Everyone loves aimless banter from Mamoru and Usagi (or I do, anyway). This little piece started out having a point, but the idea of writing something worthwhile was soon destroyed. Probably because I didn't stop soon enough. I just really liked the idea of Usagi and Mamoru having a really pointless transformation-battle-failure for no good reason.
This takes place after the R arc ends and before S begins. Yes, I rewatched an episode or two to refresh my memory. Yes, I did that halfway through writing this - so if there are any inconsistencies, please let me know.
Disclaimer: I don't own Usagi/Sailor Moon or Mamoru/Tuxedo Kamen, except in my mind, which is a very special place where lawsuits are not allowed.
His classes were late that day, and when he finally got home, Mamoru barely had time to drop his books on the kitchen counter before a knock rattled the door to his apartment.
It was sincerely remarkable, he thought, striding over to unlatch the lock, how just hearing those three syllables from an all-too-familiar voice could drag a smile over his face. He inched the door open just a crack and poked an eye through the slit. "Who goes there?" he said in a low voice.
Usagi raised her head; he met her eyes, overflowing with concern, and immediately dropped the playful attitude. "What's wrong, Usako?" He wrenched the door fully open.
Her lower lip quivered pitifully. "I worked so hard, Mamo-chan," she said, her voice cracked and wobbling. "You helped me so much, and I got help from Ami-chan, too, and I studied on my own and I tried my absolute hardest…" She pressed a scrunched paper into his hands while hanging her head in shame. Mamoru fought back a grin as he watched her odangos pop up from the back of her head.
"Let's see, then," he said solemnly, and turned over the paper. A large red mark designated her grade: an eighty-three percent. "Usako!" he said. "What are you so sad about? This is much better!"
She glanced up once more, tears pooling in her eyes; the lip shuddered uncontrollably. "It's just - it was my absolute hardest, and if this is my absolute hardest…" Her fists balled up at her sides and her entire body began to quake in despair and frustration.
Mamoru sighed inwardly and stepped forward to crush her into his chest. Her arms looped around his waist as the tears exploded in a gush of sobs against his shirt. "H-h-how can I p-p-possibly be worthy to… to rule Crystal Tokyo if… if my absolute h-hardest is an eighty-three…" She broke off with a quiet wail and clutched desperately at his shirt from behind, tightening the collar almost uncomfortably against his throat. With a grip as strong as hers, Mamoru thought wryly, he wouldn't be surprised if she tore it straight in half.
"Come on, Usako," he muttered, gently leading her into the apartment and tapping the door shut with his foot. His shirt remained within her iron grasp all the while, and he abandoned the idea of perhaps moving into the apartment; instead, he rubbed her back soothingly, kissed that soft hair between her odangos, shushed her in murmurs. Finally, she emerged, sniveling rapidly, her chest still heaving at an uncanny pace. Taking one of her hands from behind, he led her to the couch and ducked into the bathroom to procure a box of tissues. She gratefully blew her nose with the grace of a loud goose honk.
"Sorry, Mamo-chan," she whispered, her voice now raw and dry. "I always do that to you."
"Don't be," he mumbled back, drawing an arm around her shoulders. She scooted closer into his embrace and laid her head on his collarbone; silence enshrouded them, broken sporadically by the odd sniffle from Usagi.
"Usako?" said Mamoru after a while.
"I've got a hunch," he said. "Is this about Chibiusa?"
He felt her grow still and contemplative in his arms. "Maybe," she said, very slowly. "Maybe it is. I miss her, Mamo-chan. All I ever did was fight with her and I miss her… and to think, I was so mean to her, when all along she was my… she was my…"
She couldn't bring herself to say it.
Mamoru heaved a low sigh. "Usako," he said, "during times such as these, I feel it is my duty to remind you of something."
She glanced up at him, surprised and slightly suspicious at his sudden formality. "What?"
He leaned down to her ear and said softly, "You're only fifteen -" He poked her shoulder gently. "-kid."
"Kid?" she said in outrage, shrugging out of his arm. "Chiba Mamoru, you name one other kid in the world who just traveled to the future and destroyed the enemies that even her own future self couldn't take on, alright, and then maybe you can call me kid, but only then!"
