Story: Concubines (chapter 3)

Authors: ConservEr1e

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Chapter 3

Title: Three

Title: Concubines

Author: ConservEr1e []

Rating: MA



Moving on...

All notes written in the first chapter still apply, except the one about sex...I think...

I realize that the possibility of everyone speaking the same language during the Silver Millennium, and that language being a

mixture of English and Japanese, is incredibly slim. If you have the urge to argue with me about it, I'm just gonna tell you

to shove it, so you might as well get over it.

An incredibly big thank-you and hug goes to Locke, for putting forth so much effort towards editing this monster. I hope to

have the next chapter to you relatively soon.

I hope to have the next chapter out soon, but this Senior year thing is getting to be more trouble than it's worth. Luckily,

I only have one more day of school and then graduation next week, so that should free up more time to write. However, we are

also moving out of state the week after that, so we'll see how soon we can get situated and I can sit down for extended

periods of time.

Disclaimer: Standard Sailor Moon disclaimers apply. Oh, the song "Stay Awake" is performed by Julie Andrews in/as Mary

Poppins. I only exchanged the word "moon" with "Earth" (marked with an *) since, obviously, if you're on the moon it won't be

in the sky. You won't need to have seen the movie to understand. I don't own the song, the lady, or the movie/character. The

Eightfold Fence referenced to is from "Shogun," an excellent book by James Clavell. I don't own it; I presume he does. Oh,

and they did have jello on Mars 5000 years ago. ^_~

Chapter Three

With the sudden sensation of Usagi's lips pressed against her own, the sight of the golden-haired maiden and the fire room

slowly faded from Rei's eyes as her vision was swallowed by a field of black. All sense of feeling swiftly followed, and she

was left with nothing but the knowledge that she still existed...and even that seemed to be receding as a picture--no--a

memory took hold of her mind.


She opened her eyes and stretched just before someone walked into her room, no doubt to wake her up. Immediately, she smiled

and sat up in her bed.

"Deimos-chan! Guess what today is!" she exclaimed, throwing the thin sheets off her seven-year-old body and running to her


The woman, twenty years the girl's senior, dropped the bags she had been carrying and hurried to quiet her charge down.

Carried clearly over the silence, she heard the angry shouts coming from the direction of the palace gates.

"Hush, Rei-chan!" she hissed. "I must pack a bag for you and get you to the ship before the people force you to stay; they’re

rioting outside. Quickly, change into a dress from the closet!"

The raven-haired child, though young, could detect the fear and urgency in her nanny's voice and ran to do as she was told.

Still, she couldn't help her precocious nature and had to ask what was going on. "But, Deimos-chan, I thought I wasn't

supposed to leave until later tonight, after my party. Why do I have to go now?"

She looked up at Deimos, slightly disconcerted by the pause in her nanny’s previously frantic movements. "The people are

unhappy that you must go to the Moon Kingdom and are trying to force you to stay. They feel threatened that you'll hand the

keys of the kingdom over to the Lunar court if you have to protect and grow close to the princess."

"Where's Ojii-sama?" she asked while hastily pulling a thin red silk child's gown over her head. She didn't even bother with

the usual undergarments and threw her favorite "dress up" shoes, red high heels that were miniature replicas of a set her

mother had owned, into one of the bags. She opted to remain barefoot.

The nanny's heart went out to the girl. "I'm sorry, Rei-chan, but he's trying to get the crowd outside to see reason without

calling in the troops. I'm afraid he won't be able to see you off."

"Oh." It was all she could manage without crying.

Deimos finished, gathered the two bags, and took Rei's hand. "Don't you let me see any tears, little one. You know your

grandfather is only trying to protect you. Besides, I'll still be there. And Phobos-kun is going with you on the ship," she

added as an afterthought.

The din of voices from outside grew louder and the great gates to the palace seemed to groan in protest of the heavy press of

so many bodies.

"Quickly, Rei-chan, run!"

And she did. But why, she thought, were the people so mad? Rounding corners, dodging statues, plants, and preoccupied

servants, she couldn’t understand. Sure, she was more than agitated by the arrangement, but she was the one leaving and

didn’t have a choice in the matter. And what if they broke through? Would they be angry at her for something she had no say


Her legs pumped harder beneath her, her feet slapping against the cool marble.



Another right.

She tried to remember the shortest route to the shipyard, but it was hard to concentrate when so many people were screaming

and shouting less than two hundred feet from her. Gradually, the sounds grew fainter and fainter, though they refused to die

away completely.

Rounding a final corner, the gigantic vessel loomed above her and she stopped in awe.

It was larger than she remembered. Painfully ancient, it was of the classical design from the turn of the Millennium, suited

for little more than Inner Planetary travel, and constructed entirely from Mars's very rare trees. The sails were made of a

deep red silk and majestically rippled in the winds. She knew that it was priceless to her kingdom.

However, her observations were cut short when Phobos's neatly shaved head, save a single braid sprouting from above his right

ear, popped over the side of the ship. He spotted them and threw down a rope ladder; his suntanned body quickly joined them

after sliding down the ladders length, completely disregarded the wooden rungs.

"Ready, you scalawag?" the young soldier asked with a roguish, confident grin, taking the bags from Deimos and crossing them

over his shoulders.

Rei cast one last look at the palace and pleaded with her nanny, "Are you sure I can't say good-bye to Ojii-sama? It'll be

quick, I promise."

"I'm sorry, Rei-chan," Deimos said, picking up her charge and holding her tight.

Phobos politely looked away as they said farewell. At the sound of Deimos clearing her throat, he turned back and ruffled his

princess's hair. "Come on, you little scamp. The ship will only wait so long for us."

"Phobos-kun," she started, looking him straight in the eye and trying her hardest not to blush at her confession, "I don't

think I can get up the ladder. My legs feel like jello."

The royal guard smiled reassuringly and knelt to her level. "Well, I would be surprised if they didn't. If I was you, I'd be

screaming my head off and--" An explosion shook the rock beneath their feet. He cast an anxious glance over his shoulder and

swung Rei onto his back. "Hold on tight!" he shouted before taking the ladder two, and sometimes three, rungs at a time.

He didn't stop once he boarded the ship, but hurried below decks and set her down once they were in a spare room.

"You okay, you little monkey?" he asked, looking her over for even the smallest scratch.

