Disclaimer:"Haibane Renmei" and its associated characters & places used within this story are based upon Yoshitoshi ABe's original concept: "Charcoal Feathers in Old Home". They remain the undisputed property of the owners that hold copyright. I am writing this story for free enjoyment and not for profit, but even so I maintain creative ownership of my own story concepts. None of this story is to be copied or reproduced etc. without my knowledge or permission.

This fanfiction is a story concept that I'd had in my head for quite awhile now. There's quite a lot of it that I'm still tweaking here and there for continuity issues before the story can be completely finished, but I'll post it in segments as I finish editing them. Read on... and feel free to leave a review if you are so inclined.

In some parts of the story, I have tried to use italics to help indicate whenever any characters are supposed to be conversing in Japanese. After all, this is supposed to be a story not a language lesson, so I hope that you aren't disappointed if I stick with English for the most part. ;-)

Kazakiribane 風切り羽 – Chapter Eight: Two Lives Merged

By Shizukana Sakka

Rakka smiled contentedly as she and Mori headed to their respective jobs at the Haibane Renmei Temple. In the beginning, she'd been a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by the atmosphere of the Temple, but gradually she was able to overcome it and became more comfortable with her job. The only continual downside to it was that it was such a long distance to travel on foot from Old Home to the Temple. Fortunately, over the past few months, even that had ceased to become much of an issue thanks to Mori. She glanced down at the landscape passing beneath her as she and Mori flew their usual morning route to the Temple and couldn't quite suppress a joyful giggle. Despite the numerous times she'd been flying with Mori over the past few months, each time was as thrilling as the last had been.

"Enjoying the ride, Rakka?" Mori asked with a knowing smirk on her face.

"I certainly am," she replied. "I could never get tired of this. Thank you so much for giving me rides to work so often!"

"Don't mention it. I love flying so much... I'm happy to be able to share that feeling with others," Mori answered with a happy smile. "Unfortunately, I won't be available to give you a ride home after work today, though. The Communicator will be sending me on some errands to the town and to Abandoned Factory that will take most of the day."

"That's okay. Of all the Haibane, I probably get to fly with you the most so it won't bother me to walk home for a change."

Down below, they sighted the familiar small river canyon that led to the Temple and began their descent. Mori glided them effortlessly through the air to just outside of the main Temple entrance and then brought them to an easy landing with a few powerful flaps of her wings. Rakka immediately began to unhook herself from the travel harness and handed it back to Mori. Kana and Hikari had come up with the idea a while ago to put less strain on Mori when she took other Haibane for a flight. Though her wings were plenty strong enough to bear the weight of an additional person in flight, it was tiring for Mori to have to hold onto them with her arms for extended periods. To solve this problem, Kana and Hikari had designed a special pair of harnesses that are worn separately but can be quickly fastened securely together in order to support the weight of whomever Mori wanted to carry with her. When not being used, they folded up into a convenient traveling bag that Mori carried with her nearly all the time. Rakka smiled as she remembered how thrilled Mori had been when they'd first given it to her.

After that, Mori had eagerly provided air taxi service to any Haibane that asked her -- including those at Abandoned Factory. In an effort to improve relations between the two Haibane conclaves, Rakka had initially made several visits with Mori but soon afterwards Midori began to reciprocate. Rakka and Midori quickly became good friends, and for a time Midori became a regular visitor to Old Home. Unfortunately, more recently, those visits had stopped and Rakka missed seeing her friend.

"Mori, if you're going to be at Abandoned Factory later, why don't you invite Midori back to Old Home for dinner tonight?" Rakka asked as Mori stowed both flight harnesses into her travel bag. "We haven't seen her for awhile and a break from her duties will be good for her."

Mori nodded her head in agreement.

"That's for sure. Ever since she became the group leader at Abandoned Factory, it seems like she doesn't have much time to visit us anymore."

Midori had become the defacto leader of Abandoned Factory a month earlier after her friend Ryouko had his Day of Flight. Though all Haibane accept that this day will eventually come for each of them, those that remain behind feel the absence of those friends that depart before them. Midori and Ryouko had been very close, so she had been having a difficult time coping with her sense of loss. She immediately threw herself into her new duties at Abandoned Factory and it seemed that she was trying to distract herself from her emotional pain by keeping herself insanely busy. Rakka wasn't fooled by Midori's claims that she had gotten over it and was determined to help her friend.

