Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Sailor Moon.
Rei waited for Rasmussen to come through on his own proposal over the next couple of days. She found it ridiculous, the way she sat waiting on his phone call, when she wasn't even sure she wanted to start anything with the man in the first place. Thursday came and went and still no call. Rei was about ready to cross him off her list for good when the call came.
Except it wasn't quite the call she'd been expecting.
"Colford Women's Shelter, this is Rei speaking. How can I help you?"
Rei froze in her seat. Her father never contacted her during work hours. Rei hated the feeling of uneasiness that began growing in her stomach. The man was definitely up to something.
"Hello Father," she greeted, determined to keep her voice steady. Rei looked up and saw that the door to her office was open, and that her assistant was walking by. She gestured for her assistant, Clara, to close the door, mouthing her thanks. When the door was closed, she sat back in her desk chair and concentrated on playing the game her father had started. "You hardly ever call this line. Is something the matter?"
"Nothing at all. It merely came to my attention that you had a...run-in with Malakai earlier this week."
It was back to that man! Why was he everywhere she turned? Rei cleared her throat before answering the questions that went unsaid.
"Yes, I was looking at his home, since it's for sale. I hadn't known, at the time, that it was his home, though."
There was silence on the other line and Rei could tell her father was piecing things together. Obviously, he'd know what was going on and if there was anything going on between his daughter and his favourite new business toy. Rei had found out through years spent living with the man that it was easier to and better to give him the truth right away. It tended to throw her father off when his daughter, whom he knew didn't quite hold him in the fondest regard, immediately told him the truth of things.
"Hmm. I'll be sending my driver over to pick you up for lunch. I know you didn't bring your car to work."
Rei rolled her eyes and reached for her stress ball. "Lunch, Father? I don't think we made plans and I'm very busy at the office. I could-"
"We have important matters to discuss. I'll see you at lunch." Her father interrupted. Then, he hung up.
Rei sighed and glanced at her clock. She had an hour until she had to respond to the 'royal summons'. Shaking her head at her father's behaviour, she got to work. There was no telling what kind of mood she'd be in after lunch. Rei was pretty sure it wouldn't be a very productive mood, she thought as she viciously squeezed her stress ball.
The restaurant was lovely. It had a downtown, modern vibe and from what she'd seen on other tables, the food looked delicious. It was also well outside of her budget for this week but Rei knew her father would spring for the meal. He would have it no other way, of course. What kind of alpha male couldn't provide for his own?
Just as he'd said, his driver had been downstairs waiting to bring her to her father. Rei had gotten in without complaint and stayed silent throughout the duration of the ride. Once the driver had dropped her off at her destination, someone had been standing by to take her to her father's table. Rei's lip curled in disdain. She was always, always being 'handled' when it came to her father. She was used to it, but that didn't mean she ever had to agree to it.
Her father was seated facing the entrance of the restaurant and it was apparent that he'd been watching Rei make her way towards him. She greeted him first with a perfunctory nod. Once she was seated and had made herself comfortable she met his gaze and greeted him verbally.
"Hello Father. Thank you for...inviting me to lunch."
Roger said nothing. He merely watched Rei for several moments. She let him watch her for several more moments until, finally, Rei had had enough.
"What is this about? What are these important matters you wish to discuss?" Rei questioned, careful to not let her emotions get the best of her. This was her father she was dealing with and the more emotion she showed, the more he would press to find a weakness he could exploit.
Roger gestured to a waiter that had been standing behind Rei. She turned in time to see several other waiters and waitresses heading towards their table laden with a number of dishes.
"I ordered for us, to save time," Roger said disinterestedly. He folded his hands and leaned forward, definitely more interested now. "I find it...fortunate that you've been in contact with Malakai on your own, outside of my influence."
Rei's brow immediately furrowed. Roger's eyes flicked upwards to her brow but he said nothing about her telling reaction.
"I take it he hasn't spoken to you since then?" He went on without waiting for Rei's reply. "I can't say that I'm surprised. He's a very busy man. A very productive man."
Rei was ready to explode. Just what was going on? Why was her time being wasted talking about a man who couldn't even give her a call?
"I'll get to the point."
Rei nodded. "Please do."
"Malakai approached me with a proposition," Roger paused here, his gaze went to a point just over Rei's shoulder. She watched her father's face for any clues of what was coming. "He needed my help and asked me to arrange a meeting with you."
"He said as much when we last met," Rei acknowledged. "He said that he asked you to help him meet me. I still don't understand what I have to do with anything regarding Mr. Rasmussen."
