The police came to the mansion to take reports after Haruka and Nancy came back. They didn't ask Ami many questions, and when she volunteered a good idea about how to find the man who had chased after Nancy, they told her to leave police work to police. Minako gave her a knowing look just afterward. But she hardly noticed, because she was wondering why Nancy seemed to be so sure of herself talking with the police. Nancy gave them the license number of the car and a description of how it looked and how the man looked. Ami wondered how she had got such a good look when the man was trying to run her over, or shoot her, or catch her to rape her, if he was the rapist the police were looking for.
It must have been a good description, because the police arrested the man the next day.
Ami was the best at solving puzzles, although Usagi had surprised her once--Usagi--but the puzzle of why Usagi had changed so much and why she insisted she would never marry Mamoru and never become queen . . . She was baffled. By the end of their second week in America, Ami had observed enough, and learned enough from what others were willing to tell her, that Nancy knew, and Nancy's mother, and perhaps Usagi's mother. But Ami decided--really felt--that it was better not to ask them. When the time seemed right, she would ask Usagi herself. Meantime, she looked for clues, and cherished a vague hope that she would find something that Usagi had overlooked, and convince her to reconcile with Mamoru.
But the clues she found were few, and disturbing.
One morning, when she was on her way to take a shower, she passed the room that Usagi's parents slept in. Usagi's father was back home, and he had just stepped out of the room, already dressed and ready to go somewhere. Ami looked into the room for a moment, and saw that Ikuko was praying in front of a picture on her dresser. It was a very short prayer. Ami heard Usagi's father call out, "Come on, we'll be late."
Usagi's mother replied, "Just fixing my makeup." Then she put the picture in a drawer.
Ami could see that from where he was standing, Usagi's father would not able to see what his wife was doing. Why would Usagi's mother lie to her husband?
Ami wanted to talk to Usagi, but there always seemed to be someone else with her. Before long, that was what bothered Ami. Without school, and without her mother, Ami realized she was alone. Usagi had been her first real friend, and now . . .
Rei had become even more closed off than before. When Ami tried to get her to talk, Rei would snap at her, or simply ignore her. Minako seemed to be spending most of her time with her mother. Michiru and Haruka were together again, though Michiru was more likely to snap at Haruka and everyone else than Rei. Except for Usagi--Ami did notice that Michiru avoided Usagi a lot, although Ami caught her looking at Usagi several times, when Michiru obviously did not think Usagi could see her.
Hotaru still seemed sad much of the time, though she had started to put on a cheerful face for others. Ami saw her with Usagi quite a lot, but they never seemed to be talking. Setsuna was either with Hotaru, or she was gone. And Nancy also spent time with Hotaru, though, again, they didn't seem to be talking much.
Makoto was alone a lot, usually cooking or working with the potted plants. Sometimes Usagi would help her do simple things, like peel fruit or vegetables, but Usagi seldom did any cooking more complex than popping snacks into the microwave. Makoto wouldn't let Usagi near a plant; she had said long ago that Usagi could probably wilt plastic flowers.
Ami decided to talk with Makoto when she was alone. "Mako-chan, can I help?"
"You don't have to. Cooking isn't your talent. But you can keep me company. That would be nice."
"Well . . . okay . . . Mako, has Usagi told you anything?"
Makoto asked, "You mean about why she broke up with Mamoru?"
"Yes," said Ami.
"Not really," Makoto replied, "She has told me a little about the other boy. Jimmy, Nancy's brother."
Ami said, "What? If you can tell me . . . please?"
Makoto said, "Jimmy was closer to Usagi's age. They met at school. The way she talks about him, I think they were just friends for a long time. Then when he was about to go away to join the armed service here, they made love. And that's how she got pregnant. He died in a plane crash right after."
Ami said, "She hasn't talked to me about him. She hasn't talked to me at all. Not just me . . ."
Makoto said, "I see . . . why don't you just go up and talk with her? She's up. Or at least she was a few minutes ago."
"Is Nancy with her?" Ami asked.
"No. Nancy went out with Minako and her stepsisters. And Hotaru. They won't be back until dinnertime."
"Minako went out without her mother?" Mina-chan seemed to be inseparable from her mother lately.
"Yes. Actually, Nancy and her stepsisters sort of dragged her out. Minako's mother went out with Nancy's mother and Usagi's mother. . . " Makoto stopped her tale, and addressed Ami more directly. "You can talk to me any time. But you need to talk to Usagi. Go on, do it while you can catch her alone."
