Definitions of Longing and Desire

By Crawlspace and Sailor Doc



~ Monday Morning ~

~ May 12th ~


            Makoto hummed softly as she paced slowly back and forth in front of the open balcony doors.  Miki rested against her shoulder, quiet now that his belly was full and his diaper dry.  She patted his back lightly as they walked, and he hiccupped one more time before completely drifting off to sleep.  Makoto continued to pace with him for a few more minutes, enjoying the peace and warm weight of him as a gentle breeze blew in through the screen.


            Releasing a huge yawn, Makoto stopped moving and chuckled softly.  “I think I might need a nap, too,” she whispered.  “The rest of the laundry can wait until another day, don’t you think, Little Bug?”


            After getting the baby settled in his bassinette, she pulled him over closer to the couch and stretched out herself.  Pulling one of the throw pillows against her, she stared up at the ceiling.  They’d brought the baby home for the first time last Thursday.  The first day had been easy, with everyone there, and they’d survived the next three on their own more or less intact, with a routine beginning to emerge from the early chaos.  Today, though, was the real test for all three of them:  Ami’s first day back at school.


            Makoto turned over onto her side, still hugging the pillow.  She reached into the bassinette until her finger brushed against Miki’s hand.  His tiny fist flexed, then closed around his mother’s finger.  Makoto smiled.


            “We can handle a few hours on our own,” she said softly.  “I still miss Ami, though, and I bet she misses us, too.”  Sleepy eyes blinked slowly, then focused on Ami’s desk.  She stared at the little, top right drawer for a few seconds, then answered her own internal questions.  “I shouldn’t.  I mean, she keeps it hidden in there for a reason.  It’s not my fault she left it laying on the nightstand that one morning, and I just happened to read it while she was gone.  Besides, I’m the one who bought her the book to begin with.  And it’s not like it’s a diary or anything really personal.”


            That small debate decided, Makoto carefully removed her finger from Miki’s grip and moved over to the desk.  She stood in front of it for a moment, her hand poised over the drawer handle.  Then she sighed and her arm dropped to her side, her conscience and the image of Ami’s trusting face getting the better of her.  Going back to the couch empty handed, she lay back down and reclaimed her pillow.  This time, when her eyes closed, they didn’t open again.  Instead, her mind wandered back to the book with the butterfly and her favorite story involving a girl with blue eyes behind wire rimmed glasses and the person she wanted most.


---   ---   ---   ---



            The cold autumn rain fell intermittently against the windowpanes, sunlight playing hide and seek behind the clouds.  From the kitchen, she could hear the younger boys playing down the hall.  The weather had forced them indoors, and their natural rambunctiousness was beginning to take its toll on the living room.  Makoto finished cutting the sandwiches in half, then wiped her hands on her apron before pouring a glass of milk to go with each one.  At least this would calm them down for a little while.


            What had originally been a job to help her get through the summer had turned into a place for her to wait out the winter, and then to pass away a rainy spring.  Now, she’d lost count of the number of meals she’d served and sheets she’d washed as her days passed in this house.  It was still her job, but as another chilly fall wore on, it had become something more than just earning a living and keeping a roof over her head.


            The last of the sandwiches was placed on a tray beside a delicate looking china teacup.  A small teapot decorated with tiny pink roses was added next, then an apple cut into wedges.  Makoto untied her flour-dusted apron and hung it on a peg before calling the children to come and eat.  Three boys raced in, followed by a small girl with a mop of brown curls tied up in a blue bow.  She sat them down and told them to behave before lifting the tray and starting for the stairs.


            Midway down the hall on the top floor of the house, she stopped at the partially open doorway of the bedroom she was seeking.  Inside, she could see the room’s occupant sitting by the window, her head bent to the book she held.  A ray of sunlight had escaped the clouds, and the bright colors of the stained glass butterfly in the window’s arch painted the white dress she wore.  Despite the pale afternoon light, an oil lamp sat on the small table beside her, its flame reflected in her glasses.  The dull wire-gray of the frames made the blue of her eyes stand out even more, Makoto thought.  Beautiful blue eyes that were seeing less and less as the days passed.


            A light knock on the door startled Ami, and she looked up from the book she’d been struggling to read.  When she saw who it was, her features relaxed into a smile.  “Is it lunchtime already?”


            Makoto smiled back at her as she entered the room.  “It is.  You always lose track of time too easily.”  She set the tray down on the table and extinguished the lamp.  “What’s distracting you today?”


            Ami placed a red ribbon between her pages and handed the book to Makoto.  “It’s one Father brought back from his trip last summer.  I kept meaning to get to it, but…” she said with a shrug.


            Makoto looked at the pages in front of her.  Black lines came together to form the language she spoke, but had never really learned to read.  Closing the book, she set it aside and reached for the teacup.  “You still have time.”


            “I could teach you.”


            Makoto chuckled, the sound a touch self-depreciating.  “I cook, and clean, and occasionally mend a torn shirt or sock.  I don’t need to be able to read to do those things.”


            Ami’s gaze turned to the window and she propped her chin on her hand.  “It’s the thing I’ll miss most, I think,” she said, her voice wistful without being truly sad.  Then a grin tugged at the corner of her mouth.  “Because I don’t need my eyes to see you.”


            Makoto’s hand reached forward and lightly grasped Ami’s chin.  She turned her head so she could look into her eyes.  “I love you,” she said softly.


            Ami smiled at her and stood.  Taking Makoto’s hand, she brought it up to her lips and kissed her fingers.  Then, still grinning, she began to maneuver her companion backwards, until her legs hit the bed.  Understanding the unspoken command, Makoto sat on the bed and waited as Ami moved quickly to close the door.


            “I’ll always be able to see you, even in the dark,” went on Ami slowly as she made her way back to the bed.  Her hands pushed Makoto further up on the bed, and she climbed up with her.  When Makoto laid back against the pillows, Ami straddled her waist and closed her eyes as her hands reached forward.  “Auburn hair that turns red when you stay out in the sun for a long time,” she continued, her fingers finding the loose ponytail and carefully undoing it.  Those fingers then traced in a feather touch over an ear and across a cheek.  “Green eyes, bright like the stems of the flowers you plant outside my window.  And painfully honest, always showing me what’s in your heart.  Your lips are soft and warm pink.”  She smiled wider as her finger ran along one of those lips.  “Warm.  Always warm.  And they taste like…”


            Here, she felt the need to remind herself of the sensation and was certain her companion wouldn’t mind in the least.  Their lips met and lingered, the kiss slowly deepening as the minutes passed.  Makoto’s hands began to move up her sides, undoing the silk sash around her waist and inching their way towards the dress’ fastenings on her back.


            Ami sighed in pleasure as she pulled back a bit, her intention to help.  She licked her lips, remembering suddenly what it was she’d been saying before becoming so distracted.  “Today you taste like apples and… cinnamon?  You made apple pie!  But you didn’t bring me any,” she said, quickly sitting up and squinting at her lunch tray to be sure she hadn’t missed anything.


            Makoto laughed at the sudden change in subject.  “That’s because,” she started, easily flipping them so Ami was beneath her.  She grinned at the high-pitched yelp Ami released and pinned the girl’s hands loosely over her head.  “Those pies go with dinner.  If I put a half eaten pie on the table, your mother will have ten kinds of fits at me, and you know it.”


            Ami’s eyes turned into soulful, round pools, and her bottom lip pooched out into a playful pout.


            “Oh, no,” answered Makoto with a shake of her head.  “That won’t work on me, young mistress.”


            “Well, if I can’t have pie, what can I have,” asked Ami cajolingly.


            Makoto grinned down at her.  “What is it you want?”


            A mischievous smile that very few ever got to see formed on Ami’s lips, and she removed one hand from Makoto’s grip.  Trailing her fingertips slowly along the side of Makoto’s neck and down over her chest, she allowed her hand to rest firmly on the warm curve of a breast.  Her voice low, she answered, “I want you.”


---   ---   ---   ---


            Makoto awoke with a start, sitting bolt upright on the couch.  Her breathing was hard and it felt like her heart was going to pound out of her chest.  After a few deep breaths, she fell back and once again stared up at the ceiling.  Releasing a long, somewhat frustrated sigh, she glanced over at the baby to make sure he was still sleeping, then reached onto the floor to pick up the pillow she’d dropped.


            Stretching out and curling her toes, she allowed the last of the pleasant, tingly warmth from the dream to flow over her.  “Yeah,” she said to no one in particular.  “I miss Ami.”



~ Tuesday Morning ~

~ May 13th ~


            "Oh, that feels so-o-o good," Makoto moaned as she fell back against the cool sheets of her bed and sighed in exhausted relief.  Miki had been through a bad night and as a result, so had his mom.  On top of that, she had been hard pressed to convince Ami to stay in bed when she had gotten up for the third time, but Makoto had insisted she stay.


            "You have school in the morning, and this is one of the reasons I don't, okay?" she had reasoned with her determined partner.  "Please, just try to get some sleep.  At least one of us should," she quipped.  "Let me see if I can get him to settle down again."


            Ami had reluctantly agreed, and Makoto had spent the rest of the night with their cranky son, who would only sleep for short intervals in her arms, and have a full blown fit if she tried to lay him back down.  She had rocked and paced, and she had talked and cooed to him for hours before finally, exhausted, he had fallen into a deep, peaceful sleep.


            Feeling equally exhausted, Makoto had headed to the bedroom, only to become aware of the sound of the shower running.  A glance at the clock had confirmed the hour, and Makoto had groaned at the revelation that it was already time for Ami to be getting ready for school.  Without pausing she turned and headed for the kitchen, where she automatically prepared Ami's breakfast and lunch, grateful for once that Ami was so fond of sandwiches.  With the lunch neatly packed and breakfast laid out and ready for her partner, Makoto had finally and gratefully been able to go back to bed.  Just as she could feel herself beginning to drift off though, she heard a slight sound in the room, and opened her eyes just in time to see Ami standing in front of the closet.  As her eyes began to close again, the last thing she saw was the dim light from the closet reflecting off Ami's shoulders as she dropped the robe she was wearing and, with a slight smile on her face, Makoto's thoughts became an odd mix of her dream from the day before and Ami's smooth, supple shoulders.


            Sometime later she felt the bed dip under a very familiar weight and opened her eyes to see Ami, now fully dressed in her school uniform, sitting next to her.


            "Hey," Ami whispered as her hand came to rest on Makoto's hip.  "I'm getting ready to leave, but I had to come and thank you for my breakfast and lunch first.  Really Mako-chan," Ami lightly scolded her as she lovingly stroked her brow, "I could have taken care of that!  You didn't have to go to all that trouble..."


            Makoto pressed a single finger against Ami's lips and smiled up at her.  "Yes, I did," she said with a sleepy grin.  "You're as much a part of my family as Miki, so since I was up taking care of him, I figured I might as well take care of you too."


            Ami couldn't have stopped the warm, happy grin that lit up her face if she had tried.  Reaching up, she took Makoto's hand and kissed her fingers.  "Well, thank you very much anyway," she said, "and just for the record, I love the way you take care of me."


            Charmed, Makoto smiled.  "I'm really glad you feel that way.  It makes it all feel worthwhile to hear you say it."


