MIXED SIGNALS
A Solty Rei fanficiton
by Jessica X


ATTENTION: LOCATIONS AND PERSONS © YOSHIMASA HIRAIKE/GONZO; STORY © JESSICA X.
BIOHAZARD: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. TV-MA [VSLD]
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN F/.


o o o PROLOGUE o o o

Once upon an eon, not long before the rogue core computers Eunomia and Eirene came within a hair's breadth of annihilating life as we know it, there were four women employed by the Reestablishment Universe Committee. They were members of a unique and highly-secretive law enforcement unit; each one held a secret power within their bodies that set them apart. They had since the catastrophic Blast Fall that bred fear and discontent within the populace, during which they were mere children; an event shrouded in mystery. Over their many years toiling within the same program, these women became a close-knit group of comrades. Perhaps even friends.

This is a story lost to time...
...about two of the four.

o o o CHAPTER ONE o o o

"So, coming over for dinner tonight?"

"Hm?"

"I asked if you were coming by for dinner," Accela Warrick repeated as she leaned over to see around her terminal. "It's a pretty simple question."

Celica Yayoi stretched, catlike, and leaned back in her chair as far as it would go. Accela laughed; she knew one day her coworker would tip it too far and topple. A deep warmth bubbled up from within almost every time she looked over at the bronze-skinned girl who had one year and one inch on her; she honestly couldn't imagine life without her. They had all been shunted into the Proceed program after the Blast Fall - the two of them, Sylvia Ban, Integra Martel, and all those other kids who had fallen through the cracks. Twelve years... it's a long time to know anybody, and even longer to know them without forming bonds. She might get along with all of the members of RUC's elite police force, but Celica was different; they were best friends. Inseparable.

"Sure, I guess so. What are we having?"

Accela shrugged. "Mushroom risotto and veal scallopini."

"What's with the Italian theme? We doing gelato for dessert, too?"

"Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. Will it stop you from coming?"

Celica grinned sleepily. "Hell no."

"Okay, ladies," Sylvia announced as she stalked into the office, hands on hips. "Enough slacking, back to work."

"There can never be enough slacking," Celica contradicted.

o o o

The day passed in a flurry of the routine; a few crooks needed apprehending, and were apprehended. Such was life with the RUC's Special Security Division. Integra and Sylvia were the true workaholics, but Celica and Accela always put in their fair share. And, as usual, when the director stopped by at the end of the day for their report, Sylvia was flustered beyond necessity and stuttered half of her responses. This was mostly what they talked about on the way to the grocery store; the topic was so juicy that it lasted through the shopping and all the way home.

"Yeah, but she's never going to catch his attention if she keeps tripping all over herself like that," Celica said as they walked along at a leisurely pace. "Lynx is all business. If Sylvia never comes right out and announces what she's after, things aren't going to move forward."

"I think she knows that," Accela sighed, redoubling her grip on the plastic bags. "But she's too shy to be so direct."

"Amen, sister. I just hope one day she grows a pair and grabs for that brass ring, or we'll be throwing little pity parties for her until we retire."

Up the steps they went to Accela's apartment. Celica checked her email and watched the news while Accela got dinner set up; occasionally she would offer to pitch in, but she truly was all thumbs when it came to cooking so unless Accela asked she kindly stood aside so their meal would still turn out edible.

"Here," Accela said as she entered the living room, offering Celica a glass of wine. "A taste of your purchase."

"Now we're talking! Hey, aren't you having any?"

"I'll take mine with dinner. It'll be ready in about ten minutes."

"Cool."

It was delicious, as always. Privately, Celica was jealous of her friend's proficiency in the kitchen; she'd kill for half that talent around a stove. Alas, she highly doubted the day would ever come when she could prepare anything more complicated than instant ramen. As the evening wore on, Celica broke out some harder liquor she'd had stashed in her bag and they began partying in earnest.

"So Integra really sleeps with a nightlight?"

"Sure does," Celica cackled, pouring more booze down her throat. "I've seen it; I can't figure it out, she's so damn imposing in every other aspect of her life, but she's too afraid of the dark to sleep. Isn't it a riot?"

