Epilogue Ending One: 12

A week passed. Graduation was over, along with any kind of celebratory status that went with it. The senior class of Stanton each went their own way—some to jobs, some to college, others into the military. For those who parted, it would be small chance of meeting each other again, for the world was a big place, and in spite of the advances in communications technology, time and distance were still a bane to what was once a strong friendship. Even those who felt true love for each other discovered new chasms intent on separating them, and many cursed fate and the divine powers

Vairocana Knox was lost. She had allowed herself to grow close to somebody, but barely a week after saying goodbye to Avelina, Vai seemed to lose all contact. She knew where the other girl lived, and knew her phone number by heart, but the business of the so-called real world cast them down different paths, making them aliens once again. Whenever Vai called her friend, she got no answer. She started to think Avelina abandoned her, so she wrote a letter in hopes that it would be answered.

In the meantime, she felt her heart being broken because of what she considered her bravery. Her final year at Stanton had changed her, no doubt about that, and she felt more confident and open about herself. She began to seriously dwell on the prospect of a lover, and now that school was out, she had all the more opportunity to find one. The church she went to had plenty of young men—but alas, who knew just how many of them were really available? Still, Vai pursed her lips and steeled her resolve, and during one dull Sunday morning, she went over and sat next to one of the guys she really liked.

"Hello," she greeted. He just nodded. Being the master of conversations that she was, Vai felt inclined to push herself further. "My name is Vai. Can I sit here?"

"Sure," he replied, not sounding all that interested. Ho-hum. Vai scooted closer and put her heart on the line.

"So what's your name?"

"…Todd." She knew that; she just wanted him to introduce himself.

"Ah. How long have you been coming here, Todd?"

"About…uh, my sophomore year, I guess—HEY!" He stood up happily and pulled somebody in with him—a woman, Vai noted emptily, and a rather bubbly one at that. She and Todd kissed, and he vaguely introduced her to Vai, although he didn't remember her name. Well—that was one for the journal entry!

Avelina's letter came back quickly. She said how sorry she was that she was being so inattentive, but she was working a new job and didn't really have much time for anything else, even her friends. She wrote that soon, maybe in a year or less, she would have enough to move out on her own—maybe live with Ethan, maybe live with Vai. Knox loved the idea of having her own place, and the promise of a roommate she knew and loved made the deal easier. Vai replied by saying how sorry she was for sounding so needy and greedy, and added that she, too, was getting a new job in the future. If they pooled their resources together, she said, they'd be able to move in sooner.

Talking to Avelina, even through snail mail, always did seem to cheer Vai up. As jealous as she was of her friend's romantic status, she couldn't help but like both Avi and Ethan; they were her good friends, and about the only ones she really had. Vai wanted to make more, but her church didn't seem too keen on college-age youth groups. They skipped over that section entirely and went straight into adults and singles ministry. To Vai, it felt like a slap to the face, a way of saying that people her age no longer mattered to the church. She quit going the moment she got her driver's license

Her parents were concerned, but they did admit it seemed unfair to let the college people go without a group. They tried speaking up about it, but were waved away and ignored, a feeling they both knew very well. Eventually they stopped going as well, and soon the whole family was searching for a place where they would feel loved and accepted—ultimately, the goal of every human being alive. Until then, Vai was in a slump. She finished her story and printed the whole thing out, but…with that done, what other creative purpose did she have?

Vai was looking forward to her new job. Compared to her last one, it seemed like heaven: she was going to be typing medical transcriptions, and would be paid fairly for it. The job required her to wear more sophisticated clothes than a cashier's uniform and sneakers, but she shined to the idea because wearing nice clothes always put her in a more adult state of mind and mood. And besides, despite her dabbling in glum moods, she really did look beautiful in casual business attire.

The job wouldn't start until after noon, and she would have every weekend off, so she took Saturday and Sunday in stride, making last-minute adjustments to her life in general before heading off into this new career. She didn't think she'd be doing this for the rest of her life—she had some vague plans for college, but nothing concrete—but if it really came down to it, she could adjust. She always did; it's what made her so strong and resilient. Monday arrived quickly, with Vai waking up to a stomach full of butterflies. She nervously ate breakfast and decided to take a walk before her job started—perhaps one last look at the free world.

