Phoenix woke up late the next morning, events from the night before foggy in his mind.
A sudden flurry of feathers swooping onto his shoulder helped to bring it back.
"Well, didn't you heal fast," Phoenix noticed.
"Maybe you were just faking and wanted me to take you home. I guess, if you're going to be staying, we should get you some better accommodations."
Phoenix looked through the classifieds and, after a few calls, was able to find someone with an inexpensive used bird cage who was willing to deliver.
While waiting, Phoenix took his new friend with him to pick up his motorcycle from where he'd left it. The bartender, who reintroduced herself as Jackie Schultz, as Phoenix had forgotten, was just arriving to start setting up. He was excited to show her what he had found after he had left the bar last night, but she seemed busy, so he didn't keep her long.
He had other things to do himself, anyway, and took the bird along to visit the grocery store and run a few other errands around town.
They got home just in time to accept and pay for the delivery of the cage.
"Here you are, little fella, you're part of the family now," Phoenix said as he settled the bird into his new home. He smiled to himself; it felt like it was going to be much easier waiting for Sadie to get home now that he wouldn't be waiting alone.
And it was.
Sadie returned the next day while Phoenix was back at work. Exhausted from her adventure and the long flight, she headed straight to the bedroom.
She smiled to herself as she saw that her husband had put up a photograph of her by his bedside that hadn't been there when she'd left.
I'll just wait here for him to get home, she thought, and made herself comfortable.
By the time Phoenix arrived, Sadie had fallen asleep. She looked so peaceful, he couldn't bring himself to wake her, but decided to lie down on the other side of the bed, just to be close to her.
As he sat down, however, she rubbed her eyes and and rolled over, "Oh, you're home, you should have woken me."
Phoenix didn't feel too sorry that, now that she was awake, he could welcome her back properly with a kiss.
And then many kisses.
"Uh, Phoenix...?" Sadie queried when she got up the next morning.
"When did we get a bird?"
Phoenix joined her in the front room, "Oh, this is Panda. I found him."
"You named a bird Panda?" Sadie raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, I like pandas," he explained with a shrug, "He's a nuthatch, I looked it up at the library."
"Well, okay then, I don't know if he should stay in the house, though," but they didn't have much time to discuss it, as they both had to get to work.
Sadie noticed right away that the museum had undergone some changes while she was away, including a new visitors desk in the front hall.
Some of the exhibits had begun to go up, as well. Mallory told her she had even started on the France exhibit, where the artifacts Sadie had procured would be showcased, so Sadie hurried to see how that was coming along.
Well, it was a start, but just barely. She could see that she had a lot of work ahead of her.
Mallory had also finally gotten around to hiring a receptionist for the office, Bret Palmer.
Sadie tried to show him some of the things she had brought back from Champs Les Sims, but he seemed bored by them. He said he preferred modern art, like the exhibit from a local artist that had recently been installed.
Sadie, on the other hand, didn't really understand what anyone could see in that stuff.
Now that Sadie was home, Phoenix wanted to make sure he had a way to keep her close to him even when she had to travel far away again. So, he got a tattoo of the Chinese character for "Love" inked over his heart, and convinced Sadie to get a matching one.
"I don't know about this, Phoenix..." Sadie gulped as the needle came close.
Phoenix was too busy browsing the advertised tattoo designs on the walls to notice his wife's suffering.
In the end, Sadie went with a smaller version of the same character on her ankle.
Phoenix was happy with the compromise, and after was easily persuaded by Sadie to spend the rest of the bonus she had received from her work in France on decorating the house.
They were mostly out of money by the time she got to the living room, so the only furnishings added there were a loveseat and a wine rack for all the bottles she had brought home from her trip. Overall, though, everything was much improved.
Sadie was especially happy to have a laundry room to wash clothes, especially since there wasn't even a laundromat in Meadow Glenn (?!).
Phoenix was most appreciative of having a table and real chairs to sit on while eating.
Panda, however, wasn't entirely enthusiastic about his new location on the front porch.
"Just because your cage is out here doesn't mean you're any less welcome than you were before," Phoenix assured him.
Things slowly started to settle down, with Phoenix busy with his job and studies, and Sadie working at the museum. Her days now were much more like she had originally thought they would be, with cataloging and dating, refurbishing or even reconstructing artifacts, and designing exhibits to showcase them all. Even with so much to do, however, she still found her herself wondering from time to time about the hidden relics she had found under the museum and what Gaston might have found about them.
Then, one day, her work was interrupted by a call from Mr. Dutiel himself.
"I do not want to speak much on the phone," he told her, "but I need your help again. Would you be able to return to Champs Les Sims?"
"Yes, of course!" Sadie enthusiastically replied, "I'll talk to Mallory and make arrangements right away."
She couldn't wait to go back.
The actual tattoo artist wasn't there when I took Phoenix and Sadie to get their tattoos, so I just grabbed some random townie to ink them up. This was the unfortunate result:
Sadie was fine, but it took four tries before I was able to get Phoenix a decent tattoo. Excuse the baldness, btw, I've apparently never actually gotten around to designing his swimwear since he aged up. ^^;
On another note, I'm glad that the house is starting to feel more homely, I hated all those bare walls, especially. And Phoenix really was excited about the new dining table:
Hooray for no more eating on the toilet! xD