A/N: Okay. I cannot apologise enough for my long absence. I have been sick and I have been busy. I'm not sick anymore (thanks for all the well wishes!) but I'm still busy. But I'll try and not let my next update be as long as this one.
It's been 6 weeks since I last wrote anything new (creatively, not academically) and here I am staring at the computer screen with not a single snippet in my head! It's too full with so many other things I'm afraid and I'm really distracted. But I am aware that I have some really wonderful readers out there waiting for my update and since I've been in that position myself, I'm quite determined to write this chapter! Too bad all the snippets that were previously in my head are gone. It's so much easier to write otherwise! But, here we go...
Before that, thank you for not giving up on me and my stories. Thank you for all the 'favourites', 'follows' and reviews that I have been receiving in my 6 weeks absence from ff. You're all so wonderful! I am sorry and I thank you. As for those of you who reviewed the previous chapter of this fic:
trish 1573: Oh thanks! You're so kind! :) Bunny88rosemagic, JFVW, BostonBill, Guest(1), Godschildtweety & Tsukia: Thank you! :) Ms. Fairweather: You're so considerate! Thanks for your understanding and support! CherrySerenity-sama: LOL. Jason with the Sailor Mars doll...hmm...I can almost picture it! ;) hprwhg00: I know, I wish it too. I'm sorry but I really was busy. LoveInTheBattleField: Thanks! Sara & Suri will be up in the next chapter. :) kbtjmandy: Such a nice review, thanks! The little girls will be back with S&D...soon! ;) Guest (2): iPhone Safari page? I'm so touched! I'm sorry you had to wait a long time for this update (& the previous one) but am truly glad that you stuck with this story. Thanks ever so much! :) Moonprincess998: Thank you! Hmm... I know you're waiting for their memories to return & I'll definitely dedicate that chapter to you...but it's gonna be several more chapters yet especially with my rearranging my thoughts & chapters...but in the mean time, the bits & pieces will come back to them subconsciously. Nickybluejess: Thanks! :) I think she'll be a great mom too! okay. shaydoe: You're reading TOBITF! Wow! Thanks! I love you! ;) smfanforever72: aww...he won't intentionally hurt her and I know what you mean, it bothered me too if S&D are with someone else instead! Tay: I don't know what to say. I'm overwhelmed by your wonderful review and kind words! Thank you! I know what you mean about being patient waiting for updates, I have the same problem! LOL. I'm really glad you like the story & the twins! Shenanigans. I love that word! :) I think parents should put their children first too & am trying my best to portray S&D as good parents. It's innate and instinctive I think. I'm glad you liked. ;) lostinshanghai: Thanks! If we're being honest, I don't like Rini from the anime either! LOL. I'm glad the twins did not put you off this story. And thanks for reviewing my other stories as well! :)
Telepathic communications / thoughts are in Italics.
(Standard disclaimer: I do not own any of the Sailor Moon characters. All characters belong to Naoko Takeuchi.)
Chapter 13: Little Princes
Shields Exclusive Living Complex (Early Sunday morning, following the events of Chapter 12)
Breakfast was a sombre affair but the physical wounds on everyone except Andrew, has healed rather drastically with the night's rest. Now, everyone gathered in front of the elevator at Amy's request.
"Where exactly are we going Ames?" Raye asked the question as everyone entered the elevator.
"To the basement," Amy answered simply, putting her palm over the elevator control panel without actually touching it.
"Following the palm print analysis once you placed it over the control panel, an invisible sensor scans our physical attributes. Instruction is voice activated," Zachary explained as the elevator started moving downwards.
The elevator opened to a huge space the size of all their living suites put together, divided into three distinct sections, two of which separated into two levels with a side staircase leading to the second level.
The first section of the first level had black glass for its floor, walls and ceiling with equipments and blinking lights built into the walls. The second section of the space is completely matted. The third section is a huge swimming area.
