I don't own these characters. Disney does.
A/N: takes place after "Honor Bound" ended.
Honor Bound: Tea Time
Director Betty, the head of the Shogun's secret police, the director of espionage, and well-respected noblewoman was doing something incredibly wrong. It was actually illegal, not that she would arrest herself of course. It was something she did at least once a month, but she knew she should actually do it more often. She really wished she could do it more often, but she always had so much work to do. She headed toward a certain teahouse as the sun set, highlighting the sun in wonderful orange.
The air was calm and still. She should have moved faster. She should have arrived, so the sunset could be viewed, appreciated, but she had to finish work. It would not matter, though. The important thing was arriving, so she continued on.
She had taken the walk so many times she probably could navigate the path with her eyes closed and still avoid being seen, whether she stuck to the rooftops or dipped through the alleyways. The path did not matter.
The odd thing for her was that she could not recall the first time she had made the journey. She usually remembered most things, but the first time she made the trip escaped her. Perhaps because it was so immaterial to things. What mattered was not when it had begun, but that it continued. What she could easily remember was the first time she met the lovely creature that she was on her way to see.
The mission outline had seemed simple enough to the seventeen-year-old Betty. She was a ninja, working in a section of the Shogun's secret police. She had gotten the job through her father and his acquaintance with the Shogun. Her father was close enough with the Shogun that she had been a childhood playmate of his daughter, whom she still knew, which had its good and bad points.
Her father was quite proud of her so far, which was actually something she was accustomed to. She excelled under his guidance in everything she did and he just beamed whenever she succeeded. He often told people she was his "favorite son"; he was joking, of course. Well, for the most part, he was joking.
It just so happened she followed her father's instructions and walked in his shadow better than her twin brother, which was why he told people she was his favorite son. Her brother was closer with their mother than their father. Their mother cuddled him when he failed while their father was a stern man. Her brother seemed to buckle under pressure while she typically thrived under it and her father loved that about her. Despite that fact, when it as all said and done, she knew her brother was going to inherit their clan from their father because that was going to be her mother's deepest desire and he would do anything to make her mother happy.
At the moment, Betty hid in the room of a teahouse, clinging to the ceiling. Her onyx eyes set sharply, scanning the room; she had both of her eyes. She waited for a man who had stolen some very important documents from the Shogun's own castle. She was impressed someone was so skilled to enter and exit the castle in one piece, but she was not going to fail her mission, which was to capture him and retrieve those papers at all cost.
She was told she would know the man when she laid eyes on him because he would have hands and feet like that of a monkey. That was rather disturbing thought, but at least they were features that definitely stood out. He had stolen a few documents referring to a mystical blade. She heard from a very reliable source that the thief was going to be in the teahouse and in this very room. All she had to do was wait.
She was quite focused and intent on her purpose, having been up there for close to an hour already. She was still just as ready to pounce when the shoji slid open as she had been an hour ago, though. She thought her target finally entering the room, but she soon found out otherwise.
A blond girl was callously flung into the area. The girl groaned as she hit the hardwood floor and a short, creepy looking man followed her in. The blond girl turned to him with a look of sheer fear and panic in her wide, blue eyes. The man slid the door closed and stormed deeper into the room after the girl. He appeared to have normal hands and feet, so he was no one important to the hidden occupant of the room.
"Please," the girl whimpered and crawled backwards. Tears gathered in her eyes as the man pounced.
Betty watched the scene from her space on the ceiling, conflicted with what she should do — assist the young lady or remain hidden to do her task. The girl struggled as the man was now on top of her, trying to yank her kimono open. She cried and kicked, but he seemed quite intent.
"No, please!" the girl begged while making it difficult for him to rip her top open, but he was winning out in the contest.
Betty's muscles flexed, dying to drop from her hiding place and save that poor blond, especially since it was clear that the man was going to win. He was a small fellow, but she was a tiny thing, too. Each sob from her mouth felt like a punch to the gut for the shinobi (ninja) and made her muscles itch to do something.
But, Betty had a job to do. She was supposed to wait for the thief to show up. He was going to come to this room, she had been promised that. So, she needed to hold her position, no matter what. She had to do her mission. So, hold it together.
Her thoughts were disrupted as the girl cried out again, louder and more desperate than before. The cry cut through her. Suddenly, her mind could not even recall she had a job to do, but she continued to hold her position. She stared with greater interest in what was happening below her, though. Fight him off, she begged in her head. She knew that was not going to happen, though.
The blond's kimono was now torn open and the little man groped her small breasts, delight dancing in his beady little eyes as he feasted on the sight and feel of the girl. Her tears now slid down her cheeks. She turned her head to see how much he was enjoying his own actions.
"Please, no. Don't," the girl still implied him, whimpering helpless as she tried to wiggle away.
The man was unmoved. The girl seemed to tire, struggling less and less now. Betty could not take her eyes off of her the spectacle now, knowing what was coming.
The mission was important, but her mind began begging questions of her. What if that was her friend? What if that was her sister? Would she stay in place or would she act? Well, that was someone's sister, friend, or daughter. It did not matter whose, just that she was important to someone somewhere and they would want her to help. Hell, that girl would want her to help. Betty could not in good conscience just stay up there and play the silent witness to such a heinous crime.
Betty dropped down from the ceiling like some avenging angel, complete with a look of righteous indignation. She wasted no time kicking the man off of the girl before he could achieve his ambition. He grunted as he slammed into the back wall and Betty stood in front of the girl as if to protect her from another assault, should he be foolish enough to try one.
"I think she said no," Betty commented in a dangerous tone she used against enemies to let them know they should be running.
He was not that smart and he stayed put while turning his eerie eyes toward her. Malicious intent was glazed over in his orbs as he looked over the sudden intruder. Betty stood her ground unfazed and ready. She had seen more disturbing and frightening sights in her own home.
"Who the hell are you?" the decidedly creepy man demanded with a growl in his voice.
"Who I am isn't any of your concern. Getting out of here alive should be the only thing on your mind," she replied coolly.
It would seem that he agreed with that and looked at the door he had closed moments ago. He then turned his attention back to her, as if wondering if she would allow him to make it that far. She really had no intention of doing that because she was rather offended by his actions.
He seemed to know he had insulted her and it would have been impossible for him to make it anywhere with her around. So, he pulled out three shuriken and let them fly. Betty dodged them with no problem and charged him. She hit him with a lightning fast combination of three hits, which knocked him unconscious. She then turned her attention to the girl.
"You okay?" Betty asked the slightly disheveled blond, who had fixed her torn kimono as best she could.
She just nodded mutely as a reply. Tears still poured down her face and she had the presence of mind to wipe them. Handling this girl and still accomplishing her mission would take finesse, which Betty liked to think she had.
"That's good. Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you," Betty tried to assure the girl, who was visibly shaking.
Betty walked over to the girl. The blond stepped back, obviously afraid. Unbeknownst to the ninja, the girl assumed she was a male and at the moment, she was not having the best of luck with the male gender. The short haircut, which was done to save Betty from getting caught in a fight by her hair, worked against her along with her padded black uniform.
"I'm not going to hurt you," the onyx-eyed female repeated.
