Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon or Gundam Wing and even if I did, I'd still be writing fanfics about them. So there!
A/N: The Inners are 17, the GW boys are 18, the Outers are 19, Hotaru is 15, Setsuna is ageless and Mamoru is 22. This takes place a year after the defeat of Galaxia.
Dedication: To Duckie, my beta reader and best friend. Huggles to you even though you have no idea of what I'm talking about when I gush about Gundam Wing to you. Also to 90%DevilChild and Angel of Mercy who showed me that Heero/Rei fics do work and they work damn well!
It is night. A night perfect for lovers with a full moon and stars that seem to shine and twinkle with a secret message for those in the throes of love. The occasional warble of a mysterious songbird accompanies the soft whispers of the cool night breeze. The aroma of sweet-smelling flowers perfumes the air. Everything is perfect, a night of peace. All is fine everywhere except for a small temple at the top of a hill surrounded by blooming cherry blossom trees. Inside, a slim raven-haired young woman tosses and turns in her sleep, the violet highlights in her hair illuminated by the gentle caress of a silvery moonbeam. Unfortunately, she is unaware of the perfection around her and the events that will unfold and change her future forever.
Cold blue eyes but burning with something indefinable that touches her soul.
A fine sheen of perspiration covers her forehead; her breath comes in short pants, as she continues to be trapped in the shadowy realm of dreams.
A blazing flame trapped in a statue of ice. The statue is shaped like a…. man?
A low moan fills the room as the young woman endures this nebulous dream that seems too real by half.
Dying bodies litter the streets. The corpses are of soldiers and civilians alike. There is movement ahead. Another body falls and another layer of ice slowly creeps up the surface of the statue. The ice statue is almost opaque except for the glimmer of a flame at its core.
Her eyes are clenched shut and her brow is furrowed as if in pain. Small whimpers are now being forced from between rose colored lips.
She reaches out a hand towards the statue, but before she can touch it, the statue cracks and then explodes into a million shards of piercing pain that goes right through her. The shards of ice rips her skin and the pain is too intense…
"Noooooo!" Rei jerks awake, panting heavily. She grips the covers to her chest and looks around wild-eyed until she recognizes her bedroom at the shrine. She slowly drops her death grip on the wrinkled coverlet and concentrates on slowing her breathing to normal. As she does so, she thinks about the dream she just woke up from. 'Is that a sign of a new evil? We haven't had to fight since Galaxia and that was over a year ago. I should have known that peace never lasts for long. I'll go meditate in front of the sacred fire and see if I can get anymore details on my dream before I decide to call a Senshi meeting tomorrow.' With that thought, she slides her feet into a pair of soft slippers and makes her way out of her room and down the hall towards the fire room.
As she makes her way towards the fire room, a burst of pain erupts in her chest. 'What is going on?' is her last thought as another more extreme burst of pain shoots through her and she is claimed by a welcoming, all encompassing darkness.
The dove gray skies are weeping a soft rain that showers the small crowd gathered in front of a casket. The solemn occasion is punctuated with muffled sobs and sniffs. There is a small group of young women gathered and they stare in shocked disbelief as the casket is lowered into the ground. Another group consisting of slightly older women and men is standing just behind them. A dark-haired man reaches from his group towards a blonde whose hair is up in two odangoes with two long streamers of hair cascading from them. She is sobbing heavily and her slender frame shakes with grief. "Mamo-chan…" she cries as she reaches towards the comfort that he represents to her. He enfolds her in his arms and holds her closely as she sobs into his already soaked lapel.
"It doesn't seem real", another blonde murmurs. Her long hair is loose except for two sections pulled from her face and held back by a black bow.
"I know, Minako-chan", replies a teal-haired woman from behind her.
"Did you know this would happen, Setsuna-san?" asks a young woman with short, dark blue hair.
"There are many things that happen that cannot be foreseen, Ami-chan", replied the woman with long dark green hair and a sorrowful look in her eyes that screams silently and speaks of many sad scenes that she has had to bear witness to.
"Even in peace time, we seem to lose the ones we love and care for," a tall brunette said, as she tried to pull her sopping wet ponytail away from her neck.
"Death doesn't wait for war to strike. Nothing can stop it from coming", a fragile looking young woman with shoulder length black hair whispered. Her violet eyes were huge in her pale face and she hugged herself silently, not asking for comfort.
"It doesn't matter when it comes. Only the life lived means anything and this life was packed full. There will be no regrets", a tall sandy blonde man said huskily. On closer inspection, one would notice that the features were female, the rain only serving to emphasize the feminine features that were often overlooked.
The first blonde finally looked up from her safe haven in the arms of her sweetheart and looked over to a solitary figure that held itself aloof from the others. "Rei-chan", she whispered. The solitary figure looked up and the sorrow-filled gaze seemed to go on into eternity.
