Continuing Tales

The Ties that Bind

A Sailor Moon Story
by Firefly-shy

Part 19 of 30

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The Ties that Bind

Hotaru woke to the sounds of rumbling and she thought it was thunder.

Pushing herself up she realized that her comfy bed was growling at the tall shadow in front of her - with a shriek she jumped up and looked wildly around her for her glaive.


The simple phrase, uttered in human-like tones, caused her to stiffen with the glaive clutched in one small hand.

"W-ho are you?"

Lupia growled and snapped at the shadow. Hotaru readied her grasp.

Suddenly, the indistinct shadow melted and a young boy stepped out of the mist. Hotaru was so startled she nearly dropped her glaive. Even Lupia's growl became a yelp of surprise - but for a different reason. She lunged forward to lick the boy's face with affection, her teeth safely sheathed.

The boy laughed, and Hotaru took the opportunity to get a good look at him.

He was taller than her, not by much, solidly built for a child of his apparent age - his movements were unusually swift. His hair was long, shaggy and red - and thoroughly unkept, Michiru-mama would certainly not have approved. His face seemed meant for smiling - boyish eyes that were quite mischievous and green as a cat's. He wore clothing similar to other Japanese young men Hotaru's age. He even had a Bleach wrist-band on his right arm.

"Where did you come from?" she asked.

He stopped petting the wolf and looked at her, with a slow smile that warmed her and made her chest un-knot itself. He didn't seem dangerous or frightening at all, and yet she felt wary of him.

"I'm Bes."

He bowed to her, and had to shove the wolf away a bit.

"Now, now, Lupia. I'm thrilled to see you too, doll, but..." he eyed Hotaru in a way that made her think, odd as it was, of Haruka and Michiru. Sometimes Haruka gave her that look when she and Michiru were giggling about something Hotaru didn't quite understand.

Lupia instantly sat.

"And you are -?"

Hotaru looked at the wolf for a moment before replying.


Bes' eyes fluttered enchantingly.

"What a lovely name. It means firefly, right?"

"It can."

For some reason her reply made him giggle. Hotaru frowned - obviously this Bes was a very frivolous sort of person.

"How did you get here? And where did you come from?" she demanded.

"Now that's a hard question to answer, Firefly -"


"That's what I said, " he agreed, "I was actually on my way somewhere else, to help out a buddy of mine, when I ended up in the Nether by mistake. But that happens a lot."


"Getting lost."

Purple eyes met green ones and a little electric current ran between them. It almost seemed like a mutual challenge.

"There's more to you than meets the eye, sugar pie."

"Just how old are you?" she asked, suspiciously.

"Eight, same as you."

Hotaru crossed her arms on her chest and assumed a disapproving air.

"Fine, fine," he sighed, "Eleventy-billion or somethingerother...does it matter?"

"You don't look eleventy-whatever - that's not even a real number!"

Bes smothered a laugh and flopped into the air, landing suspended in the mist as if it were his personal couch.

"Are you levitating?"

"No, Firefly, the mists are transmutable to those with the touch - you just have to know how."

He waved his hand and Hotaru suddenly felt the transparent greyness harden to the consistency of a cushion around her. Gingerly she sat.

"You're a tough one, aren't you?" Bes conjured a cigarette out of nowhere - as he did so his body began to grow longer, as well as his clothes - until he appeared to have aged twenty or so years. His shirt became a long, patched coat of some dark material that glimmered faintly green. He lifted the cigarette to his lips.

Hotaru gulped. Though she'd thougth him bizarre as a child, the adult Bes was even stranger - and yet charming.

"Those are bad for you."

"No, these are bad for you - I'm immortal."

"I thought so. So am I." she informed him with some pride.

"Really?" He gazed at her for a long moment. Hotaru felt his jade eyes boring into her, trying to see behind the rigid self-control.

"Got a light?" he asked at last.

"I'm a little girl!"

"Right, sorry. Well, I think I have one somewhere..." Bes began to rummage through his pockets.

"Oh, here it is - " he pulled out a match, lit it off of his shoe, and then lit the cigarette - making sure to keep the smoke out of her face.

"So, you're immortal, huh? Why haven't I ever heard of ya?"

"I - I don't know. I only just found out myself."

"Huh. Weird."

"Yes, it is."

Hotaru felt her face start to betray her - felt her eyes prickling and hot.

"Oh, now, now, now - don't cry honey."

