Thoughts of Home: The Journey Home
By Sailor Doc

 

The journey home no longer seemed that far, Ami mused, as she walked down the dampened sidewalk. She seemed oblivious to the slowly drizzling rain and overcast sky, but a sudden flash of lightening with its accompanying clap of thunder brought a sweet and dreamy smile to her face.

'Makoto,' she thought.

She was no longer surprised by the blush she could feel covering her cheeks. She was, however, amused that even after all this time just the thought of her lover could still make her feel shy.

It was four years now since they had first gotten together. She laughed quietly to herself as she remembered all the wistful looks and shy words they had shared back then. Any excuse to touch had been a good one; an arrant lock of hair, a piece of lint, a stray eye lash. Cookie crumbs on each other cheeks had been an especial favorite of them both.

"No wonder you were always baking all those cakes and cookies," Ami had accused her later, after they had begun to date.

"Yeah, ya got me on that one," Makoto had said with a grin. "Of course back then I couldn't brush them off your cheeks the way I really wanted to."

"Oh?" Ami had asked. "And how was that?"

"With my lips," had been the whispered response as Makoto had proceeded to lean forward and dust her lips and cheeks with feather-light kisses, her touch as soft and gentle as her whispered breath had been...

Sighing at the sweet memory, Ami smiled and picked up her pace a bit. With the frenzied rush her life had become since she had entered medical school, the journey home had become a welcome part of her busy schedule. It gave her the time to think about personal things that didn't come out of textbook, lecture halls, cadaver labs and patient studies. As important as those things were and as fascinating as she found them, they could never infringe on that special place in her heart that belonged to Makoto and Makoto alone.

Time.

Time had become their enemy for awhile. With the beginning of college for Ami and entrance into the first of many cooking schools for Makoto, they had started to find it increasingly difficult to find any time at all, much less quality time to spend together. The added responsibilities of additional study, after-school labs, research papers, catered affairs, and senshi duties had put a tremendous amount of strain on their relationship. After many stress induced misunderstandings and arguments, which included both tears and accusations, they had come to the realization that they were not each others problem. Time was their common enemy. With the root of the problem established they were able to seek out the advice of a professional...and who could be better than the guardian of time herself? Ami grinned as she remembered the look on Setsuna's face when both she and Makoto had shown up on her doorstep for 'marriage counseling'! She had invited them into the living room with a knowing smile and after returning a few minutes later with a fresh pot of tea, proceeded to show them how to make time work for, not against them. Since then, each new day, no matter how hectic it may be, had been an adventure they could share. They faced each new challenge together, and what a rush it had been!

The wind picked up a bit and Ami, grateful for the raincoat Makoto had insisted she take that morning, huddled under her umbrella and watched the approaching bus with relief. The familiar screech of the air brakes and splash of the large tires were almost as welcome a sound as the swish of the large folding door as it opened to invite her out of the cold and damp. Paying her fare and taking a seat close to the front, Ami continued to think of their war against time.

After their initial 'session' with Setsuna things had improved greatly, however the decisive blow had been dealt two years ago.

It had happened one night as Ami was once again preparing to return home for the night. It had become a part of their established routine to spend their evenings together, no matter where that may be. Sometimes it would be at the library or lab of Ami's school, and at other times, the back of some strange restaurant where Mako had gotten a chance to study under the direct guidance of some famous chef. More often than not though, it would be at Makoto's apartment where they would both 'hunker down' to their books in a deadly serious attempt to better their future. However...being young and in love did make for some rather interesting distractions. It may have been an old joke, but Mako never tired of reminding Ami that if she really wanted to be a good doctor, the on-going study of human anatomy was very important...and she would always be willing, even eager, to help! Smiling secretly to herself, Ami couldn't stop the rush of memories that came to her as she thought about all the nights they had spent in the privacy of their own special anatomy lab, where 'the joys of learning' took on a whole new meaning...

Ami sighed as she watched the people walking down the sidewalks from the comfort of her seat, her thoughts on her partner.

As a lover, Makoto was...amazing. Of course her experience before Makoto was limited. Okay, it was nonexistent! But honestly, she couldn't even begin to imagine that anyone else could satisfy her more. Truthfully, she really couldn't see anyone else in that capacity. The people in her life fell into groups; her family, her friends, her acquaintances, her co-workers, and then there was Makoto, who was in a class all by herself. She was best friend and lover, critic and cheering squad, guardian and advocate. As a partner, she was supportive, encouraging and always interested in her progress. As a lover, she was tender and giving, yet she carried an underlying passion that held her captive and took her breath away every time. She had heard of two people becoming 'as one', but it truly seemed to her that in those special moments, Makoto really was a part of her. Not just on a physical level, but a spiritual one as well.

