Hello everyone! I just want to mention, right here and now, that school really sucks. It just plain bites. Higher education my a$$!!!
On a lighter note, here is part two of "First Truths"! Hope you guys enjoy it, as I had to squeeze in writing it between studying. I'm juggling "Vacation" and "Final Truths," so if you were expecting "Vacation" it will be out next week.
Hmm, let's see...what did I forget? OH, yes! Sidnei, dear...TAMAHOME IS MINE!! And so is Mamo-chan, so don't get any ideas. Jo-chan is also trying to steal my boys, but she is sorely mistaken! Thank goodness I don't have to fight off Shi-chan, too.
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi. ‘Ooh! Look at me! Look at me! Wheeee!’ Did you get that? Just making sure you're paying attention...OOOH!! Wait, there's more! This story does deviate a bit from the regular storyline, where Sailor Venus doesn't join up until right before Mamoru and Usagi figure everything out. Here, I've placed Venus in the group a few weeks before any revelations. Hope that clears a bit up!
- - -
Sailor Mars was going through a play by play of the night's fight and, more specifically, Sailor Moon's various mistakes.
"First off, where were you when they handed out balance?! I swear, it's a wonder you have survived these fourteen years! And, really, what were you thinking when you stopped in the middle of the field?! You were a clear target! I'm convinced, truly convinced, that all that sugar you eat during the day is going straight to your head and making you more of a fluff-brain than you already are!"
Sailor Moon tuned Mars out. There was no real heat in her voice, anyway. And though she would enjoy insulting her back on most occasions, all she wanted now was to crawl back into bed and sleep. So she leaned up against the tall Sailor Jupiter and proceeded to nap on her feet, serving the dual purpose of catching up on her sleep and driving Mars further up the wall. Mars, however, was undaunted, and continued to expound on Moon's many faults, even after Sailor Moon started to snore softly in her face.
"Give it up, Mars. She isn't listening to you," laughed Jupiter, reaching out a long arm to steady her napping friend.
"Well, she should. I don't know how many times..." continued Sailor Mars, nonetheless lowering her voice as it finally registered that Sailor Moon had actually fallen asleep.
"Ah, give her a break. Her day didn't go that great. I heard Ms. Harun--" Sailor Mercury flailed desperately to cut off Venus' revealing speech, clamping her hand tightly over the other girl's mouth. Wide eyed, Venus turned to stare at her usually reserved friend, only to catch sight of what had set Mercury off. A tall, elegant figure strode purposely towards their group, cape fluttering behind him. Tuxedo Mask.
The four stood in various states of disbelief, watching the man who'd always disappeared from them finally step forward, and quite forgetting their dozing leader leaning on Jupiter's shoulder. It was the first time that Tuxedo Mask had ever approached them after a battle; normally he would be gone as soon as the battle ended. As it was, the only Senshi who had had extended contact with him was Sailor Moon, and only because, more often than not, he had to whisk her away from danger.
He made his way to them, his obvious destination the blonde Odango-headed leader in their center. Sailor Jupiter was in a quandary, staring at this imposing man standing before her, and wondering how in the world she had forgotten that Sailor Moon had fallen asleep. And there simply was *no* subtle way to wake her. She tried to play it off, then, as if having Sailor moon fall asleep on her feet and use her, Sailor Jupiter, as a pillow was a totally regular occurrence. She straightened her head and found, amazingly, that for the first time in her life she was intimidated by a man. His eyes, behind the white domino mask, were blazing with emotions and a passion that would have brought a lesser woman to her knees. She could only gulp when she realized those incredible eyes weren't directed at her, but her sleeping friend. Jupiter didn't know whether to pity Sailor Moon or envy her.
Sailor Mars was the first to find her voice. "What are you doing here?" she demanded, a bit unnerved at the intensity of his gaze.
Tuxedo Mask turned slightly at the blatant hostility in her voice, but did not take his eyes off Sailor Moon. "I am here only to speak to Sailor Moon," he said calmly.
