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Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. There should be no way that these characters are like anyone else, but if that isn’t the case, it has definitely been unintentional. Also, if you happen to find that your life is represented in these pages, I’ll be impressed.

Li Bai poem translated by David Hinton.

Summoning Sweeties

By Heather O’Malley

Whateley Universe

Thursday 28 December 2006,
Boston Massachusetts

Molly sat impatiently on a metal bench, waiting for the train from Baltimore to arrive. Her parents were waiting at the car, amused that Molly wanted to be the one to meet Chou. Little did they know that their daughter, who was now fifteen, wanted to kiss her girlfriend when she saw her instead of waiting for later. It was still a bit strange for Molly to admit that she had a girlfriend but she was fine with that. Smooching cured a lot of ills.

The train was pulling in, and Molly started to bounce excitedly on her toes as she nervously waited. She was scanning the traffic, trying to spot Chou amongst the masses of people. Using a simple locator spell occurred to her but she had been told to avoid drawing attention to herself. It was not as if she would have been kicked out of school like in Harry Potter, but she might get detention. She saw some familiar movement and spotted the somewhat tired face of Chou. She cried out excitedly, “Chou!”

Chou broke into a huge smile when she heard the voice. When she turned to face her girlfriend she called out, “Molly!”

The two ran towards each other and threw their arms around each other tightly. They kissed quickly, not wanting to draw too much attention to themselves, at which they were not completely successful. After they broke apart, Molly realized that something was missing and she looked around quickly. “Uhm… Chou, where’s your stuff?”

Chou broke out into a huge smile at the question. “I got the coolest Christmas present ever from my Sponsors. Like my new bag?”

Molly took a look at it and liked the patchwork bag. It looked pretty neat, all things considered. “Yeah, it’s cool. Wait… are you telling me…?”

Chou’s grin got even larger. “Yep. Everything is in there except for Destiny’s Wave.”

Molly looked at her girlfriend and realized that the blade wasn’t anywhere in sight. She quirked an eyebrow at her girlfriend. “Invisible?”

“Pretty much. So… where are your parents?”

“They’re out in the car. Come on.” The two girls held hands as they made their way through the crowds towards the entrance. They let go just in time to make it to the car before her parents would have to drive off. They climbed into the backseat, and as Molly’s dad drove off Molly said, “Mom, Dad… you remember Chou, right?”

“Yes Molly, we remember her. We were there a short while ago, remember?” replied her father.

Molly blushed some, knowing the Parents’ Day hadn’t been that long ago. She was kind of at a loss for what to say at the moment.

“Thank you both for having me. It was a nice treat. The person I spent Christmas with had a tendency to get into trouble a little too easily,” stated Chou, trying to be diplomatic about Toni.

“That’s fine. It’s not like we don’t have the room,” replied Molly’s father. “Our place has some land, which is good. It’s out by Medford.”

It took a while for them to get there given the traffic, but soon they were pulling into a subdivision off South Border Road. When they reached the house, Chou was stunned by how nice it was and how the street ended there. The Feng Shui was pretty good there as well and she completely approved. “I like your house.”

“Thank you. We did a lot of modification to it, making it greener and the like. I like being under the trees. It’s quieter and feels like we’re not part of all the rest of the hustle and bustle,” said Mr. Harrington.

“It’s got good energy flow.”

The Harringtons just sort of let the statement go by them without comment. They had already gotten used to not commenting on things that made no sense to them or seemed tied closely to their daughter’s ability. They really had no personal frame of reference so it was safer overall to just not say anything.

Molly led Chou to her room, to show it to her. Once inside, she closed the door and kissed Chou again, passionately. Chou let herself melt into the kiss happily. Molly was a great kisser and knew just how to get Chou to turn into putty. Chou was somewhat dazed when they parted. “I… uh… erm… uh… so…”

Molly giggled at that, proud that she could turn Chou’s brain to mush in just a few seconds.

Chou shook her head to clear it and smiled, “Wow… that was lovely.”

“Yeah, it was.”

“So… when do we tell your parents about us? Because if they knew we were a couple they probably wouldn’t let me sleep in your room with you,” calmly asked Chou.

“I figured that we could tell them tonight. We are going out to eat tonight and that might be a good time.”

Chou took a deep breath and felt herself calm more. She could tell she was being urged to do this later rather than sooner and that troubled her. She almost had no idea what to do when inspiration struck. She looked over at her girlfriend coyly, “Oh… would you like your Christmas present?”

Molly got all wide eyed and excited, her long hair bouncing along with her movement. “What did you get me?”

“Well… you know how I love you and stuff right?”

Molly nodded.

“Well, here is what I got you.” Chou pulled out the ring box from her bag and opened it. “I know it’s way too early to ask you to marry me, so I got you a Promise Ring.” The light glistened off the mithril shaped into a Celtic knotwork heart, and seemed to pulse to her mystical vision. Molly started to cry happily when she saw it.

Chou slid it onto Molly’s right hand and they hugged. Molly trembled in excitement as she could feel the love that had been imbued into the ring. Chou whispered to her, “Want to share this with your folks?”

Molly nodded, still trying to get her voice back. “Oh my God Chou. It’s beautiful. Thank you thank you thank you.”

The two of them left the room, hand in hand, after Molly wiped her eyes. Molly stopped her and then kissed Chou soundly. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Her parents were in the living room, both sitting and reading, as the girls came downstairs to talk to them. Molly smiled as she said, “Mom, Dad… we need to talk.”

They both looked up and spotted the girls holding hands. Mrs. Harrington noticed the ring on Molly’s right ring finger as well and quirked an eyebrow at them. “Yes dear?”

“I… I…” Molly’s grip on Chou’s hand tightened, trying to draw strength from her girlfriend. Between the warmth of the ring and the strength of Chou next to her Molly was able to say, “I wanted to let you know that Chou and I are girlfriends. This is the promise ring that she got me.”

Mr. Harrington looked over a bit surprised at that statement, “Aren’t you a little young for Promise rings?”

“Daddy, I love her and she loves me. We… we are Soulmates. It’s true. If only I could show you the energy that binds us, then you would understand.” Molly was getting teary eyed, unsure if it was in happiness or fear.

Mrs. Harrington sighed and put her book down, sitting up a bit straighter. “Molly, it’s okay. We’re not saying that the two of you can’t be in love but don’t you think it is a bit premature to be making promises like that? You are only fifteen.”

Molly shook her head, unsure what to say about this. Chou spoke up softly, “Mr. and Mrs. Harrington, I love Molly and I know without a shadow of a doubt that we will spend the rest of our lives together. This Soulmate thing is very real and not something that we can fight against. I’m not sure I can make it clear to you how much she means to me but she is the girl I love.”

The two adults looked at each other, seeming to have a conversation without words. Mrs. Harrington looked back over at them and smiled, “It’s okay girls. We may not understand what is going on but we accept that this is the way things are. Molly dear, you need to go make up the guest room. I’m not sure the two of you sharing a bedroom is appropriate right now.”

Molly and Chou both blushed at that and nodded their heads. Chou had figured that.

The Harringtons caught the response and wondered what might have caused it. Surely, the two girls hadn’t had sex yet… right? They were both just fifteen years old, so they assumed that the two had kissed and maybe a little bit more but surely not a lot more. Molly’s mother felt like she needed to know and so she had to ask. “Have you girls… had… you know…?”

Molly turned a brighter red and Chou struggled to find words. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, centering herself. She looked up and into Mrs. Harrington’s eyes. “No, we have not. We have just made out if you must know.”

Molly hid her face against Chou’s arm, as she was almost mortally embarrassed at that point. Chou just stood there, doing her best to look Molly’s parents in the eyes and hold them. While it was embarrassing to bring up, she wasn’t embarrassed to have made out with her girlfriend.

“That’s good to hear. Please try to control yourselves until you’re ready.” added Molly’s dad.

“Uhm… you mean that? You… you’re not upset about this?” Molly peeked over and was quite surprised by what her father had just said to her.

Molly’s mother sighed and sat back in her seat, rubbing her forehead. “Molly, three of my best friends are either gay or lesbian. Your father and I voted to allow Same Sex couples the same rights we have. It’s not the girl thing that worries us but rather the fact that it isn’t an easy road for anyone. So long as you two are safe, we will be fine with things.”

Molly blinked a few times in surprise. This wasn’t anything she had really expected to hear from her parents. “Really?”

“Yes Molly,” laughed her father, clearly amused by Molly’s lack of faith. “We really have no issue with the girl thing. Just be careful. Other teenagers can be really cruel to those who are different. I figure that the kids at your school are just teens with powers, not evolved beings. They are probably the same sort of jerks other kids are.”

“Well, there are a few evolved beings,” muttered Molly, glancing at Chou. The Asian girl caught the look and blushed again, embarrassed.

Things probably would have continued in this vein but Chou’s stomach growled audibly, making the others laugh. Mrs. Harrington chuckled, “Right, so right now we need to feed the wild girlfriend.”

The girls both blushed again at that. Mr. Harrington threw in his two cents at that point. “I think we need to establish a few rules before we go get dinner. Holding hands and such is fine, as people don’t get riled up over that. However, no kissing in public you two. Can you girls promise that?”

They nodded, as those rules were actually fairly moderate all things considered. Molly, thinking she was being helpful, added, “We pretty much just kiss in private anyway.”

The raised eyebrows from her parents again caused the girl to turn red and turn to look at the floor.

“Come on girls, let’s go,” Mrs. Harrington said, getting up and grabbing her purse.

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Chou and Molly had changed into their pajamas when they had gotten back from dinner. They had gone to a nice Italian place that did New York style pizza. Chou really loved that. It was very tasty and the vegetarian pizza that she had eaten had been lovely. The two slices she had were huge and so unlike anything she had been able to get while in Knoxville. Molly had gotten a slice of supreme and had gotten full from just that. Chou had even eaten the last bite herself.

Now they were cuddled up together under a blanket watching a movie with her parents. It was some sort of romantic comedy that was fun to watch but not exactly long on plot. Their hands were above the blanket and they were holding hands. Chou was fairly weirded out that her parents didn’t seem to mind that Molly and she were a couple. Her father would have lost it if Alex had brought home a boy and said they were a couple. Her father might even have had trouble with the whole being a girl thing, let alone the whole Asian thing. She had been learning just how intolerant her life had been before and it was a bit disturbing.

Molly leaned up and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you Chou.”

“I love you too, Molly.”

“I know. I can feel it. Thank you so much for the ring. It’s incredible.”

“No problem. I wanted to show you how I felt and I remembered that Mithril was good for you magic user types,” added Chou.

“Between its mystical properties and the love you put in it, it should really amp up my spells,” Molly beamed.

“How are the gates coming along?” Chou wasn’t sure how those were going as the end of the semester had been rather crazy.

“I’m working on opening gateways to grab other creatures to fight for me. It isn’t as easy as you would think. I’m also hoping I can find a way to create gateways I can move through. That would be cool and really useful.”

“Yeah it would. You know… maybe we should try to work on fighting together, so I can support you and you can support me,” said Chou.

Molly nodded and then yawned really hugely. “I think I’m ready to get some sleep.”

Chou nodded. “I agree. It is kind of late”

The two girls got ready for bed and kissed each other good night before they went into their rooms. Molly’s parents smiled at the way the girls were acting. “Young love.”

Friday 29 December 2006
Boston Massachusetts

Molly woke up and stared at the ceiling. She could feel Chou in bed next to her but it was just what she was getting from the ring. That made her sad until she realized that Chou was just in the guest room not very far away. That made her excited, and she bounced to her feet. She made her bed quickly, making sure her white teddy bear was under the covers against the pillow.

When she bounded over to the guest room, she saw that the bed was empty and made. She was worried, and hustled to the living room where she could see that Chou was practicing in the back yard with Destiny’s Wave. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that her girlfriend was actually there and not some dream. She enjoyed the sight of her love moving smoothly from one position to another, her moves more dancing than anything else. Her eyes grew soft and she just watched her girlfriend happily.

“She is pretty cute dear. I can see why you fell for her,” said her Mom from behind her. “And you never said she was a martial artist.”

“I thought you knew… sorry,” apologized Molly for her oversight.

“Molly, just because she is Asian doesn’t mean that she is automatically a martial artist,” chided her mother.

“I don’t think that, it’s just that sometimes I forget that you guys don’t know her like I do,” admitted Molly.

“That’s fine, Cuddlebug. That sort of thing happens. Oh, what do you guys want for breakfast?”

Molly said, “Pancakes please. You make the best pancakes.”

Her mother snickered. “Anything else you want, like eggs, sausage, bacon, etc…”

“Can we get some sausage please?”

Her mother chuckled and headed into the kitchen. “Sure thing. Get cleaned up and it should be ready by then.”

Chou came in, pausing to knock the snow off her shoes on the doorframe. Molly was there and Chou smiled at her. “Morning, Molly.”

“Morning, Chou. Let’s get ready and then my mom is making pancakes.” Molly bounced some while she was saying that. Chou thought it was cute.

They headed off and got ready for the day, heading into the dining room hand in hand a relatively short while later. They sat down at the table and Molly’s Mom called out, “Cuddlebug, could you get the table set and drinks for everyone?”

Molly blushed and Chou looked at her and asked, “Cuddlebug?”

“It’s my nickname…” replied Molly, looking at the table, her cheeks bright red.

“I like it. I think it’s cute and you are a total Cuddlebug,” snickered Chou.

Molly muttered something under her breath and got the plates and silverware out. Chou got up and helped get drinks, which was pretty easy since everyone wanted milk. Soon they were all sitting there with plates full of pancakes and sausage, except Chou skipped the sausage. They had real maple syrup as well, which was a nice treat. Chou was much more used to artificial syrup or Karo syrup on her pancakes. This was better. Everything was so good and she made plenty of happy noises as she ate. This really made Mrs. Harrington feel good, that her daughter’s girlfriend liked her cooking.

“So girls, did you have any plans for today?”

Molly and Chou looked at each other and shrugged. Chou asked, “Are there any museums open today?”

Her mom nodded, “A couple of them. Want to do something like the Aquarium or the Harvard Museum of Natural History? They have a great display of glass flowers.”

Chou didn’t look too convinced by that, but Molly said enthusiastically, “It’s really cool.”

“How about the Aquarium? I haven’t been to one in a few years.” asked Chou, remembering the one near Chattanooga.

Molly’s mom nodded. “They have some nice IMAX films there right now. One on Sharks, another on the Deep Sea and I also think Happy Feet is there.”

Chou, who had been too busy to keep up with what movies were out, looked confused. “Happy Feet?”

Molly smiled happily, having already seen the film once. “It’s about dancing penguins.”

Chou quirked an eyebrow at her questioningly, “Dancing penguins?”

Molly nodded. “I saw it. It was fun. I think you’d like it.”

“Sure. We can go do that,” replied Chou. “Just let me get my bag and Destiny’s Wave.”

“Do you actually take that with you every where?” asked Mrs. Harrington, concerned about a young girl carrying a weapon around everywhere.

Chou nodded, “Yep. It is a sacred Taoist Talisman and helps me compete with those with mutant abilities.”

“Wait… you’re not a mutant?” This really surprised Molly’s mother.

“Uh… no. I’m just a regular girl with a lot of training in some pretty wild martial arts. The sword helps as well.” Chou stuck to her basic story as the intricacies of who and what she was took too long to explain to anybody.

“Then what are you doing at the school?” Mrs. Harrington asked slightly suspiciously.

“I have a few demons hunting me. I can leave for short periods of time, like this break, before the protection on me wears off. It sucks, but I at least got to meet Molly.” Chou was sure that answer was as good as any other explanation.

“Demons?!” It was clear that the answer surprised Mrs. Harrington.

“Yeah. So, that’s why I’m at the school.” concluded Chou, hoping that it would be enough information for the woman.

“Well, as long as you aren’t a risk to Molly or us, then it’s no big deal.”

“I’m not. Besides, Ambassador Rythax looks out for her.”

“The panther with wings? An Ambassador?” It did seem like she was having a difficult time accepting things.

“Yes Mom, I told you that before,” huffed Molly. “Did you need to talk to him again to verify this?”

“No dear, I was just surprised. You’ve never called him Ambassador Rythax before.”

“Oh.” Molly looked down. “Uh… so, can we go to the Aquarium?”

“Sure. What did you want to do tomorrow?”

“Maybe another Museum and some wandering around downtown? There are some nice places there that Chou might enjoy,” added Molly.

“Uhm… can I borrow your phone? I just realized that I needed to make a call,” asked Chou, remembering something she needed to take care of.

“Certainly Chou. It’s in the kitchen.”

Chou grabbed the phone and dialed the number that she had gotten back in November. The phone was answered on the second ring. “Captain Tilley, SWAT.”

“Captain Tilley, this is Chou Lee.”

“Yes Miss Lee, how can I help you?” asked Captain Tilley, somewhat amused.

“I just wanted to let you know that I am in town staying with a classmate. This way you won’t be surprised if I end up dragged into something.”

“Are you planning on getting dragged into anything?” It was clear that the older gentleman was playing with her.

“No, but it is more my luck that I’ll get dragged into another fight,” lamented Chou.

Captain Tilley chuckled at the tone, “I understand. Thank you for calling and letting me know. Anyone else from your team here?”

