The Ties That Bind
Extra (Just to Make it an Even Thirty)
Haruka sipped her mint julip and enjoyed the feel of the warm sun baking her legs as she watched Hotaru frolicking in the water.
"Did you put the sun screen on her?"
"She put it on herself."
"You know she'll miss some spots, honestly." Michiru stalked off toward the waves with bottle of sun screen in hand and Haruka continued to sip the mint julip while admiring the view.
Her phone buzzed and she looked down to see that she had a text message.
When Michiru returned, Haruka was grinning to herself.
"What is it?" the other asked, suspiciously. She knew that smile very well.
"Want me to oil your back?"
"No, thank you, tell me what you've been up to. What have you done?"
Haruka smiled at her for a moment, and then removed her sun glasses.
"Zoe asked me for some advice, and apparently the advice I gave him worked out pretty well."
Michiru rolled her eyes.
"I can only imagine what horrors you've convinced him to inflict on poor Ami-chan."
"Poor Zoe-chan is more like it."
"What did you say?"
Michiru eyed Haruka askance, but tipped her large hat lower on her face and settled back into her chair to watch Hotaru.
"Which reminds me," Haruka mentioned, casually, "Remember that bet we had about who would get married first?"
"I think you owe me a little something."
Michiru stared at Haruka over her sunglasses.
"You can't be serious."
"You did something."
Haruka continued to smirk.
"That's not fair," Michiru turned away from her, folding her arms. Haruka's smirk fell off.
"What do you mean? You said that if Makoto got married, I'd have to do the dishes for a week - and if Ami got married, you promised you'd ride with me in the new -"
"Meddling was off limits. It had to happen on it's own."
Haruka sat back in her chair and grumbled.
"But," Michiru conceded, "If what you say is true, I might -might- consider riding with you on a short - slow - ride."
Haruka thought about it for a moment.
"And," she added, "want to bet on the next one?"
The story really is over now. Thank you for reading it and staying with it (and me) so long. I don't have anything else to add to it (otherwise it will never end) but I did have some things that either didn't get to be in the main plot or were interesting side notes that I thought I'd mention. So here's some behind the scenes stuff, if you're at all interested (if not, there's no more story so...you're done and thanks for reading):
First, a little note about languages: something that has often bothered me is stories in which the shitennou are Americans (or some other primarily English speaking nationality) and yet they have no trouble conversing with the senshi, some of whom I know (Usagi) won't have very good English. I tried to avoid that by having at least two very good Japanese speakers among the shitennou (Jade and Konnor) with realistic reasons for knowing the language well.
Consequently, I discovered that the couples' levels of comfort with both languages sort of matched up in a way that made it possible that they would communicate well - so when Jade and Rei are speaking privately, the majority of what they're saying should be understood to be Japanese. With Konnor and Mina it's really a toss up since both speak both languages very well. I would guess they probably speak Japanese the majority of the time.
Nolan knows some and is still learning, and I see Makoto as having picked up some English (besides school English) through cooking and travel, but between the two of them I imagine they both speak pretty good Japenglish, though there's still probably some miscommunication that goes on there.
Zoe is the least skilled, knowing almost no Japanese, but fortunately Ami is fluent in English and can probably teach him. This means that a lot of the time that everyone is speaking, Zoe is rather clueless about what's going on, but that's Zoe anyway (at least as I see him) and hopefully his Japanese will improve with time.
Why there's no sex (well, almost none): I don't normally like to put intimate scenes in stories anyway (just because I find it difficult to write them) but early on someone commented that he/she hoped I wouldn't have the girls sleeping with the guys at the drop of a hat (which does happen in some stories I've read) and so I decided to respect that. I have no idea what the girls' personal ideas are about that, but I imagine some of them don't care as much (Usagi, obviously, and maybe Ami too) whereas I can see Rei and Makoto being a bit more 'old-fashioned' and I think Mina would actually be a little shy. So that's why, besides the last Ami-Zoe scene (which was mainly for comic effect), there's not really any sex. The reason I had Chibi-Usa born a bit *ahem* early is because that is true to the manga, as far as I know. I thought it was kind of cute too.
