This takes place in the timeline of 'R' Where Darien is being mean to Serena because of that dream that keeps telling him to stay away from her. Oh, and Serena and Darien are 16 and 20 in this story, respectively... I also changed the time of year that this is happening somewhat. Lemme know what you think!:)

Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon or any of the characters nor did I create them etc... etc...etc... don't sue me, I'm just borrowing them..

Mixed Signals: Are You Playing Games?

By Jade_Max

Serena trudged down the sidewalk, her head bowed. Her pigtails drooped back behind her, almost brushing the sidewalk with every step. The usually silky strands were dulled, their luster seeming to have died. The bouncy curls that were usually at the ends, keeping them away from the ground were non-existent. Dirt smudged the small white socks inside the black shoes and was spattered up her leg from where she'd fallen earlier that morning on her mad dash to school. She'd ended up with detention again, but Miss H, upon seeing Serena's state of depression had actually relented and let her out after about twenty minutes. Serena hadn't noticed, her thoughts were turned inwards, focused on one person. Him. That black haired, midnight blue-eyed, gorgeously

handsome college student that had been her boyfriend.

All day people had avoided her. Amy and Lita had watched her from afar, almost afraid to go and talk to her. Seeing her so down, so depressed, so... un-Serena was painful to them. The girl who could light up a room with a laugh or a smile seemed to have vanished completely. In her place was an introspective woman who had pulled so far into herself that no one could reach her. Absently, she thought about her friends and it caused her brain to whisper to her that Raye would fry her if she was late. She brushed it off unconsciously, unable to hear the voice over the screaming of her heart and the wail of her soul.

Serena continued on her walk home, not really noticing the slow trudge she was going at as she continued to think. She was currently wracking her brain, trying to understand what had gone wrong. 'What did I do?' she asked herself silently, her eyes going from her feet and the mud-caked shoes to the brilliant deep blue of the darkening sky. 'Just like his eyes', she found herself thinking. She shook off that thought, 'Was it something I said, something I did, something I didn't do?' she thought, wondering again, for the millionth time that day, what had happened to the strong bond between her and her one true love. Her heart had been broken so many times in the last two and a half months, she wasn't sure how much more of it she could take.

Today was Thursday, February 13th, the day before Valentine's day. Serena found herself dreading the next day. She wasn't sure what to expect except for maybe more heartache. Ever since the beginning of December, Darien had been pushing her away. One day everything had been perfect and the next he'd been back to being cold to her. She couldn't figure him out and it was starting to show. Her clothes had begun to hang off her as her appetite dropped off almost completely. She couldn't remember the last time she'd actually felt hungry. Serena looked around as she neared the entrance of the park. Usually she would run through there to get home faster and to go get herself a snack, but today, as it had been for the last three weeks, she just wasn't interested in food. She sighed and trudged into the park, almost as if drawn to the same spot she'd occupied everyday after school since he'd effectively dumped her. There was a tree with a bench under it, the bench was secluded enough that if you didn't look for it you wouldn't be able to tell if it was there. It was also far enough away from the Rose Garden that it wasn't painful for her to sit and watch the petals of the red roses blow in the breeze.

Serena ducked under the overhanging branches, her pigtails dragging in the mud and the water on the ground, the top of her head collecting leaves and twigs as sat on the bench, pulling her knees up in front of her as she wrapped her arms around them and buried her face in her knees. She didn't notice the mud on her shoes and in her hair drag over parts of her skirt and shirt. She began to shake as the sobs started to come forth. "Why?" she asked brokenly to no one in particular, "Why are you doing this to me, Darien? What did I do to make you hate me so?" She continued to cry, rocking back and forth on the bench. It was the first time in two weeks she'd allowed herself to actually break down alone or in the presence of others. She cried for what seemed like hours, pouring out her heart to the silent canopy of leaves over her head. Her mind went back through all that had happened in the last month or so, ever since Christmas...


"Oh Andrew! It's adorable!" said Serena, smiling for what was the first time in days as she held up the gift Andrew and Rita had bought for her. It was a little stuffed bunny rabbit with a baby rabbit attached to the left side. Serena cradled the gray and white stuffed toy in her arms and then walked over and gave Andrew and his fiancée a hug, "Thank you, both of you."

Rita returned her hug with a smile, "Your welcome. Andrew told me you haven't been smiling much lately so we thought we'd get you something and see if it would help."

Serena flashed them a dazzling smile and she cuddled the adorable bunnies, "I love them," she said sincerely.

Andrew hugged Rita from behind and Serena's smiled diminished a little bit as she watched them. They were in the arcade, like usual, and Rita had come home for a week at Christmas. She spent almost all of her time with Andrew at the arcade (when he was working) and had gotten to know the girls quite a bit. She and Lita had even become good friend. Rita had also been around a couple of times when Darien, for no known reason, had told Serena off. It almost happened like clockwork the last few days where she would be happy and he would cut her down. Serena had come running to Rita and Andrew the last few times in tears, wondering what she'd done wrong. Serena's gaze, Rita noticed, wasn't on her and Andrew anymore but on some point behind them. From the look on her face and the way her eyes had lit up, Rita guessed it would have to be Darien.

