I'm ALLIVVVEEEE! looks around Long time no see! Props to Saturns Darkness for reading my mind on the outcome. Enjoy the chappie. TT

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. (careful I'm bitter to see this story go. Bewaaaarrree the sadness! O.o)

Down with Love

Chapter 21


Another fun-filled day at the office.

Everyone should have been working hard. There was no time for fun and games. Christmas was just around the corner, and, god forbid, you should have to work at all on Christmas day. Meanwhile, stacks of paper still cluttered a certain blonde's desk. Chances were they would remain there until she saw it fit to move them.

Serena sat listlessly watching the snow coat the ground.


It covered everything under a blanket of pristine white. She stood and crossed the room longing to feel the cold. How could something so simple be so wondrous? Her warm breath fanned out to make a cloud appear on the chilly window. She watched, partially interested, as it slowly faded away. A familiar memory appeared in her head before she firmly squashed it down realizing the similarity as, it too, slowly faded out of existence.

She needed the cold. It gave her peace. Pressing her forehead against the cool glass reminded her to stay grounded.

The sounds of the busy office drifted around her. Sounds that broke the serenity she had tried so hard to maintain. As she looked down on the busy city her thoughts of the white snow reformed.

Secretly, she admitted to being disgusted with the city sometimes. No matter how much snow came down to cover the dirt and grime, New York would find a way to bring it back to the surface.

Did no one see it?

The beauty and tranquility the snow brought? Could no one take a minute from their busy lives and stop to take a look at the snow? Her eyelids closed languidly as she shut the world out. The world that had forgotten.

Forgotten what it felt like to just breathe…

and let go.

It had been years since she had seen him. Heard his laugh or admired his smile. The man who had unknowingly stolen a heart.

Serenity's heart.

A shudder passed over her at the memory. Feelings came rushing back. Four years to be exact.

She had tried to win his heart only to realize one crushing reality. Coal black eyelashes fluttered on her rosy cheeks. She hadn't wanted it anymore. Nor had she needed it like she had thought she did. A small sigh escaped her lips. Her half-lidded gaze traveled unseeingly over the ground. She turned feeling a warm breeze over her neck. Who was it?

Nothing was her answer.

I didn't surprise her to see no one there. Slender hands ran over her forearms to get rid of the goose bumps that had formed. After what had happened nothing really surprised her anymore. Maybe that was the problem.

She still dreamed about the day when she left. That was one solace. She could dream all she wanted, but she would never feel.

That was nothing. He was nothing. A fleeting kiss…

A faded memory…

Forgotten feelings.

It had struck her. A blind man could have seen it. Her hands rose to the necklace at her throat. All of her questions were answered in a shocking reality.

She had forgotten what it felt like to feel.

With the help of a tissue everything was fixed. Serena didn't know when the tears had come. It was like that one realization had opened up years of tears. A mental slap was her reward. Blubbering would do her no good. Besides…she was overreacting.

No one wanted a crybaby to be leader of the most prominent company since LGM. Years of hard work had taught her that. Nothing was going to make her give that up. She bit her lip, something she had inherited over the years. Serena knew she was just being selfish. She needed to distract herself from old memories. Why live in the past when the present is so bright? The snowflakes continued to drift down unaware of the turmoil she was in.

Tears hadn't helped her to create Crescent Moon Management and they weren't helping her now.

A gentle knock at the door signaled company. Now suck it up. Wiping away any traces of tears she straightened up before her unexpected guest could see. A recognizable blonde made herself known as she walked past the open door. Her step faltered the brisk pace she donned before replacing it. Serena kept her composure hoping her eyes weren't red or puffy from her little episode.

"Is there something you need?" There was a slight rasp in her voice from her tears. Serena kept her mouth shut before she did anything else to make herself obvious. She held her breath hoping, for just once, Mina wouldn't be so observant.

Mina cocked an eyebrow but otherwise nothing more was said on the matter. The look was all that was needed. Her composure somewhat slipped as she tried to withhold a groan.

Mina knew.