“No sir, just me.”

“Take care then, and I hope I don’t see you.”

“You too.” Chou hung up and headed back into the living room.

“Who did you call?” asked Mrs. Harrington politely.

“Captain Tilley of the Boston PD SWAT unit. We got to meet him in November. I was just letting him know that I’m here since I was deputized.”

Mrs. Harrington blinked a few times, remembering that her daughter wasn’t quite in the same world that she lived in anymore, and then said, “Alright, that’s a new one for me. Come on girls, let’s head to the Aquarium.”

They all got into the family car and headed downtown, just the three of them as Molly’s dad was busy working on some sort of project for his job. They made it to the Aquarium in time to catch Happy Feet, which sort of disturbed Chou, as dancing penguins were a bit outside of the norm for her. Granted, Elijah Wood was one of the voices, but she really couldn’t imagine Frodo dancing about like that. Merry and Pippin certainly, but not Frodo. The image of Sam and Frodo doing the tango briefly shook her.

What had been nice about the movie was the fact that Molly and Chou were able to cuddle some during it. It wasn’t like the film was romantic in the least, but that it was nice to cuddle together. It was a perfectly harmless little film. Mrs. Harrington politely ignored the two teens during the whole thing. After the movie was over, they wandered around the place, enjoying the various fish tanks, including the massive 200,000 gallon one with the coral reef inside. Chou was pretty impressed by it.

Molly had used her amazing ninja smoochy powers to get a couple dozen kisses from Chou, and they managed not to get caught while doing so by either her mom or anybody else. Chou really did enjoy those sneaky kisses, as Molly had certainly developed a skill for it over the last few months. It wasn’t exactly a superpower, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Dinner that night was pretty basic, just meat and potatoes. Chou ate a little, since even though she was becoming more and more vegetarian as time went by, there was nothing in Taoism that said that it was necessary, unlike in Buddhism. She just had a smaller portion than even Molly and focused on the garlic cheesy mashed potatoes and the vegetables.

The game of Scrabble afterwards kind of threw Chou. The family dynamic of Molly’s family was quite different from what her own family’s had been, even before her mother had died, and certainly unlike the Chandlers. It was nice and Chou just relaxed into the family setting, glad to be accepted by her girlfriend’s folks. It certainly made life a whole lot easier to deal with.

Saturday 30 December 2006
Boston Massachusetts

Mrs. Harrington had dropped them off downtown a little while ago, and the girls had done some window shopping before Molly giggled and dragged Chou towards a store sporting a rainbow flag. Chou was stunned to realize what kind of store it was and both girls were blushing furiously when they entered.

“Can I help you girls?” asked the guy with blond spiked hair who was manning the register.

“Uhm… my girlfriend and I are just looking?” replied Molly, her face bright red.

“For anything in particular?”

“Uhm…” Molly looked at Chou, who just shrugged. “I don’t know?”

“Honey, you don’t sound very sure of yourself. Why don’t you girls have a seat in the coffee shop and let me see if I can get you the help you need?” He picked up a phone as they left and spoke to someone briefly.

The two girls headed into the coffee bar section of the place and ordered two hot Chai teas. As the girls sipped their warm cinnamony drinks, this older woman with long dark hair came over to them and sat down in a seat across from them. “Hi, I’m Miranda. Ryan said you girls were looking for something but had no clue what? Just come out?”

The two girls nodded, almost too embarrassed to speak. In a lot of ways, this was one of the most embarrassing things either had done. Molly however was still able to talk. “Yeah, my parents were okay with it when we told them. It’s just that… well… what do lesbians actually do besides kiss and stuff?”

When Miranda realized that the girl with glasses was serious she actually started laughing at that, tears coming down her face as she was laughing so hard. The girls blushed and looked into their drinks, too red-faced to look up. It was clear that the woman was enjoying their discomfort. “God I love baby dykes. Thank you Ryan!”

“You’re welcome!” called the blond boy from the register.

Once she was able to compose herself, Miranda looked at the two girls and smiled comfortingly. “So… what do you think lesbians do?”

Both shrugged and Molly replied tentatively, “I don’t know… cut their hair really short and stuff?”

Miranda was still chuckling and wiping tears from her face. She looked over both girls carefully. “You’re both just precious. You guys are what, fifteen, sixteen and you sort of found each other?”

Both girls nodded. Chou was not sure what the hell to do in this situation but Molly seemed keen to be here in this store. Chou looked at her a bit confused and asked, “So, you are what, the Lesbian Fairy Godmother?”

Ryan over by the register busted out laughing and Miranda glared at him. Her gaze was not as angry when she turned back to the teens. “I actually do more outreach than anything else here. I can recommend some books for you both if you want. But as for the whole what lesbians do question… they do whatever. Remember, your sexual orientation is not your life.”

Molly nodded, eyes wide, as if this was knowledge she had never heard before. That got Chou rolling her eyes. Living in Poe had certainly been an education about what gays and lesbians did with their lives. Watching two guys make out didn’t even bother her that much anymore.

The woman stood and led them over to a section of books that had all sorts of lesbian tags. “Here are some books on Lesbian Identity Politics, feminism, family planning, and other stuff. Here is the area of Lesbian Fiction and poetry. Here is the collection of sex books. This one here, I highly recommend.”

That got the girls blushing again. Chou was afraid her face was going to stay that way after all of this. Miranda continued on, “You girls shouldn’t worry about toys at the moment, especially since you are too young to buy them, but Goddess gave you all the tools you need to fuck each other already.”

Chou was fascinated by the weave of the rug, almost memorizing the way the thing was put together. She couldn’t believe that women actually talked like this, and that Molly wasn’t as embarrassed by this as she was… what the hell. “Uhm… do you think that fifteen is too young to have sex?”

Miranda sighed and rubbed her eyes, as if trying to massage away some sort of pain. “They’re baby dykes… they don’t know any better. Look, if you have to ask that question, you aren’t ready for sex. Fooling around may be fine for you girls right now but remember that having sex is a big change in a relationship and in your own life. Don’t rush it. When you have it and it is the right time with the right person, it can be magical. Otherwise, well, bad things can happen and it can tear people apart. Now if you need any more help give me a holler.”

Miranda walked off as the two girls looked at the book in question. The Whole Lesbian Sex Book seemed to be about everything they might ever want to know about sex and were too afraid to ask anyone else. The two girls blushed furiously over the book but Molly didn’t put it back on the shelf. They looked at the various books and chose several different ones, some fiction, some poetry, some non-fiction. It was a fairly good sized stack of books that she carried up to the register.

“Uhm, Molly… are you sure your mom won’t have an issue with the books?” Chou scanned the pile nervously. It was a lot of books on a lot of subjects.

“I don’t think so. But maybe I should put the sex book in your bag. Or maybe all of them. Okay?” Molly batted her eyes at her girlfriend who felt her resolve crumble.

Chou grumbled, “Why am I the voice of reason?”

Molly heard that and turned, staring at her girlfriend, “Excuse me?”

Chou mumbled, “Sorry. Too much time with Chaka.”

Once purchased, the books went into Chou’s bag, taking up no real space whatsoever. Molly kissed her in thanks, which got Ryan started with the whole ‘Awww’ thing. Both girls blushed at that and left the store, waving bye to Miranda.

“I can’t believe you dragged me into a GLBT bookstore,” muttered Chou as they continued down the street.

“But Chou, I just want to do everything right. Is that such a bad thing?” Molly gave her a puppy dog look.

Chou sighed and said, “You are doing everything just fine. You are an excellent girlfriend.”

Molly blushed some. “Thanks.”

They hugged and headed towards the museum they had planned on going to, where there was supposed to be a display of Asian art. Molly knew the full truth about Chou but that didn’t change the fact that Chou felt more Asian than Southern at this point. So much had changed because of the sword that she felt like a daughter of the Middle Kingdom rather than a lower middle class boy from Knoxville. She had even lost her love of the color orange, which was a University of Tennessee Blasphemy. Thankfully she wasn’t at a school where people cared about that stuff.

The place was up ahead, which was good. Chou was hoping to get out of the cold for a little bit longer, as she had gotten warmer with the Chai. Now she just wanted to be with Molly and maybe find a quiet corner to neck in; the museum might just be a good place for that.

The two girls got the Student ticket rate thanks to their Whateley ID’s. They wandered into the place, enjoying the various pieces of art. There was some really cool stuff that was nice to look at. The Asian art exhibit focused on T’ang Dynasty stuff, which had Chou all wide eyed and happy. There were a number of the brush paintings, and woodblock paintings, and the centerpiece of the exhibit was one beautiful scroll of a poem there by Li Bai.

After standing there a minute or so, Molly asked Chou, “Uhm… sweetie, what does the poem say?”

Chou looked over at her surprised, having forgotten that Molly didn’t know Chinese. “The sign doesn’t have it?”

“Apparently it is in the little book for the exhibit.”

“Oh… okay. The poem is called ‘Thoughts of You Unending’ by Li Bai.” Chou took a breath to calm herself and exhaled slowly. She started reading the poem, her voice soft. “It says:

Thoughts of you unending

here in Ch’ang-an,

crickets where the wall mirrors year-end golds cry out

autumn, and under a thin frost, mats look cold, ice-cold.

My lone lamp dark, thoughts thickening, I raise blinds

and gaze at the moon. It renders the deepest lament

empty. But you’re lovely as a blossom born of cloud,

skies opening away all bottomless azure above, clear

water all billows and swelling waves below. Skies endless

for a spirit in sad flight, the road over hard passes

sheer distance, I’ll never reach you, even in dreams,

my ruins of the heart,

thoughts of you unending.

The whole room was quiet and Chou realized that everyone in the room had turned to look at her. She blushed and noticed that Molly was wiping a few tears from her eyes.

“That was beautiful, but so sad.”

“Well, Li Bai had a rough life for a while. He is the Wine Immortal, as part of his practice was to drink a great deal and then to write poems. His poems are awesome but his brush work is incredible, so full of power that it almost leaps off the page in its strength,” commented Chou, gazing back at the scroll reverently.

Molly took her hand and looked into her eyes. “Thank you for reading that for me.”

Chou blushed and smiled at her girlfriend. “You’re welcome. I hope they have a poster of this. It’s incredible. A replica would be even better.”

“We can look later. Come on… I found us a spot that should be safe.”

Chou’s eyes got a bit larger. “Safe?”

“Well, it is a bit out of the way and can easily be masked. So what do you say?” asked Molly coyly.

“Sure, Cuddlebug,” replied Chou, smirking.

Molly glowered at her. “Look, you want to make out or not?”

“Sorry Molly, but it is such a cute nickname.”

“But it’s my parents’ nickname for me…” whined the girl, pushing her glasses back up.

“Molly, I like it. Is it okay if I use it?” pleaded Chou.

Molly pouted a little but gave in. “I suppose. You need to really kiss me in order to make up for it.”

“Yes ma’am.”

The two went into a small alcove and Molly activated the same sort of spell she used in the library to hide them when making out. Once that was completed, the smaller girl pushed Chou against the wall and started kissing her. Chou opened her mouth and Molly’s tongue darted in. The passion that Molly was giving off almost took Chou’s breath away and she began to moan into her girlfriend’s mouth.

As Chou’s head rose, Molly began nibbling on her neck, sucking softly to avoid leaving any marks that might give them away. Chou clutched Molly closer and that wasn’t a problem for either of them. Again their lips met, their tongues dancing out what they felt for each other. Molly began to suck on Chou’s tongue and the girl felt her knees almost buckle from the new sensation.

Molly, emboldened by the fact that the spell was holding, slid her hand up Chou’s side and brushed against the side of one of her breasts. This pulled another moan from Chou and Molly’s hands roamed some more. Molly was really enjoying this.

Chou could feel her nipples tighten and she arched her back, to thrust her breast more firmly into Molly’s hand. Molly used her thumb to brush over the nipple, making Chou give out these little gasps. Molly slid her hand down and then back up underneath Chou’s blouse. The warmth of the girl’s hand through the thin fabric of her bra added to Chou’s arousal. She grabbed Molly’s head and kissed her deeply.

A wall near the two of them gave way, falling onto a display of T’ang coins. Glass shattered and this costumed idiot entered the room shouting, “Deeeaaattthhhh Ghhhooosssttt!”

The man looked to be over six feet tall and looked pretty solidly built. He was wearing this black uniform with a gray cowl and cape. There were these white bands at his wrists, and there was a skull shape in a red field in the center of his chest. When people saw him, they started running away screaming in terror. Chou and Molly just cursed. Why did some villain have to attack when they were making out?

Chou quickly pulled out her costume, including her mask with the T’ai Chi at the third eye. She had an extra mask in her bag, ever since the fight in the Mall, which she offered to Molly. The girl waved it off and handed off her coat to Chou, who stuffed Molly’s coat into her bag. Molly focused, which was hard to do because of her arousal, but was able to cast the spell to summon her costume to her. She was wearing a brown pants suit without the coat but with a tie, a trench coat on over this, and no mask. She was going to trust in the masking charm she had woven into the coat. Gateway and Bladedancer were ready to deal with this asshat.

Seeing no obvious threat to himself, Death Ghost headed towards the Li Bai scroll, grinning happily, quite pleased with himself. As he was reaching for it, a stern voice called out. “Hold it right there.”

The man turned and saw two girls standing there, one dressed all Asiany and everything and the other looked like a professional geek, glasses and everything. He smirked at them both, as they were cute. “Hey there pretty ladies, let me finish this up before we spend some quality time together… know what I’m saying?”

Gateway rolled her eyes and muttered something under her breath about ignorant bastards, her fists clenching and unclenching. Bladedancer took a step closer, Destiny’s Wave at the ready, held at an angle. “I would surrender if I were you.”

He laughed at that, thinking it was clearly funny. Sometimes chicks cracked him up. “Aw, come on baby, I know you just want to look at me and say ‘me love you long time’.”

Bladedancer was confused by this. What the hell was he going on about? She repeated, “Me love you long time?”

“Aw… that’s it baby… I know you want me.” The man’s smirk got larger and he blew a kiss towards her.

“Ewwwww… that’s so squicky. Look, just shut up and give up already before we hurt you.” Bladedancer shuddered some, feeling like she had been dipped in oil by the guy’s tone.

“Now, girls, don’t get hurt now. I wouldn’t want to hurt cuties like yourself… unless you asked me to.” The grin was broad and toothy, oozing smarminess. It sent Gateway right over the edge.

She began chanting, starting a summoning spell, wanting to call up some sort of pixies to distract the man. He just moved his arm and blasted her casually. Gateway crumpled under the impact and was flung back into a wall, sliding down to the floor somewhat dazed.

Bladedancer growled and went after the man, swinging wildly by her standards, no precision, just striking out of blind anger. Death Ghost just chuckled and moved away from the strikes, not even seeing them as a real danger to himself. “Listen sweetie, why don’t you put down the pig sticker, get your little friend and head out before I have to hurt you. Hell, I might just want to put you over my knee and spank you for that… now that’s an idea.”

Bladedancer’s anger went beyond heated to cold. Her strikes became less random and more precise, working to move Death Ghost so that his back was to Gateway. She could feel that her love was okay and that she was already shaking off the damage. She had only been stunned slightly, thankfully.

Death Ghost was really amused by this and was having fun playing, however he really needed to get going if he was going to get out of there before Lamplighter or someone dangerous appeared to stop him. He hadn’t won five mutant death matches by being an idiot and fighting outside his weight class like these girls were. “Look sweetie, why don’t we stop this, go back to my place, and slip you onto something more comfortable.”

Death Ghost went desolid, intending on walking through the sword and the girl, and then taking the damn scroll and beating feet. That wasn’t what happened though. What he hadn’t expected was for the blade to slide effortlessly through his left shoulder as he stepped into it. He was so surprised that as he stumbled back he regained solidity. “Ow!! Holy Crap! What the fuck? You cut me?”

He was promptly slammed to the ground by a very large paw to his back. Rythax had burst through the gate and right into the villain. It was clear that the fall made him hit bad shoulder first… which worked for everyone else besides him. Death Ghost rolled over, stunned by the hit and the pain. There was no way that girl could have stabbed him, he had been desolid. He looked up as a huge black panther with cobalt blue eyes growled, stepping on his bleeding shoulder and making him cry out in pain. Bladder control was lost at that point.

Rythax was knocked from Death Ghost by a blast of the gauntlets, but before he could use that moment to escape, not caring about the scroll he had been hired to get, he felt the cold sharpness of a sword rest on his throat. The dark eyes turned on him were utterly cold and emotionless. He had seen eyes like those before, in the ring. He stilled.

That was when Death Ghost realized that he should have taken the job more seriously and worn all of his protective gear. Gateway got to her feet, ran up and screamed at him, punctuating each word with a solid kick to his balls, “Don’t! Flirt! With! My! Girlfriend!!”

The last kick was extra hard, more of a stomp really with a grinding of her foot, and there was a flash, which drew the attention of the two girls, the Shadowcat, and the weeping villain. A news reporter was there, smiling at the scene, pleased that he had gotten some nice footage of the end of the fight. The whole sequence of kicks was going to be priceless.

The sound of running boots came up, and members of the Boston SWAT team came bursting into the room, weapons aimed at everyone, including the photographer. “Police! Freeze!”

