Author's Note: This fic was written in response to a challenge by Jonath Lee to pair Hida Iori with Chibiusa. Now normally I wouldn't do anything to break up Chibiusa/Helios, but what can I say? I can't resist a challenge. The concept of Sora being able to see the bonds between soulmates is borrowed from Cynthia, Piedmon's Lady with her permission. The 'Kaioshin' mentioned in Helios' thoughts is from the Dragonball Z series, and in America is better known as the 'Supreme Kai.'
And no, you're not imagining it; the last line is from the Madeline series of books.
By: Lady Iapetus
The halls of the Crystal Palace in Crystal Tokyo were normally quiet this time of day. All of its inhabitants were off attending to some errand or another; even the King and Queen had their own business to attend to.
Which was why Princess Small Lady "Chibiusa" Serenity was able to run through its halls practically in hysterics, unnoticed. She was glad of this fact, too. Her hair was a mess, tear trails were staining her face and she'd felt for sure she'd ripped part of her dress when she had almost tripped. Had anyone seen her, Small Lady would most certainly have been given a lecture on conduct unbecoming of a princess.
"Not fair. It's not fair," she repeated over and over, slipping into a small alcove in the wall and sitting down. Why was it that her friends got all the luck while she was blockaded at every turn?
"Hey. Is everything all right?" a voice above her asked. The princess turned a tear-stained face upward to acknowledge whoever was speaking to her. A young man, about nine or ten years her senior with grayish-brown hair was looking down at her. He was dressed in an outfit similar to the ones Rei-san, her grandfather and Yuuichirou-san wore to temple, except it was covered in armor of some sort. In one hand he carried a wooden bokken and a wire facemask. His emerald-green eyes all but radiated curiosity.
Usa recognized him, but couldn't match a name with the face. She knew that his grandfather taught kendo and other forms of sword play to those training to be in her father's army and that this boy was gradually taking up the reins and one day would be sensei.
Hida Iori stood in the hallway uneasily, wondering if he had offended the princess in any way. He had been walking back down to his private suite to change out of his practice gi when he had heard someone crying and stopped to help.
"Um, I'm sorry if I've offended you," the 26 year-old asked, tearing himself away from her ruby-red eyes. It had always been easy to lose himself in her eyes, even when Iori had been nine and Small Lady just a baby. Now that had been embarrassing, dealing with teasing from Takeru and Daisuke about falling in love with a baby.
"Literal cradle-robbing," the Child of Hope had kidded him at the time.
The princess shook her head, knuckling tears away from her eyes. "No. No, you didn't do anything wrong, um..."
"Iori," Iori supplied.
"Iori-san," Usa continued without missing a beat. "I'm all right, really."
Iori studied her for a moment. "Are you sure, Usagi-hime? No offense intended, but you didn't seem all right a few minutes ago. Why were you crying?"
Usa sighed. "My boyfriend--Helios--and I, we...we broke up."
This revelation made Iori pause. For as long as he or anyone else had known Princess Usagi and Helios, the priest of Elysion, had been a couple. The rumor mill around Crystal Tokyo had Helios pegged as the next King of the world when Usa inherited the throne from her mother.
"What happened?" Iori asked, unable to contain his curiosity and flinching the moment the words left his mouth. To his surprise Usa didn't really seem to mind; she just shrugged.
"We haven't been able to see much of each other, really," Usa explained. "After all, I'm here and he's in Elysion. And we both agreed that-that a long-distance relationship just wasn't working out. That it would be better for both of us in the long run if we were just friends."
"Hm." Iori nodded sagely. "I know how you feel, believe me; I've been there."
Usa looked at him in mild surprise. "You broke up with your girlfriend over distance?"
Iori shook his head. "Not girlfriend; fiancée. And she broke up with me." This succeeded in causing the princess' eyebrows to rise almost all the way off of her head. "I was so angry that Noriko would just cut me off like that, especially when she started dating Ken not six months after she'd broken our engagement, and moved into the palace to be with him."
