Rockman.EXE is not mine. Don't sue.
Us After This
Author's Note: Yay! Back on schedule, and I've drawn up some jot notes, so I think I know where this is going now! ~^_^~
Never had to--I'd better knock on wood
'Cause I know someone who has
Which makes me wonder if I could
Never had to--I'd better knock on wood
'Cause I'm sure it isn't good
And I'm glad I haven't yet
That's the impression that I get...
~The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Impression I Get
He was being whispered about.
At the very least, his sudden alienation from the rest of the class (everyone knew about the loss of both his Navi and his father, though only Meiru knew what had really happened to Rockman) presented Saito with an excuse to act out-of-character.
Most of the students tried to act as usual, but Saito knew better. Only Meiru, Dekao and Yaito sat by him at lunch; the former feigning normalcy, the latter two probably having noticed the change in Saito's mannerisms but keeping it to themselves. Saito noted that both Dekao and Yaito left their PETs in their desks, perhaps not wanting to make "Netto" uncomfortable so soon after Rockman's loss. Saito smiled to himself. He was glad that Netto had such friends to help him through tough times.
Unfortunately, the twin he was masquerading as was still nowhere to be seen. More than once Saito had talked to him while alone, but Netto never replied. Saito was beginning to worry that something serious had happened to Netto, but there was nothing he could do while he was at school.
When the day finally ended, Saito prepared to walk home with Meiru, and as he shouldered his backpack was caught offguard by his teacher. "Hikari-kun..."
Startled, Saito looked up to meet her eyes. "Yes, Mariko-sensei?"
"I wanted to ask how you were feeling. I know you got out of the hospital recently..."
"I'm doing much better, thanks." He smiled awkwardly, glancing at Meiru. The pink-haired girl's eyebrow twitched just a bit.
"You haven't been acting like yourself all day..."
Oops. Abruptly he switched to Netto's less-formal speech habits, hoping it wouldn't have the same effect as his own. "Oh, I'm just tired. I slept so much last week that I've been up every night since, haha!"
Meiru hid her face in the palms of her hands.
Mariko-sensei gave him a wondering look, but didn't pry. "Well, I hope you're doing all right. If you need to talk about anything, be sure and come to me, all right?"
"Sure, thanks." He grinned broadly, a move that seemed to put her at ease. The brown-haired teacher smiled back and returned to the front of the room as Meiru dragged Saito out the door.
"Nice save, Rock-kun." Meiru had picked up her Navi's nickname for Rockman, since they had been spending so much time together lately. Saito didn't mind; it reminded him of Roll and was a constant sign that there was someone else who knew he wasn't Netto.
"Thanks. Sometimes it's hard to talk all the time using Netto's speech habits."
"I'd say." The two fell silent as they left the schoolgrounds, until Meiru's Navi called her name. She took out her PET. "What is it, Roll?"
"Gutsman, Glyde and I are on our way to Den Area 3 now. Gutsman heard some information on one of the Net City boards about a Navi whose Operator's name is Server."
"Be careful, Roll-chan," Saito cautioned.
"Keep a link to Netto-kun's PC too, okay?"
"Okay." She smiled. "I'm off, then!"
"Take care," Meiru replied, and glanced at Saito. "Overprotective, are we?"
"Just concerned..." Saito could not conceal his blush.
"You go on home, then, and I'll talk to Yaito-chan and Dekao-kun."
"All right. See you, Meiru-chan!" As she started towards Yaito's mansion Saito continued down the street and entered the house, greeting his mother in the kitchen before going upstairs to Netto's bedroom.
Enough was enough.
He seated himself in the desk chair, letting his eyes wander across the bare wall of the room. "Netto-kun?" He released control over their speech centres and waited, hoping Netto would at least answer. "I don't want to have to do this, but we really need to talk. I have to make sure you're all right."
When no reply came, he withdrew control from the circuits altogether.
Immediately the body they shared went limp, muscles relaxing suddenly from lack of use. Saito was only able to stare blankly at the ceiling as their head rested on the back of the chair.
