~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~
From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane Waldron
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
CHAPTER 10: A Locket And A Handkerchief
Part 1: Reality Bites...After The Ball
That darn cat! It was almost a perfect evening, till I let that black cat cross my path. [Sigh.]
Slowly, I disrobed in front of the mirror. First, the mask. I took it off, and a young man with deep, piercingly blue eyes stared back at me. He was somehow, subtly different. Now, why?
My tuxedo shirt, as gleamingly white as ever, starched to within an inch of its life, looked the same. My black trousers, not a crease in them that I could detect. My dark cape, the bold red silk lining shone bright as ever. My lucky hat, on the couch already, was, maybe, a little the worse for wear after its tumble off the balcony, but it was nothing that a little cleaning wouldn't fix. My tuxedo still fitted me perfectly as ever...or did it? Wasn't there a little bulge, around the chest level, on the right hand side?
I frowned, a frown that Mamoru's classmates would have recognized. They would have smirked to each other, and whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, "Mamoru the perfectionist has spotted something wrong!"
In my mind, I sarcastically retorted, "And maybe if some of YOU cared a little more about things, you wouldn't have to worry about whether you're passing this year !" But I didn't say it aloud. That would be admitting that they'd gotten to me.
Suddenly it dawned on me what the mysterious bulge was, and the man in the mirror relaxed and smiled back at me, the unpleasant memory forgotten. I reached into the small concealed inner pocket of my tuxedo jacket, and brought out a small crumpled handkerchief. I stretched out its folds as tenderly as though it was a priceless heirloom. I read the black embroidered letters again: Grade 8, Class 1, Tsukino Usagi.
"As long as I have this handkerchief," I whispered to myself, "it WASN'T a dream this time...it wasn't a dream. You were with me, my Princess, my Usagi-chan, you were in my arms. Nothing, nothing can take that away from me."
I shut my eyes, and kissed the handkerchief. When I opened them again, the man in the mirror had a dreamy expression on his face that no one had ever seen before on serious Mamoru. Yes, I still looked different, I realized, even without a handkerchief to mar the perfect fit of my tuxedo. Mamoru would never look the same again.
I continued to gaze at the crumpled handkerchief, and felt a smile creeping unbidden at the corners of my mouth again. Usagi, untidy Usagi, how typical of her to stuff the handkerchief any which way into her pocket, till it acquired a million wrinkles. I think I would have known the distinctive wrinkles anywhere, even without the stitched name. I stretched the handkerchief out on my desk, smoothing it gently with my fingers and carefully folding it into immaculate quarters, so that it would sit flat. Then I put it back, this time into the inner pocket of my green school jacket, hanging in my closet. Oh, what would she say if she knew? Would she ever believe I would wear something of hers, next to my heart?
After I took off the rest of the Tuxedo Kamen gear, I went out onto the balcony, still not ready for sleep. How wide awake I suddenly was, I thought, wondering, as I looked out at the stars. My eyes strayed higher, to a full, white moon. I smiled, and remembered my Moon Princess, and I no longer saw the night sky. I was back at the Masquerade Ball, and there was no small black feline chaperone to spoil my evening. "Oh, I've wanted to be with you!" she cried, again, and her sky blue eyes were joyful. I drifted off, lost in memory.
I don't remember when I finally went to bed. But I do remember when I started to dream, and a part of me even knew I was dreaming. I was out on the wide balcony of the ballroom, bent over a tipsy, deliriously happy, Tsukino Usagi, who was returning my kisses fervently. Oh yes, yes...instant replay! And no darn cat in sight.
She looked up at me adoringly. "I'm so happy, I feel dizzy," she said softly. I felt dizzy too, drunk on her kisses, the feel of her in my arms, and the way she smiled at me. I felt high, exultant, and part of me wanted to laugh aloud for sheer joy.
Teasingly, I replied to her, "Of course,Usagi-chan, you feel dizzy-you must have had a snootful of that party punch! You think that disguise is gonna fool your Dad when you get home? One smell of your breath, and he's gonna skin you alive! And when you get the mother of all hangovers in the morning, how are you going to explain to Rei why you're too sick to go to the study session?"
I don't know whether it was what I said, or the mocking tone of my voice, or maybe both. All I know is that the smile suddenly died on her face. She reached up to my face. For a nanosecond, I thought she was going to touch my cheek in a caress. But then her hand moved higher, and she touched my mask. "Who ARE you?" she cried, a tremble in her voice.
