Disclaimer: I do not and never will own any right to Gundam Wing or Sailor Moon. Though I fervently wish I did. However this story, it's general plotline, all of it's original characters do belong to me. Go on, try to sue. I think I've got some lint and a few quarters in my purse.
It wasn't a hard decision. Even though it should have been. To have him alive, and in my arms, it was something I never thought I'd feel again. So even it was the wrong thing to do, after all these years, tired, alone. Wouldn't you have done the same? He smelled just like he always had. Tasted just as I had imagined. Sweet Bliss. But only for a moment. It only ever lasts for a moment. I only ever last for a 's ticking. And we still have so much to do.
:Chapter Five : Shinigami Never Dies :
She clenched her teeth over the pain, but the whimper that escaped her lips was not lost to Hotaru's ears. The bullet had finally worked it's way from her flesh, and she grasped it, warm and bloody in her hand. Hotaru's own bullet had stayed where it was. It must have been lodged in bone. It mattered little. The broken bits would simply heal around it. It had happened before. Secretly Serenity was relieved. The way the body forced the foreign object out was painful.
"Ren?" Hotaru's voice broke through the silence and the dark. They'd been laying her in this hotel room all day. Sleeping off their injuries. They'd stripped their clothing and glamoured in a shaded corner of a parking lot two miles away, using baby wipes to wash each other of the obvious blood. They had continued from there back to the hotel, taking a taxi and leaving their cycles behind. It was hard not to miss the parade of cops and detectives down the street. But no one was looking for a petite blonde pixie and a fiery red head. They'd showered and cleaned their wounds since then. She'd dressed her side in stark white bandages, but had left her shoulder bare waiting for the bullet to show.
"I'm alright Hota." She breathed, knowing she didn't sound very convincing. The girl was already standing, retrieving a fresh roll of gauze and a bottle of iodine. Their healing capabilities moved much slower with infection. She rolled to her back as Hotaru came to her bedside, allowing her access to the wound. She dressed it with light fingers, but pulled the wrapping tight. Serenity swallowed the groan that rose in her throat. But Hotaru was rarely, if ever fooled.
"It should heal soon." She said, getting up and moving to the bathroom to wash her hands. When she returned she took the other bed, sitting upon it with her legs crossed beneath her. It seemed her wound bothered her little now. Serenity lay still, staring up at the ceiling.
Her voice betrayed her the first time she chanced using it, coming out more like a hoarse cough. She cleared her throat, and tried again, ignoring that this time it came out thick, still filled with pain. "It will heal in time."
"In time for what, though?" Hotaru asked quietly. She was swinging her legs back and forth when she looked at her again, a habit she'd kept from so many millenia ago Serenity had lost count.
"If I knew, I'd certainly tell you." Serenity said, sighing before speaking again. She flinched when the deep breath jarred her wounds. "I don't sense anything." She turned her head towards the petite girl, locking eyes with her. "Do you?"
"Just the same thick blackness as always." Serenity turned her eyes to the ceiling again, before closing them.
"Fuck." It was a whisper, and she heard Hotaru shift her position on the bed beside her. It had been easy, all the times before. Dispatch of the bad guys, whose plans were usually ludicrous and half-hearted anyways, and get on with it. But this felt different. Seth was dead, but a storm loomed on the horizon like one they hadn't seen in quite some time.
"We'll be okay Ren." Hotaru's voice only soothed her so much. "I'm right here with you." She forced the smile to her lips for her charges sake, but did not speak her thoughts aloud. That, was exactly what she was worried about. She kept silent as Hotaru stood, closing the blinds and fiddling with a few things before shutting the light.
She did not sleep. That pain and the worry did not let her.
"Are you okay?" He thought about not answering. But only for a second.
"No. To be perfectly honest." And he was. Very honest. At the moment he was hunched over the island that separated the living room and the kitchen, a glass of bourbon in his hand. He knew he needed to stop drinking, needed to be clear-headed. But the weight he felt right now could only be lifted by something that fully impaired his ability to think. Quatre wasn't helping right now. But it was nice that he was trying. The Arabian took the bar stool next to him, and Duo turned from his glass enough just to see him out of the corner of his eye. He sighed heavily, and raised the glass to his lips again.
