A/N: After seeing Cillian Murphy in Red Eye (and piggishly gobbling up all of its fanfiction as quickly as I could, as Nimbi-chan noticed) I think that Darien's portrayal may have been slightly influenced. But I'm probably flattering myself. If you saw Red Eye, tell me what you think.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon. Alas, quoth Emmeline Grangerford (whom I don't own either).
Don't Want You To See
Monday afternoon found Darien Shields strolling peacefully down the sidewalk.
At least – he appeared to be at peace. But within him seethed an ocean of emotions.
He had stayed at the park only long enough to see that Serena was unharmed. The observation had been made at a distance; while emerging from the trees, he had spotted her bright odangoes flashing in the sun beside a mass of darker locks – Rei's. Where that fishwife had appeared from was a mystery to him that he had no wish to solve.
Had Serena been alone with Rei, then he very well might have gone to join them. But as he had been able to see Mizuno-san's distinctive blue head making her way towards them, he had concluded that Serena would be safe enough from Rei's barbs.
But in all truth, he had left because he had been afraid of what humiliation spending more time with Serena might result in. When he bumped into her yesterday, it was as though his whole body had suddenly been turned into a marionette. All of his actions had been dictated by her; her laugh had jerked one string, her smile another.
Darien Shields did not like the feeling of helplessness.
Unconsciously, his mind connected Serena's control over his feelings to Sailor Moon's control over his body. The association sent nauseating revulsion coursing through his veins.
And yet, here he was, making his way to the temple to pick up Serena for tutoring. And he was looking forward to it. Because he knew that she was going to say something funny, something completely nonsensical. Something that he could tease her about, and she in turn would shoot something back.
That was the Serena he liked best. The one who exploded out of her timid shell and fired off her mouth without thinking. The person she was when her friends were not around.
It seemed rather disturbing. That he liked her best when she was isolated from her friends – it seemed like something a sociopath might say.
But this was a train of thought that he abandoned quickly. It veered into too many dark forests and winding caverns.
Ah. Here it was. Darien halted at the foot of the temple steps. His head tilted back, baring his throat to the cool breeze breathing through the quiet oasis of green grass and brown tree trunks.
Hikawa Shrine. A sanctuary of peace and gently swaying cherry blossom trees –
Until a familiar shriek of rage cut through the air.
Darien winced, lifting a sinewy hand to his ear. That would be Rei.
One of the paper doors slid open, and Ami emerged, her arm linked securely through Serena's.
"Rei," she was saying calmly, "Serena understands not to speak to him anymore. Don't you, Serena?"
Darien lowered his reading glasses to see Serena duck her head in a nod.
"See? She won't," Ami told Rei, who was stomping out of the temple. "Now, Serena really does need these tutoring sessions, Rei – "
Ami's voice stopped as her eyes landed on Darien. He gave her a nod of greeting.
"Oh! You're…here…already…" said Ami faintly. Then she shook herself and straightened, releasing Serena's arm. "Have you been waiting long?"
"Not at all," replied Darien courteously. "Are you ready to go, Odango Atama?"
"Ummm…" Serena's eyes still lingered uncertainly on Rei, whose arms were crossed and foot tapping. "I guess…"
"We'll go, then," said Darien briskly, stepping between Serena and the priestess to break their eye contact. "Goodbye, Mizuno-san."
Darien nudged Serena in the small of the back to set her into motion. They descended the stone steps.
"Rei was surprisingly taciturn today," he commented in an attempt to break the silence as they turned the corner. At the simultaneously startled and puzzled look Serena shot up at him, he elaborated. "Not very talkative."
Serena's other hand curled around her briefcase handle so that she held it tightly in front of her. "You got there at the tail end of her performance."
"Mmm," returned Darien noncommittally. "I don't suppose that the 'him' she told you not to speak to was me?"
There was a break in Serena's step, but she hid it well. Darien might not have noticed it if he had not been watching her like a hawk.
"You heard all that?"
"Just the…'tail end' of it."
They continued walking. Darien eventually lifted an eyebrow. "It wasn't a rhetorical question, you know."
"Huh?" Serena's eyes flicked to him. "What wasn't?"
Darien rolled his eyes. "Who are you not supposed to talk to anymore?"
Serena's eyes fell again. Her schoolbag was hugged to her chest now. Her butter-yellow bangs hid her face.
Like a sudden convulsion, the urge to smooth back those bangs gripped him. His hand twitched spasmodically. With iron restraint, he clamped his arm to his side, stiff and straight as a toy soldier.
"Your hair's in your eyes," he blurted out, his gaze glued to her.
She looked up, shot him a puzzled look. "Huh? Oh. Um…sorry..." She brushed the offending strands back.
"You don't know him," she said suddenly. "That guy. He doesn't go to our school."
"Ah." Darien maintained his noncommittal tone though it was growing increasingly difficult to do so. "Why do they want you to stay away from him?"
Serena rubbed the heel of her palm against her forehead. "Um…" she began, voice soft. "They – Ami and Rei, you know – think he's dangerous."
"And is he?" Darien's eyebrow arched with just the precise degree of nonchalance.
"I don't think he is." She shifted and added more quietly, "Not to me."
Something was constricting in Darien's chest, tightening like a tourniquet. Unable to keep the irony from his voice, he said, "But it would take a twisted and demented soul indeed for you to deem them dangerous enough to stay away from, wouldn't it, Odango?"
Serena peeked up at him from beneath her long eyelashes. He thought he could see fear in her expression and felt like goring himself. Trust him to turn into the only soul twisted and demented enough to frighten Odango away.
