Disclaimer: Do I look like Naoko Takeuchi? No? Not even a little? Oh, poo. --; Yeah, well, all the characters belong to her. Story belongs to moi.
Author's Notes: Okay. Here it is. I was completely sick this weekend. Also completely delusional. So I wrote Part Two. XD! Lol. I said I would finish it. So enjoy. C&C would still be wonderful though! smooshes Thanks, guys. :)
Little Questions Part II
Serena took a deep breath and sighed happily: The heavenly scent of North Carolina. Nothing ever smelled better. Gosh, it felt good to be home.
Usually, she enjoyed visiting her parents and even having dinner with a truckload of relatives, half of which she barely knew. Not this time though. The trip to Arizona for her mom's birthday left her exhausted and restless. At the end of every day, it felt like she'd had a full-on head collision with an NFL linebacker. Only this linebacker came in the form of forty-something stampeding blood-sucking relatives. Not even her family's enormous Victorian mansion could fit them all at once. After smiling at every person and thing in existence for two weeks, she was surprised her face hadn't cracked.
Plucking at one cheek, she massaged the other. It seemed pleasant now that she was far away from it all, her three week stay cut down by seven days. Still, the past two weeks tormented her, crawling at a snail's pace. While it was her mother's birthday, the hot topic of this family gathering had been her.
"Oh, Serena, honey, who is this cute boy in your wallet?" inquires the grandma.
"Darling! Come sit by your good Aunt Linda. You must tell me more about this Damon," gushes the aunt.
"Have you, you know... done the nasty?" prods the cousin.
"Auntie Serena has a boyyyyyyyyyfriend!" squeals the five-year-old niece.
Joy. Joy. Joy. Only her mom and her close friends knew about all the juicy details and it was going to stay that way. Actually, there were things that not even her best friends knew. Or rather, things they chose to assume. Like on their first year anniversary, four years ago...
Serena giggled. She'd never forget the way the pina colada smoothie squirted out of Andrew's nose when Darien told him that he didn't hit 'the home run'. When he tried to clean it up, he ended up on the floor doubling over with laughter, looking like he was having convulsive seizures. Then again, none of her friends believed her either. Lita still cracks jokes about Safeway's Pharmacy running out of condoms because Darien buys so many. Har har.
Oh sure, they couldn't keep their hands off each other, but that special day would have to wait until... well, that special day. Darien's scruples were unshakable. Though if she really tried... But, no. Serena would never do that. She knew how much Darien would be upset with himself after. The stupid man and his morals.
Shaking her head, she picked up her baggage and headed toward where Raye would be waiting.
Serena scanned the crowd. People milled about, all with places to go and people to see. Though her raven-haired friend was nowhere in sight.
Hands suddenly covered her eyes as Raye's loud voice boomed in her ear.
"Guess who?" she asked cheekily.
"A 6'2" male stripper who's going to show me more than just nice teeth as I swoon in his arms."
"I hope that isn't how you answer to Darien." Raye laughed, taking her hands away and examining her blonde friend.
Serena just gave her a brash smile as she was led out to Raye's gem of a car. An understatement, of course. The red Chevrolet Corvette stood out like Venus in the night sky.
When she slid into the luxurious seat, Serena felt butterflies start to hatch somewhere inside her. No, not nerves. She was just anxious to see Darien. Putting her hand on her stomach, she felt her heart beating erratically. Actually, she felt her heart pounding everywhere.
Raye must have sensed it, because she looked at Serena oddly. "Girl, the way you're holding your stomach and panting like a woman in labor, one would think you've got a baby or two in there."
"World class comedian today, aren't we?" Serena rolled her eyes, a sour expression on her face.
"At your service, mademoiselle." Raye tipped an imaginary hat. "So I presume you get dropped off at Darien's while I, your humble slave, take your luggage back to the palace?" –The palace referring to the spacious three-bedroom apartment she shared with Amy and Raye.
"You're an angel," Serena said, laughing. "So, the almighty Answer-to-my-Prayers, I assume you told Darien I was coming home," she added, knowing her friend wouldn't be able to keep a secret if her life desperately depended on it.
Raye had the courtesy to blush, but quickly recovered and started to babble about the latest movie she saw.
