I dont own Sailor Moon at all. Not even one DVD.
Chapter 1: Serena
I wipe the sweat from my brow as I face off against the latest youma to attack Tokyo. A lone soldier, I stand alone in the park that has become a battlefield. The other scouts are not here, having left this morning for the entire weekend; Lita had a karate competition, Raye was going to some priestess retreat, Mina was visiting a cousin while Ami was visiting her sick grandmother. It wasn't the first time one or more of the girls had been out of town, but it was a rare occurrence when all but one was left. They had thought it would be ok; the NegaVerse had been quiet lately. But the blood trickling into my eye and the stinging sensation on my arms and legs from several nasty gashes sustained in the fight told me otherwise. It was definitely not ok.
"Where are your friends Sailor Moon? No one to save you tonight?" the monster known as Flavara crowed.
I honestly don't know why the NegaVerse named them when we scouts defeated them almost as soon as they had been summoned. Nevertheless it had a good point, Tuxedo Mask had yet to show himself in this battle, and it unnerves me that maybe the hero of Tokyo himself was also out of town and unable to help either.
It was all up to me now.
The monster continues to cackle while I fight the overwhelming tide of fatigue threatening to overcome me. It's near 12pm on a Friday night and I've been fighting for the last half hour. It's time for this battle to end. I desperately draw on all my remaining energy reserves and prepare to fling the tiara at the beast. The tiara alights in my hand, becoming brighter and brighter as it energises. But just as I ready myself to hurl it, the youma sends a wave of energy towards me. I've been knocked off my feet and my current position is now flat on my back on the ground. Ouch.
I raise myself up on my elbows to glare at the youma, only to find it's no longer where it had been. I frantically look around but still cannot see it.
"AH-HA!" I hear the cry from above me.
I look up to see the youma leap from a tree to land with its feet planted either side of my waist. Fear makes me freeze with the realisation that I am going to die. I meet the youma's eyes, but I'm no longer afraid. I am going to die. I wonder briefly if they would find the body of Sailor Moon or Serena Tsukino in the park the next morning.
"Sayonara Sailor Moon!" it sneers, raising its hands to deliver the final blow.
The blow never comes. I hear a howl of denial echo through the night as a dozen black roses pierce the thick armour of the youma, and watch awestruck as one of the roses miraculously hits the 'sweet spot'. The youma cries out its last breath before exploding in an array of coloured dust to be swept away by the wind, nevermore to disturb the peace of Tokyo again.
I breathe a sigh of relief before allowing myself to fall back on the grass. My eyes close as the last few particles of the youma drift away into the night, borne by the cool wind. My mind is blank with the shocking realisation that it could well have been my soul drifting away into nothingness but for the saving grace of a rose well aimed. My respite is all too brief as a pair of hands grasps my shoulders to shake me harshly while a panicked voice cries my name.
I will myself to open my eyes and face my saviour. I'm slightly surprised to see his face stricken with panic and fear that recedes to be replaced by relief when he sees me looking back at him. I open my mouth to speak, to let him know I am alright. But my voice is silenced by his lips crashing down upon mine while his arms wind around me, pulling me roughly to him.
But I respond with equal ardour, wrapping my arms around his neck as my tears fall down my cheeks to mingle with our fevered kisses. We need each other right now, in this moment when death had so ominously hovered over us. I press myself into him, forgetting everything but the feel of his hard body against me. He leaves my lips temporarily to kiss away my tears before trailing a path of butterfly kisses down the side of my face and along my jaw to return to my waiting mouth. I welcome him readily and give him entrance when his tongue demands it. He slides fully into my mouth to mate with my tongue possessively. There is nothing soft about this kiss. It was our lifeline, proof that we still exist in this world.
I never expected my first kiss to be like this.
All too soon we break away from each other, panting lightly. He lays his head in the crook of my neck as if to assure himself that I am still there.
"Will you be ok?" he asks me, his voice husky.
"I will be," I reply.
He helps me to my feet and I thank him softly before turning away toward home. Had I bothered to look I would have seen him watching me go for a moment before turning away himself to disappear into the night.
Chapter 2: Serena
"How was your weekend Serena?"
I pause. "Uneventful," I finally lie. There really is no easy way to say 'I was almost killed three days ago, thank you for asking, can you please pass the salt?' in a crowded Arcade to your closest friends. Or that I was kissed senseless by Tuxedo Mask straight after. So why tell at all?
"Well I had a ton of fun at the karate competition. I came in second place!" Lita says, pumping her fist enthusiastically.
"Me too, my cousin and I went on a major shopping spree..." Mina enthuses.
About this point I zone out to watch the bubbles I am blowing in my milkshake. I don't know how long I sit there staring into the chocolatey abyss, but I know it had to have been for some time bcause Raye's voice is suddenly breaking through my reverie.
"Meatball head come on! We're going now!" the dark haired girl says, pulling on my arm.
I sigh softly, understanding Raye's tone of voice meant that another youma was terrorising Tokyo. I wonder if this would ever end, then smiled ruefully at the thought. It had almost ended permanently Friday night.
The fight is mercifully brief. The youma it seemed had been sent mainly to gather energy rather than present a direct threat to the Sailor Scouts. Sailor Mars easily distracts it with her flame attack while I power up my moon tiara attack from a safe distance away. The memory of Friday night is still fresh in my mind and I am in no hurry to put myself in danger's way again.
I call out my attack signale and easily hurl the tiara at the youma. As usual, it shrieks before bursting into dust. I allow myself a small smile; destroying the youma brought back a little of my confidence and I feel better for it. It feels much nicer than feeling weak and vulnerable.
"Let's go Moon," Sailor Venus says, calling me away.
Right... temple meeting. How could I forget?
I follow the girls to a secluded spot in the park where we detransform before making our way to the temple. Arriving there I plunk myself down on a cushion while Raye makes some tea as Lita, Ami and Mina gossip some more about their weekend away. I watch them somewhat dazedly, my friends. What would they have done without me if I had died?
Raye returns with the tea and the meeting progresses. Luna has arrived by that point and is blahing on about the NegaVerse and finding the Princess.
Blah, blah, blah.
I notice that the girls and Luna are looking at me expectantly and I nod my head as if I had been listening. It is Luna's next words that truly bring me out of my inner musings.
"Wonderful Serena, then you will take the first patrol of the city tonight."
Uh... okay... just what have I gotten myself into?
Several hours later it is apparent that the girls and Luna had decided to patrol the city for a few hours each night. I had volunteered for the first shift by nodding my head. So now I stand atop a tall building in Tokyo's commercial district, my senses peeled for signs of negative energy. Thus far I haven't felt any negative energies, but at this moment I do feel a prickle on the back of my neck.
"I know you're there," I say softly, my voice carrying to him on the breeze.
He steps out of the shadows and stands only a few feet behind me. I don't need to turn to see to know that his cape billowing out gently behind him.
"How long have you been following me?" I ask.
"Since I felt you transform," he replies.
I shiver involuntarily; his voice was like liquid silk caressing my innermost parts.
"You can feel me transform?" I whisper, me eyes still taking in the Tokyo skyline. That's news to me.
The silence stretches between us, intensifying as I slowly turn to him. Now facing each other, the question in my eyes, rather than the silence, now looms before us. If he can feel me transform, where was he Friday night?
"I was detained. I am sorry I wasn't there for you sooner the other night," he finally says, the once deep timbre of his voice now a soft rasp in the breeze.
He stands there looking at me forlornly, his sorrow evident in his entire being from the grim set of his mouth, to his rigid stance and bowed head.
I close the distance between us, aching to heal his wound. He blames himself, and wrongly so. I cup his cheek, forcing him to meet my eyes.
"I know. I understand," I say.
He looks at me incredulously, as if to say I couldn't understand how he felt seeing me laying there helpless, and all because he had been 'detained'. But I do. Had I not done the same? Had I never seen my friends and fellow senshei hurt because I had been late to a battle? I do understand, more than he realises.
I look up into his eyes that usually mask his emotions as well as his white domino masks his face. But his gaze is open to me now, and I can see his inner turmoil, his self-loathing, anger, and fear; fear for me. An indescribable longing to heal him of his wounds rises up in me and I respond to its call. Stepping forward, I wrap my arms around him in a gentle hug.
Chapter 3: Darien
"I was detained. I am sorry I was not there for you sooner the other night," I said, my voice sounding like a rasp even to my own ears.
I had been at the hospital working a shift. I'm studying to become a doctor and its part of my curriculum. I was attending to an elderly patient when I felt her transform. I wasn't worried, she has her scouts and I would finish in 20 minutes in time to help if the fight even lasted that long. But it wasn't a short fight, and every minute I could feel her fear rising. By the time I finished f I literally ran out of there as fast as my feet could take me.
The minutes it took me to get to her were almost the worst of my life. She was tired and scared, and I knew something was wrong. I'd almost arrived when I felt her fear peak then subside. Looking back I realise in that moment she had known she was going to die, and accepted it. How I hate myself knowing that if I had been there a second later she would have died.
So here I stand on this lonely rooftop, staring at her. I still cannot believe she's alive and... walking over to me? She is standing before me now and her mouth is moving, forming words that I barely hear.
"I know. I understand."
How can she understand? It's not possible. But she looks at me with those clear blue eyes and I realise she does understand. It doesn't matter, I still hate myself.
She's still looking at me, cupping my face in her small hand but then it is gone, replaced by her small body pressing against mine as she hugs me. I cannot help but return the embrace, grateful for her comforting presence. I close my eyes and enjoy the moment. It's been a long time since I had been simply held and held onto someone myself. Thirteen years... since my parents died.
"Where were the scouts the other night?" I blurt out unthinking. Inside my mind I groan and slap my forehead. I'm Tuxedo Mask, dashing hero by night and Darien Chiba, straight-A student by day, and here I am making a fool of myself over one girl.
Well, one petite, gorgeous girl with luminous eyes and soft golden hair who happens to be in my arms at the moment.
I feel her smile against me and shrug, "They were out of town."
They were what?
I didn't realise I had said that aloud until she speaks again.
"We do have lives you know," she says, an amused grin on her face, "Just like you do. At least I think you do, maybe you just hang around in your tuxedo and mask all day."
I laugh. I can't believe she's teasing me. We've never spoken more than a few words to each other in passing before tonight. I decide I like talking to her.
"No, I do have a life," I reply.
She smiles at me before breaking the embrace and turning her gaze to the city below us. I miss her warmth already, but push the feeling aside. I instead watch her profile for a moment and realise she is scanning the city for signs of trouble. This is a new development. Trouble is usually here before the Sailor Scouts get there, not the other way around.
"What are you doing out so late Sailor Moon, and with no danger about?" I ask her.
"It's been decided that we will patrol the city for a few hours each night," she replies absently.
"You didn't want to?"
"No, I just wasn't listening at the scout meeting and ended up agreeing to take the first shift without knowing what I was agreeing to. Imagine my surprise when I found out that I would be missing the warm comfort of my bed tonight," she said wryly. She looks at me, "What are you doing out here so late... and with no danger about?" her voice sounding mock-serious on the last few words.
She's teasing me again. I like it. But her question reminds me of just why I came and it darkens my mood.
"I was late last time, I didn't want to be late again," I say softly.
She smiles at me sadly, "I'm glad you're here. The girls think that I had an uneventful weekend. Little do they know, don't you think?"
I'm shocked by her revelation, "Why didn't you tell them?"
She considers me for a moment, her head tilting slightly to the side. Finally she speaks, "It felt too personal to tell."
Her voice is soft and full of meaning. I wish I could say I didn't understand but I did. I lost my parents when I was young. I mean, sure plenty of kids lose their parents at a young age, this world is no stranger to tragedy. But it was my parents who died, it's my story, and I don't happen to like to tell it. It's too personal.
I smile at her, using her own words to convey my empathy, "I know. I understand."
She smiles at my response, and to my delight she laughs. But soon her laughter dies away to be replaced by a look of solemnity. I want her to laugh again.
"I feel so strange now. I've come close to being seriously hurt, but I've never known what it was to be seconds away from death. It's a horrifyingly calm moment to accept your own death. Sometimes I feel like I'm still there in that moment," she says.
Her voice is soft and toneless, but there is a strange wonder in her voice and I know it well. It is the sound of innocence lost, replaced by a new understanding; something that happened to me when I was 6.
It's my turn to comfort her. I wrap my arms around her, holding her to me. She leans into me, resting her head on my chest. Together we stand there, watching the stars make their way across the sky. At some point we part and she murmurs that it is time for her to go home. We stand there for a moment facing each other. We don't speak, and we don't need to. We will turn and go our separate ways... for now.
As I leap across the rooftops of Tokyo, I suddenly remember that we didn't even get around to talking about that kiss...
Chapter 4: Serena
I'm laying a lot of hints down about how Serena and Darien view each other in this story. They both have a relatively idealised image of the other. Wonder how it will pan out when they find out who each other really is in the end?
"Serena, talk to me, hellooo" a voice says to me.
I'm daydreaming again. It's been exactly 7 days since I nearly died and 4 days since I saw him while on patrol. Seven days, my one week anniversary of having my first ever kiss. Can you blame me for daydreaming about it? I also know I've got a stupid grin on my face, but I can't help it. Again, can you blame me? Tuxedo Mask is dreamy.
"Serena!" another voice says, this time it's joined by a hand waving itself in front of my face. Its reality calling me – and I don't want to answer.
"Yeah?" I say, flushing a little when I realise my voice sounds slightly slurred.
"Where did you go Meatball Head? We've been trying to get your attention for the past five minutes!" Raye says, her annoyance evident in the way she's pouting at me with her hands on her hips. Most people would be afraid of her, my best friend. She's a fiery girl, very outspoken and blunt. But I like that about her, I wish I were like her sometimes. She's so graceful and elegant with her perfect skin and ebony hair.
"Hey Serena we're still here you know!" Lita says this time.
"Sorry," I say, blinking my eyes rapidly as I force myself to focus on the four girls in front of me. Raye has her arms folded now, Ami is giving me a curious look while Lita just grins at me. Good, everything is normal. That is until I see Mina giving me the look. I desperately pretend nonchalance. I don't need her to –
"Who is he Serena?"
"Who's who?" I ask innocently, my senses screaming deny! Deny! DENY!
"The guy you were just day dreaming about," she says smugly.
I laugh nervously, "Eh… I wasn't day dreaming about a guy," – ok, so I suck at lying.
"You WERE!" Lita and Raye squeal. You'd think they'd won the lottery.
"What's with all the noise girls?" I hear Andrew's voice say from across the Arcade. Yes, the girls were that loud.
Heaven help me; answer my prayer.
"Serena was day dreaming about a guy!" Mina shrieks joyfully.
Thank you Mina for utterly humiliating me. I bang my head on the table in my embarrassment and send another fervent prayer to the powers-that-be. I hear a beeping noise coming from Ami. I smile, prayer answered.
"We have to go!" I practically shout. I've never been so happy for a youma to show up in my life!
The girls follow me out of the Arcade grudgingly, and I know, I just know that they will tie me down and torture the information they want out of me; and I have a very low pain threshold. There's only one thing to do: Run away immediately after the fight and pray I'm fast enough.
I do just that. The main part of the fight lasts only a minute; probably because the girls want to get the youma out of the way so that they can finally interrogate me, so it's time for me to dust this youma. I pivot on my heel and spin, flinging the tiara from my hand.
You know I discovered a funny thing about my tiara while the girls were away. It returns to me wherever I go... and I haven't told them about it yet. So the second the tiara leaves my hand I turn and run from the battle. I know my tiara is going to hit the youma and it'll be dust in about 30 seconds. That's a 30 second head-start. I'm quite pleased with my cunning at the moment and it shows in the silly grin on my face.
"Sailor MOON!" I hear a shout behind me.
They've realised I'm gone. I feel a burst of adrenalin in my veins and laugh at the irony – I face youma's every other day, but I think facing my four friends scares me more. I turn a corner and am suddenly yanked into an alley.
What the hell?
I spin around, prepared to punch whoever has dared grab me into next week, but just as I draw my fist back I freeze.
"Tuxedo Mask?" I gape. I narrow my eyes, "You do NOT go grabbing girls and dragging them into alleys like that! I was this close to leaving an indentation of my fist in your face!" I hiss, bringing up my thumb and forefinger to his face to show him just how close I was to hitting him.
He grins at me. Jerk. It makes me positively melt. He has such a sexy smile. Focus Serena! FOCUS! It's then I hear the sound of footsteps on the pavement and voices. It's the girls.
"I know she went this way!" I hear faintly.
I flatten myself against the brick wall of the alley and push Tuxedo Mask back against the wall with my hand. He looks at me curiously but stays put. I watch anxiously as the girls race past, still transformed. They don't notice us and I breathe a sigh of relief.
"What was that about?" he asks me.
"They think I was daydreaming about a guy and being teenage girls absolutely must know every detail," I say, carefully peering out of the alley to check that they were really gone.
"Were you?" he asks, amused.
I'm saved from having to answer by a whizzing sound through the air. My trusty tiara has found me. It whooshes into the alley and into my outstretched hand. I cram it back on my forehead -handy little thing it is.
"I didn't know that thing had a homing beacon," he says, looking at it with interest.
"Yeah, I only discovered it this past week while the girls were away. Lucky for me they don't know about it yet either," I chuckle, reliving my daring escape. I hear a beeping sound and realise it's my communicator. I flick it open to see four faces staring intently from the monitor.
"Okay Miss Moon, if you want to be like that and not tell your very best friends in the whole wide world about a certain something then we've decided that tonight's your night to patrol again," Mina says with a smirk.
"Yeah Moon. Then maybe you can think about the true meaning of friendship. I hear it's going to be a cold one tonight," Lita says, poking her tongue out at me.
"Uh huh," I respond before clicking the communicator shut with a grin. Hey, if it comes down to facing my friends or the cold, I'll take the lesser of two evils thanks – the cold it is!
"Want some company?" I hear Tuxedo Mask drawl beside me.
I smile at him, "Sure."
Chapter 5: Darien
"Want some company?"
Did that just come out of my mouth? Baka Tuxedo Mask!
"Sure," she says with a smile.
I try not to let my relief show. I do have an image to uphold.
"Hey, let's go up and watch the sunset," she says happily, looking at the golden sky above us.
I nod and follow her as she takes a few quick steps before leaping to the roof above. It's a couple meters high and I'm impressed she makes it. I mean, I know she's a superhero, but I am the one who swoops in a saves her all the time when she klutzes out.
We end up on one of the taller buildings on the outskirts of Tokyo, dangling our legs over the side of the roof facing the sunset. She looks completely breathtaking as the fading rays of the sun caress her face almost as if to memorise her features before they finally slip behind the horizon. I grimace at how corny I am as Tuxedo Mask. It's a blessing and a curse being a superhero.
"So when do we start patrolling?" I ask, saying something – anything – to break the silence.
"Hn... I already am."
I frown, "You're sitting watching a sunset."
She pointed to her hair, "I can sense trouble. I don't need to go looking for it. The first time I heard the screams when I transformed it was a real eye-opener that being a superhero wasn't all that glamorous," she says absently, staring down at the city below.
Seeing her darkened outline as the sun set while we sat upon the rooftop gives me this eerie impression of her as an avenging angel, ready to descend from the heavenlies to protect all that is good and right. With her golden hair blowing in the evening breeze, fluttering against her alabaster skin, the picture is almost perfect except for the tight, mini-skirted body suit.
I realise I'm staring and quickly turn my head back to the horizon, hoping she didn't see.
"How long have you been Sailor Moon?" I ask her, curious about her first battle.
She puckers her lips and looks at me from the corner of her eye, "You were there. Don't you remember? The Osa-P Jewellery store."
I flush beneath my mask, "Uh..."
Just how does anyone explain blacking out to become a superhero and waking up with no memory of it ever happening? It hardly fits Tuxedo Mask's, my, superhero persona. Sure every superhero is just a man behind the mask, but the fact remains that the mask is there. I decide not to tell her.
"I forgot. My apologies," I say stiffly.
So... since the Osa-P Jewellery store. I search my memory and figure out that she's been Sailor Moon for about 8 or 9 months now. Maybe that's how long I've been Tuxedo Mask.
