Author's Notes: Another chapter despite being drained and all… let's see where this will go. 8D

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Chapter 3: The Missing Piece

Francine and Hannah were staring at a piece of paper laid flat on the study table. Francine had a hard time understanding what the symbols were and lines correspond to on the paper or the blueprint rather. The way it was written down was different from the way blueprints were now today. In this time, blueprints also had to be decoded as well before it could be understood and replicated. Plus, Francine had her own way of creating blueprints. The only one who understood the blueprints she had made up to today was her Mom.

Francine sat down on her study chair while she continued staring at the blueprints. She rested her elbows on the table while leaning her cheeks on her hands. Hannah was behind her, looking over her shoulder.

"Mom sure knows how to encrypt her secret stuff…" Sighing, Francine leaned her back on her chair and stared at the ceiling. "I can't make out of the blueprint at all…"

"What else did your Mom tell you?" Hannah turned the study chair to make Francine face her.

Francine lifted up her head and stared at Hannah groggily.

"Something about stuff I need being in the library upstairs… but there's too many of them. I'm not even sure if what I'm looking for is there… I did spend some time in that library myself when I was younger and very bored. Science books are my favorite of all of the books in there."

"I'm pretty sure you've encountered books that can help you dissect that blueprint before but didn't realize until now…"

"I suppose…" Francine stood up from her seat and started pacing around the room. Then, she stopped and turned to Hannah while she folded her arms across her chest. "Hey, your mom is a mechanic, right?"

"She's an automobile mechanic… her job really has nothing to do with what you're trying to make…" Hannah looked at Francine exasperatedly while she placed her hands on her hips. "Why did you bring that up, anyway?"

"Oh… well, I was thinking of something, but I think I mentioned this to you earlier. You know how cars in general use a lot of power to get it to work? And cars today are run by electricity, with batteries inside them that can be charged. The time remote as well need that kind of power. It doesn't really have to be twenty-four hours power time… at least eight hours should be good enough. Enough to get to the destination… another spare battery enough to get us back."

"Wait, hold up… are you saying after you finish this thing, we're going to use it?!"

Francine grinned and nodded. Hannah couldn't believe what she just heard. To travel across time was something she never intended to get involved into. She had seen and read a lot of different time travel shows and books. All of them had different outcomes. Some were good, some ended up, badly. Hannah didn't want the second part. Well, who does, anyway?

"Nikki, are you really serious about that?" Hannah placed her fingertips on the side of her forehead and sat down on the study chair in front of her.

"Do I look like I'm kidding?" Francine slight raised her eyebrow and scratched her head. "Of course you're coming with me when this time remote functions correctly as I planned. After all, you're my best friend, right?"

"Ugh… don't bring that part up, please…" Hannah turned away from Francine and folded her arms across her chest while she pouted.

"Eeeh… are you being 'tsundere' on me now?" Francine teased and giggled. "I think it's 'kawaii'…"

"Don't mix your Japanese and your English… it sounds weird." Hannah became more exasperated and closed her eyes.

Francine had a tendency to use some Japanese words when talking to people who she was close with. In general, Francine just knew basic Japanese phrases and commonly used words thanks to her Mama-san's hobbies. Hannah, on the other hand, didn't like it when Francine mixes both languages when they talk to each other as she couldn't understand what some of the words meant. Although, Hannah did knew what both 'tsundere' and 'kawaii' meant as Francine used those words the most.

Francine turned the study chair to make Hannah face her. Hannah just stared at her exasperatedly.

"Well, okay, let's focus on getting the time remote powered up for now… I think your mom in general, would have some sort of idea on car batteries work. We just need to convert it to make it smaller. The blueprints Mom made… maybe your mom know something about it as well."

"I already told you, my mom is not interested in those things… I highly doubt she was involved when your Mom created that remote when she was our age…"

"Don't be so pessimistic… at least she can help us with giving an idea on how car power works…"

Francine went behind Hannah and pushed the study chair near her bed. Then, Francine sat down on her bed while facing Hannah.

"I don't really want to talk to her as of this moment…" Hannah looked down and kept quiet.

The silence of the room made Francine worry. It was the first time she saw Hannah like this. She knew that Hannah and her mother got along the most despite some petty arguments. Right now, the feeling Francine had was different.

"You know, my mom lied to your parents when she said she was busy… she just wanted me to stay with you guys until we both calmed down…"

"Eh… but how come you never told me? I mean… what happened?" Francine was so confused and worried that she didn't know where to start asking.

Hannah lifted up her head and forced herself to smile. She knew Francine would worry more if she told her everything. She preferred settling things on her own than getting others involved in her problems. Standing up from her seat, Hannah quickly went close to Francine and held on both of Francine's shoulders.

"Nikki, I think it's better if you focus on your invention instead. This is something that only I can resolve on my own. Either way, if you really want to talk to my mom about this… go ahead but I'm not coming with you…"

"Well… okay, if you say so. But, is she at your place right now?" Still worried, Francine didn't want to go further and let Hannah do what she wanted to do. She thought it would be better to ask Mrs. Parker herself about the situation.

