Just a Nudge
From behind a curtain of shimmering white and pink gossamer, Venus, goddess of love, looked down at the Earth and frowned. There was a definite lack of love on the rocky little planet below. Everywhere she looked it was deadlines and gridlock, fast food and fast lanes. Rush rush rush. No one took the time to fall in love anymore. She twirled a strand of golden hair in her slender fingers and sighed. It was so sad. So sad in fact that it was depressing her and that was unacceptable. Something had to be done.
She snapped her fingers summoning her cherubic son, Cupid.
With a flutter of tiny wings, her flush cheeked son appeared before her. "Yes mother?"
She smiled at him. "Hello, son. I want you to spread some love down there."
Cupid looked down the side of the mountain and frowned at what he saw.
The goddess smiled at his apprehension. "It will not be easy, but I have faith in you. Now go."
The tiny figure bowed in mid air and took off. "You can count on me mother."
Venus settled back on her chaise and picked up her mirror with which she could see his progress. "Let the games begin."
Cupid flew down to the dreary little planet and quickly transformed himself into someone a little less conspicuous. He looked around at his surroundings and quickly borrowed a nose here and a chin there until he was happy with how he looked. By the time he was finished he was tall and handsome with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Seeing everyone else had books, he conjured up a few of his own along with a bag. He looked down at himself and satisfied that he fit in he began to wander around the building he chose to start on.
He headed inside and looked around. Boy did things look different down here. Everything was enclosed and frankly he was starting to feel a little claustrophobic.
He shook off the feeling and looked around. He noticed a few girls looking at him, admiring his looks. He smiled politely and kept walking. Maybe he should have chosen a better disguise. Cupid shook his head. Too late now.
He wandered around for a while looking for a potential target. He was about to choose a homely looking girl that he felt sorry for, when a blonde whirlwind swept past him.
His attention piqued, he decided to follow her.
Serena rushed through the halls of the university. She had to get back read and chapter of her biology text then get showered and ready for work. She glanced at her watch. Not much time. She barely slowed down when she collided into someone.
"I'm so sorry." Serena managed to keep a hold of her books. She tossed the apology over her shoulder and kept going, leaving a tall dark silhouette watching her retreating figure.
She hastily said hi to a few people she recognized and ran up to the miniscule room she was calling home for a few months. By the time she arrived, she decided there wasn't enough time to do everything.
Skipping the reading, she took a brisk shower and got dressed in her uniform. Saying a quick hello to her roommate, she ran out the door and headed straight for the bus stop.
Several other students stood with her at the stop all looking at their watches impatiently until the bus pulled up. One by one they filed on and either dropped in the appropriate change or flashed a pass.
Serena stuck her pass back into her pocket and grabbed the closest empty seat she could find. Unfortunately it was packed so she was unable to find two empty seats together, which was the way she liked it.
She slid into the hard vinyl covered seat, careful not to touch the other person. Serena made herself comfortable and pulled out her textbook. She found her page and started to read, completely unaware of the eyes peering over her shoulder.
"Biology huh?" a deep voice commented.
Serena didn't even look up. "Yeah."
"Is that where you were coming from when you nearly barrelled me over?"
Serena looked up then, straight at an incredibly handsome man. "Was that you? I'm so sorry." She let her book fall into her lap. "I didn't hurt you did I?"
Sensuous lips curled into a devastating smile as he chuckled softly. "No. No you didn't. Are you ok?"
His smile and mood were infectious. "I'm fine."
They sat silently for a moment, before he interrupted the mood. "So where are you headed?"
"To work." That reminded her. Serena took a look at her watch and sighed. She was going to be late. "And it looks like I'm going to be late. Again."
"I'm sure your boss will understand." He stuck out his hand. "How rude of me. I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Darien Chiba."
She took his hand, noticing the warm tingle that zapped up her arm at the simple contact. "Nice to meet you. I'm Serena Tsukino."
He held her hand a beat longer than was necessary, and then forced himself to let go.
Serena smiled warmly at him, obviously over the initial shyness stage. "So do you go to this university too?"
"Sort of." He stopped talking when she stood up and leaned over him to ring pull the bell to stop the bus. He could clearly see her wonderfully lean body outlined under her uniform. Darien cleared his throat and turned away from the all too appealing sight.
