Prince For a Day

By Star; Mamo-Day 2002 SMRFF

I finished, I finished! *sniff* It just missed mamo-day at SMRFF (The reason I wrote it).... waahh, but I'll get over it, I'll be estatic that I actually finished a fic. A short story, but nonethless, and hey, it is about 21 pgs, maybe one parter fits better. ^_^ Anyway, please tell me what you think!! -----star

PS) For those of you confused, the very first part is a "future" happening. In other words, what would've happened if Queen Serenity didn't decide to step in…

Place: Tokyo Park; Date: August 3rd, 2002, 8:06 PM

A dark blue hue draped around the park, broken by the random lampposts. Couples and children laughed and enjoyed the cool breeze and the serenity---something hard to find in Tokyo. Across a glass-like lake and near the dock, a blonde stood in the lonely pool of a light.

Serena Tsukino tapped her foot, crossed her arms, and craned her head to peer down the park's shadowed sidewalks. She sighed. Reminder; kill Andrew. Shutting her eyes, her mind drifted to the conversation earlier at the arcade.

"Serena, will you do me a favor?"

"Sure, what is it?"

"Well, it's Darien's birthday today… Would you, well, meet him somewhere tonight?"

Serena blinked at the blond. "Meet with Jerk-face? You're joking."

"Come on. I know how you feel about him."

Serena's mouth moved silently until angry with herself, she snapped it shut. "And what would that be? Total loathing?"

Andrew shook his head. "I'm serious, Serena. The question isn't whether you like him but if you'd meet him. Tonight."

Sighing, Serena looked down, her foot fidgeting against the wooden legs of the stool. "Even so, the feeling's not mutual… If I was to give him any joy or gift for his birthday, it'd be to keep hurricane-me away." Her subdued voice rung softly, but even she caught the bitterness.

"Serena, he cares for you, I know it! And… come on, just meet with him, okay? That's it." Andrew's voice softened, "And… just maybe, this will be your one chance to let him know."

Serena swallowed the knot in her throat, the cold light feeling swiping through her body similar to whenever she thought of going to the Doctor's. On the brink of saying yes, she shook her head and mentally bonked her forehead. "I'll be humiliated."

"No, you won't. Besides, it's all my idea. If it starts going bad, he'll just… never know, and you'll both continue to be Meatball Head and Jerk-Face. I mean, how could it get worse than it already is?"

Serena stared at Andrew. "If it doesn't go the way you expect I'm coming right back here and expecting a free milkshake."

Just a few more minutes and milkshake here I come. Out of all the things she expected, for him to not show up was not one of them. She looked down, staring long and hard at her tennis shoes, her vision blurring. He had to have found out who he was meeting. It was probably for the better. And, it was good to find out now… She just couldn't understand why it hurt so much.

"Meatball Head?" a bewildered voice rang in her ears, instantly holding the power to stop all thought and movement on her part.

She took in a breath before looking up. Darien stood just a ways away, looking at her oddly.

Oh, if only that was a different look. Forcing the longing tug away, Serena forced herself to shrug and put on a careless smile. "Jerk-Face," she replied. Breathe girl, breathe. "Um… Andrew said to meet someone here."

Darien nodded numbly as he walked closer. "Same here… He tell you who?"

"Yes." The response was out before she could think. Dummy! Why'd I have to tell him that?

"So, why'd you come?" Darien lifted up an eyebrow, stepping into the ring of light.

"Maybe because I was curious," she snapped. "Why did YOU come?"

He shrugged. "Curious."

Shutting her eyes, she counted… slowly.

"What are you doing?"

She didn't open her eyes. "Asking my fairy godmother to make you dissappear. Is that all right with you?"

"Not particullary, Meatball Head."

"Don't call me that!" she glared at him. "Other people have their hair in buns, what makes MINE different?" She'd been wanting to know that for a LOOOOOONNNGG time.

He leaned over to her, close enough to make her heart spin, and then… tugged casually on one of the tails of blonde hair. "Cause no one else has spaghetti to go with it."

"You're such a jerk!"

He stepped back with a mocking smile. "Thank you."

"It's no wonder why Andrew is your only friend," she continued recklessly, "And even then, I don't know what he sees in you!" Yes I do, something inside of her screamed, though she just kept her stone face that soon melted into surprise as Darien's cool demeanor broke, his brow furrowing and lips thinning.

His blue eyes were cold. Very cold. She shivered.

"I'm perfectly fine alone. That way, I don't have to deal with ditzes like you." His soft voice had lost all mocking, all amusement. Ice, just like his eyes.

Serena's eyes stung, something clutching painfully inside as she found it harder and harder to keep a blank face. She nodded, not trusting her voice with her tightening and choking throat. So silently, she turned away from him, and started walking, not getting far before the tears overpooled her dull eyes and streamed down her cheeks.

Place: Lunarian Kingdom, Site 3/Control room; Date: August 3rd, 2002, 4:02 PM

The small glittering form of Queen Serenity stared at the image that played on the screen, something breaking inside as tears that mirrored her daughter's swept down her cheeks. Even if it hadn't happened yet, it was painful to watch. The projection of Tokyo Park blinked and then the image was replaced with a face of a serious woman with long green hair, staring back at her through the static.

She took in a slow breath, shutting her eyes. "When will this happen, Setsuna?"

"Tonight."

"Thank you." She looked up to the screen. "There's just enough power left in the control center. I know what to do."

Queen Serenity typed a few codes and then gazed with a sad smile into the new image on the screen. She watched her daughter's past and present love from millions of miles up, inside the deteriorating palace's half destroyed computer room. The man's eyes were downcast; brushes of dark hair swept his forehead as he walked down the busy street. So distant, sad. Serenity clutched her palms over her chest.

"You weren't meant to be alone, Endymion..." she whispered to the glowing image. "And neither was she."

Serenity lifted her head to the computer and its controls, connected to the same wall that projected the image of the earth. A small slip in the metal had glowing red letters that blinked.

Silver Millennium 1060--03

It was the date… 1,000 years ago, exact to the day. Endymions 18th birthday. She smiled. A soft smile, with love and much much hope.