            "Well, I guess I'll have to say it more often," Ami said, her hand giving Makoto's a gentle squeeze.  "I'd better get going," she added, leaning in for what was supposed to be a quick 'goodbye' kiss. It wasn't.


            At the first touch of their lips, there had been a spark.  The kiss began to linger as both of them started to savor the contact, and all thought of time and schedules was forgotten.  Makoto's lips parted and Ami eagerly accepted her silent invitation to deepen the kiss.  As Makoto brought her hands up to caress Ami's back and pull her closer, she felt Ami's fingers plunge into her hair as the smaller woman sank into her, relishing the contact.  Makoto could feel herself falling into a warm, sensual haze as Ami's mouth began a heated journey from her lips, to the lobe of her ear, and down the side of her neck.


            "Oh, Ami..." Makoto breathed, her voice a bare whisper.  But it was enough.


            Ami sat up like she had been stung.  Her eyes, the pupils still dilated with desire, were wide and confused as she looked down at Makoto.  "I... I... I have to go," she stammered, and before Makoto could gather her scattered wits, Ami was gone.  Makoto lay there stunned for all of five seconds before she propelled herself toward the door.


            "Ami!  Ami, wait!  Please!" she called as she bolted into the living room, only to stop when she saw Ami standing at the front door, her hand poised on the doorknob.


            The silence was deafening as Makoto walked up to her partner.  Finally Ami spoke, her eyes still locked on the floor.


            "I'm sorry," she said, her voice low.  "I don't know what came over me."


            "It's all right Ami, really," Makoto began.  "I'm as much to blame as you are."


            "No.  No, you're not," Ami said, finally raising her eyes to Makoto's.  "You were really only half awake, and I just took advantage of that.  I'm so sorry, love!" she said as her eyes begged forgiveness.  "We both know what Saatchi-san said, but I just..."


            "Love me and want to be with me as much as I want to be with you?" Makoto asked with gentle, green eyes.  "Really, Ami.  I'm okay!  Maybe just a little frustrated," she added with a rueful grin as she stepped forward and took Ami's hands in hers,  "but, I'm sure no more so than you are, too."


            Makoto noted Ami's hesitant smile with relief as she continued. "Look, it's true. I do miss being able to make love with you, but we can handle this! It may be a little tough at times, but we've both been through far worse. It's only six weeks, just to give my body time to recover a little," she continued. "Surely we can handle six weeks?"


            "Five," Ami said, as she gently chaffed Makoto's fingers.


            "Keeping close track of that, I see," Makoto replied.


            "I've missed being with you, too," Ami answered earnestly, her stormy, blue eyes silent witnesses to the truth of her words.


            Wordlessly, they stepped into each others arms, each taking comfort from the others warmth and nearness.


            "I love you," Ami said as she held the taller girl close to her.


            "I love you, too," Makoto answered, tightening her own hold as well.


            Finally, after several moments, they both began feeling calmer and much more grounded, and as they slowly pulled back from each other, they smiled.  "Would it be terribly selfish and insensitive for me to admit just how wonderful it felt to be in your arms again, even if it was only for a few minutes?" Ami shyly asked, still loosely held in the protective warmth of those self-same arms.


            "Of course not," Makoto answered gently. "In all honesty, I'd be rather hurt or even worried if I felt you didn't want to be with me anymore."  With a playful grin she added, "At least this way I know for sure you still want me, and don't think I'm some unattractive old housefrau or something!"


            With a convulsive hug Ami burrowed back into Makoto's warmth. "Oh, I think I can safely assure you that is not what I think, or what being near you makes me feel."


            "Really?" Makoto asked hopefully, her voice a just a touch playful.  "So, just what is it you do feel when you're with me?" 


            "Mako-chan!" Ami said in amused exasperation.  "You know perfectly well what being with you does to me!"


            "Well, you know," Makoto said, her voice gentle yet suddenly serious, "it is true that Saatchi-san said I couldn't have sex for awhile, but he never said you couldn't."


            Makoto's last sentence seemed to echo in the dead silence that followed it as they both took in its implications.  Finally, Ami's thoughtful voice broke the quiet of the moment.  "Once upon a time, I had a dream,” she began.  "A hopeless dream that I kept all to myself.  I locked it away in my heart, and there it lived for several years, quietly taking root in the deepest part of who I was. Though I was alone, I could take that dream out and hold it close to me whenever things seemed especially hard, and though I never believed it could come true, it was my dearest, fondest hope and wish.  Then, one day when I least expected it, you said 'I love you'.  With that one simple declaration I discovered that as silly as it may sound, dreams, even the most unrealistic, really can come true.  Even more than that, I discovered that reality was so much more wonderful than the dream ever was."


            "Ami," Makoto, whispered, overwhelmed by her partners heart-felt confession. 


            "But," Ami continued, "as wonderful as all this is, it now presents a problem.”


            "A problem?"


            "Yes.  You see, now that I have discovered perfection, I will never be able to be satisfied with anything less."


            Blushing lightly at Ami's confessions, Makoto said, "Ami really, I'm deeply flattered!  But, I can't help feeling like maybe you don't think that I'll be able to please you or something, and...”


            "Silly Mako-chan," Ami said with a smile and a serious shake of her head. "Trust me, that is not the problem.  The problem is, now that I have my dream, it has become my reality, and I just cannot accept anything less than that.  Anything else would just not be the same.  This is not some selfish desire that seeks only self gratification.  If you can't experience the same joy that I feel in expressing my love for you, then I will not accept second best.  I can't.  Not for myself, but especially not for you.  Can you understand that?"




            "No 'buts'," Ami insisted firmly.  "We have agreed to share our lives with each other.  Always, and in all things. That means both the good and the bad."


            "For richer, for poorer?" Makoto asked wistfully.


            "In sickness and in health," Ami insisted, holding Makoto tightly.


            "To love and to cherish," Makoto whispered against Ami's ear.


            'Till death do us part," they said, completing the vow together, and feeling its comforting weight settle around them like a warm cloak.


            "You need to go," Makoto finally said reluctantly, her arms still firmly around her partner.


            "I know," Ami replied, with no attempt whatsoever to move.


            "Are you okay now?" Makoto asked, gently rocking them back and forth.


            Ami's smile was hesitant, but genuine. "Yes, I think I'm much better now. You're right, of course. This is a minor annoyance that we will just have to deal with for a while, but we'll be okay."


            "That's what I wanted to hear," Makoto replied. "Now, you need to get out of here. You're going to be late if you don't."


            "And you should to get back to bed. You need some sleep, and you'd better get it while 'you-know-who' is sleeping," Ami scolded.


            "Yes, ma'am!" Makoto said with a laugh, then leaned in and kissed Ami on the cheek as her partner reciprocated. "See ya later."


            "Okay," Ami answered as she headed out the door with a smile. "Bye!"


            Standing alone in quiet of the living room, Makoto wrapped her arms around her suddenly chilled frame, and felt the return of her earlier exhaustion. 'Oh Ami', she thought to herself as she turned toward the bedroom and some much needed sleep. 'Love, I know Saatchi-san said it wouldn't be unusual for me to have these feelings. That it was normal and all that, but... I just really hope you don't have to suffer too much because of it too.'



~ Tuesday Night ~

~ May 13th ~


            The day had gone by too slowly for her, but now that Ami was home, it all seemed to be going by too quickly.  With dinner over and the dishes sitting in the sink until one of them had the chance or felt the urge to wash them, she and Makoto had headed for the tasks they each wanted to finish before the night was gone.


            On the floor with a blanket beneath her, Ami had her textbooks and notes spread out on both sides of her.  In the V formed by her legs, Miki lay in front of her, his bright blue eyes wide as he tried to focus on the one speaking to him.


            Ami smiled down at the baby and ran a finger over his yellow t-shirt, recreating the diagram from her book.  She stopped over his heart and drew one of her own.  “And that’s how it all works,” she finished, then giggled as Miki stretched and burbled in a way that indicated he was getting bored with her Anatomy & Physiology homework.  She took it to mean that, anyway, and closed her book before reaching to pick him up.  “Okay, we’re all done with that,” she said as she cradled him in her left arm.  “What should we do next?  Modern classics of Japanese literature, or pre-Reconstruction politics?”


            Miki blinked at her and stuck his fist in his mouth.


            “Modern Lit it is, then,” replied Ami with a nod.  She had just picked up her next book when she heard Makoto’s feet padding quickly across the carpet.


            “I’m kinda restless tonight,” said Makoto as she went searching around for the laundry room key she’d had not 20 minutes ago.  “Do you mind if I go for a run after I throw the clothes in the dryer?”


            “I don’t mind,” answered Ami as she tried to maneuver herself and everything she was holding around so she could see Makoto over the couch.  “We’ll be okay by ourselves, but…”


            As she was speaking, Makoto came around into her view, and the sight of her stopped Ami mid-thought.  Makoto had traded in her jeans for a pair of gray, cotton shorts that showed off her legs to great advantage.  Ami’s eyes lingered along the length of those legs before moving up over the tank top and cut-off t-shirt that made up the rest of her running attire.  Ami swallowed hard, her focus fixing on the faded logo that hung over the swell of Makoto’s breasts in a way it hadn’t nine months ago.  Then Makoto found the key she’d been looking for and tossed it in the air, the muscles in her nearly bare arm flexing as she caught it.  Ami almost whimpered as her perfect memory reminded her of the strength those arms held.  And of all the ways they’d held her.


            “But… what?” questioned Makoto, prompting Ami to continue what it was she had been saying.


            Ami shook her head slightly, hoping her cheeks didn’t look as warm as they felt.  “Um, I was just going to say that it’s only been a week.  Are you sure you’re ready for it?”


            Makoto smiled reassuringly at her.  “I can do it.  I don’t think I’ll get too far, but I have to start somewhere, right?  Besides, I need to burn off some restless energy.  It was that kind of an afternoon.”  She walked over and kissed the top of Miki’s head, then Ami’s cheek.  “I won’t be long.  You two have fun while I’m gone.”


            Ami nodded at her in response.  As the door closed, she sat back and let out a long breath.  It had been a long time since she’d seen this Makoto, and for the effect it was having on her, she might as well have been 14 again and standing completely lost in the middle of the arcade.  Shaking her head at herself, she let out a self-conscious laugh.  “Okay, Miki, slight change in plans.  I need a somewhat boring distraction at the moment, so we’re doing the government homework first.”


            Miki continued to suck on his fist, letting her know that as long as she kept holding him, he was perfectly okay with whatever she decided.



            The horizon was just beginning to turn pink when Makoto opened the apartment door.  She set down the laundry basket and wiped her arm across her sweaty bangs as she reached for the light switch.  When the lights came on, what she saw before her brought a smile to her lips.  Ami lay asleep on the couch, one hand dangling down over her dropped book and the baby curled up on her chest. 


            Walking quietly over to them, Makoto carefully lifted Miki and took him over to his bassinette.  Then she went back over and sat on the edge of the couch.  She let her fingers run gently through Ami’s hair, tucking the sides behind her ears and causing the girl to stir slightly.  She let the backs of her fingers trail over Ami’s cheeks, and a soft sigh passed through pale pink lips.  When those lips relaxed into a small ‘O,’ Makoto’s smile grew playful.  Bending her head slowly to Ami’s, she brushed her lips over hers, barely touching.  When the girl stirred a little more, Makoto put more pressure into the kiss.