Serena sat back down and waited for the bus to slow, completely unaware of the effect she had on the man sitting next to her. "My stop's coming up." She mumbled sheepishly. Duh! Why else would she be ringing the stupid bell? "Well it was nice meeting you, Darien. Maybe we'll see each other again?" She got up and was surprised when he did as well.
"This just so happens to be my stop as well." He gathered his things and walked with her to the door. "Small world, huh?" Serena laughed, the tinkling sound warmed Darien's heart.
"Yeah." Together they walked down the darkening street.
Venus was smiling at the scene. This looked quite promising. They didn't seem to need any help from Cupid, yet.
Minerva walked into the room in her habitual garb, armour and a helmet. "Venus what are you grinning at?
Venus waved a finger at the mirror. "These mortals."
Minerva walked over and took a glance at the image. "You're not playing with mortals again are you?"
She shook her head defensively. "I just thought that they could use a little love down there. They all look so depressed." She sniffed at the other goddess' obvious disapproval. "Looks like you could use a little distraction as well."
The goddess of wisdom shook her dark head. "When will you learn it is not simply good looks and a nice body that makes up love?"
Venus stiffened defensively. "Oh and what would you know about love?"
"I know enough to know that it is also about a meeting of the mind. If they don't have things in common then it would never work out." She took another look at the couple in the mirror. "He may be good looking, but if he's a complete moron and she's intelligent, or vice versa, it just won't work. They couldn't talk to each other."
"Who needs to talk when you're with someone who looks like that?" she smiled appreciatively at the image of Darien smiling, her meaning very clear.
Minerva took a look and smile. "A wager then. We both take turns manipulating them and see who wins the favourable outcome."
Venus' eyes glowed at the thought of it. "Agreed."
Cupid got off the bus as well and kept a few metres behind, so as not to arouse suspicion. This looked promising. He could shoot them and that'd be it. He could go home and relax with Psyche. No more mucking around this ridiculous place. He looked around to make sure no one was around and pulled out his bow and arrow. Taking aim at the couple he drew back his bow.
"Wait!" the lyrical voice came out of thin air.
Cupid sighed and brought down his bow. "What is it mother?"
"There has been a change in plans. We want you to carry out our orders."
Cupid rolled his eyes. He knew it was too good to be true. They couldn't resist playing. "Alright, mother. But could you make this quick? It's horrible down here."
Venus laughed. "It seems impatience isn't only a mortal problem. Just do as we say and then you can come home."
Cupid sighed. "Ok. What do I have to do first?" Cupid stuck his tongue out at the group of girls who were looking at him strangely for talking to himself.
Minerva's commanding voice rang out. "Get them to go to her workplace together and start them talking."
He shook his head and put away the bow. The things he had to do. "Whatever." He caught up with the couple and followed them down the darkening sidewalk.
Serena looked at Darien. "So where are you headed?"
Cupid snapped his fingers.
Darien blinked. "That diner over there."
Serena shook her head. "No way. That's where I work."
Now what in world made him say that? "Like I said, it's a small world." He continued talking even though he wanted to stop. "The owner is a friend of mine."
"Wow. What a coincidence."
He opened the door for her and they walked in together. Serena headed straight to the back to explain her tardiness.
Darien followed close behind trying to figure out what he heck he was doing. He nearly got hit in the nose when the door swung open and Serena and her boss walked out.
"I'm really sorry, Mr Furuhata. It won't happen again."
"I told you Serena, it's ok. Just don't make a habit out of it." He walked past Darien without so much as a glance.
Cupid walked in just in time to see it and snapped his fingers.
He did a double take and smiled broadly at Darien. "Darien! Long time no see!" he slapped him on the back like he'd known him all his life.
Darien blinked his metal blue eyes. "Andrew! Great to see you. So you still own this place, huh?"
"I'd never give it up." He dragged his ‘friend' over to a booth and sat him down. "So what brings you this way?"
He had no idea actually. "Just thought that'd I'd come by and see how my old college roomie was doing. It was just coincidence that I happened to be on a bus with Serena there."
Serena was hovering nearby and nearly dropped her tray when she heard her name. She smiled shyly and ran off into the kitchen.
Venus crossed her beautiful eyes. "Conversation isn't getting them anywhere. Look at them." She waved her hand at the image. "They're not even talking."
Minerva sighed. "Then do something about it. It's your turn."
A loud crash came from the kitchen and then an even louder wail. An instant later, Serena came running out of the room clutching her hand, which was wrapped in a towel.
