Title: April Fools
Author: Alicia Blade


August 2004 ANs

This story was written three to six years ago. I've retained the original author's notes for novelty purposes, though some may no longer apply. This story has been recently edited for its first posting on , but nothing else has changed. I hope you will enjoy it, whether reading it for the first time or the fiftieth!


Hey Minna-chan! How is every one? This is a short story taking place before Serena and Darien know each other's secret identities. In this story, Raye and Darien never dated, kay? And PLEASE E-MAIL ME! It is a romance. Nothing more.

If you enjoy this story, go read anything by Athena or Patricia Dawson. They are both talented writers and wonderful people! Thanx a bunch to Sailor Elysia who has supported me during the making of this feature. Wow, I just made this sound like a really corny movie...

Also, if you enjoy pure romance, comedy, action, or whatever else, please e-mail me! I would LOVE to hear ANY suggestions for future fics you might have. Keep in mind I'm not promising I'll use your ideas, but an author is always searching for inspiration. Also, a couple friends and I are sorta debating the idea of co-writing some stories of ALL comedy (for any of you who have read my stuff before, you know that is completely unlike me) and I'm just wondering if anyone would read it. So please give me your feedback! I live for it! Well, not literally, but, ya know... The bottom line is: E-mail! It's a good thing! (I picked that up somewhere, but I don't remember where. Can anyone tell me?) Hey, there's another reason to e-mail me! How about that! Okay, well, here ya go!

It began as a joke,
Not too nice, not too cruel,
But now my feelings are showing through,
So tell me, who's the fool?

I walked into the familiar arcade with hope flying around my head. Let's see... 3:30 on a Tuesday...yep, he'll be here. And lo and behold, out of the booth in the corner peeked a head of blonde hair. I smiled as I began strolling cheerfully over to the red leather bench.

"Hey Meatball Head! Where ya goin?"

I froze dead in my tracks at the sound of a deep voice from behind. Clenching my teeth and squaring my shoulders, I whirled around to face a tall, sorta handsome guy with black hair, and, I'll admit, killer blue eyes. But I would never tell anyone I liked his eyes. Not in a million years.

"How many times must I tell you?! My name is SERENA! Not Meatball Head, Meatball Brains, not Meatball anything! SERENA! Let's say it together, shall we? SER-E-NA! Now you."

"Meat-ball-head." He smiled his incredibly annoying, arrogant smile in self-satisfaction and brushed past me. "Hey, Andrew!"

Andrew turned around to look at us and I immediately traded in my angry glare for a brand new cheerful smile. "Hey Darien, Serena. How are you?"

"Good, until I ran into Meatball Head here."

"I'm great, Andrew! How are you?" I ignored Darien. I will NOT lose my temper in front of Andrew. I won't. I won't. I won't.

"I'm doing good. You guys wanna join me for some ice cream? I'm on break."

"I'd love to!" I shrieked.

"Sure," answered Darien. I groaned.

"Does he have to eat with us too?"

They both chuckled. Well, I didn't think it was a very funny question. "Come on," says Andrew sitting down in a booth again. I claimed the seat next to him while Darien sat across from us. Soon, a waitress came over and took our orders.

"So how was school, Meatball Head? Fail any tests?"

I glared over the table at him. "For your information, I didn't! I got a 63% in science!" He snickered and I felt my cheeks grow red in anger and embarrassment.

"Sorry, my mistake," the sarcasm in his voice made me flush even more. I could feel my cheeks flare in anger as my mind began searching for insults and comebacks to throw at him. But I allowed my emotions to sizzle down when our ice cream was set on the table. Andrew and Darien began to talk about some past memory something-or-other as I ate my three scoop triple chocolate fudge banana split in silence. Some day I'll show that Darien! Some day...

"So Serena," said Andrew, "are ya gonna be here tomorrow?"

My spirits brightened. He wants to see me tomorrow! My mind squealed with delight. "Yeah, of course! Why?"

"Well, I was just wondering, because tomorrow is April Fool's Day. Thought you might be doing something for the holiday."

"April Fool's Day? Really? I forgot about it. Oh, well. Sure I'll be here!"


"Yeah, really great. I'm sure I can come up with a million jokes to play on you," added Darien. I once again felt my blood run cold.

"Come on, Darien. Be nice. Besides, don't you wanna get me for the joke I played on you last year?"

Darien smirked. "Don't worry. I will."

Andrew looked at his watch. "Oops, gotta get back to work. See ya guys later!" He slid out of the booth.

"Thanks for the ice cream."

"See ya tomorrow."

After Andrew was gone, I quickly scooped up my bag and was about to leave when Darien stopped me.

"Hey Meatball Head! Where ya goin?"

"Leave me alone, Darien."

"Hold up. I was thinking you might be able to help me."

That caught my attention. I turned to look at him. He...looked serious... "What do you mean?" I sat back down.

