Part 3 of 3
Disclaimer: So...guess what? I don't own Sailormoon. I don't own Don Quixote. I really don't own anything but the slipping grip on my sanity.
Summ: Quixote Complex concludes where it began, with a baseball!
Part 3 of 3
Usually pulling her pink, rubber-handled brush through her hair was a kind of end-of-the-day therapy for Usagi. Gods knew she had enough hair to make it a true chore, but the repetition and steady strokes had become a meditation for her. With each tangle she un-snagged, that much of her day was un-snagged with it.
Tonight, however, left Usagi more in a catatonic trance than in her happy place. The single chunk of hair she had been brushing absent-mindedly for the past twenty minutes was proof enough of that.
Her mind kept wandering; you guessed it, to Mamoru. Crazy Mamoru. Lonely Mamoru. Sad Mamoru. Sexy Mamo-
Usagi's brush slipped from suddenly nerveless fingers and clattered onto the floor. Staring at her reflection through wide eyes, Usagi contemplated the wicked turn of her thoughts. Sexy? Mamoru? No. No.
Yes, yes. She'd felt her reaction to him under the tree in the park; she knew how close she'd come to finding out just how much in the car. And she could damn well see her state by her face in the mirror, cheeks flushed, eyes suddenly darker, and breath coming a little quicker, just from thinking about the close calls she'd had with Sexy Mamoru all day.
Groaning, Usagi dropped her forehead into the palms of her hands in a measure to hide her own arousal from her eyes. Life was not fair! She couldn't possibly be falling for Sexy – er – Crazy Mamoru. Whatever had sent him off his rocker was obviously affecting her too. It must have been something in the soda fountain at the Crown. That was the only explanation. It couldn't have been that she actually had feelings for Mamoru. Lonely, crazy, sad, and very sexy Mamoru.
Mamoru-baka. That was more like it.
Much more comfortable with the familiar tone of her old nickname for her (at least formerly) most diabolical foe, Usagi bent to retrieve her brush and therap-utize that man right out of her mind with the bristles.
But a knock at her bedroom window scared the thought clear from her head and she screamed and fell out of her vanity chair. For a moment there was stillness in her room, if you didn't count Usagi's gasping breaths from her prone position on the floor, and then there it was again. Three raps at her window, clear as a bell, scary as death. Who would be knocking at her window so late at night? And she lived on the second story, how did they manage that?
Not thinking to cover up her nightgown with the robe at the foot of her bed, Usagi felt under her bed for the first weapon handy and crawled toward her window. When she reached her destination, Usagi hesitated from actually answering the call. But she'd always been a curious girl, and calling up all the strength and courage she had accumulated as Sailormoon, she reached up and unlocked the window. After that she quickly slid it open, and with eyes squeezed tightly shut, lugged her weapon at the intruder.
There was another stretch of silence and Usagi waited to hear a scream and the splat of someone falling to their death, or at least an offended, "Ow." Instead she heard only another second of quiet before a very masculine cough forced her to open her eyes.
Mamoru – or rather – Endymion, sat on a tree branch directly in front of her, which was weird because Usagi didn't remember a tree branch growing so close to her window. He just grinned at her, looking as crazy, lonely, sad, sexy and baka-ish as ever. He held up her "weapon" and asked, "Did you intend to harm me with this?"
"Yes!" Usagi bit out as she snatched her Raggedy-Ann doll back from him, holding it close to her under tightly crossed arms.
"You did? After I risked life and limb just to see you?" Endymion's eyes lit up as Usagi lit up in a contradictory blush upon her cheeks and a blaze of fire in her eyes.
"Who asked you to do that?"
"My lady, if you have to ask to be serenaded, then your previous suitors have been sadly lacking in knowledge of the romantic gesture."
'Previous suitors? Yeah right, most of the boys at school all know about Daddy's temper. They wouldn't try this let alone touch me with a ten-foot pole.' Usagi thought, but a loud only shooed him away, "Well, thanks but no thanks. You're just lucky Luna isn't here."
Usagi mentally kicked herself for mentioning her guardian, but was thankful Mamoru didn't have a clue-
"Luna? She is here?" Endymion leaned forward on his perch to poke his head in her room, "I must talk to her."
Usagi's eyes nearly bulged out of her head and panic seized her insides. He needed to – talk – to Luna? A slave to her first impulse, Usagi flattened her palms against his chest and gave him a mighty push. A bit too mighty, it seemed, since the force succeeded in removing his torso from her room. Then went the next step of nearly sending him head over feet backwards and plummeting to the yard below. Well, he wouldn't necessarily be plummeting, that required a bit more height, but he'd definitely be falling more than what was considered a healthy tumble.
Regardless, the hands that had pushed him one second earlier now snagged hold of the cotton fabric of his shirt and used that mighty strength to help steady him. Eyes crashed as Usagi suddenly found herself needing the support she had just given him, as her reach left her hanging halfway the window herself, her feet on tottering tiptoes on the floor inside her room. Endymion gave it effortlessly, and only gazed longingly into her eyes before he spoke, "All I wanted to do was talk to Luna."
The reality of what he said jolted Usagi from her Endymion-induced stupor and she swallowed audibly as she did what she does best in moments like these, play stupid, "You do know that Luna is a cat, right?"
"Of course, all her race-"Endymion stopped himself as he read the expression on Usagi's face. 'Don't go there,' he could almost hear her say in his head. Then again, she may have been 'thinking' into his mind. Serenity had been known to 'speak' to him that way on occasion before.
But this was Usagi, and though he knew Serenity lie within nearly every aspect of the girl in his arm's soul, he could not deny that Usagi was her own person. It had, after all, been a millennia since he'd seen her last.
With no knowledge of where to go after Usagi had fled from 'his car,' Endymion had also exited the vehicle and given serious thought to following. But remembering that look of fear mingled with confusion and want on her face when she had looked back at him before disappearing into her house, Endymion opted to take a walk instead. He didn't trust himself to be able to operate the car again, the sense of security and familiarity he'd had when he'd driven before disappeared when Usagi left its leather- seated interior.
