AN: This is for the 2018 SS mini bang and was posted on AO3 on November 1, 2018. The AO3 version has artwork. Go check it out.
Autumn was a season Ami didn't mind. For her, it was a mixed bag, both terrible and good things had happened. Like most people, however; she remembered the terrible things the most. For one, it was the season in which her father had left her and her mother. Nevertheless, the good outweighed the terrible. At the start of last autumn, she and Ryo had begun dating.
It was also autumn when she and the rest of the Senshi head learned of the Shitennou returning. For some, the Shitennou's reappearance was as natural as the yellow leaves falling from the trees. For others, it was not so effortless. Zoisite's brought with it a rivalry of sorts, he was always challenging her, annoying her to no end. The challenges ended with him asking her out. The request had caught her off guard, but it did not prevent her from rejecting him. Since that rejection, she had not seen the youngest Shitennou.
For this autumn, Ami's hopes of it going well were high. On her birthday, she and Ryo had celebrated their one-year anniversary of dating, so things had started going positively.
Then Ryo called her in the morning and asked her to meet him at the park. His voice was serious when he had called. As she was sitting on a bench waiting for their rendezvous, she contemplated why he'd sounded off. And then she spotted him as he was walking towards her.
Ryo's shoulders were slouched, and his eyes were looking down towards the ground. She frowned. He was like this only when something bad was happening or was going to happen, and it made her tense.
The answer came when Ryo finally reached her.
An apology slipped from his lips first. Then the harshest of phrases tumbled out of his mouth. Ryo was breaking up with her.
It shattered Ami.
He kept talking, but she couldn't listen, the words following his declaration were mere noises, each growing less bearable than the last. Then he stopped and she found the ensuing silence agonizing. After what could be minutes, Ryo finally said goodbye.
Ami watched Ryo's back as he walked away, and it reminded her of when her father had left her, clutching a folded chessboard. The corners of her mouth slowly dropped as she stood up from the bench and trudged back home. Her hopes for the best autumn dashed.
In a coffee shop, Mamoru sat facing the entrance, the three other chairs at his stable sat empty and the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeated the air. His cheek rest on the palm of one hand, while his other one rested on the table. His eyes glanced down at his cell phone when a blinking, green light caught his attention. A cut-off text message from Zoisite's reincarnation appeared on the lock screen once he switched it on, prompting him to unlock the phone and read the whole text message. Mamoru's lips curled into a smile. Zoisite was coming.
In his preoccupied state he did not notice as someone came up to his table until they pulled out one of the chairs and sat down. Mamoru looked up and recognized the young man with short dark hair. "Hello, Ryo," he said.
"Thank you, Chiba, for meeting me," said Ryo. "Is he coming?"
"He just text me to say he is," Mamoru confirmed. He sat his phone down. "I am surprise that you are Ami's ex now."
"Did you mention that I...uh...dumped her?" Ryo asked as his fingers twitched.
"At first, no. But it became necessary in order to get Zoisite to come," said Mamoru. "Why do you to want to have him here?"
Ryo looked away. His shoulders dropped. "I ended it for Ami's own good." He sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "When she was with me, her actions told me that she wasn't really with me. I've known we would never be together forever." Ryo looked at Mamoru. "I never thought this was how it would end. Her denying what she really wants."
Mamoru crossed his arms. One hand rose to touch his chin. "And what does she really want?"
Mamoru closed his eyes. The reincarnated Zoisite almost completely disappeared when Ami had rejected him about a year ago, except for rare occurrences where they would run into each other there'd been no sign of his Shitennou. "Is that why you want to talk to him?"
"Yes. And thank you for choosing this coffee shop," said Ryo. "I would hate for Ami or the girls to see me."
"That's why I choose it. If you want something to drink, get it now before he arrives."
"I will," said Ryo before getting up.
While Ryo went to order something, Mamoru took a sip from his forgotten coffee. It was lukewarm, but considering his profession, filled with long hours and little sleep, he was accustomed to drinking coffee at cooler temperatures. He looked up to see a young man step into the coffee shop. He was glancing around, causing his ponytail to swish back and forth. His hair was black, but in patches near the roots, it was inconsistent. Some parts appeared to be a dirty blond color, while others were a shade or two lighter than the black.
The newcomer spotted Mamoru and his green eyes widened. For a few seconds he stood, immobile, but he gathered his wits quickly enough and sauntered over to Mamoru, pulling out the chair next to him and plopping himself into it "So he's really her ex?" he asked.
It took Mamoru a moment to realize who he was. "Hello Izou," he said. Even if the newcomer was going to ignore basic rules of civility, it didn't he had to. "And yes, he is, but when did you dye your hair?" His eyes quickly took in the man's appearance. The person sitting next to him was indeed Izou, Zoisite's reincarnation. His boyish looking face helped confirmed it.
