Rockman.EXE is not mine. Don't sue.
Us After This
Author's Note: I love to hear your comments! If you have nothing constructive to say, feed my ego!!
"Fight with me again, Saito-niisan!"
~Hikari Netto, Rockman EXE
"Glyde, have that link traced back to the PC," Yaito instructed as she squeezed Meiru's hand comfortingly. "We'll go right to the source."
Dekao clenched his fist. "Gutsman, get as many allies as you can. Find Iceman, Numberman, Blues...whatever it takes. Without Netto and Rockman we're going to have a tough time."
"Netto...somebody find him," Meiru managed to choke out. "He...needs to know what happened..."
Dekao and his partner exchanged a look. "I'll do it. Gutsman--be careful."
"You too, de gutsu."
"I'll be back." Dekao ran downstairs and Yaito heard the front door bang shut. Meiru continued to cry.
Glyde's voice drifted out of her PET. "Yaito-sama, the trace is underway. It will take some time. Meiru-san, please don't be sad, we'll rescue Roll-san very quickly. Just wait."
"I know..." Meiru wiped the back of her hand across her eyes.
A moment of silence passed, and the door opened and closed again. Dekao appeared, breathing heavily. "There's no one there. He must be out."
"I hope he wasn't attacked too," Yaito said worriedly.
"There's no way to know, without Rockman." Dekao was beginning to find that Rockman's loss was affecting them all more and more as time passed. Netto simply wasn't acting normal lately, as well as the absence of a Navi putting him out of contact. "Yaito-chan, we should probably go back to your house and get more help."
"Good idea. Meiru-chan, are you all right?"
"I'll be fine." Meiru got to her feet, steadying herself on the desk. "Let's go get Roll back."
"Well, now what?" Netto patted his stomach, where a banana split (and technically a chocolate parfait) had just made his day a lot more tolerable. "What did you think of that?"
"That was really great, Netto-kun!" Saito said excitedly. "I've never had anything like it. I think I could get used to this 'taste' thing."
"You needed it, feeding me instant ramen and Sakurai-san's cooking all week."
"I liked that too."
"Don't worry, that's just because you haven't had anything else. You'll have to try Mama's meat spaghetti sometime."
Netto sat back against the booth, laying his hands flat on the table. He turned one over slowly and closed the fingers into a fist, then opened them again. He wiggled his fingers a bit and cocked his head.
"What are you doing?" Saito questioned.
"Just looking," Netto replied. "Have you ever watched your own hands move? It was so weird watchng you move mine earlier."
"I've had plenty of opportunity now," Saito declared. "Netto-kun...you're not resentful of the situation we're in...are you?"
"I could have done without Papa getting shot," Netto replied bitterly. "And I can't say I wouldn't mind having my body to myself all the time. But I don't resent you being here. If it wasn't for this...this synchro, you wouldn't be alive."
"I don't know what to say, but...well...thanks. I'm glad we're both okay. And if you ever want me out, I'm out. I promise."
"I'd never ask you to do that," Netto said with a frown. "We're partners, through and through."
"Anytime. Now...how about walking around Densan a bit? Heading over to Miyuki's?"
"Okay, that'll be interesting." With Netto in control, the twins left the ice cream shop and headed to Densan Block One, crossing the streets through underground walkways. "This brings back memories of the fight with Coloredman."
"I'll say. This time you're walking on the streets instead of inside the stoplights, though."
"Good thing," Saito laughed. "That's not an experience I'd like to repeat."
They entered the shop, and Netto greeted the attendant. "Hey, Miyuki-san!"
"Netto-kun." Miyuki seemed surprised to see him; she was standing at the register talking to Skullman through her PET. "I'm surprised you're not with your friends. Have you heard what's happened?"
"Something happened?" Netto stiffened. Maybe Meiru had been attacked again, or Yaito, or Dekao...?
"Yes." Miyuki's dark eyes fixed intently on him. "Something's happened to you too, hasn't it? There's another presence in your aura."
"Well, that is..."
Miyuki smiled. "Good, that's good. I'd like to know more later. As for now...I think you should know that Roll's been kidnapped."
