Hello everyone...this is your author.

Hmm...where to start... well, as you know this is the newest installment of my romance series. What you might not know is that it's also going to be the last. That's right...after this, the series is done.

Now, that doesn't mean I'm done with fanfiction. Not yet anyway. I'm still writing Dark Moon Rising which, by now, should be on its 9th or 10th chapter. Also, I have several more single stories, and a smaller chaptered story on the drawing board right now.

Anyway... there are some things I need to discuss about this last chapter. As you all should know, I've kept this series pretty tame... it's not hentai, and I don't cuss to often...with the exception of the yuri focus of the story, its pretty non-controversial.

Well...this one is going to be just a bit different. No... Its not going to be echi or a cuss fest but...well...with no spoilers...there's definitely going to be some material some people will object to. Don't worry, it'll be tasteful...but some people still might have a problem with it.

Time for the fic.



A weaving of Lights...

by Michael Treiber

Setsuna frowned in concentration. 'Wait for it…' she thought to herself, her trigger finger tense, 'Wai… NOW!' With a grunt for effect, she depressed the firing toggle… a bare second to late. The shimmering silver sphere of death rolled past the spent defenses, crushing her last chance for victory. The shame of defeat was such a great weight on her shoulders, she couldn't even hold her head up.

"Wow…" Ami whispered to Makoto, "I've never seen anyone get so intense over pinball before."

"Who would have thought that Setsuna was a pin ball wizard?" Makoto replied to her girlfriend.

"I've had a lot of practice… for a long couple of years this was the only entertainment around." Apparently the senshi of time had heard them. Before either could reply, however, someone none of them would have thought to see in the crown game center walked in.

Minako's mother.

Setsuna was the first to react to her.

"Um… hello, Mrs. Aino. Can I… help you?"

Katori just smiled.

"Oh, I'm just looking for Minako and Rei. I'm going shopping, and I thought Id invite them along. Ah… here they are."

Minako had noticed her mother and Setsuna chatting and decided to find out what was going on.

"Hi mom! ...Something the matter?"

"No, I just thought I'd see if you and Rei wanted to go shopping with me."

Smiling brightly, Minako nodded.

"I'll go get Rei."

Katori smiled brightly at Setsuna. "She seems so much happier since she started dating Rei. I was kind of leery at first… but the two of them make a good pair."

It took Setsuna several minutes to formulate a reply.

"Dating? Excused me?"

It was a measure of how shocked she was that she didn't manage to think of a reply until the three had been gone for several minutes.

"Setsuna… dinner time!" Haruka stuck her head into Setsuna's workroom to see the tall woman putting the last touches on a new work of art.

The senshi of time looked up from finishing the last line of stitches with a smile on her face.

"Ah! Haruka! Just the person I was hopping to see… come here, would you?"

Though she frowned a bit, Haruka came into the sewing room. Setsuna stood, holding her newest dress against Haruka's side.

It was an elegant, flowing gown of palest blue, with a high cut neckline and a slit running the length of the skirt, across what would be the outside of the right thigh of whoever wore it.

"Perfect…" Setsuna muttered, gazing up and down at the dress pressed against Haruka.

"No."

Blinking in confusion before she replied, Setsuna's voice held a slight edged when she asked,

"No? What do you mean, 'No'?"

"Exactly what I said. No! I'm not wearing that… that… dress!"

Setsuna cast her eyes down.

"But Haruka… you're the only one who can model it. Its perfect for you… just look at these long, elegant lines! A tall, slender, athletic woman like you would make this dress shine!"

"No means no. Now come on… dinner's going to get cold."

Sighing deeply, Setsuna carefully hung the dress up and followed Haruka out of her workroom. As they were walking down the hall, Setsuna asked –in a carefully neutral voice-

"Haruka? Did you know Minako and Rei were dating?"

"Right… sure they are."

A sudden idea struck Setsuna.

"Um… you don't really believe me that Minako and Rei are an item?"

Haruka sighed.

"I'm not saying you're lying… I just think that you might want to check the source of your information."

"Willing to make a bet on it?"

Haruka stopped and turned to Setsuna.

"What kind of bet?"

The time senshi smiled.

"Tell you what… I prove that Minako and Rei are dating, you model the dress. You prove me wrong, and you can name your price."

There was no doubt in Setsuna's mind that she had this one in the bag. After all, she already had confirmation of her victory, straight from Minako's mother's mouth.

"Well… if you're sure… Deal. You win, I model your dress. I win, and you make some lingerie for me to give Michiru for her birthday… something sexy… silk, I think."

Setsuna just smiled.

"Deal."

