A/N: Yes, we've come to the final chapter. I can't believe this has been two years in the making and I am sad it's over, but as previously mentioned, there will indeed be a sequel called "Bait and Switch" and I hope to have the first chapter out in a week or two. In the meantime I am going to devote myself to finishing up "Moriari" because there are several chapters to go for that one. In the meantime I hope you enjoyed this story, hope you enjoy "Moriari" and thanks for all the wonderful reviews. It's been a blast.
A/n 2: I know I promised someone a lemon, but considering what our heroine just went through, I don't think it would be appropriate. Those themes will be in the sequel, so sorry about that.
Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon
"What has gotten into her?" asked Ken, his fists hitting the top of his black car. "You see, he's done this to her. She has never spoken to me like that before!"
"I think that's the point dear," said Irene dryly. She had been in the underground parking lot for at least twenty minutes listening to her husband vent about their daughter's behavior.
"So you agree with her then?"
"I don't agree with the way she handled it, no, but after what's happened to her, do you expect her to be calm and rational about this? Whether or not you approve of Darien, you have to admit that he does love her, Ken."
"He's too old for her."
Irene smirked, letting her hand brush against her husband's warm cheek. "If I'm not mistaken, I can recall my mother and father saying the same thing about you."
Ken glared at her. "Completely different situation," he said, crossing his hands over his chest in a defiant manner. Serena definitely got her stubborn nature from her father.
"Irene, you can't be seriously condoning this? Things were different back then, it was such a long time ago."
Her lips puckered. "It wasn't that long ago, Ken Tsukino." Her hands fell to her hips.
"That's not what I meant," he said, raising his arms in a fashion that mimicked surrender. "All I'm saying is that times were different when we were young. Everyone was getting married at our age. Serena is too young to be running off with some hotshot kid and getting married and getting herself into trouble."
"Is that what you think, that Darien is some 'hot shot' kid that's going to corrupt our daughter?"
"We don't know anything about him."
"And whose fault is that?"
He glared at her. "Don't patronize me, Irene."
"Maybe if you got to know him you would realize that Darien is a very intelligent, mature and capable young man. Did you know he is starting medical school in the fall? And that he graduated top of his class from Azabu Technical University?"
Ken sputtered and Irene distinctly heard him mutter a harsh 'no.' "Don't you remember how much we struggled when we got married so young?"
"What makes you think they're getting married Ken? They've been together for less than a month."
Her husband scoffed before running his hands over his face. "Have you seen the way he looks at her?" he asked bitterly. "That's the way I used to look at you, Irene, and we got married a year later."
She smiled as his comment and immediately wrapped her hands around her husband's neck. "And would that be so bad if they did get married? They're not us Ken. Darien has a college degree, Serena is starting in the fall, and I'm sure you've noticed that the boy's not poor. He lives in a high rise penthouse in the Azabu district and Serena said that that red little sports car is not the only car he owns."
"Wherein lies another question, where the hell did he get all that money?"
Irene blanched before letting her arms fall to her sides. That was a good question. She was pretty sure that Darien Chiba didn't have a job, but he definitely wasn't in need of funds.
"Maybe he's a drug dealer," said Ken rubbing his hands together. It seemed as though he wanted something to be wrong with Darien. "Have you ever thought of that Irene? Maybe he's in the mafia, maybe… Irene?" Ken Tsukino sighed as he watched his wife walk away from him, her heels clicking against the cold concrete as she made her way back toward the automatic doors of the hospital's basement floor. He sighed; maybe this was one battle he wouldn't be able to win.
She smiled gently and he could feel her lips crease against his cheek. Serena had decided to make it her business to kiss every little visible bruise and cut she could see that was littered across Darien's otherwise perfect body. His other lacerations would have to be kissed in the privacy of his home, sometime later.
He felt himself shudder when her lips moved down his cheek to his jugular, her hands brushing against the small, purple bruise that marred the soft flesh of his face. Her hands were already moving to his neck and although there were no noticeable marks, she couldn't help but kiss him there too. She grinned with satisfaction when he groaned and wrapped his hands around her waist. He tried not to dig his fingers into her too hard, not wanting to inflict any pain on her currently fragile person. But he was succumbing quickly to her advances and found himself getting rather excited in this bleak and quiet room on the fourth floor of Juban General Hospital. Knowing that his gown left nothing to be desired, he slowly uncoiled himself from her; this was neither the time nor place for that.
