Title: Straight Up Assumptions
Author: Lex 'Spork' Tenou
Pairing: Haruka/Michiru, Makoto/Ami
Spoilers: Some, for episode 110-111
Author's Note: Inspired by "Arisugawa's Locket" on Fanfiction.net, and the Scarlett series by Ann Douglas.
Straight Up Assumptions
by Lex 'Spork' Tenou
"What is she doing?" Kino Makoto muttered. Behind her, Tsukino Usagi nearly crashed into Hino Rei and Aino Minako.
They all watched intently as a short woman looked both ways before crossing the deserted street and entering a small, dirty alleyway. Waiting a scant moment, Makoto led the attempted stealthy charge across the street.
"Be quiet!" Rei hissed at the suddenly giggling Minako and Usagi. If they continued with their giggling, they would ruin it!
"Where is she going?" Makoto's question was tight. Her apprehensive tension was due partly to an unresolved jealousy the origins of which she was in ignorance.
"Maybe she's meeting a new boyfriend, like I've been saying all along!"
Makoto spared a glare for the innocent blonde that followed her.
"If she had a new boyfriend, she would tell us, Minako." Rei didn't dare air her own opinions. She had noticed on more than one occassion, the looks that Makoto would shoot over at the woman they followed.
To say the least, they had been less than sisterly.
If she hadn't been so wrapped up in Usagi for so many years, she might have noticed the obsession sooner. Since she had only in the past few months come to terms with her own unrequited desires, it was easier for her to take a more philosophical, and thereby, more detached, notice of the goings on that surrounded her.
"Come on, we're going to lose her!" Makoto's furious whisper reached them all and spurred them into a slightly faster scurry along the wall.
Minako wrinkled her nose as they passed yet another heap of rotting garbage. Why did she have to take THIS route?
Sighing, Minako continued on, determined to discover the meaning behind the recent mysterious behavior.
Usagi sniffled slightly. If only Mamo-chan were here, he could tell her what was going on...
Makoto stoped abruptly and bit back a curse. Their quarry had dissappeared into the small house that lay at the corner of the next block over. Makoto let loose with a string of mental curses. Only the presence of the others prevented her from verbalizing her inner monologue.
"We have a problem."
Rei glanced at Makoto. The frown that the tall woman's features was familiar, at least from the last few months.
Makoto squared her shoulders, having come to an inner decision.
"I'll go. You wait here, I'll be right back."
"Mako-chan! I want to go!" Usagi whined. She really wished she knew why Makoto was so hell bent on finding out what was going on.
"It'd be easier if you stayed here, Usa-chan." Makoto spared a brief smile. "I'll be fine."
Usagi looked at her searchingly for a moment, a distant knowledge glowing in her eyes. As abruptly as it had appeared, it was replaced with the wide smile and innocent expression that usually graced Usagi's face.
"We'll be waiting, Mako-chan!" Usagi began to look around. "Is there anything to eat around here?"
Minako fell over.
Shaking her head, Makoto strode confidently down the street. As she grew closer to the house, she could see the small, underground garage that supported the house. She blinked as she recognized the form of one of Haruka's cars.
Makoto frowned slightly at that recognition. This wasn't Haruka and Michiru's house. They lived in Juuban, not Shinjuku. Puzzled, Makoto stepped up to the door and rang the bell.
A pleasant looking older woman answered the door. Her face, though aged, had lost no beauty to the ravages of time. She appeared to be the kind of woman for whom age only increased their appeal. This was offset by her dark hair, lightly interspersed with lighter strands. Deeply etched laugh lines instantly told Makoto that this woman had enjoyed much happiness in her time.
"Good afternoon. How may I help you?"
Makoto started slightly.
"Ah, good afternoon. I came in search of a friend of mine, I believe she stopped here. Her name is Mizuno Ami."
No change of expression betrayed the woman's knowledge.
"If you would please follow me, I shall make you request known to the owner of the house." The woman bowed and gestured for Makoto to enter.
Removing her shoes, Makoto slipped into one of the pairs of house slippers that were provided. She followed the woman silently as they passed through the high ceilinged hallway into a study just to the left of the stairway leading to the second floor.
Leaving her in the wood panelled study, the woman left, bowing deeply. Lining the western styled library walls were books of every shape and size. It seemed that Makoto could find any number of tomes to suit her fancy here.
The door opened behind her and she turned, intent on seeing who the owner was.