            Ami responded instinctively to the familiar presence of her partner.  Her arms came up and slowly encircled Makoto’s frame.  Her lips parted to deepen the kiss as a warm hand inched passed the hem of her shirt and rested on her belly, the fingers lightly stroking her skin.


            After several minutes had passed, Makoto pulled back and Ami eased open her eyes.  A lazy grin spread across her face when she saw Makoto, her bangs damp and askew.  Her shirt seemed to be hugging her figure even more than before, sweat accenting her cleavage and testifying to the amount of effort she’d put into her workout. 


            Ami brought one hand around and began to trace the outline of Makoto’s lips as the hand under her shirt began a slow crawl upwards…



            Ami’s eyes popped open, her whole body flinching as she woke.  Miki, who had been asleep on her chest, began to cry at the disturbance and sudden unsteadiness beneath him.


            Recovering quickly, Ami brought the baby up higher on her shoulder as she sat up.  She cooed softly at him and gently rubbed his back.  It’s okay, Miki.  Ami-mama just had a… very realistic dream.”  She said quietly, then continued making soft sounds and rocking him until he began to settle down.


            She had just reached behind her to turn on a lamp when she heard the door start to open.  Her hand froze over the switch as a foot appeared, quickly followed by a laundry basket and the foot’s owner.


            Makoto came through the door and set down the laundry basket before flipping on the light switch.  She toed off her sneakers and ran her arm across her sweaty bangs as she asked, “Everything okay?”


            Ami hesitated for a moment, her mouth half open on a word.  Then her brain kicked in and she stuttered out, “Yes.  Yes, everything’s fine.  We fell asleep, though.  I guess that particular homework was more boring than I realized.”


            Makoto chuckled as she moved closer to them.  “I’m going to have to get to that at some point myself.”  She stroked a hand over the thin patch of hair on Miki’s head, then brought that hand up to Ami.  Smiling, she smoothed back an errant lock of blue and tucked it behind Ami’s ear.  Then “oophed” in surprise as Ami quickly handed the baby off to her and practically ran to the kitchen.


            “You know, I think I’ll get to those dishes now,” said Ami hurriedly to a confused looking Makoto.  Then she disappeared through the kitchen door to relative safety.  Once in there, she leaned against the wall and took several deep, calming breaths.  “Come on, Ami,” she said to herself.  “You aren’t a hormone driven teenager.  It’s just five more weeks.  You got through four years just fine, you can get through five more weeks.”


            Letting out a rather depressing sound, Ami headed over to the sink and turned on the water full force.  Something needed to be drowned in cold water tonight, and for right now, the dishes were going to have to do.




~ Thursday Night ~

~ May 15th ~


            Tonight’s dinner break study session with Minako had gone fairly well, thought Ami as she walked home from the bus stop.  The regular study groups were becoming fewer and farther between, and while she felt her friend could have used the time the old sessions afforded them, what they had accomplished left her with a sense of satisfaction.


            Opening the apartment door, Ami stopped short of announcing herself to the dark, empty room.  After turning on the lights, a quick survey found her not just the only one home, but also the note left by Makoto.




Took Bug over to Usagi’s for a bit.  Her mom wants to see him, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to people who answer back in words instead of drool.  I think I’ll get home before you do, but if not, I won’t be too much longer.  Love ya!





            Ami smiled at the note, a smile that quickly turned to a frown of disappointment.  But they would be home soon, so she might as well take advantage of the quiet time.  Sitting on the floor by the coffee table, she pulled her bag closer to her and took out what was left of her homework.  Her things were set up in what would be the most efficient formation, and her math book was opened in front her.  Pencil in hand, she concentrated on the numbers on the page, prepared to finish this chapter by the end of the night.


            She’d been staring at the same equation for all of 60 seconds when ‘thirsty’ suddenly popped into her thoughts.


            Licking her lips, Ami realized that, yes, she was actually rather thirsty.  Leaving her pencil in the middle of her book, she stood and headed for the kitchen.  One glass of water was quickly downed as she stood by the sink.  Another was brought back into the living room and set carefully to the side of her study materials.


            Again, she picked up her pencil.  Her mind was halfway to a solution when she absently reached up to scratch at her shoulder.  Then around to pull on the tag on her collar.  Then back down to her other shoulder and just a fraction lower than before.  She had pulled at her blouse, itched at her arm, and shifted her skirt for almost five minutes before fully noticing just how uncomfortable her uniform was.  And that she was still only halfway through the first problem.


            With a sigh, Ami used the eraser on the end of her pencil to reach the itch on her shoulder blade, then dropped it back to her book and stood.  This time her destination was the bedroom, her intention to find more comfortable clothes.


            It only took a few minutes to change into a t-shirt and jeans.  Back in the living room afterward, she sat on the edge of the couch and pulled her things to her.  Moving back and around, she jammed a pillow between her back and the couch arm, then brought her knees up to rest her notebook on and laid her textbook out in front of her feet.  Trying to refocus on her writing, she forced her mind back to the problem at hand.


            By the time she finished the first equation, Ami had slid down and was lying with her notebook held above her and her textbook under her knees.  Needing the book to continue, she reached down and awkwardly snagged the edge of a page.  On the first pull, her fingers slipped off the paper with a squeak.  On the second, the corner of the page she was gripping ripped off, leaving her with a now displaced page number between her fingers.  Almost glaring at the book, she sat up before trying again.


            Sitting in loose Indian style with the text still under her legs, Ami stared down at the page and copied the next problem.  Then the book was gathered up and dropped at the other end of the couch with her notebook as she stretched out on her stomach.


            Unfortunately, her jeans didn’t quite stretch with her.


            Frowning in slight discomfort, she rolled to her side and awkwardly tugged at one leg, then rolled onto her left side to tug at the other.  Still uncomfortable, she rolled back to her right to reposition the metal button that was stabbing her in the abdomen, then turned back to the left again to pull at the shirt that was bunching up around her chest.  A few good tugs and the shirt was at least halfway to where it should be.  Ready to start again, Ami grabbed a pillow to prop her chin on before once again reaching for her pencil.


            She’d barely written three numbers down when the pinching itch on her back became too much to ignore.  Grimacing into the pillow, she reached back behind her with one hand to scratch at the spot.  As she did, her fingers passed over the unfastened bra hook that was causing the problem.  Another sigh, her most annoyed up to this point, and she unhooked her bra the rest of the way before turning onto her back.  A little more maneuvering, and she pulled the offending garment through her shirt sleeve and gripped it in her fist as she stared up at the ceiling.


            ‘I should have just changed into my pajamas to begin with,’ she thought.  Then she sat up, stared forward for a moment, and stood.  As an afterthought, she picked up her glass and finished off the rest of her water before going back to the bedroom.


            In the bedroom, she took the sky blue shorts and tank top from where they were folded neatly beneath her pillow.  In short order, she was out of her jeans and into her pj’s, one dark blue strap falling down her shoulder as she hung up her t-shirt.  Ami absently pushed it back up as she moved over to the dresser to put away her jeans.  A small grin tugged at her lips when she saw the edge of gray material caught in one of the drawers.  She laid her jeans in her own drawer and closed it before reaching for Makoto’s.  Carefully, she pulled out the running shirt that had been peeking up over the drawer and let it fall to its full length.


            Her grin turned into a gentle smile as she looked at the shirt that provided a number of very pleasant Makoto moments in her memories.  The material was worn thin and soft for all its years of ownership.  The white Nike logo in its center had faded and cracked from the frequent washings it endured.  And it was still Makoto’s favorite shirt.  For a moment, Ami held it to her and breathed deeply, the scent of her partner in the shirt’s material comforting.


            Letting the moment pass, Ami refolded the shirt slowly and replaced it in the drawer.  “Have fun,” she said quietly, “but hurry home soon.”


            Leaving the room, she stopped outside the bedroom door.  She paused for a moment, then shrugged.  “So I don’t have to get up again,” she said out loud before turning towards the bathroom.


            Back in the hallway a few minutes later, she was almost back in the living room when she stopped again.  She chewed slowly on her bottom lip as she contemplated what she was about to do.  It was a silly thing, really.  Completely pointless.  But…


            She looked over her shoulder guiltily, as if she expected someone to be there shaking their head in disapproval.  Then she turned and hurried back to the bedroom.


            Makoto’s gray shirt was taken from its drawer and carried to the living room.  Ami rearranged her books so she could lie on the couch with them in front of her.  On her stomach, she pulled a pillow over to rest her head on, and then folded the shirt and placed it on top of the pillow.  Closing her eyes, she hugged the shirt and pillow tightly, still feeling a bit silly for it, but also too good to care.


            Completely wrapped up in the warm presence around her, Ami settled down to finish the last of her homework.  Hopefully, she thought, before Makoto and the baby got home.



~ Sunday Night ~

~ May 18th ~


            Makoto sat on the floor with her textbooks open on the coffee table in front of her.  A silent baby monitor sat beside her, its indicator light glowing a steady green.  With a bored sigh, she blew at the bangs on her forehead and rested her chin on her palm.  She knew she had gotten out of the habit of studying lately, and it was something she needed to get back to.  This fact had been very gently driven home by Hideo-sensei when she’d come by yesterday afternoon for their tutorial session.  Granted, the baby and all of the adjustments that came with him were a good excuse, and one she’d been given by the teacher.  But if Ami was able to keep up with all of it plus some, there was no way Makoto’s pride was going to let her fall behind with hers.


            At the thought of her very studious partner, the corners of Makoto’s mouth turned up into a grin, and she glanced over at Ami.  The girl was sitting at her desk, one hand working efficiently at her keyboard as the other held a pen poised over her notebook.  Her concentrated expression was reflected in the monitor over top of text and graphs and lines.


            The page on the screen began to scroll down, and Makoto watched in quiet fascination as the look on Ami’s face changed to one of mild confusion.  Time slowed to a crawl as Ami’s eyes narrowed behind her glasses, her eyelashes just brushing the lenses as they were pushed up higher.  Her bottom lip was pulled between her teeth as slender fingers tightened their grip on the pen they held.  Those fingers led the pen in even, gentle strokes across the paper as Ami chewed on her lip, her eyes never once leaving the screen.  There was a momentary pause, and her head tilted slightly.  As her concentration held, one perfect fingernail scratched lightly along the edge of her pen.


            Makoto swallowed hard. 


            She watched in slow motion as Ami raised the pen to her lips, releasing the one she’d been nibbling on and running the pen across it in an almost kiss.  Makoto’s mouth went dry and she nearly forgot to breath as a sexy little smile formed on Ami’s pale lips, the problem that had momentarily plagued her now solved.  Her fingers tapped out the answer onto the screen, and then she nodded to herself, confirming her solution.  That done, she laid down the pen and closed her eyes, sitting up a bit straighter in her chair.  Her head rolled carefully to one side, then the other, just before her hand came up and eased along the curve of her shoulder and neck.  As her hand began to knead slowly, her lips parted on a sigh overtop of a soft moan.  Her back arched as she stretched, and her toes curled into the carpet…


            Makoto slammed her hands down on the table with more force than she’d intended, startling both of them.  Standing, she announced quickly, “I’m going for a run.”


            Still working at the stiff muscle in her neck, Ami blinked at Makoto in surprise.  “Now?  But it’s dark out, and you went to the Sports Center this morning,” she said, stalling Makoto’s getaway.  “Don’t you think, perhaps, any more today would be overdoing it?”


