Fame – Chapter Three
by Dreams in Pink
|← Chapter Two||Chapter Four →|
Chapter Three – The Results
Two hours before the results went public, Usagi was sitting alone at the arcade, books and papers spread out in front of her as she attempted to study. The day had gone so well, up until her math teacher had announced a surprise quiz the following day.
“Ughh,” growling in frustration, she slammed the pencil down on the page, as its punishment for not writing the correct answer.
“What’s wrong, Usagi?” Motoki asked, slinging a dishcloth onto his shoulder.
“I can’t do this. I just… cannot do it!” Her slender frame trembled as she shook her fists. “It doesn’t make sense and I can’t remember any of it,” she whined, her arms dropping lifelessly to her side as she laid her head down, cheek pressed against the cool pages of the open textbook.
“What is it?”
Usagi sat up and spun the book around to face him, “Math.” She scowled, “as if I’m ever going to need calculus in real life.” He laughed light-heartedly; she definitely knew how to be dramatic.
“I’d love to help you, but I honestly can’t remember a thing about it.”
“It’s okay.” Usagi shrugged, and deciding to take a break from her studies, she turned her focus to the television mounted on the wall. News about Paradyse’s upcoming album flashed across the screen and she sighed dreamily, “I wish I could be like them”.
“You liked performing that much?” Motoki wondered, honestly surprised. He figured Usagi would have been a nervous wreck.
“It was awesome!” She exclaimed, sitting up straight, “people were cheering for us!” She recalled the memories from the performance with an overwhelming feeling of pride. “And everyone was super nice to me today at school! Two of the most popular guys even asked me out!” She added wistfully, a large grin plastered on her face.
“Sounds like you had a good day,” Motoki mused. “So when are the big dates?”
“I didn’t really say yes,” she admitted, her gaze avoiding Motoki’s confused expression. Knowing that this was not a path of conversation she wished to pursue, she quickly changed the subject. “Besides, who doesn’t want to be a famous idol? Everyone thinks they’re hot, they get to go to the coolest parties, they have awesome clothes, and I bet they don’t have to do stupid math homework,” Motoki chucked at her idealistic enthusiasm.
“I don’t think that kind of life is as glamorous as you’re making it sound,” he replied thoughtfully, patting her on the shoulder.
“I know it’s a lot of work, but it would still be amazing.” Dragging the textbook closer, she laid her head down once again, entertaining the fantasy of being an idol in the depths of her imagination.
“Hey Motoki.” Upon hearing his voice, a slight flush burned Usagi’s cheeks, her mind quickly reliving his heroic antics from the day before. “Odango,” he stood behind her as if to make his presence known, and she put herself in check.
“It’s Usagi. U. SA. GI,” she retorted routinely, without moving her head, her eyes staring blankly at the counter.
“You know, just sleeping on your textbooks isn’t going to make you any smarter, Odango. You actually have to read it,” Mamoru leaned in, and she could feel the warmth of his breath tickling the back of her neck. She frowned. Despite his valiant rescue, things really had not changed.
“Shut up,” she huffed, blindly swatting her hand in his direction to shoo him away.
“Mamoru, cut her some slack. We’re not all as good at math as you are,” Motoki said, as his friend sat down beside the golden haired high school girl. “You could help her out here,” he urged, Mamoru easily picking up on the handed opportunity.
“So it’s math you’re studying? Let me see,” he moved closer, expecting her to readily give up her book.
“Why?” She remained motionless.
“Okay then, if you don’t want my help…” Mamoru backed away with a shrug, figuring she quickly would have a change of heart.
“I don’t,” the girl replied, flatly.
“Come on Odango,” he offered again, “you’re just being stubborn. You don’t want that to ruin your chance at actually passing do you?”
Usagi’s brow creased deeply at his words. ‘Things are definitely back to normal,’ she thought with a twinge of disappointment. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in a position where she was able to turn down free help – especially with math. This year Usagi was determined to graduate with the highest average she could manage; she wanted a future. She wanted to get into university and she wanted to make something of herself. “Only if you call me by my actual name,” she tried to bargain.
“I’m offering to help you. I’ll call you whatever I want.” He gripped the textbook by the side and attempted to slide it out from under her. “Move your head,” he ordered.
“Fine,” she yielded with a heavy sigh, sliding the book towards him.
“Ah, twelfth grade calculus. This stuff can be pretty tricky,” he started, glancing at the pages. “So where are you getting stuck?”
Usagi looked at him with a completely blank expression, unsure whether she should burst into a fit of tears or giggles. “At the beginning.” Mamoru’s head dropped; this was going to be a long afternoon.