It was now late May, and the weather reflected thus. The world was painted in ethereal greens and yellows, golden husks of tulips and purple lilacs and violets. A brief shower of pink petals indicated something akin to cherry blossoms; the deep sigh of a weeping willow towering over a small pond cast a shadow across brief grassy knolls. The air was clean, and aside from a few cars puttering around, the day was quiet and serene. Now Vai wished she had taken that Parks and Recreations job she spotted in the paper. Days like this were too nice to be wasted outdoors.

Checking her watch, Vai realized she had enough time to sit and meditate, so she found a small bench, dusted off the leaves and debris, and sat down, feeling relieved. The day could pass her by and she wouldn't feel like she had wasted a moment: in this time there was serenity, and in the next, a vague hope for the future. A person walked up to her as she rested, and sat down, sharing a smile.

"Hey," she said. "I know you. Vai Knox, right? You remember me, don't you?" Vai nodded. Sure she remembered; this was one of those girls that had flirted with her.

"Yeah, Alisha Fox. So what brings you here?"

"I'm on a date with myself," she said with a grin. Meaning she was here alone and probably liked it that way. "I couldn't resist. I'm a sucker for gorgeous days like today. Thank God I don't have to work until June."

"It's funny you say that, because I'm starting my new job today, around 12:30."

"Really, where at?"

"St. Barnabas Clinic. I'm a transcriptionist."

"Wow, really? You never did strike me as the medical type."

"Well, I gotta earn money somehow, and I'm good at typing."

"Really. I never figured." Inwardly, Vai allowed herself a proud smile. She was actually having a real conversation with someone! "So," Alisha continued, "when do you get off?"

"Nine at night. It's an eight-hour shift and I get thirty minutes for lunch."

"Oh, jeez. I was just gonna ask if you wanna hang out sometime." Vai turned around and grinned at this unexpected new friend.

"I'd love that! I'm actually free on weekends, and like I said, I don't go into work until after twelve."

"That doesn't leave you much time," Alisha said. Vai looked at her watch and realized it was just past 11:15. St. Barnabas was just close enough to walk to (all the more convenient since she didn't have her own car), so if she hurried, she could make it easily.

"No… Well, I guess that means I better get going. Hey, um, you want my number so we can call each other?"

"Sure, sure. Just gimme a sec." Vai waited anxiously as the copper-haired woman dug around her purse. She began to wonder if Alisha still had those feelings for her. Lately the idea of being in a romantic relationship, even if it was with another girl, was sounding more and more attractive to her. Alisha was pretty, but more importantly, she was wild and sassy, an aggressive athletic girl any man (or lesbian) would die to have. And knowing herself, Vai knew that having an aggressive person in her life would help her in the long run. She needed to loosen up anyway.

"Here, okay," said Fox, whipping out her cell phone. Vai recited her number slowly and Alisha programmed it in, then the two switched roles (though Vai didn't quite have a cell phone just yet; she did have her own phone in her room). Now that she had the girl's number, Vai decided to go out on a limb—a very, very long limb.

"Say Alisha? Uh…I was just wondering—is this gonna be like a date?"

"Why, you interested?" That silky, siren's smile of hers came out. Vai fumbled.

"Uh, well, I'm just curious. I mean, if it is…"

"It's not, don't worry," said Alisha with a laugh. "I know that makes you uneasy, and besides, I already have a girlfriend. You're pretty safe."

"Oh. Good." The smile she had on was one-hundred percent fake, and Alisha bought it. Damn. Shot down again.

When Vai got home, she was in such a bad mood that her mothers noticed. They didn't say anything as she stormed inside and hastily assembled her lunch, but having their daughter rudely stalk around without explaining herself would not pass for long. She was running a little late, but surely there was more to it than that. It had something to do with what happened to her after breakfast, because she seemed fine until then. Vai's mother watched quietly as her daughter shuffled her belongings together, roughly adjusted her clothes, and stormed out the door, slamming it on the way.

"Vairocana Knox! What has gotten into you?" Vai froze angrily as her mother stepped out and called to her. She was in no mood to deal with this.

"Don't bother me! I'm in a really bad mood!" she snapped venomously. Her mother could not hide the hurt expression on her face, and even Vai noticed it. She softened a little as she realized what an ass she was, but…so many things were happening all at once, many of them feeling as if they were attacking her. And now this… Still, her mother managed to blow a kiss of apology, and gave her daughter a sad smile. Vai just waved, mentally promising to explain herself when she got back.

"Bye!" Vai turned around sharply, adjusted her uniform, and shuffled away into the next phase of her life.

