Tomoe Kaori sighed and rolled her eyes up to the heavens as she heard another dull explosion from her husband's basement lab. She wiped her hands on her apron, brushed her long red hair back, and went to see if her husband needed medical assistance. Again.
"Why doesn't he experiment on something much less… explosive the next time?" she asked herself as she walked into the corridor. Yuki and Mimi, her two eldest daughters, were fighting over the phone again.
"No! I got here first, so I get to use it!" said Yuki as she pulled at the phone.
"I'm waiting for Yoshi to call! Put that back down!" Mimi said as she pulled one of Yuki's red ponytails while her elder sister was tearing at her blonde curls.
Kaori ignored the two and continued on her walk towards her husband's lab. She looked out as she passed by a window and saw the twins helping Miyuki with her plants in the garden. Sayuri and Hotaru must be down at the lab, Kaori thought, and let herself smile. Sayuri, with her mane of snow-white hair, and Hotaru, her husband's daughter by his first wife, already had the same drive and intelligence that their father possessed.
She stopped at a blank wall with a keypad on the side. She quickly pressed in the security passcode. It had just been a minor explosion, or else the alarms would have sounded all over the entire Tomoe residence, immediately alerting the police and fire departments. Must be one of his experimental quantum band resonators that he's been raving about the last few days, Kaori thought as she followed the peculiar plume of red smoke to the workshop.
She was greeted by the sight of a wrecked chair-like device, which was emitting electrical hisses, sparks, and cracks. Her husband was busy using the fire extinguisher on it, as her two daughters helped their friend from school, Haruka Ten'ou. They were dusting her off. Sayuri noticed her mother's entrance and started to explain. "There was a power surge. Hotaru-neesan got her out of the resonator before it went haywire. She was lucky she didn't become unconscious like we'd predicted."
Kaori looked at Haruka and frowned. The poor girl was near tears. Must be the shock. She decided she was going to have a long talk with her husband and daughters after they fixed this mess up. She hurriedly went to comfort her while her two daughters picked up nearby fire extinguishers. They were all too distracted to see a message flash across a computer monitor. The words "QUANTUM BAND TRANSFER 50% INCOMPLETE" were blinking in big white letters on the black background before the monitor fizzled and sparks sprang from the nearby equipment. It was completely covered when Hotaru hosed the table with carbon foam.
Outside, a man dressed in black disappeared in a blur, after putting a small black object back into the long ankle-length coat he was wearing.
A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon story
by Elsa Bibat
Disclaimer: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, Koudansha, TV Asahi, Toei Douga, and DIC.
Foreword: The Council of Chronos isn't mine; John Walter Biles, Sean Gaffney, Chris Davies and Jeffrey Hosmer created the concept. The dimensional quantum band resonator was originally a concept by Steve Thesken, who wrote Quantum Destinies.
The Executors, Ruka-chan, Sorano Chiba, Yukiyo Ten'ou-Chiba, The Archives, and Kaori Tomoe and her daughters are mine. Please ask my permission before using them.
You know, weird things. Things that boggle the mind. Things that usually begin with Rod Serling coming out of nowhere, with his calm monotone narrator's voice blabbing about the Twilight Zone.
But that's not the sort of thing this particular tidbit of strangeness needs to begin with. What it needs is two Plutos, different versions of each other, both unaware of each other's existence, waking up with their temporal senses screaming, "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!"
However the moment passed, and the two Plutos didn't sense anything else. Just that small little screaming that suddenly stopped as it began.
One Pluto shrugged and went back to sleep, dreaming dreams of childhood and marriages and faceless people.
One Pluto shrugged and went back to sleep, snuggling up to Michiru, who made that contented sound that one usually hears from the sleeping.
Haruka Ten'ou was waking up.
She grumbled a bit as the light hit her eyes. Michiru must have opened the windows already. She was going back to sleep when she noticed something.
She was cuddled up to someone.
That someone was a man. He had both arms around her and was holding her in a very intimate position.
Then she noticed what she was wearing. She felt it actually. It was silky smooth against her skin and was a bit drafty.
She was wearing a negligee!
Warning signals started screaming in her head as she opened her eyes and looked up at the stranger's face. Black haired and clean-shaven, he was quite handsome, and he was still asleep.
But not for long.
Haruka's movements must have woken him up, since he stirred, opened his silver-gray eyes and smiled. It was the smile of someone waking up to a beloved's face.
He kissed Haruka on the forehead and said the words.
"Good morning, dear."
As the entire logic system of her brain froze, her body locked up too. Dear? The sirens in her head were screaming full blast now. What finally made her already-frayed nerves snap was what happened next. The man, not noticing his bedmate's state, transferred his attention to her mouth, initiating a full-blown passionate kiss. With tongue. If that wasn't enough Haruka felt a hand come up, slowly caress her legs and move to her breast and give it a light squeeze.
Let us now move our view to the kitchen. In there, a young teenaged blonde-haired girl was making breakfast. She had the same short haircut as Haruka, and the silver-gray eyes of the stranger in the bedroom. She was dressed in a school fuku and was cooking scrambled eggs when she heard a crash and scuffle outside, in the vicinity of the bedroom. She arched an eyebrow and went to investigate, carrying the frying pan with scrambled eggs with her. Before she reached the living room she could hear a woman's voice calling for Michiru.
"What the hell's Mom calling for Auntie Michiru for at this time of the morning?" she asked herself as she hurried her steps to the living room.
What she saw as she reached the living room was Haruka wearing nothing but a negligee and fuming. She looked to the bedroom door and saw it open, seeing the man enter wearing a bathrobe. She also noticed one his eyes was a bit puffy.
She looked to Haruka, who finally noticed her.
"Mom, Dad, it's too early for one of your fights— "
She was rudely interrupted by Haruka, whose eyes had widened into the size of dinner plates, saying "MOM?!"
The teenager's eyebrow twitched.
"Dear, it seems that there's something wrong here if you don't even recognize your own daughter. I think we should see Plu—"
He didn't finish, since he needed to catch his wife as she fainted.
Haruka stirred once again and opened her eyes. Slowly. She took everything in carefully. Okay, this looks like the room I share with Michiru. Not that the room where she woke up in the arms of a strange man was any different, but she needed to calm herself.
She sighed in relief as she saw Michiru sitting on the left side of the bed. She was dressed in a fashionable blouse and skirt outfit, and had a worried look on her face. Must have screamed or something. That dream was really weird. That's right, a dream, Haruka's logic centers said as she tried to calm her still-frayed nerves.
Haruka propped herself up on a pillow and smiled at her beloved.
"Good morning, Michiru. You know, I had the weirdest dream—"
She stopped as she saw the two people standing by the door. Her mouth went wide. Then she noticed she was still wearing the negligee from earlier. She was feeling dazed and was about to faint again, when Michiru put a hand on her shoulder.
"Why, Haruka, what's wrong?" Michiru said as she followed her gaze.
"Um… Ruka-chan, are you all right?" the man asked as he entered. He was now dressed in a simple blue polo shirt with white slacks. He was holding an ice bag over the black eye she had given him.
