Continuing Tales

First Truths

A Sailor Moon Story
by Lilac Summers

Part 3 of 15

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First Truths

It was a glorious day! Her mother, the don't-you-come-back-in-here-until-you-pass-your-test mother, had taken one look at her this morning and turned into Ah-my-poor-baby-are-you-feeling-okay mother. Even Luna, more a stickler about schoolwork than her mom, had taken one look at Usagi's haggard face and consented, somewhat guiltily, that Usagi should take a day off from school and get some rest.

So that's what Usagi had done, sleeping deeply until two in the afternoon. Her mother had then pressed a hearty lunch on her, of which Usagi'd been more than happy to partake, then shooed her outside so Usagi could get some fresh air and sunlight.

Usagi was now feeling spiffy, lounging on a park bench, staring drowsily at a group of playing children, and congratulating herself on earning a little holiday. Why, maybe fighting all the time isn't all that bad...if I get to take every Friday off. Of course, mention of fighting brought her mood plummeting straight down. She'd been trying so hard to keep her mind off last night's disastrous meeting with Tuxedo Mask.

She groaned and covered her face with her hands, fighting the remembered humiliation. Stupid, stupid stupid! You finally get to talk to him and you FALL ASLEEP! God, Usagi, shape up!

But that wasn't even the worst of it! The worst part was the fact that Tuxedo Mask, her savior, her hero, her idol, her everything, had called her incompetent. It was the very last nail in the coffin, driving the point that Usagi totally sucked at everything she did. Come on, girl, how hard can pointing a little wand thingy be? WHY are you such a screw-up? And why...oh, why couldn't Tuxedo Mask see how the very last thing she ever needed from him was criticism?

Usagi heard the shrieks of laughter from the kids and wished that she could join in, escape the reality of another failure for even a little while. She slanted one eye open and watched enviously as they played with a raggedy frisbee, throwing it with more enthusiasm than talent. Then a little girl misjudged distance and threw the disk right at Usagi.

Usagi watched dispassionately as it flew towards her face with frightening speed. It would take a simple reflex to catch the disc expertly, but she really didn't care if it hit her or not. Poetic justice to get knocked out by a frisbee of all things. After all, maybe she'd get a concussion and wouldn't have to face Tuxedo Mask in another fight for a long, long time.

Usagi closed her eyes and waited for it to hit, wondering idly just how much it would hurt...

"My god, you are the laziest girl I've ever seen! Can't you even move long enough to get out of the way, Odango Atama?"

Usagi would recognize that voice anywhere. How couldn't I recognize the voice of the very devil himself? She didn't even have to open her eyes to see that he'd also caught the frisbee, ruining her chance at unconsciousness.

"Hello, Satan. Out for a neighborly stroll today, looking for new souls to suck dry?" she deadpanned, feeling the cleansing power of anger wash over her depression. Well, if she couldn't let some kids bonk her on the head, she might as well take out her frustrations on him.

Mamoru frowned down at the girl on the bench and carelessly threw the frisbee back at the group of kids. He didn't like the fact that she hadn't even deigned to look at him when she insulted him.

"You are the most infuriating kid," he commented, smiling shortly when she grimaced at the word "kid." "And don't call me Satan."

"Then don't call me Odango Atama," she countered.

"I'll call you whatever I want, Odango Atama."

"Whatever, Satan."

"Odango Ata-" Mamoru stopped, blushing furiously as he realized how childish he was acting. Correction: how childishly she had prompted him into acting. He, mature 17 year-old, refused to stoop to the level of this teenage girl.

"Anyway...what's a kid like you doing out of school? Did you ditch? Or did you just whine until your parents let you stay home?" he sneered.

Usagi almost opened her eyes and sat up, seething with righteous anger. How dare he? He had no clue how worn out she was from fighting each night! He had no idea how difficult it was to sludge through school, always tired. But at the very last minute she dropped back down on the bench, flinging her arm over her eyes, just so she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of getting a reaction out of her.

