Greatest Love of All
Rei walked down the sidewalk with his hands in his pockets as he admired the dazzling lights and displays up everywhere. Even though Japan didn't exactly celebrate Christmas they were obviously still happy for the excuse to decorate. It was rather cold out too and even with his warm leather jacket he was still feeling the chill which would possibly be because he'd neglected to wear his mitts, Rei thought with a smirk. Oh well, served him right. Whistling lightly under his breath Rei hoped it would snow, there was nothing like snow at Christmas. Having lived in L.A. for so long before coming back to Japan he was use to celebrating it, use to the tradition and fun of it. He'd even put up a tree and everything. Of course a lot of people found it weird to find a tree in the living room but then he'd always been the type to march to the beat of his own drum as Harumi put it. Speaking of people he still had some shopping to do. Sighing good naturedly at the thought Rei wondered if he could talk Kira into doing his shopping for him. There were just too many people in shopping malls. Hearing his name being called Rei turned his head then blinked a couple times as he recognized the two people coming towards him. Well one was coming towards him, the other was being dragged behind her, Rei thought with a smirk. Poor Takemura, always letting Shiori lead him around by the nose.
"It is you, Rei!" Shiori said as she handed off her shopping bags to Takemura before rushing over to hug Rei tightly, her face beaming with joy as she held onto him like a limpet.
"Yup, it's me. Hey, Takemura." Rei said as he lifted a hand to wave at Takemura who was standing there with a bemused and sad look on his face. Takemura had always had a thing for Shiori and had always let her lead him around like a pet. Even when she'd dated first Sei and then himself Takemura had always just stood silently in the wing, watching her. Rei doubted Shiori even realized how Takemura felt. Shiori had never liked to notice things that didn't suit her.
"Hey, Rei. Long time no see." Takemura replied with a smile as Shiori finally let go and allowed Rei to breath. "You're looking good."
"Same goes. Are you two out shopping then?" Rei asked as he ignored Shiori even as she pouted up at him. When it came to Shiori it was really the only way to handle it and her. Sometimes it was really the only way you could get through to her that the world didn't revolve around her.
"Yes, a friend of ours has a birthday next week so Takemura and I decided to go shopping together." Shiori said with a beaming smile as she wrapped an arm around Rei's, all sunny and full of goodwill despite Rei's rather cool reception. "It's so great running into you, Rei. We've missed you a lot. It's been like five years, hasn't it? You look great."
"Thanks, you look nice as well. And yeah, it has been a while but we've all been busy, right?" Rei said with his regular easy going smile despite the fact that this situation could go bad quick. Shiori would think nothing of throwing a scene in public after all. It was something she was very good at . "I'd like to stay and chat but I have to get going, I'm meeting someone and I can't be late or in big trouble." Rei said as he tried to tug his arm out from Shiori's hold. "But maybe I'll see you guys around again. Have a drink or something."
"Why don't we walk with you?" Shiori suggested, cutting off Tat's good byes to Rei. "We're done shopping and if we walk you to where ever you're going that will give us more time to catch up. Right, Takemura?"
Never one to disappoint or be able to hold up against Shiori Takemura nodded obediently. "It would be nice."
"Well if you really want to I guess so but I'm just walking down a few blocks." Rei said with a shrug then pulling his free hand out of his pocket reached out and grabbed some of the packages Takemura had been stuck holding. Carrying some was the least he could do. "Feels like you went on another one of your little shopping sprees, Shiori. You never could pass by a store without going in and buying up everything on sale. I'm surprised you didn't break any of our backs making us carry the bags for you, huh Takemura?"
"I'm not that bad." Shiori said with a pout that turned into a good natured smirk since she knew Rei wouldn't fall for such a ploy. "Okay so maybe I am sometimes. I saw a picture of you in a racing magazine, Rei. You looked really handsome in your racing suit. All the girls were jealous when I told them we used to date."
"Thanks. It was always what I did best after all." Rei said with a shrug though he always got a thrill when he saw himself in the paper or the magazine. Between his father and Kira he doubted either of them had missed collecting even the smallest of mentioning of him. Sometimes he thought they got a bigger thrill out of his accomplishments then he did. "So what are you two up to these days? Still in school right?"