"Hey Darien!" said Andrew, confirming Rita's guess, "Come over here. We're just opening our Christmas gifts. We even got one for you," he teased his best friend.

Darien laughed and walked over with a smile on his face. Rita looked back in time to see his smile die as his gaze rested on Serena. She thought she saw something flash in his eyes, something akin to hurt and resignation, as he threw up a cold mask, "Actually, on second thought Andrew, I can't stay. I've got things to do today." he turned to leave.

"Wait!" yelled Serena, running over to him. She tripped and fell into his arms, "Aie!"

He caught her, holding onto her for a few seconds before he put her back on her feet, looking at her indifferently, "What do you want?" he asked, coldly. His eye swept over her figure of their own violation and her clenched his fists. She looked even more beautiful to him today than yesterday. He turned to leave. He had to get out of there before he did something he knew he shouldn't.

Rita and the girls started to move forward but Andrew spread his arms and blocked their way, "Let Serena handle this," he said quietly, "I think she needs to do this without our intrusion."

Serena grabbed onto Darien's arm as he started to leave and he looked down at her, his eyes like ice. Serena swallowed hard, "Darien, I... I don't k-know what made you hate me so m-much all of a sudden," she said quietly, tears in her eyes as she stuttered. She was obviously holding onto her self-control by only a thread and Darien wanted to kill himself from the pain he knew he was inflicting. Only the dream and the ugly prophecy held him back from breaking down and comforting her, "but I-I wanted to give you this..." she held up a small package to him. She couldn't look in his face and just bowed her head, terrified he'd leave her standing there without taking the gift. She'd spent hours looking for just the right gift, "I want to be your fri... friend, if nothing else," she added, very quietly.

Darien's eyes softened as he looked at her bowed head and Andrew noticed that his friend was desperately trying not to show that he was in as much pain as the girl in front of him. He watched, amazed, as Darien took the box from Serena and left something in its place. Turning without a word, he'd left the arcade.

Serena had run out of the arcade then, to her special place in the park, heedless of Andrew and Rita and her friends calling after her. She needed to be alone. She'd ducked into her place and sat on the bench before she found the strength to look at what was in her palm. A small box, a red rose and a note. She opened the note and began to read.

Dearest Serena,

Before I go further, I want to apologize. I have been cruel and unkind and I know that, in fact, I have done so on purpose. I don't expect you to understand but the last three weeks have put me through hell. Watching you cry because of me has torn my heart to shreds but I can't stop. You don't understand, you say, but I can't explain. Not yet. I would ask for your forgiveness but I don't deserve it. In the coming weeks I will be cold, unfeeling even, and say things you don't wish to believe. I pray that when this is finished you can forgive me. Until then, I ask that you don't beg me for my feelings. I have no right to ask, but I can't continues to tell you something untrue for fear of beginning to believe it myself. I'm sorry my Angel, I wish it could be different.


p.s. Mery Christmas, I hope you like it.

She opened the box and pulled out a gorgeous gold chain with a red, silver and gold rose pendant hanging from it. She slipped the pendant around her neck, the cool metal sliding against her heated skin, and had cried until the sun had gone down.

*End Flashback*

Serena pulled the silver, red and gold pendant out from under her shirt and held it in the palm of her hand. The note Darien had given her had made her more confused and, though she read it daily to try and understand what her meant by the cryptic message, she only got more and more confused. The pendant had been engraved with the initials 'D' and 'S' on the back complete with the crescent moon and every time Serena looked at it she couldn't help but wonder why Darien was still being so cruel and unkind to her. 'How could he give me something so beautiful, so meaningful and still be cold,' she wondered sadly. She hadn't seen him in close to two weeks and everyday without seeing him, without running into him, or hearing his voice was pure torture. Even if the only things he said were cruel and un-kind to her, she still missed him. She sighed, brushing at her cheeks, 'Where could he be,' she asked herself miserably. She checked her watch and sighed, standing up and brushing ineffectually at the mud that was now dried to the back of her skirt, most of the hem and to spots on her shirt. "Who cares?" she muttered brokenly,

"It's not like anyone thinks I'm beautiful anymore. Darien was the only one who mattered anyway..."

She ducked out of her hiding spot and bumped into someone who was standing next to the entrance. Off balance, she fell back with a shriek and landed in a wet, muddy puddle. Dirty water splashed up around her and she was covered in muddy splatters. The seat of her skirt, in fact her whole back including her neck and head, was covered in mud. "Oh great, just great," she muttered with a sigh. She didn't even try to move for a few seconds, just looked at her muddy, ruined school uniform, "Mom's not going to like this," she muttered. Her soft sigh told more about her state of mind than the fact that she didn't bother moving right away.

