Reunion Chapter 2
By Janet Monstwillo
Raieyana was trying to fit into her old dress. There were a few slight problems, however. (Damn it. Okay, got the thing over my hips, over my chest, finally, and what does it do? Hangs like a loose sack because I'm the only reject in the world that loses 20 pounds after her pregnancy. Except for my hips and my chest, where it's about to explode. Damn it.)
She ripped out the side seam trying to get the dress back over her hips. She crumpled it up and threw it into the corner of her room. Shaking her head, she walked back to her closet. (I know! I'll wear all my dresses that fit me like loose potato sacks. Except for the fact that those too, make me feel like I'm going to pop out of the top.) She sighed, and pulled out the one Lia had sewn for her. Custom-fit to her precise measurements. One drawback: it was lavender. (God, I hate this color.) She slowly put it on. It actually came near to the small size of her waist while still fitting over her "problem areas." Looking in the mirror, she was greatly disappointed. (Unless I'm going to wear a muumuu, it has to be the "Tifa Lockhart, enormous chest" look for me.) She pulled a large, baggy cardigan from her closet to cover herself up and walked out into the living room.
"So he's coming today?"
Raieyana felt like ignoring Lia's question. "Yes," she said, "just like I told you before breakfast, and after I finished breakfast."
"I'll try to keep the kids out of your hair," said Lia.
"Oh, I'd appreciate that," Raieyana said, "but Aeris, Ishmael, and Danny?"
Lia shrugged. "I'll be fine. Legolas' and my child is perfectly well-behaved."
"I was referring to how they all get when they happen to be within a few yards of each other," said Raieyana.
"I'll do my best," Lia said.
A small girl of about thirteen, definitely in training doing her page duty, came into Lia's house. "There's a man here," she said, "and Lia, he says that he's here to see you and Raieyana. His name is Reeve. I didn't know what to do, so I brought him here. He's waiting right outside..."
"Well, Tonia," said Lia, "for the future, I'd like to remind you that isn't the way we deal with strangers. But this is someone we've been expecting, so it's okay. You can go now." Tonia left.
Lia looked at Raieyana. "Well, aren't you going to say hello and invite him in?"
"Oh, you. You're going to make me do it alone, aren't you?" Raieyana asked. She left to go greet Reeve.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Reeve watched the young messenger leave, and wondered if he was supposed to go up. But then he saw Raieyana emerge from the house onto the front deck. (She looks exactly the same. I know I don't. But suddenly, seven years have all slipped away. Those years are gone. And I am back in paradise with my Ray. Ray.)
She looked down at him. "Are you going to come up, or is a ladder too hard for you to climb?"
Wordlessly and swiftly, he climbed the ladder and stood on the deck. (Face to face. Seven years ago, this small moment would have been nothing. Now it is everything. She is everything and everything is her.) He stepped a little closer. "It's great to see you again," he said.
"Yeah, you, too."
There was an uncomfortable pause. "What are we doing? It's been seven years...come 'ere." He hugged her, like an old friend would at a reunion. (We are old friends...yet so much more.) Something about the way Raieyana looked bugged him, though. And she felt...different...in his arms. (This is what I've wanted for so long. But she has changed. I see it now. How could anyone not? To change is to be human. She is human, although I swear sometimes she must be an angel...)
"How've you been?" Raieyana asked.
"Don't let me start..." he began. But he stopped when he saw a small little girl of about six peer out the front door and step out towards Raieyana. (God, that kid's a cute little blond thing. I wonder if that's Lia's kid...)
The girl tugged at Raieyana's skirt. Glancing at Reeve with huge blue eyes, she softly whispered, "Mommy? Ishmael's lookin' at me funny again."
Raieyana gave him a little "you know how kids are" look, and, raising her voice, told Ishmael to "play nice."
"But Mommy," a little boy called back, "Aeris started it!"
Turning to Aeris, Raieyana said, "Go talk to Aunt Lia. I bet she'll take care of this, okay?" Aeris nodded, and with one last shy look at Reeve, went back inside. "They always fight," Raieyana said softly.
(She found someone else. Ray has someone. Good, she wasn't...alone all this time. Raieyana's a mother. And her children are beautiful, just like her...) But Reeve couldn't stop the sinking feeling that slowly landed at his feet and that had seemed to grab his manhood on the way down.