"I'm so sorry, Rei-chan, for your loss. I know how much you loved your ojii-san."
"Arigato, Usagi. Thank you, minna, for coming to his funeral. I know he would have loved to have so many pretty girls around him," Rei choked out, trying not to show how much this farewell to her beloved ojii-san hurt.
"Rei-chan, please don't keep it all inside. It'll only hurt more if you don't let it out and grieve for him the way you need to," said Mamoru, the dark-haired man with his arms around Usagi.
"This is the only way I can survive right now. Later, I will let it out, but if I do it now, I'll shatter and never recover," Rei replied woodenly.
"Where's Yuuichiro's funeral, Rei-chan?" asked Minako. She was trying to keep her friend's thoughts off of her ojii-san. She walked up to Rei and put one arm around her shoulders, noticing the faint shivers that emanated from her.
"His family had a private funeral for him on their estate. No one was allowed to come except for immediate family," she replied. She still remembered the cold looks given to her by the Kumadas, silently blaming her and the shrine for Yuuichiro's death.
"There was no way of knowing that they would get in a car accident on their way home from the Shinto priest retreat. They can't blame you for that," Ami said consolingly.
"Why not? They blame me for his wanting to be a priest and for staying here instead of returning to live with them. Maybe they're right. He wouldn't be dead now if it weren't for me. He kept thinking that if he lived here and became a priest I'd fall in love with him, but I couldn't. I don't know why. Maybe I should have just told him that and made him leave. At least he would be alive then," Rei said, her shoulders drooping as the weight of her sadness seemed to press upon her even more.
"You can't think like that. Yuuichiro made his choice. It was his decision and he chose to be here and it wasn't just for you anymore. I think he stayed because he loved your ojii-san for letting him be who he wanted to be," said Minako.
"I hope so, Minako-chan. I want to believe that more than anything," Rei replied.
"Maybe we should go in now. Everyone else has left and you'll catch a cold out here in the rain, Rei-chan," said Michiru.
"Hai," Rei replied as she turned to walk towards the shrine after giving one last look at the final resting place of the only parental figure she had ever known.
It had been a week since her ojii-san's funeral and Rei was struggling with all of the legal matters that needed to be attended to after he had passed away. She worried about the shrine and how she would manage to keep it going while still going to school. She knew if she dropped out of T*A, her ojii-san would haunt her forever, but she knew of no way to keep the shrine open. She still hadn't heard from her absent father, but she wasn't surprised for she knew about the bad blood between the two men, which had stemmed from her mother's death and then her subsequent abandonment by her father at the shrine. She had been so busy that she hadn't had any time to see any of her friends. She was desperately missing their comfort and sweet friendship but school was still going on and it was exam week for Juuban High. The only thing she could be grateful for was the fact that T*A's exam week had been the week prior to the funeral and she had already finished everything. 'One less thing to worry about", she thought. The Outers were busy too. Michiru had departed on an already scheduled tour. She had offered to cancel, but Rei had insisted that Michiru go and fulfill her obligations, not wanting people to miss out on Michiru's divine violin playing. Haruka was likewise occupied with a race for the Grand Cup in Italy. She had also offered to bail out on the race, but again Rei had declined and instead asked that Haruka win it for her and put everyone in the dust. Hotaru also had exams this week and was slightly overwhelmed, as this was her first year in high school. Setsuna had vanished after the funeral because of a possible time distortion happening and hadn't been heard from since. Rei sighed as she looked over the enormous mountain of paperwork in front of her and then reached out for the next document.
*** Knock, knock ***
"Come in," Rei said, not looking up from the dizzying document in front of her.
"Hello, Rei. I thought you might need some help settling your ojii-san's affairs and I decided to come over and lend a helping hand".
"Mamoru-san! I didn't expect you here", Rei said, startled.
"I thought we were friends, Rei-chan. Why wouldn't I help you? No one should have to go through all this alone. Not to mention, I do have some experience with legal matters since I've had to watch over myself since I was orphaned."
"Gomen, I had forgotten, Mamoru-san. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated."
The next few hours went by as Mamoru helped Rei sort through all the legalities that had occurred with Rei's grandfather's death. Slowly, the pile dwindled until it was gone and Rei sat back with a tired sigh. Rubbing her eyes tiredly, she said, "I can't believe so much goes into running a shrine. Ojii-san always meant to show me all of this as part of my training, but…"
"I don't think any of us expected him to die so soon. He always struck me as someone who would probably live to see Crystal Tokyo. Heck, I thought he'd outlive us," Mamoru chuckled.