And that was more disastrous than anything Serena would have thought of. Changing the subject was best. Mina shuffled her papers before presenting them to Serena. Serena gave her a questioning look before putting down the pile, careful not to mix it with the rest of her mess. One glance at the pile told Mina just who had not been working as of late. Her smile could have lit up a room.

"You have applicants coming today for an interview about the new secretary job open!" A brief look of confusion drifted over Sere's face before the dread set in. The only way out of this little memory lapse was shameless begging.

"Don't we have enough secretaries? Wasn't a new batch just put in last week? Why didn't I know about this? Please tell me I don't have to do this?" Begging was getting her nowhere. Not even the old fashioned puppy eyes. Mina rolled her eyes listening to the same speech that was used for the same problem last week.

She gave Serena's head a little flick. "How could you forget? I wrote it down on your schedule book and your life-size calendar for god sakes!"

Serena went to silence her before the rant went into overtime. The finger had been waved in her face one to many times. Her head bowed in shame. She knew when she was chastised. It was not long before those little devil horns formed above her pretty head. A shark-like grin engulfed her face.

"I get it! Now, don't you have your own business to check up on?" Serena watched highly entertained by the look upon her face. Cheeks puffed out eyes flaming. Again she bit her lip to stifle her uncontrollable giggles. Too bad it was only there for an instant.

"I left Molly in charge. Lord knows the woman needs something else to do than be ravished by that beast all day!" Her nose crinkled in mock distaste. Maxwell. Serena chuckled at the insult. Molly was not the best at keeping secrets. So, naturally, everyone knew about her love life. As an ongoing joke, whenever she was asked about the sex she always answered the same way. The vision of the perky red-head (gushing no less!) with her sparkling emerald eyes remained the same in her mind.

'It was so good we named it!'

After having a good laugh Mina went to check up on her husband. She did it every hour. And every hour he'd go missing. Serena thought they had turned it into the best game of hide-and-seek she had ever seen. A tad obsessive, but who was she to judge? She had dated a guy with a split personality.

Serena listened as another woman droned on about her less than adequate skills. Fingers drummed against her desk impatiently. Her eyes glazed over as she nodded continually only half listening every once in a while.

Would this torture never end?

As the interview ended she wanted to say the same thing she had done to the countless others before this woman.

'We'll call you.'

Somewhere along the lines her words had changed. "I'm sorry but you must be a black-belt in karate to qualify for this job." By the look on the woman's face Serena had cut her off without knowing it. It didn't matter. After the first 45 the rest seem like a big blur anyway. The woman was not to be deterred. Proudly holding out a piece of paper she nodded her head happily.

"It took three years, but I'm glad I took the course!" There, being held by two fingers was a certificate for passing tae-kwon-do with flying colors. Uncertain eyes trailed over it.

This lady had to be kidding.

Serena knew a new route had to be taken to get rid of this one. Wiping imaginary dust off her jacket she put on her best 'holier than thou routine'. "I'm afraid you must also have a doctorate, bachelors, and a college diploma." The woman shuffled helplessly through her portfolio.

'Got ya'!

It didn't matter that she herself may not have had ALL the credentials. All that mattered was that this lady was gone. Soon. Serena stood up to shake the woman's hand. When paper was its substitute she was astounded. When he she gotten these? Ms. "Confident" smiled brightly awaiting her acceptance. If she noticed Serena's eye twitch she said nothing.

She had not yet begun to fight! Feeling flustered was not something Sere was used to. That was the last thing she ever wanted to feel.


An icy look echoed her feeling and the woman's grin faltered. It was time to cook her goose. (A/N I've always wanted to say that. )

"Yes, well, I just don't like you. Good day madam!" She straightened her papers up waiting for the lady to take her leave. Keeping her eyes adverted she went back to work.


"I said, GOOD DAY!" The tic in her eye worsened.

Finally getting the point, the terror made her way hastily out the door. The fake smile on her face disappeared and her demeanor changed drastically. What a nightmare! She slumped in her chair trying to make herself look as invisible as possible. Irrepressible groans flooded the room. A feminine voice roused her from her dark thoughts.

"That bad, huh?"

