New Account Registration re-enabled - apparently the extension we use for ReCaptcha service had a configuration change and to utilize the more secure form it needed different parameters. We did not notice this when it occurred. Sorry folks!
|Xanadu story universe|
I had talked Kimiko into attending a con with me, and pointed out we might even win some money for our costumes. She did agree, but disagreed with my choices. I suggested a theme. We'd flip to see if we did my theme, or if we did hers. I really hoped I won. After all, Leon while cool, and had nice shades, had spent WAY too much time in the hospital. Reminded me too much of my past. No matter what, I had planned to blow my entire signing bonus with AMD away on this con. First class all the way. Who knew that AMD really wanted a Asian studies/comp sci double major, for liaison and duties in the main office, and would pay very nicely for it, and then when they found out about my history knowledge and military career, they literally offered me a very nice deal, I was amused, but not a fool. Here I was planning to use any means to get hired by them, and they're begging me, and throwing money at me. My only non negotiable deal was a 2 week vacation around the Con time. They, to my surprise, looked at their planned schedule, and said that would actually be the best time for 6 months, and that they'd be happy to do it. After all, I later found out, they had expected me to ask for at LEAST 50% more signing bonus, bigger stock options, and a bigger base paycheck. Kimiko had hit me with her bokken when she figured it out. I shrugged and pointed out, that I didn't know about their new contract with the JSDF and Mitusubi. I was beyond perfect for it. Ooops, Live and learn, I guess.
Anyways, with 100,000 dollars, and after Kimiko accepted I wanted to live it up for ONCE, she agreed to let me spend 20,000 of it for the vacation, the rest went into a Treasury bond, so we could begin to build up money.
Anyways, while she was on summer break, we had our coin flip. I won. Thank god. Kimiko's normally quite sane, and respectable, and normal. But, give her a chance to let her otaku side out... and, well... Like I said, Leon's nice, and all that, but... still.
So, the coin toss lead to a fun argument. We ended up agreeing that I would be Captain America, and her the Black widow. We'd use wash out dye in our hair, and pay to have professional costumes made. Kimiko actually was excited about this, even though she still twitted me about MY otauku behavior. My usual reply was to ask where my life sized Saber Blue Plushy was.
Since Kimiko was a intern, her hospital agreed to give her a week off. I figured, after the Con, we'd spend some enjoyable days at the parks in the area, maybe a day sail or two. Possibly visit Grandfather in New orleans. Whatever.
I went to pick up the costumes, a day before we'd fly out there. I had left Emails for my friends from FFIRC, and #abyss to meet after the awards, and look for a matching role, that I'd fit. Did warn them about the dye job. Said I'd be holding down the bar. Wonder if any of them would guess, that in a way, I missed the innocence that Captain America had, and wish that I had what he did? Nah. They all thought of me as a cynical old grunt. Never would it occur to them, on first sight, that I still had a part of me, wanting to be a true hero, a person who always fought the good fight, and had faith in his own government. Still, they did look VERY nice, considering what I was paying for them, they dammed well better, I had thought. I had suggested to Kimiko that we'd wear them under our street clothing, to get a feel for the "roles" because while I had no real expectations of winning best costume, I thought we'd have a good shot at winning best acting, or at least a honorable mention. She shook her head, but agreed. I drove to San Jose General, and picked her up as her last 24 hour shift ended, and we'd go straight to the airport.
As I parked the car, I noted her drifting off already. I was glad the Untied flight was a straight though. While it'd be no smoking, she'd at least get a solid 6 hours sleep. One of the reasons why I was leery of going to the grandparents, was they'd start on "When will you start your own family, Drew?" stuff. Didn't they realize that Kimiko still had a year or more of internship left, followed by residency? I know they knew that, but not what it meant. She wanted to be a Pediatric expert, with a side of surgery in that field. That required serious post schooling time, and not a lot of time to start a family. She had begged off from her own parents, for a while, getting them to accept til she was within the end of her residency, but my folks, but my mom, who had a better clue, were not as... accepting. They wanted Great grand babies running around. I always dreaded their calls. Didn't help that they loved her hobby of matchmaking for her and my friends, a hobby she was hoping to pursue at the con, with a few hapless males. I gently shook her awake, until she responded, and she slowly walked to the terminal doors, with her passport in hand, while I got our luggage, and laptops. Not that I expected her to use hers on the plane.
We finally boarded the plane, and even before the door had closed, she had gone to sleep. I gently smiled, and set up my laptop with headphones, to watch a movie, while she slept the way there.
