I haven't forgotten about this story! I had started it years ago on another account, done one rewrite, and am currently working on one more. I have plans for it, I just want to get it all fixed the way I like it first.
The first four chapters are not much different from what was here before, so if you're re-reading, I hope you enjoy the subtle changes (and error corrections).
It's Just Pretend
"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defences, you build up a whole suit of armour, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love." - Neil Gaiman
The sun slowly crept through the rose tinted curtains, casting its warm, autumn rays over her sleeping form. Suddenly, a high-pitched ring pierced the morning stillness, jolting the girl from the depths of sleep. After a brief moment of confusion, she tossed back the blankets and scrambled to her feet. "I'm going to be late, again!" She exclaimed herself, digging through the clothes strewn across the floor in a desperate attempt to find her uniform.
"Usagi honey! Hurry up!" Ikuko called from the bottom of the stairs, shaking her head with a slight smile. It was the exact same scene every single morning and she wondered if her daughter would ever grow accustomed to waking up early.
"I am hurrying!" Usagi yelled, brushing through her long, golden locks and pinning them up into her signature hairstyle – two long pigtails, with orbs perched on top. Grabbing her school bag, she flew out the door.
Mamoru stood at the corner, checking his watch again. She was already five minutes late. He anxiously leaned against the wall gazing up at the blue sky, waiting to hear the familiar sound of her feet pounding against the concrete sidewalk. He shook his head when he finally realized exactly what it was that he was doing. 'Idiot', he cursed mentally, knowing that any attempt he made now would be in vain. She disliked him. She hated him. She loathed him. 'Not that you can blame her', he chided with a snort. He was soon pulled from his thoughts when he heard that sweet voice calling out apologies to the pedestrians who fell victim to her hurricane attack. He quickly ran a hand through his raven hair, then stepped into the middle of the sidewalk and braced himself for impact.
Glancing at her watch Usagi quickened pace; there was still a slight possibility that she could be on time. Nevertheless, just like every other morning, she felt herself crashing into a hard, warm body. Her bag flew from her grasp and in a flurry of golden hair, she felt herself falling. Blowing the hair from her eyes, her gaze travelled up to meet his amused eyes.
"Morning, Odango," he nodded, smiling at how her face so quickly flushed crimson with anger.
"Good morning, Mamoru-baka," she spat, gathering herself from the ground and dusting the dirt from her clothes. The school bell rang in the distance and Usagi's face blanched. "Dammit! I'm late again!" She glanced up at Mamoru, "You know, this is all your fault!" She frantically collected the books that had spilled from her bag.
"Mine? Now, now Odango, if you didn't intentionally run into me every morning, you wouldn't be late," he frowned inwardly at the hypocrisy.
"Ugh!" Usagi rolled her eyes, scowling as she tried to keep the blush from creeping onto her cheeks. "Intentionally run into you!? Ha! Don't you wish!" Although she would likely be the last person to admit it, part of her hoped that he would be there, and when he she always felt a small twinge of disappointment.
"Have a good detention," Mamoru smirked and Usagi's eyes narrowed, a devilish response formulating in her mind.
"You know what, I will," a smug smile crossed her face, "And do you know what I'll be doing in that detention?" She asked sweetly, Mamoru taken back by the sudden change in her voice.
"Dreaming," batting her long lashes, she encouraged him to further his questioning.
"Of what? Actually passing a test?" There was no way he would let her get the better of him, even if his heart raced at the thought of what could possibly be in her dreams.
"Of you" Usagi replied simply, her pink lips curving as she watched the reaction play across his face. Trying to mask his confusion, he took a step closer as if to intimidate her.
"What?" Mamoru's voice softened as his eyes searched hers for a truthful answer.
"I'll be dreaming of you…" she paused, grinning like a Cheshire cat, "… and how I'm going to plan your hideous, extravagant demise!" She proclaimed, crossing her arms proudly. For a moment, Mamoru's thoughts stumbled.
"Touché." Annoyed, he turned sharply, calling over his shoulder as he walked away, "see you around, Odango." Usagi released a cumbersome sigh, feelings of guilt washing through her. She tried in vain to convince herself that he deserved it, but that flicker of sadness in his cerulean eyes made her think otherwise. Hanging her head in defeat, she continued her trek to school.
