have to convince you to cook for me every morning," sighed Artemis before he began to lap up the soup in his bowl.

"I already have a job that I enjoy immensely, so I'll have to pass on that, too," smiled Jadeite, amused at the cat's forlorn air.

"Speaking of which... How did Artemis get you over here? And in your sleepwear too?" asked Kunzite, raising a silver eyebrow as he gestured at the clothes that Jadeite was sporting.

Jadeite scowled at the memory. "I came by myself after Hino-san's little antics. I needed…I needed someone to talk to," he finished, slightly embarrassed as he focused on his rice.

"You'll always find that here," said Kunzite quietly.

"I thought so. That's…that's why I came. Anyways, you'll never believe what she did!" snapped Jadeite irately, flinging down his chopsticks. The cat and Kunzite leaned forward, the very pictures of eagerness and restrained interest at work.

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Kunzite was still laughing when he left. Hino-san was too much; she and Jadeite were well-suited for one another… if they could stop bickering long enough to realize it.

He was full and inexplicably pleased, even with the fact that he would have to face certain ridicule at Haruka's hands. He slung the bag containing the kimono behind his right shoulder as he waited for the elevator. He was stuffed to the point of bursting. It was unlike him to shove his face full of food, but Jadeite was a genius at cooking. The man had a gift, plain and simple. He would have to plot a way to get Jadeite to cook as much as possible. He could probably ask Minako for ideas. With Makoto as a friend, she must have plenty of schemes to get her to cook.

The elevator doors opened slowly, and he stepped inside, pushing the button for the lobby. He had lied to Artemis and Jadeite about where he was headed. If they learned about his ability to dance, arrange flowers, and perform a tea ceremony, he'd never hear the end of it. Kami-sama only knew that he'd have to bribe Haruka-san to keep her mouth shut.

When he arrived at the Tenou's twenty minutes later, he knew he'd have his work cut for him.

"Pink or orange?" asked Haruka, holding up two female kimonos for his inspection.

"I have my own. Thank you for your consideration," he said tersely. They were too small for him anyways.

"I think the pink will look splendid with your eyes," she drawled, turning to walk into the house.

"Kunzite-san! You made it. Welcome," said Michiru graciously as she walked out of the kitchen in an apron.

"Thank you for inviting me over. I am honored. Do you have some where I can change?" he asked her politely returning her bow.

"Through the hallway on your left," she explained, gesturing gracefully with her hand. He bowed again and excused himself. As he turned to go, he heard whispering and glanced over his shoulder. Haruka and Michiru were in a murmured conference, their heads close together. As he turned away, he thought that Haruka in her tan slacks and white shirt and Michiru in a sundress and apron made a striking couple.

The opening strains of the Oka floated through the hallway and he followed them to their source. Hotaru was practicing inside the room, giving the steps her full concentration. He ducked back into the hallway and quickly found the bathroom door. Not to his surprise, the bathroom was done in blues and greens with jars of sea glass adorning the counter and toilet. The scheme seemed to fit most of the house and even the occupants. He reluctantly unzipped the garment bag, dressed, and sighed. Might as well get this over with. As he opened the bathroom door, he was faced with Haruka and Michiru.

"Oh my! You look quite striking, Kunzite-san!" exclaimed Michiru, holding her hand to her mouth in surprise.

Haruka burst into peals of laughter. "Where's my camera?" she sniggered.

"Don't. Please," said Kunzite wearily.

"Why not? Cross dressing fits you. Who knew?" grinned Haruka mischievously.

"Alright, Haruka. Let him do what he came to do," scolded Michiru, steering Haruka away from the irate man. Despite her admonition, she still glanced back at Kunzite, staring frankly at him.

"Alright, alright. I won't take any pictures of sensei," smirked Haruka, jauntily putting her hands in her pockets and walking away.

Kunzite rolled his eyes behind their backs as they walked away. It was time to do what he came to do and get out. He knocked twice and entered the practice room, where Hotaru was currently going over the steps. She stopped what she was doing and gave him her brightest smile. Kunzite felt himself smile in return and remembered the reason why he was able to put up with Haruka's humiliating jibes.

"Are you ready?" he asked her.

Hotaru nodded in the affirmative, her inky purple eyes never leaving Kunzite's.

"Ok. Let's get started," he said, smiling broadly at her eagerness.

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In the stark white break room, Ami toyed with the straw of her drink, preoccupied with her thoughts.

"What is it?" asked Zoicite warmly, covering her free hand with his.

Startled out of her thoughts, Ami looked up at him. For once, she didn't blush, finally used to his public displays of affection. He intertwined his fingers with hers while she debated telling him.

"It's nothing. Just…I'll be missing Hotaru's recital," she said sadly, stabbing her straw in the ice with her free hand.

"Hotaru. Hotaru," frowned Zoicite as he wracked his brain for any mental association with the name.

"Haruka and Michiru's adopted child," she explained.

"Ah! Wait. They have a child?" he asked her, surprised. She nodded, smiling slightly at his expression of disbelief.

"Huh. Is…that legal now?" he queried. Ami blinked. It probably wasn't.

"Can you go for me? Please?" she blurted out to distract his thoughts away from the issue at hand.

"Huh?" asked Zoicite, startled.

"Well, they invited me. To cheer her on, you know. So since I can't go…maybe you can? You said you were free. I'm sorry. Never mind," she said, embarrassed.

"No, no! It would be a pleasure. Really. I like the Tenou's. They're very, umm…nice. Upstanding types. I'll go," he said, waving his hand vaguely. He squeezed her hand slightly.

"Don't worry. It'll be lots and lots of fun. Chiba-san is going, too, right?" he asked, hiding his eagerness as he suddenly thought of the Princeling.

"I'm not sure who will be attending. I haven't had a moment to myself to chat with them," she said regretfully.

"Don't worry. I'll make it work somehow," he replied, slightly crestfallen.

"I need to go back," she explained, pulling her hand away as she glanced at the clock.

"So soon?" he asked, frowning.

"Hai," she said firmly.

"Ok, ok. I'll see you tomorrow. Take care," he murmured against her mouth, kissing her. In spite of herself, she still blushed. He grinned, enthused by her response, gave her another for good measure, waved goodbye, and walked out.

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"Don't fidget. Your hair looks perfect," insisted Michiru as Hotaru reached up to check her hair. She looked up at Kunzite for confirmation. He was, after all, the resident expert.

"Don't look at me. I know nothing," he teased.

She pouted, and he chuckled.

"I can't even tell that it's a wig. Your Michiru-mama did an excellent job," he complimented. Hotaru thanked him shyly and sighed, shuffling from foot to foot. The little girl fussed with the sleeves of her kimono. Haruka scowled at the compliment he'd paid Michiru. It was disrespectful of him to refer to her as Michiru-mama. Her scowl only deepened as someone bumped up against her.

"Oh, gomen," apologized a middle aged man.

'It's too crowded here,' thought Haruka, frowning as she scanned the entrance way for any sign of the others. They were waiting in the crowded lobby of the theater for the guests and well-wishers to arrive.

"There she is!" came the hearty call.

They turned to watch Zoicite cross the lobby in high spirits. He looked like the very picture of domestic fatherhood, with his camera, camcorder, tripod, a bouquet of flowers, and a stuffed bear.

"What are you doing here?" asked Haruka rudely.

Michiru stepped on her foot and smiled. "Oh my! Alderton-san! Thank you so much for coming!" she said with cheerful politeness as she bowed.

"It's my pleasure. Congratulations, Hotaru-chan," he said, shoving the bear and bouquet in her arms and quickly snapping a picture. She blinked dizzily at the bright flash.

"Kawaii!" he exclaimed, looking at the photo.

"You still didn't answer my question," drawled Haruka.

"Ami sends her regrets. She can't come and asked me to. So…picture! Gather around the star!" he said, beginning to herd them towards Hotaru like sheep.

"Not you, Stonewall. You'll ruin it," he said, shooing him away.

"Screw you, Old Fox," smirked Kunzite.

"Ok, ok. One, two, three! Kawaii! What a lovely family photo!" he exclaimed, examining it.

"You know," he said, suddenly serious, "I'd be willing to represent you in court if you want to make the adoption legal."

Michiru and Haruka stiffened.

"Hey…" began Haruka defensively, before Zoicite cut her off.

"Now then! Let's see. Ok, Stonewall. Get in. Try not to ruin it. Big smile! One, two, three! Ah, you useless…you ruined it. You look like a six foot pervert getting caught with that uncomfortable look on your face," snapped Zoicite, scowling as he inspected the film.

"Hmm, maybe I can crop it so your face doesn't show," he mused, fiddling with the camera.

"I'm not the one with all the film in a theater full of little girls," drawled Kunzite.

"This is for Ami! Strictly for Ami! I don't want her to miss a moment. Now, then. Set the bouquet and bear down, Hotaru. Let's get a better look at that beautiful kimono," he said, fiddling with the camera settings.

"My eyes hurt, and my cheeks do, too, Alderton-san," said Hotaru softly, poking at her cheek muscles with her index fingers.

"Give her a break, Zoicite," said Kunzite sternly.

"Alright, alright…five minutes. In the meantime, we'll switch to the camcorder," he said, fumbling with the pouch. He freed it, turned it on, and turned it towards himself.

"Hi, Ami-chan. I bought a camcorder so you wouldn't miss a thing. There's no need to thank me or feel embarrassed or blush. Now, then, for the main attraction. Ta-dah! Say hello to Ami-chan, Hotaru-chan!"

Hotaru bowed formally at the camcorder. "Thank you for your support, Ami-chan. I'll do my best today."

"Wow! So serious! So formal! Good manners! Kawaii! How does that make you feel? Are you proud of Hotaru, Tenou-san?" queried Zoicite, shoving the camcorder into Haruka's face.

"Get it out of my face!" she snapped.

Sensing something, Zoicite turned and faced the camera towards the lobby door.

"Look who it is. Jadeite-san. I'll save the battery," he muttered, shutting the camcorder off.

"Pamplemousse!" he called out in falsely hearty greeting as he strolled up to meet Jadeite.

"Fucking Old Fox. I thought I told you not to call me that," ground out Jadeite through his teeth.

"Language, old friend—there are many children nearby," smirked Zoicite.

"Tenou-san. You should be careful of the kinds of photographers you hire. This one is so chatty and annoying. Allow me to recommend a better one next time," said Jadeite, coolly addressing Haruka as she walked up towards them.

"No choice. This one has been following us around, snapping photos and what not," she smirked mischievously.

Zoicite bristled and was about to comment when Jadeite cut him off.

"How inconvenient. Should I call security?" asked Jadeite, amused.

"I'm doing this as a favor to Ami-san. She couldn't come so--" began Zoicite heatedly.

"Well, you look ridiculous. This is a well-known theater in the middle of downtown Tokyo. A prestigious dance school is holding a dance recital. This isn't some middle school gymnasium with folding chairs, serving cheap cheese crackers and juice," snapped Jadeite, interrupting.

"This is her first dance recital!" said Zoicite heatedly.

"That may very well be, but that's still no excuse for you to come here loaded down with cameras, causing a scene. You aren't even the parent. You look like a pervert, fool," retorted Jadeite.

"Oh, look. It's Hino-san," said Zoicite frostily.

Jadeite shot him a warning look. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Zoicite showed his teeth.

"Hino-san!" he called cheerfully. Rei froze, confused upon seeing Jadeite. Her wide eyes were riveted to his face, and she stood still in the lobby.

"Did you two come together?" asked Zoicite with false innocence.

"I'm afraid not. I didn't have the dubious pleasure of escorting her here. She probably took the bus," said Jadeite coldly, glaring at her.

"Is there something wrong, Hakumoro-san? You're so disagreeable today," she said with equal frost as she slowly walked towards them.

He flushed angrily, trying to master his temper.

"Excuse me," he said, finally retreating.

Zoicite smirked triumphantly.

"That little exchange was interesting," commented Haruka with her arms folded across her chest.

"Which one?" asked Zoicite. They exchanged grins.

"Where's Hotaru?" snapped Rei, sick of their amusement at her expense.

"Come along, dear one," said Haruka fondly, looping her arm through Rei's. As they approached, they saw Jadeite briefly greet Kunzite, and they overheard Jadeite with Michiru.

"You look beautiful, Kaioh-san," he said sincerely as he took her hand in greeting. Haruka felt Rei stiffen next to her. Interesting, she thought.

"Thank you," responded Michiru with grace.

"Tomoe-san," said Jadeite, addressing the girl.

"Hai," she said solemnly.

"Congratulations, and thank you for your invitation. I look forward to your performance and wish you all the best," he said, smiling and handing her the bouquet of purple asters.

"Thank you very much, Hakumoro-san," she said, bowing deeply. She then beckoned him closer, and he leaned in to hear what she had to say.

"I invited you because Michiru–mama and I like your stories. When Haruka-papa is out racing, we read them together. Don't tell Haruka-papa," she whispered to him.

He laughed, pleased with the secret. "I do think you're a little young to be reading my mangas, but I'm deeply honored," he whispered back, bowing low. She flushed and smiled.

"I hope you're quite done charming my girls," scowled Haruka.

"Quite," drawled Jadeite.

"Careful, your tongue will get in you in trouble," smirked Kunzite.

"Rei-chan! You came!" said Hotaru, her face lighting up as she ran towards Rei. Zoicite snapped several pictures.

"Hai. Work hard. I love your kimono," she added, bowing and presenting her with a bouquet of roses.

Hotaru twirled to show off her kimono to better advantage and Zoicite snapped a picture, inspecting it.

"Thank you for the roses. Oh! Princess!" Hotaru breathed softly. The small group gathered closer to watch Usagi and Mamoru walk towards them. When Usagi tripped on the hem of her dress, they collectively winced.

"You should teach her how to walk," murmured Haruka to Michiru.

"Don't bother. It'll be like teaching a bear how to dance. You'll need lots of patience and food," snorted Rei.

"You're quite nasty, aren't you?" asked Jadeite, deliberately not looking at her. He strode off without waiting for her answer.

Rei watched him help Mamoru lift Usagi to her feet and find her shoe. Usagi smiled up at him and said something that made Jadeite laugh.

"Don't worry; we know you meant nothing by it," murmured Michiru, comforting her friend.

"I don't care what he thinks," said Rei angrily.

Kunzite and Zoicite exchanged surprised glances.

"You know he has a lot of nerve saying you're nasty when he talked so much crap about me earlier," sniffed Zoicite.

Rei shot him a grateful look, and he smiled at her.

"Aww," said Haruka, clapping him on the shoulder. "Is your widdle manly pride hurt?"

"Not really," said Zoicite, discomfited.

"Lies. Come along," she said impulsively, snagging him by the collar.

"I'll be back, my love," Haruka said breezily, addressing Michiru.

"There she goes," said Michiru, sighing and frowning.

"They'll be back. It'll be interesting to see the outcome, don't you think?" asked Kunzite, looking over at those who were left.

Michiru smiled, "Yes, it will, won't it?"

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"Sensei!" called Haruka.

An older woman broke away from her discussion and turned to see who was addressing her.

"Tenou-san!" she cried happily.

"Sensei! Congratulations," said Haruka, gallantly kissing her hand.

"Why, thank you! And this must be your family! Are you Haruka's sister?"

"Umm…yes!" giggled Usagi nervously.

"What a likeness! So good to meet you!" exclaimed the dance instructor.

"Isn't there?" drawled Haruka.

"And you…"started the instructor, staring at Zoicite with his equipment.

"You must be Hotaru's uncle. Such devotion! She's so lucky to have such support!" said the instructor happily.

"Thank you! I plan to capture every moment on film. Of course not everyone can claim such devotion. Can they, brother?" asked Zoicite, archly addressing Jadeite. Jadeite shot him a nasty look.

"They're twins," said Haruka mischievously, as she pointed to Jadeite and Usagi.

"Really?" asked the instructor, frowning as she studied their different features, shades of blonde hair and blue eyes.

Haruka decided that the instructor's gullibility had been stretched to a fine point.

"That's what I told our dear mother when they were born," she said, nodding sagely.

"I think I can see it," murmured the woman.

"Well! I just wanted to say hello. Come along, siblings," said Haruka breezily. They said their goodbyes and left.

"Ha! Pamplemousse!" said Zoicite triumphantly.

"Keep it down. People are staring," muttered Jadeite.

"I demand an apology," grinned Zoicite.

"Sorry, I still think you look like a child molester," smirked Jadeite.

Haruka laughed at the crestfallen look on Zoicite's face. Usagi followed all of this with some confusion.

"Never mind, Princess," said Haruka, noticing her frown.

"You know, I can't help but feel that I was part of an experiment," said Zoicite cynically, eyeing Haruka.

"I have no clue what you're talking about. Who's hungry? I heard that there are refreshments around here," said Haruka breezily.

Zoicite frowned at the change of topic. He was sure that he was being used, perhaps to show that Haruka had a happy family life and Hotaru would, too? Hmm. Or perhaps it was to stave off speculation over Haruka's gender.

"Where!?!" chirped Usagi, cutting into Zoicite's thoughts.

"Why don't you go get the lady something to eat, Hakumoro-san?" asked Zoicite.

"Could you?" asked Usagi pleasantly.

"Of course," agreed Jadeite instantly. Zoicite smirked. One could always count on Jadeite's politeness with women.

"Tsukino-san, you know, Hakumoro-san might not know what you like to eat. Maybe you should go tell him," suggested Zoicite after Jadeite had left.

"I'll be right back!" said Usagi and she was off like a shot.

"Now, then. Why don't you tell me what this is all about?" asked Zoicite in a pleasant manner.

"You're good," said Haruka, realizing how neatly he had gotten rid of everyone.

"I'm a lawyer. Lots of practice and all," he said calmly as he wiped his glasses.

Haruka sighed. "There's been lots of rumors going around about Michiru and me and whether we're fit to raise Hotaru. So I had you guys pose as my family. See over there? The rumor mill is already at work," said Haruka, gesturing with her head. She inclined it slightly in the direction of the instructor who was surrounded by the mothers and their children.

"So how did you acquire Hotaru?" asked Zoicite.

"No one acquired anything," said Haruka coldly.

"I see," replied Zoicite with a patient look on his face.

"It's complicated," said Haruka, annoyed.

Zoicite smirked. "Tenou-san, in my line of work, you hear lots of stories," he replied.

"It's too complicated even for you," she said. Haruka took a step towards him and clapped him on the shoulder. "Just drop it, okay?" she said, squeezing his shoulder blade. Her blue eyes were clear, steady, even guileless as she looked at him, but her tight grip held an inherent threat.

"Sure," said Zoicite, smiling at her with equal friendliness. Haruka dropped her arm and walked away from him. His sharp green eyes narrowed in thought.

'What are you hiding, Tenou-san?' he thought.

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Jadeite entered the refreshment room and scanned the tables loaded down with food and pastries. He froze as his eyes spotted a familiar face. 'Crap,' he thought, whirling around. Watase-san was surrounded by a gaggle of middle-aged admirers trying to wheedle his recipes from him. Their eyes met across the room, which was why Jadiete thought it was wise to beat a hasty retreat. 'Artemis, this is your entire fault! You said I'd never see him again!' he thought, frustrated.

"Hakumoro-san!" called a sweet voice.

"Tsukino-san," he said faintly, his eyes focusing on Usagi's face.

"I hate carrots. Hate them. So no carrots, okay? Oh! And cookies! And cake… I love cookies and cake," she said breathlessly.

"Actually, there so much food in there…maybe you can get it?" he suggested weakly.

Her eyes widened. "You! You can help me! You can help me carry the food! That way I can eat more, and I won't have to go back. Oh! And Mamo-chan might want something, too! You will help, won't you? Of course you will! Let's go!" she said, dragging him inside.

Jadeite groaned inwardly. So much for escape. He trailed after her holding the stacks of paper plates in his hand.

"Do you want anything?" she asked belatedly.

He smiled at her thoughtlessness. "No, I'm fine actually."

"You have to try this. It's amazing!" she said. And before he could insist that he was fine, really, thank you, she shoved a chocolate wafer in his mouth. His cheeks burned red with embarrassment, knowing full well that he looked like an idiot holding plates in both hands and a cookie between his teeth.

"Isn't it good?" she asked him, nodding sagely as she ate her own.

"Your fiancée?" came a deep voice from behind him. He choked, hurriedly set the plates down, and began coughing up bits of chocolate wafer.

"Kami, no," he gasped, turning to face Watase-san with a red face. The tall, brown-haired man handed him a cup of water.

"I apologize for startling you," Nephrite said placidly.

"It's quite alright," said Jadeite, keenly embarrassed.

"Do you two know each other?" asked Usagi.

"Yes," said Nephrite.

"Absolutely not," insisted Jadeite.

"Umm," said Usagi, confused.

"This morning, at the store, with the cat," began Nephrite.

"Don't remember. Must have been someone else you saw. I don't own a cat, you see," lied Jadeite.

"Watase Nephrite," said Nephrite, introducing himself for the third time.

"Persistent fellow, aren't you?" said Jadeite with gritted teeth.

"I thought we were meeting for the first time," remarked Nephrite, rolling his eyes up to the sky innocently.

"Hakumoro Jadeite," snapped Jadeite, shaking Nephrite's hand briefly.

"Let's go, Tsukino-san," said Jadeite, turning to Usagi only to realize that she was long gone, filling her plate up further down with choice bits of juicy watermelon.

"Good day, sir," said Jadeite stiffly, turning back to Nephrite.

"Sure," said Nephrite amused.

Gathering the plates, Jadeite headed towards Usagi and hustled her out of the room. "You can come back later," he said over her protests.

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They caught up with the others in the entrance of the dressing room. Rei rolled her eyes at the sight of all the plates but held her tongue.

"Hotaru! Sorry. There was food. Good luck, okay, you'll be fine," said Usagi confidently.

Hotaru nodded. "I'm nervous," she whispered worriedly as she clutched at Usagi's arm.

"Zoicite, why don't we go save some seats? Hakumoro-san, maybe you can find a place for all the flowers and things," said Usagi, taking control and lessening the amount of people around Hotaru. Usagi gave Mamoru a kiss and handed him one of the plates. He then excused himself and sat on the benches outside the auditorium to eat. After gathering everyone's jackets, Usagi and Zoicite left.

"What about your food?" asked Zoicite, following behind Usagi with an armload of jackets.

