This is an interlude that takes place directly after the events of S season episode 108 in which a rollicking good time is had by all at a black tie party for international college students where they dance the waltz at an ivy-covered mansion. (Not exactly how my college parties are, but I digress.) Usagi is drunk and cute, the Death Busters attack, Sailor Uranus and Neptune show up and be all mysterious, but the inner senshi and Sailor Moon are the ones who save the day in the end.
This is just a plot-less interlude, pure romance and nothing else. I just can't help it, Usagi and Mamoru are the best. Naoko Takeuchi-sama made them so sexy and the anime made them so cute and goofy and I just have to revel in them being cute, goofy and sexy all at once so there you go.
I hope this doesn't bore you. It's just 4,000 words of talking and kissing. Oh, and chocolate ice cream makes a brief appearance. I kept it rated T!
"Just don't tell Luna, okay," Usagi was saying from the front seat of Mamoru's car, her voice directing to the masses of taffeta, ruffles, giggles and perfume in the backseat. In the passing orange streetlamps, the legs, arms, eyes, hair of the four girls behind flashed in and out of the focus with each flash of artificial light.
"Tell Luna what? About Eudial attacking the exchange students' party?" Minako was acting the fool.
"About your inappropriate behavior with exchange students?" Rei asked, pushing herself up to lean her body between the driver and passenger seats, "Or your dance with Haruka?" The air conditioning vents blew locks of her raven hair into Mamoru's face and he bat it away in annoyance, attempting to keep his eyes on the road.
"She means about the alcohol incident." Ami halted the teasing, and pulled Rei by the hem of her dress into the back of the car. She'd prefer to at least keep some semblance of automotive safety.
"Oh, Usagi, that was an accident," Makoto said, her voice strangled from being cramped up in the far rear of the car, her knees up around her chest. "You thought it was juice. And you sobered up quickly. No harm done. Luna will lecture, but she'll get over it."
Usagi screwed up her features, "Um, let's just say this may not... have been the first time this happened."
The reaction was high-pitched and simultaneous, and the girls were clamoring for details. Succumbing to pulling fingers and questions and giggles and shrieks Usagi grudgingly and accidentally supplied her best friends with all the ammunition they needed to fuel a very interesting ride home.
"You had champagne at the Dia Kingdom Consulate ball? Are you serious?" Rei shrieked, "Is that why you went over the balcony?"
"She went over a balcony?" Minako was all ears and golden hair.
"No, it was after that," Usagi mumbled.
"You went over a balcony sober?" Minako and Makoto had to hear more about this party.
Usagi put her head in her hands, slender fingers twisted through her bangs. It was barely even midnight and she was exhausted. Her dress was getting itchy and uncomfortable, her boyfriend was being eerily quiet, and she was starting to feel strangely exposed even in the dark of the car.
"Just... don't tell Luna about the cocktails. Was what I was trying to say."
"We're here." Mamoru's smooth baritone always filled made Usagi feel warm inside, but it was those two blessed words that filled her with an extra relief.
The red car pulled up alongside the stairs to the Rei's shrine and the girls filed out while reciting their thank-yous to Mamoru for the evening out and the ride home.
"Never a dull moment," Mamoru said, once it was just him and Usagi in the car. She unbuckled her seatbelt and looked at him shyly.
"Are you mad about the cocktail thing?" She pressed her fingers together, sheepishly.
"No," he turned to look at her, but she couldn't make out his expression in the shadows.
"'Cause, ya know, it wasn't like I meant to embarrass you - "
"Hey, Usagi!" a slender fist rapped on the window glass quickly, irately.
Startled, Usagi rolled down the window. Violet eyes stared back at her from under long black lashes. "Rei?"
Suddenly, the blonde found her overnight bag thrown into her lap through the open window.
"The girls are going crazy about what happened at that consulate ball. I figured, you better just go home rather than be plagued by questions all night long. I'll tell them you're sick. From all that drinking, you lush."
Usagi's mouth dropped open and she screamed through the window, "Rei, I'm perfectly sober! I-" She sighed. Guess it was better to just go home after a night like she had. "I guess I am pretty tired, though."
Wordlessly, Mamoru pulled the car out back into the road and turned around, heading toward her house.
Usagi leaned her forehead against the cool glass of the window, watching the city lights flicker past. "Michiru's very pretty, isn't she?" she said.
"Yes," Mamoru agreed, "she is."
"You think she's prettier than me?"
Small hands twisted in the pink silk of her skirt. "You don't have lie, Mamo-chan. I know she's prettier than me."
"Beauty is subjective, Usa."