"Well, maybe we can come up with a good joke to play on Andrew tomorrow. I've been racking my brain for weeks and I can't think of anything good."

I stared at him suspiciously. Be careful, Serena. He could be teasing you and you just haven't picked up on it. "You mean to tell me that the straight-A college student can't come up with a good prank?"

He smiled, not once looking even slightly embarrassed. How can he hold his composure like that? "No, I can't. So... have any ideas?"

I bit my lip mindlessly. "Well... what would he never expect?"

"You could come in here with a 100% test score."

I glared at him, then stood up again. "Fine. I guess you don't want my help after all." He stood next to me and grabbed my wrist.

"Sorry, Meatball Head. I just couldn't resist."

"Well maybe you should have tried harder."

"Okay, okay, I'm REALLY sorry. But I need your help. I just can't come up with anything." I turned to look up at him and was swept into his sparkling blue eyes. For a minute, I lost all thought as his apologizing stare burned into me.

"I'll help," I whispered, not really knowing what I was saying until the words had escaped. Then, catching my statement, I decided to get something out of the deal as well. "But you have to promise not to call me Meatball Head for two weeks!"

He let go of my arm and looked as if he was contemplating my offer. I turned and began to leave. "Okay, okay! Two weeks."



I turned and smiled then took my seat in the booth once more. He sat across from me.

"So... what would he never expect?" he asked again.

"Hmm... he would never expect... I know! Heck, I would never expect this!"


I looked down at the table. "What if... we told him that...we were... you know..." I returned my gaze to his to see if he had caught my meaning. He just stared uncomprehending. I sighed. "If you and I were dating."

Realization dawned on his face, and then we both broke out laughing. "Well, you're right. He would never expect that!"

"No one would!"

"But... I don't think we could pull it off."

"Probably not."

"Ha! We'd have to be nice to each other!"

"For a whole day!"

Suddenly, the laughter died into an awkward silence. Finally, Darien spoke up. "Uh... you know Serena...it...just..."

"Might work," I concluded. We looked up at each other, nervous, wondering what the other was thinking.

If I do this...Andrew might get jealous. And then he would realize that he is madly in love with me! But then I have to be nice to Darien for a whole day! Not just nice, but... romantically nice!

Of course, he won't call me Meatball Head for a whole two weeks. "So?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

I pursed my lips and took a deep breath. "Starting tomorrow, we are officially dating. At least, as official as a joke can be." He smiled in agreement. "See ya tomorrow, then."

"Yeah. Uh...bye."

"Bye." I quickly got up and walked to the door. All the way home I wondered, What have I gotten myself into?


I held my breath. My knuckles clutched tightly around my small case. April first. April Fool's Day. And today I have to pretend to be in love with Darien. DARIEN! I used to think I was a good actress. That I could play any part. That was why I got Sleeping Beauty in my second grade play, right? But this... How on Earth am I supposed to act this out? Sure, Darien is cute. You'd have to be blind not to notice that. And I suppose he can probably be nice on occasion, or else Andrew wouldn't be best friends with him. But he hates me, so I have no reason to like him. Since the first day I met him I knew I could never like him. He called me Meatball Head then, and the name just sorta stuck. I HATE that name. He knows that, too. I think that's why he calls me Meatball Head. He wants to see me mad. He wants to embarrass me in front of Andrew.

Because he hates me. And I hate him.

And today... I'm dating him.

Serena and Darien, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G! That song has been going through my head all morning. My own mind is actually torturing me! How's that for a bit of irony for you?

Slowly, I let my breath out and take a step down the sidewalk.

Another, another... each one bringing me closer to Crown Center Arcade. Breathe in, breathe out. In with the good air, out with the bad.

Finally, I'm standing outside of the automatic doors. One more step and they will open. Inside will be... the man that I love and the man I'm supposed to love. I have no clue what's going to happen. Not in the slightest. Oh god... what am I going to do? Just smile, Serena, and imagine two blissful weeks of no 'Meatball Head'... except maybe from Raye.

I do smile and take that one step. How little do I know that that step will change my whole life.

The arcade doors opened, as they always do. I walked in, like usual. But something seemed different. Something out of the ordinary. Then I realized what it was. There was no one saying, "Hey Meatball Head! Come to dull your brains on some video games?" like their always was. No insults, no mocking comments, no Darien...

A hollow feeling of emptiness welled inside the pit of my stomach. Then I saw one head of blonde hair and one of black coming out of the corner booth we had occupied yesterday. Well, here I go.

But before I reached the booth, Darien looked up to see me and... smiled. I never thought a smile could crash into your world like that. Then again, I'd never seen Darien smile like that. For a few minutes I stood still, wanting to see that smile forever. He stood and walked briskly over to my side. I had no idea what to do or what was happening. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Andrew was watching and now was also standing to greet me.

