BGC Post 2040 File 6 – 9: 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.
Thursday Evening, November 10th
Once the waitress walked away with their orders, the awkward silence that had started the evening resettled between them.
“Um, this is a really nice view,” Linna forcefully commented.
Their table was at the edge of the restaurant’s outside balcony, which overlooked the busy outdoor plaza below. The evening was a little on the chilly side but clear, offering a great view of the building featuring a large video screen-wall which broadcasted the news.
Lisa nodded as she scanned the scenery. “I like coming here every once in a while. This restaurant is up high enough that you can still take in quite a few details of the plaza without being too distracted by the noise and such.”
She glanced over to see that Linna had been watching her with an amused smirk. “What?”
“Is that why you’re a reporter? Because you like watching people?”
Lisa broke out into a pleased grin that their conversation had turned to a substantial subject for once that evening. “Partially. I’m really a reporter because my talent is writing; however coming from a large family of public servants, I still felt I had to find some way to positively contribute to society in general. Call it an inbred sense of social responsibility.”
Linna frowned as she thought about that. “That’s certainly interesting. I never thought of reporters being a tool for social change as much as… well…” She drifted off into silence and a blush.
“Loud and rude troublemakers?” Lisa finished with a smile. “I won’t deny that I haven’t used those aspects to my professional advantage at times. Plus, I admit I’m curious by nature, especially with things that interest me.”
Linna looked away for a moment as an unreadable expression crossed her face. “So is it true that you haven’t had a date since college?”
“Um, yes,” she answered cautiously, a little surprised by what seemed to be a completely different subject. “My friends tease me that I have an incredible superiority complex in that most people just don’t interest me at that level. And I admit it’s true to some degree. I don’t care to do things that seem emotionally frivolous.” She took a breath and added softly, “Plus, I don’t do emotional vulnerability well.”
Linna was quiet as she studied the other woman as she spoke. She took a sip of beer and asked, “Then why did you take a chance on me? I’m just a beginning computer programmer with a very uninteresting lifestyle. I’m hardly the type a famous reporter would notice, much less be interested in, if you are truly the snob that you say you are.”
Now seeing where this conversation was doing, Lisa pursed her lips for a moment and stared down at her glass of wine. “Perhaps I’m motivated by age-old curiosity. After all, I’ve written quite a few articles about you. And even when I wasn’t writing articles, I still saw you a lot on the field, since my friends were on my school’s track team and so I always went to meets, even at other schools.” She then chuckled. “In fact, I’d end up rooting for you a lot, even though it meant I was rooting for the wrong school. — I told you that you coming in first all the time pissed off a lot of my friends.”
Blushing with embarrassment, Linna took another sip of beer and said, “That’s, um, very sweet for you to admit. It almost sounds like you had a crush on me.”
As if she had revealed more than she had planned, Lisa turned red herself but gave a vague shrug. “Sounds like it, doesn’t it?… So did you move to Tokyo after graduation?”
“No, not for two more years. I felt like I had to try to carry out my family obligations but when I realized it just wasn’t working, I knew I needed to live my own life for once.”
Lisa frowned curiously and asked, “Are you an only child? I can imagine there must have been a lot of pressure.”
Linna bit her lip for a moment and stared at the scenery of couples walking below. “I wasn’t originally. I had an older sister that I adored, my entire family did. Even though I never really felt like I fit in, with her around, I felt a lot more freedom to be left alone and try to sort out who I was. However, she died when I was fourteen and, well, I suddenly felt obligated to try to fill the void she left behind. But she had always encouraged me to be myself, and I realized that pretending to be otherwise was doing a disservice to her memory.”
“Did you realize you were a lesbian back then?”
Linna blushed. “Not exactly – I just remember feeling like I never fit in. But thinking about it now, I realize there were probably more than a few clues. I loved having my sister’s best friend around because she was so beautiful and kind. She died in the same accident… Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
“Several,” she answered with a smile. “I’m the youngest of four boys and two girls.”