Bes tossed the cigarette over his shoulder with no regard for where it would land and peered down on Hotaru's shiny black head.

"I'm not crying."

"Well, could have fooled me."

"I'm just upset."

"I can see that, darlin'."

"I want to go home!"


Bes reached out a hand, with a helpless look at Lupia, and patted Hotaru's head.

"Well I can't get you home but I can take you to Tokyo."

Hotaru jerked her head up, ignoring her tears.

"That is home!"

"Well I'll be damn- uh - darned." Bes exclaimed, smiling, "That's just perfect isn't it."

"Can you really get us there? Lupia too?"

"Ah, well...I don't think so -" he shared another glance with the wolf, who nudged Hotaru's hand, gently.

"It's alright," Lupia murmured in Hotaru's mind, "I cannot leave my mistress but you will be safe with him."

Hotaru looked up into Bes' boyish, yet scruffy face and wondered just how responsible such a person could be, regardless of whether he was an adult or not (of which fact she was not yet entirely certain.)

"How'd you get here anyway, Firefly?"

"The Phantom Queen."

"The Whosie-what?"

"The goddess of Fate," Hotaru whispered, close to his ear.

Bes' eyes widened.


He straightened and took Hotaru's hand before she could protest.

"I think it's about time I found my buddy."

"You ready, Firefly?" he looked down at her.

Hotaru tried not to be afraid and nodded.

"You're a brave one, aren't you?" Bes smiled, "You know Fortune favors the brave."

"Does it?"

"She, actually, although she usually don't care what we call her."

Hotaru saw the mist clearing in front of them until it began to look like a doorway.

"She? Do you know the Goddess of Fortune?" she asked, trying to keep her mind off of the nothingness that the door opened into.

"I sure hope so - I'm her avatar after all."

Hotaru looked sharply up at him.

"I'm the Guardian of Luck, by the way," he added with a sideways grin.

"I'm the Guardian of Death," she replied.

"So that's why you're a Firefly," he laughed, pulling her toward him as they leaped through the door, "Nice to meet ya!"

Hotaru managed not to scream, but she did close her eyes tight as she clung to Bes' waist and hand as they fell - and with her eyes closed, she didn't see the flashing white arm or furious red gaze that appeared in the doorway as it, and the rest of the Nether, disappeared.

Mars opened her eyes, slowly. She was in a garden - somewhere with luscious flowers, but the flowers and the fire-pit seemed out of place. She sat up and felt the smooth, cool sand of the Moon beneath her robes. She dug her fingers into it for a moment, then lifted them out, dusting the sand off. It was perfect, Moon sand. It never clung to one's shoes or clothes, or skin. Not like the sands of Mars, which were grainy and rough, and comfortingly warm.

She stood awkwardly. One foot had fallen asleep. She held one of the slender poles of the Garden arbor as she shook it and felt the pins and needles pricking her awake.


At her name, she jerked her head up so suddenly that the elaborate headdress and veils she wore almost toppled backwards. She raised a hand to steady them, and took in a deep breath.

"What do you want?"

Instead of answering her, he walked toward her - to her side, and she continued to shake her foot - ignoring him.

When his boots were in her view she put her foot down and looked up. Black eyes met blue.

"So that's it?" she sighed.

"You know?" he asked. She'd forgotten how sweet his voice could be - like honey. Usually it was acidic and sharp as a grapefruit.

"I guessed. Men usually -"

"I'm not your usual suitor."

She felt her heart beat quicken at the underlying anger in his voice - for someone so usually calm and in control, it was...shocking.

"Aren't you? You hardly know me, have hardly ever spoken to me - and yet, after seeing me a few times, you think 'she's beautiful, mysterious, I think she'd do very well' and then you seem so surprised when I don't think you'd do for me at all."

"You're being insulting," he said, after a moment, "But that's not unusual. What is unusual, however, is that you are not looking at me."

She looked up at once, defiantly. Disdainfully.

"That was childish," he said, almost smiling, "As if to say, 'there, are you happy' - yes, I am happy. Thank you. And we have spoken more than a few times."

"Argued, you mean."

"I thought you enjoyed it."

"It's not the same as a conversation."

"If you mean that we haven't discussed the weather, or our favorite fairy-tales, or colors, or wines, or families, then no...I've never been good at that sort of thing."

She felt that moment come again - the magic moment that she could never predict when his eyes would catch hers and for some reason she wouldn't be able to look away - perhaps it was because his eyes were honest.