"Yup, we're both in school right now, Rei." Takemura said, speaking up before Shiori could turn the topic to either herself or Rei. The two things most important to Shiori it seemed. "I'm studying to become a teacher and Shiori is taking courses in computers right now."
"My mother's idea." Shiori said as she rolled her eyes at the whole thing. She'd have preferred not to be going to school or working for that matter. Unfortunately her parents thought she needed to do one or the other despite the fact that she was financially well off enough not to need to ever work. They thought getting a job or at least training for one would do her some good. They didn't know anything. "She thinks it would be a good profession for me."
"Well since you don't know what you want to be it was as good a place to start as any, Shiori." Takemura pointed out, the complaint a familiar and expected one. He'd known Shiori since before junior high school and no one knew her better then he did. "So how's Kira, Rei? I saw some of her paintings in a museum I went to with my parents two months ago. They were just amazing, I was really staggered. I was tempted to go around bragging that I knew her before she was famous." Takemura said with a grin even while Shiori's face darkened at the mentioning of Kira's name. The person who'd taken Rei from her. "Next time I see her I'll have to ask for her autograph."
"She's great and she'd get a real kick out of being asked for an autograph." Rei said with a grin, imagining that such a request would have Kira going bright red and stammering in seconds. She still hadn't gotten use to all the praise and attention her work was getting. He doubted she ever would. but then that was just Kira for you. "And I could definitely see you being a teacher, Takemura. If it weren't for you I don't think Sei or I would have ever gotten through Mr. Sohma's math class. That man just went out of his way to make his lessons mind boggling." Rei said with a wide smirk on his face.
"Yeah, he was the hardest math teacher I've ever come across." Takemura said with a returning grin, surprised and pleased to see that the mentioning of Sei had not brought any shadows of pain or regret into Rei's eyes.
"So is Kira still the greatest love of your life?" Shiori asked casually though there was a hint of bite to her words. Her sarcasm would be lost on anyone who didn't know her well.
"Nope." Rei said with a shrug even though he was well aware that Shiori was getting the wrong idea when her eyes practically lit up. He loved Kira more then life its self but she wasn't the biggest love of his life anymore. No, that position had been taken four years ago and again a few days ago.
"Really?" Shiori demanded, her whole face lighting up at the thought that the way was now clear and she had a chance with Rei again. A chance to prove that she was the only one for him. A chance to make things right. Kira had never been right for Rei, she was the one who was meant to be with him forever. No one else.
"I thought you two would be together for ever." Takemura said quietly, his eyes hiding everything as he felt his heart sink. If Rei was available then that meant Shiori would be back after him, stronger then ever before. She'd never really been his, not even after Rei had told her it had ended. But when she was single or just casually dating he could pretend that one day she'd see him, really see him. It was a pipe dream really, no one had to tell him that but it was his dream, one he'd held onto for a long time. Now it had just been crushed again with one, single word. "I'm sorry you broke up." Boy was he ever sorry.
"We didn't break up, we got married." Rei said with a laugh, taking advantage of Shiori's shock to pull his hand out of his pocket to reveal the simple gold wedding band on his left hand. "Ta da."
"Holy...but..I don't..." Takemura stuttered, not sure what to think about this. Rei had just said..but he had married Kira? Was Rei..cheating on Kira?
"But you just said you didn't love her anymore!" Shiori demanded, grabbing hold of Rei's wrist as her eyes practically burned a hole through the metal of Rei's ring. "How could you be married to her if you don't love her! Are you getting divorced?"
"Nope and you didn't ask if I still loved her, Shiori." Rei pointed out in a reasonable tone as he came to a stop at his destination. "You asked if she's the biggest love of my life. I do love Kira, Shiori. I love her more then I can say or even describe. I always have and I always will, guys. That doesn't mean she's the only person I love in this world."
"But who do you love more..your dad?" Takemura asked with a confused look on his face, trying to figure this all out.
"Well you're about to meet that person." Rei said in the process of checking his watch before turning slightly to face the building in question. His eyes scanning the area he zoomed in on the person he was looking for quickly and cupping a hand in front of his mouthed called over to him. "Hey, Sei! Over here!"