He chuckled to himself and crossed his arms.
"What's so funny?" she cried, her tear-stained face blotched with red patches of indignation.
"Oh, nothing," he replied vaguely. "You've just proved my point, is all."
Her eyes narrowed. "Your point?"
"Mmhm." He extracted one arm to fiddle with the end of one of her pigtails. "You have to be the oldest fifteen I've ever met. There is no other girl your age who's been put up against the same things you've fought - and beaten. But you're still just fifteen, Usako, and that's far too young to have a daughter."
The word was out, and Usagi flinched quite noticeably.
Unperturbed, Mamoru continued, "Chibiusa was like your little sister. Siblings fight. Give yourself a break once and a while, and take an eighty-three percent, hm?"
She sat quite still for a long time, processing this, a pronounced frown etched over her features. "I heard someone say once," she murmured, "that if we were graded in real life like we were in school, we'd all be dead meat." Then she giggled, blushing a rosy pink that smoothed out her flushed face. "Oh. Wasn't that you who said that, Mamo-chan?"
He grinned. "I think it was."
Tucking her legs up onto the couch, she leaned into him with a sigh. "You're very wise."
He rested his cheek atop her hair. "I've accepted that as my fate, yes."
He could almost feel her brow snap down. "And humble?" she prodded him acerbically.
"Oh, absolutely." Mamoru felt the grin spreading wider, and marveled at how easy it was to smile around her. He was frequently facetious around his friends, a trait which went over their heads as often as not (in Motoki's case, especially), but he never got as much enjoyment out of it as he did with Usagi. "That too, very humble."
She elbowed him in the ribs, but lost her balance in the process and flopped across his lap with a brief shriek. She looked so funny there, half on her side and half on her back, her eyes wide in surprise, her hair twisted around her neck, that beautiful pink flush still gracing her cheeks - He didn't even know he was kissing her until, well, he was.
She responded briefly but broke away far too soon, seemingly content just to curl up against him with her breath gently nuzzling his neck.
"Sorry," said Mamoru after a pause. "Bad timing?"
"Well…" He felt her shudder slightly. "Mamo-chan, I - I'm scared."
Of all things, he certainly hadn't expected that. "Of what?"
She sighed again and took his hand, pressed it under her chin. "Isn't it just so…" She mulled over her words carefully. "… so unnatural to know our future? I mean, it's just not right. We shouldn't know what we're going to do before we do it, and we shouldn't know what happens before… before it does. How can we ever feel like we've got choices to make, otherwise? How can I…" She swallowed heavily. "How can I dream about doing the things I've always wanted to do, like… like… I don't know. Just crazy whims, like being in movies with Minako-chan, or… but yeah, what about the others, Mamo-chan? Mako-chan wants her cake shop so badly, and Ami-chan wants to be a doctor, and Rei-chan wants… wants to boss people around and make lots of money, and how are they supposed to do that if they're all just going to end up as Senshi in Crystal Tokyo in who knows how many years?" She finished her rant and took a deep breath. "It's just not right, knowing the future. We'd live differently if we didn't."
Mamoru frowned to himself. "I can see why you're so concerned, Usako, but… time travel's tricky business." He snorted; the words sounded so ridiculous to him. "Time travel, can you believe it? People have been writing about it for ages, and we're the ones who've actually experienced it."
Usagi lifted her chin to smirk at him. "Let me see: Mamo-chan has always dreamed of being a science fiction hero, right?"
For all that Rei was the self-proclaimed sarcastic one of the Senshi, Usagi sure could give her a run for her money. "I might have been mildly intrigued by the subject at one point, perhaps," he said loftily.
Usagi giggled and kissed his jaw. "You're such a geek, Mamo-chan." She snuggled into his shoulder. "So are you going to tell me why I shouldn't be afraid now?"
She did sound rather impatient to be relieved of her worries. "Well," he said, his voice calm and even, "we are where we are. We know what we know. All we can do is live for today, going on what we have."
"I thought of that myself," said Usagi disparagingly.
"I'm terribly sorry for repeating one of your thoughts," Mamoru replied with the utmost respect.
Usagi laughed. "What I meant was, I thought of that myself, and -" She paused emphasize the importance of her intention to carry on.
