A Place Called Home


d a m n a t i o n


For all disclaimers, refer to Part 1.


She ran her fingers through the smooth dark hair with a wistful smile playing around her lips. The owner of the long tresses stirred and sleepy eyes opened to greet the face hovering near hers. "Hey." Flick grinned widely, feeling deliriously happy for no other reason than being at that particular place at that particular time with this particular person.

Rei rubbed the sleep out of her eyes as she smiled. "Morning," she croaked, her voice still heavy with sleep. She slipped her hand around Flick's neck to draw her close for a kiss. Soft lips met hers and she sighed into the kiss. When her eyes reopened, all the sleep had gone out of them and blue eyes shone with a hint of desire. "You feel nice," she said huskily, chuckling at the slight tinge on Flick's cheeks. "Never knew you're so shy."

"Yeah well, you didn't behave this way with me before," Flick retorted and green eyes narrowed evilly. "Unlike someone who kept Terror up the entire night with her vocals last night, I do have a shred of modesty, thank you."

That made Rei blush and she flipped her companion onto her back. Bearing down on the pertinent blonde who fitted so nicely with her, Rei growled. "Play nice," she scolded.

Flick licked her suddenly dry lips. "Or what?" she challenged, her stomach fluttering with anticipation. This was how she wanted to wake up everyday: next to Rei. Well, she was not fussy with the position they were in. Next to her was just as fine as being entwined with her. Ooh, entwined was good. Very good. So good that the thought of it was making her a little hot.

Rei studied the flushed face under hers and started grinning maliciously. Flick squirmed a little under the totally evil looking grin with what seemed like an equally evil intent. "Um," she started, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable. When she felt fingers wriggling on her waist, a look of understanding dawned upon her and she started struggling as she giggled. "Oh no. No, Rei! Please, stop!" Flick laughed so hard that tears were forming in her eyes. "Rei, stop before I pee my pants!" she shrieked finally. Rei stopped in sympathy and rolled off Flick as they attempted to catch their breaths.

"Well, that was a good morning work-out," Rei said finally, throwing a glance at her flushed companion.

Flick rolled over and straddled the brunette. "You," she poked Rei's chest softly, "are very, very evil."

Rei reached up and stroked her friend's face. "And you," she whispered softly as the look of mischief seeped out of her eyes, "are very, very beautiful." She could not remember how life was before Flick; it simply was a blur. And now that she found her, she was never letting go.

Flick smiled wryly, caught off-guard by Rei's frankness. "You know, for someone who's complaining about my blushing, you're not doing a lot to prevent me from doing it."

"I wasn't complaining. . . I think you wear it real nice. I love it when you blush. Makes me feel good to be able to affect you that way." Rei could not remember the last time she felt so right with someone. She wondered if Lisha was going to have an issue if she told her about Flick and then mentally rolled her eyes. Of course Lisha was going to have a problem with it. Her daughter was so hopeful that Vince and she would get back together.

"Hey, you all right?" Flick asked softly, seeing the faraway look in Rei's eyes and the slight frown that was forming on her friend's face.

Rei fixed her gaze back on Flick and smiled, brushing her concerns aside. "Yes, I'm very all right. So, we've got the whole day together. What do you want to do?" There was no point worrying about all that now. Leaving Flick was not an option; come what may, they would get through it together. She could only hope that Flick felt as strongly as she did for her.

"Well. . ." Flick buried her face in the crook of Rei's neck, oblivious to the thoughts running through the head just above hers. "What I'd really like to do is to be like this with you the whole day. Every day," she spoke what was in her mind mere moments ago without thinking.

After a long, unexpected silence, Flick lifted her head from its comfortable resting place and looked down at Rei, a worried expression on her face. Did she say too much, too fast? "Hey, I'm. . . um, you. . ." she mumbled, feeling slightly sick in the stomach.

Rei reached up with her hand and stroke the fair cheek hovering so close to her softly. "You know, I was just wondering if you feel like I feel." She gave Flick a reassuring smile, realizing that her silence might have been taken the wrong way. "There's nowhere I'd rather be, baby. Nowhere I'd rather be if I could be with you."

She realized that there was never a declaration of any sort between Flick and herself, save for the line she said just before they shared their first kiss, and that did not count as much. Sure, they teased each other mercilessly and the heated looks and kisses that they shared and exchanged testified for the chemistry between them. But even though actions do speak louder than words, there were some things that just needed to be said.

Missing the look of wonder in Flick's eyes, she continued, "You make me feel so. . . complete; it's almost as if I don't need anything else. It scares me." She paused and her eyes connected with her companion's. "But it exhilarates me at the same time. Do you know what I'm talking about or am I just making a fool out of myself?" Rei quirked a nervous grin at Flick.

The blonde's mouth opened and closed a few times, but emitted nothing. Finally, she returned her head to the crook of Rei's neck and scented the skin there before whispering, "Ditto." Upon hearing the low chuckle, Flick wrapped her arms around Rei's waist tightly and closed her eyes as a feeling of contentment spread across her chest.


"Had a good weekend?"

Flick peered up at a smirking Jean. "It was all right," she murmured, cursing at the tinge she knew was appearing on her cheeks. Rei was right; even she herself did not know that she blushed so easily until recently.

