Rose, Copper, and Ruby sat in the Rosewood/Movida International Airport, the uncomfortable chairs in the Gate 59B waiting area making the wait for Coral and Nat's flight even longer.
"I can't believe that Mom and Dad didn't call last night," Rose said, annoyed. "They must have known awhile ago when they were gonna get back."
"They say absentmindedness runs in the family," Ruby replied. "If Co's any indication..."
"Hmm?" Copper looked up. "Did someone say my name?"
Ruby gave Rose a look. "I was just wondering when your parents' flight is getting in. Do you remember?"
Copper frowned. "Um...ten thirty?"
Ruby frowned slightly, but was saved by the crackle of a speaker. "Flight 539 from New York is now arriving. Please allow the passengers to disembark before queuing up to board."
Rose jumped up, cheered quietly. "Mom and Dad are home!" She ran towards the gate.
"I think we should be insulted by that..." Ruby mumbled, resting back in her chair as she watched the passengers stream out of the door, dragging luggage and tired children.
"It'll be good to have Mom and Dad home," Copper said happily. "Look! There they are now."
Coral, her red hair tied back in a pony tail, came through the door with Nat by her side. Rose pounced on her father, hugging him tightly. "Dad! Mom! You're home! how was the trip? How was Rome?"
Her father laughed. "Hey there, Rosie!" he said as he enveloped his youngest in a hug. "I missed you. Did you have a good Christmas without us?"
Rose shrugged. "I guess...I spent it with Copper and Spice, but it wasn't the same..."
Ruby frowned at Rose's omission, but smiled at Nat. "Hey, it's the big man. How you doing, Nat?" She reached out and shook his hand, ignoring Rose's scowl.
"And how's my favorite girlfriend-in-law?" he asked with a smile.
"Wonderful as usual, thanks to your daughter."
"Speaking of..." He turned to Copper. "How are you, sweetie?"
Copper hugged her father. "Great, Dad."
"Has Rose been behaving herself?"
"Dad-dy!" Rose yelped indignantly.
Ruby caught Nat's eye over Copper's head and shook her head just as Copper said "She's been very good."
"I bet..." Nat said, winking at Ruby.
Copper looked at her mother. "How was your anniversary?"
"Oh, it was wonderful," Coral said, her voice happy, but still very tired. She looked around. "Where's Spice?"
Copper frowned. "Oh...uh...she..." Her frowned deepened. "I didn't forget to pick her up, did I?"
Ruby smiled. "Relax, Co," she said sweetly. She turned to Coral. "She couldn't get away from her internship today..."
"That's a shame. I guess we'll see her soon..." Coral said. She yawned slightly, then picked up her suitcase. "We should be getting home." She smiled at Copper and Ruby. "Thanks for coming out to meet us. We'll be having dinner sometime soon, right?"
Copper smiled. "Of course, Mom!"
Ruby opened the door to their car and slid into the driver's seat. "Well, that's a relief," she said tiredly.
Copper sighed as she buckled her seat belt. "I wish you and Rose got along better..."
Ruby started the car. "We'd get along better if she didn't hate me."
"Oh, Ruby," Copper said sadly. "I don't think she really hates you. She's just...um...how can I say this? She has a lot on her mind right now."
"She misses Dad. He's not home often, what with that new job of his..." Copper frowned. "I think he was home only a few months this year... I know we only saw him a few times. It bothers Rosie more than she let on, I think."
"Well, I'm not going to start feeling sorry for her now," Ruby sighed. "Ever since she started junior high, she's been treating me like I'm the...lesbian incarnation of Satan or something."
Copper shook her head. "I know Rosie is...offensive, but I can't help feeling it's just a phase."
"A five year phase?" Ruby stared at the road for a few minutes, then shrugged. "Let's not talk about her. Let's have the rest of the day for us, okay?"
"Okay." Copper smiled. "I love you, you know that, right?"
