A/N Hey everybody! I know you are probably scratching your heads because I'm posting a chapter of another story instead of updating the ones I already have going. But, as my Facebook followers know, I've had some stuff going on. I had a nice case of what the doctor is declaring as food poisoning earlier in the summer. After that, I took a couple of trips with the hubby and son. We went back to Memphis to spend some time with family and then went on vacation in east Tennessee, which was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains were phenomenal! When we got back I went in for an outpatient procedure on my arm to fix some residual damage from my wreck last fall, so I've been semi out of commission while it heals. I didn't have any updates for my other stories ready to post yet, so I decided to launch this one ahead of schedule since it was just sitting on my flash drive and already edited. Darien is one of the main characters, so I thought it was fitting since it is his birthday in just a few hours. I hope you like it.
Disclaimer-The brilliant Naoko Takeuchi is responsible for creating Sailor Moon. I just enjoy playing with her characters while sometimes adding in a few of my own.
Summary-We all know the story of the Moon Kingdom's fall. But what if Serenity and Endymion, weren't the only star-crossed couple? This is the story of another couple that paid the ultimate price.
A Star-Crossed Love
21 years ago
It was the middle of the night, and the halls of Tokyo General Hospital were quiet except for the occasional squeak of a rubber soled shoe on the linoleum floor as the nurses made their rounds to check on sleeping patients or the soft murmurs of their voices as they talked at the nurses' station while updating charts.
One of the nurses, a young lady in her early twenties who had only been out of nursing school for a year, gently cracked open the door of the room at the end of the hall so that she could peek in at the room's three occupants.
The woman tucked into the high hospital bed was asleep. But even in the soft glow of the dim lights the nurse could plainly see the bruise-like shadows under the woman's eyes and the paleness of her skin. The patient was clearly exhausted, but that was no surprise. Ilene Tsukino had endured upwards of about thirty-six hours of labor before she had finally given birth to her almost eight and a half pound son. That was enough to almost break even the strongest of people.
A muffled snore came from the other side of the room, and the nurse clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle the giggle that bubbled to her lips at the sight of the fully-grown man who was scrunched up onto the short couch under the window. Ilene had argued with her husband, Ken, earlier, insisting that he would be more comfortable at home in their bed. But he had argued back impassionedly that he wanted to remain with his small family. Ken Tsukino was clearly a man who deeply loved his wife, and he was also completely gaga over his new son. So he had won the battle and bunked in on the tiny couch.
No sound came from the rolling basinet that was only a couple of feet away from the bed, which indicated that the newest addition to the family must be sleeping as well. But just to reassure herself, the nurse eased the door open a bit more and tiptoed across the room.
She looked down at the tightly wrapped bundle in the bassinet and reached down to readjust the little hat that covered the golden fuzz on the baby's head. His round, slightly chubby face screwed up for a moment, so she quickly withdrew her hand, hoping that he didn't wake up. He had just been fed and changed an hour ago after he had been taken to the nursery to be weighed, and she was sure that his parents would love to squeeze in at least a couple of hours of sleep before he woke up again.
Pleased that all seemed to be well here, she slipped quietly back out of the room and pulled the door closed behind her. She made a notation on the chart that she carried as she made her way down the hall to the nurses' station.
"Is everything okay, Jill," an older, slightly overweight nurse asked her as she set the chart in the proper bin.
She nodded. "Everything looks good, Donna. Everyone is resting comfortably at the moment. But I wonder how long it will last."
Donna nodded sagely. "I give it about an hour or so. That will be when the babies that came back from the nursery first will start waking up with empty tummies. Then we'll be running our feet off trying to help all the new mommies get them settled again."
"I don't mind. I kind of look forward to it in a way. This place seems kind of spooky when it's quiet like this," Jill responded with a shiver.
Donna chuckled. "Girl, have you been sitting up on your nights off watching those horror movies again?"
Jill shrugged. "What else is there to do while I'm studying? I don't exactly have a booming social life."
Donna rolled her eyes. "Because you never go anywhere. You should get out more and see what happens. You're young and pretty. The men would be lining up at your door if you did something besides work and stay holed up in your apartment all the time."
"I get out!" Jill protested.