Exeunt

Ending Two: 0

A week passed. Graduation was over, along with any kind of celebratory status that went with it. The senior class of Stanton each went their own way—some to jobs, some to college, others into the military. For those who parted, it would be small chance of meeting each other again, for the world was a big place, and in spite of the advances in communications technology, time and distance were still a bane to what was once a strong friendship. Even those who felt true love for each other discovered new chasms intent on separating them, and many cursed fate and the divine powers

Vairocana Knox was lost. She had allowed herself to grow close to somebody, but barely a week after saying goodbye to Avelina, Vai seemed to lose all contact. She knew where the other girl lived, and knew her phone number by heart, but the business of the so-called real world cast them down different paths, making them aliens once again. Whenever Vai called her friend, she got no answer. She started to think Avelina abandoned her, so she wrote a letter in hopes that it would be answered.

In the meantime, she felt her heart being broken because of what she considered her bravery. Her final year at Stanton had changed her, no doubt about that, and she felt more confident and open about herself. She began to seriously dwell on the prospect of a lover, and now that school was out, she had all the more opportunity to find one. The church she went to had plenty of young men—but alas, who knew just how many of them were really available? Still, Vai pursed her lips and steeled her resolve, and during one dull Sunday morning, she went over and sat next to one of the guys she really liked.

"Hello," she greeted. He just nodded. Being the master of conversations that she was, Vai felt inclined to push herself further. "My name is Vai. Can I sit here?"

"Sure," he replied, not sounding all that interested. Ho-hum. Vai scooted closer and put her heart on the line.

"So what's your name?"

"…Todd." She knew that; she just wanted him to introduce himself.

"Ah. How long have you been coming here, Todd?"

"About…uh, my sophomore year, I guess—HEY!" He stood up happily and pulled somebody in with him—a woman, Vai noted emptily, and a rather bubbly one at that. She and Todd kissed, and he vaguely introduced her to Vai, although he didn't remember her name. Well—that was one for the journal entry!

Avelina's letter came back quickly, but there was bad news in it. The reason the two friends weren't able to maintain contact was because Avelina was moving again—this time, she was going the next state over to attend college. She yammered on about how hard the change would be, and how depressed she was now that all the work she had done to make all those friends had been in vain. She attempted to light her words with a positive glow, saying that she would still keep in touch with everyone, but she didn't sound very hopeful, and Vai was not convinced.

After a few more weeks of trying to keep in touch, she lost contact with Avelina altogether. She never saw Ethan again either, despite gathering the courage to borrow her mom's car and drive up to the garage he worked in. The mechanics there said that Mr. Nikholai had moved away, presumably to be with his girlfriend, and they didn't sound very heartfelt about it either. Vai returned home with a sunken heart, and spent a long hour by herself in her room, thinking about what had transpired. So…that was it. Her only friends in the world were gone for good.

The job she took was okay, but it bored her half to death, worked her to the bone, didn't challenge her at all, and barely paid her anything. She wanted to get a new one, but without a car to call her own, she couldn't go anywhere she couldn't walk. The acquaintances she knew there were mostly distant; all the people who went to Stanton drifted away, one by one, leaving her the only alumna there. May and June (the months) passed by slowly, with little to say about them, and July was dull with its promises. Despite how much she saved up, Vai did not have enough for college, not even with her parents and financial aid helping her. She opted to skip it for a semester and save up more money, but as time dragged on, she discovered she would never have the right amount.

September and October lashed at her with their cruelty. Vai escaped the church she had been attending and never went back, claiming it did her no good. She lost contact with the very last acquaintance she had made in school—Aintzane moved away to some university, riding on a sports scholarship—and her job continued to lash at her, pulling into a Mobius spiral from which there was no escape. She couldn't find a better job because she had no formal education, and she couldn't get that because she didn't have a better-paying job. Her social life was now dead; she spent most (if not all) of her time in her room, wasting away in front of her computer, writing stories that nobody would read or care about.

November hailed her with a cruel twist. The disc she had her work on suddenly went bankrupt, erasing every last file and folder she had put on there without any reason. Vai literally screamed and threw a tantrum so horrible, she actually broke the failed disk and punched a small dent in the wall with her fist. She yelled until she was hoarse, and kicked the walls until she was weak, anything to pour the aggression out, to avenge her terrible loss, to silence the madness and ease herself. World Fantastica was dead, and with it her heart, her soul, her entire creative outlet—her very reason for living. All because of a little computer error.