Death Ghost added some whimpering to his crying in pain. How had things gone so wrong?

“Officer. My name is Bladedancer, a deputized police auxiliary since October. SWAT Captain Tilley knows me. This is my friend, Gateway. The panther is with her.” Bladedancer didn’t move, keeping her eyes on Death Ghost, as well as her sword.

“Yeah, he was trying to steal that scroll.” added Gateway, helpfully.

One of the officers called out, “You don’t look like that Bladedancer.”

“Change in costume. I hated looking like a fricking Power Ranger.”

“Then what was it that you were here for that got you deputized?”

“October? Stopping the Necromancer and his team from robbing a museum. November was deposition and prisoner transport.”

“That’s her.” Several of the SWAT troops moved up and slapped power inhibiting cuffs onto Death Ghost. Bladedancer and Gateway stood off to the side and the officers dragged the villain out. Rythax turned to the ladies and said, “That was rather a shock.”

An officer came in and began taking the girls’ depositions as another team came in to process the crime scene. They gave their stories and waited. The officer looked confused for a second, “So where were you girls again, when he broke in?”

Chou replied hesitantly, “In that alcove.”

“What were you doing?” He clearly got his answer when both girls looked down and seemed to blush. He didn’t write that down however. Officer Murphy wasn’t a jerk.

A familiar voice called out, “I thought you said you weren’t going to cause any trouble here?”

Chou blushed and turned to Captain Tilley, bowing in apology. “Actually we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, sir.”

“Well, at least the damage was kept at a minimum.”

“He did it all, we were actually being very careful about that.” added Molly, not wanting to be thought of as destructive.

“Okay. And you are?” The Captain turned and looked at Molly, who was rather intimidated by the man.

“Captain Tilley, this is Gateway.”

“A pleasure. We need to get you both out of here so that the press doesn’t get too many photos.” With that, he led the girls to a side entrance where they got into a SWAT van. Several other SWAT team members were in there already, mostly ready to head back to the station. They all looked at the two girls who entered questioningly. “Guys, this is Gateway. You remember Bladedancer.”

Several of them nodded. “Yeah, fought Necromancer and group twice?”

Chou nodded, a bit embarrassed. She couldn’t believe that they remembered that.

“How are you doing? Here alone this time?” asked one of the guys.

“Yeah. I’m staying with a friend.” She took hold of Molly’s hand, which helped to calm the girl down.

Once they got to the police station, the girls changed and called Molly’s mother. Mrs. Harrington rushed into the precinct twenty-five minutes later looking all worried. Chou and Molly were sitting on a bench waiting and came up to her. Molly was hugged really tightly and the frantic look on her mom’s face faded a little. “What happened to you two?”

“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain,” started Molly.

Captain Tilley walked up, having kept his eye out for Molly’s mother. “Maybe I can explain, Mrs. Harrington?”

“And you are?”

“Captain Tilley. Seems that these two happened to be at the Museum when some two-bit villain tried to rob it. They saved the day, you might say,” he said, clearly proud of them.

“Really?” Her mother’s surprise was pretty clear. Her daughter had stopped a supervillain?

“Yes. Well, it was nice meeting you. I need to get back to work. Take care you two.”

“Bye.” Chou and Molly waved a little and headed out to the car.

As they were driving away, Mrs. Harrington said, “Sounds like you two had a busy day.”

“We did. It surprised us when that villain broke into the museum,” said Molly. “Thankfully it wasn’t much of a fight.”

“Really? I would have thought it would have been tougher?”

“Not really Mom. Chou is an incredible fighter and he really had no way to know that. She took him out pretty quick,” Molly bragged about her girlfriend, making Chou blush in response.

“Well, I hope you girls are okay with dinner then, since you are big time heroes and everything,” teased Mrs. Harrington.

“What are we having?” asked Molly.

“Fish and chips.”

That response made Molly smile broadly. Chou smiled as well, as she liked that. She was sure it was going to be better than the fast food stuff she had eaten in Knoxville. It would almost have to be.

When they got to the house, Chou asked to use the phone again. She called the emergency number and was praying that it wouldn’t be the Headmistress. That woman scared her.

“Whateley Academy, Frank Delarose speaking.”

“Chief Delarose…” started Chou.

The pause let her know that her voice had been identified. “A third time, Miss Lee? A third time?”

“Sorry. This time was also an accident. Gateway and I were at a museum when Death Ghost attacked, trying to steal something. We stopped him.”

“Couldn’t you have just let him go?” He knew the answer to the question already, but needed to ask it anyway.

“No I couldn’t. We did stop him, and Captain Tilley from SWAT took care of things.”

“The officer from the two Necromancer incidents?” clarified Delarose, wanting to make sure he had all the pertinent information.

“Yes sir. He kept us out of any images except one picture,” confirmed Chou.

“What of?” he asked politely.

“Of her kicking him in the crotch,” she replied a bit nervously.

Delarose began chuckling. Now that was funny. “Okay. It sounds like it was taken care of. I will talk to him to make sure you did everything right, but you have to watch this Miss Lee, otherwise you won’t be able to leave campus anymore.”

“Yes sir.”

“Have a good rest of your break, and see me when you get back.”

“Yes Chief.” She hung up the phone and sighed. Her prayers had been answered and she hadn’t had to deal with the Headmistress again. Now to get ready for dinner and relax from the day.

Sunday 31 December 2006
Boston Massachusetts

The girls got to sleep in that day, since they were going to be up late that night. The Harringtons had gotten up and had discussed the events of yesterday, including the fact that it was on the news. It had scared both of them that their daughter had gotten into a fight with a supervillain, though they did love the picture of their daughter stomping on him. Granted, Chou had been there to protect Molly, as was Rythax, but that didn’t lessen their fear.

It was one thing to send their daughter to a school for people with these sorts of powers; it was another to know she would be fighting villains during school breaks. They were wondering if this was still a good plan, to send her to a school that was teaching her more about these sorts of things. The problem was that Molly enjoyed her school, her girlfriend went there, and it was helping her learn about her power. It was a good thing that way, but it wasn’t really making them more comfortable about what their daughter was going through.

Chou woke and changed into her workout clothes, planning to do her T’ai Chi outside as was her normal practice. There was still snow on the ground, but that was fine with her. She had gotten so used to shifting her body’s temperature warmer that she hardly felt the cold anymore, unless she was distracted. She knew that her focus would get stronger over time and even distracted she would remain warm.

Her movements were smooth, and helped her muscles warm up as she ran through some basic Chi Gung exercises as well. She felt really good when she came back inside, as the cold had been exhilarating. Molly was already up by then and had made her a mug of cocoa. Chou sipped it happily and smiled at her love. Molly took one of Chou’s hands in hers and kissed it, blushing as she did so.

Chou felt all warm and tingly from that. She looked lovingly at Molly and smiled softly. “I love you.”

“I love you too. What do you want to do today?”

“How about we hang out here and just relax?” offered Chou, looking forward to doing a lot of nothing for a change.

Molly smiled, “Okay. I like that idea. We can cuddle on the couch all day long.”

That certainly sounded like a good plan to Chou. They had a Meg Ryan movie marathon instead of going anywhere, cuddling together, while the parents seemed amused and tickled by the way things were going. At one point, the two girls both fell asleep cuddled together on the couch, and Molly’s parents silently took a few pictures of them. The pictures were cute, and they uploaded them onto the computer while the girls still slept.

When they woke up, they smiled at each other’s tousled hair and bleary eyes. They kissed and went back to their movies. After finishing ‘Joe versus the Volcano’, they got up and wandered around almost aimlessly, wanting something but unsure what. Molly’s Mom looked over at them and asked, “What are you girls looking for?”

“I don’t know. It’s just that… you know… I think we feel the need to move,” replied Molly.

“Then go for a walk in the woods or something,” offered her father. “It’ll take you far from the things of man.”

The two girls looked at each other and shrugged. The parents shared a look at that one, communicating some sort of observation again without words. Molly and Chou headed upstairs and got dressed in clothes appropriate for the weather. Soon the two of them were outside playing in the snow, having snowball fights, and just enjoying the quiet that snow gives everything. Even Rythax enjoyed it when they brought him out when fully under the trees. The Shadowcat looked at the two girls curiously and asked, “If I may be so bold, what has changed between the two of you?”

The girls looked at each other questioningly and then back at Rythax. They had no idea what the Shadowcat was talking about and Molly answered for them, “Hunh?”

“Well, I have always seen the energy that binds the two of you together but something about it has changed, gotten deeper, stronger, clearer. Has anything changed?” The Ambassador asked calmly, more interested than worried about this new development. He had no problem with their relationship as this would have been one of the tamer relationships back in the era of the Five Fold Court.

“Uhm… Chou gave me this ring.” This was all Molly could come up with, and she took her mitten off to show it off for him.

The Shadowcat’s eyes widened in surprise and recognition, his ears going straight up. “A Moonsilver heart? Here? Chou, where did you get this?”

“Well, there is this girl at school who sort of excretes mithril from her body, she can shape it as well. I had this idea for a ring for her that looked like a knotwork heart, something that was unending and that when it was being formed to fill it with how I felt about Molly. Did I do something wrong?” Chou was a bit concerned due to the surprise that Rythax was clearly dealing with.

Rythax chuckled, the sound vibrating deeply in his barrel chest. “No, you have not done something wrong. During the Five Fold Court era there was a practice of giving one’s true love a Moonsilver heart to wear. Necklaces were for lesser relationships but the rings were special, as they needed to be filled with the strength of that love when being formed. This gave the ring not only the strength of the metal but of the love as well, making them truly unbreakable. I dare say that Destiny’s Wave might have trouble severing that ring, if it were even possible.”

The girls looked wide-eyed at Rythax and then at the ring. The Shadowcat wasn’t finished with his bit of lore however. “The rings also bound the two to each other, performing a sort of binding ceremony you might say, especially if their hearts were truly in… what is the right way to say this… in harmony with each other, no discordant notes. While those in Harmony are facets of each other’s souls, this brings them closer and a bit of each person blends with the other.”

“Wow… that’s… wow.” Molly looked down at the ring with eyes filled with wonder and amazement. Somehow, this information made the ring even more special. “I will cherish this forever.”

Chou blinked a few times and asked, “What were these rings used for?”

“Marriages.”

Chou choked on the air.

Molly patted Chou on the back, hoping that would help. Chou looked up at Rythax, eyes wide. “Marriage?”

“Yes. Such rings enabled other members of the Courts and other members of the races there at the court to see the bond between them. That was why I was so confused when I saw you just now. There was no way that should have happened here.”

“Uhm… but I have no idea what I had done. Where would I have learned that?” Chou sounded worried, as if she had screwed up somehow but unsure what that could be.

The Shadowcat sat there in the snow mulling over the question. “As one who serves the Balance, you are aware that there are deeper, stronger, and older things than magic?”

“Yes.” Chou was a bit unsure of the answer as she hadn’t actually looked for anything of that nature.

“This is one of them. Only those who have that sort of love and who can manifest their wills can even hope to make them happen. You worked truly old power into that ring Chou. Cherish it like I can see you cherish her.” Rythax grinned at the two of them.

“Chou, do you think I can make one for you?” asked Molly.

Chou hugged her and kissed her gently. “I am sure if we ask nicely that something like that can happen.”

They kissed for a while, not even noticing Rythax vanish from sight. They headed back to the house with thoughts rolling through their minds, trying to make sense of what they had just learned. Chou realized something when they were almost back to the house, that they had to discuss something and come to some sort of resolution soon. “Uhm… Molly?”

“Yes?”

“I think we need to talk about Dorjee.” Chou was almost afraid of what the result would be.

“What about?”

“Well, remember the plan was to date him and make other people think we were straight?”

Molly began to grow concerned with where this conversation was heading. “I remember.”

“And remember when I told you about him kissing me?”

The shorter girl’s eyes narrowed. “Yes?”

“Well, I do sort of like him and all, so what are we going to do about that?” Chou got the rest of it out in a rush, tremendously uncomfortable by what she was saying. This was not a situation she was very pleased with.

“Are you asking if you need to keep seeing him because you like him but are in love with me?” asked Molly, fully stopped and facing Chou.

“Well… yes.”

“Let me think about it.” That was her only reply and they trudged back to the house for cocoa and another movie.

Molly was upset by the situation with that boy but had never been surer of her love for Chou. What the hell was she going to do about this? She had no idea, and knew that talking to her mother wouldn’t be any help as it might make things awkward. She was at a loss now but was sure she could find someone at school to talk this over with. Right?

The remains of the day passed with them under a blanket, snuggled together, letting all other worries pass away. Dinner had been good and had managed to drag the girls from under the blanket to the table. They did return however and watch even more films.

At midnight, after watching the countdown with Molly’s parents, they got some ‘alone time’ and hid out in Molly’s room, where they kissed themselves into a new year, hoping that the next one would bring them happiness.

Monday 1 January 2007
Boston Massachusetts

A call woke the house at six in the morning. Chou was summoned to the phone, which she yawned mightily into as she said, “Hello?”

“Miss Lee, this is Captain Tilley.”

Chou blinked rather confused. “Sir?”

“I have a request that I was told to pass on to you.” The man didn’t seem overly pleased to be doing this.

Chou immediately felt the tiny hairs on the back of her neck rise. “What?”

“The Cultural Attaché for the Peoples Republic of China would like to thank the both of you for what you did the other day, in safeguarding a national treasure. I said I would pass the message on. Call me back this afternoon with your answer. Talk to you later.”

“Bye.” The phone went dead and Chou was unsure what to do. This would be a really public moment for both Molly and herself. She needed to talk to some people and get some advice.

“What did Captain Tilley want, Chou?” asked Mr. Harrington.

“The Cultural Attaché for China wants to thank Molly and me for saving a national treasure.”

“That’s pretty nice,” replied Mrs. Harrington, as she bustled about the kitchen.

“Well, part of the problem is that this would be very public and the other part is that my sword might technically be considered a national treasure of China,” explained Chou.

“Oh.” Both parents replied at the same time, hit by the enormity of what Chou was explaining. She could be arrested if it was deemed that her sword was a National Treasure of another country and the U.S. wanted to return it.

Chou nodded, “Yeah, I need to talk to some people at the school for advice and then we can figure out what to do. Can you make me some tea while I make the call?”

Mrs. Harrington nodded, putting on the teakettle. That was certainly a lot less stressful than dealing with international politics.

Chou swallowed heavily and called the number again. She needed to talk to someone who could really help her with this and even though she really, really didn’t want to be calling the school again, who else could she call? She prayed fervently that Carson wasn’t on the phone to start with, or she might panic.

“Whateley Academy, Elyzia Grimes speaking.”

“Mrs. Grimes, my name is Chou Lee – Bladedancer – and I really need to speak to both Chief Delarose and the Headmistress please.” Chou winced at the last part but was sure that Carson needed to be included in this as well. It pained her to admit, but it was true.

“Can I tell them what this is about?” The woman replied, sounding almost bored.

“Uhm… just mention my name. I figure that should take care of it.” Chou practically winced at the truth of that statement. How had she become the kid people everyone knew? She had always worked to keep her head down, and ever since she had gotten the sword that was no longer an option.

Shortly there was a click on the line and the all too familiar voice of Chief Delarose came on the line. “Four Times? Four? There are people who make it all the way through school here never calling once, and you call four times in one trip?”

“Now Chief Delarose, we know that most of it hasn’t been her fault.” It sounded like Mrs. Carson was in a better mood, for which Chou gave thanks. “Now, what is it this time?”

“The Cultural Attaché from China wants to thank Molly and me for saving the art exhibit,” replied Chou.

“And this is an issue because?” It was clear that Carson was trying to figure out what the particular issue was in this case.

“My identity, my sponsors, my sword to name a few. That, and Molly,” clarified Chou, wishing she could get off he phone and hide.

“I see…” It was clear that the Headmistress was following Chou’s line of worries and had leapt to a similar conclusion. “How did this invitation come to you?”

“Captain Tilley of the Boston Police Department SWAT team, ma’am.”

“I know him Elizabeth, I can check in with him.” offered Delarose, making sure that the Headmistress didn’t take all of this into her hands as she was prone to do. This did sort of fall into his area of work. “Now, Miss Lee, do you want to meet the Attaché?”

“I don’t know. I guess it might be rude to say no.” Chou really did feel out of her depths. None of her training had prepared her for this sort of thing.

“Should we get your Mentor?” asked Miss Carson.

“That might be a good thing,” added Chou. “I’m worried about this meeting and I’m not exactly sure why.”

“I thought you didn’t have any precognitive abilities?” asked Miss Carson, well aware of who and more importantly, what Chou was. It had been explained in great deal before she had gotten to the school and had come up a few times since.

“Not in the usual sense, but if the Tao wants me to know something is coming, it tells me or at least hints at it,” replied Chou worriedly. The sense of disquiet hadn’t gone anywhere.

Chief Delarose piped in with, “You know, Captain Tilley can say that he was not able to get a hold of you and we avoid all of this. Or since you are a minor, we can go with the classic ‘your guardians aren’t interested at this time’ routine.”

“Won’t that make him curious and look into me more?” asked Chou, who really was worried about this meet and didn’t want to make herself more of a target than she already was.

