DISCLAIMER: Good Lord. After this I think they own me. grumbles
SUMMARY: Le Sigh. This was supposed to be a funny mini-fic, you know? The challenge itself is the second scene; the rest of the story is background. facepalm Why must this always happen to me? Anyway, the summary: Mamoru/Usagi fic. post Sailor Stars. I'm crossing my fingers for this to be canon since I have no idea if there was ever anything after SS.
FEEDBACK: Would be nice.
A.N.: I'm SO lifting the title from another story. The problem is, I don't remember which story. I have a feeling it is a Draco/Ginny by fearthainn... I'm sorry. It just fit so well!

Written for the 'fight' challenge at sm-monthly.

non-betaed. puppy eyes


by Leni

Usagi's eyes widened impossibly. He couldn't have meant that! "Take it back."

He crossed his arms over his chest, shook his head.

Her jaw set as she stood up from her seat and tossed her napkin onto the table. He made no movement to stop her, staring into his coffee unblinkingly. Usagi bit her inner cheek, too aware that they were in public, in her favorite arcade, to make a scene.

"Good bye, Mamoru."

He didn't look up until he heard the doors close behind her. Then he sighed and called for Motoki's sister to bring the bill. He refused to think that she'd called him 'Mamoru', and that the lack of the usual endearment had hit him harder than her absence.


Rei looked at Minako. Minako shrugged.

Minako looked at Makoto. Makoto shook her head.

Makoto looked at Rei. Rei sighed heavily and knocked on the door.

Ami opened it.

"What happened? What happened?"

Ami shot a glare at the curious blonde and Minako pouted but pressed her lips together. Only now did she notice the figure lying on the bed inside, pink covers drawn around her as she slept on.

"What's wrong, Ami-chan?" Rei asked softly, so as not to disturb their friend.

"Yeah, why is Usa so weird now?" Makoto looked ready to push Ami aside and ask those questions of Usagi herself. Minako touched her elbow and whispered a 'not now'. The brown-haired girl took a deep breath to calm herself but stayed put, pinning Ami down with an upset look. "And why didn't she want us there!"

Ami sighed. "It's Mamoru."

The name of Usagi's boyfriend froze them. There was only one reason why Usagi would act so strangely if Mamoru was involved. None of them needed to hear the 'They broke up.' that followed.

The three of them rolled their eyes in unison, but Minako was the one to voice their common thought: "Again?"


Usagi wasn't asleep.

She heard the talk at the doorstep, and cringed at Makoto's question. She had only called Ami in, true, even though she was aware that all the others would follow. The girls meant well, but they were too protective, too blindly loyal to really be of help this time. Only Ami could be trusted to keep a level head through the story, and Usagi was relieved that her friend had come through. Ami had been a sweetheart, telling her so reasonably that everything was alright and that she better rest and she'd see everything clearer when she woke up.

Usagi saw things clearly now, but she hadn't wanted to disappoint Ami so she'd dutifully closed her eyes and evened her breath. But as she heard the collective groan her friends made as they got the news, she couldn't contain a whimper.

They heard it. Of course they did. Both as best friends and guardians they seemed to be extraordinarily attuned to her.

"Oh, Usa-chan…." Minako was the first to react, running to her and sitting on the mattress. Usagi felt as her friend petted her hair, and she only wanted to curl in even tighter. "I'm sure it's nothing. No, I'm not sure, I'm positive of it."

"It's the same," Rei muttered as she entered the room, too. Minako shot her a death glare, but the brunette calmly shrugged it off as she continued walking.

Makoto came right in, mindless of any proper manners and managing to arrive to Usagi's bedside a couple of steps sooner than Rei. "But we are sure! And positive!" She nodded towards the blonde and Minako smiled in return.

"Mamoru loves you. You love Mamoru," Rei said it as though it was the most obvious fact on Earth. This, to her, probably was true. "You two have been through this before," She left out the 'several times' at the end of that sentence, but everyone in the room heard it all the same. "He'll come through your window before the night ends and apologise profusely for whatever he did this time."

Minako and Makoto nodded as one.

"See?" Rei smiled smugly.

"Rei…." Ami's hands flexed nervously, and she shook her head almost imperceptibly when she got her friend's attention. "Maybe we should leave this for another time."