December came and went. Vai spent the holidays alone. Her parents fought bitterly over the Christmas season, and separated for a time, leaving their daughter in the care of a relative. She got presents, sure, and a pitiful birthday, but there was nobody there for her, nobody to comfort her and love her in this bleak time. She felt like she was God's whipping girl, the very focal point to unleash all the holy outrage He had for every human that failed Him. They could get off easily and have happy lives, but not her. She had to receive every lash, every bruise, every sadistic beating, over and over again, and all she could do was take it as God laughed at her. She wanted to die so badly.

Journal entry Number ? January 3, 2006

Until recently, I always managed to convince myself I had a reason to live. At first it was my story: World Fantastica kept me going. I wanted so badly to see it end, to have Veronica live happily ever after, just like in all the other fairy tales. I didn't care if people read it—this was my own personal crusade. But now it's gone. The cruelty of the modern age wiped out everything I worked so hard for. Optimists might say I could go on, start over, write it better this time, but…how can you recreate something you put your entire heart and soul into? I may as well reconstruct a limb that falls off.

My friends gave me additional reasons to live. They were so wonderful! I loved them so much. Avelina and Ethan…I think about them now and then. Where are they? What are they doing? Do they still remember me? Will I ever see them again? I miss them so much. I even miss those people I barely knew. I even miss "Rochelle". God, I should've kissed her on my birthday. I should've let her have her way with me in the sauna. I think I had a crush on her. I know she liked me! We might've been good together, right? It would've worked! I wouldn't have minded being with another woman! God, I'm so lonely and depressed that I'll do anything to make the pain go away!

But I have nothing left to live for. My parents? I don't even know if they care. My religion? It's clear God hates me. Hell cannot be worse than this. No…I am in Hell. This life is Hell. The "other" Hell will seem like heaven next to this. If I die, it will just be better. But every time I think I'm going to kill myself, I just chicken out and find some excuse not to. I no longer have an excuse this time. I want to end it all. Mom, mother, if you're reading this, wondering what insane thoughts were going through your daughter's head at the moment, now you know. I have gone insane. I'm sick and stupid with grief. I wish I had never been born. You've damned me.

So I'm going to take control of my life, and with that control, I will choose the manner and time of my own destruction. It is the only power I have left. I pray that if there is any love left in the heart of God, He will stop me. If He does not want me to die, then He can prevent it. And if He does…then I'm better off dead anyway!

For my end, I've constructed a noose, and soon I shall put myself into oblivion. The rope makes a circle, and thoughts pass through my head as I stare at it. So many things this circle can represent: everything, nothing, the infinite, the all-absorbing hole, Uroborus…

Very soon now, I will leap off the mortal coil and see what lies in the abyss. How strange, that I must rise before I fall… Well, only one thing left—to take the last step. I always wondered what it would be like to fly.

The End

Ending Three: 1

A week passed. Graduation was over, along with any kind of celebratory status that went with it. The senior class of Stanton each went their own way—some to jobs, some to college, others into the military. For those who parted, it would be small chance of meeting each other again, for the world was a big place, and in spite of the advances in communications technology, time and distance were still a bane to what was once a strong friendship. Even those who felt true love for each other discovered new chasms intent on separating them, and many cursed fate and the divine powers

But not Vairocana Knox. Somehow, life had other things in store for her, as if it wanted to make up for all the misery she went through. Not only did she keep close contact with Avelina and Ethan, she also spent many happy nights over the summer at their houses, the three of them enjoying their moments of friendship and love. Vai and Avi even went to summer camp together, where Vai reunited with a dear friend, one she thought lost forever. In the small period of time the two girls were away from the world, they drew closer and closer, passing beyond the realm of best friend until it was safe to say that they were very comfortable in calling each other a sister.

She got a few days to herself when they got back; Avelina was starting a new job, one she loved and deserved, and Vai had that medical transcription thingy coming up. They conspired to pull their resources together and started seriously looking for a small two-bedroom apartment to move into. Knox's parents were overjoyed at their daughter's wonderful turn of good fortune, and even chipped in a little, just so she'd move out faster, leaving them free reign of their own house once again.

"Oh, boy," Avelina giggled when Vai told her the news. "That's going to be a pretty interesting sight. Two fully-grown lesbians with nothing to do around the house except getting into trouble. Jeez, think they'll drive each other up the wall?"

