Disclaimer

Mahoromatic and all associated characters are the property of Gainax, TBS, Pioneer LDC and the character creators, Ditama and Nakayama. I don't own any rights to them at all nor do I want to, I just want to borrow them for a while. Any other characters are property of their respective copyright holders, not me.

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Renewal

Chapter 1
Homecoming

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Minawa stood at the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean, a fine mist of rain falling on her. The day was dreary and overcast, reflecting her current mood. The last time she'd stood here like this was when Number 369 had challenged her to return once she'd found her heart. Back then she hadn't even had a name, just a number like the others, Management Combat Cyborg Number 370. Minawa was still pretty sure that she didn't actually have a heart, but she now knew that that wasn't what the other had meant. She'd found her heart, then lost it again in a savage blast that took away her big sister Mahoro and evil "brother", Number 229 "Feldrance". It was only now, after two years on a Saint spacecraft, that she had enough courage to go looking for it again.

She wrapped her arms around her chest and thought of Mahoro. Her older "sister" would be so jealous if she saw her now. In the years she'd been in space, she'd grown a bit; in several ways and in several places. She would never be large, but she didn't look like a child anymore.

She remembered how Leesha had explained that Saint could remove her cybernetics without damaging her, but leaving them in place would cause a slow, painful death. At that moment she'd lost all hope, but then Matthew had given her an option: they could replace her Management cybernetics with alien technology. Technology that would automatically adjust with her growing body. There would no longer be the constant pain she'd had to endure.

To be without pain.

She'd accepted the offer. And now two years had passed; two pain-free years learning to work her new equipment. Then today she'd finally returned to the spot where she'd made the promise to 369. She bowed her head. "369," she said in a low voice to the empty air. "I had a heart, but I couldn't return here in time to tell you. Now I've lost it and have to go find it again."

Minawa dropped her arms to her sides and raised her head as her implants felt two presences move up to stand near her, neither one human. A hand reached out and rested itself on her shoulder.

"So, Little Sister," Ryuga said quietly. "Now that you're back on Earth, what are your plans?"

Minawa took a deep breath. "I'd like… I'd like to go home," she said in almost a whisper, barely audible above the crashing surf and wind.

"Back to the ship?"

Minawa shook her head. "No. Home. To Hiryu. To Suguru's house." A soft, warm body rubbed against her damp leg. She looked down to find a great black cat returning her stare. Intelligence, humor and maybe a hint of suppressed violence glowed behind artificial red eyes.

"The house isn't empty," Slash told her. "Sera's been living there ever since it was confirmed that Mahoro…" The cat's gruff voice caught and he couldn't finish.

Minawa reached down and rested a hand on Slash's broad head. She idly scratched behind one great ear, eliciting an involuntary purr from the support mech. "I know," she said, looking out over the ocean. "But it's the place I was the happiest. Besides, if Suguru ever returns, there should be a friendly face to greet him." She sighed. "I wonder what ever happened to him anyway?"

Slash and Ryuga exchanged looks. "We don't know," they both said at the same time.

Minawa looked down at the wet ground and sniffed. It was hard to tell if she was getting ready to cry or catching a cold. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand.

"It's all right," Ryuga said. "I've already informed Sera that you'll be coming."

Minawa looked up at the older Saint android. "You did?" she asked. "How could you know…"

Ryuga shrugged. "I guessed that you'd ask to go; you've been restless for several weeks now, ever since you finished acclimatizing. All your belongings have already been sent. Even Matthew approves."

Minawa took a step toward the other, intending to throw her arms around him, but she'd forgotten about Slash being next to her leg. Her foot caught under the cat's belly sending both of them sprawling into Ryuga. Ryuga fell backwards landing on his rear with Minawa's head in his lap. "I'm sorry," she mumbled. "I'm so sorry."

Slash regained his feet and shook himself violently. He looked at the two humanoids and started to laugh. "I'd hate to tell you guys what you look like. Good thing no one's taking any pictures." Minawa raised her head and looked around. She realized where she was and scrambled to her feet, her face bright red. "I'm sooo sorry!"

Ryuga chuckled. "Well," he stated, "Minawa's still Minawa." He glanced at Slash. "All dirty thoughts are bad!" he told the cat with a stern look in his eye but a smile on his face.

"Harrumph," the cat replied, looking away. But his red eyes were twinkling brightly.

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Sera turned on the television and sat down with a cup of tea and some snacks. Living as a human wasn't half bad, she thought. She'd gotten a job as a waitress in a local restaurant and was really enjoying meeting new people every day.

Idly she flipped through the channels looking for something worthwhile to watch.

-click- A news report caught her attention: UFO destroys Great Seto Bridge. Hmmm. Naw, Matthew wasn't aware of any other aliens on Earth, and Saint had certainly never intentionally targeted any civilian structures. Probably just faulty engineering; damn engineers, couldn't blow their collective noses without a blueprint.

