BGC Post 2040 File 6 – 10: The Real Me
The Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 Continuation Fanfic Series
by P. Kristen Enos
Most of these stories take place AFTER the TV Series! So DON’T blame me if I ruin the ending for you because you read these stories first!
Lesbian/Yuri/Shoujo Ai Warning! (Non-explicit — at least in the “PG13″/”R” sort of way.) Just not written for children because they probably wouldn’t get half of it.
All rights belong to JVC/AIC, ADV Films and the other creative powers that be. I just want credit for writing the story.
Saturday Evening, November 12th
“She’s so cute!” Nene gushed as she looked at the pictures her mother had spread out on the restaurant table. “Omigawd! I’ve got to see her again soon!”
Nana smiled and pointed to a particular picture of her granddaughter. “See? She’s got the innocent look down pat even though there’s chocolate all over her face. She seems to take more after you than your sister in that respect!”
“Humph!” Nene responded, blushing at the accurate comment. “Since I’m never around her, then that means it’s genetic, Mom!”
Despite herself, Nana blushed herself at memories that her daughter could never even begin to guess. “All right, we’ve made our points!”
She collected the photos and said, “You know, I wish you’d give us a more updated photo of you and Mackey.”
Nene turned a deeper shade of red and then added hastily, “You’ll have one real soon! In fact, I’ll take Mackey to a photographer myself once he gets back from his trip.”
“Speaking of which, when is he supposed to come back again?”
“He should be back some time late next week from England. It just depends how long the project will take him and Nigel.”
“Nigel is his teacher, right?” her mom clarified.
Nene nodded eagerly as she took a long sip of her soda. She didn’t dare drink any alcohol this night.
“So who is this Priss again? Have you ever mentioned her?”
“Not really. She’s just a friend. She’s, uh, closer to Sylia than to me. They knew each other before I came into the picture,” she explained, trying to dodge any probing questions of how she and Priss might have met. She was glad that she kept to a minimum all the details of her private life in her previous conversations with her mother.
Nene then added, “But don’t be too surprised if Priss is not that friendly if you’re ever alone with her. She’s hard to get to know. Heck, it took us a year before she treated me as anything more than a little kid.”
“Ah,” her mother said, mulling over the information as she sipped her tea. “And so where does she live if she doesn’t normally stay with Sylia?”
“With Linna, another friend. But she and Linna are just friends!” Nene added hastily, feeling the need to clear that up.
Nana blinked and said, “All right… Who’s this Linna? Have you mentioned her?”
Nene stifled a sigh as she realized it was going to be a long dinner.
* * *
Dressed in her black fatigues and boots, Sylia stepped out of the chamber in her private lab and pressed the codes to reseal the door.
“How is he?” Nigel asked from behind as she stared through the glass window at the large hulking stasis chamber with its supportive equipment. He lit his cigarette and took a long drag, finally allowing himself to relax after finishing that night’s errand.
She gave a mild shrug. “No alarms so assume everything is all right, I guess. I hate not having a firm timeline to measure his progress against.”
Nigel didn’t make a comment as he stared through the glass himself. Then he blew out a stream of smoke and said, “Well, I think I’ve secured our new friend. Want to check it out?”
Sylia nodded and walked through the doors to the other side of her private lab to the room in question. Inside stood a large construction boomer used for precision work like drilling and wielding with its crude looking arms and lower body supported by four legs. Even though the machine had been turned off, the collar on Sylia’s neck suddenly glowed red, indicating the presence of white noise even as it shielded its wearer from any affects.
“I doubt very much it’s going to get up and walk around but I used reinforcements just in case,” Nigel explained as he pointed to the metal bands and chains he used to secure the equipment to the floor.
Sylia scanned the still creature and frowned. “It may not be moving now but there are always… risks. I have to admit, these models make the designer in me cringe at how bulky and ineffectual they act and look. But I guess peace of mind for the public is far more important.”
“So what time do you want me to come by tomorrow?” Nigel said. He then glanced at his watch and said, “Actually, I should say ‘today’?”
“I don’t want to start the tests for at least a couple more days. I just wanted to get ourselves a boomer sooner rather than later,” Sylia said as she led them out of the chamber, into the main room of her lab. The collar’s light went out once the door leading to the new boomer was closed. “Priss needs to work on healing first before we subject her to anything like white noise tests. Besides, I want her senses to be as sharp as possible and the painkillers may hinder that.”
