Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.
My Fair Bunny
Part One - Promise
Mamoru watched her. Were he the type to blatantly reveal his every emotion on his face- like her- disgust would have been running rampant across his features. As it was the feeling was simmering just below the surface, begging to be released in a cutting insult. 'Patience, my sweet,' he told it, 'Just a few more moments and she will do something truly mortifying and then, then my precious, we shall have our say.'
Usagi was leaning across the counter in an subconscious effort to become closer to the man she was flirting with. Closer... closer... Almost there... Now! Overbalancing Usagi toppled over the counter, Motoki leaping aside just in time, and landed in a heap on the opposite floor. As if to add insult to injury, her half-full, mostly melted strawberry sundae spun and wobbled its way towards the edge of the counter. A simple, swift movement on Mamoru's part could have stopped the coming disaster, but where was the fun in that? Inevitably, the cup reached its destination, tilted, and landed with a splat on Usagi's head. Mamoru felt the tension which had been building in him erupt in a burst of sweet satisfaction.
Now was the moment for the perfect insult, honed to razor sharpness and intricately crafted with a tiny barb to really tear. Mamoru opened his mouth, his fantastic wit and the horrible cruelty that only a certain blonde seemed to bring to the surface, coming into play. At the last possible moment before the words left his lips Usagi's eyes watered and her lower lip began to tremble. Curse her! He was supposed to bring that look to her face; it brought no satisfaction if she was already upset. Settling back into a sulk, Mamoru swallowed his taunt.
Motoki leaned over and helped the klutz to her feet. He handed over one of the dishrags he kept behind the counter just for her; the need was always present. With a sympathetic grin, he told her to go clean up in the restroom and he would fix her a new sundae, on the house. Usagi's tears dried up immediately and, like a little miracle, her radiant smile showed itself from behind the clouds. Mamoru's sulk deepened. The girl practically skipped to the restroom, mindless of the cold, sticky sweetness running down her neck.
Motoki watched Mamoru watching Usagi. Outwardly he looked in control, rather bored even; but Motoki had not known Mamoru for nearly ten years to no avail. Visible only to him was the wide range of emotions playing across Mamoru's icy blue eyes: revulsion, frustration, annoyance, and most of all obsession. Sometimes Motoki felt little shivers dance up and down his spine when he saw that look in his friend's eyes. In all of their long years as friends, Motoki had never seen anything even similar in the normally quiet, polite and caring young man.
Plunking a new sugary delight on the counter next to Mamoru, Motoki firmly instructed his friend to make sure Usagi got her treat and not to tease her. Mamoru's eyebrows drew down but he did not argue, or even meet Motoki's eye. As Motoki made his way over towards the booths to take a new groups' order a thought occurred to him. Turning back, he realized that the counter was entirely empty other than Mamoru; and yet when she had entered Usagi had immediately oriented on the stool adjacent to her tormentor. Motoki stared in surprise for a moment and then, shaking his head and turning back to his task, he wondered with a bit of a shudder if Usagi was some sort of masochist.
When Usagi returned to her seat and found her beloved occupied with another group, her shining eyes faded and, with a depressed huff, she flung herself onto the stool next to Mamoru and attacked her dessert. As Usagi ate, she peered at Mamoru out of the corner of her eyes while firmly pretending that he did not exist to taint her world. He was hunched around his coffee cup, not drinking but taking in the steam. She followed the line of his back, intrigued by the juxtaposition of the elegant curve of his spine outlined by the stomach churning color of his jacket. He was not an overly large man, tall and thin, but she imagined that he had far more strength than his form revealed. With a smirk, she noticed that the little finger of his left hand was twitching; a sure sign that he had some cruel comment lurking in his mind but he was resisting, probably on Motoki's orders.
Her wicked streak took hold; if he was not going to tease her that left him open for her own abuse. Without looking at him she chirped, "Mamoru-Baka, did you know we're learning about different animals in school now?" Her target did not respond, not even a twitch. Blithely, she continued, "Oh yes, we saw a movie about these really ugly lemurs and I thought to myself, 'Huh, I didn't know Mamoru-Baka was a native of Madagascar.'" Usagi glanced at him; he was still, too still. She pressed her attack, "Then we learned how some male animals have really showy feathers and fur and stuff to attract mates and I thought to myself, 'Huh, considering his jacket, I wonder if that means Mamoru is really hoping to find a girl who's color-blind." A tiny muscle in his cheek twitched- success! One more shove and she would have her victory. Thinking hard she said, "Ooh, and then we learned about animals that mark their territory by leaving smelly marks wherever they go and I thought to myself-"
"No matter how much you flirt with him, he will never love you."
