Marmalade Mercury: Ep 12a

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<opening theme>


“It’s up to you,” Urawa finished quietly, still looking into Ami’s eyes. He’d put the ball in her court; it was like their first breakup all over again…

Ami sat up with a start and glanced out the window. Morning. She pressed a hand to her forehead, willing the events of the previous night out of her head.

It was time to get up. Time to go to school. Yet slipping out of bed, Ami bit her lip. After what she had replied to him… oh, could she face Urawa now??


Greg scanned the area outside the school. No sign of her. Perhaps he should have anticipated her lateness… and glancing at his watch, he decided that there probably wouldn’t be time to talk to her now even if she did show up.

He could try to get in touch with her at lunchtime. Because he needed to talk to her. Things were changing with Ami.

Greg had noticed how his housemate had appeared more detached the previous night after retrieving her cards. She had been fairly silent through breakfast. She had gone ahead to her locker, only to rush back in the opposite direction saying she needed to check for something in the library before school started.

Urawa had turned out to be waiting near her locker. Ami wasn’t back yet. So something was definitely up, more so than usual.

Alas, it would have to wait until lunch. Shaking his head, Greg turned to hurry to his classroom – colliding with Ms. Haruna as he rounded the first corner.

Greg arrived in class just shortly before the bell. Ami arrived even after him, with only seconds to spare.


Ami sat without meeting either Urawa or Greg’s gazes. Her was mind in turmoil.

She had trouble concentrating on the lessons of the morning; the events of the past weekend had just made matters way too complex! So it wasn’t a complete surprise to her when Ami was called to the Teachers’ Room to talk with Ms. Haruna when it came time for lunch.

Ami hoped her studies wouldn’t start to suffer on account of her personal life! Though the request was almost a relief; another excuse to continue avoiding the ramifications from the previous night.

Ms. Haruna admitted Ami into the Teachers’ Room as soon as she arrived. “I’m sorry I wasn’t paying very close attention to some of the mathematics this morning,” Ami hastily apologized as they approached Ms. Haruna’s desk. “Though I did glance over the chapter last week already.”

Ms. Haruna blinked back at the young genius, momentarily nonplussed. “Oh? Well, actually, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk to you about. There was another matter that was brought to my attention early this morning… a fairly serious one that directly concerns you,” she noted, moving to riffle through some sheets of paper on her desk.

It was Ami’s turn to blink. Something else? She watched with growing unease as Ms. Haruna continued her search. “I have a sheet of paper I’d like you to see here,” the teacher continued. “And I think it might help you solve certain problems.” Haruna turned briefly to smile. “It may detail the perfect match for you!” she finished.

“My perfect match…?” Ami wondered uncertainly.

This didn’t sound quite school related. Had she been behaving oddly for a while now? Enough for Ms. Haruna wonder about her home life?? Surely no one had discovered that she and Greg were living together! Just what was her teacher getting at?

Ami glanced nervously around the room – some of the other teachers in here were now glancing their way.

“Well, practically perfect,” Ms. Haruna continued. “It’s really a shame this wasn’t brought to my attention earlier but I think you’ll still post good results… Ah, here we go!” she finally declared, pulling out an official looking form and handing it over to the blue-haired girl. Ami stared down at it.

“A… challenge question match???” Ami blurted out. She wasn’t sure if she should be relieved or confused. Looking back up and realizing the outburst had attracted even more attention from other teachers, Ami blushed and lowered her voice before asking, “What is it exactly?”

“It’s a new kind of scholastic competition,” the teacher elaborated. “There were two schools who were asked to try it out, but one backed out, so we were given the chance. And since you’re getting top marks across all subjects I was hoping you would see this as a perfect way to brush up on problem sets and general knowledge. The only drawback is that, as I said, it was only brought to my attention today; the contest is later this week. Another reason I was hoping for your participation, there isn’t much time to prepare. What do you think?”

Ami stared back down at the form, scanning it over. It all seemed pretty straightforward; she and an opponent would take turns ringing in and answering questions on all sorts of different topics. “I suppose it would be all right,” Ami consented. “Do you know who my opponent will be?”

Ms. Haruna shook her head. “I’m afraid not.. but they’ll be from Shibakouen. That’s where the match is taking place.”

Ami blinked. ‘Minako’s school!’ she realized.


Ami stared down at the sheet in her hands, still scanning it over as she walked back through the hall. The match shouldn’t be too difficult… the only hitch was that not all questions would relate directly to school subjects she had studied.

There would be practical questions, “trivia” type questions, and questions involving information not covered in class. So she would need do some preparation!

“Ami!” The blue-haired girl snapped her head up at the sound of her name, to see Urawa standing in front of her. The unresolved situation concerning the rest of her life overwhelmed her again. And once more her thoughts flashed back to the previous night… when Urawa had confronted her…


“It’s up to you,” Urawa finished quietly, still looking into Ami’s eyes.

He’d put the ball in her court; it was like their first breakup all over again… but this time Ami managed to find her voice. “I- I can’t…” she whispered.

“Can’t?” Urawa responded, swallowing hard.

“C-can’t decide right now,” Ami finished, entwining her fingers together. “N-not like this. Not now. I… I have to think about all that’s happened recently… I have to do that first.”

There was a moment of silence. “We’ll talk tomorrow then,” Urawa decided. “Because Ami… understand that I- I just can’t wait forever.”


“Just wait until after the match!” Ami quickly blurted out.

Urawa blinked. “Er, what?” he asked, startled.

“I-I’ve been asked to participate in a challenge question match,” Ami elaborated. “It’s later this week. After that… I’ll give you the answer I couldn’t last night.” She paused. “I’ll make a decision.”

She should have set herself a deadline long ago, really. She always worked well towards a deadline. And this way everything could be neatly taken care of all at once. Why hadn’t she tried something like this sooner?

Urawa stared at her for a minute before nodding. “After your match then,” he agreed. The two of them stared into each others’ eyes for a minute before Ami continued on her way. It was time to ask herself all the hard questions.


“Are you at one with your tea yet?” Greg wondered, raising an eyebrow.

“Hmmmm?” Ami murmured, looking up absently.

“You’ve been staring at it for ten minutes now,” Greg remarked. “I was wondering if you’d started picking up some good vibes.”

“Oh… er, no,” was Ami’s only response as she brought the cup to her lips and took a quick sip.

“Thinking about the fact that your mother is due home any minute now?” Greg hypothesized.

Ami nodded, though that was actually not her most immediate thought. At the forefront of her mind was her matchmaking decision. In retrospect, she’d given herself more to worry about at once by scheduling this decision at the same time as the scholastic match.

Still, if she got a good start on the romance angle now, she could concentrate more on studies tomorrow.

It occurred to her that she’d analyzed the characteristics of both Greg and Urawa more than enough by this point. She was forced to conclude that she liked them both – and they both liked her: albeit Urawa actively and Greg passively.

And it seemed that Greg HAD acquired a bit of an edge, but probably because she’d spent last weekend with him. While there was still the matter of him holding something back and acting unclear. Urawa at least made his feelings known.

It was time to try another line of thought.

If she were to end up with one or the other… what would change? What would be the same? How would everyone involved feel about it, in the big picture?

She supposed that Urawa would be pleased or disappointed, depending on the choice… what about Greg? He might try to hide his feelings but it seemed likely that they would be the same as Urawa’s. Then there was one more consideration… what about Minako?

Last night Urawa had said there was “nothing between Minako and him”, but Ami wondered if Minako felt the same way. If they had been getting close… would Minako be disappointed if Ami chose Urawa so abruptly? She needed to know more about that situation.

How might Ami feel in Minako’s place? Could she even imagine herself in Minako’s place?? And even if she could, would she be able to maintain a properly impartial perspective?

Relationships and love defied logic. How could she even analyze what she had trouble understanding?

“I was talking with Usagi over lunch today,” Greg eventually broke in, interrupting her thoughts.

Ami looked back up at him. “Oh?” she answered, a bit bewildered.

“Not the brightest girl in the school, but she seems to have a good heart… even if she can’t seem to be on time in the morning.”

Ami simply nodded, trying to figure out where he was going with this.

Greg looked back at her for a minute before leaning forward in his chair. “Ami, it’s rather easy to tell when something is bothering you. I know I can’t help you here, but I think she can.”

