From the land between Wake and Dream. (sea_thoughts) wrote,
From the land between Wake and Dream.

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White Horse (Day Six: Kaidou)

For sm_monthly

Title: Too Late For You and Your White Horse
Author: Starsea
Theme: Kaidou
Genre: Angst/Drama
Version: Manga (post Stars)
Rating: PG

(with thanks to alizep for beta'ing and general feedback)

Baby, I was naïve,
Got lost in your eyes
I never really had a chance.
My mistake...

He should have done this before, he knew that. He should have done something as soon as he heard that she was missing from school, it wasn't like her. But her grandfather had met him and told him that Rei was sick, he couldn't see her, she needed rest. Oh, the pointed meaning of that sentence. Even now, Kaidou felt it digging into him, the suggestion that he would bring Rei anything but rest.

For a moment, the old sucking fear returned and glued his feet to the ground. Had she told him? Had she told anyone what had happened between them? He knew that if she ever did, he would be the bad guy. Her father might not care about her as a person, but he would care very much if he thought she'd been compromised in any way.

Just a kiss! he told himself, and his feet moved again, up the steps. It had been years, he'd forgotten how long the climb was. In his memory, the flight down seemed very short, hazy with shock and with fear about what had just happened. Gone too far. Ruined everything.

He reached the top and stood for a moment before the tori gate, letting the slight breeze cool his forehead, taking in the once familiar front yard. To his left, the tree fluttered with paper wishes, just as it had always done. To his right, the small store where they sold charms, empty at the moment. Kaidou felt a small glow of relief that nothing here had changed.

And then a man came into view, carrying a ladder and a pole.

Kaidou tensed, wondering who he was. Rei's grandfather hadn't said anything about extra help. Unless their expenses had somehow miraculously improved in the past five years, they certainly couldn't afford to pay a handyman, even if the priest was getting a bit too old to climb up and down ladders.

“Please tell Hino-san that Kaidou-san is here," he called out. "I need to speak to her."

"Well, that's too bad, cause she's not back from school yet," said the man, leaning the ladder against the eastern wall and placing his foot upon the first rung.

Kaidou frowned. "Well, do you know when she'll be back?" he asked.

"How should I know? I'm not her brother." The stranger continued climbing up the ladder. He started using the pole to push out the leaves which had already begun to clutter up the gutters on the roof. There was something about him, either his cool attitude or his complete lack of respect that irritated Kaidou as badly as a mosquito bite.

“She’s a young girl, she needs someone to look out for her,” he said sharply.

The stranger turned and looked at him. He had blue eyes, the colour of a winter sky, and they pierced Kaidou as clean and swift as a laser. “She’s nineteen, she’s not a baby,” he said. “And I don’t recall you turning up to look out for her before, Kaidou-san.”

There was a moment of silence. Kaidou was suddenly aware of how alone they were: there was nobody else around, he didn’t even see the two crows that used to hang around Rei all the time. It was just him and this man. “How do you know my name?” he said quietly.

“You’re Senator Hino’s first secretary, his anointed successor. It’s not like you’re a newcomer, Kaidou-san.” The man smiled, but it was not reassuring. He turned and began to clear out the leaves again. Kaidou swallowed, fighting his nerves. This man was nothing more than hired help, he couldn’t be paid very much, why was he letting himself be intimidated like this?

“You know, I really don’t think,” he began, but was interrupted by a soft, unmistakeable voice.


He turned with a powerful sense of relief and smiled, but then he stopped. His heart tripped over for a second. The last time he’d seen Rei, she’d still been in junior high, barely a teenager. Now she was almost a fully grown woman, endless legs and that elegant bearing which had always made her stand out from the crowd. Her hair was down to the middle of her back and it rippled in the wind. Her violet eyes were wide in shock as they stared at him. He felt a small frisson of satisfaction and excitement to know that he could still cause a reaction in her.

“It’s good to see you, Rei-san,” he said, walking forward.

His movement changed her. The satchel which had been hanging limply from her arm was pulled up to her shoulder, the left hand clamping it to her hip. Her eyes darkened and cooled, stopping him in his tracks. “Why are you here?” she asked.

“I heard you had a long absence from school. I wanted to make sure you were okay,” Kaidou said, aware that the other man could hear every word they were saying. He didn’t like that. He wanted this to be a private conversation.

