A Place Called Home


d a m n a t i o n


For all disclaimers, refer to Part 1.

Note: The lyrics used in this part of the story is from the song Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down. No infringement intended.


For the life of her, she could not get the numbers on the small oblong screen to tally with those on the pile of papers before her. Flick was ready to pull out more of the disheveled locks on her head when the phone rang.

"What?" she spoke a tad harshly into the receiver, rendering the caller silent.

"Bad time?" a tentative voice asked after a short pause.

Flick sucked in a breath and exhaled loudly. "Hey Rei. I'm just working out my bills," she explained, her frustrations already ebbing and her mood considerably better thanks to the caller. She felt the sides of her lips begin to tilt upward and gasped mentally -- was a smile actually forming after a royally bad day?

"Oh." Rei gave a small chuckle, knowing the agony Flick was going through all too well. "You want me to call you back? Or should I ring you after you've paid your bills?" Flick could almost see the cheeky grin on Rei's face as she was saying that.

Twirling a pen in her hand, Flick pushed the papers with the offending numbers away and snapped her calculator shut. "No, that's all right. I could do with a break. Numbers are not my fortÈ," she reported wryly. "So, what's up?"

"Nothing much really. Just called to see if you wanna come over this evening. You know, we could rent a couple of videos or something. . ." Rei trailed off, suddenly feeling uncharacteristically awkward.

The events that had transpired that evening when they caught a movie together had given both women much thought about possibilities Rei had never considered and Flick had only dreamt about. Neither was sure what the other was feeling -- it was always hard to lay oneself bare to another without the guarantee of something good actually coming out of it. So, even though both women harbored the hope of each other's reciprocation, neither was ready to ask.

Flick hesitated. She had told herself that nothing was going to come out of her wishful thinking and what happened the other night was blown out of proportion because she read too much into Rei's actions. She still experienced the tingly sensation when she recalled Rei holding her hand the other night and decided that a recycled memory was better than nothing. After a four-hour chat with Penny that hugely contributed to the large figure on her phone bill, she had come to the conclusion that she should stay away from Rei for a while, in spite of Penny's insistence that she stood a chance with Rei.

So where was her determination when she needed it? And why did all rationality and reason disappear when it came to Rei? "Yeah, sure. I'd love that," she finally answered. She was so gone; she could only hope that she did not make too big a fool of herself.

"Lish, baby, come on. Let's get you to bed." Rei nudged her slumbering daughter gently. The coffee table was littered with Chinese takeaway boxes and credits were rolling up on the television screen. It was close to one in the morning and they had finally finished their homemade movie marathon.

Lisha stirred and looked groggily at her mother's expectant expression. She looked as if she was going to respond but dropped her head back onto the cushion. Rei gave Flick a helpless look and reached for her daughter. With one arm wrapped around her upper torso and the other beneath her knees, Rei picked Lisha up. Her action caused a pair of eyes to widen before their sides crinkled in silent mirth when she lost her balance and had to drop her burden back onto the couch.

"I'm up, I'm up," Lisha groused. "You didn't have to throw me."

Rei shot Flick a withering glare at the sound of a soft chuckle. "Sorry baby." She pressed the small body to hers as she bent down to plant a kiss on the smooth brown hair. "You're getting too big for me to just lift you up."

"Vince can still do that," Lish murmured, causing Rei to stiffen slightly before sighing.

"Well, what can I say? He's the strong one," Rei answered a little lamely. She knew that Lisha blamed her for the break up even though her daughter never brought the subject up. In a way, Vince was more Lisha's father than Frank ever would be. Lisha never had the chance to know Frank. The bits and pieces that she got from Kezia, Frank's parents and herself were treasured by the small girl, but they were just other people's memories. Vince, however, was different. He adored her as much as she adored him and she knew that he would do anything for her.

"'Night, Flick." Lisha rubbed her eyes and gave the almost forgotten blonde a small wave. That brought Rei out of her private musings and she steered her daughter up the stairs to her room.

A rock band was playing softly on the stereo when Rei returned to the living area. Her brow lifted at Flick's passionate but off-keyed singing.

"If I go crazy then would you still call me superman
If I'm alive and well would you be there, holding my hand
I'll keep you by my side with
My superhuman might

Green eyes opened suddenly and a steady flush crept up Flick's face when she realized that she had a private audience of one. It was all Rei could do not to laugh -- not at her friend's expense, but at how silly Flick was to feel embarrassed around her. "Nice song. What's it called?" Rei tried instead.

"Kryptonite." Flick reached over for her drink and took a huge gulp from the can of Coke. "I only noticed it after watching its music video. Call me crazy but I was actually touched by it."

"Really? What was it about?" Rei found it hard to imagine a touching kind of music video for this genre of music.

Flick looked at her friend thoughtfully. Rei did seem genuinely interested. "Well, it's got an old man in his room. He sees a woman being bullied. So he opens his drawer and takes out his superhuman suit and puts it on. Long story short, he tried to save her even though he no longer had any powers. He gets beaten up but he didn't give up. Finally crashed through a window and nailed the bad guy."

Flick caught the slightly confused look on Rei's face and continued, "It was the look on his face that got me. It's the look of a man who lost the ability to do the one thing that defined him but he does not give up." She recalled the first time she saw the music video; it had brought a wave of melancholy over her. The knowledge that a person's legacy could be terminated so easily struck her as to how vulnerable human life was. Would she ever find someone who would make her weak by making her strong? She shrugged the nonsensical thought aside.

If Rei had any doubt before this that she was attracted to Flick, it was dispersed. She loved the way Flick translated her emotions into words. The way she made something significant out of the simple things in life. The look of sorrow that flashed across Flick's face made Rei want to take the blonde in her arms and protect her from the world.

"It's stupid, isn't it?" Flick grinned wryly. A dark head shook vehemently, but Flick carried on talking. "I get really emotional at the weirdest times. The other day, I was reading Wilde's 'Happy Prince' and I almost cried three times before I got to the end of the tale. Can you believe that? It's not as if I've never read the story before." Flick shook her head, chuckling softly at herself.

Rei reached over to take Flick's hand impulsively, surprising both herself and her companion. Their eyes connected for a heartbeat, bearing them vulnerable to each other. "Don't ever change, Flick. I love you the way you are," Rei whispered finally.

