Continuing Tales

The Ties that Bind

A Sailor Moon Story
by Firefly-shy

Part 15 of 30

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The Ties that Bind

Black eyes met silver eyes, met yellow eyes.

"What news, Lupia?"

"The Moon Child is not ready to be taken."

Lupia, the Wolf, the first general of the Phantom Queen, hunched over her own form, contorted in on herself as though her spine was made of some contracting rubber, nothing like flesh and bone.

"You might have spared us that," the blue-haired woman snapped, even while she tittered at the Wolf. She covered her mouth with a thin, scaly hand.

The Wolf's eyes narrowed to slits, and low growl sounded in her throat.

"What of the other?" the voice from the dark demanded.

Silver eyes and Gold eyes flicked to the shadows where the Shadow waited but they couldn't find her eyes there. The soft rustle of feathers in the wind could be heard faintly above their own breaths.

"I have sent my last Hound to take her, but her guardians proved too strong."

"Too strong?" Silver-eyes shrieked a slithery laugh.

"Surely not, they are only two."

"They are powerful," Lupia repeated, "I will have to fetch her myself."

The silver eyed woman gave a snort.

"Peace, Angula."

The shadows melted and the woman with eyes like cesspools of time and space - so fathomless that they ate light - emerged. Both the Eel and the Wolf avoided her gaze.

"The Queen has spoken - she would not send her strongest messengers - her true representatives - unless we could accomplish her task quickly and without fail. We must bring the two - the child of ruin and the child of birth - so that they may be reunited with her - so she will be whole once more."

Lupia and Angula bowed their heads in obedience.

"Birth, Life, Death," they murmured together, "The goddess guards them all."

"Go then," Corvus commanded, gathering her black feathered robe, like a shadow, around her.

"Lupia, if you cannot succeed -"

Lupia halted, and turned to hear the elder woman speak.

"Angula will replace you in this task. And the Queen will know of your failure."

Lupia flinched, but turned her face way from the other women - she didn't want the Eel to see her fear.

The Thread...the Enemy...the Crystal...the Past...the Present...Fate...Destiny... Ami's thoughts ran on in the same track, over and over. The same repetition when she woke up, when she brushed her teeth, when she ate breakfast, when she walked to class...there was something she was missing - if only she could see it. A pattern or something out of place. But what?

"Hi, Ami."

Ami stiffened at once. She knew that voice - it sent chills down her spine - for a variety of reasons. Cautiously, and with great courage, she peeped around her shoulder.

Zoe stood behind her, smiling - looking surprisingly unlike himself. Instead of the usual designer clothing and the carefully disheveled, yet casually handsome appearance, he was instead dressed quite normally - like any usual college student. His shirt was even wrinkled - there was a stain on his jeans.

"I didn't know you wore glasses." It popped out of her mouth before she had a chance to catch it.

His green eyes wrinkled behind the square lenses.

"Yeah, sometimes I do."

"Is that a black eye?" she asked, astounded.

Zoe's smile turned, just for a moment, into that familiar mischievous grin. It was so quick she almost missed it.

"Yeah, I had a run in with a monkey. Look, I need to get to class but I thought you might want this - you left it in Mamoru's apartment."

He held out her calculator.

Hesitantly, unsure at his passive (and weird) behavior, she reached out and snatched it.

"Thank you."

She waited for the coming maelstrom of affection - the passionate embrace, the seizure of her hand - at the very least an impertinent personal comment.

To her surprise Zoe merely smiled again and said:

"No problem. See you."

With that, and only that, he turned on his heel and walked off to class. Ami stared at his back until he disappeared into a far distant classroom.

'Did that really just happen?' she wondered. Zoe, who couldn't keep his hands off of her - Zoe, who had no self-control - Zoe, who - who...had a black eye?

Zoe was behaving as if they were nothing more than friends...acquaintances... Did he have a concussion?

Ami let out a long, long sigh of relief.

Whatever the reason for his sudden change of heart, it didn't matter. Finally, she was going to get some peace.

