Failure is Not an Option

Something I whipped up in a few hours yesterday - Mamoru is rather out of character and slightly hyperactive here, but I suppose that's the Mamo-chan you might get when he's extremely stressed and suffering from sleep deprivation. I also hope no one gets offended by the comments on Australia and New Zealand - I live in Down Under myself. XD

For George.


"How do you think you went?"

As soon as the casual question left Motoki's lips and he saw the familiar spark light in Mamoru's eyes, the blonde regretted having spoken.

"Actually, forget I asked—"

"No." Mamoru's short, low response was enough to send Motoki packing his bag and run far far away. "You. Have. No. Idea."

Motoki swallowed, and thought over possible hiding locations. "Really, let's not talk about this—"

"Really." Mamoru glanced at his friend, his sapphire eyes narrowed and near black. "You. Have. NO. Idea."

"Okay then..." Motoki moved to place an arm around Mamoru, but upon seeing the smoke come out of Mamoru's nostrils, decided it was better that he kept his distance.

"That. Was. Awful."

Motoki nodded, hoping he was looking sympathetic rather than scared out of his wits, and knew that once Mamoru was emotional enough to throw his basic grammar out of the window, absolutely nothing could be done. Except perhaps escape to Australia...

"AWFUL. It was... awful. Atrociously, hideously, painfully, unimaginably, shockingly, extortionately awful."

"I'm sure it wasn't that bad..."

"What are you talking about, Motoki?!" Mamoru now had his full attention on Motoki, who had just become the recipient of Mamoru's wrath. "I failed. FAILED. FAILED!!!"

"You don't really know that..."

"OH YES I DO!!! You have absolutely no idea whatsoever, how much I failed. It was awful, I tell you. AWFUL! I can't believe how stupid I was... I didn't pay much attention to Interference, but the entire thing had to be about it! I had to guess whether it was constructive or destructive interference, Motoki! Guess! In PHYSICS! You don't make guesses in Physics! You draw upon your knowledge of the topic and apply them to the question – but I had to guess! So for question 9, I had to guess that the lambda was 540 nanometres..."

Motoki sighed internally as Mamoru ranted on, finding himself tuning out. Although he appreciated Mamoru's enthusiasm toward his studies to the point of paranoia and frequent anxiety attacks, Motoki was more than relieved to have finished his final exam for the semester. Of course, as long as Mamoru was unconvinced that he had done fine in the exam – and most probably topped the class as well – Motoki would not be allowed to relax. Australia was sounding better by the minute...

"... so I ended up with t equalling 100 nanometres. Did you get that too? Please tell me you got that..."

"Sorry, but I can't really remember..."

"Can't remember?! How can you not remember?! What if you got something completely different, which means I was completely off the mark?!"

"If that were the case, then you were probably the one with the right answer."

Mamoru glared at him. "You don't know that. Besides, I failed that."

Motoki did sigh this time. "Fail by university standard, or Mamoru standard?"

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, though Mamoru was perfectly aware of what Motoki implied.

"You could not possibly have gotten less than 50 for that exam, no matter how terribly you thought you went. However, anything less than 100 constitutes as a 'fail' for you, so..."

"So you don't believe me? Is that it?"

"Mamoru, you're being childish—"

"Me, childish?!"

"—because we both know that you did very well in that exam—"

"Oh, you shouldn't be saying that now...!"

"—and that you did a lot better than me."

"Do you want to bet on that?"

Motoki blinked. "What?"

"We bet on our results. If I fail more than you, then it means I win."

"Well, that means I've already won..."

"But you can't be so sure!" Mamoru protested, eager to have his opinion about his own inferiority accepted by the wider society. "So you're not betting because you know you'd lose?"

"Quite the contrary..." Motoki muttered. Mamoru was definitely considerably more delirious today than after all his other exams. Of course, that said absolutely nothing about Mamoru's performance, and Motoki would be willing to bet his life that his friend had done better than him. "Fine. How much?"

Mamoru knit his brows in thought. "A month's worth of free caffeine."

Motoki rolled his eyes. "You and your addiction..."

"You're on for it?"

"Definitely."

"Excellent. Thanks for the free coffee!"

