Reunion Chapter 18
By Janet Monstwillo
Raieyana stared out the bedroom window at the sunset. (It is not a question of fearing death. I have no fear. That is not the problem. The worry is, has always been, what will happen to my loved ones if I die... Aeris and Ishmael, Reeve...) She choked back the tears, but one slipped softly down her cheek and landed on the windowpane. (...Reno.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Reeve stood on his back porch, looking at the sunset. He lit a cigarette. The door opened behind him. Cloud stepped out next to him. "Don't worry, Reeve. This is good for her. She'll be safe...and the baby..."
Reeve's eyes blazed. "Yeah, your baby!"
"I can't change the past. I wish it never happened, she wishes it never happend, and you wish it never happened--but it did, so now it's up to you to be a man and accept it."
"You don't understand, Cloud. Your actions are what're tearing me and Ray apart. I'm no use to her anymore. Hell, I don't do a damn thing for her, right? I kill her--you save her from the Turks...I try to build a life with her--Reno kidnaps her and somehow manages to kindle tender feelings..."
"Don't blame me for that."
"I was going to ask her to marry me."
"It's not like you still couldn't, Reeve."
"She doesn't want me anymore. I'm boring. Maybe it took seven years for her to realize that, but she finally did. Why did she wait so long?"
"I need her so much."
"...wait a minute and try to see..."
"Sometimes I wonder if I can go on..."
"Look!" Cloud startled Reeve out of his self-pity. "You do realize that if she didn't want you, Raieyana would have up and left. She's strong enough for that. You have to see she doesn't even know what she wants. And if you're willing to shove her away from you to quote-unquote 'make sure she doesn't get hurt,' she'll go. Because the only person's feelings that you care enough about to spare are your own. She can make it by herself. Besides, you said yourself she cares for Reno. She'll just go to him..."
"You'd shut up if you knew what was good for you, Cloud..."
"...maybe not because she loves him more, but because you drove her to him."
"I don't want to stand in the way of her happiness. If I coaxed her into staying against her will, we'd both be unhappy. If I let her go if she wanted to, at least one of us would be happy."
"She's unsure right now. She could love both of you. It's possible, that's for certain..." Cloud closed his eyes. "...I know personally what that's like."
"I can't stand staying in a love triangle until she decides."
"Then you're gonna lose her. She's spent so much of her life waiting for you. I don't think it's too much to ask for you to wait a little while. You'll be gambling, I know, but...you can't win anything unless you place a wager. If you walk away, they'll never call your ticket number. You could lose; but if you don't try, you'll never win."
"What if I don't think I can compete?"
Cloud shrugged. "That sounds like a personal problem."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Reno took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. He couldn't help staring at Raieyana as she opened the door; the way the light from the dusk caught her hair, glimmered in her eyes...
"What is it, Reno?"
He shook his head to clear his mind. "I want to talk to you. Can I come in?"
"Oh, of course. Who'd want to have a conversation in the hallway?"
He looked at her and smiled a little. "Reeve said I could go back to Alcor like nothing happened. Same position, same everything. Lavs even put in her two weeks' notice."
He interrupted her. "I don't know if I'm gonna accept."
He glanced around uneasily. "I know Reeve's being generous, but I also know that I don't deserve it. I was a traitor. I put Alcor in danger and I nearly got you locked up by a madman!"
"Reno, everyone makes mistakes. You even told me that."
"I think there's a limit to that, eventually. Besides, how could I stand... I can't work with Reeve if he's with you."
Raieyana grabbed him by the shoulder. "Why do you think..."
"Why shouldn't I think that? There are four bedrooms in this house. Your kids are in one, the Valentines in two. Does Reeve sleep on the couch?"
"It wasn't like it is now before I left. You were gone...I had to make a life with my kids."
"Do you think I'd believe you're willing to give it all up? You chose Reeve. I accept it; so should you."