"But then, neither are you."

She felt that urge start up inside her - it felt like a fire was welling up inside her chest and would erupt soon. And when it did it wouldn't consume her - it would consume him. Immolate him to ashes. That was why she always -

"I have to go."

After the second step she was surprised he hadn't tried to stop her yet. At the fourth step she reached the door to the Palace.

"No sisters or brothers, just a father and mother and they drive you crazy but you love them because they have such high expectations of you."

She stopped, in spite of herself.

"Red wines, particularly port. Martian vintages of course."

She turned her head, slightly.

"Surprisingly, your favorite color is pale lavender - not red like everyone thinks. You don't have a favorite fairy-tale, because you collect all of them."

"The weather -"

She was facing him now, but he hadn't moved. He simply watched her face.

"The weather on the moon is too calm. You miss the warmth."

She said nothing, and he slipped his glasses off of his nose and put them in his pocket as he always did whenever he had something important to say. Whenever he was being completely serious. She knew he only wore them as a blind - so that others would focus on the glasses and not his eyes or the thoughts behind them. Masks covering masks. But now, the first mask was off.

"I know these things without you telling me. And it's not because I'm good at finding out secrets. And it's not because I wanted to know the facts about you. It's because I can understand you, Mars. I can."

He said it with the conviction of a saint expressing his faith, and it made her wince.

"Give me enough time and I could find out everything about you. I don't want you to be mysterious, because I want to see through the veil, Mars. I... love you."

And, then, somehow, every mask was gone.

She stared at him - really stared at him. She let herself, for the first time in her entire life, imagine what it would be like to let go of that control. First his hair, bright gold like the sun, waving in the winds that only existed on Mars, and were warm and alive. Then his eyes, such a clear, deep blue - like the water she'd imagined as a child when her mother told her stories about Mercury. Then his lips and the tip of his nose - the smirk, the cheek bones, the jaw...and then all of him. Burnt to a crisp. To a cinder. Melted into ashes.

"What are you thinking?"

His voice seemed almost strangled, as if he were suffocating already. With supreme effort she reigned herself inside the flower of her calm mind.


"I can see it in your eyes," he murmured, "For the god's sake, why don't you -"

"Let it out?" she finished.

She gazed at him with cool composure - this Terran upstart of a King who bothered her night and day like a noisy little fly. Like the pea under the mattresses that never let her find rest. No, ever since she'd met him, she certainly never had a restful moment.

"I will not."

He stiffened. The blue eyes iced, and his mouth thinned to one straight line that seemed to crack.

"Sometimes, I don't understand you, Mars," he whispered.

She couldn't bare to look at him longer.

"Sometimes...I think you're mad."

She turned and walked into the palace.

"Or I am," she heard him mutter to himself as she left him standing in the glass-smooth sand.

"We both are," she mouthed the words, not even daring to give them breath:

"My love."

"Mars has taken a pretty bad hit!" Setsuna managed to call out over the noise and melee of the battlefield that had once been Mamoru's apartment complex's playground.

Setsuna herself was still reeling. She had arrived in time to witness the ending blows of the fight between Jupiter, Nephrite, Kunzite, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jadeite and Mask as they took on the combined forces of the Crow and the Eel - formidable opponents in their own rights with many helpers.

She'd delivered no blows herself, rather she'd caught Mars as the young woman was slammed against a tree by a particularly nasty bolt of electricity from the Eel. Setsuna had caught her as she slumped to the ground, but the moment they came into contact with each other, something highly unusual had happened.

Setsuna, sitting on the ground with Mars' head in her lap, but this time completely de-transformed, had witnessed a memory that didn't belong to her. She had literally been swept into Rei's past life and lived, feeling every emotion of that intimate scene.

The emotions were indescribable, and unlike anything she'd ever thought possible. Though, to be honest, she'd never really considered such a thing...and yet...

Setsuna shook her head, trying to rid herself of the other woman's feelings and memories.

A hand on her shoulder jarred her back to the present and her own mind.

"What happened?"

Jadeite was kneeling beside her, his face inches from hers as he peered down at Rei with his heart on his face, even though he didn't realize it.

Setsuna felt her heart give an erratic little beat. The pressure from his hand seemed to be warm, somehow.

She blinked and said;

"I think she's alright. She just got a bad shock."

"Mercury!" he all but barked.

The blue head appeared, somewhat disheveled.