The blond did not say anything, but she pointed behind Betty. The ninja turned around just in time to see more shuriken coming her way. She dodged those with ease. This man was not very skilled at accurately throwing the projectiles. Betty did not even wonder how he had recovered so quickly. She just charged him to take care of him again. In that clobbering, she was too distracted to react properly as the shoji slid open.
"Filthy shogunate inu (dog/spy)," a voice growled.
"Look out!" the blond hollered, hoping to help her savior.
Betty turned around just in time to find out that the new person in the room was much better at throwing shuriken than the man she was currently beating on. She took a throwing star to the shoulder, arm, chest, and to the eye. She merely hissed in pain while locking her good eye on her assailant.
The newcomer laughed before running off, thinking he had taken care of the government agent. While he did not assume the ninja dead, he was certain the sloppy shinobi would not be coming after him anyway. He had been spying on her while she was dealing with that little maiko and her pathetic client.
Betty had gotten a good look at his feet, which looked just like monkey paws. It dawned on her that she had just been ambushed by her own prey. Kuso (damn it!/shit!), she screamed in her mind and did not think twice about taking off after the thief, despite her injuries, especially the one to her eye.
The blond was left confused on what just happened. What she did know was that she had just been saved and her savior had probably just lost an eye from interfering. She was not sure if she should follow the ninja or if she should just get out of the room. It did not even take her a second to go after her savior. After all, the warrior might need help considering the injuries "he" had just sustained.
-*-(End of flashback)-*-
Vivian prepared a room for when Betty arrived. She had dinner ready along with some tea and some senbei (rice crackers) since Betty usually enjoyed having those with her tea. She hoped they would be able to get to the dinner because there was always a chance Betty would have to run off, which was why she had the tea and senbei set out first. The warrior would at least make the attempt to finish her tea and the crackers before running off if she had to do so.
"But, I hope she stays," Vivian sighed. It had been far too long.
Vivian dressed in one of her best formal kimonos, even though only one person would see it. It just so happened the one person who would see it was the only person that she required to see her in it. The lovely, and quite expensive, attire had actually been given to her as a gift by this person. It was made of a fine silk and she wore it well, making it look just as expensive as it was.
"Maybe once she sees me in this, it'll help convince her to stay for a while," Vivian considered, running a finger over the pink sleeve of her kimono.
She always liked to have everything perfect for the woman who had saved her so many years ago. The woman whom she had assumed was a man for quite a while from when they had first met until she learned otherwise. Remembering such a thing actually made her blush from embarrassment.
She supposed it was a good thing she had thought Betty was a boy the first time they met. Had she known Betty was a female, it might have been possible she would not feel the way that she did now about the brunette. But, then again, maybe there was no stopping the emotions she held for the one-eyed warrior. Especially since she thought it was her fault Betty had lost that eye because the ninja had been protecting her instead of doing her job. The fact that Betty had put herself in harm's way for her, had saved her, and protected her might have been all she needed for her feelings to bloom into what they were now.
She often thought about how different things would have been if Betty had just stayed hiding on the ceiling that fateful night. She would have more than likely been ravished, which was a fate she was supposed to accept anyway. Her geisha mother had sold her virginity to that man… Phen. His name in her mind caused her to shudder in disgust.
She could not imagine how she would have been if he had done what he had paid for. Part of her considered she might not have been able to go on living if he had gotten his way. She was thankful for Betty, even though she often felt so much guilt over Betty's eye, not to mention the other injuries she suffered that night.
"She's so selfless, even now," Vivian smiled a little, even though her selflessness was part of the problem with them not seeing each other often.
Vivian was not an athlete by far, but she was fifteen and had strong, youthful legs. So, she was able to keep up, as best anyone could in a long kimono, with the ninja who saved her and whoever it was that injured the kindly shinobi. She had to sneak out of the teahouse to keep up, but the pair made getting out easy by showing her the way, as they also tried to keep a low profile as well. She almost lost them in the dark as they took to fighting on rooftops while continuing to flee.
The fighting was fast pace, which put her ninja savior at a disadvantage since "he" was already injured. Vivian continued to follow them, thinking she might be able to be of some help to her savior. She was unable to see most of the battle, but soon found out who was winning. She watched in horror as her rescuer was dropped from the roof and landed on a pile of garbage. Vivian rushed to the ninja's side.
"Are you all right?" the blond inquired in a worried voice.
Betty did not respond and tackled Vivian back, saving the apprentice geisha for the second time that night. It turned out her opponent had let loose some more shuriken, which the blond had not seen coming. Vivian ended up on her butt while Betty immediately turned around to return fire with some kunai. The thief was caught in the air, trying to come down on them, but he made himself an easy target for her to hit, even with one eye.
The thief let out a screech like a monkey as her throwing knives ripped into him. He landed, blood dripping onto the ground, and Betty pulled her short sword while standing in front of Vivian. Betty looked rather fierce, even with the blood dripping from her eye like a thick crimson tear. There glare in her remaining eye was haunting and her muscles were tight, ready to spring into action at any moment. Her shoulders rose and fell as she panted and waited for her opponent to make a move. She appeared almost animalistic as she stood her ground, seemingly to protect the blond.
"Just hand over the scroll, youngster," the thief said in a menacing, but dignified tone. He held out his hand-paw.
"I stole it fair and square," Betty remarked with a demonic smirk. She had lifted the documents off of him when they went back and forth on the rooftops, but that was only half of her mission. She had to bring him in, dead or alive. "Now give up," she ordered in a dead serious tone. If he did not surrender, she had no problem with dragging in his half-monkey corpse.
"Give it back," he commanded, hand still out.
Betty did not respond. She was not in a talkative mood anymore. She wanted the mission over before she ended up dying from blood loss or passing out from the pain that she currently blocked from her mind as best she could. She eyed the thief carefully, waiting to see what he wanted to do. He seemed to make his choice, attacking her because she appeared to be on her last leg. He was about to be unpleasantly surprised.
The thief went at Betty and she defended against him better than most. He hated to think of how she could counter him if she was totally healthy. She glanced back at Vivian to make sure she was all right. She could not help wondering why the girl was there, but she did not have the time to ask at the moment. She just knew that if she and that girl were going to make it out of the alleyway alive, she needed to be at the top of her game. So, she fought the thief with the same furiousness as a wounded animal would fight a predator.
Before long, it was clear the thief needed to retreat or he would regret it. The monkey man took off and Betty collapsed on the hard, dirt ground when he was out of sight. Her breathing was ragged as she painted the street with her scarlet life force from several wounds. Vivian ran to the ninja's side in a flash once again.
"Senshi-sama (warrior), are you all right?" Vivian practically cried. Her concern made her voice close to shrill. She put her hands out, wanting to touch the warrior, hold onto her savior, but she was frightened of doing more damage.
The brunette coughed. "Fine. You?" I'm in so much goddamn trouble, she thought. She had failed her mission since the thief had escaped. Her captain and her father were going to be extremely disappointed in her. She could already feel the disapproval and shame burned her flesh.
"Fine, of course. Let me help," Vivian offered. Before Betty could protest, the blond beauty tore at her kimono to make a bandage for Betty's wounds. She quickly wrapped some cloth around Betty's injured eye.
"Arigato (thanks)," the ninja whispered.
A tiny smile tried to work its way onto Betty's face. She was actually unaccustomed to getting help from strangers and she was not sure how she felt about it. She felt a little warm from it and looking into those kind blue eyes did not help. She pulled away.