"The cookies are in my bag. There's no food allowed, so I snuck some in," she whispered sotto voce as they passed the ticket inspectors.

"Where should we sit?" she asked him as they maneuvered their way down the aisle.

"Positioning is everything. I want to be able to get a good shot and some photos of the performance," said Zoicite, scanning the auditorium for such a place.

"Can I have a copy of one of the photos?" asked Usagi eagerly.

"Of course," he said firmly. "Ah! There! Quickly Tsukino-san, spread the jackets along the seats. The positioning is perfect!" he said excitedly, beginning to set up the camera and tripod.

"Done!" said Usagi a short while later, and they both shared a triumphant smile.

"Excuse me!" said a sharp voice. They both turned to see the source of the righteous irritation.

"Yes, madam?" queried Zoicite, full of sleek assurance.

The old woman glared, her chin quavering in indignation. "I want to sit here. I want to see my grandchild. You've saved too many seats. These people aren't here. It isn't fair," she snapped.

Zoicite drew himself up to his full height, ready to do battle. "We were here first. I apologize, but we want to watch one of the children, as well," he said firmly.

The woman exploded in fury. "You're taking up all the seats! Where are all these people? You're not allowed to reserve seats like this! It's shameful!"

The altercation was starting to attract stares and whispered comments. Fearless, Zoicite stood his ground and gave all he was worth. By the time Jadeite showed up, they were at full volume.

"Excuse me, madam, but we were here first. I'm afraid you'll have to move. You're blocking the aisle," Jadeite said confidently. The dowager surrendered and left to go complain to an usher.

"You're wet," sniffed Zoicite, annoyed that a mere word from Jadeite was enough to send her off.

"It's pouring outside. I dropped off the flowers and teddy bear in Tenou-san's car. I heard you screaming at that vulture all the way from the top of the stairs. You're supposed to respect your elders, you know," smirked Jadeite.

Zoicite grinned. "She started it, even if she was seventy some years old."

Jadeite stared at the contraption set up in the middle of the aisle with extreme distaste. "You actually plan to film this, don't you?" he asked with disdain.

"How else is Ami supposed to watch the performance?" asked Zoicite as he watched Jadeite clamber over the camera stand and seat himself.

Jadeite heaved a put upon sigh. "Cookie?" asked Usagi, surreptitiously trying to hand him one.

"No, thank you, and please don't shove it in my mouth," he said wryly.

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Rei had a headache from the emotions swirling around her. She thought she'd go crazy from all the nervous people in the dressing room.

"Take a deep breath before you go on stage. You'll be fine. Have fun; you only have one first recital," said Kunzite, giving Hotaru some final advice. Michiru and Haruka would be the last ones to leave.

"Ready?" he asked Rei. She nodded and basked in his strong, powerful aura with relief. The man radiated calm and collectivity—no wonder Minako was drawn to him. Just being near him, Rei felt more grounded. Rei smiled and waved goodbye to Hotaru.

"We'll save you two a seat," said Rei wanly to Michiru and Haruka.

"Are you alright?" asked Kunzite, noticing her pallid features.

Rei debated telling him. "I'm a miko, so I tend to be a sensitive to crowds and their emotions. I have a headache. I don't know how to explain…" she said cautiously.

He smiled. "Here, take my arm," was all he said. Rei gratefully leaned on him. She hadn't been near so many people since high school. She rarely left the temple grounds anymore. To be shut in a small space with all those nervous children and their emotions bouncing off of her was a little much, especially since she was already hung over.

The moment they left, she felt immediate relief and was able to relax as her headache faded slightly. As they walked through the lobby, she felt him hesitate, turning a thought over in his head.

"Is everything alright between you and Jadeite?" he asked finally.

She stumbled, taken off guard by the question. "Everything alright between us? I mean Jadeite and I?" she asked, flushing at her use of the plural.

"He's an idiot sometimes. You should be more patient with him, though. I…never mind. It's none of my business," he said, frowning.

"Minako seems to be rubbing off on you," she said archly, favoring him with a cool glance.

"Seems to be the case," he said with mock solemnity.

"Maybe you might rub off on her…"

"That would be odd," he said, frowning as they walked into the auditorium.

She laughed. "I could use the change of pace," she smiled, maneuvering her way down the carpeted stairs

"You wouldn't know what to do with yourself," he smirked.

They arrived at the row that Zoicite had so strategically reserved for them. Rei raised an eyebrow at the amount of coats spread across the seats.

"Well, you've been busy," she said, picking up her jacket and sitting down.

"You don't know the half of it. I had to fight it out with an old battle axe. She was quite a handful. Tried to guilt me out of a seat with some story about wanting to see her grandchild," he sniffed.

"You should respect your elders," drawled Kunzite, sitting down next to Rei.

"That's what Jadeite said, but he gave her a good dressing down too," said Zoicite triumphantly.

Rei inadvertently glanced over to where Jadeite was in deep conversation with Mamoru and Usagi.

"You know, if she had been some sweet old lady, I would have given it to her. But she wasn't; she was an old crone. A harridan through and through. If I had been her grandchild, I wouldn't want her to get a good look at me. I was doing the poor girl a favor. She looked like she was old enough to have invented the Oka. The girl would have gotten scolded for flicking her wrist the wrong way or something," grinned Zoicite as he skillfully retold the story. Rei and Kunzite laughed at his antics.

"No, seriously! You should have seen her! Absolutely frightening," insisted Zoicite.

"I'll keep an eye out and let her know what you think of her," drawled Kunzite, chuckling slightly.

"Spare me the degradation, please. I can't cross swords with her one more time. Hino-san already thinks I'm going to Shinto hell. Will you pray for me, miko-san?" teased Zoicite.

"Will you make a donation to my temple?" smiled Rei.

"Ho! Ho! Will you listen to that! Kunzite-san, split the bill with me, and we'll buy our way into heaven," grinned Zoicite.

"You're incorrigible, Alderton-san," scolded Rei.

"Ah! The way you say that! I'm going to call Ami-chan. I'll be right back," said Zoicite, leaving the auditorium, phone in hand.

"There he goes. I've never seen a man more in love," chuckled Mamoru, coming to sit near Kunzite.

"What about you?" asked Rei, shooting him a suspicious look.

"Well, except for me, of course," he added dryly.

"That has to be the most unromantic statement I've ever heard coming out of your mouth," proclaimed Rei.

Mamoru and Kunzite exchanged amused glances.

"Don't tell Tsukino-san, Rei-san. You should make a donation to her temple to ensure her silence, Mamoru-san" said Kunzite with a grin.

"How much?" asked Mamoru, pulling out a pen and his checkbook.

"You have a lot of nerve! You make me look like an extortionist!" she snapped, horrified.

Kunzite spread his hands wide and shrugged. When Rei smacked his arm, both men laughed.

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Hotaru quietly watched her mama and papa go. They flowed elegantly out of the room taking her courage with them. It was true that she had been alone in the Silver Millennium, but now that she had her family, she didn't want to be parted from them and the thought of dancing on stage, alone, terrified her.

"Hotaru-chan, it's your turn for make-up!" called the sensei, breaking into her thoughts. Hotaru walked to the stool and sat, waiting for the makeup artist to finish with one of the other girls. While she waited, she inspected the array of face paints on the counter and wondered which one the woman would choose. The white paste was brusquely applied and she wrinkled her nose at the smell.

"Don't do that," said the woman impatiently. A brush was used to make her eyebrows blacker and stand out more. Eye shadow the color of her kimono was applied and finally her lips were reddened before she was sent on her way. When she approached the mirror, she blinked, horrified at her reflection. She barely recognized herself. She looked like an angry doll. Would her papa and mama even recognize her if she looked like this? She quelled any fears that she had and tripped over to her waiting sensei.

"Alright, everyone, gather around. We're going on stage," shouted the woman over the hubbub. As if her words held magic, everything fell into a frightened hush. Hotaru barely heard the final instruction, given her heart was pounding so hard. If it weren't for the thick coating of makeup, her features would be flushed. Already she was sweating slightly and she hadn't even gone under the hot lights of the stage yet. The dressing room was connected directly to the backstage and they walked meekly like lambs, single file, through the darkened doorway. Hotaru began to shake as she heard the rumble of the crowd through the curtains. A hand slipped through hers breaking her anxiety.

"Hotaru-chan," said a tearful voice.

Hotaru turned to look at her classmate, Tomiko-chan. The girl looked on the verge of tears, and no wonder.

"He's here," she said, gripping Hotaru's hand tightly. Hotaru felt the hairs on her neck rise at the feel of Tomiko's nails digging into her skin like a lifeline. The sensei was momentarily distracted, and Hotaru caught a glimpse of the pervert-san who had been bothering Tomiko. He was a backstage hand, a thick, beefy man with a disturbing gleam in his eyes. She had done her homework through observation and eavesdropping. Apparently, he was the son of one of the board members of the dance school. Hotaru never voiced her concerns about him to her fellow senshi because she didn't want to call attention to her family. If Michiru said something to the sensei, Hotaru was almost sure that they would be scrutinized for having Hotaru. So she kept silent and did nothing.

"He pinched me," said Tomiko-chan, showing her a bruise on her forearm.

Until now.

"Wait here," said Hotaru firmly, and then she headed towards the stage hand.

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They were finally all together. Michiru and Haruka had come back from their pep talk with Hotaru and a happy Zoicite showed up moments later.

"Good conversation?" asked Jadeite as Zoicite settled himself next to him.

"You know…I think I love her," he replied seriously.

Jadeite blinked, startled and taken aback.

"Huh? You?" asked Jadeite incredulously. Suddenly, he felt a disembodying sensation run through him. Zoicite was…had never fallen in love before. Wait, that wasn't right. There was someone before her. A long, long time ago.

"Jadeite-san?" asked Zoicite, interrupting Jadeite's thoughts.

"Huh?" queried Jadeite shaken.

"Are you alright? You look pale."

"No," said Jadeite, frowning and struggling with his thoughts. "I'm not alright. Something's very wrong."

A commotion at the end of the aisle where they were all sitting drew the two men's attention.

"Missing? How could you lose her!" shouted Haruka, visibly upset. Jadeite craned his neck and caught sight of a very angry Haruka yelling at the sensei. The dance instructor was flushed and spoke rapidly to Haruka, before stalking off. Kunzite rose, blocking the view of the scene and made his way over to them.

"What happened?" asked Zoicite, bending forward with Jadeite. Kunzite crouched on the ground and wet his lips. Jadeite suddenly remembered that it was never a good sign when Kunzite wet his lips.

When their heads were almost touching, Kunzite told them the news. "Hotaru's gone missing. The dance sensei can't find her. That's why Haruka was shouting. The instructor then claimed that Hotaru was an ungrateful child and was trying to ruin the production." Kunzite took a deep breath and wet his lips again.

"The instructor threatened to expose Haruka and Michiru's relationship unless Hotaru was immediately found. We have ten minutes until the curtain rises. None of that matters. We have to find Hotaru. I know her; she's extremely dedicated. She practiced so hard, she would not just disappear like that," explained Kunzite urgently.

"Wow. That was the longest that I've ever heard you speak. I'm impressed," drawled Zoicite.

"Leave it alone, Jadeite," interrupted Kunzite before Jadeite could get an angry word in edgewise.

"I'm sure she's fine. She probably went to the bathroom. I'll stay here to watch our things. I can already tell you two are going to look for her. She'll turn up. The others already left to look for her," said Zoicite relaxed as he pointed out the empty seats. Everyone, even Usagi Tsukino, had already left.

"Alright, you stay here. I'll look in the side rooms of the theater in case she got lost. Jadeite," began Kunzite.

"I'll look back stage and in the dressing room," interrupted Jadeite as he brushed past Kunzite. Kunzite and Zoicite watched him go.

"He's looking for trouble," murmured Kunzite.

"He'll find it. You're right about one thing. Hotaru-chan wouldn't just disappear. I didn't want to say it. Jadeite-san would have panicked and lost his head. This way, at least, his temper won't rage out of control," said Zoicite coolly.

"Then why won't you come with us to look for her?" snapped Kunzite.

"Someone has to watch our things. Besides, I promised Ami I would film the Oka. And I'm going to film the Oka with or without Hotaru-chan in it," grinned Zoicite.

"Selfish," said Kunzite, standing up.

Zoicite shot him an ironic look. "Not really. I'm making the biggest sacrifice. I'll be on pins and needles until I know she's safe and sound," he said seriously. As if to contradict his own words, Zoicite reached over and snagged a cookie from Usagi's plate and bit into it.

"Mm…delicious," murmured Zoicite to himself.

"Asshole," deadpanned Kunzite as he turned away. Zoicite's laughter rang in his ears as he left the auditorium.

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Jadeite walked briskly into the dressing room, searched the closet, and then immediately headed backstage. He knew how these places were laid out. Most dressing rooms were connected to the theater stage. Already, Michiru was speaking with the sensei, trying to calm her down. He averted his eyes from the scene and scanned the darkened backstage. There. Why was that door ajar? He slowly walked to it and pushed it open. A rush of cool, wet air hit his face and the sound of rain falling reached his ears. Hesitating a full second, he stepped out and shut the door behind him, flinching as the rain pelted him hard. Blinking water from his eyes, he clambered down the fire escape and headed down into the alleyway behind the theater. His heart began to race, and he sprinted over to a small figure standing near the dumpster.

"Hotaru!" he cried, spinning her around. She blinked up at him, dazed.

"What happened?" he asked, his voice trailing off as he noticed a man lying on the ground.

"Kami-sama," he breathed. Acting quickly, he ripped off his suit jacket, draped it over her, picked her up, and almost ran from the body.

"Hakumoro-san," she said quietly from his arms.

He stopped.

"The dance…"

Jadeite swallowed hard. "I'm sorry. You can't… You would have been great," he said finally and as soothingly as possible. She started to cry.

'It's impossible for her to perform', thought Jadeite. She was drenched; her makeup was ruined, her nerves shattered… or were they? She seemed more distraught about the fact that she couldn't perform than about the fact that she had killed… and was that man even dead and had she even killed…? What had happened back there? He protectively tightened his hold on her. He needed to get her someplace safe, warm, dry…

"Hotaru-chan! Hotaru-chan!"

He broke into a run again and felt her twist in his arms to see who was calling. He ran out into the parking area, where the alleyway ended between two buildings and opened into the parking lot. He blinked the rain from his eyes and was about to call out when Rei turned around and spotted them.

She was furious, and her anger rooted him to the spot. He tried to form words, say anything, but nothing came out. He noticed the oddest things: the tendrils of her dark hair plastered to her skin, the rain drops that clung to her lashes and trickled around her mouth…

"Are you listening to me? What happened? You should have stayed put! Hotaru-chan, are you alright?" The questions were fired out of her mouth one after the other, but her presence was all that mattered, and he didn't notice the others until they were right on top of him. Hotaru was lifted out of his arms, and he came back to himself.

"The police. We have to notify them," he said to the others as they surrounded him and began to speak all at once.

The silence that descended upon them was swift, terrible, and secretive. They exchanged furtive glances among themselves. He was cut off from them. They were hiding something; he sure of it. When Kunzite ran towards them, he was relieved.

"What happened?" asked Kunzite sternly.

Words flew out of Jadeite's mouth as if he had been commanded to give a report.

"I found Hotaru standing next to the dumpster in that alleyway. There was a body of a man lying on the ground. I immediately removed her from the vicinity," he explained.

The only look of surprise came from Kunzite's face. While the others stared at him, assessing him, Kunzite glanced at Hotaru's thin, wet form. Her face was buried in the crook of Haruka's neck and so her expression couldn't be seen.

"We'll take it from here. Thank you for your help, Jadeite-san," said Mamoru abruptly.

Jadeite blinked and read the tension in Mamoru's body. He felt stung by the fact that Mamoru wanted him to leave.

"Jadeite-san? Could you see Rei-chan home for me?" asked Usagi, breaking into his thoughts. She gave Jadeite a kind smile which slightly soothed his pride. Slipping her hand into Mamoru's, Usagi gave it a small squeeze.

The moment was interrupted by Rei. "Usagi!" she protested angrily, clearly upset.

'She's being used as bait. They think I'll go quietly like a gentleman, if I have to "take care" of Rei,' thought Jadeite. He smirked bitterly and then carelessly plucked his suit jacket off Hotaru, which was currently sheltering her from the worst of the rain.

"It seems we're not wanted, Kunzite-san," he said, staring pointedly at Mamoru. Slinging his jacket over one shoulder, Jadeite turned to Rei, ignoring the startled expressions on everyone's faces. "Come along then," he said uncaringly.

She glared at him as he walked stiffly away. He passed Kunzite as he headed towards the theater, and shortly afterward he received a text. While he waited for Rei by his car, he checked the message.

Come directly to my apartment after you drop off Hino-san.

Short and to the point, just like Kunzite. A thought drifted through his mind as he watched the raindrops splatter on the screen of his cell phone. 'Kunzite must love texting. It's a fast, reliable way of relaying messages. No dead messengers, betrayals, or lost missives to deal with. Even bad weather doesn't slow down a text message,' he thought, tilting his head towards the sky.

He closed his eyes and let the rain drop onto his face and run down his neck. He slowly went through the events in his mind.

Hotaru-chan, her kimono not even the slightest bit disarrayed, standing next to dumpster. In his mind, she turned, and he noted the blood on her sock. The man, his neck twisted at an odd angle, lying on his side and twitching. The bits of skin, hair, blood, and even bone on the brick wall being washed away in the rain. Just conjuring up the memory made him feel slightly ill, but he forced himself to continue.

There had been no one else in the alleyway. The event had happened recently. It was just a frail seventy-five pound girl and a heavyset, 200-some pound man. Instead of the girl lying on the ground, the man was.

The sound of heels on concrete reached his ears, muffled as it was by the rain. He opened his blue eyes, slipped his cell phone in his pocket, and turned to face Hino-san. She was hunched into her black wool coat, her mouth and nose buried in the fabric. Her amethyst eyes glittered and watched him warily. Sighing, he lowered his head and scuffed at the ground with his shoes. "Hino-san," he said sternly, raising his head to look at her, "I'd like to leave before I catch pneumonia."

"I'm not going with you," she said after a moment of silence. Her tone was defensive and nervous. Interesting, thought Jadeite.

"Usagi-san entrusted me with your care, so get in the car, Hino-san. Otherwise, I won't be able to look her in the eye the next time I see her," he said flatly. He stared her down, testing her.

Rei immediately raised her chin and glared. "I'm not going with you! I don't need you to look after me. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself. And since when have you been on such familiar terms with my friend? You should address her as Tsukino-san. I won't tolerate you being disrespectful," she hissed before turning on her heel and walking away.

Well.

Jadeite watched her click her way to the bus stop in the rain. He pushed himself off of his car and fished around for his keys. Pressing the button to lock it and arm the alarm, he followed after her. If he had responded in a different manner, he perhaps could have gotten her to feel guilty or even gotten her to get in the car. He was no Zoicite. Now there was a man—if any such man existed—who could probably get Hino-san to comply with anything. Sighing again, Jadeite strolled after her, hands in pockets. He caught up to her after a moment or two and then stood next to her as she waited for the bus.

"I never would have pinned you for the stalker type, Hakumoro-san," came her exasperated voice after a few moments.

Interesting… he was getting to her.

"Just trying to fulfill Usagi-san's request, Hino-san," he said lightly. He didn't even look at her when he addressed her. He suddenly thought she looked vulnerable for some reason, and he had gotten under her skin. And he was getting very, very good at getting her angry. Recklessly, he had made up his mind to follow this situation to its natural conclusion, whatever that may be.

"There you go again! Usagi-san this, Usagi-san that! You barely know her!"

"She started it. She addressed me as Jadeite-san," he said evenly. Without even looking at her, he could feel her frustration as she floundered for an answer.

"She didn't mean it!"

"Whatever you say, Hino-san," he said, stressing the formal use of her name.

"You needn't go through to such lengths, Hakumoro-san, to see me home safely. After all, you left me in your parked car overnight. I know just how considerate you are," she hissed.

"I thought I'd let you get some sleep instead of waking you up. You were so tired, Hino-san. Naturally, I was being considerate," said Jadeite, turning his head to the rumbling sound coming up the hill. The bus appeared over the crest and roared to a stop. The doors of the bus creaked open. Rei stalked onto the bus and Jadeite followed after, paying for the both of them.

"What do you think you're doing?" she asked him with quiet intensity.

"Since I'm escorting you to your home, I'm paying your fare," he murmured politely.

"Don't do me any more favors," she muttered.

"Sure," he replied under his breath. He glanced at their reflections in the window of the bus, noticing how bedraggled the harsh fluorescent lighting made their faces. They were thoroughly drenched, wearing sodden clothing and sporting rumpled hair. He smiled in the window at Rei when he caught her doing the same thing. Unnerved, she looked away to some unseen spot on the floor that offended her. The bus rumbled on into the wet night, and after what seemed like a long period of time, Rei yanked on the cord of the bus. Creaking with weight, the bus ponderously stopped at the Sendai Hill Temple. Rei flounced out into the wet night, and Jadeite easily slinked out after her.

She spun, as soon as the bus pulled away, furious. "Still following me?" she snapped.

"Not anymore," he murmured easily as the rain poured down on him.

"What?" asked Rei, frowning.

"I said not anymore! I'm calling a cab! Go home!" he shouted over the noise of the rain.

"I will!"

"Fine!"

She spun on her heel and left him standing there at the foot of the stairs. Snorting at her, Jadeite pulled out his cell phone and called a cab company. He hung up after making a brief phone call and then cursed. It would take them at least fifteen to thirty minutes to reach him and there was no telling how long it would take to get to his car. Great.

'In the meantime, I can begin acquiring a beautiful case of pneumonia,' he thought darkly. He smirked at his thought process. Granted, he was a rather healthy person. It wasn't likely that he would catch pneumonia. It would be something out of those ridiculous dramas or mangas, where characters caught hypothermia, pneumonia, death, or cancer, while standing out in the rain for five minutes and pleading with their soul mates. He remembered one particular case where a colleague of his had his main character pass out in front of his lover and promptly run a high fever. He sneezed.

