Ugh! She just wanted to go home and take a nap, wrap herself in blankets and immerse herself in blissful oblivion. But exhausted after battle and only just managing to stumble home, she found a note on the door:
Serena, your dad sammy and I are going to watch Sammy's game, then going to dinner after. Should be home around 8, let yourself in with your spare key. Love you, Mom.
Double ugh! She didn't have her key…obviously. I mean really, who did her parents think she was? With a sigh she looked towards the sky; grey, bleak, depressing, definitely rain coming. Man oh man this day was getting worse by the second. She shivered at the prospect of getting wet. Actually, she realized she was just cold, really really cold. Which was weird, she had just dusted some youma, which usually got her really hot. Granted she walked home, but it wasn't a long enough walk to freeze her butt off like this. Maybe, just maybe it had something to do with that attack she got hit with? Oh no, that would really suck. The other scouts hadn't got hit with the weird blue energy attack so they didn't feel how strangely the energy reverberated through her entire body, but left her seemingly unharmed. If these chills were a result of some negaverse thing, she knew she was royally screwed.
None the less, Serena sought refuge from the coming storm at the arcade, fantasizing a little on the way there about Andrew wrapping her up in his coat to keep her warm. Mmm…However her little reverie was cut short when she saw that the arcade was dark and empty. Nobody was behind the counter and all the games were just plastic boxes with black screens. She tugged at the glass door, locked. Arg! The cold was making her irritable and this was just the icing on the cake! Now where was she going to go?! It was Sunday and nothing was going to be open, never mind let some stranger loiter around their store for hours!
Was that just a raindrop? Oh no! Definitly a rain drop! She just felt another, they would be coming down heavier really soon, and Serena frantically brainstormed where to go. Couldn't go to Amy's, she was tutoring a student. Raye was…out with Chad? Is that what she had said?! Lita wasn't even in town, she hightailed it out after the battle to get some special ingredient for the dish she was making (mmm, that would be yummy) and Mina was…where? Oh yea, Mina was entertaining some old friends from London where she used to live. Definitly couldn't crash that one.
Shoot! She though, shoot! Shoot! Shoot! She was getting really wet now as the rain was picking up, she was pretty sure she had goosebumps down to the bone and had nowhere to go! Her exhaustion made it hard for her to think straight, she just wanted to go home to where it was warm and cozy, have a nice cup of hot cocoa, and get out of this mess! Frustration was building up inside her and with each passing minute as she got more and more rained on, it threatened to overflow. She was angry for the storm, at her parents for leaving her, her friends for not being here for her, herself for getting into this situation, the Youma for attacking, the grades she was getting in school, her homework and chores building up, for having to be a superhero instead of just a normal girl, it was just so unfair!
When she started almost convulsing with cold, it threw her over the edge. She was tired, cold, angry, and wanted to go home! She knew she was being petulant, but as tears started rolling down her face, she just didn't feel like being strong anymore. It was just an accumulation of weariness, being wet and cold, and having an all around sucky day. She slid down the wall so she was now sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against the side of the arcade. She made herself into a ball and just let it all out, and she couldn't tell the tears from the raindrops anymore.
And that how Darien saw her: knees pulled up to her chest, head buried in her hands, no umbrella, clothing soaked, hair wet and plastered to her back, and her whole body was trembling.
"Serena?" he asked? She didn't respond. It was then that he realized she was crying. But he noticed that this crying, no, chest heaving sobbing was not her usual high pitched wailing. Something was wrong here. She looked absolutely pitiful, sitting there in the rain like that, just letting herself get rained on. He had never seen her look so…so defeated. And for some reason, that pulled on his heartsrings. This wasn't his normal, fiery-eyed meatball head. There was no bright eyed innocence here. This was a girl who was seeing earth's ugliness and…submitting to it? No! Something was definitely wrong! He happened to know that Serena was the definition of tenacious. Always pursuing friends, food, you name it! She had a kind of spirit that wasn't made for being defeated. He recalled that she always had to have the last word in any of their heated argument. After a moment of debating what he should do he finally decided that if this girl was obviously not normal Serena, Darien could really make himself behave like normal Darien. The least he could do was be nice to her, instead of kick her when she was down.
"Hey meatball head" but he said this was a softness to his voice that he himself was surprised to have heard. Serena cringed. Darien was the LAST person she wanted to see right now, not like this.