"Yeah," she muttered, "that's it. That's me. Always conning my parents into letting me out of class. Lazy Usagi. You know me so well."

Mamoru paused, his senses giving off little warning bells at her quiet answer. There was so much sadness beneath the flippant tone. He would almost think he had hurt her feelings somehow.

"Look, bud, it's been great chatting with you, as always," she drawled, "but couldn't you just go away and look for some other kid to bother?"

The darndest thing was, that was exactly what he'd been about to do. He hadn't even planned on coming over here in the first place! Except that he'd been passing by, and she looked so peaceful lying on the bench, glorying in the sun. Peaceful...uh-huh. You liar. She looked beautiful, that's how she looked... Mamoru frowned those thoughts away.

So what if he had been drawn to her? He was a guy, just like any other. Guys tended to notice how good a girl looked in short shorts, and a thin shirt, with miles of blonde hair cascading over a bench. At least, this guy did. But besides all that, Odango Atama was fun to tease . . . when she wasn't being a pain. He thought he could handle brief, VERY brief, periods of talking to her. Too much and his thoughts would turn homicidal.

Anyway, the plan had been to insult her, laugh at her, and leave. He'd done the first two, and he had planned on leaving the very second before she told him to do so. Of course now, perversely, he couldn't leave. It'd make her think she could order him around! Chiba Mamoru could not be ordered around by a ditzy junior high school student.

"No way. You are taking up the best spot in the park. I'm not going to let you, annoying as you may be, run me out of here."

Usagi rolled her eyes, then realized he couldn't see them as she still had her arm over them, and decided to snort at him, instead. "Whatever. Just don't bother me and I'll try to forget you're here."

Mamoru stood uselessly at the head of the bench, staring down at her with acute dislike. I should just go. Just walk away and let her keep that damned spot. Why the hell am I here, anyway? But he couldn't force his feet to move, pride having rooted him to the spot.

After a few seconds of feeling foolish standing there, he growled down at her, "Move over. It's not your own private bench."

She finally decided to look at him, baring angry blue eyes. "NO! I was here first!"

"You're taking up the whole damn bench. Move over so I can sit down. Don't be so selfish."

"Sit on the ground, like a good little dog, right at my feet. Or, better yet, you can be true to your form, Satan, and go straight to hel-"

She was cut short as he forcibly hauled her upwards, wedging himself where her head used to be. She hissed angrily and refused to be moved.

When the tumult was over, they found themselves in a very uncomfortable position. Usagi was shocked to find her head resting on his lap, and Mamoru was dismayed to notice this, too. They both stared at each other in disbelief, yet both too stubborn to rectify the situation.

Oh my god. This is so humiliating. If my friends see me now, I'll never hear the end of this. I should move. I should really move. But NO! I was here first! Damn it, why does he have to be so annoying? Usagi shut her eyes angrily, fully expecting him to make the move that would save her poor head from being...cradled on his lap.

Shit. This was not supposed to happen. Why does she have to be so stubborn? She's such a child! I'll be damned if I move, though. Mamoru sat back, waiting for her to finally get OFF him, completely sure that she'd back off soon enough and hightail it away, leaving him alone. Why on earth did he have to be so adamant today, anyway? He swore, Odango Atama brought out the very worst in him.

So there they stayed, each waiting for the other to take action. Seconds passed. Somewhere along the line they finally realized neither of them was going to budge. Usagi opened her eyes and glared balefully up at Mamoru, and he returned the look.

"Jerk," she muttered.

"Brat," he responded.

Strangely, the shared animosity relaxed them both. Nothing had really changed, after all. They were still mortal enemies; it was just that, this time, one mortal enemy had her head on the other mortal enemy's lap. No biggie.

Usagi shut her eyes against the sunlight again and shifted. His thighs were hard, muscular beneath her head... Stupid. Don't notice that now!

"You're on my hair," she informed him.

