This is about spots.
Stupid, sure, but there is a particular spot in his apartment (see: now it’s hers) that seems to encapsulate all Very Important Moments in their relationship – and okay, maybe a few of the smaller ones too – but Usagi likes to think that there’s just something about that spot.
Take the first time:
The fabric over her knee is torn. She has no idea how she’s going to explain this one to her mother – there’s only so many times Usagi can trip up the stairs on the way to school. The carpet on Mamoru’s floor is cool against her skin though and her back flattens against his couch as she half tucks into the corner, half pulls herself away from him to really look at the open cuts on her knees and thigh.
But Mamoru won’t let it go.
He skins onto his knees, between her legs, pushing her skirt further up her thighs. His palm frames her waist.
“You’re terrible,” he murmurs.
Her nose wrinkles. “I make do, Mamo-chan,” she shoots back.
He ignores her. He does that a lot. He pulls her at her hip too, awkwardly reaching over her and tucking a pillow against her back, drawing her knees forward too. She is leaning into him too much and her shirt is rising over her belly.
“You’re trying too hard,” he tells her, and he’s firm, eyes glittering with that strange, keen understanding. He reads her too well. She hates that he reads her too well.
There are some things that she’d like to keep secret; between him and the girls, life’s become so impossibly loud and there are very little moments to herself that she can have to breathe. He gets that. He gets that too fast. It’s a little frightening how easy it is to give it to him, much scarier than it is to love him too.
She sinks into him. Her elbows hit the pillow. “Not really,” she says.
“You’re lying, Usako,” he teases, and his teeth click lightly. She giggles a little when they press into her throat. “Seriously, awful.”
She makes a sound and his mouth drags over her belly, just a little over her shirt, and then her skirt is tugging down and lower over her thighs. She can feel his palm as it sticks to her skin and she wants to protest no no you’re worrying too much and her favorite, you worry too loudly because it’s just so intense sometimes that she doesn’t know what to do.
“You’re worse,” she breathes, or tries to protest.
His tongue rolls over her belly. She feels his fingers at her thigh.
“This is true,” he agrees.
And then his fingers will be inside of her, slow, lazy, turning as his eyes open to watch her spill over the pillow, into the couch and the floor, sort of haphazard and exhausted as he licks his lips and she is still sticky, wet, and covered in dirt and blood and battles – it’s not the first time she’ll think we’re not perfect but she likes it all the same.
Chibi-Usa curls too quickly into the couch. She can’t be mad. She can’t look either.
Mamoru’s fingers curl in her dress.
“Yeah,” she sighs, maybe too hard, maybe too obvious.
He makes a noise in his throat. It cracks and presses against her shoulder.
“You’re a terrible liar,” he says, and it’s so sure, so certain, that she forgets that the length of time they’ve known each other and the difference between this life and that one. She concentrates on the way his thumb seems to roll into patterns, over her hip, trying too hard not to sigh it away again.
But it doesn’t matter. Mamoru’s apartment is still a mass of contradictions, too small, too wide, bits of herself rolling around and mixed with Chibi-Usa’s things now – jackets, her school bag, a few things from her future daughter’s classroom. She doesn’t know what to think.
“She’s too small,” she says, after awhile.
He scoffs. “She’s just like you,” he tells her, like it’s obviously, just like the girls too – they all see her in Chibi-Usa and that unnerves her. If anything, she would want any child of her to just be – just be them and that’s so strange and stupid and naïve since she’s barely out of school and her whole world continues to stay shaken as if it were some predictable habit.
She doesn’t say anything though. She untangles slowly from Mamoru, moving to the couch and reaching for the blanket that he dragged over the small girl. She’s sure he’ll drag her away and tomorrow, she and Chibi-Usa will be back to being at each other’s throat. But she doesn’t want this. She doesn’t want the look that she sees in this little girl’s eyes, wide and uncomfortable.
No, she thinks. You should be you. Her fingers trail over her cheeks.
“We should move her to your room,” she murmurs.
“She’ll wake up,” he replies, coming up to stand next to her.
Usagi meets his gaze. He shrugs and smiles, knocking his hip into hers.
“Stop worrying,” he says too.
She rolls her eyes. “You’re the one that worries too loud,” she mutters, flushing. She draws back from Chibi-Usa and Mamoru’s fingers lace with hers. He tugs her back and they nearly trip against the edge of the close.
His mouth catches hers. “Stop,” he murmurs.
