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A Night of Discovery (Happy Valentine's Day!) by ThatZACHARY117 A Night of Discovery (Happy Valentine's Day!) by ThatZACHARY117
Happy Valentine's Day everybody!  This is just something I pumped out to go with the picture!  I'm so proud of the way it looks - much better than I expected it to!  I'm trying out a slightly more detailed coloring style.  The piece isn't rated mature for the picture, but for this wall of text, since there's some violent content in it.  I hope you enjoy reading it if you decide to!

'This contest is for omocha-san's contest: 

This piece goes out to my cousin, Mikah.  I'm sorry about your loss just before Valentine's day.
- Z

December 3, 2017
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

"Okay.  I'm here."

"A...Alright.  I'll come and get you at Hakai street."


Rei put the phone back in his pocket and walked over to Hakai street.  In a few seconds, Meiko would be there to pick him up.  Despite the fact that her call to meet him was supposed to be only an hour-long wait, it turned into three hours and he was getting impatient.

Whatever she wanted to talk about was making him uneasy though - with the Shaper revelation and their falling out seven months ago, they'd only begun to make a feeble attempt to message each other within the last two weeks.  This was the first time they'd meet in person since the seperation.

He could remember everything if he was asked - from her proposal to the changing of her appearance, she was the real deal - the most powerful of her species his parents and the rest of the planet were trying so hard to contain and wipe out - a reality warper.  She'd asked him back in high school what he thought of mutants, and he'd said that they were cool, but over the years that they'd gone their own ways, he turned to his parents for advice, and it turned out they weren't exactly the mutant friendly people Meiko had thought they were.  Within a year, Rei didn't see mutants or Shapers as 'cool' anymore, and it was of terrible luck that she'd only found out after telling him she was one.

When she did reveal herself to him, she expected some negative feelings, but instead, he completely rejected her and nearly turned her in for experimentation and execution, but she refused to harm him because she knew that she'd only be confirming what Reiji was told about her kind. Not only that, but she was still hoping to turn him back onto her side and accept her for what she was, and maybe restart their relationship amongst all her lies.

Maybe.

With hours of thinking and begging, Reiji allowed Meiko to live and forced her to prove that she was the same girl he'd been friends with since elementary, at the cost of their relationship ending and Meiko practically removed from his life.  She kissed up to him, slowly losing the sanity she'd ironically managed to keep because of her only friendship with him, which was now being stripped away as each day passed in the shotgun relationship.  Unfortunately, when he finally did realize that she never was the manipulator or world destroyer he thought she was, she broke and ran away, avoiding contact for the last few months.  

Two months after she cut off all contact with him, the system mysteriously passed a bill that allowed Shapers to finally be a part of society, although they had to reveal themselves in public and be monitored at all times, as well as work to earn basic rights, like being able to marry someone else.  Without a doubt, Reiji knew that somewhere, powers or not, Meiko had done something to make it happen.  

Most of the Shapers walking around were swarmed, attacked, or smothered with assasination attempts, and Rei wondered if anything had happened to Meiko yet. It was only a few weeks ago when he got a frantic message from her that he started to respond back.  She wanted to see him again, to talk about something she refused to speak of over the phone or voicemail.

'I hope she's not hiding anything else...That's gonna be a terrible Christmas present' Rei glanced around at all the people crossing the streets and sighed. Despite all the winter clothing he was wearing, he still found the season cold and chilly.

As he continued to make his way down the streets, a collective gasp came from his left.  Reiji knew the cause of everyone's surprise even before he saw the person creating the commotion.

"KAMI-SAMA!"

"Hey!  Please help us! We're low on money..."

"...My son is sick...I just need one request..."

"Onee-sama!  I need your help in english..."

"My cat is sick!  Please heal him Kami-sama!"

Rei watched to see how she would handle the situation.  Even without him around, Meiko still seemed to hold a somewhat positive attitude, although the pupiless eyes looked slightly empty this time.  Perhaps  it was because everyone was using the word 'Kami' on her, which she hated, or because everyone thought she was there to fulfill wishes, which she also hated.

"Okay...I'll do that...Sure! Uh, I can't control your friend's will...I'll try to help you..."

Along with the people in awe, there was a fair amount who chose to ignore or look down upon the cornered person.

"The freak's here."

"Stay away from it!"

