Disclaimers: SM doesn’t belong to me. Rights reserved to Naoko Takeuchi. And…whatever else I need to put here…. =\
The Song:Final Distance
Short epilogue to If I Was the One
Though it weighs on my mind, I can't ask
Ki ni naru noni kikenai
Oyogi tsukarete kimi made mukuchi ni naru
Aitai no ni mienai nami ni osarete
Mata sukoshi tooku naru
Ami could not say anything. She turned away, tears freely falling from her face. Her throat constricted. Her heart was fighting a battle, and her mind couldn’t do anything. Rational thought seemed impossible as she tried to wrestle hundreds of emotions at once. Her heart felt like it was clenching tight enough to burst. Suddenly, she felt a hand grab hers and press something in her grasp. She realized it was Makoto’s umbrella. Ami felt an extra weight around her shoulders. It was Makoto’s jacket, and it was still warm. She turned around, “Ma-“ Makoto was already rapidly walking away. “Makoto…”
Ami stood rooted on the ground, unable to move, her brain telling her to run after Makoto. Run. Run. Run. Run. But she stood rooted to the ground under the onslaught of heavy rain. Thanks to Makoto’s umbrella, Ami was not soaked any further than she already was. Thanks to Makoto’s jacket, an ounce of warmth reached her cold skin. However her warmth could not influence the cold in her heart. Makoto’s is getting soaked! Ami, find her. If you don’t have the courage now… ‘You never know what would have been like if you just didn’t have the courage to say three little words that mean a lot, Ami. You’ll spend the rest of your life wondering, ‘what if’? Don’t push love away Ami, don’t be scared of rejection,’ she recalled what her mother once told her when she meet Urawa Ryo, the boy that matched her genius.
“Makoto is getting soaked.” Her feet began moving. Ami was thankful that Makoto had slowed down after awhile, otherwise she would have a hard time matching the taller woman’s long strides. Makoto’s form grew larger as Ami neared the depressed figure. Makoto paused her steps and looked up at the sky letting the rain pelt her, and, for its entire stygian feel, she saw a beauty in there, a beauty in the rain that came from it. Calm. The rain was the calming factor. She closed her eyes hearing the raindrops fall harmlessly onto tangible surfaces.
Suddenly she realized the raindrops were not falling onto her face anymore. Her eyes snapped opened, her senses put on alert. Makoto saw a familiar black umbrella looming above her head. She looked down at turned slowly, expecting Ami there. She was, giving up the protection of the umbrella to shield Makoto. Ami was looking at Makoto almost shyly and forgiving. A look that said, ‘we’re still friends, right?’
Ami stepped in closer, keeping herself out of the rain. “Are you crazy, Mako-chan? You’re going to get sick if you stay out here for long,” she whispered.
Ami shook her head. “Let me speak.” Ami’s eyes never left Makoto’s forcing her emerald eyes to look back ruefully. “I accept your apologies, Mako-chan.” Her voice trembled without Ami realizing it. Several times her mouth opened, but she made no noise, unsure of how to approach the subject. “You’re… I… Mako-chan, I forgive you.” She paused again to gather her thoughts; all the while her mother’s words never left her thoughts. Makoto waited patiently for Ami to continue. As the silence stretched, her throat became dry, but her chest felt lighter as a load was taken off her shoulders.
Ami, why? Why do you still forgive me?
Ami began to spoke again; Makoto’s mind came back into focus. “Mako-chan,” she whispered, “You’re too important a person to me.” Ami’s voice was loud in her ears, but she spoke scarcely past a whisper. Makoto listened as attentively as an eager student. She could barely hear Ami though, and she was confused as to why Ami being so quiet. She seemed nervous, but about what? Ami blushed and tilted her head down in a way Makoto found quite adorable.