Jean opened the slim box she had with her after she seated herself across from her friend. "Pepperoni and cheese, right?" The weird feeling that started after she found out that Flick was dating Rei Conrad had grown considerably after her friend left her party on Saturday. She could make no sense of the jealousy and it was getting on her nerves.

"Ooh, yum. I'm starving." Flick got up from the bench. "I'm gonna get a soda. You want one?" At the shake of Jean's head, Flick turned from the lunch that her friend brought and headed for the soft drink machine.

When Flick got back, Jean was halfway through the slice of pizza she was holding in her hand. "So, what did you do on Sunday?" Flick asked as she grabbed a slice of greasy, cheesy, meaty pizza for herself.

"I, uh, went to see my mum."

Flick stopped chewing. "Oh. Does she live here? I've never heard you talk about her before." Even though Jean and she were relatively close, they had never spoken about their families to each other before. Jean had always been a reserved person and, frankly, Flick was not all too enthusiastic herself to discuss her family. Flick eyed her slightly uncomfortable looking friend curiously. "Something the matter?"

"My mother passed away a couple of years ago. What I meant was that I went to visit her grave." Jean was being uncharacteristically open and it surprised her that she felt okay about telling the blonde opposite her things that she hardly ever told anyone. To everyone else, she was a loner by choice and that suited her just fine.

"Oh. I'm sorry," Flick lowered her slice of pizza, uncomfortable with the direction that the conversation was taking.

"You know, I never knew what to reply to that," Jean grinned wryly. "You tell people that your mum's dead and they say they're sorry. So what do you say to that? That it's okay? It's not okay. I hate it that she's gone."

The pain that lanced her chest was unexpected and Flick struggled to catch her breath. It was okay, wasn't it? She was over her parents' death, was she not?

"The shitty thing is that I'm the reason why she's dead. I'm a murderer." Flick stared at her unusually talkative friend in surprise.

"We were fighting. Again. I was out partying the entire night and didn't bother calling her. I thought she would have gotten used to it by then, but in a way, I reveled in the knowledge that she was probably fretting for me at home.

I called her names. I shouldn't have, but she just pissed me off. She used to piss me off a lot. She lost her temper and slapped me. I stormed out of the house. I didn't even see what happened. I was so stoned that I. . ." Jean trailed off, her voice taking on a wistful quality as she recalled what happened. "She got knocked down. She died on the spot. To think that I was there. I didn't even know."

Flick just stared at her friend, not knowing what to say. What could she say? Nothing she said would change anything; nothing she said could take that guilt away. Reaching over, Flick took her friend's hand in her own and gave it a squeeze. Jean at her dazedly, too caught up in her memories, almost surprised to see her friend there.

"I wish I had the chance to really get to know her. I wish I gave her the chance to get to know me. I wish I told her that I love her. . ." Jean mumbled, sounding like a lost little girl.

At least now she had something to say. "She knows, Jean. I'm sure she knows." And that was when Flick saw Jean cry for the first time.

"Damn, sorry about all this. Don't know what came over me," Jean said finally, after a huge breath.

They had ditched classes for the rest of the day and had gone to Flick's place to chill. It was a little too early for beer but it had seemed like the logical companion to Jean spilling her sorrows.

"No problem." Flick lifted her beer bottle away as Terror sniffed around inquisitively. "Baby, go play with your toy or something for now, okay?" she scratched the black cocker behind his ears and gave him a kiss on his furry head.

Terror trotted away to his water bowl and Flick returned her attention to her friend. She was on her third bottle of beer and was already feeling a little lightheaded.

"You know, when I first met you. . . well actually, the second time I met you; I didn't think I was ever gonna see you again after the first time. Anyway," Jean rambled in circles, trying to get her thoughts straightened out. "That night we went out drinking after we met in the tutorial?" She peered at Flick who gave her a small nod, acknowledging the memory. "I just felt this. . . weird connection with you," she continued, a tad nervously.

"Really?" Flick finished the slightly bitter tasting liquid in her brown bottle and grimaced slightly. She leaned back onto Terror's beanbag and lit up a cigarette.

"Hey, I thought you said no fagging in your apartment?"

Flick shrugged. "Well it is my apartment and I'm just too lazy to go out to the balcony." She blew out a puff of smoke. "And you were saying?"

Jean followed suit and lit up a stick of cigarette. "Um. . . nothing. Just that I felt this weird connection with you, that's all."

Flick shrugged from her comfortable resting place and turned to check on her dog. Terror was curled up in his cage near the kitchen. He had never liked the smell of cigarette smoke. "So." Flick turned back at Jean's voice. "What about your parents? I've never heard you speak of them before."

If she started talking about them, she would start to cry. She was so sick of crying. So sick of remembering. "It's gonna stay that way, if you don't mind," she said, a tad coldly.

Jean lifted her brows. "Hey, I was just asking!" The tone in Flick's voice hurt her. She had just shown her friend her most vulnerable side and now Flick behaved as though it did not mean anything.

"I know. I'm sorry," Flick said after awhile, her voice slightly slurred. She got up from her resting place and leaned forward so that her nose was almost touching Jean's. "I just don't feel like talking about it now, okay?"

