Summary: Serena Tsukino is a self-sufficient, romantically-cynical 24-year-old whose art studio comes to the attention of playboy millionaire Darien Chiba. He decides to teach her about business; little does Serena know she's getting more than she bargained for.
Well, this idea came to me, and I just had to try it. You know how it is, you get a new idea and can't help but right it out, even though you should be working on all your other stories and so many other things. 'Oops'. I just wanted to try something fun again. Is that a crime? Anyways, I think you'll like this one. I attempted to be witty…let's see how well it went. Just a little side note: I don't think all men are evil.
Yes, and this is totally, utterly A/U. I played with the Japanese and Dubbed names, and sorta mixed them up, b/c I REALLY wanted the protagonist's name to be Serena, not Bunny. It was just that Usagi seemed associated with a cheerful, not-too-smart young girl, whereas my heroine is supposed to be intelligent and cynical. Mamoru is pretty much the same, though definitely more outgoing, but I call him Darien just to keep things consistent.
As for my other stories, keep on waiting! Chapters will be out soon! Only Time Will Tell will be next on my list of stories that need updating. Currently in writers block. Wow…I have way too many stories to update.
As for now, enjoy, and review!
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Naoko, and quotes are from Gone with the Wind.
The cool monotones of darkness had long since faded away. The setting was oddly idyllic; of the vibrant splashes of yellow from the rising yolk of a sun and the too-cheerful overtones of the birds. The view of the lake was spectacular, sparkling and squirming around the bank. Had it been any other day I would have swept up my canvas and captured the landscape perpetually. Now, however, it hardly interested me.
Sighing, though hardly wistful, I turned the page of my antiquated 1939 Gone with the Wind paperback.
"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm…"
Ah, the quintessential heroine: a mélange of sophistication and audacity, a temptress with coy. Everything my mother had taught me not to be. I burrowed my nose further in the page, laughing with scorn as I read the familiar words.
"…In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white…"
I put the book down and stretched the full expanse of my legs over the deserted park bench. A zephyr blew across my face and I paused a moment to pull my hair back into tight elastic. I hardly cared that the bun I had made was disconcertingly sloppy, or that it sagged against my shoulder, for as far as I could tell, the only ones in the park were me and Scarlett O'Hara. Hardly anyone ever came down here at this time of day; it was too early and lonely. That was just what I liked about it.
I pulled a hoodie over my black halter dress, smoothing down the array of delicate ruffles that graced the front. There was something whimsical about pulling oneself into flattering clothing and studying a romance novel; even if the top half was covered by an ugly gray sweater, or if the purpose of the reading was to point out the endless flaws that contrasted romance novels with reality.
Twirling the strings around a slender finger, I turned back to the book in question, although undoubtedly there was no need. I had long since memorized the first few pages.
"Do you mind if I sit down?" a voice crooned lightly.
I shook my head mutely at the unnoticed form, tucking my long legs behind me. The man (for I had deduced this much) took a seat beside me. Still immersed in the yellowed pages of the little book, I barely made out the pert cough of my companion. Even if I had, I probably would have ignored it. I was anticipating the arrival of the sexy Rhett Butler, and nothing would have taken my mind off that except, perhaps, a man of the same caliber. Then again, they didn't exist…
"…The dress set off to perfection the seventeen-inch waist, the smallest in three counties…"
Barely able to suppress the snort that rose from the fine corners of my mouth, I continued.
"But for all the modesty of her spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the quietness of small white hands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, and lusty with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Her manners had-"
"You look like you need a lover."
I looked up, startled, and equally peeved that anyone would dare enter my romance-bashing reverie. "Who're you, my connoisseur?" I snapped. A bit my lip when my eyes met his.
He couldn't have been older than twenty-eight. His arms were folded casually behind his head as he leaned languidly on the bench, peering at me from the corner of his blue eyes. Sharp features merged together to form possibly the most sensual face I'd ever seen; a pointed chin and firm jaw line, an aristocratic nose and a pair of sultry eyes masked cobalt as they gazed at me. Above them perched a set of long eyebrows, not thick, but thick enough to deem masculine. Dark, tousled bangs swept over his eyes, particularly over the right, the beginning of a thick shroud of ebony hair. It was evident that he was sweating in his athletic shorts and gray pullover, eerily similar to my sweatshirt in size and shape, but judging from his relaxed demeanor he was hardly tired. There was no denying he was exceedingly handsome, possibly the most handsome man I'd seen in a long time.