Roger's eyes crinkled in a show of faint amusement. "I'm surprised. You're generally more perceptive than this. That child and your grandfather are wearing you down, perhaps."
Rei bristled but fought to stay quiet and not give him the satisfaction of embarrassing herself in this restaurant. She clenched her hands on her lap, to provide a bit of an outlet for her frustration.
"Malakai has been looking for a suitable...partner. He has been considering marrying you."
She sat in shock for several seconds. "He, w-what?"
"I, in fact, suggested that he marry you. I took the steps necessary, long ago, to ensure that you would be a suitable partner for anyone of Malakai's status. As my daughter, you need to understand your position." Roger sat back in his seat and looked pensively at that spot over Rei's shoulder again. "I don't have Malakai under my thumb, though I suspect you probably thought such was the case. In fact, he's well on his way to having me under his thumb."
Rei sat there wondering whether this was all just a dream. She did agree that her father had taken whatever steps necessary to instill in Rei, the things and facts and niceties he felt a woman should know and display from a young age. She'd had to put up with it until he decided that he'd foist her off onto her grandfather, and in doing so, had done the best thing he could've ever done for her. Still, to hear him actually admit weakness voluntarily was...unnerving to say the least. Had she actually woken up this morning? There was one way to find out.
"I don't want any part of this. This is ridiculous." Rei stood to leave. She slung her purse over her shoulder and was about to walk away when her father spoke up.
"That child, the girl, are you willing to throw her future into this as well? I still have some influence in family court. She may be with you legally, right now, but there are ways to change that. You should know that I consider your getting closer to Malakai a priority at this point."
Rei stood still, her back to her father as she weighed her options. In all reality, there were no other options. Shelby came first now and her father knew it. Her hands clenched and she thought about how she had planned to approach Rasmussen in order to be free of her father. Now, it seemed, she would have to cozy up to Rasmussen, in order to stay in her father's good graces. Her head held high, she returned to her seat with as much dignity as she could muster, despite her now trembling frame.
"How dare you threaten my family," Rei bit out, as she glared at her father. She squeezed her knees with her hands trying to keep herself together. "You have no right!"
Rei watched as her father watched her, his unreadable gaze hiding the thoughts he was stringing together on how best to ruin her life.
"Would you care to test that theory?" Roger asked, baiting Rei to answer. She chose not to, grinding her teeth to keep her mouth closed. Rei had often witnessed firsthand, the extent of her father's methods of persuasion. If his colleagues denied his wishes to the last, they quickly became his opponents. Very few of those that Roger considered his opponents survived, and if they did, they were never the same.
"I didn't think so. Now, eat something before this food goes to waste. My driver will have you back at work on time. I trust I've given you some things to think about."
Rei stared at the food before her and stood once more. "I apologize. I've lost my appetite. I'll be on my way now."
Rei left the restaurant without looking back. She hailed a taxi and went straight back to her office. Once safely inside the privacy of her office she dialled her home number.
"Grandpa? I need you to pick Shelby up today. What? No, everything's ok. Really. I just need to talk to Lita about a few things. Yep. Ok. Call me if you need me. I'll be home later tonight. Bye."
Rei hung up with a heavy heart.
Soon after work, Rei made her way across town to Lita's home, needing help in making sense of the situation. She arrived almost an hour after finishing work, tired, frustrated and emotional. Rei knocked on Lita's front door and then placed a hand to her temple. A terrible headache was setting in.
The sound of footsteps approaching the door from the inside were the only warning she had before the door swung open and she was caught up in Lita's warm embrace.
"Hey hon! I had you on my mind today. I was actually going to phone you tonight to make sure that everything was - " Lita trailed off when she leaned back and caught a look at Rei's face. What she saw there must have been heavy enough because without another word, she firmly, yet gently steered Rei into her home and closed the door behind them. She held out her hand with her palm facing upward.
"Jacket, please. Then into my kitchen. Not another word until I get a cup of tea into your hands."
Rei smiled a brittle smile and then did as she was told. The sympathetic sigh Lita gave her in return told her that Lita had definitely picked up on her current funk. She sat in one of the chairs around Lita's kitchen table and watched as Lita moved about her kitchen with ease and efficiency. Rei smiled a little smile when she heard Lita humming a tune to herself. Rei then contented herself with watching chickadees play in Lita's tree in her backyard.
Just as Lita placed a steaming cup of Rei's favourite tea in front of her, Lita's doorbell rang. She looked at Rei, an apology at the ready.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were coming over. Ami and I made plans for dinner, what do you need me to do?"