Sailor Mars took a defensive step forward. "Look, buddy, we have no clue who you are. You haven't been very forthcoming about your intentions, either, so how do we know if you are an enemy or not? I'm not letting you one step near her if you don't tell us what you want straightup."
"My intention is not to hurt Sailor Moon, or any of you. I would think that my actions in that matter would speak for themselves. I only wish to have a few words with her." Tuxedo Mask clenched his fists under the cover of his cape, the reality of being so close to Sailor Moon beginning to pull slowly on his bond with her. He felt as if a large invisible hand were inexorably pushing him closer and closer to the dozing blonde, and his frustration started to build towards this Warrior who barred his way.
"That's not gonna cut it! That's not enough! If you really don't wish us any harm, if you just want--"
"It's okay, Sailor Mars. Let him talk." Sailor Moon's quiet words cut through Mars' tirade abruptly. The girls, not realizing that Moon had awoken, and more than a little surprised that it hadn't taken an act of God himself to do so, turned to stare at their leader.
Sailor Moon straightened slowly from her comfortable position against Jupiter, glancing swiftly towards her friend and smiling her thanks. However, most of her attention was focused on the man before her, this mysterious man who drew her in some inexplicable way. Just standing here, so close, made her heart pump erratically, not unlike her frequent squabbles with Mamor . . . But no, she wouldn't think of that.
Mars looked at Sailor Moon uncertainly, yet realized how futile it would be to keep the two, Tuxedo and Moon, apart. Already she could feel the energy surrounding the couple leaping to palpable amounts. It shimmered over them like a wave of moonlight, making Mars feel as though she intruded upon their own private universe. ‘Uh-oh, this is not good...’
Sailor Moon stepped through the protective surrounding of her friends and towards Tuxedo Mask. The closer she walked, the more insistent the pull became. Finally, without the distracting presence of danger that surrounded them whenever he saved her, she could focus on the intense amount of sheer electricity that she felt every time she got close to him.
Two more steps brought her to stand directly before him so she had to crane her neck to meet his eyes. Though she could not actually see through the opaque shield of the mask, she felt his gaze sear into her with an intensity that frightened her. Some detached part of her realized that her Senshi had grouped behind her, presenting a solid front ofsupport.
Tuxedo Mask's eyes flickered over her shoulder to look at the protective line of Senshi behind Sailor Moon. He appreciated their show of loyalty to their leader. Nonetheless, he could only think that the things he had to say to Sailor Moon would not go over well with them. It was one thing to have Mars, no doubt a close friend, berate Moon, and another entirely to have a perfect stranger do the same.
"I'd like to talk to her alone." It was a command more than a request.
"Yeah, well, I'd like to know who the hell you are. I guess we'll both have to be happy with what we can get," sneered Mars.
The other, less vocal Scouts seemed a bit unnerved by Mars' hostility, but did not intervene. Tuxedo Mask did not doubt for one second that they agreed with her, even if they did not say it so rudely. He debated briefly whether he should appreciate her show of bravado or just be angry as hell. He reasoned that he would have probably said the same thing in their situation, but Sailor Moon's nearness was doing strange things to his brain, scrambling it so all he could think of was being alone with her. For the first time in his life, Tuxedo Mask threw caution to the wind and gave into the driving emotions that swirled through him likewildfire.
"You settle, then, and I'll take," he growled. Swiftly he pulled a shocked Sailor Moon into his arms and leapt nimbly into the sky.
Jupiter screamed in outrage and made to follow. She felt oddly betrayed, expecting a more gentile reaction from the masked man. Mercury and Venus were fast on her heels, following the swift form of Tuxedo Mask. However, just as she prepared to jump after them, Mars grabbed her arm. She and the others stumbled to a halt. "Mars . . .?"
The priestess' eyes flared midnight-purple in the light of a street lamp. "Leave him. He won't hurt her . . . He really does just want to talk, I think."
Mercury frowned in confusion. "Wait. You were practically down his throat back there. I can't believe you want to just let him leave with Usagi. We don't know who he is!"
"She's right! I don't know . . . I didn't expect him to just jump off with her! He's unpredictable. Who knows what he's up to? We can't let him just get away with her like this," snapped Jupiter.