"Please continue," Mamoru said drily.
She snickered, a nasally little sound that for all its impudence was irrevocably adorable. "And, it makes me wonder, why we never live for today anyway. I mean, I want to ignore everything that happened in the future, but then knowing that things will end up that way is so… not motivational. But if I didn't know what was going to happen, I would be living and doing my school work and aiming for a future that might not even happen before… you know. The real future comes around, and then it doesn't matter if I know geometry."
"It could come in handy," Mamoru pointed out in his most sensible tone. "You never know."
"Eurgh, but Mamo-chan, it makes my brain hurt!" She clutched her head between her hands dramatically.
"Geometry, or trying to construct a valid philosophy?"
"Both," she said decisively.
Absentmindedly, he tugged at the collar of her school fuku. "We could live for the moment, then," he suggested, "and play poker."
Immediately her eyes lit up. "Okay!" And once more, her face fell abruptly – rather like a roller coaster, he thought distantly. "But Mamo-chan, I didn't bring any chips…"
A predicament, indeed; he didn't have any of his own, which was why Usagi frequently stole her father's. He lifted Usagi's leg up, ignoring her squeals of surprise, to get better access to his pocket. "Don't have much change," he said, finding mostly bills, and ground his teeth together thoughtfully. "We could play strip poker?" he suggested on a whim.
"Eurgh, Mamo-chan!" That reaction seemed to be popular today. She immediately shuffled off his lap and ended up, predictably enough, on the floor. With one look at her disgruntled uniform and matching expression, Mamoru couldn't help but howl with laughter.
"I was joking, Usako!" he said through snickers.
With an air of great dignity, Usagi stood, straightened her skirt, and picked up her bag which had been discarded at their feet, and marched toward the door. "You," she said over her shoulder, "Chiba Mamoru, you are a pervert." She stuck her nose in the air.
He was still laughing; he couldn't help it, she made such a scene. "Come on, Usako, don't leave yet. We could bet with cookies."
A spark ignited in her eye like flint on steel. "Cookies?" she said, a jittery voice betraying her composed features.
Mamoru smirked. "Cookies."
"You get them," said Usagi, meandering back over with a rather forced air of complete detachment. She dug beneath the coffee table to withdraw the pack of cards. "I'll deal."
"No cheating," he ordered, rising from the couch to procure said cookies.
"Do I seem like the type to cheat, Mamoru-baka?" Usagi demanded shrilly.
"I always have to watch out with you, odango atama," he returned. The kitchen fairly lit up from his grin; that girl went through emotions faster than she went through breaths. Never a boring moment with Usako, he thought to himself with satisfaction, as he reached up to the cabinet and dug out her coveted prize. He kept them tucked safely under his arm as he returned to the table where she had set up their game; Usako could never be trusted for a moment around anything sweet.
As he sat on the floor across from her, she met his eyes with a cold glare. "I've decided," she said icily, "that I deserve two extra cookies for being called odango atama."
"I thought you decided you liked that after all," said Mamoru in a perfected attitude of nonchalance.
"Not when there are cookies at stake," she replied briskly. They stared each other down, and he watched the realization of her contradiction sink in behind her eyes, which grew milder and began to sparkle softly. The corners of her full lips wobbled; her nose twitched; and she fell backwards onto the floor in a gale of laughter. "What kind of cookies, Mamo-chan?" she asked between giggles.
He should have known that was coming. "Kabocha," he said.
At that, her eyes popped into view over the table; she zeroed in on the package beside him.
"But I have some green tea ones as back-up, knowing the rates you bid at." He tried to ignore how she was practically foaming at the mouth. What a crazy girl.
"Kabocha," she repeated faintly, and Mamoru frowned; perhaps he'd mistook her expression for ravenous, when really there was something almost sentimental blazing from her. "Chibiusa's favorite. I always fought with her over those."
"Usako." It was half-condolence, half-warning.
"I know, I know." She hugged her knees. "I wonder how she's doing, right now."
"I'm sure we can ask her, once she's born," said Mamoru emphatically.
A slight grin perked up her drawn face. "Oh yeah," she said rather impishly. "I keep forgetting she's not alive yet. It seems like she has to be, just in – in a parallel universe or something. This time travel stuff is hard."