She slowly nodded her head and let her gaze wander around the small room. It was perhaps half the size of her palace closet

and nowhere near as clean. Cobwebs hung wearily in the corners and, attesting to the room's former use, a cluster of cleaning

supplies were scattered against one of the walls. There was no furniture in the room, merely a large pile of various furs.

"Is this my room?" she petulantly inquired, gesturing at the expanse of dust.

Her guard gaze followed her hand. "Only if you make me sleep in the hallway," he sheepishly responded. "This was the only

unoccupied room, in the entire ship, without rats...You *will* let me stay here, right? You wouldn't leave a poor old man

like me to the mercy of those big scary space sailors, would you?"

She didn't respond.

He sat down next to her on one of the hides. "Are you okay?"

"Today's my birthday," she replied in a monotone voice.

"I know," the soldier whispered, drawing the Martian princess to him, "I'm sorry we had to leave before your party, but we

wanted to keep you safe."

She nestled into the crook of his arm and pulled one of the furs over herself. "Phobos-kun?"


"Will you sing me a song?"

Her bodyguard smiled. "What do you want to hear?"

She grinned, delighted. She remembered when she was younger, hearing him exclaim on more than one occasion that the king was

wasting his talent protecting little girl. Maybe it was just her, but he seemed to pick up lullabies, hair braiding, child

rhymes, kid games, and making sticky messes with her very quickly for one so above them.

"One of your songs," she said, referring to a collection of songs he remembered from his homeland far to the north of the

palace, songs that sounded best when they weren't accompanied by music.

"Anything for you, little rapscallion."

His lilting, comforting voice filled the room with a song of courage and honor, sadness and loss, hope and love. It was one

of many legends about the mighty fire senshi of Mars.

A mere three verses into the epic, Rei fell asleep. She didn't wake up until a barrel-chested sailor stomped into their room

and slammed the door against the wall behind it hours later.

"We've landed at the port of the Imperial Palace, right in their majesties' front yard," he bellowed in a gruff voice. "The

Lunars are jumping all over themselves to help out," he laughed from low in his chest, "There's a litter already waiting for


"Thank you, bosun. We'll be there shortly," Phobos said, dismissing the man. He turned to Rei, "Are you ready to go?"

The seven year old started to nod, then changed her mind, shaking her head and confusing the soldier. She dug into one of the

bags he still carried and pulled out a pair of shoes. While she put them on and straightened her dress, he came up behind her

and smiled. With the gentlest of touches, he weaved a series of braids that began above her ears and met behind her head. The

effect was a natural, semi-wreath-like arrangement that also held the rest of her long locks beneath them.

"Are you going to stay here with me?" she asked when he finished.

A pained look crossed his features. "I'm sorry, Rei-chan, but I can't. My duty was to deliver you to Serenity-sama and return

to the palace. I'm needed on Mars." Seeing her dejected look, he hastily added, "But I would be honored if you would let me

escort you off the ship."

She plastered a grim smile on her face, grasped his hand, and led him to the door before abruptly coming to a halt.

"Phobos-kun, can I take the fur I used earlier?"

Raking a hand over his queue, he returned to the pile of furs and draped the thick, midnight-colored hide, the largest of the

bunch it seemed, over his shoulder. "Consider this a going away present from me," he shakily said, trying to estimate how

much the captain of the ship could get away with charging him for such a luxurious pelt. "Anything--ah--else, you little


"Yeah. Phobos, whenever I asked Ojii-sama why I was coming here, his eyes would get teary and he'd tell me I would understand

when I was older. Do you know why I'm here?"

"You don't know," he breathed, shaking his head. He took her hand, starting to lead her through the hallways and along the

deck. "I'm sorry, Rei, you wouldn't understand any of the real political reasons, but all I can tell you is that by the end

of today you will belong to Serenity-sama and Serenity-hime."

"Little girls aren't given away and traded like animals," she cut in. "I don't believe you."

"Well, I'm sorry you don't," he answered, stopping her and kneeling to her level, "but know this. Your grandfather is so

protective of you that he stood against the entire planet to send you here for this opportunity. If you fail here and have to

return, all his efforts will have been for naught and the anarchists will have another arrow to loose at you and your

grandfather's way of life. They won't be satisfied with the monarchy, anymore, Rei." She started to interrupt, but he

continued over her, "I wouldn't place such a burden on your shoulders if I didn't think you couldn't handle it, Rei. Deimos-

chan and I have been with you since you were born, like two fussy hens, and we'd both like to believe that we taught you a

little something about responsibility and commitment." He stood back up, rubbing the back of her hand with his thumb. "Now, I

think we need to get going. It looks like there's a party waiting below to take us to your new home."

Not in a rush to disembark, the pair leisurely strolled down the gangplank and stopped before the waiting litters. Before

servants picked them up, they arranged themselves on their cushions and closed the surrounding curtains. The bearers set off

for the castle, arriving at its front entrance fifteen minutes later.

A beadle met them at a wrought-iron gate and helped them out. He started leading them down a long, outdoor corridor, but the

pair remained at the gate.

"Rei-chan," Phobos gravely began, "the moment you walk through that entrance, you won't be a little girl anymore. Part of

your new duty will be to protect the princess and be strong for her."

Allowing no time for additional talk, he led her through the doorway.

The seven-year-old smiled and reached for her guardian's hand, "I don't feel any different."

He pulled away, frowning. "Rei-hime, how can Serenity-hime be expected to put her life in your hands and believe in your

abilities if you show up holding my hand like an unsteady toddler?"

She was hurt, but showed it for no longer than a minute. Immediately, she took his comment to heart and let a mask of

indifference settle over her face. She pulled one of the bags off of her guard's shoulders. "Then don't you think I should

carry at least one of these?"

Acquiescing, he helped her prop the handle on her shoulder and continued walking. The beadle was just within sight.

"You should also try to help her be the best she can be. Technically, she is your better now, but there will be many times

when she will need your help."

They had finally arrived at the entrance to the throne room so, while they waited to be announced, Phobos hurriedly added,

"Remember all your miko training and continue practicing every day to expand your abilities. As far as I'm aware, you're the

only senshi gifted with any psychic abilities. Keep up with your martial arts. Take the time to learn from each of the other

senshi, but stay your own person." He put a hand on her shoulder to gain her full attention. "And most importantly, don't

neglect your singing." He winked.

