Disclaimer: I do not own the Shittenou/senshi or any other characters from the Sailor Moon Universe (they belong to Naoko Takeuchi and some other companies I don't feel like naming).
Dedication: To Kaze, for three reasons:
1. For trusting and honoring me to be her editor,
2. Because she encouraged me so much after just reading the preview of this story, and
3. For her birthday (12/19)
Main Characters: Ami and Zoisite
**This story is AU (Alternate Universe), and the senshi/Shittenou do not exist (they're in civilian form ^.~).
Ami Mizuno-Anderson peeked cautiously at her cousin Rei Hino, who was sitting to her right. Rei was just her age, a few months older. She had been orphaned very recently, so Ami's parents had gained legal guardianship of her. Ami, an extremely shy and quiet child, had tried to make an effort to be friendly and get to know her, but Rei was very good at being silent and unresponsive. Her form of intimidation was one of the best Ami had seen, and she had met many intimidating people in her relatively short lifespan. For some strange reason, Ami's glasses and small stature seemed to attract bullies. Rei wasn't a bully, precisely, she was merely...a bit scary.
When Rei's fathomless amethyst eyes turned her way, she quickly tucked a lock of dark hair behind her ear and pretended to be engrossed in the scenery–it wasn't very interesting; they were on a crowded, jam-packed highway, on the way to a very private beach. There was nothing for Ami to see except car after car after car...some trucks...SUVs...exhaust fumes...a boy sticking his tongue out at her...
She blinked her ocean-hued eyes, wondering if she had been imagining things–nope, traffic stopped again (her father muttered something inaudible under his breath), and the boy sitting in the backseat of the car in the lane next to them was making faces at her. He had unruly, riotous blond hair and looked to be about her age. She glared at him, but before he could respond in kind, he was shoved aside by another blonde.
This boy bore a very slight resemblance to the first one, and his hair was cut shorter. He grinned impishly at her and then pressed his face against the glass so it looked all mashed and deformed.
Ami sucked in a breath, and Rei asked just then, "What are you looking at?" She pointed, and Rei said immediately, "Ew. Boys."
Ami smiled. It look like they would get along just fine after all.
"Here's what you have to do," she proclaimed next–and promptly stuck her tongue out at the short-haired boy.
He looked very shocked and taken aback for an instance, but in the next minute, he retaliated, she communicated her reply, and the war was on between them. Ami watched in fascination as they moved on from the tongue battle to the competition of who could make the weirdest faces. As soon as she saw that the cars ahead of them were beginning to move (and the ones in the boys' lane was not), Rei stuck out her tongue one last time, smirked superiorly, and flounced back to her seat. Ami turned her attention back to the front of the car as they zoomed away. The ice between them had been broken, and pretty soon, they had struck up a conversation.
The next morning, after breakfast was served, Ami and Rei made their way to the ocean's edge excitedly–under adult supervision, of course. In the morning, the water was still a bit chilly, so they began collecting seashells that had washed up. Just as Ami was about to pick up a particularly pretty, rosy-pink shell, clouds of sand were kicked up right in front of her face, and she scrubbed frantically at her eyes to get the sand out.
When she could see again, albeit tearily, the shell was gone, and the two fair-haired boys she had seen on the highway the day before were racing around by the surf, whooping and yelling loudly. Rei was standing nearby, a sympathetic look on her face, and she held out Ami's glasses. They walked together back towards her mother, and Ami glared at the backs of the boys, sniffling.
The grains in her eyes felt scratchy and uncomfortable, and her glasses and face were dirty. She'd thought they were bad enough in another car, and if they were on the same beach, she was sure they would make her vacation miserable. Rei was right–boys were icky. They would always be mean, and loud, and they'd always pick on her because she was a four-eyes and because she was so small and skinny...but they'd always have cooties. Ami nodded in satisfaction as the trio headed back in so she could rinse her eyes out. That must be their punishment for being nasty–they were forever doomed to have cooties. She liked having justice doled out.