“Then, you might as well not do the tests until she’s completely healed, which means the convenience of her being here will be lost,” he murmured.
She smiled and said, “Oh, I’m counting on Priss’s machisma to get herself off painkillers before your average person would. Still, thank you for this last minute errand.” She stepped over and gave him a gentle kiss on the corner of his mouth, carefully avoiding his cigarette. “It kind of reminded me of the old days.”
“When it was just the two of us scouring for parts and equipment?” he said with a mild smile.
“Hmm. Among other things,” she said with a yawn as she took off the collar and started to unbutton the top of her shirt. She paused when she realized he was watching her.
With a sly grin, Sylia looked at him with a tilted head and said, “I thought we had done enough last night to tide ourselves over for a two-week separation.”
He arched his eyebrow at her and said, “Yes, we did try didn’t we?”
She pursed her lips for a moment and then continued to unbutton her shirt, this time for show. “Well, then, I shouldn’t call myself a scientist if I don’t accommodate an occasional change in variables…”
* * *
A Couple of Hours Later…
With her hair still damp from a quick shower in the locker room, Sylia walked down the hallway towards the kitchen, pausing her steps at the sight of the light pouring out from the room in question. She stopped at the entrance and looked at surprise at Nana, who was sitting at the small table, nursing a cup of hot milk.
Nana was staring at Sylia with a small amount of surprise, especially at the woman’s military-style attire.
“Oh, hello, Nana,” Sylia said, trying to appear casual while walking towards the fridge to get her own beverage. “Not able to sleep?”
“I have a hard time sleeping in new places at first,” the older woman answered, trying not to openly stare at her hostess’s outfit. “It usually passes after a night or two. Um, and you?”
“I had to fetch something for Priss,” explained Sylia poured herself a cup of milk.
“How is she doing?”
“She’s been asleep every time I’ve checked on her,” Sylia explained as she heated her drink in the microwave.
“I would have checked on her myself but I wasn’t sure which bedroom she was in,” Nana said. “And Henderson had already turned in by the time I came back.”
“By the way, how was the dinner with Nene?” Sylia said, taking the opportunity for a change in subject.
Nana chuckled and said, “You’d think I was here to grade my daughter on her lifestyle.”
Amused, Sylia joined her at the table and asked, “You aren’t?”
“I admit I do want to make sure that she’s truly happy…”
A thought crossed the older woman’s mind as she looked at Sylia pointedly. “Since you’re Mackey’s sister, perhaps you can tell me why you think they haven’t married by now? After all, Ne-chan claims they love each other but there doesn’t seem to be any reason for why they haven’t even taken the next step of becoming engaged. Is he honestly serious about her?”
Sylia took a careful sip of her own hot milk and said, “Well, Nene’s the only relationship Mackey has ever had. And I swear to you that he loves her. But I admit I don’t think he’s given marriage any serious consideration until recently. He’s still trying to determine who he’s going to be for the rest of his life.”
“…Is this a Stingray trait?” Nana asked with the barest hint of a tease. “Ne-chan tells me you’re in a long-term relationship yourself but it doesn’t look like it’s headed toward marriage.”
Sylia shook her head with a smile. “My situation is completely different. We’re just too independent and practical to be married. It’s enough to know that we’re there for each other whenever the need is there.”
Nana looked impressed as she thought about it. “Hmm. I guess I’m too old-fashioned in that I always believed marriage to be the ultimate goal of any relationship. But being a college professor most of my life, it never ceases to amaze me what you young people do to satisfy your emotional needs. To each their own, I suppose. Still, through it all, I suppose it’s reassuring to know that you clearly love her.”
With slightly wide eyes, Sylia stared at Nana, and then took a long sip of her drink. She cleared her throat and repeated carefully, “Her?”
Nana gave her a supportive look and said, “Dear, I’m not some prude. I can see how much you love Priss, especially with everything you’re doing for her right now. And you don’t have to tiptoe around me since I’m here. It’s your home after all. If anything, I appreciate your willingness to be careful of my sensitivities. But like I said, I’m a college professor, it’s not as if I haven’t dealt with lesbians before.”
Hiding her expression behind her cup, Sylia took another long sip. She then took a deep breath and sat back in her chair. Staring off into space, she said, “I’m very glad you’re all right with this, Nana. It takes a huge load off my mind now that we don’t have to do this charade anymore.”