She leaned her head back and looked at his profile as he drove. She loved the way his hair fell across his forehead, the way his graceful fingers gripped the steering wheel. He had shrugged off his suit jacket to drive, the white of his button-down shirt was in sharp contrast to the muted colors all around them.
Everything about him was beautiful. Usagi wondered what that must be like.
"I don't know what 'subjective' means," she pouted. He always had to use big words.
"Why, do you think Haruka is cooler-looking* than me?" he asked her.
Usagi rolled her eyes. "Haruka is a girl."
"A cool-looking girl," Mamoru's tone was teasing. "Who thinks you're cute."
"No," Usagi sighed, "she's just always teasing me. Calling me 'Odango atama'." Her eyes found their way out the window again, looking at the city streets without really seeing them.
Stopped at a red light, Mamoru glanced over at her. She looked so wistful, in a split second he was reminded of the princess in his dreams that had haunted him for so long.
Then she looked up at him and made an annoyed face, and his precious, goofy girlfriend was back. "What?"
"I used to call you that, too."
The light turned green, and Mamoru turned back to the road. Usagi felt her face flush with heat. She reached over and flicked the air conditioning vent toward her.
He turned from the busy main drag onto the quiet side street that lead to her house. The streetlamps disappeared and for a while they were the only car on the road.
"Mamo-chan, I don't want to go home," she said suddenly. "I want to your place with you! Will you take me?" She didn't know why she burst out with that, but she had. She had spent the night at his apartment before, usually with Chibi-Usa, and sometimes under dire circumstances - not usually just because she didn't want to leave his side after a date. She inwardly cringed and waited for his response.
"Okay," he said. He downshifted and turned around the block and headed back out onto the main street.
(*I couldn't find a really good translation for kakkoii.)
In the harsh light of his building's underground parking garage, every sharp line and angle came into high relief, the pink of Usagi's dress, each strand of golden hair, the purple strap of her bag leaving a red mark on her bare shoulder as she swung the car door closed behind her.
Mamoru wasn't sure why he simply agreed to take her home with him, except that he didn't want to lose her company so quickly.
Not when he had to share her all night - with the girls, with Haruka, with everyone she'd charmed while tipsy at that party. One of them had even come up to him later, asking him about that 'adorable blonde girl'."You're a guest in this country," was all Mamoru could find it in himself to reply, sharply, before leaving to find Usagi. He danced with her once, and she'd beamed up at him, as usual. But the rest of the evening and the whole way home, it was her dance with Haruka that she and girls had squealed about with jealousy and rapture.
Until, that is, they brought up the Dai Kingdom ball, that event two years earlier, which only danced in his memory like a fever dream.
Falling with her over a balcony and into that tumultuous, boiling and relentless sort of love that had ebbed and flowed in his veins and memories like tides under the moon.
And now it was supposed to be finally settled, like the calm of a peaceful sea, but there was still something bubbling beneath those peaceful waters. Still and always.
Something desperate. Something aching. Something a reserved and quiet young man like himself didn't always know how to deal with or what to do with but that reared itself when he watched Usagi blush furiously at the attentions of that spunky blonde woman.
"Are you coming, or what?" Usagi called over her shoulder. She was unbalanced with her bag over one shoulder.
Mamoru rushed over to take her bag from her, his fingers brushing her skin as he slipped the strap from around her. The electricity of the contact made him start but she just smiled at him, sweetly. "Oh, thanks."
And he pushed the button for the elevator.
"Ah, air conditioning!" Usagi welcomed the refreshing cool of the apartment with open arms and a grateful smile. Tokyo summers were brutally humid, even long after the sun set, the heat lingered in the heavy air. Usagi didn't even notice how oppressive it had been until she walked inside the familiar room and felt the lightness of the artificial cool. She kicked off her heels.
"So the real reason you wanted to stay comes out," Mamoru said, also removing his shoes and placing her bag on the floor. He was startled when two slim arms wrapped around him from behind.
"Hey, I have air conditioning at my house, too," she said, pulling on his shirt until he turned to face her.
Without her heels, she was back to being a good foot shorter than him. It was something they were used to, he'd have to bend his head to kiss her gently and she'd stand on tiptoes and grasp his arms for support. That worked for the first few seconds - sometimes all they had or all they needed.
But, whenever there was a time when the first brush of the lips wasn't enough, and she'd melt into him and he'd coax her mouth open to deepen the kiss and every breath apart would pull them back together - then she'd have to brace her body against his and he'd wrap his arm around her waist tightly, supporting her, and leaning down toward her at the same time.
This was a time like that, when gravity shifted and nothing existed to Usagi but the space she and Mamoru shared, the heat between breaths and the dark color of his eyes when she glimpsed them between kisses.
