Mac walked into her mother's house
and smiled. "Mama, I'm home," she called through the house. "Are you here?"
A woman with red hair walked out of the kitchen and saw Mac. "Ann, you're here," she smiled.
"Mama. You know I hate being called that," Mac blushed. "Where is everybody?"
Kirsten walked over to Mac and hugged her. "You come all this way, and you don't even give your own mother a hug? What did they teach you in that school over there, huh?"
"No shcool bashing Mama. I'm out remember?" Mac then glanced over her shoulder. "These are two friends of mine. Sa... Sae, um... Bijin. That's right, Sae Bijin," Mac said pointing to Sage. "And this right here is Rowen Hashiba."
Kirsten looked at Sage and Rowen and smiled. "Well, these two must be pretty special if you want to stay in Japan with them."
Rowen looked at Sage and held back his laughter. "Well, Ms. Davenport, Mac's a great friend. Sae was just saying this morning that if Mac wasn't around, she'd loose her mind," he said.
Sage shot Rowen a dirty look. "That's low. Buttering up her mother at my expence? What else would he sink to?"
"I was already told that you were a nice young man Rowen. And Ann is lucky to have met someone like you," Kirsten said.
"Mama, could you please stop calling me by my middle name? it's embarrassing," Mac blushed.
Sage leaned over to Mac. "Now you know how I feel," she whispered.
"Aunt Kirsten, when's Mackenzie Ann gonna get here? I wanna get going," a young man about Rowen's age asked. He walked out of the kitchen and saw Rowen, Mac and Sage. "Hello," he said charmingly.
Mac's eyes widened. "Mama, you didn't say Remy was gonna be here," she said.
"I didn't know you wanted to know," Kirsten said.
Remy looked at Sage and walked over to her. "What's your name?" he asked.
"Sae Bijin," Sage said shortly.
Remy looked at Sage and smiled. "For someone from another country, you speak English very well."
"Thank you," Sage said. "But Mac's not the only member of our group who had family in America."
"Well then, maybe you should tell me about them," Remy smiled.
Sage's eyes widened as she felt Remy put his arm around her shoulder. "Maybe not," Sage said trying not to be mean.
"Remy, perhaps you would like to help Mama in the kitchen?" Mac asked.
"Nonsence Mackenzie Ann. I'm sure that Sae would like a Tour of the house. She will be staying for awhile, right?" Remy looked at Sage with bright blue eyes.
Sage looked at Rowen for help, but found none. "Great, some best friend he is. Can't he get this guy away from me? No, Rowen's too busy trying not to laugh his ass off."
Mac pulled Remy away from Sage. "Remy, go help Mama," she ordered.
Remy looked at Mac, and then Sage. "I'll see you later Sae," he winked.
Sage looked at Rowen and Mac in horror. "This can't be happening to me," Sage whispered once Remy and Kirsten were in the kitchen. "First, I wake up as a woman, then, I'm dragged into Victoria's Secrets...."
"Dragged, cute word choice... Sae," Rowen teased.
Sage shot Rowen an evil look. "Now Mac's cousin likes me? The only way this could get worse, is if Nikki leaves me."
Mac put her hand on Sage's shoulder. "Nikki's not leaving you for anything."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
An hour later, Nikki, Karyn and Cye
walked into the front porch of the Davenport house. Karyn looked at Nikki
and smirked. "Are you felling better now?" she asked.
Nikki nodded. "I guess so. Let's get this over with."
Cye looked at Nikki as Karyn looked for the house key. "You and Sage are too much a like to ever break up," he mused.
"Why do you say that?" Nikki asked.
"Because, the two of you are a part of each other."
Karyn held up a hose key and smiled. "Got it," she said.
Nikki watched as Karyn opened the front door of the house. "I can't wait until this is all over," she thought.
"Neither can I," Sage thought.
Nikki's eyes widened. Even though Sage's voice was high pitched as a female, in her mind Sage sounded like the Sage she fell in love with. "Sage, I hope this means what I'm hoping it means...."
"Afraid not Nik," Sage said as she walked to the front door. Sage saw Nikki's eyes widen with hope and then turn thin and bitter. "How was your trip?" Sage asked trying to avoid Nikki's gaze.
"It was okay," Karyn said trying to hide Sage from Nikki's gaze as well. "Come on, I'll introduce Cye and Nikki to everyone."
"Before you guys go in, I'm not Sage," Sage said.
"Would you like to say that again?" Nikki requested.
"Mac told her mother that my name's Sae Bijin. I guess Mac told Kirsten a lot about us." There was a long pause. Sage looked at Nikki. "Can I talk to Nikki alone?" Sage asked out of the blue.
Karyn looked at Sage strangely. "Are you sure?"
"It's okay, I'll be fine," Nikki and Sage said as one.
