Author notes: Oh my lanta, a new story-ish thing!

Outings

There was a nearly imperceptible spring in Hino Rei's step as she ventured down the stairs into Crown Karaoke, towards the secret door that was still visible to her after so many years. She had never quite understood why it remained, since the world had been saved after all—a couple of times, actually—but it was hardly something to complain about.

"Rei-chan, wait up!"

Rei halted at the bottom of the steps and turned to greet her friend. "Ami-chan! You managed to escape from the hospital for a few hours?"

The young doctor smiled broadly and pushed her glasses further up the bridge of her nose. "I have a rare day off. Although I am on call, so I might have to leave at a moment's notice." She fell into step beside Rei. "How are you doing, Rei-chan?"

"I'm keeping fairly busy, although I hardly have the schedule that a hospital director does. Congratulations, by the way." Rei grinned at the reddish tinge creeping across Ami's cheeks. "Was your mother over the moon when you told her?"

Ami's face grew even redder. "She was even more excited than Usagi-chan was."

Rei paused a moment, trying to picture Ami's dignified, studious mother shrieking and jumping around, and promptly burst into laughter. "Wow," she managed after a moment. "I'm having trouble visualizing that, but if you say it happened—"

"Rei-chan, I witnessed it, and I'm still in disbelief about it." Ami giggled. "I was pretty excited myself, to be honest."

"Well, you should be, Ami-chan. You've earned this. It's too bad we can't throw a party for you yet though. I think Usagi's developing a nervous twitch about it."

Ami sighed. "I know, but I'm liable to be called away in the middle of it, and that wouldn't be fair to her."

"Yeah." Rei nodded in agreement. "Minako still feels terrible about the last time she got called away in the middle of a welcome back party—she says she made Shacho swear up down and sideways that he won't call her today. …What?"

There was a faintly bemused smile on Ami's face that made Rei feel inexplicably nervous. Ami didn't know, did she? Rei swallowed at the thought. It wasn't possible. They'd been so careful

"You've spoken to Minako-chan already?" Ami asked, still smiling.

The smile meant nothing, Rei told herself. Nothing. Coincidence.

They showed their passes to the young man working behind the counter. Apparently Motoki also had a rare day off. Rei used the momentary distraction to gather her thoughts.

"Sh-she talked to me when she got back, yeah." Rei left out the part where Minako had crept through her open bedroom window long after night had fallen, and had crawled into bed with the sleeping priestess. Rei had thought she was dreaming when the sensation of Minako's fingers idly playing with her hair had awoken her before dawn. She swallowed a grin at the memory of what had followed.

"You two are very close," Ami commented, and Rei nearly stumbled as she reached for the secret doorway's handle.

"W-well, she—we—I—" Rei stopped pulling the door open at the sound of Usagi's voice emanating from the room below.

"—thought I called Minako-chan's phone but Rei-chan answered! I thought maybe I'd just dialled the wrong number. So then I tried again and the second time Minako-chan answered. But the numbers were the same both times in my phone! Isn't that weird?"

Rei gasped softly and swore under her breath, remembering that phone call. Both she and Minako had attempted to ignore the ringtone, much preferring to focus on their reunion, but to no avail. When the phone had sounded again after Rei had growled at Usagi for calling so early, the priestess was nearly ready to snap the stupid thing into pieces. She hadn't realized it had been Minako's phone ringing both times.

"Rei-chan, are you going inside?"

Rei jumped in surprise at the question and pulled the door open wider.

"Heeeey, Rei-chan! Fancy meeting you here!" Makoto's voice sounded entirely too cheerful as Rei reluctantly entered the karaoke room.

Usagi looked somewhat guilty at having been caught gossiping about her friends, while Makoto on the other hand appeared very pleased about something. Rei was sure that she could see the gears turning in the other woman's head when their gazes met. She didn't like the knowing look that was creeping onto Makoto's face one bit. It reminded her too much of Ami's earlier expression.

"Rei-chan? Are you going down?" Ami's voice startled her so badly that she had to fling out a hand and grasp the railing. She had already forgotten that the other woman was right behind her.

"I—I, yeah. I—" Rei practically sprinted down the stairs and sat on the comfortable couch next to the table. She dared another glance at Makoto.

No, she definitely didn't like what she saw there. Rei bit her lip.

"What were you two talking about?" Ami asked, pulling out her chair and sitting down.

"Usagi-chan was just telling me how she called Minako-chan's phone this morning, but someone else answered."

Rei's nails nearly punctured the upholstery at the way Makoto was grinning.

Ami looked very interested. "Oh, is Minako-chan keeping a boyfriend from us?"

"No, not a boyfriend. But she was definitely with someone. At a very early hour. An hour that would suggest they had spent the night together." Her eyes darted to Rei's, twinkling mischievously.

Rei supposed murdering Makoto would be a dead giveaway. She took a deep breath. If she could just keep herself calm, she could surely come up with a cover story if they asked. God, where was Minako when she needed her? The woman was an actress, for god's sake. If anyone could lie their way out of this, she could.

