Golden Week – Chapter Three
by Dreams in Pink
|← Chapter Two|
Two elegantly dressed girls stood suspiciously behind the large oak tree that proudly watched over the lawn. With their shoes in hand, they sprinted across the lush grass, ducking between the shadows. They slowed as they reached the back parking lot, and stopped to put their shoes back on their feet.
“Do you think anyone saw us?” Usagi asked breathlessly, straightening her dress.
“Nah, I doubt anyone was paying attention,” Minako shrugged, “there were limos!” she cooed, starry-eyed. “Ready for phase two?”
Usagi nodded, and the girls tiptoed towards an entrance marked kitchen. They paused before the door, both taking a deep breath, before Minako rapped her knuckles against the metal. Without waiting for an answer, the partners in crime darted behind a set of dumpsters. They watched with anticipation as light from the kitchen flitted out into the darkness of the evening. Usagi and Minako looked at each other, celebrating with a silent yes and a series of fist pumps, for silhouetted in the doorway was their very dear friend.
“Psst,” Minako hissed from behind the metal bin. The brunette took a step outside, squinting as her eyes swept the parking lot. “Mako-chan,” the blonde called. Makoto’s brows knit with confusion, and she continued forward.
“Minako?” she wondered, absentmindedly dusting the flour from her hands onto her apron.
“Over here,” Usagi said, peeking out from the corner, and waving her hand.
“What are you guys doing here?” Makoto asked, rushing to greet her friends.
“We felt left out,” Minako replied, forcing an exaggerated pout.
The chef rolled her eyes, “you’re crashing the party.”
“Well I wouldn’t quite say it like that,” she corrected, holding up an orange-tipped finger as she searched for the right word, “we’re more…”
“Observing,” Usagi piped, glancing at her friend for approval.
“Exactly, we’re observing the party.”
“No,” Makoto stated resolutely, shaking her head. “No way.” Determined not to be pulled into their scheme, she turned to head back inside.
“Please?” Minako begged, clasping her hands together.
“No one will even know we’re here,” Usagi promised, the blonde beside her agreeing fervently.
“We worked so hard to get all dressed up,” she added.
Makoto sighed, biting her lip in irritation as she stared down at her two pleading friends, and their puppy-dog eyes. “Fine,” she caved. “Let’s go,” she ordered, as the blondes excitedly leapt out from behind the garbage. “Don’t tell anyone I let you in, okay?” Makoto said, shooting them a stern glare.
“We won’t,” they promised.
“Take that door there, it’ll lead to the hallway. Then you can enter the main hall,” she instructed, illustrating her directions with a point.
“Thanks!” The girls chimed, enveloping their friend in a hug.
“Get going before someone sees you,” she ushered, “and don’t forget to try the food!” she called, shooing her friends away with a wave of her hand, before returning to her kitchen duties.
Usagi and Minako carefully snuck out the door and into the corridor. They inched their way down the hall, until they were standing beside a chatty group of young professionals. When the group was ready to go in, the girls tagged along, easily blending with the crowd. The two friends looked at each other and grinned; their plan had worked.
In the middle of the banquet hall hung an elaborate chandelier, its pristine crystals decorating the room with shimmering beams of light. At the front of the hall was a stage and large screen, framed with golden curtains. Seated on the stage was a twelve piece orchestra, complete with a portly conductor to guide them. The two girls stood in awe of the scene before them, watching with sparkling eyes as elegant couples took to the dance floor. Most of the men were dressed in a variety of dark suits and tuxedos, each sporting a coloured tie. The ladies exhibited a rainbow of shades, with every dress style possible in attendance.
“This was the best idea ever,” Usagi whispered gleefully, her companion nodding in agreement. The girls casually made their way through the groups of guests, bowing their heads with polite hellos at passersby. Before long they found themselves in front a lavish display of cocktail foods, and picked up a small dish.
“Do you think Mako-chan made all of it?” Usagi wondered, placing two tiny sausage rolls on her plate.
“Probably,” her companion chirped, hungrily eyeing the sweets.
“Usagi? Minako?” Dressed in a crisp waiter’s uniform, and carrying a tray filled with freshly cooked food, a familiar face approached them.
“Motoki?” Usagi smiled, eyes wide with surprise.
“Why are you two here?” he asked, attention darting between the pair.
“Why are you here?” Usagi raised her brow, taking in his service uniform.
