Chapter One

"You guys, shh. He's about to come in."

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh."

"Oh! There he is!"

"He's so kawaii."

"Kawaii? Yuki-chan, how can you even think that? Kawaii? Kawaii is for your teddy bear. Chiba Mamoru is hot! Not only that, but he's the hottest thing alive!"

"Agreed. He could beat out the sun any day. Kioko-chan, you are a genius."

"I know, dear. I know."

"You guys, what's he saying?"

"Huh? He's saying something? Wow."

"I guess so. His voice is so nice."


I rolled my eyes at my friends' antics as they stared dreamily at the television screen. Or rather, the ebony-haired boy on the television screen.

"Kuri-chan, freeze it!"

Immediately the long haired brunette raised her hand and frantically pushed down on the pause button of the remote she held. All action on the television stopped, a close up of Chiba Mamoru filling the view. A chorus of sighs followed.

I couldn't resist it any longer. I gave into the oh-so-sweet temptation of gagging. It was so sad, so sappy. so utterly pathetic.

The three swooning girls sitting next to me snapped their heads towards my petite figure.

"What?" Kuri asked innocently.

"Do you guys realize how pathetic this is?" I questioned. "You're practically worshipping him like he's a god or something."

"He could be to me," Kioko commented with another sigh.

I rolled my eyes. "Uh-huh, whatever you say."

"What? An you don't think he's hot?"


"Not even just a little?"


"Not even just a teeny-weeny, little bit."

"Well," I hesitated as I sneaked a quick glance at the screen. "I guess he is just a little bit kawaii."

I winced inwardly. 'Nice going, Tsukino. Way to go get 'em."

"I'm glad you're finally beginning to see the light, Usagi-chan," Kioko smugly stated, a twinkle in her emerald eyes. "Although, Kawaii is-"

"I know, I know. Kawaii is for teddy bears. Mamoru is hot," I recited with minuscule enthusiasm. "But seriously, you're all completely infatuated with the guy yet you know nothing about him other than the fact that he somewhat good-looking."

"Birthday, August third."

"Favourite food, chocolate."

"Favourite colour, black."

"Favourite class, physics."

"Favourite flower, rose."

"Blood type, A."

I groaned. " I meant his personality. For all we know he could be some crazy, two-faced, moronic, annoying, insane, self-centered, maniacal, egotistical freak-of-nature that only pretends to be nice in interviews for publicity. Remember? 'Look like th' innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't. Don't you remember?"

The trio watched in silence as they waiting for me to take a breath. After giving me some time to recover, Kuri spoke.

"I doubt it," she said simply, "and please don't quote Macbeth anymore. It brings back bad memories." She shivered as if to emphasize her point. Then she grinned. "Besides, Mamoru's too cute for that."

And with that, Kuri, Kioko, and Yuki turned their attention back to the movie.

Glancing at the screen, I stared hard and long at the profile of the debated man in an attempt to see what they saw. But there was no such luck.

'Yup,' I smiled inwardly to myself. 'Probably just a complete, egotistical jerk.'

More dreamy sighs from the other girls broke my train of thought.

There was just way too much sighing going on today.

- - -

"Be sure to call me tonight, okay?" I said as my house came into view. "I want all the details."

"Of course, I'll call you," Yuki replied. "I wouldn't dream of doing anything else. Sorry you can't some with us to the concert."

I sighed. "Me too, but what can you do. My parents really wanted me to say home tonight. Even though I don't really know what yet, they wouldn't have called me at school id it wasn't a big deal. Oh well, there'll be another Three Lights concert someday."


We finally reached my driveway. "Well, I gotta go now. I'll talk to you later, okay?" Yuki nodded. "Ja!"

"Ja ne, Usagi-chan!"

Yuki continued on towards her own home. Meanwhile, I turned off the sidewalk and onto the stone path leading up to our front porch. I slipped my hand into the pocket of my navy blue skirt. After digging around for a second, I found my key and pulled it out. Carefully I slid it into the brass lock of the front door. I was about to turn it clockwise when the door opened, causing me to momentarily lose me balance.

I immediately look up to see who had beaten me to opening the door, only to be greeted by a pair of laughing midnight blue eyes that I didn't recognize. Confusion was an understatement.

Taking a step back, I checked the house number beside the door. The stranger chuckled.