"Hey bitch!  Dissapear this!"


A few people began to hurl bottles and other things in her direction, but she simply ignored them. Rei felt a surge of relief - he'd figured that their breakup would anger her enough to tear the world to shreds, but she was making an attempt to stay calm despite everything being tossed at her.

And it was a rather futile attempt at that.  He could see the anger slowly filling her expression, and he knew if he didn't act soon, Mei would probably vaporize the mockers or do something to remove them from existence.  Sure, he did dislike that she lied about herself, but he didn't want to see her become the monster many people were calling her.

"She should've died with the rest of them..."

"Must be really ugly inside.  She's just using her powers to look pretty...those are probably fake."

"The Oni walks among us!  Don't look at it's eyes!"

Before another insult or bottle could fly, Rei stepped in.  "Hey!"

Pupiless glowing teal eyes met soft blue ones that were equally sad, and once she recognized the cerulean irises, her own nearly popped from their sockets. "REIJI!?"

"Mei!"

Meiko wasn't close enough to hear him, and she winced. "What?"

"Mei!"

"Hang on - I can't hear what you're saying!" At this distance, Reiji could barely hear her either.

She was having such a hard time hearing him amidst all the onlookers and people asking for wishes to be granted, so he moved forward and reached for her, only to be pushed away by a desperate woman. Despite the seperation, Rei pushed through and Meiko reached for him, only to be moved away again.  

She wanted to touch that hand, but she knew if she laid a scratch on these people just to clear them out with her powers, she'd never be able to set foot in society without being hunted for the rest of her existence.  When she finally got close to him, the mockers began to pick on Rei too.

"That's the guy she likes?  Could've been better looking."

"Really?  He's not that bad.  Nice hair though."

"HEY!" Meiko lowered her eyebrows.  "DON'T TALK ABOUT REIJI LIKE THAT!"

"No honorifics?  How rude." one of the haters said.  Reiji could tell Meiko was trying to ignore it, but she was visibly caving in.  Reiji noticed one of the hecklers looking at him, and he narrowed his eyes at Rei.  "It's not even human.  Leave it alone!"

"You.  Shut up" Rei turned away from the troublemaker.  The latter then moved farther away and continued looking for an opportunity, keeping his eyes on Meiko as she continued to be pelted with wishes.

"My daughter!  She needs your help getting into the university!"

"The debt!  Help us out of the country's debt!"

As much as she wanted to help, Meiko had no choice but to escape with Rei - the requests were overwhelming her.  "I'm sorry!  I'll do what I can!" 

As Mei and Rei continued to move slowly, her attention shifted to a little boy near their knees. "Please remember my cat!  His name is Aki and he's sick" he cried out. 

 Reiji glanced back to look at him, and looked at Meiko. She focused for a moment, and the pupiless orbs became brighter than they already were, then quickly went back their subtle glow. "There!  Your cat's not sick anymore!  Go home and see him!" Meiko cried out.  Reiji noticed that at this point, her smile and tone of voice were both very forced, and her expression was no different.  If they didn't leave now, she'd have a breakdown in front of all these people.

"Come on Mei, let's g-"

Before Reiji could finish, the heckler from earlier returned and pulled out a handgun, aiming it at her head.  Without any hesitation, he opened fire. 

{*(BNNG)*}

"HNAAAAAAAGGHHH!!!!"   

Blood, bits of grey matter, and skull sprayed on the ground as the bullet popped Meiko's left eye and continued to tear a hole in her head until it buried itself in her brain.

"MEIKO!" he reached again and she grabbed roughly at his wrist in a mix of anger, pain, and fear.  "LET'S GO! NOW!"

The faction of the crowd that saw Meiko as a Kami or a wish granter quickly sought the person who tried to take out their idol.  "GET HIM!"

In the fleeting moment that everyone was distracted, Meiko tore a hole in space for them to enter. As Rei helped her through, the hole sealed and they fell to the rug in her living room.  As Rei got up, he saw Meiko lying on the floor with her hands on her face, blood, chunks of skull and grey matter still coming from the hole where her left eye used to be. 

"MEIKO!" he turned her over to look at the damage.  Meiko was shaking, covering her wound with her hands, but when Rei pulled them away, he could see the hole quickly patching itself up and the missing eyeball growing back.  He ran to get tissues and ice, quickly bringing it over to the wounded Shaper.