Getting to the Con from the airport in Orlando was a fun time. Seemed like about 3 dozen cabs alone were doing round about shuttles. Seems like ANYONE who wanted to attend any type of "convention" of a comic, anime, or sci fi type was going to this one, since Mr. Winters was in essence throwing a free one, and even had the biggest hotel to do it in, at incredibly cheap rates, so this was a dammed good one. I had heard that they'd be MORE dealers at this one event, than at any con to date. I grinned. 6000 dollars to waste in the dealer's room, plus a chance to get some autographs. I was in heaven. Even Kimiko had some ideas about getting one seyiuu's signature if she had come, like the rumor said.
We got to the hotel, and I checked us in. Even a day early, and the place was packed. I was impressed. This was to be a fun one, I hoped, and there were "pre" con events for us early arrivals. I'd heard a rumor, from a friend that went, that other hotels nearby were also packed because of this, and that it was shaping up to be a SRO con all the way. Kimiko begged off on the precon events, wanting more sleep, and pointing out if she slept now, we could party all weekend. I had to agree, but I had already caught up on my sleep, and decided to wander. Had a few drinks, saw a friend or two from real life, even had a very late dinner with June Geraci a dammed nice lady, who deserved better than what life handed to her. Finally got back to our suite at around 2 in the morning and Kimiko woke up slightly, and just muttered "You're a idiot, anata." As I climbed back into bed.
We woke up just in the nick of time to get a late buffet, before the Con opened. Kimiko was a bit grumpy til the aspirin kicked in, due to her basically sleeping 15 hours straight, and I had to cluck at her. She almost bit my head off, but thankfully, the hotel's best restaurant served good green tea, so she was mollified. Mostly.
We attended the opening ceremonies, and ransacked the dealer's room. To my amused surprise, and gleeful spending, I got a lot of rare anime art books, at well, while not cheap prices, low enough to make me not pass up the offer. Plus I had picked up some nice toys. And computer games, and... well, let's just say, I had ran though 2/3rds of the cash I had slated for "spending" on toys in under three hours, and Kimiko's share wasn't much better. We did love our toys. I was even beginning to wonder if she'd agree to less fancier restaurants, aka cheaper, for the rest of the week, so I could spend more, or maybe I could talk her into letting some of that "saved" money loose. Doubtful. Like her looks, she was a very typical Japanese woman. She truly believed I didn't know how to control money, and if she let me, I'd spend any I had earned in under a second. Well... she did have a point.
We were one of the first people at the ceremonies to award the best of costume, acting, and all that. We had received some pleasing nods, and a few satisfied smiles, from marvel fans who thought that the match we portrayed was right. I had seen better consumes, and some better acting, but, I still had hope for the couples award. After all, we're JAPANESE cosplayers. We're genetically programmed to be better. Though Kimiko had to admit, the little japanese girl, who she had found out was from a Make a wish group, in Japan, was a sure fire bet to win both awards for children. She had a sad look in her eye when she admitted it, so, I didn't inquire. Something, I had to admit, weren't good to know. The child was happy, but I suspected that she didn't have much time left, especially with the way her nurse looked at her, sadly. That told me all I needed, or wanted to know.
I looked around as people came in. I saw someone who looked a lot like a Mutsumi, and someone who Kimiko swore was Nene Romanova. Saw a few more Knight sabers, and thanked GOD that Kimiko didn't win the flip. They had the act AND the consumes letter perfect. Even saw a Iron Man. I thought about going up to him, afterwards, and joking about doing some "avenging" Kimiko, once again, just gave the sigh of the long suffering wife. Hey, can you blame me? I do have a sense of humor after all. One thing caught my eye. The nurse of the little girl had put on a "Kasumi" costume from Pokemon, in Japan, and I had to shake my head. While it was a easy one to do, I wondered WHY a grown woman would pick that role to play.
I would swear later on that. And be thankful that we weren't as affected by what happened as Eric came on stage.
As Eric Winters approached the stage, a weird feeling rushed though me. I had the oddest sense of a major change hit me. When I recovered from the split second (to me, later I'd learn others felt it longer, but I had studied too much of the Ryuu my grandfather taught, and was pretty well in tune with myself, as so was Kimiko...) I felt... odd, different, and I noted that I was on one knee, but I actually felt better than I had in a long time. All my old aches and pains, from the years had gone away. Kimiko was lying next to me, and she slowly pushed herself up, shaking her head. I hadn't gotten a look at her face yet, but her hair had changed slightly, and I had the Shield out, covering her. Almost on instinct, which puzzled me. I knew it was fake, yet, it sat subtly different now. Like, it was real, almost. A quick look around saw many people panicking, and a general sense of confusion. I rose, and without thinking about it, helped Kimiko up. <Anata, do you know what is going on?> I asked her in Japanese. My voice had changed, and was a marked difference, not too s uprising to me, I felt radically different. Her reply was classic, and in Russian, which I had a passing basic knowledge of. <No, idiot!> I blinked. That wasn't her voice, and I looked, she now was a classic Russia beauty, and was far taller than she should be. I blinked.