He laid a kiss on the top of her head before releasing her from his grip and letting his hands fall onto his pelvis in an attempt to try and cover the result of her sudden display of physical love. She reached out for him, but he quickly pushed himself further away from her. "You'd better stop that."
Her grin spoke volumes. "What if I don't want to?"
"We don't really have a choice, this is a public place, which means if we keep carrying on, we could end up in jail for lewd and lascivious behavior." She pouted. "Besides your friends keep peeking in here, I think you guys need to talk." Serena knew exactly what he meant when he said she needed to talk to her friends, he meant she needed to specifically talk to Raye. She was sort of putting this off for a while; despite her ordeal, she and Raye still weren't on speaking terms and she hadn't exactly made up with her friends since the news broke of her and Darien's romantic entanglement.
"Can you get them for me please?" she asked, squinting. She really didn't want to have this conversation but knew that it was either now or never and that at least after it was done, she could breathe a sigh of relief, no matter how poorly the conversation went.
"I'll come back, later, I promise," he said, getting up slowly and planting a soft kiss on her forehead before once again approaching the door and beckoning people inside. All four ladies crowded into the room quickly. Darien winked at her before exiting and walking back to his own bed.
The silence was awkward for a moment and she decided that perhaps it was her place to make the first move, since in fact, it was her fault that this whole mess with Raye happened in the first place. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak, all four girls made a strange squealing sound and rushed to her side, enveloping her into the most enjoyably painful hug she had experienced in quite some time. In their excitement they all started talking to her so fast she had trouble keeping up with what every single girl was saying and yet despite the confusion, she wouldn't have it any other way.
Suddenly, after everyone had relayed her version of tonight's events to Serena, they waited patiently as she described her escape from her captor's hold and her midnight trek into the forest near the shack. She hadn't expected so many "ooh's" and "aah's" and realized that if this hadn't been something that had happened to her, it would have made a very exciting movie, or at least a somewhat enjoyable short story. Once her tale was over, they once again fell into a palpable silence as Raye began fidgeting in her chair. Maybe it was time to finally confront what had happened between them.
"Hey guys, do you mind if I talk to Raye, alone?" Serena asked, scratching the back of her head.
Mina, Lita and Ami gave both girls a knowing look before agreeing and exiting the room quietly. Serena and Raye sat silently for a moment, the buzzing and beeping of various hospital machines and the quiet chatter of the passersby the only audible sound in the room. Serena cleared her throat sharply and opened her mouth to speak before being immediately cut off by Raye's stronger, louder voice.
"This won't be easy for me," she muttered, looking down at the palms of her hands that were resting idly in her lap. "I mean you and Darien."
"I-I know, I'm not expecting you to-"
"I sort of never thought things would turn out this way. I know…I knew he never felt anything for me, but for him to fall in love with you, was…I didn't really know how to handle it and ended up handling it poorly." She paused before looking pointedly up at Serena. "I am really sorry for slapping you and saying the things that I said. I was angry and hurt and really jealous of you and it just, it all came out wrong."
"It's okay, Raye, I-"
"But it won't be easy for me to see you guys together. Because although I know that Darien is 100 percent devoted to you, I can't help but still want him. I mean, tonight was the scariest, most frustrating night of my life. Here one of my best friends is kidnapped and all I could think about was how determined Darien was to find you and how I wished he cared about me like that."
"Anybody would feel like that Raye-"
"And I know I shouldn't have and it was really, just stupid of me to feel like that about him. I mean, he's yours now and I would never do anything to come between you two. And I just wanted to let you know that and that it's going to be hard for me to just watch you two together, you know, but I really want us to start over and try to get past this because we've been friends forever, and there are plenty of other fish in the sea."
"Thanks, Raye, I'd like that too. And I'm glad-"
"Again, I'm just really sorry and glad that you're okay," said Raye, getting up abruptly and swallowing her blonde friend up in a tight hug.
"I'm glad we had this talk, Serena, hope you feel better," she said cheerfully before exiting the room.
Serena's face soured. "Yeah, me too." Just like Raye to not let her get a word in edge wise. Things were starting to finally get back to normal.
