Continuing Tales

First Truths

A Sailor Moon Story
by Lilac Summers

Part 5 of 15

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First Truths

Tuxedo Mask leapt over the balcony railing, floundered and fell against the outside wall. He didn't care. Like a blind man, he fumbled to the point of frustration as he tried to open the patio doors. Just before he'd decided to smash a fist through the glass and get it over with, the doors slid open with ease. He dashed through, throwing off hat and mask to collapse on the couch, head cradled in his hands.

Oh god, what had he done? You kissed her, you fool! his mind screamed at him repeatedly. It had felt so right... That's not the point! But if he could do it again...NO! Don't go there!

He slumped back, running weary fingers through tousled black hair. He couldn't change what had happened. He'd kissed her. No, she'd kissed him first, and that thought sent more fingers of overjoyed excitement running down his nerve endings. God, Sailor Moon had kissed him! Chiba Mamoru, cold upperclassman. And you should have left it at that, you idiot! But he couldn't help it. When he'd felt her lips on his, warm and soft, he had simply lost it. Shocked to the core the first few seconds, he had almost gone into a panic when she began to pull away. His whole body had protested at the thought of parting, and he'd given in. He'd chased her mouth as if his salvation depended on it, and had not let the kiss stay innocent. It had been a hot meeting of open mouths...

"Aaargh!" He jumped up from the couch and proceeded to pace the length of his living room, his gait unusually disjointed, filled with nervous energy. If he had simply let it go at that first kiss he would have no problems. Sure, so Sailor Moon would probably be a little embarrassed next time they met, and he'd always wonder what it would have been like to really kiss her. But god, the not knowing would have been easier to handle than the knowledge that he would never be able to kiss her again. After all, you can't miss what you've never had, right? He had highly compromised his mission to find the crystal, to find his princess.

And, of course, now came the guilt. As ridiculous as it was, he felt as though he were being unfaithful to his dream princess. But worse yet was the knowledge that, if in the same position, he would not hesitate to kiss Sailor Moon again.

Weak. You are so weak.

For long moments, Sailor Moon's mind was a rush of conflicting thoughts and emotions. It's ridiculous. You've gone insane, girl. No way is Chiba, Satan himself, Tuxedo Mask. But there it was, the proof that stained her glove, that incriminating drop of blood.

So what? He'd just been in a battle! Think about it, there could have been a hundred chances for blood to splatter his face. For all you know, that is your blood. The argument held logic, but something in her gut warned her not to dismiss her first instinct so lightly. She was scared to think that her Tuxedo Mask, who she thought could do no wrong, was actually the flawed and utterly infuriating Mamoru she knew not-so-well.

And the scariest part was, she wouldn't have been disappointed if he had been.

Maybe that's what she wanted. Maybe that's why her mind had jumped so easily, so happily, to that conclusion.

Sailor Moon jumped down from her perch on the roof, found a convenient alley, and dropped her transformation. It was getting late and she had to go home. Thinking about this would only drive her insane. I'm desperate. That's what it is. I am just sick of guessing who Tuxedo Mask is.

That had to be it. She was obviously under a lot of stress.

Seriously, she couldn't really believe that she had the hots for Chiba. Usagi scoffed quietly at herself. NO, of course not. So he could be nice, but he was generally a big pain. And-and so what if Tuxedo Mask WAS Chiba Mamoru? Mamoru was even MORE unlikely to feel anything for her than Tuxedo Mask was...

Usagi stopped in mid-step, breath sounding unnaturally sharp in her ears. That's right. Mamoru would never fall for me.

She was jostled rudely as a group of teenagers, newly released from school, pushed her out of their path. She resumed her walk more slowly, blinking back foolish tears that had sprung up behind her eyes. The's just the sun is so bright, that's all.

"And then-and then they KISSED! Right there, in front of the entire school. It was all steamy and dramatic, like those movies!"

Usagi almost collided with a light post as the teenagers' conversation finally registered. She turned flamingo pink and tried to hurry by, head down.

"Ooh, those two are so romantic. I KNEW there was something there. Y'know, the news is never says so, but it's so obvious..."

Usagi was running now, from the talk and from her embarrassment. What did Tuxedo Mask think of her now? What was going to happen next?

The next realization hit her like a brick wall. My god, what am I going to tell the girls?

That one sent her scurrying for home and the relative safety of her own room.

The next day was a Saturday. Usually, Usagi enjoyed Saturdays with a glee unparalleled. Today, though, found a haggard Usagi lagging pathetically around the mall. She would have preferred to remain at home were it not for the fact that she was hiding from the other Senshi, unprepared to give explanations for Friday's spectacle. Now all she could do was move listlessly from one air-conditioned store to another. Whatever restorative powers her day off had performed were lost under the influence of a sleepless night. That, and the one driving thought she could not get out of her head. You know how to find out if HE is Tuxedo Mask...