So why did she feel a slight bit of...disappointment?

Rei sucked in a long breath and tried not to scream.

The room was in a mess - her grandfather was ill, and cranky - and both the children were sick as well and had been since yesterday.

Of course this would be the time that some idiot decided he had to ask her out on a date.

"I'm very flattered," she lied through her teeth to the unworthy object, "But I'm really busy - and not interested in dating -so -"

"But, I just thought that we could go out for a coffee -"

Big brown eyes pleaded with violet ones, but there was no giving in that steel lily gaze.

"I'm sorry, but -"


The little voice from inside was accompanied by a rack of coughing.

The harried look returned to Rei's eyes and she considered simply shutting the door in his face.

"Alright, well if you'll just let me -"

She was turning and he was coming forward, and somehow her hand slipped on the door, and his foot on the step - with the end result that Rei and the fair unknown came tumbling down together on the shrine steps - hard.

To his credit he jumped up quickly enough and tried to offer assistance - but Rei - more in pain than in annoyance - hit his hand away roughly.

"Need some help?" A voice, crisp and sharper in tone than usual, made this pronouncement from somewhere above her head.

The young man looked up to meet the clear, cool gaze of a very imposing looking man.

"She just - I was just - " he fumbled in English.

"No need to explain," Jade answered in Japanese, smiling insincerely, "I can see this is an awkward situation for both of you."

To his surprise there was no quick barb from Rei, not even a snort.

His eyes narrowed and instinct kicked in. With a swift and delicate gesture he helped the young man up and away from Rei and propelled him toward the exit. The young man made as if he wanted to say something else, but Phobos' and Deimos' piercing gazes seemed to unman him. He made a quick get away.

Jade watched Rei for a short moment, then knelt beside her.

"Are you hurt?" his voice was pitched low, and very soft.

In answer, Rei brushed her hair over her face and turned away. But he caught the glitter in her eyes and with another swift movement he had hooked her arm around his neck and his arm under her knees and lifted her up.

"What are you doing?" she hissed, putting up a little fight as he carried her into the shrine.


He put her down on the cushions and left her to fix her features - he returned in a moment with ice wrapped in a cloth.

The minute he touched her leg, she jerked away from him. He put the ice bundle down on the floor and gave a small sigh.


Against her will, she found herself looking into his eyes. To her surprise their expression was one of patience and simple exasperation - like the parent of a bad tempered child. At that moment, seeing that look of utter acceptance - of calm - all the fight went out of her. She let out a low sigh and he smiled to himself in gentle amusement.

Coughing came from the room next to them, breaking their gaze.

Jade looked away and then back.

"Are the kids sick?"

Rei nodded.

"They have the flu. It's time for their cough medicine."

She started to rise, but he gently pressed her shoulder.

"I'll do it. Where is it?"

She opened her mouth to protest - but an overwhelming weariness washed over her.

"In the cabinet, next to the refrigerator."

He stood and exited again.

Rei waited until he was gone and then leaned back against the cushions, letting her leg extend and her ankle relax. The cold compress he'd put on it soothed the pain of the sprain, but the pain in her heart and head still throbbed. She was tired and worried - about her grandfather, about the children, about Usagi, about the new enemy, about her father...and even...about Jade.

At some point she must have started crying - but she didn't realize it until Jade was pulling her head against his shoulder and smoothing her hair. She wanted to pull away, but couldn't find the energy. She gasped when he touched his cheek to her forehead - but he pulled back and looked down at her after only a few seconds.

"You're too warm, Firebird," he murmured.

It could have been the name - or the tone in which he uttered it - or the fever - but Rei's cheeks burned a little brighter.

"How long has it been like this?"

She didn't have to ask what he meant. He had always been too perceptive. Annoyingly so.

"A long time."

He continued to hold her face in his hands - lightly.

"It's Ok now. You know that, right?"

He watched her eyes - glittering from tears and from her fever - even pale and worn beyond her endurance she was still trying to be tough in front of him.