So, instead he walked. The first block was uneventful, the second held a yappy little dog that had chased him into the third. And in the third, he saw the newspaper lying on the lush green of somebody's yard. Intrigued by the bolded headline and picture of a pretty, young girl smiling brightly off the front, the newest 'idol' the paper had called her, Endymion had stopped to look. And had quickly taken note of the date. May 10, 2004.
Hmm. Interesting...and then reality set in.
"TWO THOUSAND FOUR?!" Endymion couldn't help but exclaim, quite obviously, his realization frightening birds from their roosts in tree branches all the way down the street, "That isn't possible!"
Endymion wandered in a stupor for the rest of afternoon, suddenly understanding all that was around him, but with a whole new set of questions. How did he manage to remain unconscious for an entire millennia? Was it a Dark Kingdom trick? Was he really who he thought he was, and finally, who was the girl that embodied Serenity's spirit?
They were one and separate at the same time. If she was, than was he the same as she? Was he this, Mamoru? And did Usagi/Serenity indeed hate him? His brain nearly imploded twice as the constant ring of questions hovered over him like a gloomy cloud.
At the end of his troubled stroll, he found himself in front of Usagi's house again, and though doubt plagued his every thought, something he was not at all used to, had ended up where he was now. Sitting outside Usagi's bedroom window (a very lucky guess on his part, as one could safely assume she did not live alone in the cheerful house) and holding 112 pounds of warm, sweet-smelling enigma in his arms. And both Endymion and the stranger inside him (or was it the other way around) could only rejoice silently as his arms wrapped about her shapely waist tighter.
Usagi's tremulous voice pulled him from his thoughts and Endymion looked into the same clear blue eyes as the princess of a long gone moon kingdom. Again, as one could only assume, "Yes, Usagi?"
Usagi sucked in a deep breath and expelled softly before she smiled with trembling lips, "It is nice when you say my name."
"What else would I call you?"
It took a moment for Endymion to realize what she was saying, the buried part supplying her word's meaning, "Dumpling Head?" He watched as Usagi turned pink in the soft moonlight and ducked her head in embarrassment, one of her buns brushing his cheek. A chagrined smile tilted one side of his mouth as he lifted one of the hands from her waist to gently tug at one of the golden balls atop her head, "Oh I see, because of these."
Usagi nodded and sniffed a bit, "I know they're silly, but I've always worn my hair like this."
"I don't know." Usagi shrugged, and was a bit surprised to find that she had not attempted to shrug out of his hold as she had intended, but folded herself further into it, "They just feel like me."
A long finger crooked under her chin and lifted her eyes to meet his. Deep, midnight blue eyes settled on hers, and they were open, unmasked and nearly luminescent with his sincerity, "They are beautiful. Never change them, no matter what I may say. Know I have not meant a word I have said before this day."
Usagi swallowed past a lump in her throat and hid her face in his chest, her face tucked safely away from his intense oath by the column of his throat. He couldn't do this to her, not when she was so sure about him. But then, while he was confessing, "I never meant anything I said either."
"You mean you don't think I'm a baka?" His chuckle rumbled deep in his throat.
Usagi felt the vibration clear down to her toes. She could only sigh and smile as she lifted her head from its cozy nest and admit, "Among other things."
Full, deep laughter was her response this time and Usagi thrilled at. She had never heard Mamoru laugh before, and it was a marvelous sound. She found herself wanting to make him laugh again, hopefully with her rather than at her. Usagi had been about to say something else he might find humorous with that exact purpose in mind before she was distracted by the moonlight glinting off of the medallion at the base of his throat that she had noted earlier that day. Fingering it, she found herself asking, "What is this medallion you wear? I've never seen anything like it." Though, oddly enough, it seemed familiar.
Endymion's brows drew together in confusion momentarily before gently pushing her hand away from the item of which she spoke, gave a short tug at the leather cord at his neck, which gave way and lifted the smooth metal attached for inspection. The part of him that had so many answers before was silent, but he did not need its aid for this one. One look at the winged horse surrounded by ripened wheat and a word engraved in an ancient language that few ever learned outside of his family, and Endymion knew what it was, "It is the insignia of Elysian."
"Elysian?" Usagi's nose wrinkled in lack of recognition, "What's that?"
"Elysian isn't a 'that,' it is a 'where.' Here." Endymion dropped the medallion into her palm and ran his index finger over each component as he explained it to her, "Elysian is the land of dreams. This," Endymion pointed to the horse, "is Pegasus, the beast that signifies Elysian's Holy Order, the priest and shrine maidens. And the wheat means that the dreams and hopes of mankind on Earth are reaped and sown there."
"And this?" Usagi's finger touched at the very tip with his as she joined him in fingering the word in its lovely, swooping script, "What is this?"
"It means 'Protect.'" Endymion caught her finger in his before she pulled it away and used it to capture the rest within his palm and drew it to his mouth, his breath hot against her knuckles and his eyes capturing hers in the most intense moment of her life thus far, "Elysian is the protector of the royal family of Earth, and those they love."
His eyes bore into hers as he managed to emphasize his last words without changing the volume or tone of his voice. In fact, he hadn't spoken in more than a whisper and she felt the impact of what he said throughout her entire body. Any thought of pulling away or heartache melted away as if no transgression had ever existed between them before. There was no then, only here. Only now. And here and now was impossibly wonderful.
To punctuate the magic moment between them when both just were happy to be together, Endymion placed a kiss in her palm, though he desired to kiss her mouth with every fiber of his being. But she was not quite ready for him to go there yet.
The look in her eyes as he folded her fingers over his kiss, however, told him it wouldn't be too long.
Usagi could only swallow and attempt to get some spit back in her suddenly dry mouth. She pulled her clenched fist between them and laid it to rest on her breast, where her heart thundered so loud she was sure he had to hear it. The entire block had to hear it, she was surprised people weren't sticking their heads out their windows and shouting for her to keep it down. But if Mamoru could hear her silly heart, he didn't let on. He just watched her, his eyes shining with his desire, his want and his devotion for her. Things that had never been there before. Would they still be there tomorrow?