"True. Kami, I miss him so much! Going through everything, all of his stuff, has been absolutely horrible. There are pictures of me as a baby, my mother, my father, him as a young man, and all of these mementos, all his Shinto stuff, scrolls I don't even know where to begin to understand…." Rei broke off, as a huge wave of grief threatened to overcome her.
"Rei, it's all right to cry. Have you cried, really grieved for him yet," asked Mamoru in concern.
"I can't. If I do, I'll never stop. He was so much a part of my life. Hell, without him, I don't even know if I would have a life. I'm scared, Mamoru-san. We've gone through all the legalities but it doesn't solve the question that gnaws at me. How do I support myself and the shrine without him? He has savings but that can't last that long. Why did he have to die? Why did he leave me alone?" Rei said shakily.
Mamoru came forward and hugged her. He felt her shoulders shudder as she tried to control herself. "It's okay to cry. We'll all be here to help you. We'll figure out something."
As she heard these words, Rei knew it would be okay and she finally let the grief overcome her and deep wrenching sobs shook her slender frame. Mamoru continued to hold her and whisper reassurances. Finally, after about an hour, Rei stopped crying and just sighed. 'It feels so good to let that go.'
"Heh. You are the only girl I know who can cry and still look good. If you were Usako, your nose and eyes would be red and swollen and your face would be all blotchy. With you, I can't tell except for the tear tracks down your face," Mamoru stated.
"Baka. Even if Usagi looked like a hag after crying, you'd still love her. It's heartwarming to see how strong the love you have for each other is. It gives me hope and inspiration for our future. After all, how can we go wrong with Crystal Tokyo when your and Usagi's love is the foundation?" Rei said, smiling.
Mamoru chuckled and then wiped a thumb to clear the tear tracks from Rei's cheeks. Unfortunately, it was during this action that Usagi walked in from behind. From her perspective, it looked like a tender lover's caress and this, coupled with old insecurities stemming from Rei and Mamoru's past relationship and his previous breakup with her long ago, caused her to see red.
"You bitch! I always knew you were still after him! And you, you cheating bastard! How could you? I hate you! I wish you were both dead," Usagi screamed vehemently and then bolted out of the shrine.
"Usako! It's not what it seems! Usako!" Mamoru left at a run, not looking back at the shocked girl he left behind.
"Usagi, how could you believe I would betray you? You are my princess and one of my best friends. I thought you knew that anything I felt for Mamoru died when I saw how he looked at you and how you looked at him. I've always wanted your love to survive. It's why I was so upset when you seemed to be falling in love with Seiya. What do I have to do to convince you?" she murmured to the now empty room. She was on her knees in shock in the middle of the room and her dazed eyes seemed to finally notice that both Usagi and Mamoru were gone.
'I have to find her and explain. She'll see how this was just a mix-up and we'll laugh about it later over ice cream.' Rei thought as she ran out of the door, looking for Usagi.
'Where could she have gone? I wish she would answer her communicator' Rei thought, as she ran through the park. She had been running and searching for Usagi for twenty minutes. 'I hope Mamoru-san found her. Maybe she went home. I'll go there and see. If she's not there or she's already made up with Mamoru-san and not told me, I'm going to wring her neck'.
Rei turned around back towards the direction of Usagi's house. As she started, she heard Makoto's voice. 'Minna! I'll ask them if they've seen her and get them to help me look for her if they haven't' Rei thought as she jogged tiredly towards her friends.
"Minna! Have you seen Usagi?" Rei hollered as she came up towards the bench they were sitting on, not noticing the strange looks she was getting from the three girls seated side by side.
"Rei! How dare you show your face!" yelled Makoto angrily. "I can't believe you could do that to Usagi-chan! I guess you were just waiting so she wouldn't suspect anything, you traitorous bitch!"
"Nani?!? Mako-chan, what are you talking about?" Rei replied in confusion.
"Don't try to lie to us. Usagi-chan told us everything. Her heart is broken and she has been crying her eyes out. I thought you had gotten over your envy, but I guess that was too much to expect from someone like you," Makoto spat.
"This is all a misunderstanding, minna! You must believe me. I would never do anything to get between Usagi and Mamoru. Onegai, tell me where she is. I have to talk to her. I have to explain what she thinks she saw," Rei gasped.
"Never! Don't go near Usagi-chan, Rei. I'm warning you. I won't have you hurting her again or lying to her anymore. You're not worthy of being in her presence. You're not even worthy of speaking her name. Only friends can speak of her, not backstabbing wenches! I thought you were loyal to our princess, but obviously I was wrong. You've always been jealous of her position and her relationship with Mamoru" Makoto hissed, remembering with darkened eyes of how Usagi had run up to them, sobbing her eyes out and telling the whole sordid story before running off when she heard Mamoru calling for her.