Sylia then sighed. “I do wonder if I’m not doing enough for Priss, especially at a time like this. She’s such a hard person to be with sometimes, and well, I do feel as if I’m in a one-sided relationship. I’ve even allowed her to be involved with other people because I thought she wanted the freedom…”
Nana reached over and squeezed her hand. “It will be all right, Dear. A crisis is often the best test for a relationship. And this accident may be a fortunate thing to happen.”
“You may be right. However, I don’t have any expectations since I’ve learned to be patient with Priss this long already,” she said. Then she added conspiratorially, “But please don’t talk to her about our… relationship issues. She has enough on her mind and I want her to focus on healing.”
“Oh, I agree with not bringing anything like that up,” the other woman said with a nod. “I just wanted to let you know that I knew in case you ever need to talk since this can be a very trying situation. I realize Ne-chan may have thought this charade was the best option but well, I realize it was probably a decision made while she was concerned over my visit in general.”
“Your daughter means well, Nana, and she’s got a lot on her mind right now, too. I think it would be enough just to keep it between the two of us that you know,” Sylia said, giving her smile as she took another sip of milk.
— End Chapter 36 —
* * *
Sunday Morning, November 13th
“– That is a truly fascinating angle!” Sylia declared as she and Nana had lunch by themselves on the patio. “I would love to be able to attend your lectures if visitors are allowed.”
The older woman glowed and said, “I’ll tell them you’re my guest, Dear. With you there I’ll know I’ll have at least one person who’s genuinely interested in the impact of international law on local cultural ethics.”
Sylia then winked and grinned, “Are you going to force Nene to attend as well?”
“Oh, I don’t think so,” she conceded with a giggle. “Ne-chan already had a childhood of listening to my lectures, not that I think they did that much good!”
“Well, she certainly – Oh, good morning, Priss,” Sylia said, suddenly noticing that they had company.
“Hello, Nana, Sylia.” Still brandishing her casts and crutch, Priss hobbled over to the table and sat down in the chair next to Sylia.
Henderson quickly appeared and took her order for some juice.
“Did you have a good rest, Dear?” Nana asked.
“The sedatives helped,” Priss answered with a weary shrug, obviously trying to focus. “I don’t recall sleeping this long in my entire life before. – At least outside of a hospital.”
“Oh my. Are you injured a lot?”
Sylia grinned and answered, “Priss takes her bike riding very seriously.” She then reached over and placed her hand on the singer’s.
Instantly more alert, Priss shot Sylia a mild frown of bewilderment at the contact.
The other woman pulled back her hand, adding a briefly hurt look on her face.
Nana winced as she watched the interaction. “So, Priss, how do you feel otherwise?”
“My arm and leg are fine if I don’t move. I can tell exactly when my painkillers wear off,” she grumbled. “Still, I’m glad they were fractures and not breaks. The doctor said I should heal completely in a few weeks as long as I take it easy.”
“And Henderson and I are going to ensure that you do,” Sylia stated clearly as the butler arrived with a round of beverages for everyone.
Priss chuckled, “That’s a really ironic comment coming from someone who practically ignored her own fractured ribs and took twice as long to heal.”
Wide-eyed with amazement, Nana stared at the suddenly red Sylia.
Recovering herself, Sylia smiled and remarked, “I guess Priss and I are just two peas in a pod!”
With a roll of her eyes, Priss muttered, “Yeah, something like that.”
Nana looked at both of them for a moment, and then decided to change the subject, “So, Priss, Ne-chan mentioned you’re a singer?…”
* * *
“So are you are staying with Sylia the whole time?” Linna asked through the view-screen on Priss’s phone.
Priss shrugged as she sat on the comfortable couch in the Silky Doll dressing room, taking advantage of the store’s closure for the day. “I guess. I have to admit it’s kind of nice having butler service in this condition.”
“Can’t argue with that one,” Linna added with a grin.
There was a moment of awkward silence as a very obvious subject was not being addressed.
“Well, it means you get the place to yourself,” Priss remarked. She paused, as if contemplating ending the call, but she asked, “Um, how was your date last night?”
Linna blinked and smiled. “It was really nice. I think everything was comfortable because we had set the ground rules about running off in emergencies. It turns out she and I really have a lot in common when it comes to the way we look at things and such. It turns out she likes pizza and beer, too!”