"School doesn't count. I still don't see why you want to become a doctor anyway when you have a brilliant nursing career ahead of you. And neither does the grocery store" Donna snorted. "Actually, I take that back. It may sound cliché, but I met my Joe on the frozen food aisle. We were both shopping for ice cream and reached for the same kind at the same time. We got to talking, and then the next thing I knew he was asking me out. Now, here we are, twenty years later, happily married with two almost grown children."
Jill huffed a tiny laugh. "It sounds like something from a fairytale. It's too bad that it doesn't happen more often. It's a shame that sometimes people get together for all of the wrong reasons."
Donna patted her hand gently. "Honey, I know that your childhood was less than ideal, what with your parents getting married because your momma got pregnant with you. But just because they fought like cats and dogs and eventually got divorced doesn't mean that all relationships turn out like that. If you meet a guy that you're interested in, you should give him a shot. You just might be surprised."
A sly smile turned up Jill's lips. "Well, there is this one guy that works as a trainer at my gym, and I've caught him looking at me a few times. I probably wouldn't say no to him if he asked me out. Even if it turned out to be a short fling, it would be worth it. He is seriously ripped. I bet he could show me a good time."
Both women collapsed into giggles at that proclamation. But their laughter was cut short as a muffled scream echoed down the hallway. Before either of them could blink, the call button for the room at the end of the hall began blinking.
Jill didn't stop to think as she ran around the desk and bolted down the hall. The sound of that scream told her that something was seriously wrong. She was almost to the door when it banged open and a wild-eyed Ken Tsukino flew into the hall.
She gaped for a moment. "Mr. Tsukino! What…"
He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. "Where are they? Where did they go?"
"Who…" she began to ask, but she found herself speaking to the air as he abruptly let her go and sprinted for the door that led to the stairs.
Jill sucked in a few shaky breaths before entering the room that she had just been in not ten minutes before. It was now brightly lit, and Ilene Tsukino stood beside the bassinet clutching a baby blanket to her chest…the empty bassinet.
"Where's the baby?" Jill demanded, looking around, thinking that perhaps he had been laid on the bed or the sofa. But the infant was nowhere to be seen.
Ilene slipped to her knees on the floor as she shuddered with deep, gut wrenching sobs. Finally, she managed to choke, "My baby is gone! Somebody took him!"
Police detective Rick Furuhata grimaced as he took a sip of his now cold coffee. Then he picked up the pad he had been taking notes on and looked at the woman across from him that he had been questioning.
"Okay, Miss Baker, let me make sure that I have the story straight," he rumbled in a slightly gruff voice. He had been called out of bed to cover this case and the caffeine hadn't quite hit him yet. "You were in the victim's room approximately ten minutes before the baby was discovered missing by the parents?"
Jill nodded tiredly. "Yes sir. I was making my hourly rounds."
He scribbled a few words before he continued. "And you actually entered the room?"
She blew her brown bangs off her forehead. "Yes. Mr. and Mrs. Tsukino were both sleeping, so I went in to make a visual check on the baby to make sure that he was okay."
"And was he?" he asked.
"Yes," she answered promptly. "He was sleeping."
"Hmm," he mused as he made another note. "And is it usual protocol for nurses to go into patients' rooms like that? I would think that unless there was medication that needed to be administered or something of that nature that you wouldn't want to take the chance of disturbing your patients' rest."
Jill's dark chocolate colored eyes snapped angrily. "Do you have any children, detective?"
He looked taken aback by the question. "No."
She folded her arms across her chest. "Does anyone else in your family? Have you spent any time around newborns?"
He shrugged. "My brother and his wife don't have any kids yet. I have some friends that have a little boy that's just a baby, but I kind of keep my distance from him. Babies are sort of fragile looking."
She gave a sharp nod. "That is exactly my point. The first few months of a baby's life can be the most dangerous. There can always be some abnormality or birth defect that wasn't detected before that could cause a problem. I'm a firm believer that those factors play a huge part in most SIDS cases."
Rick scratched his head. "Um…SIDS?"
She rolled her eyes. "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. You know, crib deaths. There are thousands of cases reported every year where seemingly healthy infants are unexpectedly found dead in their beds. Doctors have been debating for years about what they believe causes it, but no one knows for sure. So in the cases of when a parent isn't awake to give me verbal confirmation that the baby is okay, I check for myself to give myself peace of mind. It also falls within the hospital's guidelines if you would like to check."