"Well, be sure to let her know that we aren't taking 'no' for an answer this time" said Rakka. "I'm sure that Abandoned Factory can survive without her for one night. Be sure to bring her back with you, even if you have to tie her up to do it!"

Mori giggled slightly. "I don't know how friendly she'll be towards us for the evening if I did that, but I doubt it'll be necessary. I'm sure I'll be able to persuade her."

With that, Mori gave Rakka a quick hug and then flew up to her entrance through the open ceiling of the Temple, while Rakka approached the main gate where an attendant was waiting to outfit her with communication bells.

As promised, the Communicator had a series of errands for Mori that she would have to start on immediately if she hoped to get everything finished before the end of the day. She was still supposed to avoid flying in or within view of the town unless absolutely necessary, so instead she usually flew to just outside of the small city and landed somewhere unobserved to continue the rest of her journey on foot.

As she proceeded into the town proper, she sighed deeply when the usual staring and whispered comments began to go on around her. Though the residents always seemed to take some interest whenever Haibane entered the town, it was another matter altogether when Mori visited. Her large wings had always attracted a lot of attention, but sometimes the attention wasn't all that friendly. There were a number of particularly superstitious people in Glie that saw the presence of a Kazakiribane as a bad omen. These people were always easy to spot, as they usually either shied away from her or quickly retreated into the nearest building where they'd glare at her from doorways and windows until she'd passed by. Fortunately those kinds of people seemed to be in the minority amongst the population of Glie, but just the same they always made Mori feel nervous about visiting the town – particularly whenever she had to make the trip alone. For such town visits, she typically kept her wings folded in as close to her back as possible and then covered them with a shawl that she wore, but even then they were still difficult to conceal. It annoyed her that she had to go to those sorts of lengths in an attempt to appease those small-minded people, so as a general rule she disliked coming into town at all and only did so when she had to.

Her first task had been to deliver some papers from the Haibane Renmei to the town's main administration building and then later a few more to the headquarters of the Town Watch – which was what essentially passed for law enforcement within Glie. Generally speaking, crime and civil disobedience was relatively rare in their township so the Watch personnel were seldom seen away from their primary task of guarding the Great Wall. Of course, most of the Watch personnel regarded her with a certain amount of unease as they were well aware of what the implications of her large wings meant.

After she'd left the Watch HQ, she had some time to spare until she had to pickup the remaining paperwork from the town's administration. Afterwards, she'd be finished with her tasks in town for the day and would return to the temple, but unfortunately she had to find something to do with herself until then. As she walked through the streets of Glie, she began to gather something of an entourage. Unlike some of the adults, the children of Glie were absolutely thrilled to see the large-winged Haibane – even more so than the Young Feathers back at Old Home. With the exception of certain superstitious individuals, most of the townsfolk practically treated her as a celebrity. While she didn't particularly care for all of the attention, this had become something of an unofficial duty for her. The Haibane Renmei were well aware of some of the negative views that some of the townsfolk had about Mori, so they encouraged her to 'mingle' amongst the townsfolk whenever she visited in an attempt to reinforce the fact that, despite her large wings, she was just as much a Haibane as any of the others. With that in mind, she decided to take a break for awhile and sat down on a bench. Of course, she had to loosen her shawl a little so she could allow her wings to hang comfortably down the back of the bench, but it wasn't as if the shawl was doing all that much to conceal them anyways.

Almost immediately, some of the children had broken away from their parents and ran up to her with excited expressions on their faces.

"You're the Haibane that can fly, right?" Asked one little boy. "Why are you walking, then? Why don't you fly?"

"Yeah! I wanna see you fly!" Another little boy chimed in.

She got that question a lot, particularly from the children and teenagers. Though practically none of the townsfolk had actually seen her fly, pretty much everyone assumed that she could. The topic was something of a taboo – particularly within the town itself – so she typically downplayed her answer or tried to change the topic altogether whenever it came up.

"Everyone else walks in town, so shouldn't I as well?" She answered while gently tousling the boy's hair.

"But… wouldn't flying be a lot more fun?" Asked an older girl who looked to be in her early teens. "If I could fly, I'd do it all the time!"

She sighed inwardly and regretted that she didn't have any of the other Haibane with her who usually helped to deflect such questions away from her. These solo-visits to town could really be a pain in the ass sometimes. For lack of anything to distract the older girl from her line of questioning, she decided to try a more direct approach.