Ami swallowed, though her throat was dry. “Don’t hate me for-“
Makoto drew back slightly. “Ami, I can never-“
“Don’t. Let me speak,” she interrupted. “Please. Don’t hate me for what I’m going to say.” Her hands tightened around the umbrella’s handle to hide her trembling. She scared, god awful frightened to say in the least. A string of ‘what-if’ questions ran through her head. ‘What if she hates me? What if she wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me? What if she leaves?’ Ami took a deep breath. I can’t do this. I can’t. I just… I wish to be in her embrace… I’m tired. I hate this. Makoto…you don’t know just how much strength I use to suppress these emotions for you, and I am getting tired. But oh goodness, I am so scared, so weak and so craven.
Ami broke their gaze and looked down, staring at her feet. She’d been doing that a lot lately. Suddenly she looked up, the motion catching Makoto’s gaze. Ami opened the windows in her eyes and tried to tell Makoto with the emotions that came bidden to her eyes what her words could not say. Confused emerald eyes gazed into a pair of azure pools of emotion. Realization began to dawn in Makoto as she realized exactly what her friend was suggesting. Makoto saw in Ami’s forgiving eyes, fondness and love. But more prominent of the emotions swirling in her dark pools was a question. Of acceptance. Makoto did not know what to do, what to say. The love she saw in her friend’s eyes went far deeper than it would seem on the surface as the love for a friend. Does…Ami love me like that? But why? After all the shitty things I’ve done… she still… This is awkward. I mean…Ami is my friend. Ami is Ami. Ami is a woman. If she still wants to be. Evidently. I hope… But why me? I was so cruel to you. You must have been hurting all those times you saw me with Yuuhi. If what I see is true, Ami…then I don’t deserve you, not even as a friend.
Ami was looking for a sign of any reaction from Makoto. She saw that her friend was having an internal battle of her own. Her chest constricted, already bracing for the coming onslaught of her friend telling her to stay out of her life…again. It did not come. She felt a gentle hand rest on her shoulder. Ami looked up. The look Makoto gave her was so welcoming and her hand on her shoulder gave her strength. Ami could not resist burying herself against Makoto. Makoto stiffened but relaxed and settled into in, letting Ami embrace her.
“Please forgive me, but I need this...” Ami whispered softly. Ami felt Makoto’s arms wrap around her. They stayed like that for a moment until Makoto pulled away and stepped back. Ami looked at Makoto in surprise.
“Ami,” Makoto said hoarsely. “Ami-san,” she continued sadly. The love in her gloomy eyes matched Ami’s earlier, with a cloud of sorrow over it. “I’m… sorry.” Makoto took a deep breath. She steeled herself. “Ami-san. You should go home. You’re soaking wet and you’ll catch a cold like this,” she said with a nonchalant sangfroid. Ami was unable to speak. She felt her heart crumble and pretty soon, so will her legs. Her chest hurt. Why? Was I injured? Yes… my heart is injured. Makoto softened her tone. “Ami-san… I… I don’t deserve you. You are too wonderful. I don’t deserve you, not as a friend. Not-“ she swallowed, “not as a lover. It’s better that way.” Tears came unbidden in her eyes as she walked away with deliberate, fast strides. In her heart, she felt drops of Mercury fall to the cold ground, and it tore at her.
You can be hurt this much, by just a single word
hito koto de konna ni mo kizutsuku kimi wa
Mrs. Mizuno spent one of these rare afternoons, when she was not at the hospital, at home, watching television, reading the newspaper and cooking dinner, like any other housewife would. She heard a noise at the door. She heard a creak as it opened. Mrs. Mizuno stood up and walked to the front door, where she saw a sopping wet, saturnine daughter standing there, dripping umbrella in her hands.
She rushed to take the umbrella out of her daughter’s hand and led her inside to the bathroom. “My god, Ami! Why are you soaked? What’s wrong?” Despite the fact that she’ll get wet, she drew her daughter into a hug and held on to her as tight as a protective mother could. The trickles of tears that already streamed Ami’s face began to flood rivulets, soaking into her mother’s shirt. Her mother stroked Ami’s hair. Ami sobbed harder. “Shh…Ami. Why don’t you go take a shower? Warm yourself up? Please, I don’t want you to get sick. While you do that, I will make some tea and we can talk. Is that okay Ami?” She felt her daughter nod her head. Not letting go of her daughter, Mrs. Mizuno led Ami to the bathroom, and after making sure she would be all right, she went to the kitchen and boiled a pot of water. After pouring herself a cup, she sat in the kitchen, distressed over her daughter. It ached her heart to see Ami so miserable and the look she caught in her eyes wrenched at her heart. Though Ami was a grown adult, she was her daughter nonetheless and it was still her job to worry and care.
