Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Sailor Moon.
Rei did everything she possibly could to stay in denial about everything and anything for as long as possible. She lasted a grand total of two days.
By Sunday, she couldn't hold off anymore and was awake with the sunrise, holding Shelby close (who'd snuck into her room earlier in the morning) and slowly processing her situation, otherwise known as contemplating the sinking ship that was now her life.
Her father would do whatever he wanted to get what he wanted. Rasmussen was willing to offer protection from her father and by her father's own admission, he was on his way to being able to do so. However, if she went to Rasmussen, her father would pull the strings necessary to make sure Rei would give him the upper hand over Rasmussen. What was at stake? Her daughter's life, her grandfather's life and her own. Did her father care? That was a no brainer. It had never been about 'caring' when it came to her father. Did Rasmussen care? Or rather, what did he care about? What was his angle? Here, Rei found that she didn't have an answer. Every encounter she'd had with Rasmussen so far, hadn't exactly been under the most normal circumstances.
She'd seen bits and pieces of the person that others claimed that he was but she had yet to see the person that he was when no one else was around. Rei wanted to know about that person but wasn't sure if she could accept what she would find.
Rei lay in bed staring at her ceiling, watching the sunrise paint her room in warm, hopeful colours – chasing the gloom of night away. Her mother had always loved the sunrise. Or so, Grandpa always liked to say. So, when she'd been a little girl, she wanted to love the sunrise too. Just to have some connection to a woman she knew she loved but had never gotten the chance to know. Rei looked over at Shelby tucked into her side. A fierce longing to be the mother she'd never gotten washed over her and Rei had to blink rapidly to stave off the tears. Shaking her head, Rei wondered when she'd become so prone to showing more emotion than she felt was prudent.
She'd had 'The Conversation' with Chad several months before he passed. The conversation that told her that he was nowhere near the hopeless drifter her grandfather had taken in a decade before. Chad had become a man, with a daughter and responsibilities that he lived up to every day. Rei had been so proud of him. When he'd come to her, telling her that he knew that his job could one day kill him and that he wanted Shelby in safe hands, her hands, Rei had been floored.
Certainly, Chad had become the brother she'd never had but she'd figured he'd have alternate arrangements. She wasn't the type to be a mother. Her messed up childhood would lead to messed up mothering which would lead to messed up children. It was a secret fear Rei harboured, one she'd often covered up by declaring that while a husband would be acceptable, children would never be her 'thing'. Chad had blown right through that argument, telling her that Grandpa hadn't been the only one to take him in. From day one, despite her initial dislike of everything that Chad was, she'd been the mother hen, keeping Grandpa and Chad in line.
Rei smiled thinking of the mischief Chad used to get into, egged on by her grandfather. For a brief moment, she wondered what Chad would think of Rasmussen. Immediately, she shut those thoughts down, not letting herself go in that direction. Though she could almost hear Chad prompting her to, 'Give the guy a chance!'
Rei listened to the sounds of Grandpa moving about in the kitchen downstairs and admitted to herself that it was about time she heard his opinion on everything. Rei gently disengaged herself from Shelby, covering her properly with her comforter. She slipped on a robe and made her way downstairs, following the delicious smell of her grandfather's premium coffee. While her grandfather was a simple man in most aspects of his life, coffee was one of his vices and he never settled for less than the best.
By the time she arrived in the kitchen, her favourite mug was already on the counter. Rei had never been a coffee person, preferring her teas – herbal or otherwise – to any cup of joe. That didn't mean she didn't enjoy the smell of a really good cup of coffee.
Her grandfather grunted at her from behind yesterday's newspaper. Rei wisely chose to give him time to let the coffee take effect. She set about making the tea of her choice, adding in honey and milk when necessary. Rei held her mug in both hands, letting the comforting warmth seep into her, distracting her from her thoughts and the morning cold.
"Spit it out, girl. I won't live forever."
Rei snorted and sipped slowly at her tea, gathering her words.
"The guy that Father introduced me to? He owns my dream house. He also wants to marry me. Apparently, I'm 'suitable' or something." Rei raised her hands, making the quotation gesture, even though her grandfather still had the newspaper up. "He's a young, super successful businessman and my father wants him to be another one of his puppets on a string. So, he directed him my way, hoping to use me to get to him."
Grandpa grunted from behind the newspaper.
"The worst part?" Rei raised a hand to her temple, feeling the headache starting. "Father threatened to take Shelby from me."
She heard the pages of the newspaper rustle as her grandfather lowered them, his warm, brown gaze meeting her own. Despite how crazy this man had made her, in her teenage years, he was one of her anchors. It was amazing, how, after all of these years, one look from her grandfather could bolster her courage.
