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.

Chapter 28

Saturday Evening, November 5th

Lisa Vanette sat cross-legged on the floor of her room, studying a video on her laptop with piles of vid-discs around her.

Fluffy, her large, longhaired gray and black cat was sprawled out next to her leg as he slept with a mild purr.

Nathan appeared at her open doorway and looked in. The tall, lanky man with the pony-tail and sideburns frowned curiously at the mess. “Hey, I thought you were done with the NTC article.”

She looked at him over the rim of her new glasses and said, “These ADP archives are more entertaining than what’s on TV right now. What’s up?”

“I’m ordering pizza. Do you and Furball want some?”

“He’ll pass but I’m game for splitting,” she answered in a deadpan tone. “Remember my anchovies this time!”

“Of course!” he answered in a friendly tone that meant she could forget about expecting them.

Once he was gone, Lisa returned her attention to the clip of a very dazed Linna Yamazaki standing in an alley after having been rescued from a rogue boomer attack by two Knight Sabers.

Lisa sighed and rubbed her eyes wearily.

“Well, Fluffy, this is a little too coincidental, don’t you think?” she said as she rubbed his head.

The cat peered open one eye at her, yawned and then covered his face with his front-leg before going back to sleep.

With the still picture of Linna on her screen, Lisa clicked on her hard drive and opened her old archive folders. It took her a few tries to find where she had placed her old articles but she found them shortly enough. A few more clicks and the image of a scanned article with photo monopolized the screen.

The main picture was of a seventeen year-old Linna Yamazaki in her track uniform as she crossed the finishing line in the lead of the other runners. The article, written by Lisa, had the headline “Kumamoto Wonder Beats Local Favorites Again!”

Lisa then looked at the picture of the older Linna in the alley and murmured softly, “The world is way too small sometimes…”

* * * * *

Sunday Afternoon, November 6th

Wondering how she had ended up in this predicament, Linna peered over her restaurant menu at Lisa Vanette, who seemed extremely preoccupied with choosing her lunch item.

Not more than fifteen minutes ago, Linna had been pushing her scooter down the street yet again when Lisa had pulled up in her car. A friendly offer for a lift had resulted in Linna inviting Lisa out to lunch as a “thank you” for the upcoming trip to Nigel’s garage.

What had been purely a casually polite meeting had now turned into extreme awkwardness for Linna. She tried frantically to feel comfortable in the presence of someone who triggered every internal alarm she had.

Lisa put down her menu and gave her a pleasant grin, apparently studying her for a moment. Then she said, “So did Nene tell you that I finally figured out where I had seen you before?”

“Um, yes, she did, but she said you wanted to tell me when the three of us went out to lunch,” Linna answered as she carefully put down her menu and took a sip of water.

Lisa narrowed her eyes at her with playful shrewdness and said, “You were on the track team for Kumamoto High, weren’t you?”

Linna almost spit out her water in amazement. “Well, yes! How did you recognize me?”

The reporter gave a smug grin and said, “When I was in high school, I did an internship at the local paper, so covering the school sports events was part of my regular beat.”

“Well, I’m impressed,” Linna said, suddenly turning playful, “that you would recognize me out of the many people you wrote about.”

Lisa’s face suddenly turned beet red in embarrassment and she stammered, “I – uh, I remembered you in particular because you came in first place a lot. You pissed off a lot of my friends in the process.”

Linna stared in amazement at the surprising reaction from a woman who gave her the impression of always being cool and confident.

“So, you never pursued sports professionally?” Lisa said, getting her cool composure back.

She shook her head and said, “I loved sports because it gave me a chance to shine when I felt like a klutz in every other part of my life. When I could have gone professional was when I decided to try to focus on putting my family matters first. It didn’t last long though since I ended up moving to Tokyo.” She stopped and blushed. “I’m sorry. I’m rambling on more than you want to know, I’ll bet.”

“I’m here just as Lisa. Ms. Vanette the Reporter is only during work hours,” she answered with a grin. Then she looked at her curiously and asked, “Do you have problems with reporters in general, or is it just me that makes you uncomfortable?”

Linna blinked at the precise question, her feelings of discomfort returning in force after having been momentarily forgotten. “I, uh, well…”

Two smiling young men suddenly appeared at the edge of their booth, clearly being as friendly as possible.

“Hello, my ladies,” one of them greeted. “We wondered if you wouldn’t mind joining us for lunch?”

