Well, first there is the Literal Translation Project, without whom this fic would be quite different, and take a lot longer to write.
Next we have the FFML, who provide a much needed outlet for this, so that I can know that other people have at least read whatever it is before I send it to RAAC.
Next, we have ADV, who pressed my Eva DVD box set.
Next, we have Mangle, who pressed the Eva movies.
Next, we have my fans (all four of you) who occasionally asked if I'd ever finish this . . . Thanks.
And, last, but definately not least, we have Gainax, and Anno-san, without whom I'd've never started this mess.
'Nuff of that.
A St. Suika Fenderson Roberts
"We don't have anything scheduled for the next couple days, right?"
"No, you're not. Why?"
"I've decided to go get some of my stuff, so I'm gonna be absent from school for the next couple days." Misato looks at me like I've got a third eye on my forehead.
"What a stupid thing to do!" Asuka rants at me, "I mean, I've finished off college, but you need to learn this junk!"
"Two days won't damage things that much. I assume you don't want to come with me, then," she shakes her head emphaticly.
"Well, then, I'm off." I pick up my bag, put my dishes in the sink, put my shoes on, then walk out the door. I'll ask Rei too, just to see. Which train does she take, anyway. . .
I wait for her to get off the train, walk up to her when she does.
"Ayanami-san, would you like to help me move my stuff to Misato's apartment?" she pauses, thinking.
"Where is your stuff, and how long will it take?"
"Kyoutou, and about two days."
She stands there for a moment, expressionless, then smiles her tiny smile.
"I'd like that, Shinji-kun."
I have to smile back at her.
"Do you need to get anything from your apartment and do you have your plugsuit?"
"No, and why do I need my plug suit. I have it, though." Her expression shifts to curiosity.
"I'm planning on borrowing my aunt's motorcycle to haul my junk, and I'm not sure if I have a set of leathers that will fit you." she smiles again, just the faintest bit broader.
"I've wanted to ride a motorcycle."
"I'll buy your ticket for the train, then." We walk to the ticket counter, and I purchase two tickets on the shinkansen.
We sit down to wait for the train, and I fish out my DAT player, pop ETL out and feed it BBHC. I start it playing, dig the fourth volume of the Five Star Stories manga out of my bag, start to read, and notice after a page that Rei is just staring at the wall. I stop the tape and pop the earphones out.
"What is wrong?" She shakes her head.
"Nothing. Why do you ask."
"You look so bored. Can I loan you a manga?"
She nods, suddenly so shy. I dig the first volume of FSS out, and hand it to her. Soon she is buried in the story, and I put away volume four to concentrate on my tape.
She's on the third volume by the point that the train gets here, and I have to tap her on the shoulder when it comes time to board.
She's read all of them three times by the time the shinkansen reaches Kyoutou.
"We're here," she looks up at me, "I'll call my aunt to see if we can't bum a ride." She nods, and stands as the train slows to a stop. We disembark together, slip through the crowd looking for a quiet spot to call from. It takes four rings for her to answer.
"Yello?" Yep, it's Ranma all right.
"Ranma-chan!" She's never let me call her 'Obasan,' or any of it's synonyms, "It's me, Shinji. I was wondering if I could talk you out of a ride home for me and my friend."
There is a slight pause as she either checks what she's supposed to do today or consults with her spice, then she replies.
"Sure. How much junk do you have with you?"
"Not much. Two school bags between us."
"I'll bring Beemu-chan, then," her Beemu-chan is an old BMW with a sidecar, named after the one owned by our friend Morisato Keiichi. "You took the shinkansen, right?" I make an afirmative noise, and she continues, "I'll meet you in front of the station in about thirty minutes, then." We exchange a last few pleasantries, and I hang up the phone.
"You'll get to ride a motorcycle a bit sooner than you might have expected. Ranma-san's bringing her motorcycle with the sidecar, and she'll be here in about a half hour. Said she'd meet us out front, so . . ." I wave her towards the door, following a few paces behind her, admiring her self-consiously. I've always worried about how proper it was to watch someone, despite Ranma telling me repeatedly that admiring someone is fine, even letting them know that one admires them is fine, only pressing the matter and acting like I have a right to do anything more than admire is wrong. Asuka doesn't help, I must admit.
Rei finds a seat on a convieniently protruding bit of building, pats the space between her and the wall. It'll be a bit tight, but she must know that, so I sit there, brushing the wall on one side and her hip on the other.