"Usagi?" The blonde whirled around to address the dark haired boy who was making his way towards her.
"Yuuji… hi," she smiled nervously her eyes darting to the ground. Usagi had nothing against the boy, however, the mill had been circulating a certain rumour that he was going to ask her on a date. When Naru had first shared the news with her best friend, she was flattered. However, the more she thought about it, the more Usagi felt that it wasn't quite right to accept Yuuji's invitation. She had someone else in mind. Minako and Makoto frequently asked her what she was going to say, hoping that their friend's answer might change, but no matter what their argument was, Usagi always replied with a simple, 'No'. Baffled, her friends would go into the great details of his good looks, charming personality and reputable position in the school's social standing.
"Hi..." he flashed his winning grin, "I was wondering if maybe you'd like to go out this weekend?" Usagi blushed, frowning regretfully.
"I'm sorry… I can't," she shook her head.
"Is next weekend better for you?"
"No it's not like that. I'm sorry, I'm just not available right now," she chose her words carefully, wanting the conversation to be over as quickly as possible.
"Why?" Yuuji asked, disappointed and craving a reason; he never imagined she, or anyone else for that matter, would turn him down.
"Why?" She panicked momentarily, "Well… my… da… boyfriend! He wouldn't like that. You know, going out with another guy and all. On a date," she finished awkwardly, praying he would buy her excuse.
"Oh, I didn't know you were seeing someone." Yuuji stuffed his hands into his pockets, slightly embarrassed. You would have thought someone would have told him she had a boyfriend.
"Yeah… he just doesn't go to our school," she smiled apologetically.
"Well I guess I'll get to meet him at the Halloween dance then," he said diplomatically, wanting nothing more than to see who had beaten him to Usagi.
"What?" The girl's face paled, and she prayed that she had heard him incorrectly.
"He's taking you to the dance, right?"
"Of course!" Usagi exclaimed, "What kind of boyfriend wouldn't?" she swallowed anxiously. 'The imaginary kind…' she reminded herself.
"At least save a dance for me, okay?" he winked charmingly, before taking off down the hall. A feeling of dread took control of Usagi's stomach – what had she just gotten herself into. Gossip seemed to be the number one priority at Juuban High and she knew that before long talk of her mysterious boyfriend would be headline news.
Usagi sighed, allowing her back to fall against the cold, metal locker. Her thoughts were rampant, and she felt guilty for turning Yuuji down. Maybe she shouldn't have lied. Maybe she should have said yes. Maybe it help her feelings for him subside. And of course, she was referring to the feelings that never existed, right? Deciding not to pursue the matter further, she forced the thoughts to the back of her mind.
"Usagi!" Naru exclaimed running up to her with Umino in tow.
"Naru! I feel like I haven't seen you forever!" The two girls hugged, as Umino straightened himself up and adjusted his glasses. By now he was quite accustomed to his fiery haired girlfriend's sudden bursts of energy, but that did not mean he was prepared.
"Usagi," Umino greeted her, still out of breath.
"So, what's the deal!?" Naru asked suddenly, placing her hands on her hips with a total shift of attitude. "I heard that you have a boyfriend! Who is he!? Why didn't I know about him!?" Usagi went completely white, her shoulders dropped and that nauseous feeling in the pit of her stomach re-emerged.
"What the... how did you hear about that?"
"Usagi, EVERYONE knows! It's all over the school!" Naru made a point to emphasize 'everyone', feeling as if she was the last to know.
"How?" Her mind screamed, 'why couldn't you have just said yes'? "Well I heard it from Kuri, who heard it from Sara... and she heard it from Yumiko, who said that Kaito told her after he-"
"... I get it," the blonde interrupted, flatly.
"Usagi, are you dating an older man that you're ashamed of us knowing about?" Umino's voice lowered suspiciously, his eyes inspecting her face for her reaction.
"Umino! Don't be such an idiot," the boy's girlfriend scolded, playfully smacking him upside the head. She paused, reconsidering the question, "Usagi, is that true?" Usagi rolled her eyes, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Oh my god, you don't really have a boyfriend do you!? Were you lying to Yuuji?" Naru's green eyes flashed with frustration. Despite being asked out by a handful of boys at school, she always turned them down. Usagi had told her friend numerous times how she wished she could find someone, like how Naru found Umino, yet would refuse to go out with anyone who showed interest.
