A/N: You know, I've always loved this song, and I finally decided that I needed to do a fan fiction for it. I didn't really have a storyline when I did this, it was more like a blind type while I was thinking about other things. Like has been stressful for me recently, and I was thinking of my other friends too. There are like six people in my life right now that are having a particularly hard time in their lives, and some of them are teens with romance issues. Gotta love being in that weird stage right? I thought so, especially back when I was around that age. I'm not that much older, I'm only twenty-one, but I remember what it was like being picked on and harassed in school.

Anyway, I made this because I know all too well what it was like, and I felt like I had to write this. I tried my best to remember the times of my life when I was a teen with most of my friends and how we dealt with some of the situations that we did. For all of you girls out there, especially those of you who are lesbians or bisexuals, I'm sure you'll relate to at least some of this. Remember, sometimes life just sucks, but that doesn't mean that it will always be that way.

Not much else to say than that, I hope you enjoy. Please read and review.

I don't own Sailor Moon.

Song: Seventeen
By: Janis Ian

Normal story

Hopefully if you know me, you know the drill. Although it really is mostly an Ami/Makoto fiction most, I wanted this to encompass all of the Senshi because honestly, it fits them all. A rather long fan fiction. It will only be a one shot though, so yeah. Pairings are a great many: Ami/Makoto, Rei/Minako, Haruka/Michiru with small referencing to the following pairings. Usagi/Mamoru, Seiya/Setsuna, and a few other tidbits here and there. Anyway, on with the fiction.

She sighed as the shower beat down on her. She stood there, her breast still small in spite of her age, her hair cut short. The reflection on metal nozzle of the bath more than just her image. It obscured her view of herself as a person, her life as she knew it. Looking back, it was easy seeing such things, to twist them into only half truths that caused pain, and even now, never really fully washed away. She second guessed herself sometimes. She was an adult now, but no, she wasn't really any different...not fully anyway. More aware of herself and what made her happy, yes. That was apparent. Inwardly, she wasn't exactly perfect. Then again, she never had been, and she knew it.

Life...it can be so cruel when you're still a girl. No longer a baby needing shelter, not a woman free from the trials of youth, yet not exactly a child of wavering innocence. You could call adolescence something of a melancholic harmony filled with pain and regret. Many things left unsaid, undone, unknown. The questions aren't freely given answers, often young the young girl's first steps into this unknown, frightening world, are given by a guiding hand...at least, that is what most people hope. Each year of being a teenage girl fills you with such difficulty. It becomes harder, even with a loving family. No, life isn't always easy for these young, and often very fragile girls.

When most of us look back, we skew life and what it really had been. An adult can remember pasts and who they were, but, could they really remember what it was like? No...and not because times change mind you. The reason is merely because no matter who you are, no one is a carbon copy, no one could possibly understand exactly how it feels. Could they relate? Sure, but the question is, how deeply can we comprehend? That then becomes a question of the world and the ability of those around you.

Haruka...she was never given a guiding hand. Never. Her view of being a teen not only a bad dream but rather a terror she wasn't ever going to wake from, not even now. She would never allow herself to wake up. That was her entire problem.

It isn't easy at the age of twelve. Beginning to notice boys slightly. They're more than the snot nosed brats now. They didn't push her into the dirt anymore, they no longer spit at her or say she had cooties. No, then they looked at her with confused intent. Often, she thought them stupid. Not because they wanted to be, but because she wasn't one of them. Idiots who bugged her, annoyed her in school. Poking at her from the seat behind. She wanted to cry. To scream and yell, wishing only to hide in a corner. That's why it was so hard. Most of the time, she didn't even know why she felt that way.

It confused her. The social formalities became vividly apparent. "If you haven't noticed the boys, you might be weird, and if you know you like girls better, you're in deep water." That was how she described it for her child not very long ago.

"Thirteen isn't any better really, you're still a little girl." She would go onto say whenever she reflected into her past. "If your breasts haven't started growing already, here they come. Bra shopping is embarrassing, panties are becoming something more than flower print undies you used to wear underneath your jumper. Boys are still idiots, and you're still confused by them...perhaps, if only slightly, your friends confuse you now as well." Haruka would always say that. "They tell you hurtful things and fights are no longer over a toy or an argument on the playgrounds. They say mean things, and...so do you sometimes. No one is a complete angel, and often we regret hurting others. Pride prevents us from saying simple things. "I'm sorry" or, the even harder, "I forgive you" At that age, you can't say things like that. If you do, you're only admitting that the world around is is correct, and you're the one who's wrong."

Often Haruka liked to take pride in having a realistic view on her life, and those of her child. Many parents gave either cruel realities, or answers they had heard time and time again. Haruka was on the receiving end of those stupid speeches back in yesteryear. It hadn't ever been helpful for her at the time.

"You start to feel as if no one understands you...and sometimes, you're right. They don't. What other person could understand? A mother? Sure, if you have one you can talk too. A friend? Yes, I agree, if you trust that person enough. A different relative perhaps? Do you trust them more? Feel as if they're all you have...yes, these trying times force us both inside a shell, and outside of a closet. It's embarrassing, confusing and...sometimes it just sucks." That's what she would always say. Her rant would continue, as always Haruka never ranted about anything halfway. She had many things she could say, and even more she would say, regardless of who she offended.

"Then there are other things, periods come to mind. If it hadn't happened before, and you aren't a late bloomer, fourteen and fifteen are years that become a roller coaster. You wish you could stop the things that fly from your mouth. The hair that grew is embarrassing. If you don't shave people laugh in the gym locker room. If you do shave, people think you have a boyfriend. It's difficult when you sit in the lunchroom now. Girls flock around you asking questions. They may not even be friends either. "Do you have a boyfriend?"..."Have you heard the latest band's song? Do your parents buy you everything you want? Are you going to the dance?"... No? Well then let the verbal slander begin." Often she would animate herself as one would hitting themselves over the head with her hand. Forced enthusiasm dripping in every word.

