“Welcome back, Ami-chan!”
The confetti flew out of the poppers, showering all over the four young girls as they cheered. They jumped around, hugging and laughing, and eating candy and sweets as they celebrated.
“Oh…” Ami blushed furiously. “Oh, thank you.”
“Its good to see everyone together again, like this.” Luna smiled. “Such a celebration is our gift to you.
“Definitely, its nothing much!” Usagi gave Ami a fierce hug. “But its something still! Let’s go on celebrating with a song. From our favorite idol. Of course, an Aino Minako song!”
Ami could not help but smile as Usagi hustled her onto the stage-like step of the control room. With a flick of the switch, Usagi turned her cell phone on, and tuned it in like a microphone.
“Let’s go! Karaoke style!”
On cue, the music of Minako began to blast from unseen speakers. With a nudge, a wink, and a laugh, Usagi began to sing into her microphone.
“Stirred by impulses,” Usagi began, “that there's nothing
I can do.That has begun for me now, feelings searching for you…”
“Just like predictable movies and books are boring.” Ami smiled as she sang. “When life is a little bit off, it might be more fun.”
The two girls laughed and giggled, almost as if they were drunk. Makoto, smiling, began to sing as Ami and Usagi began the chorus.
“This warm feeling is c'est la vie!!” The two almost screeched.
They pointed at each other at this part. “As long as I am me, c'est la
vie! I want to keep on being in love with you. Running through the place where
this moment lives right in front of me.”
“Why is it that people have but one chance to live life?” Usagi hugged Ami. “Why does time not stand still even for one second?”
In the audience, Makoto laughed. Luna, now human, began to clap along with the song. Rei, though visibly happy, did not participate in the singing; she simply gave a smile of contentment.
“Just like an unexpected someplace,” this time, Makoto’s
voice came up, “causes sores from the shoes on my feet, from time to time
someplace in my heart feels pain.”
“I know I will find you, c'est la vie!” The three sang together, though Makoto did not leave her seat. “That's the reason I am me, c'est la vie! That's the reason you are you. I can't see anything, but I want to see something. So I chase after you!”
“This warm feeling is…!” Usagi gave Ami the floor. “Go on!”
“C'est la vie,” Ami’s voice slightly shook at the beginning, becoming more confident as the chorus neared its end. “ As long as I am me, c'est la vie. I want to keep on being in love with you. C'est la vie, that's the reason I am me. C'est la vie, that's the reason you are you.”
“Running through the place where this moment lives!” Usagi suddenly jumped in at the end. “Right in front of me! Right in front of meEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!”
As the song ended, Usagi tripped over her two feet, falling straight onto her face. The girls began to laugh at this.
“Oooo-oooh!” Ami bent down and grabbed her hand. “Usagi-chan,
are you all right?”
“Yeah…” Usagi meekly smiled as she was pulled up. “Bah. Ruined the song with a single move.”
“I found it amusing,” Rei suddenly piped up smugly.
“Aww!!” Usagi pouted. “Rei-chan. How cruel can you be?”
“Hey, hey!” Makoto stood up and smiled. She gave Ami a big hug. “No fights. We’re a team again. Let’s not fight anymore, ok?”
A flicker of sadness passed as a shadow over Ami’s face as Makoto said this. She hid it with a smile.
“Yes.” She closed her eyes. “Let’s not fight anymore.”
“So Darkury is finally gone.”
Minako sat inside a large, empty board room, tapping her fingers on the table. She looked down at several pieces of paper, then at the door.
“I wish they would hurry up.”
“Darkury, gone, yes.” A muffled voice came from Minako’s purse. “It certainly will help when everyone’s memories fully awaken that we’re all back on the right side.”
“If they awaken.”
There was a hint of bitterness in Minako’s voice. At this, Artemis’ head popped out of the purse.
“Mina-chan, why such little faith?”
“Artemis.” There was a hint of exasperation in Minako’s voice. “They should have awoken long ago. Usagi turning into the princess, that alone should have brought it all back. Yet…..nothing.”
Minako gave a sigh. She wisped her hair back from her face.
“Maybe…..it’s all over-“
“Mina-chan!” Artemis poked Minako’s leg. “Don’t say that. You have to give them time. They are not like you; their experiences are different. Instead of saying they have awoken too late, one could say you awoke too soon, you know.”
Minako paused. She rubbed her head, giving a slight moan as she did. She shut her eyes tightly. She said nothing for a moment.
“I…….” Minako shuddered. “I’m all right.”