"Who the hell are you?" Haruka asked, a bit dazed. Ruka-chan… The man was calling her Ruka-chan, and he called her 'dear' earlier, and the young girl called her—
"Mom, you have amnesia or something? He's your husband and I'm your daughter." Haruka could recognize some of the similarities between the two people standing before her. They were quite noticeable. She could see the silver-gray eyes that father and daughter both shared. The same aristocratically shaped nose that they shared. She could also see the short-cut blond hair that the young girl had. She'd seen it every time she looked into a mirror. She noted with a wry smile that the girl was acting a lot like her at the same age.
Wait a damn minute.
Something was definitely wrong here. There was no way in hell that she could have married a man.
"I don't know you. You or him," Haruka said as she pointed the man. "The last thing I remember was me going to bed with Michiru last night." Haruka could notice the sidewise glance that Michiru and the man shared. She arched an eyebrow. "Something you two aren't telling me?"
Michiru sighed and she had that look on her face. Haruka had only seen that look a few times and it was always when Michiru remembered something painful from her past.
"There was a time, Haruka, when I'd have given anything to do what you just said," Michiru said then looked at her with a sad smile. "But Sorano had already captured your heart when we met."
The man that Michiru called Sorano chuckled weakly and scratched the back of his head. "Though I think we both didn't know it," he said as he moved forward and sat on the right side of the bed. He tried to put his hand on Haruka's but she took it away. He flinched a little, a hurt expression flashing across his face. But he was persistent.
After a few times of trying to hold her hand, he growled a little. Then he tried a different approach. He looked into her eyes. Haruka could feel those eyes gazing deep into her soul. She couldn't break away from the gaze, no matter how she tried. She was surprised when she felt something like… like… the love she had for Michiru stir within her. She felt that love spread all over. She tried to fight it like the way she refused this strange man's handclasps, but the feeling just washed over her.
She tried her best, but there was no way in not to enjoy it. Both Haruka and the man looked at each other for quite some time, emerald-green eyes meeting silver-gray ones. Haruka felt a pleasurable sensation go through her mind, twice as enjoyable as the initial feelings that had bombarded her. It caressed her consciousness and she reveled in it and accepted it, even as she tried to refuse. It was as if her own mind was rebelling against her, seeking the pleasure that the feeling gave. To the two other people in the room, it was as if Haruka were entranced by the man's eyes.
Michiru flinched as she saw the look on Haruka's face. Three hundred or so years with Setsuna, and you're still not over her, she thought ruefully.
"A link? Auntie, why's—" The young girl said as she turned to Michiru.
"Shhhh." Michiru shushed her and motioned her to keep silent.
"You really don't know about all of this, do you?" Sorano said as he blinked once and broke the spell. Haruka felt as if she was coming off a massive rush. She'd only felt like that when she was racing. The feeling of being so alive…
He sighed. "Michiru, where's Setsuna?" he asked as he stood up.
"She said she'd be along as soon as possible."
"Okay. Haruka, I don't know what happened. I woke up this morning expecting my wife to kiss me back and maybe a little more." He smiled and looked at her. She suddenly noticed that she was still wearing a negligee. She pulled up the blankets a bit, which was strange since she usually didn't have that much sense of feminine modesty. Also there was a thought inside her head, she didn't know from where, itching to get out.
She let it out.
"Pervert," Haruka said as she gave Sorano a dirty look. She didn't know why but it seemed like the right thing to do.
Michiru and Sorano looked at each other briefly, then started to laugh. Haruka and the young girl looked at the two. They stopped laughing after a while as they started to notice the odd looks that the other two in the room were giving them.
"I see you still have the touch, Sorano."
"I never lost it, Michiru. I never lost it."
"That word brings back a lot of memories," Michiru said with a sigh.
"What are you two talking about?" the young girl asked irritatedly.
"Just the old days, young one. Back when your mother and father were still pretending to be at each other's throats for being forcibly engaged."
"Pretending? We weren't pretending, Michiru. At least she wasn't. I still have some scars to prove it," Sorano said as he smiled ruefully. He already had that faraway nostalgic look in his eyes, as he started to board what was probably a trainload of memories.
Haruka decided to derail the train before it left the station.
"Um… Could you two tell me who the hell you are supposed to be?" she said referring to the man called Sorano and the still unnamed girl.
The young girl that was supposed to be her daughter looked at her father with a surprised look. "She really doesn't remember?"
"Yup. I used the link, remember?" Sorano said with a tap to his temple. He looked a little uneasy.
The young girl moved and took Haruka's hand in hers. "Mom, what happened? You were fine last night… Heck, from what I could hear through the wall, you were very fine," she said, finishing with a wide grin and a meaningful look to both Haruka and her father. Haruka couldn't help herself and smiled back. She felt the girl give her a reassuring grip. Then she suddenly realized what the young girl's statement was implying, she went pale.
Sorano's cheeks colored almost the same time. "As lecherous as her mother…" Haruka could hear him mumble from where he stood.
Haruka tried to calm herself again. No way. No way in a million years could I have had sex with a man. Trying to distract herself from that line of thinking she asked the girl, "So, as I've been asking repeatedly, who are you two supposed to be?"
The young girl made a face and looked to her father. "As I said, she doesn't know." Sorano said as he started to run his hand through his hair again.
"Well?" Haruka said impatiently.
Michiru decided to answer the question for the two.
"Haruka, that's your husband, Sorano Chiba. This is your daughter, Yukiyo Ten'ou-Chiba."
Husband? Daughter? Haruka's mind was starting to short out again. What the hell…
"How…" she articulated as she was trying to figure things out in her head.
"Your parents engaged you when you were sixteen, and you got married as soon as you reached eighteen," Setsuna said as she materialized by the bed. She was in her Senshi uniform and held her Time Staff in both hands.
"Hello, Auntie Setsuna!" Yukiyo said as she waved a hello to the Guardian of Time.
Auntie Setsuna? Haruka thought to herself with a snicker. Then she saw something that almost made her faint again. She saw Michiru give Setsuna a passionate kiss, which Setsuna returned as good as she got.
"Will you please stop doing that in front of my daughter. You're being a bad influence," Sorano admonished, a joking smile on his face.
"Mom? You okay?" Yukiyo asked her mother. Haruka was gaping at the two of them. "Better close your mouth, Mom. A fly could get in."
The pair stopped several moments later after hearing some of Yukiyo's comments about coming up for air.
"So what seems to be the problem?" Setsuna asked, in a tone that Haruka never heard before from the Guardian of Time. She was a lot more chipper than Haruka thought she was supposed to be.
Haruka was still in shock at the scene she had witnessed. Setsuna with Michiru?
"Mom seems to have lost her memory, Auntie," Yukiyo answered.
The Guardian of Time arched an eyebrow. "What? She was only supposed to lose her memory once. She didn't bump her head or something like that?" she said as she went nearer to look at Haruka.
"I don't know. I woke up and did what I usually did to wake her up and she gave me a right cross," Sorano said, wincing as he touched the bruised area around his left eye. At this Haruka glared at him.
"You were groping me!" she snapped at him angrily.
"That's what you like!" he shot back.
"WHAT?!" Haruka shouted. "Okay, let's get this straight! I don't know you or the young lady who claims to be my daughter. All I know is that I went to sleep with Michiru last night and woke up beside a pervert!"
Setsuna was obviously puzzled by her statement. She considered for a moment then asked Haruka, "Haruka, what year is it?"
Haruka turned to look at her with an irritated look.
"You're the Guardian of Time and you don't know? It's 1995!" she said in a matter-of-fact tone.