“I’m helping Makoto,” Motoki explained, “seared scallop with cucumber and jalapeño?” he offered, both girls readily accepting.
“We’re party crashing,” Minako confessed through bites of seafood. Realizing her mistake, she shook her head, “party observing.”
Motoki chuckled at the pair, knowing that they were never to be left out. “How did you get in here?” he wondered, seeing no sign of a guardian or date. Usagi and Minako looked sheepishly at each other, and shrugged. “Makoto,” the blond man deduced.
“We promised her we wouldn’t tell,” Usagi cried, a dramatic frown stealing her features.
“Your secret is safe with me,” Motoki reassured them, “just… be careful, okay?”
“We will,” the girls grinned.
“Enjoy yourselves,” he added, offering them one last chance at an appetizer. “And say hi to Mamoru if you see him,” Motoki added mischievously, before heading off to make his way around the room, try in hand.
“Ugh,” Usagi cringed as soon as their friend had gone back to his duties. “I didn’t know Mamoru would be here,” she pouted, setting down her plate piled high with food.
“Don’t try so hard to look disappointed,” Minako chided, causing Usagi’s cheeks to flush red. “I know you’re not.”
“Why don’t we try to find Ami and Rei?” Usagi suggested, desperate to change the subject. “Do you have any idea what they’re wearing?” Usagi and Minako shuffled off to the side of the table, carefully surveying the room.
“I’m not sure,” Minako twisted her lips. “Aren’t they a weirdly matched couple?” she mused, discretely pointing at an Amazonian woman accompanied by a stout, beady-eyed man. The pair continued to analyze the crowd, commenting on the beautiful dresses, and matching attendees who appeared to be alone.
“Ow! What was that for?” Usagi cried, feeling a sting on her arm. She turned to glare at Minako, only to find Rei staring at her, unimpressed.
“Seriously? You’re party crashers now?” she said incredulously, mouth drawn tight as she waited impatiently for an answer.
“I can’t say I’m really surprised,” Ami quipped, joining the group.
“We weren’t about to let you two have all the fun,” Minako replied charmingly, wagging her finger. Rei relaxed, allowing a slight smile to curve her lips.
“Oh yeah, this is really a blast,” she bit sarcastically. “See that old guy there? Talking to my father?” she motioned her chin in their direction, “he’s tried to grab my ass. Twice,” she cringed, her creamy skin painted with disdain.
“That is awful,” Minako managed, hiding a smile behind her hand, as they all unconvincingly tried to stifle their amusement.
“You girls look gorgeous, though,” Usagi complimented them, hoping to turn the conversation to something a little more appealing. She smiled, fully appreciating each girl’s individual style; Ami with her navy, scoop neck, A-line dress embellished with lace, and Rei in her stunning, one sleeved red number, which sparkled in the light.
“You two clean up pretty good yourselves,” Rei repaid the flattery, as Ami blushed becomingly.
“How did you get in?” Ami wondered, absentmindedly primping her ultramarine hair.
“We snuck in the back,” Minako explained, purposely leaving Makoto’s name out of the equation.
The four friends idly chatted, taking in the atmosphere of the gala. They watched with mild envy as beautiful couples twirled on the dance floor, swayed to the music and bathed in the chandelier’s brilliant crystalline light. They giggled, and looked away coyly when young men sought their attention by casting handsome smiles and toothy grins in their direction. They created stories for the patrons, spinning tales of intrigue and desire, completely lost in their own world.
“Is that Mamoru?” Rei asked suddenly, pulling the girls back to reality.
“Who is he with?” Ami wondered, squinting through her glasses in an attempt to get a better look at Mamoru’s companion.
“Maybe that’s his girlfriend,” Minako conjectured, watching Usagi’s reaction out of the corner of her eye.
The woman had her arm linked with Mamoru’s, as they talked to an older gentleman. She laughed at what seemed to be the appropriate times, earning a smile from their conversational partner. Her crimson hair fell down her back in soft, endless waves, and her long, tanned legs were accentuated by a stunning pair of golden pumps. What everyone failed to see was the exasperated look on Mamoru’s chiselled face.
“Ew,” Usagi mumbled, trying desperately to keep the sneer off her face. What did it matter? Mamoru could go anywhere with anyone he wanted; she didn’t care.
“Jealous?” Minako teased, ribbing the blonde with her elbow.
“No,” Usagi bit, feeling her heart plummet to the pit of her stomach. She knew Mamoru was planning on going out on a date; why was she so surprised?
