A Trap for A Truce: Chapter 8: The Real Thing

AN: Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnaaaaalllllyyyyyy! that's all.

Author: Nat-chan
E-mail: natia_99@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: Standard
Rated: G

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Serena and Darien were silent as they rode the bus to the airport. Each basking in their own
personal melancholy. But though Darien could comfortably be sorrowful and miserable for long
periods of time, Serena could not. She soon curbed her heartbroken thoughts towards determination
to have a good friendship with Darien now.

He was listening to his walkman....~hmmmm...wonder what he listens to?~

She tapped him, "Hey, whatcha listening to?"

He pulled off his earphones, "Smashing Pumpkins....you probably wouldn't like it."

She arched an eyebrow, "How do YOU know? Can I listen?"
She held up her earphones and he shrugged, plugging them into the second earphone jack on
his walkman.

The song changed and the next one came on, loud guitar, steady beat, slightly melancholy lyrics.
She unconsciously nodded her head to the rhythm and Darien was doing the same, they glanced
over and caught each other at the same moment.

Serena giggled.

"Do you like it?" He mouthed.

"YEAH I DO! IT'S KINDA CATCHY!" She hollared back at painful decibels. He just smiled and sat
back to keep listening. But she grabbed his hand,
"THUMB WAR!"

He rolled his eyes but accepted the challenge. He didn't want to be cheered up, didn't want to
move on...but he couldn't help it....she was so much fun!

Thumb wars and paper-rock-scissor tournaments filled the time on the bus ride, and hangman
kept them busy on the plane. It was kinda cool playing Sailormoon hangman. Secret identities
made for great topics....

When the plane landed they were both smiling. They gathered their bags and headed off, but
Darien stopped her suddenly, "Hey..."

"Yeah?" She said looking up at him curiously..

"Friends still?"

She smiled brilliantly and he knew she'd been waiting for him to say...to make it alright again.
But he mistook some of her gladness for relief and confirmed to himself that she was not in
love with him.

They continued on and met Andrew, Rita, the girls and Serena's parents, all chatting and
laughing and hugging and welcoming.

And then? Then Darien and Serena separated.....waved goodbye....returned home...

Darien walked into the silence of his apartment and forced back the wave of despair.
Unpacked all this clothes, taking extra care with the outfit Serena'd picked out...that he'd
worn when they kissed...just last night....~just last night..~

Serena did the same. Escaped the friendly chatter of friends and parents and slowly unpacked
in her room, hanging up the blue dress and staring at it a moment, fighting back tears.

The girls had been eager to know--once Serena's parents were out of ear shot, HOW she'd managed
to act civil to Darien for a full 7 days. Serena laughed telling them how they fought and
played jokes on one another at first, but as she continued, relating their gradual friendship
and inconsequant good time, she felt overwhelmed by heartache and quickly sent them away, saying
she didn't feel well.

And she didn't.

She settled at her window that night and thought sadly of Darien....Tuxedo Mask....they'd
agreed not to tell the other girls for now....so it was a secret...a secret just between the
two of them....like the sweet kiss from last night....

One tear escaped then two....~I'm such a fool....how could I? How could I fall for him when
I never ever had a chance?~ She pulled out the locket and let it play, let it lull her slowly
to sleep.

Darien stood looking out his balcony window at the moon and tried desperately to think of
nothing....he'd been good at it before....but now? Now every terrible silence gave vent to
a memory.....

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A week later.....

Andrew was waiting for the girls when they arrived like clockwork early that morning.
They'd decided on this meeting yesterday. It was time.

He brought over soda's and sat down with them since the arcade wasn't busy yet.

"So..." He began.

"So," Said Rei, taking control and getting right to the point, "Serena and Darien. WHAT is going
on with them??"

Ami nodded, "Ever since the cruise, she's been so different..."

"How so?" Asked Andrew.

"Well, she's been doing absolutely amazing in school, she's chapters ahead and her marks
are excellent."

Lita shook her head, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the LEAST of my concerns--"

But Ami cut back in, "Well did you know she's taking some college classes?"

"WHAT??!!!" (everyone)

"Yes, college art classes. She submitted a portfolio and they accepted her in!"

"I thought I caught her going to a kareoke bar the other night!" Said Rei with disbelief,
"I almost SURE it was her!"

"Yeah, well did you know she and Darien play tennis every morning?"

"WHAT??!!"

"Yup, early too. They meet and play over at the park's courts. Darien says she's really good.
He has trouble keeping up with her!"

"I don't believe it!" Said Rei.

Andrew shook his head, "Darien's been different too...he seems almost...."

"Lovesick?" The girls supplied.

"Yeah."

"Serena too. I don't get it. A romantic cruise, seven days, they seem to be in love, why
aren't they together?"

Andrew shook his head, "I--"

He was cut off by the entrance of the very pair. They huffed in, tennis rackets in hand,
"Hey Andrew! Hey guys! You're up early for a saturday!"

"SO ARE YOU!!!!"

Serena just giggled.

Darien took a stool and ordered coffee. Serena went to sit by him and slipped but Darien
caught her and pulled her up beside him without even looking over....as though he expected it..
..and Serena never noticed either...it was almost like...routine??

The girls exchanged glances.

"Good game." Darien said.

"Mhmm. Ugh, coffee! I can't believe you still drink that stuff, it's poison I swear!"

He just smiled at her, "You shouldn't say mean things about it when it helped you out before!"

She flushed a little as the girls and Andrew all raised eyebrows at her,
"What! I don't know WHAT he's talking about!"