"I...I'ts ok..ayOOUW!" Meiko tried to wince the new eye as it was putting itself back together, only to earn a jolt of pain.  Reiji tried to stop whatever bleeding he could and applied ice to the wound, but Meiko just swatted it away after a while.  With her concentration breaking, she could feel some of the pain that was meant to be numbed by her somewhat-crippled powers.

"Mei" he tried to do what he could to help her, but his mind was just spinning with shock from everything that just happened.  Normally, anyone taking a bullet to the head was gone, but Meiko was still alive.  "J..just lay down."

She did as she was told, and the flesh patched up.  Meiko didn't have a scratch on her face, and she opened both eyes once the healing was done.

"Are you alright?" Reiji wiped away some of the blood left over on her cheek.  Meiko simply nodded and kept still.  As Rei watched her rest, he thought about how vulnerable she really was and thought about how she'd handled the situation back on the streets.  No one else was injured, and Mei had granted a few wishes here and there.  Looking back at her again, he thought about how human she really was and how she didn't meet his image of a world destroyer.

"Nugghhh..."

Rei didn't know what to say to her, so he tried to scoop her up in a hug.  Meiko grasped at him, and she began to cry again.  Her blood was flowing onto his coat, but he let it flow along with her tears.

"Are you okay?" Mei shook her head this time, and she sniffled.  "No...No, I'm not."

He tried to hold her tighter, but she seemed to be struggling against the grip.  "..Away."

"Huh?"

"FUCKING HUMAN, STAY AWAY FROM ME!" The outburst scared Rei and he moved away from her.  Meiko was just releasing everything she had against the world now, the pent up anger and frustration finally showing on a face that used to show happiness and perversion.  He was scared to approach her again, in case she did something malicious.

"Mei - relax...I'm not here to hurt you."

She sat on the opposite side of the room across from him, just zoning off and breathing heavily. When she came to her senses, a sad look graced her eyes.  "I'm sorry...I...I don't know what that was..."

Reiji forced himself to have an accepting look on his face.  "It's...well, fine.  If you have anything else, just let it out."

A pillow on the couch exploded next to her as both of them visibly flinched.  After a little while, Meiko returned it to it's normal state.  "Was that meant to be me?" Reiji fearfully asked.  

"N...No.." Meiko shook her head, looking hurt.  "I just...hate those people!"  From the look in her eyes, he could tell something had happened to her in the period she hadn't seen him.  "What did they do to you?"

Instead of responding, Meiko just sat there, cooling off after the outburst.  Reiji understood, and let her relax.  He didn't know how much time passed by, but when Meiko moved slightly, he snapped back to himself.  "Mei?  What did they do to you?"

"I've been shot and attacked so many times..." Meiko didn't have any tears coming down her face this time.  "People call me freak, and tell me I'm not a real human...that I'm a demon, a monster." he understood, and cringed when her imagined her being torn apart by bullets.  "How did you survive?"

A humorless laugh came from her. "Wherever I am...I use my powers to keep myself alive...even if I get shot in the head" she closed her left eye and opened it again.  

"So...you just want to live...righ-"

"OF COURSE I WANT TO LIVE!" she screamed as the tears returned again.  "I'M ONLY HUMAN TOO!!!  DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME?  DID YOU BELIEVE ME AFTER I CRIED AND BEGGED FOR YOU TO LOVE ME?  AFTER I SCREAMED AT YOU AND PLEADED EVERYTHING FROM YOU?  NO, YOU THREATENED TO KILL ME!  YOUR OWN FRIEND!  YOU WERE MY ONLY FRIEND AND I LOVED AND TRUSTED YOU, BUT NO!  YOU TREATED ME LIKE NOTHING REI!  NOTHING!"  her face twisted in rage.  Clearly, Meiko wasn't done venting.

Rei knew all of this was true, especially since she hadn't yelled at him like this on the day that she left.  He did deserve a lot of her anger, but he didn't know how to feel - She was born with this unimaginable power to do almost whatever she wanted, yet had to play a fake life just to live a normal one, even if it meant lying to him, but she never deserved the world's hate for something she didn't do yet.  "Meiko.  Just go ahead.  Let it out and hurt me if you feel like it."

The yelling went on for a little more.  When it was over, Rei stared at this broken woman.  What used to be a perverted, immature clingy girl was now a cornered sniveling mess.  "Are you done?"