"Serena? You alright?" asked a concerned, deep voice from above her.

She froze. That voice... 'Darien?' Couldn't be, he actually sounded concerned about her. She looked up through bangs that were spattered with muddy water and shook her head to get the droplets out of her view. Her hair made a wet slapping sound as it hit the ground. There, standing in front of her, one hand extended was Darien. She'd know that build; that posture, that gorgeous set of eyes and that handsome face anywhere! "I'm fine, Darien," she said softly. She hoped the crash into the mud puddle hid the fact that she'd been crying. The last thing she wanted to do was show him that his distance was still hurting her. Lord knew she'd been taking it badly since he'd started, but the past few weeks she'd made a resolution not to show him just how badly she was hurting. She stood on her own, ignoring his outstretched hand. She didn't notice the look of pain that crossed his face as she began to squeeze the mud and water out of her skirt and shirt. He retracted his hand and slid it into his pocket.

Serena looked up at him suddenly. She was bent over, covered in mud, her eyes vulnerable but red and puffy as if she'd been crying. Darien felt his heart twist as he caught himself thinking, she's never looked more beautiful than this moment. And he was going to have to ruin it. He gave her a strained smile and then turned on his heel too walk away. He tried, really he did, but the image of her sweet angelic face, covered in mud and tear lines kept flashing through his mind. He took one step, then another and stopped, looking back over his shoulder. She was staring at him. Those big, baby blue eyes full of hurt and broken dreams. He closed his eyes to block it out...

"Darien, you are not...!" started the familiar voice and he opened his eyes and shouted, "NO!" to break off the familiar litany. The dream had come again, this time in daylight with Serena not ten feet away from him. He clutched his head as the images and the words replayed in his mind. He felt his knees go weak and swayed on his feet, trying to stay standing. He stretched out an arm to find something to lean on. He had to get out of here before she realized what was happening. "Darien!" the alarmed shriek ran through his mind. Too late.

Serena saw him and, without thought, ran towards him, "Darien!" she yelled, slamming into him and holding him tight, helping him keep his rapidly failing balance, "Are you alright? Oh my god, please say you're alright. Oh god, Darien, speak to me, please?" she said tearfully, her eyes filled with tears of worry at the torment on his face. She had her arms around him, steadying him and he took a deep breath, clearing his mind. It didn't help much. His affection starved brain found himself wanting to hold her as she as holding him now. He'd missed having her in his arms but he knew he'd have to pull away before he let his emotions get the better of him. Not only for his sake, but for hers. He didn't want to lose her.

Darien looked down. "I'm sorry," he suddenly whispered and pulled away from her, running away from her.

"Darien!" yelled Serena, her voice breaking every syllable, as she slid to the ground, "Oh Darien... please, what's wrong? What did I do?"

Serena swiped her arms across her eyes, leaving a huge dirt streak across her face as she wiped away her tears. She'd thought he would have stayed and talked to her. She wrapped a dirt caked hand around the pendant and tucked it back in her shirt. She forced herself to get to her feet. She had to find out what was wrong with him and get him back. She knew, without a doubt, that if she didn't, her soul, her very heart would die.

Darien stopped running when he was out of her sight, "Oh god, I'm so sorry, Serena," he whispered, slipping his hands into his pockets as he walked towards his apartment. His gaze trailed down and he almost laughed. He was covered in mud from her running to support him just now. He smiled, remembering the sweetness of her embrace but his smile faltered and died as he knew he couldn't taste it, not if he wanted her to live. "This is tearing me apart, Serena... I can't go on living like this," he murmured, "I'll make it up to you, somehow. I promise."

*the next day*

Serena woke up early for school, before her alarm and yawned. She stretched and checked her clock. She tried to laugh as she realized she was up early. She poked the sleeping black cat on her covers, "Luna, wake up," she said, trying to sound cheerful. Inside Serena was feeling horrible. It was Valentine's Day; her boyfriend couldn't stand to be around her and the dance tonight was going to be awful. For one she didn't have a date and for two she wasn't all that keen on going anyway. She sighed, changing the poke to a soothing stroke on Luna's back. She let the cat sleep and then turned off her alarm before it could sound. She slid out of bed, dressed and left the house without breakfast and without her lunch, her thoughts again turned towards Darien. She managed to slip out without her parents noticing. She made her way to school, slipping into her desk a good twenty minutes before class. Miss H. saw her come in and sit down. 'Serena? The first to get into class, I wonder what's bothering that girl,' she mused.

Serena started from her thoughts when a gentle hand came to rest on her shoulder, "Serena, are you alright?" asked Miss Haruna, her eyes a softer green than usual.