'Please, oh please. Still feel this way tomorrow.'
However beautiful the moment though, Usagi found herself increasingly uncomfortable in it. She was fourteen and in no way used to such grand gestures of romance. In an attempt to alleviate some of the intensity, she looked down at the necklace resting in her other hand, the one holding his kiss still clutched to her chest, "Royal family of Earth? Get outta here!"
The light doused from his face immediately at her wording, and he withdrew from her, both physically and emotionally. Usagi started at his cold demeanor, and at how she suddenly felt naked and exposed without the shelter of his arms. Horrified, she watched as a mask of darkness replaced the face that mere seconds before had been all she had ever wanted to see there and he spoke sharply, "I do not know what more I can do or say to take this mistrust of me from you. There is nothing more I want than for you to understand me and motives, but if you wish me to go-"
Surprising both of them, Usagi vaulted herself at as he began to move back on his perch. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she held on tight. Her full weight hung on him, making him very certain that her toes no longer touched the ground on her side of the window. Her nose touched his and her eyes looked steadily into his, her desperation plain to see, "Stay, please stay."
Endymion needed no more encouragement. One thankful arm wrapped replaced itself around Usagi's waist, the other lifted a hand to wrap around her nape and held her as tightly as she held him, "I will stay as long as you will me to, princess."
Usagi's chest swelled as she buried her face into the nook where his jaw and neck met and soaked in the feel of his body pressing against nearly every inch of hers, save for there bottom halves which preoccupied different spaces and that couldn't be helped. She felt tears sting the back of her eyes and she allowed her fingers to bury themselves in the thick mass of his hair. Not once in her life could she remember feeling so complete, and strangely, like she had been reunited with him. A part of her, hidden beneath many years of hibernation, stirred and glowed at the familiarity of the embrace and begged more. More of what, exactly, Usagi had no clue. But she suddenly found herself yearning just as much as the duel sense in the back of her mind.
"Stay with me. Don't ever leave." Usagi whispered into his ear, "I want it to stay like this forever. Please, don't change back."
Endymion trembled at the tinge of panic in her voice. He had already guessed that she and Mamoru did not get along, but he also felt within him what was there of Mamoru cared for her as deeply as Endymion did. But he could also sense that Mamoru would pull away from her when he returned to consciousness, for Endymion had no doubt who was out of place in this body. The pain ripping through Usagi's voice had been put there by the stranger in the body of the boy she thought she had known so well, he had confused her. He knew Mamoru would break her heart when he returned. And would be Endymion's fault. If only he could make Mamoru realize they belonged together. Could he?
Pulling all his strength and will together within the recesses of his mind, Endymion bellowed in the direction of where he had felt the twinges of Mamoru's psyche, 'Mamoru, you do not know me, and I do not know you. I do not think I would care to know you if I had the chance, the way Usagi mistrusts you. But know this, if you break this girl's heart, you will regret it. I need not threaten you, for you will truly have made the greatest mistake of your life if you do not scoop up the opportunity I have left at your feet.'
"Promise me?" Usagi's whimper was what he was met with when he turned his thoughts outward, "Promise me you'll always be like this. I don't think I could stand it if you didn't."
Endymion choked down a lump and managed a coarse reply, not willing to lie to her, but not willing to break her heart just yet. For the truth was, he could be gone tomorrow, and in that case, he wanted tonight, "You made me promise you something earlier." He felt Usagi's head bobbing up and down on his shoulder, "Do you rescind your request?"
A strangled sob erupted from Usagi and she pulled back enough to look back in his eyes, unshed tears brightening her eyes to an impossible shade of blue as she sniffled and responded, "Oh, yes! Say it, please say it."
The hand that had been wrapped around her neck slid forward to capture her chin in the v of his thumb and forefinger, as if to make her look at him. Which was entirely unnecessary as she couldn't have looked away now if her life depended on it, "I love you."
Usagi closed her eyes as the melodic sound of his words reverberated through her head, heart and soul and a single tear slid from her eye. She felt his thumb move to swipe it away, but she lifted the hand she had pressed to her heart and captured his wrist as he had so many times earlier today and stopped him. Her eyes opened and Endymion's breath snagged as he basked in their glow, as they had done long ago, when the golden girl in his arms had been his, and only his. He felt she wished to respond in kind to him, but she halted. And he knew, though it was with a twist of his heart, that it was because her love was not for him, Endymion. It was for the other him, Mamoru.
Usagi let out a soft breath at her reluctance to say she loved him back, but it didn't feel right. Later though, later she knew she would tell him she did, in fact, love him. And then she would never stop.
To him now, she only could respond with a grateful and whole-hearted, "Thank you."
Endymion shook his head, lifting his other hand to cradle her face with the other, feeling her slide away slightly as her feet touched down on terra firma once again, but he leaned in with her, their faces still as close as they had been in the intimate moment before, "You do not have to thank me. But know that I do love you, no matter what happens tomorrow, or even the day after that. No matter what I might say or forget. My every breath, action and thought is because I love you. And I will never stop."
Her response, this time, was a long time coming. She looked at him with fathomless blue eyes only for a moment before she leaned up on her toes and closed the already miniscule gap between their mouths. Endymion allowed surprise for only a second and then fell into her kiss, the knot of need and longing he'd experienced since awakening in that black hovel dissolving under her tender ministrations. This was what he had been waiting for, and now he felt he could leave this time and place having gotten what he came for. One last moment, one last look, one last kiss.
And the kiss was soft and warm. It was shy and bold at the same time, and between them, he felt their soul bond resonate, glow and grow stronger. In her kiss, he felt the part of her that was Serenity kiss him back, her reasons for surfacing the same as his. They had to say goodbye.