"No! It's not like that... I'm seeing someone," she couldn't stop the lies from spilling from her lips; it was clearly the better option.
"Well, then who is it?" Umino pressed on, his girlfriend raising an eyebrow waiting for Usagi's response.
"We... we're just trying to keep things kinda quiet for now," they kept staring, "you can meet him later! Yeah, like, this weekend or something," she smiled almost convincingly.
"What? Usagi! That's so unfair!" Naru pouted, failing to hear the petite blonde murmur thank god under hear breath.
"Do we know him!? Give us a hint," Umino demanded. Fortuantely, Usagi never had the chance to reply as she saw three saviours struggling through the crowded hallway to rush to her aid.
"Ami, Minako, Makoto!" She called out to them, relief spreading throughout her body; they had no idea how happy she was that they had arrived.
"Okay, SPILL!" Minako glared, her cheerful demeanour changing instantly.
"What?" Usagi's elated expression dropped.
"Who's this new boyfriend of yours?" Her blonde companion arched her brow expectantly.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Makoto asked, hurt that she had found out through one of her classmates, and not Usagi herself.
"Do we know him!?"
"He doesn't go to this school right?"
"Is he hot!?" Usagi closed her eyes and shook her head in attempts to block the tirade of questions they were firing at her.
"Is he smart?" The five friends groaned in unison, all eyes fixed on Ami who was hugging a book to her chest. "Well it's an important quality!" She stated meekly in her own defence.
"She won't tell us a thing!" Naru said exasperated, throwing her arms in the air in an exaggerated attempt to display her frustration.
"How come we don't know about him!?" Makoto furrowed her brow. Usagi anxiously chewed her bottom lip; she had never wanted the bell to ring as badly as she did now.
"We're supposed to be best friends! How could you keep this a secret from us?" Minako was equally as offended; a shadow of disappointment covered her face. Believing that there was a logical explanation for nearly everything, Ami chimed in, "I'm sure she has a reason... right, Usagi?"
"We're trying to keep it on the down low," she muttered. Knowing that she was a horrible liar, she kept her attention fixated on the ground.
"Well I don't understand why you couldn't at least tell us. I mean come on! It's us. I thought we told each other everything," Makoto really played up on the guilt trip.
"I'm sorry," Usagi's heart sank, but there was no turning back, "I promise you guys can meet him soon... it's just, you know what my parents would be like if they knew," she watched as her friends weighed the validity of her excuse. Eventually Minako shrugged her shoulders in approval.
"I guess that's true... your dad can get pretty crazy when it comes to guys," she stated knowingly, recalling some of the past incidents.
"Poor Motoki, I wonder if he'll ever fully recover," Makoto mused, a smile gracing her lips as the memory of Mr. Tsukino chasing him off the property and well down the street replayed in her mind. "So, back to this boyfriend... is he taking you to the Halloween dance?"
"Makoto, of course he is! What kind of boyfriend would he be if he didn't?" Minako interjected, hitting her friend in the arm for even suggesting otherwise.
"That's true!" Makoto giggled, "I can't wait to meet him!"
"Me either!" Minako clasped her hands together in excitement. 'Me either…' Usagi mentally scoffed.
"Come on Usagiii, give answer just one question for us?" Naru pleaded, unable to tolerate the copious amounts of questions that were racking her brain.
"Yeah, one question sounds fair!" Minako agreed. "So, you gotta tell us, how hot is he?"
"How long have you known him?"
"Do we know him?"
"How old is he?"
"How did you meet!?"
"Has he kissed you yet!?"
"MINAKO!" Usagi yelled, embarrassed.
"What? It's something I should know!" Minako whined, her arms folded across her chest. The interrogation was interrupted by the loud ringing of the school bell, and for once, Usagi was happy that she was in school.
"You do know that we're expecting all the answers later, right?" Makoto leaned in, narrowing her eyes threateningly. Usagi nodded. She knew. And she knew that she would have to find them all herself first.