Hime/Otome Love Part Two
Generations 3 of 3 (cont)
A missing piece returned...
A silence as pregnant as the girl she was addressing quickly filled the room. Mai stared for several minutes at the silver haired girl as if attempting to discern if she was being serious or not.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I've long since speculated that there was a direct connection between the Fall of the Hime and the Rise of the Otome but until now I could only guess at the means by which this occurred. Without any solid data I could only speculate as to why the GEMs containing abilities similar to those of your Hime incarnations where drawn to you in your current forms. It would seem that all of my suspicions have been confirmed.”
“I suspected that the GEMs were manufactured through some involvement with the Hime and considering the war torn state of the world at the time of The Fall I could only surmise that the involvement was less than willing. This containment cell was likely used to collect the dispersing particles of a dead Hime, in this case... you,” she said, pointing at Mai who shifted even more uncomfortably and scooted a little closer to Mikoto. “It is unlikely that they would be able to collect all of the particles, resulting in all of you continuing to be reincarnated but without enough of your original selves to retain much of your residual memory. That is... everyone other than you of course, Crystal Princess,” she said, bowing slightly to Mikoto. “The others seem to seek out their respective partners through sheer instinct, you actually remember them.” Mikoto tried to remove her hand from Mai's but found it held firm.
“Mikoto... is that true? Do you remember our other...” her voice trailing off as Mikoto turned her face away.
“So when you saw me in that trap you knew it was me? That's why you ate my... oh Mikoto, how could you?!” This time it was Mai who tried to pull her hand away but was held in place by Mikoto who was clutching it desperately. She turned to face Mai with tears already streaming down her cheeks.
“Mai only found me by instinct, no memories from before. Thought you'd leave me... I didn't want to lose Mai so soon again! Not when she finally came back to me!” The redhead's eyes went wide with realization.
“Mikoto... how old are you exactly?” she asked, voice quavering. The girl sniffed a few times and wiped her eyes before responding.
“Three-hundred and thirty-seven,” Mikoto said, earning a collective gasp from everyone other than Miyu.
“We were together then... three-hundred years ago?” Mikoto nodded, the volume of her tears increasing greatly.
“Only five years with Mai... she was sick...” Mikoto managed before breaking down completely.
“Oh Mikoto...” Mai whispered, gathering the sobbing girl into her arms. Shizuru and Natsuki had leaned their heads together, sharing a few tears out of sympathy for the girl's pain. Even Miyu appeared somber but nevertheless, was the first one to speak.
“Mikoto, I apologize for any insensitivity but I must ask, what happened to her body when she died?” Mai shot the cyborg a nasty look and prepared to speak but was silenced by Mikoto's hand on her shoulder.
“It's okay. When Mai died... she told me everything was going to be okay and kissed me as she disappeared. Haven't aged since that day.” Miyu nodded.
“Thank you, Mikoto, with that I believe the majority of the answers I sought have fallen into place. When she passed away I believe she transferred the majority of what remained of her life energy into your body. Whether she did this knowingly or not I can't be sure but it is likely that it was the cause of your eternal youth. It would also go on to explain why Mai too ceased aging upon forming a Contract with you via the Otome Gem as you would now be sharing each others life,” Miyu finished. Shizuru, who had appeared deep in thought through most of the conversation, voiced her concerns.
“Excuse me Miyu-dono, I was wondering how you were able to connect all of this simply by finding that device you have?”
“It's simple. The remaining particles in this containment cell resonate at the precise frequency as the ones contained in both Mai’s and Mikoto's bodies, as well as in the Fire String Ruby,” she finished before turning to face Mai. “With this knowledge must come a decision that only you can make. If you wish, I could open this cell and restore the missing piece of your soul to you.”
“Why do you make it sound like that's a bad thing?” Mai asked, swallowing nervously at the cyborg's tone.
“You are unable to see it but the particles inside of this cell are straining to break free, I can feel them being drawn to you even now. If I were to release them the piece of you that resides inside of Mikoto would likely return to the greater source as well. Without the infusion of energy in her body both of you would lose your eternal youth but you would regain the memories of the lifetimes you have shared together. You must choose between the future and the past. The decision is yours.” All eyes in the room turned to Mai.
“I... wow... this is big...” she murmured, fidgeting nervously.
“Mai doesn't have to decide now, right Miyu-chan?” Mikoto asked.
