I Need You
by Phantasy Star
.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Chapter Thirteen

.
Darien put his hands in the pockets of his black jacket as he and Serena watched
the girls walk quietly up to the gravestone.

"I love you Grandma," Mina whispered as she and the other girls placed beautiful
bouquets of flowers in front of the tomb stone.

"Good job," Darien said as the girls walked back, and patted Mina's head
affectionately, "I'm sure Grandma appreciated it."

Serena smiled sadly and looked at Mrs. Muriel's resting place one more time.

"Come on," she said to the girls, "It's cold, let's get back into the car."

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Andrew was panting by the time he got to the bridge at the park to meet Darien.

"I'm sorry I'm late!" Andrew said, "I was supposed to be here fifteen minutes
early, but there was a car accident on 5th and-"

"It's all right," Darien said.

"Please, please tell me what's going on. Tell me you and Serena have changed
your mind about letting the girls come with us..."

Darien crossed his arms over his chest and let out a deep breath.

"Well, Serena and I have talked it over and we've come up with something that
we both think is the best solution to everything."

Andrew nodded nervously.

"We want the girls to have their parents, but... We don't want them to move away
with you. They've had enough changes this year as it is and I don't want them
switching houses and school too."

"O... Oh..." Andrew said.

"Which means that you'll have to move in with them, to live here, in Tokyo.
Mrs. Muriel has enough money left over to cover the rent for a while longer, so
you don't have to worry about money problems for the time being..."

Darien paused, "That also means you can't take the job in Kyoto."

Andrew didn't answer for a moment.

Darien sighed, "I know this is the same dilemma you faced five years ago. You have
to realize that the girls don't need to be well-off or have a lot of things. They
just need their parents. And if you can't give up your career or a high salary for
your kids, then you really don't-"

"I'll do it," Andrew interupted, a determined look appearing on his face.

Darien glanced at him, "Are you sure?"

"Of course!" Andrew exclaimed, "And I know Rita will say yes too! I'm not going to
be stupid and make the wrong decision again!"

Darien smiled slightly, "Good."

"Thank you," Andrew said gratefully, "Thank you so much for this second chance.
I promise that my wife and I will not mess things up again."

"Then we've got a deal," Darien said.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Rita kept the door open as Andrew and Darien moved the new bed into the house.

"I can help you with that," Lita said excitedly to Andrew, "I'm really strong,
ya know."

"Li Li, get away from all that furniture," Serena exclaimed from the couch,
"It's dangerous."

"Aw, I wanted to help," Lita pouted.

"Why don't you go help Aunt Rita carry in her stuff?" Serena suggested.

"Me too!" Mina said and the two girls ran outside to Andrew and Rita's car.

Serena smiled and went into the kitchen.

"Hey guys," she said to Amy and Raye who were sitting at the table, "What's going on?"

"Mommy..." Amy said quietly, "Why are Aunt Rita and Uncle Andrew moving in?"

"Dar Dar told you before," Serena said, "They like you very much and want to spend
more time with you."

The two little girls exchanged glances. Then Raye bit her lip.

"Are they our mommy and daddy?" she whispered.

Serena's eyes widened, "How did you...?"

She shook her head, not needing a response. She looked at them with concern, worried
about their reaction.

"Yes," she whispered back, "But they're here only if you want them to be here, okay?"

Raye's eyes watered.

"Ray Ray," Serena smiled, feeling emotional herself, "There's nothing more important
than you girls' happiness. So if you don't feel comfortable about this, or if you-"

"Are you leaving?" Amy said, tears threatening to fall.

"What?" Serena exclaimed, "I..."

The letter from Harvard flashed in her mind again.

"I'll be here until you don't need me anymore," Serena promised.

She reached over the table and pulled the two girls into a hug.

"Come on, don't cry now..."

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Serena went outside to the living room and tapped Rita on the shoulder.

"Hey," she said softly, "Ray Ray and Amy want to talk to you. You too, Andrew."

The parents looked at each other, surprised.

Darien glanced at Serena and realized what was going on.

"Why don't you two go on in too?" he said to Mina and Lita gently.

Serena and Darien watched as the others disappeared from the living room.

"I hope this goes well," Serena said.

"How can it not?" Darien said with a smile, "It's a family being reunited."

"You're right," Serena said and leaned on him, "It's going to be great..."

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

One month later...

Darien opened the car door as Serena got inside.

"Major presentation this morning and not enough preparation," Serena whined, "I'm
not going to remember what to say."

"Then you can just stand up there and look pretty," Darien said as he turned the
ignition key.