“Oh… Did she, um, stay?”
Linna turned beet red as she shook her head. “No! We’re definitely not there yet… I mean, she’s a great kisser but we both agreed that we definitely wanted to take things real slow. Our next date won’t be until next Saturday.”
Priss stared at her image for a moment. “Well, I’ve got to go take a nap. The painkillers are making me drowsy.”
“Oh. Okay, I’ll call you some time this week?”
“No rush. I’m not going anyplace. Bye.”
After hanging up the phone, Priss sat quietly on the couch, lost in her own thoughts. She got up a few minutes later and hobbled out to the empty store.
When she passed by the aquarium, she paused at the sight of exotic fish lazily drifting by the window. A moment later, Sylia swam by, clearly lost in her own thoughts since she made no indication that she saw Priss.
The singer watched the other woman swim, not aware that she herself was being watched by Nana Romanova from the top of the stairs.
* * *
Much, Much Later…
Nana smiled at Lisa from across the bar table. “I have to admit I read your articles whenever I remember to go to the Tokyo Sun website.”
“Having my old professor reading my work! Oh, now that’s pressure!” Lisa remarked with a grin over her sake. “I’m glad you’re not doing my grades anymore!”
“Oh heck, no! I only get out the red pen when I’m paid to!” the older woman exclaimed.
Nene sat quietly, grinning from ear to ear as she listened to the banter between the other women.
Lisa noticed her watchfulness and said, “Sorry if we’re leaving you out of the conversation, Nene. We all adored your mom but she was a mean ol’ woman to work for!”
“It comes with working for the best,” Professor Romanova sniffed.
Nene giggled and said, “I like this. Mom never talked about her university stuff, even when she was teaching full time and not doing guest seminars.”
Nana blinked as she mulled over that thought. “I guess I never did, did I? Hmm, then I guess that’s one more thing you inherited from me: keeping part of your life from the rest of your family.”
“Oh really?” Lisa said. Through a mild sake haze, she grinned devilishly. “It must be a mother-daughter thing because I never got the sense Nene was hiding anything in our conversations. Were you?”
Nene giggled a little too energetically as she retorted, “We only just met. And even so, I don’t have any big secrets. Mom just thinks I’ve got this double life going on here in Tokyo. She’s never gotten used to not knowing everything that’s going since I left home. She acted the same way when my sisters moved out.”
Nana scowled as she took another sip of her sake. “Nene, you are just not going to understand until you have a family of your own. A long-term boyfriend is one thing. A husband and children are completely different.”
A flicker of a wince passed across Nene’s face. She then smiled brightly, “Well, things can always change. I’m still young! And Mackey is too! So no rush!”
Nana pursed her lips but said nothing.
“Hey, I’ve never met Mackey, have I?” Lisa remarked, peering owlishly through her glasses.
“Oh, he travels a lot. And when he’s home he’s really busy,” Nene added hastily. “I’m hoping he’ll finish up his latest project and get back home before Mom leaves.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Nana remarked behind her cup. “Still, I have to admit I feel much better after having met Sylia.”
“Sylia?” Lisa asked.
Nene’s eyes widened.
“She’s Mackey’s older sister. I’m staying with her during this visit,” Nana explained. “She is so well-mannered and charming. She’s beautiful, intelligent and owns her own clothing store. You can tell she was very well brought up, which means their family is definitely good stock. I heartily approve, Nene.”
“Um, thanks, Mom,” Nene added weakly. “In fact -”
“Oh, I just had a great idea!” Nana exclaimed as she slammed her now empty sake cup on the table. “We should have a dinner party of some sort. Ne-chan, Sylia, and Priss. And Lisa, you could bring that Linna girl you mentioned.”
Nene barely kept herself from clutching her chest at a feeling of pending heart failure.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Lisa said with clear reluctance. “Linna and I have had only one real date. I don’t want to give her the impression that I’m bullying her into couples’ stuff already.”
Nene let out a breath of air and then took her first hearty gulp of her beer.
“Nonsense!” Nana insisted, her cheeks quite flushed with red. “She’s a friend of Ne-chan and Priss, too. So it’s just a friendly get together.” She then giggled and said, “I’ll admit I do want to meet this girl since I’ve heard so much about her. And I’ll be certain to put in several good words to her on your behalf, Lisa!”