Jadeite glared up at the sky and shook his hair in a doglike fashion. Water sprayed out in all directions. His hair promptly settled wetly against his skin and began to drip into his eyes again. Turning his head to look for some sort of shelter, he gave up when he saw there was nothing but stone walls marking the perimeter of the temple. He got a good grip on the edge of one and hopped up. If he was going to catch pneumonia, he might as well do it off his feet.

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Rei glared at the fire. It was pouring outside, and the idiot not only insisted on bringing her home, but also on waiting outside in the rain. Her frustration with him mounted to a fever-pitch. If he had asked, she would have let him inside, but he hadn't. The indignities of the day mounted on top of her. First, he had left her in his car and hadn't even apologized. Then he had treated her coldly at the theater and even had the gall to suggest that she was overly cruel with Usagi. He had no right to criticize her friendship. Her comment had been just a joke, but he didn't even seem to realize that.

And then there was the overall treatment. He'd handled everyone around her with such care. The way he had rushed to pick Usagi up and help her with her shoes, the way he had fiercely cradled Hotaru when he found her… How he called Usagi by her informal honorific, so easily and yet, with her, she was still Hino-san. Everything contrasted with the way he treated her. She knew she always complained to Minako about how hypocritical men were. They treated women like prized objects and then cast them down, once they got what they wanted or even got bored, but Jadeite was different. He was a mixture of confusing, blunt treatment. He teased her, got angry with her, and then did small gestures like pay for her bus fare or her meal. He didn't have to draw for her, but he knew his story was important to her, so he did it anyway. But why?

The whistling of the tea kettle cut through her thoughts, and she snapped the stove off. With a small puff of protest, the blue flames went out, and she sighed. Rei stared at the two chipped, large mugs and poured hot water into both. And yet…she still felt guilty. Her sense of justice wouldn't allow her to let him stand out there by himself in the cold, wet rain. She picked up both of the heavy clay mugs with her hands, and then she slid the rice paper screen door open with her foot. The wooden slats creaked under her weight, but she knew her grandfather had already retired for the night. Sliding aside another door, she was greeted by the fall of rain. Thousands of drops pouring from the dark sky…

Not even sparing a backward glance for the warm interior of her sanctuary, she slipped on her heels, grabbed the open, drying umbrella, picked up the mugs, and headed out into the storm. She had walked up and down these stairs for as long as she could remember and so negotiating them in the dark, wearing heels, and balancing two hot mugs of tea was no issue. She reached the last steps and turned to the left. There he was, closer to the foot of the stairs than she thought he would be.

If she were prone to romantic notions, it could be called one of the most romantic things she had ever seen. Through the sheet of rain that was pouring off her umbrella, Jadeite sat, staring down at some unseen problem that the palms of his hands posed. His sodden clothes clung to his frame, and water dripped off his nose and unruly hair. And when he lifted his head and turned to look at her… his eyes… Had he smiled at the sight of her, she would have forgiven him everything. She knew then and there that he would be her undoing. That was all there was to it… but she wasn't given to romantic notions and he was a stubborn bastard. It was his fault he was out here in the first place.

And he didn't smile. He frowned. "Oh. Hino-san," he said stupidly, his teeth chattering slightly.

'Idiot,' thought Rei, rooted to the ground with fury. It was the way he had said it, as if he was surprised that she had shown up, as if he had expected that she would just leave him there…

'So. This is what you think of me,' she thought, suddenly sad.

"Here," she said thickly, setting down one of the mugs. She thrust the umbrella and the other tea mug at him. Not surprising, his hands were as cold as ice and sent little needles of shock through her as they closed around her fingers. Idiot. He'd get sick at this rate. She turned away from him, picked up her coffee mug, and stood a little ways away from him. Rei blew at the steam and sipped at the tea, grateful for the heat it provided. She ignored him, the ungrateful wretch, and she ignored the rain. She knew very well that she looked ridiculous, pouting the way she was, but she couldn't help it.

"Hino-san," he said, sighing as he hopped off the wall and walked over to her. He let the umbrella settle over them. Rei stared straight ahead, unresponsive. Quietly, Jadeite watched her over rim of his mug as he drank at its hot contents and then smiled. He tried a different tactic.

"Rei-chan," he said, bumping her gently. She swayed slightly and then stiffened.

"Rei-chan! Don't you think you're going a little too far? First Hino-san and now Rei-chan!" she exploded, unable to contain herself.

He interrupted her in the middle of her tirade. "Mmm. You're right. Hino-chan then? No?" he asked, with mocking seriousness.

"What should I call you then? Perhaps nothing at all? Hey, you? Like 'hey you, come over here'? No? Mmm. How annoying. A nickname? Miko-chan? Miko-san? Miko-sama. Hime-sama. Hino-sama. No?" he asked, smiling suddenly at her angry expressions as he went through all the possibilities.

"You know what to call me," she muttered, flushing as she drank from her mug.

"Rei-san, then?" he asked quietly. She didn't respond and couldn't look at him. Instead, she let the sound of the rain settle back over them.

"It's not too forward? For me to call you Rei-san? We argue so much, you know. You hate me—

"I don't hate you," she said, interrupting him.

"I remember you telling me you did. If you don't, then why do we fight all the time? Over such little things, too. It's not natural, you know. It's not how I was raised," he said quietly.

"I don't know," she said almost sadly. "You get along so well with everyone else."

"Not everyone," he amended.

"You're so polite with everyone, and with me…" she trailed off, suddenly realizing what she was saying.

"We're alike, you and I. Maybe that's it. Maybe it's something else. I don't know, Rei-san. I have to be honest, though; I rather like the arrangement," he mused as he watched the rain.

"You're so stubborn," she said suddenly.

"You are, too," he replied.

"And you're arrogant, prideful, and hot-tempered," she continued.

"Said the pot calling the kettle black," he finished for her.

She frowned.

"Let's agree to disagree. Or we can disagree to disagree. Or whatever. Let's be friends," he announced.

"I thought that's what we were," she said, running her finger along the chipped rim of the mug.

"Was it? Was that a friendship forming all this time? How odd," he said, frowning.

"I guess," she said dubiously.

"I wouldn't know. I don't really have friends. Oh, here comes the cab," he said, suddenly as they watched it crest the hill.

He set the empty mug down, wrapped his now warm hands around hers, leaned in, and whispered against her ear, "Thank you for the tea, Rei-san."

He pulled away from her, leaving her in shock. Rei watched him dash through the torrent and get in the cab. Her heart was pounding badly, and she didn't know why, but she felt miserable.

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Jadeite sneezed and shivered. 'So maybe there's more to this rain thing than I thought,' he mused to himself. He frowned and was about to knock again when the door opened.

"Wah! Look at you! You're soaking wet! You'll drip all over the floor in that state. We should have you strip in the hallway. Kunzite-san! You have a wet visitor! Should I put Minako-chan's hair dryer to good use?" chortled Zoicite. He stood in the doorway, cheerful, warm, and dry in a set of borrowed clothes.

Jadeite scowled and tried to push past him. Zoicite stood firm with the door half closed.

"Hey. What are you doing? You haven't been invited in," said Zoicite with mock aplomb.

"Yah! Move, damn it!" snapped Jadeite testily.

"Don't be an ass, Zoicite-san," said Kunzite dryly behind Zoicite.

Chuckling, Zoicite let Jadeite in with a bow. Jadeite scowled and stalked past him, sneezing.

"I'll get you a change of clothes," said Kunzite, walking away before Jadeite could protest.

"It's not necessary! Hey!" exclaimed Jadeite at Kunzite's back.

"I should say it is," came Mamoru's warm voice from the living room couch.

Surprised, Jadeite whirled to the sound of the voice and bowed when he spotted the figure. "You're here!" said Jadeite, taken aback.

"Should I be somewhere else?" he queried, amused as he petted Artemis.

"With Usagi-san?" said Jadeite hesitantly.

"Idiot. He's not chained to the woman," murmured Zoicite, mounting the stairs.

"Shut up," hissed Jadeite.

"Of course you wouldn't know that. You've never had a girlfriend, have you?" drawled Zoicite.

"I would pay my girlfriend more attention than you do Mizuno-san," snapped Jadeite.

"What do you know about it? We have different schedules," said Zoicite, opening the refrigerator and poking his head inside.

"I just bet that's what she tells you," smirked Jadeite.

"Leave it alone, both of you," interrupted Kunzite, coming from the back and handing Jadeite a set of his clothes.

"Kunzite-san! You haven't a single thing to eat! And you invited me over!" exclaimed Zoicite, shutting the fridge.

"There's leftovers! I just cooked this morning!" snapped Jadeite.

"I don't eat leftovers," said Zoicite coldly. He plucked a flyer from the fridge and pulled out his wallet and a pen.

"Princeling, do you mind? I want to order a number two, four, and a nine for everyone. Could you pick it up?" asked Zoicite, walking over and handing him the pamphlet and the money.

"It says here that they have delivery," observed Mamoru, scanning the pamphlet.

"Last time I was here, I called the place and they said that they discontinued it. They only have pickup now," said Zoicite, standing over him.

"Alright, if you're sure," said Mamoru, getting up and giving Artemis a last scratch.

"Of course I'm sure," asserted Zoicite, following Mamoru to the door.

"Trying to get rid of me?" asked Mamoru, raising an eyebrow and turning around as he walked out.

Zoictie said nothing and slammed the door in his face.

"Alright, that's it. I have had it with you," stated Jadeite flatly, practically white with outrage.

"Shut up and get changed before you catch pneumonia. And hurry up. We've only got about twenty minutes until he shows up. I've got something big to show you. He's hiding something. They all are. Come on, Pamplemousse, chop, chop," said Zoicite, clapping his hands and making shooing motions at Jadeite.

"Was it necessary to be so rude to him?" asked Kunzite frostily.

"Yes! I'm telling you that he's hiding something! You'll see. Trust me," urged Zoicite.

"It's none of our business," said Kunzite, sitting down.

"You won't say that after you watch this. Hey! Pamplemousse! They're just sweatpants and a T-shirt! What are you doing back there?" bellowed Zoicite at the top of his lungs.

"Alright, this better be good," snapped Jadeite, lumbering in from the hallway and flopping onto the couch.

Zoicite popped in the DVD and sat on the couch with the remote.

"Good evening and welcome—"

"That's not it. Fast forward," muttered Zoicite, intently pressing down the remote. The president of the dance school zipped through her speech and ran off stage.

"Here! Now watch!" he ordered them. The strains of the Oka started and the students floated on stage.

"Pause! Alright, now tell me. Who's the girl in the purple kimono?" asked Zoicite smugly.

"Hotaru-chan," breathed Jadeite.

"Impossible," said Kunzite furiously. "She was wet, her makeup was ruined, and her wig was soaking wet. There was no way! They didn't have enough time!"

"Exactly! Some asshole is lying to me, and I hate being lied to. Either she was attacked by a pervert and found outside in the rain, or she's dancing on stage. My eyes tell me that she perfectly fine. Look, there she is. She's flawless in her execution. She doesn't seem traumatized!" explained Zoicite, excitedly pressing play.

Artemis meowed and agitatedly began pacing.

"How did you get this footage?" asked Jadeite, picking up the restless cat.

"Well, everyone left and then Kunzite came back, told me his tale, and left. The others hadn't come back by then. I decided to film the Oka anyways, and I got a spot closer to the stage. I figured I would sit alone, tape it for Ami so she knows what this dance thing looks like, and go home. And who should appear before my eyes other than Hotaru-chan? So here's the thing. I know we just met and all, but I trust you more than this film footage. The question is, what really happened? How was she able to get her kimono dry so quickly, her wig and make up perfect? I'm telling you, they're hiding something," asserted Zoicite agitatedly.

There was a thoughtful pause, and Zoicite suddenly exclaimed out loud.

"I've got it! She's a twin! There's got to be two of them! That makes the adoption procedure doubly illegal!" he insisted at the skeptical looks he received.

"It's none of our business," intoned Kunzite, frowning.

"Oh, come on! You're not the least bit curious?" wheedled Zoicite, shaking Kunzite slightly.

"You're right; everything's weird. The fact that we recognize each other, the whole Artemis thing, and now Hotaru-chan, all of it," said Jadeite pensively. He looked down when he felt the cat tense and then spring out of his lap. The little white cat padded towards the back of the apartment and disappeared.

"Artemis? Yeah, he is a weird cat. He eats human food and sniggers. Sometimes, I get the impression that he understands me," mused Zoicite, sitting down, chin in hand. Jadeite and Kunzite exchanged glances over his head.

'Dense,' mouthed Jadeite silently. Kunzite nodded and smirked.

"Alright. We've got to flush them out. We need an excuse to go over there. You!" said Zoicite, pointing to Jadeite, who flinched in surprise. "You're perfect! And you can draw! So here's what we do. You draw something for her and bring to them as a comforting gesture since she 'missed' the performance. You'll have to go from there. You know, draw them out. You're good at that kind of stuff. You're charming. The little girl already likes you, and you can make small talk with the Tenou's," explained Zoicite, beginning to pace.

"And we're doing this because?" questioned Kunzite.

"Because!" started Zoicite.

"If they are hiding something, why should they tell us? They've only known us for a few weeks," explained Kunzite.

"No. We've known Princeling longer than that. I know it. You know it too, Stonewall. The Old Fox is right. I'm going to get my drawing materials from the parking garage. I'll be back," said Jadeite, slightly dazed by everything. Zoicite and Kunzite watched him go.

"Face it," said Zoicite quietly, "Things aren't normal. Princeling doesn't trust us. He's waiting for us to regain our memories, and who knows how long that'll take. We need to figure this out. I'm sure that this whole thing with Hotaru-chan has to do with our past." Zoicite's green eyes bore a strange intensity, and he sat back down.

"Fine," said Kunzite, finally rubbing his knees and thus betraying his nervousness.

Zoicite got up and patted Kunzite's shoulder. "I'm going to make tea," said Zoicite, going into the kitchen.

"Sake," said Kunzite, stretching out on the couch and pinching at the bridge of his nose.

"You don't have to tell me. I know you, remember? I'm already on it," replied Zoicite, rustling through the fridge.

By the time the tea was ready, Jadeite had returned from his car with a black bag. Briskly, he walked into the living room and sat down on the floor. He unzipped the bag, displaying an array of pastels, watercolors, and colored pencils.

"Going all out?" asked Zoicite, impressed, as he set the tea down in front of Jadeite.

"It has to be a thing of beauty in order to get the correct response," said Jadeite, frowning down at the blank pad. The graphite pencil hovered over the pad as Jadeite concentrated, gathering ideas and discarding them in his head.

"What did you have in mind?" breathed Zoicite, peering over his shoulder.

Jadeite slapped the pad on the floor in a fit of temper. "If you'd give me some peace and quiet so I can think, maybe I'd come up with something!" he snapped.

"Oh, look at the high and mighty artist! You must have thousands of clients just dying to work with you! Beautiful temper! You arrogant, little asshole! I ask a simple question and you go off on me! Prima Donna!" growled Zoicite.

"Knock it off, you two. Zoicite, back away from Jadeite and give the man some space. You should know better. You know what sets him off and you do it anyways. Come over here and help me strategize," said Kunzite, annoyed, from his position on the couch.

"Bastard," said Zoicite as a parting shot.

"Keep it up and watch what happens," snapped Jadeite irately.

"Alright, you've had your say, now get back to work," replied Kunzite tersely.

Zoicite grabbed a cushion off of the couch and made himself comfortable on the floor.

"What are you thinking?" he asked, crossing his legs Indian style.

"I'm trying to fit the pieces together. Just listen and tell me what you think," said Kunzite, staring at the ceiling.

"First thing, we know how to speak a different language," said Kunzite, holding out a finger.

"Maybe we were kidnapped at a young age and come from the same country," suggest Zoicite.

"Don't be ridiculous. My mother has all my baby pictures and baby hair. And how do you explain the fact that you know I like sake? That's not something that I started drinking until I was fifteen," said Kunzite.

"Okay, never mind," said Zoicite, pouring himself a glass.

"Minako speaks it, too," added Kunzite.

"Does she? Wait…so does Ami…" trailed Zoicite. They exchanged glances.

Silence.

"Crap, I smell set up," said Zoicite nervously.

"Maybe not; this seems to be real. It might be a set up, but the tingling? The flashbacks? How elaborate of a plot is this? What could they possibly want from us? I'm flat broke," pointed out Kunzite.

"Okaaay. So no set up, we can agree with that. There are too many people involved for it to be that. But get this…" said Zoicite, leaning in closer.

"What are you two whispering about over there?" drawled Jadeite, interrupting them as he began to draw.

"Just come up with an idea!" snapped Zoicite irately.

"Did it. It'll be perfect," said Jadeite matter-of-factly.

"Arrogance," muttered Zoicite, "Anyways, I saw this hypnotist, who tried to help me come up with memories…"

"What happened?" asked Kunzite, sitting up.

"Well, the thing is, I got the dank cave, dark dripping water, and a monster that called me master," explained Zoicite, paling at the memory.

"Any side effects?"

"Tons. I had a nosebleed, vomiting, a huge migraine, the shakes, sweating… I mean, it was really bad. And all of that just to figure out that I was involved with demons in a past life," shuddered Zoicite. The silence stretched on between them, each person lost in his own separate thoughts.

The doorbell rang, interrupting their thinking, and Zoicite got up to answer it.

"Princeling! Wonderful! You've arrived. So quickly, too," drawled Zoicite, climbing up the steps with his hands in his pockets.

"Should I have stayed away longer?" asked Mamoru dryly.

"Yes, you secretive, little asshole," muttered Zoicite, sitting on the couch. Ignoring Kunzite's sharp look, he propped his feet upon the coffee table and looked sardonically at Mamoru.

"Usagi-chan called. I need to get back," he said, looking up from setting down the takeout food. He met Zoicite's green eyes.

"Whatever," muttered Zoicite, looking away first.

"What are you working on?" asked Mamoru, glancing at Jadeite, who was busily scratching away on the floor.

"Mm," murmured Jadeite, not even looking up.

"I'll walk you to the door," said Kunzite, getting to his feet. Sighing, Mamoru headed to the door and slipped on his shoes.

"Thanks for the food," said Kunzite.

"What's going on?" asked Mamoru.

"We're asking that same question. You don't have to tell us everything that's going on in your life. But when you don't…it…affects us. Never mind. Drive safely," said Kunzite, finally closing the door.

"Mind if we spend the night?" asked Zoicite drowsily from the sofa.

"Go right ahead," replied Kunzite, leaning against the door.

"Don't worry about getting me sheets or pillows. I won't be getting any sleep. This will take all night," said Jadeite, his voice distracted with other thoughts.

"Don't overdo it. You're already coming down with a cold," murmured Zoicite, half asleep.

"If you care so much, then keep the tea and honey coming," answered Jadeite.

"Stonewall, you heard the man. I'm done for the night," said Zoicite sleepily.

"I'll stay up with you. I have to work on my thesis anyways," sighed Kunzite.

"Mmm," grunted Jadeite as Kunzite headed into the back.

Opening the bedroom door, Kunzite treaded in to find the cat sitting in the darkness in his human form. His tail lashing, Artemis sat in a chair by the window, looking pensively at the moon.

"It's a full moon tonight," remarked Kunzite, standing next to him at the window.

"I don't like this turn of events," replied the cat.

"And?" asked Kunzite.

"And…I might have to erase your memories," said Artemis.

"Are you serious?" asked Kunzite quietly.

Artemis sighed and stood up. "I have a duty to protect Minako and the princess."

"But?" asked Kunzite, saying out loud what was probably to remain unspoken.

"But…there's always a but. But the three of you are already intertwined with Minako and the princess. But what is happening may be fate. But. So…I'll let it go. In a way, I'm glad. You, Alderton-san, and Hakumoro-san have grown on me. And you have been good for Minako, just as Alderton-san has been good for Ami."

"You'll stand aside?"

"Yes, perhaps it's best if I do," murmured Artemis thoughtfully.

"Will you help?"

"Do I look crazy to you? At least if you expose all our secrets to the world, I can say I had no idea what you were up to. But if I help you? Ha. Not for all the salmon and caviar in the world. No, you three can have fun blundering about, recovering your memories or whatever. I'm going to bed," snapped Artemis.

"Asshole," muttered Kunzite, pulling out the extra sheets and pillows.

"I could have you out on the street with no inkling of how you got there or who Minako is. Be happy, human. You're mucking about in matters bigger than you," shot back Artemis, shutting the door to the bathroom with a hard thump.

Kunzite had gotten Zoicite settled in for the night, given Jadeite his tea, and had created at least five pages of typed thesis when he decided to check on Jadeite's progress. Sure enough, he was still sitting on the floor, ignoring his now cold tea and the soft bed on the couch. He was hunched over the pad and was working by the light weakly leaking in from the kitchen.

"Jadeite," murmured Kunzite.

"What?" he replied.

"Do you need more light?" asked Kunzite, coming over to inspect the drawings scattered all over the coffee table.

"No," grunted Jadeite, still drawing.

Kunzite craned his head to look at the drawings and caught his breath. Hotaru danced in the different positions of Oka on almost every page. The skill was impressive and each detail was mimicked precisely on the pages. The differences between the pages were almost imperceptible. Some drawings were done in graphite while others were in light colored pencil and one was in strong bold colors.

"Looks good," said Kunzite, eyeing Jadeite uneasily before shambling off to bed. In reality, Kunzite thought that Jadeite had gone mad. The man had been drawing non-stop and still hadn't finished. He had used up two drawing pads and had a fourth and a fifth beside him. No matter, Kunzite was going to sleep; not everyone could be as zealous and hardworking as Jadeite, though he couldn't help thinking that it wasn't fair. If he had half the dedication Jadeite had, he would have his thesis finished a long time ago.

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"Wake up. It's done."

Kunzite flew out of the bed, yelling in a panic at Jadeite's poking. "You have an interesting way of waking people up," snapped Kunzite, breathing heavily and glaring.

"You waking up, screaming your head off, is a lot more interesting. And noisier. By the way, it's done," said Jadeite, sounding exhausted.

"You look awful," remarked Kunzite, reaching for a hair tie on the night stand.

"Didn't sleep, and I finally caught that cold," responded Jadeite, sitting at the edge of the bed.

Kunzite reached for the thick stack of drawings. "What it is it?" he queried, taking it from Jadeite.

"Flip through it really fast. You'll see," said Jadeite, lying down on the bed.

