|← Chapter 3|
The waking morning slowly peaked above the horizon, filtering through slatted windows to find Motoki adding the final touches to the third part of his plan. His eyes ached from staring at the monitor, and his muscles were stiff and tense from lack of movement. With one last click of the mouse he sat back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head as he waited. The progress bar crept across the screen, finally reaching one hundred percent, prompting he computer to spit out one, shiny DVD. Motoki rubbed his hands together, carefully picking up the disc and sliding it into a case for safe keeping.
That evening found Motoki sitting on the step to the foyer, foot tapping impatiently. He pulled his phone from his pocket to check the time – 6:54pm. The shrill ring of the doorbell made him leap from his seat, and he took a deep breath before opening the front door.
“Hi, Motoki!” Usagi smiled, clutching her purse in her hands.
“Hey, come on in.” Motoki held the door, allowing the girl to step inside. He helped her with her jacket, hanging it in a nearby closet.
“Am I the first one here?” she wondered, removing her shoes and neatly placing them side by side.
“You are,” he confirmed, checking the time once more. “Unazuki will be back around nine,” he added, answering her unasked question. “The family room is this way.” Usagi followed Motoki down the hallway, peeking into each room that they passed.
“Your TV is huge,” The blonde cooed upon entering the family room. She adored the cozy feeling the space emitted, from the golden lighting to the oversized couch, complete with fluffed up pillows and a blanket draped over the back.
“Yeah,” Motoki agreed, “my dad always wants the biggest and the best,” he laughed, glancing at the coffee table to ensure that the DVD was still in place. The chime of the doorbell echoed through the house, and Motoki’s anticipation swelled.
“Make yourself at home, and I’ll be right back,” he said, flashing the girl a charming smile as he trotted to the front door already knowing who was on the other side; Mamoru was always right on time.
The two men returned to find Usagi with her hands clasped behind her back, carefully inspecting a shelf filled with pictures. She grinned at the family’s memories, watching Motoki and Unazuki grow through the collection. A twinge of melancholy shot through Mamoru as he noticed her heart-warmed smile – he didn’t have that. He didn’t have family photos to proudly display on the walls of his home, nor had he kept any mementos from his earlier school days.
“You didn’t tell me Usagi would be here,” Mamoru whispered, face paling as he began to panic. He hadn’t seen the girl since he drove her home, and after nearly two days of deliberating what he would do when he saw her next and coming up with no viable answer, he was caught off-guard.
Hearing his voice, Usagi spun around. “Well no one told me you would be here either,” she shot back, heart plummeting to the pit of her stomach. Apparently nothing between them had changed.
“That’s not –” Mamoru sighed, why were things always coming out not how they were intended? “Never mind.” He shook his head, rubbing his face in exasperation.
“Why don’t you two sit down,” Motoki motioned to the couch, playing the gracious host, “get comfortable, and I’ll go order the pizza,” he instructed, pausing briefly, unable to hide his smile. Mamoru eyed his friend carefully as he sat beside the blonde – what was Motoki planning?
“Here, I’ll just put this on,” Motoki mumbled, sliding the DVD into the player and fumbling with the remote. “Be right back!” he called over his shoulder, dimming the lights, and briskly fleeing the room, making sure to close the door.
The black screen gave way to colour, and the pair was soon met with Motoki’s bright smile and corny introduction; it was his first YouTube video. Mamoru groaned at the footage, while Usagi fixated on the television, ready to try anything that would make the disappointment subside. She managed to chuckle at a few of Motoki’s jokes, wondering if Mamoru could tell that her actions were forced.
“I hope we’re not stuck watching these all night,” Mamoru muttered, scowling at the concentration on Usagi’s face, still convinced that the girl had a crush on his best friend.
“They’re not that bad,” Usagi replied diplomatically, giggling softly at Motoki’s exaggerated expressions.
“Yeah, you wouldn’t think so,” Mamoru mumbled, snorting in annoyance.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the girl asked heatedly, pursing her lips and raising her brow, waiting expectantly for his answer.
“It’s obvious that you like him,” he huffed, growing increasingly agitated.
“Oh my god, you are so stupid,” Usagi yelled, frustrated at Mamoru’s insistence that she had a thing for his best friend. Why couldn’t he see? “For the last time, Mamoru-baka, I don’t like Motoki!” Her vehement denial gave Mamoru hope. “I like y-” she stared at him fiercely, but choked on her confession, “someone else,” she finished, burying herself in the plump cushions.
Motoki’s bubbly video faded from the screen, quickly replaced by an awkward shot of Usagi sitting at a table in the arcade partially obstructed by a half-empty glass.