The three Senshi turned to their newest ally, Sailor Venus. She had just joined them a few weeks back, but had the most fighting experience of them all; thus, her opinion was highly valued.
Venus chewed her lower lip in frustration. Her mind was fighting a fierce battle with her heart. As a fighter, she knew that the safest, most logical response was to chase after the man, force him to relinquish Usagi, and then force the answers they sought out of him. But her heart, that part of her that contained the very essence of the Goddess of Love, was thrumming angrily in her veins. She'd never felt it before, but she knew what that resonance was: two souls locked as one. ‘You felt it. . . . you tasted its power. What you do here is inconsequential. The tie cannot be broken.’ Yes, when Moon and Mask had stared into each other's eyes, Venus had felt their power like a physical force slamming into her psyche. What it all came down to, she thought to herself, was that nothing she or any of the other Senshi did would make one whit of difference against the immensity of the couple's link.
She met Mars' dark eyes and shared a look of understanding. Mars had sensed it, too. In the end, there was no decision to make.
"Let them go. We stay."
Well, thought Sailor Moon, this was new. For once, not only was Tuxedo *not* running away from her, he was actually taking her with him! It really was a new experience, being held in his arms with no slobbering youma chasing them, or blasting them, or clawing them, or . . . oh, there were just so many possibilities .It was quite, quite nice.
She turned her head from where it rested on the strong curve of his shoulder, trying to get a good look at the masked man who'd played the starring role in many of her recent dreams. He was so much the vision of any young girl's romantic dreams that it was almost laughable. She wanted to tug on his cheeks just to see if he was *real*. Because real guys didn't look that good. Or, if they did, they weren't heroic and dashing and sweet. Point: take Mamoru, for instance. Even she could tell he was gorgeous. Just because she hated the guy didn't mean she was blind, for god's sake. But he was a royal pain in the a$$ half the time, and the rest of the time he was worse!
What would Mamoru say, she wondered, if he could see her now? What would he think if he knew that klutzy Usagi was in the arms of the most dashing, desirable man ever made? And she wasn't just plain Usagi tonight, but Sailor Moon! Fighter for Love and Justice! She would have paid good money to have Mamoru see her now, flying off into the moonlight with none other than Tuxedo Mask, little shivers of electricity dancing up and down her spine.
Or--she realized, sobering instantly--what would Tuxedo Mask say if he knew who she really was? How disappointed would he be were he to know that Sailor Moon was nothing more than a dumb teenage girl, a gawky blonde who failed her classes and couldn't walk five steps without falling? What would he think if he knew that every time she saw a demon, all she truly wanted to do was turn around and run the other way?
Usagi looked down abruptly, fearing that her hero might look down at any moment and discern the truth from her gaze. Being in his arms didn't seem so exciting anymore, not when tears threatened her eyes and insecurity was beating away at all those little shocks of awareness. Oh god, she couldn't believe she was actually going to cry! Here she was, living out one of her favorite dreams, and she was going to start bawling like a baby.
Usagi buried her hot face against his neck and clutched his jacket tighter, praying they wouldn't get where they were headed until after her tears had dried.
Blonde hair was flying all around him, slithering over his neck, his face, his arms...just everywhere. And he doubted he'd ever felt anything quite like it. He was flying through a web of golden silk, and it wrapped around him like it didn't want to let him go.
Tuxedo Mask shook his head, mildly amused at himself. He was ready to scold the heck out of the girl he held in his arms, and he waxing poetic about her hair! He glanced down briefly at her, looking at the top of her bowed head, and a picture of Usagi came into his head. He frowned and almost faltered. Now, what the heck was he doing thinking about *her*, or all people?! Other than the obvious, that Usagi and Sailor Moon shared the same hairstyle, the two were as alike as night and day!
Tuxedo Mask gathered Sailor Moon closer and leapt over the wide chasm between two rooftops, relishing the feel of her pressed up against his side entirely too much. Focus, focus...he had to focus! And he also had to be realistic, he told himself. This was a superhero he was holding. This young woman held more power in her pinky finger than he would ever be able to fathom. He, Chiba Mamoru, was an orphan with no background, no family, and nothing to offer this world other than the somewhat absurd ability of throwing roses and dressing in a tuxedo.