Linna’s eyes widened. “Wow, that’s a large family. Um, do they know about you?”
Lisa nodded. “And that doesn’t stop Mom from pressuring me about grandchildren even though all of my siblings have families of their own. Ironically, she had a fit when I told her Nathan and I were going to share an apartment. She was afraid he was going to rape me in the middle of the night or something, conveniently forgetting the many karate lessons she paid for.”
Linna chuckled at the remark. “So why did you learn karate? You don’t seem particularly athletic otherwise.”
“Why? Because I wear miniskirts all the time?” Lisa asked, grinning at the blush she got. “I decided I had to learn karate when I was in sixth grade and some pervert tried to feel me up on the train. I knew then and there that I did not like someone taking advantage of me.” She paused, as if distracted by a troubling thought.
Watching every expression, Linna prompted, “Yes?”
Lisa turned red under the scrutiny and said, “I have to admit I’m surprised you even accepted my offer for a date. I sensed Priss didn’t seem to like me at all, and I know how much weight best friends and roommates have on such matters.”
“Yeah, well, she can be difficult at times, but that’s Priss. I know she really cares underneath that gruff exterior,” Linna admitted with a sigh. “Besides, she’s made romantic choices that I wouldn’t have approved of either, but we’re still best friends through it all.”
“Hmm hmm,” Lisa murmured with a more pointed look. “So how did you two meet? She seems a little rough for you to have just run into each other.”
“Well, that’s technically what happened,” the other woman answered with a smile. She launched into the story of their tense first encounter, provoking amused chuckles and comments.
“So when did you find out you were both lesbian?” Lisa asked.
“Um, that didn’t come up until much, much later. In fact, I honestly don’t know if Priss really considers herself one. At least not completely since she was involved with a guy for over three years.”
“Then she’s never had any experience with another woman?”
“Well, there was someone a couple of months ago. But it was extremely brief and didn’t really go anywhere. I don’t think she’s had any lesbian experience otherwise. — Why do you ask?”
Lisa shrugged. “Just curious. That’s all…”
After the waitress arrived with their meals, Linna took a deep breath and said, “I read your article about the fire last week. That must have been an amazing experience.”
Lisa was quiet for a moment and then offered a bright smile. “It certainly reinforced my attitude to live life to the fullest… But thankfully the Knight Sabers arrived, or I’m certain I wouldn’t be here today talking to you.”
Linna stared at her. With a cautious smile of her own, she said, “Judging by the article, it seems like this was your first time seeing the Knight Sabers. I admit I’m a huge fan of theirs. They’re amazing to watch.”
Lisa nodded. “I’ve seen the ADP archive footage, of course, from my research on the NTC. And like everyone else, I watched that fight with the rampaging construction boomers a couple of months ago. But it’s nice to know they’re around… I know some of my colleagues are aching to uncover who they are. It’s the understood hot story challenge of the moment, though I don’t think anyone has any real leads.”
“Really?” Linna asked, trying to appear as casual as possible despite the rapid beating of her heart. “And are you trying to dig them up as well? Especially now that you’ve seen them up close?”
Lisa took a careful sip of her wine and said softly, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to know but – “
Suddenly, the rumble of an explosion reached their ears, followed by the popping sounds of repeated gunfire.
Everyone, in the restaurant and in the plaza below, stopped and looked around curiously.
“It’s obviously coming from somewhere nearby,” Lisa murmured as they waited for something else to clue them into where the disturbance was coming from.
The huge television screen suddenly changed to a serious looking anchorman with the flashing words of “breaking story” underneath him. The captions of his dialogue indicated that an explosion and other suspicious activity had been reported from an electronics warehouse, and that all citizens should stay away from the area.
“That’s just five blocks from here,” Lisa murmured, as she watched the giant video screen before them show the large warehouse in question that was the center of unwanted activity.
The patrons of the restaurant and plaza were fixated on the video image, especially when it showed the police starting to arrive in droves to surround the main building where smoke was coming out of a new hole in the roof.