“An excellent point, Miss Lee. I think this is one of those situations where we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Chief, does her file list her as an American citizen?” asked Miss Carson carefully, as if she were trying to piece together information.

“Of course, since she is from Tennessee.” Now even Chief Delarose was a touch confused in trying to follow where the Headmistress was going.

“That’s good. This way there can be no presumption that she is a Chinese National and with subsequent pressure for her to leave here. We have all the properly amended documents?” The question flew completely over Chou’s head.

“Yes. She should be fine.” Delarose was tracking now.

Chou, in the meanwhile, had been lost a few exits ago and had less than no idea what the adults were talking about. “Hunh?”

Miss Carson sighed and softened her voice, pulling back from her command voice. “Since you appear Chinese, if we hadn’t amended all of your records to show citizenship, they could have made a case for having you return to China, as the government would then stand in loco parentis, which means that they would become your guardians. Since the Chief assures me that you have been taken care of, document wise, then that really isn’t an issue. That reduces the possible issues arising from this meeting.”

“Oh.” Chou blinked a few times. All of that could have happened if she had gone to meet the guy? That only made her more nervous rather than less.

“I had Amelia take care of it shortly after you arrived, but she might not have gotten to it yet, given her workload. That was only one potential worry. Another might be the fact that as I am aware of it, your sword just might be considered a National Treasure of the Chinese people and they might take legal action against you for the sword. If nothing else, a legal battle might take the sword out of your possession and into the hands of lawyers,” replied Carson.

“I thought of that one. I can go there without my sword being visible,” offered Chou, hoping that would help.

“New ability?” asked Delarose calmly. This wasn’t all that surprising for that school.

“Talisman. I… just… do you think I should go? And what about Molly? Should she go as well?” Chou was worried about this and really wanted advice from someone she knew could help. So far the adults had only confused her more.

The line was quiet for a bit as thinking was occurring. “I think if you and Miss Harrington go to see him with Captain Tilley present, and spend no time alone with him, then things will be fine. In fact, such good things will get onto your MCO file, which can be helpful later in case either of you have a run-in with them.”

“Okay,” Chou sighed in relief, glad someone else had taken the burden of decision. She was way too young to get involved in international intrigue. She was just a high school freshman.

“Do you think I need to speak to the Harringtons?” asked Mrs. Carson, letting Chou decide this much.

“Uhm… sure.” Chou covered the phone and turned to Molly’s mother. “Mrs. Harrington, would you like to speak to Mrs. Carson? She has some ideas about this meeting.”

Mrs. Harrington nodded and took the phone from Chou. The girl retreated, taking her tea into the living room, sitting next to Molly. Molly rested a hand on the girl’s leg, which let her feel just how nervous Chou was. “It’ll be okay, sweetie.”

“Thanks. I’m just kind of overwhelmed by all of this stuff. It’s so not simple high school life anymore.”

Molly kissed the girl on the cheek, “I know, but you are my Soulmate and I will always be there for you.”

Chou smiled a bit weakly at that. It was helping, as was the tea. “Thank you, Molly.”

Chou took hold of her girlfriend’s hand and held it gently, their fingers intertwining. She needed this right now. They leaned against other and just sat there as Molly’s mother talked to the Headmistress and the Head of Security.

“You ever wonder what regular high school would be like?” asked Chou quietly.

“Well, we would never have met for one, and it would probably be boring. After one semester at Whateley I don’t think I could handle the pace of a normal school. It would be too slow and too boring,” replied Molly.

“Yeah, you’re probably right. At least I have you.” She turned to face Molly and the two kissed softly, more from love than passion. “Any idea what to do today?”

“I was kind of hoping to go see a movie together.” replied Molly. “I heard some decent things about ‘Eragon’ and ‘Night at the Museum’.”

“That might be fun. I actually just want to do something normal, something that doesn’t remind me of the whole superpowers thing,” grumbled Chou, almost pouting. “I’m tired of all of this.”

“Well, we can just hang out, talk, play in the snow, go ice skating, go shopping and basically goof off. Will that work for you?”

Chou nodded. “Can… can we go on a few dates?”

“Won’t these all be dates if my parents aren’t there?” replied Molly with a smile, eyes twinkling.

Chou blinked a few times, realizing that the girl was right. “Yeah. I hadn’t thought about that.”

“Oh… let’s figure out when we want to go see the movie. After that we can go and look at the books we got.” Molly’s grin was full of mischief and quite contagious.

The girls discussed the films and decided to go see ‘Night at the Museum’, as Ben Stiller was pretty funny. They were planning on going to the 4:30 showing, as it was the last matinee and that would allow them to go do something else if they wanted. Chou suggested that they go out to eat and she could pay. Now the girls waited for Mrs. Harrington to finish the call, which she did shortly.

“Chou, could you call Captain Tilley and let him know you and Molly are going to do this, but only if he is present,” asked Mrs. Harrington.

“Yes ma’am.”

As Chou went and made the call, Molly told her mother about the plan they had come up with, including Chou’s idea for dinner. Once all of that was worked out, the girls rushed upstairs to Chou’s room and drew out the sex book they had gotten.

The book was fairly thick and seemed to cover everything. It was a bit intimidating as they looked at the table of contents. It boggled their minds to see that actual sex stuff started in the sixth chapter and the previous five chapters were leading up to that. The other chapters covered Fantasies, Anatomy, Orgasm and all about relationships. The sixth chapter was on masturbation, and the How-to section on page 82 and 83 made them both blush furiously and almost gibber. The mention of playing with vegetables made them stammer and close the book. Chou wasn’t sure she would ever look at a salad the same way again.

“I… I… I… I… uhm… er… uhm… do… you know… do you… ever… you know…?” It took Chou a while to get the sentence out and even it was utterly disjointed.

Molly was blushing furiously and looking at the floor. “Y… ye… yeah. A couple of times a day.”

Chou seemed astounded by that. She blinked a few times, processing that and asked, “Really?”

“Well, yeah. It… well… it helps me sleep and… and… I… I like it.” Molly was busy trying not to look at the woman’s body on the cover. She really was. “Do you?”

“A couple of times. I… I feel kind of awkward doing it… like I’m doing something bad. And I just can’t keep going,” admitted Chou, also looking anywhere but at her girlfriend.

Molly laid a hand on Chou’s thigh, but the unexpected touch made the girl jump. This made Molly smile some. “It… it’s not a bad thing Chou. My mom told me that it was a good way to get to know what I like and how it all feels.”

“You know I didn’t start out in this body,” said Chou quietly.

“So? It’s yours now, right? You’re the one who washes it, right? You’re the one who has periods, right? You’re the one who starts panting when I nibble on your neck… right?” asked Molly, trying to make the point.

“Yeah,” admitted Chou.

“Maybe if you got a better feel for your body in this way you might kind of cope better?” offered Molly, guessing at what might be bothering her love.

“Maybe,” conceded the changeling a bit sadly. She still felt like she was wearing someone else’s skin.

“You know… maybe… maybe you’re not doing it right? I could help you… you know, show you how I do it, and maybe between that and the ideas in the book you might really get into it,” said Molly, blushing the whole while.

“Molly!”

“What? You mean to tell me you never thought about what I would look like without clothes?” She asked coyly.

Molly could feel the heat from where she was and grinned, as that response had been answer enough. “I’m not saying we do anything besides watch each other… but we could do that if it might help. I just want you to be happy Chou.”

Chou sat there silently, thinking about what Molly had said. If she really wasn’t accepting that part of her, the fact that she really was a girl now, then that might explain a few things. However, she wanted to go back to being Alex, being a girl was still weird and she still shuddered at her periods. How could girls stand them month after month after month? They were gross and bloody and icky and made her feel terrible. Why would she want to come to terms with that? How could anyone come to terms with that?

But still, Molly did have a point. Until she was able to defeat the Demon Lord of the Hell of Fiery Immersion there was no way for her to turn back. The box might even be destroyed for all she knew, trapping her like this forever. Molly just wanted her to be happy, but the girl wasn’t sure she would be able to be truly happy until she could return to being Alex. It was a worry that plagued her. “I… I don’t know Molly. Maybe? You know I am having issues dealing with this.”

Molly moved forward and hugged Chou tightly to her. “I know that, sweetie. Don’t stress about it. I thought it might be fun and might be a bit safer way to do more when making out but still not go all the way. Maybe start there and then maybe do that to each other.”

Chou smiled at Molly, noting the red the girl had most everywhere, including the tips of her ears. “Let me think about it. I might be more willing to do that to you than have you watch me. It would be embarrassing.”

Molly smiled and nodded. She could understand the sentiment. “It’s okay, Chou. Why don’t we go get some lunch and change the topic?”

Lunch helped matters, and Chou was able to regain her composure over bowls of clam chowder. She savored the taste and enjoyed it a great deal. They turned instead to talking about where they would go for dinner. Italian was brought up, as was someplace with basic American cuisine, but that didn’t sound right to Chou. She was actually craving Chinese food for some reason, which she did much more frequently than she was comfortable with. Her family had never been big on Asian food. There were apparently several good places in town and they picked one, planning on having a nice dinner.

After lunch, the girls headed back to the room to read some more. Molly wanted to look at some of the other books, which was fine with Chou. While Molly was reading about lesbian issues, Chou started looking through the collection of scrolls she had gotten from the Immortals at Christmas.

A lot of them seemed to focus a great deal on incorporating nerve strikes with the rest of her attacks. She liked the idea of being able to paralyze an opponent with a strike or two. It would certainly help in fights and would be a way to deal with Toni. Some of the strikes even did pretty messed-up things like Chi bleed out, amplification of one type of Chi over another, something that sounded suspiciously like Burnout and several other effects, including death. It was incredible and dangerous stuff.

She looked over a few of the moves, working out what was supposed to happen, visualizing the moves in her mind. That just might be fun, to use some of those strikes.

They stopped reading and decided to play a game to pass some of the time. The one Molly chose was something Chou had never even heard of before. Chou and Molly were playing Settlers of Catan, each trying to defeat the other in terms of road building and construction. Chou was having fun, as she had never played the game before. The trade aspect was pretty interesting and even though she was losing she was getting a kick out of things.

Mrs. Harrington came in shortly followed by Becca Stone. “Someone to see you Chou. She said she was your Mentor?”

Chou quickly got up and came over to Becca. They hugged briefly. “Thank you for coming.”

“Think nothing of it. I will do what I can to help you in this.” replied Becca.

“So, any idea why I might be worried about this?” asked Chou.

“Have you searched the Tao for your answers?” countered Becca.

“Uhm… no. I hadn’t thought about it.” Chou blushed in embarrassment, realizing that should have been one of her first actions.

“Remember, you relying on other people for connection to the Tao can only get you in trouble,” wryly commented Becca.

Chou narrowed her eyes, “I know that.”

“Well then, you really need to remember that. Did you want to check with the Tao first? We can wait for you. The more you practice that, the faster you’ll get until it becomes second nature.”

Chou sighed and closed her eyes, deepening her breathing. In less than ten breaths, she felt the touch of the Tao and it soothed her. She asked about the issue with the Chinese Cultural Attaché. She felt a sense of warning deepen. It all focused around Destiny’s Wave. If the man saw the weapon, he would recognize it. This would be bad on so many levels that it would not be funny. She exhaled and opened her eyes. “The man will recognize Destiny’s Wave and take steps to get it for China.”

Molly stated, “Then don’t bring the sword.”

Becca added, “Or at any rate don’t reveal the sword. I was informed that Sun Wu Kong gave you a talisman to hide it. Knowing the Monkey King, it will be proof against any form of detection. I think you can safely wear Destiny’s Wave and she will remain hidden. Or I can hold her for you.”

Chou nodded, listening to Becca. “So what am I going to tell him when he asks about my sword?”

Becca smiled. “You can say that the sword was left behind because bringing a weapon in front of a diplomat is frowned upon.”

“Okay. I think I can deal with this.”

“Do you need me there?” asked Becca.

Chou thought about it. “I think if you accompany us part of the way it should be fine. I think I will leave Destiny’s Wave with you, just to remain on the safe side. We will see what happens from there. Having Captain Tilley present might be the best plan overall.”’

“That should work then. Do we know when you both are meeting this person?”

“Not yet. Captain Tilley is going to call us when he has the information,” added Molly helpfully.

“Well then, we just need to wait,” stated Becca.

Molly smiled at her and asked, “Do you want to play Settlers of Catan with us?”

Becca blinked. She had never heard of this game and was intrigued. “Please, I am sure I would enjoy it.”

The three of them played one game, and for the next game Mrs. Harrington joined them as well. Becca had gotten the hang of the game by the second time she played, which upped the level of skill being applied. All in all the four of them had a good time.

It was about three in the afternoon when the call they were worried about came. Captain Tilley informed Mrs. Harrington that the meeting was to be tomorrow at eleven in the morning. They got all the arrangements about when and where to meet Captain Tilley, and where they would change into their costumes. They were still nervous about the meeting, but it seemed like they had taken care of things the best they could. Now they could only wait and hope.

The topic of conversation turned from ‘I got wood for sheep’ to this meeting with a member of the Chinese government. This stupid meeting had taken over their life and it was making them all crazy. The sooner they had the stupid meeting, the sooner that they would be able to focus on something else.

Molly and Chou had been pondering shopping in the Mall instead of a movie. Well, Molly wanted to shop, and Chou just wanted to hang out with her girlfriend. Mrs. Harrington had no problem with it and neither did Becca. That made Molly happy and Chou just sort of smiled.

They took off for the Mall pretty quickly and they just wandered about. Chou wasn’t looking for clothes or anything, just enjoying browsing the area. That all ended when Molly squealed and dragged her in the direction of a store. Chou’s eyes went wide when she managed to figure out what the store was. Harajuka Palace was a specialty store that specialized on the kind of clothes that could be seen in the Shibuya area in Tokyo. The various street fashions had caught on with some people in the U.S., and the chain was small but growing. Anime fans were keeping it a mostly thriving business and they were expanding their market.

Molly seemed tickled by all the outfits that were there, and was searching through the totally screwed up fashions for things. She plucked several things off the racks and headed for the dressing rooms, dragging Chou along, who was standing there stunned by the panoply of colors, styles, and accessories available. She could only blink in surprise. She barely reacted when Molly dumped a few things into her arms and shoved her into a dressing room.

This sort of shook her from her stupor and she looked at the armful of outfits, most of which seemed to be black dresses with lace everywhere. She sighed and hung them up, looking at them. They all looked like dresses little girls or dolls might wear, strange little girls to be sure. This confused Chou and she had no idea what to do, especially the one with the somewhat poofy slip attached. “Molly?”

“What?” called the girl from the dressing room next to hers.

“What am I supposed to do?” The clothes confused Chou and it actually made her a bit nervous.

“Try on the clothes and let me see how you look,” replied Molly.

“I have no idea how to put some of this stuff on,” complained Chou.

“Can you see if someone who works here can help you figure it out?”

Chou looked out of the room and flagged down some girl who was dressed somewhat Rockabilly but had a employee badge on a lanyard. “Excuse me, can I get your help?”

“Sure. What are you trying on?” The black haired girl whose nametag read Gwen came closer.

Chou looked at some of the stuff in a bit of a daze. “Uhm… black dresses with frills and lace.”

“Okay. That sounds like some of the Gothic Lolita stuff. I can help you get dressed in that if you want?” Gwen seemed very confident if nothing else.

Chou was trying to figure out what that meant. What the hell was ‘Gothic Lolita’? Gwen came in to the dressing room after Chou undressed and helped her get into the bloomers and then the petticoat. After that came the lacy blouse and then the dress, which seemed to be all ruffles and bows and lace. Chou let that slip onto her body. The woman stood back and looked at Chou. “You’re almost finished. Just a minute.”

The woman glanced at Chou’s shoes and left, returning quickly with this little piece of rectangular lace, some leggings, and a pair of Mary Janes. “Okay. You need to put on the leggings and shoes. I can help you with the hat.”

Chou nodded and got the leggings and the shoes on. Everything felt weird and the fact that there was no mirror in the room wasn’t helping any. She felt awkward and uncomfortable. Once she was done and she opened the curtain to the room, the woman helped put the headdress on, tying a bow in the lace that was holding it onto her head. The woman stepped back and smiled. “You look adorable.”

Chou stepped out and turned to the mirror. She gasped when she saw herself. She looked like one of the old time dolls or something out of a Victorian era story. She was stunned. She reached up and touched the dress and the image in the mirror moved in response. While she stared at herself and the image she portrayed, Molly came out of her dressing room in something similar but more elaborate. The girl squealed and clapped when she saw Chou. “Oh My God… you look so adorable.”

Chou snapped back to reality and turned to face Molly. Chou’s jaw dropped, she was so blown away by what Molly was wearing that she really couldn’t do much else. There was more lace and bows than on her dress, including some at the tops of the leggings. Molly looked so amazingly cute in the outfit that it took Chou’s breath away. She gaped a bit and then said, “Wow!”

Molly blushed happily. “You like it?”

“It’s really cute and totally different from what I’m used to seeing you in,” admitted Chou.