Smiling in spite of her confusion, Rei was going to ask a question, but, at that minute, the beadle swung a great door open

and shouted, "Your royal highnesses! May I present, the Martian Hime Rei!"

A tall, thin woman in a white gown rose from the throne situated in the middle of the room, an almost identical, though

smaller, version of her kneeling beside her. "Welcome. Please, come nearer," she beckoned, "there is no need for you to stay

back there."

The two did as they were instructed and stopped a matter of feet from her and the girl kneeling on the floor beside her,

undoubtedly her daughter by their identical looks. The woman, apparently Queen Serenity, possessed a commanding aura they

could all only hope to acquire a fraction of someday.

"Phobos-san, I believe our kingdoms have already agreed on the terms of Rei-hime’s stay. However, as I recall, you are

permitted to peruse the written accord at your leisure. You may take this duplicate if you will be so kind as to endorse both

in your king’s stead, and be on your way," she said, motioning to a clerk.

The soldier set down Rei's bag and skimmed over the tome. In due course, he signed his ruler’s name with an ornate chop he

pulled from a hidden pocket. With a wave, the female ruler dismissed him, but, before he left, he knelt in front of Rei and

whispered, "I realize I'm not your favorite person right now, but I'm begging you to listen. Hopefully, Deimos and I were

able to instill a reasonable sense of loyalty and honor in you. Now, I understand that you're still young, but you're going

to be forced to grow up very soon and I want you to pledge an oath to me. Promise me, with every fiber of your being, that

you'll never give up on Serenity-hime. Never be satisfied that she is safe enough, loved enough, or satisfied. You'll be

taught a lot while you're here, but always remember what I've said." He paused. "And never doubt that Deimos and I love you,

because we do. If we didn't, we would have been protesting along with everyone else back on Mars."

It took her a moment to answer. "I swear, Phobos," she whispered, "I swear by my hope of rebirth."

He nodded and stood before her. "May your step be light and your aim true."

Flustered by the honor of being given a warrior's farewell, Rei stomped on her momentary elation and nodded back. “Thank you,

Phobos-san... goodbye.”

He smiled sadly, turned on his heel, and quickly exited the hall.

Rei turned her head to watch him go, her last link to her home exiting the hall at a brisk pace. She committed his hulking

figure to memory, every last detail that her mind could grab on to, from the style of his boots, the gait of his walk, the

fabric of his "man-skirt", as she called it, to the luster of his braided queue, tone of his tanned skin, cording of his

muscles, shade of his extremely rare, on Mars anyway, blue eyes as he turned to see her one last time, and the smell of him

that reached her on the slight breeze that filled the room with his passing. She suddenly realized that though she might

someday return home, there was little to no chance of her ever seeing her beloved guard again. He would be given another

assignment, one worthy of his skill. So will Deimos-chan, she sadly thought.

Torn away from all the people I love.

Ojii-sama, ruling the empire when he'd rather be tending to the nearby temple or the sparse flowers, forced to be crowned,

again, when her parents died. He had always tried to make it a rule to have finished with matters of the state by late

afternoon, just so he could spend some time with her, but his conferences rarely finished on time, despite his good

intentions, and he was often late, rarely home before supper.

Phobos-kun, following her everywhere, protecting her, playing with her, letting her feel like a normal kid by taking her

camping, helping her evade Deimos-chan and her countless lessons, sneaking her chocolates, taking her to action plays in

disguise because her grandfather wouldn't allow her to go, and sleeping outside her door, back to the wall and sword in hand,

because she was convinced monsters were going to steal her in the night.

Deimos-chan, following her and Phobos everywhere, if only to clean after their messes, dressing and feeding her, teaching her

anything she thought Rei might someday need, from art to music to fire-reading, making sure she went to temple to practice

her martial arts with Phobos everyday, trying to chase Phobos out of the female spa and finally blind-folding him when he

insisted he follow to ensure Rei's safety, and learning the barest of knife-wielding proficiency from Phobos so she could

dispatch any would-be intruders if she awoke in the night from her cot at the foot of Rei's bed.

Her parents had both died when she was too young to remember much more than her father's booming voice and her mother's

calming touch. Her loving grandfather was turned back into the busy figurehead of the planet, relegated to seeing her in the

evenings, when she usually had lessons of some sort and bedtime soon after, his doting affections directed elsewhere as he

perused treaties. And now he was taken from her completely, along with her loving nanny and bodyguard.

And all because the Moon Kingdom can't breed soldiers strong enough to defend their own princess, she thought, her resentment

growing to anger. It wasn't enough that fate had ripped her family asunder, now the workings of man felt empowered to do the

same with the crude replica of one they had somehow managed to bring together?

Apparently she was the only one she could count on. Rei, herself. Not even her grandfather could overcome the forces

splitting them apart, but at least she would never abandon or give up on herself.

Her anger grew.

And she had sworn to Phobos that she would defend this Serenity-hime. She leveled her wrathful gaze at the mother-daughter

pair, secretly pleased when the girl's too big smile faltered and she looked away. The queen looked at her comfortingly and

commenced a speech that would no doubt be long and boring. Rei opted to tune her out after hearing just a few words and

fought to control her temper.

She was already getting instructions? Orders?

Her fury soon turned into a rage left simmering just below the surface, something that would always be present in the face of

her captor. But she couldn't succumb to it. Not yet. Eventually, she was almost sure she would give in to the temptation of

screaming, ranting and raving, but she had just gotten here.

A sadness pervaded her being. She couldn't even openly express her feelings anymore. She was just a girl, just like the

princess, but she was now a soldier, too.

She shook her head and followed the two royals out of the throne room.

She was just a girl.


Rei woke up and looked around her completely decorated half of her room for the first time. She had been on the moon a little

more than a month and had just gotten the finishing touches set up.

The room was bigger than her room in the palace on Mars, but only because she was to share this one with another of the royal

personages. Not to mention, many of the common areas were incorporated into the quarters; it had a private bathroom, a small

collection of books, a couch to read them on, and a screened-off portion that could function as a shrine if an illness or

injury or the weather would not allow her the trek across the grounds to the temple proper.