Ami walked out, wearing a bathrobe, and sat despondently in a chair next to her mom. Ami leaned against her mother and sighed, her breathing was tremulous. Mrs. Mizuno gently wrapped a motherly arm around her and started speaking: “Ami? What’s wrong? You can talk about it…” It was then that Ami began to sob, and sob harder. She tried to speak but could only manage “mom.” Ami fell quiet after a while. Then, she reached out to pour herself some tea and gulped it down. She set her cup back on the table.
“Ami?” Ami nodded to let her mother know she was listening. “Want to talk?” Ami didn’t respond. Mrs. Mizuno had an idea what Ami was so down about, and was just wondering how to ask. “Ami, you love her that much?” She felt Ami go rigid.
“Love whom?” she asked in a soft voice that could barely be heard.
“You know. Makoto.”
“W-what do you mean?” Ami’s voice became unsteady.
Her mother chuckled lightly. “I may be away often, but I’m not completely unaware of the way you look at her sometimes. It only took me a while to realize that was how I looked at your father when I was younger… and in love. And besides, you seem more distant, and you are drawing away from your studies,” she nudged.
“I don’t understand. She is hurting because of Yuuhi, and I understand that pain. But I don’t understand everything else.”
“You will Ami, you will.”
“Mom, don’t laugh, but I love her so much it hurts to only hope,” her mother was nothing but serious. “She found out about Yuuhi. She came to me. Apologized. She was sincere, I heard it in her voice, saw it in her eyes. She asked my to forgive her. I answered too late. She walked away… I went after her and tried to…” Ami closed her eyes. “I don’t understand. She took off, saying she didn’t deserve me. Am I at fault? Why shouldn’t she deserve me? She is unbelievably loyal, kind. Is it wrong for me to love her?”
“No,” he mother interrupted. “Love can never be wrong. If it is, then you are right to be wrong.”
“I couldn’t tell her mom. I tried to follow your advice before about Urawa, but I couldn’t…” The phone rang and Ami’s mother picked it up.
“Rei? Good afternoon! You want to talk to Ami? Sure, one moment please.” She covered the phone with her hand and allowed her daughter to compose herself. Ami got her speech under control and reached for the phone. Rei called to tell Ami that she was late for a meeting at the shrine and expressed her shock at Ami’s tardiness. Ami apologized, “I’ll be there right away. Sorry.” There was a short pause. “Makoto? No, I haven’t seen her all day. I’ll try to contact her.” Ami hoped this little lie would be forgiven as she hung up the phone. Her mother gave her a surprised look, but shrugged.
“I’m going to Rei’s. Ittekimasu.” Ami picked up Makoto’s umbrella and put on her jacket.
“Itterashai. And Ami? Hoping for the future is the only strength against the cruelties of life. Hope for a future with Makoto, yeah?”
“She loves you, you know Ami? Sometimes I do believe that brain of yours is a curse,” her mother said lightheartedly. “You don’t notice the most obvious of things. Makoto ran here looking for you, drenched, and despite the pain caused to her ribs continued to look for you. She wanted to say you were right, Ami.” Not giving Ami a chance to retort in self-pity, she said, “Itterashai!” and resumed watching television.
Ami managed composing herself before arriving at Rei’s shrine. Usagi met her at the top of the steps, wearing a smile on her face. Ami found herself wishing she could be as happy as her friend. Usagi saw that something was wrong the moment she saw Ami, who was doing a fairly good job of hiding her sullen state. Ami’s look also said, “don’t ask, I won’t tell anyway.” Usagi settled to walked silently beside her friend, offering comfort in the quietest way. Ami was thankful that Usagi didn’t question her but just stood as a silent companion.