Darien was only a few inches away now. I looked up to see his beautiful ocean blue eyes staring down at me. A thousand emotions flew across those eyes.

Relief: because I was there and the joke would go as planned.

Comfort: because this would work.

Laughter: because Andrew wouldn't know what hit him.

Happiness: because this would be a good day

Amusement: because this would be an INTERESTING day

Love: because... wait a minute... love?

Darien put a soft hand on my waist and looked deeply into my eyes. I could feel my heart melt. Since when does he hold this power over me? He leaned in close so that his cheek was grazing mine.

"Relax," he whispered comfortingly, "this will work." Then he kissed me tenderly on the cheek and pulled away. I smiled gratefully up at him. "So, how's MY Meatball Head? Have a good day at school?"

Any other time I would have backed away and yelled at him for calling me that... if he had not added that one little word. Any other time I would have forgotten this whole charade... but, he didn't call me Meatball Head. He called me HIS Meatball Head.

"Great! How are you... sweetie?" I winked quickly up at him then placed my arm around his waist, turning him so that we faced a very stunned Andrew. He placed his arm over my shoulders and I could feel a comforting warmth drape over me. I smiled brighter than before. All the sudden I wasn't quite so concerned about making Andrew fall in love with me.

"I'm doing good. Andrew and I were just about to order some lunch. Would you like some?"

"Sure!" We sat down with Andrew on the opposite side, still staring at us with wide eyes and open mouth. I stifled a giggle and moved further into Darien's embrace.

We ordered and silence fell over us. Finally, Andrew recovered and had enough strength to speak.

"Wha... what's going on?"

"What do you mean?" asked Darien, playing the innocent roll extremely well I might say.

"This!" Andrew exclaimed gesturing to Darien's arm wrapped around me.

"Well... isn't it normal to wanna be close to your GIRLFRIEND?" Darien asked. I felt a blush creep into my cheeks. What if this hadn't been a joke? If this was real and Darien and I were dating and he would have his arm around me tomorrow, too?

I tried to clear my head of these thoughts, but the feeling of his strong arm never leaving me and his earthly scent draping over me erased any rational thought that would remind me that this is a joke and nothing more.

Andrew gawked at us for a few minutes, then smiled. "This is a joke, right? Ha! April Fool's!"

Darien and I looked at him, confused and completely not understanding, of course. Soon, his laughter subsided. "This is a joke, right?"

"No," I answered, then slid even closer into Darien. "We started dating last night. And I am completely happy!" I smiled up at Darien who was staring at me in surprise, then he smiled as well. That same, heart-stopping smile. I had an incredible urge to throw my arms behind his neck and kiss him with every ounce of being in my body, but I settled for a peck on the cheek instead. Our eyes were locked in a dreamy, unreal gaze of hope and comfort.

"You did?" asked a new voice. I turned my gaze to see Lita staring down at Darien and me. Beside her stood Amy and Raye.

"You've got to be kidding," said Raye.

"Yesterday you two could hardly stand being in the same room together," added Amy.

Darien looked at me wonderingly, his eyes asking if I wanted to continue with the joke or drop it there. I smiled up at him reassuringly. Why don't we fool EVERYONE this beautiful day? This could be fun.

"We always liked each other, just neither of us could get the courage to say so. Right, Darien?"

"Of course."

"This is WAY too weird," spoke Andrew. "Look, I don't know what's going on, and I'm not sure I want to. Now I'm going to go work: where things are normal."

He got up and left the booth, heading directly to the opposite side of the arcade. Darien and I stifled our laughter. The three girls slid into the booth.

"So what's going on? I mean, REALLY?" asked Lita.

"I know you guys think this is a joke or something," I said, trying my hardest to sound convincing, "but we're serious. Darien and I just... really like each other."

"We always have," he finished for me. We looked at each other again, the same surprised, hopeful, dazed expression.

"Well, fine! If you guys wanna keep up this charade, you go right ahead! But if you're so 'in love' or whatever you wanna call it, why don't you come with us to the park? We were headed there anyway, and an arcade really isn't the best place for a first date, you guys." Darien looked at me, raising an eyebrow.

"Sure, why not?" I said.

He slid out of the booth and took my hand gently. "Shall we?"

I smiled and replied, "We shall." Giggling, I followed Darien out of the small arcade. I could hear my friends follow closely behind us.


The park was full of people. Some lonesome joggers, some groups of teenagers, a couple of friends chatting on a bench, and small families eating afternoon picnics. The sun was bright and there were very few clouds in the sky, although the clouds that were there were white and fluffy. My favorite kind.

"So where are we gonna go?" asked Lita.

"I think we should leave the LOVEBIRDS by themselves. Don't you?" Amy said with a sly grin.

"Definitely," agreed Lita.

"Now don't you guys go being too mushy, okay?" teased Raye, and they took off in a giggling storm. Darien and I just stood for a minute.

