Jeez! I'm SO sorry I haven't updated in months. Stupid life and its stupid way of getting in the freakin' way all the time. *massive sigh*

So, it's actually been oh… YEARS since I started this fic. I'm amazed that I've managed to carry it this far really. Makes me wonder if I should just pull it and maybe re-post it if I ever actually finish it. It makes me sad/irritates me that I have all these old fics that I've not finished/may never finish. I feel that I was much more creative years ago when I started them and that I just don't write as well as I used to. That mess makes it a touch difficult to continue the flow and such.

Even so, look at me…still attempting updates. XD Valiant efforts, I tell you!

I want to thank all you good people for actually taking time to read this fic and to leave reviews. You guys rock so hard and I really appreciate you! Thanks!

Now, this is somewhat of a filler chapter (and it's LOOOONG, too) but it had to be done. Yup.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters of Sailor Moon. Awwww… *cries*

X-O-X-O-X-O-X

At long last, the day arrived, Serena's eyes fluttering open, soon granted with a beautiful sight. Ocean blue eyes came into focus before her, a smirk gracing Darien's lips before his head bowed, the man nearly intoxicating her with his kiss before pulling back to hover over her once more.

"Happy birthday," he told her, a smile spreading across her face. Her arms reached for him, lacing around his torso before pulling him down upon her, her lips touching his for a long moment before she broke away, his forehead resting against hers.

"This is a nice way to wake up," she noted, his arm slipping around her waist while his other hand was busy pulling down the sheet between them.

"Is it?" he wondered, his tongue touching her bottom lip, the raven haired man soon eliciting a soft moan from his consort as he plundered her mouth, her arms clinging to him tightly

"It really, really is," she assured him, nearly breathless from his kiss and unable to part from his lips for very long.

"Then you're gonna' love this," he told her, Serena soon losing herself to his touch as he proceeded to wake her up properly, her cries dying against his mouth long into the morning.

X-O-X-O

"Morning, birthday girl," Andrew welcomed, the blond sprite emerging from Darien's bedroom with her lanky companion trailing closely behind her, a smirk upon his face.

"Starting the day right, I see," her cousin mumbled, she and Darien flopping down on the couch next to him, Serena rolling her eyes as she punched him in the arm.

"Hey, hey! No abusing me," Andrew protested, "or I'm not going to be a nice guy and show you a good time tonight."

"Say what?" she exclaimed, her brows furrowing as she wondered exactly what her cousin was up to this time.

"Little girl, you and I are going to Antonio's tonight. Then, we're going to tear this town up until you can't take it anymore," he informed her, her smile returning immediately.

"Drew, you're a case, you know that? But I love ya'," she said, throwing her arms around his neck and nearly squeezing the life right out of him. He glanced at Darien over her shoulder, giving him a wink before beginning to ruin him.

"Well, somebody's got to be reliable around here," he began, Darien rolling his eyes as the drama continued.

"Huh?" Serena wondered, pulling back as she puzzled over her cousin's words.

"Since this one over here's not gonna' be around, I'll just have to make sure you enjoy yourself tonight," Andrew told her, gesturing to the somewhat annoyed man next to her on the couch.

"Hey, he can't exactly ditch work, right? So no biggie. I'll just have to see if you've still got it…or if you're too old to keep up," she teased, Andrew "hmphing" in response.

"I'll make you eat those words, Sere," he warned, Darien at last chiming in.

"Why do I feel offended?" he wondered, rewarded with the sound of her laughter floating around him.

"You'll be old like us soon enough," Andrew griped, his head rising as the doorbell rang. Curious, he got to his feet, Darien taking advantage of the situation and hauling the blond nymph by his side onto his lap, his hand wasting no time before slipping beneath her shirt. Her eyes darted to Andrew's retreating form, watching him disappear before giving in to her consort's advances. She was positively pliant in his grip, her hands gripping his shoulders as his head bowed, his lips beginning to trail along the smooth column of her neck, his teeth nipping at her skin.

"Darien, he's going to see us," she tried, only to have a soft moan escape her as his hand molded to one breast, his other arm pulling her in tightly against the front of him.

"He'll get over it if he does," he retorted, his hands fluently pulling her shirt over her head before returning to their explorations. His lips trailed along her collarbone before flowing between her breasts, the man entertaining the idea of tossing her over his shoulder and taking her back to the haven of his room in order to continue ravaging her.