I see her shiver and realise she's cold. Baka Tuxedo Mask (again).
"Here," I say, shuffling closer to her to wrap my cape about her shoulders.
I could have taken my cape off and just given it to her, but then she wouldn't be pressed up against me now would she? I'd like to think of it as a variation of the old yawn-and-put-your-arm-around-'em trick. A classic move if ever there was one. I cringe... I'm glad she can't read my thoughts and realise that beneath the suave exterior I'm not as debonair and charming as I seem. I'm just your regular guy with a crush taking advantage of the cool breeze. Smooth I know.
"Thanks," I hear her say softly as she pulls the cape around her.
I've always wanted to be close to her... away from battle that is. I guess you could say she's one of the few people I admire. She's young (how young I'm not sure), but most days she saves the lives of countless people. She has an inner strength that rises up every time she's beaten down. I know, I've been there to see it. Yet here she sits, with me, wrapped in my cape, humbly doing her duty – AND she hasn't hurt me yet for kissing her that night.
Admittedly I would have never done such a thing under normal circumstances. I've thought about it, but she always seemed so far out of reach... so beyond my grasp. But seeing her lay there motionless, even after the youma had been defeated, broke my normal control. I was so, so relieved when she opened her eyes and I knew she was ok that I just reacted. I can't say I'm glad that she almost died... but is it wrong of me to be grateful that since then she's become just that little bit more attainable to me? That maybe the heroine of Tokyo is not too good for Darien Chiba?
Only one way to find out...
"Sailor Moon... can we talk about that night?"
Chapter 6: Darien
"What about that night?" she asks me breezily, as if there were nothing to talk about.
Ok. If that's how she wants to play it.
"I just wanted to know if you were ok," I reply stonily, not liking the feeling of my heart sinking in my chest.
She is too good for Darien Chiba. So now I know.
"I'm fine. Are you ok? You don't look too well," she says, glancing at me curiously.
I swallow thickly, my heart undecided between continuing to sink down into my stomach, or lurch forward in a sudden, determined bravery.
"It's not every day you see someone you've come to care for knocking on death's door," I say quietly, my eyes focussed on the city below us.
She sighs beside me, "I'm sorry," she replies in an equally quiet voice.
"It's not your fault," I sigh back, rubbing my temples with my thumb and forefinger.
I feel her wrap her arms around me and rest her head on my shoulder.
"It's ok," she shushes me.
"It's not ok," I hiss through my teeth, my fists clenching.
How can she say its ok? Does she know of my link to her? Does she know that I am driven, beyond fear, reason and comprehension to her side whenever I am called? Does she understand that in the moment I saw her lying there about to die that I felt my world shatter? Hell, I don't even know how I can feel all this for someone I barely know, but I do and everything just exploded inside me in that instant I knew she was ok that I kissed her-
Her finger is suddenly at my lips, hushing me. I hadn't even realised I'd be talking. I glance at her apologetically for my outburst; I'm not usually so emotional. But she's not looking at me, she's staring out at the city.
"You know, it was my first kiss," she says, a wry smile on her face. She looks at me, "Not my first ever kiss. I mean, Georgie Parker in grade six did steal my first kiss on the swing set. But that was my first... uh... kiss kiss, you know?" she explains, looking thoroughly amused, as if she held a secret to herself.
"Really?" I say, letting go of the breath I've been holding.
"Uh huh," she grins, shooting me an accusatory glance.
I flush beneath my mask, "I'm sorry... I... uh... I suppose you expect your first kiss... you know... to be something... er... different," I say, struggling to find the right words to say that would convey my apologies without giving away my extreme embarrassment at having ravished her mouth the other night.
She takes my hand in hers, "There's no need to be sorry. In my very limited experience it was a nice kiss," she says with a grin, teasing me.
How I love this girl.
"In fact, it was what I was thinking about today, and what the girls wanted to know about when you found me."
I'm stunned, "You were thinking of me?"
She giggles, "You're Tuxedo Mask, hero of Tokyo and literally my own personal hero," she says, as if it explains everything.
But it doesn't. She's Sailor Moon; amazing, gorgeous, heroine of Tokyo. And I, I am Darien Chiba – orphan. But even though it doesn't make sense, my heart leaps with joy. She thinks it was a nice kiss and she was thinking of me.
"So, it was a nice kiss?" I ask her as casually as I can.
Yes, if you must know, I'm wondering if she'd ever consider letting me kiss those heavenly lips again.
She smiles, almost dreamily (I hope), "Yes. As far as kisses go, I uh... think I forgot my own name for a moment there."
She giggles at her joke, and I smile along with her – my smile soon turning into a rumbling chuckle. She goes to lean her head against my shoulder, but I turn my body to wrap my arms around her. Her head ends up fitting perfectly under my chin and my hands wrap easily around her waist.
"I'm glad you're here," she murmurs, burying her head into my chest, "You have this uncanny ability to make me forget all my troubles."
I smile at her, she has this uncanny ability to get to me like no one else has.
I stroke the back of her neck with my hand, revelling in being near to her. It's a dream come true. She lifts her head to gaze up at me, and a wicked thought comes to my mind. I put my arm under her legs and shift her from her seat on the edge of building and onto my lap. Surprisingly, she doesn't make a sound.
"I've got you," I murmur into her hair, breathing in her strawberry shampoo.
"You always do," she whispers back.
I look back down at her to find her still gazing at me. Our eyes lock and I cannot help myself when I bow my head to gently press my lips to hers.
Her lips taste like strawberries and as much as I want to sink myself into her mouth and partake of the sweet nectar laying therein I won't let myself get carried away. I wasted the first kiss, I won't waste this one. I wait a moment before wrapping my arms around her, gently massaging her lips with my own. I feel her eyelashes flutter against my cheek as she closes her eyes and leans into me to experimentally move her lips against mine. I let her take the lead for a moment before angling my head a little to give me better access to her mouth. She inhales sharply at the movement and I take the opportunity to open my mouth a little against hers. She mimics the action and I have to stop myself from ravishing her mouth. She has no idea how sensual her innocent movements feel.
I'm completely lost when she moans softly into my mouth and I force myself to slowly, oh-so-slowly deepen the kiss. I feel her gasp and wonder momentarily if I have gone too far. But her hands clutch to me tighter and that's my cue to continue delving into her sweet, luscious, mouth. My tongue softly catches hers, tasting and teaching her at the same time. I'm surprised at how quickly she catches on because soon I'm the one who lets out a low groan.
I soon start to feel breathless and unhappily decide to end the kiss. I lay several more butterfly kisses on her full lips and her cheek before laying my forehead against hers. It would be an understatement to say that I'm a very happy man right now.
"Why'd you stop?" she complains softly, her lips pursed into the cutest pout I have ever seen.
I grin at her and swoop back in for more. Why indeed?
Chapter 7: Andrew
I'm stunned. They, the both of them, are sitting there with silly grins on their faces not arguing for the last hour. It's insane. I can't stand it anymore! I slam my palm on the counter.
"Ok WHAT is going on you two? You both just sit there staring off into space with those idiotic grins on your faces. I want to know how the hell I missed the end of the world!"
Two pairs of unfocussed blue eyes look at me. Clearly I need to take drastic action.
I throw water on them.
"Dammit ANDREW!" Darien yells, jumping up from his stool and grabbing some serviettes to wipe his face with.
Serena still sits there with a stupid grin on her face while water dripped from her soaked fringe, down her nose and from her chin. I sigh, at least I got the attention of one of them.
"Darien, I demand to know what is going on!" I say in my most demanding voice.
"You could have just asked Andrew!" he says, miffed.
I don't yell, just take a deep breath.
"I just did," I say, "Soooo?"
He grins, running a hand through his hair to rub the back of his neck. I envy how he always looks so damn charming, even when ruffled. Especially when ruffled. Not that I don't attract my fair share of attention, I'm just saying that Darien, with his dark looks, seems to have this extra unfair helping of charisma. Anyhow...
"Just a girl I'm interested in... you don't know her. She doesn't go to Azuba. But I've known her for a while and she's pretty special... hey, what's with Meatball Head?"
I know he's holding out on me and using Serena as a distraction, but that's Darien all over. I'm lucky he even told me this much. It'll do... for now.
"She's had the same look on her face as you for the last hour. I thought I was seeing things when I saw the both of you sitting there not arguing."
"It's probably just a boy Andrew. She's a teenage girl. The very fact demands that she be boy crazy."
"But what?" Darien says, quirking an eyebrow at me, clearly wondering why I'm so interested in finding out about what's making Serena act extra spacey.
"Even when she had a crush on me she never looked like that!" I blurt out.
Yes, I admit I knew about her crush on me. I'm not blind or stupid; I was in highschool once. I also know I'm being petty, maybe a little envious that my temporary place as her crush has been usurped. So excuse me for being curious about the guy who knocked me off my pedestal.
Darien looks at me like I've grown a second head. Thankfully the moment is broken by Serena waking up from her stupor.
"Andrew, why am I all wet?"
"I um, had a little accident," I say, quickly positioning myself opposite her on my side of the counter. I have to act quickly in case she goes back to la-la land, "Serena, do you have a crush?" I ask her in my sweetest voice.
She smiles at me, "No, better," she sighs and looks up at the ceiling dreamily, "I got my first and second kiss."
Darien looks like he's about to say something snarky when -
"I KNEW IT!" a voice cries out behind us.
I look up and see Mina standing just behind Serena pointing at her with a smirk of triumph.
"I knew you were hiding something juicy from us. I didn't think it would be THIS GOOD! HOW DARE YOU NOT TELL ME!" she screams, grabbing Serena's hands and jumping about excitedly.
Darien and I stand back. It's not safe around teenage girls when they're like this.
"Who is it? Who is he!?" she asks.
I lean in. I want to know!
Serena blushes and mumbles, "I can't tell."
I don't care if she can't tell. She WILL tell! I'm ready to storm over there and demand answers, but Mina beats me to it. God bless that girl!
"Serena Tsukino. You tell me right now, or else I'll tell the girls!" Mina threatens.
Serena pales. Go Mina, she knows how to blackmail I'll give her that. I see Serena look at Mina, giving her a secret look that only friends would decipher. I hate that.
"Mina, it's... him... um... you know... he's always helping me out?"
Mina looks blankly at Serena before realisation dawns on her face. She looks at Serena shocked and I wonder if this guy is bad news given that Serena is being so secretive about him.
"Not... him?" Mina says slowly.
Who is this guy?
Mina screams, "You didn't! YOU DIDN'T! This is SO AWESOME! Man Serena, way to aim high! He must be like 19!"
"NINETEEN!?" Darien and I shout out at the same time.
"I'm nearly sixteen!" Serena shouts back at us, offended. She pouts and folds her arms. She turns back to Mina, "Please, you can't tell the girls. We were just in the moment you know?"
Mina waves her hand in the air, "Oh sure, no problem! Just don't keep things from me ever again!" she says, waving a finger in Serena's face.
Serena turns back to Darien and me, "Please don't say anything to the girls Andy? Please?" she asks me, turning those big blue eyes on me.
"Ok," I say. I'm such a sucker.
The girls go off and I am as good as forgotten. Fickle things teenage girls, but those two and their friends are a sweet bunch. I see them grab their bags and run out of the Arcade, probably off to gossip in secret. I guess it's just me and Darien.
"So Darien, tell me more about this girl?" I ask, turning to where he stood.
To my surprise, he's gone.
Chapter 8: Darien
I can't say I'm glad the NegaVerse attacked... but I do appreciate their timing. It certainly got me out of Andrew's interrogation. Not that he would have succeeded in getting anything out of me, but it would have been minutes of my life wasted dodging his questions. Usually I'm happy to talk to my best mate... but not about her. She's like a secret I want to keep close to me; someone I don't want to share with anyone else. Not even to talk about. Not yet anyway.
I arrive at the battle in time to see Sailor Moon readying her tiara attack. The other scouts hold the youma off while she powers up and, with a succession of movements, flings the tiara. Her aim is true and the monster is destroyed. Looks like I wasn't really needed here after all.
I watch as the scouts regroup for a quick debrief of the battle. They chat only for a moment and then they part ways; I wonder sometimes if they even know each other's identities, or if they only meet in battle.
I see Sailor Moon leaping my way and send a rose flying at her which lands at her feet, which she stops to bend down and pick up, and watch her to read the note attached to it. She finishes reading the note then looks up and around but fails to find my hiding place. She nods and that there is my cue to leave. I've only got an hour to prepare.
An hour later...
The note asked her to meet me in an hour at the bridge at the park – and to nod if she could make it. I arrive with minutes to spare, hoping she'll come. My heart is thudding in my chest and I feel like I'm 14 again with my first crush.
I suddenly see her walking the pathway cautiously, checking for danger. I chuckle inwardly; my note only said that I wanted to meet with her... not that I planned to whisk her away on a date. She's at the bridge now, taking slow steps toward me. She's a vision in the moonlight, her hands clasped at her waist and her eyes nervously meeting mine.
"Hi. You wanted to meet?" she says softly.
"Yes, I did. Come with me," I reply. I know I'm being mysterious, but I like to think its part of my charm.
She follows me the few minutes it takes us to reach a secluded spot on the side of a small mountain that overlooks the drive in. I've set up a picnic of sorts and a radio so we can watch the movie together. It's the best I can do for a dinner-and-a-movie-date - it's not like we can just walk into any cinema or restaurant.
"Is this a date?" she asks in surprise and with some amusement.
"If you want it to be," I say, flashing her my most charming smile.
"You didn't have to be so mysterious about it," she chuckles, "You could have just asked."
"But it's more fun this way. I don't suppose you like Indian takeout?"
"I'll eat anything. My friends are always going on about how I'm a regular bottomless pit when it comes to food," she laughs, taking a seat on the blanket.
I tune the radio to the movie station and start loading my plate with food. I look over to see her plate twice as full as mine.
"You weren't kidding about being a bottomless pit were you?" I ask with a twinkle in my eye.
"I'm not too dainty either so expect to see food all over my face as well," she retorts, poking her tongue out at me.
"You do realise you just poked your tongue out at me? How old are you?" I tease.
"Eighteen going on nineteen. So you've been Sailor Moon since you were fourteen?" I say, shocked.
She shrugs, "Yeah. Well I was nearly fifteen at the time anyway. I was the first Sailor Scout to be awakened by our guardians. Sailor Mercury was next, followed by Mars, then Jupiter and just recently Venus. I'm also the youngest. Mercury is in my year level, she's already turned sixteen. Venus is also in our year level and is also sixteen. Mars is next, she's the year above us and is seventeen. Jupiter is the oldest. She's eighteen but doing her last year of high school," she explains between mouthfuls.
"How come Jupiter's still in school?"
"She had a rough upbringing; lots of foster homes; lots of fighting at school. When she turned seventeen she got access to a trust fund set up by her grandfather. It's not a lot, but it was enough for her to support herself while she finished school and hopefully get her through college."
Well doesn't that story sound a little familiar.
"Oh. Well, what about you? What was your upbringing like?"
"Normal I suppose. My parents have been together for twenty years and I have a little brother. What about you?"
I'm silent on that topic. I should have seen where this line of conversation was going but I wanted to know about her and forgot myself.
"Ok, next topic then. How come you threw black roses that night?" she asks me.
I'm grateful for the change of topic, but thrown by her question. I've never thrown a black rose before... but I think I know the reason why. I felt the desire to kill rise up in me when I saw her lying helpless beneath the youma. I've never felt so enraged or desperately afraid in my life. Not that I'm going to tell her. I'd rather not say anything until I know more.
"I just can. They are extra powerful," I say before changing the topic, "So what is life like for you when you aren't Sailor Moon?"
She smiles, "Well, I'm a high school student with terrible test scores. Most would describe me as pretty ditzy, but I like to think I have a happy disposition on life. I spend most my nights saving the world, so I think I'm entitled to have fun and focus on the more important things like family and friends rather than studying. Besides, it's not like I'm going to be able to have a demanding career am I? My future is pretty much decided."
"That's quite blasé of you Sailor Moon," I say with a frown, "Your studies are important."
Her face grows sad and she looks away from me, "I know. But it's hard. Being Sailor Moon takes a lot of my energy away. I don't know why. It doesn't seem to affect the other girls this way. I think it's because my attacks are so powerful, but it's like I'm missing my batteries. So I end up sleeping through my classes. The people who know me now wouldn't believe I used to be a good student. Not great, but a B+ average instead of the D's I get now. I do miss doing well in school, but what can I do? There's a world to save and apparently I'm the one who has to save it," she says, tears in her eyes.
I shuffle over to her and pull her into a hug, "It must be hard. I'm sorry I made you feel bad."
She laughs into my jacket before lifting her head to wipe away her tears, "It's ok. I feel bad sometimes, but when you're constantly under a guilt trip for not ever meeting the standard you come to accept yourself. I'm not perfect, and it's ok. One day, everyone else will wake up to that as well. Till then, I'll just smile and keep my chin up. It's all I can do."
I look at her in awe, blown away by her honesty and wisdom. I pull her close to me again and rest my chin on her head.
"What about you? How's life for you when you aren't Tuxedo Mask?"
"Quite plain actually; I'm studying medicine at college so it takes up most of my time."
"What about friends? Don't you go out and have fun?" she asks, turning to face me with an offended look.
"Well I am here. This is fun," I reply back, mock-miffed.
"Oh gosh! Speaking of fun we haven't even been watching the movie!" she squeals, "Did you bring popcorn?"
I smile with amusement, she really is a bottomless pit.
"Sure, here," I say handing it to her.
She shuffles herself around to watch the movie. My hand finds hers and soon her head is resting on my shoulder. I don't think I even remembered what the movie was about when it finishes, when all I could think of through the entire thing was how sweet her hair smelled, or how smooth her skin was when I held her hand.
Our date over, I help her up only to take advantage of the moment and pull her up and into my arms. I lower my lips to hers, barely brushing them; waiting for her permission to go on. She stands on her toes, sealing the kiss. I keep it soft and chaste, though deep down I'm wanting something a little less innocent. I end the kiss and she whispers her thanks for a wonderful night then turns to leave. I watch her leap away out of sight before falling to the ground with the silliest grin ever on my face to lay there and watch the stars for a while before heading home to watch a late night movie or something. I know I'm not going to sleep tonight so I won't bother trying.
Thank goodness tomorrow is Sunday.
Chapter 9: Serena
Two months later...
Meet me at the juuban park in 15 min?, I text into my phone.
It's been two months since my first date with Tuxedo Mask, and since then he'd given me a cell so we could talk to each other more regularly rather than waiting for a random battle to bring us together. I'd shrieked joyously when he gave it to me, it was so wonderful! But I've been careful not to let anyone find it, so I always kept it at home and always on silent. I also only check it late at night when everyone is asleep, including Luna.
I lay back on the bed, dreaming about him. It had been a wonderful time with stolen kisses and whispered words after battles, coupled with sweet embraces and long kisses (which were increasing in passion and intensity) during the nights I patrolled and of course our secret dates. Life was so much more sweeter; even my run-ins with Darien-the-thorn-in-my-side-Chiba bothered me less. I was also doing better in school – a miracle in itself; to think that this one guy could make me so happy that I am actually doing well in school.
But it was hard. I'd kept our relationship secret from the girls and Luna with the exception of Mina. They still thought he was a threat, but how could he be when he's saved my life dozens of times? Mina was the only one who I knew understood. When I confided in her she'd said something about a soul connection with this mushy look on her face. I don't know about the connection but I do know what a mushy face means.
My cell lights up and I read the one word that makes my heart sing – Sure.
I flick it shut and in the darkness of my room with the blinds drawn I transform. Luna is fast asleep downstairs, and with my door closed she won't be in anytime soon. I quietly slide open my window, leaping down onto the ground from the second floor.
I arrive at the park with plenty of time to spare. It's only a few blocks from my house and always deserted at night. A few months ago I paid a discrete visit to some council officials to suggest that they close the parks at night to keep unsuspecting people from becoming victims of the NegaVerse. They agreed, and since then the number of mysterious night disappearances decreased, and I gained a sanctuary for my thoughts whenever I needed to be alone. I suppose it was a big step for me to invite him here and into my personal space, especially when I live close by.
