Disclaimer: Sailormoon does not belong to yours truly. This story was inspired by Moonlight Resonance, which I felt could have developed the relationship between the second son and the doctor a lot more.
Author's Notes: All comments and criticisms welcome. Please review!
The Good Guy
By Phantasy Star
"You didn't have to pick me up from the airport, Darien."
Darien took a glance back as he clicked the button on his car key. Serena was cheerfully swinging her purse as she took her clip-on sunglasses out of her pocket.
"You hinted at it pretty strongly when you gave me your flight number, the exact time of arrival, and airport terminal," he teased as they stopped in front of his car in the airport parking lot, and he lifted her bright orange suitcase into the trunk.
"I wanted you to know in case something happened to me!" she exclaimed defensively, laughing.
They got into the car and he turned towards her, "So, how were your two months visiting Raye and Mina?"
Darien turned the wheel and stole a glance at his ex-girlfriend of six years. The sunlight dipped into the car through the roof window, giving her already beautiful face a warm glow. When she turned towards him, he looked quickly away.
"It was perfect," Serena answered enthusiastically, "I'm so glad I had these two months free before I start my social work internship at the hospital. Mina's concert sold out, and Raye is busy arranging the next tour even before this one ends. Raye really is an amazing agent – don't tell her I said that."
Serena sighed, "As happy as I am with how successful they are, I still really miss them. Lita's been studying cooking in France for three years now and Amy's been working as a medical intern in the States for two. I know that if I really needed them, they'd get on the next plane to Tokyo, but... it's just not the same, you know?"
"I guess you'll have to settle with me for now," Darien joked.
She turned to him and laughed smugly, "I guess so. I have to admit though, ever since you came back from America, I've been a lot happier."
Half an hour later, the car turned into the driveway of her apartment building.
She faced him, "Hey, Darien, want to grab dinner tonight? I have a craving for Italian food and I couldn't find a decent pizzeria anywhere in Kowloon."
He nodded, "Sure. How does Martucci's Ristorante sound?"
"Like you read my mind."
He climbed out and lifted her suitcases out of the trunk. She grinned. "See you tonight, Darien."
She walked towards her apartment building with the light, cheery air she retained from her high school days. He stared after her with a hopeful, almost goofy smile on his face. With a sigh, he got into his car and drove towards the sunset.
That night, Darien was snoring lightly when the phone rang. He felt for his cell phone on the night stand with blurry eyes and answered.
"Hello?" he mumbled.
He sat up in his bed quickly at the sound of Serena's voice, turning on the lamp and rubbing his eyes.
"You're not sleeping yet, are you?" she said worriedly.
He cleared his throat as quickly as he could. "No, of course not," he lied, "It's only midnight. I was about to make myself something to eat."
"Seriously? I thought you'd be as stuffed as I am after our huge Italian feast," Serena said, then sighed, "Darien, I can't sleep – I think I have jet lag. Tomorrow's my first day at the hospital as a social worker. I don't want to be tired at work, what am I going to do?"
Darien thought for a moment.
"All right," he said as he bent over the edge of the bed and grabbed his anatomy textbook on the floor, "This is bound to help."
Serena sounded doubtful, "What do you have in mind?"
Darien flipped open the anatomy textbook to the page which he had been reading.
Using his most droning voice, he started, "Soft tissue sarcomas have been linked within families, so it is hypothesized that neurofibrosarcoma may be genetic, although researchers still do not know the exact cause of the disease…"
He heard a light giggle from Serena. He covered a yawn with his hand, his eyes strained in reading the small-font text.
With a slight frown on his face to keep his voice from wavering, he continued reading, "Evidence supporting this hypothesis includes loss of heterozygosity on the 17p chromosome. The p53, a tumor suppressor gene in the normal population, genome on 17p in neurofibrosarcoma patients is mutated…"
On the other side of the line, Serena felt herself drifting off to Darien's deep and monotonous voice. A few minutes later, she dropped her phone lightly on her pillow and was sound asleep with a faint smile on her face.
