Love Breeds Insanity
Usagi started, yanked from morose reverie and meeting a migraine head on. She winced, glancing up from the pleasantly quiet burrow her arms made on the cold desk. "Huh?"
"Jeez, girl... that took, what? Five times?" Makoto shook her head, grinning broadly while she teased. "You're spacier than usual... is it Mamoru-san? Daydreaming about weddings, prams, and the like?"
"No," Usagi frowned, lightly touching her forehead. The rest of her class, currently enjoying break entirely too loudly, was exacerbating the headache. The pair spectating from next to Makoto noticed immediately.
"Usagi-chan, what's wrong?" Ami asked, pressing closer to the desk. Minako tucked a lock of gold behind her ear, watching Usagi intently. The aforementioned flaxen pouted at her hands.
"I don't feel well."
"You? Aw, Usagi-chan, you practically never get sick! I'm sorry," the lone brunette of their group apologized. "Is there anything we can do?"
Usagi smiled wryly. "Unless you can miraculously heal me..."
"What are your symptoms?" Ami prompted, studying her friend like a textbook case. Usagi scrunched up her features as she counted down for the pedantic.
"Well... a murderous, pounding headache... my throat's tickling and burning... and I feel sort of... dizzy."
"Are you feverish?"
"Not yet," the Moon Warrior replied darkly, cursing her ailment's inconvenience. "This is so terrible! How can I get sick now? Everything's ruined..." The last lamentation spewed in the form of a moan. Tears collected in the Princess' eyes and she hid her trembling countenance against the desk again. Minako took pity on the girl and began rubbing her shoulders.
"It's not that bad, Usagi-chan. You could probably leave school if you want, to go home and rest-"
"No," Usagi sniffled, tone muffled as she explained, "I don't want Mama to know I'm under the weather. If she finds out, she won't let me go out tonight!"
"Where are you going?" Makoto inquired gently.
"M-Mamo-chan and I are having our first date since the b-battle with Galaxia. H-he's taking me to a fancy restaurant and the reservations took forever! I c-can't bail on him now... all that effort, just for a nice, romantic evening... I want to see him! It's been so long..."
"But if you're sick," Ami cut in gently, "Then wouldn't it be prudent to set a raincheck? Mamoru-san would understand-"
"No," Usagi said flatly. She looked up, cerulean eyes boiling in fierce determination. "I won't cancel this evening. Not on my account."
The trio before her sighed, knowing any further argument would prove futile. Their leader was nothing if not stubborn.
Autumn breeze lifted the hem of Usagi's pink dress, and she shivered as the air curled around her bare legs teasingly. She stifled a sneeze, groaning as Azabu Apartments came into view. She could just make out Mamoru's form, adorned in a white tuxedo and looking entirely too hot to belong to her. But all thoughts of inadequacy for such a paladin aside, what Usagi was truly bothered by was the fluctuating temperature of her skin. One minute she felt frigid, the next, hot and flushed. If this was a fever, then the sixteen-year-old was doomed. They left her drained and often weak, and Mamoru would be sure to notice the change in behavior.
This night has to be perfect! I can't ruin it... Usagi swore to herself, putting on a brilliant grin when Mamoru waved and began striding out to meet her. I want to see the date out with a smile. I want everything to be back to normal... I don't want him to be disappointed.
"Mamo-chan!" she squealed, throwing herself into his arms as per usual. Trying, very hard, to act her bubbly self. "Oh, I'm so happy to see you!"
"As am I, Usako," the swoon-inducing baritone responded from high above her. Usagi nestled herself against his chest for a moment, wanting to simply breathe in his scent; memorize it. His death at Galaxia's hand had truly taken a toll on the normally effervescent teen. Every day, she feared exterior circumstances might part them again. Never would the Moon child take their relationship for granted, or forget the simple pleasure of seeing his face light up upon her presence. Life was too short.
When they pulled away, Mamoru wrapped an arm around the dolled up girl and began leading the way. Usagi was content to merely lean against his frame, drawing comfort from the familiarity of his skeletal structure; the way their bodies melded perfectly. In instances like these, time stopped and Usagi forgot there was even a world surrounding them. All worries of fevers and keeping up appearances died when she felt his grasp holding her safe; tethered.
"You're still wearing the ring," Mamoru commented, breaking the comfortable reverie that had fallen. Usagi peered up at him through her lashes, pleased to see love dancing in his midnight orbs. He sounded pleasantly surprised.