She rubbed both temples willing the headache to go away to no avail. Not trusting her motor skills she stayed put. There was no telling what her hands could do if they got free. A frown marred her pretty features as she tried to veil her poorly disguised frustration.

"You have NO idea."

A pair of hands found their way into her hair giving her a much needed massage. She purred languidly. All of the stress slowly faded away. It was as if the person knew exactly what spots to hit to make it all feel better. She would thank the person but she was afraid they would stop. And she didn't want that. It felt so good. A satisfied groan rolled off her lips. The giggle behind her told her that her guest found all of this quite amusing.

The massage stopped with a firm smack to the head.

"Ow! What the hell—Raye?!" Raye smirked at Serena's dumbfounded expression. The fish expression had to be her favorite. Cherry was a close second. Serena had to withhold bad words. Somehow her angel of mercy had turned into the messenger of death. She was not happy.

"I thought you had gone back to Japan." She accused snidely. "What the hell do you want from me now?" The girl was everywhere! A smug look crossed her features. "Where's Chad? Did ya get a divorce already?" Raye scoffed and danced around the subject. She could be so mean!

"Don't kid yourself, Sere. I only came back to do this." A dainty hand hovered into the air. Before Serena realized what was happening, it was too late.

Another smack was delivered to the back of her head.

"That's for dumping the most mouth-watering man New York has ever seen. What the hell where you thinking? You aren't getting any younger ya know! You should have married him BEFORE your eggs dry up and die! And when were you going to tell me?" It was said. She struck her 'I'm pissed' pose.

For someone so dainty seeing those fists on such slim hips was awfully scary.

Serena flinched under her tone but held her ground. She shrugged her shoulders and rubbed the pads of her fingers over her temples trying to soothe her aching head. Now she remembered exactly why she didn't want Raye to know. Pain. The tapping of heels reminded her just what a time-bomb she was without answers.

"Preferably at your funeral..." That was the phrase that had sealed her fate.

"Wrong answer!" Raye raised her hand in preparation. Squeaking for her life, Serena held her hands up not in any mood to have her head rearranged again.

"Now do you see why I didn't tell you? You were about to make me mentally challenged!" Her accusations ran amuck. "How would you have gotten anything if I was in a coma?" Raye's roll of the eyes was less than flattering. She sat down ready for the story that was unraveling.

Raye sat there shocked as Serena's story came to an end. And what a story it was. Feeling numb and tears in her eyes she stood up…

and promptly slapped Serena upside the head. AGAIN!

Serena struggled to regain her bearings. It was now official. None of her friends cared about her health or mental state. They all loved to picture Sere the vegetable. Huffing in impatience she listened for any signs of anger. Raye was oblivious to all of this as she stared off into space. Serena was about to poke her when she spoke up.

"You have got to be the biggest idiot on the planet."

Her voice was eerily calm. As far as she could tell no malice laced her words. Serena had never seen Raye keep her face that emotionless. She slowly stood up, as if any sudden movements could cause certain death. Serena floundered for a moment on something sophisticated to say during a moment like this.

"Uh." Was her so eloquent response. Not only did she have nothing to say she had probably sent one of her closest friends into shock.

Raye found her voice after the longest pause in history. Well, in Serena's history at least. "I gotta go." She shoved past her continuing mechanically to the door. Serena rushed forward to her blue eyes pleading. "Wait! Don't you have anything else to say to me? You storm in and act like you own the place then yo-"

"Fix it." It was said so quietly her hearing almost didn't pick it up

"What do you mean." Those two words cutting off her brave tirade. Raye just kept her back turned while reaching for the handle. The softness of her voice calm and monotone. "Just that. Fix it, Sere."

Then she was gone.

A simple response. She stood frozen in time the meaning of the fiery woman's words echoing in her mind.

A not so simple feat.

She stumbled to her chair and redirected herself to the window to the site below. The soft snowflakes from earlier were no more. They were coming down hard with no stop in sight. A reluctant sigh sounded loud and unfamiliar in the office.

What was she going to do?