            Makoto smiled at her, hoping to allay some of the concern she could hear.  “All I did at the Sports Center was reacquaint myself with the routine.  I swear I didn’t even break a sweat.  Besides, I feel pretty good, and Saatchi-san said I could get back into my old workout as soon as I was ready.”


            “He said you should ease back into it,” countered Ami, trying to balance her worries with logic and reason.  “He didn’t say you should attack it full force.”


            “The forces of evil wait for no Senshi,” responded Makoto, taking on a philosophical air.  Then she grinned ruefully and poked at her middle.  “And I refuse to transform into my Senshi fuku until I get rid of this.”


            Ami smiled back at her and rested her chin on the back of her chair.  “It doesn’t look bad at all, Mako-chan,” she said reassuringly.  “Regardless, though, you know our fukus change to accommodate us as needed.  Otherwise, we’d have all outgrown them by now.”


            “True enough,” laughed Makoto.  “But there’s more here than I want to accommodate at the moment.  Don’t worry about me with this, Ami.  I know my limits,” she went on as she started to backup towards the hallway.  “At the first twinge of discomfort, I’ll head straight home.  But I guarantee there won’t be any.”


            Ami thought for a moment, then nodded her head.  “Okay.  But I still think you’re overdoing it,” she called as Makoto hurried away.  When she was out of sight, Ami chuckled softly to herself and turned back to her project.


            A few minutes later, Makoto called from the bedroom, “Hey, Ami, have you seen my t-shirt?  The one with the swoosh on the front that I always run in?”


            Ami’s fingers froze over the keyboard.  “Um, yes,” she called back hesitantly.  A quick swallow, and she recovered with, “I pulled it out yesterday when I was looking for something.  I must have put it back in the wrong drawer.”


            “Gotcha!” came back Makoto’s reply, followed quickly by, “Found it!”


            Ami sighed in relief, then felt a bit silly for the whole thing.  Still, some habits were hard to break, regardless of the situation one found oneself in.  With that thought, she grinned, her cheeks turning just a touch pink.  Chuckling very softly to herself, she whispered, “Swoosh, swoosh.”



~ Tuesday Afternoon ~

~ May 20th ~


            Makoto lifted the baby from his crib and held him close to her, calming his fussy cries.  One little fist encircled her finger as she rocked him.  “Hey, now, it’s not that bad,” she said softly.


            Blue eyes blinked up at her, and Miki let out an unhappy gurgle as if to say, ‘Yes, it is.  Feed me now.’


            Makoto grinned at him.  “Okay, okay.  I know what you want.”  She started moving towards the rocking chair, but paused.  “You know what?  I have an idea.  How about you take a bottle from your Ami-mama this time?  She just got home from school, and it would make her really happy.”


            Taking his silence and the way he’d started sucking on her finger as good signs, Makoto headed for the bedroom where Ami was getting changed.


            Continuing to talk to the baby as she walked, Makoto went on, “Now, remember, it isn’t formula.  I promise it’s the exact same stuff you get from me, so don’t start crying this time when you see the bottle coming towards you.  Okay?”


            Believing sufficient instructions had been given, Makoto gave the partially open bedroom door a push and stepped into the room.  Chuckling lightly, she whispered down to Miki, “Well, Little Bug, it looks like you won’t have to endure a bottle feeding tonight, after all.”


            Ami hadn’t made it very far in her attempt to change out of her uniform.  One sock had landed on the floor.  The other looked like it had been tugged on, but its owner had only made it halfway before the yawns she’d been fighting all afternoon finally overtook her.  Now she lay on her side, happily snuggled up with Makoto’s pillow, her breathing even as she slept.


            Slowly, Makoto stepped over to the bed and eased down on its edge, careful not to disturb her sleeping partner.  For a moment, she just watched the gentle rise and fall of Ami’s side.  Then she reached down and, with a feather touch, caressed Ami’s cheek with the back of her fingers.


            The light touch caused Ami to stir just slightly.  She curled up even more on her side, hugging the pillow tighter as she did.  “Mako-chan,” passed from her lips in a barely audible sigh right before she buried her face in the softness of the pillow.


            Makoto smirked.  “Lucky pillow,” she mumbled, then stood and quietly left the room before the baby’s growing agitation could wake Ami.


            “Okay, Bug, it’s chow time now,” she said as they got back to the nursery.  “And after you get yours, you can come keep me company while I make mine and Ami’s.”


----   ----   ----   ----


            Letting out a long yawn as she walked through the living room, Ami tugged at her blouse trying to get things properly rearranged after her nap.  The scent of Makoto’s cooking drifted passed her again, and her stomach rumbled, hoping fervently that this was indeed their next meal.


            A warm smile greeted her as she entered the kitchen.  “Hey there, Sleepy.  Did you have a good rest?”


            “Yes, thank you,” answered Ami.  She took a seat at the breakfast counter beside Miki, who was taking his own after-dinner nap in his baby seat.  Then she lowered her head and rested her chin on her arms.  Smiling up at Makoto, she added, “Smells good.”


            “Thanks,” answered Makoto as she added one more thing to the large pot on the stove.  “We’ve got some time before it’s all done, if there’s anything you need to do.”


            Ami shook her head without lifting it.  “No.  I think I’ll just stay in here with you.”


            Makoto flashed her a grin, then went back to her work.  Ami watched as she began to hum softly, most likely without even realizing she was doing it.  Long fingers steadied the blade she held over the vegetables left on the cutting board.  Each stroke of the knife was steady and precise, the skill in those hands enough to make the best surgeons envious.


            Ami’s eyes closed partway, leaving her to happily observe through sleepy vision.  She watched the play of fair skin over fine bones as Makoto’s hands continued to move.  Without pause, the flat of the blade slid easily under the diced vegetables.  With the help of a hand, they were scooped up and dropped in the pot.


            That done, the knife was laid aside, and Makoto wiped her hands on the apron she had tied around her waist.  A lid was placed on the pot, then she looked around for a second, presumably to find her next task.


            The next task apparently involved the refrigerator, and Ami’s eyes followed her as she walked barefoot across the kitchen floor.  With Makoto’s back to her, one corner of Ami’s smile rose a touch higher as her partner bent slightly to reach the things she needed in the open refrigerator.  The jeans she wore hugged her hips more tightly than they used to, showing off more curve.  The tapered legs only served to enhance the natural length and perfection they enclosed.  For a moment, though, Ami wished she had worn shorts instead.


            Milk, eggs, and butter were pulled out and set on the counter by the cutting board.  Makoto grabbed a dishrag and used it to wipe off the board, then made a little “oops” sound as she realized the things she’d forgotten.  Moving over to the cabinets, she opened the one she needed and stretched up to reach the top shelf and the canister of flour it held.  Ami’s heart beat a bit faster as the t-shirt tucked into Makoto’s jeans stretched with her.  The muscles in her back and shoulders moved beneath the material as it pulled closer to her skin.  Biting lightly on her bottom lip, Ami wondered how normal it was to be jealous of a piece of clothing.


            That brief thought was pushed aside as Makoto emerged triumphant with her canister of flour.  The t-shirt settled back into place, and Ami watched in continued fascination as Makoto went on.


            The flour was set beside the other ingredients on the counter.  Before getting to them, however, Makoto turned back to the stove.  She turned down the temperature under the pot, then lifted the lid.  With a wooden spoon, she stirred the contents slowly, then brought it up to her lips.  Her eyes closed at the first small taste, the steam from the pot rising and covering her features with a hazy veil.  Ami sighed silently, feeling almost as hazy as the steam, and admired the simple pleasure on that beautiful face.


            The moment ended abruptly with a nod from Makoto.  She took two of the seasoning bottles from the rack on the wall and added enough to satisfy her before replacing the lid.


            Working from memory, flour was piled on the cutting board, a well formed into the center for the other ingredients to rest in.  The quiet humming picked up again as Makoto’s fingers worked gently at the mixture she’d created.  As the dough took on a more solid form, her hands applied more pressure, little by little, rolling and kneading it into shape.


            Ami sat up straight, blinking rapidly and trying to clear her brain as Makoto’s hands continued to massage the dough…


            Ami shook her head and quickly slid off the stool.  “I think I’ll go get changed before we eat,” she managed to get out with only the tiniest of cracks.


            “Okay,” answered Makoto to Ami’s retreating back.  She frowned for a moment, then shrugged and went back to her task.


            Back in the bedroom, Ami closed the door and sagged back against it.  She took a deep breath, acknowledged that she was losing her mind, then muttered, “Four weeks.  You can wait just four more weeks.  You are a rational individual who is not ruled by base instincts.  Besides, it’s not really all that long when you stop and think about it.”


            Which her mind promptly did.


            With a small whimper, she pushed away from the door and walked over to the dresser to get changed for dinner.



~ Thursday Afternoon ~

~ May 22nd ~


            "I tell you, something is just not right," Usagi was saying as she walked home from school with Rei and Minako.  Ami had cried off on their usual foursome for the walk home, claiming she needed to pick up a book from her mom's study, so Usagi, Rei and Minako had found themselves on their own.


            "What do you mean?" Minako asked.


            "The way she's been acting!  It's just not like Ami at all!"  Usagi answered, her tone worried.


            "Lighten up, Usagi," Rei said, casting a barely tolerant eye at her babbling Princess.  "They have a new baby in the house.  She's probably just not getting enough sleep. Once they establish a definite routine, I'm sure they will all adjust and Ami will be back to normal in no time."


            Usagi gave Rei a dubious look.  "I don't know Rei.  It seems to be more than just that to me."


            "Like what?"  Rei said.


            "Well, for one thing," Usagi said, "it's like she's not paying attention to stuff."


            "What do you mean?"


            "Like when I was telling you guys about my date with Mamo-chan last weekend!  I was talking all about how he took me out to eat at this really nice place, and then how we went to the park and just walked around the lake together in the moonlight, and how romantic it was.  It was a really nice date, and you guys seemed to think so too, but when I looked at Ami, it was like she hadn't heard a single word I said!  She was staring off into space like she was a thousand miles away!" Usagi pouted.


            "Maybe she was just tired," Rei put in.  "I mean, even if she doesn't have to actually get up and feed the baby herself, I'm sure she wakes up whenever Mako-chan does.  You know that has to be tiring."


            "Well, she's not eating right either," Usagi continued.  "Haven't you noticed that?  I mean, Mako-chan makes her all these really great bentos, and she hardly even touches them!"


            "No, what I've noticed is how you scarf them down so quick when she stops to take a breath that there wouldn't be any left even if she wanted more,"  Rei countered.


            "Rei, that's not true!" Usagi wailed.  "Besides that, you know she wouldn't want all that good food to go to waste!"


            "Usagi, having our food go to waste isn't something we really have ever had to worry about if you are within fifty yards of us while we're trying to eat."


            "I can't believe you said that, Rei!  It's so mean!  You make me sound like such a mooch!"


            "Like you're not?" Rei asked, one elegant black eyebrow arched over a skeptical eye.


            Voices rising, the conversation continued along the same line for a while longer, going back and forth between the two of them and really going nowhere, until suddenly they both noticed that something, or in this case someone, had been conspicuously missing from the conversation.  As one, Rei and Usagi turned to look at the blonde walking along with them, serenely ignoring their shenanigans, while gazing, seemingly at her ease, into shop windows along their way.