"Of course. I hardly ever take it off," Usagi responded, glancing down at the band encircling her appendage. The ring finger...
"Someday soon, I'd like to replace it with a better one," Mamoru said softly, almost to himself. He gazed off into the distance, thoughts drifting on a plane similar to Usagi's.
I anxiously await that day, Mamo-chan... Usagi sidled in closer to him, reaching up on tiptoe to peck his cheek. She wasn't sure how to express her elated emotions. Physically seemed best. Mamoru chuckled.
"Your face... it's so warm..."
Usagi started inwardly. Oh, no! How to field this one?
"Mmm," she breathed shakily. "That's weird. It's so chilly out!"
Mamoru looked down at her concernedly. Crap, wrong thing to say? She blushed. Her sense of temperature had gone out the window tonight.
"It's nippy, but not bad. Here." And then Usagi's heart melted, because her chevalier untangled himself from the tuxedo's outer coat and instead draped it over her shoulders. "Is that better?"
"Much," the blonde answered gratefully, pulling the lapels closer. She frowned, noticing the way her vision tunneled occasionally, like she was viewing life through a kaleidoscope. The road went fuzzy around the edges sometimes, and she stumbled.
"Clumsy me," the girl mumbled, keeping her features averted. Mamoru could spot a lie a mile away. She suddenly felt his fingers twine into her own, then tighten in a squeeze. Usagi connected her blue eyes with his darker hue. His lips were twitching in mirth.
"Gone a year, and you still haven't grown any less a klutz." Usagi felt her cheeks heat up, but he wasn't finished. "Oh, Usako... I love you so much. Don't ever change, okay? Total grace means the end of my career."
"Well, you wouldn't have any need for me to swoop in at the nick of time if you never tripped again, right? And I rather like my job of saving pretty maidens in distress. I'm quite fond of the mask and tuxedo too."
Usagi giggled. "Just so long as I'm the only maiden. You're my knight in shining armor."
Dinner was an extravagant affair, but unfortunately for Usagi, she did not get to experience it the way her stomach would've if she were healthy. It was around this time that Mamoru began suspecting something was off in the girl. When Tsukino Usagi merely nibbles on her food, and there is a noticeable lack of animalistic devouring happening, one must wonder if pigs are soon to fly. So uncharacteristic was it that Mamoru laid down his fork and inquired,
"Darling... I have to ask. Is everything okay?"
"Oh... oh yes! Yes, o-of course," Usagi said faux-brightly, shoving a couple spoonfuls of the tasty victual into her mouth to prove her spanking well-being. All the while her poor tummy protested... She resisted a strong urge to cringe in revulsion, which would have been a dead giveaway. Tsukino Usagi never scoffed at food. Mamoru didn't appear convinced.
"Usako, you've hardly touch your plate. Are you sure you're not ill, or...?"
Usagi sighed. She felt very bad for worrying him so. It was obvious he knew she was playing him for a fool now. "Truthfully... I- I'm a little nauseous. Nothing to concern yourself over! I'm just... not hungry."
"Do you want to go home?" Mamoru pressed, and Usagi tried to measure his expression. Would he be angry? The meal and seating had cost a lot to procure... As if sensing this, Mamoru reassured, "I won't be mad, Usako. Far from it. I just want you to be happy. Money's not an issue. We can have a romantic walk back to your house, if you'd like, and then raincheck the rest of the date for another time."
Usagi was a little embarrassed when her eyes flooded with tears. He really was too good to be true... I should have just told the truth from the beginning, and saved myself all the trouble... oh Mamo-chan, I don't deserve your love... She nodded her concurrence, and Mamoru smiled gently while chivalrously aiding her out of the chair. Usagi turned and clung to him.
"Don't be. All I care about is your well-being," the ebony-head cut in softly. "Let's get you home."
But ten minutes later, Usagi knew something was wrong. Her balance was worse than ever, and she was tottering drunkenly beside a keenly distressed Mamoru. He was constantly trying to provide her with support, both in words and deed, but she only understood half of it. Cogency was fleeing, and in its wake were alternating chills and hot flashes, along with a dull throbbing in the blonde's brain. Her throat was on fire, and Usagi vaguely realized her stupidity in not listening to the Senshi earlier. All she wanted to do was lie down and block out reality, accompanied with a strong dose of Tylenol. Feverish trembles overtook Usagi's body, and she mumbled something to Mamoru about stopping "the ice". For his part, the transcended Prince wrapped his coat tighter around the little Bunny's body.