Minako and Rei were having a rather tedious conversation about the battle last night. They stopped when they saw Ami coming and greeted her. Usagi caught the look on Rei’s face and vigorously shook her head telling Rei not to ask what was wrong with Ami.
“Ami, we need your expertise.” Minako grinned. “The fact is obvious. There was a youma, last night. The question is: where did it come from? What is it after? Why now? And, I thought we already killed all the bad guys!” Minako fell back onto the floor exasperated.
Ami spoke, “Well… I’ve given it some thought and I’ve concluded that this is just a random appearance.”
“A youma pops out of nowhere and you think it’s a random occurrence? What? You think a youma just wanted to come out and play?” Minako shot.
“I agree with Ami,” Rei interjected. “There have been no major disturbances in energy that I have felt or sensed. The fire tells me nothing. I just want to know why. A girl landed in a hospital because of this. We need to stop it.”
“I don’t think we can, at least not until Usagi is ready to rule over Crystal Tokyo and the full power of the Ginzuishou has been reached,” Ami stated frankly. “It’s like this, I believe. The youma, or what’s left of that dark energy resides in a parallel plane to ours. Somehow, a door opened that leads here. And every once in a while, a stray youma may stumble upon and door, end up here, be confused and wreak havoc.”
“So…we can expect an attack at any given time?” Usagi asked. Ami nodded gravely. “Then…I don’t mean to stray off subject, but Rei, have you been able to contact Makoto yet?”
“No. Let’s just hope I don’t find her or she’ll have a piece of my mind. She could at least contact us you know. I called the restaurant she works at, I called her apartment and I called Shinozaki but they all have no clue where she is.” Rei was bordering between frustration and concern.
“I wonder…if it had to anything to do with last night,” Minako suggested, directing the question to Ami.
“Makoto is just being irresponsible,” Rei said. “Although-“
“Give her a break will you?” Ami growled. She was received by startled looks. Ami flushed in embarrassment and apologized. “I’m sorry. I guess you guys didn’t know.”
“Know what?” Usagi prompted. Rei lost her air of impatience and Minako scrunched her eyebrows in thought.
“They broke up. Makoto and Yuuhi.”
“What?” Minako yelped, thoroughly shocked. Rei, red-faced from her earlier judgments of Makoto’s tardiness, gave Ami a questioning look. Rei was curious to know why Ami knew and the rest didn’t. And, why Ami was behaving so strangely as of late.
“Dear Mako-chan…” Usagi sighed. She had hoped with all her heart that this time it would work out well. She and Yuuhi just seemed so perfect together. “Do you know why?”
Ami hesitated for a while. “Yuuhi…was practicing infidelity to soften it up a little. But in layman’s terms, he’s been cheating on her,” she said almost calmly, as if stating a fact from a textbook.
“What?” Usagi shouted. She was seething along with the others. “If I ever see that man on the streets, you better restrain or your mother will have another patient.” Usagi shuffled back and forth, looking ready to pounce. Rei silently fumed, wishing silent death wishes to Yuuhi. And Minako’s brain already began plotting revenge.
Ami excused herself, saying that she had something to do. Rei asked Ami to update Makoto if she saw or heard from her. Ami assured Rei that she would.
Makoto somehow, in the rain, found herself back at the gates of Juuban Junior High. This was the place that started the best and most tumultuous years of her life. She made her best friends here; died during the time she was attending this school, brought out the best of her potential, and dispelled the foul rumors that followed her from her old school. Here, she came to care for the four people that drastically changed her life for the better. She got into fewer fights, her grades improved marginally, and she had a reason to live.
Her thoughts drifted to Ami again. How she had hurt her with those few words! She shook her head, telling herself not to think about these things at all, but they always crept back through her heart. And her heart was what controlled her brain, her thought processes, emotions, everything. She sighed heavily, her heart burdened with feelings of contrition.