Another knock at the door startled her out of her thoughts. "I'm sorry but the spot has already been-" As she swiveled around toward the door the words died in her throat. Covered in snow from head to toe was the man who had plagued her dreams years ago. A determined smile lit up his handsome face as his eyes remained dull.

"Hello, Serena."

The silence was deafening as she secretly glanced over him. His hair was slightly disheveled and damp, the last flakes of snow melting into the thick locks. Those powerful blue eyes were a shadow of what they once were as his orbs peered at her through obsidian lashes.

"Darien." A breath she didn't know she was holding released as he came to sit in the chair across from her. All false pretenses where dropped as he got straight to the point with one look. A slight spark was in his eyes before it disappeared as fast as it came. She sat up straighter feeling she needed to prove herself to this man. "What do you want from me, Darien?" There had to be a better reason than 'I was in the neighborhood' for this less than casual visit.

"I want the job."

The job? She repeated her thoughts at the ludicrous idea. "You want the job? I don't know who you think you are fooling with, but I suggest you leave before I call security." Her eyebrow raised more than ready to get him as far away as possible. That was before he grinned. That same boyish grin that held secrets and gave undeniable pleasure. She coughed hoping her slight blush hadn't been noticed.

"I don't see why not? Surely it has not been filled after all of the sullen looking women who came before me?" His mocking grin stayed grudgingly in place as she squirmed slightly in her seat. He would not get the best of her! Not after being gone from her life for this long! He watched entirely too amused as she held her head high looking ready to kill. He had come prepared. He would get the job. It wasn't as much the job as the woman offering it.

She thought she hadn't suffered all these years. She could pretend, but he knew the truth. He knew about those nights she sat at home alone. He still woke up in the middle of the night calling her name. Every dream different ending the same way.

Her leaving him.

This wasn't a dream and she would not run away that easily again.

"You're not getting the job. I have hundreds of women out there vastly more capable of filling this position than you. I'd appreciate it if you don't slam the door on the way out." She kept her tone snappish not wanting to be near him any longer. Her glare hardened when he remained seated staring at her disapprovingly. "Now Sere-" She intercepted his statement.

"Ms. Stone."

He gave a curt nod before proceeding. "Ms. Stone. After all your preaching about women being equal to men in the workplace do you really want it to get out that you turned down a MAN for the job because you didn't think him adequate?" Darien watched smirking as she paled at the realization. Trying to regain whatever advantage she had, Serena busied herself with putting on her jacket and stuffing all her papers into a briefcase. "Don't be foolish. My readers are loyal. They will choose me over an over-confident backstabber like you." His eyes followed her hungrily as she stomped out of the room.

The chase had begun.

He followed her as stunned eyes glued to him realizing just who was chasing after their poor boss. "Why Ms. Stone you wound me." He put a fist over his chest pretending to be horribly offended.

Yeah right.

His whole demeanor changed as she went about the office fully prepared to leave. "Hold all calls for me please." She was heading toward the elevator when a strong pair of arms enveloped her.


She stiffened at his touch. Waves of memories crashed over her making her feel like she was drowning, "Let go of me. This conversation is over. WE are over." Darien flinched at the spite and coldness in her voice. "You don't mean that. I let you go once and it was the stupidest thing I had ever done. I love you, Serena." She struggled in his grasp as he pulled her closer inhaling the scent he had missed so much.

Vanilla and Strawberries.

"You lie." She seethed but had relaxed in her attempt to free herself. He shook his head pulling her closer as if she could disappear any moment. "I know you love me too Sere. Why won't you stop fighting it? There's nothing wrong with falling in love. Why won't you fall for me?" Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. Her head rested on her should as she stifled the urge to cry. "You don't deserve love. I can't afford to trust you again. Not after the way you broke my trust.

Just like you can't regain my love.

He lifted her chin tenderly. Looking into her eyes her tried to convey everything her felt for her. "Regain? I never lost it. You can't honestly look me in the eyes and say you stopped loving me." Her lower lip trembled as his gaze softened. "I…." She remained speechless turning her head away. Darien wanted to her it. If she could seriously say she didn't love him he would walk out of her life forever. His hand brought her face back up to him. "Tell me Serena! Look me in the eyes and SAY you don't love me!" His very soul demanded it.