Ami blinked. “What…?” she murmured.

“You often seem to want to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders, forgetting that just as you help your friends, they can help you. You haven’t had one of those study sessions in a while; why not give Usagi a call now and go over to her place to discuss some homework assignments? Not everyone. Just her. Do you both some good.”

Ami stared. “Yes… I suppose it would,” she agreed, speaking almost before she realized it.

“Good,” Greg concluded, sitting back and returning his attention to his own tea. Ami continued to stare at him for another few seconds before smiling. If she couldn’t seem to talk to Minako, maybe Usagi’s perspective would be of assistance. Greg had hit on something there… again, managing to help her in his own way.

“Thank you,” Ami said sincerely.

Greg simply nodded in response.

Ami stared at him for another couple of minutes but nothing else was forthcoming. “Tell my mother where I am when she returns?” she finally requested. Greg nodded again, as Ami rose and headed for the telephone to make sure Usagi was free.


“Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” Usagi attempted, squinting at Ami from her bed. “There’s a hypothetical guy who likes this girl, but he’s also liked by a second girl, and the first girl doesn’t just like him but another guy too who also seems to like her… and you want to know how that first girl should decide once and for all which of the guys to go out with, based on the feelings of the other three people?”

Ami nodded.

Usagi pursed her lips. “I think I saw this in one of Rei’s manga last week,” the blonde observed. “The girl ended up going out with a third guy who was the cousin of the first one.”

Ami sweatdropped. “Ah ha ha… I think things are complicated enough without bringing more people in,” she quickly refuted.

“That’s what I said about that last math question,” Usagi reminded her friend. “But you still insisted the extra variable was necessary.”

“Usagi, please… this question is more important than it might sound,” Ami insisted. She realized that her tone had become a bit more serious than it had been over the last hour, when she had helped Usagi get through some of her homework. Because now that they had time to just talk…

Usagi lifted an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, Ami-chan…” She paused. “Is… is this like your situation right now?” she continued, with surprising insight. Usagi paused again, during which time Ami bit her lip and nodded slightly.

“I just think I need some advice,” Ami admitted. “And since you know a bit about relationships from spending time with Mamoru…” Ami’s voice trailed off as Usagi winced. “Usagi, what’s wrong?” the blue-haired girl asked.

“Well… I just didn’t get to see Mamoru all of Saturday… because guess who he was out with,” Usagi said dejectedly.

Ami paused, recalling their last study session together. “Kato?” she hypothesized.

“And Rei keeps chiding me about being silly,” Usagi continued. “But even IF me and Mamoru are practically destined to be together eventually… who’s to say what will happen in the meantime?? Kato’s an old friend who’s much closer to his age…!” Her voice trailed off.

“Oh, Usagi,” Ami said, moving onto the bed to hug her friend. Maybe Usagi needed someone to talk to as much as she did – had Greg somehow realized this too? “I don’t think Mamoru is suddenly going to break up with you because of an old acquaintance. Especially given all that you’ve been through! It’s not silly to think so, but you can’t jump to conclusions like that.”

Usagi hugged back. “True,” she admitted softly. “Deep down I know that, but – well, I guess there’s just something I don’t trust about Kato.” She frowned slightly before shaking her head. “Do you think Mamoru might have picked her if she had shown up before he had his memories back?”

Ami blinked and shook her head. “No… I can’t see that happening, Usagi. And you really shouldn’t consider such things. It does as much good as… as me wondering if I would have definitely gotten back together with Urawa if Greg hadn’t turned up. I even found out the other day that Urawa wouldn’t have returned to Japan right now if it weren’t for an indirect influence by Greg! The way events interrelate… somehow it makes all the second-guessing seem pointless.”

So why did she do it so much herself? She needed to take her own advice.

Usagi paused and nodded. “There is that I suppose.” She paused again. “And that said, as to your question – I think your hypothetical girl should go with the best option for all, but more important, one that she will be able to live with afterwards, without doubting. Seeing as she has to live with herself before anyone else.”

Ami paused for a minute to think. “I just have trouble figuring that out,” the genius observed. “I always seem to be mixed up, whereas you can act on instinct and everyone ends up happy! You do that so much better than anyone else I’ve met, Usagi. How do you always know?”

“Sometimes I get lucky,” Usagi observed, grinning. “Though if things involve people I care about – it’s somehow easier. Even if the choices can be difficult and sometimes painful. Love doesn’t always have one right answer, Ami.”

Ami sighed. “Maybe I’m just so used to using my brain that I can’t understand my heart.”

“Pshaw. You have instincts, Ami. Just don’t get so down on yourself,” Usagi reassured, giving her another hug. Another moment of silence passed before Usagi offered, “would you like to stay over for the night and keep talking?”

“I- I’d like that,” Ami stammered out. “My mom’s probably home now, I’ll see if she can bring around my stuff.”

“Oh, did your mother have to work late today?” Usagi queried.

“Er, actually there was a medical conference last weekend so… ah, well, I’ll explain that in a bit,” Ami hedged, heading for the phone.

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

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 11b

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

At last, the moment was right, the time was now. Ami’s eyes closed and her lips parted slightly in anticipation. They grew ever closer… the only thing in Ami’s world right now was Greg, and…


Ami’s eyes snapped back open, lips still half an inch away from Greg’s. The doorbell sounded again and the spell was broken.

Stumbling back a step, Ami felt more blood rushing to her cheeks. What? Who? “W-were you expecting anyone?” Ami stammered. Greg simply shook his head.

He appeared to be as put out by this as her, though it was still hard to read his face. Pausing only to flip the lights back to a more normal setting, Ami hurried to the front door. If it was just some salesperson maybe she could get rid of them. She yanked it open partway… and almost collapsed right back onto the floor.

“Hi!” Minako said brightly. “We just happened to be in the area and thought we’d drop by!”

The door swung open the rest of the way to reveal Urawa standing uncertainly next to the blonde. Greg came into the hallway behind Ami with a raised eyebrow. Ami tried not to gape.

‘Urawa!’ Ami gasped to herself. ‘What now? He was out on a date with Minako?’

‘That wasn’t a complete lie,’ Minako rationalized internally. ‘We WERE in the area…’

‘And Urawa complains about my timing?’ Greg reflected.

‘What am I doing here?’ Urawa wondered.

Minako had called him up earlier, and they’d gone out to a coffee place nearby to discuss how the romance situation was shaping up. He couldn’t even remember which of them had suggested dropping by here. Something about making sure Ami remembered him this weekend? Urawa glanced from Ami to Greg and back.

“Well, since you’re here, you might as well come in,” Greg finally observed, breaking the silence.

Ami felt her heart sink. She’d wanted it to be just the two of them… but on the other hand, what about Urawa? Her stomach felt queasy now and she wished her insides would settle down.

Minako and Urawa entered and removed their shoes. “Uh, so where’s your mother at?” Urawa attempted conversationally, gaze finally settling on Ami.

“Oh, she’s away at a medical conference all this weekend…” Ami regretted the words it as soon as they had tumbled from her mouth, but she couldn’t pull them back. She shouldn’t have put it like that…

Urawa’s eyes bulged. “She’s… away??” he choked, eyes flashing back and forth between Ami and Greg again.

Minako mentally snapped her fingers. Oops, she knew she’d forgotten to tell Urawa something.

“But we’ve done nothing!” Ami quickly stated. “I mean, we would never –” (…Ami’s eyes closed and her lips parted slightly in anticipation…) “– would… we… we haven’t done a-anything!” she reiterated, the memory of mere minutes ago making her stumble over her words.

Without speaking, Urawa moved over to Greg, grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into the adjacent room.

Minako rubbed her chin. Yes, she probably should have mentioned the situation to Urawa to ensure he kept calm; she made a mental note not to forget about these important details in future conversations.


In the adjacent room, Urawa shoved Greg against the wall. Greg just met Urawa’s serious look with a calm one.

“What have you done to Ami?” Urawa demanded in quiet fury.

“I’ve done nothing,” Greg answered simply.

“Oh come on, it was obvious she was flustered out there. If you’ve done anything strange with Ami the last couple days… you’re in big trouble!” Urawa warned.

Greg paused to reflect. Where would rescuing Ami after she passed out in the bathroom rank on a scale of strangeness? “What do you mean ‘done anything strange’?” he finally mused.