"God, Darien," she breathed. "You should stop before I'm begging you not to."

"Where's the fun in that?" he wondered, holding her close as his fingers anchored in her hair, bringing her lips to his and taking her very breath away. She clung desperately to him, feeling her body surrendering totally to his wicked assault, knowing full well that there was no resisting his touch.

They were interrupted as the sound of someone clearing their throat cut the air, followed by a familiar voice calling her name.

"Serena?"

Her head snapped up, her eyes wild as her senses struggled to return, her mind putting the situation together rapidly. Oh, God. Oh, holy…

She realized that she was sitting astride her lover in her bra, his face buried in her chest before he too looked over to assess the interruption, his heart nearly skipping a beat or five as her words left her.

"Oh, my God. Mom? Dad?"

X-O-X-O

The five sat around the living room, Ilene and Kevin Draven occupying the loveseat as they looked at the three young people sitting on the couch without humor, their daughter's cheeks having turned roughly seven shades of red after she and her consort had been caught in the act several minutes prior.

Andrew, having realized that some damage control was needed, stepped up to bat, effectively garnering his aunt and uncle's attention.

"Well, this is certainly a surprise. How've you two been? It's been what, over a year since I saw you?" he began, Kevin pushing his glasses up with his index finger as Ilene answered.

"Something like that. We've been meaning to visit sooner, but work's been quite hectic for both of us, so we just couldn't get away. That and Sammie's going through the terrible twos again at the age of fourteen, so it's been hard to find the right time. We thought it best that he stay home this time because we didn't want you two to fight. But we thought that since our baby girl is turning eighteen that it'd be a wonderful time to come down. Perhaps we should've waited," Ilene noted, Serena soon waving her hand.

"Don't be silly. Of course we're glad to have you, Mom. How was the trip down?" she wondered, Darien noticing her father staring a hole right through him as her mother continued.

"Oh, the usual. Your father slept for most of the ride," she revealed, Kevin clearing his throat once more before at last commandeering the conversation.

"So, Serena…who's your 'friend'?" he asked bluntly, her parents awaiting an answer.

She swallowed hard, feeling the lump growing in her throat as she struggled to find the words she wished to speak. Before she could answer, her consort, being unabashed as usual, took hold of her hand before giving his response.

"I'm Darien. It's nice to meet you both. I'm the guy that's seeing your daughter," he informed them, Kevin's jaw clenching as Ilene smiled.

"Nice to meet you as well, Darien. So, have you two been dating long?" her mother continued, her questioning quickly becoming annoying, her daughter wishing for an entirely different set of circumstances.

"Er…no, not especially long," Serena managed, Darien squeezing her hand as her parents continued staring them down.

"Really? Well, that's…" Ilene began, the flustered voice of her husband cutting her off.

"Then what in the hell were you just doing to my daughter, you lecher?" Kevin nearly growled, Andrew scratching the back of his head nervously as the atmosphere became tenser by the second.

"Dad, stop it," Serena demanded, her cheeks hot once again as she sighed mightily. What an incredible nuisance. It's not as if she wasn't thrilled to see her parents. She'd not been granted the opportunity in months, since they lived so far away and since they'd all been so busy. But this was definitely not how she wanted to introduce Darien to them.

"Sooo…anybody want anything to drink?" Andrew chimed in, Kevin the first to respond.

"Scotch," he answered, getting to his feet.

"We'll come with you. I'd like a word, if I may," Ilene said, she and Kevin following Andrew until the troupe disappeared into the kitchen, leaving a mortified Serena alone with her dark haired companion. After a moment she turned to him, resting her head in her hands.

"Dear God," she muttered, wishing that a giant hole would appear for her to crawl into.

"Guess I fucked this up pretty well, didn't I?" Darien wondered, releasing a heavy sigh as the pair continued to sit, a bit dazed and at a loss for the appropriate words. After a time, she responded, the girl moving to lean against him, his arm coming up around her shoulders.

"Nope. We both did a pretty good job of that. This entirely sucks," she noted, wondering what dastardly things were being discussed behind their backs in the next room.

X-O-X-O

"Andrew, is this your doing?" Kevin demanded, downing his drink in one gulp and leaving his nephew and wife blinking in response.

