Title: More than Lace and Ribbons

Author: LLE

Pairing: Ami/Makoto

Rating: K+ (PG)

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon and all it's characters belong to Naoko Takeuchi. No profit made, no copyright infringement intended. You know the drill.

Ami took a sip of her lukewarm tea and silently set the small cup down on table in front of her. She rested the thick book in her lap and shot a worried glance at the sleeping figure on the couch. To say that Makoto had been acting odd lately would be an understatement. Ami drummed her fingers against the arm of the chair, reviewing her friend's strange behaviour for what seemed like the millionth time as her gaze darted aimlessly around Makoto's apartment.

For some time now, Ami had noted the steadily worsening state of her tall friend's mood. What had started as rare, small frowns had evolved into long moments of introspective silence, always accompanied by a look of such utter despair that no one could help but notice. When confronted with it, however, Makoto had gently, but firmly waved off the concerned questions. Even the ones from Ami.

Or rather; especially the ones from me.

Ami frowned.

Avoidance was a form of communication Ami was painfully familiar with. As a child, her intellect made her different enough for other children to shun her most of the time. Even the few that had approached her had given up; the strange girl with the blue hair never had time to play or visit anyway. And so, Ami had lived her life with only her books for company until Sailor Mercury had been awakened.

Ami rested her forehead in one hand and squeezed her eyes shut. Now it seemed the cycle was repeating. Makoto was acting exactly like the other children had when Ami was younger. She was always polite, but had begun avoiding situations that would put her and the shorter girl alone together. During their group meetings at the Hikawa Shrine, Makoto always sat as far from Ami as she could without leaving the room, and absolutely refused to look her in the eyes when she had to talk to her. If it hadn't been for the brunette's approaching English exam, Ami knew that Makoto wouldn't have asked her over tonight.

Far worse than that, Makoto had become more ferocious, almost careless, when fighting.  She would beat the youma to a pulp with her hands alone before finishing them off, and do such a thorough job of it that even Rei, who hated the beasts with a passion, would feel sorry for them. Tonight, the green eyes had taken on a frightening glow as Jupiter used one of the youma as her personal punching bag, obviously using the fight to vent some of the anger caused by whatever it was that bothered her.

Of course, said youma hadn't been too keen on simply taking the punishment that the Thunder Senshi was dishing out ad libitum. It had fought back as madly as Jupiter, which had led to the rest of the Inner Senshi half-carrying a bruised, bleeding and barely conscious Makoto back to her apartment. Ami had checked her friend, carefully not looking at the eyes that, when open, looked at everything but her, and then sent her friends home with a promise that Makoto's injuries didn't require a visit to the hospital, and that she would stay the night to keep an eye on the brunette, just in case. With the aid of Senshi healing, Makoto would be fine in the morning; at least physically.

So here she was, in an apartment that now felt cold and strange instead of warm and welcoming, with a book she couldn't focus on and a dear friend who didn't want her there, and the only explanation Ami could come up with was that she’d somehow revealed how she felt about her friend. Ami swallowed and forced back tears. She should have been more careful around Makoto; should have done a better job of hiding her pointless... No. Ami pushed those thoughts from her mind and stood, quietly walking over to the couch and tucking the soft blanket in around her sleeping friend.

"I'm sorry, Mako-chan," she whispered. "I never meant to feel this way about you. I'm sorry I couldn't hide it better and keep you safe. If I had, at least you'd still be my friend." She reached out to brush a stray lock of hair out of her friend's face, but stopped herself before she actually touched the brunette, and withdrew her hand with a sigh. She remained standing by the couch, torn between her desire to help and take care of Makoto and her need to run from the pain of having her feelings so clearly rejected before she had even dared voice them.

"Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love," Ami quoted despondently, feeling her breath hitch as she gazed at Makoto through blurry eyes. Her heart was clamouring for an outlet, and would not be denied this time.

Covering her mouth with one hand to stifle the choked sobs that continued to escape her, Ami quickly turned away from the couch and made her way to Makoto's bathroom, locking the door behind her.


The apartment was quiet, Makoto fuzzily realised as she nudged herself towards waking. Too quiet. She could clearly recall Ami quietly dressing her wounds earlier, and had heard the shorter girl tell their friends that she would stay the night. Makoto kept her eyes closed and listened intently. If Ami was with her, she knew she would hear either the low, static whine of a muted television or the soft whisper of pages being turned, but there was only silence.