Feeling overpowering emotions he crashed his warm lips down onto her soft ones. Old sparks flew as her backed her up against the nearest wall. At first she didn't respond. He needed to show her how he felt. Gently urging her lips open he groaned into the kiss.

Timidly she started kissing back.

The loving kiss turned carnal as desire long denied was unleashed. He explored every crevice of her mouth. Their tongues sparred neither wanted to back down. Heated pants were shared as he backed her further into a secluded corner.

Her mews of passion called out to him as he delved deeper on hand creeping up to trace the edge of her bra. She slowly maneuvered a knee up caressing him through his tight jeans. With one arm around his neck running fingers through his hair the other tried frantically to unbutton his shirt. Inch by each his muscular tan chest came into view. He stifled loud moans in the kiss as she rubbed seductively up against him. The hand that had previously been tracing patterns under her bra now cupped the breast weighing it carefully switching attention from one to the other. When no protest was heard he slowly started unbuttoning her shirt.

As he nipped and kissed his way down she fumbled with the button of his pants. When one mouth engulfed her left breast the feeling of cold water splashed over her. Breaking out her of lust induced haze she forcefully pushed him off.


How could she have been so foolish? She had gotten caught up in the moment and let her feelings get a hold of her. Darien stared up eyes still clouded over.


She hurriedly fixed her hair while pressing the button for the elevator. What if someone had seen them? She looks around for any signs of life over by the secluded elevator.

When her shirt was rebuttoned and her bra back in its rightful place she glared down at and equally disheveled Darien. He haphazardly zipped up his pants not caring about the shirt buttons still open.

"We can't do this Darien. I can't do this." He looked at her disbelievingly. "How can you say that after what we just shared?" The elevator dinged opening its doors for her. As she turned to leave his voice called to her.

"If you get on that elevator you'll never see me again." She froze before stepping into the elevator. "Then that's how things will be. Good-bye Darien." Before the doors could close his hand stopped them. "Can't we just forgive and forget? Start over?" A sliver of hope went through him when she seemed to think about it. She reached out pressed the button and the doors closed.

"Dammit. Come back to me Sere. Don't leave like this" He tried to keep his spirits high counting the seconds until she would come out of those doors and into his arms. He walked away languidly before stopping a few feet from the elevator. "5...4...3...2..." He waited with baited breath shoulders slumping when the only sounds were those of gossiping females.

Defeated, Darien made his way out of the building and to his car. As he opened the door a voice her thought he'd never hear again sounded behind him.

"I refuse to start over. I've done that once and don't want to do it again. I can't forget either. We've done too much to act like it hasn't happened. It will take some time but we need to learn to trust each other." There was a slight waver in her voice as he turned around.

The wind whipped her hair teasingly around her ace. Snowflakes gently floated down only to be caught on her long lashes above eyes that sparkled like the sun. She smiled radiantly at him.

"You can forgive?" He walked closer as if afraid to frighten her. She nodded tears spilling down her rosy cheeks.

"What do you say? She winked at him drying her tears with a sleeve. He engulfed her in a hug and twirled her around. We he finally put her down it was with a quick peck on the lips.

"I say we get started on the sequel of your book! How about making it a little more risqué?" He grinned lecherously when she slapped him on the chest. "You're a beast!"

A twinkle appeared in his eye. "Yeah but I'm your beast now." Serena rolled her eyes playfully. What had she gotten herself into? His voice interrupted her thought. "How about we get started on that book?"

He dipped his head down capturing her lips in another earth shattering kiss. The snow fell around them sticking to them in a fine coat of white before melting. Older couples smiled at the display of affection while other couples with kids silenced the teasing at watching adults kiss. Serena closed her eyes in bliss. She had one thing right. He was nothing. Nothing but…


The end. sobs brokenly I hope whoever is still reading this liked it. I can't do a sequel no matter how hard I try. That would just be dragging it out. You never know when I might do a silly one-shot. Never fear. I still have CSTM to save me from my droll life!

Bestest wishes!!!!!


Down with love!