The Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 Continuation Fanfic Series

by P. Kristen Enos


Most of these stories take place AFTER the TV Series! So DON’T blame me if I ruin the ending for you because you read these stories first!

Lesbian/Yuri/Shoujo Ai Warning! (Non-explicit — at least in the “PG13″/”R” sort of way.) Just not written for children because they probably wouldn’t get half of it.

All rights belong to JVC/AIC, ADV Films and the other creative powers that be. I just want credit for writing the story.

Chapter 4

With the stars above them, the Tokyo skyline around them, and delicious food on the table before them, Sylia frowned as she assessed the situation. As she sat at the head of the table, she watched Priss and Linna eat their meal in silence as the tension between them was felt by everyone else.

Everything had seemed fine when Sylia had briefly talked to the new roommates that morning. However, the tension between them when they arrived was visible. It didn’t seem to be at the level of actual hostility, but there was an undeniable edginess that seemed to permeate from the two of them, especially in the way they cryptically talked to or at each other.

Their hostess hoped this wasn’t a sign of how their life as roommates would be, given that they had only spent one night in the same apartment.

Nene and Mackey on the other hand were sneaking glances up at the other two while clearly afraid to say anything to make whatever was wrong worse. It was unfortunate that this was their first night back together since Nene had only come back from her visit home that afternoon.

Wanting to salvage the evening for everyone, Sylia decided it was time to take the bull by the horns and address this issue once and for all.

“So, how is the roommate situation going?” Sylia asked, sounding as casual as possible, which made her real intention quite obvious to everyone else at the table.

“It’s fine,” Priss answered bluntly, not looking up from her meal.

“Don’t mind her,” Linna remarked acidly, happy to finally have an opportunity to have this out in the open once and for all. “She’s just being ‘Prissy’ because I forced her to go clothes shopping with me because I told her this morning that I didn’t want to spend the entire day and night looking at her in her ‘Dyke On Bike’ outfit.”

Priss froze in mid-cut of her meat as everyone else at the table immediately held his or her breath.

“You, of all people, should not be criticizing my taste in clothes,” Priss replied quietly but with a firm edge in her tone. “You dress more butch than I do on occasion, and you don’t even have a real bike to go with the outfit.”

“Excuse me! I dress for comfort!” Linna snapped back. “When I’m stuck in an O.L. outfit all day long, I’m certainly not going to spend my private time prancing around in pantyhose and heels!”

Sylia tilted her head curiously as she watched this exchange, fascinated by what was being revealed. She made a mental note that the next time they’re sent on a mission, she’ll ask Sylvie if she can check if they’re on the same menstrual cycle. In a way, this reminded her of her days with Reika, although she had to admit they never argued about this particular subject.

Priss snorted and remarked, “Linna, you haven’t been an O.L. in months. I’d love to hear your rationale for dressing more butch than I do when that cane’s finally gone.”

Sylia cleared her throat to interrupt their exchange. Once she had their attention, she flashed them a smile and said, “If it’ll help settle the matter, after dinner we can go downstairs and put you two in matching dresses.”

That remark resulted in a double glare from the two women. Nene’s belated covering of her mouth to hide the snort of a laugh then drew Linna and Priss’s displeased attention.

“See, you two are a team again,” Sylia commented smoothly.

Mackey thought it best to focus even more attention on his mashed potatoes.

Sylia then turned to the right side of the table and asked, “Did you have a good visit home, Nene?”

“Um, yeah!” Nene said with forced brightness, only partially glad to have the burning glares from her other teammates broken. “The wedding was fantastic. My sister Nina actually made a beautiful bride; of course, it helped that she had her big fat mouth shut for once. And my niece is SOOO cute! I’m actually thinking about planning another trip next summer just to go see her when she’s a bit older.”

“Great!” Mackey said brightly. “Just let me know when and I’ll ask if Nigel can let me have that time off!”