Maybe Ami had left. Makoto felt a weight settle over her chest. With the way you’ve been acting lately, who can blame her? Serves you right, baka. Makoto stifled the thought with a small sound of irritation. She was fully aware that she had been treating Ami unfairly and didn’t need to be reminded of it.

Ami had to have noticed that Makoto was pulling away from her. The shorter girl had always been sensitive and remarkably attuned to the emotions of the people around her; Makoto’s especially. She could never hide anything from Ami, no matter how hard she tried. This, however, she was bound and determined to keep to herself, lest she completely lose connection with the blue-haired genius. If that meant denying herself Ami’s friendship, then that was just how it had to be. At least she would still be the girl’s fighting partner.

She knew that Ami wouldn’t be disgusted or angry with her. Genius that she was, Ami would have to be aware that you had as much hope of controlling your heart as you had of learning the contents of an entire encyclopaedia by merely looking at the covers. Ami would be sweet and sympathetic as always, and would without a doubt let Makoto down gently and remain her friend. Only, Makoto wouldn’t be able to take the sympathy in the blue eyes every time Ami would be near her. Better to keep the girl at arms length so she would never find out.

After all, there was absolutely no way Ami could ever return her feelings. Makoto’s life just didn’t work that way.

Makoto sighed and opened her eyes, staring sullenly at the hapless ceiling. Her stomach chose that moment to make itself known and growled, prompting an eye roll from its owner. It was to be expected, really. She had planned on eating after she had finished studying and Ami had left, but the sudden alert from Venus had effectively foiled that plan. Makoto rose from her comfortable nest, grimacing as her battle-weary body loudly objected the movement.

As she was halfway standing, Makoto paused in surprise and took in her surroundings. The lights were on, an open book lay face-down over the arm of a chair, and a half-empty cup of tea stood forlornly on the table across from the chair. Makoto frowned and rose to her full height, now fully alert. Ami wouldn’t leave a room without meticulously cleaning up after herself unless she had no choice. Something was wrong.

Makoto took her henshin pen, her hand closing around it in a vice-like grip as she cocked her head. Her senses sharpened as the possibility of a battle reared its ugly head, and Makoto caught the sound of a bare hand landing softly on a tile floor.

Tile floor?

Makoto blinked and sighed in relief, relaxing her stance and putting the henshin pen away. Ami was in the bathroom. Alone, obviously, or Makoto would have picked up more sounds. Still... She frowned in thought, realizing that Ami would have to be sitting for her hand to reach the floor.  Now worried that her friend was sick or wounded, Makoto quickly walked to the bathroom door and tapped the surface. ”Ami-chan?”

Ami froze at the knock and stared wide-eyed at the door. Her mind swirled, trying to come up with an idea. Makoto had to know that she was there since her things were still in the apartment, not to mention the fact that the door was locked.Think, baka; think! She softly cleared her throat and prayed that her voice wouldn’t be too hoarse from crying. “Y.. yes?”

Makoto frowned at the small crack in her friend’s voice. “Ami-chan, what’s wrong? Are you crying?”


Makoto’s eyebrows almost flew off of her forehead in astonishment. Never before had Ami outright lied in response to a direct question. “Ami-chan, please don’t lie to me. Tell me the truth.” Yeah, because you’re a shining example of t... She promptly stomped out that thought. “I know what you sound like when you’re upset. I’m your friend, remember?”

Ami screwed her eyes shut and hugged her knees close to her chest. “Are you?”

The brunette closed her eyes at the raw pain in Ami’s voice. Baka! She mentally kicked herself. You never once considered how Ami would interpret this, did you? She grabbed the doorknob and jiggled it, grunting in frustration when the damn thing wouldn’t open. Makoto rested her forehead against the door. “Yes, I am. I know I haven’t been acting like it lately, and I’m sorry.” She sighed and laid her palm against the wooden surface. “I’m so sorry, Ami-chan.”

“But why, Mako-chan?” Ami’s voice cracked as the tears started flowing again. “You’re my best friend, and you’re slipping away from me without even telling me why. What’s so terrible that you’ll willingly let it ruin our friendship before you give anyone a chance to help you with it?” She sniffled and wiped at her cheeks for the Nth time that night. “Does our friendship mean that little to you?”