At one corner of both the second and the third section stood a huge glass fronted fridge filled with bottles and cans of water , juice and energy drinks next to a rack filled with neatly folded towels. Inside the second section, against the black glass partition that separated it from the first section, three elliptical cross-trainers, three treadmills, an upright bike, two recumbent bikes, a spinner bike, and two rowing machines are lined two feet away from one another, alternately facing the black glass and the inside of the second section. Bowflex, a bench press, weight training benches and weight racks completed the line up. Part of the second section is also occupied with beams, table and board vaults, a couple of pommel horse, horizontal bars, parallel bars and uneven bars. There are ropes and hand rings of different lengths hanging from the ceilings and the back wall is lined with swords, knives and daggers, polearms and staffs, battle axes and maces, pairs of sai and tonfa, katana and scythes and all sorts of weapons. The rest of the space is bare, giving large rooms for combat training.
Everyone but Amy, Zachary, Mina, Kevin and the cat guardians were completely stupefied.
"Wow," Lita breathed in awe.
"How long have you been working on this?" Raye demanded, turning to Amy.
"Mina and I thought we need to have a specialised training area, so I started the basic construction of this place, hiring different crews and such, initially," Kevin answered instead.
"Then, we brought Amy and Zach in for the engineering and schematics and Luna and Artemis in for the extra technology," Mina continued.
"When the children and the Demoniaques appeared, we worked faster to get this place completed," Zachary finished.
"But not fast enough," Amy murmured, looking apologetically at Serena.
Serena whose arms were around Darren and Darryl's shoulder, walked over to embrace her friend, "Oh Amy, this is great. You all did great."
Amy gestured toward the black glass covered section, "That's a holo-room, programmed with different holographic sceneries and scenarios from harsh mountains terrains to wild forests and turbulent seas, combat trainings and rescue attempts. It can be used as one big holo-room or separate holo-rooms by elevating black mirrored partitions using the control panels over here. All the black mirrors can also function as display screens."
"But let's go upstairs first. There's more to show and a lot to discuss," said Luna leading the way up the stairs to the second level that also divided into two sections, one was filled with monitors, control panel and keyboards, revolving chairs and a huge table in the middle with more control panels on it. The other section appeared to be a mini library with comfortable sofas.
"We are hooked up to every major camera and all security cameras in the country and several others worldwide," Zachary explained, motioning towards the monitors.
"If the girls show up on any one of them, we'd be alerted immediately," Artemis finally spoke up.
"This is our new operation base from now on," Luna said signalling for everyone to take a seat at the sofas for a proper group discussion.
"New operation base? Where was it before?" Darien wanted to know.
Andrew looked sheepish.
"It was under the arcade, a whole lot smaller than this though. No training area, just a simple monitoring and communications area," Nathan answered, still marvelling at the new structure.
"Do we know who took the girls?" Serena cut straight to the heart of matter.
Amy cleared her throat, "I analysed the energy signature that slowly covered the girls' before their signature disappeared. It matches the Cardian's energy signature, not the Demoniaque's."
"But that doesn't make sense, how would the Cardians know to take the girls?" Mina asked.
"We think that they might be working together. It couldn't have been a coincidence that both attacks occurred at the same time, same place. It seemed too coordinated as well," Zachary shared his opinion.
"The Demoniaques are intelligent creatures. It would make sense that they'd seek our enemies here to work with," Kevin added in.
"Okay, but how do we find the girls? Besides the cameras? If we can't even trace their energy signature, they're not going to be stupid enough to parade the girls in public!" Lita stood up and started pacing the floor.
"I was thinking, you boys communicate telepathically, right?" Raye asked crouching in front of Darryl and Darren who were seated between Serena and Darien on one of the sofa.
Darryl nodded, "We do. So do the girls, with each other. But neither Sara nor Suri can communicate with Darren and I. Nor us with them."
"Mom and Dad can communicate with all of us though," Darren added, unconsciously scooting a little closer to Serena.
"Well, Serena and I haven't been able to, not yet anyway," Darien said seriously.
"At this stage, the boys are more in control of their powers than the two of you are. They've been at it longer than you," Nathan put in.
"But it means there's a connection, a way, for them to communicate with each other, to sense each other," said Jason thoughtfully. "We can always sense each other and where Darien is all the time," he continued, gesturing to himself and the Generals.