The shrine had actually come about through a suggestion of the princess. Despite the young miko's loud and lengthy protests,

the blonde had accompanied her to her daily lessons and training sessions, just because she didn't want Rei to have to be

there alone, even though she was only allowed to watch the training. She saw how taxing the long hours of study and physical

exertion were, and yet every morning before class and every night before bed, her young guard would make the circuitous

journey to the isolated temple to perform her rituals and chores. She worried about Rei's health, so she put the idea to her

mother, who provided for the shrine to be built according to Rei's specifications.

The act broke the barrier between the two girls, especially since the fruit of it was a constant reminder of home, Phobos,

and the promise Rei had made to him. Their friendship had bloomed slowly, but it was there, and it grew stronger everyday.

The door opened and Serenity bounded in. "Rei-chan! Get dressed! You said we could play hide-and-seek this morning!"

"And you said you would let me sleep in on the weekends since I have classes all week," she retorted, pulling her blankets

off and walking into her closet.

"I did!" the young princess objected. "I've been peeking in your room every five minutes for the past hour waiting for you to

wake up! And you woke up by yourself!"

"Oh, fine, fine, get all technical on me," the girl joked from within the closet, her voice muffled. "Where do you want to

play? Kitchens? Library? Stables? Gardens?"

"I want to play in the forest."

"No way. By the forest I'll do, but not in. You know we're not allowed."

"I know," Serenity rolled her eyes, "that's what I said, by the forest. Wear those pants you like; I'm not wearing a dress,


Rei peeked out to be sure and, seeing her friend in her simplest pants, pulled on her own plain pants and shirt. "Do I have

to wear a hat today?"

She could hear Serenity's smile in her voice. "No, you don't have to pretend to be a boy today. Let your hair be free, Mother

doesn't know where we're going."

"Good," she replied. She walked out of the closet and led her princess down the halls to the kitchen, occasionally fingering

her shoulder-length locks.

"Did you bring your bag?"

"Yep, it's in my pocket. We'll just take a little bit so we can snack there and back."

The little blonde stopped, horrified, "B-but what about lunch?" Her eyes grew to the size of saucers and her hands crept up

to cover her mouth.

A sigh. "Fine, we'll grab something for lunch, too, but we're going to have to take turns carrying the bag there, okay?"

"Oh, Rei-chan, thank you!" She hugged her friend in joy.

"Come on, Sere-san, or we'll never get there!"

"Stop calling me that!"

"I'll stop when it stops bothering you!" she laughed.


"I've told you a hundred times already, Sere-chan, I can't look into my own future!"

"Why was it, again?"

"It's like cheating!"

"Okay, okay, fine. I'm sorry I asked," Serenity sighed, looking for something to do and tapping her fingers against her


Rei watched her wearily, sure of what her next question would be.

"Could you do a fire reading about my future?"

Yep, she thought so.

"Yes, Sere-chan, I can."

"Will you? Please? Please? Please?"

The young miko pretended to think a moment. Surely she could use this to her advantage? Her friend had never seen her read

the fire before, Rei had forbidden it. Trying to appear solemn, she sighed and frowned.

"I don't know, Sere-chan. These things can't be entered into lightly. I'll need a few supplies to promise the fire in return

for a vision, and a few supplies to help prepare."

"Of course, Rei-chan. What do you need?"

"I'm going to need a length of freshly spun golden thread, a five-leaf clover from Earth, and the freely offered blood of a

blue colt."

Then again, what could she need but a little fun?

The princess's blonde eyebrows knit together in contemplation before she suddenly struck out at her friend's shoulder.

"That's not nice, Rei-chan! I actually believed you!"

"I know, that's what makes it worth it!" she laughed. Eventually, her mirth settled, aided by Serenity's glare. "Okay, fine.

Come here and sit outside the door; I'll come get you when I'm done."

"I still can't come!?"

"Sere-chan, you know you can’t sit still for five minutes."

“That’s not true! I--"

Rei cut her off with a long stare and a quirked brow.

“Oh, come on! You know--"

She continued staring.

“Rei, that’s not--"

Her silent approach wasn’t going to win any point, so Rei quickly changed tact. “Sere-chan, it’s okay. It means you have an

energetic spirit, one that likes to get up and go for what it wants.”

“Well, yeah, I guess, but--"

Seeing her friend’s resolve weakening, the young miko pressed her advantage. “Sometimes I wish I was more like that. It’s not

fun to have to be patient,” she murmured, peeking out of the corner of her eye.

With that, Serenity sighed and allowed herself to be guided her charge out of the private shrine, and Rei returned to kneel

in front of the fire alone. Her hands moved before her, evoking the spirits she called in a steady chant under her breath.

The flames danced before and did little else.

A little voice in her head said it would be okay if she made something up for the girl, that she wouldn't know the

difference. She could be sitting here for hours while her feet slowly lost feeling beneath her and her kimono became

saturated with her own sweat. She could even fall asleep, becoming just more kindling for the fire, before she received a

message from the spirits, if she did at all, her mind persisted, urging her to run away with its rampant thoughts.

And yet, as easy as that would have been to do, she didn't want to deceive her friend. She wanted to be able to exit the

jinja with the genuine article, something that may actually save Serenity's life one day. Especially after all the trouble

she had gone through to make her transition to life on the Moon easier.

Forget the shrine she was kneeling in and the various items decorating her room that had had to be sent for, the little

things coming after them had endeared her more to the princess than anything else had; the way she had sampled all manners of

Martian dishes despite her apparent dislike for spicy foods; how she had struggled to stay awake with Rei while she grew

accustomed to the length of Lunar days and nights; the many times they had gone Earth-gazing together; how she had sweated

for days so Rei wouldn't be alone wearing layers of clothes as she adjusted to the relatively lower temperature of the Moon;

the way she had patiently sat, genuinely curious, and listened to Rei's explanations on the beliefs, values, and

superstitions of her home planet, before returning in kind the same aspects of her kingdom. It was the little gestures that

took time and effort that meant more to her, without a doubt.

No, she couldn't do it. Lying to her, even over a bogus fortune, would be like betraying her, her only friend.

No sooner had she reached that conclusion than her body ran rigid and her sight narrowed to a field of black. While she

fought to maintain the connection, she also labored to see what was going on.

The Moon loomed before her, small and gray, blanketed in darkness. No buildings were present, no plants, no people, nothing

but fine gray dust. Then, from behind a hill, a small white rabbit hopped. It hopped and hopped until, tired from running and

playing, it lay down to rest. It shivered in the dark, in the cold, it struggled to breath past the dust underneath it, it

mewled with hunger.

