Super Sailor Mercury: Shattered Ice
Sailor Neptune leapt gracefully, the green haired beauty in a sailor fuku dropping down smoothly beside her partner. "Do you think we should call Ami and the others?" she asked, taking up a fighting stance.
"We can handle a few Youma," Sailor Uranus said with a confident smile. "Besides," the sandy haired young woman said as the creatures shambled towards them slowly, "I'd really hate to have to interrupt their date."
"Neptune Deep Submerge!" Neptune cried out, flinging her attack into another Youma and watching with satisfaction as it was destroyed. "I guess so," she agreed with a smile, "it certainly took the two of them long enough."
"Now we just have to get the two of them to go out on their own," Uranus said. "Uranus World Shaking!" another enemy went up in a burst of power.
"Ahh-choo!" Ami sneezed, blinking.
"Are you all right?" Setsuna asked curiously, looking across the table at Ami. Cleared plates littered the table, everyone having vaguely satisfied looks on their faces.
Ami shrugged, "I don't know where that came from."
"Then maybe someone's talking about you," Chibi-Usa said, finishing off a second bowl full of some rich treat.
Hotaru chuckled softly at that, working on finishing off her own treat. All around them the club was busy as ever, young women talking together, swaying together out on the dance floor or sitting at tables like theirs. Ami took a drink, setting the cup down with a happy sigh.
Setsuna had some sake, her eyes resting on Ami thoughtfully. Ami looked up at her with a slight blush, "Did I...."
"No, just thinking," Setsuna said. She tilted her head to the side, "When I first met you during the Dark Moon affair, I never expected that we'd be where we are now."
"Me, too," Ami admitted. She looked into the crowd with the oddest look on her face as she dropped her voice to a whisper, "When I met Rei earlier, she thought I was her lover... then went to another version of me and...."
Setsuna put her hand on Ami's, squeezing gently. "It's a bit unnerving," she agreed. She looked at Ami worriedly, "Did that bother you?"
Ami shook her head no. "I just wonder what I didn't see back then," she admitted, "with my face buried in a book."
"It wasn't quite that bad," Setsuna reminded her.
"Well, maybe," Ami admitted. Her cheeks colored a bit, "I liked Makoto, maybe a bit more than was friendly, but Rei? That surprised me." She chuckled, thinking of Sailor Venus as she added, "But love does that, I think."
"You're a wise young woman," Setsuna murmured.
"Could we try that?" Chibi-Usa asked, looking over at the dancing couples.
Ami hesitated then noticed Setsuna giving her a little smile. "Why not," she agreed, rising from her seat and offering Setsuna her hand. "Would you care to dance?" she asked formally.
"I'd love to," Setsuna nodded with a smile.
Hotaru echoed Ami's movements and the four of them moved out onto the dance floor together. The two smaller girls seemed to find the rhythm easily, swaying together with obvious enjoyment, but their elders had a bit more difficulty.
"Sorry," Ami murmured, barely avoiding stepping on Setsuna's feet.
Setsuna chuckled softly, meeting Ami's eyes with gentle amusement. "There's no final exam on this," she murmured, "you don't have to try so hard."
Ami puffed out a breath, "Easy for you to say." Still, she found that by not concentrating so much on where her feet were going the dancing got easier, oddly.
"We really should leave them alone," the quiet voice said, eerily familiar.
"Oh come on, you know you're curious about her," the other answered cheerfully. Ami felt a hand rest on her shoulder and turned to see the smiling face of Minako Aino. The blonde beamed, "Wow, you really do look cool with the scar."
"Sorry," Rei Hino apologized, the black haired woman looking oddly uncomfortable.
Makoto Kino stood behind her, brown hair flowing over her shoulders with two other older woman Ami didn't immediately recognize. Her own twin gazed at her wide eyed, dressed in much more feminine clothes than her own suit.
"Everyone," Ami murmured, blinking away her sudden tears, hoping and praying that she could maintain her composure. Joy and despair surged within her heart, staggering her with the intensity of the emotions.
"Well Usagi's not here," Makoto noted, her green eyes narrowed a bit in concern as she looked at Ami, "she's out with Mamoru."
"How did that happen?" Minako asked, looking at Ami's scar with fascination.
"You know that she can't answer that question," Setsuna said, putting a protective arm around Ami's shoulders.
"I think," the red headed woman whom a dazed Ami recognized as Mrs. Haruna, Usagi's old teacher, "that they were having a night out together. Maybe we should leave them alone?"
"But..." Minako protested, "I want to know what our versions are like on her world! Maybe we're all tough and butch."
"Come on love," Natsuna said, the police officer tugging Minako away.
Only the other Ami lingered a moment. "I'm sorry," Ami said, and something in her eyes showed she understood Ami's feelings of grief and shock. "If I had known, I wouldn't have let them come over," and with that she left to rejoin Rei.
"So those were the Inner Senshi," Hotaru murmured, appearing at their side with Chibi-Usa, "I wish I could have known them better."
"Are you going to be all right?" Setsuna asked Ami softly.
"If you don't mind," Ami forced a smile as she continued, "could we get going? I think I've had enough for one night."
"Sure, Ami-papa," Chibi-Usa slipped her hand comfortingly into Ami's. The three of them left the way they came, paying the bill before slipping outside.
"I'm going to have a little talk with my counterpart," Setsuna sounded truly angry, "she should have known to keep them away from us."
"Couldn't she argue you should have kept me away from them?" Ami asked as they walked over to the car together.
"A point," Setsuna conceded that as she opened up the back seat for Chibi-Usa and Hotaru to climb inside.
Ami opened up Setsuna's door for her before going around to the driver's side. She sat down, laying her hands on the wheel before taking a steadying breath. "It's odd," she murmured so that only Setsuna heard, "part of me is glad to see them, but the other part..."
"One of the few things I hate about being the Senshi of Time," Setsuna answered equally quietly, "is knowing about all the alternate possibilities."
Ami started up the car, "How do you cope?"
"I try not to think about it," was the dry answer.
The car pulled out into traffic, moving back towards the city center at a brisk pace. "Could you put the radio on?" Chibi-Usa asked.
Setsuna and Ami both reached for it, hands tangling a moment as Ami blushed slightly. The radio came on and a smooth pop song was playing, one about searching for lost love. It inspired a strange feeling in Ami, one she had difficulty pinning down.
"That's Three Lights," Hotaru offered, "they're very popular at our school."
"Three Lights?" Ami murmured, frowning thoughtfully.
To be continued....
Author's Notes: the Senshi that Ami meets are from the stories Ice on Fire and Love and Lightning as well as appearing in the regular Arisugawa's Locket continuity. The scene was inspired by some comments from readers as well as what I thought Minako might do....
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