Author: mathtans

Writer and high school mathematics teacher.

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 9b

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<commercial break; Ami, Greg and Urawa skating, they trip over Ami’s computer>

“Hey!! And how come you always cut out like that as soon as I make my appearance?” Sewaya griped.

He scanned the crowd to see where Urawa and Minako had slipped off to, during his initial complaint. Other people started to turn and look. Greg was one of them.

“Sewaya, what a surprise,” he commented dryly, coming over. “Is there a problem?”

Sewaya spun on his heel. “Aha! You too! You’re the problem! Along with my no good cousin – who’s too much of a coward to come forward!” He glared out at the crowd again. “Because he’s too busy having a good time with Minako!”

There was a series of ‘clinks’ as a bunch of coins fell on the ground. Cheeks going mildly pink, Ami quickly scrambled to retrieve them.

“Jumping to conclusions as always, I see,” Urawa finally stated, re-emerging from the throng.

“Oh, so you’re not going out with Minako behind my back?” Sewaya accused. “This isn’t the first time I’ve seen you together.”

“I can be with whoever I like,” Minako said exasperatedly, as she followed Urawa out of the crowd. “All I know is I WON’T go out with you – so what did you do, follow me here from school??”

Sewaya blinked, eyes quavering. “Minako… don’t say such things…”

“If you can jump to conclusions, why can’t she?” Urawa returned.

Sewaya pointed an accusing finger at Urawa. “This is all your fault! Well I’ll show Minako that I’m better than you… Urawa, I challenge you!!”

Greg smacked his forehead. “Eruh, perhaps you two could take this outside then?” he offered.

“I challenge you too, Greg!” Sewaya countered. “I know you’re both in on this, probably have been since the chess match!”

“What’s going on?” Motoki inquired, coming over to see exactly what was happening.

“Oh, just your average insanity,” Greg muttered under his breath.

“Er, nothing,” Urawa quickly piped up. “Me and my cousin were just setting up a chess match here with Greg…”

“No, not chess,” Sewaya declared, shaking his head. “We need something different, that contest is no longer appropriate. BUT the additional penalty for the loser shall be the same!” he added.

“Uh, Sewaya – your hair is already mostly sheared,” Urawa pointed out, raising his eyebrow.

“So I’ll cut it even shorter!” Sewaya shouted, clenching his hand into a fist and pulling it down dramatically. The others exchanged a glance, imagining Sewaya in even shorter hair. Everyone began snickering quietly.


A few minutes earlier, Mamoru had come up behind Motoki, congratulating him. “Looks like you pulled everything together well,” he commented. “You might not even need my or Kato’s help.”

Motoki turned and smiled. “Thanks. Maybe I overreacted a bit but this is the biggest deal we’ve had here in a while, those Senshi are a pretty popular bunch. Your support is appreciated.”

“Hey, whatever we can do, just say the word,” Kato put in shyly.

Motoki blinked at the sound of raised voices coming from around the entrance. “Er, hang on a minute,” he advised, moving to see what the trouble was.

Mamoru watched him go, then shrugged at Kato. The two of them followed Motoki through the crowd and looked on at the developing scene. As Sewaya started rambling on about hair cutting, Mamoru was struck by an idea.

“Hey,” he piped up. “If you’re looking for a contest in the Game Centre, why not see how many game tokens you can sell to people?” He fired a grin at Motoki who raised an appreciative eyebrow. That certainly might be good for business…

Sewaya paused, then frowned. “No, I don’t buy into that,” he retorted. “I’m not stupid – Greg has an advantage, working here! We need a level playing field, like… like the new video game! That’s it! High score takes all! Now, are you in or are you chicken?” he said, turning to look at Greg then Urawa.

Urawa glared at his relative. “Put it like that and I’m in,” he said angrily. “You know I’m better than you at video games.”

“Just so long as you both conduct yourselves in a civilized manner,” Motoki advised. “Not to mention wait in line.”

Sewaya and Urawa, nodded continuing to look at each other. Greg simply rolled his eyes. The crowd started breaking up and Motoki walked back over to Mamoru and Kato.

“Well, glad that’s settled,” he commented.

Mamoru grinned. “Handled like a pro,” he commented back, turning away to go after his friend. So, as it turned out, only Kato noticed Usagi appear in the Game Centre doorway.


A few minutes earlier, Usagi had been walking down the main street… followed by her somewhat persistent admirer. “Yes, I got out of detention,” Usagi reiterated. “So?”

“So, you never answered my earlier question,” Kaijin noted. “About the date thing. See, with Ginga Seijuurou gone, it doesn’t look like anyone else has been asking about you – which is really a shame for someone as wonderful as you are.”

Usagi blinked back at him in surprise. What? Was this guy for real? “I…” she started uncertainly. He really couldn’t compare to Mamo-chan. “I already have someone,” she stated emphatically.

Kaijin raised his eyebrows. “Really… I’ll have to meet this guy if he shares the same tastes that I do,” he commented absently.

“Euh… right…” Usagi said uncertainly. What did tasting have to do with anything? Well, it reminded her that she was hungry for one thing.

Usagi turned the corner, heading for the Crown Cafe – and spotted the banner at the Arcade. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “The new video game is working!” She hurried down the street, Kaijin still trailing after her.

Usagi rushed up to the entrance. Bonus! It looked like Mamoru was in there! But just before Usagi walked through the doors, she saw the person next to him. Kato. The scene seemed to freeze for a minute, Mamoru half turned away and starting to move back into the crowd. With a brief look at Usagi, Kato moved back, slipped her arm around Mamoru’s and followed him.

Usagi felt her heart sinking as her mood crashed back down to the ground.

“Going in?” Kaijin inquired.

Usagi jumped and turned. “Ah… n-no, I suddenly don’t feel too well,” she said. There were a lot of people inside after all, so it didn’t look like she’d be able to try out the game right away. Besides, she didn’t really want this guy trailing after her to watch. With one more quick glance inside, she quickly turned and hurried back down the street, biting her lip.

Kaijin paused, glancing inside the Arcade to see if he could spot what had unnerved her. What he saw caused both his eyebrows to go up. “So…” he murmured. “You work here, do you Greg…?”


A few minutes later, Minako was still upset. “I feel so embarrassed,” she muttered. She’d slipped back to be with Ami when the shouting had started and was now hanging with her to avoid Sewaya as they all awaited ‘the challenge’.

Ami smiled nervously. “It’s not your fault,” she pointed out.

“I know,” Minako grumped. “It’s Sewaya’s. I wonder what it was I did that warranted such an affliction to fall upon me.”

Ami shrugged. “Well, he seems to think you’re going out with Ura– his cousin,” she corrected.

Minako paused, wondering how to play this. “Well, Sewaya has an active imagination,” she indicated. “Though Urawa certainly has some endearing qualities – wouldn’t you agree, Ami?” she hinted.

“I- yes, I suppose,” Ami said, quickly moving to sort out the change in her pockets. So was Minako really looking into Urawa, she wondered? The coincidences were starting to pile up. Ami realized that in her quest for answers with regards to Greg she’d temporarily forgotten the problems on the other side of the coin. For a minute she questioned whether both Urawa and Greg’s intentions really WERE directed towards her.

Ami slipped a hand into her side pocket, fingering her medallion and allowed herself a small smile. No, as messed up as the situation was, they’d both had feelings for her at some time…

“All right!” Sewaya declared. “We’re in! And just to show you how gracious I am, I’ll give each of you the first crack.”