            With a quick look at Usagi, Rei cleared her throat and said, "Minako, you've been unusually quiet on the subject.  I know you've heard what Usagi and I were talking about, so tell us.  What do you think Ami's problem is?"


            "She's not getting any."


            "What?"  Usagi and Rei chorused, shocked by the rather blunt statement from the other girl. "You're crazy!"  Rei added when she regained her composure.


            Unfazed, Minako said, "If you didn't want my opinion, you shouldn't have asked for it."


            "Oh, come on, Minako," Rei started.


            "No, think about it you guys," Minako insisted, her eyes bright as she warmed to the subject. "I'm sure all of what you've said is part of it, but it's got to be more than that.  Much more!  Tired?  Okay, she's not getting enough sleep.  We've covered that.  No energy?  She's not eating right.  Ditto on the being covered bit.  So, how do you explain listless?  Distracted?  Depressed?"


            At their blank looks she continued.  "It's simple!  She's not getting any."


            "Um, Minako?" Usagi said hesitantly.  "I'm not so sure..."


            Rei, however, just snorted and shook her head in disbelief.  "Minako, that is just about the silliest thing I have ever heard you come up with!  How, in the name of the four winds, did you ever dream up that theory?"


            "It's simple really!  I mean, I am the Goddess of Love after all!  I just know these things. Or have you forgotten that already?" Minako asked, locking her blue eyes briefly on Rei's startled lavender ones.


            Finding herself only mildly irritated by the sudden and easy blush that swept across her features, Rei stammered, "No, no I haven't forgotten."  Usagi couldn't contain the giggles at that exchange earning her a glare from Rei, which she blithely ignored.  "But, anyway," Rei tried to continue with the original line of questioning, "how did you come up with this?"


            "It was an easy read actually," Minako said as she waved one hand nonchalantly in the air before her.  "I just did the math."


            "I'd feel better about that if I hadn’t seen your last math test," Rei commented.


            "Hey!  Do you want to hear this or not?" Minako asked, peeved at Rei's rather callous comment.  Even if it was true. 


            "Please, Rei!  I really want to hear what she has to say," Usagi said.


            "Oh, all right!" Rei gave up, throwing both hands in the air.  "Please, oh Mighty Aphrodite!  Enlighten us mere mortals with your matchless pearls of wisdom!"


            Minako giggled at Rei's antics.  "You're so cute when you're frustrated," she gushed, and linked her arm through Rei's.


            Rei glared at Minako, saying more than words ever could.


            "All right, all right," Minako capitulated.  "But only because you asked me so nicely," she said, batting her eyes at Rei.  Turning back to Usagi, she continued, "Anyway, I got to thinking, and I stared wondering when was the last time they were able to be intimate?  I mean, we have no way of knowing for sure, but I think it's pretty safe to guess it was at least a good month or two before Miki arrived.  I'm sure Makoto probably wasn't feeling up to it, and as worried and stressed as Ami was, I doubt very much she was either.  She had way too much other stuff on her mind to think about something like that, and Makoto and the baby had become the center of her universe!  But, underneath all that, the attraction was still there.  The desire?  That never went away.  They just both had to push their natural feelings and drives way down for awhile.  But, now that the baby is here and that pressure is off, all those feeling will start bubbling to the surface again.  It's only natural, after all, when two people are as in love as those two are.  Are you with me so far?"


            With blank looks, Usagi and Rei both nodded, which was all the encouragement Minako needed to continue.


            "So.  Here they are.  The pressure is off, and all that bottled up passion starts to come boiling out to the surface again, and wham!"


            "Wham?" Usagi asked.


            "Wham!" Minako repeated.  "The doctor tells them 'no sex' for x amount of time…"


            "Now, how do you know that?" interrupted Rei.  "Did you overhear Saatchi-san tell them that?"


            "No," Minako answered, "but I saw the same tape you did that night at the hospital.  Weren't you watching?  You can't tell me the female body can stretch like that without some serious recovery time needed!  I mean, come on you guys.  Miki is still a little guy, but he's not THAT little.  So anyway, now, through no fault of their own, they are going on three months with no sex what-so-ever!  No wonder Ami's out of it!"


            "Three months?" Usagi asked, her eyes bugging out of her head.


            "Three months," Minako confirmed, just to drive her point home.  Seeing a bit of lingering doubt in Rei's eyes, Minako continued.  "Just think about it a minute, Rei.  For years you have wanted this specific car.  Everyday you've looked at it and longed for the day when you could finally call it your own.  Then one day, just as you had pretty much given up hope of ever owning it, you discover it was yours all along!  Suddenly you are free to drive or ride in it anytime you want, as often and as long as you want.  It's a dream come true!   But, then, one day it has to go into the shop, and the mechanic tells you, 'It will be fine, but you can't take it out for a few weeks.'  There's really nothing you can do!  It's still yours, and you can look at it everyday, but you can't touch it, you can't drive it, you can't even turn it on..."


            "Okay Minako, I think we get the picture," Rei said dryly


            "Oh wow," Usagi said sadly.  "This is really horrible!  I can't imagine how hard this must be for them.  Isn't there anything we can do to help?" her compassionate blue eyes beseeched them.


            Placing an arm around Usagi's shoulders, Minako sadly shook her head.  "I'm afraid not Usagi.  The only cure for this is time, and, unfortunately, as much as we wish we could help, that's the one thing we can't give them.  No," she added, "this is one thing they'll have to tough out on their own."




~ Thursday Night/Friday Morning ~

~ May 22nd/23rd ~


            Ami looked up from the textbook on her desk and checked out the time displayed in the lower right hand corner of her desktop screen.




            With a low groan, she closed her weary eyes and slowly shook her head.  'This is getting to be a habit,' she thought to herself, 'and one I'm really not too particularly fond of.'


            Gazing around the darkened room, she was not at all surprised to see that the only light in the living room was coming from her desk lamp and computer monitor.  The apartment was totally quiet at this hour. Makoto had put Miki down several hours ago, and then, having finished all her evening tasks and what Ami knew was at the very least a five mile run, had showered and gone to bed.


            Ami found that she was missing her desperately.


            Shaking off that unwanted thought, Ami looked back down at her book, and blinking her eyes, tried to get them to focus once again on the words in front of her.


            But her thoughts began to stray.  Again.


            Before Makoto had gone to bed, she had come out to check on her.  Ami had never heard her as Makoto came up behind her, but she had been vividly conscious of her approach, almost as if she could sense her coming nearer.  She could actually feel her muscles begin to tighten slightly just before Makoto's hand had come to rest on her right shoulder.


            "How's it coming?"  Makoto had asked, her fingers gently kneading the muscles at the junction of Ami's neck and shoulder as she looked down at her with a tired smile.


            "It's coming,"  Ami had replied with an equally weary grin as she closed her eyes and allowed herself to enjoy the soothing sensation that came from Makoto's caring touch.


            "Do you think you'll be much longer?"  Makoto asked.  At Ami's hesitation Makoto had lifted her hand and began to softly comb her fingers through Ami's hair.  "Sweetheart, you were in school all day, the library after that, played with the baby all evening, and then began to study again at 8:00.  It's 10:30 now.  Don't you think you should come to bed?"


            "In a little while,” Ami had said, her eyes begging Makoto for understanding as the gentle fingers had continued to sooth her.


            Reluctantly, Makoto had finally said, "Okay," though Ami could clearly see the disappointment that she quickly tried to hide.  "Try not to be so late this time, okay?"


            Ami hadn't been able to stop the wave of guilt that had swept over her at that request.  "I'll try,” she’d said, quickly looking away from her partner.  She was clearly aware of the fact that they both knew she wasn't really telling the truth.  And why.


            "See you in a little bit then,” Makoto had said as she leaned forward over Ami's shoulder.  The fingers that had been stroking her hair moved forward and down against Ami's right cheek as Makoto gently pressed her lips to the left one.  Ami closed her eyes and inhaled slowly and deeply as Makoto's warm, firm lips lingered against her cool cheek.  The moment had seemed frozen in time to Ami, and it had felt as if her senses had sharpened even more than before.  She was aware of Makoto's scent, the clean, fresh smell of her skin and hair from her recent shower, her hair still slightly damp.  She could feel Makoto's body heat as she stood close up behind her, warming her down to her toes.


            Makoto broke the kiss, only to lean back in for another quick peck before pulling back to gaze deeply into Ami's eyes from close range, the back of her fingers lightly stroking her cheek.


            "Goodnight,” she’d whispered, and with a slight, sad smile, she'd straightened up and left the room as Ami watched her, mesmerized.


            Coming back to the present, Ami's eyes refocused on her textbook, but she really couldn't have cared less.


            "Three weeks and five days.  It's only three weeks and five days!  I can do this.  I WILL do this,” she told herself, and chuckled at what was starting to sound like her new mantra.


            It truly amazed as well as frustrated her when she thought about the situation in which she found herself.  All of her research on the subject at hand had led her to the understanding that right after a woman gives birth, the drastic changes in her hormone levels often give rise to a marked increase in her libido.  As a result of this, combined with the dreaded ‘six week rule’ demanding abstinence from sex, Ami was fully prepared for a certain amount of testy-ness and frustration on her lover’s part.


            What she hadn't expected was that she would have it just as bad.


            If not worse.


            She sighed.  Deeply.


            Finding herself totally disinterested in continuing her studies, and feeling the need to get up and move around a bit, Ami rose from the desk and moved quietly down the hall to check on Miki.  In the dim glow from the little cow night-light, she eased over to the side of his crib and smiled.  He looked so sweet and peaceful, a little tuft of his reddish-brown hair just visible under the edge of his tiny sleep cap.  Reaching forward with a finger, Ami gently caressed a stray lock and mused about how similar it was to Makoto's.  Grinning, she whispered in a conspiratorial tone, "Bet your hair will be just as wavy as hers is, too.  What are we going to do with you when all those little girls get a look at you, hmm?  What will we do?"  She watched over him a bit longer as she wondered if he dreamed yet, and if so, of what?


            With a final look around to make sure everything was okay, Ami wandered back out to her desk and sat back down before her computer monitor.




            No longer able to resist her next yawn, she gave into it, and reluctantly decided to give her tired eyes a break.  As her head began its inevitable decent toward the still open textbook, her last waking thoughts rushed to where she most longed to be, and she thought once again about Makoto...


            ...and running shorts...


            ...and hot, sweaty, cut-off tank-tops...


            ...with really lovely faded logos across the chest...


            "Mmmm," she moaned softly.  "Nike..."


----  ----  ----  ----


            Makoto awoke with a start and the distinct impression that something was out of place.  A quick assessment of her surroundings, combined with the empty pillow her fist was now clenched in, provided all the necessary clues to solve the mystery.  Frowning, she turned to the bedside table to check the time displayed there in soft, green numbers.




            A glance toward the closed bedroom door revealed just the slightest bit of light peeking underneath it.  With a heavy sigh, Makoto leaned back against her pillows and stared at the ceiling above her.


            'No sense in going back to sleep now, ' she thought to herself.  'I'll have to get up and feed Miki at 2:00, and then...'


            She allowed that thought to trail off.  Ami would be asleep either on the couch or sitting at her desk.


