Rei studied her reflection with a critical eye. Mina had badgered her into getting her hair, make-up, and nails professionally done for the occasion. And she'd actually had the gall to call it a 'chance to relax'.

The dress was form fitting, siren red, and slit up to upper thigh on one side. The thin straps criss crossed in the almost open back.

'All in all it's a pain in the ass to look this good,' Rei thought as she touched up her lipstick. 'But seeing the look on Jed's face might make up for it.'

It had only been eight hours since she'd seen him last.

After the kiss they had sat on the deck talking until Mina came home and wanted to play twenty questions. When Mina finally tired of that game and went to bed, Jed and Rei stayed up watching AMC. She fell asleep watching Roman Holiday.

Rei hadn't even minded waking with a crick in her neck from sleeping on the sofa next to Jed.

She shook her head at herself. She never would have considered herself a romantic, let alone a sap.

"Rei, you date's here!"

Rei took one last look at her reflection and grinned. As Mina had once said, "Jed would swallow his teeth when he got a look at her."

He didn't disappoint.

His eyes widened as he took in her dress, lingering longer than strictly necessary on the slit. He gulped, the smiled as control came back to him. Stepping forward her took her hand and pulled her towards him.

He kissed her cheek then pulled back to study her again. "There are no words." He murmured.

Rei blushed and fumbled a bit with the pinning of his boutonnière. He steadied her hands between his.

"I'm serious. I know I said that I'd still love you in a flour sack, but I have to say that I'm glad you didn't take me up on the offer."

That had the desired effect as Rei's nerves bottomed out into amusement. She pat his cheek and stepped back. "You clean up well enough."

He looked insulted. "Ha! I have it on good authority that I looking dashing and handsome."

She poked him in the belly. "You're sister doesn't count."

He smirked. "Your mom thought so too."

She scowled at her mother who lowered the camera sheepishly. "Guilty. And I meant every word."

"Mom, you're going to give him an even bigger head then he already has!"

Jed winked at her mother as he secured her corsage. "Now, now darling. Keeping talking like that and your mom will think you're crazy about me."

"I am. Crazy anyway. I must be for spending so much time with you." She crossed her arms and glared at Jed.

He beamed and kissed her nose.

Rei's mother lowered her camera long enough to usher the couple outside to pose in front of the limo with Mina and her date. After what seemed like eternity, the couples were able to seek haven in the limo, away from the camera flashes.

Rei blinked as her eyes adjusted to life without blinding bursts of light. "Sorry about Mom. I guess she got carried away."

Brian, Mina's date, grinned. "You should have seen the flashes at my house. I don't think my eyesight will ever be the same.

Mina leaned forward in her seat to grin across at Rei. With her gold tulle skirt spread about her she resembled a gorgeous fairy. "I love your dress Rei."

Rei gave Mina a strange look. "Well thanks Mina. Even though you've already seen it. In fact I think you picked this one out."

Mina didn't even notice as she was standing pointedly at her brother.

He laughed. "Relax Mina, I already told her that she looks gorgeous."

"You didn't say gorgeous." Rei muttered.

Her took her hand and kissed it. "I meant to. Gorgeous. Stunning. Ravishing. Resplendent-"

She pulled her hand away. "Enough. SATs are over and done with."

"It doesn't mean that he doesn't like any opportunity to use his five dollar words." Mina told her.

Jed snapped his fingers suddenly. "I almost forgot!" Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a jewelry case and handed it to Rei.

She eyed it warily before opening it. Nestled inside was a gold necklace with a red stone pendant attached to it. She snapped the lid closed and met his amused gaze. "That had better not be a ruby."

He grinned. "It's not a ruby. Mina said it would match your dress so I bought it."

"Are you going to make a habit out of this?"

"If you promise to react like this every time? Then yes."

"He does it all the time," Mina put in. "Sometimes he even manages to get you something that you like." She held up the gold heart locket she wore. "See."

Jed pouted. "Enough with the mocking. Don't I deserve a kiss for my efforts?"

"I'm pretty sure that it devaluates the gift if you only gave it to get some action." Brian piped up.