“I…..don’t know.” Minako sighed again. “Time is running out.”
“But…..at least Darkury is gone.” Artemis gave a nod. “She’s gone. That demon will no longer plague Mizuno Ami for as long as she lives.”
“That depends on how you say ‘plague’.” Minako pursed her lips. “Perhaps not in physical form. But the ramifications of the aftermath-“
“Minako! You in there?”
Minako’s head came up. Artemis immediately jumped into the purse as several older men entered the board room. One by one, they sat down.
“Minako.” Minako’s manager sat down next to her. “We
want to discuss a new single from the upcoming album with you. Normally, the
company would not allow a singer to choose their next single…”
“But the success of ‘C’est La Vie’, written by you, gave them pause.” Minako’s manager nodded to the men, who nodded back. “It’s still number one, but they want you to pick the next single personally. It will make an impression on the people, and will give them incentive to buy Rainbow when it comes out in July.”
“The album will be called Rainbow?”
“Well….yes, of course.” A few chuckles came from the producers. “Dedicated to the skin colors of your fans, of course. We think its going to be big, very big, especially with the tour coming up soon as well.”
“Hm.” Minako gave a smirk. “So…you want me to pick the next single?”
The men all looked at her, awaiting her response. Artemis, watching from below, could tell from her tone that the men had inadvertently managed to take Minako’s mind off of Darkury and everyone else.
“Now,” the men all looked at her. “Did you have any particular song in mind to release as a single before the album comes out?”
“Wow, it feels good to be back.”
Usagi gave a smile to Ami as they proceeded down the hall of their junior high school. Ami, on the other hand, had her head down, and her face was filled with worry.
“Nothing bad’s going to happen today. No test today!” Usagi
looked at Ami. “Ami-chan?”
Ami stopped. She looked up at Usagi, her lips quivering.
“Usagi-chan……did I……did I do anything to the
“Did you….” Usagi paused. “Ami-chan…”
“I have…..a feeling.” Ami-chan shook. “Please, Usagi-chan, be honest with me. What did I do to the students under the spell?”
Usagi clasped Ami’s hand tightly. She looked into Ami’s eyes, and could see the sadness and fright in them. It almost seemed to swim in her blue eyes like tidal waves.
“Ami-chan, listen to me.” Usagi smiled. “Whatever she did, she is not you. Please, understand. What you may have done, it was forced on you. Those feelings, they weren’t yours…”
Ami looked away at this. She looked frightened, almost to the point where she was about to cry.
“I…..I did do something…” A tear came down. “I
know I did…..I turned them against you…”
“Ami-chan!” Usagi clasped her hand tighter. “If the classmates do anything to you for it, I’ll defend you. They can’t harm you, because I won’t let them!”
Ami and Usagi looked up. In front of them was Naru, Kanami, Momoko and two other students. They looked somewhat annoyed.
“What are you doing with her, Usagi-chan?”
Usagi opened her mouth to say something, but suddenly fell silent, save for a squeak. Ami quietly bent her head down.
“…Or did you forget again?”
“Uh….guys!” Having finally found her voice, Usagi finally spoke. “Look, whatever happened between you and me in thepast couple of days, and however you recovered from it, please don’t think badly of Ami-chan. Honestly, it wasn’t her fault that it had happened….it was all mine.”
The three stared at Usagi with open mouths. Ami looked up at Usagi, her eyes wide.
“…..What…..” a snort came from Naru. “….Are…you talking about, Usagi-chan?”
Suddenly, the three girls began to laugh. It was Usagi and Ami’s turn to gape as the three girls giggled and gasped for breath.
“Usagi-chan.” Momoko rolled her eyes. “If you were going to be with Mizuno-san, you should have at least told us last night.”
“So you did forget, Usagi-chan?” Naru smiled. “Our date at the new karaoke up in Shinjuku?”
“O….Oooooh!” Usagi turned red. “Oooh, I’m sorry. I….guess I forgot about it.”
“That’s ok, Usagi-chan.” Kanami shrugged. “It was a bad night anyways. We ended up getting there late, and we had to stand in line for an hour and a half. And when we finally got in, we couldn’t even sign up to sing because the sheet was full. You didn’t miss a thing, Usagi-chan.”
“I bet,” Momoko nodded. “You were probably doing something more productive with Mizuno-san?”
Usagi looked at Ami, giving a warm smile. Ami, meanwhile, kept on gaping at the three girls, her face confused.
They…… Ami looked down, her thoughts sinking in. …..don’t remember?…
“Come on.” Naru motioned with a laugh. “Silly Usagi-chan. We’d better get to class.”