"Trade?" I proffer my DAT deck, holding out my other hand for the manga she has. She nods, taking the player as she hands me volume four. I turn to page 120, and by the time Ranma arrives I'm three pages into the sleeve notes. Rei pokes me in the side, and I look up to see Ranma pulling up to the curb.
"That's her. I'll take the sidecar, if that's OK." She smiles just a hair brighter than the last time, and my heart almost stops. Goddess.
"That would be perfect." Ranma tosses me my helmet before I can respond, and I leap to catch it, the starburst patterns in reflective tape still sharp, having been replicated twice on two successive helmets. I make sure that Rei has the spare helmet on right, then climb into the sidecar while Rei climbs on behind Ranma, wrapping her arms about the woman's waist. Ranma politely doesn't do what she would have had I been alone, and drives away with all three wheels on the ground at a fairly sedate 45 KPH. The two of them chatter animatedly, or as animatedly as one can on a motorcycle without an intercom, about motorcycles, riding, Ranma, and Ranma's spice. Rei seems totally shocked by the fact that Ranma has two legal, female, spice.
"How did that happen?" Rei asks.
"I fell in love with both of them, they each agreed that they could deal with the other, we lived together for a while, and then we all got married. It was a little bit of a strange ceremony, I must admit." Rei makes a rather strange contemplative sound. I pass it off as nothing.
"We're here. Rei-chan, you can get off. Shinji-chan, I expect you for dinner tomorrow night, OK?" I nod, then ask.
"Can I borrow your GoldWing? I need to move my stereo and some other junk I've got to Toukyou-3." She looks worried, so I continue, "Look, I didn't drop it last time, or run it over, up, or off any curbs. And I'll be on the highway, which will make things easier." She doesn't look too convinced, but finally nods. She pulls her Beemu-chan into the garage, takes her helmet off, and sets it on the gastank before walking back out under the closing door.
"Don't forget you're coming to dinner tomorrow night, and I will be quite upset if you trash the GoldWing." I hug her, once again ever so glad to have her as a friend and surrogate parent.
"I won't." She kisses me on the forehead, and sends me upstairs with a slight push.
"This is my apartment. I've had it all to myself for pretty much the last ten years." Rei looks at me and tries to echo 'ten years,' but doesn't send enough air past her vocal chords for it to be audible. I giggle at the sight. "Ranma-san and her spice pretty much took over, raising me like I was their own. I sometimes worry about what would have happened if they hadn't. I need to check my email, then I'll make lunch, OK?" She nods, and I pull BBHC from my pocket, then feed it to the DAT drive on my stereo. With a quick whirring noise it begins to be copy onto the 800 TB nanocore drive, which will then sync with the main archive, and spread my copy of BBHC across the globe.
"Isn't that a little dangerous?"
"What? Having the DAT set to auto-copy?" I can feel her nod, even half-engrossed in the email I haven't touched for days. Ten messages down, thirty-nine to go. "I've got it set up so that it can't execute anything it drags off, and it bit-buckets anything that isn't proper audio data or meta data. Combined with the fact that I have the console physically locked up, it's pretty safe." A few minutes later I've finished, and the stereo is done syncing. I close the ancient Toshiba Libretto that I use as a control console, once more glad of the pair of modified bluetooth cards. Rei looks at it in wonder, modern devices in such a small form factor are just unavailable.
"It was my mother's. She left it, her motorcycle, and this appartment to me when she died. I first got into music when I was 8, because of this. I joined Archive less than six months later. Now I'm one of the four Japanese Archive mirrors." She looks impressed, something that I hadn't expected at all.
"Ichijou Miyuki." I blink at her in shock. How had she figured that out, I didn't think that I'd let slip enough clues for just anyone to piece it together.
"She's the only one of the mirrors that runs off of a dot ac dot jp address, she dropped out of sight from 2004 until 2009, and your speech patterns are slowly getting closer to her writing style." She walks up to me, presses one hand against my cheek, "If you get uncomfortable you can tell me to stop or slow down." She pushes me towards the open door to my bedroom, pressing her belly against my crotch.
"Shinji-kun, what happened to you?" I stammer for a few instants, then she continues, "I'd guess this has something to do with your recent changes. Don't worry, I'm not disappointed."