"So...uh...what now?" I asked confused.

"I dunno. You wanna go for a walk?"

"Sure, I guess so."

We took off down the dirt path. Soon I realized that Darien's arm still hung loosely around my waist. Part of me never wanted it to move. Why do I feel this way all the sudden? For goodness sakes Serena! You are way too soft-hearted! Some one is nice to you for one day and you start developing a crush! Get a grip! This is a joke, remember? Darien feels nothing for you. Nothing!

But then...why is his arm still around me?

I smiled, falling into a dream-like trance.

"Happy, Meatball Head?"

I jumped out of my dreams and returned abruptly to the real world. "Don't start! You said you wouldn't call me that for two weeks, remember?!"

"Hey, sorry. But you didn't seem to mind earlier."

"That was because..."

"Because why?"

'Because I was YOUR Meatball Head then,' I thought.

"Because Andrew was there and it was part of the joke."

"Oh really? Well...Andrew's not here right now."

"I know that."

"So why are we still pretending?"

I looked up at him curiously. He smiled slightly and leaned down, brushing my lips softly with his own. I felt my lips tingle and my mind whirl in confusion and delight. Opening my eyes to see him staring down at me I began to feel my knees tremble.


He smiled and wrapped his arm around me once more, and we began walking down the path again.

'What on Earth is going on?!' my mind screamed. 'This wasn't supposed to happen! What is Darien thinking? At this rate, he's gonna make me fall in love with him for REAL!'

"I hate you, Darien!" I screamed out of the blue.


"Why are you doing this to me? This was NOT part of the joke! And now you're going to confuse me and I'm gonna have a whole bunch of really weird dreams tonight and I won't know what to think or how to act tomorrow and it's all your fault! I hate you for doing this! I absolutely..." Just then, I saw Lita headed back down the path toward us.

Panicking, I stopped walking and through my arms behind a very surprised Darien's neck and kissed him. I had meant for it to be short and sweet, but somehow our lips just didn't want to separate. So when I finally pulled back, we were both out of breath.

"You sure do have a funny way of showing your feelings."

"Oh shut up Darien!" I whispered. "Lita's coming."

"Hey, you two! Am I interrupting something?"

"No, of course not." I untangled my arms from behind him and turned to face our new companion. His arms reached from behind me to meet in front, touching at my stomach. I felt a strong warmth flow over me and nearly lost all sense of reality.

"Where are Amy and Raye?" asked Darien, his voice directly above me. I could feel his heart beat through the material of his shirt. A calm, relaxing melody...

"They're over by the lake. They said to come find you to see if you wanted some food. I packed a picnic this morning. Though we'd better get back there before they eat everything."

"Let's go then!" I exclaimed, eager for the food as I felt my stomach rumble.

Darien and I walked hand and hand all the way to the lake. Even after a good fifteen minutes, my lips hadn't stopped tingling from the kiss.

Finally, we reached our destination. Amy and Raye waved us over to the large blanket they already occupied. Drool began to form at the corners of my mouth at the promise of Lita's delicious food. I plopped down onto the blanket, pulling Darien down beside me.

He casually placed his strong arm over my shoulders again. Grabbing a paper plate, I began piling food onto it. Darien chuckled and began eating off of my plate, as if we were dating.

SERENA! You ARE dating, remember? Goodness, girl, you have to relax and stay focused!


My head snapped up to see Amy and Raye both spitting whatever they had just eaten into napkins.

Lita giggled. "Oops. Forgot to tell you about my new recipe. Just a bit of Tabasco sauce. April Fool's!"

I glanced over at Darien, his mouth wide open about to stuff an egg roll into his mouth. Closing his jaw, he put the food back on my plate.

"Oh, come on, guys! I wouldn't let ALL this food go to waste! The crackers and cheese are fine, and so is the salad."

Everyone looked suspiciously at each other. Darien finally reached for the plate of crackers and pushed it toward Lita. "Then you eat some."

"Fine, I will."

Lita took a cracker and mindlessly shoved it into her mouth. Then her eyes bugged and she began hacking ferociously. Picking up a napkin, she spit out the cracker. Raye and Amy laughed.

"Oops, forgot to warn you," said Raye. "We sorta... tampered with your cooking... just a little."

"April Fool's!" added Amy.

Lita glared at them and pushed the crackers away. "Well there goes a perfectly good lunch!"

"You started it."

"WWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" (That was me. Could ya guess?) "No more food?! But I'm starving!"

Before I could say anything else, a strong, warm hand clapped itself down on my mouth.

"Cut the decibels, Meatball Head!" I turned to glare up at him. "How about I take you out for lunch, okay?"

"Mmmwhhmm!" I exclaimed happily, though it was muffled by his palm. He looks at me, shocked at my sudden change of attitude.

"You'll get used to it," said Raye. "She changes emotions like that a lot."