Mamoru began his explanation in the easiest way he could think of, breaking the first question down into simple steps. Although she had made an attempt to listen, Usagi found herself overwhelmed by the fabulously intoxicating scent of his cologne and the hypnotic rhythm of his low timbre voice. Her breathing slowed as she felt the warmth radiating off his body and caressing her own. He slipped the pencil from her hand, demonstrating in her notebook as he worked through the problem. Usagi’s mind continued to be drawn elsewhere, back into the solace of her imagination.
“Do you understand?” Mamoru stopped, noticing the gloss in Usagi’s eyes.
“What?” She asked, shaking her head slightly, being ripped from her reverie.
“Were you listening at all?” He raised an eyebrow in irritation.
“Yes?” Usagi replied, a sheepish grin creeping onto her face.
“What did I just say?” He tested her, running frustrated fingers through his ebony hair.
“You asked if I was listening.”
“Before that.” He waited for her response, watching as she nervously bit her lip. Figuring it was the wailing television, screaming games and chattering teenagers that stole her concentration, he closed the book and handed her the pencil. “We can’t study here. Get your things; we’re going to the library.”
“The library?!” Usagi groaned, slowly gathering her belongings. “Seriously Mamoru-baka, the library?” She checked, hoping she hadn’t heard him correctly.
“You won’t be able to find anything to distract you there,” he explained, choosing to ignore her ‘nickname’. Usagi couldn’t help but snort at the irony.
The couple took off down the sidewalk, Mamoru in front with the petite blonde dragging her feet behind him. Usagi knew that if her friends found out, they would somehow twist the situation into a date. A chance for the two of them to escape to be alone. A tale that was utterly fascinating and completely romantic. Already feeling annoyed by the conversation she knew would come, she hastily blew the bangs from her forehead.
After what felt like an eternity of walking, they had reached the library and Mamoru directed her to the back corner on the fourth floor. They sat down at a small table, surrounded by tall shelves with filled with worn books. Usagi pulled out her materials, opening her notebook and smoothing down a fresh page. She was going to concentrate and she was going to learn this, no matter how much will power it took to stay focused.
Mamoru started again from square one, taking his time to explain each part of the problem. Usagi followed his words, nodding at his explanations and stopping to ask questions when she didn’t understand. Much to her surprise, Mamoru was relentlessly patient – even more so than Ami – and slowly the equations began to make sense. With her newfound knowledge, he gave her a question to try on her own, watching anxiously over her shoulder as she worked with the numbers, and smiling at her determination. The aroma of her hair and perfume filled his senses, wrapping him in a world warmed with vanilla. His mind began to wander, and his focus fell to her cherry lips that were puckered with concentration.
“I think that’s it…” she said cautiously, writing down the last number and sitting back to look at her work.
Mamoru bent down to scan the page, and Usagi blushed when she realized how close they were, his smooth lips only inches from her cheek as he read through her answer.
“You’re right, that’s it,” he whispered, feeling the proud grin spread over her face. “Should we do another one?” He wondered, the blonde nodding mutely, unable to force the words through the lump of anxiety that dangled in the back of her throat. He once again took the pencil from her hand, his fingers lightly brushing her own, wrote down another question and handed the utensil back. He backed away ever so slightly as Usagi attacked the equation.
She could feel his heated gaze watching her every move, and suddenly she was overwhelmed with a bout of self-consciousness. She licked her lips and pushed a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. Her mind ran in circles, coming to the conclusion that their current situation was truly awkward – Chiba Mamoru was helping her and she was, without argument, accepting his help. He had been patient and encouraging; a far cry from the Mamoru that she usually spent her afternoons bickering with.
“Why are you doing this? Helping me, I mean,” Her tender voice brought Mamoru crashing back into the library. He stared at her momentarily, unsure how to answer.
“You needed help and Motoki offered so…”
“So you’re doing this for Motoki?”
“No, I’m doing it to help you,” he stated firmly, unwilling to fall into her trap.
“But you wouldn’t have helped me if Motoki hadn’t said anything,” Usagi outlined, disappointment laced in her voice.
“That’s not – ”
“It’s okay,” she interrupted, “I appreciate the help,” she smiled.
“Usagi, that’s not how it is,” Mamoru started, beginning to feel the aggravation swell, “I’m helping you because I want to help you.” He stopped to gage her reaction, and immediately her attention became fixed on her knees. “And besides, teasing you about your poor math grades is getting old,” he joked, “I’m giving myself a new challenge,” he finished, winking playfully. Usagi rolled her eyes, a light smirk crossing her lips. “You’re also working really hard,” Mamoru added seriously.