“Well, I got interested in this store and the kinds of fashions here after a friend showed me some of her manga, a few which dealt with Gothic Lolitas. I’ve always wanted to go to one of these stores but I didn’t know one came here. That’s so awesome. What do you think? Should we buy them?” explained Molly.

“Where are we going to wear them?” asked Chou, completely confused.

“School.”

Chou just looked at her girlfriend, stunned by the single word, hoping that reality would strike at some point. When it did, Molly looked kind of sad. “I just thought they were cute and fun.”

“Yeah, but think of the various people who might make comments, such as Peeps and Grease,” clarified Chou, absolutely positive that the Two Perverts of Whateley would take something fun and twist it, like they did everything.

“Those two ruin everything.” grumped Molly.

“That’s true. How about we plan on getting some come spring break or summer and we can wear them then?” It was a compromise, and one which Chou hoped her unhappy girlfriend would take her up on. Just the thought of those two seeing her dressed like this made her feel almost dirty. There were other people to worry about as well, but those two stood out from all the rest.

Molly frowned but nodded. Then a wicked smile crept on her face. “Okay. But you have to do something in return.”

Chou got a little worried. There was no telling what Molly might want in return. “What?”

Molly leaned in and whispered to Chou just what she wanted in return. Chou’s face burned with the blush.

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“Well?”

“Ah… it was nice,” replied Chou, rather flushed and still breathing hard. Her hair was still wet from the shower and she was a little wobbly from everything. It was a bit difficult for her to focus at the moment.

“So you liked it?” Molly seemed very pleased with herself.

Chou nodded.

“A lot?”

Chou blushed and nodded again.

“Do you feel bad about it?”

Chou shook her head negative, still examining the floor in the guest room.

“Will you do it again?”

Another nod, barely perceptible was the response.

Molly beamed at her girlfriend. “See, I told you it was a must do. It looks like you got a better idea of what it should feel like now. That’s good. When you’re in your PJ’s come on downstairs for cocoa.”

Molly left and Chou slumped against the bed, still trembling from the after effects of her shower. Molly might look like a quiet, shy girl normally, but when they were alone or among friends, the transformation was terrifying. Chou could barely believe that Molly had asked her to do that. It had taken a washcloth in her teeth to keep from anybody finding out just what was going on in there, and even that had barely been enough.

The fact that she had done that and had actually enjoyed it was a major change from her timid explorations during the fall. She hadn’t really had a clue what she had been doing but had been told roughly what to do in order to pleasure herself. The first time had been uncomfortable and the second had been awkward and didn’t really give her any relief. This time… This time had been incredibly different. The adjustable showerhead and a better knowledge of her body allowed her to feel all sorts of pleasure as wave after wave of orgasms rocked her body. She had shuddered for a bit after she had finished and her body was still trying to come back.

Chou had to admit that Molly’s idea was nice, actually more than nice if she were being honest with herself. Between the book and Molly’s suggestion, she had a better idea of the whole masturbation thing. She had been too embarrassed to ask anyone about this, and she had not been really comfortable exploring down there. Now however, she was regretting not asking.

When her legs felt like they could better support her, Chou got dressed in her PJs and headed downstairs. Molly was sitting there with a smug look on her face, the mug of cocoa near her lips as she gazed at her girlfriend with hungry eyes. Chou blushed and got her own cocoa.

When she sat down, Molly looked over at her and said, “I love you.”

“I love you too. Are you ready for tomorrow?” asked Chou.

“As ready as I can be. Are you going to bring Destiny’s Wave?”

Chou thought about that for a moment, feeling what the answer might be. “Yeah, I am. If Sun Wu Kong did the talisman, then I doubt anyone would be able to see through it. I think I will feel better if she’s with me.”

“What is her opinion on the matter?”

“I haven’t asked yet. I suppose I should. Once I finish my cocoa then I’ll head up and talk to her.”

“You girls need anything?” called Mrs. Harrington from the kitchen area.

“No thank you,” they both answered together and then giggled.

They snuggled together and kissed each other. Chou and Molly both lingered over their warm mugs of chocolaty goodness. Molly’s mother had put a slight dash of chili powder in the drink and it made the drink a thousand times better.

All good things come to an end, and the cocoa ended in a final slurp. They stood and walked up the stairs, hand in hand. They said their good nights and kissed before separating into their own rooms. Chou went in and drew out Destiny’s Wave.

“I have a problem,” stated Chou, with no preamble.

“What is it?”

Chou explained the problem and her worry about this meeting with the Attaché. “So, what do you think?”

The sword was quiet for a moment. “I am sure that you are getting some sort of warning but I don’t have enough to base anything on. You are the only one who can work things out from such vague feelings. If you are worried then you need to take action.”

“Like what?” asked Chou, honestly unsure what sort of actions she could take in this situation.

“I don’t know. Being on your guard, not showing me off, things like that? Perhaps that should be sufficient,” commented the sword.

“I hope so. I really can’t think of anything else to do. I feel that leaving you somewhere is asking for trouble but so is taking you.”

“This is a problem. Well, just do what feels right to you.”

“I guess that’s all I can do,” admitted Chou. “I don’t like that but what else can I do?”

“When in doubt the Handmaid should just stop thinking about it and just do what comes to mind. Instinct can be a real ally for you.”

Chou was getting ready to answer but she broke into a huge yawn, which stretched the edges of her mouth. “Oh… sorry. I guess I really need to get some sleep.”

“Sleep well, Chou.”

While this was happening Molly was in her bedroom, reading all she could, giggling occasionally, and also gasping in shock every now and then. Molly grinned mischievously as this was certainly useful information. She was sure that she could turn this to her favor. Not that Chou would be the only one to truly benefit from her expanding knowledge. Yes, this book was well worth the cost. Maybe she needed to find a way to buy some lube. According to the book, it might be helpful.

Tuesday 2 January 2007
Boston Massachusetts

Chou and Molly both fidgeted nervously in the backseat of the car. They were on their way toward their meeting with the Cultural Attaché. Captain Tilley was driving them and was also a bit nervous, truth be told. Becca was in the car and was planning on being available if something was needed. Chou had a number of the ofuda or prayer sheets on hand and ready to use, and had worn clothing she could move in if it became necessary. Her uniform was good for that and she was wearing the Robe of Midnight. Chou was terrified that it just might come to blows and really didn’t want to do that.

They pulled up to the building that held the offices of the Consulate, and headed inside. Chou made sure that the Talisman was securely attached to Destiny’s Wave in the Elevator, and sighed. She really hoped that her feelings were just nerves and not a warning of an upcoming fight. The last thing she wanted to do was end up in a fight with a Chinese Diplomat because of the sword or about anything else. That simply couldn’t end well.

Captain Tilley smiled at the two teenagers. “Things should be okay. If not, I have my radio and a team prepped for emergency response.”

“Thank you sir,” replied Chou.

“Don’t worry about it. You guys have done some pretty good things for my town the times you’ve come here. So I kind of want to make sure we manage to keep that track record up.” He grinned at them just before the doors opened. “Showtime.”

With Chou and Molly in their costumes, they were quickly ushered back to the Attaché himself fairly quickly. Chou kept telling herself time and again that she needed to just speak English, as her Chinese would give something away. The gentleman who headed toward them was thin, and taller than they had expected, with close-cropped hair. He had a diplomat’s smile. He bowed to them and extended his hand. “Thank you for coming to see me.”

”You are welcome.” replied Molly. Their plan had been for Molly to take the lead in this instance, to present thing in a way they really weren’t as better cover. Hopefully it would work. “My name is Gateway and this is Bladedancer.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you. On behalf of the Chinese Government, I would like to thank you for your timely rescue of a precious National Treasure.” He bowed formally to them.

Molly led the bow in return somewhat awkwardly. “You are quite welcome. Shortly before the attack, we were admiring the scroll. It is beautiful. Who did it?”

The man grinned, obviously pleased to be sharing knowledge about his people with this young woman. He did enjoy teaching Westerners about the glories of the Middle Kingdom. “It was done by a poet of the T’ang dynasty named Li Bai. Most Westerners know him as Li Po. He was a wandering poet for a while until he came to the attention of the Emperor. From then on he was one of the court poets.”

“Thank you for that. I can’t even remember what the little card said.” Molly giggled some. This seemed to be going well so far.

The man turned to face Chou, his eyes sharp like a hawk, “And what did you think of the scroll?”

“It… it was really pretty,” replied Chou. She had decided that playing shy might play in her favor. She was feeling shy anyway so it was fairly easy.

“Despite the diversity of this nation I am always surprised to see a daughter of the Middle Kingdom,” commented the man.

Alarm bells went off in her head and her senses went on high alert. This was a lead-in to something, and it made her extra wary. She managed to keep her Chi from expanding only through concerted effort. “Uh… thank you?”

“Do you know much of your cultural heritage?” he asked, while watching her closely, a faint smile on his lips.

“Well, my dad taught me some, his dad had come over here from Wudan and passed things on to him and then to me.” Chou shrugged, and looked down. She could feel the warmth of his Chi beat down on her and she could sense the trap coming in to place. Everything in her screamed to attack but she resisted.

“Really? Then perhaps, you might be interested in coming to visit China over the summer. You could learn something of our culture and meet others who have been trained as you are.” The man’s chi was focused on getting her to agree and she had the distinct impression that if she took the man up on his offer that she wouldn’t be returning from China anytime in the near future.

“Can… can I think about it?” She thought shy in order to make her words and energy fit what was needed. This was harder than she thought it would be.

“Of course.” He reached back and was handed a pamphlet, with a business card stapled to it. The man held it in both hands for a moment before offering it to her. “This has all the information needed for the program.”

The Tao filled her with a rush just before the pamphlet hit her hand. She could feel the power of the spell hit, and she blinked as the energy hit her and rolled through her own energy. The hooks tied to the magic struggled to find a place to connect within her aura, but failed to find a hold. As she inhaled, she could read the spell’s purpose and digest what it meant. Her voice grew enthusiastic, “Thank you so very much sir. I will make sure talk to my parents about this right away. Thank you.”

The smile that was turned to her was familial, almost avuncular, “It is we who would be honored to have the chance to better introduce you to your heritage.”

Chou smiled and then shyly turned her face back to the floor. This development troubled her. Something was obviously going on in China. She needed to discover what it was and end it. To abuse other kids like that, to hit them unawares with spells of that coercive nature was just not right. It was evil. The Headmistress needed to know about this as did other people… maybe even the MCO. She would let Mrs. Carson make that decision.

“Well, it was a pleasure getting to meet you sir. We must be going,” said Molly, having sort of felt some of what was going on with Chou through the power of the Moonsilver Heart. She could feel the barest whispers of the power that had washed over her love.

“Certainly,” The man replied. “It was indeed an honor to meet the two young ladies who protected such a National Treasure. Thank you again.”

Chou spoke up, somewhat timidly, sure that this would fit within the framework of the spell. “Is… is there any way I can get a copy of that scroll?”

The man chuckled some. “I think that can be arranged. I take it we should inform Captain Tilley when we have it?”

Chou just nodded, still wary for any other action against them.

“Good bye,” both girls said.

“Dzaijian.” He bowed to them and headed out of the room.

Both girls breathed a sigh of relief when they got back into the elevator and away from the public eye. They hustled back into the car and once those doors were closed the two of them fully relaxed, sinking into the cushions. Molly turned to face Chou, “What happened in there? I could tell that something did, but not what.”

“They tried to cast a spell on me. It was pretty subtle but the Tao blocked it. It was a type of compulsion that had gotten woven into the nature of the pamphlet,” said Chou, her eyes closed.

This grabbed Becca’s attention and she looked closely at Chou. “May I see that?”

“Certainly.” Chou was more than happy to get rid of the thing. It felt dirty and tainted to her and she really wanted to have no part in it.

Becca’s eyes widened when she took hold of the sheet. It was clear that she could identify the object. “Well, I guess this explains the sense of worry you felt.”

Captain Tilley frowned. He hated it when things got complicated in his town. “What exactly is it?”

“There is a spell built into this pamphlet that is activated by the personal energy of she whose card is attached. Otherwise, it lies dormant. However, it will compel whoever the spell hits to want to go to China for this ‘experience’. Once there they will be extremely susceptible to any other spells put upon them.”

They could all hear the man grip the steering wheel angrily, the plastic creaking under his hands. “I ought to chase that bastard out of the country. Fucking Diplomatic Immunity.”

“Chou, Molly, I was going to spend the day with you but I think it will be more important now to head back to the school and to show this to several people,” replied Becca, carefully wrapping the pamphlet in a section of cloth which she produced to insulate it, keeping the spell from leaking too much energy.

“That’s okay. I think this particular thing needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible, and it would be good if they handled it rather than me.” The look on Chou’s face was grim and at least two people in the car knew what was being mentioned. Molly was still amazed by what the Handmaid had to do sometimes.

Mrs. Harrington was waiting for them when they returned to the station. She could tell by the looks on their faces that something had happened, and after Becca had summed up everything they had learned, looked particularly affronted. “I ought to go and give him a piece of my mind!”

“Don’t worry Mom, I am sure that it is going to be dealt with,” replied Molly with a sigh. “Becca is going to let the school know and that should start that ball rolling.”

“Well, okay. I just can’t believe some people.” It was clear that she was upset with the whole situation. Having her daughter put herself into dangerous situations willingly was making her a bit crazy.

“It’ll be okay, Mrs. Harrington. Thankfully, it came against me and I was able to stop it. I’m scared what might have happened if it had been given to Molly,” remarked Chou, happy that things did work out the way they had. She also wondered if the man had any clue who he had tried to enspell. If he had, would he have been so sure?

As they headed toward the doors of the building, Chou and Becca both paused, stopping the Harringtons. Chou narrowed her eyes in concentration while Becca was scanning what she could see. Chou said, “There is someone out there trying to search for us.”

Becca smiled, “I can take care of this.”

While she walked out, Chou and the others moved back into the building. Who would be looking for them? It had to be the Chinese Consul. That was the only thing that made any sense. It was probably a means to ensure that the spell took hold and ensnared who it was meant to ensnare. This was something that needed to be corrected, but until she really had a target, any action would not help. However, once she knew who was responsible for this they would be cut down mercilessly. This was an affront to the dignity of a human soul. To control someone like that… it was wrong. Chou would not let something like this stand.

Maybe she did need to travel to China, to deal with this issue where it had taken root and had begun to fester? Becca would be fine with that but would the school, especially after hearing about this? Maybe she would need some sort of pretext to go there? She wasn’t sure but was positive that the Tao would provide.

Becca came back smiling after about ten minutes. “I took care of him.”

“How?” asked Chou.

“I created spell people. He is chasing illusions of two girls and two mothers. They don’t look like anyone and have gone off to lead him on a wild goose chase. I checked for any other spies and saw no one else. I suggest you try to stay out of the downtown area for a few days, to keep them from finding you again.”

Chou and Molly nodded, understanding the need for such worry. Mrs. Harrington seemed a bit overwhelmed by all of this. She had never wanted to venture into this world of heroes and villains. “So it will be safe?”

Becca smiled, “You should be just fine. I need to take off to get this to the school before it has a chance to degrade.”

After Becca left, Molly, Chou, and Mrs. Harrington went to a diner another town over to get some lunch. The meal was good, as was the pie they all had for dessert. Everyone savored the sweetness. Once they had finished cleaning their plates, they all headed back to the house to relax. Once there, Chou excused herself and wandered into the forest. She was feeling a bit worried about matters and needed some privacy to think. Molly stayed with her mother in the warmth of the house.

A short while after Chou left Molly came up to her mother, who was enjoying a cup of tea and sat down, looking pensive. “What’s wrong, Cuddlebug?”

“Mom… how do you know if you’re ready to have sex?”

Her mother managed to spit the tea back in the cup and not all over her daughter. It had been a close call. “What?”

“Well, lately I’ve been having dreams about Chou and really wanting to do… more than what we do,” shyly admitted Molly.

“Which is?”

“Kiss… and… touch each other’s breasts.” Molly’s face was bright red but she knew she had to have this conversation. It was important, even if she wanted to crawl under the couch in embarrassment.

Her mother nodded. She had figured as much, based on what Molly had said earlier, but it still was a shock to hear. “And you want to… do more?”

“Yes.” The word was almost a whisper.

Molly’s mother regarded her daughter carefully. In a lot of ways, she was a lot more mature than when she had left for school, but was still clearly her little girl. That Molly still trusted her enough to come to her to talk made her feel better. “Well, do you feel pressured to do this?”

“No. This is something I want, I think. I’m not sure. How do you know?”

Her mother smiled. “Well, I know you love her and trust her and from what I have seen, she is a wonderful girl. From what you two have said, this is probably going to be a forever thing. Have you talked about this?”

“Some. Chou has some… complicated self-image issues that she is dealing with. I want to help her and I want to do more than just kiss and stuff. Is that a bad thing?” Molly sounded worried and clearly confused.

“Molly, it almost sounds like you are more ready for this than Chou is. Don’t force her or it may make her resent you. You don’t want that, as it will eat you two up. Give her some space and time, and be there for her but you’ll have to wait. At least I am fairly sure that you are not going to get pregnant from her. That is a comfort. Just be happy and go at the pace that feels right. If you don’t have sex for a while, then that’s okay. This isn’t a race, Cuddlebug.”