The two women exchanged a cautious look, communicating the shared reluctance.

Lisa tilted her head with a pleasant smile at Linna and asked, “Should I answer or should you?”

“Um, go ahead,” Linna answered sheepishly as she took another sip of water.

Taking her cue, Lisa stated, “Sorry, we’re not interested. We’re on a date.”

Linna inhaled half her glass of water and spent the next few minutes coughing it out. By the time she recovered, the men were long gone and the waitress and Lisa were hovering over her in concern.

“I’m so, so very sorry!” Lisa said for what felt to her the thirtieth time as the waitress finally walked away.

Linna waved away her concern as she got her breathing back under control and now focused on trying to wipe up the water from the front of her shirt. “Well, it seemed to work,” she croaked.

“I think they were scared that they might be witnesses to you choking to death more than catching me in a bluff,” Lisa said with an apologetic smile.

Linna couldn’t help but break down in giggles, which was shared by the other woman.

After a pause for breath, Linna asked seriously, “So what if they had reacted negatively, like tried to cause trouble or something?”

Lisa shrugged and said casually, “I’m a black belt in karate. I would’ve broken key bones if they had tried.”

Linna’s eyes widened at the comment, trying to determine where the deadpan humor stopped and the seriousness began.

Lisa then grinned and said, “Of course, I won’t tell Priss that I used you as a cover if you won’t.”

Linna blinked in confusion and then answered carefully, “Okay, I won’t.”

“By the way, how long have you two been together?”

Relaxing at the easy question, Linna said, “We’ve really only been living together for a couple of months but we’ve known each other for a few years. She was one of the first people outside of work that I met when I first moved to Tokyo.”

Lisa looked at her with a wistful smile and said, “That must be nice to have been friends first. I’ve heard it sets a better foundation that way.”

Now Linna was really confused. “Foundation? What do you mean?”

Lisa blinked back. “For your relationship.”

“… Okay… Wha — ? Relationship?!” Linna suddenly hissed as the meaning of the conversation sunk in. “Me and Priss? We’re just friends. We’re not, you know, together!”

Lisa’s eyes were now as wide as saucers as the news sunk in. “Oh! I’m sorry! I thought, well, you two looked like you were a couple.”

Linna rolled her eyes and muttered, “You’re hardly the first to make that comment.”

Her mental wheels clearly turning, Lisa was quiet for a moment and then she asked seriously, “So why aren’t you two a couple?”

“I don’t think she’s interested,” Linna answered truthfully. “She’s got a lot of things to work through right now — I think romance is the last thing on her mind.”

“But are you interested?”

A blush crept up Linna’s cheeks and she answered, “Um, I – I just recently had closure with another woman.”

“Oh.” Lisa stared down at her cup of tea for a moment. Then she said, “Well, when you think you’re ready to try someone new, would you like to go out on a date for real?”

Linna’s eyes widened as she stared at the very serious woman across the table. Conflicting emotions suddenly churned within her. “Th-Thanks for the offer, but I don’t believe people should be non-monogamous.”

Now Lisa looked extremely confused. “But you just told me you just had closure with someone.”

“I’m talking about you!”

“Me?!” Lisa retorted. “I haven’t been on a date since college!”

“But what about your boyfriend that you live with?” blurted Linna, realizing that there was massive confusion in this conversation.

Lisa blinked and then roared back in laughter. “Nathan is just my roommate! Just like you and Priss! We’re also kind of incompatible in that he’s straight and I’m not, so there’s no way anything’s going to happen!”

Linna pursed her lips as she mulled over how she wanted to strangle Nene for once again giving her bad relationship gossip.

“So,” Lisa persisted with a very amused smile, “now that we seem to have finally cleared the air and established that we both seem to be single and lesbian, would you be interested in going out some time for real?”

Linna opened her mouth, but nothing came out as she locked stares with the woman. Then she took a breath and said, “How about we just enjoy this lunch as a friendly encounter for now, and I promise to think about your offer for another day?”

Lisa broke out into a quietly pleased smile as she said, “All right.”

The sight of the waitress with their food momentarily distracted Linna from the sudden frantic beating of her heart.

— End Chapter 28 —

* * *

Chapter 29

Sunday Evening, November 6th

The elderly butler held out a tray with a single glass of water.

Sitting on the chair in the lab, Priss took the proffered drink with a weary smile. “Thanks, Henderson.”

“Are you certain I can’t get you something stronger?” he asked.