Urawa glanced at Greg, who simply shrugged and gestured. Urawa nodded and dropped in his money. The screen came up with ‘Select a Senshi’; he picked Mercury. Sewaya snickered. “Don’t make this too easy,” he commented. “I hear she’s the weakest.”

“But she’s higher in agility and there’s a bonus for finding hidden traps,” Urawa commented as the title screen came up.

Ami and Minako exchanged a glance and shrugged. “What’ll they come up with next?” Minako murmured.

The game began. Urawa was quite good, jumping and diving at just the right times and firing digital chips in all the right places… he even managed to execute a helicopter spin. Ami caught herself blushing as the skirt of her digital representation flipped up. Maybe there WAS such a thing as too much commercialization.

Eventually Urawa had exhausted his three lives and his score stood at an impressive 122,928.

Greg stepped forward and put in his money. He also picked Mercury. Ami and Minako exchanged another glance. “Five hundred yen Sewaya picks Venus,” Minako muttered.

Ami smiled slightly. “No bet,” she responded.

The game began. Greg had obviously been paying some measure of attention to how Urawa had handled the situation. He evaded the first few problems with ease – but then took a different route behind a computer conduit that Urawa hadn’t even noticed.

His score continued to increase as Greg started to take a couple of somewhat foolish risks – that succeeded. It took several minutes before he lost his first life… which he quickly gained back by discovering a free one.

Ami found herself thinking back to the first time she’d played the Sailor V video game in here. The scores were comparable – as was the increasing crowd size. Ami frowned. Was it her imagination or were there a lot of girls rooting for Greg? His game finally ended, and he had easily finished ahead of Urawa with 159,964.

Sewaya tried not to look impressed. “I can beat that in my sleep,” he commented. “Especially since I’m picking a more powerful Senshi… Venus!”

“And they say Urawa’s the only psychic around,” Minako whispered to Ami with a giggle. Ami simply shook her head.

The game began. Sewaya’s skill looked to be just as good as that of Urawa. But in trying to be more like Greg, he made a few foolish risks – that did not succeed. Sewaya was soon down to his last life. Realizing this, he started to play a slightly more conservative game, and his score continued to climb, slowly but steadily. He had soon passed 100,000 and Urawa started to worry.

Then, just before arriving at the end of his current level, a hole opened up beneath the digitalized Venus’ feet – with a cry, she plunged in, and the game ended. Sewaya’s score was 122,914.

“Mercury would have been able to perceive that hole,” Urawa commented, trying not to sound too relieved.

Sewaya’s jaw dropped. “Four… fourteen lousy points?” he gasped. “I lost by only *14* points??”

Urawa slapped his cousin on the back. “Cheer up,” he commented. “You said the short hair look was in. Just think how many girls you can impress when you make it even shorter.”

Sewaya swivelled his gaze from the video game screen to Minako’s face. “Don’t even think it,” she advised him.

“MinakoooOOOoo… don’t say such things…” Sewaya cried out with a plaintive look, eyes seeming as if they could brim with tears at any moment.

The others sweatdropped as Motoki appeared. “Well, glad to see things are settled…” he said, looking around. He held out some game tokens to Sewaya. “I’ll even give you a consolation prize.”

Sewaya took the tokens and stared at them despondently. There was a brief pause.

“Er, now how about we all get back to work?” Motoki concluded.


“Well, that went well,” Greg commented as he and Ami walked up the steps to their house. Things had broken up pretty quickly after Sewaya’s loss. Then at the end of the day, Greg, Ami, Mamoru and a few other workers had helped clean up a bit before Motoki closed down.

Ami merely nodded as the two of them proceeded through the front door. The first thing that struck them was the luggage in the hallway. As the two students looked at each other in confusion, Mrs. Mizuno appeared from around the corner. “Oh good! You’re both home. Maybe you can give me a hand in my last minute packing.”

“Packing?” Ami inquired, confused.

“Yes – this is the weekend of the big medical conference I’ve been organizing,” Mrs. Mizuno reminded her daughter. “The one I’ve been planning for the last month and a half? Surely you didn’t forget.”

“That’s this weekend?” Greg said, raising his eyebrow.

Ami’s mother nodded. “Didn’t Ami tell you? I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning, putting the house in the care of both of you. That of course assumes I can find my travel bag…” Mrs. Mizuno shook her head and wandered off upstairs.

Ami stared after her. The medical conference. She remembered now. Her mother had been very excited about it last month – hadn’t it been the main reason behind why she’d forgotten to mention Greg’s arrival?

And that’s when it hit her. This wasn’t one of the usual cases when Ami was left alone in the house. For the next couple days, Ami would be in the house… with Greg. Ami’s eyes widened as she felt her heart start to pound faster in her chest. Just the two of them, together, all by themselves.

‘What do I do?’ Ami gasped silently. ‘Oh my, what do I do??’

<closing theme>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 9a

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<opening theme>


Greg absentmindedly popped some bread in the toaster and finished heating up the two breakfast plates. Ami’s mother had left for her usual morning shift already and Greg was just waiting for Ami to come downstairs now.

He wondered what Ami was getting so upset about recently – not for the first time. Last night he’d felt especially concerned when Ami had proceeded directly up to her room for the second night in a row.

Actually, he was pretty sure the cause was both his and Urawa’s actions – even though he was trying to minimize that by not getting too involved – but it meant he was at a loose end for knowing what he could do to fix things. He’d almost asked last night if he could do anything, help somehow… but when he’d finally gotten into her room, he’d found he couldn’t say much beyond what he had. So it seemed that he would just have to continue trying to keep Ami from obsessing over the situation… and hope she could work it out.

Greg started eating and Ami showed up a few minutes later.


“Good morning…” she said, tentatively. They hadn’t had much of a chance to speak the previous night. Ami wondered if she should say something now.

“Morning,” Greg replied casually. Ami slid into the opposite chair and started to eat her own breakfast.

They slipped into the usual breakfast routine, eating with some idle chatter, mostly about homework. But Ami finally decided not to let the opportunity slip by. If there was one thing the analysis of last night had told her, it was that she had to start taking some more decisive action. It was the only way to resolve the situation.

“So, Greg… what was your actual motivation for climbing onto my balcony last night?” she inquired as he rose to place his dishes in the sink.

Greg didn’t turn. “As I said, to distract you and get some exercise…”

“Greg, please don’t dodge the question this time,” Ami responded.

Greg turned and blinked.

Ami fought the impulse to blush. “Look, I… I just mean that… well, I’ve been doing some thinking. You always seem to be doing things for me… but is it really for me? Do you even know you’re doing them? Is it just because we’re living together? What?” If she could only figure out why Greg was covering up his feelings.

Greg raised an eyebrow. “It might be that you’re thinking a little too hard,” he ventured.

“You’re still being evasive,” Ami pointed out.

Greg laughed and leaned on the counter. “All right then. If I say I only climbed onto your balcony because I was bored and wanted to see your reaction… would that help?”

Ami paused. “I… maybe,” she responded, suddenly uncertain. So it didn’t mean anything?

“Then what if I said I did it because I was genuinely concerned for your well being?”

“I…” Ami stopped, flustered. “Greg, why do you always say and do things so… offhandedly? It’s hard to know when you’re actually serious.”

Greg’s smile faded slightly. “We all have our secrets…” he replied quietly. Ami blinked and opened her mouth to ask what he meant, but Greg was already turning to leave the kitchen. “I just try to keep you on your toes is all,” he declared as he parted, tossing the full smile back over his shoulder. “Now better hurry up so we’re not late for school.”

