Captured Confessions – Chapter Two
by Dreams in Pink
|← Chapter One|
The next couple of days flew by without a hitch and Motoki watched the stats of his videos climb. With his camera constantly at his side, he was always on the lookout for something new to film. Unfortunately, Mamoru had yet to make an appearance at the arcade, and Motoki wondered if he was busy with school or avoiding obligatory apologies. Usagi, on the other hand, had flounced in and out as always, only stopping for quick hellos and to “check if Mamoru was going to show up,” because as she had explained, she “most definitely did not want to run into him”. Motoki would nod understandingly, and grin at the flicker of disappointment when he told her it didn’t seem like he would be dropping by.
After three long days without his usual coffee, Mamoru’s resolution finally faded, and he found himself walking his routine route to the arcade. Part of him knew that he had overreacted, and he felt almost embarrassed about making such an effort to stay away from the Crown for so long – maybe he would just say school kept him busy. Confessing his feelings – regardless of the situation – was something that Mamoru had never become accustomed to. Growing up he never had to report to anyone, and rarely had to explain himself. Vulnerability made him extremely uncomfortable, so instead of confronting his issues, he pushed them as far away as possible.
“Hey, Mamoru!” Motoki greeted him, as he sat down at his regular place, peeling off his jacket and draping it over the stool beside him. Dropping his briefcase to the ground, he leaned a black umbrella against the counter. He smiled, grateful for his friend’s silent acceptance of his unspoken apology.
“Hey.” He replied bowed his head as Motoki slid a drink towards him. “Thanks.”
Mamoru pulled a small book from his bag, his shoulders relaxing as he melted into the words. Motoki chuckled at the few girls who attempted to get the man’s attention, but either went completely unnoticed or did nothing more than irritate him.
“Good afternoon, ladies,” Motoki said smoothly, “just the three of you today?”
“Yep, Rei has to work at the temple, and Mako-chan has her cooking class.” Mamoru’s head popped up, instantly recognizing the voice.
“Ami, Minako, Odango,” he greeted the girls, quickly moving his jacket from the stool it occupied.
“Usagi,” the blonde corrected, as she filled the seat, with Ami sitting beside her, and Minako leaning between them against the counter. “Where have you been?” she asked curiously, tilting her head to the side.
“I didn’t know you cared,” Mamoru replied, unwilling to explain his recent absence. “Why, did you miss me?”
“I don’t and I didn’t,” she quipped sticking out her tongue. Minako sighed at her best friend and shook her head.
“So, Motoki, how are your videos going?” Usagi turned her attention to the blond, her register changing and the brightness returning to her face.
“Pretty well,” he smiled, “I’m actually getting a lot of hits!” He reported, ignoring Mamoru’s skeptical headshake.
“Can we be in one of the videos?” Minako asked, resting her elbows on the counter as she twirled a strand of golden hair around her finger. The question caught Usagi’ss attention, and she waited eagerly for a reply.
“That would be great!” he exclaimed, glad to have the support of his friends. He leaned in on the counter, “Mamoru’s already been in one,” he whispered, glancing at his friend from the corner of his eye, “kind of.”
“What?” Mamoru’s steely eyes glowered at the man.
“I did a poll,” he replied nonchalantly, turning his back to the counter in an attempt to appear as if he were working.
“What kind of poll?” Usagi mirrored Minako’s stance, shifting to kneel on the stool.
“To see who the Internet would rather watch: me, Mamoru or a monkey,” Motoki said, taking his phone from the front pocket on his apron, and pulling up the voting results.
“What?” Mamoru snapped, brow crinkled with confusion; he had never agreed to be part of this.
“I won.” The blond grinned proudly, showing the group his screen.
“What the hell?” Mamoru grabbed the phone to inspect the page which featured a photo of each man, one monkey, and coloured bars representing how many users voted for each.
“See,” Motoki leaned over, pointing to the numbers.
“I lost to you and a monkey?” he said incredulously, ego deflated. “That is the worst possible photo you could have used of me,” he huffed, sliding the phone across the counter. Minako grabbed it, and the three girls huddled around the small device.
“It’s not so stupid when you lose, is it,” Motoki gloated, puffing out his chest in an exaggerated fashion for the sole purpose of further irking his friend.
“It’s stupid when the playing field isn’t even,” Mamoru snorted, taking an angry sip of his lukewarm coffee.
