006: Home Sweet Home
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In the year 20XX, Country-A put forth a motion for national housing. From City-A to City-Z, all citizens would have the right to free, low-quality housing if they so needed. Nobody knows how the motion actually passed despite the many issues that should have held it back. Issues such as massive overpopulation, economic ruin, and unfair discrimination between vegetables in supermarkets.
How is the last one related? Well, nobody knows that either, but it is.
These issues were even more clear to see in City-Y, otherwise known as the Lost City, or the Lost Cause. In fact, City-Y has several names, it's actually one of the things they excel at, being ranked second in the whole of Country-A for the City with the most nicknames. Names like 'Scare City', 'That Place', or the ever-infamous 'Y is this a City??'
Interestingly, City-X took first place with the nickname 'City-XXX', first coined by Ignatius Aster; he said his inspiration for the name came from just how damn sexy the city was.
After putting the motion into action, free housing appeared all across the country, even in City-Y. However, in an unexpected twist, the quality of free housing turned out higher than the vast majority of residences within City-Y. As a result, a period of greater chaos emerged, in which the development project saw 43% of new homes destroyed due to rampant house-sitting. In response to the scandal, Country-A's higher ups halted all further progress indefinitely.

"Y'know, even for City-Y, your street is a little strange," Lily tittered.
Sophie only responded with a helpless smile as she looked out from the passenger seat. Before her eyes were a row of multi-colored houses, although they couldn't be called pretty, they had their own charm.
"It's thanks to the national housing project we could even have this."
Lily raised her brow at Sophie's words as she looked out from her driver's side and murmured, "Even so... is it really okay to just leave it like this?"

The sound of a door opening made itself known as Sophie turned to nod at her companion, "Thanks for driving me, Lily." She squeezed her lips in thought, unsure if her next choice was the right one, "I'll forgive you this time but only because of Mom. No next time, understood?"

Lily rolled her eyes and muttered, "Your such a tsun, Sophie."
"Understood?" Sophie scowled.
"Yes, Mistress Sophie!"
"You're impossible," she laughed back.

After closing the door she rapped the window and waved but found herself almost in tears as she watched Lily scrambling out the door, tangled within her seatbelt. "What are you doing?"

"Walking you to the door, obviously!" she retorted.
"You don't have to-"
"Of course I have to!" her eyes wide in disbelief, "What sort of date would I be if I didn't walk you to the door?"
Sophie's eyes twitched, "You haven't understood anything, have you?"
"Just give me a chance, Sophie. Don't you think we'd be cute together?"
"I'll give you a chance in the friend zone, how's that?"

Sophie stumbled as she broke out in a fit of giggles, "You'll settle for that? Hey..." She threw a cautious glance Lily's way and asked, "You aren't one of those M things I've heard so much about, are you?"

Not getting any response, Sophie suppressed her laughter and looked over with curiosity at her new friend. With her eyebrows raised, Lily stared back, a coy expression on her face, "That you've heard so much about... huh?"

Sophie's cheeks turned red as she realized her mistake. "You- You're just hearing things!" she spluttered. "Didn't you want to walk me to the door? Well? Hurry up!"

Now it was Lily's turn to laugh, "Well... since you asked so nicely, I guess I'll do it." She finished getting her seatbelt in order and locked the car before making her way towards Sophie. As she stepped around the car's front she examined the view to her left. "Are you sure it's okay to have that there?"

"It's fine. I mean, it's not fine at all. But it's fine for City-Y." Sophie replied in a somewhat doubtful tone.
"Has anyone ever fallen in?"
Sophie's eye glazed over for a moment as she whispered, "Little Kevin..."
"Nothing. It's an inconvenience more than anything."
"Sophie... they dug a ten meter deep pit the length of your street."
"It's fine. Actually, I overheard some aunties wanting to turn it into a park."

Lily just shook her head and gawked at Sophie, "Keep this up and you'll be even crazier than me," she breathed. She whirled toward the row of houses and grabbed Sophie's hand, "Come on! I'll walk you home, weren't you excited for a gift?"

"That's right!" Sophie paused, "But how did you know?"
"Because you wouldn't shut up about it in your sleep."

The two continued to chat and laugh as they neared the front of Sophie's home. Number 14 on the recently renamed, Mid-Cliff Avenue. It stood two stories tall with pale blue walls, and green and yellow on either side. There was a balcony on the second floor which formed the ceiling of the front porch where a dark blue door stood within, opening itself as the girls approached.

Poking her head out from behind the door, a slightly older looking Sophie, with a hair color just a shade darker, grinned with delight as she trained her sight on the two girls.
"Mom!" "Sophie!" The mother-daughter pair exclaimed as Sophie ran into the other's waiting arms.

Faced with such a heart-warming scene, Lily trembled for a moment as the briefest glimpse of grief escaped from her eyes. Half a heartbeat later and she stood showing a warm smile as she watched the duo reunite.

After separating, Sophie's Mother pinched her daughter's cheek and urged her inside. When she looked up, Lily had already turned her back, "And where do you think you're going, missy?"

Shocked, Lily swiveled round only to see the older Sophie with her hands on her hips and mirth in her eyes. "What? You didn't think you could escape without even a cup of tea, did you?"