She kisses me on the lips for emphasis, and I stumble over my own feet; her tounge slipping between my lips takes too much CPU for me to keep walking. She falls on top of me, just inside the doorway to my room. She takes it as an opportunity to pull my uniform shirt off, unbuttoning it quickly, one-handed as her other hand slides up my undershirt, cupping my breast, nibbling lightly at my neck. Blessed Eris, but that feels good. I gasp encouragement, wiggle out of my shirt as best I can without dislodging her from on top of me.
[ rest of scene chokki (snipped) in the interests of getting this out quickly ] [ and avoiding that 'lemon' tag, even though the sex is rather important ] [ to the flow of the story. I'll just pretend it got written. --S. ]
My alarm, sensing at least one warm body in the room, goes off at six-thirty in the morning. I wake to the most deliciously warm weight on top of me, muzzily wrap my arms about it, wake up a little more as I realize that it is Rei, her head pillowed on my breast and the tip of her strap-on pressed to my belly near my navel. She blinks at me, far more awake than she has any right to be.
"Morning, Shinji-chan." I blink at the change in honorific, decide that I like it, and smile up at her. "We should take a bath," there is a little bit of regret in her voice, but she kisses me lightly on the lips and stands; walking from my room her strap-on bobs ridiculously with each step she takes. I lever myself up off the futon, glad we'd had enough sense to lay it out yesterday before things got too far, and follow her towards the bathroom; decide at the last instant that I need to drain my bladder _now_, rather than after a bath.
I slip on the toilet slippers and use the toilet, open the door to see Rei waiting. I shed the slippers quickly, and she puts them on and closes the door. I walk to the bathroom, start the tub filling, notice her harness hung on a hook, her strap-on on the floor next to the shower. I fill a bucket and douse myself with warm water while I wait.
I'm just starting to get cold when she walks through the door, dropping down behind me to nibble on the back of my neck, causing me to arch my back, pressing into the carress of her teeth.
"Not now, after our bath," the regret in her voice is obvious now.
"Then we'd have to take another bath, wouldn't we?" She presses herself against my back, nods her head against my shoulder. "So either we go ahead now or we put it off for a while. I don't know about you, but I don't think sex proves we love each other. It's the other things, being willing to hold hands or kiss in public, the knowledge that the other will back one up when one needs it, and being there when things aren't going as well as they could."
She hugs me tight, compressing my ribs slightly with the force of her grip. "I was worried," she pauses for a long instant, "that you didn't." She pauses for another moment, "Love me."
I reach behind me to wrap my arms around her, pull her firmly against me. "I worried the same." I'm shocked to find tears flowing down my face, I'd thought they'd all dried up a long time ago. Rei lets me go, shifts me around so I'm crying onto her shoulder, and holds me for quite a while. I calm down at last, murmur, "hontou ni arigatou," ever so softly, just barely loud enough for her to hear me.
"Dou itashimashitte," she replies, almost as softly. "We still need to wash," she says in a louder voice. I nod silently, and the mood shifts, as both of us get the same contemplative look on our faces, and things break down into a tickling match. Rei manages to pin me, and tickles me to the point that I turn green. Kimochi ii yo. She somehow knows to stop at that point, so I don't end up dry heaving on the tiles, just pleasantly queasy. I'm too far gone to move, so she washes us both quickly, efficiently, scrubbing my back with the force that only another person can apply. I've recovered a little bit by the time she finishes rinsing me off, so I scrub her back, the faint moans of pleasure warming my soul. I sluice her down and we slip into the tub, I'd missed bathing with others ever since I'd gone to Toukyou-3. I admit there is something different about having a bath with someone who isn't old enough to be one's grandmother, and who hasn't been bathing with one since one was four. It's very nice, actually. I lean into Rei's embrace, warm and more comfortable than I have been anywhere except an Eva cockpit in months.
After about a half-hour's soak we climb out, dry off. I carefully don't watch her, not wanting to strain my self control.
I leave the towel draped about my hips as I walk out to th living room, wake my Libretto, Misako, and check my email. There are four dozen 'Oh my goddess, where did you find _this_?' mails, and a couple from my net . friends in reply to the mails I'd sent the night before. I process-mark all of the 'Omg' mails, and reply to all of them at once, 'I picked it up in a record store that wasn't there. You wouldn't belive me if I elaborated.' a few of them will press for more, and I'll probably tell them, but that can wait for a bit. I mail the Archive maintainers, telling them that I'll be moving the server, and it will be down for a day or so, and when it comes back up it will be at 6e .4b .tokyo3 .nerv , and that they could alias it.