It was ludicrous, actually, how much he'd been romanticized in the view of Tokyo's population. Rumors abounded about the mystery man who aided the Senshi on occasion. He'd become the kind of stereotypical prince-in-shining-armor that fueled the imagination of teenage girls. Idly he wondered if maybe Usagi had ever though about Tuxedo Mask and sighed dreamily. And how, he smiled sourly, disillusioned would all those girls be if they only knew the man behind the mask.
He stole another look at Sailor Moon just as she looked away. Had she been studying him? Discerning what lies hid beneath the tuxedo? And what lies, he pondered briefly, hid behind the glittering magic that hid the heroine's identity? Who was she underneath the illusionary field that masked her as completely as his white domino masked him? How was it that she could make him feel as though his entire existence drew meaning only from her? His body made only for her? He suddenly felt the driving urge to *know*: a feeling that if he could only figure out who Sailor Moon truly was, he would find a peace, a happiness, unparalleled.
He felt a dampness against his neck. Startled, he realized Sailor Moon had buried her face against his neck and was quietly weeping. He almost went frantic, unsure how to handle the situation, how to handle the jumble of feelings and impressions that she was inadvertently feeding him through their link.
Ultimately, he did the only thing he could do. He kept going, running away for the both of them, Sailor Moon sobbing softly in his embrace.
They landed on the rooftop of a warehouse overlooking the docks. Although the moon gilded the waters of the bay silver, the spot itself was not really conducive to romance. Derelict warehouses and broken-down boats graced the pier, smutty shadows slinking into the corners the moon refused to touch.
Tuxedo Mask set Sailor Moon down gently and they stood, bodies slightly grazing, for an interminable moment. Either neither was willing to break the intimate contact or they were unaware that they stood there, mute and staring at each other, for many silent seconds. With agonizing slowness he lifted one hand to her face. Her cheeks were stained with the course of salty tears and he wanted, so very much, to ask her what was wrong. He wanted to soothe her, comfort her, protect her, love her...No NO NO! What was he thinking!? His hand dropped back to his side.
Sailor Moon stood, breathless, as Tuxedo Mask moved to touch her face. ‘What's gonna happen now?! Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod...’ What was that expression on his face? Why couldn't she stop staring at the sensual curve of his lips? Sailor Moon felt all the butterflies in her stomach dance wildly in anticipation, only to come to a screeching halt in disappointment as he withdrew his hand, never once touching her face.
It wasn't until a wayward breeze swept over them and tossed Sailor Moon's hair between them that Tuxedo Mask stepped away. He could almost hear the bond between them protest at even that slight separation, begging him to step in again, closer to her. Sailor Moon's tears had dried in the cool breeze and he envied the wind for having had the honor to accomplish what he had been too cowardly to do.
"So," began Sailor Moon, suddenly self-conscious with the silence, "what'd you wanna talk about?"
It actually took Tuxedo Mask a moment to remember just why, exactly, he'd brought her here, but he remembered. How to broach the subject, though, was another problem entirely. It felt so fake going back to acting the distant stranger he'd played before in their encounters. But it was really the only path he could take.
"I need to talk to you about your fighting, Sailor Moon," he began coldly.
Sailor Moon felt her hopes disintegrate around her and sighed, not all that surprised. What were the chances, after all, that he had brought her here to confess any kind of feeling for her? ‘That only happens in dreams, Usagi. In your dreams.’ The weight of her insecurities settled comfortably on her shoulders once more. She sighed again and sunk, depleted, to sit on the roof. It seemed all her energy had simply bled out of her and her legs refused to hold her up any longer.
"Alright," she said softly, "go ahead." Beautiful way to end the evening, after all...getting scolded by both Rei and Tuxie. The way her day had gone, why had she thought her night would go any better?