"Kawada-sensei?" Usa gaped, recalling the name of one of her childhood teachers. Iori nodded. She winced in sympathy. "I'll bet that did hurt. But I didn't expect it to hurt so much since Helios-kun and I both agreed to end our relationship."
"Calling it quits always hurts both parties involved, Usagi-hime," Iori replied. "Just ask any of the other Chosen, or the Senshi. It's a fact of life. And at least Noriko-chan and I were able to remain good friends." He grinned, remembering the last gathering of the Chosen Children that had taken place. He'd been the only single Chosen there; even Daisuke had been able to tear Hotaru away from her duties at the palace for a day off.
"Hai, I know," Usa said. She had seen Noriko and Iori around the palace talking and joking with each other as friends often did. The knowledge that they had once been engaged and had remained friends even after the break-up gave her new confidence about her future without Helios. If I'm lucky enough, maybe I'll find someone like Iori-san to spend the rest of my life with. She giggled quietly, envisioning herself ruling one day with Iori by her side.
She stood, smoothing out any wrinkles in her gown and running a hand through her cotton-candy hair. "Thank you for your kind words, Iori-san. I'm feeling better now."
"Glad to hear it, Your Highness," Iori said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my suite and change for dinner."
"Of course," Usa said. The two of them started walking towards opposite ends of the hallway. About halfway to her destination Usa stopped and turned around, watching Iori's retreating figure. Oh, what the hell? Go for it! her subconscious urged. "Iori-san?" she called.
Iori stopped and looked over his shoulder. "Hai, Usagi-hime?"
"Would you...would you like to go out for ice cream later? After dinner maybe?" the princess asked.
This request stunned the young kendo master. "Uh, sure!" he agreed.
Usa beamed. "Great! See you then!" Then she turned and ran the rest of the way down the corridor, albeit at a more cheerful pace than earlier. Iori continued towards his own home at a more sedate pace, wondering just what had made him accept a date with the princess.
By the time the dinner hour was over nearly the entire castle had heard of Helios and Small Lady's break-up. Nearly half of those had heard about the young grandson of Hida Chikara taking her out for ice cream later that evening...including Usa's parents and the other Chosen that resided in the Crystal Palace.
"Now, you're sure that this boy's intentions towards you are honorable, Usa-chan?" Endymion asked as he and Serenity watched their daughter get ready to go out. She had changed out of her gown into something more suited for walking the streets of Crystal Tokyo, as they were leaving the palace, and was making sure that her hair was done up all right.
"Papa!" Usa exclaimed, turning away from the mirror. "I already told you, this isn't a date. This is just my way of repaying Iori-san for his kindness to me earlier."
"Whatever you say, Sweetheart," the king hastily replied. He arched an eyebrow at his wife who merely shrugged at him, smiling.
The doorchime to their suite sounded, and Usa practically leapt off of her stool. "That's Iori-san!" she exclaimed, hurrying to the door. The Look she shot her parents practically begged them not to embarrass her.
True to her prediction Iori was standing there when she opened the door. He was dressed in a burgundy turtlenecked shirt and a pair of jeans, a leather jacket slung over his shoulder. "Konban wa, Usagi-hime," Iori greeted her, bowing. He caught sight of her parents and bowed to them as well. "Endymion-sama, Serenity-sama."
"Good evening, Iori-san," the royal couple greeted him. Endymion inquired, "So where will you be taking our daughter this evening?"
"Just to the ice cream parlor a couple blocks from the palace," the young man answered. "We won't be out too late, I promise."
Endymion nodded. "And you won't do anything to hurt her?"
"Papa!" Usa hissed.
Iori looked Endymion straight in the face, his own expression grave. "I wouldn't dream of it, sir."
"Good lad," Endymion said. Then with a smile he added, "Have fun, you two."
"Say hello to Unazuki-chan and Umino-kun if you see them," Serenity added. Usa nodded and the two of them left the suite, waving. Endymion closed the door behind them, then turned to his wife.
