Darien's heart sang. Sang? It simply soared.

The usually shy and reticent college student walked atop a ledge,
glasses perched jauntily on his pointed nose. As if six-year-old Darien
had taken over his older counterpart's favorite green jacket, an eagerly
cocky daredevil seemingly reborn. Amidst the buzzing streetlamps of early
October, in moonlight's glow, Darien walked atop a stone wall, sparkling.
Mon dieu, he thought suddenly, and then laughed out loud at
himself. This was strange! It must be the pull of the moon shining so
brazenly in the sky... there was no other explanation for the sudden
appearance of this imp controlling him. The things he had done tonight!
They were not things he DID. They were not things he'd ever THINK of
doing. But somehow he was sure they'd actually happened. And why on
earth would it all leave him so giddy? Inexplicably, the words to an old
showtune found their way into his head, and he followed their flow to the
horizon.

*

Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well...

Will wonders never cease?

*

The Rainbow Crystal. He'd lost another. Zoycite's cruel laugh
rang in his ears as he leapt off into the moonlight. And even worse, the
sweet voice of Sailor Moon, the voice he'd had to refuse when she asked
for the one thing he couldn't give her. "The Rainbow Crystal you have...
could you give that to me?" The golden locket glittered yes at him, but
despite his melting eyes, he hid behind the cold facade of the mask. How
had she gotten that locket anyway? And why did he feel it belonged to
him, though he couldn't remember ever having such a gaudy trinket?
Vaguely, he remembered it being pressed into his hand by someone's warm
fingers, and then his hand closing over hers...
Hers?
Darien frowned as he stood in the shadows near the construction
site. He'd long since transformed back, and eavesdropped as the Sailors
finished their work and dispersed. But still he leaned against the fence,
one foot flat against it, arms crossed, lost in thought. Why did he think
the fingers had to be female ones? Perhaps the woman in his dream had
given it to him? But it seemed so right to give it back to Sailor Moon
(back? she wasn't the owner, was she?) Question mark over question mark,
folding like endless braids of long hair in his mind, long hair like the
girl in his dreams, the girl of his dreams, but...
"Yoo-hoo!"
The shriek was shrill enough to rouse him. "Yow," he said,
putting a hand to his head. "Couldn't you have just said hello, Meatball
Head?"
"I did," Serena pouted, coming into the light. "Three times.
What planet were YOU on?" Had it been anyone else, Darien would have
caught his breath at the sight of the tiny figure, curves accented and
hair bleached in moonlight. But he knew her too well to even consider
it... or to consider that she was the only one he could imagine in such an
unearthly glow. "In any case," she went on, "just because YOU'RE a space
cadet, you don't have to call ME Meatball Head. You know I hate that."
"You're one to talk about space cadets," he said pointedly. "Miss
Thirty Percent."
"Ooo!" she growled. "You'd HAVE to bring that up, wouldn't you?
Mister I Date Junior High Girls Because I Can't Get A Date At College!"
Darien froze, irked. Serena wore a triumphant smile. That is,
until he countered with "Of course I do. It's my job, Miss Junior High
School Girl That Even Darien Wouldn't Date."


*

I didn't like her.
Didn't like her? I couldn't stand her!
Couldn't stand her? I wouldn't have her!
I never knew her!

*

"For your information," Serena grumbled, "I am already interested
in someone. TWO guys, actually. And neither of them are you."
The clouds shifted over the moon, and the streetlight flickered,
making shadows fall over the pair. It would be a long while before Serena
realized she had settled against the fence right beside him, as if that
space was hers by right. For now, she was merely staring at the ground,
making annoyed harrumphs of various sorts as the verbal game of tag
continued.
"Mm, hm," Darien mused, chin tilted up toward the northern sky.
"And why do I get the feeling they're not interested back?"
Without looking down, he knew exactly what her pout looked like:
indignant fists and rueful, glittering eyes. "They are! They're both
really really nice to me. One of them always helps me with the Sailor V
Game, and the other..."
"Um," Darien cleared his throat uncomfortably, "Andrew has a g..."
"...there to save me whenever I get in trouble!" an oblivious
Serena finished.
Darien shrugged and fell silent.