With a slight shiver that had nothing whatsoever to do with her rain dampened shoes and feet, Ami forced her thoughts to return to the night, just a little over two years ago, when the time issue had been, if not solved, at least contained.

They had again spent the evening at Makoto's, where they had gotten a lot accomplished with their respective studies and had even had time to spare for 'anatomy lab', but as inevitably happened, the time came for Ami to return to her mother's house. With the passage of time, this had started to become more and more difficult.

"Don't go," Makoto had whispered, her breath tickling Ami's ear gently. "Stay the night," she had said, her arms intimately entangled around Ami, who clung to her in like fashion at the front door of the apartment.

With a soft growl of frustration their lips came together again, the desire to stay and the need to leave playing out their war on the battleground of the young lovers’ desire.

"I can't," Ami groaned as she tried to be strong and pull away from her lovers determined lips.

"Why/" Makoto had asked quickly before launching another assault, this time on Ami's sensitive neck and ear.

Ami's eyes had rolled in pleasure before she was forced to close them by the re-awakening fire that she had really only just banked a few minutes before. Tightening the grip she had on her lover, she could feel herself giving in to the desire that was never really that far away when they were together.

"Ami-love," the whispered endearment burned into her consciousness.

"Makoto," she had pleaded, her body trembling with her re-awakened need. "Please, baby...you're making this so hard..."

"I know," Makoto had said, her pleading eyes locked on Ami's blue ones. "I don't want you to leave! I don't ever want you to leave!"

The moment had seemed frozen in time.

In that one instance they both seen the 'hand-writing on the wall', and Ami had gotten an un-obstructed view of Makoto's lonely heart. Gazing up into that beloved face with its frame of reddish-brown hair, still disheveled from their earlier passion, she was struck by the fear she saw buried there in those beautiful, deep green eyes.

"Mako," she had whispered, raising her hand to caress the cheek of her suddenly silent thunder senshi. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"

"I...I...," she stammered after a few moments. Then she had swallowed, and pulling away from their embrace said, "You’ll think it's silly."

Frowning slightly, Ami replied, "I don't think I could find anything 'silly' that affects you like this." As Makoto had started to turn away, Ami had reached out to stop her, her grip on Makoto's arm firm and determined. "I'm serious Makoto," she'd said softly. "Talk to me."

The air conditioner chose that moment to cycle back off and the room was still as Ami waited, giving her lover time to collect her thoughts.

"Ami,' she began a few moments later, her voice strained.”I'm tired. I'm just so damn tired of...of...," Ami watched as she clinched her jaw and stared up at the ceiling for several seconds before lowering her head once more to continue softly "...of being alone."

They could hear the wall clock ticking in the next room. They really didn't care.

"I've spent so much of my life alone, staring at the four walls of this damn apartment. I guess I'm just sick and tired of coming home knowing I'll be spending yet another night alone, in the dark, by myself, in the cold, without another soul to give a damn whether I even wake up in the morning or not."

Ami started forward in violent protest, stopped only by Makoto's gentle hand on her forearm.

"I know what you're going to say," she continued, a sad smile on her face, "and I love you for it! But, you asked me what was wrong and this is it. This is how I feel, and the fact remains that even though I know you love me, you still have to leave me most every night. It...," she swallowed painfully. "It still hurts."

Ami was quiet, her thoughts spinning through her mind like a whirlwind. Finally, in a quiet voice she had asked, "what do you want me to do?"

Looking into her eyes with a seriousness Ami had never seen before, Makoto stated firmly, "I want you to stay. Here. With me. Period."

They had gazed at each other for a bit, weighing the gravity of the moment. Then, without another word, Ami had walked to the phone, picked it up and dialed.

"Hello, mom?... yeah, its me... yeah, I know it's pretty late, sorry! Are you okay?... that's great!... Look, I think I'll be staying here... no, no, she's fine... no, really!... no, it's not that...MOM!" Ami blushed a fiery red as she clinched the receiver in her hand. "Kami-sama, mom! I can't believe you said that!" Ami had looked at Makoto, turned even redder and quickly cut her eyes away from her. "Geez, mom... no... no, that's not it really. It's just. Well. Makoto needs me."

