Standard disclaimer applies.
What I Really Want
Serena cocked her head to the side as she watched him sipping his coffee at the counter. Darien Shields, jerk extraordinaire, was in an odd mood, and it was starting to worry her. Yesterday when she bumped into him on the way to school he looked so distracted that he merely waved a hand and mumbled something under his breath before continuing on his way. This morning she didn't even get a chance to run into him since he had chosen to walk on the other side of the street.
But it wasn't just that. He had taken to avoiding her as well. Instead of the usual barrage of insults and sneering expression, he had an almost absent look on his face when she had sat right next to him to give Andy an order for her and the girls, said something stupid about his coffee, and all he did was blink, roll his eyes, and continue drinking coffee. What on earth was wrong with him? Now that she was safely surrounded by her girls, she felt it way okay to be freely be worried.
"If you keep staring like that, he's gonna think you have a crush on him." Rei's voice broke through her musings and Serena blushed, looking away.
"I'm not crushing on him! He's just been in a strange mood lately and I'm wondering what the heck is wrong with him. He's no fun anymore." Despite it not being like her to say something like Darien's insults were fun, their quarrels were one of the odd highlights of her day.
"Well, it's not like you can do anything about it. You're womanly powers don't extend to mind reading." Rei flipped a lock of long black hair over her shoulder and hmphed.
"I don't know about that." Mina's face changed and a mischievous smile curved her lips. "Say, Serena… wanna go shopping with me real quick?"
"What? Now? We haven't even gotten our food yet!" Serena pouted, hoping that her whining will put Mina off for a bit. Her friend, however, was making darting motions with her eyes towards the door.
"It'll be real quick. I just forgot about this super cute hair ribbon that I want to grab before the shop closes for today. We'll back before the food even gets cold!" Serena frowned a little, wondering if she should pretend to misunderstand her friend's coded message. "Double chocolate ice cream sundae on me."
Okay, now she knew Mina was serious. Giving an aggravated sigh, Serena stood up and sulkily followed Mina out the door. Giving one last glance over her shoulder at Darien, she was surprised to find him watching her. He raised a brow at her. Shooting him a sour look, she trudged out the door.
"Mina, this better be good. I'm missing out on lunch right now because of you. You know I didn't have any lunch at school today." Pouting, she blinked when they stopped in front of a store only a few windows down from the Crown Arcade.
"That's because you probably ate it during first period." Mina muttered, frowning a bit before she went inside, Serena following.
"I was hungry! A Piece of toast just isn't very filling when you're running down the road." She said, absently now that they were inside and she was able to look at all the cool items hanging in the shop. It mostly had a Goth feel to it, since the windows were painted black and it made it so dark inside, but the items were something Serena wouldn't have minded wearing.
"Can I help you?" A slim, beautiful older woman seemingly appeared out of nowhere, startling Serena enough that she jumped and squeaked a little.
Mina merely smiled. "I hear that you can… help a person in need. Correct?"
The woman's eyes sharpened and she narrowed her eyes a little in contemplation. "What kind of help?"
"The best kind there is…"
Five minutes later Serena was walking out the shop with brand new studs in her ears. They were very pretty, silver and in the shape of a solid star, but Serena wondered how these were going to help her and why she even needed help in the first place. Really, why did Mina drag her out here?
"Don't worry Serena, all I need you to do is go up to Darien and smack him on the head. It has to be the head, okay?" They walked into the arcade to see Darien just starting to get up, an easy smile on his face as he said something to Andy.
"Just do it! Artemis showed me that shop a couple months ago when I was still going solo. That woman is wickedly awesome. She'll help you out with anything you need. Here he is, do it!" Mina hissed as she shoved Serena into Darien.
"Oomph!" Serena rubbed her cheek where it hit his chest, frowning at it in complexity. "What do you do, Satan, where armor underneath there?"
She heard him chuckle. "Something like that. Not much different than you, right?"
"What is that supposed to mean?" Serena frowned up at him, planting her hands on her hips. Was he saying that she was flat chested? That so was not true!
"Well, it feels as if a truckload of bricks runs into me every time you plow over me in the morning." He started to continue on his way out the door, when Serena remembered what Mina had said.
She bopped him upside his head and stuck her tongue out at him. "Not every babe can have a body like mine you know!"