Usagi laughed uneasily as she followed the girls into the 2-A classroom. Ami said nothing, but simply kept her head down as she followed them.
”Don’t presume to talk to Mizuno-san like you know her.”
“I will keep our battle out of here, Tsukino-san. But for now….”
Ami stopped at the doorway. Inside of the classroom, the students had begun to congregate into their groups and cliques. There was laughing, talking, the shuffling of papers and food as everyone began to prepare for class. Ms. Haruna was not in the classroom yet, as was made apparent by the bustle within.
………They don’t remember…..
Yet Ami dreaded entering the classroom. Though on the outside, she pretended to agree with Usagi, on the inside, she was afraid. In the students’ laughing, she could see the condemnations of her actions in the past; in their eyes, a tiny flicker of the dark energy she had tainted them with. One false movement, one wrong word, and the memories would come back to them…
Ami’s head came up with a gasp. Usagi was looking at her with an ezpression of worry on her face.
“Are you all right?”
“Usagi-chan.” Naru looked at Ami. “What’s wrong with her?”
Usagi began to sweat. She looked at the ground, her mind thinking of every excuse it could.
“Ami-chan……was sick for a few days,” Usagi finally
replied. “See, she had a touch of a cold or something. And, her mom is
also on a trip to Europe. So Ami-chan’s not only been sick, but she’s
a little broken-hearted as well.”
“Oh…..Mizuno-san!” Naru looked surprised. “Well, I guess that explains why you were with her last night, then.”
“You know…” Momoko looked at Ami. “Now that you mention it, Mizuno-san <I>does</I> look a bit pale. Will she be all right today?”
Ami looked at each girl’s face, studying each of them carefully. There was a look of concern on Naru’s face, as well as on Usagi’s, while Momoko and Kanami held looks of nonchalant questioning.
“I’ll….” Ami smiled faintly. “I’ll be all right…..I’m sure….”
“And so, when we go and divide anything in parentheses with a square root first…”
Ami stared at the board, her body tense with worry. It had been a great struggle to try and keep herself calm during the day, and it was only getting harder the later it got. She was certain that someone in the class remembered that she had cast a vex against Usagi, and she exchanged glances with those whom caught her attention in any way. It didn’t help that it was a warm day, and the heat inside the room was making her choke on her breath.
I know what they’re thinking…. She shut her eyes as sweat began to dot her face. ”Oh, Mizuno-san is acting so strange…..” And then, someone, anyone, will suddenly go, “Wait! I remember.” And then, they’ll all look at me, and-
Ami gave a gasp. Everyone was looking at her as her mind came out of her thoughts. She took several deep breaths to compose herself and wiped her brow.
“T….”Ami gulped. “Tangents, Haruna-sensei?”
“No, do question number five. I’ve been off tangents for an hour!” Haruna looked slightly exasperated as several of the members giggled. “Mizuno, were you even paying attention?!”
“N….” Ami’s head came down. “No, Haruna-sensei.”
“……Are you all right?” Haruna put her chalk down. “You look as pale as a sheet.”
“No, she doesn’t, Haruna-sensei.” At this, Naru piped up. “She hasn’t been feeling well for some time.”
“Hmph.” Haruna crossed her arms. “Our sick genius. Just what we need today. Osaka, escort Mizuno to the nurse.”
With that, Naru took Ami by the arm and stood her up on her feet. Wobbling slightly, Ami allowed Naru to take her out into the hallway, her head still down.
Stupid…….STUPID! Ami silently cursed herself. Why, why did I think such foolishness? Why must I be so paranoid? Darkury is a memory the students no longer possess. Yet why, why must I make things hard on myself? What am I doing?!
“Here we are.”
Naru brought Ami into the small, white-washed office and sat her down in a
chair. In front of Ami was a small brown desk, vacant, with the sign “Naka”
on it. Behind it were two cots, and windows with the blinds drawn. Ami noticed,
upon looking around, that she was the only one in the office.
“Hmm. The nurse must be out.” Naru looked at Ami. “Will you be all right?”
“Yes…..I’ll be fine.”
“I’m going back to the classroom.” Naru gave a thumbs-up. “See you later.”
Ami watched her as she walked out of the office. As soon as Naru was out of sight, she gave a moan and beat her head into her hands.
I am so foolish. Ami rubbed her face. I really believed they’d remember Darkury. I’m getting so worked up over nothing. It’s nothing, Ami. It’s no-
Ami’s head sprang up at the sound, only to catch the last glimmer of light from the ceiling as the power flickered out.