I stare out over the man-made lake. It's amazing how close he and I have become in such a short time. It scares me sometimes, that I could feel so deeply passionate about someone that the moment they're gone I miss them desperately. It scares me too that our kisses and times together have become so much more intense when not three months ago I'd had my first kiss. But then when he's here I can't think, can't reason, can't say no to the thrum of excitement rushing through me when his lips meet mine. Is he a drug I am addicted to?
I laugh softly into the night. He makes me forget everything. It's funny how when I first met him I idolized him; now, a year later here we are making out every other night. Not that we don't get to know about eachother... but... I don't know. What are we? We certainly aren't in a 'publicly known relationship'. I suppose that would make us secret lovers... or something?
White gloves suddenly cover my eyes, bringing me from my thoughts. If I could think rationally when he is around I would have perhaps realized that my perception of our relationship is a very skewed one. I'm only 15 going on 16, how could I possibly know that there are very important things missing in our "relationship"? But I don't realise that because my back is pressed against his front and my mind is hazy with his mere presence. They're called hormones people, and often they take over your mind and body... especially when you've never felt these things before.
"Tuxedo Mask," I say with a smile.
"I didn't even say 'guess who'," he pouts from behind me, his arms going around me to hug me tight as he rests his chin on my shoulder. I love this, being near him. It feels so right.
"Uh huh. Welcome to my park," I murmur fondly, looking over the green where I ran and played as a child.
"Yes. I live near here. It's where I grew up," I say softly.
I hear him breathe in sharply as he realises that I've shared this with him, my home, my inner sanctum, part of my secret identity.
"Won't we be exposed here?" he asks, looking around cautiously, and with good reason. Usually we would meet in more secret locations, not in the middle of a public park.
"No. The park is closed at night and has been for some time because of the NegaVerse attacks," I explain.
"Good," he says before spinning me around to capture my lips in a passionate kiss before whispering "I've missed you."
My arms wind around his neck, all too familiar with how his body feels against mine. I open my mouth to him, welcoming his greedy invasion as he presses against me. Clearly unsatisfied at his progress, he lifts me up to sit on the railing and I instinctively wrap my legs around him – desperate to be as close as possible to him as our clothes will allow.
Damn clothes, I think.
I blush at my thoughts. Already I'm thinking of him in ways I've never experienced.
I run my hands over his shoulders and down his chest to play with his – very toned – stomach. He makes a keening sound and I grin into our kiss, glad he's feeling as lost as I am in our passion. If I were in control of my thoughts right now I'd be surprised at how wanton I am. But I'm not in control as heat courses through my veins to pool low in my belly, causing me to desire the unthinkable... the forbidden. Who knew that such a simple thing as kissing could be so heavenly?
I groan low in my throat into our kiss, and can now feel him grin against me at my responses. His hand moves so his fingers can make lazy circles at my waist through the material of my sailor fuka. He's such an ass, making me feel this way deliberately. Spurred on in a moment of madness I drag my hands up the front of his thighs, deliberately allowing my fingers to barely graze past his groin...
Chapter 10: Serena/Darien
I feel him tense at my touch as my fingers make lazy circles just below his hips beside his groin. I hear him groan harshly and in a second he's moved away from me – not what I wanted. I whimper softly and pout at him.
"We... should stop," he says.
Suddenly his gentlemanly tendencies annoy me. I sigh. I certainly hadn't come here planning for this to happen... but I'm far from complaining as I lick my lips seductively. I don't even know where that came from. I just want him kissing me again...
I shake my head to clear my thoughts. Bad Serena! Think about something gross... erm – Kissing Melvin! EW! Think about anything but those luscious lips...
I sigh again and frown. I never thought I would act so... well like that. I feel tears prick at my eyes and hope Tuxedo Mask doesn't think less of me for what just happened. I feel him suddenly holding me, stroking my hair and murmuring assurances in my ear.
"Hey, its ok. I'm sorry," he's saying.
I burrow my head into his chest, "It's not that. I've just never acted that way before," I whisper.
He chuckles, "Yeah, it's like that. It's exciting and new, and your body is being awakened to desires you never knew before. You can't even think straight, right?" he says soothingly.
I nod, "I suppose you've done this a lot," I say miserably. Clearly the man's experienced.
He laughs... nervously maybe? "Um... no actually. I mean, I've had girlfriends before... but uh..." he mumbles something I don't hear.
"But what?" I say, looking up at him with curiosity.
He looks at me, and I swear I can see him blush even in the pale moonlight, "I haven't had sex Sailor Moon..." he murmurs, sounding a little embarrassed.
"Really?" I say, my eyebrows shooting up to my hairline.
"Yeah," he says, taking his hat and running a hand through his hair.
"So you're a... but you're eighteen?!" I exclaim.
Way to state the obvious Serena.
He smiles at me, "Well, yes I could have taken advantage of certain opportunities presented to me. But I've never found a girl that I've wanted to do that kind of thing with. I'm not a monk, and I've had girlfriends who have been keen to go all the way... but when it came time to I... just couldn't. That's all. I'm not saving myself, but at the same time I'm not someone who can be casual about sex."
I mull over his words and a frown comes to my forehead before I look at him with a grin, "So how do you feel about me?" I ask cheekily.
He chuckles, "I... like you a lot. I care for you. Maybe I'm even half way to being in love with you," he murmurs into my hair.
"Oh how sweet," I hear Venus's voice say beside us.
I feel Tuxedo Mask tense in my arms; I'd forgotten I hadn't told him that Venus knows about us.
"It's ok, she knows," I say.
"Do they all know?" he asks me, looking toward Venus.
"Nope, just me," Venus chirrups, smirking at us.
"What's up V? Youma?" I ask her, wondering why she's here.
"No. I just felt some crazy vibes coming from the park and wanted to check it out. You two were giving off enough energy to power Tokyo," she grins at us.
"That's not good. The NegaVerse can track high energy readings," I hear Tuxedo Mask say worriedly.
Venus waves a hand carelessly, "Not this kind. They pick up life energy. As the senshei of the plant of lurve I was picking up on your love energy."
I blush furiously, More like lust energy, I think, remembering our passionate embrace moments ago. My watch beeps in my subspace pocket and that's my warning to get home as I've been gone an hour.
"Sorry, but I have to go," I say, giving Tuxedo Mask a quick kiss on the cheek.
I wave goodbye to Venus and then I am off, leaping away toward home.
I watch her go as she makes her way home. I sigh and rub the back of my neck – that girl is going to be the death of me with her sexy little body and roaming hands. A guy can only take so much! I smile as I remember when she asked me how I feel about her... because I lied. I don't think I'm halfway to falling in love with her. I think I fell for her a long time ago.
A short cough to beside me reminds me that I'm not here alone.
"Hellooo cape-boy," Sailor Venus says to me, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
How I hate that damn name.
"Sailor Venus," I say curtly with a nod.
"You can keep seeing her as long as you don't hurt her or betray her or make her cry. If you do any of these things, I will sic Mars and Jupiter onto you," she threatens me.
"I love her. I won't do anything to hurt her," I state seriously to her, glaring at her for daring think I'd ever hurt Sailor Moon.
"We'll see if your love outweighs your duty. Or did you think I forgot that you are wanting the crystals as well? Would you betray her for the sake of your mission?" she asks me, eyebrow raised.
I'm at a loss for what to say. I have to find the crystals, because then I will find out who I am. But staring off into the distance where Sailor Moon disappeared only moments ago, I find myself weighing what I want more – my past, or my present with Sailor Moon?
I turn back to look at Sailor Venus who is regarding me with a calculating expression. She nods at me, bidding me goodnight, before turning and leaving me to my thoughts.
Chapter 11: Darien
It had been a fortnight since Venus had cautioned me not to hurt Sailor Moon and asked me if I would betray her for the sake of my mission. To be honest my thoughts were in a whirl. I'd dreamt of the princess for years... but my feelings for Sailor Moon were just as strong and in such a short time. I don't know what I should do. Either way I would betray someone – even if the princess were only in my dreams.
I'd seen her a few times in the last two weeks. I don't know how a girl can get more and more beautiful each time I saw her, but she managed it. She took my breath away, and it scared me a little. My parents died... and so could she; and my parents didn't even put themselves in danger, they were just driving a car. But every other night she dances with death, and I shudder to think of the day when I'm not fast enough to save her.
Nevertheless I smile. She'd been improving at school. She was so proud of herself, never thinking she could do it. It had taken a lot for her to do it I know; she was always so tired after a battle. I'm amazed I didn't see this before.
Thinking about her 'other life' It makes me wonder who she is. What she's doing right now. Is she happy? Are there boys at her school secretly crushing on her (probably) and if so how does she decline their invitations? She has a secret boyfriend, the operative word being secret; so she can't just excuse herself saying she is already taken. Do her parents know she's Sailor Moon? Do the senshei know who she is? Does anyone?
I run a frustrated hand through my hair. We've been seeing eachother for nearly three months now, we're intimately acquainted with eachother's mouths and most parts of our bodies (blush) – though we haven't gone too far (yet). But still we avoid the topic of our identities. I know only so much. But then she only knows so much about me too.
I look up at the sky. She loves sunny days and I know she would love this day. I wish I could spend it with her. I wish I could see her during the day, but since I can't I decide to visit her park. I've been there many times since she showed me, and now I know every nook and crevice. I know the swings where she must have played, the lake she fed the ducks at, the grass where she probably lay dreaming.
I walk through the trees toward the bridge where we met two weeks ago; the place where she revealed part of her secret life to me. But when reach the bridge, I am unhappily surprised to see someone's already there.
Glaring at the back of their head, I see two familiar blonde buns and realise its Meatball Head, or Serena as she's always screaming at me. It's not that I don't like the girl, I just find her incredibly childish. Her friends act much more maturely than she does, and it frustrates me that someone who has everything I never had seems to just take life for granted. Instead of studying to make her parents proud, she's stuffing her face with icecream or playing the arcade games. She does have her positives though, she's the only girl I've ever met who hasn't fallen all over herself at seeing me. That's something I suppose.
"Meatball head, shouldn't you be at the Arcade stuffing your face with a hamburger or something?" I ask snidely, willing her to go away.
"You stupid jerk, my name is Serena," she yells at me, turning to face me.
"And mine is Darien, Meatball head. If you can't extend the courtesy, don't expect it."
She snorts, "Courteous is hardly a word I'd associate with you. Now go away, I was here first," she sniffs, turning away from me to face the lake again.
I narrow my eyes, the damn girl. It's like she psychically knows what I want and refuses to give it to me. My phone suddenly buzzes and I take it from my pocket to read the message. It's from her, and I can't help but smile.
Thinking of you.
My smile widens and I hit reply.
Thinking of you too.
"What's with the stupid smile Darien? More fan mail?" I hear Serena sneer in front of me.
Trust her to ruin my happy moment.
"It's from someone special I'll have you know Meatball head. Not that you would know about that. You're too busy failing school to know about relationships," I sneer back.
I see her about to formulate a reply when her attention is diverted by a light in her hands. I can tell its a phone as she turns away quickly to read the message. It's obviously what she was waiting for because she squeals happily. I hear a snap as she shuts it and realise its a flip phone. She shoves it in her pocket and turns back to me, a dreamy expression on her face - clearly she's forgotten about me. Well time to fix that. She ruined my happy moment, its only fair I interrupt hers.
"What poor sod was paid to text you?" I jeer.
She looks at me, her face going red from rage, "JERK!" she shouts, huffing away down the path.
I watch her go for a moment. For her sake I hope she grows up and soon. Life isn't guaranteed to be kind to a pretty face. I should know.
Finally alone, I stand on the bridge looking out over the lake and reminisce about the kiss I shared with her here only two weeks ago. I wonder if she ever comes here to remember, to think about us. I wonder if she knew just how much it meant to me that she let me into her secret world. A smile alights my face. She brought me to her sanctuary, she let me in. I want to do the same for her.
Chapter 12: Serena
I can't believe what a jerk Darien is to me! I've never done anything to him to deserve such treatment! Sure... I hit him by accident with a test paper... and my shoe. But everything else has been self defence against a bully. I don't care if he's handsome or if the girls go ga-ga over him. The way he treats me is just mean.
These are my thoughts as I stomp away from the bridge where I had been thinking about Tuxedo Mask. It struck me as odd while I was there that I never really wonder about who he is behind the mask. I mean, to me, he is just Tuxedo Mask and whatever his name is behind the mask is just an extension of that. He's my Tuxedo Mask, whoever he is behind the white domino.
Then Darien came along and just had to barge into my sanctuary. I had thought I wouldn't be interrupted at 'our spot', but how wrong was I! Yet my annoyance gives way to compassion. Darien always seems so cold behind that flashy exterior and popular facade. I wonder sometimes what made him that way – NOT that it excuses his behaviour!
My phone blips again, its a message from him. I know I said I would never take it away from home, but I haven't been able to check it for the past two nights and so I took the chance.
Meet me at our spot tonight – 10pm? it says.
Wow, that's earlier than usual. I ring Mina and ask if she can cover for me tonight and say I'm staying at her house – which I will, except I will probably turn up there about 1am in the morning! She gives me the ok and I jump joyfully into the air. I wonder what he has planned?
Several painfully long hours later I'm blindfolded and in his arms as he leaps across Tokyo to a place where he said a surprise awaits me. With one final, very long, leap he stops and puts me down. I hear a door slide open before he ushers me inside where he takes my blindfold off. I blink a few moments to find myself in the lounge room of an apartment.
"This is my home," he says softly behind me.
I gasp. His home – WHERE HE LIVES! my thoughts scream. I look around the apartment and see its tastefully decorated with modern furniture – almost art deco – in neutral and dark tones. I notice, oddly enough, that there are no pictures on the walls or on furniture, but assume he took them down.
"Want the grand tour?" he offers charmingly, and I cannot help but nod and take his arm.
"The kitchen, stacked with lots of chocolate I promise," he grins, flashing me a boy-scout signal. "You've seen the lounge room," he continues as he pulls me through the apartment (I'm too stunned to move on my own apparently), "The bathroom is just in there and my bedroom is here," he says, motioning to a door but not going in.
I nod slowly, "It's very nice," I say softly, unsure of what else I can say.
What do you say? Gee, thanks for almost revealing your identity to me? I shudder minutely. I'm not ready to tell him my identity, or even know his. But I don't know his identity, or even where he lives. All I've seen is the inside of an apartment.
"I have one more surprise for you. But I have to ask, do you trust me?" he asks me seriously, his eyes boring into mine through his mask.
I catch my breath and look back at him. I trust him to save my life... can I trust him with whatever he has planned now? ... I decide I can. My decision made, I nod at him. He smiles back at me and opens the door to his bedroom, gesturing for me to walk inside.
I walk in and sit on the bed, noticing the heavy curtains on the window, allowing no light to seep in. I wonder briefly if the apartment is in the commercial centre of town with its bright lights and loud noises. But I didn't hear any loud carousing on our way here. Then again, he might live near the top floor where you wouldn't hear a lot. The door closes and I hear him walk in after me to sit on the bed beside me. Its pitch black and I can't see a thing.
"Sailor Moon, you let me into your world when you brought me to the park. I wanted to do the same. I really care for you and I know we aren't ready to reveal our identities to each other yet, but I wanted to give you the next best thing. Trust me when I say that I'm doing this because I want to, and that I don't expect you to reciprocate okay?"
I nod before I realise he can't see me. Silly of me.
"Okay," I say into the blackness.
"Close your eyes for a moment," he asks me, and I do.
I sense a soft glow of light before my eyes and then it is dark again. I feel him take my hands in his and bring them up to his face. I'm confused as to what is happening until my hands touch his face and I don't feel his mask.
"You're de-transformed!" I gasp.
Chapter 13: Darien
You're de-transformed!" I hear her gasp.
"Yes..." I say nervously, hoping that I haven't been too presumptuous.
I know this is a big step to take. But I trust her. I know she's honest and just, and would never think to purposely discern my true identity. Even if she found out I think I could trust her to keep the secret. Maybe I'm rushing our intimacy levels by revealing so much, but she makes me want to open myself up to her. Is it any wonder that this man who was once a lost little boy with no one to care for him craves closeness with another human being?
Her hands move away from me and she sits silent on the bed. It's pitch black so I cannot see her facial expression, but from her slightly quickened breathing I can tell she's surprised and nervous.
"Are you sure?" she asks me finally.
"I'm sure. I trust you. I just wanted to give you something more of myself. I haven't got a lot to give. All I have is myself, and I don't usually share a lot with people. I suppose this is my way of showing you that you're special to me," I explain in a low voice, hoping she understands just how much she does mean to me.
"Oh, Mask," she says softly, pulling me into a hug.
I gently wrap my arms around her and rest my head on her shoulder, revelling in the moment. She wriggles her arm around to put her hand between us awkwardly. I wonder what she's doing for a moment when a burst of light flares from her. I can see a waterfall of blonde hair cascading down her back and onto the bed as ribbons engulf her body. Her fuka fades away to reveal what look to be pink and white bunny pyjamas, and then all is black again.
"Well, that was a bit of a light show," I remark, "My de-transformation is a lot less exciting."
She giggles in my arms, "I know. You'd think it would be a little more subtle."
"True. But I must say I love your bunny pyjamas," I tease her.
I feel her face warm against my neck and can tell she's blushing. She moves back from me, and I feel her hands running up my arms. My own hands begin to mimic her movements as her hands travel to my shoulders to lightly caress my neck and finally to cup my face. I'm drowning in the sensation of touching her and being touched in such a simple yet intimate way. Her skin is smooth against my calloused palms and soon my hands bury themselves in her silky hair. I feel her scoot closer to me as her hands trail down my neck onto my chest, and I hear her giggle.
"It's really all you under that tuxedo isn't it?" she asks shyly.
I smirk a little, puffing out my chest slightly. Damn straight it is!
She takes my hand and we lay facing eachother on my bed, our hands fluttering over eachother's faces in wonderment at our newfound closeness. She moves close me, so close I can feel her breath on my neck.
"You always smell like roses," she whispers, placing a gentle kiss on the pulse at my neck.
I cup her face with my hands, moving in to lay butterfly kisses on her lips. Our breathing becomes laboured as the innocent kisses turn passionate. I pull her flush against me, needing her near. She wraps her leg over my hip, and the blood jerks in my veins.
"We... should... need to... stop," I rasp against her lips, though every word is a lie.
I don't want to stop. Really I don't.
"No, don't stop, not yet," she murmurs against my lips before plunging her tongue into my mouth.
My barriers break and with a growl I role on top of her, pressing her into the bed. My body is on fire for her; her scent is all around me and I drink greedily from her lips as I fill my hands with her. My mind is numb to reason, I cannot think, I can only feel. Her hand tentatively traces the line of my thigh up to my hip and I shudder, the evidence of my arousal pushing flush against her. Realising this is the first time she has experienced anything like this a small sliver of reality hits me.
"Are you ok? We can stop, just let me know. I didn't plan for anything like this to happen tonight and I don't want you to –"
"Hush, I trust you," she says, her mouth resuming its previous occupation of trailing hot kisses up my neck.
She is going to be the death of me.
She's whispering, sighing into my ear as our bodies move in a rhythm as old as time, wanting what neither of us have ever experienced but knowing what we are asking for. Her searching fingers lay a trail of fire against my skin, and I hiss through my teeth. Its too much too soon, the rational part of my brain screams, but its quickly silenced by the overpowering feeling of recognition I have with her. Somewhere, sometime, in another world I knew this, knew her, and it is as though some deep craving in me has been awakened that will not let itself go unsatisfied.
That is, until she gently pushes at my chest.
"I think... that's enough," she whispers raggedly.
My body screams hell no, but my mind begins to function again and I nod mutely in the darkness.
She is going to be the death of me.
Chapter 14: Serena
"I think... that's enough," I whisper into the darkness.
He stills and though I can't see him I can feel him nod.
"Let's go watch that movie now huh?" he says softly, placing a kiss on my cheek, "Stay here, I'll go out and you can transform back ok?"