"Usako, it's going to be okay... I'll get you home in no time," he soothed, already considering his superhero form. Nausea and dizziness combined and pitched, attempting to thwart Usagi's efforts at respondence. Suddenly, the world tipped.
"M-M-Mamo-chan," Usagi choked out in a mumble, feeling his arms grab at her weak form. She realized consciousness was rapidly escaping as the fever climbed higher. Ooh, she didn't feel well at all! Darkness flitted into her vision, and the last thing Usagi heard was Mamoru frantically calling her name before all went black.
Usagi moaned, jerking under the weight of a cold, wet object. It was swiftly removed, and she blinked multiple times to adjust to the light. When her pupils finally focused, the image the girl was greeted with was not at all the one she'd been expecting.
Her bedroom, maybe.
"R-Rei-chan? What are you doing here?" Usagi inquired thickly, swallowing past a painfully swollen throat. She recognized Mamoru's sparsely decorated bedroom, and came to the epiphany that Mamoru was seated next to her on the mattress... his, apparently. And the man's hand was firmly clutching hers. But that still didn't explain the priestess' presence! Rei grinned grimly.
"What does it look like? Bailing you out of trouble like usual, Odango." Sarcasm frosted the words, but Usagi appraised her friend closely. She knew Rei well enough to see past the facade of irritation, and beyond the self-appointed mask lurked fear; worry. Usagi decided to mollify that immediately.
"I'm fine, Rei-chan."
"You better be! Mamoru-san and I just spent nearly an hour trying to bring your temperature down!"
"An hour?" Usagi gaped, glancing out the window. Night had indeed fallen, and a few stray stars were peeking out of the onyx curtain. The moon was a tiny crescent sliver high in the sky, battling gray clouds twice its current size. She glanced at Mamoru for confirmation, and he supplied it. Another query, still unanswered, gnawed at the sixteen year old. "Rei-chan, how did you know I fainted? Was it a vision, or-"
"No, it was total coincidence, actually," Rei said conversationally, perching herself next to Mamoru and gazing intensely at Usagi. Her tone went markedly somber. "I was just leaving Mako-chan's and had been on my way home when I spotted Mamoru-san carrying your, er, dead weight and looking very anxious. Obviously, the sight was such that I joined him, instead of walking past like a cold-hearted youma... His apartment was closest so we decided to treat you here instead of lugging you all the way home. Your fever was really high, and we..." Rei trailed off awkwardly, hiding her face under black bangs. Though pride prompted her to withhold sharing the information, Usagi knew the miko had been very scared. Usagi imagined she would've felt the same way if, say, Yuuichirou appeared bearing Rei's unconscious figure. She sat up, taking Rei's cold palms and squeezing.
"Thank you, Rei-chan."
"Usagi, how could you be such an idiot?" the raven head shot back, staring intently into Usagi's periwinkle depths. There was no maliciousness in her question, only a desperate pleading. "Mako-chan told me what you said in school. You can't place a simple date before your own health! You were really sick! You should have stayed home!"
Usagi pursed her lips, blinking back moisture behind her lids. "I-I know. But... it was important to me."
"Usako, I'm not as important as your safety," Mamoru told her gently, and he received the full wrath of Usagi's glare.
"Don't say that! Don't ever say that! Of course you're important!"
"But it's only a date. We have a million more ahead of us," the man explained patiently, but he was poleaxed when the blonde seemed to shrivel in on herself, squeezing back tears. "U-Usako? This... isn't just about not missing a date, is it?"
Rei looked from Usagi to Mamoru back to Usagi. She smiled. "It's late, and Usagi seems much better now. I never told my Grandpa where I was going, and I'm sure he's worried. I should get back to the shrine." She stood up, and pinned Mamoru with the full force of her obsidian warning eyes. "You'll get her home very soon, won't you, Mamoru-san?"
He inclined his head, stifling humor at her protective display. "Of course. Once we finish talking, I'll take her straight there."
Rei nodded. "Good. Bye, Mamoru-san." She pivoted to face the ill blonde, who recoiled then relaxed when no harsh admonishments flew. Instead, Rei reached out and, in what some might classify as a loving gesture, tucked a few stray golden strands behind Usagi's ear. "And you will call me the minute you get home, got it?"