The reporter threw up her hands in surrender. “Okay, I know when it’s pointless to argue!”
“And I think it’s the perfect opportunity to help Sylia and Priss with their relationship!”
“What?!” the two other women declared in unison.
“It’s okay, kiddo!” Nana said as she reached over and ruffled Nene’s hair. “I appreciate your trying to be discreet for my sake, but I’m sharper than you think. Sylia told me all about it last night. Or, I should say this morning. I think she could use a little group support in the matter.”
Nene blinked as she tried to process this. Then she looked at Lisa, whose mental wheels were clearly turning.
“Oh, so she was who Linna meant when she said Priss had a thing for a woman a couple of months ago!” Lisa remarked out loud. “Well, now I have to admit my curiosity is extremely piqued over this Sylia. The idea of a get-together sounds like it would be fun! But no pressure about Linna!”
Nana held up her hand in an oath. “I give you a drunk’s swear! — So, Ne-chan, we should bring up this idea with Sylia when we get back. And we won’t take ‘no’ for an answer!”
“Uhhh…” Nene managed to say. She looked at the mildly smiling Lisa and then back at her mother. She forced a wide grin and said, “Okay. I can’t imagine why she’d say ‘no.’…”
— End Chapter 37 —
* * *
Monday Morning, November 14th
From the image on Nene’s work terminal, Linna blinked and tried to absorb the idea of Sylia and Priss being romantically involved. She finally blurted, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”
Nene shook her head adamantly as she shoved a pretzel into her mouth, never mind the fact that she had already had a huge breakfast. “My mom may have been drunk but she was completely serious! I can’t imagine how she would have come up with that if she hadn’t talked to Sylia.”
“Did you confirm it with Sylia?”
“No, she wasn’t around when we came back. And Priss was asleep. I’m hoping Mom forgot about the whole dinner party idea.” Nene blushed and added, “I’m not sure I know how to even ask if Sylia and Priss are together. Do you think you could try to bring it up with either of them? I’m sure you would get farther than I would.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Linna said with a shake of her head. “If it is true, neither one of them has said anything to me. Although I admit they hang around each other a lot more these days because of those white noise tests.”
Nene mulled that over a bit and said, “Well, the way my mom said it, it sounds like it was just starting. Maybe something happened with all of their time together in the lab.” She stopped as if something just crossed her mind. “I think I have a way to check but it’ll have to wait until tonight, when I go back over there.”
Linna frowned, clearly still skeptical. “Priss is single, but Sylia has Nigel.”
“Wasn’t she with Nigel when you two had your drunken make-out session?” Nene asked seriously.
Linna’s face went into instant blush-mode. “Well, okay. — But it wasn’t serious. That’s why we stopped.”
“Maybe it’s the same thing with Priss?”
“I guess that’s possible,” Linna said, not looking happy at the idea. She then took a breath and forced a cheerful smile. “I’ll try to bring it up when I talk to both of them. At worse, the answer will be ‘yes’? Right?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Nene answered. “Well, I’ll let you go now. I’ll give you a call later tonight. But if you get any info from them, let me know ASAP!”
Linna laughed and answered, “Will do! Bye bye, Nene!”
Once she had hung up the vidphone, Nene glanced over at Daley’s desk, wishing that he wasn’t in a meeting so she that could vent. She then looked at her picture of Mackey and let out a weary sigh.
* * * * *
Perched on the chair in the Pit control room, Nene opened her mouth but froze. What had originally been a great idea on how to find out something conclusive about the possible romance between Sylia and Priss now didn’t seem like such a good thing given that it was Sylvie she would be asking.
“How may I help you, Nene?” Sylvie prompted through the chat box.
The young woman took a breath and tried the first question, “So, how have the Priss scans been? Have you figured out any more about the white noise problem?”
“Not that much, I’m afraid. At least not through Priss’s scans. She’s been so mentally and emotionally closed up these days.”
“Really?” Nene asked, her curiosity considerably piqued. “I’ve noticed she seems a bit… different.”
“How so?” was the response question, showing Sylvie’s own curiosity.
“Like, um, she’s been thinking about someone a lot but won’t admit it. You know, her usual guarded behavior. I mean, I wish I knew more so I could help her, you know, prove to her that she can trust me. She’s like, uh, a big sister to me, you know. Any ideas who it could be?” Nene asked. Then she added quickly, “If there is someone, I mean.”
