"You actually talked to them?" Luna perked up in the chair, looking over at Ami with an expression of undisguised shock.
Ami smiled slightly. "You don't have to act so surprised, you know," she scolded the little black cat gently.
Artemis tilted his white head to the side as the cat said, "I can't quite blame Luna, Ami. You've certainly resisted any attempts we've made to get you to do it."
"I got scolded by my mom," Ami admitted.
"Nicole's a wise woman," Artemis nodded sagely.
Sitting on the chair while gently petting Luna Chibi-Usa smiled up at Ami happily, "I'm just glad that you did."
Ami checked her watch, "It's getting pretty close to your bedtime." She got up to take the little pink haired girl's hand and walk with her away from the living room, "Did you get all your homework done? Did you need any help with it?"
A few moments later, a smiling Ami made her way back to the cats. "Any problems?" Luna asked their blue haired mistress.
"Not really," Ami sighed, sitting down with a thump. "I think if she could, she'd have me doing her homework for her. Still, her grades are fine," she added.
Artemis looked over at her gravely, "What's this I hear from Chibi- Usa, that the Outers asked you to be their leader?"
"I'm not certain if it's a good idea," Ami admitted, "but I accepted." She looked up at the two guardian cats, "Do you think it was a bad move?"
"No," Luna said firmly.
"Luna's right," Artemis backed her up, "you've shown your ability to handle yourself in tense situations before, and you're wise enough to make good decisions."
Ami didn't agree or disagree with them, gazing off into the distance. "I'm sorry I didn't bring you two along," she said to them instead, "it was a spur of the moment decision to go inside. Next time, I'll bring you along."
Ami got out of her chair, grabbing at her jacket and keys from a nearby table. Luna jumped down from her seat, "Do you want me to..."
"No," Ami shook her head, "I won't be gone much more than an hour." Not waiting for an answer she slipped out the door, locking it behind her with a loud click.
Artemis sighed softly, "Do you think she's getting any better?"
"Ami hasn't woken up crying for the last few weeks," Luna answered him softly. A little pause, "Or screaming, either."
"I wish there was something more we could do for her," Artemis said softly, "it's never easy, being the only survivor."
Ami left the building, walking the streets silently. The apartment building wasn't far away from where she was going, though she'd never admit that it might have been a reason she decided to rent a suite there.
The heavy metal gates were locked up for the night, but that didn't slow her down much. Ami put her and on the fence, carefully tightened her grip on the fence wire, and with a astonishing show of strength clambered up the wire mesh. She dropped down to the mesh and followed the familiar path, coming to a stop a few moments later.
"Hello, Usagi," Ami murmured softly, standing there by the marble headstone.
The five graves were all around the city, the families having made different decisions. Ami herself had found herself with the responsibility of taking care of Makoto's arrangements, and she had been buried here in this cemetery, too. She liked to think Makoto would have approved of guarding over Usagi, even after...
Ami wiped a few glittering tears from her cheeks, banishing them with a wave of her hand. She remembered Usagi, that long blonde hair, the bright blue eyes and her gentle kindness. Always trying to bring Ami out of her shell, Usagi gently scolding her when she studied too hard and reminding her to play.
"I miss you," Ami said softly. A deep breath, "I'm taking care of Chibi-Usa, and she's made a new friend." She felt a pang, remembering how Usagi had encouraged her to make friends, too. "I've been hiding behind my books again," Ami murmured.
A sound of footsteps, and a soft gasp. Ami looked up in surprise, seeing a brown haired woman standing there, looking at her in equal shock. It took Ami a moment to register who it was before blurting, "Mrs. Tsukino."
Usagi's mother took a half step forward and said questioningly, "Ami?"
'She hasn't seen me dressed in the boy's uniform before,' Ami reminded herself. She gave a half bow, "Yes, ma'am, it's me. I'll go, leave you to pay your respects in peace."
"Wait, please," the older woman called out to her before Ami could take more than a few steps down the path.
Ami tensed, but froze. She recalled visiting the Tsukino home after the service, the dark cloud that had hung over the place. Mr. Tsukino had borne up in stony silence, while poor Sammi had been in numb shock. But Mrs. Tsukino, she was in a cold rage. Harsh, bitter words to the sole survivor, and Ami just stood there and took it, knowing there was nothing she could say.
A gentle hand on the shoulder, and Mrs. Tsukino softly said, "I'm so sorry."
"No more than I am," Ami answered almost instantly.
"I know, Ami," Mrs. Tsukino said. Ami turned to look into those dark eyes as she said, "I know about Usagi being Sailor Moon, and I know about you, Sailor Mercury."
"How did.." Ami started to say, then she stopped herself. Her own mother had been able to deduce it, so there was no reason that Usagi's mother couldn't, too. "How long have you known?" she softly asked instead.
"A few years," Mrs. Tsukino looked down at the gravestone, and again Ami noticed the crescent moon engraved there. She had wondered why they had chosen it, but know she knew. The older woman softly asked, "Can you tell me what happened?"
They spoke softly under the moonlight, Ami quietly relating the battle against Fiore. Oddly, it was easier to talk about, the words coming out smoothly. She didn't make her own actions heroic, instead focusing on the aftermath, the visitations of the spirits. She also edited any mention of Chibi-Usa, unsure of how much the older woman recalled her.
"You avenged her," Mrs. Tsukino said quietly, "that means a great deal to me." She rubbed her temples as if her head pained her, "Is that little pink haired girl all right?"
"She's fine," Ami said gently.
"She was Usagi's daughter, wasn't she," Mrs. Tsukino murmured, not really expecting an answer. She looked up at Ami, "Why did she leave us like that?"
Assuming she was talking about Chibi-Usa Ami said, "The lives we lead as Senshi are very dangerous, and we can't always protect those around us."
"Maybe," the older woman acknowledged the point before continuing, "but you mustn't cut yourself off from people, either."
Ami smiled sadly, "That almost sounds like something Usagi would have said to me."
"Good," Mrs. Tsukino said quietly. She managed a weak smile, "It may take some time, but I would be honored to count you as a friend of my family again."
"I'd be honored," Ami smiled.
They talked for a little longer, both paying their respects before Ami escorted the older woman out of the graveyard. Oddly, one of the side gates was left unlocked, Mrs. Tsukino having gained entrance through there.
Ami flagged down a taxi, paying the driver and ordering him, "Escort her to her door."
"You don't need to..." Mrs. Tsukino looked surprised.
Ami shrugged, "It makes me feel better, too." She waved farewell to her, watching the taxi disappear around a curve. Curiously Ami felt better, as if talking to Usagi's mother had lightened her own burden, somehow. She strode back to her apartment, finally ready for bed.
Time passed by the metal gate to the graveyard, then an odd disturbance appeared in the air beside it. Sailor Pluto stepped out of the timestream, a wave of her staff closing the rift. She relocked the heavy gate the way it was supposed to be, then with a single thought returned the key to it's proper place and time.
"I just hope Ami doesn't discover I meddled," Sailor Pluto sighed.
Back to YFFH
On to Next Chapter
Back to Last Chapter