Chapter 6: An attempt was made
Rei considered herself a very patient person.
But this was just getting ridiculous.
It'd been nearly two weeks and she saw at least one of the former senshi almost every day. She'd been dropping so many hints and trying to follow up every topic with an intensity that made the other girls side-eye her almost every time.
But, honestly, what did she have to do?
Draw them a damn picture?!
She was so frustrated she could just scre-
"Hi Rei!" Usagi entered her room without knocking, Luna at her heels. "Just coming to finally return those manga I borrow- hey!"
Rei jumped up and lifted Luna, holding her up and looking at her intently. Usagi tilted her head to the side. "Rei?"
"Tell her," Rei demanded, holding Luna up to Usagi's face, "TELL HER LUNA. JUST TELL HER."
When Luna didn't speak, Rei cried out: "Usagi. You. Are. Princess. Serenity. Sailor Moon. WHY DON'T YOU REMEMBER?"
Usagi was still starring at Rei curiously, and Rei realized she hadn't, actually, said those words out loud. She was too scared to. Rei had just gotten Usagi and the girls back in her life, she didn't want to lose them because she was spouting such crazy-sounding nonsense at them.
"Um," Usagi said finally, "maybe put my cat down now?"
Rei swallowed and let Luna down.
There was a short but intense moment of silence. Then Usagi smiled.
"Let's get ice cream!"
"I know!" Usagi was saying over her triple-brownie-parfait (which, Rei noted, the menu suggested was supposed to feed two), "Like, it was so unfair, I wasn't even that late-" suddenly she froze, and opened the manga she had brought from Rei's and held it up over her face.
"Usagi, are you-"
"Odango atama, if you want to hide from me that's a bad way to do it," a voice said from behind Rei's booth. An unsettlingly familiar voice. "I can still see your hair," the voice continued.
Rei let loose with a stream of vaguely uncharacteristic curse words inside her head. It's not that she had forgotten about Chiba Mamoru, per se, after all they had technically dated for a while there, but it's just that Rei figured she'd take care of everything else first and deal with him after. Or, better yet, let Usagi deal with him once she remembered everything.
Usagi, for her part, had lowered herself down so she was lying on booth on her back, manga dropped over her face completely. "Go away, can't you see I'm reading!" She said in a very prim (if muffled voice), not moving the manga from her face.
Mamoru laughed, "Don't hurt yourself, Odango Atama." He turned to leave and Rei felt a little disgruntled at being ignored.
"Hello," she said, pointedly.
Mamoru looked a little surprised to see someone else sitting there, and he greeted Rei politely.
She looked at him curiously. "Have we met before?" she said pointedly.
"I don't think so," he answered, "I'm-"
"Oh my god, get a room!" Usagi's voice was still muffled by the manga on her face, but it was definitely sounding annoyed.
"You better not get spit on my manga, Usagi!" Rei leaned over the table to remove the precious book from Usagi's face, and by the time they had settled that whole thing Mamoru was long gone.
Rei took a breath. He was the prince. He was Tuxedo Kamen. Usagi's, what, One True Love or whatever romantic, epic title you wanted to give it. He was part of this, and Usagi needed to remember him. And everything else, too, but this might be something Rei could... work with...
"So, Usagi," she said, conversationally. "Who was that guy?"
"What guy?" Usagi genuinely looked mystified, her eyes darting around as if looking for the person to whom Rei was referring.
"The... one who was just here talking to you?"
Usagi fixed Rei with a blank look.
"Oh my god." Honestly, she had forgotten how aggravating Usagi could be sometimes. "He called you 'odango atama'?" Rei said.
"Oooooh him," Usagi said, shrugging and paying very close attention to the last bites of ice cream in her dish. "Yeah, I don't know his name but I run into him a lot. He teases me. Anyway, do you want to swing by the bookstore and see if they have the next issue of Margaret?"
"So I'm gonna get Usagi and Mamoru together," Rei said while sweeping the stone walk of the shrine the next day. "It might help them remember, anyway."
Luna laughed. And Rei grinned despite herself. She had forgotten how adorably amusing it was to see a cat laugh. "Good luck," Luna muttered in a tone that suggested that Rei would definitely need it.
"Hey!" Rei said, resenting the implication that she was anything but utterly brilliant at matchmaking. She had a few boyfriends, she'd read manga, she'd watched movies. Besides, "They are destined for goodness sake, how hard could it be?"
Very hard, it turned out. Rei was certain it had nothing to do with her lack of ability but more their total lack of cooperation.
