I am reposting my Sailor Moon fanfic Fire at because the old site where I first posted it, A Sailor Moon Romance, has died. I wrote this over eight years ago, and while it will always hold a special place in my heart (the first novel I ever attempted), I sincerely hope that my writing has improved since then. On the other hand, at the time a lot of people wrote to me how much they liked it, and it seemed a shame that those people wouldn't be able to find it online anymore once ASMR died. HOWEVER, please think of this fic along the lines of a historical document. Especially if you found this because you like my Veronica Mars fiction...well, this is a little less sophisticated. On the other hand, it's fun, so what the hell :)
ALSO...you might be interested to know that I have published an actual novel, in actual stores: Racing the Dark by Alaya Dawn Johnson (that's me, of course). If you like this, PLEASE consider buying it or at least telling your librarian to get a copy. A lot of novels get published each year, and it's so easy for them to get lost in the deluge. I'm afraid that's what's happening to my book, so if you like any of my stuff I hope you'll think about it. If you want to know more (and read the first three chapters), you can go to my website. It's my full name, "Alaya Dawn Johnson" without any spaces, dot com.
And without any further ado...
Chapter One: Peaches and Milkshakes
I met him two years before I knew his name.
At the time, my father was a prominent politician, a Virginia senator. He was a good candidate for the presidency, but the election was still three years away. That didn't stop him from acting like the election was next month. Everywhere he went, he was campaigning. I loved my father, but I was always upset that he could never act like a real person. I wished that he could stop being a politician for once, and be my father. That day was no different. On our way home from church--I was never religious, but dad always forced us to go every Sunday for appearance's sake--I begged him to stop at a fruit stand. It was on Wisconsin Avenue, next to the Starbucks that I always went to before school. I wasn't in school now, of course. I was on my much loved summer vacation. If there was one thing I liked about private schools, it was that they always had longer vacations.
The reason I begged him to stop was because of the peaches. During the summer, I'm always on a perpetual quest for good peaches. I couldn't have known that this passion would have led where it did, on that hot July day. I couldn't have known, but I can't deny that I felt something. Like a crash of water in my stomach that told me something momentous was happening. Dad parked the car and I got out. I was wearing one of my favorite outfits: a yellow sundress with a low scoop neck and high lace sandals. I was wearing my mothers sunglasses, and my hair had been done just the day before. I confess that I felt absolutely beautiful as I stepped out of that car. The brusque wind made my two notorious pigtails flap behind me in the wind, but the 'dumplings' held, like I knew they would. I walked slightly in front of my father, pretending that I wasn't related to him, play-acting that I was glamorous and beautiful. I gave up all pretense of sophistication when I saw the peaches.
They were the most incredible specimens that I had ever seen. They were massive, easily larger than my hand, and looked as if they had been plucked fresh from the tree. I let out a delighted shriek and ran to them. I nearly fell over, however, when I saw him. He was the most beautiful person I'd ever seen in my life. He had a dark thatch of unruly hair, that fell disarmingly into his face. He was wearing a pair of work jeans with holes in the knees and a wife-beater. His eyes were what left me defenseless. They were incredibly, remorselessly blue--a blue so dark they nearly seemed purple. They looked so deep, so deceptively calm on the surface, but I knew there was something underneath. His lips quirked in a half smile as he watched my paralysis. It seemed, to my embarrassment, that he knew exactly why I looked the way I did and the fact amused him. Slowly, teasing me, he reached down to pick up a peach. He hadn't looked, so I guess that it was just luck that he picked a perfect one.
"Looks good, huh?" He said with a raised eyebrow that made my heart pound painfully in my ribs.
"Y-yes…" I stammered, looking at him with a glazed expression. "I- I love peaches."
I love peaches, I repeated inside my head incredulously.
My dad by that time had caught up. He walked purposefully next to me, destroying the strange moment between us.
"My daughter here just loves fresh peaches." He said with that fake amiability that set my teeth on edge.
He looked at me with hilarity in his eyes, and I blushed and turned away. Before he could respond, however, a much older man who had been working over by the fruit truck came up behind him.
"Does she, now!" The man exclaimed to my father. "Well, we'll just have to give her some. How many do you want, honey?"
I had felt so old and mature. It seemed like such an insult to be called "honey". But knowing that my dad would be mad at me if I ruined his moment of "fatherhood" and "down home values" I grit my teeth and answered. The other one looked at me with a knowing smile and I flushed again. He was SO fine!
As the man put the peaches into the bag, he talked to my father, who was in full-swing politician mode.
"My grandson here is going to college." He said proudly, beaming up at the gorgeous one. He winced and stared at the ground, and it was my turn to give him a sarcastic look. He stared at me, the irresistible humor back in his eyes. "Tit for tat." He seemed to say, and shrugged his shoulders minutely. I melted.
"…good to see our younger generation getting ahead." My dad was saying. "So, sonny, where are you going to school?"