Molly nodded. “Okay. Thanks Mom.”

“No problem sweetie. I’m just glad you trusted me enough to talk to me. I just want to make sure you are okay. You’re my baby girl.” She got up out of her chair and hugged Molly.

Molly relaxed into her mother’s hug, happy to have gotten some advice that helped her to make better sense of what was going on with her. She did need to talk with Chou and maybe they might just go a little bit farther. As long as Chou was good with it, that is.

Wednesday 3 January 2007
Boston Massachusetts

Molly awoke smiling. Her mom was headed back to work as well, so the girls had the house to themselves. Molly knew that they needed to talk, and she knew that Chou got skittish sometimes on certain topics and was uncertain how to proceed. This might just set her off again, so she would have to be careful.

Chou was already up and dressed, having woken up early enough for her Tai Chi practice. Molly knew it was supposed to be good for you, but it held no real interest for her right now. Maybe in a year or so it might? It might give her some combat ability, which didn’t really appeal to her at all at the moment. She really did hate fighting and hated that she had to participate in combat finals at all. The beating she had taken during the finals had not been pretty. At least she had gotten a good grade for doing her best and trying to use a plan.

Molly came up and hugged Chou as the girl came in from outside, kissing her good morning. Chou responded and hugged Molly tightly. The girl could feel the cold that had seeped into her love’s clothes. “Morning’ love.”

“Morning’ Cuddlebug.” Chou’s grin was broad and teasing.

“Don’t you start. So, any ideas for today?”

“I figured we could talk about the whole Dorjee thing. I mean, I’m not sure what to do about it and I don’t want this to become a wedge between us. We have some issues there to go over.” Chou looked down, not sure that she could look Molly in the eye while she said this. She was afraid of seeing any pain in her love’s eyes.

“Could we not? I have some stuff I want to talk to you about that I think is a bit more important,” countered Molly nervously.

“Oh… okay.” Chou looked up and smiled a bit weakly. She knew that they needed to talk about the issue, but if Molly really didn’t want to she couldn’t force her. It just felt like a sword hanging overhead ready to drop on her at any moment.

Molly felt a bit awkward now that the moment was there. She wasn’t sure how to start things off. How was she going to be able to start the conversation? “Uhm… let me get some breakfast and then we can talk.”

Chou nodded and made herself some tea while Molly got herself a bowl of Fruit Loops. She ate while Chou sipped her green tea. Molly was really struggling for some sort of way to start this conversation that didn’t sound totally horrid. How exactly did you tell your girlfriend that you would like to do more when making out?

Maybe they just needed to go up to her room and start making out and she could sort of push things? But, was that really fair to Chou? Molly wasn’t a fan of complicated ethical questions, but knew she had to do this the right way or things might get screwed up between them. She loved Chou too much to screw things up over something so stupid and easy to fix. Maybe she should just come right out and say it? Would that really work?

Molly took her dishes into the kitchen and sighed. It was now or never. “Chou?”

“Yes?”

“I… I… want to take our relationship a bit farther.”

Chou stared at Molly’s back, trying to figure out what she was talking about. “How so?”

“Well… you know how we haven’t done more than make out…” her voice sort of drifted quiet, almost too embarrassed to go on. This was a lot harder than she thought it would be.

“Yes,” replied Chou, wondering where Molly was going with this.

“Well… I… uhm… well… I want to do more than what we’ve been doing.” Molly’s face grew brighter and brighter red as she talked.

“Oh.” Chou was speechless. Molly wanted to do… more. A tremor of fear and desire ran through her. She certainly wanted more as Molly made her feel things she had never felt before, but she was also terrified of what it might mean if she gave in. Would that mean that she really was okay with this body and didn’t want to go back to being Alex? She wasn’t sure, and words failed her.

Molly was unsure of how to interpret what was going on with Chou. She could see that something was going on in her head but was unsure what. It was a terrible time not to be telepathic. She bit her lower lip worriedly. She waited; everything was currently in Chou’s hands.

Chou bit her own lip as she thought. Surely enjoying yourself wasn’t an admission of acceptance? Was it? She liked masturbating so would this really be that bad? Did she want to do more? She replied with a blush, “I… I think I would be willing to try.”

Molly smiled at her, a flood of happiness rushing through her. “Are you sure?”

Chou nodded, her heart racing and her palms growing sweaty.

Molly smiled a bit more coyly and reached out a hand to her girlfriend. “Well, no time like the present.”

Chou took Molly’s hand and followed her brown-haired love up the stairs and into her bedroom. The two sat down on her bed, facing each other. Molly brushed a strand of hair from Chou’s face and then leaned forward into a kiss. Chou sighed happily into it.

They kissed for a while, their hands drifting over each other’s bodies in a way that was familiar, that they had done numerous times before. Molly nibbled Chou’s ear lightly, then licking and sucking the girl’s lovely skin. Molly loved how beautiful Chou was and felt a sense of pride that her girlfriend was so hot. She gently sucked on the skin of her neck, pulling it slightly.

Chou moaned, reveling in the feelings that were rushing through her. The more Molly licked and nibbled her neck, the tighter her nipples got. She could feel herself growing wet, which was an almost disturbing feeling. She turned things around and proceeded to kiss and nibble on Molly’s neck, as that was less disturbing. She began to knead one breast with one hand, enjoying the feel of Molly’s nipple hardening into her palm. Her whole body felt alive with sensation, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

Molly tugged Chou’s shirt off, baring her breasts and her bra. This was new, as most everything they had done had been through their blouses and bras, not taking the chance of being caught topless in the library. Molly then lowered one of the straps as she was kissing her way down to Chou’s breasts, taking control of things. She rubbed the silky material, playing with the erect nipple, which drew startled moans from her love. She then pulled the fabric of the cup down, exposing Chou more than ever before and Molly tentatively reached out with her tongue and flicked the nipple.

Chou sucked in air deeply as Molly began to lick and suck her there, trailing her tongue in circles around Chou’s tightened areola, and she arched her back as if trying to force more of herself into the girl’s mouth. When Molly came up for air, Chou pulled her up some and took Molly’s shirt off of her, leaving her similarly exposed. Molly grinned in what she hoped was a seductive manner and undid her bra, letting her breasts be viewed completely for the first time.

Chou’s hands went to Molly’s exposed breasts, which were larger than hers by a full cup size, and began to massage them, tracing her fingers around the nipples, flicking them occasionally with the pads of her fingers. Molly leaned in closer, reached around Chou with both arms, and unsnapped her bra. Chou’s nipples tightened even more when exposed to the cool air of the house. She shivered slightly and she wasn’t sure why.

Molly bent her head down and took a breast into her mouth, quickly sucking and flicking the nipple with her tongue. The new sensation was driving all thought out of her head, and Chou throatily moaned, “Molly.”

Molly smiled, sure that this would have been fun, as it was an extension of what they had already done, simply going to the next logical step up. She wanted to play some more with Chou’s breasts before going any further though. She really wanted to make sure that Chou was completely in the mood and as aroused as she could get her. Molly was well aware that she herself was wet and excited, but wanted to make sure Chou had time to get there as well.

The Asian girl was riding a wave of pleasure, feeling herself grow wetter and wetter, something she had learned meant that she was aroused. When before she had simply gotten hard, she now lubed up and got ready for more sex. It shook her knowing how much she wanted Molly right now, and how intense the feel of her soulmate’s lips upon her breasts felt. That sensation was making the disquiet she felt about her body and this act fade. “Oh god Molly… I want you.”

Molly redoubled her kissing and sucking, flicking the nipples in a certain rhythm that she hoped her love enjoyed. She drifted one hand farther down Chou’s belly, to the waist band of her yoga pants. Chou felt like her skin was on fire, and the sensations were almost too intense for her to bear. She was trembling under Molly’s hand.

The fingers slipped under the band and to Chou’s panties. Molly’s fingers slipped under the soft cotton and played in the sparse hair she found there. She pulled her hand out and then ran it down the outside of the panties. She could feel how wet she was, as the crotch was soaked. Part of her wanted nothing more than to dive in there, to use her fingers and tongue to explore her lover, but another louder part, was telling her to stop, that this wasn’t right, that she needed to do something, anything else. She began to feel uncomfortable, as if someone was watching her, judging her. So she brought her hand up and out, trembling as she went back to what she had been doing before.

Her discomfort rose and Molly stopped, sitting back, the overwhelming tide of warring emotions breaking out into tears that spilled down her face. She felt ashamed and almost dirty. Chou lay there panting, sort of in a daze of lust, just blinking at the girl and trying to figure out why she had stopped. “Molly?”

This only got the girl to start crying more. Chou sat up, glad that the discomfort she had – between the feelings she had been experiencing and how she saw her own body – that had been growing louder, had ended. She hugged her love to her, making soothing sounds. “Shhhh… love… shhh, it’ll be okay. We don’t have to do any more. It’s alright.”

Molly shook some more, the tears still rolling down her face. “I… I… I thought I was ready. I… I just feel bad.”

“It’s okay love. Maybe… maybe we just went too far? If we just stay where we’re at for a while we might be ready later. I don’t think I was ready either. It’s okay.” Chou could feel a slight tickle of the Tao rolling up her spine, as if it were helping her navigate this treacherous emotional morass.

“You… you still love me?” The eyes turned towards her were full of need and fear.

Chou bent her head down and kissed Molly softly on the lips. “I will always love you.”

Molly’s tears slowed as she shook topless in Chou’s arms.

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Hours later and after a cold shower for the both of them, the girls sat in the living room facing each other. Chou smiled gently at her still somewhat upset girlfriend, patting her on the thigh. “It’s really okay Molly.”

“I’m so embarrassed.”

“For what? For getting twitchy doing something you haven’t done before? How is that really a problem?” asked Chou, seriously worried about her love.

“I… I just wanted things to be special,” lamented Molly.

“Molly, things were wonderful, but rushing won’t get us anywhere. We have forever together, so there really is no need to hurry off and take things farther than we are ready for. You’re not going to lose me.” Chou cupped Molly’s face gently, hoping that the truth of those words would penetrate her love.

Molly nodded slightly, not wanting to break contact with Chou’s hand. She looked up at Chou with her eyes wet from possible tears. “I just love you so much.”

“I love you too.”’

“I just wanted to make you happy.”

“Baby, you already make me happy.” Chou leaned in and kissed Molly. “You don’t have to prove anything to me.”

“I think I may have been trying to prove something to me. You know, I never even thought about women before I met you, you know that?” said Molly.

Chou just nodded. She remembered.

“I… I wanted it to be special…”

“It will be Molly. When we finally go all the way, it will be special.”

“I didn’t even like girls…”

“I know. I know.”

“And I just wanted to prove to you I could do this,” whined Molly.

“To me or to you?” asked Chou, well aware that it sounded like Molly was trying to show herself.

“To me… I guess. It’s just that… I don’t know. I don’t really like women that way, but I do with you. I like boys that way but that doesn’t matter to me because of you. If I’m a lesbian because I love you, then I want to know what that means. I want to make you happy.” Molly sniffled her way through that, voice almost breaking several times.

“Molly, sweetie, I just want you to be you. You don’t have to be a lesbian to love me. You don’t have to go any farther than you are comfortable with for me. You just need to find a place that would make you happy, as that makes me happy,” stated Chou, pulling her love into her arms, holding her tight. “I love you and there are no caveats to it. I just love you.”

The kiss they shared was soft and filled with love. They just sat there in each other’s arms, looking out onto the snow covered forest.

Thursday 4 January 2007
Boston Massachusetts

”So where are we going?” asked Chou.

Molly turned to smile at her girlfriend. “Well, I figured that we might enjoy checking out another museum. This one is going to be a bit safer I think. The Harvard campus is protected in a way similar to school, so it should be fine. Besides, there is a whole field of glass flowers there which is so amazingly cool that you just have to see it to believe it.”

That did sound kind of cool to Chou, and to be on a protected campus for a while might be nice as well. It would allow her to lower some of her own defenses to a degree and relax some. Staying hidden from the Demon Lord of the Hell of Fiery Immersion was definitely a big priority for her, and school was one of the few places where she didn’t have to keep her energy as sealed as she could, just to hide. To be able to relax that, even for a little while, made her happy.

They had taken the bus in, for variety’s sake. Chou was interested in the variety of people she was seeing getting on and off the bus. She had her Chi opened enough that she could sort of perceive where the people fit in the local weave of the Tao, and it was interesting. She was wondering what she would be able to do with this information, but she didn’t want to spend too much time trying to work out all of the details. Later she could work that out and figure out what she could do with the information. In a lot of ways she was actually looking forward to seeing the museum and trying to get things back to normal with Molly. Her girlfriend was still acting a little off from the little sexual misadventure yesterday. Chou was worried.

They left the bus at the Harvard stop and walked onto the campus. Both Molly and Chou shuddered slightly as they walked through the mystical barrier that surrounded the campus, keeping out a majority of the demonic forces, among other things. The two girls sighed, turned to face each other, and then giggled. Their smiles stayed with them as they headed hand in hand to the Natural History Museum.

The girls walked into the building, through the gift stores, and straight into the room with the glass flowers. Chou’s eyes went wide with delight when she saw them. She was sure that there was no way for them to be real glass. The work was exquisite. It seemed like it had to have been done by some sort of mutant with the ability to control glass, as they seriously looked like real flowers, color and everything. Apparently, regular glassblowers had made these flowers to specifications from botanists. It was stunning and a testament that the best things in life were not always due to mutants.

Once they finished gaping at the flowers, they headed off to look at all of the stuffed animals, which showed a very wide range of diversity. The Tasmanian wolf was really cool and Chou wondered if she could use the power of the Tao to bring it back. The Tao could surely do something like that if it wanted to… right? Chou had no answers and that sort of bugged her. Just what the hell was she balancing anyway? Nothing she had read explained the Tao enough to firmly get a grip on what its goals were. She hated metaphysical mysteries.

They headed into an area that had displays on environmental concerns over global warming and other environmental woes. Both Molly and Chou were troubled by the display, and they wondered if there was anything they could do to stop it or fix it a little in some way. It seemed to them that the world was in a terrible bind and no one was really trying to fix it. There were too many people concerned with money or power, too many mutants who only cared about themselves. They wanted to do something but unfortunately, they had no clues as to what they could do.

After they left there, the girl’s stomachs made themselves known in a series of growls. They giggled at the noise and decided to get something to eat. Once outside the museum they stood there on the steps, looking at the snow covered campus. “So where do you want to go for lunch?”

“I have no idea. Do you know anything that’s around here?”

“Uhm… not really. But there should be some places around here, since students like to eat. We can always send Rythax out to find out what’s available?” offered Molly.

Chou chuckled at that. “Send the Ambassador out to hunt for food. That’s priceless. Go ahead.”

Molly closed her eyes and concentrated. Chou could feel the doorway open and the presence of the Shadowcat with them, however she couldn’t see anything. Molly looked a bit tired after that but fairly satisfied.

“What can I do to help you, Molly?” asked Rythax, who was currently invisible.

“Can you do a quick scout around and tell us what restaurants are nearby? Please?”

“I can take care of that.” They both could feel him leave, as his presence was pretty formidable.

“What are you in the mood for?” asked Chou.

Molly looked over at her seductively and purred, “Chinese.”

Chou almost choked in surprise at the comment and Molly laughed at the response she had gotten. “Honestly, Chinese food sounds good right now.”

“You are a bad, bad person.” chided Chou.

“For teasing my girlfriend?” asked Molly innocently.

“Yes. You are a bad, horrible, terrible girlfriend. So there.” Chou mock pouted and stuck her tongue out.

Molly sidled over to her and hugged her tightly. She also gave Chou a quick kiss on the lips. “I’m so sorry. What can I do to make up for it?”

“Feed me.” This got both girls laughing, which lasted the few minutes it took until Rythax returned.

“I have searched the area and have found a restaurant that should suit your purposes.” remarked Rythax. “I heard you mention Chinese, and there is one such establishment a few blocks away.”

The two girls wandered off, their arms linked, with the Shadowcat, in cat size and resting on Molly’s shoulder while still invisible. He had gotten quite good at that.

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The food was excellent, for the most part. Thankfully, they had a menu for actual Chinese and she could get a lot of things that were not as sweet. Cooking for Americans involved the use of sugar in ways the Chinese wouldn’t tolerate. The stir-fried vegetables with tofu in a hot garlic sauce was excellent, though it did make Molly cough from the spice. The Mei Fun was tasty as well, and Molly slurped the rice noodles with passion. The baby bok choi did not last long at all, as the succulent Chinese cabbages were in a tasty sauce and were so tender that it was amazing. Both girls ate with evident delight.

The green tea was okay, if maybe a bit over-steeped, but that didn’t stop both girls drinking lots of it. Molly made sure that her glass was accessible to Rythax, as he was joining them. It was amusing both of them.

“Thank you for asking me to come here to stay with you Molly,” said Chou.

“That’s quite all right. I was more than happy to have you stay with me,” replied Molly, quite happy to have had all this time with her love alone, and no one else around.

“And it has been much less insane than Baltimore. I can’t believe that Toni dragged me into a fight with people in power armor. And getting mugged by H1 at a mall? What’s up with that?” complained Chou, refilling her cup.