"Don't you want to talk to her? First?"
Mako stopped kneading the dough she was working with. "You knew her before any of us. Maybe she will tell you."
"She knew Naru-chan long before me," said Ami.
"Yes," said Makoto, "But I don't think she wants Naru-chan to know everything. And even if Naru-chan knows, she won't tell. Think of how long she knew Usagi was Sailor Moon. Please, go talk to Usagi. Now?"
"All right . . ."
Ami drank a glass of water before going to Usagi's room, not really because her throat was dry, but to have something to do first. But once that was done, she mustered her courage, and went. She noticed that Mako was watching her, although she looked down at the dough she was kneading when Ami glanced back at her.
Ami found Usagi sitting up in her bed, reading. Usagi was reading a book, not a manga. "What is it you are reading?" Ami asked.
"The Last of the Mohicans," said Usagi. "An old book."
"For school?" asked Ami.
Usagi replied, "Did you forget I'm not going to school now? I saw a movie of it, and I thought reading the book would be nice."
Ami looked closer. "You read English for pleasure now?"
"It is still work," said Usagi, pointing out two dictionaries beside her in the bed, a Webster's and a Japanese-English one. "But I am so addle-brained I forget to be lazy sometimes." Usagi closed her book. "What do you really want to talk about?"
There was no point in stalling any more. "Will you tell me why you broke up with Mamoru? Why you won't see him?"
Usagi shook her head."It would only bring him pain to see me. I will not see him until he has found someone else. If he sees me before, he will try to make me change my mind. But I will not change my mind. Mamoru and I will never be married. And do not tell me that we must--the future is not what we thought it was. And that is all I will tell you of this."
"That is all!" said Usagi in a commanding tone. Then she softened. "Before you tell me of my own heart, are you sure what is in your own?"
"What do you mean?" asked Ami.
Usagi said. "You have been here for nearly three weeks, and you've hardly spoken to me, or anyone. Hotaru is more outgoing than you. I saw Hotaru help drag Minako out. But they do not bother to drag you out. Why is that?"
Ami said, "I am not much fun."
"No," said Usagi. "They don't try because they've given up."
Ami began to cry. "Why are you like this? You have broken Mamoru's heart, you have hurt Rei, and now you are hurting me. Why? Why can't you be like you were before?"
Usagi took her hands. "I can never be as I was before. But I am your friend . . . " Usagi scooted herself over to Ami so she could hold her. "Always your friend . . . and if you want to mend Mamoru's heart, why not see him?"
"Me?" Ami was shocked.
"Is there anyone else in here? Yes, you. I have seen him flirt with you."
Ami said defensively, "That was just in fun. Mamoru flirts with many girls."
"Yes, I have noticed that . . . "
Ami caught a glimmer of hope. <She does still care about Mamoru.> At least enough to be a little jealous.
". . . But you are right, it is just fun for him. But why not you. Are you free? Did you get back together with Ryo after all this time? Did Suuri Kurume finally get up enough nerve to talk to you? Another boy?"
"No . . . no, I guess I am free. Are you ordering me to see Mamoru?"
Usagi said, "No, just suggesting . . . strongly! You're both great students, you are both going to be doctors--you have much more in common than I ever did with him. What is the harm? See if you might become more than friends."
Ami put her head to one side. "What about Hino-san?"
Usagi said, "Maybe you will have to fight Rei-chan for him, if you find you really want him. I think that either way, you win. If you want him, you are smarter than Rei, and you don't have a bad temper. Mamo-chan respects people with cool heads. If you don't, maybe you will make Rei jealous enough to open herself to Mamoru, and maybe they will find that they should be together. If that happens, you will have really done a kindness for Rei-chan. Don't expect her ever to thank you for it, though."
They laughed. For the moment, Ami forgot about the complications of being a senshi and a member of a nascent royal court, and was just a teenager confronting the pratfalls of first loves.
Then Usagi stopped laughing and grimaced, arching her back for a moment.
"What is it?" asked Ami.
Usagi gasped out, "Oh, I think I ate too many snacks last night. I've had stomach pains off and on since this morning."
"When was your last one?" asked Ami.
"I don't know . . . a little before you came in . . . Ohhh." Usagi arched again. Amy felt her Usagi's belly under her flannel nightgown. "What are you doing?" asked Usagi.