She slumped by yet another frightfully expensive clothing store. Not even the ice-cream booth caught her attention. The shoe store, the toy store, the comic store, all passed by without a glance from her. She was making her way to the indoor coffee shop, hoping the sight of sweets would perk her up where the ice-cream vendor had failed. She ignored a few more storefronts on the way and the bookstore might have suffered the same fate were it not for the display of daily newspapers stacked outside. One caught her eye.

Boy, did it ever.

Usagi snatched a copy, threw her money at a grumpy clerk, and brought the paper, trembling, into focus. There, on the front page, displayed for the world to see, was a full-length color photograph of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask kissing passionately in the middle of the schoolyard.

Usagi gave a little strangled noise of shock and disbelief and sunk into the nearest booth, not caring that it was already occupied. Frantically she read the print, gnashing her teeth when she found that the picture had been taken by some enterprising student with a camera, who'd been watching through the window. When I get my hands on him... She placed away that tidbit for later, scanning the article as it detailed the history of the Senshi, pondered over the mystery of the Tuxedo Mask, and speculated about his and Sailor Moon's relationship. Though the title of the article exclaimed that "Youma Attacks Local Junior High; Sailor Moon Saves the Day," it was clear that the piece was nothing more than glorified gossip.

"I should have known you'd be into that kind of gunk," came the acerbic voice behind the paper. "And while you're at it, please, take a seat."

Usagi jumped in her chair, crumpling the newspaper edges between sweaty palms, and hung her head in dismay. Of course! If she had ever doubted it before, she knew now: God had to be a guy. Slowly, slowly she brought down the concealing pages of the paper, peering over the edge at the face that had caused her to toss and turn the night away.

"Satan." It was a statement with no inflection, not betraying that her heart was pounding a drum cadence against her ribs. "If I had seen you sitting here, I wouldn't have sat down, too."

Mamoru set down his coffee cup gently as he surveyed the harried girl in front of him. "You know, sooner or later you're going to have to stop calling me that."

Usagi was busily searching his features, cataloguing his looks and comparing them to what she had seen of Tuxedo Mask's. What she noticed made her hands quake. She abruptly set down the paper and hid her hands beneath the table. Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod...I have to be mistaken.

Desperately she fell back on the barbed play that flowed so easily between them. "Yeah, I'll stop calling you Satan. Sooner or later. Hold your breath." To her chagrin, she found herself staring at his lips.

Mamoru wiped at his mouth with a napkin, wondering if he'd left traces of coffee around the edges after he saw her staring. Her eyes flickered up to meet his. He found that whatever he was going to say died on his tongue. To marshal his resources, he nodded his head at the newspaper between them.

"So, I take it that happened at your school?"

Usagi searched his words for any tone of surprise, embarrassment, anything that could betray that he had been involved with the fight. She found nothing more than the normal droll amusement. She nodded carefully, studying his eyes before she spoke. "Yeah," she swallowed hastily, praying for courage, "I-I heard it was a pretty steamy kiss. Tongue and all that." Good GOD! Did she actually SAY that? She wanted to melt into the floor and die.

Mamoru was unaware that Usagi was thinking about how comforting it would be to sink through the cracks in the linoleum. In fact, if the description of the kiss rang any bells, he didn't show it. One black eyebrow arched upward as he, in his usual irritating manner, laughed at her silently. "Oh, tongue and all that, huh?" he teased at her obvious discomfort. "How would you know?"

Usagi almost swallowed the tongue in question. "H-How? How-Well, I heard so!"

That laconic brow stayed up. "Really? Do you believe everything you hear, Odango Atama?"

Usagi caught herself right before she could jump up and announce, "It

was so! I should know!" She could only stammer and protest. "W-well, there's a picture, see?"

They both leaned in to inspect the picture, zooming in on the blurry tangle of Tuxedo's and Moon's mouths. Usagi squinted and was gratified to see that, indeed, it DID look like a pretty steamy kiss. Completely forgetting her true involvement in the scenario, she pointed at the picture triumphantly. "See! It's so OBVIOUS!"

She looked up, he looked up, and there they were. Scant inches away from each other. Usagi stared at his lips again. No cuts.

Mamoru was also perusing Odango's lips. He wanted them. JEEZ! Mamoru, what is WRONG with you! He jumped back in his seat.

"I was joking, Odango. You don't have to convince me, you know."

Usagi blinked, dazed. Then she wanted to smack herself repeatedly against the table. Of course you don't have to convince him, doofus! HE should know if there was tongue or not! YOU ARE TRYING TO FIND OUT! God, she wanted to shake him. She wanted to take him by the throat and shake him, screaming all the while, "Just tell me if you're Tuxedo Mask, dammit! TELL MEEEE!"