Hannah quickly let go of Francine's shoulder and chuckled a bit.

"No, she's not home today for sure. You know how my mom always joins the drift racing people at the other side of the town every Saturday… and dad is out as well… for 2 weeks. And all of this had to happen while dad's away…"

"I see…" Francine couldn't help but cringe at Hannah's sudden change of mood. She was unsure if Hannah was still upset or just playing with her now. "What time is your mom going to be back then?"

"Who knows? Probably when your parents are back as well…" Hannah shrugged and turned away from Francine. "Anyway, I'll be in your kitchen for a while and grab something to eat. Want some as well? I'll make your favorite sandwich…"

"Sure… I guess…" Francine sweat-dropped and stared at Hannah wearily. The way Hannah's mood changed just like that was something she could never understand clearly.

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"Mama-san… what time are you guys coming home?"

"Eeh, why are you asking all of a sudden, Francine? Did something happen in there?"

Avegaille sweat-dropped and was confused while talking with Francine over her mobile phone. She was in front of a video game store, still at the mall with Nicole May.

Nicole May, on the other hand, was getting irked at the places where Avegaille had been dragging her around so far. After the family restaurant where they had lunch, Avegaille insisted that they head over to the arcade to play at some of the arcade machines, despite the protests Nicole May did. She felt that Avegaille would never grow up and would kept acting like this until they turned fifty. Later on, they went inside a comic shop and even a hobby store for people who enjoyed collecting figures from famous series. They were about to enter a video game store after all that when Francine called.

"Geez, anything Francine would have to tell us is better than all of this…" Nicole May folded her arms across her chest while listening to what Avegaille was saying over the mobile phone.

"What? You're going to Naz's place? But Naz isn't around until who knows when tonight…"

Avegaille turned to Nicole May and looked very confused. From what Nicole May heard so far, Francine really wanted to talk with Hannah's mom, Naz… or Natalie Parker. Before Naz got married, she was known as Natalie Howard. Both of them had known Naz since middle school, hence why they were close with Naz and her family. They treated Hannah, Naz's daughter, like family as well whenever Hannah would stay over at their place.

"But Mama-san, can you at least ask Mrs. Parker to head over our place when she gets back? I really need to ask her a couple of things…"

"Um… well, I suppose…" Avegaille slightly nodded while Francine continued to talk. She looked weary the more she let Francine talk. After that, she gave up, turned to Nicole May and handed her over the phone.

"Why are you giving this to me?" Nicole May slightly raised her eyebrow while picking up the phone from Avegaille's hand.

"Just talk to Francine for me. She started spewing out some terms I couldn't understand anymore… something about how cars run on batteries today and… I couldn't get the rest…"

"Eh… Mama-san, are you still there?"

Nicole May could slightly hear Francine's question from the mobile phone's speaker despite the phone itself not being on loudspeaker. With Avegaille's left eye slightly twitching, Nicole May couldn't resist and quickly placed the mobile phone's speaker over her ear.

"Francine, what is this all about now? Why do you want to speak with Hannah's mom?"

"Mom… ahh… well, I really couldn't understand the blueprint when I saw it… so now I'm looking for another possibility of maybe if Mrs. Parker could give me some hints in regards to car power and how to compress such power in a small object…"

Nicole May slightly raised her eyebrow after hearing what Francine had to say. Since she knew Naz way back in middle school, there was no way Naz would have advanced knowledge when it comes to how things really worked or how they were built from scratch. Naz only knew how to fix what she saw as broken in an automobile engine and what caused it to break in the first place. Either way, Naz wasn't really into automobiles when they first met in middle school. She was more interested in photography, especially since she was part of the school newspaper at that time. Thanks to Avegaille's influence after showing Naz a Japanese animated series about cars and racing, Naz's interested shifted.

"Really now? Well, I highly doubt Naz could help you but it's worth trying anyway. I'll call her for you then, dear."

"Eeh, really, Mom?! Thanks so much! Okay, see you guys home soon!"

Francine's giggles from the other line made Nicole May smile. For her, it was rare to hear Francine get excited when she did something for her. Probably, it was the fact that she was so serious most of the time… it was hard for her to show to Francine her soft side. Avegaille was looking at Nicole May's expression as well and chuckled to herself.

"All right, we'll get home soon as well… bye then…"

After that, Nicole May put the phone off her ear and hung up on the line. She started looking for Avegaille's contacts on the mobile phone. She would use her own mobile phone but Avegaille thought it would be better if she left it at home. Avegaille knew that Nicole May could still do work even on the mobile phone.

"Calling Naz right now?" Avegaille slightly giggled while watching Nicole May and how focused she was on the mobile phone.

"Yeah… I'm getting there… after this, we have to pick Lanette up at your sister's place…"

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Francine and Hannah were in the kitchen, eating together. Hannah made sandwiches as she declared earlier. Francine enjoyed Hannah's tuna sandwiches, as she knew how much Hannah loved to cook and anything Hannah made would always turn out delicious. It was one of Hannah's specialties, to say the least. Other than cooking, Hannah was still searching on what else she could be good at in which she could surpass Francine.