“NO! — Ah, I – I mean, don’t plan on it! I’m just thinking about it, is all!” Nene blustered, breaking out into a nervous laugh. “We’ll probably be up to our eyeballs in boomers next summer, for all we know!”

“So, Nene,” Linna jumped in quickly, “did any of your relatives from Russia fly in?”

“Oh yeah!” she answered, grateful for the subtle shift in focus. “Mostly from Dad’s side since he’s second generation Russian and Mom’s third. It also felt like we had the entire neighborhood there. I even saw some of my friends from high school. It was pretty cool but tiring!”

The other women noticed the odd shift in conversation, which almost sounded like a cover-up of some sort. Yet, neither one said anything as Sylia merely observed and Priss seemed to focus on her meal. Meanwhile, Mackey just listened with fascination to the details he wished he had witnessed in person.

“Wow, you actually spent an entire week back home and had a good time,” Linna said wistfully, her chin on her hand. “If it were me, my parents would’ve had me helping them in the fields during the day, and attending marriage meetings in the evening.”

“I’m certain that’ll stop once they find out about your new roommate situation,” Sylia commented.

Linna froze, Nene and Mackey looked puzzled, and Priss choked on a mouthful of wine, but quickly recovered herself.

Linna glared at the woman next to her, who merely smiled back in her personal mix of half-innocent, half-“I dare you” expression.

“Mackey,” Linna suddenly said, a sly smile on her lips.

The young man jumped to attention, realizing something was happening but he wasn’t sure exactly what. “Yes, Linna?”

“Speaking of the old days, I have to admit I’ve always been curious about something. You and Sylia lived together up until Sylia moved back to Tokyo after she graduated high school, right?”

“Um, yes, kind of,” he answered, nervously stealing a glance at his sister. “She lived in the school dorms during the week, but she came home during most of the weekends and breaks.”

Sylia merely watched, intrigued to see where this was going.

“So I assume you knew Reika. But did you know they were… together?”

He looked at her blankly and answered, “I knew they were friends. Reika almost always stayed over on the weekends when they were in high school. And if they weren’t coming home, it was because they were staying at Reika’s family home instead.”

“Yes, but did you know they were romantically involved?” Linna persisted, genuinely curious to know what his answer was going to be. “I mean, did Sylia ever actually tell you they were a couple?”

“No, in fact, I never actually did,” Sylia admitted. “So, Mackey, did you know?”

Feeling emboldened by the seemingly supportive curiosity, he answered carefully, “Well, yeah, I accidentally overheard you two once. And I swear it was only for a bit, and I never heard you again.” He stopped short and returned to his meal, his face completely red now.

Sylia looked puzzled as she tried to remember any distinctive and potentially embarrassing conversation.

“You mean, you over heard them talking?” Nene asked, her own curiosity on overdrive.

“Um, no, they were, um -“


“Yes, Sylia!” he immediately responded, more fearful of his sister now than during her days of Galatea-induced temper tantrums.

Sylia had her head bowed and her fingertips pressed at the bridge of her nose as if trying to respond to a headache. “It’s enough to state that you knew!” she said with clearly forced patience. “The actual details of how aren’t important!”

Priss had a wide grin on her face, Linna unsuccessfully stifled a giggle, and Nene was just plain confused.

“Bu-But Reika actually told me once!” he declared immediately, feeling the need to defend himself somehow.

Now Sylia was genuinely stunned as she looked up. “She did? When?”

He immediately rambled, “It was that day I tried to get you to go to see a doctor because of that bruise on your neck and you wouldn’t but she later told me not to worry because -“

“Dessert, anyone?” Henderson blurted, suddenly appearing with a tray of custard bowls. He had overheard enough to realize his reappearance from the kitchen was well-timed.

“Yes, please, Henderson,” Sylia said gratefully. “And thank you!”

“This looks delicious, Henderson!” Linna declared. “Let’s see if we can eat this quietly and not leave any marks!”