She stood a while longer in front of the gates, reminiscing about the past before turning to leave. Pausing to look up at the sky, she wondered if the rain would stop soon. Makoto didn’t feel like going back to an empty apartment, where she had nothing to do. Boredom would lead her mind to memories, painful memories that are best left alone. But memories, as she has found, are the curses of devils and the gift of angels.
Messed up again. No surprise. She gave you a chance to accept her offer of friendship. I pushed her away. You didn’t have to. But I did. Because? Because I don’t deserve such kind friends. I was supposed to die with mom and dad. Don’t bring them into this; they have nothing to do with your screwing up. They don’t. Sorry mom, dad. What makes you think you don’t deserve friends? Because I… You don’t have an answer, do you? I do. What is it? I’ve caused them so much grief. Them? Her! I’ve caused her so much grief. She forgave you. Out of pity? I’m sorry; I don’t take that kind of forgiveness. Out of love. Love for an old friend. A friend that betrayed that thin line of trust? No. Love for you. There’s that culinary school…what’s it called? Le Cordon Bleu? Don’t stray from the subject Kino Makoto. I’ve always wanted to check that place out. Don’t shut me out Makoto. You can’t I am you. Your heart. The real Makoto. I can ignore you. You cannot. You never could. The human heart can lie. I’ve never lied to you. First time for everything. Don’t avoid the truth. You care for her. You love her. Don’t deny your heart Makoto. You never did, why start now? Your heart is the truest thing about Kino Makoto. Why am I even talking to you? The rain must have addled my brain. People always go to you when they need help or a friendly ear. You never go to them. Who do you confide in? Me. Your heart. Listen to Ami. And what? I don’t deserve her. But I hate it when you are right. I love her as much as I have ever loved anyone. I am so stupid to just realize this now. I’m just…afraid. You’re being selfish. No, I’m not. Then why do you keep your love to yourself? You want to share it but you are afraid. You are being selfish. You’re hurting Ami. I’m not…I don’t want to have my love life repeated over and over. I don’t think I want to be hurt again, and I don’t want to hurt Ami again. I hate this.
So enraptured was she in her thoughts that she was jolted out of herself when she crashed headlong into another person, sending waves of white hot pain shooting down her chest and through her appendages. She grit her teeth, clenched her fists and squeezed her eyes shut. Her lips bled, she had bitten them to keep from crying out. “Shit,” she muttered. Whoever she ran into, ran into her hard.
An old Chinese belief stated that two people are connected together by a red string tied around their ankles. In the world, nobody is without one. They are tied together, though they cannot see the string. These two people would be soul mates, so to speak, but not necessarily as lovers. It could be a bond between a mother and daughter, father and son, or even between best friends. The string just made sure they wouldn’t lose each other, no matter how far apart they may be and they would always find each other. Even if it is just a brush across walking down the street. Fate somehow always brought the two ends together, though they may get lost numerous times.
Ami felt something pull her into the direction of her old junior high school. She loved the place, no doubt. She met Usagi, Rei, Makoto, Minako…everyone. She felt a tug at her heart. Unbeknownst to her, she was being drawn to Makoto. Her head bowed deep in thought. She felt buried. All the confused emotions she kept to herself was beginning to be to much for her that she felt like she was being covered, and buried. She always had Makoto to confide it, if not her mother. Now, she couldn’t talk to Makoto about it, since she is the subject matter. Her mother wouldn’t understand. Nobody would understand, Ami felt. She walked faster, and was near running, bidding the tears to not shed.
She nearly screamed when she hit something. Someone. Her heart leapt in surprise. She fought to keep her balance. Luckily, those years as a Senshi help her keep on her feet. The person was on her knees muttering an obscenity as she clenched her chest in pain. Ami gasped in horror as she saw a familiar sweep of mahogany brown hair kept up in a high ponytail. “Makoto!”
Ami was on her knees in an instant. Her friend’s usually vibrant green eyes were dark and sullen. “Ami?” Makoto quickly got up and turned away, despite the dull ache in her chest that was not her injuries.
