Hic!

Oh, man, that, like, really hit the spot. I can feel a nice feel-good buzz coming on, now.

...

Huh? Oh, right, the story. The STORY! Well, like I was sayin', I can remember it like it happened yesterday...


Of XVII and XVIII

Talk 1-2:

"The worst hangover of my life."

An Experimental Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha AU(?) fanfic by James "Ray" Edwards

Technical Assistance and Advisory provided by Tempest Dynasty


It was a Saturday, when I rose from the sheets to smell the sun, in my own apartment off base, and run to the bathroom to evacuate the sick in my guts. Just got back from deployment, meaning thirty days of post deployment leave - WOO~HOO! - so you bet I was loaded on cash, and what's an almost twenty something year old, accomplished badass supposed to do with that much plastic? Spend it on women and booze.

Oh, I was having the worst hangover of my life. I felt every inch of the way I looked in the mirror that was undeniably not sexy. Not sexy meant not Vice, period, and that was a discrepancy that I had to be corrected as soon as humanly possible. Shoot, the pad was a mess too, like a tornado just came through a garbage dump. Clothes everywhere. Furniture turned over. And there was even a stinky pile of regurgitated nasty on the floor. Yeah, last night must of have been crazy, because I didn't remember jack squat about it.

Low crawling my way through the disaster zone, I managed to arrive at the kitchen unmolested to pluck an ice cold powerade out of the fridge. Electrolytes and fluids always helped to get your body up to speed faster. Now, I could actually stand up and comprehend the full breadth of my situation.

"Pig disgusting," was my thoughts exactly. I can't even imagine I made it home and crawled all the way into the covers last night.

Now, I'm not a clean freak in the slightest, but I am a stickler for manly cleanliness. Can't bring a girl home if the moment the fumes hit her, she gets knocked out cold. Dress to impress also applies to clean to impress, so at the ungodly hour of 0730 in the morning-

...

Oh, Yukarin~, told ya my memory's great, just like I remember the colors of your-

...

Ow, you meanie, but that's why I'm even more addicted to you.

...

0730 in the morning, I about face and run to my cleaning supply closet wherefore an incredible transformation occurred: WHA-CHA! Enter, Master Vice the Invincible Practitioner of the Eightfold Scuzz Brush and Mister Clean. His opponent, Unholy Apartment Pigsty of the Eight-pointed Star, was no match! Praise She of Fair Blue Windex!

Amen.

...

What? I'm dead serious here. I still clean my place up boot camp style by running around on all fours with a towel instead of a mop, and thanks to those staticky disposable cloth-thingies, I can dust that way too. Hey, you gotta take every opportunity possible to stay in shape and burn fat, if a man wants to be as sexy as the Vice!

Yeah, I spent a good hour doing that, sipping some water and sneaking in a super healthy protein bar while I go, when I get this. Phone. Call. Big holographic screen pops up in the air letting me know, and I was seething red with righteous, savvy indignation. What is wrong with these people? Don't they know it's a faux pas to interrupt a man admiring the masterpiece that came from the very sweat of his brow?

My landlady-

...

What? You didn't know I had a landlady back then? Aw, she was a wonderful gal (brunette or was it black?) with two little girls, twins, blonde hair, like to talk and say "Chii?" in unison, and I'd say about to enter junior-high at that point. Man, I just know they'll be beautiful like the Missus in another few years too-OW!

...

Alright, alright, my lovely meanie. But yeah, Phone. Call. Just when I thought my day was going to start looking up. Well, ain't no use in running, since I was pretty sure I blocked all the telemarketers, so it must be someone who got my phone number the legit way, hopefully. Press the button and mind the sound only. I didn't look presentable right now.

"G'morning~, is this the Gransenic residence?" a voice I definitely, absolute did NOT know said to me, sound only, too.

Of course, had it been some sweet broad I had yet to come to know, I would not have been as put off. What I got, though, was someone or something that was definitely not of the two X-chromosome persuasion. I know a "drag queen" when I hear one, a man's dark bass-baritone trying hit that low womanly contralto, totally physically impossible, by exaggeration. And that old bad feeling began to assert itself in my gut, 'cause any sniper worth his or her salt knows when they are being - watched.

"Yes, and how can I help you sir-or-ma'am?" I replied on the level, betraying none of the bad mojo screwing me up tight.

"Ooo~, just your voice already lives up to your reputation, Sergeant Gransenic."

Calm down, Vice; calm down. It's not like he was really coming on to you. By nature, most okama are habitual flirts. Flirting for them is like saying "Hi!". If an okama is not flirting with you, seven times out of ten it means you are about to be in some deep bad business.