"No doubt about it," Vai replied, "but they love each other. I'm sure that all their spats won't turn into anything ugly." The two girls beamed, and resumed their planning, sometimes counseling with Ethan, or even Kula and Farrah. Ultimately they settled on something humble, and by the time July rolled around, the girls were ready to move in. Avelina came first and spent quite a bit of time settling in, but Vai still had a few obligations to fulfill. There was only one computer in the whole Knox household, and Vai was generous enough to know her parents needed it even more than she did.

"I want to finish my story," she told Avi over the phone, "so I'll be awhile. You don't have a computer, do you?"

"No, sorry. You could use the ones at school."

"Yeah, well, I kinda want the advantage of having one 24-7. You know, for convenience."

"Right. Um, do you need internet?"

"Not badly. I don't use it much. Just a format where I can type, and a printer." She noticed her mother was giving her that "look", the look that meant she had been on the phone long enough, and politely hung up after saying goodbye. Before her mother picked up the phone for her own use, Vai reached out and gave the older woman an unexpected hug.

"What's this for?" she wondered. Vai grinned.

"I just want to apologize if I've ever been a thorn in your side. I know I can be pissy a lot. And…I want to say that I love you both, and I don't resent you for your decision to have me."

"Oh." This declaration was unexpected, but welcome, and Mrs. Knox returned the hug before gently prying herself away. Knowing her mother had business to attend to, Vai decided to go for a long walk outside, maybe pop on by the grocery store and pick up some treats.

Along the way, a sense of déjà vu struck her as she noticed one of her acquaintances walking around, scanning the produce selection. Vai remembered once upon a time that she used to be shy and distant, and would've just ignored this girl before. But then she remembered the three instances where they had drawn close, and recalled them all with fondness. With a bright smile decorating her face, she walked up and tapped the woman's back.

"Hey! Fancy seeing you here!"

"Yeah, I know. What'cha up to, Rochelle?" Aintzane Klein blushed a little as Vai used that name. She remembered their last encounter as well, and recalled how warm and wonderful she felt when dear Vai addressed her so sweetly.

"Hey…you remembered."

"Of course I did. Who could forget you, even if they wanted to?" Zane muttered and smiled grimly, scratching her neck.

"Ha, ha. I'm just picking up some groceries. I spied some cookies that were on sale, so I'm over here trying to decide what could balance them out. What's your fancy?"

"I'm really more of a vegetable girl," said Vai, folding her hands behind her back. "But as for fruits, I really love pears."

"Pears it is, then." Zane smiled and popped a few into a plastic bag, then she invited Vai to shop with her—openly calling her Veronica. Now Vai was the one who blushed. How she wished everyone would call her that! It was such a pretty name, much better than her old one! What had her parents been thinking, anyway?

Vai—now Veronica—found herself opening up to Zane—now Rochelle—in a way she never thought possible. The two chatted like old friends, mentioning the trouble they were getting into now that school was out; what college they wanted to attend; how they were handling their summer, things like that. When Vai told Zane that she was moving out soon into her own place, the other woman brightened.

"Oh, really? That's incredible. Geez, I still live at home, too. Hey, if you need a roomie, I'll gladly volunteer." Vai smiled sadly.

"Sorry, that position's already filled. But it's nice of you to offer."

"And it's nice of you to say you're sorry." Zane gave her a smooth smile, and quietly reached for Vai's hand. Vai did not want to jerk back, not this time. "It was also nice of you to help me back there. As a matter of fact, you're about the nicest girl I know. You were always good to me, Veronica. Everyone else stays away because of all those nasty rumors—plus, I can be pretty intimidating if I want to. I guess you kinda know what that feels like, having two mothers and all. People must really say some nasty things."

"They do," she agreed, "but it's not so bad. I've recently come to terms with who I am and who they are, and I think I can go about my day without being embarrassed over it. I'm sure the three of us could get along like we use to when I was younger."

"I wish I had a mother," Zane whispered, sounding wistful. She drew in a deep breath, pushing the dramatic part of her aside. "Well, why don't you introduce me? We are friends, right? Personally I'd love to meet them. Think they'll let me pop over and see?"

"Yeah, sure," Vai said, sounding amazed. Was this really happening? Was she really cementing another friendship, here and now, right in the checkout lane? Yes, she reasoned, as she squeezed Rochelle's hands. Yes she was.