He looked down from where he had been watching the children, doing his best to ignore her. "What?"

"I said, you're on my hair."

He looked down and noticed that he did, indeed, have several feet of golden hair trapped under his arm. He grabbed it (a little roughly, he had to admit) and rearranged it (shoved it was more like it) over his lap so it fell to the floor. He refused to think about how silky it felt. And somehow familiar...

"Good grief. Why on earth would anyone want so much hair?"

Her eyes flew open, only to squint shut when the sun hit them. Without conscious thought, Mamoru placed his hand at an angle above her head, blocking the light. She opened them again. "Why do you always have to insult my hair? What, you run out of insults so then you have to revert back to the hair? Is it back-up material or something? I'll have you know a lot of guys like my hair!"

He scoffed at her. "Yeah, right. I can't imagine a single guy out there who could possibly like you, Odango Atama."

Usagi felt her entire body tense, amazed at how much that one had hurt. But she'd be damned if she let him see it. "And I can't imagine a girl who'd like you! Y-You cold-hearted Satan!"

And that one hit him dead center. She couldn't know that he'd wondered over the years if there was something wrong with him, when he pushed away any girl that showed interest in him because there were simply no feelings left in him to reciprocate.

They looked away from each other resolutely, keeping themselves occupied by watching the children continue their games. Each nursed their hurts in silence.

Several minutes later, Usagi dared to speak up. "Anyway, there is a boy who likes me," she lied. No, not a lie...a hope. "He's gorgeous, and sweet, and he's always there when I need him."

He shifted his attention back to her, still smarting over her previous comment. Her head was turned towards the children, and he could study her profile at his leisure. He could tell she expected him to answer in some way, not quite sure if it would be derogatory or not, but probably expecting it to be. He decided to surprise both of them.

"Yeah? I'm glad for you," he responded quietly, trying to picture in his mind the type of man that Tsukino Usagi would go for. He gave up. It was simply impossible picturing her with some teenage guy. He just drew a blank.

When he stumbled out of his thoughts, he found that she'd turned to look at him and was staring, openmouthed. "Wow," she breathed, "you said something nice."

He frowned, wondering what the hell he'd been thinking to actually encourage the girl. Now what would she do? Call him Satan again?

"Thank you," she said, effectively pole-axing him and leaving him staring. "And you?" she queried, genuinely curious.

He looked at her grimly, searching for a trap. All he could find was honest interest, so he acquiesced to his impulse. He'd always wanted to let someone know, anyway, how wondrous his dream-princess was. That she was a dream and nothing more, Usagi didn't have to know.

"Well," he began, smoothing back Usagi's hair without thought, "there is this one girl...She's gorgeous. The most beautiful girl I've ever seen. And she's so brave, and strong. Nothing can keep her down. And let me tell you, she doesn't have an easy life. But you can see just by looking into her eyes that there's joy in her, and that she can offer that happiness to so many others..." He trailed off, wondering to himself if he had been describing Sailor Moon or his Princess, and concluding that he'd described them both.

"Wow," Usagi breathed again. Well, wasn't Mamoru just full of surprises today? She was almost jealous of this girl that could inspire such love from cold Mamoru. After a few seconds of having Mamoru absently stroke her hair, she got tired of waiting for him to get down off Cloud 9 and answer her questions. She reached up and pulled on the lock of hair that fell over his brow, guiding his head down. When he was bent over at the waist and only a few inches away from her, she looked up at his wide, shocked gaze and whispered conspirationally: "So, do I know her?"

Mamoru felt his chest constrict, only to whoosh out in a combination of relief and disappointment when he figured she had not been intent on kissing him, after all. He couldn't help a rumble of laughter escape, which Usagi could feel vibrate against her head.

He straightened and sat back again, resuming his gentle exploration of Odango Atama's hair. Well, now he had to make it good. "I don't know. Maybe."

Usagi squealed and clapped her hands. "Really? Like, does she go to my school? I could hook you two up, you know," though that idea, for some odd reason, didn't fit so well in her mind.

