Stained Red
Written by Vicky
Esmeraude hated charity events. They were pointless and benefited in nothing, and when Demand asked her to go in his steed to this event, Esmeraude was displeased and she knew that he knew it. Knowing better than to upset her Prince, Esmeraude had put on one of her finest dresses and gave him the benefit of the doubt that he would make up for it later.
 
Hopefully.
 
It wasn't appropriate to have a lady go to an event alone, especially when one was expecting to dance, preferably with her Prince. Esmeraude knew that Mugen Gakuen was a hotspot for suspicious activity to the Black Moon, and they'd made sure to increase their droid activity within the outdoor vicinity. So, taking the opportunity to go into the building without suspicion was more than beneficial to the Black Moon, especially when Esmeraude was known as the Prince's own (un)official bodyguard.
 
As the night was still young and after Esmeraude had arrived, the commander had spent much of her time avoiding the press and engaging in conversation with Professor Tomoe Souichi, much to her dismay. As intelligent as the man was, he was boring Esmeraude and it showed on her features and her retorts.
 
"I'm going to get some wine." Esmeraude dryly declared mid-conversation, dismissing herself as she backed away and approached a waiter with her demands. Being known as Demand's 'bodyguard' had its perks, and the waiter had quickly returned with her drink.

This is a task for Saphir, not me!
 
Having no desire to return to converse with the Professor, Esmeraude had decided to return to her table and order her meal instead as they waited for the events to start. The green haired beauty hadn't expected to trip over and fall on someone's foot with her glass in hand, the liquid splashing onto someone's attire as the other person's own drink had splashed on her own.
 
"You idiot! Don't you know to clear the way?!"  Esmeraude rasped at the culprit when she fell as they begged for mercy and apologized, quickly coming to her assistance as well as well as asking how the other had been. Unlike her clan, Esmeraude wasn't the sort to hide her crescent in public. She preferred to make it known who she was, especially for reasons like this.
 
It took every bit of Esmeraude's patience not to cause a scene and kill them, but when her fists clutched it clearly showed her true desires. She shoved them out of her way as she tried to get up from the ground, only to stumble just a little as she got up.
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Written by Eli
Every time Haruka turned away in an attempt to catch her breath or take a moment to herself, she was immediately bombarded with another person (or three or four) looking for conversation. She'd known before the evening had started that it was going to be a busy night. It was one of the 'perks' awarded to those classified as part of Sankakusu's wealthy, it seemed. A personally addressed invitation to a charity event held by none other than Tomoe Souichi himself. Fancy dinners and galas, all under the pretense of raising money for school programs and other projects for the students.

Haruka had little doubt as to where the money was actually going. Given how expensive tuition was on its own, she was doubtful that the school was terribly strapped for cash when it came to their extracurriculars.

But hell, if she was going to throw money away anywhere, this would be the place to do it. She didn't entirely approve of the Resistance. Above all, it was herself and the other Outer Senshi whose jobs it was to take care of this mess. This wasn't a battle that the civilians should be involved in, and she was hardly looking to enable them with more equipment that could get themselves killed faster. Ultimately, however, between offering her support to the Resistance or the Black Moon – there really was no contest.

This was an official Black Moon event, and it was the only gala so far that she'd been to that she knew exactly where any donations would end up – and it wasn't in the hands of the invaders.

Not for the most part, anyway.

So, she'd pulled out one of her more formal black dress suits, complete with a dark vest and white button-up, and headed out to the garage. The task ahead of her had still been daunting, but given the location's distance from her apartment, it was close enough that she wasn't too uncomfortable with the idea of arriving by herself.

It hadn't entirely worked out that way, but the beginning of the night had passed without too much struggle.

By this point, Haruka knew she was only going to get more sick of people if she wasn't able to take a damn break. The moment she was able to politely tear herself away from an actor (that had been comparing a movie he'd been in about racing to the actual thing, and no they were not the same, dammit) she took the chance and headed straight towards her table.

