A Second Chance At Love
SECOND CHANCES
Part 2
by Rei Kou
Having Jadeite around did have its advantages though, Rei thought. He was relegated to doing the chores Rei normally performed before her sprain. She was able to rest her ankle more often and it was healing quite nicely. She kept a constant eye on her unwanted visitor though, observing for any suspicious moves. It had been a week since he arrived and so far he's been clean. Every now and then Rei would call the other senshi and update them on Jadeite's activites, or rather, the lack of them.

Jadeite paused from raking the leaves to wipe the sweat off his brow. He couldn't believe it's been a week since he's come to Hikawa Jinja. He was too busy enjoying himself to notice. In the time that he had learned to meditate, clean up the surroundings, do the laundry, entertain visitors to the shrine, housekeep, even to cook! Ofcourse at the start he'd burned more tempura than he could count and got the ingredients mixed up with one dish to another but he had vastly improved. He was more than content with what he had learned. He doesn't remember a thing about his life before he came to Hikawa Jinja but he was quite sure he's never done anything like this. He felt that the happiness he had here was something he'd never experienced before.

And it was all because of her.

Jadeite's gaze wandered over to the feminine figure sitting at the steps of the temple, watching her pet ravens playing. A smile crossed his lips. After that initial bout of hostility, Rei wasn't mean to him anymore. Although she wasn't overly friendly either. She spoke to him only when necessary and the best she had given him was a half-smile. That was when he had attempted to give her pet ravens a washover a few days back. She had laughed mirthlessly then but that was after he had turned his back.

He didn't mind though. The mere sight of her was enough to make his day. He noted she wasn't wearing her priestess robes today. In its place was a sleeveless red sundress decorated with tiny white flowers and a wide-brimmed hat to match. The dress stopped a few inches above her knees allowing him a generous view of her shapely legs. The autumn wind blew, sending her hat into the air. Luckily, the hat flew at his direction and he had caught it in his free hand.

"Thank you." Rei said nonchalantly. She had chased the hat and had paused when she saw that he'd caught it. She proceeded to take it from him when he suddenly spoke.

"May I..." he swallowed, "May I put it on you?"

Rei was surprised at his request. She almost thought it was a trap of sorts...but something in his eyes, and the innocence of his request told her it was nothing but that. "Okay," she agreed. He smiled warmly at her, sweeping aside her hair and gently replacing the wide-brimed hat. She nearly didn't feel his touch for all its lightness. All the time he was doing so, his eyes never left her face.

"You have the softest, silkiest hair." he murmured, proceeding to brush aside an aberrant strand that the wind blew on her face.

It was her turn to swallow. "Thank you.." she replied almost inaudibly. She suddenly felt her pulse hammer at the base of her throat and her heart began beating frantically. This wasn't right, she cried to herself. But somehow she couldn't break away from the blue gaze that held her captive.

A warm, tingling sensation crossed her cheek as she felt the back of Jadeite's hand tracing it. He was gazing at her tenderly. "You're so beautiful, Rei-san." he whispered. "Your loveliness robs me of breath."

No, no, this isn't happening, her nner mind shouted. What power is he using? Why can't I break away? She closed her eyes as she saw his face come closer. Inch by inch, the distance narrowed until she can feel his breath onher cheek. It musn't happen, she thought, it musn't...

"Rei-chan!!! We're heeree!"

Her eyes flew open upon hearing Usagi's high pitched voice. She quickly spun around and called back. "Just a minute!" Without as much as a glance, she released herself from Jadeite's hold and ran off. Heck, she didn't even remember hm holding her armslike that! She must've been way too under his spell not to notice! Rei scolded herself for nearly falling into his trap...if it was one. It's a good thing Usagi and Makoto had arrived. Otherwise, she wouldn't have known what things would've led to.

Jadeite watched Rei's retreating figure as she ran to meet her friends. He felt a wave of disappointment over what had occured. He was so close. So close to achieving what he had longed for the moment he had laid eyes on her. To touch her beautiful face, to caress her lips with his own. He proceeded to do his chore, all the while thinking of what he'd done just minutes ago. He sighed deeply. He just hoped Rei-san wouldn't be mad at him for his brashness. His grip on the rake tightened. He couldn't take it if Rei would be angry at him again. The mere thought of it gave him a feeling of sadness.

