By Hokushi





           “Hold on just a second, Makoto,” she said to Shinosaki’s daughter. She ran into the room and grabbed her communicator. “Yeah, what is it?”

           Usagi’s voice came on. Her answer was short and quick, rushed and urgent. “Youma, Juuban Junior High!”  Usagi’s side was filled with the clamor of battle. From the sounds, it would seem like most of the Senshi is already there. The connection went dead.

           Fear gripped Makoto’s soul as her hand clutched the communicator and ran back out to the living room and cursed once more remember Shinosaki’s daughter. How do you tell a four year old you have to go kick some youma ass and leave her alone for at least half an hour?  Conscience told her she couldn’t possibly leave the child alone.

           “Hey uh… Makoto. I have to do something, so I’m going to take you to a friend of mine for just a short while okay?” Little Makoto didn’t reply but only nodded hesitantly. Makoto took her over to the apartment next to hers, where a woman not much older than herself lived. After thanking her profusely, Makoto ran off to Juuban Junior High School. She stopped by an empty corner and quickly transformed, jumping up to the rooftops, making a direct beeline towards the school.

           It was mess; that much was sure. The battle had already wrecked a half of one of the school buildings, and the outside surrounding was completely ravaged; trees torn from roots, ground burned and slightly stained with blood. The youma lately have begun to be more destructive, violent. Looking around, she spotted Senshi Moon and soon the others. No youma. Usagi’s knee was badly scraped and she was favoring her left arm also. Senshi Mars looked fine except for a few visible bruises. Then, Makoto noticed that her breathing was labored as if she wasn’t trying to inhale air. Makoto felt the darkness consume her as anger left her trembling and her fingers itching for action. Shallow breathing suggested to her a broken rib. Senshi Venus was bent over slightly capturing her breath, though she looked as well as well can be at the moment. Senshi Mercury was kneeling down next to her, obviously fatigued, but otherwise unharmed.

           Ami suddenly looked up and caught sight of Senshi Jupiter. A smile spread on her face and she exclaimed “Jupiter” aloud. The others turned their heads in Makoto’s direction.

           Jupiter jumped off the rooftop and landed neatly on the ground. Guilt mixed with anger. If only she had ran a little faster…or… Mercury’s face twisted; Makoto noticed and furrowed a brow. Ami was looking past her. Instinctively, Jupiter leapt to clear ground while twisting her body around to fire off a small blast of lightning at the hulking youma that had appeared out of nowhere. She grimaced at she landed heavily on the ground and slid to a stop. White fire shot up her shoulder blades at the painful impact. Ami was over her in an instant and helped her up.

           Venus jumped up and attacked with a new vigor. She had a chain wrapped tightly about its neck as Mars readied a fire arrow. The youma broke free before Mars was done and whirled an arm in Venus’ direction. She dove out of the way.

           The youma was ugly. There’s not much more to say, except that its features left a lot to the imagination. It had appendages sticking out resembling arms and legs.

           Jupiter broke from Mercury’s stabling hand and charged at the youma, halting at a short distance from it. She took some time to gather energy for an oak evolution. Ami saw this and took the time to distract the youma by tossing an aqua rhapsody at it. Makoto took note of the youma virtually frozen to the ground and writhing in pain when the attack hit it.

           “Oak Evolution!” The attack sent the youma flying into a wall of a building. It stood up again and Makoto cursed heavily. All five of them now stood close in a group. “Sorry I wasn’t here earlier,” Makoto muttered.

           “Don’t worry about that now, Jupiter,” Senshi Moon commanded.

           “So… how do we kill this thing?” Rei asked, though she knew that each one had no idea how. Jupiter stepped up. She looked at Venus who took a step up beside her.

           “One last round before you go?”

           “Of course! I have to make this good. Who knows how long it’ll be for the next time I get to fight a youma and save the world.”

           “You’re sounding like me,” Makoto stated. Minako grinned.

           Makoto narrowed her eyes, watching carefully its movements to predict its actions. “Ami…”she murmured. “You’re his weakness.” Mercury nodded to show Jupiter she heard. “The thing is, it knows us. I’m sure you’ve all attacked it before. We need to get through his defense.”

           “Jupiter,” Mars said. “When I attacked it earlier, I noticed it has a slow reaction against multiple attackers. It’s like it can’t process the multiple movements-” She was interrupted when the youma suddenly charged in, seeing five easy prey. Mars leapt away, grimacing and clutching at her ribs. “Get around it! Make a ring!”