"Woah, woah," Andrew said, holding up his hands in an act of peace.

"I mean, yeah, the reason they met was because I had Serena come to sing for us, but the rest I had nothing to do with. Believe me, I wasn't enthused about it in the beginning either, but if you just watch them…watch how they look at each other, you'll see…"

"Isn't he the one that's notorious for burning through women left and right? He's the guitarist, right?" Kevin asked, Andrew sighing as he nodded. Damn him and his big mouth. Why the hell had he told his family such a thing about his best friend?

"Look, Darien hasn't had the best track record in the past, but I'm telling you. This time, something's totally different. He's really stuck on Sere. I've never seen him like this over a woman before," he divulged, Ilene patting him on the arm.

"Well, that's good news, anyway. I just wasn't expecting to see that when we walked in," she noted, the sight of her baby girl being devoured by a man they'd never met burned into her mind.

"Yeeeeah," Andrew drawled, offering Kevin another drink, which he readily took.

"Well, I suppose it's none of our business anyway," Ilene said, still sounding a bit perturbed despite her words.

"Sere's not a kid anymore, Ilene. She hasn't been for a very long time and she's not stupid. And as for Darien, he's an awesome guy…and I know for a fact that he really digs her. You've got nothing to worry about," he assured them, knowing full well that his words wouldn't be enough to satisfy them.

"But that aside, I'm glad you guys came for her birthday. We've got something planned for tonight, if you'd like to come," he began, before filling his aunt and uncle in on the events in store for their daughter.

X-O-X-O

The three reemerged from the kitchen, Darien's arm still around Serena's shoulders as they came to a stop before them. She could swear she saw a tick in her father's eye as he downed the rest of the drink in his hand before handing the empty glass to Andrew.

"Well dear, we have to run. I'm a bit tired from the ride here and I'd like to rest for a while," Ilene told her daughter, who was quick to give her invitation, she and her lover both rising to their feet.

"Afterward, you guys should come with Drew and I for dinner," she said, trying to salvage what little remained of the wrecked situation she found herself facing.

"That sounds wonderful, dear. Will you be joining us as well, Darien?" her mother wondered, playing along with what her nephew had told them earlier.

"Unfortunately, no. I have to work tonight," he lied, Kevin quick to grill the man once again.

"And where is it that you work?" her father asked, Darien not hesitating to give his response.

"At the Underground downtown. I'm a bartender there," he revealed, Serena cringing inwardly as she saw the look crossing her father's face.

"A bartender. Well, isn't that…" he began, only to be abruptly cut off by his much more laid back wife.

"Well, it's been nice seeing you all. I hope we'll get to see more of you during our visit, Darien. We'll see you later, Serena," she said, giving her daughter a squeeze as she made her way towards the door, her husband patting Serena on the shoulder before following his wife, casting one last sideways glance at Darien.

The raven haired man, never one to be intimidated, only offered a smirk in response, his hand coming to rest upon the curve of his companion's hip as they watched her parent's disappear. Hearing the door shut behind them, Andrew let loose the breath he'd been holding before flopping down on the couch, leaning his head back before pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Well, that was fan-fuckin'-tastic," he groaned, a chuckle escaping his best friend.

"And what the hell are you laughing about?" Andrew asked, Serena wondering if her companion had lost it.

"Don't be such a spaz, Drew," he told him, the sandy haired man sitting up abruptly. He eyed Darien warily, his thoughts wandering along much the same lines as his cousin.

"I hate to break it to you, man, but you didn't make the best impression just now. Serena, your dad…"

"He'll get over it. He was just surprised, that's all. Dad's not really that bad, Darien," she said, the man shrugging his shoulders.

"No big deal. Anybody would've reacted that way, I guess. I mean, a guy sees a stranger heading to second base with his daughter and he's not gonna' be very happy. I'll make it up to you," he promised, leaning over to kiss her cheek.

"Glad you're able to keep calm and carry on," Serena muttered, her companion still seemingly amused by her distress.

"I told you, I'll make it up to you," he said again, turning her face towards him and delivering a devastating kiss that left Andrew nearly ill in its wake.

"Ok, I need to get out of here before you two forget I'm here," he grumbled, Serena rolling her eyes.

"Sere, why don't you go do something fun? Since we're moving our shit tomorrow, we can skip practice for today. Just be back here in time to get ready for dinner at seven," Andrew told her, receiving a salute in response.