He held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, so you are very thorough when it comes to your job. I can respect that. So you checked on the Tsukinos at approximately ten thirty and found all three of them in the room and sleeping peacefully. Did you happen to see anyone maybe hanging around in the hall when you left?"
She shook her head. "No. Visiting hours were over by then, so there was no one around. I left the room and went back to the nurses' station. I was talking with Donna when we heard Mrs. Tsukino scream about ten minutes later. I ran back to the room and bumped into Mr. Tsukino as he came out. He looked like he was out of his mind and asked me where did they go before he ran off down the staircase."
He nodded. "And the door to the stairs is right across from Mrs. Tsukino's room, correct?"
"Yes. But nobody could have come in that way," Jill answered immediately. "The door can only be opened from the hall. If someone pressed the release lever from inside the stairwell it would trigger the fire alarm unless they had a keycard to bypass the system."
"Which all hospital employees have, Miss Baker," he pointed out.
She gasped. "You think that this was an inside job?"
He shoved a hand through his dark brown hair. "We are exploring all options."
The door to the break room that they had been using opened and a uniformed officer stepped in to speak softly to the detective. "We've gone over every square inch of this hospital and found nada. That baby is not here."
"What about the security tapes?" Rick mumbled low.
The officer shook his head. "Nothing suspicious on them. This is just like the cases we've had at the other two hospitals."
They were barely speaking in whispers, but Jill had very sharp hearing. She perked up immediately. "There have been other cases of babies being kidnapped from hospitals?"
Rick sighed deeply and told the officer, "I still want the tapes bagged as evidence. Maybe the tech guys will be able to find something useful on them."
Then he turned back to Jill. "We've been trying to keep it out of the media to keep from causing a panic, but yes, there have been two other cases of infant abduction from hospitals here in Tokyo in the past month, and a few from other cities in Japan as well. I've been covering the cases here, and I would appreciate it if you kept this information to yourself."
Jill shook her head. "I promise I won't say anything. I wouldn't want to mess things up for you. Just tell me that you will do all that you can to find these missing children."
His green eyes glittered fiercely. "I'm going to do all that I can to run these bastards down. You see, Miss Baker, I'm just as thorough with my job as you are with yours."
3 years later
"Rick, what are you doing here?" Jill asked as she came around the corner, carrying a cup of coffee that she set on the counter of the nurses' station. Her eyes swept over the jeans and t-shirt he was wearing. "You don't look like you are on duty."
He leaned against the counter and grinned, taking in her casual slacks and blouse. "I could say the same about you. Don't you usually wear scrubs when you are working? On top of that, I thought you were working in the ER now."
She stuck her tongue out at him playfully. "I am. But I am here by special request for a very important patient. And I'm assuming you are here for the same reason."
He nodded. "Yep. Normally I wouldn't spend my day off hanging around here, but I couldn't say no when I got the call. Like you said, this is for a very important patient. So how are things?"
Jill grinned. "They're doing fine. Mother and baby are both resting comfortably and daddy dearest is wearing a rut in the floor with all of his pacing."
He lifted a brow at her. "That's nice to know, but I meant you personally."
She shrugged. "I'm good. I miss working up here, but the ER hours work around my schedule better. What about you? How's the family?"
He chuckled. "They're doing fine. My brother and sister-in-law are about two steps away from the nut house trying to deal with their two rugrats, but they're making it."
"I bet those kids are getting so big," Jill sighed. "Andrew's three now, right?"
Rick nodded. "Yep! And Lizzy turned one not long ago. Andy shut the arcade down for a whole afternoon and they threw a huge party for the birthday girl. It was kind of scary actually. Everything was covered in cartoon girls from movies."
Jill stifled a giggle. "You mean the Disney Princesses?"
He snapped his fingers. "Yeah, that was it! Like I said, it was scary. Of course the worst part was listening to my mom go on and on because I showed up alone. She wanted to know where you were."
"Did you explain to her that we're not dating?" she asked.
He rolled his eyes. "Like that works with her. I told her that we were just friends, but she only listens to a fraction of what I say. So how's school going? Aren't you a full-fledged doctor yet?"