His reply bolted me out of my thoughts. "Maybe." He turned to me this time, his eyes sharpening.
I clucked my tongue. "What makes you think I need a lover?"
He looked into the distance in front of him, at nothing in particular, his hands still folded behind his back. It was annoying me out of my wits- just another sign of how all living men were cocky and self-absorbed. "You're wearing an evening gown at five in the morning and reading Gone with the Wind. Must I explain further?"
Ahh, he'd mistaken me for a romantic, exactly what I wasn't. I supposed I had the appearance of one. "That's where you're wrong, buddy. I'm a feminist. These types of books," I held it up for emphasis, pointing at the ludicrous panting of Rhett embracing Scarlett, "are the bane of my existence. I read them because I find it amusing to point out how unreal all of the circumstances are."
"Oh." His expression lightened and he looked amused, a sly smile slipping across his lips. "Your attire?" Damn him for thinking this was funny.
I fingered it slowly. "Just because I think men are debauching pigs by nature doesn't mean I don't like to flatter myself. The hoodie keeps me warm." I looked back at him, silently taking in the way his mouth had firmed and his eyes flickered with sarcasm. He really was a gorgeous specimen of a man. The unbeknownst nagging voice of one of my two best friends popped into the back of my mind, trying to get me to take the hoodie off and reveal some of my womanly attributes (for lack of a more decent phrase).
Perhaps I should take this time to give this interesting friend of mine a brief, un-flattering bio.
Mina Aino was the materialistic icon, and just so happened to be my roommate in the apartment we shared. Some claimed we looked alike, but that was as far as the similarity went. She was my perfect foil; and it was a miracle that we even got along. Being a successful model, her pastimes were shopping for clothes and boys. In vain she had several times tried to impart her seduction skills on me, wherefore I had given her the cold shoulder. I did like her clothes, though. I borrowed them on occasion; like the low-dipped, fairly revealing black dress I now donned. She had enough to sustain a stampede of gum-popping teenagers.
She also had a tendency of popping up in my mind at the most peculiar moments.
He's gorgeous! This is your time to shine, my little apprentice! Just remember everything I've taught you. Get the hoodie off! Let down your hair! Bat your eyelashes! Act coy! (voice is muffled as I begin to snore)
I actually yawned at the notion that I should try to act seductive, but froze when I realized that I was actually sweating under the padding of the sweater. With a wayward sigh (and Mina's triumphant hoot inside my head) I tugged the hoodie off and rearranged my hair, then turned back to the book I was berating.
He was staring. I knew because of the way my skin was reddening, and the Goosebumps that filed along the bare skin of my back. I slatted my eyes and turned to the man, whose eyes seemed to have locked at the intermittence of my tanned skin. "What?" I asked, waving my arms in front of his eyes, but failing to interrupt his gaze. He grinned a little, but didn't take his eyes off my form.
"You have a sexy little body there." I folded my arms across my chest, knowing that I was turning crimson was the second. I was a feminist, but not immune. "You're just a cynical little tease, that's what you are." His eyes twinkled, turning up from my form and transferring to my face, which I was sure was billowing steam by now.
"I'm not a cynic; I'm a realist!" I screeched, shaking a wary fist at him. He laughed. That wasn't a good idea; I'd inherited some of Rei's fiery temper (that was another one of my undecipherable best friends- we'll get to her unflattering bio later). Horns might as well have apparated atop my blonde head as I moved in closer, nose to nose with him. He looked entirely amused and calm, whereas here I was, aroused and ticked-off by this man I hardly knew, and it was making me crazy.
"Are you sure you're not a misandrist?"
"No. I don't hate men. I just hate their attention."
"Why, not worth your time?"
"Exactly. What would I get out of it, anyways?"
He chuckled, arching down to meet my face which had straightened to its full height, but still dangled embarrassingly below his towering figure. "You're probably right when you say we're all evil. But that by no means entitles that we aren't capable of overcoming it. We can have good intentions, you know."
"Mhm," I muttered sarcastically. He heard me and quirked one of those long eyebrows of his, his eyes darkening.
