Secrets and Things Not Well Hidden

by Crawlspace


~ Chapter 2: Raye ~



            Clouds skirted across the sky, obscuring the moon and making patchwork of the stars.  Serena hurried up the steps of Hikawa Shrine, wishing not for the first time that Grandpa Hino would install an escalator.


            Finally, she reached the top of the hill and paused to catch her breath.  Now that she was here, Serena wasn’t certain how she was going to bring up the subject of the kissing cousins with her friend.


            “About time you got here.”


            The voice from the darkness startled Serena and she stumbled backwards.  Clutching her chest, her breathing hard, she searched for the source of the voice.


            “God, Raye!  You scared me!” yelled Serena once she was able to discern her friend’s figure.  Then a confused look came to her face.  “How’d you know I was coming?”


            “The fire knows all and sees all,” deadpanned Raye.  Then she grinned.  “And your mom called all of us wanting to know if we’d heard from you.  She wants you to call her.  You need to call the others, too, and let them know you’re okay.  Honestly, Serena, you should know better than to be running off without your communicator.”


            When they got inside, Serena started a slow trudge towards the phone.  Raye gave her a little shove to get her moving.


            “Be quick about it.  And if your mom isn’t too mad at you, ask her if you can spend the night.  The storm’s going to break soon.  No point in you getting caught in it trying to get home.”



            Nearly an hour later, Serena sat in Raye’s room chewing on the end of her ponytail.  Her mom had said she could stay the night at Raye’s.  She’d also said, in typical irate mother fashion, that if Serena ever ran off like that again without telling her where she was going, she wouldn’t need to bother coming home again.


            After that, she and Raye had spent more time than necessary setting up the pull-out and getting ready for bed.  Serena had tried a few times to bring up the reason for her visit, but each time the words would die in her throat.


            After a handful of false starts, Raye’s patience was wearing thin.  “Spit it out already, Serena!”


            Serena stopped chewing on her hair and let it fall from her mouth.


            Raye rolled her eyes.  “Not your hair, idiot!  The reason you came all the way over here in the middle of the night.  What’s the big emergency?”


            Serena looked down at her fidgeting hands, her face growing warm.  “Oh.  Well, um, you see, I saw this picture.  It was Amara, and she was, well… (ambiguous hand gesture) with this girl, and she kinda sorta looked like, um…”


            A not-very-well-hidden giggle made Serena look up.  The huge grin and laughter in Raye’s eyes made her forget her embarrassment and her train of thought.


            “What’s so funny?” demanded Serena.


            “You are, princess.  Have you really just now figured it out?”


            “What!  You mean you knew?”


            “Everybody knows, Serena.  It’s obvious.  Amara acts like a guy, dresses like a guy, and flirts with everything in a skirt.  She might as well have a neon sign taped to her forehead that says ‘I am a lesbian.’”


            Serena stared at her, bug-eyed.  “B-b-but Michelle…”


            Raye couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of her voice as she said, “I’m pretty sure she knows.  I doubt she has a problem with it, seeing as how close they are.”


            You don’t know the half of it, thought Serena.


            Raye pulled her pillow into her lap and leaned forward, looking more intently at her friend.  “You’re really bugged out about this, aren’t you, Serena?”


            “No, I’m not!”


            “You are.  I can tell by the look on your face.”  Raye leaned back and shook her head.  “I wouldn’t have expected that kind of reaction from you.  Chad, okay, sure.  But not from you.”


            “I told you, I don’t care if she likes girls.  And what does Chad have to do with it?”


            “You remember that trolley youma we had to fight.  It was around then.  Chad saw me with Amara, and she was doing her usual flirt thing.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  That she could ‘turn’ me or something equally stupid.  Whatever it was, he wound up trying to fight her to save my honor.”  Raye shrugged.  “No one ever said he was the brightest bulb on the Ferris wheel, but at least he cares.”


            Raye fell backwards onto her pillows and turned towards Serena.  She smiled at the blonde, and after a few seconds got the reaction she was hoping for.


            Serena relaxed a bit and smiled back at Raye.  Then she pulled her blanket to her and lay back against her own pillows.


            “Get some sleep, Serena,” Raye said as she got up to turn off the lights.  “If you want, we’ll talk about it some more in the morning while you help me with my chores.”


            Serena didn’t get a chance to protest the shrine chores before the room went dark.  She heard Raye pad across the floor and get back into bed.  It didn’t take long for Raye’s breathing to even out and the soft snoring to start.


            Serena lay there listening to Raye and the rain.  Two opposing forces that were both keeping her awake.


            The talk with Raye had gone completely off course.  Though she had gotten a sort of half answer from the miko.  Serena admitted to herself that she had never known about Amara’s preferences.  It just wasn’t something she thought about.  But it did make sense, and added a piece to the puzzle she hadn’t realized she was missing.


            Michelle, though, still seemed to be a missing piece.  The girl had more boyfriends than Mina had crushes.  So why get involved with any girl, let alone her own cousin?


            Serena rolled onto her side and started chewing on her ponytail again.  The rain was beating mercilessly against the windows.  She wondered how Raye could sleep through it all.


            As she watched the water cascade down the window, a new idea came to Serena.  She would go to Amy.  Amy and her superbrain had gotten them around and out of all sorts of situations.  As she finally began to drift off to sleep, Serena became certain that Amy could help her out with this situation, also.