A/N: … Really, I never thought I'd be writing this again. It's been years since I seriously wrote Sailor Moon fanfic, and yet, here I am.
I'll also be writing HP like I've been doing for the last few years, but currently, I'm on a slight break from it, due to reasons that would be pointless to go into right here. I'm sure I'll be done with that soon enough.
I never thought I'd be writing this again. But… yeah. Ami/Zoisite. One-shot. Probably rather different from my old work, since it's been years and my writing has changed, for better or worse. But enough rambling on my part.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, etc. etc.
She goes through the motions and is mostly content, because there isn't really anything for her to be unhappy over. She's young and the world is a bright, beautiful place that glitters in the silver light of the moon and sparkles even more brilliantly in the sun. She is admired and at peace and glad of her role in the world's newfound glory. It is no longer every other day that she needs to wear a short blue skirt and tall blue boots and a visor.
She smiles back when her friends smile at her, and stays awake o'nights perhaps out of habit. It was, after all, the scholarly thing to do when she was a little girl, poring over poetry and equations, drinking in the knowledge like water. And then, after a meeting with a black cat with too-human eyes and a strange mark on its forehead, it had been necessity. Youma weren't known for their good timing.
But now, there is no need, and she still finds herself restless. A vague sense of something missing, though the rational side of her would always insist that there wasn't anything else that she needed. She had the best friends that a girl could have- sisters in heart if not in blood. Beauty and power and success, and even a few admirers. Perhaps it is the niggling feeling that no one outside of those select few could possibly understand what it was like- the hesitation to open herself up, for fear of being hurt, of being rejected. Or of being worshipped.
Maybe something needs to be let out... but she wasn't sure what.
And then there were the elusive memories of a time in the past. Green eyes and features that were almost too beautifully delicate, and the quirk of pale lips when he smiled. The warmth of his fingers over hers over a volume of ancient lore. Checkmate. A kiss by a fountain in another world. She had cried when they were returned to her, after his second death, and so had the other girls. In the second birth, they had not been so lucky, and there had been no recognition in his eyes from the time they met again to the time he died again. It was only afterwards, after Beryl had been defeated, that they all received memories of the first birth and the love... and the hate and betrayal of the first death. It was just as well.
But she had stopped crying over that long ago. Mizuno Ami was a sensible woman, and the most level-headed of the inner senshi. Her head triumphed over her heart in nine times out of ten. She had made peace, and forgiven... but it was not forgotten.
She shut her wandering thoughts off as best as she could and made her impassive-seeming way out of the royal-blue rooms. It was foggy and just starting to drizzle when she stepped outside into the soft, silent night.
It wasn't easy, coming back. To this day, despite the intelligence for which he was known, he wasn't quite sure how it had happened. The memories returned, in bits and trickles, and to piece them all together in itself was a task that took years. And then after it was done, he almost wished that it could be undone.
Because then, there wouldn't be nightmares of blood and betrayal, and haunting images of blue eyes brimming with tears that she was too proud to shed in front of a traitor. Then there wouldn't be the guilt, and the mad, pointless yearning. He smiled humourlessly as he glanced at the crystal and obsidian chess set on the desk. He'd nearly bitten Jadeite's head off when the latter had bought it, a lucky find for a cheap price at an antique shop.
He hadn't wanted something else to remind him.
Oh, he knew where she was, nowadays. The healer of the palace, who wandered out now and then to visit the public. In the myths of old, Mercury WAS the messenger, after all. He'd seen glimpses of her now and then, always with her back turned. A flash of navy hair in a bookstore. A slender, blue-clad back in the park, next to the lake. He had no idea if she remembered... and he wasn't sure if he wanted her to.
Endymion had been magnanimous, and the four of them lived together in an opulent house on the outskirts. They even had their work- mostly involved with city security. It was more than they deserved, but Zoisite realized quite well that in that situation, they would not come in too-close contact with the royal family. It might have been Endymion's intention as well.
The sky outside is not starry, and the slender crescent moon is obscured by clouds. Zoisite peers through the parting of the drapes, and smiles ruefully. Two thousand and two years ago, on this very same day, he had asked the love of all his lifetimes to marry him. A week later, he'd been taken by the dark forces.
And a month after that, they had died in each other's arms, each with the blood of the other staining his or her fingers.
Now-pained green eyes clench shut as the memory returned. The chillingly sardonic laughter that he barely recognized as his own, and the tears in her eyes that were replaced by cold, hard ice. He had bent down, after pushing a shard of razor-sharp ice through her stomach, and mockingly kissed the cooling, bloodied lips, and it was then that she reached up a weakening hand to his head as though to caress his hair, and whispered her final attack. He didn't have time to be surprised before it hit, and then all he felt was cold.
Maybe something needs to be let out. Suddenly desperate for an escape from the room, the abruptly too-stifling house, he makes far too much noise as he runs down the stairs, ignores Kunzite's muffled and irritated "Go to sleep and stop stomping about!" coming from the first room in the hall, and leaves the house a moment later. He barely remembers to lock the door behind him.