I remember, as I hustled her to the room, pretty sure she was my wife, that something strange had happened. I remember one thought that ran though my head... "Oh, boy."
Upon hitting the suite, I asked her a simple question, that she'd likely only know the answer to, and requested that she'd reply in Japanese. <Please answer this question, and in Japanese. What was I wearing the day you decided I'd be your husband?> She replied in Japanese, and with the right item. Only 5 people knew that, so, I was assured this was my wife. Now, to figure out what the hell had just happened. Kimiko was still dazed somewhat, and I sympathized, but, to me the overwhelming instinct was to figure out what went wrong, and fix the problem, by the means required. Normally, I'd wonder about why I was thinking that, but, it didn't bother me at the time. I took a stop to look in the mirror, and pull off my mask, and that's when it hit me. I WAS the splitting image of Steve Rogers, and Kimiko now looked like Natasha Romanova. I normally would have cursed, but instead, I said, still summing up the situation... "This is not what I expected."
Kimiko had walked into the bathroom, and also stopped, stunned. She finally spoke... <What did we do to annoy the Kami this badly, Anata? I knew letting you get your own way was a bad idea...> she softly spoke in Japanese. I had to sigh. At least we were only physically changed for the most part. Though I did detect some changes in our behavior, even then. Later I'd add it up, and note, while we remained basically the same, some aspects, especially minor traits, such as Steve's absolute distaste for smoking or drinking, had totally invaded our behavior. Still, all things equal, we were some of the more fortunate ones. We didn't change gender, we weren't lost in personality, and we retained all of our old skills and knowledge.
I sighed, and pointed out, there were some hurt people likely downstairs, and that since she was a doctor, and I had basic first aid knowledge, we'd better get there to help. She nodded, and we went looking for the hotel's medical supplies, and we lucked out, and found them. If I remember right, we were the first two on the scene, that had medical knowledge and were willing to use it, or at least in the right frame of mind.
Getting back to the awards area, I stopped and scanned for threats, both Steve's and my own personal experiences leading me to consider the area hostile. Kimiko also scanned, both for threats, and people really needing help. We had found a few already, by the look in her eyes, then her eyes noted the young girl from Japan. She was sitting down, with the Glavie next to her, looking totally dazed and confused. Her nurse was no where in sight, to our surprise. Kimiko moved fast to her side, with me right beside her.
<Hime-chan, are you alright?> Kimiko asked, her medical and motherly instincts totally at the fore.
<No, I'm not, and who are you?> I blinked, realizing there was a good chance that she was totally confused by the changes that had taken place, and her own effects.
< I'm Morris Kimiko, Hikaru-chan.> Kimiko replied in a soft, calm tone, adding. <You met me yesterday, with my husband, Morris Drew.> she pointed at me with that addition. I nodded, while looking to make sure the EMT personnel that had arrived were taking care of the rest, and no serious need for a doctor was present.
<Who's Hikaru? I'm Tomoe Hotaru.> The child responded, and my blood went ice cold. While I wasn't a die hard "moonie" as it's called in the US, I knew that name, and what that meant. I began praying to the kami that she HADN'T gotten the powers.
Kimiko blinked, and added it up just as quickly as I did. She didn't let her voice betray what only someone who knew her would suspect, however. <Well, Hotaru, where are your parents.>
<Papa-san is dead, and Momma-san died before that, I live with Harkua-papa and Michiru-mama now.> the girl stood, and I looked her over. She appeared in far better health than before, and I realized, that perhaps this was in her case, a dammed good thing. I made a mental note to ask Kimiko what the child had been suffering from, and where her family was. Cause I know, they'd just LOVE this. At least there wasn't that major of a facial change, or body change, and adding in the fact that she had appeared to gain full health back, her parents, might rightfully consider this the Kami's way of giving a blessing. Getting her to remember who she really was, now, that'd be fun.
Kimiko blinked, and asked me in English. "Dear, you think she had a total mental change as well, along with the physical changes?"
"Yeah, I do. I need to ask, what was she suffering from, before this. And why her mother or father wasn't here?" I asked, also whispering back to her.
"Final stages of juvenile leukemia. And her father had died from a car wreck, and from what the nurse said, her mother had died on birthing her." I winced with that information. This was getting worse, and worse. "Ah, so. Well, dang, I don't see Uranus or Neptune anywhere... and there's no guarantee they're in the same mental state, nor at a point in the series or post series, where they'll be willing to take care of her. By the way, where IS her nurse, I really need to get who she works for. Leaving your charge like this, even in this situation... is not good." I said those last words, with a tinge of anger lacing my voice, I didn't like the thought of a child being left alone, before, and Steve very much agreed with me, on this.