"Ok," I murmur in reply.
He leaves the room and I allow myself a moment to just breathe and come to terms with what almost could have happened here tonight. One half of me is elated and currently doing a song and dance routine on the left side of my heart. The other half is hyperventilating into a paper bag.
I run a hand through my hair, willing myself to calm down. I've faced youma, my friends when they're upset and my parents when I've failed a test. I can face him now.
I transform and walk out of the room into the lounge room. I see him setting up the DVD and I smile. It's funny how we are super heroes, but at the same time just average teenagers out on a date to see a movie and make out. I giggle at the irony of our average date in the face of our supernatural calling, and for the first time I find myself wondering who he really is behind the mask. Just thinking about it brings a strange ache to life in my chest.
With his back to me I take the opportunity to have a good look at him. He's transformed again, though he is without his cape and hat at the moment. I can't help but catch my breath at the unruly raven hair, his broad back that tapers down into a tight waist, and finally long, lean legs. He's everything a super hero should be – at least looks-wise.
I catch sight of myself in the full-length mirror at the end of the hallway. There I stand with my impossibly long blonde hair and tiny skirted sailor fuka. A tiara adorns my forehead, while a red choker ties around my neck. A large red bow hides the top half of my blossoming figure, while the fitted body suit and short skirt leave nothing to the imagination at the curve of my hips and my long, pale legs. My gaze travels downward and I have to say I like my red knee-high boots. You'd pay an arm and a leg for a decent pair of boots in any shoe store, and mine come complete with costume. Lucky me.
"Beautiful," his voice whispers in my ear, startling me.
I watch in the mirror as he wraps him arms around me and kisses my cheek, and I smile until a loud banging at the door disturbs us.
"Hey man, open up!" a strangely familiar voice says.
I hear Tuxedo Mask curse under his breath, "I'm busy man," he replies, his tone clearly annoyed.
"Look I need to talk to you now," the voice from beyond the door pleads.
"I don't think he's going anywhere," I say softly, turning to him.
He growls under his breath as he shoots a murderous glance toward the door. I smile at him and kiss his cheek.
"Next time, 'kay?" I say, making my way to the balcony doors.
He runs a hand through his hair, clearly frustrated, but nods at me. I open the sliding glass door and step out onto the balcony. The banging on the front door continues and I smile as I close the door behind me. Unfortunately I don't close it fast enough because through the closing space between the door and its lock I clearly hear five words from that strangely familiar voice that tell me everything I never wanted to know.
"Darien Chiba open the door!"
Chapter 15: Serena
I feel sick. Even after three days I still feel my stomach churning at the knowledge that I, Serena Tsukino, was in the apartment of and proceed to make out with one Darien Chiba. Even worse, I enjoyed it.
I breathe in deeply, needing to find some sort of calm. I wish at this moment I was like one of the other girls with their unique ways of finding that calm. Like Raye, who would meditate on the Great Fire; or Lita who would cook up a storm. Amy, if she were in my situation, would study until she could study no more and Mina would shop till she either dropped or her credit cards ran away screaming from her.
But no, not I; I am a girl who finds comfort in food. Yet the very source of my sustenance is the very place where said cause of my distress Darien Chiba could be found. Damn him.
I look at my watch. Darien is usually at the Arcade around 3:30pm on a Saturday after his classes finish – how I know this don't ask – and right now it's 2:30. Maybe I could sneak a burger and a shake in and get out with time to spare. Decided, I make my way to the Arcade and slip inside. A quick look around tells me he isn't here; perfect! I sidle up to the counter where Andrew is, as always, diligently wiping the already pristine counter down with his cloth.
"Hey Andrew," I chirp happily, knowing I would soon be munching on some long desired junk food.
"Hey Serena, I haven't seen you here for a few days," he says, quirking an eye brow at me.
His movement reminds me of Darien. He always quirks his eyebrow like that. Well maybe not just like that but –
Ok I'm officially insane. Need food now.
"Uh, yeah Andrew, just been busy. Can I have a shake and burger please?" I say mechanically as my eyes dart around to look at nothing in particular.
"Ohh-kay," is his response.
I sigh with relief when he leaves and check my watch again. Its 2:45pm. I wish Andrew would hurry up and make my food so I can hork it down and get out of here.
"Hey Sereeeenaaah!" a musical voice says behind me.
I drop my head and bang it on the countertop. It's Mina and she couldn't have worse timing. She wants the gossip from last night. An insane desire to cackle out loud rises up in me.
"Sooo how was the date?" she asks, sitting next to me.
Friggen awful and yet at the same time incredible. I mentally smack myself. I need psychiatric help.
"Uh, ok," I say in a non-committal tone, wishing she'd just let it go for the next three years until I'm ready to talk about it.
"Aw c'mon Sere!" she pouts.
The milkshake and burger that placed in front of me at that moment by Andrew promises sweet relief. Yes, come to me my darling junk food.
"You had a date last night Serena?" I hear Andrew ask.
"She sure did!" Mina says.
Seriously, I wish she were a psychic instead of a love-scout cos then she could enjoy the visions I'm having of killing her in many a painful way right now.
"With that older guy?" he asks disapprovingly.
"Yup!" Mina replies again for me.
I go to grab my burger, desperate for my comfort food, but it's suddenly snatched away by greedy hands.
"Nuh-uh. I. Want. Details!" Mina squeals evilly.
I give her my most murderous look, "Mina, I need that right now."
"Yeah Mina, you should get between Meatball Head and food. It's like getting between a lioness and her cub. Bad idea," the last voice in the world I want to hear says.
NO. NO. NO! I look frantically at my watch. Its only 3:01pm. THE S.O.B. IS EARLY! I feel my breath start to come in shorter gasps as I walk heavily toward Mina.
"Give me that now," I say monotonously.
I need my fix and I need it now.
"Details!" she says, waggling a finger at me.
"Mina!" I growl, reaching out for her.
She spins away and races back over to Andrew. I turn after her and find myself wishing I hadn't for there, in the centre of my line of sight, is Darien.
"So Sere, you can tell Aunty Mina all about your date. The girls aren't here, and Andrew and Darien won't tell. So come on – did you kiss him?" Mina begs, dying for some details.
I find myself unwillingly focussing on Darien's lips. My jaw clenches and I begin to feel light headed.
"Yes," I grit out.
"What kind of kiss?!"
I close my eyes, trying to slow my breathing. Why me? Why did his kisses have to taste so good? Why did feeling his lips against mine make my heart race? What did I do to deserve this?
"Wow, it must've been a good kiss Sere! You're blushing like mad!" Mina squeals.
I open my eyes and glare at her, only to see her face turn suspicious.
"Serena, you didn't do anything else did you?"
"WHAT?!?" I shout at her, enraged.
How dare she ask me this in front of him. Stupid, stupid blonde.
I start breathing in shallow gasps, the light headed feeling I had before becoming a fuzzy feeling. I can tell this isn't good but I'm too worked up to care. I kissed, made out with, almost had sex with Darien. Oh. My. Starry. Skies. Of all people, the one person who makes me feel the lousiest with his teasing and I –
I stop breathing all together. This is not happening.
I fell in love with him. I fell in love with Tuxedo Mask.
Darien is Tuxedo Mask.
"No," I moan softly, "No, no, no, no, no..."
"Serena are you okay?" a concerned voice asks me.
I look up to see Darien standing there with worry in his gorgeous blue eyes. Yes I said it, gorgeous. He's absolutely gorgeous.
And he'd never love me. Even if I am Sailor Moon.
"Serena?" I hear Mina say from somewhere behind him, "Look, are you okay? I'm sorry I didn't mean –"
I don't hear the rest of what she has to say because in that moment, in an act of self preservation, my survival instincts kick in... and I run.
Chapter 16: Darien
"You've been avoiding me," I say stonily, staring down at the girl who had put my stomach in knots for the last two weeks.
"No I haven't, I've answered your messages," she replies defensively, refusing to look at me.
It's been two weeks since I'd taken her to my apartment and I hadn't seen her except at battles. She'd gotten out of doing patrol duty as well somehow, so the fact that I had caught her just now after the latest battle was sheer chance mixed with a bit of luck. True, she had answered my messages. But they had been short, mono-syllabic responses that had driven me crazy. I loved this girl and she'd left me that night with sweet kisses, and killed me the next day with the cold shoulder.
"Stop. Lying. To. Me," I grit out through my teeth. I want to shake her senseless and demand why she's doing this to me.
She finally looks at me and I hate the guarded expression on her face. I hate it even more when she looks away.
"What's going on?" I ask her, my tone conveying my anger.
I know I'm acting irrationally, and if Andrew could see me now he would be speechless that someone finally broke through the walls Darien Chiba had erected against the world. But he's not here, and he doesn't know that I'm Tuxedo Mask in love with Sailor Moon. I don't care; I just want things to go back to the way they were before two weeks ago, when she wasn't avoiding me.
She sighs, dropping her head, "Stuff has happened."
"Do you want to go back to my place so we can talk privately?" I ask levelly.
"NO!" she hisses harshly, and I wince.
"Then what do you want?" I ask, defeated.
"I don't know."
"Don't you know already?" I ask sarcastically, "I mean, we got pretty darn close the other night. Hell we nearly made love; and so you know, it's called making love for a reason," I hiss.
She flinches but still doesn't look at me.
I stand there glaring at her, wondering why she's doing this to me.
"Did I do something wrong?" I spit out.
"Well thanks for NOT telling me! The last two weeks have been HELL FOR ME. I thought I did something wrong when I didn't see you," I shout back, choosing that moment to punch the trunk of a tree and release some of my pent up anger.
She sighs, and finally turns to look at me – though when I see the look on her face I now wish she hadn't.
"I don't think we are going to work out," she says, her tone measured and her words carefully slow.
I see red.
"REALLY? Why? What reason could you possibly have because I don't see ANYTHING wrong with this relationship? I. LOVE. YOU. DT!" I shout, striding over to her to grasp her upper arms in my hands and kiss her with all the desperation I have built up inside of me.
She struggles momentarily before giving in to me, into the kiss, into us. Her arms wrap about my neck and she clutches herself to me tightly. But then her hands slide down my neck to press against my chest,and before I know it she's pushed me away.
"Sailor Moon, don't push me away. I love you," I say desperately.
"But I'm not Sailor Moon," she whispers.
I look at her, "Yes you are. What are you talking about?"
"During the day, I'm not Sailor Moon, just like you're not Tuxedo Mask. I'm just a regular person. Sailor Moon is not who I am, it's just my alter ego."
I take her into my arms again, "I know that. Of course I know that."
She looks at me, the expression on her face indiscernible. To my eyes it looks like a mixture of regret, disappointment, and bitter sadness.
"No. You don't know. Not really."
She turns to leave.
"Sailor Moon. Don't go. I love you," I whisper, desperate to keep her near.
"No. You don't. You couldn't," she whispers back over her shoulder, before leaping away into the night.
I watch her go, my entire body rigid with anger and despair.
She thinks I don't love her? She thinks I don't know her?
I curse my stupidity. Of course she would think that. We have no idea who each other really is. She thinks I only love Sailor Moon, the heroine. Not the girl behind the heroine. I need to prove to her I do love her. But how when I don't know who she is?
I guess I'll just have to find out.
Chapter 17: Andrew
"Darien mate, you look like crap," Isaid finally after a long debate with my inner voice on whether or not to say something to my dishevelled, and clearly distressed, best friend.
"No kidding," Darien replied morosely, staring blankly into his cup of coffee.
It's times like this I want to smack him over the head. I can tell when something is bothering him, and its clear that this time its something pretty big.
"Well, come on, out with it," I say tiredly, wiping at a non-existent spot on the counter.
I know he wants to talk about it, no matter how hard he tries to hide it he needs to talk to someone.
"I don't want to talk about it," he sulks back at me.
"Yes you do otherwise you wouldn't be here. Now save me the 10 minutes its going to take to convince you to talk to me and just spit it out would ya?"
"Ok," Darien mutters, "Its that girl I told you about a few months ago."
I'm surprised that he replied so quickly. This must be worse than I thought. Usually I actually do have to take the extra 10 minutes to get him to open up. S***. I'm also pretty shocked he's still seeing that girl – he never said anything about her since that one mention of a date a few months back and I tell him as much.
"Yeah, well, our relationship is – was, kind of secret," Darien gritts through thin lips.
"She broke up with me."
I let out a long breath and study Darien as I rock back on my heels. The tone of his voice isn't one I've heard often, and I hate hearing it. Its the tone I hear on the anniversary of his parents death. This girl must've really done a number on him and if I weren't a gentleman I'd like to find out who she is and give her what-for. Then I suddenly realise what Darien just said.
"Hold on, you said secret? Why?"
Darien flinches at my words, clearly perturbed by my sudden interest in the whole 'secret' aspect of the relationship. For some reason it makes me uncomfortable that it was a secret. I wonder if she's famous?
"Darien, is she famous or something?" I prod.
He nods his head at me.
"Ok. So why the breakup?"
"She said I didn't really know her at all. What she's like when she's not... um... famous," Darien said carefully.
I sigh. He's holding back I can tell. But there's this desperation about him, and I know he needs to talk. I'm really glad the Arcade is empty right now.
"Do you want to tell me the whole story then?"
He looks at me intently, studying me as if determining my worth. I see a flicker of something flash in his expression and can tell he's come to a decision on something. I'm more than a little unnerved at the moment as my gut is telling me that this isn't going to be an ordinary story of boy meets girl.
"A few months ago I saved her life," he says softly, his fingers playing with the handle of his coffee mug, "I've known her for a while, cared for her for just about as long too. But seeing her almost die that night... I think I just cracked a little. I kissed her."
I'm suitably stunned. Darien never does things out of character like that.
"I saw her a week later. She hadn't told anybody about the incident. She was so fragile and I just wanted to be near her. She's like an angel Andy, an angel," Darien continued, and I can see his eyes are no longer focussed on me but misty and lost in his memories.
"We saw eachother again randomly after that and I was able to get to know her. I've always wanted to get to know her but she was always so far away..."
Who is this chick?
"Then one night I just took a bold step and took her on a date. She came, she didn't turn me down... damn Andrew she was so beautiful under the moonlight. I managed to steal another kiss from her as well, how lucky was I to be so near to her?"
I stand and stare at Darien as he talks about her and their times together, and I can't help but be a little in awe of this angel Darien is describing. I can't help but wonder who she is now when I see unrestrained emotion on my best friend's face like I've never seen before. It worries me too, because I know that this story ends with them breaking up; Darien's already lost so much, I don't want to see him hurt and bitter again. It took me long enough to crack through that shell of his the first time.
"After she left my apartment that night I was on top of the world like you wouldn't believe Andrew. But then it just went to hell like that," Darien was saying, his fingers snapping for effect, "I would text her but her replies were short and almost cold. I tried to see her but every time I went to talk to her she'd disappear... I... I was frantic Andrew," he whispered the last part, and for the first time I could see that my best friend was in serious trouble.
"Frantic?" I ask softly, willing him to continue.
"Insane," Darien whispered, "I couldn't understand why she'd just... disappear... like that. I wondered if I'd done something wrong, something to drive her away... heaven help me I need her like I need air!"
"It's okay mate, I'm sure you didn't do anything wrong," I say comfortingly, patting his shoulder in an effort to support him.
I'm gonna kill the bitch.
"I did last night," Darien said deadpan, looking me straight in the eye.
"Darien... what did you do?"
"I went... insane," Darien laughed hollowly, the sound chilling me a little.
I waited for him to continue.
"I finally managed to talk to her, and she tells me that she hasn't been avoiding me. I just snapped, I couldn't believe she was lying to me. I mean, I thought I'd gone too far the other night, and it was like a nightmare. I started yelling... dammit... everything went to hell. She told me that I didn't really know her and I couldn't really love her like I said I did. But I do, I really do – how could I not? I have to find her... find out –" Darien suddenly stopped talking and I watched as his expression went blank.
"You have to find out what Darien?" I probe, realising I have stumbled onto something big given the way Darien was rambling desperately before and had suddenly stopped.
I watched him look at me again, but this time the stare really unnerved me. The man had a way of looking straight through you. I've gotten used to his darkness, but there is just something there that isn't quite... known. I wonder now if I should have asked that question... if I even want to know the answer.
"Andrew. You've been a good friend to me," Darien says slowly, suddenly off topic, "And I know you aren't stupid. You've noticed certain things about me I'm sure. Right?"
I watch as Darien sighs and takes stock of the Arcade. Still empty, its just me and him. I think I hear him say something along the lines of 'I can't believe I'm doing this', but the soft words are lost on me when he tells me that...
"I'm Tuxedo Mask Andrew. The girl, is Sailor Moon."
I wake up on the floor of the Arcade with Darien, Serena and Mina standing over me.
"Andrew!" Serena squeals, her blue eyes searching mine worriedly.
"You fainted," Darien says shortly, and the memory of him telling me he's Tuxedo Mask comes rushing back to me.
"I fainted," I say with some bite in my tone.
Excuse me for being a little freaked out when my best friend just told me he was the hero of Tokyo and he's been dating Sailor Moon.
"Crap I feel a headache coming on," I moan as I bring a hand to my forehead.
"Don't we all," I hear Darien mutter.
"Andrew, here take these," Mina says to my left, shoving some headache pills into my hand.
I take them – gladly.
"Thanks girls... erm... can you give me a minute? I need to go sit down in the employee lounge," I say, giving Darien a lets-talk look.
I smile as the girls fuss over me for a little bit and then leave me and Darien in the employee lounge after I had assured them a hundred times over that I was fine. No, I'm not really, but I need to talk to him. He's probably freaking out right now. Geez, if only he knew how lucky he was to have me for a best friend with the advice I'm about to give. People would kill to have me for a best friend if they knew just how awesome I was. I look at him and begin to speak.
"Okay, number one, you're secret is safe with me. Number two, let's figure out how to prove to the love of your life that you love her and win her back," I say decidedly with a conspiratorial grin.
I'm rewarded with a slow smile that spreads across Darien's face in a broad grin.
Chapter 18: Mina
"Serena talk to me, what is going on?" I demand of the blonde to my right as we stroll down the street.
For the past few weeks she's been acting strangely. She's 'slept over' my house less often, and actually stayed there instead of going out to see Tuxedo Mask. She'd weaselled her way out of patrolling more than once and was always the first to leave battle. It was clear that she was avoiding him.
"Don't make me tell the girls either Serena, you know I will so tell on you if I think this is affecting our duties," I add, lacing my voice with a touch of viciousness.
I don't want to tell the girls, because I know how they would react and I don't really think there is anything to tell. Sure, under normal circumstances I'd expect Serena to tell us about her boyfriend, but this isn't exactly normal circumstances. The only reason I'm threatening her is because I do have to get it out of her somehow as leaving her to stew over her problems isn't healthy – for her or me; I need gossip. But in all fairness I love her like a sister and above all else I want what's best for her, and right now what's best for her is to tell Aunty Mina what her issue is.
"Look something happened and last night something else happened and I'm just processing it Mina," Serena says to me tiredly.
I pull her toward the Arcade when she starts struggling against me, "NO Mina I don't want to go there!" she shrieks.
"Well I do! I want a milkshake... and I wanna see Andrew!" I grin, loving my mild flirtation with the older guy.
Struggle as she might, she's smaller than me and soon I've dragged her across the street and into the Arcade. The doors open with a whoosh and we arrive just in time to see Andrew fall down in a dead faint while Darien stares at us fearfully.
"Andrew!" I shriek, rushing over to behind the counter to cradle his head on my lap, "What happened, Darien?!"
"I dunno. He just fainted," Darien replies, crouching down beside Andrew while Serena maintains an oddly respectful distance.
Though to be honest my focus isn't really on her. She probably just doesn't want to be around Darien – nothing new there.
"Andrew!" Serena squeals suddenly, and I look down to see his eyes open.
"You fainted," Darien says shortly while I fuss over Andrew.
"Crap I feel a headache coming on," Andrew moans while Darien mutters something in response.
"Andrew, here take these," I say, handing him some headache pills Serena just gave me.