Urawa blinked, anger subsiding as he realized he’d been carried away by the moment. It’s not like he was Ami’s guardian, she could take care of herself. It was just the thought of her living with another…! “Well, just… you know, strange…” he concluded vaguely, waving his hand.

“How can I know if you don’t explain?” Greg continued simply. He leaned quietly back against the wall, raising an eyebrow. “Tell me what I can’t do.”

“Ahh, all I mean is…” Urawa paused, now getting flustered himself. Surely Greg didn’t expect him to go into any details about… strange things?

“That is what? Go ahead.” Greg smiled slightly as Urawa opened and closed his mouth, unable to speak. Oddly enough, on some level, Greg found this was almost as fun as teasing Ami.

“Just… just tell me that you’ll leave her alone!” Urawa finally summarized, somewhat lamely. Greg didn’t get a chance to respond to that one; the doorbell interrupted them.


In the meantime, Ami and Minako had been looking at each other uncertainly. It occurred to Minako that she and Urawa had probably arrived at the least opportune time. And she wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing.

‘I’m ONLY trying to help Urawa. I’m not trying to make Greg available,’ she told herself. But for the first time since this had all started, she realized she wasn’t sure…

“So you and Urawa just happened to meet each other?” Ami ventured.

“Hm? Oh, no, we’ve been out together for a couple hours at least,” Minako answered absently as she tried to pinpoint exactly what her feelings were about the whole situation now. Lost in thought, she didn’t catch Ami’s look of shock.

Originally, Minako had wanted to help Ami break the deadlock while giving Urawa a decent shot. But if Greg hadn’t managed to get his early advantage, if Ami hadn’t seemed to prefer Greg, would Minako have wanted to help him instead? Rooting for the underdog in the love triangle?

Not as much, she was forced to admit. So, her help could merely be a pretext for making Greg available. In fact, by now both Urawa and Greg were her friends, so why should she be favouring helping Urawa? Perhaps her old feelings for Greg really were influencing her judgement.

The doorbell rang, breaking Minako’s train of thought. Ami blinked at her, but Minako just shrugged; she wasn’t expecting anyone else. Greg and Urawa poked their heads out of the adjacent room in surprise. Frowning, Ami opened the door.

Sewaya’s head peered around the door frame. Everyone crashed to the floor.

“Where did YOU come from?” Minako demanded.

Sewaya frowned. “I was in that coffee shop when you and Urawa came in,” he explained. “I was at a different booth and couldn’t hear what you were saying – but you looked like you were on another date! So I played it cool. When you left, I followed. I wouldn’t normally have done it, but I wanted to get proof!” He paused to scan the hallway. “And you can’t deny the conspiracy now,” he concluded, gesturing triumphantly at Urawa and Greg.

Urawa made a face. “I wouldn’t suggest a challenge, you’re almost out of hair,” he observed.

Minako sighed. “It’s not a conspiracy, you dolt. Me and Urawa just wanted to drop in and see a friend.”

Sewaya paused, looking shifty. “I glanced in the windows before I came to the door,” he admitted. “There’s a cake in one of the rooms. Something is going on here, and if it’s not a conspiracy, why wasn’t I invited to the party?”

“It’s not a party either!” Ami contested, feeling exasperated. When had things gotten so out of control? “It’s just dinner!” ‘A dinner that’s gone horribly, horribly wrong!’ she mentally finished.

Sewaya frowned. “A dinner for ten? Don’t con me now, there were several full trays of sandwiches too.”

Ami flushed slightly. She supposed she had gone a little overboard in food preparation, but she had figured that it would be good to have a wide selection, and better too much than too little. So much for that idea… she didn’t know what to say now. There was an uneasy silence.

“Maybe we should all just leave?” Minako proposed.

Ami’s first instinct was to agree, but she realized that their departure now really wouldn’t solve anything. Besides being a bit rude, it could just confirm Sewaya’s ludicrous claims while possibly making Urawa more distressed; her moment with Greg had long been broken anyway. Ami glanced towards Greg, but again could not judge his opinion on this matter.

Stifling a sigh, Ami simply smiled. “No… now that you’re here you might as well stay,” she offered. “After all, there is plenty of food.”

There were some mild protests, but after a quick reassurance – and even a grudging apology by Sewaya – the five of them proceeded back into the dining room. Ami went to the cupboards to get more cutlery and glasses as the others took their seats.

Sewaya peered over at the cake on the counter. “Must be homemade,” he realized. “From outside it didn’t look so lopsided.” Sewaya then flinched at the gazes Urawa and Minako turned on him. The phrase ‘if looks could kill’ flashed through his mind.

“You can always leave,” Minako observed dryly.

“Let’s all just try to get along?” Ami implored as she returned with drinks for everyone. They drank a toast to Greg then proceeded with the rest of the dinner. It passed without event, but Urawa found himself growing worried.

‘Did Ami do all this just for Greg?’ he wondered. ‘What if I hadn’t come by?’ He wished again that he could see the outcome of all this in some sort of vision. But his visions were still annoyingly random; he hadn’t even had a vision of Greg since the initial one upon arriving in Japan. ‘So what do I do?’

“That was excellent, Ami,” Minako concluded as she set her napkin aside. “I didn’t realize you were so good at preparing food.”

“Well most of the first part was sandwiches, that’s hardly a challenge,” Sewaya pointed out. He slid down slightly in his chair as what felt like invisible flames shot from Minako and Urawa’s eyes. “Euh, so,” Sewaya continued on hurriedly, seeking to change the subject, “if this is Ami’s house, whereabouts are you staying Greg? I’ll make it a point to avoid the area.”

The other four people at the table exchanged glances. Ami shrugged. “Actually, I’m currently staying here as well,” Greg admitted.

Sewaya blinked, glancing over at Ami then back at Greg. “Whoa, does this mean that you two are shacking up?!” he gaped.

Urawa cracked his knuckles and Minako dusted off her hands.

“It was just a question,” Sewaya mumbled from where he now lay sprawled on the floor. He rubbed his head. “You two could’ve just *explained* it…”

“It’s none of your business anyway,” Minako stated angrily.

“Now look,” Sewaya retorted, struggling to regain a sitting position. “While I may not be the most popular person here, I do have an interest in this stuff. I mean hey — (he paused to gesture at Greg) — it’s probably his fault I’m in Japan anyway.”

“What in the world are you talking about?” Urawa demanded, raising an eyebrow.

“Oh…” Sewaya paused and shrugged. “It was just his stupid speech.”

“Speech?” Greg asked. He furrowed his brows in thought. “What, you mean the one I gave back at school in Canada about Japanese culture?”

“Yeah, that,” Sewaya admitted. He rose to his feet. “It convinced my parents to move here. And I suppose I should have realized you were coming here too, having spoken about the topic, but to be honest I didn’t pay that much attention.”

“I thought you said your parents won a trip here,” Minako challenged.

Sewaya sighed. “Yeah, well, all right, that wasn’t the complete truth. See, my dad happened to be present when Greg gave his talk about Japanese relations or whatever during a school-related public speaking forum. It got my dad all wistful for the old days back home, and so he started making inquiries. It just so happened that his company was looking for someone to help out in a branch office out here. So my dad requests the transfer, gets a new job, and the all-expense paid trip to come here with the rest of the family.”

Sewaya paused to brush off his pants.

“So Greg was the inspiration behind my family coming here. If you want to blame anyone for my presence – blame him!” he concluded, pointing his finger at Greg.

“I hardly control your actions,” Greg observed.

“It all sounds made up anyway,” Minako refuted, crossing her arms.

“Well, actually…” Urawa paused with a funny look on his face. “I do recall my uncle talking about some sort of speech on the plane ride over… he mentioned how fate had presented him with this opportunity… I wasn’t thinking about it too much at the time.”

Sewaya nodded. “Fate, destiny, whatever. I wasn’t going to bring it up myself, seeing as I’m not having a bad time here – but the way you all just keep pounding on me when it wasn’t even my idea to come to town…”

Greg sighed and shook his head. “Fine, so I’m indirectly responsible for your trip, and if I hadn’t wanted to come to Japan, half of you in the room would be talking to yourselves now. But since we ARE here, can’t we do something besides argue?”

