Later that afternoon Kiko had shown up to Odessa’s house to work on some chemistry homework together. Whilst there Odessa filled her in on what took place after she left for her Student Council meeting. “Hmm, Tamz’ timing was a bit coincidental, huh? I hope Gisella hasn’t sucked her into some twisted conspiracy,” Kiko said suspiciously. Odessa waved off the notion. “You know, I can’t help but think that ‘BikerBoy’ should be here --not me-- doing some chemistry with you,” Kiko smiled with implication.

“Hehe, yea right!! Aside from the voluntary manslaughter my pops would commit on Tim, Mom would have to be the one to sentence him!” Odessa quipped.

After the girls finished their homework Odessa’s mother asked Kiko if she’d like to stay for dinner, which she gladly accepted. During dinner, Odessa noticed that Kiko seemed a bit quieter than usual. She’d engaged in conversation with Odessa’s parents, but still she was a bit off. After dinner Kiko stayed a while longer, and whilst in they were in her bedroom, Odessa asked Kiko if something was bothering her.

“Was I that obvious? Gee… I must be slipping or something.”

“I know you well enough to know if something is bothering you, Keeks… So what is it?”

Kiko was hesitant. “So I never got to tell you this but yesterday afternoon Mom and I went for a little early-evening stroll in Angel Square, and we saw District Attorney Hughes there... Can you believe that douche-bag was straight-up flirting with her, and she was flirting right back??” Kiko’s anger was starting to kick in. “It was as if I wasn’t even there!! It wouldn’t be the first time either that happened either, because I’ve seen them do it before at The Palace. I mean, seriously, what could she see in somebody named ‘Hugh Hughes?!?’ I don’t know… I thought that the lunch Mom and Dad had a while back was going to work and bring them back together, but it was nothing doing. It’s still just me and Dad, while Mom is still at La Boulet with Aunt Dorian, whom I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s trying to play her part in keeping Mom and Dad apart.” She let out a bitter laugh. “Ah, who am I kidding? It’s always the same ol’ story with those two: Dad is insecure about something or another; Mom is always either trying to make him feel better, or having to explain herself for whatever thing he gets pissed-off with her about; and then they make up. A couple can only take so much fighting and making-up though, and this is the longest my parents have stayed separated. All their constant bickering has been going on now since the summer after grade 8, and I think my parents have finally used up all their cards, once and for all. Hell, I’m surprised they even lasted this fucking long…” She stopped, her hardened face softening. “I know my parents both love me, but… sometimes I can’t help but think that I was just their ‘glue-child’ to save their marriage... and, still, look how things are turning out. I don’t know, Ode… I’m no psychic or anything, but I can feel something bad this time. It’s only a matter of time before they call it quits for good, and I have to be ready for it, but that doesn’t mean I want to…” she was one to keep her feelings hidden, but this time she was choking up.

Odessa immediately went over to comfort her. “First of all Kiko, I don’t want to hear you call yourself a ‘glue-child’ ever again! Your parents always wanted to have a kid and you know that! They could have easily gone for a newborn or any other child, but they obviously saw something special in you -- what, I have no freaking clue -- but it was something!” she joked; Kiko cracked a tiny smile. “Look, I don’t know their history but if your parents were having problems, even before you they brought you into their lives, you shouldn’t blame yourself for that -- no matter what -- if they still can’t fix things between themselves. For what it’s worth, the one thing good that did come from that relationship was you. In the end, they may not be right for each other, but they sure as hell were right for you, and vice-versa. They’ve been great bringing you up, and if you really felt that they were only using you, don’t you think that there would be some kind of tug-of-war game with you all those times they separated? Using you to hurt each other?” Kiko was silent and staring at the floor. “Your Mom and Dad know how much you mean to the both of them, and whenever they aren’t together at least they give you the freedom to be with either of them, at any given time… no matter where one or the other is staying.” Kiko was still silent, but tears were now rolling down her face, and Odessa grabbed a tissue to wipe her best friend’s face. “Keeks, don’t cry, please… You know, this may sound silly but your parents aren’t the only ones lucky to have you in their lives. Yuriko, you are more than a friend to me… you are like blood. I love you so much and will always be there for you, just like your parents do and will. No matter what happens in the end, don’t you ever forget that…”

Kiko finally looked up at Odessa and gave another tiny smile. “Dessi, I don’t know what I’d do without you sometimes…Thank you,” she said quietly but gratefully. She gave Odessa a warm embrace, “I’ve never told you this, but I’ve always thought of you as my sister…I love you too, O.” The two girls released their hold, and both broke into little snickers, Kiko sniffling. Before Kiko left Odessa asked her if she was going to be alright, and Kiko gave her positive assurance, but playfully warned Odessa not to tell anyone about her emotional venting. “I can’t have people thinking I’m soft… People like Gisella would have a field day with that!”

“Don’t worry about it. And Keeks? Remember what I said, alright? I meant it… Say ‘hello’ to your dad for me.”

“I will… and thanks again Ode. And I’ll be sure to keep my fingers crossed for you with ‘BikerBoy’…”