His hand that wasn't pressed against the small of her back was toying with stray wisps of hair by her ear, sending shivers down her neck, while he pressed his lips to her chin, her cheek, her eyes, and right behind her ear.
She tried to focus on keeping starch in her knees, they were about to give out on her.
Mamoru ran his hand down across her collarbone and down her arm, "I like your shoulders," he murmured, planting a kiss on the swell of her left shoulder.
Usagi felt a burst of warmth in her heart as she did whenever he admitted an attraction to her. He kissed her right shoulder, too and ran his fingertips up the side of her neck.
It was her gasp that brought him back into reality, that and the pressure of her fingertips as she dug into his neck and shoulder when her knees finally gave out on her.
Mamoru pulled back a little and lowered his head, Usagi watched his bangs fall over his eyes as he caught his breath. She disentangled herself from him, gently.
He looked up and she smiled at him, shyly now.
It was always just after these bursts of passion that she felt suddenly bashful around him and she was never sure why. It wasn't the tingling on her skin where his lips and hands had touched, or that she was embarrassed at her response to his embrace. Usagi thought maybe it was remembering the look in his eyes, at how she saw herself reflected in them.
"I'm going to change," she said. She tugged adorably on the skirt of her dress with a pout, "This formal wear was not made with comfort in mind."
"Um," she gave him a very sheepish half-smile, "I do need your help unzipping it, though..."
He was careful to grasp only the tiny zipper pull and only to unzip a few inches down - enough for her to be able to reach for the rest of the way. He resisted the temptation to run his fingers down her back, he knew her skin would be smoother than the silk of the dress, and warmer, too. There was no hint of fabric beneath the zipper - no bra for a strapless cocktail dress.
His breath stirred the hair on the back on her neck.
Usagi turned again, "I'm kinda hungry," she nodded vigorously, as if in agreement with her own statement.
One thin arm was holding up the front of her dress to keep it from sliding off. "Do you have anything in?"
He forced his mind to focus on the contents of his fridge and cupboard. Eventually it was decided that she would have ice cream. But first change into her pajamas (for the love of god, please) and he'd get it all ready while she washed up.
Usagi had packed for a night a Rei's, which meant sleeping in the open-air shrine on a muggy summer night with four other girls. Not alone with a man whose familiar eyes lately seemed to smolder with something unfamiliar when he looked at her. Sometimes. That she noticed. When she noticed, it made her stomach flutter furiously.
The pink tank top and shorts had seemed much less... revealing when she threw them in her bag this morning, imagining the first scenario, not the second. But, there was really nothing to be done. Shrugging, she washed her face and contemplated taking down her hair (but in the end decided to leave it up for the night.)
Time for ice cream.
"How can you eat that so late at night?" Mamoru asked, as she finished her second bowl of chocolate fudge ice cream. The wee hours of the morning didn't ask for the formality of tables or napkins, she was just leaning against the fridge licking ice cream off the spoon contentedly.
"How can you not?" Usagi tossed the empty bowl into the sink behind her. She looked up at him and flushed a little, "What?"
Mamoru realized he was starring at her unabashedly and made a point of looking away. He put his arms on the countertop and leaned over on them.
"So, tell me more about your theory on physics pudding, or curry or whatever it was you were talking about tonight," Mamoru said, leaning his chin on his hand. "Dr. Tsukino."
Usagi was reminded of the smug upperclassman who used to tease her about test scores and call her odango atama, back when she first met him.
She stuck her nose in the air. "I don't really want to right now, thank-you-very-much." It had made much more sense under the influence of one or two fruity cocktails, anyway.
"I see. Is it because I'm not a blonde foreigner?" He didn't move his chin from his hand while he talked.
"What, were you jealous or something?"
"Maybe a little." He shrugged.
Floored, Usagi searched his eyes to see if he was teasing her. His gaze was straightforward, clear. "You don't seem angry."
"I didn't say I was angry. I said I was a little jealous. Moreso when you were so eager to dance with Haruka."
Usagi was confused. She rubbed her palms down the sides of her arms - the ice cream had made her chilly and goosebumps had appeared on her skin.
Her words seemed to jump ahead of her mind, which was still trying to catch up with the idea of Mamoru being jealous of anything to do with silly little her. She was just Usagi. She always stumbled along, trying to keep up with him and his world. They were together by a twist of fate, one that, Usagi always assumed, had favored her more than it did Mamoru.