"Yes. But their energy signature is covered. It can't be traced. There's also a big probability that they...are unconscious," Amy cautiously added, her hands clasped together, a sure sign of distress.
Zachary put his arm around her, "It doesn't matter. The crystals are inside them. Even if they're unconscious, we can still attempt to connect with their subconscious."
"How?" Serena asked, eyed wide with added worry at the thought of her little girls being unconscious. Her arms around Darren held him a tad bit tighter.
"I can work with the children. See if I can enhance their connections to the girls or manipulate and direct their powers. Jason and Raye can try too, since our gifts work differently from one another. So the three of us will take turn working with the boys while the rest of you start training," Kevin answered with his usual outward calm.
"We were beaten yesterday because we relied too much on our powers that we forgot to use our skills. We've gotten rusty," Mina added in support of Kevin. Motioning towards Jason, she continued, "Kevin and Jason are best at combat and swords, so while one works with the boys, the other will help Darien train. I'll work with Serena. The rest of us can pair up."
"Luna and I will keep watch of the monitors," said Artemis.
"You'll train until lunch time, and that will be a late lunch. After lunch, Darien, Serena, Darryl, Darren, Raye and Jason will start scouting the area for any sign of the girls. The psychic connections to them," Luna added.
"You need to be careful though. Neither Cardians nor Demoniaques knew of our civilian identities but they've seen the girls and boys with all of us, Serena and Darien especially. It won't be long before they'll make an educated guess, if they haven't already," Amy put in.
Darien's arm around Darryl tightened protectively. "Couldn't we leave the boys at home with Andrew? It could be dangerous for them."
"We can't Darien. Until you and Serena learn to use and control your gold and silver crystals, they have the strongest psychic connections to the girls," Zachary answered his Prince, regret tinged his voice and clouded his eyes.
"It's okay Dad. We want to help," Darryl reassured his father's past self.
"And Uncle Andrew needs to train as well. He needs to be able to defend himself and kick some serious butt too!" Darren added in, instinctively trying to calm the subtle tremor he felt coming from Serena.
Andrew laughed and was soon joined in by everyone else.
"Alright then! Let's get to it!" Mina led the way downstairs to start their training session.
Everyone but Kevin, the boys, Luna and Artemis followed her.
"The weapons? They all looked like medieval weapons. Why no guns?" Darien asked curiously.
"Guns attract too much attention and put civilians at risk. We also have no way of conjuring a gun up during battles whereas these weapons are from our own arsenal. Silver Millennium technology. We can summon them during battle," Jason explained, picking up a sword and handing it to Darien before choosing one for himself.
"What's Silver Millennium?" Darien asked.
Realising his slip, Jason kept his face casual, "That's where we get our powers from. Now, let's see how you are with a sword," he answered before swinging his sword toward Darien who instinctively blocked with his own sword.
And so, training began.
The theme park site and its surrounding area (Sunday evening following training and late lunch)
Darien walked with Darryl's hand in his while Serena held on to Darren's hand, a gold crystal holder with a silver crystal holder. Raye and Jason walked with them, trying not to be too obvious in their attempt at watching over their Prince and Princess.
"Anything, boys?" Jason asked.
Both boys shook their heads. Darren stopped and bent to touch the ground. "They don't know anything either," he said.
"Who honey?" Serena wanted to know.
"The earth, the insects," Darren replied offhandedly, still absorbed with the earth under his hands.
"Darren and Suri can communicate with the earth, plants and animals, pretty much any living things. Dad taught them," Darryl explained.
"Looks like you're going to have to re-teach them to me," Darien murmured softly.
The wind blew and leaves on trees stirred. Darren slowly stood up, listening carefully, "Blue and pink lights enveloping the girls. Blue and pink creatures..."
"Darien! Darien, is that you? What are you doing here?" the voice interrupted Darren's words.
Darien turned toward the voice. "It's Saori," he said. "I'll go and head her off," he added and reluctantly walked away from the group and headed toward the beautiful brunette.
"Darien," Saori moved toward him, both hands extended in an old familiar gesture. He took them briefly in his hands in another familiar gesture.