Jean nodded slowly, her gaze fixed on the pair of lips not so far away from her own. She wanted so much to just lean in and capture them and the alcohol gave her the boost that she needed. It was just a kiss, her mind told her and her body acted.

It took Flick a few seconds before she realized what had happened. She pulled back in surprise. "Uh. . ." She blinked, not sure if what she thought had happened actually happened.

"Sorry. That was so not cool," Jean murmured, her eyes averted and her face flushed. Hell, that was embarrassing.

"I. . . I didn't know. . ." Flick looked at her friend uncertainly, hoping that this would not change their growing friendship.

"No, I. . . it was a stupid thing to do. I'm a little trashed and. . ." Jean shrugged. She was a little trashed and she did what she did best -- get physical gratification. Dammit! Flick was her friend! How could she?

"That's okay. Really." Jean looked at her friend in surprise. "I'm a little trashed too and if I weren't seeing Rei. . ." she trailed off, leaving Jean to wonder at what would have happened.

Jean smirked. "Okay. So we're cool, right?" Flick nodded. "So, would you date me if you weren't seeing Rei? Hypothetically speaking, of course."

Flick threw her cigarette into one of the empty beer bottles. "Well. . ." She scrunched up her nose. "Maybe. I don't know. Then again, if there was anything between us, it would have happened already. . . know what I mean?" Jean nodded.

The phone chose that moment to ring, startling the two girls and Terror. The black dog cocked his head to one side and got up immediately to follow Flick when she went for the phone. "Hello?"

"Hey." The familiar voice sent a shiver down her back and she broke into a grin unconsciously. "I didn't see you at lecture today. Just called to see if you're okay."

"Yeah, I'm okay. Jean and I decided to ditch classes so we came to my place and had a few beers."

"So early in the day?" Rei started chuckling on the other end of the line. "Well, you do sound a little tipsy. It's cute," Rei teased.

Flick giggled and glanced at her friend who was lying on the floor with her eyes closed and a cigarette in one hand. "Will you be free today?" They did not have plans to meet but were counting on making them when they saw each other in lecture that day.

"Actually I called to see if you wanna do something this afternoon. I can finish up in an hour."

Flick glanced at the clock. It was four in the afternoon. "That sounds good. Do you want me to meet you at your office?"

"That would be the best consultant session I'll ever have then," Rei said mischievously, making Flick blush. Rei chuckled. "I can almost see your blush oozing out of my receiver, baby."

"Oh you. . ."

"Okay, I'll be nice. I'll come by your place. I don't want my tipsy girlfriend wandering around in the streets."

Flick sat down on the beanbag, a thousand watt smile grazing her face. "Possessive now, aren't we?" Truth be told, she liked it very much when Rei addressed her as her girlfriend. "I'll see you then. Don't speed; I know how much you want to see your tipsy girlfriend."

Jean was looking at Flick with a lopsided smile when she hung up the phone. "Hot date?"

Flick shrugged, a smile still lingering on her face.

"I'd better go then." Jean sat herself up, feeling uncomfortable and conscious that she had just tried to kiss her friend not so long ago.

"Stay. Rei won't be here till a little after five anyway," Flick stopped her friend hurriedly. "And I did mean what I said the other night when I told you that I wanted you to get to know her. . . Maybe we can do dinner one day?" she suggested.

"Well. . ." Jean trailed off. She looked at her friend and saw that Flick really did want her to get to know Rei. Maybe it would not be that bad. "Okay. I'm just really sorry about earlier," she started but Flick cut her off.

"It's okay, really. We're both a bit trashed. Things happen." It was not as if Jean tried to force herself on her or anything. Friends kiss each other too. And truth be told, she had wondered if she could differentiate kissing Rei from kissing another girls. Now she knew. Even though Jean's lips were soft, she did not feel the same kind of passion she did each time Rei's lips touched hers. No. . . Rei was the personification of passion and she could not wait for five o'clock to come round.

Jean nodded. "Okay."

Flick gave her a light squeeze on her hand. "Great. Now get your butt off the floor and help me tidy up."


Flick was taking a shower when she heard the doorbell and Terror barking. Grabbing a towel, she wrapped it around her body haphazardly and rushed out of the bathroom, glancing at the clock on the way. It was only a quarter to five; she did not expect Rei to be that early. "Coming!" she called out when the bell rang again.

Expecting it to be an early Rei, she flung the door open without thinking and was aghast to see a teenage boy outside her door. "Um. . ." she gulped, wanting to run back into the bathroom. Terror ran out into the corridor immediately.

"Uh. . ." The boy's face was redder than hers was, if that was possible. "Delivery for Mitchell?" he said, not taking his eyes off the vision in a dark blue towel.

"T-that's me." Flick composed herself quickly, trying to be as dignified as she could. She finished signing for the delivery and looked at the still staring boy. She cocked her head, a little annoyed now. Sure, she was flattered that he was staring but it was getting a little chilly and she did not appreciate giving him a free show. When he did not move, she groused out, "So what is it that you're delivering?"

That seemed to get the boy out of his daze. "Oh, right. Um. . ." He bent down and picked something off the floor, hidden from Flick's view. "Here." He handed the wide-eyed blonde a a beautifully arranged bouquet of roses and baby's breath. The white wrapping was simple yet elegant, contrasting magnificently with blood red petals.