Tuxedo Mask paused at her soft concession. She sat bonelessly on the tin-covered roof, eyes gazing up at him tiredly. She looked positively exhausted, dark circles bruising the delicate skin beneath her eyes. Even her hair was limp and tame in the moonlight as she drew it around her like a blanket. Tuxedo Mask wondered how much sleep she'd gotten, or when she had to wake up. Was she getting enough sleep, he fretted, then was angry with himself for feeling so protective.
"Erm, yes, your fighting," he began to pace in front of her, boots making sharp echoes on the tin roof. "You've become careless. Maybe you're getting cocky, and it's not good. One must never underestimate one's opponents! I can't be there to pull you out of trouble every time you stumble, every time you hesitate." His voice grew in fervor, finally venting out the fear and frustration he felt whenever he saw her fight. "You have to focus! Plan ahead, use more cover, follow orders! When one of the other girls tells you to hide, do it! They're only looking out for you. You play a key role in destroying the beast, and you must not endanger yourself unduly. If I can't reach you in time, I--" he broke off, realizing that she'd tuned him out completely.
Sailor Moon was fighting to stay awake. The sweet irony of it all, she mused, was to finally get to be alone with Tuxedo Mask and have him, of all people, try to lecture her. Had she not been so tired it might have made more of an impression. God knew she valued his opinion, dreaded over what he might think of her. But, in a way, she was fiercely happy that tonight she was too tired to care, because otherwise his lecture would be cutting her to the quick. Soon enough she'd be able to look back on this night, fully rested, and be truly mortified. For now, she'd huddle into herself and pretend he was doing anything other than chastising her.
Angry at her inattentiveness, Tuxedo Mask strode towards her and settled on his haunches before her, jerking her face up with one hand. "You aren't listening," he accused. "I'm not telling you this to hear myself talk. You have to shape up!"
Of course, that woke her up. Or, at least woke her up so that she cared that he was humiliating her. She forced her eyelids open and glared at this man who had dared ruin her escape. "Just who do you think you are to tell me what to do?"
He leaned back, startled. Whatever response he'd expected, that was not the one. From the few previous conversations he'd had with her, she had seemed so pliant, so eager to please. She'd never stung back, no matter how cold he'd been towards her. Sailor Moon could have told him that, had she not been so tired, she might very well be a puddle of tears on the floor beneath his feet by now. But Usagi, without her sleep, was very cranky.
"Hey, I'm just trying to help. If you can't do your job, then I can't get the crystals, and you can't do whatever it is you girls want to do," he bit out. She waved an airy hand in front of him. "Okay, consider me helped. It's good to know I'm useful for *something* to you," she drawled.
"Listen," he growled, reaching for that nonchalant hand and trapping it between his own, "that's not what I--What? What's wrong?"
Sailor Moon flinched again as he squeezed her hand, sending her tired nerve endings on a painful spree. She snatched her hand back. "Nothing," she muttered.
His eyes narrowed in suspicion and concern. "No, not nothing. Let me see."
She glared at him defiantly. "NO! Just leave me alone. I'll be fine."
He gave her an "I don't think so" kind of look and they wrestled briefly over her hand. He won out quickly once she decided she'd rather get this over with and go home to catch some sleep.
He was left with her small, gloved hand in his large one. He turned it over gently but could find no rips in the cloth, no blood staining the fabric. He wanted to ask her again what was wrong, but one look at her pouting face and he was sure he'd get no response. Well, there was only one thing to do. He firmly grasped the top of the elbow-length glove and peeled it back, revealing a slim, pale arm. She remained silent.
Her hand was incredibly soft--and incredibly raw. The tips of her fingers were slightly singed, as though she'd been running them over the flame of a candle. He gasped softly and turned angry eyes on her. "How did this happen?"
Sailor Moon was thoroughly flustered. Somehow, having him hold her naked hand was very disturbing. She looked over the bruises and smoke marks without concern, trying to draw back her hand. "See? I told you it was nothing! It's just the regular effect of the moon wand. It fades in less than an hour."
