Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon.

Author's note: I read this fic on the site recently and I got SO inspired to write this fic. This is really a spur of the moment idea. It's completely different from what I had in mind for my second fic (for those of you who haven't read it: please go check it out!). I don't know how long this one'll be and I don't know when I'll find the time to write it. But, I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Chapter 1

A new beginning

Serena walked into the Crown arcade after hanging out with Molly all day. It was summer vacation and it felt great. No running late anymore, heck, no running was bliss.

Serena's 18th birthday was last weekend and she just blew all the money she received on a shopping spree. She was awaiting the replies of the dozens of universities she applied to. She made sure to pick out the ones that were a good drive away. She didn't want to be under the prying eye of her father anymore. She couldn't date, not that anyone wanted to date her. Even Melvin the school nerd had been a problem to her dad. Her brother also played a part in her choices. He was annoying as hell and she was sure that if she stayed here for another year, she would end up in an insane asylum. The main reason she wanted to live away for a while was to be able to grow up and explore new possibilities. A far away college seemed like a good start.

The Crown was a restaurant/diner with some arcade machines in half of the room. It was popular with the younger generation. Serena sat on a stool at the counter. Andrew flashed her one of his great smiles. "Hey there, Serena! What'll it be?"

Serena blushed at this small gesture. Andrew's dirty blond hair and tanned skin made him look like a god. His personality was without fault and his green eyes could make any girl melt. Wait, he did make every girl melt. He was a little older but it didn't matter. "I'll have a chocolate milkshake."

"Sure thing," he replied before turning around to make her drink in a nick of time. "Here ya go, Serena. Did you get any replies from colleges?"

Serena's heart fluttered. Andrew was so considerate and caring, worrying about her applications. Serena sighed internally. He was so perfect. "No not yet... Molly got her replies already. She's so smart! She got into Yale. She's going to be a journalist just like she's always dreamed of. I don't even think I got accepted anywhere! My grades suck SO bad..."

"But you passed all your classes. That's the important part. I'm sure somebody out there needs you," Andrew reassured her before taking a nearby customer's order. Serena melted in her seat at how nice and charming Andrew was.

"Hey there Meatball Head!"

Serena turned and frowned at the sound of the man who annoyed her the most. He was another reason she wanted to get out of this town. He took a seat next to her. "Stop calling me that! Did you get memory loss or are you just stupid? My name's Se-re-na! Say it with me now."

"Meat-ball head!" Darien replied.

"Arghhhh!" Serena groaned, as her face became a darker shade of pink around her cheeks. She resumed sipping her milkshake, infuriated. Darien couldn't help but think she was cute when she was mad. 'Cute?' he thought. Her hair was always up in an untraditional hairstyle, but it was all part of Serena's charm. 'Charm?' Darien thought confused, shaking his head to make the thoughts go away.

"Aw, c'mon now Darien! Don't be mean to the poor girl. She's already stressed out because of her college applications," said Andrew. Andrew Roberts and Darien Shields, both 22, were best friends ever since God knows when. Andrew never really had a thing for studying and when his parents died, it only felt right to take on the family business: the Crown arcade. Darien on the other hand had always wanted to be a doctor. When he was six years old, he was in a car accident. He was the only survivor. He had felt so helpless and confused that he vowed to help kids who feel that way every day. It surprised Serena that Darien had even an ounce of care for anyone else but himself.

"Woah, Meatball Head! I didn't even know that with your grades you could even get into a college!" Darien said laughing.

Serena lifted her eyes. They were glossy. "You know what Darien? Every day you've joked about my hairstyle, about my grades... But you've never really realized how much it hurts. I can't wait to leave this place! You're such a jerk!" she shouted.

She quickly got up before Darien could say anything and sped out the door. Andrew looked at his friend disapprovingly. "Why do you always have to be mean to her?" Andrew sighed.

Darien remained quiet. He didn't really know himself. He didn't mean to hurt her. She never reacted this way before. They would always bicker and banter. Why was this time different?