"Yes, these painful, sickening words make you want to cry, make you hate yourself...it's hard." She had younger friends who were still in school. She had made it a personal mission to throw them into the hell hole head first. Some of them, Makoto primarily, had needed it early on. "So very, very hard. It's also very unnecessary for them to say these things. If you happen to have luck, you learn that, but only later. Until then, Makoto, you're screwed." That's what she had said. Haruka hadn't ever been one to look on the bright side of anything though. she was always pessimistic. it was one downside of many. "You'll only be able to see how wrong you were after you get older, but trust me, then you think you know everything. People don't get old and wise, they get older and set in their ways. Ways that may not be true for you."

Now she was kicking herself. She had to talk with Hotaru about those issues, child was paying dearly for merely being a teen. That was what being young and stupid was all about. Haruka knew that, and yet... "I'm still screwed." She sighed. Her mind went back into those days. Hell on earth was the only thing she could describe it as. Those years felt like forever. Best friends became rivals, and first loves often lost. Her daughter was just now getting out of one age ridden slump and went barreling words the next one at full speed. Tonight she had to give another speech of words. Half truth peppered with a white lie to soften the blow. She hated what Michiru had said, the lie of protection hadn't worked.

Haruka had to pick up the pieces. "Sixteen offers little remorse as you start thinking deeply about things you're far too young to be thinking about. Sex. A taboo, or, perhaps a thrill you need, arms that hold you, protect you. We girls, we need to feel loved. Boys do too, there aren't any doubts, but girls, they're fragile, soft, and often are very insecure." Haruka knew that from experience. Her own emotions that of glass even now. "Funny how one pimple can make you think you're hideous. If you have split ends or an unpopular hairstyle you're never going to be in the "popular" group, whatever that even is anyway. The size of your breasts are both a blessing and a curse. If they're too small sometimes you feel inadequate, if they're too big, then sometimes you're treated differently. You want to be noticed and yet...you don't want to be noticed either."

Why did this happen to be so familiar? Haruka sighed remembering. She had given Makoto that same speech about a year ago. The only difference was, Makoto was a friend, not her child. "Sure, you can act like it doesn't hurt, but those words often don't roll so easily off of your back. Not all the time." Then she remembered what Ami had once retorted during one of their friendly debates. It was a good point, so Haruka used it as an example. "Water doesn't either, ironically enough. Ever notice the water droplets that cling onto your skin? Even after the mass washes away, the rest still clings onto skin, absorbing afterthoughts like a sponge dehydrated from summer heat. It can't be wrung out until it's been overfilled..."

"Then it spills over, then, you cry. A person's heart, that's the sponge. That's the thing that can only be squeezed so far, only for so long. At seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen, if you haven't already, you begin to wonder just what life has in store for you. If you aren't already happy, at peace with yourself, if you haven't found that contentment, now's the time you yearn for it greatly. Wishing, hoping, begging, that you'll find what ever it is that your searching for. That one answer that someone, anyone, has yet to give."

Haruka sighed. It had been a little over year since that particular speech. The one where she had to kick Makoto a good hundred times. The one where Ami lost herself in confusion. Still, none of them were that different in age. All of them were fighting, searching for anything they could. That was what youth was all about. Still, in those times, and times like now it was still hard to accept.

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired

Haruka wasn't beautiful in her own mind. Why would she be? She was strong, brash, hair cut short like a boy and personality not exactly that of a flower blooming. No, if she had been a plant, she would be a prickly cactus. Thorns that hid a green eyed monster underneath. Pluck away the dangerous spines, ignoring the waxy skin that seemed to detour all else, and inside you found something envious and very much alone. It was a plant left in a barren desert, much like that of lonely life. No one to offer solace, a person like Haruka could be seen as more than just ugly. Then again, she never tried to be pretty either.

Still she sat, holding herself in the bath as the water fell from her body into the warm pool she stared into. The warmth wasn't that of another person though, and she wished dearly that it was. Who would call her? Who would even care? She should run from her past. Her dark stormy past filled with anger, fueled by hate. No one could accept a girl like her. They all seemingly turned their backs at once. She was alone. She looked strong...but, she wasn't. Not really. She looked at her reflection as yet again she sighed within her own self loathing.

They said some pretty awful things when she was a kid. She was still young as an adult. She was still weak inside. She still remembered. Where was her mother? She didn't have one who cared. No one knew or understood. Who would? She was a girl trying to be a boy. She never shaved as a teen, the girls laughed at her. She wanted to be a boy back then, back before she could accept who she was. They would point at her, laugh at her...most girls wear makeup, skirts, frilly things, girly things...back when she was a teen, that was normality. Granted, life and times changed slowly, but that didn't make facts different, it only softened the blow for the new generation. Her anger at the world was more of a fear, an insecurity...even now, that's all she had left in her any more.

She wasn't a teen who had it in her to shake an angry fist at the world, so now she sat in her bath, her pool of hot regret as vengeful as boiling water on skin, and yet, just as she aged that water cooled. It was still hot, it could possibly still burn, but for her it was little more than heated rage that she was slowly loosing. There wasn't really any point to being angry anymore, but that didn't mean emotions worked as easily as logic. She still had many things to work through.

"Haruka..." The voice was a soft call. "What are you doing silly?"
"Michiru." It was a question more than a statement.

A tense air was taken then. Michiru smiled softly. This woman would forever blame herself. Undoing the plush white robe, she too stepped into the path, sitting behind her lover. Resting her head onto a hot, moist shoulder, she reached around pulling the arms that clung so fearfully. She grabbed those hands, those strong, possessive hands, a mere whisper escaping her lips. "I told you, it's alright."

The blond startled then, turning her head to face the woman that still hugged her, that still loved her. "How can it be? How can it possibly be alright?"

