Author's Note: This story idea arose from a throwaway marginal comment in the SuperS manga. Rei is saying that she doesn't like or watch much TV, but Naoko in one of those little marginal doodles says something like "Except for Buffy!". So, it is CANON that Rei watches Buffy, at least in the American translation. I personally believe that little in this story deviates too far from canon (manga canon), but your mileage may vary. In any case, I hope you all enjoy it. ------
"Want to walk home with me, Mina-chan?" Usagi asked as she rose from the table.
The day's study session at Rei's shrine was complete and everyone was gathering up their things. Since the senshi had all graduated high school, they hadn't had as much need for formal study time, but none of them wanted to break the habit of getting together. With Makoto training at the Culinary Institute and Rei focusing on her songwriting and her work at the temple, only Ami, Minako, and Usagi had homework in any case.
Mina darted an inquiring glance over at Rei. The evening's agenda had been Rei's idea, so Minako didn't feel comfortable changing their plans on her own. No one else but the senshi of love might have noticed the slight frown of disappointment on Rei's face as she shrugged her shoulders in mute acceptance.
"Umm, actually Usagi-chan, I'm not leaving just yet." Minako admitted. Ami and Makoto, who had quite efficiently gathered their things, paused in the doorway. Usagi cocked her head, waiting with a patient but curious expression for further explanation. "Rei and I were going to hang out a little bit..."
Usagi nodded and moved to join Ami and Makoto at the exit. Looking at the clock, she suddenly wailed, "Oh no! I'd better hurry; I have a date with Mamo-chan tonight!" As the others rolled their eyes, Usagi dashed out of the temple, arms flailing in her rush to get home.
After another glance to Rei and another silent reply, Minako informed Ami and Makoto that they were welcome to stay if they wanted. Makoto frowned suddenly and her eyes darted to meet Ami's. "That is very kind of you, Mina-chan," Ami replied, "but I promised Mako-chan I would help her with her PC tonight." Makoto nodded vigorously.
"We understand," Rei said with a kind smile, "you two have fun." The look she gave Ami and Makoto brought blushes to each of them. After quick hugs for Minako and their hostess, Mako and Ami departed as well.
After they had gone, Mina and Rei exchanged meaningful glances. "Do you still doubt me?" Rei challenged.
"I guess not," Minako laughed. "Ami must be slipping. She used that computer story two months ago."
Rei snickered evilly, "Well, as long as they insist on keeping their secret, I get to have fun with them."
"As if you'd stop teasing them if they 'fessed up," Minako pointed out. Ignoring the stuck-out tongue that was Rei's reply, Mina got to work straightening up the room.
"I still can't believe you've never seen 'Buffy'," Rei exclaimed as she dug around in the closet. "I don't watch much television, but it's well worth it!"
Minako rolled her eyes. "I told you, it conflicts with Cowboy Bebop!"
"I've read the manga," Rei admitted, "and I don't see what the big fuss is. Seems pretty generic to me, like a space western or something."
"The whole show is the music!" Minako explained. "You don't get that with the manga. Anyway, you promised to watch it if I watched Buffy with you." Mina glanced over at Rei, bent over as she rummaged through a storage box. Silently, she wondered if she looked half as good from behind as Rei did.
"I know I promised. We'll do it this weekend." Frankly, Rei hadn't struggled too hard to get out of watching the show. Though she had no real interest, other than basic curiosity, spending some quality one-on-one time with Minako was certainly not an onerous chore. "Is Ed as annoying in the show as she is in the manga?"
"Ed is cute!" Minako insisted. "She's kind of like Ami and Chibi-Usa all mixed up together!" Mina considered her words as she saw the look of horror and revulsion on Rei's face. "Ok, bad analogy. Did you find the tape, yet? It's probably underneath all your hentai tentacle tapes!"
Rei shot up and glared at Minako until the latter began laughing fondly. "Oh Rei-chan, you know I'm teasing. Even if you had such things, you'd never keep them away from Usagi and never get them back!"
"Don't push your luck, baka, or I'll pull out some manga that will make your hair stand up," Rei lifted an eyebrow provocatively, "among other things." When Mina blushed, Rei grinned triumphantly. "Anyway, I've found it," she announced, brandishing a videotape. "Make yourself comfortable."
Minako sat in the middle of the sofa across from the tv, leaving Rei little choice but to sit right next to her on either side. Instead, Rei chose to sit on the floor in front of her between Mina's legs. Pointing the remote at the wall unit, Rei said, "Since I get the floor, you can make yourself useful for once." She handed Minako a comb and shifted herself so that Mina had unfettered access to her long, black hair.
After some rewinding, Rei located the beginning of the episode she had picked. She had put a lot of thought into her choice, since she had a number of things to consider. First, she wanted to pick an episode that would showcase 'Buffy' in all of its supernatural angsty/comedic glory. She knew that the lengthy back story could be confusing to a new viewer, so she wanted a show that stood on its own, without requiring lots of prior knowledge. However, she also wanted to capture the realistic interpersonal relationships of the characters. Fortunately, the episode she'd chosen fit all of those criteria as well as the most important one of all.
As they watched initially, Minako tried to pick up who was who, even as she methodically combed Rei's hair. "Who's that again?" she asked as a new character appeared. "Why are they all freaked out?"
"That's Oz," Rei explained patiently. "He used to date Willow, the redhead, but then he had to leave because he's a werewolf. He's been gone for a long time with no word to anyone."
A bit later, "So, the army guys are good guys or bad guys?"