The tall blonde who stepped into the room with a smile was no shock. Makoto had expected Haruka to be here after seeing her car in the garage.
Makoto smiled slightly.
Haruka strode casually across the room, circling the large desk. She stared out the bay window for a moment before continuing to speak.
"It's been a while."
Haruka laughed lightly.
"I meant since we've been able to talk."
Makoto smiled slightly, remembering the discussions she and Haruka used to engage in. Those long talks that helped form her into the self confident woman she was now had been sorely missed, though she didn't realize it until now.
"It's been far too long." Makoto's soft words brought a slight smile to Haruka's lips.
"What brings you here, my friend?"
Makoto hesistated. She was loath to admit that she had been following Ami. The short woman had been an obsession for years. She was sure Haruka knew that, but to remove all doubt was something that she wasn't all too comfortable with.
"Following Ami again?"
Haruka's gentle question struck Makoto as a bodily blow. She sank into a chair, her legs refusing to support her.
"I've always known." Haruka turned to Makoto, a wry smile coloring the affectionate look she fixed on Makoto. "You never were very good at hiding your obsession."
Makoto's short laugh belied the cascade failure her brain was experiencing. If Haruka could see it, how many others had?
"Michiru always teases me about that."
Makoto blinked at the sudden change.
"Being able to spot them."
Makoto inhaled sharply. That was it. That was what she had been refusing to face.
"I...I'm not sure I know what you're talking about."
Haruka's dissappointment clouded her features momentarily.
"I'm sure you do. It takes a bit of getting used to." A sardonic smile quirked her mouth. "I should know."
Makoto stared blankly for a moment. Haruka gazed steadily back at her.
"Would you care for some tea?" Haruka's gentle tone was back to it's light, friendly nature. Makoto nodded.
As she was nodding, the same woman who had led her to this room returned with a tray of tea. Haruka smiled at the woman and thanked her softly.
As they sipped tea, Haruka contemplated Makoto. She had grown up well. A bit more character around the eyes and mouth, adding to her womanly allure. If Haruka had been a little less stereotypical in her tastes, she might have found Makoto highly attractive. A quick glance at the framed picture on her desk filled her with a flood of warmth at the thought of the lover that awaited her return.
"You're right, you know." Makoto's subdued tone easily reached Haruka. "I suppose I've always been obsessed with her."
She raised her pained gaze to her friend.
"I suppose I should get out there and forget about it, shouldn't I? Just forget it all." Makoto stared at the teacup clenched in her hands and laughed bitterly. "It's not like she likes me."
Haruka sipped at her tea, hiding a small, knowing smile.
"She's never even hinted at anything, you know? But still, I think about it. Dream about it, even. Do you know what that's like? Constantly dreaming about what you can't have, but is there next to you every single day?"
Haruka's gaze turned inward as she recalled distant memories. When she spoke, her quiet voice was contemplative.
"In the Silver Millennium, I was obsessed with Neptune. Everyday, I'd talk to her, try and get closer, hoping that day would be the one when I'd work up the nerve to tell her. Each moment I spent in her company was an exquisite agony. She was all I dreamed of, all I thought of...it nearly drove me mad. Then, just when we were about to be sent off to return home, I worked up the courage to tell her." Haruka laughed.
"What did she say?"
Haruka grinned widely at the memory.
"She said that if I had waited much longer, she would have borrowed Pluto's time key and beaten me over the head with it."
"Didn't you two get engaged just after that?" Makoto attempted to recall those long buried memories.
"Yes." Haruka smiled tenderly. "After I kissed her the first time, I couldn't foresee any sort of life without her. So I had to propose."
Haruka raised her head, zeroing her stare onto Makoto.
"In answer to your question, yes, I well know what it's like to desire your friend with every fibre of your being. To have every waking thought be of her, never knowing if this is it, if this is the day when you slip and let spill all the dreams, all the desires you've kept close to your heart."
"When did you and Michiru get together in this life, anyway? I've always wondered that."
Haruka smiled tenderly.
"Do you remember after Usagi defeated Mistress 9 and Saturn was reborn as Hotaru?" Makoto nodded. That summer that they had spent away was an interminable one. "That's when."
Makoto raised her eyebrow at that.
"I always thought you would have told her right after you both nearly died in the Marine Cathedral!"
Haruka smiled sadly.
"What can I say, I'm an idiot."
"What? You said it!"
"That doesn't mean you have to agree so readily!"
Makoto rolled her eyes.
