BGC Post 2040 File 6 – 11: 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.
Tuesday Noon, November 15th
Linna jumped at the feeling of her phone vibrating in her shirt pocket. Glad for a break from the current topic of conversation, she excused herself from her coworkers to take the call in private a few yards away.
“Oh, hi, Priss!” she greeted warmly as she stood by herself in the Chang Enterprises courtyard.
“Hey, I didn’t interrupt anything, did I?” the singer asked, apparently stretched out on a lounge chair by Sylia’s rooftop pool. “I waited until you were on your lunch break before calling.”
Linna shook her head wearily. “You just spared me another heated debate on the effectiveness of sailor suits as battle uniforms. If anything, I just spent the last half hour thinking that there’s no justice in this universe if any of them marry before I do. – Unless their marriages are arranged, of course. And if so, Heaven help their wives.”
Priss chuckled, “Are you sure they weren’t trying to impress you with their vast knowledge on the subject matter?”
She rolled her eyes in response. “If Lisa had wanted to have such a discussion on our date, I think I would have reconsidered wanting to see her again.”
Priss blinked and then forced a small smile. “Speaking of whom, have you confirmed if she’s coming to dinner Saturday?”
“Yep, she’s going to come,” Linna said with a smile. “And I guess I am, too… Are you?”
“Yeah, it seems I don’t have a choice in the matter,” Priss muttered.
Linna giggled, “I can imagine if what I’ve heard about Nene’s Mom is true. I have to admit, though, I’m looking forward to meeting her. But I still can’t get over the fact that Sylia seems to be okay with all of us having dinner not only with Nene’s Mom but Lisa as well. I just hope that no crisis breaks out, at least nothing greater than what the CU can handle.”
Priss frowned and remarked, “I think Sylia’s playing Queen Bitch again with her mind games. You know how she likes to amuse herself with others’ discomfort sometimes.”
“Well, at least she never tried to run someone over with her motorcycle.”
Nailed by that comment, Priss eyes widened and her face turned red.
Turning serious, Linna was quiet for a moment as she mulled that comment over. Then she looked at Priss seriously and asked, “So, do you think she would play mind games with someone like Nene’s Mom?”
The singer looked startled, as if the thought had never crossed her mind. “Nana? I don’t think so. They seem to get along pretty well in the genuine sense. I guess it’s like she’s being on her best behavior since Nana is someone’s mother.”
“Oh, like how you were with my mom?” Linna noted with a giggle.
Priss turned red in response.
She then cleared her throat and said, “Look, I gotta to go and find Sylia. She seems to have disappeared and isn’t answering her phone.”
“Is there something wrong?” a now curious and worried Linna asked.
Priss opened her mouth but then seemed to change her mind as she shook her head. “Nothing you need to know about right now. I’ll see you Saturday?”
“…Um, sure. Saturday then.”
* * * * *
Yawning from an afternoon nap, Priss stepped out of the elevator to find Sylia sitting on her couch with an opened book on her lap.
The singer paused in her steps when she realized her presence hadn’t been noticed by the way Sylia stared ahead at the sunset over the Tokyo cityscape.
The other woman jumped a bit at the sound of her name and turned to greet her guest. Her smile instantly faded as she noted how Priss stood without any need for the support of the crutch she carried.
“It looks like we’ve got something to talk about,” she surmised.
Priss held up the arm in the cast and flexed her hand for show. “Yep.”
Half an hour later in the Pit, Priss approached Sylia as she sat quietly studying the read out of her fresh scans.
Even though she was a little nervous about the results, she was more preoccupied by another nagging mystery.
“You don’t seem to be surprised by this,” she noted as she sat down in the nearby chair, propping the useless crutch against the control panel.
Sylia didn’t turn from the data flying in across the computer screen in front of her. “I’m not. I thought it was rather curious that you had gone through your other motorcycle incident with very little damage to yourself considering that your bike and clothes were almost thrashed. ”
“Oh.” Priss had wondered about that too but had brushed it off as good reflexes.
“Well, your hunch is correct,” Sylia finally said. “You’re completely healed when you definitely shouldn’t be.”
“Is it boomer related?” Priss asked cautiously.
“Would there be any other source?” Sylia asked with a grim smile as she turned her attention to the diagram of the scan she had just done on Priss’s body. “It’s a good thing for you to keep bandages and cast on, at least while Nana’s here. Unless you’re able to act like you believe in miracles, we’d have more than a little explanation to do.”
Priss frowned as she looked down at her wiggling toes. “I, um, don’t know if it’ll help, but I realized that I don’t suffer from any white noise while I’m here. I mean, there’s always some level in the background since I came back to Tokyo, and I guess with all of the craziness, I just kind of ignored it until now.”
“Is this your way of asking if you can move in here permanently?” Sylia asked with a smirk in her tone.
Priss bit down her irritation at Sylia’s seeming lack of seriousness. “No, I just didn’t know if that might help get to the bottom of how to stop it for good.”