Linna leapt to her feet when the sound of helicopters came whizzing by, heading in the direction of the building. She looked at the silhouettes of the aircrafts that were barely visible in the night sky. “They don’t have lights or identifying signs. They must not be police or news choppers!”
“I think you’re right! They might be arriving to help the crooks,” Lisa said as she stood and tried to lean over the railing as much as she could to get a better view, which was now practically impossible since the building they were next to blocked the way.
Everyone silently watched the news video showing the exchange of gunfire between the police on the ground and the crooks on the roof while firebees and unmarked helicopters maneuvered around each other in a frenzied swarm over the crime site.
Linna’s eyes widened in shock at the sight of the blue and red Knight Sabers landing on the scene and adding to the chaos. She immediately grabbed her purse and saw that her phone was on but no call had come.
Lisa watched this reaction out of the corner of her eye. As she saw Linna watch the screen with a clearly anxious and worried expression, she sighed to herself. She loudly cleared her throat, causing Linna to jump in surprise at the unexpected distraction.
Lisa smiled apologetically and said, “I hate to do this but my editor would have my hide if he knew I was in the area and I didn’t cover this story.” She grabbed her purse and pulled out her wallet, “I’d hate to have you wait since I don’t know when that mess will be over. So can we take a rain check for another day? I’ll take care of the bill so just finish the dinner if you want.”
Linna numbly nodded with a wide-eyed expression of amazement.
“Thanks! I’ll call you later!” Lisa said.
She abruptly paused for a moment, as if suddenly taking in the fact that the two of them were now standing next to each other. She reached out and grabbed Linna by the front of her shirt, gave the woman a quick kiss, and then ran inside the restaurant.
With her fingertips at her lips, Linna stared after her in amazement, completely oblivious to the stunned looks from the nearby restaurant patrons who had witnessed the action.
More sounds of explosions pulled Linna back to the situation at hand. She glanced at the video screen to see that the showdown was nowhere near being settled. Without another thought, she grabbed her purse and ran for the exit.
— End Chapter 32 —
* * *
Thursday Night, November 10th
Sylia watched the three Knight Sabers emerge from the launch tube, each moving with the weariness of recent physical exertion.
Priss immediately opened her helmet and hunched over with her hands on her knees as she panted for breath. “Man, that was such a bitch! It was like trying to capture insects. Remind me to never go on helicopter assignments again!”
Linna opened her own helmet and, though clearly a little tired, she giggled and teased, “You’re just upset because they were piloted by living people and you couldn’t do your usual ‘Ms. Destructo’ tactics.”
“And just what the hell are you doing here?!” Priss growled seriously. “You’re supposed to be on a date!”
“She and I were in the area and, uh, you two looked like you needed help,” Linna responded, her cheeks reddening. “Besides, Lisa cancelled when she saw what was happening so she could run off and cover the story.”
There was dead silence as the other three women stared at her.
Reddening even more, Linna held up her hand and stated, “I know what that sounds like. So I don’t need to hear any comments.”
Priss scowled at her for a moment and then walked off towards the suit storage area.
“Um, thanks for helping, Linna,” Nene added softly. “It really made a difference.”
“You’re welcome, Nene,” she responded brightly.
Sylia said nothing but merely watched the two of them.
“Well, I’ve got an early meeting tomorrow,” Nene said hastily as she walked over to join Priss.
Linna looked at Sylia, who stared back with an unreadable expression. It was the same look and silence she had received when she had arrived to help with the incident.
“Linna, hurry up and get changed!” Priss called out. “I’m not going to wait around to take you home!”
The woman blinked in surprise but quickly did what she was told.
* * *
Linna and Priss hadn’t exchanged a word during the entire bike ride home, not even in the garage or the elevator ride to their apartment.
Priss opened the front door and immediately walked to the kitchen. “I’m having a beer. Do you want one?”
“Um, sure,” Linna answered as she walked over to the couch and wearily sat down.