It was several quiet moments before Serena looked up
uncomfortably. "Umm..." she said.
"Umm what?"
She pondered his face cautiously. The look in his eyes was
slightly glazed, and what was stranger, his deep blue eyes were fixed on
her. It made her shudder to know that he was looking at her so carefully.
"Why are you being so quiet? It creeps me out. Don't you have anything
else left to tease me about?"
The color rose slowly in Darien's cheeks as he realized how long
he'd been standing there, just looking at her, hardly even conscious. She
had turned her face to the sky, as if contemplating the constellations,
and he had been unable to do anything but study her, memorizing the curl
of an errant strand of hair against her cheek, the way her lips fell into
a slight pout when they relaxed, the precise shade of blue in her eyes
that seemed it was always moving. Now, brought back to reality, he was
painfully aware of his pulse speeding up and the blood rushing to his
face. "Uh..." he said, unable to make any other sound.
Her exquisite (exquisite?!?) face curved suddenly in delight.
"You're blushing!" she squealed. "Oh my god, that is so cute! That is
so funny, Darien, you're blushing!" She let loose gales of laughter, and
he blushed further and looked away. But as her giggles cascaded on and
on, he had the curious sensation of being submerged, as if each syllable
in the torrent was a bubble floating toward him to envelop him. He felt
strangely buoyant.
Giggles relaxed into sighs, and she clutched her stomach,
grinning, and leaned back again. One hand reached up to wipe the corner
of her eye. "Oh, lord," she breathed, "I haven't laughed that hard in
ages..."
"So glad to be a constant source of amusement to you, my lady," he
said flatly. Then, in the next second, unbeknownst to each other, they
both caught their breath.
...Cute?...
...My lady?...

*

But now I do!
And I would,
And I could,
And I know...

**

SHE LOVES ME

(A Sailor Moon quasi-songfic by Jennifer Wand)

She Loves Me is one of the great underrated Broadway shows. About two
people who fall in love by letter, but don't realize that their penpal is
actually the co-worker they despise. It's full of games and great songs,
not the least of which is the title tune on which this fic is based.
Highly recommended to all.

P.S. This fic is set between the fight scenes and the final scenes in "An
Artful Attack," the DIC-dubbed episode. I refuse to apologize for any DIC
names, references, or characterizations. Relax.


**

Serena found herself gazing up at the construction site, memory
placing her back on that beam where a tentative conversation had taken
place. The moon had illuminated their forms, just a few short minutes
ago, and now it was so distressingly empty. It looked as if it missed
them.
When their fingers had met over the glittering star locket, racing
tendrils of warmth had spun so suddenly up her arms that all at once she
was dizzy and afraid of falling. Face to face with him. Quietly. And
they'd connected. She'd felt it. But as soon as it had appeared, it was
gone, and he was the stone-cold protector once more. Spitting words about
his own agenda and leaving her there shivering. How could he close
himself off like that? And why would he want to?
She sighed audibly, and Darien gave her a curious look. Feeling
his gaze, she turned and gave him a huge grin, laughing nervously.
"Thinking about one of your secret crushes?" he asked, raising an eyebrow
in the manner of a gossip reporter smelling scandal.
"I don't get him," she pouted. "What is up with that Tuxedo Mask
anyway?"
Darien's pulse leapt to his throat. "Tuxedo... Mask?" he
repeated. "Do you know him?"
She blushed nearly magenta and laughed long and stiffly. "What?
Like, even!" she sang. "I just think he's dreamy. I mean, everyone does!
But I'm his biggest fan, totally." She blithered away, practically on
autopilot, as Darien watched her incredulously. "He's just too gorgeous!
I just can't figure out what he's about, ya know? Why he does what he
does."
"So that's the other guy you like," Darien said, a tad hopefully.
She just kept on babbling. Which meant, of course, that the
answer was Yes.
'Neither of them is you,' huh? Wrong, meatball head. One of them
is very much me.

*

She loves me!
And to my amazement,
I love it
knowing that she loves me.