The screen didn’t change for a long time and Nene was afraid Sylvie was going to decline answering the question based on respecting Priss’s privacy.
However, Sylvie finally asked, “Do you think that thinking about someone a lot could mean romantic interest? Even if the things someone thinks about are not at all romantic?”
Nene let out a deep breath of relief and added, “Well, sure, as long as they’re not death fantasies. I mean, I found myself thinking about Mackey a lot before I realized I was falling in love with him. I would think Priss would be the same way if she was interested in someone… Or beginning to be.”
There was another long wait before Sylvie responded, “Sylia and I have talked about why Priss would seem to be so emotionally and mentally… blank. After all, she doesn’t know that I can read her strong emotions and thoughts. Sylia theorized that it’s possible that Priss isn’t being guarded against me, but against herself. As if Priss is finding herself thinking about things she doesn’t want to and the only way to stop is to stop herself from thinking them.”
“So, like she could be attracted to someone she doesn’t want to be?” Nene theorized.
“That could be one possibility.”
In the back of her mind, she thought about the night Priss became really angry with Sylia when it was revealed that the hardsuits were boomers. Then she thought about how she teased Leon about protesting too much in his obvious attraction to Jeena. Could this be a Priss version of the same thing? After all, it would make sense if Priss had been finding herself falling for a woman who had betrayed her.
Nene’s wristwatch suddenly beeped, signally that her time was up. She sighed and said, “Got to go up and meet my mom, Sylvie. But I’ll make sure to stop by tomorrow, too.”
“I’ll look forward to it.”
Minutes later, Nene peered into the dining room to find Sylia had just sat down while Henderson was opening the wine bottle in preparation for the elegant meal ahead. Priss sat quietly at the other end of the long table as she watched the activity in front of her.
“Oh, hello, Nene,” Sylia greeted with a smile. “I don’t think your mother has come down yet.”
“That’s okay. I’m ready to go whenever she is.” Trying not to be obvious about the way she studied both women, Nene then asked, “So, um, Sylia, have you talked to my mom at all today?”
She shook her head. “I haven’t seen her since you two went out last night. Why do you ask?”
Nene hesitated, giving a glance at Priss, who now looked a little curious. She laughed nervously and blurted, “Oh, nothing really! I just didn’t know if Mom had talked to you, that’s all.”
“Not yet, Ne-chan,” Nana said teasingly as she stepped forward from the doorway. “But I had planned to. – And I’m glad you’re both here, Sylia, Priss. Nene and I thought it would be a great idea to have a little dinner party with all of us, plus your roommate Linna, Priss, and Lisa Vanette.”
Both Sylia and Priss’s eyes widened slightly at the offer.
Behind her mother, Nene frantically waved and mouthed that the idea was not hers at all!
Sylia then smiled and said, “I think that would be a splendid idea, if we can wait until the weekend.”
Nene’s face fell, Henderson spilled some wine, and Priss gave Sylia a sharp look.
Sylia immediately responded with a cautious demeanor. “Of course, Priss, you don’t have to join us if you –”
“Oh nonsense!” Nana blurted. “Priss, I want you to join the fun! After all, it doesn’t make sense to have a get-together without you when you’re here, too. And good spirits enhance healing!”
Priss blinked at Nana and then forced a smile. “Well, it’s not like I’ve got anywhere else to be. And if Sylia’s okay with it.” She glanced at the other woman, who smiled smugly.
“It’s settled then!” Nana exclaimed merrily. “Well, we’ve got an entire week to plan. Come, Ne-chan, let’s let them have their quiet evening alone.”
Nene blinked and glanced at both Priss and Sylia. Priss was definitely giving her a glare to leave.
Henderson took his cue and quickly disappeared into the kitchen.
“Um, sure, Mom,” Nene said stiffly. “Let’s go.”
Waiting until more than enough time had passed for the mother and daughter to not only leave the room, but the building as well, Priss angrily blurted, “What the hell was that about! Allowing Lisa Vanette to come here and hang out with all of us?!”
With a mildly amused expression, Sylia stared at Priss for a moment before answering, “I think this is the perfect opportunity for me to finally meet this Ms. Vanette without causing any additional suspicion.”
Priss scowled. “Weren’t you the one threatening to kick Linna off the team if Lisa found out?”