“No!” Green eyes snapped open. “No, no, Ami-chan, please don’t think that. Our friendship means the world to me.” Makoto licked her lips and weighed her words carefully. “I just... I want something I can’t have, and it’s driving me crazy.”

Ami considered that and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mako-chan, but you’ll have to be more clear than that.  You’re pulling away from me, not from the others, so it has to have something to do with me.”

Makoto chewed her lower lip. There was really no way to answer that unless she wanted to lie to her friend. Instead, she jiggled the doorknob again. “Ami-chan, please open the door and come out.”

“You’re avoiding the question!”

Makoto sighed and rubbed a hand over her face, stepping back from the door and trying to order her thoughts. Giving up something she cherished more than anything was fine. She could live without it and would do so willingly, unless it hurt Ami. She leaned back against the wall and slowly slid to the floor, regarding the door across the hall pensively. But that’s exactly what’s I’m doing now, isn’t it?

“You’re right.” She shook her head. “I can never get anything past you, Ami-chan. I don’t know why I even bother trying.” Playing it safe wouldn’t work anymore; not when it affected Ami this way, so Makoto took a deep, shaky breath and stepped into the unknown. “I... care about you very much, Ami-chan. But I’ve been lying to you. I‘ve pretended to be your friend, but... “ Green eyes shut tightly, still failing to hold in the tear that slowly made it’s way down Makoto’s cheek. “Oh, kami, I want to be so much more than that to you, Ami-chan.”

Ami’s head shot up, and she stared at the door in shock. “Mako-chan?”

“I want to be everything to you.” Makoto explained, feeling her breath hitch. “I want to hold you and chase all the bad things away. I want to be there when you come home and sleep with you in my arms. I want to protect you and send a thousand Oak Evolutions on anyone who even thinks about hurting you.” She sniffled and laughed without humour. “And look at what I’m doing to you now. I claim to love you and yet I’m the one who hurts you the most. I avoid you, push you away and make you cry. All because of something you can’t even help.”

Shakily, Ami rose to her feet and unlocked the door. She stepped out of the bathroom and looked at her friend, who was curled into the tiniest possible ball on the hallway floor; her knees drawn tight against her chest and her head buried in her arms. As Ami knelt on the floor beside her and placed a gentle hand on Makoto’s shoulder, she was startled to feel that the warm body fairly sang with tension.

She’s scared! Ami realized with a start. Makoto, tall, strong and feisty Makoto, who was never scared of anything, was absolutely petrified of how mousy little Ami would react to her confession. The final pieces fell into place, and Ami didn’t even try to stop the smile that spread across her face.

“Mako-chan?” The voice was soft and warm, and Makoto raised her head and met the sparkling blue gaze. “Tell me.”

Makoto swallowed and hesitated, searching Ami’s face. “I love you.”

“Oh, Mako-chan,” Ami breathed, cupping Makoto’s face and gently wiping away the tears with her thumbs. “I love you, too.”


“I would have been perfectly alright sleeping on the couch, Mako-chan.”

“That may be so, but we didn’t put ourselves through all this misery for you to sleep out there.” Makoto smiled and relaxed, feeling Ami’s back move lightly against her own chest with every breath the girl took. “Besides, I wouldn’t have been alright with you sleeping out there, and relationships are all about compromises.” She laid one arm over the smaller girl’s midsection and threaded her fingers with Ami’s.

Ami laughed softly. “Love, a compromise would have been the both of us sleeping on the hallway floor.” She raised the hand in her own to her lips and kissed it lightly. “I really don’t think that would have been a wise choice. People who claim that sleeping on the floor is good for your back are nuts.”

“Peanuts or walnuts?” Makoto asked seriously, smiling as Ami laughed again.

Ami snuggled closer against Makoto, sighing contentedly as the brunette’s hold on her tightened slightly. “Will you promise me something?”

“Anything, love.”

“You don’t even know what it is yet,” Ami protested.

“That is completely and utterly irrelevant.” Makoto squeezed the smaller girl’s hand gently. “Anything.”

“Next time we need to talk about something, we talk. Preferably before one or both of us end up in a shivering mass of tears on any floor.”

Makoto smiled and kissed the back of her love’s neck. “Deal.”



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