"I won't let him take her from us," Rei vowed. Grandpa nodded.
"He can try. I'd put up a fight he wouldn't easily forget." Grandpa mused for a moment, brow furrowed and a hand stroking his chin. "But, I think you should marry the young man."
Rei ended up taking a sip of her tea at the wrong moment. She coughed until tears came to her eyes as she tried to clear her airways.
"E-excuse me?" Rei croaked.
Grandpa shrugged. "Your father doesn't control him. You obviously haven't made up your mind about him, otherwise you wouldn't be sitting here asking me what I think about all of this. I helped raise you my dear. When you had your mind set on something, nothing I could do or say would make you do otherwise."
"Give him a chance to prove himself." At Rei's glare, Grandpa quickly amended that statement with, "Or give him a chance to make a fool of himself. See this thing through. It's still your life, my dear. You still make your own choices, even if the only choices you have are a rock and a hard place. You never know! He could be the one I've been hoping would come along, erm, for you."
Rei, now recovered from her coughing fit, took a tentative sip of her tea. Eying her grandfather suspiciously, not having missed his slip of the tongue.
"He is handsome," Rei ruefully admitted. "Not that his being handsome would sway my decision."
Grandpa remained silent, simply choosing to raise an eyebrow at Rei. Rei pursed her lips at him but didn't hold back.
"And he looks like Kaidou, but not exactly. He's broader and his hair is a genuine platinum blonde. They're probably about the same height, though. His eyes are grey too."
At her admission, Grandpa began cackling as he watched her, rubbing his hands together with glee. "Oh, this should be good! Invite the young man over for dinner. I want to meet him."
Rei stared at her grandfather, wondering if he'd gone and actually lost it this morning. Despite his very large mug of coffee. Still, her grandfather wasn't to be deterred.
"Bring him over. We'll have home court advantage and maybe we'll be able to find out where he's coming from. I'll be on my best behaviour."
Just then, Rei's phone rang upstairs. All she could do was spare her grandfather and his wiggling eyebrows a contemplative look before rushing up to her room to answer her phone. Shelby stirred on the bed, but didn't wake.
"Hey girl, it's me."
"Morning Lita. Everything ok? You don't usually call me this early."
There was a heavy sigh from Lita's end.
"I've been feeling horrible about the way everything went down last week."
Rei shook her head, despite the fact that Lita couldn't see her.
"Don't put that on yourself. How were you supposed to know that we'd both be there?"
The lack of an immediate response set Rei's teeth on edge. She looked over at Shelby before responding.
"What do you know, Lita?" Rei asked, as calmly as she could.
"That's why I phoned. Jay and I want to meet up with you. We need to talk and clear up a few things. Say, at 2 pm? Let's meet up at Andrew's arcade."
"Ok, see you then."
Rei raised her eyes to the ceiling, resisting the urge to sigh. What now?
Rei pulled into the arcade's parking lot and immediately spotted Jay's SUV. He must've given Lita a ride. Ever since Lita's phone call, Rei had run through every time she could remember that Rasmussen had come up with Jay and Lita. She could only remember Jay handing her that slip of paper with Rasmussen's name on it. As for Lita, the first time she'd seen them together had only been two nights ago.
Lita had readily admitted that they both knew Rasmussen, though she hadn't gone into detail regarding what connection they had. Come to think of it, Rei realized, Lita hadn't looked all that surprised when she'd told her and Ami that Rasmussen wanted to marry her. She had looked...caught.
Rei exited her car and made her way towards the front doors of Andrew's arcade. This place was filled with many memories. It had been a popular hangout in Rei's day, both for the games and the food. Unfortunately, arcades were quick to drop off the map with the advancement of technology. Still, Andrew, a natural businessman, had changed with the times and his patrons. He'd kept some of the decor and turned it into a retro-themed diner. She stepped inside and waved at Liz, Andrew's younger sister, who was probably covering for her hard-working brother.
"How you doing, girl!" Liz exclaimed. "I haven't seen you in ages. You should come by with your little darling some time!"
Rei nodded with a smile. "You're looking great! The married life suits you!"
Liz blushed. "My man is good to me. Lita and Jay are in one of the booths in the back. I'll talk to you soon, hmm?"
Rei nodded once more and set off to find the pair. It wasn't hard. Lita's particular shade of auburn wasn't common in Colford. She headed straight for them. Before they had a chance to greet her, she held a hand up and seated herself. Once she was settled, she took a deep breath.
"I've been trying very hard not to imagine the worst about you two. I know that our friendship has been genuine but I can not, for the life of me, figure out what you two have to do with all of this." Rei watched Lita and Jay exchange significant glances and then turn to focus on her. Jay scratched the back of his head.
"I-uh, guess I'll go first."
Lita laid a hand on his forearm.