Sylia shrugged. “Well, I guess it now means that the one truly responsible for any repercussions is me.”
“You might as well as put the hardsuits out in the lobby for when she comes over,” Priss muttered. “She’s going to piece everything together within five minutes of walking into this building.”
Sylia showed an overly thoughtful expression for a moment. “You’re right about that. Then we should have this gathering at a restaurant. I’ll make the arrangements tomorrow.”
Priss stared incredulously at the other woman. “You’re really going through with this? Why are you taking such a huge risk? You think you can play your little mind games with Vanette?”
After giving her a stare, Sylia took a sip of wine and answered simply, “I’m doing this as Linna’s friend.”
Priss blinked, clearly not expecting the answer and not understanding what it meant.
Sylia explained further, “I want to see what kind of chemistry the two of them have. I want to be able to give Linna my blessing, and I think this would be a start. After all, as her best friends, we should support her, right?”
Priss glared at her, her rage now doubled. She then focused on savagely eating her meal, clearly projecting the fact that she was now ignoring the other woman.
Sylia took another sip of wine, hiding her smirk behind the glass.
— End Chapter 38 —
* * *
Monday Night, November 14th
“I think we’re almost wrapped up here, Nene” Daley said as they walked back to his car. They had just spent two hours analyzing the scene of an apartment that had been raided for trafficking in the new steroid drug warp. “I can take care of the final paperwork so you can try to salvage your evening with your mom.”
She gave him a smile and said, “Trust me when I say that having to do work is almost a welcome break. Besides, Lisa is keeping her company now.”
As he unlocked the passenger door, he gave her a sympathetic smile and said, “Is Mom overstaying her welcome?”
“It’s not that!” Nene blurted quickly. Then she stopped and sighed. “It’s become so complicated. And I honestly don’t think it’s going to get any better, even after she goes back home… Can you picture Sylia and Priss being together?”
Daley blinked and then quietly walked to his side of the car. He finally said, “You mean, as in romantically?”
Nene nodded as she sat down in her seat.
He cleared his throat and said, “Well, I guess it’s possible. They’re both extremely attractive and intelligent women.”
“Yeah, I know that! But can you picture them together?” Nene persisted.
Now Daley looked more than a little uncomfortable. “Um, how much are you asking me to picture? I do have limits to my imagination you know.”
“No, that’s okay!” Nene added hastily, turning red herself. “It’s just that Mom said that Sylia told her about a growing romance between her and Priss. Neither Linna nor I saw any signs whatsoever.”
“Ah,” the man responded as he started to drive.
“And, Sylia didn’t mention anything about breaking up with Nigel. I mean, I just saw him the other day so he’s still doing things for her.”
“Well, maybe they have an open relationship? Or, their split was so amicable that they’re still able to work with each other even they’re no longer involved.”
Nene fell into a troubled silence. She softly said, “I don’t know if I could handle being just friends with Mackey after everything we’ve been through.”
“Sometimes you don’t have a choice in the matter.”
“Like Leon and Priss? But they’re not friends.”
“Not yet. But you have to keep in mind that they broke up only a few months ago. He only stopped talking about Priss since he’s been busy with the CU.”
“I think it’s because he’s been hanging around Jeena,” Nene said with a smirk.
Daley grinned and said, “Do you honestly think he’s got a crush on her?”
Nene grinned back and said, “What do you think?”
The man finally laughed and said, “Things are going to be interesting when she comes back to work next week.”
“WHAT?! She’s coming back? Permanently?! Why didn’t anyone tell me?!”
“Hey, I just found out tonight since Yuuji just talked to her.”
“So how’s her arm?”
“They’ve got her fitted with a temporary mechanical prosthetic while her real one is being made. Then it’s one more major surgery and physical therapy going forward.”
“That has got to be really weird!”
“From what I understand about boomer prosthetics, it should feel like her own arm again. The only differences this time will be how it looks and the fact that you wouldn’t want to arm wrestle her – at least not without a hard suit.”
Nene giggled and said, “Then Leon really better behave himself this time around.”
* * * * *
Reika looked thoroughly amused on the vidscreen as she asked, “And just what are you going to do when Priss finds out about your little ‘relationship’, as you know she will?”
Alone in the Pit control room, Sylia casually took a sip of wine and settled back in her chair. “Well, I’m certain it will make things very interesting around here, hmm?”