            'This is getting to be a habit,' she thought to herself, 'and one I don't like one bit.'


            Saddened, Makoto realized this was the third night in a row Ami had done this.  Of course, she also understood why Ami did it.  It was for the exact same reason she’d started working out like a maniac at the Sports Center again and still wound up running five or six miles every night.


            "I can't believe how stupid this is!" she snapped at no one in particular.  "It's driving us both crazy!"


            A small sound from the baby monitor next to the bed rescued her from following through on that depressing train of thought, and Makoto decided to get up and go to her son before he woke up enough to figure out just why he was awake.  With a grunt, she rolled out of bed and stood, every muscle in her body protesting loudly at the abuse she had inflicted on them for the last two weeks.  Padding softly down the hall, she entered the nursery and smiled at the little 'moo-cow' night-light, as she had dubbed it, that Ami had insisted Miki had to have.


            "It will make it much easier for us to see what we're doing when we have to come and go in here in the middle of the night,” she’d said back then.


            'Yeah, sure!'  Makoto grinned at the remembered conversation.  'The fact that it reminded you of Suu had nothing at all to do with it.'


            Leaning over the crib, Makoto's grin grew wider as she looked down at her patiently waiting young man.


            "Morning, Little Bug,” she whispered, as she reached down to pick him up.  "You heard me coming and decided you didn't need to kick up a fuss after all, didn't you?"  Sleepy, deep blue eyes looked up at her.  Then, with a happy gurgle he snuggled into his mother's warmth, turning his head toward her breast.


            "Yeah, I know, I know!  Just give me a second," she said as she walked toward the rocking chair and sat down.  Wrapping the blanket more closely around him, she watched as he enjoyed his meal, eventually dozing back off when he'd had his fill.


            "That's my good boy,” Makoto crooned as she watched him sleeping in her arms.  "Go back to sleep little man, and dream good dreams."  Carefully rising from the chair, she made her way back to his crib and placed him back inside, tucking the covers in around him securely and straightening his little cap.  "What do little bugs dream about anyway, hmm?" she questioned the sleeping boy.  "I bet I know,” she answered herself with a wry grin.  "Milk!"


            Laughing softly at her own stupid joke, Makoto straightened up and turned to leave the room, groaning as her abused muscles protested yet again.  Limping the few steps back down the hall, she massaged the sore muscles in her lower back with her right hand in an attempt to get them to ease up.  As she rounded the corner into the livingroom, she stopped, then leaned sadly against the doorframe as she took in the scene before her.


            Ami was slumped down in her desk chair, the side of her face mushed into an open textbook.  Her glasses were on the floor where they must have fallen from her hand, as her fingers were dangling a good eight inches above them.  She looked horribly uncomfortable.


            "Oh, Ami," she whispered, shaking her head sadly.  Crossing the room, she knelt down beside her obviously miserable lover.  Placing Ami's glasses back on the desk, she reached out and brushed the disheveled blue locks away from her forehead. "There's got to be a better way," she mused as she watched Ami's frown deepen.  "There just has to be!"


            When it became apparent that her exhausted partner was not going to wake up easily, Makoto made a quick decision and gently picked the smaller girl up in her arms.


            "You can yell at me later for lifting more than Saatchi-san said was my limit, but you are NOT sleeping out here again.  I just can't stand it anymore!"


            Ignoring her screaming muscles, Makoto turned, and started back toward the bedroom.  Ami, her head tucked just under Makoto's chin, stirred slightly.


            "Mmmm," she mumbled, a slight smile appearing on her face as she nuzzled her cheek against Makoto's neck.  "Nike..." she said, her right hand rising to begin a gentle caress across Makoto's left breast.


            "God!" Makoto yelped, almost dropping Ami in the process, her body screaming 'YES!' in response to her partner’s sleep-induced advances.  Gulping, she forced her suddenly wobbly legs to complete the journey down the short hallway and into their still darkened bedroom.  Laying Ami gently back against the sheets,  Makoto was both disappointed and relieved to discover that after that initial advance, and a small, yet very passionate kiss against the side of her neck, Ami had again fallen into a deep, deep sleep.


            Pulling the covers up over Ami, and drawing a very deep and shaky breath, Makoto slipped under the covers herself.  She froze for several moments as she attempted to compose herself, and then, after just the slightest bit of hesitation, she bit her lower lip and pulled Ami into her arms.  Ami unconsciously cuddled into her accustomed place against Makoto's side, her arm coming up and over Makoto's stomach, her fingers lightly caressing the skin under her sleepshirt for just a few seconds before stilling once again.  Makoto watched as Ami smiled, and could actually feel her slight body begin to relax as she drifted back off to dreamland.


            Surprisingly,  she could feel herself beginning to relax for the first time in several days as well,  the simple act of just being able to hold one another bringing a special peace that neither one of them had been aware they were missing.


            Makoto yawned and thought about that as she closed her eyes.  'Why does this have to be such a pain?' she wondered.  'As much as I want her, and boy, do I ever want her, it still doesn't diminish the fact that I need her, just her, just like this, even more!  But it's gotten to the point that we're afraid to even be in the same room together.'  She frowned.  'This is crazy!  There has to be a solution to this!  Saatchi-san can't even give me a guess at how long this is going to last!  Gah!!!'


            Feeling Ami start to stir against her in unconscious response to her growing temper, Makoto forced her thoughts aside for now, knowing that if Ami woke up, she would try and find an excuse to go back to the other room.


            "Sh-h-h-h, love," Makoto soothed her.  "Sh-h-h-h... everything’s okay.  Go back to sleep, okay?"


            She was relieved as she felt Ami relax again, and settle back into her place.  But, she still wondered at the words of comfort that had come so easily to her lips.  'Everything’s okay.'


            'Well, maybe not everything,' she mused as she felt her emotions come back under her control, her fatigue finally catching up to her.  Taking a deep, cleansing breath, Makoto forced herself to relax.  'But it will be,' she vowed.  'As long as I can hold you in my arms, it will be.   I'll make sure of it!'


            Closing her eyes as she felt herself beginning to tumble back into sleep, she unconsciously tightened her hold on Ami, and her last waking thought was a strange one to her.


            'Nike?  Why Nike?  What's up with that?'



~ Saturday Morning ~

~ May 24th ~


            She didn’t know if it was Bug’s presence in the workout room that had chased off the few others who had been there when they arrived, or if it was the waves of agitation rolling off of her as she warmed up.  Truthfully, she didn’t really care.  But whatever it was, it had left this area of the Sports Center feeling unusually empty for a Saturday morning.  Rather than mulling on that, Makoto took advantage of it, letting her restless energy out in a way she wouldn’t have if she’d had an audience of strangers.


            Too soon for her liking, her muscles began to protest the strain she was putting them through.  Her foot impacted against the vinyl of the heavy bag, the blow followed by a quick round of punches that left a satisfying sting in her fists.  There was tangible accomplishment here, even if she hadn’t been able to solve her original problem like she’d hoped.  But she was one step closer to her second goal, even if she felt like she had a lot more steps to go.


            Leaning forward, she rested her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath.  She blew her bangs away from her eyes and glanced over at Bug.  The baby lay in his stroller, happily content, occasionally flexing his toes presumably to amuse himself as he waited for his mother to finish up whatever it was she was doing.


            Makoto laughed softly to herself as she wiped the sweat away from her eyes.  ‘Typical male,’ she thought in fond amusement.  ‘So long as he’s fed and has a comfortable place to laze around, he’s happy, everything in the world right as rain.’






            Little droplets of it like the kind that clung to Ami’s skin as she stepped out of the shower…


            With a low growl, Makoto took a sharp swing at the bag in front of her.  That growl slowly turned into muttered strings of unintelligible curses as the heavy bag bore the brunt of her ever-growing frustrations.


            It wasn’t helping.


            Slowing to a stop, Makoto took one last, weak swing at the bag.  Her fist lingered against its surface for several seconds as she closed her eyes and focused her breathing.  Something had changed, because before this had always worked to abate the ‘Ami-want.’  With her eyes still closed, she stretched her arms back behind her.  Maybe it wasn’t working because she was staying in one place.  If she could get out and run a few miles, too, that might finish cooling her off.  Or if nothing else, she thought ruefully, it might make her too tired, stiff, and sore to think about anything else.


            Foot steps across the hard floor startled her, and she turned around quickly to see who it was.  Haruka offered a curt wave to Makoto as she walked over to the baby and grinned down at him.  “Good morning, Miki-kun.  It’s good to see you letting your mama out to play for a little bit.”


            Sleepy eyes regarded her for several seconds, blinking lazily as they did, before he answered back with an abbreviated, high-pitched burble.


            Haruka nodded.  “Yes, I agree.  And I would tell her she shouldn’t be working out this hard so soon after giving birth, too, but I suspect she’s already heard that from your other mama and doesn’t need to hear it from me.”  Haruka looked back over at Makoto and nodded towards the bag.  “So, who is it this time?”


            Ignoring the indirect chastisement, Makoto answered, “It’s more of a ‘what’ this time than a ‘who.’  And it was either this, or go drown myself in Tokyo Bay.  Somehow, I didn’t think the tourists would appreciate me interrupting their day like that.”


            “Okay,” went on Haruka, crossing her arms over her chest.  “Now you’ve really got me curious.  What’s going on?”


            With a sigh, Makoto walked over and took the towel that was hanging on the stroller’s handle.  Plopping down on the bench beside it, she dried off her face, feeling Haruka’s waiting gaze on her the whole time.  Keeping her face hidden behind the towel, she hastily mumbled out an almost incoherent answer.


            A brief cough of laughter left Haruka.  “Excuse me?  I don’t think I quite caught that.”


            Letting her hands and the towel drop into her lap, Makoto frowned up at the older girl.  “I said,” she drew out, enunciating those two words clearly before letting the rest of it out in a rush, “that it’s about sex, okay?  Or the lack of it.  And I’d feel a whole lot worse about saying that if it wasn’t making Ami just as nuts as it’s making me.”


            Confusion flitted across Haruka’s features.  “I thought this wasn’t an issue with you two anymore.  Or did something happen?”


            “Bug happened,” answered Makoto.  The statement was softened, though, by the warm smile she gave him as she reached up to stroke his chubby, dimpled cheek.  “My doctor told us we have to wait six weeks.  It’s a standard thing, just to let everything heal up properly.  It didn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal, since we hadn’t really done anything in over a month anyway.  And, quite frankly, neither of us felt like it.  But then… I don’t know.  My hormones went ballistic or something.  Now every stupid little thing she does makes me want her.  Badly.”


            The frown reappeared and deepened as Makoto spoke.  Releasing an agitated breath, she began to twist the towel in her hands.  “It’s bugging Ami, too, though I don’t know why.  Maybe she’s feeding off my moods.  But whatever’s doing it to her, she’s gotten to the point where she’s all but outright avoiding me all the time.  We got a little carried away one morning last week, and now she doubts her own control and is certain I have none because of all the post-baby hormones.  So, to keep from ‘interfering with the healing process,’ she’s started sleeping on the couch again.  I hate that.”


             Haruka listened silently as Makoto spoke.  The frustration in her voice was plain, but mixed in with it was the sad loneliness that came with missing the presence of a loved one.  She sympathized, and couldn’t help but wonder if maybe they were putting themselves through all this unnecessarily.  Time to test out a theory, she mused, then rested a hand on Makoto’s shoulder.  “Come on.  I think this time you need an opponent who can hit back.”