"Well, sir," He said 'sir' with a slight mocking edge, but I don't think dad noticed. "I'm going to Harvard."
"Yes," His grandfather interrupted again, "and we're all proud of him, too. That's why we're selling this fruit, you see. To help pay for his education."
"Well, then!" My father said. "Give me twenty more peaches. I'm sure Serena here can finish them."
I saw a flash of something in his eyes, then, something deeper than the mockery of before. It was like intense despair tinged with hurt pride and indignation. I shuddered looking at it. Who was he? Why did he feel this way?
I walked slowly back to the car, feeling his blue eyes boring holes through my back. Just as I climbed into the seat, I gave into the temptation and looked back. He smiled and my lips quirked up involuntarily. He gave me a long, suggestive wink, and then went back to work, pretending as though nothing had happened.
Perhaps nothing had, I thought, on the ride back. But I didn't believe it, not really.
Two Years Later:
Uncertainly, I walked through Harvard Yard, looking at the card with my dorm assignment. It had been two years since that strange incident at the fruit stand. If I was hoping, somewhere in the back of my mind, to see him again, I did not allow myself to really consider it. I was being so silly, remembering him as if he were the love of my life. However, he was not on my mind at the moment. What was on my mind was that I was alone, couldn't find my dorm and had a terrible sense of direction. The majority of my heavy luggage had already been delivered to the school, but I was lugging two suitcases full of last minute packing decisions. I sat panting in the middle of the quadrangle, trying again to find my dorm hall. I felt so inept, and too embarrassed to ask somebody. What are you doing here, if you can't find a dorm? After all, and I still felt a sense of wonder to find myself at Harvard, of all places. Me, Serena Johnston. Admittedly the daughter of a famous senator, but all around klutz, lazy bum Serena. Sure, I had worked my butt off in high school, but I still thought of myself that way. I impatiently blew an errant strand of blond hair out of my face and looked again at the card. People around me were giving me strange looks, but I ignored them studiously. I looked up desperately, and then saw it: Peabody Hall. [AN: I don't go to Harvard, so I don't know the places around there very well. Most of the landmarks I mention will be my imagination, so don't bug me! I had been in front of it this entire time, and I hadn't noticed! Shaking my head in disbelief, I grabbed my bags and lugged them inside the door. My room, the card said, was on the top floor. I saw guys and girls moving in, and I felt a jolt of excitement. It was a co-ed dorm! All right, so I had known it before, but it the full impact hadn't hit me until then. I sort of hoped one of guys would notice me, but they were all too busy with their bags to notice one tired-looking girl with a funky-looking hairstyle. With a sigh, I stepped inside the elevator and got out on my floor. My arms rebelled at the thought of walking down a hall with the suitcases, so I was grateful that my room was close to the elevator. I took a deep breath, and walked inside.
Somebody was already there. My roommate Raye, I assumed, although she looked nothing like what I had expected. From her letters, I had anticipated someone rather homely, with a quiet demeanor. Instead, Raye was only what I could describe as a firebrand. Her hair was black, but with so many red highlights it looked burgundy. It hung all the way down her back. She had sharp brown eyes that looked as if they wouldn't tolerate any stupidity. She was busy putting sheets on her bed, and the radio was on.
"Um…hello." I said from the door. Raye hadn't heard me come in over the radio.
She wheeled around, clutching sheets to her head. "Whew!" she said, laughing, when she saw me. "You scared me! You must be Serena." I nodded.
"You look different than I imagined." Raye said. "What are those meatball thingies on your head, anyway?"
I felt the telltale reaction when somebody insulted my hairstyle. I lost my previous feelings of timidity and stared belligerently at Raye.
"What's wrong with my hair?"
"Nothing, you just
look like tonight's dinner."
I saw red. "Well, you look like you're wearing a bad wig that got caught in a clothes dryer!"
Raye looked about to retort, and then took a deep breath. "We'll be sticking our tongues out at each other in another second if we don't stop. All right, let's try again."
"Hello, my name is Raye." She said with forced cordiality, and extended her hand.
"Serena." I said laconically, and with as much dignity as I could muster, coldly shook Raye's hand and stalked over to her bed.
No, not what I had been expecting at all. That was for sure.
Three hours later, we walked together through Cambridge, exuding forced cordiality. Raye was officially a pain in the ass, but one that I would have to get along with, at least for this year. It was funny, because I had liked her so much in the letters that she had written me over the summer. I guessed that there was no knowing someone until you've seen them in person. We were going to this great ice cream store that Raye had told me about. I was experiencing ice cream withdrawal, and desperately need a milkshake fix. My favorite kind were strawberry chocolate milkshakes, made at my favorite ice cream place: Uptown Scoop [AN: that's actually a place on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. I go there after school every chance I can get! I only hoped that this place was as good as Raye said. As it turned out, it was much better.