Accela frowned, but the smile lingered; it was too funny for her to stamp it out entirely. "It's sad, I think; we shouldn't be hard on her about it. Some people can't get over those childhood fears so easy."

"Eh, don't be so sensitive. She rides us so hard at work that she deserves a taste of her own medicine."

"Celica-"

"Enough about that," she laughed, stumbling away from the table and back to the living room. "I'll beat you at Dune Race 3 again if you're game."

"Oh, yeah right - you are SO on!"

o o o

Celica woke in the morning with no idea of where she was or how she got there. Vague memories of the evening prior flashed through her mind; drinking, games, more drinking. What else? But nothing would come to her. This usually happened when she hit the bottle that hard. Still, she wished she could recall where she had ended up...

When she rolled over, she got her answer as her arm draped over Accela's body.

Whoa, she thought to herself, her eyes bulging as the lingering remnants of sleep vanished. What DID happen last night?

Quickly, as per her police training, she took stock: she was wearing nothing but underwear, and so was Accela. The redhead smiled dreamily at feeling the slight, impromptu embrace, though she did not wake. Lots of drinking...

Crap - maybe there IS such a thing as too much liquor!

Uncertainly, she moved her legs and felt another smooth pair against hers. It wasn't horrible, exactly; it had been a few weeks since Celica had had an "adult encounter" with anybody, and then it had just been some loser she met in a bar. She'd been a little lonely for some human contact, to be sure, but she was worried about what this meant. Try as she might, no clearer details from the previous evening would dare to come back to her. Which meant they could have done just about anything.

But Accela wouldn't have. She's straight, right? And so am I... well, when I'm sober. Enough alcohol in me and I'll do anything that sounds good in the heat of the moment, even if it's the stupidest idea there ever was.

Her good friend and coworker rolled over at that moment and nuzzled against Celica's face. It did feel nice - so sweet and innocent, though there could be any number of not-so-innocent reasons why they were in bed together in the first place. This wasn't the first time they'd cuddled, either... but it was the least-clothed cuddling they'd done by far.

Celica made the decision at last to stay like that until her friend woke up. Maintain status quo instead of freaking out or jumping to conclusions. Ten minutes passed, fifteen. Celica's heart began to pound and her temples grew damp; she willed herself to just go back to sleep - and the pounding hangover headache requested this course of action, as well - but there was nothing doing. She was too nervous for sleep to be attainable.

It feels so awesome, she thought guiltily. It always has, everytime before it did, too. But we're practically naked under this sheet. Isn't this kind of weird? With a slight swallow, she let her hand rove down Accela's smooth stomach. She's in top condition, like the rest of us; you gotta be to stay employed by RUC Security. Mm, those abs...

What kind of a thought was that to have? Was there just enough alcohol left in her system to conjure up these atypical notions? Accela was her friend - that's it, just that and no more. There was no reason to be jittery just because they woke up snuggling. Or that's what she was trying to tell herself.

"Hmnh?"

Immediately, Celica moved her hand back to her chest, but overshot and cupped one of the palmable little breasts that belonged to her coworker. CRAP! She had just enough time to realize how soft they were before she forced her hand to slide down and off, landing on her ribs. Ohh, if only I weren't so sleep-deprived and hung over that wouldn't have happened. Geez, isn't my Proceed ability supposed to be deadly accuracy, yet I mistake her boobs for her... not-boobs?

"Celica?"

"Morning, sweetheart," Celica said in light tones, trying for joviality. She hoped. What if this morning really did call for a word like "sweetheart"?

"Morning," Accela mumbled, reaching up to pet Celica's cheek. The deep green eyes peering up and into hers sparkled in the early sunlight, yet were obviously still clouded by the drowsiness she hadn't the chance to shake off yet. "Hey, what's with the clinginess?"

"Sorry," Celica said as she rolled off, staring up at the ceiling and willing her pulse back to normal. "Woke up like that. How... did you sleep?"