I thought fast. A Senshi of Saturn without anyone looking out for her, was a bad idea. I was going to assume worst case situation, and that she was at Super power level, with all the powers, until I found out otherwise. First things first. We did have some extra room in our suite, so, putting her up, wouldn't be hard. <Hotaru-chan, Harkua-san and Michiru-san are ahh... unavailable at the current time, and asked us to watch over you... it's risky being here, and we should take you somewhere safer...> While saying this, I was praying she'd buy it, after all, you don't force the mistress of the Silence to do anything she really doesn't want to, mind you. Kimiko nodded, backing me up on this. We'd likely explain what happened, in reality later. Once we had a clue. Something else occurred to me, like... who'd be waiting for her. And, more importantly, where was her NURSE...
Hotaru narrowed her eyes a bit, but responded <And where is Setsuna-mama?>
I mentally prayed there WASN'T a Setsuna running around. That would be... not good either. <Ah, your guardians didn't tell me that Firefly-chan...>
Hotaru nodded, accepting it, and allowed Kimiko to help her up. She gestured slightly, and the Glave disappeared. I blinked, realizing this confirmed that she had SOME powers, as she detransformed. I blinked again, not trusting my voice, nor my first thoughts. She spoke up... <Can we get some ice cream first?> I nodded, along with Kimiko, what'd it hurt? Oh, would I come to regret that in the later days.
I asked her for her room passcard, remembering it had the number on it. She looked puzzled, until I pointed the thing around her neck. I began to suspect why the Nurse wasn't here, and mentally cursed whoever did this to all of us.
Lucky for me, it did have a note on what room she was in. As we left the snack bar, where no one was, with a pitcher of coffee for me, and tea for Kimiko, and Hotaru's ice cream, we made our way to her room, to gather her stuff, HOPEFULLY, they'd be contact information, and a way to track her nurse down. Failing that, I wasn't about to let Hotaru (as I now thought of her, anyways) alone. Already I was getting a very bad feeling about the whole situation. I'd later be proven TOO right, but, at the time, the Steve part of me was saying I was too paranoid. Well, I was, but then again, I knew the saying all too well.
After we quickly packed her stuff up, and found the nurse's papers, and medical supplies, which Kimiko had raised an eyebrow at, Hotaru had already began falling asleep. I scooped her up, and she quickly snuggled into my arms, and was fast asleep, before we reached the suite.
As I covered Hotaru with a quilt from one of the beds, I looked at Kimiko, and asked a question that I knew had no answer, but had to be asked ANYWAYS... "Now what do we do?"
Kimiko's raised eyebrow said it all. We were in serious kimchi and it was rising fast. Very fast indeed.
Over the next few days, I finally figured out a way to tell, well, with Kimiko's help, that is, Hotaru what had happened. Oddly enough, she seemed to accept it, and when we found out the Make a wish people in Japan had no one to take care of her, we offered. Kimiko had her transferred to our family's registry, and we were set. Before I could make a few calls, to see about leaving, I hadn't quite equated the situation totally, yet, too concerned about the Nurse, and others who had suffered a complete reversion to their characters, to figure out what this whole situation meant. Until I met Rob, who told me about a meeting in Tony's room. I hadn't had met any of my online friends yet, besides June, though I'd the feeling, I had, but didn't realize it. Tony summed up the situation, firmly, and it was off we went on a road trip. Why didn't I tell Tony, or anyone else in the room who the child was? Well... these were all anime buffs. They had a clue what she meant, and I didn't want my child, I had already begun to think of her that way, feared by anyone, at least for her powers. Fear of me, when boys tried to date her, now, of course, that's a traditional thing, both in Japan and the US. Plus fun.
As I boarded the bus, I realized a lot of the situation had changed. My job with AMD? Likely gone. Kimiko's internship? Also shot to hell and gone, more than Likely. I had the itchy feeling Tony was right, we'd be hunted and "pressed" into service. I made a mental note, to get my DD-214 destroyed, and any records of my service misplaced long enough for me to disappear. Once I was out of the known areas, I was safe, and more importantly, my child was. Kimiko agreed fully with this, and mentioned she had the same thoughts, on the situation. This shook me for a second. More of the Black Widow, well, elements of her had seeped into Kimiko's general personality. While I knew Steve had an effect on me. I had to seriously think about the government being a threat, while before this, I would have grasped the situation quickly, and would have been gone within 24 hours of it happening. Now? I had something I'd lost a long time ago. Faith in the government. Somehow, though, I, the person, not the character, knew better.
Footnote: For all you non Japanese aware people Kasumi is the Japanese name for Misty in Pokemon (pokect monsters...)