Was it her or did the atmosphere in the room had alter? If intensity was visible, the room would be totally fogged up. Flick had to remind herself to breathe. Where did that come from? Did Rei really mean what she said? She was ready to dismiss the statement as one borne out of friendship when the expression on Rei's face made her think twice.

"Um, is this okay?" Rei stammered, wondering where she had gotten the courage for the bold action and words. She wondered if her tendency to assume would get her into any trouble because she was definitely assuming a whole lot by holding Flick's hand.

Flick nodded, risking a quick glance to her friend before looking away, suddenly more nervous and shy than she normally was around Rei. "Yeah. This is okay." The link they shared felt good. More importantly, it felt right. That, combined with the nervous look on Rei's face made her see that what Penny said might be true. She, plain old Felicity Mitchell, just might stand a chance with the beautiful, intelligent, witty Rei Conrad.

That thought caused a surge of energy to go through her body, making her shiver involuntarily. She took a deep breath, and, with her heart in her throat, asked if Rei would want to go on a date with her.

The beam on Rei's face was lost on her as she cringed at how old fashion and clichÈ the line sounded once it left her lips. Her friend's positive answer was almost lost on her but it finally registered in Flick's brain. She'd love to. She'd love to?! "Really?" she could not help asking. It was almost painful how the past ten minutes or so stretched out like an hour. Time was moving torturously slow for both women and the meaning behind every single word and gesture was magnified.

Rei did not reply. Her dancing eyes answered the question as she leaned closer to Flick, successfully terminating the blonde's ability to breathe once again.

The first kiss they shared was both tentative and tender. It sent a shiver down Flick's spine, leaving it tingling in the aftermath. It was as though her world consisted of only the woman beside her and herself, and the butterflies in her stomach just would not settle down.

Rei pulled back and told her heart to calm down. Her head understood that it was merely a chaste kiss but her heart knew that the feelings the innocent touch invoked in her were anything but chaste.

With all the thoughts going through her mind, Rei was unprepared for a repetition of the action. Their lips came together again with Flick as the instigator this time. The physical world fell away, leaving the duo in a realm of sensation caused by the connection of two pairs of lips. The kiss deepened. Rei was sure that the buzzing in her head was not caused by the wine they had during dinner.

Tongues met and started a dance. The kiss did not feel foreign or awkward at all like some first kisses do. In fact, Flick was astounded at how deep the brunette was touching her without being invasive. Both women were breathless from the seemingly effortless task after they broke apart. It's just kissing! both minds shouted. It wasn't as though they had never kissed before.

Yet, one look at each other dispelled any notions that they could discard what they had just shared as anything commonplace. It was so much more. It was a move that changed everything -- their friendship, their status in each other's lives. . . They had just acknowledged, without a doubt, their attraction for one another.

Then Flick started laughing, startling the Rei for a minute. That was the only way she could disperse some of the sexual tension that was almost palpable in the room. That kiss sure as hell confirmed what she thought could only exist in her wildest dream. It was all that and more. It was real. Rei was real. And Rei wanted her.

Rei rested her head against the back of the couch and smiled fondly at her giggling companion. This was it, she thought breathlessly. She had found, for the second time, what some begged to find once. She did not know what she had done to deserve it but she was not going to question it.

"C'mere," she husked out, needing to feel more contact with her friend. Flick sobered up a little, a small smile still lingering on her face. She leaned into Rei's body and rested her head on the crook of the older woman's shoulder. It was in this position that they had met. Now, it marked another beginning in their lives.


Flick mulled over the words on the screen, wondering what to type next. A quick glance at the bottom right corner of the computer screen told her that it was close to four in the morning. Almost in sympathy, her mouth opened and her eyes squeezed shut in a loud and satisfying yawn.

Her Philosophy paper was due in a day's time. Even though she had begun reading up on relevant materials a fortnight ago, she had stalled the actual writing of the paper until she was hit by inspiration. Inspiration did hit at around ten the previous evening and for that she was thankful. If she had to wait any longer, she would be forced to conduct a Caesarean in case her work came out still born.

When the clock struck four, Flick's head was down on her desk and her mouth was slightly open as she snored softly. The screen flickered and the screensaver started, hiding the small blonde's completed essay from sight.

The sobbing was getting louder before it hushed again, almost as if her mother did not want anyone to hear her crying. Flick rolled her eyes at herself -- of course mum did not want anyone to hear her crying. Dad would only start losing his temper and she knew that mum did not want her to worry. She stopped at her parents' room door anyway and raised her fist to knock.

"W-what is it?" A slightly shaky voice answered.

"Mum? Can I come in please?" Flick waited patiently for her mother to admit her.

Sounds of movement could be detected from the room as she imagined her mother washing her face to rid any evidence of her crying before. "Come in, honey," Samantha said finally.

Flick twisted the knob in her hand and closed the door behind her. "Talk to me, mum. Please?" A loud gasp escaped from between her lips when her mother faced her fully. The bruise on the side of her face was hideous! "Oh mum!" Flick half ran over to her mother and hugged her. "How could he. . ." Her face transformed into an angry scowl. "He hit you! Mum, I know you thought that it was going to stop at verbal abuse but apparently it isn't! He's becoming a monster! We have to call the police, mum. This has to stop!" Tears pooled in two pairs of green eyes.

Samantha looked away. "No! He's going to be okay. He promised me that he's going to clean up. We'll start anew and everything will be okay." Flick could not believe her ears. How could her mother not see the obvious? Her father was not going to get better if he did not receive professional help and it was not helping that they did not retaliate and knock some sense into the man.

"Oh Sam! Flick! Where the hell is everybody?" A male voice interrupted their conversation from the other side of the door.

Flick rose and walked to the door. "If you're going to continue deceiving yourself, there's nothing I can do. I'm going to talk to him. This has to stop."

Samantha jumped up and ran after her daughter, her flowery dress flowing behind her. "No! Flick, no. . ."

Flick awoke with a rush, feeling sick and displaced. She could feel the distasteful pounding of her heart in her head and quickly rose from her desk to use the bathroom.