--

Serena ran up the steps to her house. 'Ugh! That Darien! Why does he have to be so mean to me all the time? Him and his perfect grades, perfect life, perfect looks! Did I just say perfect looks? Argh! Whatever... Sometimes I wish I could just strangle him!' she thought to herself.

She walked through the front door. She wanted a snack even though she just drank a large milkshake. "Mom, Dad! I'm home!" She walked into the kitchen and noticed a bunch of envelopes, lying on the table. She quickly grabbed the first envelope. It was from another school. She opened it. "Dear Miss Serena Lawrence, we regret-"

"Ugh." Serena threw it immediately. She opened the next one. Same thing. She did this for about five envelopes. 'Maybe Darien was right. I can't possibly get into a college with my grades...' she said giving up hope.

There was one more envelope. NYU. She slowly opened it, all hope gone. "Dear Miss Serena Lawrence, we are pleased to-" Serena threw the envelope. 'Wait, what?' She quickly picked it up and reread the first sentence. "I got accepted! I got accepted to NYU!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

"Hey Serena, could you tone it down? I was trying to watch TV back there!" Sammy said walking into the kitchen.

Serena grabbed her little brother and spun him around the kitchen in a dance. "I got accepted! I got accepted!" Serena said in a sing-song voice.

"Cut it out!" Sammy wailed, wriggling out of his sister's arms.

"Serena honey, what's wrong? I heard you screaming-"

"Mom, I got into NYU!"

"Oh, that's wonderful dear! I'm so happy for you! I'll go get your father!"

Serena was jumping up and down. She couldn't believe it. It was a miracle. Someone in this world was watching out for her.

--

"Molly you won't believe it!" Serena squealed into the phone's receiver.

"What Serena?" she said, anticipation building in her stomach.

"I got accepted to NYU!"

"No way Serena! I knew you'd get in somewhere!" Molly told her ecstatic. "I bet you're all excited about going to the big city with all the skyscrapers and all!"

"I kinda am! I just can't believe I got accepted somewhere!"

"What exactly did you apply to?"

"Hotel and tourism management." There was silence on the other line. "Molly?"

"Um... I didn't really know you were into... management," said Molly awkwardly.

"Well I didn't either! It's just the program sounded really great! I get to go to other countries!" Serena said, trying to convince Molly.

"Serena... You can't just pick out a program because you like one perk. What if you don't like the classes? You're going to invest four years into this thing."

"I know Molly! But I didn't want to go into Liberal arts because God knows it's the only other thing I can get accepted to. All that stuff sounds exactly like high school! I want to try something new. I'm not like you Molly. I don't know what my calling is and maybe this is it... Besides, if I really don't like it, I'll switch programs."

"Alright Sere... I hope you know what you're getting into. I won't be around as much to help you cry it out," Molly said jokingly.

"Haha, very funny. But I really think I'll be able to do this." She paused. "In celebration of my acceptance, I think it's time for a change." Serena looked at herself in the mirror and undid the buns from her hair. Her blond hair swirled down her back, passed her bottom. She wasn't awful looking; she always thought of herself as normal. She had always wanted to be more than normal. She had always wanted to be popular. Her body wasn't that bad, was it? College had to be better than high school.

"What kind of a change?" Molly asked curiously.

"Come out with me tomorrow and you'll find out."

"I don't like that sound of that..."

"I'll call you tomorrow."

"Sure thing. Later Sere."

"Bye." Serena put the phone down and started playing with her hair.

--

"Are you sure you're ready for this Serena?" Molly asked her friend via the mirror. "I mean your hair's been this long since kindergarten!"

"Molly, I want this. I need this. My life's changing and I feel like I should keep up," Serena replied, sitting in a chair at the hairdresser's. Her hair was damp after a nice shampoo and conditioning.

"Alright, Miss. What kind of cut are you looking for?" asked the hairdresser. Her name was Lydia. She had an eccentric hairstyle and probably the personality to go with it.

"I don't know... Surprise me," Serena answered curtly. Molly hurriedly moved away and sat on another chair, watching her best friend.

"Sure thing hon. I've got the perfect thing in mind."

--

"You can look now hon," said Lydia, removing all the hair with one swift movement with the sheet covering Serena.

