I can't believe I got this done while I should have been studying for my finals... *whistles innocently* a big thanks to the ladies willing to beta this for me so late last night. ^_^ Enjoy!
- - -
angels sleep, but only for today
close your eyes, make a wish
tomorrow it would fade
touch the dawn, forget eternity
but never fear, for I will be here with you
every step of the way
- - -
"I can't believe you actually convinced me to do this."
"I didn't twist your arm or anything. If you didn't want to come, you should have said something."
She shot him a look. "You probably tuned me out after the first hundred times or so."
"Just give me a chance. What makes you think I'm so bad anyway?"
"Because you're being so obnoxious. I know I'm probably going to regret this," she sighed.
Mamoru chuckled. "Glad you're starting to see it my way."
The night had started out rather peacefully. Mamoru had been on edge ever since the day Usagi finally said she would go out with him, though she protested fairly loudly before actually giving in. He picked her up an hour before, commenting on her lovely deep blue dress that brought out the depths of her eyes. She always knew how to dress fashionably.
He wanted this night to be perfect, so he could show Usagi just how much he cared about her. He had to do something to help her remember. So far, nothing was jogging her memory. Certain phrases and objects that she would normally understand meant nothing to her. Inwardly, Mamoru sighed. He needed a Plan B.
But where could he find a Plan B at the last minute?
The wheels continued to turn in his head as he pulled out the chair from the table for Usagi. Reservations at one of the more popular restaurants in Azabu seemed to impress her, though she didn't show it. He took the seat across from her, giving her a gentle smile as he sat down. "I've heard some good things about this place."
She smiled back, her tiny diamond earrings sparkling as she looked around the dimly lit room. "It definitely is beautiful." Her eyes strayed to the back of the room where the floor was cleared of all tables and chairs. "What's that space for?"
Mamoru grinned. "Oh, didn't I tell you? They offer dancing here as well." Usagi's eyes widened, and a small suspecting grin flitted upon her lips. "You conveniently forgot that fact, didn't you?"
She shook her head. "Don't expect anything extra from me, Chiba-san. You're lucky you got this far." Mamoru tried to play innocent. "Do you think I would try anything? I thought you knew me better than that."
Usagi threw him a look. "I really don't know you all that well. We've been working together for nearly a year but we always talk business. I guess this is a good time to talk personal."
Mamoru's eyebrows shot up. "Are you the same Tsukino Usagi that I work with? The one who insists upon being so professional every day that it would probably kill you to be casual for even an hour?"
"I know when I'm being mocked."
He shook his head. "Look, I just want to have a nice evening with you, without any of our work interfering. Is that too much to ask, Usagi-san?"
Her eyes narrowed. "I thought I told you before that--"
"That you wouldn't allow me to speak to you so informally, I know, I know," Mamoru interrupted. "But we're not at work. Would it kill you to have me call you by your given name? I want you to call me by mine."
Usagi sighed. "All right, but just for tonight..... Mamoru-san."
He grinned brightly. Finally they were getting somewhere! Only 999 more steps to complete, and maybe they'd be back to the way they were... but damn, she was a hard egg to crack.
The waiter came and went, giving them a few more minutes to chat before their food arrived. In those few moments, Usagi began to open up to Mamoru, allowing him a glimpse of the woman that he loved so much. He wanted so badly to let her know of his feelings, but with the way things had been going, common sense told him it was better to wait.
"You were right, Mamoru-san, the food here is really good!" Usagi exclaimed as she ate her entrée. Mamoru chuckled lowly, watching her relish her food. There were some things about her that would never change. She stopped eating for a moment and looked at him. "Are you all right? You're not eating."
Oops. She had caught him staring again. "I...uhh... it's fine," he fumbled, cutting his steak and popping a piece into his mouth. The food here really was delicious. He made a mental note to come here in the future.