He gaped at her. Did she mean she went through this every time? Not for the first time, he wondered how much energy she channeled through that wand to send out such an intense beam of power. He searched her face, before she looked down to put on her glove, with this new information in mind. He noted how her shoulders trembled with fatigue, how her fingers shook as she tried to force them back into the glove. He'd been too dense, too self absorbed, to notice how her lethargy went beyond mere sleepiness. She drained her power repeatedly, every week, to battle the youmas. And he'd been so quick to leave after each fight, he'd never noticed how she tended to lag behind the other Senshi once they finished the battle, or had simply thought nothing of it.
And he, moron that he was, had dragged here out here so he could lecture her.
"Sailor Moon...I'm sorry. I presumed too much. Please accept my apology." He waited breathlessly for her response, trying to act cool and unaffected all the same. When over thirty seconds had passed and she had yet to raise her head and forgive him, he began to worry.
"Very well. I understand I overstepped my bounds. It won't happen again." And still she remained silent. Tuxedo Mask was genuinely surprised. He'd always thought her the kind of person who'd forgive easily. ‘I guess it would have been too much to ask’
He turned away, hiding the hurt he felt at her rejection. Whatever happened, he must never show her he cared... "I'll take you back to your friends," he said slowly. Figuring she may be too tired to stand up on her own, he strode back to her and lifted her to her feet.
And that's when her head fell back, the weight of her hair dragging back on her delicate neck. Her lips were slightly parted as her breath passed gently through. She was fast asleep.
Tuxedo Mask didn't know whether to be relieved or embarrassed, apologizing to a sleeping superhero as he had. Whatever. He figured this impromptu rendezvous was over, and not a moment too soon. He gathered her in his arms and she snuggled closer in her sleep, her head finding its resting place against the crook of his shoulder and her hand slipping deftly into his jacket. He gulped and almost dropped her, feeling much more heated than he should on such a cool night.
He was playing a dangerous game. This was no regular girl he could ever hope to have a relationship with. He felt, deep down in his bones, that this young woman he held in his arms held, in turn, the fate of the world in her own. How could he hope to compete with that?
It was nearing 5 a.m. when Tuxedo Mask approached a group of four wary girls, a slumbering Sailor Moon in his arms. Sailor Jupiter immediately ran up to him, snatching Sailor Moon from his arms.
"What did you do to her?!" she demanded, settling Sailor Moon on her back in a piggyback position. "I swear, if you hurt her..."
Tuxedo Mask stayed silent and impassive, watching the group alternately fuss over Sailor Moon and accuse him of homicide. It didn't take Mercury long to figure out that Sailor Moon was doing nothing more than snoozing.
"Minna, calm down. She's just asleep." She directed curious eyes towards Tuxedo Mask. "What happened?"
"Nothing," he replied succinctly. "We were talking and then she simply fell asleep. If you want to know more, you'll have to ask her." And then he was gone, simple as that.
The four Senshi watched his shadowy form retreat quickly, then turned back to their leader.
"She's really out of it," commented Sailor Mars, smoothing a wayward pigtail off Sailor Moon's face.
"Hmmm. The energy drain and sleep debt must have combined so she couldn't stay awake any longer. Poor Usagi-chan," sighed Sailor Mercury.
"Poor Usagi-chan? Whatever! Now I'm going to have to wait a whole day to know what happened with Tux boy tonight!" complained Sailor Venus.
The four shared a guilty laugh over that, generally acting as the teenage girls they were.
"Guys, we only have three hours before we have to get ready for school. Let's take her home and hope Luna can wake her up for school tomorrow," advised Sailor Jupiter.
They left, Jupiter carrying Sailor Moon, and the park was peaceful once more.
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to be continued...Write write write write write! Now now now now now!!
And now, an ode to the d$#n hill that leads up to my dorm:
(Continue to sing to Celine's "My Heart Will Go On")’cue flutes’
Every morning I have to ride down that d@*n hill,
Straight down to a busy street...
If my bike had brakes then I wouldn't be road kill,
Or have burn marks right on my feet...Near, far, whoever they are,
No one here seems to know how to brake! That d@*n kid just cut me off...
He'll be sorry, I promise, when my revenge I~I take!!!
stay tuned for the stunning conclusion of this song