She laughed. "Hardly! Going to school only part-time makes things slow going. Luckily the grants and scholarships I got pay for all of that, but I have to keep my job here to pay my bills."
"I know the feeling," he agreed. "Andy offered me his old apartment above the arcade when he and Kathy bought the house, which would save me a ton of money, but I like my peace and quiet. I wouldn't get that living above a busy arcade."
"I guess you wouldn't," she said softly. "Besides, you make enough money to afford your own place. And I seriously doubt that you are going to be quitting your job anytime soon."
He flashed her a dashing smile. "Not as long as there are bad guys out there to catch. So where are the stars of the day at?"
Jill nodded toward the door directly across from the nurses' station. "They're in there. We're keeping them close this time. I know things have been quiet for three years, but never hurts to play it safe."
"Well, well, look what the cat dragged in," drawled a voice as Donna, who was a little rounder and sporting a few more laugh lines, joined them. "I've been seeing you around here a lot in the past couple of years, detective."
He laughed as he gave the motherly woman a one-armed hug. "I have been here quite a bit, haven't I? First Mamoru and Bridget had their little girl, and then Andy and Kathy had Lizzy. And now the person that brought me here for the first time has brought me back again. It must be a small world."
Donna's eyes narrowed behind her glasses. "It would be even smaller if you would find yourself some nice girl to settle down with and popped out a couple of babies too. I keep saying the same thing to Jill, but she never listens to me. She just keeps going on, running herself into the ground with school and work. We have enough doctors running around. Nurses are what we're short of. So she just needs to stay a nurse and get a man in her bed and a baby on her hip. Then I think she will be happy."
"Donna!" Jill hissed in mortification as she slapped her hands over blazing red face.
"Uh…um…I think I'll just leave you ladies to your conversation," Rick stammered as he made a hasty getaway toward the hospital room that Jill had pointed out.
"Was it something I said?" Donna asked innocently.
Jill whirled on her. "Just what was that about?"
The older woman shrugged. "I'm just trying to give the two of you a push in the right direction. You've been dancing around each other for over three years now, and you're not getting any younger. It's time for you to settle down. The man is crazy about you, and I know you have feelings for him. So why shouldn't the two of you hook up?"
Jill shook her head in exasperation. "Rick and I are just friends, hardly more than acquaintances really. There's nothing between us. Besides, I don't have time for a man. And he is definitely not on the lookout for a wife. He's already married to his job. How else do you think he made detective at his age? He's only twenty-eight."
"And you're only twenty-five," Donna retorted back. "I just don't want you to wake up one day and find yourself middle aged, lonely, and childless. Time runs forward, not backwards."
"I'll keep it in mind," Jill said dryly as she followed Rick's footsteps to the door of the hospital room. She knocked lightly before pushing it open.
Ilene Tsukino beamed a smile at her from where she was laying back against the raised head of the bed and several pillows. In her arms she held a pink blanket wrapped bundle.
Jill returned the smile. "Well I see it finally got quiet in here. I may not be a doctor yet, but I seriously doubt that there is anything wrong with that baby's lungs with the way she was carrying on earlier. How is the little princess doing?"
Ilene giggled. "Better now that she has been fed. There for a while I didn't think she was going to stop. She just kept drinking and drinking. But I think she has a full tummy now, so she's happy. It made me think about…well…before. I only had him with me about half a day, but he was much the same way. He seemed to have a big appetite and would drop off to sleep right after as long as he had a clean diaper."
"Honey," Ken sighed from where he stood by the bed. "I thought we said that we weren't going to let that time overshadow this time."
"Oh! I'm not!" she readily agreed, looking out the window into the bright summer day. "I just can't help but wonder sometimes where he is and what he is doing right now."
Rick, who had been standing by the window, straightened up. "I'm sure, wherever he is, he's fine. I'm sorry that I was never able to find him and bring him back to you, but what we did uncover before the trail went cold was that the children that were kidnapped were adopted out through an underground adoption ring. Only people with money would have been able to adopt one of those kids, so I'm sure that he's being taken care of."
Ilene wiped the few tears that had sprung to her eyes. "I believe you're right. And that does make me feel some better. So don't beat yourself up over not finding him. I know you did your best." Then she turned to Jill with a smile. "Would you like to hold her?"