The other three people in the room looked at each other, giving each other meaningful gazes.
"What?" Haruka suddenly started to get really nervous.
Setsuna shook her head and glanced at Sorano again, then back to Haruka.
"The year is 3207 of the Common Era. It has been three hundred years or so since the establishment Crystal Tokyo and the Crystal Millennium."
That was when Haruka fainted again.
Haruka looked around. "Where the hell am I now?!" she said as she surveyed the scene before her from what seemed to be a high mountain peak. An unfamiliar landscape stretched from horizon to horizon. A sparkling blue ocean was visible in the west, a small city situated near it. She could see verdant forests and other mountains from her vantage point.
"Considering the fact that this is one of our most favorite places, I'm very surprised that you don't remember. It's the top of Mount Davies on the Sphinx colony world in the Manticore star system," a voice, that sounded so much like her own, said from behind her.
Haruka turned in surprise to see who was with her. She gasped as she saw herself, wearing a blue business suit, similar to what Setsuna would wear. A cross expression was on her doppelganger's face, a high-heeled foot tapping on the rocky ground and arms crossed over each other.
"Okay," her doppelganger started, "who are you and what did you do to the real Haruka?"
"I am the real Haruka!"
Her counterpart shook her head. "Uh-uh. The real Haruka would have kissed back when Sora-chan kissed us. The real Haruka would have been extremely pleased that her husband was being romantic that early in the morning and would have rewarded her husband with something that he would have liked very much, not given him a knuckle sandwich that early in the morning."
"Sora-chan?! Let me tell you something about — hey, wait a minute. I should be the one asking you. Who are you anyway, why the hell do you look like me and, most importantly, what the hell am I doing here?"
"I'm your subconscious, Ruka-chan, and I'm as surprised as you are. We don't usually get to talk like this. Anyway, it seems that something has happened to us. I let Sora-chan through the link and all he got was a blank. And to answer the question why you're here, this is where Sora-chan and we spent our tercentennial anniversary. You loved it, especially what you did when you got here," her companion said with a naughty wink. Haruka considered the implications and shuddered. She realized something about what her look-alike said. She looked at her with wide eyes.
"Tercentennial ?!! How long have I been married to this guy?!"
"Last month was your three-hundred twentieth anniversary, not counting the thousand years or so under the Great Ice."
Haruka tried to calm herself down after this statement, while trying to analyze this new information. "Hey, you were the one who let him rifle through my head?" she demanded of her look-alike, a dangerous tone in her voice.
"What did you expect?" Haruka's subconscious shot back. "Something was wrong. You were expecting Michiru in bed with you instead of your own husband!"
"I went to bed with Michiru last night! Of course I'd be expecting her!"
Her subconscious looked puzzled at this statement. "Okay, I'll try to dredge up a few memories to remind you about him."
Her doppelganger waved her right hand in front of her and she was suddenly bombarded by images she didn't remember. Meeting Sorano for the first time at a piano recital. A marriage meeting ending in disaster. Her parents telling her to marry him. Scenes of failed dates and constant fights, while a feeling of affection seemed to course through her.
Then the scenes changed to those of her being in Senshi uniform. Of a mysterious masked man who always managed to rescue her in time. The search for the Holy Grail, though this time with marked differences. Sorano always seemed to show up wherever she and Michiru were looking for it. Her caped protector always showing up, also. Then the identities being revealed. Sorano as surprised as she was when they both transformed. Their argument over the methods she and Michiru had used. Her crying when he left, angry.
Then the scene in the cathedral. Sorano trying to stop her from using the Heartbuster gun. Seeing him crying over her. His relief when she was restored. Their talk afterwards, when they admitted their love for each other.
A myriad more scenes. Enemies; protecting the princess and other things. Their wedding, which was almost ruined by a monster. And of the years that followed. Then the Great Ice. Of the Restoration and of building Crystal Tokyo. Getting pregnant and having a daughter. Leaving Earth to colonize other worlds. Then they abruptly stopped. Haruka shook her head, trying to steady herself after the mental bombardment.
"Strange… Something's missing. Well, never mind. So, remember Sorano now?" her subconscious asked.
"Those weren't my memories! I know it's only 1995 not 3207!" Haruka insisted.
Suddenly, a voice seemed to boom out from the heavens.
"Ruka-chan! Ruka-chan! Are you alright?"
Haruka's subconscious smiled at her. "Seems Sora-chan's worried about us. Time to wake up."
"—at?" Haruka said woozily as she tried to shake the cobwebs from her head. She remembered talking to someone; she just didn't know whom.
"She's all right." She could hear the relieved tone in her hus—
Haruka shook her head again. Sorano. Sorano, not husband. Where the hell did that come from anyway?
"You sure, Dad?"
Haruka's vision finally focused and she could see everyone. She saw the worried looks on everyone's faces as they looked at her. "I'm fine, just a little woozy. That's all."
"Well, I'm hoping you remember us now. Do you?" Sorano asked her.
"No. Not exactly. I remember a few things, but I know they aren't supposed to be there. I also know that it's supposed to be 1995 not 3207."
Setsuna sighed and stood up. She held the Time Staff in her hands again. "Okay, I'll try to figure out what's wrong," she said as she closed her eyes and set the end of her staff to Haruka's forehead.
A purple aura formed around the two as Pluto focused her power. Moments passed as both Setsuna and Haruka continued to glow. The light subsided and the Guardian of Time looked more puzzled than before.
"There seems to be something wrong with her temporal signature, along with a few other things. She also seems to have two sets of memories… I don't get it." Pluto sighed as she put a hand to her head. "And I have a headache. All I can say is that this isn't like the last time."
"So what are we supposed to do?" Sorano asked as he picked up the ice bag he left by the window. "I mean, I can't have her punching me every time I try to show my affection."
"Affection? More like perversion," Haruka said as she massaged her forehead, a migraine making her feel like her head was about to explode.
"Well, I think you should take Haruka to your office and show her around Crystal Tokyo. Maybe it'll jog her memory and we don't have to worry about it anymore. I'll try to see what's wrong from the Time Gate. Maybe it's just mental timeslip or something like that," Setsuna said as she put a hand on Michiru's shoulder.
"Michiru and me should leave now. She still has a lecture at the University and I better get cracking on this. Bye, Yuki-chan!"
"Bye-bye, Aunties!" Yukiyo said, waving cutely.
Pluto and Neptune disappeared in a burst of light. Sorano looked at her daughter with a slight frown. "I do hope you start acting your age soon, Yuki-chan."
Yukiyo responded by sticking her tongue out. Sorano chuckled a little. "Anyway, it seems we're going to have to go out," Sorano said as he pressed the ice bag to his black eye.
"Well, you better take a bath and get dressed, dear," Sorano said ignoring the glare he got from Haruka for calling her 'dear'. "We'll be here if you need any help. Want me to join you in the shower?" he said with a grin.
Moments later on the floor, Sorano swore that he saw her smile a little before the punch came.
Yukiyo Ten'ou-Chiba was having a very bad morning. First, she had woken up to find that she was once again cooking breakfast. Not much of a surprise considering the noise of her parent's 'workout' last night. Jeez, you'd think they'd soundproof their room, considering the amount of noise they made. Second, she had found out that somehow her mother had forgotten everything about her and her father and started acting like she wasn't even supposed to know them.
Number three reason was the current situation she was in.