After giving her roommate her beverage, Priss wearily sat down on the living room floor and stared at her. She sighed and said, “So, do you want to see her again?”
“Well, I don’t know if I should – “
“That wasn’t what I asked.” The tone this time was surprisingly soft but firm.
Linna blinked and shrugged, “Until the robbery happened, we were still trying to get over that initial awkwardness. So we really didn’t have a chance to – “
She was interrupted by the sound of her phone ringing from her purse. Sensing whom it could be, Linna carefully pulled it out and hit the “receive” button. She was greeted by the image of a tired Lisa sitting at her office cubical.
“Hi,” Lisa said hesitantly. “Did I call too late?”
“Um, no, not at all,” Linna quickly answered, feeling her heart rate suddenly increase. She glanced over at Priss, who was staring into her beer can, and said to Lisa, “I just need to go to my room. Hold on a sec.”
Once settled on her bed with the door closed, Linna smiled at Lisa and said, “I’m glad you called. So did you get a good story?”
“Um, yeah, I did.” Lisa looked away for a moment, clearly troubled by something, and then took a deep breath. She looked squarely at Linna’s image and said, “I think tonight was a classic example of why I haven’t really dated since college. And I’m sorry for running out on you like that.”
“It was okay. I know what it’s like, being friends with a cop and all.” Something about the tone of the conversation made Linna’s heart tighten but she kept it hidden.
Lisa gave her a pained smile and said, “Well, that brings me to what I’m thinking right now in that perhaps I’m just too married to my job right now to be dating anyone.”
“Oh.” Linna felt her heart squeeze even tighter.
“Don’t get me wrong!” Lisa added hastily. “I really like you, and I do think you’re an incredible catch. Honest! And I would like to keep the possibility of us being friends open. But trying to date you would be really unfair to you. And I don’t see myself changing my priorities right now so…”
Linna took a visible breath and said, “I, um, I’m glad you brought this up be-because I was kind of thinking the same thing. I mean, my job is going to become pretty intense pretty soon and I would probably end up running off for work stuff, too… So I guess we’re even…”
Lisa frowned to herself but then forced a smile and said, “I’m glad you understand. Um, so I’ll see you around?”
Linna stared at the silent phone and blinked at the forming tears in her eyes. She then took a deep breath and a sip of beer.
She knew Priss was still awake and would love to hear the latest. Nene would be awake too, and probably Sylia.
* * *
Even Later …
“ – She called it off?!” Nene blurted into the vidphone. She had clearly been up hacking despite her earlier proclamations of a morning meeting. She frowned and then said, “Um, are you all right with that?”
Linna shrugged as she sat on her bed in her pajamas, “No one likes being dumped, especially after only half a date. But I can’t help but wonder if I would have called her and said the same thing once everything really sunk in. So maybe it’s for the best.”
“So is Priss happy now?” Nene asked, sarcasm clearly underneath her tone.
Linna smiled. “She seemed decidedly less grumpy after I told her that Lisa and I were through. Although I could have sworn she seemed shocked that Lisa was the one who called it off.”
“Hmph. That makes two of us. Maybe she really has no clue about your connection to the Knight Sabers,” Nene suggested as she continued to analyze this situation. “After all, if that was her true motive, then it doesn’t make sense that she would suddenly not want to continue dating, especially after tonight. You were her best chance for getting to know more about us.”
“Yeah, I guess so…” Linna said, feeling her heart tighten again. She cleared her throat and said, “Well, it’s done. So, it’s time to move on, I guess. Have a good night, Nene.”
“You too. And, Linna, for what it’s worth, I really think she made a big mistake.”
Linna smiled. “Thanks, Nene. Again.”
Once again alone in the silence of her room, Linna looked over at her nightstand and at Lisa’s business card. She picked it up and stared at it.
Then she pressed her fingertips to her lips, reflecting on the brief memory of that kiss.
— End Chapter 33 —
* * *
Friday Morning, November 11th
Lisa wasn’t at all surprised to see Yuuji lean over the cubicle wall right after dumping his briefcase in his chair.