"Did you want to see her?" Haruka's low question nearly caused Makoto to spill her tea.
"Ami? She's really here?"
"Yes. I can fetch her if you'd like."
Makoto's throat closed in fear. She seemed to have suddenly been paralyzed.
Seeing the abject fear in Makoto's eyes, Haruka opened a desk drawer and withdrew a small card.
"Very well...how about an exclusive membership, then?"
"Membership? To what?"
Haruka slid the card across the desk.
In few kanji it said merely "Sekhmet no Kissaten". Sekhmet's Teahouse. Makoto stared at the simple card for a long moment before returning her gaze to Haruka.
"Sekhmet no Kissaten?"
"Sekhmet is an ancient goddess, a form of the goddess Isis, or alternately, of Hathor. Also she is often spoken of around Bast." Haruka raised an eyebrow. "They all had a strong...alternate following."
"So you mean...I can..."
"Pretty much anytime. Rarely do we have less than a half dozen members here. It's international, so you might even get to practice your English." Haruka winked.
"If you see someone you like, feel free to talk to them. Everyone is here for the same reason you are. They have the same desires, though their tastes might be...slightly different. There are rooms upstairs for those who either can't wait or have no where else to go." Haruka's mellow posture straightened slightly as she leaned forward with an intense gaze.
"I'm sure you don't need to be reminded that what goes on in here, stays here."
Makoto nodded, a wry smile crossing her features.
"Discretion. Such a hard thing to find."
Haruka allowed a brief smile to twitch into life.
"Indeed. Some of these people are paying dearly for that discretion."
Makoto raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
"Let's just say enough to keep all of us comfortably anywhere we chose."
Makoto nodded, slowly, understanding beginning to permeate. She had not expected this.
"The others are outside." Makoto stood. "I should tell them that all is well."
Haruka rose from her chair.
"Of course. With that card, you have free admission to this house at any time. You've met Akiko...she is the general housekeeper during the afternoon and into the evening. There is also Junko and Hanako. All will recognize the card and show you in immediately."
"If you wouldn't mind, Haruka...I think I would prefer my first time to be with you." Haruka raised an eyebrow. "I mean, my first tour. If you give me a moment to send the others on their way, I'll be right back and we can continue catching up, if you have the time." Makoto's hopeful expression brought an affectionate grin to Haruka's face.
"But of course. Michiru has been wondering where you've been. I'll make sure to have Akiko show you to the proper room when you return. Are you hungry?"
"Excellent. We just got in a shipment of some nice beef steaks this morning."
Makoto's eyes widened. They must indeed be getting quite a lot if they could afford steaks. Most places stuck with the usual fish dishes.
"I shall return as quickly as I can." With one last tremulous smile, Makoto left the house.
As she exited to the sharp tang of the early evening air, Makoto inhaled deeply. This was going to be interesting, to say the least.
"Mako-chan! What's going on!"
Makoto smiled as she saw Usagi and Minako hunched over, trying their hardest not to be spotted in the alleyway. Rei stood behind them, rolling her eyes.
"Well, there's nothing to worry about. It's just some friends of Ami's that she's visiting." Makoto hoped sincerely that they would believe the lie.
"Why has she been so wierd?" Minako nearly tripped on Usagi's foot as she asked.
"I'm going to try and see if I can find out. It might take some time, so you all might as well go home. I'll make sure and keep you updated." She gave them her best reassuring smile.
Rei perked up, her penetrating stare biting into Makoto.
"If you're sure you can handle it..."
"You're doubting my ability?" Makoto allowed her disbelief to color her tone.
"No, just your dedication." Rei watched her carefully, intent on any sign of what was really going on.
"I assure you, my dedication is above reproach." Makoto narrowed her eyes as she continued to stare at Rei. What was she up to?
Satisfied with what she saw, Rei smiled and tugged on Usagi's arm.
"Come on, you idiot, if we hurry you can still make it home in time to change before your date."
"Ahh! Mamo-chan!" Usagi clung to Rei's neck as she was reminded of the man she loved.
Pulling Minako along with her, Rei waved a quick goodbye to Makoto before the trio dissappeared into the squalid alley.
Letting out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding, Makoto turned back to the house that currently held her love.
"Ahh! Kino-san! So pleased you could rejoin us." Akiko greeted her once more, with a warmer smile. Apparently, Haruka had filled her in as to the situation. "If you would please follow me, Tenou-san has instructed that you are to dine with her and Kaiou-san tonight."
