***Author's Note at the end, for the curious***
Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.
Usagi & Mamoru
Signs of Affection
Usagi Tsukino sat at the counter of the Crown Game Center. Her petite shoulders were slumped, her normally vibrant eyes downcast and, were anyone watching, they would see her occasionally heave a deep, mournful sigh. Idly, she swirled her straw through the half-melted chocolate milkshake sitting before her. She presented the ultimate picture of epitomized despair, as only a teenage girl can truly accomplish.
Recently, Usagi's life had taken a drastic turn, ever since she had met a certain black cat with a crescent moon shaped bald spot. It really was not fair, she internally lamented. How could one be expected to save the world on a daily basis and achieve good grades? The failed test, the detention and the lecture that she would inevitably receive from her mother were all the monster's fault, not hers.
The fact that she had regularly flunked her exams before becoming a super-heroine somehow managed to escape her notice.
Normally, at this point, the arcade manager (and Usagi's long-time crush), Motoki, would wander over and say a few words to cheer her up. It did not even particularly matter what words the young man chose, as his very presence tended to perk the girl. Unfortunately, Motoki's girlfriend, Reika, had gotten out of class early that day and he only had eyes for her. This only served to compound Usagi's misery.
Abandoning the gooey mass of her milkshake, Usagi heaved herself to her feet. Even chocolate did not console her today, so she supposed that she may as well stop procrastinating and head home to face the music. She had gone only a few short steps when she heard a slurp and a masculine voice behind her say, "Thanks, Odango Atama. How did you know that chocolate is my favorite?"
Usagi spun on her heel and, before her eyes even fell upon Mamoru Chiba's cool good looks, uncharacteristic ire washed over her. Since the first day she had met him, the man had somehow managed to effortlessly put her back up as no one else could. Irrational possessiveness overwhelmed her as she spotted the drink in his hand; the same drink that she had just deserted moments ago. Leveling an accusatory finger at the treat, she exclaimed, "That is mine."
Mamoru's brows rose as he feigned innocent surprise, but the cocky smirk never left his lips. "But Odango," he said, "You left it here, completely untouched. I assumed that you didn't want it."
With a murderous glower, she replied, "Well, you assumed wrong."
He gazed at her over the tops of his expensive-looking sunglasses. "Then why did you leave it?"
Usagi hesitated a moment before deciding that a fib was her only option. "I was… I was just going to the bathroom," she said, crossing her arms defiantly.
His teeth flashed in a quick grin and he waggled the glass at her as he said, "One: The bathroom is in the other direction. Two: Your ears turn red when you lie."
Usagi spluttered for a moment, completely at a loss for a response. Struck by irrational impulse, she snatched the glass from Mamoru's long fingers and, staring daggers at him the entire while, proceeded to gulp down the whole sticky mess, without pause even for a breath of air.
The dark haired man arched a brow as he watched the display, grudgingly impressed with the lengths to which she was willing to go to win an argument. He was even considering complimenting her tenacity, but he did not have a chance as Usagi suddenly dropped the glass. Mamoru's hand whipped out instinctively and, with unnatural speed, snatched it out of the air before it could shatter on the tiled floor. He peeked at the girl, afraid that she would comment on the borderline inhuman feat, but she had not even seen.
Usagi was preoccupied with dancing around the room, her arms wrapped around her head, moaning loudly.
Mamoru, as well as the vast majority of the arcade's customers, watched the girl in mute surprise as she spun and twisted between game machines, bumping into people and walls with equal disregard. An, "Ooo," like the howl of a ghost in a cheap horror movie, poured unendingly from her lips. After a moment, he exclaimed incredulously, "Odango Atama, what areyou doing?"
Without slowing in her dance of agony, Usagi whined, "Braaaaain freeeeeeeeze!"
A befuddled silence descended on the Crown's patrons as they digested her response, but it was swiftly and thoroughly broken by a sharp bark of laughter. So unusual was the roar of mirth from Mamoru Chiba, normally the most frustratingly composed man that Usagi had ever met, she immediately forgot about her pain and turned to gape at him. Clutching at his sides, Mamoru dropped onto the stool that Usagi had earlier vacated. He made no attempt to calm himself, chuckling loudly as tears of mirth formed in the corners of his eyes. Her fascination at seeing such an unexpected side of his personality was inevitably replaced by a rush of more familiar annoyance as she remembered at whom he was laughing.
Crossing her arms and glaring at him only sent the young man into another fit of hilarity. Her face red with mingled embarrassment and fury, Usagi growled, "There's no need to make a spectacle of yourself, Jerk!" Stomping her foot, the girl turned and stormed out the door with a huff.
Through the large, plate-glass window, Mamoru watched her go. Her sunshine pigtails flounced with ire, but whatever the minor tragedy was that had seen her so despondently ignoring her milkshake earlier, had been completely forgotten. Mission accomplished. As soon as she was out of sight, his amusement quieted. Naturally, the aloof mask slipped back over his face. At the sound of approaching footsteps, he turned his head slightly and greeted his friend, Motoki, with a small, conservative smile.
"What was that all about?" his friend asked, a bemused grin on his face.
Mamoru simply shrugged, then, his lips twitching towards a smirk, replied, "You know, Buddy, I think I'm in the mood for a milkshake today. Vanilla."
"Vanilla? I thought chocolate was your favorite."
His eyes sparkled. "True, but the chocolate shakes seem a bit dangerous today."
A quick note on terminology… I'm not Japanese. I don't speak Japanese. I've never been to Japan. The majority of the Japanese I've gleaned over the years has come through the reading of too much fanfic. As such, I'm not going to be using a lot of Japanese words, addresses, etc in this story because I would most certainly use them incorrectly. I have made a few exceptions for things which I think are integral to the Usagi/Mamoru story and that don't translate well to English. Examples are 'Odango Atama', 'Mamochan' and 'Usako'. Others might come up, but those are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head.
I will use the characters' original Japanese names but in the Americanized fashion of given name first, family name second. This isn't meant in any form of disrespect, just that I respect Japanese too much to butcher it. I hope that makes sense.
Also, you might notice that this rule does not seem to apply to all the drabbles in this story. That's because most of these were written ten years ago and I'm only now coming back and completing the series as well as rewriting a number of the old ones. So when you come across those places where I've clearly misused Japanese, please blame my younger, more naïve self and gain a better understanding as to why I'm not making the same mistake now. :)