“What the hell were you doing covering a news story when you were on a date?!” he demanded with a scowl. For emphasis, he held up the newspaper with the front-page story of the Knight Sabers helping the police with the foiled robbery. “Are you trying to ensure that you’ll always be single?”
She peered up at him over her coffee cup and retorted coolly, “And you wouldn’t have done the same thing if you were with Daley?”
“We’re a pair of old, married farts, Darling! We’re supposed to treat each other like shit!”
“Well, don’t worry. It won’t happen again. She and I aren’t dating anymore.”
Yuuji’s eyes were now as wide as saucers. “Did she dump you?! I can’t blame the girl, but you’ve got to ask for a second chance!”
“Um, no,” she responded carefully, half returning to the document she had been working on, “I told her that last night was a classic example of how I’m married to my work and it wouldn’t be fair to try to date her since I wasn’t going to change my priorities.”
A few seconds of silence passed as her friend processed her explanation.
“I never thought I’d say this, Lisa,” Yuuji stated, “but you’re a complete coward!”
More annoyed than angry, she glared at him and responded, “Look, I realized I could never be assured that I was attracted to her for the right reasons. And I certainly don’t want a situation where she felt as if she had to reciprocate.”
He frowned in confusion. “Why would she feel like she needed to be attracted to you? It’s not as if you’re blackmailing her or something.”
She ignored the comment and said, “There’s also the fact that I’m sure if Priss ever looked at her in the right way, Linna would drop me like a hot rock.”
“Ah!” Yuuji said, as if he suddenly saw the light. “You’re actually afraid of a little competition. Well, I would have thought you’d want the challenge. After all, Priss isn’t a factor yet, and it’s just a matter of securing a place in Linna’s heart before it could happen, if it ever does.”
Lisa shook her head wearily. “Just drop it, Yuuji. Please. I’ve had a really long night.”
Her friend stared at her, and then let out an audible sigh before sitting down in his own chair.
Just when Lisa thought she had gotten over the worst of it, her phone rang.
She pushed the receive button and said, “Hello – oh, hi, Nene. What’s up?”
The blond didn’t look too pleased as she stared at her through the vidphone screen. “Okay, why the hell did you break it off with Linna? From what she told me, you two didn’t really get too far into the date before you called it off completely.”
Lisa tried not to roll her eyes before she responded, “Look, didn’t you personally warn me not to hurt her? Well, I had to accept the fact that I am just married to my job and that I don’t have the time or real interest in dating anybody. And she seemed fine with it. So why are you calling?”
“I’ve known Linna for years and I could tell she really liked you,” Nene retorted. “You’re right that I did tell you not to hurt her but I meant – well, I just want to be sure that you dumped her because you have screwed up priorities and it’s not a case that you thought she was a loser or something.”
Lisa winced and responded softly, “No, I don’t think that at all.”
Nene blinked at the surprising shift in tone. Then she frowned and said, “Look, I’m just trying to be a friend… to both of you. I think you’re making a big mistake.”
“Yeah, well, you’re not the first — or even the second — person to tell me that,” she answered with an apparently casual shrug.
* * *
It was Linna’s turn to settle the spa bill with the salesclerk while Priss waited nearby. “After last night, this was a definite necessity.”
“Yeah,” Priss responded as she zipped up her jacket. “So you want to order something in or actually eat out for a change?”
Linna giggled and said, “Why, Priss, you eating in a restaurant? How many other cultural secrets do you have? Perhaps you’re Sylia’s twin sister in disguise.”
“Shut up.” It was her usual scowl, but she seemed a little pleased with herself at Linna’s mood.
They turned to the elevator only to see Lisa Vanette step out.
“Oh, hi,” Lisa said, with clearly forced pleasantry as she stared at Linna.
“He-hello,” Linna said, her face reddening as she stared back. “Um, we were just leaving. Otherwise, I would ask if you wanted to join us.”
Priss stood quietly by and watched the two of them, her eyes narrowing slightly.
