~~~~((~~~((@ 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 8: My Tipsy Little Princess

I hear a female voice from the ballroom behind us yell, "Usagi-chan, the pen!" But I couldn't have heard a voice saying that, could I? I could swear, no one else was on that balcony, except the spaced-out Princess "D", and me. God, I must be dizzy, hallucinating. Nobody else knows Sailor Moon is Usagi, do they?

I am thinking this as I am falling, holding tight to Sailor Moon, hoping in vain that at least, I may cushion her fall. I hear someone yelling and realize it's me. But at the sound of the voice from the balcony, Sailor Moon is galvanized into action. I see her waving that video game-prize pen of hers in the air...and as I watch, fascinated, it lengthens and turns into..an umbrella!

And darned if she doesn't pull the Mary Poppins act, and we sail gently to earth, using the umbrella like a parachute. This girl is nothing if not creative in her ways of dealing with a situation. My hat is off to her. [Yes, it fell off when I took my dive off the balcony, naturally. But I got it back later...my lucky top hat.]

I grin at her. "Today, you saved me, and I thank you."

She shakes her head at me vigorously, refusing to accept my thanks. "No, Tuxedo Kamen. It's always you who saves ME," she says with a sweet smile.

If I had time to, I would certainly be blushing at this point. But there's still the little matter of Princess "D" and her Crystal I have to address first. So I dash off to find that OTHER Princess, the one possessed by the Dark Kingdom.

The evil Princess "D" is now standing in the middle of the ballroom, and I don't like the smile on her face at all. It does not exactly bode the warmth of human kindness towards her fellow man. As I look on, from behind the evil Princess "D", I can see a man materialize..a man with long red hair, wearing a military uniform.

Something cold touches my heart. I know this man from somewhere, and it is not a good memory. I see blackness, blackness surrounding him, like a sinister vacuum sucking out all the light in the room. The man begins to laugh, and his laughter is a heartless sound, echoing in the suddenly silent ballroom. A name for this man comes to me...a whisper from my dim clouded past that I cannot seem to touch...Nephrite, this man is.

People are collapsing, all over the room, as the darkness spreads out from Nephrite in an enveloping wave from above. I see Sailor Moon run towards one man who is sprawled out unconscious.

"Dad!" She calls out, horrified. She has no idea anyone else has heard her. There is a catch in her voice when she says "Dad", that sounds all at once very young and lonely, not at all like the resourceful girl in the sailor suit who, with such quick action, just saved us both.

Dad, huh...is that the reason for the disguise..so her father won't find out she came here? She made herself look a little older and more sophisticated, so she could come to the Embassy ball, undetected by her protective father. She just wanted to have her fun at the ball...that's not so very different from the reasons I started wearing this tuxedo disguise. So...we have more in common than I thought. Then, as I remember how beautiful how she looked in her white princess gown, another thought hits me. The way she looked tonight...is that the way she will look in a few years? I can hardly wait.

Now the other Senshi, Sailors Mercury and Mars, try to help Sailor Moon. Here is the indomitable Sailor Mars trying to take on Nephrite. "Evil spirit, begone!" she shouts, thrusting her arm out.

But Nephrite just laughs, a horrible empty sound. And Sailor Moon is obviously shaken and upset by what has happened to her father and the others, and unsure of what to do next. I can feel her pain in my own heart...yes, things are already like that for me. And I know I have to find a way to help her somehow.

Must focus..must find the answer, somewhere within myself. I shut my eyes just for a moment. And sure and true, the answer comes back from my inner voice: Light. Light to defeat darkness. Sailor Moon must use light. Only she has the power to do this.

With a quick leap, I land high on the balcony edge, where Sailor Moon can see me. "Sailor Moon! You must extinguish the darkness! You need a powerful light!"

Sailor Moon whirls to see me, her expression a mixture of relief and gratitude. "Tuxedo Kamen?" I can see she's taken in what I've said, though, and is trying to think of a way to put the idea into action. Now I hear the same female voice I heard before, somewhere in the crowd, shouting. "Usagi-chan! With your new tiara, you can reflect the light of the moon!"

The phantom voice strikes again, think I. The voice that seems to be coming from somewhere near ankle level. Oh, why do I keep hoping any of this will make sense to me at some point? Oh, never mind. Sailor Moon is going to do one of her speeches now. I like listening to those, almost, but not quite, as much as watching her throw that tiara.