After a long moment Netto spoke. "Why did you do that?"
Saito chose not to reply. Eventually Netto lazily sat up and glanced around the room, focusing finally on the PET in his lap. "You're mad at me."
Deciding he'd made his point, Saito said quietly, "I'm not. I'm worried about you."
"Worried? Ah, Rockman, how many times have I told you that you worry too much!" He laughed, but it sounded weak and hollow.
"Netto-kun, you haven't spoken to me in days. Of course I'm worried. You have to get yourself together!"
"I'm fine!" Netto insisted.
"If you're fine, then why have I been walking around pretending to be you while you hide in there?"
"I wanted to think," he replied hotly.
Saito inwardly gritted his teeth, trying not to let his program instinctively take over the system computers. "This isn't like you at all."
"Maybe 'til now everyone close to me haven't all nearly died, Saito-niisan."
Saito flinched and their body twitched, startling both boys. Neither spoke for a few moments.
"It's been a while since you called me that," Saito said eventually.
"Sorry, Rock...I'm just stressed..."
The old familiar nickname seemed to settle them both, and Netto stood up and stretched. "You agreed to go back to school? That's not very me-like."
"Then you should have said something."
"Che! Always depending on me, aren't ya?" Netto grinned at his twin's lecturing tone of voice.
"Constantly," Saito said good-naturedly.
"Jeez! What have you got me wearing?" Netto inspected the black t-shirt Saito had donned that morning while his mother washed Netto's vest. "I guess it's kinda cool. Where'd it come from?"
"Your closet. Papa sent it from one of his trips last year. And if you didn't like it--"
"--I should have said something. I know, I know. Well, let's go, then!" He put his PET on his belt and headed out the door, taking his skates with him.
"...Go? Where are we going?"
"You said I should do something. So we're doing something!" Netto forced a smile and fell silent as he came downstairs, spotting Haruka in the kitchen. "I'm going out for a while, Mama. Bye!"
"Be careful!" she called in response.
Netto then proceeded to skate in lazy circles around the street while his confused twin waited. "Well?"
"Well what?" Saito barely spoke in fear of making Netto lose his balance.
"Where are we going? Densan?"
"What? I guess so...?"
"OK! To the Metroline!" Netto took off in a burst of speed around the block, slowing only to go down the stairs into the station itself. "What shall we do? We could go visit Miyuki and Saloma, or get some ice cream; what do you think, Rock?"
"Uhh...you don't have to act this cheery for my sake, Netto-kun..."
"Nah, no way! You're right. I've been...what's the word? Stagnating, or something. I'm makin' you do all the work." He boarded the train and sat, continuing the conversation despite the polite glances of the other patrons. "I didn't even help you out at school. Sorry about that."
"No, it's okay..."
"Heh, Mariko-sensei must've really scared you when she mentioned you were acting weird! No one'd ever believe what actually happened though. Ne?" Netto forced himself to sound as normal as possible, suddenly perceiving that this was what his twin had went through for his sake the past week. Netto vowed to himself that he wouldn't put that kind of burden on his partner after this, no matter what he himself was feeling.
Truthfully, Saito's little speech had had stirred him a bit. Netto had been wallowing in self-pity since the shooting, and had barely even noticed. From now on, he thought, I'll be genki.* For Rock's sake.
He did feel a little better after talking to Saito, he had to admit. Maybe this was what he needed after all. "Okay, since you're in my body and all, let's do stuff you wouldn't be able to do as a Navi. How about getting some ice cream?"
Saito's curiosity had been piqued. "Sure," he agreed. Netto lead them out of the Metrorail to the streets of Densan, bustling with people at rush hour. A small ice-cream shop was on the corner of one of the city blocks not far from Miyuki's antique store, and that was where the twins ended up. Netto quickly found his fake cheerfulness being replaced by geniune enthusiasm, especially when it came time to order. "I'll have a large banana split with vanilla and rocky road ice cream, caramel, nuts, chocolate whipped cream, and a cherry. Please." A split second passed before he realized that he was eating for two. "Actually, make that a small banana split, and I'll also have a...um..." he hesitated again before saying distractedly, "Saito-niisan would probably like a parfait or something...chocolate maybe?"