'Wait a minute… she agreed to that way to quickly…' Haruka thought to herself. But it was too late… the deal was set.

Setsuna took meticulous care in preparing the ambush. Warm lighting to promote a trusting atmosphere… soft background music to relax a pair of troubled souls… It was flawless. She would invite Minako and Rei over for tea –a warm herb tea, heavily laced with cream and honey to further relax the two-, and over the course of the afternoon bring up the topic of their relationship. If she could get them to 'come out' to her, then they should have no problem telling everyone else.

It was a foolproof plan.

The ringing of the door shattered her mental backslapping.

"Ah, Minako, Rei, good to see you!"

Setsuna opened the door and let the two young women in.

"Where's everyone else?" Minako asked.

"Oh, um… no one else could make it. Ami and Makoto had plans together, and Haruka took Michiru and Hotaru out to lunch."

Rei shrugged. Then she seemed to notice something in the air.

"Mmm… what's that smell?"

A super human effort was exerted by Setsuna to restrain the predatory grin that threatened to splash across her face.

"Oh, just some incense I like to burn now and again… do you like it?"

Minako was the one to answer.

"Its pretty… makes me just a bit drowsy, though…"

Setsuna held her silence, leading the other two into the living room.

"So…" Setsuna said casually, taking a small piece of spice cake –a proven comfort food- off the plate next to the tea. "You two have been spending a lot of time together."

Minako's blush was as good as a signed confession. Rei, however, was a bit more composed.

"Well…" she started, "With Ami and Makoto paired up, and the Usagi Mamoru thing getting more serious, its not like we exactly have a lot of choices."

Nodding, Setsuna let sympathy poor into her voice.

"Yes… everyone is pairing up… Haruka and Michiru… Ami and Makoto… But what about you two?"

When Rei's faced went stony, and Minako cast her eyes down, Setsuna knew that she had pushed too far, to fast. She had to do something to pull the situation back to a point where she could control it. "Oh dear… this tea seems to have gone to me… Will you girls please excuse me for a moment so I can go freshen up a bit?"

Not waiting for them to respond, Setsuna hurried from the room, closing the door behind her. She listened at the door, waiting for a sign that the pressure was off enough for her to reenter the room. What she heard was like music to her mind.

"Rei…" Minako began slowly, "Maybe we should tell Setsuna. She could probably give us some advice on some of this."

"I'm not sure that's such a good idea Minako…"

Seeing the expression on her friend's face, Rei continued in a softer tone of voice.

"But we are partners in this… if you want to tell her, we can."

'Perfect!' Setsuna thought to herself, opening the door to the living room and rejoining the other two girls. They immediately went quiet when she walked in. Evidence enough in and of itself.

"Sorry I took so long…" Setsuna smiled, "So… what were we talking about again?"

Rei nodded to Minako.

"Actually…" The small blonde said in a quiet voice. "There was something that…" she trailed off, her voice going quiet.

Taking a deep breath, Rei picked up where her friend had left off.

"It's like this… both of our parents think we're dating."

Setsuna's heart quickened. 'This is it… Haruka's as good as mine!'

"But actually… it's all just a sham to get them off the idea of us dating the sons of friends."

Her earlier joy crumbling, Setsuna asked,

"So… you two are just pretending to have a relationship?"

Nodding, Minako quietly agreed.

"Yeah… it's all just make believe…"

"So… You don't feel anything for each other?"

Rei shook her head.

"Nothing at all. We're just friends."

Out of the corner of her eye, Setsuna noticed that Minako cast her gaze aside when Rei denied any romance between the two.

"And we might need some help now and again, reinforcing the façade. That's why we told you… we trust you, Setsuna." Rei continued.

The tall senshi of time took another sip of tea, stretching out a long, quiet moment before answering.

"Well now… that's a lot of trust you're placing on my shoulders… but I'll do my best."

Rei stood before replying.

"Thank Setsuna…now, if you'll excuse me, I have duties at the shrine."

Minako remained quiet while Rei left. She was taking care not to look at either Setsuna or the other girl until she left.

"Well…" Setsuna smiled, "Just us now, eh Minako?"

"Mmhmm… suppose so…"

"Minako… what's wrong? Something you want to talk about?"

Taking a slow sip of her tea, the blonde took a moment to respond.

"Suppose… just suppose… that someone was pretty lonely. Now, they're a happy, popular person, so no one suspects. Then suppose, remember, still just pretending, suppose something came along that let them pretend, for just a moment, that they weren't alone. How do you think that person would feel having the fact it was just an illusion just casually brought up?"

"Oh my…" Setsuna breathed, "You're… in love with her, aren't you?"

Minako couldn't answer for a long moment.