"Absolutely!" Jill gushed as she accepted the baby into her arms and handled her with experienced hands. This child was much smaller than her older brother had been, barely weighing in at six pounds, but she was perfectly formed. Her softly rounded face was a healthy pink and wispy golden hair peeked out from under her knit hat.
"She's like a little china doll," Jill sighed as the baby's eyelids fluttered open to reveal irises that were the same shade of blue as the sky outside. "So have you decided on a name for this little one?"
Ilene nodded. "We're naming her Serena. Serena Usagi Tsukino."
3 Years Later
"Where's my mommy? I want my mommy!" the childish scream echoed through the ER as the doors hissed open and the paramedics rushed in pushing two gurneys with children on them. Several nurses converged on them.
"Dr. Baker, we need you over here," one of the nurses called out in a frantic voice.
Jill jerked a bit at the summons. Even though she had graduated medical school and had been working as an ER doctor for almost six months now, it still caught her off guard when someone addressed her as doctor. She quickly pushed it aside though and dove into the fray.
"What do we have?" she asked as she joined the group that was holding the thrashing girl, who appeared to be around four, down to the gurney as she continued to struggle and scream.
"Car accident," the lead paramedic reported, raising his voice to be heard above the girl's cries. "Victims are a girl, approximately four years old, and a boy, approximately around six. Both were unconscious in the back seat of the vehicle when we arrived on the scene and unresponsive. The boy is still unconscious, but the girl woke up a few minutes ago in a highly agitated state."
Jill looked down at the little girl, whose hair was a tangled snarl of dark chestnut waves around her head. Blood streaked her face from a gash just under her hairline and the dark sapphire blue of her irises were almost swallowed up by her dilated pupils. But there was something about the girl that screamed familiarity.
She forced herself to calm and then announced, "Okay. Let's move them into treatment areas and start drips on both of them. I want both of their blood typed and crossed in case we need to do a transfusion and have them prepped for CT-scans. And somebody page Dr. Mizuno and tell her that we need her assistance down here."
When the two gurneys were wheeled into adjoining, curtained off cubicles, the young girl began to scream louder, "Darien! Darien! Where are they taking my brother?"
Realization slammed into Jill at her words. Now she knew how she knew this girl. She was the daughter of Rick's closest friends. And the black haired boy that she had caught a glimpse of was their son. Oh god!
She bent down over the hysterical girl and took her cheeks between her palms. "Dani? That is your name, isn't it? Danielle Shields? Do you remember me? I was at your house a few months ago."
Dani's struggles began to slow down as she looked up to the woman above her. "I remember you. You came to a cookout with my Uncle Ricky."
"That's right," Jill told her as she smoothed back some of the blood stiffened hair from her face. "Sweetie, what I need you to do right now is calm down so that we can help you. You've been hurt, and we need to try to make you better."
"But Darien…" Dani whimpered.
"Open the curtain between the cubicles," Jill told the nurses. "If we want her to stay calm, then she needs to be able to see her brother."
A nurse scrambled to do as she asked, and Dani visibly relaxed once Darien came into view. Jill knew that the siblings were very close, so it did the girl good to see her brother nearby when in the middle of such chaos.
That thought made her wonder about Mamoru and Bridget. She was sure that they would have been in the car with the kids. How badly had they been injured? Were they going to be rushed in at any moment as well?
"Their parents?" she whispered to the paramedic that had been holding Dani's shoulders down as they wheeled her in.
The man looked at her sadly and gave a shake of his head. She knew in that moment that Mamoru and Bridget Shields were dead. Both of them had been orphans that had grown up in an orphanage, so they had no family to contact. But they did have a friend of the family. He was also both of the children's godfather.
"What do we have?" the blue haired, blue eyed Dr. Anne Mizuno asked as she entered the curtained off area.
Jill gave her the rundown of the situation, as well as what she had ordered so far. Dr. Mizuno had a small daughter at home, so her eyes misted a bit when she heard that these two children were now orphans without any family to look after them.
But when Jill informed her of a possible guardian for them she quickly reclaimed her professional composure and told her, "Call him. I don't know what the law will want to do with them, but those kids need someone that they know with them right now."
Jill nodded and rushed out into an area that was deemed safe for cell phone use. She pulled her cell phone from her pocket and quickly hit a speed dial number.