Meiko nodded.  "I...I'm sure thi...ss time." they sat in silence.  "Are you still scared of me Rei?"

Rei was about to answer when a small voice came from upstairs.  "Mommy?"

He turned to look for the voice, but he could only see a shadow from the top of the stairs.  Whoever was standing there was out of sight, but he could hear them.  "I...I'ts fine, Rei-just fine.  You can go to sleep.  I'll be up shortly." Meiko said.  Reiji felt like he should've said something, but kept quiet, just observing her and figuring out what was happening.

"Okay" the tiny voice came before the footsteps that followed it.  Reiji had so many questions just seconds ago, but now there were even more.  "Meiko" he whispered.  "Who was that?"

Meiko stayed quiet.  "Meiko...please - don't give me the silent treatment again...who is that up there?"  A look of defeat crossed her face.  

"She, uh, she's mine."  Rei knew what she meant, but he just had the tiniest hope it was a relative who she had to babysit.  "Your..."

Meiko sighed.  "She's my daughter."

At that, Rei felt jealousy and anger tug at him.  "You have a..." he looked back at the stairs, thinking that at any time, another man might come down. 

"But...who?"

"I can't tell you." when she said this, he walked over to her and she could see the dissapointment written all over him.  "I thought you liked me.  That you weren't hiding anything from me - you were with somebody else?" for one of the very first times, Rei felt very, very jealous.

"I can't tell you" she repeated again.  "If I tell you, you'll get angry and leave..."

"LEAVE?" He raised his voice this time.  "IF I LEAVE, IT'S BECAUSE YOU HAD SOMEONE ELSE BEHIND MY BACK!" he paused.  "FIRST SHAPERS, AND NOW THIS? MEIKO!  I CAN'T TAKE MUCH MORE!"

Once he recollected himself, he sighed and took breaths to calm down, wanting answers. "Please...who's is she?  Who were you with?"

With the energy fading away from her, she began to shake. "I've...never been with anyone else".  Her response made his eyebrow twitch. 

"Huh?"

"You've been the only person I'v ever been with...I can only hope it's the same way around for you too..." 

Reiji had never had another relationship with anyone else, and neither did Meiko.  When it finally hit him, he felt like he'd been pierced by a sword. 

"Oh God..."

Meiko reached out a shaky hand to grab his own.  "You remember the night of the festival?  When we were still in year three?"

"..." Reiji's face was frozen solid so he just stared at Meiko.

"I lied about having protection.  I was just my pervy self that night...And uh...that lesson on shapers?  They said shapers couldn't get pregnant.  Well, I did.  When I first found out, I was going to get rid of her, but that didn't work."

"You were going to kill her?"

Meiko looked up at him.  Her second greatest secret was finally revealed.  "I...I was scared you'd leave, so I hid it...once I found out I couldn't remove the child and that having an abortion was too risky, I gave birth and gave her to another shaper-"

"YOU WHAT?" Rei felt some anger resurface.  "You gave her to someone else?".  

Meiko nodded.  "I was selfish - I wanted to finish school, and I really did like you enough that I didn't want you to go, so-"

"You abandoned her?  Dammit Meiko." he closed his eyes and sighed.  "You should've told me.  Wait, couldn't you have used your powers to raise her?"

Perhaps this was why Meiko wanted to talk to him so desperately.  He didn't really want to attach himself to this child now that life was taking off for him, but after Mei's revelation, he felt pretty sorry for his daughter.

"There was only so much I could do back then - I didn't want to reveal myself as a Shaper...you know what they would've done to me?  To her?"

Reiji was shocked.  All this time, she'd hidden away her true self, lied to both of them, and a young girl was being hidden away from him.  
"What'd you do after that?  When we finished high school?".  

Meiko looked down.  "Every summer...I went to visit her - I went in with a different form and name...it wasn't until a few days after the first time I saw her again that I realized I really loved her." a sigh came out.  

"Every time I think about the words I said to her when she was in the womb, I want to hurt myself - I said I hated her, never wanted her, and that it was a mistake -" she looked off to the side.  "My greatest regret then was that I ever regretted having her." tears came out as she blinked.  

"Both of you are the best things that happened to someone like me - I wish I never turned you two away...It's the one wish my powers can never bring true no matter how hard I try."