She didn't mind really. Raye had been one of her best friends since junior high. After ripping each other apart and tearing each other's throats out in the student body presidential election, they became inseparable. That was, of course, after neither of them won. In their senior year, both graduated at the top of their class. Then it was off to Duke, where they met Amy and Darien. Eventually, Mina, Lita, and Andrew came along until it was one big happy family. Now at age twenty-four, she couldn't be happier.
Yawning, Serena leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She had almost forgotten how tired she was. Allowing herself the luxury of a small nap, she drifted off to sleep.---
A hand nudged her shoulder. Serena groggily acknowledged it, but didn't open her eyes. She was just about to fall back to sleep when the same hand started patting her cheek, willing her to wake up. Out of reflex, she bit at one of the fingers.
"Yeow!" shrieked Raye. Pulling her hand away, she shook it a few times. "Gee, Serena, you oughta save those moves for lover boy."
Serena mumbled incoherently before dragging herself out of the car. At the site of Darien's apartment building, she was instantly awake. The tall building loomed over her, but it wasn't in the least intimidating. With a quick thank you to Raye, she grabbed her purse and skipped toward the main entrance.
"Knock 'im dead," Raye yelled as she drove away.
Though once she was in front of the glass doors, Serena came upon a dilemma: A minor dilemma. Should she or should she not surprise him? He may know that she was coming home today, but not a definite time. If she used the buzzer to be let in, that would give him time to prepare...
Nah. Her impish instincts kicking in, Serena rummaged through her purse for the extra key Darien had supplied her with. When the door opened, she quietly crept through the empty lobby. She felt awfully sneaky at the moment, like a thief, or maybe a teenager who was trying to sneak back into the house at 3am in the morning. Or even better, a girl secretly going to meet her lover for a night of hot, passionate love-making. Now wouldn't that be exciting.
Serena paced restlessly on the elevator ride up. Oh, she just couldn't wait to see him! Like a giddy three-year-old about to meet Santa Clause for the first time, she jumped a mile high when she heard the familiar ding of the elevator. The doors opened and Serena smiled from ear to ear, gleefully clapping her hands together. She couldn't help it. Darien had that effect on her. And she loved every minute of it.
Upon reaching the door, she stopped. Would Darien be angry with her if she let herself in? Perhaps she should knock. Yes, that was a better idea. Besides, she wanted to see if he would act a little surprised, if at all. Raising a hand, Serena tapped the door lightly with her knuckles.
On the first knock, the door flew open to reveal Darien with a goofy, slightly lopsided grin on his face.
Oh, yes. Surprised indeed, Serena thought wryly. But she couldn't help smiling herself. Then she did the first thing that came to mind. She pounced on him.
The impact sent Darien reeling backwards with an umph, but he caught her against the wall. His arms tightened around her as he drank in the smell of Serena's favorite strawberry vanilla fragrance. God, how he missed her.
"Hi, Darien," Serena said, laughing softly in his ear. Had it only been two weeks ago since they were last together? As she gradually relaxed in his embrace, she realized how tense he was. The man was like a brick. Poor thing probably had knots for muscles. With a quick kiss on the cheek, she pulled back to look at him. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Darien looked like he hadn't slept in weeks, and yet he was still most gorgeous man she had ever laid eyes on.
"Aww... Poor wittle Dawien can't sleep without his Sewena," she couldn't resist teasing. Then wriggling her body against his, she said suggestively, "Let's go to bed."
She received a growl for a reply. For a second, she was sure he was going to... well... eat her, but he pulled away. Slightly dejected, Serena took her shoes off and followed him into the living room where she sat down next to him on the loveseat.
Serena leaned her on Darien's shoulder and snuggled as close as possible.
"Talk," she demanded.
"About what?" Darien asked, running a hand through her hair.
"Anything," she answered. She deeply burrowed her face in his shirt as she closed her eyes. "I just want to hear your voice."
Darien looked down at the her, his expression softening. Soothingly stroking her back, he told her about Andrew and Mina's latest development, Lita's new pet hamster, whatever came to mind.
