dedication: to Les on her twenty-first birthday. she's an old fart, yo.
notes: HERE HAVE SOME ANGST.
summary: Winter never was our season. I'm quite aware we're dying. — Rei/Jadeite.
(Winter never was our season.)
Rei watched the world freeze over through the window of Makoto's bakery, eyes narrowed down to slits. She'd never appreciated winter—this was Ami's time, ice and snow blurring the world outside 'til everything was a smear of white. She thought of crystal castles in the sky, and wondered if Tokyo was going to end up this lifeless forever.
The Senshi of Fire had no place in such a colourless world.
Makoto set a cup of orange green tea down in front of her. The click of china against linoleum was loud in Rei's ears.
"You don't have to go back, you know," Makoto said, gently.
"Of course I do."
"The Scared Fire," Rei said, and smoke hissed through her teeth to taint the air sickly grey. She didn't lose control often, but Jakob made her want to burn the world to the ground.
(Sometimes the visions come like this:
—the world's gone up in flames and her hair swings; it is an ink curtain caught in time with the sway of her hips and the flare of her crimson Senshi skirt. The fire spills from her palms, furious orange-red greedy-guts that eats up all the oxygen around her. She doesn't pause and she walks, walks, walks. Ash settles into her hair, onto her shoulders, thick and grimy. She never has any idea where she's walking, but she keeps her eyes on the ground to side-step the scorched bodies.
She forces herself not to vomit.
When she looks up, his eyes are the impossible electric blue of propane-fire.
She raises a hand, and doesn't say a word.
The fire consumes him, entire. He doesn't even have time to scream.
Rei smiles with all of her teeth—
Not always, but sometimes.)
"Rei-chan… the Fire, it's not always—"
"It's always right, Makoto," Rei replied sharply. The Fire had never led her wrong, not once in her entire life. Sometimes it was vague and sometimes its predictions came true in ways she didn't expect, but it had never, never led her wrong. "He's planning something."
"You love him," Makoto said quietly.
Rei's lips went tight, pressing down into a thin white line across her face. "Love doesn't factor into this question, Mako-chan."
"Of course it does."
"He's going to try to kill Usagi! I will not let it happen, Mako-chan. Serenity cannot die again. She's the only hope we've got," Rei said. She turned the tea cup around and around, swirled the dregs of the tea leaves around the bottom, and tried the reading again.
Doom, the cup said. Death. Pain.
Makoto folded her arms, and looked down at Rei. "Mamoru would die first."
"He just might," Rei said grimly. "Remember the Silver Millennium."
"We're different people than we were a thousand years ago, Rei-chan. We won't repeat their mistakes, and you know it. We're older and smarter and we've faced eviller things than Metallia," Makoto said, and sank down into the chair across from where Rei was sitting. She propped her chin on her linked fingers, and looked at Rei with ancient, ancient eyes. "Things won't end the same way."
"But we are them. We have all their flaws—"
What was sure to be one of Rei's more viciously on-point arguments was stopped mid-rant by the tinkle of the bell over the door. Three people stumbled in, all red-nosed and wind-tousled—Ami, blushing furiously but clinging determinedly to Zeke's hand as the always-laughing man brushed snow off her head; and Jakob himself, lit up like a light bulb as his gaze landed on Rei.
Rei's slipped her hands beneath the table so he wouldn't see them curl into fists.
Makoto laughed breezily and went to welcome the three newest patrons. Rei couldn't even concentrate on what her auburn-curls friend came up with, but it probably had something to do with hot chocolate, and she wanted none of it. She just—she wanted—
Not thirty seconds later, the three of them happily flopped down at her table. Zeke grinned manically at her, all teeth. And Ami, while still flushed, managed a small, sweet smile and a tiny little wave in her direction. Rei automatically returned it, but her smile was a little forced, and she didn't even think to look Jakob in the eye.
All she would see was propane-blue, and she would probably scream and then try to set him alight. Jadeite, she thought. Jadeite, Jadeite, Jadeite.
There was no telling what her sense of self-preservation would egg her into doing.
(You killed me in one life and I killed you in another, and the cycle can only continue from here. It's your turn, beautiful, but I won't let you get there first. I'll burn all the stars from the sky before I let you destroy me again.)
But Rei could feel Ami watching her, the same way she might watch a chemistry experiment that was certainly about to explode. There was a knowing in those sage blue eyes—Ami always, always knew, even when they all thought she didn't—and it set Rei's teeth on edge.
"I should go," she said distantly. "Thanks, Mako-chan, I'll see you later."
"You haven't finished you tea," Ami observed quietly. She stared at Rei with sad blue water-eyes, and her knuckles were laced white and imperfect through Zeke's. She made no move to stop her. Neither did Makoto, hovering just out of reach.
Jakob's gaze was hot on her neck.
This was really not how Rei had wanted to spend her day.
"It's okay," Rei said. "I didn't really want it, anyway."
