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KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

"Were you expectin' someone?" he asked in a strained whisper as concern etched itself into his features.

Dominique shook her head as she silently mouthed the word no, wondering who it could be at this hour.  

The rapping came again and this time, it was accompanied by a familiar voice. "Hey, Dom! It's Keno! Open up!"

"Keno..." the name escaped Raphael in a low growl as his features twisted into an ugly scowl.  He has the WORST timing, he grumbled to himself as his fingers slipped away from small, velvet box that he had carefully wrapped earlier in the day. Leaving the gift in his jacket pocket, his fingers curled forming fists.  This was the second time that Keno's bad timing had ruined a moment for him.  And he was going to make sure that there wasn't going to be a next time.  Standing, he left his comfortable seat on the couch next to Dominique, and made his way to the door, with the intent of putting Keno through the wall.  However, as he reached for the doorknob, all forward movement stopped as a strange, second voice came through the door.

"And Miki!"  the cheerful voice squeaked.

Large emerald green eyes sought out Dominique's dark green orbs, "Who's Miki?" Raphael mouthed, looking rather startled.

Dominique nearly tripped over herself as she sprung up from the couch, her own expression, reflecting Raphael's.   "My boss' great niece..." she explained in a mere whisper as she passed him and made her way to the door.  "Coming!" She called out to her unexpected guests.  Lowering her voice, she turned, and started to say, "Can you..."  her words dropped off into nothingness as she found herself speaking to an empty apartment.

Sighing softly, she returned her attention to the door and forced a smile onto her face.  One that almost seemed natural, as putting on a brave face was second nature to her now. Opening the door, she found Keno standing there with his hands tucked into the pockets of his brown leather jacket and a warm smile set upon his face.  Next to him, stood a younger girl, who was barely five foot two inches tall.  Her long ebony locks, which had been styled into two neat ponytails which were partially hidden by a little red beret that matched the red peacoat that covered her tiny form.  Chestnut brown, almond shaped eyes sparkled as a smile filled with warmth appeared on her pale pink painted lips. "DOMI-CHAN!"  She said as she leaped forward out of her little black boots, and attached herself to Dominique, giving her a hug.

"Happy Christmas!"  she beamed up at the older girl as she took a step back to look at her properly.

Surprised as she was, Dominique couldn't help but smile at the younger girl's antics. "Happy Christmas Miki-chan. What...."  What was the only word of her question that she managed to get out before Miki's eyes widened and she let out a small squeak; which was immediately followed by a series of words that were spoken so quickly in Japanese that they didn't quite sound like words at all.
An amused smile played upon Dominique's rose colored lips. She had seen this before. The last time was when Miki had learned that there was going to be a televised special about her favorite anime that she followed religiously.  

Glancing at Keno, who had shut the door behind him, an eyebrow rose in question. "Did you catch any of that?"

"No, and I'm fluent in Japanese.  Maybe I shouldn't have bought her a Bubble drink on our way over here." He chuckled.

Dominique shook her head, then looked at Miki.  "Can you repeat that...slowly this time, please?"
Miki smiled brightly and rambled off her thoughts once more, then offered them both a sheepish smile as she realized that they didn't understand her.  "Sorry...but...it's so PRETTY!"  She exclaimed as she turned and looked at the decorations that hung from the ceiling and the Christmas tree. "Did you do this, Domi-chan?" She asked as she glanced back at Dominique, then quickly moved closer to the tree to get a closer look at the handmade ornaments.

"No, I didn't.   A friend did. It was a surprise.” Dominique explained simply.

“Wow, what a wonderful surprise.”  Her voice was warm and filled with excitement as she reached out to touch one of the ornaments, then suddenly stopped and looked back at Dominique.  “May I touch one?”

Dominique smiled and nodded, then glanced to Keno who stood there with an odd expression set upon his face, one that said he wasn't truly used to someone as enthusiastic as their young friend.
With great care Miki examined one of the ornaments, gently turning it so better inspect it.  “It's really pretty,”  she said with a wistful tone to her voice.  Her eyes moved from the one that she was examining, to another a that hung on a lower branch, and then she started to walk around the tree moving closer to the window.  

A quiet panic settled upon Dominique as the younger girl inched closer to the window.  What if Raphael was out there. What if she saw him.  “Miki!”  her concern seeped through her words.

The raven haired girl peeked back around the side of the tree.  “Sorry, I won't touch anything...”

“Oh no! I was just afraid that...you'd trip, over the cord...” the excuse passed her lips sounding as natural as any truth spoken.

Miki glanced down looking for the cord, finding it, she wondered why Dominique was worried that she would fall, it was neatly secured along the bottom the of the wall.  Smiling to herself, she thought, well that's just the sort of friend she is.  “Thank you Domi-chan!” she said brightly then went back to looking at the snowflakes.