"Mom, why don't you wear it?!" Yukiyo said as she held the dress before her mother. It was a nice blue business dress, the one that her mother had always worn to work.
Haruka thought it looked familiar but just couldn't put her finger on where she saw it before. "Will you stop calling me Mom?" Haruka said, "Haruka would be just fine." Her arms were folded over each other in defiance. "And if you think I'm getting into that dress, you've got another think coming."
"Mo—" Yukiyo noticed Haruka's glare and gave up. "Okay, Haruka, if that's what you want. Except for a few changes, this is what you've been wearing to work for the past ten years. It's one of your best dresses. What's wrong with it?"
"It's a dress."
"I don't wear dresses."
"You told me once you've worn dresses ever since you met Dad!"
Haruka sighed. The kid was as stubborn as she was.
"Isn't there anything else I could wear?"
Yukiyo calmly put the dress on the bed and moved to a nearby closet. She opened the door and presented the contents to Haruka.
It was full of dresses, all having blue or yellow in the color scheme.
"Um… Can't I wear your Dad's suits?"
"Uh-uh. Dad's taller and leaner than you. His size won't fit. Besides, why would you want to wear a man's suit anyway?"
Haruka put her head in her hand and gave up. "You better not make me wear high heels, kid."
"What do you mean you're gonna drive?" Haruka demanded of her supposed husband. He had a firm grip on the car keys, and held them beyond her reach just in case. She was in a bad mood, not being used to wearing a dress and high heels, and had been expecting that she would drive whatever car the family used.
Sorano and Yukiyo, however, had other ideas. When she declared that she was going to drive, both of them paled. Yukiyo looked pleadingly at her father and he had kept the keys out of her reach, insisting that he would be driving.
She was sorely tempted to give the idiot another punch, but a niggling thought in the back of her mind seemed to be telling her it was for her own good. "Okay, you idiot, you drive if you want!" she shouted at Sorano, and huffed away, stomping towards the garage door.
Yukiyo sighed in relief, as her mother finally relented and walked away angrily. What was Mom thinking? Driving? Haruka "Crash-Test Dummy" Ten'ou driving? Might as well hit the car with a World Shaking now, to save Mom the trouble. Mom couldn't drive a golf cart without crashing it, why the hell did she want to drive now?
She could see the same relieved look on her father's face. "Do you have any idea why she'd insist on driving now?" he said, worry taking over from relief as he frowned a little.
"I'm as confused as you, Dad. You sure she really is all right?"
"Except for the memories, the link's telling me everything's all right. But I have this doubling sensation whenever I use it." Sorano stopped walking and ran a hand through his short black hair, a mannerism that his daughter knew him only to use when he was very emotional about something. The last time she'd seen him use it was when Mom was in a coma during the Black Moon War. Every bit of off-duty time he had during the War was in the room of his wife, walking in circles or sitting in a chair by the bed, always moving his hand through his hair. It was a good thing Mom woke up or Dad would have gone bald.
"It's the same feeling I felt when she lost her memory the first time," he continued, his frown tightening.
Now that must have been another hand-running-through-the-hair experience, Yukiyo thought with a light smile. The Mizuno-Aino FTL drives twenty or so years ago weren't as efficient as the Mizuno-Gurio ones now in use. The passengers had to go into cryogenic suspension or risk some of the nastier side effects.
Waking up after a six-year cryo-sleep to find your wife doesn't know you, and — from the some of the stories that Yukiyo heard — hating your guts is not something you expect to happen.
That would have put Dad on the edge, considering the way he loved her Mom. Sounds kind of like what was happening now.
Wait a minute.
"Dad, you're thinking Mom's personality slipped again? Auntie Setsuna said—"
"Yes, damn it, I know what Setsuna said. But if I've ever seen an unsure look on her face, she wore it back there," her father said before he sighed again. "I… I'm just worried that what happened back then might be starting up again. And I don't think she'll let me near her to do what cured her the last time," he said, managing a little smile.
Yukiyo considered that. The last time her Mom had amnesia, everything short of the Ginzuishou was used in trying to make her remember. What finally got her to remember was Yukiyo. To be exact, Yukiyo being born. Considering the way her Mom was acting this morning, there was a snowball's chance in hell of her getting pregnant again. Besides, she didn't think Dad would do it to Mom without her express permission.
"Okay, Dad. I can understand why you're a bit worried," she said as she looked at her father, who was once again running a hand through his hair. "Okay. A lot worried about it."
"You better bet on it, Yuki-chan."
"Why don't you just trust Auntie to fix everything up?"
"You know your Aunt. She won't tell anyone everything. Michiru is close, but even she isn't privy to all of Setsuna's secrets. For all I know, she planned this little fiasco for the benefit of the timeline."
"Well, there's that. But what are we going to do about it? Unless you think you can get Mom pregnant with the way she's been acting since morning. Hell, she didn't even let you in the room when she was getting dressed."
Her father considered this, his hand on chin. She could hear the cogs turning in her father's mind. Oh no, he isn't thinking…?
"Well, I could try my best, but I would need…." Sorano shrugged as he trailed off and looked to his daughter. Great, Yukiyo thought, I'm now arranging my Mom and Dad to give me a little sister.
"Okay, I'll help."
Her father smiled at that and they continued their interrupted walk. Yukiyo decided to change the subject as they approached the garage door.
"So, think she's waiting by the door to punch you in the face and steal the key?"
Sorano paled and walked a little slower. He let his daughter enter the garage first, just in case.
There are places between worlds. Usually these places are empty, but this particular in-between place wasn't. It is the Pluto dimension, the home base and vacation spot for the interdimensional association — or as some of its members call it, sorority — of Plutos who have managed to find out about it. In the dimension's relative center is a large cathedral. It is a masterpiece of gothic architecture both inside and out. Constructed through the sheer will of the dimension's rulers, it is an amalgamation of the many thoughts and ideas of the Council's members.
Within it a council meeting was being held in the main council room.
Six Plutos were currently in the room. They were the current council, recently voted in by their peers.
The current head of the Council, a Michiru-Pluto with rainbow-colored hair, smiled at everyone and slammed the gavel with her mallet. She had that look to her eye that was usually attributed to several controlled substances, though she seemed lucid enough.
"So, like, let's get this Council meeting rolling." Well, mostly lucid.
"First order of business," the Setsuna who was acting secretary for the council said in a business-like tone, "membership regulations are to be finalized. Also the question of active recruitment that has been brought up the last time and is to be put to the vote."
"Well then, if everything's in order, I think we should begin," a Minako said with a heavy British accent. Her fuku was markedly different than the others. It seemed more like a Victorian dress, only with the skirt reaching only to the knees and with no sleeves, something that its owner thought was quite daring. She picked up the piece of paper in front of her and started to read out loud, "The Council of Chronos membership regulations, Section one, membership requirements. Paragraph one—"
There was a knock on the large Council room door. All of them looked to the monolithic gothic masterpiece, surprised by the sudden sound.
The fourth member of the Council, a Hotaru, arched an eyebrow. "Who could that be?" she asked, voicing the question that ran through the minds of all Plutos present. Plutos don't usually get to ask that question, but since the Pluto dimension was a place where their future sight usually did not function, they did not know who was interrupting their little meeting.
The Hotaru looked to the Council leader. The Michiru nodded and decided to let the visitor enter.