I had that weird ocean feeling in my stomach again, when I looked at the sign above the shop: Glifford's Old Fashioned Ice Cream.
"Man, I must be hungrier than I thought!" I exclaimed, trying to ignore the recollection of the other time I felt like that.
Raye looked at me with something akin to friendliness.
"Well, I like milkshakes, too, Serena. But I don't think I've ever felt this singular…passion."
I laughed and squealed a little, stepped away from the delicious ambrosia of a chocolate-strawberry milkshake. Raye just looked at me like I was crazy.
Then I walked inside.
For a while I just stared, not fully able to believe that I was genuinely seeing HIM. So I had allowed myself to daydream for weeks, well months really, that I would see him here. I had never really believed it. There were tons of students at Harvard, what were the chances that I would meet one whose name I didn't even know? But the second I saw him behind the counter, serving ice cream to a gaggle of giggling girls, I knew who he was. He wore the lightly mocking smile I remembered so well, but he looked--if anything--better than he had the last time. I think I let out some sound, because Raye looked at me.
"He is hot, isn't he?" She said, appreciatively. I couldn't even respond, I think I must have gone into shock.
"Serena, hello, anybody home?" Raye called, waving her hands in front of my glazed expression.
I shook myself into a more aware state and stared at her.
"Do you want that milkshake or not?" She said in exasperation. I nodded dumbly. Raye grabbed my hand, rolling her eyes expressively, and dragged me to the counter. I was vaguely aware that I was making a fool of myself and that HE was just as aware of my reaction to his appearance this day as he had been two years ago. Some things just don't change, do they?
He smiled at me and all that water in my stomach became a tidal wave. I thought I was going to be sick.
"Do you want something?" He asked in the type of way that implied he knew what I wanted, and ice cream probably wasn't it. I don't know if it was just maturity or a genuine desire for a milkshake, but after he said that, I finally broke out of my stupor. He gave himself too much credit! I thought indignantly. All right, so I definitely had had clandestine dreams of romance with him, but I wanted a milkshake. I loved milkshakes. How dare he imply that all I wanted was an excuse to see him? To tell you the truth, I'm not sure he was implying quite that much, but at the time I got a little worked up about it.
"I certainly do," I said, feeling slightly absurd about the idea of challenging him with a milkshake. "Could you please make me a strawberry-chocolate milkshake with vanilla syrup?" That was always my order at Uptown Scoop, and if he was going to be so self-righteous, he could definitely make me my milkshake. He looked at me with a smile tinged with respect and I felt the familiar feeling of melting into the floor. Milkshakes and…whoever he was, I thought dreamily. Now, THAT was a perfect combination. Raye looked at our exchange with confusion.
"Is something else going on here? Do you know this guy?" She whispered quickly in my ear, completely forgetting that we were supposed to dislike each other.
I shook my head mutely, ogling his perfect derriere which he was obligingly swaying in time to "Do You Love Me". The rest of the shop was small, with a wooden bench in the corner and two small tables. The girls who had bought their ice cream just before we came in were sitting on the bench, watching our exchange with the type of curiosity that made me know I would be the subject of several emails. No one had ever affected me like this before. I had been attracted to other people, but he, whoever he was, seemed to excite the kinds of passions within me that I had only read about. It was scary to feel uncomfortable in a strangely pleasurable way. I had to remind myself to breathe. Too soon he finished, and poured the milkshake into the cup with such a flourish that I knew he had done it just to impress me. He handed it to me with a straw that he ostentatiously opened.
"No one's ever gotten one of these before. I hope you like it." He said, and I was suddenly struck at how absurd it was that I was feuding with the hottest guy I've ever seen in my life over a milkshake, of all things!
"I hope so too." I said with as much dignity as I could muster, and proceeded to take a long sip of the milkshake. It was perfect. It soared to new heights in my mouth and I closed my eyes to savor it as long as possible. Finally I swallowed it, and opened my eyes.
"That is SOOOO good!" I shrieked, forgetting about my merry war. He stared at me for a second, and then lost it, laughing so hard that he had to wipe his eyes. Despite myself I started to laugh too, and the two of us had hysterics while the rest of the people in the store stared at us like we were crazy. Finally he calmed down and said: "I'm glad you like it." I just blushed and told Raye to order already. As I stared at his back, I was embarrassed when he turned around abruptly to catch me. He winked again, in that slow way I remembered from two years ago and finished scooping Raye's peppermint ice cream. I wanted to stay, but Raye was obviously eager to discuss what the hell had just happened, away from HIM. Just as we walked to the door, he called out to me. He didn't use my name, he just said 'hey', but I knew who he was talking to. I turned around.
"Do you still like peaches?" He asked looking expectant. I stared at him, despite myself feeling happier than I ever had in my life. He remembered me! All this time, all those long nights spent daydreaming about him and he remembered me!
"Yes!" I said joyfully. "Even more than before."