Super Sailor Mercury: Shattered Ice
Setsuna looked up from her desk, hearing the sound of knocking at the nurse's office door. The greenish black haired woman's eyes widened slightly in surprise as she saw the woman standing there as she said, "Mrs. Mizuno?"
"Good morning," Nicole Mizuno said, stepping inside. The dark blue haired woman looked good dressed in her slacks and blouse, but also oddly formidable as well. "I wanted to speak with you privately," she continued.
"Please," Setsuna waved her to the seat on the other side of her desk. She waited until Nicole was seated before asking, "How can I help you?"
"You can probably guess," Nicole said calmly.
"Ami," Setsuna smiled wryly.
"Indeed," Nicole agreed, clearly studying Setsuna a moment. She smiled slightly, "Ami's told me a bit about you, of course, and that you're friends."
"Ami is," Setsuna hesitated a second, not quite sure what to say to the other woman, "a very important person to me."
Nicole nodded slightly, "And you are to her, from what Ami has said." She smiled, tilting her head to the side and asking, "Are your intentions towards my daughter honorable?"
Setsuna blinked in surprise as she blurted out, "What?!"
"A bit of an old fashioned question," Nicole's eyes were intense as she looked at Setsuna, "but I think it gets the point across."
"We're not... I mean, not yet...." Setsuna stammered.
"I'm not entirely comfortable about asking this," Nicole admitted, "I just feel I must." She gave Setsuna a dangerous look, "Ami had been hurt, wounded in both body and soul. If it lies in my power I will not let her be hurt again."
"I would never hurt her," Setsuna said softly, a blush to her cheeks.
"Not intentionally so," Nicole agreed before continuing on gravely, "but I don't want you breaking her heart."
Setsuna took a deep breath and said the words that she had wanted to say for weeks now, "Mrs. Mizuno, I love your daughter."
"Good," Nicole flashed a happy smile at that piece of news, surprising Setsuna once again. "Have you told Ami?" she leaned forward eagerly, looking much younger somehow.
"No, not yet," Setsuna shook her head, still faintly blushing. At Nicole's surprised look she continued, "She's barely used to us going out on dates together, I don't want to hit her with anything more complicated just yet."
"Point," Nicole rested her arm on the desk, putting her head on her hand.
"Has Ami had someone before...?" Setsuna asked tentatively.
"A few crushes on boys," Nicole said with a sigh, "and she used to talk about her friend Makoto a great deal. Other than that, no."
Setsuna sighed softly. "I haven't even kissed Ami yet," she found herself confiding.
"Poor thing," Nicole flashed a smile. More seriously she said, "Ami may have become a tougher, stronger person," she sounded a bit regretful about that, "but romance wise she's still the shy girl she used to be. I'm afraid you're going to have to make the first move."
Ami sneezed suddenly, wondering if someone was talking about her. With a slight shake of her head she continued on, walking up the flight of stone steps. People coming and going from the shrine gave the girl in the boy's school uniform thoughtful looks and she almost wished she had stopped at home to change before coming here, her scar made more visible from her slight blush.
Ami stopped at the shrine gate, looking around her as she felt a sharp stab of grief. So much of her time here had been spent with Rei, Usagi and the others that coming here brought all of those memories to the surface. She smiled, a few tears glittering, taking a moment to remember those good times before continuing on with a firm step.
All around her the shine was busy, a few adults paying their respects while over at the side the stand selling love charms was doing good business, as always. Ami walked towards the woman who was selling those charms and felt a moment of confusion at seeing that mostly unfamiliar face, waiting until the crowd cleared before going any closer.
"Mizuno-san," Kagome looked up at her, the black haired shrine maiden smiling warmly. "I was hoping you'd stop by again," she chided her gently.
"Sorry," Ami said quietly, "I've been busy." She pushed her blue hair back unconsciously, "Is Grandfather around?"
Kagome nodded slightly, "Yes, he's in back with the sacred fire." Ami politely excused herself and walked away, leaving Kagome gazing after her thoughtfully. "She's so cute," the shrine maiden finally sighed dreamily.
Ami entered the buildings carefully, quickly making her way to the chamber with the sacred fire that burned so brightly. She hesitated at the doorway, part of her knowing she shouldn't enter here, even though she had permission.
The little man knelt by the fire, gazing into the flames, seemingly lost to the world around him. Rei's Grandfather turned to look at her, sensing her arrival somehow and smiled a bit sadly, "Ami, thank you for coming."
"Grandfather," Ami said a bit uncomfortably, kneeling down beside him. He had given her permission to call him that years ago, but it still felt a bit odd.
"Kagome," Grandfather looked over at her with a slightly impish smile, "would like it if you came over more often, supposedly for training."
Ami shook her head, "With my school, taking care of Chibi-Usa and my duties as a Senshi it's pretty much impossible."
Grandfather fought back a smile, the older man noticing that Ami hadn't even mentioned Kagome's interest. He looked back into the fire, thinking back as he said, "I was so surprised when you turned up at that exorcism gone wrong."
"So was I," Ami admitted.
Ami still didn't know exactly why she had been out that night a few weeks after the funerals, why her footsteps had drawn her to that older house. The sound of a crash sent her rushing inside, finding Rei's Grandfather facing a creature of some kind, a mother and daughter hiding behind him. Ami picked the discarded paper charms from the floor automatically, words that she shouldn't have known coming to her lips.
"Rei," Grandfather had gazed at her in shock.
The wound on her face ached, unshed tears glistening in her eyes as she spoke, binding the creature magically with powers not her own. Ami gestured, her throat raspy from emotion, finally banishing the dark spirit in a wave of icy cold. She had swayed, exhausted, then Ami slumped to the ground unconscious.
Grandfather had brought her back to the shrine, the two talking once she had revived again. Ami told him then about Fiore, Rei's double like as Sailor Mars, and together they had grieved for a lost granddaughter and best friend.
"I had a vision," Grandfather's voice brought Ami back to the present as he said, "there's trouble coming, soon." He hesitated a moment, "Could you try ...?"
"I don't like it," Ami admitted, gazing into the fire reluctantly, "but I'll try."
The fire glowed red and orange, Ami looking into the flames as she tried to call up whatever gift Rei had given her months ago. It was almost as if the flames parted, or maybe reshaped, as figured began to form. Three shadows, a hand being offered and taken, but behind them a dark power stirred. A jewel, shining, and then the images simply fell apart into the fire.
"I'm sorry," Grandfather caught her as she stumbled back from the flames, barely keeping her from falling as he continued, "I didn't realize it would affect you so much."
"That was interesting," Ami managed, blinking away the spots from in front of her eyes.
Grandfather helped her sit, quickly getting her some tea. "What did you see?" he asked after she had taken a drink.
"Three strangers," Ami took a drink, "and trouble coming behind them." She finished the tea, rising unsteadily as she continued, "I'd better go tell the others about this."
"Good luck," Grandfather said softly.
To be continued....
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