"And it never occurred to me that maybe Andrew was right. I've been meaning to talk to you, but the chance never came up. Then when you left, I thought everything over. Now, I just don't think it's fair to either of us to wait any longer." He paused. He hadn't realized where the conversation was going, but maybe it was best. Reaching with his free hand for the velvet case inside his pocket, he drew it out. Taking a deep breath, he cautiously went on.
"Serena, you know me. I'm always afraid that... well, that I'm not good enough for you. You need someone who will whisk you off your feet: A prince charming. But I'm selfish. And... I do want you all to myself. People will change, and I can't promise that you'll never be hurt, but by God, I'll do my best to love you." Pausing once again, he clenched his jaw, bracing himself.
"Marry me, Serena?"
When he received no response, his body become still. The silence spoke volumes. While the answer he was waiting for never came.
"Serena?" he whispered.
Blood pounded in his ears. He was afraid to move. Rejection spelled itself out clearly. Though hope took over and ever so slightly, he nudged the blonde, peering down at her for the first time.
The little blonde bundle in his arms was fast asleep.
Relief washed over him like a tidal wave and he was once again able to breathe.
Shields, you're an idiot. Darien shook his head, imagining what Andrew would say if he found out. Inwardly laughing, he carefully extracted himself from Serena. Then picking her up, he carried her to the bedroom. Gently setting her down on the bed, he pulled the covers up to her chin. He put a kiss on her forehead before stepping back to watch her sleep.
Then sparing one more glance at the sleeping angel on his bed, he walked out of the room, closing the door soundlessly behind him.---
Strawberry shortcake. Chocolate. Whipping cream. Darien. Oh, yummy.
Serena stretched languorously, her feet kicking something hard. Frowning but still not opening her eyes, she reached around under the covers for the object that disrupted her sleep.
Aha! Her hands closed over the squarish, roundish, softish, hard-ish thing. Taking it out, she held it close to her face. Only then did she realize that she couldn't see very well. It was dark out and the only light came from the crack under the door. But it wasn't her door... nor was it her bed.
Realization dawned and Serena smacked herself over the head. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. He waits two weeks to see you again and you fall asleep. Nice going, Serena. You've snored the day away.
Sitting up and blowing the bangs out of her face, she slumped her shoulders. Still holding the thing, she squinted in the dark. The thing seemed to be some kind of case. Serena ran her fingers over the soft exterior. Not just any case either. A velvet case.
Temptation getting the better of her, she opened it. Serena's eyes widened considerably when she saw its contents.
Oh, my my.
The delicate diamond ring sparkled.
What was something like this doing on Darien's bed? What? What?! No. Not what. Who!
Serena was horrified. Darien had another 'significant other'.
And she was Pikachu. It just couldn't be. She took the ring out and held it up to the moonlight coming in from the window. What she saw made her drop the ring. Clamping both hands to her mouth, she muffled the scream that came out. Her eyes bulged out of her head. Inscribed on the inner curve was -Serena & Darien S. June, 2005-.
Serena suddenly felt faint. No, this wasn't just any ring. It was an engagement ring.
The shock was slowly wearing off. Slowly. She didn't know how long she just sat there like that, with her eyes popping out of her head. When she could feel her brain again, it began to flood with questions.
Was he proposing to her? Like this?
Now that made her want to scream all over again. Never mind how he proposed. It was the fact that he did at all that made her want to stand up on the bed, strip naked, and jump up and down while shrieking like someone who just won the lottery. Serena slipped the ring onto the third finger of her left hand. Her breath caught as she wiggled her fingers. It was beautiful.
Oh! But now she couldn't leave the room. He would probably expect an answer: The obvious answer. Though some part of her felt shy. Oh, dear. Would he be waiting outside the door?
Serena silently crept out of bed, slipping the velvet case inside her pocket. Walking to the door, she opened it just wide enough for her head to fit through and peeked out.
Then a loud crash made her jump. It was followed by an... an avalanche of pots? She heard the beginning of a certain four-letter word come out of Darien's mouth, but he stopped himself in time. Serena shook her head. The poor guy was trying to cook. Indeed, she should have pity on him.
Tip-toeing into the dining room Serena found herself in for another surprise. The table was set up like something out of a Harlequin romance novel –candles, wine glasses, long-stemmed roses, the whole deal. Serena felt her insides melting into goo.