"There are still things we don't know." Quatre said. "The trail of Serenity does really and truly end with the car accident. But the fingerprints match both girls. They were both in the system as missing persons before the crash."
"I don't understand." It came out a whisper. He turned his eyes to Quatre's turquoise blue, saw his comrade flinch without meaning to. "This is something I would do. If you'd known her Quatre..." He sighed again, looked back down at his glass. "She was an angel. The only thing pure I'd ever come across in this life."
"No purity lasts forever." Quatre said with his own heavy sigh. "It's something we know well." Duo let go of the glass he'd been nursing, and laid a shaky hand on Quatre's arm, over the shirt, where the impact of his own swirling emotions would be lessened. The man still looked pained. His breath quickened, and Duo fought to calm himself for his friend's sake.
"I'm still with you." He said, and turned his lips up in a grin that was meant solely for Quatre. "Shinigami still rides to die."
Quatre smiled back, and laid his hand over Duo's. The contact was a wave of calm. He'd forgotten how good Quatre was at taking the pain and the panic away. "I know." The bond said softly. "I wish this wasn't always so hard though Duo, I do."
"I know." Duo said softly back. "But I suppose the fates, for us, wouldn't have it any other way." He and Quatre moved their hands simultaneously when the elevator opened. Wufei, Hiiro, and Trowa entered together.
Duo turned on the bar stool with his glass in hand, draining it and setting it down before leaning back on the counter. "Game plan?" He asked, as smoothly as he could manage. Quatre's mere touch had helped, and the alcohol was assisting as well, but he still felt shaken. Wasn't the first time though, he mused, he'd seen someone come back from the dead. Hiiro did it all the time. It was he who spoke.
"We've got a trace on credit cards, and the like." He said, in perfect monotone.
"But they're not that stupid." Wufei said. He leaned against the back of the couch, crossing his arms in the usual manner. "They drained straight cash from the account after your encounter." He stressed the word, and Duo grinned just to spite him.
"We also have every vehicle registered under the names Amity Lelaine, Hotaru Adelle, or Serenity Maclaine." Trowa spoke this time, and Duo shifted his eyes to him. "One was the SUV they left in the parking deck. Amity Lelaine also has two Black Kawasakis registered in her name."
"That's why they traveled light." Duo said, and was slightly unnerved when all eyes turned to him. He hadn't told anyone but Hiiro what history he had with Serenity, though by his reaction at the brothel scene he knew they all had questions. So far, none of them had asked. "I'm still with you." He said, harder than he'd meant to. "This is still a mission. And Shinigami does not fail."
His comrades did not relax in the least, but he felt the acceptance. They all had their secrets. And they knew eachother well enough not to ask. But he knew they'd never seen him so shaken before. They needed to hear he was still on point. That whatever connection he had to this girl, it would not sway him. He just wished he was as sure as he sounded.
"So you think they're on the bikes?" Quatre asked. Duo sent him a thankful smirk. He'd done it to break tension. Forever the glue. Hiiro nodded.
"Unless they stole something. But they didn't have much time, and nothing has been reported stolen in the area as of late."
"Then what's our move?" Duo crossed his arms over his chest too, but only because his heart was beating so fast he was sure Quatre could hear it. It had never been this hard to keep himself together before.
"Citywide search." Wufei said. "Circling out from the brothel and the club. You and Yui at the brothel, Winner and Barton at the club. I'll take the middle. We move now. Dress heavy. And remember, they have means of disguise. The hair and eye color could have already changed by now."
They all moved at the same time, and Duo was glad of the momentary alone time. His head was spinning. It was her. It had been her. He'd had her in his arms last night. He'd taken her with passion he'd never shown a soul. No wonder the connection had been so strong. He gathered his weapons slowly, not being able to help the thought that one of them might be her end. He'd just gotten her back, and he was already losing her.
It was then that the anger flared, and he slammed a clip into his favorite .45 too hard, jamming it and cursing aloud. She'd been alive. All this time. Alive and hiding. Did he have a right to be angry after leaving her behind? After last night, it certainly felt justified. And it wasn't as if he hadn't been on her mind. The notes... Was she really that bitter? Was he?