Serena's stomach did a quick nasty pitch at the sight of such familiarity between the two. She automatically reached for both boys' hands and kept one each in hers.
Saori let out a fluid laugh, slid one slim golden hand into Darien's mane of ebony hair and kissed him silkily. "I have missed you dreadfully. What are you doing here?" she asked pulling out only slightly and turning her face up to look into his eyes, a hand going up to brush his hair off his face.
Darien gently disentangled himself from her. "I could ask you the same," he said with casual affection.
He looks so relaxed, Serena thought. No, they look so relaxed, together. So comfortable with each other. Gorgeous. Both of them. Her stomach cramped further at the sight of the two smiling and leaning toward each other. Anyone would think they were a couple, completely suited and perfectly in tune with one another. They look so right together.
Because she was going to break, could already feel the first fissures coming, Serena turned her back to the sight and with her boys' hands in hers, walked away.
Serena's Bedroom (A couple hours later)
They had continued their search around the area while waiting for Darien to join them again. When he did several minutes later, having gotten rid of Saori, they had continued to search for another hour.
Serena had tried her best to appear unaffected but now safe behind the door of her own bedroom, she finally let go. She knew she was probably overreacting and that she had no claim over Darien but seeing him with Saori had actually hurt and it served as the tipping point for all the confusion and fear and doubt that she had been pushing to the back of her mind for the last week to fight their way to the forefront.
All these rioting feelings inside her burst to the surface. The future suddenly thrown into her present, the deep, deep feelings for someone she was sure felt nothing for her but an obligatory concern, the despair that she'd never be good enough for him, the burden of responsibility of protecting the world from evil, the terror of the children she loved more than life coming to harm, the guilt at not being able to protect them all.
All the emotions hit her and hit her hard. Her shoulders shook violently with the force of her grief and uncertainty. With her hands over her face, her back pressed to the headboard of her bed, she drew her knees up over her chest and rocked back and forth, sobbing.
She thought of her girls, missing and probably scared or harmed at the hands of unknown enemies. "Monsters!" she wept bitterly.
She thought of Darien with Saori and how perfect they looked together and how he'd never look at her the same way, and yearned.
She thought of her duties as Sailor Moon and what a useless super hero she turned out to be, a liability to her friends, and moaned.
She thought of her boys blaming themselves for their sisters' disappearance, and cried harder.
She thought of all four children, how much they had come to mean to her and how inapt she was at protecting them and a fresh stream of guilty tears poured from her eyes.
Leaning her forehead on her knees, her shoulders shook with shame and sorrow at all her shortcomings, unaware that her door had opened and two boys stood at its entrance.
Staggered, both boys stared and watched the woman they had always believed invincible, sobbing as though the well of grief would never run dry.
Darryl: Mummy's crying!
Darren: Mummy's crying so hard!
Darryl: I don't want her to cry!
Darren: Me neither. We need to do something!
Darryl clambered up onto the bed and hugged Serena with his small hands. Darren followed suit and hugged her from the other side.
Having wept until the tears and regret finally ran dry and a headache brew nastily in the fog of fatigue, Serena's head shot up.
"Please don't cry Mummy," said Darryl, slowly rubbing her tears away with the pads of his small thumbs.
"We'll find Sara and Suri," Darren reassured her, hugging her tighter to him.
"And don't worry about that lady with Daddy," he continued, pressing his face into her shoulder before settling himself by her side.
Darryl nodded his head in agreement and made himself comfortable on Serena's other side. "Daddy always said that when you smile, it brightens up the room better than the sun does."
A couple hours later, Darien slowly opened the door. The room was dark. But with the window opened, the deeming sunlight casted a soft gold light into the room. Soft, weeping sounds of violins played in the background.
Serena lay on the bed. A boy on each side, hugging her with their cheeks pressed into her chest, her arms around them. The three of them were sleeping soundly.
Darien went very still as emotion delivered a hard, bruising punch to his heart at the sight of them. The boys who looked so much like him, with her eyes and innocence, so perfect, so beautiful, the future that they had somehow made together. Together.
