Continuing Tales

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 11 of 13

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Fatal Exposure

Makoto came at Haruka with the blade like a woman possessed. There was no grace or thought behind the attack, just an explosive anger that fueled her moves. As undisciplined as she was, Makoto managed to make her opponent take a few steps back from the raw, savage fury of her attack. Haruka let Makoto take what, under any other circumstances, would have been a lunge that left her open for a fatal blow before knocking the blade from her hands with a deft parry.

The wooden kendo practice blade skittered across the room. Kino Makoto watched it slide to the other end of the room then turned and walked back to the mirrors that lined one wall of the small dojo. She bowed her head and shook it back and forth slowly.

"I know, I know, that was stupid," Mako said between deep breaths. "But I really needed to do it."

Haruka came up behind her and placed a hand on the younger woman's shoulder. "I've been teaching the art of the blade for more a year now and you throw it all away to act like a common brawler. For shame, Mako-chan, haven't you learned anything?"

A wicked light came to Makoto's eyes as she reached up and took Haruka's arm. A shift of her weight and she sent Haruka flying. TheSenshi of Uranus regained her balance in the air with a flip. She landed in a crouching position, ready for more.

"Oh, I remember a few of the things you taught me, Sensei Haruka-san," Mako laughed.

Haruka lunged for Makoto and they tumbled to floor. In an instant both were back on their feet. Haruka let a series of lighting fast blows loose, but Mako dodged each and every one. Next it was Makoto's turn to try a sweep, then a bear-paw thrust that most people couldn't defend against. With a poetic flurry of arms and legs they danced the intricate movements in a ballet of war.

Michiru came back into the dojo in time to see the two trying in vain to land a blow. She smiled as she put down the packages she carried. The expression on Haruka's face was one of genuine enjoyment. Haruka had found a kindred spirit in Makoto, someone who faced life with the

same, indomitable, fighting spirit as the Soldier of the Sky. Haruka, in turn, delighted in teaching Makoto what she could. From the look of things, Michiru decided, it wouldn't be much longer before the student overtook the teacher.

"Much better!" called Haruka, "That's it, focus!"

Michiru stepped on the practice floor. "I can't leave you two alone for a minute and you're at it again."

The two women stopped and bowed gravely to each other, than to Michiru.

"We needed to burn off a little nervous energy," Makoto smiled. "I almost had you for a moment, Haruka-Sensei."

Haruka was panting, slightly out of breath. Makoto was better than she knew. "Almost but not quite. If you ever learn to keep the clarity of focus you just showed me a moment ago, then I'll have something to worry about."

"I hate to break this up when you two are having so much fun, but there's less than an hour until sunrise," Michiru said softly. "We need to get going."

Giving a grunt of agreement, Haruka nodded. "I know. Mako-chan, would you kindly transfer about half of the groceries into your car? I need to collect a few things from here before we leave."

As Mako headed out the door, the sandy haired Senshi of Uranus moved to take several weapons off the wall. She paused as she held an antique katana in her hand. "Do you think she suspects what Mamoru's going to say at this meeting?"

"If she does," Michiru replied, "Makoto's learned enough from you to not let it show. Maybe we should tell her, Haruka."

Haruka shook her head. She knelt to pack the blades into soft clothes. "No, Mako-chan's all readt upset enough about what happened to the Princess without our adding to her troubles. If we're right, then these are the last free hours we're going to have for a very long time. Let her enjoy them."

"What happened to Usagi," Michiru placed a gentle on her lover's shoulder. "It brings back bad memories for you, ne?"

The last blade was a short one in an ebony scabbard. Haruka removed it from the sheath and considered the way the light played across the surface. "It was a long time ago. They only hurt my body. They never touched my soul." She moved to put the dagger in with the katana.

Michiru placed her palm on Haruka's cheek. Her lifemate took it silently. As Haruka looked up into the Michiru's eyes she drew strength from the love she saw there. Whatever had happened in the past, whatever would happen in the future, they had each other. It was more than enough.

"You about ready to go?" came Mako's voice from the doorway.

"Coming," said Haruka as she gathered the weapons in her arms. She paused to look around the small dojo to make sure she had everything. The Kendo Master who owned this school had let her keep some of her prized sword collection there. She hated to take it back without being able to tell him but there was no other choice.