"That only works with the male teachers..." Serena complained.

Darien laughed and they pulled out of the driveway.

"Andrew's picking the girls up after school today, right?" he said.

"Yep."

"Hard to believe the school year's almost over..." Darien said.

"For you anyway," Serena said, "We don't get off till June."

"Right," Darien said.

They drove in silence for a few minutes.

"Hey," Serena said quietly, "I've been thinking..."

"What about?" Darien said.

"It feels like the girls don't need us that much anymore. They're comfortable
with Andrew and Rita now, and..."

Darien sighed. He had been afraid of this.

"And you think we should move out," he finished for her.

"Well, maybe..." Serena said, "I don't want to, but... but I think we should..."

"Yeah, I think so too..." Darien nodded, his face unreadable, "I guess this frees you
up... you know, in case you decide to... move someplace outside of Tokyo..."

Serena hesitated, "I've been meaning to tell you-"

"No, wait," Darien said, almost frantically, "Just hear me out, okay?"

Serena nodded.

"You mind me stopping the car for five minutes? We're early anyway."

"Sure..." Serena said.

He parked the car on the side of the road and took a deep breath.

"Serena, I know you've been thinking about going to Harvard next year, and the only
thing that's been stopping you is the girls..."

He paused, feeling uncomfortable.

"I wanted to convince you to stay because the girls needed you, but now I guess things
are different, and... and I... uh..."

He stared out the window, afraid that she would look at him while he said what he was
about to say.

He sighed. "The thing is, the girls may not need you, but... but I do. You've... made
me different, and you've made me... better. I don't know if I can do it without you.
But I know it's an incredible opportunity for you so if you choose to go then I
completely understand. I just want you to know the entire situation."

"I... I like you. A lot. And these past seven months, living here with you and the
girls... it's been incredible. You're the family I've always wanted. And I've never
cared about anything or anyone more than the five of you. It's hard enough for me
to say goodbye to the girls. I don't know if I can handle losing you too... But like
I said, even if you leave, I'll be here. I'll wait for you if you'll let me."

He winced. "There, I've said it. I'm done."

Serena frowned slightly.

Then she put her hand over his.

"Darien..." she said softly, "Actually, I was going to get you to drop me off at the
post office beside my school..."

She opened her purse and took out a white envelope.

A letter addressed to Harvard.

"Oh," Darien said.

He turned away from her.

"I see. Well, okay then."

"Darien..."

"No, no, I get it," Darien said, stepping on the gas pedal and pulling out and into
the street, "You've... weighed your options... You've made a decision. I told you,
I understand, okay?"

His left fist was clenched as he used his right hand to steer the wheel.

"Darien, listen to-"

"I'll just go back to the way things were. Living alone in my apartment. I liked
it, I liked having my own space. Not having to commit to anyone. What I said before,
I wasn't really-"

"It's a letter of deferral," Serena interrupted.

It took a moment for his brain to process the information.

"What?" Darien said, finally turning to her.

"I'm requesting that... they let me go next year, or the year after instead. I told
them I had a family here that I couldn't leave behind."

He didn't say anything.

"The girls still need me, even if I'm not living there. And I need them. There's
also a tiny possibility I need you too."

Darien sighed in relief and finally met her gaze, his eyes full of wamrth.

"Of course," Serena continued, "It's going to be a pretty one-way relationship. You
just told me you need me. NEED me. Who would have thought that you were the dependent
type?"

"Serena..." Darien said warningly.

"I mean, I guess I have to stay, if you feel THAT strongly about me," Serena teased.

"I don't feel that-" Darien exclaimed, then sighed, "I do. I really do."

He stopped the car in front of the post office and leaned over to kiss his girlfriend.

"Thanks," he said with a smile.

"You're welcome," Serena said.

Then she sighed, "I guess we'll talk to Andrew and Rita about moving out tonight."

"Yeah, it's going to be hard," Darien said, "But I'll still have you, Meatball Head."

"Right back at you," Serena said.

Darien waited as Serena got out of the car and leaned back against the driver's seat.

He smiled.

Things were going to be all right.

.
.

I Need You
by Phantasy Star
.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Epilogue

.
Ding dong!

"Dar Dar and Serena are here!" Mina screamed excitedly.

"Well, then go get the door," Amy said, coming down the stairs.

"Come on, Li Li!" Raye called, "They're here."

Lita rushed downstairs, "I'm coming I'm coming!"

Mina stepped forward and opened the front door.

"Happy Easter, kiddos," Darien said, dropping the bags he was carrying and swooping
down to give Mina and Lita a warm hug.

