Story: A Meeting of Minds (chapter 3)

Authors: SoftRogue

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Chapter 3

Title: Three

A Meeting of Minds
Chapter 3

a Sailor Moon Fanfic
by SoftRogue
whiteb100@hotmail.com

Disclaimer:
I do not own Sailor Moon or any
other people mentioned.

---Present Time---

It truly didn't surprise me that we somehow ended up at the Crown Arcade. Since there was no current threat to Crystal Tokyo or to humanity, the meeting at the Hikawa Shrine was just an informal get together between the Inners and us. We spent several hours there catching up with each other and tasting Makotos wonderful cooking. (Although, truth be told, I spent most of the time keeping a tight reign on Haruka and her...enthusiasm).

Although Haruka might protest about these meetings (somewhat loudly, I might add), I know that she enjoys them...and not because of her little 'theories'. It might have taken the two of us a while to realize it, but Usagi and the others are more than just our fellow Senshi and friends; they are our family.

It wasn't a surprise when Usagi suggested that we all go out for ice cream. After a token protest from Rei, we all headed out to what is practically the Inners second home (the first obviously being the Hikawa Shrine). Arriving at the Arcade, we took up several tables and I was again treated to the sight of my future Queen eating her sundae with a childlike relish. I was also once again treated to Rei's admonishments of Usagi's eating habits.

I was also busy keeping a close eye on my daughter as she picked at the cup of ice cream she ordered for herself. I am still concerned about her eating habits, even though she has shown a marked improvement over how she use to eat after we adopted her. There has also been a definite improvement in her physical wellbeing these past two years; but old habits die-hard and there have been times that I've felt frustrated at how little she would eat.

It wasn't long until the others finished their ice cream and went into the Arcade proper. I smiled at the sight of Minako taking Hotaru under her wing, as it were, and showing her the intricacies of the latest Sailor V game. Usagi was loudly protesting Rei's enthusiasm in playing one of the Arcades newest additions: Whack-a-Rabbit. Ami, meanwhile, had setup her laptop in a nearby booth and was working on refining her program while Makoto sat next to her.

Looking over at Haruka, I couldn't help but roll my eyes as she watched Ami and Makoto with a silly grin on her face. I shook my head when she met my eyes and mouthed 'I told you so.'

Far be it from me to ruin my lovers' fun, but I felt it was finally time to dissuade her of one of her favorite 'theories'. "Watch." I said softly as I turned my attention back to the booth.

It didn't take long until what I expected to happen occurred. While Ami was diligently working away on her laptop, Makoto leaned up against the shorter girl to apparently get a closer look at the screen. Haruka reached over and grasped one of my hands, giving it a squeeze in satisfaction. Not taking my eyes off the two younger girls, I raise my free hand and extend a finger for her to signal her to wait. It didn't take long for what I was waiting for to happen.

After watching for a few moments, we saw Ami shift slightly in her seat. It wasn't much and, if you weren't looking for it, you would have missed it completely. While she didn't move very far, the position she was in now left Makoto in an awkward position. It didn't take long for the brunette to move into a more comfortable position, one that brought her closer to the blue haired girl. A few moments later, Ami once again shifted away from the taller girl.

"Wha..." Haruka muttered, understanding finally dawning.

"I told you so." I say with a small smile, unable to resist needling my love.

"But...but I...I was so sure..."

"You were sure about what?" Minako asked as she suddenly sat across from us, sipping on a soda.

I look around to find Hotaru, only to see her now playing the Sailor V game with Usagi. And apparently winning.

Unfortunately, the slight distraction provided ample time for Haruka to say what was on her mind. "I thought that Ami-chan and Mako-chan were an item, you know?"

'I love Haruka. I love her very much. I don't want to hit her. No, I definitely don't want to hit her...or make her sleep on the couch.' I think to myself repeatedly.

"Oh, that." Minako says, surprising me. "Well, I know that Mako-chan has a thing for Ami but she hasn't come out and said anything yet."

"Oh?" Haruka said, "And how would you know anything about that?" she asks suggestively.

I resist the urge to groan. It's been difficult enough to keep Haruka from making comments to the Inners about their love lives, or apparent lack there of. I know she means well, but she tends to get caught up and carried away with her little 'theories'.

"Ah, you're forgetting that you're speaking to one and only Goddess of Love!" Minako says with enthusiasm. "Besides, I've been watching the two of them for several years now."

"Really..." Haruka says slowly. "So, Makoto's got feelings for Ami, but Ami isn't interested?"

"Exactly." Minako agrees, taking another sip of her soda.

"So...who's the lucky girl that Ami has her eye on?"

"Haruka..." I groan, only to be ignored.