Ami looked back at her plate with a frown, quickly finishing her meal. Perhaps she knew even less than she thought she did…


Greg flipped through the pages of the book without reading. He couldn’t read… his thoughts kept going back to Ami. It looked like he would have to watch what he said around her. He’d almost forgotten himself that morning! It was important not to open up to anybody, especially her. The balcony thing had probably been a bit too much after all… maybe it would be best to try and sever ties with Ami.

Stop the teasing, stop the hinting, stop doing things for her – after all, couldn’t that solve things? She’d end up with Urawa, no one would ask him any personal questions, and everything would be okay. Sort of like how things had gone in England… he’d been able to wrap matters up there with no problem. So how was this situation any different?

Greg sighed, finally closing the book. He knew what the difference was: Ami herself. And he wasn’t even going out with her! Maybe the fact that they were living together was more of a curse than a blessing. The physical proximity invited an emotional one too.

Greg shook his head, picking up his book and getting up from the library table. Well, he knew he couldn’t avoid worrying about her well being, somehow that just wasn’t in him. So he’d just have to work faster while living here, stop spending so much time on frivolous things – like this reading. As if he could use it to become a great writer anyway. In the meantime…

He found he didn’t like keeping things from Ami. Someone so lovely, deep blue eyes complimenting her hair so well… but he should have known she’d start wondering about him after a while, a person of her intelligence. And if he completely admitted his feelings, not only might that cause problems for her, but if they really got together afterwards and she discovered that…

Well, anyway, if he didn’t see her quite so much, maybe that would help. And if he did see her, he supposed he’d simply have to keep dodging, like he had this morning. Because some things… you just couldn’t tell anyone.

Greg replaced the book on the shelf and headed out of the school’s library, glancing at his watch. Classes were probably going to start again soon…

“Hey! Library again, huh? Still looking for books on creative writing?”

Greg turned. After a couple of seconds he recognized the guy from two weeks ago… the one who had kept smiling at him and who had asked him back to his house. “Uhhh, yeah…” he said uncertainly.

“Didn’t catch Umino’s “Lunchtime Views” then?”

“No,” Greg responded, taking a step back as the other guy took two forward.

“I suppose you’re still not interested in the books back at my place then?” the stranger responded, peering at Greg with a quirky smile.

Greg snapped his fingers. “I forgot! I need to call someone about an important matter before classes start! Er, sorry, maybe I’ll see you around some other time…”

Good enough excuse – maybe he’d even try calling the Game Centre and ask to work a little late this evening. Avoid any possible confrontations with Ami in the evening that way too. Greg backed off another two steps then turned and hurried away.

The other person watched him go with an amused look on his face. “So…” he murmured. “You still don’t know who I am…?” He glanced around and was about to move off when he caught sight of telltale odango moving in his direction.

“Usagi!” he called, moving to meet her. Usagi turned to him as he approached and rolled her eyes slightly. “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Lunchtime Views himself. Hi Kaijin.”

“Ah! You caught the show then! How did I sound?” Kaijin inquired, clasping his hands together.

Usagi shrugged. “Like a guy on the radio – half full of himself. Most of the school knows you, you don’t have to reiterate who you are three times.”

Kaijin smiled. “Well, I just wanted to be sure you were one of the ones who did know me. After all, if the prettiest girl in the school doesn’t know who I am, well, is there still reason for me to live?”

Usagi’s eyebrow twitched slightly. “Uh, look, I’m just here so I can return a book for Ami-chan…”

“Ah! What self-sacrifice, I’m impressed! While you’re here, perhaps I could even offer you some reading selections for yourself. Or perhaps we could set up another time that would be convenient – say, after school?”

Usagi sweatdropped. “Uh, I’m just here returning a book for Ami-chan…”

‘Subtlety is not the key with her,’ Kaijin realized. “Just wondering if you’d be interested in a date,” he elaborated.

Usagi jumped. Partially at the statement but mostly because the bell abruptly rang. “Uh, sorry, busy now, running late, gotta go!” she exclaimed, running past Kaijin and into the library then tearing back out a few seconds later.

She cast an odd glance over her shoulder as she went and almost bumped into a bunch of other students. Kaijin watched her go, shaking his head slightly. Shame – she really was the prettiest girl he knew. Ah well… she hadn’t said yes, but she hadn’t said no either. Kaijin wandered off in the direction of his next class.


Urawa drummed his fingers impatiently on the desk, glancing at the clock. Class was almost done. He had to corner Ami after school about the whole going to the arcade deal.

He’d missed her in the morning, she’d been busy at lunch, and he hadn’t thought of a nonchalant way to bring it up in between classes. Actually, he couldn’t really think of a nonchalant way to bring it up now, but that was no longer the point. He’d just sound casual. Something like…

  “You know, Ami, I believe they’re introducing a new video game at the Crown Game Centre today. Want to just drop by and check it out? Apparently it involves Sailor Moon…”
  “Oh. Well, I guess it would be okay – for a little while.”
  “Great! Let’s go!”

The bell finally rang, shattering Urawa’s mental preamble. Blinking for a minute, he quickly remembered what he was trying to do and sprang up, hurrying out the door. He rushed to Ami’s shoe locker… but Greg was there ahead of him.

“…new video game’s finally online and Motoki asked me if I could recruit some extra help after school, just for today. I thought you might be a candidate.”

“Well… I had planned on just going home since there won’t be any juku…” Then Ami paused. Maybe it would provide more insight into Greg himself? “But, uh, I guess it would be okay – for a little while,” Ami agreed, hesitantly, searching for a reaction. Any reaction. “Will I have to do anything too technical? I…”

“Great!” Greg replied, cutting her off. “Don’t worry about things being difficult, you can just man the cash register or something.”

Urawa practically fell on his face, but managed to keep himself upright and unobserved in the crowd. Greg was beating him to the punch… again! “And how about that Usagi character too?” Greg continued. “Or that one with the ponytail?”

Ami smiled weakly. “I’m afraid Usagi has detention and I think Makoto had plans…” She paused. “Actually, how do you know the Sailor Moon game’s online now? You didn’t mention it this morning.”

Greg shrugged. “I happened to call the Centre during lunch.” And while Motoki had been all for a little later work… somehow, avoiding Ami just wasn’t in the cards. “See, Motoki finally got this part in last night after I left, and he wanted to get everything working for today, it being Friday,” Greg concluded. “He was pretty much prepared at a moment’s notice but is worried about being understaffed. I figure I can’t let him down and I remembered I saw you in the arcade the other day…”

Ami nodded. Well, Greg obviously cared about some things… there didn’t seem to be a clear indication as to whether he had asked her as a student or as a friend though. Pondering this, she followed Greg out of the school.

Urawa watched them go with a pained expression. “That guy STILL has the worst timing of anyone I’ve ever met!” he muttered.


The banner had already been strung out front when Greg and Ami arrived. Urawa trailed along behind them, unseen, more out of a lack of anything else to do now than for any other reason. There it was, just like his vision.

Sometimes seeing the future could be a real pain – it never let on about extra, important details like the fact that Greg was an employee. His “plan” had been doomed to failure from the start. Maybe this was fortunate though… would his asking of Ami seem pushy? Would it have spoiled his and Minako’s plans?

“…what are you staring at?” came a hushed voice behind him.

Urawa blinked, as he realized he’d moved into a crouching position and was now peering around the door into the Game Centre as people walked by him, going in and out. Flushing slightly, he turned to the person behind him. “Uh, nothing, I was just…” He froze. Minako peered past him and around the corner herself.