“I… I can find some cards,” Ami said quickly. “I think I have a deck in my room…” She backed off, away from the others, and hurried upstairs, mind spinning.

Once upstairs, she paused to press a hand to her forehead and take a few deep breaths. That conversation had been… well, weird to say the least. And it sounded true, at least in as much as Ami now remembered Greg’s parents talking about a speech in their letter. But could it really be that all her troubles were the result of one person wanting to further his studies abroad?

Because if Greg hadn’t wanted to go, then maybe Sewaya’s family wouldn’t have come… which meant Urawa would also still be in Canada… and none of this would be happening.

“Why I don’t I just find my cards,” Ami concluded, hurrying to her desk. She searched through her drawers, burrowing under her texts and some loose sheets covered in equations and chemical compositions until she came across the unopened box. ‘Aha!’ Ami thought triumphantly as she stood up again.

“Nice room,” came a quiet murmur from the doorway. Ami spun to see Urawa. Her cheeks quickly flushed a deep red and she hurried over, trying to block his view.

“You shouldn’t look!” Ami said, aghast. “It’s not proper without permission… I haven’t tidied up in here today!”

Urawa blinked in surprise before turning away. “I see. And has Greg ever been in your room?”

Ami opened her mouth to respond but suddenly couldn’t find words. There had been that time from the balcony, and not 24 hours ago, Greg had brought her in here after she had collapsed… “Well, he lives here; sometimes he has,” Ami admitted.

“And are you wearing perfume for him?” Urawa continued.

Ami bit her lip. “It’s… I think it’s just cologne. My mother gave it to me, I just felt like trying it out.”

Urawa sighed before turning back. “Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter either way. But you know Ami, even if Greg is indirectly responsible for both me and Sewaya being here… if I hadn’t taken the trip with my uncle, know that I would have tried to find another way back. Ami, you have to know that I just couldn’t have pictured myself with anyone but you…”

“Not even with Minako?” Ami tried not to wince, biting her tongue even as the words tumbled from her mouth before her brain had time to register what she was saying. She swallowed nervously as Urawa stared at her for a long minute, the question simply hanging in the air.

“There’s nothing between us.”

Ami blinked in surprise, not having expected that particular response. “Impossible,” she murmured at last. “I always see you two together these days.”

Urawa took in a deep breath. “Ami, if you say not to see her any more, I won’t. If you choose me, then I won’t even speak to Minako if you like. But… but if you can’t decide… Ami, I may have no choice but to give up on you.”

Ami took a step back reflexively. Her hand went for her medallion before she remembered that she had changed into a dress with no pockets. She had no idea how fast her heart was beating. Could it be that she had stalled too long? Was Urawa falling in love with someone else? Would the same thing happen to Greg? Should she even choose one of them at all?

Urawa exhaled shakily. For his part, he wasn’t sure what he was doing now, only that he was still losing ground despite everything. Somehow, he’d been doing everything wrong ever since he had said that he wasn’t going to lose Ami without a fight. Despite supposedly having precognitive powers.

So there had to be a decision while he still had a chance! What else could he do?

“It’s up to you,” Urawa finished quietly, still looking into Ami’s eyes.

<closing theme>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep 11a

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<opening theme>


Ami snapped her eyes open. She sat up with a start – and pressed a hand to her forehead. She’d had trouble getting to sleep last night and had experienced some troubled dreams… it was not unlike the time Greg had first kissed her. Except this time it was Ami’s own actions which had caused the trouble.

She turned to the window. She hadn’t seen Greg since the previous night, after he’d left her room. Ami had remained in her room herself after she had hit him. She couldn’t believe what she’d done. Not just the slap, but worrying needlessly, jumping to conclusions… plus she felt like she’d had some sort of revelation that had been utterly forgotten in the shock of the incident. What would Greg do now?

“Nothing,” Ami murmured. And she knew it would be so. Another similarity to the time he’d kissed her.

There would be no changes, no mention of anything – unless Ami brought it up herself, perhaps. And she didn’t know if she could do that.

The guilt she felt was coupled with complete embarrassment. She’d acted like a complete fool the previous day, just because she had been alone in the house with a guy. She resolved not to let it happen today. Perhaps this was how Greg had felt after the kiss? Was that why he’d closed himself off? Who knew?

Ami got out of bed and headed for the bathroom, trying to forget what had happened there last night. She thought she heard Greg downstairs in the kitchen, but by the time Ami made it down, he was gone.

Yet breakfast had been laid out and Greg’s food was untouched; he must be returning shortly. There was also a piece of paper on the table – a note. Ami blinked. Could it be… maybe Greg WASN’T just going to pass off what happened?

Feeling hopeful, Ami seized the paper and started scanning. He had written it in his native English, but Ami was pretty well versed in that language. It read:

<<I’ve been trying to decide whether to write to you for a while. I decided I had to after this recent development. Why are you always keeping these things to yourself anyway? I don’t understand and neither did your father.

(‘My father?’ Ami wondered.)

<<I just learned of the letter about the Japanese course you took over the summer, Greg. You came first in the class!>>

‘It’s not from Greg, it’s to him!’ Ami abruptly realized, tearing her eyes away. A letter from Canada! Indeed, as she looked around the room she now saw the opened envelope over on the counter. But her curiosity piqued, somehow her eyes fell back to the page…

<<You won an award! So I thought I should say congratulations; though I don’t know why you never mentioned to anyone that this is what you were doing all those evenings. So was that the inspiration behind your speech for school? Because while I am writing to you, I thought I’d let you know that Professor Matsuura wanted a copy. He said it was a shame you weren’t able to continue on to the public speaking competition. He thinks you could have won an award there too.
Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying yourself across the ocean… nothing else is really happening here. Feel free to drop me a line sometime?>>

It appeared to be signed by Greg’s mother. Ami lowered the letter and looked back up – right into the surprised, then amused expression of Greg. She blushed deeply.

“S-sorry! Gomen nasai!” she apologized in both languages, feeling like an idiot. So much for her resolution of this morning. Switching back to Japanese she continued, “I didn’t realize who this was for, I d-didn’t mean –“

“Don’t worry about it,” Greg interrupted with a wave of his hand. “It’s only a letter I got a couple days ago that I hadn’t gotten to reading until this morning. Nothing important in it.”

Ami blinked. Nothing important? “But you won some award and everything,” she exclaimed automatically. “That’s wonderful!” She glanced down at the letter again. “Though you kept your course secret from your parents?”

Greg shook his head. “It wasn’t really by design… they’re just a little oblivious. They knew the place I was going in the evenings, they just missed the significance.” He shrugged and took a seat. “Our family doesn’t make a big deal out of things like this anyway.”

“But that’s not right!” Ami blurted, resisting the urge to stamp her foot. How could he always be so calm? Especially while she couldn’t seem to stop talking; she wasn’t sure if that was to hide her continued embarrassment or to keep last night’s incident from coming up. But either way, well, a person’s parents shouldn’t act vacant!

Even her own mother, often too busy to spend much quality time with her daughter, would do a little something when Ami came out with top grades (again) at the end of a term. A new pencil set, special dinner, SOMETHING.

Was this why Greg was so hesitant about relationships? Because he wasn’t used to people taking an interest in him? Could he be worried about abandonment? Or that others wouldn’t approve of his family? Maybe it was his family atmosphere that made him like this? Or was Ami just reading too much into things again? She should really stop doing that.

Ami abruptly realized she was now just staring at Greg, who was looking back at her curiously. It was the silence that she’d been hoping to avoid. Ami flushed.

“Well, thank you for saying so,” Greg finally observed. There was another pause. “But your breakfast is getting cold,” he added, starting to eat.

Ami blinked. Sliding into the seat opposite, she began eating quietly. But her mind was working doubletime. She’d made a bit of a mess of this weekend so far. (In fact, after last night that was an understatement.) But most of her nerves had calmed now that one day had passed.

She resolved to redeem herself! Greg had won something? Then she would take an interest. They would celebrate! She could make a dinner, and do it right this time; maybe with a cake?

Yes! The two of them would enjoy this last day. Maybe it would even spark an emotional reaction from Greg?


Minako absentmindedly clicked back and forth between the sports match and the cheesy movie on her television. What a boring weekend. Even Artemis had wandered off somewhere by himself this morning.