           “And attack it!” Venus cried.

           “Venus, try to grab a hold of it with your chain after it looks pretty beat. Then Mercury, you know what to do,” Makoto yelled. “Usagi, finish it off.”

           Venus did as she was told. At the same time Mars fired an arrow. The youma, being distracted by the arrow was caught in the clutches of Venus’ chain. “Mercury!” Venus cried. Makoto saw the youma’s attack before Mercury, who was busy concentrating on an attack. The cry of alarm died in her throat, but she heard faintly Usagi’s warning. Mercury got hit and landed on the ground hard. The youma broke Venus’ chain.

           “Damn it! Die already!” Makoto screamed in anger. She dashed headlong into its tangible chest and wrestled it to the ground.

           “Jupiter!” Usagi cried in horror at her senshi’s savage, almost insane behavior, as the tall soldier beat the youma repeatedly on its head. The youma threw Jupiter off as if she were nothing. The next thing it knew, a large gaping hole appeared in the middle of its head, courtesy of Mars. Mercury picked herself off the ground and gave the youma a good piece of her mind. In its frozen state Senshi Moon and Venus vanquished it.

           “Good job guys,” Minako commented cheerfully. Their other personas faded away and were replaced by five young women. “Damn. My plane leaves in a few hours.” Her voice was sad, but held anxiety to see what her future will bring. “Anyone want to escort me to the airport?”

           Usagi smiled, “Of course we all do!”

           Makoto cursed. “You guys go on ahead. I’ll meet you there.”

           “What for? Why?”

           “I’m taking care of Shinosaki’s daughter. She’s with my neighbor now. If I don’t get back soon…well, it doesn’t speak much of me does it? I’m sorry you guys. See you soon.” Makoto turned the opposite direction. She saw Minako, Usagi and Rei pile into a taxi. She didn’t see a blue head from her angle.

           “Looking for someone?” a jocular voice came from beside her vision.

           Makoto turned and saw Ami with a look of surprise. “Not anymore, Ami. So why are you stalking me?”

           Ami halted, stunned. She began stuttering, “W-w-what? I’m n-not stalking anyone.”

           “Stalker, stalker,” Makoto returned blithely.

           Ami frowned. “I just wanted to come along, to keep you from killing the poor kid.” Makoto grinned.

           “I may be an Amazon, but I am not a savage like you.” She laughed. “Come on, walk faster.” Ami worked diligently to match Makoto’s longer strides and fast pace. 

           “That savage joke is never going to stop is it?”

           “Not so long as I can help it.” Ami frowned and sigh resignedly.

           Thinking of an easy conversation topic, Ami asked about Shinosaki’s daughter. It was a moment before Ami received an answer.

           “She’s… quiet. I’ve only met her for less than ten minutes before the call came. So there’s not much to say. Description-wise, she looks a lot like Shinosaki. But I don’t know how his wife looks like. She has his eyes, his nose, definitely not his face. Her name’s Makoto,” she stated proudly. “She looks quite small for her age, but I can tell she’s a little fighter.

           “I have a feeling she doesn’t like me that much. Hasn’t said a word to me. Not even a ‘hello’. Well, just a ‘hello’ and ‘good day’. But that’s it. No asking for a cookie, or asking to watch television like most children. She’s really quiet, probably the spitting image of Mizuno Ami when she was a young child.”

           “I wasn’t recluse you know. I did have friends.”

           “You mean a friend.”

           “Yeah, Yuuhi.” A silence swept over them like a night blanket. “Sorry,” ashamed, Ami finally whispered.

           Makoto waved it off. “It’s all right. I’m over him. I was just…thinking of the times when I thought he really cared.” Makoto sniffed the sharp air and pulled her jacket closer about herself. It was nearing the heart of winter and the temperatures have already dropped. Ami slowed her pace a little; she did not really believing Makoto was over Yuuhi, or her many other ‘sempai’. “Come on Ami, you’re slowing down. It’s really getting a bit colder and my ears are protesting.” Makoto chuckled.

           Ami sped up until she was right next to Makoto. She pressed in against Makoto. It was a bit cold after all. Ami received no indication of Makoto protesting the movement or any show of discomfort. They walked in sync with each other’s pace all the way back to Makoto’s apartment.