“That was a while ago now. Are you telling me you came all the way just from Nagasaki to ask if I’m all right? Why didn’t you just call my grandfather?” Her voice had changed, too. She was treating him almost as if he were a stranger. It was true, they hadn’t been in contact for a while, but surely he didn’t deserve this?

“I did call your grandfather, but he wouldn’t give me any details, he just said that you were ill,” Kaidou answered, frowning. “I’m afraid that I was prevented from coming down sooner by the election campaign, but I’m here now.”

“Yes,” she said, looking beyond him, upwards, “you’re here now.”

Kaidou turned to see what she was looking at. It was the stranger, staring at them in the most insolent manner, his mouth curled in contempt, completely unimpressed. Kaidou’s irritation flared into anger. “Don’t you have something else to do?”

“No,” the man retorted, his eyes growing cooler. “I don’t.”

“Rei-san.” Kaidou turned back to her, bending down slightly. “Can we talk somewhere else? Somewhere more private perhaps? There are things we need to discuss... not least the people you hire to help you with the shrine.”

“I don’t think the shrine is any of your business, Kaidou-san,” Rei said, stepping back. Then she paused and looked up for a moment. Something seemed to change in her face and her expression became slightly warmer as she spoke again. “But if you have things you wish to discuss, we can discuss them over dinner.”

“Of course, I’ll make reservations at the Rain Tree restaurant-”

“No.” Her interruption startled him, as did the look on her face.

“No?” he questioned.

“That place... it’s not a good place,” she said, her tone final. “I want to eat down by the harbour. You don’t mind me choosing the restaurant?” Her eyes challenged him to refuse.

“I... no, of course not,” he said, realising that he had no choice. “Whatever you wish.”

“Good. I’ll be ready at seven.” She walked past him and he realised, with an unpleasant mixture of disbelief and anger, that he was dismissed. He began to walk away quickly, not wanting to see the look that would be on the other man’s face. What had happened to her during the years he’d been away? She was closed off now, distant. Surely she couldn’t have thought...? He’d made it clear the kiss was a mistake. Never to be repeated.

No, it was the stranger’s fault. There was something wrong with him, that was obvious. Too bold, too sure of himself. He must have corrupted her somehow. Kaidou felt his rage grow and he welcomed the feeling. He would make sure the man regretted his behaviour. He would make sure that Rei was protected from such a person. It was what any big brother would do for his sister.

I’m not the one you sweep off her feet,
Lead her up the stairwell,
This ain’t Hollywood...

Dusk was falling as he walked up the steps for the second time that day, his thighs protesting at the unaccustomed exercise. She emerged from the shrine at seven o’clock, punctual as ever. Kaidou was less than pleased to see the man appear behind her, as if he were living there. What was the relationship between them? Had Hino-sama hired a bodyguard and failed to mention it? No, he would have said something if he thought Rei was in danger. To make matters worse, the stranger was now walking beside Rei, and bending down to whisper something in her ear.

Kaidou stiffened, resisting the urge to grab the stranger’s arm or shove him away. Get away from her. As if he’d heard, the other man straightened up, meeting his gaze. In the fading light, it was hard to read his expression. Kaidou felt the afternoon’s unease begin to gnaw at the pit of his stomach again and quickly turned to Rei. “You look lovely,” he said, noting that her hair was swept up. It made her look older, more like twenty-one than nineteen.

“Thank you,” she said, but more as if it were an obligation. Of course, she would be used to compliments, he told himself. She held out a piece of paper and he took it, realising that it was a map from the shrine to where they would be eating. Printed out.

“I didn’t know you had a computer now,” he said, looking at her in surprise and approval.

“I don’t,” she answered, and glanced at the other man. Oh, Kaidou thought, so that’s how it is? He put his hands in his pockets so they wouldn’t notice the fingers curling into fists. “Well, we should be going,” he said, stepping forward and putting a hand on Rei’s arm. “Please, don’t let us keep you,” he added, making sure that he sounded generous, every inch the affable older man.

The man had the gall to look amused. “I’d never let you keep me,” he said, and turned to Rei as if Kaidou wasn’t even there. “You have my number, Rei-san.”