“Oh, I see – it’s Ami!” she noticed. “…and Greg,” she realized a second later. “How long have they been working here?”

“Eruh, Ami doesn’t work here, she’s helping with that new game,” Urawa said, gesturing at the banner. Just the right person to meet actually. “I don’t know about Greg.”

Minako nodded as she glanced at the banner. “I was wondering what the commotion here was about.”

“Minako…” Urawa began hesitantly. “Do you think things are working right? With Ami?”

Minako blinked back at him. “I thought you told me yesterday that Ami asked you about me.” Urawa nodded. “Well then, no problem,” Minako concluded brightly. “She’s obviously concerned about you. So we simply make her more conscious of those feelings.”

“But right now she’s in there with Greg,” Urawa pointed out.

“So we go in there and mingle with them,” Minako concluded with a shrug.

“Uhhhhh,” Urawa began uncertainly, but Minako was already moving. Urawa hurried after her. But they hadn’t gone two feet inside when there was a loud yelp from behind them.

“Urawa! I thought that was you!” came the familiar voice of Sewaya Kanren. “What are you doing out with her again? What are you trying to pull? How could you do this to your cousin??”

<commercial break; Ami, Greg and Urawa skating, they trip over Ami’s computer>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 8b

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<commercial break; Usagi, Mamoru and Kaijin skating, they trip over Ami’s computer>

The words had come from Ami’s mouth before she was entirely sure that she’d spoken them. Ami felt her face start to redden and was glad this was all on the phone.

“Er, relationship?” Ami heard Minako say, somewhat warily. “Well, there was mention of how Sewaya seems to like me… or did you mean Urawa mentioning you?”

“I… s-something like that though not necessarily me,” Ami stated, trying to keep the nonchalant air in her voice. “That is, I mean, with all that’s been going on, I was just curious…”

Her voice trailed off.

It was apparently Minako’s turn to pause briefly.

“Ami, Urawa still likes you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she finally put forth.

‘But where do YOU stand on all this?’ Ami felt like asking. But somehow she couldn’t bring herself to do that. “Oh,” was all she managed to say in reply.

She’d been a little too bold and now felt lost. Maybe it would be better to bring this up with Minako another time, like at the study session? It would be more personal than the phone.

“Er, anything else, Ami?” Minako inquired ambivalently. “There’s a call I should make myself…”

“No… thanks… I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Ami concluded. Quick farewells were exchanged and Ami hung up the phone. She leaned back in the chair at her desk and closed her eyes.

That… hadn’t exactly cleared things up, had it. Though at least Minako had said Urawa still liked her. Ami frowned. Yet… that didn’t necessarily exclude Urawa from liking Minako TOO, did it… was she still at square one?

On a sudden impulse, Ami opened her eyes, reached back for the phone, and dialled Urawa’s number. His line was busy.


Minako hung up the phone after placing a quick call to brief Urawa. They’d agreed to keep each other updated. And it seemed like Ami was getting uneasy now… but Minako wondered if she’d been too vague.

After all, the plan was to get Ami to recognize Urawa as a good person to be in a relationship with, despite what had happened in the past. It was not to make Ami give up on Urawa completely.

Minako stretched out on her bed. Actually, the more she got to know him, the more Minako liked Urawa as a person. You could tell he cared about Ami, and he certainly seemed less distant than Greg. Which kind of made everything just that more peculiar… what DID Ami see in Greg?


The next morning went pretty much as any other for Ami. She hadn’t tried calling Urawa back – what would she say, anyway? And Greg didn’t ask any questions about what she’d been up to the previous night.

School also went as usual. Usagi apologized for the later study meeting (but apparently it was okay with Rei), Ami lunched with her and Makoto and she also saw Urawa in class and the hall a few times – but he hadn’t really approached her to talk. Juku went as it had the previous day.

Ami almost wished something unusual would happen, a power outage, a rainstorm, anything. It was almost annoying how all was right with the world when her life seemed more in turmoil than ever. Which was a totally irrational thought that Ami quickly pushed out of her mind.

Nevertheless, as Ami finally trudged up the temple steps in the evening, she reflected on the fact that here, at least, something was likely to happen. Yet as Ami arrived outside the door, that something was starting to sound like a quarrel.

“…being way too paranoid here!” came Rei’s voice.

“But he talked about her half the time we were together,” Usagi retorted. “How she’s studying to be a teacher, how he went out with her and Motoki a few years back…”

“But you said you ASKED about her.”

Ami slid open the door and peered inside. Rei and Usagi were having a verbal sparring match on one side of the table while Makoto and Minako sat at the other. Textbooks were open but neither pair was looking at them.

“Uhm, am I interrupting?” asked Ami, raising an eyebrow.

“Ami!” said Makoto, turning and smiling at her. “No, not at all, maybe you can get us back on track… we were all a little stumped on question 10…”

“And got distracted,” put in Rei, glancing at Usagi.

“I was just saying I’m a little unsure about this Kato person,” Usagi muttered, half to herself.

“Kato?” Ami echoed uncertainly as she slid into position at the foot of the table.

“An old friend of Mamoru’s,” Minako elaborated. “Usagi’s nervous because of the way she showed up out of the blue.”

“Well, wouldn’t you be wary of someone who looked like they were showing interest in your boyfriend for no apparent reason?” Usagi commented. “I mean, what’s with those two?”

Ami raised her eyebrows and glanced at Minako out of the corner of her eye, to observe her reaction.

But Rei replied first. “Usagi, they’re friends… that’s reason enough, no need to look for implications that don’t exist,” she pointed out.

“Well… yeah, I know,” Usagi admitted. “I guess I’m just unsure because I’m not fully aware of how the friendship started.”

Ami now noticed Minako turning slightly to look in her direction and she quickly turned her gaze to the textbook she’d just pulled out of her bag. Was it just her imagination, or could this all relate to her situation as well?

“If Mamoru had dated her – or felt uncertain about your relationship – don’t you think he would tell you?” Rei observed. “You two don’t tend to keep secrets.”

Ami furrowed her brow. Well, Minako had told her about liking and previously dating Greg. Would it not then follow that she would say something if she liked Urawa?

On the other hand, Urawa hadn’t said anything about liking Minako… not that Ami had been able to talk to him yet. But she didn’t seem able to talk to Minako either. So why the blossoming of their friendship? Should she confront Minako after the session?

Ami sighed involuntarily.

“I agree with Ami,” Makoto put in quickly, overriding the Kato ‘discussion’ that was starting up again. “Not that I’m thrilled about studying but we’ve sort of beaten the other topics to death… and I really need to look at this Physics because the teacher said we’d be building on it later.”

Rei paused mid-sentence and nodded. “Okay. We don’t want this to go on all night after all,” she asserted, glancing at the clock.

Things calmed down somewhat after that and Makoto managed to get a preliminary grasp on her physics problems. They all did a bit of math too before deciding to call it a night. And it wasn’t until Ami was halfway home when she suddenly realized that in the confusion of Usagi’s problems and the textbook exercises… she’d forgotten to confront Minako at all.

Ami sighed for what felt like the umpteenth time.

Why couldn’t this all have one simple solution – like question ten! What was she to do?

She realized that her friends hadn’t even asked her specifically about her relations during the session, like last time. The idle discussion had apparently been taken care of before, with Usagi. And Ami knew she should be delighted by how much work they’d accomplished – but she just felt muddled with respect to the rest of her life.