For Usagi, she was on cloud nine. She didn't know what had possessed her to kiss the boy sitting on a tree branch in front of her second story window, but she only enjoyed it now. Fortunately, it was the best first kiss a girl could have ever asked for. Unfortunately, that mere peck by the standards of most was as far as they got.
And that was only because Usagi had shoved him away and threw her window closed when she heard the knock only her father used before he entered a room. She heard a distressed cry behind her, but ignored any further noise as her father cracked the door open a second later and poked his head through. Whatever harm she did Mamoru was a billion times better than what Kenji would have done if he had found them together, "Usagi?"
"Yes, Daddy?" Usagi's heart was racing a mile a minute and under her death- grip on the windowsill her palms grew sweaty.
"Lights out, huney-buns. You've got to get up early tomorrow for Shingo's baseball game."
"Sure thing, Daddy! No problem, I'm on my way!" Usagi wished she could unglue her hands so she could clap them over her mouth in a not-so-subtle way to quit her nervous babbling.
A brow lifted over the top of Kenji's glasses and he took a step into his daughter's room, "Are you okay? Why are you standing if front of the window?"
Usagi's insides froze and said quickly, "Nothing. Not a thing. Not a single thing."
Apparently she was too quick to so enthusiastically deny any wrong-doing, because the second brow joined the first and he completely entered the room as he crossed his arms in front of him, "What are you up to, young lady?"
Usagi cringed, oh dear, this wasn't good, "Me? Moi? Nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero, non-existent," Usagi continued to recite the thesaurus act as her father crossed the room, managed with some effort to pry her loose from the sill and peered out the window. Only then did Usagi quiet, her breath bated and waited for her dad to lose it.
Kenji looked at her sharply, and Usagi readied herself for a severe tongue- lashing. Instead, however, Kenji put the back of his hand to Usagi's forehead and felt her temperature for a few seconds, "Are you feeling well, Usagi. You feel a little warm, and you look flushed." To which Usagi flushed deeper because she knew exactly what it was that put her in her state, "Let's get you in bed."
"Okay!" Usagi bolted across the room and into her bed, her father following. He tucked her in, pulling the blankets under her chin. Kenji felt her forehead once more and worry creased his brow.
"I should get your mother."
"NO!" Usagi sat up and grabbed her father's hand before he could turn to leave. He looked at her through round eyes and Usagi put on a meeker façade and laid back down, "No really, Daddy. You don't have to bother Mama, I'm sure I'll feel better in the morning."
"I don't know." Kenji rocked his jaw back and forth in one hand as he considered Usagi's diagnosis.
"You better go, so I can get some sleep. Shingo's got a big game tomorrow, after all!" Usagi smiled a little too brightly, but her father didn't seem to notice as he caved and reached down to tuck her back into bed.
"There you go, all cozy and snug." Kenji dropped a kiss to Usagi's forehead; thankful it had already started to cool under his lips and smiled down at his only girl, "Nightie-night huney-buns."
"Nightie-night, Daddy." Usagi wished in earnest, loving her father for all his concern. That didn't keep her, however, from jumping out of the cozy nest he'd created for her the moment he'd closed the door behind him. She opened her window and stuck her head out, her eyes searching through the branches of the tree for Mamoru, or wherever he had hidden himself away. But when she heard a grown come from below, Usagi looked down and swallowed her own grown.
It appeared as Mamoru had hidden himself away on the ground. And though it was dark and shadow from the tree obscured him in darkness, Usagi was pretty sure he'd been knocked unconscious. Like earlier, when all this wonderfulness had begun.
"Oh please, oh please, oh please be okay." Usagi prayed as she grabbed her robe off the hook on the back of her door, eased her door open and tiptoed down the hall and stairs. When she reached the main floor, she dashed across the entryway and out the door quicker than she even did when she woke up late for school on an exam day.
Vaulting some low bushes that flanked her walkway, Usagi ran across her house's green lawn before dropping to her knees at Mamoru's side, "Oh, Mamo- chan. Mamo-chan, wake up! Can you hear me?" Mamo-chan?"
He didn't answer with anything more than a low moan, and Usagi gingerly lifted his head into her lap and ran soothing fingers through his ebony hair, "Mamo-chan, please wake up. You have to wake-up now."
His eyes fluttered at that, and Usagi swallowed a yelp and continued to stroke his head as his eyes finally lifted, pupils trying their darndest to focus on the face above him. He blinked and then squinted, lifting a hand and stopping just short of touching her face, and though Usagi silently willed him to complete the action, if fell back onto his chest as he said in a think and dazed voice, "Princess?"
"Yes!" Usagi's heart tripped over itself. Mamoru had called her princess earlier, and endearment that had made her tingle all over when he'd said it. He was all right! He hadn't forgotten what had happened.
Meanwhile, the young man lying in her lap squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head in an attempt to clear his fuzzy thoughts and restore his eyesight to normal. The movement did the trick, but his skull felt ten times to small and he was sure his brain would be leaking through his ears any moment now.
And to further his confusion, when he opened his eyes again, it was not the princess from his dreams who looked back as he'd thought. Blinking again, Mamoru looked up into the face for the first time with some clarity and said, "Odango Attama?"
How the hell did he get-
Suddenly, the hands smoothing his hair were gone, as was the pillow of silky thighs beneath his head, leaving him with no support. The back of his head cracked against the hard ground below, and for the second time – or was it the third –that day, Mamoru was swallowed in darkness.
Usagi pulled a blade of grass out of the ground glumly as she stared out at the lake glittering in the mid-morning sun. Behind her she heard the cheers from Shingo's baseball game and the crack of a bat connecting with the ball. But she didn't feel much like cheering. She didn't feel like much, if the truth must be told.
Last night, Crazy-Lonely-Sad-Sexy Mamoru had reverted right back to Mamoru- baka. She should have known. She should have damn well known it was too good to be true. She had been up all night telling herself that exact thing. She just should have known.
But it didn't make it hurt any less.