"Go away Darien!" she choked out angrily. Of course, she couldn't see the look of sincere kindness in his eyes, the kind of eyes you could find refuge from all your troubles in, because she was still crying into her hands. In fact having Darien here, seeing her in this pitiful state made her cry just a bit harder. Why god why did her life suck so much right now?
"Serena" he offered again. This time she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. Oh the warmth felt so nice, but she remembered it was Darien and flinched away.
"Please. just go away!" she repeated.
"Meatball Head, Serena…just look at me." He lifted her chin softly away from her hands and when he looked into her eyes, his heart constricted. It wasn't the burning fire he was so used to gazing into. Instead her eyes were a deep blue that showed right down to sorrow in her soul. The type of sadness that pulls you under and drowns you. Oh he knew that sorrow all right, and he knew that it takes another person to grab your hand and pull you out of the water when you're drowning like that.
"What are you doing like this Serena?" He said it so tenderly Serena was confused. She couldn't comprehend why he was being like this, and frankly she was too tired to try and figure it out, why couldn't he just let her cry in peace?? She definitely wasn't going to tell him how stupid she was to have left her keys, and was not going to admit to how abandoned she was right now, not to him. So, she bit her lip, averted his gaze, and let more tears flow from the corner of her eyes. Then she felt a wave of icy coldness washed through her again. She shuddered and tried to draw in her knees closer. This didn't escape Darien's notice. She looked so helpless right now, forlorn almost. He was headed back to his apartment and he couldn't just leave her here like this.
"Come here, you're being ridiculous" And with that he pulled her into his arms and she didn't resist. It felt so good, she just couldn't fight it. His arms were warm and secure as they wrapped around her. She collapsed into his strong embrace and let herself be held. Sure, they were still getting rained on, but at least now she wasn't alone anymore. She breathed a shaky sigh of relief. She let herself cry and cry into his chest until she had nothing left, and after a while her sobs turned into shaky gasps, and finally quiet sniffles. She felt better now, still cold and wet and way fatigued, but not or angry or upset, just emotionally drained, it was a sort of numbness.
When Darien felt her tears subside, they stood up and he wrapped his sports coat around her still frigid form.
"Hey, I'm headed to my apartment, come and get dry, I could make you a cup of hot cocoa?" Serena opened her mouth to protest, she was sure this kindness was some fluke and didn't want to overextend it but he replied before she could say anything.
"I insist." Well if he was offering hot cocoa, she wasn't going to fight him.
Once inside his warmly lit apartment, he gave her another once over. She was an absolute mess. Her hair was knotted and stringy, definitely had the bird's nest factor, her faced was ashen and tear stained, lips were bluish (that was bizarre, she must have been out in the rain longer then he thought) her cloths were drenched and she was dead on her feet.
"Why don't you go take a warm shower while I make some hot chocolate?"
Serena's brow furrowed, was this really the same guy from the arcade? If so, she smiled inwardly at the thought of him possessing the capability to be kind, no, incredibly sweet and protective, even though she never got to see it.
"Oh, really Darien I can't impose like that!" She knew she was being silly to reject the offer, especially when she was STILL freezing, but wouldn't that be weird? Taking a shower in DARIEN'S apartment?
"Meatball head, it looks like you're suffering from pneumonia, please go take a shower." Well, she wouldn't reject such a glorious offer twice.
Serena shuffled her now slippered feet in the kitchen to take a seat in front of a steaming mug of hot chocolate. She had on dry clothes now (Darien lent her some sweatpants he had grown out of, but were still big on her, and a t-shirt which Serena noticed smelled like him, which meant it smelled really really good.)
"Thanks Darien, for everything" She said truly grateful
"Really Serena, its nothing, I couldn't leave you out there like that, I'm not the complete heartless monster you seemed to think I am" He grinned, but then noticed how the hands holding her mug were trembling.
"Serena are you STILL cold?"
She looked up sheepishly at him, she still was.
"Here take this" He pulled the preppy cashmere sweater he had changed into over his head and tossed it to her. She put it on, it was obviously big for her but the cashmere soo cozy against her skin, with the extra size she could wrap it about her like a blanket, and the musky hot-guy smell of it had her in heaven.
"Thanks" What else could she say?
"Now, do you want to tell me why I found you crying outside the arcade?"