Serena looked at her teacher and then shook her head, tears starting to trail down her cheeks, "I'm sorry, Miss H. I'm just not myself lately," she said, swiping at her cheeks, "What did we have for homework again last night? Was there going to be a test today?" she tried to smile.

Miss Haruna shook her head, "Serena, you're the limit. You obviously don't remember that you finished your work in class yesterday or that the math test is first period today. You're early though, are you feeling alright? I can have the nurse look you over if you'd like."

Serena shook her head, "Thanks Miss H. but..." she trailed off, her hand going to the front of her shirt.

Miss Haruna looked at her, noticing the chain around the girl's neck for the first time and, hooking one finger under the chain, gave it a gentle tug. She sucked in a breath as the glittering gold, silver and red pendant came into view, "Wow," she breathed. She looked at Serena's face and put two and two together, "Did you boyfriend give you this?" Serena nodded, unable to speak. Miss Haruna knelt by Serena's desk, "Is he taking you to the dance tonight?" Serena shook her head, tears beginning to trickle out from under her closed eyelids, "Did you break up? Badly?" she asked softly, certain she finally had the answer to Serena's down mood.

"Oh Miss H!" Serena wailed brokenly, sobs beginning to rack her body as she buried her head in her arms, "It's terrible! He broke up with me and he won't tell me why! I've been over it a thousand times and I haven't a clue what I did! Did he just stop loving me? Am I really that terrible?"

Miss Haruna backed off fractionally and then put her arms around the sobbing student, "No Serena, you're not terrible. In fact you're probably the most loveable girl in the school. You've just to go demand an answer from him. Next time you see him make him stay and talk until you get the answer from him, alright? Maybe then you'll feel better and get an answer out of him."

Serena looked up at her teacher through a haze of tears, "You think so?" she asked quietly.

Miss Haruna nodded and pulled away, standing up to go back to her desk, "Follow your heart Serena, I'm sure it will work out." she winked at her student, "Maybe then you can get back to focusing on school."

Serena smiled and wiped her tears away, "Thanks Miss H. I appreciate it."

*later that day, after school*

Serena leaned against the fence of the school yard, her eyes on the heavens and the clouds that were blowing lazily across the sky, 'Maybe Miss H. is right,' she thought, absently chewing on her bottom lip, 'maybe I should corner Darien and ask a reason from him. At least once I know I'll be able go keep on living...' she closed her eyes, feeling the warm rays of sunshine upon her face but at the same time tears threatened again, 'and if it really is over and I have to live without him...' she shot to her feet and ran, "Never," she whispered, "He and I were destined, I can't believe there isn't some reason why he would be doing this. Oh, but if he's playing games, like at Christmas I'm going to Dust him with my tiara! I don't know how much more my heart can take!"

She suddenly heard the beeping of her communicator and ducked into the park's entryway, "Serena here, what's up?"

"Hi Serena, it's Lita. We need you at the kindergarten, there's this monster attacking and I don't kn-... Amy!" there was a shriek and the communicator went dead.

"Lita! No!" screamed Serena, jumping to her feet. She looked around. Nobody around. "Moon Crystal POWER!" she yelled. Her transformation turned her into Sailor Moon and she was off like a shot, running towards the kindergarten.

* * * * * * * * *

"Jupiter Thunder Clap... ZAP!" Yelled Sailor Jupiter as she threw her lightning attack at the monster. The droid jumped out of the way of the thunder attack and shot a stream of what looked to be black hearts at the scout. Jupiter was thrown backwards as the attack hit, her sailor suit torn and her body gashed by razor sharp edges.

"Jupiter!" yelled Sailor Mercury, running over to the fallen scout. She quickly surveyed the tall brunette's injuries, "Venus, Mars, don't get hit with those hearts!" she called. She flipped her visor on and opened her computer, scanning the monster for structural weaknesses.

The Monster was a shapely woman who was wearing, what looked to be, a rose like costume. It was red, white and black, consisting of several layers of fabric and her arms and legs were covered in thorns. Her skin was a greenish hue that either lightened when she threw her ranged attack or darkened when she engaged in hand to hand.

"Hey, you, the plant with the thorns! Yeah you Stick brain!" The monster looked around for the source of the voice, spotting a figure silhouetted against the setting sun, "How dare you pick on my friends! I'm just spoiling for a fight and you picked the wrong day to mess with me! I fight for love! I fight for Justice! In the name of the Moon I will punish you! I am... Sailor Moon!"

The monster laughed, "I've heard about you, Sailor Moon, you're no match for Rosian! Take this!" she began to spin and rose petals flashed off her costume, heading straight towards Sailor Moon. The other scouts began to yell at their leader to move but Sailor Moon surprised them all. Before the razor edged petals even came close she jumped down and away from them, out of harms way.