Finally tiring of both shows, Minako switched off the television and tossed the remote aside. Maybe she should call one of her friends, see what they were up to.

Pulling the phone over, Minako started punching in a number. She checked herself – that was Urawa’s number. Why call him about anything? Redialling, Minako listened to the phone ring at the other end.

“Hello?” came Makoto’s voice.

“Hiya!” Minako said brightly. “What’s up?”

“Minako! Not too much really, just have some cookies in the oven… what about with you?”

“Absolutely nothing. Very dull day. Er, feel like getting together?”

“Sorry, I can’t really,” Makoto apologized. “Have these cookies now and a doctor’s appointment later. Regular checkup time.”

“Ah… that’s all right,” Minako replied, hiding her disappointment. She twirled the phone cord around her finger. “Know what any of the others are doing?”

“Nope, can’t help you there either I’m afraid. Oh – except Ami’s busy making a cake.”

Minako blinked. “A cake?”

“Yeah, she called me for some cooking tips before. Apparently Greg won an award or plaque for something and they’re celebrating at her house. She refused to go into detail, but wanted to make sure she had the right instructions for making a cake.”

“Oh,” Minako answered, momentarily nonplussed. She made a mental note to congratulate Greg herself for whatever it was at her earliest opportunity. Even though he didn’t seem interested in her now, it couldn’t hurt to keep a foot in the door.

“Usagi or Rei could be free though,” Makoto concluded, as Minako heard what sounded like an oven timer in the background.

“Right… well, I’ll let you get back to your cooking then,” Minako responded.

After a few parting words, she hung up. She then paused for a moment, debating calling one of the other Senshi. Finally deciding against it, Minako rose to look out the window. It was a nice day after all, maybe she should just go out and see who she ran into. As long as it wasn’t Sewaya.

Hurrying downstairs, Minako said a quick goodbye to her parents as she departed. After brief consideration, she headed for the Game Centre. There would probably be people there; plus with all the confusion on Friday, she’d never had a chance to play that new Sailor Moon game.

There was still a small lineup for that game when she arrived. Waiting her turn, Minako glanced around – she didn’t see anyone she recognized. Perhaps on a subconscious level she’d hoped Greg would be in?

Oh well. Motoki was here though. Minako gave him a friendly wave, and he wandered over.

“Hi!” Motoki said amicably. “Back to try your luck now that there’s less commotion?”

“Something like that,” Minako replied. “Don’t suppose any of my friends have been in today?”

Motoki shook his head. “Nope. Usagi was by yesterday though. Kept asking me about Kato.”

Minako nodded. “And I guess Greg doesn’t work weekends?” she found herself saying.

“Well, not usually,” Motoki admitted, scratching his head. “He actually was planning on coming in, but then something else came up… oh, saw him yesterday too actually. He was helping Ami shop while her mother was away.”

Minako nodded again as a commotion started up in another part of the arcade. “Excuse me,” Motoki said, quickly moving off to arbitrate. Minako turned her attention back to the Sailor Moon game.

It hit her about a minute later. *Ami’s mother was away??* But that meant it was just Ami and… Minako’s eyes became as wide as saucers. Both of them alone in the house? Now Ami was making a cake? Wait, just what was going on over at the Mizuno household???


At the Mizuno household, Ami was staring at her cake suspiciously. It didn’t look as light and fluffy as the picture. Even though she’d followed Mako-chan’s instructions to the letter, ensuring that she allowed time for the oven to cool down before removing it.

“Probably looks better with icing on it,” Ami ultimately justified.

That said, she began icing it with the batch she’d just mixed up. Yes, that was an improvement. Amazing what she could accomplish when she put her mind to it!

Ami glanced over at all the sandwiches she’d readied. She’d figured they were a safe choice, and something she was good at making. There was tons of variety there too. She also had some chicken salad. And now the cake was almost done. The whole process had ended up being a little messier than she expected (good idea to have tossed on that apron), but the final result was very satisfying.

“Ami, still working in there?”

Ami charged to the door. “Don’t come in!” she shouted quickly before Greg could enter. “Dinner’s almost ready; I’ll call you.”

Greg blinked at her in surprise then grinned. “Okay, you’re the boss.” He paused, reached out and wiped some frosting from Ami’s nose. “You ARE cute when you cook,” he concluded, turning away and going upstairs. Ami knew she was blushing again.

But no time to think about that now, she had to get everything JUST right. Spinning back into the kitchen, Ami finished with the cake and then laid out two places. She stood back, regarding the setup with her hands on her hips.

Didn’t seem right. Needed a centrepiece. Ami made a quick search and returned with a candelabra and some blue candles; that should make a nice effect! Ami smiled. Okay, now she should go change.

Cleaning herself up a bit, Ami then pulled off the apron and hurried upstairs. She paused on her way past Greg’s door to knock and tell him to go down in about ten minutes. Proceeding to her room, Ami scanned through her closet.

Should she dress up? This was sort of a special occasion, wasn’t it? How special? Hmmmmm, decisions, decisions. That blue dress? She’d worn it out in public a couple of times, but not recently. Seemed to convey just the right amount of casualness while still having some sophistication. Good.

Ami put it on. She brushed her hair, hooking errant blue strands behind her ear. She posed. Yes, that looked okay – didn’t it? Ami pursed her lips.

She still didn’t seem… elegant enough. Of course, she supposed only Greg would see her but… part of her felt like the situation deserved more. Even though this was just a simple celebration to honour Greg’s achievements… and to help make him feel welcome, and to make up for how she had been yesterday. And to show Greg that she cared.

Ami paused. That last was the problem; the caring. Which hinted at… what? A kind of date? Ami abruptly couldn’t really recall any time she had felt so much anticipation and nervousness at once.

She’d been out with guys before, of course; heck, she had been to an amusement park with both Urawa and then Greg at different times. But this felt different. More intimate, and not in a bad way. Her heart fluttered. If it wasn’t a date, how would one define it? And either way, shouldn’t she look more… refined? She still had a little over five minutes left.

After a long pause, fidgeting with her hands, Ami finally went to her bureau. She pulled open the bottom drawer. Ami didn’t use her cosmetics much – I mean, why put on a mask to look like someone else? – but she had some hidden away, which her mother had given her at her last birthday.

Swallowing uncertainly, Ami picked up what she thought was a box of perfume. Or maybe it was cologne? Either way, it was labelled ‘Marmalade Mercury’ and seemed somehow appropriate now. Removing the bottle from the box, Ami found it smelled nice too. (Though not like Marmalade… where did they come up with these names?)

Before losing her nerve, Ami dabbed a little on. And after another minute of hesitation, she applied a little lipstick and blush (to help conceal the one she had a feeling would be permanently on her face tonight). Finally satisfied, the blue haired girl stashed her makeup away and scampered quickly out of her room.

Back downstairs, Ami verified everything was in place. Greg would be here any second now. She lit the candles in the centre of the table. After a pause, she dimmed the lights to accentuate the fire’s glow. After another pause, she re-illuminated the lights to keep things from seeming TOO intimate. After another pause, she dimmed the lights again so that it wouldn’t be as easy to tell if her face turned the colour of a tomato.

Her cheeks felt warm and she was starting to get worried now. HAD she gone too far? Made too big a deal of it? What would Greg think? Would he even react?

Greg’s footsteps sounded on the stairs. Too late to back out. Ami dove for her chair and was sitting quietly by the time Greg came in.

She watched as he looked around. He seemed a little taken aback. She fidgeted with her hands under the table. But then he smiled at her.

“You never cease to amaze me,” Greg concluded softly. He approached the table.

Ami somehow felt that a response was in order. “I… I thought the table would look better with the candles,” she stammered. “As an overall effect. They’re very pretty.”

“Beautiful,” Greg agreed. But Ami saw he wasn’t looking at the candles, he was looking at her…

She stumbled to her feet as Greg reached the table. “There’s… that is… dinner itself’s mostly sandwiches,” Ami said, trying to keep from getting flustered. “I’m sorry, I suppose they don’t fit the mood as much, but it seemed right at the time. There’s cake after.”

She stopped. Greg was still just looking at her.

They came closer together as Greg took her hand.

“Thank you,” he said. “No one has ever done anything like this for me before.”

Ami wasn’t sure how long they spent looking into each other’s eyes. Then as their faces moved closer together, she wasn’t sure who had initiated the movement.