Mina burst out laughing. Jed ignored the other boy as he leaned into kiss Rei before she could make up her mind not to.

"Just don't expect me to wear anything that says 'Property of Jed.'"

"Then I guess I'd better call the jewelers tomorrow and tell them to cancel that name bracelet."

"You wouldn't"

"In all fairness it doesn't say 'Property of Jed' so much as 'Jed's Bitch'."

Rei smiled sharply. "Sweetie. You know that if you did something like that, there would be pain."

"Worlds of it." He smiled and touched his forehead to hers. "Is it any wonder that I adore you?" He asked before he kissed her.

Mina nodded sagely at Brian. "I've always said that if you mix pineapples and oranges you get a wonderful fruit drink."

He blinked at her. "I've never heard that expression."

She beamed at him. "Now you have."





The limo dropped the four off and they made their way into the already crowded hotel ballroom. Jed would have preferred to spend the remainder of his night with Rei, but he noticed how cozy his sister and her date were looking.

Too damned cozy in his opinion.

He shot Brian a warning glare as the boy flirtatiously trailed a finger down Mina's bared shoulder. Brian didn't see it but Rei did.

"You do realize that Mina is as old as I am, right?"

Jed nodded, distracted. "I know how old my sister is."

Rei rolled her eyes. Mina may have been 17 but as far as Jed was concerned she would always be seven. "She'll be fine." Rei assured him, taking his hand. "And if she needs us, we're here."

He lifted their joined hands to kiss her knuckles, touched that she understood. Any other girl would be pissed to not have his complete attention. Not Rei though. Both him and Mina were lucky to have her loyalty. "All right. I won't shadow her all night. But if he lays a finger on her-"

"She'll break it off." Rei filled in before he could finish. "If she doesn't want it there." Was left unspoken.

He led her to the dance floor where they swayed to a slow dance.

When the song ended he grinned down at her. "I'm impressed. You didn't step on my feet once."

She snorted.

His smile widened and he leaned down to kiss her nose. "You make me happy."

"Poetry, the man gives me poetry." Despite the teasing tone in her voice, she was blushing.





After they tired of the dance floor they took their seats at a table filled by the "in crowd". Darien, Serena, Mina, Brian, and Molly among others.

"So I was in the library..." Molly began.

"Please tell me that she wasn't after a book." Rei muttered to Jed. "The day she takes up reading is the day that I quit."

Jed tried to turn his chuckle into a cough, but Molly glared at him anyway. Before she could continue the lights dimmed and a spotlight went to the stage.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if I may have your attention please." The room hushed as all eyes turned to the stage. "It's time to announce Rivercreat High's homecoming king and queen!"

"Here we go." Jed murmured and kissed Rei's cheek, taking her hand.

Mina took her other. "Good luck!" She smiled encouragingly.

The principal read through the queen nominees. When he got to her name, Rei felt her stomach roll. She prayed she didn't look as sick as she felt.

"And you queen is..." The principal, being a sadistic son of a bitch, held the pause for as long as possible. "Rei Hino!"

She couldn't move.

"Go on up Rei. we did it."

She looked numbly over to Jed, a slow smile lighting her face. She nodded, her smile brilliant. She'd actually won.

The principle placed the crown on her head then turned to announce the king.

"And your homecoming king is..." Once again the pause was brutal. "Darien Chiba!"

Rei's smile faltered and she scanned the crowd for Jed's face. His smile was still strong, face a mask of pride. His smile widened when he saw that Rei was watching him. He flashed her a thumbs up, indicating that all was well.

Darien led Rei to the floor and they moved to 'Unchained Melody'.

"I'm glad you were the one to win, Rei. I wouldn't have wanted to do this with anyone else."

Her eyebrows raised. "What about Serena?"

He shook his head and rather then meet Rei's gaze, looked out at the sea of faces that formed a circle around them. "I think that me and Serena might be breaking up soon."

"Why?"

He sighed. "She's always around. Which wouldn't be so bad if it...you know, weren't all the time."

"I thought you were in love with her."

"I am." He paused. "I think."

Rei smiled gently. "There's no in between. You either love her, accept her as she is or you don't. That's all it's ever going to come down to."