"I was under the impression that all woman wanted to find that 'special' someone they'll spend the rest of their life with. Don't you think you'll fall in love someday?"
"No. I'm not capable of loving," I said matter-of-factly. It was true. I wasn't. It wasn't that I was self-absorbed; it was that I wasn't trusting. I didn't even try anymore. There had been times when I had been caught up in those euphoric romantic dreams at that vulnerable age of prematurity, and half-thrown myself at the opposite sex, but those times were over. My life now revolved around my petite, yet admirably cozy art studio on the corner of Juuban. I hadn't dated in three years.
He nodded victoriously, sifting a calloused hand through his back locks. Had I not been who I was, I would have thought it dreamy. "See. You are a cynic. Everyone has the capacity of falling in love."
I rolled my eyes. "Not if they don't want to. Perhaps there really does exist some bizarre emotion called love; but it's too often confused with lust, which is entirely different. I don't want to get entangled in all that."
"So you intend to grow up to be an old maid, eh?"
"Mmrp." I didn't reply. The man smiled and scooted over on the bench. I pulled my hoodie back on with a little grumble.
"I see." He paused, glancing at his wristwatch. He got up, smoothed himself down as if he had been wearing something other than his sweaty attire, and reached out his hand. "It was nice meeting you. Perhaps I'll have the pleasure again." I grasped his hand, a little shocked and not sure whether he was being sarcastic or not, but shook it anyways. He nodded politely at me, looked about ready to take off, and then turned again, a slight smile tugging at his lips. "You know, I still think you need a lover. I'm available if you ever need one." With that smart remark, and a killer smile, he took off in a fast sprint down the park pathway. I watched his muscles rippling under his shirt and the way his hair plastered to his eyes as the wind swept across his face.
The door behind me swung shut with a resounding 'thud' as I staggered into my apartment, menially dragging behind a sack of half-finished canvases and sketches. Mina stretched backwards over the arm rest of our couch, her luxurious mane of blonde hair just barely reaching the floor beneath her. She giggled and waved, brushing the remote sideways in a vain attempt to flip the channels to another one of those useless, chick flick shows…the ones were shallow women engaged in catfights and got pregnant on a regular basis.
Mina toppled off the coach and shakily got off the ground. "Oooh, tipsy," she murmured, before skipping up to greet me. "How was your day, sweetie?"
"Fine." I dumped the bag on the ground, watching the contents roll out of it. "Almost finished that abstract piece I was working on." I haphazardly perused through the pile, raising a monitor-sized painting of what seemed to be random splashes of ashen color and a dotted line running diagonally down it. Perfect. I smiled cheekily and held it out for her to examine.
She glanced at it sourly, then shrugged and deposited it over her shoulder. "I meant, did anything interesting happen?"
Superficial members of the sex tended not to understand the subtle brilliancy of an outwardly clumsy work of art. "Well let's see…" My mind tried to block out the moaning sounds coming from the couple locking lips on an unknown soup opera. "I met a guy at the park today. Then I went down to the studio and taught some classes. Not for long though; see, my goal is to have a gallery up by next month-"
Her sapphire eyes widened. "Hold up. You met a guy?"
I plopped down on the coach next to her. "Yep."
"Well what happened?" she chirped jovially, "Spill, girl! I need all the juicy details!" Shaking my head incredulously, I wondered if Mina would ever get over high school.
"Uh…we talked about love…he stared at my cleavage…end of story." I frowned and snatched the remote out of her hands, not sure if that had sounded exactly the way I had meant it too. I flipped through the channels lazily, pausing at The Price is Right. "Anyways, there was this really adorable little girl named Annette in class today and she has the most precious yorkie…"
"God, sometimes I wonder whether you lean towards the other side or something." Mina tugged at my sleeve in annoyance. "Tell me more about this guy!"
"Ugh." I rolled my eyes. "Is that all you think about? Guys?"
"Yes. I model, remember? It's my job to act sexy." She winked at me and wiggled her hips. I laughed and leaned my head back on the coach, resting my eyes for a moment. I'd had a long day, and the enthusiastic screeches of the game show participants were hardly helping.
"FREEZE!" Her hands shot up parallel to the wall and her eyes widened. She looked like a mime. I almost laughed at the ludicrous gesture.
"I'm not moving."
"Whatever." She bent down, and slowly, painfully slowly, began to finger my face.