How she'd managed to get all the way back without running into anyone else looking to accost her, Haruka didn't know, but when she finally got to her seat it was with a distinct sigh of relief. Now, at least, she had a few free moments to collect herself.

Or so she thought.

Until not five minutes later there was the decided sound of a crash coming from Haruka's right, and before she even had a chance to turn her head to take a look, there was a distinctly cold, wet, and sticky feeling running down the sleeve of her blazer and the side of her trousers.

Haruka jumped up with a start, instinctively moving away from the direction that the spill had come from in order to save what she could of her clothing. She turned around to get an assessment of what had happened...

To be greeted immediately with the sight of long-green hair and a very, very familiar voice chastising another individual behind her.

Haruka stilled. Someone tell her that she did not, in fact, happen to end up with the worst luck in the entire damn galaxy.

The universe loved screwing her over way too much.

Shit.

The other individual – the culprit, Haruka imagined, considering how pale he looked and how badly he was shaking at this point – was primarily fretting with the disastrous mistake he'd just committed with the other woman. He'd turned to her for a moment to assess her state as well, but Haruka quickly brushed him off.

She was fine. This however, decidedly was not. Haruka could feel her chest seize in momentary panic, and she wasn't even whom the other woman's anger was directed at.

Esmeraude radiated clear, murderous intent. If the racer stepped in the way now, she'd only be putting herself in the path of that rage and that was the last thing she'd intended to do. For a moment, Haruka almost thought the other man might actually be able to walk away with his life in tact.

Until Esmeraude slipped.

Haruka rushed into movement before she could stop herself. If the other woman had barely let him get off with the first mistake, this guy was dead if she hit the floor again. Haruka grasped the other woman's hand in her own before Esmeraude had the chance to make another tumble, and assisted in helping her stand up the rest of the way.

The moment Haruka was certain that the Black Moon leader had regained her footing, she let go and took a step back. Her heart was pounding so rapidly she almost thought it would beat out of her chest. She'd moved on instinct, it had seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Now the blonde was praying that she'd taken the right course of action. Her side was still damp from the spill, but from what she'd noticed previous that was the only place she'd gotten stained. There was no way for her to make the other woman's outfit any dirtier than the wine already had, right?

Haruka gave the other woman a slight bow.

“My apologies for touching you so casually, Esmeraude-sama.” Haruka flashed one of her most charming smiles, betraying all of the anger and disgust pooling in her stomach. This wasn't the first time she'd been in the presence of high ranking members from the Black Moon, but every time she had to speak with one of them it left her feeling like she needed to wash her mouth out with soap.

They didn't deserve any respect from anyone. Let alone her. They destroyed her life.

Not a single shred of evidence showed on her face. Haruka straightened back up, voice perfectly concerned.

“Are you alright?”
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Written by Vicky
"Gomen nasai, Green Esmeraude-sama!!" The culprit apologized, bowing low in a desperate attempt to receive Esmeraude's mercy. But, on the contrary, his repeated apologetic attempts only infuriated Esmeraude more. He was making a scene, and although Esmeraude knew that there were anti-White Moon among the crowd, if he was cowering in fear this man was surely not.
 
The Black Moon did not tolerate weakness, and this man was weak. In Esmeraude's perspective a true follower of the Black Moon would never act weak to their commanders, and Esmeraude was highly-ranked. It was disgraceful!
 
Esmeraude's brown hues flickered with energy as she gazed at him with a glare of death, she hadn't even registered that someone was moving to help her and prevent yet another fall until she was touched by masculine hands. Whoever it was, they saved the culprit's life for now as Esmeraude redirected her precious attention to them.
 
Oh my.
 
Esmeraude's demeanor changed rapidly. She was calm despite the circumstances.
 
"Well, well," Esmeraude began her praise as she lifted herself. There was something about him that interested the green haired beauty, her brown hues clearly showed pure curiosity as she tried to figure out her savior. "Aren't you brave. I don't normally exchange my gratitude, I'm fine. Perhaps this imbecile should learn a thing or two from you. Your name?"
 