“Well, Toni has that kind of luck,” commented Molly, sipping her tea.

“Good point. Maybe since I was with the mistress of chaos I won’t have that trouble here?” said Chou hoping that was so, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

When the Tao filled her, she almost groaned in frustration. She grabbed her glass of still quite hot tea and flung it into the face of the waiter who had been approaching them. The man fell back and the knife he was carrying clattered to the floor. People began screaming and trying to flee as a few other people rushed them.

Molly cast her disguise spell on both her and Chou, to do what she could to protect their identities at this point. It was the best she could do at the moment and she hoped that two teenagers hadn’t really attracted any attention.

Bladedancer stood and kicked a chair into the face of the second attacker, and glared disdainfully at the other three who were approaching her. “<You chose the wrong time to bother me, curs.>”

As they charged, their weapons at the ready, they screamed out, “<Death to the Handmaid!>”

A loud roar made the attackers stutter in their rush and they were all surprised as a large black panther with wings appeared out of nowhere and flattened one of them, holding his face down with a paw, claws gripping his face.

The Handmaid of the Tao drew Destiny’s Wave and stood at the ready, glaring at the attackers, as if daring them to do anything. Gateway called out, “Dancer, look out!”

Bladedancer had been aware of the two moving up behind her and cursed under her breath, “<Mother of God and all her wacky nephews.>”

When they leapt at her, she ducked low and spun under their attacks, deflecting an attack with the blade. The two others were going after Rythax, who seemed to have things in hand, as neither had bladed weapons, but rather maces and clubs. Bladedancer reached into her bag and pulled free a spell sheet. She charged it with her chi and flung it at the back of one of the men attacking Rythax.

As it flew, the two who had snuck up from behind came at her, one armed with hook swords and the other with butterfly swords. The one with hook swords moved in and engaged Bladedancer directly while the other stayed out, looking for an opening. The young woman dodged and countered what she could. Suddenly, her blade was trapped as the hooks snared her blade. As the butterfly sword wielder rushed in, the spell sheet contacted and there was a small explosion, flinging the man over Rythax and directly into a pillar.

Before the man with the butterfly swords got within reach of her, Bladedancer twisted Destiny’s Wave and cut the hook blades to pieces. This allowed her to bring her weapon to bear on the other attacker. The man slid in and attacked fiercely, driving Bladedancer back.

Gateway finished the spell she was casting, the same one she had tried at the museum to no avail, and three pixies rushed into the room and chose targets to harass, mostly under Gateway’s direction. They began dumping gobs of Lo Mein, Mei Fun, and rice onto the men, which was certainly distracting.

Bladedancer slide-stepped up to the one with the butterfly swords and drove a palm strike into his chest. The man flew back and crashed into one of the buffet tables, his head falling into the steaming hot and sour soup.

The pixies began to pelt the assassins with jello. This allowed Rythax and Bladedancer to beat the other fools into submission in short order. However, by the time they were finished dealing with the attackers, the SWAT team had arrived, ready to face anything except the mess in the restaurant. The cops began chuckling at the sight of pixies burying the attackers in various bits of Chinese food, trying to make the landscape of the Rockies on them. One of the officers called out, “It’s clear.”

The cops looked over at Bladedancer and smiled, at least recognizing the weapon, as the spell was masking the girl. A few of them laughed even harder upon recognizing the girl. Captain Tilley walked in, took one look at the scene, and rolled his eyes, “Imagine meeting you here.”

“I’m sorry. We were eating and they attacked and this all sort of got out of hand.” babbled Chou, who really wasn’t looking to the phone call she had to make after this. How the hell did this sort of stuff happen to her?

“Simmons, Ramirez, get their statements and let them go. I tell you Bladedancer, you just can’t stay out of trouble in this town, can you?” said Captain Tilley, as they ruined the geographic food display collecting the prisoners, after taking pictures of course.

Once they had given their statements, they were let loose. They headed out the back of the restaurant and were happy to safely escape the press. Chou was actually trembling when she used the speed dial on her phone to make the call, as she didn’t want to go to a police station again. Unfortunately, Delarose was on shift at this time of day. “Five times! Five! Just how did you manage that?”

“I was attacked while I was eating lunch. SWAT has the report with our statements. It’s not my fault. I was just sitting there enjoying my food when I was jumped. Come on, it’s not fair,” whined Chou, getting really upset. She hated the fact that she was calling the school yet again with some sort of misadventure.

“Miss Lee, calm down. I’ll read the report and see what happened. I’m just teasing you. Just come in to see me on Sunday and we can work everything out. Okay?” This was the part Chief Delarose hated about his job, calming down hysterical teenagers. All too often they flipped out over the stupidest things.

Chou sniffled back the tears that were trying to force their way out. “Okay. Sorry. I just didn’t want to have to call in again.”

“It’s okay Miss Lee. Calm down and come in on Sunday after you get here. Now… is that all?”

Chou nodded and then realized that Chief Delarose couldn’t see here. “That’s it.”

“Okay. I will talk to you later.” The phone went dead as Delarose hung up.

Chou trembled some as she put the phone away. Molly looked worriedly at her love. She looked around, found one of the great panaceas of modern time, and began to drag her girlfriend in that direction, saying, “Come on sweetie. Let’s get some ice cream and forget all about it.”

Friday 5 January 2007
Boston Massachusetts

The decision to stay at home that day wasn’t that tough to make, as Chou had dealt with enough chaos during her break that she really wanted to avoid places where she could be attacked. It seemed like a sensible plan at this point. The vacation would be over soon and then she could be safely back at the House of Chaos that was Poe Cottage.

As Molly was fixing their lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, the doorbell rang. Chou called out, “I’ve got it.”

She bounded over to the front door, smiling. This really had been a good break for her, despite all the madness that seemed to follow her. She had spent time with Toni and lots of time with her girlfriend. She opened the door and was smiling until she saw who it was on the other side, then she groaned.

“Ni hao, Meimei?” replied the female version of the Monkey King, a big smile covering her face.

“You,” replied Chou flatly. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Well, I was spying on you and your mate and thought I might come by for a visit. Can I come in?” Sun smiled brightly.

“What if I say no?”

“I come in anyway. It’s not like I’m a vampire. Honestly, Meimei.” Sun came into the house happily. “Is that lunch I smell?”

Chou felt like crying. She was just sure that the Monkey King had some sort of mischief in mind and that she was going to be the butt of the joke. Why did these sorts of things happen to her? “Molly, we have a guest for lunch.”

Molly called back from the kitchen, confused, “We do?”

Chou sighed. “Yep.”

Sun and Chou walked into the kitchen. Molly looked at her funnily and then spotted the tail. She had heard enough about this person to identify them. “Sun Wu Kong.”

Before Sun could say anything, Molly stepped up and slapped the Monkey King, screaming, “Those were my favorite panties, asshole!”

Sun’s head rocked to one side and then she looked back at the somewhat angry girl with glasses. “Can I make it up to you by taking both of you shopping?”

Chou shook her head no but a simple body shift by Sun kept Molly from seeing that. The girl with glasses considered that for a moment and then nodded, “Okay. But you really have to make it up to me.”

Chou groaned. Surely, this would end in fire.

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“I love malls. They are so fun and filled with such amazing chaos,” said Sun as they entered the nearby mall Molly had chosen. It was fairly big and it did have a wide range of stores, which pleased Sun to no end. “Let’s go.”

Molly seemed like she was getting into the shopping, while Chou glowered and kept an eye out for some sort of disturbance, any disturbance. She was filled with a great deal of foreboding the more she looked at Sun. What was Sun Wu Kong’s plan?

One of their first stops was Victoria’s Secret. Sun wanted to go there in order to get Molly some panties to replace the one pair he had stolen back in early November. Molly was content with this and a bit mollified. “You’re really going to buy me Vicky’s underwear?”

“Sure. You are my Meimei’s xinai, so why make you unhappy? It would only make Meimei unhappy,” replied Sun, with a smile.

“Uhm… what does that mean?” asked Molly, thrown by the Chinese. She had plans to take that soon in order to better talk to Chou and understand some of what was going on around her.

“Oh… Meimei is little sister and xinai is beloved,” replied Sun helpfully.

“Uhm… how can Chou be your little sister?” asked Molly uncertainly, knowing some of the history of the Monkey King thanks to Chou.

“It’s a term of endearment.”

“Ah… that makes sense then. So what’s my price limit?” asked Molly, not wanting to spend too much of Sun’s money but wouldn’t mind getting all the traffic could bear.

“Limit? The Monkey King does not have any limits,” Sun stood proudly and thrust out her chest. Chou sighed and rolled her eyes in annoyance.

Molly’s eyes grew wide at that and squeaked out, “I… I… have no limit?”

Sun just smiled and nodded. Molly squeed happily and took off, looking at all sorts of things. She grabbed a few different styles of bras and headed into the dressing room. Chou turned and glared at Sun. “<Just what exactly are you up to?>”

“<Me? Up to something? What makes you think that?>” Sun smiled so sweetly that Chou almost leapt forward and started choking the monkey. Almost. If it weren’t for the fact that she would have lost that fight, she just might have.

Chou hung her head, trying to figure out just what the Monkey King was thinking. They both stood there, waiting for Molly. “<So… not going to look at the underwear, Meimei?>”

“<I don’t need any. I’m fine,>” snapped Chou, trying to rub away the growing headache.

“<You know, the Handmaid should be a symbol of tranquility, calmly dealing with each problem that arises,>” chided Sun.

Chou just stared at Sun. She was radiating displeasure.

Molly came out of the dressing room, still giddy with excitement. “These three styles fit fairly well, so I’m going to get a few of them, and panties to match, and go from there.”

Sun smiled at the plan. Chou tried, but was too snarled up because of her worry over what the Monkey King had planned. What could that damn chimp have in mind? What sort of trouble were they in store for?

The little group went from there to a shoe store, where Molly and Chou bought a few things with Sun paying. It only upped Chou’s anxiety, as Sun’s eyes had twinkled with mischief when she had paid. ‘Is she planning to buy this stuff and then steal it back? Is she planning to make the money she gave the shopkeepers disappear? What was the plot?’

“Snack time!” called Sun after they left the shoe store. “They have anything good here?”

“There is a really nice Italian place here that has the best cheesecake. We can go there if you want?” replied Molly.

“That sounds fun. I remember that Marco Polo chap. You know, he was really fascinated with noodles. It was kind of funny really. He brings back all sorts of things from the Middle Kingdom and out of all of that what becomes famous… noodles!” Sun started laughing, mostly to herself.

“Well, I like the desserts they have there… so… can we go?” asked Molly.

“Absolutely. Come on, Meimei.” The three of them headed off to the restaurant.

They were guided to their table. Both Molly and Sun began to draw things on the paper tablecloth with the crayons that had been provided. They were obviously having a lot of fun together while Chou was on the edge of her seat, ready to react to anything Sun Wu Kong might do. The girl didn’t seem to be doing anything, but Chou knew that it was only a matter of time.

They had gotten sodas to drink and had gone through the menu, looking at the various desserts that were available. Molly and Sun were debating the merits of the various things that were on the menu. Molly decided on a cheesecake, Sun on something with chocolate, and Chou decided on a lemon cake. It was the best she could think of in her worry about when the other shoe was sure to fall. Chou picked at her dessert when it had arrived, too nervous to enjoy it.

After their snack, there were more stores for them to attack. Several clothing stores were reduced in stock as the trio came through like locusts, Chou almost leaping forward every time Sun joked with either Molly or a salesperson. After a while, their shopping slowed down after an extended stay in Hot Topic, where they all tried on fairy wings and goth clothing. It was fun, especially when Sun spun like a ballerina, even though Chou looked worried about something that she was waiting to happen.

They made it home, where Molly introduced Sun as a friend of Chou’s and asked if the other girl could stay the night. Despite Chou’s hopes to the contrary, Molly’s parents allowed the Monkey King to stay the night. They carried the bags up and put various things away, giggling and having a good time. It was clear that Molly really liked Sun and that worried Chou to no end. What was the bastard up to? Why hadn’t he done anything yet?

Dinner was good, and they all seemed to enjoy the stuffed peppers that Molly’s mother had made. Chou devoured hers while stealthily watching Sun for any sort of prank or anything at the dinner table. It was making her totally crazy and she wanted to scream. Finally, after dinner was over and when they had gotten dressed for bed, Chou couldn’t take it anymore. She turned to face Sun and growled, “What are you planning? What sort of prank do you have in mind?!”

Molly looked surprised at the accusation. “Wha?”

Sun’s smile was so innocent that it screamed of extreme guilt. “I have nothing planned, Meimei.”

“So all day?” asked Chou worriedly.

“Nothing. I was just here to have some fun with you both, Meimei. Can I help it if you got yourself so wound up that you’ve been miserable since I got here?” Sun replied, all sugar and spice.

“Ggggaaaahhhhh!!” Chou fell to her knees and was quivering with anger. She wanted to just start smacking the Monkey King to burn out her frustration.

She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to look. Sun was there looking down at her nicely, as if a friend. She squatted down next to Chou and smiled, this time honestly, her eyes full of sympathy. “Meimei, you need to balance yourself before you can truly balance everything in your life. If you had just accepted my presence, your day would have been a lot less stressful. Would it have not?”

“But it seemed as if you were constantly implying that you had something planned,” complained Chou, close to tears.

“I was teasing you. For what you do and what you are sometimes asked to do, you must remain calm and still, placid like a pond untouched by the wind. Would November not have been easier if you could have faced all of that while balanced and serene?”

Chou hung her head a little in shame. “Yeah, it would have.”

“I am a trickster. I try to teach people through messing with them. My pranks are often aimed at helping someone learn an important lesson. After all, I am a Buddha.” Sun smiled slightly, the serene smile of an enlightened being.

“So all you were doing?”

“Was trying to get you to learn to take things in stride. You let yourself stumble across things, Meimei. That really won’t do. I don’t know what those Immortals are teaching you. Honestly!” harrumphed Sun Wu Kong.

Chou looked up at Sun, letting her muscles relax some, with eyes near tears. “All of this was for a fricking lesson?!”

“Yes. I want you to develop that calm, as it will help you more than any martial skill at your disposal. That calm can take you through this with a lot less grief.” Sun rested her hand on Chou’s shoulder. “Meimei, I really do have your best interests at heart. You are one of the few Handmaids who have gotten my attention. You have a certain something that almost all of the others did not have which almost assures your greatness.”

“What’s that?” grumbled Chou, not exactly pleased with the favor of Monkey’s presence.

“A balance to your energies. Last one I remember like that was Hua Mulan. She was simply amazing.” Sun sighed in memory, her eyes focused on something far distant. It seemed like a pleasant memory.

“Hua Mulan?”

“Yes.”

“What sort of balance?”

“Male and female energies.”

“But… how did she…?” replied Chou rather surprised at this development.

“She portrayed a man rather successfully, Chou. There are reasons that was easy for her,” Sun smiled. “But enough of the past, we are speaking of you now.”

“Oh… great… Now what?” complained Chou, seriously irritated with the seesaw nature of this conversation.

“Chou, you need to learn to relax. What you are doing now isn’t working well enough. That is why I came by. You need to play more, relax more, get out of your head more. And I will be dropping by to make sure that happens. Understand Meimei?” Sun kissed the girl’s forehead.

Chou was aware that there was no way she would be able to change Sun’s mind on this matter. This was, in effect, a done deal. She would just have to accept it and move on, though it galled her to no end. “I understand.”

“Good. Now why don’t we do something fun before it is time to sleep for you two.”

Both Chou and Molly groaned at this. “Like what?”

“Well, don’t you have any games? Or we can talk, play with dolls, watch a movie, what have you. Can we please do something?” Sun almost started whining there at the end.

This got the two girls snickering and soon all three girls began laughing. The tension that had been between them all day faded as the sound rang out through the room.

Saturday 6 January 2007
Boston Massachusetts

Sun left shortly after breakfast, which did make Chou feel a lot less stressed. With the Monkey King gone, she was able to relax where she hadn’t been able to before. Molly insisted that the two of them go for a walk for a while, to sort of work out their tension. Molly and Chou were holding hands as they walked through the woods, crunching through the snow. After a while, they reached a clearing and stopped. Everything was calm and quiet, almost as if they were in another world.

Molly looked around the area with a faint smile on her lips, clearly from a memory. “You know, this is the clearing where I first met Rythax. I was playing out here on my own and sure enough this big hole in space opened up and out he came, wings opened wide. It was pretty impressive.”

Chou giggled, remembering what Molly had admitted to in that story she had told her in the library. Molly’s cheeks grew red and she defended herself. “Well, it was.”

“I know. You told me that you peed your panties.”

“Chou! You didn’t have to remember that.” Her whole face was red at that, blazing with embarrassment.

“Well, it was kind of an interesting admission when we were in the library that day. Of course I remembered it. How could I not? You told me a lot about yourself that day and that made me happy.” Chou smiled lovingly at her xinai.

Molly was mollified at that and started smiling again, the color fading from her cheeks. She reached out with her power and opened the gateway to the realm where Rythax was trapped. The Shadowcat came through at his regular size and stretched his wings. He landed upon the snow and turned to face the two teenagers. “Greetings Molly and Chou, I hope you are both well.”