Rei shook her head and cleared her throat. "Don't worry about me, I'll go. You two continue your evening."
Lita held up one finger. "Let me check with Ami." Lita rushed off without paying attention to Rei's plans to leave. Rei listened, a little uncomfortable, as the door opened and her friends held a hushed conversation at the door. An eyebrow rose when she heard what sounded like men's voices coming from the front hallway as well. When the sound of several people approaching reached her, Rei immediately sat back, trying to pretend she hadn't just been listening.
Lita came into view first, her smile slightly strained as she pointed over her shoulder gesturing towards the additional guests that were approaching. Rei smiled warmly albeit a little confusedly and waved when she saw Ami's serene smile as she came in behind Lita. Then she felt the smile freeze on her face as Jay walked into Lita's kitchen followed by, of all people, Rasmussen.
"You!" Rei shrilled, shooting out of her chair towards Rasmussen, her finger headed for his stoically, handsome face. Several things happened at once. Jay rushed towards Rei to intercept her forward, very angry motion with a yelp as she nearly took out his eye. Lita stepped towards Rasmussen, arms crossed and an eyebrow raised in a silent question, laced with a little of Lita's own brand of menace. Rasmussen stood his ground and met Lita's gaze without flinching, once he was satisfied that she'd backed down, he turned his gaze to Rei. She began vibrating with anger and the frustrations of the day as she met his gaze. Ami merely stepped back and away from the situation, taking a moment to look at everyone involved before loudly clearing her throat and gaining everyone's attention.
"I think, perhaps, this is something that Rei and this gentleman need to discuss, as it seems to be between the two of them." Ami exchanged a meaningful glance with Lita who nodded slowly.
"Ah, y-yes. Good idea, Ames." Lita grabbed Jay's arm and began hauling him out of the kitchen, ignoring his sputtered protests. "We'll be, umm, somewhere else, if you need us. Talk all you want. Solve things. Please."
Ami followed the pair out of the room, but not before sparing one last concerned glance at Rei. Rei gave her a weak, reassuring smile and nodded at her friend. Seemingly satisfied, Ami left the kitchen leaving Rei alone with Rasmussen. She met his grey eyes once more and searched it looking for something that would tell her what was going on in his mind. She found nothing. They stood like that for several seconds before he sighed lightly. He gestured towards the seat she'd vacated just moments ago.
"Please have a seat. We need to talk."
Rasmussen waited for Rei to take a seat but she stood her ground, not quite unwilling to yield to the man who was ruining her life. Or, to be fair, was the reason her father was willing to make her life miserable.
"I'll explain what you need to know. Give you a chance to get your feet back under you." He moved around her and chose to sit at the seat across from the one she was still refusing to sit in. Rei pivoted to follow his movement. "You've probably spoken with your father."
Rei nodded tightly before slowly sinking into the chair. She realized that she was grateful to be seated, her legs had been about to give way. Quite an impression that would've made.
"He spoke to me, Mr. Rasmussen," she said, meeting Rasmussen's gaze squarely.
Rasmussen nodded and rubbed a hand over his chin, never taking his eyes off Rei. He seemed to be considering something, so Rei gave him that time. For now. But she would need answers as to why her father was willing to break apart her family for this man.
"I don't beat around the bush, you'll find." Rasmussen stated abruptly. He gentled his tone and added, looking at Rei with a sincerity she was surprised to see, "I'll be as honest with you as possible, Ms. Hino. I don't intend on alienating you in any way. I haven't been able to call you this week because a business I've been trying to acquire almost went belly up. I needed to see that things were done as I specified and I needed to do that in person."
Rei nodded slowly, understanding that this new tidbit of information seemed very on point with the person Rasmussen had appeared to be up until this point. "You were out of town then?"
He nodded. "Out of the country, actually. In Europe, or France to be specific. I apologize for not being able to call you."
Rei stayed silent not choosing to respond to that apology. Though, she could grudgingly understand how being in France tending to urgent business could have kept him from calling her. Rasmussen continued without a response from her.
"My intentions were to make plans for dinner so that we could discuss why I've taken such a sudden interest in your life." His grey gaze sharpened until Rei was transfixed, unable to explain why this man captivated her despite her knowing next to nothing about him.
"Well, here it is. I intend on convincing you that marrying me would be a worthwhile investment." He smiled, a rather self-deprecating smile and continued.
"I intend on marrying you."
AN: Life got busy and then I got sick with that nasty stuff going around. Needless to say, here is chapter 3!
Talk to me!