"Because I say it is." Michiru smiled. "I like your hands. It isn't any more complicated than that." She sat back then, pulling Haruka with her, forcing the bond to look up at her, Michiru's body becoming sort of a pillow. "You don't have to be anyone else. No one else than who you are, Haruka, I love you. You. Not the guy next door, or the woman in the shoe store...it's you."

"Michiru, I-" The slamming of a door broke through the tranquility like a knife as Haruka then grew instantly worried. "Is Hotaru alright?"

"I'm not sure. I thought she was with Chibiusa today. I was sure she'd be out for the rest of the evening." They both moved to get up but then they heard the bedroom door open and close softly again, Setsuna was already on the case. While they were concerned, Setsuna had already gone to speak with their daughter, there was no need for everyone to go. So, worriedly they sat, awaiting for some type of answer.

The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth...

"She had a date." Hotaru explained softly.
"That really isn't anything new." Setsuna took in the look of her child. Adopted though the girl was, she was also family, hands down.
"I know that." Hotaru put her face into her pillow uncaring if her skirt hiked up past her thighs as she curled into herself.

Setsuna shook her head. Young love wasn't exactly easy, but it was haphazard. With nothing more she could do, she sat quietly. She could say many things, she knew many kind words, none of them would seem like truth though. Not to this child, this angst ridden girl before her. How long was it? It seemed a blink of an eye. This girl had been a baby only to grow into this saddened teen. When had this girl become so old? When had she grown up enough? Setsuna couldn't say, she just didn't know.

"Someone will be out there for you, Hotaru." It seemed like a handout. Something spoken by default instead of by compassion or reality.
"No...they won't." Hotaru's voice was muffled by the pillow. "I love her. And she..."
"I know." Setsuna sighed. "I know kiddo."

Tonight was the school dance at the local high school. Her first one of the year. It was honestly no wonder why Hotaru had been upset. It wasn't that she hadn't been invited, anyone could go. It was just that the person she wanted, the person she needed had other plans. Those plans were with a boy far from now. Life wasn't always easy, and sometimes you fell in love with those who never loved you back. It was painful, but sadly, that too, was life. "I was like you once too. It doesn't always have to be this way." Setsuna knew that it seemed like a lie. it always seemed like a lie when someone felt like this.

"Yeah, right." Hotaru sniffled. Unwilling to say more. She just didn't believe it to be so.

"It's true." Setsuna laughed softly, even if it was a little bitterly. Love for her, it had come later. Childhood was lonely, so lonely in fact, she never had any she could call real friends until she became an adult. "Despite what you may think, I wasn't always this gifted." Setsuna looked over at the doorway, quietly standing there was Seiya. "You know I wasn't fated to be in love like some of us, mine found me because we didn't exactly have anyone else. It took us a while Hotaru, a very long while. Some people just have to wait, just have to accept that life won't ever come easily."

"What's up?" Seiya-papa was quite like Haruka-papa in one way. They were both very dense women by basic nature.
"Chibiusa is an idiot! That's what's going on!" Hotaru yelled from her pillow.
"An idiot?" Seiya questioned looking at Setsuna who promptly shook her head, warning her newly found lover to shut up. She still wasn't anywhere near being a parent. Not yet.
"She's a stupid idiot." The words were whispered this time. "I hate her sometimes. I just hate her."

Haruka and Michiru had heard the distress from their bedroom and also came down the hall dressed in pajamas. The four parents looked at each other with grim expressions. They knew it wouldn't be easy, but what could they do? Honestly, the answer was nothing. Rejection hurt, plain and simple. Haruka rolled her eyes as Seiya once again tried to play the role of a devoted fatherly figure. It was laughable at best. Sometimes a girl needed a girl, not someone like them. The tall blond slung an arm around the woman dressed in a man's tux after having just gotten off of work. "There's entirely far to much estrogen in this house and we aren't helping anything. Go get the car stared, I'll go get dressed. We'll go out for some drinks."

"I thought you didn't like me?" Seiya's question accompanied by a raised eyebrow. The only reason Seiya lived here was by default. Haruka had been outvoted by even her own child.
"I don't idiot." Haruka growled. "However, I'm taking pity on you and warning you now, in times like this you and I back off. I'm calling a truce because of Hotaru, not because I like you."
"I don't think leaving is a good idea." Seiya was worried too, Haruka could see that. But, that didn't mean it was helpful.
"Car..." Haruka wasn't playing the debate game. "Now."

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone

"I'm not going." The audible pain was apparent in her voice, her phone call wasn't one she wanted to be having. "What's the point anyway?"
"Usagi wants you there. We all haven't hung out in...like forever." The voice was one that while caring, wasn't wanted around at the moment.
"Forget it Minako, I'm not going." Makoto fought back.
"Then what are you going to do? Even Rei's going to be there."
"Yeah, as your date." Makoto huffed at the phone, her annoyance clear.

"If you don't go then you'll spend the entire evening regretting it. This is our last year in high school. We won't have many more chances for this. I'm telling you, you need to be there. We're going to have a blast, just us girls. I promise...it'll be a night you'll always remember." Minako urged through her cell phone as she painted her nails for the big night. In an hour Rei would be picking her up for the upcoming dance. "We can swing by and grab you on the way if you want. I swear you'll have fun. You don't really need a date to do that anyway."

"No, but if I don't have one then what's the point of going? Everyone will have someone...everyone but me." Makoto faked a yawn, trying to sound tired. "I'll just go to bed early tonight. Our math test yesterday knocked me for a loop." They both knew that was a lie.

"Stop it. You can't lie to me. I know you're avoiding us because we have dates." Minako saw through it, confronting the issue head on. "Not everyone goes with a partner stupid." Minako laughed slightly lightening up her tone. "Some people go to have fun. You know, when they have something called a social life? Besides, you won't be the only single lady, Ami will be there...you know how she is, and even she's going. You can't just mope around alone, it isn't good for you. You should go."