"Thanks girls... erm... can you give me a minute? I need to go sit down in the employee lounge," my poor baby says.
"We'll help!" I say in a don't-argue-with-me tone.
Serena and I help him to the lounge and as much as I want to fuss over him for a good while he insists he is fine and I do have a friend to interrogate. I close the door to the employee lounge and force Serena to take a seat in a booth – I really don't understand what's with her these days, she loves this place.
"We broke up," Serena says glumly.
"Then why do you look like your puppy just died?"
"'Cos breaking up is hard to do," Serena sings, throwing me a smirk, the cow.
"Why did you break up? Did he hurt you?"
Her face softens, "No, he didn't."
"Then-" I'm cut off by an annoying beeping sound.
It's a stupid youma and it has stupid timing. I'ma kick it's ass for interrupting an interrogation! Nevertheless we rush out of the Arcade and naturally find ourselves drawn to a fun park where a youma was attempting to gather energy. We find a spot to transform and soon we are in the thick of battle.
"Venus Love Chain Encircle!" I shout, and find myself standing next to Sailor Moon.
"So what happened?" I yell at her over the sound of a screaming youma.
"He took me to his place," she replies, leaping out of the way of a flying park-bench the youma had flung our way.
I want to tell her how stupid she was going to his place but I won't – yet. I want the full story.
"We...," she began, blushing.
"Okay. I get it. Moving on. And then?"
"STOP YAPPING AND START HELPING US FIGHT THIS DAMN THING! MARS FIRE IGNITE!" Sailor Mars yells at us from across the way.
"Moon Tiara ACTION!" Sailor Moon shouts, flinging her tiara then turning to me.
"A friend of his came around. I had to leave, but on the way out Iaccidentallyheardhisfriendcallhisname!" Sailor Moon shrieked at me.
In a moment of incredibly unlucky timing in the few seconds after the youma's final scream all was suddenly quiet and everyone heard what Sailor Moon just said. I turned with Sailor Moon to face three incredibly ticked off Senshei staring us down. Don't you just hate times when everything else goes quiet while you're still talking?
"You. Know. Who. Tuxedo. Mask. Is," Sailor Mars said quietly, emphasising each word slowly.
"How did you find that out?" Sailor Jupiter demanded, hands on hips.
"I've been seeing him..." Sailor Moon mumbles beside me, digging the toe of her shiny red boot into the grass.
"You've. Been. WHAT!?" Sailor Mars screeches, "HE COULD BE THE ENEMY YOU STUPID BLONDE!"
"He's NOT!" Sailor Moon shouts back, taking us all by surprise as she rarely ever raises her voice (to us at least, a certain dark haired spunk at the Arcade is a different story).
"How long?" Sailor Jupiter asks.
"Three months," Sailor Moon replies defiantly, and I hold my breath hoping for a good outcome, but my hopes are dashed as I hear Jupiter swear under her breath.
"I can't believe you didn't tell us," Sailor Mercury finally says, her eyes full of hurt.
"Stuff that. Out with it, who is he?" Sailor Mars suddenly demands, stepping forward determinedly.
"I won't tell," I see Sailor Moon say stubbornly, her small hands balling in fists as she faces off against one of her best friends.
"He has the crystals you idiot. We need them!"
"I trust him!"
"Knowing who he is now?!" Mars demands.
I see my blonde leader pause, clearly collecting her thoughts. I can feel her heart beating a mile a minute and know she's torn between her loyalty to her friends and her new found love. But that doesn't explain why, if she loves him, she broke up with him?
"Yes. Even now and even after we broke up," Sailor Moon says finally in a tone that loudly and clearly says that her decision is made and final.
"Well then that's all I have to say to you until you come to your senses!" Sailor Mars snaps before turning and stalking away.
I watch as Jupiter and Mercury walk away as well, angry and hurt that they were left in the dark, while Sailor Moon watches them go with an obviously heavy heart. Its not easy choosing between love and duty - I should know; and I'm while I'm proud of her for standing for what she believes in, I hope she knows what she's doing. I go over to her and wrap her in a hug.
"Moon, I'm with you okay? Just give them time. The only thing I don't understand is why you two broke up?" I whisper in her ear.
"I'm just some dumb kid to him. He's in college," she whispers back through her tears.
"You're Sailor Moon, everyone loves you," I say encouragingly.
"Everyone loves a hero V. The question is, can he love me?" she asks me, "Even you guys don't really respect me sometimes. I'm not stupid or blind. I know I'm not everything you would imagine a leader to be. It hurts you know, knowing he's in love with someone who doesn't really exist," she whispers back, her tone clearly conveying her hurt.
She pulls back from me and wipes her tears away, "I have to get home. See you later okay? Let's have a sleepover maybe?"
"Sure," I say with a smile as she turns to leave.
I walk away, regretting how the other girls found out. I knew they wouldn't be happy with her relationship with him. I know I shouldn't be, but I can't help but feel a strong bond between them and while my inner warrior screams 'this shouldn't be allowed to happen', my gut instinct says that even if it shouldn't happen, it was meant to happen.
"So, did she tell you who he was?" I hear Sailor Mars' voice from beside me and turn to see the angry girl looking at me with her arms folded.
"No," I say, shaking my head.
"Fine. Tell her its her turn to patrol tonight. She's not getting out of it either," the dark haired girl snarls before storming away.
I sigh, knowing that Raye's anger comes from her own protective instinct for Serena and not some deep seated jealousy or anything stupid like that. The girl would kill for Serena if she had to... too bad she can't just open up her heart once in a while and show her soft side, it'd be a welcome change.
Chapter 19: Serena
"So, patrol huh?" I say, coming up behind Venus as I watch Mars walk – I mean, stomp – away.
"She's ticked I see."
"Understatement," Venus replies.
"Others?" I ask hopefully.
Venus shakes her head, "Undecided."
"You?" I ask, raising my eyebrow at her from beneath my fringe.
She grins at me, "On the sidelines where its safe."
"Joy," I mutter, my previous angst and upset seeping away to be replaced with annoyance at the whole damn stupid situation.
"Amen sista, now let's start patrolling huh? Call your mum and say you're staying over my place and then we'll go for a walk-about."
I nod at Venus, grabbing my phone from my subspace pocket. Thirty seconds later I am officially sleeping over Mina's. I flick my phone shut and put it back in the pocket as Venus takes a leap onto a building. I follow her and after a half an hour of circling the city we pick a tall rooftop to sit and watch the world go by.
"So, now we have done our duty let's get on with the deep and meaningful. Mr tall, dark and masked – you two broke up last night you said?" Venus inquires pointedly as she lounges beside me on the rooftop.
"Yup," I reply shortly.
No, I won't be making this interrogation easy on her. Sure enough she shoots me an annoyed glance.
I roll my eyes and begin to elaborate, "He was... upset. Hit a tree. Yelled a bit. I was surprised at his reaction, given how icy he usually acts."
"How would you know how he usually acts when someone breaks up with him Moon?" Venus asks smartly before a broad grin of realisation breaks out on her face, "You don't just know his name... you know him."
After a pause I nod my head.
"So how well do you know him?"
I smile bitterly, "Well enough to know he would never in this or any other lifetime want to date me if he knew who I was."
"Isn't that a bit unfair? Aren't you judging him a little harshly? I mean, you've gone from major makeout sessions to suddenly blowing him off, he can't be that bad?"
I send her a look. Yes, he is that bad. A year of verbal taunts says so. From the look on her face I can see she's taken the hint.
"Okay, so what about you? I know you broke up with him, but do you still want to date him?"
I sigh, "You know, at first I was completely horrified when I found out. But then I saw him again and I actually felt worse – sick to the stomach – when I realised that no matter who he was, I still lo- ... er... cared for him," I saw quietly, stuttering at the end.
"Did you love him?"
I close my eyes, "Close enough."
I hear Venus whistle beside me, "Wow. Intense."
"And now it's over," she continues.
"And you're an idiot."
"Yup – hey!" I protest when I realise what she's said.
She tries to stare me down, "You heard me. You're an idiot. I know you won't reveal his identity, but come on! No matter who he is the guy deserves a chance to prove himself."
To her surprise, I laugh – long and loud. Then I stop and look at her and say, "No."
I watch the cogs in her brain creak over as she tries to think of other ways to convince me to give Darien a chance to break my heart. I wish her luck, truly I do. Then I see her smile and wonder what she's thought of now.
"You know, he was probably there today and knows now that you know who he is," she leers at me, practically ecstatic with the knowledge that I may have been forced into a corner.
I cringe a little, but refuse to be cowed, "Shut up V, don't say things to give me bad karma."
She smiles just a little bit more, "What if it's the truth?" she asks with a toss of her long blonde hair.
I narrow my eyes at her, "I don't see how that can be so. I didn't see him there."
Her smile becomes sickeningly sweet as she nods at a point over my shoulder, "Maybe not there. But what about... here?"
I lean my head back to face the stars and close my eyes.
Chapter 20: Darien
I tap my fingers impatiently against my folded arms as I lean back on the wall in the employee lounge. The girls insist on fussing over Andrew while I wait tensely for a moment to talk to him after revealing one of the biggest, most well-kept secrets in all of Tokyo. I see Andrew waving them off as Meatball Head and the other blonde finally exit the room, and I decidedly close the door and lock it behind them. I turn to face Andrew.
"Okay, number one, you're secret is safe with me. Number two, let's figure out how to prove to the love of your life that you love her and win her back," he says with a grin.
At his words I feel the tension leave me and my mouth curls into a smile. I'm glad I told him, it feels like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders. The responsibility is still there, but it somehow feels like I'm no longer alone in this. The feeling is nice.
I open my mouth and lay out my grand plan, "Well, I was thinking I could find out who she is. I'm pretty sure she thinks that 'in real life' I wouldn't want to be with her – not that I know where she got that from, and not that it matters. All I need to do is prove it to her by finding her and surprising her with the fact that yes, I love her-"
"Whoa there! Slow down Darien," Andrew says, making a stop motion with his hands, "Let's think this through. Do you really think she would be okay with you finding out her identity? You do know that to do that you'd have to spy on her – do you think that doing something like that would make her trust you less? I don't know, just throwing it out there," he says mildly.
"Well..." I sigh, rubbing a hand over the back of my neck, "I don't know. We've never really talked about our identities. I only know she's turning 16 in the next month or so... I think. She might have already turned 16 for all I know," I say pathetically, realising how very little I know about the girl I love.
"Okay... I'm thinking it might be a bad idea to find out her identity then. Plus, what about the four other senshei? If you threatened to expose their leader's identity, I think you would have a little, teeny, tiny problem on your hands. I don't know how strong you are as you-know-who, but do you really think you can take on four senshei?"
Gee Andrew, way to make a guy feel like a complete fool. But that's the saying I suppose – fool in love.
"You're right Andrew, I know. I guess I haven't been doing much thinking where she's concerned. But can you blame me? She's..." I trail off, unable to find the words to describe just how wonderful she is.
It's amazing how this one girl has me spinning in circles. I've always been methodical, logical and rational. But the last few weeks, especially when she suddenly started ignoring me, sent me into a tailspin. It's for this reason I don't get involved with people; this reason I don't let them in. My life was completely ruined when I lost my parents, so I decided at a very young age that I wouldn't need anyone.
I run my hand through my hair in frustration at the memory of that particular life decision at the tender age of 10. It had worked thus far too, but then the dreams and my calling as Tuxedo Mask came and I found myself fighting at the side of a lithe, young blonde heroine who somehow wormed her way into my thoughts and my heart. Yet I can't bring myself to regret it... or even dislike the way I need her at all. She's become my guiding star, my ray of hope, my beautiful dream.
"Damn Darien, you have it bad," Andrew says, and I suddenly realise that I just said all that aloud.
I shrug and look away, unable to bring myself to care about exposing my complete vulnerability to her. I've been reduced to poetry and pretty words but she's not here to hear it. I'll worry about my masculinity later when I've figured out a way to get her back.
"So, what do you suggest I do then Drew?" I toss at him, twiddling my thumbs idly.
"Well you can stop acting like such a girl," he mutters teasingly, throwing a cushion at me.
"I'm not acting like a girl," I growl back, throwing the cushion back at him.
"Have you heard yourself lately? Were you not listening to that sad story you told me in the Arcade or what you just said now? Where is my best friend huh? Where is the guy who turned down the hottest girl at Azabu when she practically crawled up to you begging for a date? Where is the cool, calm and collected guy I met? What happened to him?" he questions proddingly, getting on my nerves.
"He's still here! You're looking at him," I protest petulantly, sending him an annoyed look.
"Pfft. Man, if you keep acting like a puppy and running around after this girl, then you are just keep getting put in the dog house. Man. Up," Andrew states simply, shaking his head at me.
I can't believe he's shaking his head at me. Man up?
"I'll have you know that for the last three months she's enjoyed the attention I give her!" I say hotly.
"So what happened two weeks ago to make her give you the cold shoulder? She said that it wasn't what happened between you two when you got – uh... 'close', so what else could it be?" he argues back, challenging me.
"Well if I knew I would have fixed it by now wouldn't I?" I snap, throwing my hands in the air in frustration and slouching back on the chair I'm in.
Andrew's expression softens as he looks at me, "Look Dare, as your friend I say this with all the love in my heart. I'm glad this girl means so much to you, I've waited forever for you to show some interest in... well anyone. You couldn't find a better girl I'm sure than the one who protects us all. But for heaven's sakes, you're a hero too you know. You aren't second fiddle to her and you don't have to put her up on this pedestal. She's just a person like you are and you need to start treating her like it instead. Don't worship at her feet... stand by her side."
I look up at him in surprise, shocked to hear such words of wisdom fall from my blonde friend's lips. I blink a few times as my mind processes the fact that no, I am not in the Twilight Zone and this is really happening. I take a deep breath and sigh.
Damn, when the man is right, he's right.
I see him smiling knowingly at me, and I know he's waiting for me to admit he's right. Fine, let's get this over with.
"Okay Andrew. You're right. I'll stop... acnlkappy..." I say, mumbling the last few words.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" Andrew says lightly, cupping his hand to his ear.
"I'll stop acting like a puppy," I say shortly, rubbing a hand over my eyes.
I really don't want to look at him right now. I know he's smiling.
"So when are you going to see her again?" Andrew asks me.
"Um, whenever I feel her transform I suppose," I mumble.
Fact is she's been transformed since near the beginning of this conversation. I just haven't felt like she needed me... and deep down I wanted this conversation. I wanted... needed... to talk to someone. I'm glad Andrew's a good friend to me, he's probably one of the best friends a guy could have. I'll make sure to do something nice for him for his birthday or something.
"Is she transformed now?"
"Yes..." I say nervously.
He throws the cushion at me again, "Then what are you doing here? Get out there!" he shrieks.
Yes, he shrieked at me. A grown man shrieked at me. And he called me a girl.
"Alright, alright," I grumble as he pushes me out the back door and into the alleyway and with a flick of my wrist I become the hero of Tokyo himself, Tuxedo Mask.
Ready or not Sailor Moon, here I come.
Chapter 21: Darien
She knows who I am.
The thought echoed in my mind as the realisation that my identity has been exposed fell on me like a cold fear gnawing at my insides. This was not good. It's not that I don't trust her, but if she can find out – so can others. Then again, I've never dated anyone from the NegaVerse, kissed them or taken them back to my apartment so I should be okay I rationalise wryly. It's my own fault really; I put myself at risk and now it's time to pay the piper.
"Hey cape-boy," Sailor Venus suddenly says, standing in front of me.
I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn't see her coming over. It's my own fault for giving my position away so carelessly. I wonder if I'm going for a record – first my identity, now my position... the only thing remaining is my pitiable past. I really hope that the universe is happy to expose only two out of three and let this poor boy alone. Can you hear the sarcasm? Anyway, she's still standing there I suppose it's time tod. I rise from my crouch to face the girl.
"Sailor Venus," I say cordially.
She grins at me knowingly... smirks more like it. Like the mouse that got the cheese.
"So, you know she knows. I must say I really am curious as to who you are underneath that mask," she says conversationally.
"Isn't everyone?" I retort.
"Well, to be honest I wasn't all that worried before. But given her reaction to you, I am really curious. Moon isn't the kind of girl to just not give people more chances than they deserve. You sir, are a first," she observes, cocking her head to the side to study me through slightly squinted eyes.
"Isn't that just great for me," I mutter under my breath.
"But you still do have a chance you know. She admited she still cares for you – I'm sure you heard. So don't screw it up. I'd really hate to hurt you if I find out she has alienated her closest friends for nothing," she says to me lightly, her sing-song tone deliberately casual as it directly contrasts with the steely look she gives me that promises a lot of pain if I hurt her friend.
I nod my head once to her, letting her know 'I get it'.
"Good. Off you go then, go get her," she chirrups happily, her face breaking into a million-watt smile.
Why are people always saying to go get her?
I shake my head clear of the thought and don't bother responding to the girl except to brush past her to make my way toward Sailor Moon who is still laying back on the roof with her eyes closed. I smile at the sight, seeing that she'd rather be anywhere than here confronted with me. I feel better knowing she's uneasy, it seems fair given that my stomach is still churning slightly from everything that's happened.
"Ignore me all you want, I'm not going away," I drawl, my tone slightly sarcastic as I lounge against the wall with my arms folded in front of her.
She opens her eyes to shoot me a quick glare, "No, you never do seem to go away no matter how much I try to ignore you," I hear her mutter.
"So I heard. How well do you know me?" I ask point blank.
"Well enough," she retorts, her chin lifting in an eerily familiar defiance.
"Well enough to dump me so unceremoniously and yet also to come back to my apartment of and trust me with your life? Is my identity so awful?" I bite out, annoyed with her stone walling and refusal to face me. "I want answers. I think I deserve something given what we've shared," I say, gesturing between us in mimicry of our relationship.
"No," she says simply after a moment, "Just leave it be. Trust me, it's for the best. You and I... we won't work."
"We were working just fine the last few months. Why did knowing who I am change that?"
She looks at me blankly, as if to communicate that she doesn't know how to answer or what to say. Or rather, she doesn't want to answer and she doesn't want to say because she's being evasive. Who is she to react like this? I wonder if she's one of the (many) girls I've turned down, and my cheeks warm with the shameful knowledge that I may have treated her feelings with the disdain I thought they deserved. Most girls don't know me, they're only interested in what I represent. Maybe this is divine retribution for my cool attitude toward them; thank you universe for hating me.
I step forward toward her cautiously, not wanting to scare her away. She regards me warily, and I see her body tense at my approach. I stop directly in front of her and crouch down to face her.
"Give me a chance. I might have been a bastard to you and for that I'm sorry. I tend to be that way with everyone and I didn't mean to hurt you. Please, anything you ask of me I will do to show you that I really do care for you," I say softly, willing her to believe me.
She looks hesitant at my words, and in that moment I pray with every fibre of my being for her to believe in me because I meant every word. She breathes out, closes her eyes slowly and opens them again a moment later.
"Okay," she whispers.
I leap for joy on the inside while I smile broadly on the outside and take her hands in mine to kiss each one gently.
"Thank you," I murmur against her pale knuckles.
She smiles wanly at me, "Don't thank me yet. If you want to prove you're serious then here is what you're going to do..."
Chapter 22: Darien
I gulped the bittersweet, scalding hot liquid down in one fell swoop, glad that I had been able to escape to my Arcade haven and away from the mass of insane females that made up half the population of Tokyo.
"Rough day Darien?" Andrew asked as he wiped down a tall glass behind the counter I was sitting at.
"Don't I know it," I mumbled irritably, half-wondering if Sailor Moon really was worth all this effort.
The task she had asked of me had been a simple one – if it were anyone else on the planet. I shudder now to remember my eagerness the night before when she had told me what it was exactly I could do to prove I seriously cared for her. Damn if I wasn't just the fool in love with her to agree to go through with it. The cold reality of today however woke me up to my senses. What she wanted me to do was very near the impossible. I could probably move a mountain using a teaspoon sooner than I could get through this week. Nevertheless I heaved a sigh. She was worth the effort. I'll just have to make sure to keep on telling myself that.