Following Jadeite's directions, Kunzite flipped through the thick sheaf of papers. The front page was a graphite drawing of Hotaru in the first position of the Oka. As the pages flew past, she danced and gained color until finally she was fully colored at what was considered the height of the dance. As the dance progressed, she lost color until she stopped and rain began to fall. The final page was a graphite sketch of her soaking wet with a heartbreaking expression on her face.

"This is really good. How does it work?" asked Kunzite, very impressed.

"Basically, animation is meant to create the illusion of movement using frames. It uses the persistence of vision. You have to flip through the book with enough speed and stare at it in order to make it work. This is the most basic animation. It's been around since the 1800's. Each drawing has to be slightly different from the one before it in order to work," explained Jadeite, closing his eyes.

"How many pages is it?"

"A lot. Three hundred-ish. I lost count," replied Jadeite sleepily.

"Get some sleep. Are you hungry?"

"Not for cold, greasy takeout. Do you mind if I take the bed?" asked Jadeite, sitting up and looking pitiful.

"Go ahead. I wasn't planning on sleeping another hour," said Kunzite irately.

Jadeite smirked and picked up Artemis, who was at the foot of bed. "I knew you couldn't deny me," he said, curling up with the cat.

"When Artemis wakes up and finds you using him as a security blanket, you'll get a face full of claws, and it'll serve you right," said Kunzite.

"Mmm," came Jadeite's voice from the pillow. Tucked underneath Jadeite's arm, Artemis' ear flickered briefly.

Getting up was the hardest thing to do, but Kunzite refused to sleep in the same bed with another man. It would be ripe blackmail for Zoicite, and Kunzite wouldn't leave himself open like that.

Kunzite headed into the hallway and founded Zoicite in the kitchen, scratching his chest and squinting in confusion. The couch pillow had imprinted its pattern on Zoicite's cheek.

" 'Morning," intoned Zoicite, his hair a frizzled mess and his suit rumpled.

"Good morning," said Kunzite, walking into the kitchen.

"There's no coffee," announced Zoicite, flicking the cabinet closed.

"Sorry," said Kunzite, opening the fridge and reaching for the sake.

"I feel gross. Let me use your shower," demanded Zoicite, sitting down heavily on the stool.

"You won't be wiping your ass on my good towels. Go home and use your own shower," replied Kunzite, pouring himself a cup.

"Aww! Come on! You would send your own blood brother out into the world in this state?! Unwashed! Unclean!"

"And greasy. Yes. It's about time the world recognized that pretty boys also wake up looking like monsters," said Kunzite, enjoying Zoicite's agony.

"Bastard. Evil bastard," snapped Zoicite angrily.

"What time is your date with Ami?"

Zoicite froze, every muscle going rigid. "Crap," he breathed.

Kunzite could swear that in all his past lives and his present one, he had never seen Zoicite move so fast.

"Stonewall,.Bye!"said Zoicite, flying out the door.

"Bye," called out Kunzite with relief. He pushed back the stool, got up, plucked the bag of coffee from its hiding place behind the fridge, and brewed himself a cup. One down, one more to go. He had long since given up hope of getting rid of the cat. He liked to be by himself in the morning, but Jadeite would get the hint and leave. It was Zoicite he had been worried about, so he'd taken the precaution of hiding the coffee before he went to bed. Apparently, it was easier than he'd expected to get rid of someone.

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Artemis was not a cuddler. Not. At all. That was Luna. Not him. After five years of Minako's idea of cuddling, he'd been put off it completely. So it took about five minutes of warm, steady, human, morning breath on his neck before he decided he had had enough. He promptly transformed and shoved Jadeite off the bed and onto the floor. Hard.

"If you want something to cuddle with, go to Toy-R-Us, get a woman, or find Luna. If I ever catch you groping me while I sleep again, I'll kill you," threatened Artemis.

"I wasn't groping you!" yelled Jadeite from his position on the floor.

"Let's get one thing clear! I'm not a cuddler! I never was and never will be!" yelled Artemis hysterically.

"Told you," intoned Kunzite from the doorway. He leaned against the frame, privately enjoying the commotion while sipping his cup of coffee, wearing his usual stoic expression. It was about time someone else received a tongue-lashing from the cat.

"You perverted pimp! If you ever again sanction the use of my body as a cuddling tool, I'll scratch your eyes and the eyes of my molester out!" roared Artemis. He got up from the bed and stalked out in a fine mettle.

"Cats…they like that stuff! What's wrong with him!" exclaimed Jadeite.

"Obviously, he's not a very affectionate example of his kind. He's kind of like a crotchety old man," drawled Kunzite before taking a sip of his coffee.

"I'm leaving," said Jadeite, looking affronted.

Kunzite felt a small twinge of guilt. "No, stay. It's alright. Artemis is like that. He's crazy. His day isn't complete unless he's shouting about something. He's actually overdue about now. If it hadn't been you sleeping on him, then it would have been about something else," explained Kunzite.

"No, it's fine," said Jadeite, getting up.

"I'm not letting you leave in your condition. Go back to bed. That's an order," said Kunzite sternly, closing the door behind him.

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Ami hesitated before ringing the doorbell. She didn't have a lot of clothes to wear, since shopping was never her strong suit. She either went with Minako, who pushed clothes on her that made her feel scandalous, or with Rei, who strategically incorporated the clothes into her own wardrobe. She plucked at the navy blue silk shirt and jeans she'd reluctantly chosen for herself. She supposed she looked okay.

"Ami! Give me five minutes!" cried out Zoicite, flinging open the door.

She panicked and screamed loudly and promptly blushed. "I'm so sorry! You startled me!" she said, her heart pounding.

"It's a just face mask. Don't you use them? Come in," he said, ushering her in. His face was covered in goo, and Ami forced her hand out of her purse. Her plan had been to pull out the pen, henshin, and turn him into an icicle before calling for back up. Luckily, he had asked her to give him five more minutes to prepare instead of going for her throat like any normal youma. She allowed herself a small sigh of relief.

"My dermatologist recommends doing these one a week, but I've been neglectful. You have good skin—what do you use?" he asked her, turning around as she mounted the steps.

"Me? Um. Soap and water," she admitted.

"What! Really! Ah, no fair," he groused. She smiled at him and began taking off her shoes.

"Do you want to do one?" he suddenly asked her, eyes curious.

"Hmm? Me? I don't know…" she said uncertainly.

"Let's! Couple bonding activity!"

"Couple bonding…" she echoed lamely. She really hadn't spent much time with him lately.

"Alright?" she asked.

"Great!" he said, dragging her up the stairs. "Here, sit. I'll be right back."

"Okay," she replied, sitting down gingerly at the edge of the couch. At first she waited patiently, but then she began to have second thoughts. If his dermatologist prescribed him to use it once a week, then perhaps she shouldn't…

Before she could complete that thought, Zoicite had come back from his bathroom. "Alright, face me," he commanded, gently tilting her head in his direction.

"Maybe I shouldn't. I mean, this was prescribed for you, right? What if your skin type is different from mine?" she asked, jerking away, alarmed at the goop dripping from the end of the brush.

"Yours is sensitive, right? Well, so is mine. Come here," he said.

She scrunched her face at the cold, wet gel being brushed against her face.

"Don't do that," he admonished her gently. When he had finished, he kissed her.

"Let me go wash this off and put this away," he said, getting up.

"Where are we going?" she called out to his retreating back.

"Didn't I tell you? The park. Picnicking and then bike riding afterwards," he replied.

'That sounds like an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon,' thought Ami.

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Apparently, half of Tokyo had had the same idea. It was a perfect day for a picnic after last night's storm, and the ground had already dried in the afternoon sun. Ami gaped, horrified at the number of cars in the park's parking lot.

"Found one!" crowed Zoicite, cutting off some hapless driver. He received an angry blare of a car horn, which made Ami flinch but which rolled off him like water.

"Let's go!" he said excitedly, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. He busied himself with gathering the basket he had painstakingly put together not two hours before.

"You shouldn't have done that," she scolded him as they got out of the car.

"Done what?" he asked her, genuinely confused.

"You cut that man off," she explained.

"Oh, that. I saw it first, so that makes it mine by rights. I got to it first, as well, so that strengthens my claim to the parking space," he said, shutting the car door and coming around to take her hand.

"Courtesy dictates that you should have yielded the space," she chided. They looked both ways and then crossed the busy parking lot.

"And then we'd still be looking for a parking space," he teased, squeezing her hand.

"Fine, then," she said, blowing her bangs off her head in frustration.

"I know this great little place in the middle of the lake…"

"In the middle of the lake?!" she protested as he dragged her over to a path of rocks that led to an island in the center of the lake.

"This place is perfect. It affords plenty of privacy," he explained.

"I agree that a park is a rather public place to show affection, which you have a tendency of doing, but I am not wearing the proper shoes to venture across, and these rocks do not appear to be very stable. Zoicite-san!" she exclaimed.

"Perfectly stable, Ami-san," he said, nimbly clambering from rock to rock.

"But my legs aren't all that long," she called to him from the shore.

"It's fine. You won't fall! Look!" he said, waving to her with both arms. The picnic basket slipped from his grasp and fell into the lake. The splash soaked his pant leg and shoes and his "crap" echoed across the peaceful scenery. Ami laughed her blue eyes sparkling.

"Come back, Zoicite-san. We can go out to eat," she called to him.

"Ami!!" he howled, distraught at the loss of the picnic basket.

"Shh," she said sternly.

"But I want to go on a picnic with you!" he whined loudly on top of the rock.

"We'll do it another day, Zoicite-san," she told him wearily.

Pouting, he crossed over to the shore. "It's not the same!" he said, continuing his whining.

"It'll be the same," she said, putting her arms around him.

"Can we go at night?" he asked her eagerly.

"No!"

"Wwhhyy! Ammiii!" he complained.

"Shh," she admonished, blushing at the looks they were receiving from those who were content to picnic on shore.

"Ami," he groaned, pouting even more as she dragged him away.

"On the roof, at night. But that's my final concession," she said, leading him towards the park's bike rental shop.

"Fine," he said happily.

They paid for a tandem bike, which looked like fun but took them several minutes to work.

"We have to pedal at the same speed, Zoicite-san," she said, smiling.

"You should pedal at my speed, since I'm the one in front. What are you doing?!" he scolded her in a teasing manner.

"I am pedaling! You're pedaling too fast!" she laughed, as the bike wobbled precariously on the path. Several people moved out of the way of the bikers.

"Sorry about that. Excuse me. This is our first time," said Zoicite, apologizing to the pedestrians.

Flushed with embarrassment, Ami laughed and said, "Zoicite-san! Stop, let's try this again."

After several abortive attempts, they got back on the bike. The day was beautiful, unusually warm in fact, and the wind felt like silk against Zoicite's face. In one section of the park, a wedding was being held and the two couldn't help but watch the bride and groom surrounded by their friends and families.

"They look happy," remarked Zoicite, staring at the ceremony.

"Mmm," agreed Ami warmly. Zoicite craned his neck to look at her and that was when disaster struck.

"Look out!" cried Ami.

Zoicite turned to face whatever it was, but unfortunately he hadn't figured out the brake on the bike. As a result, he crashed into the table on wheels that was being rolled up the intersecting path. Due to his momentum, he fell forward into the wedding cake and into the arms of the distraught baker. Covered in cake, he clawed himself upright using the baker's shirt, half blinded by butter cream and vanilla icing. He looked up, stunned, and his green eyes met familiar brown ones.

"Mother Dearest!?!" he said, shocked as thrill of recognition ran through him. In response, Nephrite shoved Zoicite off of him and punched the unsuspecting blonde, who, incidentally, had also cut him off in parking lot. The last thing Zoicite remembered was Ami's scream and burst of pain.

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"I Found Him!!!!!!!!!" yelled Zoicite, bursting through the door.

Jadeite's coffee spoon dropped onto the counter with a loud clatter.

Silence.

"If you come up those steps and get cake on my clean floor, I'll kill you," said Kunzite through gritted teeth.

"It looks like whoever it was found you first. He did a good job on you, too. I should thank him," replied Jadeite, recovering from his initial shock.

"I found him," repeated Zoicite vehemently. "I found Mother Dearest!"

"Who? Alright, that's it," said Jadeite, getting up from the kitchen stool. "I knew it. I'm calling the hospital to get him committed. He's finally lost it."

"Wait," said Kunzite, grabbing his shirt sleeve, "let's hear him out."

"Mother Dearest is the fourth one. The one who's missing. I found him!" said Zoicite, exuberantly.

"Mother Dearest? Is he…you know," said Jadeite, flapping his wrist in a homosexual gesture before sitting down.

"He punched the crap out of me, so no. Despite the name, he isn't gay," said Zoicite wryly.

"I like him already," murmured Jadeite into his coffee.

"Did you get his name or any information?" asked Kunzite.

"Unfortunately, I was too busy riding a tandem bike into a wedding cake. I ended up falling on top of him. He's taller than Kunzite with brown hair and eyes. Oh, and he's really, really, built," explained Zoicite, gesturing with his hands at the height and muscle.

"Brown hair and eyes. Why congratulations, you've just described a large portion of the male population of Tokyo," drawled Jadeite, setting down the mug. He got up from his chair and he headed towards the stairs.

"Where are you going?" asked Kunzite.

In response, Jadeite waved the large sheaf of papers in the air and headed out the door. "I'll be back. I have to drop this off. It shouldn't take too long. Try to get Zoicite cleaned up before then," he said, shutting the door behind him.

"You know, from now on, I'm going to have to require you two to keep a change of clothes at my place. I'm not running a charity here. I can't keep giving away my stuff like this," pointed out Kunzite, getting up and rifling through the cabinets.

"We need to go back to the park and find him," said Zoicite, lost in thought and completely ignoring Kunzite's concerns about his clothes.

Kunzite found two plastic grocery bags and a giant black trash bag. He handed them to Zoicite. "Tie these around your feet. Use this one to put your clothes in. Not here! Go to the bathroom and strip in the tub," snapped Kunzite as Zoicite began to take his T-shirt off.

Once Zoicite shuffled to the back and started up the shower, the cat woke up from his nap on the windowsill. Artemis looked around blearily and blinked his green eyes.

"I dreamed about cake. I can still smell it. What's going on?" asked Artemis, yawning and displaying his needle sharp canines.

"Go back to sleep," replied Kunzite evenly as he surveyed the bits of cake on the floor.

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"Jadeite-san…" trailed off Michiru as she opened the door slightly.

Jadeite affected a concerned expression. "Michiru-san, good afternoon. I was wondering…is Hotaru in? Is she alright?" he asked, the very picture of condolence.

"She's…resting right now. Perhaps you could come back?" questioned Michiru, tilting her head slightly and knitting her teal eyebrows.

"Yes, well, you see, I'm here to give her this. I know she was disappointed at having missed her first recital. Could you see that she gets it?" asked Jadeite, handing it to her.

"Oh, of course. What lovely artwork. Thank you so much, I'll give it to her as soon as she wakes up," said Michiru, paging through the flipbook briefly. They stood in the hallway and Jadeite sensed that although Michiru addressed him less informally, there was no way she would let him in her home to speak with Hotaru. A retreat was in order.

"Thank you so much. I need to go now. I just stopped by for a quick visit," said Jadeite, bowing in thanks.

Michiru copied the bow and smiled softly. "Of course. You must be very busy. Please come again," she said before she shut the door.

Haruka walked of the kitchen with an apple in hand. "Who was it?" asked Haruka, taking a bite.

Walking to the coffee table, Michiru picked up her mirror and looked into it. She watched as Jadeite walked out into the parking lot and got into his car before she let the glass ripple back to reflect her face.

"Jadeite-san. He wanted to see Hotaru. Something about giving her this," she replied, tossing the flip book onto the glass table.

"Is it dangerous?" asked Haruka, her eyes flashing.

"No. Hardly. It's beautiful though. A fitting gift for a senshi," she said in an ironic tone.

"Nosy," growled Haruka, flicking contemptuously though the flipbook before setting it down.

"Yes, they are. Do you think they know about Hotaru or the princess?" asked Michiru.

"No. They wouldn't be digging if they did," replied Haruka pensively.

"Mmm. True. We'll wait and see what they do next," said Michiru, caressing the frame of her mirror.

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"Are you done yet?" snapped Kunzite, banging on the bathroom door.

"There are still crumbs in my hair! It feels greasy and smells like vanilla!" cried out Zoicite, despairingly from the shower.

"You owe me a bottle of shampoo!" called Kunzite before heading into the kitchen where Jadeite waited impatiently.

"So they didn't let you in to see her?" asked Kunzite, settling himself on the stool.

"No. All that work for nothing," he snapped angrily. "She just flicked through it, saying how nice it looked. Like it was nothing!"

"Michiru-san is a well known painter. Maybe she isn't familiar with your style of artistry," explained Kunzite.

"Yes, thank you. My artwork is inferior to her paintings," said Jadeite from the depths of his cradled arms.

Kunzite poked experimentally at the buried blonde hair. "I never said that," he drawled.

The bathroom door flew open, and Zoicite stomped into the kitchen, soaking wet and dripping.

"Get dressed!" snapped Jadeite, scowling at the bruised blonde.

"Whatever. I give up. It's not coming out, and I've gone pruny. So. I was thinking while I was showering. We need to get to the park if we're going to find Mother Dearest and convince him to join us. We need an excuse for the police in case there's an altercation," said Zoicite, leaning against the counter.

"Convince him to join us? What are we? A cult?" snorted Jadeite.

"A brotherhood," smirked Kunzite.

"Whatever you want to call it. You know, the weird handshake thing. Anyways, we need an excuse," interrupted Zoicite.

"We could say we were walking the dog," said Kunzite, throwing the random idea out there.

"We don't have a dog," snapped Zoicite agitatedly.

"We have a cat," said Jadeite suddenly, eyeing the feline speculatively.

"We were walking the cat?" asked Zoicite dubiously.

"We were walking the cat," echoed Jadeite.

"We were walking the cat," deadpanned Kunzite.

"We were walking the cat," mused Zoicite, slowly sounding out each word.

Silence.

"Hmm, it could work," said Zoicite.

"It could work," drawled Kunzite.

"Of course, it will work! It's my idea!" exclaimed Jadeite.

"My friend, you're a genius," grinned Zoicite, slapping Jadeite's shoulder.

"Don't touch me. You're wet, and this suit is expensive," snapped Jadeite.

"Asshole!" snarled Zoicite.

"Shh! He's sleeping," pointed out Kunzite.

They glanced at the cat and lowered their voices.

"Do you have a leash?" whispered Zoicite.

"In the closet," murmured Kunzite.

"You have a leash?" whispered Jadeite, surprised. Jadeite and Zoicite stared at him.

"I used to have a dog, and I kept it for remembrance," murmured Kunzite.

"What happened to the dog?" breathed Zoicite, wide-eyed.

"Yah! We don't have time for this!" shouted Jadeite as softly as possible.

"Go get dressed," murmured Kunzite.

"Alright, Alright. Be ready when I come back," said Zoicite, quietly slipping away.

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The leash wasn't quite a leash. It was more of a harness. How they were going to get it on the sleeping cat would present more of a problem. Kunzite and Jadeite both agreed that it would be best to get him awake and in it before Zoicite got dressed. The feline would only be more agitated if Zoicite also knew about his speaking talent. They crouched behind the arm of couch and watched their prey.

"He's sleeping," whispered Jadeite. Artemis' ear flickered and they froze, each muscle rigid with anxiety. They knew what horrendous fate was in store for them if the cat woke before they could get him in the harness. They slowly crept forward, crouched and on the balls of their feet. Jadeite, not being familiar with the living room's creaks and groans, stepped on the wrong floorboard.

Krakk.

Artemis opened his emerald eyes and raised his head in sudden alarm to see the two males crouched near him. Disaster was narrowly evaded, however.

"We want to make a deal," started Jadeite. Kunzite glared at him; he had been hoping to avoid this.

"Creeping up on me while I sleep? You humans have a strange way of making deals," said Artemis mistrustfully, as he got to his feet. His tail swished back and forth.

"We need you to take a walk in the park with us," said Kunzite.

"This requires me to wear a leash?" drawled Artemis.

"In a public park, yes," replied Jadeite.

"Artemis, how many pounds of salmon is your pride worth?" the cat asked himself ironically.

"You don't have to do it," said Kunzite evenly.

"You're giving me the option! Good thing I woke up," said Artemis in mock surprise.

"Alright, alright. It was wrong of us. We apologize. There. Now are you going to help us out or not?" snapped Jadeite.

"Patience, human. Hmm. I'm getting tired of salmon. I think I'm in the mood for Chilean sea bass," mused Artemis.

"Aren't those becoming endangered from overfishing?" asked Kunzite.

"Are they? And no wonder, delicious things that they are," said Artemis, sarcastically.

"Well?" asked Jadeite.

"I want you to buy me ten pounds of Chilean Sea Bass and cook it for me. You are then to package it and store it in the freezer, so that I may eat it at my leisure," snapped Artemis, hopping off the bay window and stalking towards them.

"That's it?" asked Jadeite, taking the harness from Kunzite and slipping it on the cat.

"Don't make it worse," said Kunzite, getting to his feet and stretching.

"Don't make it worse," muttered Artemis with a snort. Unable to resist, Jadeite picked up the cat, cradled him, and scratched his ears. With a gusty, put upon sigh, Artemis allowed this treatment.

"Ready?" called Zoicite from the back.

"Ages ago," snapped Jadeite from the door. Zoicite appeared from the back of the apartment, looking ridiculous in Kunzite's too-large sleepwear and sporting a blooming purple bruise on his cheek.

"He got you pretty good. Are you sure you don't want to stay?" queried Kunzite.

"Are you kidding? And miss all the fun? Where's Artemis?" asked Zoicite, slipping on his shoes.

"I've got him," replied Jadeite irately, walking out the door.

"Ah, there he is. What a good kitty. Wow, look at him glare at me. Cantankerous old man, aren't you? Well, we couldn't do it without you, old thing. We have to stop by the pet store get to him some catnip, guys," said Zoicite, taking the cat from Jadeite and holding him up to his face.

"Yeah, sure, why not?" smirked Kunzite.

Artemis began to purr.

"Yes, you like me, don't you? You like catnip," cooed Zoicite, scratching his head.

