"Zhenzhen is my real friend," Li Feng protests.
Hawke sighs, not sure how much pressure he should put on her, if any.
"Tell me about how you met my mother," Amelia asks of her father.
"Well, I'd known her since we were kids. We went to school together," Emilio says, hoping that's enough and he doesn't have to get any deeper into it than that.
"So you dated in high school?" Amelia carries on with the questioning.
"I want to talk to you about it," Amelia insists, "I'm having trouble deciding if I like a boy, and if a boy likes me, and I want to know how it was with you. How do you know when you are in love? How did you end up with mother, and how did it end?"
"Your mother and I aren't the best example to look to," Emilio says, "We weren't actually ever in love."
"So, what were you, then? A one night stand?" Amelia looks appalled.
"No!" Emilio protests, though it's not far from the truth, "It's more complicated than that. We were friends for a long time. Did your mother ever tell you about your aunt Phoenix?"
Amelia nods, "Uncle Hawke talks about her, he named Li Feng after her."
"Phoenix was my girlfriend. We were going to be married. Then she disappeared," Emilio says. Just saying her name hurts, the pain of losing his first love has never gone away, not even after falling in love with Meadow. "What happened between your mother and I..." Emilio can't find the words to explain, not having ever really understood himself what that brief affair was about.
"I think I understand," Amelia says, "You were lonely."
"I guess that's it," Emilio says, "I don't regret it, not for a second. We had you."
Whenever Amelia feels bad for herself because her father isn't around much, Li Feng is a reminder that it could be much worse. At least her father is alive and tries to see her when he can.
Li Feng consults with her imaginary friend, and then rushes outside to gather the ingredients. While Li Feng is busy, Amelia fills one of her chemistry kit's beakers with root beer, and when she returns with her flowers and pebbles, Amelia solemnly drops them into the mix and hands it to her young cousin.
"Have fun, you two," Amelia says cheerily as she heads upstairs to do her homework.
"I think so. Let's play tag."
"Daddy, Zhenzhen needs a bed,"she informs her father, "Amelia gave us a potion to make her real."
Hawke sees the green-haired little girl that Li Feng is calling Zhenzhen, but he's not ready to believe that yet. "Who are your parents, sweetheart?" he asks.
"I don't have parents," the little girl says, "I belong to Li Feng."
"Li, go downstairs and play. I'm going to talk to your friend."
"Hawke," the child says his name, her child's voice carrying the authority of an adult, "I understand this is difficult for you, but I am no mere child. I was sent to watch over Sun Young, and I failed in my task. I can never retain my true form again until I make up for my failure by protecting Sun's daughter."
"What kind of sick joke is this?" Hawke demands, "Who would put a child up to this?"
"It's not a joke, Hawke," the little girl says, "I am the spirit that resided in the doll. I am Zhenzhen."
"This is absurd," Hawke sighs.
Zhenzhen stares at him for a moment, and then speaks to him about some intimate details about himself and Sun, something only he and Sun would ever know, words that should never come out of the mouth of a child. Hawke gapes in horror. "I am no mere child, Hawke, and I am no mere mortal."
"You don't talk to my daughter like that..."
"Of course not. She's a child; she doesn't need me to prove who I am. She simply believes, as a child does."
Hawke, still not quite believing, sends Zhenzhen down to Li Feng, and questions Amelia about the potion she gave them. Amelia tells him about her trick, pretending root beer was a potion she made. "You didn't see her drink it?" Hawke asks. Amelia shakes her head, saying she gave Li Feng the beaker and went to do her homework.
"I feel like an idiot asking you this," Hawke says, visiting Ho Sung to find out what he knows about Sun's doll.
"We haven't had any missing children reports," Ho says, thinking like a cop now that he's joined the force, "I can check with the stations in nearby cities to see if anyone is missing a green-haired child."
"She said she's a a spirit that lived in the doll. That she was sent to protect Sun, and now to protect Li Feng," Hawke says, "It's creepy if it's true, and even creepier if someone coached her to say that."
"Our grandmother gave that doll to Sun before she died," Ho muses, "She used to tell us stories about Huli Jing. Fox spirits. They can take human form. Usually female."
"You think Zhenzhen is a fox spirit?" Hawke asks.
"If it is, be careful. They're tricksters."
"Why didn't you go yourself?"
"Because you went with Byron. I didn't want to go with anyone else, and I didn't want to see you with him."
"Now you're making me feel bad."
"Tell me you didn't kiss him, that will make up for the horrible loss of missing my prom," Thierry says.
Amelia leans close to him, "You're still the only one."
"Can we keep it that way?"
Her crush on Byron is stupid and pointless. If he felt anything for her, he would have responded to her by now. If she could just get past it, she could give her whole heart to Thierry.
"Are you asking me to go steady?" she asks, running her fingers through his hair.
"I'll be asking for a lot more than that, Aimee," he says, "But I have to start somewhere."
Eleanor kisses him lightly, "I would never miss your party."
"You should be the hostess, not a guest," he answers.
Thornton surprises her with a tight squeeze. He usually keeps his public displays of affection to a minimum. "I'm tired of these people," he says, "Let's go upstairs."
Eleanor laughs, "Blow off your own party?"
"They can chatter on without me. I want to be with you. Now."
"How much longer?" he asks, "How long before I can have you in my bed every night?"
"Patience, lover," Eleanor whispers, "It won't be much longer."
I made a conscious decision to not use screenshots of Zhenzhen in living doll form. To my mind, what Li Feng was seeing is the human form that eventually became visible to everyone else, not that creepy teletubby thing. (Which reminded me vaguely of the 'imaginary friend' character in Carlton Mellick's 'The Haunted Vagina', especially in the description of its walk."
Yeah, not a fan of the IF, here.