Ami stood up, almost tripping over herself in the darkness. She shut her eyes for several seconds, then opened them again, in an attempt to adjust her eyes to the new darkness. Under her, she could feel the rumble of the back-up generators.
….Good. Ami began to take in a breath of relief. Just a little power outage, that’s all…
Ami closed her eyes, then opened them once more, expecting the lights to come on. Nothing happened. On the other hand, the rumbled from below seemed to be getting louder, and the ground felt like it was shaking.
Ami’s head snapped up at the sound. There was no mistaking the sounds of screaming students. It echoed from the hall, coming down into the office, coming through like an unrelenting, screeching crescendo of warped hawk calls.
Ami bolted out of the office, almost falling to her knees as she did. She looked up at the dark hall, her eyes widened as the sound of screaming kids became louder. She didn’t even know where to start, for the sounds seemed to be everywhere.
The screams…. Ami covered her ears. They began to pound into her relentlessly. No……the students…..!
Then, all at once, it was silent. Slowly, Ami looked up, and uncovered her ears. The hall seemed darker than ever, and no sound came from any of the classrooms.
Her hello was given a reply with an echo of hellos, each that repeated itself more and more faintly, until the sound was gone. Her heart began to pound when she received no other reply.
“Hello?!?!” she screamed. “Hello?!?!?!?!? HELLO?!!”
There was still no reply. Panicking, she rushed into the first classroom. There was no one there. In the next classroom, no one. In the next classroom, nobody.
And in her classroom, there was nobody, and there was no Usagi. All that was left were darkened classrooms, with no power, and no light.
God, no.... Ami’s eyes widened. Usagi…..the students……gone……..an enemy!
Suddenly, a new noise startled her. It was a beeping noise which, in harmony, was that of “C’est La Vie”. She looked over at her schoolbag.
….My cell phone…
As quick as she could, she attempted to search out the cell phone in her bag. It lay there, in between her biology and history books, beeping and chiming merrily. As fast as she could, Ami snapped open the receiver and pressed the send button.
“H-hello?!” she stammered. “Who is it?”
Ami’s heart froze as the voice finally came into her ear. It was the voice of a man who, more than ever, struck her heart with fear. She never thought, or perhaps never let it be known, that she was still haunted by the thoughts of her turning away from her friends. The man, he who spoke to her now, was a symbol of what she had done.
“Well, well, well.” The darkness of the classroom seemed more menacing
to Ami as the voice began again. “You sound quite upset. I certainly must
have picked a bad time to call, didn’t I?”
“….K……” Ami almost dropped the phone in shock. “Kunzite.”
“You thought it was so easy to leave the dark, Mercury.” A chuckle. “I think I will show you otherwise.”
“What….” Her voice shook. “Wh-what have you done with the other students?!”
“In good time, Mercury.” Ami shut her eyes tightly at this. “The students are, at the moment, unharmed. And they will continue to be unharmed as long as you obey my instructions, which I shall give presently.”
“Obey, and they will not be harmed.” The voice repeated itself, only it was harsher."Are there any misunderstandings about this?”
No…. Ami’s mind raced. No. No. No. No. No. Please, no. Let this be a dream….
“Now that we are clear who is in control,” The voice came back
after a pause, “Let us begin the tasks which you will have to perform
in order to insure the sparing of lives. You will leave the school as soon as
this phone call is finished, and you will head to Hikawa Shrine by foot. There,
you will be met by your friend, Sailor Mars, and you will tell her what has
happened to the school. You will then make plans to go to Sakura Square, and
you will go there tonight, at six o’clock.”
“Sakura Square?” Ami gasped. “But…..but that’s in Yokoha-“
“You will make plans to go to Sakura Square at six o’clock.” The voice cut her off. “Further instructions will be given upon the completion of the assignment. You will also obey my instructions to the letter, otherwise, consequences will be rendered. Do you understand?”
“Do not think that I will hesitate to kill any of your classmates if you deviate from these instructions in any way; I will be watching. And you know it would be fruitless to commit outside interference, so do not attempt to call the authorities.”
Ami’s shoulders slumped. She knew how much choice she had in the situation. A small tear came from her eye at the realization.
“Remember.” Kunzite’s voice echoed through her ears. “Hikawa Shrine. Sailor Mars. Sakura Square at six o’clock. By foot. Or else.”
Then came the click, and Ami flopped to the floor, covering her face with her hands.