"Yes, he adores you. If he could speak, he'd tell you himself," drawled Jadeite, holding the elevator door open for Zoicite.

Kunzite chuckled in sheer amusement as Artemis began to snigger.

"I think he's a great cat. Minako's lucky to have him. I'd want one just like him, if I had the time to care for him," said Zoicite, oblivious.

"You would? Just like him?" drawled Jadeite, pressing the button for the ground floor.

"Yeah, he's beautiful. We've even got the same eye color. Don't we, old man?" asked Zoicite, cheerfully holding him up so that the others could compare.

"His are a little darker," replied Kunzite.

"And more evil," muttered Jadeite. The cat hissed at this remark.

"Ten pounds of Chilean sea bass," muttered Jadeite darkly.

"Did he eat?" queried Zoicite, concerned for the cat.

"Yes," snapped the other two shortly.

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Artemis fled for his life with half of the park's dogs hot on his heels. In a strategic move, he bounded up an old tree and sought shelter in its branches.

"Artemis! Gomen!" gasped Jadeite, running up to the tree.

"That's all you can say, isn't it!" snarled the angry cat over the baying of the dogs.

"We didn't think—," began Jadeite.

"No, you didn't, did you?!" hissed Artemis.

"Artemis, calm down. Just come down from the tree. We'll protect you from the dogs," called Kunzite, sedately striding into view.

"Oh, you will, will you? It must be my lucky day!" he snapped in reply.

"Where's Zoicite?" asked Jadeite, still out of breath and scanning the park for any sign of the man.

"I sent him in the other direction to look for Mother Dearest. I told him we would handle the dogs," replied Kunzite.

"Good," said Artemis. The small cat launched himself into the air. It took seconds for him to transform and take Kunzite, Jadeite, and the dogs by surprise. Jadeite felt a blinding, crushing pain as over six feet and 180lbs of man-cat landed squarely on top of him. The dogs yelped and scattered in different directions as their owners desperately tried to catch them.

"I did not sign up for this," snarled Jadeite, spitting out Artemis' white hair.

"Neither did I," replied Artemis smugly from on top of the pile. Perfect execution of his plan. 'Serves them right,' he thought, his tail swishing back and forth.

"Both of you, Get. Off. Me. Now," said Kunzite with cold steel in his voice.

Taking his time, Artemis got up, dusted himself off, and stalked off without a word to either men.

"Jadeite…" began Kunzite, wincing slightly.

"It hurts to move. Give me a second," groaned Jadeite, bruised and battered. He weakly crawled off of Kunzite after a few moments.

"My back!! Bastard," groaned Jadeite, rubbing his spine.

"We're going back. Immediately," said Kunzite murderously from his position on the ground.

"I have no objection to that demand," said Jadeite, getting to his feet and using the tree for support. Groaning slightly, Kunzite crawled to his knees and got to his feet.

"These grass stains are never going to come out!!" hissed Jadeite, grimacing in pain as he bent to brush at his knees.

"Guys!" called Zoicite, running up to them and sounding alarmed.

"Did you find him?" asked Kunzite, popping his back.

"No, what happened to you two? Did you find him? You've got dirt all over you," pointed out Zoicite, concerned.

"Jadeite tripped over this tree root and took me with him," lied Kunzite, rolling his shoulders.

"Jadeite tripped?!? I tripped!?!" began Jadeite angrily.

"Sounds like something that clumsy fool would do," smirked Zoicite, in Jadeite's direction.

"Fuck. You. Both," stated Jadeite, thoroughly pissed at this point.

"I saw someone who looked like a part of the wedding party. He was wearing a white costume. Looked like a suit. He's really tall and thin, with long, white hair. I'll go ask him if he knows where they're holding the reception. Maybe if I apologize for smashing the cake, I can ask someone the name of Mother Dearest," said Zoicite, turning around to head towards where he last saw Artemis.

"No!" chorused both men. The last thing they needed was Zoicite getting chewed out by Artemis in his man form.

"Why?" frowned Zoicite.

"We already asked him. He's not a part of the wedding party. He's some weirdo, who's completely out of his mind. Homeless, I think," said Jadeite, straight-faced.

"We needed you to help us find Artemis. The dogs chased him off. I think I saw him go off in that direction. We're going to try and find park services, put in a lost pet notice, and see if they can help us. You go try to find him. He seems to like you best out of all of us," said Kunzite, pointing in the opposite direction that Artemis headed off in.

"Crap," cursed Zoicite, upset. "We have to find him soon. When does Minako get back?"

Kunzite froze and patted his pocket for his cell phone. "I left my phone in the car. What time is it?" he asked intently.

"Around four o' clock," replied Jadeite, pulling out his cell phone.

"I'm late," stated Kunzite before sprinting for his car.

"Hey! How are we supposed to get back!" yelled Jadeite.

"Take a taxi!" called Kunzite over his shoulder.

"I'm not made of money!!" roared Jadeite, irately after his retreating form.

"If I were a cat, where would I go?" murmured Zoicite, lost in thought.

"Forget the cat. He can take care of himself. I'm starving," said Jadeite disgustedly.

"He could get torn apart by those dogs! Or stuck in a tree! Or hit by a car! Again!"

"Are you going to search every damn tree in this park?!?" snapped Jadeite.

"If I have to," said Zoicite angrily.

"Kami-sama!" groaned Jadeite, squatting down and running his fingers through his hair in frustration.

"We're responsible for him! We brought him here! It's our fault he got lost!" argued Zoicite, sure that his argument made perfect sense.

"Alright. Let's look for him, then. Half an hour, okay? But we're going to get something to eat afterwards," said Jadeite, giving up and getting up from his position.

"Alright," said Zoicite, scanning the tree line. "Let's start over there."

With a disgruntled expression on his face, Jadeite shoved his hands in his pockets and followed after.

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Kunzite ran through the sliding glass doors of the waiting lobby of the airport. He was by nature a punctual man, and to be over an hour and a half late to pick up his girlfriend from the airport was unacceptable. He was a man who valued time, especially the time of others. Kunzite tried calling her phone again, but it went straight to voice mail after several rings. He had five missed calls from her, and he knew that she would be upset with him. He scanned the airport for her familiar form, searching among the throng of people bustling from place to place. Over by the window, his silver eyes caught a glint of gold.

Found her, he thought, relieved. It was her hair and her yellow dress, which caught the sunlight. She was like a painting of soft repose, a moment of stillness in the daily lives of those around her.

She slept in the sun in her chair, oblivious to the airport bustle. That was Minako. She was her own center of her own universe. Nothing shook her world, and when it did, it didn't shake her for long. She was constant and continuous in her cheerful manner and nothing worried her, at least on the outside. She was his opposite, and yet he was almost sure that they shared some similar characteristics. One day he would ask her what her thoughts were underneath her sunny nature.

"Hey," she said, her eyes still closed as he approached her.

"You're awake?" he asked her, surprised.

"I knew you were coming. It seems I always know when you're coming. I can pick you out of a crowd. Always," she said, finally opening her beautiful eyes. She regarded him gravely.

"You're late," she said, frowning.

"Forgive me?" he asked her quietly. His voice was barely audible over the public announcement system in the airport, so she wasn't sure if that was what he said to her.

"I can forgive you anything," she said, speaking clearly as he picked up her suitcase.

"Really?" he queried as she got up.

"Given enough time," she grinned happily.

"Are you hungry?"

"Starving," she replied as they walked out the doors and into the sun together.

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"Finally," she said, getting up from the couch.

It was late. Well, late for him. With the all-nighter he had pulled, and the rain, and everything that had happened to him in the past week or so, he was officially tired. Exhausted. Done for. And yet there she was, fearlessly staring at him in his house, demanding his attention.

"Are you going to come in?" asked Rei, frowning with impatience.

'No, I'm not,' he thought to himself. 'I'm going to run away from you. Otherwise, I won't get to sleep tonight.'

"I should have never given you the damn key," he scowled, taking off his shoes.

"It's only seven," she started to say.

"You have no idea what I've been through. The only thing I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep," he snapped, cutting her off.

"I'll leave, then!"

"Have you even eaten?" he asked her, looking at her with a weary expression. Rei stared back at him, unsure of his reaction.

"If you're tired…" she began to say.

"I have very little energy left, Rei-san. But you may have what's left of it. I won't send you away. You've been waiting for hours, probably. Have you eaten?"

"No, I haven't actually," she conceded, "But this shouldn't take long at all. I just want to quickly go over what I wrote down, then you can sleep, and I can go home and eat."

"And turn you out of my house on an empty stomach?" he snorted, walking into the kitchen and snapping on the lights.

She followed after him, annoyed.

"I'll let you in on a secret. I tend to cook in bulk, so if you look in the freezer, there's always something," he said, opening the freezer door and pulling out a Tupperware package.

"Like I said, you don't need to trouble yourself," she said haughtily.

"Your pride pisses me off," he said quietly, uncovering the container and putting it in the microwave to defrost. The microwave hummed and cut into the silence of the kitchen. He watched the green digits tick down and turned to face her.

"Too bad," she said, handing him the notepad. She noted the grass stains on his suit with disdain.

"Have you ever just accepted kindness with a thank you?" he asked her, beginning to read and ignoring her pointed look.

"Not from men," she replied, tossing her hair over her shoulder and sitting down.

He flicked through the pages of her notebook almost carelessly, and the way he treated the work that she had slaved over for hours irked her. He flipped it closed, walked over to her, and tossed it on the kitchen table. His blue eyes regarded her steadily, tiredly.

"And so you get your happy ending," he said tonelessly as the microwave beeped.

"What's wrong with that?" she asked him, quietly challenging him.

"Food's ready," he stated, loosening his tie as he got out a plate and silverware. He handed her the bowl of what seemed to be soup, and she began to eat it cautiously.

'She must have been really hungry,' he thought, sitting down and watching her intently.

"It's hot," she said self-consciously, trying to suck air into her mouth.

He smiled, and she frowned as she chewed.

"What?"

"You're cute," he replied, amused as he watched her eat.

"Excuse me?!?"

"I'm just stating a fact, don't get so offended," he scowled, annoyed once more. "How's the soup?"

"It's good," she muttered.

"You must have been really, really hungry, in order to finally admit that something tastes good," he mocked.

Then his cell phone rang, slicing through her awareness, and immediately the hairs on her arms and neck rose up. "Don't answer that," she said, setting her spoon down and staring at him in panic.

He glanced at the phone and back at Rei. "I have to," was all he said as he got up. Her vision blurred as she saw him walk out of the kitchen.

"Why?!?" she demanded angrily, on the verge of tears. What was wrong with her? Something wasn't right, but it wasn't her fault. A door slammed.

"Hakumoro-san?" she called out into the stillness of the apartment. No reply. She tried again.

"Jadeite-san?" Still nothing. She got up from her chair and made her way to the kitchen door. Why was her stomach in knots like this? The living room was empty and there was no sign of his presence. Food forgotten, Rei frantically checked every room in the apartment. It was only then that she could confirm that he had left her. Alone. She jogged to her purse and dumped out the contents. Finding what she sought, she called him. She heard his smooth voice in her ear:

"You've reached the voicemail of Hakumoro Jadeite. Please leave a message and I'll return your phone call as soon as possible."

She waited until the tone and left her message. "Idiot," she said, before hanging up.

Rei put her belongings back in her purse and pulled on her coat. She was leaving anyway, so why did she have to wait? He didn't even bother telling her where he had gone. He had just left so abruptly and matter-of-factly. She didn't have to wait for him. Gathering her things, she made her way to the door.

'I can't leave. Why? What's wrong with me? Why can't I just walk out? Why am I shaking like this?' she thought, her hand on the doorknob.

Shucking off her shoes and coat, she made her way into the kitchen. "Water. I need water, and then I'll leave," she out loud to herself. She drank a small glass and then another. It didn't seem to help, and she had lost her appetite.

"Idiot, you're so stupid. He's just a stupid man. Why are you so worried? Why are you waiting for him?" she asked herself softly. Rei slid down to the kitchen floor and hugged her knees to her chest. It was no use. She would wait.

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Before

The phone rang, and he glanced at it. It was Yuki-san.

"I have to," said Jadeite, getting up to answer the call. He never heard Rei's frantic call.

"Ha-ha-ku-ku-mmmoro-sssan…" she sobbed, stammering in her attempt to get out his name. "Helppp… me."

He grabbed his briefcase, slipped on his shoes, and flew out the door.

"Are you at home?" he asked her, sprinting towards the elevator.

"Hhhaii…" she replied, gasping for breath.

"I'll be right there," he said, hanging up. Once in the elevator, he rifled frantically through the contents of his briefcase until he found her resume.

"Address, address, 1854 Puramu Street," he said feverishly, shoving everything back into his briefcase and closing it. With shaking hands, he typed the address in his cell phone. By the time the elevator doors opened up to the parking garage, he had directions to her home. Jadeite pelted down the rows of cars and fumbled with his keys as he opened his car door. As he drove, he cursed the inventor of the parking garage, the inventor of the traffic light, the inventor of the street corner, the inventor of the street sign, and the inventor of the cell phone that gave him instructions. It seemed to be an eternity before he reached his destination. When he finally did reach Yuki's house, he dialed Zoicite's phone.

"Pamplemousse!"

"Meet me at 1854 Puramu Street, got it!?!"

"Wait, what?"asked Zoicite, bewildered at Jadeite's desperate tone.

"Please! 1854 Puramu Street. Just do it! Ok?"

"Ok,ok…"

Jadiete cut the call, dashed up to the house, and rang the doorbell twice. "Answer it, answer it," he muttered, jittery with fear. He had no idea what he would do if the man answered the door. Inspiration would have to do.

"Can I help—

Jadeite cut Yuki's husband off by punching him square in the mouth and rushing into the house. He cradled his hand, wincing, at the stabbing pain. First time punching anyone and he had to do it wrong. Of course.

"Yuki?!? Where are you?" he shouted as he clambered up the stairs. The sound of an opening door made him turn.

"Here…" she said, quietly drained as she edged out of the bathroom. A bruise was forming on her cheek, and her lip was already split open from his blows.

"Kami-sama," breathed Jadeite painfully as he saw her.

"I'm so sorry…" she began, choking on her tears.

"Don't apologize. Let's go. Ok?" he said softly, as he crept towards her. He reached for her, and cringing, she shied away from him.

"I'm not going to…Take my hand, ok?" he pleaded with her. She slowly grasped his hand and he tugged her behind him. He slowly edged down the stairs, wary of the husband, whom he left sprawled at the entrance. He craned his neck to see if the man was still there.

'Shit, he's gone. Where?' thought Jadeite when suddenly he felt someone grab his collar.

"Bastard!" snarled the man spitting with rage, as he drove something into him.

Jadeite felt a hot, white, sudden, agonizing pain in his side. His blue eyes widened in shock as he felt the impact. He let go of Yuki's hand and fumbled with the man in order to prevent him from doing it again, but…all he could hear was her screaming and begging for her husband to stop.

'I'm not cut out for this crap,' thought Jadeite, choking in pain. He saw Yuki desperately run past him and into the hallway. Jadiete, reeling with agony, concentrated with all his might on not letting him…. Jadeite was on the verge of giving up and he could feel his hands slick with his own blood, slipping…

Suddenly, it was over, and the man collapsed against him, driving the weapon deeper into him. Jadeite screamed and pushed the man off.

"Kami," he cried, panting when he saw the knife handle buried in him. He leaned against the wall for support as the heavy frying pan slid from Yuki's shaking hands and clattered to the floor.

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Rei awoke at the sound of a frantically ring door bell. She got up from the floor and slowly walked to the door, her heart pounding. He had the key…why? She opened it and her heart almost leapt out of her throat.

"Move!" snapped Zoicite, stumbling into the foyer, half dragging Jadeite.

"What's going on?" she asked, confused, her eyes following their progress.

'What's wrong…why is he… like that,' she thought, watching them.

"Which way's the bathroom?!" Zoicite shouted frantically, cutting off her question. And then she noticed the blood.

"Oh no…" she said, staring at the slick trail.

"REI!" yelled Zoicite, impatiently.

"This way!" she said, pulling Jadeite's other arm over her shoulder. Between the two of them, they somehow managed to get Jadeite in the tub.

"Go take care of the girl," ordered Zoicite, dragging her away from Jadeite's body. He pushed her out of the bathroom and slammed the door in her face.

"Wait! What girl?" she said to the empty air.

"Yuki!" came a familiar voice.

"Mina-chan! What's going on?!?" cried Rei, running into the living room.

"Where are they?" asked Kunzite, his face ashen at the sight of the blood on her arms. Rei tried to take in the scene. Minako had her arms around a crying woman, and Kunzite wanted to know—

"Rei!" barked Kunzite.

"Bathroom!" she said, her pulse pounding frantically. He ran up the stairs and brushed past her in his attempt to find Zoicite.

Minako sat the woman down, and Rei stumbled towards them. "Please," begged Rei, "What happened?"

The woman lifted her face, and Rei sucked in her breath at the bruises there. The woman buried her head in Minako's arms, and Minako cradled her back and forth.

"Her name," started Minako, dry-eyed, "is Yukiko Yagase. Her husband hit her and Jadeite intervened, I guess. What happened to him?"

Rei stared off into space, digesting the words.

"Rei?" asked Minako, starting to tear up.

"He had a knife in him. He's bleeding a lot. Too much. He might not make it," said Rei in a small, faraway voice.

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"Oi! Wake up!" said Zoicite frantically, smacking Jadeite's cheeks with his hands. He turned and snatched the face towel off the rack and pressed it into Jadeite's wound.

"Crap! That hurts! What are you doing?" slurred Jadeite painfully.

"Oh, thank Kami-sama. You're still alive. Look, you've had worse. Hang in there, okay?" said Zoicite, trying his best not to panic.

"When have I had worse? I don't even remember— began Jadiete. The door flew open at the hinges, and Zoicite turned as best as he could to see whom it was that had arrived.

"Damnit!" snapped Zoicite. "Where the hell is Ami? You're useless!" he said, furious, when he saw Kunzite in the doorway.

"Thanks a lot for the vote of confidence," deadpanned Kunzite, walking in the bathroom. His face hardened when he surveyed the situation.

"We'll have to get it out of him," he said grimly.

"Wait, no. I'm fine," said Jadeite nervously.

"Shut. Up. Idiot. You should have never gone by yourself!" hissed Zoicite hysterically, his green eyes blazing as his head snapped to look at Jadeite.

"Hold him down," commanded Kunzite, kneeling next to Zoicite.

"No, no, no, no. Wait, wait!" cried out Jadeite, struggling feebly against Zoicite. He screamed as Kunzite grunted and pulled out the knife.

"He's not dead, is he?" asked Zoicite quietly, cradling Jadeite, who went limp in his arms.

"He fainted," replied Kunzite, shaking slightly from the adrenaline.

Zoicite sucked in his breath. "Crap…he's bleeding even more. Maybe we should put it back in?" joked Zoicite, half-heartedly.

"We need ice," said Kunzite roughly, getting up from the floor.

"Ice?! Ice isn't going to help this!" shrieked Zoicite, hysterical now at the amount of blood.

"I'm here!" called out Ami, running into the bathroom.

"Ami! Save him! Please!" cried out Zoicite, scrambling to his feet and bowing deeply.

"I'll do my best," she said, coolly brushing past him. Ami's blue eyes took in the situation.

"I'll need ice," she said turning around and addressing the two men. Kunzite smirked faintly and ran to do Ami's bidding.

"Ice," said Zoicite tonelessly.

"It slows the bleeding. Mamoru should be here shortly. You should go wait for him in the living room with the others," she said, kneeling on the tiles.

"I'll be in the hallway if you need me," replied Zoicite shakily. He wasn't sure if she'd even heard him, and he was almost run over by Mamoru in the doorway.

"Sorry. Wrong bathroom. Where?" gasped Mamoru.

"Tub," said Zoicite, exhausted as he opened the door even wider.

"Oh, thanks," said Mamoru, squeezing his shoulder reassuringly before entering. Zoicite turned to watch the door close and heard the lock click into place.

'It's almost eleven at night. What the hell is he doing wearing that odd tuxedo?' thought Zoicite utterly confused.

"I have the ice," said Kunzite, running up to him.

"Doesn't matter. Door's locked," said Zoicite tonelessly, going to sit against the wall.

"But…I was right. About the ice. Right?" asked Kunzite, looking lost.

"Look at me. When you pulled out the knife, his pulse got even weaker. Ice isn't going to help him. He's lost way too much blood," replied Zoicite matter-of-factly.

"But Ami…"

"Ami has some cotton swabs and some rubbing alcohol to work with! Mamoru's a pediatrician for crying out loud! Ice? Please," snapped Zoicite, angrily. He blinked back tears as he looked as his hands.

The bag of ice fell to ground. "Oh," replied Kunzite heavily, swallowing the lump in his throat. "So we wait."

"Yeah, we wait for the news," said Zoicite, biting his lip. "You know…he never got to meet him."

"Who?" asked Kunzite, sitting across from him.

"Mother Dearest. They would have gotten along, I think," replied Zoicite, sadly.

"It's not over yet," said Kunzite quietly.

"And, I'm telling you, it's impossible!!!" snapped Zoicite, climbing to his feet and stomping off.

Kunzite watched him go. Zoicite might have been right, but he knew instinctively that it wasn't over yet. 'I need to remember something, but what?' thought Kunzite, frustrated.

"I heard shouting," said a soft voice. Kunzite looked up from his hands and saw Usagi standing in the hallway in her pajamas.

"Usagi-san," he said surprised.

"Please don't get up for me," she said calmly. "You've had a rough night."

"It feels that way," he replied, settling back against the wall.

"He's going to be fine. You have to have faith in Mamoru and in Jadeite," she told him sitting next to him.

"I still don't know what happened to him. I get a phone call in the middle of dinner. I've never heard Zoicite so frantic. He had Jadeite in the backseat of his car, and he was bleeding. He wanted me to meet him at Jadeite's. I got here as fast as I could, but I couldn't do anything for him," Kunzite told her. She listened intently.

"It's seems Jadeite was protecting his co-worker when her husband stabbed him," explained Usagi sadly.

"Idiot," said Kunzite grimly. "He should have called us and waited."

"Makoto should be coming shortly with a change of clothes for everyone. You can take a shower, and then you'll feel much better," comforted Usagi.