Place: Tokyo; Date: Japan August 3rd, 4:15 PM

Darien Chiba suppressed a sigh. Ever since he got up in the morning and stared numbly up at the blank white ceiling, he realized it was going to be a long, long day. Every year, this day was the same. On each and every one he was prone to crankiness, depression, and to basically slip even farther from life and humanity. At least for most of his Birthdays he could bury himself in school, but it was Saturday and not one of those damn professors assigned homework. He looked up into the gray bleached sky as he walked down the busy street. Was someone purposely making this day hell for him? Heck, they usually dumped so much homework on him that he had black and blue bags under his eyes when he woke up… But this week, what? A cheerful, "No, Darien, there won't be any homework this weekend." And they acted as if he was supposed to be HAPPY about that. Well, with all due respect, he would've been if it had been any other weekend.

He hated this day, fearing his own sanity and depression level during a single twenty-four hour cycle.

Darien stopped abruptly just before a crowd waiting to cross the street. A small brown-haired boy clutched his mother's hand, his other hand giddily swinging a leash with a panting dog on the end. Darien's breath lodged in his throat, sharp blue eyes glazing over.

"Think I'll be adopted today, Mrs. Birch?"

"Stand still, Darien. I need to finish patching up your sleeve."

"It's my birthday today, you know."

"Yes, I know."

"I think today's the day. I just feel it!"

"That would be wonderful, but Darien… please remember that there are many many other children here that the Jenkins might choose."

Darien stood in line with the others, head tilted up, trying to keep down his breathing. They were going to pick him. They were. He would finally have a family; Have a place where he belonged. Wouldn't be lonely ever again. Despite his definite prediction, when he watched Mrs. Birch lead a brown haired lady and light-haired man towards him, hearing their heels click and thunk in the quiet room, his heart picked up. Then his ears went numb to all but his heart, his happiness withering as the Jenkins smiled at Mark who stood beside him. He looked down at his shoes, eyes blurred as the new family walked away.

God, he hated memories. Darien gritted his teeth, walking past the mother and son as the walk sign glowed across the street. It was always so easy to forget…ALWAYS… except on few occasions, his birthday and christmas being two of those. His stiff and empty apartment was the same. His schedule was the same. His envolment in people---zero---was the same. But yet it was all different. Like a soft mumuring suddenly becoming a hundred calling whispers, echoing and surrounding. It had an effect on a guy's sanity.

By the time he walked through the glass doors to the arcade his shoulders were slumped, his hair ruffled from the many times he swept his hand through it. On autopilot, he drooped into one of the stools at the counter inside the café, even grimacing at the bright orange cover of the stool simply for it being too cheery of a color. "Get me a coffee, Andrew?" he said gruffly, massaging his temples.

"You don't look so good.. you feelin' okay?"

"Fine," he muttered, reaching for the bitter black drink and clutching it as if it was his life source. Didn't matter that the mug was going to scorch his skin.

Needing something to do besides swallowing lumps of black liquid, he grabbed a newspaper down the counter and slipped it in front of him. He sighed at all the articles on the sailor scouts and his alter ego. Well, it was something to think about. And like it or not, he had to sooner or later.

There were only a few rainbow crystals left to be found. The odds weren't good. Not to mention the sailor scouts were after them as well. He had to get the crystal, had to find out who the princess in his dreams were… who he was. And you are doing a wonderful job of doing that, he thought, disgusted with himself.

"Hey, Darien…"

He looked up. Andrew was leaning against the counter with a certain expression on his face that made Darien scowl. "What do you want?"

"Will you meet someone tonight at eight?"

Darien lifted an eyebrow. "Who?"

"It's a surprise! Just meet them okay?"

"This isn't at all connected to my birthday is it?"

Andrew stepped back with an innocent expression. "What? After you threatened to stuff me in a box of singing teddybears and ship me off to Africa if I so much as give you a present? I do value my sanity."

Darien shook his head. "Don't feel like it. I'll see you later." He slipped off the annoyingly orange stool and headed for the door.

"At the park, near the dock at eight!"

Darien sighed, turning his head over his shoulder when he bumped into someone. "Sorry," he mumbled, not bothering to look who it was.

"Darien?"

The soft voice made his head turn. Serena stood looking at him with a blank face. Shaking his head he brushed by her, for once not even in the mood to tease and insult her. To watch her face redden and blue eyes blaze with spirit.

Walking towards his apartment building, he found himself with a dazed look, a smile playing on his lips. The blonde hurricane was pretty cute when she was mad… He blinked, frowning and forcing himself out of it. Don't even go there, Chiba. Within minutes, the feeling faded, replaced with the familiar emptiness. It was better that way.

Drudging into his apartment on the third floor, he massaged his forehead, automatically slipping off his shoes and reaching for the light switch. Blue eyes, prepared for the blare of light, widened and blinked in the black fuzziness that still hung. He flipped the switch a few random times before giving up.

Annoyed, he felt his way into the living room and for the phone. Hopefully Tony would be able to fix it… When the phone was to his ear and he felt the buttons and began counting them for the right number, he stopped. A soft… sound. The radio in one of the other apartments. He returned to counting the buttons with his fingers before furrowing his brow. The music.. why did it sound like it was inside? Giving up, he set the phone down, determined to find out the mystery. Now concentrating, he caught more of the music. Slightly haunting, dreamlike…the winding notes the kind you might hear from a music box. You couldn't here a music box from another apartment.

Grunting as his knee collided with the coffee table, he stared agravatingly into the inky room, as if his glare could turn the lights on. He rounded the short table, turning his head, trying to catch where the music came from when his frustrated eyes caught a glimpse of light. He straightened, even more bewildered. A dim yellow light was coming from the kitchen. Just a little too weird for comfort…

His heart rate picked up as he crept towards the kitchen. It had to be a small light, and nothing electrical, it was too much of a warm yellow. He stood in the doorway, staring blankly at the source which stood daintily on the kitchen table. A cupcake… a cupcake with innocent sprinkles and sprouting a lone cream candle. He shook his head. Andrew… wouldn't have? For the first time he realized that the music was coming from in the kitchen, from an object laying beside the candle.

He picked it up, unable to shake off the melody that etched at his nerves. A necklace of sorts, a locket, large and star shaped. The circle within the points of the star was opened like a tiny door, inside a crescent moon crept around in a circle. His fingers were numb as he closed it, a sweeping relief washing over him at the silence. Something about the melody was scraping at his sanity. Brushing a hand through his hair, he set the object down, pulling out one of the kitchen drawers and grabbing a flashlight.