"Well? What do you think?" he asked.
"It's about time," Serenity said. At her husband's look of surprise she added, "I've been expecting this ever since Sora-chan told me of the bond she saw between them." With those words she went to her private study and closed the door, leaving a surprised Endymion standing in the middle of the living room thinking over what she had just told him.
* * *
Fortunately Crown's wasn't very busy when Usa and Iori reached it. There were a few kids there, students from Iori's grandfather's kendo class, and they paid little attention to the princess and her escort.
"I'm glad you could come with me tonight, Iori-san," Usa said shyly, her hands playing with the spoon to her sundae. She had been picking at it, unlike her mother who at her age would have had the entire thing eaten in about four minutes flat.
"I'm glad you invited me, Usagi-hime," Iori returned the compliment. "I haven't gotten to spend much time with you now that I've been helping Grandfather out with his dojo more." At the princess' mystified look he chuckled. "You probably don't remember, do you?"
"Remember what?" Usa asked. He began to laugh a little harder, causing her to pout and shove him a little. "Iori-san! Remember what?"
"When you were younger, I mean really little, whenever your parents needed a baby-sitter for you they'd usually pick me," Iori answered. "Mom would bring me by your family's suite and we'd hang out together. Usually doing what you wanted to do."
Usa looked down at her hands again. "I think I remember that," she said. "Yeah. You were always fun to play with. You came up with better stuff to do than my other baby-sitters." Iori blushed at the compliment. She then looked at him curiously. "Iori-san, you always used to call me 'Chibiusa-chan.' Why don't you do that anymore?"
Iori blinked; what had brought this on? "Well, begging your pardon but you aren't a little girl anymore, Usagi-hime," he answered. "And I do have to show some respect for you now, don't I?"
"You can call me Chibiusa-chan, or Usa-chan, if you'd like Iori-san," Usa answered. "I don't mind."
"Thank you...Usa-chan," Iori smiled.
The pair sat in Crown's for over an hour, picking at their respective desserts and making small talk. The solemn young kendo master and the pink-haired princess discovered that they had a lot more in common than they had originally thought. They talked so much that Unazuki herself ended up gently kicking them out of the ice cream parlor/arcade.
Both were a bit surprised to discover how reluctant they were to return to the palace. So Iori blithely suggested that they take a longer way back, and Usa agreed. It was inevitable that they passed by other pedestrians on their way back. Some remarked on their ages, wondering how the King and Queen could let their daughter date a man ten years older than she. One woman even stopped them and started to reprimand Iori, but a quick "Royal Glare" from the princess stopped her cold and started her on her way again.
Finally they were back at the palace, back at the door to the royal family's suite. "Arigato, Iori-san," Usa said quietly. "I had a nice time."
"You're welcome, Usa-chan," Iori replied. "I'm glad you asked me. We'll have to do it again sometime." Before either one realized it Iori was bending his head down towards her, she had hers facing up at him and their lips were briefly touching.
Then their eyes flew open and they backed away from each other slightly, as if someone had run an electric current through them both. "G-gomen nasai!" Iori exclaimed almost frantically. "I didn't mean to- that is, I didn't think--"
"Iori-san! Iori, it's all right," Usa interrupted his babble. "I...I didn't mind that."
Usa shook her head. "Actually I, um, I kinda enjoyed it."
"Hai," Usa said softly. Ruby eyes gazed into emerald ones for quite a long time before the sound of a door shutting (although the person shutting it obviously was trying to do so as quietly as he or she could) broke the spell. "I think someone's trying to tell us something," the pink-haired girl giggled.
"I think you're right, Usa-chan," Iori agreed. "Well...goodnight. I'll see you tomorrow okay?"
Small Lady grinned. "Okay. Until then, Iori-san."
Three Months Later...
Helios sighed to himself as he tried to peer over the shoulders of the people in front of him, searching for his pink-haired maiden. Although the young priest was a good height for his apparent physical age he wasn't as tall as most males, a fact which irked him at times. Thank goodness I'm not as short as some, he said to himself, and grinned as his thoughts momentarily shifting to his good friend the Kaioshin.