He never believed in magic and fairy tales before. Yet the sight of her made him think of the fairy tales, the sleeping princess, woken by the magic of a kiss. Spellbound, he started toward her, intending to do just that, wake her with a kiss.
A memory of a promise stopped him short, had him pouting. Can't kiss her. Looking down at the sleeping beauty with longing, his gaze fell back on his future sons. Another thought crossed his mind and had him grinning smugly. But they can.
Smoothly and quietly, he bent down and brushed one of the boy's hair from his face and laid his lips on his cheek, gently shaking him awake.
Darryl stirred and turned groggily towards his father's past self. He started to get up but Darien's hand slowed him down.
With a finger to his lip, Darien whispered, "Quietly now. Don't wake Serena up just yet."
Darryl nodded, getting up more cautiously and carefully. He looked at Darien's laughing eyes with a question in his own.
Darien now had moved to the other side of the bed, kissing Darren's cheek and waking him up pretty much in the same manner he did with Darryl seconds before.
"Doesn't she look like a sleeping princess?" Darien asked his future sons in a hushed voice, tilting his head towards the sleeping Serena, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
Both children smiled too and nodded their heads in agreement.
"And how do you wake sleeping princesses up?" Darien asked conspiratorially.
Darren frowned for a second before smiling gleefully, "A kiss from her prince charming?"
With laughter in his eyes and voice, Darien raised his eyebrow. "Well, what are you boys waiting for?"
Chuckling, both boys bent their heads and kissed Serena's cheeks, making loud smacking noises.
When her eyes fluttered open, they locked on his, clouded and unfocused and did something to his heart.
"Doesn't seem like a hundred years," he murmured. "Now, either I give you a glass slipper or you run off into the forest with the seven dwarves," he continued teasingly and slowly sat by her on the bed.
The boys were laughing. "Silly Dad! That's Snow White!" said Darryl mirthfully.
"No Dad! That's Cinderella!" Darren chimed in simultaneously, just as happily.
Darien kept his face straight. "I could never get those stories straight. Weren't they both woken by a kiss by their prince charming after sleeping for a hundred years?" he asked good-naturedly, heart light at the sound of his children's laughter.
Dazedly, Serena lifted a hand to his face. "That's Sleeping Beauty," she said softly as slowly reality began to seep in. Real, she thought. Her cheeks flushed. Automatically her hand moved away from his face and she hastened to sit up. "I fell asleep."
"We fell asleep Mummy," Darren said cuddling into her side.
"All three of us," Darryl added, leaning into his father's side.
"I gathered as much," Darien said keeping his eyes locked on hers.
There were shadows under her eyes and unless he was very much mistaken, she had been crying as well. He hated knowing that she was hurting and losing sleep worrying.
Struggling to keep the mood light, he ruffled Darren's hair and put an arm around Darryl. "Well, now that our little princes have woken you up, how about we all join the others for dinner? I believe Lita just made roasted potatoes and grilled chicken, honey glazed."
Posted on fanfiction: 10 May 2013
A/N: Well, that took me over three hours to write (half an hour or so staring at the screen blankly and another 20 minutes Googling up the names and images of gymnastics and fitness equipments and medieval weapons. LOL) I'm afraid I don't have much time to thoroughly revise for grammar or spelling mistakes that spell check sometimes missed. I seriously think that being sick has fried some circuits in my brain! I've never felt obtuse before and it's a very humbling and disconcerting experience! I will never again take my intellect for granted!
Anyway, I'll come back and revise this chapter at first opportunity. If you spot any serious mistakes or discrepancies, I'd really appreciate feedback via PM. In the meantime, review and let me know what you think of this chapter! I really hope it doesn't sound forced! Writing with no snippets in my head affects my flow and rhythm but I tried my best.
Next up is Sara & Suri's ordeal in Chapter 14: Little Princesses. Check out my profile for TOBITF update, there's a section of it that is solely for a status update on this story.
For CBTM followers, I don't know when my next update is. It's hard finding free time to write these days. But I will finish it. I wrote it for a friend after all… (I privately call it Shaydoe's story & she's probably blushing that I mentioned this here! LOL)