All right, Ami asserted, time to analyze things then.

The main problem was: Greg or Urawa? The secondary problem was Greg with Minako or Urawa with Minako. The former being what Minako would logically pursue – but it was the latter that seemed to keep turning up.

Greg had rejected Minako once long ago… had he done so again? Maybe that had changed her mind – yet why then pick Urawa over any other boy? There had to be a reason… did Urawa know what it was? Ami walked methodically, thinking, and she didn’t see the person coming the other way until she was practically on top of him.

“Out late, Ami?” came the tentative voice in front of her.

Ami looked up, wide-eyed. “Urawa!” she greeted, reflexively taking a step back. Was this good luck… or bad? It was typical luck these days anyway.

Urawa smiled. “Just picking up a few groceries myself,” he commented, holding up a bag. There was a pause. “Well, I’ll be on my way…” Urawa finished, continuing to walk past.

“N-no, wait,” Ami said, quickly trying to formulate a question. “Urawa, what were you and Minako talking about the other day?”

Urawa paused. “Which other day?” he inquired.

“At the Tower,” Ami clarified, wondering where she was going with this.

Urawa blinked then shrugged. “Er, not a lot. Sewaya generally…,” his voice trailed off into a vague gesture.

Ami nodded. “Urawa… do you like Minako?” she exclaimed quickly, before she lost her nerve.

Urawa stood for a moment.

How was he supposed to answer that? Where was Minako when you needed her? “Well, sure… as a friend,” he replied, hesitantly. “After all any friend of yours is a friend of mine, right?”

“Well, yes,” Ami relented.

She almost asked ‘Do you like me more’, but that sounded terribly egotistical – and if the answer was ‘yes’, he would probably be hurt by the allegation. ‘Do you like her as more than just a friend,’ had the same implications. She couldn’t accuse him of something that he was likely innocent of!

And now Urawa was just looking at her dubiously.

Ami forced a quick smile. “Just making sure she’s not bothering you,” Ami said swiftly. “I’ll see you in school tomorrow…!”

Ami hurried off, barely hearing Urawa’s goodbye. She couldn’t find out things through Urawa. She couldn’t risk inadvertently hurting him. This WAS just all theory – based on facts, but with no proof.

But if she couldn’t talk to Urawa, and she seemed unable to say the right things to Minako… who was left? WHAT was left? ‘What do I do?’ Ami mused, tossing out the mental cry once more, in frustration.

She opened the door to her house, mind spinning. She registered the fact that her mother and Greg seemed to be talking in the kitchen or something, but Ami had lost her appetite. Or at least she didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

She hurried up to her room, closed the door, locked it, dropped her books, and hurled herself onto her bed. She had to pursue this analysis further… after all, it was over a week and a half now since the problem had presented itself! Practically an eternity!

She didn’t want to lose Urawa. That thought finally pushed itself to the front of her mind. She didn’t want to lose him. Not again. Yet… she wasn’t losing him like last time. He wasn’t moving now, she was just seeing… less of him.

And for goodness sakes, hadn’t it been like that their last couple of months together anyway? So why the angst?

Because he might be going out with someone else, Ami realized. After all, when he’d left, she’d always imagined him finding some other nice girl abroad and forgetting all about her… and instead it looked like he was finding some other nice girl HERE and forgetting all about her. But in that case…

“Ami? Are you all right, dear?” Her mother tapped quietly at her door.

“F-Fine!” Ami called back quickly. “Just have some work I need to get done…!”

There was a pause. “Well, all right, your dinner’s on the table when you’re ready…” her mother replied.

Ami rolled over and grabbed a pillow. But in that case, her fears were really unfounded. Urawa had said he liked her, numerous times. So why was she was still imagining the situation she’d set up in her mind several months ago?

Ami frowned. But it wasn’t like tossing that scenario aside and deciding to go out with Urawa would immediately solve everything. For one thing, if Urawa and Minako really WERE starting some kind of… camaraderie, Ami didn’t want to infringe on the happiness of her friends.

For another thing, it might be awkward handling a return to the prior relationship. But more than that, choosing Urawa would also mean… would mean…

“Ami? Not hungry at ALL tonight?” came Greg’s voice, accompanied by a few taps on her door.

Ami squeezed her eyes shut. Choosing Urawa would mean NOT choosing Greg…


“I’m f-fine!” Ami called back, trying to keep her voice from catching. “I’ll be down a little later!”

There was no reply to that, though it almost sounded like Greg had tried opening the locked door.

Discarding the pillow, Ami drew her knees up to her chest and encircled her legs with her arms. Well, what WAS it about Greg anyway?

His feelings for her seemed anything but straightforward. He seemed to write certain events off with ease. He never looked concerned. He wasn’t the type to get into profound conversations. If you disregarded that kiss (which he hadn’t taken too seriously!), maybe they were just getting to like each other as housemates.

Why be considering him as a potential… boyfriend?

She continued to turn that around and around in her mind.

There was more tapping and Ami lifted her head to look at the door – before she realized that the tapping wasn’t coming from the door. She jerked her head back in the other direction in surprise, then shock.

There was a small balcony area that overlooked the street. It was accessible only from her room. And it was where Greg was standing. Ami jumped off her bed to let him in.

“How did you get out THERE?” she inquired, aghast.

“Came over from the adjoining balcony,” Greg noted, brushing off his hands.

Ami glanced out. The balcony for the other room was several meters away. There seemed to be very little in the way of handholds in between.

“You’re kidding…” Ami gasped. But there wasn’t a ladder around either. Ami spun around, looking back into the room. “What were you THINKING?” she demanded. “You could have been badly hurt!”

“I figured it was the best way to get your mind off your problems and onto something else,” Greg commented impassively, tilting his head to the side. “You certainly didn’t sound ‘fine’ when I knocked, or look ‘fine’ from out there.”

Ami stared.

“Besides, the exercise was good. And don’t worry about me, I wouldn’t have made the attempt if I didn’t think I could do it successfully.” He put his hands in his pockets nonchalantly.

Ami searched for her voice. “You… but that was so dangerous!!”

Greg shook his head and his features hinted at a smile once more. “Ami… you have to learn to live a little. Don’t get so held up on something that you lose track of everything else. Take time to smell the flowers, skip the stones… climb the walls.”

He winked, but Ami found she could only stand and stare at him incredulously.

Finally, Greg reached out and poked Ami’s shoulder. “And the dinner your mother made is getting cold,” he commented as he proceeded past her. “You have to eat, Ami-chan! Can’t have someone with your IQ wasting away…”

Then before Ami could find her voice again, he had unlocked her door and departed through it.

Ami glanced back from her bedroom door to the balcony. And immediately knew the answer to the earlier question of why she was considering Greg.

Because, beneath the facade, Greg genuinely cared. Somehow, deep down, he was just like Urawa… the kiss, getting her a gift, showing her that picturesque spot, even taking foolish actions because of her.

So why didn’t he present things more obviously or sincerely? Ami shook her head. She wondered if the answer to that question would clear everything up…?

Her stomach grumbled. In the meantime though… Ami left her room through the now open door and hurried downstairs. Greg had been right – she really WAS quite hungry.


Urawa lay back on his bed. That earlier conversation with Ami… well, it had been unnerving. Ami actually seemed to think there might be something between him and Minako.

But wasn’t that the idea? Or maybe now HE was reading too much into this… Urawa abruptly felt a familiar dull pain in the back of his head and he closed his eyes.