"Right?" He whispered, drawing her face closer to his until their foreheads touched.

"I'm here now."

They were very simple words. When she looked back on her behavior later, she was appalled at her lack of self-control - but they affected her deeply.

She let her head fall forward onto his shoulder. Just for a moment. Just long enough to take a breath. But he understood it for what it was and before she could pull back he captured her head, gently, and patted it.

"Come on," he said, "It's time you went to bed too."

He pulled her up and slipped her arm around his shoulder again, and carried her into her bedroom, letting her get herself into bed. He brought her the same medicine and a glass of water, and a pillow for her foot and the ice-pack.

"Now, go to bed and sleep like a good girl."

She mustered enough energy to scowl at this and was rewarded with his chuckle.


He waited until his face recovered from the thrill of hearing her say his name for the first time (and not in a tone of anger or resentment). Then he turned.

"Thank you."

She gave him a small smile - it was the first smile she'd given him this time around. He caught it and tucked it away in the place he kept all the little mementos of her that were most valuable to him.

Sleep tight, Firebird.

He slipped her door closed, walked into the hall and pulled his sweater off - and set about the arduous task of cleaning the shrine.

Nolan frowned at his phone, as though it had just finished delivering a very offensive insult to him.

Jade had, in fact, just called to cancel their outing to the Garden and Shrine Exhibit. He had said he was too busy 'keeping house' - whatever that meant.

Nolan snorted. Then winced. His head still hurt from Zoe's vicious punches (in particular his skinny, knife-like knuckles). Luckily Nolan didn't bruise as easily as Zoe, but his lip was swollen and he had a cut above one eye that required a band-aid.

He stuck the phone back into his pocket and stuck his hands in after it. What was he supposed to do now?

As though in answer to his question he felt a tap on his shoulder.

Turning around he froze at the eye-level emerald gaze.

"Hi, Nolan."

Nolan tried to force his mouth open, unsuccessfully, but on the third try he managed to produce noises.


Makoto grinned.

"You seemed kind of...thoughtful - I hope I didn't bother you?"

"No!" He cleared his throat, "Not at all, I -"

"What happened to your face!"

Makoto's tone changed completely as she openly gawked at his head.

"Uh, I had a slight...altercation with...a friend."

Suddenly she laughed - a bright, tinkling sound.

"It's hard to imagine someone getting into a fight with you - at least willingly!"

He smiled, then winced as his lip cracked and bled.


Before either of them thought about what they were doing, Makoto lifted her handkerchief to his lip and he put his hand on hers.

Both of them jerked back at once.


"No, it's alright."

"Here," she thrust her handkerchief into his hand.

He looked at it for a moment, then lifted it to his lip.

"It will get dirty," he observed.

"It's alright - I can wash it."

They both looked away, suddenly shy.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, at last.

She shrugged. Acutally I was looking for you because I want to know exactly what it was like to be in love, but without actually being that way - so can you put aside your feelings and just explain it to me objectively? ...That probably wouldn't go over very well - she considered.

"Just on my way to the store for groceries. What about you?"

"Well, I was going to meet Jade but he had to cancel on me."

"That's too bad."


Idiot! His inner voice wailed. Do something - now!

"Would you," he began, giving a cough for good measure," Would you care to - ah - I mean, if you aren't busy -"

"Oh," she blinked, "Uh...yeah. I have some time."

"Oh, great."

They stood awkwardly again - wanting to look at each other, but not wanting to get caught.

"Let's walk," she said, finally, and, relieved, he set off after her at a brisk pace, still holding the handkerchief to his face. He took a deep sniff when she wasn't looking - it smelt of rain and roses, and the earth. He sighed softly. Just as he remembered it. On a day much like this one, they had once taken a walk along the sea shore just outside the Golden Palace - beyond the view of anyone else of course. Her hair had been down - flowing behind her back - a beautiful copper against her white dress. The sea had sparkled in a river of gold that framed her against the glassy greeness. The same green as her eyes.


