CHAPTER I

The present


A/N: This story is the SEQUEL to my other story "A NEW BEGINNING"

It can stand on its own, but it would do no harm to read the other so as not to get caught with some details... Other than that, and thanking my reviewers, I'm looking forward for your reviews :)

Enjoy!


Rolling to the left side of her bed, a 25 year-old Mimi Tachikawa peeked her head from under the covers and slowly opened her eyes, letting light envelop her sight. "What time is it?" she asked herself before focusing her stare on the 4 green digits appearing before her. 08.17. Yawning, she stretched both of her arms to the side and upwards. "Today is…what day is today?" Frowning at her lack of memory, she moved her head once again towards the night table and, making a big effort, she read the small bright letters in the alarm clock. MON 09 / 11 "Monday… today classes start at… at 10, right?" Giving another yawn, she sat on the edge of the bed and, lazily pulled her flip flops closer with her feet. Putting them on, she stood up and walked to the large mirror next to her closet. Her hand moved to her eyes and gently rubbed them while the other hand picked a brush

After having brushed and untied the knots in her hair, she pulled it up, twisted it round and held it with a pen.

"Mommy?" A little girl's voice called from behind making Mimi turn around to face her.

"Hey, you're up early today! What happened?" she asked her daughter while opening her arms wide for her to come. The little girl ran with short steps towards Mimi holding a teddy bear in both hands.

"Mommy I don't wanna go to school today" she pouted and frowned at the same time.

Taking her in her arms, she moved to the bed and sat her on her lap. "Ami, sweetie, you know you have to go to school…"

"But I don't want to" she whined "It's boring!"

Resting her hands on her daughter's legs, she sighed and kissed her cheek. "I'm sorry honey, but you have to go…mommy can't do anything 'bout it… I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun playing with your friends…"

"…"

"Why don't you go and get dressed while I make some breakfast?"

"Mommy!"

"Ami, look, if you change that frown into a smile and go to school, I promise that after classes, we'll go to the playing ground in the mall"

"Really?" she asked excited, her eyes shinning as her mouth turned into a big smile. Looking at her bright blue eyes, Mimi smiled and nodded her head. "Mommy you're the best!" she shouted as her arms and legs circled Mimi's neck and waist.

"Oww… you're just too cute Ami" The girl looked up smiling brightly. "Now honey, let's go and get dressed ok?"

"'kay", she shouted energetically and ran back to her room.

Smiling, she stood up and almost tripped over the stuffed bear laying on the floor. Bending over, she picked it up and followed Ami to her room.

Leaning on the door frame, her eyes scanned the pink and purple room. It wasn't as messy as she'd expect it to be; only some crayons and dolls on the floor. Breathing in deeply, she stepped in and headed to the first bed on the right. Under some lemon green covers, a light chestnut brown, almost blond, haired girl slept peacefully with a teddy bear in her arms. "Ei, honey wake up, you have to go to school"

Stretching her whole body, she moved the covers down, revealing a pair of deep blue eyes. Yawning, she looked as her mother bent over and pecked her forehead.

"Mommy, we're on strike… we're not going to school"

"Ah, really?" she asked receiving a nod in response. "Who's on strike?"

"Ai, Mai and me."

Moving the covers aside, she picked her daughter up and walked to the other side of the room, where the third girl was sleeping. Doing a swift motion with her hand, she called Ami, who was half dressed.

"Mai, wake up!" yelled both little girls in unison. Groggily, she sat up and rubbed her light blue eyes with the back of her hand.

"So… Eika just told me that the three of you were on a general strike for not going to school… is that true?" Eika and Marie both nodded her head while Ami clung to her mother's arm. "Ai came this morning telling me she wasn't going to school, but she never told me 'bout the strike…"

"But mamma," whined Marie, "that's the only way for us not to go to school! We'll stay here all day and we'll play, watch tv and… and-"

"Mai, honey, you know I'd love to stay and not go to work, but I have to. We all have responsibilities and yours, is to go to school."

"But-"

"I promised to Ai that, if she went to school, I'll take her to the playing ground in the mall after classes… Now both of you… would you like to go there and… have a big ice cream?"

The two pair of blue eyes before her widened in surprise and nodded in agreement. "Mommy, mommy, take us to the park please, please, please!" cried Eika.

Shaking her head to both sides, Mimi smiled and shrugged her shoulders. "Ok, I will but now, you have to go and get ready for school"

"Yay!" shouted the 3 girls at the same time they threw themselves into their mother's arms.