"And let there be light.." Err, some. For a once-over, he shed the beam of light around the kitchen. A little paranoid, aren't you? He shrugged at himself. Could you really blame him? Someone had to put that stuff there after all. Finding nothing else out of the ordinary, he calmed down.

What time was it? His eyes strayed to the microwave, looking for the glowing blue numbers which were missing. Eight o' Clock, he remembered what Andrew had said. Maybe he would swing by there later. Who knew how long it would take Tony to get the power working. Realizing the man couldn't really work on the problem until he told him, he started back towards the living room.. and stopping at the cupcake. With slight annoyance at the absurdity of the situation, he leaned down to the glowing flame, and as if to claim that he was once again completely in control, blew it out. He stood back up, clutching his flashlight and right away detected he wasn't feeling right. Was he getting sick? A fever? You usually felt dizzy with fevers, he recalled. He blinked, trying to shake off the wooziness when he became increasingly aware of his heartbeat. It sounded as if he were listening to it through a stethoscope.

The thought of getting to the phone and calling for help occurred to him. But… he just needed to stand still for a minute to get his bearings. It only worsened. The room seemed to move, as if he were in a fun house ride. The darkness didn't help, only furthered him from reality. He heard a loud clack as his flashlight slipped through his fingers. He only worried about it for a moment before he collapsed to the linoleum floor. He sucked in a panicked breath. Something REALLY was wrong with him. But he couldn't get to the phone, couldn't even lift his head. He was on his back, staring at the hazy black ceiling as the darkness around seemed to drape over his thoughts, his eyelids drooping closed. The last thing he was aware of was the melody of the locket starting once again.

Place: Silver Millennium, Earth; Date: 1060--03 Dawn [1,000 yrs earlier]

Darien blinked at the bright light. Sunlight. What…? Still squinting, he remembered coming home, the candle and locket, blacking out on the kitchen floor… He was in a bed. Had someone found him?

Man, the bed was comfortable, definitely not his. He sighed, leaning back on the pillows as he opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was a really, really… really high ceiling. It made him dizzy it was so high up. And the impressive murals… geez.

"About time you woke up! You know I got up an hour early to sneak off here only to find you sleeping."

He shot into a sitting position. As he took in the large, old-fashioned but grandly furnished room, it was awfully hard to miss the smiling blonde that was plopped on the bed. He turned back to the room. It looked like he was in a castle. Man, some of the funiture and trinkets must be thousands of years old.. and yet they looked…new. He swallowed…hard.

"You all right, Endy?"

He turned towards the girl who had tilted her head, noticing a long golden stream of hair draping down and pooling at the bed. Then, slowly, he noted that there were two streams of hair which came from twin buns on top of the girl's head. He looked into the wide, glimmering blue eyes.

"Meatball head?" The bewildered sound came impulsively from his throat as he choked back his surprise. Serena? It was definitely Serena. And she was wearing an elegant white dress?

The girl---Serena?---was scrunching her face. "Meatball head?" Her cheeks reddened as she huffed and crossed her arms. "I would just like to hear you say that to Mother. Or Luna even! You'd get lectures until you're ears fell off---and rightly so!"

Darien shook his head. "Luna? Your cat?"

"Serena" lifted an eyebrow. "You sure you are alright?"

"Not really…"

Serena leaned over and laid her hand across his forehead with a concerned face. Darien looked at her startled. "There's a crescent moon on your forehead."

She plopped back on the bed, staring at him oddly. "Selene! What are you going to say next?" she exclaimed. "That you're turning six today instead of eighteen?"

"I…think I might be dreaming." He fell back onto the bed.

"Well then you better wake up! There's much to do today."

"Serena, I---"

She giggled. "Another name? At least it's better than 'meatball head.' I swear if Luna or Mother hears that…"

He found he was afraid to ask the girl her name. If it was Serena… why would she have a different name? She made it sound as if everything around him and what she said was supposed to make sense! He rubbed his eyes, stopping and looking up warily. "Where am I?"

She rose an eyebrow. "On earth the last time I checked. Oh! Let me guess. Jedite got you drunk on wine. Is that it?"

Turning his head, he shut his eyes. "Something… like that. Humor me---pretend I don't know anything?"

A grin slowly spread across her face as she shrugged and laid down next to him, hands cupping her pretty face. "Sounds pointless… but all right. What don't you know?"

"Who are you?"

She laughed before nodding. "Serenity."

He looked at her blankly. "Could you be more specific?"

Both eyebrows lifted as she went along. "Serenity Roselynna Del'crae the third, the high Princess of Lunaria. Daughter of Titan Del'Crae and Serenity Amethyst Del'crae."


Darien's eyes rose. "A princess?"

She laughed at him. "Yes a princess, and you're a pauper."

So he was poor? Just great. He looked around the room. "Where am I? Who, more specifically, am I?"

"You, my darling Prince Endymion, are in your bed chamber in the Earth's Eastern Castle."

"I thought… you just said I was a pauper."

She shrugged, nose perked and eyes sparkling. "I lied. You could probably take lessons from a pauper though. They do not have your ego."

He furrowed his brow. She was just a litle too much like Serena. Maybe that was the answer. He had hit his head and was doing the Wizard of Oz thing, maybe Andrew would show up sometime. Heck, maybe he was even this Jedite guy.

"Okay… What day is it?"

Her grin widened. "Is that what this all is about? You think you know me so well that I'm going to give you your birthday present immediately?"

Darien gave a nervous sheepish smile as he shrugged. "You don't come across as someone who could keep a surprise or secret for long." And if she was like Serena, it would be true.

"You win. But as it so happens I don't have the gift with me, so you are just going to have to wait. Of course you can have your first gift now…"

He stared at her. Entranced with the bright blue eyes and smile, he didn't notice her leaning closer to him, what she was doing, until her lips were against his. His eyes blinked wildly before drooping closed as he returned the kiss. Guess this answered his lingering question on what relationship she had to him…

She pulled back, leaving him still dazed, only her giggle snapping him out.

"Scandilous. Simply scandilous!" mocked a voice from behind as Serenity turned her head with a smile to the grinning blonde man who had just entered through the heavy chestnut doors.