Priss openly laughed at that point. Nene was just too happy to dig in to the dessert to care about the conversation at this point, which was already too confusing.

Linna grinned triumphantly when she saw Sylia react with a giggle of her own. The two women exchanged a wink to show the score had been settled, for now.

— End Chapter 4 —

* * *

Chapter 5

“How do I look?” Leon said as he appeared in the doorway of the office, sporting his new uniform — that of a combat unit commanding officer. “Pretty snazzy, huh?”

“Leon-poo, you’re back!”

“Welcome back,” Daley said as he looked up from his terminal. He smirked as he looked Leon over from head to toe. “And yes, you look very smashing. A regular gay man’s pin-up.”

“Shut up, Wong!” Leon snarled, but only in time to hear Jeena’s laughter from the hallway, indicating that she had heard the remark as she passed by to go to the break room.

“Well, I think he looks completely cool!” Nene blurted as she jumped up from her own seat to assess him up close. “The women will go crazy for sure!”

Leon smiled as he smoothed out some creases. “At first I wasn’t too keen on the idea of having to wear a uniform on a regular basis again, but I’d forgotten how much it makes me feel like I’m back in the good old days of working the front-line.”

“So it seems like you’ve come to accept your current lot in life,” Daley noted.

Leon shrugged. “I figured after Galatea, nothing can – Hey! What happened to my desk?!”

“Oh that?” Daley said, with deceptive casualness. “Behind you. In the CU Command Staff Office.”

“NO WAY!” he blurted in horror as he whipped around to look.

Sure enough, there was his desk and chair and all of his person knickknacks in an office that had the aura of being divided in half.

“No one said anything about me having to share an office with that woman!” he blurted angrily as he slammed his fist against the doorframe.

“That’s ‘Sergeant Malso’ to you, McNichol” Jeena commented as she breezed by him to go to her own desk. “Or, ‘ma’am’ works fine if that’s too much of a mouthful for you.”

“Did you ask for this?!” Leon demanded as he pointed at his new home.

She looked at his side of the office and then back to him. She then frowned, took a sip of tea, and said, “I suppose one could say that I did.”


* * * * *

“– McNichol, you changed six of my proposed team rosters,” Jeena noted as she read the datapad in question.

Leon paused in his reading of CU personnel files at his terminal and said, “Yeah, I did. The teams you proposed won’t work as well as what I’ve got there.”

“Explain to me why that is.”

He frowned at her and didn’t budge.

Sensing the pause, Jeena looked up at him and said, “McNichol, I made a reasonable request, even if I was not your commanding officer and just your peer. You need to give me a reason to support your proposal. I don’t have the liberty of long-term work experience with you or these people to grant you immediate trust in your judgment, especially if it’s negating my own decisions. You have to prove to me that your rationale has merit.”

Apparently not completely convinced, he asked, “Is that even possible?”

“Try me,” she said as she folded her arms and leaned back in her chair.

Leon was quiet for a moment and then said, “For example, I moved Aro to Team 11 from Team 8 because Aro is good but he’s very headstrong and has a history of arguing with commanding officers. Kobayashi is Team 11’s Leader; he’s cool-headed and knows how to keep someone like Aro under control yet still bring out the best in him. Team 8’s leader, Narumi doesn’t work well with strong personalities and would just perpetuate Aro’s work history. — Is that good enough for you?”

“Explain why you think Ohnuki has a better chance of being developed into a team leader than Tomono….”

By the end of explaining every single change he proposed, Leon’s face was completely red, compounded by the fact that he did the last explanation through gritted teeth. “ … And, Ma’am, that’s why I thought Takahashi and Sakamoto would make better use of their skills in the strike team.”

Once he was done, Jeena continued to stare at him. Then she looked at the pad and said, “Thank you for that presentation, Officer McNichol, I’ll consider your recommendations and tell you which ones I approve.”

Furious, Leon opened his mouth to snarl something but stopped under her calm, waiting stare.