A familiar voice floated to her ears from somewhere behind the flowers in her hand. "Hope you like it." Flick lowered the bouquet, a huge smile forming on her face as she did so.

Rei came up from behind the delivery boy with Terror in her arms and saw a very wet Flick, clad in only a large towel. No wonder this boy was not moving. She cleared her throat, tapped him on the shoulder and glared at him. The delivery boy gulped and half sprinted away.

"I love it. Thank you. . ." Flick released her hold on the bouquet so that she could give Rei a kiss. Rei immediately dropped the black spaniel on his feet and ushered him into the apartment.

The taller woman pulled Flick against her body and lowered her lips. Her senses were assaulted the moment their bodies touched; a soft moan sounded in her ears, the blueberry scent of Flick's shampoo filled her nostrils and her lips tasted what she had been dreaming of since the minute Flick and her parted the night before.

Without breaking contact, Rei steered them into the apartment so that she could close the door behind them. She did not want anyone intruding on their private moment, especially not the delivery boy. He might still be loitering around for all she knew.

She never knew that it could feel so good to have a damp towel pressing against her clothed body. But then again, damp towels did not come with a hot, wet body in them previously. And this particular body pressing against her was hot.

They broke apart after a long while, both breathing raggedly. "Hello," Flick rasped out, loving the feel of Rei's arm around her.

"Do you have any idea what you're doing to me?" Rei asked with wonder in her voice.

"I'm too busy dealing with what you're doing to me to think," Flick answered, her voice low. Terror was scampering around them, looking for some attention. Flick glanced down and started laughing at her dog's antics. "Someone's feeling left out, Rei."

Rei gave the dog an indulgent smile. "I'll just go finish my shower, okay?" Rei nodded at the girl in her arms and gave her lips a soft kiss before releasing her.

She bent down to scratch the black dog and was rewarded with multiple doggy kisses. "Enthusiastic little bugger, aren't you?" Rei chuckled. She could hear the running water being turned off in the background and sat down on the carpeted floor, playing with Terror.

Minutes later, Flick came out of the bathroom in a black T-shirt and khaki colored, knee length shorts. She went straight to where she dropped the bouquet of flowers and picked the roses up. Rei watched her friend's actions and smiled at the smile that grazed Flick's face.

Flick walked over to where Rei was sitting and placed the bouquet of roses beside Terror who started sniffing at the flowers immediately. Blue eyes never left Flick and now they were openly staring into each other's eyes, drawn together by some strange force.

Flick was still feeling a little lightheaded from the alcohol, but now she felt clean, lightheaded and warm, a nice combination. "I missed you," she said with a smile as she slipped into Rei's open arms.

Flick sat sideways between Rei's trousers clad legs. Her legs were stretched out, over Rei's right leg, and her right arm circled the brunette's neck. Rei leaned back against the frame of the bed and linked her arms together at Flick's waist. She loved the way they moved so comfortably with each other, and how easily they seem to fit together. "I missed you too," she replied with a lazy smile. "You look really good with your hair slicked back," she complimented.

"Mm." Flick did not answer. She merely found the crook of Rei's neck that she had grown to love so much and rested her head there, her eyes closed and her lips curled into a smile.

A sound came from the stereo player at the corner of the room, signifying the changing of disc. Rei tightened her arms around Flick, sighing contentedly. A song that she vaguely knew came on. It had a nice beat and the lyrics that she could catch totally described the way she felt right then. "Nice song," she murmured.

When no answer came, she looked down to see that Flick was sleeping with a smile on her face. She took the opportunity to look at the girl she held in her arms. She tried to make out some of the lyrics.

. . . Every time that you are near
I just help can't help but stare
I'm dreaming of eternity with you

The beat was rather sexy, complimenting the female singer's voice.

Imagine all the things we'd do. . .

A smile of another nature touched Rei's lips when she heard that. It amazed her how excited Flick could make her feel just by being there.

. . . I can't fight it
want you and I can't deny it
it's just about the things you do
boy you knock me out

Not that she was going to fight it at all. Hell no. She wanted Flick so much that it hurt when they were not together. Her thoughts turned to her daughter and she sighed inwardly. Lisha had not been very pleased when she stayed over at Flick's without her. She looked down at Flick again and made a quick decision. She was going to let them spend more time together again. As much as she liked being with Flick alone, she did not want Lisha to feel left out. That way, it would be easier to tell Lisha about Flick and her.

Falling for you, baby. . . the woman in the song crooned.

Oh yeah, she was falling so deep so quickly and she was loving every minute of it.

Flick awoke, wondering for a split second where she was and why she was in a sitting position. She quickly saw that she was in Rei's arms and her smile widened. Her movement disturbed Rei's slumber and her partner came to as well. "Hey," she greeted softly. "Sorry I fell asleep on you."

"That's okay." They both shifted. Rei glanced at her watch. "Wow, it's already six twenty."

"Do you have to go?" Flick asked, dreading her friend's departure.

"In a while. I told Lisha that I'd take her out for dinner tonight." She had a sneaky feeling that Lisha had called Vince along but pushed that thought to the back of her mind. "Listen. Um, do you wanna come along? I'd really like you and Lish to spend time together again. . . you know, like before when we used to do stuff together? I've been really selfish, hogging all your time."