Rei frowned. "But…"

Ami's eyes were hard now.


The blue-haired girl glared daggers, but her voice was still soft when she spoke. "Usa should sleep. Now."

Usagi looked at her gratefully. Minako and Makoto looked at each other in confusion, but they recognized the look in Ami's eyes. Rei did, too, so she kept silent except for a quick goodbye to the recumbent girl and muttered apologies for having interrupted her rest. The other girls copied her and after another minute, Usagi was again alone in her room.

She rolled until she was facing the ceiling, angry with herself as she felt about to cry. It wasn't supposed to be like this.


Mamoru kicked a can along the pavement, hands deep in his pockets and barely bothering to check if he'd be bumping into a passerby. He walked briskly, eyes fixed to his feet but not really seeing anything.

He hadn't wanted to say it. But it was the truth.

Now Usagi was mad at him, and he couldn't blame her. He couldn't take it back either, because it was the truth.

He wished he could turn time back, and then he withdrew his wish in the same breath. He'd seen what playing with time could do, and not even after his completely ill-timed moronic words would he want that responsibility.

But he wished…. He wished that Usa could see it from his point of view. He was entitled to be angry, damn it. He knew he should act the grown-up part. Be mature and reasonable and see that she was right, too. But this was Usako and he hadn't seen her in so long. He'd been dead, for God's sake. Then he'd come back and everything had been right and yesterday everything went wrong when he found out all about that little singer-senshi-whatever who'd acted as Usa's shadow in his absence.

Mamoru knew he should be glad about it. Usagi had been well-protected and he could admit that Seiya had saved her more than once. He should be grateful for his presence. But 'should' was a funny word, and Mamoru was everything but glad and grateful.

He was angry. Not because of the news, but did it have to remain hidden for so long? If Molly hadn't mentioned the Three Lights yesterday and asked Usako about Seiya, nobody would have thought to tell him, would they?

He wasn't jealous. He wasn't that stupid. But he'd seen the way Usa's face softened at the mention of the other man, and how she'd smiled as she explained to Molly that he and his friends were alright, just temporarily missing from the show scene. In Senshi speak: They've left the planet and are too busy rebuilding a planet to go on a tour.

Earlier today he'd taken advantage of their date to ask about details on the otherworldly Senshi. Usako's head had snapped up at the question, obviously startled. She'd had that look of deer in the headlights that she hadn't sported for ages.

"That Seiya guy, was he your friend?"

Fiddling with her straw, almost knotting the poor thing, Usako had nodded. And then she had launched onto a rant about school and her grades and wasn't it unbelievable that there was a teacher more demanding than Haruna-sensei?

Mamoru had narrowed his eyes, listening to her and nodding at the right places. When the babble was over, he'd charged again. "So, was Seiya close to the girls?"

Usako had looked at the table and shrugged. "Not really," she'd mumbled.

"He close to you, then?" It was the reasonable conclusion. After all, if Molly had asked her about the guy, then it was obvious that he must have been close friends with her.

Usako's head had lifted towards him. And Mamoru was driven back by the fear that mingled with the worry and the surprise.

"God, Usako," he muttered. "I'm not mad at you, what kind of jerk do you think I am?" She'd opened her mouth and he waited, and waited. And still she'd told him nothing about those months. Nothing! "You shouldn't be with me if you think I'm a complete idiot," he'd said in resignation. Ill-timed. Moronic.

Usagi's eyes had widened impossibly. "Take it back," she'd whispered.

He hadn't been able to. Returning to the present, Mamoru knew that he still couldn't take it back. It was the truth. Usagi had to think him stupid enough not to tie the loose ends. And what was the problem, anyway? Nothing to hide, nothing to lose, right?


He stepped onto the can, pressing it forcefully against the ground until he knew it was only a flat surface under his foot.

He'd thought she trusted him beyond everything else. She didn't, and that hurt him more than any hidden truth.


Usagi was still staring at the ceiling.

She should have told him sooner. She should have said everything earlier. She should have talked, damn it.

But she'd been afraid of his reaction. They'd never had the most stable relationship. Whenever they'd been close to achieve a sound rapport between them, evil and trouble rushed in, separating them for months without end until they had to begin all over again.