Sylia was quiet for a moment before she answered, “The lack of white noise in this building isn’t coincidental. I suffer worse levels than you do, while Linna and Nene suffer the least. I just didn’t know you suffered it chronically — otherwise I would have offered to build something like the dampening collar I used when we had our confrontation with Sylvie. But then with your motorcycle accidents, I should have realized that your levels were a lot more sensitive than I had previously assumed.”
“What does that collar do anyway?” Priss asked, her own curiosity piqued at the idea of having something that would make it safe for her to ride her motorcycle again.
“It nullifies the frequency of the white noise, at least in the emissions spectrum range that we’ve recorded,” Sylia explained as she turned in her chair to finally give Priss her full attention. “I don’t think it would be too surprising to tell you that Nigel and I have theorized that white noise is caused by the fact that each of us to some degree is still mentally receptive to boomer mental emissions, like radio waves. But it takes a lot of power to do dampening and the collar doesn’t have a long life before it needs to be recharged.”
“So the white noise nickname is really very accurate.”
Sylia nodded. “Our human brains are too sophisticated to understand the post-revolution boomer thoughts, so that’s why we register it as overbearing garbled noise. They may be far less sophisticated, but they are still living beings after a fashion.
“When Nigel and I studied the post-revolutionary boomer cores, we realized that they were automatically projecting their thoughts through whatever means they had as communication, which was usually a radio frequency link. Sort of like a boomer’s version of talking out loud to itself. Since we can’t stop all white noise boomers from projecting, the theory behind the collar is to have it be white noise ear plugs, in a manner of speaking.”
“Oh,” Priss responded as she tried to digest the information. “But what do you think is the connection to my phenomenal healing rate?”
“You partially fused with your hardsuit during the Galatea crisis. Even I haven’t done that. At some unconscious level, you could have facilitated a quicker pace to basic autonomous bodily functions, such as healing. It would make sense if you have little boomer bits running through your system that you never got rid of, sort of like nanobots. But it’s only a theory at this point.”
Priss stood and said, “Well, it’s the best explanation I can absorb right now.”
Sylia looked at her for a moment and then said sincerely, “Priss, it may not be such a bad thing to have as an ability. Especially with your KS duties.”
Priss frowned to herself and remarked, “Yeah, well, curse or blessing, it doesn’t seem like I’ve got a choice for the time being.”
Sylia conceded the point with a nod. “I will try to get to the bottom of it and see what options you’ve got, if any. In the meantime, you’ll just have to hone your acting skills around Nana so you don’t raise her suspicions.”
“Guess I don’t have a choice there either,” Priss said with a sigh. “Well, I can act when I have to even though I’d prefer not to.”
Sylia paused and then smirked. “Oh, I have confidence that you can do it.”
There was something subtly provoking about Sylia’s words and expression that Priss couldn’t quite put her finger on. She chose to ignore it and said, “Well, let’s go have dinner. I’m sure Nana’s wondering where we are.”
* * * * *
Wednesday Early Morning, November 16th
Admitting defeat to insomnia, Priss sat at the table in the kitchen, nursing a cup of tea. At the sound of footsteps in the hallway, she glanced at the wall clock and saw that it was 4:30 a.m. Priss frowned to herself because she didn’t think that Henderson got up this early to prepare breakfast.
Then an impeccably dressed Nana appeared suddenly at the kitchen door and the women exchanged a startled look.
“Um, good morning, Nana,” Priss greeted carefully. She had purposefully gone out of her way to avoid spending time alone with Nene’s Mother for the simple fact that she didn’t know what she would talk about with the woman.
Nana broke out into a friendly and pleased smile. “Well, hello, Priss. I’ve not run into you at this time before. You must have the sporadic sleeping patterns of an artiste.”
“Yeah, you could say that,” Priss admitted, keeping her tone as pleasant as possible. She eyed the power suit Nana wore. “You look ready to go.”
“I always get an extra charge when I have morning lectures,” she explained as she rummaged through the cupboards for coffee ingredients. “Even though I retired as a full-professor five years ago, I still love the thrill of teaching. And speaking of passions, Ne-chan tells me you’ve taken a break from your singing, even before you were hurt. Are you anxious to go back to it?”
Priss stared down at her cup for a moment. Then she held up her cast and said, “Right now, I’ve got to focus on one thing at a time. Can’t really get on stage in this condition, after all.”
“I see.” Nana turned on the stove to boil the kettle of water before she sat down at the table, too. She seemed to be subtly studying the younger woman, which the latter was pretending not to notice.
“I also understand that you don’t normally live here. That you live with another of Ne-chan’s friends, Linna.”
Priss nodded. “Yeah, we’re all kind of connected socially, so everyone knows each other. It was just convenient for me to move in here temporarily since Sylia has the space and the money to handle another house guest, especially one in my condition.”