"Actually, it's Yuki Mizushima," he replied. "I remembered my name from before my life was destroyed by that witch. No more going by Izou for me." He paused, remembering Mamoru's question. "Oh, this hair color allowed me to be hidden in plain sight."
"Ah." Mamoru understood. "That's how you could see me, but I could not." He smiled gently, pleased to be in the company of his friend. "Yuki is a more fitting name for you than Izou."
"Glad you think so." Yuki glanced down at the table. "I wanted to be close in case I was needed," said Yuki just as Ryo returned with coffee cup in hand.
Ryo gave a curt nod towards Yuki before sitting down in the chair across from Mamoru. "Hello," he said. "I guess I should explain why I wanted to meet you."
"You told me that Ami subconsciously wants Yuki," Mamoru decided the direct approach would be best in such a situation. "But how do you know?"
Ryo's eyes looked to Yuki. "He's taller than me. He has long hair. Ami would always stand on her tiptoes when she'd kiss me. Her fingers would run through my hair, as if it were meant to be longer," said admitted before glancing back to Mamoru. "When I'd ask why, she'd be oblivious to what she was doing."
"So she's not realizing it," said Mamoru as he crossed his arms. "And what Usagi has told me suggests that she's not taking it all that well."
"Is it the hives?" Ryo's shoulders dropped, and his eye looked down at his cup.
"What hives?" Yuki glanced between Ryo and Mamoru. "What's going on with her?"
Mamoru met Yuki's eyes. "It's stressed-induced hives. She's gotten them more often of late." Mamoru looked at his own coffee cup. "Most times it's love letters triggering it. Those letters have been coming more frequently."
"How frequent exactly?" Yuki arched one eyebrow.
"Almost daily." Mamoru looked up at Ryo. "Do you have a suggestion, Ryo?"
"Ami needs to stop denying it," said Ryo. "Don't try to force it. I did and I am sorely regretting it." He looked away and his body tensed. "My one wish is for her to acknowledge what she really wants."
"We'll try to make that happen." Mamoru's lips curled upwards. "Right, Yuki?"
"Yeah, we will," said Yuki. "I feel for you Ryo, but I hope to shower Ami with my love."
Mamoru glanced over to Yuki, whose eyes were focused on Ryo. His lips formed a hint of a smile. He was sitting up straighter than he was before.
Ryo pushed his chair back and stood up. "Yuki, thank you. And Mamoru please reach out if you need help. Yuki?"
"Try wandering around, especially near the arcade or the fruit parlor. Ami might come to you without realizing it."
"Ah...okay? I guess."
"Goodbye, Mamoru, Yuki," said Ryo before he left.
"You know I think his suggest is worth a try," said Mamoru.
"And how would you even know that?" Yuki asked.
"I've been through it in this life with Usagi."
Yuki looked at Mamoru. His mouth opened and closed a few times.
"It's not too hard," said Mamoru. "I ran into Usagi quite a bit without intending to."
"Really?" Yuki furrowed his brow.
"Yes," said Mamoru. "Come over to my place. I'll help you."
"Alright," said Yuki. "Can we start tonight?"
"Sure," said Mamoru before standing up. "Time?"
"After dinner. I'll call," said Yuki. "Just give me directions to your place."
The door swung open. Yuki stepped inside and closed the door. He let out a sigh as his shoulders dropped slightly. Then he slid off his shoes before walking over to his couch. He plopped down and leaned back. His eyes stared up at the ceiling, and his mind drifted back to what he was doing since dinner.
His planning session with Mamoru went better than expected.
They worked out the things that he had needed to make it easy for Ami to come across him. Then the list was narrowed down to a few things. After that, Yuki and Mamoru spent some time catching up. When Yuki was getting ready to leave, Mamoru asked him a question. When he finds Ami tomorrow, Mamoru wanted to know if Yuki was okay with being mentioned. A few minutes past before Yuki shook his head. He didn't want Ami know yet. Mamoru accepted the answer and let Yuki leave without anything else.
As he was thinking of earlier, his eyes had slid close. Yuki opened his eyes and began to think back to a far older memory. As that older memory crept into his mind, a frown appeared on his face. Yuki didn't like thinking of it. It had left him feeling horrible then. His hands curled into fists. Most times he would shove this memory away. But tonight he wasn't. Yuki felt it was time to face it and learned from it.
Especially since it was the memory of Ami rejecting him.
Yuki's eyes slid closed as the memory fully came forward. He could remember feeling joyful on that day. His current life's memories had started returning that day. He wanted to tell Ami that and had been searching for her. When he had found her, she was sitting on the edge of a fountain. He paused to take her in. Her eyes were watching the fountain as the water flow from one part to another.