"Yes, sir!" she replied, turning to her consort.

"You wanna' come? I could use the company," she said, an odd pang shooting through him as he delivered his reply.

"I'd love to but I've got a lot to get done today. I'll have to help you celebrate when I get home tonight," he told her, a chill running through her as a score of deviant possibilities ran through her mind. Still, she was a bit disappointed by his words, though she made a valiant effort to disguise it.

"Ok," was all she could manage as she rose, Darien's fingers encircling her wrist, pulling her back down in order for him to bid her a proper farewell. Her head swimming, she was at last able to escape his grasp, delivering her goodbyes to them both before grabbing her bag and disappearing out the door, leaving the two men to hatch the rest of their diabolical plans.

"Ouch. I bet that sucked for you," Andrew noted, his friend ignoring him entirely.

"So, tonight's the night. Everything ready on your end?" Andrew continued, receiving a nod in response.

"Ok, lets see. We've got music, booze, food, a shit ton of people and a place to crash. That should about cover it, right? I've even got a couple of special guests lined up," Andrew noted, Darien's eyebrow rising as his curiosity grew.

"Really? Who?" he wondered, though his friend was intent on keeping his secret just that.

"You'll see. Oh, by the way…I heard you met Zane," he said, seeing Darien's mood darken almost automatically at the mere mention of his name.

"Word travels fast, huh?" he said, remembering the anger that had surged through him upon seeing Zane standing there with Serena in his arms. He couldn't recall ever being so floored before meeting the blond sprite that had managed to cause a total upset to his normally calm collection, the need to possess every last inch of her a bit disturbing to him. Still, he knew better than to allow the possessive nature she drew out of him to best him, for if it did, he understood the havoc it would wreak.

"I don't know the gory details or anything, just that he mentioned to Lita that he'd met you. You know the score, right?" Andrew asked, silent anger brewing in his friend's darkened eyes.

"Yeah, man. I know all about it. Thanks for reminding me," he griped, rising as he prepared to take his leave.

"So what happened?" he snooped, Darien sighing mightily.

"I don't really want to rehash it, if it's all the same to you. Let's just say it was entirely unpleasant and I don't want it to happen again," he replied, walking towards the door in order to escape the line of questioning that had ensnared him.

"I'm sorry to tell you this, but that guy's one persistent fucker. He really had the hots for her when they were dating. I think he's convinced that nothing has changed since he left. They were only fifteen, though, so maybe…"

"Thanks for that, but I'm not worried about it. I think I made it pretty clear that she's with me now. If he wants to contest it, he can be my guest," Darien told him, Andrew following him out the door.

"Oh yeah? Then why are you so pissed about it?" he wondered, his questions starting to annoy the hell out of him.

"Do you want to start something, on today of all damn days?" the raven haired man nearly growled, his friend at last relenting.

"Fine, whatever. I guess you really don't have anything to worry about. Sere's totally stuck on you, man. Don't ask me why, but she is," he said, Darien rolling his eyes.

"Don't you have anything better to do than point out what a bastard I am?" he asked, clapping his friend on the back.

"She could do worse," Andrew noted, the two sliding into Darien's car before the engine roared to life.

"That was too close to a compliment. You're slipping, man," Darien told him, before pulling onto the highway, his mind full of the girl that had managed to commandeer his every waking thought.

X-O-X-O

The day passed all too quickly, Serena having treated herself to lunch at a local restaurant and coffee afterwards before deciding to snag something nice to wear to her upscale destination of the night. After spending what seemed like an eternity trying on this and that, she'd at last come across the perfect outfit.

The black cocktail dress hugged her subtle curves in all the right places and was completed with spaghetti straps and an asymmetrical hemline that ran diagonally just above her knees. She'd marveled at herself in the dressing room mirror, wondering what she could do with her impossibly long hair for the evening ahead.

Now, she stood in the bathroom of the apartment wondering the same thing, having attempted several different styles and failed at each. At last she decided to simply straighten it, erasing any evidence of the natural wave it usually held. After applying her makeup, she stood looking at her smoky eyes and shining, glossy lips, her new dress clinging to her small form. She leaned down, zipping up her boots before making her way out to where Andrew awaited her.