"Last time I went it was all a sham. It's always a stupid lie. I won't be hurt again Minako. I won't have another boy hurt me, tell me sweet things only to throw it back in my face once again. I can't, I won't. It's just far too hard any more. Boys suck, simple as that. I give them my all and they...they just cast me aside like trash. I hate it. I really hate it. Men are all the same. Not one has stayed around, not one even really cared. If I go to that dance, I'll end up getting hurt again. Just forget about it."

"If you think that way, you'll become a man hater, but alright." Finally giving up the battle she shrugged the phone a little while she went about finishing what she was doing. "Just don't go feeling sorry for yourself later. There are other fish in the sea you know...and not everyone you date really needs to be a guy." Her voice was suggestive, but not overly so. "Besides, Makoto, you know you're loved...even if it's not the kind you want to be, we all do love you. You're like a sister for me."

"I know..."
"Alright, as long as you do."
"How did you get together with Rei anyway? It seems...weird."
"Long story...put it that way."
"I see."
"Yeah. But anyway, I've got to get going. I'm not ready yet. I'll talk with you later."
"Goodbye then. Have fun."
"Will do, have a good night."

Makoto flung her phone across the room watching as it made contact with her recliner. She cursed under her breath as she went into the kitchen. She hated being alone. She would always be alone...

Who called to say "come dance with me"
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...

"Shit..." She paced with the phone in her hands. "I can't do this Rei. I just can't. We danced once, but it wasn't like...never mind."
"You can Ami." The girl of raven tresses finished pulling the comb through her hair and turned towards her shorter friend. "You just don't want to try."
"I do too!" Ami fought back. "I'm just...scared."
"Therein lies the problem." Rei shrugged with a smile. "That's why we are going to go get her regardless of what you say."
"She doesn't want to go." Ami reminded Rei of that little detail.
"She does too, she just doesn't want to be alone." Rei couldn't figure it out. Did these two really have to be so stubborn?

"Why do you insist on fighting me? Makoto doesn't love me, never has and never will. We're friends Rei, but not everyone has the same interests you do...we do." Ami amended the statement. "I know I'm...but, she just...I'm not sure she's...that way too. You know? Gods, why is it so hard?" Ami looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes looked red and puffy. "Why is it so difficult to say it? I mean, I don't know. I like her Rei, I really, really like her...outside of that I don't really know what I feel. She's...nice though. This is stupid. You'd think it would be easy if you loved someone...maybe I don't love her. What if it's just, I dunno, misplaced feelings? I think I'm twisted. Just a sick fre-"

"Don't you dare finish that word!" Rei shouted highly distressed with the way one of her best friends was talking. "Don't you ever think that Ami. Do you understand me? Never, ever, talk that way about yourself. You're not sick, and you aren't twisted. You're a nice, kinda shy, and very insecure girl...who also likes other women. That isn't a crime Ami. It isn't. Yes, people talk, so what?" Ami started crying then. Rei watched, although she didn't know what she could do.

Light simple tears trailed down Ami's cheeks like that of condensation on a glass rather than a flowing river or a torrent of lost emotion. She was a soft girl with even softer emotions. Barely there, or none at all. People laughed at her for being unpopular, a geek, and aloof. She was the awkward girl. She always had been. "Not everyone is as strong as you Rei. Not everyone can just shrug it off like they don't care. Haven't you ever felt like that? Like you aren't important and that you are a failure? No one cares about people like us...people like me. They've never noticed, or if they did it wasn't ever a good thing. When will I be left alone? When can I just do what I want?"

"I can't answer that." Rei sighed. "But if you don't call her, if you don't act on it, you'll never know. Right?" Rei received a swat on the shoulder for that remark. "Listen, not everyone will care, and some really need a boot shoved up their butt to get rid of whatever emotional constipation they think they don't have. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying that some people, as unbelievable as it seems, really do care about you and their other friends Ami. I'm one of those people, and let me tell you a little secret..." A smirk crossed Rei's lips. "I may be raised to one day become a woman of the cloth, but that does not mean I wouldn't tell people to fuck off if I felt like they were all up in my personal life. It isn't theirs, it's yours." Ami smiled a little at that, even if it was only slightly.

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"

"I'm sorry... but we just didn't belong there. Lighten up a bit." Haruka laughed as they sat drinking their booze. The bar was filled with many. Some were lonely, looking for a friend, or perhaps a bedfellow. Others were merely laughing among friends, playing pool, darts, and other bar fun. Some sat a tables playing cards, smoking their cigarettes, and living life. Not that Haruka approved of some of those things, but life was just that, she didn't always agree. In the booth she sat with Seiya who still sat troubled about Hotaru's predicament. For Seiya it went deeper, she understood more than anyone realized. Then again, didn't she always have that issue?

"I was always given the short end Haruka. Hotaru is just now getting into it, but lets face it, she just isn't ever going to have Chibiusa in her life...not like that anyway."
"You sound like a downer stupid. Shut up and drink your drink. This isn't for us to solve."
"Then I'd like to know what the hell is Haruka. I'd like to know why you don't seem to give a damn about that poor kid."
"It's because I do understand, and I do care, that I backed off."
"Uhh, care to explain that one? Ya lost me."

"Think about it. Not just on the standpoint of understanding, I mean really think about it. Even if you do, so do I, Michiru, and Setsuna. We all know how it feels to get your heart broken. We know it isn't easy. But, if we all just went in there acting like we knew it would only make Hotaru feel worse. It's one thing to say you understand, it's another to fully, really, truly understand. You and I don't. Yeah, we kinda do, but lets face it, we're on a totally different playing field. If Hotaru had been a boy or like us, then yeah, we could have handled it better than them, but she's a soft girl who runs quickly to Setsuna before anyone else. Then Michiru if Setsuna isn't around. Don't you get it?"

Seiya only sat quietly.