"We should just make it back before dawn," the tall, lithe brunette said more to herself than to the others.

The two cars each had half of the supplies Michiru had bought in each trunk. Ironically enough, the ones with the least of amount family entanglements had yet to outed as Sailor Senshi. Still, they weren't going to take any chances and the two cars would take different routes back to Tokyo, just in case.

"Michiru, are you sure you don't want to ride with me instead of Speed Racer and the Mach Five?" Makoto asked with a sly smile.

Michiru gave a light laugh, "That's all right. Someone has to keep an eye on Haruka."

The Senshi of Uranus leapt over the door and into the driver's seat. "Hey, I'm one of the best drivers I know."

Michiru settled gracefully into the passenger's seat. "You're also someone who considers posted speed limits 'suggestions' instead of laws."

Haruka gave her a hawkish smile as she pulled out away from the dojo. "For you, I'll be on my best behavior today, twenty kph over the limit, max, I promise."

The Senshi of Neptune gave a laugh as fresh as an ocean breeze. Some things about Haruka would never change. And that was the way she liked it.

Usagi fumbled with the hat Mamoru had given her. It was much too large for her and she took it off again to adjust the plastic strip in back. She tried to shove her hair into the now marginally smaller hat once again. Usagi looked in the mirror. The hat was bright red with a huge "Red Sox" embroidered on it in white.

"Why do you like this baseball team anyway, Mamo-chan? They're really awful. Shingo says that they're cursed or something."

Mamoru was carefully folding an old hand towel around a photograph as he answered. "Hey, the Sox's aren't all that bad! They won the World Series in 2007."

"Yeah, for only the second time in over 80 years," Usagi continued to fidget with the hat. "Why did you stay with them for so long?"

Mamoru just shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe I'm just a sucker for hopeless causes."

Usagi looked in the mirror at her bruised face. Take our current situation for example, she mused.

Strong arms wrapped around Usagi's shoulders. "Having second thoughts?"

"It feels like we're running away, Mamo-chan," she said, leaning into his arms. "Leaving here is a lot to ask of our friends."

"Don't think of it as leaving, Usako," said Mamoru as he rested his chin on top of her silver gilt hair. "Think of it as going home."

"Home," Usagi gave a short laugh. "If I can figure out just how to access that part of the Silver Millennium that's inside the Ginzuishou, this is. If not…"

Mamoru turned her around so that they faced each other. "What ever happens we'll face it the same way we've faced everything, together."

"I can't believe you want to do this," Rei hissed at her Grandfather. She peered carefully around the corner of the building they hid behind as she spoke, "This is the one place where everyone is going to be looking for us!"

"Correction, Granddaughter," he said in a calm tone that he knew drove Rei nuts, "Everyone is looking for you. I'm just a sweet old man. Do you really think the authorities are going to risk the sight of the police dragging my frail old bones off to Kami knows where? The media would eat them alive."

Yuuichirou stood beside Rei. "Rei has a point, Sensei-sama. Why take any chances? Let me go and get the box."

"It's my box," the old man grumbled unreasonably, "and it's very important to me. I have no intentions of leaving it behind. I'm not completely in my dotage yet, Rei. I can still do a few things without help. Now, watch and learn."

That said he stepped out from around the corner and walked with a measured pace towards what was left of the Hikawa Shrine. There was a single police officer keeping the small press contingent out of the burned areas.

The blue robed old man walked right past them and ducked under the yellow tape with the words "keep out" emblazoned on it. He ignored the people who called out questions to him. He ignored the flash bulbs and the sound of video cameras whirring to life. He could not, however, ignore the shouts of the police officer.

"Hey, where do you think you're going?" The officer, a young man who looked only a little older than Rei, trotted up to elderly priest when he didn't stop. He pointed to the yellow tape, "Can't you read?"

Okibi Souji stopped and slowly turned to face the policeman. He gave him a look of utter disapproval as he pointed to the sign with the large Kanji letters on it. "Can't you read sonny? This is my shrine and I don't remember asking for a police presence."

He gave the surprised officer a dismissive wave of his hand. "But as long as you're here, you can keep those pesky reporters away while I collect a personal item. Think you can handle that? Now shoo."