Andrew was up in a second. "Serena what happened?"
Serena sniffed, trying to stem her tears. "I don't know. One second I'm taking the glasses out of the sterilizer and the next the rack is falling over. I managed to clean some of it up but I ended up cutting myself." She held out her hand in demonstration.
Darien blinked. "Here let me see." He tugged her over to him by her good hand.
Andrew blinked and nodded. "Yeah, he should take a look. He is a doctor after all."
Cupid felt a pinch on the back of his neck. "Hey! I want to have some fun too! I'm the one stuck down here!" he noticed a waitress warily keeping her distance from him. He waved her over. "Hello! Can I get a coke over here?" She ran off without a word. He looked up at the ceiling. "Can you get a move on? People are starting to think I'm nuts. If this takes much longer they'll be carting me off soon!"
When he got no answer, he turned his attention back the booth on the other side of the divider and watched sullenly as they checked the girl over.
Darien sat her down in his spot and knelt down in front of her. Gently he unwrapped the towel and looked at her finger. The cut wasn't all that deep, though he didn't think that she should continue working that night. He smiled into her teary azure eyes. "I think you'll live."
Serena smiled a wobbly little smile. "I should probably get it stitched up." She cringed. "I hate emergency rooms. No. I hate hospitals period. She tried to pull away from Darien but he didn't let her go.
"You're in luck. I was giving a lecture on first aid at the university." He opened up his bag. Funny, he didn't remember bringing a bag. Of course he couldn't remember having a friend who owned a diner either. He reached inside and pulled out a bottle of peroxide and rolls and rolls of gauze. "See everything you need and no hospital in sight."
Andrew laughed. "You two can use my office." He pointed at the room at the back. "Just try not to bleed all over everything ok?"
Serena smiled wryly. "I'll try not to."
Darien helped her up and let her lead the way. They walked into the small room and he shut the door behind him. "Where would you rather sit?" he pointed at the couch and then at the chair at the desk.
Serena walked over to the couch and sat down.
Darien sat down next to her and took her hand again. That was strange. He usually preferred being directly in front of a patient. "Now I'm going to check to see if the wound is clean ok?"
Serena blinked. "Yeah I know. Cleanse out the wound before you patch it up. That way there's less chance of an infection." Where the heck did that come from?
Darien looked at her in amazement. Intrigued, he fired another question at her. "That's right. Then what do I do?"
"Clean it out with an antiseptic."
"What are you majoring in?"
Biology. "I want to get into medicine." She blurted it out before she could stop herself.
"Good for you. It's tough at first but it's really rewarding to help people."
"That's what I hear." And that's what convinced her not to go into it, all that insane work and then interning. It all sounded like a nightmare. She didn't think she could handle the stress. "I can't wait to graduate."
"I can imagine." He cleaned out her would as gently as he could. He poised the bottle over her hand. "It's going to sting."
Serena closed her eyes and let out a hissing breath when he poured the disinfectant over her wound. Biting her lip, she waved her hand around.
Darien took it, fully intending to stop her from doing what she was doing. Instead he found himself bringing her finger to his lips. Tenderly he blew on it, taking the sting away. What was that? He probably just managed to blow a million germs onto her finger. But that didn't matter when she smiled at him.
Serena smiled. That was so sweet. "Thanks."
"No problem. Now how about we bandage that baby up, huh?"
She obediently held out her hand while he wrapped it up neatly in the gauze.
"There you go. You'll be as good as new in no time."
Serena looked at it. "You do nice work, doctor."
He helped her up off the couch and opened the door. "Thanks."
Andrew was busy bringing out food when he saw them. He quickly dropped them off at the appropriate table and walked over. "Serena, you can go ahead and take the rest of the week off." He blinked. "Heck, take as long as you need. All paid of course."
Serena stared at him. "Really?"
"Absolutely. Now get out of here before I change my mind." He turned to Darien and shook his hand. "Thanks for stopping by and patching up my best waitress. I owe you."
Darien grinned. "No problem. We'll have to do this again soon. See you later."
"Bye." Andrew waved at them through the window.
They walked for a while on the sidewalk before Darien broke the silence.
"So what do you want to do now?"
She shrugged. "I really should get b—" she blinked. "There's a nice park not too far from here. Feel like going for a walk?"
