The happy couple kissed and the small crowd cheered in congratulatory celebration. She politely smiled and lightly clapped her hands, perfectly manicured nails glistening in the sunlight. As they trotted down the isle and onto the beach, she looked towards the setting sun in apprehension. Demons came out at night.
Everyone began making their way to the reception area on the warm sand, but she had other plans. She slipped off her stilettos and carried them by the straps, turning to the ruins behind her. It truly was a beautiful sight to behold.
"Where are you going?" A voice asked as she began to walk in the direction of the ruins.
Raye felt intensely agitated at being shaken awake. Apparently, the shuttle was a few minutes away from landing in Saudi Arabia and her companion was insistent that she walk her happy ass to the rental car herself. Her throat was extremely sore, and the longer she thought about it the more worried she got about Mina.
Raye thought more about the situation and realized she was possibly the worst person on the planet for not being more worried about the blondes welfare. Sure, Mina was Sailor Venus. She could blast monsters to bits. But, did that excuse her own reaction to the problem? Hell, she had assumed Mina wondered off before an actual kidnapping. Where did this hard, cold person come from?
"Quatre's house is about an hour from the shuttle port." Heero muttered to Raye, his eyes not reaching hers. "Were you able to pack much or do we need to stop in town?"
"I'll be fine." Raye put a hand to her throat. It hurt like a bitch. "What time is it there? Two in the morning?"
"Try two in the afternoon."
Raye groaned. She was not in the mood. All she wanted was a bed so she could rejuvenate for the hard times ahead. Her sleep was ruined by the assholes who broke into her home.
Why was she thinking of sleep in a time like this?
"This is the captain speaking. Please fasten your safety belts and prepare for descent..."
It was strange being in Heero's presence again. He was so different, so alluring that Raye had a hard time sitting beside him. There was so much more to this man than face value, and she wondered how many people in his life took the time to figure that out.
"Mind telling me why Mina was kidnapped? Or why you were ambushed?"
Raye snorted. "Not particularly, no."
It was no surprise to her that he was already questioning the situation. What sane human being wouldn't? But, she was in no mood to answer his questions. She still had questions herself.
The Scout's being discovered was really not the part that shocked her. After being alive for so long, she was just surprised it hadn't happened sooner. What was really puzzling to Raye was why someone would kidnap Mina. There were no enemies to be spoken of (the energy-sucking, Dark Kingdom variety) and they hadn't donned their Scout personas in so long she was surprised anyone even remembered them. Besides, what would humans gain from capturing Mina? How did they discover her in the first place?
"How will we solve the problem if you refuse to give me any information?" Heero turned to look at her, but she avoided his gaze.
She busied herself with checking the cuts on her leg. "It's more complicated than you might think."
"Try me. My entire life has been complicated."
"Not hundreds of years worth of complicated..." Raye mumbled to herself, fighting the urge to sigh loud enough to wake all sleeping passengers aboard the shuttle. "Let me talk to the others first. It's not just my business."
This seemed to catch his attention.
The shuttle began to break through the atmosphere, causing the whole shuttle to shake. The sleeping passengers began to stir and the children threw their hands in the air in excitement. It just occurred to Raye that some people have never been to Earth at all.
Heero didn't have a response for her. He just stared ahead as the shuttle neared closer to the Earth. She watched him close his eyes and take a steady breath.
"When was the last time you went to Earth?"
Heero exhaled. "Their wedding."
Raye faced forward.
There was a reason she lived in space.
The looks of complete and total disappointment on her fellow Scouts' faces were enough to send her into the depths of space to never return. She noticed Heero stayed close to her when they arrived, not moving closer to his comrades much like herself. Perhaps he felt the same way she did. Was it wrong to want some distance from the people she would live with for all eternity?
A part of her wished the car ride through the desert lasted longer. An hour just wasn't long enough for her to emotionally prepare for this. Mina and Quatre got married three years ago. It had been three years since she had even spoken to the three women before her now.
She felt the eyes of everyone giving them a once over. The bruise around her neck was the star of the show, but the cuts on her legs from the crystal fragments she was tackled onto came close second. Raye didn't know what to say, but it didn't matter. Serena ran to her and threw her arms around her neck, not even noticing the flinch in her emotional display.