“Perhaps next time,” Lisa said, giving Priss a glance as well. “Bye.”
As they stood quietly in the descending elevator, Priss watched Linna out of the corner of her eye. “You okay?”
Linna seemed lost in thought as she touched her lips with the tips of her fingers.
* * *
Lisa sighed to herself as she began to unbutton her shirt in the empty locker room.
She liked coming in towards the end of the day just because it meant less people. But if it meant more of a chance of running into those two, then perhaps it was time to reevaluate her schedule.
“There you are!” Linna declared as she turned the corner, just in time to see Lisa take off her bra.
Lisa let out a cry of surprise as she reflexively tried to cover herself. Linna turned beet red and whirled around despite the fact they were both women.
“Linna, what’s up?” Lisa said, trying to act casual as she kept her arms folded over herself. “Where’s Priss?”
“I told her to go home without me.” Turning around, Linna looked her carefully in the eye and said firmly, “I want to try dating again.”
“…I beg your pardon?”
Linna took a step forward and watching that Lisa didn’t back up. “Lisa, I’m not going to believe you if you tell me that you aren’t attracted to me. I’m definitely attracted to you… physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t want to quit like this, not without a fight and not when it comes to something that’s this important to me. And I don’t want to look back at this and have regrets for giving up so easily when I think you and I have a real chance for something good.”
She swallowed nervously and added, “So what if we both have bad jobs we’re married to? If one of us gets called away, then she leaves, no questions asked, and we pick up where we left off on the next date. I like being around you, and I really want to get to know you as a friend and maybe more. If we take it slow, it just assures we’re approaching it the right way. So are you willing to try again?”
Obviously quite stunned, Lisa stared at her. Then she chuckled and shook her head. “You’re making it damn hard to do the right thing.”
“Well, that’s just it. I don’t think it was the right thing.” Linna gave her a sly grin and added, “It’s your own fault, you know. You kissed me, so now I owe you a kiss. And I don’t like being in debt.”
Lisa met her look with a playful smile, “If that’s the debt you’re worried about, then kiss me now and we’ll be even.”
At the provocative comment, Linna swallowed carefully as she tried not to be distracted by the fact the woman in front of her was not wearing a shirt. She shook her head firmly and said, “Not until the end of our next date.”
“Well now,” Lisa said with a laugh, “how can I turn down an offer like that?”
Linna winked and said, “I can’t help it if I think social responsibility is an incredibly sexy trait in a woman.”
— The End Chapter 34 —
— The end of Part 3 —
Part 4: Domestic Bliss
Saturday Afternoon, November 12th
Nana Romanova’s eyes widened in amazement when she stepped into the room and saw that the far wall was part of the building’s giant indoor aquarium. “Oh my! This is incredible! The more I see of this place, the more I’m glad I’m not staying in that hotel.”
Nene and Sylia exchanged a pleased look and giggle.
“If you’ll excuse me, Mistress Romanova, I shall return with your other bags,” Henderson said with a bow as he left.
“So does Mackey live here, too?” Nana asked her hostess.
Sylia shook her head. “No. He prefers to live near where he works, a place with a more ‘garage-like’ ambiance,” she said with a wink.
The beeping of her phone from inside her coat pocket immediately drew her attention. With a puzzled frown, she pulled out the phone and glanced at the number calling in. Her frown deepened.
“If you’ll excuse me for a moment,” she said with a polite smile as she stepped out into the hallway, giving Nene a brief glance.
Once the door was shut, Nana looked at her daughter and asked, “So how much money does this woman have to own this incredible building?!”
Having been distracted by Sylia’s suspicious phone call, Nene blinked and processed the question. Realizing where this conversation could go, she said hastily, “Did I say she owned the building?! No no no! I may have told you that before I found out she just leases part of it. She really doesn’t have that much money!”
Her mother frowned to herself as she looked around the spacious and elegant guest room and at the view of the aquarium. “Still, she obviously has more than most. And she’s extremely beautiful and intelligent too. You said she’s twenty-eight or twenty-nine? Makes you wonder why she’s a Christmas Cake.”
