Third First Breaths

Mercury

Ami Mizuno wakes to a scream that, despite months lazing incorporeal in a galactic cauldron, sends her shooting out of bed and fumbling for her Sailor pen. Halfway through the transformation though she sees her mother staring at her, hand over her heart and face as pale as chalk. Ami discards her transformation pen and reaches for a blanket instead, pulling it around her naked shoulders.

It was then that she sees her mother blink. Hard.

"You're not dead!" Her mother, she realizes, is wearing Ami's robe and slippers, and Ami's journal is sitting open on the desk chair.

"What time is it?" Ami asks, for lack of anything else to say. Her eyes watch her mother step closer, holding her hands out as though to touch her. Saeko Mizuno's wrinkling hands shake as she steps forwards.

"It's Midnight…December 23. I just...How are you here. I just left your room. The tea –" she steps right up to Ami and her eyes drink in her daughter's features as her hands hesitantly come up to touch her cheeks, her eyelids her lips. Ami waits when she pauses there, fingers pressed over Ami's mouth. She realizes what her mother, the doctor, is doing and takes her wrist, guiding her hand away from Ami's lips to her neck and pressing two of her mother's fingers to her pulse. She feels the artery throb under the slight pressure. Not dead, it reminds them both. Not dead.

"I'm sorry mom." Ami gasps when her mother collapses, sobbing as they both cling to each other. "I can explain."

"You're one of the scouts," Saeko sobs. "I figured it out in your journals…Oh! I thought you were dead."

"I'm sorry," she says again. There's not much else she knows how to explain.

"Don't you dare run off like that again, Ami Mizuno."

Over her mother's shoulder, Ami sees the broken teacup that's fallen in the doorway, the wastebasket full of tissues and the box of them on the desk. "I'll try not to."

It's the closest Ami's been to her mother in…ever. Since her father left anyway. She feels, for a moment, confused, then leans into the hug, and lets herself hope.

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