Silly Meatball Head...
Serena frowned some more. He had his back turned, and he didn't stop his trek out the door, but Serena could've sworn that he didn't say that out loud, much less so tenderly...
Serena sighed a little and trudged through the doors to the arcade, a limp piece of paper held in one hand and her school bag in the other. Her mom was seriously going to kill her. She had done all right with her last paper, scraping by with a measly C minus, but this was absolute failure. You wouldn't even be able to call it an F! Maybe a G minus…
Uh-oh, Meatballs is depressed again. Let's see if I can't spark her out of it.
Slowly, Serena raised her head to where Darien was sitting in his usual spot at the counter, an arrogant expression on his face without her having said anything yet.
"What's the matter, Meatball Head? Found out that Santa Clause doesn't exist? The Easter Bunny died?" He smirked a little, but Serena caught a sort of watchfulness in his eyes.
Frowning, Serena walked up next to him and plopped down, glaring into the counter top. "Sure he does. Only now, he lives in the form of two very special people."
What, no flippant reply? There's no way I can say something now.
Serena snorted. "Like you've been good on comebacks lately, anyways."
"Oh no, have you now taken to talking to yourself? Come on, that paper can't be that bad." Darien snatched the test paper from her hand, holding it just out of reach when she tried to snatch it back. His eyebrows rose and he whistled.
"Give that back! It's none of your business how dumb I am." Snatching it back, Serena ignored the sting of embarrassed tears at the back of her eyes and the blush that infused her face.
Darien was silent for a moment, watching her. You know, I could tutor you.
"There's no way…" Wait a minute. His lips hadn't moved. Serena froze in her act of smooshing the paper to the tiniest ball possible and stared at his face.
What is she thinking now? Do I have something on my face?
Slowly, Serena shook her head at his silent question. "I'm going crazy. Leave me alone, Satan. Go torture some other poor soul today."
"But I've barely said anything! You know, I think you're just a mean, mean little girl to attack poor ole me." Darien reached over and tugged on one of her pig tails gently. "Besides, I've been out of it lately and its fun picking on you."
Odd, but Serena felt a small sense of relief at knowing that he felt the same way about their little spats as she did. Maybe now she wouldn't feel so weird for enjoying it. It wasn't as if she was masochist or anything, it was just fun sparring back and forth with him everyday.
Serena settled back into her seat, her intent to leave forgotten. She watched him carefully, wondering if Mina's 'intervention' included mind reading. She almost laughed aloud. Yeah, right. I'm just hallucinating. "Why have you been out of it lately?"
So you noticed, huh? At least somebody did.
What was that supposed to mean? "Believe it or not, Satan, but when our custom routine of hit-and-run is suddenly disrupted for two days, it gets noticed."
He was silent for a while, and she wondered why she suddenly couldn't hear what he was thinking – if, in fact, she was even really listening to his thoughts. She looked over at him, surprised to find him looking at her with an odd expression before he turned to his coffee. She smiled suddenly. Maybe he was being bashful.
He looked so pretty and serious with his face like that. His brows were slanted a little in a small frown as his dark blue eyes stared into his seemingly forgotten cup of coffee. Absently, he brushed his bangs away from his face only to have them fall right back into place. Serena smiled a little wider before swinging completely towards the counter.
"Andy! How about showing a little love over here! I've been sitting here all nice and pretty and you have yet to come over with my strawberry shake!" Serena hollered to Andy, watching as he laughed and started making his way over.
"Sorry Sere, but you and Darien were talking so nicely I didn't want to ruin the moment!" He gave her a wink and a sly glance at Darien that Serena didn't understand. "I'll be right back with that shake, Serena."
Stupid punk. How can he make fun of me like that? One of these days she's going to catch on.
"Catch on to what?" Serena turned to find Darien staring at her with that weird expression on his face again. She blinked. "What?"
Shaking his head, he stood up, placing a few bills on the table. "Nothing. See you in the morning, Meatball head."
Staring at his retreating back, she decided that it was high time she took Mina aside for a little talk. She tapped her chin for a moment before she turned to Andy, beaming up at him when he placed her strawberry shake in front of her. He was cute, no doubt about it, especially when he winked like that at her. Unfortunately for her, she knew that he thought of her as a little kid – or worse, a sister. But there was still Darien to crush over.