After a few rings it was answered. "Jill, I can't talk right now. Mamoru and Bridget were…"
"I know," she interrupted him. "I have Darien and Dani in the ER right now. Darien is still unconscious, but Dani is awake and upset. They need somebody with them that they know. Can you get here?"
He sighed. "Give me ten minutes. The captain won't let me near the site anyway since I knew them. Nobody told me that the kids were still alive. I thought they were all dead. The car is unrecognizable. It looks like Mamoru swerved to avoid something in the road and they smashed through a guardrail."
Jill squeezed her eyes shut as tears began to burn them. "I'm sorry. I know they were your friends, Rick."
"Darien and Dani are alive. And that's what is important right now," he replied softly. "How are they?"
"I haven't had a chance to do a full evaluation on them yet," she told him. "I called you as soon as I realized who they were. But I'm about to give them the works. Like I said, Darien is still unconscious and Dani is showing signs of head trauma as well. But the paramedics stabilized them on the way here, so hopefully they have a fighting chance."
Rick was quiet for a moment before he said softly, "I know you'll take care of them, Jill. You've always been passionate about your work. So I know they are in good hands."
1 Week Later
"What do you mean that social services came and took Dani away?" Rick raged as he slammed his hands down on Dr. Mizuno's desk.
Jill cringed back into the chair that she was sitting in. She'd known that he would take this news hard, and she didn't really blame him. He had spent practically every moment that he hadn't been working for the past week at the hospital with his godchildren, despite the fact that Darien couldn't even remember his own name and Dani had slipped into a silent depression upon learning of her parents' deaths.
He had split his time evenly between the two kids, who had been kept apart at the urging of the resident psychologist. Darien was suffering from amnesia and didn't even remember that he had a sister, while Dani was so traumatized that the staff felt it was best for her not to see her brother in this condition. She was already heartbroken at the loss of her parents that they were afraid of what impact this newest revelation would have on her.
Dr. Mizuno sat back with a sigh. "I know that you are not happy about this, detective. But Mamoru and Bridget Shields never drew up any legal papers for who would take guardianship of their children if something were to happen to them. They have no family to step up to claim them. And, in the eyes of the law, you were merely a friend. You are a young single man whose job calls him out at all hours of the day and night. So the government feels that it is best to take the children into the foster system."
"This is bullshit!" Rick snapped angrily. "Sure, my job demands crazy hours, but I would figure something out."
Dr. Mizuno shook her head. "I tried to stick up for you. I truly did. I know you care for those kids. But think about this carefully. Are you really prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for a six-year-old boy with amnesia and a four-year-old girl that hasn't spoken a word in a week? They need professional help and a stable life. Maybe it's best that they go into foster care. In time, they may even be adopted into new families."
"Separate families," Rick sneered.
"It might be for the best," Jill spoke up for the first time. "They could both start over. Darien's mind is a clean slate, and Dani is so young that the memory of her parents and brother will probably fade with time. It could be good for both of them."
Rick didn't like it, but he saw the wisdom of her words. "I guess you're right. When are they coming to get Darien?"
"I'm releasing him tomorrow," Dr. Mizuno told him. "He's made excellent progress and healed at an astonishingly fast rate. But I wanted to keep him for one more night to be sure."
Rick nodded. "Can I see him?"
Dr. Mizuno smiled. "Of course you can. Darien needs as much support as he can get right now. And I think he really looks forward to your visits."
"I'll ride up with you," Jill announced, standing. "I didn't mention it before since you've been so busy, but Ilene Tsukino is here again. She had another boy this time. They should be going home today and I want to say goodbye before they go. Darien's room is on the same floor."
Rick couldn't help but grin tiredly. "Another boy, huh? I bet Ken is over the moon about it."
Jill giggled. "That's putting it mildly. Of course Serena is still his little princess from what I hear. I was hoping to see her when I visited yesterday, but Ken had left her with a friend of theirs."
"I'm surprised that he let Serena out of his sight," he commented wryly as they left the office. "I was sure that he would be the most overprotective father in the world, given their history."
Jill shrugged as she punched the button for the elevator. "I guess time can heal all wounds. I know they still grieve for the loss of their first child. But having Serena, and now Sammy, has comforted them a lot."