“She’s not the type of girl I’d expect him to be with,” Rei stated thoughtfully, cocking her head to the side as she evaluated her. She could easily sense that something was amiss, but kept the speculation to herself.
A pepper-haired gentleman approached the group, “hello, girls,” he bowed slightly, receiving a similar greeting from the group. He smiled warmly, resting an authoritative hand on Rei’s shoulder, “sweetheart, I’d like to introduce you to some of my associates.”
“Yes, father,” she complied, shooting a regretful glance at her friends. “I guess that’s me. Wish me luck,” she murmured, crossing her fingers, and following her father across the floor.
“I should get back to my mother,” Ami added, suddenly realizing how long she had been gone, and feeling guilty for running off with her friends. “She doesn’t look too happy…” she grimaced, catching her mother’s eye from across the room. “Don’t do anything foolish,” she warned, raising an eyebrow expectantly. Minako rolled her eyes; almost offended.
“So, what do we do now?” Usagi sighed, watching Ami’s retreating form.
“Now, we get some cute guys to dance with us,” the bolder blonde squealed, grinning wildly. “I’ve been sending him vibes for the past ten minutes. They’ll come over soon,” she explained, nodding to a pair of young men standing on the other side of the room. Usagi titled her head, looking over their tailored suits, and shiny shoes. Her gaze was interrupted by Mamoru and his date, who were walking to the open bar.
“Minako…” she bit her lip, rehearsing the question in her mind, “do you think she’s pretty?”
“The girl Mamoru’s with,” Usagi whispered, an embarrassed blush sneaking onto her cheeks. Minako grinned; she knew Usagi had a thing for him.
“He could totally do better,” she shrugged, watching in amusement as Usagi’s shoulders relaxed with relief. “Why don’t you go ask him to dance?” she suggested.
“No way,” Usagi shook her head vehemently, nose crinkled.
“Good evening ladies,” a smooth voice interrupted the pair as the two young men from before nodded charmingly.
“I’m Masato, and this is Ren,” the taller of the two introduced.
“Minako, and Usagi,” the bolder blonde replied, shooting them a flirtatious smile.
“We thought you looked a little bored over here, so we were wondering if you’d care to dance?” Ren asked, offering his hand which Minako readily accepted.
“We would love to.”
As the boys guided them onto the dance floor, Usagi and Minako exchanged excited smiles. Usagi shyly laid her palms on Masato’s shoulders, and blushed lightly as he placed his hands on her waist. As they delved into polite conversation, Usagi felt herself relaxing, and she began to enjoy spinning and twirling with her partner. She giggled at his jokes, and grinned broadly at his compliments.
“Should we get a drink?” he suggested, noticing Ren and Minako waiting their turn at the bar.
“Sure,” Usagi agreed, as he grabbed her hand to lead the way, joining their friends.
Beginning to grow frustrated at his lack of advances, Beryl wrapped her arms around Mamoru’s neck, pulling her body closer to his. He cringed inwardly at the advance, but feigned a polite smile. Despite his most valiant efforts, he found his attention wandering as she nattered on, and nearly tripped his date when a particular blonde caught his eye.
“What the hell?” Mamoru swore under his breath. He almost hadn’t recognized her out of her school uniform, and with her hair styled differently from its usual ‘odangos’. He couldn’t help but admit that she was a sight to be seen. “Who is that?” he muttered, eyes narrowing at Usagi’s temporary date.
“Hmm?” Beryl looked at him quizzically, following his gaze, and frowning when she caught the object of his focus. She had seen that girl before. “Is there a problem?” she asked curtly, interrupting his train of thoughts.
“No,” he answered sharply, flashing her a half-hearted smile. The relentless redhead rested her cheek on Mamoru’s shoulder, ignoring how he tensed uncomfortably. Little by little she nudged him to turn, until the distraction was behind him.
“So what would you girls like?” Masato asked, as they stood in line.
“Surprise us,” Minako challenged, relatively unfamiliar with the world of alcoholic beverages.
“Why don’t you go grab that empty table, and we’ll bring the drinks over,” Ren proposed, to which the girls happily complied.
“What is this?” Usagi wondered, looking at the small glass skeptically.
“It’s a shot,” Masato laughed, “have you never done one before?” Usagi shook her head, pink staining the tips of her ears.