Reika shook her head and chuckled to herself. “You always were dangerous when you were bored.”
“And I don’t recall you ever being the unwilling participant.”
“I always made certain to put up at least a minute’s worth of protest every time,” she responded with a grin. “Just for the record, knowing what kind of time bomb you’ve got going on over there, I’m staying clear until Professor Romanova’s gone. For all I know, I may end up being explained away as Henderson’s long lost love-child or something.”
Sylia suddenly sat up, as if an idea just struck her.
“Oh, I know that look…” Reika mused.
Her ex shook her head. “No, this is something quite serious. I think you may have given me a solution to another problem that I’ve been working on.”
Reika blinked. “I don’t even want to know what other ‘projects’ you might have cooking over there.” She glanced at her watch and added, “It’s time for me to turn in. I’ve got a day full of meetings tomorrow. Call me when it’s safe to come over again. Bye.”
After the call had ended, Sylia quietly mulled over this latest idea.
She was about to start typing into the computer when she heard the beep signalling another incoming call.
“Oh, hello, Linna,” Sylia greeted her once the vidscreen popped up. “I’m glad you called. I’ve been meaning to call you and find out how your date with Lisa went.”
Dressed in her pajamas and stretched out on her bed, Linna blushed and answered, “Well, um, that’s kind of why I’m calling. I just got the message from Nene that you were okay with the idea of all of us having dinner with Lisa and Nene’s Mom? Is that true?”
Sylia smiled and nodded. “I think this is the perfect opportunity for me to meet Lisa, especially after hearing so much about her… Unless you don’t want me to?”
“No, not at all!” Linna blurted. Then she added sheepishly, “I’m just a little surprised is all… But I guess there’s nothing new there.”
“That almost sounds like you feel left out on something,” Sylia mused. “Anything I can shed some light on?”
Linna opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. After pausing for a moment, she broke out into a smile and asked, “So how are things with Nigel?”
Sylia stared at her for a moment and then broke out into a grin. “We’re the same as always….Was that all you wanted to know?”
Realizing that the other woman’s responsive smile was a sign that she wasn’t as subtle as she had hoped, Linna tried to ignore her own growing blush and answer, “Well… uh, how are things with Priss? Are you two getting along?”
“Did she say we weren’t?” Sylia asked with a curious tilt of her head.
“No – no! She didn’t,” Linna shook her head adamantly. “I — I just haven’t had a chance to talk to her is all. I always get her voice mail when I’ve called today.”
“Oh, she’s probably sleeping. I’m sure she’ll call you tomorrow when she wakes up.” Sylia then took a sip of her wine and said, “So how was the date?”
Linna grinned and said, “I had a great time. And it seems she did, too, given that she wanted to go out again. I think establishing ground rules for emergencies really worked for both of us.”
“And she didn’t ask about Knight Sabers?”
“Not a word.” Linna looked rather pleased. “It was nice be with without any… extenuating circumstances for a change.”
Sylia studied her for a moment before smiling herself. “I’m glad to hear it’s going so well. I do look forward to meeting her at this dinner… Does Saturday night work for you?”
“Well, she and I had planned to get together again but if we’re both going to this dinner, it might work out.” Linna then broke out into a yawn. “Sorry – Spending all day trying to pull apart programming code is getting to me. Call me when you have the details.”
“Certainly. And I’ll remind Priss that you called,” Sylia added. “Goodnight.”
When she had disconnected the call again, Sylia once again settled in her chair and stared at the blank screen before her. Then remembering her interrupted task, she started to tap into the computer keyboard to continue working.
* * * * *
Priss stared up at the ceiling, taking in the hazy, subtle green and blue lighting coming from the aquarium on the other side of the far wall. Even though it had only been two days since the accident, she had stopped taking her pain medication, which meant her nights of peaceful sleep were gone.
However, unlike at the apartment, Priss noticed a peaceful silence while staying in the Silky Doll. She had suffered a low level of white noise ever since she came back to Tokyo but had never been able to put her finger on it until now.
Priss wondered if this was really a warning sign.
She held up her arm, the one that had been fractured. It only took a flex of her hand to confirm her suspicion that the limb was completely healed. She didn’t bother testing her leg the same way because she knew it would be healed, too.
She put down her arm and looked over at the empty spot in the bed next to her. She stifled a sigh and returned to staring at the ceiling.
— End Chapter 39 —