Halfway through the meal, Mamoru caught Usagi staring at the wooden dance floor again. Setting down his fork quietly, he reached over and took her hand in his, startling her out of her reverie. "Wouldst the lady care to join me for a dance?" She blushed. "I don't know, I've never been a very good dancer..." Seeing him pout made her laugh. "All right, I accept your offer. But don't say I didn't warn you."
Taking her by the arm, Mamoru led Usagi out to the floor, took her in his arms and began to sway gently to the slow music playing in the background. This was the way things should have been, the way they always were... this was home.
Usagi shifted in his arms, gently laying her head upon his shoulder. He caught sight of the troubled look on her face. "What's wrong, Usagi-san?" he asked quietly. She didn't answer for a moment. "I don't know... it's like I've been here before, even though I know I never have. Like I've danced with you before."
"But you haven't?"
She shook her head. "Yes.... no.... I'm not sure. I don't remember." She tugged on a loose strand of hair. "Something must be wrong with me. I haven't been sleeping very well lately."
Mamoru looked down at her as she pulled away slightly. "But you're always so early to the office. You still beat me even when I woke up at an unearthly hour just to see if I could beat you."
This made her smile. "I have nothing else to do but be early to work. My work is my life."
"I was right. You are too professional. Don't you know it's unhealthy to work too much?" he teased. Usagi stared up at him, concern shining in her eyes. "Am I really that horrible, Mamoru-san? Do I make it seem that all I ever do is work?" A lone tear trailed down her cheek. "All I ever wanted was to be successful."
He pulled Usagi close to him, whispering and reassuring her. This was the first he'd ever seen her unsure of herself. It was almost like she had suddenly become the girl when he first met her. "Don't worry, Usagi," he whispered in her ear. "You'll always be successful. Just don't forget that there are more important things than work."
She sniffled and he dug into his pocket for a handkerchief. Mamoru dabbed at her teary eyes with it, winning a slight smile from her. "Thank you, Mamoru-san. This is a side of you I don't think I've ever seen." He grinned and winked. "Well, there's plenty more where that came from. I'd be glad to show it to you all the time."
Usagi looked at him incredulously, and playfully slapped him on the arm. "I told you not to press your luck with me, mister. You're fortunate you even got this far." Mamoru leaned in dangerously close. "I know," he murmured, just inches away from her face. She blinked, unable to move away. "Who are you, Chiba Mamoru? Why do you do this to me?"
They stood like that a few moments longer, just staring at one another, until Usagi blinked and stepped away. "It's late, Mamoru-san," she mumbled, walking off the dance floor and grabbing her purse. "They're probably waiting on us to close up." He nodded, grabbed their coats and escorted her out of the restaurant.
"So tell me truthfully, Usagi-san. Did you enjoy yourself tonight?" She smiled brightly and nodded, standing next to her apartment door. "Surprisingly, yes. I wasn't really expecting formality from you."
Mamoru grinned. "What were you expecting? Take out and a rented movie?"
"It....crossed my mind," she admitted. He laughed. "Glad you think so highly of me." Usagi suddenly looked horrified. "No, that's not what I meant!" He took a step closer to her. "I know. I was just teasing. You're different than the person I picked up tonight. You look relaxed."
"I am relaxed," she confessed. "I haven't felt so unrestrained for a long time. I guess I have you to thank for that, Mamoru-san." She looked up at him and smiled. "So I guess this is good night, right?"
Mamoru returned the smile. "So tomorrow it's back to formality, ne?" Usagi shrugged her shoulders. "I suppose, even though I don't mind so much any more. After only one night I feel like I've known you for years."
'You have, Usako... if only you could remember...' He took her hands in his again. "Thank you for going out to dinner with me. Maybe we'll do this again?"
"Maybe..." she trailed off, then burst into laughter. "Now I know why they always say the doorstep is always awkward." Usagi leaned forward and impulsively hugged Mamoru. "I'll see you tomorrow, all right?" With that she slipped inside her apartment, smiling as she closed the door.
"YES!" he cheered triumphantly to himself. Things were looking up after all.