Suddenly, a fire flared up beside the animal, bathing it in light and heat. Able to see, the rabbit turned to the side and

saw a small fruit tree growing beside a pond. Staying within the illuminated circle of warmth, it crawled to the water and

slacked its thirst before going to the tree and eating its fill. For quite some time, the rabbit lived in contentment there,

but it never grew, never matured, never met its full potential.

Out of nowhere, a shadow slowly entreated upon its sanctuary, pulling up the ground where it touched, dimming the fire,

drying the water, withering the plant, weakening the bunny.

A bubble enveloped the bunny and its safe haven, pulling them off the Moon and away from the threat, hurtling towards Earth.

Faster and faster they fell until the sphere glowed and slowed their descent. Touching the soil, it disappeared and left the

bunny, fire, water, and tree, to flourish as they had before. More time passed, and while the shadow temporarily stretched

over the land now and then, it was always repulsed by the rabbit and her refuge. The pond swelled to an enormous lake, nearly

an ocean; the tree grew to a terrific size, and a forest grew around it; the flames of the fire licked the sky, lighting and

warming the entire planet; and the bunny became a full-grown rabbit, large and sleek. The animals that had roamed the Earth

before, killing each other at whim, all bowed to the rabbit and lived in peace, learning from her to depend on and take

comfort in the four guardians: light, heat, water, and earth.

The influence of the spirits diminished, and the vision ended, the picture winking out of existence.

All her strength spent maintaining the connection, Rei collapsed on the ground behind her, panting. Exhausted, she laid there

until she was able to bring her breathing back to normal. Licking her parched lips, she tried to call to her friend but ended

up coughing.

"S-Sere-chan," she croaked through the shoji door.

"Yeah, Rei?"

"Grab a cup of water from the sink and bring it here, heya?" the miko asked, wiping her face on the sleeve of her gi.

"I'm allowed to come in and hand it to you then?"

Rei sighed, tired and exasperated, "Yes."

The princess's footsteps retreated to the other side of the room, where a small kitchen, or at least a small charcoal brazier

and sink with a few cooking and eating utensils, resided. The screen door slid open, but Serenity didn't walk in. Instead,

seeing Rei stretched over the wooden floor, she knelt beside the dark-haired girl and placed the cup in her hand.

She waited until she was finished drinking before asking, "Are you okay, Rei-chan?"

"Of course I'm okay," the miko replied, some of her bravado returning with the cooling draught. "I had a vision," she

revealed, getting up and moving beside her friend to sit beside her cross-legged. "It was actually more like a story, and I

don't know what it means yet, but I'm sure we'll know some day."

The blonde nodded and Rei took that as her cue to begin the story, to relate her message from the spirits, which she did very



"Hi! I'm Minako, from Venus. You're Serenity, aren't you? Daddy said she was blonde and blue-eyed like me, so you must be

her. Mind if I call you Serenity-chan or--no, that's too long--how about--"

"Sere-chan, you can call me Sere-chan," Serenity interrupted, her head reeling from Minako's rapid-fire speech. "And what

about you? Minako-chan?"

"Only if you want to sound redundant, as my mother says. Call me Mina-chan." Her gaze traveled over the room and came to rest

on the dark-haired girl silently standing slightly in front of Serenity, as if preparing to intercept a bullet if need be.

"What's your name?"

Rei eyed her suspiciously and overrode the question with one of her own. "Why are you here?"

Minako's mega-watt smile dimmed somewhat. "I'm here to be a concubine to Sere-chan...are you ill?"

"I heard a few soldiers talking earlier, they said you weren't scheduled to arrive until a month after the girl from Mercury

showed up, which in itself is months from now."

The Venusian flushed briefly, but recovered. "No reason, my parents just thought it wouldn't hurt to become friends sooner."

"Yes, but--"

"Relax. Look, if I hadn't come, you'd be alone with Sere-chan for two more months! Not that it's a bad thing," she hastily

added, seeing Serenity's indignant glare, "but why settle for one friend when you can have two?"

"I only need one friend."

"Believe what you want to believe, but I'm going to be your best friend, you wait and's your name?"

Rei tried not to answer, much preferring the dignity-restoring tactic of the silent treatment, but something about the girl

made her. Perhaps it was her persistence in face of Rei's unjustified malice. Perhaps it was because she seemed to fight back

without being aggressive. In any case, she shuffled her feet, cleared her throat, and choked out, "Rei," before falling

silent again.

"See, that wasn't so bad," the newcomer encouraged, sharing a smile with Serenity as she linked her arms with the two girls.

"So, why don't you give me the grand tour?"


She had tried to do another fire reading, but the result was the same as before, the same vision she had told Serenity.

Sighing, still unable to completely understand it, she gave up for the night and started heading back to the palace, stopping

by a small park and picking up her two blonde friends before continuing to her room. The other two had bickered about some

other kids they had met playing most of the way, but when they noticed her mood, asked her what was wrong.

Tired, hoping telling someone else about it would increase the chances of getting to the bottom of the mystery, she passed on

the details of her vision to Minako, Serenity occasionally interrupting to add her own thoughts.


Someone was crying. She had been deeply sleeping, but the suppressed sobs tugged at her and she knew they were real, that

they weren't part of a dream, that someone needed her. She pushed her dreams away and forced herself to wake up.

Her eyes immediately fell on the shaking, slightly blurred, figure in the bed across the room. "Minako?" she said, her speech

slightly slurred, "Mina-chan, what's wrong? Why aren't you asleep?" No reply. "Did you have another nightmare?"

"Yes, it was horrible."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," she sniffed, "that makes them real."

Rei moved to the side in her bed and turned down the sheets. "Come on, Mina-chan, you can sleep with me tonight, I won't let

the nightmares get you."

"I'm afraid they'll get me when I get out of bed. I know it's silly, but...I am," the blonde admitted.

"Then scoot over," the miko gently commanded, slipping from her bed into Minako's. "Now, go to sleep. I won't let anybody or

anything get you while I'm around."

The blonde nodded and took her hand, cradling it against herself. "Thanks, Rei-chan." A few minutes passed while she

repositioned herself countless times around the outstretched hand. "Um, Rei?"


"I can't get back to sleep, I'm wide awake."

"No, you're not, just try."