Reiji didn't know what to feel.  He just found out he'd fathered a small child, and his mind was still reeling after Mei took the bullet. "She knows you're her mother, right?"

Meiko nodded.  "I finally confessed to her after you broke up with me, and I took all her anger.  I knew I was responsible, so I accepted my consequences.  After a while, she let me try one more time and since then, we've had awkward moments, but she's okay having me around."

Reiji sighed.  The little girl's situation was just like his own with Meiko - a forget and attempt to repair relationship.  The worst part was that it was immediately after their breakup, so Meiko was probably close to snapping by now - he had to commend her for holding up this long.

"When I took her back from the other Shaper, I felt really bad too - she became attached to her and I was destroying them both with my actions...I told her that she could call me 'mommy' since she finally knows who I am, but whenever she brings up the other one, she calls her 'mommy' too. I can't blame her, and I wish I never did it in the first place."

'She's tearing lives all over the place...' he thought as Meiko hung her head in silence, and gazed down at her coat, still covered in blood.  

"What will you do now, Rei?"

Reiji moved next to her.  "I'm scared" he said.  "I really don't know what to do now - half of me is frozen, and the other half wants to see her" 

"I mean, I can take care of her" Meiko said.  "It's just that...if you don't want to be a part of her life, it's fine - I just wanted you to see her just once, if you're okay with that."

Rei thought about it.  "I'll take one look." he said without emotion.  Meiko nodded and he got up, extending a hand to help her.  They made their way up the stairs and into the hallway, until they reached a door near the end of the corridor.

When they opened it, the only source of light was the moon hanging over the city lights outside.  Rei's eyes immediately swept to the small bump on the bed.

"Mei" he whispered as she created a small orb of light.  "What's her name?"

The light was soft enough to illuminate the room, but not wake up the tiny girl.  "Reiko Masaru" she whispered.  "I took your name and my own and combined it, but gave her your last name - I was thinking about calling her Mirai for future, but mom told me Reiko meant lovely child, so I kept that.  Also, I thought it was cute..."

'Reiko, huh?  That's not a bad name' Reiji thought as he walked around the bed until he finally saw her face.  When he did, he immediately lost all doubt of her being anyone else's.

"Oh Mei..." he smiled slightly.  "She's beautiful..." 

Reiko was wrapped tightly in the blankets, making her look far more fragile than she really was.  Meiko felt a giant surge of relief and comfort wash over her.  If anything, Rei seemed to be taking this well.  

"I'm really jealous, actually" the words made Rei take his eyes off of his daughter and he looked at Meiko.  "Huh?"

"Yeah, she looks just like you, but what about me?" she seemed to be slightly sad.  "How come she doesn't have anything of me?"

"Well, I look like my father, and he looks like my grandfather" he paused.  Maybe it wasn't the best to bring up those anti-shaper parents of his to Mei, especially after the outburst. "What I mean to say is, well, my genes are strong" he went back to watching over Reiko again.  When he saw her neck, he noticed a small splotch of dark skin near her throat.  "She even has our family's birthmark." he felt his neck until he could feel his own.  "She's like a little clone of me."

For a moment, they just stood there, admiring the greatest achievement of their lives.  Compassion was starting to flow through the cracks in Reiji's heart- he was feeling more and more open to taking the responsibility of raising this child.

"Is she a shaper too?" 

"Yeah.  That's probably the only thing she got from me.  Everything else is you in there." 

Reiji noticed that Reiko's foot wasn't covered by the blanket, and it just poked out, shivering slightly.  He reached over and pulled the blanket until it covered her, and after a few moments, she stopped quivering.

"She's still learning how to control her power, but I'm making good progress in teaching her" Mei said.

"I forgot" Meiko spoke up.  "Tomorrow is her birthday.".  Reiji's eyes widened. "How old will she be?"

Meiko stood closer to him.  "She'll be eight years old.  Speaking of, don't you turn twenty four next month?" Meiko said.  

"Yean, and you will too" he said to Mei.

"Heh.  Our birthdays really are close together" Meiko said. 

"I know." The moment of silence was too much, even for a second.  "Tell me more about her, Meiko."

In response, the room lit up with visions and memories of the last six years Meiko had spent meeting Reiko, playing with her, caring for her, and loving her.  He saw many things, and with Meiko's power, felt some of them as if he were there.  "Just watch" Meiko said.  Rei went through experience after experience, and he got to see how much his daughter was just like him as each scene flashed before him.