*

Darien grinned. His chest felt like a shaken-up soda bottle.
Fizz, fizz, fizz, against the roof... "Whoa!" he exclaimed, giving a long,
low whistle. "You set your sights pretty high, don't you?"
Serena started angrily, then stopped, as if just remembering
something. "Jerk," she mumbled, pouting.
In the meantime, Darien's perception of her had subtly changed.
Now he was looking at her not as Serena, The Girl Who Hates Me, but
Serena, The Girl Who Likes Me. And he was thrown into the heart-thudding
cycles of I Wonder If There's Anything There To Build On. So he looked at
her, this time consciously trying to examine the girl who liked him so
much, to find beauty. And he found it almost immediately in her tender
little pout.
Beating down the sudden fire in his fists, he brought them stiffly
to his sides. "You even know the guy?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"He's a superhero, Meatball Head. He's probably not even real."
"He is real!" she insisted, her eyes flashing blue fire. "I've
seen him!"
Darien gave a nod and a long, sarcastic drawl. "Uhh-huh."
"I have so! C'mon, Darien, everyone knows the Sailor Scouts are
real, right? Well, he shows up with them sometimes! I know cause..." she
stammered, her cheeks flushed... "because I was there one time when they
attacked, um, a comic store I was in, and he showed up! It was awesome!"
Did I ever help them out in a comic store? he wondered briefly. I
don't remember something like that happening... "And he took one look at
you and swore he'd love you forever, right?"
"Jerk!" That pout again. "Like you don't have a crush on a Sailor
Scout. Evvv-ery guy does. Which one is your type, I wonder... Hah!" She
pointed triumphantly up at him. "I bet you like Sailor Mars best, don't
you? Yah, you'd like someone who's a brat like you."
The words rolled softly off his tongue before he had time to
think. "Well, actually, I think Sailor Moon is terrific."
Serena's face went bright red.

*

She loves me!
True, she doesn't show it--
How could she,
when she doesn't know it?

*

They had wandered down the street, headed in some unknown
direction, just strolling without thinking. Now a Don't Walk signal
impeded their progress, and he watched her reflection in a dark,
red-tinted puddle. She leaned against a lamppost, a bemused expression on
her face. "Never thought Sailor Moon was your type," she said slowly.
"Oh, yeah," Darien smiled. "How could I resist a girl with
meatballs on her head just like yours? Anyway," he continued, never
noticing her rage and subsequent shock, "she's got-- I don't know, stage
presence, I guess. Have you ever seen her do that I Will Punish You
thing? It was great. I'm still trying to remember the way her arms went."
He attempted the fateful pose as he talked, bending an elbow and pointing
a finger up, down, to the side, practically poking himself in the eye,
twisting himself into all kinds of silly positions. Serena giggled, and
Darien froze at the sound of her voice. All bells. All bells.
"Don't try so hard," she said through peals of sweet laughter. "I
don't think you're cut out for the job." Darien stopped his attempts and
turned to her with a hurt expression. "No offense," Serena grinned in
response to the look, "but I just can't see you in one of those skirts!"
"Oh, I used to model," Darien gave an aloof little toss of the
head. "I'm sure I could look good in anything if I wanted to."
"You'd look good," she said pointedly, "with a head a little
smaller than a BLIMP."
"Ah, but that's what you're for! Whenever I get too high on
myself, you're always there to insult me and deflate my ego a little."
"Yup, that's my job," she agreed, nodding importantly.
"And you have fun doing it," he rejoined, grinning.
Her grin rose up to meet his. "You bet."

There was an awkward silence.

*

Yesterday she loathed me-- Bah!
Now today she likes me. Ha!
And tomorrow...
Tomorrow, oh...

*

"All right then," Darien finally exclaimed. "I always wondered why
I was on this earth, and now I know. I'm an endless source of amusement
for Meatball Head Serena. At least I'm good for something."
"Not very much," Serena retorted, but she was openly grinning now.
Darien grinned back at her, his eyes glittering in the lamplight. This
was fun, he realized abruptly. This little game of theirs was damned fun.
He felt as though he were in some great tournament, that his whole life
depended on the next turn of phrase. How long could he keep it up without
melting? He was a shudder of goosebumps. His sweat rained down cold. He
could hardly keep his eyes steady. But this was the tournament of
champions. And he couldn't give up. Because if he did, he'd...
"Dear God," he muttered out loud, averting his eyes.
"Huh?"
He shook his head silently. But his brain was loudly protesting,
demanding he finish his sentence. Giving up meant giving in to...

