I've been meaning to do a Valentine's one-shot, but I ended up procrastinating. Better late than incredibly late!
Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.
Just Admit It
It was lunchtime at TA Girls Academy, but the dining hall was completely empty.
The classrooms, hallways, and stairwells proved to be much more popular. Overpopulated with hopeful teenage girls who were not about to waste their precious time on lunch, the air was littered with hushed whispers, giggles, and proclamations of love.
It was also Valentine's Day at TA Girls Academy.
And Hino Rei was hiding.
She crouched (somehow still gracefully), peering out from her spot from behind one of the school courtyard's trees. A wave of relief washed over her when she found no other love-crazed students in the vicinity. Muscles relaxing, she slumped down against the trunk and let her bulging leather briefcase slide out of her grasp. Cookies wrapped in cellophane and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate tumbled out onto the grass.
It had been only three hours into school and twenty minutes into lunch.
She was starting to hate hallways.
It wasn't that Rei didn't like sweets or anything. What bothered her was how willing these girls were to render themselves vulnerable to someone they didn't really know. And that was truly ironic. Long ago, Rei wouldn't have cared about how she made these girls feel. But then things had changed and then she had been changed by her.
Just like the year before, this Valentine's had also proved itself a stark contrast to the ones she had experienced several years ago, during her years in the junior high division. Then, she had been teased and bullied. Now, she was literally being bombarded with things she didn't necessarily want. Rei wasn't sure what had caused the change, but times like these were when she desperately wished for the hostility to return.
Ring! Ring! Ring!
The bell rang then, signifying ten minutes to the end of lunch.
Letting out an irritated sigh, Rei gingerly began to stuff the gifts back into her briefcase. She was in the middle of handling a particularly dense and expensive box of truffles when a familiar voice sounded from behind her.
"What do you have there, Hino-senpai?"
Rei dropped the box with a surprised yelp. Thankfully, none of the contents spilled out as it was still sealed. Rei hadn't bothered to open any of the candy, actually.
She stood up to address the owner of the voice. Turning around to eye the figure that had somehow snuck through her defenses, Rei crossed her arms and let out a huff. There were many things she could have and should have said, but the words she had just heard sent her into an indignant fit. It was a bad habit.
"Senpai? We're the same age! You're older than me!"
"But I didn't enroll in school this year. So technically, you're my senpai and I'm your kouhai. Yoroshiku." She added this last part with a catty grin.
"You don't even go here."
"I could if I wanted to. I think I've earned enough money now to attend this school five times over."
"Then why don't you actually buy a uniform instead of abusing the Teletia S?"
"I'm allowed to do so because I was Sailor V first. Duh." As if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"What are you even doing here?"
"So mean, Reiko! It's been months since I left for tour and we're already back to bickering?" Minako asked, fluttering her eyelids dramatically. She put a hand on her chest, the other still behind her back.
There was a minute silence and for a moment, Minako thought her words were going to send the other girl into another fit of exasperation. However, Rei surprised her when she let out a small yet genuine laugh.
"It's nice to see you, Minako. How was the tour?" She said softly. Although the presence of Minako was exhausting at times, she had still missed the other girl very much. Not that she would admit it.
"It was just fine. But now it's over and I'm glad to be back!"
"I see. How long are you going to be back?"
Minako smiled that secretive smile, the one that had driven Rei crazy in their younger days. It still did, really. Not that she would admit it.
"I can't tell you that."
"So you came all the way here to tell me that you were back but I can't know how long you'll be back?" Rei asked incredulously. She stomped down the urge to dive into the box of whiskey chocolates she had received third period.
"Well, I didn't come here for that," Minako began. It was then that Rei noticed she was fidgeting. It was subtle, but Aino Minako never fidgeted.
Rei clamped her mouth shut and instead waited for Minako to continue, too curious to retort.
Slowly, Minako removed the hand that had been behind her back, holding a small box. She held it before Rei, swallowing hard.
Rei stared. It was most likely another one of Minako's practical jokes, and there was no way in hell she was going to fall for that. Again. She found Minako wanting to humiliate her a more realistic scenario than the one in Rei's head, which she sincerely wanted to believe.
Not that she would admit it.
Seeing Rei's reluctance, Minako turned pink and pulled her hand back.
"Well I mean, it looks like you already have enough for the month.." The idol gave a false smile. Try as she might, Minako found it impossible to not visibly deflate, even if it meant Rei seeing.
But before she could completely retract her hand, Rei caught her wrist. Using her other hand, she took the box from Minako.
The lid wasn't tied down and Rei was able to easily open it with one hand. She braced herself, but nothing jumped into her face and no noises assaulted her ears. Peering inside the box, Rei's breath caught in her throat.
Inside were little homemade chocolates, but they easily could have been mistaken for storebought. There was enough detail for Rei to be able to distinguish each chocolate as a different Nako Nako pose. It was impressive, but Rei was also floored for another reason. When had Minako learned how to do this?
Rei still hadn't replied and that only served to make Minako more nervous. She eyed the toes of her uniform shoes.
"When I was on tour in Italy, I.. may or may not have taken a few cooking classes. Last month. I don't really know if they taste good but—"
Rei popped a chocolate into her mouth and chewed, swallowing quickly. After recovering from the initial shock of Aino Minako actually giving her chocolate, she found the idol's nervousness endearing. Interlacing their fingers, she leaned forward to kiss the other girl on the cheek.
"Thank you," she whispered, smiling brightly.
"I.." When had the tables turned and when had Minako turned into such an incoherent mess? Swallowing, she regained most of her composure, but still felt vulnerable. "I know it probably won't be as good as the other chocolates," she eyed Rei's bag. "But—"
"I don't think I'll ever know," Rei said, grinning.
Ring! Ring! Ring!
"I'm late for class," Rei said, as if it were a simple observation. "Crown?"
Rei's casual yet significant acceptance of her declaration sent Minako's confidence soaring. "How about someplace else this time? My treat."
And as they walked off campus, hand-in-hand, the possibility of being punished for ditching class was far from Rei's mind.
Instead, she was already planning what she was going to give Minako for White Day.
Not that she would admit it.
Yoroshiku is a phrase that can translate to multiple meanings, one of them being, "Please take care of me." It is customarily said when respectfully introducing oneself to another, which is why Minako ironically tacks it on for fun.
This was originally going to go in the PGSM section, but I mixed in elements from the manga so the incarnation is a bit ambiguous. I like to think of it as Manga!Rei and PGSM!Minako.