"Happy Easter!" the girls chorused.

"You've gotten bigger!" Serena said as she kissed Amy and Raye on the cheeks.

"You say that every time," Mina smiled.

"Well it's true," Serena said, "So where are your parents going tonight?"

"I don't know," Raye said, "They were still trying to decide when they left the house."

"Well, it was our agreement that we get you girls all to ourselves for Easters and
Christmases, so I guess they'll have to figure it out."

"Ooh, what's in the bags?" Mina said.

"Just some things we picked up for you," Darien said.

"Ooh, Street Fighters?" Lita enthused as they walked through the living room couch.

"Sorry, Li Li," Serena said, "You know how Dar Dar feels about video games."

Lita sighed and unwrapped her present. Then she gasped.

"Cookbook for kids!" she cried, "This isn't kitchen set stuff, this is real!"

"Well, you're twelve now," Darien said, "I think you've had enough practice to move on
to the real thing - with your mom's help, of course."

"I love this red sweater..." Raye said.

"I picked it out," Serena winked, "Red is very attractive to younger guys..."

"Serena!" Darien exclaimed.

"She's thirteen now!" Serena said, "Never too early to start thinking..."

"Compact Oxford dictionaries 11th edition..." Amy whispered in awe, "With over three
thousand definitions and variations as the 10th edition and including English language
slang terms dating back to the fifteen hundreds..."

"Those books got me through all of university," Darien said wisely.

Finally, Mina opened her package and gasped as she took out a small white dress.

"It's so pretty..." she whispered.

"That reminds me," Darien said, "Girls, we have an announcement to make."

The four girls looked at them.

"Serena and I have decided to get married," Darien said proudly.

Raye gasped, "Really?"

"It's about time, don't you think?" Darien smiled and put his arm around Serena.

"And we'd like you to be our flower girl," Serena said to Mina, "We hope you like the
dress."

"I do!" Mina squealed.

"And Amy, Li Li, Raye, I was wondering if you'd do me the honour of being my pretty
bridesmaids."

"Of course!" the girls said in unison and they jumped up to hug Serena.

Darien grinned, "Good. All right, let's get to dinner then, I'm starving."

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

Serena sighed as she and Darien walked down the steps of the large house.

"I've missed them," Serena said, "I'm glad we decided to do the wedding here. Too bad
about our friends in the States..."

"Well, we had the engagement party there, so they shouldn't be too mad..." Darien said.

"Hey guys," a voice called from across the yard.

"Rick!" Serena exclaimed and ran over to hug him, "I haven't seen you since forever!"

"How have you been?" he said cheerfully.

"We noticed that your house is all packed up when we came by," Serena said.

"My parents are selling it. I'm going back to New Zealand. Helping out with the family
business, maybe settling down there if I find someone right for me..."

"That's great," Serena said.

"Hey Rick," Darien said good-naturedly but putting an arm around Serena as he went up to
them.

"Hey man," Rick said, "Well, I'd better go. Still have a lot of wrapping to do."

The couple watched as he disappeared back into the house.

"Sheesh, Darien," Serena said, pulling his arm away, "We're getting married. You don't
have to mark your territory anymore, okay? You don't see me getting all weird when we
see Elisa."

"That's because she's married and has two kids," Darien reminded her.

"Hard to believe, isn't it?" Serena said, "She was pretty happy last time we talked to
her though."

"Yeah, she was..."

The two got into the car and began to drive through the night.

"You know..." Serena said thoughtfully, "I feel like we did everything backwards. First,
we had kids. Then we moved in together. And now we're dating."

"At least the getting married part is in order," Darien joked, "Although... there' still
something we haven't done..."

"What's that?"

"Well, you know... between the moving in together and having kids."

Serena's face turned red, "Mrs. Muriel would kill you for saying something like that."

"There aren't any rules against procreation..." Darien argued.

"I meant before marriage!" Serena said.

"Won't be long now anyway..." he mused, "Then we-"

"Darien!" Serena exclaimed.

He laughed.

"I want four, by the way," he said, half-serious.

"We'll see after the first one," Serena said, "I have enough on my hands with you to take
care of."

Darien smiled at her as the two disappeared down the road, talking about the future.

Serena sighed contently.

She had everything she needed.

The moon was bright that night.

.
.

Author's Notes:

Well, here it is! The long-awaited ending
to the probably long-forgotten fanfic!

Once again, I apologize for the ridiculous delay.
Happy Easter everybody! And thanks for reading.

Phantasy Star
March 26, 2005