The young man sputtered a moment in confusion. He'd been expecting to have a confrontation with Sailor Mars, one that would get him a speedy promotion and time on the evening news (and girls, he thought, girls love heroes!). Instead he was faced with an elderly man who reminded him of a Buddha statute.

The old man walked inside the only building left standing then reappeared a moment latter carrying a small, hand carved, wooden box. He tucked it up under his arm and smiled at the policeman on his way out.

"Good job, kid. Keep this up and you'll make captain in no time."

Grabbing the old arm by the arm, the officer sputtered at him, "You can't take that box. It might be evidence!"

The photographers started snapping pictures as the old man mugged shamelessly for the camera. In the wash of strobe lights the policeman looked suspiciously like a deer in the headlights. Okibi Souji turned to the bank of cameras and called out.

"You'd deny an old man his last possession on earth?" he called out in a loud voice that seemed to waver with the weight of his years. "Let me alone! I'm just an old man. Have you no shame at all?"

The young officer couldn't let go of the old man's arm fast enough. He pulled at the collar of his uniform once before moving towards the press. He waved his arms to shoo them away and shook his head in what he hoped looked like an official manner. By the time he finished the elderly Shinto priest was gone. How had that old man moved so fast, the young policeman wondered?

"Alright what is so bloody important that you that you took a risk like that to get?" Rei asked. Yuuichirou was driving and she sat in the cramped backseat with her Grandfather.

Souji didn't answer at once. He placed the box on his lap and gently opened the lid. On top was a faded picture of a couple in kimonos. He took it out and handed it to Rei. Just below it was another picture. An elegant woman with silver hair held a baby in her arms. The smile on her face was brighter than the sun.

"Oh," Rei whispered, "This is Grandmother."

"These pictures and what's in this box are all I have left of her. That one," he nodded to the first picture, "was taken on our wedding day. This other one, when you were about a month old."

He reached into the box and pulled out a lock of raven hair that had a small silk ribbon tied around it. "This is your mother's hair. I have some of yours in here also. My life is in this box. I couldn't leave it behind."

"You make it sound like you're never going back again, Grandpa," said Rei in a tone that almost begged him to tell her that she was wrong. "The Shrine is your home. You've watched over the sacred fire for more than fifty years."

The old man reached over and patted her hands in a comforting manner. "No, little girl, my home is wherever you are. When all this is over, maybe then we can back there. Don't worry about the sacred fire," he leaned forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "You carry it in your heart. When the time is right, you'll release it for the world to see again."

St. Jude's church was small and the last building on the block in this area of Tokyo. Usagi looked up at it, the large, round stained glass window catching the rays of the rising sun. Mamoru gave her hand a gentle squeeze and led her towards the door. Usagi followed him, still not sure of just what he had in mind.

They moved through the small vestibule and into a pew at the back of the church. Mamoru sat down beside her, still holding her hand.

"We may not have much of a chance once we're…and you know I love you…I mean…oh damn, I'm doing this all wrong," Mamoru stumbled over the words. He sighed and went down on one knee before her. "Marry me, Usako, here and now."


He took both of her hands in his and looked into her eyes. "I love you. Do me the honor of becoming my wife this day."

He was serious, she realized with surprise. "Now? Dressed like this?" She paused to reconsider her words when Mamoru laughed. "Mamo-chan, are you sure this is what you want?"

"I could have lost you yesterday. When I saw you struggling in that man's arms it was my worst nightmare come true. We should have done this a long time ago, but I'm going to make it right today." A boyish twinkle came into his midnight blue eyes, "You aren't going to make me beg are you, Usako? Because I will if that's what it takes."

"Yes, I'll marry you," Usagi replied with a breathless whisper. Mamoru raised her hands to his lips and kissed them. Usagi looked into his eyes, "It would be my greatest joy to become your wife."

"Later" finally came for Minako as she sat with Artemis in the control room. Everyone else was off doing something important and she had nowhere else to go. The loneliness, the sense of total abandonment, came crashing down on her slender shoulders and it was more than Minako could bear. While she wept, Artemis crawled into her lap. She hugged him tightly, lost in misery.


The Princess of Venus raised her head and tried to shut off the tears. "Oh, hi Mako-chan. What are you doing back here so soon?"

