Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon but imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery.
Your Secret Admirer
Part One - Discovery
By Danika Lareyna
He had waited until 8pm; he had to be certain that there were no students around to witness his act. Peeking around the corner, he spotted his target halfway down the abandoned hallway. The only light came from behind the closed door of a classroom near the end of the corridor. He waited but no sound or movement came from the room, convincing him that some careless teacher had simply forgotten to flip it off. Moving with as much stealth as he could muster he slipped down the hall and, finding the appropriate locker, delivered the package. Stepping back and wiping the sweat from his forehead, he congratulated himself on a job well done and hoped he would not have to do this again. He simply was not cut out for this sort of thing.
Suddenly the door to the 'abandoned' classroom banged open. Silhouetted against the light stood the small frame of a female middle-school student. His heart dropped when he saw her long hair pulled into a very distinctive hairstyle. Serena Tsukino, the very last person he wanted to catch him, yelled at the top of her lungs, "Miss Haruna, I have waited long enough! I'm going home now!" Turning into the hallway she muttered, "I cannot believe she put me in detention and then forgot about me again." A flurry of movement caught her attention and she looked up just in time to see a tall, dark figure back away from a row of lockers and bolt down the hallway in the opposite direction of her.
Serena's head tilted in curious confusion as she watched the figure try to throw on the brakes to turn down a connecting corridor but overshoot and run face first into a closet door. Sluggishly he picked himself up, shook his dazed head then froze. Slowly he raised his eyes and spotted the stationary blond girl, watching him with wide, bemused eyes. She could have sworn she heard him say, "Eep!" before he haphazardly scuttled down the connecting hallway. A brief moment later she heard the main entrance doors slam.
Giggling softly to herself Serena decided that whoever the figure groping about in the dark was, he must have been pulling a prank of some sort and had feared to be caught. Pity he had run off, she might have been able to convince him to do something nasty to Miss Haruna to pay her back for keeping a poor student so late. Serena's mother would kill her when she got home.
The momentary good humor drained away and she trudged down the hall to her locker to collect her things. Opening the metal door, she blindly reached in to grab the books she would need for the homework she would not do. Her groping hands fell on something unexpected though and, after a moment's panic, she realized that it was a flower of some sort. Pulling the curiosity out of her locker and moving back into the light emitting from her previous prison cell she found it to be a lovely pink rose with a note attached. Her heart thumping madly she turned the card up to read it.
"To Serena Tsukino, the most beautiful girl on Earth. From your Secret Admirer."
"So you think the guy you saw was your secret admirer?" Mina asked eagerly.
"Judging from his reaction to her obviously unexpected appearance it would seem to be a logical conclusion," Amy put in.
Serena nodded, "Yeah, what Amy said. What else would he have been doing? I didn't realize it when I first saw him but he was standing right in front of my locker." She was sitting at a booth in her favorite hang out, the Crown Game Center, sipping a root beer float and sharing her story with her four best friends; Amy, Raye, Mina and Lita. The rose in question lay on the table between them, almost sparkling with mystery.
Raye grabbed a french-fry from the plate they were sharing. Just before she brought it to her mouth she paused and asked, "Why didn't you take off after him? Run him down."
Serena laughed, "At the speed he was going, I could never have caught him."
Lita lowered her head and grinned conspiratorially, "You would have if you'd transformed."
"Lita!" Amy exclaimed, "That would be a serious misuse of our abilities. If Luna heard you say-"
Lita waved Amy down, "I was just kidding! Calm down, Amy. You know she wouldn't do that."
"Wouldn't think of it, more likely," Raye agreed, sticking her nose in the air.
Before another argument reared its ugly head Mina said, "But you couldn't see him at all? You couldn't make out any... uh... distinguishing features?" She leaned across the table, eyes bright, "You don't have any idea who it was?"
Serena frowned and shook her head, "It was really dark... All I could see was that he was a guy, a tall guy."
The girls all sat back, puzzling over the gift and chomping on french-fries. As their plate of salty-goodness ran dangerously low Mina sat forward suddenly. She waved her hand frantically and, as the other girls leaned in to hear, she whispered, "Don't look now, Serena, but Darien's been staring at you and that rose for the last five minutes."
Serena, of course, looked. As she raised her head Darien Shields whipped back around to contemplate his cup of coffee. She could not make out his expression as he was sitting at the booth on the far side of the arcade but he had his shoulders hunched up as if hoping not to be noticed. She turned back to her friends with wide, incredulous eyes, "Darien? No way! He hates me!"
Raye arched a brow, "And you hate him, too, right?"
Serena flushed crimson, "Of course, he's a huge jerk!"
Mina smirked wickedly, "Then why does he keep staring at you, like that?" All four of her friends were grinning knowingly now. Serena gaped at them, they could not really believe that her arch-nemesis Darien had feelings for her, could they? Serena shot a glance at him and then back at the rose. He couldn't possibly, right?