“Fine!” he blurted before he went back to his reading, with a noticeable increase in tension.

Jeena then tapped on the data-pad to approve all of Leon’s recommendations, and went on with her work as a smirk curved the corner of her mouth.

* * * * *

“Here you go, Nene” Jeena said as she handed the younger woman a bag of chocolate. “I broke into your stash while you were gone.”

Nene opened her desk drawer and revealed that she still had enough snack items to survive for a week. “I hadn’t noticed, but thanks! Hey, you’re here pretty late.”

“So are you,” Jeena noted as she picked up the new framed photo of Nene and her immediate family from the wedding. “It looks like you had a lot of fun. By the way, you really need to get an updated picture of Mackey. Otherwise people will think you really like him young.”

Nene forced a smile and said, “Yeah, you’re right about that. By the way, I noticed you don’t have any pictures of your husband on your desk. You have to be fair if you’re going to criticize the one of my boyfriend.”

Jeena actually blushed as she looked at the wedding ring she wore. “Speaking of being out of date,” she murmured as she then proceeded to wiggle it off.

Nene’s jaw was practically on the ground. “So you’re getting divorced after all?!”

“Billy and I had a long talk this weekend and decided it wasn’t working out,” she admitted with a sad shrug. “It’s really been over for a while but we’re still such good friends that things were a little blurred.”

“Is he going to keep custody of B.J.?” Nene asked, referring to their son.

“Don’t know yet,” Jeena said. “That’s the reason why I left B.J. with him — we didn’t want to pull him away from his school-life and neighborhood friends when other things were shaky for him. I was planning to go back to Osaka anyway when this assignment ended because I wanted to be around BJ while he was growing up, to give him as much of a real home as possible with parents who are trying to raise him together despite being apart.”

Nene looked at her curiously and then asked, “So does this mean you’re going to start dating now?”

Jeena laughed and said, “I don’t think so! The only male companionship I crave these days still believes in Santa Claus. Otherwise, I’m surrounded by police officers, and I did that gig once already.”

“But what if there was still someone worthwhile who was a cop?” Nene persisted. “Would you still consider him?”

“It’d have to be someone pretty incredible.” The woman then paused and looked at her suspiciously. “Is there someone you have in mind?”

“Well, there’s Leon.”

Nene barely had his name out of her mouth when Jeena suddenly tilted back in laughter.

“Well, okay, maybe not,” Nene added once she observed this reaction.

“So-Sorry about that,” Jeena said between chuckles as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “But McNichol is the type of guy you watch your friends date. And I’ve done that gig too. Besides, dating him would mean I’d have to start taking him seriously, and I’m not about to do that. He’s free entertainment for me.”

“Look, you haven’t dealt with him in quite a few years. Maybe he’s changed for the better,” the younger woman said. “If you give him a chance, he might surprise you.”

Even though there was still the hint of a smile on her lips, Jeena studied her face for a moment. “I’ll admit one thing about McNichol that I’ve noticed then and now: a lot of people care about him. And it takes a certain something to accomplish that. But that certain something may not be what I’m personally attracted to. And from what I’ve noticed, I’m not his type of woman either. So right now, I’m focusing on learning how to be single again after eight years. Have a good night.”

She gave Nene a final parting wink before leaving the office.

Nene sat at her desk and stared at the office door across the hallway. She had the intense frown of someone mulling over a complex problem in her mind.

— End Chapter 5 —

* * *

Chapter 6

Bathed in the glow of the setting sun, Priss sat on the couch and cradled her guitar in her arms. Once again, the writing pad in front of her remained blank.

Instead of the constant, nagging emptiness that had thwarted her previous writing attempts, she felt her mind being distracted by the other presence in the apartment. She hadn’t yet figured out whether this change in atmosphere was something that could turn into a good thing or a bad thing.

Just then, the bedroom door swung open and Linna appeared, dressed in her sweats and supported by her cane.