Darien was in the kitchen, his back to her. Serena sniffed the air then inhaled deeply. Whatever he was attempting smelled delectable. Smiling, she sneaked up behind him and threw her arms around his waist.
Serena felt Darien's muscles tense.
"Serena!" He turned around when she finally let go. He looked stupefied all right. The expression his face changed from shock to joy to alarm. "You're awake."
Serena laughed easily.
"Yes, I am. I'm sorry," she apologized, though her eyes still glittered with delight. "Was I not supposed to see all this?"
When he just stared at her, not replying, Serena's smile died down.
"Are you angry?" she asked, eyes downcast.
"Yes– I mean no!" Darien shook his head as if to wake himself up. "It's just that– you– I–" he gave up. Taking Serena by the hand, he led her to sit down in the living room.
Serena looked up him innocently, bewildered as to why he was looking at her in such a way that made her feel slightly uneasy.
"Serena," he began. "I'm not mad, really."
Serena put a hand on his arm, her brows furrowed. "No, you are. I can tell you're upset."
Darien was about to shake her hand off when he suddenly became still. Very still.
Serena watched the color drain from his face. His eyes traveled from her face to her hand and then back again. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out.
"Darien..." Serena said, suddenly feeling the need to fidget. "You're looking at me like I'm the bubonic plague."
"Where did you get that?" The words came out hoarse.
Serena suddenly realized Darien was referring to the ring. Baffled, she held her hand out.
"This? You– y-you– I found it," she stuttered, not able to control her own voice. "Was I not supposed to? I thought–"
"You thought wrong!" he exclaimed. Then noticing Serena looking up at him, frightened, her lower lip starting to tremble, he immediately kicked himself. It was all wrong, just all wrong. Letting out a cry of frustration, he walked away from her.
"Darien, I–" she began.
"No! Don't say anything." Darien turned back to look at her. "Don't you see?" he said in a much softer voice. "It was supposed to be perfect. It's all ruined now. Everything. Everything's just all wrong." Turning his back to her once again, he put both his hands against the window and lowered his head.
"You weren't supposed to come home today. You weren't supposed to wake up. You weren't supposed to find that ring! But you did come home day. And when you fell asleep in my arms, I knew I had to make it special. The candles, the roses, the wine, your favorite Greek dish, dessert... everything. I had it all ready. When I was done, I would go to wake you up. We would have dinner by candlelight to your favorite orchestral soundtrack. After dinner, I would take you blindfolded to the beach where we would sit in the moonlight, have your favorite dessert–strawberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream--as the tide washed itself wave after wave onto the sand. Then as we walked the shoreline, I would get down on one knee. I would tell you how much I love you and then I would ask you to marry me and you would say–"
"I would pick you up and whirl you around and–" He stopped in mid sentence and turned sharply. Serena was standing in front of him, a smile adorning her face. "What did you say?"
"Yes?" he repeated, disbelieving his ears.
"Yes," she answered again.
Realization struck and Darien whooped with joy. Picking Serena up, he spun around until both of them fell over onto the nearest couch, her underneath.
"Yes." This time, it wasn't a question.
"Yes," she confirmed, laughing now.
He kissed her then. His mouth devoured hers, tasting every inch of her mouth like a starved man.
He pulled back to look at the one person who meant the world to him. Her fingers came up, gently brushing away the hair that had fallen in front of his face. The light that shone in her eyes told him how much she loved him. And God be damned if he wasn't the luckiest bastard alive.
Serena swatted playfully at his chest.
"Stop looking at me like that. Now get off me, 'ya big brute. Or else I may change my mind and decide that I want you for dinner instead."
Darien blinked. Then pushing himself off the couch, he laughed. Lending Serena a hand, he pulled her up.
Serena wrinkled her nose.
"What's so funny?" she asked, looking at him oddly.
He just grinned.
"Nothing," he replied easily. "There'll be time for dessert later, sugarplum."
Then laughing to himself once again, he slung an arm across her shoulder and led her back to the dining room. Yes, life was good.
:) A review would be wonderful. mwah Thanks for reading.