"So..." Andrew said.
It was really his way of saying 'tell me everything you don't want me to know'. Like what Sailor Moon and I talked about last night.
"So..." I say back to him, smirking at his attempt to pry.
I can't say I don't enjoy stringing him along; he's such a gossip and deserves it. Or maybe I'm just ever-so-slightly sadistic. Either way, I get my kicks and he (eventually) gets his gossip.
"Aw, now come on Darien! I get the news of the century and the millennium yesterday, and now you can't throw a guy a bone? Does our friendship mean so little?" Andrew whined at me, the exasperated look on his face making me chuckle with good humour.
I let the chuckle draw itself out. I really needed that after today.
"So what was the news? I know you got told one thing, what was the other?"
"Well the news of the millennium was that you had actually taken an interest in a girl. I was starting to think your love life involved a closet," he snarked back with a friendly grin.
I arched an eyebrow, "Oh really now? I guess I don't have anything else of interest to tell... at least, tell you anyway after that little insult my friend."
Andrew just sent me a put-out look as he took down the order of some girl who had just walked up to the counter. I do have to say one thing that I am very, very glad I did not run into a certain Meatball Head today. For sure I would have probably blown my 'mission' then and there, and good bye chance with Sailor Moon. Maybe someone up there is taking some pity on this lovestruck fool.
"So, tell me Darien, what exactly happened last night?" Andrew says as he finally caves in and goes for the direct route.
"We met. We talked. She said I have a chance to prove I'm serious about her," I answer with a wave of my hand as I focus on the newspaper in front of me.
"That's great Darien! So how are you going to prove you're serious?"
"I hardly think anyone would have a problem with that Andrew. Darien is always terribly serious about everything," a familiar voice says dryly beside me.
I clench my teeth.
She is worth it. She is worth it. She is worth it.
"Hello Me... –sigh-... Hello Serena," I grumble.
"I have a name! My parents can finally fill in that blank spot on my birth certificate!" she squeals delightedly, clapping her hands.
I, wisely, choose not to respond.
"So, what does Darien have to prove himself serious about?" Meatball Head asks Andrew.
I see Andrew throw me a malevolent glance and know that I'm about to pay for stringing him along just now. Bloody hell.
"He's interested in a girl and she's given him some herculean task to prove his worth," Andrew proclaims proudly.
"Oh really. How interesting. I wonder what this task is," Meatball Head ponders aloud.
"You know, I don't know. Darien hasn't told me yet," Andrew grins, looking at me expectantly.
"And I'm not going to. Not now," I grin back, taunting him with the withheld information.
"Um, excuse me?" another voice says from behind us.
I groan and turn around to face the girl. She's relatively pretty, in a common way. Not that it engages my interest at all.
"Can we help you?" Meatball Head asks the girl.
She blushes in response, and looks at me. Damnation... what a day.
"I just um, wanted to say hi... Darien," she stammers sweetly, looking up at me with big brown eyes.
She is worth it. She is worth it. She is worth it.
"Hi," I say back as nicely as I can, while hoping that the one short word conveys the real hidden meaning – 'go-away-I-don't-want-to-pretend-I-care-or-put-up- with-avows-of-love-and-devotion'.
Then she beams at me. Literally beams.
"Would you like to come sit with my friends and I? Just for a little while?" she asks shakily.
She. Is. Worth. It.
"Sure. Just for a little while," I say confidently, striding over to where her friends are sitting and giggling like the school girls they are.
"What the - ... did hell freeze over Serena?" I hear Andrew say behind me.
"I don't know Andrew. I never got the memo," Meatball Head laughs back.
FYI my friend, hell didn't freeze over. Pigs aren't flying and the apocalypse is not yet upon us. No, only one impossibility occurred to make this day happen, and that is this.
Darien Chiba fell in love.
And now he's paying for it.
She's worth it. She's worth it. She's worth it.
Chapter 23: Serena
I skipped into the Arcade, welcoming the cool rush of the air conditioning that hit my face as I escaped from the afternoon heat.
"Hey Serena, you're early today," he said back to me in his good natured way.
"Yes, I certainly am," I grin.
Of course I'm early. It's been only two days since Sailor Moon informed Tuxedo Mask that she would be seeing him in her civilian form, and if he were serious then he wouldn't treat her or her friends the way he normally would. She hadn't said he had to be nice to everybody or have a personality transplant, but it was clear he had no idea who she was by the way he was responding to every girl that paid him the least bit of attention. Not that she could feel sorry for him... it was more like she was having the time of her life!
"So you're here for the show I presume?" Andrew asked, clearly alluding to Darien's recent behavioural change.
"Oh yeah," I chuckled.
And that moment seemed to cue Darien's entry – stage right, followed by a dozen giggling teenaged girls. I surreptitiously watched as he practically stumbled his way to the counter to sit heavily on the chair.
"Coffee. Lots of it. Now... please Andrew," he begged.
I cackle wickedly on the inside. This is pure joy.
"Hi Darien," I say sweetly, grinning gleefully at him.
Not that Darien has noticed, but I haven't started any arguments with him. I've even gone out of my way not to smash into him on the sidewalk on the way to school. It's only fair, as I don't expect him to grovel while I lap it up. I just want to see if we can move past the arguing we seem to immediately fall into whenever we come into close proximity. He hasn't really responded to me whenever I say hi... and I'm not really sure what to make of it.
"Hello... Serena," he sighs tiredly.
I feel a twinge of sympathy for him. He's really been trying to be more than civil to the people around him. I know he's not someone who is naturally sociable, so I have to admit I'm impressed that he's doing this for me. Well, for Sailor Moon. A part of me almost hopes he will give up, it would be easier than the alternative of revealing myself. But I don't know Darien that well really, and I don't know how tenacious he is when he is achieving a goal. Though if his GPA is anything to go by... I just may have to face the facts when it's time to.
"Tough day?" I ask conversationally.
He closes his eyes and I can't help but feel hurt. How could he love me so much and not even know it? Am I really so annoying to him? It makes me wonder what it is I have ever done to give him such a low opinion of me.
"Yes. Very," he says shortly, clearly willing this conversation to be over.
A surge of anger rises up in me and I silently spin around on my chair to walk away, only to be faced with Raye, Lita, Ami and Mina who have just walked into the Arcade.
"So Meatball Brains, ready to talk?" Raye asks imperiously, her arms folded over her chest as she glares at me balefully with her amethyst eyes.
Lita nods while Ami shuffles around behind her, not willing to directly confront me. I see Mina edge away from them, her indirect way of saying 'I'm not with them, but I'm also not getting involved'. Way to fence sit Mina.
"No Raye," I say steadily, trying to keep myself calm and not show my nerves.
She tosses her hair with a snort, turning away from me in a symbolic dismissal of my presence as she goes over to a booth. I expected that, but it still hurts. I wish my friends had more faith in me as their leader... is it too much to ask?
"Hey Serena, you okay?" Andrew says from behind me.
I turn back to face him, "I'm okay Andrew. Just having a disagreement with the girls," I reply as smoothly as I can.
"Nothing big I hope?"
I wince, "Well, it is actually a pretty big deal."
"Can I help at all? You aren't in any trouble are you Serena?" he asks with concern.
It's times like this I can understand why I used to have a crush on him. He's so sweet, how could anyone not love him for it? But as my gaze flits momentarily over Darien I realise that somewhere along the way I found myself preferring someone a little more intense.
"I'm not in trouble Andrew. I just found out something about someone that happens to sort of concern myself and my friends. But the girls found out I knew and are upset that I won't tell them," I explain, albeit in a roundabout way.
"Well good for you Serena. It must be difficult keeping a secret like that. I respect that it's probably something that you think isn't your secret to tell right?"
"Yeah, something like that Andrew," I smile, "It hurts that they don't trust me, but like you said it's not my secret to tell."
"I'm impressed Meatball Head. I would've thought you'd have spilt it by now," Darien suddenly interjects wryly, though I can tell his tone isn't malicious – despite the backhanded compliment.
"There's a lot you don't know about me Darien. Grades don't make the person," I say quietly, fiddling with the straw dispenser in front of me.
I can't tell if he's looking at me or even heard what I said, and I don't really mind. Just the fact that he acknowledged something good about me gave me hope. It wasn't much, but I think it's a start.
Chapter 24: Raye
I stalked angrily away from Serena to a booth and sat down with a thump and a huff. I can't believe she did this to us, that she would be so stupid and reckless, that she couldn't even trust us with this. No, once again she had to go and do the dumbest thing she could think of.
"I can't believe her!" I snort angrily to the girls, willing them to join me in venting my anger.
They shifted in front of me uncomfortably. Figures, they always tended to stick to the sidelines.
"Where's Mina?" I bite out suddenly, realising she's slunk off.
"I'm right here," her strident voice says to my right as she sits down in the booth with us.
"Glad you could make it. I was wondering where that fence you were sitting on was," I huff.
Yeah, I know she's sitting on the fence and I'm calling her on it.
"Well, consider me off the fence Raye. I trust Serena's judgement. I didn't really agree with her when she did it, but clearly there is a reason why she told me and not you guys that she was dating him," Mina retorts.
"You knew?" I bite out.
She has the nerve to smile at me, "Yup. Not the whole time, but for a while now. Can't say I blame her – he's hot, even with the mask on," the blonde purrs.
"Um, we are talking about the same guy right? You know, the one who might be against us?" I spit out sarcastically.
She shrugs, she actually shrugs, "My trust in Serena is not based on my feelings about him. It's based on Serena – who is my friend, something you might have forgotten there for a second; and on my gut instinct. I don't think he is our enemy. Someone to watch yes, but not someone to fear," she says simply, as if it were a matter of fact.
I growl under my breath. The world truly has gone mad. It's not like I think Serena is an idiot per se... it's just that I know deep down how innocent and naive she is. She sees the world through rose-coloured glasses, and its dangerous. I just want to protect the Meatball Head, even if its from herself. I just wish she would understand that sometimes (okay, most of the time), I know better and I know what's best for her.
"I'd like to trust Serena too Mina, but its hard when she doesn't trust us. It hurts she didn't tell us," Ami says quietly, her voice barely heard over the din of the Arcade.
"Guys, what would have been your honest reaction had she announced it huh? You would have told her no and guilted her out of doing what she wanted. Then she probably would have ended up doing it anyway and we would still be right here in this moment, just maybe on a different day," Mina says as she crunches through some hot chips Andrew brought over mid-conversation.
Lita bangs her fist on the table in front of me, "It's just not good enough Mina. It was irresponsible of her and I'm with Ami. Surely she could have trusted us and at least given us the chance."
Thank you, Lita.
"The chance to what Lita? Tell her no? She's not five. She might be the youngest of us and that might make us more protective of her, but it was bound to happen sooner or later," I hear Mina say, though it sounds like she is talking more to herself than us.
I blanch at her words. I don't want to control Serena... I just... I don't know. She's just so sweet and innocent. How she is Sailor Moon, the leader of the scouts, is often beyond my understanding. She thinks with her heart and rarely her head. A good leader, a general on a battlefield, needs to make hard decisions. I don't think she can do that.
The familiar beep of Ami's computer, followed soon by the beeping of my communicator alerts us to the presence of a youma and drags me from my thoughts. In seconds we have gathered our things and walked as quickly as possible out of the Arcade. I can't see her but I know Serena is right behind us. Mina is ahead of us, leading the way, but suddenly steps into an alleyway where we all transform together in preparation for battle. After suiting up, we follow Ami's computer that leads us to an art studio downtown.
"Oh no, that's Peggy's studio," Sailor Moon whispers, her knuckle brought to her mouth in horror.
"The energy of this youma is very high. I believe it may be one of the rainbow crystal carriers," Sailor Mercury states absently, her fingers flying across the computer pad.
"I am Veena!" the youma cries, beating its wings fiercely.
We watch in awe as it lifts itself up from the ground, its unearthly beauty a strange horror to behold. Zoicite is laughing at the sight to our left and from the corner of my eye I see Sailor Moon leap in front of her.
"I am Sailor Moon, champion of justice and I won't allow you to take away a talented artist!" she cries, pointing at Zoicite. She turns to the youma, "Peggy please, let's not fight, I'm your friend!"
I watch in horror as Peggy doesn't reply, only begins her attack as Serena gasps in horror.
"Mars Fire Ignite!"
My flame burns through Veena/Peggy's snake attack, and I left loose a sigh of relief.
"Mars!" Sailor Moon cries happily, clearly glad I saved her sorry butt.
"I have to go after Zoicite! She has the green crystal!" Sailor Moon cries, racing off.
I turn my attention back to the other scouts who are fighting the youma Peggy, while trying not to completely destroy her. Its tough to fight an innocent and we spend most of the time dodging her attacks rather than attacking her ourselves.
"Moon Healing Activation!"
I heave a sigh and roll my eyes. It's about time she got back from chasing Zoicite. I turn my eyes on Peggy and am thankful to see her form shrink back to what it is meant to be. I see Sailor Mercury and Jupiter rush forward to check on her prone form, and I take the opportunity to see whether Sailor Moon retrieved the rainbow crystal.
"Did you get it?" I ask impatiently, unwilling to show my relief that she's okay.
She smiles at me, her puppy dog eyes shimmering happily.
"I take that as a yes," I sigh.
No need to get over excited. I'm still mad at her.
"No cape boy huh? Where is lover boy when I saved you from that youma? Should I start dressing up in a tuxedo and cape?" I snark at her unkindly – its mean but its the only way I'll show my concern for her stupidly jumping out in front of a general AND a youma like that.
"He was here," she murmurs quietly, a shy smile playing on her lips.
No freaking wonder she looks so happy.
"Well I'm glad he's gone! I can't believe you got involved with him! He could have taken the crystal you know! Did you think of that when you were off on your little rendezvous with him? Were you thinking at all?!" I accuse angrily.
I expect her to back down, and so she should. She's done the wrong thing and she knows it. But I'm truly surprised when she squares her shoulders to face me head on.
"No. You're wrong. I was thinking, and I did what I believed was right. You need to back off Mars. I am Sailor Moon, the leader of the Sailor Scouts and you will respect my judgement, even if you cannot trust me as either your leader or your friend. If you have a problem with my leadership, take it up with Luna. Until then, I've made my decision and it's not up for discussion. I'm sorry I didn't tell you guys before. I wish I had. I only didn't tell you because I wasn't strong enough then, but I am now; and so you know, I still plan on seeing him and giving him the chance he deserves – with or without your permission," she says steadily, her tone confident and her stance sure.
I gape at her. Never in my life would I have expected this moment to occur, and unwanted tears well in my eyes.
"Sailor Moon I just... wanted to keep you safe! We don't know anything about him and...and..." I stutter, damning the prickling feeling in my eyes that is tempting the tears to fall.
She puts a hand on my shoulder, "I know. That's why you're my best friend. I was wrong too, I should have told you," she says quietly.
I blink back my tears and shake my head, stubbornly refusing to be overcome with emotion. I'm a Sailor Scout, not some crybaby. I lift my head and force myself to look her in the eye, and finally I see that she's grown up since a year ago when she was the crybaby. I nod imperceptibly to her, the action symbolically acknowledging and accepting everything she just said. She smiles back and I take my cue to turn away and leave. She's right, she is Sailor Moon, our leader, but more so she's my friend... and from now on I will try to trust her judgement.
As much as I don't agree with it.
Heaven help him if he hurts her.
Chapter 25: Darien
Today is the day.
The short sentence summed up my entire existence since 6am this morning when I woke up. I breathe out, enjoying the feeling of my heart beating wildly within my chest. I cannot remember waking up to feel so alive, to anticipate a moment I feel I have been waiting for forever. Not even the hoards of young girls throwing themselves at me, flirting to high heaven for me just to look at them, could put me off. No, nothing could take this feeling away from me. Because Today. Is. The. Day.
I stroll leisurely toward the Arcade, determined to share my happiness with Andrew... heck with anyone. I whistle a happy tune, my hands in my pockets and my wistful focus on the clouds above until a gentle thud stops me in my tracks.
"Sorry!" a girlish voice says.
I look down at the blonde sprawled out on the sidewalk. I suppose she'll do.
"No problem Meatball Head, I wasn't watching where I was going," I say kindly, helping her up.
She looks at me strangely. I even understand it; I'd look at me strangely if I wasn't so overjoyed right now.
"Darien, are you okay?" she asks me, peering up into my face.
I smile at her, "Couldn't be better. I suppose you're on your way to the Arcade?"
"Yeah I am, where are you going?"
"I was on my way to the Arcade too. I suppose we could go together," I offer, continuing my walk.
"Um Darien, the Arcade is back this way. You've walked past it," she giggles at me, her small hand covering her mouth.
Right. That-a-way. I turn around with a self-deprecating chuckle and head in the correct direction to the Arcade.
"So, you're happy," she says beside me, glancing up at me.
"I am," I affirm.
"Hnn..." she replies absently, her face thoughtful, "Well, we're here. Bye," she says and she's gone; not that I've particularly noticed.
"Hey Andrew!" I greet him, waving at him a little.
He gives me a look, "Um, who are you and what have you done with Darien?" he says seriously, studying me with playfully narrowed eyes.
"Ha, funny, ha," I snark as I sit at the counter. I smile at him and lean in slightly, "Today is the day Andrew."
His eyes widen, "Really? No kidding?"
"Are you sure about this Dare? I mean, I was just thinking... what if things don't turn out so great?" Andrew mumbles at me, shuffling warily on his feet.
I snort, "What could possibly go wrong?" I ask, leaning back to fold my arms in my seat confidently.
"I'm just worried for you. This is going to be a surprise, and I wonder how much of a surprise it's going to be," he pleads.
I wave him away, "Nonsense. Everything is going to be fine."
I watch him from the corner of my eye. My heart is beating faster than a hummingbird's, and I'm trying not to be sick because today is the day.
I heave a sigh, unable to believe that everything rests on this one moment, this one revealing. I wish it wasn't going to happen as I'm terrified of his reaction, but at the same time I'm insanely hopeful that he'll just... I don't know... is sweeping me into his arms too much to expect?
"Serena! Hey! Where'd you go?" Raye's voice says as my vision refocuses to see her long fingers snapping themselves in front of my face.
"I'm here, I'm here," I mutter abashedly as the colour rises in my cheeks.
"Good. So... what did you want to talk about?" she asks me after taking a sip of her juice.
"I wanted to tell you girls something. I know I should have told you about um... you know... my secret boyfriend and I'm really sorry that I didn't. I just wanted to do it right this time," I say quickly, needing to get it out into the open while my courage doesn't fail me.
They stare at me, clearly expecting the worst. At least they're somewhat right about the news.
"I'm going to tell him...who I am... today," I whisper, looking down at the table.
Cue fireworks. I prepare my ears to be lambasted and tense my muscles in preparation to run away at the first sign of physical danger. But after a minute the normal chatter of the Arcade is still the only sound I hear, and I look up to see Raye looking constipated, Lita looking disbelieving, Ami seeming concerned and Mina with her eyebrows raised.
"Excuse me," Raye says softly, gracefully exiting from the booth.
I watch her go into the ladies bathroom, and I can't help but be impressed at how she is taking it.
"THAT STUPID MEATBALL HEAD ARGH...! ARGH... ARGH! DAMMIT!"
My eyebrows rise to my hairline as Raye's shrill scream carries through the door of the bathroom. I can even hear her stamping her foot and bashing her fists on something (probably the toilet stall doors) as she vents her anger. The entire Arcade is silent as she screams to the high heavens and curses, until as suddenly as she began she stops. I hold my breath as the bathroom door opens and she steps out looking as poised as ever, and walks back to the booth to sit down as though nothing happened.
"Okay Serena. I'm going to trust your judgement although I don't agree with it. I only ask that we can be there when it happens so if he says or does anything to hurt you I am first in line to kick his sorry ass," Raye says calmly, looking me dead in the eye.
She looks to the others and nods slightly at them, and smiles tightly when they return her nod.
I gulp, but smile happily, "Deal."
Chapter 26: Serena
"... and if he tries anything funny, scream. We'll be there in half a second to save you and beat his ass!" Sailor Jupiter threatened, shaking her fist determinedly.
