The most important reason for choosing Berkeley was that if she went with Ami to Stanford, she would see her with Mamoru constantly. There was only so much of that she could bear, and she wondered again how Usagi could do it.
But before the end of their first semesters, Ami broke up with Mamoru. He went out with other girls for awhile, including Rei, but as the dry, chilly winter warmed into a pleasant spring, it was Rei he went with most of the time, and then, all the time. Minako and Mako moved off; Rei did not have to ask them to know that they were leaving Mamoru to her.
This should have been all Rei wanted. After years of growing desire, suppressed for the sake of duty and for her love of Usagi, she had Mamoru. With the tiniest effort, she could have him, not only for a night, but forever. And yet they went on as steadies but not lovers, progressing no further than fiery kisses, deep embraces, a brush here, a momentary touch there.
Ami lived in a dorm at Stanford now, but when she visited, she nearly always stayed overnight. She had stayed with Mamoru many times. Now, she shared Rei's room, even though she could have taken a vacant one.
On a weekend when Mamoru wasn't free, after the lights were out and they were both in bed, Rei asked, "Ami-chan?"
Rei stumbled through the next question. "If you don't think it is too . . . personal . . . could you tell me . . . how long you dated Mamoru before . . . before . . ."
"A month," said Ami. "We first made love four weeks after the first time we went out together."
After awhile, Rei asked, "What do you think of Mamo-chan and I? Do we seem right to you?"
Ami switched on her light and sat up. "Is what you mean, do I give you permission to make love? That is between you and Mamo-chan."
Rei said, "I . . . I don't know. I want to . . . so much. You can't say it won't hurt you if I do."
"No more than I hurt you when I made love with him. Surely no more than I hurt Usagi." Ami sighed. "But maybe he will not call out 'Usako' when you are making love. You have the fire. You have loved him for a long time, and known it. Do not hold back because of me."
Rei said, "I am not sure . . . Mamoru was your first, wasn't he?"
"Yes," sighed Ami. She switched off the light.
After awhile, Rei asked, "Are you seeing anyone else?"
Ami said, "Not really. I have had dates with some guys at Stanford, but nothing will come of them. I guess the closest I have to a boyfriend now is Suuri Kurume."
"You finally met him?" asked Rei.
Ami said, "Not really. But we send e-mail to each other a lot. He is a friend of Umino-san, and they have started an internet business together, with some others. He's funny, and very smart, of course."
Rei said, "Email does not sound very romantic . . . What about Urawa-san? What became of him, do you know?"
Ami said, "Yes. Kurume looked him up for me, and Ryo wrote me a letter. He is going to Cambridge. He met a girl there whose family came from India. They fell in love. When her family tried to get her to marry another Indian boy she did not know, they ran off to Scotland and got married. Her family was very angry, but now there is a baby coming, and they are beginning to accept Ryo. I am glad for him."
Ami had her own question. "Have you heard from Yuuichirou?"
Rei said, "I have heard from his mother again. She says that he is engaged now, and that she hopes I will not cause trouble."
Ami said, "But you haven't tried to reach Yuuichirou. Have you?"
Rei said, "No. But she said he got a letter from someone about me. She thinks it was really me pretending to write as someone else. I didn't answer. What to say?"
Two weeks and one date with Mamoru after, Rei was about to open the front door when it opened first. And there was Yuuichirou. He held his arms open and she walked into them.
"Well . . . I guess you haven't forgotten me."
Rei said, "I will never forget you . . . What are you doing here?"
Before Yuuichirou answered they were swallowed up by the others. It turned out Yuuichirou had come only minutes before she got back from her last class. Everyone wanted to talk with him, especially her grandfather, who now seemed to think Yuuichirou was altogether a fine fellow, now that he wasn't after his granddaughter.
He could only stay one night; he had to meet his fiancée and her family in New York City. "A big charity function. A big night for my mother and Sumiko. Father never did that sort of thing."
"Then you should be there for her," said Rei. "Did you tell your mother you were stopping here?"
"Yes," said Yuuichirou.
"She does not like me very much," said Rei.
Yuuichirou shrugged. "I told her. And Sumiko, my fiancee. I wouldn't have come if I hadn't done that. Besides, you have Chiba-san now. After I tell my mother that, I think she will stop fussing. I think a lot of this is because of losing my father, anyway. It's not like my mother to stay angry with people unless they are really bad. She could never believe you are a bad person. Bad for me, yes, but not a bad person."
