Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is not my property; I'm merely borrowing it for this story.
Song Credit: Of Monsters and Men
Mina surveyed the lunch hall, her eyes seeking out a place to sit. She had already received four different invitations from girls in her classes, all of which she had smiled and thanked them for. She knew that wherever she sat would make a statement. That was the trouble with elite schools like TA. The girls were all rich, and those that weren't, were too worried about keeping their scholarships to worry about the school social hierarchy. Mina honestly didn't care for any of it. She didn't need the approval of the girls at this school; she had already made her mark in the music industry. There were questions about why she was back, and a few brave souls had actually ventured as far as to actually ask Mina why she was back. But thus far, Mina had kept quiet about the matter.
It wasn't any of their business, she had reasoned. Plus, what could she say? That she was trying to prevent history from repeating itself? People would think she had been working herself too hard, and that she was in need of a break.
They'll probably think that anyway, mused Mina to herself. She had done everything without warning; even her parents had been surprised by her sudden decision to return from abroad. It had taken them some scrambling to get things in order to return, and her mother still fretted that something had probably been left behind in their old house. But Mina didn't care much for those things. She was more concerned with the mission on hand – protecting the princess. What princess, she didn't know. There was only a blurred image, and blonde hair, but beyond that Mina had nothing to work with. She was working off a feeling she had. It was some innate sense telling her what to do, where to be… She had Artemis, but even his memories of the past were spotty. It was up to Mina to figure out where to start.
And as her eyes moved around the lunch hall, falling on a lone figure in the back, she knew just where she ought to begin.
Straightening her back, Mina moved purposefully through the lunch room, weaving around tables, and ignoring the whispers as they mounted behind her. They could all think what they wanted, because as far as Mina was concerned, their opinions of her didn't matter one bit.
She deposited her tray upon the table as she took a seat, her eyes never leaving the face before her. Rei didn't look up from the food before her, which Mina had more or less expected. She allowed the other teen to pretend she wasn't there, taking time to study her instead. It had been years since Mina had last seen Rei, and to be honest, she wasn't completely sure how to proceed. Things had soured between them… they had gone from best friends attached to the hip to, well, this.
This was distant, cold, and barely speaking. Mina knew much of the blame lay with her, but when Rei was involved that hardly mattered. She could say things that cut to the core as well, and there had been several things said between them that had fractured their friendship completely. It had been so long ago, though, that one would think bygones could be bygones. But Mina knew better. This was Rei, and if there was one thing she knew about the other teen, it was the simple fact that Rei could bear a grudge longer than anyone else.
Mina was determined not to speak first. She wanted Rei to make the first move, that way she could gauge the other girl and act accordingly. Petty as it was, Mina didn't want to try and make amends if Rei wasn't interested in it. All she needed was for everything to be thrown back into her face, in a public setting. Few people would probably even remember that Mina had been friends with Rei, and those that did would know better than to talk about it unless they were sure things were patched up. After all, it was Mina's fault Rei's reputation was less than stellar these days. Sure the raven haired teen had a few people talk about her in awe, but Mina had heard enough this morning to know that a vast majority of the girls at the school still taunted Rei for who she was.
An apology alone would never make up for that, Mina knew. She wasn't sure what would, or if amends could be made. It was troubling to admit this to herself, but she knew she couldn't pretend she had been above the blame. She had hurt Rei before she left, and then left her to the wolves. Now here they were, slightly older, but likely none the wiser.
Rei finally did speak first, lowering her fork and shifting her eyes to look at Mina. "What do you want?"
"Now, now, Rei, is that any way to treat an old friend?" replied Mina teasingly.
"Friend? I'd hardly call you a friend."
"An old acquaintance, then."
"A fucking bitch."
Mina could feel her face freeze at the words. She had expected something like that, but it didn't make it any easier to hear. She quickly smoothed out her features again, pushing forward. "That doesn't make much sense. We're looking for a term for our relationship."
"Schoolmates," said Rei darkly. "We attend the same school, end of story. Now, why don't you go find yourself someone that cares that you're even at this school? There are enough girls here that would probably duke it out to just breathe the same air as you. Apparently your 'stardom' means something to them."
"You were the one that pushed me to be try out for that contest in the first place," pointed out Mina.
