AN: Hey! Thanks for the reviews! Hope you'll like this chapter :)
The days rolled by. There were no signs of wraiths since that day in the park. There were also no signs of progress in Naomi's plan to set up Usagi and Seiya. Naomi would try to think of excuses to leave them alone during their walks before and after school. Or she would suggest outings for the three of them and not show up. But still, it was not enough. Everything was at a stand-still; they were still just friends.
Naomi was spacing out during a provincial exam held in class when she was thinking about what she could do. Taiki, sitting beside her, noticed she was not focused. Following her gaze, he realized she was looking at Seiya and Usagi. Actually, he noticed that she did that a lot in class. She never seemed to be paying attention. Instead, she was always looking at Seiya and Usagi sitting together and frowning. So afterwards, he pulled her aside to talk to her.
"Ne Seito-san," he started.
"You can call me Naomi." She was surprised he wanted to talk to her alone but she didn't really care what he wanted to say.
"Naomi-san, are you in love with Seiya?" He blushed and looked away, clearly uncomfortable about asking her. He figured that he would tell her it was a lost cause since Seiya was madly in love with Usagi. Taiki had gotten to know Naomi over the past couple of days and since she was a friend, he didn't want her to get hurt. Normally he wouldn't interfere with other people's feelings, but he didn't know why he cared so much about her.
She was shocked at his question. "Why would you think that?"
"You always seem to be looking at him and you look distressed when you see him and Tsukino-san. I can only think that you're in love with him." Taiki was never one to beat around the bush.
"I'm not." She bit her lip. She was wondering if she should just tell him. Taiki saw she wasn't upset about him asking, just confused.
"Oh. Ok that's good then," he looked a little relieved, "because he really loves her and I just don't want to see you hurt." He couldn't stop himself from saying that last part. When he did, he blushed again and bit his lip.
Naomi smiled. She was so happy that he cared about her feelings. Before he knew it, she hugged him around the waist. Her forehead rested against his chest to hide the tears of joy that were forming in her eyes. "Thank you Taiki-san."
He awkwardly put his hands on her shoulders and patted her. She pulled away after a moment and smiled at him again. Her smile was so warming that Taiki smiled back. They walked off together which was when Naomi had the chance to probe him about his love life to his embarrassment.
If they had looked back, they would have seen Ami standing there heart-broken. She had just walked up to see Taiki and Naomi hugging. 'They look so happy together. I was a fool to think that Taiki was ever interested in me.' She walked back the in the other direction, eyes brimming with tears.
Taiki had told her about his feelings towards Ami and Naomi took the chance to give him some advice.
"You should just come right out and tell her that you love her!" After hearing that Taiki and Ami were still just friends, she was getting frustrated at them too. She knew these two were in love and their situation was not complicated as compared to Usagi and Seiya's.
"What if she doesn't like me?"
"I think everyone can tell that she likes you and you know it too." Naomi tried hard not roll her eyes, "I really don't understand why you don't just tell her. I mean what's holding you back? Don't you want to be with her?"
"I do. But it's just…" He trailed off thinking about his duty as a senshi. He didn't want to be selfish and leave his Princess to pursue his own happiness.
"There's something you have to do so you can't be with her right?" It surprised him how she knew what he was thinking but he nodded. "Whatever it is though, won't you regret not telling Mizuno-san? She'll never know that you love her. Can you really live with that? If she rejects you, which I really doubt, then you can move on with whatever it is that you have to do. But if she loves you back, then you can spend this time together. Even if you have to leave later, you'll be happy to have known what it feels like to be in love and be loved back. Yes it will hurt IF you decide to leave, but you'll gain so much more in return so isn't that worth the pain?"
'This girl…' he was in awe of her. "You're so blunt."
She laughed at his honesty but apologized about it.
"Don't be sorry. I think I needed to hear that. I know what I have to do now." And he smiled at her.
"Shouldn't you meet up with her now then?" She really didn't know when to stop but she just wanted things done her way for once.
He laughed. "I probably should. How about I go to her place after I walk you home?" Knowing that it would be pointless to argue at this point, she agreed.
They reached her apartment and before they parted ways she added, "Trust me, she really does love you. You just have to show her you love her too. Good luck!"
He walked to Ami's house thinking about what he was going to say. He was so nervous and even more so when he pushed the doorbell. He waited for what seemed like an eternity.
There was still no answer after 10 minutes.
He was disheartened but figured the next place she would be was Fruits Crown Parlour with their friends since they didn't have to study after having a test today.
She was eating with her friends at their usual hangout, Fruits Crown Parlour. Ami was still visibly upset at what she had seen earlier. All her friends noticed so they questioned her about it and she told them what she had seen. Of course they all thought she was over-thinking it, but she still wouldn't believe them.
"I'm the Goddess of Love and Beauty and I can tell that she doesn't have feelings for him! Even if she does, it's so obvious that he likes you Ami-chan. Don't worry!" Mina said bubbly.
"I don't know, they seemed close and they were so happy together." She sighed. "I don't really want to talk about it anymore." And so they left it alone. The group quickly changed topics, trying to find something to cheer up their blue-haired friend when Taiki suddenly walked up to their table.
"Good afternoon everyone. May I speak with Mizuno-kun alone?" He tried to smile as much as he could but he was so nervous when he saw her.
"You can say whatever you need to say in front of my friends." She wasn't smiling. She wasn't even looking at him. Her eyes were filled with tears with him there so she stared at the table to hide them.
He was shocked at her reaction so he decided to be a little more forceful. "I have something private I want… no, something I NEED to tell you." He gave the rest of the girls a pleading look. They understood that he wanted them to leave and so they did. They quietly slipped out of their seats.
Taiki sat down beside Ami and placed his hand underneath her chin to pull her face towards him. It was then that she noticed that everyone had left. Looking into his eyes, the tears started to fall.
He was confused. He didn't know why she was crying, "What's wrong?"
Ami pulled her face away from his hand and stared at the table again before speaking, "I saw… You… Naomi…" was all she stuttered out before bursting into tears.
He pulled her into his chest with one arm tightly around her shoulder and the other on her head. He smiled as he understood what had happened. With her still in his arms, he leaned his head to her ears and whispered, "There's nothing between Naomi and me. She actually gave me advice to tell you that…" he took a breath, "to tell you that I love you."
She pushed gently him away. He could see the tears stained on her face as she looked away.
"Please don't toy with my heart. I saw the two of you…" she was cut off by his lips pressed against hers. He poured as much of his feelings into his kiss as he can and she melted into his arms. Feeling that she had relaxed, Taiki snaked one of his arms around her waist, pulling her closer. His other arm was around the back of her neck which he tilted slightly, deepening the kiss. They felt like everything in the world had disappeared and time had stopped. It was just the two of them. It was pure bliss.
After a while, they parted for air. He stared into her deep blue eyes and whispered, "Ami I love you… so much."
"I love you too Taiki."
And they kissed again, gently this time. In this moment, everything was perfect.