He blinked. She'd caught him looking at her - her face was red.

"Sorry, I was just...thinking about something."


"An old memory."

It was exactly the opening she wanted. That she'd prayed for.

"An old memory?"

He didn't miss the emphasis.

"Once, we spent a day by the sea," he replied, his eyes already growing distant while she watched him, transfixed by the thing she couldn't see.

"We walked the length of the shore together - and back. It took us half a day."

"We must have been hungry."

Her laugh broke the memory and he smiled at her.

"We were - but fortunately there was plenty of food. A party, in fact. It was a masked ball - your favorite."

The words came out with the look before he meant for them to, but even though she blushed, she didn't look away.

"I do like parties," she answered, quietly, "I don't get to dress up that much."

"It's a shame."

"Tell me what it was like."

They were alone now, close to the river's edge. Most of the other people in the park were gathered in the center - eating together or playing. No one could over hear them. He carefully looked down on the water and said:

"The princess was attending with the prince - since it was masked. You had both used Lunar technology to disguise yourselves even further, but no one would have recognized you anyway. Still, you liked to dress up - you like pretending to be someone else."

Makoto watched his too-familiar face, entranced, as he spoke; slowly, without her perceiving it - the mist in her mind started to stir.

"Your dress was one I had picked out for you - the first time you let me. It was dark green - so dark it was almost black. With ribbons around your neck and in your hair - you looked like a rose in full bloom. You asked me if there were green roses and you were so disappointed when I told you they didn't grow that color naturally that I spent months experimenting with white roses and green dye."

He left off to chuckle, still watching his memories play out against the shine of the river.

"The Palace glowed that night - that was what you said when I led you down the stair-case. You were glowing - that rose wasn't half as pretty as it should have been but you liked it. You wouldn't put it down the whole night. And we danced - I tried to keep an eye on the others and the prince. But they knew it was you...I told you that was why I couldn't let you dance with anyone else - because they might find out...but the truth is..."

"I just wanted you to stay with me."

The night was all around him now, he was completely lost in the memory - alone, he thought.

"The first time I ever met you, you were dancing in a rainstorm with lighting twirling around you. I thought you were a goddess - I'd been looking for one for so long. I asked you and you said, "Not really." It was so normal - such a usual thing to say - it broke a spell or maybe it cast one - I've never been sure. I'll probably never know. But I realized that I was glad you weren't a goddess...even if it meant I might never find one...because you were better than divine -"

"You were -"

He had meant to turn to her, but found when he did that she was face to face with him.

"Real," she said.

He blinked. Her eyes were clear as they gazed at him, solemn and serious - so unlike her usual gaiety - and yet, very like the real her - the her he remembered.


"Do you remember what happened after that?"

They were speaking in whispers now, even though there was no one close enough to hear them or notice.

"That night?"

She nodded, never breaking their gaze. She discovered that she could hold him with it quite easily.

"That night..." he repeated, but seemed at a loss.

"That night," she said, softly, "You took my hand and led me to the balcony and showed me the moon. It was the first time I'd ever seen it like that. And you looked at me and you said -"

"Jupiter," he whispered.

" - 'I wish you were a rose.'"

Nolan continued to gaze at her. The past and the present fused together.

"I said 'Why?'," she went on, slowly taking his hands, "And you said..."

Nolan licked his lips, and hesitated. But her eyes commanded him to finish.

"Because... then... I could keep you."

The words hung in the air between them for a second, before Makoto leaned in - broke through them like breaking a bubble - and kissed him - very gently because of his injured lip.

For Makoto, the memories had come stealing in like the sun that burns mist away in the morning - as Nolan spoke, everything came back and fell into place exactly where it belonged. There was no fear or anxiety - and she wondered for a brief moment, while she kissed him, why she had ever feared feeling this way in the first place. After all...she had always felt it.

When Nolan opened his eyes it was the present - it was daylight, not night - there were birds chirping - no ghostly music, no whirling dresses and masks - and a very real Makoto was staring up at him with amusement and tenderness in her face.