He worked the clip back out of the .45, checked it for damage, and satisfied, reloaded it the right way. None of it mattered. All that mattered right now was finding her and her accomplice. Then, he would get his answers. And if he had to, by the Gods, he'd rip them from her one by one. Zipping his duffel closed, he changed into a pair of black denim jeans and a dark blue tee, pulling his favorite black cap over his hair. One way or another. He'd get his answers.
"We're going to Mollie's." Hotaru looked up with wide eyes, in the middle of changing to the last outfit she'd had that wasn't either smelly or covered in blood. It consisted of a white tank with a black lace overlay, black leggings, and the same black flats she'd worn on their departure from the condo.
"Did I hear you right?" Hotaru asked, still pulling her shirt into place. Her wound was healing rapidly, it looked as if it barely bothered her now. Serenity's wounds were healing much slower. She blamed the liquor.
"Yes, you did." She said, checking herself in the mirror. She was donned in her last clean outfit as well. It was a black halter top with silver accents, with fishnet beneath that went halfway down her arms. It did little to hide the white bandage on her shoulder, so she removed it. The skin was taught and scarred there, but still red with irritation. She ignored it. The shirt was paired with tight black leggings like Hotaru's, though she wore her favorite heels to complete the look. Over the years she'd learned to run in them just as fast as she ran barefoot.
"Do you really want to..." Hotaru paused, as if searching for the words. Serenity crossed the distance between them and laid a hand on hers, smiling softly.
"I'm sure." She patted her charges hand once before returning to packing her remaining possessions. "She'll just have to forgive us." She swung the now lighter bag over her good shoulder, fighting the protest of her still healing body. Hotaru glamour ghosted over her with little thought, and when she turned to look back at Hotaru she was a blond pixie again. Her friend's eyes dared her to say something, so she laughed instead.
They were relatively silent on the ride down the elevator, and Serenity smiled when she reached the front desk. "Yumi Polara, checking out." She said, switching back to japanese fluidly. She and Hotaru usually preferred to speak english when they were in Japan, less ears to hear it here. But it helped to know the base language. It was the reason they usually drifted here. That, and memories of old.
She was smiling and flirting shamelessly with the clerk as he handed her back one of her many fake IDs, when she felt Hotaru tense beside her, and gasp. She turned her eyes to the last thing she wanted to see. Duo Maxwell and Hiiro Yui standing in the doorway of their own cruddy hotel.
She'd been fooling herself for the second she thought he wouldn't recognize her. She had to force her heartbeat to start up again when he raised the .45 in her direction, Hiiro's magnum following suit. "Don't do this Serenity." His voice broke her heart. It was cold, with a shimmer of pleading beneath that she wished fervently to give into.
Hotaru was faster than she was, mostly because the shock had momentarily frozen her. She'd zipped her bag open and pulled out two pistols, dropping to her knees and shooting six shots off rapid fire. They might have been the legendary Gundam pilots, but she and Hotaru were the legendary Sailor Soldiers. They were trumped on speed. In the confusion She pulled Rin, and fired a shot of her own. She smirked at Duo's face. She'd missed his head by millimeters. She didn't know anymore if she'd meant to or not. "I have to." She said, just loud enough that he could hear. And then she ran. The gunfire behind them was deafening.
She and Hotaru were not stupid enough not to know every exit. Behind the desk, where the clerk was currently cowering in fear, was an office, and beyond that a exit right out to the back alleyway. She hoped for her sake that they had no back-up. She was amazed they'd found them this fast. A smirk touched her lips. She supposed she should have expected no less. The street was empty when they reached it, but she had no time for a sigh of relief. Hotaru gave her only a quick glance, and she nodded as they parted ways. They knew what to do in this situation. They were harder to catch apart, though she loathed leaving her charge.
She rounded the corner and stopped, waiting. The footfalls were heavy. But there was only one set. She sighed without sound, worry building in her chest. "Hota." She breathed, gritting her teeth. If they hurt her... She leaned over just enough to fire two shots. The magnum was slower at firing than she'd like right now, but she had no time to dig through her bag. The running stopped. Silence reigned for a few moments, save the din of traffic a street away.