She smiled and said, “No thanks. I still have to drive home.”

Once he bowed and left, Priss turned her attention to Sylia, who was reading the monitors on the console nearby. “Well? Anything new and noteworthy?”

Sylia frowned but didn’t look up from her task. “Not really. I think we’ve gotten as much information we can through regular scanning. And I’m still at a loss for what the root cause of the white noise is.”

“Well, what’s beyond regular scanning?” Priss asked carefully, knowing that that was where Sylia was going.

Sure enough, the other woman paused and finally looked up. “Tests. Conducting stimulus exposure scenarios and taking more readings from those.”

“So purposefully subjecting me to white noise boomers?”

“Well, it doesn’t have to be you, but -“

The ding of the elevator caught their attention and the door slid open, revealing a rather hesitant Linna with her purse in one hand and her scooter helmet in the other.

“Hello, Linna,” Sylia said with a genuine smile as they hugged. “This is a pleasant surprise. What brings you here?”

Linna looked at both of them for a moment and then answered, “I have something I need to discuss with you, Sylia.”

Priss paused for a moment and then moved to stand. “Sounds like my cue to leave – “

“No, Priss, please stay,” Linna added urgently. “This affects you, too.”

Sylia studied her for a moment and then said pleasantly, “Then, why don’t we move upstairs where it’s more comfortable?”

A few tense minutes later, the three of them were sitting in Sylia’s living room, each occupying her own chair or couch.

“So, Linna, what do you want to discuss?” Sylia prompted gently.

The other woman was quiet for a moment longer, clearly reluctant to start. She finally took a deep breath and said, “I know we’ve never really talked about this, Sylia, but I’d like to know what your opinion is on when it’s the right time or circumstance to tell someone new who we really are.”

Sylia’s eyes narrowed as Priss’s widened.

Breaking out into a thoughtful look, Sylia clarified, “When you say ‘someone new’, you mean like a potential significant other?”

Linna blushed and said, “Yes. I mean, I know we shouldn’t tell someone right when you start dating, but how will we know when it’s okay to talk about it? And how should they be told: by you, with all of us present, just things like that.”

“Why is this even coming up?” Priss asked bluntly. “Did someone ask you on a date?”

Suddenly feeling a little defensive, Linna stared at her for a moment. “Priss, you and I are both single,” she firmly responded. “And I don’t think we’re going to stay single forever. So we might as well talk about it now so we all have the same expectations, especially since we all share a pretty big secret.”

“You mean, like a Knight Saber’s rules of conduct?” Sylia said dryly. “Is it a given that I have to ‘approve’ this person knowing?”

“If that’s the way you want us to do it,” Linna said softly, not looking up. “You’re the leader, after all.”

“It’s that Lisa Vanette, isn’t it?” Priss stated.

Both Linna and Sylia’s eyes widened.

Sylia then looked questioningly at Linna, who blushed in response.

“Well, that certainly gets to the heart of the matter, so to speak,” Sylia said softly. She looked at both of them and asked, “Have either of you seen today’s paper?”

They shook their heads.

“Henderson already threw it out but there was a rather interesting spotlight article in the Tokyo Sun, written by Lisa Vanette and Nathan Morimoto. It was an eyewitness account of our actions at the fire Friday night. They were in the group of people you two rescued from the roof.”

“Well, that’s just too damn coincidental!” Priss muttered. “She’s got to suspect something. After all, who knows what Nene may have accidentally blabbed.”

Linna had been fuming quietly as she heard the remarks. She finally said, “You don’t think there’s a remote chance that she could be genuinely interested in me? She told me she recognized me from my days on my high school track team.”

Priss scowled. “She’s too much of a risk even if she hadn’t been the one writing all of those articles. She’s a reporter. And if she doesn’t suspect something now, she soon will. Stop thinking like a country hick for once, Linna!”

The other woman’s eyes widened with fury. “Oh, so you’re saying that it was perfectly okay for you to flirt with Leon when the ADP were trying to kill us?!”

Priss jumped to her feet in a flash as she snarled, “You -“

“SHUT UP, BOTH OF YOU!” Sylia ordered, unleashing her own anger. “Priss, sit your ass back down, now!”

With barely contained fury, Priss glared at Sylia but slowly did what she was told.

Sylia took a purposefully loud, calming breath as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. Even though she was still tense, her tone was calmer as she said, “Look, I’ll admit I don’t like this situation at all… But on the other hand, Linna, I trust you. Just like I trust Priss, and even Nene, if I have to admit it.”