"Is that all you've got?" she asked, her hands on her hips, her moon scepter in one. She had the perfect opportunity to dust the distracted monster right there but Sailor Moon was steamed and she wanted a furious fight. Not taking her first chance, she launched a kick at the monster, taking it across the face before taking a whip like blow across her back. The two got knocked in opposite directions, Sailor Moon being the first to recover, much to the astonishment of all of her friends, "Come on, you leech of a plant, I'm not done with you yet!" she screamed, running at it again to hit it. The back of her fuku was in tatters, her back a bloody, bleeding mass but she didn't stop. She pounded on the Monster again and again, kicking it, punching it, dodging it with a grace, persistence and ferocity that none of the scouts had ever seen in her before. She took hit after vicious hit and didn't slow.

The other Sailor Scouts watched, jaws on the floor as Sailor Moon continued to beat on the droid, taking hit after hit herself but never slowing. Tuxedo Mask dropped down next to the scouts in astonishment. He'd been expecting to have to save Sailor Moon soon into the fight but she was obviously furious. He turns to the Sailor Scouts, "What's with her today? What happened to get her so... mad?"

The scouts shrugged, unable to speak as they watched their leader. Tuxedo Mask faded into the background but didn't leave, just in case Sailor Moon slowed. He was impressed that his little Meatball Head could become so ferocious... who knew that behind her happy go lucky exterior a wild cat lay dormant?

Her fuku was in tatters by the time she finally took pity on the poor monster and dusted it. She watched as the dust and the jewel faded from view and then turned back to face her friends. They gasped, seeing that her fuku, already barely decent when intact, was nothing more then shreds. Her body underneath was bloody, ripped with scratches from the monster's thorns. One of her gloves was in shreds, the tatters hanging around her wrist and one boot had been removed by the monster. Sailor Moon had never looked worse. Her entire body from her hair to her feet was a shredded mass of skin, bloody cuts and tears and fuku. And she was smiling. The torn fuku covered her body, barely, and the infuriating girl was smiling. Tuxedo Mask couldn't believe it.

"Well, I feel somewhat better." she said, walking towards her friends. They had all de-transformed when it was obvious that Serena was NOT going to need their help for this fight, all save Tuxedo Mask. She stopped a few feet in front of them and looked down suddenly going white, "Oh god, my pendant! No!" she groped at her chest for a couple of seconds and then turned around, starting to search for something on the ground, "Where is it? Oh no, I can't have lost it!"

Her friends looked at her incredulous, "You're what?! Serena, you're a bloody mess, you need medical help!" said Amy, coming over and trying to pull Serena off the ground.

"No! Amy, you don't understand, Darien game me a pendant for Christmas, I can't believe I wore it into battle, oh god, I've got to find it!" she said, throwing her friend off her and continuing her search, "If I lost that I would never forgive myself."

Tuxedo Mask suddenly landed in front of her, a golden chain dangling from his fingers, "This belong to you I believe," he said quietly. He'd seen her searching for the pendant and couldn't believe that after everything she'd just been through that was her first concern. He was amazed at her attachment to something he had given her while being so cold. She needed medical attention, and quickly, or she might bleed to death. Not from the shallow scratches on their own, but added up the amount of blood on her skin was amazing. He found it hard to believe she was still standing. "Sailor Moon, you need to see a doctor," he added.

Sailor Moon looked up at him, bloody, bruised fingers reaching up to take the pendant when her blue eyes suddenly glazed over and she collapsed to the ground. "Sailor Moon!" he cried, kneeling next to her. Suddenly he saw what must have caused her to collapse. There, embedded in her left shoulder near her heart was a huge thorn. Part of the monster she'd just killed. Tux wrapped his hands around it and pulled it out with a jerk and then pulled Sailor Moon into his arms and leapt off into the night.

Raye, Amy, Lita and Mina watched him go, "I hope she'll be alright," said Raye softly, looking around, "Do you think we should follow them, I mean, he's not exactly been the nicest person to her the last couple of weeks."

"I think she'll be fine." Said Mina, watching the retreating pair, "After all, they are soul mates and even if he's being cold to her. Serena couldn't ask for a better protector. I say we head home and talk to her later about it. Come on, we've got things to do tonight, Serena's in good hands."

The other three nodded their accent and quickly went back to their daily routine, hoping no one had noticed the slight deviation.


Tuxedo Mask quickly made his way into his apartment, the superheroine in his arms. He quickly placed her on the couch and wrapped her in some blankets, torn fuku and all, and prayed he was doing the right thing. Quickly he took the broach on what was left of her bow and opened it. Bright, white light filled the bathroom and her shielded his eyes. When he looked at Sailor Moon again he gasped. In her place was Princess Serena, completely healed, save for a couple of scratches on her arms, her bright eyes open and clear from pain. It was then Darien noticed he was once again in his street clothes. Princess Serena looked around confused, "Darien?" she asked, her tone implying she wasn't 100% sure, "Where am I?"