"I don't know… and she's not exactly giving me the chance to find out. Not that I can blame her… the thought's probably never even crossed her mind. She's never shown the slightest interest in other girls…

Gently interrupting, Setsuna said,

"Neither have you Minako."

"I know!" Minako sighed deeply. "This is killing me. I want to tell her 'Hey, even though this is just a charade, I've never been happier!' …but, … I'm afraid that she'll… you know…"

Setsuna nodded.

"Yeah… I know. But there is a simple solution to all of this…"

Minako's eyes glowed with hope.

"Anything… anything you can tell me that'll help…"

"Seduce her."

"E…Excuse me?" Minako was shocked. "What did you just say?"

"It's simple." Setsuna slowly explained. "You're in love with her, but she doesn't think about girls that way. So you have to get her to think about nothing but that. Infect her with the idea of 'gee… I wonder what it'd be like?' until she burns with curiosity. She's not exactly a loose girl, so I'm almost sure she's a virgin… she probably thinks about sex all the time anyway…"

Setsuna trailed off when she saw how stunned Minako looked.

"Don't worry… well take it slow…"

Three days later Setsuna bumped into Rei for the first time since the little get together. The time goddess was at a pharmacy, picking up some medicine for a cold of Haruka's when she saw the flame lady.

"Oh, hello Rei."

Rei paused in the middle of placing a bottle of over the counter painkillers in her basket when she heard Setsuna's voice.

"Hello Setsuna."

The taller woman raised an inquiring eye at the pain medication. It was the strongest that could be sold without a prescription.

"Problems?"

"Huh? Oh… nothing serious… just a bit of tendonitis that seems to be creeping up on me from trying to type up all these collage essays."

"Well, I hope you feel better." Setsuna said with a gentle smile. She had her first hook.

"Um… why exactly am I here?" Minako asked, a bit confused. Setsuna had called and told her to come over immediately, saying only that it had to do with their 'project'.

"I'm going to give you your first lesson in the art of seduction: finding perfectly innocent ways to touch your intended vic… er, partner."

Minkao's heart was pounding. True, this was what she wanted… well, she thought so anyway, but to actually start taking steps forward in a plan to seduce her best friend?

Setsuna's softly spoken command cut through her internal battle over the ethics of her decision.

"Sit down on the couch, and take off your shirt."

"What! I though you were going to show me some 'perfectly innocent ways' to touch Rei… I don't call stripping perfectly innocent!"

The garnet eyed woman sighed deeply.

"Rei suffers from tendonitis. I'm going to show you a massage technique that you can do for her that will ease the pain, but it doesn't work through clothing, and I need full access to your forearms."

Though hesitant, Minako slowly removed her shirt and sat on the couch where Setsuna directed.

Following the younger blonde, Setsuna spoke slowly, in soft tones in an effort to calm the obviously nervous girl.

"This shouldn't be to hard for you to pull off… all you have to do is notice Rei rubbing her wrist or the like, and mention that you used to suffer from tendonitis. She'll bring hers up, and you can tell her about a technique one of the girls on your volleyball team showed you. After she takes off her shirt, move very slowly, no sudden moves that might scare her."

Setsuna followed her own advice by moving slowly to join Minako on the couch. Taking the other girls hand, she looked her in the eye as she continued.

"Now that you have her where you want her, keep moving slowly. You don't want her to bolt."

Minako's hand was warm and soft beneath her touch. Exerting gentle pressure, she began rubbing circles into the joint between the thumb and wrist.

"You start here, where the thumb and wrist meet. From there, you slowly work your way along each finger, returning to the thumb/wrist joint before moving on."

As good as her, word, Setsuna worked Minako's hands for several moments in silence. By now, the golden haired beauty had closed her eyes, relaxing into the touch.

"From there, move on to the wrist." Setsuna began lightly brushing her fingers over Minako's wrist, just the barest whisper of fingertips running softly over the sensitive skin.

"Remember… the skin here is very sensitive. A light brush of the fingertips can be extremely pleasant. Alternate fingertip caresses with deeper massage strokes."

Minako's breath had quickened. She almost moaned as she replied.

"Mmm… yeah…. It, it is kind of nice…"

Lowering her voice even further, Setsuna almost whispered as she continued.

"Please turn to your left…"

As Minako turned so that she was almost parallel to the couch, Setsuna slowly brought her left leg up, around the other girl. Letting her hands continue as they were, she gently moved Minako until her legs were straddling Minako's, and the smaller girls back was braced against her chest.

Still not stopping the massage, she placed her lips bare inches from Minako's ear, and whispered.