"Make sure you stay at least a metre away from him too. It's close enough for him not to notice that you are staying away, but also far enough that if anything goes wrong you have the chance to get away," Mercury added in a concerned tone.
"It'll also mean you are far enough away for me to flame his sorry ass without catching you in the cross fire," Mars said menacingly, flexing her fingers as sparks of flame flew from them.
"And don't forget to keep your lips soft if he goes to kiss you!" Venus squealed romantically, though privately she would push her way to the front of the line to be the first to hurt Tuxedo Mask if he tried anything stupid.
I stood in the midst of them alternatively nodding my head and shaking it in response to the commands of my senshei, too flustered to do anything else. I was scared of his reaction. I had no idea how he would react to me, and part of me just wanted to run away and never face him again. But I couldn't, I had to try. The ever-hopeful, ever-optimistic part of me demanded I stay and give him the chance...
... to rip my heart to shreds, the sarcastic side of me added in vindictively.
I shook my head again to clear my thoughts and once again glanced around the chosen meeting spot. It was high up on a rooftop, higher than all other buildings around it so that no one should accidently find out my grand revealing. The stars were starting to peak out of the night sky like diamonds from dark-blue velvet. I didn't know where the girls would hide themselves as they didn't want my nerves to cause me to look at them in a silent plea for moral support when I was telling him who I am.
"We need to go now! He'll be here in ten minutes!" Mercury suddenly shrieked, pulling on Jupiter's arm.
Venus and Mars nodded, expertly fading back into the shadows as they leapt away. Not that I thought it mattered. Knowing him he was probably already here. He had a way like that, being all mysterious and stalking me silently into battle. If it were anyone else it would creep me out, but his presence had always been a comfort for me.
I tapped my foot impatiently on the roof, willing the minutes to tick by faster. I paced a little, sighed some and rolled my head about irritably, only to check my watch and see barely two minutes had passed since the girls had left me. Times flies when you're having fun... which I'm not; the prickling on the back of my neck however simultaneously lifts my spirits and gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach as I realise he's here. Sure enough, I turn and there he stands. It reminds me of the first night I knew he was following me after he saved me from the youma. I admire the soft billowing of his cape in the breeze, the tall posture and striking figure he makes as he stands there on the edge of the rooftop.
"Hey," I say, barely able to keep my voice from wavering slightly.
He smiles at me, confident as he has always been in both his lives as Tuxedo Mask and Darien Chiba. He is a man of many masks, and it scares me that he could turn that mask on me tonight and shut me out.
I don't have to do this... I can still run... or not as I feel him take my hand in his, having been so distracted by my thoughts that I didn't notice him cross the rooftop to me. Great, I'm going to cop a real lecture for breaking the 'rules' of this meeting. Attempting to lessen the coming punishment I gently extricate my hand from his, wincing slightly when his smile falters just that tiny bit.
"Hey," he replies.
For a moment I hope he gives me an opportunity to back out of this. That he will say 'it's okay, I don't care who you are, it doesn't matter'. His next words assure me that I will have no such luck.
"I hate to make you more nervous but I've looked forward to this all day," he says softly though his stare is as intense as the perfect storm.
"Yeah," I say nervously, wringing my hands together while I shuffle my feet.
He seems to notice my nervousness and places a comforting hand on my shoulder, "So, how did you want to do this? Big concert? Light show? Famous guest star followed by the main performance?" he jokes, clearly trying to lighten the mood.
I smile tightly and give him an "A" for effort, but an "F" for success, "No. I just thought I would close my eyes real tight and go for broke."
He sighs and I see him run a hand through his hair, "You know, I didn't think this would be so hard. It's almost a relief that you accidently found out who I am, there was less tension," he mumbles.
I thoroughly disagree, as I went through a great deal of tension over the whole thing. Just because he didn't doesn't mean that there wasn't tension, and the psychic part of my brain assures me that there will be plenty of tension to go around in the next five minutes. I emulate his sigh as I straighten my posture determinedly, deciding its best to get this over with.
"Well, ready?" I ask flatly, unable to inject any warmth, excitement or personality into the short sentence.
He nods so I close my eyes and lift my hand to my broach.
"Wait," I hear him say.
My eyes open only to see his face inches from mine as he pulls me close. I re-close my eyes and bring my hand to my broach as his lips meet mine. I wait a second before I let go of the transformation as I imprint forever in my memory the feel of his soft lips on mine, the warmth of his body pressing against me, the wonder of his arms holding me tight and the spicy scent of his cologne seducing my senses.
A moment later we are bathed in the golden light of my de-transformation.
Chapter 27: Darien
I don't know what compelled me to kiss her, I just had to. Maybe I was scared. Scared that once she finally revealed who she was all my perfect ideas about her would crumble; scared that maybe we just wouldn't work out once the hero costumes came off and all that was left was our humble, non-perfect selves. Either way, I am kissing her like its the last time I'll ever see her again.
I feel the warmth of the light from the de-transformation, see it as it lightens the darkness behind my closed eyes. A moment later it is gone and all that is left is truly the girl behind the hero. I feel her push gently at my chest and pull away from the kiss, but I refuse to open my eyes, instead breaking off the kiss to bury my face into the crook of her neck and hold her even more tightly to me. She pushes against my chest again in a clear attempt to make me face the reality, but suddenly I don't know if I want reality. The last time either one of us faced reality she avoided me for two weeks until I forced a confrontation.
Suddenly this doesn't seem like such a bright idea after all.
"Darien. Come on, let's get this over with," she murmurs, and already I can tell that in the de-transformation her voice has lost the authoritative edge it usually has when she is in battle.
"I know, I'm sorry, it's just..." I say numbly in an attempt to explain.
She doesn't respond, nor is she holding me anymore... When did that stop? I wonder, noticing for the first time how still she is standing. In fact her entire body is ramrod straight and I realise that she never really did quite kiss me back when I held her only minutes ago. I take a deep breath in the knowledge that this just has to be done. I pull back from her, holding her shoulders in my hands as I prepare to open my tightly closed eyes to meet the girl I love.
Just do it. Like a band-aid, just rip it off in one go.
I open my eyes.
The word hisses out of my mouth harshly in disbelief before I can stop it.
It comes out again, and she flinches at the anger and horror in that is so clearly projected in one short word.
Silent tears fall down her cheeks as my hoarse denial of who she is and everything that we shared is thrown back in her face in one, short, syllable.
I don't mean to hurt her... or do I? Anger wells up in me demanding answers to a thousand questions while disbelief renders me dumb with silence. A thrill of horror creeps up my spine and in the muddle of emotions I'm suddenly gripping her shoulders tightly and shaking her, demanding that she too open her eyes.
"Look at me!" I demand of her, my voice sounding strangely disembodied.
She doesn't open her eyes, her silent, stubborn refusal to do as I demand clear in every rigid line of her body and the grim set of her mouth. No more tears are falling, but somewhere in my mind I register that she is probably holding them back in an effort to maintain her composure.
"DAMMIT SERENA I DEMAND YOU LOOK AT ME!" I roar.
If she were going to respond I don't know because I am tackled roughly to the ground, the force of which forces my hands to let Serena go as I am shoved from my feet.
"Get her Venus, now!" an angry shrill voice shouts over me, and I realise that I am being held down by both Sailor Mars and Jupiter.
"Got her, Mercury – do it!" Venus calls.
I look up to see Venus wrap an arm around Serena's waist while Mercury calls up a fog. Seconds later I can no longer them, not that it would matter given that I am pinned down by Mars and Jupiter. I go to rise, determined to find her until a stunning punch to my jaw sends me reeling back onto the concrete.
"Stay away from her. That's all the warning you will get," Jupiter warns, her murderous tone promising me the pain of intimate acquaintance with her other fist if I disobey.
I give her no response, only watch as she and Mars fade into the fog. When I see they are out of sight I sit up and remember to breath. I take a few deep breaths in an attempt to regain some perspective. But all I can think is Serena is Sailor Moon.
Chapter 28: Darien
I start on my way home, there isn't much else to do – at least for now, and I need time to think... I think. As I jump over the rooftops of Tokyo I still can't believe she's Sailor Moon. Meatball Head; she's the one saving Tokyo.
Who's idea was that?
Crap... I kissed her. I kissed Serena. I kissed... and very well nearly did more with Serena. I take my hat in one hand and run my other through my hair in a frustrated gesture. What is she – 15?
Since when did a 15 year old have a body like that?
I realise what I just thought and smack myself on the forehead roughly. Of all the thoughts to be having, that is probably not one that should be cropping up. It's not as if I'm attracted to her, am I? My thoughts wander back to that night in my apartment and suddenly I find myself very attracted to Serena... or is it Sailor Moon?
Why is this so hard?
I'm still a fair way from my apartment and I'm taking my time getting there. There's nothing there for me but white walls and furniture. It's hardly a home I know, but it's as much mine as anything in this world ever was.
She was mine.
Was she? Even she ran when she found out who I was. Even she probably felt this way. I breathe a sigh that I hadn't realised I'd been holding in. See, she's not so perfect. She's human.
I'm such an idiot.
How could I not see this? It's so obvious now – she's a dead ringer for Sailor Moon with that hairstyle. But the two are so different. Serena is a whiny brat and Sailor Moon is a selfless heroine. Or are they? Can they be so different when they are one and the same?
I think I feel a headache coming on.
With a final leap I am home. Thank goodness. I slip into my apartment and go through the routine of preparing for bed. I undress and slip into a nice, hot shower. The water calms me, and for a moment I am allowed to ignore everything I learnt tonight.
Ignorance is bliss.
It's not to last. I turn off the taps and step out of the shower. I rub myself down with the fluffy white towel, across the shoulders, down the arms, up the legs, and finally cinch it around my waist. I lean forward onto the white porcelain sink and wipe a hand across the fogged mirror. Blue eyes stare back at me from beneath dripping wet black bangs and I am forced to deal with what these eyes saw a mere hour ago.
She was brave tonight.
She took a chance tonight; she took a chance on me and revealed the biggest secret in Tokyo. Even after she knew who I was and what our civilian identities had been through with eachother, she clearly trusted me enough to hold to her word to reveal herself.
What does this mean?
Does she still care for me? Is that why she showed me? Even after she knew who I was? I know that Serena hates me – Darien, and Sailor Moon loved me – Tuxedo Mask. Did one outweigh the other? And importantly... what do I feel for her?
I need to talk to her.
I need to talk to her. A conversation needs to happen. She might have dealt with her revelation of my identity by running away, but I need to confront this. I need to deal with this face to face.
Chapter 29: Darien
It was all well and good that I had decided to talk to Serena about things, except that she had obviously decided that she didn't want to talk to me.
I ran a very frustrated hand through my hair at the fact I'd had the quietest week of my life. Not once had Serena run into me with resounding thud followed by a thousand apologies. Not once had she come to the Arcade to scream insults at me and play the Sailor V game she loves so much.
It's not like I hadn't seen her; I had. It was that she always had at least one other person with her, making it impossible for me to simply steal her away to some dark alley and force her to talk to me. Only once had I caught her alone, and even then it was only for a few seconds.
I'd been at the park lamenting my woeful reaction to her being Sailor Moon... (on a side note who could really blame me), when there she suddenly was walking the pathway. I'd immediately stood and walked slowly toward her, not wanting to scare her away when she turned and saw me. The look on her face was a mixture of fear, shock and reserve for a moment until she regained her composure and the expression relaxed into indifference.
"I don't want to talk to you, Darien. Go away," she'd said in the most civil manner I've ever seen her address someone.
I didn't get the chance to respond because her blonde friend Mina appeared beside her to drag her away. I should have just forced the issue there and then while I had the chance, but no, I just stood there and watched her walk away. The only other time I had managed to get in close proximity to her with no one around was at the one battle that occurred only the day before yesterday. While there was obviously the chance to speak, it was difficult to do so in between saving her life and dodging the youma's attacks. Not to mention the fact I would rather not discuss my personal life whilst a NegaVerse General is in the vicinity. It's not very conducive to speaking freely about oneself.
So here I am a week later; a week after our confrontation, and she is seriously starting to piss me off. So I reacted badly, I know that. I can't change it, and I'm not sure I want to. It was an honest reaction and come to think of it I'm glad it happened. Andrew was right. I did put her up on a pedestal to idolise and worship. I thought she was some grand figurehead representing all that was good and right. How disillusioning to discover that she's really the brat I run into – ... I mean, runs into me every other day. But at the same time, I know deep down that no one else could be her. Serena might be childish and annoy the living daylights out of me, but she has a big heart for her friends and I know a strong sense of justice, even if she overreacts and is a bit of a crybaby.
I rest my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands. It's the over-reactive part of her that is pissing me off right now. If she'd just be mature about this she could at least talk to me. I'm over the initial reaction and now I'm wanting to move forward. But I can't when she's the catalyst to help me decide which way I... which way we should go. Maybe I should just kidnap her after the next battle.
I smirk at the thought. She'd go wild at me, hehe. Her little face would go all red like a tomato and I'd call her meatball head. She'd call me a jerk and...
Focus Darien. Really. You're a college student.
I watch people walk by me from my park bench. It's actually not a bad idea. I doubt the other senshei know who I am (no late night calls to my apartment to have a 'little chat' with old cape-boy), so I would at least get some time to talk to her (at least until they find us). I could always go somewhere else that's not my apartment... maybe book out a hotel room with a balcony. No, I frown, that won't do, that would require forward planning and I have no idea when the NegaVerse will next attack. Or I can just book the hotel room and take off with her the next time I see her... so long as no one notices me. But I think I can pull that off.
I flip open my phone to do something completely irrational and impetuous – something entirely unlike me. I call the Hilton and book a floor near the top of the building. The reception lady is nice and quite helpful. I decide to book the hotel room for a week. One night just won't cut it since I don't know when I'll see her next.
I flip my phone shut – all done. The trap is set. I smile at my cunning, enjoying the thrill of adrenalin that whispers through me at the prospect of doing something less than upright and noble.
I stare at the little phone in my hand as a feeling of guilt subsequently settles in my stomach. This is unlike me. Should I really do it?
The sudden feeling of nausea breaking over me like a wave signalling Sailor Moon's transformation decides for me. A quick check around confirms I am alone in this quiet part of the park and so I whip out a rose as my own transformation takes place. My senses tell me she's nearby and with a high leap I am racing toward the battle, my jaw set in grim determination.
It's now, or never.
Chapter 30: Serena
The cell-phone he gave me, hidden beneath layers of clothing in her dresser drawer, beeped –again- for the umpteenth time this week, and for the umpteenth time I didn't check the message like I never answered the phone calls. He'd been trying to talk me to ever since that night on the roof when he had so soundly rejected me; when all he could say to my revealed identity was 'No, No, No'. How those words echoed in my head and heart like nails on a chalk board, it gave me a headache and made my heart bitter. I hated him. I loved him. Another few tears escaped my tightly shut eyelids, the delicate skin at once trying to keep the tears in and reality out.
My clock alarm sounds shrilly beside me and I force myself to stir from my bed. I'm meant to meet Mina for a pre-lunch before meeting the girls for lunch – or to put it more plainly Mina wants to talk to me about the things I've been avoiding talking about. Though as much as I complain... I want to talk about it. The sick, twisted side of me that enjoys squeezing my heart until it hurts needs to rehash how everything went so wrong. I throw on a blue sundress and vaguely acknowledge that it looks quite nice on me as I pair it with some gold-dusted sandals and soon I'm out the door, shuffling down the sidewalk.
It's a nice day and oddly suits my mood. It's sunny, but not too sunny. A few clouds hang in the sky and a breeze twists the leaves in the trees every so often. I feel like today I think. I can't help but be sunny, it's my nature to be optimistic. But that doesn't stop the clouds from gracing my grey skies or the wind from ruffling my normally happy countenance.
I mean, the guy saved my life! Did he forget that? He's always there for me, swears he loves me and kisses me like... like I'm everything to him.
New tears prickle behind my eyes and I blink them away. I can't believe how much this hurts and it's just not going away. In fact it feels worse. Every day the ache settles lower in the pit of my stomach and it's like I'm caving in with it.
I need some sugar – fast.
Thankfully I see the Arcade (not my favourite place to go lately for obvious reasons) and I don't care if he's there or not – I need sugar! I practically run up to the counter to beg Andrew for a triple chocolate fudge sundae, but refrain from literally throwing the money at him.
"Gee Serena, good to see you too," he quips and I have the grace to blush at my rather feral behaviour – me without sugar is not a pretty thing.
"Hey Serena!" Mina calls from behind me.
I turn to walk over and slip into the booth with her, tossing a smile her way, "Hey yourself."
"And here you two are," Andrew says, placing a sundae and smoothie in front of us.
We thank him and turn back to each other. I take in a breath – okay... begin interrogation...
"So, how are you?"
"Are you sure? He hasn't tried to contact you?"
"Yes I'm sure and yes he has."
"Serena, I really wish you would tell me who he is. I really worry that now he knows who you are he could follow you home or..."
"Okay, okay. Well, how are you feeling then?"
"Funny girl," Mina quips with narrowed eyes, "So why have you been crying?"
"I have allergies?"
"Serena..." Mina sighs, leaning forward to hold her head in her hands, "I'm worried about you. I'm worried about your safety, but mostly I'm worried because I know you're trying to hide your feelings from us. I'm worried because I know the others don't want you to see him anymore, but from where I'm standing he simply reacted. Badly, I know. But even you had doubts. You broke it off with him – do you remember that? You said he couldn't love you."
I nod at her, not sure where she is going with this.
She leans forward even further, "Sere, I think you should give him a chance."
I snort... quite loudly at that. She looks at me so seriously that I actually burst out laughing.
"You can't be serious Mina."
She is still looking at me seriously, "I am, and Amy agrees with me."
"Amy?" I squeak – that is a serious allegation.
She nods at me, "Yes, Amy. Raye and Lita are fighters, I'm clearly the lover and Amy... well she's the brains of this operation. As best I can understand what she said, she thinks that he does care for you, but from what she knows of your relationship she also thinks that you two might not get along very well. Do you understand what I'm getting at Serena?"
I gulp, feeling my face drain of colour, but refuse to give in. So I lie, "No, Mina. I don't."
She narrows her eyes at me, "Then I'll spell it out for you. Amy suggested that there is a good chance you two might know eachother. How am I doing Serena? Do you understand what I'm getting at now?"
I nod at her, unable to speak. Please don't let her guess... please don't let her guess.
She looks at me satisfied and continues, "Good. Now that we understand eachother, it got me to thinking. Who does Serena Tsukino not get along with?" she said lightly, tapping her index finger on the table absently, "I mean, you get along with everyone. But then I thought... not everyone..." she said flippantly, her gleaming smile seeming more predatory with each passing moment.
I'm quite sure I'm as white as a sheet now. I've never been too good at hiding my feelings. She can see it too. I know, that she knows, that I know she knows.
"And you know what Serena? At first I was surprised. Shocked. Dumbfounded," Mina murmured quietly so that only I could hear, leaning in further and beckoning me even closer with her finger, "But then you know what I thought?" she asked.
I am so close to her right now. My face is inches from hers and my heart is beating wildly in my chest. She knows who he is. Amy probably figured it out too. But then Mina is saying she wants me to give him a chance? I'm more than confused as I lean in closer to hear whatever it is she has to say, my breath caught in my throat. I see her take in a breath before she begins to speak...
"OHMIGOSH HE IS SO HOT! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU! YOU ARE SO LUCKY!" she shrieks excitedly in my ear.
I shriek in pain and mortification as I jump back into my seat, my hand held up to the ear she just verbally assaulted. My face goes beet red as every eye in the Arcade locks onto us – first onto Mina for her scream and then onto me for being the 'lucky' one.
I groan and hide my head in my arms on the table, wishing to just disappear. The seconds tick by and I'm able to just think about what Mina said before she went all boy crazy Mina on me. She's right... I did break it off with him when I found out who he was. Maybe that wasn't fair... maybe I could have just talked to him... but in the end we're here and this situation is what we have to work with. I think back to all the phone calls and messages he's sent me. He still hasn't given up wanting to talk to me, even after I told him to go away that time at the park. Maybe I should talk to him and give him a chance to say his piece, whatever it may be. It would probably be better than to avoid my favourite hang-out spot just because he comes here. I can do that. I'm Sailor Moon, Champion of Love and Justice. I can talk to anyone I want! Even if its Darien Chiba.