"Raye..." She whispered. "I am so thankful you are safe."
Raye returned the hug gently, trying to ignore the sadness in Serena's voice. She seemed so thin in her arms for some reason.
"You too, Serena."
The future Queen pulled away and Raye took the opportunity to look around the room. Someone was missing. Actually, two someone's were missing.
"Where is Hotaru?"
Serena frowned. "Gone. Haruka and Michiru haven't seen her. There was no disturbance, so they fear she went after Mina alone."
Someone clearing their throat got their attention. It was the Chinese man leaning against the door frame, eyeing them with the utmost suspicion. Raye vaguely remembered him from the wedding, but his name slipped her mind.
"Yes?" Raye asked, narrowing her eyes to demonstrate her irritation.
"Seeing as we are all here and looking for Mrs. Winner, I believe that any and all information that may be useful should be disclosed to the whole of the search party." The Chinese man challenged her with an accusatory tone of voice, one she did not appreciate at all. But before Raye could comment, Quatre came into the room, motioning for all of them to come into the formal dining room to talk over lunch.
Quatre Winner was possibly the sweetest man Raye had ever met, but today he looked as though he were on his last leg. His hair, usually combed, was everywhere. Red eyes, complete with bags underneath, spoke decibels to the search party on how he was fairing. The group filed in, passing Quatre with looks of sympathy in their eyes. Raye was the last to go in, but Quatre's hand around her arm stopped her before she could.
"A word." It was not a question.
They took a seat in the foyer they were standing in before, side by side on an elegant chaise. The Arab dropped his head in his hands, letting out a soft sigh. Raye didn't know how to comfort him, so she waited in silence.
"You know I never asked questions."
Raye nodded, but knew he couldn't see anything but his palms. "I know."
"You know I was willing to deal with, you know, whatever Mina is."
"I know." She felt no insult. Sometimes she hardly knew what she was.
Quatre sat his chin on his clasped hands, balancing on his knuckles. Raye could hear the exhaustion in his voice, the way he breathed.
"She told me that I would never have to deal with her other life. I told her that she would never have to deal with mine." He turned and looked Raye in the eyes. "Now it seems as though our worlds are colliding, and I am powerless to stop it."
"Did you tell Heero about your secret?" He interrupted. Quatre was never one to be intentionally rude, but the poor guy was distraught so she let it go.
"Raye, I don't know what to do. My friends are battle-hardened war veterans who only have faith in cold steel and mechanized weaponry." He let out a laugh. "As a follower of Allah, I have room in my heart to accept the things I cannot explain. Allah can do all things, and if he deems that immortal goddesses roam the land, so be it. But, my friends will not see it the same way."
Raye nodded. Not many people would believe their story.
"Do you have faith, Raye?" He asked.
"I have faith in my own two hands." Raye answered.
"Do you have a god?" Quatre's voice broke. "Because I have faith that Allah will bring her back to me."
Raye looked at him sadly. "There was a time when I had a god. But that was before I knew I couldn't die."
They joined everyone else in the formal dining room, a roast steaming in the center of the table. Quatre asked everyone to eat, and so they did, but only because he asked them too.
Raye took a seat between Heero and Amy. Her gaze went to Heero first, who ignored her and ate his roast. She frowned and then turned to Amy, watching as the doctor delicately cut her meat.
Dr. Amy Anderson (her alias this time around) was the smartest person Raye knew. Out of all of the Scout's she enjoyed talking to her the most, simply because they could have intelligent conversation. Her dark hair was cropped about an inch below her ears, a blue hue glistening under the chandelier Quatre had hanging above the mahogany table. Her sapphire eyes focused solely on her plate, and it didn't take much for Raye to figure out that Amy was uncomfortable.
"I would like to thank all of you for coming." Quatre sighed. He hadn't even touched his food.
Serena dropped her silverware with a clang. Her food was only partially eaten. "I would also like to thank everyone. I know many of you came from across the world, or in Raye and Heero's case, from space."