Unwilling to leave an unconscious man in her front yard for any type of derelict wandering the streets in the middle of the night to find – or her father in the morning, should Mamoru-baka take his time waking up from this one – Usagi had waited for Mamoru to come back from the brink of unconsciousness. And when he did, she had simply given him some aspirin and without a single word, gone back into her house. She had feared if she said anything, she would have burst into tears. It just wasn't fair. Why did he have to hit his stupid head again?
Ignoring a voice inside her that said that it was her who had pushed him off the tree limb anyway, Usagi sighed and lifted her knees to cradle her chin as she continued to feel sorry for herself.
Weirdly enough, she couldn't find it in herself to be mad at Mamoru. It wasn't his fault he'd been wonderful to her for one day, made her fall head over heels in love with him, give him her first kiss and he had no friggin' clue that any of it had happened. She shouldn't have thought it would be a permanent thing. She'd set herself up for disappointment.
And to top it all off, the baseball field in the park was just across the cement, walking path to the tree where Mamoru and Usagi had shared their first civil conversation. Where she had made him promise not to tell her he loved her only to beg him to say just that a few hours after that. Ten minutes into Shingo's game, Usagi had excused herself and wandered over, and had been there ever since.
Boy, she was such a dope. She deserved to get her heart stomped on, she was a total idiot for falling for such romantic fodder.
But still, Usagi's heart beat a little faster as she stretched herself out on the grass, turning on her side and grazing a hand over the grass where Mamoru had laid next to her only 24 hours earlier. Resting her head on her arm, Usagi lay like that for what seemed an eternity, reliving Mamoru's body next to hers, the touch of his gaze when it was tender and open to her. His smile, that laugh she had wanted to hear over and over so badly.
A few traitorous tears over the bridge of her nose to join the others and slip into her hairline. Her heart wrenched as she realized how much she missed him, though it was just yesterday that she had been with him. Maybe it was because she knew she'd never see him again, at least not the Mamoru she'd come to love. If that even was Mamoru.
Usagi remembered the name he had first called himself when he'd whacked poor Motoki over the head with that mop. Endymion. And he'd insisted she was Serenity, his princess. So, maybe, for just one day, she'd gotten to live a fairy tale. A beautiful, romantic and perfect fairy tale.
Man, real life sucked after living like that, even if it was for one day.
Usagi began to cry in earnest as she continued to run her hand over the grass, trying to purge all the emotions that clung to her. One day couldn't ruin her whole life! That was ridiculous. She just had to pretend that yesterday had never happened. That was it. She had never shared the most marvelous day with Chiba Mamoru, he never said he loved her and she never once fancied herself in love with him.
Denial is a beautiful thing.
And just when she had almost tricked herself into believing that, something happened.
She stilled, recognizing the voice without a second thought but still denying it was there. She was dreaming. There was no way he was here, now, with her. No freakin' way.
The second time it came, Usagi couldn't help herself. She sat up and slowly turned, facing what she knew couldn't be there.
But he was, in all his all-fired glory. Oh gods, she didn't think her heart could take this twice.
"I had a feeling you'd be here." Mamoru took a few more steps until he came under the protection of the tree's canopy of thick leaves.
Usagi blinked. This just couldn't be! She had to be dreaming because there was no way that Mamoru had found himself back in this spot, at the same time she was. Shaking her head, she stared again. And still, he was there, standing above her. His blue eyes an unreadable storm, his hair catching fire in the sun that managed its way through the leaves. He looked...just like a prince. A prince in a fairy tale that Usagi knew she would never star in again. Unless Mamoru was hit by some random piece of sports equipment in the next minute.
Usagi couldn't help herself as she made a quick scan of the park. Damn, not a thing in sight. Not even an angry squirrel throwing acorns. Just her rotten luck.
Usagi's mind ran frantically about, trying to think of some logical explanation, but she came up with none. So finally, she just sighed in resignation and looked back up at Mamoru, asking, "What are you doing here?"
Mamoru hesitated, his eyes still devoid of any emotional hints before he shrugged casually, "I really don't know. I woke up, brushed my teeth, put on a pair of pants and went for a walk. This is where my feet led me."
Usagi felt her breath snag. That meant he had to remember, in some small way. What else could it be?
What else...the margin for error, and the consequences of falling into this snare twice halted Usagi's celebration. Unable to keep eye contact a moment longer, Usagi stared at the ground as she asked, "Why do you think they brought you here?"
Had she been looking, she would have seen a flash of something veil Mamoru's features. He debated how much to tell her. Because the truth of the matter was, something inside him had put it in his mind that he needed to find Usagi. He had regained consciousness last night to find Usagi sitting on her front stoop, staring at him with big, solemn eyes. When she saw him sit up, she had held out a glass of water in one hand and in the other fist two aspirin, which he took and bolted without a second thought. His head felt like an elephant had done a tap dance on it.
After he had handed back the glass, he had expected her to say something, or at least offer an explanation as to how he got in her front yard. He suspected maybe Motoki was playing some sort of elaborate joke on him, but when Usagi only stared at him in complete silence for a long and very awkward moment, he knew that something else had happened.
Usagi's eyes told him nothing, which worried him the most. Usually Usagi's eyes told the story before any words left her mouth, but last night, they had been clouded and dark. Walled up. Which was his job, not hers.
And just when Mamoru had summoned the courage to ask her about what had happened, Usagi had turned on her heel and disappeared into her house, not once looking back. A part of him seemed to flare with resentment, but not at Usagi, with himself. Mamoru only shook it off and walked down the pathway to the street. He found his car parked a just beyond the wall separating Usagi's house from the sidewalk. Getting behind the wheel, Mamoru lifted a hand to feel at the goose egg on the back of his head and looked up at the lighted window of the second story window in Usagi's house. That was Usagi's room, he didn't know how he knew, but he did. He saw her shadowed figure pause in front of the window before it disappeared as quickly as it had just moments before through her front door and after a few breaths, her light was doused and her room fell into pitch black.