The two women stared at each other, neither showing any particular expression.

Linna dropped her gaze first and proceeded to walk towards the kitchen with awkward strides.

Priss didn’t move as she listened to the sounds of Linna walking across the kitchen’s tiled floor and opening the refrigerator. There was the sound of rummaging and then the refrigerator was closed again. More sounds of movement, this time to the doorway of the kitchen.

“Are you interested in ordering some pizza and beer for dinner? My treat,” Linna said as she leaned against the doorframe.

Priss arched her eyebrow but didn’t move. “Are you finally off your medication?”

Linna nodded, blushing a bit at the unexpected practical question.

“We’ll split the tab. Just tell me what you want on the pizza,” Priss said as she stood.

“No, I want to pay for it,” Linna insisted as she reached for her purse. “We should have a welcome party as roomies since we didn’t do it the first night, and we were at Sylia’s last night. Plus, I want to apologize for taking my bad mood out on you when you’re not the source of the problem. I guess that’s the bad thing about you living here too.”

Priss stared at her and then broke into a smile. “Okay, you win.”

* * * * *

“Now this is a luxury the rich don’t truly understand!” Linna declared merrily after washing down a bite of pizza with a long drought of beer.

“So is this your way of proving you’re still a commoner at heart?” Priss remarked as they sat on the floor around the low table.

“You know, that was one thing about being with Reika that never ceased to amaze me,” Linna said seriously, the flush of alcohol showing on her cheeks. “I obviously don’t know exactly how wealthy her family is, but I never felt like that was a factor whenever it was just me and her. She was just so down to earth and real.” She then trailed off into a sad sigh before returning to her dinner.

Priss took a bite of her own pizza and watched Linna out of the corner of her eye. “So, is it a wild guess that she’s part of the reason for your ‘bad mood’?”

Linna took another swig of beer and nodded glumly. “I admit I didn’t tell her that I had moved out. I just… she could’ve… I didn’t want to leave but I knew I had to or I’d never go. And I guess I was scared of what I would say to her after everything that’s happened between us. But I was hoping that she would have called me once she found out. I just knew someone would have called and told her I had moved out. And she was supposed to come back yesterday, which means she would’ve known for sure. But she still didn’t call…”

“But you never called her either?”

Linna shook her head. “I guess I deserved this. She probably thought I blew her off first, which I guess I did. I’m sure once I start working again next week, I’ll be too busy to sit around and feel sorry for myself.”

Not able to think of anything to say that didn’t sound lame, Priss remained quiet as she continued to eat.

Linna peered at her and said, “So I did my big confession, now let’s hear yours.”

Priss looked at her blankly as she bit into a pizza slice.

“Look, I was in that room studying for two hours,” Linna said, pointing to the bedroom. “Not once did I hear a note from your guitar, nor did I hear you sing. Plus, your pad of paper is blank. You can’t tell me that you write your songs completely in your head. So what’s going on? Are you not able to write with me here?”

Pegged with that assessment, Priss relented with a sigh and said, “It has nothing to do with you, I don’t think. I’ve been having writer’s block for a while.”

“Since any particular moment?” Linna asked, even though she had a good idea of when.

“Since… Sylvie.” Priss was surprised by the tightness in her chest that the name caused. She thought she had gotten over that. “I mean, it’s not just her. But everything that happened at that time just blurred together, and I’ve been having a hard time focusing since then.”

“Well, you went through a lot at that time. You also had an intense relationship for three years, combined with a drastically different lifestyle. Everything crashed in the span of a month. Heck, I’d be completely confused too if I went through as much as you did.”

“I’m not confused,” Priss corrected, “just not… inspired… Forget it. It’s a musician’s thing, I guess.”

Linna frowned and tried a different angle. “So now that your Hot Legs dates are up, when are you guys playing next?”