“I have to,” Usagi replied with a sigh, “if I don’t, then I won’t get into any university.” That very point had been drilled into her mind for the past three years of high school, and she knew that if she didn’t make the effort, she would be putting her own future in jeopardy.
“What do you want to study?”
“That’s the problem, I have no idea. Everyone else knows what they want… Ami’s going to be a doctor, Rei wants to go into business, Makoto will be an amazing chef and Minako’s determined to be an actress. Everyone knows what they want to do except me,” Usagi explained with a cumbersome sigh. She was tired of being asked that question, and she was tired of not having an answer. She didn’t have a special skill that she could focus on, or a passion she wished to pursue.
“So you’ve never had a childhood dream?” Mamoru asked, cocking his head to the side; Usagi without a dream was a completely alien concept. She was a little sprite filled with dreams and optimism.
“You’ll laugh at me if I tell you,” she stated quietly, smoothing an imaginary wrinkle on her skirt.
“I won’t,” he promised, his gentle voice imploring her to continue.
Usagi remained silent, unsure whether or not she should go on. Her dream was something she had never shared. Something that had never escaped passed the barrier of her mouth. Telling Mamoru made her vulnerable; she would be giving up a part of herself that no one had seen before. Her heart urged her forward, while her mind remained reluctant.
Mamoru watched in earnest as Usagi thought, and noticed how the corners of her mouth twitched as she weighed her options. As if trying to persuade her, he placed a comforting hand on her knee. Usagi was unable to ignore the heat that ran through her body at his simple touch, and somehow, she knew that she could trust him.
“I want to fall in love,” she started meekly, almost embarrassed by her confession, “I want to get married. I want to start a family… I guess I never thought about what I’d do in between,” she turned her attention to her hands, which lay fidgeting in her lap. Mamoru remained mute, unable to form any sort of reply, making Usagi’s nerves tremble. “I know, it’s stupid, right? Who’d want to marry me,” she said with an insecure laugh, hoping to break the awkward silence.
Without another thought, Mamoru swiftly leaned forward, gently pressing his lips to hers. He felt her body turn tense with shock, as the feathery caress of her eyelashes beat against his skin, blinking in confusion. His hand lifted to stroke her cheek, which flushed instantly at his touch. Utterly lost in her muddled thoughts, Usagi’s body succumbed on its own accord, her lips parting ever so slightly as her eyes fluttered closed. Her arms crept to his chest, palms resting on shivering muscles, separated only by the thin cotton fabric of Mamoru’s shirt. He took her inviting embrace as a signal to urge forward, and his strong arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her from the wooden chair and onto his lap. Steadying herself, Usagi’s hands travelled from his chest to rest at the back of his neck, fingers entwining in his silky raven hair.
“It’s not stupid,” he managed, breaking contact momentarily, allowing them both to catch their breath. The words barely registered in Usagi’s hazy mind, and missing the warmth of his kiss, she lunged forward, her mouth assaulting his. He struggled to bring her closer, one hand pushing on the small of her back. A groan escaped from Mamoru’s throat, as the young vixen’s pert breasts pressed into his body. Suddenly, an incessant beeping brought them both tumbling back to reality.
“What’s that noise?” Mamoru asked groggily, his gaze focused on the girl’s swollen lips. Usagi looked around confused, before realizing the sound was coming from inside her bag.
“My phone! I set an alarm,” she explained, clambering off his lap, her cherry stained cheeks feeling as if they were on fire. She dug through her schoolbag, finally pulling out the small, pink phone. “Oh! It’s almost five!” She exclaimed, flipping it open, “we have to find a radio!”
Bewildered, Mamoru stayed in his seated position – what exactly had just happened?
“Did you hear me? We need a radio! They’re going to announce the results!” Usagi continued, relieved to have an excuse not talk about what had just occurred.
“We’re not going to find one in here, and it’s too far to go back to the arcade,” Mamoru answered, drawn out of his stupor, but with confusion still knit across his face. Maybe he had just imagined it?
“No! I’m going to miss the results!” The blonde whined, subconsciously readjusting her skirt.
“Hold on.” Mamoru fished a sleek, black phone from his back pocket, and began to dial. “Hey, you have the results on right?” Usagi strained to listen, but could hardly make out the voice on the other end. “No, she’s here now,” Mamoru said, “No, we don’t have time to make it back. Can you just hold the phone up to the radio?” With a sigh, he handed the device to the girl, who anxiously put it up to her ear.
“Usagi? Are you there?” A familiar voice came through, and Usagi smiled as she recognized its owner.
“Yeah, I’m here! Thanks for doing this, Motoki!”