Raieyana looked out the window. "Do you think I was lying back in Gongaga?"
"You were trying to make me feel better. You were trying to make yourself feel better. If it's just physical attraction between you and me, then stop trying to make it something more."
"Fine then, go. Isn't that what you want me to say?"
"What do you want to say?"
"Ray." Reeve stood emotionless in the doorway.
"Reno says you offerred him his job back," she said lightly. (I don't know how much he heard. It started as arguing over that, and the last few pieces sounded like a continuation of it, so...)
Reeve relaxed a little. "Oh." He glanced at Reno, and fingered the box in his pocket. ("Make sure you two are alone--so no one else's presence would sway her decision either way."
"If she loves me, she would say yes in front of everyone else in the world." And now I will see.) "Ray, I have something to ask you."
"What is it, Reeve?"
Reno watched him intently. He was hit with a sudden realization. (He can't...he's not...he wouldn't...not now...)
Reeve took Raieyana's hand and slowly got down on one knee. "I had a lot of nifty things to say, but they all mean the same thing... Ray, I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Those seven years were hell. Marry me."
She looked into his eyes. (Earnest.) "What?" she whispered. "What?" Raieyana suddenly felt sick. She shook her head and ran out of the room. She locked herself in the bathroom.
"Damn it. Damn it all to hell!" Reeve threw the box with the engagement ring against the wall. He glanced at Reno. "Guess you won, huh? How did you do it? What did you do that meant so much? Were you there for her when she had bad dreams? Were you there for her when the crater collapsed along with her dreams and her precious memories? When you were without her did you feel a raw ache slowly spread down your throat and into your chest and then linger? Maybe it was something I didn't do... Let's see...I didn't force her to come here with me. I didn't kidnap her for money. I didn't make rude comments the first time we met, but hey, isn't that what all women look for in a man?" He looked directly at Reno. "Even though you've got my one and only treasure, my hope, and all my dreams, I'd rather be me than you. Because you have to answer for it."
"I don't deserve it."
"Then why do you have it? I guess it's because my life has to be sheer pain from one moment to the next. How come the people I think are my best friends always end up destroying my little bit of happiness?" He grabbed a cigarette and stormed out of the room.
Reno was alone in the dark.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
(Why couldn't I say yes? I wanted to say yes. Nothing ever turns out the way it's supposed to be. A person can't make themself do what they want to do. Mix in other people, and the world is just hell.)
Someone lightly tapped on the door. "Raieyana," said Vincent, "do you want to go now?"
She took a deep breath. "Yeah, sure. I said bye to the kids... Reeve's taking them to Lia, right?"
"I think Legolas has got that job."
"Are you going to go fight the Amber Weapon?"
"They need all the help that they can get."
"I wish I could help." Raieyana opened the door. "Just let me get my bag." She walked back into her room.
Reno jumped as the door opened.
"Reno, you're still here?"
He shrugged. "I was getting ready to leave."
She picked up her satchel. "What's this?" She bent down and picked up the ring box. "Oh..." She opened it. Inside was a thin, plain gold band. Reeve didn't buy it because he was cheap; he just thought if Raieyana wore anything else, it would clash with her simple style.
"You goin' now?"
She nodded. "I have to."
"Reno," she said softly, "I'm the only one who has to be sorry for anything."
"I'm sorry that I love you when I can't be the right man for you. Marry Reeve. It's the best thing for you."
"Do you have anything else to say?"
He shook his head. (I wish I was a person who could marry someone like you. I wish I was good enough for you.)
Raieyana couldn't help herself. She had been prepared to leave without a word to anyone. Now, standing here with Reno, she couldn't bear to go. She hugged him.
He pulled her closer in and kissed her.
After a little while, she pulled away. "I have to go now. I..." (...love you.)
He caught her hand and looked into her eyes. "I know."
Raieyana picked up her bag and walked out the door. Vincent was waiting for her. "Come on," she said, "let's go."
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