She paused and looked at Linna. “Given that you’re even asking these questions must mean there’s some part of you that’s seriously interested in her… However, I have to think of the Knight Sabers first and foremost. Even though we’re heroes now, we — I still have a lot of enemies out there just waiting for an opportunity that a front page exposé would provide.”

“So I should turn her down?” Linna asked softly, not looking up.

Sylia winced and looked at Priss, who was seething as she stared at the floor, though clearly paying attention to every word that was uttered.

“Do you want to?” Sylia asked softly.

Linna thought it over and then shook her head. “There’s something about her… I mean, we may not even be compatible enough for a second date, which is nothing new. But… If it’s too much of a risk for everyone…”

Sylia sighed and then stated, “I’m trusting you, Linna, like I said I do. However, if something… unfortunate comes out of this, the very least that will happen is that you’re out of the Knight Sabers, and possibly my life… The same rules apply to you, Priss, whenever you -“

“Got it!” Priss abruptly blurted as she stood. She glared at Linna and said, “I am looking out for your best interests!”

Linna’s eyes widened in shock but Priss was already storming out the door. “Priss! Wait!” she cried at the figure who didn’t stop.

The two remaining women stared at each other for a moment.

Linna finally stood, collecting her things in the process. “Thanks, Sylia. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a copy of today’s paper.”

“One more thing,” Sylia said softly. “Don’t mention me or bring her anywhere near here until you’re absolutely certain she can be trusted… And, Linna, I do sincerely hope I get to meet her some day under the right circumstances.”

Linna stared at her for a moment and then nodded as she walked for the door.

* * * * *


Linna walked into the apartment, not at all surprised that the lights were out and everything was quiet. As she walked into the living room, she glanced over at Priss’s door, seeing that it was wide-open and the room beyond was dark, a sign that her roommate wasn’t home.

She sat down wearily on the couch and cradled her face in her hands. “Linna, you really have a big fat mouth!”

She then reached into her shirt pocket and pulled out the business card with the hand-scribbled personal phone number. She stared at Lisa Vanette’s name and frowned to herself. “Reporter or not, why would she remember my face out of the blue seven years later?”

— End Chapter 29 —

* * *

Chapter 30

Monday Morning, November 7th

Nene’s eyes were as wide as saucers on the phone’s vidscreen. “She’s a lesbian?! I had no clue!”

Linna bit her lip against the rather obvious response to that comment. Realizing that the volume was rather high, she was grateful that her other coworkers hadn’t arrived yet. “Well, yes. It seems Nathan is her platonic roommate. And the icing on the cake was that she thought Priss and I were non-platonic roommates!”

“Um, you are, aren’t you?”

“Nene!” Linna’s face was beet red but she ignored it because she wanted to get as much information as she could out of this call before someone else arrived. “What do you know about Lisa?”

Nene opened her mouth to respond but then paused as a thought crossed her mind. She broke out into a devilish grin and said, “So you are interested in her!”

“Would you please just answer the question?”

“Well, well, well,” she responded, clearly enjoying this conversation now. “She seems pretty cool to me. At the party I found out she was actually responsible for a lot of key tips for some big police cases because of what she finds out when she investigates a story. Daley and Jeena were teasing her, calling her their honorary detective.–”

Linna felt her stomach tighten into a knot.

“–But she just said it’s because she likes mysteries and puzzles.” Nene paused as a thought hit her. “Sort of like you, come to think of it. You two have a lot in common that way.”

This comment got Linna’s attention as she blinked. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you found out about the Knight Sabers and dug up your own clues to hunt us down. That sounds like Lisa’s style.”

“Oh swell,” Linna muttered. This part of the conversation was not making her feel any better. “Anything else about her?”

“Um, let’s see… Oh, when I told my mom that I had met her, Mom seemed really pleased that we might become friends. She never talks about her T.A.s but knowing Mom, she’s got tough standards. She would never have anyone work for her who wasn’t trustworthy or reliable, on top of being really good in general.”

Linna arched an eyebrow curiously. “Oh really?…”

“Oh yeah… So, why are you interested in her? She seems completely different from that Reika.”

Linna frowned as she tried to pinpoint exactly why this woman was so interesting. “She just seems so… confident. But when you get beneath that exterior, there’s a certain vulnerable charm about her.”