But now their lips were coming closer to each other too… and this felt right. Ami knew what was going to happen next…

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

Marmalade Mercury: Ep10b

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

Greg placed his hands gently on Ami’s shoulders. “Okay; don’t get so tense, it’s just dinner! My turn now. You rest, I’ll take care of it.”

Ami blinked up at him. “But…”

Greg shook his head. “Go. Tend to that burn. I’ll whip up something.”

Feeling a little too overwhelmed at the moment, Ami did as he said. And Greg indeed manage to whip up something in her absence.

Ami had to admit that she was impressed: it was almost like Greg had been taking lessons from Makoto. “I didn’t know you were so good at this,” Ami observed as they ate. “Maybe you should do the cooking from now on!”

Greg just shook his head. “Don’t rely on me – I only really know how to do three or four dishes well, otherwise I’m hopeless!” He winked, making no mention of the earlier mishap. Ami smiled, finally feeling calm. There was no reason to panic… she just had to stop thinking about the idea of romance!

Ami managed to keep her mind occupied on other things until after the dishes were put away and both teenagers had gone into the sitting room. It was as she started flipping channels on the television that Ami remembered; this was the place Greg had first kissed her.

She glanced over to where he sat next to her on the couch, but Greg was just looking at the various programs as she changed the channel. Ami shifted her attention back to the television, AGAIN trying to stop from thinking about the romance angle; hadn’t it had gotten her in enough trouble for one day?

She changed the station again. And he was now moving closer to her, making her blush as he leaned in, their lips almost touching…

Ami hurriedly changed the station once more, she didn’t want to watch a program with that sort of scene in it! “There doesn’t seem to be anything on,” she reflected at last, flipping through a few more channels.

“Hmmm. Well, here’s something then…” Greg said, standing. He slowly walked over and dimmed the lights. He glanced back with a smile before coming back and sitting a little closer to Ami than he had before. “If you’re game for this sort of thing at least,” he murmured softly.

Ami felt her throat go dry. “W-What…?” she asked.

“A horror movie,” Greg finished, holding up the TV Guide. “Starts in five minutes. Scare easily?”

“Oh!” Ami said, again relieved. “No, I don’t scare much at all, actually…” Being a Sailor Senshi tended to make regular scares seem mundane. She looked at the listing. `Nightmare on the 13th’… it had fairly good reviews as she recalled. “It’s certainly better than nothing,” Ami concluded, changing the station once more. Time to occupy her mind once again.

Greg nodded back and both teenagers settled in to watch. Though oddly, as the movie progressed, Ami did find herself getting a little frightened. The guy with the chainsaw who appeared in people’s dreams was almost more horrific than a youma, simply because youmas didn’t look as human. Who knew what sort of normal looking people were really psychotics anyway?

Ami subconsciously moved in closer to Greg. And when the show was finally over, she flushed as she realized just how close they’d become; Ami was practically clutching at his shirt. If someone from school could see her now, what would they think…! She scooted back, trying not to blush.

Greg glanced over and grinned. “Nervous? I guess that movie did scare you a bit then.” Turning away, he rose to switch off the television.

Ami felt herself unable to keep from blushing deeper, now grateful for the subdued lighting. ‘It wasn’t the movie that made me nervous there…!’ she thought to herself. Could Greg really be so dense?

He looked back at her. “So, Ami… I guess we should go to bed now,” Greg declared.

Ami blinked and almost fell off the end of the couch before she realized that statement had no relation to romance either. “Oh! Yes, of course, it’s getting late,” she agreed.

Ami dashed up to her own room quickly, lest Greg notice her face was now the same colour as a tomato. Once upstairs she let out a breath, cursing herself again. Stop thinking about romance! Why did it keep coming up?

Her eyes fell upon her Mercury plush doll. “You don’t have to worry about this sort of thing!” she accused. “You just fight for love, you don’t have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. Whatever happened to those days?”

Ami threw herself back on her bed. Okay, not that fighting evil was necessarily preferable, but it was more predictable!

Ami rolled to look out her window. Well, maybe part of the problem was that the more she denied it, the more love asserted itself. Perhaps it was best to resign herself to the current situation instead of trying to pretend all was normal.

“I’m in a house, alone with Greg,” Ami stated. “Nothing has happened. Nothing is going to happen. There’s nothing to worry about!” She sat up, nodding firmly. There, she felt a little better now; it could be better to meet such things head on.

Seeking to relax a bit, Ami started to do a little light reading in her math textbook. But part of her still felt uncomfortable. It occurred to her that swimming often helped calm her when studies failed, and that she hadn’t been to the pool in a while. Too late to go now of course, but maybe a relaxing bath? Water was almost always naturally soothing to her. Getting up again, Ami headed for the bathroom.

What happened next was completely unexpected. For as Ami opened up the bathroom door, she made an unsettling discovery. Greg had beaten her there. He was washing up at the sink. Dressed, thank the gods, but his shirt was undone… he turned to look at her.

‘Close the door!’ screamed Ami’s mind. But she felt paralysed. What if she’d come a little later, what would he have been doing? Blushing for the umpteenth time, Ami tried to find her voice to stammer out an apology, something, anything, say anything, say…

“Did you want to join me?” Greg asked with a bemused look.

Ami felt her face growing just as red as it had earlier, if not more so. “Ecchi!” she blurted out. “Why didn’t you lock the door??” she added, knowing she probably should have knocked herself.

Spinning away and racing back to her room in record time, Ami was unable to recall any time in her life when she’d felt so mortified. She leaned back against her closed bedroom door and slid to the ground.

How could her mother have left the two of them alone together? She was probably off having a great time at her medical conference, not realizing what her daughter was going through! And what had Greg meant by that comment?? Intruding on someone’s privacy was not something to be joked about, not the way he did everything else! This living arrangement was just intolerable… she couldn’t live like this… or maybe the problem was that she was getting accustomed to living like this when she shouldn’t be?

Hadn’t she been thinking that thought a couple of days ago? Well, the last few minutes showed her how bad things could get! Oh, whatever had her mother been THINKING when she’d agreed to that overseas arrangement? What had her father been thinking when he set it up, for that matter!

Slowly Ami’s heart rate returned to normal again. She eyed her bedroom door with trepidation. Was it safe to go out? Would it ever be? Would anyone notice if she just stayed in her room for the rest of her life?

“Now you’re being silly,” she muttered quietly. She needed that relaxing bath even more now. Bracing herself, Ami poked her head out into the hallway. Greg was just entering his room.

“All clear,” he observed, looking back as he heard her door open.

Ami flushed again. She hurried for the bathroom as fast as she could, while trying not to make it look like she was in a hurry. She made sure to lock the door behind her. “Why do these things keep happening to me?” she mumbled as she ran the bath water.

Ami undressed, and once the bath was near full she shut off the water and slipped in. The warm water was comforting and Ami closed her eyes, just letting herself soak for a while. Her mind wandered as she imagined herself floating in her own private pool.

Eventually her thoughts turned back to how the day had gone. She supposed it hadn’t really been that bad. And she had actually had fun with Greg for the most part. Of course, she probably would have enjoyed it more if she hadn’t been so nervous. And Greg’s comment after her mistake in going to the bathroom, Ami still thought that hadn’t been really appropriate.

Oh well… it would all be over after tomorrow. She could go back to just everyday romantic concerns. Ami couldn’t hold back a giggle.

Suddenly there was a tap at the door. “Ami? It’s been over half an hour – you drowning in there?” came Greg’s voice.

Ami made a face. “I’m fine, I’ll be out soon!” she shouted back. What was Greg’s problem? She was glad she’d locked the door… though no, Greg wasn’t the type to do anything like THAT.

She was pretty sure. Who understood guys anyway? “If only there were practical books about them,” Ami mumbled as she slipped down deeper into the water, some of it pouring over the edge. She let her mind wander again.


Back in his room, Greg flipped another page of his math textbook and scrawled another couple of equations down. Then he glanced over at the clock. Whatever could Ami be doing in the bathroom for so long?

Probably just a girl thing, he shouldn’t worry. She said she’d be out soon. Maybe she was just avoiding him. He tapped his pencil on the desk. If only the house didn’t seem so eerily quiet all of a sudden!