           Makoto knocked on her neighbor’s door and was promptly answered. They greeted Makoto’s neighbor and was asked to come in. They declined saying they had to go somewhere soon.

           “I hope she wasn’t much trouble.”

           “Oh, no, no trouble at all. She was absolutely perfect. I didn’t know you had a child Makoto-san. I can see the resemblance between you two.”  Makoto blanched at the statement.

           “No, no,” Makoto said, embarrassed. “She’s not mine, she belongs to a friend of mine. I’m taking care of her today. I’m sorry about the intrusion.” Makoto felt Ami tug on her sleeve. She glanced at her watch. “We must be leaving now. Thank you again.”

           Makoto asked Ami and little Makoto to wait while she went inside her apartment to get the good luck gift for Minako she had bought the day before. The thought of going to the airport had already set her hands trembling. “Calm yourself,” she whispered. “Airplanes take off everyday and come back safe everyday.” She swallowed bitterly. And yet, they chose to take away my parents.

           Grimly, she plastered on a smile and locked the door behind her to the waiting Ami and little Makoto. Little Makoto had a bored “I don’t care” expression on her face. Makoto smirked. “Let’s go, shall we?” Makoto forced out dryly. Ami sensed her friend’s nervousness well and wished there was something she could do. She, along with the others, knew of Makoto’s intense fear of airplanes, caused by her parents’ untimely deaths in a crash years ago.

           “So…Makoto-chan, have you ever been to an airport before?” Makoto asked quietly. The best way to conquer a fear, as she was taught, was to talk about it and experience. It was a lot harder than first perceived.

           The girl shook her head. Ami smiled, “What do you like, Makoto-chan?” Makoto silently grinned- Mako-chan was the term of endearment that her friends use to call her. And she wasn’t about to let that taken away by a little kid, friend or not.

           “What do you mean?” little Makoto spoke in a childish lure of slightly broken words and mixed up syllables, but her voice conveyed a depth that is rarely seen in the world nowadays.

           “What do you like…as in things. Or people. Or food.”

           “Things and food is the same thing, aren’t they?”

            Ami raised a brow and shrugged. “Well? Do you like ice cream? Maybe we can go get some later. Does that sound good?” Little Makoto nodded. On the street, they hailed a cab and asked the driver for Tokyo Narita Airport.

           Makoto’s heart jumped as they neared the airport and heard the roar of the jet engines. Though they weren’t loud being thirty five thousand feet up, the sound rang in her ears and she could imagine the screams of hundreds as a plane plummeted towards the earth, her parents’ included. With a vice-like grip she clutched onto the door handle of the taxi and looked away from the window. At the same time, little Makoto looked at her funny. Makoto asked the driver to turn on the radio. And barked out the order a second time when he failed to comply. Little Makoto drew back deeper into her seat out of fear. Ami reached out a hand and took Makoto’s free one into hers and squeezed it affectionately, lending her courage and strength, telling Makoto to not be afraid. And that it was okay.

           Shinosaki’s daughter watched the exchange in earnest interest. She understood this affection of love; her daddy shows the same affection for her mommy. She knew this. Little Makoto smiled. Her daddy won’t show the same for this woman, because she had Ami. No body was going to take her daddy from her mommy. Her heart much relieved, she now can stop being so hostile to Makoto now.

           Makoto seemed to calm after Ami had took her hand. She like such a child, having to have her hand held before crossing the street. With the thought, she withdrew her hand and placed it on her lap, clutching her pants and listening deeper into the music to drown out the jet engines and the screams. The screaming… She realized only too late that she had offended Ami even in the slightest way.

           Ami looked at Makoto with confusion and hurt. She turned to look out the window. Makoto needs her space. Little Makoto saw that too and then rested her head on Makoto’s lap, breaking the tension and pulling Makoto from her thoughts.

           “Makoto-san…is it all right if I go to sleep?”

           “Yeah…sure,” Makoto answered dazedly. She glanced at Ami, momentarily forgetting her fears at the child’s irrational behavior. It seemed as if all of a sudden Shinosaki’s daughter accepted her and wanted to be friends, so unlike the sullen girl she was before. Ami looked back and smiled. A lovely picture, Ami thought. A portrait of a family…almost.

           Makoto looked down at the girl on her lap and smiled, mind completely off the subject of her nightmares for over a decade. Shinosaki’s daughter fell asleep quickly. Ami sat back, thinking finally some quiet time with Makoto. Through the duration of the ride, they sat in a comfortable silence and the driver was allowed to turn the volume of the radio down.