That's when she saw it—the red stain on his clothes and her own. The night was still young, and it was inappropriate to continue the night with dirty clothes.
 
"Walk with me." She said, and although her words could easily be perceived as a request, it was a demand.
 
"And someone clean this mess. Get this fool out of here! I want him gone from my presence!"
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Written by Eli
Just like that, every eye in the room seemed to be on them. Haruka didn't know if that was actually the case, the mess had certainly caused a scene, but she also wasn't about to risk breaking eye contact to glance around and verify either. Right now she just needed to focus on the task at hand, and that was getting out of this encounter alive.

The man's life was spared, but now she'd ended up in the line of fire because of it.

Despite the anger simmering from Esmeraude not a moment prior, the moment Haruka locked eye contact with her all hostility seemed to fade. She could hear her heartbeat pounding in her skull, panic starting to rise to the surface.The sudden change was as jarring as it was unexpected. Haruka wasn't ungrateful for not being an outlet for the other woman's rage – she just didn't understand why.

...That didn't actually work, did it?

“Tenoh Haruka,” she replied on instinct, mind not quite processing what exactly just happened here. So long as she hadn't made the wrong move, she supposed that was all that mattered. “It's a pleasure to formally meet you.”

And she was back to lying through her teeth.

Now that that was done and over with, Haruka was well and ready to find any excuse she could to get out of there. She'd intended to provide the other woman with her introduction and then slip away as casually as possible, desperately hoping she hadnt drawn too much attention to herself.

She'd never be so lucky. Esmeraude took one glance between the two of them and had another idea. Haruka wasn't stupid enough to try and object, she was not trying to put herself in the quivering man's position.

Her gambit had paid off, at least. But it was another reminder that she shouldn't have gotten herself in that position to begin with. Haruka knew her mission and had resolved to see it through at any cost. Michiru would never forgive her if she did something so stupid and got herself killed. Haruka would never forgive herself.

Damn her instincts.

After a beat, she followed Esmeraude out of the dining hall without hesitation.

If nothing else, it was a relief to get away from the prying eyes of everyone else in the room. On the other hand, Haruka noted as they proceeded into the hallway, it now meant that she was alone with one of the highest ranked members of the Black Moon.

Not good. Not good at all. Haruka could only hope that none of her nerves had begun to seep into her voice. This wasn't the first time she'd had to act, but each time she did it only left her feeling more exposed.

“May I ask where we're going?”

She wasn't asking because she was concerned. Far from it. Some form of conversation seemed necessary to prevent the air from growing cold and really that was the only thing that Haruka could think to say. The racer wasn't even the best at conversing with the people she did like.

This situation was just torture.
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Written by Vicky
Tenoh….Haruka?
 
The name screamed familiarity to Esmeraude, and that was a very rare occurrence. Esmeraude hadn't cared much to take note of most civilians she'd encountered especially when they've made it clear that they weren't engaged in the cause.
 
Tenoh, on the other hand, was someone she'd encountered before with Prince Demand. She was uninterested then, but she sure was interested now.
 
"You're the one with Kaioh," Esmeraude replied nonchalantly. "That violinist. Aren't you?"
 
Esmeraude was fully aware of who Kaioh Michiru was, there was no not knowing her. Not when most in the Black Moon had taken interest in the woman's music and the Prince and Saphir had private performances. As Esmeraude had frequently been a companion of Prince Demand, she had attended many of her concerts. There was something peculiar about Kaioh that she couldn't quite place.
 
Straightening her posture, Esmeraude watched from the corner of her eye as the culprit scurried away while he had the opportunity. She chuckled lowly, a smirk formed on her features. Waiters were already scrambling to clean up the mess. The green haired beauty carried herself as if nothing had transpired, even ignoring the mess and cleanup crew. Tenoh had fully grabbed her attention.
 