Kaidou’s mind went blank for a moment. She had this man’s telephone number? Then he checked himself. Of course she had his telephone number, he was the handyman, wasn’t he? But Rei was taking his arm and that meant they could go. Let the man give Rei his number, he wasn’t taking her to dinner. Kaidou allowed himself a small smile of triumph as they walked down the steps. His car was parked just around the corner. He opened the door for her and she slipped into the passenger seat. This was more like it. This was how he’d envisioned the evening, just the two of them, catching up on old times. And him making sure that she wasn’t... He glanced sideways at her. He couldn’t finish the thought. The curve of her throat, the way the light slanted over her cheekbones. There had never been anything wrong with her. And yet there was something different, something about the way she held herself, the way she looked. When she gave her coat to the maitre d’, Kaidou saw what she was wearing for the first time: a long red dress that almost swept the floor and showed off the white skin of her shoulders.

“I’ve never seen you wearing red before,” he said thoughtfully as they were seated. “It suits you.”

“I grew out of white dresses a long time ago,” she said, her voice light. If it had been any other woman, he would have said she was flirting, but Rei didn’t flirt. “Now, you said you wanted to speak with me in private and here we are.”

Kaidou nodded, but he didn’t repeat his question of the afternoon again. He knew that he would have to approach the matter in a different way, being a politician had taught him a thing or two. “The shrine looks good,” he said, ordering a glass of wine for himself and a carafe of water for them both. “You must have been making good money with the good luck charms and the donations.”

“Not especially,” she replied. “My friends help and we had a good fundraiser last year...” She watched him over the rim of her glass, waiting.

“So that man who was working there...” He let the sentence trail off.

“Oh, he doesn’t work for money,” Rei said dismissively.

“He doesn’t?” Kaidou said, knowing that his surprise sounded crass and cursing himself.

“No.” Her violet eyes were cool. “He doesn’t.” She picked up the menu and began to flick through the pages. Kaidou felt irritated again, he couldn’t say why. Maybe it was because the Rei he remembered had been happy to let him order for her and looked him in the eye, or maybe it was the way she’d spoken of the man, not as if they couldn’t afford him but as if he were above payment. Kaidou knew he should leave the matter alone, that this was not important, but the memory of the man’s eyes weighing him, measuring him, and finding him wanting was strong enough to make him ask another question.

“Then why does he work for you?”

“Why is he so important?” she countered, looking up.

“I don’t like to think of a man like that working alongside you.” There, he’d said it. Instead of being shocked or touched, Rei put the menu down and raised her eyebrows.

“A man ‘like that’,” she repeated. “I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific, Kaidou-san.”

“You can’t be enigmatic with me,” he said forcefully and saw her take a breath. “He is not right. There is something different about him, something... unsettling. I don’t think he’s safe.”

Rei smiled. She actually smiled. “Safe?” she said.

Even in his worried, impatient state, Kaidou felt something inside him shiver and tremble at that smile and the way it transformed her face. But then he realised she was smiling at something private, something to do with that man, and the feeling shattered and fell away. “He’s not safe,” he repeated.

“No,” Rei agreed, still smiling. “He isn’t ‘safe’.” Her eyes met his. “But maybe I prefer a man who isn’t ‘safe’. Maybe I prefer a man who’d take risks for things he believed in.”

The words struck him as hard as a fist. They hung there in the air, cruel and glittering, with sharp, poisonous edges. She’d brought the kiss into the room, thrown it at him like a weapon. The only weapon he could not deflect. He felt as if their past selves were standing beside the table in that dangerous, half-reciprocated embrace, lips touching. Just like then, she’d broken down his barriers, made him confront his feelings. Kaidou was glad there was a table between them. He didn’t know if he wanted to hit her or kiss her.

The waiter arrived just in time, bowing and asking if they were ready to order. Rei snapped her menu open but ordered without even looking. He already knew what he wanted because, secretly, he wasn’t all that fond of shellfish. They both went back to their respective corners and made small talk but the silence was strained. It was uncomfortably familiar, the kind of atmosphere he’d hoped to escape by coming here. He didn’t remember her being this difficult before, but then there’d never been a man working at the shrine before, and she’d never worn red before, and now he knew there was something between them. It just wasn’t right: she was way too good for that man. He hoped that he could make her see that before she threw her life away...

“How’s your wife?”

He blinked, distracted from the tightening in his gut. “I’m sorry?”

“How’s your wife?” she repeated, twisting linguine around her fork. Her eyes remained fixed on the food.

“She’s...” He sorted through a list of words. “She’s well,” he said. “And the kids...”

“You have children?” Now she was looking at him. “You always said you’d never have children.”

He coughed and cleared his throat. “Miyako wanted...”

“How many?” Her eyes were fixed on his face, burning. “Girls? Boys?”