"I am, but I can't. I--"

"Shh," Rei said, covering the blonde's mouth with a tired hand and wearily opening her eyes. She sat up against the headboard

and pulled her friend into her lap. "Just relax," she whispered as she gently raked her fingers through Minako's hair.

Casting about for a way to ease her friend’s anxiety, Rei remembered Phobos. When she couldn’t, or simply hadn’t wanted to,

get to sleep, he would sing to her. The song always swiftly sent her dreaming, despite it telling her to resist it. Or

perhaps that was why it always worked. She mentally shrugged and started to sing, quietly but clearly.

"Stay awake, don't rest your head.
Don't lie down upon your bed.
While the earth* drifts in the skies,
Stay awake, don't close your eyes.

Though the world is fast asleep,
Though your pillow's soft and deep,
You're not sleepy as you seem.
Stay awake, don't nod and dream.
Stay awake, don't nod and dream."

As the last delicate note of her not quite matured voice died on her lips, she glanced over and saw that her troubled friend

had already been claimed by sleep. She smiled and closed her eyes, more than ready to join her.


The violet-eyed miko watched her friend from Venus brush out her long blonde mane, running her fingers through her own

shorter hair.

"Is it hard to take care of hair that long? I mean, shampooing and drying and brushing must take forever."

"They do," Minako admitted, "but that's what I like about long hair. I get an hour or so each day to myself, doing something

that relaxes me, something that let's me think and clear my mind."

"What do you think about?"

"Everything, I guess; the weather, our lessons, our training, our duty, you, Serenity, the other girls we haven't met yet,

whether they'll like me or not, what we're going to have for dinner, home, what I should wear, when the next party will be,

what I should wear to the party, everything."

"Yeah, I'd say that's just about everything."

"Why?" She smiled and tossed her hair over her shoulder. "You haven't fallen in love with it, too, have you?" she winked.

Rei laughed, "Call me old-fashioned, but I like whole people, not just shiny pieces of them. No, I was just wondering. I

mean, living on Mars, I was lucky to be able to endure having hair this long. But, now, I live on the moon and I thought, I

can, so why not grow it out?"

"I think it'll look really nice, Rei-chan."


"Yeah," Minako smiled. The two friends passed a few comfortable minutes in slience together, before the blonde's brow

crinkled in thought. "Is it true that most of the people on Mars shave their heads? Even the girls?"

Rei blinked and sweatdropped, not even bothering to answer.


Idly, the young miko toyed with the idea of giving up fire reading. Ever since the day Serenity had asked her to tell her

future, all she ever received from the spirits was the same message replayed over and over. None of it ever changed, ever

varied. Quite frankly, it was getting monotonous.

Hearing the other four girls giggling and laughing in Serenity's adjoining room, she decided to share her vision, THE vision,

with the two other girls who had arrived months ago.


"What are you doing!?" the enraged Venusian shrieked, slamming their shared bedroom door behind her. She stared at the miko

sitting serenely on the fur before the fireplace, a stack of stationary notes, envelopes, an ink stone, and an ink stick

scattered around her.

"Just practicing my calligraphy, Mina-chan, nothing too out of the ordinary. What are you doing?" she placidly asked,

scrutinizing her last stroke and nodding in satisfaction.

"How can you be so calm about it?"

"Mina-chan, this isn't the first time the queen has taken Sere-chan away for a month, and it won't be the last," she calmly


The blonde started pacing, gesturing in the air and ranting all the while, "But she'll be gone for your birthday! She knew

your birthday is in two weeks! And not just any birthday, but your big sixteenth!"

"Yes, I'm sure she knew, but I'll have another birthday next year."

"She's already invited all the guests! Made all the preparations! After refusing your request for a private gathering and

making a circus of it, now she's not going to be there and making sure Sere-chan won't be either! And now the news will leak

and other people will back out!"

The miko pulled a few strands of her waist-length hair back out of her way, closed her eyes, blinking back tears, and sighed.

"Yes, more than likely."

"It's just another political move, Rei-chan! Can't you see that? She's done it to most of us at least once! She's undermining

us! Sure, we're all heiresses to our planets, but she's making sure everyone knows we're in her thrall completely and are

concubines before princesses! That the one is so much more than the other and that we are insignificant compared to her!"

Rei started putting away her materials, giving practice up as pointless. "Thank you for spelling it all out so clearly for

me, Minako. I never would have seen the light without your insight," she sardonically added.

"So none of that bothered you? She wouldn't even let Sere-chan stay the rest of the day so we could celebrate early, just the

five of us..."

"It bothers me."

"You have a funny way of showing it."

"Yeah? Well, since the hime's not going to be here, I figured one of us should still get dinner to sneak you three some."

"A few weeks ago you would have been standing beside us, shouting the loudest--"

"And getting slapped the hardest," she wearily interrupted.

"Oh, come off it; of all people, you've gotten used to it, grin wider when you get a reaction from her and make her lose


"Maybe I got tired of the game."

"Maybe, but that's not it."

The violet-eyed girl decided to bite, tired of beating around the bush. "Sometimes you have to learn to create your own

privacy. You can disappear within yourself, to grow impenetrable walls behind which you live. We have a limitless maze to

hide in. Rituals and customs, taboos of all kinds, even our mind becomes a maze if we let it. Then, when you hide behind your

walls, you can close your ears or close off your emotions. With enough practice, you can store everything away for later,

when it's more convenient."

"Sounds real healthy."

"It's just something Phobos told me about that makes a lot of sense, now. He called it the Eightfold Fence. All recruits had

to practice it at the barracks, or they'd surely go mad and kill each other and themselves."

"Cheery stuff." She walked over and sat down beside Rei on the luxurious pelt, talking towards the fire.

"Wise stuff."

"So it's just ignoring what's going on around you? Wearing a mask?"

"That's part of it."

"Rei, it's not normal to lock all your emotions away. I mean, here, I guess I could see doing it for a dinner or a ball, but

not forever. We feel for a reason."

"But why does all we feel have to be pain?"

And it was all pain. Pain that didn't fade away but grew stronger with time, like a festering wound. She missed her home and

life on Mars; she missed her grandfather, Phobos, and Deimos. Sometimes, she missed having Serenity to herself. She felt

guilty for that, though, because she really liked Minako. It was like she was betraying her roommate with the thought. Then

she felt doubly guilty when she missed being one of only three, before Ami or Makoto had arrived.

