Title: Cinnamon and Sweet Things
Rating: G
Couplings: KanexCanal, NeenaxMillie, KazexMillie (original character)
Notes: Heyhey, my first stand-alone Lost Universe fanfic is also my first shoujo-ai attempt, taking place after the series is through.

Read. F/F SLASH. SHOUJO AI. Please do not read further if that idea disgusts you.

Anyway, I'd like to explain a few things. Rail is undoubtedly my favorite character, and that's why he gets shafted in this story, because we always hurt the ones we love - he won't be left out next time. I would also like to say that Kane and Canal are the sweeted, lovliest, cutest het ouple in the whole wide world. ^#^ I may do a story on them after I finish the RailxKane shounen ai I'm working on. The song in this fic is 'Beautiful' by Joydrop, and really fits the mood of the story. I reccommend it.

Ah, yes, Kaze is an original character and thus property of Whitecat (my dearest clone) and I. Please do not use or copy him in any way, as he is ours and we do not like to share. ^_^;

~Tomo Trillions

If I was beautiful like you
Oh, the things I would do
Those not so blessed would be crying out murder
And I'd just laugh and get away with it too
Like you do

If I was beautiful like you
I would never be at fault
I'd walk in the rain between the rain drops
Bringing traffic to a halt

Blue or green? Sliding one hand down her slim torso, Neena tilted her head and regarded her reflection in the mirror with a faint upturning of coral lips. Today was worth getting dressed up for - today was different, today was special. Bearing that in mind, the brunette swept her hair back into a long, coiling ponytail and tied it there, watching a few loose curls balance out around her face. In the mirror, expressive green eyes winked back at her - she met them and smiled again.

"I look silly," she told herself, "smiling all the time. People will think I'm crazy."

But she couldn't help it. She'd been smiling for weeks, ever since Rail called her into his office and set the date for a gathering of old friends - Kane and Millie, who Neena hadn't seen in the eighteen months since the fall of Nightmare. Weeks of waiting and smiling and thinking and hoping all boiled down to this - and she wanted to look her best, as superficial as that was. Her very best.

Blue, Neena decided at last, because it would match the eyes Millie and Kane shared. Silently she puckered her lips to test the faint pinkish lipstick she'd picked up the day before and smacked once, twice, at last satisfied with the little luxury of make-up, a frivolous addition to her normally plain visage. Smoothing her sweater, the brunette regarded herself again and nodded.

"Okay. Deep breaths. This is it," Neena told herself as a horn blast echoed outside, shouting three times and silencing. Silly Rail, ever the showman - honking his horn to beckon a girl rather than escort her to the car. Neena smiled. "Coming, Rail!"

He was indeed waiting, looking incredible as ever in a gray jacket and black slacks, his eyes stormy and suave, looking her up and down with a flirty gaze that made Neena blush. "Sorry to keep you waiting," she told him, slipping into the front seat and folding her legs politely. He laughed quietly and winked at her, throwing one arm against the back of the seat and turning on the car.

"You're a pretty girl. Being fashionably late is in your blood," he told her.

Neena smiled and looked out the window for the rest of the trip.


Kane looked good. Not just good - really good, Neena had to admit. Even Rail gave him a long, appraising stare as the redhead approached their table - Kane looked older, and though he still wore his beloved mantle, he felt more mature, seemed to have a stronger look about him and stand a bit straighter... His confidence in his own abilities, Neena decided, was what gave him such an appearance. Kane had gone from being a boy desperate to live up to a ghost to being a young man, strong and secure in what he could do - no more or less than that. Neena smiled and waved, Rail sipped his coffee, and Kane flopped down next to them, saying his hellos with a grin.

They talked. General things at first - where had Kane been? How was Rail faring? And had Neena come close to any promotions? Kane explained that he was searching for a way to get Canal back, and both Rail and Neena nodded - they had assumed as much. Millie was working with him as a partner, still, although she had been recently hired alone on a bodyguard mission. He hadn't seen her for two months, he told them, smiling secretively over the brim of his cup. Rail was back in his secure position in the Guardians, having been absolved of his crimes under the assumption that the mind control was complete and he could have done nothing to stop it - the Lost Ships were unfathomable, and thus his name had been cleared. He was seeing a pretty blue-haired girl, who he seemed to like a lot, though not enough to keep himself from watching ever cute girl that walked by.

Neena told of her family and her wage increase, mentioned that she'd finally managed to take the edge off of her mechanical phobia by managing to buy a computer and owning it for four weeks before it finally fizzled out on her.

Millie was late. Neena was edgy.

"She's probably just getting her surprise in order," Kane told them with a suspiciously innocent smile. "She couldn't wait to tell you - don't worry, she'll be here."

A half an hour later Rail wandered off to talk to a group of girls sitting by a fountain in the station's mall. Neena ordered a smoothie and Kane picked lint from his cape as the minutes ticked by on the massive clock mounted on the wall, over a fountain where little children tossed coins, their laughter lost in the low roar of the mall's echoing crowd. "So," the brunette said at last, tilting her head, "Kane."