"Now comes the tough part… changing arms. You have to work both of them, but the first part of the massage isn't quite as… interesting as what's going on now. That's why you have to move Rei around like this, so that you're nearly embracing her. It'll provide a bit of distraction while you build up momentum in the other arm."

She brought Minako's left arm over, across her stomach. Setsuna now had her arms wrapped completely around Minako, with her chin on the other girl's shoulder and her right cheek pressed against Minako's left. Once again, she started working slow circles in the thumb/forefinger joint.

"See? If you move slow enough, and do each step properly, you can work Rei into a position like this… But if you just moved straight into having your arms wrapped around her like this, she'd go all cold and stiff… maybe even start freaking out on you."

"Oh….mmm…. I see…"

Hearing how inarticulate Minako was becoming, Setsuna realized that it was time to back off. Releasing the other girls arm, she gave a final piece of advice.

"And here's the most important step… make a grand finale."

With her arms still wrapped around Minako, she placed her lips against Minako's ear.

"I hope you feel better now Rei…" she whispered softly.

The feel of Setsuna's warm, soft breath in her ear made Minako want to start purring. And then Setsuna placed a gentle kiss against her cheek.

"And then you make your exit, to let Rei sit and think about what just happened."

As good as her word, Setsuna stood and left, leaving Minako to sit for several minutes to regain her composure before she left… for Rei's house.

Rei's brain seemed to be slowly sinking into a thick, warm pool. She'd been a bit surprised when Minako had come over so suddenly, especially since the other girl knew that she was finishing up another essay.

It was even more confusing when Minako had stared at her rubbing her wrist for several long moments, before offering to show her something she had learned from a fellow volley ball player.

Now, if that was confusing, then what was the word for when your best female friend had her arms wrapped around you, and was rubbing you in a way that… well… confusion just didn't seem to cover it.

'This is nice…' Rei though, the words slowly bubbling up out of the thick molasses that seemed to have filled her skull, 'Maybe… to nice?' Just as she was about to say something however, Minako abruptly stopped.

Hugging her tightly, she whispered into Rei's ear.

"Oh Rei… I'm so sorry, but I promised to have lunch with my mother today… I have to go."

Still wrapped in Minako's arms, Rei made a noise of general consent, not feeling capable of much more.

* * *

"Yes?" Setsuna answered the door, surprised by who was waiting outside for her. "Oh… hello Rei… come in."

Rei stepped into the outer senshi mansion almost hesitantly. She wasn't really sure if this was the right thing to be doing, but… she had to do something.

The raven-haired young woman followed her hostess into the living room, where the two took places on the couch.

"So… was there something I could do for you, or is this just a social call?"

A frown crossed Rei's face for a moment before she answered.

"It… well, it's kind of about Minako."

Setsuna just nodded for her to continue.

"She's been acting weird around me for the last couple of days. Then, yesterday…" A blush lit her face in crimson fire. "Well, maybe I misunderstood, but I think she…"

"You think she…?" Setsuna tried to drag the confession out of Rei. She knew very well what Minako had tried yesterday.

"I think she may be misunderstanding our relationship. She's my best friend, but I'm not…"

Still pretending confusion, Setsuna just blinked at Rei as if she had no idea what she was talking about. Though embarrassed beyond belief, Rei managed to choke a final exclamation out.

"I think she tried to seduce me!"

"Oh…" Setsuna said slowly, "Did it work?"

"WHAT!? Are you serious?"

"Well, Minako's a lovely young woman. And its not like you're involved with anyone else right now. What's the big deal?"

Rei was almost sputtering in disbelief now.

"She's a girl, and I'm not a lesbian! I just don't… think about her like that!"

"Mm… that is a problem then, isn't it."

"Yeah… you could say that."

Setsuna shrugged.

"So what do you want me to do?"

"Give me some advice! How the hell am I supposed to deal with this!?"

"First thing, calm down. Now, your problem with this whole thing is that you think Minako is attracted to you, and its wierding you out. I assume that you'd rather not hurt her feelings, but you don't want to be uncomfortable around your best friend."

"That's right…" Rei responded slowly.

"All right. I'll think about it… for now, just play cool. If Minako makes anymore moves on you, just play along until you start to get to uncomfortable, and then GENTLY break away. Don't do anything rash… you could hurt her very badly. Just… be gentle. A first love is a delicate thing, and if Minako's gotten bold enough to actually make physical advances toward you, she's probably head over heals for you. If you freak out and push her away, you might wound her heart in a way that would stick with her forever."

As soon as Rei left, Setsuna was at the phone.

"Minako? It's Setsuna… do you have plans tomorrow?"