"Very funny, Jedite. And just so you know, that's a horrible personation of Lady Harthrone. SHE would have a heart attack. So I would suggest, if you truly wish to play her, to have one."

"Oh! Why, I am hurt. Endy, aren't you going to defend your old pal?"

Darien stared at the guy blankly. Well, looked like his name was Endy… But, what was he supposed to do? He looked to Serenity who was grinning, seeming to be completely at ease.

"Don't waste your time, he's on my side."

Jedite moaned and flopped onto a plush red couch. "Oh the torture and wrongness that my best friend would forsake me for a meager woman."

Serenity gaped. "Meager?" She slipped off the bed and stood up, her small chin lifting. "I am Serenity Del'crae, Princess and heiress of Lunaria. YOU are a guard… exactly how does that make me the meager one, if anything it looks the other way-----Ahh! Endy help me!" She darted back onto the bed scrambling behind his back. Well… it wouldn't be too hard to play around. It actually looked…well…fun.

He rose an eyebrow at Serenity and then at his supposed best friend who was stomping towards the bed with a red face and a pair of glinting blue eyes. "If I may ask, do you have certain intentions toward this lovely lady?"

"Oh, I'll say I have certain intentions! Wring that pretty neck of hers and then see how sarcastic she is."

Darien's eyebrows rose at Serenity who leaned her head over his shoulder and stuck out her tongue.

Jedite made a noise of mock distate. "Why, she acts more like a wench from the streets!"

"Uh! For your information, it is called being strongwilled and interesting!"

"Yeah well…. I have a few choice names for it as well. One of which is dead princess."

"How about a dead best friend?" Darien quipped as he stood from the bed, slightly distracted from his wardrobe of a baggy open white shirt and black slacks. Way to get in character. A quirk placed on his lips, he pulled out a very real sword from a rack and leveled it at Jedite. Jedite laughed and----oh crud!---unsheathed a sword that had went unnoticed to poor Darien. Darien gulped. It was just a joke!

"Come on, a little one on one!"

Serenity seemed not to care a whit that a sword was being pointed at him, level with his stubbled neck where his adams apple visably bobbed. "Don't be an idiot Jedite! You have never won against him and never will."

Jedite scowled, letting Darien gather that it was true. The only problem? It was against this Endy, NOT him. Someone save him.

"One day I will, and in the mean time I will keep trying." The clownish blonde did a few impressive swishes with his sword. Darien paled. Just before he feared he would faint, Serenity stepped beside him.

"As much as I would love to see Endy humiliate you, do it where you won't break something, and also, his Father wishes to see him."

Darien straightened, eyes dazed. "My father?"

Serena smiled. "Yes, your father. The king. Big tall guy, remember? Your mother would too but is busy readying for your ball tonight."

He shook his head, a smile creeping across his face. "Let's not keep my… father waiting then." He lifted his elbow to Serenity. "Shall we leave, milady, and dismiss the imbecile?"

She grinned and laid a hand over his arm. "Yes, we shall… After you put your boots and coat on."

"That does sound like a reasonable idea… uh," he looked over his shoulder. "Now where are they?"

"I burned them," grunted a sulking Jedite.

Darien leaned over to Serenity, murmuring through the corner of his lips. "Memory thing again---Is he always like this?"

"Yes. And I believe your coat is over by the fireplace and boots are by the bed."

Grabbing the items, he stuffed the black coat over his arms and the boots over his feet, just taking a small moment to blank at the Jewels and ornemantry on each.

He really was a prince.

"You going to stay sulking in my room, Jedite?" That was his name right?

The man straightened, "No, not at all," gave a curt bow, "happy birthday, my prince," and marched out of the room.

Darien turned to Serenity. "After you?"

* * *

Darien stood with gaping eyes at the enormous ebony beast. A thick hand slapped him against his shoulder, causing him to grunt and flail his arms.

"Quite a beauty isn't she, my son?" laughed a hearty voice.


The giant, proud man beside him had thick white hair and beard and grand robes. His father.

Darien sucked in a breath and turned back to stare into the black eyes of the largest horse he had ever seen. The thing snorted and shook it's head. "Umm… It doesn't look a little wild to you, does it?"

His father laughed. "I knew you'd never settle with a horse without spirit."

Guess it was safe to gather that "Endymion" (as he found out was the guy's real name) was also an advanced rider. Darien gulped. The horse with the spirit of a bunny would suit him just fine.

"Pure Thouroughbred, this one is," the king said proudly, patting the horse's neck. "Better give him a good name."

"A name?" Darien's mouth flapped silently. "Uh… I dunno." Darien's eyes traveled to Serenity as she moved past to the horse, petting its neck as she cooed. It looked and acted like a warrior and yet here she treated it as if it were a baby---not that it seemed to mind it with her.

"How about Serenity name him?"

Serenity smiled, biting her lip. "Vennete. It's from one of the languages Amy is learning. I could never keep track of them, but it means alive."

"Wonderful choice, Serenity," the king smiled before turning to Darien. "He's all saddled and ready to ride."

Darien stepped back. "You mean… now?"

"Oh, what fun!" Serenity exclaimed, turning with bright eyes. "I can have Alex saddle Lady for me."

"Uh, yeah, why not?" He gave a faltering smile and laugh.

* * *

"You haven't gotten on him yet?" questioned Serenity. She rode up on a very gentle looking beige horse with a silky white mane. The sun washed a shining halo around her and the horse's outline. One of the golden tails of her hair strung over her front, merging with the pure white dress. God, she was an angel. He sucked in a breath, grinning slightly at the clunky velvet brown boots that were traded for her slippers.

He looked at Vennete… then at Lady, soft… gentle looking lady…

Would it be too chicken of him if he requested them to trade horses? He thought fleetingly with a longing, praying gaze. Shaking his head, he turned towards Vennete. Where's your pride, Dare? "Just waiting for you." Vennete reered at Darien's cautiously approaching hand. Darien jumped back with a yelp. "I think he has too much spirit."

Serenity laughed, flipping the reigns of her horse to move it into a walk. "Don't be ridiculous. Just take the reigns and get on him."

