Chapter Two

I take it back, Rei thought to herself exasperatedly. Not thirty minutes into the lunch and already she's being so irritating. The miko folded her hands politely on the surface of the prim and polished table and started tapping her foot impatiently.

"Ahem," she cleared her throat. Minako paid no attention and continued gawking around at the expensive interior of the high-class cafe. "Minako," she hissed.

"Rei." The blonde turned around and stared at Rei with wide eyes. "This place... is absolutely gorgeous! Oh-em-gee. Everything is so..." She waved her hand excitedly. "So refined! No wonder you come here a lot - you fit right in, like prunes in a pod!"

Prunes in a - ah, forget it. Rei shook her head. "And you're standing out enormously. Didn't you come here to eat?"

"Ho ho ho," Minako giggled. "Silly Rei, we're not here because of the food, we're here because you're treating me out!" She winked, and Rei started to turn slightly red. As Rei looked at her in visible embarrassment, Minako mentally cheered. Yes! Score one for the Goddess of Love!

"I don't know what you're talking about," Rei quickly replied in a purposely level tone. "I, personally, think that the food here is quite delectable, and the drinks even more so. The usual for me, please," she finished primly, and Minako was quite confused... until she realised that Rei wasn't talking to her. She turned around in her comfy, high backed seat and was met with a raised eyebrow and an unamused face.

"Ahahaha..." Minako laughed sheepishly as she fumbled with the menu. Much to her consternation, much of the things listed were in English instead of Japanese (ugh, her worst subject! Didn't they live in Tokyo, not London or whatever?!). "I, uh, I'm sure that this place has great food! Um, so yeah, I'll just have whatever Rei's having."

The waiter nodded while gathering their menus, gave one last look at both of the girls at the table, and went away, presumably to get them their drinks. Before Minako turned back around, she caught a couple of the other customers in the cafe staring at her and flashed them a sheepish grin and a peace sign. "Whoops."

"Whoops, indeed."

"But Rei, you know I didn't mean to insult them or whatever!" Minako said pleadingly. "I think this place is totally awesome and incredibly chic and kindaabittouchy. It's a lot like you, huh?"

"Touchy?" Rei deadpanned.

"Well, yeah," Minako elaborated. "They're, like, high-class, you're high-class. They're easily offended, you're easily offended. Sometime they act like they have a stick up thei-"

"Okay, okay, I get the idea, Minako," Rei shushed her quickly. "Do I have to cover your mouth for you again?"

"Do I have to lick your hand again?"

Rei's nose wrinkled. Minako winked. "But hey," she chirped, "don't get me wrong. Like I said, this place is totally cool and fashionable and everything, so you are too. Oh yeah, I totally like your clothes today, it's really cute on you!"

"Thanks," Rei smiled grudgingly. She had, much to her chagrin, puzzled over what to wear this morning, and after some debate, oscillating between a white, silk blouse and a short-but-classy dress, the miko went with the tailored shirt and tossed a dark red, almost maroon cardigan over it to complete the ensemble.

"Mhmm, and I see you're wearing the pants that I picked out for you on our last shopping trip! Yay!" Minako cheered (a bit quieter than usual, keeping in mind their surroundings for once) after she ducked her head under the table to take a peek. Rei crossed her black, ankle-pants-clad legs.

"I'm so glad you approve," Rei said dryly. "Whatever would I do if I failed to meet your expectations."

"I'd sic the fashion police on you Rei, you don't deserve any less." Minako stuck her tongue out at Rei, and Rei had to squash the urge to do the same. She wasn't Usagi - she actually had self-control, for one. And good grades, too. Rei finally noticed Minako giving her an odd look. It was... expectant, for some reason.


"Reiiii. Aren't you forgetting something?"

"Forgetting what? How mature you are when you make that face? If so, yes."

"Ahhh, what a meanie." Minako clutched at her heart dramatically. "I meant that you forgot to compliment me on my outfit!"

"I'm... supposed to do that?" Rei said, actually a bit confused.

"Yeah, of course!" Minako held out a finger to lecture. "Exchanging opinions and gushing over a girl friend's outfit is like something that teenage girls do everywhere! Adults too! Or tend to do, really. I think. I hope? Well anyways, it also counts if you do it inside your head, but hearing it said out loud is really nice, you know, girls like to be complimented."

"Ah." Rei didn't really know that. She didn't tend to "hang out" with many people outside of shrine work, let alone girls her age. The miko tried to cover up her inexpertise by asking pointedly: "So what happens if I don't like your outfit?"

"Then you tell them, of course! Duh. You can't have your friends going out in travesties, that's like, totally a betrayal of trust and cameraderie and - hey, wait, are you saying I don't look good?!" Minako said in a shocked tone. "And I spent so much time putting this together for you today..."