-click- "Akito…" "Leave me alone Yurika, you nutbar." Oh, right. Like space travel was actually like that. Idiots.

-click- "Today's mystery ingredient is…" No, she hated radishes; they gave her gas.

-click- "Two down, bottom of the fourth, the count is even at two and two... Here's the pitch… Swung on and fouled back…" Urk… SNORE.

-click- "Today we're looking for the rare Jovian lizard. Shhhh! There's one now, isn't she a beaut?" No. Lizards, in fact reptiles in general, were disgusting. Matthew, the collective consciousness of Saint, remembered encountering several sentient reptilian species in its eons of interstellar wandering. Few of them were very friendly and many more than one had been downright hostile. Mammals; now there was the way to go!

-click- "Scooby dooby doo…" ARRGH!

-clickclickclickclickclick- Sera tossed the remote down in disgust. Two hundred channels and nothing on but infomercials, sports, a whacko Aussie reptile-lover, cartoons and some show named "Law and Order". Maybe there was something showing at the movies.

The petite orange-haired general-purpose android picked up her jacket but just as she reached the door there was a knock. Sera swung the door open. "I'm just on my way out, can you… Oh. Well, it looks like the little "lost boy" has finally returned. Hello, Ryoga. What a surprise; long time, no see, little brother." She opened the door wider and gestured for him to enter.

"That's "Ryuga", with a 'u'," the Saint warrior mumbled. "I wish you'd stop calling me that. Besides, I'm never lost; I have internal GPS."

Sera's eyebrows rose as Minawa followed Ryuga. The blonde cyborg seemed to trip over the doorjamb and sprawled into the entryway, one shoe falling off, thus negating the need for her to remove it before entering the house itself. She got to her feet too rapidly and lost her balance, hitting the wall with her shoulder. She finally managed to stabilize herself and began to apologize. Sera shook her head in disbelief. Slash pushed past Minawa, almost knocking her over again as he padded into the house.

"Hello, useless," the cat growled as he passed Sera. She aimed a kick for his midsection but he saw it coming and slid out of the way.

"Slash!" admonished Minawa, smacking the cat on the nose. "Be polite." She bowed to Sera so deeply that Ryuga held out a hand to catch her in case she fell over. "Thank you for welcoming us into your home and I apologize for the rude behavior of Slash." She spared him a glare. "He should know better."

Slash rubbed his sensitive snout with a paw. "Watch it, I bite."

Ryuga and Sera both broke into laughter. "You've been away too long Little Sister," the male android told her. "Slash and Sera actually get along very well."

"Especially since I kicked his furry butt in our last match." She reached down and patted the great cat on the head, hard. "Nice to see you too, Slashy."

"Hey, you tricked me that time," the cat said with a grimace. "My guard was down. Besides, it's not like it was a real match; you're a g-p model while I'm a combat support mech. In a real fight, I'd eat you for dinner."

"I'm sure you would," she said, giving him a final "thwack". "And you'd probably enjoy it too."

Minawa stepped into the living area without falling and looked around; she was pleased to see that Sera had kept the house reasonably clean and tidy. There was some clutter, but not enough to worry about. She went to sit at one end of the couch but missed, knocking over the table. The table bumped into a chair, which tipped over and landed on Ryuga's foot. Ryuga grabbed the injured extremity and started hopping around.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Minawa started repeating. Sera sighed and picked up the table and chair, returning them to their former places. Then she guided Minawa safely onto the couch. "Some warrior you are," she told her brother. "Stop bouncing around like that before you really break something."

Ryuga stopped in mid hop. He lowered his foot and gingerly tested his weight on it. "Seems to be fine," he muttered. Sera took a seat next to Minawa, who was still apologizing, while Ryuga sat in the chair that had injured him. Slash glared around the room at everyone then made his way out to the back yard to look for Guri. No one saw the amused and content expression on his feline face as he left. Things were finally returning to normal as far as he was concerned.

"Would anyone like some tea? Snacks?" Sera offered. "I'm afraid I don't have much, pay day's not until Friday."

Minawa nodded. "Tea would be fine," she said in her quiet voice.

"Just tea for me as well," Ryuga told his older sister. "It's rather chilly out there this evening."

Sera got up and headed off into the kitchen. "Well, winter is just around the corner," she called back to him as she pulled three cups from a cabinet. "What did you expect?"

"So, Sera," Ryuga called back. "Payday? You're really getting into this 'living as a human' thing, aren't you? Saint can provide you with all the funds you need, you know."

Sera came back into the living room carrying a tray with the tea and a stack of cookies on it. She set it down on the small table and gestured for them to help themselves. "Well," she told her brother, "If one expects to live as a human, one also has to accept the limitations that go with it."

"Within reason," Ryuga said.

"I don't think working for a living is unreasonable. You taught school for a while."

The handsome male android smiled. "And I will be again, very soon."

