"Come on in," Ami smiled to her mother as she opened up her front door. This was the first time she had invited her mother here to the apartment and she felt a little nervous.
"Thanks," Nicole smiled over at her daughter fondly. The two blue haired women walked through an almost spotlessly clean house, ending up in the kitchen where they sat down at the table. Her lips quirked in a smile, "I almost think I could do a white glove inspection."
A blush marked Ami's cheek, "It's not that bad." She made them each cups of tea, then sat down across from her mother. The doctor looked so relaxed, a poise that Ami envied just a bit.
"So any progress to report with the others?" Nicole leaned forward to ask.
Ami looked startled, then she smiled. "I forgot to tell you," she said, "I finally went over to see the Outers after we had our last little talk."
"How did it go?" her mother asked eagerly.
"A bit awkward at first," Ami admitted, "but we managed to talk." She hesitated, "They asked me to be their leader."
Nicole leaned back in her chair, looking over at her daughter thoughtfully. 'You accepted?" she asked her softly.
"Yes," Ami nodded firmly.
"Good," Nicole smiled. She looked at Ami curiously and asked, "Do you know a nurse named Setsuna Meiou?"
"Yes," Ami said softly, "why?"
"She was asking around about you at the hospital," Nicole said with a smile, "politely trying to get any gossip, I think." She gave her daughter an intent look, "Are you two involved?"
"No!" Ami blurted out.
"Too bad, she's a good looking young woman," Nicole said calmly. Ami was looking over at her in shock, and Nicole sighed to herself softly. "I wondered about you and Makoto," she said to Ami gently, "but I guess not."
If Ami's face got any brighter red, she'd probably faint. "You could have just asked," she said weakly. She shook her head firmly, "Setsuna and I are colleagues, maybe friends."
"I know you've never been comfortable with talking about this sort of thing," Nicole said to her gently. She took a drink of her tea before adding, "In some ways, I wish I had pressed you a little more about it then."
"Mom!" Ami protested.
Nicole smirked, putting her cup down. "So what are the other Outers like?" she asked.
Ami puffed out a breath, feeling a bit better that the focus wasn't so much on her anymore. "Haruka is tough, almost boyish," she said, "she comes across as almost cold, but she has a softer side, too." Ami smiled slightly, thinking bacl to the duet that she had seem Haruka and Michiru play together on violin and piano.
"Her partner Michiru.." Ami started, only to stop at a gesture from her mother.
"Partner? As in..?" Nicole raised an eyebrow.
"I don't know for sure if they're lovers," Ami admitted, "but I do think they are." She took a breath, "Michiru comes across as delicate, and she's the more feminine of the pair. But there's a core of iron in her, I think."
"And the little girl that Chibi-Usa likes?" Nicole asked.
"Hotaru," Ami smiled slightly, "in an odd way she reminds me of myself at that age. Dreadfully serious, though I think Chibi-Usa gets her to have some fun. She can be oddly intense, almost eerily insightful, then go back to being an ordinary child."
"I don't envy those girls trying to raise her," Nicole mused. She drank some more tea, "So, do you find Setsuna attractive?"
Walking in the park along with Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, Setsuna sneezed suddenly. "Excuse me," she blushed faintly, long black hair flowing over her shoulders. Dressed in casual wear, she looked comfortably sophisticated.
"That's the third time you've done that," Chibi-Usa looked up at her worriedly before the pink haired little girl added, "do you think you're getting sick?"
"It's all right, Small Lady," Setsuna smiled down at her gently, "I guess someone must be talking about me."
"Like Ami, maybe?" Hotaru offered with a grin.
A bit of a blush colored Setsuna's cheeks, "Why do you say that?"
"Probably because you've been worried about Ami from the start," Haruka noted as she walked up with Michiru, both of them carrying the cups of hot chocolate.
Michiru passed cups out to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, Haruka gave one to Setsuna, then they all walked off together. "So what's going on?" Michiru asked as the green haired young lady watched the two little girl's ran off together.
Setsuna sighed softly, feeling her friends' intense gazes on her. "I met her long before you two did," she finally said softly, "when an adversary sent enemies from the future into the past to challenge the Senshi. Even then she drew my attention, but I knew we would meet again eventually." She paused, "Then Fiore attacked..."
Haruka finally said aloud something that the sandy haired woman had expected all along, "That wasn't what was supposed to happen, was it?"
"They were meant to face Fiore," Setsuna said to them softly, "but in the timeline I knew, they weren't slain in their first battle. They recovered, and eventually defeated him."
"So history has gone off the rails," Michiru said softly. Her eyes widened, "Is that why Ami didn't sent Chibi-Usa back home?"
"I suspect so," Setsuna agreed grimly, "I do not know what might happen if we return Chibi-Usa to her era with the timelines in flux, and I don't wish to find out."
"Getting back to Ami," Haruka sipped some of her drink, "are you just attracted to her? Or is this something more serious?"
"Subtle," Michiru noted, and Haruka shrugged.
"I don't know," Setsuna softly confessed. She smiled wryly, "I'd like to get to know her better, but she's do damn unapproachable."
"She is opening up a bit," Haruka offered, "but I think it'll just be a matter of time."
Setsuna gave her a look, "Was that intentional?" Haruka smirked, and Setsuna sighed.
"Speaking of time," a smiling Michiru offered, "it's probably nearly time we brought Chibi-Usa back to Ami's apartment."
They all left the park, collecting a cheerful Chibi-Usa and Hotaru and walked back to the apartment building. The intercom buzzed, and they heard Ami's voice come through, "Come on up, my guest wants to meet you."
"Who's the guest?" Haruka asked softly.
"Guess we'll find out," Setsuna murmured back softly.
They walked inside together, taking off their shoes at the door. They heard quiet talking in the kitchen, and the five of them made their way towards the voices. They saw Ami sitting in the kitchen first, then nearby her an older woman with the same distinctive blue hair.
"Haruka, Michiru, Setsuna and Hotaru," Ami pointed each one out subtlely, "I'd like you all to meet my mother, Nicole Mizuno."
Nicole shook hands, murmuring greetings. Once she reached Setsuna she smiled slightly, "I believe we met back at the hospital."
Setsuna looked visibly pale under the woman's amused gaze, "Yes, we did." She smiled ruefully, "I just wish you had been wearing a name tag or something."
"I was on break," Nicole shrugged.
To be continued…
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