After splashing her face with some cool water, Flick looked into the mirror and cocked her head to one side. The face staring back at her was both hers and not hers, familiar yet foreign. Eyes shut tightly, she willed the lingering images of her dream to disappear. She had stopped having those dreams a long time ago -- why did they resurface now? Was she never to know peace from her parents' deaths? Was she never going to be allowed to experience pure happiness without any baggage?

She saw her reflection sigh and realized that she was so very tired. Maybe all she needed was some sleep. Maybe everything would be okay the next morning. It had to be.

Music blared loudly from the speakers and the customers in the pub raised their voices in an attempt to be heard over the music. Flick took a deep breath before entering the tightly packed place, trying her best not to think of canned sardines. The thought of having at least a few sweaty bodies rubbing against her made her cringe but she squeezed her way in anyway, her eyes searching for Jean.

Her friend had insisted that she came out with her that night to celebrate the handing in of her essay. She had rolled her eyes and told Jean that if she were to celebrate each time she handed up an essay, she would be an alcoholic in no time. Jean had smirked, mounted her bike and told her what time she would be there, revved her vehicle's motor and taken off.

Now that she was here at the pub, Flick wished she had insisted on not coming. The dream she had the night before had opened up the dam that held the memories she was striving hard to forget. Many of those memories saw her arriving at the local bar after closing hours, paying up her drunk father's bill and lugging him into the cab with the help of the bartender, Max.

Squeezing her eyes shut momentarily in an attempt to shut off the memory, Flick did not see the swaying male in front of her and walked right into his arms.

"Hello beautiful," the tall, lanky guy with dirty blonde hair slurred as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with his index finger. Flick felt a familiar dread bubbling up within her and she reacted instinctively by resting her palms on his chest and pushing herself back from him rather abruptly and a little too forcefully. "Hey!" He protested as he stumbled backwards.

"Sorry," she mumbled and walked the other direction. Her heart was racing irrationally as she made her way through the crowd. She would locate Jean and tell her that she had to go. A hand on her elbow stopped her. She turned to see her friend giving her a crooked grin and she exhaled a breath of relief. "Hey."

"Hey yourself. You're late," Jean reprimanded her playfully.

Flick shrugged, still a little shaken. "Yeah. I. . ." she looked around absently, almost as if she did not remember how she had gotten there.

Jean studied her friend. "You all right? You look a little pale."

Tugging at the sleeve of her white jacket, Flick started to nod and then shook her head. "Actually, no. Um, do you mind if we go to somewhere quieter?"

The taller blonde shrugged. "Doesn't make a difference to me. I'll just go get my coat and finish my drink." Flick nodded and grabbed the tail of Jean's brown t-shirt as she maneuvered them through the crowd back to where she left her drink and coat.

"So, wanna tell me what's up?" Jean asked after lighting up a cigarette. They had walked a couple of blocks down from the pub and decided to stop at a cafe.

A puff of smoke escaped Flick's lips as she shook her head. "Nothing. I just. . . didn't feel like hanging out there, that's all," she lied. She got along very well with Jean and genuinely liked the girl. After they started hanging out together, they discovered that they shared many similar interests like their tastes in music and their love for writing. They even went rollerblading again. This time, Flick could actually say that she went rollerblading and meant it -- she actually stood on those wheels and managed to stay upright for half an hour before she fell. It was a huge achievement and even the big bruise on her behind did not make her think otherwise.

Jean shrugged. Something told her that Flick was hiding something from her but she reckoned that everyone was entitled to their own secrets. She was not exactly the most forthcoming person herself.

Flick stubbed out her cigarette and took another stick out of the slightly squashed soft pack when the waitress walked over to take their order. She concentrated on inhaling and exhaling puffs of smoke, not bothering to make any conversation at all.

After some time, Jean got annoyed and spoke up. Forthcoming or not, Flick has got to at least make an attempt to enjoy her company! "Are you going to be like that the entire evening? If you are, we've got two choices here: one, you tell me what's going on and we can do something about it, or two, we go home and I'll spend my birthday alone."

Flick shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "It's your birthday? Why didn't you tell me?" she asked, seating herself straighter. She finally met her friend's hazel eyes. "Sorry. I had a bad dream last night and when I got to the pub, it kind of reminded me of it." Well, that was not the detailed truth but the truth nevertheless.

Jean narrowed her eyes but let the matter drop for now. At least she got some kind of explanation and not have her friend take her second suggestion and walk off. "I don't like making a big deal out of my birthday," she said with a shrug.

"So, how old are you turning?" Flick asked, relieved that her friend did not pursue the issue. That was another reason why they got along so well together; they seemed to understand each other.

"A woman never reveals her age," Jean smirked, sipping her flat white.

Flick rolled her eyes. "Fine." She picked up the straw in the tall glass in front of her and sucked the banana milkshake into her mouth. "So, is there going to be a party?"

"Actually, Corben and the guys were saying that they were going to throw a party for me on Saturday. But you know them, always looking for an excuse to have a party. I'm sure most of the people who attend won't even know me. Come along," she invited.

Saturday. She did not have plans yet, but she was saving it up for a certain professor. The thought of Rei sent an unconscious shiver down her back and she felt considerably warmer as she grinned idiotically.

A hand waved in front of her face. "He-llo. Anyone home?"

Flick pulled her friend's hand away and blushed. "Um, would it be okay if I brought someone along?" She wondered if it was going to be a problem if people from university knew that she was actually dating a professor.

That thought sent more shivers down her back, leaving her tingly. She was actually dating Rei. For days now, she had to pinch herself to make sure that she was not dreaming. When she had called her friend the morning after, her heart was racing so madly at the possibility that Rei might have changed her mind about the kiss. On the contrary, Rei had revealed that she was about to call Flick but was worried that she might still be sleeping.

She looked up to see Jean studying her silently. She had drifted off again. "Sorry. So, um, is it okay?" If Jean had answered her question, she definitely did not hear her.

Jean rolled her eyes. "Yeah, it is." Her eyes narrowed. "A date?"

A blush crept up Flick's face as a grin formed on her face. Jean's heart fell a little. So, her friend was seeing someone. "Mega," she said with fake enthusiasm. "Who is it?" she asked nonchalantly. It was weird, this feeling that she was experiencing. Did she actually feel jealous?