Nene frowned as she tried to imagine that and failed. “You certainly see her in a different way than I do. Or maybe it’s because I’m not flirting with her.”

Linna frowned for real and remarked, “Thanks a lot.”

“So are you going to take up her offer for a date?” Nene pressed anxiously.

“Um, I don’t know yet. Priss and Sylia aren’t too keen on the idea of a reporter getting too close to us, especially if she’s as sharp and as persistent as you say.”

“Oh, she’ll be totally cool with it!” Nene blurted. “She’s really nice. And I think you two have great potential!”

“Nene, don’t you dare do anything!” Linna demanded. “Sylia already made it clear that if Lisa turns around and leaks out information about us, or worse, writes a front page article, I’m off the team.”

Nene’s eyes were wide again. “But –!”

“Promise me!” Linna insisted. “Priss and I already had a fight about her. If Priss had her way, I would never see her again. I’m taking full responsibility for this, and if there’s any mess-up, it’s on my head alone.”

“Wow, you and Priss had a real fight? What would she have against Lisa? She doesn’t know her!” Nene blurted, becoming a little defensive.

Startled, Linna blinked and said, “You know how Priss is. She doesn’t like strangers to begin with. And one who’s a reporter doesn’t help.”

“She’s got to get over her territorial kick one of these days. Have you made up with her?”

“Um, I haven’t seen her since the fight last night,” she admitted softly. “She didn’t come home before I fell asleep. And I saw signs that she had already left before I got up… I really can’t blame her for being truly mad. I said a couple of things I shouldn’t have.”

Nene was quiet for a moment as she mulled this over. “Do you think Sylia is serious about kicking you off the team?”

Linna nodded. “Oh yeah, she’s serious. And you should be careful, too, since the same rules would apply to you if Lisa finds out anything about the Knight Sabers and goes public with it… Anyway, thanks for telling me what you know… By the way, how you are doing with Mackey, um, away?”

Nene winced and shrugged. “I’m counting the seconds…”

* * * * *

At The Same Time Elsewhere

With a very relaxed and tanned appearance, Yuuji leaned over the cubicle divider and remarked, “Now, that is certainly not an expression that belongs on the face of someone who’s having such a hot streak with articles these days! So what happened while I was in Hawaii?”

Still nursing her cup of coffee in both hands, Lisa looked up at him sourly and asked, “Have you ever done something impulsive and realized later that you might regret it?”

He arched his eyebrows at her and remarked, “You’re asking a gay man that? Are you trying to set me up for an obvious potshot?”

“I’m serious, Yuuji.”

Seeing that she really was, he sighed and said, “Well, this must have been a real hum-dinger given that I’ve never known you to regret anything. Sure, you fret over it until your decision is made, but once it’s done you don’t turn back. What’s different this time around?”

Lisa was quiet for a moment as she thought about whether or not she really wanted to talk about it. She finally sighed and said, “I figured out where I knew that Linna Yamazaki from.”

“Oh really?” Yuuji said, his curiosity definitely piqued. “Do tell!”

“She was my first crush, way back in high school. Even before I realized I was gay.” She took a sip of coffee and added, “My first time I was assigned to cover the school track meets, she was there, and the rest was this schoolgirl’s history.”

“Oh. My. God. You actually had a crush on someone?!” Yuuji exclaimed. “So you aren’t such a theoretical lesbian after all!”

“Yuuji!” she said with a laugh despite herself. “Anyhow, as fate would have it…” She paused for a moment. “I ran into her yesterday, after I had remembered who she was, and we ended up having an impromptu lunch. I found out that she and Priss aren’t an item, and she found out that Nathan wasn’t my live-in boyfriend. -“

Yuuji clamped his hand over his mouth to suppress a snort of a laugh.

She shot him a dirty look before continuing her narrative, “And the next thing I know, I asked her out on a date. She hasn’t accepted yet, but she’s supposed to call me with an answer.”

Now serious again, Yuuji narrowed his eyes at her. “So where’s the regret? That you actually took an emotional chance and now risk being crushed like the rest of us mere mortals? Or did you prefer to keep her on your teenage pedestal?”

“Hell, I never talked to her back then. She didn’t know I existed. It was a crush purely on the kind of person I thought she was, and how good she looked in that track uniform.”

He slyly smiled. “So what is she like now that you have met her?”

Lisa sighed wearily and said, “She’s incredibly sweet. Very real and very endearing. And she’s still sexy as hell.”

“But?” he prompted.