Mamoru stared at the black portal for some odd seconds, seriously considering climbing the tree in the front yard and pulling himself onto the branch stretching out before Usagi's window, knocking until she opened it and demanding to know what happened. Or kiss the life out of her. He didn't know which, and the idea of doing either shook him to his core. Which was never a good thing in Mamoru's estimation, so he turned the keys in his ignition and pulled the car onto the street and turned the nose toward home.
Home, which had become even more lonely and despicable than before. He didn't sleep all night. Every time he had closed his eyes, he saw her face and those blank eyes. She had been sad, lonely, vulnerable and sexy.
That last thought clinched the all-nighter. What was he thinking? Fourteen-year-old girls were not sexy! They shouldn't be.
But Usagi had been, with her sad face, silken hair and robe that had gaped open to reveal the brief, cotton nightie she wore underneath it. She had seemed much older then, staring at him with fathomless blue eyes. It was as if a part of her was saying goodbye. He just didn't get it.
And it wasn't any clearer now, with girl who had haunted his night sitting on the ground before him. She had been crying when he'd come upon her, she was still sniffling as she stared hard at something he could only guess was absolutely fascinating on the ground. Mamoru felt a sense of déjà vu sweep over him and he looked away as shame crept up his neck. He had a sick feeling in his stomach he had put those tears there, which was mighty presumptuous of him to think Usagi thought so much of him to cry over him. Because she didn't. She hated his guts. And he hated hers.
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Mamoru turned his gaze out onto the lake, ripples glittering as a breeze disturbed the glassy surface. And in answer to her earlier question, he shrugged and said, "I don't know. You, I think."
Usagi looked up sharply and Mamoru turned his eyes back onto hers. His surprise was equal to hers, though he hid it better. He hadn't meant to say that at all, but he'd been compelled to before he even thought about the words.
"Me?" Usagi felt her heart hammer a familiar tattoo in her chest, "Why?"
Mamoru felt something bubble up in him again, and he sensed it would spell disaster for him, so he quickly jumped in before his own tongue worked against him, "I wanted to know what happened yesterday."
"Oh." Usagi looked a little crestfallen, then tilted half a smile at him and asked, "What do you remember?"
"I remember going to Crown, talking to Motoki about something...Don Quixote. He had a big book report due and he didn't get the plot. Have you read that book?"
Usagi blinked, not expecting the question. Then she nodded dumbly and added, "Yeah, I had to read it for school."
"Then you'd agree that the basic premise for the story is pretty easy. But Motoki just didn't get it. Isn't that crazy? But then again, Motoki doesn't get much unless you pretty much spell it out." Mamoru bit off the end, wondering what had gotten into him. He hadn't meant to make small talk; he only wanted to get the facts. Drawing his face into a passive line, Mamoru continued, "Well, anyway, then there was this blinding pain and the next thing I knew I was waking up in your front yard."
Mamoru looked at Usagi expectantly, but she only looked back, then shrugged, "You know about as much as me. I had just come down to see if Luna had come home for the night and found you passed out on my lawn. I thought maybe you had gotten drunk or something."
She was lying, and Mamoru knew it. She wasn't very good at it in the first place, but she wasn't even trying at the moment. He couldn't begin to fathom why, what he'd done to deserve being lied to. But it pissed him off.
"Usa-"but Mamoru was interrupted when Usagi thrust out a closed fist to him and opened, a leather cord and medallion swinging from her fingers, one he recognized right away.
"I found this in the yard after you left," another lie, but Usagi had no intention of telling him he had showed her it when he'd climbed a tree just to talk to her, to see her, to feel her. Boys suck, "I figured it was yours. Here."
Ignoring her sudden hostility and dropped down on one knee next to her, taking the medallion in fingers that shook slightly. He had been afraid he lost it, and to have it back was like a prayer answered. Mamoru looked at Usagi, who had turned her eyes back onto the lake, her mask back on, as if to hide her feelings from him. Mamoru had an idea, a crazy one, but it was worth a try. He needed to know what happened to him yesterday, and how it included Usagi.
"My parents and I were in a car accident when I was about five or six." Mamoru began, seating himself next to her on the grass. He heard her quick intake of breath, but again could not figure what had elicited it and continued, "A bad one. I'm the only one who survived." He paused, waiting for a reaction, but surprisingly, didn't get one. Usagi just stared ahead, as if she didn't see or hear him. But he had a feeling she was only too aware of his presence and went on regardless, "When I woke up in the hospital, I couldn't remember one damn thing. My name, where I lived, who my own parents were, I didn't know any of it. I couldn't remember them to save my life, Usagi. That was the most painful part." Mamoru took in a deep breath and released it just as slowly before he admitted to the next, "Still is, in fact. The police managed to figure out my name, but that was it. That was all I had of my past. And this." Mamoru held the medallion up by its leather cord and with the finger of his other hand sent the round disk spinning and watched it as it twisted and spun, "Damned thing is, I don't even know what it means. I've looked everywhere for what it might stand for, but there is nothing like it anywhere that I can find."
Usagi didn't respond, a consistency Mamoru was becoming tired of quickly. He was about to give up and braced himself to stand and leave when Usagi turned in her seat to face him and put a gentle hand over his, the hand that held the medallion. Looking at him expectantly, seemingly waiting for him to recoil and when he didn't, she rolled his hand over so the medallion lay in his palm and her finger traced over the piece as she began, to his utter amazement, to explain one of the great mysteries of his life, "This is Pegasus, the beast that represents the Holy Order of Elysian, its priest and shrine maidens. The wheat signifies that Elysian is where the dreams of mankind on Earth are reaped and sown and the word." Usagi smiled genuinely for the first time since he'd opened his eyes last night and she'd handed him his walking papers, though it was tainted with heartbreak and sadness, "And the word means, 'Protect,' because Elysian is the protector of the royal family of Earth."
Mamoru was too shocked to speak at first, but finally managed to sputter, "H-how? How did you know that?"
The wistful smile grew as she looked into his eyes boldly, her mask gone and the sadness within them pummeled him with their woe, "Somebody told me."