He remember walking up to her. Then he called out to her, and she looked up to him. Her eyes narrowed for a moment but looked away. She greeted him before he began to spill everything he wanted to talk to her about. Her hand curled as he talked. Then he remembered asking her out. For a few moments, it was tense as Ami remained silent.
Then her eyes met his, and she flat out rejected him.
It was a quick rejection, and as Yuki's eyes open to the present, he recalled how Ami's eyes looked then. Those blue eyes had glared harshly at him then, but there was a flicker in them that buoyed Yuki's hopes. Those eyes had been looking beyond him, not at him. Occasionally, the harshness in those eyes would soften and reveal Ami's unsureness.
Remembering what she looked like on that day reminded Yuki why he decided to dye his hair this dark black color. Deep down Yuki had a feeling that Ami would eventually want him. However, it would not do him any good if he was tired. Glancing to the clock, he decided that he should get ready for bed and dream of the future.
For almost thirty minutes, Mamoru had wander through the library that Usagi mentioned. Usagi was sure that Ami had came to this library. His eyes stayed peeled, and as he passed by a desk covered with books, his eyes spotted Ami's blue hair. She was hunched over the desk with a pen in one hand. The other hand rested on an open book, holding the book open. Long sleeves covered her arms, but her wrist was red. He frowned for a moment before walking up to the desk. "Ami? How are you?" Mamoru asked.
Ami looked up. "Mamoru, why are you here?"
"Everyone is worried." Mamoru's eyes glanced at her wrists. "Are the hives getting better?"
She looked away and tugged on her sleeves. "The same."
"The same?" Mamoru frowned. "For how long? Are you doing anything to help you not get them?"
Ami began to shake like a leaf in the wind. "How can I? This all started...when Ryo dumped me."
Mamoru took a step towards Ami and wrapped his arms around her. Her shaking slowed. Then it stopped. He smiled. "Reach out to us," he said. "You're welcome to come by my place."
"Are the guys over there often?"
"Not often, but Zoisite has not been over," said Mamoru. "I hadn't seen him until recently. He was hiding in plain sight."
Ami pulled away slightly. Her blue eyes looked up to him. "Is he recognizable?"
"I was not able to see him whenever he happened to saw me," said Mamoru. "Do you think of him?"
Ami glanced at the books. "I wish he was around."
"He didn't take it too well with you dating Ryo."
Ami slipped out of his arms. Her back turned slightly towards him. "I wish I had remember him at that time"
"You couldn't help it." The corners of Mamoru's mouth turned slightly down. "We all can't remember at the same time."
Ami's eyes glanced over to him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He nodded towards her. "I'll see you later."
She didn't feel like doing anything. As soon as she got home, she dumped her bag by her desk. Then she laid down. Eventually the tears would come. Then she would fall asleep. However, tonight was a different story.
Instead of laying down, her feet took her to the kitchen and then to the fridge. Opening the fridge door revealed to Ami enough items to make a simple sandwich. If she wanted anything else, a long-delayed trip to the store would have to occur. A sandwich would do for the moment. She pulled out the items she needed and closed the fridge door.
The minutes it took to make the sandwich went by quickly. When it was completed, the sandwich was smaller than ones she made in the past. But it was big enough for her current appetite. Recently, she hadn't been eating at night for the past few days. Tonight was different, and Ami thought it was because of Mamoru's hug from earlier. It had made her felt loved (even though it was a brotherly kind of love).
Ami took the finished sandwich to the table and began to eat it. Usually, by this time, she would have book open, but tonight was different. What Mamoru had told her was something for her to think about. He was right about her hives. Their raised bumps all across her skin caused her to itch. The hives from this morning were still there. As she was finishing her sandwich, she glanced down at her wrists. They were red with the subtle hints of where she had itched them.
Once only crumbs were left of the sandwich, Ami pushed up her sleeves. Her fingers ran against the raised bumps. Memories of their appearance began to flood her mind. Then a far older memory slipped into her mind. It was one from the Silver Millennium. As it took hold, Ami's eyes slid close.
The memory was one of the few times she went to Earth for something other than her princess. This memory was when she went to Earth for Zoisite. She didn't need to find him. He found her. As she started to vent about life, he listened. The single men on the moon were all sending her letters. The stress was getting to her and causing her to get hives. As she vented to him, Zoisite led her to his rooms. Then he allowed her to run her fingers through his hair.
As the memory ended, her fingers twitched. How she felt then made her wish Zoisite could come see her now. His hair was so smooth and so nice. Thinking about it made her smile but then she frowned. Her eyes became watery. Then the tears started to run down her face. Her eyes opened, and she shuffled over to the phone. After picking it up, she dialed Mamoru's number. Her hand clenched the phone as she waited and waited. "Hello. This is Chiba."