Ami turned to Rei, who was concentrating on inhaling and exhaling."Not a boyfriend? Then who—Rei-chan? Has Minako-chan mentioned anything to you? I know you two are very close."

"They sure are," Makoto muttered. Definite understanding was glimmering in her eyes. Every curse word Rei had ever heard in her life was dancing across her mind's eye, screaming in her head.

Usagi looked bewildered. "Mako-chan, what are you talking about? Ami-chan, I accidentally dialled Rei-chan's number when I was trying to reach Minako-chan, but it was weird because the number was the same both times in my phone. I checked after because I thought I'd just hit the wrong button. Right, Rei-chan?" Usagi smiled sweetly.

She really had no idea.

Makoto and Ami exchanged a look. Rei's fingertips met the interior of the couch cushion. She'd torn through the covering. She squeezed her eyes shut, knowing she was bright red.

"Rei-chan?" Usagi sounded concerned. "Do you feel sick or something? Maybe you should lie down."

"She's probably just tired from being up so late," Makoto said.

Rei finally snapped. She leapt to her feet, making Usagi squeak with fright.

"That's it, Makoto! I get it! You know I was with Minako last night! Satisfied?"

"It's not my satisfaction that matters, Rei-chan. The question is if Minako-chan was—AGH!"

Rei had grasped the collar of Makoto's shirt with both hands, her teeth bared. "So help me, Makoto, I will find a way to resummon my senshi powers and set you on fire if you say one more word. Barring that, a gas can and a match. Not. A. WORD."

Makoto did a remarkable impression of a fish before Usagi's plaintive voice spoke up.

"Rei-chan! You and Minako-chan had a slumber party without us?"

There was a brief silence, followed by Makoto bursting into wild laughter, despite how close Rei's hands still were to her throat.

"Okay, what have I missed?"

At the familiar voice, Rei's fury evaporated. She turned her head to see Minako—who looked highly amused—standing at the top of the stairs.

Rei released Makoto's shirt and straightened up. "M-Minako—" She couldn't help smiling a bit as her lover descended the staircase, and unless she was very much mistaken, there was a similar expression on Minako's features.

"MINAKO-CHAN!" Usagi burst from her seat to give the idol an enthusiastic hug. "How come you and Rei-chan had a slumber party without us?"

Minako pulled back and stared at their friend in confusion. "Slumber party? Usagi-chan, what're you talking about?"

"Rei-chan said she was with you last night! Why didn't you invite the rest of us?"

The idol's eyes grew surprised and she stepped away from Usagi, shifting her gaze toward Rei. "You told them?"

"Um, n-not exactly. They—k-kind of found out, because—well—" Rei felt herself growing defensive. "—if-if just you'd remembered to turn your stupid phone off—"

Minako looked as though she was about to fire back a retort when her eyes widened with realization. "Oh!" Her cheeks turned bright red. "Oops."

Rei buried her face in the palm of her hand and swore under her breath.

Then, amazingly, Minako started giggling and took hold of Rei's other hand. "I suppose they had to find out about us sooner or later—"

Makoto's jaw fell open. "'Us?' You mean, you two are—holy sh—y-you're really—? Holy sh—"

"So how long has this been going on?" Ami asked, drowning out the rest of Makoto's eloquent response. The young doctor looked only mildly surprised by the news.

Minako leaned her head against Rei's shoulder. "For awhile."

Rei couldn't help a sheepish, pleased grin.

Usagi, meanwhile, was gaping at their joined hands, unusually quiet.

"Usagi-chan?" Minako's voice was soft. "Are you okay?"

Their princess stared a moment longer, silent, before nodding once. "I see now why—why Minako-chan didn't invite the rest of us." Her smile returned as she looked up and met their nervous gazes. "And also why Rei-chan was so grouchy when I called."

Makoto's whoop of laughter made Rei wonder if it was scientifically possible to die of embarrassment. She didn't have time to dwell on it, however, as Usagi grabbed her and Minako in an ecstatic hug, nearly knocking their heads together in the process.

O~O~O

Awhile later, long after the excitement of their unplanned announcement had died down, Rei and Minako found themselves alone in their old headquarters.

Ami had, unsurprisingly, been called away to the hospital—"It's your own fault for being so damn good at what you do," Makoto chuckled as the young doctor departed with a smile and a wave—and before long, Usagi realized that Mamoru was due to come home soon and she thought she should be there to greet him, causing Makoto to make some crack about Usagi wearing nothing but a smile when she did. Usagi had positively glowed with embarrassment at the remark—but then Rei smirked and muttered something about Motoki and aprons, making the former Jovian warrior turn very red as Minako and Usagi roared with laughter.

Then, not long after their princess had departed, Makoto had stood up from the table and stretched, declaring, with a wink, that Rei's idea about the apron was a most excellent one. With that, she sauntered up the stairs of their headquarters, whistling cheerily as she pulled open the secret door.

"You two behave yourselves now," Makoto had grinned, and shut the door before Rei had a chance to respond.

For a few moments, it was as though they were teenagers again, as an awkward silence descended between the two women, both of them at a loss for words.