"We're the fun ones." Haruka continued. "We do the silly things that make her laugh when she feels like crap, we're the ones who protect her from the strange dreams she has, and the past that hurts her so...but beyond that, we can't do much. You act more like a dude than I do, and even if that is the case, the fact remains that we just aren't fit for nurturing. I'm the one she finds when she wants a buddy and when she needs a different point of view, one that isn't exactly motherly, but isn't from a man either. You're the same. Right now, the best thing you can do for her is back down, especially since you know exactly how it feels. It may not have been Chibiusa, but you can't tell me you don't still love Usagi either."

Seiya nodded defeated. She knew. Oh man, did she know. It still stung, likely, part of it always would. You never forgot your first real love. Not completely, even if you were still the best of friends. In fact, if that was the case, it likely made it all the harder. "Yeah..." She sighed. "But, Setsuna and I have a good thing going. That's why I came back after all. My place is here. If the others need me, they know where I am, but...I just needed something else in my life, I'm lucky to have found that in Setsuna. But, if you really think about it, she knows just like I do."

A bitter laugh escaped her then. Seiya never became so spiteful, but for once, she'd allow it. "She fell in love with a princess once too...stupid fairytale. They should never tell those things to kids. It's just a lie after all. Whoever finds their true love like that. I mean yeah, it happens, but not so easily, and not by everyone. It's just...stupid to believe it. Even if you are like us. A dashing prince can't come along for everyone. Anyway, I'm happy with Setsuna. She's wonderful, but I still wonder sometimes."

The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly...

He stood there in his tux, a limo outside waiting for them. He had spared no expense on this night. He even had a top hat perched on his head, a cane in his hand as he escorted the woman of his dreams to the dance. He opened the door, allowing her to step inside as he then accompanied her. The girl's mother stood in the doorway of the house attacking the couple with her camera even as the limo drove off into the distance. They made such a cute couple, and like any devoted mother should, she made it a point to take any and all pictures she could. Usagi's father spent his time praising his little girl who looked so grown up, all the while sending death threats at Mamoru if the boy even dared to touch his little girl.

They were fated to be in love. Fate. Such a word is something every little girl dreams of at least once. A princely figure, or at least...someone who loves them. Dreams are nice, and books gifted to any child are too, but in the end most find them to be lies. Things we wanted and yet...we never get lucky enough to find what our stories received. A dashing prince, a princess more beautiful...undying love. Still, when someone does have the luck to find their love, the one stronger than all the rest, fated never to fail, always to exist, it becomes magic. Then again, that's why it seems so rare. Why would it be so easy?

Happiness was a flower founded by hardship in every storybook, never handed their darkest desire like a child wishing candy. No, only through tears, tragic battles with dragons, parents, and the occasional evil stepmother...only after the trials are complete can we find a happy ending. Still, Usagi skirts around the dance floor, her prince guiding her as he should. Perfection is only an ideal, one she won't ever attain. As she eats her sweets, spills her red fruit punch, and steps on his feet, he realizes that even if it is a match made in heaven, it isn't ever going to be perfect. To death do us part. It's a long time, and wedding vows are no longer nearly as truthful as they should be. Still, with the best of intentions he courts her now in hopes of one day marrying this woman, growing old, and dying at her side. Death do us part. That's quite a long time indeed, and sometimes one we forget just how long it truly is.

"Look at them." Their table sat ten, and a few were casual friends. Those with dates flit across the dance floor for quite a few rounds. Those who didn't chattered in corners of the gym and bought concessions at the lunch counter. Some walked outside, breathing in the nighttime air, or partaking in activities forced on them by peer pressure, or even for reckless abandon. A normal high school dance it was. A normal day for any girl during the day. Classes followed by after school clubs, but now hours later the school was a place to seek fun, excitement, and romance. "Sickening isn't it?"

"I think it's endearing." Ami laughed slightly, hiding her own disappointment. "Besides, you're only upset because you two don't have dates." The girl was wearing formal black pants that sparkled and a matching top that did the same, sipped her tea lightly. Each time a light passed by her, you could see the golden bracelet that she donned only rarely as well as a necklace that had a teardrop pendant. She rarely wore things like that, but tonight she made an acceptation, the light makeup only making her look more beautiful. "Are you sure I don't look too over the top? This is just a casual dance after all."

"Oh yeah?" Kuri questioned slightly jealous. "Then why is Usagi and her boyfriend dressed to the nines?" She wasn't exactly popular, in fact she was a girl often hidden in the shadows. "But no, you look fine Ami, trust me. You're a very beautiful girl. I wonder why you haven't been asked to dance actually." Kuri then looked at her own attire, sighing at her plain gray dress. It was boring. She didn't have very nice clothing, and she wasn't the type of girl who would be noticed...not like Usagi or Minako who almost called attention anywhere they went. "Yumiko, who is that over there?"

"Who? The one with Minako? Good luck figuring that out. I don't have any idea." They both looked at Ami, the clear question in their eyes. "I could have sworn I've seen her someplace before though."

"It's a friend of ours. Her name is Rei, she lives at the shrine near here. They've been dating for a few months now, actually." Ami's eyes wandered around the room. Makoto had left the table some time ago now and no one knew where she had gone off hiding. "Excuse me please." She stood, excusing herself from the table covered in white cloth. She made her way through the crowds, Ami knew that by now, when ever there was a dance Makoto hid in only one spot.

So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debentures of quality and dubious integrity

There she was. In the back corner of the gym. Just like always. It was funny really. This girl, she wished so badly someone who would love her. A hard life was something she was known for. With strength, and wit, smart when she wanted to be, and slightly emotional at the worst of the times it was hard to believe this girl hadn't found anyone...then again, in her eyes, everyone loved someone. Everyone found love...everyone, but her. It was almost sad. She was beautiful, but like most in the gym, she was casual. It wasn't the spring formal, it wasn't the winter prom...it was just the bi-monthly school dance. With slacks and a white button down shirt, she wasn't trying to look her best. Ami sighed at that face, she wanted that depression to fly away as if it hadn't ever come in the first place.