"Most of them are bad guys, but the cute blonde that is dating Buffy is a good guy."
And so it went. Mina's combing slowed down and eventually stopped entirely as she got caught up in the show. Rei forced herself to resist the urge to turn around to see Mina's expressions at various points. Somewhat surprisingly, Mina never asked what, to Rei, were the obvious questions: "Are those two an item?"; "Does she know that Tara is hot for her?"; etc. Rei didn't know if this was a good or bad sign.
Rei had known for a long time that she didn't have much interest in boys. Sure, she'd dated Mamoru briefly, but more to annoy Usagi than out of any serious attraction. He also had a car and a nice apartment, so it had been fun. There had been no real attraction beyond those things. Rei just didn't worry about such things.
When they had met Haruka and Michiru, though, Rei began to experience new feelings. It was as if a light had gone on in her mind and illuminated some things that she'd always known were there, but had never considered. Suddenly, she began to look at the girls in her school and all of her friends a little differently.
Once she had begun to explore her feelings, she began to find confirmation everywhere. She read her manga in a new light, no longer reading passively, but actively trying to find hidden meanings, hints of relationships that couldn't be discussed openly but which made sense. When the new season of 'Buffy' had begun to air, with its new characters and subplots, she'd been happily shocked to see a story that spoke directly to her with little of the innuendo or double-meanings that she usually had to interpret.
All of this had helped her come to terms with herself. True, these were fictional characters, but watching them interact in such a natural and realistic way further supported the lessons she'd learned watching Haruka and Michiru. I did not matter who you loved, as long as your love was true.
Then came that faithful day when Minako had decided to accompany her to her school. Oh yes, she had caused all sorts of trouble that day. Somehow, the combination of the two had ensured the appearance of strange magics and odd occurrences. While under the influence of the various forces at play, however, some truths had come to light. At least, Rei hoped that she was remembering things correctly. All she could clearly recall was the feel of soft lips on warm skin. She shuddered at the memory, disrupting Mina's concentration on the show.
"Are you ok, Rei-chan?" Mina asked, surprised to realize that neither of them had spoken for some time.
"Shh, this is the best part," Rei warned.
As Willow knocked on Tara's door, holding her 'extra flamey' candle, Rei caught her breath. She had watched this scene at least fifty times and every time it brought tears to her eyes. She resisted the urge to cuddle against Mina's leg, not wanting to jinx herself. She mouthed the words along with the characters on the screen:
-'You have to be with the person you love." -'I am.' -'You mean...' -'I mean. Ok?' -'Oh yes.'
Rei stifled a sob and laid her head against Minako's knee.
-'I feel horrible about everything I put you through. I'm gonna make it up, too. Starting right now.' -'Right now?'
As the show faded to black and the credits appeared, Rei pushed the stop button, her cheek still resting against Mina's bare leg. With a deep breath, she composed herself and shifted away from the couch so she could turn around. "So, what did you think?" she asked in her most business-like manner.
Minako's eyes were moist and she wore a wry smile. For a moment or two, she simply stared at Rei. 'She's so cute when she gets emotional,' she thought as she watched Rei surreptitiously wipe a tear from her cheek.
"It was wonderful, Rei-chan," she said at last. "I can see why you enjoy it so much."
Now back under control, Rei stood. "It's very well-written and realistic. The way they all interact reminds me of, well, us." She laughed and Mina giggled in agreement.
Mina remained in her seat, gazing up at Rei warmly, bringing a heated flush to the latter's cheeks. "Rei-chan, did you pick that particular episode for any specific reason?"
"Well," Rei stammered, "it's just a really good one, easy for a newbie to understand." She lifted her eyes to meet Minako's. Was that a flash of disappointment she'd seen on her friend's face?
"I like how they handled the relationship between the two witches," Mina offered. Her emotions swirled inside her. So many hopes and dreams seemed on the verge of coming true, but could she really believe that? Could she take that chance?
"Tara and Willow," Rei clarified. "Yeah, it was very believable. In all the episodes leading up to that one, it's totally clear that Tara is in love with Willow, but it takes Willow forever to figure it out."
Mina scooted over to one side, begging Rei with a glance to join her on the couch. "Why couldn't she see it if it was so obvious?" she asked, her heart in her throat.
"Sometimes people don't want to see, I guess," Rei whispered, her own heart beating rapidly as she sat down next to Mina. She could feel the sweat forming on her brow. "Sometimes they're afraid to see what might not be there."
"Love can be a frightening thing," Minako replied. She could feel her resolve crystallizing inside. "I think, if you love someone, you should find a way to let them know, even when it is too hard to say it out loud."
Rei slowly looked up into Minako's eyes. She willed every ounce of what she'd been feeling for all of those long months into her gaze, hoping that Minako would see what she could not bring herself to say.
A sense of profound joy arose as Mina found what she'd been looking for. Her tense expression softened as she smiled fondly. "I mean," she went on, "there are all sorts of ways to tell someone you love them." She inched closer to Rei on the sofa. "You could send flowers. You could leave anonymous love letters." Still sliding over, she stopped when her knees bumped into Rei's. She reached out and took her friend's hands in her own. "Or, you could show them something very special to you and hope that they got the message."
Still afraid to speak, lest she break this spell that held her in its grasp, Rei simply nodded. With a squeeze of her hand, she found the courage she needed in Mina's welcoming eyes. "You have to be with the person you love," she quoted.
"I am," Mina replied as she leaned forward. [FADE TO BLACK]
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