The large, imposing door opened with an ominous creak. Beyond it, inky blackness ruled, shrouding the one who just knocked except for a black boot. The scene told of mysterious occurrences and horrible happenings; of shadowed visitors and whispered messages. Most appropriate for a Senshi — or for some, a Sailor — of Pluto.
The atmosphere was totally ruined when the person to whom the black boot belonged to entered. Spiky red hair, short stature, dressed in the fuku of the Senshi of Pluto and with a wide smile on her face, Washuu Hakubi, current Enforcer of the Council, stepped into the Council chambers with light, spry steps and shouted, "HIYA!"
All members of the council, except for one, winced. The exception, a Setsuna with a eldritch glow in her eyes, muttered under her breath. Her Time Staff was carved with strange runes and weird inhuman figures, and if one listened carefully to her voice, there seemed to be a cacophony of voices as if a thousand people were speaking in unison. "Should have destroyed her when I had the chance," the entity whispered under her breath.
The Washuu-Pluto noticed this and directed her smile at the muttering Pluto. "Cool down, Nyarly. I do have a good reason for interrupting the meeting this time," she said as she stepped forward to occupy the Enforcer's stand, a space before the Council table where the current Enforcer always stood to report to the Council.
"What seems to be the problem, Washuu-chan?" The sixth Pluto in the room asked with a smile. She had light, brown hair tied in a ponytail, which was resting over one shoulder; her brown eyes were filled with kindness. She seemed to radiate an aura of happiness and serenity just sitting in her chair.
"Well, I'm here to tell you that there seems to have been a minor temporal energy surge," the red-haired super-genius and Guardian of Time declared.
"So? We always have minor disturbances," the Setsuna-Pluto asked, a little irritated.
"Nononono! The energy surges' waveforms were way too different from a normal temporal disturbance. I've monitored the temporal surges from my lab for long to be certain that this is not the normal waveform that we get from a simple temporal ripple or a time storm, this is very different."
"Is it a threat to our timelines, Washuu-chan?", the Hotaru-Pluto asked, concern in her voice.
"I'm not sure," Washuu said with a shake of her head. "I may be a genius, but even I don't know about this. All I'm sure about is that we'll have new members."
Washuu was quite amused at the sight of all members of the Council arching their eyebrows simultaneously.
"Why do you think we'll have new ones?" the Setsuna with glowing eyes asked, an interested tone creeping into her voice. Fresh meat, she thought, allowing herself a slight smile. And the new timelines that she would be able to access, or should be able to access if she managed to sneak something in the Charter.
"As you know, ever since the Inverse incident and the little trial a while ago, I've been trying to make a way to make our Sight work in neutral territory, such as this dimension. I've made a little progress and this little disturbance was interesting enough for me to test my Subdimensional Temporal Event Scanner. It's hazy and only works for up to three days, not to mention the immense amounts of energy necessary for such a device to function—"
"Get to the point, Washuu-chan," the Setsuna said testily.
"Well, I saw our new arrivals. Both Setsunas. One's younger than the other. That's all I got from my STE Scanner got before it exploded."
"Oh my! Were you hurt, Washuu-chan?", the brown-haired Pluto asked, a worried tone in her voice.
"Oh, nothing to get excited over, Kasumi. Anyway, what is your decision? I know I'm acting on a hazy vision but I think there will be arrivals."
The Michiru-Pluto considered this a bit, her lips quirking into weird positions as she considered the situation. After a few moments she came to a decision.
"Well, you're the Enforcer. If there are any new arrivals, bring them to the Council immediately. That way we can test our new Initiation rites!" the Michiru-Pluto said with a wide smile. Time to dust off the membership paddle, she thought with glee.
Kasumi agreed enthusiastically. "Oh yes! Then we can all have tea and become friends!"
Everyone else in the room developed major sweatdrops.
In another in-between place, Ruka-chan, Chief Archivist of the interdimensional library called The Archives and the greatest scientific mind in all the universes she knew, was about to wheel her wheelchair into her bedroom when a man in a black coat arrived.
To be more appropriate, he stepped out from one of the many shadows that were in the room. The wheelchair-bound blonde's one eye narrowed as she felt the man appear. She whirled her wheelchair around to see who it was, moving with the practiced skill of a permanent paraplegic.
"Hello, Executor. Do you know that normal people usually knock?" she deadpanned as she looked over the new arrival.
He was tall, but being in a wheelchair makes everyone seem taller. His sable-hued clothes fit him well, tailored to fit. A bit lanky, but Ruka-chan was willing to bet the man was stronger than he seemed. An angular face and a well-formed nose made him look handsome. His eyes were sapphire-blue and had that look to them; the look that told of uncounted years passing by, of the things they had seen. They were old eyes, yet they still somehow held the youthful spark in them. Ruka-chan then looked to the part of his face that marked him for what he was.
His hair was snow-white, contrasting with ebony-black of his clothes. It was combed neatly, giving her visitor what she called the dignified-old-businessman look. Ruka-chan smiled thinly. How nice, she thought, he combed before presenting himself. She knew the man's peers and their hair usually had that wind-blown look to them, the result of mobilizing to trouble areas in the multiverse and, just as often, fleeing from them. An Executor of 3rd or 4th grade, from the white hair. Only Executors of that grade could have the white hair, and only those assigned to the monitoring of the Guardians of Time. She sighed. Some problem involving time again.
"Good evening, Ruka-chan. We have a problem."
"Don't you Executors always have one?"
Her visitor smiled. He had been warned by his superior about Ruka-chan's behavior. "I am Ka'arla Fredericks, " the black-clad man said with a slight bow. "You are correct, Ruka-chan. We do always have a problem, but this time we need your knowledge of some things."
"What is it this time? Rampaging dimensional travelers? A stray Time Wolf pack? The Hounds of Tindalos?" she asked, a resigned tone in her voice.
"First, Ruka-chan, I must ask your opinion about something."
Ruka-chan blinked her one eye in surprise. "About what?"
"The Council of Chronos."
Ruka-chan snorted contemptuously. "They're the most irritating bunch of idiots that can cross the dimensional thresholds! Even those anemic sorcerers that use those darned sheep are less irritating than those idiots! And add to that fact, that they're… they're…"
"Plutos," The Executor helpfully supplied.
"Yes. Plutos! Narrow-minded, obnoxious and… and…" The self-proclaimed Super Genius of the Known Universes started groping for a word in her very large vocabulary that would best describe the subject of her latest rant. She was trying to decide whether to use Klingon, Romulan, Narn, Kzinti, or any other of the hundreds of languages she knew, when her visitor 'ahemmed' loudly. Ruka-chan regarded him with a cocked eyebrow as he chose to interrupt her oration.
"Ruka-chan, no matter how much I would love to hear you badmouthing the Guardians of Time, I would really like to get back to why I'm here."
"Well, spit it out."
"There have been a few complications on a recent operation. You are familiar with the Quantum Band Resonator?"
"Of course. I invented the best version of it. Why?"
"Then you are familiar with the amount of… er…"
"Crap that it can put a person in?"
Fredericks winced at the wheelchair bound blonde's choice of words. "Yes, but I would have chosen a different word. The incidents in a Ranma cluster were alarming enough that my superiors have decided to eradicate all chances of developing the technology and also to destroy or take control of all existing copies of the device."
"So? What went wrong?"
"The device seems to have… um… misplaced two personalities."