One morning, as they walked into the dining room, Ami's mouth fell open in horror. Her father was already there, conversing animatedly with another man, who was accompanied by a woman and two boys–two blond-haired, mischievous-looking boys who were smirking for all they were worth.
Rei was not impressed–she merely gave them her best death glare. As her aunt led them over to her uncle, she discreetly stuck her tongue out at the blue-eyed one.
Richard Anderson smiled at his wife and said, "Kira, this is Derick Coruni and his wife Aileen, and these are their two boys, Jaden and Zachary. Derick, Aileen, this is my wife, Kira, my daughter, Ami, and my niece, Rei." So the short-haired, blue-eyed boy was Jaden, and his brother, Zachary, was the one with longer hair and green eyes.
Ami and Rei said "how do you do" politely to the grown ups and then proceeded to eat in silence, ignoring their counterparts across the table, who played with the salt and pepper shakers, dropped their cutlery on the ground several times, made interesting shapes with their food, kicked each other (and sometimes the girls by accident) under the table and promptly received identical glowers from Rei and Ami (who was getting the hang of things), and were generally loud, obnoxious, and boisterous. Unfortunately for the girls, Ami's parents got along famously with the boys' parents, and it was soon arranged that the adults would take turns taking all four children to the beach together.
Aileen Coruni was feeling very harassed. She was used to dealing with her "twin terrors"–although they weren't really twins, Jaden and Zachary were so much alike and approximately the same size (Zach was a year older) that most people thought they were twins. There was many a time that she wished they weren't so similar personality-wise. The girls were no problem. They adored Aileen, and she thought they were little angels in the guise of two human girls. But for some reason, they were setting Jaden and Zachary off. They were being more prankish and rambunctious than usual, and the girls were the target of their tricks.
Most of the time, Ami was their prey. She was quieter and liable to cry, while Rei stood up for the both of them and gave as good as she got. Aileen had been shocked–she hadn't ever been able to see anyone take on both of her sons at once before. Unfortunately, poor Ami had been splashed numerous times, dragged underwater daily by the boys (Zachary was especially good at swimming and diving), snuck up on countless times, and doused with buckets upon buckets of sand and seawater dumped on her head.
Nothing was working. Aileen had scolded and punished the boys, but she hadn't the heart to do anything serious while they were on vacation and supposed to be having fun (clearly, they were having loads of fun at Ami's expense). She had made them apologize to Ami, Rei, and Ami's parents (she had become particularly good friends with Kira, and they were planning on keeping touch, since it seemed that they lived only a few hours away from each other), and fortunately, Ami's parents seemed to take for granted that this was typical childish behavior on the boys' parts.
Jaden and Zachary weren't really being bullies. They were having fun and enjoying themselves, and they were always surprised when Ami burst into tears. It wasn't that they purposely made her cry or wanted to be mean; they liked jokes. They just weren't aware of the fact that it wasn't as fun for those they teased as it was for them...
The two dark-haired girls sat a safe distance from the waves crashing onto the shore, engaged in building a sand castle. There were buckets, shovels, and shells to be used for decorating strewn around them, and they were having a wonderful time–until Zachary, being pursued by Jaden in a lively game of tag, stepped right in the middle of their nearly-completed work of art. "Oops," he managed insufficiently.
Ami watched in disbelief as its golden turrets fell before her eyes, the foundation crumbling into mere sand once more. Tears provided no outlet for her this time, and a hot, sweeping rush of anger rose in her. Fury lit her blue eyes, the same color as the sun-dappled ocean on clear days, and she stood up, clenching her fists at her sides. "I hate you!! Why do you always have to make fun of me and bother me? Why can't you just leave me alone?!"
He stared at her, too shocked to even apologize, and Jaden skidded to a rather late stop behind him, his mouth also gaping open. Aileen had come up to them just then as well, too late to salvage the situation.
Even Rei was taken aback. Patting her cousin's grimy, sand-plastered hand gently, she said, "Don't be angry, Ami. It's okay. We can make another sand castle."