“Drink it in one gulp. Don’t sip,” Ren explained, demonstrating. The girls shrugged, counted to three, and downed the shot.
“Ugh,” Usagi cringed, “I don’t think I like that,” she choked, swallowing salvia in an attempt to get the burning sensation in her throat to stop.
“It’s not that bad,” Minako said with a wave of her hand, trying desperately to hide her disgust.
“The more you do it, the easier it gets,” Masato said earnestly, chuckling at Usagi’s quick dismissal.
“Do you want us to get you girls something else?”
“Yes, please,” they chimed. With a light-hearted laugh the two boys trotted back to the bar, only to return with mores drinks in hand.
“Much better,” Usagi cooed, enjoying the refreshing, fruity flavour, that so carefully hid the taste of vodka.
The girls spent the next hour and a half dancing with their newfound friends, stopping every few songs for another drink. Their faces felt warm, and their bodies tingled as all the cares in the world slipped into oblivion.
Rei glanced over at her friends with a sight twinge of jealousy, yet couldn’t quell the nagging feeling that something was off. Excusing herself from her father and his companions, she found Ami, and pulled her aside. Rei briefly explained what her intuition was telling her, and the pair decided to intervene.
“Do you girls want to get out of here?” Ren asked, smiling broadly at his friend who returned the gesture.
“No, they really don’t,” Rei interrupted, standing between her friends and the men. Ren and Masato raised their brows, amused.
“I think they do,” Masato challenged, taking a step closer to Rei. The girl put her hands on her hips, and stared at him defiantly, jaw set and nostrils flaring with anger.
“Bye,” she spat, raising her brow expectantly, as Ami grabbed each blonde by the arm.
“Whatever, let’s get out of here,” Ren huffed, knowing that this was not the place or time to make a scene.
“What are we going to do?” Ami whispered, her voice raised with panic.
“Should we try and get them outside?” Rei suggested, seeing no other alternative. Her gaze swept the room for the exit to the garden. “Wait here, I know someone who will help us,” she ordered, Ami nodding as she steadied her two giddy friends that were entertaining themselves with fits of giggles.
“Hey, Mamoru,” Rei said, tapping him on the shoulder, “Hi, I’m Rei”, she introduced herself to his date, who scowled in reply. “Could I just borrow him for one second?” Without waiting for an answer, Rei grabbed Mamoru’s hand, pulling him off to the side.
“Rei, what’s wrong?” he asked, concerned and surprised at the interruption. Rei merely pointed in their direction of the blondes. “Are they drunk?” He asked, his voice shifting from worry to irritation. “God dammit,” he cursed, marching over to the pair, and grabbing the girls by their elbows.
Beryl watched as her date exited the hall with two blonde girls in tow. Her eyes narrowed angrily, and her mouth twisted with resentment. Despite trying in vain to convince herself that Mamoru would return, deep down she knew she would be taking a taxi home.
“Should we go with him?” Ami wondered, looking at Rei in confusion.
“I… don’t know. I don’t want my father – or your mother – to come looking for us and catch them,” she stated, biting her lip as she glanced around the room.
“Agreed,” her companion nodded. “I’m sure Mamoru will text or call if he needs help,” Ami rationalized. With a shrug the girls returned to their parents, both clutching their phones in their hands, just in case.
“What the hell are you two doing?” Mamoru hissed, as he lead them out into the garden. The two girls looked up at him like two young children being scolded. Now what was he supposed to do?
“We’re crashing the party!” Minako exclaimed, throwing her arms into the air in a complete shift of mood. Mamoru rolled his eyes, unable to ignore the alcohol on her breath.
“We’re party crashing!” Usagi reiterated, yanking her arm from his grasp. The man knew that even half of the pair was often too much to handle, so pulling his phone from his pocket, he texted for backup: Motoki; in the garden, S.O.S.
“Oh my god, Mina.” She paused, her pale cheeks flushed pink.
“We said the same thing,” she whispered, her eyes wide with excitement.
“THE SAME!” Minako agreed, matching her friend’s drunken enthusiasm.
“It’s like we’re twins!” Usagi sat down on a cold, stone bench, grabbing at Minako’s arm and pulling her down with her.
“We are twins!” She gushed, nodding vehemently. Mamoru stood watch over the girls, anxiously waiting for Motoki to arrive.
“How much did you drink?” he asked, kneeling down in front of them to meet them at eye level.