"Eh, you know you can't believe all the gossip, not that I'm saying either it doesn't have some grain of truth to it."

"Ho ho, I think you and me are going to get along just fi~ne, Sergeant. Oh, but where are my manners? Section Supervisor Bobby Margot; just Bobby's fine, all the sweet darlin's at the office are on first name basis with me. I'm with the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services."

(You can imagine the look on my face.)

Wait. WHAT! ACF?! What do they want with me? I always play it safe! Hell, I didn't even enjoy the company of the fairer sex until I got back from deployment, 'cause when I'm on duty over the wire, the last thing Vice thinks about is pooney-thang. That is absolutely not something you want to think about it in a hostile environment where people are trying to kill you! ...so how the hell did this happen?!

"Sergeant, do you have time today?" Bobby put my craziness on hold effectively. "If you could, come on down to the foodcourt at Junes, say around noon?"

"W-wait...you're in Inaba?" I replied back, maybe a little too breathless for my tastes. But, hey, it was a lot to take in at once.

At the time I was living off base in Inaba. Hey, SpecOps, Scout Snipers, and a whole lot more of our kind needs room to roam, and there is not a whole lot going on in that sleepy town, anyways. On the upside, it was only an hour way by magtrain to your place, Yukarin, and I like to think that us folks in uniforms and-or our families helped to add a little something to the benefit of the local economy and "color" too.

"That I am, Sergeant. And please, do come. You'd be the sweetest darling ever on such short notice!"

Oh, I know, that particular sweet tone of voice. Women use it all the time when they really mean you'd better show up, or it's the dog house for you tonight. ...I don't want to imagine what a half-decent bureaucrat like Bobby could do to me, considering I dislike paying laywers, but I do like to enjoy "her" kind of high-class company on occasion.

"No problem, I'll see you there. Dress casual?"

"Oh, definitely, Sarge! Contact info?"

Pretty much, I didn't have an exit strategy at all.


Junes was pretty much what you would expect out of any big-time franchised one-stop-for-all shopping mall. Big multi-storied place, lots of people, constant chatter, and that special - vibrancy, y'know - when a lot of folks come together in one spot. The food court was what you would expect, nice big plaza, tons of different vendors or straight dine-in joints, and they had a little playground type of deal to keep the families happy.

Still, that was a lot of bodies moving around, and I had no idea where to find Mister Margot. Five minutes early I was, but it was going to cut it close, if I am going into this mess blind. Call him? Sounds like the reasonable thing to do.

Vrrmmm, vrrmmm...

Don't you just love the convenience of modern living sometimes? Text messaging saves the day.

It was soon after that that manly voice spoke up to me in classical girlish hello, "Oh, Vice~y, so good to see you!"

Vicey? Man, I couldn't help but shudder inwardly a little. It's a first impression shock thing when it comes to meeting with okama. Bobby Margot, though, definitely impressed me. He was my senior for sure, maybe an islander since that tan looked pretty permanent and natural, not to mention that sweet, sly two-toned perm he had going for him. Can't imagine why a stern looking, tough guy like that decided he was born on the wrong side of the fence.

Then again, when someone acts like a woman and shakes hands like a man? It's hard to say why he even does some things. Oh well, the constitution says it's a "free" and "equal" society, though honestly, I don't think we heterogeneous species will ever get over folks who go "astray" per say. Same goes for the color of your skin. Eyes. Hair. Where you were born. It's just…

Circumstances.

"Vicey?" I asked him, with a tic of my brow.

"Just a little S.O.P. courtesy," Bobby rubbed his swell goatee, shooting me the kind of immaculate look an artist would give to his model. "Mm, mm, mmm! Handsome with a sensible taste in fashion. I think you passed my first test, already. Amazing that a young wild thing like you hasn't been tamed yet, Vice~y."

"I'm too devil-may-care for the ladies to get attached to, Bobby. 'sides, long distance relationships never work out."

"Oh, honey," he laughed, big and hearty, "I'm beyond the stage in my life where I need my feelings to be reciprocated."

"Age before beauty?" I treaded carefully.

"Everytime, all the time, Vice~y. But, c'mon, you don't have to work your magic an old auntie like me. Go ahead, ask away, darlin'."

Yup, that's Bobby Margot for you. Former straight man, former hairdresser, former makeup artist, former PMC - a helmsman, too, so he would come to tell me, and now, a rainbow-hued civil servant, looking out for kids and families in the New Deal society.

"In that case: tsk, what's up, Doc?" I do my best impression of Bugsy Bunny for Bobby.

The me back then was not really good at acting serious. I guess, that's one thing about me that did not change. Only time I get serious is when I'm looking through a scope. All bets are off then.