Darien nodded slightly.

"Yes, and since you guys are dating, I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to learn all about each other," added Amy, a twinkle of mischief in her eye: something I'D never seen before.

Darien stood and pulled me to my feet. "Let's get going then. Do you girls want to join us?"

They all shook their heads.

"Thanks, but I don't think we need to see you two going at it in the middle of a restaurant, ya know what I mean?" said Raye. I felt a blush immediately. "Oh, Darien?"


"Could I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure. Be right back, Meatball Head." Again, I would have yelled at him, but I didn't really have a chance before my lips were being gently assaulted by his butterfly kisses. Then he turned and followed Raye to a nearby tree. I stood there with my knees trembling slightly. Goodness, I wish he would come back and do that again...

I didn't notice Lita and Amy trading knowing smiles between themselves. I watched Darien talking to Raye for awhile. He was smiling mischievously the whole time. I wondered what it was that they could possibly be talking about.

So lost in my thoughts, I didn't notice when they ended their conversation and Darien walked back over to me. He placed his arm around my waist, yet again (and I was really starting to like the feeling). We said good bye and began walking away.

After what seemed like hours, we were out of eye-sight of the girls.

"Ya know," said Darien, a little shyly (which I also liked... A LOT), "you don't have to go to lunch with me. I don't think there's any point in keeping up the joke when no one's around, right?"

And yet, his arm never moved. And his strong body held me close to him. And his scent filled my nostrils.

"No way, Darien. You said you would take me out to lunch, and by darnit, you're gonna take me out to lunch!"

He chuckled softly now. "Anything you say, Meatball Head."


Darien took me to the Pikestreet Café. We claimed a seat in the back corner and patiently waited for our order to be taken. Darien sat across from me, almost to my disappointment, but at least this way I could look into those beautiful blue eyes as much as I wanted too...

Okay, freeze, buddy! Back up. Beep! Beep! Beep! You are NOT getting a crush on Darien, got it?! You won't, you won't, you WON'T! Do I make myself perfectly clear? It is beside the question. He is not going to play with your head like this! You won't let him, will you, Serena?! No way! Uh-uh! This is DARIEN! For goodness sakes, get a grip on yourself! You hate him, remember?! Hate him! Hate hate hate! Not love love lo... love? Since when did this become love? I thought I only had a crush on him... NO I DON'T! I hate him! Keep that in mind at ALL times!

"Penny for your thoughts?"

"I hate you," I whispered aloud, more to myself than to him.

Darien looked stunned for a minute, then cocked his head to the side slightly. "Haven't we already been through this conversation once today?"

I looked up at him confused. "Huh?"

He shook his head and looked back down on the menu.

"And what can I get for you lovebirds?"

"WHAT?!" we yelled in unison. Okay, we weren't even playing this time, and someone thought we were... yuck!

I looked up to see a red-haired girl looking down at us. "What did I say?"

"We are not..."

"Oh, sorry Lizzie. We didn't hear you at first," interrupted Darien. "Oh, uh, Lizzie, this is my GIRLFRIEND, Serena." I looked at him stunned. He knew this girl? But so what? Why was he playing the joke on her, too? "Serena, this is Lizzie. Andrew's sister." Well that explains that...

"Oh... uh... hi, Lizzie. Sorry about that. You just... uh... surprised me a little there. Heh-heh."

Lizzie looked at me with a strangely...knowing smile? Is everyone going crazy today or something?

Lizzie took our orders quickly and returned in a couple minutes. I was highly impressed by the service. Maybe I'll eat here more often. Maybe Darien would take me here another ti... Oh no. Here I go again. Serena, this ISN'T REAL!

Darien and I ate mostly in silence. After about 10 minutes, Lizzie returned.

"Hi, you guys. Look, I'm on break and was wondering if I could join you?"

"Sure," answered Darien. She slid in across from me so that she was sitting next to Darien and jealousy hit me like a hurricane. They were sitting WAY too close! What were they thinking?! He is MY boyfriend! Look at how her arm just barely touches his sleeve like that. Doesn't he even care?! Omigosh! Does he like her? Does he want to be dating her instead? Is that why we came here? So he could make her jealous? Well, Serena, that is why YOU wanted to do this, to make Andrew jealous, but... but... this is different! I mean, Darien kissed me so gently and... and... "Serena, are you okay?" asked Darien.

I looked up, even though I knew my eyes were quickly filling up with tears. He doesn't like me. He doesn't like me after all.



Darien motioned for Lizzie to get out, which she did, and then he sat next to me, sliding his arm around my shoulder. Lizzie, seeing we might want to be alone, left back into the kitchen. I didn't notice the smug grin she wore. Right now, Darien was too close to notice much of anything else.

"Serena, Hon, what's wrong?"

"Hon..." I whispered.