"Found you." The lighthearted voice was that of silken winter. "Why do you always go hiding? Every single dance we have, you always come hiding back here on the bleachers. It's as if you don't want to be found." Ami heard rustling as the person hiding atop the folded stands peaked out from the spot she had been laying in. Emerald green eyes gazed in question before shrugging, hiding again from the mass of people, she didn't want anyone to see her. Ami leaned on the metal benches awaiting a reply that never came. "I'm sorry. They forced you to come here, I didn't mean for them to get out of hand, but you know Minako. She likes to help out when she can, and Rei...she just wanted to get you out of the house for a bit, you know?"

"Out of the house is one thing when it's just our little group, but this?" Makoto's nails banged on the metal in aggravation, the noise was faint over the music, but Ami could hear the annoyance. It just seemed to drip out of each and every word Makoto spoke. "This isn't anything more than rubbing their love lives in my face. Usagi I can understand. She truly means it when she says she wanted everyone, but Minako should know better. Rei doesn't meddle like this, not normally anyway. Why'd you come here? Normally you don't like being here any more than I do."

"That isn't true Makoto."
"I said it just isn't true. I do like to be here, but it does get kind of lonely." The admittance almost begged for attention.
"It's always lonely. We aren't in middle school anymore Ami. People have steadies that they stay with. Look around. Not many singles out on that floor tonight."

Ami did look. At the tables those who didn't have dates played cards and gossiped. They danced in the corners with their friends or they stood at the wall, awaiting a turn they prayed would come. Hopefully, if someone nice came along they'd get a dance. Just one dance to make their night complete. It wasn't that hard was it? For some like Makoto, it was hard. Extremely so. She had given up on that. "Why can't we dance?" It had sounded so simple, as if it was a question that flowed freely. For Ami, it seemed that easy.

"We aren't in middle school anymore." Makoto's deject voice was one that seemed defeated in more ways than one. Both lost, and confused, Makoto couldn't really explain. "We're seniors, it would come off differently. We wouldn't only be friends dancing this time. Not for everyone else anyway."

"Who cares about everyone else?" A challenging question found the air, an answer harder to give than Makoto thought possible.

"I care." Her words were almost impossible to hear. Makoto really fought for the right things to say, the proper explanation. Ami deserved that much at the very least. "I don't want anyone else talking badly about me, and if they see you with me, you'll only be dragged down too. Rumors about my sexuality have already been flying around, and no boys here seem to bat an eye at me any more. You'll be pointed at next. It's bad enough I get the crap tossed at me. You don't need any of it."

"Again, I ask you Kino Makoto, is that so terribly bad?" Again, it was asked out of innocence. Ami looked so fragile then, so confused. There were many things she wanted to say. All of it would be too soon, but it didn't stop her from wishing dearly to say those words. Instead she settled with logic, her specialty as always. "Is it bad to let them think those things? Is it so wrong to just be happy, regardless of what others think of you? The people who matter know the truth, but even if they didn't, even if we were every little slander, every hateful word...even if that were true, than aren't we just accepting it for what it is and nothing more?"

"Ami." Makoto couldn't answer that, instead a new question formed in her mind. "Are you..." She cut herself off, it seemed wrong to ask.
"Please, just dance with me...just this one night. After that, if any one gives you any trouble I'll take all the blame, I'll admit it was my idea for anyone who even points a finger at you...just, please."

Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen...

And dance they did. The slower songs were on now, the night almost at a close. People saw, stared at them in questions and whispers. Not all of them positive, not nearly enough saying negative. It was more surprise than anything. Minako and Rei were still on the dance floor and that helped to pull away some of the prying eyes, some of the ruder comments. Usagi and Mamoru, though at one point had been sitting at the table for a break rejoined their friends on the dance floor. It was for moral support and Makoto picked up on that rather quickly.

Makoto looked at the shorter girl who led them in the dance. Then she looked around more at the hateful glares, or those that peeked courteously at the new couple. "Ignore them Makoto." Ami answered softly startling the taller girl a little. "It's alright, just ignore them. The people who matter don't care." She was sure it looked odd, this short girl leading a dance like a man would his girlfriend. It seemed romantic, but also likely very odd. "Just focus on me." Ami said again.

"I'm sorry. I just can't do that easily. With people looking at us like that, it's hard for me."
"I know it is. It was hard for me too at first. When I first accepted it, I mean."
"You don't seem to think that way now though." Makoto laughed lightly, looking around the room again nervously.

To those of us who knew the pain

"Makoto...I was the geeky girl in class all of my life. Yes, I was singled out for many things. You remember the incident, don't you? It caused me to feel like everyone hated me, that no one cared. I knew what that was like too, I just, well, I guess I just hid that feeling better than you did. Even now, I'm not exactly sure I'm fond of getting odd looks, it doesn't feel good when I hear people whispering. The thing is, before I accepted that I was...who I was, and even now, I'm still dealing with it, I realized that people always talked harshly about me. Even before I decided I liked women, I was always getting picked on. This really isn't any different."

Of valentines that never came

"So you...are then." Makoto fumbled over her words as the last song of the night finally ended. "I never really knew that you'd ever like girls that way." Makoto averted her eyes as they broke apart, smiling somewhat ruefully. "Anyway, thanks for the dancing. It was nice, but you know, you don't have to keep doing this, even if you do like girls. It's alright to let me be on my own. It sucks sometimes, but really Ami, it's alright to let me go." She backed away then, slowly. Her eyes hit the floor. "You shouldn't worry about someone like me anymore."

"What if I want to worry about you?" The imploring voice sounded hurt, but also very strong. Likely stronger than the shorter girl even realized. "What if I don't think it is alright to let go of you? What if I feel like I need to be by your side? What if...what if I-" It was too soon. Ami knew that. "What if I needed you more than you could ever understand? What if I let go of you and in the process I also let go of the one person in my life I never, ever want to let go of? Then what?"