"Not bad," she sighed, rubbing at her face as she sat up. Yes, there was the bra. Maybe the fact that they were clothed instead of bare-ass meant that nothing had happened... or it hadn't progressed to the point of total nudity. Which was still a positive thing, even if it wasn't quite as comforting. "God, what did we do last night?"

"You tell me." Her laugh was far from carefree, but she hoped it wasn't noticeable - at least not to the half-asleep officer rubbing at her eyes.

"Your head must be pounding," Accela laughed as she smiled down at her friend, one fist still in one eye. "Seriously, I'm worried about your liver."

Celica grinned back. So far, so platonic. "I'll just get a Resemble liver. No huge thing."

"It is, though." The crease in her brow told Celica that her friend was genuinely worried. "You do this every time you come over here... do you do it at home, too?"

"What, drink myself blind? Yeah, pretty much. But I always down lots of water to flush it out in the morning, and then I do my exercises. It's not like I'm going to kill myself."

"Hmm." Then Accela hopped out of bed, and Celica's eyes were drawn to the newly-revealed panties. Good, those are there, too; maybe this is nothing. Or maybe it's a whole lot of something but I can do some damage control to keep it from getting worse. "Well, we only have an afternoon shift today, so no rush. Do you need to borrow some clothes?"

"Eh, 'sokay. I can go in as is."

"What, in your undies?" she laughed. "I don't think so."

"Gah, you know what I meant."

"Okay, okay. Want to grab a shower?"

Celica grinned a devious grin; now for a little test. "Is that a proposition?"

"Stupid," Accela laughed again; such a musical laugh, never loud or raucous. Just lilting and refined. Like the rest of her. "You can have the first turn, I'll put a pot of coffee on while I wait."

So they weren't at the "showering together" stage yet, at any rate. Therefore, Celica smiled and said, "Okie dokie" and slipped into the bathroom.

God, she thought as she lathered herself up. No clues other than the presence of underwear and her resistance to sharing a bath. Still, this is good, this I can work with. Even if we did... something insane, obviously she's not suddenly picking out china patterns or whatever. Now I just have to deduce what happened. But how?

"So those were some pretty fantastic moves you put on me last night," Accela announced as she rejoined her in the bathroom.

"What?" she burst out. Then, clearing her throat, she said in a calmer voice, "Oh, y-yeah. What are you doing?"

"Bringing you your clothes," she said, as if confused as to why Celica couldn't figure that out by herself. "And laying out mine, too. You need some help in there?"

Celica could feel her heart fall to her feet. "Um... what did you have in mind?"

"I could scrub your back, if you need me to."

So many mixed signals. She doesn't even sound flustered about it, she mused as she contemplated her answer. So either nothing happened at all and she's just trying to be nice... or she's so chill about our potentially-nonfictional drunken hookup that she's ready to bask in our brand new domestic bliss. Should I just bite the bullet and ask?

But she couldn't bring herself to ask outright. Part of her knew it would be the easiest way, but she couldn't help worrying that if she did so, Accela might get the wrong idea and start thinking Celica wished for the relationship to take a turn for the strange. The last thing she wanted was to make a big deal over nothing and create a problem that hadn't existed in the first place.

"Sure, why not?"

Accela chuckled softly. "Wow, didn't think you'd take me up on it; I was only offering to be nice."

"Hey, no sweat; if you don't want to, I'm not going to twist your arm."

"No, no, it's okay." So sweet, so earnest. "Back up to the door and hand me the washcloth and soap."

It occurred to Celica as she obeyed that if Accela had offered to do this for her yesterday, either here or in the showers at RUC, it wouldn't have bothered her. Maybe they'd have earned some good-natured ribbing from Sylvia, but otherwise it wouldn't have shook the world. Now, however, she found her heart was pounding in her throat, her mouth dry despite the running water and steam. When Accela's hands touched her back, she jumped, and the hands disappeared.

"What? What is it?"

"N-nothing," she assured her friend. "Go ahead, I'll keep still."

As her back was being scrubbed, she chewed on the inside of her lip. Any minute now, she could start soaping my front instead, she fretted. One hand could move up to cup my... and the other one downward to... shit, what am I gonna do if THAT happens?