"Wait, uh, no," Rei backtracked at Minako's downcast face. She still didn't know the blonde well enough to tell whether she was acting or not, but it's best to assume the worst and try to make up, right? "I think that your outfit is very... cute."

"Sure it is. You're lying!"

"Why would I lie?"

"To make me feel better."

"I'm not lying." And she wasn't, really, though the miko was trying to make her friend feel better. When Rei met Minako at the bus stop earlier, she had been amazed at how Minako looked like something out of those fashion magazines that she'd seen in some of her classmates' book bags.

Poppy and trendy: those two words could easily describe the slightly baggy, retro-patterned, black-and-white sweater that Minako sported, contrasting nicely with a pair of eye-poppingly pink (though not at all neon) shorts. Somehow, the miko mused, Minako didn't seem too out of place at Casablanca - probably because of the sweater. And because while those shorts certainly showed off the blonde's legs, nicely toned from many a volleyball practice, they weren't Daisy Dukes material. "I do like how your nails are painted to match what you're wearing."

"Ooh!" Minako squealed happily, her spirits easily lifted. Rei released a mental sigh of relief. "You did notice! Of course, I expect no less from the mysterious and ultra-smart Hino Rei," she said, nodding her head as she waved her hand, pink fingernails flashing here and there. "See, boys kinda never notice these small things that we girls do in order to complete our outfit - it's small, yeah, but the small things are what counts." The blonde sighed. "These are what girl friends are for, doncha think? Oh, yay, our food's here!" She clapped her hands as the plates were set down in front of them.

"I suppose so," Rei replied a little late as she murmured her thanks to the waiter, smiling somewhat fondly while Minako enthusiastically thanked and apologized to him. As the miko set about cutting her food into smaller, delicate portions, Minako took a huge bite. Oh well. At least she was still classier than Usagi.

Minako slowed down her vigorous chewing, clearly savoring the taste before finally swallowing. Rubbing her chin, the blonde finally laid down her verdict: "Dainty."

Rei chuckled. "It's an expensive European-styled cafe, what did you expect?"

"... Bigger portions?"

"If you want to keep that shape of yours, maybe you should lay off the bigger portions."

"Meh! You know that I get enough exercise to burn off both my fat and Usagi's - Ami's too, probably. Especially when we have to go all the way up your stairs just for a study session." Minako stuck her tongue out slightly. "Volleyball season's ending, though, so maybe I should stop ordering soda and stuff all the time when we go out..." She leveled another portion into her mouth.

"I thought your favorite drink was green tea."

"... Uh, yeah, I totally love green tea to death! But like, you just don't order that while eating out, you know?" Minako swallowed and gulped from her cup of mocha cappucino.

Rei shook her head endearingly. "Whatever you say. Anyways, I didn't know that your season was so quick - I didn't get to go to any of your games."

"Oh yeah! Everybody's come to see me, you know, except you," Minako frowned slightly. "We have a couple more games to wrap up, I think, so you can just come to all of those to make up for lost time! It'll be totally awesome and you can paint your face in my team colors and maybe bring those poofy cheerleader thingies and roll up your sleeves in awkward roll-bun-things and everything!"

"You wish." Rei snorted before realizing that wasn't exactly prim and proper. The other girls have been rubbing off too much on her, she absentmindedly noted, not for the first time.

"Hehe, kinda, yeah." Minako smiled bashfully before turning her gaze down to the rest of her food. She made quick work of it and wiped her pink lips carefully with the cloth napkin. "But I'd really like it if you came and saw me - saw us play."

Rei thought about her schedule in the next few weeks. Maybe if she could rearrange her after-school duties for some of the days with her classmates, she could make at least one... "I'll think about it," the miko promised.

Minako beamed. Rei was struck by its sincerity and immediately busied herself by pulling out her wallet and making a show out of paying the tab. So happy, and Rei hadn't even given her a concrete yes. How could something so intangible make the blonde so... happy?

Well, it's because you guys are friends, isn't it, she thought, setting some bills on the table and moving it discreetly so Minako couldn't see the cost. Wouldn't you be happy, too, if your friends took time off from their schedule to come and see you do stuff? Although that would probably work better if the rest of the Inner Senshi were more busy.

Well, Ami's pretty busy, Rei pondered, yet she was just fine seeing her the few times that she did. She felt a bit guilty - although Ami contributed to the group by being one of their subtle supports and provided much needed seriousness and reason to the miko's new life, for some reason Rei couldn't say that she thought about her as much as she thought about, well, Minako.

Minako. Why was she so insistent on plopping herself right into Rei's life (and sometimes even in Rei's literal lap, if the blonde was feeling particularly fiesty that day)? Even though she got pretty annoying sometimes, and made things a bit difficult to get through, Rei had to admit that she did have fun in the end, even if her hard-earned reputation as a cool and mysterious ice queen took a couple of well-aimed blows. That one kouhai of hers would never see her the same way ever again...

