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Chapter Four

*yanks Elios away from kana and kii* don't EVER take him away from me again! *cries and clings to Elios* They didn't hurt you, did they? *suddenly looks around* I dedicate this to the rabid fans. Who knew I could write a chapter in one day?

- - -

""Touch the dawn,
Reach for the rainbow,
Become the colors.""

- - -

Mamoru suddenly shot up out of bed, breathing heavily. He looked about the dim room, his eyes adjusting to the dark and slowly taking in his surroundings. Running a shaky hand through his tousled hair, he stood and made his way over to the window.

'Had it all been a dream?' Mamoru thought to himself, as he stared out at the setting sun. It seemed so real, so vivid that he might have actually believed the events of the past week really happened.

He padded across the room in his stocking feet, planning to fix himself a soothing cup of tea and a call to Usagi to calm his nerves. As Mamoru entered the other room, he was suddenly greeted with an all too familiar figure.

"Mamoru, you had me so worried! Your father called me at home and said that you left work without saying a word to anyone. I rushed right over here to make sure you were all right. What's wrong, sweetheart?" Nagisa gazed at him with worry etched in her expression.

Mamoru sighed loudly. This was no dream.

It was a never-ending nightmare.

"You're refusing to go into work?" Nagisa exclaimed in disbelief. "But why? What am I going to tell your father?"

"I can't get anything accomplished there," he replied, sipping quietly at his tea. "Hokori-san insists that I work together with Usa...Tsukino-san," he caught himself, "and I just can't seem to get anything done when I'm in the same room with her."

"Ah," Nagisa smiled knowingly. "You're attracted to her, aren't you?"

Mamoru nearly choked on his tea, but said nothing. This only convinced Nagisa more. "I'm right, aren't I?"

He shook his head. "I can't be attracted to her because we work together... and she's too damn cold and professional! I don't know how anyone could stand to be around her for more than 5 minutes without wanting to throttle her!"

Nagisa laughed. "Oh my, this is past simple attraction. You're completely gone on her. How long has this been going on?"

Mamoru stared at her, wondering how she could see through him like that so easily. "You wouldn't exactly believe me if I told you."

"I'm your mother, of course I'll believe you."

Shaking his head, Mamoru sighed and pushed away his empty teacup. "You didn't believe me when I tried to tell you before." Nagisa frowned. "You're not talking about your silly little notion that you've been alone for the last 17 years, are you? What does this have to do with your co-worker?"

"I told you you wouldn't understand."

Nagisa reached across the table and laid her hand on top of Mamoru's. "Tell me anyway. I promise I'll listen."

He didn't move away. "For the last 17 years, the only life I had ever known was being alone. I had no memory of my childhood but I still managed to make a life for myself, and I didn't accept any pity for what I had lost. I met Usagi about 5 years ago, and she completely changed me. At first we constantly fought, but over time we got used to each other, and before I knew it, we were inseparable.

"Then one morning last week I wake up, and all of that's been taken away from me, and replaced with you and Hokori-san, claiming to be my parents. Suddenly I have thousands of new memories, but I still remember the old ones at the same time. I don't understand why I'm the one having to go through this."

"I'm sorry."

For what?"

Nagisa wiped a stray tear away from her cheek. "Because you had to go through this 'other life' all alone. We should have been there for you."

Mamoru's eyes widened. "You-you believe me?" She nodded. "It seems strange for me to believe it, but for some reason, I can't deny what you've told me."

He smiled. "Arigatou."

"So you knew Tsukino-san before, but now, she doesn't remember you?"

"She knows me," Mamoru corrected her, "but she doesn't remember 'us.' I tried to convince her the other day."

"And what happened?"

"She slapped me."

Nagisa winced. "Sounds like you got your techniques from your father. No wonder you don't want to go back into work." He nodded. "I'm not ready to face her yet. She won't listen to me."

"Then it's a good thing you came to me," Nagisa grinned brightly. "I have a few tricks up my sleeve that ought to grab her attention."

Mamoru strolled into the office bright and early the next morning, even beating Hokori-san. As he walked into the office he shared with Usagi, he wasn't a bit surprised to see her already there, deep engrossed in the contents of a file.

"Ohayo, Tsukino-san," he called out to her, making his way to his desk. She made a small noise in reply but didn't look up.

He smiled. "Don't I deserve more of a greeting than that?"

Usagi dropped her pen on the desk forcibly, looked up and flashed Mamoru a fake smile. "Ohayo, Chiba-san. I wasn't expecting to see you here today."

"Oh really? And why not?"

She removed her glasses, and rubbed her eyes. "After your little show the other day, I honestly think you wouldn't come near this office." Mamoru raised his eyebrows. "That's what you think."

Usagi glared at him. "Never mind. Let's just try to get something accomplished today."

"I plan to," he replied, but he didn't sit down at his desk. Instead, Mamoru walked over to Usagi's desk and placed the palms of his hands on the edge, just staring at her. With a sigh, she threw down her pen again and stared up at him. "What do you want now, Chiba-san?"

He cracked a smile. "I want you to go out with me."

Her eyes widened twice their size. "Are you INSANE? For one thing, it's against company policy, and two, what makes you think I'd ever go out with you?"

"Because I'm......cute?"

Usagi almost threw her pen in Mamoru's face. "Ha! Keep on dreaming then, Chiba-san, because it'll never happen."

Mamoru turned around and leaned on the edge of her desk, looking nonchalantly around the room. "Try relaxing once in a while, Odango Atama."

She froze. "What did you just call me?"

"You heard me."

Usagi slowly stood up from her desk and came around to the front so she could face him. He could see the blood rushing to her face in anger and the veins threatening to pop. "No one," she said dangerously quiet, "gets away with calling me that and lives!" Suddenly she leapt at Mamoru, intending to claw his eyes out. "How in the world do you even know about that stupid nickname?"

He laughed loudly, fighting off her flailing hands easily. "You can do better than that, can't you, Odango?" Mamoru teased. Usagi scowled and tried to slap him again.

At that moment Mamoru caught both of Usagi's arms and pinned them to her sides. Her eyes widened as he advanced on her, their faces getting closer and closer. "You know this is so against company policy," she mumbled.

Mamoru could feel the heat rising between them as he pulled Usagi in. "Damn the company policy. Sometimes you're just too professional for your own good." Usagi gave him a quirky smile. "I like being professional, thank you very much."

He was about to close the remaining gap between them when the door suddenly opened and Chiba Hokori boomed a loud 'Ohayo' to both of them. Quick as a flash, Usagi was out of his arms and back at her desk, organizing some loose papers. Mamoru groaned audibly and turned back to his own work, kicking himself as he went. But before he sat down, he looked once more at Usagi. "So you'll think about what I asked, right?"

Usagi's head whipped up, her sparkling blue eyes gazing firmly at Mamoru. He swore he could see a tiny bit of blush in her cheeks. "What did you ask again?"

"If you would go out with me."

She looked away, but for a split second he thought he saw a hint of a smile appear. "We'll see."