Rei had been right, though. Mamoru loved her. She loved Mamoru. He always showed it in the simplest ways, like letting her call him Mamo-chan in front of his friends and colleagues and not blushing at the silly nickname. Usagi showed it in any way she could, trying to fit the enormity of the love she felt within the smallest details.

When he'd come back this time, she'd decided that it would be perfect. He'd been so eager to make things right, to go back to before his departure and ignore the last months. He'd been smiling and hugging her for all his worth, and that was when Usagi decided that she'd make sure everything was perfect. Perfect. They deserved it. The battle against Galaxia had scarred everyone, but their relationship had probably suffered the worst blow. Separated for so long, not even a word or a short meeting like with Beryl or the amnesia. It'd been hell for her. All her old insecurities had come rushing forward. That she was too young, too bouncy, too little and too few. That he'd moved on to better things, better women in his trip.

She'd been wrong, of course. But the knowledge didn't heal her wounds. His presence didn't magically erase the doubts she'd had. It was unfair; she should be able to differentiate her imaginations from Mamoru's feelings. She should grow up and accept his words and actions as the only truth. She should believe in him, as easily as when they first fell in love. But 'should' was a funny word, and it didn't make her fears disappear in a flash.

That's why she hadn't told him of Seiya's advances. The fear that she'd add another fault to the many she already carried. It hadn't been a reasonable decision, but when had she ever reacted reasonably around Mamo-chan? And if she couldn't tell him about Seiya's feelings for her, then she couldn't tell him anything at all. Not about Seiya, not about the Three Lights, nothing that wasn't strictly necessary. Her friends, who'd never sympathized with the other Senshi anyway, kept the unspoken agreement and didn't mention their fellow warriors.

But Molly was unaware of all this. Molly only knew that her favourite band had disappeared and that her best friend may have information on it. Molly only smiled as she came to her and Mamoru's table, engaged her in conversation and finally asked about Seiya, as if Usagi had been that close to him that she'd know his whereabouts. Thing was, Molly had been right.

And Mamoru had noticed. And he'd wondered. And he'd asked.

And she'd answered like the scared rabbit she'd once been and drawn him away. She'd tried to trust him with the truth in the arcade. It shouldn't have been so difficult. She'd done nothing wrong, except be in pain and vulnerable and so damn lonely. And even then she'd looked at Seiya's attentions like a balm that soothed her, not the cure that Mamoru's return would have been.

But she'd kept quiet. And Mamoru had gotten mad.

She couldn't blame him. Usagi muttered the words to the ceiling. She couldn't blame him for reacting like he did.

God, it wasn't supposed to be like this!

Usagi stared at the phone. Rei had been wrong in one thing. Mamoru wouldn't dash in to win her back with apologies and gifts. She'd been the one in the wrong this time. She was the one to owe an apology and an explanation, and she could only hope that Mamoru would understand.


Mamoru slung his front door open and didn't look where he tossed his keychain. Shoulders slumped, gaze still fixed on his shoes, he entered and slammed the door shut in the same movement.

Force of habit made him turn on his answer machine and wait as the tape began running.

The first syllable made him raise his head in disbelief. The first sentence made him breathe freely for the first time since he'd left the arcade. By the end of a paragraph he was forced to sit down, a deep frown on his face.

The room was empty before Usagi's voice died out, and only the sound of curtains flapping against the open window filled the space.


Usagi now slept for real.

"Why didn't you trust me?" he whispered, back to his normal clothes.

Usagi didn't even move, holding to her pillow with one hand and the phone still clutched in the other. Her message had included a labyrinth of half-mumbled sentences and contradicting words. He'd gotten the gist of it, sure, but he also needed to hear the whole problem from her lips.

"Usa? Usako?" He shook her gently but steadily, keeping it until she opened her eyes.

"Mamo-chan…" she greeted him, voice still raspy with sleepiness.

He had to smile when he heard that word, knowing in his gut that everything would be alright. That it may not be the blissful paradise he'd tried to relive in the last weeks, but its loss was worthwhile if she felt safe with him again. If Usagi loved him, he could work through this.

"I do love you, you know?" she said, as if she was trying to confirm his thoughts.

He nodded. That had been the first sentence in her message.

The End

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