And those whose names were never called

"Ami..." A shuttering breath with hardly enough of a chance for speech. Her eyes understood, even if her voice couldn't think of an answer to give. "You don't want a person like me. Trust me. All those guys walked out on me because I'm a bad girlfriend. Because I'm a failure. Nothing more than some cheep girl. I'm a broken girl. Already soiled, tainted goods. Trust me Ami, you don't want that. You really don't."

"I may not know that part of you." Ami could agree with that. "But, that doesn't mean that I would be like any of those other guys." She looked around the room, most of the students were headed home if they hadn't gone already. "I can accept that I'm not your first, I had assumed that already. I just, I don't understand why you let that affect you so much. Why have you built this fortress around everything that used to make you happy? I only wish I knew."

"Everything changes when you're a girl like me." Makoto sighed. "When you don't know what the hell you are, who you've got to be to make the world happy! You don't have a clue what a girl like me has to do. Put out, spread your legs and hope to god you'll find love. I hated that. I hate it now too, feeling like the only way anyone would even stay is if I-" Makoto shook her head, Ami didn't need to know how deeply it hurt. "None of them stayed. You would leave too. You may end up staying a friend, but...you'd leave one day too, Ami."

When choosing sides for basketball

"How do you know what I will do?" That quivering voice begged, crystal blue eyes filling with tears. "How could you possibly know what I will do? I don't even know myself!" Ami pulled back her fears as best as she could. "I could tell you I love you, I could say that over and over again, because right now that's what I feel for you. I feel love. I haven't said it up till now because I was afraid you'd think it was a lie. I know you've been hurt, I've seen it happen Makoto. But, even as scared as I am I still hoped you would accept my feelings without those words. I don't know how I'll feel down the line, and I can't promise you anything...but Makoto, right now I just-" She cut herself off again.

It was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me...

Life would go on, it always would. Days would pass by slowly, the sun becoming a new hope and new dreams for these women. That's what they were after all. Young girls learning to stand tall, walking as they should through the hard times, laughing and skipping freely through the best of times, and sitting idly, learning when to slow down, accepting the times when life was neither here nor there. Changing slowly, if at all, one never noticed how far they came until they stood back, measuring life not by a ruler of accomplishments achieved, but instead by the joy and laughter. The difficult times you trudged through, the happy memories you never gave up...by the time you became a teen, you had enough of these experiences to count, and yet not enough to fully measure, not yet ready to evaluate them on a grand scale.

Ami was one of those girls that changed in a noticeable way. It was subtle, and yet it stood out. As if it was wind that moved the sand, her changes weren't amazing, and yet, they were there. Seemingly having been under the surface the entire time, even if the truth told you that she hadn't been so. She smiled more, talked more, and became boisterous, cracking jokes that were slightly inappropriate for a person of her nature. Not dirty or crass by far, and yet, the underlying hints of implication left many raising eyebrows. Saeko wasn't the first to admonish the change, but, she was the first to notice it.

She had also been the first to question it. Months past since that night, apparently. That's what Saeko had been told anyway. She looked at an old photograph, laughing inwardly at how things ended up. She couldn't say she was happy about it. Shocked was a far better word. Ami seemed so quiet and innocent. She was a driven girl, had always been so. However, Ami wasn't rebellious, wasn't ever the type to provoke attention for herself. As she grew she became used to it, but she hadn't ever invited it. Not fearful, and yet not only another face in the crowd, Ami had always dealt with bulling at school. Saeko hated that.

That same child had grown into a decent, honest teen with values and morals any parent would find acceptable. That was why Saeko couldn't fathom it. She chuckled a bit ruefully, it wasn't something she had expected. Then again, it wasn't as if her daughter had ever asked for much, never requested impossible things. This wasn't impossible either. Hard yes, but not impossible. Her little girl, in love with another woman. It seemed...strange. Still, Ami was happy. She wouldn't get involved one way or the other...at least not yet.

We all play the game and when we dare to cheat ourselves at solitaire

Her fingernail tapped the glass. Saeko was young, stupid, and in love. In her younger years she hadn't listened to reason, yet, she couldn't say the blame was fully hers either. She knew what it felt like the first time someone asked her on a date, she knew the role of the shy girl lost in emotions inexplicable. She knew it all, but then again, she was also on the other side of the fence. She dated boys who were older than her, often arranged by her father or other relatives. Arranged marriages weren't uncommon, and she found herself wondering if she should have listened.

Saeko was always under the impression that she would guide her child towards the right person, much like her father had attempted to do for her. Ami was the type of girl who may have needed the push in the right direction. However, the stubbornness found within Ami made Saeko realize one thing. She wasn't going to win. Not this time. Ami's grandfather hadn't won the battle with Saeko either. Ultimately, Saeko's divorce forced her into wondering if she had been wrong the entire time. Reflections and questions easier than the realities she had been given to live with. Her room still held fragmented memories of a time now long gone, but they weren't times she could say she regretted.

Inventing lovers on the phone, repenting other lives unknown

Saeko looked everywhere for her happiness, found within a young man on the street. A painter. One of those starving artists that in all reality had done quite well for himself. He wasn't a rich man by any means, yet he held himself together making what little he did. Saeko had found something in him. A glimmer of hope among her father's wishes. She was a driven woman, meant to be a woman of tradition instead. Wed, bed, and raise children. Be a good woman, grow old, and die the loving mother and devoted wife who did anything she could for her family. That was his idea of what her life should be. He was an older man, with even older ideals. She didn't fault him, but she hadn't agreed with him either. Her rebellious streak was far more pronounced, a teen far more difficult to handle.

As an adult, she hadn't been any easier. She dated and soon married the painter, much to her father's great dismay. Giving birth to Ami a short time later, her life went forward in haphazard and muddled glory. A divorce the front runner in drama, fueled by constant work, stress, and a child to raise, she hadn't often the time to find herself anyone else. She had companions with whom she dated, and while she hadn't considered herself a loose woman by far, she had given into her own baser urges every now and again. Those events had carried her into today. These times were happy, not completely perfect, but she could say she was content.