“The containment cell has held up for over nine-hundred years, you may take your time,” the cyborg said before standing and leaving the room without another word. Natsuki coughed nervously and stood.
“You two probably want to be alone, we'll head back to...”
“Like hell you're leaving!” Mai shouted so suddenly that Natsuki instantly sat back down on reflex, earning a giggle from Shizuru. “It's already getting dark out and... and it's been too long since we've really talked Natsuki-chan. I've missed you...” the redhead finished quietly.
“I guess it's true what they say about pregnant women, her emotions are all over the place,” Natsuki whispered to Shizuru, earning a teary eyed glare from Mai.
“I'll pretend I didn't hear that,” Mai said, holding out her hands which Mikoto quickly rose and took to help the woman up. “Come on, let's go into the bedroom and talk, it's more comfortable in there.”
“Ara, ara. The last time Tokiha-hime invited us to talk in her bedroom there was very little talking to be had. Are we to expect a similar experience?” Shizuru asked, giggling behind her hand. Mikoto's eyes lit up.
“Can we, Mai?!” she asked excitedly. “We never tried it before, it could be fun!” she finished, eying Natsuki up and down. The dark haired girl blushed bright red and turned away.
“Nobody's having sex!” Mai shouted. “How can you even think about that at a time like this?!”
“Been thinking about it for two months...” Mikoto muttered darkly only to have to have Shizuru throw a comforting arm around her shoulder.
“You poor thing! I can sympathize, Natsuki gets so busy that she doesn't have time for me anymore. She can be so cruel to her Shizuru sometimes...” the woman continued as she led the girl into the bedroom.
“Who would have thought Mikoto would be as perverted as Shizuru...?” Natsuki pondered.
“Would you trade it for anything?” Mai asked with a giggle as she passed.
“Not a damn thing!”
“What should I do, Mikoto?” Mai asked the figure curled up against her back.
“It's Mai's choice,” the girl said simply.
“No it's not! Whatever I decide will affect you too Mikoto... I don't want to hurt you...”
“As long as Mai is with me I'll be happy,” Mikoto answered firmly.
“You really mean that, don't you?” She could feel the girl nod against her back.
“I love Mai the most... always have.” Mai took one of Mikoto's hands and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Is it worth it? Remembering...”
“Don't know. It would be up to Mai to decide that.”
“That's a cop out answer and you know it! But... I understand what you're saying... thank you.” The silence that settled over the two of them was broken almost instantly from the other room.
“We're not having sex right now, are you crazy?! Mai would kill us!” came Natsuki's much too loud whisper.
“Ara, I already asked Mikoto and she said it would be fine...” At this Mikoto began to giggle and Mai let out a long sigh.
“Will we ever have guests where this isn't an issue?”
“What about Miyu-chan?” Mikoto asked.
“I'd participate if you offered,” came the cyborg's voice from the living room. Neither of them could hold back the laughter.
“I'm ready, Miyu. Go ahead and open it up,” Mai said firmly.
“Are you certain?” she asked, holding the cell up and motioning toward the locking device on the side. Mai turned and smiled at Mikoto.
“Even if the future won't last forever we'll still have all of this lifetime and all that follow it. I wish to see what she sees... I want my memories... our memories. Besides, it would have been weird having a child that's older than I am someday,” she finished with a small laugh as she patted her belly. The cyborg nodded.
“Very well,” Miyu said, twisting the opening mechanism. There was a loud hiss of air being released as the lid of the container slid open, a small puff of smoke lazily drifting from within the tube.
“That's it?” Mai asked as she began to examine herself. “I was expecting something a little more... dramatic. I don't even feel any...” she was cut off as a cloud of shimmering green light burst from the cylinder and wrapped itself around her body. The light seemed to cling to her skin as it began to flash, fading into her body a little with every pulse of light. Within seconds all of it had been absorbed into her skin and she was left standing there trembling from no apparent cause.
“...I won't risk losing you Mikoto! Not for anything!”
“Mai, what's wrong?”
“Fifteen years with you just isn't enough... especially now that... now that I'm...”
“Mai, talk to me, please!”
“I love you Mikoto... more than anything. We'll be together again in the next life, I'm sure of it... you'll hold me again... just like this...”
“What happened to her, Miyu?! Why won't she answer?!”
“My only regret is that we didn't have a little more time... it would have been so wonderful Mikoto...”
“Mikoto!” Mai roared, her Robe and Elements materializing around her body. Her eyes went white and she raised her hands, sending a massive gout of flame melt away a nearby wall within a matter of seconds.