"Who? How did he know? I have to talk to him." Mamoru's brain ran in dizzying circles as he watched Usagi shake her head.
"He's gone now." She kept her gaze steady on his, "He won't be coming back."
Again, Mamoru got that feeling she was talking circles around him. Mamoru instinctively reached out and wrapped a hand around the nape of her neck, his thumb closing over her cheek as he forced her to look straight at him. Not that he needed to, but the motion gave him a semblance of control, control he so desperately needed right about now, "Usagi, I told you something I have only told one other person, Motoki. You have to understand why I need to know what happened yesterday. I cannot have anymore missing gaps in my life. No matter how miniscule a day may seem to you, it is another lifetime for me. Please, tell me what happened."
"You don't want to know."
"Don't assume to know what I do and do not want to know. I am the only judge of that." Mamoru felt his blood heat and splurge through his veins, and it wasn't just his rising temper that fueled him. His proximity to Usagi, the smell of her hair, the intimacy of their surroundings, the look in her eyes at his touch, suddenly he wanted much more than was publicly decent.
"Maybe I don't want to tell you." Usagi dared him, her own eyes flaring in a temper to match his.
Now this was more familiar ground, claws sharp and teeth bared, the tried- and-true Mamoru and Usagi way, "I don't care what you want. Tell me."
Usagi's anger faded as quickly as it had begun, and she finally broke their eye contact. She was quiet for a long moment before she looked back at him, anguish in her eyes, "You told me you loved me."
That, he hadn't been expecting. He would never – not in a million years – at least never out loud – Mamoru dropped his hold on her and his eyes narrowed, "What?"
"You heard me. First in the Crown, after you attacked poor, poor Motoki. Than you tried again under this very tree, where so many others have professed their love," Usagi threw an arm in reference to the scarred trunk, "But I made you promise not to say it anymore because it scared me. And then you showed up at my window last night, and – and you made me love you back."
Mamoru's heart stopped, "What?"
Usagi snorted and stood, her hands clenched into tight fists as she choked on sobs, "Don't worry, Mamoru. I'm not holding you to anything. You weren't yourself."
That was an understatement, Usagi thought miserably as she swiped at a few stray tears streaking down her face and turned to stomp off. But once again, Mamoru had flashed out a hand, snagged her wrist in the manacle of his fingers and pulled her onto her knees next to him, where he quickly shifted onto his own knees and held her against his body despite her struggles.
"Let me go, Mamoru-baka!" Usagi managed a hushed tone, as to not alarm the people in the park. She would rather not make a spectacle of herself over Chiba Mamoru.
Words spoken in his own voice that Mamoru never remembered speaking echoed through his head as he looked at his hand wrapped around Usagi's wrist, 'If you break this girl's heart, you will regret it. I need not threaten you, for you will truly have made the greatest mistake of your life if you do not scoop up the opportunity I have left at your feet.' And though he certainly didn't remember ever saying those words to himself, he knew that they held an acutely accurate prediction if he did not act, and his gaze lifted back up to hers as he said, and this time he was certain it was him who spoke the words, "Say it again."
"Mamoru-baka." Usagi spat, pulling harder at her wrist in his grip than she remembered doing so yesterday.
Mamoru shook his head, his eyes dark and penetrating, as if he saw straight into her battered and confused heart, "No, tell me that you love me again."
"I don't love you!" Usagi laughed without humor, "I love the man you were yesterday."
"I don't buy it, otherwise you wouldn't be so upset with me now." Mamoru shifted and held both her fighting hands at her sides, the front of their bodies plastered together with the act of self-defense, before he repeated, "Say it again. Tell me you love me."
"Okay, I love you! Now are you happ-"
But Usagi never got the chance as Mamoru's mouth slanted over hers and stole her breath, her fight, and her heart with one, mind-searing kiss. This one had been deeper and far more passionate than the one she had shared with him last night. But then, that one had felt like a lingering goodbye, despite all its sweetness. This kiss, however, brimmed with the promise of things to come. Promises Usagi couldn't bring herself to believe.
Managing to remove herself from his powerful hold, Usagi pulled back out of the kiss and slapped him soundly, the snap ricocheting through the park. Again. Life is just full of surprises these days.
"Why?...Don't..." Usagi struggled to find the words before she finally gave up on thinking before she spoke, "Don't think that just because I love you I'll let you take advantage of it. People don't die from broken hearts and I will get over you with time. I will."
Mamoru released a shuddering breath as he stretched his now aching jaw and looked at Usagi, who was red-faced and breathing heavily. But, Mamoru noted with a smile, still there. She had plenty of opportunity now to escape him, and now she was looking for an excuse to stay.
"I just want you to know before you decide to beat the living daylights out of me, that everything I've ever said, everything I've ever done to you, I didn't mean it. And if I scared you for only one day, believe me, you have scared me far more and for far longer."
Usagi's breath caught, his words so like the ones he had said to her last night that hope was rekindled in heart no matter how hard she tried to squash it down, "I what?"
But Mamoru couldn't speak. With his admission, Usagi had suddenly begun to glow in a warm gold that emanated from the inside out, and her beauty had robbed him his breath. The way her eyes had lit up left Mamoru with no doubt that Usagi truly did love him. And with that, reality gave him a swift kick to the head as Mamoru suddenly realized exactly what it was he was doing. And like with most things involving Usagi, it scared the bejeezus out of him.
"Uh, I need to go."
The light quickly snuffed out, "What?"
Mamoru suddenly found it difficult to look at her, and when he did his eyes zeroed in on the small O of surprise her mouth made at his announcement. That mouth he had just had the guts to kiss. He had kissed her! He had kissed Usagi.
He needed to get out of there, "Yeah, I – uh – I have to go."
Usagi blinked in utter amazement. Was it her, or had he just totally wussed out of proclaiming his feelings for her? Oh, hell no! Over her dead body would she let Chiba Mamoru stomp all over her heart two days in a row!