"Michiru? Can I come in?" Setsuna stood outside the artist's bedroom door, awaiting her invitation.

"Oh course Setsuna. Something I can do for you?"

"Actually, I have a… personal question."

"Alright…"

"You were with a couple of men before you met Haruka, weren't you?"

Michiru was stunned. What was Setsuna thinking?

"I.. Well, yes…"

"Um… how… how different is it to kiss a gir… to kiss Haruka than it is to kiss a guy?"

Deciding to answer, Michiru replied,

"Well, a little different. I mean, I suppose in one sense, lips are lips. But the big difference is hard to explain. Kissing a girl is… softer. It can be just as passionate, just as hungry, but in general, kissing a girl is a much more… intimate experience than kissing a boy."

"How… what do you mean?"

"Women are more… open with their emotions, for the most part. Even if their face doesn't tell you, their lips always manage to say 'I love you'. That's not to say men can't do that, its just that… well, it's hard to explain…"

Setsuna shook her head.

"No, no… thank you. That helps… a little…"

"Well…" Michiru said to the empty air after Setsuna had left. "That was odd…"

It was with a decided feeling of dread that Rei stepped up to Minako's bedroom door. The small blonde had called her, practically in tears, and begged her to come over. There was no way that this could be good.

She told herself to shut up, and knocked.

"Come in…"

Minako was sitting on the edge of her bed, her face red and tear streaked.

"Oh Minako… what's wrong? Are you ok?" Rei sat on the bed next to her friend, concern washing away her earlier apprehension.

"You know how my mom said that she was going away on a business trip, and that we could use the house while she was gone?"

Rei nodded, blushing slightly. It had been clear what Katori thought they were going to use the house for.

"She lied. She's going to the hospital for three days. She…" Minako couldn't even finish before bursting into tears again. Rei wrapped her arms around the weeping woman, and gently stroked her hair.

"Shh… I'm sure she's going to be ok Mina…"

Minako sniffled. "You've never called me that before."

"What? Oh… calling you Mina…sorry…"

Tilting her head up within Rei's embrace, Minako smiled brightly.

"No… I like it. It isn't as formal as you always calling me Minako… It makes us seem closer."

Setsuna's words echoed in Rei's mind.

'Be gentle… don't do anything rash… you could hurt her…' Before Rei could say anything, however, Minako pulled away. So, rather than continue down that rather uncomfortable thread of conversation, Rei changed the subject.

"So… why's your mother going to the hospital?"

"That's another reason I wanted you to come over. She –my mother- is having a cyst removed from her breast. It's benign, and pretty small, but still… It got me thinking. How would I know if I had… cancer or something? That kind of thing runs in families…"

"Uh… Minako? Cysts are pretty common, and not really anything to worry about. But since you are worried, just do a 'self exam'."

Minako chewed her lip and lowered her gaze in the way Rei knew meant she was about to ask something uncomfortable.

"I… don't really know how."

Rei opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the ringing of the phone. Minako walked into the kitchen to answer, while Rei sat on the bed and tried to think of someway to get out of what she knew was coming next. Minako stepped into the room, still holding the phone receiver.

"Rei? It's my mom… do you think you could come back tomorrow and… finish this with me?"

Sighing deeply as she stood up, Rei answered in a nearly toneless voice.

"Sure Minako… tomorrow afternoon."

* * *

Rei paced about her bedroom for a few minutes before the weight of inevitability came crashing down on her.

"I can't deal with this on my own… I better call Setsuna…"

The phone rang a few times before someone answered.

"Hello?"

"Hi Setsuna… this is Rei. Um… Minako and I… well… could I come over? I have another one of those things I need to discuss with you…"

The other end of the line was silent for a long moment before Setsuna answered.

"Yeah… come on over. I know what to do about this Minako thing."

A short hour later, Rei was standing outside of the outer senshi's house. A knock on the door inspired an immediate invitation inside. Rei entered, and closed the door behind herself.

"I'm in my bedroom Rei… come on in…"

'What the hell is going on here?' Rei thought to herself. As soon as she had entered the house, something seemed wrong. It was quiet for one thing… far too quiet. But, regardless, she entered Setsuna's bedroom.

The older woman reached around her, closing – and locking- the door.

"Setsuna, what…?"

The garnet eyed woman, her arm still around Rei where she had reached around to the doorknob, smiled and leaned a bit closer.

"I know exactly how to deal with this thing with Minako…" She whispered, just before she leaned a bit further forward and began passionately kissing Rei.

Oh no! A cliff hanger! –laughs a bit- Ok… this fic is getting a little bigger than I thought, so I'm breaking it into two pieces. Hold on folks… the end is just around the corner. For this series at least…