“That’s good…” Nana fell into a momentary silence as she was clearly trying to dig up another question.
Priss couldn’t think of a reason to get up and leave without being completely rude. But in her discomfort, she was thinking that that was the best option right now.
However, before she could do anything, Nana asked, “I assume you met my daughter through Sylia?”
Momentarily forgetting her retreat plan, Priss appeared a little startled and then nodded. “Yeah, you could say that. Sylia’s kind of the glue that holds us all together.”
Nana grinned confidently and said, “She is a really remarkable young woman. In the past few days I’ve already come to think of her as my own daughter. She has such a warm, wonderful heart that’s clearly filled with a lot of passion. Don’t you think so?”
Priss had to subtly chew on her lower lip to keep from blurting out any contradictory or clarifying remark. She nodded and said, “Yeah, Sylia’s so… so… so… special, that way.”
Nana frowned slightly at the way Priss was clearly digging for words. She then reached over and clasped Priss’s free hand and said, “Priss, I’ll be honest. Sylia has told me that she’s concerned that you aren’t more open about your feelings.”
“Uh… okay,” a clearly bewildered Priss responded as she tried to process this.
On one hand, she was starting to feel indignant that Sylia would psychoanalyze her with a stranger. However, a trait Priss found annoying and was appreciative of about Nene was a positive heart-on-her-sleeve quality, that seemed to be shared by her mother. It was hard to be completely pissed at someone who genuinely wanted to help.
Nana took advantage of the other woman’s thoughtfulness by saying, “I mean, no one’s expecting a complete change overnight. But effort speaks volumes to someone who’s waiting for you to respond. Or, if you’re truly not interested, then you just be open and set the boundaries so there are no false expectations and painful repercussions down the road. It’s only fair to both of you.”
Seeing that the singer seemed to be receptive to what she was saying, Nana decided to go for the heart by saying, “Sylia cares about you so much. But if you don’t let her know, she’s going to eventually give up and move on. And she’s just too good of a catch to let slip through your fingers like that, especially when I see that you really care about her, too.”
Now Priss was staring right at the other woman. There was a long pause, as if the singer hadn’t heard any part of the plea.
Then she said very slowly and very distinctly, “I’m sorry but could you please repeat that last part again?”
So Nana did, and added, “Dear, Sylia told me everything. And she truly wants to take your relationship to the next level but she’s feeling like you’re not interested in doing so. I admit I speak as an outsider but I think you’d be passing up on a wonderful opportunity with a woman like her.”
Priss’s mental wheels were now burning rubber in her brain. She mulled out loud, “And so I’ve unfortunately appeared as if I’m the unaffectionate and even callous lover, or even to the point of taking advantage of her.”
Nana nodded sheepishly, “Yes, well honestly, Dear, if the shoe fits… That’s why I’m trying to warn you now before there’s too much damage created in your relationship.”
Then Priss took a deep breath and smiled widely at the other woman. “Nana, I am so grateful that you showed just how blind I was to Sylia’s true feelings for me. I will certainly treat her in the way she deserves.”
Nana looked immensely pleased and said, “I am so glad to hear that. — But don’t tell her that I kind of pushed you into this. I just couldn’t resist though.”
“I’m glad you did,” Priss answered honestly. Meanwhile she was thinking, That fucking bitch!
— End Chapter 40 —
* * *
Wednesday Afternoon, November 16th
“That was a truly interesting lecture, Nana,” Sylia declared as the two of them settled on separate couches in her living room. “I’m very glad I went.”
The professor grinned as she stretched her limbs and said, “I think your presence was a mixed blessing. Half of my class was obviously far more interested in you than in my lecture.”
Sylia giggled and said, “Then should I stay home from now on?”
“Oh, heck no! The questions you asked made them think and respond, especially those who were going out of their way to impress you,” Nana responded with a wink. “In fact, I’d like it if you were present at all of my lectures.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Oh, you’re both back,” Priss said with a smile as she approached from the doorway, walking carefully with the aid of her crutch. “Sylia, we missed you at breakfast.”
“Oh, sorry about that,” Sylia said to both of them. “I didn’t fall asleep until late. I woke up barely in time to catch the beginning of Nana’s lecture.”
The professor added, “Priss, you should have seen the instant transformation of three hundreds students when Sylia in her elegant pantsuit walked in and sat down in the front row. It became so quiet that you could almost hear the sudden increase in heartbeats.”
Sylia laughed. “Now that’s an exaggeration! Although, I will admit it was awkward at the end dealing with the crowd of college boys asking if I was going to return.”
“Well, that’s my Sylia!” Priss declared with a proud smile as she sat down right next to the woman in question and put her arm around her shoulder. “Always the center of attention! Good thing I’m not the jealous type!”
Even though she was still smiling, Sylia’s eyebrow raised slightly at the hand on her shoulder. Settling back against the arm, she smiled and said, “So, Priss, what did you do all morning?”