She tastes him – sharp, startled, full and there. There is the coffee from this morning too. She licks his lips, up and against the roof of his mouth, his teeth touching her tongue too. One of them makes a sound. It doesn’t matter.
It’s still her hands that rise, her thumbs cocked under his jaw, her hips pushing into his as his arm slides around her waist. She does not kiss him softly. She thinks she doesn’t know how to anymore – she is loud, she is unrelenting, she cannot be anything but bright and he swallows, takes, and keeps her as she is.
When she breaks away, he’s breathless, smiling too.
“It’s scary for me too,” he says seriously. Then awkwardly, he’s pulling his hands away from her hips, straightening. His mouth narrows and thins. “Family – I don’t even know how to begin to think about it,” he says.
She shakes her head. “You’re so good at this,” she murmurs. “And I’m – ” she’s reaching, grasping really, “ – and I’m, I’m so not good at this, you know?”
“You’re better than me,” he interjects.
Her eyes roll.
“You really are.” His eyes are sharp. His fingers tuck under her chin. “You just don’t know it – ” he shakes his head, his mouth pursing, “I think she just needs a friend and that’s what you’re giving her. You’re not even allowing for excuses. She’s here and you’re here and what you can do for her is really listen and – ”
She’s blushing, uncomfortable. “You’re rambling, Mamo-chan,” she half-teases too.
He laughs a little, rubbing the back of her head.
“You know what I mean,” he says.
They both go still, so very still. There’s a sharp rustle from the couch. Then there’s a sigh. Then there’s a slight whimper that makes something curl and uncurl inside of Usagi; it’s harsh and unforgiving. It scares her more than it should; she wants to go to Chibi-Usa, but she recoils back, and digs into Mamoru’s arms, her eyes closing as she buries herself against his chest.
Somewhere in this she remembers to breathe.
As far as Very Important Moments, there are things that don’t follow the timeline. Usagi goes to school. Mamoru goes to school. He pinches her cheek. They fight. She cries and kicks and hates her math homework with the passion of – well, it doesn’t matter, does it?
Sometimes those Very Important Moments seem to curb and curl and wait for them when they’re least expecting it. She doesn’t like it. But then there’s something, there are many things, that are not quite like surprises:
“What are you reading?”
There is no time to react. The length of Mamoru’s body covers her own and she’s so, so startled – enough to drop her notebook and the rest of her home, watching it scatter and flutter away. She thinks she should be angry. There’s a weird little giggle that escapes and she remembers then that it’s finally, finally just her and Mamoru and the total emptiness of his apartment.
“I don’t think it matters,” she breathes, and his grin faces her shoulder. He’s heavy and he’s not and these moments, these stupid moments are so rare and light that she forgets sometimes that he’s never this light this often.
Her fingers find her book. She tries and humors him.
“But I’m done,” he says.
Her lips curl. “I’m not,” she shoots back.
“But – ” and his laughs comes as a short surprise, pursing against her shoulder again, “you always get to do this with me.”
“You let me.”
He laughs warmly this time. “Yeah, well –”
She is not dreaming. Maybe she is still new to this. In her head, she thinks the coolness of a wall, a sharp cue of the wall. Brick is cool, brick is wet, and really, she should just go and call it marble and be finished with it. But then there are the memories of roses and the smells, the lull really, of what feels right and what is more than just a memory.
She feels much happier keeping it to here. It’s a learning process just as well.
She closes her book.
“I’m done anyway.”
“Usa – ” he tries to scold, but there’s laughter in his voice as well.
Her nose wrinkles.
“Mamo-chan,” she mocks.
He reaches over her, too long for his own good – there is his knees to her knees, pressed and cocked as his hands close over her wrists, tugging at them to reach for her book. He pushes to hard and she makes a slight sound, an oooff, dragging as she turns and tucks into him, only to push herself underneath him.
It’s his knee that slides between her legs and she’s giggling, she can’t help it, and her mouth is catching his, the book dropping somewhere off to the side as he focus over her mouth and she in his.
Kisses are never simple. Mamoru is coarse and his mouth is tight and thin, as if he’s still uncertain about letting her in. There’s another memory there, a bigger one, about a prince and her own issues. Politics are more than just grey. She believes in a way of life and that scares her more than it should. But she does focus on Mamoru and only Mamoru because he is skin and bones and already, already, he just loves her and only her outside of what they are supposed and expected to know.
“Can you tell me what it’s about?” he asks.
“Oh,” she says and her lips curl against his. “Now, you’re just being mean.”
“Am not,” he says.
“Are too,” she argues.