           The soft music drifted throughout the taxi and created a warm atmosphere. The last few lines of the song currently playing caught her attention with its lyrics:

Risuku ga aru kara koso tatakau hodo ni tsuyoku naru no sa
Osorenai nan te muri
Oh baby, can't you see
Matsu no wa tokui ja nai kedo
Kimetsukeru no wa hayasugirun da uranai nan te
Shinjitari shinai de
So baby, wait and see
Iyasenai kizu nan te nai
Risuku ga aru kara koso ai suru hodo ni setsunai no ka na
Sonna ni waruku wa nai

There are risks, of course, and soon you will be strong enough to fight
Strong, perhaps, but sure not worry-free
Oh baby, can't you see
That simply waiting is not special, but to be
Scolding everyone is way too fast a way to tell a fortune, you know
So don't believe it when you go
So baby, wait and see
It's not a wound that you could not heal, I can see
And of course the risks are there, and risks so painful that you'll love me
So like that it's not quite as bad, you see


           I hope you are listening to this Mako-chan… Wait and see… sure. I can’t wait forever. Take this risk for me…and I’ll do the same for you. Ami closed her eyes and listened, memorizing.

           Somebody was shaking her. She opened her eyes, figures blurry around. Ami realized she had fallen asleep and Makoto was now waking her up. There were two faces in front of her, both very close. She saw little Makoto crack into a smile as Ami finally awoke.

           “Took you a while there,” her tall friend commented. “Come on, Minako’s plane won’t wait for us. Hurry!” It was only a moment before Makoto would have grabbed Ami’s hand and dragged her all the way to Minako’s gate. Makoto paid the taxi driver and allowed Ami to make her way through the airport, little Makoto between the two. Ami fell back slightly sensing Makoto’s discomfort and tenseness.

           Makoto began to speak. “I haven’t been here for…oh, well, twelve years was it? It’s a lot bigger than I remembered, that’s for sure. I remember the first time…it was with mom and dad… I didn’t realize it at first…Oh look! There’s Minako and I hear Usagi!” Makoto pointed to a slight figure with blonde hair. Ami squinted and saw that Usagi was squeezing the life out of Minako.

           “Hey, it’s Ami and Makoto,” Rei pointed out.

           Usagi squealed. “I almost thought you guys had forgotten!” Minako walked forward with the same grace that made her noticed by the modeling companies.

           “And who is this?” Minako asked curiously about Shinosaki’s daughter and kneeled down in front of her. “Hey kid, what’s your name?”

           Little Makoto frowned at her and lilted her head to the side. Deciding she like this blonde, she leaned forward and whispered her name into Minako’s ear. Minako grinned and began to giggle wildly. “So! Makoto eh? Little Makoto-chan! This will bring about a problem!” Minako stood, still smiling.

           “So…when does your flight leave Mina-chan?”

           “Soon. Too soon, my friends,” her voice turned softer. “It’s going to feel odd, to not be called Mina-chan anymore. Or even Aino-san, or something of the like.” Her words began to falter, though a small smile still lit her face. “I don’t think there will ever be a place like here, Tokyo; here, home.” She laughed, “I’ll even miss the youmas and I’ll especially miss kicking their butts.”

           “Yeah,” Rei said. “But I’m sure they won’t miss you.”

           Tears had run rivulets from Usagi’s eyes and down her cheeks. But she was smiling, happy for her friend who will make a dream come true. Mamoru had an arm around Usagi and wished Minako well. Rei gave Minako a hug and made sure the blonde called them when she got there. Tears had begun to flow in between that time. “We’ll miss you, Ditz.”

           “Hey! Who’s got the better job?” Minako smirked. Minako stepped up to Ami and hugged her, Ami giving Minako advice on living alone and being careful with money and careful of the people she will meet.

           “Have fun, Minako,” Ami said.

           “Yeah, you too! I can’t believe you of all people are telling me to have fun!”

           Makoto, being next to Ami, gave Minako a big hug and told her not to forget them and be safe. “Watch out for French chefs,” Makoto winked. “They love themselves more than they love blondes. I’m just kidding.”

           Minako tried and failed miserably to contain her laughs and tears. Usagi ran and gave her friend a bear hug, looking as if she would never let go. “I’ll have nobody to trade places with anymore! Blondes are a rarity here! And I’ll have nobody to be the butt of jokes with….”