Then the mask was off, and Tsukino Usagi was staring into my face. She looked horrified, dumbfounded. "You! Chiba Mamoru!" Her tone was accusatory. And then, the tears started brimming in her eyes. "Dressed as Tuxedo Kamen! Oh, how could you be so MEAN!"
She scrambled to her feet, unsteadily, but the adrenalin lending her strength. I was frozen to the spot, like all nightmares, unable to move, unable to speak. But it was always thus with me. Tuxedo Kamen always knows what to say, even if it's only a haiku. Chiba Mamoru never knows what to say, and when he does, it's always, always the wrong thing.
I watched her run away from me, her ponytails flying out behind her, my heart sinking, my hands reaching out for her, only when she was too far away to see. She disappeared into the crowded ballroom. It burst from me then, a long, low wail of despair, that echoed into the ballroom.
They all looked at me, coldly, at disturbing their evening, the elegant women and men attired in black, stared at the fool unmasked in the tuxedo. And that's when I woke up, drenched in perspiration.
She doesn't love YOU, baka. She never loved or wanted YOU, Chiba Mamoru. She wants the Mask, the Tuxedo Kamen. You don't need a Luna to tell you that you can never have her. If she ever finds out who you are, you'll never, never get close to her again.
Sitting up in the bed, my fists clenched the bedclothes so tightly it hurt. This was the truth that I had been avoiding all along. I stood up and looked in the mirror at the man with the dark blue eyes-he was a stranger to me. Surely, I did not know that downcast, lonely face. I stared like that for a long time, hoping against hope, that some way out of this dilemma would come to me. But my tired mind was blank.
"There are really only two choices," I reasoned to myself. "The first is that you stay away from Sailor Moon when you are Tuxedo Kamen, make sure she never gets close enough to you to guess who you really are." I sighed and looked at the man in the mirror, and knew he would rather be dead, than stay away from her. "The second choice is, that if I am close to her, I'll have to try not to let her hear my voice. She must know my voice by now, and sooner or later, I'll give myself away, as I did in that dream. Can I stay close to her, but be silent? Well, what choice do I have? She means everything to me, even if she can't stand the person I am in real life. So Tuxedo Kamen will be silent."
I crawled back under the covers, shivering. Sleep would be a long time coming, this time.
Please go to Part 2: The Spectre Bride
If you enjoyed this fan fiction or any other fanfic I've written, there's just one thing I want from you, and
it's not your money
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Remember, e-mail from our fans is the only *pay* we fanfic authors receive for our hours of effort. I'd appreciate it very much if you mentioned what country and city you live in when you write me, because I find it fascinating to see how there are Sailor Moon fans all over the world. Sometimes I can tell what country you're from by your e-mail address, but not if you use a .com, a .net or an aol or hotmail addy!
Many people are under the false impression that the only big fans of the series are in places like Toronto, Canada, where I live, or the big cities in the United States. The people at DiC who have dubbed Sailor Moon into English also seem to think most people watching are girls under 10 years old. Let's show them how very wrong they are! So please drop me an electronic line, tell me a little about yourself, and your interests in Sailor Moon, and whether you watch other anime. All of you are roses in MY garden, and I like to *see* your colours.
Final note:* The title "The Rose Garden" in relation to Sailor Moon, and the fan fiction of this title, is legally the intellectual property and copyright of Pandora Diane Waldron. If you wish to quote from it, use the title for a Sailor Moon-related web page, post the fanfic on your web site, or otherwise publish it, please first ask permission of the author, by e-mailing email@example.com.
A couple of people have used the title of my fanfic as a title for their Mamoru web pages, without either asking me first, or crediting me for that title. If you just want to use the title "The Rose Garden" on a site devoted to Tuxedo Kamen/Tuxedo Mask, the proper and polite thing to do is to give me credit as the author of that title, and provide a link to the fan fiction of that title, or to my e-mail address. If you don't, you are not only being unfair to me, but you are also doing a disservice to my fans, who come looking for my fan fiction with a search engine, and come away disappointed when they see the title on your site, and think it's my fanfic there.
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A Virtual Goddess, Setsuna of the Sailor Moon Net World, ageless and gorgeous, transported to this time line, hence the -sama. Please bow very low as you leave.