*_* MARMALADE MERCURY *_*
EP 7a: TOWER TOUR TROUBLE. COMPLICATIONS CONTINUE.
Ami heard birds. She opened her eyes and blinked over at the window to see the dawn of the new day. She smiled, sitting up in bed and taking in the peaceful scene. All was calm, soothing and serene. Ami threw off the covers and turned away from the window.
Her gaze fell on the Mercury plushie sitting on her desk and abruptly the mood was shattered.
Thoughts of Greg flew into her mind, quickly leading to thoughts of Urawa. Leading to thoughts of the incident the other night. And Minako. And just what had Minako said to Urawa after pulling him aside?
‘The chess match interested me.’ In what? Unlikely that it was chess. Maybe in Ami’s situation? Was Minako playing matchmaker? Or, illogical as it sounded, HAD it interested Minako in Urawa? But she and Greg had been talking over the weekend, right?
Ami just didn’t have the answers.
She hadn’t seen Minako on the Tuesday after the incident, nor had Urawa spoken of it at school. He’d mentioned the chess match, thanked Ami again for coming by, but that was mostly it – he’d even seemed a little distant. Of course, Ami hadn’t asked him anything either… she wasn’t sure she wanted to know…
Ami shook her head and turned back to look at the window and the rising sun. She really had to stop letting her thoughts stray like this… it was ridiculous what her imagination seemed to dream up at times.
Anyway, there was some sort of class trip today to the Tokyo Tower. Cooperative effort between geography and science teachers most likely. But at least this was something she could easily deal with.
“Built in 1958, 333 meters (1,089 feet) tall,” Ami murmured to herself as she moved to start preparing for the day. “Has two view points at the 150 meter and 250 meter points….”
Urawa woke up and glanced out his window. The sun was beginning it’s climb into the clear blue sky. Insanely, he was reminded of Ami… Ami, with her deep blue eyes, that thick blue hair of hers and the adorable way she blushed…
Urawa pressed a hand to his forehead.
Darned if you do, darned if you don’t. Go for her, and you scare her off. But sit back, and Greg probably ends up with her. At least, that was the general idea he’d gotten from his conversation with Minako.
Minako… Urawa lay back onto his bed. An interesting girl. Hardly as intelligent as Ami, but she seemed to have a certain amount of insight. Urawa rubbed his chin, trying to recall their conversation of last Monday evening.
“Umm, Minako, exactly what is so important about chess that it can’t wait?” Urawa protested. “I was in the middle of talking with Ami.”
Minako nodded. “That’s what I want to talk to you about,” she admitted. Urawa blinked and Minako smiled slyly. “Urawa – it’s no secret that you like Ami, not even to her.”
Urawa blushed a bit. “Er, ok…,” he responded, wondering where this was going.
Minako smiled again before assuming a more serious look. “But… well, I was talking with her earlier. You’ll have to watch you don’t push it too much,” Minako advised. “Ami… well, it looks like she’s worried about getting involved in any sort of relationship again.”
Urawa sighed. “I gathered she was having trouble,” he said. “And I know I probably stepped out of line today. But… but I can’t just sit back! I mean Ami, she’s… she’s…,” Urawa gestured with his right hand as words failed him. “She’s Ami!”
Minako nodded. “She obviously means a great deal to you. As she does to me and the rest of her friends.”
“I guess I’m basically telling you this because I like you, and I don’t want this situation to become any more messed up than it already was before Sewaya opened his big mouth. I have a feeling that Greg got the edge mainly because he showed up at the right time.”
Not to mention, perhaps, the living accommodations, Minako added to herself.
“It’s not that I want to drive Ami away from him,” Minako concluded, “but I do think you deserve a fair shot.”
At least, she was 99% sure it wasn’t because she wanted to drive Ami away from Greg. Not like he’d suddenly gravitate to her, after all… but the main thing was looking for Ami to decide, since that would help not only Ami but Urawa, Greg, and her too.
Urawa sighed again in reply. “I’d sort of thought as much,” he admitted. “You know what this is like? It’s like walking up a stairway to heaven. A long, hard trip, but worth it. Yet just as it looks like you’re arriving there, you accidentally slip and fall… and the whole climbing process has to begin again. Of course, the trip is still worth it but… it’s tiring, and there are other people making the journey this time…”
Minako smiled sympathetically. “I think you’re overdramatizing a bit, but I get the point… actually, I can even relate, in a way. Maybe if you just back off a bit and don’t seem so intense? After all, absence makes the smart think stronger.”
Urawa blinked and paused to analyze that. Then his face cleared. “Er, maybe you mean absence makes the heart grow fonder?” he finally inquired.
Minako frowned. “Well, that too,” she acceded. “Anyway, try to back off a bit and in the meantime we should be able to come up with a way to help her notice the real you.”
Urawa shook his head with a smile. Smart think stronger. How had she come up with that?
Then he sobered. There might be merit to the proverb though. He’d tried to look more aloof about the chess match the other day and not seem so… urgent. Perhaps if Ami saw less of him, she’d want to see more of him? And then everything would work out.
Right, as if it really were that simple. He sort of wanted to see Minako again for a follow up – she seemed to know the situation pretty well. But he hadn’t seen her yesterday and today was that trip to the Tokyo Tower or whatever.