His voice was almost enough to make her tears fall. But she was able to control it. His voice reminded her of the memory. It also reminded her why she called. "Mamoru...it's me."
"Ami? What's wrong? Do you need to come over? Or I could come visit you, if you want," said Mamoru.
"Zoisite. Can you…contact him?" Ami's fingers curled gripping the hem of her shirt.
"I will not be able to get in contact with him until tomorrow," said Mamoru. "He's around, so you might be able to find him."
"But what if I can't?" The tears started to run down her face.
"Cheer up, Ami." Mamoru's voice stopped her tears. "I'll ensure you get to meet him in two days time."
Ami's fingers let go of her shirt hem. "Thank you, Mamoru."
"No problem. Anything else?"
"Hmm...no, but why did you say earlier that Zoisite was unrecognizable?"
"You should figure that out on your own. It's only one thing he change."
"One thing…." Her mind pictured Zoisite from the last time she had saw him. The most distinctive thing about him was always his hair. "Did he cut his hair?"
Mamoru laughed. "It's not that." Ami frowned. "He probably still cares about his long hair like he did in the last life."
That fact was something she had remembered, bur it was easily forgotten. "I guess he would."
"If you need anything, let me know."
"Thanks. I really appreciated."
"You're welcome. Talk to you later."
"Bye." When she heard the dial tone, she hung up the phone.
Talking to Mamoru had made her feel lighter. His words had been exactly what she needed. Her legs had started moving and took to her bedroom. Her eyes glanced through the room. Her books and school work sat on the desk. The empty aquarium sat as a reminder of past troubles. However, it was a reminder of her dreams.
Ami walked over to the desk and sat down in the chain. Her eyes looked over to the aquarium. Her mind imagined when it was full and with that troublesome fish. Then her mind drifted to Setsuna's advice from before that time. Ami closed her eyes and tried stopping those memories. Back then feelings of not being strong ruled over her. Now feelings of guilt and shame made her feel even more inadequate compared to those feelings.
All these feeling made her feel horrible. Just remembering how she treated Zoisite when he first appeared after Beryl made her feel ten times worst. Recalling that feeling made her start sobbing. She regretted pushing Zoisite away. His face when she rejected him appeared in her mind. It was like it was yesterday, not a year ago. His face from then did not stop her sobbing, but made it worse. Eventually, she cried herself to asleep at her desk.
Her whole body ached. Sleeping at her desk had ensured that, but her body aching was not the only thing going wrong for Ami today. A lovely love greeted her at school, and the stress got to her. The hives that appeared made her whole morning terrible. Then at lunch, she had no appetite. Her friends tried to get her to eat, but they all failed. She even rejected Makoto's offer for dinner.
When school ended, Ami was glad none of her friends were in her class. It made it easier for her to leave before anyone could find her. But Usagi did find her. She wrapped her arms around Ami. "You can talk to us, Ami," said Usagi.
Ami looked away. "I know."
"Mamo said you called him." Usagi frowned. "But Mamo didn't tell me why though."
Ami's eyes looked to Usagi. Her friend's sad eyes made her feel guilty. "Zoisite," she said. "I ask Mamoru about him."
"Oh! You should walk near the arcade and fruit parlor," said Usagi. "I met him in that area. Didn't recognize him at all."
"Mamoru mentioned he was different." Ami stepped away from Usagi. "He didn't say how. Only mentioned he was unrecognizable."
"If you can't find him, I'm sure Mamo can arrange it." Usagi smiled. "He has Zoisite's phone number."
"You're welcome," said Usagi before waving goodbye and then leaving Ami.
Now Ami was alone and decided to take Usagi's advice. The arcade was not too far out of her way. As she walked towards the arcade, Ami started to feel horrible. A slight headache started. Her hand reached up and rubbed her forehead. That didn't help, but she finally reached the area or the arcade.
Then she looked up to see a man with long, dark black hair. Although the hair color was standard for Tokyo, this man's hair captivated her. It was different some how, but why alluded her. Ami was determined to figure out the difference, even if it meant she needed to ask the man. She hustled to get closer to the man.
As she was getting close to him, a wave of dizziness hit her. It wasn't enough to stop her. She kept going forward. Once he was in reach, she felt unsteady. Her arms reached out, and her fingers grabbed part of the man's shirt. He stopped, but as his head turn towards her, she collapsed against him. His voice came to her ears, but none of his words got through to her. Then she fainted.
AN: I don't know if many you have heard about the attack that has been going around here. This site was attacked by someone using a script on their profile page to attack other users. If you were login and checked a user with an infected profile, your profile would become infected. The Fanfiction subredit did provide more details. Look for CU Hacks because the hack would change infected profile to say anti-CU. This hack has encouraged me to post on AO3 first before posting here.