“No, she’s not!” Nene blurted, and then paused when she realized how frantic she had sounded. She cleared her throat and said, “She’s got a, uh, significant other.”
The words “boyfriend” or “lover” didn’t feel quite right to Nene in describing who Nigel was.
Nana arched her eyebrows. “But they’re not married?”
Nene shook her head and said, “They don’t have that kind of a relationship. They’ve been together for a long time and -“
The door opened again and Sylia gave them an apologetic smile. “Prof. Romanova, do you mind if I borrow Nene for a moment? There’s something I need to discuss with her. Please feel free to make yourself comfortable. I’ve given Henderson instructions to take care of any needs or wishes you may have.”
“Why, thank you,” Mrs. Romanova said with a big smile as she put her suitcase on the bed. “I’ll definitely keep that in mind.”
“I’ll be back in a second, Mom,” exclaimed Nene, giving her mother an extremely wide smile as she stiffly followed Sylia out into the hallway.
Nana frowned for a moment at her daughter’s behavior and then turned her attention to unpacking.
Once they were alone in the hallway with the door to the guest room closed, Nene hissed anxiously, “Is it another emergency?”
Looking amused, Sylia smiled and said, “Yes, but not of the hardsuit variety. I just received a call that Priss has been checked into the hospital. Apparently she’s had another motorcycle ‘accident’ but from what they’ve told me, she’s a bit banged up but fine. I’m going to pick up Linna and head over there. I’ll trust you to keep your mother occupied?”
Nene saluted with a playful grin, “Got it! And tell Priss she needs to take the bus!”
Sylia rolled her eyes and said, “I’ll let you tell her that one!”
* * *
Still fully dressed in her torn-up biker garb, Priss sat quietly on the hospital bed and stared at the ceiling, glad that her headache had finally subsided and her vision had refocused. Due to the painkillers, she barely noticed the throbbing of her left arm, resting on the support-table with ice packs on it. Her pant leg cut away, her right shin had been propped up after the nurse had cleaned the asphalt scrape and piled ice packs on it.
A brisk knock at the door drew her attention.
“Come in,” she grumbled. At the sight of Sylia, she scowled and said, “Well, if it isn’t the old ball-and-chain!”
Sylia grinned as she walked in and said, “And hugs and kisses to you, too, Sweet’ums.”
Closing the door behind her, Linna pressed her hand over her mouth to stifle her giggle. “Boy, I’m feeling the love in this room. Be glad you two don’t have kids!”
Sylia frowned as she looked at Priss’s injuries. “It’s worse than last time. Is anything broken?”
Priss stiffly shrugged. “Don’t know yet. The doctor’s supposed to come back any minute now with the x-ray results. The white noise attack was worse this time, too. The effects didn’t fade until just a few minutes ago.”
“Still, it’s obvious you’re not going to be able to ride your bike for a few days,” Sylia surmised. She took a breath and said sincerely, “Priss, I’m really sorry about this.”
Priss scowled but her cheeks reddened as well. “Yeah, well, then you should put some real effort into fixing this damn problem once and for all. And if I’m going to be laid up for a few days, then this is the perfect time to do those tests you mentioned.”
“True…” Sylia answered thoughtfully.
Linna was now alarmed. “Wait a minute! What tests?!”
“To get better readings for the white noise reactions,” Sylia explained. “I have full readings of myself and Priss in ‘dormant’ states, and I swiped the brain scans the hospital took of you when you were here, though they’re obviously not as thorough. But to go to the next level, I need to conduct live tests where I get readings from someone actually reacting to the white noise to see if I can find out what’s triggering it in the hopes that I can stop it.”
Linna frowned and stated, “Of the entire team, I’m the most expendable and -“
“No, you’re not!” Priss cut her off angrily. “You’ve got a job you need to be at every day. And I’m pretty sure you’re not going to be able to hide something like this from Lisa. Of the four of us, I’m the best test subject!”