Flick smiled. "No you're not hogging my time. I love having you around. And yeah, that's a good idea -- spending time with Lish, that is. But I think I'll pass dinner tonight. Somehow I think she'd resent me being there." At the look on her friend's face, she hurried to explain herself. "I think she's already feeling as if you're neglecting her a bit, so tonight should be for you and her. We'll do something after your dinner?" she suggested, pleased to see the smile on Rei's face. "What?" she asked, self-conscious.

"I'm just thinking what a thoughtful girlfriend I have." Rei chuckled at the embarrassed look on Flick's face. "Flick, are you mad that I haven't told Lisha about us?" Her tone turned serious.

"Where did that come from? Of course not." Rei nodded. "It's gonna be hard for her to accept. . . and frankly, I'm a little scared. What if she hates me?"

Rei held Flick's insecure face in her hands. "She won't hate you, I promise. She just wants me to get back with Vince so much that. . . she'll probably hate anyone that I'm going out with now. I just have to find a way. . ." she trailed off, not knowing what to do.

Flick tucked a long, dark lock of hair behind Rei's ear. "We'll just see what happens, okay? Spending time together is a great idea. We'll just start from there."

"Thank you," Rei murmured, giving Flick a crooked grin. "Well, I better give Lish a call and tell her that I'll be picking her up soon. I'll call you once I finish and we'll do something tonight, okay?"

Rei pulled up at Lisha's favorite Italian restaurant and killed the engine. "You're not mad that I asked Vince along?" Lisha asked for the millionth time.

Rei rolled her eyes inwardly but gave her daughter a smile. "No, I'm not mad." Lisha smiled. "But. . ." The smile faltered. "I want you to understand something, Lish." Taking a deep breath, Rei hoped that what she was going to say would be clear. "I don't love Vince anymore. Actually, I'm seeing someone right now and I'm very much in love." In love? Yeah, she was in love. It happened so fast that she could not pinpoint when it was that she had fallen in love with Flick but the revelation made her insides feel funny.

Lisha's face fell. "I sorta guessed," she muttered. "Mum, I think I'm more angry that you haven't told me than anything." Rei looked at her daughter, surprised. "I hate not spending time with you and. . . I wanted so much for Vince and you to be together again so that we could all spend time together again, you know?"

Rei glanced at her daughter guiltily, finally realizing why Lisha was so adamant that she gave Vince a chance. "Honey, I'm so sorry. . ." She leaned over and pulled the small girl into her embrace. "I have been neglecting you and I'm really sorry. I promise, it will all change, okay?"

When they pulled apart, Rei saw the smile she didn't realize she had missed and it tugged at her heart. How could she have been so selfish all this while? She was so busy indulging in her need to revel in the warmth of her relationship with Flick that she had forgotten the most important thing in her life.

"So. . . you're not going to set me up with Vince anymore?" Rei still had to ask suspiciously. At Lisha's noncommittal shrug, she sighed softly. "Sweetheart, you know that I love you, right?" Lisha nodded slowly. "But you're really reminding me of my mum," she drawled, eliciting a shriek from her daughter.

"I do not act like an old woman!" Lisha cried out.

Rei nodded, her eyes wide and serious as she tried not to laugh. "Oh yeah you do," she deadpanned. Lisha pouted in her seat, her arms crossed in front of her. Rei peeked over and chuckled. "Okay I'm just kidding," she relented, getting no reaction from the girl. "Hey." She pulled at her daughter's long, lavender sleeve. "C'mon, be a sport."

Lisha waited till Rei was close enough before she stuck out her tongue and licked her mother's face, knowing that Rei hated it. "Eww!" Rei shrieked, pulling back so vehemently that she hit the back of her head against the window. "Ow. . ." she grumbled, rubbing her head, glaring at her giggling daughter. "I'll get ya' for this, you little. . ."

A tap on the window stopped her sentence and she turned to see that it was Vince. Oh hell. She gave him a smile and turned back to her daughter. "Let's go have dinner. I'm famished."

The pizza that they were sharing was delicious but her mind was elsewhere. She could hear her daughter giggling and she smiled fondly at Lisha before taking a bite of the pizza in her hand.

"So, how have you been, Rei?" Vince asked. He looked different, almost as if he had lost his snobbishness or something. It was a good look, she decided. He used to be so cocky and self-confident; now he just looked real.

"I've been good, and you?"

Vince shrugged, lowering his gaze. How did he begin? Life without Rei was not living at all. He missed her and he wanted her back and nothing he did could take his mind off her. He was obsessed, a feeling akin to when Frank and her were together. "I've been okay," he said instead. "I, uh, was wondering if the two of you would like to come over this weekend for dinner or something." He looked at Rei hopefully.

"I've got plans. . ." she said immediately. Her weekends will never be free again; Flick was permanently occupying that spot, and any other free spots that she had. She looked over to Lisha and added, "Do you want to join me, Lish?"

The small girl's face brightened. "Yeah! What are we gonna do? Am I gonna meet your new boyfriend?" she exclaimed excitedly, missing the look of pain on Vince's face in reaction to her outburst.

Rei chuckled. "It's a surprise, okay?"