"I've got to go," she said hastily and then she dashed off to at least return the stolen texts. She just left Vivian in the middle of the dark street on her own.
-*-(End of flashback)-*-
"Anata (darling)*," Vivian said with a bright smile as Betty entered the room.
It was like all the treasure of the world was just bestowed on the blond. She called Betty "anata" as a joke and also as a term of endearment. It was mostly a throwback to when she assumed the older female was a man.
"Nikko-chan (sunshine)," Betty replied with a small smile of her own. It was about as happy as the hard-worked warrior would ever look and her current companion knew that.
Vivian wasted no time going up to Betty and embracing her tightly. It was as if all was right in the world with Betty in her arms. Oh, how I've missed her, Vivian thought. The idea was conveyed through her hug.
Betty felt the same about the sun-kissed blond in her arms as she returned the embrace. A month was much too long to be apart, even though neither of them would say that aloud. Vivian would chastise the brunette over it, though. It was almost like their little routine and while Betty disliked being reprimanded it, it was nice to have a routine with someone. It was nice that someone cared and desired to see her.
"Where have you been?" Vivian demanded as she broke the embrace, pulling away from the warrior. She gave Betty a stern look.
"There was a smuggling ring that required my attention," Betty replied honestly, even though she knew that would be taken as an excuse and nothing else. Still, she had to say something or things would just be worse.
Vivian threw her hands up. "More work. You're just going to work yourself to death. Work, work, work, work. What about me?" Vivian pointed to herself for a moment and she reached into her kimono sleeve.
"I'm here now," Betty pointed out, knowing what was coming. She braced herself.
"Unacceptable!" the blond huffed as she pulled out her fan. She slapped Betty in the forehead with it, striking the older female soundly enough for it to echo throughout the room.
"Ow!" the one-eyed woman complained as she put her hand to the now-red space in the center of her forehead.
"Now, sit down," Vivian commanded, as if she was angry. They both knew that it was just a front.
Betty did not argue or protest. She let Vivian be forceful with her, maybe because subconsciously she felt like she needed someone to be stern with her. Vivian was in agreement, someone did have to be severe with Betty or she would work herself to death as far as the blond was concerned. Betty did not know what was best for her in Vivian's opinion and she was there to make sure Betty stopped, took a breath, and enjoyed life a bit. She was there for Betty to see there was more to life than her work and battle.
She also wanted Betty to know there was someone who cared about her just for her. It was not about what Betty could do for Vivian. Vivian just liked being around Betty, who knew that.
Betty strolled over to the table that Vivian set up. She saw the tea out, but she knew not to touch anything. She was expected to just sit around now that she was in Vivian's presence. If she touched anything, she would get smacked with a fan again and it actually hurt a lot more than most people would think. Vivian wielded her fan just as well as a samurai wielded a katana.
Vivian hurried, as best she could in a long kimono, to the other side of the table. There was no real formality between them when they were alone, aside from the fact that Vivian was to do everything while Betty was expected to lounge around. So, Vivian just poured the tea, but she did not serve it. Betty could guess what the hold up was.
"I made this little guy just for when you were going to visit," Vivian said as she sat a new chahakobi-ningyou (mechanical tea-serving dolls) on the table.
Betty smiled in an amused manner as she got a look at the new doll the blond had created. The doll was dressed in a little violet kimono with face paint like a maiko. It was rather adorable, like many of the little chahakobi-ningyou that Vivian made, even though she had been known to create some frightening little dolls when the mood struck her. Sometimes, she even used them to play pranks on her geisha or on Betty.
"I see you've kept busy," Betty commented.
"Well, I must do something with my hands during the nights you leave me alone," Vivian replied.
Betty could feel a hot blush on her cheeks, but she kept her cool. "We both know my presence has never once stopped you from tinkering."
Blue eyes rolled, but Vivian gave her a little smile. "You like my tinkering."
Betty could not deny that. Vivian was very into mechanics, despite her current vocation. She was very brilliant point blank, but especially in that area and Betty had tried many times in the past to get Vivian to leave the geisha world to work with her. Vivian would give her a coy smile and refuse with false shyness and modesty, as if she knew Betty thought that was cute.
"You like my mind," Vivian continued on.
"Well, it has its uses," Betty teased.
The chocolate-haired warrior had actually brought Vivian one of the dolls that she had confiscated from Drakken in his failed coup. She made sure Vivian understood there were no strings attached to it. It was not brought because she wanted Vivian to tell her what it did or anything. It was just something for Vivian to play with and the blond thoroughly enjoyed the little toy, easily figuring out how it worked, taking it apart, rebuilding it, and all sorts of other things. Betty was just pleased Vivian had fun with it, even though the blond made sure not to explain how the doll worked because she thought it would just make Betty run off and go do some more work.
"Is this the only thing you've worked on recently?" Betty asked, reaching out just to touch the tea-serving doll.
"It was enough." This let Betty know Vivian was not particularly stressed lately, which was good.
Vivian put a cup on the chahakobi-ningyou's tray and it waddled over to Betty. Betty smiled even though she knew that would happen. She reached for the cup, but was halted.
"Wait one moment, anata," Vivian said.
The one-eyed warrior did as she was ordered and was shocked as the doll bowed to her and presented her the cup. She could not help laughing once she got over her surprise. Vivian smiled fondly, pleased to hear such a delighted sound coming from brunette. She recalled the first time she had ever heard Betty laugh and even then, it sounded like heavenly music to her.
Vivian could not get the ninja off of her mind after she returned to the teahouse she was bound to. Not only had that shinobi saved her from being ravished, but also stood to protect her from that strange enemy. Now, just the thought the ninja made her blush and caused a warm feeling to spread through her. She could not figure out why that was, but she considered it was because she was pleased she had not been harmed thanks to the ninja's actions. She just knew she wanted to see the warrior once more, speak with the warrior once more, thank "him" for all "he" had done, and she was going to get her way, despite her circumstances.
"I will not let this teahouse control me," she muttered to herself. The consequences be damned.
Vivian was far from stupid. In fact, she was often told she was too smart for her own good. So, it was very easy for her to figure out a way out of the teahouse and she was confident she would be able to make her way out of the district, too. The hardest thing she had to do was find out who that ninja was and where she would be able to find the warrior, but she was in the best place for gathering information and her mind was focused on that task.
"Shut up," young Betty snorted in annoyance for what seemed like the umpteenth time from her space in the corner of her room on her futon. She was covered in bandages, even wrapped around her head because of her wounded eye. Her so-called friend was getting on her nerves with all of the laughing and giggling at her expense.
"I can't believe it. You lost your eye because of a hot blond. Where the hell are your priorities?" a fourteen-year-old Shego inquired, still getting in a few chuckles.
Shego had already been a pale green for two years now and was pretty comfortable with it, at least when she was in Betty's company. Her jet-black hair was long and loose, like a waterfall of ink, which was the way she preferred it. It gave her something to hide behind when people stared at her thanks to her mint skin color. She was rather slender, almost lanky, so her kimono hung off of her a bit awkwardly. She hoped she would fill out sometime soon.
"I couldn't just let her get raped," Betty argued in a huff. It was nothing about falling for a "hot blond" as Shego continued to insist. She was just helping a female in need, so she would not have to live with the trauma of being violated and she would not have to live with the fact that she could have done something, but had chosen not to. She did not need that kind of guilt, after all.