He was about to stuff the pile fo leaves in a trash bag when something had caught his eye. An object exhibiting considerable brilliance glimmered on the ground. He picked it up and noted it was a ring. A beautiful band of white gold shone proudly on his palm. It had an intricate design, with a single polished diamond embedded in the middle. Inside the ring was an inscription which he could not understand.

It must be Rei's, he thought. The ring was too small to fit a man's hand. He kept the ring, deciding to return it Rei when she returned.

Rei didn't like it. Didn't like it at all. It's been seven nights. Seven nights of intense meditating, praying and thinking. The Great Fire answered the same thing time and again. He was not evil. He, referred to their less-than-welcome guest at Hikawa Jinja. She couldn't believe it the first time The Great Fire told her so, making her ask repeatedly. Her instincts tell her the same. She could detect an evil entity in a snap of her fingers. She can sense malevolent spirits without her ever seeing them. And here was a man, one she had known too well to have a heart as cold as ice, whom she had destroyed and justly so because he had no conscience, no remorse for the evils he had done. She could feel no danger in his presence.

Something must be wrong with her.

She got up and turned towards the window. The night sky was enchanting, pretty as a picture. The moon was full and had cast its glow on the temple grounds, making it a silhouette of lights and shadows. The stars glittered in full glory, like diamonds in the black velvet of the sky. Deciding that the breathtaking scenery might clear her thoughts, Rei stepped outside.

Am I losing my touch? she thought. Its been a long while since she had encountered any malignant spirits. Everything had been quiet after their last battle as Sailor senshis. Ever since there have been no sign of demons. Perhaps the lack of it dulled her otherwise sharp sense? She frowned. Before she became a sailor senshi she already had this sense and it was just as potent and as sensitive as it had when she was involved in their battles. Why? her inner self asked. Why is it like this? It's not possible. I refuse to admit that my powers of perception have waned.

Could it be? she thought. Could it be some power, some newly developed power that Jadeite had that was blocking off her perception. Perhaps it was. Like that power that he used over her this afternoon. The power that allowed her to be drawn into his embrace.

"Rei-san?"

She nearly jumped from surprise on hearing the voice. She quickly turned around and found Jadeite a mere two feet behind her. "You scared me there." she said, feeling her heart increase its beating.

"Gomen nasai." he apologized softly and lowered his gaze.

"It's okay." she dismissed. "I was just thinking about something so I didn't hear you come."

He raised his glance and their gazes met for an instant. Rei waited for that feeling to come. Waited for a sign, any sign, that would tell her of his intentions. She waited for a sensation of impending doom that overcame her everytime she went face to face with a black-tinted soul.

There was none.

She withdrew her glance first, averting them to the magnificent sky. ""What..what is it you want Jadeite?" she asked.

You...his mind screamed. I want you to be with me. I want your heart to belong to me. "I...I.." he stammered. "I want to apologize for this afternoon...Suminasen...what happened. You probably think it was too brash of me."

Rei felt something pinch her heart. He was sorry he wanted to kiss her? "It was nothing." she said. "It's okay. Nothing to worry about."

"You're not mad at me?" he was suddenly glad hearing such. He was almost certain sh'd blow her top, scream at him or refuse to talk to him. Then and there he wanted to take her in his arms and truly kiss her. Better judgment only prevented him from doing so.

"No."

A long silence followed. The two of them merely stood there with Rei her back to Jadeite. Neither of them not knowing quite what to say.

"Rei-san." Jadeite spoke first.

"Yes?"

He took one step closer to her. "I was wondering." he started. "Can you interpret dreams?"

She was a bit taken aback by his query. "A little." she answered. "I guess it depends on what its about."