Mamoru surveyed the picture once more. He hadn't been surprised when Odango had showed it to him, of course. Why, he had finished reading his very own copy just minutes before. He'd almost scalded himself with his first cup of coffee, hands unsteady as he read the article, system rushing from that first bout of caffeine that was supposed to get his system started after his sleepless night. He'd read the article, the many eyewitness accounts, then re-read it, and read it again. And, each time, he'd relived that blissful experience and berated himself all the same.

Just seconds ago, he had had the distinct feeling that he could reenact the scene with the girl sitting in front of him and that suddenly made Mamoru very worried about his immortal soul. Good grief, THREE girls? You can't possibly have the hots for THREE girls, and one of them Odango, no less! Since when are you so fickle? Four months ago you couldn't find a single girl to catch your eye, and now you want a princess, a superhero, and student!

Mamoru looked at his coffee cup dubiously; perhaps his interest in Odango was due to an overdose of caffeine. He'd never been much of a coffee drinker until the role of Tuxedo Mask began to take up most of his nights.

Usagi had taken advantage of the few seconds of silence to regain her composure. Mamoru emerged from his silent chastisement to find her studying him somberly. "Why do you look so serious, Odango?"

She remained still for a moment yet, then slowly reached across the table and touched her fingertip to his lower lip. She inspected the seam of his lips, was gratified when his lips parted on a silent breath of air, and dipped her finger inside to check for a cut. She found it.

"Jesus!" Mamoru gasped out, jerking away from her touch as if she'd burned him. Usagi's hand fell to the table. His eyes had darkened into near-black. She thought she could drown in them if she let herself.

Mamoru was having difficulty breathing. He'd been mesmerized. First curious at her objective, second shocked at her touch, then mesmerized by her gentle caress. The only thing that had saved his sanity was the painful prodding of the sore abrasion on the inside of his bottom lip. Now he could only rely on disbelief to get him through the array of uncomfortable feelings he was undergoing.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Usagi was asking herself the same question. What had she been trying to prove? So WHAT if he had a cut on his lips? She KNEW he had one! The one whom she had to find a matching one on was Tuxedo Mask. What was wrong with her! It's him, she thought somewhat desperately, it's his fault I'm acting like an idiot. How the heck am I supposed to figure this out? But she already had an answer to that, an answer she refused to listen to.

"I-I just wanted to see if you were still hurt," she supplied lamely.

"Well, damn it! Don't you think you could have just asked me?" he demanded, feeling the heat barely start to dissipate from the general area of his lips. "God, first it's talking about French kissing, then it's sticking your fingers into guys' mouths!" Not that you protested...But then again, what guy would? He was slightly alarmed at his own thought. The picture of Odango treating other guys so... sensually sent cold needles of anger down his spine. "I said it yesterday and I'll say it again, what has that boy you like been teaching you? You're too young to go around doing stuff like that!" Hypocrite.

Usagi flushed angrily. "Nothing, you big dope! He taught me noth-" Lips, soft and hard all at once, pressed urgently against her own. The gasps of her fellow classmates filling the air behind her and her own heartbeat resounding painfully within her. The way he tasted of semisweet chocolate...If that wasn't a learning experience, she didn't know what was. Her protests died a sudden death and she could only look at Mamoru helplessly, shrugging her shoulders.

Mamoru's eyes widened at the telling gesture and he stopped blotting his lower lip with his napkin. It fell, unnoticed, to the table. If his eyes had darkened before, now they turned opaque. He looked at her confused, downcast face and gentled his voice. "So, that's the way it is, huh? Is that what this is about? You wanted to stop by and tell me all about your new boyfriend?"

She forced herself to return his gaze, trying to communicate to him her questions, her demands. Don't you know? Is it you? But, how could two people who looked so alike act so differently? And-and did they really act differently? Could it be simply that there were facets to one she had only seen in the other? Because sometimes there was this tender edge to Mamoru's voice... You know how to find out...

But if it wasn't him? God, what a humiliation that would be!

"Hmm. Well, I suggest you be careful, Odango Atama. No matter what anyone tells you, boys really are after only one thing. Although I must say I'm surprised that you caught yourself a guy all by yourself. Maybe I should be warning the guy off instead, and not you." Mamoru took another gulp of hot coffee, telling himself fervently that he didn't care about Odango's love life. Really, why should he care?

Usagi's head snapped up. There it was again, the customary sharp humor, the sarcastic grin and the sly amusement lurking in his eyes. At this moment, Mamoru had less of chance of being Tuxedo Mask than Umino did.

But if she wanted to know for sure, one way to settle it once and for all...

Well, you've known all along. All you have to do is kiss the guy.

First Truths

A Sailor Moon Story
by Lilac Summers

Part 5 of 15

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