“Makoto wait!” Makoto paused her steps for a moment and turned slightly, not completely facing her. She walked on.
“Stay away,” she yelled. Makoto’s heart began to hurt.
“Please! Wait a moment.”
Ami’s heart was beating fast against her chest as her she grew anxious about what she was going to say. Makoto was getting farther away and if she didn’t act quickly, that rift between them would grow. From her heart, from her mother, from somewhere, she drew the courage to scream, “I love you!”
I wanna be with you now
I want to put it into words
I wanna be with you now
Kotoba de tsutaetai
Makoto froze at the urgency and sincerity in which Ami had shouted those words. Her heart leaped in joy and begged Makoto to believe it. Forget everything else, but believe Ami. She found it difficult to breathe as she heard footsteps coming towards her. She turned around just as Ami reached her. Ami slowed her steps and kept a distance between them.
Ami took a step closer. She was unusually calm in the situation, moving with deliberate movements. She moved forward again, and stopped just an arm’s reach from Makoto.
“Ami?” Ami didn’t answer. She didn’t need to, as her actions will explain what words cannot. Makoto could only wait. She anticipated this moment with as much anxiousness as she did fear.
“Ami. I’m leaving.” Ami froze, not comprehending. To clarify, Makoto spoke again. “I’m applying for Le Cordon Bleu, in Shibuya-ku, or maybe the one in Yokohama, depending. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. They can give me a degree in restaurant business, I can learn to cook French cuisine, get a diploma in pastry and cuisine.” Makoto spoke as if it was just any day news.
“That- that’s great. I glad…that you’ve decided to pursue your dreams.” But… “I’m proud of you Mako-chan,” she forced out, hiding her disappointment. Anguish…
“I’m moving to wherever I get accepted.”
Ami was silent. Where was that strength she drew? Did it whither away? “Makoto, don’t run away from me anymore,” Ami spoke painfully. Makoto was making this harder for Ami. Cooking, baking, that was Makoto’s dream. She couldn’t possibly compete with that. But there was a hope. Shibuya-ku wasn’t that far from Minato-ku. But Yokohama…
“I don’t want to hurt you. I’m distracting you from your studies.”
Ami shook her head sadly. No. No. I’m not letting you go. Not this time. “You’re hurting me by leaving.” Just one selfish wish… I don’t want her to move to Yokohama or Shibuya-ku. “Don’t run from me. I need you. Don’t leave…”
Ami stepped closer until she was a mere few inches from Makoto. Her eyes were closed. She looked down. Slowly, awkwardly, her hand moved toward Makoto’s. Her fingers found its way to Makoto’s and touched hers gently, before taking her hand into her own smaller, elegant ones. Ami looked up and into her eyes. She saw what she wanted in Makoto’s eyes: love and acceptance. Ami rested her head against Makoto. She felt Makoto tense, but Ami didn’t draw back. She was tired. Makoto relaxed. This felt right. This was right. She loved it when her heart was right.
Makoto’s fingers closed around Ami’s and gripped her hand tight. Ami’s other arm gently wrapped itself around Makoto as she brought their entwined hands level to her shoulder. Makoto looked at it for a moment before smiling. Ami buried against Makoto and drew back when Makoto winced. “I’m all right.” Makoto rested her head on Ami’s shoulders. She felt tears run on her neck where Ami’s face was. “Rain stopped,” she whispered. “Ami, whom I cherish…”
We should stay together,
I wanna be with you after all
We should stay together
Ad astra per aspera
“To the stars through difficulties.”
Wheeeeee! If you’ve noticed, I only used a portion of the song Final Distance: the beginning, middle and end. I tried to make Makoto confused about her feelings, which is why her views toward things may seem inconsistent. I’ve never tried anything like that so… it may seem a bit superficial.
Distance: approximately 2 weeks in the making. Not bad…Thanks for all you guys who’ve read the story and reviewed it! Believe it or not, you guys gave me some ideas as to the direction of the story. Sorry it’s so short…. But it’s the longest epilogue I’VE ever written. Haha…
Date Completed: 9 March 2002