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 7: The Masquerade Ball,
Tuxedo Kamen to Usagi:
"You're just who I wanted to see..." He places a pillow beside a pillar on the balcony outside, and rests her against it. He leans forward, and gently touches his lips to hers. He kisses her deeply.
"Oh... This feeling... So familiar... Sometime... Somewhere... So soft and warm... It's happened before... Those sweet lips..."
"Get away from Usagi-chan! Tuxedo Kamen! What are you doing?"
-------from Sailor Moon Manga, Act 5
[Mamoru comments here: "Now that, Luna, was a silly question!" ]
SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
It's a beautiful night to be alive....wonder what she's doing right now?
It's a pity that Tuxedo Kamen has a previous engagement tonight. There's a report that at the "D" Kingdom Embassy this evening, a large rare crystal will be unveiled. This just could be the break I've been waiting for. Maybe not. But I have to check it out. [SIGH] These formal balls are always so boring, nothing interesting ever happens. And I can definitely think of something I'd rather be doing. As I rummage through my closet, the Princess in the painting seems to be watching me. And I think again, how much her eyes look. like Usagi's. Before, this really bothered me. Tsukino Usagi just doesn't fit my image of a Princess. Hmmmm...Princess of Wails, maybe. But I don't care. I don't care at all. Usagi has the most beautiful smile I've ever seen. And she's sweet and good-natured. And I intend to spend a lot more time with her....
Oh, stop fooling yourself, Mamoru. When are you going to ever get time to get to know Usagi better? Your mission, with whatever time you have free, is to find the Crystal. You don't get a normal life.
But I can still dream, though. Wouldn't it be nice, if Usagi WAS the Princess...Oh, Mamoru...you have got it BAD for that girl. I put on the mask, and shake my head at myself in the mirror. Now quit...fantasizing.
Well, here's to a boring night...with boring people, and I won't find the Crystal...again.... I switch off the lights and lock up the apartment. I must be really ticked. Six roses in the dart board already, tonight....
As I expected. A lot of people, dressed to kill, trying hard to impress each other. Mostly succeeding in looking uncomfortable as hell. And all these women, every last one of them dressed in black, because that's supposed to make them look slimmer. All looking around, nervously holding their drinks, and glancing at each other, when they think no one sees. Isn't anyone here to have fun, dammit? It's depressing.
Why do I get the feeling I've been to many such affairs, so many times that I can't remember them all? For a moment, I am wearing other clothes, and I can feel a sword at my hip, and I'm crossing another ballroom, looking for someone...someone very special.
And then, suddenly comes the next fragment of memory... she's THERE, and life is about to become worthwhile again. She's THERE, just ahead of you in the crowd. You can't see her yet, but she's there. Keep walking. And then I realize I'm no longer re-living a small fragment of memory.
No...no...she is there, right now. And some sense in me is leading me to her. I'm going to see her, just around this corner. In front of the ladies' room. She's going to come around this corner, any second now. I feel a little dizzy, as out of breath as if I'd been running. And my heart is starting to pound.
Well, I've managed to crash this "D" Kingdom Embassy ball successfully, Usagi thought to herself. My Dad may think I'm too
young for this. But with Sailor Moon's transformation pen, I can manage to look a little older, a little different, and I can live my fantasy tonight...coming here in the most beautiful ball gown, and I can look like a fairy princess, if I want. Too much!! Even my Dad isn't quite sure who I am. Me, but not me.
This is all right...I'll be able to do whatever Sailor Moon has to do tonight, but in the meantime...this is gonna be such a blast. There's only one thing would make this just perfect...if Tuxedo Kamen was here. I smile at myself. Tsukino Usagi, dreaming in technicolor as usual.
Darn it! That's what comes of daydreaming, Usagi. You weren't looking where you were going and...some woman has just spilled wine on this lovely skirt. Now why is it, whenever I'm wearing something absolutely perfect, I always manage to spill something on it? What am I, a spill magnet?
[SIGH] Better head for the ladies' room and try to mend the damage. I wonder if I have something in my pocket I could mop it up with. Hmmm...something fell out of my pocket, but I can't see it now...people are blocking my view. Wait...is that someone wearing white gloves, picking it up? Too late now. Can't see whoever it is. Now stop being so distracted, Usagi, or that stain's gonna sink in, with your luck. Keep going, head for that ladies' room...
There she is, just behind yet another woman in a black dress. My Princess, she of my dreams, she in the painting, in a lovely white dress that seems to light up the room, only she doesn't seem to be in a mood to beckon me to do her bidding at the moment. She's not even looking at me, her cheeks are flushed, she looks flustered, distracted, leaning over and tugging at her skirt. Now who does that flustered, embarrassed expression on her face remind me of? I had it a minute ago, but now it's gone. She floods my thoughts. I feel like time didn't exist before I saw her, this moment.