It was true that half the time he was a complete jerk, but he made her afternoons interesting. Just like he had said earlier, every time she was depressed over something he always made her so mad that she completely forgot about why she had been depressed in the first place… at least until she got home, anyways.
She hummed a little as she sipped strawberry goodness, glad for the company when Andy stopped in front of her. She cocked her head to the side. "So Andy, does Darien have a girl friend?"
Her friend's dumbstruck expression had her laughing until he got over his shock. "Uh, no, not that I know of."
"Is he crushing on anyone?" Serena watched him shift uncomfortably. Was he?
Andy coughed a little and scratched the back of his head. "Um, sort of. I can't exactly tell you who though, he'd kill me."
Disappointed, she looked down at her strawberry shake, surprised to find it empty already. "Really?" She sighed, wondering what this mystery girl looked like as she pushed the empty cup away. "She's probably really pretty, isn't she?"
"She can be when she's not shoving food down her face."
Serena whipped her head around to see Andy clapping a hand over his mouth. "What are you talking about? Have you actually met her?"
"Sort of…" His eyes started to dart around, looking for an escape.
When he started to shift away, Serena narrowed her eyes and leaned across the counter to grab his shirt collar. "Don't run, coward."
"Okay, okay! Man you're scary." Andy straightened his shirt for a moment and stood uncomfortably in front of her. "I still can't tell you who she is. And why do you care, anyways? I thought you hated Darien."
"Whoever said that? And I want to know everything, so spill." Serena tapped her fingernails against the counter, reveling in this rush of female power. If this is the type of results she can get, she should act like this more often.
"Well, it started recently, you see. He's always liked her, but he never actually liked her before. Get it?" Andy waited for her nod. "And now that he knows how he feels, he's a little awkward. I don't think he even knows that I know, but it's so obvious. Why do you think Rei started backing off? She knows she'd be trying to sail on someone else's star, so to speak."
Serena looked down at her hands, disappointment coursing through her. "Really? She must be pretty amazing to have even Rei be intimidated."
She heard Andy snort out a laugh and looked up at him a little hurt. "It's not funny."
"Right, right, sorry. But hey... instead of asking me, why don't you ask Darien? Here, he left his course book here this morning and probably wonders where he lost it. Let me write down his address for you and you can deliver it to him. I'm sure he'll be glad for the company." Andy leaned forward and pulled out a napkin and a pen. After he jotted down a few lines, he handed it over to Serena. "Good luck!"
Rolling her eyes, Serena grunted as she hefted up the heavy book. "No wonder he's so strong! I would be too if I had to carry around these bricks all day."
Andy smiled and gave a thumbs up before leaving to tend to a customer.
Serena held the text book close to her chest since her arms started hurting when she tried to carry it with one arm at her side. Curious, she started to flip through it, her eyes almost crossing at the complex problems printed. How smart was Satan, anyway? Maybe he had a reason to tease her so much after all…
No! No one had the right to make her feel stupid just because he was smarter than her…
But he had said he'd tutor her if she just asked. Or she thought he said that. Or maybe she just thought he thought that. Or maybe she thought he thought that she'd think to ask him to tutor her. Or…
Serena stopped there and rubbed her head, a dry smile appearing. She could be so silly at times.
She had been humming to herself the entire way to the address Andy had written down, and when she arrived at said address she had to stop and stare a little, her eyes wide and disbelieving as she stared at the twenty story building. What, so not only was Satan smart, but he was rich, too? Is this why he thought it was alright to tease her?
Cautiously, she walked inside; going to the front desk to ask what floor apartment 1566 was on. Gulping, she went to the elevator and pushed in for the fifteenth floor, wondering if his apartment was going to reflect where his money obviously landed him. She could imagine a spacious living room with plush leather couches and matching stainless steel appliances. He'd have rich paintings covering the wall, yet only a tiny little bookcase reserved for friends and family members only.
She was still daydreaming about carpet that one could sink into when she knocked on his door.
Serena blinked at the incredulous face before her, watching his lips move not an inch and wondering if she were crazy for hearing the maddening rush of thoughts he didn't appear to be saying.