Now it was her turn to watch over him. She placed her hand on his forehead and felt him stir under her touch. He had promised to come back and find her after her and her friends had spoken, but it was at that time that the doctor had decided to examine them both and afterward come to the conclusion that Serena was free to go and that Darien should stay for one more day to properly treat his extensive injuries. It was after this that he decided to lay down and fall into a restful sleep.
She sat there and watched him, her hands resting in the palms of her hands, a dreamy expression on her face as she surveyed the gentle rise and fall of his chest and silently reveled in the serene look etched into his features. She heard heavy footsteps near the door and the clinking of high heels before three gentle taps knocked on the door and her mother peeked in. It was almost two in the afternoon and visiting hours would soon be over. As she wasn't a patient anymore, she could no longer stay and watch him sleep and instead opted to rise quietly and place a small kiss on the bridge up his nose. Slowly a small smile formed on his lips and gradually his blue pupils peeked through his half lidded eyes. He blinked groggily for a second before reaching out and entwining his fingers with hers.
"Off so soon?" he asked, his voice rough with sleep.
"Yeah, the nurses are rushing us off, probably so they can get their hooks into you while I'm gone," she said half joking.
"My heart belongs to you," he said honestly.
"I know that, you just make sure they know that."
He smirked. "Will do."
"I'll be back around six to see you again."
"You should get some rest."
"I can rest when you're fully healed and your holding me. Until then, I'm going to be just as concerned for as you as you were for me." She leaned over and kissed him softly, her blonde locks falling onto his slightly exposed chest. She leaned toward his ear before whispering, "Thanks for saving my life. I won't ever forget that. I love you."
She parted from him gradually as he pulled her hand toward his mouth and kissed the slightly bruised skin softly. "I love you, too." She let her fingers brush against his before they parted. She glanced at her mother who walked further into the room, said goodbye to Darien and kissed his cheek. Her father remained a looming force in the doorway, but did not object to either Serena's or Irene's display towards the young man. Perhaps that was enough progress for now.
He heard the click of the door and saw their shadows retreat down the hall as the darkness of exhaustion claimed him once again, the outline of Serena's face visible even beneath his eyelids.
The car ride home was silent and somber to say the least. Both her mother and father seemed at odds regarding how to handle the situation that had arisen between Darien and Serena. Her father's vehement dislike for him seemed to have grown since their last encounter, no doubt because Irene fully supported the union of her daughter and the dark haired male. Surely another argument would come, and another after that, and Serena in all of her stubbornness in regards to not submitting to the will of her caring yet tyrannical father, would be ready and prepared to defend Darien to anyone who didn't approve of him, no matter what the future held. She would be eighteen in five days after all, and her decisions would soon be her own and despite the tension that undoubtedly would come with sharing the same roof as her father, she would soon be in school in September, and away from his behavior. She and Darien would pursue their relationship freely, her father would finally accept them, things would work out with Raye and they would live happily ever after. Even to her own ears, that scenario sounded too perfect and she knew that nothing in her life would ever be that easy. She supposed she should enjoy the quiet while she could, for this little interlude between serenity and calamity seemed to be the invariable calm before the storm and she would savor it.
While she could.
Her eyes were watching the slow movements of the dials on the wooden antique clock that sat on the nearby end table beside the comfortable couch that she and her counterpart were sitting on. The common bystander would incorrectly assume that the young man and woman, who were staring at the clock so intently, were waiting for some inevitable doom to come their way, whereas in reality, they were waiting for the restraints of age to shatter and for the young blonde to finally come of age. When the clock inevitably did strike midnight on July 30, the blonde shrieked with joy and threw her body into the man beside her, swallowing him up in an enrapturing almost magical kiss. When they parted, both of them were nothing but smiles.
"How does it feel to finally be eighteen?" He asked, looking into the bright blue eyes shining down upon him, her face jovial yet calm.
She looked contemplative before answering. "Miraculously, not very different than it felt from being seventeen."
Darien chuckled. "Well you can vote, now."
"Yes, very important."
"And you're legally responsible for your actions, so if you get arrested, you'll be held liable for your crimes and tried as an adult."
"Yes, another very important aspect of growing up. I can also ignore my psycho father from now on."
"Right, can't forget that as he's been quite the hindrance to our relationship, banning you from being with me and such."
