"There he is," Sei said, sitting in the front seat of Leo's truck, Meg, Jo, and Amy crammed in the back seat. It was late afternoon, and Leo was driving them to the scooter dealership where Sei was supposed to meet Kyo. "Pull up anywhere."
Leo noted the slim figure standing in the lot as he pulled up to the curve. "That's your new cook?"
Sei smiled. "That's him."
"Looks like a nice kid. When do you want us to pick you up?"
"Kyo's already agreed to give me a lift back on his new scooter. You guys have a good time."
"Oh," Leo said, "ok."
Sei unstrapped herself as soon as the truck stopped and almost jumped out. Amy squeezed between the front seats and settled into the passenger seat. Once she had strapped herself in, Leo stepped on the gas and pulled out into traffic.
Leo said, "So are you guys going to tell me who Sei's new boyfriend is?" There was a very slight edge in his voice.
Meg's blood ran cold - she hadn't considered whether Leo would get jealous of any new man in Sei's life. "Boyfriend?"
"Yeah. When we spoke on the phone, I noticed a slight lilt in her voice, and since we're still on the rocks, I'm guessing she has someone else. Who is it?"
Jo favored Meg with her 'This is your stupid idea - you deal with it' look then turned and look out the window. Amy just looked straight ahead and pretended not to notice anything happening within a ten foot radius of her.
Meg ran her fingers through her hair and hoped she didn't look like she had just passed a brick. "Well-" She cleared her throat. "-I don't know that she actually has a boyfriend per se, but there might be someone she could have her eye on, but we'd rather not say. How, uh, how do you feel about that, Leo?"
"Well…I won't lie to you Meg, I do feel a little jealous. But no matter how great the sex is, doesn't change the fact that Sei and I just can't make a relationship work, and that's when you get past the fact that I have a daughter who's almost her age. Or maybe it's because of that. Yeah, I had been hoping to patch things up again, but I'd be kidding myself if I thought it would be for good this time. So … I dunno. I guess I'll want to meet him sooner or later. But if he's a nice guy and treats her right, yeah, it's ok."
"That's a re-" Meg stammered, "-I mean, that's good to know."
"Are you ok, Meg?"
"Uh, I just had too much soda earlier. On a bit of a caffeine and sugar buzz."
"You gotta watch that stuff."
In the passenger seat, Amy rolled her eyes and settled down into the cushion.
Kyo looked over his shoulder at Sei as he watched over the final stages of everything cooking. "When are the others getting back?"
Sei was leaning against the wall of the kitchen area. "Getting back?"
"Oh, I didn't know how long we'd be at the dealership, so I had Leo take them to Odaiba for the evening."
"Leo? Is he your boyfriend?"
"Leo and I are…close. I've known him since I was 12. He built Django. We've been ….off and on for a couple of years now. At the moment … off."
Sei smiled at the combination of interest and disappointment he almost hid…almost. "What about you? Any budding domestic divas swooning over you?"
Kyo blushed. "No, Sei, although it would be nice to be around a normal girl." He winced. "What I mean is-"
"Don't sweat it, Kyo. But in answer to your question, the others probably won't be back for a few hours."
"What…? Oh. Damn. I just assumed I'd be cooking for everybody."
"Well, we can't have all that food go to waste. So why don't you have dinner with me? And put the rest aside for the others after they come back."
"Do you have plans? Do you have to be someplace?"
"No, although my parents were expecting me."
"Well, call them and see what they say."
By the time Kyo had got off the phone with his parents, who had said it was ok if he had dinner with Sei, their food had finished cooking.
Sei got a bottle out of the refrigerator. "White wine?"
When they started eating, Sei said, "So, Kyo, why don't you tell me a little more about yourself? What made you want to become a patissier…?"
Leo and the girls had just finished eating in one of the food courts of one of Odaiba's malls and were dumping their trays in a trash can when Meg's phone chimed. After she'd dumped her tray, she opened it and read the message. It was from Sei: 'I put more money on your debit cards. Have a good time; no need to rush back. ~S.'
Meg frowned and thought, 'How much more?' She thumbed to the app for her and Jo's debit cards and saw the latest transfers. Her eyes bugged out. "Jo-" Meg saw Jo wandering away out of the corner of her eye and instinctively reached out, grabbed Jo's scarf and yanked.
She'd forgot it was around Jo's neck.
Jo hacked and grabbed for the scraf as her feet almost went out from under her.
Meg let go of the scarf and winced. "Sorry."
"Meg-" Jo coughed as she loosened the scarf, "I could have shot you just now, you know that? It's times like this I wonder if I put up with too much because you saved my-"
"Sorry, Jo, but look at this!" She showed Jo her the phone's holoscreen.
Jo whistled. Amy opened her lap top and checked her own card.
Leo looked over Meg's shoulder. "You know what this means?" he said. "It's Leo laser tag time!" He bounded away.
Amy said, "Am I the only one wondering why Sei wants to keep us out later?"
Meg shook her head. "I don't even want to think about it."
When they got back to the trailer, they saw the new scooter parked next to it. Sei was sitting on the steps in an ankle-length orange bathrobe. She'd let her hair down and she was smoking a cigarette.
"Perfect timing," she said as Leo came over with the girls. "Did you have a good time?"
"Yes," Leo said. "And I guess you had a good date?"
"Sei, come on. You had a guy come over here. Don't worry, I'm not going to hunt him down and kill him."
Sei was all business, as if she was commenting on repairs to Django: "That's nice of you, Leo, but I did not entertain a visitor."
"So what's with the cig? You only smoke after-" He broke off.
Meg said, "I see the bike. So Kyo's still here?"
Sei nodded. "He's taking a nap in my room," she said matter-of-factly. "I figured I'd let him get some rest before he went home, although I wouldn't mind if he wanted to stay." She took a drag on the cigarette and blew smoke out her nose. "The Love and Happy school was a good choice, girls, if I do say so myself."
Leo said, "Wait… you mean … you said… Kyo's your new … and you… he…uh…" He smiled and started to back away. "Ok. Fine. I'll, uh, I have to run, but I guess I'll meet him…uh…later…" He spun and almost ran into his truck's hood. It seemed to take a little longer than average to find the driver's door. Then the truck headed away.
Sei turned to the girls. "He made extra food that we put aside in case you wanted to eat after you got back."
Meg smiled. "Thanks, Sei."
Sei scooted to the side and made room for the three girls to get by her and go up to the cab. Once inside, Meg, Jo, and Amy crept back to the living quarters and slid Sei's door open a crack. Kyo's head, arms, and bare chest poked out from under the blankets, his chest rising and falling with his quiet snoring; they could make out some of the marks on his neck.
The girls quietly closed the door and retreated to Jo and Meg's room.
Jo said, "She banged the new chef, and she's happy. Congratulations, Meg. Your plan worked."
Meg scratched her head. "Yeah, not what I had in mind, but you can't argue with results. Takes all kinds I guess."
"Whatever," Amy said. "Meg, you know I love you like a sister, but when we go to juvie hall for aiding and abetting child molestation and statutory rape, we are not going to be cell mates. Jo? We'll work something out."