"Restroom." Esmeraude replied, fully expecting Tenoh to follow. "Do you expect to continue the night looking like that?"
 
It was easy for Esmeraude to summon a droid to get her a new dress, and if Tenoh had desired, she was certain that there had to be a spare suit available. But that was as far as her gratitude would extend.
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Written by Eli
“That's correct,” Haruka nodded in response to Esmeraude's statement, but felt no need to draw that line of conversation out any further. If the other woman was intent on asking details about Michiru, she wasn't going to be able to stop her. However, that didn't mean Haruka was about to give her any information.

Restroom, right. That made sense. Haruka felt a bit silly for thinking they may have been headed somewhere else, considering there really was no other logical place for them to go. Of course they should go make themselves presentable.

It wasn't exactly going to be that easy, though. One look down and Haruka knew that her suit was a lost cause, the same thing could likely be said of Esmeraude's dress. While the stain showed clearly on her button-up, buttoning the jacket still made her look relatively presentable. Uncomfortable as hell, slightly unproffessional, and decidedly not what she'd prefer, but Haruka could bear through it. Surely the other woman knew that?

Should she feel grateful for the offer or suspicious of Esmeraude's motives?

Logically, Haruka knew that it was nonsensical to assume that the entire scene she'd just been a part of was some elaborate ploy set up to figure out her true identity. The Black Moon was under the impression that Uranus was dead the last she'd heard, so she should still be operating under their radar. Yet the paranoia lingered in the back of her mind like a constant warning.

After all, members of the Black Moon weren't nice. Still, it was illogical to assume that she was walking directly into a trap based on that alone.

None of this made any sense. The line of thought was throwing Haruka's mind into a jumbled mess. She needed to calm down and focus, but the further they drew away from the crowd the worse her anxiety became. Haruka was all alone here. Her partner had remained out of her sight for the majority of the evening. Not that Michiru's help was necessary, but –

There was something to be said for an additional layer of comfort.

If she messed up now, the consequences could be devastating.

No pressure.

“I suppose that wouldn't be proper, would it,” Haruka remarked with wry amusement though internally, she could feel the vestiges of panic start to stir in her stomach. What was Esmeraude planning? Surely she wasn't expecting Haruka to take her clothes off, right? She didn't have any extra suits. Haruka was sure she could run back to Tenoh Tower in decent time to get changed if need be, she was simply reluctant to.

Not only was it nearing the later part of the evening, but that would mean leaving Michiru on her own. The younger woman could handle herself with the Black Moon just fine, Haruka knew. Something in the air tonight just felt different.

A storm was brewing.

“I'm afraid I don't have anything else to change in to, though. You wouldn't happen to have a secret trick to getting wine stains out of fabric, would you?” The question was sprinkled with an edge amusement, a light attempt at humour. Esmeraude's reaction would determine what steps she took from there.
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Written by Vicky
"I suppose a meeting between the two of us was inevitable, no?" Esmeraude smirked and placed an index finger against her cheek.
 
"There are many commanders who are fond of Kaioh; it's quite unfortunate that you two are merely associates. Kaioh's brave to continue performing for us with that status. What made her perform tonight?"  She remarked nonchalantly as she continued to lead Tenoh to the restrooms. Just how long was that status going to last? It was rare for the Black Moon to allow such, but Kaioh was a favorite among many that she wondered how come she hadn't been recruited. Or had she?
 
Two staff members opened the door of the auditorium and allowed Esmeraude and Tenoh through. Now that all of the guests were presumed to have arrived, security was tight as the Black Moon were in attendance along with many celebrities, politicians and wealthy. No one else was permitted to enter Mugen Gakuen, let alone the auditorium without proof of invitation.
 
Esmeraude was no stranger to Mugen Gakuen and she was capable of navigating the building without escort. But she wasn't going to stay in a public area for what she had in mind—they needed to be in private.
 