"You say that now, but in your head, you know why you did what you did. She was cute and you always fall for a cute face," Shego teased with a smug look on her face.
Betty scoffed in disbelief. "You were never cute," she muttered, quite seriously.
Shego glanced away, quietly indignant thanks to that insult. Three years ago such words would have rolled right off of her, but now that she was green and sporting some claws, any little thing about her appearance could set off her now literally fiery temper. Not too long ago, she probably would have tackled Betty for her words and tried to tear her throat out with her bare hands, but she was getting back into their old flow of taunting each other in whatever way that came to mind. Besides, physically fighting with an injured Betty held little appeal to her.
Before Shego could think of a good come back, they both heard noise coming from down the hall. Betty looked ready to get up, thinking her stupid husband had come home. He was supposed to be away, visiting relatives or something. She had never been too keen on listening to him when he was talking, or mumbling as she looked at it, so she was not quite sure why he had left. Shego halted her with a hand motion and stood up.
"I'll go see what's going on. You just lay there and be stupid over a pair of baby blue eyes," Shego remarked.
"I'm never telling you anything again," Betty grumbled. She knew explaining her failed mission to Shego, who liked to live ninja missions vicariously through her because her father would not allow her out on such assignments until she was fifteen, was going to be a big mistake. She had just assumed it would take sometime to come back and bite her in the ass. Shego just could not get over the fact that the story involved a woman that Betty described quite readily and she remembered more about the girl than the thief surprisingly enough.
Shego waved her friend off and walked to the door. She poked her out to see what was going on and was rather surprised to see a blond girl struggling with some guards. It seems Betty-kun wasn't the only one left impressed with the mission, she thought. Shego could not help laughing.
"Hey, you guys can let her go," Shego called down to the guards.
The guards knew better than to argue with the green-skinned girl. She stepped back into the room before the intruder could see who had just helped her. The pale female turned to her friend with a wicked smirk on her face.
"What? Who's out there?" Betty inquired, a bit nervous because of the expression. She thought it might be her father coming to admonish her for failing her mission. She knew he was well aware of her failure, even though she had not debriefed him yet, since he knew everything.
"Your eye," Shego answered with a laugh before escaping the room out of a secret passageway. She thought the girls could use sometime alone.
Betty was confused for a few seconds before she caught Shego's meaning. She turned to the door just as Vivian stepped in. She was surprised by the blond's presence and it would have shown on her face if most of her face was not covered in bandages. She got the chance to fix her expression as Vivian crouched down to slide the door shut.
"Senshi-sama," Vivian said, bowing down on her hands and knees to the bed-ridden warrior.
"What are you doing here?" Betty asked curiously, fighting off a smile. Not that I'm upset over your presence. She was glad to see the girl was all right, or that was what she told herself to avoid examining why her heart felt like it might skip a beat.
"Um…" Vivian, usually quite elegant with words thanks to her line of work she, found herself unable to explain herself for a moment.
Vivian was pleased to see the warrior was all right, in a manner of speaking. The bandages and bed-rest let her know the ninja had probably seen better days. She heard some things suggesting how fine a warrior this ninja was and it hurt to know she was the reason the warrior was laid up.
"I was hoping to see you were all right and to thank you for saving me the other night, senshi-sama," Vivian finally answered, making sure to remained bowed in the presence of her savior.
"It was no problem," Betty tried to assure her in a rather nonchalant voice. She did not do what she did for thanks, after all. She did it because it was right.
"Forgive me if this is very forward of me," Vivian said as it just dawned on her that she was intruding on her savior's life. She really just needed to see the warrior again. And as she was doing that, her heart began to race, especially when she looked up at the shinobi while keeping her head bowed.
"It is forward of you, but I don't mind it. You don't have to bow like that either. It's all right," Betty informed the maiko.
"I'd prefer it, senshi-sama," Vivian replied and that earned a lighthearted laugh from her savior. She was not sure why the warrior laughed at her, but she knew she liked the sound. Her heart sped up just a little more and she stole another glance at her savior.
-*-(End of flashback)-*-
"Anata," Vivian said, breaking the silence they currently enjoyed. Betty sipped her tea and ate senbei in two bites. Dining manners did not seem to be high on her priority list when she was with Vivian, which was fine. Vivian wanted her to let go of her burdens and responsibilities.
"Hmm?" the one-eyed woman replied.
"Whatever happened between you and that weird man you fought on the day we met?" Vivian asked. She had always hoped Betty got revenge against him for taking her eye.
"I never ran into him again, but surprisingly enough, Shego and Kim-dono met up with him when they were coming back to Edo. They said he was oppressing the people working on his land. I'm not sure what happened to him, though. I think Shego said something about his land being confiscated, but I don't really remember because she was rather flippant while explaining it and only talked about it briefly. I don't think he was punished the way she wanted him to be or the way I wanted for that matter. I mean, his crimes really don't mean much to the Shogun," Betty explained.
Vivian's brow wrinkled slightly. "Why not? Weren't you chasing him because of some crime?"
"It was against the late shogun. He had stolen something from the castle, but it wasn't something very important to this shogun, so I don't think he cares about it. Besides, the sword he was after is with its proper owner now," Betty replied.
"I don't understand. Why wouldn't he want to punish someone who stole from his father?" Vivian's face was slightly scrunched up as she tried to process this. She did not know much about the shogun beyond what Betty saw fit to share with her, but the man made very little sense to her.
"I'm not sure. I don't understand this shogun much of the time. I'm just trying to do my duty, what was entrusted to me by the late shogun," Betty replied with a bit a shrug. She would do her job to the best of her ability because a great man, the previous shogun, had given it to her before he died. He had trusted her, a fairly young woman at the time, with such a great honor and she would not let him down. Nor would she disgrace her name or her family.
"You should retire," Vivian suggested in her usual, casual tone. Like it was something that hardly mattered or just came to her, even though it was something she deeply desired. This was something she had proposed many times through the years. She wished Betty would retire and then she could have the one-eyed woman all to herself.
"You should move in with me," Betty countered, just as causally. To her, it would actually make more sense than her retiring already.
Having Vivian there would certainly make Betty go home a lot more often. It would make home feel more like a home since it was actually her late husband's house. Well, it was supposed to be his anyway, but he probably would have debated that fact if he were alive. It never felt like she belonged there, which was one of the reasons she tried her best not to be there, even though the servants tried their best to get her there to slow down and take care of herself. Many of those servants had come with her from her home when she married her husband to make sure she was comfortable there. Her servants were a rather loyal lot, adoring her as a kind, compassionate mistress.
Vivian looked away. She used to dream about living in that large manor back when she was younger. She would imagine she would wake up in her love's arms and they would do whatever it was that lovers did; she really had not figured out what it was they would do back then. It did not really matter to her what they would do as long as she could be with the older female all the time. Now, she could only turn the brunette down whenever the subject was brought up and keep dreaming.
"I would love to…" Vivian spoke in a low voice before she trailed off.
"But the girls, right?" Betty asked because she knew the line. She had heard it often enough, after all.
"They're my responsibility," Vivian pointed out. "They still need me."
"You could give the teahouse to one of them, like what happened with you," Betty countered, even though she understood where her companion was coming from for the most part. She just wished she could have Vivian to herself in some way.