"I know." Ruby reached over and grasped Copper's hand. "I love you too."
Copper and Ruby walked into Many Facets. Copper smiled, breathing in the aromatic odor of the incense that always seemed to be burning there. Ruby, tucking the keys in her pocket, followed behind her. The redheaded girl behind the counter looked up from her magazine. "Hi, I'm Poppy. Can I help you guys with anything?"
"No, thanks," Ruby muttered, shaking her head.
"Is Brazil in?" Copper asked.
The salesgirl shook her head, then shrugged. "She is, but she's interviewing someone in the back. Cosmic something or other..."
"But, y'know, maybe I could help you..." Poppy leaned across the counter and winked at Copper. "I'm sure there's...something I could do for you."
Across the shop, Ruby scowled, but then calmed herself by remembering that Poppy was probably still in high school.
Copper thought for a moment, then smiled politely. "No, not really. I mean, I really need to speak to Brazil...um, sorry. But thanks." She smiled at Poppy and went to join Ruby on the other side of the store. Poppy blinked a few times and then shook her head, returning to her magazine.
The chimes on the door jangled as more customers came into the store. Ruby glanced over, her scowl returning when she saw Espresso and Bronze...and that they had brought Ember with them. Ember looked right through Ruby and headed straight for Copper, smiling."
"Copper! Fancy seeing you again."
Copper blushed slightly. "Oh, uh, hi, Ember."
"You know how you were saying that your sister might be in one of my classes?" At Copper's nod, she continued. "Well, I checked, and she is..." Ember pushed a lock of hair back, her voice turning serious. "In fact, she's one of my star students...but, well..."
"She's been having trouble recently. I've tried to contact your parents, tried to get someone involved, but they don't seem to be interested..."
Ruby cut in, frowning deeply. "That doesn't sound like Coral and Nat..."
"I believe they were both very busy with work...your mother suggested I talk to you..." Ember leaned in slightly. "Maybe we could discuss it over dinner Wednesday?"
"Oh...I..." Copper fluttered nervously. "If she really needs help, well..." She sighed. "All right."
"Excellent." Ember smiled. "I'll see you at Le Rouge on Wednesday at eight. Sound all right?"
"See you then," Ember said, smiling as she left the store with Bronze and Espresso.
Ruby glared at Copper.
"Was that your parole officer again?" Red asked, sitting down next to Blackie. "She's been around here a lot..."
Blackie nodded. "She calls it 'the hands-on approach.'" She snerked. "Pain in my ass, more like it. I figure she just has a crush on me."
Red smiled. "Maybe..."
Blackie looked away. "You know, Crystal's back in town..."
Red's face grew serious. "Oh," she said quietly. "Is she still with...wasn't her girlfriend's name Jasmine?"
Blackie shook her head. "Nah." The older woman took a drink of her beer. "She broke up with her while I was still inside."
"Oh." Red shifted in her seat uncomfortably. "Is she staying with you, then?"
Blackie looked straight ahead as she spoke, her voice rough. "Red..." She sighed. "You know I'm not thinkin' about anyone 'cept you..."
"No, I know, Red, believe me, I know. But look at me. I've changed." She smiled ruefully. "I mean, nine years ago, I didn't know any words with more than one syllable..."
Red chuckled. "That's not true," she said cheerfully. "Motorcycle has four syllables."
"Why do you think I always called it my bike?" Blackie grinned, then grew serious again. "I mean it, Red. I have changed." She reached out across the table, grabbing Red's hand. "And I want to be with you."
Bordeaux sighed happily, moving closer to Dark as they walked down the street.
Roast rolled her eyes affectionately, then pulled the pair towards the door of the Dye Bar. "Let's go in here, okay? It'll be fun!"
"Oh, Roast, you know I work here..." Dark shook his head. "Let's go to Strawberry's instead."
Roast pouted. "But this'll be more fun." Her eyes grew large. "Please?"