Sage walked out onto the porch as Cye and Karyn walked into the house. "What's been bothering you so much?" Sage asked once the door was closed.
"What's been bothering me?" Nikki replied in Japanese. "Take a good look at yourself Sage. You are in a woman's body. You're supposed to be my fiancee. How do you explain something like that to yourself without becoming upset?"
Sage looked at Nikki. The entire trip she was speaking English, and was becoming very good with the language. But the fact that she was now speaking Japanese was a sign that she had become very upset. "Nikki, I know you're a little upset with me..." Sage began in English.
"A little upset?" Nikki repeated still in Japanese. "The only reason I haven't taken off your head, yet, is because we're in another country." Nikki looked at Sage and shook her head. "How could you be so stupid as to go and try and get your palm read? You were told by Kathy and Gwen, not to go into places that deal with black magic. I thought you learned your lesson with Talpa. But no, you had to go and just see what it was like. And now look at you. Damn it Sage, you're wearing a dress. My dress. I don't believe that I'm standing here saying this to you."
Sage looked at Nikki as she started to cry. Sage was about to reach for her, when she stopped. "I'll be right back," Sage said lowly. She then turned and walked into the house.
Nikki walked back to the mini-van and wiped her face. "The baka. He should have known better," she whispered. Nikki then felt two arms wrap around her. She quickly turned and saw Rowen looking at her.
"Sage will be fine," Rowen said hugging her.
Nikki started to shake her head. "Why is this happening? What did we do to deserve this?" she Cried.
Rowen held Nikki as she cursed Sage in Japanese. "You just have to believe that eyerthing is going to work out," Rowen told her.
Nikki looked at Rowen as he smiled brightly at her. "And you," she said bitterly. "I told you to leave Sage alone. I told you that he's having a tough time as it is, but you can't seem to listen," Nikki said before hitting Rowen in his arm.
"Ow, that hurts," Rowen said holding his arm. "Nikki, calm down. Now you're the one who's over- reacting."
"Am I really?" Nikki asked. "Let's see you if Mac was turned into a guy."
"Nikki, stop it," Cye said as he walked over to her and Rowen.
Nikki looked at Cye, and then Rowen. Nikki folded her arms and looked at the house where she saw Sage and Karyn watching the entire scene. Nikki then took off her engagement ring and handed it to Cye. "When Sage is Sage again, tell him to come and find me." Nikki then turned to Rowen. "Tell Mac I'm sorry." She then turned and started walking down the street.
Tears ran down Sage's face as she watched Nikki walk away. "I lost her, haven't I, Ren?" she asked Karyn.
"Sage, everything's going to be fine. It will all work out," Karyn said hugging Sage. "It has to."
Remy walked out to the hallway and saw Sage crying. "What's wrong Sae?" he asked.
"Kami, not him again." Sage looked up at Remy and wiped her face. "Nothing that has to do with you," she said shortly.
"But a beauty like you shouldn't be crying like this."
"I'll live." Sage turned away from Remy. "Keep it up, and you won't be able to say the same."
"How about we all go out and play a game of pool?" Mac suggested as she walked out of the kitchen. Mac then looked at Sage and saw the tears in her eyes. "Where's Nikki?"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nikki walked until she reached the
docks. With tears running down her face, Nikki walked over to a street
musician, and wiped her face.
"Well,well. What's a pretty lady like you doing out here all alone like this?" he asked.
Nikki looked at him and smirked. "I can take pretty good care of myself." She looked at the small pot he sat out for donations and dropped a dollar bill in it. "What are you playing?" she asked.
"The Blues. I'm called Max... and you are?"
"I'm Nikki," she smiled as she shook his hand. She noticed something strange about his whole appearence. He was tall, with short pale blonde hair. If she didn't know any better, Nikki would say that it was white. His eye matched hers for the most part. A pale blue hue, that seemed natural on him, and foreign on her.
Max looked Nikki over and smiled. "You don't look like you're from here."
"I'm not. I'm from Japan."
"Oh." Max smiled brightly as he looked at her. "So, Miss. Nikki, is there something you would like me to play for you?" he asked.
Nikki looked at Max. "I don't really know any American songs. I'm sorry," she said.
Max nodded. "Why were you crying?" he asked. He saw Nikki's expression change, and slightly frowned. "You don't have to say if you don't want to."
She looked at Max and shook her head. "I just broke up with my fiancee. We've been having... problems, you could say. And tonight I was just sick of it."
Max fixed the saxophone around his neck. "Well then, he was a fool to let a pretty little thing like you go." Max put his instrument to his mouth and started to play.
Nikki watched Max play, when she felt something hit her face.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sage sat on the floor of a nearby pool
hall, with Karyn and Mac at her side. "What happened?" she asked.
Mac picked up the cue ball next to Sage and showed it to her. "Next time I tell you to duck, duck."