"You'll see on Saturday. If she agrees to come, that is." Flick found herself missing Rei terribly. She wondered what her friend was doing at that moment and whether she should give her a call.

Jean almost spewed out her coffee when she heard the gender of Flick's date but managed to keep her cool. What was her problem anyway? She should be feeling happy for Flick. Both girls reached for their packet of cigarettes at the same time.

Flick decided not to call Rei as she lit up her stick of cigarette. What if Rei felt that she was coming on too strong if she called her too much? She might screw the whole thing up if she was not careful. Damn, this dating business was tough. It used to be so much simpler when there was less on the line, she thought as she exhaled a frustrated breath of smoke.

Jean, on the other hand, wondered who Flick was dating. She did not hear her friend mentioning anyone in particular all the times they were together, so it must have happened recently. If so, it must not be very serious. At that, Jean frowned. Why did she care? Had she fallen for Flick? She looked at her friend who, at that moment, was staring into space with a concentrating look on her face. Her hand moved from the ashtray to her lips with mechanical precision. Nah. Even though she did find Flick attractive, there was something other other than her physical appearance that she was drawn to.

"So," Flick broke the silence finally. "What do you want for your birthday?"

Flick's thoughts veered away from her dream and dark memories as their conversation proceeded. By the end of the night, she succeeded in locking away the dark thoughts once again. Memories were meant to fade. She only had to give hers time. She would just have to work harder at forgetting, she decided.


Rei ran the brush through her long, dark hair for the millionth time as her reflection stared back at her. She pursed her glossed lips together and adjusted her navy blue cotton shirt that had "No guts No glory" printed in white across her chest. When the expected and highly anticipated doorbell rang, her heart almost jumped out of her chest. She half jogged to the door and grabbed her coat on the way. "I'll get it," she said to her approaching sister-in-law who was there to baby-sit Lisha. Kezia gave her a knowing smile and returned to the couch.

The door opened to reveal a sporty looking blonde clad in a pair of gray slacks and a black Nike sweater with a hood. "Hey," Flick smiled, her eyes sparkling. "You look great," she commented, pleased to note the slight blush that grazed her date's face when she said that.

"You look pretty good yourself." Rei stepped out of her house and closed the door behind her.

"Thanks." Flick was wondering if she should accidentally bump her hand against Rei's or just grab it outright when Rei took the initiative and entwined their fingers. Oh dear, Flick thought to herself, this dating business is going to be the death of me. She felt light, as though she was walking on air whenever Rei was around. All her senses were heightened; the tingly feeling rushing down her side each time they touched or shared a look was something she hoped would never stop occurring.

Rei sighed happily into the night. She had been looking forward to this since they revealed their attraction for each other. It still seemed surreal to her. She snuck a peek at Flick and wondered if she felt the same. "So, how was the pub last night?" Rei inquired.

"Oh. We didn't stay long." The reason why they left came back to Flick and she stiffened slightly.

It did not go by unnoticed by Rei. "You okay?" she asked, concerned. "Wanna talk about it?"

Flick squeezed Rei's hand. Did she want to talk about it? "It reminded me of the times I had to go and get my dad from the pub back home," she confessed finally. "I don't know why I started thinking about that. It's not as if I haven't been to pubs after. . . after you know." She shrugged slightly.

"I'm sorry to hear that, hon," Rei said softly as she stroke the hand in hers with her free hand before lifting it to her lips. "I wish there's something I can do."

Flick looked up into those blue eyes and gave her a quirky smile, all the time wondering what this enigmatic woman saw in her. "You already have, Rei. Just by being here. You don't know how much you mean to me."

Rei grinned shyly at the small blonde as her pulse skipped a beat. "Well, as long as I know how much you mean to me." She rolled her eyes discreetly, wondering at how the incredibly mushy words came out of her lips with such ease.

She should have known that a date with Flick would be more than just a date. It was not what one did on a date to make it special; it was who you did it with. And with Flick, everything was special. The simplest, most commonplace thing was a unique experience. Sitting there by the water in the dark with the cold wind blowing at them intermittently, Rei could not think of any other place she would rather be.

Flick had produced a scented candle, two foot-long Subway sandwiches and a bottle of red wine from her backpack, making this the most romantic evening that Rei had spent for a very, very long time. In fact, Rei could not remember the last time she had felt this way. It was almost as if everything that she did, thought about or talked about had something to do with the little sprite seated next to her.

"Hey, you cold?" Flick asked worriedly when her friend was silent for a long while. Maybe this was not such a good idea after all. It had to be the worst idea for a date, she cursed herself profusely.

Rei turned to her date with a smile. "No. This is perfect, Flick. Thank you."

Those words made a very good combination, Flick decided with a smug inward grin. "You're welcome," she said before taking a huge bite of her meaty sandwich.

Rei watched her companion chew for a while and then reached over to wipe off a huge blob of tomato sauce at the corner of her mouth. "Thanks," Flick mumbled when her mouth was empty again. She motioned for Rei to tuck in as well. "Aren't you hungry?" Maybe she did not like what she got her. Maybe she turned vegetarian. Maybe. . .

Rei leaned over and covered Flick's lips with her own. After the initial surprise wore off, Flick allowed herself to be drawn into her date's embrace, inhaling the musky scent that Rei wore to perfection. She felt a hand cup the side of her face and she leaned into the warmth and strength that Rei exuded. Their kiss deepened and her thoughts became jumbled. If the world crashed then, it would not have mattered. God, it seemed like such an exaggeration when she read things like that in books but now that she was experiencing it herself, she had only one thing to say: those trashy novels were telling the truth!

Flames licked Rei's stomach as Flick skillfully maneuvered her tongue in her mouth. She was holding Flick so close to her that Flick was almost sitting on top of her but she was still dissatisfied with the distance between them. The hand cupping Flick's cheek shifted and started stroking her jaw line tenderly as she bit gently on her lower lip. The moan that drifted to her ears only served to fuel her desire for her friend.

They started pulling apart slowly, both breathing raggedly as they looked into each other's eyes. Rei smiled and looked away shyly. "Sorry. Didn't know what came over me," she murmured, not the least bit sorry for what she did.