He hesitated, but he had already given away too much. “A girl and a boy. The boy’s older. They’re on holiday at the moment... with their mother.”

“And you’re here.” She looked so disappointed. “Why are you here, Kaidou-san?”

It was his turn to stare at the food. “Like I told you,” he said, “I was worried about you.”

“More worried about me than your own children?” she demanded.

“They have their mother to look after them. You... don’t.” He looked up briefly and saw the old familiar flicker of pain in her eyes.

“I have ojii-san. I have my friends. I’m not alone like I used to be,” she said quietly. “And you, of all people, should know that children need a father around.”

“I won’t be away long,” he said defensively, taking a gulp of wine. “I wanted to know why you were sick. Did you go to the doctor?”

“No. I was just tired.”

“A virus then?”

“Yes, a virus,” she agreed, swirling the water in her glass. “And I took some time off to recover.”

Kaidou leaned forward. “You were absent for two weeks, Rei-san. And then you reappear, looking as healthy as ever, and with a faked doctor’s note. I checked. The doctor’s signature is illegible. It could have been forged by anyone.” He raised both eyebrows. “Now where were you?”

Rei put her knife and fork together, then wiped her mouth. She looked at him. “Did my father send you?” she asked.

“No, he doesn’t...”

“Then I don’t have to answer you,” she stated.

“Why are you being so secretive, Rei-san? What could you possibly have done that’s so terrible?” He smiled, cajoling. “If you’re afraid of your father finding out...”

“I’m not afraid of him,” she contradicted, and he believed her. Whatever had changed her, it had given her a sense of surety and purpose that he couldn’t help but envy. “But... I do need your help, Kaidou-san.” She looked down and then up at him, her eyes becoming larger, vulnerable. He reached out and put his hand over hers.

“Whatever I can do to help,” he said with a smile, relieved that she was finally letting her guard down.

“I need to see my father.” Rei leaned forward, submissive, pleading. “You’re still his first secretary, you help arrange his calendar. I know that you could find a free space for me.”

Kaidou stared at her. This was why she’d agreed to dinner with him. This was why she’d set the time and place. So she could trap him like this. She just wanted to get to her father. That’s all you ever were, he thought. A father figure. A substitute. Now, you’re not even that, now she has some jumped up worker lurking at the shrine, thinking he can cop a feel.

“I’m sorry, Rei-san,” he said, “but I can’t arrange a meeting with your father unless I can give him some idea of what it’s about.” A thought struck him. “Is it about the weeks you were ‘sick’?”

Rei stared at him and then sighed. “No, Kaidou-san. It isn’t about that. I don’t want to talk about those weeks, ever.”

The last word was like a door slamming shut. With that word, he knew that he could never persuade her to tell him his secrets. She had shut him out. He had only one idea left.

“Is it about that man?” he asked calmly.

“What man?”

“You can’t be serious.” Kaidou felt his lips curling. “Asking your father’s permission to marry trash like that?”

“I don’t recall mentioning marriage,” Rei replied, raising an eyebrow.

“Is he bothering you? You only have to say and-”

“Kaidou-san.” Her lips pressed together, thin with impatience. “If you won’t help me, just take me home.”

He signalled for the bill and paid. They walked out in silence, the gulf between them nearly unbridgeable. Driving back to the shrine, he had no idea how he could reach her now. But he had to see her to the tori gate.

And there you are on your knees
Begging for forgiveness,
Begging for me
Just like I always wanted,
But I'm so sorry...

It was dark when they reached the shrine, but the moon was out, leaving a silver path up the steps for them to follow. The trees moved about, bending and nodding as they walked up the steps, their feet echoing. It was a long time since Kaidou had been in such a quiet space. “I’d forgotten how beautiful it was here,” he murmured.

“You could have come back at any time,” Rei said, not looking at him. They were nearly at the top now. “But it seems you were too busy running to look back over your shoulder.”

He stopped, forcing her to stop as well. “Rei-san, look... I didn’t ‘run away’ from you.”

“And what do you call it?” She turned and looked at him, her eyes dark and sharp. “I barely ever saw you after that. And then the move to Nagasaki... I didn’t even know you had children.” Her voice had grown more and more bitter. “Why don’t you go back to them? They need you. Far more than I do.”

He opened his mouth to protest but she turned away and took the last few steps almost at a run. As he reached the top, he saw they were not alone. Rei’s grandfather, Kondo Hisoka, was sitting there, along with the stranger. Kaidou stopped. He hadn’t counted on this.