*The arcade … a Sailor Moon video game online … the date on the banner … tomorrow?*

Urawa’s eyes blinked open again and the vision was gone. But the gist seemed to be big things at the Game Centre. Maybe if he dropped some hints to Ami about it, they could have an ‘informal’ meeting there… just to talk, maybe to reassure that things might not be as they seemed?

Urawa wasn’t certain if it would be more reassuring for him, or for Ami… but after all, what was the harm in going to the arcade?

<closing theme>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 8a

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<opening theme>


“Hey, Motoki! What’s the latest estimate on when the Sailor Moon game will be operative?” Greg inquired as he donned his uniform.

Motoki shrugged. “They keep saying the part we need will be in any day. So I suppose your guess is as good as mine.”

Greg shook his head. “You should charge extra for the delay.”

Motoki smiled. “Oh, we’re doing okay with everything else I think,” he rationalized. “Besides, we build suspense this way.”

“Well, long as I get paid I suppose,” Greg noted with a wink.

“Oh, Greg!” a girl called out to him. Greg turned and the girl smiled. “Could you help me over here?”

Greg nodded and moved to assist. His thoughts, however, were still partly back at the Tokyo Tower.

He wondered exactly where Ami had disappeared to after he’d broken up Sewaya’s tirade those few hours ago. It had been practically impossible to even glimpse Ami again in the crowds – their encounter earlier had been a very fortunate coincidence. He hoped she was all right… though of course, he’d be able to gauge for himself after work.

It was nice being in the same house as her, if a bit unusual.

“Hey, Motoki!” came a familiar voice. Greg glanced back, recognizing Mamoru – but he was intercepted by another girl from his school before he could even think about going over and offering greetings to Motoki’s friend.

Mamoru glanced around as he strolled up. “So, how’s business?” Mamoru inquired of Motoki.

Motoki shrugged. “Oh, same as ever,” he replied with a smile. “Though it’s expected to pick up when that Moon game’s finally active.”

Mamoru nodded. “You know, they really should have included a Tuxedo Mask character in that too I think,” he contemplated.

Motoki shook his head. “I’ll never understand your fascination with the guy,” he commented.

Mamoru smiled. “It’s the cape, actually.” He paused to glance around the area. Motoki followed his eyes, but everything seemed in order.

“Waiting for Usagi?” Motoki hazarded a guess.

Mamoru blinked. “What? Oh… no, for Kato actually. After buying her drinks the other day she insisted on returning the favour sometime with dinner.”

Motoki raised an eyebrow slightly. “Oh, I see… catching up on old times?”

“Something like that,” Mamoru said with a shrug.

“Does Usagi know about her?” Motoki inquired, smiling again.

Mamoru shook his head. Motoki nodded. “Well, look sharp, she’s coming through the door,” he pointed out.

Mamoru turned. And it was in fact Usagi who was entering the Game Centre.

“Mamo-chan!” she said as she spotted him. She hurried over. “I didn’t expect to see you here!”

Motoki decided to slip off – and rescue Greg from the fans he seemed to be picking up. It had started to get like that recently… what was it about newcomers that attracted such attention? Notably males with Jr. High girls… well, at least it was good for business.

Mamoru smiled. “Usako… I should have known you’d swing by. How was your trip to the tower today?”

Usagi shrugged. “Oh, it went okay I suppose. There were some rumours about free ice cream that never materialized though. Hey, if you want, we could get some sodas and talk? I haven’t really seen you since the weekend…”

“Ummm… actually, I’m afraid I’ve made an alternative arrangement,” Mamoru answered. “Sorry – maybe tomorrow?”

“Oh!” Usagi paused. “Well, there was actually a plan for a girls study session tomorrow – but we can make that later and go out for something before!”

Mamoru nodded and gave a quick glance around the area again.

Usagi followed his eyes. “What are you up to now?” she asked.

“Er, just meeting an old friend from high school,” Mamoru reassured.

“Who is he?”

“Me,” came a quiet voice from behind the two of them.

“Kato!” Mamoru turned. “Er, Kato, this is Usagi… Usagi, Kato…” he introduced a bit uncertainly. Usagi blinked. Kato smiled nervously.

“Sorry I’m a little late, traffic was bad,” Kato noted. Mamoru nodded.

“She’s… your friend?” Usagi confirmed.

Mamoru nodded again. “We go back a few years. Kato went off to a different University and it’s been a while. We’re catching up.”

“Er, yes… pleased to meet you then…,” Usagi said guardedly, looking Kato up and down. She frowned dubiously.

Mamoru shook his head and smiled. “Usako, don’t jump to any conclusions,” he said, winking at her. “Me and Kato have always just been friends. And I’m booking off tomorrow for those sodas as we speak.”

Usagi glanced from Mamoru to Kato and back. Then she nodded and brought forth a smile. “Okay – but in that case I’m holding you to those!”

Mamoru nodded and waved. Then after a brief ‘nice to meet you’ from Kato, the two former schoolmates went out to the Cafe.

Usagi watched for as long as she was able until a voice interrupted her thoughts.

“Hey, I believe the Sailor V video game has some upgrades. If you punch in the correct sequence of buttons, you can get bonus points.”

Usagi blinked and turned to see Greg, who had handily sidestepped his few admirers. She snapped out of her reverie. “Oh! Er, that’s all right… I actually came here to see if the Sailor Moon game was active…”

Greg paused then shook his head. “Sorry, we’re still waiting. Any day now though.”

Usagi sighed. “I guess I should have known that was coming… no free ice cream, no Mamo-chan, no video game…”

“At least bad news only comes in threes,” Greg commented with a shrug. “There are those upgrades…”

Usagi shook her head. “No, that’s okay, I don’t feel like it anymore… I think I’ll spin by the mall. Thanks anyway!”

Greg nodded and Usagi turned.

Then suddenly she turned back. “Oh! Want to tell Ami that the studying tomorrow will be late like last week instead of right after school? You’ll probably see her before me…”

“Will do,” Greg assured. Usagi nodded and turned again, departing the building.

Greg watched her go, frowning. It was a shame seeing one of Ami’s friends downcast. After all, any friend of Ami’s was… well, an acquaintance at least.

A yell came from behind him and Greg turned back to see someone getting frustrated at an older video game. He quickly moved to tend to the immediate problem. Hopefully the other problems would get worked out too…


Ami came home from juku, thinking.

This was not actually unusual in itself – though the topic wasn’t classes, Urawa or even Greg this time. It was Minako, and Ami trying to phrase what she’d say on the phone.

She certainly couldn’t go with some sort of outright ‘what are your intentions towards Urawa’, because the evidence was all circumstantial at best. But she didn’t like the idea of being evasive and wandering around the point.

Perhaps a simple, ‘what were you talking about with Urawa today’? At least she had an excuse to call… Makoto had brought up her comment from last week again, about another study session. They’d agreed to have one tomorrow, barring unusual circumstances at the temple. And Ami had said she’d call Minako while Usagi contacted Rei.

So, she could start with that. Then after some quick chat, move on to ask about Urawa… gauge the response and move from there…

“Hey, Ami! How was juku?”

Ami emerged from her thoughts and looked up as she approached her house to see Greg approaching from the opposite direction. She hadn’t seem him since the Tower… he seemed happy though. Of course, he often did, when he wore an expression at all. Ami worked at imitating his look.

“Greg! Hi… it was all right, I guess. Sorry I sort of ran off on you before, back on the observation deck… I just –“

“No problem,” Greg quickly cut in with a wave of his hand. “I get tired of seeing Sewaya myself.”