Now she's rummaging around, looking for something and still she doesn't see me. Now wouldn't you think she could feel my eyes on her by now, the way I'm staring at her? Oh, now, she's dropped something, a little white square of something. I dive for it. Finders keepers, Princess. You want it back, you'll have to look my way, just so I can have the honour of returning it to you.
On the other hand...do I WANT to give this back? I look at it more closely, in between sneaking looks at her...she's still rummaging in her pockets for something she hasn't found yet. Hey, heads up, Princess. I'm what you're looking for, I hope...if you'd only look this way....
Then I quickly turn my attention back to my little trophy. It's a handkerchief, I discover. Reading, neatly embroidered in black: Grade 8, Class 1, Tsukino Usagi.
NOOO!! I just don't believe it! For a moment, I have to brace myself against the wall, because I feel a little dizzy. In a moment of wishful thinking, I had said to myself tonight that I wished that somehow Usagi could be the Princess I was seeking. But I didn't really believe it. My wishful thinking was all it had ever been. Can my wish have actually come true?
That girl. That annoying, wonderful girl, Odango Atama, Dumpling Head, the one who drives me crazy, the one I just can't stop thinking about, or worrying about. Bouncing along the street, never even looking at me, or knowing that I watch her. Sitting on that bus with that spooky black cat in her lap, a cat who seems to disapprove of me, dunno why? She who, klutzy as she is, occupies all my waking thoughts. I wonder how long ago it was that she slipped into my heart, and there became its reigning Princess, even if I couldn't have imagined her as a real Princess before.
I have no memory now of when frustration and annoyance at Usagi turned into a need to impress her, then to concern over her, and then, to the surprising knowledge that I had come to care for her. And then, that in turn, became a wish that somehow, in finding her, my quest would be at an end, because I had found suddenly that I no longer had the heart for being Tuxedo Kamen any longer. All he joy and adventure I had felt in looking for the Guinzuishou, that elusive Silver Crystal, had suddenly evaporated. It all meant nothing, if my quest to find it, and the Princess, meant that I could not spend time with her.
And then another vision surfaces. Usagi, my beloved Dumpling Head, beaming at me, so her whole face glows. Bestowing a smile on me like a radiant beam of light, just because I helped her with her math. But now that I come to think of it, of course, that's whose face my beauty in the ball gown reminds me of! But how has she done this? It's Usagi, all right, but somehow, she looks different, so I wouldn't have been quite sure, without, I grin to myself, my little trophy here.
None of this makes any sense. I think maybe, this whole thing is Mamoru's wish fulfilment, I'm imagining all this, just dreaming. I clutch the handkerchief tightly, and put it away for later. It feels real enough. Well, if this is my dream, I have no intention of waking up now. So stay right there, Dream Girl.
Ahh, I see what she's doing. There's a faint pink stain at the bottom of her skirt, you can hardly notice it. That's why she's in front of the ladies' room. She's going to escape me into there, to clean up that little, tiny spill. Oh no, my lovely...no you don't. I've waited too long to see you. I'm not waiting even a fraction of a second longer. We are meeting. Right now.
Finally. Finally. Those lovely blue eyes are meeting mine. And suddenly, a vision clouds my sight. Just for a moment. It is her, holding my arm, looking up at me, joy in those eyes. I can feel the cool breeze, stirring my hair; we're walking in a courtyard. And vaguely, I can see some structure, a building, glittering in the sunlight...it seems to be made of crystal. She whispers in my ear, "I am so happy, so happy." Then the vision fades. But I know what it was. A premonition.
That little glimpse makes me quicken my steps, bridging the gap to her side just that little bit sooner. Wow, she looks mesmerized by the sight of me. I just have time to register that in my mind, and I have her hand in mine. "A beautiful princess...may I have this dance?" I hear myself saying.
I don't remember much after that, except that we danced, and I was deliriously happy. Holding her hand tightly clasped in mine as we were dancing, I heard her say softly in my ear, "Oh, I've wanted to be with you!" and then she smiled at me so sweetly, I thought my heart was just going to burst.
I couldn't speak for a second, for all the emotions coursing through me in that moment of joy. But I did somehow find the presence of mind to say with a smile, "Me, too!", and then I slipped my fingers in between hers, so our fingers were interlaced. I wanted to say so, so much more to her, but the sight of her, so beautiful, in that dress, looking at me with such love in her eyes, made every word hopelessly inadequate. At my words, I saw Usagi blush happily in response, and I pulled her a little closer.
We danced like that, my fingers wrapped around hers, and my hand on her waist, feeling her so warm and close to me, for a few magical moments. It was probably longer than that, but that's all it felt like to me. As far as I was concerned, there was no one else in that vast ballroom, just my Dream Princess and me, and she was in my arms, at last.