She never got over her dislike, almost hatred, of the queen, and felt she should be able to--if only for the simple fact that

she was Serenity's mother. It was a double-edged sword. It felt right to be repulsed by her so, and yet she felt the need to

punish herself afterward.

Minako pulled her into an embrace and she collapsed against her, sobbing on her shoulder and into her blonde hair. When her

tears were spent and she was finished sniffing, the Venusian pulled back.

"Let's leave that fence of yours for parties, you were really scaring me. Besides, I'll never get to hug you again if you

never feel anything. Deal?"

"Deal...Hey, Mina-chan?"


"I'm sorry I didn't get slapped, too."

"Me, too," the girl managed to smile, before being tackled and tickled relentlessly.


The instructor was raving about some historical event that probably happened a million years ago and was as interesting as a

box of rocks. In her opinion, anyway. Ami seemed quite engrossed, taking notes and even asking questions.

She was in the first of the five full-size desks, arranged in a kind of long semi-circle, which put her behind the teacher,

who was currently lecturing from inside the horseshoe. Admittedly, this was how she preferred class. She was a good student,

not as good as Ami but still decent, but she liked being able to sit back and breathe now and then, something she felt she

couldn't do when the teacher was looming over her. Then again, being one of only five students, Rei was pretty much loomed

over no matter where the teacher stood, she wryly thought.

It seemed everyone else was of the same mind, she noted; except Ami, who had engaged the educator in a debate, again.

Serenity was stealthily nibbling on bits of something she held under her desk. Minako was doodling; when she saw Rei looking

at her she held up her work, a demonified chibi version of Luna, and covered her giggle. Rei smiled and signaled a thumbs up

before nudging Makoto, who stretched, looked, and held up her own version. Serenity's eyes landed on it and caused her to

choke on her food. The room erupted in chaos as the tutor turned around and started reprimanding them all, mad at being

defeated by the Mercurian yet again. Ami turned her exasperated glare on Makoto and Minako alternately, who were both

laughing with Rei as she slapped Serenity's back with a bit too much enthusiasm in an attempt to dislodge the crumbs from her


Though the class was settled down in the next few minutes, order was never fully restored.

A small wad of paper struck Rei in the forehead; a smirking Minako was revealed as the culprit. The miko unfolded the note

and read.

'Hey, good-looking, Sere-chan says that our beloved queen is planning yet another ball in a few weeks for Sere's 16th. You

know what that means! Shopping! Love, Minako.'

Her light mood was quelled; a frown replaced her smile. She scribbled her reply and chucked it back when the instructor

wasn't looking.

'Not on your life. After 10 hours of that torture for my own party, you promised we could order them this time. Rei.'

Watching for the blonde's reaction, she was slightly disconcerted--no, make that terrified--by the grin that spread across

her face.

What had she gotten herself into this time?


"Minako, no." The miko danced just out of her reach.

"Rei, just hold still!"

"This is ridiculous! I doubt I've shot up or out by much since the last ball!"

"Just in case, Rei-chan. Where's the harm? So we make sure you haven't. Please?" the blonde pouted, even trying the puppy dog

eyes, as she fiddled with the measuring tape in her hand.

She tried to resist, but the lethal combination of the protruding lower lip and wide watery gaze proved too much for even

her. "Fine," she sighed, relenting to her friend's wishes.

"You'll thank me when your dress fits perfectly, Rei-chan!"

"Sure I will, Mina-ko," she drawled. "Right after I crown you my queen."

"Start planning your announcement feast, babe. But, first, you need to take your clothes off."

"Just measure me!"

"Nope, that's hardly accurate. You heard me, Rei-chan, strip!"

Lightly flushing, the miko acquiesced, reaching behind herself, untying her straps, stepping out of the light dress, and

removing her undergarments, save her panties. Despite her embarrassment, she proudly lifted her head to meet her friend's

stare...and smirked when the blushing girl couldn't hold it.

"Mina-chan," she whispered, trying not to laugh, "don't tell me you've suddenly become shy. Aren't you going to measure me?"

She ran her hands over her firm stomach for good measure, thoroughly enjoying having the tables turned.

The Venusian still didn't make a move, so the raven-haired girl ambled over to stand in front of her.

"Mina-ko," she breathed into her ear, leaning into her.

"Y-yes?" the blue-eyed girl stammered, frozen yet breathing heavily.

"Snap out of it," she said, pushing Minako onto her bed and climbing on top of her to keep her from getting away while she

tickled her sides.

"Ah! Rei! Stop!" she shouted between laughs, struggling to no avail. Just as Rei broke off her torture and captured the

blonde's hands above her head so she couldn't reciprocate the gesture, a door was flung open.

"What's wrong?" Serenity yelled. She was quickly joined by Makoto and Ami. They took in the scene before them: Rei above

Minako on the bed and restricting her wrists, Rei almost completely naked, Minako red in the face and gasping for breath.

Serenity stood stock-still barely a foot inside the door, opening and closing her mouth at random. Ami merely covered her

face and turned away, trying to will back her rapidly reddening face.

"If you can't keep it down, the least you could do is hang a stocking or something on the doorknob," Makoto joked, smiling.

Her comment broke the spell that had settled upon the intruded-upon scene.

"Uh, we should go," the princess faltered, turning around, pushing the other two back into her own room, and closing the


"She's just measuring me for the ball!" Rei shouted, trying to explain. She heard a bark of laughter from the other room.

A few minutes later, she finally noticed she was still straddling Minako's waist, who was still breathing heavily, though she

seemed to be starting to control it. Weakly smiling, the violet-eyed girl released her prisoner's hands from her grasp and

moved to stand in the middle of the room. The blonde quickly followed her and exacted her measurements, though Rei was

frustratingly more aware that she was, in fact, in her panties and not only that her friend's hands would shake when taking

slightly more sensitive dimensions, but also that her body was responding to her touch, whether she wanted to or not.

She couldn't understand why, though. Sure, she was sixteen, but they'd showered together, trained together, bandaged each

other up, and slept in the same bed, countless times. Why would this be any different?

Minako finished and looked at her expectantly. She could see the question written within her eyes.

"Yes," she answered, "now you have to, too. Hand me the tape while you get undressed."