“That is a pretty unflattering photo,” Ami agreed, trying not to laugh at the awkward pose and scowling expression Motoki had chosen to represent his opponent.
“I felt that it was an accurate representation of Mamoru,” the blond interjected thoughtfully.
“I agree.” Usagi smirked, “see, there’s the face right there!” she exclaimed, pointing wildly. “Maybe you should try smiling more, ” Usagi advised, earning nothing but an eye roll for a reply.
Mamoru picked up the phone that now lay discarded on the counter, and looked at the numbers one last time, convinced that if Motoki had used a half decent photo, he would have had a fighting chance. He shook his head as he navigated back a page, interested in what Motoki had written. Finding the link to Motoki’s channel, he tapped at it, curiosity piqued.
“Motoki, what the hell is this?” he wondered, noticing a thumbnail with a very familiar face – his. Mamoru pressed play, and turned up the volume. Not wanting to miss out, Usagi jumped off her stool, leaning over to get a better look. Mamoru hold his breath at their proximity, feeling the warmth radiating off her.
“I do not!” Usagi’s voice echoed from the speakers, and she felt the tips of her ears burn.
“Motoki!” The girl cried, seeing herself appear on screen, body tense and words lost.
“You do too.” Mamoru watched the video in shock, mentally noting that despite his anger, Usagi did look adorable all riled up.
“I do not.” Usagi peeked at Mamoru from the corner of her eye, watching the expressions play across his face.
“You come in here all the time and fawn all over him.” Mamoru cringed at his words – he really did sound jealous, despite his efforts not to.
“It’s not you she’s fawning over.” Although there was no accompanying video, Usagi knew exactly who that voice belonged to.
“MAKO-CHAN,” the blonde seethed, face red and mortified.
“Now you guys can see what we put up with every day,” Motoki replied sheepishly, beginning to feel the guilt creep up the back of his neck.
“I can’t believe you put that on the Internet,” Mamoru fumed, glaring heatedly as Minako slipped the phone from his hand.
“It’s gotten tons of hits,” Motoki muttered, secretly a little envious of the attention the video had been receiving.
“Oh my god Usa, did you see the comments?” Minako squealed, “they’re calling you guys the heated hotties!” she grinned, wiggling her eyebrows at the pair. A pink hue stained Usagi’s cheeks, while Mamoru remained stone faced and steely eyed.
“One commenter wrote, there is so much sexual tension between these two,” Ami reported, peeking over Minako’s shoulder as she scrolled through the comments.
“This one is telling you two to get a room,” Minako giggled.
“Did you read the one about the person who thinks their children would be gorgeous?” Motoki asked excitedly, grinning wildly as Mamoru choked on his coffee.
“Some of these are rather inappropriate,” Ami remarked, cringing at the lewd language and suggestions.
“Read this one,” Minako instructed, holding the phone out for Usagi to see. Her expression lit up as and a wide smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She grabbed the device and shoved it in front of Mamoru’s face.
“Look at this, Mamoru-baka, this girl wants to know how to do my hairstyle!” she beamed, “see, other people think my odangos are cool,” she sang, lightly patting one of the buns.
“I never said they were bad,” Mamoru said defensively, slightly taken aback by her comment; is that why she hated the nickname? Did she take it to mean something negative?
Figuring now was the perfect opportunity to get footage for a follow-up, Motoki whipped out his camera.
“So, Usagi, tell us what you think about the comments?” he said, pointing the camera in the girl’s direction. She eyed the device warily, but not only did she want to set the record straight, she figured she could win over the world with her charming personality.
“Well, thank you for liking my hair,” she answered, still high from the compliment. Mamoru snorted at the ridiculousness of it all. “And this,” she motioned between herself and Mamoru, “there is nothing here,” she reiterated, trying to convince even herself.
“Those are lies. It’s pure lust,” Minako insisted, grabbing Motoki’s hand and turning the camera’s focus on her.
“Minako!” Usagi yelled, once again drowning in chagrin. Motoki backed up so that both girls were in the shot.
“The comments are right. You two have been at each other like this for months, it’s time to change it up a little,” she shrugged, winking at the ‘audience’. Usagi crinkled her brow, scowling at the suggestion.
“Ami? Any theories?” Motoki wondered, moving on to the blue-haired girl. Her cheeks flushed rose at the attention, she cleared her throat, and adjusted her glasses nervously.