"Holy cow, Serena! I always thought you were beautiful before, but now... now!" Molly exclaimed.

Serena had her eyes closed during the whole haircut. She wanted to wait and see the finished product. Well, not really. She mostly didn't want to see her perfect long locks being snipped away. She had been growing that hair for years. There were times when she wanted to yell stop, but she knew that that would be stupid and childlike. She wasn't a child anymore and judging from Molly's reaction, it was probably not that bad.

Serena opened her eyes and was shocked by what she saw. It was a good shock though. 'Is that really me?' Her wide blue eyes were staring back at her, but the rest didn't look like her. Her hair was definitely shorter, a little longer than shoulder length. It was a shocking difference compared to her knee-long hair. She had side bangs, which was all the rage right now. Her hair had layers in it, clearly visible after Lydia had straightened it.

"Is it okay? Do you like it hon?" Lydia asked.

"It's definitely gonna take some getting used to, but... I like it," Serena said, smiling. She couldn't take her eyes off of the mirror.

"Good. I must admit I was a little nervous." She picked up a broom and started sweeping the area. "If you don't mind me asking... are you doing this for a boy?" Lydia asked, wiggling her eyebrows.

Serena blushed. "What? No... not at all... I mean not really." Serena's mind drifted to Darien. 'What? Darien? No. Andrew,' she corrected her mind. "I just want to make a new impression when I go to university this fall and if that includes boys, so be it."

"Sure, hon," Lydia said, chuckling at Serena's embarrassment. "It'll be 35$."

"Oh right!" She rummaged through her purse to find her money. 'Why did I think of Darien? I guess I just feel pressured to impress him 'cause he's got it all! Yeah, that's right!' she told herself, not completely convinced. She quickly paid and walked out, but not before thanking Lydia.

"Serena! You're a total babe!" Molly exclaimed.

"You're just saying that 'cause you're my friend..." Serena said shyly.

"Hey there Sweetcheeks. Wanna go for a ride?" asked a young man in a parked car. He was clearly talking to Serena.

The girls quickly walked away. "See!!!" Molly shouted to her friend.

"So ONE guy notices me. It doesn't mean anything! Let's go grab a bite to eat. I'm hungry."

"I'm glad to see that your looks haven't changed your personality!"

"Shut up Molly!" However, Serena couldn't deny that she liked the extra attention.

--

Serena loved eating at the Crown Arcade. Not only was the food excellent, but Andrew worked there. And, judging by the looks several guys gave her that day, she was dying to know what Andrew would think of her haircut.

Molly and Serena neared the restaurant. As they passed beside the glass window, Serena noticed a patch of black hair sitting at the bar. 'Oh great... Darien's here,' she thought. She hadn't exactly left gracefully yesterday and she was pretty sure he wouldn't make her forget it. 'You're here for food and for Andrew...' she told herself.

"Molly! Glad to see you! Serena?" Andrew asked in disbelief. "You cut your hair? It looks amazing! Darien won't be able to call you Meatball Head anymore!" Serena blushed at Andrew's compliment.

Darien had already been caught off guard when Andrew had said 'cut your hair'. But he wasn't expecting what he saw next. He turned and watched as Serena approached to take the seat next to him. He gulped. She looked... hot. Her short skirt allowed him to take in her long slender legs. Her low cut tank top didn't leave much to the imagination either. Damn the summer! But the most shocking thing was her hair. Her oh so very long hair wasn't there anymore, all that was left was a modern cut hairstyle. Not that he minded of course.

"Thanks Andrew! What's the matter Darien? Cat got your tongue?" Serena asked, as she sat on the stool beside him. 'Why is he looking at me like that?' she thought. 'Do I look horrible?'

Darien realized that he was being asked a question. "Not at all Meatball Head..." he answered quickly turning his gaze onto his food. God knows the dirty things he'd think about if he kept looking at her.

"You can't call me that anymore! In case you haven't noticed, I cut my hair!"