"So who's the lucky man?" he asked. Raieyana gave him a puzzled look. "I'm glad you found someone. Beautiful kids, Ray, I...I mean Raieyana. That guy must be good looking to have such nice kids. He's good to you, right?"
She looked at him, painfully. "Reeve...I..."
He shook his head. "You don't need to say anything about being sorry. It would have been foolish of me to even think for a second that you would stay here, just waiting for me."
"Reeve," she said softly, "no one's lucky enough to have me. Did you get a good look at my...my daughter? How old do you think she is? What do you think I did? Got some new guy a week after you left? No. Reeve, you should see Ishmael. He resembles his father so closely. I...I almost named him after you."
The gravity of the words she had just spoken nearly brought him to his knees. "His father...almost named him after...me? Ray, am I...why didn't you say anything?"
"I know I should have. But there's something in me that refuses to say something like that in a letter...over the telephone. Something that wanted to look you in the eyes and know, be able to see, your true feelings. You could have written you were happy in the letters and not meant it. Lied over the phone. But I wanted to be there, see your reaction."
"Why didn't you tell me to come?" he asked.
She looked down. "I tried. But I couldn't beg. And I kind of had hoped that you might come just because I asked you to."
"Where does that leave us, then?" he asked.
"You don't have to do anything, Reeve, if you don't want to. I have it all under control. You don't have to be their father."
"That was my little girl," he said, "and something in me just wants to go and hold her. Make up for..." (Anna.)
"Lost time?" said Raieyana.
He nodded. "...and other things."
Raieyana turned towards the door. "Let's go inside," she said.
"Has it been hard?" he asked.
Raieyana laughed. "Not really," she said, "I just had to get used to it."
"How...old are they?" he asked.
"Almost six and a half. They were premature by about a month and a half. Part of it was, of course, twins come early. Another thing may be...Jenova, Mako."
Reeve looked surprised. "What? What could any of those things do?"
Raieyana paused, then started to explain.
"Vincent says he is thirty-four. If that was true, then Sephiroth cannot be traced far back at all. If we assume Vincent was, say, eighteen when he was a Turk, that only dates Sephiroth at nine years old...when he died. But you and I both know that if that was true, my existence at my age is impossible. So either Vincent is lying or... But even with the whole Sephiroth thing aside, there is something involving the Jenova or the Mako that causes accelerated growth and development. Just think. Aysta and I skipped two grades in an exclusive private school. We went to Undor-Hai, and were doing serious training in weaponry at age eleven. Our kids were born early. Lia and Legolas' son was born slightly early, and he was just in Soldier. All of Vincent and Yuffie's kids were born early."
"Your theory," said Reeve, "makes a lot of sense out of some things I haven't been able to explain myself."
"I guess, but do you think I know this thing, inside out? I don't understand why it happens. Look at me. When I was a little girl I was what, two years ahead of everyone? How come now, everything has come to a standstill? I'm not aging rapidly, I developed somewhat rapidly. How is it that the rapid growth and everything stopped and left me here? I can't look at this objectively...but I know I'm not that different from when I was sixteen. I haven't changed like Yuffie has. She's gotten more mature and grown up a little more. Not much has happen to me, though. I guess I had reached this peak point, comparable to a person in their early twenties, and just stopped... I came to a standstill? What did Hojo know?"
Reeve shook his head. "Hojo didn't know jack," he said.
"Normally, I would agree with you," Raieyana said, "in this case, though... I mean, he made me... He knew enough to be able to stop this process. But maybe, we might find out, he never understood how to stop it permanently."
Raieyana paused, to breathe.
"Hey, Reeve," said Legolas.
"Long time, no see, man," said Reeve. They shook hands.
"Ray, where's that lovely wife and the beautiful child of mine about whom I love to brag?" Legolas asked. Raieyana shrugged.
Lia emerged from on of the hallways, carrying a pudgy four-year old. Aeris and another boy followed behind her. "Hello, Reeve," Lia said.
Legolas gestured to the sleeping child. "That's our son, Daniel--we call him Danny."
"You've already met Aeris, Reeve, so that's Ishmael," said Raieyana.
He gave her a questioning look. (Sure he looks like me...but you named him after your Ish.)