She took the roll and slipped on her yukata while she waited. When the Venusian was ready, so was she, having said a silent

prayer and counted backwards from 25. 'Ha, take that, you damn hormones,' she crowed in her head, easily recording the first


Then it was time to measure cup size. A minute trembling of her hands. She moved on to her waist, slipping the thin ribbon

down the girl's back and smiling at the gooseflesh that appeared over Minako's body. She coughed to the side and tried to

ignore how the shaking had engulfed her entire arm. Finished, she released the tape, just to realize she'd done so too soon

and still had her hips to do.

Mentally groaning, outwardly gulping and wiping her forehead on the sleeve of her robe, she wrapped her arms around the near

-nude girl.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she'd finished, though a small part of her longed to be in contact with the silky skin of

the beauty before her.

A very small part.

A small part that she hadn't noticed until now and seemed to be growing.

'Damn hormones, indeed,' she thought.


She surveyed the scene before her with growing disgust, and jealousy.

Other people, all men and clearly not her, had been surrounding Serenity since the beginning of the ball innumerable hours

ago. They had flocked to the palace earlier that day, some even a few days prior in hopes of getting an advantage over the

others in the form of extra time with the illustrious Princess of the Moon.

All were minor royalty compared to the petite hime. All in horribly tasteless, yet doubtlessly expensive, outfits with as

many medals and fake awards heaped on their chests as they could stand upright with. Half of them double or triple, even

quadruple, her age.

Every single one of them reeked of too much cologne and free alcohol, the latter of which was starting to show as some forgot

their by-the-book manners and acquired the audacity to touch her. A pat on the back here, a tap of the shoulder there; it

might as well have been a mad grab for her breasts, as far as Rei was concerned.

Seeing one particularly bold move, she growled low in her throat and started to make her way over, leaving her own fan club

behind. Halfway to her destination and the satisfaction of punching one of the ill-fated would-be suitors, a slender hand

grabbed her shoulder and restrained her.

She whirled around to confront her hindrance. "Minako? Let me go. You don't understand. He--"

"I do know, Rei," she interrupted, her words packed with so much meaning the enraged teenager was instantly stilled.

She had seen the men and was just as upset; had been on her own way to deal out some justice when she caught sight of Rei and

came back to herself, rushing to stop the miko as well.

She grasped that Rei loved their charge, understood because she did, too. Understood how much she hurt when their queen

delighted in taking their friend away for weeks on end to meet and spend time with this prince or that duke; how the ache

throbbed when reminded that they were there to take care of her, not to care for her or be cared for; how much the ache

became a gaping wound when confronted with the fact that Serenity would be expected to marry one of the men drooling over her

and they, her concubines, the ones wrenched from their homes to watch over her, would be expected to step back, smile, and

offer her words of encouragement and a bouquet when the time came.

Rei could see the emotions fighting for dominance in her friend's blue eyes, usually so bright but now dim, in turmoil,

stormy. Frustration, love, resignation, reluctance, fear, resilience, anger, admiration, understanding... The curtains pulled

away from her mind and Rei saw the truth, that everything Minako was feeling was as much for Serenity as for herself. Just as

quickly, she realized that she felt the same way.

She felt the same emotions surge within her, threatening to engulf her, to overtake her, to make her experience every one in

turn to its fullest extent until she screamed for mercy from any and every higher power in the middle of the dance floor.

And then she came back to herself. She was in the middle of the dance floor. She may have every human emotion raging within

her, but she was still at her hime's ball, in the midst of the few people who could make Serenity's life and future reign a

living hell if she let her mask slip, a mask that all senshi learned to wear, a mask that made them appear more than human

and therefore Serenity's control over them all the more awesome, a mask that made them all feel slightly less human with each


Roughly, unable to dispel the passion from her movements as easily as her face, the fiery guard pulled Minako to her and

began to dance, searching for an outlet.

"That's it, hide behind your fence," Minako soothed, whispering into Rei's ear as they chased each other around the floor,

pivoting and turning, pushing and pulling, thrusting and spinning, dipping and lifting.

Rei remembered her Eightfold Fence well; she still regularly employed its illusion to gain a temporary peace, though not as

totally as she had the first night, and rarely around Minako or Serenity.

But she couldn't concentrate enough to uphold the illusion tonight. As soon as the music ended, she rushed off the floor and

into the nearly deserted hall, sparing a mere two glances behind her. The first was to check on Serenity, where she saw that

the queen was introducing her to an armored man, much better looking and younger than the earlier buffoons, with short dark

hair. The second was to make sure Minako was following.

She heard the footsteps behind her and continued to their room. Her feet stopped a few steps in, where she waited until the

door clicked closed. Turning, she made sure she hadn't been dreaming and that Minako still felt as she had. Satisfied with

what she saw, the miko captured the blonde's lips with her own, pinning her against the door.

Feverishly, their lips danced over each other's, the force behind them steadily increasing. One of them opened their mouths,

neither sure who did first, and the kiss grew more heated. Tongues ravished each other, wrestling for control. Teeth nibbled

on lips and tongue both, eliciting gasps and moans. Hands roamed bodies, desperate for the feel of skin and unable to reach


Drawing Rei's lower lip into her own mouth and sucking, rapidly getting her full attention, Minako just managed to growl,

"Let's at least get to a bed," before the fervent miko lifted her off the ground and fulfilled her request, straddling her

legs on top of the comforter, their mouths never losing contact.

Her mouth was on fire, the touch of the blonde doing more to her than ever before. Electricity seemed to shock and jolt

everywhere they touched, sparking between them. And still she wanted more, needed more. Rising on her knees, her hands

struggled to untie the zigzags of lace and ribbon that held the bodice together while she continued to assault Minako's lips.

Her movements grew frenzied, but she calmed somewhat when she finally succeeded.

Almost in disbelief, she broke away from her companion, staring into her heated blue eyes while she slid the dress down her

lithe frame, uncovering her breasts, stomach, legs, and finally throwing the garment across the room.

Gently, with a tranquility she didn't feel, she lowered Minako to the bed. She moved to the milky skin of her neck, covering

the expanse with kisses, some fleeting and feathery while others were lingering and impassioned. Eventually, she had passed

her pulse too many times, its call was irresistible, and she fell to licking it, sucking it, drawing the blood to the


Minako's urgings, her moaning and hisses, implored her to continue her ministrations, but she felt she could do more.

Tantalizingly slow, she left a trail of moist kisses down her throat, over her collarbone, and down her chest, avoiding her

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