"Not yet," Vivian answered. She had inherited the teahouse from her second geisha mother. She had been given to the woman because her first geisha mother owed the second a large debt. Vivian seemed to be the equivalent of that debt, which she was happy for because her second mother was much kinder than the first and they had easily grown to adore each other. When she passed on, Vivian felt like she had lost her real mother.
"When?" Betty asked, not pressing the issue. She was just curious about it. She shoved another senbei into her mouth after making the inquiry.
"Soon enough, anata. I won't keep you waiting much longer," Vivian promised. She knew it made no sense for her to pester and pressure Betty about seeing her more often, but not make any moves her own to be closer to the warrior.
"Then I won't keep you waiting much longer either," Betty replied. If Vivian could walk away from her world, then she would do the same. They could hopefully make such sacrifices for each other. It would at least end the ache they felt when longing for each other, yet they both seemed to be hesitating in doing the things they vowed to do.
"What would we do then?" Vivian asked. She worried, feared really, they would continue this song and dance forever. They would be reincarnated and forced to live the whole disaster for all eternity.
"What we do now, but more often," Betty answered what seemed to be obvious to her.
Vivian smiled softly to herself. She would like that. She wondered how long it would take them to do such things. They had been pitching each other the lines for more than a year now and neither seemed closer to keeping the promises, yet they never doubted each other. They did doubt themselves sometimes.
Vivian often wondered which of her geisha should entrust the teahouse to. Bonnie was at the top of her list, but the girl seemed to care more about herself than the others she worked with. Vivian wanted someone who would take care of everyone and everything with appreciation and tenderness and she doubted Bonnie would be able to do such a thing. She needed to be careful with her decision, which was why she had not been able to make one yet and she was not really sure when she would.
The very thought put guilt in Vivian's heart. If she never made a decision, then she had basically been stringing Betty along and Betty deserved so much better than that. Betty deserved her all and she wanted to give that to Betty, but there was always something. Sighing, she looked at Betty. She's worth it. She's worth it all and I want to give her everything.
Betty worried her job would be given away to someone less than capable if she retired. She did not trust the Shogun to make a proper decision in the replacing her because he was just too idealistic. He was not totally aware of what went into doing her job and he did not seem interested in finding out, so she doubted he would be able to give it to someone who would do it well.
She would like to suggest her nephew for the job, but he was too narrow-minded and uncompromising for it in her opinion. She knew he would never enlist help if it were necessary because he had the opinion of himself that he could take care of everything. She was not sure who would be able to do her job as well as she did, and she did do it well, so she was not sure if she would ever be able to come up with a suggestion for when she did step down.
But, she did want to step down and Vivian was the only reason for it. She wanted to be there for Vivian, with Vivian. She did not want to die regretting not properly being with the blond. She wanted a chance to truly show Vivian how much she meant to Betty.
"Nikko-chan…" Betty sighed, but she was not sure what she wanted to say.
Vivian just smiled at her, like she read Betty's mind. The simple expression settled things inside of Betty, as it typically did. Those warm blue eyes on her never failed to make the world right. This was why she had to do right by Vivian eventually. One day it had to stop being all talk.
The pair sat quietly again. Vivian watched Betty, who focused on her tea and senbei. The blond continued to smile softly. She sighed, sounding very much like a girl in love. It was a sound that she often made in Betty's presence and things had been like that since she had made the acquaintance of the warrior.
Vivian had taken to sneaking out to visit with Betty while the ninja was stuck in bed due to her extensive injuries. Vivian was actually enjoying herself beyond just being able to be with her savior, liking an excuse to get out and also an excuse to take care of her savior. Yes, she got to take care of the shinobi. The very idea always made her giggle a little.
The warrior was not allowed out of bed and a few strong-willed servants around the house made sure Betty did not get up. They also looked the other way when Vivian showed up with soups and other things for the ailing ninja. The servants thought it was good that Betty made a friend beyond Shego because it seemed like Betty would just work herself to death if she were given the chance. They also figured Shego would happily help her do such a thing if given the chance, be it through martial arts training or encouraging her to go on more missions.
Vivian, however, was a sweet, proper girl in the servants' opinions and she was clearly intent on making certain Betty did not exhaust herself or harm herself any further. They probably would have changed their mind if they knew Vivian was a training geisha, but they assumed she was just a very proper noblewoman, which was rare for them to see with Betty and Shego.
Throughout the time Vivian got to take care of Betty, over a month, she still assumed the warrior was male. She had not learned Betty's first name, taking to calling her "Director-sama" as they got to know each other better; Director was as far as Vivian had allowed Betty to introduce herself after Vivian offered up her name. Even though the time they spoke to each other, which was very often for a pair that really did not have much in common, Vivian just thought her savior had an odd voice, which she worked passed.
Vivian figured an abnormal voice was nothing compared to the way she felt so good just being around such a kind, thoughtful, intelligent person. The warrior had not said a word about her status while Vivian was around and she had not said anything about Vivian's status, or lack there of, either. Betty spoke to Vivian like an equal, also like someone that she enjoyed being around.
"Director-sama, I hope you feel better. I decided to bring you some sweets today," Vivian announced as she entered the room.
Betty turned at the sound of Vivian's voice and fought down a smile. Her heart jumped every time she heard Vivian's footsteps in the hall coming toward her. And, yes, she had learned Vivian's footsteps. She found she enjoyed Vivian's company, which was rare. She usually did not like people in general.
For Betty, this friendship, as unlikely as it was, changed something in her. It should have irked her to know end that Vivian wanted to take care of her; something she barely let her servants do and most of them had been with her since she was a little girl. But, there was just something about that smile and those eyes.
Plus, it was pleasing to have company that was not always huffing about something, someone that did not make her scream in frustration every few minutes. Yes, she was a bit bothered with being taken care of, but she supposed she could let that go since her servants were not even letting her out of bed after her father showed up. Apparently, he had a long talk with them about making sure she healed totally and the servants were in agreement, so she was not going anywhere for a while.
Betty and Vivian shared a lot of discourse through their time together, which was something else that allowed them to grow closer. Talking with Vivian got Betty thinking about things she generally did not think about because she was used to talking with Shego. She and Shego usually talked combat, history, battle strategy, and things of that nature. With Vivian, she talked almost everything under the sun that did not have to do with fighting. It was quite enjoyable.
"What makes you think I like sweets?" Betty replied, teasing a bit.
Vivian just smiled and Betty's heart thumped in her chest. "Everyone likes sweets, Director-sama." She said this like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Betty grunted. It was a sound Vivian was accustomed to at this point. Her savior made a lot of noises, usually showing displeasure. It was kind of cute.
For Vivian, being around Betty was a change from what she was used, even though it was something similar to what she did every day. The difference between sitting and speaking with the ninja and sitting and speaking with her clients was quite simple, even though it did not register to her conscious mind. It was just that the shinobi treated her as a friend and equal. She felt welcomed and wanted just for being herself and not because someone had paid to spend time with her. She had never met anyone like the warrior and she subconsciously sighed because of that. It was a content, light sound.
"Everyone you say? I suppose I shouldn't contradict everyone then," Betty remarked lightly.