*

My teeth ache
From the urge to touch her.
I'm speechless,
for I mustn't tell her.
It's wrong now...

*

"You know," he suddenly blurted out, "I know Tuxedo Mask really
well."
She rolled her eyes and kept walking.
"Yeah, he's a good friend of mine, you know." He stretched his
arms and folded them behind his head leisurely. "He's a really great guy,
actually. And he's been watching you for ages."
"Uh-huh," Serena said flatly, not breaking her stride.
"Okay, maybe that's a lie. He is crazy about Sailor Moon, though.
No kidding there." Darien sounded a good deal more serious than he
intended to, and that caught Serena's attention. She blushed and stopped.
Darien half-smirked, immediately regretting what he'd said but finding it
hard to berate himself for it when her face lit up the way it did. It was
too irresistible for him to wish he hadn't provoked it.
Finally, her face fell again. "Just now you said you didn't think
he existed." Her tone and expression reverted to its usual haughtiness.
"Uh..." Darien's mind raced. "Well, he's got a secret identity,
you know. He can't have me going around telling people I know him. But,
seriously!" He found himself speaking faster, more earnestly, trying to
get her to believe him, like a kid convinced he'd seen a UFO. "He's
totally in love with Sailor Moon. He thinks she is just the greatest.
Just like me."
Serena's heart froze. Just like...

*

But it won't be long now,
until my love discovers
that she and I are lovers--
imagine how surprised she's bound to be--
she loves me, she loves me!

*

He's so cold, Serena had thought when Tuxedo Mask turned abruptly
and flew away. Like Darien... no way!
And those were the thoughts in her head once more. No way! She
looked back at Darien to reassure herself that it couldn't possibly be.
His form lanky and smooth in the dim glow of the streetlamp. His
features delicately illuminated, like some carefully crafted statue. And
the hope and hesitation in his dark eyes-- no, she realized with a
shudder, his eyes were blue. Bright, deep blue. And there was no more
Tuxedo Mask in her mind.
Darien watched her watching him. Like two mirrors facing each
other and creating infinite layers of reflections, he saw a million of her
and another million of him. He trembled as he realized that she was truly
seeing him, perhaps for the first time. She was looking at him with
blank, unbiased eyes, no longer clouded by circumstance and past
bickerings. And as for Darien... he had no choice but to answer her gaze.
And in answering it, he found his answer as well.

*

I love her!
Isn't that a wonder?

*

"Uhh," Serena started, a dull sound penetrating the dull muteness
of the gray night. Darien started as though waking from a deep slumber.
"Let's go see how Peggy's doing!" The big paper smile was plastered to her
face again, and she began to half-walk, half-skip down the road. Life
snapped back into focus, and Darien followed her, running. But Serena
sped up, starting to laugh, staying several steps ahead of him. Darien
half-smiled and muttered in a warning tone,
"Okay..."
Serena took the hint and ran for her life.
He ran full speed down the street, in hot pursuit of the laughing
blonde. She jumped atop a bench to keep away from him, turning to make
faces at him when she had eluded his grasp once more. Darien was utterly
addicted. His brain was gone. All he could think was
mygodshe'ssobeautifulmygodshe'ssobeautiful. The times when he had been
disgusted by her, annoyed with her... they couldn't possibly have existed.
It just didn't make sense. How could he have ever looked at her without
seeing those angel wings on her shoulders? Because now, they were all he
could see...

*

I wonder
why I didn't want her.
I want her!
That's the thing that matters...
and matters
are improving daily!

*

His hand swiped close to hers, but closed around air. Panting, he
fell forward, staggering to keep his balance. She shrieked. Turning
suddenly, he picked up new momentum and went straight for her waist. That
time, his fingers brushed the cloth of her shirt. The touch vibrated up
his arm, and in the moment of confusion, she slipped away again. "Damn
you, child..." he muttered savagely. She stopped and made a puzzled face.
Darien saw his opening.
With all the remaining strength in his body, he lunged forward and
wrapped his arms around her, holding her fast. She struggled, but it was
obvious the game was over. Now standing still, they both felt the
exhaustion catch up with them. Darien's head hung limp on Serena's
quivering shoulder, his breathing coming fast and short. A thin sheen of
sweat glistened on his collar. The sleeves of his shirt clung fast to his
arms. Serena's head was tilted towards the sky, her face pink, as she
gasped for some of the cool night air. Her eyes instinctively fixed on
the bright moon. She gasped once, twice, shallowly, and her hands came
down to grab the bottom of his shirt in order to keep from falling over.
For several seconds they stood like that, grasping each other, trying hard
to breathe. Her hands were small and hot on his stomach.
After a while, she gave a thin giggle. "Darien, you're so
obnoxious," she said weakly. The final gunshot before the white flag was
raised.