"Ishmael," she said again, almost sensing how he felt about his son's name. (Not Ish,) she thought as she looked back at him (Ishmael. He's your son, Reeve. Because I wanted you. Not Ish. And I will never call your son Ish. But I didn't want him to be forgotten, Ish was such a quiet soul...)
Reeve knelt down and looked into warm brown eyes that mirrored his own. "Hi," he said.
"Hi," said Ishmael shyly.
"I gave them dinner," said Lia, "but I thought you might want to say goodnight."
"Of course," said Raieyana, and took her son by one hand and her daughter with the other and started to lead them to their room.
Aeris paused, and turned around. "'Night, Mister Reeve," she said, overcoming bashfulness to wish the guest a good night.
Reeve smiled. (She looks like Anna. Talks like Anna. But she called me mister. I want to hear her say, "father.")
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Raieyana left to go for a walk, and Reeve, in typical Reeve fashion, left and followed her. "Raieyana," he said, "I want to be part of this. Their lives. I want them to call me 'Daddy.' My kids, Raieyana. She called me 'mister.' Right now they're only yours. I want to raise them together. I want them to have a family. The family you couldn't have--the one you need now."
"Reeve, don't say things you don't mean to me. You can be a father to them. Of course you can help. But I'm not going to trap you in a life you don't want with me on account of something that we had almost seven years ago. You don't have to live in the past to have a future with the kids, waste your life with me. I don't care if you don't want a relationship with me except through the children." She lowered her voice. "It won't bother me if you don't want to be with me."
"Then say it," said Reeve, "without any emotion. Say it indifferently. If you swear it doesn't bother you, then don't say it with your voice so full of feeling."
"Tell me you don't love me, but do it like it was nothing. Say it like I was just some old thing from your past that you found in the attic and dusted off before you remembered the reason why it was put away in the first place. Don't lie to me. If you care, then tell me. How else am I going to know?"
She shook her head. "I'd rather you go then stay and not be sure. We've both changed. We're both older, things have happened...we've both had time to consider mistakes and other actions in the past that maybe we don't want to repeat again. I don't want to tie you down."
Reeve looked at her funny. "Raieyana," he said, "I wish you would let me consider my own needs and turn a little more attention to your own. What do you want? What do you need? Don't worry about me. I promise no matter my reason for deciding whatever I decide, I'll be good to you. I'll be good to you."
She wrapped her arms around herself for warmth, and turned towards the sea breeze. "I don't want to tie you down," she said again, repeating the words. Reeve watched her for a moment. Then he headed back to Lia's house.
Reeve quietly let himself back in the front door. Lia was sitting there, waiting to speak with him. Waiting to tell him something she had held in for years. "Where's Legolas?" asked Reeve.
"In bed," she said.
He gave her an odd look and headed towards his room.
"Wait," she said, "I have something to tell you. But first, did Raieyana tell you how she's been?"
He shrugged. "She's been fine, I guess. At least that's what I've gathered from what she's been saying..."
Lia shook her head. "Not a word, not a word. Ray... Well, I figured it would be up to me to tell you, but I had hoped she would have enough figurative balls to tell you herself..."
"You really," she said, "really have no idea, do you? Why Raieyana never made that much of an effort to contact you while she was pregnant? No word afterwards? I'll tell you why. From about the third month on, she was deathly ill. She nearly died giving birth. Bedridden for three months after the twins were born. Look at her. The person that I would have said had the healthiest constitution seven years ago...she's weak. She's thin. Sometimes she shivers in the night with the chills...sometimes she burns with fever. And if it's the Mako, or the Jenova, then what will be, will be. Like it's supposed to be. Like it has to be. But part of me just won't let go of the fact that she was the strongest person I know. Before she was pregnant. She was stronger seven minutes after she came back from the dead then she is seven years after her babies were born. Why? Somehow, something...inside me...puts part of the blame on you...because you weren't there. And Ray wouldn't let me quote-unquote 'disturb you' after she had recovered enough to argue with me. But I should have, I should have..." Her words trailed off as Reeve rushed to his room.
He turned to face her. "Maybe you should have, Lia," he said sharply, "or maybe you shouldn't take it upon yourself to let me know things that Raieyana would rather have kept quiet."
Lia looked him straight in the eye and shrugged. (Now he knows what he should know. And no matter how much she wants to push him away to avoid getting hurt again, this boy's here for good. If I know Reeve. And I think I know Reeve.)
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