She nearly lost it upon seeing him standing there in black bondage pants, a white button up shirt and a red tie. She noted that he wore his demolished old black boots to complete his ensemble, Serena linking her arm with his before beginning towards the door.

Darien had taken off for work earlier, apologizing to her again for being unable to spend the evening with her. Though it still bothered her, she realized that it couldn't be helped and was determined to enjoy her night despite the fact that it wouldn't be spent with the man that had effectively managed to win her over despite the pitfalls of her past.

"Damn, Sere. If Darien saw you right now, he'd be crackin' you over the head and dragging you to his room like a caveman," he noted, a laugh escaping his cousin as he locked the door behind them.

"That's so nice. He's not that bad," she said, "though that's probably not a huge exaggeration. You think he likes me or something?" she joked. This time it was Andrew's turn to laugh, the two beginning to descend the stairs arm in arm.

"Gee, I don't know. What gave you that idea?" he asked as they walked out into the night.

X-O-X-O

Antonio's was entirely packed, Andrew thankful he'd been able to reserve a table on such short notice as they were led by the matradee to their seats. Her parents joined them soon afterward, Kevin still seemingly a bit put off by the events that had transpired earlier in the day.

Totally ignoring his foul mood, Ilene chatted away merrily with her daughter and nephew, her face curious as she and her husband were made privy to some of the events that had led to Serena living at the former bachelor pad.

Kevin continued looking none too pleased as Serena relayed how her landlord had turned into a total pervert though she neglected to mention the abuse that she had dealt him.

"It's a good thing none of that furniture was yours. We'd have a hell of a time getting it out of there," her father noted, relieved that she'd been able to find a furnished apartment so he'd be spared having to carry it all up numerous flights of stairs.

"What about the rest of your things?" her mother asked, concerned.

"No big deal. I didn't take hardly anything with me when I came down here, so anything I needed I grabbed and took with me. None of the rest of it matters. Maybe he can sell it or whatever. I'm sure he'd love to make another buck off me," her daughter grumbled, taking a drink as her father assumed nosy mode. Stellar.

"So not only have you abandoned your apartment because your landlord's a pervert, but you've done it to live with three men, one of which seems to but a rather significant one himself. Is that about the gist of it?" he wondered, cursing under his breath as Ilene stomped his foot under the table.

"Dear, really. It's her birthday," she scolded, though her husband wouldn't be so easily overcome.

"I'm just trying to understand what's happening here," he protested, wondering how his wife could always be so laid back about everything that occurred.

"Look, Dad. It was only supposed to be temporary, but then Darien and I started dating and well…"

"Well? And about that, while we're at it. Of all the men out there, you had to choose a womanizer?" her father asked, her anger quick to flare.

"You don't know a thing about him, yet you're sitting there judging him," she said, her irritated father quick to respond.

"And you do? Tell me, what do you know about him, besides that he plays guitar, works in a bar and is notorious for being a lecher? Does that about cover your extensive knowledge of him?" he wondered, Serena quickly growing entirely fed up by the argument she'd been roped into.

Though she hated to admit it, he was right. She really didn't know that much about him. She'd revealed her own secrets to him but hadn't been made privy to anything about his past. The longer she sat pondering the fact, the more it ate away at her until at last she reached her boiling point, even her mother unable to restrain her as she voiced her opinion on the subject.

"Ok, fine. I may not know him inside and out, but I do know this: he's nothing like you're making him out to be…and last I checked, who I dated was absolutely none of your business. You've never made such a big deal about anyone else before, so I'd appreciate it to no end if you'd not start now," she nearly growled, her jaw clenched as her father gave his retort.

"You've never dated anyone so…"

"So what? Why don't you let me be the one to determine if I should be dating him or not?" she wondered, taken aback by what was said next.

"You'd be much better off with someone like Zane," her father said bluntly, her heart skipping a beat at the mention of his name. Andrew saw her fists clench, bracing for impact as his cousin's response was given.

"I am not fifteen anymore, so don't expect me to act like I am. If you don't want to accept Darien, that's fine, but I won't let you be rude to him just because you've chosen to from this ridiculous model of him you've created in your head without even speaking more than two sentences to him. Who I date is my business. You'd do well to remember that," she spat, her father pushing his glasses up from their position on the end of his nose as he sat back in his chair, feeling more than a bit put off by their conversation.