Darien turned my chin so that I looked up at him. "Are you okay? You haven't said anything for a good twenty minutes, and you've barely touched your meal."

He's so close...

"I'm beginning to wonder. Maybe you aren't so hungry after all?"

That quirky grin...

"But then, why would you wanna go to lunch with me?"

Deep blue eyes...

"Is it still a joke, Serena?"

Deep voice in a hushed whisper. So quiet... Just for me to hear...

His lips were now on my own. So light and feathery, as if he was waiting for me to deepen it. It was more a question than anything else. How do I feel? What do I want?

Slowly, ever so slowly, I moved closer, my mouth pressing against his. My kisses were willing. My heart was willing. But then, why was my brain screaming at me to stop?

You'll get hurt Serena. Tomorrow you'll throw yourself into his arms and he'll push you away, laughing. It's just a joke. It always was... a single tear streaked down my cheek.

I jerked away quickly. He backed away as well, concern written on his face.


"I hate you."

He froze. His eyes were so dark, so uncomprehending, so scared... So sad.


"I can't Darien. I hate you and you hate me. We can't change that, Darien. You know that. This is just a joke. A stupid April Fool's Day joke, alright? Nothing more."

My heart was breaking with every word. Oh God, how can this hurt so much? I look away from his hurt eyes. Why does he look like that? I couldn't have hurt him. Why would he care? Why?

There is a long moment of silence before I heard Darien breathe in deeply and slide out of the booth. I immediately felt the loss of his warmth. Closing my eyes, I forced back the oncoming tears.

"You're right, Meatball Head." His voice was so hard and cold. I shiver from it. Like a million daggers slicing through me. Is that how I just sounded? So mean? So uncaring? "I hate you, you hate me. Nothing's ever going to change that, huh? And this is, after all, a stupid joke. Just like it always was."

I looked up at him, expecting to see sadness in his eyes. Hurt written across his face. There wasn't the slightest trace of any such emotion. His chiseled features were those of a statue. Unmoving, unloving, unknowing. He didn't care. I was right. He doesn't feel anything for me. Just a joke.

I felt tears pooling again and blinked them back. Fine! He wants to play nonchalant? I can play nonchalant.

"Right. So then, I say we put an end to this joke, huh? We can do that right now. Head over to the arcade and tell Andrew 'April Fool's'. No biggie." I prayed that my voice sounded surer than I felt inside. I slid out of the booth so that I was standing next to him. He looked down at me with an unreadable expression, almost angry.

Yes, that's exactly it. Anger. I don't know why, but it was apparent. His fists were clenched at his sides.

Silently, we walked out of the door and onto the busy street. It was only three blocks to the arcade. Thank goodness. I hoped I could make this quick, then skidaddle. I didn't wanna be near him any longer than I had to be. Right now, I just wanted to go home, fling myself onto my bed and cry all night. I swore I would never play an April Fool's day joke on anyone ever again. Ever.

About half a block away from the infamous Crown Center Arcade, Darien once again draped his arm over my shoulders, but it was not warm and comforting like before. Now, it was hard, like steel, and just as cold. I nearly choked on my own, uncried tears. Finally, we reached the automatic doors and I forced a smile, as did Darien. I see Andrew in one of the larger corner booths made for a large group of people, accompanied also by Amy, Raye, and Lita. I gulp and took slow, careless strides toward them.

Unconsciously, I buried myself deeper into Darien's embrace, searching for a sign of comfort like before.

I only felt the cold, stiff body beside me tense even more.

"Hey, lovebirds!" exclaimed Lita. "Come join us!"

I smiled wryly and sat down next to them, Darien sliding in next to me.

"So how was your first day as a couple?" asked Raye.

I looked up at Darien, waiting for him to let out the joke. He was looking down at the table, completely cool, saying nothing. No Darien, don't you dare do this to me! I can't do this by myself! You tell them it was a joke. Come on!

I was saved for a little while by Amy speaking up. "Yeah, we were really surprised this morning, weren't we?"

Everyone nodded. "Really, I mean, who would have thought you two of all people would end up a couple?"

"I would have," said Andrew. Darien and I both looked up now. Andrew had a sly grin on his face. "Well, it's about time!"

"Huh?" Darien and I ask in unison, completely shocked.

"It took you guys long enough! Especially with the way you're always flirting with each other. I've been expecting this for weeks."

"You have?" we asked together again.

"Actually, I would have to agree with Andrew," said Raye. "Serena never stops talking about you, Darien."

"And she always gets this faraway look in her eyes whenever your name is mentioned."

"Yes, and it's obvious she likes being called 'Meatball Head'."

They all giggled at that. Oh no, what on Earth were they THINKING!?

"Same with Darien. Whenever Serena leaves, he'll be spaced out for nearly an hour before you can get any sense out of him."

"It really is about time you guys have gotten over this whole 'I hate you, you hate me' scenario."