           “Usagi, it’s just a three year contract. Plus I get paid vacations! I’ll visit often!” Minako leaned closer and made sure nobody outside their inner circle can hear. “I have a duty to come back and protect my King and Queen.”

           The boarding call for Minako’s flight rang on the PA system, reverberating throughout the airport. Minako took a deep breath. Here’s to my future and stardom!

             Minako picked up her bags and turned, “Ittekimasu.” I’ll be back.

           “Itterashai!!” They chorused. Please return!

“Bye bye, Aino-san!” Little Makoto shouted.

 Minako walked backwards a few steps, waved- they waved back- and turned around and head through her terminal. As she did so, she wondered how long it would truly be before she saw her friends- no, family- again. She had lost contact with her own parents since she graduated high school. It wasn’t much of a loss to her. Minako had wanted to break free… and so she flew on the wings of eagles.


“Do you still want ice cream, Makoto-chan?” The girl nodded her head vigorously. Her eyes alight in delight. The three of them was nearing Crown Arcade and Fruit Parlor anyway. Makoto pushed open the door and was welcomed by the warm sound of gently tinkling bells. She had missed this place. It’s been a while since she stepped foot here. Motoki no longer worked there. He got accepted into a fine university with a notable business department. In his stead was a young woman just out of high school, working to pay for college. She was nice, upbeat and friendly with customers. Old patrons of Crown welcomed the woman who took over Motoki, although his departure left many girls in dismay.

“Hey Mikan-chan!” Makoto greeted the girl that had taken over Motoki’s place. “How are things?”

“Going great, Kino-san! Business is well. So what can I get you?”

“An ice cream sundae for me, and Ami?”

“Nothing, but thanks for asking.”

“How about you, Makoto-chan?”

The little girl contemplated for a short while before asking, “I can have anything I want?”

           Startled by the question, Makoto dully nodded. “Yeah, sure, as long as it is not anything over the amount I have in my wallet.” Makoto chuckled. She had always had to be careful how she spent her money, now the amount of money she had wasn’t a major issue. She had managed to earn and save enough to fare pretty well in life now. But, now that she got enrolled into Le Cordon Bleu, caution was still exhibited. At least, she had always thought, it wasn’t as bad as before. Besides, there’s always money to spare for a little treat here and there.

           “Hmm… Can I have an ice cream sundae too? With a cherry, please?”

           Makoto laughed. “Yeah and that. Thanks Mikan-chan.”

           They took their seats in a nearby empty booth for only a moment before Little Makoto ran off towards the arcade.

           “Wait,” Makoto called as she dug into her pocket. “You’ll need these.” She placed a handful of coins into the girl’s hand.

           The child ran off. Makoto followed and helped the struggling girl up a seat, placed a few coins in and help her get started. Makoto watched in wonder as the four-year-old mind the game, albeit a simple one. Ami was impressed also. What did Shinosaki do to this child so that her mind was so well developed even for one so young?

           Mikan came around with the ice cream sundaes on a tray. “Makoto-san,” she said, “that’ll be 700. Thank you.”

           “Come on Makoto.”

           “One more, please?”

           “Okay,” Makoto grinned, “I’m just going to let Ami eat your ice cream…” Little Makoto was sitting in the booth before they even reached it. “Thought so. Eat up!” She caught Ami glancing at her and then the sundae. She grinned. “Isn’t this good, Makoto-chan?”

           The little girl nodded vigorously while at the same time trying to keep all the ice cream in her mouth and not out and around. Makoto grabbed a napkin and wiped off the smear of ice cream around the girl’s mouth.

           “You know Ami, it’s too bad you didn’t order one.” Makoto looked at Ami. “You want some of mine?” Ami shook her head. “You know you want some.” Makoto grabbed another spoon and scooped up some ice cream, “here”, and shoved the spoon in Ami’s face. Ami flushed scarlet as Makoto waved the spoon in front of her mouth and Little Makoto started to giggle. She was forced to allow Makoto feed her, lest Makoto continue to wave a spoonful of ice cream sundae in her face.

           “What?” Makoto asked when her little charge’s laughter grew. “You’ve never seen someone feed before?”

           Little Makoto just continued to laugh and almost choked on her own spoonful of the dessert. Makoto pushed her bowl to the center of the table and handed the spoon to Ami. Reluctantly, Ami dug in also.