“What is this?” Usagi asked, her face draining of colour.
“You know, you’ve never actually denied liking him.”
Eyes wide with shock, Usagi wanted to do nothing more than disappear, yet she found herself unable to look away. Mamoru furrowed his brow; who were they talking about?
“What is this, an intervention?”
“Well you know what they say, boys always tease girls they like.”
Usagi could feel the embarrassment pricking her skin. Her focus flew frantically around the room, trying desperately to find some way to make it stop.
Mamoru watched her from the corner of his eye, and noticed her beeline gaze; Motoki had left the remote on the table. Usagi lunged forward to grab the controller, but Mamoru beat her to it, holding her back with his arm as he picked it up.
“Do you see Mamoru almost every day?”
“Do you think he’s attractive?”
“I’m not answering that.”
“Turn it off,” she demanded, her heart pounding as she remained trapped on the couch.
“No, I want to see it. You’re talking about me,” Mamoru replied, tucking the remote under his leg.
“I didn’t say yes.”
“Oh, so you’re saying he’s not.”
“I’m not saying that, everyone knows he’s hot.”
“Everyone knows I’m hot?” he repeated, chuckling at the blonde’s cherry stained face.
“Ugh, get over yourself,” Usagi grumbled, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms over her chest.
“Sure, when you admit that you like Mamoru, we can talk about something else.”
“Mamoru,” she pleaded, “turn it off.” Her voice wavered and the dread rose in her throat. She was not ready for him to know. What would she say when he laughed at her? When he wouldn’t comply, Usagi dove for the remote, fighting to pry it from his iron grasp. Mamoru’s jaw clenched at their proximity, the sweet scent of her perfume wreaking havoc on his self-control, as she clambered over his lap to reach her target.
“Just give it to me,” she cried, grabbing wildly.
“He held my hand and I liked it.”
Quickly realizing that he would not relinquish the control, Usagi sprinted to the television in a frenzied search for the outlet. Mamoru was fast on his feet, straining to listen as grabbed her waist and dragged her away. Usagi struggled against his strength, arms flailing in an attempt to break free.
“I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like him.”
“Are you saying that you like Mamoru?”
“A little. …Yes.”
She stopped moving, her lithe frame slumping in defeat. Mamoru slowly let go, and took a step back, trying to process what he had just heard. Usagi timidly turned to face him, unable to read the expression on his face. His heart pounded, and he licked his lips before opening his mouth to speak.
“Please don’t say anything,” Usagi begged, hot tears streaming silently down her face. “Mamoru, I –”
“Usagi,” he interrupted, grabbing her hand and leading her back to the couch. The girl wiped her tears, and gingerly sat beside him, anxiously twisting the ring on her finger. Mamoru leaned forward, elbows placed firmly on his knees as he released a controlled sigh. “Just watch.” He motioned to the screen, all too familiar with what was coming.
“Mamoru, I don’t want to – ”
“Trust me,” he said softly, praying with every fibre of his being that she would accept him.
“Maybe it’s because you have feelings for her?”
“It doesn’t matter if I do. I’ve ruined my chances with her.”
“You do know that this is Usagi we’re talking about, right? She doesn’t hold grudges, she’ll give you another chance. But maybe you should tell her how you feel.”
“Mamoru, what is going on?” Usagi asked, eyes narrowed in confusion. “Is this a joke?” she wondered, raising her brow warily.
“Would you just watch the damn video?” Mamoru snapped, his focus remaining straight ahead, his leg bouncing nervously.
“Okay, geez,” the blonde frowned, sinking back into the couch.
“So basically, you really like her, and don’t know how to tell her.”
“Yeah. She doesn’t get that I’m just messing around when I tease her.”
“What?” she choked, attention darting between Mamoru’s motionless form and the television.
“You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you.”
“It’s all part of my therapy style. Well?”
“Fine, I like Usagi.”
With both confessions out in the open, the screen went black. Overwhelmed, ecstatic, and mortified, the couple remained silent, neither quite knowing what to do next.
“Mamoru, I don’t–” She stopped when their eyes met. “I mean, I never –” She tried to articulate, yet her words would not cooperate. Feeling frustrated, Usagi punched his upper arm.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she yelled, as Mamoru stared at her in shock, rubbing his freshly assaulted skin through the fabric of his shirt. Usagi jumped from her seat, hands balled into fists, unable to control the barrage of emotions. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you?” he growled, rising to his feet and towering over her. Usagi glared at him, nostrils flaring. His height advantage had never caused her to back down before, and it certainly wasn’t going to now.