"Absolutely." He let her take his hand and lead the way. Now this was completely unlike him. What was he doing out in the middle of the night with some girl he'd just met? Instead of backing out like he knew he should, Darien simply followed where she lead.
Serena stopped in the middle of a beautiful moonlit park. Strange. She'd never been here before. Still, it was so gorgeous she forgot the fact. The landscape was clearly lit up by the light of the moon. Everywhere she looked she could see the silvery reflections of the trees and plants there. Even at the ground near their feet she could see little shoots start to poke their way through the earth. Everything was beginning to bloom again.
She looked up at Darien. He was smiling at the scene as well.
Serena took a good look at him for the first time that night. He certainly was good looking. In fact, she couldn't think of anyone better looking. She watched the way that the slight breeze ruffled his hair over his eyes. Oh those eyes. Even in the dim light she could see how vividly blue they were. Her eyes glided over his defined cheekbones and down to his sumptuous lips. They just made her want to grab him and kiss him until they were both completely breathless.
She gasped, startled by her thoughts. Serena tore her eyes away from him and stared intently at the shimmering pond. What was coming over her?
Darien turned to the slight woman next to him.
She was breathtaking. Everything about her was just exquisite. How could he not have seen it before? She was staring at the pond like it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
Darien held his hand out to her. For some insane reason he just wanted to..."Care to dance?"
Without a second thought, she took his hand. "I would love to."
They moved easily together to a melody only they could hear.
"You know what could make this better?" Serena heard him whisper into her ear.
"A band—" Serena stopped her sentence dead when she heard the strains of violins and a cello.
Surprised they looked over to see a trio of musicians sitting near the pond playing like it was what they did everyday.
They stopped playing when they saw the couple looking at them. The cellist smiled weakly.
"We were passing through and when we saw you two we just couldn't help ourselves. We'll leave if you want us to."
She shook her head. Serena turned back to Darien and they shared a laughed. The day was already strange enough. They weren't going to question something like this. Serena leaned her head on his shoulder as they moved to the music. It just felt so right.
Cupid smiled from his hiding place behind a tree. "Ok mother, how's that?"
"Just a little more son. We're not quite convinced yet."
Cupid sagged against the tree. "You know Jupiter isn't going to like this."
"We'll worry about that later. You worry about getting them together."
What more could he do besides throw them into bed together? Then he had an idea. He snapped his fingers.
Serena and Darien fell headlong into the pond.
He was the first to recover and leant down to help her to her feet.
"What happened?" Serena spluttered. She wiped her hair out of her face and grimaced when she found a weed in it. She quickly removed it.
Darien shook his head miserably, letting the water run down his face. "I don't know." He looked at her and then down at his waterlogged self. "We've better get out of these clothes."
Serena nodded, her hair shaking soggily with her head.
"We can go to my place. It's not too far from here." He gathered up their stuff and they walked out of the park.
Serena was shivering uncontrollably as they headed over to his place. Darien noticed this and stopped her.
He touched her cheek with the palm of his hand. "You're freezing." He picked up the only article of clothing that was still dry; his coat, and put it around her shoulders.
"T...tt...thanks." She smiled when he put his arm around her again. It felt so nice. It was like she was protected when she was with him. It was an incredible feeling.
Darien looked down at her and smiled. He liked the way that she fit against him. It was like they were made for one another.
They walked a few blocks before they arrived at a modest looking house in the middle of suburbia.
"Well here it is, home." He looked at her anxiously awaiting her approval. Darien was starting to get use to the strange feeling. He'd never felt anxious around anyone before. Nor did he ever feel quite the way he felt when he was around Serena.
Serena smiled. "It's very nice." She looked at the little bungalow and realized it was the kind of home she'd always wanted.
He bundled her through the front door and into the tidy living room. She shied away from stepping on his immaculate plush carpet.
Darien waved his arm carelessly. "Don't worry about it. Go on in. the bathroom is the first of the right. I'll see if I can find you something to change into."
"Are you sure?" she looked around his place and felt like she was soiling it just standing there all dirty in the doorway.
"Yeah go ahead. I can always get it cleaned." He pushed her gently toward the hall. "No go before you catch a cold or something."
"Alright, alright!" laughing, Serena headed over to the room he specified and closed the door. This had to be the most absurd situation she had ever been in and yet she'd never been happier.