Ami blinked up at the ceiling. Was it getting warm in here? She supposed she’d been soaking long enough. She certainly felt relaxed now.

Ami rose unsteadily, emerging from the bath and pulling the plug. She reached out for a towel – and completely missed it. Stumbling forwards, she supported herself with one hand on the wall, raising the other to her forehead.

It WAS warm… she’d let herself get a little overheated… how long HAD she been in here? Her fingertips were all pruned.

Shaking her head to try and clear it, Ami grabbed for the towel again. Successful this time, she wrapped it around her body and tucked it into place. Better just to get back to her room. Maybe a bit of fresh air… then she wouldn’t feel so dizzy…

Shaking her head again, Ami reached out for the door handle. She missed it by a mile, stumbled, pitched to the side, knocked over the towel hamper, and then hit the floor.

Of course, she could always sleep right here…


Greg continued to tap his pencil on the desk. He was paying almost exclusive attention to the clock now. It was just too damn quiet! Wait, had that been a thump?

“Well, worst she can do is yell at me again,” Greg muttered, getting up and going back to the bathroom door. He tapped softly. “So what’s the Japanese definition of ‘soon’ anyway?” he inquired.

No response.

A little uneasy now, Greg knocked louder. “Hey, don’t I even rate a reply now?”


“Okay, look, I’m sorry for what I said before, all right?”

Silence. This wasn’t funny. Ami didn’t strike him as the sort of person to pull pranks either.

Greg banged on the door. “Ami? You feeling okay?”

Maybe he’d just missed seeing her come out. Greg carefully tried the door; it was locked.

“Ami, what’s going on?” Greg was almost yelling now. He slammed his palm against the door. “Ami? If you don’t say anything I’m coming in there!”

Damn it! What had happened? Greg tried to quell the fear and panic rising in his heart.

“Ami! Can you hear me? Are you okay?? AMI???”

Biting his lip, Greg tried the door again. Still locked. Enough was enough.

Greg threw all his weight down on the door handle, yanking at the door. He grimaced. Come ON…! The lock snapped, the door popped open.

“AMI-CHAN!” Greg gasped, thoroughly unsettled by the discovery of her prone form on the floor.


The wind blew gently through Ami’s hair. “Ami-chan…” She glanced around in confusion. “Ami-chan…” Who was calling her? She turned. And Greg was there with her.

“Ami-chan… I heard you’re the greatest student in the school,” he commented conversationally. He smiled.

“What?” Ami blinked, finding herself blushing.

“But Ami, our breakup was a mistake…” As Ami blinked, it wasn’t Greg anymore, it was Urawa. Ami gasped. “I won’t give you up to him without a fight!” Urawa said.

“Urawa certainly has some endearing qualities – wouldn’t you agree, Ami?” The blue-haired girl stared as Minako appeared, linking arms with Urawa. The blonde smiled. “But if you don’t want Greg, I can go out with him instead…”

Then the blue Medallion dropped down in front of Ami’s eyes. “It will bond the two of you together as long as you have it,” came Rei’s voice.

Ami spun away, only to come face to face with Makoto. “If you just want to be friends with either of them… be friends,” the brunette stated.

“I don’t know…” Ami murmured. “I can’t…”

And she was standing in the middle of a bridge. Ami whirled around, seeing Greg on one side and Urawa on the other. “No,” she choked, holding her head in her hands. “I can’t decide…”

Beside her, Usagi sighed. “Ami… stay calm. If both Greg and Urawa really like you, they’ll respect your wishes and your decisions. I’m sure the last thing they want you to do is make you feel pressured or uncomfortable, right?”

Ami blinked, and Usagi was no longer there. In fact Ami seemed to be floating in a void.

“Ami-chan…” The voice was calling to her again. It was time to decide… and for a split second, Ami KNEW…

“Ami, wake up!”

Ami snapped her eyes open. She sat up with a start. What had she just been thinking? Something fell her lap.

She blinked at the cold cloth in confusion. It had been on her forehead. She was on her bed. When…? Her eyes finally focused and her memory came back.

She’d passed out in the bathroom. But now she was back in her room? And Greg was bending down next to her, peering at her intently. And she was only wearing a towel.

“No!” Ami shouted in horror. Her arm came up in a wide arc, hand connecting solidly with Greg’s cheek. It had been completely instinctive, the look of genuine concern on Greg’s face not even registering until moments later.

Greg reeled, falling back a step or two. His look of concern flashed briefly into astonishment, then relief, and then his expressionless face was back.

“Well,” he murmured quietly. “If you can do that, you must be okay now.” And he turned and slipped out of the room.

Ami remained motionless, arm still in the position of her backswing, as the full impact of what had just occurred dawned on her. Greg had only been helping her. None of this was his fault. Her eyes looked at the cold cloth then slowly turned until they were staring down at the palm of her hand.

“Oh my God,” she whispered. “What have I done…”

<closing theme>

Marmalade Mercury: Ep10a

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<opening theme>


Mrs. Mizuno gave her daughter a quick kiss on the cheek. “Take care now, dear. Here’s a number for emergencies. Oh, and I’ll leave you two my credit card in case of expenses – you’ll probably need to buy some food. Saturday is when I usually shop so I’m not sure how much there is to eat in the house.”

She pulled out the card and handed it to Greg.

“I think that’s everything. Take care and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” With a final smile Ami’s mom was out the door.

There was a brief pause. “She’s really gone,” Greg commented, glancing at the card in his hand.

“Ah, y-yes,” Ami affirmed. She was now alone with Greg. Admittedly, there had been similar situations when the two of them had been alone together, but her mother had at least been available then. Tonight, it would be just her and… Ami blushed. No, she shouldn’t think about that!

Better to take this an hour at a time and just pretend everything was normal – because would it be all that different? Her relationship troubles were almost becoming routine. Except would Greg act differently?

Ami turned to look at him. He was looking back at her curiously. Had he spoken?

“Sorry, what?” Ami asked.

“I said do you want to try for breakfast now or should we go back to bed?” Greg repeated.

“Oh, uh…” Ami suddenly realized they were both still in night attire, having just come down to see her mother off. She felt her blush deepening. “Er, you do whatever, I’m going up to dress,” Ami replied quickly. She rushed upstairs, feeling self-conscious.

‘Calm down,’ she mentally chided when she reached her room. ‘It hasn’t even been five minutes yet. It’s only Greg. What am I so nervous for?’

Glancing around, Ami caught sight of her medallion on her desk once again. She’d had it for over a week; Greg and Urawa had been in town for more than two. Ami pursed her lips. She was still stalling.

‘Choosing Urawa means not choosing Greg. Why doesn’t Greg act more seriously? Is there an answer to everything there?’ she mused, recalling her analysis of a few days ago.

She still hadn’t really formed any conclusions about him. He had seemed more popular at the arcade the other day than she had anticipated… but he’d still stayed distant and aloof from all the people he was helping.

Well, anyway, the idea of something romantic happening while it was just the two of them, that unnerved her. She should probably put all the analysis and angst aside for now, until they were through it.

‘I’ll take this weekend one minute at a time.’ Ami decided, heading for the bathroom. ‘For now, it’s just like a regular day.’ Hadn’t Greg once said that there were times to deal with problems later? Thoughts of romance could wait until Monday.


Downstairs, Greg started perusing the kitchen cabinets. Yes, they probably would need to go shopping at their earliest convenience. He finally sat, shaking his head slightly.

God, fate, time or whatever was really playing tricks on him now. He had never expected any of this to happen on a simple trip to Japan. And now alone in the house with Ami… was it only yesterday what he’d considered avoiding her? He supposed he’d better reject that idea. After all, he did like seeing Ami…

“Oh, stop denying it, you like HER,” Greg muttered aloud. And she seemed to know this. But he had no idea exactly how to show his feelings beyond what he was doing.

Greg held his head in his hands and bit his lip. The best time to make a declaration would probably have been shortly after his arrival, before the whole Urawa thing started up. But would it have been too soon? And the kiss had complicated things… while actions spoke louder than words, that had been a little too loud.

So he’d backed off almost completely… and now things had grown even more complicated. Greg supposed that the main problem was that (aside from Minako) he had never been in any sort of relationship. He didn’t have anyone he could go to for advice. And yet he didn’t want to mess things up.