           A small commotion interrupted their quiet jesting and conversation. Mikan’s pleading voice drifted to their ears. “Stop it. Please don’t do that. This is a dining establishment and you are disturbing our customers- oh no! I didn’t…” There was a low grumbling. “I am sorry, but you do that again, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

           “No. I’ll leave if you can make me.”

           Makoto stood and saw a young man staring defiantly at Mikan. She sighed. “Young men these days are getting brash.

           “Leave her alone,” Makoto walked up and stated loudly with authority. The boy glared at her with distaste.

           “What’s your problem? This is between me and her.”

           “You. You are my problem. She’s my friend and I’m going to spare you some pain by asking you to leave.” Makoto shoved her face in front of the boy’s and they glared intensely at each other, neither backing down.

           “Makoto-san, no, it’s really all right. I can handle it.” Mikan swallowed nervously, remembering about the rumors surrounding Makoto when she was younger. And the boy looked belligerent enough as it is.

           “Shut up,” the boy snarled at Mikan. “You want a fight?” 

            “Are you looking for one? I surely hope you aren’t. Just, please, leave as the she told you to.”

           The boy’s eyes narrowed and shoved Mikan to see if Makoto would dare back up her suggested threats. She took a step back so she would not fall over and before he knew it, the boy was dangling a foot from the ground, Makoto’s fist bunched around his shirt. Her eyes were narrow slits and her teeth were almost bared like a dog, a low growl in her throat. “Out.” This time, the boy was glad to nod. He was dropped on his feet and scrambled out the door.

           “Thank you, Makoto-san...but…”

           “Don’t worry, I’ll leave. I don’t want to scare away all of your customers. Good day, Mikan-chan.” She grinned as she strolled out the door, leaning against a wall outside waiting for Ami and Little Makoto to finish eating her ice cream. She sighed.

           They came out twenty minutes later conversing animatedly much to Makoto’s dismay. “Thanks for making me wait here so long.” Ami laughed.

           “That’s what you get for picking fights again,” Ami said haughtily. “You had me worried. We’re kind of getting old for these childish attitudes.” Ami moved her hand from behind her back, “here. A present.” She held out a small cup of ice cream. Makoto smiled and took it.

           “Thanks, Ami.”

           They decided that the weather was nice enough for them to walk home and hoped that it would continue to be kind. Halfway through, little Makoto asked to be carried home. Makoto sighed and effortlessly heaved the child onto her back much to Ami’s amusement.

           With the little girl asleep on Makoto’s back, Ami walked a little closer to her friend. “Hey you,” she whispered.

           “Hello, Ami,” Makoto whispered back comfortably.

           “How are you doing?”

           “Tired. She weighs a ton, though she doesn’t look it.” Makoto smiled. “I’ve been wondering… Did you get that internship you got sick over?” Makoto would still bother Ami about that as a warning to her to not study so voraciously.

           Ami looked thoughtful for a moment before she shook her head. “No. They gave it to another boy, who didn’t get sick over it,” Ami smiled. “But that’s all right. Next year maybe.”

           “Are you…okay about it? Isn’t this like Mizuno Ami’s first major...failure?”

           Ami laughed. “Well, I don’t really look at this as failing. Not really anyway. It’s more like taking second place but you’re not last. But not first either.”

           Makoto shook her head. “Don’t worry Ami, I can sense that sound of defeat you always get, and let me assure you that you are always number one to us.” Ami slowed her pace.

           “I’m not defeated,” she shot indignantly. “At least I will get more time for studying than that boy.”

           “Do you know his name?”

           “No…no, I don’t.”

           “For his safety, good.” Makoto stated bluntly. Then she suddenly smiled as Ami blanched and frowned disapprovingly at her. “I’m just kidding. Just a little humor.” She laughed gently while changing her hold on little Makoto. “And she’s the one who wanted to walk home,” Makoto muttered in reference to her load. “And who’s doing all the walking? Me.”

           “Oh, don’t be so bitter.”

           “I’m not.”

           Ami smirked. “Sure…”

           “Are you following me home, Mizuno Ami?”

           “Yeah, sure.”


           “Uh huh…”

           There was silence for almost the rest of the way back to Makoto’s apartment. 