"Don't know." Minako shrugs. "It's hard to get any reading from her. I'm pretty sure that she's not interested in boys, but I've never seen her checking out any girls. I really don't know what type of person she likes."

Haruka sits there in thought for a moment, before giving the other blonde a lecherous grin. "So Miss 'Goddess of Love'...why don't you tell me what's really going on between Rei and Usagi?"

I sigh in defeat and excuse myself from the table, not that they notice as they begin to whisper surreptitiously to each other. Making my way over the booth that Ami and Makoto were sitting at, I join them and spend the next hour or so talking to Ami about the program she was working. If I hadn't been looking for it, I would have missed the look of relief that the blue haired girl gave me. While I wasn't very proficient with computer programming, I knew enough to have a general idea about what she was talking about.

After a while, Usagi and the others finished getting their fix of video games (either that or they ran out of money). We then walked back to the Shrine, cutting through the park behind it, while I listened to Usagi talking excitedly.

"Wow! You were great, Hotaru-chan! I bet you could easly beat the high score on Sailor V!"

"Thank you, Usagi-san." my daughter said shyly.

"I don't think so!" Minako protested, "There isn't anyway that anyone is going to beat MY score!"

"Oh, pooh!" Usagi said. "You're just upset that she beat you twice in a row."

"She did not! I was just taking it easy on her...like I always take it easy on you."

"WHAT!? How could you, Mina-chan!" Usagi whined.

"Ah, geeze Odango Atama! Why don't you grow up? It's just a game." Rei said with exasperation.

"Whaaa! Rei's being mean to me again!"

"You just had to say something, didn't you Rei?" Makoto asked with annoyance.

"I wouldn't have to if she would just act her age." the shrine maiden protested.

"Why would I want to? I wouldn't want to get wrinkles like you." Usagi said, giving Rei the red-eye.

Rei growled and lunged at the blonde, who showed remarkable dexterity by dancing out of her reach.

"Ah, give it a rest, Rei!" Usagi said with a wide smile. "It's a wonderful day! We're here with our friends having a great time! Absolutely nothing could go wrong! So why don't you just chill out!"

Rei paused and was about to respond, but something interrupted her.

"wwwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

BAMN!

We all tensed up and I pulled out my Henshin wand as something fell onto Usagi, driving her face first into the ground. My first impression was the abundance of...pink. A lot of pink. Pink dress, pink hair, and even pink panties.

"Owie..." the pink...thing on top of Usagi said.

"Chibi-Usa!" Hotaru cried out with excitement, launching herself forward and embracing her friend in a tight hug.

"Hotaru-chan!" the future princess replied, returning the hug with enthusiasm.

It took me a moment to recognize her. While it's been only six months since we had last seen her, it's apparently been quite a bit longer for Chibi-Usa. The last time we saw her, she was about 11 years old, but she looked closer to 14 now.

"...uh...can both of you please get off of me?" Usagi moaned from underneath the two younger girls.

***********

I look up from my drawing table, the dress I'm designing no longer taking up my attention. I look inward as I reach out with my powers to identify the source of the disturbance in the Time Stream I just felt. It takes just a moment for me to recognize the unique temporal signature of the Time Key.

"Small Lady." I smile, knowing that she is the only one who is able to use it besides Usagi or myself.

Fortunately for me, when someone travels through time using that particular artifact the effects on the space/time continuum is minimal. With minimal effort, I observe the flow of the Time Stream and I see no consequence to her travel through the flow of time.

I sigh in relief. Since the Time Key is an extension of the Gates of Time itself, it's designed to facilitate ones travel through the Time Stream.

"Unlike some things." I mutter to myself.

---Silver Millennium---

"Damn it!" I mutter to myself as I walk through the halls of the Lunar Palace.
"Two whole months! Eight weeks! 56 days! 1344 hours spent cleaning up that...that disaster!"

Stopping in the middle of the deserted hall, I slump my shoulders. Taking a deep breath, I raise my fist up and say, "Damn you! Next time I see you, you'll get what's coming to you! You and your K-9 unit too!"

I pause and realize I'm making a spectacle of myself. Running a hand across my face, I feel a bone weary exhaustion begin to take a hold of me. I know I should just use my powers to return to Charon Castle or even my personal quarters here at the Lunar Palace and sleep for the next day or three. But I can't. Not without seeing my Pai first.

It still amazes me how, in the past two years, young Pai has become such an important part of my life. Ever since the day I first met her, I find myself looking forward to the weekly sessions we have. Since I can't spend a lot of time with her, I've made it a point to visit her at least one day a week. Normally, we would spend the first part of the day reviewing whatever we talked about the last time we met, followed by a variety of discussions ranging from Literature to Physics to Chemistry to Politics. Finally, I would assign a topic for her to write a report on.