"WHAT IN THE NAME OF-"
"Hush," she said gently. I frowned a little, wondering what she was up to, but decided to leave her alone. Her hands reached for my hair and she let it down carefully, watching the curls tumble over my shoulders. She cocked her head slightly to the side, her full mouth opening slightly. "You know, you could be a model. I could talk to my agent for you, if you'd like."
I groaned and brushed her hands aside, tying up my hair again haphazardly. "Don't you care that you're objectifying the female body?"
"Ummm…no." She laughed airily. "Come on Sere! You have the perfect figure, beautiful hair, and gorgeous eyes…you even have the 'weirdness factor'!" I barely suppressed a snort; that last part was inevitably true. My legs took up five-sixths of my diminutive frame; my hair was golden (yes, golden) and my orbs were the most peculiar shade of pale blue. "Pretty please?" she pouted adorably, the way only temptresses can, "with a cherry on top? We could be amazing together! Think about it! The dynamic duo!" Mina pumped her arms and did a little happy dance.
"Mina," I whined, pointing to my bulging bag I had dropped at the entrance, "My passion is ART! Da Vinci, Clay, Van Eyck, Picasso, Dali…come on, stick with me here!"
Her blank stare was answer enough. "Uhhhhhhhhhh…anyways…what was this guy like?" Her eyes brightened as she looked me over thoroughly. I swear I saw drool dribble down her chin.
I thought it over for a second. "Idiot."
"You think everyone's an idiot who believes in love." I nodded vigorously; she was catching on. "I suppose you think I'm an idiot too." I nodded harder. "Was this idiot cute?"
Of course he was. He was gorgeous. If I could only draw him I'd have a bloody masterpiece…( cough ) I mean… "Sort of." When I didn't elaborate, she grabbed my hand and pinched it painfully. I scowled at her, but continued anyway. "I suppose you could consider him the ideal heartthrob. Tall, handsome, mysterious-"
"I'm liking the sound of this." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively. "Go on. I think you mentioned something about cleavage earlier."
"Oh, that." I pretended to feign nonchalance, and casually flipped through a People magazine that had been lying dormant on the coffee table. Big mistake. I was instantly bombarded with images of half-naked men and women swimming in a sea of romance. "Well you know how men are." Flip. Ooh, Matt Damon. ( smiles sheepishly ) Hey, I was allowed to think men were attractive! "Barbarians." Flip. Another scantily clad model. "Lacking." Flip. 'How to trap your crush in ten days'. I ripped the page out with a little growl. "Self." Flip. Natural Makeovers. "Restrain." Flip. 'Summer Hot List'. I laughed at the pages of finely sculpted men that appeared before me, wondering how long the pathetic losers wasted at the gym every day.
"Serena, you're no fun. All you do is sit around and mope about how men are stupid. If you never try, you'll never know." Mina reprimanded.
I slapped her lightly, still laughing at the loser list. "Yeah, and you're a disgrace to womankind."
"Hardly." Mina sniffed and turned away in mock hurt, though I knew she loved the fact that men followed her around like lost puppies.
The door chose that moment to swing open again. Enter Rei. Rei Hino, the black-haired beauty, was the neutralist of our triplet, and possibly the most sensible. She had the tendency to ramble and sustained a surprisingly fiery temper, but that was exactly what we loved about her. She held grudges easily and lengthily, so we girls had learned to always proceed with caution. Like Mina, she loved the fact that men followed her around, but liked to stay loyal to a single man. Her current boyfriend, Jadeite, was one of the advisors for Chiba Enterprises, one of those small-business consuming monopolies that specialized in a combination of Insurance, Real Estate, and all other industries that were profitable. Personally, I despised the company and all who worked for it, though I found Jadeite charming enough.
"Hello, my pretty friends," she chirped, swinging her black leather Gucci back across her shoulder and slipping off her three-inch high-heeled boots (that girl had skill) to join us on the coach. "How were your days?" I waved at the pale blonde man that had strolled in behind her. He smiled warmly back at me, his hands shoved in his pockets. I naturally withheld my hatred from men who were already taken. After all, in their eyes I was a woman and not a piece of meat up for devouring.
I wasn't exactly sure how he held on to the moody Rei, but he seemed to be doing a darn good job, for she was very well enamored with him. Jadeite leaned down to kiss her sweetly on the lips, then muttered a hasty goodbye and swept out the door.