"I agree, forcing me to sneak out to see you on the eve of my own birthday."
"There's something else you can do, you know, as of being eighteen?"
"Rob a bank?"
"What am I missing, Mr. Chiba?"
Darien smirked. "You could get married."
Serena's mouth twitched, and she smiled. Lately, well for the last five days at least, Darien had been dropping these little comments about marrying her. At first she thought he was joking, but yesterday he had off handedly told her that she should be prepared for him to pop the question, as it would probably happen sometime soon. She was currently on the verge of believing him, since earlier this week he had asked her what kind of ring she would want, to which she eagerly explained what her dream engagement ring would look like; he mentally took notes. And despite the fact that they had been together for a little over a month, which she had carefully reminded him, he assured her that they had technically been together for four years, as when they were in the same room, all of their attention was on each other and that he had been in fact waiting for her his entire life.
"Don't tease me Darien."
"Who says I'm teasing, I am completely serious. I'm just waiting for the right time is all."
She made a face indicating that she didn't believe him and he just laughed. In fact Darien was already in possession of her dream engagement ring, which he had purchased the day after he was released from the hospital from Tiffany's. He was, in fact, just waiting for the appropriate moment to ask her after she started college. If he proposed now, her maniac father would probably lock her in her bedroom and he'd have to do something physical to remove Ken from the picture. He didn't want things to become that drastic.
"Be patient and trust me," he said, kissing her again. "It's coming. Besides you have other things to focus on right now."
"Like school." She grimaced.
"No, like your birthday present," he said, pulling a large box from under the seat cushion of the couch and handing it to Serena. "Happy birthday, baby."
Serena squealed and quickly tore through the rather lovely silver wrapping paper that was holding the contents of the box captive.
Inside were two velvet containers stacked on top of each other. Holding the first box up to her face, she opened it wide enough so that she could peek in and when she saw what it was, squealed so loudly that she fell over to the side of the couch and hugged the box to her chest.
"You haven't even fully seen it yet," he said, laughing hard at her reaction.
Quickly she sat up, opened the box fully and shrieked again. Inside was a beautiful locket, the platinum chain glistening perfectly under the moonlight that was pouring into the living room of Darien's penthouse. The face of the heart shaped locket had a rather large diamond of the same shape in its center. Delicately she pried open the interior to find the words, "Eternally yours, Darien," inscribed in delicate cursive letters against the backside of the metal. She immediately threw her arms around his neck and showered his face with kisses.
"I'm so happy!" she yelled and he began to laugh even harder. He reached for the necklace and laced it around her neck. Once it was clasped she looked down and admired it for a while before thanking him continuously and admiring the jewelry. He handed her the other box and once again she opened it to find a stunning diamond tennis bracelet that was so full of precious stones that the pattern of the bracelet left spots of illumination across her face. She was sort of in awe that he got her two wonderful, albeit probably ridiculously expensive gifts. Her mouth was agape.
She touched the necklace and then the bracelet as he put in on her wrist. "I've never owned anything so nice."
"Get used to it," he said honestly. He never quite had anyone to spend his money on and reveled in the opportunity of showering his beloved with well deserved gifts. Just as Serena was about to put the box down, she noticed something shimmering beneath the placement which held the bracelet in its rightful position.
"What's that?" she asked, pulling the platform from the box and watching as a single metallic key dropped onto Darien's lap. She held it up and looked at it for a moment before blushing furiously and smiling thankfully at her boyfriend: it was the key to Darien's home and one of the most thoughtful and kind gestures anyone had ever presented to her. The jewelry was nice, but this small formation of metal meant the most to her.
"You're the best boyfriend ever, you know."
She buried her head into the crook of his neck as he kissed her temple. "We should get to bed."
"We have plans in the morning, it is still your birthday after all," he said grabbing her hand and leading her to his bedroom.
Quickly she changed into her pajamas and crawled beneath the covers and watched as Darien mimicked her actions. Gently he pulled her into him and breathed deeply as she settled her head against his bare chest. She closed her eyes and inhaled his scent, drinking in the magnificent aroma that was distinctively him. And as sleep captured both of them, they fell into a content slumber, thoughts of their future together running through their minds.
Here laid the beginnings of a wonderful life.