"Don't be." Flick stroked the hand that was cupping her cheek mere moments ago. "I'm not." When Rei looked back at her again, she grinned. "And I know that you're not as well."

Rei chuckled softly. "You're right. I'm not. You've just kissed me senseless and all I can think about is how much I want to do it again."

Flick put her forgotten sandwich down, snuggled closer to her friend so that she was now sitting on her lap and put one arm around Rei's shoulders. Rei's arms immediately circled Flick's waist, effectively enhancing their contact. She shuddered involuntarily when Flick's forehead rested on her own and green eyes probed hers, searching for something and flashing as they located it. It was the certainty that this was something real and here to stay.

"Why think when you can do it?" Flick husked out. Not waiting for an answer, she brazenly captured full lips with her own. Her insecurities were diminishing by the second; Rei was attracted to her, Rei liked being with her and hell, Rei liked kissing her.

The flame on the candle was long distinguished by the wind but the couple neither noticed nor bothered about it; the fire they shared was blazing and it was doing a hell of a job keeping them warm.

"So it's not going to be a problem?" Flick sat cross-legged on her couch, combing her hair when Rei sat down next to her with two steaming mugs in her hands.

They had returned to Flick's apartment after making out for hours in front of the water. Rei was supposed to leave after dropping Flick off at her apartment but ended up sending her up to her doorstep and going in for a cup of hot chocolate. A quick glance at her watch told her that she should have been home half an hour ago but somehow she could not get her body to leave. Kezia would understand, Rei decided.

She handed a mug of hot chocolate to the snug looking girl who had just taken a bath and shrugged. "We'll just have to hide it really well," Rei said seriously before she took a sip of the hot beverage. "Remember the new position that I might take up?" Flick frowned and nodded when she recalled the conversation they had not too long ago, where Rei told her about an interview she went for. "Well, once everything's finalized, I should be gone by next semester."

Flick nodded slowly but her brows furrowed again at another thought. "I'm taking your course this semester. Is that going to complicate things?"

Dark brows furrowed. "Oh. Yeah." Rei couldn't believe that she had let that not-so-little detail slip her mind. What the hell was she thinking? Clearly, she wasn't thinking a lot when she blindly followed her heart. But now that she did. . . She glanced at Flick and a goofy smile engulfed her face. . . she wouldn't change a thing. They would just have to make things work. As they say, all things worth having are worth working for.

"Um, maybe it would be more convenient if I took another class," Flick suggested when she detected the note of worry in Rei's voice.

Rei hurriedly objected to that. "No! Why should you? You like what you're doing and everyone who has seen your grades know that you're doing it based on your abilities, not with help from me. Why should that change just because we are going out." She bit her lower lip, her mind racing for a solution. "Look," she said at last. "We'll just stay clear of each other when we're on campus. There's only about half a semester left; I'm sure it'll be all right. If anyone suspects anything. . . Well, I'll just tell them that I'm still with Vince."

Flick didn't really like that idea much but reckoned she could deal with it. As long as she knew that Rei was hers, it didn't matter what other people thought -- for now, anyway. Rei was risking her career for her; it was the least she could do to keep her unfounded jealousy in check. "Okay. . . I just don't want you to get into trouble. So I guess Jean's party is out?" She sounded a little disappointed. She was really looking forward to attending a social event with her partner.

Rei put her mug on the coffee table and snuggled up to Flick, resting her head on Flick's shoulder. "Mm. I've got some papers to grade anyway. . . I should be done by evening time. Come have dinner with Lisha, Kezia and I. I'll meet you after the party and we can spend some time alone together until Monday," she suggested, hoping that it would make up for Flick's downcast expression. Lisha was going to spend the weekend with Vince, leaving her two glorious days with her new love.

A huge smile stretched across Flick's face as she registered Rei's words. From Saturday night till Monday, huh? Fuckin' A. . . She was thankful that the next paper she had to do was due a month away. She could do some reading the next day before going over for dinner with the Conrads. "Sounds divine. I'll come by at six."

"Yeah?" The dark head lifted from her shoulder and she looked down into a pair of smiling blue eyes.

"Yeah," she confirmed as her head lowered, inexorably drawn towards Rei's lips.

"Yeah," Rei echoed as her eyes fluttered shut and their lips met. It was a perfect ending to a perfect date.


The banging on the door made the dartboard fall to the carpeted floor. She pulled her knees closer to her chin as tears of fear streaked her face. Sure, her father and her had fought before but now she no longer had the luxury of the knowledge that her father would not hurt her physically.

"Flick! Open the door, you bitch! Felicity Mitchell! I am your father and I demand that you open this bloody door!" His voice was slightly slurred but the message was clear.

Unnatural silence settled over the household for a few moments and she could hear footsteps going down the stairs. When they returned, her heart chilled at the familiar jingling sound of keys. "Fuck," she swore under her breath as she almost jumped to her feet. She looked around her room and contemplated pushing her desk towards her room door when the lock turned. Her gaze fell on her old tennis racket leaning against the side of the cupboard and she ran over to get it. She gripped the racket handle so hard that her knuckles turned white, all the while dreading what was going to happen.

A loud thud sounded against the door and some slurred mumbling could be heard. The key in the lock stopped turning and a sliding sound could be heard. Her father had passed out. The grip on the racket relaxed as Flick let out a relieved breath and a chuckle with no hint of humor in it. Thank God, she prayed. Thank you so much. She waited until she could hear her father snoring before she turned the knob of her room door, stepped carefully over the slumped man and ran out of her house.

Eyes blinked and blurred red figures came into focus. The clock read 4:08. Flick pushed herself up and sat on her bed. Why now? Why was she having these dreams now that she was feeling happy for the first time after what happened?

Terror stirred from his sleeping place at the foot of the bed and got up to stretch. He padded over to where his mistress sat and licked her face. She hugged the black dog to her and sighed. Then, she kissed his furry head and laid back down again. "Go back to sleep, baby," she whispered. Terror stepped around in circles on the space beside her and settled down again. His eyelids fluttered close long before Flick's did.