"Hey, don't act as if you've already won, because I can assure you that it's actually the opposite..."

Mamoru smiled, his mood miraculously lifted by the thought of his prize. "I'm already looking forward to the results!"

"Wait, aren't you going to wait for me to come up with my terms before you go prancing around the streets in elation?"

"Say anything you want, but you know it won't eventuate."

As they walked toward the arcade, Mamoru with an uncharacteristic grin on his face, a brilliant idea struck Motoki. So brilliant, in fact, that Motoki knew he would have to ensure his ticket to Australia was booked for the day after their results came out. Or perhaps it would be safer to choose a slightly further location, in the case where Mamoru decides to pursue him to his death, which was highly probable. Someplace small and boring and populated with sheep... New Zealand!

That decided him.

"If I win," Motoki said, "then you'll have to kiss Usagi."


A few weeks later...


Usagi skipped into the arcade, glad her detention had finally finished. She slowed down when she remembered the reason behind her punishment, but shook it off and regained her pace. She was starving!

"Hi girls!" She sat herself at their usual booth, where all four of her friends were already seated and munching away on all sorts of goodies. Usagi stole a fry from Makoto's plate, immediately reaching for another one after popping it into her mouth. "How's it going?"

"Good good," Rei replied. "And what about you? Just got out of detention?"

"Rei-chan is so smart!" Usagi squealed, delighted. "I didn't even have to say anything this time!"

She looked around for Motoki, and waved enthusiastically when she saw him (though he seemed to be in an intimate conversation with Mamoru-baka). Usagi frowned when Motoki only glanced in her direction and gave her a small nod, before returning to whatever he and Mamoru-baka were discussing.

"What's up with them two?" Usagi asked, her demeanour immediately lightening when a waitress came her way. "An iced chocolate and fries please!"

"Maybe they're conspiring to take over the world!" Minako's suggestion sounded more like a triumphant declaration. "I wonder if I can join them..."

"Mamoru-san has been acting rather peculiar today," Ami said, her eyes never leaving her book. "He seems to be in a state of heightened agitation, and has periodically glanced this way in series of unsuccessful attempts at subtlety."

Usagi frowned, feeling her chest tighten at her friend's words, though she did not know why. "And why would you know all that about Mamoru-baka?"

Ami shrugged. "He's an interesting specimen to observe."

Before Usagi could figure out what that meant, she saw the other girls exchange amused looks, and felt a gentle tap on her shoulder.

"Yes?" She turned around excitedly, impressed by how fast her order had taken to arrive. Her smile diminished when she saw who stood behind her. "What is it, Mamoru-baka?"

He looked nervously at her friends before shooting what seemed like a death glare at Motoki, and turned his gaze to his feet. "There's something that..."

"What?" Usagi snapped. She wanted her food, not to be teased by Mamoru-baka by some new method that had been deviously concocted and was obviously masked by this hesitation!

Mamoru's eyes met hers, and she saw in them the fire that was always evident when they exchanged insults. "Just come with me."

He grabbed her arm, and Usagi was barely out of her seat before Mamoru was pulling her in the direction of the employee's only lounge. They passed Motoki, who stood in a way that indicated he was some sort of bystander, and Usagi could only just catch what Mamoru said to his friend: "This is going to be private."

Mamoru dragged Usagi into the room, and closed the door with a bang.

When her heart had finally caught up with her, Usagi shrugged off Mamoru's hand. He was more than happy to release his hold on her, taking a jumpy step back as if his mind had just registered what he was doing.

"What's this about?" Usagi demanded, her temper as unforgiving as her growling stomach. Mamoru seemed to be at a loss for words, and Usagi shook her head, reaching for the handle.

"No!" Mamoru slapped a palm against the door. He instantly regretted his action, and ran a hand through his hair, looking sheepishly at the ground. "Sorry... I don't think I'm in a right state of mind at the moment..."

"Okay... but I really hope this has a point – and it'd better be a really good one – because I haven't had anything to eat since lunch, and I want food."

"Oh, really now..." Mamoru glanced at his watch, which read 5:00. "What kept you at school so long? Club activities?"