Usagi nodded, then started in surprise when the priestess delivered a quick kiss to the Moon Princess' forehead. "Don't scare me like that again. And if I so much as see you sneeze in my presence tomorrow, I'm going to march you straight home... school be damned!"
"Yes m'am," Usagi giggled. Rei could be frighteningly obsessive sometimes. And Usagi didn't even want to know how Rei intended to monitor the teen's health while in school... though the sun-kissed blonde wouldn't put stalking past her. Rei nodded militarily, and Usagi couldn't help but salute. Then the ebony-head twirled on her foot, sauntering condescendingly from the room (hey, there was a reputation to uphold here!)... but not before winking at Mamoru. Quiescence floated in once the door shut. Usagi sighed, meeting the inquiring midnight twins apprehensively.
"You want to know why I was so staunchly against cancelling, don't you?" she broached in a little voice, and Mamoru touched her cheek.
"It would help me understand tonight, yes," he admitted, hoping to impart some serenity into the situation by caressing the tense hand in his. "Whatever it is, don't be ashamed. I'm listening."
"Well... I thought... you might be, you know... mad," Usagi whispered, fiddling with the sheets and not daring to meet Mamoru's countenance. "The restaurant reservations cost so much, and-"
She was interrupted by a bark of laughter. "Usako, that is the most insane notion I've ever heard!"
Usagi smiled ever-so-slightly, quipping, "Perhaps. But love does breed insanity, or so they say."
Mamoru rubbed the pad of his thumb over a tear that was tracing a fine, glistening trail down Usagi's cheek. He was too perceptive for his own good... "This isn't about money either, is it, Usako?"
"No," the sixteen year old bit out miserably. "I... I just wanted us to... go back to normal. The way it was before; before you left for America and got k-killed. I was afraid, foolishly, of... of losing you all over again. Wondering if this was my last chance, you know? I'm still... in disbelief. I'm not quite sure you're real yet, or if this is just some wonderful dream before I wake up. Open my eyes, and find myself back in Galaxia's lair, watching her show off your star seed... Mamo-chan, I can't... I can't-"
Usagi was silenced when a finger touched her lips. Mamoru leaned forward, nose inches from her own. "I'm never going to leave you again, Usako. Never."
"There are plenty of good colleges in Japan. I realized, sitting in my plane seat, that I couldn't follow through. America is so far; so lonely without your light; your smile... And a year is too long to go without ever seeing your beautiful face," Mamoru explained, expression never wavering.
"But Harvard is your dream!" Usagi protested.
"No, becoming a doctor is my dream. But I don't need Harvard to study medicine. Japan boasts universities of equal value, you know... ones closer to home, so I can still see you every week."
"I still can't help feeling like I weigh you down. I'm... a burden; I know that."
"But Usako, you misunderstand... you are also my dream. And what better way to fufill both than remaining in Japan?"
"I- I guess," Usagi agreed reluctantly, though her belligerent visage begged to differ. It was obvious she still felt like a millstone around Mamoru's neck. He chuckled cheerily.
"Maybe I can't convince you today... you are, after all, still suffering from a fever-"
Usagi tried to argue, affronted, but Mamoru would have none of that.
"You'll see, though. We're going to make it work. And I'll be by your side, protecting you and loving you until the very end," the man swore. Suddenly, he whipped out a rose and the white tuxedo shimmered. It was fast replaced by the more familiar black, complete with the infamous white mask and onyx tophat. Usagi gasped, caught off guard when she was suddenly swept into his strong arms.
"W-what... what are you doing, Mamo-chan?" Usagi laid her yellow crown against Tuxedo Kamen's chest, relishing in the soothing vibrations and steady heartbeat whilst he crooned:
"The knight in shining armor is taking his pretty maiden home, of course."
She couldn't help it. Peals of laughter escaped Usagi's lips like a bell. "Oh... all right, Tuxedo Kamen-sama. But my knight had best de-transform before reaching my door, or he'll give Mama a coronary!"
"True," the caped crusader concurred. And then he leapt into the night with his precious cargo, bounding into the distance until the pair were nothing but a small speck against fading moonlight.
A/N: Siggghh. Oh, what a delicious romantic vignette! Took me a couple days, but the plot was well-worth it! Hope everyone was as enamored with this snapshot as I was. Please review and grace me with feedback; it's the only way I know people are enjoying the fics... It'll only take a minute, I promise!