That call and say, "Come dance with me," and murmur vague obscenities

Placing the picture frame down she walked into the main room and rolled her eyes at the sight before her. This early morning gifted her with something she wasn't appalled by, but she couldn't say she liked seeing it either. Uncomfortable, that's what it was. After composing herself from the momentary worry, she sighed to herself. She wasn't going to get used to this for a while. "You little smart ass." Saeko whispered only partly annoyed. Ami had developed a slight attitude and rebellion lately. One that mirrored Saeko's own in the past. "I should have known." Her voice fell on deaf ears.

This was the first time anyone was aloud to spend the night since Ami had come out of the closet. Saeko didn't mind the sleepover, but she had made one thing abundantly clear. Makoto wasn't to sleep in Ami's bedroom. With the new rule in place, they both ended up on the sofa in the front room. After tossing a blanket over the two of them she walked into the kitchen, morning coffee was quite the gift after you stayed up all night keeping half an ear on the goings on. Saeko hadn't slept a wink. Thankfully, she had the day off.

Looking out her window, she thought about that seriously. She had been rather strict. No sleepovers, dates had to be on weekends, she was to be kept informed about everything, and even went at far as forcing Makoto to go get herself checked out medically for anything from her past sexual partners. That discussion was embarrassing, and one Saeko hoped that she would never, ever, revisit. She knew it was all just a bit much. She trusted Makoto, but that didn't mean she trusted teenage idiocy. She had been young once, she knew full well that even if Ami hadn't admitted it, there was a good chance something had already gone on. Still, since Saeko hadn't caught them, she couldn't do anything but send warning glares and trust that Ami knew what she was doing.

She bit her lip then, remembering that next week would be the first time Ami would be allowed over at Rei's house for one of their group sleepovers. Something about that didn't sit well. She wouldn't be home to keep an eye on things. She scowled at herself for allowing herself to worry about it. Ami had always been trustworthy before. It shouldn't be any different with the other girls, right? Then she heard conversation, sleepy, but very absurd conversation.

"Makoto get that thing."
"Gah..you need to move first."

She heard quiet laughter coming from the living room before hearing a squeak and then a hushed yelp. Saeko mentally beat the image out of her head of what could possibly going on. "Girls!" She yelled curtly as she walked back into the living room. They were still under the blanket, and still very much cuddled too closely for Saeko's liking. "May I ask just what it is you two think your doing?" Her body leaned on the door frame casually, although, she wasn't truly annoyed, she wasn't about to let on the fact she had expected this to happen.

"We were sleeping." Ami answered from under the blanket. "But Makoto's cellphone went off."
"I see." The look Saeko gained was almost comical. "I didn't hear a phone go off."
"It was on vibrate, and in her pocket." Ami explained, Saeko only put her hand to her face as she walked into the kitchen in response.
"I need a vacation..." She sighed. Her coffee was the only logical thing in the house this morning.

Not that the afternoon was any better. Saeko was hoping to have a relaxing day...unfortunately for her, it didn't happen. Nope, not so much at all. She didn't know how it happened, but one of Ami's friends ended up with a pretty big bruise on her face. Again, she was trying to figure out the entire story, some of it far too adult for even her ears. Mentally, she reminded herself to keep an eye on Ami, this Minako girl was always wild, but this story took the cake. Honestly, only this group could come up with some of the most absurd stories, and sadly, she had enough proof that she could believe them.

"I'm so going to slap you!" Rei shouted as Usagi once again made a joke about Rei's relationship with Minako.
"What?" Usagi's innocence was almost too realistic. "I'm only saying the truth. Right?"
Minako cackled at the non stop innuendo's Usagi was coming up with. "I can tell you that I would have done the same if I were her."
"Yeah? Well what did she do after that?" Makoto was now highly interested trying her best not to laugh. Clearly, she was failing.
"You mean before, or after she fell over the bar of soap?" Minako loved to talk, even about personal stuff.
"Both!" Usagi and Makoto answered at the same time. Meanwhile, Rei sat on her sofa with an icepack on her face.

"She slid face first into the door!" At that an entirely new round of laughter coursed through the room.
"It's only funny until someone get's a black eye." Rei snapped, her face was already swollen.
"Then it's hysterical!" Makoto smirked. "Really Rei, how many times have the two of you had sex...and you pick now to freak out and get hurt? Really?"
"Do you mind!" Rei blushed while shouting at the group. Ami was the only one being quiet about everything.

At ugly girls like me at seventeen.

The insinuation wasn't lost on Saeko who sighed as she sat at her desk. The card game on her computer being the only distraction from the conversation going on in the living room. She knew it was only a matter of time until Ami would start entering the dating scene, but somehow she wasn't completely sure if this had been a good idea or not. Looking at her clock she stood entering her bedroom. Ami had someone in her life, and for what it was worth, she was happy. Saeko wouldn't be the one to come between it, as long as she could be the overbearingly strict parent. Still, even from her room she heard the laughter of the girls. There was something there from the beginning. Something about middle school, and high school that had given her child light in her life, although, Saeko couldn't really be sure what that something was.

Looking at the clock again, she shook away her thoughts. Ami would be out again tonight, another date with that tall girl, another late night that Saeko would sit home and worry. At least, she would have normally. Tonight though, she too had a date. Yes, life was moving forward and although it wasn't always easy, and never nearly forgiving enough, she knew they would be alright. Both herself, and Ami. And as long as they were happy, as long as life continued on, it didn't really matter. She looked one last time at the photograph, back when she had first fallen in love.

If there was one thing that was true back then, that still remained true now, it was that she wasn't always ok, but that she would always be alright. She nodded at that. Ami would be too, not because she would always want to be, but because just like Saeko, somehow, someway, she would have to be.


So yeah, that was the not so little one shot. I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a review, let me know what you think.