This was it. Usagi suddenly felt like she was traveling the short footpath to her doom. Her hands clenched against the pounding heart within her, her eyes squeezed shut. Though her heart and her mind had never truly been at odds with each other before, she was feeling the opposition now. Taking a moment to calm her breathing, she sighed and leaned her head back against the brick of the building beside her. Across the way, perhaps only 15 feet from her stood another structure, the one that she would have to enter at some point. Today would be preferable.

It had been on her mind for months. The aching pain, the loneliness…. She could no longer house those growing emotions safely, it was tearing her apart. Everything seemed to be effected by the sorrow, the longing. Like a torture session from the medieval era, it had to stop or she would die. Her hands were shaking uncontrollably, her lungs seemed to be refusing to work. A few tears slipped unnoticed down the side of her face, both in fear and hope. She didn't bother to reach for them. Her mind was focused completely on other things.

The vision of those eyes filled her every thought. There was simply no escaping him, even in her sleep. With hours of video games to numb her mind, still his face would appear on the screen, causing the poor girl's heart to nearly fail as her character went into death throws. It seemed her mind would never stop working, never stop fantasizing no matter how hard she fought, no matter how much logic she tried to use on it.

Chiba Mamoru was the most gorgeous man alive. Fact.

Chiba Mamoru was the most intelligent man alive. Fact.

Tsukino Usagi was the most useless person alive. Fact.

Mamoru would never love Usagi. Fact.

But it seemed Usagi had not evaded him so easily. Within moments of meeting the upperclassman her heart had simply gone stark raving mad. No one else would ever do. It was Mamoru or no one, which had caused the poor girl endless sleepless nights. It was no shock to her that she was late, that she slept through class, that her mind was so muddled she couldn't think of anything else. It was no shock that she was so completely useless.

Even if the lithe little blond had been good at school before meeting him, he would have doomed her to failure. Of course, not all the blame could be placed on thoughts of him. Usagi was not naturally gifted toward anything, it seemed. She could not do math, nor English, nor art, nor any other kind of craft or talent. She had held that she was not smart or talented or pretty. She was just Usagi.

And she was walking toward her doom.

Her feet slid lifelessly across the cement. It was hopeless. Mamoru…why did it have to be him? No doubt, his very own fan club would be sitting in the booth nearest to him, they would hear everything Usagi would have to say, and they would mock and ridicule her for her foolishness. If Mamoru would have none of them, what made her think he would want her? What was it about her that he could possibly find special or interesting?

Nothing.

She froze in front of the arcade doors, hair blown back as they slid open to greet her. The chime rang happily as she slid her way through the opening and onto one of the seats at the front counter. It would seem he wasn't here yet, his usual post was occupied by a young man with striking red hair. He was whispering softly to the short brunette beside him in hushed tones, no doubt sweet nothings between lovers. A dull ache began to grow below her heart at the thought. She would declare her undying love to a man who was incapable of loving her. Yet she knew, it was him or nothing.

"Oi! Usagi-chan! You look kinda down today." Motoki's joyful greeting was cut short as she forced a smile onto her face. It wouldn't do to let anyone know of her intentions before he arrived.

"Eiie, onii-san. Demo, can I have something warm to drink?" Motoki cast suspicious eyes toward the swelteringly hot day before nodding and turning away. Baka! Stupid blond! Usagi felt like kicking herself for asking for something so suspicious today. It's just that she felt so…cold. She felt as if her heart would stop working. Shifting uneasily in her seat, both sad blue eyes took in the surroundings of the arcade, lovingly piecing together what would probably be her last look at the place for a long time. When Mamoru's cold eyes fixed on her and that laughing, mocking smile would grace his mouth, she would never come here again.

It was as her eyes wandered the expanse of the room that the doors opened, and the same chime graced her ears. Yet she always knew when he walked in, that it wasn't yet another gaggle of teenage boys. Something about the room seemed different, enhanced by his presence no doubt. Her heart jumped painfully in her chest, expending energy it shouldn't. She gulped; suddenly feeling like this was wrong, that she shouldn't be here. His beautiful, haunting laughter filled the space between them, laced with venom and ice. Again her heart fluttered painfully in her chest, causing her to get a little dizzy in the wake of it.

"Making another shake for the Odango? Pretty soon here she won't even get to come to the arcade. It would take too long to roll her fat body from detention before the place closes." Another lance of pain slammed into her chest, causing the young girl to waver only slightly in her seat. Her tormentor apparently did not notice, and she was not surprised. Why would he ever watch her close enough to see any of the pain she carried? Why would he care?

"Actually this is for someone else, Mamoru. At least try to be nice today." Motoki warned softly, setting the concoction down before the red-head and his date. Usagi was mortified to note that every seat was taken by the counter, except for the one to her right. She gulped again, heart pounding against her wishes as the object of her fantasies settled himself on that stool, followed closely by the gaggle of fan girls who somehow managed to 'talk' the group in the first booth to find another place. The schoolgirl's mouth had gone dry. She couldn't seem to think, couldn't force herself to function with him so close.

"Oh, no doubt the dimwit's already downed her shake and is waiting for another one. Ne, Odango-baka? Are you ignoring me?" He paused, but she could not force words to come from her dry throat. She could not force her emotions to steady long enough for a response. "Oh no! It's finally happened, Motoki-kun! Her teachers and parents have yelled so much she's actually gone deaf! It's ok, Odango, being defective isn't so bad. Matte! You already know that since you're such a screw up."

It seemed even her tears could not come anymore. Though the things he said hurt her deeply, she only felt more and more numb, more and more pointless. A steaming cup of cocoa was set before her, but she didn't even reach for it. The steam on top was so fascinating. It drifted from the darkness, as if released from it's fate to disappear into nothing.

"Where are your friends Odango Atema?! Have they finally realized how pathetic you are and have gone to find better entertainment? Have they…" His words were cut off as Usagi stood, eyes trained on the floor at his feet. She smoothed her dress carefully and settled herself on her knees before him, leaning forward to press her forehead against the ground at his feet. Her position was meek and submissive, her beautiful blond hair mingled with the dirt there to turn a darker color, no longer as ethereal and shining as it had been. The arcade hushed the moment the small girl had knelt, and now shivered in anticipation of what would happen. Her small voice wafted from the dirt, as if she were nothing more than a ghost.

"I concede."

Mamoru blinked. Then he blinked again.

"Come again?" He murmured, hardly believing his eyes.

"I concede." She murmured again, this time a pinch louder. "I surrender, I give up."

Mamoru blinked one more time, drawing in a surprised breath. He didn't dare move, no longer sure what her reaction would be. Why wasn't she screaming and yelling like normal? Why wasn't she telling him exactly what she thought? Why wasn't she being Usagi?!

"You are everything they all said you were, Chiba-sama. You are everything." She lifted herself from the floor, eyes still downcast and cheeks streaked with tears and dirt. "And I am everything you ever said I was. I am nothing. Sayonara." She exited the arcade as quietly as she'd come, leaving murmurs of confusion and doubt swirling behind her.

Walking down the sidewalk was perhaps the largest chore the young girl had ever come to. Before, as she had been walking into the arcade, there had been some small glimmer of hope, a tiny little speck in her world of self doubt and loathing. Now there was nothing. The emptiness gnawed at her, each step was more pain-filled than the last. In the end, she simply slipped into the alley beside her. There, crumpled against the unyielding brick, Usagi lay sobbing, as if her life would be given forfeit. She felt as though it already had.