            Makoto smiled at her, gladly accepting the offered distraction.  As she stood, the smile turned into a challenging smirk.  “I can take anything you can throw at me.  And don’t you dare hold back.  If you do, I’ll lose every ounce of respect I have for you.”


            Haruka grinned and nodded in understanding.  Then they moved over to one of the mats and took up their positions.  They circled each other for several seconds, sizing up and reacquainting themselves with each other as sparring partners.  Makoto was the first to take the offense, her impatience and restlessness getting the better of her.


            ‘Slower than usual,’ thought Haruka as she defended herself and prepared for her own strike.  ‘Movement’s a little stiff.  She came at this too quickly and has been doing it for too long.  The nights of broken sleep aren’t helping, either.  But the drive and instinct are still there.  I wouldn’t want to be a bad guy trapped in a dark ally with her at this moment, even if she could use a nap and a soak in a hot tub before the fight.’


            The match went on, Haruka giving Makoto the workout she wanted and getting a good one in return.  Finally, the deciding blow was dealt.  As Makoto’s back landed against the mat, the wind knocked out of her from the force, Haruka followed her down and straddled her waist.  Makoto’s arms were pinned at her sides, and Haruka waited patiently for her to open her eyes.


            Makoto took a few deep breaths, not at all happy with her sudden immobility.  Not to mention that the weight on top of her was entirely the wrong density for this position to be any fun at all.  ‘Aw, damn!’ thought Makoto as her mind kicked back onto the wrong track.  Without meaning to, she let out a small sound of defeat.


            The grips on Makoto’s wrists loosened as a concerned voice asked, “You okay, Mako-chan?  Need me to move?”


            She couldn’t help but chuckle at that.  “I’m okay,” she answered as she opened her eyes.  “But I wouldn’t mind if you moved anyway.”


            “Gotcha,” said Haruka as she moved off to the side and offered Makoto a hand to sit up.


            Makoto pulled herself up beside Haruka and crossed her legs Indian style.  “You know, one of these days, I will get you.”


            “I’m sure you will,” replied Haruka in amusement.  Then she sobered a bit.  “In the meantime, can I offer a few opinions?”


            “Sure.  At this point, I’ll take any help I can get.”


            “Well, to start, I think if you’re up to sparring like that with me, you’re also up to something… less violent with Ami.”


            Makoto let out a bark of humorless laughter.  “You would think, wouldn’t you?  But she’s dead set on this all-or-nothing approach, and we’ve got more than three weeks until my next check-up...”


            “Which brings me to my next point,” interrupted Haruka.  “Now, I’m not going to presume to know your body or everything that’s going on with you.  I’m just basing this on what I’ve seen you doing here today.  But that whole six week thing, Mako-chan, is for an average woman with an average physiology.  When your doctor told you it would take that long to heal, he wasn’t aware of one very important aspect of your physiology, which is anything but average.  Think.  When was the last time you had a major injury that took more than a few days to heal?  Or a little one that took more than a few hours?  And since you’ve got your body all back to yourself now…”


            Haruka left that last sentence hanging, kind of like the way Makoto’s jaw was.  After an extended silence, sound began to emerge from Makoto’s throat.  “You have got to be kidding me!” she said incredulously, her voice gaining momentum with each word.  “For weeks we’ve been putting ourselves through this hell, trying to be good and not cause damage that would make things worse, and we didn’t have to?  I don’t believe this!”


            “Well, I didn’t actually say it was all unnec…”


            “Damn it, damn it, damn it!” went on Makoto, rolling right over Haruka.  “She practically ran out of the apartment that morning, all because she was afraid of hurting me, and I was perfectly okay the whole time?  And that night she was nibbling on her pen – that could have been me.  But no, I went for a run instead!”


            Haruka sat in a state of cautious observation as Makoto continued to ramble on and curse herself for not thinking of this on her own.  She was just beginning to wonder if this was some sort of stress induced meltdown when Makoto let out a long, dejected groan and fell back against the mat.


            Staring up at the dusty ceiling, Makoto wondered out loud, “And how in the hell I am supposed to convince Ami of all of this?”




~ Saturday Night ~

~ May 24th ~


            The apartment was quiet now, with the baby asleep and Ami studying silently in the living room.  It would be a few hours before Bug woke up again and demanded her undivided attention, and Makoto was planning on making good use of that time.


            She finished brushing her hair, leaving it to fall in soft waves around her shoulders and down her back.  The box she’d brought home with her this afternoon was taken from the closet shelf and opened on the bed.  She stuck with her recent decision to leave the lacier half of the ensemble in the box for another night, when they would have more time to properly enjoy it, and instead lifted out the short robe that matched it.  The pale green satin was cool against her bare skin as she tied the sash loosely around her waist.  This would set the mood and let Ami see just enough to keep her focused on something other than schoolwork, while at the same time covering enough to keep her from bolting out of the room.  At least, that was how Makoto hoped it would work.


            After a quick stop in the nursery to make sure Bug was still sleeping soundly, she walked slowly to the living room.  Ami was in the same place she’d left her, sitting at her desk, concentrating on her notes and textbooks.  So concentrated, that she didn’t hear Makoto’s soft footfall as she approached.  Makoto grinned at the serious expression Ami wore and she rested her hand on Ami’s shoulder.  At the girl’s slight jump, Makoto said softly, “Sorry.  Didn’t mean to scare you.”


            “That’s okay,” answered Ami, pausing in her work and allowing herself a moment to enjoy the feel of Makoto’s fingers against her skin.  “Did you get Miki down all right?”


            “Yeah,” answered Makoto as her fingers slipped under the dark blue strap of Ami’s pajama top and stroked gently.  Almost as soon as she did that, Ami stiffened and ducked out from under the touch.  Makoto sighed sadly, then added, “I know I’m living with what is likely to be two future doctors, but it’s Saturday night and there’s entirely too much studying going on.”


            Ami wasn’t even given a chance to answer as Makoto leaned in as closely as the desk chair would allow her.  Reaching over Ami’s shoulder, she lingered as she closed the book on the desk.  Ami, for her part, was very keenly aware of every aspect of Makoto’s presence.  The gentle breath against her ear as Makoto leaned over her, the scent of shampoo and soap that still lingered from the shower she’d taken before putting the baby to bed, the warmth of her body as it pressed against her bare arm.  It was all overwhelming, but in a way that, under normal circumstances, would have been a very good way.  As it was, Ami was still trying to figure out how to get her suddenly paralyzed limbs to move and let her retreat when Makoto suddenly swiveled the chair around and smiled down at her.


            She could see something akin to fear creeping into Ami’s eyes and knew the girl was trying to find a way to escape.  Putting as much unthreatening reassurance into her smile as she could, Makoto reached forward and carefully removed Ami’s glasses, setting them aside on the desk.  With the backs of her fingers, she caressed Ami’s cheek as she said, “We need to talk about a few things, and I’d like to do it now, before any more time gets away from us.  Okay?”


            Ami nodded and relaxed slightly in her seat.


            “Okay,” repeated Makoto.  She let her hand fall back to her side, then, so she wouldn’t be towering over the smaller girl, knelt down in front of her.


            Ami’s eyes widened in surprise as she got her first real look at what Makoto was wearing, as well as the view this new position afforded her.  The sides of Makoto’s robe were only marginally held together, and there was very obviously nothing underneath it.  Well, nothing but a very soft, very warm, very inviting Makoto.  Ami slammed her eyes shut as she squeaked out, “I… I haven’t seen that before.  Is it new?”


            “The robe?  Yep.  I picked it up on the way home this afternoon.  I was just in that kind of a mood.”  She grinned as Ami took a shuddery breath, then placed her hands on Ami’s knees.  “But back on subject.  Eyes open for this, sweetheart.  Come on.”


            Slowly, Ami opened one eye and peered down at her partner.


            “Both of them, please.”  When Ami somewhat reluctantly complied, she continued, becoming more serious as she did.  “First off, as of tonight, I’m instituting a new rule.  No more sleeping anyplace but your own bed.  Which just so happens to be my bed, also.  So we’re going to have to share, each and every night, for the rest of our lives.”  Her hands began to move lightly along Ami’s thighs, skimming the edge of her sky blue shorts.  Her eyes ducked down to watch the movement as she added, “I know why you’ve been avoiding it, and rationally I understand and love you for trying to handle all of this for me.  But I’ve never really been known for rational thinking, ya know?  So I hate that you do this.  We used to spend way too much time doing these sorts of things to ourselves, and after swearing we wouldn’t ever do it again, here we are, right back were we started.  Or before we started.  Having you suddenly pulling away again, even though I know your reasons, hurts way more than it helps.  And I don’t like thinking that I might be doing the same thing to you.”


            Ami reached down and ran her hand over Makoto’s hair, her fingers combing tenderly through the soft locks.  “I’m sorry, Mako-chan.  It just seemed like it would be the easiest way right now.  But you know it wouldn’t have been forever.  You’re all I want, always.  That’s never changed.  That’s actually what the whole problem’s been,” she ended with a small chuckle.


            Makoto looked up at her and smiled.  “I know.  But I never really saw it as a problem.”  Her hands traveled up a bit further, sneaking passed the hems of Ami’s shorts as she stretched up to reach Ami’s lips.


            Feeling the need for at least this much right now, Ami bent down to Makoto.  Their lips met and moved together slowly in a simple, quiet kiss.  Just as she started to pull back, Ami felt Makoto’s hands move up to her hips.  Makoto recaptured the kiss, deepening it as she pulled Ami to the floor.  With Ami’s resolve effectively put on hold for the moment, Makoto maneuvered them so Ami was resting comfortably in her lap.


            Makoto’s arms wrapped around her and held her close.  As hands leisurely stroked her back, Ami laid a trail of feather soft kisses on Makoto’s cheek and across her jaw, lingering lazily along her neck.  A shiver ran down her spine at the low moan this produced, and she somehow found the presence of mind to reign herself in just as Makoto’s fingers began to creep up under her shirt.


            “Time-out, Mako-chan,” she managed to get out as she sat back.


            Makoto grinned playfully.  “No, Ami dearest.  ‘Time-out’ is something you do during a ball game.  What we’re doing is ‘making-out.’  There’s a pretty big difference between the two, and if you’ll just allow me to continue demonstrating…”


            “Mako-chan,” said Ami warningly, stopping Makoto as she tried to lean in for another kiss.  “You know what the doctor said, and regardless of whether or not we like it, we have to wait.”


            “Yeah, about that…”


            Ami cut her off quickly by placing a finger over her lips.  “Codicil to your new rule.”  She let her finger drop and her hands moved to run along the barely closed edges of the robe.  Easing the sides more closely together, Ami went on, “I’ll sleep in the bedroom from now on.  However, since the temptation is no longer removed, perhaps we could cover it up a bit more.”  One hand came to rest flat against Makoto’s chest, over her rapidly beating heart, and Ami looked into her eyes, almost begging her not to make this any harder than it already was.


            Makoto smiled comfortingly at her and placed her hand over Ami’s.  She gave it a squeeze, then reached for Ami’s other hand.  Then that comforting smile turned into a smirk, and she said slyly, “You don’t really want to do that, do you?”