“It’s nice to see you again, Kaidou-san,” said Kondo amiably. “Isamu-kun and I just finished a hard game of mah-jong, so we thought we’d come outside to cool down.”

Kaidou bowed. “It’s been a while, Kondo-san.”

“Yes, it has indeed.” Kondo’s eyes rested on Kaidou for a moment and then he looked at his granddaughter with an affectionate smile. “Did you have a nice time, Rei-chan?”

“You should be in bed, ojii-san, not playing games,” Rei said, shooting the younger man a look. He leaned back and smiled at her. It was a teasing smile and it made Kaidou’s skin prickle with anger and foreboding. How dare he smile at her with such familiarity? What had Kondo called him? ‘Isamu’? At least he had a first name now, he could do some research, find something that would separate him from Rei.

Kondo smiled. “Always worrying about her stubborn ojii-san, aren’t you?” He put his hands on his knees and pushed himself up. “I think I will turn in, though. No sense in pushing myself too far. Thank you for the game, Isamu-kun.”

Isamu bowed his head. “It was an honour to play with you, Kondo-san.”

Kondo chuckled and looked at Rei. “Don’t stay up too late,” he said, wagging a finger with mock severity. But when he looked at Kaidou, he didn’t say anything, he just nodded. Kaidou felt even more firmly dismissed. He almost wished that Kondo had been hostile, like Rei. That would have been easier to bear than this polite formality.

When the priest had disappeared inside the shrine, Isamu looked at Rei. “So... did you have a nice time?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Rei shrugged. “It was... informative.”

Isamu nodded and looked at Kaidou with that infuriating smile in the corner of his lips. “And you?” he asked sweetly. “Did you have a nice time?”

“Listen, you prick,” Kaidou said softly, ignoring Rei’s audible gasp, “I don’t know who you are, but I will find out and when I do-”

“Yes?” Isamu stood up and Kaidou saw for the first time how tall he was. Just under two metres, or maybe two metres exactly... but either way, tall. “What will you do, Kaidou-san? Tell me.”

Kaidou drew himself up, aware that even as he did so, he wasn’t going to make himself any taller. “I am going to call Hino-sama-”

“Of course you are,” Isamu said, cutting him off. “You won’t actually do anything yourself. Because you’re famous for not doing anything, aren’t you, Kaidou-san? I should know. I’ve had to live with the damage you dealt by not... doing... anything.” Isamu enunciated the words, so they dropped into the silence like stones into water. He looked at Rei, who had gone very white, her lips almost invisible from the effort to hold back her emotions. “You want to know why he never came back? I’ll tell you. Because he was scared.” The word dripped with contempt, like a slap in the face.

“That’s not true,” Kaidou said, his heart beating rapidly, but he was scared, he was scared now. How did this man know? Rei couldn’t have told him, she would never tell anyone, but... Kondo. The old man. He must have guessed... or seen them. And he’d told this interloper. My God, this scumbag could blackmail him for the rest of his life.

“He was absolutely terrified,” Isamu went on, ignoring him. “I don’t know what happened between you... but it’s obvious something happened, and that ‘something’ could have jeopardised his career, his standing with your father. Kaidou-san couldn’t allow that to happen. Your father had just given him the position of second-in-command, he was setting him up for life. Kaidou-san didn’t have to do anything... which is just how he likes it.” His eyes glittered in the lamplight.

“That’s not true!” Kaidou whispered. He turned to Rei, desperate to salvage something, to take away that tight, pinched look on her face. “I care about you, Rei-san, you know that. I’ve known you since you were a little girl... I know you much better than him.” He glared at Isamu, who had put his hands in his pockets and was looking at him with a cool, calculating air.

“No,” Rei said. Her voice was low, strained but audible. “You knew me once. But I’m not a little girl any more. I haven’t been that little girl for a long time. You took her away.” Her eyes held him, terrible in their condemnation. “Yes, I believe that you cared for me... but not enough. You cared more about your career and what would happen to you than what your actions might do to me. You knew that I cared...” Her voice wavered for a moment but she regained control. “You came back here because you thought I might still care. But you’re too late. The day you left, I swore I’d put the past behind me and never look back. But I think a part of me was still... waiting. Hoping you’d see sense. And now you’re here, on your white horse... thinking I’ll still be in my ivory tower.” She shook her head. “I left that tower a long time ago. And I’m glad.”