"No! I don't want to make another sand castle! I want you–and you–to leave me alone!!" With that, she whirled around and ran off to a distant dune, plopping down with her back to them.
Jade nudged his brother and muttered in awe, "Never knew Mizuno-Anderson had it in her."
"Me neither," Zach managed to say, his eyes fixed on her slight figure. Turning to look at his mother, he flushed and scuffed his bare foot in the sand. "Uh...sorry, Mom."
"I don't think I'm the one you have to say sorry to, Zachary."
He gulped nervously. "What if she–what if she bites me?"
"Don't be silly!" Aileen snapped, at the end of her rope.
Her other son spoke up in agreement, "Yeah, these girls are scary. I mean, that one," he indicated Rei, "she can hit. And kick. Hard."
She smiled innocently. "I don't really think now would be a good time for them to talk to her, Aunt Aileen."
Sighing, Aileen gave her sons a remonstrating look that promised a scolding later on, and she walked over to Ami's hunched-over form.
Brushing herself off as she levered herself off the ground, Rei fixed the two boys standing before her with her violet eyes and said matter-of-factly, "Don't worry, you'll get your punishment. Ami says you'll have cooties forever 'n ever, and you deserve it."
As she walked off, she heard Jaden say, "Hey, we don't have cooties...do we?"
Zachary shrugged, a baffled look on his face. "The only thing I'm going to say is, the girls around here aren't normal. They're not like the ones back home. We'd better leave them alone for a while."
So they stayed a safe distance away from Ami and Rei for the rest of the time–and they never did apologize. While the grown-ups were talking the last day there, they stood waiting by their respective cars (which just had to be parked side by side) and stared at each other. "Well...see you, Mizuno-Anderson," Zachary said awkwardly, unsure of how one was supposed to say goodbye to a girl.
"Yeah, see you, Rei," his brother added.
Rei sniffed. "Well, I don't want to see you two again. Ever."
Glaring at them, Ami muttered, "'Bye."
Jaden and Zach exchanged looks. They wished, a bit, that they lived near Rei and Ami. They were pretty fun to tease, and Rei wasn't so bad after all (although they avoided Ami like poison now)...and they wanted to see Ami's reaction when she went home...
Ami frowned as her dad opened the trunk and handed her the little bag she had packed to take to the beach (most of her clothes and necessities were in her parents' luggage). It gave off a strong, fishy smell, much more potent that she had expected, and a feeling of trepidation came over her as she knelt down and undid the drawstring. After a few hours in the hot August sun, roasting away in the trunk...she gave a shriek when she saw her precious possessions mixed in with murky seawater, oyster and clam shells (now opened and squirming around), and mermaid's purses.
Miles away, Jaden and Zachary laughed, imagining her reception to their parting surprise, and high-fived each other.
Rei's eyes narrowed. If she ever saw them again, they'd better watch out–because this meant war.
Kira Mizuno and Richard Anderson merely exchanged slightly amused looks. Sure, Ami would have to be consoled and the bag would have to be cleaned... Kira smiled. "Remember what I said before? When boys are that age, if they tease girls, it means they like them."
"Don't go jumping to conclusions. I'm merely admiring their ingenuity."
"We'll just wait and see," Kira said serenely. "Only time will tell."
AN: Well...how was it? ^^; I apologize for any misconstrued conceptions I have of children around the age of five to seven...it's been a little while since I was that young, and I have to admit, I don't really remember what it was like ^^;; but I'm trying.
If Ami seems like a wuss now, it's because she is. ^^;; But Rei will help her open up, and she gets a backbone by the next part of the story.
The next part of the story deals with adolescent Ami meeting up with Zoi again. The story focuses mainly on them, but Rei and Jade also play principal parts, and Mina, Kunzite, Mako/Lita, Nephrite, Usa/Serena, and Mamoru/Darien will be appearing later on. Never fear, and thank you for reading!
All the best, ~Ice
*About the mermaid's purses...they're those black rectangular things that have tentacle-type things coming off at each of the four corners...they're egg cases for some type of sea creature (for some reason, I'm thinking shark).