"Mako-chan, you don't understand! I wouldn't hurt Usagi! How can you even think I would betray her like that! Onegai, Minako-chan, Ami-chan, please say you believe me!" Rei exclaimed.
What Rei saw shattered her belief in her friends and a sense of despondency threatened to overwhelm her. 'Onegai, not this on top of everything else' she thought to herself in despair. Ami looked up with a sad disappointment in her eyes.
"Rei, I never thought you could do this to Usagi after all she has done for you. She has no reason to lie to us," whispered Ami.
Rei turned away from Ami and looked towards her best friend, Minako. She desperately needed someone to believe her and she turned towards the one person she thought she could always trust besides Usagi. It was not to be and even this security was yanked from her as Minako would not look at her, but kept her face downcast. Finally, after what seemed an eternity but was really only a few moments, Minako looked up at Rei. Rei was floored by the uncertainty she saw reflected in her friend's eyes.
"Minako-chan, onegai, I need for you to believe in me. After all we've been through, after all of the confidences we've shared, surely you can't believe that I would be so heartless as to try and steal Mamoru from Usagi," pleaded Rei.
There was no response as Minako continued to stare at Rei with that horrible uncertainty in her eyes. Rei felt something in her break. 'I thought the pain I felt when ojii-san died was the worst pain I could ever feel. I was wrong,' thought Rei numbly. Unable to bear this horrible pain any longer, Rei fled back to the haven of her shrine.
Rei sat in the Fire room in front of the sacred fire, going through her grandfather's personal belongings as she tried desperately to lose herself in anything that would keep her mind off of the painful accusations Mako-chan had hurled at her and the looks in Ami-chan's and Minako-chan's eyes. So far, she wasn't doing a very good job of it but she persisted in trying. She finally came to an old tattered scroll bound with crimson ribbon and an ornate seal rimmed with gold. 'What is this? Ojii-san never showed me this before.' She broke open the seal and unbound the scroll carefully, noting its age and fragile appearance. Flowing writing in gold ink was across the page, and it was titled "Need".
"Need. How funny to come across this when I know I'm not needed. The kamis must be laughing at me. I used to think I was needed, but I guess reality has ripped those blinders from me now. I was a protector of my princess, a warrior for love and justice and now, I'm nothing. It was all for nothing. My princess thinks I betrayed her, my fellow warriors despise me now, and there hasn't been a threat in over a year. There is nothing I do that cannot be done by someone else. Jupiter has always been Usagi's staunchest defender, jumping to her defense over the tiniest thing. Mercury is the brains of our group. There is no way I can compete with her on that. I'm intelligent and I've always done well in school but Ami blows everyone away on that score. Venus is the cheerful one, always making us happy. I know she'll be okay. Also, now with the Outers here, they don't need me as another warrior fighting. The only one who ever really needed me was ojii-san and now he's gone. I need to stop this line of thinking or I'll go mad. Better continue clearing out this stuff." With that, Rei turned back to the scroll and read it aloud.
"Eyes meet eyes and soul meets soul,
hearts once entwined are bound once more.
Need is called and need is answered.
Ice speaks to fire,
Sense speaks to spirit.
The joining of two into one is desired."
'What a beautiful poem…' thought Rei.
Suddenly, a portal of swirling purple mist opened before her startled eyes and as she was swept into it, she noticed that the writing on the scroll had burned away.
"Kami-sama!!!!! What's going on?" Rei screamed as she fell through the portal.
"Itai! That hurt! Where the hell am I," asked Rei as she began to get up.
"Don't move. Who are you," a voice asked.
Rei turned towards the voice only to be met by the barrel of a very lethal looking gun.
Gomen minna! I had to leave it somewhere and this is as good a place as any. Apologies to Mako-chan fans but it fit her personality to have her be the most upset as she is the most protective of Usagi and her and Rei have clashed before over Usagi. I promise the GW boys make their appearance next chapter.
A/N: Before people review, flame or whatever, this is a Rei positive and centric story. I'm sick of all the fanfics out there that portray Rei as a bitchy person who is always backstabbing Usagi by badmouthing her or sleeping with Mamoru. I am not trying to slam Usagi. She's not my favorite character by any means but I will not slam characters (unlike some people who will remain nameless). The other senshi will possibly show up in later chapters and I might pair them up with the GW boys. I'm pretty open about the couples except for Rei/Heero. I will not entertain a Rei/Wufei or an Usagi/Heero pairing. Sorry, that's just the way I feel and I can't write what I don't feel. Don't worry though since 85% or more of the fics out there are about those 2 pairings, which is probably why I won't add to them. This is my first fanfic and please give me constructive criticism, not just remarks that I suck because I won't entertain your pairing or I don't agree with the portrayal of Rei as the Anti-Christ.