Darien frowned when he heard the voicemail prompt again. "Hotaru," he said into the cell phone, "Come on, pick up. Setsuna's very worried about you, and so am I – we all are. Whatever the problem is, just call me and we can talk about it. I promise I won't tell anyone. Hotaru, please call me back."
Darien clicked his phone off worriedly with one hand, the other hand turning the steering wheel as he circled the same block for the fifth time. He tried to keep his eyes on the road while looking out for any signs of the young girl.
Over the past few years he had gotten to know Hotaru well. He visited her often after her father passed away and she moved in with Setsuna. Darien had always felt a connection with the young girl, and she took a liking to him as well. His years at the orphanage convinced him that everyone could use a father figure in their life, or at least a big brother.
He turned on his car headlights. It was already seven o'clock and the sky had turned almost completely dark. He stepped on the gas pedal anxiously.
Then he took his cell phone out of his pocket with one hand and dialled Serena's number.
"Serena, it's me. Hotaru ran away from home and we can't find her. I've tried her school, her best friend's house, her piano teacher's… You have any idea where else she could have gone?"
Her voice was worried, "There are a few places I can think of. Listen, I'm just getting off of work. Why don't you pick me up and we'll look together?"
Darien and Serena drove into the playground parking lot. He sighed in relief when he saw Hotaru on the swings, not noticing that they were there. Her eyes were downcast, and she swung sullenly by herself.
"I'll go get her," Darien said quickly, unbuckling his seatbelt.
"No, let her be by herself," Serena urged, "She probably wants some time alone."
He sighed, turning towards her, "Okay, I guess you're right. I want to stay here with her until she's ready to go home. You don't have to wait with me."
"No, I want to make sure she's okay too," Serena said.
"Are you sure? This might take a while, and you haven't had dinner yet…"
He turned to look when he heard her rummage through her purse.
"A chocolate bar?" he said, surprised.
"Don't look at me like that!" she exclaimed as she pulled one out, breaking it into two, "It's brain food."
"You haven't changed at all, have you?" he chuckled, reaching his hand out to take the half she offered him.
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Then she turned to him brightly.
"Oh yeah, how are you doing with Saori? It's getting pretty serious, huh?"
"We broke up," he said simply.
She gasped, "Oh, Darien, I'm so sorry! What happened?"
He shrugged, "You know… Sometimes these things just don't work out. I'm okay though. It's been almost a month."
"That long? Why didn't you tell me while I was on my trip?"
"It didn't seem important," Darien said nonchalantly.
Just then, his cell phone signalled a message. He took it out of his pocket.
Dar Dar, I'm sorry I didn't call you back. It's eleven o'clock now. I'm alone at the park, there aren't any taxis around, and I'm scared. Can you come and pick me up? -Hota.
He handed it to Serena and she smiled as she read it. Then he stepped on the pedal and drove up next to the swings.
Hotaru's face brightened in surprise when the car headlights hit the swing set.
Darien leaned out the car window and grinned.
"Come on, princess. Your pumpkin coach is here."
"I think I like this boy in my class," Hotaru admitted, "He's smart and nice and good-looking. Setsuna says I shouldn't think about boys yet. She says I should only think about studying. That's all she cares about, my grades. She doesn't care about my feelings at all."
Darien frowned as he listened to Hotaru's story. They sat at an overnight pizzeria with Serena, but the pizza in front of them remained untouched.
"Of course she cares about your feelings," Darien said gently, "She just probably forgot what it's like to be your age. If you tell her the whole story, I'm sure she'd understand."
"But I'm not even sure myself whether I like him," Hotaru said hesitantly, "I think I do, but…"
Darien found himself grateful that Serena was there. This was a situation that he would handle probably even more poorly than Setsuna.
"Sometimes it's not easy to tell," Serena said, putting a hand over Hotaru's, "Especially a first love. If you're not sure, it might be a sign that you should wait a bit. Until you really know."
Darien took a sip of his Coke and stole a glance at Serena at the same time, his heart warming at her gentle tone.
Hotaru frowned and looked up at the two adults, "Darien, Serena... What's a first love really like?"
Darien caught Serena's eyes briefly.
He chuckled, "More trouble than it's worth."
Serena stifled a laugh and glared at him playfully. Hotaru turned her attention towards Serena expectantly.