"You're all quite organized and prepared when it comes to emergencies. Everyone got here extremely fast too," responded Kunzite, staring at her.

"Ah! Well, not at all, you see…we're close, all of us," replied Usagi nervously.

"Oh?" asked Kunzite, raising an eyebrow.

"Umm. I have to go!" she said exuberantly, scrambling to her feet. "See you!"

Kunzite watched as she took off. "Worst liars I've ever seen. All of them," he sighed.

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"All vital signs are normal," said Ami, and Mamoru opened his eyes, the golden glow around him lessening. Ami picked up her bag and opened it, pulling out what she was looking for. It was a scalpel. She held it up and looked at Mamoru severely. He was pale and drawn as he lay against the wall next to the bathtub and above the sink.

"This won't fool them, you know. They are very intelligent. Are you sure you just don't want to tell them?" she asked with disapproval in her tone. He shook his dark head, and she sighed.

"Very well," she said stiffly. It was her King's decision, and she had to comply no matter how much she was against it. She lifted Jadeite's shirt and surveyed the smooth, unmarred flesh. There wasn't a single scar left after the healing, and no way to explain the whole ordeal. She cleansed the area and made a shallow incision. Sponging away the blood which welled up, she stitched it closed with sure expert movements.

"There, it's done," she said, cutting the thread and cleaning the wound. She applied tape and gauze to the newly made wound and made to sterilize the instruments she used.

"I'm sorry. I'm making you break your Hippocratic oath," he apologized, opening his eyes.

"Just rest for now. The healing took a lot out of you. I'll get you something to eat," she replied in turn. Mamoru had a lot to bear but so did she. She couldn't get the despair in Zoicite's green eyes out of her head.

Ami! Save him! Please!

She opened the door and was met by Kunzite's red-rimmed eyes. She paused in the doorway, taken aback by the look on the normally stoic man's face. While her heart went out to him, she still had a secret to keep.

"It's too soon to tell," she said in reply to the terrible question in his eyes.

"Can I see him?" asked Kunzite quietly.

"It's best to let him rest for now. He shouldn't be disturbed," lied Ami, flushing slightly. Jadeite was completely and totally unconscious. If the end of the world came, he would most certainly sleep through it.

"Will you move him?" asked Kunzite, getting up from his position on the floor a little unsteadily.

"Not now," she said in clipped tones as she walked briskly down the hall. She made her way past the living room, where Mina and Usagi kept watched over the slumbering Rei and Yuki. They looked up, and Ami was struck by how alike their expressions were. She pressed her finger to her lips and gave them the thumbs up sign. They celebrated on the couch with smiles of relief, hugs, and some tears. Ami nodded, also relieved, and made her way into the kitchen where she fixed Mamoru the only thing she knew how to make: a sandwich.

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She paused in the doorway and thought it ironic that they would both seek shelter in the library. Casting a golden glow, a single lamp was on at the desk in the middle of the room, and she let her hand drop from the light switch.

"Zoicite," she said gently as he covered his mouth with his hand and looked away.

"You know…" he began, clearing his throat and hastily wiping his cheeks. "I went to go look for a change of clothes. I figured he wouldn't mind lending me some of his stuff. He's got to be the messiest person I've ever seen. When I finally found his room, He had all these suits and silk shirts. I couldn't find a single pair of sweatpants or a cotton T-shirt. That guy, he's got issues."

"He's still alive," she said, closing the door behind her.

"What?" he asked, disbelief written across his face as he stared at her.

"He's alive," she repeated softly.

Zoicite took in a deep breath and gave her a pained look. "Seriously? You're not lying?" he asked her.

Ami tried to hold back her tears and failed. "I would never lie to you," she lied, trembling. She hesitated, wiped her tears, and went over to him.

"How? There was so much blood. I tried to save him, but I had to drive and—

"Shh," she interrupted, pulling slowly him into her lap.

"He's going to be fine," she whispered softly into his ear.

"Thank you for everything," he murmured.

"Anytime," she replied, burying her nose in his hair.

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"Knock, Knock," called Makoto, as she walked in from the balcony.

"Yo!" whispered Minako, getting up and giving Makoto a peace sign.

"The green bandit returns," she replied, dumping all the bags on the floor of the living room.

"Hooray for the great, green bandit, who breaks into homes and steals clothes and toiletries to give to those who are needy," said Minako, digging through the pile and finding her old school bag.

"Aww, Mako-chan. You even remembered my makeup," crowed Minako as she rummaged through the contents.

"Shh, they're sleeping, Mina-chan," noted Makoto as Usagi stirred on the couch.

"Hai, hai," she replied, locating Kunzite's bag.

"So what's the story?" Makoto asked, sitting on the arm of the one couches.

"He pulled through. Of course," said Minako, sitting on the ground and running her fingers through her golden hair.

"Of course," echoed Makoto, toying with her apartment keys.

"You and I still have a lot of work to do, though. We have to clean up all the blood and cook for everyone. Are Haruka and Michiru coming?" asked Minako, looking up from inspecting the ends of her hair.

"Correction. I have to cook for everyone and you'll help me clean the mess up. And no, they aren't coming. Jadeite apparently drew some pictures of Hotaru dancing the Oka and completely freaked them out. The Outers are suspicious as it is, and now they think that your boyfriend, your boss, and Ami's boyfriend are plotting something. Frankly, I think Haruka just doesn't want to get her hands dirty. She hates domestic stuff. So what do you want for breakfast, which will come around in about, oh, three to four hours?" queried Makoto laughingly.

"Mmm. I think I'll have mercy on you. Cereal's fine. If anyone wants anything different, they can make it themselves. I'm putting my foot down when it comes to you. You just got off work, and you still have to clean. You aren't a maid. I'll let everyone know when they wake up," replied Minako, getting up.

"Mina-chan… I love you. Let's get started," sighed Makoto, resigned at the amount of work ahead of her.

"Right," echoed Minako, equally despondent as she headed towards the supply closet.

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Recipe to Get Rid Of Bloodstains:

1. 1 part Clorox

2. 1 splash of dish soap

3. 1 whole bottle of hydrogen peroxide

Dab on carpet/ Scrub on wood floor.

A lot.

"Ahhhh!!! I hate this!!!!" wailed Minako despondently.

Makoto laughed, as she scrubbed the hallway farther ahead.

"I didn't even kill anyone!! Why do I feel like I'm committing a crime? Mako-chan, my arms hurt and my nose stings!!" complained Minako, crankily.

"Remind me never to count to on you if I need help burying a body. You're too squeamish and loud. You know I think I just found another possible career path, if I ever get fired from my job, I can always be a cleaner for the yakuza," chuckled Makoto.

"Remind me to count on you if I do need help burying a body. My puny arms can't keep this up Mako-chan," replied Minako, sitting back on her heels.

"Mmm. Looks like we're done here" said Makoto as she surveyed the hallway.

"Yay!" cheered Minako happily.

"Now all we have left is the elevator and parking lot," she added, grinning at Minako's sour look.

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He smelled the bleach before he saw her coming around the hallway corner with their bags. She was sweaty, disheveled, and splattered with blood. The sight made him uneasy and he shivered.

"Keeping yourself busy?" he asked her finally.

"You have no idea. My clothes are ruined and I smell like a Clorox factory. And I'm almost sure I've lost brain cells. Jadeite owes me a huge favor. There was blood all over the elevator," she sighed, coming to stand over him.

Kunzite held out his arms and she gave him a skeptical look. "Are you sure?" she asked him.

He shrugged. "I'm just as gory as you," he replied, showing off his arms.

"True," she said, making herself comfortable. He wrinkled his nose at the smell.

"Maybe not," he quipped, pushing her away.

She laughed and opted to hold his hand instead. "You know," she said, caressing his fingers, suddenly serious, "he's going to be okay."

"I know that he will. I'm almost sure of it, but at the same time I don't know that," replied Kunzite, looking pained.

"Let's go to sleep. You can see him in the morning. Okay?"

"Right now. I'm going through these scenarios in my head. What to do if he lives. What to do if he doesn't," explained Kunzite, swallowing hard. Minako waited for him to finish.

"There's something wrong with me. Even Zoicite is crying. I'm planning on getting rid of the Jadeite's body. There's something wrong with me," repeated Kunzite, frowning.

"That's…what leaders do," replied Minako, after some hesitation.

"What?" asked Kunzite, looking at her with some shock.

"Let's go. In the morning…you'll see… everything will be fine," said Minako, as gently as possible. She tugged Kunzite to his feet and as they walked she gripped his hand tightly. How could she explained to him that she was thinking the exact same thing? Acid. It would be the best and quickest way. Acid would rid any and all traces of the body. Ami had access to acid in the university laboratories. It would be best to do it before Rei woke up because she would be the most against it. Zoicite and Usagi too. Ami's computer could scan for any and all traces of fingerprints, DNA, hair, blood, anything that would have been left behind by any of the group. Or they could dump the body in Tokyo Bay. Or they could just leave the body in the apartment. So many possible scenarios. And each one broke her heart. She looked back at Kunzite as they walked through the hallway. But his eyes were fixed on the bathroom door where their friend lay.

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Makoto set the bucket down by the door and blinked rapidly to clear her watering eyes. Her eyes were stinging from the bleach, but at least she was done with cleaning. She slipped past the living room area, carefully not to make any noise and picked up Ami and Zoicite's bags. She knocked before she entered the library, sensitive of anything that could be occurring inside.

"Come in," came Ami's soft voice. Makoto opened the door and let herself inside. The interior of the library was softly lit and she saw Ami sitting at the table with Zoicite's head in her lap.

"Hey, I have the clothes," she whispered, setting the bags near the door.

"There's no need to whisper. I'm not sleeping," replied Zoicite, sitting up. Ami sighed and got up from her seat.

"Thank you Makoto," she said gratefully.

"How did you get in my apartment?" asked Zoicite softly, his eyes suspicious.

"The door was unlocked," replied Makoto, her heart pounding.

"Oh? How thoughtless of me. I hope you locked it before you left," said Zoicite calmly. Ami flushed, her hand clutching the table for support as her knees went weak.

"I did," replied Makoto, on safe ground. Since she had gone in through the sliding door on the balcony there was nothing to worry about.

"Top and bottom?" he asked, his voice still soft.

"N-no, just the bottom," stuttered Makoto caught in her lie. The top lock was locked and since she didn't have the key…there was no explanation.

"I'll make sure to check. You should give Ami her keys back," said Zoicite, lazily as he folded his arms. Makoto froze. She couldn't give Ami the keys to her apartment back, since she had gone in through the glass sliding doors for all the apartments, including Ami's.

"I'll get them from her later," interrupted Ami firmly.

"Why?" he asked, tilting his head.

"I should go," said Makoto abruptly and she slipped out, shutting the door behind her.

"Zoicite," said Ami, breaking the silence.

"I'm making things difficult for you, aren't I?" he queried, standing up and stretching.

"No, that's not it," she stammered, as Zoicite leaned in to kiss her.

"You're shaking," he murmured against her lips. He kissed her again softly.

"Are you hiding something from me?" he asked, quietly looking into her eyes.

"No," she lied.

He kissed her. "Don't worry. I can tell you're lying. But you don't have to tell me," he said huskily.

She shivered and he wrapped his arms around her. She felt warm and safe in his embrace and yet…

'I'll find out, so you don't have to tell me,' he thought as he buried his nose in her hair.

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Mamoru kicked open the door and stumbled into the room staggering under the weight of the unconscious man. He winced as Jadeite's head cracked against the door jamb and backed up. Shifting his unwieldy burden, he entered Jadeite's bedroom sideways. Straining under the weight, he dumped the man onto the bed with a gasp. His task was still undone. Undressing him would be extremely awkward but the bloodstained clothes had to come off. Sighing at the task before him, Mamoru turned to look for wherever Jadeite kept his pajamas.

"Knock, knock," said Zoicite sardonically, standing in the doorway with his arms folded.

"How long have you been standing there?" asked Mamoru, frowning slightly. Zoicite wanted something; he had been in an odd mood lately, less jovial, more...

"Long enough," he replied shortly.

"Want to help me undress him?" asked Mamoru, jokingly as he walked to the bureau and began opening drawers.

"Some other time," he replied, the tiniest hint of amusement evident in his voice.

Mamoru heard rather than saw Zoicite close the door. The lock clicked into place.

"We need to talk," said Zoicite, folding his arms once more as he leaned against the closed door.

'Shit,' thought Mamoru, exhausted.

"We'll start with the tuxedo," said Zoicite tonelessly.

"What tuxedo?" asked Mamoru, without turning around. Luckily, he had changed back to his pajamas, before he left the bathroom. He closed Jadeite's underwear drawer and opened another drawer. Socks.

'This is the last thing I need. Where does he keep the stuff he sleeps in?' thought Mamoru, slamming the drawer shut and opening another. Pants.

"What tuxedo, he asks. The one you were wearing when you ran in here. Top hat. Cane. White mask. You had a cape, for crying out loud. Red lining? Does that ring a bell?" snapped Zoicite, his growing frustration evident.

'I had a charity event. No. That won't work. He would look it up. This has been a long day,' thought Mamoru, opening another drawer. Sweaters. He shut it and looked Zoicite in the eyes.

"I don't know what you're talking about," said Mamoru.

"Were you wearing a tuxedo when you ran into me in the bathroom, yes or no?" asked Zoicite plainly.

"A tuxedo. At this time of night?" asked Mamoru. More pants. Mamoru shut the drawer and moved to the closet. He opened it, walked in, and flipped on the light. Rows, rows, and rows of perfectly color coordinated shirts and jackets faced him. He looked at the floor of the closet. Rows of shoes.

'Fuck him. He's sleeping in his underwear. I'll just throw an extra blanket on him or something,' thought Mamoru angrily. There was no way he would be able to find pajamas. It was like he walked into the Men's Warehouse of his nightmares. He hated shopping and this was even worse. He pulled out a shirt that had the price tag still attached.

'600 U.S. dollars for a shirt that is the same color as the ones to the right and the left of it,' noted Mamoru, with some apprehension. He shoved it back into place and turned to exit the closet. Zoicite blocked his way and frustration prompted him to reply.

"Zoicite," said Mamoru firmly, "No matter how much you ask I'm not going to tell you anything."

Silence.

"So then that means that there is something going on isn't there?" asked Zoicite archly.

"Move," replied Mamoru.

"Why!?! Why won't you tell me?!? Is it Kunzite? I won't tell Kunzite! I can keep a secret!!" whined Zoicite, scuttling out of Mamoru's way.

In all of Mamoru's memories, Zoicite would reduce himself to a whiny five-year old when he didn't get what he wanted. Apparently, this held true for his most recent reincarnation.

"Be quiet. You'll disturb Jadeite, he's in a very delicate state," snapped Mamoru, as Zoicite trailed after him.

"Who cares!! He's knocked out!! He can't hear a thing!! Tell me!!" he whined.

"Out," ordered Mamoru, unbuttoning Jadeite's shirt. Mamoru heard a suspicious click.

"What are you doing?" he asked as he wrestled with Jadiete's limp form.

"Taking pictures," replied Zoicite tonelessly, taking another on his cell phone.

"For?" asked Mamoru wearily as he eyed Jadeite's pants. Should he leave them on?

"Blackmail," replied Zoicite tonelessly.

Mamoru's head snapped up. "What?" he asked incredulously.

"Check your Facebook page in the morning," replied Zoicite, suddenly sprinting out of the room. Mamoru watched him go. If things still held true, then Zoicite was the fastest out of all of them. He had even beaten Haruka once in the past. It was no use running after him, it was a waste of energy and he wouldn't catch him anyways. He didn't have a Facebook page though, so it was nothing to worry about. Mamoru eyed Jadiete's pants. Personally, he hated sleeping in his clothes and seeing how Jadeite was even more finicky than him… The pants would have to go. Wincing, Mamoru began unbuckling Jadeite's belt.

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Zoicite was highly pleased. He was a genius. Mamoru didn't have a Facebook page, so he would have to make one for Mamoru. What else were friends for? Sprawled on the giant bed in the guest bedroom, Zoicite happily typed in Mamoru's information for him. Frowning, Zoicite created an email address for Mamoru since he didn't have Mamoru's password to access it. He could have hacked into Mamoru's email account, but it would have taken too long. Chuckling, Zoicite wrote Men and Medicine under Interests.

"Ami-chan? Are you coming to bed?" he called as he uploaded the photos he had of Mamoru undressing Jadiete. He paused and grinned as he heard flustered sounds emanating from the bathroom. Closing his laptop, he slithered off of the bed and knocked on the bathroom door.

"Little pig, little pig, let me in," he chuckled.

"That's not funny!" exclaimed Ami, beet red as she opened the door.

"Are you coming to bed?" he asked, his wolfish grin spreading across his face.

"I'm going to bed, but you're sleeping in the chair," she announced sternly.

"The chair!?!" he exclaimed. He turned to survey the uncomfortable looking, high backed chair at the desk that was made of wicker and wood.

"I admit it is slightly uncomfortable. But sleeping together is out of the question—

Zoicite kissed her, pinning her against the door jamb and his body. He smiled against her lips as he felt her heart rate climb drastically.

"I won't bite. I promise. We're adults aren't we? I'm sure we can handle certain…temptations…" he trailed off suggestively. Before she could form a coherent reply, he hopped into the large bed, ripped off the sheets, rolled himself in them, and clapped. The lights flickered and turned off.

Silence.

Clap, Clap.

"Absolutely not! I need my sleep and I won't be able to get a full night's rest with you sleeping in the same bed as me! I won't have it!" she cried out, angrily as the lights flickered on.

Silence.

"Zoicite! Are you listening?"

Silence.

"Zoicite!"

Silence.

Frustrated, she blew her bangs off her forehead and surveyed the situation with her hands on her hips. There was no helping it she would have to go in… Ami gingerly climbed on the bed and shook him awake.

"Zoicite!"

Silence.

"Zoicite…please…" begged Ami. She fought back a wild scream as Zoicite rolled over and sprang from his sheets. Grabbing her ankle so she wouldn't escape, he tackled her and cheerfully pinned her to the bed. Squirming on her stomach, she tried to escape but to no avail, he had his full weight on top of her.

"I'll scream!"

"Go ahead. The place is well built and the walls are much, much thicker than they appear."

"I know self-defense!"

"Do you? Me too! Where did you take your classes at?" he lied expertly.

"I'll get Makoto!"

"Go ahead. There's no telling where the poor woman is sleeping. There's plenty of room for the three of us and it's slightly chilly in here. Body heat is extremely effective in these situations."

"I'll get Rei!" she replied desperately, struggling to free herself.

"Ah, now there's a real threat. You know, I'm willing to bet a lot of money that she'll kill you first for waking her up."

"Be reasonable!"

"I'm being perfectly reasonable. I'm not going to do anything to you, so good night," he replied. Freeing his hands long enough to clap, the lights went out. Ami lost track of time in the darkness as she wrestled with Zoicite. Every time she managed to free anything, he would be right there. Finally she gave up and went to sleep. It was rather comfortable in his arms, she thought drowsily.

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"Excuse me? Hino-san?" a soft voice pierced through her sleep and she stirred on the sofa, uneasy. Rei always woke slowly and this morning was no exception. She opened her purple eyes, gummy from their ordeal, last night. In front of her was the woman Jadeite saved. Yagase-san.

"Yes?" replied Rei, quietly, sparing her from her usual morning venom.

"Umm. I'm sorry I woke you so early," she replied, bowing slightly nervous.

"No. It's no problem," replied Rei unsure of what to say or how to say it.

"He made it. Jadeite-san, that is. He's out of the dangerous period. It's a miracle," she said happily. Yagase-san held her hand over her mouth as tears began to fall down her face.

"I thought you might want to know," she said finally after several attempts to control her voice.

"Oh. Yes, thank you," replied Rei as she watched Yagase-san bow and then leave. She watched the small woman disappear into the kitchen and Rei followed her figure with her eyes. Rei felt a small hint of derision bubble up within her. 'How could you let that happen to you?' thought Rei upset. She normally despised weakness in herself and in others. She was unusually severe in that regard. It was in her nature. She was the warrior after all. She couldn't fathom those bruises. She couldn't fathom why they stayed. Yagase-san and her mother. Her mother died from grief and neglect, as Rei's father would go out and work. Often he would leave for weeks without a word and ignore Rei and her mother when he arrived. Rei didn't know how she knew, but she was certain that her father had a mistress of some kind. And so with the same detachment that she viewed Yagase-san, she watched her mother fade. The old derision was starting to come to the surface.

"How could you let that happen to you? You should have been stronger. I would have killed him. I would have never dated that kind of a man. I would have known," she said out loud to the empty space.

He made it.

As the words hit her, she shuddered in relief. 'Of course he made it. Why were you so worried? Mamoru would have never let him die,' she thought annoyed at her behavior. But his blood still was etched in her memory. Shaking herself out of it, she got up folded, the comforter that someone had spread over her, and almost tripped over her bag. There was a note attached.

Good morning Rei, your things are in the bag and I made sure to bring everything. I have to run to work for the morning shift. I'll see if I can get lunch and dinner off so I can help you clean those offices. Food is in the fridge with your name on it. Jadeite pulled through, of course. So cheer up!

Love,

Makoto

Rei checked the bag gratefully. Inside were all the things she would need for up to at least a few days. She might as well stay that long. She wasn't sure if he would even need her or not, but just to be safe… Rei headed in to the hallway to change and take a much needed shower.

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Kunzite left Minako's sleeping form and made his way to the kitchen. He had no idea how she could sleep so late into the day. He was starving and the thought of there being something, anything that Jadeite might have cooked in the fridge, made his mouth water. He walked quietly through the hallway, not sure who would be awake and who would be sleeping. Breaking the stillness of the apartment, the doorbell rang. Its chimes echoed through the cavernous apartment and Kunzite winced. The more people awake the more competition there would be for food. He strode quickly to the entrance and opened the door, looking straight ahead. No one was there. Frowning, he looked down and met the formidable gaze of a tiny, old woman. She was wearing black, holding a cigarette holder between her gnarled fingers, had an expensive looking stole wrapped around her.

"Where's my son?" she wheezed angrily, her mouth in a thin, angry line.

"Your son?" he asked faintly.

She inhaled and blew smoke in his face. "Yes, you murderer. My son," she replied, clutching her purse.