Lisha nodded happily and turned to look at Vince, suddenly realizing that what she said might have hurt him. She took his large hand and whispered something into his ear, making him smile.

"I love you the best too, pumpkin," Vince replied in a raspy voice.

"Maybe you could come over to our place for dinner one night," Rei offered, a little concerned that she might have hurt Vince with her quick refusal.

He gave her a weak nod. "Sure. I'd love to." He sounded resigned. Maybe he was accepting the fact that they would never be together again. Now, Rei thought as she glanced at her watch, if only time would pass faster so that she could see Flick again.


The room was too hot. A hand reached up to pull at the collar of the sleeping shirt that Flick had on while she tossed in bed. Risking a peek at the clock radio beside her bed, she saw that it was already two in the morning. A light snoring could be heard from the furry body beside hers. Flick turned onto her stomach and attempted to find a comfortable position on the double bed, annoyed that her dog was sleeping so soundly when she was having trouble with even staying on the bed. The snoring beside her stopped immediately as Terror opened his eyes to investigate the movements on the bed.

"Sorry, baby," Flick mumbled as she scratched her dog's ear, not really feeling that sorry. At least now she was not the only one that was not sleeping. Getting up from her bed, she went in search for her cigarettes. Even if smoking did not help her sleep, it beats tossing and turning in bed; that just frustrated her no end.

The black cocker spaniel followed his mistress with his eyes, too lazy to get up from the warm spot on the bed. He cocked his head as the balcony door slid open and was finally tempted enough to get up. Jumping from the bed, Terror padded over to where his mistress was and went straight for the stray leaves on the balcony, sniffing to see if there was anything edible.

"Terror. . ." An annoyed voice reminded him that he was not supposed to eat those long crunchy things and the dog stopped in mid-chew. "Please don't eat the twigs." Hm. He sniffed at the white stuff coming out of his mistress' mouth and backed away, disinterested.

Flick smirked at her dog. The night sky was cloudy, hiding the stars from the world. The smoke coming out of her mouth came into her vision, blurring the view. It had been almost two years since she left her hometown but each day of trying to forget just made her remember more on the occasions that she was reminded of her life when her parents were alive.

She still felt that odd jab of pain in her chest and the hated stinging behind her eyes when she thought of the past and the dreams were making it harder to get on with her life. She had gotten on with her life, had she not? She had an apartment, was completing a degree in a year's time, had a dog, had new friends, had Rei. . . Then why was she still unable to think of her parents and smile?

The cigarette was stubbed and another was lit. She was suddenly reminded of something that Jean said the day they had gotten slightly trashed at her apartment; something about a connection. . . Flick frowned, blowing out the smoke unnecessarily hard as she did every time she felt frustrated. Maybe talking to Penny would clear her mind some. Making her decision, Flick stubbed out the remnants of the cigarette and went back into the apartment with Terror close to her heels. This time, she was in search of the phone.

"Hello?" The voice that answered the ringing apparition was heavily tainted with sleep.

"Rei? It's Vince."

Rei yawned and peered at the smiley face clock that Lisha had given her for Mother's Day. "Vince, it's almost three in the morning!" she said accusingly, indicating that he should have known better than to ring her at that hour on a weekday. She had a nine o'clock lecture in the morning and she needed her sleep.

Vince sounded uncomfortable. "Rei, I need to talk to you. I need to see you."

"Is everything okay, Vince?" He did not sound quite right. Maybe he was sick or something. Rei rubbed her eyes in an attempt to keep awake.

"No. Everything's not okay. I just. . . I have to see you. Please?" The surgeon pleaded, his voice strained. Rei frowned.

"All right. When?" she acceded. Maybe he just wanted to talk. He did not sound too good; maybe he was having problems with his practice? Rei just hoped that it was not going to be about the two of them.

"Can I come over now?" Vince asked hopefully.

"What? Now? No! It's too late, Vince. I've got an early lecture tomorrow." Rei rolled her eyes, slightly irritated with Vince's lack of consideration.

"But I really need to see you, Rei. . ."

What the. . . Was Vince sobbing? Rei sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. She felt guilty for saying no but it would be too awkward having him come over to her place at this time. Actually, it was still a little weird being with him without Kezia or Lisha around. "I'm sorry, Vince. Can we talk tomorrow instead? The lecture ends at ten. I could drive over to your place if you want," she offered.

"Okay," Vince relented. "I'll see you at my place. Ten thirty?"

Rei agreed and hung up, turning onto her side and squeezed her eyes shut. Feeling rather awake now, she reached for the phone impulsively and dialed a familiar number, telling herself that she would hang up if the phone was not picked up by the third ring.

"I really don't know," Flick mumbled. Terror was back on the bed sleeping, whilst Flick chatted with her best friend. "I don't want to think that it's a problem. What am I saying -- it's not a problem. I just need to give it more time," she said to Penny but was really trying to convince herself.

"Flick, maybe you should see a therapist or something," Penny suggested. She was definitely not in the right position to affirm with or defer from how Flick should feel. She did not think that it was a problem but then again, her parents were alive and well.

"No way. I hate those fancy doctors. Aw man, I wish you were here." Flick crossed her legs and cradled the phone between her face and shoulder as she fidgeted with her nails.

"Yeah, me too. Actually, I was thinking of transferring."