"Flying can be a big responsibility," She answered carefully. "Not only that, but maybe it could even frighten other people if they saw someone flying. You wouldn't want to scare anyone, would you?"

The girl looked a bit puzzled by Mori's reply. While she was thinking about it, another girl quickly spoke up.

"But you DO fly. I saw you once when I was having a picnic with some friends out near those old buildings that many of you Haibane live at. Another time, my cousin saw you flying in the direction of the Haibane temple. Why don't you ever fly around here?"

"Well… "Mori answered carefully, "All Haibane have rules that we live by, and for me, that's only one of them."

As the girl was about to ask another question, she was interrupted by a tall boy who looked like he was in his late teens. He pushed his way past several of the younger children that had gathered around Mori and stopped in front of her. He regarded her briefly with a scowl on his face before directing his attention towards everyone else.

"You should all know better than to hang around this freak," he said, pronouncing the last word as unpleasantly as he could. "It's bad enough that the town elders tolerate its visits here, but that doesn't mean we have to let it near us to infect us with its corruption!"

Mori started to become really nervous. While she'd understood on some level that there were some people in the town whose prejudices ran this deep, she hadn't imagined that she'd ever be directly confronted by one. She slowly began to rise to her feet so she could quietly leave the area, but the bad-mannered youth turned on her and abruptly shoved her back down onto the bench.

"Not so fast, freak. We're not finished with you yet – not by a long shot!"

"Knock it off, Steven!" said the girl he'd interrupted earlier. She gave him a moderate shove of her own and forced him away from the frightened Haibane. "Who's this 'we' you're talking about? You're the only one here that seems to have a problem with the flying Haibane. She doesn't bother us, so why don't YOU get lost?"

There were a lot of murmurs and nods from everyone else, which further backed up the girl's point. All of the rest of the teenagers and younger children clustered together and deliberately positioned themselves between Mori and Steven.

"Why don't you go away, you big bully! Stop being so mean to the nice winged-girl!" said one little girl.

"Yeah," said another teenage girl, "everyone knows that you're only picking on the Haibane to try to impress your dad. Are you hoping to be as big a prick as him someday?"

Steven glared back at her and looked as though he wanted to use his larger physical size to intimidate her but, after a quick glance around, he realized that it wouldn't be a smart move since he was considerably out-numbered at the moment.

"Fine," he snorted angrily. "You don't know what you're messing around with. That thing…" he said, pointing abruptly at Mori, "... puts us all at risk as long as it remains here. It's probably already been beyond the wall and is infested with whatever diseases are found there!"

With that, the surly teen cast a final contemptuous glare at Mori, then turned on his heel and left. Several of the crowd grumbled disapprovingly at him as he departed.

"Don't let him get to you," said the same teen girl who'd just stood up for her. "He and a few others in this town are too superstitious and narrow-minded, but they don't speak for everyone and they know it. Steven was probably just mouthing off to try to score points with his dad. To most of us that live in this town, a flying Haibane is really cool."

Mori took some consolation in the girl's words, but she was still severely rattled by the animosity of that one boy. Even if most of the town didn't think like him, there were still a few who did and, in Mori's opinion, even one was far too many. The rest of the people around her seemed friendly enough, but after that unpleasant encounter she was eager to be back amongst her own kind. She glanced down the street towards the clock tower and noted with some disappointment that it still wasn't quite time for her to finish her errands in town. She gazed up at the skies and sighed wistfully as she longed to just unfold her wings and escape the town as fast as possible.

She decided to pay a visit to the used clothing store that all the Haibane shopped at. The proprietor of that store was always friendly and supportive of the Haibane, but even better was that he typically discouraged other patrons from pestering any of them while they were shopping in his store. Though she didn't really feel any need to buy anything, she figured browsing the store would at least grant her a little peace & quiet before it was time to head back towards the administration building.

Most of the people that had formed her entourage dispersed when she'd entered the store. Some loitered around outside for a few minutes before deciding to leave as well, and though a few had followed her inside, they too finally left her alone. After a while of mild browsing and listening to that strange radio of the shopkeeper's, Mori decided it was finally time to leave. She adjusted her cloak to try covering her wings as much as possible. Though her highly-visible halo would always identify her as a Haibane, she was always hopeful that it wouldn't be immediately obvious to the humans that she was the large-winged Haibane. She was more than ready to finish her business in town for the day, and she didn't want to attract any more hassles than she'd had already. Fortunately, no one else seemed to pay her any more attention than they would any other Haibane during her walk back to the administration building.