Easy for her to say. Darien grimaced at the horse, taking a hesitant step closer. The horse stepped back but didn't reer. "Easy now, boy. Just going to go for a little ride…" Through his murmurings he slipped his right foot in the saddle… without being killed and then took the brave step to swing his left foot over. While doing so, Vennete kicked back and started trotting, leaving Darien, flopping wildly, stomach on the saddle, clutching and yelling as the beast started galloping.

"Endymion!" he barely noted Serenity's yelp.

His heart hammered in his chest (which must have been getting black and blue) as Vennete raced across the field, jarring his poor fragile body up and down, a few times lifting him into the air and causing flip flops in ihis stomach.

How he managed not to fall he'd never know.

Gripping the reigns tightly he gritted his teeth and pulled himself up to a crippled sitting position, shaking as he pulled back on the reigns. "Woah! Woah, boy, STOP!" Vennete reared his head with a grunting neigh, gradually slowing to a trot.

Breaths racked his chest, as he stared wide eyed at the sunny trees that no longer spun. Hearing another horse's hooves, he looked to the side to see Serenity sitting regally on Lady even as she led the horse to jump over the hill and down the dirt slant to where he was. Panting lightly, the golden beauty caught up to him. "Are you all right?"

Still gasping, Darien laid a hand over his heart and managed to nod with a wheezing, "yeah."

Serenity gave a curt laugh. "I thought you would have handled that easily. Are you just under the weather? You have been acting a bit odd."

Darien nodded. "A bit."

"Well, we'll go slow then."

And that sounded just heavenly to him. Darien sighed, relaxing slightly as his bottom only bumped from two inches instead of ten. Planning to nudge the horse forward to keep with Serenity, he lightly kicked the heal of his boot---a tap really---and all hell broke loose.

"Serenniiiiiitttyyyyyyyyyy!"

* * *

"Oh, ah, are you all right?" Serenity looked at him with sympathetic eyes as she rested her hand on his shoulder, helping him through the giant corridor.

He winced, walking with his legs apart and stiff back bent like someone at a nursing home. "Yeah… It, it really doesn't feel as bad as it looks." Liar. He grimaced. God his bottom hurt.

After a minute of walking down the corridor, he noticed Serenity's odd gaze. "Something wrong?"

She shook her head. "No. Just… You're the best rider I've ever seen! And yet today… you looked more like a Jester that had never ridden before."

Darien sucked in a breath, placing a hand on his sore and aching chest---if anyone asked how you could hurt your chest and stomach during a horseback ride without falling… he'd tell them. "Yeah well… I have been out of it today. And that Vennete… the devil's horse."

Serenity looked away, when she turned back, a smile marked her lips. "I must go and get ready for tonight's ball. I'll see you then?"

Darien frowned at her, pointedly eyeing the silky white dress. "You look ready."

She laughed at him. "Don't be silly!" Giving him a swift kiss, she left the way they came.

Maybe it was just him, but without the angelic prescence, even with the silver gray light pooling from the top of the walls---which was high up---this place could look very… very eery.

* * *

Darien blinked and blinked again, his arms lifted spread eagle. "Can I put my arms down yet?"

"No, your highness! Just a little while longer."

He felt like a Ken doll being dressed up by a bunch of kindegardners---except that these were mostly rose cheecked, graying servants with hefty chests and bottoms. "I CAN dress myself." He rose an eyebrow at one that was ducked under his arm and fiddling with something on his gold vest. Another bushy lady popped in front of him and hooked an ornament in the crook where the bunched up silk that wrapped around his neck ended. This thing was going to sufffocate him! Maybe though.. he couldn't dress himself, he admitted reluctantly when watching all the odd garmets being placed on him. He breathed a sigh as the white jewel-encrusted coat slipped over his arms.

A quirk pulled at his lips as he looked into the full length oval mirror. Not bad. If this was a costume party back home, he would surly win----plus points for authenticity. Heck, there was even a sheathed sword hanging by his side! More for looks of course. He grinned, watching the guesture be returned from the Prince in the mirror, black---overly shampooed and perfumed---strands falling over his glimmering blue eyes. Not bad at all.

He swung around to the seamstress in charge with a raised eyebrow, bowing thankfully at the woman when she nodded. Now, to find Serenity, he thought as he walked down the corridor before stopping short five minutes through. Where was the room the ball was in? Damn.

He peered down the torch-lit walls at an intersection, rolling back on his heels with a whistle. Now what was he to do? Three minutes of whistling and sifting his hand through his hair, he caught the sound of deep laughter echoing off the cathedral-like walls. Four tuxedo and cape clad individuals---Jedite being one of them---strolled towards him. Sighing, he smiled at them.

"Endy!" the man with long wavy brown hair greeted. "You weren't waiting for us, were you?"

"Well, I couldn't leave without you," Darien returned smoothly.

Jedite laughed. "Yeah, Nephlite, he wouldn't do that to us.. as long as he knows that Serenity hasn't arrived yet."

A slim intelligant looking man with long blonde hair pulled back interuppted. "Well, she will have if we don't arrive there soon. Not to mention that the king would be upset if Endymion was considerably late."



Taking the hint, they all set out for the ballroom, Darien secretly making sure that they led the way while keeping his ears open for the other two's names.

Reaching the entrance, Darien's mouth dropped open. The room looked bigger than three football fields! The ceiling was three times as high as the one in his room. And most amazingly, a hoard of people covered the endless floor. Shaking his head, he scurried down the marble stairs with the four guards. The two silver and blonde haired men he found to be named Malachite and Zoicite.

"There must be a few thousand people here," he said dazed.

Nephlite shrugged. "About the same amount as last year."

The familiar feeling to make his way to the edges of the rooms or shadowed areas of the balchony was almost overwhelming. He had always tried to avoid parties. Always felt lost while in a crowd. And with everyone laughing and enjoying themselves… well, it was just too much. And here there was a hundred times more people then all the parties he'd ever seen. Except… this time, everyone noticed him. People looked at him, waved at him, came up and tried to talk to him, moved away to let him past. It just left him kind of… well awed.

This party---ball---was for HIM. Immediately he grimaced. No, it was for Prince Endymion, not him. All these people, the king, the queen, Serenity… it was Endymion who they knew and cared about. He was a nobody from the twentieth century. Well, a nobody who occasionally helped save the world, but that was besides the point.