"I really have missed you, Neph."

He quickly decided there was only one proper response to this and leaned down again, but was stopped by the pressure of her finger on his lips.

"Your lip's split."

He gently but firmly removed her finger and muttered:

"I don't care."

Setsuna stood outside a well lit Parisian Hotel, only three-hundred meters from the Champs-Elysees. The night air was cool, slightly damp; she wrapped her long coat more securely around her.

Hearing voices, she turned in the direction of the Hotel. Through the revolving doors of the gilded palace came two figures and a third, smaller person behind them.

Setsuna smiled.

"Well, there you are," Haruka exclaimed, "I don't know how you can get around so fast but -"

"We're glad to see you," Michiru interrupted, "But your message was a little...troublesome."



Hotaru broke past Michiru and Haruka and ran into Setsuna's embrace. Setsuna bent, not far, and hugged Hotaru tightly.

"How are you, little firefly?"

"I love Paris!"

"Really?" Setsuna couldn't help smiling at the brilliant smile Hotaru flashed her.

"It's amazing! Haruka-papa took me to see the racing, and Mama took me to the Lo- the Lo - the museum."


"I wish we could stay here forever - it's beautiful."

"I'm glad to see you've been enjoying yourselves. There's been no trouble, then?"

"Oh, we had some weird dog-thingy we had to exterminate, but -"

Setsuna's face instantly became serious.

"You were attacked?"

"Yeah, but it took us less than a second to get rid of it."

Haruka's confident smile faded as Setsuna's face darkened.

"Did it say anything to you? Anything at all?"

"It challenged us - or something - you know, like they usually do - 'die Sailor Senshi' and all that..."

"Nothing else?"

"Setsuna, what is this all about?" Michiru slipped a hand onto Hotaru's shoulder and pulled her closer.

"I'm not sure - the others...there is a new enemy, one unlike anything we've seen before."

"Tell us."

Setsuna faced the three senshi, each with an identical solemnity. She loved being around the others, with their firey camaraderie and girlish humor, but these three were her compatriots - they shared something the others never could.

"Two weeks ago a hound-like monster appeared at Motoki's arcade. It was stronger than any enemy the younger Senshi have faced before, but they were close to defeating it when it was killed by its own commander."

"I don't understand."

"Neither do I," Setsuna sighed.

Haruka rubbed the nape of her neck, betraying her growing uneasiness.

"This being told them that it had come to take Usagi and someone it called the Child of Ruin -"

Michiru and Haruka drew closer to Hotaru.

"And that they were to return to their rightful places beside the 'Phantom Queen'."

"Ok, who or what the hell is that?"

"I have no idea."

Setsuna shook her head.

"I've never heard of anyone by that name."

"What about that witch that attacked before we found the kids - what was her name? Queen Cheryl? Something-"

"Beryl was a mortal - these things - beings - are something else. Rei thinks they may be immortal."

The other senshi were not prepared for this bit of news.

"How - i-immortal?" Hotaru asked.

"Immortal like Silver Tokyo immortal?" Haruka demanded.

"I suppose so."

"What would immortal beings want with us?"

"I don't know. Or, what is possibly more disturbing, I don't remember."

"You've lost me, Sets."

The dark haired woman turned out to look at the cascading fountain.

"It has occurred to me, from the few discussion I've had with Ami, that these beings may not be some power-crazed group obsessed with the crystal, like so many others. It is possible that they are who they say they are - and that they really do believe that Hotaru and Usagi belong with them."

"But what does that -"

"It's possible that this is all part of something more monumental than even I understand - and the fact that I, who have the longest memory of all, don't remember them is very..."

"Unsettling," Michiru finished.

"Mysteries inside mysteries," Hotaru murmured.

Haruka glanced down at her and patted her head.

"You said it, kid."

A howl sounded long and cold and shivered the air.

The Ties that Bind

A Sailor Moon Story
by Firefly-shy

Part 15 of 30

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