"Well Serena here met a guy at the park who stared at her cleavage," Mina piped officiously, watching the man go with her eyes raised. Beautiful men always seemed to catch her attention.
I nodded and shrugged. "I also finished that abstract piece I've been working on all week-"
Violet eyes slit menacingly above mine. "Shhh! Did I ask about your art studio! Give it a break, man-hater." Rei's hair leaned dangerously close to my own. Someday it was going to give me whiplash.
"I am not a man-hater!"
She chose to ignore that comment. "Well, what happened?"
"Nothing. I called him a pig, and then he offered to be my lover."
Rei grinned devilishly while Mina squealed in delight. "I knew it!" my blonde companion gushed victoriously, eyes twinkling with delight, "some of me rubbed off on you!"
"Were you hypnotized or something?" Rei asked quite seriously, "The last guy that tried to hit on you ended up with a paint brush stuck up his ass."
I harrumphed and stuck out my tongue. "Meanie. Last guy that tried to hit on me was a subway pothead. Served him right. God I still remember when he tried to kiss my hand…" the three of us shuddered simultaneously. "Anyways, he left before I could do anything drastic."
"Good for him," Rei teased. "Sere, you've got to learn not to despise men's attention so much. They're all just big babies. Big, adorable babies. Take Jed for example. I can sing him a lullaby and he falls straight asleep."
"Rei, you're a singer. That's your profession. You've been trained."
"Besides, I don't want babies."
She pouted and gave me her best puppy-dog face, quite an effort under the mounds of foundation and mascara that layered her skin. Mina giggled, snatching the People magazine out of my grasp. "Awww? Purty Pweese?"
I rolled my eyes and strolled to the refrigerator for a tub of ChocoMint icecream. I grasped a spoon and swung the freezer open. "Rei, I taught you that," I pointed out snidely.
She scowled and crossed her arms over her tight crimson turtleneck. Instantly a sly smile crept across her face and she carefully picked up the high-heels she had deposited at our entrance. Standing on her tip-toes she dangled them high over my head as I watched on behind my scoop of chocolaty goodness.
I licked at my spoon innocently and peered up at her with wide, puzzled blue eyes. "Whatcha doin'?"
She grinned down at me, her eyes watering with mischief, basking in the fact that she stood nearly a foot taller than me. "I've decided that I'm not going to let you borrow my shoes, or my clothes for that matter, ever again."
My face fell. The only shoes I owned were a pair of converse sneakers from college and the old fashioned Mary Janes my mom had bought me for my birthday. On the other hand, Rei boasted a whole collection of head-turning, designer loafers...the thought alone caused me to salivate. I stared at my bare pink feet despairingly. "But Rei-"
"That is, unless you're willing to negotiate…" her voice trailed off suggestively, her grin extending maliciously with each word.
I groaned and raised my palms mockingly towards the heavens. "Lord, forgive me, I'm about to strike a bargain with the devil!" I brought them down and scowled. "What's it gonna be?"
Her voice dripped with lecherousness. "You ask out any one guy of my choice." Up until that moment, Mina had been otherwise preoccupied flipping through her stock of manga, but at those words her well-groomed head shot up like cold fire.
"You mean our choice?" she added, raising an eyebrow and stalking over to where me and Rei were hovering in front of the refrigerator.
"Of course, darling."
I gulped down the remainder of my cold snack, chiding with brain freeze and the possibility of utter humiliation. But those shoes…my eyes twitched. "Alright, fine, I'll do it." I barred my teeth. "But good god, Rei, I really think you should open a shoe store."
Rei's cackles of evil hardly drowned out the sound of my fallacious sobs into my bowl of ice cream.
Thanks again to my beta EternalDragon101! She's awesome! Check out her stories…
…anyways want to know a little secret? I know nil about art history. And I only ever skimmed through Gone With the Wind last year. This is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I think it could work out.
Please Review and tell me what you think! This is a bit different from what I normally do b/c it's so A/U. We'll get more into Serena's hatred of men's attentions and more into that mysterious guy at the park later…though I think It's quite obvious who he is.
Oh and by the way, Makoto and Ami will be introduced later, as are Nephrite, Malachite and Zoicite. There will be scout pairings as well.
Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.