"Hello?" Rei panted slightly into the phone. She was opening her front door when she heard the phone ringing and had ran to the living area to answer the call.

"Rei? It's Vince."

Rei masked the small note of disappointment with a cheery greeting. "Hi there!"

Vince sounded a little uncomfortable on the other end of the line as he inquired what Rei was doing that evening. "Having dinner with the family," she told him, waving at her daughter who just came down the stairs.

Lisha walked up to her mother and gave her a hug. "Hey mum," she greeted before going into the kitchen. The sound of the fridge door opening was followed by sounds of someone rummaging through the fridge.

"Do you want to join us for dinner?" Rei invited her ex-lover after a moment's hesitation. She did say that they were friends and she really should put some effort into making a friendship work. It would not do if she kept thinking of Vince as her ex-lover and excluding him from her life.

The affirmative response sounded a little surprised but pleased nevertheless. "Well then, dinner's at six-thirty. I'll see you then, okay? I gotta use the toilet." At Vince's chuckle, she said goodbye and hung up.

"Vince is coming over for dinner," she announced to her daughter as she whizzed past her to get to the bathroom in the back. If she was not in that much of a hurry, she would have seen the happy smile Lisha wore and the almost inaudible "I know" she muttered under her breath.

"Kezia, why don't you just move in? I'd love to have you stay with us," Rei asked as she stirred the thick, creamy liquid in the saucepan.

Lisha chimed in from where she was seated. "Yeah, Aunt Kezia! It would be real nice if you'd come and live with us!"

Kezia walked over to where her niece was and sat down beside her. "I know. . . and I'd love to." Her eyes twinkled as mother and daughter registered what she just said.

"That's fantastic!" Lisha and Rei both exclaimed at the same time, causing Kezia to chuckle. Questions of when she wanted to move in, what she was going to do with her present place and how she wanted to do up her room was bombarded at her, making her shake her head in amusement.

"Okay, okay. Settle down, you guys. I'm practically living here already. I just need to move a couple of other stuff over and rent out where I'm staying now to someone else, that's all." Twin grins greeted her and she relaxed in her seat with a smile playing around her lips. It was lovely to have a family who cared about you; where your presence mattered to them and was wanted by them.

Lisha skipped out of the kitchen, saying that she was going to get changed before the guests arrived for dinner. Rei fussed with her soup whilst waiting for the casserole in the oven to be done. "So, you gonna tell me what's going on?" Kezia asked her busy sister-in-law.

Blue eyes regarded her with confusion. "Huh?"

"Flick. You're seeing her, right? Wanna tell me what's going on?" Kezia prodded.

Realization dawned upon the chef, replaced by worry. "Are you okay with it? I mean, I've only ever dated men. . ." she trailed off.

Kezia got up from her seat and walked over to Rei. "Don't be silly. Of course I'm okay with it. So tell me, is it serious?"

It never crossed her mind that Rei would worry about her acceptance. It was not as if she was living in the Dark Ages. She had friends who were lesbians. In fact, at one point of time, she thought that she might be inclined towards the female sex as well. But the experimentations told her otherwise and she now knew that she had either already missed the man of her dreams or he was still somewhere out there looking for her. Either way, it did not worry her.

The smile that appeared on Rei's face answered her query. "Yeah. Well, I mean, it's just. . . it's still new to us. But I'm pretty sure that it's not a fling. I know that I'm falling head over heels," she confided. Kezia was the first person that she was sharing this with. It was painful to care so much about someone and not have anyone to share it with. Now that Kezia knew and was okay with it, she could tell someone about how magical this relationship with Flick was. "We can't really announce it to the world yet because she's my student but. . . It'll be okay once I take up the new position in the other uni."

"That's good. I haven't seen you this happy for a really long time now, Rei. I'm happy for you. Now," Kezia glanced at the microwave clock. "Shouldn't you go get changed or something? I'll take the casserole out when it's done. Go, it's already five-thirty."

Rei gave her sister-in-law a grateful smile and handed her the apron. "Thanks. I'll leave it to you, then." Leaning over, she gave Kezia a small peck on her cheek before going up to her room, taking two steps at a time.

"Dinner was wonderful," Vince complimented, his hand on his satisfied belly. The other people around the table nodded in agreement as Rei blushed prettily.

"Thanks," she mumbled, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. Her long dark hair was pulled into a loose ponytail with her fringe framing one side of her face. She had on no make-up at all, looking fresh after the bath she had before coming down for dinner.

Flick had arrived right on time with an apple crumble tart and a brightly wrapped parcel in hand. Under the dark trench coat, her partner was dressed in a fitting black tank top and a rust colored skirt that fell short of her knees, a rare sight. Flick always preferred pants over skirts and dresses because she felt more comfortable in them, so the skirt was a huge and pleasant surprise. Just looking at her made Rei's mouth go dry. She longed to be alone with Flick so that she could hold her close and tell her how good she looked.


The brunette shook herself out of the daze when she heard her name being called. "Huh?"

"I asked if you're done. I'll do the dishes," Kezia repeated herself, her eyes twinkling at the flustered look on Rei's face.

It had been a most interesting dinner, Kezia decided. First, Vince had arrived. The attraction that he still held for Rei was obvious. It was understandable, though. Her sister-in-law was a very attractive woman. Even in the simple, fitting, white, cotton shirt that buttoned down the front and black pants, Rei was a vision.

Then, Flick arrived. Now, that was a sight to remember. The look on both women's faces when they faced each other held so much intensity that Kezia felt as if she was intruding. The desire between them was as evident as the admiration of each other's looks.

"Um. . . Yeah. Yeah, I'm finished," Rei stammered. She couldn't think clearly with Flick around and it didn't help that Flick looked so delectable. . . She looked up to see the object of her thoughts studying her with her head slightly tilted. It was all she could do to stop herself from dragging Flick into a private corner and. . . A slight blush crept up her face at that and she quickly terminated all indecent thoughts about a certain someone.

"Mum, Vince showed me a really cool card trick just now. Vince! Show it to her!" Lisha's voice successfully snapped Rei out of her wandering thoughts. She smiled tightly at her ex-lover, worried a little at Flick's uncomfortable expression, and allowed herself to be dragged to the lounge room by her daughter. It was going to be a long evening when Flick left for Jean's, she thought regretfully.