“No problem! The girls are all here listening too.” She could hear him pull the phone away from his mouth, and she was greeted by a chorus of ‘hello’s’. “Did you hear that?”
“I did. Tell them to cross their fingers for luck!” Motoki relayed the message, and turned up the volume as the results began.
Yesterday at the Spring Festival in Roppongi Hills, JRH Radio sponsored the annual karaoke contest, which not only drew a large crowd, but showcased a large amount of hot talent!
All constants put on a fierce show, but only one group can be crowned the karaoke kings or queens, making them the winners of the 150000 yen grand prize!
Mamoru watched as the blonde chewed on her lip with nervous anticipation. He swallowed, trying to avoid thoughts of her feathery kisses and wandering hands, and diverted his attention to the floor, where her foot was tapping restlessly. Holding her breath, Usagi pressed the receiver tightly against her ear.
But before we reveal the top scoring group, let’s take a minute to congratulate our runner-up! They rocked the stage with their hot dance moves and angelic voices, the three lovely young ladies, Ms. Minako Aino, Ms. Rei Hino, and Ms. Usagi Tsukino!
Heavy with disappointment, Usagi’s shoulder’s dropped, and she extended her arm, handing the phone back to Mamoru. She snorted in amusement upon hearing Rei’s cries of protest echo through the earpiece.
“I’m sorry,” Mamoru apologized, easily reading her face as he flipped the phone shut.
“It’s okay.” The blonde shrugged, “we got runner up,” she said, smiling half-heartedly and plopping down on the chair.
“Well for what it’s worth, you guys deserved to win,” he replied, following her lead and sitting down.
“Thanks Mamoru, but… you didn’t even see us.” She wondered if was just being nice, or if he had genuinely meant it. Mamoru only nodded, unwilling to come clean.
Now that they were alone again, Usagi’s mind travelled back to their fervent kisses, and she could feel her face growing hot. Unable to look him in the eye, she flipped through her textbook, pretending to search for an answer. The man knew her sudden interest in math was merely an evasion tactic, and he couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if her alarm had not gone off. The couple was quickly thrown into a world of limbo, neither knowing where they stood, thoughts invaded by a thousand questions, each screaming to be answered but both unwilling to set them free.
“Don’t you think we…” Mamoru started, his words dying in the awkward tension. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, as Usagi continued rifling through the pages. “I mean, we probably should…” he began again, but stopped as Usagi lifted her porcelain face, her almond eyes filled with panic, begging him not to continue. Talking about it would mean that it happened. It would mean that she would have to face her reaction; the way her heart raced at his touch, and how she felt like she could no longer control her actions. It would mean that she would have to admit that she liked it.
Mamoru opened his mouth again, but was cut short by the sugary beat of Usagi’s cell phone. The girl sighed in relief, hastily grabbing the phone from the worn table.
“Hello?” she answered, as Mamoru huffed and sat back in his chair, arms folded across his chest. Although he hated to admit it, he was glad for the interruption. “Yeah, I remember,” Usagi continued, her raven headed tutor remaining deathly silent, hoping to hear the caller. “He what?” The girl’s brow arched with surprise. “Are you serious?” She asked, as Mamoru cocked his head to the side in confusion. “YES! Of course I’m in!” Usagi squealed, “Oh my god this is so exciting,” she continued, her hand shaking repeated for emphasis. Mamoru stood as if to increase his chances of hearing the other side of the conversation. “Okay, I’ll meet you guys after dinner!” With that, she ended the call, and slowly turned to face Mamoru. She controlled her breaths, trying to calm her excitement.
“What was that about?” he asked, watching the elated blonde who looked ready to burst.
“An agent wants to talk to us,” she exclaimed, her entire face radiating with anticipation and pride. Mamoru was unsure how to react.
“Wow, Usagi… that’s great!” he managed, hoping that he sounded convincing.
“I KNOW!” she beamed, throwing her arms around him in a celebratory hug. “I can’t believe it!” The momentum caused Mamoru to stumble backwards, and without a thought, he pulled her stumbling into the table with him. Her hands flew to his chest, and his knee became wedged between her legs. Instantly Usagi pushed herself off him, causing Mamoru to grip the sides of the table in surprise. The girl’s face burned as she was quickly reminded of their encounter earlier.
“I… I have to go…,” she stammered, avoiding any eye contact as she scrambled to pick up her things. “Thanks for all your help today,” Usagi said, momentarily glancing up and throwing him a small smile.
“Anytime,” Mamoru managed, as the familiar feeling of loneliness panged him. “Good luck on your test… and congrats,” he returned the obligatory, awkward smile and watched as the frightened bunny sped off.
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