“Only like this much,” Usagi answered, squeezing her fingers together and holding them in front of his unimpressed face. “I had a shot!” she boasted, but quickly added, “it was gross.”
“I had less,” Minako quipped, pointing to herself.
“She had less,” her partner in crime agreed.
“Usa, Usa, Usa…” Minako tapped her friend fervently on the shoulder, “I’m not a twin, I’m a superhero!”
“Imma be a princess, a princess,” she slurred, waving her hands down her body, gesturing a large, princess dress.
“Your majesty,” Minako addressed her, standing up to curtsey.
Despite being angry at their intoxicated state, Mamoru watched the girls with a bemused grin. The entire thing was absolutely ridiculous.
“Will you protect me?” The ‘princess’ pleaded, grasping her friend’s hand between hers.
“Always.” Minako nodded, slumping back onto the bench, her head resting on Usagi’s shoulder. “You’re my best friend.”
“You’re my best friend!”
“Mamoru?” Motoki called, running out to the garden. “What happened?”
“Some assholes got her drunk,” he stated.
“Got them drunk,” the blond corrected, quickly picking up on Mamoru’s mistake.
“Yeah,” Mamoru said, not realizing the error he had made, causing Motoki to grin. “I don’t even know how they got here. Frustrated, Mamoru began to pace. “What should we do with them?”
“I’ll take Minako home. I can at least sneak her back into her room,” Motoki suggested, a plan already formulating in his mind. “Just take Usagi to your place for the night.”
“What?” Mamoru glared at his friend, wondering if he had actually gone mad. “No, there’s no way.”
“Her parents are out of town,” Motoki said, “we can’t just take her home and leave her there alone,” he added, genuinely concerned for the girl’s well-being.
“Can’t she crash at your place?” he asked, ignoring the vibrations of his phone.
“Oh yeah, my parents would love me bringing a drunk girl home with me,” Motoki bit, his hands waving emphatically. “And they’ll tell her parents as soon as they’re back.”
“What about Makoto?” Mamoru was beginning to panic. It wasn’t that he was against the idea of Usagi being in his home, and he wasn’t at all against helping her, but Mamoru was comfortable with the way things were. Although he would instantly deny it, he had toyed with the idea of something more with Usagi, however, he lacked the courage. Trying something new could mean that things would change forever – and they could just as easily change for the worse. That was not a change that Mamoru was ready for.
“She has enough on her plate with this event. She has to stay and clean up afterwards, too…” Motoki explained, knowing that it was just a matter of time before Mamoru caved.
“They’re here with their parents.”
“Oh my god you cannot tell Usagi’s parents,” Minako interrupted, steadying herself on Motoki’s shoulder. “She’ll be in so much trouble!”
“Minako, where’s Usagi?” Mamoru asked, his voice raising with concern as he noticed she had moved from her spot on the bench.
“Fishing!” Just as Minako answered, they heard a splash from the nearby pond. Mamoru groaned, running over to the edge only to find Usagi thrashing about in the water.
“I’m a mermaid!” she proclaimed, grinning wildly.
“Get out of there,” Mamoru ordered, his patience growing thin.
“I don’t have legs!” she retorted, matter-of-factly, her brow furrowing as she looked at him, offended.
Clenching his jaw to calm his irritation, Mamoru carefully placed one foot into the pond, reaching for Usagi’s arm. When he had finally gotten a grip, he pulled her out of the water, holding her lithe body tightly to his chest, her sopping gown soaking his suit. He quickly removed his jacket, and wrapped it around the girl’s petite frame.
Mamoru sighed. “Just take Minako home, I’ll take care of the mermaid.” With that he pushed Usagi forward, steering her towards his car.
“Where are we going?” Usagi yawned, her eyes growing drowsy as exhaustion began to kick in.
“Home.” Mamoru replied pointedly, rubbing her shoulders as they walked in an attempt to keep her warm.
Minako grabbed Motoki’s arm, and turned to face him. “Are they going home together?” She wiggled her brows mischievously. “Did you know they like each other?” she asked.
The blond man nodded, pretending to listen, as he sent a quick text to Makoto, promising to return as soon as Minako was safely home.
“They like each other. Like like,” the girl insisted, eyes wide with sincerity.
“How do you know?” he asked, wondering if Usagi finally admitted her feelings.
“I’m a superhero! I know that kind of stuff.”
With a smile and a nod, Motoki draped his arm around the girl’s shoulders. “Let’s get you home.”
|← Chapter Two|