"So—" Minako started.

At the exact same time, Rei said, "Well—"

They immediately started giggling.

Rei took hold of Minako's hand and gave it a squeeze. "So they know."

"Yeah. I guess we didn't need to worry so much about how they'd take it." Minako laced her fingers through Rei's and squeezed back. "And Artemis will be glad that he can finally tell Luna. Although, considering his ability at keeping secrets from her, she's probably known for as long as he has."

Rei nodded her agreement. "You think they'll all keep their word about staying quiet?" Their friends' reaction to the two women being together was one thing, but the reaction of Minako's fans was quite another.

"I'd say the secret's safe for now. You looked pretty terrifying when I walked in earlier."

Rei smirked. "Your timing was perfect. I think you averted a homicide."

"Really? Maybe I should go into law enforcement." Minako's smile turned devious. "Free handcuffs."

"…Oh my god, Mina." Rei had lost track of how many times she had blushed since arriving at Crown earlier. Minako's remark made her feel almost feverish.

The idol quivered with laughter, her own cheeks becoming rather rosy. "I suppose my fame would make it difficult to do undercover work, though. Alas, I guess I'll have to stick to stardom." After a moment, she tugged at Rei's hand. "Hey. You still there, Reiko?"

"Huh?" Rei shook herself out of a daze. Between Minako's talk of handcuffs, a mental picture of the idol in uniform, and something about being under covers had Rei's mind otherwise occupied.

Minako snickered. "Still tired from me waking you so early?"

At that, Rei stood up so fast that she knocked her chair over. Minako stared in surprise as she was pulled to her feet.

"Rei—what—"

Rei's hands grasped Minako's waist. "The couch," she growled. "Now." She didn't give Minako time to argue.

From the sound the idol made when their mouths connected, protesting was the furthest thing from her mind.

O~O~O

After a good hour of heated kisses and light petting had passed, the two women finally paused for some air. Minako's voice was rather breathless as she ran her fingertips along her lover's jaw line. "What is it with you and making out on couches, Reiko?" she asked. "Not that I'm complaining."

Rei chuckled, remembering a time in Minako's living room that had nearly led them down the path that she very much hoped to take with the singer soon—but perhaps not on a karaoke room couch.

"You would have preferred against the wall, Minako? Our legs would get tired."

The idol smiled in a way that made Rei's heart beat erratically. "Mine wouldn't. They'd be wrapped around you."

Rei swallowed.

Minako had done just that, as she sat in Rei's lap, her legs holding their bodies impossibly close. Meanwhile, Rei had been completely at the mercy of Minako's mouth and hands, and had loved every second of it. She could still feel her skin tingling in countless places—and then there was that relentless heat. It had flared to life that morning when she woke to find Minako in bed beside her. If not for Usagi's phone calls, they might have—they might have

The buzzing of a cell phone interrupted her thoughts. "I will destroy them all," Rei grumbled, and Minako kissed her cheek.

"Just make sure that's actually your own phone before you answer it, Reiko."

Rei made a face at her lover and checked the display. "Yours."

Minako blinked. "How did my phone end up in your pocket?"

"It was in the couch cushion. I think." Rei noticed for the first time that her shirt was halfway up her stomach, and felt another flare of heat when she hurriedly tugged it down.

I don't know how much longer I can take this, she thought. Sensual dreams had become a nightly occurrence, and gazing into the fire only brought forth visions that centred on rumpled bed sheets and the sight of a certain singer gazing up at Rei, intense want in her eyes.

She found herself suddenly contemplating the possibility of the karaoke couch after all.

Meanwhile, Minako finished her phone call. "Well, technically the party's over, so I don't have to kill Shacho too hard for calling me into the studio."

Rei scowled. "Seriously?"

The idol nodded. "Maybe we can pick up again later on a different couch. The one at my apartment, perhaps?"

Rei's scowl vanished.

O~O~O

"Ah, Rei, there you are." Rei looked up from the leaves she was sweeping and bowed as her sensei approached. "Would you mind running a few errands for me in town? It's nothing terribly pressing, but I thought you might like a rest from cleaning the grounds."

Rei smiled with relief and thanked her teacher for the break.

She hadn't been able to stop thinking about Minako and a certain penthouse apartment couch even once since returning to Hikawa, and welcomed the prospect of a distraction. She was quick to change back into her regular clothes and hurried off towards the shopping district, hoping some of her pent-up frustration would wear off. It was doubtful however.

Rei had the feeling that there was only one cure for it…

She sighed. Patience, she thought. It'll be worth waiting for.

The distant rumble of thunder startled Rei out of her wayward thoughts.

O~o~o~o~O

Author notes tul: this is exactly why I can never finish longer stories. I can't write anything in chronological order to save my life. Also, I started this one I don't even know how long ago, and I have never been able to think of an ending—with the result that the ending really isn't an ending. But it inspired another beginning, one that I might post as a second chapter or a whole other story, from the perspective of our favourite idol singer. Lord knows when you'll get to see it though. We'll see how my muse behaves. She's a fickle one, but dammit, she has some fun ideas.