Sailor Moon is standing in her trademark stance. "How could you possess this princess!" She calls out coldly to Nephrite. "I am Sailor Moon, and in the name of the moon, I'll punish you!" Then, touching her tiara, she shouts, "Moon Twilight Flash!"

Her golden tiara is suffused with the scintillating, blinding white light of the full moon, which is rising in a gleaming ball above the balcony. The moonlight, reflecting off her tiara, sends a moonbeam straight at Nephrite's floating image, and the surrounding blackness--destroying both, instantly.

Another magnificent performance, Sailor Moon, I think to myself...it's a pleasure to have the privilege of assisting you. One day soon, if I can only find the words, I'll find a way to tell you so. Instead of just always watching in silent admiration.

Princess "D" faints, but a moment later, gets up woozily...and her glasses fall off. For a moment, she stumbles around, looking for the dropped specs. [Hmmm. She's not so bad without the glasses...but still not a patch on Usagi]. Her face reflects all the bewilderment and insecurity of a very shy girl at a very public occasion, who can feel everyone's eyes on her. Now Princess "D" finds her glasses, which judging from their thickness, she needs badly. And then she finds the dropped box as well.

For a moment, I feel sorry for the hapless Princess "D". But then my thoughts flick back to Usagi, who isn't that confident all the time either..but it's never stopped her from trying. I love that spirit within her.

It's obvious Princess "D" won't be up to delivering her own speeches. So now we all have to listen to more fatuous hype from the Princess' assistant about her magnificent treasure, and how privileged we all are to view it. Oh, please, please, would you open that box, already...while the night is still young, before *my* Princess thinks I've forgotten her entirely?

It's a WHAT? A 2000 carat diamond? Well, that's obviously not the Illusion Silver Crystal. I don't know whether to laugh, or get angry. I could have DANCED all night, with my Fair Lady. Well, now to find her.


Now where on earth has that girl got to? Really, was I gone that long? Well, I can't blame Usagi for not sticking around...it's not like I told her I was leaving, or whether I was even coming back. Could she be dancing with someone else now? I realize I don't like that thought at all. But I clamp down on those thoughts and ask myself, come on, you know her by now, surely. Now where would Tsukino Usagi most likely be?

Well, there are no video games here, so it can't be that. No manga for her to read either. And yes, she loves to dance, but she would wait for me, I think...wouldn't she, wouldn't she? Wait a minute...come to think of it, there's only one place left where Usagi would head for like a homing pigeon..the food, the food. Of course! Where else would she go?

And sure enough, there at the main serving table, there she is. Oh no, I don't believe it! Don't tell me Usagi's been into the party punch! Poor kid, I suppose she didn't have a clue how much alcohol that stuff was spiked with...I had a little sip earlier this evening, and wow! That's pretty potent stuff.

I shake my head ruefully. No more dancing for you tonight, little Princess. My God, that girl needs a keeper. Well, if that is the case, then let it be known that this position has been filled, as of now, by me. Chiba Mamoru, at your service, your official keeper. Hmmm. How can anyone that tipsy still look that gorgeous?

Whoa! She looks as if she's gonna pass out any minute. I better get over there fast. She starts to fall, and I pick her up in my arms. Her eyelids are half closed, and she looks up at me with a small, pleased smile on her face. A moment later, she is unconscious, and falling limp against me. Having her this close to me, I can feel my heart going like a triphammer. I need to get her to some fresh air, and maybe then she'll revive. As I head for the balcony, I snatch a cushion off a nearby chair and, placing the cushion against a pillar, gently set her down against the pillar.

Her eyelids flutter open and she smiles at me again. I whisper to her, "You're just who I wanted to see." Then I can't hold back any longer. Her lips are just too inviting. The world seems to fall away and disappear, and all I can feel is the joy of holding her at last.

Hmmm. She's not quite as tipsy as I thought, not from the way she's responding to me. I hear her sigh, utterly contented. She is clinging to me now like a drowning man to the life raft. And now that I have her safe in my arms, I have no intention of letting her go, either.


Now what could spoil a moment like this? Funny you should ask. That darn cat.

"Get away from Usagi-chan!" shouts Luna, Sailor Moon's [and Usagi's] black cat.

Well, if I ever doubted she could talk, that's dispelled now. So that's the phantom voice that told Usagi to use her pen, the voice that seemed to be at ankle height. I should have known.

