Chapter 8 The Return of Darien - Part 1
Age Rating: 7 +
Tuesday passed quietly. Although Serena didn't seem as sad and depressed as she had been the day before, she still refused to talk to Amy or Lita and spent the day close to Travis. That afternoon, Travis, Serena and Rini decided to go see how the arcade was doing.
Serena got even quieter as they got closer to the place of her friends betrayal. Even though she knew they were being manipulated, it didn't make the memories any easier to bear. As they got closer, they saw a group gathered in front of the arcade.
Although they couldn't hear what was going on, Serena immediately saw Raye and Mina as part of the group. Her steps got even slower, but Travis and Rini were interested in what was going on and pulled her closer. Then they were there. Andrew was in the middle of the group, obviously with some big announcement.
He started to speak. "Early this morning, as I was cleaning up, I got a phone call. It was Darien. He's alive and well. He was trapped in some caves on Michael's property and just got out."
Andrew's news created a buzz among the people gathered around him. He had seen Serena and Reenie join the group and was interested to see what their reaction would be. Serena's face lit up. She turned to Travis. "Did you hear that? He finally showed up. I was really starting to get worried about him."
Raye and Mina were also watching Serena. They saw the relief and joy in her face and heard her words to Travis. "You mean, you knew he was alive?" Raye asked without thinking.
"I knew he was alive." Serena answered before she turned around and saw who was talking. Then her face lost all expression as she looked at the two girls. She turned back to Travis and started talking excitedly to him and Rini as she obviously ignored the other two.
Rini was jumping up and down in delight as well. "Will he be home soon?" She asked Andrew. "We were really starting to wonder why he hadn't called."
"No, Rini," he answered. "He said he was going to stay for about another week."
"Thanks for the information, Andrew." Travis called out as the three left.
Rini piped up, "And tell him we miss him if he calls back, okay?"
"How did she know?" Raye was asking Mina. Mina didn't answer. She was still watching Serena as she walked away. *She wouldn't even look at us* she thought despairingly.
Travis and Rini gradually noticed that Serena hadn't taken part in the conversation for a few minutes. Reenie looked up at her face and then looked around to make sure no one else was in listening distance. "Mommy?" she asked.
"Yes, sweetheart?" Serena responded absentmindedly. "Why aren't you happier that Daddy's alive and not captured?" Rini asked. Travis looked up quickly. Serena didn't look all that happy. In fact, she looked.. angry? "Serena, what's wrong?".
"I was just thinking about Darien being okay and it suddenly hit me that I was mad at him." Serena responded in a kind of shocked voice.
"Huh? Why are you mad at him?" Rini asked, echoing Travis's thought.
"Look, all this time, he's been mean to me because he was trying to protect me, right?" Serena said as she continued walking. She didn't even wait for the others to nod. "But he had no right!" She turned suddenly and looked at them. "His job might be to protect me, but he had no right to make a decision like that! He made my life a living hell, to try to protect me. He never even tried to explain. He might be my protector, but that is not the only thing he is to me. He's the man I love, and I have the right to help decide something that would have this much impact on our relationship. 'Our' relationship. Not his alone." She shook her head. "I'm not making much sense, am I?"
"I think you are," Travis said slowly. "He's been treating you more like a person too young to make important decisions than an adult who has the right to choose. And it can't continue like that if you're going to have a meaningful relationship."
"I know I don't always act like an adult, or even a fourteen year old, but how can he truly love me, as the woman he wants to marry, if he thinks of me as a child? I just wish he could feel what I felt, at least for a little while. Of course, now I am acting like a child, wanting revenge for a slight." Serena slowly turned around and started walking again.
"She's right, he has been really mean to her. He didn't have to be 'that' mean." Rini said quietly to Travis.
"I think it would do her a world of good to be able to get her revenge on him like that." Travis said thoughtfully. "After all, he does deserve it."
"I suppose, as long as its not too bad." Rini said. She loved her father, but she was the one who had had to watch as Serena cried herself to sleep after another fight with him. She had seen how much her mother had been hurt by it all. "What should we do?" Rini said, dragging Travis to catch up with Serena.
"What do you mean?" Serena asked, after she was shocked out of her thoughts.
"We agree, Daddy needs to be taught a lesson. So what are we going to do?" Rini said.
"I don't think we really need to do anything." Travis said thoughtfully. "Most of the people around here think that you're my girlfriend and we're not planning on telling anyone the truth for another two weeks. So why don't we just let him believe the same thing everyone else is. If you think the jealousy will be enough of a revenge."
"What makes you think he would be jealous? Maybe he really doesn't love me anymore?" Serena said worriedly.
"If he went to all that trouble to protect you, then he still loves you." Travis said confidently. "He'll be jealous. Will it be enough?"