"And you, my dear, would do well to remember that we're the ones supporting you and that we no longer have to do that now that you're not fifteen anymore," he pointed out, her mother growing quite tired of the two battling one another at the table.

"Fine. Then don't send me any more money. I'll do fine without it," Serena said, Andrew swallowing hard as his aunt at last had enough.

"Kevin, for Christ's sake, it's her birthday," she ground out, the man finishing his wine before pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Indeed," was all he could manage, the tension in the air thick enough to be sliced through with a knife.

Ilene was first to gain her composure, pinching the bridge of her nose before beginning to smooth over the mess before her.

"You know how he gets, Serena. He's only got your best interests in mind," she told her, Serena's heart racing within her chest as her anger gradually began to ebb. She saw her mother proffer a long black box, the girl taking it in her hand as she eyed her parents warily.

"This is from us both. Go ahead an open it," she told her, her daughter doing as she bade.

Her eyes grew wide as she lifted the lid, revealing a check with a ridiculously large sum written upon it. Her breath caught, the girl looking from her mother to her father and back again.

"What…?"

"You're eighteen now, so we've decided to give you the money from your trust fund. We started it in order for you to go to college, but you're an adult now and we've decided that it's yours to do with what you wish. Happy birthday, honey," she said, amused by the shock gracing her daughter's face.

The exchange she'd just had with her father rang clearly in her mind, Serena feeling her cheeks warm as she sat, totally awestruck by their generosity, and yet feeling like a total heel for what she'd said only moments before.

"I…um…th…thank you," she managed, still entirely overwhelmed by their gift to her. She looked at her father, who sat silently watching her.

"Dad, I…" He held up his hand, effectively silencing her.

"Happy birthday, dear," he told her, only succeeding in making her feel even worse than she previously had.

"Thank you both…thank you."

X-O-X-O

Dinner continued on without any further drama, her parents taking their leave early and leaving Serena in Andrew's care. Still a bit perturbed, Serena had finished picking at her food in near silence, Andrew at last having had enough.

"You gonna' mope around for the rest of the night or what?" he wondered, the girl's head rising as he snapped her out of her momentary stupor.

"Sorry," she muttered, still in disbelief. This was the money they'd accumulated for her since before she was even born and they'd just left it all in her hands, leaving her feeling more than a bit overwhelmed.

"Don't be sorry, just snap out of it already! We haven't even started yet and you're already done. You will enjoy yourself tonight," he griped, the girl at last beginning to return to her usual self.

"You know, you really are a nice guy when you wanna' be," she noted, Andrew paying the bill before downing the last bit of his wine.

"I'm hurt. I'm a nice guy all the time," he teased, again taking her arm as they exited the swank restaurant.

"Now what are you up to?" Serena wondered, a devious smile touching her cousin's lips.

"Uh oh. I know that look," he said, knowing full well that he was up to something.

"What look? I told you we're tearing this town up tonight, so let's get to it," he said, pushing her along in front of him.

X-O-X-O

Darien stood behind the bar, downing a shot of whiskey as he continued to wait. It was nearly 10 o'clock and he'd been running around like a fool trying to make sure everything was in place for the night. Looking over at the small stage to the right, he noted that the band was set up and ready, the man having called upon some friends of theirs to provide the music for the night.

Suddenly, he heard the door open, Darien slipping into the back before the newcomers appeared.

Serena entered, followed closely by Andrew who could barely contain himself. Immediately noticing the vacancy of the normally crowded bar, she stopped, turning to her cousin with disbelief.

"Tell me you didn't…"

"Surprise!" came the shouts, a horde of people flooding out into the bar from the back, nearly scaring her witless. She clutched at Andrew's arm as she watched the seemingly endless stream of bodies flow into view, lead by none other than the raven haired man she'd longed to see for the entirety of the night.

"Oh my God, Drew, you did," she moaned, a ridiculous grin plastered upon his face. She watched as Darien strode forth before leaning down, his breath hot against her neck as he whispered in her ear.

"Happy birthday," he told her, tilting her chin up and delivering a breathtaking kiss. Cheers erupted from behind him, the girl feeling the heat rushing to her face as he pulled back, his smile enough to slay her.