Unfortunately, just then, I suddenly remembered, as I heard over the P. A. system that they would be unveiling the "D" Kingdom Crystal in 10 minutes, the real reason Tuxedo Kamen was supposed to be here. How do I explain it to her? I can't, I realized. I'll have to slip away soon, and just try to catch her later. Why am I so sure I will find her again, when I need to? I don't know. I just ... am. Sorry, beautiful Usagi, Dream Princess. Duty calls. But I'll be back.
Everyone stops dancing as they wait for the unveiling. "And now ladies and gentlemen..." intones the master-of-ceremonies, "tonight's main event! The unveiling of the magnificent treasure of the "D" Kingdom. This is your first, and only chance to see it!!"
The plummy voice drones on and on like a tacky game show host. O.K., O.K. Enough with the promos, here. Let's cut to the chase, now. Is this treasure the Silver Crystal or not? Can we please get this over with? Cause if this is NOT the Crystal, there's a pretty lady in white waiting for me. And I don't intend to keep her waiting very long.
My patience, what's left of it, is wearing thin. Suddenly, there is a collective intake of breath amongst the audience.
"Get out of my way!" I hear a female voice screech, as harsh in my ears as chalk squeaking on a blackboard. A young woman with short hair and glasses, wearing an obviously very expensive ball gown and a tiara, appears on the run, clutching a small box. From the way she's dressed, this can't be anyone else but the very Princess "D" who holds the treasure...in that box, I presume?
Well, Princess, she may be. She sure doesn't hold a candle to my Princess. But why on earth is she screeching like that, and running off like a thief with that box? Then, as she passes by close to me, I feel the unmistakable emanations of Dark Kingdom energy coming from her.
I barely have time to take all this in, when Sailor Moon streaks by me, running after Princess "D". Now my eyes widen, and I take a quick pan around the room. No Usagi. If she was anywhere in the ballroom still, I would have found her. I know that now. And somehow, Usagi has subtly altered her appearance, which means she has some kind of powers to do that. I recall the day that, before my eyes, she transformed into that shapely airline stewardess, and climbed onto the bus, and suddenly, the light dawns. Powers...powers like Sailor Moon?
Mamoru, you baka! [idiot] You've been blind. Those odangos might have given you SOME clue, ne? So, Sailor Moon, I guess this means my next dance is with you. But it looks like the Dark Kingdom has cut in on us.
I run after Sailor Moon and the Princess out to the balcony. Startled women in long black dresses, men in tuxedos, all part before Tuxedo Kamen, cape flying, as he tears hell-for-leather after TWO Princesses, neither of whom is running very gracefully: a girl with long sailing golden ponytails, and long, long legs, [the only one with a short skirt in the ballroom, she is attracting more than her usual share of male stares, I notice, though SHE doesn't] and a dumpy little girl tripping over her very expensive evening gown, with a box clutched tightly in her arms.
To my horror, I see Princess "D" is about to jump off the edge of the balcony. Sailor Moon wrestles with her desperately, but the possessed Princess, with a strength borne of madness, throws her off.
Oh my God! Sailor Moon is going to fall...I've got to get to her. The crowd starts to mill in panic, confusion, and I'm sprinting a zig-zag course across the ballroom floor. No dancer could have done it better. I don't think I ever in my life ran so fast.
As I flash past Princess "D", who is still on the balcony, clutching her box, out of the corner of my eye, I see her expression. It is not the face of a young woman, but that of a small child. A naughty small child, who has run off with something she knows she's not supposed to play with, and she is feeling very pleased with herself. I don't even think she is aware of me looking at her, let alone that she may have just sent Sailor Moon falling to her death.
Oh, God, can I get there in time? I vault over the balcony railing with one hand, and plunge my other hand into space, reaching out for Sailor Moon desperately. Yes! I've got her, and as I feel the sudden drag on my arm, I know she's stopped falling, and I have time to be conscious of the blood pounding in my ears. I feel the warmth of her hand in mine, through the thin glove, thinking, I only just found you, only just knew you were the one...and I nearly lost you.
I feel so dizzy, and what is the pain I'm feeling now? Realization dawns then. The pain is shooting from my other arm, and I realize I must have jumped off the balcony after her, and now I'm hanging on to the railing with one hand. Oh God. My strength is starting to falter. If we don't get help soon, we're both going to fall to our deaths.
Sailor Moon looks up at me, terrified, as she realizes I'm starting to lose my grip. "Tuxedo Kamen, no!"
[Oh, great move, Mamoru. You really lost your head this time, just because you were so frightened for her. So now, you too are hanging from the balcony, and you're both going to die. Another impressive performance by Tuxedo Kamen. And it looks like it's my last one, too.]
PLEASE GO TO PART 8: My Tipsy Little
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