Rei waved Mamoru over to join them a couple of times when he happened to be at Crown the same time they were, but he seemed determined to stand there rather awkwardly making small-talk with the girls while Usagi eyed him suspiciously and he returned her glances challengingly.
Rei's attempts to steer the conversation in certain directions always fizzled away hopelessly until Mamoru, most likely deciding he'd had enough awkwardness for one day, would take his leave (usually with Usagi making faces at his retreating back).
"He's so much worse when you guys aren't here, I swear," Usagi said once after Mamoru finally walked away from their table at crown. "The other day he said that I 'sure do eat an awful lot'. If you can imagine," she said, while shoveling another forkful of cake into her mouth. The girls, wisely, let that drop.
Once, while walking across the park with Usagi, Rei saw Mamoru coming the other way, engrossed in a book. Thinking fast, and getting desperate by this point, she literally shoved Usagi directly into him and then stood back and pretended to be shocked that Usagi had stumbled so dramatically. Mamoru, to his credit, caught Usagi pretty deftly and gently steadied her on her feet, but Usagi just screamed at him and ran away.
Rei helped Mamoru retrieve his book, shrugged apologetically at him, and followed Usagi.
Back to the drawing board.
Later that same day, Ami came to Rei with a strange look on her face and some papers in her hand.
"Rei, there are some things... I can't explain. Do you have a second?"
Rei did. All the seconds in the world.
When Ami was a little girl, she used to hide things behind a loose floorboard in her bedroom. Her mother trusted her, and besides, Ami never had much of anything to hide, but the idea of having a secret place to keep precious things appealed to her. Things like a pretty river stone, or a small toy, or something she drew or... well, sometime she got a postcard or two she'd place in there. She did not elaborate on the postcards and Rei didn't press. She knew already, anyway.
"But," Ami said, "for the past few years I haven't used it. Except, today, for some reason, I decided to look in it and-" The papers Ami spread before Rei were so familiar Rei's eyes burned for a moment. Battle plans. Trajectories and predictions. Weather reports, of all things. Global coordinates. And research - about Tokyo's layout, about alternate dimensions. About the moon.
"This is my handwriting," Ami said, her voice strangely calm, her face focused, like a scientist with a theory. A theory they didn't particularly like.
"Rei," Ami looked at her friend with confused and intense eyes. "What does this mean?"
So Rei told her.
She just blurted it all out, every detail.
Ami listened, silent and expressionless and growing more and more pale.
Rei finished, finally, and looked at Ami, almost desperately. "Sailor Mercury-" she said.
Ami just shook her head, looking at Rei with no small amount of apprehension. "No," Ami said, shaking her head still, and standing up. "No, I'm sorry Rei but - none of this makes logical sense."
"I have to go," Ami stood, seemingly at a loss for a second. She went to pick up the papers and then paused, shook her head and again, and just murmured, "I have to go."
She left quickly and without another word, leaving Rei sitting in the shrine.
"I'm so sorry, Rei," Luna said, sitting on Rei's lap while Rei pet her.
"You were right," Rei said, sadly. "She reacted badly."
"You must feel so defeated," Luna said.
"No," Rei said, "No, actually." As she spoke she realized it was true, "It just means I have to get her remember. And the others, too." Luna lept off her lab as Rei stood up and pointed up to the heavens. "In the name of Mars, I will make sure they will remember who they are!"
"What are you going to do?"
"I have no idea."
The next day at the arcade, Rei was relieved to see Ami didn't seem to be angry at Rei at all. Although she must have spoken to Makoto about what Rei said to her the day before, because both girls, while remaining friendly and affectionate toward Rei, also sometimes eyed her warily when they thought she wasn't looking.
After the third time they exchanged glances, Rei blew up. "Okay, I'm sorry I said anything, jeeze! If you two aren't going to remember the truth just go ahead and think I'm crazy, I don't care! I'm through lying!"
Makoto and Ami just starred at Rei, wide-eyed like children caught with their hands in a cookie jar. "I don't know what you are talking about," Makoto offered, looking sheepish.
It was that point Minako danced up to them and put an affectionate arm around Rei, "Don't worry, Rei!" she said, cheerfully. "We love you! We don't care that you are a few nuts short of a squirrel!"
Meanwhile, outside the glass doors of the arcade, Rei saw Usagi and Mamoru in the middle of yet another bickering argument.
Rei rolled her eyes heavenward and willed herself not to scream.