This made Vivian smile. She unwrapped her treats and proceeded to feed Betty small pieces of each. Betty barely protested, acting like she would not open her mouth at first, but all Vivian had to do was press a treat to Betty's lips and she nibbled the first sample. Vivian smiled and continued on.
Vivian often hoped things would always be as they were between her and the ninja, even though she knew things would change somewhat when the warrior was completely healed. She doubted she would get away with feeding the ninja, but everything else was nice and she wanted things to remain that way. She could not really ask for more, except maybe when the warrior was totally well, "he" would come visit her.
Will things be the same when he gets well? Vivian doubted it because the circumstances would be different, like the ninja would have to pay to see her. She supposed she was just going to have to continue to sneak out and with luck things would remain the same between them that way.
Betty had expressed some concern with Vivian coming to visit her. She knew the blond would get into a lot of trouble if it was discovered that she was leaving the pleasure district of Edo. Her worry only made Vivian want to come out more often because she was unaccustomed to someone showing genuine concern for her.
"Director-sama," Vivian said, breaking the silence they enjoyed as well as holding off on giving Betty the next snack. They had come to like being around each other without any words having to pass between them. There was a peaceful feeling that was brought in by the comfortable quiet.
"Yes?" Betty replied, wiping her mouth of any crumbs. She did not want to seem like a slob in front of Vivian.
Vivian squirmed a little and glanced away. Betty waited patiently, knowing Vivian would get to what she needed to say if given the time. She took a moment to just bask in the sight of Vivian, who now hid behind her sun-colored hair as she had a habit of doing. Vivian often sat with Betty with her head down, usually to hide a blush that seemed to be permanently marked on her face when she was with the ninja. Betty often had to hold back the urge to reach out and run her fingers through that tempting golden mane, betting that it felt like silk, but resisting finding out.
"Do you suppose we will sit like this when you're well?" Vivian inquired in a small voice. She was frightened of the answer.
"Well, I'll probably be a bit busy when I get better," Betty answered honestly. She had not been reprimanded for her failure to the point where she was never going to get another mission, but she had been informed she would have to work her way back up to the level of trust her squad leader had in her with tough assignments.
Vivian whimpered a bit, but made sure to swallow it down. She knew the warrior had a job to do, so she should expect things to change, but she disliked that. She wanted to be able to sit with the onyx-eyed shinobi every day like they did now. She just wanted to be in the presence of her savior.
"I understand," Vivian whispered, unable to talk any louder because of the dull ache coursing through her.
Betty then said something that brightened her visitor completely. "But, I'll be able to sneak to see you once I get better rather than you having to come here all the time. I wouldn't want you to get in trouble."
Vivian could not help grinning because of the concern for her that was expressed in the statement and the fact that the warrior would come to see her, showing that her savior had an interest in her beyond her acting as a nurse. She was happy she had her head down because she did not want the warrior to think she was a silly girl.
Betty noticed the expression that her guest wore and she actually smiled because of it. Yes, she definitely would make it a point to visit Vivian once she got better. Why would she deny herself such pleasant company, after all? Such a thing would have been downright foolish in her opinion.
"So, how about more sweets?" Betty requested. She would also be foolish to turn down having sweets fed to her.
"I thought you didn't like sweets," Vivian countered.
"I think you might be changing my mind." With that said, there was another treat at her lips.
-*-(End of flashback)-*-
"You know, you visited me so much more in the beginning of things, especially when I got here," Vivian commented. By "here," she meant the second teahouse she worked at and currently owned.
"It wasn't the same," Betty replied. Back then, she was just a ninja. Now, she was in charge of a police force and also in charge of espionage. She had a full plate most of the time.
"I suppose…" Vivian trailed off. She was well aware that Betty had had more free time back then. She was not as responsible for as many things back then. Still, Vivian wished that her savior would make more time for her and that showed in her expression, which fell into a distinct pout.
"Don't look like that, nikko-chan," Betty softly pled while reaching across the table and caressing her host's delicate cheek. Vivian was so soft and always felt so perfect under her calloused fingertips.
Vivian leaned into the loving touch. "Gomen nasai (I am sorry)," she whispered. She was not supposed to bring Betty's mood down when the over-worked warrior came by. She was supposed to make sure Betty had a good time, relaxed, and was all-around pleased with being there.
"It's all right," Betty tried to assure her. She knew the look all too well. It was a look that she had gotten through the years when Vivian thought she held her job in higher esteem than she held the blond beauty. She hated that look because it was so untrue.
Vivian took a deep breath to try to rein in her emotions. She was supposed to be an expert of control, yet Betty always took that from her if they were together for a few minutes. Everything always hurt more when it came to Betty as far as Vivian was concerned. Despite the fact that because of her feelings for Betty caused her to feel deep pain on occasion, she would not trade in the emotions for anything in the world.
Betty abandoned her tea and senbei, choosing to go to the other side of the table with Vivian. She embraced the sorrowful female and held her close to her chest. Vivian simply returned the hug, wrapping her arms around the warrior's waist, while resting her head on Betty's breasts, practically cuddling herself against the cushions. They were still for a few precious seconds before Betty's hand returned to Vivian's soft cheek and began gently caressing her.
"I wish things could always be like this," Vivian muttered into Betty's collarbone. It felt so perfect to be pressed against her love and touched in a way that conveyed the tender feelings Betty held for her.
"I do, too," the brunette replied. "But, I recall when things were not always like this," she added, sounding slightly amused.
Vivian's brows furrowed together as if she did not know what Betty meant. She looked up at Betty, who was wearing a small, entertained smile. It was then she realized what the one-eyed woman was talking about.
"Well, how I was supposed to react when I found out that you weren't a man? I had already fallen madly in love with you by then," Vivian commented with a forced pout.
"I'll agree with the madly part. I still have bruises from that," Betty remarked with a teasing smile. "I still have bruises when you found out about my husband, too," she added.
Vivian snorted like an angry bull. That husband, she mentally huffed. All right, so there had been a few bumps in their relationship that she could not blame on Betty's career or even her own. There was some jealousy and the brief inability to deal with reality, namely that Betty was a married woman.
Vivian was doing something that was a bit against the established rules that had been laid out with Betty since the ninja has recovered from her injuries. She was going to Betty's home. Betty did not like Vivian doing something as risky as she sneaking around to see her, so it was decided she would come to see Vivian. Betty had taken into sneaking into the pleasure district of Edo and she got into the teahouse that Vivian worked in by dressing as a male, which left Vivian still believing she was a man.
Vivian was off to the Director home because Betty had promised to come visit her a couple of days ago when she was certain she would be back from a mission. Betty had not shown up for their appointment, though. She wanted to make sure the master of the Director home was all right. What if the ninja was injured again, after all?
And, yes, Betty was actually the master of the house. Even though she was married, her father forced her husband to take their family name and, honestly, her father had raised her to take charge, so she often commanded her husband around. Because of her forceful persona, her husband tried to make it a point to not be home when she was going to be around. She could not care less since she had only married him because her father told her to.
Vivian was allowed into the house with no problem. The servants greeted her with bright smiles on their faces and directed her right to where she could find their mistress. It took all of her composure to not run to where they directed her, which was good since it was a bit difficult to run in a full kimono, especially full stride like she deeply desired to do. She stopped dead in her tracks as she caught sight of the person that she wanted to see. Something was wrong and it made her stomach drop into her feet.