"Sorry we couldn't leave till now," Rei said in a soft voice as they walked towards her car. She was proud at her own quick thinking to give Flick a lift to Jean's.

Flick shrugged with a crooked grin. "That's all right. The party doesn't really start till late anyway. It was nice chatting with Kezia and Lisha."

Rei noticed that Flick did not say anything about Vince. "About Vince. . ." she started as she closed her car door and turned to face her passenger.

Instead of listening, Flick reached over to pull Rei's face close to hers for a much-desired kiss. "Mm." She licked her lower lip seductively after they pulled apart, her eyes sparkling with mischief. "Sorry. Had to do that."

Rei snickered as she stroke Flick's cheek softly with her knuckles. "We both know that you're not sorry." Her tone turned serious as she continued, "About Vince. . ."

Flick stopped her by shaking her head. "Hey, it's okay. Don't sweat it, okay?" She smiled sweetly. "It's cool to be friends with your ex. I just. . . I've just never gotten on with him, that's all."

Sure that Flick understood what was going on between Vince and herself, Rei nodded and pulled her passenger close again for soul searching, toe curling kiss.

This time, her hands started to roam a little lower, caressing the sides of Flick's breasts. A low moan was heard and Rei pulled her tongue from the sweet depths of her partner's and began planting soft kisses trailing like a blaze of fire from the edge of Flick's mouth and up her jaw line. She nipped at Flick's earlobe and smiled at the sharp intake of breath. The tip of her tongue snuck out to draw a hot, wet line down the same trail her kisses took previously and veered down to Flick's neck. She closed her lips on Flick's pulse point and began to suck slowly, scraping her teeth along the sensitive flesh.

The moaning got a little louder, sparking Rei's desire and serving as a warning bell at the same time. She lifted her face to Flick's and planted a few chaste kisses on her lips before pulling away reluctantly, knowing that if she did not stop, they would be doing something very indecent in her car that was parked on the street several paces away from her house.

Flick, on the other hand, was ready to explode with all the jarring sensations that rocked through her body. Her mind was both grateful and annoyed at the lull. When she finally registered that Rei was not going to continue their activity, she opened her eyes. She saw an evidently turned on but amused looking Rei studying her and began to blush.

Rei started chuckling and leaned over to tweak Flick's nose. "I guess we'll have to continue this later. . . in your apartment," she husked out suggestively.

Flick groaned. "Rei. . . you're gonna be the death of me. Stop laughing. Drive. Now," she commanded her friend who reached over to turn the car ignition. "Paybacks are a bitch, Professor Conrad. And you have a mega bitchy payback coming right up."

Something in Flick's voice and the blatant insinuation in what she was saying sent a shock down Rei's back. Her hand trembled a little as she pulled the car out of the sidewalk. "I can hardly wait."


"So why the sudden change in dressing?" Rei asked the girl whose hand was linked to hers as they made their way up the dark driveway of Jean's place, careful not to be seen by anyone.

Flick gave Rei a sideway glance. "You like?" she asked instead. At the brunette's vehement nodding, she chuckled. "That's why, hon," she leaned over and touched her nose to Rei's, pulling away before Rei could steal a kiss from her.

"Tease," Rei grumbled under her breath, her goofy smile undermining her complaint.

Flick either missed the comment or ignored it completely. "I hope Jean likes what I got her," she said instead, eliciting a smile from Rei.

"I'm sure she will, baby." Flick had dragged her down to the motorcycle shop a few days before and they had spent hours in there before Flick found something she was sure Jean would like.

Green eyes widened and a goofy smile came over Flick's features. "Say that again?"

"I said I'm sure Jean would like what you got her," Rei repeated herself, thinking that Flick really missed what she said.

"I know what you said, silly. Repeat what you called me."

Dark brows scrunched up for a moment in confusion and then Rei smiled. "Baby."

Flick shuddered pleasurably. "Ooh. I like that. How is it that you make the simplest things magical to me?"

Now it was Rei's turn to shudder. She lowered her lips to Flick's and stole a kiss before she let the blonde out of her arms regretfully. "Go," she said in a husky voice. "Call me when you're done." Rei watched as Flick was admitted to the house and sighed as she turned to go. She was willing to bet that Vince would still be there when she got back; the hours from now till she saw Flick again could not pass by fast enough.

Jean's glance flickered to a laughing Flick. The happiness on her face was evident. Even though a part of her was glad that Flick was happy, she had to admit that she was feeling jealous. She did not understand it at all; why did she feel jealous? She enjoyed Flick's company and got along very well with her. Flick was undeniably attractive but she was pretty sure that she was not attracted to her in that sense.

Growling under her breath, Jean turned her attention to the girl who was trying not to consciously look at her and she sighed inwardly.

Daphne and she had dated more than a year ago. She did like the slim girl but not to the extend of having a committed relationship with her. It was just a casual fling -- did she not see that? It seemed that Daphne had never truly gotten over her. She heard from Corben that Daphne was still waiting for her. Scoffing lightly, Jean lighted up a cigarette. Waiting? After more than a year? Was she that good a screw?

"Penny for your thoughts," a clear voice cut through her thoughts and she looked up to see a friendly face bearing down on her.

"Hey. Looks like you're really happy," she could not help but sound a little dour.

Flick looked at her a tad oddly. "Yeah. Why do you sound so unhappy about that?"

Jean shook her head. "No, I'm happy for you, really. It's just that. . ." she sucked in a breath and looked straight at her friend. "We're friends, right?" At Flick's nod, she continued, "Well, I guess I'm hurt cos' you never mentioned that you were interested in women before."

Flick relaxed a little at that. "Oh. Um. Well. You see. . ." She scratched her head, trying to figure out how to explain that to her friend. Trusting that Jean would keep her secret for her, Flick had told her friend who her date was and why Rei couldn't come to the party with her. Since then, Jean had looked a little sullen and she couldn't figure out why -- until now.

"I've never considered myself a lesbian and I probably still don't. I'm just attracted to Rei. Period. I never mentioned it because the topic never came up. And when I did mention her, it had only just started."