“Well, they do seem to have a lot of chemistry,” she stated diplomatically. “You know, from a more scientific standpoint,” she added quickly, flashing Usagi a sympathetic smile.
“Ami!” she yelled, feeling slightly betrayed by the one friend she had always thought was on her side.
“Mamoru, let’s hear your thoughts on the matter,” Motoki announced, once again shifting direction. Mamoru looked at the camera with a deadpan expression.
“Let’s not. I’m sure they’re stupid,” Usagi scoffed, crossing her arms over her chest, unable to quash the anxiety that crawled up her neck; what if he rejected her?
“Now why would you go and say that, Odango?” Mamoru ignored the camera, once again turning to face the girl. He couldn’t help it; he wanted her attention – needed it, even.
“Stop calling me Odango, Mamoru-baka! I mean really! Couldn’t you come up with anything better?” she challenged, wanting all focus as far away from their sexual tension as possible.
“Because Mamoru-baka is so much better? Are you suggesting Odango-baka?” he answered childishly, quickly shaking his head in remorse. If it was one thing that infuriated him about Usagi, it was that she always brought out the child in him. She knew exactly what to say to egg on their frivolous fights.
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! It’s so hard to believe you’re in university, you know!” Usagi snorted.
“Yes, and you’re a high school student standing here arguing with me like you’re some six year old!” he retaliated. Motoki grinned, the camera still rolling.
“You’re the one who started this!” Usagi said, pointing an accusing finger at him.
“Could you two move a little closer? It would make a better shot.” Motoki asked politely, but in return got a cold glare from two pairs of blue eyes.
“I’m warning you for the last time, get that damn thing out of my face,” Mamoru barked, “Motoki, you have three seconds,” he said, jaw clenched. “One…”
“Okay, okay.” Motoki put the camera down on the counter. “It’s off.” He stepped back, holding his hands up in surrender.
“I cannot stand you two right now,” Usagi said exasperated. “Can we please go play some games now?” she begged. Ami and Minako nodded, and gathered their belongings. The blonde looked at Motoki and shrugged; she was definitely on his side. It was about time their two feuding friends allowed their relationship to move forward.
“You are a jackass,” Mamoru yelled, falling back onto the stool, and running a hand through his hair. The entire thing was asinine, and yet he still felt disappointed at the fact Usagi had so blatantly denied that there could possibly be anything between them.
“I’m sorry,” Motoki said, shoulders dropping. “I actually thought I was helping,” he admitted, releasing a heavy sigh.
“How is uploading a video of us fighting on YouTube helping?” Mamoru stared at his friend incredulously. Just what on earth was Motoki thinking?
“I figured if you saw yourselves and saw what everyone else sees, then maybe you’d both realize what you mean to each other,” the blond explained, avoiding eye contact as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“What we mean to each other?” Mamoru cocked his brow. Did he mean something to Usagi?
“Mamoru, come on! I see it, her friends see it, even random people from the Internet see it.” His hands shook emphatically as he talked, trying desperately to get through to his thick headed friend.
Mamoru shrugged. “Maybe you’re all just seeing something that’s not there.”
“Did you know that four girls tried to sit down next to you today. Four. And you didn’t move your jacket for any of them,” Motoki emphasized the number by holding up four digits.
“I didn’t notice them,” Mamoru replied offhandedly, inwardly cringing at the lie; he had noticed them.
“You told two of them that the seat was saved,” Motoki recounted. “Who were you saving it for?” he continued determinedly, “because as soon as Usagi came in, the jacket was magically gone.” Motoki hit the counter as he finished, feeling like a lawyer trying to win a case.
“I was just trying to be nice,” Mamoru muttered. Was he really that obvious?
“She asks about your every time you’re not here,” Motoki said, watching how the man’s expression lit up at the newfound information. “Mamoru, I get it. You fight with her because that way you still get her attention, but you don’t have to face your own feelings.”
“Who are you, Dr. Phil?” Mamoru scoffed. Motoki was right, but there is no way he would ever let him know that.
“No, but I could be…” The blond’s eyes sparkled with an idea – he could be the Dr. Phil of YouTube. It was brilliant. Not allowing himself to become side tracked, Motoki shook his head. “I’ll stop meddling, if you promise to think about what I’ve said,” he offered, pouring Mamoru another cup of coffee as a peace offering. “It’s on the house.”