Raye watched the Chinese man turn red from his seat. He had a temper, that much was obvious, but he was having an excessively difficult time being in the same room as everyone else. His hair was slicked back in a black ponytail at the nape of his neck, and Raye was dying to ask if his foul attitude came from his ponytail being too tight.
"Who are you and why are you here?" He asked, trying his damndest to reign in his impatience. Raye felt her insides boil just watching him.
Amy meekly raised her hand. "Perhaps we should all introduce ourselves. It has been three years since we were last acquainted."
The room went silent. She took that as her cue.
"I'm Dr. Amy Anderson. I have a private practice in the United States."
"What do you practice?" A man with a long, brown braid asked. He was wearing a priest collar, Raye noticed, and wondered what he was doing in this meeting. He waggled his eyebrows. "Stress relief?"
The guy in the priest collar was a pervert.
"Jesus, Duo. Not now." Heero muttered from his seat.
Amy was looking at everything except Duo. "I'm actually an oncologist."
"I'm Serena Tsukino." Serena piped up, not noticing poor Amy's blush. Raye took this time to acknowledge that Mamoru, or Darien as he was last known, was no where to be seen. "I am a kindergarten teacher."
The guys were not too eager to offer up any information. Quatre cleared his throat. He was not in the mood for everyone to bicker.
"I'm Duo." Priest collar took a drink of the beer he had by his plate.
"Chang Wufei." The Chinese man grunted. "And my occupation is none of your damn business."
"Lita Kino." The brunette sitting beside Quatre piped in. Her brown ponytail swayed as she turned her head back down to her plate. She was much taller than the rest of the girls, and she was by far the best cook out of them. At Mina's wedding, Lita had told Raye that cooking was the only thing she still loved to do.
"Trowa Barton." Raye had almost forgotten about him, but she remembered him as Quatre's closest friend. He was very tall and thin, but he was not so lanky that he lacked muscle definition. His brown hair hung in his eyes, but she could still see green peering out from underneath.
"Raye Hino." She accepted the wine offered to her by Duo as he walked by. Apparently he felt compelled to offer everyone a beverage as an apology for his crass remark. The bitter red slid down her throat, instantly calming her nerves.
"Heero." That was all the information he was willing to give.
Everyone knew Quatre, so he didn't bother making an introduction. Instead he got down to business. Raye watched as his heavy eyes looked up and down the table, surveying his audience.
"I don't know where to start." He sighed. "Mina was kidnapped at approximately 0400 hours by three men who silently broke into our home. They knocked me out and left me on the floor. When I woke up she was gone."
Duo whistled. "So, why would they take your lady Quatre? Why not just take your money?"
"And why go after that one?" Wufei motioned to Raye with his head.
"Now, Wufei, use your big boy manners." Duo chastised. "But, all that aside, why would they take Mina and try to kidnap you too?"
Raye took a drink of wine in order to give her hands something to do so she wouldn't strangle anyone. "Let's just say we have something in common."
"What would that something be?" Wufei prodded.
The room grew silent. No one wanted to be the one to tell the men the truth. Raye grabbed the wine bottle from the center of the table an poured herself another glass. This would be interesting, if nothing else.
The men switched their gazes from woman to woman, trying to guess who would spit it out first. Raye threw back the wine in her glass.
"We can't die."
The room froze for a moment.
"Right. And I'm the fucking Easter Bunny." Wufei stood up and hit the table. "Stop treating this situation like joke!"
"Shoot me in the head. I dare you." She seethed. "I'll just be reborn on some other fucking continent and I'll be back here in the morning!"
"Raye..." Serena stared at her friend with wide eyes.
"You know what, I knew this conversation was pointless. If you don't mind, I'm going to go and actually search for Minako, or Mina, or whatever her name is this year!" She slammed the wine glass on the table so hard the glass cracked, allowing the red liquid to pool on the table cloth.
The rest of the table watched as Heero departed in silence after her.
So, yeah, I am using American names for the inners and the japanese ones for the outers. I didn't realize I was doing that until now, but I hate the American names for the outers. Oh well. Attribute it to aliases :)
Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who reviewed. I am glad to see familiar faces and that the section is coming back to life!