Once the trip down memory lane was over, Reiji felt like he'd come to know Reiko, but felt saddened as he realized that these were years that had gone by that he didn't spend with her.  Sure he was a teenager back then, but maybe, just maybe if he had the opportunity to visit her and see what it was like, maybe they would've been a family.

"She really is like me" he whispered.  Meiko nodded.  "She loves to draw like you, has blue as her favorite color, and she even loves Yamoto Mask.  Remember that show?  I let her watch a few episodes, and she's just like us when we were hooked on that show."

"Huh.  Really?" suddenly a thought went off in his head.  "I think I know what kind of present to get her.  Can you take me to my house?"

"Sure thing.  Just let me remember where it is..." Meiko thought hard, trying not to imagine his parent's hateful gazes in the memories of the house.  "Got it!  Hold on."

Meiko teleported Rei to his house, where he left Mei in the room and quickly began to search for the item he wanted to give Reiko.  When he found what he was looking for, he came back to Meiko, who was looking at the pictures in the living room.  

"If she had a haircut..." Mei picked up the image of eight year old Reiji. "I would've never been able to tell the difference."

"Heh." he looked at the image of himself.  "I guess you're right."

After she put down the picture, her gaze slowly made it's way over to what Reiji was holding.  "What's that?"

"Ah" he held up what he'd been searching for.  "An old plush toy of mine.  I wanted to pass it on to my child when I had one...I wasn't expecting to give it out this early in my life though..." 

Meiko looked at the fuzzy doll.  It resembled the enemies she saw in Yamoto Mask, the show both Mei and Rei were fans of.  "Is that a..."

"A blue puff?" Rei looked at it and blushed.  "Yeah"

"But...those were girls' toys!" Meiko began to giggle.  Reiji shook his head and she stopped.  

"Mom got this for me when I was eight.  She said it was a mistake, since it was blue, so she thought she'd grabbed a boy's toy.  A year later she finally realized it was for girls..." he smiled at the irony.  "Now I want Reiko to have it.  It was meant for girls anyway."

"Did you play with that thing a lot?"

"Yeah." Reiji walked over to the pictures of himself next to Mei, her reached far behind one and found a picture of himself throwing the plush back and forth between him and his father.  "I'm surprised how nice of a condition it's still in.  I always played with this thing so much until I found out who it was really meant for."

"Don't worry - I know she'll like it.  Now hang on, I'm gonna take us back home."

Reiji held on and Meiko teleported them back to the room, where Rei placed the blue puff next to her arm.  "Come" Meiko whispered, and the small orb of light vanished as they left the room.  The clock read 3:39, and winter flakes were still falling outside the window.

Rei stayed silent as they walked down the hall, beyond the steps, and to her room.  The stench of blood was still strong, and it reminded Meiko of what had happened there.  "I forgot" she quickly took the blood out of the carpet and their clothing, as well as the gore, and they continued along to her room.  

The only thing they could hope for was for the media to not report on what had happened a few hours ago.  If Reiko found out, she'd be ruined.  Besides, Meiko was going to have even more attention now, which was something she never wanted in the first place...to become a local Kami.

Hopefully, the world would change enough by the time Reiko became an adult to be a less hostile place for her.

"By the way, out of random..." Reiji said.  "Shouldn't your memory be damaged or something from the bullet?"

"Rei" she didn't look at him.  "When you can twist almost all aspects of reality like I can, you can survive getting shot.  I told you earlier that I always think of being immortal, so I am.  Memories and everything.  I just tell the universe that everything will be fine and that I'll still know everything once I get back up...that I'll live." she said.  Reiji could tell she didn't like to talk about her power in such a way, because truthfully, doing so made her sound like an inhuman being.

"You don't know how many times I've tried to kill myself before." she said, shaking her head.  "but deep down inside, there's that part of me that wants to live a normal life - that wants to see you and her grow..." she opened the door.  "As long as I have a single thought, even a subconscious one of staying alive floating in here" she tapped her head.  "Then I'll live through whatever comes my way..."

"I see...that's right - your thoughts come true with your powers, right?"