"Yes, I think he would," Saito decided aloud.
Not missing a beat, Netto took over again. "A small chocolate parfait. Please."
The woman behind the counter smiled, not noticing anything amiss, and handed Netto the ice cream and two spoons. He took them back to a booth in the corner and sat down, put the parfait in front of him, and picked up a spoon. "There you go, Rock. Try it."
"Okay..." Hesitantly Saito assumed control and lifted the spoon to taste it. "Hm..."
"Well, well?" the excited tone in Netto's voice was not to be missed.
Saito laughed aloud. "It's good. I like it."
"Hah, I knew I'd make a good choice. I'll shut up; you enjoy your ice cream. Just don't take too long, or mine'll melt."
"Okay." Saito grinned and dug in.
"Netto..." His breathing was laboured despite the machines regulating it, machines that were the only thing keeping him alive at that moment. "They're in danger..."
"Shh, Papa..." Haruka soothed, holding his hand. "Don't try to talk now."
"It's the drugs," the nurse pronounced, leaving a cup of water on the nighttable. "He's likely hallucinating right now, but he'll be okay when he wakes up. Now that he's out of the coma he's essentially out of danger."
Haruka winced. "He sounds like he's suffering so..."
"It'll be fine, Hikari-san. You just let him rest."
On the hospital bed, Hikari Yuuichirou tossed and turned, his face contorted with pain. "Saito...Netto...stay away from Server...please...wait for me...!"
"You're certain this is correct location?" Glyde looked doubtful as they stood outsite the Net access port.
"We need a link, de gutsu."
Roll frowned. "But where will we get that? Is there any way to trace this link back to the location of the owner's PC?"
"That would take a considerable amount of time, but it can be done," Glyde replied. "I'll contact some of the security Navis once we return."
"Well, we're here," Roll insisted. "We can't just leave."
"Don't worry, you won't be going anywhere." A green Navi had appeared from the access port.
"Who's that, de gutsu!?"
"You're gotten this far and cannot guess that?" He smirked. "My name is Mouse. Knowing that will not help you in the least--and you'll have an even more difficult time finding information on Server-sama. Well, accurate information, that is."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Roll demanded.
"Fool, how do you think that information got onto the Net City boards? Server-sama was expecting both you and the Hikari brat to come looking for us. Just where is Rockman?"
Neither of the three answered, provoking a bitter laugh from the green Navi. "Turned tail, did he? I suppose he's not as brave as I'd heard."
"Don't speak ill of Rockman-san," Glyde said suddenly, coming unexpectedly to Rockman's defense.
"Then where is the coward?"
Tears welled up in Roll's eyes and she bit back an angry reply. Gutsman stood protectively in front of her and faced Mouse.
"Could it be..." Mouse stepped closer, leering. "Could it be that he's been deleted?"
Their silence was the confirmation he needed. Mouse laughed aloud. "Server-sama, did you hear that! It seems Rockman has finally met his end. Tell me, Roll-chan," he pried, the familiar name making her flinch. "...whatever happened to him? Perhaps...a virus?"
Something inside of her snapped. "It was you! You infected him with that virus somehow, didn't you!?"
"Ah, but I've told you much too much already. Perhaps if you'll join me for a while I'll think about telling you more?"
"I'm not going anywhere with you!"
"Pity. Key!" Mouse raised his voice just slightly. "I don't think these are very grateful guests for Server-sama. Take her, and let's go."
"Roll! Behind you!" Meiru screamed. The purple Navi that she and Netto has seen in Snides' PET appeared in an instant, grabbed Roll by the waist, and disappeared into the PC link.
"Roll-chan!" Gutsman bellowed, lunging for Mouse.