He shook his head, snapping out of his daze and realizing the nasal sounding woman in front of him and quickly excusing himself… Then stopped short amidst the frolicking gowns and tuxedos as his eyes laid open the grand staircase. His heart skipped a beat at the sight of Serenity.

Her hair, though still in the meatball style, was intwined with braids and tiny shimmering beads, flowing along with her hair all the way to the ground. The dress she had on earlier couldn't hold a candle to the one she now wore. Sheets of transparent silver and gold draping masterly around her body and waterfalling to the floor. Two shimmery white gloves encased her slim arms.

With the grace of a princess---which she was, he thought, eyeing the dainty crystal crown on her head---she glided slowly down the steps and he found himself blindly pushing and shoving through the crowd to reach her.

"Endymion!" she smiled, laying her hand on his as he gave a slight bow.

"Would you care to dance, fair princess?"

Serenity nodded and he led her to where the dancers were, never tearing his gaze away from her. He stopped, getting into position. Something in him screamed that he didn't know how to waltz, but it was too far away, and her eyes were terribly distracting. He sucked in a breath, and slowly took a step, then another, bringing them into beat with the lilting melody of the orchestra. Didn't question his movements, didn't even need to think of them. It felt strangely… natural, as if he had done it a million times before.

It was too surreal. The looming intricate ceilings, the elegant people in old-fashioned gowns and tuxedos with tails. The fact that he was dancing with a beautiful princess… It was a fairy tale, but fairy tales weren't supposed to be real. They were… illogical… absurd wishes created… by people. His head leaned down, eyes drooping as he lightly kissed her. Pulling back he watched a smile grow on her face. A smile that swept a light feeling through him.

"Why don't we go out to the gardens? I brought your present," she whispered.

Darien nodded dazedly and let her lead him through the crowd and a shadowed archway then opened into a world of green. "It's beautiful here," the comment fell from his lips. The bright green leaves were either silver in the moonlight or shadowed in the night. The smell of damp earth and sounds of a forest and cooing birds clinging all around. Flowers of startling colors and varieties tuffed out of crevises, waterfalled over walls, intwined with vines, and peeked from trees.

"Yes, it is," Serenity agreed with a smile. "Come."

They walked over the marble platform that stretched around the building and down the steps to a dirt path. Soon, the castle wasn't in view and the sounds of a light streams could be heard. "Where are we going?"

She rose an eyebrow. "You know where."

Darien sighed. Guess he'd have to wait to find out. But… not for long. Serenity's hand slipped from his as she lifted her skirts and darted up the steps of a white gazebo, turning to wait for him, a soft smile on her lips.

Roses intwined with the stilts to the overhang, dropping in waves everwhere he saw. Dew clung to the plants glittered in the moonlight and the trickling he heard earlier surrounded him in a maze of streams and waterfalls placed entrancingly in a curving cliff.

Shaking his head out of a daze, he walked up the steps and into Serenity's arms. For the first time in his life, everything felt right. The empty and cold days at the orphanage and in his apartment faded, becoming suddenly irrelavant in the warm feelings that encased him.

"Let's sit, and I will give you your gift." Serenity moved towards the benches that were part of the walls of the gazebo, but Darien kept hold of her hand and shook his head.

The blink of pain in his buttocks gave a quick refusal. "Uh.. let's just stand."

She laughed. "Alright." For a minute, she just stared up at him. He didn't even notice her hand reaching behind her back.

A sickeningly familiar melody started then. Beautiful, but causing him to recoil all the same. "No!"

Serenity blinked with an odd grin. "No what?"

Darien breathed deeply. Was he going back? He closed his eyes and waited but none of the sensations came over him, and when he opened his eyes Serenity was looking at him in amusement.

God, he could still hear that strung melody. Was he going even crazier than he was already? "Uh.. you don't hear music… do you?" he asked sheepishly and blinked slowly when she laughed.

"Of course I do. It's my present to you."

"Music?"

"It's not just music. It's my locket." She looked down, and revealed a thick golden star on the end of a beaded necklace---the same locket from his kitchen table. Darien sucked in a breath.

Serenity smiled lovingly at the object within her hands. "I've had it since I was little," she whispered, eyes glazed over. "My father gave it to me. When he died, there wasn't a night I wouldn't listen to it and remember him. It always eased the pain of loosing him." She lifted her head with a bright smile. "And I want you to have it."

Darien stared at her with awed eyes. "'Why?"

"Because I love you, Endymion."

Darien's body and mind snapped as he stepped back. He looked away.

"It isn't me you love, Princess."

Serenity looked up at him with a soft but serious smile on her face, her own eyes shifting with emotion. "But it is," she whispered.

He shook his head. "You don't understand. I'm not Endymion. My name is Darien, I'm from the twentieth century!"

She also shook her head. "I don't quite understand. I just know that it IS you who I love. You and only you. Throughout all eternity, it will be that way. You say you are not the Endymion that I love, but then how can I stare into your eyes the same way I do with him, feeling like I can see straight inside when everyone else sees a mask. Your eyes are never the same shade of blue, I think I've memorized them all, they go according to your feelings. And your hair," she smiled," it falls the same exact way, this one strand over your eye always managing to impulse me to push it back." She demonstrated by flicking the strand that he had grown accustomed to. "It's ALL the same."

Her head tilted down and Darien stared at her mutely. "Maybe… just somehow, you are this Darien from the future---It sounds ludicrous, but I've always believed anything is possible---But---" she looked up at him earnestly, "There is no doubt in my mind that you are the one I love, you can't change that and I will not sit back and let you deny it. In a few ways.. you are different then the Endymion I know. You're sadder. When I look into your eyes I see loneliness that I wish wasn't there. You're closed off Endy---Darien. Afraid of letting anyone, even me, near you. And by your show today, it looked like you couldn't ride a horse to save your life!"

Darien's eyes drooped with a fleeting quirk at her last remarked. He turned and sat on the bench, ignoring the soreness that greeted him. His mind drifted, his voice soft. "Where I come from… there's a girl." He stared into the dark bushes and shadowed flowers. "She looks just like you. When I first saw you this morning, I actually thought that she WAS you. Her name is Serena, but I've always called her "Meatball Head" or "Hurricane Serena." He heard the swishing of a dress as Serenity sat down beside him. He continued as he felt her hand rest on his shoulder.