"Tuxedo Kamen, what are you doing?" I turn in disbelief at the tone in Luna's voice.

Now that, Luna, was one of the dumbest questions you have ever asked. What does it LOOK like I'm doing?

Her next question totally blows me away. "Why do you always show up where we are?" Luna demands to know.

I feel myself doing a slow burn. So, Miss Luna, and just where were you when your charge was almost passed out at the Embassy party? Just what would have happened to her if some guy who didn't have my honourable intentions found her in that condition? [Well, O.K., I admit that up until now, I've been enjoying every second of this, so maybe my intentions aren't entirely altruistic.]

But at least, I found her, and I took care of her, which you seem to think is *your* job. So now, with the fresh air, and a little TLC, she is starting to recover. And that's no thanks to you, Luna.

It's a good thing I'm wearing this mask, or Luna could see exactly how angry I am. But I control that...and I feel myself closing off emotionally....

There was a moment there when I might have told you all the truth, Luna. But that moment's gone. The old Mamoru of the orphanage days is here, angry, cold.... Why would I think for a moment anyone would trust me, or that I could trust anyone else? I should know better by now.

"It's because I, too, am searching for the Illusion Silver Crystal." I answer honestly. [And judging from the reception I just got, I guess I'll continue to be looking for it on my own. Because I don't have to explain myself to you, Luna, or to anyone else.].

And Luna is still wary and hostile, "Are you our enemy, or our friend?"

"Well, if we're both after the same thing, perhaps I'm your enemy." This is definitely my anger talking, and not unmixed with wounded pride...I protected Usagi from who-knows-what tonight, and this is all the thanks I get.

I look down at Usagi, one last, longing look. She looks so sweet and peaceful, lying there fast asleep now. Despite Luna's disapproving glare, I reach out to brush her hair away from her cheek, ever so gently. As I touch her for the last time, in my mind, I say to her, "You were mine tonight. You were mine. And not even Luna can take that away from me."

I sigh and straighten up, reluctantly letting my tipsy, but still beautiful Princess go. No use continuing, now that the furious feline chaperone has arrived. And maybe it would be fairer to wait until my sweet Usagi is more herself. The moment's spoiled now, anyway, I think, sadly.

But there'll be other times. And I think Tuxedo Kamen can find a way to evade Luna the duenna. If she chooses to view me as an enemy, that's fine. I can't be bothered to take the time to persuade her differently.

I turn on my heel, and fade into the night.

Goodnight, my dream Princess. I'll see you again, soon.


TO BE CONTINUED IN CHAPTER 10: A Locket, And A Handkerchief


Whew! That was a LONG Chapter 9, wasn't it? If I do any more of those, people will think Pandora-sama is into *epic* fanfics, like the Great Tim Nolan [Pandora ducks, as Tim gets ready to brain her with the hard copies of said epics.... "OUCH!!"] And <sweatdrop>, I haven't even covered the introduction of Sailors Jupiter and Venus yet, have I? Yeah, I know, I know. I've decided to put those in Chapter 10, in which also [Minako says "TA-DA!! right on cue], Tuxedo Kamen takes Sailor Moon to his apartment and [PAUSE]...reveals his true identity to her.

Why, what did you THINK I was going to say? Pandora-sama blinks innocently. And Lianne, resident *Official Hentai Detector* now brains Pandora with HER fics. As for Jen Wand, she just smiles and enjoys watching her Ethereal Firefly and honourary Onee-sama flit around making a fool of herself, trying to offend as many of her friends as possible, in a short period of time. Also in Chapter 10, look for the story behind the Locket and the Handkerchief, and why Mamoru calls Usagi *Usako* and why she calls him *Mamo-chan*. All this to look forward to, minna-san. But I'll try not to make you wait so long for Chapter 10. Scouts'....errrr....Senshis' Honour. [Pandora gets brained by all the Japanese anime lovers for saying the AWFUL DiC WORD "SCOUTS" *GASP!!*] Having annoyed everyone she can think of by now, the Goddess leaves...hoping they are not so annoyed, that they will not drop her a line to say whether they liked Chapter 9 or not. *HINT HINT*


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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. 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 website 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. So please e-mail me and tell me a little about yourself, what city you live in, and your interests. All of you are roses in MY garden, and I like to *see* your colours.

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