But she and Darien's gazes were rather conspiratorial in nature and it was obvious they weren't
saying something.

Finally Serena jumped up, "Gotta book it, Mom wants some help with the chores! Bye guys! Bye
Darien!"

"See ya!"

After her hasty retreat, all eyes turned to Darien, who shrank nervously under their various
gazes.

"What?!" He finally asked, hoping he sounded innocent.

Andrew winked at the girls, "This came for you, they didn't have a forwarding address so
they sent it to the arcade."

"What is it?"

"I don't know, it's from the cruise--"

Darien snatched it up so quickly it startled Andrew. He tore open the envelope and took it to a
booth. It was full of photographs. The note attached read:

"Mr. Chiba and Miss Tsukino,
Here are some candid photos taken by our ship's photographer. I thought you might like
to have them. Hopefully they will serve as pleasant reminders of your time spent aboard.
Sincerely, Jenkins."

Darien dumped the photos onto the table and felt his heart stop. There were so many, and all
of them were of he and Serena. At the pool, playing tennis, dancing at the club, Serena singing
kareoke, the salsa dance, the chess game...endless...they were endless....but the one from the
silver ball was what made his every sense come to a halt.....it was them, kissing at the ball, as
it rained silver stars all around....

"What is it?" Asked Andrew from the counter, and the girls looked expectantly over. But
Darien never heard them.
He stood with the one photo and ran from the arcade without another word.

Andrew watched him go, "Darien? Hey, where are ya going? Hmmm."

He walked over to the table and found the girls looking through the photos already,
"Photos..." Said Rei.
"Of them..." Added Lita.
"They look like a real couple..." Said Ami softly.
"I think I know where he's going." Said Andrew smiling faintly.

Darien raced through the park towards Serena's house.
He'd made a decision. He had to tell her. All those pictures....they looked like a real
couple....all he kept thinking looking at them ~I wish they were real. I wish they were real.
I love her.~

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Serena meanwhile, had long finished the chores and was pulling out her sketchbook to go to the
park and draw. She hadn't even opened it since the cruise.....she flipped through it, lingered
on the sketches she'd done of Darien...at the beach under the moonlight....while he slept that
last night...she traced their outlines with her fingers....
A strange lump under the last page made her turn it and gasp with surprise. Pressed between
the pages was a flower...not just any flower....the flower she'd left for Darien, with the note
about the masquerade kiss....how beautiful it had been. The flower had dried out and flattened
nicely, but underneath it was writing...Darien's writing....
"It was the most beautiful moment of my life." It read simply. Simple, but tears blurred her
eyes and she hurried out the door with it to find him. She had to tell him.

They met as usual, by crashing into one another, both running blindly.

"Serena!"
"Darien!"
"I was looking for you!" They both said together.

Darien clutched the photograph, Serena the sketchbook. She looked down and brought his hand
up to see it clearly and froze, staring at it a long moment before turning to search his face
with her eyes. There was such a stark hunger in his eyes that she was breathtaken. He looked
down at her sketchbook and she turned to show him what he'd written.

He smiled a lopsided smile that made her love him even more, "I was wondering when you'd find
that."

She smiled back but her eyes were pained, sorrowful. Did she feel sorry for him because he
loved her and she didn't love him? Oh Gods....

She caught the strange pain that crossed his face and stepped closer to him, "I came to say
thank you." She said, "And ask you if it was still true?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do you still think it was the most beautiful moment of your life? Even after the-the ball?"
She asked softly, stumbling over the words a little, because they hurt.

He gripped her arms suddenly, a fierceness in his face, "I want it to be real." He said, his
voice thick with intensity, "I--"

But she threw herself wholly in his arms and cut him off, "So do I! So do I!"

He held her tight, "Did you mean it? At the ball, when you kissed me, did you mean it?"

"Of course I meant it! But I thought you were just pretending! All week, I thought it was just
pretend!"

"Me too! But it wasn't, I meant everything." He had both arms around her now, his voice
muffled in her beautiful hair.

Her tears soaked through his shirt. He pulled her back and looked into her eyes,
"I want us to be a real couple..."

He searched her tear streaked face, saw the stark joy in her eyes and felt his heart leap with
hope. She smiled, "I guess we had enough practice!"

He smiled back and chuckled, but then grew serious and leaned in close to her, "Serena, I..
...I love you."

Her cheeks burned--but nothing compared to her heart, "I love you too..."

She slipped her arms about his neck and then trailed her fingers through his hair to cradle
his face before drawing it down to meet her lips and Darien knew THIS was the most beautiful
moment of his life....

He let her pull him into the kiss and then caught her up tight in his arms and had his own
way....kissing her deeply, until they were breathless, knowing he would never tire of the
sensation.....feeling his whole life had been building to this one moment....

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Andrew retrieved the letter he'd received with the envelope for Darien and walked back over
to the girls as they nosed their way through the sea of photographs, giggling and gasping.

"Dear Andrew," It read, "Here are the photographs. I have done everything that is in my power
to do. The rest is up to you. Hope to see you soon!
Sincerely, Uncle Jenkins"

Andrew smiled, ~I think you did enough Uncle...~

And several blocks away, in the park, Serena and Darien were confirming his guess.

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Done at laaaaaaaaaaaaaaast! yaaaaaaaaaaaay! Hope you liked Minna! This is my longest fic!
phew! Lot's of fun to write though, I just wrote and wrote without planning it at all (except
for chapter 3). E-mail e-mail e-mail!