“I don’t know if my attraction to her now is real, or maybe I’m biased by… an incredibly interesting image that may prove to be very… fragile once I get beneath it.”

Yuuji chuckled and shook his head. “Lisa, my dear, it’s just an offer for a date. It’s not a marriage proposal. She may not be interested. Or she might be feeling what you’re feeling, and the two of you progress from there. It’s how the rest of us mere mortals approach such things.”

She scowled at him and then smiled. “Go sit down before I chuck this coffee at you… And thanks.”

“Any time. Now I’m going to tease the hell out of Nathan.”

The man was gone before she could yell at him.

Now left alone in her cubicle, Lisa rubbed her eyes wearily and cleaned her glasses. An incoming call drew her attention. Her hand automatically went out to hit the receive button, but a spasm of fear caused her to pause. Then she took a fortifying breath and answered the phone.

Nene Romanova’s face appeared on the vidscreen of her terminal.

“Oh, hi, Nene!” Lisa said, relaxing at the unexpected caller. “What’s up?”

“Well, I was calling to say hi and to remind you that my mom said to keep Sunday open for dinner.”

“It’s on my calendar. Just tell me when and where to meet you guys.”

“Okay!” Nene then paused, looking a little doubtful. But then she gave her a stern look. “I just talked to Linna.”

Lisa’s heart skipped a beat. “Oh?”

“Yeah, she told me you asked her out on a date. I don’t know yet if she’ll say yes, but I do know she’s seriously thinking it over. She’s been hurt pretty bad in the romance department. So I just want to say this once: she’s one of my best friends, and I won’t put up with anyone who mistreats or hurts her in any way. Got it?”

Lisa was stunned at first, but then she broke out into a small smile and said, “Understood.”

— End Chapter 30 —

* * *

Chapter 31

Tuesday Evening, November 8th

Alone in the apartment, Linna sat on the couch with Lisa’s business card in one hand and her phone in the other. With a final deep breath, she pushed the last button and waited for the call to connect.

The screen suddenly lit up with the sight of a weary Lisa, who was still at work judging by the background. “Oh, hello!” she answered, brightening noticeably though still with an air of reservation.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you were still at work,” Linna commented. “Should I call you back later?”

“No, it’s all right. I never leave work on time unless I have something scheduled. Um, what’s up?” she asked carefully.

Feeling her heart pounding frantically, Linna forced a smile and said, “Well, I – I’m calling because I’ve decided I would like to go on a date with you.”

Visibly stunned, Lisa blurted, “You would?!”

Linna broke out into a genuine laugh and teased, “It sounds like you were expecting me to say ‘no’. Is there something I should know first?”

“I, uh, just wasn’t expecting a ‘yes’,” Lisa answered quickly, her cheeks reddening. “Especially since you didn’t seem to react positively at first.”

The other woman paused and thought about the accuracy of that comment. “I’m sorry if that’s the impression I gave. I admit it was the last thing I had expected. But after thinking it over, I realized I really enjoyed our lunch the other day, and I would like to get to know you better. And well, if things don’t work out romantically, I think you and I could be friends. If you’re interested in that, of course.”

Lisa blinked and then gave her a soft smile. “I like the sound of that.”

The women quickly settled on having a dinner on Thursday, both ending the phone call on a much more positive and hopeful note.

Linna closed her eyes and rested her head on the back of the couch while clutching the silent phone to her chest.

“So you’re going through with it after all,” Priss’s voice commented from above.

Startled, Linna opened her eyes to see her roommate standing over her, still dressed in her biker garb, a sign that she had just gotten home.

“Priss!” she exclaimed, not having seen the woman since their fight Sunday night. “When did you get home?!”

“I’ve been home for a couple of minutes,” she answered softly, her expression cool and unreadable. She then walked around to the front of the couch, sitting down next to Linna.

The two women sat in silence, each clearly absorbed by her own thoughts.

“Look, I’m sorry,” Priss admitted softly as she stared ahead. “Not for what I said but the way I said it. I just don’t want to see you get hurt needlessly. And there’s nothing about Vanette that makes me feel like you’re setting yourself up for any other ending.”

“I’m sorry, too,” Linna admitted, glad for the opportunity to clear the air. “I shouldn’t have thrown Leon in your face but…”

“I would’ve said the same thing if I were you,” Priss murmured. “And I have to say one thing — that if something happens where you’re forced off the team and out of Sylia’s life, I still want you in mine no matter what. But I really don’t want it to get to that point if it can be helped.”