But it didn't. Accela's touch was gentle and loving, but it strayed no farther than the area of her back. True, Celica felt a touch more distressed when she felt the washcloth rubbing at her backside, but it stopped before it could reach somewhere yet more invasive. Just as she began to relax against the treatment, Accela sighed and said, "There, you're done. Ready to hop out? I'll hop in after you."

"Oh." Was she? She'd been so filled to the brim with dark, undesirable thoughts that she hadn't paid much attention to her washing. "Uhh, yeah, I think I'm finished after I rinse. So... so I'm coming out."

"Okay, I'll alert the media," Accela said sarcastically. "Hurry up so I don't waste too much water between the showers."

Fair point, definitely, but Celica felt so nervous that she took a few more seconds rinsing off than necessary to delay her exit. We're going to be naked together for a minute. Well, we have been so many times, in the locker room, when getting geared up for combat in the Power Suits. But this... seems different.

"Come on!"

"Alright, alright, keep your shirt on - or don't, I guess, since you're about to bathe." Celica took a deep breath, putting on her most nonchalant face, and pushed open the door.

Accela was definitely bare from head to toe, but hanging between their bodies was a towel held open by both hands. As Celica stepped forward, it was gingerly wrapped around her, and she took it under her own arms. "There you go. Now, you want to return the favor?"

"Favor?" she asked, struggling to keep her eyes from the pale, shapely body next to hers. "What favor?"

"Scrub my back," Accela snorted, eyebrows knitting together. "Seriously, you must have one monster hangover this morning. I wish you'd tone it down a little."

"Sorry," Celica said with a grunt of relief. But she couldn't stop herself from staring at the smooth, exposed skin of her friend as she walked past and stepped into the shower. "I, uh, I know. I'll work on it, I promise."

"Good." As Celica hastily dried herself with the towel, Accela turned this way and that until she was well-moistened, then said, "Okay, wash me."

Before she could think, Celica had a rag and soap in her hands, and Accela's naked back in front of her. Why did she have to do this when she was feeling so skittish about what may or may not have transpired in the night? Idly, she reached up and traced a finger along the line in the center of her friend's back, feeling it squeak due to the water...

"Hey, cut that out!" she giggled. "Just start scrubbing, I want to get breakfast going soon."

"Roger that," Celica said and began soaping up the other girl's skin. This was getting stupid; all the things they were doing were normal, even if a tiny bit out of the ordinary. Friends helped friends out like this. So neither of us is coming on to the other person so far, she thought. And I do feel a little off about scrubbing her back right now, but it's only because of the way I woke up. No crisis situation. It's fine.

"Umm, Celica, I think I can wash my own thighs."

"Omigod!" she burst out, nearly dropping the rag. "Sorry, I'm so sorry, I dunno, I just- I got carried away."

"Really?" she said, turning to gaze at her friend out of the corner of her eye. "If you get any more carried away than that, you'll have to ask me to marry you. Now if you can give me back that rag then you can finish drying off, okay?"

"Okay - oh, here." Once Accela had the rag and the soap back, the door was shut and Celica could breathe a quiet sigh of relief. That had been weird with a beard, but nothing bad had happened. Nothing kinky, at least.

It's all good in the neighborhood, she told herself as she finished drying and slipped into the previous night's ensemble. That crack about marrying her - I'm sure it was just a joke. There was no naughty suggestion to it, like she was trying to get me to go any further. Not that I could hear. So we're fine. Right?

Nobody answered her silent questions, even though she kept dwelling on them as she poured herself a cup of coffee. But that wasn't a big problem. The more she debated, the more she decided they must have just fallen asleep in the same bed. But why had she been in her underwear?

Too warm in the apartment? It's freezing in here, now. Strip poker? Nah, it's no fun with two people - unless they're both of the opposite sex. What could it be?

And there was another thought that reasserted itself, causing her blood to turn icy cold. She'd tried something out on Accela. That's what she'd said: "So those were some pretty fantastic moves you put on me last night." What sort of moves? Dance moves? Or... "night moves"? She'd almost forgotten about the brief, innocent phrase with having to scrub her friend's back, and she found herself wishing desperately that she had. That one little accusation cast such a dark shadow over their evening...