Makoto had watched the one-sided conversation in wonder and fascination. Was what she thought was happening really happening?

"Yeah, I guess it's time...yeah...yeah...," a small smile quirked her lips as she listened to her mom on the other end. "Yeah, we'll talk about it sometime this weekend...uh-huh...yeah...I love you too, mom...good night."

Ami returned the receiver to its cradle, and turned to face her partner.

"I'm home," she'd said with a gentle smile. She offered her open arms to Makoto, who came forward eagerly into her welcoming embrace...

Gazing once again out the bus window, Ami never noticed the two cab drivers arguing at the intersection. All she saw was the glorious rays of the sun as they began to break through the oppressive cloud cover. With a happy grin, she thought of her life since that night.

Once the decision had been made, events had moved pretty swiftly. By the end of the next week, Ami had been officially moved into 'the apartment formerly known and Makoto's'. An apartment warming party had been thrown by their friends and fellow senshi to everyone's fun and enjoyment. Haruka had simply said, "About time," to Michiru's amusement, and Setsuna, in her own special if enigmatic way had merely smiled and said, "a most excellent use if time management. I congratulate you both!"

Since then life had been, if not perfect, then darn near close. Sure, they'd had their tiffs form time-to-time as most couples do, but for the most part the move had strengthened their relationship. After all, as Makoto had said one time, "how can I stay mad at you for forgetting to clean the bathroom when I come home and find you fast asleep, face down on your textbooks?" Ami remembered how touched she had been by Makoto's sentiment until she had gone and ruined it..." Besides...I find the drool- pool on that page just way too sexy..." Embarrassed, Ami had made her pay! Oh yeah, she had paid for that one! But still, the truth was they both worked hard, and true love had a way of deciding what was really important, as well as what was not.

On the anniversary of their first year together in the apartment, Ami had come home to discover an apartment where only candles provided the lighting. Fresh flowers decorated a table elegantly set for two and if the aroma was any indication, the food would be as tasteful and wonderful as it looked. As Ami looked in amazement at the scene in front of her, she became aware of movement to her right. As she watched, Makoto entered the room with a quiet smile.

"Hey," She'd said softly. "Welcome home!"

Her dress was cocktail length and black, with french sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. It gracefully covered her curves and seemed to bring out the subtle lights of her reddish-brown hair. She wore light make-up, with her trademark rose earrings and a simple diamond pendant, a gift from her parents on her ninth birthday, adorned her neck.

Stunned, Ami stood there unable to think.

"Do you like it?" Makoto asked shyly.

Jolted from her catatonic state, Ami had uncharacteristically blurted, "Yes!" As she'd seen Makoto's smile, she'd said, "This is wonderful! I can't believe you went to all this trouble. Oh Mako, it's absolutely beautiful! And you," She swallowed, tears coming to her eyes as her voice came in a whisper. "You take my breath away."

Makoto had taken her in her arms and gently kissed her lips. Are you hungry?" she asked with a sexy smile.

"Uh-huh," Ami had managed in a daze.

"Then hurry up and get dressed!" She'd teased.

After a quick change into something better suited for the importance of the evening, Ami had returned to share the wonderful meal her Mako had prepared for them. As great as it was, she just couldn't take her eyes off of her beautiful partner. It was funny, she mused, that while others may call her plain, to her, Makoto was beauty itself. But then she knew she saw Mako through the eyes of love and as such, she would always be perfection to her.

At the end of the meal, Makoto had given her a glass of champagne and offered a toast.

"To us, and our first year together. May it be the first of many, many more," she'd said, her eyes sparkling in the candlelight.

"Hear, hear...," Ami had quickly agreed and together they had touched glasses, entwined their arms and drank to seal the toast.

"Here," Makoto said. "I have something for you."

Ami frowned. "Makoto! I thought we agreed to hold off on gifts except for birthdays and Christmas until we're out of school."

"You're right Ami, we did. But," she gave a sly little grin, "I lied!"

"Makoto! Sweetheart, I didn't get you anything!" Ami wailed.

"Sh-h-h! Don't worry about it, love! You may not even like this old thing," she said as she produced a small black box from behind her back.

Ami had looked at that tiny black box in Makoto's outstretched hand like it was the most fascinating thing she had ever seen...but was afraid it might bite her!