Linna smiled as she looked at Priss’s profile. “Thank you.”

Priss looked at her and smiled.

A couple of seconds had passed when it dawned on Linna just how close they were sitting. It wouldn’t take much of an effort to lean over and…

With her face flushed red from the thought, Linna quickly looked forward and said, “Have you had dinner yet? I was about to order out something.”

Priss continued to stare at her for a moment longer. She then answered, “Yeah, I’m hungry.”

* * *

Wednesday Night, November 9th

“Do you think I’m being foolish?” Linna asked as she dried off the water from herself and her swimsuit.

Sylia didn’t answer for a moment as she wiped herself off as well. “If you weren’t a Knight Saber and she wasn’t a reporter, would you still be interested in dating her?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Then that’s all I need to know,” she said as she pulled on her robe against the autumn chill.

“I wish I could feel like it was that simple,” Linna murmured. “There’s a small part of me wondering if this is some final act of desperation so I won’t reach my 25th birthday still a virgin.”

“If that is what is motivating all of this, then I don’t mind making personal arrangements where that won’t happen.”

Linna froze as she felt her entire body flush from heat, and it was just from embarrassment.

Sylia grinned and said, “However, I am curious to know if you’ve figured out that ‘something’ about her that’s so appealing to you.”

Wanting to articulate the answer as clearly as possible, Linna had to mull it over as she pulled on her own robe and followed Sylia into the building. “Even though she said it as a joke, she told two complete strangers that she and I were on a date. When I dated the women in Osaka, I’d never been with someone who was so… fearless about what she was. And I wonder if that was the problem all along…”

Sylia arched her brow in curiosity as she walked over to the bar to pour them both drinks, but she refrained from commenting since she could tell Linna had more to say.

“Um… I never told you this part,” Linna began cautiously as she sat down on the barstool, “but when we were facing our doppelgangers on the Umbrella, mine said something to me about how I was an outsider wanting acceptance and approval for something that I hadn’t even accepted myself. At the time, I thought she was needling me about accepting my lesbianism, and I thought she was wrong. But now I wonder if my doppelganger was right after all…”

“Are you saying you had doubts about being a lesbian, or how out you were about it?” Sylia asked softly as she handed over the glass of mineral water.

“Well, I’m wondering if they’re related. In my case, anyway,” Linna mused as she took a sip. “I mean, I thought I was out but I hadn’t even told my own parents until just this last week. My coworkers are still thinking I’m getting over a man, and I honestly don’t know how to address the issue when I speak to someone new, if it should ever come up, which I dread if it does. It’s nice being with someone who seems so… comfortable with who she is…” She suddenly blinked and realized how insensitive that could sound given whom she was speaking to. “Uh, I meant on a romantic level… I mean, did you consider yourself ‘out’ when you and Reika were together?”

Sylia pursed her lips and mulled it over for a moment. “We acted like a couple though we never actually called ourselves lesbians, even when we had moved here and started living together, away from the eyes of our families. I guess we just approached it with the idea that people either figured it out or didn’t. Then again, Reika and I weren’t a very sociable couple, so being ‘out’ really didn’t matter. We liked being by ourselves most of the time.”

“Ah. Sort of like you and Nigel,” Linna mused half to herself.

Sylia looked a little startled by the comparison but then said coolly, “Yes, I suppose so.”

Realizing that the conversation was approaching uncomfortable territory since they always stayed clear of discussing Sylia’s current relationship, Linna added quickly, “Well, like I said, Lisa being so comfortable with her lesbianism is really nice, and I like being around that… It makes me wonder if my personal discomfort has somehow caused me to limit my options for the future?”

“Such as?”

“Well, like having a real family. I mean, not like a situation like Reika’s, which is so peculiar.” Linna suddenly brighten as she continued to vocalize her thoughts, “But I’ve read on the Internet how some gay and lesbian couples really do have children together. I mean, I don’t know if that’s really for me if I sat down and thought about it, but I suddenly feel like ‘why not?’ And then I wonder what else I could be holding myself back from pursuing just because I thought the rules didn’t apply to me.”

Sylia quietly listened and smiled at her friend’s new self-awareness.

Linna paused and grinned at her. “I told my doppelganger that humans like to create their own destinies and, well, considering more options is part of that, isn’t it?”

Sylia smiled back and said, “It certainly is.”

— End Chapter 31 —