The cup rattled in its saucer. Rei's spine snapped straight and steel-strong, and she stood from the table tall, noble, fearless with her chin up and sparks crackling around her fingers. On heels and steady as always, she stalked to the door.
Rei let the door slam shut, and didn't look back.
This was a Minako thing to do, but Rei couldn't bring herself to care. The wind bit cold at her cheeks, skimming down her arms, down her shirt. The Senshi of Fire didn't even feel the temperature, too concentrated on not stopping, not falling, not failing.
She always ran too hot, anyway.
Gods, if only she didn't know that voice.
His hand closed around her elbow, and Rei caught flashes of him—pressed up against an abandoned building with his hands up her skirt; drifting in and out of sleep in the early morning in a room with white curtains and pale grey walls, his golden curls in her hands and knowing, knowing that she could close her hands around his throat and end his life but loving him too much to ever move; laughing into his shoulder during a hot summer night that didn't belong to either of them.
She shook him off.
It hurt too much.
"You're going to kill her," she said, slow and simple.
"Usagi. You're going to kill her. I've seen it, Jakob, I've seen it so many times."
"In the fire or in your dreams?" he demanded. His hand was still tight around her elbow, but he hadn't tried to turn her to look at him. Not yet.
"Both," Rei said.
"You're shitting me," he said, and she could hear the laughter smothered in his voice. He was embers leaping through her blood stream, and she had no time to choke him out. "You are shitting me. Rei, I'm not going to kill Usagi."
"You're lying!" she flared, and now she did turn to face him, eyes snapping with fury. "Don't think I don't know. I always know."
She didn't say and you of all people should know it, mostly because she didn't have to.
He would see it on her face.
Rei tilted her chin up to glare at him through her bangs. She wouldn't let him, wouldn't let him hurt her princess. Not this time, not ever again.
He was deliberate. "I'm not going to hurt my best friend's girlfriend. That's fucked up, Rei. What the hell is going on?"
"I saw you kill her!" she exploded. "I saw it! I don't know when, and I don't know how, but it's going to happen. You put a sword through her. Minako's sword. Again!"
"That wasn't me, the first time," he tried to point out, and Rei only shoved him.
"It was still your fault! You were weak, and you—you—I—!" and the tears welled behind her eyes, stupid and sloshy and out of control. Rei swiped violently and her cheeks and willed the liquid away.
"Rei," he said quietly. "What is this about?"
"You're going to—Gods, go away! When are you going to leave me alone? What do I have to do to make you leave?" Rei asked. Her voice crackled like dry tinder, shoulders shaking and ready to bolt as fast as she could, but his hand kept her anchored to the ground more surely than gravity ever had.
"You could ask," he said.
"You know I can't," and she blinked away the thick snowflakes that had begun to gather on her eyelashes.
"Ask me to leave, Rei, and I'm gone," Jakob said. His face was hard.
But her face was hard, too, and her heart was harder. The early mornings and the bite-marks and the laughter had all faded into the obscure cobwebby corners of her mind, and she wasn't quite ready to deal with them, yet. Jadeite was Jakob and Jakob was Jadeite and she was Mars was Rei was no one at all.
It was ugly, but she had to wonder which one of them would cave first.
It almost made her laugh.
But not enough to make this stop.
"Go, then," she said. "Get out while you can, Jadeite. Let this die, already. Stop trying, stop working, stop being someone I can care about. You aren't that person, underneath all of it, so stop pretending, already."
She swallowed nervously, and tried to stop the words there.
She'd said enough.
Jakob was chuckling under his breath. "So that's how you really feel, huh? Harsh, Rei."
"Like you even care. Let go, I have things I need to do," Rei replied. She shrugged him off, and caught him almost looking sad. It was a shame he was such a bad actor, she thought. He was a top-notch liar, but it wasn't the same thing at all.
(He wasn't going to change for her. For Endymion, maybe. But Endymion wasn't Mamoru and Rei wasn't Mars and this was not going to work.)
"So that's it. Not even a goodbye."
"Goodbye," she said easily.
Jakob looked at her with kerosene-eyes and she looked at the ground only for a moment before she hitched her gaze up and stared him in the face. This was the end—she hated him a little, but she did owe him this.
"Rei," he said again. His eyes went all soft around the edges.
Rei hated him, hated herself, hated the Scared Fire for telling her things long before anyone should have known they would come to pass—assuming they ever did. The Fire was vague, but the things it predicted always came true.
And Rei would not allow Serenity to die.
She took a deep breath, and pulled in air like courage.
"Goodbye, Jakob," she said.
It was less easy, and a little more painful, this time.
He didn't say anything at all, just stood there with his hands in his pockets and his hungry eyes on her face. ei tucked her scarf in, and turned away. She wasn't going to cry in front of this man, not when she needed so much to be strong.
The snow fell silent around her.
It muffled her footsteps, and softly she walked away.
(I'm quite aware we're dying.)