Ami paused – that hadn’t exactly been her reason for leaving. Greg always seemed to brush things off! Not that she could tell him about her worries anyway, Ami admitted ruefully.

She finally just nodded and the two of them proceeded up the steps and into the house. “Working late?” Ami asked tentatively, just to break the silence as they removed their shoes.

Greg nodded. “Yeah, putting in a few extra hours after missing a day for the chess, plus we’re still waiting for that new video game to come online.” He paused and snapped his fingers. “Which reminds me, Usagi said to tell you that tomorrow’s study session will be later instead of earlier. Like last time. She’s ended up with other plans.”

“Oh! Thanks,” Ami replied as the two teenagers proceeded down the hallway. Ami moved towards the stairway.

“Not joining me in the kitchen?” Greg asked.

“Er, there’s just something I need to do first,” Ami admitted. “I’ll see you shortly.” Greg nodded and went in another direction as Ami proceeded up the stairs. As she reached the upper landing, she encountered her mother heading in the other direction.

“Oh! Already finished your dinner, dear?”

Ami shook her head. “No… there’s something I need to do first,” she reiterated.

Mrs. Mizuno nodded. “Sorry we haven’t had a chance to connect too much recently – maybe after I’m done with the organization of this Medical Conference the three of us can get together for a barbecue or something.”

Ami nodded back and smiled. “That would be nice.”

“Anyway, I’ll let you get back to whatever you need to. Dinner should be ready in the kitchen, I’m just going out for a short while.” Ami’s mother waved and continued downstairs.

Ami nodded back and watched her mother depart. But as she turned away and walked down to her room, she suddenly stopped to reflect on their conversation.

The THREE of us, her mother had said. Obviously including Greg. And Ami hadn’t even noticed. She’d been worried about getting too comfortable with the living arrangement back when Greg had first arrived.

When had that ceased to be a priority? Just because she might have feelings for him?

Even her conversation with Greg before… they’d been talking like… like… well, Ami wasn’t sure what actual couples in the same house talked like, but asking about work and school and stuff seemed plausible. She’d have to be more wary!

Ami entered her room and shook her head, pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind. She had other things to think about now… though she mentally resolved to stop writing off the fact that the rooming situation WAS unusual!

Plunking her books down, Ami turned to look at the phone on her desk. Now what was it she would say again? She’d start with the study session, then mention seeing Minako and Urawa at the tower, and ask what they’d been discussing. Ami reached for the phone and dialled Minako’s number. It rang. Minako answered.

Ami stared at the receiver. What had the plan been again???

“Ahhhh, Minako, it’s… it’s Ami. Just calling because… because… oh! Because we’re planning on getting together at the temple tomorrow to study. It would be late though because Usagi has some plans – hopefully you can make it?”

“Tomorrow? Yeah, that should be okay… same time as last week then?”

Ami nodded. “Er, yes,” she added. Like Minako could see her nodding on the phone. ‘Get a grip,’ Ami mentally told herself. She paused to clear her throat – and head.

“Um, is that it then?” came Minako’s voice.

“Actually, one other thing,” Ami continued, pleased at how nonchalant she sounded now. “I noticed you and Urawa together up on the observation level of the Tower today, just before Sewaya showed up. If you’re still discussing chess like the other day, maybe I could be of some help?”

“Oh… no, that’s okay, we were talking about something else,” Minako replied, hesitantly.

There was another pause, during which Ami stared at the receiver. Minako wasn’t being entirely helpful here…

“Er, okay,” Ami affirmed. “So, what exactly were you talking about then?”

“Well, a bit about school, a bit about our experiences with Sewaya… not like you can finish a conversation when that guy’s around of course. But as Urawa said, you can’t choose your relatives.”

There was another brief pause.

“You and Urawa are just comparing notes on Sewaya these days then?” Ami verified.

“Well, that’s one of the things,” Minako agreed. “Sewaya is something me and Urawa have in common after all. Like how you have chess in common with him …and Greg.”

Ami blinked. Minako had almost tacked on Greg as an afterthought. Did that mean she’d forgotten about him? And had moved on? Or… maybe it was a way to distance Greg from something Ami had in common with him, signifying she’d prefer Ami had relations with Urawa…

“Ami? Still there?”

“Er, yes,” Ami answered. Or maybe it had meant nothing. “So, you’re finding some things that you and Urawa have in common?” Ami forged on.

“You could say that,” Minako remarked. But she didn’t elaborate.

Another pause. Ami closed her eyes and counted to three. Was Minako being deliberately vague? How direct would she have to be to get the information she wanted to know? I mean, would she have to ask… “Ami?” Minako prompted once more.

“Minako, did you talk about a romantic relationship at all during your conversation??” Ami blurted.

<commercial break; Usagi, Mamoru and Kaijin skating, they trip over Ami’s computer>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 7b

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<commercial break; Ami, Greg and Urawa skating, they trip over Ami’s computer>

“So, what’s the deal with you standing so close to Minako, Urawa?” Sewaya grilled, looking at his cousin.

Urawa turned to return the look and immediately burst out laughing. “Hey, nice cut Sewaya! Don’t you think they left it a little long in the back though?”

“Hmph!” Sewaya said. He ran a hand along the side of his head, smoothing his now incredibly short orange hair. “I’ll have you know my barber said this look was ‘in’.”

“How soon can we get it out?” Greg mused, allowing himself a small smile.

“Oh, and aren’t you just the height of fashion then?” Sewaya returned, wheeling to look at his new target. “You look no better than the tourists around here.”

“In a way, I am a tourist around here,” Greg noted.

“Yeah, well… you look it,” Sewaya finished, realizing he didn’t have a good comeback for that one. Frowning, he decided to return to face the easier opponent.

“So, Urawa, what…” He blinked. Urawa had disappeared back into the crowd. And so had Minako.

Sewaya bit back a curse and jabbed his finger at Greg. “That’s YOUR fault,” he accused, before dashing back into the crowd after what looked like a flash of red and blond.

Greg blinked for a moment. “Well. That was entertaining,” he said, turning back to Ami. But she seemed to be looking where Sewaya had disappeared. “Ami?” Greg said, leaning closer to her. Ami blinked.

“Oh! Er, yes…,” she said, turning back to face him.

It looked like the Greg/Urawa situation had resolved itself… Urawa had slipped off with Minako. Urawa and Minako…. Ami paused. Why did that make her feel so uneasy?


“Quick thinking,” Urawa praised, as he and Minako observed Sewaya hurrying in the wrong direction.

Minako shrugged. “With Sewaya, avoidance seems to be the best policy,” she sighed. “I have a feeling he’s been following me around all day. Hopefully he won’t recognize me without the bow in my hair now.” Minako tucked it away into the bag she’d brought with her.

Urawa nodded. “Shame, the bow adds something I think,” he commented.

Minako smiled. “So I’ve been told.”

She glanced back at the crowd to see if Greg or Ami were still about, but couldn’t spot them. She returned her gaze to Urawa.

“Incidently… did you see the way Ami was looking at us?” she inquired.

“What?” Urawa asked, surprised. “No, I was distracted by Sewaya… what do you mean?”

Minako shook her head. “I’m not sure. But knowing Ami it was almost like… I don’t know… like she thought there might be something going on between us.”

Urawa blinked. “What, you mean like conspiratorially?”

Minako nodded. “Or… even romantically. She can get carried away sometimes about love, and the situation probably isn’t helping.”