Sera's eyes widened and she turned to look at Minawa, quietly sitting and eating a cookie. "I take it this means that you'll be staying then?"

Minawa blushed. "Yes, I would very much like to stay here and continue in school. I realize that there's only one year left, but I've been thinking of applying to some Universities."

"I don't see that as a problem," Sera told her. "I've put your things in the guest room and moved mine into Suguru's old space. I've come across some rather… interesting wallpaper too."

Ryuga raised an eyebrow. "You disposed of it, I hope."

Sera grinned. "Sort of. It's all stored in the basement, wrapped in air-tight plastic."

"Sera! Don't you know…"

She interrupted the line. "…Not all dirty thoughts are bad. In fact, I'm finding that Earth males seem to revel in them and consider them quite normal. Why, I can't begin to count the number of times I've been propositioned or asked out on a date since I started my job."

Ryuga stared at her in shock. "You… you… you haven't accepted any of course. Have you?"

Sera smiled slyly.

"Um… excuse me," Minawa broke in. "But I would like to ask a favor." Sera turned and looked at her. "Um… um… well… um… I guess that… well, if I'm going to stay here, I would like… that is, would you let me… I want to be a maid again. Please?"

Sera looked at Ryuga, who shrugged. She turned back to Minawa. "You know you don't have to…"

"But I want to. Big Sister always told me that a clean house is a happy house."

Sera glanced back at Ryuga again, but her brother had his eyes closed and was smiling. She sighed. "All right. I suppose. But I really can't afford to pay you…"

Minawa's eyes lit up in joy and she grabbed Sera's hand. "Oh thank you. Thank you so much. I'll do my best, and I don't expect payment; just letting me stay here is payment enough."

Ryuga slapped his thighs and stood up. Well, that's all settled. I suppose I'd better be returning to the ship now." He looked around. "SLASH! Time to go!"

"I'm here," said the cat from behind him. Guri was sound asleep and drooling happily on Slash's head.

Ryuga jumped, and given that he was a combat android, it was a wonder he didn't jump right through the ceiling. He landed across the room and clutched his chest. "Don't do that. You'll scare me to death."

"One can but hope," said the cat. "If you don't mind though, I think I'd like to stay here with Minawa."

"For tonight?"

The cat lay down on his belly and crossed his paws. "No, for good. Someone needs to look out for her, don't they? Besides, I promised Mahoro."

Ryuga nodded. "I understand. Well, goodnight to you all; I'll see you in a few weeks, when the new school term starts." He left and there was the twinkle of a transport beam reflected through the window.

Sera turned to Slash, her hands on her hips. "Great, another mouth to feed. Just don't expect gourmet meals; on my budget it's dry cat food for you bub."

Slash snorted. "I don't really need to eat anyway, but red meat's a treat on occasion."

"Go catch a mouse."

Slash grinned, his sharp, pointed teeth gleaming in the light of the lamp. "Actually, I was thinking of something a bit larger."

"Oh yeah? Anywhere, anytime you great smelly beast."

Slash snorted again in mock derision. "What are you gonna do, kill me with kindness?"

Minawa took a last sip of her now cold tea as the two continued to argue. It was hard to believe that they actually liked each other, but it was certainly good to be home.

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Cue singing Triomatic cheerleaders…

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Next Chapter: Minawa – High School Senior

Minawa returns to school and renews acquaintances with the old gang. Hamadi, who's been pining after her for two years is finally happy.

And what's up with Rin and Kiyomi? No! It can't be, can it?

Life, it seems, goes on; but will an intrusion by a rogue Management android break up Minawa's newfound happiness?

Did I mention there's going to be a bathhouse scene?

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Author's Notes.

It's short, I know. But it just about covers everything I want to cover in the first chapter.

Okay, I'm trying to fill in the gap of twenty years between episode 25 and 26. I'll be concentrating on mostly the secondary characters, the ones Mahoro and Suguru left behind when they fled. I'll not attempt to cover every detail of their lives; instead I'll be bouncing ahead from time-to-time, basically focusing on Minawa.

For those of you that have never seen the series, it's never explained just what Saint is going to do with Minawa, aside from fix her after she was badly damaged in the fight with Feldrance; so there may be other revelations of her time with Saint within the various chapters.

Maybe someday I'll go back and cover Suguru's time over the twenty years. And then again, maybe not; it is sort of spelled out in the series itself, albeit scantily.

I would like to thank JohnnyG for allowing me to run parts of this by him; and a special thanks goes to Ministry Agent (AKA Mr. Mitts, PISCES or whatever name he's currently using for whatever story he's working on) for being my sounding board for plot ideas and character development. Read his stuff, it's really well written and funny (regardless of what he thinks). I couldn't (wouldn't) have done it without you, dude. Dude? Now where the hell did that come from? I really need to get a life.

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Damn it, what's up with this? I can't use my beloved asterisks for separators anymore? -SOB-