"Don't worry. You've got the right house." He smiled, revealing a perfect set of pearly whites.

Suspiciously I raised my right eyebrow. He didn't look that much older than me, maybe just a few years.

Retrieving my key from the lock, I lightly pushed my way past the young man and into the house. I slipped off my shoes, then placed them off to the side where some other pairs had already been put.

I glanced up again. The stranger was still watching me. I made a quick face to let him know that I had noticed his staring before striding off to the kitchen. Not surprisingly, he followed me.

I set my suitcase down next to a stool and headed towards the refrigerator. Cool air swam out at me as I opened the freezer to pull out a box of cheese cake. Strawberry cheesecake. Mm-mm, good. Nothing beats strawberries. Nothing.

Carefully I placed a slice on a small, white plate which I carried to the kitchen island.

"So," I began, acknowledging the dark-haired young man, "who are you?"

I nonchalantly took a bite of the tempting treat set before me.

I waited for his answer, but none came. Puzzled, I switched my gaze up. Shock was plastered all over his face.

"What?" I asked defensively. "Haven't you ever seen a girl eat cheesecake before?"

"Yes-wait no! I mean yes, of course I have."

"Then what's with the 'You Crazy' look?" I asked.

Man, this guy was getting weird.

"I guess I just though that you would recognize me."

Oh-kay, scratch that idea. The guys was insane.

"Riight," I said, "but you never answered my original question."

"What question."

"The one about who you are."

"Oh yeah," he paused before he continued. "You mean you really don't know who I am?"

"No, so who are you?" I repeated. Annoyance was starting to creep up on me.

His replied was short. "Chiba Mamoru."

"Chiba Mamoru. Chiba. Chiba." I quietly repeated the name to myself. It did sound vaguely familiar.

I inspected 'Chiba Mamoru' closely for the first time that day. My eyes unconsciously squinted slightly. Tall. Deep Blue eyes. Nicely built. Ebony hair. Chiba.

Suddenly it clicked. "The actor guy?" It was more of a statement than a question."

"Yeah," Mamoru smiled. "The actor guy."

"So what would the great almighty Chiba Mamoru be doing in our humble town of Toya?"

"Actually, it was my mother's idea. She thinks that I've been getting too much stress from everything that's going on-acting, the media, school. you know, the works. And then last month, I came down with the flu. She went ballistic." He chuckled as he reminisced. "That's when she decided to put her foot down about me going on vacation. What was I supposed to do? She gave me the guilt trip.

"Anyway, turns out my mother and you mother have been best friends since childhood. They just haven't been able to meet lately because of distance and the fact that they both live pretty busy lifestyles. But, they still talk on the phone every once in a while. My mother mentioned the whole issue one day. Your mother though that Toya would be a great place to relax since it's outside of the media's focus. My mother heartily agreed and so boom. I'm here." Mamoru grinned. "It was a pretty last minute decision."

"Fun, fun." At least the guy wasn't a psycho. "You want some cheesecake?"

Mamoru eyed the half-eaten piece on my plate. "What kind is it?"

"Mom's homemade specialty. Strawberry and chocolate combo. It's good. You should try it," I recommended, taking another bite.

"Chocolate?" Mamoru's ears perked up. "You've got me sold. Sure, I'll have a piece please," he said, adding a thanks when I handed over the desired object.

I nodded in reply and watched as he took his first bite.

He closed his eyes, savouring the bite. "This is really good," he commented.

"Uh-huh," I agreed, once more talking another bite.

"You're Usagi, right?"

"Yeah, how did you know?" I asked in wonder. Even though I didn't worship him like my friends, I couldn't help but feel a tinge of pride that Chiba Mamoru, the highly acclaimed actor, knew my name.

"You mother told me. She also mentioned what you looked like that I'd know who you were when you came home." He gestured towards the family pictures surrounding the area. "Then I found those."

"Oh." I picked at my food with a fork and meekly continued, "Sorry about not introducing myself earlier. I guess I was just a little shocked."

"Hey, don't sweat it. It's not every day an unknown person pops up alone in your home when you return from school," he said cheerily. Then added in a low voice, "Or is it?" Mamoru wiggled his eyebrow.

I laughed lightly. "Nope not at all."

"That's what I thought." He winked.

Smiling, I turned my attention back to the cheesecake.

