Okay, I have a couple of thanks to hand out here before I begin:

HIMLAI- for being such an awesome person and beta and all those other nice things, and getting to my
story right after Thanksgiving, too! (Right after Thanksgiving, I'm usually vegging on the couch.)
CATHY- for Draco Clone!
FROCKERS- for the captivating storyline bit. I'm not much one for plots, but this was a special
plot bunny - his name is Foo-Foo! And for getting to Precious Moments - how I love you now. 3
ARABELLA THORNE- why, thank you! *feels special... ego hyperinflates* They're actually in June...
that's why. :)
TEARS OF STARDUST- well, I can't tell you THAT, now can I? *is evil and secretive, but decides to
put him in there somewhere...*
JULIE- for Rosemary, as always. ;)

Disclaimer: Meep. See last chapter.

xXxXxXxXx

Marigold dropped her bag on the floor and threw her jacket over the railing, stepping over her cat.
"Hello, Pepper," she cooed, kneeling to scoop up the black-and-white kitten. "How's my favorite
boy?"

Pepper mewled pitifully. "Well, you may only be 9 weeks old, but you sure can tell us when you're
hungry, can't you? Which is pretty much all the time, isn't it." She scratched his ears and set him
down in front of his food and water bowls. "Go on," she told him, nudging him closer to the bowls.
"That's all you're getting today, you know that."

Pepper looked up at her with such a pathetic expression that Marigold couldn't help herself.
"Well... just this once, okay?" she told him, smiling. Pepper squeaked happily as she poured a
little more dry cat food into his bowl. Marigold stood back and watched the kitten dig in. She
had owned several EHKs - Eternally Hungry Kitties - before, but none so voracious as Pepper.

"Mari, feed the cat!" Rosemary yelled from her room. "I just did," Marigold called back. She
scratched Pepper's ears again and stood up, picking up her bag.

She took the stairs two a time to her bedroom. Marigold and Rosemary slept upstairs, and their
parents had a room in the basement. Marigold personally couldn't stand sleeping in the basement -
it was entirely too cold, even though they'd had it renovated three years ago, adding carpet and
sprucing the place up in general.

Marigold knocked on Rosemary's door. "Yeah?" came the reply. Marigold cracked open the door a
little. "You packed?"

"Yep," Rosemary said. "Come in if you want," she added, stuffing a jacket into her backpack.
Marigold came inside and leaned on the wall. "What're you bringing?"

Rosemary glanced up at her and continued throwing things into her bag. "CDs, books, mags... I dunno,
random stuff," she shrugged.

"What CDs?" Marigold asked, surveying her sister's room.

"Uh, Avril Lavigne, Dave Matthews Band, Goo Goo Dolls, and... Jimmy Eat World," Rosemary said,
checking her CDs.

"Okay," said Marigold absently. My sister is insane, she thought amusedly as she looked around the
room. Several Ricky Martin posters graced the walls, and Marigold thought she saw an N-Sync magazine
article tacked onto the bulletin board. She hoped she was wrong.

"You still have these up?" Marigold grinned. She went over to the nearest poster and poked it.
"These are like three years old."

Rosemary bristled. "Hey, at least I don't have Lord of the Rings posters as my wallpaper," she
retorted.

Marigold kept grinning. "At least Lord of the Rings is the coolest movie ever. Not to mention my
hobbit boys."

Rosemary glared. "Shut up, twerp. Go pack," she ordered her younger sister.

"Whatever you say, Miss Martin," Marigold smirked. She dodged the sock Rosemary threw at her and
slipped out laughing.

Completely insane, Marigold thought as she lay back on her bed. She stared up at the various Lord of
the Rings cutouts and magazine pictures, trying to make a mental list of what she'd need. She sighed
and got up, searching for a notebook or a piece of paper. She found an old day planner and a pen
and sat back on her bed. She started scribbling down things as they came to her.

She was deep in concentration when the phone rang. She looked up, startled. "Rosemary?"

"What?" her sister yelled.

"Do you have the phone?"