"You mean your grandson," replied Kunzite, evenly.

"Move," she snapped impatiently, smacking him on the arm with her purse. Kunzite scrambled out of the way as she stalked inside. She slipped out of her expensive heels and into a pair of black slippers that had their own cubbyhole. They seemed to be made just for her because they fit perfectly.

"I pay the concierge to tell me everything that happens to my son. She reviewed the cameras this morning and noticed that he had an unusual amount of activity going in and out of the apartment. Apparently, two women were seen scrubbing what appeared to be bloodstains off the walls of the elevator. If I don't call her in five minutes the police will be here. Now then, where is he?" she asked, framing her words in a clipped tone.

"He's sleeping," replied Kunzite.

"Then wake him up," she snapped.

"Fifi-san?" came a calm voice from the hallway.

Wearing a purple sundress that match her eyes, Rei walked towards them with a deliberate measured pace. She bowed deeply and respectfully at her elder.

"Well? Where is he? I can't seem to get a straight answer from this animal. You have three minutes," snapped Fifi-san angrily.

Gesturing towards the couch, Rei gracefully sat down. "Kunzite-san, may we have some tea?" she asked him, her eyes lifting to meet his.

Resigned at his eventual separation from any kind of food, he nodded and left. Rei turned to her head to Fifi-san, who had sat down and was meeting her calm gaze with a furious expression of her own.

"There's been an accident. He was stabbed, while trying to extract a female coworker from an abusive household," replied Rei, impassively.

"Yes, this is Fifi, everything is fine. There's been a misunderstanding," Fifi told the concierge after dialing the number. She hung up.

"Tell me everything," she demanded of Rei. Interrupting them, Kunzite showed up with the tea tray moments later and introduced himself.

"Sit," commanded the old woman. He sat and endured her inspection of him.

"You have strange coloring," she said finally, setting her cigarette down and taking a sip of her tea. Savoring the flavor, she looked at him from over the rim of her tea cup.

"You may leave Shikoku-san," ordered Fifi-san, dismissively. Stifling a sigh, Kunzite got up and left. Fifi-san was who his mother would be twenty years from now, only in a kimono and with a fan. To say that he was used to it, would be an understatement.

"I might have raised him rather harshly. He should have never intervened personally. It can't be helped. How much do you know about my son?" she asked Rei finally.

Rei hesitated as she replied, "Very little."

Fifi-san took a deep drag of her cigarette, the tip of it turning red, as she sucked in the smoke. Her eyes narrowed with the weight of distant memories. The smoke wreathed her face; its tendrils gently caressing her wrinkled cheek.

"I first saw Hakumoro-san on the bridge spanning the pond in Ikuko Park. It was early fall, still warm and she had been crying," started Fifi-san.

"Jadiete-san's mother?" asked Rei.

"Yes, Akiyo Hakumoro. I was just starting my business. I approached her and we spoke at length. She had been disgraced by her family and cut off. She had fallen in love with Jadeite's father, some American soldier. He had abandoned her and went back to his country," explained Fifi-san, her voice turning derisive.

"Hakumoro-san was barely eighteen and pregnant. I agreed to help her if she would model my clothing line. She was beautiful, gentle, and a wonderful mother. She—I haven't spoken of her in so long. It's hard for me. The American finally came back when Jadeite was six. She moved in with him and tried very hard to make it work. He was extremely violent. She would come to the photo shoots with the bruises still on her face. It broke my heart. I loved her very much. She lived like that for three years, until one day, she committed suicide. I received the call from the police station. I dropped everything and ran to the train station, where she had died. Jadiete was there. He was sitting quietly on the bench in a suit that I had bought for him. How could I abandon him?" asked Fifi-san, with tears in her eyes. She tapped the ashes of her cigarette against her saucer and inhaled it once more.

"I disliked children and I knew very little about him. I only saw him once or twice. I distinctly remember him coming to a photo shoot, when he was about two and, he called me Fifi-san, because of my permed hair. My staff members thought it was adorable and ever since then I have been Fifi-san. It took some adjusting living with him. He was incredibly quiet, like a mouse. Jadeite began to get into fights at his private school, so I pulled him out and had him tutored. He hasn't changed since he was small. The boy's a recluse. As soon as he was old enough, I had him volunteer every weekend at a woman's shelter for battered women and made him fully aware of what the situation with his father was and what his mother endured. I was severe with him and I taught him manners. Living with him has been like living with an adult. I should have done more for him," she said, finishing her story.

Rei kept quiet during the story, disturbed by what she was hearing. She could imagine Jadeite quietly drawing as child in his room as Fifi-san threw yet another wild party. She shivered involuntarily.

"Would you like to see him?" she asked finally.

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Kunzite reentered the kitchen, where Yagase-san sat, stiff as a board with uneasiness. He had stumbled upon her when he had come in to make tea for the two dragons in the living room. He had made two extra cups for them and so he sat across from her and sipped at his still steaming tea.

"It's going to rain today," he commented lightly, turning his gray gaze to her face.

Flushing lightly, she nodded unable to say anything because of her intimidation. Kunzite poured himself more tea, his movements elegant and sure. He studied the ceramic cup, his thumbs gently caressing the pattern that undulated across the cup.

"What will you do next?" he asked her his gaze, calm and faraway as he took a sip.

She bowed nervously, her tea untouched. "Umm…I've been saving for awhile now. I have enough for an apartment. I won't be here much longer. I don't want to burden—

"You're not a burden," replied Kunzite, his gray eyes soften as he focused on her. She flushed guiltily and bowed again.

"When will you be returning to pick up your things?" he asked his gaze cool and distant again. He lifted the tea pot from its place in the center of the table and poured himself more tea.

"I—I'm not sure," she started.

"You'll do it tonight. I'm coming with you," said Kunzite distantly, sipping at his tea.

"I don't think that would be a good--" stammered the woman, her words suddenly freezing in her throat as Kunzite's gaze settled on her heavily. She began to shake slightly. He seemed a different person, cold and distant. He had issued a command and she was to obey. Her eyes settled on her clenched hands.

"Alright," she said barely audible. He got up, his chair scrapping against the kitchen tiles. She continued to stare her hands as she felt him walk to the door. It was only when he left that she looked up. The room felt lighter almost now that he was gone. Yuki took a small sip of her tea and bit her lip, unsure of what just transpired.

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She didn't stay to watch. In fact she didn't think she could look at him, until he was completely well again. His situation was too close of a call and being around ailing people always made her nervous. Rei hated hospitals and while Jadeite's apartment couldn't exactly be called a hospital, the strong whiff of antiseptic that hit Rei's nose when she opened the door for Fifi-san made her sick to her stomach. She stared intently at the door, her nerves unable to let her step foot inside. For once her famed courage failed her, but she didn't runaway. She stood in the hallway, saying nothing even as Kunzite strode past her, each lost in their own thoughts. When Fifi-san came out, she almost looked older.

"He's unconscious," replied the old woman, leaning tiredly against the door frame. Rei remained silent.

"I met Chiba-san in the room. He seems to know what he's doing. I entrust Jadeite to your care Hino-san," spoke Fifi-san, her voice even more tired sounding.

Rei bowed, "I'll do my best."

"See that you do. He's all that I have left of her. I'll be leaving now," replied Fifi-san sadly.

"Will you be alright?" asked Rei, concernedly.

Fifi-san waved her off irritated, "I've seen worse injuries before. I'm not going to faint because of a tiny stab wound. I'll see myself out," snapped the old woman with some of her old fire.

Rei watched her go, bemused at her quick change of attitude. "Forget I asked," mumbled the young woman under her breath as she stalked down the hallway to the painting studio.

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Minako sat on the bed hugging her knees as she watched his serious profile.

"Talk to me," she said quietly.

"About what?" he asked, cold and distant.

"I've never seen you act like this," she replied.

"Like what?" he asked her, not looking at her as he slipped on his jacket.

"What are you planning?" she asked, her blue eyes intently watching his movements.

"Nothing," he replied shortly, searching for his keys.

"When are you coming back?" she asked him, as he bent down to look under the bed.

"I don't know," he replied his voice muffled.

Her face underwent a slight change. Slowly, she dangled his keys in front of her face, watching them tinkle and turn on the Tokyo U keychain. Kunzite crawled from under the bed and sat back on his heels, watching her.

"Minako," he began.

"If you aren't planning anything then you really don't need to go anywhere do you?" she interrupted him.

"Give me the keys," he said deadly serious.

"I'm not stupid Kunzite," she replied, looking at him straight in his eyes.

"Stop playing games," he said, getting to his feet.

"I've never been more serious in my life, love," she replied calmly, wrapping the key chain around her hand. As she scooted back towards the headboard, he pounced.

"I want the keys, Minako," he said icily, trapping her against the headboard.

"Well, I'm not going to give them to you," she told him slowly, as if speaking to a child. Calmly and coolly, he wrestled her for the keys. As her struggles grew more impassioned, he grew colder until finally he had the keys in his hands. From the floor of their guest bedroom, Minako rubbed her reddened wrist, her blue eyes glittering angrily as she watched him leave. He didn't speak a word to her and shut the door behind him.

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She sat limply in front of the blank canvas, paintbrush in hand. A thought floated through her head. 'He's going to kill me for wasting paint.' There was nothing in her. No juice, no creativity. Nothing. She didn't feel like doing anything. Setting down the brush, she mechanically dumped out the water from the jar and threw away the unused paint. Steeling herself, she marched down the hallway to the door. Rei gritted her teeth and knocked, wanting nothing more than to run away. Turning the knob, she entered.

"Hey," she said softly as she entered the room uncertainly.

"He's still healing," replied Mamoru, glowing slightly. He was wan and had dark circles under his eyes.

"Usagi, could have done it," replied Rei. She left the truth unspoken between them. 'She could have done it quicker and better.'

"He's my responsibility," said Mamoru quietly.

"No, he isn't," she spoke, her tone stubborn.

"He's my responsibility," repeated Mamoru.

Her purple eyes trailed up to the blanket where a slight glow emanated from Mamoru's hand. From their clasped hands, her eyes traveled up to Jadeite's pale forearm and finally to his still face. Her hand tightened on the door knob reflexively.

"I can't stand seeing him like this," she said, finally, tearing her eyes away from Jadiete's face.

"It's even harder for me," replied Mamoru, kindly.

She wanted to say something like, 'You don't know him like I do.' But she refrained. She gathered her last shreds of courage and sat down in the empty chair on the other side of the bed.

"He won't be awake for awhile," said Mamoru, sighing.

"I'll wait," said Rei, insistently, a challenge in her eyes.

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He strode in on his lunch break full of confidence and dropped his load on the floor with an audible thump.

"Bought it first thing this morning," said Zoicite, his green eyes glowing with intensity. He meant business, his arrogant, self-confident, demeanor reserved for things that required his full attention.

The light, bouncy Zoicite was gone, noted Kunzite with some satisfaction. Knowing that he would get no reaction from Kunzite, he couldn't resist showing it off anyways. Zoicite unzipped the bag and unsheathed his brand, new saber.

"I figure with the amount of scrapes we're getting into, it's about time I learned something a bit more heavier," smirked Zoicite.

"It's inefficient. You can't lug it around with you and it attracts too much attention," replied Kunzite almost mechanically.

Whereas the old Zoicite would have deflated and sulked, the new Zoicite replied with a grin and a, "I'll make it work."

Kunzite outlined the plan. It was simple. He would extract Yuki's husband from his house at knifepoint. Yuki would go in with Zoicite ten minutes later and get all of her things. They would meet back at Jadeite's. Zoicite didn't question what would happen to Yuki's husband after Kunzite got him out of the house.

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"Do you want the TV?" asked Zoicite, as Yuki packed her clothes.

"What? No," she stammered nervously.

"Calm down, we have plenty of time. Hours actually," explained Zoicite, calmly lounging on the bed.

"He could be back at any minute," said Yuki tearfully.

"Mmm. No, actually. And are you sure you don't want the TV? You're entitled to half of his possessions under the law. More than half actually. You'll need the TV for your new place. You should actually be getting the house and the car. Are you sure you don't want me to represent you?" asked Zoicite, drumming his fingers on the scabbard of his saber.

"I don't actually think I want to live here. Even if I do get the house," she said, going into the bathroom. Coming back out with a towel and her toiletries, Yuki wiped away her tears and packed those things in her suitcase.

"You could sell the house and move to the seaside or go abroad. In fact, I'd be willing to represent you. For free," he said, settling himself more comfortably on the bed.

"Why are you doing this?" asked Yuki, sniffling slightly.

"Jadeite is my friend. Actually, he's like a brother to me. I want to make him pay for what he did to Jadiete. You're the best way I can make that happen." Zoicite spoke with his eyes closed and Yuki studied him in the soft light of the lamp.

"Alright. But I want him to go to jail," she replied softly.

Zoicite lips curved up into a smile. "I can make that happen," he said.

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Rei sat on the balcony and half-heartedly ate her ramen noodles. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't even notice Zoicite, until he had plopped down right across from her, startling her.

"Hello!!" he said happily.

She rolled her eyes and played with a noodle. "You seem to be in a good mood."

"I am! Look what I got!" said Zoicite excitedly, unsheathing his saber.

Rei widened her eyes.

"Isn't she beautiful?" purred Zoicite, admiring the light of the sunset playing across the blade.

"Put it away! I have no idea why you even thought about buying such a thing. Aren't you a fencer?" she snapped annoyed by his antics.

"I am but with all these incidents I have decided to pick up the saber. I put it to good use today," he explained, sheathing the blade once more.

"You put it to good use?" echoed Rei.

"Mmm. I went over to Yuki's today to help her pack," said Zoicite, sitting back down.

"You did what!?!" exclaimed Rei, panicking.

"Calm down," soothed Zoicite.

"No! I'm not going to calm down. How could you be so stupid! That man is dangerous!"

"I had my saber with me," explained Zoicite.

Rei flung her chopsticks down in a rage. "And what if he had a gun? What would you have done then?" she yelled, standing up. Her face scrunched up as she tried to hold back her tears.

"Why are men so stupid?" she asked, trying to control them.

"There, there," said Zoicite, slightly touched by her display. He got up from his chair and wrapped his arms around her.

"Don't touch me!" she screamed angrily into his chest.

Ignoring her muffled scream, he rubbed her shoulders. "You know, I don't think men are necessarily stupid. We just want to protect the things we love."

Rei began to sob and Zoicite stiffened in surprise. "Rei-chan? Come on. Cheer up. Here," he said grabbing some napkins from the table.

"Don't call me Rei-chan," she sobbed, sitting back down.

"Stop crying. Come on. Jadeite wouldn't want to see you like this," said Zoicite, kneeling and patting her shoulder.

"I don't care. He's an asshole. I hate him," she said, blowing her nose loudly.

"There. All better. Here, eat something," command Zoicite, picking up the chopsticks. He deftly grabbed a huge amount of noodles with the eating utensils and blew on them to cool them off.

"Come on Rei-chan. You have to eat something," he said, holding the dripping noodles up.

She glared at him with her reddened eyes. "You blew on them! I don't want them anymore!"

"Brat," said Zoicite, shoving the noodles in his mouth and sitting down.

"You're disgusting. I don't how Ami-chan puts up with you. She's probably never seen this side of you before," sniffed Rei, scowling at the spectacle.

"At least I have someone who puts up with me," mumbled Zoicite, chewing.

"What did you say?" snapped Rei, her purple eyes flashing.

"I said, she loves me and I love her!" said Zoicite, after swallowing his food.

"Spare me. Please," she said sarcastically. She let out a shuddering sigh. "What a lousy day," she whispered, looking at the setting sun.

"Everything ok in here?" came a voice as the door slid open.

"You're back! How did it go?" asked Zoicite, excited to see Kunzite.

"He gave me very little trouble," replied Kunzite, holding an ice pack to his raw knuckles.

"Good! Excellent!" replied Zoicite happily. He began to slurp down the soup.

"You too?" asked Rei crankily, turning her angry reddened eyes to Kunzite.

"Have you been crying?" asked Kunzite, frowning as he pulled up a chair.

"You should have seen her! It was so touching! She was actually worried about us! 'Why are men so stupid!!!'" cried out Zoicite in a dramatic imitation of Rei.

"Shut up," she retorted tiredly.

"Were you really worried about us?" asked Kunzite, gazing at her bemused.

"Sure, whatever," she said, exhausted from her bout of tears.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it," said Kunzite, his chair scrapping against the tiled balcony floor. He shut the door behind him as he left.

"You're in love with him aren't you?" asked Zoicite, smirking as something became to clear to him.

"What?!" cried out Rei.

"Jadeite, you're in love with him," said Zoicite, secure in his estimation.

"You're crazy," replied Rei, angrily.

"You haven't realized it yet. You will though," affirmed Zoicite.

"I'm not in love with him. He pisses me off," snapped Rei.

Zoicite just grinned, back to his boyish self.

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"The cook gets stabbed and you go off on a revenge plot and you don't even think to call me!!! Idiot!!!" snapped Artemis, angrily from Minako's shoulder. Minako, for her part, looked straight ahead, her face blank.

"At least wait until you get inside before you start shouting," replied Kunzite, evenly. He picked the cat up from Minako's shoulder, cradled him in one arm, and shut the door behind Minako.

"If you missed me, you should just say so," continued Kunzite, scratching the cat behind on ear. Artemis shut an eye in slight pleasure, before shaking Kunzite's fingers off.

"It was peaceful in the house. It was wonderful, oh and Minako's upset at you," smirked the cat.

"I did what I had to," said Kunzite, half addressing the blond. Minako ignored him and made her way down the hall.

"I taught her that you know," said the cat proudly.

"You taught her the silent treatment?" drawled Kunzite.

"You don't have to make it sound like it's impossible!!! I too can give someone the cold shoulder!! I have more than one trick in my bag!!!" snapped the cat irately.

"So what's the real reason you came over here if it was so peaceful?" asked Kunzite with just a hint of irony.

"Ran out of food. Next time at least make sure there's enough to eat in the fridge if you're going to abandon me," growled the cat.

"There was enough to eat when I left last night. Go wait with Rei and Zoicite out in the balcony until Makoto gets here. She should be back soon. I'm sure she'll be more than happy to cook for you. And try not to talk to Zoicite, he's had enough shocks to last him a lifetime," ordered Kunzite, setting the cat down.

Artemis craned his neck to look up at him. "Meow," he said sarcastically.

"Perfect," drawled Kunzite and he headed towards the guest bedroom.

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Two Days Later

"I found another June one," announced Usagi, holding up a dated drawing. The girls all heaved a collected, disgusted sigh.

This was a collective war, a war they had not seen the likes of since they all decided as a group to clean Minako's apartment. So far they had cleaned half of Jadeite's offices, filing all of the dated drawings meticulously and trashing the random pieces of paper.

Makoto sneezed. "Augh. Dust. Kami-sama," she said, sneezing again.

"Hang in there," sighed Ami.

"I found one! It's so pretty but it isn't dated!" exclaimed Minako.

"Trash," proclaimed Rei mercilessly.

"No! Rei! Look!" cried out Usagi, trying to get her attention.

Rei spared the drawing a brief glance. "The eyes are slightly off," she said, before turning to stuff her trash bag.

"Where?" asked Makoto, craning her neck to look at the picture.

"Here," said Ami, holding out a pencil to serve as a straight line.

"It's such a tiny mistake! You can barely notice it!" exclaimed Makoto.

"I'll rescue it," said Usagi, tenderly cradling the picture of one of her favorite characters.

"How many rescues do you have?" asked Rei, cynically.

"At least forty," replied Ami.

"And where are you going to put all these 'rescues'?" drawled Rei.

"I don't know! And I don't care! I'm not throwing away his pretty pictures! I'm not like you Rei!" proclaimed Usagi.

"And what am I like exactly!?!" snapped Rei angrily.

Silence.

"Rei, can I talk to you for a second?" asked Makoto, breaking the silence.

"What?" snapped Rei irately.

"Outside. In private," emphasized Makoto.

The two women got up from the floor and walked out into the hallway.

"What is it?" asked Rei, as Makoto shut the door.

Grasping her arm, Makoto led her a little ways away from the doorway, where the two blondes, were without a doubt, trying to listen in to their conversation.

"What is wrong with you? You've been snapping at everyone for the past two days or so! What's gotten into you?" whispered Makoto harshly.

"Nothing," sighed Rei.

"Bullshit. Whatever it is, fix it. It's really starting to bug me. I understand that you're upset about Jadeite, but you don't have to take it out on everyone else. It's childish," hissed Makoto.

Angry at having been confronted, Rei averted her eyes.

"Rei, look at me," said Makoto, with a hint of steel in her voice.

They locked eyes. "You need some space. I'll leave you alone. But try and come back a little more civil, okay?" asked Makoto, a little more gently.

The sound of a door opening echoed in the hallway. Turning, they saw Mamoru jog towards them.

"He's awake!" he said, more excited than Rei had ever seen him before. She stood rooted to the spot as first Makoto relayed the message to the others, and then the commotion began.

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The first thing he noticed was the weight on his chest. His blue eyes cracked open as he blinked experimentally.

"Finally," said the cat, staring intently into his blue eyes. "You're awake."

Jadeite tried to speak but his dry throat wouldn't let him.

"Hang on. I hear the others coming," said cat, picking himself up and off Jadeite's chest.

Jadeite coughed roughly at the displacement of the weight, as the door practically flew off the hinges.

"Jadeite-san!!! We were so worried!! I'm so glad, you're okay!!" wailed Minako, throwing herself on his chest and giving him a bone cracking hug as best as she could. He groaned in pain and coughed some more.

"Alright!! That's enough! Mamoru-san, get him some water. Mina-chan, you get off him this instant, before you accomplish what we've worked so hard to prevent. Usagi-chan, out! Looking at me like that isn't going to work, I'm not your beloved Mamoru-san. Minako!" scolded Ami, immediately taking control.

"Alright, alright already. I'm leaving. Jadeite-san! You have to get better! Promise me!" cried out Minako dramatically clasping his hands to her cheek.

"Minako, we should go," said Makoto, trying to lead her friend out.

"He needs his rest!! Get out!!" yelled Ami flustered, as Kunzite and Zoicite rushed through the doorway. There was total silence and everyone turned to stare at Ami, who turned beet red.

