"How would you like a job?" Ryouko had asked Kiyone with a smile.
The former Galaxy Police officer gaped at Ryouko in honest surprise. Not just startled to see her, but that the Empress of Manticore would even venture into a dive like this one. "What kind of job?" she managed to ask.
"I could use a captain. I lost a lot of good people against Kagato," Ryouko said seriously. "And you certainly demonstrated your caliber during that battle," she added.
"I won't reveal GP secrets to you," Kiyone said bluntly.
Ryouko just smiled at that. "I wouldn't expect you to," she answered.
Kiyone met Ryouko's eyes, looking for any signs of deception. She didn't find any. "All right," she smiled, "I'll do it."
Kiyone was jerked out of her thoughts by someone calling her out name. She turned, and saw Minagi running up the hall towards her. "Hey, Minagi," Kiyone smiled at her. "What's the good word?" she asked.
Minagi smiled, "You've heard about Ryouko and Ayeka, right?"
"The proposal's been accepted, then?" Kiyone asked. At Minagi's eager nod she laughed softly, "About time! Maybe now Ryouko can get her mind back on the job."
"I wouldn't bet on it," Minagi chuckled. "I need your help with something," she started, then she trailed off.
"What?" Kiyone asked.
"Could you help me get the bachelor party organized?" Minagi asked. At Kiyone's odd look, "Washu's insisted on it."
Kiyone shook her head. "Well, I guess we're better than letting Washu set up the party," she admitted quietly. She looked over at Minagi, "Any ideas?"
Minagi grinned evilly, and her resemblance to Ryouko was even more pronounced.
Ayeka lay back on her bed, a contented little smile on her face. Lunch with Ryouko was enjoyable, the conversation lively. Another sigh, as she thought, 'And Ryouko is both charming and gallant, too.'
"Myah!" she heard, and looked down to see Ryo-ohki sitting at her feet.
Ayeka reached down and gently picked her up, cuddling close. "Hello, Ryo-ohki," she smiled. The door chimed, and she called out, "Enter!"
Washu smiled at her, an almost elfish looking woman standing at her side. "Can we come in?" she asked.
"Certainly," Ayeka smiled, looking curiously at the other woman. The way they stood spoke of some deep intimacy between them. 'Are they lovers?' she found herself wondering.
"Princess Ayeka," Washu smiled, "I'd like you to meet my lover, Yume."
Yume smiled, extending her hand, "I guess that makes me Ryouko's step- mother." She made a cute face, "There are worse fates," she paused, looked thoughtful, "but right now I can't think of a single one of them."
Ayeka had to muffle a laugh at that.
Washu smiled slightly. A bit more seriously, "After talking it over with your Mothers, we settled on a simple exchanging of vows for the wedding. Would that be all right?"
"I'm a bit relieved, honestly," Ayeka smiled. "I did some research, and was preparing myself for the possibility of you deciding on the Manticore customs," she admitted.
"The nude ceremony?" Yume chuckled. She gave a sideways glance to Washu, "I understand that it was suggested.
Washu whistled, trying to look innocent.
"Myah," Ryo-ohki said in a scolding tone.
Ayeka tried to keep her expression suitably grave, but finally she just had to laugh.
"See you at the bachlorette party," Washu grinned, leading Yume out of the room.
"Bachlorette party?" Ayeka echoed, surprised.
Ryouko looked out a viewport, out into the darkness of the void. She heard footsteps growing nearer, and had to throttle back her temper. "I thought I had given orders not to be disturbed," she said, her voice a low growl.
"I think the nice young man guarding the entrance was a bit too afraid to try and interfere with your future mothers-in-law," the voice said cheerfully.
Ryouko turned quickly, seeing a beaming Misaki and somewhat more serious looking Funaho walking up the hall towards her. Ryouko nodded her head with a smile, "I'd probably be too, in his shoes."
"Washu sent us," Funaho said gravely. "We decided on a simple exchanging of vows for the wedding ceremony, if you have no objections," she smiled slightly.