The ninja that made her heart beat faster than a bee's wings flapped was dressed not in the usual dark blue hakama and matching kimono. Instead, the brunette wore a formal kimono with an elaborate obi; she was going to attend a banquet hosted by her parents. It was in that clothing that Vivian noticed Betty's shape and her mind could not comprehend what she was seeing.
Vivian's mind offered only one option: flee. So, she turned and ran before Betty even noticed her. How was it possible? How could the person who made her feel lighter than air and like the most special woman on the planet actually be a female? She felt almost sick about it.
To think, she had actually had to fight back urges to kiss that ninja in past. Now, she was happy she had been able to restrain herself. She had such deep desires to kiss a woman. The very idea made her skin crawl and her stomach flip. She had actually referred to a woman as "anata." Sure, it was not very often and it was mostly in jest to avoid offending the one-eyed warrior, but she had still done it. Oh, she felt like such a fool.
Somehow, she made it all the way back to the teahouse without being discovered, even though she was not nearly as careful as she usually was. She shed tears when she was in the privacy of her own room. She was not sure why she was crying, but she tried to tell herself that it was because she felt like an idiot for thinking Betty was a man. Underneath it all, she knew she wept because she thought her love would go unreturned since her savior turned out to be a female, but she could not admit that to herself.
She was not sure how long she cried, but while she did, it felt like everything inside of her was torn to shreds. Everything hurt and she swore she could not figure out why. She never felt this way before, never felt so up on moment and then totally shattered the next. She refused to stay broken for long, though. Why should I? She could not think of a reason, but then again, it still took her a long while to cease her tears.
Once she got over her embarrassment, and unacknowledged agony, she decided to be angry. She was furious that Betty was not a man. She was upset that the ninja seemed to have led her on. She was livid that Betty had been coming to visit her, knowing that outside of workers, women were not allowed in the district, which only added on to her being vexed with Betty not being a man. Betty made the mistake of coming by to see her before the anger ran its course.
"You!" Vivian practically roared as she entered the room with Betty.
The one-eyed woman did not even have a chance to respond or inquire about the tone directed toward her. Vivian charged her and she had to dodge a surprising strong claw attack. Shego probably would have been proud to see it.
"Wait, why are you doing this? What's going on? Why?" Betty asked, wanting to know why she was being assaulted.
Vivian did not explain herself. It might have had a little to do with the fact that she did not know why she was attacking herself, but that did not halt her actions. When no explanation was forthcoming, Betty decided to force the answers out of Vivian and halt the battering against her.
Betty grabbed Vivian's hands, making sure not to do it roughly, but enough to stop the assaulting maiko. She then pinned Vivian up against the wall. Vivian struggled against her, but Betty made it clear she was the stronger of the two and things would go her way because of that. Vivian glared at her as if she was the worst sort of person and it made her heart drop.
"Now, what the hell are you doing?" Betty demanded. She thought they were friends, so why the hell was Vivian attacking her like they were sworn enemies?
"I don't have to answer to you," Vivian huffed, turning her head away in defiance.
"You do if you want to get the hell off of this wall. Now, what the hell is the problem?" Betty asked, speaking in an even tone despite the fact that she had just been attacked and she disliked such a thing. It did not help that Vivian seemed to hate her all of a sudden.
Vivian glanced at the ninja and then looked away again. Part of her told her to just keep her mouth shut and let Betty wail on her with whatever martial arts' moves the warrior desired. It would make it so much easier to stop having feelings for a deceiver. It would make it easier to cease to love a woman. Oh kami (god), she thought; she actually loved Betty and had admitted it in her own head.
No, no, no. You can't love a woman, you just can't. While Vivian knew her brain was right, her heart refused to listen. She was in love with Director Betty, her savior and friend.
It was because she felt such strong emotions for the brunette that she dared to speak, even though she thought it would be beyond mortifying. She supposed she just needed to watch her words to make sure she did not offend Betty, not while the woman held her so firmly. She turned her bright blue eyes back to the ninja.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Vivian begged, sounding close to heartbroken. Had she known sooner, surely her feelings would not have blossomed into what they were, namely love.
"Say anything about what?" Betty inquired, her eyebrows drawing close together. She wanted to know desperately what she might have done that seemed to have hurt the blond because Vivian's expression was now killing her on the inside. She would try her best to make amends as soon as she learned what she had done. She never wanted to hurt the younger female.
"That you're a girl," Vivian answered in a heated whisper through gritted teeth.
Betty was shocked by that response, so much so that her grip on Vivian loosened. Vivian immediately noticed and turned the tables. She pushed herself off of the wall and backed down the brunette warrior. Vivian now had the upper hand.
"Why didn't you ever say you're a girl? You let me make a fool out of myself. You probably laugh at me every time we part," Vivian accused the one-eyed female with a growl. She was certain she was nothing more than a big joke to the ninja.
"Why would I laugh? Why wouldn't you know I'm a girl?" Betty inquired in a confused tone. She thought it would be fairly obvious for Vivian to know her sex as Vivian had seen her lying in bed more often than any other person that she could think of. She failed to take to account that in all of that time, she had been covered with blankets to make sure she stayed warm and comfortable. She was also covered in bandages most of that the time, too. She had been formless, shapeless then.
"What do you mean why would I know? Because you're here," Vivian snarled, motioning to the space around them. How was she supposed to know Betty was a woman when she frequently visited a place forbidden to outside females?
"I'm here to see you. I thought we were friends, so I come here to see you," the brunette argued. She liked being around the maiko for various reasons and if she could, she would like to continue being with Vivian in someway.
"You're not supposed to be here," Vivian stated the obvious.
"So? You weren't supposed to be at my house, but you were there. What's the problem? You don't want me here anymore?" Betty asked, her voice quiet and cracked. It was her turn to sound hurt, maybe even frightened. She liked being around Vivian; it was a wonderful and very welcomed change of pace among other things. Vivian was something calm and soothing in her danger-filled existence. Vivian was the sun and the clear sky in her dark world.
Vivian was caught by surprise by that question. Did she not want Betty around anymore? It'd be nice, her mind jumped in. She would be able to rid herself of her foolish feelings if she never had to see the warrior again. She would also be able to get over Betty and she would also not have worry about the brunette laughing at her behind her back, as she was so certain Betty did, especially when she referred to the ninja as "anata."
Little did she know, but Betty thoroughly enjoyed being called "anata," even if it was just a joke, as the ninja assumed it was. Betty felt attached to Vivian and liked that Vivian cared. She thought the nickname was just a little inside joke between them, which felt good to have.
"Yes!" Vivian answered with passion, practically roaring her response. She never wanted to see Betty again.
Betty's onyx eye went wide with shock and ache. This was worse than being ripped apart by a thousand daggers. So, she was unwanted just because she happened to be a female? She did not understand the logic, but she could tell Vivian meant that declaration at the moment and she would respect the decision, even if it hurt like hell. And so, she disappeared from Vivian's life that night and Vivian was hardly pleased to watch her go.
Vivian's heart hitched in her chest, silently pleading with her to call the brunette back, but she ignored it. It was not until the pain continuously got worse that she even acknowledged it existed. She avoided admitting to herself that she felt such agony due to the fact that she had not seen Betty in over a fortnight. She had never felt such a longing before, not even when her parents first left her to become a geisha. She never missed them quite as much as she missed Betty.