He enjoyed her enthusiasm, egging her on. "Maybe."

"Maybe? Will you stop just saying 'maybe'? Dish up the dirt! I bet I can guess who it is. Give me a clue as to what she looks like," she pleaded.

That one gave Mamoru pause. It was very disconcerting to suddenly realize that, frankly, he had the impression his dream princess and Sailor Moon would more closely resemble Usagi than anyone else he knew.

However, saying "she looks like you" would be highly misleading, so he went for the basics. "She has long blonde hair. Blue eyes. Maybe your age or a little older. Gorgeous."

Usagi's brow furrowed in thought. Okay, so...blonde, blue-eyed. Well, that did narrow it down quite a bit in Japan. Wow, that really did sound like Minako-chan, come to think of it. Realization dawned and she bolted up in disbelief, golden hair flying around her.

Usagi climbed over a startled Mamoru and grabbed his shirt with both hands. "No! Get outta here! Really? I didn't even know you knew Minako-chan that well. Does she know?" Although if she did, Usagi was going to have to kill her for keeping such prime gossip to herself.

Mamoru was suddenly confused to find Usagi seated on his lap, gripping him by the shirt. "What? Who? Your friend? The blonde one? NO! Jeez, Odango, grow up."

Usagi let go of his shirt, disconcerted. "No? Well, but she's perfect! Just like you described! Hmm, let me see." She settled comfortably, going through her long list of friends for a match. Maybe Ayumi, but Ayumi's hair was more golden brown and, to be perfectly honest, she'd sure been hit with the ugly-stick...

"Eh-hem. Odango Atama. Have you suddenly grown so fond of me you can't stand to be separated from me?" Mamoru asked as he shifted her weight on his thighs.

"What are you talking about, Satan? You've been out in the sun too long," she said, casting a killing glance his way.

"Oh, really? Then why the hell are you cuddled up on my lap?" he asked, smug when he saw the shock of realization appear on her face.

"I am no- Ewww! Honestly, Satan, I'm only fourteen and you must be, like…ancient!"

"What?" he cried, insulted. "Hey, Odango, I'm only 17! And I'm not the one that dragged you on my lap. You climbed on it all by yourself!"

"Yeah, but I didn't mean it in any way, you dork. And anyway, you did say the girl you like is my age, right? Is that even legal?" she taunted, angry with herself because she had, after all, enjoyed sitting on his lap.

He was furious. Amazing how this girl made him go from hot to cold. It was maddening. "Shut up. It doesn't concern you. And how old is this mystery guy of yours, anyway?" he asked in his most insinuating voice.

The tone implied she was some rich, middle-aged, married man's mistress.

"Ooh! You. . . you dirty-minded JERK!" she felt tears sting her eyes at his opinion of her. "What kind of manners did your parents teach you? And I bet you just made that girl up, because no girl in her sane mind would ever have you!"

That was a double hitter, and she didn't even know it. The mention of his late parents, which he couldn't even honor by remembering, drove him right over the edge. He raged at both insults because they were essentially true, and something inside him snapped. But even as he spoke he said it, he knew he was going too far. "What do you mean, your mystery man is 'always there when you need him'? Need him for what? In just what way is he 'there for you,' Odango? What has he been teaching you?"

She didn't know why she did it. Perhaps because she was so disappointed after seeing the kindness he kept checked inside. Or maybe because she'd almost started liking him, thought they could be friends. Maybe because he was defiling her every dream, turning every cherished thought she had of Tuxedo Mask dirty. Perhaps it had simply gotten too much, and she could no longer deal with the humiliation of last night along with his terribly unjust insults.

"In a way you'll never be, Satan! And you want to know what he's taught me, you bastard, I'll show you what he's taught me!"

She hauled back and punched Mamoru square in the jaw.

First Truths

A Sailor Moon Story
by Lilac Summers

Part 3 of 15

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