"Let's order some lunch first. You haven't eaten have you, Rei?"
Rei shook her head. "No, I haven't."
Lita waved over one of the waitresses and immediately began rattling off everyone's order by heart. They'd been coming to Andrew's place for a long time and variety had never been a priority. The waitress left and Jay cleared his throat.
"I met Kai in college. We were worlds apart in everything, there was really no reason we should meet, let alone become friends. He was rich, I wasn't. He had an awesome sports car, I had a dying beater. The first thing we had in common was Political Science 101. I was a Political Science major and he was a Business major. I was watching the highlights of a football game that I missed during class, when he leaned over and told me what call the ref was going to make at an important point in the game."
Rei watched Jay's gaze turn inward as he relived the memory. She noted the fond smile that came unbidden.
"That, as they say, was that. We've been friends since. He's, uh, he's the reason I started doing what I do." Jay shrugged and turned to Lita. "I could go on, but maybe you want to hear her side first and then ask your questions."
They both turned towards Rei, giving her the choice. She nodded at Lita, letting her say her piece.
"Kai is, well, he's not going to like this." Lita fidgeted in her seat, despite the looks Jay and Rei were giving her. "Well, he won't! He'll think that we're trying to interfere and we aren't, I just don't want you to think that we were holding out on you on purpose."
"I'm not trying to make him out to be a saint, either, Rei. Believe me, he's as human as the rest of us and I won't go into his faults and virtues. You figure that out with him." Lita took a deep breath and launched into her tale.
"You both know that I was a foster child after my parents died. So was Rasmussen, he wasn't an orphan though. He had family issues. We, uh, landed in the same house for almost a year. He always watched out for me, I was a troublemaker even back then. Anyway, we became close and kept in touch through the years."
Rei's eyes widened as she let that statement sink in. "Close?"
Lita's eyes mirrored Rei's as she frantically gestured in the negative. "Not that close! We're family, you know, where it counts." She sighed and looked down at her hands.
"His home situation improved and he went home but I stayed in the system until I was old enough to strike out on my own. I, uh, immediately got into some trouble and Kai found out." Rei watched, her heart melting, when Jay reached for Lita's hand and squeezed it.
"I don't know how he kept an eye on me but he pulled me out of it and I lived with him while I got myself together. Several years later, here we are. Look, I love you, Rei, you're my girl. It's just that I love him too. I knew he was looking to get married, and I knew he had his eye on someone, I just never realized it was you."
Rei and Lita turned towards Jay who lifted his hands, shrugging innocently. "Bro Code."
They both sighed at him and there was a slight lull in conversation while the food arrived and everyone began to eat. Rei dutifully poked at her salad with her fork but her heart wasn't in it.
"Grandpa says that I should invite him over for dinner soon. I don't even know what to think about that."
Jay and Lita exchanged a glance before Jay leaned back into the booth, gazing steadily at Rei.
"I can't tell you what to do and you're not looking for us to tell you what to do, are you?"
Rei shook her head ruefully. "I am considering asking him over. Should I find it frightening that you both agree with my father on the subject of how great Kai is?" Rei raised an eyebrow in jest but Lita shuddered.
"Oh, that is scary." Lita agreed. Her attention went to something or someone behind Rei. "Moving on, Liz is heading our way," Lita warned.
Before they knew it, Liz had swept them up in nostalgic memories and the conversation turned to years gone by and the years inbetween. Rei let the contents of her short meeting with Lita and Jay settle in her mind. She would have time to sift through it all later. Rei was fine with letting the rest of the time pass discussing subjects that had nothing to do with Rasmussen. For now, she would enjoy this time with good friends. They grounded her. Reminded her that though her father's reach was impressive, being her own woman was her right as well as her duty.
Perhaps it was time that Rasmussen understand that as well.
AN: So, this is completely random but does anyone remember that episode, I'm pretty sure it was during the Black Moon Arc, where some female baddie goes after Grandpa? Then, Rei (despite the fact that they were arguing the whole episode) comes to his rescue, protecting him with her own body! There was some sort of boxing ring that had gotten set up in the temple and she couldn't transform because there was a whole crowd of people (that were unknowingly waiting to lend their energy to whatever nefarious scheme the bad guys had that episode) and thus had to wait for the other girls to come save the day.
That episode totally made me cry. I love that Rei has her grandfather and vice versa. He also makes for a pretty nifty character to use when Rei needs to think things through... XD
Anyway, I'm honestly not trying to drag this out! We'll get there. Hopefully. I'm also laying out some (probably not-so-subtle) hints about who the next couple is! Haha!
Here's where I say, "Talk to me!" (please do...) but instead, I'd like to say thank you for giving this story a try!
End of really long author's note.