            The sudden movement backwards produced a surprised yelp from Ami as she landed lightly on her back with her hands pinned loosely over her head.  Makoto hovered closely over her, still grinning in a playful way.  It’s okay, Ami.  I promise.  Besides, no one ever said you had to wait.”


            “But…” started Ami as she tugged one hand free and used it to brush back the soft, wavy curtain of hair that framed Makoto’s face.  “I don’t want to without you.”


            The naked honesty in those blue eyes stole Makoto’s breath away.  Her Ami never ceased to amaze her.  Hoping she was putting as much honesty and meaning into her words as Ami had, Makoto answered back, “I love you.”  Then, after a beat of heavy silence, “But don’t worry about me.  I have no intention of being left out of things tonight.”




            “Hush,” interrupted Makoto.  “Let me finish what I started to say before.  Now, I was going to say that I ran into Haruka today when I was at the Sports Center, and we had a fairly interesting talk.  You know how they always say that when you stand too close to something, you can’t see it clearly, and you need to take a few steps back?  Well, Haruka was my ‘few steps back.’  She pointed out something to me that should have been bloody obvious to at least one of us.  Especially me, since I’m the one walking around in this body.”


            Makoto held her hand up and produced her henshin wand.  She held the end in her fingertips, dangling it over Ami’s eyes.  Very carefully, she lowered it and trailed it down Ami’s chin and neck, easing it over the curve of a breast before bringing it to rest squarely in the center of her chest.  “I.  Am.  A.  Very, very.  Fast.  Healer.”


            The pace and variety of Ami’s expressions was almost comical.  Her face scrunched up in confusion until the proverbial light switch flicked on.  Her eyes went wide as saucers as her mouth formed a startled ‘o,’ though no sound came out.  Her lips closed, then opened, then closed again.  Then the genius girl surfaced, her lips forming a straight line as she observed Makoto with a very clinical air.  “That truly and honestly never even occurred to me.  Why?”


            Makoto couldn’t help it.  She burst out laughing.  “Probably because your sympathetic hormones were getting in the way of your higher reasoning abilities.”  Her giggles turned into a startled ‘eep’ as fingers gently grazed her stomach.


            Ami grinned up at her.  “Okay, then why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place?” she asked, her fingers moving in small circles against Makoto’s skin.  “It could have saved us a bit of time and trouble here.”


            “Oh, um, well,” stuttered out Makoto as those fingers continued to dance lightly against her.  “Well, I expected you to put up more of an argument, not just say ‘Why didn’t I think of that’ and dive right in.  Kinda thought I’d have to wear you down some before you’d give in.”


            Ami chuckled softly, the sound music to Makoto.  “Silly Mako-chan,” she chided lightheartedly as she caressed higher up within the folds of the robe.  “It’s a perfectly logical assumption that I’m almost ashamed to admit I didn’t think of first.  Unless,” she drew out, her head tilting to one side as she took on a contemplative air, “you want me to argue a little more?  I can do that if you’d like.  Because, as good a friend as Haruka has been, she’s certainly no medical professional.  It might take a little more than her word to convin…”


            Ami was cut off sharply as Makoto growled at her and forced their lips together in a hard kiss.  Her fingers curled into Makoto’s as the kiss deepened.  After several minutes, Makoto lifted her head, breathless, and rested her forehead against Ami’s.  “No arguing,” she breathed out.  “Not tonight.  Definitely not tonight.”


            Ami’s smile widened, and she worked both her hands free from Makoto’s body.  She moved them up to Makoto’s shoulders and nudged enough to get her to roll over.  Straddling Makoto’s hips, she took several seconds to just gaze down upon her partner.  “You are so incredibly beautiful,” she whispered as her hands began to move slowly, parting the robe completely, teasing skin as she moved aside the satin that obstructed her view and drawing a long sigh from Makoto.  Her hands came down and splayed out along Makoto’s middle.  “I couldn’t do this before,” she mused, her hands caressing the warm skin beneath them.  “Miki was in the way.”


            Mmm,” was the only answer she got.  Makoto’s eyes were closed, and she was too long gone in the enjoyment of the feel of Ami’s fingers and the sound of her voice to say much more.


            Ami giggled, then eased her hands further up, tickling along the underside of a breast, tracing a finger slowly along the side and over before following down the middle back to Makoto’s belly.  Makoto’s hands gripped her waist under her shirt, her fingers flexing rhythmically as Ami began to inch forward.  Her lips pressed lightly to Makoto’s collarbone as she stretched out along her partner’s length.  As their legs twined more comfortably together, Ami’s lips whispered up Makoto’s neck, her teeth nipping playfully at an earlobe when they reached their destination.  Her slow exhale against Makoto’s ear was warm and sweet, and as Makoto’s hold on her tightened, Ami said very softly, “We’re testing out a theory tonight, Mako-chan.  So we’re going to go very slowly and very, very carefully.”


            Mmkay,” muttered Makoto.  Her fingers threaded into Ami’s hair and moved her closer so she could get at those perfect lips again.  “Whatever you want, love.  You can have whatever you want.”


            And just before she captured Ami’s lips with hers, the last words she heard were, “You.  I only want you.”







Omake Special: Outtakes

by Sailor Doc


~ Thursday Evening, May 22nd ~

~ Hikawa Shrine - Rei & Minako's Bedroom ~


Rei:  Mina?


Minako:  Mmmmm, yes love?


Rei:  How long have we gone?


Minako:  <giggles>  Silly Rei-chan!  You know I lose all track of time when we're

            making love!  Twenty minutes?  An hour?  Two Hours?  Three?  Who

            cares?  <snuggles closer>  Anytime I can spend alone with you is special.


Rei:  <blushes>  I didn't mean right now!


Minako:  What?  You mean you don't think our time together is special?


Rei:  <flustered>  Of course I do!  <holds Minako closer>  I'm never happier than

            when I'm with you!


Minako:  Aw... you're so sweet!  <kisses Rei's cheek and caresses her bare tummy> 

            So, what did you mean?


Rei:  I meant, what's the longest we've gone without...


Minako:  Without what?


Rei:  Without... you know...


Minako:  Making love?


Rei:  Yeah.  That.


Minako:  Well, let's see.  I'm not really sure.  I would say it was when my parents

            separated us, but that really wasn't all that long.  <frowns in concentration>

            I think it must have been before that.


Rei:  Yeah, but how long do you think?


Minako:  I think I'd have to say four or five days.


Rei:  <shocked>  That long???


Minako:  Yeah, well we could only do 'sleepovers' so often, and my parents place was

            more or less out.


Rei:  <smirk!>  And who's fault was that?


Minako:  <blush!>  Hush!


Rei:  <Thoughtfully>  I would have thought it was when we were separated too, but I

            think you're right.  The stress we were under probably just made it seem

            longer than it was.


Minako:  It felt like forever.


Rei:  Yeah.


Minako:  You're thinking about Ami and Makoto, aren't you?


<Rei nods>


Minako:  Well, I wouldn't worry about it.  That's not a problem we're likely to

            have come up anytime soon!


Rei:  We'd better not! <Rei's patented mock glare>


Minako:  I swear!  Besides, you know I'm addicted to you!  I couldn't survive for

            too long without my usual healthy fix of Rei-lovin'.


Rei:  <nonchalantly> So... How long is too long?


Minako:  How long has it been?


Rei:  Ten Minutes?


Minako:  <pulls Rei closer & whispers against her lips> I need you, Sparky...




~ Saturday, May 24th ~

~ Sports Center ~


Haruka:  So, tell me Mako-chan.  Just why are you trying to beat the living hell out of this heavy bag... again?  I mean, here we are just like before... what will people say?  We really have to stop meeting like this!  You know Michiru and Ami would both kill us!


Makoto:  I just... dammit, Haruka!  I just... have issues.


Haruka:  Ah.  Now I understand.  You're not getting any, right?


Makoto:  !!!  Well... no... but it's more complicated than that.   


Haruka:  More complicated?  Than that???   


Makoto:  Yeah.


Haruka:  Like what? 


Makoto:  Well, to tell the truth, it's not that she won't give it to me.  It's more like she can't.


Haruka:  What do you mean can't?  Come on, Makoto!  I think chastity belts went out of vogue a century or so ago!  Tell the truth.  What did you do to piss her off!  I mean, if that's what it is, you are talking to the right woman, because I piss Michiru off all the time.


Makoto:  Oh!  Really?


Haruka:  Yeah.  She always gets a little snitty and acts like she doesn't want to be with me any more... but it doesn't take me long to change her mind!  To tell the truth, it's the most fun we've ever had with foreplay...




~ Saturday Afternoon, May 24th ~

 ~ Ami and Makoto's Apartment ~


            Still a bit wound-up after the revelations of her conversation with Haruka earlier in the day, Makoto has returned home to try and calm down a bit.  After settling Miki in for an afternoon nap, and deciding she needs a distraction, Makoto turns on the television and tries to relax a little.  Leaning back on the couch, her feet propped up on the coffee table, she starts to run the channels, looking for something to take her mind off her troubles.  Even so, everything she sees serves to remind her of her blue-haired lady...




"Feel as fresh and clean as a mountain stream with 'Irish Mountain' body wash..."




"You and all your family and friends will find hours of watery fun at glorious 'Splash City' Waterpark!  Located at..."




"As refreshing as a cool breeze!  Try new, and even better tasting 'Zesty!' spearmint gum..."




"...two seater, super deluxe jet skis are guaranteed to double you excitement on the water  like nothing you've ever seen..."


Makoto:  Right...




"...a seven day, seven night 'Caravan', love-ship cruise will spark..."


Makoto:  Wrong!!!




"...'Crystal Ice', bottled water..."




"...improved water blasters..."




"...'Catina', swimwear..."




"Are you tired?  Lonely?  Depressed?"


Makoto:  <sarcastically>  You forgot horny..."


"Then come!  Drink from the fountains of living water with us, at the 'Sakura Shrine and Bath-house..."


Makoto:  Oh, for crying out loud!




<images of nubile young woman in scanty lingerie appear on the screen, with the 'V's Secret!' logo prominently displayed in the corner>


Makoto:  <grins>  Every time I see this commercial, I wonder if somehow or other Minako has her hand in that! 




<realizes what she's just said and busts out laughing!>


Makoto:  Well, knowing Rei as well as I do, I think it's pretty safe to say not only 'no', but 'HELL NO!!!!'


<continues to watch>


Makoto:  <thoughtfully>  You know, I think a bit of shopping is in order.  Maybe something lacy, green and barely there will do the trick...




~ Monday Morning, May 26th ~

~ The Walk to School ~


<Ami, her step light, and her smile sunny and warm, approaches the usual group>


Ami:  Good morning, everyone!


<Rei, Minako & Usagi take one look at Ami, turn to look at each other and as one, burst into gales of laughter>


<Startled, Ami takes a quick look behind her.  Seeing nothing amiss, she then checks out her uniform.  Still finding nothing wrong, she turns back to the group>


Ami:  What's so funny?  Is everything OK?


<Tears streaming down her cheeks and gasping for breath, Minako is the first to recover>


Minako:  And how was YOUR weekend, Ami-chan?


<Ami blushes fiercely, a bright fire engine red.>


Ami:  I knew it!  I knew it!  Minako, you DID lie to me!  You can too tell by the way I