"I know that. And I'm not sick of her. I'd just like to be able to breathe." He looked down at Rei, eyes intense. "You know, it was always different with you. I can spend every waking moment with you and never tire of your company." He searched her face expectantly, looking for a response to his unspoken question..

Rei nervously swallowed and looked at anything but Darien's face. Two days ago this was what she thought she wanted. But it wasn't then anymore then it was now. "That's different. We never dated." Her smile warmed as her voice took on a teasing tone. "It would have ended badly, we would have argued. Remember?"

He smiled sheepishly as she threw his own words back at him. He noticed Serena standing at the edge of the crowd, eyes shining, smile lighting her face. Other girls would be locked in the bathroom bawling their eyes out because they hadn't won. Other girls would be seething with jealousy if they had to stand back and allow their boyfriend to dance with a girl who shared as much of his life as Rei had.

Other girls weren't Serena. She trusted him. She believed in him.

And sometimes he was an ass. He probably didn't even deserve her.

That didn't mean that he wasn't going to keep her.

He smiled warmly at his girlfriend but spoke to Rei. "I think things are better of the way they are, don't you."

"I agree with Chiba." Jed said, appearing beside the dancing couple. "This song is just about over. I figured nobody would kill me for taking my girl back."

Rei frowned at him. "Your girl?"

"Did I say girl. I meant angel. Light of my life. My own true love."

"I think it was the claim of ownership that Rei objects to." Darien supplied oh so helpfully.

Rei shook her head at both. "Come on moron, I thought you wanted to dance." She said, taking Jed's hand.

Jed grinned at Darien. "I just love her cute pet names for me."

"Quit being a jackass." She started tugging him away and into a dance. All the while doing her best to ignore the mock injured look on Jed's face.

Finally she relented. "Oh stop it. You're not hurt."

He sniffed. "Easy for you to say. You weren't the one who was called a jackass by his girlfriend."

She sighed. "Quit playing around."

"I'm not. You've wounded me to the core."

She fought back her smile as he emphasized his statement with a wounded puppy dog look.. At this rate he'd win any fight they had by sheer persistence.

Finally her smile won out, triggering one on his face. Shaking her head at the sight the two of them must be making she kissed him softly. He laughed and picked her up into a quick spin.

Fifteen minutes later they were still dancing slowly to the music.

"If it weren't for the tight clothes, high heels, hundred other people, and eighties power ballad playing, I could stay like this forever." Rei proclaimed, resting her cheek on Jed's shoulder.

He tucked his chin over her head. "You, darling, are a romantic."

She didn't rise to his bait. "I'm sorry that you didn't win, Jed. I know it was important to you."

"It was important. Keyword being was. I have other priorities now."

She smiled. "Such as."

"Convincing you to sneak off and make out behind the bleachers with me. "He replied half (okay, mostly) seriously.

She batted his shoulder and he chuckled.

"You didn't answer Chiba's question back there."

"Hmm?" Rei asked without moving her head.

"Would it have been better if we had both gotten what we started out wanting?"

She lift her head to meet his gaze. "Oh Jed, you must know that you are all that I have ever wanted. Even in the beginning. All I want, for now and forever."

He laughed as she bat her eyelashes and clutched a fist to her heart for effect.

"I was serious." He protested, still laughing.

"You want a serious answer?" She asked.

He nodded.

"Fine. My answer is this," Her eyes twinkled up at him. "You're an idiot for even asking such a stupid question."

He smiled at her. "I guess I am. Here I am asking you stupid questions when what I should be doing is escorting you behind the bleachers." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Her laughter rang throughout the gymnasium.

"I take that as a no."

She nodded and laid her head back on his shoulder. "Let's just stay like this for awhile more."

He kissed her head softly. "Yeah. I can do that."






A.N.
Ta da!!! The end!!!!

I know it was a bit heavy on the sap, but I'm sure none of you died of an overdose.

Underneath It All will be out in a month. Maybe sooner. Cough. Badger me about it. Cough. It'll probably be out sooner if you do. Cough.

In the meantime I'll be hanging out at Shittenou.com. Just as soon as it goes back up.

Thanks to you all. It's been fun.