The green Navi made a tsk'ing sound and took a step backwards. "Such rude guests, certainly. Well, I'll delete you some other time, I have more important things to attend to. Good-bye!" Before Gutsman even had time to move again Mouse was gone as well, and the link closed.
"Glyde! Plug-out!" Yaito snapped, disconnecting her PET from the computer. She turned to Meiru, eyes wide, frozen still. Beside the girls Dekao continued to direct Gutsman as the bigger Navi pounded on the access port, screaming obscenities. Yaito had never seen him so angry.
"It's no good, de gutsu," Gutsman cried as he beat his fists against the wall. "Roll-chan! Roll-chan!"
"Roll..." Meiru couldn't tear her eyes away from her PET, the system hissing indignantly at the suddenly severed link.
On the screen, there was only static.
The Impression I Get belongs to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
genki - energetic, cheerful, etc. there are english words, but none really fit what I was trying to say. apologies-- it's been a while since I've had any japanese except suffixes in my fics, this is a one-time-only thing. :P
In the manga, Mariko-sensei called Netto 'Hikari-kun.' The anime uses 'Netto-kun' (I think). Since the manga usually follows the game suffixes more closely, and I don't really feel like playing the whole game through right now to find out what Mariko'd call him, I'll go for Hikari-kun. Whee.
I'm hoping by now everyone's figured out my naming patterns. When people are talking TO Rockman they call him by their previous preference (Rock or Rockman for Netto, Rock for Meiru and Roll, Rockman-san for Glyde, etc) but when he's being referred to by yon narrator (that'd be me) he's called Saito. So far this works pretty well; the only one likely to actually call him 'Saito' is Yuuichirou, and Roll and Netto both used it to make a point. The same applies still to Yuuichirou; when people speak to him they call him Hikari-sensei (this may be changed to Hikari-san or Hikari-hakase; since I haven't seen anyone use 'sensei' in the game and I think that might only apply to medical doctors) and when speaking *about* him I'll use Dr. Hikari or just Yuuichirou. (Edit, January 4/03 - Changed -sensei to -san throughout)
I'm certain you noticed. This story is FULL of plot holes. I started the story BEFORE playing the game; I was writing for the anime storyline. A friend told me about the Saito plot. However...that particular arc hasn't happened in the anime, and it doesn't look like it'll happen soon (if at all). This is a shame because I'm much more familiar with the anime, having translated/edited a good chunk of it. So it's incredibly easy to slip into anime storyline habits--such as my use of the name 'Rockman' constantly instead of Netto's more familiar 'Rock', details about the Net, Yaito's use of 'Hikari-kun' for Netto, Rockman's relationship with Roll (it pops up in the anime, but it a bit more defined in the game), and the complete absence of Tohru. I had actually WRITTEN Tohru into a scene in this chapter that I had to remove upon remembering that Tohru isn't in the game. For that reason, Iceman won't be going with Gutsman, Glyde and Roll. Sorry guys. :P I'm certain I mentioned him in chapter 9, but that'll have to be edited later, as will...well, everything else. Anyway, small details and minor plot holes will be whisked away by Rush later, as in after the story is done. (January 4/2003 Done. ^_^) I'll try and stay in continuity as much as possible from here on in. :)
Shi: We're coming to the climax of the story. However will it end! *gasp*
Seki: What, you mean you came up with something? I know I didn't...
Shi: Shh! Don't tell them that!
Saito: Wait...you mean you don't KNOW how this thing ends?
Shi: *defensively* Well, the story just kinda fell out of my head, I didn't think it through very well, and, uh--blame the muse!!!
G: I vote that all muses revolt.
Duo: Oh, I second that.
Shi: How about the authors revolt?
Seki: You did that already. I think you called it "returning to real life" at the time.
G: FREE THE MUSE!
Duo: LIBERTY FOR MUSES!
Shi: Gaia, your muse and mine seem to be starting a mutiny...
Gaia: See, I told you...they get out of control...
Duo: JUSTICE! HONOR!
Shi: Dear God, how can I work with you people...?
Please keep reading! Love you all! ^_~