To this day, it still amazes me the breadth of knowledge young Pai has and her hunger to learn more. As it is, I can barely stay ahead of my six-year-old charge.

But, thanks to that meddling Time Lord, I've had to spend the past two months repairing damage to the Time Stream he caused. The only thing that kept me from using the Time Gates to locate him and shove the Time Staff so far up his ass he would cough up the Garnet Orb was the fact he did more good than harm.

"Where is she?" I wonder out loud.

I'm starting to get frustrated and irritable as I search the Lunar Palace. I've been searching for a while now, trying to find where young Pai might be. I had already checked her personal quarters and the Royal Library, yet I haven't been able to find her. Figuring that there could be only one other place she might be I make my way down to an unused portion of the Palace.

Finally making my way to my destination, I carefully (very carefully) open the heavy, steel reinforced door and enter the Lab.

"Hello Airi." I say without preamble.

"Gagh!" the Senshi of Mercury exclaims as she juggles a vial of fluid in her hands. "Don't DO that!"

I stand there, giving the blonde Senshi a look of mild reproach. It takes her a few moments to collect herself before she recognizes me. "Oh, hello Lady Iria. What can I do for you?"

"I'm looking for Pai."

She looks at me with large blue eyes before blinking several times. "Who?"

I resist rolling my eyes. While no one could deny fact that Airi was highly intelligent, she was also fairly scatter brained. That was the main reason she hadn't been given the task of seeing to young Pai's education as I was.

"Pai. Your successor?"

I could practically see the gears turning in her head before she finally said, "Oh, Pai! Why didn't you say so in the first place? She should be in the Opal Room with the Princess."

I nod politely and exit the Lab. 'Why would she be in the Opal Room?' I think to myself, absently aware of an explosion rocking the Lab behind me. 'Nobody's used it for several decades now.'

After several minutes, I make my way to the Opal Room and enter. To my utter surprise, I see that the Opal Room had been redecorated into what looks like a pre-school classroom. Looking around, I notice the assorted toys that one would fine in such a place. As I enter the room, I see Pai sitting at a low table drawing with what looked like a crayon, a look of utter boredom on her face.

"Hello, child." I say softly.

Pai looks up and her face immediately brightened. "Sensei!" she exclaimed.

She stands from her chair and rushes over to me, almost as if she would throw her arms around me and hug me. She stops short, however, and stands in front of me demurely.

"Hello, Sensei." she says softly.

"Pai." I say warmly. "How have you been?"

"Ok...I guess." Pai says; her eyes downcast, her voice thick with distress.

Frowning, I look closely at my charge then glance over at the table she was working at. I can tell that she was drawing what appeared to be a fractal spiral, which surprised me since we already covered fractals over a year ago. Looking around the room, I realize how...childish everything seems. From the scattered toys to the d├ęcor, everything looked like it was for a young child; which confused me since Pai never showed any interest in such thing.

Kneeling down, I lift young Pais' chin until I'm looking her in the eyes. "Child? What is going on here?"

"Excuse me?" a voice says from behind me.

Turning my head, I see a primly dressed older woman leading Princess Serenity into the room. "Who are you?" I ask slowly, doing my best to hide my confusion at what's going on.

"I am Dame Miho, the Duchess of Matins." she says properly, "And I have been charged by the Queen herself to see the care of Princess Serenity and that...child."

"I see..." I say slowly, already feeling my ire rise at how she's acting, not only towards me, but also towards young Pai.

"And it's a good thing too." Dame Miho continues as if she didn't even hear me. "It's totally improper for such a young girl-child to be reading about such inconsequential things as 'quantal physicals' or whatever. A proper lady shouldn't bother with such things."

I stand slowly, doing my best to contain my anger. "Pai?" I say softly.

"Hai, Sensei?"

"I want you to take the princess to your quarters. I wish to...speak with Dame Miho."

"Hai, Sensei." young Pai replies, before quickly moving over to the three year old princess. "Come on, Serenity. I have some cookies in my room."

"Wai! Cookies!" the future princess says with excitement before grabbing young Pai's hand and dragging her out of the room.

"Excuse me? What do you think you're doing?" Dame Miho protested.

"Excuse me?! What do YOU think YOU'RE doing?!" I snapped back.

I have to admit, privately, that I was slightly impressed. Most people would have flinched at my tone; however, Dame Miho stood firm before me; however, I was in no mood to be impressed. Ten minutes later, the Duchess of Matins fled from the Opal Room in tears.