"Yes, I remember that. It was right before you stabbed me in the back. Are you expecting some kind of thanks for mentioning me as that 'childhood friend that told me to reach for the stars' crap you spew to the media?" demanded Rei.
Mina grinned. "So you do care. You pay enough attention to what I say, so –"
"So nothing," interjected Rei angrily. "I'm in this school for a majority of the day, so I'm bound to hear the more brainless ones harp about your interviews in every teen magazine known to mankind. So let's return to my original question. What. Do. You. Want." She punctuated the last four words slowly, her teeth grating together. Mina knew she was pushing the limit with Rei, though in some part, she hadn't realized it would take so little for Rei to be made angry. Apparently her return had only worsened the wound Mina had made all those years ago.
"I need advice."
"Oh, come on, Rei. How long are you going to be like this?" Rei didn't reply. Her lips were pressed together, turning white due to the amount of force the teen was using to keep them closed. Mina sighed at this. "I need you to do a reading for me," she said softly.
"Not now, of course. After school. Or this evening. I can stop by the temple –"
"I said, I can't," repeated Rei.
"Why? Because it's me?"
"Not everything revolves around you, Mina."
Rei didn't speak for a moment. She seemed to be eyeing Mina critically, as though debating whether or not she felt Mina deserved an answer. She eventually opened her mouth, saying, "I'm only allowed at the temple Friday through Sunday."
Mina's eyebrows furrowed together, her mind racing. "But I thought… I mean, you live there."
"No, I don't."
"Since my mother returned from America."
"Wait, what? She returned? Why?" Mina's eyes had widened at the news. She knew Rei didn't talk about her family much, a result of the messy divorce and custody battle her parents had gone through when she had just begun school. That had been one of the reasons the girls had become friends in the first place. "So are you staying with her now?"
"No!" The word came out sharper than Rei had probably intended, her eyes blazing at the question. Mina was taken aback. She had known Rei had been upset by the divorce; she had had every right to be, but then she had moved into the temple with her grandfather because her father was rarely home, and some semblance of life had come back to her. Her relationship with her father had always been a rocky one, and the one with her mother had been virtually nonexistent, but Mina had more or less assumed that things would simmer down, and her parents would agree to put Rei first again.
"Last year," said Rei with a sigh, her shoulders sagging a little. "She came to promote a new film, then signed on for some big epic, and has been making public claims about seeking to reconcile with me. My father decided it was time I returned home so she wouldn't be able to use that against him if she decided to go to court again."
"Is she going to?"
"How the hell would I know, Mina? I haven't talked to her."
"Rei, she's your mom! Just because she and your dad hate each other, and probably still have restraining orders on each other, doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to her. It's been years since you've seen her. Haven't you missed her?"
"What was there to miss?" snapped Rei. "Seeing her fly off to a new set to film another movie? She and my father are more alike than they'd care to admit. He's too busy with his job to make time for me unless it's for a photo-op, and she's too busy with her job to even attempt to call me. She's only playing the mother card because she's back in Tokyo. As soon as she leaves again she'll stop mentioning my name every five seconds in front of a camera."
It wasn't hard to miss the anger in Rei's voice. Mina wanted to comment on it, but she knew better than to try. Just because Rei had told her some of what was going on didn't make them friends again. It simply meant Rei was tired. She had obviously been dealing with a lot the last year, and it wasn't Mina's place to try and insert herself into Rei's life just yet.
"Alright, then. What about Friday afternoon for a fire reading?"
"Why are you even bothering to ask me? You know I won't do it – not for you of all people. If you want a damn reading, get one from another priestess at the temple. Or better yet, ask my grandfather. Of the two of us, he still thinks good of you." Rei stood up, gathering her half-eaten lunch as she did so. "And then when it's all done, go back to your own life, okay? I don't need you screwing up mine anymore than you already have."
Mina opened her mouth to protest, but she found she couldn't say anything. She let Rei walk away, her mind awhirl. Although Rei was still angry with her, she had still suggested Mina go to her grandfather for a reading. That had to mean something. Rei loved her grandfather; he was probably the only decent member of the family she had. If she was okay with Mina going to him, it had to mean there was some home for them to reconcile down the road…
Picking up her own fork, Mina continued to mull this over as she ate lunch, not caring that she was still seated alone in the lunch hall.
To be continued…