I repeated the words carefully in my mind. 'I hate you, you hate me.'

'I hate you, you hate me.'

'I hate you, you hate me.'

"But I don't."

Now all attention was focused on me, even Darien was looking at me again, strangely hopeful.

"You don't what?" asked Raye.

I ignored her and turned to look at Darien wide-eyed, feeling like I had just been smacked in the face. Which I might as well have been. I'd come to a resolution.

"I don't hate you."

Darien was staring at me with yet another unreadable expression.

Silence engulfed the table.

Finally, Amy was the one to break the silence.


"Wait 'til she gets here."



"Oh yeah, I forgot about her."

"I'm here. What did I miss?"

I recognized Lizzie's voice and turned to see her sliding into the opposite side of the booth. Darien also released his gaze on me.

"Not much," answered Lita.

"Now?" Amy repeated.

"Go ahead, Amy."

"One, two, three..."


Darien and I were stunned.

"Huh?" I asked, now completely lost.

"What on Earth are you guys talking about?" asked Darien, directing his gaze toward my friends.

"Poor, poor Darien," said Lita. "Sorry, but the joke was more on you than anyone else."

"What are we talking about?" I asked. Why do I suddenly feel like I'm the only one completely in the dark?

"Okay, allow me," said Raye. "The story goes like this; we wanted to play a joke on you two, with some ulterior motives, but I'll get to that later. And so we told Darien to somehow convince you, Serena, that you guys were gonna play a joke on Andrew saying that you guys were going out."

"I know that," said Darien, still utterly confused. "That's why it was so weird when Serena came up with the idea on her own."

"Exactly," said Lita, exchanging knowing glances with everyone else at the table.

"But the trick was that Andrew knew about it too. And so did Lizzie. So, basically, you guys were forced to spend the entire day together..."

"...thinking that you were fooling everyone else..."

"...when in reality..."

"...the joke was on you."

"And the ulterior motives you ask?"

"To get you guys to see that you don't hate each other."

"And, in actuality, are crazy for each other."

"So there. The whole shebang in a nutshell!"

Well, needless to say, I was speechless. But, then again, so was Darien.

"Well, I think we can leave you two alone now," said Lizzie, sliding out of the booth. The rest followed.

Suddenly, out of all the confusion swimming through my thoughts, I realized one very important factor in all this.

Darien's arm was still around me.

He hadn't left. He wasn't going anywhere. He was still so close, still so comforting.

With that little tidbit of information, I quickly regained my voice. "Was that how this was supposed to go?" I asked quietly, not making eye contact.

"I don't think so."

His scent was still engulfing me. His voice was still comforting me. Looking up, I saw that he was staring down at me, an unreadable expression on his perfect... yes, perfect... features. I'd never noticed how handsome he really was. Of course, I'd never denied the fact that he was cute, but no. Darien goes way beyond cute. Now, as I looked into his stormy blue eyes, I longed for one thing... no, not to kiss him, and not to hold him, but to see him smile. The way he had smiled at me at the beginning of this (strange to say the least) day. The smile that had sent me straight to the seventh heaven. The smile that could have beat my heart and frozen time. Oh how I want to see him smile like that again.

"You thought I hated you?" he asked me uncertainly.

"Well... don't you?" I asked, just as uncertain.

He looked at me surprised. "Of course not! You're the one who hates ME!"

"No I don't! Why would you think that?"

"Because all day you've been saying 'I hate you, Darien!'"

I couldn't help but laugh softly. "I was confused."

"So then...you don't...?"

"No, I don't."

"Then, at the café... why?"

I sighed and looked down. "I thought, that it was a part of the joke still. That tomorrow I'd try to... and then you'd push me away and laugh, 'cause it was only a joke. And then I'd be hurt. I don't wanna be hurt."

Darien placed his hand under my chin and forced me to look up at him. "I promise I won't hurt you."

We stared at each other for a long time after that. So close, just like before... Then I realized that he had kissed me before. But he wasn't going to this time. I guess I understood why. He was afraid I would push him away again.

With a small smile, I took matters into my own hands. Leaning forward, I kissed him softly. He responded instantly, relieved. My head was light and my heart was pounding furiously when we separated.

"So, I guess our joke didn't turn out too well," he said, his voice deep and throaty against my ear.

"No, but I'm glad we did it anyway."

"Yeah, me too."



"What Andrew said, about you being spaced out when I leave..."


"Was it..."



"Well... was what they said about you true?"

I blushed again. But, looking into his eyes, I saw something I hadn't expected to see: Hope.

"Yes, it was."

And then he finally smiled, that same, heavenly smile. "Then, yes. What he said was true." I smiled back up at him, and suddenly, the smile didn't matter so much any more. I desired more. And so, without giving myself time to rethink it, I slid my hands behind his neck and pulled his lips to mine again.