Serena blushed, "I had my first boyfriend when I was only sixteen. And it was... magical."
Darien looked at her, surprise marking his face.
"I don't think I feel like that towards the boy in my class..." Hotaru admitted, "At least not magical."
Darien reached out to ruffle Hotaru's hair gently, "Then wait a while, you have plenty of time to find someone you really like. Come on, let's finish this pizza and get you home."
A moment later, Darien was driving Serena home after having dropped Hotaru off at Setsuna's apartment. They had asked Setsuna not to lecture the young girl too much.
"So, my relationship with you was more trouble than it was worth, huh?" Serena said playfully, turning to him from the passenger's seat, "You know, I only said my first love was magical because I didn't want Hotaru to lose all faith in romance. To tell you the truth, my relationship with you caused me a lot of emotional damage. That's why I never dated again after being with you."
Darien chuckled, "Have you considered the damage done to my psyche? No amount of social work can fix me."
Serena laughed, "I can probably get a pretty large sum of money if I sue you for my emotional baggage."
"All right, Miss Tsukino. I will see you in court."
As she giggled, he stole another look at her, his heart warming.
His first love had been magical too.
Darien's eyes flickered with excitement as he put the carefully handwritten cardboard note on to the top of the chocolates.
He had spent almost an hour arranging the box, putting the roses between the chocolates and setting the note on top. He had written and rewritten the four-words note many times.
I still love you.
He smiled. It was true: he still cared for her.
Darien sighed. Perhaps he had been able to let go of Serena the first few years after they had broken up. He had told himself not to think anymore about pursuing her, that she had given up on him a long time ago and he had to give up on her too.
But, when he met her again as an adult, after he had returned to Tokyo from his studies in America, he felt familiar feelings rushing back.
Even while he was dating Saori, a part of him was still yearning for her, the bubbly blonde who had grown to be a gentle and compassionate young woman. She still had a special way of connecting with people, and somehow, he felt that she was still the only one who really understood him.
He picked up the note and set it down carefully again. Finally satisfied, he closed the lid over the box of chocolates and smiled.
'Serena… I hope you feel the same way about me.'
"Thanks for the ride home, Darien," Serena said tiredly, "I didn't think how exhausted I'd be after my first day as an intern. I know social work is all about talking, but listening to story after story and figuring out how to address each problem, it's pretty taxing."
"Uh-huh," she heard him say.
Serena turned towards him sitting on the driver's seat, his eyes focused stoically on the road.
She frowned, "Darien, are you all right? You haven't said much of anything since we got into the car. Not that you're normally a talker, but today… Are you okay?"
He turned towards her briefly, giving her an obviously forced smile, "Sorry, tired day at work, I guess."
She decided to drop it.
The car came to a gentle stop outside her apartment building.
"Hey, I got you something," he said, "As congratulations for surviving your first day of work."
She waited as he reached to the back of his car seat and produced a thin black box. She gasped excitedly as she took it from him, "You didn't have to do this!"
She was about to open the lid when he put his hand quickly over hers.
"Open it at home," he said with a nervous grin, "It's a surprise."
"This'd better not be a practical joke," she frowned.
He glared at her playfully, "Is this how you always think of me?"
She laughed, "Sorry, sometimes I forget that we're not teenagers anymore."
She opened the car door and stepped out, but not before turning around and flashing him a grateful smile, "Thanks, Darien."
Serena turned the key to her apartment and went inside. Putting her purse on her table and turning on the light, she took Darien's present out carefully. Her fingers were lifting the lid when a knock on the door interrupted her.
She ran lightly to the door and peeked through the eyehole. She gasped, her legs becoming weak. She took a step back, then pressed her face against the door again to make sure she was not imagining things.
Then she threw the door open.
"Seiya!" she whispered in amazement.
He looked almost the same as he did seven years ago, except his hair was slightly shorter and his frame even taller. She noticed the same intelligently sharp brown eyes and cocky grin he sported when she first met him. He wore a classy black jacket over a dark purple sweater, an outfit she recognized.
"I've missed you!" she cried incredulously as she hugged him.
"Me too, Odango," he said.