"Helios-san?" a voice to his right said. He turned his head to see Usa standing there, dressed in the pink gown she generally reserved for functions such as this ball. Just as beautiful as ever, he thought. "What are you doing here?"
"Your father invited me," the white-haired priest answered. "Also I-I wanted to see you again, Small Lady." Time away from her when they had been together had been slightly unbearable, but three months without her in that way had been pure hell.
Before Helios could say anymore the music began and the king and queen took the floor. This was to signify the ball's beginning, and after Serenity and Endymion had had their dance alone Small Lady would choose a partner, thus signifying that other couples could take the floor. The priest and the princess watched as they danced together, oblivious to nothing else but the love that existed between them.
As the orchestra began another song Chibiusa recognized her cue. "If you'll excuse me--"
"Small Lady, may I--" he said at the same time. "Oh sorry, go ahead," they both chorused, then laughed in embarrassment.
Fortunately an interruption came in the form of a young man with green eyes and brown hair, dressed in a tuxedo of deep burgundy. He bowed low before the princess and said, "Your Highness, would you do me the honor of having this dance?"
"I would be honored, Iori-kun," Usa replied, taking his proffered elbow and allowing him to lead her out onto the dance floor. Helios felt his heart sink when he saw how close the two of them were and how they gazed into each other's eyes, the way he and Usa one had. Here he had come to ask for another chance, and she had found another.
"Don't they look great together?" Helios overheard someone murmur to somewhere else. The speaker was a young man, a couple years older than the one dancing with Small Lady, with blonde hair. Standing beside him was another man roughly the same age with cinnamon-red hair.
"Sure do," the red-haired man replied. "So, Takeru-san, where're your cradle-robbing comments now?"
"Ha ha, Daisuke," Takeru said dryly. "I am happy for them, though. They're a good pair. And I don't doubt that Iori'll make a decent king when the time comes."
Daisuke shook his head with a laugh. "I wonder if Mrs. Hida has gotten over that shock yet," he remarked.
So, Helios thought, that clinched it. His maiden had gone and chosen someone else. Surprisingly, what he felt was not anger but more like a settling of his emotions. Usa had found someone that made her happy, happier than Helios ever could. He would always have her friendship and the memories of their relationship to treasure forever, but her heart was no longer his to share. But he wasn't angry.
Several minutes later Usa and Iori finally managed to get off the dance floor. The first thing they did, at Small Lady's insistence, was to find Helios. As usual, it seemed, they didn't find him; instead Helios came to them.
"Helios, I'm so sorry. I--" Usa began to apologize, but Helios raised a hand.
"You have no need to apologize, Maiden," Helios replied. "I understand, and I wish the both of you the best of luck."
Iori protectively took one of Usa's hands in his. "You don't have to worry," the young man said. "I would never do anything to harm her."
Helios nodded. "I know. Thank you, Iori-san. Thank you for making my maiden happy." With that he bowed to the both of them, turned and walked away.
"Helios-san," Usa said quietly.
"He'll be all right," Iori assured her.
Through the course of the night, it seemed that Iori's prediction came true. Usa and Helios shared a couple dances, as friends and nothing else, but the rest of the night she belonged to Iori, and he became a number on the dance cards of several young women at the ball.
As the evening drew to a close the crowd grew tired and started to disperse. Helios had left some time ago, although not alone. Usa had to admit it was a bit amusing to find Helios in Ceres' company. Finally Iori and Usa left as well.
"I had a wonderful time tonight, Iori-kun," Usa said as they stood at her door.
"As did I, Usa-chan," Iori agreed. He bent his head and the two of them shared a kiss, this one longer and deeper than the first one they had shared after ice cream. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Hai," she answered softly. He nodded, smiling, then turned and headed to his suite for the night. Usa stood watching until he turned the corner out of her line of vision before entering her suite and shutting the door.
And that's all there is. There isn't anymore.