I check to make sure that there isn't anyone connected to my stereo and downloading things before I send it the shutdown command, watch while it unlinks from the net; kills off all the processes; unmounts both of the 5.25" full-height SCSI-5 drives, the 400 TB that was so large just four years ago, and the 800 TB that I'd replaced its partner with a year and a half ago; and powers down the optical vinyl player, the speakers, and the DAT drive. I frob the main power switch when it flashes 'rebooting.'
Next I try to stuff Misako into my pocket, only then realizing that I'm still only wearing a towel and Rei is standing behind me, dressed in her blouse. I quickly dig my school bag out while Rei posilutely radiates amusement, not that anyone who didn't know her would be able to tell. I slip Misako into one of the inside pockets, then drop the towel to put on my plug suit. I hit the switch and it squinches down tightly, squashing my breasts flatter, not that they aren't almost flat normally, but they are appallingly tender. That done I turn back to my stereo.
I unscrew the external SCSI cable from the back of the stereo, disconnecting first the speakers from the DAT drive, then the DAT drive from the vinyl player, then the external drive box from that, finally unplugging everything from the wall. I unfold the stereo's handle, picking the box up, again impressed at what DEC had managed to cram into a package the size of a VAXStation 2000. Near as I could tell, in fact, they had just used a VAXStation chassis. I set it on the floor, bound across the room in a single leap, and pull the boxes stacked in my closet out.
"Rei, the speakers should be stuffed into this box, the inserts only accept them one way." I toss the mid-sized box to her, then lob the boxes for the external SCSI drive case, the DAT, the vinyl player, and my stereo in that direction after she catches it. I walk back, carrying the MicroVax that I had used for the archive server before I got my stereo, because I haven't been practicing and I'd crush any of the boxes if I landed on them. It only takes a few moments to pack both the ancient, though modified, Sun drive box and my stereo safely. I hook the Vax up, turn it on, then go off in search of the sticky-tape as Rei puts the top insert into the speaker box. It takes me a few moments to find it, and when I return Rei has packed the DAT and is working on the OVP. I start to tape the boxes shut.
Rei asks, when I'm on the third one, "OK, now what?" She's both a lot more animated and a lot happier than I've ever seen her, and the way she phrases the short question suddenly clicks with other things, and congeals into a question.
"Amano Lantis-chan?" She nods, and her behavior towards me last night suddenly makes a lot more sense. We'd both been very discreet about our real lives, other than letting slip that we were about twenty, female, and _most_ of the things we did or said were true to our real selves. Finding out Lantis-chan was male would have been shocking, but this I could deal with pretty well. I finish taping the box I'm working on, then reply to her question.
"We need to finish taping the boxes, pack my clothes, and clean up the place before we leave." She nods, picks up the second roll of tape, and we finish the last two boxes.
I lead the way into my bedroom, pull out my old set of leathers. They're in fairly good shape, I just outgrew them. "Try these on. If they fit and you want them, they're yours," I tell her before stripping down, again, and digging for a set of boxers.
I can't help watching as she slips them on, she's not a lot smaller than I am, so they fit tightly, but the black and Gundam blue suits her better than it ever did me. I fish my current set out, a black, grey, and white dazzle pattern that I think suits me a little better. I finish zipping up the zipper, only to find Rei watching me closely.
"Thank you," she says, her voice small, she's always had a hard time saying that, so it means even more than it would have before I realized that she is Lantis-chan. I kiss her lightly, my lips just brushing the hollow where her jaw joins her throat, and she clutches me tightly, sagging against me, like I would have collapsed when she nibbled at my throat last night, had I not already been flat on my back on the floor.
"You'll need it. Problems come most often when one isn't prepared for them." She nods, firming her knees and straightening.
"So, what else do you have to pack?"
"Not much, my clothes, make sure Ranma has a copy of the the Fairlady's keys, and . . ." Rei cuts me off excitedly,
"Fairlady? As in Nissan Fairlady?"
"Yeah, she's a 240ZG, Mako-neechan gave her to me on my fourteenth birthday. Said that she'd gotten it a long time ago, and that she thought I'd take good care of her. She taught me how to drive, but I can't get a license for another couple years." My being a NERV asset, an 'international agent' to quote Misato, suddenly occured to me. Rei notices the sudden gleam in my eyes.