"What are you doing here?" she asked as she pulled away, looking into his eyes excitedly, "Are you back for good? How'd you know where I live? Wait, no, that's not that important. Answer me whether you're back for good first!"
He laughed, his eyes dancing cheerfully.
"I'll tell you everything if you come outside with me for a bit," he said teasingly.
She didn't hesitate, "Of course!"
A few moments later, she found herself sitting in an empty auditorium, watching the lone performer on stage.
"In the brightly shining world of white,
With your wings spread out wide you are there."
Serena's heart pounded heavily against her chest. Seiya's voice resonated powerfully throughout the empty auditorium.
They had broken into the stadium where most of Seiya's concerts took place, much to Serena's reluctance. But that reluctance was quickly fading as all she could think about was the man on the concert platform.
She remembered how excited she and the girls were when they went to one of Three Lights' concerts. Now there was only one performer, one soloist. No backdrop, no background singers, no audience except her. But it was more thrilling than ever.
"But those wings are so black and heavy on you,
That you look like you're being crushed by your destiny." (footnote 1)
And even though he stood all the way at the front of the stage, it felt like she could feel his breath on her face and his voice against her ears.
Darien sat at his desk, his hand gripping his cell phone tightly.
Why hadn't she called him yet?
He turned to look out the window at the clear sky, a frown on his face. Then his eyes wandered back to the unmoving cell phone in his hand. He rested his chin on his arm, staring at the inactive screen.
'Serena… what's your answer?'
Serena lay on the hood of Seiya's car next to him, looking up at the night sky. The stars shone brightly above them, and Serena thought she could make out the figure of a rose in the sky. The night air felt cold against her skin but her face was flushed. A million thoughts raced through her mind.
While Seiya was on Earth, she had never seen him as a potential boyfriend. In the recent years, long after she and Darien had separated, she occasionally wondered what would have happened if she had met Seiya first. If the girls were right, if Seiya did in fact have feelings for her, how would she have felt about that?
His soft voice interrupted the silence.
"Serena…" he said quietly, "The past few years have been difficult. Taiki, Yaten and I worked hard to rebuild our home planet Kinmoku. There was so much devastation from Galaxia's attack, I worried that we would never be able to revive the proud civilization that was once Kinmoku.
"But we worked hard. We got people together, from all areas of industry and with all types of expertise. We tried our best to develop a new and sustainable political and civil infrastructure for our people. We salvaged everything we could from the ruins and rebuilt homes for civilians. We forged a new set of laws governing the new Kinmoku.
"It took us a long time, and all of our energy. But slowly, little by little, we pulled it off. People are finally feeling settled again. People are finally learning to be happy.
He paused, "Well… except me."
His eyes were closed now and her breaths grew shallower at his words.
"I couldn't stop thinking about you," he admitted, "Even though I love my home planet, I know that Kinmoku is no longer my home. It didn't matter how much effort I put into rebuilding Kinmoku, I knew I would never be happy there. Odango… My home is Earth, here with you. And to answer your last question… Whether or not I stay here for good depends entirely on you."
"Seiya, I…" she said softly, not sure what her next words would be.
"Come on, Odango," Seiya said, turning more fully towards her and resting his head on his elbow, "You said that you and Darien broke up a long time ago. Why won't you give me a chance?"
He took her hand in his and she blushed.
It was almost morning when Serena got home. She threw her keys on the kitchen counter and sat down at her desk, both her heart and head feeling heavy.
Absentmindedly, she reached for the box Darien had given her. She opened it and smiled, greeted by the scent of her favorite chocolates. Thinking back, she was surprised at how close they had gotten after he had come back from America. He was just like an older brother to her, always dependable, always caring.
At least there was some consistency in her life she could hang on to.
Then she noticed the carefully set piece of white cardboard paper at the center of the box, placed amidst the chocolates and roses. She recognized Darien's perfect handwriting right away. Her smile faded.
I still love you.
Her mouth fell open.
(footnote 1) The lyrics are from GingaIchi Mibun Chigai Na Kataomoi, Seiya's main theme from Sailor Stars.
See if you can spot a nod to another 'fic from one of my favorite authors on ff dot net!