After picking up the last the completed documents, Mori chose the shortest distance available to reach the town's outer limits. It didn't matter to her in which direction that was since she was planning to fly again as soon as she got out of sight of the town. Then, after returning to the temple to drop off the papers, she would next visit the Haibane conclave at Abandoned Factory to deliver a few things on behalf of the Haibane Renmei. She had heard that they had discovered a new cocoon over there, so she'd probably be delivering the halo mold to be on hand for when the new Haibane hatched. The idea of the arrival of a new Haibane brought a smile to her face. Though it had been only a year or so since her own arrival, she was still the most recent Haibane to be born in Glie, which technically made her the 'youngest'. Even all of the Young Feathers had been in Glie longer than her. Not that she minded being considered the youngest, but she was happy for her turn to finally be a big sister to someone else.

Mori was so lost in her thoughts about the new Haibane that she'd failed to notice she was being followed at a discreet distance as she made her way to the outskirts of town. After she'd reached what she felt was a suitable distance from the town, she removed her cloak and gladly shook her wings out. Just as she was getting ready to take to the air, her unwanted company chose that moment to show themselves. Mori was caught off guard when a lasso suddenly landed around her shoulders and was quickly pulled tight.

"Not so fast, you flying freak!" said a voice with a familiar menacing tone to it. Mori whipped her head around to face her assailant and noted with dismay that the nasty guy from earlier that day was holding onto the other end of the rope. Not only did he have a really nasty and smug grin on his face, but this time he'd also brought a couple of friends with him that looked just as unfriendly as he did.

"The other folks in town don't understand what you are, but there are a few of us that do," he said as he nodded towards each of his companions. "Freaks like you shouldn't be allowed near decent folk. After we're done with you, maybe next time you'll think twice before trying to come back again!"

With that, he gave the rope a particularly hard yank which pulled Mori off her feet. Before she could rise to her feet again, her three assailants set upon her and began to rain blows down on her. Though the rope encircled her shoulders tightly, only the tops of her wings had been pinned so she was able to use her powerful wing muscles to pry the rope off. Before she could lift it over her head, however, Steve quickly pulled the slack out and the rope tightened around her neck. Mori choked and started to see white spots in the corners of her vision while she desperately tried to work her fingers under the rope to pry it loose.

The sight of the young winged girl on her knees gasping for breath suddenly gave the other two assailants pause for thought. They each developed uneasy expressions on their faces and they stopped landing blows on her. When their friend Steve continued to kick at her, they got in front of him and gently but firmly tried to force him back from the struggling Haibane.

"Steve, man… that's enough," said one.

"Yeah dude," said the other, "She's gotten the message. Lay off already before you kill her."

"So what if I do?!" Steve retorted angrily. "I'll be doing the whole town a favor, so get the hell out of my way!"

While Steve and his two friends were distracted by their argument, it gave Mori the opportunity she needed to loosen the rope that had been strangling her. There wasn't enough slack in it for her to get it over her head, so she knew she'd have to get the other end away from Steve before she could free herself completely. Acting quickly, she unfolded her wings and used them to swat the trio of boys aside. It wasn't enough to hurt any of them, but it surprised them enough to make Steve drop his end of the rope he'd been holding. Before any of them could get back on their feet, she removed the rope and threw it aside. Without so much as a backwards glance, she leaped into the air and flew away as fast as her sore wings could carry her. Though she'd been instructed not to fly in front of humans, she hoped that the Haibane Renmei would understand under the circumstances.

As she flew back to the temple, the damage from the beating began to take its toll and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Mori remain in flight. By the time she'd begun to descend into the familiar small canyon, her wing muscles were cramping up and she was barely able to glide. She sighted the temple ahead and knew that there would be no entering through the open ceiling this time. Landing was going to be extremely difficult without being able to flap her wings properly to slow her descent. She came in fast and low over the heads of some undoubtedly surprised Haibane Renmei members that were tending to the gardens in front of the temple's main entrance. Her nearly immobile wing muscles screamed in pain when she tried to invert herself for her usual feet-first landing, instead causing her to tumble head over heels into a corner of the garden. With a heavy thud, she finally came to a stop within a large cluster of tomato plants.

"I hope the Communicator isn't too angry about the garden being wrecked. The tomatoes were his favorite…" she thought to herself before finally passing out.