“Because I thought that you hated me,” she spat, thrusting a pointed finger into his muscular chest. “All you ever do is tease me, calling me Odango all the time, making fun of my hair style and my grades, and you know, I do try really hard and it actually really hu–”
Unwilling to be trapped in another argument, Mamoru moved closer, his fingers roughly tilting her chin as his lips came crashing down on hers. She let out a faint gasp, as her palms flew to his chest in surprise. He trembled under her delicate touch, begging her lips to let him inside. Usagi succumbed to his tirade, her lashes tickling his cheek as her eyes fluttered closed.
The room melted around them, and in that moment they felt like nothing else in the world existed. He pressed his hand on the small of her back, pushing her tightly against him. His amber cologne her senses, and her arms snaked around his shoulders, fingertips softly caressing the silky hair at the nape of his neck. Their minds swam and hearts sang, as they wordlessly worked through months of pent up frustrations and uncertainties.
He pulled back, breaking their connection, and Usagi immediately missed the caress of his velvet lips. Breathing ragging and bodies tingling, the couple remained entangled in their embrace, neither one wanting to return to reality. Mamoru planted a soft kiss on Usagi’s forehead, smiling.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, gently stroking her flushed cheeks.
“Me too.” She lifted her heavy lids, quickly drowning in his stormy eyes. “So what now?” she asked timidly, fearing the worst as she absentmindedly fiddled with a button on his shirt.
“Well, we could try this not fighting thing,” Mamoru suggested, relishing in the comfort and warmth that she radiated.
“I’d like that,” Usagi beamed.
“We could also try, you know, going out.” He raised his brow, intently watching for her reply.
“Why Mamoru, are you asking me out on a date?” She batted her lashes, smiling at him coyly.
“Are you saying yes?”
Standing on her tip toes, Usagi gave him a quick peck, “Yes.”
Upon hearing a thud and a clamouring of hushed voices on the other side of the door, the pair knew that their time was up.
“Think we should open the door and let them in?” Mamoru asked, shaking his head.
“Do we have to?” Usagi sighed, her lip protruding in an exaggerated pout.
“YES YOU HAVE TO,” Minako yelled from behind the door, turning the knob and pushing her way through. The four friends stumbled into the room, giddy and excited.
“Motoki told us everything,” Ami explained, adjusting her glasses and straightening her skirt.
“We are so happy for you guys,” Makoto grinned, as Minako stood to her side, fiercely nodding in agreement.
“It’s about time,” Rei added, unable to keep the smirk from pulling at her mouth.
“Does our new couple have any words to share with our viewers?” Motoki asked, stepping through the group to the front, camera up and pointed at the pair.
“Motoki.” Mamoru looked at the blond pointedly, “I’m still going to kill you.”
The blond swallowed nervously, and flashed a sheepish smile. “Ten second head start?” Mamoru glanced at his watch, and Motoki took off, sprinting down the hallway.
“I love you,” Mamoru whispered in Usagi’s ear, his arms wrapped around her as they lay in bed, attention mildly focused on the movie that play on the television. She smiled, her hands over top his, holding them in place, as he planted soft kisses along the side of her neck.
“Mama?” A small voice echoed through the house. Two heads turned to see a small, pink haired girl stumble into the room, tiredly rubbing her eyes. Mamoru paused the movie, and Usagi reluctantly left his warm embrace.
“Chibi-usa? What’s wrong, sweetie?” She took hold of her daughter’s outstretched hand.
“I can’t sleep,” she mumbled, chewing on her bottom lip. “Can I stay with you and Daddy?” she asked, her large cinnamon eyes wavering.
“Of course.” She lifted the young girl onto to the bed, who scrambled to her father’s side.
“What are you watching?” she wondered, as Mamoru helped her get under the covers.
“Just an old movie,” he replied, glancing over at his wife as he hit play.
“The one from Uncle Motoki?” Chibi-Usa sighed disappointedly, nose crinkling at the shaky footage and muffled sound.
“That’s the one,” Usagi laughed, tenderly brushing the bangs from her daughter’s face.
The movie rolled on, passing through awkward confessions to a surprise proposal, and magnificent wedding. While he never did become a famous YouTube star, Motoki did end up being the unofficial videographer of the group, his camera always on hand during special occasions.
With the loves of his life soundly asleep, Mamoru turned off the television. He pulled up the blankets which they had both kicked to the foot of the bed, and placed a gentle kiss on each of their foreheads. He smiled, and released a contented sigh; life was perfect.
|← Chapter 3|