Francine's mouth was stuffed when the doorbell rang. She quickly swallowed the sandwich and ran out of the kitchen to get to the front door. Upon reaching the front door, she quickly opened the door and saw Mrs. Parker in front of her. Mrs. Parker grinned at her while she placed her hands on her hips. Mrs. Parker had blonde hair which reached until her shoulder and was wearing a cap. Francine also noticed the racing suit that Mrs. Parker was wearing, and the car that was parked in front of their garage. The driveway to their garage could fit two cars so it was fine if one of them was parked there.

"Francine, your parents told me you wanted to speak with me… so here I am."

"Ah yes, that's right… you arrived rather quickly, Mrs. Parker…" Francine smiled sheepishly and laughed nervously.

"Hmm? Oh, I was on my way home when Nikki called me up. What I don't get is why she was using Avegaille's phone… I'm pretty sure she has at least three mobile phones of her own with her every time."

"I think Mama-san took the liberty of taking them away from Mom… Anyway, we should head inside, Mrs. Parker. Hannah's in the kitchen as well…"

"Ah, of course… but do me a favor for now, Francine. Try to talk to Hannah as much as you can as I highly doubt she wants to speak with me as of this time."

Mrs. Parker placed her hands on Francine's shoulders and forced herself to smile. Francine, on the other hand, looked worried and couldn't help but wondered what happened with the two of them. Then, Mrs. Parker turned Francine around and slightly pushed her, leading her to the inside of the house. She closed the door once the two of them were in the hallway.

"But… Mrs. Parker… I want to know what's happening between you two."

"I'll tell you once we sit down, okay dear?"

Mrs. Parker continued pushing Francine until they were now inside the living room. Then, Francine sat down on the sofa and Mrs. Parker sat down next to her.

"Um… okay… will you tell me now?"

Mrs. Parker grabbed one of Francine's cheeks and slightly pinched it. She giggled while looking at Francine's reaction.

"Oow… that hurts…" Putting her hands on her cheeks, Francine pouted while staring at Mrs. Parker.

"Haha, okay, enough kidding around… I'll tell you what's happening…" Mrs. Parker leaned her back on the sofa and turned her head to face the LCD TV in front of her. "You know how Hannah tends to be serious at some point? I don't know where she got this… maybe me as well, but I'm not that serious…"

"Aah… yeah, I noticed… sometimes…" Laughing nervously, Francine thought of the days in which Hannah would always tell her to finish her homework and not to procrastinate. She thought it was annoying, but at least with that, she was able to finish most of her work on time.

"Well, she thinks I don't take things too seriously whenever we're talking together and would end up arguing about every single thing. But, if I think about it, being too serious in life would make everything dull. I would have to think about on what to do next…"

"I suppose so…" Francine folded her arms across her chest and slightly closed her eyes. She was about to doze off from the silence of the room when she remembered she still had to ask Mrs. Parker about car power. Then, she quickly opened her eyes and stood up from her seat. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I really wanted to ask you something in regards to cars and their battery power!"

"Yeah, Nikki told me that… but I'm not someone in the know of where things originated. Either way, if you show me something, images or blueprints maybe, we may be able to work something out…"

"Okay, I'll get them!"

Francine quickly rushed out of the living room, leaving Mrs. Parker alone. Noticing the remote control on the coffee table, Mrs. Parker picked it up and turned on the television to make the room lively. She switched the channels until she got to a channel highlighting a drag race. Then, Francine came back with a piece of paper in her hand and went in front of Mrs. Parker.

"Here it is… I can't understand them but it should be some sort of clue, I guess…"

Mrs. Parker took the paper from Francine and began reading it. She lowered the volume of the television with the remote on her hand while reading through the paper. After she finished looking at it, she turned the paper around to show the part where there was nothing written on it and lifted it up against the light. She could still see the blueprint, as long as there was a bright light shining through it. Finally, she understood what the blueprint was about.

"Ah, here's your problem… apparently Nikki decided it would be better to create a blueprint, reversing its image so no one could understand it. I have no clue why she would do that…"

"Eeh, really?!" Francine quickly took the paper from Mrs. Parker and looked through the paper herself and saw what Mrs. Parker was referring to.

While the symbols of the blueprints were no longer used today, Francine now had a clear understanding on how to create the small battery. The diagram Nicole May created years ago was the standard back then for blueprints, only the one she made was in reverse. Francine taught herself on how to understand different kinds of blueprints and was able to even create her own.

"You know, I remember Nikki creating some blueprints for who knows what when we had exchange students around as well… that was when we were in eight grade. They're not really from another country… a different state maybe? Nikki, for some reason, took the liberty of letting them stay at her place while they were in the area."

Francine paused for a bit and lowered down her arms while staring at Mrs. Parker. The idea of exchange students from another state within the same country was unlikely and unheard of. Of course, different states still had different cultures, even though they were all in the same country.

"Their names weren't that unique either… I think their names were Nikki Stephens and Andrea Davis…"

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End of Chapter 3

Where will this end up, I wonder? =P