"And thus," Fredericks continued, ignoring Ruka-chan's surprised exclamation, "we need your help in restoring them both."
The crippled scientist had a thoughtful look on her face as she considered this. "What's the Council of Chronos got to do with this?"
"The incident happened in a Sailor Moon cluster. Specifically, near Council territory. You know how the Council monitors such things. We may have to deal with them, or at the very least mask our existence, as we always do."
Ruka-chan nodded and frowned. "A Sailor Moon cluster, eh? Who's the unlucky person?" She was already formulating a plan.
The Executor fidgeted nervously. "Umm… two Haruka Ten'ous seem to be the victims of the accident."
Ruka-chan's frown deepened. "The divergence factor of the timelines involved?"
"Nearly seventy-five percent."
"Oooh, shit." Ruka-chan was quickly processing the information that she had received. "Quick, wheel me around and bring me to my lab."
The Executor quickly took hold of the wheelchair and started to push her to her destination. "Where?"
"Take a left at the first crossing and bring me to the first turbolift. What level of personality reintegration transfer?"
"We're not sure. Why?"
"You're not sure?! Hell!"
"Why? What's wrong?"
"The Quantum Band Resonator functions by subverting the dominant conscious mind of the personality and transmitting a new dominant consciousness. That's how it's supposed to work. Not a full personality switch. There must have been a glitch in the Quantum Band operating software. Now, if what you're telling me is true, the Resonator replaced the consciousness of two people with each other."
"I'm guessing that's bad."
"You win a kewpie doll, Executor. If it were a full personality transfer, with both conscious and unconscious parts of the mind involved, it would take just a simple mind transfer. Take a left."
The Executor obeyed then asked, "If it weren't a full personality transfer, then what?"
"It's probably switched parts of the conscious part of the mind with another. The remaining parts of the mind of the current hosts will try to integrate them into the personality matrix. Considering the divergence factor, I'm guessing these Harukas are very different from each other, right?"
"Initial reports say that it is so."
"How long have they been switched?"
"Six, seven hours."
"And you're just calling me in now?!"
"There were delays. Masking our presence from the Council makes operating in the cluster very slow."
"Well, we have, at the very most, a week before full personality integration happens."
"What does that mean?"
"That means we can't switch them anymore. The unconscious mind would have built some pretty serious mental barriers to make sure no other intrusion like that happens again. Also, the subjects would have taken on the personality matrix of each other. Any more sudden shifts like that would make the subjects' primary vocation drooling. Either that, or they'd be driven insane by the mental strain. And if we don't do it, the personality matrices would degrade anyway because of incompatibility, resulting in eventual insanity."
The Executor entered the turbolift, pushing the Chief Archivist before him. Ruka-chan immediately entered an access code. He could feel the slight displacement as the turbolift moved towards Ruka-chan's lab.
"A question, Ruka-chan," Fredericks asked as he panted from the exertion of pushing Ruka-chan at a very fast pace.
"You're a genius. Why not just regenerate your limbs and eye or, at the very least, use cybernetics? These things are not beyond your abilities, are they not? What reason do you have for keeping on looking like that?" Probably she just enjoys people pushing her around in a wheelchair and seeing them die of exhaustion, he thought to himself.
The wheelchair bound genius looked at her companion, a wide smile on her face, eye crinkling behind the clear lens of her glasses.
"The best reason of all. It makes me look really cool!"
Fredericks tried not to facefault into the hard titanium flooring.
Haruka Ten'ou woke up.
She was expecting her husband to greet her with a "Good morning" and kiss her passionately while his hands roved over her body like he had been doing for the past three hundred years or so of their marriage.
What she got was totally different.
She woke up to Michiru hugging her. Her sleep-addled mind thought over this little fact and decided to say to itself, Isn't Michiru supposed to be doing this with Setsuna?
She closed her eyes to get back to sleep.
After a few moments the thought hit her again as Michiru snuggled up a bit closer.
Michiru's in bed with me! The realization struck her like a mental equivalent of a freight train. She opened her eyes and checked again. Yup, that's Michiru.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes to try and calm herself.
Then Michiru kissed her on the cheek.
That was when she screamed.
Hotaru Tomoe was having her usual breakfast. Setsuna-mama always cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast, and since she was the one that always woke up first, she was breakfast cook by default.
Hotaru sighed. Usual breakfast, usual orange juice, usual walk to school, usual day of school and usual walk back home; this was starting to become way too routine. Except for the occasional monster attack or evil entity from beyond space and time, nothing really happened. You would think a Senshi's life would be a little exciting.
Not that Hotaru liked the danger or the monsters. She just wanted a little spice to her life. She liked the peace and quiet, but she did want a few more surprises in her life other than being Sailor Saturn. The way things were going, she could probably time everything that happened today down to the second. The Senshi of Saturn smiled at the thought and decided to do just that. Who knows, it might be fun.
She looked at the clock. Setsuna-mama always cooked her bacon for exactly five minutes, and the eggs would follow thirty seconds later; then she'd set the first plate of breakfast at Hotaru's table setting; she'd smile at Hotaru for five seconds, and if Hotaru smiled back, she'd go back to cooking the other's breakfast; if not she'd ask what was wrong. Okay.
Setsuna transferred three strips of bacon onto a plate. Okay. She's waiting for the sunny side-up… three… two… one. The egg goes on the plate, its yellow yolk wobbling a little. Setsuna gracefully set the plate in front of her young charge and smiled, wiping her hands on her apron. Hotaru decided to smile back, not wanting to disrupt the timetable she had set up.
Setsuna returned to cooking for the absent pair. Hotaru giggled a little. That was fun. Easy, too. Now that breakfast was in front of her, it would be several moments before any sound would be heard from Haruka-papa's and Michiru-mama's room. Five minutes, then they'll be out and about, Haruka in a white shirt and boxers, while Michiru would be wearing a green bathrobe and pink slippers.
Hotaru sighed again. Routine, always routine. Kami-sama, she silently wished, how about something interesting happening that didn't involve evil monsters trying to take over the world?
That was when she and Setsuna heard Haruka's scream.
Hotaru and Setsuna entered the room to see the sight of Haruka trying to scramble away from the bed. Michiru had a surprised look on her face as she saw her love trying to get away from her.
"Haruka, what are you doing?!"
Haruka ignored her as she looked to the door hearing the other occupants of the apartment arrive. Setsuna's here, check. Why the hell is she wearing that apron?! And who's the little girl…?
Haruka's eyes widened as recognition dawned on her.
The dark hair cut to shoulder-length.
The wide purple eyes.
The pale skin.
The beautiful, innocent face.
A face she hadn't seen for over three hundred years.
"Hotaru?! What?! But you're—"
The shock was too much for Haruka, like her counterpart. That, and hitting herself on the headboard when she moved her head back, of course.
She went off to dreamland with a ringing knock. Her husband had always told her she had a hard head.
Haruka loved speed. She always loved to push things to their limit, feeling the wind in her face and everything going past her in a blur.
But, although she loved the speed, she just couldn't drive. Every time she had tried to drive, she crashed the car, resulting in her rather irrational fear of being in the driver's seat of one. She just couldn't figure out why. She rode motorcycles just fine, though she hadn't done that in quite a while; airplanes and helicopters were child's play, even piloting a starship came to her naturally, but for some unknown reason she just couldn't get into the driver's seat of something having four wheels and a steering wheel without crashing it. She shivered a little, remembering the time Sorano brought her on a date to a carnival and convinced her to take a spin in the bumper cars. Sheesh, they were supposed to crash into each other and she still managed to mess up that one.