"Feeling your stomach . . . Usagi, I think you are having a contraction."
"I think you are about to have your baby," said Ami.
"But it's not due for twoooo--" Usagi's reply turned into a shriek.
"Babies come when babies come, said Ami. Then she shouted, "MAKO! MAKO!"
Mako came bounding into the room moments later, her hands covered with flour. "What's wrong?"
"Usagi is having her baby now," said Ami
Makoto said, "I'll get Haruka! She can drive!"
Ami called out, "No, call an ambulance. 911. I think the baby may come very soon . . . acchh!"
"What was that?" asked Usagi.
"Your water just broke," said Ami.
Shingo came in the door just as Ami was seeing how dilated Usagi was. He passed out.
The ambulance that was routed to Mako's call crashed. In the confusion that followed, for two hours, whenever anyone called to find out about the ambulance, they were told it was on its way. Finally the mistake was discovered, and another ambulance sent.
The ambulance wreck wasn't the only one that afternoon. Traffic was bad pretty much everywhere for several hours. By the time the mothers got back to the house, the second ambulance had already taken Usagi away. There were police and firemen still there, packing up and finishing their reports. Ikuko went to them and asked what was going on, but she was excited and forgot her English. Mako took her aside and explained, in Japanese. "Usagi had her baby. A little girl. She had it before the ambulance came."
Ikuko said, "Is she all right? Is the baby all right?"
Makoto said, "Yes, I think so. Ami thinks so."
Makoto explained, "Ami delivered the baby. She went with Usagi and the baby in the ambulance."
Ami and Usagi's mother Ikuko stayed overnight at the hospital with Usagi, while everyone else went home. Ms. Leary would have stayed, but she had small children--and she insisted that Nancy come home with her. She didn't boss Nancy much, but maybe she was upset because she couldn't stay with her new grandchild.
In the morning, after they had something to eat at the hospital cafeteria, Ami and Ikuko were coming back to look into the nursery. They saw Mamoru already there, looking at the babies. And they saw others coming from the other direction, with Nancy in the lead. Ami saw Nancy put her arms back, stopping the others. With a glance, Nancy indicated that they should wait, and she went up to Mamoru alone, coming up to him at the same time as Ami and Ikuko.
"Is he the guy?" Nancy asked them, not speaking with Mamoru, who continued to look through the nursery window.
"Yes," replied Ami. "Mamoru? This is Nancy."
Mamoru turned around. "The baby has hair like yours."
"So did her father. Listen, I'm sorry you came out on the short end here . . ."
"Are you close to Usako now?" Mamoru asked.
"Usako?" Nancy asked.
"He means Usagi. It is a, how you say, a nickname," explained Ami.
"Oh . . . yeah, I'm close to her," said Nancy.
"Tell her for me that she has made a beautiful girl." Then Mamoru walked away.
After a moment, Ami went after him. She almost lost him, but before he could turn a corner, she called out, "Mamo-chan!"
He stopped, and waited for her to come up to him. When she was close, she said, "Don't just go away. Come and see Usagi."
Mamoru said, "She does not want to see me. And who are you to call me Mamo-chan? Only Usako calls me that. Only Usako should." He was being authoritative again, speaking to Ami as if she were still a child.
Ami stood her ground. "Hino-san called you that once."
Mamoru smiled faintly. "That is true . . . but that was a long time ago. Nothing happened."
Ami said, "Usagi thinks something might, if you let it."
"What?" Mamoru was surprised.
Ami wasn't sure why she went on, but she did. "Usagi won't see you until you have someone else. She thought maybe Hino-san. Or maybe even . . . me."
Mizuno Ami put authority into her own words: "Who are you to call me Ami-chan?"
Mamoru smiled, and put one finger gently on her chin. "Well, Ms. Mizuno, if you prefer," he said in English.
"She said that we are alike in many ways . . . we will both be doctors, we like to do challenging schoolwork, we . . . we are much alike. You must admit that. You must--"
"Right now I think I must do this." He brought his head down and tilted it just enough, and kissed her, on the lips, for a long time. When he finished, he took her shoulders in his hands, and said, "You will never be Usako. But, Usako will never be you."
Ami wasn't sure what she was feeling. "Ne-e-eh . . . will you call me? Later? Sometime?"
"Yes. I will." Then he let her go, turned around, and walked away.
Ami took a long moment to become aware of anyone else. Then she noticed that several familiar people were looking at her. One of them was Rei.
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