He took a deep breath, "You're at my apartment, Serena. How do you feel?"

She covered her mouth properly with one hand as she yawned, "Tired, my love." she looked at him, "You have a question?"

"Why... why did you turn into the Princess?"

Serena looked confused, "I'm always the Princess," Then she smiled softly and sat up, tucking her feet under her and causing her satin dress to pool around her. She placed her hands in her lap, her clear, sparkling blue eyes resting on Darien's face, "Why can you see me as the Princess, now, you mean? Well, if I were to turn back into Sailor Moon I would die. In this form alone can the silver crystal heal me completely. Until my wounds are gone, I need to remain as I am. It should not take more than six hours."

Darien nodded and swallowed. He checked his clock. 4:00pm. It was still early in the day and she had 6 hours until she could change back? How was he going to survive? He took her hands, "You... you can't stay here Serenity," he said, forcing his voice to turn cold as he used her title, "I can't let you stay here." he stood up and turned away from her, going to look out the window that lead onto his balcony. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and prayed she would leave before she made this any harder on him. He was already dangerously close to tears and breaking down. The past two and a half months had been torture on him and he wasn't sure how much more he could take before snapping.

He closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against the door. He heard her get up, the rustle of satin and lace audible in the silent apartment.

"You cannot mean that, My Prince," she said softly, approaching him silently, gracefully, "You are my protector and when I need you, you come to my aid, you always have. How can you turn your back on me when I need you the most?" Darien prayed that she wouldn't touch him as his control level edged closer to the limit... She placed a gentle, cool hand on his cheek, standing slightly off to the side, her body bathed in the faint moonlight that was just starting to filter through the clouds. Darien opened his eyes to a vision. His Princess, his warrior, his Serena standing bathed in moonlight, her hair looking like spun gold, her eyes the color of a robin's egg, soft and comforting. He felt himself begin to become pulled into her eyes, those pools of serenity, of love. He tried to look away but his control snapped and he found himself holding her close suddenly, crushing his tiny princess in his arms. She fit him perfectly, her curves matching to his and he felt a sense of coming home as she laid her head on his chest with a sigh.

The princess felt his control snap and as soon as she was wrapped in his arms she closed her eyes, "My love," she said quietly as she slipped her arms around his waist, "Why have you been so cold these last few months? I find it harder and harder to find the true me without you at my side. I feel as if I am slowly dying. Please, I beg of you," she opened her eyes to look up at him, "If it is something I have done, tell me so that I might find myself again in your arms, forever."

Darien tried to block out her words, her plea but he couldn't. Perhaps it was the day, Valentine's Day, the day for lovers that caused his iron will to crack, or perhaps it was just the desperation crowding in on him that caused the flood gates to open. Whatever it was, he found himself telling her everything. The dream and its awful prediction, his desperation at the thought of her being in trouble, his own pain when she would cry because of him. He told her everything, from the start, until Christmas when he felt he could no longer be mean to her, he told her about the feelings he'd had when he'd bought her the pendant and finally he told her about how much it had hurt him turning away from her the other day when she was so vulnerable, covered in mud and looking like a little nymph. He told her about his fears and finally about tonight, when he'd seen her fighting about how proud he was she never gave up, even if she'd beaten the heck out of the monster before she dusted it. Serenity giggled at the appropriate places, especially when he described her all covered in mud, but by the end of his story she had tears running down her cheeks.

"Oh my Prince," she whispered softly, holding him with all the strength in her body. She felt him trebling and knew he, too, was crying over what he'd had to do. She felt his hands lock behind her back securely. "I understand, truly, but you should have come to me and explained, together we are stronger, you should know that by now." Her voice was a soft chastising tone, full of love and regret for lost time, "Nothing can keep us apart if we fight together. Even if I was to die, I would rather be with you for that time left." Her voice dropped to a whisper, "If it meant the world was to be destroyed, I would gladly give my life to stay for a moment in your arms than live a thousand years without you, without holding you, or touching you, or hearing your voice..."

"Or kissing you," added Darien roughly. He looked down at her and tilted her head up so he could look into her shining eyes. He saw she meant every word she'd just said. Leaning down her inched closer and gently, every so achingly gentle, brushed her lips with his own. It was only a whisper of a kiss, like a moonbeam drifting between clouds. Yet the shock after so long an absence was enough to send him to his knees and he found himself leaning against the window for support as his lips slowly covered her in a passionate kiss. As their lips connected for the sweet, aching kiss, Darien willed himself into his armor, somehow it seemed more fitting that he kiss his princess dressed as her prince. He pulled back, his breathing slightly ragged from the brief, intense kiss. Serena's head dropped back to his chest. "I love you," he told her softly, his arms tightly secured around her small body.

Serena smiled up at him, suddenly reaching up and framing his face with her hands, looking deep into his eyes, "And I you, my Prince."