Soon afterward a mostly-dressed Accela joined her and began whipping up some eggs and bacon while Celica sipped at her coffee, glancing out the window and fretting. At long last, once they had eaten and were on their way to work, Accela cleared her throat and asked, "Okay now, let's have it."

"Have what? What are we having? Because I don't think we're having what you think we're having!"

The girl's face said it all: she was utterly perplexed. "Um... Celica, what's up with you? Why are you so jumpy? And you keep saying all this crazy stuff."

"No reason," Celica grunted, kicking at a stone on the path and sending it into the gutter. "Just messing with you. Anyway, what do you want me to have - I mean, did you want to have?"

"The truth, that's all. I want to know what's the matter with you this morning. You seem so, so... tense, I guess. Did I do something wrong?"

Celica frowned. Time to flex her mental muscles and see what she could see while they were not alone, and there was no nudity involved. "No, I don't think so. Not really. It's just... well, I keep thinking about... those moves I put on you."

"Oh," Accela laughed. "Okay, okay, I get it. You're embarrassed."

"I am?"

"Yes. Because you're- well, it's one of those 'I have a reputation' things, isn't it? But you don't have to worry about me letting the cat out of the bag. Your secret's safe with me."

Celica almost stumbled and fell into a mailbox. "Are you- seriously, Accela? Are you freaking serious with this, you're not pulling my leg?"

"Uhh... nope."

"Okay," she said, taking deep breaths. "This is... new, and weird, but I can deal. It's a modern age, right? Right."

The look on Accela's face very clearly expressed the opinion that she thought Celica was hopped up on painkillers. "Riiight. Are you sure you don't want to drop off for a hangover pill before we head into work?"

"Just... okay, first thing's first. It's like at work; we gotta deal with the top priority." She stopped dead still, turned and grasped Accela's shoulders, staring deep into her eyes. "You sure you won't let slip? Any of it?"

"Celica, come on, what is this? Don't be so hyper-sensitive, it's no-"

"You have to keep it under your hat," she pleaded. "I... let me deal with my demons for a while, but for now, not a word to anyone. Can you promise me that?"

"Sure, I promise, but-"

"Thanks," she sighed, relieved - or as relieved as she was going to get in the near future. "I... oh, I know that shouldn't matter so friggin' much, but it'll make me breathe a whole lot easier."

Accela giggled. "Yeah. Whatever you need, Celica; you know I'm always here for you. Even when you're a little bit psycho."

Now all Celica had to do was figure out if she could really deal with a relationship like this... or if she should quit the RUC, move to some convent on the outskirts of town and start making her own t-shirts out of hemp.

o o o TO BE CONTINUED o o o


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Very well, go on, say it: "Jessex, you promised you were leaving the fanfiction community behind! What gives?" What gives is me: I give the joy of unlicensed tales lurking just behind the veil of what is shown to us through movies, books and television. And I'm sure I'll be doing it until the end of time. Whether I feel like it or not. I can't help myself. I AM POWERLESS, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

This cheery little fic is focused on a pairing I've dubbed "Celly"; it's Accela Warrick and Celica Yayoi from the excellent anime series SoltyRei (which I'm sure you've sussed by now). Purely based on the fact that Celica is always dropping by Accela's for dinner, just the two of them, I had to wonder what else they were doing while in each other's company – and thus, in the usual fashion, a femmeslash was born. In the weeks to come, be ready for sensuality, angst, verbal sparring, and some mushy WAFF scenes. Also, a flash-forward type of deal. Whee!

*clears throat* You may be under the impression that there is a somewhat more risque version of this story floating out there in cyberspace. Officially, you're mistaken. Officially. But hypothetically, if there were, it would end up being roughly two chapters longer.

At any rate, I'll pop in periodically to babble about this or that, but until such time I've run out of things to mention. So read on and enjoy, and always be sure to R&R – yes, this means YOU!

-JX