Mamoru released a heavy breath and raised his mug to Motoki as a sign of acceptance before downing a gulp. “You’re still a jackass,” he noted, a small smile tugging at his lips. Despite his unconventional methods, Mamoru knew that Motoki really had meant well.
An hour had passed, Mamoru had nearly finished his book and was now on his fourth cup of coffee. He really had no reason to be hanging around, but he enjoyed the activity that buzzed around him while he relaxed at the arcade. Part of him secretly hoped that Usagi would stop on her way out – even if it was just to pisck a fight.
Motoki watched his friend trying to discretely check whether or not the girl had left. Mamoru’s sudden return to his book meant that Usagi was fast approaching, and Motoki stealthily pulled his camera from its hiding place under the counter; he knew there would be more to come. Although he had promised not to interfere, he had devised a plan, a brilliant, fool-proof plan. Usagi stopped and sat down on the stool, her bag dropping to the floor as she slumped over the counter.
“Did Ami and Minako go home?” Motoki wondered, wiping clean glasses dry and stacking them on a shelf.
“Yeah,” she mumbled.
“What’s wrong, Usa? Usually you don’t usually drag your feet this bad unless – ” Her stoic expression was a dead giveaway. “Ooh,” Motoki said, with complete understanding. “How bad?”
The girl dug into her school bag, pulled out a piece of crinkled paper, and handed it to the blond man. He smiled at her sympathetically, “it’s just one test. You can make it up next time!” Usagi sighed, blowing the golden bangs from her forehead. Mamoru snatched the paper from Motoki’s hand, causing Usagi to shriek. She jumped up, trying frantically to frees the test from his grasp. He held it out of her reach, glancing at the score.
“Ouch, this is bad even for you, Odango.” He regretted it the moment it came out of his mouth.
“Shut up,” she spat, “it’s not my fault I’m not as smart as you or Ami.” She frowned, feeling the heat rise to her face.
“You could study more,” he suggested, intending to sound more helpful than it came out.
“Excuse me? I do study,” Usagi said, her frame beginning to tremble with frustration. “I’m sorry that I’m not perfect like you, and that I don’t have your perfect life, but I’m doing the best that I can, so just leave me the hell alone,” she yelled, tears welling in her eyes.
“Usagi,” his heart sank as he said her name, feelings of guilt swelling in the pit of his stomach.
Thunder cracked in the sky, shaking the ground as a warning of rain. The slender girl yelped, her eyes growing wide with surprise. Within moments sheets of water poured from the sky, and heavy droplets broke against the concrete sidewalk outside. Usagi whimpered, and rubbed her face with her hand.
“Why?” she groaned, looking out at the falling rain. “I don’t have an umbrella,” she whined. Lightning flashed and Usagi paled, she bit her cheek to stop herself from crying out.
“You’re welcome to stay here until it clears up,” Motoki offered sympathetically.
“Thanks Motoki, but my mom will kill me if I miss dinner again. Especially with this.” She grabbed the test paper from the counter, and shoved it into her bag as its punishment for existing.
“Come on, Odango,” Mamoru said, standing up and gathering his belongings. He picked up his umbrella, and dug his car keys from his pocket. “You’re scared of the thunder, you’re not going out there on your own,” he stated, making a mere observation. Usagi’s eyes narrowed, and she clenched her lips – why did he have to be so judgemental? Plenty of people were scared of the thunder.
“I’m not a child, and I’m definitely not going anywhere with you,” she spat, standing steadfast in her decision as she crossed her arms over her chest.
“Don’t be stubborn, I’ll take you home,” Mamoru pushed, knowing full well she was refusing to accept the ride on pride alone. “Let’s go.” He put his hand on her arm, trying to convince her to go with him.
“No,” she reiterated, pulling away and immediately missing the warmth of his hand on her skin.
“Usagi, it doesn’t look like the rain is going to be letting up anytime soon,” Motoki intervened, “you should probably just let him take you home.” He smiled, hoping that his trust in Mamoru would convince Usagi that this was a good idea. “He has a really nice car,” Motoki added.
“I’d rather walk,” she insisted, and to prove her point, she spun on her heel, marched out the door and into the rain, leaving two stunned men behind.
