Continuing Tales

First Truths

A Sailor Moon Story
by Lilac Summers

Part 9 of 15

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
First Truths

For the second time in as many days, it was a confused and tired Mamoru who entered the apartment. This time, however, he entered through the front door, slipping out of his shoes as an afterthought. He went through the mechanical motions of boiling water for tea, then washed the dishes he had left soaking in the sink that morning. After the task was done, he turned-a little desperately-around in circles in the middle of the living area. There had to be something that needed to be done, anything to keep his mind off what had transpired today. But the apartment was, as always, immaculate. Even the tea was ready.

Mamoru took the steaming cup and slumped down on his couch, flipping the television on as he passed. He carefully kept his thoughts on the mundane, silly conversation between some random anime characters. When the show ended, he concentrated on the next. And the next. For two hours he lulled his mind into a hazy, pleasurable state of distraction. See? It's not so hard not to think about her. Except, of course, for the fact that he was thinking about not thinking about her.

He set his tea cup down with more force than was necessary. The long-cooled liquid sloshed onto the coffee table. He drove his hands into his hair with a defeated sigh. This was pathetic. To think that he was agonizing over Odango Atama, of all people. Not simply agonizing...obsessing! Over a girl he'd met only a few months ago, no less! And what an auspicious meeting it had been: getting bonked on the head with a failed test. Yet, she'd become a constant fixture in his life, little by little. It had suddenly seemed as if everywhere he turned, she was there. Through fate, or chance, or just seemed to happen.

And he thought he'd had her judged. He'd thought he knew everything there was to know about Tsukino Usagi. Flighty, unstoppable, clumsy, cheerful, and yes, attractive...but nothing truly spectacular on the surface. It wasn't until he'd seen her smile at someone-it skipped his mind, now, who had been the lucky person-that he'd understood where her true power lay. So he'd teased her and, once in a lucky while, even conjured a smile out of her between their raging fights. But still, he had never entertained the idea of a relationship with her because, deep down, he knew he was already in love with his princess.

So it had been very disturbing and somewhat frightening when he had started to fall for Sailor Moon. He loved her courage, her strength, and her loyalty to her friends. And then he couldn't seem to stop himself from bumping into Odango, and he'd been even more disturbed, and even panicked, at the idea that she, too, seemed to have some hold over him. He could not resist her laughter, her joy, her love for life. And, throughout all this, he knew-knew-that somewhere out there, his dream princess was waiting for him. He could not betray her.

The thought of putting her aside, the one whod haunted and graced his dreams for so long, was simply inconceivable to him...or had been until all these conflicting feelings for Sailor Moon and Odango had emerged. At least, thankfully, that now made sense. Odango and Moon were the same person! As crazy and unlikely as it seemed, there was no doubt now. But his princess...

Haven't you been unfaithful to her already? You have feelings for Usagi.

NO! No, no, no...he couldn't. He was already in love. This…this caring for Odango was-had to be-some temporary thing. They were thrown together by circumstance constantly, of course he would have feelings for her, it was only natural and meant absolutely nothing.

I cannot be in love with Odango.

"Usagi-chan, that nice young man called again. He said it was important," Usagi heard her mother call from downstairs.

Usagi sighed and burrowed underneath her pillow. It was Sunday, a day after that disaster at the mall. Since then, Mamoru had called five times. Twice on Saturday, Usagi had let the machine pick up. As her parents weren't home, it hadn't seemed to matter. But today, he'd been trying to contact her since the ungodly hour of 10 am. Her mother had answered the phone and Usagi had barely been coherent as she trudged downstairs to talk to "a young man on the line," as her mother had said. Well, she'd muttered a sleepy "moshi moshi", and heard him say "Hello, Odango," before she realized who it was. Needless to say, she'd hung up the phone in a hurry and then decided to hide up in her room the rest of the day.

The second time he called, Usagi told her mother to tell him she was doing homework. Actually, she'd told her mother she was doing homework, and her mother hadn't wanted anything to interfere with that.

Ah, her poor mother was gullible soul.

But this time she was out of excuses. She only knew that she could not talk to him. Not yet. Her feelings were too raw and delicate to handle him, yet.

"Tell him I've got the flu! Tell him it's veeeery contagious. Ooh! Tell him he could die if he comes within a fifty meter radius. Yes, that's perfect! Tell him that!" Usagi shut the door to her room again as her mother relayed her message, then resumed feeling sorry for herself, lying down next to a dozing Luna. Her life sucked. However, if she could just keep Mamoru away for a little longer, she might be able to straighten out the mess her life had become-

"So, you're at death's door, I hear. Must be tough, what with all the homework you've been doing and everything."