Because of this fact it was quite understandable for Haruka to scream when she woke up, foot on the accelerator, hand on the steering wheel, and one foot on the clutch of what seemed to be a bright yellow sports car. She could see that she was on a vast stretch of coastal highway, and she was going fast enough that she could already envision the bright orange fireball of her crash. The car started to swerve and was going to crash into a rail, when a steady hand sprang out from the right, took hold of the wheel and set it on its course.
"Steady! Dammit, we almost crashed there, you idiot!" her unknown companion berated her as Haruka held the car on it's course with her aid.
Haruka managed to steady the wheel and sighed in relief. She looked to her side to see who was with her in the car. She almost lost control again, when she saw who it was.
It was her, dressed in a brown sports coat, white shirt, and pants.
Haruka gaped at the sight of her doppelganger. After noting what her passenger was wearing, she finally noticed that she was wearing the same outfit, feeling a bit uncomfortable in it.
"Who are you?" she asked as she steadied her hold on the steering wheel with both hands. She could feel the harsh bite of the wind on her face and her short, blonde hair being blown back by the wind, telling her that the speed they were going in was probably in the 80s or 100s.
"I'm you and you're me, simple as pie," her passenger told her with a roguish smile. If I didn't known any better, Haruka thought to herself as she spared her duplicate a look, I would swear that she looked like a handsome young man.
"What?!" Haruka exclaimed. "Wait a minute, I don't remember having anything like that in my wardrobe anymore. Though I do have an old outfit that looked similar stashed away somewhere in the closet."
It was now her companion's turn to be surprised. "What do you mean that you don't have an outfit like this?! I have a few others, but this is the one we use most of the time, though there are a few dresses when Michiru feels… you know…" Her look-alike trailed off, face flushing.
Haruka arched an eyebrow. This was starting to get really weird. She was going to say something when three voices seemed to boom out in the heavens.
"Is she all right?" a voice that Haruka identified as Hotaru's asked.
"She's okay. Just fainted." Setsuna's voice answered.
"Fainted? Why would she faint?" Michiru's voice asked, a worried tone creeping into her voice.
Her duplicate looked up then returned her eyes to Haruka. "Well, it seems we won't be able to talk yet. See you later."
"Huh?" Haruka blinked in surprise as everything seemed lose focus and fade out.
Haruka felt a dull pain in the back of her head as she propped herself up on the bed. "Ow!" she exclaimed, massaging that part of her head with one hand. She slowly opened her eyes to see the other occupants of the room looking at her, worry in their eyes. Her eyes widened a bit as she saw Hotaru and she shook her head.
"So… it wasn't a dream," she said, feeling weak.
"What's not a dream, Haruka?" asked Setsuna, who had gotten rid of the apron and was now standing in what the other Senshi called the Enigmatic-Guardian-of-Time pose.
Haruka ignored her, held the blanket around herself tightly as she stood up woozily and went to the window.
"What is it Haruka?" Michiru asked, puzzled by her lover's behavior.
Haruka looked outside and gasped. "What year is it?"
It was now Setsuna's turn to be puzzled. "Why?" the Guardian of Time said as she stood up and went to stand beside Haruka, looking out the window.
"That isn't Crystal Tokyo," Haruka said, eyes taking in the sight of early morning Tokyo. Twentieth Century Tokyo.
"Crystal Tokyo? But this is the 20th century! Why would you—"
Haruka's face showed obvious strain as she returned to the bed and sat on the side. "I went to sleep last night in Crystal Tokyo."
"What?!" Setsuna said, her eyes narrowing in puzzlement. She hadn't seen this with her Sight. Nothing was supposed to happen until six months from now, and suddenly this.
"You mean you don't know anything about this?" Haruka asked, surprised.
"No," the Guardian of Time said, with a shake of her head. "I would have known if there were anyone who used the Gates of Time."
"Well, can you send me forward? Sorano's probably worried as hell." Haruka sighed. He's probably tearing his hair out again, she thought with a slight chuckle.
"Sorano? Who's Sorano?" Hotaru asked, finally managing to say something.
"You don't know him? If you're here, that means the Deathbuster incident is over. Sorano should be here…" Her voice trailed off when she remembered something.
Something was very wrong here. She didn't remember sleeping with Michiru. Hell, she didn't even swing that way! Besides, Setsuna was supposed to be the one in bed with Michiru.
"Um… Michiru, when did we start sharing a bed?"
After glancing at each other with a stunned looks, the three other outer Senshi in the room decided a strategic fallback to a corner of the room. After a few moments of whispering, meaningful looks and the protests of a fourteen-year-old, Hotaru was unanimously voted as the one to check Haruka's mental condition since Michiru wanted to talk with Setsuna about her lover's little memory problem. She walked back to the bed, hesitantly, and sat on the side where Haruka was while her elders conferred behind her.
"Well, what do you think?" Michiru asked Setsuna worriedly as they watched Haruka, who was talking with Hotaru on the bed.
"She seems to be confused about something, but that is natural for most adults who time travel."
"She doesn't remember me, Setsuna! I do not think that's just confused. That's serious brain damage for Haruka."
Setsuna judged that she had better bring Michiru to the kitchen and give her a good cup of coffee, before she really panics. "And what was she talking about a Sorano? Setsuna, don't tell me she's seeing someone else!"
"Let's go to the kitchen and have it over a cup of good coffee, okay?" Setsuna suggested, leading Michiru out and trying to calm the younger lady before she totally broke down.
Hotaru was starting to become really uncomfortable with the look Haruka was giving her. It was a look that seemed to be twenty-five percent fear, twenty-five percent confusion… and the remaining fifty percent was loving affection. The fear and confusion part she could handle; the loving affection, however… It was as if she had suddenly come back to life or something, the way Haruka was looking at her.
"So, you come from the future?"
"I think so…" Haruka said as she shook her head and leaned back on the bed's headboard. She put her hand on her forehead and massaged it to ease the dull pain that seemed to linger there.
She opened her eyes again and looked at Hotaru. She could see the discomfort on the young girl's face as she reached out and touched Hotaru's arm, running her hand up towards the shoulder and ending on the younger girl's cheek. Oh, Hotaru-chan, Haruka thought to herself, a sad little smile forming on her lips. It's been a long time since you've looked like this, she thought to herself as she ran her hand through the raven-haired girl's black tresses.
Maternal instincts rushing to the fore, her eyes welled up with unshed tears as she suddenly hugged the younger girl. "I missed you so much!"
Hotaru was stunned, to say the least. "Umm… Haruka-papa, why miss me? I mean, I must be living in Crystal Tokyo just like you, right?" she said feeling frightened of the implications. Besides, being hugged like that while the hugger was naked underneath a blanket tended to result with your head being uncomfortably close to someone's uncovered bosom.
Wow, Hotaru thought, how does she manage to look like a man with these? A thought she crushed quite quickly. I really need a boyfriend, she told herself as she tried to maneuver a little so as not to avoid embarrassing anyone. Good thing Setsuna and Michiru had left the room.