“I can’t believe she actually walked out,” Motoki whispered, gaping at Mamoru who wore the same shocked expression.
“This is ridiculous,” he muttered, taking a controlled breath in an attempt to ease his frustration. “I’ll see you later.” He waved to Motoki as he took off after the girl, popping open his umbrella before stepping into the storm.
Usagi began her trek home, carrying her briefcase over her head. The rain drops mixed with the salty tears that she had tried so valiantly to hold back, and her cheeks burned with embarrassment and exasperation. She knew she was being dramatic, and part of her regretted not taking Mamoru up on his offer, but it hurt. Sure, Usagi procrastinated, and studying definitely wasn’t her favourite pastime, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t try. Her friends teased her mercilessly about her grades, but she knew it was all in good fun. Mamoru, however, he was serious. That’s what he really saw her as; a stupid teenaged girl, who wasted all her time on video games and milkshakes.
The girl trembled as the wetness seeped through her uniform, and settled on her shoulders. Her vision blurred as the tears continued to fall, unable to escape her thoughts. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, Mamoru’s opinion of her mattered.
“Usagi!” She continued forward, convinced that she was hearing things. “Usagi, stop,” the voice demanded. She ignored it. “Usagi, please.” She halted and turned to face Mamoru sitting in his shiny, red sports car, window down and arm soaked.
“Go away,” she yelled, crossing her brow in confusion – why was he following her?
“Get in, you’re drenched,” he ordered. She looked at him warily, and made no effort to step forward. “Usagi, please just get in the car,” he pleaded, his growing irritation evident in his tone.
Usagi’s focus dropped to the ground as she contemplated his offer. She was wet and cold, and the thought of walking the rest of the way was definitely not appealing. After much internal debate, Usagi walked around to the passenger side of the car, wiping her eyes before she slid into the leather seats.
“Here,” Mamoru offered, unbuckling his belt and taking off his jacket.
“What are you doing?”
“Put this around your shoulders.” He handed her the blazar, and she did as she was instructed, relishing in the warmth of the dry garment. He flicked on the heat in the car, and Usagi could slowly feel her fingertips warming. “How do I get to your house?”
Usagi gave Mamoru directions, saying nothing more than she needed. She watched him from underneath hooded lashes as he navigated through the streets. His eyes flickered to her, almost to check if she were still there. The thunder roared in the skies above, and Usagi’s breath caught in her throat. The hairs on her arms stood on end, and she swallowed nervously. Sensing her fear, Mamoru grabbed her hand and squeezed it lightly.
“They say the safest place to be in a thunderstorm is a car,” he stated, hoping to ease her nerves. Usagi felt her shoulders relax, and her stubborn exterior began to fade. She frowned when Mamoru removed his hand from hers, and secretly hoped for the thunder to return.
“Mamoru, I –” Usagi had no idea what she wanted to say, but the words died quickly in her throat. “That’s my house,” she squeaked, and Mamoru pulled up to the curb. Usagi began to peel his jacket from her wet clothes, but stopped when he gingerly touched her arm.
“Keep it until you get inside. We couldn’t have you getting soaking wet and sick.” He stated, shooting her a cautionary glare, hoping that it wasn’t too late. “Who else would I tease while you’re away?” He smiled charmingly, which caused Usagi to roll her eyes. “Just give it back to me later.” Usagi nodded, clambering out of the car, unable to hide the blushed that stained her cheeks.
Holding the door open, she leaned down. “Thank you,” she said sincerely, her stomach tied in anxious knots – Mamoru wasn’t supposed to make her feel this way.
“Usagi –” He wracked his brain for something to say, knowing that he couldn’t let her leave like this. “Good luck in there. Like Motoki said, it’s just one test. There’s always next time,” he said encouragingly, basking in the radiance of her smile. “I’ll see you around, Odango,” he winked, and Usagi did her best to put on an annoyed scowl.
With a simple wave, Usagi turned to trudge up walkway to her house. She frowned when she reached the door, taking a deep breath in preparation for the upcoming confrontation with her mother. She took one last look over her shoulder at Mamoru, who sat patiently, waiting for her to go in. She waved to him once more, and he returned her gesture with a simple nod. Shifting into drive, Mamoru sped down the street, and Usagi watched after him until he was out of sight. Unable to delay the inevitable any longer, she opened the door and marched inside.
|← Chapter One|