Karyn looked at Sage and shook her head. "Are you okay?"
"I guess so," Sage answered. "I hope Nik didn't feel that. It hurt."
Remy walked over to Sage and picked her up into his arms. "Sae, are you all right?" he asked.
Sage looked at Remy bitterly. "Put me down, or I'll be forced to hurt you," she said bitterly.
Rowen and Cye walked over to Remy. "I'll take her," Rowen said taking Sage away from Remy. "This guy doesn't know any better Sage. Take it easy on him will ya?"
"You're not the one he's trying to hang all over, now are you?" Sage snapped. As Rowen put her down, Sage hit Rowen in the same place Nikki did. "And you're not helping me either."
"That really hurts," Rowen said rubbing his arm. "Look. If I protect you from this guy every five seconds, how are you supposed to learn your lesson?" Rowen asked in a whisper.
Sage looked at Rowen. "I hope Nikki's not lost or anything," she said.
Rowen looked at Sage and shook his head. "Don't worry about Nikki. She'll be fine. Just worry about getting her back."
Sage nodded. "Just tell mac to keep her cousin away from me."
Rowen handed Sage a pool stick. "Here, it's your shot," he smiled.
Sage took the stick and leaned over the pool table. As she aimed for her ball, Sage look up and saw Mac and Karyn. They were both pulling at the top of their shirts. Sage looked down and saw a good amount of her chest hanging out. Sage quickly stood and looked at Cye, who was turning a bright red. "Cye, I'm kinda cool. Can I borrow your jacket?" Sage asked.
Cye quickly removed his blue jacket and handed it to Sage. "Here you go Sae," he said.
Sage put the jacket on and zipped it up to the collar. "Alright, let's try this again," she whispered.
Remy looked at Sage and smiled charmingly. "If you want, next time, I'll keep you warm."
Rowen looked at Sage and started to chuckle. "Hey, I think he really likes you," he whispered.
Sage took her shot and looked at Rowen. "Listen Blue-boy. If you're not going to help me, don't make things worse," she said in Japanese. Sage then raised one eyebrow and looked at Remy. "And to think, I used to think that was charming."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nikki and Max walked along the pier
talking. "So, where do you live?" Nikki asked.
Max smiled. "Take a look around Nikki. The streets are my home. That's why I always play on them."
"How do you..."
Max looked at Nikki and took her hand. "Come on, there's some place I want you to see."
Nikki looked at Max strangely. She then smiled and followed him to a small building. "What is this place?" she asked.
"This is the 'Robin's Nest'. I used to live here. It's been closed for a while. But when I get up enough money, I'm going to re-open her."
"Won't that take up a lot of money?"
Max looked at Nikki and smiled. "I all ready have most of it. In the apartment up at the top." Max pointed at the top of the building. "I don't have a permanent address, so I can't have a bank account."
Nikki looked at the building and then Max. "Why not live here?"
"This building's condemned. By law, no one's allowed to even go in there."
"You go in there anyway. You could make it your own little place. Start putting in everything you want. That way you could save time and have a place to live."
Max smiled at Nikki. "That's easier said than done."
Nikki looked at the building and sighed. "There's a place back home that this reminds me of. It's about two miles from my school."
"Really? Does it have a name?"
"No, not an official one. My friends call it 'Sakura No Hana'. I think it translates into cherry blossom. Well, they call it that because Rowen says it's so close to his old school. And Ryo says that it looks a lot like Hana High."
"Are all of your friends guys?"
Nikki looked at Max and smiled. "No. I have female friends too." Nikki looked down the street and saw Sage and Rowen walking out of the pool hall. "As a matter of fact, there's a couple of them now."
Max looked at Rowen and Sage, and let go of Nikki's hand. "Nikki, it was really nice talking to you. I hope I can see you again. I better get going."
Nikki looked at Max and smiled. "I would like that. I'll see you around. Bye," Nikki smiled as she walked over to Rowen and Sage.
"Nik, who was that?" Sage asked as she saw Max walk away.
"A real gentleman," Nikki said in Japanese. She walked over to the pool hall and saw Mac and Karyn.
Sage looked at Rowen and shook her head. "I really lost her, haven't I?" Sage asked.
Rowen shook his head. "You'll get her back. When all of this is over, you'll be your charming, persistent and annoying self, and then Nikki'll be with you again."
"I don't know," Sage whispered.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nikki walked into Kathy's house alone,
and walked over to the answering machine. She saw there was only one message
and hit play.
Hey kids, it's Kathy. Something's come up and I have to leave town for a while. Sage, dear, be sure to go shopping for food. I still keep a stash of money under my bed. And Rowen, if you read any of my new books in the den, be a sweetheart and put them on the bookshelves when you're done. I'll be back before you leave. Bye.