"I wanted to apologize," Setsuna said softly not long after Ami's mother had left. The dark haired woman looked out the window, trying to avoid Ami's gaze.
Ami sighed softly. On one hand the blue haired woman was happy to see the other Outers leave the two here alone, but she would have liked to have someone here to break the silence. "I was a little surprised," Ami admitted, "hearing that you'd been asking about me."
Setsuna felt her cheeks coloring slightly. 'Next time I ask someone about Ami, I'm finding out their full names first,' she thought. She tried to regain her poise as she looked back at Ami a moment, relieved to see a bit of blush on the other girl's cheeks, the scar across her face pale. "I could have handled this better," Setsuna admitted.
"Maybe," Ami said, "but I guess we haven't had the chance to get to know each other too well, yet." She smiled gently, "I can understand you being curious."
"Thank you," Setsuna murmured, struck once again by Ami's gentle side. "Next time," she looked over at Ami wryly, "I'll just try asking you."
"Considering the amount of teasing that I just got from my mother about it, it might be a good idea," Ami said wryly.
Setsuna chuckled softly at the pained expression on Ami's face. "It's not all my fault," Setsuna protested, "I didn't realize it was your mother. And I suspect she quite intentionally decided not to enlighten me at the time."
"That's my mom," Ami agreed. She looked up at the clock and smiled slightly "I think we'd better get you home. I'll walk you back."
"You don't have to.." Setsuna started as she grabbed her coat.
"It'll make me feel better," Ami said firmly.
Ami took a moment to check in on Chibi-Usa, and had to smile to herself slightly at the sight. The little pink haired girl was curled up on her single bed, her bunny-print pink pajama's rumpled with sleep. In her arms she clutched Luna, the black cat also sleeping soundly in her grip.
"That's so sweet," Setsuna murmured, looking over Ami's shoulder.
Ami closed the door silently, "Yeah, they are." The two women walked up the hallway, slipping their shoes on by the door. "So how is Artemis adapting living over at your home?" she looked up at Setsuna curiously.
"I think it was a good idea," Setsuna quietly agreed. "He's been happier in a larger house," they went out into the hallway, Ami locking the apartment door behind them as Setsuna continued on, "and Hotaru has all but adopted him." They made their way to the elevator, then down to the lobby and out onto the street.
Their breaths puffed white in the night air, the winter chill settling down over the land as they walked down the sidewalk together. "I'm kind of happy seeing Hotaru doing something so ordinary," Ami noted. She shook her head, "After everything she went through with Mistress Nine, Hotaru's recovery has been remarkable."
"And what about your own recovery?" Setsuna asked softly. She hesitated, "I have to say that I'm impressed by how you've built an entirely new life for yourself, but..."
"But?" Ami looked up at Setsuna curiously.
"A few of your teachers have come to talk to me," Setsuna admitted, thinking that she really should be keeping what they told her confidential, "they're worried about you."
Ami picked up the speed a bit, a flash of anger evident in her voice as she said, "My course work is exemplary."
"It's not your school work that they're worried about," Setsuna caught up with her, matching the younger woman's pace.
"I know," Ami admitted softly, resuming a more normal pace. She sighed softly, "Every time a classmate wants to get close, I find myself thinking of what could happen..."
Setsuna looked down at Ami, "I'm sorry." They walked along silently for a few moments, "More than once I've wished I could go back in time, save them all."
"The problem is, it's not that simple," Ami agreed with a sigh, "all the paradoxes that are involved would prevent you." She smiled bitterly, "The grandfather paradox, or a variation."
Setsuna nodded, "Going back in time to change the event would prevent my having a reason to perform the time trip in the first place." With a slight smile on her face she added, "You know, it's nice to have someone I can talk to about this kind of thing." She paused, "At least not without their eyes glazing over."
"Haruka?" Ami guessed.
Setsuna smiled, but didn't confirm or deny that.
They passed the alley when the man leapt out at them. His brown hair was messy, his eyes glazed slightly as he clutched a heavy coat around him. In his other hand a knife wavered, gleaming silver in the lamp light.
"Give me all your money," he demanded.
Ami looked at Setsuna, who looked back at her. "Well, didn't he pick the worst possible pair of women to threaten?" Ami remarked.
The man blinked, obviously confused, "No funny business!"
"Would you like to handle him," Setsuna looked at Ami curiously, "or should I?"
"I'll take him," Ami shrugged, "I've got some bottled up anger to work out."
"Give me your money, now!" he tried to put some authority in his voice.
Ami took a half step forward then kicked out, sending the knife spiraling off into the darkness of the alley. While he stood there in shock she punched him once in the stomach, folding him forward. A final chop to the base of the head dropped him to the ground.
"You didn't even need to transform," Setsuna finally said softly.
"Makoto's final gift, I think," Ami said sadly, "I've been able to fight like that ever since she.." She shook her head, walking over to a nearby pay-phone, deposited a coin and dialed, "There's an unconscious man, a knife nearby him at the corner of.." Ami read off the address to the police dispatcher, then just hung up.
"My hero," Setsuna murmured as they walked on together.
Ami blushed slightly. She cleared her throat and changed the subject, "I'll try to keep in mind what you said, and try to be more sociable."
By the tone of Ami's voice she wasn't too enthusiastic. "When was the last time you went out to dinner?" Setsuna asked, quickly adding, "With someone other than your mother."
"It's.. been a while," Ami admitted.
Setsuna hesitated a moment, "Why don't you come over to dinner at our house, then? I'm sure Michiru wouldn't mind cooking extra, and you could bring Chibi-Usa with you."
"It's more like Chibi-Usa would bring me," Ami admitted with a slight smile. "I know Hotaru will be glad to see her, but what about Haruka?"
"She could use the reinforcements, honestly," Setsuna said firmly, "Michiru and I usually make her do all the dishes."
Ami chuckled softly. "Well, I'm not bad at washing dishes myself," she admitted. They walked up to the small house on a large lot, Setsuna opening up the door.
"I'm home," Setsuna called as she entered. Ami looked at her curiously and Setsuna softly explained, "I always warn them, ever since I walked in on them during a romantic moment."
Ami chuckled softly, "That had to have been educational." She moved to go back outside when Setsuna grabbed her arm. "Yes?"
"Would you like to warm up first?" Setsuna asked.
Ami shook her head, "I can't, I don't like to leave Chibi-Usa alone too long." At Setsuna's disappointed look she smiled, "But give me a call when you want to do this dinner, all right?"
"All right," Setsuna agreed, and Ami was out the door and gone.
To be continued....
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