Serena's perfume made its way to his nose. She smelled sweet, fruity. What he would give to kiss her neck... God he needed to get out. What was wrong with him? When did Serena come to have this much effect on him? "Yea I noticed. I can't say it suits you."

Serena's eyes held pain for a second. Darien was calling her ugly. Well, she wasn't going to run out like she did yesterday. "I don't care about what you think Darien. You don't matter." She turned to Andrew. "I'll have a cheeseburger and onion rings with a strawberry smoothie, please."

"Hey uh... listen Drew. I gotta go. I'll see you later," Darien said, quickly leaving the restaurant. "Bye, Molly."

"O....kay. That was strange. How 'bout you Molly?" Andrew asked, ignoring his best friend's reaction.

"A hot dog and fries for me," she answered.

Serena stared at Darien's back. He didn't say goodbye to her. Had she hurt him? 'Hurt Darien? Yea right...'

--

Months passed and it was a week before the beginning of the fall semester. Serena was both excited and nervous about starting college.

"Oh honey! You're going to do fine!" Serena's mom said, rubbing her daughter's arms.

"Now dear, don't drive too fast on the highway, don't drink, don't stay out too late-"

"Dad! I know!" Serena said, cutting her father off.

"Of-of course you do," her dad said sadly.

"Daddy don't be sad! It'll be the holidays before you know it!" She was going to miss her dad's excessive house rules.

"It's just... We're going to miss you so much!"

"Aw, dad..." Serena's parents enveloped her in a big hug. Serena was going to miss them too: her mom's cooking, her dad's advice and even Sammy's insults. Serena turned to her brother. "Sammy... since I won't be here anymore, try not to give mom and dad a hard time."

"Sure Serena..."

"You be a good kid now."

"I will... You be careful out there, okay?"

Serena's eyes shined with tears. It was the first time in a very long time that her brother showed affection for her. She nodded and gave him a hug. "I love you guys," she said, motioning to her parents to join the hug. After a few seconds, Serena let them go reluctantly. "I better get going. I need to settle in before school starts..."

"Of course honey," her mom said, wiping a few tears away.

Serena got into the car her parents got her for her 18th birthday. It was a second hand Nissan Murano. It was better than nothing.

Serena started the engine and with one last look at her waving family, she drove out of the driveway.

--

As Serena was about to pull out onto the highway, Serena received a call from Molly. She said it was urgent and that Serena should get to the Crown arcade as soon as possible. Serena quickly turned around and headed to the arcade.

Serena hurried and pulled into a nearby parking spot. She was worried about her friend. Serena's mind was racing to figure out what happened. She quickly ran into the arcade.

"Surprise!!!"

Serena's eyes glistened with unshed tears. Her friends were all there. Serena saw a banner placed over the bar. It read: We'll miss you, Serena!. Serena looked at the crowd. She could see Molly and Melvin, Amy, Raye and Lita. She walked towards them.

"You guys! I can't believe you threw a party for me!" Serena said hugging all of them one at a time. She was so glad that they were all there, supporting her onto her new big journey. Of course, they were all going their separate ways. Amy was going to study in England, in medicine of course. Raye was going to intern for a huge fashion company in Los Angeles. Lita was going to explore the world before going back to school. They were the greatest friends Serena could ever ask for. She was going to miss them all terribly.

"You can thank Andrew over there. He's the one who had the idea. He saved up our booth just for you," Lita said.

Serena's heart raced faster. She turned to look at Andrew who was talking to a tall auburn-haired woman. 'Andrew, threw this for me? I can't believe it.' She thought she was going to melt. "I better go say thanks," Serena said before walking away.

"This is going to kill her..." Molly said. "She's had the biggest crush on him for forever! I can't believe he decided to bring his girlfriend today, out of all days! Shouldn't we stop her?"

"She's bound to find out either way. She's a big girl now," Melvin answered.

Serena headed to the counter to speak to Andrew. She couldn't help but notice that Darien wasn't there. "Hey Andrew!" she said cheerily. "I can't believe you threw this party for me! It's so sweet of you!"

"It's no problem Serena! You're a great girl. You deserve something like this."