“This and that,” she answered with a shrug. “Trying not to go stir crazy until I’m completely mobile again. By the way, you should have let me know when you wanted to get up. I would’ve woken you in plenty of time,” she said with a wink.
Meanwhile, Nana sat on the opposite couch with a very pleased grin on her face as she looked at the two women.
“By the way, have we decided where we’re going to have this group dinner?” Priss asked.
“I meant to bring that up with the two of you,” Sylia said. “There’s this very nice Italian restaurant that I was introduced to a couple of months ago. I’d like to go back there again.”
“That sounds wonderful!” Nana declared.
Priss, however, winced and let out a slight groan of reluctance.
Sylia looked at her in mild surprise. “Oh? Priss, you don’t like Italian food?”
“Oh, it’s not that,” Priss said with a shake of her head. “But I’m guessing it’s one of those really expensive joints, right?”
“The dinner will be my treat for everyone,” Sylia responded simply. “I know you’re not working right now, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Yeah, but…” Priss looked as if she was still uncomfortable with the idea. She then let out a reluctant sigh and said, “I’m just concerned because every time we go to fancy restaurants together, you always dress like a high-priced call girl. –”
Sylia’s eyes narrowed while Nana’s widened.
“-The way those men look at you, well, it just takes all of my willpower to keep from beating them to a pulp and telling them you’re mine.” She then gave Nana an apologetic smile, “Not that I’m complaining, Nana, I love the way she looks when she dresses to kill, but men are such lechers and it’s really annoying when they’re drooling over her!”
“Oh, um, maybe we can eat somewhere, um, less public,” Nana added hastily.
“Oh, it’s no problem, Nana,” Sylia said with a smooth smile at both of them. “I’ll just tone down my wardrobe for the evening. I’m sorry, Priss, I never realized I made you so uncomfortable.”
Priss grinned at her and said, “Well, I’m just trying to get a little more open about my feelings, Honey. That’s all.”
She then looked at Nana and said, “Have you really looked at the clothes she stocks downstairs? Sylia knows how to bring out the best in the female anatomy. Like I said, it’s a good thing I’m not the jealous type or I’d be concerned that she’d molest half her customers.”
“Oh… really…” Nana said as she stared at both of them. She was at a complete loss as to what she should say, if anything, at this point in the conversation.
Sylia smiled through gritted teeth and said, “As long as we’re being honest, Darling, I personally love it when you dress up sexy for me when we go out. In fact, the only time I see you in a mini-skirt these days is when I see your old music videos.”
Priss’s face turned red as she swallowed the first reply that came to her tongue.
“In fact,” Sylia said as she put her head on Priss’s shoulder, “I would just love it if you wore one of my outfits from the store. — Nana, you would be amazed at the transformation, even if she’s wearing a cast. Priss has a really great body that I know I never become tired of seeing, even in public. — Priss, I’ll consider it as my personal payback for footing the bill. And I just might make it worth your while afterwards, if you know what I mean, Darling,” she said with a wink. “And besides, you don’t have anything you can wear with that cast.”
Nana blinked and stared at the two of them as they stared at each other.
Priss looked at her through a frozen smile and said, “Well, how can I turn down a deal like that? — Hey, Babe, now that you’re home, and since Henderson’s out at the moment, get me a beer.”
Sylia’s smile instantly disappeared, showing that waiting on Priss was the last thing on her mind.
In response, Priss grinned and gave her a kiss on the tip of her nose.
After a strained pause, Sylia stood and said, “Of course, Priss Darling. — Nana, can I get anything for you while I’m up?”
“Oh, um, tea would be nice, thank you. I can help –”
“No, no. Please sit. I’ll be back in a moment–”
“Isn’t she great?!” Priss exclaimed as she gave her ‘girlfriend’ a solid smack on the rearend.
Sylia jumped slightly but quickly flashed Nana a smile as she stiffly walked towards the direction of the kitchen.
Once they were alone, Priss grinned at Nana and said, “Well, I think she and I are doing pretty good.”
Nana replied with a weak smile, “Uh, I can see you’re making more progress than yesterday, at least.”
Priss smiled proudly and said, “Yeah, I think she and I have a really good chance.”
“Well, as long as you maintain open communication, Dear.”
The two of them spent a few minutes chatting about Nana’s lecture before Sylia reappeared with a tray with two steaming teacups and a large frosted mug of beer.
Priss grinned appreciatively, “Well, that definitely looks like first class service.”
Sylia gave her a wink and said, “Always the best for my guests and the ones I love. — Here you go, Nana.”
Sylia gave the other woman her drink, and then put her own teacup on the coffee table. She turned to take a step towards Priss but tripped on the edge of the piece of furniture. The beer mug went flying, but Sylia’s quick reflexes sprung into action as she snagged the mug in mid-air, saving the mug even though all of its contents splashed right on the singer.