Usagi wasn't in the office the next morning when Mamoru arrived. This immediately worried him after their talk the night before. She never missed a day of work and it wasn't like her to come in late.
Nagoya refused to tell him anything. "I told you, Chiba-san, I'm not at liberty to give out personal information." Mamoru nearly screamed. "Fine. Tell my... tell Hokori-san that I'm leaving early today. And if he doesn't accept that for an answer, then tell him I'll talk with him later." Then he ran out of the building, leaving a stunned Nagoya there to wonder what had just happened.
Mamoru couldn't remember when he had ever run that fast before. Relying on his memory, he retraced the way to Usagi's apartment but faltered when he realized he didn't know which number she lived at. Scanning the call list outside the door, he gave a sigh of relief when he found her name. Pressing the call button next to 5E, he waited anxiously for a response, but being the impatient person he was, he pushed the button repeatedly.
Finally a rather weak voice came through on the other line. "Whoever you are, you've picked a bad time to call."
Silence. "Mamoru-san? What are you doing here?"
"I was worried when you didn't show up to work this morning."
A couple of hoarse coughs followed. "Well, you can probably tell that I'm not feeling my best. I appreciate your concern, but I'll be fine."
He sighed. "Onegai, Usagi-san, can I please come up?"
There was another moment of silence. "Aren't you afraid of getting sick?"
"No, I just want to help nurse you back to health."
".... well, if you're sure..." There was a series of clicks, and Mamoru slipped through the unlocked door.
"I hope you're not too shocked at my appearance," Usagi said, trying to laugh but ended up in a fit of coughing instead. Mamoru immediately led her over to the couch where she collapsed in a cloud of used tissues.
He smiled. "That's not important, Usagi. You just need to get better." Walking into her kitchen, he filled the kettle with water from the sink and set it on the stove to boil. "I'll make you some tea. That will help a little."
"Mamoru-san, can I ask you something? It's kind of personal," Usagi said while blowing her nose for the umpteenth time. He came out from the kitchen and stood at the end of the couch. "What is it, Usagi?"
She clutched an unused tissue in her hands. "Well... I was just wondering... we've been working together for a year, right? So why are you so nice now? You weren't like this before."
Mamoru stiffened. This was something new to him. He didn't know how he had acted before either... but how could he tell Usagi that? 'Oh, by the way Usako, you don't realize it, but you and I are hopelessly in love.'' Oh yeah. That would go over REAL well.
"Oh, gomen. My mind was somewhere else for a moment," he apologized. "I'm not sure why things changed all of a sudden. Maybe it's because I wanted to get to you on another level than just our work. I hope you don't mind."
Usagi smiled. "No, not really. It was just a sudden change. I was pretty professional and so were you."
"We can still be professional," Mamoru replied, sitting down on the couch next to her, "but we just don't have to take it so seriously." She nodded. "I wonder if that's why I got sick. It's either that or something I ate last night."
His eyes widened, but before he could reply, the kettle began to whistle loudly. "You think it might have been something from the restaurant?" he asked as he dropped the tea bag into the mug.
"I don't know... but I just got sick so suddenly, so it seemed like a logical explanation." Mamoru brought the warm mug over to her, and she took a sip from it.
Mamoru placed a gentle hand on her forehead. "You're just a little warm. I think you caught one of those 24 hour bugs, but you'll live." She giggled. "Thanks for your diagnosis, Mamoru-sensei," she teased.
He leaned over and hugged her. "I'll stay until you fall asleep." Usagi's eyes widened, suddenly glistening with tears. "Thank you, Mamoru-san. You're a good friend." Having finished off the tea, Usagi leaned back into the sofa pillows and closed her eyes. A few minutes later, he heard her breathing deepen and he knew she had fallen asleep. Getting up from the couch, Mamoru brushed the stray bangs out of her face, then impulsively leaned over and softly kissed her forehead.
"Sleep well, Usako..."