"I always make fun of her. She has the tendancy to have..uh..clutzy moments. And her school habits are also an easy target. There's a lot of things. It started from day one. We became nemesis's, and that's how it always will be."

His head shot up at the sound of Serenity giggling. He looking at her confused, not seeing the humor.

The girl bit her lip, still smiling. "I'm sorry. I guess I have no choice but to believe you now, you surely couldn't have forgotten what it was like when we met."

His brow furrowed waiting for her to grace him with an explanation.

She shrugged. "It started harmlessly enough. A few curt remarks. Soon enough though, there was a storm whenever we met. We couldn't see each other without arguing once. I would lose my head, insulting the Prince of Earth with furious ease, and Mother would always be furious afterwards for my "atrocious and unlady-like" behavior. It made me angrier that your parents never knew and believed you to be acting the perfect angel to the high Princess. I remember the times when I would fume on my bed, plotting your death!" Serenity laughed. "There's a fine line between love and hate, didn't you know that Darien?"

"Yeah… I've heard that," Darien admitted with a slight smile.

"So... why don't we go back, and tell your mom to cover for us? You have to see my home before you go."

"I don't ever want to leave," he breathed seriously.

She shook her head slightly as she stood up, a smile on her lips. She leaned over and kissed his cheek, taking his hand and leading him back.

* * *

Darien stared at the rosy cheeked woman with twinkling dark eyes and a crown of auburn hair.

"So will you? I'll try not to steal him for long," Serenity said from beside him.

The woman laughed heartily. "Oh dear, don't worry about it! Just go before 'his majesty' sees you." She turned to Darien, idly fixing the silky cloth around his neck and tucking it further. "You just mind yourself, and remember, the girl is 'always' right." She and Serenity shared a laugh.

A quirk pulled at his lips, something in him flip flopping joyously. Just once, he had always wanted to know what it was like to have a mother. If only this could last forever. Pushing away his hesitancy, he stepped up and hugged the woman. "I'll see you later... Mother." She blinked at him but seemed pleased.

Serenity lead him away. Somewhere in the crowd though, four colorfully dressed girls stepped in front of them. Darien almost choked.

"Where do you think you to are going?" Raye asked with a raised eyebrow---at least it looked like Raye. His eyes scanned the other three, mentally ticking off their names. Mina, Lita, Amy. Wizard of Oz BIZARRE.

"To the moon."

Darien shot a startled look at Serenity's simple answer. "The moon?"

Serenity kept her smile, though her eyes darted widely over at him. She snapped her head back to the four. "We have permission. Bye!" Quickly, she scurried Darien away and let out a sigh when they walked into an empty corridor.

She looked over at him. "Haven't you ever been to the moon where you're from?"

He laughed and shook his head. "Yeah right. Only astronauts go there---well, I think one of the members of N 'SYNC did, but that's different. And besides, we get videos and pictures all the time from it. Mostly rocks and stars."

She stopped. "Really? That's sad. I guess you'll never get another chance then!"

Without another word she brought them into one of the room's. The only thing it contained, a large archway.

"What are we doing here?"

"Walking through that archway there." She held his hand, and strolled toward the structure.

Something was... odd about this. When they went through the archway, it felt like walking through a sheet of still water, or like sticking your finger through a bubble without it popping. After the odd feeling, they were standing on a marble platform, surrounded by swaying trees and stars. His mouth dropped open. Serenity giggled at his shocked face as he turned to look through the archway, seeing no signs of the castle they were in. He looked at her and shook his head. "Should've expected that..." She laughed more.

"So... this is the moon?" he lifted a brow.

"Mmm-hmm. Look up."

Oh man... His gaze latched on the floating marble Earth in the black sky. "That's gotta take some getting use to." He turned back to her and gestured to the innocent archway. "So, you can get around like that to any planet you want?"

"Of course not, silly! Planets are too far away, you need spaceships for that. Almost all planets though have this to go to their respected moon's. It's close enough to be able to use the tranportation portal."

For the next hour, Serenity excitedly showed her home to him. The palace, and then the gardens. Her face glowed. Heck, his probably did! Everything was perfect, everything felt right.

He stared into Serenity's eyes as they sat on the rim of a fountain. The soft trickling water and chirping insects hung in the air with the perfume of flowers. All the flowers had a scent he had found out, some reminding him of vanilla. They dotted the trees and bushes in silver and lilac, the earth having the same effect on them as the moon had to the ones on earth.

It was in that time, when all the happiness seemed to overflow from inside, that the dizziness struck. He drooped his head, shaking it lightly. Serenity's hand laid on his shoulder.

"No!" Darien cursed under his breath as the whoozy feeling crept through him. He blinked, looking desperately at Serenity. "It's taking me back." He breathed heavily, his heart racing. Not now! Not now!

Serenity's concerned face melted into a smile. "You were meant to go back."

Darien shook his head angrily, his voice hoarse. "I don't want to lose you!"

"But don't you see? You won't! Somehow, I am there too. It makes sense for me to be there. We were meant to be together, no matter where, or when. All you have to do is tell her."

"But---"

"Shhhh." She placed a finger over his lips. "Just trust me." And then she kissed him, and Darien relaxed, feeling the warmth and joy that at least this girl loved him. But too soon, he couldn't fight the drowsiness, and in a blink, Serenity wasn't there. He drifted in the murky atmosphere for a minute, before realizing that he could feel his body, a cold floor and aching head… and a sore bottom and chest that went against his logic of it all being a dream. He blinked his eyes open, but everything was still dark, except for a low glow of the flashlight that hit against a cabinet. The electricity was out. He groaned and rubbed his forehead, rolling his stiff neck and shoulders as he pushed himself up. Then his eyes glanced to the microwave, startled to find the glowing blue time. The electric did work! Relieved, he flipped the kitchen light, blinking his eyes as the clean orderly room was revealed.

He walked over to the kitchen table, staring blankly down at an innocent looking cupcake and golden locket. Picking up the locket, he dropped into the closest chair. The locket was closed, the music shut off even though he knew he heard it just before he blacked out. Serenity. The emptiness inside was there again, just as if it never left. The apartment hallow and stiff, quiet as always.

His life still the lame existence.

