Quick Note: Just a short bit to move things along before expanding our cast. Hopefully it makes sense. Can't believe it's been so long since I updated this!
Word Count: 1,735
"What are you doing tomorrow?" Buffy asked, watching Ami dry herself, following the movements of her delicate hands as they rubbed the towel up and down lightly tanned limbs. The hospital had given the short doctor a long weekend between changing shifts and Buffy had quickly dragged her down to the beach. "Besides swimming."
"Reading, catching up on correspondence, cleaning," Ami told her, draping her wet towel over her beach chair before joining Buffy on her large beach towel under the umbrella.
"How'd you like to go down to LA for the day?" Buffy asked, sitting up to adjust her top. "I have to pick up my sister at the airport in the afternoon. We could drive down in the morning, have an early lunch, do a little shopping, and go to the airport. We can stop for dinner on the way back."
"Buffy-san," Ami started to say, before pausing.
"You don't have to if you don't want to," Buffy said quickly. "It was just an idea I had, if you don't have other plans."
"Would your sister not prefer to spend the time with you?" Ami asked. "How long has she been away?"
"Almost six weeks," Buffy said. "Four weeks in LA with our father, and two weeks at a riding camp in Arizona. Someone's been blabbing, so… she really wants to meet you. Apparently me having a new friend is a big event. This way she gets to meet you in some place neutral but won't have time to be too nosey."
"I would enjoy the opportunity to spend time with you," Ami said, nodding. "And I would be honored to meet your sister."
"Good. It's a date then," Buffy said, smiling. "Though not a date date," she added quickly, blushing. "She'll be impressed that I'm friends with someone smart other than Willow."
"I have not met your friend Willow," Ami said. "But I will take that as a compliment."
"It is. Definitely," Buffy said, pulling down her sunglasses and lying back down. "Willow's really brainy. Wouldn't have made it through high school without her."
"You can come out now," Buffy said loudly, coughing and shaking the vamp dust from her hair. She'd never seen a vampire explode quite like that before. Usually there was a small puffing sound and a quick rain of dust. This was closer to a dust storm with extra sound effects. She wondered if her hidden observer was the reason.
Sailor Mercury stepped out of the shadows and joined her under the streetlight.
"If you're going to follow me around every night you should do it where I can see you," Buffy said, eyeing her.
"You knew I was watching you," Mercury said.
"Whatever makes you you sets off my personal magic detector," Buffy said, tapping her nose. "And probably half the neighborhood's. I'm surprised you haven't attracted a fangy fan club by now."
"The nexus creatures such as your vampires appear to avoid me now," Mercury said, frowning. "But I have not engaged any in combat since meeting you."
"Huh. Maybe you shouldn't patrol with me," Buffy said. "An occasional quiet patrol is nice but vamp population control is difficult if they don't come out. Can you hide your sciencey magic beacon so they don't see you?"
"I was not aware that you could sense me in that fashion," Mercury said, pulling out her computer. "I am not radiating more power than normal."
"How 'bout turning off the fancy super outfit? Or is that against the rules for you?" Buffy asked. "Do you have to get permission from your princess to reveal who you are? Anya said you were one of her body guards."
"It is an important consideration," Mercury said, nodding. "But it will not be necessary. I shall research shielding my presence while transformed." She quickly tapped the small keyboard before putting it away.
"Good," Buffy said. "I've sorta gotten used to your outfit. I don't think I could wear something like that myself but it's kind of cute on you, actually. And it's probably some kind of armor?"
"It does have protective properties against certain energy attacks," Mercury admitted. "I have not tested it against the nexus energy in this area."
Buffy nodded. "We don't get much of those around here. Demons and vampires tend to prefer getting up close and personal and mages usually do their thing where I can't see them. Shall we?" She waved vaguely down the street and started walking.
"Yes," Mercury said, joining her after a brief pause.
"I borrowed the keys to the school basement," Buffy said, sticking her hand in a pocket to jiggle them. "Why don't I give you that promised tour of the local Hellmouth while it's quiet."
"Thank you," Mercury said, giving her a slight bow.
"You won't be thanking me if we run into anything," Buffy said.
"I am sure that together we can handle anything we meet," Mercury said.
"Murphy, she really didn't mean that," Buffy said, looking up.
"Murphy's Law?" Buffy raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "If something could go wrong don't jinx it?"
"I have not heard of this Murphy," Mercury said.
"I think he's a bad luck demon," Buffy said, "though Anya claims he isn't. If I ever find him I'm showing no mercy."