"What are you thinking? If it's that you could probably get away with driving it now, you should remember what happened to Misato-san's car." That dims the excitement a bit, but I still start packing franticly. Her voice turns contemplative as she continues, "That doesn't mean you couldn't drive about _here_, now does it?" I shake my head, and she starts packing as well, helping me squash my closet-full of fancy Chinese clothes into the two suitcases I have. I set aside four garments, two of which no longer fit me, but I couldn't bear to throw away. We each close a suitcase simultaneously; I glance up to make sure the closet is empty.
I strip out of my leathers, put on the pair of pants I'd left out for myself, tie the ankles and waist, then put the shirt on, button up the frogs and turn back the cuffs to show the white lining. Rei has the other set on, nearly identical, but a little bit smaller, the black lightly greyed from repeated washings. That had been my favorite outfit from the time I recieved it, when I was ten, until I finally grew out of it, and I'd made sure that I didn't damage it. Rei smiles at me, a smile so broad that it was almost normal.
"Coming?" She nods, and I slip out the door, snag two sets of keys off the hook by the door, stuff one into my shirt-pocket, and lock the door behind us with the other. She follows me down to the garage, and I point out some of the vehicles.
"That's the GoldWing," I point to the huge motorcycle in the middle of the row of bikes, "the Hawk is mine," I point out the green and silver painted bike on the end, "and the Fairlady is in the other room." I lead her through, slip between the bumpers and the wall as I work my way to her, explaining what each car is as I pass it, "This one is a '67 Subaru Ladybug, this is a '50 split-window beetle, '57 Kharmann Ghia, '64 Fairlady 240ZG," I slip up the driver's side, unlock the door while Rei walks around to the passenger's side. She slips into the passenger seat, and points inquisitively with her chin at the other three cars in the room. "Next over is a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, an old Triumph Spitfire that wasn't running as of the last I heard, and the last one is a lighthouse windowed '50 Studebaker Starliner Coupe. Most of the parts in the Starliner are replacements from other types of cars, though. I think she's got a rotary out of an RX-7 in her right now." I start the engine, hit the button to open the garage door, make sure that the mirrors haven't been moved, and turn to make sure Rei has her seat belt on.
"Rei, buckle up. I'm not _likely_ to get in an accident, but if I do and you're not wearing your seatbelt, it could be rather bad." She nods, putting on the seatbelt. I back out into the driveway, hit the button on the remote again. As soon as the door's closed all the way I pull back into the non-existant traffic, keeping carefully to the speed limit as I point out some of the features of Kyoutou, making a note to myself to bring Rei back when I have time to show her about the city, and Nara would be a lot of fun too.
"How long will it take us to get to Toukyou-3?"
"About four hours. Guess we'd better get back, then." I manage to get us back after only another half hour, if we work at it we can still get on the road before ten. I pause in the driveway, waiting for the garage door to open, then park Miria carefully in her spot.
"Does she have a name?"
"Miria?" She looks puzzled, pats the dashboard. "Yeah. Sorry I forgot to mention it. Mako-neechan named her."
"Nice name," she says as she climbs out, "after the Zentraedi pilot?" I hadn't thought of that, but it makes sense.
"Tabun." She nods as I lock Miria's doors, then follows me back into the motorcycle room. I move the pile of helmets off of the trailer, make sure the tires are at pressure, then back the GoldWing around, stopping with her possitioned to head out the door easily. It's only nine, so I don't expect anyone to be by, and it should be safe despite sitting crosswise to the door. I hook up the trailer, then head to my apartment, propping doors along the way. A half hour later we're changed, all of my stuff is packed into the trailer.
'The intercom hooks in like so,' I say, pressing the light device into its mount in the helmet, then dragging the mic into position. Lantis-chan nods in understanding.
And I realize that we haven't eaten, "Asagohan o tabenai no?"
She nods in agreement.
I knock at Ranma's apartment door, get no response, as I more than half expected. I key in, check Miria's keys against the set I think is Ranma's copy. They match.
The important stuff dealt with, we proceed to raid the rice-cooker, noticing the note on it, 'Shinji-chan, I fixed more than normal, so you'd better feed your friend too, --Ran.'