Serena noticed that the woman he was talking to earlier was still standing next to him. Andrew took the opportunity to introduce her. "Serena, meet my girlfriend, Rita."

'Girlfriend?! Andrew has a girlfriend?!' Serena thought frantically. "Hi!" Serena said, trying to sound poised. "It's nice to meet you."

"You too!" the woman said. "I've heard so much about you! Andrew talks about you all the time. You're a good friend."

'I'm just a... friend.' Serena wanted to change the subject. She wasn't exactly heartbroken, but she really did have a huge crush on him. Surprisingly, she wasn't as disappointed as she thought she would be. She expected tears and wailing, but she guessed that somewhere deep down she knew she wasn't the one for him. Besides, of course he'd go for a classy woman, not a fresh out of high school girl like her.

The silence made her mind wander back to Darien. She searched down the bar stools for his familiar jet black hair. He wasn't there. "Where's Darien?"

"You noticed, huh? I thought you'd be happy he wouldn't be here. A day's never complete without him at your side, is it?" Andrew asked with a raised eyebrow.

Serena realized what he was implying. "It's not like that Andrew and you know it! Darien is the last person I wanted to see today and I was just trying to see if he wasn't around to spoil my party! You know how much I hate his nickname for me!" Serena finished blushing.

"Okay, okay! Calm down, Serena! It was just a little joke," Andrew chuckled.

Serena realized that, but was she joking? Darien had always been at the Crown Arcade whenever she was there and he would always call her Meatball Head. A day at the Crown never went by without him calling her Meatball Head. Serena realized that Darien would never call her that ever again. She was supposed to be relieved, yet it just made her feel empty. They hadn't left each other on good terms. They hadn't even said goodbye.

Where was all this melodrama coming from? She excused herself as she quickly got up from her seat to go see Molly and Melvin sitting with their friends, in their booth. "So Serena, are you excited?" Lita asked her, stuffing a brownie down her throat. Andrew had taken out everything of Serena's favourite things from the menu for her departure.

"Of course! I can't believe I'm actually leaving! It's freedom! I'll miss you guys though!" Serena answered.

"Oh, Sere... We're only a phone call away," Amy added. "Besides, you'll probably see Darien all the time and you won't have time to miss us over your verbal battles."

"Hm... yeah..." Serena said nonchalantly. Her eyes widened as well as everybody else's. "Wait, what? What do you mean I'll see Darien all the time?" Serena shrieked.

"You didn't know?" Amy asked, looking at each of them.

"Apparently not! Spit it out already!" Lita said, impatient.

"Okay, okay. Darien switched colleges. He's now going to study in New York City at NYU in med. He finally finished pre-med at the state's school and got accepted over there."

"You've gotta be kidding me..." Serena mumbled.

"Now, now, Serena... The campus is huge! What are the chances of you guys crossing paths?" Molly said.

"I can't believe Darien's going to be two feet away from you Serena! I'm so jealous!" Raye said, crossing her arms. Raye had a crush on Darien ever since he called Serena Meatball head for the first time.

"I'd gladly switch places with you Raye, you know that," Serena told her.

"Humph..." was all Raye replied as everyone rolled their eyes.

'That's Raye for ya...' Serena thought. 'I can't believe Darien didn't tell me he was going to New York City! Well he didn't really have a reason to tell me... Ugh! Why am I thinking about this?'

"At least you'll know somebody in the city Serena," Melvin added.

"Somebody who happens to be the bane of my existence!" Serena said, covering her face with her hands.

"Aw, c'mon, Rena... How bad could it really be?" Lita shrugged.

'College life is starting off real swell...' Serena thought.

Author's note: Yay! I hope you guys liked it! I know what you guys are thinking: this girl is crazy obsessed with New York City (check out my other fic). Yea, I kinda am. I just love the energy I guess... I don't know. I just do! Oh and by the way, I just picked out a random program for Serena. It's probably pretty competitive to get into but I just needed her to get into NYU. I'm Canadian so I don't really know how that university works. So bear with me! Tell me what you guys think. Please review! I just hope I get enough reviews to be able to continue the story. Thanks for reading! =)