"Be very quiet, I'm huntin' for Gransenic," he catches on and drops all that sugar coated saccharine, revealing just how much man his own voice really was. It sent a chill up my spine for a moment, like I was in the presence of a general or admiral who had been out there and done it all. Deep. And some real soul.

A twinkle started shining in Bobby's big daddy brown eyes, and the man says to me:

"Vice, how well do you think you really know yourself?"

I raise a brow at that line of thinking:

"What's there to know about me that I don't already know, Bobby?"

Bobby's face turns sad, ornery like the kind you'd expect on a whipped dog. It definitely doesn't suit him, and I have to wonder if he's playing games with me. Nah. He has to be a better gent than that.

"Man, I promise you, this isn't about some girl you pulled into the sack some time ago that you can't even remember anymore."

Still, I can't help but get a little pissed off.

"I learned real young that running away never solves anything. And, buddy-my friend-ol' pal, I'm living proof that some wolves work better alone. Can you imagine what I'm going through as we sit here chit-chatting like nothing's wrong, even though, we both know you're about to lay it on thick; some BS that's going to change my life forever. I like the way I am, Bobby, and I don't want to change."

The man winces, bringing a hand up to his temple, troubled feelings clearly squirming on his stern face, which suddenly seemed to age a couple hundred years in a blink of an eye.

"Guess it was too much to hope you'd be ready for this, Gransenic, but thinking less of you won't change a thing either."

That I'd be ready for what? Who the hell would want a complete stranger showing up to mess up their life? I know, he's got some kind of bad mojo for me. There is no way in hell it was my fault either. Vice always plays it safe and Vice knows mistakes are a big no-no. Keep it casual; keep it ephemeral, like a sweet midsummer's dream.

"Could you do me a favor?" Bobby changed the subject out of the blue, back to his happy girly self all over. Clapping his hands together in supplication, "I was actually here on business today, but seeing as you're an experienced casanova, who ought to know how to make a girl feel special."

"A girl?" I said, feeling my own pissed-offness getting ejected out the trash chute too.

"Mind keeping her company for the day?"

Company? Me? But what's a guy like Bobby be accompanying girls for? Oh wait, my mistake. Just because he is an okama doesn't mean he doesn't like playing both sides of the game that sonuvagun.

"Don't worry, she's way more woman than you can handle," Bobby shoots me a smug look.

The man sure knows how to push my buttons, and there was no way Vice Gransenic was going to back off now.

"Seriously-shoot, the time! Look, her curfew's nine in the evening, but oh, that's right she's on summer break right now, too (so that'd be ten...). I'll text you the specifics later, though I don't mind if she spends the night with you. I'll pick her up in the morning. Oh, and here's two-hundred credits to cede your little adventure!"

Bobby chuckling red-faced promptly shoves the plastic "gold" into my hands. It's awful generous of him; maybe too generous.

"Buy her something - nice."

Why did I get a bad feeling about this, Yukarin? Wouldn't you if someone was paying you, pretty much, to take an acquaintance of he or she out for a good time?

"Tha~nks! Promise to make it up you. Buh-bye! And remember: Eye. Have. You~, darlin'!"

Of course, by the time I muster up the nerve to ask, the two-toned bandit's already making good his get away, and oh, he forwarded me the data too.

...

Sorry, I am pausing for dramatic tension.

...

"What am I a BABYSITTER!?"


Hey, can I have another drink?

...

Sorry, I'm kinda sobering up here. Please?

...

All right, I know better than to rush the Master, but anyways...


I found the object of my trivial mission not too far away. I'll be honest she was way too young to be worrying about being fashion conscious already. Chestnut hair about chin-length, probably could use hair conditioning and bunch of other things to really make it beautiful, slate blue eyes... Reminds me of mine...(wonder if we had the same?) I'd say she'll probably be beautiful in the coming years, provided a proper diet, exercise, and a decent bunch of parents to watch over her. Last thing the world needs is another FUBAR'd colonial rat-bugger like me.

Still, I gotta say I was totally skeptical on that green ensemble: sweater, short blazer, skirt, shoes, socks... The only that was not green was her little carry-on purse colored khaki. What the hell was this? Some kind of prison uniform? And by Lady Luck, now it makes perfect sense why she was staring into the window of a women and girls' clothing store, so intently. I am definitely taking this kid out shopping for some threads, and I know just the place to take her that she can really get the most out of two-hundred creds, but first...

I clear my throat and holler out as sly as a devil, "Y'know, it's not polite to window shop, 'lil miss, when it really looks like you want to buy something."

Making a lasting first impression is important, regardless of who you meet, though I would not recommend the snarky approach on everyone. It takes skill to be a good scoundrel, yeah?