She kisses him this way too. Her teeth bite at his lip. She is careful and she is curious, relearning his mouth at the tip of her tongue – she tastes him, over her his teeth, his tongue too, and she’s sharper than she wants to be. She sucks at his lip and he sighs, pressing his hips harder, firmer against hers..
Sometimes he scares her like this. She isn’t sure why – he’s larger than life, he’s so very real, making this more real than monsters and the girls and all facets of her other life and this life.
“I love you,” he says quietly, for her, just for her.
The couch looms over her head. She cranes her neck and it hurts, slight and too subtle against her throat.
Her mouth is wet with answers.
Minako calls it The Great Dumpling Incident of the Summer.
She even has background music for it. It’s not even that dramatic.
There are four more Dumpling Incidents. Her wedding ring proves it.
But that’s beside the point.
Smaller moments are rare – there are the girls, there is Chibi-Usa, and there are the outers and now, of course, there is the Shitennou. There is no time to explain the ring around Usagi’s finger for what is; anything else beyond that is self-explanatory and there are little bits of her that would really rather be selfish with their moments than anything else.
Kris is new to their family.
So is Jason, and of course, there is Nathan, and off to the side is Zeke – who isn’t really comfortable with personal space and sharing. Acknowledgement is a large step, after all, and Usagi can understand it.
“You didn’t order enough,” Mamoru murmurs to her.
Usagi frowns, mouth thin, and Minako groans rather loudly, sharing a look with Kris – who really just looks confused, nonetheless.
(Minako will hold his arm and pull him close. What she won’t say is remember. Instead, she’ll grin – and rather fiercely, rather cruelly – hold him close, her mouth at his ear and say, “Just get used to it, okay?”)
“I so did,” she says, and Usagi is cupping her own box of dumplings to herself, holding herself over it too, chopsticks in hand and glaring at her husband as if this were some large, large conspiracy that he was throwing together for her. Her mouth is sharp and she is trying not to glare either.
“No,” he still says. He’s standing over the spot she’s taken up by the couch. The pillow is firm against her back too. “I’m pretty sure that’s my dumpling box.”
She shakes her head, hair whipping against her face. “You’re crazy. This is mine, you know.”
Her eyes narrow. “We have company, Mamo-chan.”
She abandon her chopsticks because it’s not about patience anymore, it’s about strategy, and well, her dumplings are in danger and she knows better than to leave them hanging about, heavy handed and steaming and just so delicious.
It’s from the store around the corner and she’s pretty sure that Minako is well-past understanding just how good these dumplings are and how between her and Mamoru, these dumplings will not survive. They just can’t.
“You have a box in the kitchen.”
Mamoru shrugs. “I gave that to our guest.”
“How kind of you.” She cups her box, drawing it into her knees. She steals a fork now too and the box settles against her this. “But I’m so not sharing. You just didn’t order enough, Mamo-chan.”
“Here we go,” Minako mutters.
“I did too.” He slides to the floor, with her. “I just want one,” he says.
“You never just want one,” she argues.
“It’s just a dumpling,” he argues, and he’s between her legs, of course, he’s between her legs and she tries to draw herself up against the couch. But the stupid pillow is too flat and she stabs her fork into the dumpling yet again, nearly missing it as she pulls it to her mouth.
Her teeth sink into the end. His follow; her eyes are narrow.
“This always happens,” Minako whispers loudly.
Kris chokes. He doesn’t get it. It doesn’t matter. She’s already biting into the dumpling and Mamoru is as well – his teeth sink into the end and no, no this won’t do. He can’t have her dumpling.
They glare at each other.
“Should we do something?” Kris asks.
“No,” Minako says. “Rei made that mistake –” there’s a pause because Mamoru chokes, even while remaining so serious. It’s a funny story and she’d rather not get into because it involves dumplings, and more dumplings, and dumplings and Rei and Rei swore up and down that it was a pack of silence.
“So just don’t do it,” Kris finishes.
Minako laughs and shrugs.
“Or order enough,” she says.
Minako and Kris leave early enough. Usagi doesn’t worry. Mamoru’s fingers are inside her, between her legs and it’s an odd, strange thing, the salty taste of sauce and him and just oh this, it’s just that good, so good, and neither of them have anything to say,
She is sticky and wet. Ordering dumplings are hard enough.
Mamoru really doesn’t share.
That couch has seen a lot.
“Let’s get married.”
And there is:
“Are you really asking me?” she doesn’t mean this to be coy, or hard, or coy and hard. If anything Usagi is too honest with Mamoru. It’s an extraordinary habit.