Mina's prodding at my arm stirs me warily from my hiding place.
"What?" I mutter, annoyed with her.
She grins and inclines her head toward the windows. I follow the gesture and look outside. A lump rises in my throat when I see him walking toward the Arcade doors. An insane urge to just run rises up in me and I listen to it. Childish I know, but I liked to think of this as a strategic retreat. I leap up from the booth and hiss to Mina to give the girls an excuse as I bolt out the back door.
I will talk to Darien.
Chapter 31: Darien
"Serena had to run..." I heard Mina explain to the three other girls within the friendship circle of one MIA Serena Tsukino.
Figures. She probably saw me and ran. I run a frustrated hand through my hair and feel my annoyance with the girl grow. I really don't know why I'm bothering to put so much effort into this when she's clearly being an immature brat about everything. I plonk down on my usual seat at the counter and Andrew hands me my afternoon coffee.
"So, how's it going?" he asks me.
"Still avoiding me," I sigh.
Andrew wisely says nothing and returns to serving customers. I'm glad for his unusual silence because I'm not particularly in the mood to be any less anti-social that I normally am. For the sake of having something to concentrate on I open up a medical textbook and begin reading my chapters for this week. The reading is a nice distraction from my woes and soon I'm fascinated by a complicated appendix-removal surgery process. After a while I start to feel my head throbbing and figure it's time to close the book before the throb turns into a full-on headache. I sit for a moment to rub my temples, only to find that the throb gets worse and is followed by a stomach-turning moment. It's then I realise that Sailor Moon – Serena – has transformed and needs my help.
I say my goodbyes to Andrew before hurrying outside and around the back of the Arcade to transform. Although I rush off into battle, a part of me can't help but feel resentful that she'll gladly take my help but won't bloody well just sit down and talk to me. It's a rather convenient situation for her, and I my annoyance with her again grows. I would have thought that after all the effort I've made to try and talk to her she would realise that maybe my initial reaction was just that – an initial reaction, and realise that I'm actually trying to do something about us and whatever we are or might not be.
I arrive just in time to save her from being skewered by a barrage of metal spikes pelted at her by the youma. The milliseconds she is in my arms tick by in heavy silence, broken by the sound of the battle resuming when I place her on her feet and step back to observe the Scouts and help where I am needed. I notice Mercury and Venus glancing at me curiously once or twice, and wonder if they can sense my nervousness as I plot to steal their leader away at the first chance. I deliberately maintain my distance from Sailor Moon. There's no point being overly obvious about this.
My chance comes when the youma is finally held in place by Venus's love chain and stunned by Jupiter's thunder blast. Sailor Moon sends her tiara flying and the second it leaves her hands I throw myself towards her from my hiding place atop a nearby building. I send a barrage of roses at the cowering youma – as many as I can throw – before I grab her, covering her mouth as I leap silently away.
She struggles like a hellcat and the super-strength leant to her in her transformed state is threatening to throw me off balance. She's screaming beneath my hand, the sounds muffled by my glove, as she flails around. With a great leap I jump as high as I possibly can in the air and remove my hand from her mouth.
"Keep struggling and you'll fall," I whisper warningly, nodding to the ground below.
She gasps at me and I feel her bury her head in the crook of my neck while her arms tighten around me. The reaction brings a smirk to my face. Minutes later and one final leap we're on the balcony of the hotel room. I open the door and push her inside, biting back a laugh when she stomps into the room and plonks herself none too gracefully on the couch. I sit opposite her, removing my mask and hat.
"Now that you're here. We can talk," I say smoothly, leaning back in satisfaction.
She glares balefully at me before hissing, "I can't believe you!"
I shrug, "You gave me no other option. You were really being quite childish about it."
She rolls her eyes, "Oh I'm sorry. I suppose you forgot why I was being childish. Let me refresh your memory – no. No. NO!" she shouts the last word, causing me to flinch.
"I admit I reacted badly, but I've had time to think and –"
"Where are we?" she suddenly interjects, looking around the room, "This doesn't look like your apartment."
"It's a hotel room," I explain, "Anyway, I've had time to think about-"
"A hotel room?" I hear her mumble though I ignore it and continue speaking.
"You've thought about us?"
I smile, "Yes. I know I reacted badly, but I was just shocked. But I'm over that now and I want us to pick up where we left off," I say eagerly, leaning forward.
"You mean, when we broke up?"
"Yes. Of course."
She frowns at me, "So let me get this straight. You have decided that you want us to pick up where we left off... and you brought me to a hotel room to tell me this?"
I sat back, "Naturally."
"Naturally?" she seethes, and immediately my guard is up.
I nod. She gets up.
"You... PERVERT!" she screams, throwing a vase at me.
"I... WHAT?" I yell, ducking for cover.
"How DARE you bring me to a hotel to pick up where we left off? WHAT kind of girl do you think I am? Or is it just because I'm SAILOR MOON that you want me now huh? Did you miss getting all up close and personal with your very own ACTION FIGURE!?" she screams, the pitch of her voice hurting my ears.
Her accusations hit me like knives and my own anger boils over. I have done everything in my power to talk to her, to show her I care and she accuses me of trying to use her.
That's more than enough.
"ENOUGH!" I shout, advancing on her. "I have done everything I can to talk to you. I wanted to work things out! I wanted to show you that I was sorry for how I reacted – I couldn't help it at the time and it was natural enough! You were the last person I thought would be Sailor Moon, and from the way you reacted I know I was the last person you thought would be Tuxedo Mask! But no – its okay for you to run off for two weeks and not speak to me. Its okay for you to have fears and doubts, but the second I react badly I'm at fault?" I rant, alternatively pacing around the room to yell at the wall and at her.
She whimpers softly and I turn to look at her. She looks thoroughly chastised but I have no room for mercy. Not now. I've reached the end of my patience.
I walk to stand in front of her, "I got the hotel room because I didn't want the Scouts to follow us back to my apartment. I assume you haven't told them my identity."
She goes to speak but I hold up a hand.
"I don't want to hear it. I've had enough. I'm not going to chase after you. I expected your trust and respect after what we shared but it seems I have neither. I have to say I expected more from you," I say softly, showing my disappointment.
Tears form in her eyes but I force myself to step back. My heart aches and it's hard but I have to. I won't be a doormat for her tantrums and whims. I can't. No good relationship can survive such a thing.
"Tuxedo... Darien..." she whispers.
I step back again, looking at her with regret, "Its not all about you, you know. I have hopes and dreams... fears even. I'm not perfect, you know that..."I say, referring to the times we've clashed as Darien and Serena. I sigh and look away from her, "You know, I heard you that day when you told Venus you thought I couldn't love you. How ironic it is for me to stand her and see that maybe its the other way around. That maybe you just don't love me," I murmur sardonically, making light of the knife-like pain in my chest.
She steps toward me but I step back again.
"Sailor Moon?" I hear a voice say outside the balcony.
I smile, "See, I was right. I thought they might be able to track you," I say to her.
I walk toward the front door of the apartment, my steps heavy on the plush carpet. I'd done everything I could and it clearly wasn't enough. She might not have outright rejected me but her actions were loud and clear ever since she found out who I was. I put my mask and hat back on before swinging the door open. I glance back over my shoulder to see the Sailor Scouts stumble into the room. Shooting one last look at Sailor Moon, I tip my hat to her and make my most ordinary exit from her presence that I have ever done. I walk out the door and close it behind me with a soft -click-.
Chapter 32: Serena
He was gone.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I felt the beginning of a sob tighten in my chest. He was gone. I never noticed that I had fallen to my knees on the plush carpet, or that the girls helped me to my feet and took me home. I couldn't appreciate the lack of an interrogation from the girls, who were too shocked to see me so distressed to say anything, or from Luna, who knew better than to push a soldier when she's down. No, all I could do was wonder how this had gotten so messed up and cry out my frustration and anguish until, exhausted, I fell asleep.
I woke up the next day feeling rested and calm, as anyone would after a long, hard, cry. But despite my rested state, a heavy cloud of indecision and uncertainty hung over me. I wanted to see him, but at the same time I didn't. I wanted to go to him, but I couldn't. I wished he would come to me, but I didn't even see him. I barely remembered anything else of my day except that I didn't see him.
The girls couldn't talk to me. They would try, sometimes, to form the words to ask me what was wrong or how they could help; but none would come. What could they say? How would I respond? I was broken hearted and nothing could 'fix' that.
I stopped going to the Arcade. It was too hard to be there and not see him. It was worse when I overheard Andrew musing to Mina that Darien had only stopped in for a few moments before leaving again. It was worse because it felt like his ghost were following me wherever I went. I even took a new route to school to stop passing by the corner where we would sometimes crash into one another.
That was how I found myself at a little corner cafe a few blocks away from the Arcade sipping on a hot chocolate. It was a nice little place, very cosy and friendly. As I poured over my homework, the inane task helping me focus my head on something other than my heartbreak, I found myself looking up to see a familiar dark head in the crowd waiting to cross the intersection. I stopped breathing, unable to tear my eyes away from the blue-black mop of silky hair that belonged to my hero and ex-lover. And then he was gone from my sight as the crowd walked across the road, and I had suddenly found my favourite spot in the world.
So many times I went back to that cafe at the exact time just to see him cross the road. It was a bittersweet hobby to watch him as he buried himself in a book, to see a redhead deliberately bump into him to catch his attention, to almost smell the scent of his musky cologne. I could almost swear I smelt roses every time he were near, but knew it was only my imagination. He was so close, and yet so far, and I couldn't see anyway to cross the chasm. I had taken care of that. I had ruined everything with my childish outburst. I couldn't just sit and listen to him when he was there to be heard, no, I had to let my own personal feeling of offense and humiliation get in the way. I was stupid and impetuous, and now I'm paying the price for my mistake.
She doesn't go to the Arcade anymore. Andrew mentioned it in passing when I stopped by to drop off some CDs I had borrowed. It killed me a little inside to know that she hated me that much that even her onii-chan wasn't enough to tempt her back to the Arcade. Not that I blamed her, she had every right to feel that way. I acted rashly, I was stupid and forced her hand when I should have perhaps waited and courted her good opinion. But no, I wanted it all and I went out to take it without thought or cause and in the end lost everything. But that wasn't my only mistake, no, my first and greatest mistake was betraying her trust.
I promised her the world, but I never lived up to my promise. I loved Sailor Moon, but was unprepared for the girl behind the mask. I kissed her lips, but did I ever really touch her soul? Did I ever really know the girl beyond the heroine I crushed on? I don't know, and in hindsight I don't think I really did. I could say I never really could have known her because her identity was a secret, but does that really excuse me? Did I really have the right to be shocked and upset when she chose to trust me, only to have that trust broken moments later?
I laughed harshly at the thought, a bitter choking sound made in the back of my throat. Of course not, of course I never had the right. I may have had the right to be shocked, but had I really loved her shouldn't I have reacted differently? I shake my head, I do not know. When she found out who I was she avoided me. Perhaps if the situation had been reversed, I would have done what she did and run away for a time. But she did come back, proof that she loved me no matter who I was – even though I was the jerk who teased her for over a year.
The headache I feel throbbing between my temples refuses to go away, no matter how many aspirin I take. It's too hard to sort through the mess and jumble of my thoughts and emotions. I know I stuffed up, even if I'm not sure how or where or when I made the mistakes I did. If anyone could draw up a list of my crimes I would confess to each and all without hesitation if I knew it to be true or not. Failing that, all I can be, and all I am is sorry for everything and wishing I could just tell her but knowing that she doesn't want to hear it.
I found her hiding spot. She goes to a cosy little corner cafe a few blocks from the Arcade now to do her homework. It was pure coincidence that I found it, and her, while I had been shopping in that area for a birthday present for Andrew. I think I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the familiar blonde meatballs hanging over a textbook until she shifted in her seat and I melted away into the crowd.
Call me crazy and maybe obsessed but I went back there almost every day just to walk by the cafe and see her for a few seconds. It was better than not seeing her at all. I made myself inconspicuous in the crowd, making sure that I walked by the window to the side so I could gaze on her profile for those few precious moments before moving on without looking back. I don't know if she saw me, but I don't think she did because she still goes to that same cafe to sit in that same seat.
In my wildest dreams I go into that cafe and sit down with her.
Chapter 33: Serena
I had to get on with my life.
I decided this when I found myself racing toward the corner cafe like a demon, afraid I had missed my afternoon Darien-spotting session. I slowed to a walk and sighed deeply, breathing in and out several times to calm myself. I was a pathetic mess and I couldn't go on doing this.
My head hung low as I watched my feet walk the pavement, and even though I knew I wasn't looking where I was going it still came as a surprise when I bumped into someone.
"Sorry," I said automatically, catching myself on a pair of strong arms.
"It's ok..." he replied softly, and I looked up to find him there.
My heart wrenched a little in my chest. He looked good, with his black hair falling carelessly in front of his blue eyes. I just wanted to throw myself at him and beg forgiveness then and there... to curl myself around his legs until he knew how sorry I was for acting like an idiot. Then he helped me stand back up and some semblance of sanity returned to me. I coloured, feeling the blush rise on my cheeks and looked away from him.
"Are you ok?" he asked softly.
"Are you sure? You didn't twist your ankle or anything?" he asked again after a moment, though a little more awkwardly.
Only broke my heart... I love you... take me back...
Moments passed and we were still standing there, awkward as two people can be after a bad breakup. I glanced at him and felt a sick swirl of disappointment to see him looking away with a frown on his features. Clearly he just wanted to be rid of me and was trying to find a polite way to say so.
"Well, thanks... for catching me. I, um... have to go," I mumble, gesturing in the direction I was headed.
He looked at me for a moment and nodded.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP!
We both glanced down at my bag from where the sound came from. I knew the sound and he did too. It meant trouble. We looked at each other and a flicker of understanding showed in his eyes as I turned and ran toward the nearest alley. He kept a lookout while I threw my hand in the air and spoke my transformation phrase. Seconds later I was Sailor Moon, followed moments later by Tuxedo Mask. I leapt onto the roof top and toward the battle with him by my side the whole way.
We arrived there in minutes to see Mars fighting off a fire youma while Mercury and Jupiter battled an octopus-like youma. It never failed to be an odd sight to me whenever the Nega Verse came up with new monsters the way they did. Nevertheless, I threw myself into battle with the octopus, throwing my tiara at its arms.
The arms grew back in doubles and with alarming speed so that soon the three of us were dodging hard tackles from the tentacles. Venus finally showed up and managed to ensnare the fire youma with her love-chain while Mars cleansed it with holy fire. It disintegrated with a yell, leaving the six of us to deal with the octopus and its many arms.
"It's the eye Sailor Moon. The right eye," Mercury told me from behind.
"Ok. So how do I get the damn thing? The tentacles are in the way?!" I cried back.
"We'll distract the arms," Jupiter yelled back.
I backed away a little from the fight to allow the girls to do just that and bided my time until I could most effectively strike. Seeing an opening, I ran in with my tiara prepared. The girls saw me coming and increased their attacks to keep the beasts' eyes on them when, out of nowhere, a tentacle grabbed me and flung me high in the air. I screamed in shock and fear as Mars' fire ripped through the appendage, leaving me to fall to the ground. Of course, I didn't hit it because my saviour was there to catch me.
He landed on the ground with a gentle thud and put me down on my feet. I turned to thank him when I saw too late a great purple tentacle flying towards us. I opened my mouth to speak, or scream, to warn him somehow but to no avail as he turned at the last moment only to be viciously hit into a tree. I screamed again, seeing his dark form crumpling to the ground and hot tears stung my eyes.
I ran over to him and cradled his head in my lap. I pleaded with him to be ok. I begged him not to die, to forgive me for being silly. I confessed I loved him, and promised I'd do anything he asked if only he'd wake up. His head lolled weakly to the side, and the blood on my hands told me he had a serious injury. Mercury appeared by my side and scanned him before gently pulling him out of my arms and ordering me back into battle, saying that the girls needed me. I nodded at her weakly and longingly cast my gaze over him one last time before I spun around and returned to battle.
I settled my angry, tearfilled gaze on the creature and screamed again. But this time out came a roar of rage and a challenge for battle as I sped toward the centre of the flying arms. I heard the girls scream for me as I dodged, ducked and dived. I barely registered their attacks as they tried to divert the beast's attention, but their attacks didn't stop it from gaining one arm around me. I struggled and yelled in my anger, glaring at the monster as its arm brought me face to face with it.
"Silly girl!" it sneered, laughing at me.
"F $# YOU!" I screamed hoarsely back, wriggling my arm free and tearing my tiara from my forehead before I rammed it straight into the youma's right eye.
An unholy shriek echoed in my ears, rendering me momentarily deaf, as the beast exploded in an array of rainbow coloured dust. I coughed a little as I breathed the offending air in, falling to my knees on the ground when the tentacle holding me failed. I couldn't help but flop onto the grass, exhausted, bemoaning my aching muscles.
"Are you ok?"
I looked up to see him standing there... more like slightly slouching as he held his bruised stomach with one arm and offered me the other.
I smiled at him, "I will be."
He nodded, pulling me up, "Good to hear."
I couldn't help it when I threw myself at him and kissed him with every ounce of desperation and relief I felt at seeing him there ok. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held on tight as if he would disappear were I to let go. I stayed there like that with him for minutes until he slowly pulled away. Unwillingly, I let go.
He held up a hand, silencing me, "I have to go," he said softly, his eyes catching mine.
I blanched, my confusion and hurt showing in every line of my face, "Why? You have to know-"
He shook his head again, silencing me once more, "Just... I need some time to think, ok?"
I nodded mutely, powerless to stop him as he turned to walk slowly away. Watching him go I felt almost physically sick knowing that he held my heart in his hands, and I had no idea what he was going to do with it.
The blonde sat in a booth in the corner cafe, sipping away at her hot chocolate. She was a pretty young thing, but with a look of heart ache in her eyes.
Blue eyes watched from the shadows, as they always had. The raven-haired young man had been her protector from the start, and he had never once failed in his duty to be there whenever she needed him. His full lips curved into a winning smile as he took the necessary steps to her table that would forever alter the nature of his duty to her. He would be more than her protector, if she would have him.
Curious eyes watched on as the young man boldly presented himself to the girl of his choice. She was, at first, taken aback by his presence. She argued with him, fought against his professions of love. He calmly countered her at every turn, smiling at her the whole time.
He reached out to take her hand; she pulled it away.
He laughed; she scowled.
She told him to leave; he vowed never again.
She pointed a broken fingernail toward the door of the cafe; he grasped her small pale hand in his and kissed the knuckle.
"I'm sorry," he whispered against the skin.
'I'm scared,' her eyes told him when words failed her.
'Me too,' was his silent reply.
They sat there in peaceful silence, her hand clasped in his in the middle of the table. He ran a thumb over the soft skin, marvelling at the feelings in him from just being near her. Her eyes ran over his face which had been gentled by his deliberate vulnerability. He was letting her in, asking for a chance, while giving her the time she needed without pressuring her.
She smiled; he'd always been a gentleman, even if he had been a bit of a jerk to her.
She told him that very thought; he chuckled and she smiled in return.
"Are you two okay?" a matronly waitress asked, seeing the empty mug.
Their eyes locked...
... they would have to talk. It wouldn't be all rainbows and sunshine.
... she had to tell her scouts. He had to talk to his best friend.
... she was still young, he needed to know this was what she wanted.
... he was older and more mature, she needed to believe she was what he wanted.
... either of them could die tomorrow, dare they take the risk?
... the war with evil could go on forever, why should they wait?
They smiled, and held hands became interlaced fingers as they exchanged hearts.
"We'll be okay, thank you."
Well there you have it. It took me forever but I'm happy with the way this ended. Thank you for your support and constant nagging to get me to finish haha. Love you lot too :oP. Cheerio.