"Why are you crying?" The look of distress, of genuine concern on Makoto's face broke Mina's fragile hold on her emotions.

"They don't love me," she said as she began to cry again. "They never loved me and I tried so hard to make them." Mako rushed forward and to comfort her friend as she listened to the account of Minako's last trip home.

"I don't have a home anymore, Mako-chan. I don't have a family," she whispered.

"Neither do I, Minako-chan," Makoto replied with a shake of her head. "You know what? I'm really tired of being alone. I'll make a deal with you. I'll be your family, if you'll be mine." She stuck out her hand at the astonished Minako, "Deal?"

Minako looked at the hand, then up at Makoto. She gave a watery chuckle as she took the hand and pumped it vigorously, "Deal! Now that we're family, does this mean I get to barrow some your clothes?"

"Why not?" the tall brunette replied dryly. "Not being family ever stopped you before. But now you have to wash the shirts before you return them to me."

"I did wash the last blouse I borrowed from you," said Minako.

"In hot water," replied Makoto with a long suffering sigh. "My one red shirt is now pink and three sizes too small for me."

Artemis laughing caught both their attentions. They turned to look at the white feline in surprise.

"You know," he said still laughing, "You two sound like sisters all ready."

Father Francis Xavier Sullivan, SJ, looked at the two young people before him in complete astonishment. He'd been coming in to work on the antiquated gas heater in the sanctuary (and grumbling about the expense of a good plumber yet again) when they approached him with a request so unbelievable he found himself repeating it.

"You want me to what?" he said.

"Marry us," replied Mamoru. "A friend of mine, Furuhata Motoki is a member of this parish. He speaks very highly of you. He says that you're a man who can trusted."

Father Sullivan ran a hand through what was left of his graying hair. "Trusted with what?"

Mamoru and Usagi exchanged a glance. Usagi reached up and took off the baseball cap. Her glorious silver hair spilled out, falling around her like a silken veil. Father Sullivan's gaze was drawn to the crescent moon on her forehead. Who she was suddenly burst into his mind like a flash of lighting.

"Mother of mercy…" he whispered.

Mamoru continued as the priest collected himself. "We have to go away, Father, and we want to be married before we do."

"I don't suppose you have a marriage license?" Father Sullivan asked. "No," replied Usagi evenly, "We haven't exactly been in a position to pop down to town hall and get one."

"But you're both Catholic, right?"

Both Mamoru and Usagi looked nervous as they stammered a negative reply between the two of them.

"One of you? Are you at least Christians? Of legal age?" Father Sullivan fished for some way he could help these two.

"Ooh, ooh!" Usagi let out in an excited manner, "I'm a Christian and I turned twenty last June!"

Francis Sullivan sighed as he looked at the two. That they were in love was obvious. That he was in a position to marry them was less obvious. In for a penny in for a pound, he decided. Francis, boyo, he thought to himself, you're coming up in the world. You are about to marry royalty!

"Well," he finally said, "I'm a Jesuit and an Irish Jesuit at that. We've never been known for taking the easy path. Give me a few minutes to prepare and I'll be happy to bless your marriage before God."

Yoshi hadn't been sure it was them when he saw them go into the gajin church. He'd waited quietly in the back. His patience was rewarded when the woman took off the hat. It was her, Tsukino Usagi! The crescent moon on her brow was a dead give-a-way, but why was her hair silver? Maybe she'd dyed it to avoid attracting attention.

He really didn't care, Yoshi knew as he went for his cell phone. His first call was to the TV studio. His second was to the police. His last call was to an old friend. "Get our people together. We're about to show the world how to take care of those aliens."

In a small chapel normally used for baptisms in the back of St. Jude's church in Tokyo, the future King and Queen of earth stood hand in hand and watched Father Sullivan finish setting up. Usagi gave a sigh as she looked at herself.

Usako?" Mamoru quietly asked, "What's wrong?"

"Somehow I never saw myself getting married to you in jeans and sneakers. I always pictured myself in a white gown with our friends around us," she replied honestly. "But it doesn't matter, I'm just happy that we're doing this."

She couldn't quite read the expression that flickered across Mamoru's face. He stepped away from her, a sly smile coming to his lips. His hand gave a small twist and a rose appeared in it.