Dominique cast a nervous glance to Keno.  Once his gaze met hers, her dark green orbs moved to the coffee table where two cups of hot chocolate sat cooling.  Keno followed her gaze, and as his dark brown eyes fell upon the mugs, his eyes widened slightly as he realized why it was that Dominique was suddenly so nervous.

“So Miki...” Keno said in the calmest voice that he could manage.  “Do you want to tell Dom about the surprise, or should I?”

Miki's head snapped in the direction of his voice. “Oh! I do!”  She said, then quickly made her way over to where the two of them stood.  Reaching into her jacket, she pulled out a red envelope and bowed to Dominique as she held it out to her.  “Happy Christmas Domi-chan!  It's from Uncle!  He wanted me to give this to you since he won't see you.”  

Dominique blinked in surprise. “Is he going somewhere?” she asked, concern filling her words as she couldn't imagine him leaving the city for the holiday, especially since Miki had just come to live with him.

“No, he's not.” A smile spread across her face as she continued. “But you are!”

“I am?” Dominique questioned, looking rather confused.

“Yes! Keno told Uncle about your family's plans.”  she began only to be interrupted by Keno.

“About how they want you to come visit them upstate...”  Keno explained, hoping Dominique would realize what half truth he had told her boss.  

“Keno-kun...I thought I was telling Domi-chan...” She pouted as she looked up at him.

“Sorry...” he feigned remorse, then smiled at Dominique as Miki turned her back to him so that she might continue to tell Dom about their surprise for her.

“Anyway... Keno told Uncle about your family wanting you to visit them.  Uncle was pleased to hear the news and hopes that you will have a nice visit.”

Concern etched itself into Dominique's features. “But, if I go, won't your Uncle be short handed? I don't want to do that to him.”  She said, even though she loved the idea of spending the holiday with Raphael and his family, she could not leave the kind, old man who had given her a job stuck on what were sure to be two of the busiest days of the year for his business.

“We got that covered!” Miki beamed brightly.

“We?”  One slender eyebrow rose in question as she looked at the younger girl.

“Keno-kun and me!” She announced excitedly.  “Keno's going to work your shifts so that you can go visit your family.”  

Her confused expression gave way to one of surprise as Miki's words reached her.  And soon her gaze left the younger girl and traveled to Keno.  “You're going to work my shifts?”  She asked, her tone revealing just how surprised that she was that Keno was going to fill in for her at work.

Keno laughed as he saw the bewildered expression that settled on her face.  “Don't look so surprised. Since Gram is friends with Mitsuru-san, I've helped out at the resturant before.  In fact, just last year after Pei had her baby, I worked there a few weeks until they found someone to cover her shift permantly.  So, taking a couple of shifts for a few days is no big deal.  Plus, I'll have help this time...” he smiled as he nodded towards Miki who was practically bouncing on the spot.

“Hai!  I'm going to do all the side jobs that you usually do to help the waitresses and will help with the opening and closing tasks...”  She beamed brightly as she looked up at Dominique.

“Oh, no.  It's not that I don't think you couldn't do the job properly... I'm just...really surprised...that's all.”  a warm smile spread across her face a moment before she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him.  “Thank you Keno,” the words slipped past her lips in a mere whisper as she hugged him tightly.

Keno's eyes widened ever so slightly as Dominique hugged him.  And for a moment, he froze, knowing that Raphael was somewhere in the apartment.  Could he see them? If so, how badly would Raph hurt him if he hugged her back?  Realizing that for the moment, he was safe since Miki was here, he wrapped his arms around her waist and hugged her tightly.  “You're welcome Dom.”  

Pulling away from the warm embrace, Dominique smiled as she met Keno's gaze, her dark green eyes flickered with emotion; an emotion that startled Keno. Alarm etched itself into Keno's features when he realized that she looked like she was going to cry.  “Are you okay?”  he asked softly, his hand moving from where it rested on her waist to rub her arm lightly.

Dominique nodding, smiling.  “I'm fine, I'm just really touched that you would do that for me,” she admitted, then quickly wiped her eyes before turning her attention to Miki.  “That you both would.”  She said as she moved to give the younger girl a hug.

Miki hugged Dominique back, then smiled brightly as she looked up at her friend. “Think nothing of it.”

Knowing that Miki was raised in Japan, and understanding their customs, she was not surprised in the least by the girl's humble response, and so she simply nodded, offering her a warm smile.

“We should be going, Miki.” Keno said as he tore his gaze from Dominique to look at their younger friend.  “Your uncle will need help closing the restaurant tonight.”