"I've been having a strange one these past few days." he said, and continued to tell Rei the visions he's been having for the past four days. it was a recurrent dream set in a garden. A big, beautiful garden with different flowers and trees. He would be standing there and she would appear. A young woman with a flowing white gown in a sheer fabric with floral patterns. Her face was covered by a veil and he could not see what she looked like. Then she would take his hand and they'd go running around the garden happily. And then...the ground would rumble. Rumble and shake so hard that the earth would crack. A gigantic clawed hand would appear from the opening and it would take hold of him and pull him away from the veiled woman. He could hear her cry, begging that he not leave her. Then he would fall...fall into an abyss so dark and so deep he could see nothing. when he finally hit the bottom, his veiled woman would reappear. But she seemed different. She was cold and hard, like ice. When he touched her he began to burn. Flames engulfed him, raging with fury as the veiled woman simply stared in what he felt was an intense hatred towards him. At that point he would wake up, terrified and unsafe. A silent scream trapped in his throat. It seemed so real he could feel the fire scalding his skin. He was barely able to sleep after that.

If Rei was shocked with what he told her, it didn't show. Could it be? Was it possible? No, she cant accept. she cant accept that his dreams were exactly the same as hers...only it was she who had been falling into the abyss and bursting into flames. The face of the man was not known. he was merely a shadow of a man. And everytime she'd awaken she experienced a grip of sadness, as if soomething, a part of her was taken away.

"Your fears." she said almost inaudibly.

"Fears?" he asked, coming closer to hear her better.

She nodded. "The other person was probably someone who means a lot to you. Perhaps someone you...someone you have loved. And maybe," she paused to clear her throat. "Maybe you had insecurities, or dark secrets perhaps." she turned up to look at him to see his reaction to her last words. "Secrets which, if she found out, might cause her to stop caring for you. So that's why you keep thinking about it, and you're scared that she'll turn away from you. That she'll stop loving you." she stopped at that instance. She realized she was echoing her personal sentiments, her own interpretations of HER nightly visions. The visions so remarkably like his. The thought of him having the same dreams as hers gave her goosebumps. A shiver ran through her spine.

"Are you cold?" he noticed. He was on the verge of removing his robes to give to her when she stopped him.

"No, no. I'm okay. It's nothing." she dismissed.

Jadeite was quiet for a while. he recalled her words. "Someone who means a lot to you, someone you have loved...scared she'll turn away from you...stop loving you." What then, would she tell him, if he told her that since last night, the woman in his dreams had no veil. That she has a face, and that her face was that of Rei?

"It's getting late, Jadeite." Rei spoke at last. "I have to sleep." she sidestepped him and proceeded to go outside.

"Rei-san." he called her again.

"What!?" she snapped. Rats! she thought. Why is he affecting her this way? She wasn't really annoyed with him. Its just that, since he arrived, Rei didn't feel at ease. It wasn't the kind of unease she experienced when facing an enemy. It was something different. As if there was some kind of electric charge in the air. She's been fighting it since day one and the fact that she was having a difficult time with it was getting her peeved.

"You dropped this this afternoon." he said. He opened his hand to reveal the sparkling diamond ring.

Rei marveled at the sight of the gem. It was probably the most beautiful ring she had ever seen. It glittered on Jadeite's hand like a star plucked from the sky.

"It's not mine Jadeite." she said. "Where did you get it?"

"On the ground, this afternoon, after you left." he said.

"It must belong to someone else." she shrugged. "I've never had one like it."

"Can you keep it then?" he requested. "I don't have a place to hide it. I might lose it."

"Okay." she was about to pick the gem from Jadeite's palm when he suddenly took her wrist.

"Allow me."

Rei watched as he gently raised her hand and inserted the ring on her finger. She felt her heart flutter in an accelerated beat. The act seemed so intimate, like a groom giving a ring to his bride. She felt the color flood her cheeks. The ring was a perfect fit, as though it belonged to her. Jadeite then raised her hand to his lips and kissed it gently. Rei felt herself blushing to the tips of her toes.

"Jadeite..." she protested. She looked up at him and was taken aback by what she saw. His eyes sparkled, smiling at her. They were overflowing with a tenderness and an emotion she recognized without doubt but refused to acknowledge.

"My fire princess." he whispered. He cupped her cheeks after putting down her hand. "I've waited for this moment since the day we've met." Without a moment's hesitation, he lowered his face and gently pressed his lips to hers.

Rei felt a sudden inward explosion the minute his lips touched hers. She felt as though she was being lifted from the ground on a cloud. Her thoughts began to drift and her being began to melt. It felt like an eternity before he withdrew from her and when she opened her eyes, they began to turn misty.

Guiltily, Rei pulled away from him. And before she can stop them, tears began to cascade down her cheeks.