I fish out a pair of rice bowls, hand one and a set of chopsticks to Rei, set mine down next to the rice-cooker, rinse the scoop, then hold out my hand for Rei's bowl.
"Full." I manage to fill her bowl in two scoops, then hand it back to her.
"The soy sauce is by the sink." She takes it and splashes it liberally across her rice. Such a girl after my own heart; most people are appalled by the thought, some even get a bit queasy. Three scoops of rice later I have my bowl full, and, closing the cooker, I reach for the shouyu.
We down three bowls each, emptying the cooker, so I wash it along with the bowls.
"Yoush, we're off." Rei nods, and I pull the GoldWing's keys from the hook. I quickly run about, feeling quite silly, and make sure that all the doors are locked, then join Rei at the GoldWing. She climbs on behind while I steady the huge 'cycle, attaches the intercom to her helmet, then we wait as the engine warms. I put my helmet on, make sure the straps are tight, look behind me to make sure that Rei has hers on before testing the intercom.
"Rei, can you hear me?"
"Loud and clear." I slowly pull out into the driveway, make sure that the trailer is clear before I hit the button to close the garage door. Moments later we're pulling onto the freeway, and I momentarily regret taking the GoldWing. It does have a huge engine, bigger than the split-window, but it isn't as fun to ride with another person. Now that I consider it, that's probably a good thing, since I haven't ridden a bike in months and the trailer really mucks with the Hawk's suspension.
We chatter about the kinds of things we said we would have to if we ever met in person for a while, then she asks one of the questions I've been half waiting for, half fearing.
"Why haven't you been practicing the Arts? You said that the only times you felt like yourself were when you were practicing and doing email, and that dropped off greatly after your first fight with an Angel."
"My email dropped off partly 'cause I was in the hospital off and on, partly 'cause of the added trouble of the link to my stereo made it a pain to write any email, and for a big part because I felt rather broken. When I didn't get any reply for weeks I really began to worry that I'd somehow gotten you angry at me, and even the knowledge that finger said you hadn't logged in for, by the day I left for Toukyou-3, four weeks, six by the time you finally replied didn't help with that. I could tell you were hiding something, but I couldn't think of what. I knew I should practice my martial arts, and that it would make me feel better, but I just couldn't, and that made me feel worse, deepening the spiral." Rei squeezes my shoulder tightly.
"I knew you were hiding something too, and couldn't take the risk of finding out our relationship was just a game on your part. The very fact that I'd been hospitallized was top-secret until I went back to school." I hear her draw in a deep breath, which makes me wonder for a moment if the intercom's VOX circuit is working, "Why do you only feel like yourself when you are practicing or working on the martial arts?"
The other doozy of a question, "Because those are the two places that my gender doesn't matter. Living with Ranma I formed a firm opinion about who and what I am, and I found that my conduct was judged very differently outside Ranma's circle of friends. When I discovered the net I just used my mom's account, and I was shocked to find that my behavior, although unchanged, was read very differently, more like I expected. Did you ever read my 'list of reasons to be glad I'm not male?'" I feel her nod, continue, "then you know what I'm talking about, most of the incidents there are from my own life."
"Blessed," the weight of feeling behind that one word almost compresses the GoldWing's suspension.
I feel even closer to her when we finally arrive in Toukyou-3 than when I realized that she is Lantis-chan. She's actually started talking like Lantis-chan, too, which gives me some hope that she'll be a little bit more assertive from now on. The knowledge about her physical being is more troubling, for she is not human. Her soul is clustered about her belly rather than her head, like an Angel or an EVA, I suddenly realize, and is too _new_ for her age, this is barely her second incarnation. Ranma said that before Second Impact lots of people, 'far too many' in her words, had new souls. One still runs into some of them, but everybody born after Second Impact has an old soul that's been recycled at least three times. I'll ask Ranma, she'll know either what to do, how to cope, or who to talk to in order to find out.
It takes longer than I would like to cart all of my junk up to Misato's apartment, since one of us has to stay to watch the stuff while the other one carries. I take the first load, my stereo and the expansion box. I can feel Rei's amusement as I waddle slowly under the thirty-seven kilo mass. I find a clear spot in my room, moving several boxes aside, and plug my stereo into the ethernet drop and the expansion box, hooking both to the wall power socket.
Rei will take the next load, and I contemplate telling her as I walk back. I decide to trust her.