           There was a long pause as Ami battled herself. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something.” Makoto prodded her gently. “Well… It is…that hard to love me?” Ami didn’t notice at first that Makoto’s footsteps began to fade until it stopped all at once. Ami turned around to see Makoto standing there, not knowing what to say, completely speechless. Again she shifted her hold on Shinosaki’s daughter. Slowly, Makoto walked closer to Ami. She shook her sadly and continued to walk home. Ami followed quietly behind. She had a lot to think about.

           Sighing heavily as she placed little Makoto gently under the covers of her bed, Makoto winced as her shoulders started to ache from the disappearance of the burden that was once on them. “Good night, kid.” She patted the child gently on the forehead before pulling the covers close about the girl’s shoulders. She yawned and walked out of the room, looking back once. Shinosaki would come by later in the morning to pick her up, thinking it would be better for her to spend a night at Makoto’s. It would give him time with his wife and time to make plans for the future…

           Ami was still standing by the doorway, looking like a shy, uncomfortable girl waiting at the house of a stranger. As soon as Makoto’s presence was known, Ami asked her, “What was that?”

           “What was what?”

           “That shake of your head when I asked you that question.” Makoto felt apprehensive at Ami’s tone of voice. It was almost sharp and demanding.

           Makoto smiled loosely. “No.” Ami gave her a confused glance. No? “No. I was saying ‘no, it’s not hard to love you at all’. It’s too easy in fact, Lovable Ami. But your question is why.”

           “Yes. Why? then.”

           Makoto’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Trust me I’m trying. But I’m so damned scared. I’m scared, Ami,” Makoto laughed hoarsely, disbelieving. Ami looked at her friend, not knowing what to do. Makoto became serious. “Ami…”

           “Scared about what?” Ami’s tone softened.

           “Scared that you’ll leave once we get close. Scared that I’ll do something to hurt you.” Makoto sighed. “I’ve had my heart broken so many times I should be numb from the pain. I shouldn’t even be feeling pain, or love or anger or whatever.” Makoto walked into the kitchen, Ami following silently as her friend continued ranting. Makoto put some water in the pot on the stove to boil. “I want to, but I’m scared to love again. And I know that…no… I care for you so much. I don’t want you to be hurt.”

           “You’re hurting me by telling me this.”

           Makoto choked and sighed heavily again. Guilt began to eat and her and wash out her insides as she felt a sickening feeling in her stomach. “I’m sorry…” Again.

           “But…”Ami spoke again. “No. With you standing so close and yet so untouchable…it makes me hurt, Mako-chan.” The next thing she knew, strong arms embraced her.

           “Goodness, you’re so emotional,” Makoto said lightly. Her voice was filled with tenderness and sorrow. “I’m not that untouchable. You make me sound like…I don’t know.” Makoto chuckled slightly.

           “Is this all a joking matter to you?”

           “No. It’s not exactly an easy matter either.” Makoto hugged Ami close to her chest. Ami did not object. Ami could feel Makoto’s heart beat fast. “I’m sorry Ami.” Suddenly, without foreknowledge, Makoto kissed Ami gently on her cheek. For fleeting moment, Ami’s heart stopped beating and resumed when Makoto’s voice interrupted her ethereal moment. “Are you staying for dinner?”

           At that, Ami broke off and stuttered, “Uh…no. We…uh, my mom and I, we made plans…for dinner. Sorry, Mako-chan. Maybe some other time.” Ami shuffled her feet nervously. She glanced at the clock in Makoto’s apartment.

           “Oh, look. I’m going to be late.” She grabbed her jacket from the coat rack that stood near the door. Makoto opened the door for her. Ami paused at the doorway and looked Makoto in the eyes. “I had fun. I’ll see you later Makoto.” She smiled and closed the door behind her. When she turned at the end of the hallway she began to run to the stairs past the elevators, taking two steps down at a time. She didn’t know whether she was happy or sad. Ami felt that she was both. A kiss! On the cheek…but, hey! Ami felt like the young schoolgirl that she never was.

           Without knowing it, Makoto had given Ami a bittersweet taste of her heaven at that moment. And Ami wanted more.




End part II


Sorry guys…I think I’m beginning to feel that big block that all writers are scared of, drop into the thought processes of my brain…uh oh…

Not much happening huh…? Any suggestions to remove that block?


This chapter ended way shorter than I intended and it ended not exactly the way I wanted but…. Yeah, blame it on the block. ‘Til next chapter!


Completed: 28 June 2002


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