What on earth is she doing here? I did the dishes, right? Fixed up the living room? Not that it would matter, of course, but I still shouldn't invite someone in to a dirty home. Why isn't she saying anything? She's giving me the creeps just staring at me like that.
Jolting herself out of her trance, she forced a sunny smile on her face and shoved the text book unceremoniously into his chest, satisfaction gleaning through her as his breath heaved out. Giving him the creeps, huh? How rude! He fell back a step and stared at the text book blankly before staring at her, the air between them blessedly quiet.
Now that was intelligent. What else could the monkey say?
"Uh…" He scratched the back of his head and took a step back. "Would you like to come in?"
"Sure thing, Satan!" Serena sailed passed him, laughing maniacally inside when she heard Darien still mentally scratching his head, his thoughts dumbfounded. What a goober. "Sorry to come by so suddenly. Andy said you forgot your text book and asked me to drop it off for you!"
What the…? This is ANDY'S text book! That sly little…
Serena turned guileless eyes towards him. "It is your text book, isn't it? Why else would he practically throw me out the door to drop it off?"
Because he's a slimy, sly… slimy toad!
She blinked. Is that the best he could come up with? But it wasn't the answer she was hoping for. She didn't want to ask him directly whether he had a girlfriend, but if he just told herindirectly, that was totally fine. It wasn't an invasion of privacy, or anything. In fact, since her reading his mind (however that came about), was so small and insignificant, he would never have to know.
But Mina was getting extra brownie points for this.
She looked expectantly around the apartment, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion at how… sterile, the place was. There was no leather or stainless steel, and no rich paintings on the walls. In fact, there weren't even any photos of family. There was a black couch and a wooden coffee table facing a nice flat screen television with dozens of movies stacked neatly beside it, a book case on the far side of the wall filled with thick books, and a near empty kitchen in the corner. There was a coffee pot, but that was black, not steel. He had a plant stuck in a darkened corner but that couldn't count as decorations since it was dead.
"Um, would you like something to drink, perhaps? I have hot chocolate." He sounded nervous.
Turning to him with a smile, she said, "Of course! What girl would turn down chocolate?"
One on a diet, probably.
Serena's jaw dropped and hurt spread like wild fire. "You think I should go on a diet? That I'm fat? How dare you!"
What the…! I never said that! Where does she come up with this crap?
The blank, dumbfounded, almost scared look on his face normally would've made her laugh, but this was not funny. Not. At. All.
"T-the look on your face said it all! You think I'm fat, don't you?" Serena stomped her way over to the door and bent down to shove her toes back into her shoes.
"Wait! I don't think you're fat at all! If anything, I'm amazed you're as thin as you are considering how much you eat." At the look on her face, he hurriedly continued. "I mean, I think you look great, truly."
Serena merely stared at him with a stony expression, wondering if she should stay. She knew she had a healthy appetite, but she didn't think that anyone would construe that to her starting to get fat. And was she getting fat? Maybe she should check the scale…
Stay. Please stay.
Slowly, she took her toes out of her shoes. She had them on the wrong feet anyways. "I suppose I could stay."
Frowning, Serena wondered at his tone of voice. Er, thoughts. Why? Why did he want her to stay? Usually he acted like he couldn't wait to get out of her presence. Plopping down on the couch, she turned so she could prop her elbow on the back of the couch to watch him moving around the kitchen. "So what's with the decorations?"
"Exactly my point." She said dryly, watching as he put a measuring cup full of water in the microwave.
He leaned against the counter top to glare at her. "You know its rude to point out flaws in a persons own home."
"Just as you know it's rude to point out flaws in me. But you do it anyways, don't you?"
Got me there.
Serena rolled her eyes and leaned her head to the side. "Haven't you ever tried being nice? If you don't like me, you should just say so."
"Would I invite you in here if I didn't like you?" He asked, looking uncomfortable.
"You were just being polite." She paused, watching his reaction. "Probably wondering if you should or if it's clean enough to do so. Like cleaning the dishes or living room…"
Can she read my mind? Is she reading it right now or something? It would explain a few things… Darien stared at her hard for a moment, and Serena had to fight to keep her face serene.
When the microwave beeped and he turned away, Serena let a grin escape. Truly, this was just too much fun. She didn't hear anything else as he concentrated on pouring the hot water over the chocolate powder, stir it, and then walk towards her with each cup in hand.