The other thing was that it never seemed to be the right time to really talk to Ami now. In a way, Greg envied Urawa’s more outgoing nature… and that guy seemed to be a big hit with Ami’s friends too.

“Do I even have a chance?” Greg sighed as he leaned back in his chair.

Truth be told, he was probably having as much difficulty working out the relationship angle as Ami… and he was stalling as much as her too. While keeping some things to himself. But on the other hand, if Ami eventually found out more about him… Greg paused.

Eventually what? Eventually she wouldn’t want anything to do with him? Maybe he was just afraid that if she found out about his feelings, and more importantly about his past, that she *wouldn’t* reject him.

Greg shivered. Being close to someone, that was the really scary prospect… because… well, no, this wasn’t the time to think about that.

At any rate, their current living arrangement was probably going to preoccupy Ami’s mind as much as his, if not more. He would need to relax her a bit to keep her from getting stressed out; falling back on his natural defence of teasing would probably distract her enough. Maybe she would blush in that adorable way…

Greg smiled slightly for the first time that day. And there were certainly worse ways to spend a weekend. Which reminded him: things the way they were, he’d better go make a phone call.


Ami came back down, washed and dressed, as Greg went upstairs. Going into the kitchen, she realized neither he nor her mother had made any breakfast. With a shrug, Ami checked in the fridge and by the time Greg returned, he found two omelettes with what remained of the eggs, plus bacon.

“Well, this is a switch,” Greg commented, having again put on an expressionless face to join Ami at the table. “You didn’t have to cook while I was upstairs, you know.”

“Oh, that’s okay,” Ami replied, smiling uncertainly. “As I said once before, I’ve learned how to make a few things.”

“But I didn’t get to see how cute you’d look cooking,” Greg commented.

Ami’s mouth opened, but she found she couldn’t form a sentence. One minute at a time… this was just typical Greg. Hoping that she wasn’t blushing again, Ami cleared her throat. “Well, it looks like we’ll need to shop before we can have dinner,” she diverted.

“Will you be cooking then also?”

“I… er, I guess…”

Greg nodded. “Great!” He took a bite. “And this tastes pretty good actually… maybe cooking skills do run in your family too.”

Ami simply nodded. She wasn’t sure what to say. She realized abruptly that until today, she’d never really cooked for any one person except herself or her mother before. Certainly never a guy! And she’d made him an omelette?? She should have made something better than that! Right?

Well, of course, she didn’t want to imply anything romantic, but… maybe she could find something good in a cooking book for dinner.


“Sage, seasonings and spices?” Greg summarized, swiftly scanning the shopping list. “I didn’t realize you’d be adding so much.”

“Er, I was looking through a recipe book and there were a fair number of things I couldn’t find in the cabinets. So I thought we might as well stock up,” Ami explained.

“Ahh,” was Greg’s only response.

‘Was it too much?’ Ami wondered. She should have called Makoto maybe, to get some advice: she was the best cook around. But both Ami and Greg had decided to go out while it was still morning – less crowds, plus Ami had figured she might get less nervous AWAY from confines of her home.

So Ami had just done a quick flip through some cookbooks, adding what seemed best to the basic list. She wondered what Greg’s favourite food was. Somehow she didn’t see simple sandwiches, her own preference, as being high up there. But you could never tell with him.

Even at the supermarket he still kept up his indifference and Ami ended up throwing even more things in the cart in her uncertainty. Shaking his head, Greg paid for it with Mrs. Mizuno’s credit card, then offered to carry the bags as they set out for the return trip.

Departing the store, Ami ultimately let herself glance around, noticing there were a fair number of couples out, of all ages. Holding hands and that sort of thing. She wondered if this was something usual for the weekend or if it was just something always happening that she’d never payed too much attention to before.

Either way, it was almost unsettling, given how her walking with Greg could be misinterpreted. Ami supposed she shouldn’t walk too close – Urawa, Minako, Sewaya or someone would probably pop up if that happened. She was sort of surprised it hadn’t happened already, the way her luck…

“Ami-chan!” Greg shouted, grasping her arm. Ami blinked out of her reverie to see a car speed by inches in front of her. Ami could feel her heart hammering in her chest. Greg had kept her from walking out into the street against the light. “Ami, don’t make me carry you as well as the shopping bags,” Greg joked. “Pay attention.”

Ami opened her mouth to retort but found she could only nod lamely. She chastised herself internally for not being careful, still giving romance such a precedence over everything else. She could have been hurt if it hadn’t been for Greg! All right, from now on she would not worry about someone popping up and saying…

“Hey, Greg – I never expected to find you out here!”

Ami spun. But it was only Motoki. Of course, they were passing near the arcade. Still, Ami couldn’t get her heartbeat to slow.

“Heya, boss,” Greg replied with a grin. “Sorry about not coming in this weekend, but they were extra hours and I had some things that needed doing.”

Motoki grinned back. “I see. You know, for a minute there I thought you’d called me this morning to skip work in favour of a date.”

Greg gestured absently. “Nah, just decided to give Ami some help shopping while her mom’s out of town.”

Greg had given up work today? Ami glanced over at him.

“Well, we seem to be managing okay without you,” Motoki replied. “Sailor Moon game attracting just enough attention, profits up…”

“Ah, you can’t wait for my return Monday and you know it.” Greg winked.

“Well, I’ll let you believe that if it makes you feel better,” Motoki returned playfully. “But anyway, I’d better be getting back inside. See you two later!” With a wave, Motoki departed and Ami and Greg were walking alone on the street again.

Greg glanced over to see Ami staring up at him. “Before you panic,” he began, “I don’t think you have to worry about Motoki spreading rumours.”

Ami blinked and nodded. “Actually, I was just wondering… you gave up work to spend time with me?”

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be strong enough to carry the shopping bags,” Greg answered.

Ami made a face. There he went again. “What is your aversion to being serious?” she demanded.

“When I see your face, my brain gets paralyzed,” he smiled.

Ami rolled her eyes – but she couldn’t help but feel a little flattered. How did Greg do that to her?

“Hey, want to stop and grab a drink?” Greg continued. “It’s fairly close to lunch and it’s not easy carrying these bags.”

“Too weak to make it home?” Ami found herself saying.

Greg made a face back in response and Ami giggled. Greg had changed the subject again… but Ami did feel a little thirsty.

“Okay, let’s get something,” she acquiesced.


Ami absentmindedly stirred the noodles on the stove. She’d enjoyed the day so far. She and Greg had eaten out for lunch and tidied up the house a bit upon returning. So far so good.

Ami even felt that she was starting understand Greg a little better; anything to do with specific feelings or opinions was answered casually or with a diversion. And while he could appear cold, it looked like Greg was just trying to keep a certain amount of distance between them.

Almost like he had some secret… something he didn’t want to tell anyone. Hadn’t he mentioned a secret before? Maybe he hadn’t been joking.

Ami brushed a little hair back off her forehead. She had read somewhere that intuition was a feeling with a basis in fact, something that was registered only by the subconscious mind. Ami supposed she had a good intuition about Greg. She only wished her conscious mind would figure it all out too.

But, she quickly reminded herself, with only the two of them in the house, romance was NOT the best thing to be thinking about this weekend! It just made her worry, which might lead to something like earlier today, with the car; the last thing she needed was for another incident to —

“Ouch!” Ami shrieked as the pot tumbled from the range, splashing water and pasta all over the floor. She’d tried to pick it up without first putting on protective mitts. That had been HOT!

Greg ran into the room. “Ami? What happened? Are you all right?”

Ami gingerly touched her fingers. “I… I think so,” she assessed. “Just a mild burn… I wasn’t thinking when I moved…” Her eyes now registered the mess on the floor and she choked back a sob. “Oh no, the DINNER…”

Her face registered both horror and sorrow as she fell to the floor, trying to see if anything could be salvaged. What had she been thinking just before this? Was it some self-fulfilling prophecy of romantic disaster?

Greg bent down to try and reassure her, which meant that neither of them noticed the mixture still bubbling on the other heater. Not until it made it’s presence known.

“The white sauce!” Ami exclaimed, almost in a panic as she jumped up from her cleaning efforts to switch off the element.

Light smoke drifted from the saucepan. The sauce did not look white anymore. Ami bit her lower lip, trying to keep her body from shaking. She’d let herself get distracted… and now everything was ruined!

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

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>