Joey hadn't awakened once in the 2 days since his transformation, but Heather was determined to remain by his – or her – bedside until she did. All things considered, though, there weren't any other extraordinary changes in the winged figure other than the rapid healing of her back where her wings had come forth. Her grand wings were revealed to be a beautiful charcoal-grey colour after they'd finally finished cleaning them. They were no longer prone to random spasms and were folded into a relaxed position against the sleeping figure's back. Though she was still having difficulty thinking of her foster son as a female now -- let alone the mythical creature that she evidently was -- there was no denying the modest bust line or the soft, feminine curves of the figure before her. As such, with the men of the household frequently dropping by the room, she felt it was best to have her foster child more properly attired to preserve her modesty. With the Tanaka girl's help, after they'd given her a sponge bath, they had dressed her in one of Heather's old low-back nightgowns and then left her to sleep, though someone – usually Heather – was constantly in the room to watch over her.

It was around early-afternoon of the 3rd day. Heather had dozed off into a light sleep as she kept her usual vigil in the chair next to her foster-child's bed. She found herself suddenly awakened when she thought she'd heard a soft noise in the room with her. Upon opening her eyes, she immediately noticed that the winged figure in the bed was starting to stir. Heather quickly moved to the doorway of the bedroom to call for Hanako and Lisa.

"I think he's… um, she's finally waking up," she called down the hallway. She then resumed her seat and anxiously waited for whatever would happen next.

"Omigod!! She's finally waking up? Wait a sec... I'm going to grab my camera," Lisa said excitedly from the doorway. She then quickly dashed off down the hallway to her room, practically knocking Hanako over as she charged past her.

"I do not think it is good idea to take pictures," Hanako remarked as she entered the room. "If anyone else saw, there could be… problems."

Heather nodded her head in understanding but said nothing. She resolved to confiscate any pictures that Lisa took, but she'd probably keep them for herself instead of destroying them. Since it was likely that Joey would soon be leaving them forever, she knew that she would want to have at least something to remember him/her by.

Lisa returned with her camera, and then the 3 visitors waited for the winged figure to fully awaken.

After a few minutes, Joey's stirring became more frequent. Her eyes had flickered open briefly but quickly shut again in protest against the light streaming in through the window. No one made a sound as they watched the angelic figure slowly pull herself up into a kneeling position and then proceeded to stretch her arms comfortably in the air above her head. Finally, she opened her eyes fully and gazed around the room. She was suddenly startled as her bright green eyes discovered that she wasn't alone in the room and nearly fell back against the headboard of the bed in surprise.

"O... Ohayou!" she said nervously in a soft feminine voice. "Naze sono youni watashi o gyoushishiteiruka?"

Heather and Lisa's jaws dropped open in surprise and slowly turned to look at Hanako.

"She say, 'Good Morning.. Why are you staring at me in that way?'" Hanako translated for them.

"Good afternoon, Joey-san. Don't be alarmed, they are just curious and worried about you," Hanako said back to Joey in Japanese.

"Holy shit!" Lisa said to her mother. "Does this mean he.. uh, I mean she, doesn't know how to speak English anymore?"

Heather could only shrug her shoulders and shake her head. She didn't know what to make of this change in Joey either.

Upon hearing Lisa's words, Joey gave her head a quick shake and frowned slightly as she appeared to concentrate for a moment.

"S..sorry. I didn't realize that I was speaking… Umm… H..Hello Lisa!" Joey said nervously. "Errr.. how are you today?"

"I think we're all more interested in how YOU are feeling there, Joey… or maybe we should be calling you Josephine now." Lisa replied with a bit of a giggle.

Suddenly remembering that she had her camera with her, Lisa took a quick shot of her foster brother/sister's bewildered expression. Remembering Hanako's earlier words, Heather reached over and took the camera from Lisa's hands. Lisa protested, but a stern glare from her mother quickly silenced her. She then turned her gaze back to Joey, who had just noticed not only what she was wearing, but also the different body underneath. She then glanced over her shoulder at the tops of her wings and then reached up and felt her halo suspended above her head.

"So.. it's not a dream this time, is it? It's all real." She muttered softly to herself.

Though she knew that the question wasn't really directed at anyone in particular, Heather answered, "Yes dear, it would appear so."

Heather shifted from her chair to sit on the edge of the bed closer to Joey. "So.. how are you feeling then? Are you in any discomfort? Do you know where you are? Do you know who you are or… what you are?" She asked softly, the last question with a slight tone of uneasiness.