Flick's eyes lit up in the dark at that and she clasped at the receiver. "Yeah? That would be fucking A!" She grinned enthusiastically. It would be fantastic if Penny was here with her. A foreign tone sounded in her ear, making her miss Penny's comment about her and her weird little phrases. "Oh, um, hang on I've got another call."

Switching over to her second line, she wondered who would be calling at this ungodly hour in the morning. "Hello?" she answered cautiously, hoping that it was not one of those perverted calls that Penny had received before, asking dirty questions.

"Hey baby. Did I wake you?" On the contrary. . . Flick reckoned she would be the one initiating a dirty conversation with this caller.

"Hey. . ." She smiled into the receiver shyly. "No you didn't wake me. I'm talking to Penny." A quick glance at the clock radio told her the time. "Rei, it's three. You have a lecture at nine," Flick reminded her girlfriend, nevertheless pleased that she rung. "But I'm not complaining. Did I ever tell you that I love your voice?" Oh yeah. Gotta love that voice.

The warm chuckle made her smile even wider as she climbed back onto her bed and slid under the covers. "No. But thank you. And yes I know I've got an early class tomorrow but Vince called and I can't get to sleep now," Rei complained in a childlike voice. Flick could almost see her tall lover pout.

"So you thought by calling me, I could help put you to sleep? Should I be insulted?" Flick teased. Should she ask why Vince was calling Rei at this time in the morning?

"No. . . I just missed you terribly and wanted to hear your voice, that's all." Rei just had a way with words that made Flick feel like melting within.

"You wanna come over?" Flick suggested suddenly, wanting to see Rei. Hearing no answer on the other end, she quickly amended herself. "On second thoughts, it's probably not such a good idea. It's three and you need to slee-"

"Are you retracting your invitation?" Rei interrupted, sounding amused.

"No. . ." Flick trailed off. "So you wanna come over?" she asked again, her heart racing slightly at the anticipation of seeing her partner. Talking to Rei made her say stupid things and being with Rei made her act weird but they came together in the same package whereby her thoughts and actions were determined by her heart and not her head.

"You know I do. I'll see you soon?"

At that, the silly grin that was permanently fixed on her face whenever she was around Rei surfaced and she felt like the village idiot. A very happy village idiot. The knowledge that someone you wanted badly wanted you just as badly felt so darn good. "Hurry," she said before Rei hung up.

Flick was still grinning madly to herself when she remembered that Penny was waiting for her to get back to her. She switched the line over hurriedly and started apologizing profusely to her grumbling friend.


The radio station was playing an old hit by the Scorpions and Rei was humming along to it. She signaled right and pulled up into Vince's driveway, half dreading meeting with the surgeon but knowing that she had to get over being awkward when she was around Vince. It could not be helped; she was just reacting to his behaviour and he was not making it easier for her.

Rei sighed as she got out of her car. Walking up the driveway brought a nostalgic smile to her face. Vince and her had some happy times together. Why couldn't he just leave it at that?

Rei found the door to Vince's house open. "Vince?" she called out, suddenly feeling a little nervous as she walked down the dim hallway. "Are you there?" All the blinds in the place were probably down, Rei thought. "Vince?" she called out again, this time feeling slightly worried. Maybe the surgeon as injured somewhere? With all those thoughts floating around in her head, she did not hear the soft footsteps coming from behind her.

She let out a scream when two strong arms grabbed her from behind, snaring her in a tight embrace. The strong smell of alcohol wafted to her nostrils and sent her heart racing. "Vince?" His arms did not allow her to turn and his silence was making her scared. His breath came close to her ear as he nuzzled her neck. "Vince, what are you doing?" The rather intimate contact was making her feel weird and all she wanted to do was to get out of the embrace.

"Ssh. . . don't talk. Please. . ." Vince's voice was raspy and slightly slurred as he implored his ex-lover to let him speak. "Just feel me, Rei. Feel me against you. Feel how good we are together and tell me that you've realized your mistake. I need you in my life, Rei."

Rei looked around wildly, feeling strangely vulnerable in this position. "Vince, let me go," she said firmly, trying to keep the tremor out of her voice. When Vince did not budge, she tried again. "Vince, you're hurting me. Please let me go."

This time, the arms loosen a little, allowing her to move away from him but not out of the embrace. She turned to face him and quickly regretted her decision. It put her lips far too close to his.

The surgeon must have noticed the same thing as well and he crushed their lips together in a rough kiss that broke with a hiss when Rei bit his lower lip. "What the fuck?!" Vince pulled back, surprised at the pain. Rei took the opportunity to move away from the man and she wiped her lips.

"Don't you dare do that again!" Blue eyes flashed, enraged. Her heart was pounding so hard in her chest that she would not be surprised if it popped out any second.

"I'm sorry." His voice was subdued as he held a hand to his lip. "I've been drinking and. . . Goddamit, Rei! You know why I did it! I still love you! I hate it that you're getting on with your life whilst I'm stuck in my one-sided love for you. Who is it that you're seeing? He can't be better than me. Only I love you this much, Rei! Only me!" Vince's voice grew louder with every sentence and by the end of his declaration, he was shouting loudly.

Coming here had been a mistake, Rei decided. How could she ever look at this man in the face without feeling unsettled now? She remained silent.