"Rei, I..." he stepped forward to comfort her but she took two stpes back.

"Please...don't..." she cried, "It's not...right..."

"Why?" he croaked. He felt his heart wrench, seeing her cry like that. He never intended to hurt her. He cared for her too much.

"Just go away." she sobbed. "Leave me alone." and with that she bolted past him and ran towards the temple doors.

Jadeite felt his heart shatter into a thousand pieces.

The right thing to do would have been to pack up and leave Hikawa JInja. But Jadeite couldn't bear to be far away from Rei. It would hurt too much. So he stayed out of her way. He no longer attmepted to repeat what happened before. He contented himself playing the role of a servant. He continued to housekeep, cook, clean, and safeguard the temple. He learned more things as time passed by. He read the books kept at the shrine and at times borrowed from a place they called a library. He would do the grocery at the same place where he met Grandpa. He mastered every dish mentioned in an old cookbook he found lying around. Day after day he tried to keep himself busy so he would not think of Rei.

It was an exercise in futility. For every night, visions of her would haunt him in the same dream that played like a movie in his mind. Again and again it tormented him like a knife stabbing at his heart. And he would wake up with a soundless scream in his throat. He reached the point wherein he could take no more and he reached a conclusion.

He's got to find that man.

Rei applied powder on her face, trying to conceal the dark rings that were beginning to form under her eyes. She bit her lip. She can't go on like this. There were too many sleepless nights after what had happened at the courtyard. Partly due to the event and partly due to the dreams that came at her when she can finally force herself to sleep. The same dream, occuring more frequently now, bothered her to no end. No amount of anti-evil spell or meditation would dispell her disturbing visions.

She tried to avoid Jadeite after what had occured, and she noticed he stayed away from her too. But she couldn't help it. She would find herself stealing glances at him when he cleaned the temple entrance, observing him when he fed her ravens. it surprised her to find out that Phobos and Deimos took a liking to him. They played about him, once even settling on his shoulders. She wouldn't believe it if she didn't see it with her own eyes. Then there's her grandfather who adored him too. He sometimes spent more time with him than with her! Jadeite was civil to her, at least. He still lit the fire before she would go meditating and clean up after her. He prepared the food she took to school, did her laundry and served her food when she was too busy to go to the dinner table. Under all circumstances, she could have fallen in love with him.

Or had she already?

"You know...I think he's not what he used to be." Ami said when Rei hosted another one of their gatherings.

"You could be right, Ami-chan." agreed Makoto as she plopped a biscuit in her mouth. "I guess I was wrong judging him."

"Still," Minako commented. "What's his purpose coming back? I don't thinkhe's liekly to become something like Tuxedo Mask to repent for his wrongdoings."

"The problem with you guys is you overanalyze everything." Usagi giggled. She took another bite of the sushi. "Give it a rest. He probably just came back to start his life anew, like Neflite."

All four pairs of eyes stared at Usagi in unison. "Neflite?"

"Uh-uh." nodded Usagi. "I saw him the other day with Naru-chan. Ofcourse he isn't Neflite anymore. I was shocked out of my dalights when I did see him, knowing he was dead and all. But I got this chance to talk to him. He said something about being reincarnated by Queen Serenity. That would be me, he he he, in the future. But then he told me she gave them a chance to live good lives, and all of them had their memories erased except for him because he turned good before he died. So now he's no longer Neflite but Masato Sanjourin. He and Naru-chan are engaged. They're getting married next year."

They remained speechless for a while, but no one was as stunned as Rei. Could it be? She remembered her grandfather's words...no home...no family...no memory...then Jadeite when she confronted him...I don't know what you're talking about...is it possible? That all along he was telling the truth?

"Hey Rei, are you alright?" Makoto asked.

She nodded. She tried to hide her feelings by opening up a different topic of conversation.

Tokyo was a big city. It was not easy to find one man. Jadeite walked for hours and hours, searching for a man whose name he didn;t even know. He had almost given up his search when he chanced upon a car-that red sportscar, parked in front of a cafe. the dark-haired man came out of the cafe alone. Jadeite rushed over and tapped the man on his shoulder.

"Excuse me."

Neflite turned to look at him.

"I've got to talk to you."