Urawa raised his eyebrows. “We’d better set her straight then!” he declared.

Minako slowly shook her head. “Wait, maybe we shouldn’t confirm or deny anything just yet,” she reflected.

Urawa stared. “What?”

“A week or so ago I mentioned to Ami that I had an interest in Greg,” Minako explained. “Since then she seems to be marginally rejecting you. Maybe if she thinks I have an interest in YOU, she’ll start to reject Greg. This could be what we need to get Ami to notice you more.”

Urawa paused to process that. “The logic seems a bit twisted,” he concluded uncertainly.

Minako shrugged. “Pfft, logic and love don’t always go together,” she pointed out. “I might be reading too much into her actions anyway… and if it’s not working, we just call it off.”

Urawa frowned. “So you think that if we act like the two of us are going out, Ami and Greg will realize they don’t want to lose us, reject each other and we all live happily ever after?” he clarified.

“Errrr, something like that,” Minako acknowledged. “Though I doubt Greg will be affected much by me seeing someone else.”

Urawa paused to look Minako up and down. ‘Then maybe Greg’s not as smart as I give him credit for, I can’t see anything wrong with you,’ Urawa mused to himself. Except of course, for the fact that she was not Ami.

“All right,” Urawa conceded. “It doesn’t sound so bad. But how should we go about this? I mean, no offence but I don’t want to get too overt with you…”

Minako smiled. “Just keep doing whatever we’re doing I think,” Minako commented. “No reason to go out of our way… after all, we don’t want things to get to the point where we’re really hurting Ami emotionally.”

Urawa nodded. “Definitely,” he agreed. He glanced around at the throng. “Er, well, while we seem to be stuck together, you want to go up to one of the lookout points on the tower?”


“Er, I… I suppose we could,” Ami agreed. “Which one, the higher one or the lower one?”

“Oh, the lower one would do I think,” Greg answered. “Extra charge to go up top, isn’t there?”

Ami nodded, and the two of them proceeded through the crowd of tourists and other school children towards the elevators. She and Greg had looked about briefly for Usagi or Makoto but the task hadn’t produced results.

You would have thought Usagi’s odangos would stick out but they must have wandered off in some other direction. Greg’s suggestion of looking down from and around the view points seemed to make sense.

As they rode up, Ami found herself pondering her situation once again. It no longer looked like this was a simple case of being admired by two guys. As if the odds on that happening hadn’t been questionable to start, the events at the chess tournament as well as those of a few minutes ago seemed to show that Minako and Sewaya were getting involved in this too.

Actually, Minako seemed to be at the heart of it all… she knew Greg, that Sewaya guy seemed to have a thing for her, and now she seemed to be hooking up with Urawa for some reason. The Senshi of Love certainly got around! Ami wondered if it would help to sit down with Minako, get some assistance and work all this out between the two of them…

The door opened and Ami stepped out of the elevator.

Then she stopped so quickly that Greg almost ran right into her. Urawa and Minako were at it again… they were over on the right, talking – even laughing – as if they were old friends or something. What was going ON with those two?

“Wonder what’s going on with those two?” Greg wondered, as if reading her thoughts.

Ami just shook her head slightly. She had half a mind to go over and find out, ask why they seemed to be making things even more complicated for her, why there seemed to be so many secrets all of a sudden…

“Maybe we should just leave them be,” Greg suggested. “They seem to be enjoying themselves.”

Ami paused, her foot in motion towards the others… then she turned. “All right,” she said. She quickly moved off in the opposite direction. After all, who was SHE to intrude on their obvious enjoyment? She could have just as much fun with Greg, right? Right. So why did she suddenly feel so… left out?

Ami stopped. Her behaviour was starting to get… irrational. There was certainly a reasonable explanation to all of this! She’d just ask Minako, they’d work everything out and the problem would be solved.

“Um, are we waiting for something…?” Greg wondered.

Ami glanced back up at Greg and realized he was looking at her with an unusually concerned expression on his face. “No…,” Ami started. “I just think –” she stopped and blinked.

Amidst the others in the area she was positive she saw someone with short orange hair move back towards the elevators. “I think I saw Sewaya!” she realized.

Ami quickly turned and headed back the way they’d just come. It might at least provide a reason to talk… assuming he didn’t notice Minako and Urawa right away…

“Are we planning on avoiding him?” Ami heard Greg mutter quietly behind her, following her nonetheless.

Unfortunately, Sewaya’s eyes had proven just as sharp as Ami’s had before, and they arrived just in time to hear what sounded like the beginning of an argument.

“… haven’t even KNOWN her as long as I have!” Sewaya declared, pointing a finger at Urawa. “I knew her from before she left for England!”

“Talking is not a crime these days, cousin,” Urawa glared back, putting his hands on his hips. “What I do isn’t any of your business.”

“It is when you resort to sneaking around with Minako,” Sewaya noted. “How would you feel if I hung around with that… that blue haired girl?”

“Leave her out of this!” Urawa glowered.

“Oh, don’t want her to know you’ve found someone else?” Sewaya queried.

Greg glanced over at Ami, neither of them having been noticed yet. She seemed to be watching the scene with a rather pained expression, like she wanted to help, but wasn’t sure how – or perhaps if – she could. When she noticed him looking at her, she paused then inclined her head towards the elevator.

Greg glanced back at the duelling relatives with a frown. It didn’t look like he or Ami would be able to improve things… but Minako seemed rather uncomfortable about the whole conversation. Greg noticed her tug slightly on Urawa’s sleeve.

Urawa moved back. “Can’t you see you’re embarrassing Minako now?” Urawa questioned.

“Sorry, I’m trying to embarrass you,” Sewaya justified.

Urawa grimaced. “Well, do it some other way then. And stop prying into personal affairs of which you have no comprehension! This public feud you’re generating is going to harm others.”

Greg’s frown deepened and he glanced back at Ami… but she’d already left. He raised an eyebrow.

“Is that a challenge?” Sewaya inquired. “Should we step outside?”

‘Oh brother,’ Greg thought. ‘This has gone far enough.’

“Oh, look! Free ice cream!” Greg shouted.

He quickly ducked behind a taller person with a briefcase as everyone’s eyes swivelled to where he’d pointed. Including Sewaya’s. And, as Greg had hoped, Urawa and Minako took the opportunity to flee once more.

Sewaya blinked a couple of times when he realized they’d eluded him again. But then, to Greg’s surprise, Sewaya started to sniffle.

“Damn, I didn’t mean anything by that… oh Minako, what does it take to impress you?” Sewaya muttered, barely audible. His eyes started to fill with tears and Greg decided to slip off… he hated to see a person like that crying.


Ami stepped off the elevator, letting out a breath that was a half sigh. She wondered if she shouldn’t have stayed up above, but really, what could she have done but add to Urawa’s problems? It would be better to talk when his cousin wasn’t around… because what Sewaya was saying just COULDN’T have a basis in fact…

“Ami! There you are!” Makoto’s voice cut through the crowd. Ami looked around then smiled as Usagi and Makoto hurried up.

‘Well at least now it looks like things are returning to normal,’ Ami thought. Or as normal as they got.

As Usagi asked where she’d been and Makoto mentioned a cute guy she’d seen, Ami made a decision. She’d phone Minako tonight. That should take care of a few things. And as to the rest…

Ami paused to brush her hand over the medallion in her pocket. ‘Well, hopefully I’ll be able to make a decision on that too,’ she affirmed.

<closing theme>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 7a

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<opening theme>


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.”

Minako paused.

“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>