“Mai, wait!” Mikoto called frantically and followed as her lover flew through the new exit, her face twisted with fear and rage.
“We need to stop her!” Miyu called to Shizuru and Natsuki as she too ran out of the house.
“I just knew this wouldn't be so easy...” Natsuki muttered as she and Shizuru materialized their own Robes and made for the hole in the wall.
“There,” Shizuru pointed, “around the side, it looks like Mikoto has her.” The two hurried over to where the girl was attempting to calm the wailing redhead. Had the situation been any different Natsuki would have laughed at the way the Robe had puffed out to accommodate the woman's pregnant belly. By the time they arrived Mai seemed to have calmed considerably and Natsuki let out a relieved sigh only to be roughly shoved aside by Shizuru as a ball of fire smashed into the ground where she'd been standing.
“It was YOU!” Mai roared, taking to the air and hurling more of the deadly projectiles at the dark haired woman. “YOU killed my Mikoto! YOU killed my baby!”
“What the hell's she talking about, Mikoto?!” Natsuki called out, expertly dodging the fireballs while fighting down the reflex to summon her Element.
“She's remembering! It was your GEM that killed us... she probably thinks it's you!”
“Well that's just great!” Natsuki shouted, taking cover behind a rock. “How the hell do we snap her out of it?!” It was Miyu that answered.
“Break her Gem. I had assumed the piece of her sealed inside it would return as well but it seems to be trapped. I apologize for the miscalculation.”
“Oh no worries, it's not like it's going to get me killed or anything!” she shot back irritably, noticing too late that Mai had changed position and launched a continuous stream of fire at her. “Oh hell!” She cringed, closing her eyes and waiting for the inevitable searing blast. When no burning death was forthcoming she cracked an eye open to see Shizuru deflecting the gout of flame with her shield.
“Ara, my Natsuki is so careless... I'd die if I lost her!”
“All of you get out of here! I'll stop Mai!” Mikoto shouted as she ran straight towards the source of the flames.
“Are you crazy? She'll roast your ass!” The girl didn't seem to have heard her.
“Miroku!” she shouted, the staff in her hands dissolving away to be replaced by a black claymore. She dove right into the attack, the sword seemingly cleaving right through the mass of flame as she pressed forward. “Mai, can you hear me?! It's me, Mikoto!” she shouted over the roar of the fire, her voice seemed to reach the woman and the intensity of the flames began to ebb.
“Mikoto... is it really you?”
“Mai, I'm alive, the baby is too, just look!” Mikoto pleaded. The rage in the redhead's eyes disappeared and the flames faded away as she reached out to stroke Mikoto's cheek.
“I thought... thought I'd lost you...” her hands moved down to her belly, “thought I'd lost you both...”
“We're here Mai... right here with you... no matter what happens...” With catlike speed she snatched the Gem from the redhead's ear and tossed it into the air, cleaving it in half with one deft swing before dropping the blade to the ground and throwing her arms around her lover's neck. A fierce whirlwind of green light erupted from the shattered Gem and engulfed them as their lips came together, just like before it was absorbed into her skin through a series of rhythmic pulses. As Mikoto pulled away from the kiss, being sure to steady the trembling woman, she looked searchingly into Mai's eyes. “Does Mai remember?” Terrified gray eyes softened as they focused on Mikoto's golden orbs..
“I remember... and this is the most wonderful thing I've ever felt... it's like dozens of lifetime’s worth of love flowing into me all at once!” Mai squealed, pulling the girl into a crushing hug.
“I'll take that girlish squeal to mean you're not going to try broiling my ass anymore,” Natsuki muttered as she and the others approached.
“Oh Natsuki-chan, I'm so sorry! All I could see was that wretched woman's smirking face and I...”
“Don't worry about it, everyone's okay, that's what matters.”
“Ara, my Natsuki is so sweet with those she loves.”
“All loving aside, I think we've had more than enough excitement for one visit. I know for damn sure the two of you have a lot to talk about so we'll be...” Mai managed to latch herself onto the dark haired woman before she could react and locked her arms around her.
“I'm sorry things are always so crazy when we're around each other Natsuki-chan...” Mai murmured. Natsuki smiled and patted the woman's back.
“You know me, Mai. I'm always up for a little...” Natsuki paused as she felt something warm and wet trickle down the side of her leg. “Mai... did you... did you just pee on me?” she asked, one eyebrow twitching slightly.