"I want to ask you something," she continued, blushing a bit. "About... friendship."

"Is this about Rail?" Kane asked immediately, quirking a brow. Neena laughed faintly and shook her head, no. "It's more serious than Rail. I mean, it's more...about love. I guess." She was blushing, her cheeks flushed red.

"Sure, you can talk to me," Kane told her, standing up. "Would you like to walk around a bit? Millie will beep me when she gets here."

"I'd like that." Kane offered his arm and Neena accepted, smiling faintly. Kane was refreshing with his manners and polite words around a lady - Rail never did that.

"I think I love someone," she whispered, just loud enough for him to hear as they rounded the corner of the food court and wound out into the walkways of the mall. "But I'm not sure. Have you ever been in love?"

Kane grinned. "Of course I have. And I'm guessing it's not Rail you're speaking of, right?"

"No," Neena glanced away, feeling the blush fade. Just tell Kane, she told herself, just explain and he'll understand. "Rail is sweet. I liked him for a long time," she admitted softly, "But he... he sees me as just another girl. Around him I feel like a temporary amusement, until he can find someone better looking, or someone smarter, or more talented, or richer.... and he flirts. I flirt, too... But only because I'm supposed to," a pained look flashed across her face, "only because flirting is what any normal girl would do when her commander is a smart, suave, dashing young rebel. Rail Claymore and all of his charms."

"But.... I take it you're telling me you're not a normal girl, Neena." The brunette nodded and wondered how Kane managed to feel so much older than her. She wasn't sure. It hadn't always been like this...

But that would never be
That would never be
'cause I'm not beautiful like you
I'm beautiful like me

If I was beautiful like you
I'd be quick to assume
They'd do anything to please me - why not?
I see their reaction when you walk into the room

"I feel so superficial," she sighed, pausing to sweep her bangs out of her eyes, "with him. And with you, I feel like a know-nothing... a klutz who can't do anything right. With Canal," she wished she hadn't mentioned the AI, because Kane looked pained when she spoke the name, "I was always worried about hurting something. And with the other girls at the office I feel so out of place, because I don't feel like they do about Rail, about clothes, about...everything."

Kane paused and Neena joined him as they peered over a railing and down into the three floors of stores, plazas, and arching walkways that made up the majority of the space mall. "That leaves...."

"Yeah," Neena nodded, glancing up shyly. His eyes, she noticed, were like hers - only hers were wider, and her lashes prettier. Not that Kane's delicately boned face could be called anything but pretty...Millie just had a more open, expressive air to her. Neena smiled. "Her."

Kane did a double take, so extreme that he almost fell over the balcony, and Neena had to put a hand on his shoulder before he calmed and stared at her in surprise. "Wow. I mean - Neena - wow. I had no idea."

Green eyes closed for a moment in a sugar-sweet smile, and Neena tilted her head, gazing questioningly at the young man at her side. "Does it bother you?"

"N-no," Kane stuttered, suddenly looking very young again, young and caught in a situation he had no idea how to handle. "It's not that. I'm just... surprised. I mean, you never...never..."

"Never said anything," Neena tugged at a lock of hair and shook her head, relieved. Kane meant his words - because if there was one thing she could be certain of in life it was that the redheaded man was incapable of uttering a falsity. "I know. To anyone. In fact, I think you're the only one that really knows," she added, hopefully. "Please don't tell."

"I...won't." Kane looked agonized. "Do you...want to talk about it?"

"That was the general idea," Neena told him gently. Kane blushed adorably, and she continued. "She's...she's beautiful, don't you think? And around her, I can be myself. She...she talks to me like nobody else does, like I'm nothing but a friend. Not... not a danger, or a ditz, or a coworker... just a friend. A good friend, someone worthwhile, someone to be close to... Millennium Feria Nocturne makes me feel special, and beautiful, and unique."

Neena licked her lips and watched Rail's expression as he flirted, as he went through expert steps and charmed a growing group of women. She cupped her chin in her hands and sighed. "Do you think I'm strange?"

Kane blinked at her from beneath his bangs and laughed after a moment of pregnant silence. "Nah. It...sounds like you do care about her," he said, sounding wistful. "That's how... how Canal made me feel. Makes me feel. And I would do anything for her... but... "

Nodding, Neena stepped back and smiled. How many times had she discussed Kane with Millie, over a meal and a drink? How many shopping trips had she spent listening to Millie discuss her then-unknown cousin with exasperation and amusement that bordered on sisterly affection? She was, deep down, a bit jealous of Kane's closeness to the object of her affection - he never had to fear rejection, because he would always be family. He would always be there.

"Neena, before you tell her-"

"I won't," Neena leaned back and closed her eyes. "I decided not to...a long time ago."

Kane opened his mouth to speak, and the brunette looked away. How could she explain? When Neena spoke again, her voice was strained, her emerald eyes downcast. Kane reached out and tucked an arm over her shoulder, letting her lean against him as she searched for the words she needed. "You don't understand...how much I..."