“Not for a while,” she answered. “We decided Saturday to take a break for a couple of months. Let everyone resettle and lay low for a bit. The wandering minstrel’s life took a toll on the guys, too, as well as being around each other constantly. We decided reestablishing personal space was a good thing to do before playing together again.”

“So what you will be doing all day long?”

Priss grinned and said, “Riding my bike.”

* * * * *

Priss sat up on the couch, having woken up due to the call of nature. She let out a yawn as she stumbled through the darkness of the living room.

After her bathroom trip, she wearily returned to the couch but was distracted by the light underneath the door to Linna’s room.

Curious and concerned since it was three o’clock in the morning, she walked over and pressed her ear against the door. She didn’t hear anything on the other side.

She tapped gently on the door and called out softly, “Linna? You awake?”

No answer.

She carefully opened the door to find Linna blissfully sprawled out on top of her bed, still fully clothed and surrounded by her computer reference books and datapads. A soft snore now rumbled out of her. Apparently this was Linna’s minimally successful attempt at turning in.

Priss let out a soft chuckle as she walked in and piled the study aids on the nightstand. Once the bed was cleared of foreign objects, she then maneuvered the other woman beneath the covers, making certain Linna was well tucked-in.

Deciding that her task was done, Priss turned to leave but stopped at the sight of her sleeping friend. She reached down and cleared the stray strands from Linna’s forehead, pausing once to press her fingertips against the soft cheek.

Priss then frowned to herself as old thoughts started to surface, thoughts which now seemed to have a different meaning.

Without another pause, the woman then left the room, turning off the light and closing the door behind her.

— End Chapter 6 —

* * *

Chapter 7

“So, why exactly do you think they’d make a good couple?” Mackey asked carefully, trying to understand his girlfriend’s rationale as they sat in front of her home computer, enjoying an evening of web surfing and hacking.

“They’re perfect for each other and just don’t know it,” Nene insisted as she continued to type into the keyboard. “And they’re never going to know unless someone steps in and shows them that.”

“But, aren’t they both just getting out of heavy relationships? I’ve heard people need time to get over such things.”

“Yeah, but people get over people pretty fast when they know there’s someone waiting for them,” she answered casually.

“Have you even asked Leon what he thinks of her?”

“Of course not!” She scowled and remarked, “Leonardo turns into such a big baby whenever her name comes up. And he’s even worse when she’s actually around. That just screams out that he’s attracted to her but doesn’t want to admit it!”

“Well, maybe there’s a good reason why he doesn’t want to admit it,” Mackey said, still trying to feel out this situation as he watched the data fly across the screen.

Nene finally glared at him and said, “Are you trying to tell me you’re not a romantic?!”

He shook his head adamantly as he tried to wave away her accusation. “No, not at all! I — I just meant — !”

Suddenly the beep of an incoming call interrupted the potential confrontation.

“You’re lucky for now, Mister!” Nene muttered as she turned her attention to answer her vidphone.

“Hey, it’s your mom!” Mackey declared merrily, having read the flashing announcement on the screen.

Nene froze, her finger just a breath away from hitting the “Enter” key to allow the call to patch through.

Noticing her brief pause, Mackey frowned and asked, “Aren’t you going to answer it?”

Realizing that she had no choice, not even the option of pretending to be too slow to let it go to her auto-answer mode, she took in a deep breath and braced herself for what she had to do next. She shoved Mackey and his chair into position so he would be next to the terminal and out of sight of her mother’s view screen.

She pointed her finger to him sternly and said, “No matter what you hear, do not make a sound!”

“Oh — Okay,” he answered, confused and terrified by her sudden change in tone.

Nene forced a cheerful expression and hit the receive button.

“Ne-chan!” her mom greeted merrily, “So you’re home after all! I didn’t call too late, did I?”

“No, Mom! Not at all! What’s up?” her daughter answered brightly, giving her mother most innocent and pleasant expression.