A/N: Mai is short for Marie who's 7. Ai is short for Ami and Ei is short for Eika. Both of them are 6.
"Ei, honey; hurry up! We're already late!" yelled Mimi from inside the car. Both Marie and Ami were already sitting in the back sit when their mother jumped in. Sighing deeply, she turned on the little flat screen and "Ice age" started playing. Looking through the rear-view mirror, she focused her stare on both girls as they laughed at some stupidity Sid must have said or done.

The bright sun shined over her face as she leaned on the steering wheel. Another day of work was a waiting and there was nothing to do about it.

After she had returned from Japan, seven years ago, she did a one year course on business administration which helped her run her "cake store" as she called it. Technically it was her father's, but she was the one who ran it.

It first opened two years ago and now, her bear cookies had made their way onto the top, being what people most asked for. Her special recipe led the store into complete success, placing it as the number one in town.

People used to go and hang out in the recent opened restaurant area were delicious cakes, cookies, pies… were served in a unique way.

In large display windows, all creations were shown, causing an immediate attraction on the attendants. The flavour wasn't just the magnet … colours, shapes and textures, used on the decoration, also helped… and that, was Mimi's job now that her business was completely settled.

She'd spent her office hours doing sketches of new cakes or cookie ideas that flowed into her mind. First she'd draw them, then, decide on the ingredients and, after finishing it, she'd go onto the "master baker" as she called him, to get his approval. If he agreed, the next creation was taking place; and if not, he'd help her with it.

Following her directions, the employees happily worked. The working staff was made up of five persons in the kitchen; three who did the pastry and 2 others who focused on the decoration and presentation; three waitresses, a cashier and four cleaning ladies. Matter of fact, she was a good manager; always caring and worrying if something happened to her employees.

What they most liked about her was her smile. No matter what happened, she was always wearing a contagious smile which brightened anyone's day up.

A loud slam made her come back from her thoughts, realizing she still had to take the girls to school.

"Mommy, I'm ready!" yelled Eika as she put her seatbelt on. Yawning, Mimi pulled off the driveway onto the busy street. Her life wasn't as exciting as she'd expect it to be. Routine killed her. All of her days, from Monday to Friday, were exactly the same. Wake up, make breakfast, take the girls to school, go to work, have lunch, wait until school finished, pick them up, take them home, prepare supper, bath them and then, go to bed. She couldn't complain much about her work or life, but she wished it had some more excitement.

Since she landed foot on America, things weren't going to be easy. Her dad and Emma, a close high school friend, were the only support she had. The first 5 months were awful because of her pregnancy. All the symptoms she never had back there, showed up in here. Emma would always help her with Marie... her head wasn't enough to handle everything that was going on inside and outside her body.

And from one day to another, she gave birth to two little girls who were the exact replica of their father. Ami was blonde with shimmering blue eyes while Eika's hair was a little darker, being still blonde, with deep blue eyes. Marie… for somebody, who didn't know... she could be a third twin making her a triplet. Her eyes were light blue and her hair was a light chestnut brown.

The three girls were always together playing or doing something. They perfectly knew the meaning of "unity makes strength" and applied it on their mom when wanting something. Mimi, when the cause was fair, would surrender to her daughters just to make them happy. There was nothing in this world that could compare to the sound of their laughs joined together, even if the price was to hear day after day, Manny "the moody mammoth" and Sid, "the lord of the flames"…

Braking as the school came closer; she put the indicator on, jumped out of the car and opened the door for the girls to come out. Taking Ami's hand in hers, the four females rushed to the building before the gate closed.

"Good morning Miss Tachikawa" said the guard standing next to the gate.

"Oh good morning… sorry we're almost late again but…"

"No prob. Your vanilla cookies make my day up."

Mimi smiled at the man and knelt down to kiss her daughter's cheeks. The three little girls waved goodbye before going in and entering their classroom.

"Bye girls!" she yelled from behind the gate.


"So… today is Monday the ninth of November and… oh shit I can't think with it!" she thought as her finger almost dug a hole in the off button of the portable DVD.

"Much better… now, what was I thinking again?" She stretched her hand and turned the radio on, were a soft melody played behind. She listened to it before deciding whether to change it or not.

And whenever you tried to hurt me
I just hurt you even worse
And so much deeper

There were hours that just went on for days
When alone at last we'd count up all the chances
That were lost to us forever…

Hitting her fingers on the steering wheel as the light slowly turned to red, she pressed on the button for the next station.