Makoto smiled. She had truly missed her favorite couple. As she followed Akiko through the house to a back room just behind the stairway, she mused over the vagaries of life.
It hadn't been that long ago that she had been the most feared and talked about girl in all the schools she attented. Until that fateful day she met the short long haired girl who would introduce her to a love whose name she dared not speak.
As she entered the room, she was struck with the welcoming atmosphere. Low lights hung in red wall sconces, strategically highlighting certain areas of the room.
Along both walls, deep booths were lined, with soft looking leather seats. In the middle of the room was an assortment of tables and chairs. At the far end of the room, there was a spot cleared for a dance floor. Just to her right was the bar, behind which an attractive young woman in a tuxedo mixed a cocktail.
All eyes turned to the new blood that entered. Makoto suddenly wished she had worn something other than the same tired style she usually wore; knee length skirt, loose blouse, and hair tied back.
Shrugging off her vain thought, she thanked Akiko and made her way to the first booth on the left, where she saw Haruka and Michiru sitting, smiling widely.
"Hello. I'm glad to see you could join us." Michiru's demure smile warmed Makoto's heart as she walked up to the booth.
"Makoto?" The shocked voice was too familiar. Too dear. Too close.
Makoto turned her head from Haruka and Michiru to see that next to her would be sitting Ami, the woman about whom she had just spent a good deal of time discussing in a less than chaste manner.
"Ami...I, uh, didn't know you'd be here." Unabashedly lame, but the best her reeling mind could produce as she slid into the bench seat. She could sense Ami's presence next to her as she fixed her stare on the tabletop.
"Does that mean if you had known, you would be elsewhere? And what are you doing here, anyway?"
Haruka laughed lightly.
"I would have thought by her mere appearance here, your second question would answer itself."
Makoto felt more than saw the furious blush that overtook Ami's face.
"That still leaves the first one."
"I, ah, followed you."
She could feel Ami's stare boring into her skull.
"Ahh! Thank you, this is perfect!" Haruka's exclamation was quickly explained as plates of food slid before Makoto's eyes. Large steaks took up half the plates. The other half was covered with steamed vegetables and what looked to be cheese mashed potatos. As a chef, Makoto was pleasantly surprised by the taste of mashed potatos as she dug into them. They had a lingering taste that brought out a smile.
Conversation ceased for a few moments as they ate. The steak was a tender cut, flavorful and rich. The vegetables had a slight, pleasant crunch that complemented the softness of the mashed potatos and the inherently slightly chewy nature of the steak.
They were halfway through their meal when Ami spoke again. As she had been taking bites of the deliciously well prepared food, Makoto couldn't help but steal glances at the beauty beside her. These did not go unnoticed by those who sat across from them, and neither did the return glances shot over by the shorter woman.
"Why did you follow me?"
Makoto ducked her head slightly, staring intently at the food on her plate. She speared another broccoli sprout to prevent her from answering just yet. As she chewed, she thought frantically.
"Well, we had all been worried about you. You've been acting...off, for a while. So I volunteered to find out why." Enough of the truth to get her off the hook, and not enough for her to figure out how much she was loved.
That was when it struck Makoto. Ami was a lesbian, every bit as much as she herself was. Makoto raised her suddenly intense stare to Haruka and Michiru, who watched the proceedings with great interest.
"You both knew." Makoto's tone lack accusation. It was merely a statement of fact.
"It wasn't that hard." Michiru demurred.
"You didn't see fit to tell me when I was pouring my heart out to you?" Makoto pinned a stern glare on Haruka, who shifted uncomfortably.
"Well...I didn't really think it was my place."
"But it was your place to engineer this little coming out for us?"
"What can I say, I've always wanted to be a matchmaker."
Makoto eyed Haruka critically.
"Nope, the grandmother look just isn't you."
Makoto turned her head to look at Ami. For her part, Ami just stared at Haruka and Michiru. It took a moment before she realized that Makoto was looking at her.
"After we finish here...would you care to dance with me?"
Ami's eyes widened slightly as the question registered. She nodded slightly and returned to eating, a slight blush coloring her features.
Makoto stifled a grin and scooped another forkful of mashed potatos.
This was definitely a great idea. She would have to thank Haruka and Michiru later.
Stealing a quick glance at Ami, Makoto saw that the shorter woman was glancing back at her, her cheeks tinged with a slight redness.
Oh, yes. Much later.
Back | Main Page
Site design and layout by Taka Tenou.