I was almost finished when Mamoru spoke again. "You know what?" He asked.


He paused for a moment, appearing to be in though. Then he chuckled and shook his head. "Never mind."


"Just forget I mention it, okay?" He replied, still donning a smirk.

"That's not fair!" I exclaimed. "You can't do that!"

"Of course I can." He grinned.








"Okay, okay. Time out," he finally gave in, holding his hands together to made a 'T.' "I was just thinking is all."

"Thinking about what?"

"Well," he hesitated, "don't take this the wrong way, but your hair reminds me a lot of odangos."

I instantly saw red. My cherished hairstyle had been insulted. "Odangos?!" I exclaimed.

"Hey," he threw his hands up," I meant it in a good way. If you just fixed a few things, you could be really big with guys. Do you have a boyfriend?"

My eyes widened. "Excuse me? Fix a few things? Maybe you should fix your brain first."

"I didn't mean it like that," Mamoru pleaded. "I just meant change a few things like a small makeover."

"You think I'm ugly?" I questioned in a low voice.

"Uh-uh," Mamoru said nervously, probably realizing he'd gotten himself into hot water. Actually, forget hot. Boiling is more like it. "Usagi-san, I didn't mean it like that. You're twisting my words. Look, I'm sorry, okay? I was just being stupid."

I shook my head slowly, realizing what was happening. "No," I said, dangerously calm, "it's okay. I shouldn't have jumped all over what you said. It's my fault."


"It's okay," I interrupted him. "Don't worry about it. Let's just forget about the whole things, okay."

Mamoru nodded mutely as I grabbed my suitcase which sat beside my stool. Silently, I pulled out some homework and began vigorously working. Mamoru was left to stare around the room.

It was a relatively large kitchen with wooden cabinetry. Okaasan always loved maple wood. Adjoining it was an open dining area which had an entire wall of glass, a combination of a sliding door and full-sized window pannels. That had been Otousan's idea. The glass wall overlooked a huge backyard for a house in Japan. It was complete with a playground set and a pool surrounded by cherry blossom and Japanese maple trees. I always loved watching the trees during the spring from the kitchen. Even the most gentle breeze would create a rain of pale petals.

It remained like that for the next few hours; me studying and Mamoru glancing aimlessly around the room. Every once in a while I would feel his gaze land on me, but it was be gone as quickly as it had come.

At about half past six, I heard the garage door open and a car pull in. I figured my parents were home.

It wasn't long until my brother, a small boy of about ten, came barreling into the room. He headed straight for Mamoru after giving me a wave.

"It's true! It's true!" he shouted. "Mika's gonna freak when I tell her! Wow. A real, live actor living in our house. This is so cool!" My little brother enthusiastically stuck out his hand. "My name's Shingo, by the way."

Mamoru chuckled and shook Shingo's hand. "I'm Chiba Mamoru."

My brother's brown eyes lit up like the Tokyo Tower at night. "I already know that! Your face is everywhere, Chiba-san. You're the coolest!"

"Arigatou, Shingo-san, demo just call me Mamoru."

"Hai, Mamoru-san," Shingo obeyed, dazed with amazement. He raised his baseball glove which coveted a ball. "Wanna play?"

"Shingo, maybe you should let Mamoru rest first."

I turned my gaze towards the doorway to see my parents enter.

"Hai, Otousan," Shingo said disappointedly. His hand dropped to his side.

Mamoru stood from his stool and mother greeted him with a hug. "Oh, you've grown so much since I last saw you. I hope the ride wasn't too bad."

The ebony-haired man smiled as he engaged in a conversation with my parents. The more they talked, the more interesting my homework became. Something that very rarely happened, but you know what they say; There's a first time for everything.

"Domo arigatou for letting me stay here," I heard Mamoru say. "If you don't mind, I think I'll take up Shingo-san's offer. I've been resting since I got here."

"Really?" My little brother asked incredulously. The excitement was returning to him.

"Sure," Mamoru replied.

My father gave his approval and the two headed out the sliding door. When they left, I finally looked up from my paper. I spun a pencil between my fingers wile I watched. They ran out into an open area close to the far end of the yard. Then the two began to toss the baseball back and forth.

'Yup,' I sighed, 'definitely and egotistical jerk. Definitely.'

And with that thought in mind, I turned back to the math equations that were laid out in front of me.