He circled his strong arms behind my back and pulled me close. I felt him kiss me with more longing and power and love... yes, love... than I had ever dreamed possible. Right then, I felt more happiness and more warmth than I had ever felt in my entire life.


I breathe in deeply. Okay, Serena, don't be nervous...

Yesterday had been... wonderful. Excellent. Spectacular. Fantastic. Absolutely, without a doubt, PERFECT! Darien had taken me to dinner, a movie, and he walked me home... even kissed me goodnight. I learned SO much about him that I never would have guessed! For example, he's a poet! Can you believe that? And here I thought he didn't have a romantic bone in his... well-built body. Plus, his favorite food is... get this... spaghetti and meatballs! I thought that was the funniest thing I'd heard in a LONG time! Also, I learned that he grows roses on the balcony of his apartment. I love roses, too, so he said that someday he would pick the prettiest rose out just for me. Someday... if that day ever comes. Yesterday was just so... but what about now? What is going to happen? I believed Darien when he said that he would never hurt me. And I so want to be sure that everything that happened wasn't part of a joke... and I do, for the most part. But still... there's that one little nagging voice in the back of my head that refuses to let me forget yesterday was April First... and it began as a joke.

But, I'll know for sure in about 20 seconds. I'm standing outside Crown Center Arcade, yet again. Funny, really, how yesterday I was afraid what would happen when Darien WAS pretending to be my boyfriend, and now I'm worried what will happen if he's NOT. Can't think about that, Serena. Trust in your feelings and pray that he shares them. Who knows? Maybe he is just as scared as you.

That makes me smile. Could it be that all this time, I was making him crazy just as much as we was driving ME insane? Is it possible that all this time we were the only people who didn't see the true feelings that we were trying Oh! SO hard to hide? Well, Raye and the others were a hundred percent on the dot with MY feelings... I just hope that Andrew was right about Darien...

Okay, Serena, don't be scared. Just breathe...

I walked into the arcade and immediately spotted a head of black hair bent over the counter. As I came closer, I noticed that he was writing something. Silently, I stood behind him and peered over his shoulder. In a small, green book, he was writing:

Was it meant to be a joke?
A game, a prank,
To label me a fool?
I suppose it worked well enough on your part,
If foolishness was falling in love with you.
Your smiles could have been to taunt me
And remind of what I didn't have.
Those kisses, soft and gentle,
And the words, sweet and kind,
Told me, not that I was on safe ground,
But to be careful with my heart
And I wasn't.
I ignored the warnings,
Now my life is in your hands.
Call me naïve, gullible, a fool.
Break me as only you can do.
Kill me with a loss
Of something I never truly had.
But always remember that
I loved you.

He set his pen down carefully.

"Good morning, Meatball Head."

I gasped, but then giggled softly and slid into the stool next to him. "You knew I was there the whole time?"

"It's kinda hard to mistake your shadow. You have a very unique hairstyle, ya know."

Oops. I hadn't notice the sunlight was streaming in from behind me. "Oh... um... I like your poem."

"Thank you."

Oookaaaayy... what do I say now? He's not being very talkative... what does that mean? Darien, you had better say something before I go completely ballistic! "Darien?" My voice was high and showed my nervousness. "Wha... what's wrong? Why aren't you talking to me?"

Finally, he made eye contact. His gorgeous blue eyes sparkled with delight and a hint of mischief. "Nothing's wrong, Meatball Head." He stood up and grabbed both my hands, pulling me to my feet as well. "In fact, everything's just as it should be."

Darien smiled and drew me in close to him so that our bodies touched. Without pause, he turned slightly so that I fell, unknowing, into his strong arms. I was practically laying down flat in the air, and would have fallen, had it not been for his supporting arms. I clasped both hands behind his neck in fright, but before long, my fear melted away into happiness. He smiled down at me and lowered his face to mine, our noses brushing against each other.

"I had a lot of fun yesterday, but I think I forgot to tell you something."

"April Fool's?"

"Not quite..." he now leaned in so close our lips were almost touching. "I love you. Serena Usagi Tsukino... I love you and have loved you from the moment I saw you bouncing down the sidewalk with that adorably unique hairstyle. And I promise that I will never ignore my feelings for you again. I love you so much..."

Finally, he kissed me. I felt overwhelming tears of happiness streak down my cheeks. He loves me. He really, truly loves me! When our lips separated, I knew of only one thought, one concept in my mind that I could even begin to acknowledge.

"I love you too, Darien Mamoru Chiba. God, I love you so much it hurts..."

"Let's turn that pain into something a little less harsh, shall we?"

He kissed me again, and somewhere far in the corner of my mind, I barely heard the entire arcade burst into applause. But Darien and I kissed a long time after the applause died down... and have given numerous encores since.

It was only a prank,
A simple, childish game.
But now my heart is melting quick.
Happy April Fool's Day!