"Yes - what - sorry we were - oh, dear."

Mercury, without many scratches since she and Zoisite had been the last to arrive, knelt beside Rei and examined her friend.

"I think she's just been knocked out, but she'll come around in a moment," Mercury murmured, "No bleeding or broken bones...she's fine."

"Fine?" Setsuna thought she heard Jadeite mutter.

"Can I move her?" he asked out loud.

Mercury nodded, already moving on to the next group.

Setsuna edged away from Rei as she watched Jadeite bend and gently gather her up in his arms. He straightened and disappeared into mid air. It made Setsuna jump - she'd forgotten that the Kings could do that.

She wondered where he would take Mars.

"Where did the enemy go?"

Setsuna looked up to find Zoisite offering his hand and a cheerful smile to her.

"I'm not sure," she answered, standing, trying to regain her usual aloofness and not quite succeeding.

"I think they pulled back for some reason," Moon declared, trying to right her tiara and failing. Mamoru, already de-transformed, adjusted it for her and turned to find Setsuna's eyes.

Setsuna blushed, but didn't quite understand why.

"Maybe something happened to their precious Phantom Queen," he snarled.

"If only," Venus sighed, looking much the worse for wear. Her uniform was torn in several places, she had burn marks on her arms and legs that were just healing and her face was smudged with dirt.

"You look like something the cat dragged in," Artemis intimated from somewhere near her ankles.

She gave him a death glare.

"Are you alright?"

Venus found Kunzite behind her, a look that was probably meant to convey concern, but mostly appeared sternly disapproving, on his face.

"I'm fine...actually, no, no, I am not fine, I am very, very upset!"

Those assembled close to her stared in amazement as Venus took her tiara off her head and threw it on the ground.

"What's the matter, Mina? I mean, Venus?" Moon asked, de-transforming.

"Are you hurt?" Kunzite asked, sharply.

Venus threw her hands up in the air.

"I am not hurt! I am pissed off!"

They all took an involuntary step away from her, except for Kunzite.

"I can understand, but I don't think that -" he began.

"You," she whirled on him, "Shut up."

Kunzite stared at her - not actually betraying shock - for him it would have been an impossibility. Instead, he de-transformed at once, as did everyone else.

"Mina," he began again.

Mina, without preamble, grabbed him around the neck and proceeded to kiss him as violently as possible.

No one moved.

Konnor might normally have been surprised, but he'd seen that glint in her eye (the one that meant she was about to do something unreasonable and impulsive) a split second before she started to jump - this allowed him approximately one half of a second to make a decision. Generally, he preferred more time to consider all the pros and cons of any outcome when deciding on a course of action, however, fortunately for Mina, this was one decision Konnor had already determined beforehand. He'd thought it through on the cab ride there, and then in between disintegrating two of the enemy. It seemed to him in those moments that life was short - in light of the events of the Silver Millennium, in light of the fact that he'd never yet confessed his actual feelings for her then or now, in light of many things it seemed logical to make the most of the time and opportunity they had now.

And so, to Mina's utter surprise, Konnor did not thrust her away, but instead looped his arms around her waist and shoulders and tugged her to him. Mina would have let out a squeak, but Konnor was too busy kissing the life out of her for her make a sound. Konnor couldn't help it; it was what he'd been wanting to do for more than one thousand years, give or take a few.

No longer conscious of anything else besides one another, a golden glow seemed to infuse both of them - bringing back the smallest, most trivial memories that trickled as gently as rain and didn't even distract them from their present activity. They broke away from one another for air, only to slip small, breathless kisses in between their words:

"I - didn't - expect - that," Mina gasped while Konnor continually interrupted her.

"Surprise," he murmured, kissing his way across her cheek to her ear.

"-Should've done this sooner -That tickles!"

"You talk too much," he breathed, and pulled her mouth back to his, feeling her giggling even as they resumed.

Mina's head started to feel a little light - was it her imagination or was her head burning right where her sigil usually appeared?

"You're glowing," Konnor interjected, stopping long enough to adjust one arm around her thighs and lift her up higher.

"So - are you," she murmured, wrapping both arms around his neck and, leaning down, soundly continued to deepen their kisses.

"Is that - normal?" he wondered, before she wound her hands in his hair and he forgot what they were talking about.

"You - think too much," Mina breathed.


Mina felt like there was something she was forgetting but she couldn't quite remember...Konnor was so distracting.