"Rei?" Vince sounded like a small boy. "Rei I'm sorry," he murmured when Rei did not answer him. "We belong together. You just have to see that. No one can give you what I can give you. We're perfect together. You made a mistake with Frank and now you're making another mistake. But you'll come to eventually like you did before. I know it."

Rei looked up at her ex-lover disbelievingly. "Vince, what can I say in order to convince you that I know for sure that we're not going to be together? I'm in love with someone else, Vince! What we had was beautiful but it's in the past. And don't you dare bring Frank into this; he was not a mistake and I will not allow you to call it that! If he was still alive, we'd still be together. There would not have been a possibility of me ever choosing you over my husband, Vince."

Dark eyes narrowed. Vince's usually well-kept goatee had grown out into a beard and his dark hair had grown longer, making him look more menacing than before. "I can never measure up, can I? Why, Rei? What did Frank have to offer that I didn't have? What does this new guy have to offer that I don't? I love you, Rei. I love you with all my heart and I just can't let it go without a fight!"

Rei's demeanor softened when she saw the tears that threatened to spill out of Vince's eyes. Maybe she had been too callous towards his feelings. "Vince, you're not any lesser than Frank. I loved you. . . and I still do. I just. . ." She struggled to find the right words to express how she felt. "Our relationship evolved into something platonic. I'm not sure if that's what happens with all relationships or whether I'd really still be with Frank if he's still alive but what I know is that my feelings for him were real and I will not allow you to tell me otherwise." Vince hung his head.

Rei leaned forward and cautiously placed a hand on the dark man's arm. "And I also know that my feelings for you were real. They've just changed, that's all. And I really do hope that we can be friends. Why can't we care for each other like we used to when Frank was around?"

It took Vince a long while before he raised his head and when he did, he turned away from Rei and brushed his forearm across his eyes. With his back still facing Rei, he took a deep breath and sighed. "Sometimes I really hate you," he said finally in a low voice. "I saw the way you were with Frank and I really, really envied him. And when you finally gave me a chance to be with you, I told myself that I would make this last forever."

He turned, smirked at Rei and looked down at his two hands that were clasped before him. "It was going to be so good; we were going to be so good. Finally, you were going to be mine, forever. But you took it away from me." He looked straight into watery blue eyes that held so much emotions and he started feeling angry. "Why, Rei? It was all I ever wanted. You were all I ever wanted."

It was wrong. How could she justify herself? Did she have any need to justify herself? "Vince I can't tell you how sorry I am for all the pain I've caused you but feelings just can't be explained. I wish things were different but they're not. There's no right and wrong when it comes to emotions and I certainly cannot justify the way I feel. All I can say is that I'm sorry but I don't feel for you. . . that way. . . anymore."

Vince nodded slowly, allowing all the words to sink in. "Who is it?" he asked in an eerily calm tone.

"Who is what?" Rei asked, confused.

Vince gave Rei a mirthless smile. "Who's the lucky guy?" He strolled over to his bar counter and took out two glasses. "Drink?" He lifted a brow in question.

Rei shook her head. "I have a lecture at twelve." She bit her lower lip, debating if she should tell Vince about Flick. She tucked her stray hair behind her ear and ran her hand down the length of her ponytail. Maybe if she kept real silent, he would forget the question.

No such luck. "C'mon, Rei. Tell me. I promise you I won't hurt him or anything like that." The surgeon came over with a glass of clear liquid for Rei and a glass of Jack Daniels for himself. "It's water."

Rei took the glass from him. If she refused to tell Vince, he might take it the wrong way but if she did. . . Hell, if he really wanted to know he could find out even without her telling him and that would be worse, would it not? "Flick."

Vince did not seem to comprehend what Rei was saying. "Huh?"

Taking a deep breath, Rei repeated her answer. "The person that I'm seeing. It's Flick." She forced herself to look at Vince.

"What?" To call his expression 'incredulous' would be an understatement. "You're seeing Flick? Flick as in the girl, Flick? It's not enough that you dumped me but you have to turn fucking queer on me?" The surgeon started laughing. Maybe all was not lost yet; Rei could not actually believe that she could last forever with a girl, could she?

She could feel her blood boiling. "Yes, Vince! Flick as in the girl, Flick." Rei sneered. "And I haven't turned into anything. You're talking as if I've become a different person just because I happen to love someone who is of the same gender as I!"

"I knew she was trouble!" Vince did not seem to have heard anything that Rei had said. "Rei, we just have to get you some help. That fucking queer shouldn't have come into our lives in the first place!"

At that, Rei stalked over to where Vince was standing and dumped the contents of her glass on his shocked face. "What the fuck?!" Vince looked down at his wet shirt and back up at his ex-lover.

"Don't you dare speak of her that way. What, did you think that just because I'm seeing a girl, it's just a passing thing that could be solved with a few sessions with the psychologist?" Rei clenched the front of Vince's shirt and pulled his face close to hers as she spat out the rest of her speech, "If you still entertain any hopes of being in my and Lisha's lives, then I suggest you change your attitude towards the woman I love."

Rei turned on her heels and stormed out of the house wondering for an instant if she should worry about the information she had just relinquished to Vince.

Part 5

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