"Yeah...the one thought that's keeping me alive is that, everytime I want to die, I remember the little girl who I owe my life to" she nodded.  "Who needs me more than ever now that I'm finally in her life.  I have to remember that I made a promise to be there for her, and if I do die, I would have failed her again, and I don't want that."

When they finally got in, Meiko let herself collapse onto the bed.  "I made the both of us clean, so there's no need to shower or change.  Besides, it's pretty cold, so just keep your stuff on" Meiko said.  

"That's strange of you." Reiji smirked.  "Usually you're telling me to take everything off.  Now you want it on."

Meiko rolled over and grabbed a body pillow from under the bed.  "The blankets are in the dryer.  I'm too lazy to go get'm, so these holes are the only things keeping you warm from that." she pointed at the window.  Snow was still falling outside, and from experiencing the outside streets, it had to be pretty damn cold.

"Why don't you use your powers to change the weather or get the laundry?" Reiji spoke to no one, once he noticed there was complete silence.  When he turned to ask Mei why she wasn't answering, he saw that she'd fallen asleep.  

'Of course...' he thought, getting up.  'Recovering from a gunshot to the head...taking me all over the country...she's gotta get tired at some point.'

As he watched her sleep, he noticed her beginning to shiver.  Rei got up and turned off the lights, looking around for the dryer, which he found two rooms away.  Once he got the blankets out, he came back to the room and watched Meiko sleep from the doorway.  After a few seconds, he put them on Meiko and laid next to her, covering himself.  

"You know, you don't have to play 'sleeping dead' anymore". He said to Meiko.  The Shaper sat up, wondering how she'd been found out.  "How?  How did you..."

Rei turned over to look at her. "If you were really sleeping, I wouldn't see two glowing eyes staring at me from the bed.  If you want to hide in the dark, you should at least close your eyes or wear shades or something."

Meiko glanced in the mirror and remembered that her glowing eyes made her visible in the howling dark.  "Oh fuck me."

Rei turned away from her again and sighed.  "Not tonight.  We'd wake up Reiko, and I don't want to do that again."

Meiko smacked his back.  "I wasn't thinking about that, pervert."

He laughed.  Meiko was back.  

"How ironic...me?  A pervert?  I think you need to look in that mirror again."

Meiko didn't need to.  She sighed and turned away from him, hugging her dakimakura.  

"So I guess this means we're back together, right?"

Reiji shifted slightly.  "As long as you don't lie or hide anymore, I'll give you one final chance.  I just want you to be more truthful from now on.  Oh, and if you really do want to start over again, please get rid of that dakimakura cover."

Meiko looked down at the image.  She'd shaped a picture of a shirtless Rei about to kiss her onto it.  "I'll change it, but can I at least keep the pillow?"

Reiji stayed quiet for a few seconds.  "Alright.  But go to bed soon."

As Meiko drifted off, she wondered what the future held next.

....

When the day came forth, Rei awoke to the sound of light snoring from the one next to him.  He nudged at her, and she stopped.  "Mnnnargh." she woke up.  "Rise and shine" Rei's voice bugged her slightly.  

"Is breakfast ready yet?" Meiko spoke to the bed.  'Still asleep' Rei thought.  He nudged her again, and she moaned.  Impatient, Rei walked towards the door, but stopped at the entrance to try one more time.  

"If it's okay, since you're still sleeping, can I see Reiko?" 

At the last part, Mei shot up.  "S..Sorry!  I'm awake!" she said, and she quickly made her way over to Rei.

Once they got up the stairs and began to ascend, Meiko held on to Reiji's hand.  "So...is our marriage still on?"

"No."

"HUH?!" Meiko nearly fell down the steps.  Reiji realized what he said, and how bad it sounded. "I mean, the uh, bill said there's no marriage for Shapers yet, right?  And you can't change anyone's mind with force, so..." 

"Yeah.  You're right" Meiko sighed in defeat.  

"But Mei" he said, starting her back up the stairs.  "If You and I really do love each other, then we can be together.  We don't have to be married to take care of Reiko and be a family, do we?"

Meiko's eyes lit up at the thought.  "Hey!  That's right!" her eyes smiled.  "So, does that mean you want to be in Reiko's life?  If not, that's fine...at least you met her..."

Reiji smiled.  "I kind of don't want to because I'm not ready, but..."

"But?"