I took for granted, all the times
That I though would last somehow
I hear the laughter, I taste the tears
But I can't get near you now

Oh, can't you see it baby
You've got me goin' crazy…

Pressing hard on the button, she switched to the next station

I wake up lonely, is there a silence
In the bedroom and all around

Touch me now, I close my eyes
And dream away...

It must have been love, but it's over now
It must have been good, but I lost it somehow…

Sighing, she turned the radio off and focused on her thoughts. When hearing this kind of songs, she couldn't help but feel sad. They always reminded her of him… and the way everything ended that morning, seven years ago.

She had moved on with her life and never heard anything of him again. She didn't even know if he was alive or dead…

Some six or seven months after she left Japan, Sora found out about her dad's company number and called there, hoping she could get hold of her by him. And she did… that was the first time in months since they talked to each other.

The reason for the call was Sora's wedding. They were getting married in a lapse of two months, giving Mimi enough time to settle everything for her return. But she didn't… she never went back… even though it was her best friends' wedding, she didn't go back… she still hadn't regained all the necessary strength to face him again after everything that had happened.

Protecting herself under the excuse of a fake case of influenza affecting her father, she apologized for not being able to make it. Everybody was waiting for her, with open arms, but she didn't appear. She never appeared…

Approximately one and a ½ year later after Sora's and Tai's wedding, Tk and Kari called, inviting her for their high school graduation. She'd promised she'd be there… but she broke it. This time it was the girls' turn to become her excuse… Saying they had been spread with chicken pox, she apologized once again for not going…

Breathing deeply, she stopped the car in the store's parking lot. Jumping out, she got hold of a folder and walked into the main entrance.

Passing through a line of costumers, she smiled at them and walked in to her office, where she opened the dark curtains, letting light and heat fill the room. Sitting on her chair, she left the folder on the right side of the desk and took both hands to her forehead.

"His birthday is the day after tomorrow... and I still haven't thought of a present…" she thought as she tapped the back of the pen on the desk.

Seven long years had passed since she last saw him on the airport. After that, neither of them had tried to get in touch with the other. She thought he had moved on with his life, got married, had his own kids… and forgot about everything they ever shared one day. But now, she needed to tell him, that all her frozen feelings were still bound to him. She wasn't expecting him to come running, because she knew he wouldn't, but maybe, his birthday was the perfect occasion to try and start fixing all the mess she left behind.

Her mouth turned to a smile at the thought of being able to show her daughters, who their father was… and definitely finish with the little white lie hidden in between…

When the girls were around four, they started asking about their dad… and seeing that they couldn't understand about his absence, Mimi invented something that, thankfully, they still believed in.

She told them that when the twins were born, he'd decided to go to the North Pole…walking…to visit Santa so as to get them their first Christmas present… but when he arrived there, there was a sign saying. "Santa's out on holiday" so the girls imagined that Santa was probably in Hawaii enjoying the sandy beaches and the floral necklaces… and that's why their father was taking so long… he was going around the globe chasing for Santa…

The story and thought of Matt chasing Santa was funny… but slightly cruel at the same time. The girls waited every Christmas for the return of their dad, but he never showed up...

This made her sad and miserable... because of her, the little girls never spent a hundred per cent happy Christmas…

But everything was going to change. She was going to put all of her enthusiasm in getting him back before next year's Christmas since this year's Christmas was too close.

Grabbing a piece of paper from the wad, she wrote some things down and hurried out of the room. Her mind had already thought of the perfect present for Matt; but she had to hurry to get it ready on time.


Waving her hand in the air, she called on one of the girls in charge of serving cakes.

" Lynn, come here please" she called, making all the customers turn their attention on her. "I need you to go and buy these things for me"

"Miss Mimi, I'd happily go, but as you see, we're full and Sue can't handle everything on her own…" Looking around, she saw that the line of customers had doubled it size.

"Ok, don't worry 'bout Sue, I'll take care of it"

"'Kay" she answered and received the money from Mimi before running out of the store.

Mimi turned around and entered a little room just behind the display windows were she washed her hands and put on a light pink serving apron.

Coming out of it, she stood next to Sue and picked up her utensils. "Who's next?" she asked. A little kid lifted his hand up.

"Hello honey, in what might I help you?"

"Uh…oh… I want one of that one" he said pointing at a chocolate piece of cake.

"Kay!" she answered cheerfully while placing it inside a cardboard box. "Here it is. Now, go to the lady over there and she'll get your money."

"Thank you Miss!"