"Go on," Makoto had encouraged her, an eager twinkle in her eyes. "Open it."

With trembling hand, Ami had reached out and taken the box. Eyes wide, she had opened the hinged lid and could not avoid the tiny gasp that escaped her lips or the tears that began to slowly slide down her cheeks.

Inside was a ring. A sturdy-looking gold band that was set with several channel cut emeralds cut in the shape of lightening bolts.

"Oh Makoto," Ami whispered. It was all she could manage as Makoto had gently taken her left hand. Kissing her ring finger, Makoto had looked deeply into her eyes, said "Forever," and slipped the ring into place...

Ami looked down at her hand and smiled as the emerald lightening bolts winked back at her. Lost in her thoughts of that special night, she almost missed her stop and hurried to gather her things. As she exited the bus, she became aware of the fresh breeze and the smell of the rain-washed pavement. She couldn't help but smile again.

She was almost home.

Tonight would also be a special night. It was two years now since they had first moved in together, and this time she was prepared. As the elevator took her to their floor, she ran down her list. This time she would be ready, and she had told Makoto so as well.

1-A corsage of fresh, pink orchids would be delivered at 6:20pm.
2-Haruka would pick them up in a limo at
6:40pm.
3-They had reservations at Makoto's all-time favorite restaurant at
7:00pm.
4-Minako-chan would enter the apartment with two dozen red roses to decorate their room at
8:00pm (or else!)
5-They would return home by
9:00pm.
6-After that...well...

Entering their bedroom, Ami walked to the closet to check out her new dress. Cut in the classical style, it was evening length and perfectly matched the sparkling sapphire-blue of her eyes...as well as something else...she hoped Makoto would approve.

Later that night when they at last returned home, Ami couldn't have been happier with the way the evening had progressed. Everything had gone off as planned. Makoto had loved the beautiful pink orchids! Haruka had been there at 6:40pm on the very dot, complete with black uniform and chauffeurs cap! Ami had laughed, not knowing she would go that far, but Haruka had explained that Michiru would never let her set foot outside the house without being properly attired for any event! The restaurant was lovely and a quick glance inside their room confirmed that Minako-chan had done her job, and done it well...love senshi that she was!

That left only one last thing.

"So," Ami began. "Did you enjoy yourself tonight?"

"How could I not," Makoto exclaimed, her happiness evident in her sparkling eyes. "It was a perfect evening and I love you for sharing it with me."

Ami smiled brightly at her words and answered, "I love you to Mako, so very much, but there's still one last little bit of business we have to take care of before we can retire for the evening."

Makoto moved forward to take the smaller girl in her arms. "Are you sure it can't wait until morning, Ami-love," Makoto whispered softly in her ear as she began to trail kisses in a firm, but gentle line down the side of her neck.

Swallowing convulsively as she felt her heart-rate increase, Ami stuck to her convictions and gently pulled away.

"No...I mean YES, I'm sure it can't wait," she said as Makoto grinned at her momentary confusion.

"Okay love," Makoto said, putting forth the effort to get serious again. "What's so important it can't wait, tonight of all nights?"

"This," Ami said, holding out a small black box. "It's my turn."

Stunned, Makoto stared at the tiny black box, then smiled. "I guess I really shouldn't be all that surprised," she said. "So, is this a case of 'turnabout being fair play'?"

"You know it!" Ami responded, a large grin spreading across her adorable face. "Now here! Take this thing before I drop it or something!"

Reaching out, Makoto took the tiny box in her hand and cracked it open. With her first glance inside, her other hand involuntarily went to her mouth to cover the sobs as she gazed at its contents.

It was, of course, a ring. A sturdy-looking gold band that was set with several channel cut sapphires all cut in the shape of icicles, very closely resembling the lightening bolts on Ami's own ring.

She was speechless. All she could do was stare at the ring, her mind and spirit moved by the beauty of not the ring itself, but what it symbolized.

"Do you like it?" Ami asked, breaking the silence of the room.

"Oh Ami," was all Makoto could manage. "My Ami-love."

With that charming, quiet smile that was all her own, Ami stepped forward and took Makoto's left hand. Kissing her ring finger, Ami captured Makoto's eyes with her own, trying desperately to say with them all they were both too moved to say with words. "Forever," she whispered, and slipped the ring into place.

And so it was.

The journey home was now, and forever, complete.