“Oh my goodness! Priss Darling, I am SO sorry!” Sylia declared as she put the mug down.
“Oh dear!” Nana exclaimed as she jumped up. “I’ll go get some towels!”
Priss glared at her through squinted eyes as beer dripped down her hair and face. “It’s no problem, Babe. I’m sure it was an accident!”
“You’re so right, Priss,” Sylia said with an apologetic grin that bordered on a smirk, “Darling.”
* * * * *
Half an hour later…
With her hair dripping with water from her shower, Priss carried her crutch as she walked towards the kitchen, taking advantage of the fact that Nana was nowhere to be seen. She was on the hunt for a bottle of beer that was meant to be drunk this time.
She stopped in her tracks when she saw Henderson sitting at the table, slightly hunched with his hand clutched to his chest.
“Hey, Henderson,” she asked softly, “Are you okay?”
The elderly butler immediately straightened, apparently surprised at her appearance. “Oh, I’m fine, Miss Priss. Just a bit winded is all. Is there something I can get you?”
She stared at him for a moment and said, “No, I can get it myself. Stay put.” She then paused as a thought crossed her mind. “Hey, have you started cooking dinner yet?”
“I was just about to.”
“Then stop. I’ll cook tonight so you can take the evening off.”
“But your arm and -”
“No problem. I’m boomer-healed anyway. The cast is just for show for as long as Nana’s staying here.”
“Oh. But I really should -”
“Henderson, sit!” she ordered with a grin. “It would give me a great deal of pleasure to be able to pay back Sylia for her kindness every once in a while… Tell you what, you can even sit back and watch if it’ll make you feel better. But I would rather you took the rest of the afternoon off and relax. I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”
Though still appearing reluctant, the butler nodded and said, “I admit, Miss Priss, I would like an opportunity to, um, catch my breath in my room.”
“Good! Just show me where everything is before you go…”
* * * * *
Sylia and Nana walked into the dining room to see Henderson and Priss sitting at the table.
“It smells delicious, Henderson,” Sylia declared as she sat down at her usual spot at the head of the table. She looked down at the steaming bowls of seafood and tomato stew and took another appreciative sniff.
He blushed and said, “Actually, Mistress Sylia, Priss asked to cook dinner tonight.”
Sylia’s eyes narrowed slightly at Priss but Nana immediately blurted in amazement, “In your current condition, Priss? Aren’t you supposed to be healing?”
“I told you, I was feeling restless,” Priss stated with a grin. She held up her glass as a toast and said to Sylia, “Babe, you want to do the honors?”
Henderson frowned in slight confusion at the name of affection but kept quiet.
“Of course,” Sylia said as she held up her glass. “Best of health and happiness to everyone!”
“Cheers!” they responded.
“Oh, this is sooo delicious, Priss!” Nana exclaimed on her first sip of the stew.
Sylia watched the exchange between them as she took a sip herself. After a swallow, she started to violently cough into her napkin.
“Are you all right, Dear?!” Nana exclaimed in worry as the other two stared at her in concern.
Teary-eyed and red faced, Sylia tried to wave away their worry and get her coughing under control. “I’m all right,” she managed to croak. “I was caught off-guard by, um, how spicy it was.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Babe!” Priss said, “I didn’t know you that don’t like spicy food.” She then flashed her an apologetic smile showing too many teeth.
Sylia narrowed her eyes at her.
Nana and Henderson then stared at their own bowls.
Nana took another sip and said, “Well, it does have a little bit of a kick as a mild flavoring. Perhaps you got a piece of pepper in yours?”
Henderson swallowed his spoonfull carefully and said, “Mine is excellent, Miss Priss.”
“Thanks, Henderson. Sylia, I can cook something else for you if you don’t think you can handle that bowl,” Priss added quickly before Henderson could volunteer cooking something himself.
Looking a bit reluctant, Sylia glanced at Nana and then back at Priss. She then took a fortifying breath and said, “No thank you, Priss Darling. I’ll just have to learn to avoid any peppers.”
She directed a lingering stare at Priss, who smirked behind her cup.
— End Chapter 41 —
* * *
Wednesday Night, November 16th
Carrying a glass of thick, pinkish liquid, Priss stopped in her tracks when she turned the corner to find Nana standing uncertainly in front of Sylia’s closed bedroom door. It was only nine o’clock, but it felt later with Sylia turning in early due to a bad reaction to dinner.
“Nana? Is there something I can help you with?”
The older woman gave Priss a worried look and said, “I wanted to check on Sylia, but if she’s asleep, I don’t want to wake her up.”
“Don’t worry about her too much. I promise you she’s a heck of a lot tougher than she looks. She’ll be fine after a good night’s sleep,” Priss reassured her. She held up the glass and said, “Besides, I’m here to check on her, too.”
“Of course,” Nana conceded with a genuinely pleased expression. “Please take good care of her, Dear. I’ll see both of you in the morning.”