"Here you go." He muttered, taking a seat beside her. It was either that or stand, and she didn't think he was that rude. "So how'd your mom take you failing your test?"
Before she even had a chance to build up anger, she saw him wince. Smooth move, Ex-lax.
It took her a moment to realize what she said, and she had to laugh at it. Exlax, huh? "Darien, you're so silly."
Wha? She said my name. What's wrong with her now?
Even though he now probably thought she was crazy, she continued to smile at him. "So, do you have a girlfriend?"
He choked on a sip of chocolate and stared at her. "What'd you just say?"
She cocked her head to the side and considered him for a moment. "Well? Do you? I'm just curious."
"No," He said slowly. "No girlfriend."
"Have a crush on someone?"
Damnit! Did Andrew say something? He looked as if he swallowed a bug.
Now we're getting somewhere. Serena smiled slowly. "So you do? What is she like? Is she pretty? Does she make you laugh? It's important that she makes you laugh. What does she look like?"
"Why are you so interested?" he asked caustically, carefully setting down his hot chocolate.
Serena gleefully drank hers. But his question made her pause. Why was she interested so much? Why had she felt such disappointment when Andy made it obvious that Darien really likes a girl? Serena's amusement at making Darien so uncomfortable faded for a moment as she considered. She loved their verbal sparring, and her day just didn't seem wholly complete if she didn't see or squabble with the infamous devil.
Did she… like him?
She peaked her eyes up at Darien's and knew it to be true. "Well…" she started, then gulped down the rest of the chocolate before setting her cup down and continuing. "We don't really know each other very well, do we? I just wanted a chance to see the real Darien Shields, not just the one that's one part nice and two parts Satan."
Could it be?
Could what be? He sounded pretty hopeful. Serena smiled a little and continued with her inquisition. "So where are all the family pictures? Do you have a photo album somewhere?"
His hopeful expression dimmed somewhat. It would help to have a family in order to get the pictures.
That stopped Serena, and she tried not to let her surprise show. But still, if what he said was true that he didn't have a family, it was either because they weren't in good terms or… he was an orphan. Serena wasn't going to harass him over something so personal. "That was too personal, wasn't it? I'm sorry."
Darien shook his head, smiling. She looks so cute when her face is like that. "That's alright, you couldn't have known."
Cute? What was her face like? She wanted to keep her face as it was before but feared she'd end up looking strange. So she settled for curious instead.
"What is your family like? Other than your mother who locks you outside the house when you fail exams." Darien seemed curious enough, and perhaps he was seeing as how he obviously lacked any sort of family influence in his life.
"Mom's not always a tyrant. She cares, really, but is really harsh on me when I come home with another failed test. She just gets so disappointed that it almost seems she doesn't want to look at me…" Serena trailed off, surprised at herself. Now that was too personal for her to share. Why did she tell him that?
Darien looked sympathetic. Maybe… "You know, Meatball Head, I could tutor you. I can behave myself when I want to."
"Really? I wasn't sure you even liked me. In fact, I must be dreaming right now, because there is no way I'm in Darien Shields apartment, a.k.a Satan, and he's even being nice to me. Do you have a fever? Or am I really dreaming?" she reached her hand over to touch her fingertips to his forehead, jerking back too suddenly when fire seemed to race through her fingers.
He must have felt it too, because his eyes seemed a little darker than before. He coughed a little before saying, "So what about you? Any men your life?"
If there is, I'll kill them all.
Serena almost giggled at that before she remembered that he didn't know his thoughts were being heard. She almost hoped for something impossible, but held it back just in time. There was no way someone as good looking and obviously within means was interested in boring old Serena. "I wish."
"Not even a crush?" he asked, his voice casual.
"Well…" Serena peeked at him from underneath her lashes. "There is someone."
His face didn't change at all, and not one thought was heard, but for some reason Serena thought he was disappointed. It gave her enough to hope. "But he's so dense, he'd never notice that I have a crush on him."
"Really?" he asked dryly. "With how you moon after Andy, I'm sure that's impossible." He blinked, and his face cleared. "Wait, it is Andy, isn't it?"
Serena snorted. "Please, Andy's cute, but he's like an older brother. The man I'm interested in is way hotter."