“What? No I didn't... oh god... I think my water broke!”
Chieftain's daughters from rival tribes. A healer and an injured hunter. A princess and her maidservant. Beggars in a thriving city. Roommates at a private school. A famous chef and a womanizer. A politician and her secret lover. A war ravaged young woman and a girl growing into lovers over time. It was awe inspiring to imagine that these were just a few of the lifetimes we had shared throughout the generations. Even more astounding was that even after all those hundreds of years spent in each others arms we could still experience something unique... something so beautiful...
“It's a girl!” Mikoto crowed with glee before disappearing back into the room, apparently unwilling to spend any more time away from her lover and daughter than that. Shizuru shook her shoulder a little to wake the snoozing Natsuki.
“Huh? What? I'm awake!” Shizuru giggled and wiped away a bit of drool with her thumb.
“Ara, my Natsuki is so adorable, even when she drools.”
“Oh shut up you,” Natsuki grumbled, glaring blearily at the older woman.
“It's a girl.” Natsuki sobered up immediately.
“She had it! Why didn't you wake me?!”
“I just did,” Shizuru said with a giggle. “We're still waiting for doctor-san to say it's okay to go in.” Natsuki blinked.
“If we can't go in yet then why did you wake me?!”
“Ara, my Natsuki is so cute when she...” Shizuru's mantra was interrupted by Miyu stepping quietly from the room and removing her apron.
“It was a long delivery but a smooth one. Mai is doing well and the baby, despite being a month premature, is a healthy six pounds and is breathing just fine on her own.”
“Are you sure everything...”
“This is not the first baby I have delivered and I am confident in my analysis. I do recommend that they be taken to the facilities at Garderobe as soon as they are able but I am quite sure they are both healthy.” Natsuki started to speak again but the cyborg cut her off. “To answer your next question, yes, you may go in to see them but I ask that you keep it brief as both mother and child need their rest. I also request that Viola-san accompany me while you visit, I have something I need to discuss with her.” Natsuki prepared to make a comment that turned into a yelp as Shizuru pinched her bottom.
“That sounds fine, Miyu-dono. Natsuki, please do me a favor and give them my love in my stead,” Shizuru said smoothly before setting off down the hall. Natsuki, having long since given up trying to work through Shizuru's stubborn nature, simply shrugged and eased open the door.
“Look at that! She's just suckling away!” she could hear Mai squeal as she came around the corner.
“Knows she's lucky. Best breasts in whole world.”
“Oh be quiet you... Natsuki-chan! Come in, come in,” Mai called out, waving the dark haired girl in with her free hand. After a quick, one-armed hug from Mai and a back breaking vice lock from Mikoto Natsuki was able to attempt to get a good look at the baby. Much of her was obscured by the blanket she was wrapped in and Mai's breast she was currently nursing from but the little bits of healthy pink skin and the shock of reddish brown hair she could see was more than enough.
“Oh Mai, she's absolutely gorgeous!” Natsuki gushed. No matter how tough she acted she'd always had a soft spot for babies.
“Isn't she just the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? She's only been in this world for a few minutes and I couldn't imagine what life would be like without her,” Mai whispered, leaning down to kiss the baby's forehead
“Perfect...” Mikoto breathed, apparently too overjoyed to bother with sentences.
“Have you decided on a name?” The two looked at each other and smiled.
“Her name is Yuri...”
“Beautiful... and fitting. She's gorgeous Mai, I couldn't be happier for the three of you.” Mikoto moved in closer and helped cradle the baby, leaning her forehead against Mai's and sighing.
“I love you Mikoto...”
“I love Mai too... just as much as I love Yuri.”
Three days, a trip to the doctor, and a veritable mountain of diapers and other baby necessities purchased later, Natsuki and Shizuru were on their way home.
“So, are you going to tell me what you and Miyu have been so secretive about? Or maybe what's in that bag you're trying to hide from me?” Natsuki asked as the wind whipped through their hair.
“Ara, ara, Natsuki. It wouldn't do to have your surprise spoiled,” Shizuru said in a tone that meant she wasn't giving anything away.
“Alright, but something about that girl rubs me the wrong way, you better not be having an affair or something!”
“Nothing so spectacular Natsuki... it's really nothing at all,” the woman murmured as she shifted the pack more comfortably on her back, the tip of a metal cylinder coming into view...