She opened up a linen closet and pulled out a fluffy towel and wrapped it around her head. Then she got undressed and wrapped another one around herself. An instant later there was a knock at the door. Timidly, she opened it and stuck her head through.
An arm snaked in and waved a bundle of clothes at her, accompanied by a muffled voice. "Here. I think these won't swamp you too much. I hope. Give them a try."
"Thanks. I'm sure they'll do fine." She made sure the door was securely closed before taking the towel off.
He'd given her a t-shirt, a sweatshirt and an old pair of jeans. She pulled the shirt over her head and then the sweatshirt. They smelled of him and whatever fabric softener he used. It was intoxicating. Serena took another sniff of the sleeve then walked out of the room.
Darien was already changed and was waiting for her in the living room, sitting in a luxurious leather chair and drying his hair at the same time. He smiled when he saw her.
"Hey." His voice was rough. "I'm making some cocoa."
"Sounds great." She sat opposite him on the cushy sofa. She looked around his living room. "I really like your place."
Darien laughed. "I'm sure you'd say that about just about every house when compared to dorm living."
She laughed, nodding all the while. "Yeah. No kidding." Her laughing slowed when he sat down beside her. "No, really. I like your home. It's very nice." Her voice sounded trembly even to her own ears.
Darien leaned in closer stopping a breath away from her, his voice lowered to a whisper. "You've already said that." Tentatively he touched his lips to hers.
Serena's eyes fluttered shut as the wave of sensation flooded through her system. Her arms took the initiative and moved themselves around his broad shoulders, settling on them comfortably. Before she knew it she was pressed up against him, and enjoying it tremendously.
Darien pulled her closer, loving the feel of her against him. He deepened the kiss, sending shockwave after shockwave of pure feeling racing through him.
He pulled back when the shrill whistle of his kettle pierced the silence.
They stared at each other a moment before he got up reluctantly to fetch the cocoa he promised.
Serena ran a shaky hand through her damp hair. Wow. If he could make her feel like that with just a kiss, imagine what he could do...
She stopped the thoughts dead in their tracks. Now that definitely wasn't like her. Serna got up and walked over to the fireplace. She busied herself with it to take her mind off of where her mind was traitorously straying.
"You can forget about the fireplace. It's been broken since I moved in here." He put the steaming mugs on the coffee table in front of them. "No one has been able to fix it."
"Aw. That's too bad." She flicked at the switch anyway, not really expecting anything to happen.
They both turned in astonishment when it flickered to life instantly warming the room with both heat and light.
Darien shook his head. What was next? "I have a toaster in the kitchen that could use your touch."
"I think I'll save that until later." Serena sat back down next to him. "Is it me or has this day been a little...weird?"
He leaned back and put his arm around her shoulders. "It's definitely been strange. But I'm not complaining." He turned to her gazing straight into her eyes. "Are you?"
"No way." She leaned into him. "As a matter of fact, I'm loving every minute of it."
Venus laughed triumphantly. "There you go. They've fallen for each other and all it needed was a little nudge in the right direction."
Minerva snorted. "Please. All you've done is thrown them into a romantic situation. If you had given me half a chance—"
Her tirade was cut short by a loud booming voice that reverberated through everything.
Venus cowered behind her mirror while Minerva simply looked down at her sandaled feet.
"I will not allow you two to meddle in their lives anymore. Haven't you realized that they are meant to be? If you two hadn't started meddling they would have eventually found each other anyways. Now stop interfering. Except for you Cupid. Do your job and come back home."
There was a brilliant flash of light. And when it cleared a familiar scene could be seen.
Serena ran up the stairs leading out of the university. She was going to be late again. She shoved open the door and ran up the path toward the dorms. In her hurry she didn't see the shadow to her side and subsequently crashed straight into him sending books flying in every direction.
She jumped up. "I'm so sorry." Serena ran around trying to gather the books back up. "Are you ok?"
A deep voice answered, "I'm fine. Are you ok?" he handed her a book. "I think this is yours."
"Thanks." Serena took it from him, her hand grazing his.
A jolt of electricity arced between them.
Cupid stood behind the tree watching the exchange, his bow drawn and ready. Then suddenly he shook his head and put his bow away. He looked up at the sky.
"You know what? They don't need my help."
In a puff of pink smoke, he changed back into his true form and flew back up to join the rest of the Pantheon, happy in the knowledge there was at least one couple in the world that was in true love.
Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!