Miki nodded at him, then looked to Dominique.  “Have a wonderful visit with your family...”

“Wait,” Dominique said suddenly.  “I want to give you your gifts before you two leave.”

“Gifts?”  Keno and Miki said in unison, their tones revealing their surprise.

“Yes, hold on, I'll be right back.”  She said, then quickly made her way to her room.  Opening the closet, she let out a small squeak as she found Raphael standing there.  A small smirk appeared on his face, however, it was short-lived as he heard Keno and Miki call out, asking Dom if everything was alright.

“Yes, just...saw a mouse...” she lied easily as she called out to the others that were still in the living room, then fell silent to listen as an excited Miki asked if she wanted help in catching it.  Dominique quickly said that the mouse had disappeared into a hole in the wall and then promised the anxious girl that she would indeed use a humane trap to catch it so that it would not be hurt.   Returning her attention to the closet, she found Raphael standing there with an amused expression set upon his face.  Rolling her eyes at him, she reached past Raphael to grab two of the brightly wrapped packages that were sitting on the shelf above his head.

Raphael took advantage of the situation to playfully poke her in the side, which almost made her squeak again.  Instead, she swatted him with her free hand, giving him a look that caused a rather mischievous grin appear on his face.

Shutting the closet door on him, she shook her head, then made her way back to the living room, carrying two packages covered in brightly colored Christmas paper.  The smaller of the two, she handed to Miki, “Merry Christmas, Miki.”  

Miki excitedly took the small wrapped package and bowed to Dominique. “Thank you Domi-chan.”  She said then held the gift close to her chest.  

“If you want, you can open it now.” Dominique offered, knowing that although the younger girl was excited, that due to tradition, she would wait until she had returned home to do so.
“Really?” Miki asked, sounding unsure.

“Only if you want to.”  Dominique said, not wanting to overstep, nor cause Miki to break a tradition.  
Miki looked from Dominique to Keno, her chestnut brown eyes questioning if it was really okay.
“Hey... I won't say anything,” he said slyly.

Miki's features brightened and she tore into the red and green wrapping paper, a moment later a squeak escaped her as she uncovered the newest manga in the series that she collected. “Thank you Domi-chan!” She said as she nearly knocked Dominique over in her excitement when she went to hug her.  

Dominique couldn't help but chuckle.  After returning her hug, she released her and watched with great joy as Miki poured over the images in the paperback.

Satisfied that she had done well with the gift she had given Miki, Dominique turned to Keno and handed him a thin package about the size of a sheet of paper.  “Merry Christmas Keno.”  

“Thanks, Dom.”  He said as he took the package from her, then carefully began to peel back the layer of festive paper.  As he stripped the wrapping away, his eyes widened slightly as he found a framed, autographed picture of a martial artist that he admired.  His jaw hung open for a moment before he remembered himself and lifting his head to look at Dominique, he asked. “How? Where did you get this?”

Seeing his reaction to the gift, a smile spread across Dominique's face.  “The same place I got the manga for Miki.”

Confusion etched itself into Keno face. “You got this at a shop?” he questioned, unable to believe that she could find something like this at a local shop.

Dominique shook her head.  “No, not at a shop.  I got it at the con that you wanted to go to last month.  I knew that you had wanted to go to meet him, but you couldn't get the day off of work, so I went.”  

The expression that settled upon Keno's face could only be described as dumbfounded.  He honestly couldn't believe that she had done that.  The tickets to the event hadn't been cheap, and then for an autograph, she had to have spent a fortune.  “Dom, I don't know what to say.”

“How about thank you.”  She teased gently, as a small grin played upon her rose color lips.
“Thank you, Dom,” he said smiling as he finally managed to tear his gaze away from the picture that he held in his hands, and looked at her directly.

“Don't mention it.”  She smiled at him, then nearly jumped when she heard her cell phone ring.  She quickly picked it up and noticing the number, she frowned.  “Sorry, it's my aunt, calling to check in...I should take this.”

“No worries, we need to go.  I need to get Miki back to the restaurant, then I need to head down to the dojo to help my uncle with something.”  Keno turned his attention to Miki who was leaning against the arm of the couch, leafing through the manga.  “Come on Miki...let's go.”  

“Huh? Oh...right.” A sheepish smile touched her lips as she realized that she had completely lost herself to the contents of the book and had no idea what had transpired in the last few minutes.  Moving from the couch, she stopped to hug Dominique one last time, then made her way to the door. Slipping on her boots, she looked back at Keno who was lingering by Dom.  “Come on Keno-kun! I want to get back to the restaurant and finish the side-work quickly so I can read this.”