(AN: I -could- end it here, but that'd be no fun... I mean, sure they've reconciled, but hmm... what about the Valentine's Dance? Hmmm... yeah, I think I'll continue)

Her eyes sparkled with a sudden mischievous glint, "Would you care to escort your Princess to the Masquerade Valentine's ball being held at her school tonight?"

Darien laughed, picking her up and gently twirling her around, "Yes my princess, a million time yes. But what shall we wear to the masque?" his voice held a teasing note.

Serenity slid teasing fingers up his arm, fingering the black cloth that was under his armor. She took a step back and eyed him, her eyes fading to the slightly darker blue of desire, "You look fine my love, perfect in fact, to go to a masque. All that is required is a costume."

Darien looked down and laughed, suddenly realizing that he couldn't have chosen a better 'costume' if he'd tried. He pulled her close, "Well, then, my princess, what time is this masque at?"

Serena looked around for a clock. She spied one on his VCR and gasped, "It is in ten minutes!"

He took her hand and squeezed it, pulling her back into him embrace as he leaned her over one of his arms and kissed her softly, her neck cradled in one of his hands, his arm supporting her back, so her head wouldn't dangle dangerously. He pulled away, leaving her hanging on his arm as he held his face nose to nose with hers, "We can be fashionably, late, you know."

Serenity's lips curled into a smile, "You know best, my Prince," she told him, her small hands curling in his hair as she pulled his head down for another kiss.

Darien pulled away after a couple of seconds, keeping it a short kiss as he scooped Serena up in his arms and carried her over to the couch, sitting on the edge of the furniture and just holding her close. His arms were securely wrapped around her, her head resting on his shoulder. He shivered as his innocent Princess lifted her head and grazed his neck with her moist lips. "Serenity," he cautioned, his voice a low growl in his throat.

"Yes?" she purred, her gentle fingers sliding down from behind his head to trace the strong jut of his jaw, the lines of his throat. He wasn't sure if she knew, but everywhere those light fingers went trailing butterfly caresses, he felt her leave a trail of fire.

Darien reluctantly stood up again and put Serena on her own two feet, taking a step back from her. "If you continue, we won't be leaving my apartment," he told her in way of explanation.

She pouted, looking up at him through long lashes, "Darien, I just got you back, I do not want to be apart from you even for a second," she told him, reaching out and wrapping her hands around his. The contact soothed her somewhat but she knew that it would not be enough. He smiled and she felt her insides melt. It was that gorgeously handsome smile that was for her eyes alone. It turned his eyes into deep pools of midnight blue.

"I'll bring you back here when the dance is finished," he told her softly, leaning down to whisper in her ear though they were the only people in his apartment. He felt her shiver with the promises his voice held, "I love you,"

She gave him a brilliant smile and then hugged him, "And, forever, I love you, too. Come. We have a dance to attend."

*At the dance*

Miss Haruna sighed as she played chaperone. 'This is not how I envisioned

Friday night,' she thought peevishly, 'babysitting a bunch of high school kids while they dance.'

"Pat? Care to dance?" asked her date, a man by the name of Robert, as he held out his arm to her. He was tall, had brown hair and brown eyes. Patricia Haruna, or Pat, knew she was totally head over heel for this man.

Patricia smiled at him, "I'd love to."

Robert swung her out on the dance floor for a couple of song while Patricia watched him and the door alternately. About twenty minutes into the dancing she had closed her eyes and was relaxing when a total hush fell over the crowd. She looked up dreamily, "Robert? What's going on?" she asked, her eyes traveling over the students, looking for trouble. She gasped as her eyes fell on the people who'd just walked in.

The whole gym had hushed as the couple entered. They were, by far, the most dressed up couple at the dance. She was wearing a satin gown with gold embroidery and lace-silk bows. It was an off the shoulder gown that hugged her upper body like a glove, showing off creamy white shoulders. On her feet were small white satin sandals with slight heels. She wore no gloves, but the picture she presented was one of royalty. Her hair, done in its natural style was the give away; two buns on top of her head with long blonde ponytails hanging nearly to the floor. On her forehead was the symbol of the crescent moon. Her clear blue eyes showed no pride in her appearance, almost as if she was used to dressing like this. Her beautiful features were alight with love as she continued to look at her companion. She proceeded into the room with a grace that surprised everyone, her arm linked through that of the man beside her. Her attention was focused solely on her companion.

The man was tall, well over a head taller than the diminutive woman on his arm. He has midnight black hair in contrast to her sunshine gold, blue cerulean eyes that took in everyone and everything, as if looking to make sure that there would be nothing to endanger his Princess. He was dressed in black slacks and a black shirt, covered with silver and black armor on his chest, a black broad sword hanging from the scabbard on his hip, and thigh high armored boots. His cape trailed out behind him, a slash of red and black as it swirled around his boots. He was a dashing figure, out matched only by the princess at his side. It was obvious to everyone that these two were dressed as some kind of Prince and Princess. To judge by the crescent moon people figured she was trying to be a moon princess or something. It did nothing to take away the awe people felt as they figured out that these two were actually dressed as part of an old legend. If anything, it only piqued curiosity more, making the air of mystery around them deepen.