Shiori and Takemura's pale faces going wide with shock they both spun on their heels to see a small blonde boy come racing towards them, dressed for the cold weather in a warm winter coat with a small blue backpack slugged over one shoulder. "DADDY! DADDY!" The boy called out as he opened his arms wide as he raced to Rei, Rei already bent over to catch the boy as the little three year old missile launched into his arms. Swinging him up Sei was soon happily hugging his daddy and chattering a mile a minute about everything he'd done that day since he'd last seen his dad.
"Hey ya, sport." Rei said as he hugged his son after the boy had finally stopped chattering to take a breath then turned to face the shocked faces of two of his old friends. "Sei, this is Shiori and Takemura. I used to go to school with them a long time ago. Guys this is my son Sei."
"Hello." Sei said as he turned to beam at them, the splitting image of his father and his namesake as he waved at them without a hint of shyness. "Nice ta metcha. Did you go to school with my mommy too?"
"No we didn't." Takemura said slowly, getting over the shock as he stared in wonder at this little version of Sei as if back from the grave. The same smile and sheer goodness that had always radiated from Sei was there with hints of Rei in the energy and spirit that also shone through. "But we know your mommy too. It's very nice to meet you, Sei. Isn't it, Shiori?" Takemura added as he elbowed her in the side as she continued to stand there dumbfounded, unable to take her eyes off Sei.
"He looks just like him..like Sei." Was all Shiori could say, feeling like she was looking at the real Sei only as a child. The thought terrified her but also filled her with a sense of peace she hadn't felt in a very, very long time.
"They knew your uncle Sei, kiddo." Rei explained when Sei only looked confused about what the lady had said. "They were really good friends with him and I think Shiori is just a little startled by how much you look like your uncle. Your uncle liked her a lot and she was very sad when he died."
"Oh..well it's okay you know." Sei said as he sent her a sympathetic look that was all Kira. "My Uncle Sei is in heaven with the angels. Mommy says heaven is a good place where bad things never happen and that Uncle Sei must be real happy to be there. I'm sure he wouldn't like it if you were sad since he liked ya lots."
"That's exactly right." Takemura said as he reached out a hand to ruffle Sei's hair. "So were you at daycare then?" He asked having noticed the sign on the building's door.
"Yup, yup. Normally I'd go with Aunt Harumi and play with her baby but she and Mommy had to go to the doctors and my daddy had to practice for the big race. So I hads ta come here. My daddy drives big kid bikes that go really, really fast." Sei said in a very serious voice filled with pride. "I like it here though. One of Mommy's friends runs it so I can come here whenever I want ya know." Sei said then launched into his new favorite topic of the week. "My mommy had to go to the doctor cause she's gonna have a baby. Did my Daddy tell ya that? I'm gonna be a big brother and I'm gonna have to help mommy take care of the baby and make sure no one picks on her or anythin Daddy says. I'm really strong, just like my daddy, Mommy said so. I don't care if it's a girl or a boy though, Daddy wants a girl and so does Mommy. Right, Daddy?"
"Well a girl would be nice." Rei said with a grin as he shifted to put Sei on his shoulders. "Anyway we better be heading since I promised your Mommy and Aunt Harumi we'd bring them lunch. They might send us to our rooms if we're late."
"Mommy wouldn't send ya to your room, Daddy." Sei said with a giggle, the idea tickling his funny bone.
"You never know. Anyway I'll see you guys later since Sei and I have to make tracks." Rei added as he turned his head to look at Takemura who looked happy and Shiori who still looked stunned and out of it. "Oh and Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Rei..Sei." Takemura said with a soft smile, the sight of a smiling Rei with his equally smiling son on his shoulders a nice sight. A peaceful sight. "I hope we see you guys again sometime. I'm sure you're going to be a great big brother, Sei."
"You bet I will. I'm gonna teach her to climb trees and draw and stuff." Sei said with enthusiasm as he waved good bye to his father's friends. There was nothing Sei liked more then to make new friends, especially friends who might give him candy and stuff. "Bye bye."
"Good bye, Sei. Good bye...Rei." Shiori said softly and there was a look in her eyes that Takemura and Rei had never seen there before. There had been a note of finality in her voice and both men had a feeling this was a forever sort of good bye. A saying of good bye to all the things she'd thought would happen but couldn't. Ever. "Merry Christmas to both of you." Everyone repeating their good byes Shiori and Takemura watched as Rei ambled off, Sei bouncing along happily on his father's shoulders as the two chattered away, a perfect picture of father and son.