But it’s also really weird to think, so weird, that it’s seen her bare and barren, bruised, with an open, harsh gash over her belly, blood ready to spill and finish right over his carpet as his first aid kit and his hands struggle to mend her. They won’t talk about these moments, as there’s nothing to say – it’s not extraordinary, it’s hard and coarse and Mamoru can never talk about her blood on his hands. It’s one of those things that just truly linger between them.
This is living though.
Long after Small Lady’s return, after she is in one piece and Serenity looks at her sons and thinks this can never happen again even though she understands too well what the inevitable end is going to be for her. It’s Cosmos that looms and stares at her in her face, knowing full well that her greatest fear is her cowardice in the face of her family and those she loves too much.
But that doesn’t matter. It’s how he finds her.
It’s how he finds her, long and elaborate ball gown, crunched and cinched at her waist, over her knees as she tucks them into her chest. She tries to be impossible small but none of it, not one bit works in her favor. It’s just her as Serenity and no longer Usagi and really, it’s no more frightening than this.
The couch is firm enough against her back.
“I just wanted – ” she starts, but doesn’t finish.
“It’s okay,” he says, but it’s more so out of practice than anything else. She can’t fault him for that. They’ve had this conversation before.
“She looked so small in her bed,” she says tiredly. Her fingers pinch the bridge of her nose. “I just wanted her to be able to have her freedom,” she says.
“We both did,” he agrees, and she flushes.
“Sorry,” she mutters.
Endymoin moves and kneels in front of her. His fingers catch her chin.
“You’re still too hard on yourself,” he says fondly.
She rolls her eyes, her fingers digging into her dress. “I’m terrible,” she mutters, and then she is pulling her dress over her knees, dragging the fabric back as she meets his gaze. “I just –” and she thinks about what she remembers, of demons and mortality and loss, such a firm loss, of things that made her, shape her and built. In between that, there was what she promised herself and what she kept for her daughter – it was going to be different, it was going to be so different this time around. And then it wasn’t.
There are always things set and stone.
“She’s fine,” he says.
She pushes his chest, her fingers curling at his jacket.
“She’s fine,” he says again.
“You say that now,” she mumbles, and she’s turning all sorts of memories in her head, her legs relaxing. The fabric of her dress flutters out and rests and the King is settling at her side, like it’s nothing, resting as he presses a hand at her hip. They both know: their daughter is bound to grow up as they did, too big, too fast and much, much too soon.
It’s an odd picture, of course. And she misses those days – you know, those days, the ones in that apartment, back when he was just a doctor and she was still guessing. Would she be a politician. Would she just be a teach – she would be a good teacher. She would be too patient, maybe too sympathetic. But no matter. She likes to think she’d like teaching. She was that student once.
“I wish it were different,” she confesses, too softly.
He licks his lips and presses his mouth over her forehead.
“We’d still be in that apartment,” he says.
“You wanted a house,” she chides.
“Not too big.” She feels him smile against her skin. “It would just be the –”
She rolls her eyes, laughing into her interruption. “You like closed and tight spaces, Mamo-chan,” she murmurs, soft. Her fingers skim over the buttons of his chest. She says his name fondly too; these days, these things are too private. “You’re also that much of a dork,” she murmurs.
“I can still hear you worrying,” he murmurs.
It’s his mouth over hers, and it’s almost a mirror: her dress drags up her thighs and then slowly, really slowly, her hands find the back of his jacket, pushing it off of his shoulders. It loops around his elbows and he’s grinning against her mouth because that, that is still what he does.
Because this is one of those Very Important Moments and what Minako doesn’t know is that the old couch, in her study and not his, deep in the palace is that very same couch that lived in their apartment, that they re-replaced her replacement (seriously, she doesn’t need to know) and kept through the good, the bad, and all those stupid fights they had – between bruises and honesly usa and her own, serious and taunt mouth. She learned that from him too, you see. She learned how to fight hard and loud and just that bright for herself.
But those Very Important Moments are hidden again, and Serenity cups Endymoin’s face, no longer preoccupied with the safety of her family, in its various forms. She won’t kiss him yet. Instead she takes him in. Each form. Each wrinkle. Every handsome line in the matter of his face. His eyes are still too stunning, still too bright, and it’s uncomfortable and it’s scary, between the weight of old prophecies and the promise of what’s to come.
This is how she kisses him.
That hasn’t changed.
- and don’t worry, okay?