She also noticed her feelings were not diminishing in the slightest. If anything, they were just getting stronger as time pressed on. She still felt the urge to embrace the ninja, to caress the warrior, to kiss and love her savior. She just wanted to be near Betty.
What was she supposed to do? She had already banished Betty from her life and Betty seemed to be sticking with that. How could I do something so stupid, she silently demanded. And people swore she was too smart for her own good, she thought sarcastically. Smart indeed, she mentally scoffed.
It took a few days of wallowing in her throbbing internal misery and urges for Vivian to get up and do something about it. She just hoped she was not going to be making an even bigger fool of herself. She went to see Betty.
Vivian discovered the one-eyed female bedridden again. She quickly found herself concerned and kneeled by Betty's futon to find out what happened. Betty was surprised by her visitor's presence, but thankful for it.
"Director-sama, what happened?" Vivian inquired with concern thick in her voice. Her eyes shined with unshed tears. What if this was serious and she had not come? She could have lost her warrior and found out much too late due to stubbornness and her own stupidity.
"It's nothing serious," Betty assured Vivian because she could tell how worried Vivian was. She did not understand why Vivian was so worried about her when almost a month ago Vivian had dismissed her from her life, seemingly severing their ties to each other.
"What happened?" Vivian implored while trying to inspect the ninja without touching her or pulling the covers back.
"Training accident with a couple of new squad members, nothing more," the brunette answered in a nonchalant tone, hoping to ease the worry from her visitor.
Vivian's face still showed worry. "What happened? How were you injured?"
"Oh, the dummies just don't follow instructions," Betty replied with a sigh. She had been given the task with complete confidence in her to train two ninja, who did not seem to have a drop of brains betwixt the pair of them and she now had the cuts and bruises to show it. It was a good thing she had sharp reflexes or she would have been killed out there with them. The squad captain was not sure what he was going to do with the pair since she could not even help them.
"Is there anything I can do?" Vivian offered sincerely. She needed something to do, to be useful, to ease her savior's pain.
"I thought you wanted me out of your life," Betty pointed out as if it did not matter to her when in fact she had been feeling the sting of separation just as harshly as the maiko had.
"I thought so, too…" Vivian admitted ruefully, glancing away, ashamed now because of her declaration of wanting the ninja gone.
"And now?" Betty inquired, still trying to sound uninterested.
Vivian looked away again and hid underneath her golden mane. Betty was not looking to settle for that. She did something surprising to try to get Vivian to feel comfortable with explaining things to her. She reached out and caressed Vivian's cheek. They were both stunned by the soothing affect the action had on both of them. Vivian was soft, Betty noted, while Vivian delighted in how gentle and loving the touch seemed. Tears gathered in sky blue eyes.
"What's wrong?" Betty asked in a tender tone.
"Why are you so wonderful? Why couldn't you just be a man? It would've made things so much easier. It would've made things right," Vivian replied, starting to cry even more.
Betty was not stupid, so she was starting to understand what the problem was. But, she actually did not consider it a problem. It was really something she wanted, something she wanted for a while since meeting Vivian. Now, all she had to do was hope it did not bother Vivian because of the strangeness of it.
"It's all right, Vivian-san," Betty said in a gentle whisper.
"How is it all right?" the maiko bawled.
"If you accept it, it will be all right."
"What do you mean?"
"Because I feel the same way," Betty replied. Not only did she feel the same way, but it was not as strange to her as it was for Vivian. After all, she had been attracted to women all of her life.
Vivian sniffled. "You do? How could you?"
"Because you're wonderful," Betty stated with a small smile. "Vivian-san, I know this might seem quite forward of me, but may I kiss you?" she requested. She really wanted to.
Vivian went rigid with shock. "Kiss me?" she echoed as if she did not understand.
The reaction was not promising, but Betty pressed forward. Something might come of it, after all. "May I?"
Vivian could not answer verbally. She could only nod due to embarrassment that she really wanted Betty to kiss her. And when Betty's sweet lips fell upon her own, Vivian suddenly could not care less that Betty was a woman. All she knew was that she loved Director-sama and from the feel of the kiss, it seemed the emotion was returned. It was from that moment on that Vivian decided she just loved whom she loved and nothing else mattered.
-*-(End of flashback)-*-
"Did you miss me those few weeks we were apart when I first found out you were a woman, anata?" Vivian inquired, still hugged up against Betty.
"Of course I did. I loved you, didn't I?" Betty countered softly, hand caressing Vivian's side. It was only logical that she would miss Vivian and she had missed Vivian something terrible and thought about her almost every minute of every day because of that.
"Then why weren't you honest with me and tell me that you were married then?" Vivian asked, teasing mostly. She had been very upset when she eventually found out about that little fact.
"Because I didn't want you to be mad at me again," the brunette answered the obvious rather bluntly.
"That didn't work out too well, did it?" Vivian remarked.
Betty laughed and smiled. "No, it didn't, but I doubt there was a good time for you to hear that news."
"No, you're right. I guess I could've handled it better," Vivian conceded. She had actually broken things off with Betty when she found out that the one-eyed woman was married. It had not been the best plan because she felt that agonizing longing again when she was away from Betty. Eventually, she came crawling back again, acknowledging the fact that she was the one Betty loved, not that fat slob she was bound to. He was not a problem for too long, but longer than she liked at the time.
"It would've been nice," Betty commented.
"Well, maybe I wouldn't get so mad if you just saw me more often," Vivian argued.
"Don't try to blame me that you get jealous easily. You should've known you're the only one for me, but you always get so jealous," the one-eyed woman retorted with a smirk. She actually liked that about Vivian, even though it rarely worked in her favor. It was nice to have someone so passionate about her. No one else ever was.
"Well, I've got a wonderful woman. Of course I think people are going to try taking you from me," Vivian said, curling up into Betty even more so. Vivian purred slightly from the delightful feeling of being against her love. She wanted more of this, wanted to know this feeling daily, nightly, and everything in between.
"You're the only one who looks at me like that, so you should stop worrying so much," Betty replied quite seriously.
Vivian only smiled. She did not understand why more people were not trying to take Betty from her, but that was probably because it never registered to her mind that she saw a Betty almost no other person on the planet had seen or would ever see. Outside of the teahouse's walls, Betty was the tough, take-no-nonsense leader of some of the finest ninja in the country. She was hardly known to smile on the outside world. Members of her own family would have been surprised to know that her mouth could curl upward, that she could laugh lightheartedly, that she could speak softly, and that she could be tender with someone.
"You know, the tea's probably cold by now," Betty said.
"To hell with the tea," Vivian remarked, earning a laugh from her love. "I'm staying right where I am." She sighed contently.
"If that's your desire," Betty replied. She leaned down and rested her head in Vivian's soft locks.
Vivian sighed her usual sigh when in Betty's presence; the sound of a girl in love. She remained cuddled up to the brunette and just felt like everything was right in the world; Betty knew the feeling well thanks to Vivian's presence. But, Vivian was going to have to rain on their parade in a moment. She was going to have to get up, retrieve the dinner that she made, and set it up, after all. She had to make sure that Betty ate right and she had to take proper care of her love.
Next time: more flashbacks, the rating goes up, and the story ends.
*Anata: darling (this is used by a woman addressing her husband or boyfriend).