Keno chuckled. “Alright, alright, I'm coming...” he said, then looked back at Dominique. “I'll call you tomorrow, thanks again.”

“Thank you...” she smiled at him, then moved to open the door for the two of them. “Be safe.”
“We will!” Miki said cheerfully, then grabbed Keno by the arm and then attempted to drag him out of the apartment.  

“Wait...my shoes...aren't quite on.” he said as he quickly tapped his foot on the ground to slid his foot completely into his tenner shoes.  Casting a glance back at Dom, he smiled at her before he was yanked out into the hallway.  “Goodnight!” he called.

“Night.”  she called after them and watched them disappear down the otherwise empty hallway before she shut the door and locked it.

“Well.” a voice came from behind her.  One that made her jump.

“Damnit Raphael, you need to stop doing that.” she said as she spun around to face him.  Only to find him grinning at her.  “And why would I do that?  It's so much fun to make you jump.”

“Keep pressing your luck...one of these days, Splinter's teachings are going to kick in and you're going to wind up on the floor.” she teased.

“I'll take my chances...” he grinned at her.

She rolled her eyes at him, then moved to walk past him, eyeing the phone that had stopped ringing. Swiping her finger across the screen of the phone, she pulled up the call log menu and pressed the phone icon next to her aunt's name.

The fabric of his mask rose in question, “Where are you goin'?”  he asked, worried that maybe he had teased her too much.

“I'm going to pack...” she began as she looked back at him.  “Apparently, I'm leaving to visit my family tomorrow.” she grinned at him before she turned her attention to her phone and disappeared around the corner.

Watching her, a small grin spread across his features as his hand slipped into his jacket pocket, and his fingers curled around the small wrapped box that rested there.  Maybe tomorrow, he thought, then followed her back to her room to see if he could help.
Greetings all!  Sorry, that the newest chapter took so long to come out. 
I've been dealing with some health issues the past couple of months, so I haven't been feeling well enough to write. 
I hope that everyone enjoys it.  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.  I would greatly appreciate the feedback.

Thanks in advance! 

Next: dominique-lefalle.deviantart.c…
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:iconravenshellrorschach:
RavenshellRorschach Featured By Owner May 26, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*l* Tenner shoes... sounds like you've been hanging around me too much!
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:iconbirdictator:
Birdictator Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2016
Awesome chapter! Really funny :)
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:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2016
Thank you!  I'm glad that you enjoyed it! :D 
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:iconbirdictator:
Birdictator Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2016
Your welcome!
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:iconsakuranights:
SakuraNights Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, so cute! Miki is adorable (I'd be just as excited over new manga, too!)! Nicely written, and I hope you feel better soon!
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:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2016
Aw, thank you!  I'm so glad that you like her. Now I just need to get art done of her at some point in the future. :D
And hey, Manga is good! :D

Thank you very much, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it.
And thank you dear. :hugs:
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:iconphoenixfirestar:
PhoenixFirestar Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Sooo freaking adorable x.x and I like Miki, she's going to be a fun addition. Imagine her and Mikey getting together??? O.O
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:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016
Thank you!  I'm so glad that you like her. :happybounce:  

I think that Miki and Mikey in the same room could be dangerous. LOL

Seriously, though, I do think that they would get along well.  They do have a bit in common after all. 
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:iconfaunatiki:
faunatiki Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
Miki tho
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:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016
You like her?

I need to get someone to draw her soon. 
Reply
:iconfaunatiki:
faunatiki Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
ILOVEHER
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:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2016
Aw, am so glad that you do! 

Now I just need to get her drawn.  :D 
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:iconlunafae8199:
Lunafae8199 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
NYEH! LOVE IT SO FREAKIN MUCH!!!
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:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016
I'm so glad that you do! 

:hug:

Thank you so much! 
Reply
:iconallinox:
Allinox Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You keep making me more and more impressed with your stories! Lovely Shoujo Emoji (Yay Hurray) [V2] 
Especially your characters and their lives - they are so believable! 

Amazing work! Just amazing! Panda Bunny Neko Misc Emoji-07 (Applause) [V1] 
Every time I read your work I lose myself in this pocket dimension, outside of time and space - just like Miki!  Neko Emoji-28 (Yay sho happy) [V2] 
Reply
:icondominique-lefalle:
Dominique-Lefalle Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2016
Miuna Blushing Icon  Aw, thank you so much.  That is such a wonderful compliment. 
It makes me so happy to hear that you think that.  I always try to make my characters three-dimensional and relatable.  Even my supporting characters.  

Thank you so much for your kind words and praise. And so happy that you can loose yourself in my world. Heart Love 
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:iconallinox:
Allinox Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, you're seriously good at it! 
Anytime, my friend! :love: 
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April 4, 2016
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