Joey closed her eyes for a long moment. When she opened them again, she replied "Mori desu. Ano, mo Jo-i desu." Hanako opened her mouth to translate again, but before she could speak a word, Joey repeated it in English. "I am Mori, but I am also Joey"

At that, her halo flared brighter and she closed her eyes. She sat completely motionless for nearly an entire minute with her brow furrowed in concentration. When she reopened her eyes, she glanced over at Hanako.

"Hanako-chan," she said, switching back to Japanese. "Your family knows what I am and where I come from. Do you also know how I might get back or even if I can go back?"

Hanako glanced at both Lisa and Heather in turn, and gave them a look that indicated she would explain things to them later.

"Yes, Joey-san. My father belongs to the order sworn to help and protect your kind. He and the special envoys should be back to visit later today and perhaps they'll know the answer."

"Special envoys?"

"Yes. Father sent for them a few days ago after he'd discovered the truth about you. Your race is sacred to the order and being in your presence is an honor that is, by tradition, reserved for only the most spiritually disciplined of the Touga."

At the mention of the Touga, Joey/Mori looked surprised for a moment but then nodded her head in understanding. In Glie, all anyone really knew of the Touga was that they came from somewhere beyond the Great Wall. If the Touga existed here and were able to travel to Glie somehow, then maybe there was a way for her to return.

Her halo glowed brightly as she continued to sift through her memories of her life in Glie. She quickly came to the realization that she'd been gone from Glie for more than 10 years now. If she was to return, would any of the people she knew still be there? Rakka had once told her of a Haibane who'd achieved her Day of Flight after only a couple of years, and of another who'd remained in Glie for nearly 10 years before her Day finally came. What of her own Day of Flight? Was it still awaiting her back in Glie, or would she achieve it here in the outside world? Another thought worried her: Though it had been an accident, she had crossed beyond the Great Wall. Was she still capable of reaching her Day of Flight now, or would she be bound forever to an existence in Glie if she was still able to return… or here in the outside world if she couldn't? The Communicator would probably know the answer, but she had no way of knowing if she'd ever get the chance to ask him.

The use of Japanese followed by the long silence while Mori/Joey considered her thoughts was wearing on Lisa's patience. Her mother also seemed to be lost in her own thoughts while she gazed at the winged girl seated in front of her.

"Ok," Lisa finally said to break the silence. "You've been out of it for several days after those things," she said with a nod towards the girl's back, "exploded out of you. You've also changed into a girl, and you've got a halo. Though I usually get a kick out of testing the limits of my weird-shit-o-meter, I could go with at least trying for something close to normal for awhile. How 'bout we all try going downstairs and put a late lunch together? You haven't eaten in days, Josephine… and I'll bet that even a Caza-kirey… whatever you are, gets hungry."

She frowned a bit at being called 'Josephine' but let it slide for the moment as Lisa's suggestion about lunch had merit. Now that she realized it, she really was quite hungry. Heather stood up and gently held Mori/Joey's hand as she helped her rise to her feet. She swayed for only a moment or two, but quickly gained her balance. With no one behind her, she slightly unfolded her wings and gave them a slight shake before settling them back into their relaxed position again. She really wanted to stretch them out fully, but there wasn't enough space in the room – or possibly anywhere inside the house – to properly do that.

Lisa and Hanako led the way, and Mori/Joey followed them with Heather taking up the rear. Heather sucked in her breath as she watched the angelic figure walking in front of her. Joey had transformed into such an ethereal beauty that it was now practically mesmerizing to look at her. She also seemed to move with a fluid grace and poise that looked as though it was the product of years of finishing school. Dressed in the slightly oversized long nightgown, she practically floated as they made their way down to the kitchen & dining room. This amazing being was definitely all-female, of that there could be no doubt. However, as the girl herself had said earlier, she was also Joey, too. Regardless of the strange new form that he/she was now wearing, Heather could still feel her love for her foster child and it made her heart ache to know that she would soon have to let her go. As sad as the thought was, she vowed she'd treasure her remaining time with Mori/Joey as much as she could.

AN: I apologize for the ridiculously long hiatus I'd taken from working on this story. There is a lot that I'd wanted to accomplish with it, so I'm going to try to dedicate the proper amount of time that this story deserves in order to complete it. A special thank-you to everyone who has waited so patiently for me to finally get writing again!