A blush crept up through her pallid skin.
"I got locked out of my house…and all my friends were busy doing whatever so I had absolutely nowhere to go, and then it started raining and…" She didn't know how to finish. She couldn't pinpoint the exact reason why for her tears, it was just the accumulation of everything. She really hoped he wouldn't ask about it. Too late.
"And you were sobbing because…?"
"Because…" she looked around the small room trying to come up with words, "because, I just couldn't fight it anymore. You know that feeling when you've tried hard to be so strong for so long, but then everything just comes together at once and its just easier to breakdown then it is to hold it together anymore? It was kind of like that… I was just so, so exhausted (she was not going to tell him why) and so cold, and getting soaked to the bone, irritated at myself for my own stupidity, which then escalated to being angry at everything going on in my life and it just….felt better to cry…."
He nodded in understanding, he knew the feeling. There was an easy silence between the two.
"When are your parents getting home?" He asked after a moment
"8 o'clock" They glanced at the clock, it was only 5 now. Darien looked back at Serena and saw the bags under her eyes.
"Hey, I have some school work I have to finish, but if you want you can go take a nap while you wait for your parents"
"Oh Darien, that would be so nice you don't understand!"
"Ok, the bedroom's over there around the corner, if you need and extra blanket they're in the closet"
"Thanks, really, thanks soo much"
"Not a problem, you look like you're going to pass out any minute now" He grinned lopsidedly at her. "It's the least I could do" Serena felt a pull on her heart. He was being so nice to her! She also wouldn't kid herself by saying his looks had nothing to do with it. As she walked down the hallway, she reflected on the moment they had just had. It was so normal, so civil, so easy. She wished all her conversations could be like that, and she realized she really REALLY like this side of him.
His room was nice, orderly, but she only had eyes for the bed right under the window. At last, relief! As she snuggled in among the blankets, feeling again the cashmere of his sweater around her, and the down of his comforter. His scent washed over her and she breathed it in deeply. She could get used to this… Then the sound of…classical music, came floating into the room, Darien must like to work to it, she thought. What a strange guy…but she didn't mind the music, it gave this whole situation a more dream like quality. She shivered (god, how could she still be cold!? Must have been that stupid youma after all). Pulling the blankets in closely, she drifted to sleep with the melodious sounds of an enchanting piano echoing in her ears.
In the other room Darien turned on the music he used when he wanted to concentrate, but found he still couldn't concentrate. He kept thinking about Serena. The image of her crying in the rain haunted him. He admitted to himself, he missed her fire, her strength. Their arguments always had so much life! The energy in her eyes when she glared at him when they bantered, he realized was the same energy that came from her bright smile whenever she was happy, the one he always saw from afar. And he loved that energy, he might have been addicted to it. Maybe that's why he was always mean to her, because he couldn't figure out how to make her smile, so he had to get it another way. That energy seemed to be missing from Serena now, and it felt like he had hole inside of him that craved it more then ever. He needed her to be whole, he needed Serena to be happy and spirited again, he needed Serena. Shoot! He. Needed. Serena. That was a revelation. A little agitated and confused with this, he found himself walking to the room where Serena was sleeping. He leaned against the doorframe, and watched at her.
She wasn't sleeping peacefully. Her mouth was down turned, brow furrowed slightly, her face was still pale. He wondered if she was still cold. He walked over and sat gingerly on the side of the bed. Ever so slowly he put his hand to her cheek. Two things happened at once. He gasped, it was like ice! How could that be, he wondered. She had showered and she was wrapped in so many layers, and the heat was on. The other thing that happened was that at his touch, Serena's whole body calmed. Her muscled relaxed, her face became peaceful, and she leaned into his touch unconsciously. Darien used his other hand to push the hair from her face, and at the feel of warm fingertips brushing across her forehead, Serena smiled a little in her sleeping state.