"Then why don't I change into something more appropriate for the occasion?"

The air around him shimmered like a wave crashing on the shore. In that magical wake, Tuxedo Kamen replaced Chiba Mamoru. Removing his hat and mask, he tossed them onto a nearby chair. With a smile he reached out an elegant hand to Usagi.

She stepped up to take his hand, and as she did so, she too blurred and changed. The glowing white gown of Serenity, last princess of the Silver Millennium, adorned her body. Mamoru raised her hand to his lips and placed a tender kiss on her palm.

"My princess," he whispered.

"My prince," she replied

"My Lord!"

They both turned to see a very astonished Father Sullivan. His face was almost as white as the vestments he wore. If the priest had harbored any doubts that the two people in front of him were truly Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen those concerns vanished in a flash of magic. He gave a small cough to get himself breathing again.

"Shall we begin?" Father Sullivan waited until the two young lovers stood in front of him before he spoke again. "It was at a wedding that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, chose to enter into his public life by the miracle of water into wine. Marriage is a holy estate, not to be entered into lightly, or irreverently, but soberly and with true commitment. The bonds forged here are meant to last a lifetime."

The priest motioned to Mamoru who turned to face Usagi. "Do you, Mamoru, take this woman to be your wife? Do you promise to love her, honor and cherish her? Forsaking all others, will keep yourself only for her until death?"

Mamoru held both of Usagi's hands in his own. He looked deeply into her eyes and lost himself in the love he saw there. How had he ever managed to find such a treasure, he wondered as he replied, "Till death and beyond, I do."

"Do you, Usagi, take this man to be your husband? Do you promise to love him, honor and cherish him? Forsaking all others, will you keep yourself only for him until death?"

His eyes, Usagi thought, those endless midnight blue eyes cut through to her soul. The devotion she saw in them was unshakable and steadfast, as was her love for him. "Till death and beyond, I do."

The priest raised his hands above their heads, "Father, all powerful and ever living God, bless and sanctify these two who come before you seeking your blessing." He made the sign of the cross over them as he intoned, "By the power vested in me by the Diocese of Tokyo, I proclaim that they are man and wife in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. What God hath joined together, let no man put a sunder."

Father Sullivan lowered his hands and winked at Mamoru, "Son, you may kiss your bride."

Mamoru didn't need to be told twice, and neither did Usagi.

Furuhata Motoki had always been a real "straight arrow". Even in college he'd managed to keep that reputation. He didn't smoke, drink (at least not to excess, he decided) or do drugs. He was polite, well groomed and just the sort of young man every parent hoped their daughter would become involved with. The thought of him doing anything less than totally legal and upright was all but unthinkable to anyone who knew him.

Which is why what he was doing now was so surprising, even to him. He finished wrapping the last of the sandwiches and put them in the box. That box was going downstairs to a secret underground control room that held some of the most wanted persons on the planet. Furuhata Motoki was a man living on the edge, just like he'd dreamed of for years.

He found that it was not as easy as he'd imagined it to be.

All those heroic daydreams never included the excess of adrenaline that coursed continuously through his body, making him jump at every little sound. He wasn't sleeping well, couldn't eat very much because of the fear that lived in his guts and had cut himself in several places as he shaved this morning.

But despite the wear and tear on his nerves, Motoki decided that he'd do it all again if given a choice. He'd found, much to his delight, that he was the man of honor he'd always hoped to be. Heroes, it seemed, didn't always wear a cape and a mask.

Something caught his eye as he turned to get the thermos of coffee behind him. Reaching over, he turned up the small television on the counter beside him. What he saw made his heart stop. The newsman's face looked grim.

"…Tentatively identified as Tsukino Usagi and Chiba Mamoru. The whereabouts of the rest of the fugitive Sailor Senshi is unknown right now. There are at least two dozen heavily armed soldiers now surrounding St. Jude's church. The crowd is building, also, and they seem upset. I think this is another appearance of the "Pure Earth" group, who took responsibility for the shootings outside our broadcast headquarters."

The box of food forgotten, Motoki raced for the entrance that would take him to the control room. He knew St. Jude's church, and he knew it would take close to twenty minutes to get there from here. He prayed that they could get to Usagi and Mamoru in time to help them.

Fatal Exposure

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 11 of 13

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