As the others finished up the final party preparations, Rei stood in the middle of the Outers’ living room, clipboard in hand as she checked things off the “To-Do” list she had written. She had been placed in charge of overseeing the proceedings, since she had the most experience in putting events together, from shrine festivals at Hikawa to school culture days.
“Streamers? Check. Tablecloth? Check. Paper cups and plates? Double check. Usagi, how are those balloons coming along?”
An out-of-breath Usagi glared at Rei as if she wanted to kill her. “Why do I have to be the one to blow up all the balloons?” she whined.
“Simple -- because you’re full of hot air,” Rei said, to which Usagi responded by childishly sticking out her tongue. “Now, are you almost done? We don‘t have much time left before she arrives home from the observatory.”
“Just a couple more to go.”
“Good. How about music? Minako, did you bring the CDs like I asked you?”
“Sure did, boss!” Minako replied, holding up two jewel cases. “Which one should I put in first? Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga?”
“LADY GAGA!” was the unanimous response from everyone present.
“Okay, so music is taken care of,” Rei muttered to herself, checking that off the list. “Haruka’s gone to buy some sodas and ice, and Michiru and Ami have already prepared the snacks. That just leaves the cake.”
Rei went to the kitchen, where Makoto had just finished icing a yummy-looking German chocolate cake, baked into the shape of Pluto’s Time Staff. “Wow, that looks amazing, Makoto!” she said. “Setsuna is going to love it.”
Makoto beamed. “I hope so,” she said, washing her hands. “It was a tough shape to pull off, but I think it turned out rather well. All it needs now is some candles.” She paused and glanced over at Rei. “How old is Setsuna, anyway?”
“Huh.” Looking down at her list, Rei scratched the back of her neck. That was the one thing she forgot to find out. “Early twenties?”
Makoto frowned. “That’s not very exact, Rei.”
“Well, it’s not like you know, either.”
“Know what?” Haruka asked, entering the kitchen with a bag of ice and a two large bottles of cola in her hands.
While Rei checked those two things off the list, Makoto pointed to the cake. “How many candles should we put on Setsuna’s cake?”
Haruka shrugged after placing the ice in the freezer. “Beats me. I dunno.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? You live with her.”
“Yeah, we’ve learned it’s best not to ask Setsuna how old she is,” the blonde replied. “It’s apparently a sore subject for her.”
“Gee, Haruka, you could have told us that before we planned to throw her a big surprise birthday bash,” Rei deadpanned.
“Oh, it’s not like she hates her birthday or anything like that. She enjoys getting presents and eating cake and all that. She just won’t admit how old she is. Every time you ask her, you’ll get a different answer. I don’t think even Setsuna knows how old she is anymore, to be honest.”
“So what am I supposed to do about the candles?” Makoto asked with a sigh.
“One?” Rei suggested at the same time Haruka said, “A thousand!”
Makoto looked from Rei to Haruka, considering both of their replies, before snatching a single candle from the pile next to the cake and sticking it in the center of the Garnet Orb.
“One candle it is!”
DISCLAIMER: Sailor Moon is the property of Naoko Takeuchi.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Any comments or criticisms can be sent to me at ElysionDream@aol.com. First place winner of the “Birthday Senshi” challenge at the “sailormoonland” community at Livejournal.