Once they arrived at the restrooms Esmeraude stuck up her index finger in a 'one moment' gesture. She wasn't ready to let Tenoh depart into the restrooms yet. Even she was aware of how difficult it was to remove stains from clothes, and she wasn't going to continue the night wearing this. But unlike many other women in the Black Moon, Esmeraude was quite content using her subordinates as servants.
 
"A woman is always prepared for these situations." Esmeraude replied simply. She knew that if she went into any more detail that it might have frightened Tenoh away, as it had normally to most humans. But Tenoh wasn't like the majority that she'd met.
 
Esmeraude raised her right hand into the air in a summoning gesture and she shouted, "Chiral! Achiral!" and a blue mist began to form as her subordinates arrived.
 
"My servants will fetch you a new shirt." Esmeraude informed Tenoh. It was rare for the green haired beauty to offer such a service to a human. Fortunately for Tenoh, Esmeraude was already fond of him. He carried himself in a way that was worthy of her gratitude.
 
"What is your size?"
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Written by Eli
Haruka flashed the other woman a charming smile, ignoring the way the comment left her stomach rolling.

The way Esmeraude said the words certainly gave Haruka the impression that she didn't consider herself to be among that group of commanders. Still, the blonde said nothing. Just like she didn't want to give fate any thought. Had it been before the war, Haruka would have said that was impossible. There's no way Esmeraude's statement could be correct – this couldn't be what fate had in store for her, not a horrible, panic-enduced encounter such as this one.

She knew now that wasn't the case. Haruka couldn't argue on behalf of fate. For all she knew, Esmeraude was right. This meeting was fate, or destiny, or whatever they wanted to embellish it as.

No one had ever claimed any of those forces were kind. It took plenty of time for her to realise why that was the case, and even more so to accept it. Even bitterly.

As the leader of the Outer Senshi, all it appeared was that her destiny was to fail. Time and time again.

“Michiru has always jumped at the chance to put on a public performance, especially with such important individuals as her audience. I can't imagine she even spent more than a moment considering the offer.”

She had, actually, and Haruka knew that. But it wasn't a question of whether or not her partner would accept. There had been no doubt that Michiru would be performing at the event after the offer had come up; it was unquestionable, nevermind who had requested her presence there to begin with.

It was a matter of safety. How wise it would be to cordon themselves off in a school building filled not only with innocent bystanders, but high-ranking members of the Black Moon and Resistance as well? Haruka's knee-jerk reaction was to object to the idea, but she quickly squashed it down. Their preferences didn't matter here. Both her and her partner had received an invitation.

The only thing more foolish than attending would be if they didn't.

The two stopped in front of the restrooms, and it was only that fact that allowed the tall blonde a spare moment of solace. She wasn't going to be expected to change in front of the other woman. She wasn't going to be expected to change anywhere publically at all. Logically, Haruka knew that only made sense. Yet the panic still muddling her senses hadn't given her a moment to properly think it through. Esmeraude hadn't exactly given much of any explanation before demanding to be followed, after all. Nor would she put it past any of the Black Moon to make such an unreasonable request.

Haruka knew she hadn't been able to keep the surprise off of her features as the two men appeared. She hadn't known what she'd been expecting the other woman to do, but summoning the two men – Black Moon, undoubtedly, and Haruka had to force to keep her face neutral – hadn't been it. She didn't let it get to her. She couldn't. If her mask cracked even slightly, the whole facade would come crumbling down.

Surprise slowly morphed  into subtle amusement. Haruka's hands slid into her pockets and she lounged back, the picture of comfort. She felt anything but.

Whatever she needed to do to make this form of torture go any more quickly, she'd take it.

“2L - if you're certain. I'm honoured by your offer, Esmeraude-sama.”

Perturbed. Concerned. Wary. All of those words spoke more truth than the one Haruka had uttered.

Honoured; don't make her laugh.

[Show] OOC Comment
Japanese labeling for shirt-sizes courtesy of google. Any potential inaccuracies in regards to Japanese labeling for shirt-sizes also courtesy of google.
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