"Well, as much as I wanted to deny it before I saw her, we know what we did that night.  I also can't live thinking I failed and abandoned somebody either - especially if it's my child" he said.  "I'll try as much as I can, Mei.  I'll try."

Meiko beamed with joy.  "Thank You, Rei."

"I'm not saying I'm forcing a relationship with her" Rei spoke.  "I want to truly be a parent - I just have to get used to this, and I think you have to too..."

She opened the door, and let Reiji in behind her.  Reiko was still asleep, but as they neared her, Reiji noticed the plush in her hands.  'She must've grabbed it in her sleep' he smiled.

"Everytime I look at her, I feel ashamed of what I did to her" Meiko grasped her arm.  Rei put a hand on her shoulder.  

"How do you play connect the dots?"

"You connect them, of course.  Why do you ask?"

"Lessons, that's why.  You connect everything you haven't touched yet - you can't go backwards, but you can go forth.  Do the same with life.  Just live, but don't dwell on the past - you can't keep connecting dots to make the bigger picture if you don't move forward, right?"

Meiko thought about it.  "Yeah.  That's right.  Did you just come up with that?"

"Hm?  Oh no, I just glanced at Reiko's dot drawing over there.  Her stuff is really nice.".  Meiko followed his gaze and saw it among a small wall of Reiko's art.

"Mnmh."

The two were so distracted in what Rei had said that they didn't notice they'd woken Reiko.  She sat up and cradled the blue puff in her tiny arms until they noticed her.

"Ouh...Reiko!" Mei said with surprise.  

"Hi mommy" she said, somewhat groggy.  "Is everything still alright?".  The look alone was enough to melt Reiji's heart.

"Yeah.  It's fine.  Sorry if I woke or scared you last night." Reiko looked at Reiji and almost pointed.  "Who's that?"

"Ah, uh, this is the person I like.  The one I've been telling you about for a while." Meiko shot Rei a look as if it were best for him to introduce himself.  He stepped forward, and Reiko edged away slightly.  

"Don't be afraid of him Reiko.  See the blue puff?  He brought it for you last night" the cyanette whispered.  "He's really kind, just like I told you."

Reiji felt the awkwardness flood him as he finally knelt next to her.  "I'm your mother's friend...Reiji Masaru..." he stared into the eyes he'd given her.

"Masaru!...I have the same last name as you!" Reiko moved closer to hug him, and when he felt her arms wrap around his neck, he fought back one of his own tears and failed as it fell down his cheek. "Thank you for the blue puff Masaru-san!"

"Y...yeah...your mother told me you were turning eight, so I wanted to wish you a happy bIrthday" his voice cracked.  

The feeling of Reiko giggling while she hugged him made him sob slightly, but she didn't notice it.  "Thank you!"

Reiko noticed her mother watching them silently, a look of peace on her face.  "I-I..I'm...uh," 

"Masaru-san?"

"Your mother is a very beautiful woman" he glanced over at her, dropping what he was about to say at the last second.  "She tells me your father hasn't been to one of your birthdays yet, has he?"

"Uh-uh." she shook her head.  "I wanted him to come for my other ones and today, but I don't know where he is.  Mommy said I'll meet him one day."

"Don't worry..." he said, fighting the urge to break.  "I know who and where he is"

"Huh?" Reiko lit up immediately.  "Who is he?  Can you please bring me to him?"

"I don't have to take you anywhere" Rei paused, hiding a sob with a deep breath.  "...because...he's right here."

Reiji continued to stutter, but he finally gathered the strength to tell her what he wanted to say with a smile, despite the stream of tears coming down his face.  When he was ready, he pulled her out of the hug and held her as she realized who he was.  "you're..."

"Y..yeah" Rei shook his head up and down, bringing her back into a hug that she was too shocked to return.

"I'm your father."




Author's note:
Cliffhanger!  Dundun dunnnn!
Thanks for reading if you did.  I kinda wanted to explore Meiko and Reiji's personalities a bit more, as well as introduce Reiko to everyone else.  This was practice for writing tradgedies, but as we all probably knew, it got better by the end. (Although even Meiko doesn't get what she hoped to get in the end.).  If you have any advice for me, please leave a comment below telling me what you thought!  I'd really appreciate it! (Still trying to keep Meiko from becoming too much of a Mary Sue...)

Anyways, I'll see you all around.  Thanks for stopping by - hope I gave you some feels :D





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