Konnor felt her begin to turn her head and growled something before insistently pulling her back.

"Youma!" Ami shrieked.

Mina and Konnor jerked away, each instantly adopting a fighting pose.

"Where!" they shouted.

They found only the others standing, staring at them. Ami was busy looking at her computer, but her ears were red. Usagi and Makoto looked as though they were watching their favorite cooking show and taking notes. Mamoru and Zoe stood with their arms crossed, very amused expressions on their faces. Nolan and Luna, however, looked positively scandalized. Setsuna seemed confused. Artemis looked manically homicidal.

"Uh, there aren't any youma..." Ami's small voice said, "I just said that..."

It was then that Mina woke up. Slowly and painfully her face turned a bright, bright red.

"Oh, crap," she groaned, not even daring to look in Konnor's direction. For his part, he didn't blush, but his face grew so stoic it might have been made of stone. He had disgraced himself in front of his men. It had been worth it...but still...

Mamoru and Zoe burst into undignified laughter.

"You were *glowing*!" Zoe crowed.

Mina gasped.

"That was our first kiss," she whispered, horrified.

"And what a way to start, V-chan," Mako winked, "Good job!"

Mina hid her face in her hands.

"I want to die."

"Absolutely glowing, man!" Zoe continued to unwisely taunt his superior.

Konnor's eyes narrowed.

"Glowing! Pink!"

Konnor's mouth twitched. He would never live it down...unless he altered their memories...

Zoe collapsed on Mamoru's shoulder, but the taller man had already stifled his laughter - only his eyes seemed to mock Konnor, in a friendly way.

"Mina!" Artemis frothed, "What the hell -"

"Mina, I certainly never expected such -" Luna began.

"I thought it was awesome," Usagi whispered theatrically, giving Mina a thumbs up. Mina tried to melt into the dirt. Unsuccessfully.

Nolan merely shook his head, and got a well deserved slap on the shoulder from Makoto.

"Don't shake your head, you jerk," she declared, "Like you and I haven't done the same thing!"

"Makoto!" he thundered, "Not now!"

"What the hell do you mean 'not now'?"

"Not in front of everyone."

"Oh, so you won't kiss me like that in front of everyone?"

"No, it's not proper."

"My ass."


Usagi edged away from the couple at this point.

"I don't care if it is," Makoto retorted, growing genuinely angry, "It shows that they love one another."

"No, it shows that they have no self-control."

"Listen, pal," she said, poking him in the chest, "This propriety nonsense is getting on my nerves. Since when were you such a stick in the mud?"

"Since when were you such a hoyden?"

Makoto gasped. Nolan looked as though he would have liked to have taken those words back, but his pride wouldn't let him.

"You were a lot more fun in the Silver Millennium."

Nolan felt genuinely hurt, and as he usually did when wounded, he reacted in anger:

"Well, you were very different yourself. I can't even find a trace of the lady I knew."

"Is that right?" Makoto balled her fists together to keep herself from crying.

"Then why don't we just end this little fairy-tale right here."



"Who asked for you to show up anyway!"

"I certainly didn't." Nolan exploded, turning back from his stomping exit.

"Stupid Terran!"

"Impossible Jovian!"

The two of them stalked to opposite sides of the decimated play ground, turned their backs on each others, and struck identical poses of indifference.

"Ok, and back to the main issue, " Mamoru broke in after an awkward moment, "Why did the - "


Everyone whipped around, fully transformed and ready to attack.

A pale haired, mild-eyed young man stood rather uncertainly, staring at them.

"I suppose I've come at a bad time, perhaps?" he asked in his gentle voice.

"Every time's a bad time these days," Jupiter quipped, with a sour look at Nephrite. He pretended not to hear her.

"Who are you?"

Setsuna's quiet but authoritative voice stopped everyone as she gracefully stepped forward toward the young man.

"That's him!" Venus suddenly shrieked.

Without explanation she jumped in front of Kunzite, splaying her hands out in a protective gesture.

"You can't have him!" she declared, "I won't let you! I love him! He's mine!"

Kunzite coughed.

"I think there's been some misunderstanding," Shai began.

"It wouldn't be the first time in the last five minutes," Mask said, wearily. Moon patted his shoulder.

"You're an immortal." Setsuna said.

"Yes," Shai answered, his eyes flicking to her face. Her deep, ageless eyes met his clear, kind gaze. For the first time, he felt hope.