"You heard her," said Mamoru, setting down the glass and gingerly lifting Jadiete to a sitting position. Jadeite paled at the sudden movement and everyone took an involuntary step forward.

"I understand your concern but Mamoru and I need to check him to make sure he's alright. Only then can you visit him. One by one mind you," commanded Ami, breathlessly. Reluctantly, they all filed out of the room.

"Artemis, you too," scolded Ami, turning a stern gaze towards the cat.

"Meow," drawled Artemis.

"Artemis," said Ami, firmly.

"Let him stay," whispered Jadeite, after gulping down the water. Artemis purred smugly and settled himself in Jadeite's lap.

"Alright, let's begin," said Mamoru, pulling out a duffel bag. He unzipped it and pulled out his stethoscope, while Ami ran a program on her blue computer. Mamoru distracted Jadeite by checking his pupils with a pen light; meanwhile it spat out some numbers and analyzed them.

"He's fine," she declared, her relief evident.

"Ou err ou?" Jadeite asked of Ami, as Mamoru shoved a tongue depressor down his throat.

"I was stabbed Mamoru-san, my throat's fine. And who is she?" asked Jadiete, slightly irritated.

"I'll let you take over, Ami-chan," replied Mamoru, packing his things.

"Oh, of course," replied Ami, handing the computer to Mamoru.

"Ami-chan?" asked Jadeite, as she took his pulse.

"Mizuno Ami," she replied, bowing slightly.

"Ah! That Ami. Mizuno-san, we finally meet. I apologize for the circumstances," said Jadeite, inclining his head in a form of a bow.

"It's no trouble at all," she replied, smiling. Jadeite eyed her critically and Ami flushed.

"Is there a problem?" she asked, flustered.

"You're too good for him. He's an idiot," announced Jadeite, making his judgment. Artemis sniggered.

"Ah, no. He's very good-natured and doesn't always mean it," she laughed.

"He's immature," said Jadiete.

"He's kind and can be immature sometimes. And I like him," flushed Ami, busying herself with writing down his pulse rate.

"How much do you weigh?" she asked him.

"I'll start letting them in," interrupted Mamoru, getting up and opening the door. He plucked Artemis off Jadiete's lap and took the cat with him.

"I weigh around 165. Well, if he treats you badly," began Jadiete, flushing slightly.

"If who treats who badly?" drawled Zoicite, from the doorway.

"I was just finishing up here," said Ami hurriedly.

"How's my health doctor?" asked Jadiete, ignoring his friend's question.

"You'll feel weak from the blood loss. Just take some iron tablets and you'll be fine," she said, quickly.

"I'm not going to treat her badly, she's my girlfriend," interrupted Zoicite rudely.

"I knew it! You're a notorious eavesdropper," snapped Jadeite.

"Zoicite, you really shouldn't upset him. He's been through a lot," began Ami.

"She's too good for you. If you hurt her, I'll beat you up," threatened Jadiete.

"Oh, ho, ho! Will you listen to this asshole! I dragged your bleeding carcass through the damn hallway and you tell me you'll beat me up!?! What about saying 'Thank you for saving my useless life, Zoicite?' I'll have you know that I'll never hurt her! I love her! And we're perfect for each other! And if you ever pull a stunt like that again, I'll beat the shit out of you!!" yelled Zoicite, furious.

"You-you love me?!?"squeaked Ami, bright red.

"Ah…we'll talk about it later," stuttered Zoicite, pushing her towards the door.

"I have to work tonight," said Ami, staring at the floor.

"What about tomorrow?" asked Zoicite, staring up at the ceiling.

"Next Saturday's when I'm free," she replied, backing up.

"That's fine. I'll call you!" he exclaimed, jerking forward as Ami shut the door in his face.

"A prime example of true love eh? That was an evasive maneuver if I ever saw one," drawled Jadeite smugly, from his mound of pillows.

"Shut! Up!" hissed Zoicite, furiously as a smirk grew on his ailing friend's face.

"I'm so glad you visited. I'm feeling loads better," he replied, settling deeper into his sheets.

"Good. That way no can say I took advantage of your weakened state, when I kill you," snapped Zoicite, sitting down in a chair near the bed. They eyed each other.

"This is weird. You aren't no get sappy on me are you?" asked Jadeite suspiciously.

"Of course not. But anyways, I was really worried you going to die," said Zoicite earnestly, setting all joking aside.

Jadeite looked away. "I wasn't going to die," he muttered, lying.

"Some weird stuff is going on. Mamoru-san came that night and he was in a tuxedo with a top hat, cane, and cape. It was the weirdest thing ever. The knife has gone missing too. I can't find it anywhere. More importantly though, how do you feel?" asked Zoicite.

"I feel weak like I have mononucleosis. And my side aches and but it's not like a shooting pain or throbbing," frowned Jadeite.

Zoicite glanced at the door and leaned in. "Is the wound bad?" he asked.

Jadeite lifted his shirt and slowly pulled off the taped gauze. "It's stings slightly," he said, as they both frowned at the stitches.

"It should be deeper, much deeper than that. We pulled a whole knife out of you. Do you remember what size it was?" asked Zoicite.

"No. Everything was a blur once I got in the car," replied Jadeite, prodding the stitching.

"None of this makes sense," frowned Zoicite.

"Did you say Mamoru-san was in a tuxedo?" asked Jadiete, frowning.

"Yes! And he won't tell me anything! He pretends like I'm crazy and I made the whole thing up! But I got him back. I actually need your help with it," smirked Zoicite. He pulled out his cell phone, and after some typing, logged into Mamoru's Facebook page.

"Wait a minute, is that me getting undressed?!?" exclaimed Jadiete, balking at Mamoru's profile picture.

"Shh! Keep it down. Yes it is. But you can't even see your face. I'm using it as blackmail, until he tells me what I want to know. So I need your creative genius. What do you say?" asked Zoicite, his green eyes glowing.

"Alright. What did you write for Interests?" asked Jadeite, leaning forward with barely suppressed eagerness.

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"I forcibly entered the house, taking the man by surprise. He had black hair, brown eyes, and spoke with a slight accent. I assumed I had knocked him out and proceeded up the stairs. I extracted Yagase-san from the bathroom where she had locked herself in. I positioned her behind me as we went down the stairs. We reached the foot of the stairs and I noted that he was no longer in the entryway. In the time that it took me to notice that he was no longer there, he grabbed me by the collar and stabbed me. While we struggled, Yagase-san had gone into the kitchen to grab, I think it was a frying pan. I managed to prevent him from stabbing me again and Yagase-san hit him hard enough to knock him unconsciousness. I had her call Zoicite again to let him know that I was in trouble and then I had her call you. After that I'm not sure what happened," explained Jadeite.

Silence.

"You were sloppy," said Kunzite, sitting in the chair at the foot of the bed.

"I apologize for the trouble," replied Jadeite, bowing as best as he could.

"You acted impulsively and that almost cost you your life," continued Kunzite.

Jadeite frowned. He could tell that Kunzite was angry, but…

"I'm sorry. I don't know else you want from me. I won't do it again," said Jadeite, slightly defensive.

Kunzite leaned forward his anger slightly smoldering in his eyes. He pitched his voice lower so that Jadiete leaned forward and paid attention.

"You're not going to pull anything like this ever again. I want you to promise me that. If something like this ever occurs you won't go in alone and you'll have a plan. Do I make myself clear?" asked Kunzite darkly.

"Why do you even care?" asked Jadeite, taken aback.

"I have no idea. Once I figure it out, I'll let you know," said Kunzite, getting up to leave.

"Do you think we'll ever remember?" queried Jadeite to Kunzite's retreating back.

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"You're so brave!! I would have run away, when I saw the knife!!" exclaimed Usagi her eyes wide with hero worship.

"I never actually saw the knife coming, otherwise I would have run too," smiled Jadeite.

"And you fought him off with a stab wound!!"

"Actually, Yagase-san knocked him out."

"She's so brave!!"

"Yes, she is," replied Jadeite.

"And you rescued her!!"

"Not really…" laughed Jadeite.

"And you don't even have any powers!!"

"Most people don't have powers, Usagi-san," he said, shooting her an odd look.

She blushed. "I should go now," she stammered, bowing.

"Please take care of yourself. You're a very brave and wonderful person, Jadeite-san," said Usagi, bowing again, deeper this time.

"You do the same," he replied, oddly touched as he watched her scamper out.

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"JJJJaaaadddiiiieeetttttteeeee-sssssaaaannnnn!!!" she sobbed.

"Kami-sama…" thought Jadeite.

"Please don't cry, Minako-san," he said, wincing as she let out another ear-splitting wail.

"I thought you were going to die!!!!" she cried out.

"I'm still alive," he replied.

She began to sob and snuffle noisily.

"Kami-sama…make her stop crying," thought Jadiete.

"I feel so so much much closer to you nnnow," she sobbed.

"…me too," replied Jadiete uncomfortably.

"There was so much bbblooddd," she stammered. Minako hiccupped.

"I'm sorry you had to see that," he said, frowning.

"It was so so grgrgroosss," she began, wailing once more.

"I had to clean it. I thought you had died," she sobbed wretchedly.

"I owe you one. I'll make you dinner," he said, trying to calm her.

"Really?!? Oh thank you so much!!" she cried, hugging him.

"Okay, you shouldn't squeeze me so hard, Minako-san. I'm kind of delicate, right now," he said, patting her back.

Minako released him and blew her nose.

"Are you okay now?" he asked her cautiously.

She nodded and gave him a watery, cheerful smile. "All better. Just…don't ever do anything like that again because I saw all that blood and I thought you had died and it was so gross and sad at the same time and Makoto and I had to clean it and I've never seen Kunzite so sad!! Ok?" she asked, starting to cry.

"Ok, ok, I promise. I'll never do anything like that again. Just stop crying ok? Please?" he begged her.

She nodded and wiped her tears. "Ok," she said, patting his knee and getting up to leave.

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He hadn't spoken to her for very long and knew very little about her. He watched as she arranged the bouquet of flowers on his dresser, noting how she took pleasure in adjusting the stems, until they were just so. She radiated a peaceful calm, which was welcome to him after the storm of tears that Minako had showered him with.

"How are you feeling?" she asked him, turning to look at him with her frank green eyes.

"Fine. Drained, I guess," he replied, unsure of what to say.

"You had a close shave. It's understandable. You're lucky," she said pleasantly, seating herself.

"So I've been told," he smiled.

"What made you do it?" she asked him, catching him off guard.

"I don't know. It was the right thing to do…my mother went through some things," he answered, hesitating to tell her so much.

She nodded. "That makes sense. So what are you going to do after you recover?" she asked him. Her manner was trustworthy and frank. Jadeite felt comfortable around Kino-san. He felt she was approachable and this made him feel that he could tell her most of what he was thinking.

"Are you hungry?" she asked him finally, getting up after a engaging in lengthy conversation.

"Not really," he admitted.

"You should still eat. I'll see if I can make you some soup," she replied, easily.

"Thank you for your visit," he said, watching her go.

She turned to him, as she opened the door. "Thank you for having me," she replied, shutting it behind her.

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Makoto walked out the door, letting Yuki know that she was next. She was struck by how Yuki entered the room cautiously. She made a mental note to get to know the traumatized woman better, as she headed down the hall and into the kitchen. Already, she had a recipe in mind for soup. He should have something light, maybe with noodles?

"There you are," she said, jolted out of her thoughts at the sight of Rei arranging dishes on a tray.

"Hey," Rei replied.

"Is that for…" trailed off Makoto.

"Yes, it's for Jadeite-san. You're welcome to have some," Rei answered her. Rei shook her bangs out of her face and turned to look at Makoto, her face flushed.

A slow smile spread across Makoto's face.

"What?" demanded Rei, blushing even harder.

"Nothing. Just you. Cooking. For a man. That's all," said Makoto lightly, walking into the kitchen.

"He hasn't eaten for two days. He's sick and it's just rice and some tea and some soup. It's not cooking, Mako-chan," frowned Rei.

"Ok," replied Makoto.

"All I did was boil some water. You can't call that cooking," said Rei, defensively.

Makoto grinned.

"What?" snapped Rei.

"Nothing. Just you. Boiling water. For a man," teased Makoto.

Rei rolled her eyes and flounced out of the kitchen, the dishes on the tray rattling. Makoto watched her go, continuing to smile. Curious, she walked over to stove and tasted the soup.

"Oh, oh. That is foul," she coughed, scrunching up her face in disgust.

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"Don't worry about the door. Just come in," he said, beckoning her forward. Yuki crept in looking guilty, her eyes downcast. She stood keeping the chair between her and the bed.

"Make yourself comfortable. Please," asked Jadeite gently.

She gingerly sat as if she would break the chair underneath her. Yuki's face was obscured, but Jadeite could see her clenching her fists tightly.

"I'm so sorry," she began softly.

"It's not your fault. I wish you had told me sooner," he replied carefully.

"It wasn't my place to do so," she answered him, her eyes fixed on her hands.

"Still, I want you to know that if anything like this ever happens again, I want you to come to me. I worry for your safety and not just because you're my employee," he said.

"Thank you," she said softly.

"No one should have to go through what you went through. Do you understand?" he continued quietly.

She nodded.

"I want you to stay with me. I don't want you to go back to him," he said, staring at her intently.

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She hadn't meant to eavesdrop, but she was frozen, unable to move.

"Still, I want you to know that if anything like this ever happens again, I want you to come to me. I worry for your safety and not just because you're my employee," she heard him say. Although she strained her ears, all she caught was "Do you understand?"

The woman's reply was too soft for Rei too catch.

"I want you to stay with me and live with me I don't want you to go back to him," he said, staring at her intently.

"Kami-sama," thought Rei, her heart drumming hard through her chest. She balanced the tray on one hand and briskly knocked.

"Come in," replied Jadiete and she walked in, tray in both hands.

"We'll continue this later," said Jadiete. Yuki rose, bowed, and quickly left, not looking at Rei. For some reason, Rei couldn't look at either of them and instead focused on the lamp.

"What's wrong? Why's your face like that?" he asked her.

"Nothing's wrong," snapped Rei, still standing with the tray.

"What are you carrying?" he asked her, curious.

"Food," she said, walking forward and plunking it down on his lap.

"I can see that for myself. What is it?" he said, annoyed by her behavior.

"Ginger tea, rice, and ginger soup," she replied, sitting down and inspecting her nails.

"Is it poisoned?" he asked her ironically.

"No!" she snapped, finally looking at him. He was extremely pale and thin, but he was alive. She looked away quickly.

"What's wrong with my face?"

"Nothing."

"Well, I'm glad you came," he replied.

Heart pounding, Rei looked up at his fingers as he busied himself, picking up his chopsticks. It seemed to the only part of him that hadn't changed.

"I need you to go to Hokkaido and oversee the filming of the climactic scene and talk to the director. Also I have a meeting tomorrow with my fan club. I can't walk, so I won't be able to make it. I can't cancel it either," he explained, as he ate the rice. He never saw the expression on her face.

"Fine, it's the least I can do since you're drawing the manga for me," she said, swallowing the lump in her throat.

"The rice is crunchy," he said neutrally, setting the bowl down.

"At least I made it for you. Don't be so ungrateful," she snapped.

He eyed her. "Why ginger?" he asked, cautiously swirling the contents of the bowl around.

"It's supposed to promote circulation of the blood. It's my grandfather's recipe. I called him and asked him for the directions on how to make it," said Rei, self-conscious.

He stared at her.

"What?" she asked, flushing.

"Did you poison this?" he asked her deadly serious.

"What?!? No!!" she exclaimed.

"Then why do you look guilty? Or are you embarrassed?" he asked her suspiciously.

"I didn't poison it!" she snapped angrily.

"Oh, ok," he replied, raising the bowl to his lips.

She watched him intently.

"Why are you staring at me?!" he said, setting the bowl down.

"Where else am I supposed to look? Would you like me to leave?!" she asked exasperated.

"No, you're fine," he replied, raising the bowl to his lips once more.

Jadeite took a large gulp of the soup and promptly spat it everywhere. It was like eating raw ginger. It burned. He began to cough violently, upending the tray and spilling the tea and food all over the blankets. His coughs wracked his entire frame and he clutched at his stab wound. Gasping for breath, he continued to cough.

Rei sat stunned at this development, her face flushing.

"Kami-sama, who gave you that recipe?" he asked finally, regaining his breath.

"My grandfather, he used to give it to my mother when she was ill," replied Rei, still stunned.

"She must be a strong woman, no one could survive that. Gah. That's stuff's so awful it could kill," shuddered Jadeite, making a face.

He jumped slightly as Rei abruptly got up from her chair.

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"You kissed her didn't you?" chortled Zoicite, strolling in Jadiete's room without so much as a knock.

"What?" asked Jadeite, looking up alarmed and in the process of cleaning himself up as best as he could.

Zoicite made himself comfortable in the vacated chair. "There's a huge uproar in Rei's room. Everyone's there," he grinned.

Jadeite frowned, confused. "I probably pissed her off," he replied, trying to place all the dishes back on the tray.

"Well, there's only one thing to do then," sighed Zoicite with a put upon air.

He got up from his chair and went over to Jadeite's writing desk. Finding what he looked for, Zoicite began to say what he was writing aloud.

"'Dearest Rei-chan'," began Zoicite.

"Rei-chan?!?" scowled Jadiete.

"Shut up, idiot. I know what I'm doing. You should let me fix this. I'm an expert. 'I apologize for my brusque behavior towards you. It seems it took the both of us by surprise,'" continued Zoicite, reading out loud.

"Whatever," muttered Jadeite, wincing as he set the tray on the vacated chair.

"'Thoughts of you have invaded my mind. I can't sleep at night. Your lips, your eyes, your hair…'" wrote Zoicite, before he was interrupted.

"What the hell are you writing?!?" exclaimed Jadeite, staring at him.

"A love letter, you idiot. It's about time you confessed your feelings for her. You should have done it this way first instead of kissing her all of sudden like that!"

"For the last time, I didn't—

"You're an idiot," interrupted Kunzite, striding in through the doorway.

"Ok, that's it. Both of you need to learn how to knock," snapped Jadiete.

"That's the least of your worries. You've just single-handedly managed to piss off every single female in your apartment. And they have a huge monopoly on cooking skills," replied Kunzite, picking up the tray and setting it on the floor. Kunzite sat and looked at Jadiete sternly.

"He kissed her! I knew it!" said Zoicite triumphantly.

"You kissed Rei? Kami-sama, Jadeite, as if what you did wasn't enough," snapped Kunzite.

"Look, I didn't kiss her! No one kissed her!" shouted Jadiete.

Silence.

"Liar. You're practically red in the face. Now then where was I. Let's see. Ah, yes. 'Your eyes, your hair, your whole being intoxicates me'," said Zoicite, writing furiously.

"What are you doing?" asked Kunzite.

"Doing Jadeite a favor. He'll thank me later. I'm writing a love letter for him. Even after everything, it's not too late," said Zoicite.

"I think he should apologize first," replied Kunzite.

"Kunzite, I'm not apologizing I didn't do anything wrong. Zoicite, if you give her that letter I'll kill you, seriously," said Jadiete, furious.

A knock came at the door.

"Come in," said Kunzite.

"This isn't your room!" hissed Jadeite.

"I'm taking over until you get this mess straightened out. Dinner's in three hours and I do not need a pissed off Kino Makoto making my meal," deadpanned Kunzite.

"You really need to apologize," said Mamoru, entering the room.

"I didn't do anything!" protested Jadiete.

"Rei's mother is dead," explained Mamoru.

"Shit," breathed Jadiete, burying his face in his hands.

Silence.

"Ok, ok. No one panic," said Zoicite, rising from his seat and holding up his hand for silence.

"I can handle this. I'm not going to let you down," said Zoicite, rifling around for another sheet of paper.

"Ok," breathed Zoicite, "'Dearest Rei, allow me to extended my condolences for the passing of your mother.' When did this happen Princeling?" asked Zoicite, pausing in his furious writing.

"When she was seven, what in the world are you doing Zoicite?" asked Mamoru, seating himself on the edge of Jadeite.

"I'm so confused. I don't even know anymore," said Zoicite, flinging down his pen, disgusted.

"Zoicite, you need to come to terms with the fact that Jadeite didn't kiss her. Jadiete, you need to apologize," said Kunzite.

"Give me one good reason why I should believe you," asked Zoicite suspiciously.

"Because if he had kissed her, she would have maimed him in some physical way," said Kunzite slowly and patiently.

"Ah, this is true. So you need to apologize for what it is you did. Something to do with Rei's mother right?" asked Zoicite, still trying to put the pieces together.

"What I need to do is eat. I can't do anything until I've had something in my stomach. One of you go to the freezer and heat up one of the blue containers," said Jadiete, uncovering his face.

"Oh, those were the first to go," said Mamoru.

"Chicken Teriyaki?" asked Jadiete.

"I had the last one this morning. It was amazing," said Zoicite, unhelpfully.

"Damn it, you guys! Is there anything left?" snapped Jadeite.

"You have like fifty people in your apartment! What, did you expect us to not eat while you were passed out for three days, Sleeping Beauty?" retorted Zoicite.

"Screw you and yes, I suppose it would have been too much to ask to leave something for me when I woke up! After all, it is my apartment and I was stabbed! Did you think that about that while you were stuffing yourself?!"

"Alright, alright, break it up you two," sighed Mamoru.

"I'm going to get some sake," chuckled Kunzite.

"I can't have that! I'm on painkillers, the last thing I need to do is apologize to her, drunk," snapped Jadeite.

"I would pay to see that," chortled Zoicite.

"Oh, no. It's not for you; it's for me. There's no helping you, you're screwed. At the very least I can be entertained while you make a fool of yourself. And there's no use in ordering food and waiting until after you eat to apologize. The longer you wait to apologize, the angrier she's going to be. You might as well do it on an empty stomach and pray that Makoto-san cooks for all of us. In fact, right after you apologize, propose a sit down meal as a peace offering," said Kunzite, getting up from his chair.

"I think there are eggs in the fridge. I can fry a few," offered Mamoru.

"What, you don't think she'll accept his apology?" asked Kunzite, pausing.

"She has a bit of a temper," said Mamoru, mildly.

"You know, I should really think about canceling my cable, you people are far more entertaining than television," smirked Zoicite.

End