"Haruka is a girl," she said, for the second time that night. "Besides, you danced with Michiru, anyway! And I know you loved it." Michiru was not only beautiful, but poised, elegant, and mature. A woman like that wouldn't embarrass Mamoru in front of his peers. Usagi knew in her heart of hearts that maybe, just for a second, he wished he was at the party with Michiru instead of her. And that thought killed her.
"I wouldn't have, if you asked me not to," Mamoru said. "But you didn't seem to mind, at least not after Haruka asked you, so..."
"Whatever," Usagi shrugged, walking past him and into the living room with a calculated nonchalance he no doubt picked up on.
"Those two are together anyway," she continued. "Probably." So it really didn't matter, in the end.
"So are we," Mamoru pointed out. "Together, I mean."
There was a beat. It was as if she'd forgotten, in all her thoughts about jealousy and desire. "Oh-oh yeah," she giggled, putting a hand to the back of her head.
She turned back toward him, but her feet got tangled in the attempted pirouette move, and instead her body pitched backward, in a whirl of pink and gold. Squeezing her eyes shut, she braced for impact but Mamoru reacted first and jumped to catch her. His reflexes got exponentially better every day he was with her - even on the days Sailor Moon did not have to make an appearance. His arm braced behind her back, and he pulled her back to a standing position.
Usagi was sure he would be laughing at her, when she opened eyes. But instead she was startled into something intense and stomach-dropping at the look in his eyes, just before he kissed her.
And she kissed him back, of course. With as much enthusiasm and fervor as her body could contain, because that is her part in this particular equation of true love, that she would never relinquish her resounding, boundless energetic admiration of Mamoru and everything he was, is and would be. And for his part, his passion for her being more subtle, but all-consuming and sometimes agonizing in its intensity - Fate, it turns out, maybe did favor Usagi when pairing the two together, long, long ago. But not for the reasons she thought.
Usagi wanted to remind him that he was hers, and that even if he can't take her anywhere fancy without being embarrassed by her, there was some reason he was with her in the first place. So she was the one that lead them, while kissing, to the sofa, that pushed him down first, that was bold enough to straddle his lap.
But he didn't put up a fight. After all, there's something about that flame, to the moth. The fabric of her pajamas was so thin, he could feel her skin jump even from running his hands over her clothing, and he didn't bother to stop himself from touching her with abandon - the barrier of pink cotton providing a false sense of propriety, even as his fingers trailed up her stomach, over her chest.
She was concentrating on the buttons on his shirt, they were small and she wasn't a good multitasker - in any situation. Plus, she kept being overcome and having to stop to bend to kiss his neck, his chest, his lips. His hands sending fireworks down her spine into her belly were not helping. "You're distracting me," she mumbled in annoyance.
Lips kissed her earlobe, blew air along her neck, "Not sorry," he said.
Those were the last words spoken for a few long minutes, until he put his mouth to her breast- over the fabric of her tank top - and that made her actually moan his name aloud. And then she couldn't believe herself.
Oh my god, she clasped her hands to her mouth, I can't believe I just moaned his name like in Minako's triple X movies. That is, if actors in triple x movies had adorable nicknames for each other.
She was honestly surprised he wasn't laughing at her, so instead she had to laugh at herself. And she did, simply dissolve into giggles. Mamoru pulled away and just smiled at her, until she could talk again.
"So," she said, after a while, twirling a strand of hair endearingly around one finger, "you really think I'm prettier than Michiru?"
"So, then, I think you are much cooler-looking than Haruka," Usagi proclaimed, with a sharp nod. "And everyone else. Ever. Anywhere." Then she let out a jaw-breaking yawn. The clock in the kitchen declared the time to be 2:30am.
"I think it's time to go to sleep."
Ducking her head, she followed Mamoru into the bedroom. He offered to sleep on the sofa and she silenced that with a glare. "Oh please, Mamo-chan, let's be adults about this." Which for some reason Mamoru seemed to find amusing, but he wouldn't say why.
Sleepily, she curled up next to him. Her fingers found the nape of his neck and he allowed a few more, tired, languid kisses. He ran his fingers over her eyes and said, "Good night, Usako. You've had a long day."
She mumbled something back to him, but it was lost in his shoulder and the fabric of the old t-shirt he wore to bed.
It was a strangely peaceful sleep for Usagi, in a very non peaceful time. After all, the silence was approaching and all the senshi felt an uneasiness that seemed to permeate everything they did.
But that's why, in between the stress of high school entrance exams, battles with the death busters, ruined birthdays and unexpected English-speaking strangers showing up at the door, you had to take whatever joy you could find and wrestle it down with both hands before it fled, yet again.
And that, that, was what Tsukino Usagi was practically a damned expert at.
Reviews are really and truly appreciated beyond all belief. But try not to make me cry.