"It's been a long time Duo." She breathed out, with a wince. Her shoulder had reopened with the activity. She should have just worn the damn bandage. It ran down her arm and dripped beneath her, a steady 'plop, plop' on the pavement.
"No." She heard him reply. She hadn't been sure if it was he who followed her, but it was now confirmed. "It hasn't." Her heart clenched, and though she was willing it not to, the heat rose in her.
"Some second date." She said, letting the pain come to her voice. It didn't matter. She couldn't be caught now. There was someone she and Hota had to say goodbye to first. "I can't let you catch me Duo. Not today."
"And I won't let you get away for the third time." Her heart stopped. Had she heard that right? She shook her head. It didn't matter. It couldn't matter. No matter how much she wanted it to. He was closer now. She could almost feel him around the corner. With speed that she knew belied her frame, she skirted the corner and jumped, kicking the gun from his hand in a spin and then landing above him, pinning his shoulders to the ground. They fell hard. She heard and felt the back of his head slam the pavement, and was instantly sorry.
His eyes were unfocused. She could smell the alcohol on his breath. It was no wonder she'd bested him. Ah, the poison was strong. She knew it all too well. When his eyes focused, he struggled against her. He seemed surprised at her strength. She didn't let him think it was waning with the loss of blood. She'd been hurt worse. She could do this.
"You're not the girl I left behind." He said, and his voice was thick, like it had been the night at the Hilton.
"I was never that girl." She said softly. The blood from her wound was trailing down her arm now, pooling on the dark blue t-shirt he wore. Her eyes filled with tears even though she tried hard to force them back. She was holding his arms down with her thighs, and she felt him flail uselessly beneath her.
"I'm beginning to see that." Ouch. That hurt. His voice was ice cold. She smiled, and her vision cleared. Rin was held loosely by two fingers in her right hand, and she leaned over him, so that they were inches apart. The heat between them could not be denied, no matter how icy his demeanor. She put her forehead against his, her breathing ragged. Her vision was blurring now from blood loss. The smile still graced her lips. What a troublesome wound.
"I told you I always lie. If you only knew why. I'll never stop being sorry." She said this softly, searching his eyes and finding nothing there. "But you were right. It's Easier this way." She tightened her grip and brought Rin up swiftly, slamming the barrel against the side of his head, and immediately rendering him unconscious. With a gentle hand, she brushed her fingers against his cheek. She didn't want to fight him anymore. Not really. She wanted to hold her hands up and let him cuff her. Let him drag her away. Let him and his friends lock her up and throw away the key. It didn't matter... but for... Hotaru.
The footsteps coming towards her made her look up, and she narrowed her glamoured eyes. Hiiro. If he was here, it meant he'd lost Hotaru. She wasn't called Smoke on the Wind for nothing. He didn't wait to start firing. She leapt from her position and ran for her life. With Duo, she'd had a fighting chance, especially impaired as he'd been. With Hiiro, the chance dropped exceedingly low, as impaired as she was. He proved this by sinking a bullet deep into her calf. She bit her lip and forced herself not to cry out.
Willing the pain away, she turned the corner and leapt, hissing as her shoulder was wrenched by the normally simple act of her grasping at a fire escape. She did this twice. And by the time Hiiro Yui rounded the corner, Gun drawn, she was looking down on him from five stories up. Fighting to stem the bleeding from her shoulder and calf, and slow her breath, she watched him search, even ducked silently away when he did think to trail her blood and look up. His footsteps moving slowly away gave her time to pause, but not much. She could faintly hear him trying to rouse Duo, and then speaking into what she assumed was a phone.
She threw off her heels with a wince, and slipped quickly into her sneakers, stuffing the heels into the bag and starting off at a run. She leapt rooftops with practiced ease, trying to ignore the constant bite of her wounds. She was running on adrenaline at this point. Couldn't go back to the bikes. Time for plan B. She cursed under her breath. She hated plan B.
"Maxwell. Wake the fuck up." Hiiro was getting more and more pissed by the second. The girls were fast. Inhumanly so. And their knack for disappearing was supernatural. He'd never had a woman best him. Ever. The emotion faded quickly, set with determination instead. Breathing out, he shook Duo again.