Suffice to say, I got the little one's attention. She does a neat one-eighty on me in a flash, backing up instinctively and runs into the glass, which earns a surprisingly cute "Owwiee~" out of her and threatening to set loose a whole bunch of crocodile tears. Now, red-faced for any number of reasons, the little girl stares up at me, quite a bit of courage there on her part, and jabs an accusing pointing finger out, saying:

"Y-You...rude...h-handsome person. It's not nice to s-sneak up on girls!"

Wow, this kid is awfully precocious.

"And it's rude to block other people's view, 'sides I'm a feminist, so I do it to everyone."

"A fem-in-ist?" she shoots me a deadpanned look, letting the load gun that was her finger fall to the side. "Big words are stupid, Mister."

Ouch. Score one for the little puppy. She's not as defenseless as she looks. And what's that? A black, no, obsidian cross hanging from a neck-

"Fue, fue, fue! S-Stop staring like that; it's sexual harassment, Mister!"

What the hell? Didn't the kid just big words are stupid and then she uses one herself, but more importantly...

Now, it was my turn to be embarrassed, a palm finding its way to my face, and a bit worried too, noting that her little outburst had drawn a few curious glances from passer-bys and folks loitering.

"Bobby was right. You really are more woman than I can handle," I made to seem like I lost and was repentant.

At my words, the girl's mood takes another one-eighty, a lot more receptive to me all of a sudden. Flighty little thing isn't she?

"Uwaaaa~, you know Mister B?" she beams to me. I swear, I can see little flowers and whatnot sparkling over her head. Guess Bobby's even more of an upstanding man than I expected. Good on him.

"Yeah. He had to run, so I'm his replacement for the day."

The chestnut-haired little thing deflates at my news, pouting in that endearing way girls at her tender age know how to do. Not that I am saying you don't know how to do it, Yukari-

...

Ow. Touchy, touchy. But, anyways.

"Fue~... So you're the big surprise, Mister? B-o-r-ing~."

Man, that girl was totally not buying into my au natural charm, or maybe she doesn't like wolves?

"Hmmm," she puts a finger to her lips in a thoughtful pose, one hand to her elbow and her hip cocked to the side. It was quite the dainty, adult gesture, as she sized me up and down. Wonder who she learned it from?

"What's your name, Mister?"

Ooo, chance!

"Now, is that any way for a proper little princess to act?" I fancy her a wink with a sly thought of my own, closing one eye. "You ought to know it's polite to give your name first before asking someone for theirs, right?"

All is fair in love and war, right? Well, technically, I was just trying to get on this kid's good side. She was pretty tough compared to the supposedly grown women I deal with usually. It's funny how people in normal society really don't grow up that fast.

Little Miss Chestnut turns bright red and brings up her hands, shaking - almost flailing them defensively, yet almost as if she's trying to pantomime her words to me. "Um. Um! It's-" she pauses and does a quick little pirouette... Wonder if she might have a future as a ballerina or a dancer? Still, the eye's of a sniper never lie, and I catch the subtle flit of slate blue, before the girl answers me with a completely straight face, arms akimbo on her hips.

"Vivre Ferririo! And you-"

I don't know what disease struck me, but out of the blue, I cut loose a sigh bend to her level by the knees as my hand reaches out to ruffle her hair.

"Vice Gransenic, enchante, and just now you made the name up from my shirt and the designer dress in the window, didn't you, Naughty Little Miss Silvertongue?"

"Ah... Ah-wawawa, what a thing!" she laughed sheepishly, turning beet red. Totally. Completely. Unrepentant. "D-Did I mess up?"

I feel sorry for the special someone who's going to fall into her gunsights one day.

"That trick doesn't work on wolves very well. We have nice big eyes for a reason."

"Hmmm," little chestnut cocks her head aside, a pondering smile on her face, "Clever Laguna thinks you pass, Handsome Vice, tee hee hee!"

And just like that, before I can even give it a thought, she darts away pulling me along by the hand.

"C'mon, c'mon! And it's really Laguna Gransenic, so come along, another like Laguna from a different Cross!"

Imagine how my jaw dropped.


Clink.

He~y, that reminds me; Master, where's that drink? It shouldn't be taking this long.

...

But, Yukarin, I can't tell a good sh-tory while I'm...

...

Oh, w-well, I guess... Alright, I'll wait, but no mo' sho-tories 'til...so sleepy.


To be continued...


Author's Notes:

Not much to say here. R&R at your own leisure please, folks. The show will go on!

P.S. Oh, and by the way, TikiGod, can you renew your PM function, 'cause I can't reply to your reviews anymore unless that function is restored on your account. Blame 's newest user revision and whatnot.