He stared at her; she stared at the table. "Usako," he said again, more hesitantly.
Her light eyes flickered up to his.
"I've got another hunch," he admitted.
"Enlighten me, Mamo-chan," she drawled theatrically, sprawling her arms out over the table, which inevitably mussed her card layout.
"I don't think we'll be ruling Crystal Tokyo at any point sooner than we're ready. So there's really no need to imagine yourself doing anything other than what you like."
"Eurgh, but Mamo-chan…!"
Not again, he thought drearily.
"That makes it even harder!" Usagi continued. "Because I have no idea what I want to do with my life!"
"Well, you've got plenty of time to figure it out, and you already know what you're going to end up as anyway – "
"But you just said that I should imagine myself doing something normal!"
"I didn't mean that exactly, Usako, can't you take anything in moderation?"
"– but it's not my fault if you're the one who keeps contradicting yourself – "
"That's because you're not listening! I'm not saying that it's definitely going to be one way or the other – "
"– and you won't give me a straight answer, I'm just trying to figure out what in the world I should be worried about – "
"– I'm just saying that there isn't any need to worry, because either way things will end up how they should eventually!"
"Oh," said Usagi, suddenly at ease. "Well, why didn't you say so?"
Mamoru groaned, rubbing his temples. "Can we just play the damn game already, Usako?"
"I've been ready," she replied haughtily, and straightened her cards. "Hey, Mamo-chan, speaking of hunches…"
He ripped open the pack of cookies and began to divide them into piles. "What about them?"
"I have a hunch you're going down."
He glanced up and noticed her smirk before he realized that the two cards she'd dealt face up in front of herself were both kings. He looked down at his own hand: a four and a nine.
"Odango!" he cried. "What did we just discuss about you not being a cheater?"
"Oh, and that must be it, there isn't any possible way I could just be lucky, no, it must be that I'm compromising my morals!"
He took a fraction of a second to marvel at her usage of a mildly eloquent phrase before retaliating: "Convenient how your luck shoots through the roof when there are cookies involved!"
"Just because I never win any other time, then, I can't have a lucky streak! That is pure injustice, Mamoru – "
"You never had an incentive to cheat when we were playing with chips!"
"I said injustice! And do you know who I am?"
"A kid with an odango hairstyle?" Mamoru returned.
Oh Lord, he thought, here she goes.
"For love and justice – "
"Usako, honestly, are you going to give me that?"
"– I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier, Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I will punish you!" And with that she launched, cat-like, over the table, over the cookies, and crashed into Mamoru, pushing him into the base of the couch.
"No," she growled, her face quite menacing for such a slip of a girl. "Not Jesus. Sailor Moon."
He had to laugh at that, and laugh he did, until he could have cried – and it wasn't even that funny, he knew, but with her making that face, he wouldn't have been surprised if she hadn't meant to make a joke.
He saw the corners of her mouth twitch, but she quickly grabbed up another cookie to disguise any signs of laughter. "Stand up, youma, and face me like a – man?" She shook her head, her pigtails whirling. "And face me like a youma!"
Mamoru cackled again, and stood silently, moving closer until he was hulking over her like some tall sinister shadow. "I am no youma," he whispered in her ear. He saw goose bumps break out over her skin, and grinned to himself.
"No difference," said Usagi coldly. "I will punish you all the same."
"Then watch out, Sailor Moon, because you're dealing with Tuxedo Kamen." He spun once, in place, and that was that; the cape billowed out, the mask settled onto his nose, and the silken caress of rose petals faintly washed over his skin.
"No kidding." Usagi gazed at him blandly, one hand on her hip. "I never would have guessed."
He ignored that, and stared her down, trying to focus the intensity that came so easily when up against an enemy on the lovely girl in front of him. It wasn't easy. "Beautiful maidens who cheat at cards must be punished," he hissed.
"Cape boys who make false accusations must be punished more," Usagi snarled. "Moon Crystal Power Make-Up!"
He faked a yawn as the blurs of colored light surrounded her momentarily, levitating her off the ground, and tried not to squint at her shapely silhouette; it was rather more tempting than it should have been. She's only fifteen, you baka, he scolded himself. She'd call you a pervert.