He was rewarded with the slow, lazy opening of violet eyes. He'd have yelled again, but Duo looked twice as pissed as he felt when his vision finally focused, and he decided not to press him. He watched his comrade stand languidly, collect his gun, and wipe idly at the cut over his head. It bled down his face, over his eyes and mouth. All in all he painted a formidable picture in Hiiro's eyes. Truly a Shinigami. "Lost them."
"Not for long." Duo said, and his voice was like ice. Hiiro was surprised to hear it ring out much like his own. "Did you call?"
"Yeah. Taken Care of." Duo breathed out again, and smirked at his comrade, and Hiiro smirked back. He was most comfortable with the American, though he was never able to place why. In the years he had known him, had his back, through thick and thin, he'd been the most influential on his return to normality. If there even was such a thing. For them, he highly doubted it. It wasn't something that phased him really, just something he accepted. He had been born for this. They all had. And they had a duty to fulfill because of it. It was unspoken, but always understood. If no one else could do it, they would. He trusted in his team. Though he'd never say it aloud. And though there were only rare moments when his emotion came flooding in, he owed that tiny bit to them.
To the Dr., he was nothing more than a machine. To his comrades, he was human. A friend. "Gonna make it?" He asked, and Duo spit blood at the ground, smiling and looking absolutely every bit of his namesake. He rubbed the back of his head, and it came back clean.
"Shinigami never dies. Let's go."
"I don't know why you're smiling Maxwell. The Onnas got away." Wufei looked as sour as he sounded, arms crossed and brow furrowed. Duo grinned wide. The cut on his forehead had been cleaned and stitched together with butterfly tape. When Quatre commented on how she'd held her blow, he'd laughed and said something lurid about their encounter at the hotel. Quatre had blushed profusely, and not said anything else.
"Wrong Wu-man." He said, pulling a small transmitter from his pocket. "They're leading us away." Wufei actually cracked a grin, and it was more satisfying than anything in that moment.
"You sly fox." Wufei said, and then seemed to remember he still disliked the American, and set his lips set firmly. Quatre smiled at the moment, and spoke.
"How long til you think she finds out she's been bugged?" Duo shrugged.
"Don't know. These are my newest toys." He held up an extra tracker, to prove his point. "Small as a tick. But I don't give it long. She's fast and smart. And doesn't want to be caught. Said she had unfinished business." He kept the apology she'd given to himself. It filled him with unease, but he didn't let it show. He didn't know if he wanted her dead or alive anymore, but he knew his mission. He couldn't let her kill again. And he was still pretty pissed about the head wound.
"I don't believe anyone has mentioned yet, that you got your ass kicked by a girl." He turned shocked eyes to Trowa, whose face was impassive as ever. He might have detected a small smirk gracing his lips. He sighed, and ran a hand through is hair, smiling wide.
"Yeah Tro." He said sheepishly. "But you only best death once. She's not a cat. She's only got one life." Wufei nodded with a small smirk, and he praised his sudden ability to hide his turmoil right now. It helped that he was more pissed than confused.
"Well said." Hiiro said and patted him on the back. Quatre was beaming. Suddenly Duo felt as if this mission wasn't just passed down from the ranks. The Arabian could get sneaky when they began to drift further apart. He found though, almost instantly, that he didn't mind. On a mission like this, he rejoiced in their company.
"Shall we, gentlemen?" He asked, chuckling as he switched the tracker on. The low beep was something to distract him from how mashed up he was inside.
And there you have it. Chapter Five, done. With no idea the Gundam boys are hot on their trail, Serenity and Hotaru go to visit an old friend. Will they pull her into the fray by accident? More reckless than ever, their path is becoming uncertain. To find out what happens next... you'll have to catch the next chapter of Mona Lisa.
To my Reviewers:
Moon Mage Goddess: Thank you... more to come as soon as I am able!
MegaKat: I'm moving on it love. :) One chapter at a time. You are my biggest inspiration. And the story about you and your husband? I'm not even sure exactly what happened... but I laughed for like ten minutes imagining it. :D
Krissy: I'm not giving up on this story... as slow as it is going. Stay tuned. :)