"No, I was in detention..." Usagi sighed, expecting an insult to be flung her way. "I pretty much failed an exam, you see..."

Mamoru flinched at her words. He had an idea that their definitions of 'failure' differed substantially...

"I hope you'll do better next time then."

Usagi looked at the man suspiciously. "What, you're not going to make fun of me?" His eyes remained on the floor. "I think you really aren't in your right mind..."

She hesitantly closed the distance between them, feeling the same surprise he showed. She subconsciously thought of how tall he was – even slouched, her eyes only met his chest – and lifted a hand, placing it on his forehead.

"Nope," she whispered, struggling to sound normal, "you don't have a fever."

She raised her head slightly, and met his gaze, her legs weakening at the intensity and depth of those dark blue eyes. A voice in her head screamed at her to remove her hand pronto and maintain a safe distance from Mamoru, but she stomped on those nagging words. Almost as if of its own accord, her hand moved slowly, her fingertips lightly brushing against his temple before they descended to his cheek where it stopped, her thumb absently caressing the ridge of his jawline.

Usagi felt a warm hand on her waist, and as Mamoru gently pulled her toward him, she felt something else in her, something beautiful and indescribable, tugging her in the same direction, like a stretched spring aching to return to its original, coiled state. She could feel his light breaths escaping in short gasps in time with her own, and overwhelmed by these new sensations, Usagi closed her eyes softly.

And she felt his lips on hers. Soft, warm lips that lingered ever-so-faintly against her own, moving ever-so-slightly against her own, before they pressed ever-so-gently against her own. He withdrew from the kiss, and their breaths mingled for a mere moment before Usagi lifted her head to meet his lips again.

Mamoru quickly brushed off his initial surprise, and welcomed her hesitant touch. He tilted his head to deepen the kiss, and was pleasantly rewarded when Usagi responded in kind. His arms wrapped around her, and he thought he felt one of Usagi's hands in his hair. Aware that the situation might soon go out of hand if they – he softened at the thought of the collective pronoun – continued in such a fashion, Mamoru slowly eased the kiss, his lips dipping to meet hers lightly a few times before he broke the contact.

He pulled her to him, enjoying the way her small body felt against his, smiling at how her hands were running through his hair.

"Should I be kissing you?" he whispered into her ear, nuzzling her neck. He felt Usagi stiffen slightly at his words, and started placing butterfly kisses on her neck, effectively soothing her. He repeated the question again, this time his words breathless and separated by kisses. "Should. I. Be. Kissing. You?"

"Would you stop even if I said no?" Her voice was soft and light, and she could feel Mamoru smile against her neck.

"No."

"Then here's my answer." Usagi gently lifted his head off her shoulder, looking into those beautiful eyes that were now lit by a different kind of fire, and pressed her lips against his again.


"Are you sure we should be leaving Usagi in there with Mamoru?" Makoto asked Motoki, concerned for her friend.

"Not really..."

"What do you mean by that?!"

Motoki gulped, well aware of the brunette's strength. "But what makes you think that we should not be leaving Usagi in there with Mamoru?"

"I don't think Usagi-chan is too keen to be fighting with Mamoru-san today," Ami said. "She may be good at hiding it, but I have a strong suspicion that the reason behind her detention today was another failed exam, and Mamoru-san isn't overly helpful when her self-esteem is concerned."

"Well, not all failures are bad," Motoki muttered, to himself more than anyone else, "especially when a particular person is convinced that it's imminent..."

"I didn't get that." Minako sighed. "Did anyone else get that?"

Three heads shook, and Motoki slapped his head. "Never mind what I just said!"

"I have a feeling you know what's going on," Rei commented, her arms folded before her. "Would you like to tell us by your own free will, or should we extract it from you?"

"I think I'd rather do neither..."

Rei raised an eyebrow. "That, I'm afraid, is not an option."

"Look, let's just give them a few more minutes, okay?" Motoki checked his watch: 5:25. Mamoru was either having difficulty keeping his word or keeping his hands off Usagi. "Five minutes can't hurt."

Makoto opened her mouth to make a protest (and perhaps a threat as well, but fortunately for Motoki, he never received the privilege of finding out), when the door opened. And they walked out.

Hand in hand.