She turned her face more fully to his, lifting a hand towards his face. As it got closer and closer, all he could think of was this as yet unidentified male that her friends believed to be dangerous…
"Are you alright, Darien? You don't look so hot…"
The tourniquet was choking the oxygen flow to some very important organ. He could feel it spasming and shriveling up in his chest.
It took more effort than he would have liked to keep his voice inflectionless as he rasped out, "Why do your friends think he's dangerous?"
Serena's hand fell, clutching her bag again. "They – well, they didn't – I mean – well, you know how Rei gets sometimes."
Darien nodded in confirmation, eyes slitting. His spectacles slipped down his nose a trifle, alerting him to their presence, and he removed them, tucking them into his pocket. Now he had an unimpeded view of Serena.
"He kind of…was mean to her. But only because she was being kind of mean to me!" added Serena hastily, as though eager to justify her mystery man's actions. "So now they don't trust him because they think he might do the same thing. And they told me I can't talk to him anymore. But I don't think that'll help. I think he needs someone to talk to."
Mixed emotions mingled in Darien's veins. Approval, because anyone who stood up to Rei when she was being a witch to Serena yet again was admirable in his book. Distrust, because even if this person had defended her against Rei, this person was of the male species – but wasn't him.
"Is everyone redeemable to you, Odango?" he asked quietly.
Her hands, tightly curled around her bag, loosened. One detached itself and swung up to slip into Darien's own. He flinched and looked down at them as though his hand was suddenly a separate entity and not attached to him.
"I'm not a judge, Darien," Serena whispered. "None of us are."
Darien was the one who let go of her hand first. He shouldn't have, and he regretted it later, but he couldn't help it. Every time her fingers twitched in his, every time the pulse in his thumb throbbed, he felt it acutely, as though magnified a thousand times. And it began to squeeze sweat from his pores, oily drops of pure anxiety.
So he withdrew his hand as surreptitiously and unobtrusively as possible. Of course, one does not not notice something moving within one's own hand, but Serena thankfully did not comment on it. Her hands merely returned to their grip around her schoolbag handle, though her knuckles were not nearly as white as they had been previously.
And Darien wondered if maybe se hadn't been grateful that he let go. Because e would not put it past Serena to continue holding onto his hand long after she wanted to for the simple reason that she was too polite to do anything else.
They reached the library and had gotten settled into a table. Darien sat, calmly replacing the batteries of his graphing calculator while Serena removed the books they would need from her backpack and set them on the tabletop.
Then suddenly she gasped.
Darien looked up. "What is it?" he said sharply.
"I…forgot my math book," said Serena sheepishly.
Ten minutes later, Serena was still apologizing profusely for forgetting the very object most essential for that afternoon's tutoring session.
"I said it's okay, Odango!" said Darien for the fifth time, some exasperation finally coloring his tone. "Now stop saying sorry!"
"Okay," said Serena, still looking tense and guilty. Then, a forced sort of smile made its way to her face. "This from the guy who said I'd never make a dent in all the 'sorry's I owed him?"
Darien looked away as he smiled. "Let's just say there's a limit to how many deposits can be made at one time."
"I'll keep that in mind." Serena wore a small, sneaky grin.
Darien wasn't sure how to deal with the overwhelming relief he felt at such an expression after her earlier timidity and apprehension. So he kept mostly quiet and spoke just enough to keep her metaphorical boulder of chatter rolling.
"So you're sure you left it in your locker?" he inquired once more as they entered the school campus.
Serena's nose wrinkled as she frowned in thought once more. "Pretty sure," she said. "I know I didn't leave it at home, and Ami would have caught me if I left it at the temple." She came to a dead stop suddenly. So abruptly, in fact, that Darien crashed into her, and grabbed at the lockers to stay on his feet. This resulted in Serena being sandwiched tightly between him and the locker-lined wall – which was, needless to say, an unbearably awkward position.
"Er," said Darien, quickly scrambling backwards. His face was suffused a dark maroon color, and he was averting his eyes from Serena, who he was pretty sure was hiding her eyes also. "My apologies – "
"Th-that's okay," stammered Serena. "It – it was an accident."
"Y-yeah." Darien backed another few steps away from Serena. "Uh – so – where did you say your locker was, again?"
"I didn't," said Serena. She moved to stand in front of the locker she had stopped so abruptly at. "But it's right here."
Darien walked over, shuffling his feet so that Serena could hear him and move if she wanted to. She didn't, and he stood beside her as she frowned up at the locker.
"I can never remember the combo," she mumbled distractedly, and pushed down her sleeve. There, on the pale white skin, were numbers scrawled in girlish purple ink: 34-12-37.
Darien looked away quickly, feeling like a peeping tom. Yes, it was a locker combination, not a naked girl, but both were supposed to be private.
"It's okay," said Serena, apparently noticing his discomfort. "I don't mind. Even if you were the burglar type – which you're not – I don't think you'd be interested in anything in my locker."
And when she opened it, Darien had to agree. He had never seen such a mess. It made a neat freak like himself itch under the skin. How could she leave precious textbooks in such a pigsty of crumpled paper balls and sticky chocolate wrappers?
"Here it is!" exclaimed Serena triumphantly after a moment of rummaging. Her arm emerged from the messiness with the math book in hand.
"Splendid," said Darien. Then he frowned. "Did I just say what I think I said?"
A/N: There's more that really should be in this chapter, but I'm too lazy to write it right now. It'll have to wait for next chapter.
Hey, you guys know what's a fun word? "Whuffle." Someday I'm going to have Darien say, "Whuffle." Maybe he'll be under the control of a youma and think that he's a pig, and he'll whuffle.