Ryouko tried not to smile at the nearly terrified look on Honor's face as they met the young woman's Queen. 'Guess she really isn't used to this,' she mused, the blue haired space pirate watching her newfound friend with amusement.
"So what do you think of this Michelle?" Minagi asked her curiously as they entered the castle itself. Her scars marked her face but other than that she could pass for Ryouko's twin, something they had used to their advantage more than once.
"Not sure," Ryouko admitted, looking over at the dusky skinned woman beside Honor. "She was certainly fierce when Honor was hurt, but other than that...," she shrugged.
Washu dropped back, their little redheaded mother giving them scolding looks, "More importantly it's none of our business."
"yes mom," Minagi smirked.
"Myah," Ryo-Ohki added cheerfully, the little cabbit bouncing along besides them down the thickly carpeted hallway.
Ryouko rolled her eyes. "Do you think Honor noticed our little surprise yet?" she asked with a impish little smile.
"I don't think so," Washu said thoughtfully, "though she has been a bit distracted."
The Queen led them into a beautifully decorated parlor, comfortable chairs and couches set up around the cozy room. Elizabeth was a beautiful woman, her dusky skin glowing in the light, but there was strength in the young woman's slim form. "Sit down," she smiled warmly, "I'll have some food sent up in a moment."
They took their seats but Honor moved away from Michelle to go over to Washu. "I'm sorry," she said sheepishly, "but I think you made a mistake with my uniform." She touched her collar, "These are the insignia of a captain, I'm just a commander."
"No mistake," Washu smiled.
"What," Honor blinked in surprise.
"You've been promoted," Elizabeth said to Honor calmly, sitting down with her dress swirling around her legs.
"And there's no favoritism involved," Ryouko pointed out with a grin, her blue hair falling into her eyes. "Almost everyone in Gryphon's Navy is getting a bump up," she added.
"Not that you haven't earned it," Michelle murmured as she guided a mildly shaken Honor into a seat beside her on the couch.
"Bleek," Nimitz agreed, the tree-cat comfortably resting on Honor's shoulder. He had climbed up there as soon as Honor had been released from sickbay and seemed entirely unwilling to move.
Minagi looked like she was trying to hold back a laugh at the look on Honor's face. "Ah, food," she grinned as the servants brought trays of snacks in, setting them around the room along with glasses of various beverages. "So should we discuss business or...?" Minagi asked.
"Some business, maybe," Elizabeth said, giving Ryouko a questioning look.
"Yeah, why not," Ryouko agreed. She sat back casually, drinking from a generous sized bottle of sake as she asked, "How long do you think it'll take to shake down the merged fleets?"
"Three months minimum," Washu answered firmly. "Our Manticore people are going to have to adapt to the Gryphon military style and the Gryphons need to be fully briefed and fully trained to use our tech," she explained.
Honor shook herself, but the lady managed to get back into the conversation. "I'm surprised it would be that fast," she admitted.
"I wondered about that myself," Elizabeth drank some wine.
"We've had some experience in integrating allied forces," Minagi explained, "though admittedly not on quite this scale before."
"I hope we'll be able to help," Michelle offered with a smile.
"Trust me," Ryouko grinned at the two officers, "we'll probably be asking." She took another drink, "But the Admiralty has fallen nicely into line and the crews seem eager to get to work, so I'm staying optimistic."
"Barring unforeseen occurrences," Washu cautioned. She sampled some wine as she remarked, "Murphy's law seems universal."
"Oh yes," Minagi agreed.
"Speaking of ships," Ryouko raised her glass to the still mildly pale Honor, "I was thinking of assigning the star-destroyer Nike to you. She's a recent product of the Manticore shipyards and I've great hopes for her."
Honor gulped, "I'd be honored."
"Cousin," Michelle spoke up. Elizabeth looked over at her questioningly as she continued, "Would you mind if I spoke to Honor privately?"
"Go on," Elizabeth smiled.
"Ah...." Honor didn't even have a chance to say anything as Michelle drew her to her feet. The two women were out of the room in moments, leaving the others with amused smiles.
"About time," Ryouko chuckled.
Honor blinked, trying to get her thoughts in some kind of order as she and Michelle walked down the hallway together. It had been a hectic hour since she had awakened in the Revenge's sickbay, not to mention the shock of her sudden promotion and the offer of a ship.
"Come on," Michelle opened up the door, ushering Honor inside and then closing and locking it behind them. The bedroom suite looked lived in, in fact clothes that Honor recognized as belonging to Michelle hung in the closet.
"What's going on?" Honor turned to meet Michelle's dark eyes and asked, "What are we doing in your bedroom?"
Michelle smiled slightly from where she stood a little ways away from Honor, puffing out her breath in a soft sigh. "You know," she said softly, "I had this all planned out. We were both going to be on the beach, I was going to let you get settled in first. We'd go out together as friends, get you more comfortable with the idea...."
"Comfortable with what?" Honor asked, an odd tightness in her chest.
"Then this thing with Manticore happened," Michelle said. Her smile was wry, "When I first heard that you and the Fearless had made contact with the Washu's Revenge I was so scared. Then I thought of what I heard about Ryouko and got really worried."
"But...." Honor managed before Michelle continued.
"When you got back I was so relieved," Michelle flashed a smile, "and proud of you. I wanted to tell you so much but there wasn't time, and I knew we'd find time to talk later." Her eyes darkened, "Then you were shot right in front of me."
"I'm sorry," Honor started, then corrected herself, "well, no I'm not. I was doing my duty, but I'm sorry I frightened you."
"More than that, you terrified me," Michelle murmured. She moved closer to Honor, looking up at the taller woman thoughtfully before saying, "I don't want any regrets, Honor."
"I don't understand," Honor admitted.
"Then maybe this will help," and with that Michelle slid her arms around Honor, drawing her close. The kiss was firm but gentle, the two pressing close, only parting reluctantly a few moments later. "I love you, Honor," Michelle said, "I can't wait to tell you any longer."
Honor's cheeks were bright red but joy shone in her eyes. "I love you, too," she whispered, "since back in our academy days."
"Bleek," Nimitz protested, reluctantly jumping down from his spot on Honor's shoulder.
"Sorry Stinker," Michelle smiled down at him before snuggling closer to Honor. "Until you kissed me back then I thought my feelings were one- sided," she confessed.
"You might have told me," Honor sighed, "I thought that, too."
Michelle looked up at Honor gently, "You made it very clear back then you weren't ready for something like this."
"You're probably right," Honor admitted, "I was scared of any intimacy, especially after Young attacked me." Her eyes widened, "You didn't have feelings for me back then, did you?"
"Oh yes," Michelle's voice was dangerous, "and if I had half a chance Young would never have been able to hurt anyone again." She snuggled closer and quietly, "So what do we do now?"
"I don't know," Honor held her, "but I'm not losing this, not when I just found it."
"No," Michelle nodded towards the bed, "I meant that."
"Michelle!" Honor blurted, cheeks flaming.
Michelle slid free, grabbing hold of Honor's hand and drawing her forward gently. "I promise I'll be gentle," she reassured her softly.
"I've never...." Honor's face was flaming.
"Don't worry," Michelle purred as she drew Honor down to the bed, "I haven't either." She smiled, "I think we can figure it out, though."To be continued....