Priss waited until Nana had disappeared into her own room before gently knocking on Sylia’s bedroom door. She pushed the intercom button and said into the speaker, “It’s Priss. I’ve got something that might help your stomach.”
There was a long pause before the door slid open, allowing entry into the dark room.
Priss stepped in and placed her crutch against the wall just as Sylia reached over to turn on the lamp on her nightstand. As the door slid shut behind her, the singer tried not to be too distracted by her first view of Sylia’s bedroom.
Still dressed in her bathrobe, Sylia returned to her previous position of being curled up on her side while clutching a water bottle to her abdomen. Her face looked quite pale as she stared at the glass Priss carried over to her.
“And how many extra peppers did you put in this one?” Sylia asked dryly.
“Oh, five or six. The same amount as dinner,” Priss said as she walked over. “You know, eating half the bowl was brave. Eating the full bowl was stupid. If you were anyone else, I’d call you ‘Dumb Ass.’ What point were you trying to prove?”
The other woman gave her a look and answered simply, “If I had served you that same bowl of stew under the same circumstances, would you have eaten it?”
Priss blinked and thought about that for a moment. She finally blushed and muttered, “Just remind me never to follow right behind you in battle anymore.”
“That’s all right. I’ll just send you in first next time.” Sylia retorted as she took the glass and sniffed at the liquid. She then took a sip and grimaced slightly. “Well, it tastes like it’ll either make my stomach worse or I’ll be cured as soon as I drink it.”
“It’ll be somewhere in the middle,” Priss said as she sat down on the unoccupied side of the bed.
With color slowly returning to her face, Sylia smirked slightly and said, “Nana, isn’t around, Priss. You don’t have to keep up the girlfriend act in here.”
“We both know you suck at taking care of yourself, so I’m not leaving until you empty the glass,” Priss said. She looked at her cast as well as the brace on her leg. “Is there any way we can change these to versions I can take on and off? At least for as long as Nana’s here?”
Sylia nodded as she tried to sit up so that she could drink better. “So tell me, why did you decide to play along with the girlfriend gag? I thought you would blow it up once you found out.”
Priss stared at Sylia for a moment and then answered, “Yes, I wanted to break your legs when I found out you were making me look like an asshole behind my back. But once I calmed down a bit, I realized it would probably spare me having Nana pry too much into areas of my personal life that I don’t want her in. After all, once she’s gone, we can always feed a story back through Nene of how I dumped you.”
Sylia blinked in offense but then chuckled. “Very well. If that’s what it takes to get your compliance. Although it hasn’t escaped me that we seem to be calling a truce when it’s my turn to retaliate.”
Priss grinned and said, “I have to get into your hardsuits naked. I grew up on the streets; I’m not stupid.”
There was a moment of silence before Priss cleared her throat and said carefully, “Henderson didn’t look too good this afternoon.”
Sylia was quiet even longer, taking a sip of her medicine before replying, “He’s been that way for a while. But he insists on working.”
Priss looked at Sylia out of the corner of her eye. Not seeing any additional comment coming from the other woman, she asked, “What are you going to do when he’s no longer able to work?”
“Well, since there are some very big secrets in this building, I guess I’m going to have to learn how to cook. I’d ask you if you’d want the job but I don’t think I’m too keen on eating your stew again any time soon,” Sylia added dryly. She then looked at Priss directly and asked, “Do you have any plans for when you’re ready to sing again?”
Priss didn’t answer right away, giving the question some serious thought. “I had this dream of singing in stadiums a long time ago. But after spending three years on the road singing the world in the club circuit, I have to admit, there’s something to be said for having fans who truly appreciate my music and not just an image some P.R. machine would crank out. Besides, I like having a home these days, even if I’m not staying there at the moment… Why do you ask?”
Sylia gave a mild shrug. “Just wanted to know if there was any sort of assistance I could offer.”
“You mean, like being a financial backer or something?” Priss asked, her expression bordering on amazed and skeptical.
“If it was something you truly needed. It’s not like I don’t have the money to spare after all.”
Priss shook her head to herself and muttered, “That’s a fine thing to offer now after we’ve already known each other for over five years!”
Sylia swallowed a smirk. “I had other priorities at the time. After all, you can’t go out on a Knight Saber mission when you have a stadium concert to perform.”
“Well, the same is true now… Is this your way of checking what’s truly more important to me? My music or being a Knight Saber?”
Sylia merely stared back at her, as if waiting for the answer.
Priss met the stare for what seemed like minutes. She finally turned her gaze to the ceiling and said, “I may not ask for the backing now, but I’m keeping it in mind for the future. I have to have a dream, you know.”
The other woman chuckled as she took another sip of the pink concoction. “That’s fair.”
“… What’s your dream?”
“People like me aren’t allowed to have dreams,” Sylia answered softly. “Otherwise, we would really seem spoiled.”