Dark sighed. "Oh, all right..."
Roast smiled happily, then practically skipped into the club.
Bordeaux watched her go, her gaze thoughtful. "Hmm...I did not think that we had been together long enough to have enfantes."
Dark smiled. "I love it when you forget and speak French."
Bordeaux looked at him in surprise. "Oh no!" She hit him jokingly. "You are supposed to be helping me with my English, not making such fun of me!" She laughed. "Besides, I could be insulting you terribly and you'd never know it!"
Dark looked worried. "Are you?"
Bordeaux smiled enigmatically. "Perhaps." She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. "Come on, let's find Roast." With a final glance at him, she disappeared into the bar.
"Damn, I can't believe it's already after Christmas. I can't even remember what I did for Christmas..." Spice thought for a moment as she leaned against the wooden bar. "Oh, yeah, I hung out with Copper, Ruby, and Rose." She sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Blondie. I'm always complaining to you. How was your Christmas?"
"It's okay, honey," Blondie said. "At least you're not my mother..."
"Where is your mother anyway?" Spice asked, looking around.
"Aruba. Again. Dad's alimony, again." He shrugged. "Anyways, I gave myself an extra-special present for Christmas... He's sitting over there..." He waved to a dark-haired man on the other side of the bar.
Spice grinned. "Score for Blondie!" She took a drink of her vodka sour, then looked out over the club, her eyes widening. "Oh. My. God. Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God." She leaned over the bar and snagged Blondie by the back of his shirt. When he turned, she motioned towards the two couples who had just sat down.
"Oh my God..." Blondie echoed in horror. "Is that...?"
"Auburn and Camel -- which is bad enough -- on a double date with Misty and Rum." Spice shuddered. "My eyes are now unclean."
Blondie was about to say something, but was interrupted by the sound of the doors opening loudly. Cola burst into the Dye Bar, waving a magazine wildly, Gothic following closely. "Spice! Blondie! Look!" He ran to the bar and slapped the magazine down, pointing to a picture.
Spice looked at it, frowning. "It's Cashmere Blonde...so wha..." Her voice trailed off. "Oh my God, is that your dress?" When Cola nodded, she leapt off of her stool, hugging him tightly. They began jumping and screaming.
"Hey, hey, what's all the noise over here about, brother of mine?" Rum leaned against the bar, a slight smirk on his face.
"Cashmere Blonde did an interview for People while wearing one of Cola's dresses," Gothic said softly as he looked at Cola's black-wearing twin. "It was an article about her coming out, and she mentioned him as the designer." He looked back at Cola with a fond smile.
"Well, that's just great..." Rum said in a syrupy sweet voice. "Cola has his picture, you have Cola, and I have Misty..." He looked directly at Gothic as he said the last part.
Gothic grimaced, and Cola slipped his arm around Gothic's waist protectively. "So what were you guys talking about?" Cola asked as Rum left.
Blondie shrugged as he passed a beer to another customer. "Christmas," he said as he smiled at the customer. "What we did for it."
"Oh," Cola said. "I don't celebrate, but Gothic and I are throwing a New Year's bash at my loft. Can I have a rum and coke?" Cola took a seat next to Spice.
"Why didn't you celebrate?" Blondie asked as he passed the drink to Cola.
"You know I'm a Buddhist..."
"Not even one tiny little present?" Spice teased.
Cola blushed slightly. "Okay, maybe a few..."
"I spent Christmas with my family," Gothic spoke up, leaning against the bar and looking slightly out of place in the small group of people. "Well, Champagne. Mother and Father are still in Europe."
Cola threw a pleading look at Spice, who sighed, then smiled at Gothic. "Oh really?" she said politely. "My parents just got back from Rome today. Where are yours?"
Roast drummed her fingers on the small bar table, bored. Bordeaux and Dark were seated next to her, cuddling and sharing a large tropical fruit drink.
She found it all really disgusting...and kind of sweet. Why didn't she have someone to share fruit drinks with?