He dropped his head in his hands, the locket thumping back onto the table . He wanted to go back. Wanted to see Serenity, her glittering blue eyes and smile. Wanted to see her golden Meatball hairstyle, wanted to kiss her. Wanted to say that he loved her…

In his self-pity he took note of the music box sounding melody. He lifted his head, staring blankly at the locket that had magically opened and begun playing and a smile crept across his face which altered further into a grin.

* * *

Darien barged through the arcade's doors and into the café area with a dopey grin, the orange seat covers and happy face stickers that Andrew had stuck on the counter for once not irritating him. "Hey Andrew!"

Andrew blinked up at him with a gaping mouth which recovered into a smile. "Hey Darien. Looks like you're feeling better."

"Yeah, yeah I am," Darien laughed. God, it felt good to laugh. "Get me some strawberry ice cream would you?"

Andrew lifted an eyebrow before turning around and stopping short. "It's seven fity-six!"

Darien rose his eyebrows. "So?"

"The meeting!" Andrew yelled frantically. "I told you eight o clock!"

Darien shrugged. "What's the big deal? Tell them I was sick."

Andrew frowned.

"So, get me that ice cream?"

Andrew's brow furrowed.

"You okay there?"

Andrew collapsed in the stool beside Darien. "Me? What happened to you?" Andrew gestured with his hands. "You're well… happy!"

Darien grinned. "Yeah, yeah I am." He looked down for a moment, staring at the golden locket in his hands. "I think I'm in love."

Andrew stared at him. "You do?"

"Yeah. I mean, I never expected it! But… she's amazing. Everything just feels right with her. And her smile!" Darien stopped short at Andrew's struck look melting into that "oh no" one. "What's wrong?"

"Oh God," Andrew muttered. "I should never have pushed her! I just… well thought."

"Who? The person at the park? Andrew, you knew I didn't want to be set up!"

"Yeah, but---" Andrew gestured weakly in the air. "I thought you really cared for her."

Darien's brow scrunched. Now how did he ever give that impression? "Who?"

"With all that teasing and everything. I just thought it was for show, you know? And I knew how she felt…"

Darien snapped up, getting a deep suspicion. "Who?"

Andrew shook his held, still muttering.

Cursing, Darien shook him. "Goddamit, Andrew, tell me who!"

Andrew stuttered for a moment before answering. "Serena."

Darien froze. Serena? Something began bloating inside him. "She's at the park? Now?" A grin started crawling across his face.

Andrew frowned. "Yeah…"

"This is great!" He slid a hand through his hair.

"How…" Andrew's eyes widened, "It's her?"

Darien laughed. "Of course it's Meatball Head. Who else would I fall for? Oh no!"

Andrew scratched his brow. Darien sure changed emotions quickly…

"How many minutes till it's eight?"

"Two."

"No! See you later, Andrew!"

Darien rushed out onto the sidewalk and ran… Before being struck to a frozen position as a certain area on his body screamed and burned in resistance. Okay, maybe not run… but walk, walk quickly, very quckly. Ooh, ahh ohh, owe, eeh, ahh.

* * *

He wasn't coming. Serena's arms wound around her as she stared through glazed eyes at the park's lake. I won't cry, I won't. She suppressed a sigh, checking her watch; 8:06

Give it up, Serena. Didn't you expect this?

It hurt too much for her to have expected this.

Somewhere inside, that damn part of her had played a happily ever after; Had seen it, hoped for it, and believed it.

She was a Meatball Head. Why was she still even standing there?

Her eyes burned, fingers curling tightly into fists. Forcing down the part of her that said to stay, she turned and begun walking home. And stopped. Why can't I just LEAVE?

With a sigh, she turned to the lake, eyes cast on the silver ripples on the surface. It was beautiful there. Maybe… she would just stay… a few more minutes. Trying to convince herself that she wasn't still expecting him to come, she walked next to the dock and sat on the bench.

Minutes swept by and still she hadn't moved. Her eyes were still blank, her thoughts numb. Suddenly, her fingers clenched at her sides and she stood up, brown creasing and lips trembling. Her chest heaved for a minute until she forced her face into an expressionless mask. She shut her eyes briefly with a sigh and turned and walked away.

"Serena!"

Serena's head shot over her shoulder, hand jumping to scrub away a runaway tear. He came? Was the only bewildered thought.

He was bent over and panting, but when he looked up, there was a grin on his face.

Oh God, he's smiling, she thought weakly. It… didn't look like pity. She bit her lip as he straightened and walked to her.

Her eyes widened as he laid his hands on her shoulders, idly brushing her bangs back. Her heart picked up.

"Sorry I'm late," he offered.

Her mouth dropped silently. Still dazed, she reached her hand up to his that rested on the side of her face, sending him a questioning and vulnerable gaze.

Darien grinned. "I think I'm in love with you… Meatball Head."

For once, the name sounded like an endearment, and the previous words---did he really just say that? Her mouth dropped open.

"Well," Darien laughed nervously, "You going to say somethin?"

A tear ran down her face, so much different than the one before it. Darien's brow could furrowed only slightly before she was hugging him and laughing. A hoarse giddy laugh. She pulled back, a smile stretching across her face. "I think I'm in love with you, too."

Darien's head leaned down, her eyes closing at the kiss. Guess this meant she couldn't get her milkshake, something in her laughed. Well maybe not. She pulled back with a grin. "Let's head to the arcade. Andrew's probably biting his nails by now."

Darien laughed and nodded, not hearing the music until Serena's brow scrunched.

"What's that?"

Darien blinked before pulling out the locket. "This? It was… a present from a friend. It has this.. odd uh, habit, of playing for no reason." His lip quirked, eyes dancing on the girl before him. Maybe not for no reason. "I think though… that she would have wanted you to have it." Serena gasped as he laid the chain around her neck, her fingers curling around it.

"But---" She shrugged her shoulders weakly. "It's your birthday. And you said it was a present?"

Shaking his head, Darien laid a finger over her lips. "Meatball Head, just accept it."

She smiled. "So… to the arcade then?"

"To the arcade." Darien slung an arm over his shoulder as they started walking.

"What do you think we should do tomorrow? It's Sunday."

He laughed tightly. "I don't care. As long as it's not horseback riding."

"Oh! Why no---"

He quickly interuppted her with a kiss.

_________________________________________________________

Story by Star =)

[ stargirl152001@cs.com ]

Begun: August 1st, 2002

Finished: August 12th, 2002

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