Vai introduced her new friend as Rochelle Klein, and her parents liked the tall, redheaded woman at once. They insisted that she stay for dinner; they were cooking it themselves, and the smell of simmering pot roast and browning biscuits was too much to resist. After putting her groceries away (in sacks so nobody would confuse them), Zane followed Vai to her room, the inner sanctum that nobody save Avelina had entered—in a sense, the very core of her being. Klein liked Vai's room and remarked how much neater it was compared to her own.

"Mine's a sty," she said with a laugh. Vai gave her free reign and said she could look at, touch, fondle, handle, and play with just about anything: make yourself at home. Aintzane bounced on the bed a little and fingered through Vai's tiny collection of movies and books, making comments about the ones she liked.

"You've gotta let me borrow this," she'd say, or, "Oh! I love this one!", and, "Wow, this is a really crappy movie." Vai took it all in with a smile, happy that at last, she could freely let another person into her life. Then, she did something irregular and dug into her closet, looking for a large folder. She brought it out and presented it to her friend, who took it carefully.

"What is it?" she whispered. Vai blushed.

"My story. Remember how I said I wrote stories? Well this is it, my masterpiece." Zane smiled eagerly and opened it up, scanning through the first page. She knew that Vai was a more gifted writer than she was, but this… This work of art was breathtaking. She flipped through a few more pages, startled at the length.

"Veronica, ya gotta let me read this. It looks so cool." Knox paused to consider it. This was her only copy, aside from the data on her disk. This work was her child; she had given birth to it and cared for it. Did she really trust her new friend to handle such a delicate work?

"Be careful with it," she whispered. "It's the only copy I have."

"I will." Zane closed the folder and kept it near, handling it like a treasure. Vai's parents summoned them for dinner a short time later, and needless to say, the girls raced to devour this new wonderful meal.

Aintzane left shortly after stuffing herself with dessert, but promised to keep in touch with her new friend, as frequently as she could. Mom and Mother Knox exchanged a knowing grin once their daughter was out of sight, but left everything else to the imagination as they set about cleaning the dishes. The next day was Monday, and their daughter was due back at the hospital for her job. Vai went to bed early and woke up early, feeling refreshed in the morning sun. The shower woke her up and cleansed her from the nightly stiffness; her neck had a little cramp in it, making her walk stiffly.

Her mom was nice enough to massage Vai's neck. This loosened it a bit, making the pain go away, but poor Vai still had that funny walk. However, yesterday put her into one of her very rare "great" moods, and she walked outside feeling positive for the first time in a very long while. She met Zane again as she walked to work, but of course—the two had planned on meeting again so Vai could hand over her work.

"Be very careful with it," she emphasized, transferring the large folder into her friend's arms. Klein kept it like it was a baby, and swore on her heart that she wouldn't let anything bad happen to it. She then asked if she could walk with Vai on the way to work—and Vai was happy to have her along.

"So, Veronica," she said, using the name she knew Vai loved, "you like this job?"

"It's okay. It sure beats being a cashier!"

"Ugh, that sounds awful. Yeah, anything would be better than that. So…uh, hey, just out of curiosity, would you like to hang out with me some more? I mean, whenever you're free, that is." Vai gave Zane a rosy smile, and nodded.

"I'd love it."

"Really? That's great." The two stared at each other for awhile, time and space all but forgotten. Vairocana Knox recalled all those times she had been with Aintzane, and remembered that they had all been good, good times, each and every one. The intimacy they shared on her birthday, the cute awkwardness at the sauna, the friendship they forged after the soccer season ended…and now this. Vai, being shorter than Zane, looked up and drew a deep breath. Even with all those rumors, and the way she fought on the soccer field, and her overall eccentric nature, Vai could tell that deep down inside, Rochelle Klein was such a beautiful woman…

She leaned up and, for the first time ever, kissed another person affectionately.

Her very first kiss… And so what if it was with another woman? Vai enjoyed it immensely.

"Wow," said Zane, quite surprised. Her face was red and jolly; she had clearly liked it as well. The two chuckled to themselves, Zane especially happy. "So…the first of many, huh?"

"We'll see!" managed Vai, embarrassed and happy and flustered all at once. She laughed and waved at her friend as she walked away, towards her new job—her new life, it seemed. Rochelle's last words to her hung in her mind as she was going through the front door into the main lobby. Veronica Knox mused on them…

"The first of many…"

And smiled.

fin