"You guys are…you didn't have to…" she stammered, unable to convey what she so wished properly. He moved to stand by her side, his hand coming to rest upon her back as he gently pushed her towards the mob awaiting her. She immediately saw Chad, Raye and Lita, all smiling as the crowd began to disperse throughout the bar.

"Hey, guys," she greeted, Raye and Lita showering her with confetti in unison. She blinked a few times before laughter erupted from her, Serena throwing an arm around both their necks as she pulled them into a hug.

"Happy birthday, girl!" Lita exclaimed, the blond releasing them as more people began wishing her a happy birthday as they passed by, all of them looking stoked and in high spirits. She was surprised to hear the sound of a guitar piercing the air as the band began to play, her mouth then dropping as she realized two familiar faces emerging from the depths of the throng of people milling about.

"Oh, shit! No way!" Serena cried, dashing forward and nearly knocking the blue haired girl down as she launched herself at her.

"Amy, Mina! How on Earth…?" she asked, the blond known as Mina placing an exaggerated kiss upon the side of her head as Amy hugged her back.

"It's Drew's fault. He told us about the party and we just couldn't pass up seeing you turn 18. It's going to be epic, I'm sure," Amy said, finally releasing her old friend as Mina began being nosy as usual.

"So, sweets…who's the hottie you were just makin' out with?" she wondered, Serena turning to find the object of her questioning to be smirking back at her a few feet away. She reached out to him, the man coming to stand by her side.

"This is Darien. Darien, meet Mina and Amy. They're my best friends from back home," she told him, Darien extending his hand to Mina before doing the same to Amy.

"My pleasure," he said, a half smile touching Amy's lips. So this is why they hadn't heard much from her lately.

"Likewise," Amy said, Andrew coming to flank his cousin, Lita under his arm. Chad and Raye joined them as well, and soon Amara and Michelle also appeared, the introductions continuing for several minutes until everyone was acquainted with one another. When it came time for Serena to formally meet Amara and Michelle, she smiled as Amara extended her hand. She bowed over Serena's hand, kissing it softly as Darien's arm snaked around her waist from behind, chills immediately dancing up her spine.

"Nice to meet you at last. I'm Amara, and this is my lady Michelle. We were at the show the other night, but we didn't get the chance to actually speak to you. Hopefully, we'll get to remedy that," she said with a wink, Michelle offering a bright smile.

"Thank you for being here. I'm glad you could make it," Serena said, all her friends and new acquaintances looking on as Darien pressed a kiss to her neck, every nerve in her body seeming to spark at once, his arm tightening about her waist as she felt his chest pressing against her back.

"Well, then. Let's get this party started, shall we?" Andrew asked, elbowing Darien soon afterward.

"That's your cue, man. Hook us up, will ya'?" Darien took his companion's hand, pulling her along behind him as he called over his shoulder.

"Who wants what?" he asked, beginning one of his duties for the night.

X-O-X-O

The night seemed to fly by, Serena sitting with friends old and new as she caught up with Mina and Amy and got to know Amara and Michelle. Darien spent much of the night making drinks for the party goers before handing the duty off to another bartender and making his way over to where Serena sat chatting away about this and that.

He slid in behind her on the bench she sat upon, plunking another Jack and Coke onto the table before her. His arms went around her waist, his chin coming to rest on her shoulder as the others looked on.

"Having fun?" he wondered, a smile touching her lips.

"Yeah, I am. Thanks for this, you guys. I usually don't like things like this, but this is nice. I'm glad you thought of me," she said, his whisper sending shivers racing through her.

"I always think of you," he whispered, her hand coming to rest upon one of his. She turned, speaking over her shoulder.

"I know the feeling," she told him, Darien kissing her softly, his arms tightening around her, unwilling to let her go. She turned back to her friends, beginning to down her drink.

"You guys are sly. I guess this is what all those 'errands' were for, huh?" she wondered, the band still filling the bar with loud rock.

"We're good like that. Don't let it blow your mind," Andrew said, his cousin laughing in response. '

"Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you guys. You're awesome," she told them, before continuing to enjoy her night, surrounded by her friends.

X-O-X-O

The night wore on into early morning, the party moving to the hotel a few blocks away that was owned by Amara's father. After retrieving the keys, the remaining group poured into the master suite, drunken antics soon ensuing.

Before long, Serena was running around tackling her friends, several impromptu wrestling matches ensuing, leaving the males in the room feeling more than a bit in need of a private audience with their respective companions.