"Rei, we can get the rest of it in one load." She looks at me like I'm a little off my rocker, but doesn't protest as I lock the trailer to the GoldWing's rear wheel. I pick up the two suitcases, and hold my arms for either the DAT and the OVP or the speaker box. She puts the speaker box in my arms, it doesn't weigh as much, and picks up the other two. I open the door when we get to it, and she doesn't notice that I didn't touch it physically. She does notice the elevator button, though, since I make no effort to hide it.
"How?" She blinks when her load suddenly becomes lighter.
"To quote my teacher, 'the Force is strong.' I've been in training as a Zanji mystic for a long time. You've seen Star Wars, right?" She shakes her head, and I'm rather appalled. "Zanji is a lot like the religion of the Jedi, only with Zanji the Force is viewed as being neutral, with no difference between a dark and light side. One is judged on what one does with the Force, rather than how one does it." I continue the explanation as we ride the elevator up, and finish setting up my stereo, daisy-chaining the power cords and SCSI cables for the speakers, DAT drive, and OVP back to the drive box.
I flip the power switches, and everything beeps happily and comes back on line. I wake Misako, then redo the /etc/hosts, and /etc/rc.1 files. I re-run /etc/rc.1 and telnet to my old address. 'Miyuki's Vax, running Ultrix 4.1\nLogin: ' it prompts. I login as root, rewrite a couple of the files about the archive, saying that the main site has moved and giving the new address. I log out, close Misako's screen.
"OK, that's done. Now we just need to take the Goldwing back and get back in time for school tomorrow." Rei giggles at me and I look up at Asuka, who is glaring at me for some reason that I can't quite place, and has been for the last couple minutes.
"What are you doing?" Goddess, but her voice grates when she wants it to.
"Moving my Archive server." She blinks at me, stares at the DEC logo on my stereo, and looks up at me again.
"YOU ARE ICHIJOU MIYUKI!?!?" She almost makes the room shake, and if this was a Star Trek episode the ceiling would have fallen in.
"Like my mother before me." She whirls and runs from the room. For the final test, to make sure that everything is working properly I queue up the Stones' 'Paint it Black', followed by 'Ball and Chain' off Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills album. I wonder why she ran as I start them playing, re-arranging the speakers while 'PiB' plays. I tweak the placement of the boxen while I check to see if she could be one of the women I've net. flirted with. If she is I don't know what could be so awful, since the only person I ever got past net. flirting with was Lantis-chan.
"Ittekimasu!" I call from the door, but Asuka doesn't answer. I guess she's still sulking, so I lock the door before heading down the stairs as fast as I dare, which is quite a bit faster than the elevator. By the time I reach the bike Rei has unlocked it, stuffing the lock back into it's slot on the trailer's top, and has her helmet on. I hadn't even noticed her filching the GoldWing's keys. I take my helmet when she hands it to me, and the keys. The GoldWing handles a little bit funny as I back her out, almost like the trailer isn't empty. I pass that off as being paranoid, having checked the tire pressures beforehand. Rei climbs on behind me, and we pull out into the street again. Only 1445, so we'll arrive before dinnertime.
We make good time, and I admit that I speed a little bit, about 25 KPH over the limit from when we got out of Toukyou-3 'til the outer limits of Kyoutou.
We pull into Ranma's driveway at about 18, 1803 by the GoldWing's clock. I park the Goldwing in its spot, then unhook the trailer and realize it really isn't empty.
"Rei, we have a hitch-hiker." Her eyes positively light up.
"Can I tickle her?" She uses 'ore' to refer to herself.
"OK. I'll hold her down for you." She smiles when I use 'ore' myself, and nods at my suggestion. I open the trailer, and sure enough, there's Asuka. Unfortunately she isn't in any condition to be tickled.
"Fuck. I didn't know the trailer was so well-sealed." Scooping Asuka up in my arms, I lift her easily out of the trailer, setting the trailer in the corner where it goes, not bothering to mask my use of the Force. I slip the lock's bolt back, opening the door into the hallway as I walk towards it, then walk quickly to Ranma's door, Rei at my side, very concerned about what is happening.
I knock four times on Ranma's door, the 'emergency' code.
written in 1998 shortly after SSEC 1
2000 December 25: editted (again)
2003 April 18: editted, a bit.
2003 October 3: Title block and acknowledgement.
2009 July 12: Tiny edits, mauled for posting to ff.n