Ryouko blew her breath out in obvious relief. "I was worried I was going to have to try talking Ayeka into the nude ceremony," she confessed.
Misaki smiled suddenly, "We could change the plan if you like."
"Please, no," Ryouko smiled, waving her hands.
Funaho and Misaki joined her by the viewport, and Ryouko took the opportunity to take a look at them covertly. The blue haired Misaki was obviously Sasami's mother, a cheerful, almost genki presence. But there was intelligence in those eyes, no matter her foolish behavior.
"The stars are so beautiful, aren't they?" Misaki said cheerfully. Ryouko felt a bit startled, having only seen the darkness, not the lights shining out there.
Ayeka's mother Funaho was a bit more enigmatic. She stood with formal dignity looking out into the void, but the purple hared woman has steel in her despite her manners. Like Ayeka, she reminded Ryouko of a sword shining in the darkness.
"You're in love with her, aren't you?" Funaho surprised Ryouko by asking.
"Yes," Ryouko admitted, and was suddenly hit with a flying hug!
"I'm so happy!" Misaki squealed, hugging Ryouko in a death grip. Ryouko wiggled and struggled free, gasping for breath.
Funaho watched, eyes twinkling, hiding her smile behind her hand. "I think once Ayeka gets used to the idea, she'll be all right," she smiled at Ryouko. She reached over to take the beaming Misaki's hand, "She's known about us for years."
"Oh, really?" Ryouko raised her eyebrow.
Misaki blushed charmingly, "Ayeka walked in on us, when the Emperor was away."
Funaho blushed as well, and Ryouko had to fight a smile.
Sasami smiled, seeing Minagi and Kiyone walking in. She jumped up and waved, and both young women came over to where she was sitting. "Hello, Sasami," Minagi smiled.
Kiyone pushed her hair out of her eyes as she asked, "Have I thanked you yet, for taking over the ship's kitchen?"
Sasami blushed sweetly, "Consider me thanked."
"Kiyone!" Mihoshi cried, running across the dining hall.
"wait for it... wait for it... " Minagi whispered softly.
Trip! Mihoshi fell face first to the deck, sat back up, and cried, "Whaa!"
Kiyone rushed to her side, "Are you all right?"
Mihoshi rubbed her head, sniffling softly. "I'm sorry, Kiyone," she whimpered.
Kiyone helped her up, holding her protectively close.
"Let's leave them alone, shall we?" Minagi suggested to Sasami.
The little girl nodded, making a face. As they were walking away, she asked Minagi softly, "Does everyone on this ship have somebody?"
Minagi looked at Sasami in a bit of surprise. "But I thought that you and Asashi were..." she started to say.
"No," Sasami shook her head, "we're just friends."
"I went looking for you to ask, would you like to help with your sister's bachlorette party?" Minagi asked her.
Sasami looked a bit surprised, "Me?"
"We could really use your help," Minagi smiled, looking down at her.
A little blush appeared on her cheeks, and Sasami said, "Sure, I'd be glad to."
"Good," Minagi flung her hair back with a grin as she confided, "because I have almost no idea what I'm doing."
Sasami laughed, "I'll handle the cooking, too." She looked at Minagi curiously, "I guess I should cook for Ryouko's party, too?"
"Please!" Minagi laughed. She looked thoughtful, "Could you ask Asashi to make a few dishes, though? Ryouko does have a fondness for spice."
Sasami smiled, "Then I'm glad she's with Ayeka. My sister has a temper."
Minagi grinned, "That's not what I meant!"
They both laughed.
Nimitz glared at the closed bedroom door. Honor and Michelle had been in there for a few hours, now, leaving him out here, all alone. The treecat felt a presence, and turned to see Ryo-ohki slipping through the bulkhead.
"Bleek!" Nimitz complained.
"Myah," Ryo-ohki said sympathetically.
"Bleek?" Nimitz asked.
"Myah, myah," Ryo-ohki shrugged helplessly. With that, she turned and bounced back out into the hallway.
Nimitz turned back to glare at the closed doorway