“Well, I meant to call you earlier about this but the day has just been crazy and all, but I have some big news. I’m going to be doing a two-week long speaking engagement at Tokyo University at the end of the November! So this means we can spend more time together. And with Mackey, too!”

Nene felt her entire face start to fall, only saved by the sudden expression on her boyfriend’s face that showed his enthusiasm about the news. With a reflex speed to rival that of her hardsuit, Nene shoved her hand out and covered his mouth to keep him from blabbing anything.

“Th-That sounds great, Mom!” Nene practically screamed with forced enthusiasm.

“I thought you’d be pleased!” Nana responded. A curious expression passed across her face as she noted her daughter’s suddenly strange posture – an arm reaching out, body hunched unusually close to the screen. She then blinked it away as she continued with the conversation. “I’ll send you an email with all of my travel info so you can mark your calendar to be available. By the way, the University is putting me up in a hotel, but I’d rather be somewhere near you if at all possible, especially for such an extended visit. I know your apartment usually looks like a computer graveyard, but perhaps I could stay at Mackey’s or his sister’s? You mentioned that she has a really big place and could handle visitors.”

“I’ll see what I can do Mom. Mackey may have to be out of town for a conference,” Nene pushed harder on Mackey’s mouth as she saw and felt him start to respond to her comment about his pending absence. “But his sister may be an option. I’ll ask her tomorrow.”

Her mother frowned and said, “That’s too bad if I miss Mackey again. But I suppose such things can’t be helped. — Well, I know it’s a work night and you should have been in bed two hours ago, young lady!”

“Yes, yes, I know!” Nene responded, trying not to sound overly anxious at the pending closure of the call. “Night, Mom! Love you!”

“Love you, too, Sweetheart! Bye!” Nana said before she hung up.

Once the channel was closed, Nene wearily collapsed with her forehead against the computer screen and let out a sigh.

Mackey gently removed her hand and said, “Nene, is there something we should talk about?”

* * * * *

“ — I’m so sorry that I wasn’t more upfront about this,” Nene blurted as she rubbed her face wearily. “I just didn’t know how to approach it.”

Mackey shook his head and chuckled. “Well, that made two of us.”

Nene looked at him in surprise. “You mean to tell me you knew?!” She was too stunned and relieved to be angry.

“Well, yeah,” he said. “I’ve had to deal with this aging issue before when I was growing up with Sylia. And when you and I got involved, I admit I had some discussions about my non-aging with Sylia and Nigel but we agreed the person who would determine if and when anything needed to be done would be you.”

“Me?” Nene said, surprised at the revelation that such an important decision had already been identified as being hers.

Mackey blushed and rubbed his neck anxiously as he confessed, “If you decided we weren’t meant to be a long-term couple, well, it didn’t make sense to go through such effort to change me. I was always afraid to bring it up in case your answer was that we had no real future. And, um, when you when you didn’t invite me to your sister’s wedding, I admit I was pretty scared.”

“Oh God, Mackey!” she cried as she threw herself around him for a tight hug. “You have no idea how many times I’ve pictured the future with you, even with me as sixty years old and you as fifteen! I can work with whatever happens! I just never thought there were any real options other than that! If anything, I was trying to figure out how to tell my family I’m in love with boomer!”

Pleased that his worst fears were not going to come true, Mackey grinned and hugged her back. “You really mean that? Even if it turns out there really is nothing Sylia and Nigel can do to me so no one really has to find out?”

She nodded adamantly, her eyes misting with tears. She sat back and looked at him in the eye and said, “I swear it! I love you, Mackey Stingray!”

His smile widened even more, enhancing his boyish cuteness. “And I love you, too, Nene Romanova! — But your mom’s right in that this is a work night. I should leave so you can turn in. Come over to Sylia’s after work tomorrow and we’ll have a talk with her and Nigel about what we can do.”

Nene didn’t answer other than to give him another hug, feeling the closest she had ever felt to anyone, human or otherwise.

— End Chapter 7 —