"Really?" he sounded amused, which was not what Serena wanted to hear in his voice. "And how's that?"
"Well, he's strong. I swear, whenever I run into him it's like running into a wall." She watched, waiting to see if he'd get it. His face seemed frozen, and he wasn't really thinking anything out loud, so she couldn't gauge his reaction. "I guess he could be funny, but don't really hear it from him. In fact, half the time he's a really big jerk."
When he didn't say anything or think anything, she started to get uncomfortable. She laughed suddenly and checked her watch. "My mom's probably really worried. It was nice chatting with you, Satan! I'll see you later."
She escaped as soon as she could, frantically pushing the down button at the elevator through her blurry vision. Darien really was a jerk. She entered quickly and pushed in for the ground floor, then pressing the 'close door' button. Just as the doors closed shut, she heard him call her name.
Dejectedly, Serena walked inside her house, completely ignoring her usual greeting to her parents. Who cared about the stupid test? She was just totally, completely embarrassed. How was she ever going to run into him? Now that she ruined it, she positive it just wouldn't be the same. Maybe she should take a different route and find some other guy to run into. Some other cuterguy. If that was even possible.
As she plopped head first on her bed, she heard the front door bell ring but ignored it. Her dad yelled something, and then opened up the door. Then slammed it right back shut.
What the…? Why was she in trouble? She didn't even show them her scores yet. She heard pounding, and then her bedroom door was unceremoniously slammed open. She rolled over to see her dad practically frothing at the mouth. Frowning, she sat up. This wasn't about her scores, was it? They were bad, but not that bad. He's never reacted like this before.
"What on earth are you doing consorting with boys?" he growled, his stance similar to that of an angry bull.
Serena blinked at him, uncomprehending. "Uh… what?"
"Why is a boy coming to our house asking for you? You shouldn't even be talking to the likes of them!" he practically yelled.
Still uncomprehending, Serena could only get out, "Uh…"
Suddenly her mother could be heard laughing downstairs. "Of course, Darien! You sit right here, I'll go get her."
Serena froze, simply staring back at her dad while he stared back at her, still angry. "What is he doing here?"
"How should I know? You're the one he asked for. He's not your boyfriend, is he?" he growled. Serena wondered if he was going to get a sore throat with all that growling.
Ilene Tsukino appeared then, putting a restraining hand on her husband. "Come on, Ken dear. Serena would like some privacy with her friend."
"Go on, now dear." She said, now addressing Serena. "It took some guts for him to come to come here; the least you can do is go see him before Sammy gets home."
Slowly, Serena descended the steps, stopping at the base of them to watch Darien pace back and forth nervously.
What am I doing here? I'm crazy. I must be crazy. This is so crazy.
He stopped so abruptly she saw him teeter a bit before he was able to steadily face her. "Serena! I uh, wanted to apologize for my rude behavior earlier at my apartment."
She heard someone squeak behind her, and mentally rolled her eyes. Trust her parents to eavesdrop. It was probably her mother restraining her dad she could find out the whole story. "It's no problem."
"Um, and I just wanted to, um continue our conversation."
He looked so nervous she almost wanted to make it easier on him, but restrained herself. He hurt her feelings when he practically rejected her, and she wasn't going to make his apology easy. "You came all this way to continue our conversation? How sweet of you."
"I have a crush too." He blurted out.
It's you. And you better not have been joking back there, or I'll kill you!
Not very romantic and very violent, but it was enough to bring tears to Serena's eyes. "Really? I'm sure she feels the same."
"You're sure?" he asked, perking up. He looked so relieved as he took the first few steps towards her. "Or are you positive? I don't want to go out on a limb only to be rejected, you know. But you're a girl. What do you think?"
But Serena couldn't answer. She was already in his arms crying silently against his chest. "I think she likes you, too."
He tenderly stroked her hair. "I'm glad. I would've hated to have been rejected."
Laughing, Serena looked up at him. "Whatever. Is that tutoring offer still open?"
His answer was in the kiss he gently laid on her lips.
Despite her father squawking in the background, Serena closed her eyes and let happiness flood through her. In the back of her mind, she vaguely reminded herself to take off her earrings. She no longer needed them to tell her what Darien really wanted.
He already had it.