I left the Opal Room feeling...satisfied. I know I shouldn't have said some of the things I did, but it felt so...good. I make my way to young Pai's room briskly with a satisfied smirk on my face. Arriving there, I enter her quarters and find her waiting at a table in her small sitting room reading a book.

"Sensei!" young Pai greeted me excitedly, rising from her chair and offering it to me.

I gratefully accept her offer and, a few moments later, she's handing me a cup of tea. Relaxing in the chair, I take a sip of the blend and voice my approval. The two of us then sit in silence for a few moments, savoring the comfortable atmosphere.

"I...I was worried..." young Pai said softly, finally breaking the silence between us.

"About what?" I inquired.

Shyly, young Pai softly said, "You...you were gone for so long. And I didn't hear anything from you..."

"I apologize." I said, interpreting her. "Things became so hectic I was unable to break away."

She nodded in understanding and I relaxed further. We sat there in silence for a while longer. Finally, I asked, "Where is the princess?"

"She's taking a nap in my bed...after finishing an entire plate of cookies I was saving for you." young Pai said with a trace embarrassed.

"Like mother, like daughter." I chuckled softly. Looking at young Pai closely, I ask softly, "What's been happening since I've been gone?"

Young Pai spent the next few minutes filling me in about what's been going on since I had last been here. She told me about the lessons that Airi had been giving her about her future duties as the Senshi of Mercury...when she remembered to, that is. I also learned that apparently a new Senshi of Uranus and a new Senshi of Neptune had been Awakened during my absents. Kei, the new Uranus, was 10 years old while Yuri, the new Neptune, was a year younger. Both had Awakened normally and were currently in the care of their respective elders. However, she avoided the one subject I was interested in.

"And what about Dame Miho?"

Looking down at the floor, young Pai slowly began to speak. "About a week after you left, the Queen brought her in to help raise her daughter. When she learned about me, Dame Miho insisted that I was also put into her care. Since you were missing and the Queen and Lady Airi were both busy, no one was around to say no to her."

"Did...did you enjoy her watching over you?" I asked carefully, suddenly feeling guilty about my 'talk' with the Duchess.

She seriously considered her answer for a moment. "Not...not really, no. I mean, I know I've missed out on what normal girls my age do, but..." young Pai trailed off for a moment before continuing. "She, Dame Miho that is, didn't let me do any of my normal readings. She restricted my access on the computer and convinced Luna to limit my time in the library."

"I see." I replied, suddenly no longer feeling guilty about the dressing down I had given the Duchess...and I also had a sudden strong urge to drop kick the Mau advisor across a courtyard or two.

"By the way, Sensei. Here." young Pai said, shyly handing me several data strips. "I'm sorry that my reports aren't as thorough as I would like, but I did the best I could with what I had available."

I couldn't help but smile, knowing full well that whatever she had written about would be more in depth than most people would be able to do with twice the resources young Pai would have normally had available.

We chatted for a while longer before I finally had to beg off for the day. The events of the past two months had caught up with me and, after several yawns, I excused myself; but only after promising to spend the rest of the tomorrow going over the assignments she had written for me with her.

Stepping out of young Pai's quarters, I yawned again before I turned to head towards my own rooms, only to literally run into the one person I really didn't want to deal with.

"Hello...Iria."

"Nanami." I said dryly.

The Senshi of Jupiter and I shared a long look before she finally said, "Serenity wants to talk to you. Now. Follow me."

With that, Nanami turned around and walked down the hall, not even pausing to see if I was following her.

'Oh. Crap.' I think to myself. It could mean only one thing if Queen Serenity had asked HER to come back to the Lunar Palace to deal with ME. I must have stepped in it big time.

---Present Time---

I shake my head ruefully as I remember what had happened next. Looking back, I knew that it wasn't one of my greatest moments. It had been the first time that Serenity and I ever really argued before and, unfortunately, it hadn't been as two old friends either. It had been a fight between the Queen and the Senshi of Pluto.

Finally, the two of us had come to a concusses. I had agreed that I had overstepped my bounds with how I had dealt with Dame Miho and Serenity and conceded that she had been wrong to allow the Duchess to effect young Pai's education to such an extent.

"I'm doing it again!" I sighed in frustration, realizing that I had allowed myself to think about what had been between Pai and myself.

Fortunately, before I could dwell on the past further, I heard the sound of Haruka's car pulling into the driveway.

------
To Be Continued...

Author's Notes...
Well, I hoped you enjoyed the third chapter of this
shoujo-ai fic. I have a lot planned for it, so it might
take a long time to get everything I want written up, so
please beer with me.

Personally, I don't think this came out as well as it
could have. So, please, if you have any suggestions
let me know.

Any C&C would be appreciated at whiteb100@hotmail.com

06/03/05

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