“We are.” replied Molly. “I just thought you might like some more time out, as every time we do this you can stay out a little bit longer. I can’t wait for the time when you are free of it.”

“I truly hope for that but I am a pragmatist. If I have to remain trapped in there part of the time but have hours, days, or even weeks out here then I will most certainly be pleased with that state of affairs. Do not fret, Molly. I am content,” Rythax’s deep voice rumbled over them.

“Well, as long as you are okay with things,” said Molly, just wanting to make her friend happy.

“Things are not perfect but it is preferable to being contained in there still. I do thank you for helping me to see the sun again.” Rythax bowed to Molly, who blushed brightly in response, hiding her face in her mittens.

“You’re welcome,” stammered Molly.

“Did you need anything?” asked Rythax, lambent blue eyes regarding her carefully.

“No. I just thought that you might want to come out and enjoy as much of the day as you could,” replied Molly, shyly.

“I thank you. That means a great deal to me. Well, if you do not need anything from me I will be off for a little while.” With that, the Shadowcat leapt into the air, and with powerful thrusts of his wings, headed away, fading from view. It was an amazing sight, despite the kind of things they saw at the school on a daily basis.

Molly sighed, her eyes happily taking it all in. “I don’t think I will ever grow tired of that. He’s just incredible.”

Chou grinned wickedly, deciding to tease her love a little. “Are you saying I have some competition for your heart?”

“No, not much,” teased Molly right back, playing along with what Chou had said. “But he has those strong, rippling muscles…”

“Hey! I thought you didn’t need that,” Chou sounded affronted.

“You’re right… what was I thinking?” Molly looked surprised and then tackled Chou, both of them falling to the ground, sinking a little into the snow. Molly proceeded to kiss her girlfriend and enjoy every minute of it. They alternated between kissing each other and laughing.

The shadows shifted over the glade when finally Molly realized that they had been there for quite a while. She broke off the kiss and sat up, her knees straddling Chou. She looked at her Little Mermaid watch and sighed. “We should be probably going. It’s two in the afternoon. Mom will want us home soon.”

“How long have we been making out?” asked Chou, somewhat confused. She was still in the making-out mindset and was having a little trouble shifting gears from kissy faces to conversation.

“Several hours from what I can figure. Want to head back and get some lunch?” asked Molly, gradually becoming aware that she was actually a little bit cold.

“Yeah, that might be a good idea.” agreed Chou.

The two girls tracked back through the snow toward Molly’s house, smiling and holding hands, occasionally giggling at each other as they crunched through the icy crust. There was no real conversation between them, just the laughter, as they didn’t need any words at the moment to convey how they were feeling.

There was some soup simmering on the stove when they came in the back door, which made the house smell really good. Fresh New England clam chowder certainly hit the spot on days like these, especially with the warm bread to go along with it. It was apparently a bit of a staple food here at Molly’s house, not that Chou could even remotely complain. Once they were done with their lunch, they went into the family room to watch some movies, wanting to spend the time cuddled together under the blanket to get warm.

The two girls stood in front of the family’s vast DVD collection and tried to think of something fun to watch. There were so many options that neither could decide on just one. Molly offered a suggestion of how her family often made such difficult movie choices. They each pulled out several movies they were interested in part way out, so that they were easily set apart from the others. They then took turns pushing in which ever film they weren’t really interested in at that moment, until only two DVD’s remained and Molly was the one to choose between them. After a brief moment of weighing which one she preferred, she chose ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ with Heath Ledger over ‘Never Been Kissed’ with Drew Barrymore.

Once the film was in the player, they cuddled up together under a blanket as they watched the film. Three quarters of the way through the movie, Molly’s mother came into the room looking for them. “Molly, your father and I are going to go out tonight. Will you two be okay to get your own dinner?”

“Can we order out?” asked Molly, perking up. She liked ordering out as it was a lot less to clean up.

“Sure. With Chou here I’m not too worried about your safety. Any one who breaks in here will certainly get a surprise.” Her mother grinned down at the Asian girl who grinned back. It was nice to know that Molly’s parents approved of her. “What are you thinking of getting?”

“Chinese is good, or Thai. Pizza might be tasty as well. No idea really,” Molly shrugged and smiled.

“Well, make sure you two don’t leave a mess.”

“Okay mom. When are you guys going?”

“We’re leaving a little after six. Apparently your father has a big night planned and even managed to get it put together all by himself.” Chou really had no idea why they giggled but they did. Apparently, Mr. Harrington was not all that good at planning nights out.

“We’ll be fine mom.” With that taken care of, they returned to their movie and just sort of enjoyed themselves.

Several hours later, as her parents were getting ready, the girls were sitting down, figuring out dinner. They decided to go with Chinese, since it was familiar and since Chou could talk to them in Chinese and order just what they wanted, made the way they liked it, instead of going for the same stuff everyone else got.

While Chou was on the phone, busy talking to the restaurant in Mandarin, Molly’s parents came downstairs, dressed really nicely. Molly smiled at how nice her parents looked. They certainly cleaned up well the few times they got to go out on special dates like this. “Wow, Mom and Dad, you guys look great.”

“Thanks, Cuddlebug. Don’t stay up too late tonight, and make sure you’re packed for the drive up tomorrow.” said her Dad, hugging his daughter one-handed.

“Okay, Dad. You guys have a nice time.” Her mother hugged her and kissed her on the forehead before they left.

Molly’s parents took off, and Chou finished putting their order in, hanging up the phone happily. “So what do you want to do while we wait for the food to arrive?”

“Well, they’re usually pretty quick with the food so it won’t be long before that gets here, probably in fifteen or twenty minutes. I… I have an idea that I want to run by you about what we can do.” Molly blushed some, which made Chou quirk an eyebrow at her girlfriend. This was certainly going to be good, based on how Molly was acting.

“What?” Her voice was a bit cautious.

“Well… Sun and I were talking after you fell asleep…” Chou groaned at this. Now she was really worried. “…and she gave me a few ideas. This one sounds fun and I want to try it, if that’s okay with you.”

“Oh God… what?” Chou was ready to cringe at whatever it was that the stupid monkey had in store for her.

“Well, Sun suggested a… picnic.” replied Molly, cheeks brightening a little, clearly embarrassed to be talking about this.

“A picnic?” It was clear that Chou didn’t really believe it. There had to be some sort of catch.

“A… a… naked picnic.” clarified Molly.

“You want to have a naked Chinese food picnic up in your room?” Chou’s disbelief was continuing. There was no way that this was what Molly had in store for them. No way at all.

Molly nodded.

Chou was about to reply, when she stopped and thought for a moment. The slight tickling at the back of her neck felt more like the Tao than anything else, yet she wasn’t sure. Could it be something else? But if it was the Tao, what was it doing… just making her pause and think? True, she didn’t do that all that much, but maybe she needed to. Was this picnic really a bad thing? Since Molly wanted to move their relationship a bit farther, would this be okay? Was this the sort of thing they needed to do in order to be ready to go a step farther? Maybe it was. “Okay. Let’s do that.”

Molly’s eyes widened in surprise. She had fully expected Chou to argue with her about this and had been planning out arguments out in her mind. “Really?”

Chou nodded. This might be a very good thing.

Molly leapt up and squeed, clapping her hands excitedly. Chou smiled and hugged her girlfriend, kissing her on the cheek. Once Molly broke the hug, she stood there quivering like a little puppy. “Okay. You wait here for the food, and I’ll go upstairs and get everything ready. Oh God, I love you.”

Shortly, Chou was downstairs waiting for the food while Molly was upstairs setting everything up for their picnic. She was smiling, happily, looking forward to this. Maybe Sun Wu Kong wasn’t being evil this time? She had no idea what she would do if this were just some sort of cheap trick to peep in on the girls, probably kill him where he stood. She really hoped that wasn’t the case as it would certainly ruin the mood.

The doorbell rang and Chou opened the door. The Asian driver smiled at her with a bag in hand. “Ni hao.”

“Hao.” replied Chou.

“It is $17.50 and we gave you a free order of spring rolls.” explained the driver.

“Syesye.” Chou handed over a twenty. “Keep the change.”

“Syesye. Take care. Dzaijian.” The deliveryman took off, waving, smiling at her happily.

Chou chuckled. Maybe speaking Chinese was good for a lot more than just talking to a sword? She made sure the door was locked before she walked up the stairs and opened the door to Molly’s room. Chou froze, looking at the sight that was before him, stunned.

There was a blanket laid out on the floor, with plates and utensils on top of it. A teapot was there with a few cups, and the fragrant smell of green tea filled the air. There were a couple of candles burning about the room, giving the space a lot of soft warm light. The candles flickered with the opening of the door, making the flames dance. The light danced over Molly’s body, her pale skin glowing under the reddish light. Her hair hung over her chest, partially obscuring her breasts, and the downy nest of hair between her legs cast interesting shadows. It was clear that Molly was blushing, as it was in her voice when she said, “Ready to eat?”

Chou nodded numbly, her mind rather staggered at the amazing sight. Molly was so incredibly beautiful to her and the sight of her xinai naked was almost more than she could bear. Her heart pounded and she ha to swallow before words could come out. “You… you’re… beautiful.”

“Thank you. Let me take the bag.” Molly grabbed the bag of food and set it down on the blanket.

“Uh… twenty. I uh… gave the guy the twenty.” Chou wasn’t sure why her mind really wasn’t working right now. Everything was moving either too fast or too slow to make sense of.

Molly rested one of her fingers on Chou’s lips, silencing her. She reached down and pulled her girlfriend’s shirt up and over her head. That simple act helped Chou to get back to herself. She finished undressing herself, putting her clothes off to the side and soon stood before Molly naked as well. It seemed to elicit a similar response from Molly, and that made Chou blush happily.

They both sat down on the blanket cross-legged and started to pass out the food. After a little bit, the two of them began feeling more and more comfortable being there without clothes. Things grew more relaxed between them as they just simply enjoyed the sight without dwelling on it. The Mai Fun and Mu Shu were very tasty and Molly laughed at the little Chinese burritos with the plum sauce.

The tea was the tasty stuff that Chou had gotten from her ‘guardians’, and it went really well with the food, either enhancing the flavor of the food or contrasting with it perfectly. The two girls talked about a lot of things that didn’t have any real importance and flirted with each other, enjoying the time together immensely. They were actually both getting more and more aroused the longer they talked, just being there with each other seeming to do the trick. Soon the meal was over, the leftovers put off to the side, and they got to their fortune cookies.

Molly opened hers and read it, blinking at it a little bit in confusion. She read it aloud, “You will soon get something you have always desired.”

Chou looked at her and smiled. It could imply a number of things or just one thing. She wasn’t sure. She opened her fortune cookie and took a bite out of it as she read the fortune. This made her quirk an eyebrow, as she read it aloud as well. “Accept the next proposition you receive.”

Molly swallowed, then looked over at her suggestively and smiled. That was a perfect moment and she knew it. “I think that is a cue if I ever heard one. So Chou… shall we move to the bed now?”

Chou smirked and replied, almost chuckling, “I guess I have to. Fortune cookie said so.”

Molly chuckled at that and stood, helping Chou to her feet. They came together in a kiss that was as heated as the ones they shared earlier that day. They hugged each other tightly as they got more and more into their kiss. They stumbled to the bed, not breaking their kiss, almost falling onto it. They broke long enough to climb onto the bed and slip under the sheets giggling nervously.

Their kisses grew more heated and their hands roamed over each other freely. They touched the sides of their bodies, both of them enjoying the feel of the smooth skin under their palms. Molly was the first one bold enough to brush a breast with the top of one hand and then moved to focus on it, letting her fingers roll around the ever tightening areola. Chou gasped, enjoying the sensation that Molly’s fingers were able to draw out of her.

Molly started nibbling on Chou’s neck, but soon moved down, scooting the covers back, as she shifted to focus on Chou’s breasts. Chou loved this feeling, of having Molly’s mouth on her body, on her breasts. Maybe having a girl’s body wasn’t as bad as she thought? Maybe… just maybe she could accept this and be happy with the way life had turned out? This body and these feelings weren’t enemies. Maybe she would be okay?

Molly’s hand slid down Chou’s stomach, winding through her dark pubic hair, to reach down between her legs and feel the wetness of her, to feel the hard nub that had so frightened her before. Chou did the same, her fingers moving a similar path to get where Molly’s were. They were both making each other feel things that were making their bodies tremble with pleasure, a pleasure that kept getting greater and greater, stronger and stronger, making them tremble and writhe under each other’s fingers, panting in little gasps. Their mouths hungrily kissed each other, their tongues intertangling, their breath merging, until the pleasure grew almost too much to bear, peaked, and both women threw their heads back, screaming each other’s names and the sensations exploded through them, filling their world with stars.

They lay there, trembling with the intensity of what they had just experienced, unsure if they wanted more or if they just wanted to hold each other for hours and bask in this sensation. Molly opened her eyes and blearily looked on the sweaty face of the woman she so completely loved. She leaned forward, her body complaining, and kissed her softly. “Thank you.”

Chou smiled back, eyes not really focusing at that moment as she blinked owlishly. “Thank you. That… that was incredible. It never felt like that when I tried it myself. Even the other day.”

“Honestly Chou… me neither. That was just… wow.” Molly sighed and hugged Chou tightly, not wanting to ever let the girl go.

“Wow is a good word for it.” Chou had more in her mind to say, but an aftershock rolled through her body and distracted her.

“I love you Chou Lee, with all my heart. Thank you for showing up in my life.” Molly leaned forward and kissed Chou gently.

“I am so deeply in love with you Molly, that words can’t really say. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life alone after my father died, but there you were. And since then, things have gotten better.” Chou leaked a few tears, trickling saltily down her face. Molly and her friends had certainly kept her alive through all of the turmoil that she had gone through, especially there at the end of November.

“When you think your legs can work again, we should probably clean up and then go to bed,” said Molly, well aware that her parents would not want to catch the two of them together naked in bed together. She shook, as an aftershock rolled through her body, making her eyes roll back and drawing out a moan.

Chou nodded and enjoyed the sight of Molly’s back arching.

Once they had everything cleaned up, the two girls hugged each other and kissed. “Goodnight beloved.”

“Goodnight.”

Sunday 7 January 2007
Berlin Massachusetts

Molly and Chou were holding hands in the backseat, listening to the lecture, trying to look attentive. “Now make sure you are both careful about getting caught. A lot of kids aren’t very forgiving to same-sex couples, and that might cause you some trouble.”

“We know Mom. Didn’t we already have this conversation?” complained Molly.

“Can you blame me for wanting to protect my daughter and her girlfriend?” countered her mother deftly.

“No.” Molly wasn’t happy to give her mother that point. It only increased the inequity.

“Good. Now remember to call home, both of you.”

“Me?” asked Chou in surprise, suddenly very focused on what was happening.

“Yes you. You are going to become part of this family and I want to know how you are doing almost as much as I want to know how she is doing. I need to look after you as well,” Mrs. Harrington smiled back at the Asian girl.

Chou choked up a little at that. “Really?”

“Yes. You said you were her Soulmate. That means that you are eventually going to be my daughter-in-law, and I am very protective of my girls. Now, you both have everything?” she asked for the fifth time.

Molly rolled her eyes. “Yes mom. We both have everything.”

Chou chuckled again, wiping the few tears that trickled down her face in happiness.

The gates of the school were nearing at this point, and that was actually a sad thing. “Oh, I am going to miss you, Cuddlebug. You too, Chou. Hmmm… I think we’ll have to work on a nickname for you as well.”

Molly snickered at that, as Chou quickly waved her arms and said, “No need. Don’t do it on my account.”

“But what if we want to?” asked Mr. Harrington, as they neared the drop off point.

“Uh…” Chou was at a loss for words. What did you say to that? “I don’t know.”

The car was soon parked and they got out of the car. Molly got her two suitcases out of the trunk, and then the goodbyes began. Both of the girls blushed when Molly’s parents kissed them both goodbye on the cheeks, hugging them tightly. “You girls take care now. Don’t do anything too crazy or get in any trouble.”

“We won’t, Mom,” replied Molly.

“I am going to miss you, both of you. It was nice having you stay with us Chou, and I look forward to having you come back to stay with us again,” said Mrs. Harrington happily.

“Thank you for letting me stay with you. It was a lot of fun and it did mean a lot to me.” Chou honestly meant that. This vacation had been the best time she had had since she had arrived at Whateley. It had been enough to even take a little of the burden of her father’s death/disappearance off her.

After a few more goodbyes, and some more hugs and kisses, Molly’s parents got back into the car and took off. The two of them waved happily as the car drove away. Chou picked up one of her girlfriend’s suitcases and the two of them headed toward her dorm to drop off her luggage. Once that was completed, it was another walk through the snow across campus to Poe.

They wanted to hold hands, but knew that it really wasn’t safe for them to do that outside the walls of Chou’s dorm. It was just an irritating fact about life here at Whateley. They saw a few familiar faces in the crowds but they weren’t really trying to look for anyone. They just wanted to get back safely to Poe, where they could show the same level of affection they had developed over the holiday.

“Do you think that this year is going to be any better?” asked Molly, as they drew closer to the safety of Poe so they could kiss and hold hands all they wanted to.

“I sure as hell hope so.”