Strangely, she felt appeased by the explanation. "Okay." Jean seemed embarrassed. It was almost as if she needed Flick in her life or something. She never needed anyone since her mother died and she sure was not going to start needing someone now.

Jean was startled when Flick took her hand and said, "It really matters a lot to me what you think, Jean. I'd really like you both to know each other, when we don't have to hide anymore."

Not knowing what to say, Jean merely nodded mutely.

"Great." Flick let go of her friend's hand cheerfully. "I hope you like what I got you." Her expression turned excited and almost gleeful.

Jean grinned at that, relieved that the strange turn their conversation had taken was straightened out. "Yeah, I sure did. Thanks!" The black leather bike gloves that Flick had gotten were magnificent.

"Good." Flick glanced at her wristwatch and noted that it was well past one in the morning. "It's getting late, Jean. I'm going to get going. Happy Birthday. Call me soon, okay?" She reached over to give the lean girl a hug that was returned fervently.

"Thanks, Flick. I'll see you around. Have a good night," she said with a slight lift of eyebrow, causing her friend to blush. "Ooh," she could not help adding, "I can see that it is going to be a good night. Wonder if Professor Conrad is prepared for you."

"Aw, shut up, Jean." She looked around cautiously to see if anyone had overheard their conversation. No one appeared to be sober or interested enough. "Nothing of that sort is gonna happen," Flick defended herself even as she blushed hotly. "I just have to go call my ride." She walked away purposefully before Jean could come up with a reply and Jean's lips curled up in sardonic amusement as her gaze followed the trek of a beautiful, compact body disappearing into her house.

Rei closed her eyes under the running water, her lips pursed together in a faint smile. The last week or so have been amazing. Ever since Flick and she became 'Flick and her', she began to see so many sides of the blonde she had never noticed before.

Like how Flick blushed ever so easily. Her cheeks tinged everytime she caught her looking at her, everytime they kissed, everytime she said something Flick considered sweet.

Or how much a tease Flick could be when she gave her that suggestive look and then pulled away with a promising smile.

Most of all, she loved how Flick opened up so much more with her. Flick had always been nonchalant about what happened with her parents. She did not attempt to hide anything or refuse to say anything. Rather, she chose to not think about the entire episode that changed her life. But now, she was beginning to let Rei in more and showing her vulnerability more by sharing things such as dreams and fears with her. It gave her the same sense of pride that she felt the first time Flick shared her parents' deaths with her freely.

She now saw Flick for who she was and more. She saw the same Flick she had always known through the eyes of someone who cared for her more than a friend did. It enhanced her every quality and if possible, drew her more to the girl who, at this very moment, was in the next room.

Long fingers combed through her hair below the running water before reaching out to locate the knobs and cutting off the water supply. She was lost, she knew, like the water that just washed down the sewage pipes and she could neither do nor want to do anything to stop it from happening.

Exiting the bathroom with just a white terry robe on and a towel on her head, Rei found her companion sprawled on her stomach across her bed with her nose buried in her book. Soft strands of music floated to her ears. That, combined with the soft lighting in the room created a very cosy atmosphere. Terror padded up to her immediately and started licking the moisture off her bare legs, making her chuckle. She bent slightly to pat the dog. When she looked up again, she saw Flick studying her from her bed, her book forgotten. If the intensity of a gaze was literal, there would be twin blazes of fire burning from Flick to where Rei was standing.

"Hey," Rei smiled nervously, feeling like a prey being rounded up by the predator.

Flick grinned, walked up to where Rei was standing and circled her arms around the taller woman's neck. "Hey yourself." Her heart was thumping furiously against her ribcage at the sight and smell of Rei Conrad and her head was reeling with the possibilities the night might bring. She knew that she was not ready for sex but there were a lot of other stimulating activities a couple could do. And she did promise Rei a mega bitchy payback.

A small hand reached up and freed ebony locks from their confines, letting loose with them a distinct smell of shampoo that smelled so exotic on Rei.

Flick then led Rei to her bed and seated her friend before climbing astride her, settling comfortably on her lap, their breasts brushing against each other lightly.

A sharp intake of breath made Flick's lips curl up slightly. She leaned over to take the lips of the brunette that she never seemed to be able to get enough of, first softly and then more hungrily. The fire caused by the friction of their bodies and their tongues against each other started a trail of slow burning but all consuming fire that started from the tips of their tongues to a region down south. When Flick pulled away softly from Rei, she could see that Rei was as affected as she was. She did not want to stop but she had to. "Rei?" she whispered, her voice slightly panting.

"Uh, yeah?" Rei met Flick's eyes with her own, wondering why her partner wanted to talk now.

"Um, I. . . I've never slept with anyone before," she confided nervously as she averted her gaze. "It's silly, but I've always wanted to save it for marriage." She gave Rei a shy look before continuing. "Seeing that marriage is out of the question now, would you mind terribly if we didn't, um, you know. . . not yet," she trailed off uncertainly.

The tips of ruby red lips curled up the same time Rei's hands reached out for Flick's face. Cupping the angelic face in her hands, Rei made sure Flick was looking at her before she answered. "Of course I don't mind. Anytime you're ready, hon, you tell me. Just being with you is sufficient for me, okay?"

Flick nodded, relief showing on her face. "Thanks. I just want you to know that it's not that I'm not attracted to you. I am. . ." she rolled her eyes at herself more than at Rei when she continued, ". . . as if you can't see that already."

The older woman laughed, pleased. "It's nice to hear it, nevertheless. I'm just as crazy about you."

Glad that Rei understood and accepted her boundary, Flick leaned deeper into the warmth that was Rei and whispered, "Now, about that payback. . ."

Rei groaned as Flick pushed her onto her bed, her body tensing in anticipation. Her bathrobe slipped apart and warm hands began to stroke up and down her sides. The sensation was delicious and frustrating at the same time, leaving her legs feeling weak. Flick looked down at the dark hair splayed on her bed, her thighs clenching and unclenching Rei's hips as she lowered her face slowly.

Flick's kisses set Rei's blood on fire. When a tentative but hot mouth closed around her nipple, her brain almost short-circuited with pleasure. She was getting wetter by the second and nothing could stop the flood; damn if she was not loving every minute of it.

Part 4

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