He visits the cafe that serves simple variations of coffee and cappuccino, without the pretentious names or hyped-up prices, open twenty-four hours. It's not far from his house, and perhaps there, he would find something else to focus on. It wouldn't be the first time that he would encounter someone who had taken some celebration or another too far, almost too drunk to stand. Or perhaps even one of the younger college students, cramming for a paper or exam. Something else.
And yet, the first thing that his eyes are drawn to is a head of short, distinctly blue hair.
Perhaps it is the shock of it that prevents him from fleeing, that holds him frozen in place as surely as an ice attack. It is enough. She turns after accepting her coffee, and blue eyes meet and lock with green.
And then she yelps in pain as the coffee spills on her legs, scalding through her slacks, the cup fallen from nerveless fingers.
Zoisite knows that he has no right to spring up to her and kneel, whispering words of healing even as his fingers brushed her knees through the damp fabric. But none of that seems to matter, and after it was done, he lamely dabs at the wet spot with a napkin and starts to rise, cheeks reddened, his mind fumbling to find an excuse for his behaviour.
A small, cool hand on his shoulder stops him. She moves her fingers inward, towards his face, and he stiffens. It touches his hair lightly, smoothing a wayward lock of it behind his ear, and then skims over his face.
"It's you," she whispers. "I never thought I'd see you again."
He can't tell if she's dismayed or happy from her tranquil tone, and hesitantly lifts his eyes to her face. Even more beautiful than he remembered, her expression a mix of awe and pain. Sad and happy. "You remember me."
"Everything," she murmurs in return. He flinches.
"Two-thousand and two years ago, on this very day," her voice lowers to a sweet whisper, "I promised to marry you."
It isn't the memory that he would've expected her to mention. He stumbles to his feet, unsure of what to say, and suddenly, she smiles. "You weren't so shy and quiet back then."
"I didn't hurt you back then," he blurts out, his voice harsher than he intended, scratchy like sandpaper on wounds. He bows his head, dark-gold hair falling into his eyes. "You loved me back then."
"Yes," she acknowledges, and he wonders at the almost-complacent tone of her voice. "You did hurt me... and you know it. You wouldn't be like this if you didn't know."
"What do you mean?"
"When you were reborn before, and we fought each other, you never seemed to feel any pain or sorrow," she explains quietly. "You weren't ashamed of what you did."
It seems the most logical thing in the world to her, and perhaps it is. He's not sure whether he should be hopeful, and hates this awkwardness. "I'm sorry I scared you into spilling your coffee," he says suddenly. It's a change of topic before things could get even more uncomfortable.
"I forgive you."
And he realizes then, as he meets her gaze really for the first time since this conversation started, that she's not talking about the coffee. A hint of a smile plays at the corners of her lips, and her eyes are so soft it lulls him. "Can I make it up to you anyway?"
"If you'd like," she tells him, and suddenly, he feels more light-hearted too, and returns her smile. She relaxes, and he steps up to the counter.
"A small coffee, cream, no sugar, with mint flavouring," he tells the girl at the register. That was how she always took her coffee, he recalls. He hands over the payment, and a minute later, holds out the cup towards her. Their fingers brush as she accepts it, and she smiles up at him again.
It almost seems natural for him to sit down across from him at the table by the window, watching her strawberry-red lips as she sips her coffee. His gaze is wistful. She accepts him, yes, but things have changed.
She licks her lips after setting down the empty cup, and he gathers his courage. "Do you think we can do this again sometime, Mizuno-san?" His voice, to his relief, isn't quite as shaky as it could have been.
"Wednesday night, at ten," she replies, reaching across the table and resting her hand over his. "And don't ever call me 'Mizuno-san' again."
He grasps her hand in both of his and brings it to his lips, kissing the slender fingers. In his peripheral vision, he sees her shiver. "Ami..."
She stands, and so does he, and they leave together. With every step, it seems more natural and more right, and by the time they reach the street lamp at the end of the road, they've fallen in step with each other and hold hands like lovers who've never parted.
Wednesday night, at half-past ten, Ami returns to her own home, dreamy-eyed and smiling, with a new spring in her step. The endless questions from the others about the whereabobuts (and dating habits) of her friends had taken up a few hours... but only a few hours in two days.
"Where have you been!" comes a chorus of querulous, concerned female voices as soon as she walks into her room. "You've been gone for two whole days!"
"Oh..." Ami smiles a secret, meditative little smile. Her cheeks are still warm from his touch, and her clothing smells like him- linen and mint and a defiant hint of cherry blossoms. "Something I had to do."
"Are you finished with it now?" Rei asks impatiently, a scowl on her striking face.
"No," Ami says decidedly. But she smiles at each beloved face in turn. "You all should go out of the palace and grounds sometime." She smiles like she knows something they don't know, and they have the feeling that it isn't simply a matter of Mercury's mental prowess. "Maybe something needs to be let out."