Urawa glanced out the window. Well, at least THAT was something he knew a bit about. Built in 1958, 333 meters (1,089 feet) tall…
“Isn’t it cool? We get out of school today!” Usagi said with a grin.
“Usagi, this is supposed to be an educational experience,” Ami pointed out.
Usagi rolled her eyes. “Oh, I know, I know. But it can be fun too! It’s not like we get stuff like this often. And at least we have each other to tour together. Easy to get lost in the crowds here.”
Ami nodded in agreement. It was a popular tourist spot… actually, maybe they should pick a place of meeting in case they got separated between now and when the class would meet up again.
She opened her mouth to comment, but Usagi was already moving off, intrigued by something. Ami hurried after her friend.
She wondered if Usagi would be up for a look at the museum in the building below the Tokyo Tower… Ami had actually gone there once before, but she wouldn’t mind another trip and it would probably be Usagi’s first time. She wondered if it would be Urawa’s… it was almost certainly Greg’s…
Ami gave herself a mental shake. No, she would NOT think about that today. She’d spent enough time pondering it yesterday, to no avail. This would be a day to relax and learn.
And it was… at first. Ami and Usagi even managed to encounter Makoto.
The problems started when Ami became intrigued by a particular display in the hologram gallery – and then when she turned, Usagi and Makoto had vanished.
Ami felt a momentary rush of panic which she quickly quelled… she DID know the area, after all. She quickly hurried onwards, past some of the people who were around to see if she could catch up, but there seemed to be no sign of her friends. Only a few familiar looking school uniforms. Ami sighed quietly.
Well, she could look around by herself for a bit, maybe they would double back or she’d encounter them again some other way. She should have remembered to set up a meeting place… Ami turned around and took a step. Plowing right into someone.
“Oh!” Ami gasped, staggering back a bit. The stranger quickly caught her arm so she wouldn’t fall. Ami looked up, quickly forming an apology. “Thank you, I-I’m so sorry, I wasn’t… watching…” her voice suddenly trailed off as she realized this wasn’t a stranger at all.
It was Greg. Ami wondered fleetingly if she had some sort of homing device on her the way things like this tended to happen.
Greg smiled at her. “Ah, don’t worry about it,” Greg reassured, releasing her arm and making a vague gesture. “We all lose our coordination once in a while.” He paused and glanced around. “Surely you’re not touring by yourself too?” he continued, surprised.
“Er, no, I… I was with my friends… but we seem to have become separated,” Ami indicated. And of ALL the people to meet now it had to be… wait a minute. “You’re by yourself?” Ami realized. That seemed wrong.
Greg just shrugged. “Figured it was easiest, me being new to the area and all. I mean, you and everyone else have probably been here a dozen times already.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Ami replied. “Some people living near an attraction can just take it for granted. I mean, have you taken a tour of the parliament buildings back in Ottawa of your own volition?”
Greg grinned. “Touche,” he noted. “Though I dare say this is a bit more impressive.”
“What’s more impressive?” came a new voice off to the right. Ami felt her heart start pounding harder in her chest. Were they truly homing in on her hair or something?
“Oh, hi Urawa,” Greg greeted him. “Just meant the Tower and everything. Impressive setup.”
Urawa nodded, glancing from Greg to Ami and back. “Ami’s showing you around?” he inquired, working at keeping his tone neutral.
“No, actually we just ran into each other. Her friends lost her,” Greg explained.
“Ahhhh…,” Urawa replied. “Need some help looking for them then?” he offered, casually turning back to Ami.
Ami bit down on her lower lip as she looked at Urawa – and at Greg.
She was reminded of her medallion, Rei’s charm, tucked into a pocket. She wasn’t sure why she tended to carry it around with her all the time – maybe to remind her that she had to make a decision sometime. But not now, certainly not in public like this. For that matter there were more people here than at the chess match!
So… what, should she just get both of them to help her? Or go off on her own? She wished one of her friends would show up.
“Ami? Hey, Ami, is that you?” Ami blinked… THAT friend she hadn’t expected though… this series of events was really getting a little out of hand.
Ami turned as the girl with the red bow in her hair hurried up. “Hey, Greg and Urawa too! I take it you’re not all skipping class,” Minako grinned.
“Nope, school related… same as you I guess?” Urawa said, replying first and returning her smile.
Ami paused. Was it just her, or did Urawa seem a little more pleased to see Minako then he had been to see her?
Minako nodded in reply, moving over next to Urawa. She then glanced back at Ami… and was surprised to see Ami staring over at her and Urawa with a curious expression on her face. Like she was upset but uncertain at the same time? Did Ami suspect her of matchmaking?
Though even as Minako looked at her friend, Ami quickly turned away from the two of them to look elsewhere. Now why was she… oh, wait, SURELY Ami didn’t think…
“Wait a minute, your school’s here too?” Greg said, turning to Minako and interrupting her line of thought.
“Er, yes, for the most part,” Minako replied. “Why?”
Greg grimaced. “Because… if YOU’RE here, that might mean…”
“Oh, look! If it isn’t the chess chumps.”
“He’s here,” Greg finished with a sigh.
Ami shook her head silently. It was starting to look like Monday all over again.
<commercial break; Ami, Greg and Urawa skating, they trip over Ami’s computer>