Serena thought about it for a long moment. "If what he feels is anything like what I felt when I thought he had a new girlfriend then it will be enough." She stopped and dropped to her knees. "Are you sure about this, Rini? I don't want to hurt you."
"It's okay, I understand, and I think he deserves it too." Rini replied. "And..." she looked up at Serena for a long moment before continuing. "My mommy always called me 'Small Lady'."
"Well, Rini," Serena said, gathering her into a hug. "What do you think of going for an ice cream? I could really use a triple hot fudge sundae." "Sounds good to me," Travis said smiling down at the two. "Me too," Rini agreed, as Serena stood up and Reenie took their hands to continue on their way.
The next five days passed fairly quietly. There were only two fights with droids and the Scouts managed to destroy one of them without any help from the Sailors of the Sun, although it did cost them a great deal of energy. In fact, it cost them so much energy that they were barely able to make a dent in the droid the next night.
Sailor Mercury was already down when Sailor Sun and Sailor Sol got there. This time they didn't wait and watch, because it was obvious already that their help was needed. The droid they were fighting was able to throw fire and all of the Scouts showed signs of being singed. Sailor Mars was trying to fight fire with fire. "MARS CELESTIAL FIRE SURROUND!" she called out, but the droid shrugged it aside. "JUPITER THUNDERCLAP ZAP!" was met with a ball of fire that caused it to explode far from the droid.
"SOLAR FLARE!" Sailor Sol called as he threw himself close to the droid. The droid noticed it was made mostly of fire and so didn't even bother trying to dodge. The attack did manage to hurt it, much to its surprise, but not enough to disable it for even a few seconds. Sailor Mercury seemed to be the only one with a power that would seriously hurt this droid, but one look at her confirmed she wasn't up to it.
"SOLAR CORONA WALL!" and the fire wall went up just in time to stop several balls of fire from hitting Venus and Jupiter. Venus was trying to get up the power to attack again, but was having a hard time. She along with most of the other Scouts were drained of almost all their power. While the wall was shielding two of the Scouts, Sailor Mars was outside of its influence and it soon became obvious that she was 'not' immune to fire. When Sailor Sun saw this she got mad and suddenly knew what to do. She dropped the wall, fell to her knees and called out "SUPER". She stretched her hands above her head and yellow flames glowed on the tops of her palms. Then she just sat there.
The droid looked at her in surprise, as did those Scouts who were able to. Even Sailor Sol stared at her, until her pose awoke knowledge in him. He ran over to where she was kneeling. As he ran he called out one word "NOVA". Flames started curling around his hands as well. He stood behind her and their hands grasped each other. "ANNIHILATE!" They screamed together. Flames, light and power poured from their joined hands at the droid. Its immunity from fire allowed it to survive almost a second of the devastating barrage, before it became dust.
Sailor Sol barely kept himself on his feet as Sailor Sun sagged to the floor. They rested for a few seconds as Venus checked on Mars and Mercury and called out that they would be okay. Sailor Jupiter came towards them. "Thank you." she said quietly. "We would probably have been toast if you hadn't been here." She looked around quickly. "And if you see the Princess will you tell her I'm sorry?" Sailor Sol nodded as he helped his sister to her feet. They walked outside and disappeared.
Saturday Afternoon The Tokyo International Airport a young man of about twenty stepped off the plane, got his luggage and passed through customs. He went to his apartment to drop off his luggage and get changed, then left to go for a run. The long plane trip had made him stiff and he felt the need to work it out and remind himself that he was home.
As he was jogging to the park, he noticed a young woman he knew leaning on the top of the wall looking down. He stopped to speak to her. "Hello, Amy." Amy jumped, startled. She turned around and stared for a moment. "Darien?"
"You look like you just saw a ghost." he chuckled, remembering the last time he had said that. Amy smiled slightly.
"I hear you almost were." Then she remembered who she had been watching and turned to lead him away.
He didn't take the hint, leaning on the wall to see what she had been watching so intently. He almost smiled as he saw a young girl with meatball-like balls on her head *Serena* he sighed to himself, and another girl with pink hair and a floating ball. *There's Rini. I'm surprised they're together.* Then his face grew blank as he saw the young man they were playing with. All that could be seen from up here was gold blond hair and a lithe body. He and Rini suddenly tackled Serena, and even up here he could hear her laughter as they tickled her.
He turned back to Amy and steadily asked "I take it that is Travis?"
"Yes, Travis Watson, he moved here about three weeks ago." she said quietly.
"Why are you watching them from up here instead of down there?" He asked, trying desperately to get the picture of 'his' Serena with this other boy out of his mind.