Shaking her head, she stood up with the blonde and exited the classy cafe, the both of them blinking slightly at the sudden change in lighting. They got out into the sidewalk and started moving along with the rest of Tokyo's population, no particular place in mind.

Rei checked her metallic red cell phone. The miko had protested against getting one - they're such a waste of time and money, and besides, she already had the Communicator, right? - but both of the blondes in the Inner Senshi had whisked her off to yet another shopping trip. With Makoto's keen eye for deals, Ami's profound knowledge on the massive choices available, and Minako and Usagi's sense of "style and everything cute", Rei had ended up with a brand-new cell phone. Although, the miko had mused, a new electronic device wasn't the only thing she had gained from that particular outing.

She had set the background to the five of them, their antics captured clearly in that one picture taken after a most triumphant purchase. Minako and Usagi were all out peace-signing with wide grins, with the volleyball player hooking on of her arms with Rei's as her other arm tried to hold a startled Artemis in the crook of her elbow. However, Rei was standing somewhat behind her, so it was incredibly awkward and uncomfortable - she had tipped forward just as the picture was taken. One of her shoulders was gripped by Makoto, who had tried to help her get back her balance again, the incarnation of Jupiter's mouth open in an incredibly funny expression, and Ami was next to the tall brunette holding Luna in her arms, smiling gently, clearly amused by everybody else.

The miko regarded the picture fondly before turning to the blonde beside her. "Minako, it's a little after one."

"Oh, really?" Minako shielded the screen of her own phone with her palm. "Wow, you're right! I thought we were in there a lot shorter than we actually were."

"Mm." Rei was struuck by a sudden thought. "Do you have any other plans today?" she blurted. Wait, what?

"Nope, I'm pretty much free - although I was planning to hit the arcade for a bit..." Minako said. Her eyes started glinting. "Why, did you have anything else in mind?"

"Well, no," Rei said slowly. "But... It's still in the middle of the day, and I don't think we should waste the opportunity."

"What, really?" Minako looked kind of surprised. "I thought you were pretty busy and stuff - I mean, I already made you take me out today... Even though it was nice, I was thinking that I was kinda bothering you... " she trailed off, glancing to the side. They were both at a stoplight, waiting with various men and women for the signal to go forward. "'Cuz sometimes I do that, you know. Pushing people into things I want. And I get that you find that annoying, but I was hoping that you and I could, like, spend more time together."

Was the headstrong blonde actually being more considerate? That wasn't very fair, Rei berated herself. Give Minako some credit. She's admitting to her flaws so blatantly. For once, maybe you should do the same. "Well," she admitted, "I'm not an easy person to get along with. I'm perfectly fine not spending time with people, or hanging out like this. But I can understand that that gets a little frustrating, too, because you and I are both so... stubborn." Rei hesitated before touching Minako's shoulder. The blonde looked back at her with wide eyes.

She looked stunning, with her blonde hair falling, framing her face. And that was enough to push Rei to say, "But I honestly liked today... even if I had to pay." Minako started to smile - albeit somewhat shakily - at that, and Rei soldiered on. "And frankly, I would like today even more if... we spent more time together. I... like it when we get together. So... Where do else you want to go? My treat."

Minako's eyes widened even more before narrowing. "Anywhere?"


"Even if I want to go on a shopping binge?"

"... Anywhere."

"Oh." And for once, Minako was struck speechless. The people around them began to move into the intersection, and Rei moved her hand down to tug at the blonde's.

"We should get going, then, if we're going to Shibuya."

Minako then launched herself at Rei, hugging her fiercely. She was normally taller than Rei, even more so with the wedges that she was wearing, but the heels that Rei had on brought them to about equal height. As Minako clung onto her neck, head resting on the miko's shoulder, Rei wondered where the hell her hands were supposed to go, and finally settled on somewhere around Minako's waist. It was a bit awkward, and Rei still didn't like much physical contact.

But it was nice, Rei decided as Minako started to pull back. Yes, very nice. She could get used to this, with enough time and patience.

Minako tugged at her arm and started to run across the street, pulling the stoic miko behind her to catch up with the rest of the lagging pedestrians. "Come on then, slowpoke! Aino Minako will definitely show you how to shop until you drop! ... But only on sales, of course, I won't kill your wallet that much." She turned and winked at Rei, their hands still connected.

Rei smiled, and even though she was in heels, started to run forward just as enthusiastically as Minako.

AN: sorry ami i love you and i ship you with rei but only in pgsm, and that's if i want something other than rei/minako :\

ahhhhhhh more interactive fluff thingies. i much prefer gentle subtext, so i wonder how i'm going to branch out here and make it romance instead of romantic two girl friendship... well, i'm not done yet, i think. any criticisms and more pointing-outs of ooc would be greatly appreciated. also i edited the last chapter. thanks for reading