Rei waited until she heard no one moving in the house before getting out of bed. She didn't bother getting a robe; that would only waste time and perhaps make enough noise to wake Ami--if she was really asleep.
Rei did worry that Yuuichirou might have locked the door to his room, but he had not. She entered quietly, although she did not take especially stealthy measures.
She paused to listen to his breathing. This time she was sure: she had heard him sleeping often enough at the temple. He was not sleeping.
She thought about slipping out of her pajamas, but she remembered what Nancy had told Ami. If I have to think about it, the time isn't right. But she did walk to his bed, pull up the bedclothes, and slip under them.
His back was to her. She felt cloth on his legs, but his chest was bare. She kissed him on his back, just at the hard spot at the base of his neck. She said, "This night for me. Sumiko will have all your others." Then Rei spooned up to Yuuichirou, and waited for whatever he would do.
The spring after that was a pretty miserable one, almost as bad as the winter before it. But by the end of finals week, the season became a wonderful summer. Rei would have walked home on such a day. But now she had Deja, who seemed to have been born with a fine sense of timing--she wouldn't fuss much unless Rei was late coming home.
As she walked up to the front door from the bus, it opened. Usagi was there, with Chibi-Usa holding on to her leg--Sarah, better to call her that--and so was Ami.
"What is happening?" Rei asked.
"You have a visitor," said Usagi, scooping up Chibi-Usa.
Sitting on one of the many couches in the huge front room was Usagi's mother, Minako's mother, and between them, Yuuichirou's mother. Yuuichirou's mother had Deja in her arms.
Everyone else went elsewhere, leaving Rei alone with Yuuichirou's mother and Deja. Rei took Deja from her as she sat down next to her. Yuuichirou's mother moved away a little, and watched Rei while she played with Deja. I am here now. I love you. You are mine. I am yours.
"When were you going to tell Yuuichirou?" asked Yuuichirou's mother.
Rei said, "Not soon. When she is old enough to wonder about her father."
"Why did you keep this secret?"
"Your son was about to get married," said Rei.
"Do you think Sumiko would be hurt any less if she found out later?"
Rei said, "No. But when she has had years together with Yuuichirou, she will not want to lose him, not forever. And they should have children of their own. Is there one yet?"
Yuuichirou's mother asked, "Why did you do this thing?"
Rei held Deja close; she was nodding off. She gently rocked her body back and forth.
"Why did you do this?" the woman persisted.
"Do what? Have Deja?" said Rei.
"Why did you sleep with my son?" Yuuichirou's mother asked.
Rei said, "I may never be sure . . . but he loved me for so long, and I returned so little. I was going with Mamoru, the one I always thought I wanted. I could have had him forever. But I did not make love with him. If I had, he would have been mine forever. But it never felt right. One night with Yuuichirou felt more right than a life with Mamo-chan." She turned away from Yuuichirou's mother to let a couple of errant tears run down. Still facing away, she said, "Don't think I will pine away for your son. I'll find another, one who will be just mine. Not Sumiko's, not Usagi's. I'll find someone. And I am not poor. Deja will lack for nothing she truly needs."
After some time, Yuuichirou's mother asked, "Why did you name her Deja?"
Rei said, "Oh, it is silly . . . it is from one of those old novels Usagi likes to read. Deja was a Princess of Mars. I liked the name. It . . . seemed right."
Rei felt hands on her shoulders. "If my son were to leave his wife and come to you, would you be for him? Or would you play with him until you tired of him, and throw him away, as you did?"
Rei blurted, "It was not like that . . . I hurt him, but I did not know how much . . . But I will not take him from his wife. If I wanted to do that, all I would have had to do was tell him about Deja."
Yuuichirou's mother said, "Tell me, what would you do, if you took my son? Exactly."
Looking down into Deja's little face, seeing so much of her father there, Rei said, "I would be a bossy American-style wife. My career would come first. I would fuss over him, and argue with him. I would fight anyone who tells me any bad thing about him, even if I agree. I would make him change diapers, do laundry, learn to sew a little, learn to cook better than I can. I would make him teach Deja to ski as soon as she is big enough. I would . . . I would . . . "
The hands on her shoulders squeezed. "My son did not marry Sumiko."
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