Usagi was already on her feet and storming her way in the path of Mamoru's retreat as she finished the thought. Her brows were drawn together over her nose and blue eyes raged with fire as she stuck as slim finger under Mamoru's nose, "Oh no you don't buster! You are not going anywhere until this is cleared up. I'm not doing this again."
Mamoru looked down at the furious bundle of blonde pigtails with a closed expression as he pushed past her and out from under the canopy of the tree that had served as their refuge, or love-trap, whatever it was, "You were right Usagi. The man you fell in love with yesterday was not me."
"Bull!" Usagi snatched the crook of his elbow and used his momentum to swing him around and face her again, "And you know it too. Say it."
Mamoru's eyes narrowed as he stuffed his hands in his pockets, fingers grazing against the engravings of the medallion she had translated for him only moments before. His heart began to beat so hard in his chest Mamoru was certain it would explode from its cavity as he lifted his smarting chin and denied her demand, "I have nothing to say."
"You make me spill my guts but don't expect to give me anything in return?" Usagi pulled at a pigtail in her frustration, then pushed him with the other as she continued to rant, "What kind of crap is that?"
"No crap, Usagi. It is just the way it is." Mamoru spoke quietly, his eyes glued to a spot just over her shoulder. But when two soft hands clasped either side of his face in a sure grip, Mamoru couldn't help but look down at her and be buried in the blue depths of her gaze.
"Whoever it was yesterday, he is a part of you. I can see him in your eyes right now, wanting you to accept him. He is the love you have for me, and I want him. I want you, all of you." Usagi's hands moved to aid her in wrapping her arms around his neck, and into the shelter of his chest she found he smelled the same, and felt the same as he had last night, "And I want him now."
Mamoru felt his long dormant heart tear a little and he could only gasp at the ghastly sensation. Placing his chin in the nest of her hair, Mamoru felt his own arms wrap about her waist of their own accord. However, his mind was still his, sorta, and he could bring himself to say what she so desperately wanted him to say. What he himself, had begged of her with equal fervor under the tree mere minutes ago, "I can't."
In the back of his head, something, or someone, gave him a kick in frustration. And externally, something else smacked him upside the head.
Usagi hadn't been expecting the sudden dead weight of the man in her arms and could only yelp her surprise as she was dragged to the ground with him, his body pinning hers to the ground underneath him.
"Mamoru?" Usagi wheezed, his weight making it somewhat difficult to breath, "Mamo-chan, are you okay?"
It was no use, however, Mamoru was down for the count. Sighing heavily, or as heavily as she could, Usagi squirmed from underneath him and felt the back of his head. Another goose egg was forming on the back of his head and rolling to a stop on the ground next to them, was a baseball. Usagi barely had time to realize exactly what it was when a dark-haired young boy wearing a uniform identical to Shingo's came dashing around the corner of the chain-link fence shouting toward the field, "Way to go, Shingo! Woo!"
Usagi looked toward the home plate and watched her brother run into home and into the high-fives of his teammates, her parents in the bleachers cheering enthusiastically. Huh, the little dweeb hit a homer.
The dark-haired boy, meanwhile, snagged up the ball and then looked down at the two teenagers on the ground, his eyes lighting with recognition as he saw Mamoru, "Hey! I don't believe it." He then turned and shouted towards the field again, "Shingo, you hit that guy again!"
Usagi blinked as the coach waved at the boy by her side and shouted, "Ryu, stop messing around! You're up in two batters!"
With a toss of the ball and wink at Usagi, Ryu dashed off toward the dugout, calling toward her brother, "Hey, Shingo! You remember that guy from the arcade yesterday?"
Usagi shook her head, and then gained the sense enough to call after him, "Could somebody call for an ambulance? This guy needs help!"
Seeing one of the adults in attendance nod shortly and flip out their cell phone, Usagi turned her attention back to Mamoru. Giving his chin a few, light slaps, Usagi sighed as she settled herself in for the wait. Great, he had to get knocked unconscious right when she was beginning to wear him down, didn't he?
However, Usagi thought with a suddenly gleeful smile and a twinkle of hope in her eyes, this was the chance she had been asking for all night and day! Now Mamoru would have to turn back into Prince Charming and he'd love her again. Oh joy! This couldn't have worked out more perfectly.
But no, he just went into a coma. Who cares if he had suffered three concussions in a period of two days, this totally didn't fit in with her expectations of the day.
Mamoru lifted one heavy lid; thankful that the room he was in was swathed in the dim light the moon washed into his room. His nose was filled with the smell of medicine and sterilizer and he groaned as he recognized his surroundings immediately. A hospital. Gods, he had hoped to avoid this place for the rest of his life, at least in the patient part of it.
The good news, however, was that he remembered who he was and the past twelve years of his life, which was a vast improvement over the last time he'd woken up in a hospital bed. And to Mamoru's ultimate chagrin, he found himself quite the opposite of alone.
For in a chair pulled up tight against his bed, her head resting next to her hand on the mattress, was a sleeping soundly Usagi. Mamoru swallowed past a dry throat and he managed a trembling, crooked smile. He remembered quite clearly their argument, and he remembered that she loved him.
His heart bloomed with that particular knowledge and Mamoru took the hand resting on the bed in his and let his head fall back on the pillow and began to drowse back to sleep. Not a bottomless, dark sleep like the one he just pulled out of, but one that promised sweet dreams and a well-rested awakening where he was sure he'd find Usagi waiting for him in the morning.
As his eyelids drooped, Mamoru could have sworn that in the soft moonlight, he saw a silver string glow strong and pure from the left side of his chest and stretching between him to where Usagi's own heart lay. The idea did not startle him, or even disconcert him as it may have done just as early as yesterday – well, make that the day before yesterday – and for the first time in all that he could remember, Mamoru felt complete.
Wait until Sancho – ah – Motoki heard about this. He'd probably whack himself upside the head with a broom before he'd believe Mamoru was madly in love with Tsukino Usagi. It was madness, total madness.
Don Quixote would have been proud.
All finished! Hope you liked, let me know at:
Written May 17, 2004