"Shine Aqua Illusion," Sailor Mercury cried, the blue haired young woman swiftly forming a wall of super-dense ice.
"I've got you," Sailor Saturn swung her glave down, shattering the ice wall to dust only to blink in surprise when Mercury placed her finger on the black haired girl's brow.
"If I used one of my attacks now, you'd be badly hurt," Mercury said gently. She smiled, "You need to recover quicker, shifting from attack to defense."
Saturn raised her glave back to the guard position, "Right sensei."
Mercury shook her head, "We've done enough for today, I think." She nodded to where Setsuna and Chibi-Usa waited, "Besides, they're probably getting hungry."
Saturn's own stomach gurgled softly into the silence. "Sorry," she blushed, letting herself shift back to Hotaru Tomoe.
"It's all right," Ami Mizuno grinned. "At least this way we've worked up an appetite."
"Hotaru," Chibi-Usa ran right over to her, her pink hair bouncing as the two young girls came together happily.
"Are you two done playing now?" Setsuna asked, her green tinted mane of black hair flowing elegantly down her back.
Ami couldn't help blushing slightly even knowing that it made the white scar on her face stand out boldly. "Oh, I think we're done," she said shyly. She managed a smile as she added, "Unless you want to take a turn?"
"Not today," Setsuna smiled back at the shorter woman. They walked together away from the deserted park, "You're idea of us practicing against each other is a good one, though."
"I hope so," Ami put her hands in her coat pockets, her black pants soaking up the light. "I'd rather find out our weaknesses in practice rather than in battle," she added.
"Indeed," Setsuna quietly agreed. She gently slipped her arm into Ami's and they walked on towards where the car was parked together.
"Ami-papa," Chibi-Usa asked, "where are we going to dinner?"
"Ami-papa?" Setsuna had a smile tugging her lips as she looked at Ami in surprise.
"I think she picked it up from Hotaru talking about Haruka-papa and Michiru-mama," Ami made a face. She looked at Chibi-Usa, "Do you want to eat out? Or we could go home for dinner?"
"Could we go out?" Chibi-Usa asked.
"We haven't been out to dinner in a restaurant for a while," Hotaru eagerly agreed, looking up in silent appeal at Setsuna.
"It would be nice," Setsuna agreed, smiling at Ami happily.
"All right, we'll go out to dinner together," a laughing Ami agreed. She opened the passenger side door for Setsuna, noting with some amusement Hotaru echoing her gesture for Chibi-Usa.
"So where are we bound?" Setsuna asked as Ami settled behind the driver's seat.
"A very unusual little bar," Ami said, keeping her eyes on the road, "one I visited once before. It's called Arisugawa's Locket."
Setsuna felt her eyes widen in surprise even as she thought to herself, 'I know.'
It hadn't been long after the Senshi had been slain, a cold February day. Setsuna had been working in her nurse's office half-heartedly, most of her thoughts devoted to considering how to go about approaching the grief stricken Ami Mizuno.
Setsuna felt the disturbance before she saw her, another version of herself transformed into Sailor Pluto. "You need to come with me," Pluto said simply.
Setsuna frowned as she got up from behind her desk, "You know that two versions of us from different time tracks shouldn't meet like this."
"I come from a cross-dimensional nexus," Pluto answered simply, "and someone from this timeline needs your assistance there."
Setsuna nodded crisply, "Lead the way."
Sailor Pluto moved the two of them to the Gates of Time where they were greeted by another Sailor Pluto. The two of them moved through the Gate itself, emerging in front of a large building, probably once a warehouse. Hanging above the door were the neon letters reading 'Arisugawa's Locket,' and a very startled looking door woman.
Setsuna and Pluto strode inside to the honest surprise of the door woman and the greeter inside. Setsuna scanned the place, her eyes widening at seeing the figure standing on the kareoke stage. Ami Mizuno was dressed in her usual boy's school uniform, the black costume going well with her dark blue hair. There was an aura of sorrow around her, and a angry red scar ran from beneath one eye, across the bridge of her nose, and under the other eye.
"Tell the mothers and the babes,
tell the old and the sick they will be safe,
Get the young males, tell them to be brave...
I was so concerned with saving lives
I never saw you pull the knife!
High on the mountains, across seven seas
Answer the question,
Why me.. why me?"
Ami sang in a voice that was filled with all of her pain and loss, stilling conversations from all across the room. When she finished, sliding the microphone back into it's stand, her eyes were glittering with unshed tears. She stepped down from the stage, swaying drunkenly, then stumbled forward, nearly falling to the floor.
"I have you," Setsuna caught Ami gently, cradling her in her arms. The expression on her face was tender, touched by the pain within the other woman.
"Take her home," Sailor Pluto said softly. She looked down at the drunken Ami with compassion, "I suspect she has drank enough not to remember tonight."
"Thank you for calling me," Setsuna smiled wryly. She walked away from her counterpart, the crowd clearing the way as they walked towards the exit.
Setsuna was jerked back to the present by Ami's wry comment, "Of course you know about it, you were there."
"You remember?" Setsuna looked at her in surprise.
"I thought I was seeing double," Ami admitted, "but yes, I do." She flashed a smile, "Thank you, by the way."
"It wasn't ...," Setsuna felt a blush coming to her cheeks.
Ami reached out, putting her hand on Setsuna's own. "Even after I said all those nasty things to you," she said calmly, "you came to help me. Thank you."
"Do you have any idea what they're talking about?" Chibi-Usa asked curiously from the back seat of the car.
"I have no idea," Hotaru admitted, "but it sounds good."
Setsuna had to fight back a chuckle, and quite surprisingly Ami grinned. "Just consider taking us out to dinner tonight as making us even," Setsuna offered.
Ami nodded slightly, "As you wish."
The little car hit the outskirts of Tokyo, pulling into an already crowded parking lot behind the converted warehouse. Ami and the others climbed out, their driver pausing to lock the doors before they headed to the building itself. Thankfully there was no lineup, and the dark-haired door woman only gave them a curious once over before letting them in.
"Welcome to Arisugawa's Locket," the brown haired woman by the door beamed. Hitomi looked at Ami thoughtfully, "Have you visited before?"
"Once," Ami said with a sigh.
Hitomi smiled, "Are you here for dinner?" At their nods she rang a small bell and said, "I'll get one of our servers, then."
The brown haired woman made her way through the crowd, her long brown hair tied into a simple ponytail. "Table for four?" Keiko smiled at them.
"Thanks," Setsuna smiled, eliciting a double take from Keiko.
"Does that happen a lot?" Ami asked her as they made their way through the crowd of women in all different shapes and types.
"Occasionally," Setsuna sighed.
To be continued...
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