"You don't know the half of it, Sat-ACK! SATAN!" Usagi bolted upright, watching in disbelief as Tuxedo Mask swung long legs through her window.

A wry smile curved his lips. "I'm here to take your soul."

"You're here to get me grounded!" she shrieked, bounding to her bedroom door to lock it.

"Usag-hmpph!" Usagi threw a pillow at a wakening Luna, silencing her abruptly. Casting an alarmed look towards Tuxedo Mask, she snatched Luna up and threw her out the door. Only when she heard a pained "yeoch!" did she remember she had just finished closing and locking it. She snatched the dazed Luna and threw her out the window, instead.

Tuxedo Mask, the perverse man, simply raised an eyebrow in the face of her panic and watched the startled black cat fly out the window. "You do live on the second floor, you know."

"Cats land on their feet."

"I should report you to the humane society."

Usagi wrung her hands and prayed that Luna would be dazed enough to not try climbing back into her room any time soon. "She's a strong kitty. In fact she, er, likes to be thrown out of windows. It's a little game we have. A thrill-seeker...that's my Luna," Usagi finished lamely.

Silence reigned as she stared at him, he at her.

" it just me, or did your cat start to talk when she woke up?" asked Tuxedo Mask.

Usagi's eyes got impossibly wide. "Talk? HA HA HA HA HA HA! No."

"Oh. My mistake," murmured Tuxedo Mask.

Once again, silence.

"Okay, Satan. I give up. Not that I won't enjoy seeing my father come after you with a shotgun, but just what in the world were you thinking, sneaking into my room in broad daylight?"

She was sure his eyes were glittering behind the mask as he seized the opening. "I see. So it would have been okay if I sneaked into your room at night?"

She sputtered angrily, blushing the color of her school uniform bow, and took the opportunity to throw a stuffed rabbit at him. "Of course not! You-You know what I mean!"

Tuxedo Mask dodged the rabbit and it bounced harmlessly off the wall.

"You're pretty energetic for a girl who's suffering from a fatal flu," he sneered.

"I'm suddenly feeling remarkably better. Maybe it's because the virus decided you were a much better catch and jumped on you, instead. You might be on the verge of collapse and not even know it."

"Uh-huh. That's very plausible, all common rules of biology notwithstanding."

"Just shut up! You're supposed to be in your own home! How the heck did you get here so quickly?" she demanded, angry that he had forced this confrontation with her.

He slipped a slim, sleek black cellular phone from his tuxedo jacket and waved it in her face. "Haven't you ever heard of a cellular phone before?" he taunted, throwing her prior words about her beeper at her face.

"You," she announced, "are the most annoying guy I've ever known. I have no idea why I ever thought Tuxedo Mask was so great."

He stilled just as she bit down on her unruly tongue, just a moment too late. Slowly, he reached up and removed the omnipresent mask. Just like that...Chiba Mamoru. It was staggering, finally casting aside all disguises like that. It held an odd sense of finality.

"I'm sorry if I disappointed you, Usagi," he said quietly. So shocked was she at his serious, almost sad, demeanor, she missed his use of her name. "We need to talk," he sighed, flinging away both hat and mask so that they landed softly on her bed.

Usagi's shoulders slumped as the fight drained out of her. "Yeah, I guess we do." But she didn't want to talk. This was much safer, insulting each other like this. At least it was something she knew, something she was comfortable with. When she was teasing him, or fighting with him, she didn't have to think about those heavy, deep feelings that he inspired in her. It seemed that, if she could only keep it on that same level, she wouldn't get hurt. But it's too late now...

"First of all, I want to apologize for my behavior in the mall," he began. "It was wrong of me, and I shouldn't have done it."

It hurt terribly to hear those words. She felt her heart clench slowly and painfully as it struggled to beat against the tightness in her chest. He's apologizing for the most meaningful moment in my life. In her mind, she began to scream a thousand insults at him. Idiot! Moron! Selfish jerk! Don't you know what you've done to me?

"It's okay. Er...I'm sorry for my behavior at the school, then," she choked out.

He grimaced, but nodded his acceptance at her. "I guess neither one of us is to blame. We were just caught up in the moment." God, he truly wanted to believe that. But he was so afraid that he was lying to himself.