"Ah," Mercury murmured.
"Not really all that impressive," Buffy said, shining a flashlight she'd borrowed from a nearby janitor's closet. "Not sure where that seal came from. Wasn't there a couple years ago. Giles promised me a translation but hasn't sent it to me yet."
"I've mentioned him, haven't I? He's a member of the tweedy librarian club that likes to pretend it's in charge of that thing. Sort of our local rep, though he's in London right now. Sometimes I think they just make it up as they go."
"I believe you mentioned him, though not by name," Mercury said, flipping down her visor to scan the seal. "There is nexus energy leaking from the edges."
"Not surprised," Buffy said. "Something must attract the unsavory types."
"It is a purer form than the energy I have detected in your cemeteries," Mercury said, looking up.
"It'd probably be worth a bunch on the Internet if we could bottle it," Buffy said. "Why travel to the Hellmouth when you can get your hellmouthy energy by mail?"
"I would not recommend it," Mercury said. "It appears to be unstable."
"We should probably leave then, right?" Buffy said. "After you."
"Yes," Mercury said, turning to leave. As they left the dark room, she turned and gave it one last look, shaking her head.
"Buffy-San?" Ami said, standing on Buffy's porch the following morning. "It appears I must confess something to you before we leave. You may not wish me to come with you when I am done."
"You're married?" Buffy said, opening the door and gesturing her in, "and your husband found out you've been seeing me on the side?"
"No..." Ami gave her a puzzled look. Sometimes, like this, she found Buffy's attempts at humor baffling though she was slowly gaining some understanding of her unique form of English. The Outer Senshi, even Setsuna, after a millennia alone guarding the Time Gate, often made more sense.
"Good! So what did you want to confess to?" Buffy said. "I'm not a priest but I can listen, though I did where a wimple once."
"Several friends of mine will be at the airport. They are stopping in Los Angeles for several days on their way to New York and would like to meet you," Ami said.
"Sure, we can do that," Buffy said. "That isn't a big deal as long as we don't forget my sister in the process."
Ami nodded. "They are not ordinary," she said, reluctantly. "They will notice how special you are."
"I'm not special," Buffy said, protesting. "What makes you think that? I'm very ordinary."
"That is what I must explain," Ami said. "I am sorry."
"Sorry for what?" Buffy asked.
Ami held up a hand. "For keeping this from you," she said, stepping back slightly. "Mercury Star Power Makeup!" she said in a low voice.
"Can't say I'm speechless, since I'm talking, but wow!" Buffy said, when Ami's transformation into Sailor Mercury was complete. "Wasn't expecting that. You're a doctor and super hero at the same time."
"You aren't upset?" Mercury asked, nervously twisting her wand in her hands.
"No, just surprised," Buffy said, stepping closer to get a better look. "I understand the whole secret identity thing, really. I'm just not good at it myself. And this is Sunnydale so most people are home and safely tucked into bed when I'm out on patrol, so no one notices anyway."
"Oh," Mercury murmured.
"Isn't that a bit embarrassing, changing like that in public?" Buffy asked. "I'd be looking for a phone booth or dark alley myself. Not much with the flashing my public."
"I have worn this since I was fourteen," Mercury said, blushing. "It is what we wear. Most people cannot clearly see the change."
"Huh. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have connected your identities," Buffy said. "There does seem to be a slight haze around you. Some kind of disguise magic? Like the whole Clark Kent is Superman thing, except his whole magic allergies issues means it isn't magic? Everyone in that comic book must have been blind not to connect them."
"The uniform does provide a disguise," Mercury said. "But it is Silver Millennium technology, not magic."
"If you say so," Buffy said. "So, your friends? The ones we're meeting? They know about this?"
"Yes," Mercury said, whispering the de-transformation phrase under her breath.
"Of course they do," Buffy said, sighing. "The whole switching back and forth thing is a neat trick but I'm assuming you don't want Dawn or anyone else to know. She can keep a secret if she really wants to but secret identities are a big deal."
"It would be better if she does not know," Ami said.
"Okay," Buffy said. "Secret identity will remain secret. It'll just be between us. And your friends. Who probably have secret identities themselves that I shouldn't ask about if I'm reading between the lines."
"Yes," Ami said.
"Let's get this show on the road then," Buffy said. "Shopping to do, meals to eat, sisters to pick up, and friends to be introduced. To."
End Note: Hadn't originally planned for Buffy to find out Ami was Sailor Mercury at this point but it happened.