Priss again looked at Sylia out of the corner of her eye, seeing no hint of any jest in the other woman’s expression as she nursed the cup before her. She frowned to herself and took a deep breath.
“So, how much money are you willing to put up for me and the band?” Priss asked lightly.
Sylia’s wry smirk returned as she countered with, “What expensive things would you like me to write a check for?”
“Well, new equipment would be a start, and that includes a mobile sound system…”
* * * * *
Thursday Morning, November 17th
Squeezing her already closed eyes against the morning light, Priss let out a soft groan as she nuzzled deeper into the soft, smooth skin. — Skin?!
Priss’s eyes flew open to look right into the face of the very awake and very amused Sylia, whose bare shoulder she had been snuggled against.
Sylia grinned and gave her a kiss on the tip of the nose.
With lightning-fast reflexes, Priss lurched back, so abruptly that she fell over the edge of her side of the bed.
“Shit!” Priss muttered as she tried to get to her feet as well as fight down a blush.
Sylia was already up and tightening her robe. She paused and smiled at Priss, “Thank you for moving. I’ve needed to go to the bathroom for a half an hour, but I didn’t have the heart to wake you up because you were just too adorable.”
“Shut up and go pee, damnit!” Priss growled, realizing she had also fallen asleep in her jeans and t-shirt, with the cast and brace on.
With Sylia in the bathroom, Priss grabbed the empty medicine cup and her crutch from the wall. Still quite tired, she was determined to finish her sleep in her room. The last thing she remembered was a conversation about the perfect performance setting for her band, which must have been when she finally drifted off to sleep.
She stepped out into the hallway and saw both Nana and Henderson turning the corner on their way to the kitchen.
Upon seeing Priss emerge from Sylia’s room so early in the morning, Nana grinned and Henderson’s eyes widened.
The singer gave them a stiff nod, handed the cup to the butler, and fake-limped back to her room. She knew her face was still completely red.
Priss didn’t know if she was more bothered by the fact that she had unintentionally provided humiliating amusement for Sylia. — Or that it was the best night’s sleep she remembered having in a long time.
— End Chapter 42 —
* * *
Thursday Noon, November 17th
“I’m glad we’re having this lunch first,” Linna declared as the two of them sat in the restaurant booth. “I think if we went directly from a first date to tomorrow’s dinner, I’d feel extremely awkward.”
Lisa chuckled as she took a sip of sake. “I assure you that I’m going to feel awkward anyway. I almost feel like I’m there to meet your family.”
Linna blushed slightly at the truth in that statement. She shook her head and said, “I assure you that my father would be a hundred times more difficult.”
“Oh, that’s more reassuring!” Lisa remarked with a smirk.
Now Linna really turned red. “Wait, I meant – oh, forget it! I’m sorry!”
Lisa reached over and squeezed her hand. “Has anyone ever told you how absolutely adorable you are when you blush?”
Even though her face was still red, Linna shrugged sheepishly and squeezed the caressing hand. “I’m usually too embarrassed to remember if anything like that was said.”
“Then I’ll claim that honor gladly,” Lisa declared.
Linna could see out of the corner of her eye that some of the other restaurant patrons were directing pointed looks at their handholding. She saw that Lisa didn’t seem to notice or even care, and that was good enough for Linna. She allowed herself to completely relax and enjoy the feeling of the other woman’s fingers locked in hers.
Lisa then flashed her own sheepish smile and said, “Speaking about meeting relatives, my sisters are insisting that they meet you as soon as possible. I think they were so shocked that I admitted interest in someone that they want to make certain I wasn’t making you up. But I told them when we’re actually girlfriends and not just dating each other, then I’ll arrange something.”
Linna widened her eyes and asked playfully, “Was that a hint or a warning?”
“A little of both,” Lisa admitted. “I promise if we get to that point, I’ll introduce my family to you one at a time. We Vanettes can be pretty overwhelming.”
“Hmm, I’ll keep that in mind,” Linna said. “…What else would you promise we’d do if we were girlfriends and not just dating?”
Lisa smiled at the challenge laid out before her. “Well, I’d like us to go away for weekend trips, perhaps to a hot spring. Providing both of our schedules allow for it.”
Her date nodded approvingly. “And what else?”
Lisa arched her eyebrows defiantly. “Excuse me, Ms. Yamazaki, you’d be in this relationship, too. I’m not going to play the man and do everything!”
Linna blinked and then laughed. “All right, all right. You’ve got a point. Um… I’d like to be able to practice karate with you.”
The other woman stared at her. “Linna, you really need to work on your concept of romantic.”
She giggled and said with a wink, “Um, okay, then how about we spar naked?”
Now looking intrigued, Lisa nodded and said, “I could find myself looking forward to that…”
* * * * *
Friday Night, November 18th
“-They’ve clearly got some rough spots,” Nana said, cradling her beer as they sat next to each other at a table in the karaoke bar, “but I think they’ve got a very good chance, especially after seeing Priss come out of Sylia’s room yesterday morning. I can tell you that her embarrassment was definitely not faked!”