Well he could do one of two things. He could get up and get her another blanket, hope that was enough to keep her warm and get back to his school work, or he could lay down beside her and hold her till she was warm in his arms. The second option seemed out of the question at first but as he watched her longer and saw the chills that racked her body, her pretty porcelean face the color of death, it started to win her over. He threw whatever it was inside of him that had kept them distant from each other to the wind and slid in beside her. He was on his side and gently put his arms around her, hoping not to wake her. He was curious to see what her reaction would be and whether or not he would wake up with a black eye. He pulled her back to his chest and felt every line of their bodies align. He could feel her chills through her cloths and snuggled in even closer. Serena seemed to have melted into this embrace. He lowered his face to her hair and breathed in deeply, the smell was intoxicating. Though the body he was holding onto was cold and not all too cozy, the comfort of the bed, the feel of being in contact with other person, the mesmerizing sound of the rain outside, and have Serena's scent permeate his brain so entirely he couldn't think straight all lulled him to sleep within moments.
An hour or so later Serena awoke. She glanced at the clock, it was 7. She sighed contentedly, she was so warm, so snuggly and wrapped up it felt like heaven. She went to go snuggle in closer to the source of heat behind her, only to find something solid. Then she felt the strong arms that were wrapped around her and felt how the body behind her was emanating so much warmth it was bliss. In her groggy state she pushed herself even closer to the warmth so that there was no space between them, the contact felt so euphoric, they fit together so well, she wanted to stay like this forever. But then she realized the only man this could be was Darien and she gasped. This was Darien who fit against her like two halves of a heart? And Darien who had willingly gone so far as to sleep next her and give her his warmth? Darien had really taken her out of the rain, given her fresh clothes, a warm shower, hot chocolate, and a place to sleep? It couldn't be, it just couldn't be! But there was no explanation was what else it could be. Darien had done all that. Darien did have a heart (like he had said) and he had been so kind to her, it made her heart constrict. She felt his hot breath against her neck and it made her breath hitch. So now Darien wasn't just the most handsome man she had ever met, but he had his arms around her, and he had shown her that he has the capacity for love and kindness, the very thing she fought so hard for as Sailor Moon. In that instant she fell in love with the boy…man….knight in shining armor, behind her. She turned ever so slowly in his arms so she could see his face.
"Darien?" she whispered tentatively. She didn't want this moment to end, but she had to see his reaction, to see if this was the same man she wanted to love just a moment ago. She brushed a soft hand against his cheek, and slowly his eyelids fluttered open. With this angel of a girl before him he thought he was still dreaming. He gazed down at her with sleepy eyes any Serena couldn't see any shock or regret or confusion in them, just a glimmer of something made her breath hitch again.
"Darien" She whispered again cautiously, her eyes still searching his, waiting for a reaction that would push her away.
"Serena" he breathed.
"Why…-" she wanted to know why he was being like this, what had changed within him, why they were lying like this and feeling like this. Why everything.
"I…-" He didn't know what to say. I love you? Maybe, but he wasn't sure. I need you? Too desperate. I can't stop being around you, you make me feel alive and I'm addicted to your fire. It would sound too hoaky if he actually said that out loud. So he didn't say anything. Instead he just looked at her. Her eyes were bright with…something. Her cheeks had color, her lashes were dark and long, her hair was golden like corn silk. When she brought her eyes up to meet his gaze, her lips were so unbearably close to his. He leant his head down so their foreheads were touching gently. He closed his eyes. This was some sort of magic he had never felt before.
And he couldn't pinpoint right then why he kissed her, it must have been the soft music that was still playing, and rain outside, and the heat between them. Also her warm breath tickling his cheek and her smell intoxicating him and her tempting beauty right before him, all combining into one and pulling him irrevocably towards her so there wasn't any possible way to get closer. And he kissed her so softly at first, afraid she would get scared and flee out of his life forever. But then he felt her kiss back, and his heart soared and pulse ran a little quicker. He kept one hand on the small of her back keeping her close to him, and ran the other through the softest hair he had ever felt. He deepened the kiss and felt both her hands entwine around his back. She kissed him with fire, and he kissed her back until she was breathless.
"Serena" he breathed
"Darien" she whispered. It was hard to form a sentence with him so close their noses were touching "I'm definitely not cold anymore"
"Are a sure about that?" There was a twinkle in his eye
"Yes" she grinned at him
"Let me make sure" Then he kissed her again, and heat flood her, and she had found blissful oblivion.
She wondered errantly how she could have possibly ended up like this (kissing Darien!!) but then again, she mused, when your friend has blue hair, and another can shoot fire out of her hands, and your cat talks, and Serena Tsukino of all people was Sailor Moon, anything was possible. Ha, Darien could be Tuxedo Mask for all she knew.