"Okay, now I'm thinking like a teenager," she said out loud.
"Quoi?" Bordeaux asked, breaking away from Dark.
"Nothing, just thinking out loud." Roast smiled nicely at her friend. Things were so different in the States. No girlfriend, no Maman and Papa to take her out to eat... Wasn't America supposed to be exciting? Teenager again.
She decided to stop thinking and looked around the crowded bar.
Hey, wasn't that...
Dark Red stepped out of the taxi and looked at the backseat impatiently. "Come on, True."
"You know, you really ought to practice Tai Chi, Dark Red...then you wouldn't be so stressed..." The young redhead stepped out of the taxi, her long broomstick skirt trailing behind her. "And why are we down here, anyway? Love is love, even if you don't approve. Maybe Blackie and Red are...like...reincarnations of a long ago couple thrown into this lifetime and searching for each other..."
Her older sister scowled. "Not this lifetime. Not if I can help it."
Dark and Bordeaux looked up as Roast abruptly rose from the table and began walking across the bar floor. "Where's she going?" Bordeaux asked.
"Drinks, maybe?" Dark followed the brunette's path with his eyes, then paled. "Oh...no..."
"I think she's headed towards Blackie...shit. Red's been insane over Blackie lately, and this would be the final straw." He looked around the room hurriedly, then brightened. "Problem solved."
He reached over and tapped the shoulder of a redhead who was sitting near their table. She turned around, and smiled widely. "Dark! Haven't seen you in a long while...what's going on?"
"I have a delicate situation here, Blaze. See that brunette walking towards Red?" Blaze nodded as she gave Roast a lingering once over. "She's not allowed to get Blackie. I'll explain later."
Blaze smirked. "All right, Mr. Mysterioso..." She rose from her table and kissed the hand of the woman she had been sitting with. "Sorry, doll, something better came along...duty calls." She headed off in Roast's direction and Dark drew a sigh of relief.
Blackie drew a matching sigh of relief. She'd seen Roast heading their way, and had hoped to never face it again.
"Are you okay?" Red looked at her, slight lines of worry wrinkling her forehead.
"It's nothing," Blackie said tersely. "Just watching the crowds."
Red nodded and looked down. "Blackie...what you were saying about you thinking of me..." She paused. "I...I've been thinking of you. I gave you this job so that you'd stay in Rosewood, and I think you know that."
"What...what are you saying, Red?" The older woman cleared her throat.
"I think...I think I still..."
"She think she still knows you're a psycho." Dark Red glared at the pair furiously. "Red, what are you doing?"
"It's her life," Blackie said angrily, standing up from the table.
"Yes, and you're ruining it. Can't you get that through your head?"
"You fucking bitch!" Blackie shouted. "Who do you think you are?"
Dark Red raised her voice up a notch. "What...are you going to hit me? Are you going to kill me too? Do you really think I'm going to let my sister stay with a..." She took a deep breath. "Murderer?"
Color rushed to Blackie's face and she muttered something under her breath before she turned and stalked out of the bar.
Red glared at her sister for a moment, then followed her out. "Blackie!"
"My shift is over, Red," she said without turning around. "I'm finished."
Red looked at Blackie desperately. "Listen to me, Blackie! You tie me up in knots and turn me inside out. That's why I've been so indecisive and stupid these last few weeks. Maybe you were okay with that, because that's how I was back then." She took a deep breath. "But I've grown up, and I don't need you to protect me." She straightened. "And I don't take orders. From anyone."
Blackie turned around, looking directly at Red. "I loved you, you know," she said softly. "And I love you now."
Red sat down on the curb, suddenly exhausted. "Good..." She looked up at Blackie. "I love you too. And I don't care what anyone says, even my big sister." She paused, looking down at the ground for a second, then looked back up at Blackie. "If you ask me to go home with you tonight," she said quietly. "I'll say yes."