“Oh… really,” Nene said, trying to keep from looking too shocked as she took a healthy chug from her own beer mug. She had drunk more alcohol in the past week than in the previous years of her life. “It sounds like the dinner tomorrow night will be very interesting.”
Nana looked at her glum daughter for a moment and then asked, “So have you spoken with Mackey at all this week?”
Nene suddenly sat bolt upright, as if she had received an electric shock. “Oh, he-he’s trying his hardest to finish up so he can get back here before you leave. He really wants to see you. And I want him to, too.”
“It’s okay, Honey,” Nana said, reaching and over and stroking her daughter’s cheek. “I’d worry if you made constant comments about how you’re glad he’s not around… Is this what you meant when you said you two wouldn’t have a normal relationship? Because of his work?”
Nene winced and hunched even more in her seat. “Well, that’s kind of a part of it… It’s just really complicated, Mom, and I don’t know where to begin…”
Nana watched as her daughter fell into a frustrated silence. She kissed her forehead and said, “Honey, you’re a big girl. I may not want to admit it because you’ll always be my baby, but you’re also a very strong and intelligent woman in your own right. I’ll gladly listen to anything you’re willing to tell me. But if you don’t feel comfortable in saying anything, then I’ll respect that. And your father will, too. If you can tell me that you believe Mackey loves you as much as you love him, then that will be enough.”
With a wince and a sigh, Nene snuggled into her mother’s embrace. She wanted be able to feel like she could end the conversation on that note, but it wasn’t enough for her. Not for a girl who had grown up feeling like she could tell her mother anything when it came to things which truly mattered.
“Mom, Mackey and I have never talked about having children, so I don’t know if he even wants any,” she said softly. “But I can definitely say that I know he can’t have any, not physically anyway.”
Nana stiffened in surprised but then forced herself to relax. “And here your father and I are always making a big scene about grandchildren. I’m sorry, Honey.”
“It’s okay, Mom,” Nene said, feeling a little better now that a small bit of truth was coming out, but definitely not enough to ease five years of hidden guilt. “It’s my fault too because I never told you… And there are other things I want to tell you, but I’m not ready to yet. But I’d like to tell you some day…”
“Don’t push yourself, Ne-chan. When the time is right, I’ll be here to listen…”
Nene smiled at the feel of another kiss on her forehead.
* * * * *
“… So what should we do about the other two?” Sylia said, tightening some screws on Priss’s new arm brace as they stood in the Pit. “At least to get us through tomorrow’s dinner.”
Priss made frowned and said, “You’re actually asking my opinion for a change? Humph, well, obviously Nene needs to be kept in the dark through out Nana’s entire stay because of her big mouth. -”
Sylia arched an eyebrow but said nothing.
” – And while Linna is very trustworthy, I think she’d be a horrible liar,” Priss said with a noticeable softening in her tone. “And we can’t take that kind of chance with both Nana and Vanette sitting at the same table.”
“I’ll take your cue when it comes to telling the other two,” the other woman stated as she finished up the final screw.
“Not bad,” Priss murmured as she looked at her left arm, now sporting a thick metal and plastic brace which looked sturdy but concealed the fact that it could be removed when a couple of hidden latches were flipped open. The brace around her right leg felt and weighed like a really light boot.
Leaning against the examination table nearby, Sylia admired the handy-work herself. “It’s quite effective. I’m surprised they were able to turn it around so quickly and without having to see you in person.”
“‘They’?” Priss repeated in mild surprise. “So it wasn’t Nigel who did this?”
“I do have other people who assist me on occasion,” Sylia explained as she turned her attention to packing up the medical kit and tools she had just used.
The other woman was quiet for a moment as a thought crossed her mind. “Hey, does Nigel know about… ‘us’?”
“You mean, about our passionate, steamy affair?” Sylia remarked dryly. “I would tell him if he had an appreciation for such things… Besides, why would I want to share with him just how cute you look when you drool in your sleep?”
“You–You’re lying!” Priss sputtered furiously.
“Am I?” Sylia said with the most obviously faked innocent expression. “Then I would also be lying if I said to him that you murmured a name in your sleep that wasn’t mine… And I think that would be rather amusing dinner conversation tomorrow.”
Her face flushed with red, Priss’s eyes widened as she glared speechlessly.
Sylia grinned back and stated, “But lucky for you, Priss Darling, I may have so many other things on my mind that it just might not come up… Oh, and by the way, you can choose any outfit you want from the store for dinner tomorrow. I’ll consider it a worthwhile donation… Unless, of course, you’d like me to choose one for you. Just let me know. I’m going to go take a bath now. You’re welcome to join me if you like.”
As she glared at the back of Sylia’s departing form, Priss wished she could drown that woman in the bath. After all, dead women didn’t tell lies or secrets.
— End Chapter 43 —