“But…” Linna trailed off into a frustrated silence, her scowl remaining.
Sylia watched them both pout and then said, “I guess it’s settled then. And this is probably the best timing in general, now that we’re not focusing on Mackey as much.” Then a thought apparently flashed through her mind as she added with a giggle, “Besides, Linna, it now means you’ll be able to ask Lisa over after your date tonight without worrying about disturbing your… immediate neighbors.”
Linna turned completely red at the comment while Priss’s scowl deepened.
* * *
“You know, Priss, no one would fault you for allowing yourself to be pushed around in a wheelchair,” Sylia commented, trying to sound as patient as possible as she watched her friend awkwardly hobble across the main floor of the Silky Doll. “I’m glad I closed the shop or you’d be blocking my customers.”
Priss scowled even though she was still a little hazy from painkillers as she leaned heavily on her crutch. The cast on her arm and the bandages around her leg weren’t helping her mood.
“Look, no one is saying you have to wait for me!” she growled. “I already know the layout of the place. Henderson, just go ahead and dump my stuff in my room. I’ll get there on my own!”
The elderly butler looked hesitantly at Sylia, who gave a nod despite her own scowl.
Clearly wanting to be left alone to her task, Priss looked at her hostess expectantly. “I said you didn’t have to stay!”
Sylia arched her eyebrow challengingly and commented dryly, “I’m enthralled by how sexy you look when you’re helpless.”
Resisting the urge to hobble over and beat Sylia with her crutch, Priss took a calming breath. She finally growled, “I’ll put up with a wifey routine but not a nag!”
Suddenly amused for some reason, Sylia planted her hands on her hips and said, “Your problem, Priss, is that you don’t know how to handle someone showing genuine concern for you. And be glad we aren’t married, or I’d kick your ass into a wheelchair!”
Priss was about to snarl a retort but then stopped at the realization that there were new, unexpected figures standing at the top of the stairs. “Um, hello,” she called out, signaling a pause in the current conversation.
“Hello. I’m Nana Romanova, Ne-chan’s mom. We were just on our way out to dinner.” Nana Romanova bowed back in acknowledgement as she descended the stairs. She had the expression of someone who was pretending to be polite and pleasant despite being clearly uncomfortable with the situation she was witnessing.
With her own face completely devoid of color, Nene walked stiffly behind her mother.
Sylia turned and bowed to her other guest. “Nana, this is Priss Asagiri. She’s a friend who’ll be staying here while she recovers from her accident.”
“Hello, Mrs. Romanova, I’m very pleased to meet you,” Priss said, offering a stiff and awkward bow.
“Likewise, Dear,” Nana bowed in return to the injured young woman and said sincerely, “I’m always pleased to meet more of Nene’s friends. Please call me Nana. Now, you should be resting. You shouldn’t be on your feet in your condition.”
“That’s true, Priss,” Sylia commented with a little needling smirk. “Nana, I’m sorry I’m going to miss your dinner with Nene since I should be setting things up for Priss’s unexpected stay. Perhaps tomorrow?”
The older woman waved away her concern. “There’s certainly no rush since I’ll be living here for the next two weeks. And when you’re feeling better I expect you to join us, Priss.
Then the older woman added conspiratorially, “Meanwhile, don’t be so hard on Sylia. She’s clearly looking out for your best interests.”
Ignoring Sylia’s gloating smirk, the singer paused and forced a pleasant smile. “You’re right, Nana.”
“Well, Mom, shall we go?” Nene said anxiously, trying to coax her mother out of the shop.
As they walked along the sidewalk, Nana had a thoughtful look on her face. “Perhaps this is a fortunate thing to happen after all.”
Nene blinked. “What do you mean?”
Nana gave her daughter a smile and a wink. “It’s incidents like these that bring people closer together, which is obviously necessary in this case.”
“… Okay,” Nene said, not getting what her mom was referring to and brushing it off. “Let’s go eat!”
— End Chapter 35 —