"I wouldn't be too welcome down there." she said her voice sad.
"Why not?" Darien asked, surprised, then he thought of something. "Is it because of 'him'?"
It was Amy's turn to look surprised, until she understood what he was thinking. "No, it wasn't anything he's done. He's been nothing but good for her. He's got her doing her homework, getting up on time and even becoming an A-B student. Her parents love him, he eats at their house every morning when he goes to pick her up for school. We think he's one of the best friends she's ever had. And we're happy for her. Because we can't claim that position anymore."
Darien tried to work through that speech. The usually sensible Amy was not talking much sense. What he got first, was that Travis was a really good influence on Serena and her parents liked him. Then he realized what position Amy was talking about. He decided to check and make sure he had understood her correctly.
"You're not her best friends anymore?" he asked, completely shocked. Amy shook her head, with tears threatening to burst forth. "What happened?" he almost yelled.
She turned to him suddenly and for the first time in a very long time, lost complete control of herself. "I DON'T KNOW!" she shouted. She tried to regain control, but wasn't able to. This had been building for a week and she needed to let it out. "It's just as if, once you left, all the traits that are so much a part of Serena started bugging us, all of us. We started yelling at her during fights and blaming everything on her. Then, last Saturday, last Saturday..." she trailed off.
"Last Saturday what?" Darien asked as calmly as he could. He knew it must have been bad from the way she was acting. He had never seen Amy lose her cool like this before, and doubted that anyone else had either.
Amy took a deep breath. "Last Saturday we told her that we didn't want Sailor Moon to fight with us anymore." she said in a rush. Darien just stared at her for a long moment. He shook his head as if that would shake some sense into what she had just said.
Once Amy started, she couldn't stop. "We told her we were tired of having such a clumsy, whining coward as a leader. That we were afraid she would get someone hurt because she was so clumsy. Or because she was always so late to the fights. She was late to that one by the way." Tears were running down her face as she listed their crimes. She turned to Darien again. "She didn't cry," she said in a wondering tone. "She just stood there and looked at us and asked if that was what we really wanted. When we said yes she turned and walked away."
Darien could think of only one word to say. "Why?"
"I 'don't' 'know'. I've been trying to think of a reason and can't. I mean, I know we were all a little jealous of the time she was spending with Travis, and I was jealous that he could get her to do things I couldn't. I had tried to explain that math to her and she never understood, then he comes along out of nowhere and 'he' can make her understand." Amy was starting to regain control of her emotions and think logically about the reasons. Unfortunately, she still couldn't think of a good reason for them to do what they had done. She had certainly been trying for long enough.
She turned back to look at the girl who had been her best friend. Her first friend. Darien leaned on the wall as well. His face grew hard and pain flashed through his eyes as he saw Travis in front of Serena on bended knee, presenting her with a bouquet of wild flowers. It didn't help when he did the same to Rini.
Amy abruptly started speaking again and her voice was full of pain. "Travis came to see us the next day. I've never seen anyone so mad. He said Serena was crying, and had cried herself to sleep the night before. He said he had thought we were her friends, but we obviously weren't because friends don't hurt friends that way. And that he wouldn't let us hurt her again, and for us to just stay away. Artemis agreed. Then he, Artemis, told us why she was late."
At Darien's glance Amy explained what she had been doing. His heart almost stopped in his chest when he heard about Serena's injury. "She's okay, now, right?" he asked concerned.
"As far as we can tell, she's fine. She was favouring her side at the beginning of the week, but she's not anymore. She's also not talking to us. Neither is Luna. Or Rini. They're all mad at us. But Serena did ask the Sailors of the Sun to watch out for us, so maybe she doesn't hate us as much as it sometimes seems."
"The Sailors of the Sun?" Darien asked, too much information being given at once for his brain to assimilate. He looked downward once more, only to jerk his eyes back up, quickly. Not quickly enough, for the sight of Serena and Travis lying next to each other while holding hands had imprinted itself on his eyes.
"Darien!" A voice called out. Rini came running towards him with Luna Ball following after. Darien bent down to pick her up and hug her. He'd missed the little munchkin.
"Hi, munchkin, how you doing?" he asked.
"I'm fine." she answered hugging him. "I'm glad you're back. We'd been starting to get worried when you didn't call, but then you did call, so everything was alright." She pulled back to look him over, "Are you okay? What happened? Why were you missing so long?" she babbled question after question at him. For a short time, his mind had nothing to worry about but answering her.
"Rini?" A voice called out from below them.
"That's Serena, I got to go. I'm glad you're back. I'll come visit one day when Serena and Travis want to be alone, 'kay?" And she got down and ran off, all without having even looked at Amy. And without apparently noticing the effect her last statement had had on Darien.