If you listened closely on that sunny spring day, you could hear the shattering of an innocent heart.
"What the hell did you do to her?!" Motoki demanded, "I've never seen Usagi look like that!"
"She started it!" Mamoru insisted, sounding juvenile and foolish even to his own ears. The image of Usagi, pale and numb as she made her way out of the arcade, zombie-like, shook him to his core, awakening emotions he did not know he had and could not recognize. He had made her mad, he had made her cry; he had seen and evoked a wider range of emotions from that girl than any other ten people were even capable of. But he had never hurt her like that. He had not believed it possible to suck all of the light from her soul, anymore than he believed it possible to extinguish the sun. It simply burned too bright and eternal. Chiba Mamoru had achieved the impossible, the terrible.
In addition, he had incredibly pissed Motoki off.
"That's it!" Motoki roared; Mamoru flinched back before he could stop himself. "I don't care what it was you said to that poor girl, but you are going to apologize to her and you are going to fix whatever it is that's wrong. Do you hear me?"
Mamoru knew that he would do anything to take back his words but apologizing was another story altogether. He had not apologized to anyone in as long as he could remember. Struggling internally he muttered, "And if I don't?"
Motoki ceased his raging and stared at his friend coldly, "Then you will not be welcome here anymore."
Mamoru heard the undercurrent meaning in his words. Their friendship, possibly the only friendship he had had since his parents had died (if you did not count Usagi, and he was probably the only person on Earth who did), would be over. Deep in his heart, where he could easily dismiss it as foolishness and insanity, a quiet voice asked whether he would be more hurt by the loss of Usagi than Motoki. Mamoru stood and left the arcade, his mind roiling with the thought of apologizing to the ditzy, little girl. Subconsciously he was extremely grateful to his friend for providing the ultimatum as an excuse to make up with her.
Mamoru stood outside of Usagi's house. A bouquet of roses was clutched in his hand, beads of perspiration formed on his brow. Not that he acknowledged them, Chiba Mamoru did not sweat. Wiping what was not sweat from his palms and frantically rehearsing his words under his breath, he reached out and pressed the doorbell. How could such a cheerful chime sound so much like a death toll?
A lovely woman with long waves of indigo hair answered the door. She looked nothing like Usagi but when she gave him a bright, accepting smile, he decided that she must be the girl's mother. She wore an apron and carried a spatula in one hand, the perfect image of a stereotypical housewife. Mamoru tried to picture Usagi in the same attire and almost smiled in amusement. His daydreaming was cut off when the woman's smile faded slightly and her eyes turned curious, "Can I help you, young man?"
Before Mamoru could formulate an answer, a loud voice rang out from within the abode, "Young man? Young man!" There was a sound like the charging of a bull elephant and a red faced, bespectacled man appeared at the door. He took in Mamoru's nervous expression and the flowers clutched in his hand. "Get my gun, Dear," he murmured, pushing his way in front of the woman.
Mamoru took a step back, "Uh..." he said, wittily, "Is Usagi here?"
This was, apparently, not the correct thing to say. The man's face darkened from cherry red to the color of a fresh bruise. Usagi's mother rolled her eyes. "You are here to date my daughter," Usagi's father spat. His tone sounded more as if he were saying, "You are here to set fire to my house, destroy all I hold dear, and kick my puppy." Fortunately, Mamoru was quick to respond in the negative.
"No! I just, I needed to apologize to her for something."
The man's glasses steamed over with the rage boiling through his blood. "You made my little girl cry!" he roared. Slowly, starting in his feet and working its way up like a volcano threatening to erupt, Usagi's father began to tremble. Mamoru realized that the older man looked moments away from attacking, gun or no, he felt it a good idea to beat a hasty retreat. He shot a desperate look at the woman standing a little behind the man. She moved her mouth slowly and precisely.
