~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~

A fanfic by 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 9: My Odango Atama ==========((=============((@

Part 6: Rei, and Usagi

I think it is time I told you about Rei. Yes, we dated briefly, before I realized what I felt about Usagi. She was the first girl I ever shared some of my inner thoughts with. Not all, mind you, but some. I have always felt very comfortable around Rei, and still do.

And we still confide in each other; we are still really good friends. I don't think either of us regrets getting to know each other better. It started when we were comparing notes about our karate lessons.

And then one day, when Rei was in a bright, happy mood, full of things to tell about her day at the temple, she noticed I wasn't paying attention at all. She kept probing me quietly, till I finally let it slip I'd had a nightmare, and it was still making me uneasy.

Rei looked at me, distress evident in her face. "Oh, that's terrible! I know what it is to get nightmares--and from your face, it was something more than that, wasn't it?" And then, looking at me sharply, Rei continued, "Was it was a vision, like a premonition?"

And I looked at her full in the eyes, and said, "Honestly, I don't know. And I have never known."

It was then that Rei insisted on inviting me over to the temple (I kept protesting that I didn't think she, or anyone else, could help me), and there, over tea and pastries, she tried to coax me to tell her what the nightmare was about. Hoping, by being honest with me, that I would reveal more to her, she told me that she herself often suffered from terrible nightmares, and that they were often visions, premonitions of the future, something that was both her gift and her curse, from being clairvoyant.

She peered at me very closely, and asked, "Are you a psychic, Mamoru-san? Somehow, I've always sensed that you were. I think that's one reason I'm drawn to you. You probably have telepathic abilities like I do, as well." Rei studied my face some more, and I think she was just considering a new way of probing me, when the phone rang, and she ran to answer it.

I heard her speak very sarcastically into the phone. "Well, really, Usagi, what do you expect ME to do about you failing another math test? Pull yourself together, will you? Stop crying. And no, I can't talk now. I'm very busy. Goodbye!"

Then I saw Rei, in the space of five seconds, go from annoyed and impatient, to pasting an encouraging and welcoming smile on her face--for me. I realized then, that wasn't the first time I'd seen her squelch Usagi, or make fun of her and try to get me to join in. And I never would join in. It was one thing if I teased her. But it seemed I didn't like to hear other people making fun of her. And suddenly, I found I didn't want to tell Rei about my nightmare. In fact, I no longer wanted to talk to her about anything. I was ...angry.

I looked at my watch, made some excuse, and said I couldn't stay any longer, I was sorry. I saw Rei's face fall, and I was really sorry. But not that sorry. I found myself walking really briskly, in the direction of the Crown Game Centre. Now, why am I going there? I wondered to myself. I'm feeling angry, not like playing a video game at all. And I don't even know what I'm angry about! So what am I going there to do, exactly? Mechanically, I counted the bills in my wallet. Yes, enough there. Enough for what?

Then, as I turned into the door of the Centre, and my eyes fell on a figure, her back to me, with very long, long blonde pony tails, playing a video game, I knew. Even before she turned her tear-stained face to mine, and tried to hide her expression, unsuccessfully. I realized I was about to treat Tsukino Usagi to a chocolate fudge sundae.

As I looked at her little woebegone face, I felt my arms come up involuntarily. What was that about? Did I actually want to reach out for her, to console her? I looked down at my hands, and forced them back behind my back.

Then I asked Usagi my question, making it sound very casual, saying that I was in the mood for chocolate, and how about her, would she like to come too? She looked at me doubtfully, trying to gauge if she was being made fun of. She actually thinks that. She must really think I'm a jerk. So I asked her again, risking sounding just a little anxious.

Her eyes widened, then she broke into a smile. "A hot fudge sundae? For me? Really?" She looked so pleased and excited, I wished I had asked her long ago. And I was amused to see she came right along, almost tripping over herself in her eagerness, like a little lamb. I reminded myself again that I was going to play this very casual, just a friendly little encounter. Even if I did have to put my hands in my pockets, to stop them from shaking.