Rick smirked. "Sammy? I'm assuming that's a nickname."
She rolled her eyes as the elevator opened and she stepped inside. "His full name is Samuel Shingo Tsukino. But Ilene likes calling him Sammy, and I think it will stick. It suits the little guy."
Less than a minute later, the elevator opened to show Ken standing behind Ilene, who was sitting a wheelchair, at the nurses' station while Donna was going over their discharge information.
Ilene perked up at the sight of them. "I was hoping that I would see you guys before I left."
Rick plastered on a smile as he stepped off the elevator. "I heard that your family has grown again."
Ilene shifted the bundle in her arms to show him the sleeping face of her family's new addition. "This is Sammy," she announced proudly.
Rick took a few moments to look over the newborn. The baby looked healthy, but seemed to lack the rosy glow that his sister and, according to Jill, his older brother had shared. The few wisps of hair peeking from under his hat also looked to be a couple of shades darker than the older two Tsukino siblings. But overall he was still an adorable baby.
"He's a handsome young man," he pronounced in his most generous voice. Being around little babies still made him a bit nervous. Kids didn't bother him once they learned how to walk and talk, and he had enjoyed several hours of playing with Andrew, Lizzy, Darien, and Dani. But tiny babies were a different story.
"Yes he is," Ilene replied proudly. "I think he looks just like his daddy. But Ken says that he has my eyes. But a lot of babies have blue eyes when they are born. They could change."
Ken chuckled. "Serena's haven't. They are still just as blue as they were the day she was born."
"Where is the little princess?" Jill asked curiously. "I was kind of hoping that she would be here. I haven't seen her since she was just a baby."
"What do you mean? She's right here," Ken said as he looked down beside him. When he didn't see the little girl that he had been expecting to see, his head whipped around in panic. "She was just here. She was carrying the roses that we bought for Ilene."
Rick immediately went into police mode. "She probably just wandered off. Kids can be bad about that. Just give Jill and I a minute to look around. I bet we'll find her."
The two of them took off down the hall, glancing into every room that they passed and knocking quietly on the doors that were closed to ask the occupants whether they had seen the little girl. No one had.
They were becoming desperate as they neared the end of the hall. But then they heard childish voices coming from the room that belonged to Darien.
"So why were you crying?" a high-pitched, lisping voice asked.
A wavering, tear filled voice answered. "I don't know. I guess because I don't know who I am. I feel like nobody wants to be my friend."
"That's not true. I'll be your friend," the first voice replied indignantly. "Here, I'll give you one of these roses to show you that I'll be your friend. My daddy and I bought them for my mommy because she had a new baby, but I'm sure she won't mind if I give one to you."
Rick and Jill snuck up to the slightly open door and peeked inside.
A tiny little girl with golden hair swept up into pigtails that trailed down from buns on top of her head stood next to Darien as he sat on the side the side of his hospital bed. She held a red rose out toward the black haired boy.
"Here. Take it. It's a gift," she told him solemnly.
Darien wiped the tears from his eyes before he gave her a watery smile. "Thanks a lot."
Jill waited a few moments before she pushed the door open and said softly, "Serena, sweetie, your mommy and daddy are worried about you. We should probably go back and let them know that you are okay."
"Okay!" Serena chirped cheerfully as she started to turn away. She paused as a small hand suddenly grabbed her arm.
"I'll see you again, won't I?" Darien asked in a slightly desperate voice.
Serena pursed her rosebud lips for a moment. "Sure you will. My house isn't far away. I'll have my mommy or daddy bring me to see you again."
Darien sighed as he let her go. "Great! I'll be waiting."
Jill's heart nearly broke as she escorted Serena back to her family. The girl had meant well by making her promise, but she knew that Darien was going to be moved into government custody the next day. In all likelihood, the two would never see one another again. Tokyo was a big city after all.
Back in the hospital room, Darien stared down at the rose in his hand for several long moments before he looked up at Rick and said, "She was just like a princess."
A/N So what did you think? I know it might seem really AU at the moment, and it is to a point, but the canon story will start to weave its way in soon. So Serena has an older brother who is MIA, and Darien has a sister. I'm sure all of you are starting to put the pieces together. Please, drop me whatever comments you can. I love to hear what you guys think. Catch ya later. Be safe! Lots of love and hugs!