Carefully, Mamoru read her lips, "Back... Door... Now... Run!"
He took her advice.
Mamoru stood on a can of particularly foul smelling garbage and peered over the wall surrounding Usagi's home. In the alley behind him, a tiny dachshund yapped piercingly and occasionally leaped up to nip his ankles. He ignored the mutt stoically. Suddenly his precarious perch failed him and he tumbled, tipping the trash over and landing in it. The dog recognized its chance and began to maul, in a tiny dachshund sort of way, Mamoru's leg. Mamoru stared up at the sky and wondered what he had done to deserve this. An image flashed across his mind of Usagi sitting in almost the exact same position in the arcade with ice cream in her hair. Oh, that.
Grumbling, he peeked around the back gate and found himself face to face with Usagi's mother. With a yelp he threw himself backwards, tripped over the still attacking dachshund, and landed back in the trash. As the dachshund, giving it up for a bad job, raced away yelping, Mamoru climbed back to his feet under the amused eyes of the blue-maned woman.
Trying to get the last of the coffee grounds from the back of his pants and pulling the rotting banana peel out of his hair, he opened his mouth to speak to her. She held a finger to her lips and, getting the message, Mamoru kept his silence. She beckoned him to follow her and turned back into the yard. Anxiously he trailed behind her. He was surprised when she led him, not to the house, but a small, plastic playhouse under a tree in the backyard. With a significant glance back at her home, Usagi's mother indicated that Mamoru should wait within.
Chiba Mamoru had never, in his life, considered any circumstances that would cause him to enter a pink playhouse, which epitomized girlishness. Mamoru entered without a second thought, after the events of the rest of the day he did not even pause when he found the playhouse filled with stuffed unicorns, kitties and similar miscellanea. Using a large, overstuffed penguin as a cushion, Mamoru sat to wait.
A few minutes later, he heard the angry voice of Usagi squeal, "Mom! Why won't you just tell me what you want? I don't want to- Wait!"
Suddenly the door swung open and Usagi was thrust through. Her eyes widened in shock when she discovered who was waiting for her. Between the less than elegant entrance and the surprise, Usagi lost her balance and fell over and, thanks to the tight quarters, landed in Mamoru's lap. With chilling thoughts of the fanatical man inside Usagi's house Mamoru quickly helped her up. "Nice place you got here, Odango-Atama," he said with a smirk.
"I played here as a kid!" Usagi flared and then suddenly, like a candle being spit on, her eyes went dead. The anger washed out of her, as well as all other emotion. Guilt welled up in Mamoru and he knew he would have to get this over with quickly before his mind shut down entirely. Thrusting the slightly squashed roses at the girl he said, "I'm sorry about what I said earlier."
Usagi ignored the flowers and spoke, in a flat, monotone voice, "No. You were right. Motoki will never see me the way I see him."
This was not the way it was supposed to work. Usagi was supposed to immediately forgive him, coo over the flowers, and then get mad about something entirely different and kick him out. Mamoru's brain started to short-circuit. He had no idea what to do. He found himself poking the roses against Usagi's unmoving chest. "Uh... uh..." he stammered, "I mean, nothing's impossible."
A spark flashed in Usagi's eyes. Yes! It was a start! Mamoru attempted to fan the flames, "I mean, you're just not his type, but that could change."
Hope bubbled up within her but she glared at him. "Motoki made you come," she accused.
Frowning, Mamoru admitted, "Yes. He told me to come apologize and fix whatever was wrong."
"To fix what was wrong...?" she asked.
Mamoru nodded, not liking the look on her face. He could almost see the cogs spinning in her brain.
"And you're going to?"
With a delighted squeak, Usagi threw herself at Mamoru and wrapped her arms around him in a mammoth hug. She began spewing thanks so fast he could barely make out her words. "Wait!" he exclaimed, "What did I just agree to?"
Usagi backed up but, Mamoru noticed with a little tingle, her fingers were still draped across the back of his neck. Her eyes were wide and curious, as if what she was about to say was the most logical thing in the world. "You agreed to help me become Motoki's type, of course."
Mamoru blinked. "Uh... oh," he said.
Usagi squealed and threw herself at him again. Just as he was beginning to rather enjoy having her warm little body pressed against him she said, "Mamoru?"