“You should be careful who you leave it for,” Kaidou said angrily.

Rei stared at him for a moment and then she laughed. “You think I left it for him?” She glanced at Isamu and then looked back at Kaidou. “That just shows how little you know me now.”

“She’d never do anything for a man,” Isamu said, his voice hard-edged. “Aren’t you proud?”

Kaidou glared at him. “I will phone the police and I will find out who you are, Isamu-kun, and when I do...”

“When you do, I’d love to see the look on your face!” Isamu laughed, his lips pulled back in a predator’s smile.

Kaidou took a step forward. Nothing seemed to intimidate this man, nothing, he wanted to smack that grin off his face.

Rei moved swiftly, placing herself in front of him. “You don’t want to do that,” she said quietly.

“How can you stand here and listen to this?” Kaidou snapped. “He shouldn’t be on this holy ground-”

“Holy?!” The laughter vanished from Isamu’s face. His eyes grew dark. “Be grateful we’re on holy ground, Kaidou-san, or you wouldn’t even be standing right now for what you’ve done.” He walked forward, the shadows closing over his face so that Kaidou could only see his silhouette. “She offered you something more precious than gold and you chose power. So don’t talk to me about purity, about sacred spaces when you have no idea of what’s sacred. If it were up to me-”

“But it’s not.” Rei turned and glared up at him. “It’s up to me. I decide who can and cannot enter, Isamu-san, not you.”

He gazed down at her for a moment; then turned away sharply, acknowledging that she was in charge without taking back what he’d said. Rei turned to Kaidou, her face now calm again.

“I think you should go,” she said.

Kaidou took a couple of steps back, but she did not follow him. He stared at her, pleading. “Rei-san...”

“Go back to Nagasaki, Kaidou-san. Go back to your family.” Her eyes hardened. “If they’re still waiting for you.”

It had all gone wrong. There was nothing left, no plea he could make. He could sense Isamu looking at him and glared in his direction. He was going to make this man pay for what he’d done, for corrupting Rei. For destroying the one pure thing that had been left in his life.

* * *

They watched him disappear down the steps. Rei shuddered and pulled the coat around her.

“You shouldn’t have baited him,” she whispered.

“I resisted for as long as possible,” Isamu replied. “But he just gave me too many opportunities.”

“He can’t help...”

“What? Being weak?” Isamu stared into the distance, his eyes hard and blue in the moonlight. “Any man who rejects what he rejected is a fool. I have no interest in being nice to fools.”

Rei looked at him for a moment, the sharp bones of his face, the strong jaw and the fierce eyes. It was so rare that she could look at him without him knowing. “So you’re saying you would have chosen differently?” she challenged. “You don’t know what happened.”

“No, but I know you,” he said quietly. “I live with the consequences of what he did every day, just as you do.”

Tears suddenly stung her eyes and she turned away. “He won’t help me,” she said, swallowing. “And I can’t say I’m surprised. That... hurts more than the actual refusal. Not being surprised.”

Isamu stepped forward and bent down to whisper in her ear. “Then we’ll just have to go to Plan B.”

She stood very still, breathing in aftershave, wood smoke, leaves and musk. Isamu’s smell. She liked it far too much. “Are you sure?” she asked, holding herself together, instead of turning and burying her face in his shoulder. “I told you, it won’t be easy.”

She didn’t have to turn to know he was smiling. “Sweetheart, if I did ‘easy’, I wouldn’t even be here.” He paused for a moment. “I think you know how much I love a challenge by now.”

Hold on. Hold on “Is that all this is?” she said softly. “A challenge?”

Fingers on her chin, turning her face with the softest of pressures, and she let him, because the evening was warm, because he’d put some balm on old wounds, because she liked his smell. Because of many reasons. She didn’t feel anything for him because that would be a weakness, and she was not weak.

“It’s much more than that,” he said, and her eyes fixed on his lips, and for a crazy moment she wondered what it would be like to kiss him, but it was okay, because she could step back and leave that moment behind. And he let her go.

“Plan B,” she stated with a nod.

He nodded back and bowed. “Good night,” he murmured, then turned and disappeared down the steps.

Rei let him go and turned to go inside. She knew that she would not see Kaidou again. She was glad.

DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Naoko Takeuchi. The song belongs to Taylor White. I own... Isamu's underpants.
Tags: exiles, sailor moon, sm_monthly
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