"My name is Shai," he bowed, "I am the Guardian of Fate."

Moon gasped. Setsuna raised a hand and everyone stopped at once.

"You're here to help."

"Yes," he nodded, smiling.

"He looks like Naru-chan's puppy," Moon whispered to Mask. He smiled in spite of himself - the young man with hair like a lamb did look absurdly innocent and genial.

"I came to ask your help," Shai went on, "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

"Lay it on us," Jupiter said, de-transforming yet again. The rest followed suit. Konnor and Mina carefully continued not looking at each other.

"This is the first time I've ever been incarnated," Shai began, "So I hope you will excuse me if I am impolite. I was in too much of a hurry to become accustomed to your way of life."

"No worries," Usagi smiled.

"Ah, thank you," Shai began, then stopped and did a double take.

"Are you - could you be - the - the princess?" He asked, breathlessly.

Usagi blinked.

"Well, uh...I am 'a' princess..."

"The Moon's avatar?"

"Kind of."

Instantly Shai dropped to one knee and kissed her hand. Mamoru frowned and hastily helped him to his feet.

"So," he interjected, "I take it you're here because of Usa."

"Yes, the princess. I came to warn you, your highness - you see, my mistress - she calls herself the Phantom Queen -"

"What the -!" Makoto spluttered, powering up to transform yet again.

"Wait, wait - I said 'wait', damn it, Makoto!" Setsuna commanded.

Makoto clenched her fists and waited.

"Your mistress 'calls herself' the Phantom Queen, but who is she really?"

"She is Fate, the goddess. The third face of the Triple Goddess."

"The what?" Usagi asked, scratching her head.

"This is getting confusing," Mina admitted.

Shai sighed and sat down on an un-charred see-saw.

"You are the avatar of the Moon Goddess, yet you do not know that she is three in one?"

"I've never met her, Shai," Usagi replied, "I just assumed she existed. But there's no Moon Kingdom anymore, so..."

"I see... Well, the Moon Goddess, the Goddess of Death and the Goddess of Fate are three different aspects of the one goddess. She is three different entities and yet one. The Moon goddess is the goddess of creation."

"That kind of almost makes sense," Makoto commented.

"Fascinating," Ami whispered, edging closer to Shai and eying him like a tasty treat.

"The Goddess of Death rules over destruction, but this ties into rebirth. And the Goddess of Fate rules over the lives and destinies of mortals."

"I knew it!"

They all turned to look in surprise at Nolan.

"I told Jade it was true," he smiled to himself.

"So the Goddess of Fate wanted to capture Hotaru because she's the avatar of Death?" Ami guessed.

"Yes," Shai answered, slightly surprised.

Zoe caught his look and smiled.

"She's a genius," he explained, proudly. Ami rolled her eyes.

"She needs the avatars...but why?" Setsuna pursued.

Shai's face grew grim.

"Some time ago, I noticed something was wrong in the Netherworlds. My goddess had begun to behave in an unusual manner, and there were many fluctuations in the pattern of Fate's loom that were erratic, to say the least."

"Aberrations," Ami jumped in, "The reason Setsuna believes that the Shitennou are here now."

"I don't know anything about that, but I do know that a lot of strange things have happened since the goddess of Fate attempted to overthrow her sisters. She believes that if she can control all the avatars she will be able to control their power. Then she can be the only face of the triple goddess."

"This is...bizarre," Mamoru noted.

"Wait, what's the Netherworld?" Makoto asked.

"The realm between Heaven and Earth - the Realm of Gates. You see, I have guarded the gate of Fate for time immemorial - since the beginning of time, I believe."

"Oh, Sets!" Usagi broke in, "That means you and Shai are the same age!"

Shai stared at Setsuna who smiled, wryly.

"I existed before time," she said, "My father, Chronos, appointed me to become the guardian of Time. Mortal time, that is, not eternal time. That existed before I was born."

"This is getting kind of deep," Makoto mentioned, "I think I'm going to have to watch 'It's A Wonderful Life' after this."

"You are the Time Guardian?"

Setsuna was slightly startled at the reverence with which Shai pronounced her full title.


"But, you must be the one that Bes spoke of - he's my friend. He was helping me by keeping me company...but he said that there was another woman - with white hair - who came earlier."

"That was Queen Serenity, the avatar before the present princess. Her mother, in fact."

Shai nodded, taking it all in.