Mina gasped and grabbed Serena's hand, "I've got it!"
Lita and Serena made their way through the arcade, dodging around the after-school crowd, to the counter. Lita stopped next do Darien and leaned against the counter taking full advantage of her low-cut top and bountiful assets to try to get Andrew's attention. Serena stood behind her a little ways, looking nervous.
Darien did not seem to notice them until Andrew wandered over to the girls and took Lita's order of another plate of french-fries. Downing the last of his coffee he stood to leave, without a word to Serena or her friend. Seeing her chance about to head out the door and Lita too busy flirting with Andrew to notice Serena quickly kicked her ankle. Spinning around with a yelp Lita looked as if she was about to murder whoever had the nerve to touch her. Wild-eyed, Serena nodded her head towards Darien's retreating back.
"Oh!" Lita exclaimed, making Serena want to kick her again. In a loud, carrying voice she proclaimed, "Serena, have you seen my new earrings?"
Wondering how on earth she had been talked into this but noting that Darien had paused, though not turned back, she replied in an equally amplified voice, "Wow! They're so pretty! I've always wanted some rose-shaped earrings, you know."
"Really?" Lita asked, her voice sounded mechanical and scripted to Serena's ears, "I did not know that, Serena! I got these at that shop a block from the school, you could go there."
"Oh, but I don't have enough money. Oh well, I guess I won't get any," Serena tried to put a tinge of regret in her voice. Casting a quick glance back at Darien she was disappointed to notice that he was no longer listening in on their conversation but making his way out the automatic doors. She met Lita's eyes and shrugged.
"Here are your fries, ladies," Andrew called cheerfully.
"Wow" Molly exclaimed in her incredibly annoying accent, "So you think if you get some rose earrings that'll be proof that Darien is your secret admirer?"
Serena stopped shoveling her lunch down her throat long enough to uneasily reply, "That what the girls think, but I think they're crazy. Darien hates me and that is that."
A slight rustling sound was all the warning they had before Melvin's head popped out of the bushes. Molly inhaled some rice and began choking while Serena stood and knocked the bespectacled nerd on the head, conveniently releasing him from the tangle of branches in which he had been caught. After standing and dusting himself off as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, which in Melvin's case was true, he turned to Serena. Poking his fingers together nervously he stammered, "I- uh- have something for you, S-S-Serena."
Running through a mental checklist of any possible gift Melvin might have for her and finding none of them desirable in the least Serena replied in a tired voice, "What is it, Melvin?"
With shaking hands, he reached into his pocket and extracted a small, dark blue box and held it out to her. Staring at it apprehensively but making no move to take it, Serena noticed the box was sitting atop a note. It was similar to the one from the day before yesterday and only a bit was visible under the hinged box but she could see enough to read 'Secret Admirer.' She felt her stomach sink down to her toes, "You are my secret admirer, Melvin?"
Melvin's face turned red. Had she not known better she would have sworn that he looked angry rather than embarrassed. Molly, having finally gotten her breath back, said, "Ya know, Melvin, secret admirers aren't supposed ta reveal themselves so quickly. Oh well, what'd he get you, Serena?"
Melvin seemed to have reached the boiling point and shouted, "It's not from me! I was forced to give it to you by someone else."
Melvin's eyes widened behind his thick frames and he glanced from side to side before whispering, "I can't tell you. The person said if I told..." His voice trailed off and the color drained from his face. Hastily he tossed the note and box into Serena's lap. "Ok, I did my job!"
As she watched Melvin dart towards the school building Serena concluded that his frame was far too small and wiry to be the figure of the night before last. With a relieved sigh, she read the note attached to the box. "A rose pales before your beauty, but your wish is my command. -Your Secret Admirer." With a trembling hand, she opened the box, already knowing what she would find within.
She was not wrong.
The delighted squeal of four teenaged girls could be heard for miles around the arcade when she revealed the pair of dainty pink earrings. Serena sat quietly, face aflame, as the girls congratulated themselves on their perfect plan. "It has to be Darien," Lita crowed, "No one else was close enough to have heard!"
"I concur," said Amy, "It could not have been a coincidence considering the line about your wish being his command. I find it highly unlikely that this mysterious beau could be anyone but Darien."
Mina, looking highly proud of herself, turned to Serena and asked, "So, you lucky dog, what're you going to do now?"
Serena snapped out of her embarrassment and asked, "How am I lucky? The biggest jerk on the face of the planet is giving me gifts!"
"The biggest, hottest jerk," Raye corrected.
Serena glared at her friend, "Darien Shields is not hot."
"Oh yes he is!" chorused Mina and Lita.
"Indeed," Amy said whipping out her mini-computer, her fingers flying over the keys, "According to my calculations Darien has a hotness factor four times higher than the average male in Tokyo and unrivaled by every other male within a thirty-six mile radius."