Haruka noticed the younger girl's discomfort and she eased out of the hug. She also hiked up the blanket to cover her breasts so as not to embarrass Hotaru. Then she realized what she had just said. Setsuna's going to be really pissed, and it'll probably depress Hotaru if she found out. Time to lie again.
"Well, you see Hotaru, you're not usually in Crystal Tokyo," Haruka said, trying to concoct something in her mind. "Being Fleet Admiral's a big job, and you have to leave a lot." Well, that was technically true. Hotaru was Fleet Admiral when the Black Moon attacked and she had to…
Haruka turned away that train of thought. The young girl before her didn't need to know that. She smoothed Hotaru's hair again, feeling the silkiness of it and looked into the beautiful face. "I haven't seen you in a long time that's all. I just miss you a lot. Can you give me a hug?"
Hotaru could see the sadness in Haruka's face when she told her about being away a lot. She smiled and gave the older woman a great big hug. She could feel Haruka's hands stroke her hair again and hold her head to her, holding her like a mother held a sorely missed child. It was a touching moment.
Which was totally ruined when she saw the clock set on a nearby dresser.
"I'm gonna be late!" The Senshi of Death and Rebirth screamed out loud as she gave Haruka a hurried kiss and hastened out of the room to get ready for school.
Haruka just watched with a motherly smile as the younger girl scrambled out of the room.
With Hotaru's departure for school, Setsuna and Michiru had to deal with Haruka. They had come up with the simple plan of proceeding as normally as possible. Haruka and Michiru were going to practice for an upcoming concert while Setsuna was going to try to figure out what had gone wrong. Michiru would note everything that Haruka did differently and report it to Setsuna, to help fix the problem.
The first sign of more trouble was when it took Haruka over an hour to get ready to leave.
Setsuna and Michiru gaped at the sight of Haruka, as she stepped out of the bedroom and into the hallway. Hotaru had already left for school and thus was not treated to the spectacle that the two Senshi beheld. Well, treated would not be Michiru's word for it. More like astounded beyond belief.
Haruka was wearing something that she didn't usually wear in public: a dress. A white skirt, obviously borrowed from Michiru's wardrobe since it lacked a couple of inches, swirled around her high-heeled feet. Her white shirt was tucked in, a brown vest buttoned over it. A green tie, loose on her neck, completed the outfit. Both women could see the light makeup that she had applied on her face. Haruka was still putting lipstick on, so she looked into the hall mirror and completed her task, pursing her lips and giving the mirror a pouty smile before turning to her audience. A black leather handbag was slung on her right shoulder. She put the lipstick into the handbag and looked up to her spectators.
"So? How do I look?" the very feminine looking blonde asked with a cute smile on her lips.
Both women just stared at her, eyes wide. Haruka looked at them questioningly.
"Um… do I look that bad? I just threw on whatever looked good and I borrowed a few of Michiru's things. I hope you don't mind, Michiru…" Haruka trailed off as the two women before her continued staring.
"What are you looking at?" Haruka said, irritation starting to creep into her voice. "What's wrong?"
"Um…" Michiru started, "You're wearing a dress."
"So? What's wrong with it?"
Setsuna shook her head, a puzzled look on her face. "Nothing. Nothing's wrong. We just haven't seen you in a dress for some time. Excuse us for a moment, Haruka," the Guardian of Time said, putting a delicately manicured hand on Michiru's shoulder and pulling her into the bedroom. Rather quickly, and closing the door just as abruptly.
"Okay, I'll be waiting outside," Haruka said aloud with a knowing grin. Sheesh, if Setsuna wanted to give Michiru a goodbye kiss, she didn't need to go and drag her into a room.
As they heard Haruka walk off, high heels a-clicking, Michiru and Setsuna caught the faint traces of the perfume that she was wearing, since they had entered the bedroom she had come out of. Michiru looked near the vanity table, where she found the bottle of expensive French perfume that Haruka had bought for her last Christmas.
"I think we have a big problem, Setsuna," she said as she held up the bottle.
"Umm… I think you should drive," Haruka said as she nervously gave the car keys to Michiru. The bright yellow sports car before her looked familiar, but she couldn't put her finger on where she seen it before.
"Why?" Michiru said.
"I really don't want to wreck such an expensive car."
Wreck it? Michiru thought to herself. "But Haruka, it's your car. You've been driving it as long as I've known you."
Haruka's eyes widened as her head whipped around to look at Michiru. "I've been driving this?!"
"It must cost a fortune to replace this car every week!"
"Replace it? Why?"
"I can't drive!"
"What do you mean, you can't drive?"
"Like I said, I can't drive."
"Haruka…" Michiru said, starting to become irritated. The plan was to have at least a normal day with Haruka, and try to take note all the differences in behavior that she was having. From all appearances this was going to be a long day.
"Okay, okay, if you say I can drive, I can drive. I just don't want to drive today. Why don't we take a taxi instead?" Haruka said, trying to placate Michiru. She'd been on the receiving end of Michiru's anger a few times, and she knew how nasty the turquoise-haired Senshi could get.
Setsuna looked on as Michiru and Haruka took a taxi. She sighed and rubbed her forehead trying to ease the ache that was starting to build in her head.
She turned away from the window and immediately transformed to her Senshi form. Summoning the Time Staff, she shifted her way out of the real world into the Timeless. Standing before the Gates of Time, she summoned her power.
She was going to get the bottom of this, and whoever was responsible would be feeling her staff smash into their heads.
Souichi, Sayuri, and Hotaru Tomoe sneezed simultaneously as they cleaned the Tomoe family laboratory. There was quite a mess from the earlier accident, and since Kaori was quite tired of cleaning up after her husband's and daughters' experiments, she just gave all three of them the mops and the Look. The other reason was because she was occupied in trying to calm Hotaru's young friend.
"Are you alright, Ten'ou-san?"
"Umm… I think so."
"Well, we better get you out of this stuffy laboratory and get you a good glass of brandy."
"I'm not allowed to drink yet, Tomoe-san," the blonde girl said, still trying to gather her thoughts, while looking off in space.
"Well, that's all right. It's for medical reasons," Kaori joked, smiling with amusement.
That brought quite a response from her two friends, Sayuri and Hotaru, who were helping their father in getting rid of the carbon foam.
"Oneesan, did I just hear Haruka giggle?"
"Yup." Hotaru was as stunned as her sister. Haruka never giggles. She laughs. She laughs loud and boisterously, like the way most boys laughed. Or chuckled. But giggling?
This was going to be obviously a very long day.
To be continued.
Author's notes: In the Council of Chronos—
Pluto #1: Michiru-Pluto during the '70s. Imagine SM with a '70s streak: Mamoru in bellbottoms, etc. etc. ^_^
Pluto #2: Your run-of-the-mill Setsuna-Pluto. 'Nuff said. ^_^
Pluto #3: A Minako-Pluto from a world where SM happens in Victorian England. All prim and proppa, guv'nor ^_^
Pluto #4: My favorite: Hotaru-Pluto from Trial and Error.
Pluto #5: Nyarlathotep-Pluto from my incomplete and writer-blocked Lovecraft/SM fic "Masks of Pluto". Pretty nasty.
Pluto #6: Kasumi-Pluto. Hey, I had to balance Nyarly with someone really nice.
The Enforcer: Washuu-Pluto. Don't ask where this came from. Besides I envisioned hordes of Mecha-Washuus running all over the Pluto dimension.
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