She was almost finished her ice cream, when I quietly asked her if I could see her test results. She was very upset at first, much as I expected her to be. She was furious with Rei for telling me. But then I waited her out, just kept looking at her.

"Just what is it you want?" she snapped. "Why do you want to see my test results? You know I failed, don't you? Isn't that enough?"

She glared at me. And I looked back at her, steadily. "Well, I was hoping really...if we went over it together, all the questions and answers, I might be able to help you do better next time."

I watched suspicion, surprise, doubt, and then hope all cross her face, within seconds. And then she brought up a wadded-up, crumbled paper out of her pocket. I took it from her hand, noticing how small her hands were. And after I had carefully unfolded it, her eyes on me the whole time, I read out the first question in a voice too low to be overheard by anyone else. Then I went over the answer with her, and how it was arrived at. And then I went through all the other questions, one by one.

I realized after a while, she's just not taking this in. She's just staring at me. "Usagi-chan?"

"Yes?" Sky-blue eyes, drinking me in, as if they'd never seen me before.

"Maybe we should continue this another time. I guess you're tired, and..."

"I am NOT tired!" She was indignant.

"Well then, you're just not ready to listen to math right now."

"I am TOO listening!" [How does she get her voice to go up an entire octave like that? Amazing.]

I grinned. "O.K., O.K.! You are NOT tired, and of course, you ARE listening to me, with rapt attention. So what question did I just read to you?" [Aha, Odango...gotcha.]

"Ummm, it was, well, it was, oh, I don't remember." And then she blushed beet red.

"It's O.K.. Really. We'll do this another time." I smiled at her.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she cried. "Here you've been trying so hard to help me, and I don't even thank you! Thank you SO MUCH, Mamoru-san, for the sundae, and for wanting to help me," she sighed. "I guess no one can help a hopeless case like me!" [No, Odango, it's ME who's hopeless. Hopelessly fascinated by you, if only you knew it. But I can't take a chance that if you find out, you'll run away from me. ]

"Oh, I don't know. I think all you need is a little patience, and more motivation." I answered her.

It was then Usagi looked down at the table, embarrassed, and for the first time, she noticed the time on my watch. "Oh, dear, I have to get home! My mom will be expecting me. But oh, I feel so much better now! I know my mom's gonna be mad at me when she finds out I failed the test, but I think I deal with that now O.K.. Thank you for cheering me up so much!"

And then off she went skipping down the street, her hair bouncing, just a happy little bunny. I caught myself thinking that, and said, what on earth has come over me? I tease her all the time, then I get mad when someone else, Rei, gets mad at her? Why? They're friends, aren't they? Since when did it become my responsibility to worry about Rei's friend's feelings?

Of course, I finally figured out what was going on with me, somewhere about 3:00 AM. It made me sit right up straight in bed. And right then, I knew I was going to start cooling things off with Rei. We were going to stay friends, I liked her a lot. I still do. But it was over now, before it ever really started. And something else had begun, something much stronger, inside me. And I wondered if Usagi had even a clue what she had just done to me. Or maybe she did it to me, the first time we met, and I just didn't know it then.

Well, I knew it now. I just didn't know where this was going next. But I was looking forward to finding out.


PLEASE GO TO: Part 7: The Masquerade Ball


Final note:* The title "The Rose Garden" in relation to Sailor Moon, and the fan fiction of this title, is legally copyright of Pandora Diane Waldron. If you wish to quote from it on a web site, or otherwise publish it, please ask permission of the author, by e-mailing pwaldron@idirect.com. If you use it on a web site without the author's permission, that constitutes copyright infringement. I have never said no to anyone yet, OK? And yes, please e-mail me anyway with your comments. E-mail from our fans is the only *pay* we fanfic authors receive for our hours of effort.

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