"Yes, that would make sense. Well, as I said, just before you met Bes -"

"Who is Bes?"

"Oh, didn't I say?" Shai interrupted himself, "Well, he's -"


In their midst, so fast that Konnor nearly didn't have time to jump out of its way, a door opened out of seemingly nowhere and a tall man with a bundle thrown over his shoulder stepped out.

"Who the hell are you?" Makoto demanded.

"I'm Bes."

"Who the hell is 'Bes'!" Mina asked.

"I am."

"Who the he-"

"Before this goes on any longer," Mamoru interrupted, "Why don't you explain, Fate Guardian."

"Gladly, my liege," Shai agreed, "This is my only friend, Bes. He is the Guardian of Luck."

Bes bowed low, even with the bundle.

"I come baring gifts."

Bes set the bundle on the ground, which unfolded itself into a tangle of arms and legs that belonged to Hotaru.

Before she could stand, Mina let out a sob and grabbed her into a tight hug and Makoto grabbed both of them into an even tighter one. Usagi jumped up and down to catch a glimpse of Hotaru, before giving up and hugging Makoto instead.

"How..." Setsuna began, swallowing hard, "How can I ever thank you?"

Bes shrugged.

"You wouldn't happen to have chocolate?"


"Oh, well."

Setsuna and Mamoru exchanged a questioning glance, then looked back at the odd young man.

"Shai, buddy! You made it in one piece!"

Bes jumped onto his oldest friend and nearly broke the smaller man in half. Yet, Shai was stronger than he looked and managed somehow to support the weight.

"Please, get off of me."

Hotaru, in the meantime, and using similar words, managed to fight her way out of the senshi embrace to fresh air.

"Are you alright?" four voices chorused.

"Yes, yes, yes...where's mama and papa?"

"I don't know, but we'll let them know you're here as soon as we can."

"I think," Mamoru broke in, "That the sooner we move from here, the better."

They all turned to look at him.

"Well," he went on, putting his hands in his pockets, "Fate stole Hotaru and was planning to steal Usagi as well. She must figure she already has Shai, otherwise I doubt you'd be free to roam around like you do now. But now that Hotaru is gone - she's going to realize what's happened. And what do you think she'll do first?"

Shai became pale.

"Of course," he gasped, "She'll come after us. And we're all in the same place."

"Oh, damn."

Mina assumed her leadership role at once. She grabbed Hotaru's hand and headed toward the street, but Konnor stopped her.

"There's a faster way," he stated and looped an arm around her waist and the other around Hotaru's.

"We'll hide - it's safer if we split up, isn't it?"

"Yes," Setsuna nodded, catching Mamoru's and Shai's eyes, "If she finds the three of you together -"

Konnor, Mina and Hotaru disappeared in the same manner that Mars and Jadeite had earlier.

"We still have our communicators," Ami remarked, "We can get into contact and come up with a plan. We should be able to turn this situation to our advantage."

"Right," Zoe nodded, "Shai, why don't you and Setsuna come with us. And your friend, too, if he wants."

"Oh, I'm game," Bes grinned, "This is the most fun I've had in years."

Shai seemed reluctant but when he saw that Setsuna agreed, he agreed to accompany them.

"Noles, I can't take all of them."

"I'll -"

"No need, " Setsuna remarked, glancing at Shai, "You boys aren't the only ones who can pull that disappearing trick, you know. Just tell us where you want us to go."

Zoe whispered in her ear.

"Meet you there!" Bes called, already stepping through a door, "Last one there -"

They never heard what it was that the last one there would have to do as Bes' door shut behind him before he could finish.

"Is he always like that?" Zoe muttered to Shai.

"You have no idea," Shai replied.

Zoe jerked Ami into his arms, laughing at her squeak of protest and the two disappeared followed by Setsuna and Shai.

Mamoru looked down at Usagi.

"Oh, fiddle," she sighed.

"Come on, bunny," he reached over and ruffled her hair affectionately before pulling her into a tight hug.

"I suppose we're staying here, then?" Nolan asked.

"Yep. Lighting never strikes the same place twice, right?"

Makoto let out a mirthless laugh.

"Well, while we're waiting for everyone to re-group, " Usagi said, picking her way through the debris of the ruined play-ground on their way back to Mamoru's apartment, "Makoto can give me another cooking lesson."

"Ye gods."

The Ties that Bind

A Sailor Moon Story
by Firefly-shy

Part 19 of 30

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