But that would never be
That would never be
'cause I'm not beautiful like you
I'm beautiful like me

"How much I love her. I... I want to be just like her. I want..." I want to hold her, and be close to her, and smell her hair. I want to taste those lips - just once - and be happy with her. I want to have her secret, special smile, and hold it close to my heart. I want to wake up in her arms, and brush her hair out of her eyes, and make her feel like she makes me feel. Was that too much to ask for?

Neena closed her mouth, and her eyes, and let out a deep, shuddering breath as she stilled the flooding thoughts that had occupied her mind for all the long months - years - since she had last seen her perfect, beautiful best friend who would never feel the way she did. "Millennium Feria Nocturne is perfect. That's all. That's why I can't tell her."


"She's so strong," Neena whispered, tears beading in her eyes as she leaned against Kane's shoulder, and he stroked her shoulders awkwardly, nervously. He smelled like Millie - but different, more masculine, but enough like her to make the words get sticky in the back of Neena's throat. Smelled like the Swordbreaker and soap and energy. Millie smelled like that, only with flowers underneath, flowers and cinnamon and sweet things. "She's like a light. She's so...bright that she fills up a room when she walks in. And when I'm with her, she lights me up too, and I feel so good about...everything. If I lost that...."

She blinked back the tears, angry at herself for slipping. Determined to enjoy the day, Neena rubbed her face dry with the sleeve of her sweater and looked up, meeting Kane's dead serious gaze with a look of confusion. "Kane? What's wrong?"

He was looking over her shoulder, eyes filled with something next to anxiety, or embarrassment, or pity. Neena suddenly dreaded turning around, suddenly terrified of what was there, knowing that whatever it was might render her soft confession of love useless. "It's Millie?" she asked faintly, and Kane agreed with almost imperceptible tilt of his head.

I don't want to turn around.

I don't want things to change.

I want it to stay like this forever.

Neena Mercury turned on one heel and glanced straight ahead, taking strength from the hand that Kane slipped down to her waist.

It was Millie. Millie, a little different than she remembered, with longer hair and darker lashes, her arm entwined around someone else, someone tall and smiling, at home in dark leather and weaving fishnets. He as perfect, sculpted, smiling through silver bangs, a purple braid winding down his back.

He was...kissing her temple.

Neena's heart skipped a beat, then another, and for a moment the world turned dizzy and red, and she couldn't breath or think of move - and then slowly Kane's fingers tightened, and she remembered where she was. What she had to say, do, who she had to pretend to be.

"Neena! I want you to meet someone!"

She gulped.

"This is Kaze... he's... well, he's my fiancé."

Neena nodded, opened her mouth and closed it again. Brilliant blue eyes beamed at her, and she had to struggle not to drown in their depths as Kaze offered a hand and smiled winningly at her, a flicker of concern glancing across his face as their palms touched.

She hesitated, and then slowly, painfully let a smile rest on her lips and travel up to her eyes, though the green orbs weren't touched by the emotion. "Hello, Kaze. I'm Neena... you're Millie's surprise, I take it?"

He nodded, Millie smiled, and Neena swallowed back the agony in her heart. "That's wonderful," she whispered, then cleared her throat and repeated it a bit louder. "You're...so lucky, Millie," hesitantly the brunette stepped forward and settled her hands on the Millie's sloping shoulders, gazing into her liquid eyes for a moment before kissing her softly on the cheek.

Blonde strands tickled her nose, and Neena smiled, faintly as she stepped away - her Millie still smelled like cinnamon and rain, and everything sweet.

If I was beautiful like you I'd have so many friends
All fighting for my time to be the next in line
So if I hurt one I wouldn't have to make amends

At age 38, Neena Mercury smiled, but not all the time, because people would think she was strange if she always grinned at all hours of every day. She lived a life on her own - friends and relatives dropped in, stayed a while, departed... She was the Godmother of Millie's first daughter, and she frequently acted as a babysitter for the little girls Canal and Kane had adopted. Rail was dead, had been dead for three years, gone in a car crash in the blink of an eye - they had dated on and off, but neither had wanted more than a friend and a promise of someone to lean on. He had a son, who still came by every once in a while, who Neena was teaching the politics behind the Universal Guardians. The girls she had left behind in the Universal Guardians had filled her place, and never came to visit, but it was alright. Neena had never liked them much, anyway.

She was a teacher, taught the little ones how to read and write and play fair.

She was happy in the little town, with her little nook. She wore her hair in two short braids, and liked ribbons.

Her home smelled cinnamon and rain, and she bided her time, living the way she had always wanted to live.

Now and then she had a visitor, a wealthy woman around her age with blonde hair and sparkling eyes filled with laughter and love, now and then they could be seen drinking tea in the undersized dining room, and just once their lips met, and Neena was left completed.

Complete because she had a secret smile, and she would never have to share.

That would never be
That would never, never be
'cause I'm not beautiful like you
I'm not beautiful like you
I'm not beautiful like you
.......I'm beautiful like me ......