*

Yesterday I loathed her-- pooh.
Now today I love her. Whoo!
And tomorrow,
tomorrow, oh!

*

Darien slowly regained his breath as he heard her giggle and
whisper next to him. His arms, wrapped around her shoulders, fell to the
small of her back, and she gasped. He tightened his grip.
He was caught in a tide too strong to fight. He heard only the
roaring of the seashell-waves in his blood, in his wrists, in his ears.
It was so, so, warm. A red tide. His eyes were fixed on the spot where
her shirt gave way to peach skin of her neck. Like shore to a drowning
man. He wanted it so very badly.
With pain, with regret, he slowly lifted his head, watching that
shoreline retreat beneath the ever-heightening tide. Her hair brushed
past his. Then against his bare skin... silk!... and he had to bite his
lip. Gingerly, he started to withdraw from this comfortable position
wrapped around her.
But then his cheek touched hers.
Darien's hands came up immediately to hold her face. He pressed
it to his, feeling the flushed warmth of her skin against the seeming
coldness of his, feeling as close to true warmth as he had ever been.
Some chord sounded in him, deep and resonant, like the tones of an organ.
He exhaled loudly. His eyes were wet.
She felt the animal grasp of his trembling hands like a rush of
wildfire and fear through her. Not knowing what was going on, not knowing
what he was doing or thinking or what he wanted, she lifted her arms to
clutch the back of his shirt in terror. Her little hands shook like
leaves in a gale, and she took fistfuls of fabric to hold herself
together. And all the time, his smooth, huge cheek was against hers,
transmitting warmth into her, like a blanket or a warm cloth or a
hearthfire, but something completely unfamiliar at the same time. Her
breaths slowed and stopped.
When did they break apart? Darien didn't remember. He must have
said something, or she did, because all at once the warmth was gone and he
was walking alongside her once more. She was grinning up at him, and it
made his heart leap to look at her. She was a vision. Darien could have
sworn he felt her blood circulate-- lucky, lucky fluid, to give life to
someone with so much life. He wanted to be running madly through her
veins too.
"C'mon, let's hurry up and get to Peggy's," she had said suddenly.
That was it. And he had let go and nodded. After the warmth of her
embrace, the night had seemed suddenly, bitterly cold. But even so...
Oh, what on earth was that? What on earth just happened to him?
A clear inner voice said quietly, "Do you really care?"
Darien grinned. Nope. Not a bit.
**

I'm tingling
such delicious tingles.
I'm trembling--
what the hell does that mean?
I'm freezing--
(that's because it's cold out!)
But still I'm incandescent
and like some adolescent
I want to scrawl on every wall I see...
"She loves me!"
**

So they went to see Peggy, and they scrapped like a couple of
angry pigeons over a bread crumb, and Serena blushed at the sight of
herself in the painting. And the next day it would all be the same as it
was before. But tonight...

Well, well, well, well, well. Darien, you old stodgy college boy,
you. You've gone and done it.

You've gone and fallen in love.

Will wonders never cease?

Darien paused on the edge of the cobblestone wall. His arms
spread wide, he breathed in the chilly October air and watched, amazed, as
his breath came forth in a tiny white puff. From here he could see the
footbridge, the distant fronds of Fairview's pines, the wiry top of Tokyo
Tower. Vega sparkled high above his head as he craned his neck upwards to
gaze at the zenith. He grinned at it. Grinned at everything. And in a
clear voice, he announced to the ecstatic universe:

**

She loves me!

**

THE END

Tee-hee!! This one was a no-brainer, but I bet you all should appreciate
it. :-) Jaa! :-)