At around 4 a.m., Andrew was forced to at last call it a night, having downed more shots than he could recall, Lita nearly dragging him off to their room as she bid farewell to her comrades.

Likewise, Amy and Mina each kissed Serena's cheek before retiring and Chad slung Raye over his shoulder for the short trek to their room, leaving Darien and Serena alone in the suite.

The raven haired man looked down, his lover curled up on the carpeted floor. He knelt beside her, clearing a golden strand of hair from her eyes.

"How drunk are you?" he asked, her hands reaching for him. She cradled his face between them, his hand moving to cover one of hers.

"Not that drunk. Just a little bit," she answered, pulling him closer, Darien hovering over her as his lips touched hers. Her tongue invaded his mouth, the taste of liquor flooding him, his instincts urging him on. Her hands were already working to rid him of his clothes, the girl managing to partially disrobe him before he pulled back, snagging her bottom lip lightly between his teeth before delivering his prognosis.

"I think you're a little too gone for me to take advantage of you," he said, a frown touching her lips. She sat up, her fingers tracing absent lines across his bare chest as she considered his words.

"I'm fine, Darien," she protested, her frown deepening as he got to his feet, leaving her sitting on her knees as she watched him digging around behind the table in the corner. He drew out a large canvas, bringing it back over to where she sat. He turned it around, her eyes growing wide as she took in the beautiful abstract oil painting he held in his hands. The colors were amazing, the painting speaking volumes as she stared at it.

"Oh, God. That's beautiful," she said, the man pleased that she seemed to like her gift.

"It's for you," he revealed, her mouth dropping open soon afterward.

"Seriously? Thank you," she told him, still enthralled by the lovely painting before her.

"Michelle painted it. I've had to be stealthy meeting her so you wouldn't catch on," he said, her mind quickly putting things together, relief washing over her.

"Did you meet her a few days ago?" she asked, Darien sitting the painting aside as he knelt beside her once more.

"Yeah. Why do you ask?"

"When I met up with you, I smelled perfume on you. To be honest, it kinda' freaked me out. I guess that was her on the phone, too," she noted, his hand coming to rest upon the side of her neck.

"What did you think I was doing?" he wondered, a bit wounded by her words.

"I…I don't know. I mean…we don't really even know each other, do we? And yet, here we are," she said, his thumb trailing across her bottom lip.

"I'll tell you anything you want to know, Serena. If it'll make you trust me, then…"

"I do trust you. And I want to know everything about you. I want you to trust me, too," she told him, lacing her arms around his neck as he rose, lifting her in his arms and carrying her to the large bed against the far wall. He laid her down, his hands moving to unzip her dress before peeling it off her, leaving her in just a bit of black lace.

She was the most beautiful sight he'd ever witnessed, his fingers tracing along her naked skin, hearing her sigh as he continued his exploration.

"You're so beautiful. Every time I touch you, I know I'll never be able to get enough of you," he told her, his head lowering, lips trailing along her stomach.

"I hope not," she said, her fingers tangling in his ebony hair as she held him to her, his lips still paying homage to her. Serena felt herself rapidly sobering under his hands, not wanting to ruin the time she was spending with him.

"Serena…if I tell you this, I'm afraid you'll…" he trailed off, her fingers brushing along his cheek.

"You can tell me anything," she all but whispered, allowing him to pull her onto his lap, his arm around her waist, holding her close. His bare skin was warm against hers, Darien unable to keep himself from kissing her, quickly becoming carried away before he stopped himself.

"What is it?" she asked, concern swirling in her eyes as she awaited his answer. He took a deep breath, preparing himself.

"I'm going to tell you where I come from."

X-O-X-O

Ok, there's that. This ended up being longer than I thought it'd be, but that's ok I suppose. Sorry there was no hot lemony action in this chapter. I'll make it up to you later, don't worry. Hehehe. And I've never had one, so I have no idea how trust funds actually work, but that's how THIS one's gonna' work.

Anyway, thanks for continuing to read this fic. I appreciate you all! I'll probably come back and change things at some point, but for now this is what I've got.

Chapter 10 will be a while coming, I'm sure. I'm not able to update as often as I used to but I'll keep trying to come up with new chapters. Oh, and let me know if you spy anything funky and I'll fix it. Later!

*Cosmic*