But he barely had time to blink before Sailor Moon was standing in front of him, her arms folded, her chin high. A sudden furrow edged its way into her brow. "So do I have to make another speech now, or what?"
"Please, spare me," said Mamoru. She glowered heartily.
"Fine then. I challenge you, cape boy, to a duel!"
He rubbed his nose, irritated. "Do you have to call me cape boy?"
"It's what you are – oh, look, you spilled the cookies." She got onto her hands and knees and began to pick up the fallen stack of sweets, while Mamoru stared after her in confusion. He finally found the culprit in a smattering of crumbs atop his cape; he'd probably knocked them over when he transformed. He looked down at Usagi again to find her eating more cookies than she salvaged from the floor.
"So Sailor Moon's weakness has been discovered," he rumbled in his best Black Moon-esque voice. "Kabocha cookies." And extreme distractability, he added to himself.
"Well they're on the floor," said Usagi, her voice muffled by a full mouth, "so I wouldn't want them to…" She swallowed deliberately. "Go to waste."
Mamoru procured a rose – a more or less normal one, save for its exceptional fragrance and beauty – and let it drift to the ground beside Usagi. "Shhhing."
She glared up at him. "Shhhing what?"
"I was narrating." He pointed to the rose at her feet. "I just defeated you with my masterfully thrown poison-tipped rose. Accept your fate."
She gazed at him with the same expression as a bored cow. "It's a flower."
"A poison-tipped flower."
"It didn't even hit me."
"You just didn't notice."
"You're making this up."
"God damn it, Usako, do you actually want me to fight you?"
She grinned wickedly. "Maybe, maybe not."
"You are infuriating." And that skirt is so damn short, he found himself thinking. Fifteen, he repeated to himself quickly. She is fifteen.
"No," she mused, "just hungry." She shoved yet another cookie into her mouth.
"Do you want me to make you something? I wouldn't want you to destroy all the poker chips."
"Oh, is that still on?"
"I think the real question is why aren't we dueling right now?"
"Oh yeah." She stood up again. "Sorry. Easily sidetracked."
"I'll let it go. Where were we?"
"You dropped a non-deadly rose at my feet." She stooped and picked it up, twirling it dexterously between her fingers in order to avoid the thorns. "You know, mortal enemy Tuxedo Kamen, this seems more of a gesture of romance than of battle."
He smiled slightly. "Sometimes cape boys can have mortal enemies with very large appetites and very pretty faces."
"And sometimes Sailor Moon can have mortal enemies who wear tuxedos…" She took a step closer to him, running a finger down his chest. "…and look downright sexy," she finished in a whisper.
Fifteen, he thought quickly. Dammit, Chiba, do not think about her like that.
But he didn't really have time to gain control of his thoughts, because suddenly she was kissing him, and then he couldn't think about anything at all, except how soft and sweet and demanding her lips were, and how light her tongue was, tracing over his mouth, and how his heart was threatening to beat its way straight out of his ribs.
Usagi drew back with a harsh intake of air and, without any warning whatsoever, tackled him straight back onto the couch, pushing him down and hitching her leg up around his waist with the other foot's toes gently stroking the top of his shoe. She drove her lips against his mercilessly, gently teasing his tongue with little flickers of her own until he had no choice but to drive his into her mouth, where she greeted it hungrily. Her hands tangled wildly in his hair, with his pressed against her back; his mask slid lopsided off his nose. She pulled away to breathe a bit and he pressed kisses against her neck, travelled up to the corner of her jaw, made his way across her nose; he felt goose bumps break out over her again and grinned against her cheek. She kissed his eyebrows, his forehead, his ear, even, before their poor deprived mouths met again.
"Usako," he said headily, jerking away, afraid he might go too far if left unhindered.
"What," she whispered against his chin.
"Do you realize how ridiculous this is?"
She slid her other knee up onto the couch so that she crouched over his waist, and cocked her head. "You mean that we're sitting here transformed for no apparent reason?"
"That was my first though, yeah."
"Well I don't care," she insisted boldly. "Do you care?"