Why Zoe is sometimes a bit effeminate/bratty: Well, for starters, I hope no one puts these two things together. Second, it's always been difficult for me to figure out the Shitennou's personalities - for several different reasons. One is that they don't have much in the manga (which I prefer to the anime) and another is that so many people have so many different interpretations. But some of these interpretations have become common in fanfiction (i.e. Jadeite is a horny joker, Zoisite is a man-ho, Kunzite is an emotionless robot, and no one's really sure who Nephrite is). There are elements of those in my characterizations, but I tried to flesh them out a bit more with bits I gleaned from the manga versions. Zoisite is portrayed as very young and emotional, and so I imagine him to be a lot like Mina, but in teenage guy form. This means he's often annoying, but there are parts of him (his bravery, honesty, tenacity, and intelligence) that make up for that. I don't think you should always like a character, otherwise they aren't very realistic. So if parts of his personality annoyed you, well, that's what I was going for. The same is true for Nolan, Konnor, and Jade (although he's my favorite so I tend to make him my ideal of perfect).
Bes and Shai: Bes is the name of the Egyptian god of luck, and Shai is the name of the Egyptian god of fate. I had fun playing with the idea of other gates and worlds, since I feel it's a little too lonely for Setsuna to be the only one. Plus I had imagined some sort of romance for Setsuna and Hotaru, though that didn't pan out as much as I originally thought. I've always seen Setsuna being happy with a very sweet, princely sort of person, whereas I thought it would be fun to pair Hotaru with her opposite - someone very outgoing and playful. I don't know if, when Hotaru grows up, she and Bes will be interested in each other that way (I kind of like the way their relationship is now), but you never know. I really like the idea of Setsuna and Shai, but that's another story entirely. They'd probably take eons to even go on a date. Anyway, both characters are original except for their names.
The Phantom Queen: Most of you mythology lovers will have already realized that the name "Phantom Queen" is actually one literal translation of the Morrigan, the Celtic triple goddess of death (also known as the Badb, Nemain, and the Morrigu). I really like Celtic mythology and legends, and the idea of a triple goddess seemed interesting in terms of the Sailor Moon universe. If gods had avatars (which is how I like to think of it) then what would the other avatars be like? The wolf, crow and eel are also taken out of Celtic legends, in particular the story of the Morrigan and Cuchulainn (although I replaced the cow in that story with a crow, one of the symbols of the Morrigan). Chaos is the one who comes up with the "Phantom Queen" identity when she possesses Fate. I don't know where she got the idea, except that in manga representations she does look like a shadow person.
The name debate: I know I've seen it done both ways: people come up with entirely new names for the Shitennou or they stick with something like Jay, Nate, Zack, and Kevin. I don't like any of those names (no offense) but I also agree with the argument that it makes it easier to keep up with the story when the names match up with Nephrite, Jadeite, Zoisite, and Kunzite by first letter at least. I know it makes it easier for me. (I'm not bashing people who come up with their own names - I often think that's very cool - but it's just easier this way and I'm a lazy reader when it comes to fanfiction). So that's why I tried to find interesting names that still wouldn't be difficult to keep up with.
The only other thing I want to mention is that the idea behind the shitennou being separated from their 'Shitennou" selves was something I thought about for a long time after having read a few debates on the issue of how writers can plausibly bring about a reconciliation between the shitennou and senshi without devaluing the fact that the shitennou sincerely made their choice in the Silver Millennium. That issue is something I'm going to deal with much more directly in The Golden Age, but I mediated here because I didn't want it to be a tragedy and because I didn't want to bring in the much loved plot device of clone shitennou. (Which I have seen some authors write very well - Jecir in particular has a great story using this idea.)
And that really is all. Thanks for reading!