It took the other girls a few moments to comprehend what their genius friend had just told them but when they did Mina exclaimed, "You've done calculations on how hot guys are!"
Amy blushed and looked like she wished she had never said anything causing the others to burst into giggles. "Seriously though," Lita said, "You couldn't do much better. I mean, even without his looks he's like super smart, he's supposed to be pretty well off financially and he's a college guy. You can't beat that!"
Serena pushed the little box away from her, "Yeah sure, can't beat that except for the fact that he thinks I'm a completely klutzy ditz who's nothing more than a punching bag for him to jab insults at."
"Well it's not far from the truth, you know," Raye replied with a smirk.
Mina gently smacked Raye in the back of the head, once again trying to fend off another battle. "Well apparently he doesn't think of you like that, Serena," she said, "Or he wouldn't be giving you flowers and jewelry, would he?"
Serena's eyes widened in comprehension, "Unless he's doing this to play a trick on me. That's it! He's just trying to mess with my emotions, make me fall in love with some romantic secret admirer and then laugh at me when I find out it's him. That... that despicable chowder head!"
At that moment the bell in the entrance to the Crown Game Center tinkled and in walked said despicable chowder head. Caught up in her anger, Serena immediately snatched the box up from the table and stalked towards the unfortunate young man who, completely oblivious to her approach, was ordering his usual cup of coffee. Just as he took the first, soothing sip a loud voice screeched directly in his ear, "Darien!" causing him to spew it back out into his cup.
Slowly setting down the cup and massaging his ear he turned to her, "Yes, Meatball Head?"
A small box was thrust under his nose. "What is the meaning of this?" the irate blond shouted. Darien plucked the box from her grasp and looked inside before turning over the note and reading it. Analysis complete, he snapped the lid shut with a snort.
"You? Beautiful?" he said, "I pity the person delusional enough to have written that note."
She crossed her arms, not to be put off by his insults. "You pity yourself?" she asked, coldly.
Darien arched an elegant brow. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he informed her.
Serena's pigtails stood nearly straight out from her head as she exploded, "Don't play dumb with me! I know these are from you, and the rose too. I know you're just trying to mess with my heart and I think you're the most cold, heartless, despicable chowder head ever!"
The petite girl stood before him, breathing heavily after her outburst and glaring at him with furious blue eyes. Calmly he reached out and took one of her tiny hands into his own. Pressing the box into her suddenly slack grip and staring into her eyes he said solemnly, "I would never play with a girl's feelings like that, Serena." Releasing her he turned back to the counter, calling over his shoulder, "Even a meatball head like you."
Serena, back in her booth with her friends, stared numbly into space. "And you believe him," Lita asked, "You don't think he could have been lying to throw you off the trail?" Serena thought back to his grave, sincere blue eyes and shook her head. Her friends were silent, taking in this new piece of information.
"Well then," Amy said at last, "That leaves us with two possible conclusions. Either he was not the one who left you the gifts, which we have already ruled out, or he is sincere in his affection for you."
Serena was startled back to reality, "You mean you think he actually likes me?"
"Seems like it," Raye replied, glancing over at the object of their discussion. He had carefully avoided looking their way since turning his back on Serena.
"But then why didn't he admit it when I confronted him?"
Mina sighed, "Well you weren't very nice about it, were you? He probably thinks you hate him and regrets ever giving you anything in the first place. If he really likes you that much, you must have broken his heart."
Serena stared at her friends and then looked down at the box. The pink rose-shaped earrings sparkled accusingly at her, they really were very pretty. Guiltily Serena reached out and fingered one, "Oh..."
That night Serena sat at her vanity, her heart troubled. Luna was asleep, blissfully unaware of the events of the last few days. Serena envied her. She glanced down at the objects of her befuddlement. The rose and the box of earrings sat atop the vanity, their elegance looked out of place amongst the bunnies and other cute girlish items in the room. Could Darien actually like her? Could he really have sent her those in an attempt to win her heart?
Picking up the rose and twirling it lazily in her fingers she amused herself with the thought that he would have to do anything to win her. The truth was she had harbored a deep and shameful crush on him almost since they had met. The concept of him returning her feelings had been too overwhelming for her to handle and she had sought any alternate means of explanation. But the alternatives were exhausted, even Amy agreed and she knew everything.
Darien Shields liked her, and she had ruined it.
In the mirror Serena saw her eyes harden with resolve. Well if she had ruined it she would simply have to unruin it. If he thought she hated him then she would have to convince him otherwise. Smiling to herself, Serena clipped on the pink, rose-shaped earrings. Feeling giddy she decided that the first step was to get him to admit he'd been her secret admirer in the first place.
Elsewhere, Darien lay in bed wondering what fool had proclaimed himself the meatball head's secret admirer.