They stared at each other for a moment, and in her eyes he saw the same truth that he was too afraid to admit: transformed, they felt a little braver, a little riskier, a little wilder. She smiled widely, affirming their mutual comprehension, before sliding one hand to his neck and kissing him like mad once more.
"Speaking of disguises," said Mamoru, running his nose along her cheekbone, "my pants in Crystal Tokyo were ridiculous." Of all the ways to distract himself, he had to choose pants?
Usagi erupted into laughter against his shoulder. "They were, weren't they? You never had very good fashion sense, though."
Highly affronted, he gaped at her. "What's wrong with it?"
"You always seem like you're going to a job interview," said Usagi frankly. "So uptight." She snickered. "So next time I try to get a summer job, can I borrow those pants?"
"You most certainly may not. They are the highly esteemed pants of King Endymion. There no other pants in the world as fine as they."
"Well I'm glad of one thing," she said. "That we're in these disguises instead of the future ones. That would make this whole thing a little too weird."
"Just because of the pants."
"Of course." She kissed him again, more slowly. "Here's another hunch, Mamo-chan. I love you."
"Usako, that's not a hunch. It's a fact."
She pouted, her lower lip drooping. "I was trying to make it related – erm, relevant? Is that the word?"
"Ten points to odango for vocabulary."
"Will you ever stop making fun of me?"
"Oh no, did that give you a clue to my identity?" He dropped his arm down, picked his mask up off the floor, and gasped. "My identity – it's compromised! She knows who I am!"
"Oh, do I," she growled. "That baka from the arcade who never stops poking fun at my hair."
"Who you were secretly in love with for years."
"I haven't known you for years, Mamoru-baka."
"But 'She secretly adored him for months' sounds much less dramatic."
"I did not secretly adore you. You were a jerk!"
"You did secretly adore Tuxedo Kamen."
"So?" Her eyes flashed in defiance and humor.
"So he's right here!" Mamoru said in what he knew was a rather nonsensical finale to his argument.
"That's true," said Usagi. "I guess I'll take what I can get."
He reached up to kiss her again but she retreated. "You were secretly in love with me," she said, a wide grin on her face. "Admit it. Admit it, admit it." She poked him in the chest with every demand.
"I was secretly, ardently in love with you. Happy?"
"Yes," she said smugly, and she let him kiss her again. "Mamo-chan, we never played poker."
"Strip poker?" he teased.
"Eurgh, Mamo-chan! Pervert!" She slammed the heels of her hands into his chest; he grunted as air whooshed out of him.
"Jesus, Usako, take it easy!" He massaged his ribs.
"I meant cookie poker!" she growled, scooting up to straddle his stomach. "In the name of the moon, I command you to play seven-card stud with me!"
"In the name of all that is holy, I might remind you that you ate all the cookies."
"Still in the name of the moon, I might remind you that I only ate the ones your stupid cape pushed onto the floor, cape boy."
"I'm going to kill Minako for coming up with that," he grumbled. What an obnoxious nickname.
"Almost as good as odango?" Usagi taunted him.
"Not quite," Mamoru said. "You can't use cape boy in public."
"As if people would know what I meant," she said scornfully, tossing her pigtails. "Come on, Tuxedo Kamen. Sailor Moon has decided that your duel will take place over this round of poker." She clambered off of him and began to reshuffle the cards. "And," she added, "Sailor Moon will also prove to you that she is not a cheater."
He swung his legs around and dropped off the couch to sit across from her; his cape trailed down behind him rather majestically, or so he thought. "Tuxedo Kamen would like to politely inform Sailor Moon that when she shuffles the cards like that, she's not doing much to help her case." She was simply jamming the ends of the deck haphazardly into one another.
"You deal, then," she said, miffed, and tossed the cards in his direction.
As he snapped the cards into their proper cascade, he couldn't help feeling a bit intrigued by the promise of a good, solid round of poker. Tsukino Usagi had about the worst luck in the world, but it was common knowledge that Sailor Moon was very lucky indeed.
Usagi chomped down on another cookie.
Rather OOC at points, hm? I thought so too, so if you have any suggestions on what to change, PLEASE please please tell me.
Reviews keep me happy. Happiness keeps me sane. Sanity keeps me alive. YOU HOLD MY LIFE IN YOUR HANDS. No pressure ;)