"Oh wait!" she called, giving him 5 bear cookies. "These are for you"

The boy smiled and slowly walked to her. Mimi bent over and the boy pecked her cheek.

"Oww… you're too cute… you'll have to come and visit me some day soon ok?" The boy nodded and ran to pay for his piece of cake.

Mimi spent another hour attending customers until Lynn returned with a bag in her hands. "Miss Mimi, I got everything you asked for."

Mimi took the bag and hurried into her office, where she let herself go off the apron. "Now… let us see." Turning the bag over, she found exactly what she needed for Matt's present. "Trust me… you'll never get over this surprise…" Smiling to herself, she picked up the phone and called her dad.

"Dad?"

"Oh, princess, how are you? How are the little angels doing?"

"They're in school dad. You won't believe me, but this morning, there was a general strike for not going to school…" Mr Tachikawa started laughing out loud, not making Mimi very happy. "Dad! This is serious!"

"Oh sorry, but it was funny… I like the imagination kids have these days…"

"Dad… how you love your grand daughters' imagination so much, today, after school, you'll take them to the playing ground in the mall, buy them an ice cream, and then, you'll bring them here, ok?"

"Mimi, I have work to do!"

"Me too and I'm very short of time so you'll do that for your beautiful daughter and for your wonderful grand daughters…"

"Mimi I-"

"Thanks dad, I knew I could count on you! Remember, be there on time! Bye!"

Placing the phone back, she sat on her chair and opened the laptop. "Let us see… I have to find his address… his working address…"


5 hours later….


"Mommy!" yelled the three girls as they rushed into her arms.

"Why didn't you come with us?" asked Ami

"I'm sorry honey, but mommy remembered that a… a… an important person had a birthday, so she had to stay and do a present for him… her... for her."

"But why didn't you buy it in the mall?" asked Eika

"Because… this is a special present"

"And why is it so special?" asked Marie

"Because… because… because you are gonna help me with it" she answered laughing nervously.

"Us?" the three asked surprised

"Yes... You see this paper here?" she asked lifting a rectangular piece of cardboard in the air, "well… I want you to draw, in one of these three squares, what you like doing most. For example: … Ami likes to sing, so she is going to draw herself singing. Understood?"

"Mommy, this is too boring!" complained Marie followed by Eika.

Breathing deeply, Mimi tried her best so as not to loose her temper. Marie was a mini copy of her mother's and her personality. She always whined and complained mostly about everything. And oh yes, she could be as over dramatic as Mimi.

"I'm sorry Marie, but I'm tired and all I am asking you is to draw something nice. Is that too hard? …Now, let's get to work..."


2 days later…


A red and white dressed postman, climbed on the elevator of a fully glass covered building. He was heading to the thirtieth floor where two office doors could be found. Turning around on the one with the 30-A number on it, he pressed on the bell and waited until a middle aged woman opened the door.

"Mr Ishida Yamato?"

"Yes"

"I've got a parcel for him. Could you sign here?" The woman took the pen from the man's hand and signed the paper he gave her. "Here" he said as he handed her the parcel.

"Have a good day" she replied, closing the door behind. Turning it round, she looked at the flat and weightless parcel with a big red "Fragile" on it. It didn't have sender name, but there was a print on the left corner saying "Mae's". Shrugging her shoulders, she knocked on a large wooden door and entered before receiving a reply in return.

"Mr Ishida?" she asked the blond sitting across the room on a desk.

"Yes Yumi?"

"This parcel was just delivered for you"

"Oh, bring it here please."

The woman walked across to his desk and handed it before exiting the room. Looking curiously at it, Matt read both sides of the parcel, finding his name nicely written with big black letters. What called his attention was the printing on the back side of the envelope. He had never heard of any "Mae's" company before. Picking a cutter from his drawer, he made a little cut on the edge, from where glitter escaped, landing on his hand. Frowning at all the glitter that fell, he turned the parcel over and tore the edge. With great care, he took the paper that came inside and placed it before him. His face went ghostly pale when seeing all the different colours… the glitter… the drawings… and the large bright letters saying "Happy Birthday!"

In front of him were three different drawings made by kids… and beneath them, was a photo… a photo of three girls between five and six sitting on Santa's lap. With shaking hands, he picked up a little pink paper that fell along with the… portrait… and read it.

They're your daughters…

From left to right... Eika, Ami and Marie…

Asking Santa for a dad…


Uff!

What will happen with him?!?

Review so I can get next chapter up sooner :)