"Yeah, the moment..." she echoed dully.

"Truth is, I wanted to talk to you about our missions," he continued, blithely unaware that all life seemed to have melted out of Usagi's eyes. "Now that we know who each other is, we might as well be up-front about this. I want something you have."

But you don't want me... Usagi shook her head sharply and tried to concentrate on what he was saying. There would be plenty of time later for her heart to finish breaking. "What?"

"You have information I need. You have resources I don't have. I want to know everything you know about the Princess."

"The Princess?" Usagi asked, startled. "Why would you want to know about the Princess?"

He turned from her, unwilling or unable to meet her gaze. "She...she is special to me. She holds the key to my past and-and my future."

"Special to you?" Usagi felt like a parrot, but she could not seem to stop repeating what he said. Every syllable he uttered was a revelation. "How could she be special to you? Do you know her?"

He shook his head, idly examining the objects of her bedside table as he tried to find a way to explain his feelings to her. In the back of his mind, he marveled at the idea that he was actually here, inside Odango's room. It suited her character perfectly, decorated in soft pastels and fabrics. A menagerie of stuffed animals littered her bed. Her school books lay unopened on her desk. He couldn't help but smile at the sight. I knew she couldn't possibly be doing homework. He picked up a pretty vial of blue glass and unstopped it, bringing it up to his nose for a careful whiff. Usagi's trademark scent wafted sweetly from the little vial. He put the bottle down abruptly, his hands shaking.

"I...I can't really say that I know her, Odango. I know of her. I've known of her for a long, long time. Ever since I lost my parents, I-"

"Wait," Usagi intervened, surprised, "you lost your parents? When?"

He looked over at her, unsure why she wanted to know. "A long time ago. I was only a kid." He stopped, dismayed at the wave of compassion that had suddenly flooded Odango's blue eyes. "It was a long time ago," he said gruffly. "I got over it."

But Usagi knew he hadn't gotten over it. He probably never would. She ached to comfort him, but guessed he would not want comfort from her. Maybe from his princess, but not from her. And then she realized what he meant.

"Oh! So that's how she's special to you," she whispered, as the ground seemed to spin away from her. She raised haunted eyes to him. "You love her."

He nodded mutely and felt like a liar. I do love her. With all his heart. So why did it feel as if he was off track, as if he was missing a vital piece of a puzzle?

Usagi sunk down her bed, trying not to look shell-shocked as she blinked away renegade tears. "Well, I wish I could help you," though a little part of her screamed the opposite, "but we are as clueless about the Princess as you are. All I know is that we have to find her and protect her." And then she couldn't help but add, because she was angry and ragingly jealous of this Princess he had never even met yet had his heart, anyway: "but if I did know something, I wouldn't tell you. We have to protect her from everything, and that might mean you."

Mamoru's eyes darkened in anger and he stalked over to her, stopping to glare down at her. "That's a very mean thing to say, Odango. Even for you. You know I would never hurt her."

"How can I know that?" she flung back. "I don't even know you! You've only been this high school guy who teases me about my grades."

"I've saved your hide more times than I can count," he bit out fiercely, clenching his fists. "If it weren't for me, you would have been youma feed by now."

"Oh, good for you! Don't you just deserve a cookie! You know what I think? I think you saved me all those times just because you wanted me to lead you to your precious princess. I mean, how hard was it for you, after all? So you throw a rose, say a little haiku, and then disappear into the night. You never stuck around to see if we needed you!" she accused, uncaring that she had finally let her tears escape.

"I didn't know I was part of a team. You should be grateful I followed your damn link every time you called, like some idiot trained dog," he raged.

Her eyes became awash in tears and confusion, uncertain of where she had lost the line of the argument. "What are you talking about?"

"Classic. Now you play the innocent. The link, Odango. The one that leads me to you? I assume you are responsible for it."

Usagi scrubbed impatient hands over her wet cheeks. "That's it. Now you've really cracked, Satan. You are making absolutely no sense. WHAT link?"

Mamoru seethed quietly for ten seconds, trying to get his emotions under control. "Why do we always end up fighting, Odango?"

Usagi hung her head and let a waterfall of blonde hair hide her face. "I don't know." Maybe because it was the only weapon she had against this phantom Princess.

"I don't want to fight with you, Usagi."

She raised her head slowly, forcing a smile at his dejected tone. "You must really want a truce, if you even called me Usagi."