The gymnasium was covered in red, silver and gold crepe paper, hearts everywhere including the floor. The lights were dimmed enough to provide a slightly romantic atmosphere without completely blocking out the corners of the room from view with shadows. The soft lighting did nothing to diminish the radiance of the couple. In fact, the light seemed drawn to them.

Miss Haruna gaped at the two as they proceeded into the gym. "Serena?" she said, shocked, unsure if this graceful young lady was the girl from her class. Surely this wasn't the same girl she'd found crying over a broken heart in her class just this morning. Who was that young man she was with? Was this the young man (who looked to be too old for her) that had kept her in tears almost constantly for the past few weeks?

The two seemed to be aware of the gazes they were drawing and the princess blushed, leaning up to whisper something to her prince. He smiled and nodded. She stepped away from him and gracefully walked off to the lady's room. The Man walked forward and talked to the DJ. They exchanged words, the DJ's face turning into one of disbelief as he talked to the man. The DJ nodded and the man turned away and began playing music again. Several girls who had come to the dance solo in hopes of finding a dancing partner crowded around him suddenly and begged him to dance. He politely declined and walked back towards the lady's room, stopping a good distance away from the door, his eyes never leaving it.

The girls slowly backed off as he showed no interest in them, but hovered around, wanting to get a better glimpse of the mysterious princess he'd come in with. The door opened and out stepped the vision. Her skin was flawless, her eyes clear, her step graceful as she approached the man. He bowed to her and she curtsied and he offered her his arm in a silent question. The girls watching nearly swooned as she took it, her hand trailing down to grasp his as he led her on to the dance floor. They were given a respectful distance as they started to waltz around the floor. The Music had been changed when the DJ saw the couple arrive on the dance floor. The DJ had done as the man had asked and put in one of his CDs that people rarely asked for. It was a classical CD and it held some very nice pieces. Waltzes and the like, but it was rare that at high school dances people wanted to waltz. Seeing these two out on the floor the DJ was glad he hadn't given in to the temptation to leave the disc at home.

Serena and Darien danced for hours. They were lost in their own little words, the music playing softly in the background as they talked softly. They discussed everything that they had missed about each other the last couple of months. The crowd became adjusted to their presence, feeling a little like intruders by dancing near the couple so they were given their own little place in the middle of the floor. Gradually, as the hours passed, the circle became smaller. Finally, when the last dance was announced, they were blended into the crowd (as best a true prince and his princess can be blended). They held each other close as the last song was played. Serena blushed as the dedication was read. "This last song, Take My Breath Away, goes out to Serenity, the true Princess of my dreams, from your Prince." said the DJ, feeling a little foolish reading the personal dedication aloud.

Serena snuggled closer to Darien, "Thank you for making this a magical night," she said softly, for his ears alone. She was dancing with her feet on top of his boots but he didn't seem to mind. Her head on his chest she closed her eyes. As the song played she felt a gentle pressure on her chin and opened her eyes to look up at him. He smiled, seeing her dreamy eyed gaze and lowered his head to kiss her. They stayed together, locked in a gentle yet passionate kiss, until the song finished playing. Finally she pulled away and he nodded, leading her off the dance floor. He felt how exhausted she was, having to be in Princess form, dancing while mending the wounds she'd received earlier that night. As they walked off the floor Serenity felt a gentle hand grasp her arm. She stopped and looked back, her blue eyes contentedly happy, yet holding an exhaustion that went beyond that of the body.

"Serena?" said Miss Haruna cautiously.

Serenity nodded, smiling for her teacher, "Hello, Miss Haruna. I didn't know you were chaperone tonight."

Patricia smiled, "I didn't expect to see you here tonight. Who's this young man?"

"You remember the conversation we had earlier today, Miss Haruna?" the teacher nodded, "Well, we worked things out. I took your advice. This is Darien. Darien, this is my teacher, Miss Haruna."

Darien took her teacher's hand and, instead of shaking it, kissed the back of her fingers formally, bending over to do so, "Charmed, Miss Haruna." He said, his face straight and sincere.

"Nice to meet you Darien," she replied. "You two run along. I'll see you in class on Monday Serena. Take care." She winked at her and then walked off with her date.

Serenity grinned up at Darien, "I think she likes you. Come, My Prince, the night is still young..."

The End.

Author's note: Ain't I a stinker? What a place to end it! Anyway, yeah, that's it for this one. I actually found this a while back on one of my disks, and decided to post it. Let me know what you think. if you'd like to get in touch with me, comments are great!! :)

Much appreciated,