"One sec!" There was muffled noise in the other room. Marigold got up to listen, pressing her ear
against the wall.

"Hello?" Rosemary said. There was a brief pause, then "Hang on, I'll go get her."

Marigold was in her sister's room before Rosemary even paused to take a breath. "Mari-" she started
to yell, then realized Marigold was standing in front of her. "Uh... okay... phone," she said,
extending the phone to her sister. Marigold gave a mock bow and took the phone. Rosemary held up
another sock, and Marigold hurried out of the room.

"Hello?" she said once outside.

"Hi... Mari?" the voice on the other line asked.

"Yeah," Marigold said, curious.

"Hi, it's Stan," the voice said. Immediately, his voice and her earlier encounter with the boy
clicked. "Hey!" she enthused. "What's up? How'd you get my number?"

"Talked to your friend Rochelle," he told her. "She's going on vacation too, you know?"

"No, actually I didn't," Marigold said slowly. "Where to?"

"New Zealand, same as you," Stan said. Marigold could just see the brown-haired boy grinning on the
other end.

"What??" Marigold exclaimed. "Why didn't she tell me?"

"Dunno," Stan said. "Hey listen, you couldn't do me a favor, could you? Well, two favors, actually,"
he amended. Marigold frowned. "Sure... what is it?" she asked, puzzled.

"Okay, well first of all, tell Rochelle to shut up about Legolas," Stan said. Marigold laughed.
"I try, Stan, I try."

"Well, scratch that then, can I come to New Zealand with you guys?" Stan asked.

WHAT? Marigold opened her mouth and shut it again several times. "What do you mean, 'come to New
Zealand with us'?" she finally asked, incredulous. "Our flight leaves in five hours, and it's not
like plane tickets come real cheap, specially not this late."

Stan paused. "I've got a ticket and everything, I just wanted to know if I could with you. You know,
I'm going anyways, so I might as well go with somebody I know," he said hesitantly.

Marigold blushed, and was rather glad Stan couldn't see her. "Oh, well in that case sure," she
told him quickly. "I mean, if you're already going, then why not," she added.

"Yeah, yeah, that's what I thought," Stan agreed.

"Well. Okay, sure," Marigold said after a second.

"Okay. See you there," Stan said.

"Okay. Bye," Marigold said, and hung up. Okay, that was weird, she thought, and shook her head. Okay,
focus, she told herself firmly. Need to get packed now.

xXx

The airport was surprisingly cool for a June midday. Marigold stood on tiptoe and searched the crowd
for a certain curly head. Rochelle was sprawled on a bench, long legs stretching out from her ragged
cutoffs, long hair tied back.

Rosemary was standing in the Dairy Queen lineup for 'hot eats and cool treats', or so she had said
laughingly as she walked off. She didn't particularly look like she was in a laughing mood now. Marigold
had to grin at her sister, looking rather grouchy, slowly inching her way forwards in the lineup.

"Boo," said a familiar voice behind her.

Marigold didn't turn around. "Whaddyawant?"

"You're no fun," sighed Stan, dropping onto the bench beside Rochelle and kicking his suitcase under it.
He attempted to shove a couple locks of hair out of his eyes, but gave up. "Damn hot out there," he said
to no one in particular.

"Mmhmm," mumbled Rochelle, eyes on the floor.

Marigold glanced over. "What are you doing?"

"Counting tiles," Rochelle muttered.

Marigold shot her a look. Oblivious, Rochelle continued her silent tally. Marigold raised her eyebrows
at her friend. "Okay. You do that."

"I am," Rochelle mumbled again.

"Yes, you are," Stan said.

"Mhmm." Rochelle hadn't once looked up during the exchange.

Marigold shook her head slightly and continued observing Rosemary's progress. This will more than
likely be the most boring flight I've ever been on, she mused. At least there's something fun waiting
at the end of it.

xXxXxXxXx

So it wasn't the greatest of chapters. There'll be more, I promise! I do! I looove you all! (woah...
where'd that come from??)