He smiled endearingly, like a little boy caught doing something naughty. Usagi closed her eyes briefly, wanting to keep the picture of the cold, mean upperclassman in her mind. But that picture was fast disappearing.

"So, about this're saying you don't call me to you?" he began again. Usagi shook her head, eyes wide in her pale face.

"Then why the heck am I linked to you?"

"Er, what exactly is this link like?" Usagi broached delicately. In her mind's eye, she was imagining a leash around Mamoru's neck, and she was the one holding the lead. Usagi grinned diabolically at the picture.

"It's right here," he said, pounding his chest softly with a fist. "A thread. I can sort of feel where you are when you're Sailor Moon, maybe catch glimpses of what you're feeling now and then. You really don't feel anything?"

"No," Usagi said, indignant at the idea that he had this insight that she was denied. "That's totally unfair! How come you can sense all this and I can't?" She stomped over to him and smacked him smartly on the chest. "I want you to stop it right now."

That old teasing light was back in Mamoru's eyes. "I can't feel it right now, Odango. Why, thinking naughty thoughts?"

She glared at him from beneath heavy lashes. "What I'm thinking right now involves you, hell, and your current place of residence. Figure that one out, psychic boy."

"Well, if you want to test it, just turn into Sailor Moon and see," he challenged.

"All right!" Usagi moved towards her dresser, where she'd stashed her locket, only to pause in uncertainty. "Actually, I'd rather not."

"Why not? It's not like I don't know who you are, Odango."

Because I've already lost so much to you today. This last act would be one of total trust. As vague as Mamoru made it sound, she did not want him to have the chance to sense her feelings. Today, her true feelings had to be guarded against further harm from him.

"I might be able to explain to my mother why Tuxedo Mask is in my room if, horror of horrors, she finds out you're here one way or another. It would be an entirely different thing if both Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon are in this room, and I'm nowhere to be seen," she reasoned.

Mamoru conceded the point, though he felt she was not telling him the entire truth. "Fine. Then perhaps you could ask one of the other Senshi if they've ever heard of any such link, maybe one of them shares it with you, too, and you don't even know it." For some reason, that probability made the situation seem less volatile.

"Good idea, I'll ask Am-" Usagi bit back the name. "I'll ask Sailor Mercury." Usagi looked at Mamoru sheepishly."I'm sorry, but I won't tell you who they are until I find out they're okay with it."

Mamoru nodded, a little saddened at another display of what he thought was her lack of trust in him. But why do you want her to trust you so much? You should be trying to keep her at arm's length. He sighed, finally tired with his over-active conscience. He knew what he was supposed to be doing, but being with her like this, relaxed and friendly, felt undeniably right. You're treading a dangerous path...

"You do what you think is best," he said lightly, moving away from his place near the dresser, intent on leaving through the window. Usagi stopped him with a gentle touch on his arm as he passed her.

"I'm sorry for blowing up on you earlier. I've...had a lot on my mind. If-When we find the Princess, I'll make sure you know," she said softly.

Mamoru bowed slightly at the waist in gratitude, unsure of what more to say. He had one foot out the window when Usagi stopped him again.

"Wait!" she called hurriedly, stumbling towards him as she clutched something tightly in her hand. She reached his side and looked up at him, her gaze warm yet unreadable. "Here."

She took his hand and placed a cool, hard object in his palm, closing his fingers over it. His hand clenched convulsively on the object, somehow already knowing what he would find when he loosened his hold. A thin gold chain slithered through his fingers, the star-shaped pendant resting in his palm. It opened of its own volition and the light melody commenced.

"This...this is the locket I gave you once, when you were Sailor Moon. You don't have to give it back, Odango."

She smiled kindly, touching the shimmering surface of the locket for one last time. "You told me that it had been a gift to you. You couldn't remember from whom, though. I think...I think she gave it to you once, long ago," she gulped, blinking to erase the moisture from her eyes. "You should keep it so that you can give it to her when you finally meet her again."

He clenched the trinket in his hand and the melody stopped abruptly.

"Thank you," he managed around the tightening in his throat. He slid the rest of the body through the window, winding the now-silent locket around his wrist, and feeling as though he was making the biggest mistake of his life.

Usagi watched him disappear from her window, then watched his silhouette make the leap effortlessly onto their neighbor's roof. Only when she was certain that he was far, far away, did she allow herself to grieve.

First Truths

A Sailor Moon Story
by Lilac Summers

Part 9 of 15

<< Previous     Home     Next >>