Saito could not control his outburst. "What? Roll-chan!?"
Miyuki nodded gravely. "By Navis belonging to the men who attacked you and your father, it seems. Gutsman has asked Skullman and I for our assistance."
"Where are they?" Netto demanded. "Where's Meiru-chan?"
"One moment." She changed the sign in the shop window from 'Open' to 'Closed' and disconnected her PET from the register. "Skullman has just received directions from Glyde. It seems the PC we are looking for is here in Densan."
"Here?" Saito looked pleased. "Good, we can get to them quickly."
"Block Three of the city," Miyuki confirmed, shooing him out the door. "Come. We're likely to arrive there first, so be on your guard."
Netto followed Miyuki through the streets of Densan, again taking the underground sidewalks. He didn't know how Miyuki knew about Rockman, but it was a good opportunity to speak to his partner without having to explain to her. "Are you okay?"
As predicted, Miyuki didn't even bat an eye. Saito's reply came a moment later, though Netto still controlled his body. "I'm worried about Roll-chan. They wouldn't delete her, would they?"
"They're probably using her as a hostage to get to us."
"They probably don't know what happened to you. Us." Miyuki shushed him as they approached a tall apartment building in Block Three. "Is this it?"
"Glyde says that the computer link was traced back to an apartment on the top floor. We should probably wait for your friends, however. Skullman tells me that Gutsman has called Woodman and some others to assist."
"But it's no good to wait," Netto insisted. "Someone has to get into the apartment and let the others in."
"That's right," Saito agreed.
Even at this Miyuki did not look surprised. "Take care, then. I'll do what I can to help, but if there's someone else in the residence you may be in trouble."
"I can't afford to wait," Saito said breathlessly. He led the body they shared inside the main door and up five flights of stairs to the roof, emerging into the afternoon sunlight on the rickety old building.
"You're more agile than me," Netto said. "This is your department."
"Then it's a good thing I've been learning how to move all week," the ex-Navi replied. He ran to the edge of the roof and clamoured over the waist-high concrete block onto a ledge jutting out about a foot. Miyuki had retreated into the shadowed alleyway below; she looked up at him but did not speak.
Gingerly Saito moved along the narrow path until he was directly above a windowsill, lowering himself with strength he hadn't known he'd possessed onto a tiny block of wood at the top. From there he moved down onto the windowsill itself, and discovered another piece of wood propping the glass open.
There were no curtains covering the window, and luckily the room into which it opened was deserted. Slowly Saito pushed the glass up and snaked inside, giving Miyuki a final wave. He let the window shut on the block of wood again.
The room was dingy and mostly empty, save for an old couch and television, and a pile of clothes in the corner. Saito pressed his back against the wall and moved toward the door, hoping to find evidence of the apartment being deserted without actually having to leave. To his dismay, there were no sounds coming from elsewhere in the rooms, or they were too muffled for him to make out. He dared not open the door.
At the very least they could warn Miyuki. Saito turned back to the the window, jolting in surprise when a pair of booted feet appeared on the sill. Silently, almost effortlessly, Ijuuin Enzan slid the window open and let himself inside. "Hikari. Good, nothing's happened to you."
Saito pressed his finger to his lips and gestured at the door. Enzan lowered his already-quiet voice. "Your friends are outside. It might be wise if you allowed Blues to send them a message."
Saito nodded in reply and took Enzan's PET, keying in a quick message on the word processor. Can't tell if there are people home. PC is not in this room. Do you have a plan? -Hikari
Wordlessly, Blues sent the memo. Less than a moment later Glyde appeared on the screen and displayed several lines of text. Yaito-sama, Meiru-san, and Dekao-san are already inside. They intend to provide a distraction so that Meiru-san can gain access to the PC.
Netto wanted to shake his head in disbelief, but his twin was still in control. Before he could write a reply, another message appeared. Do you want us to call the police? I'm linking Woodman to Ijuuin's PET now. -Saloma
It was followed a moment later by another, and another.
Police! Hah! We can handle this. My Sharkman will tear the bastards apart. I'm sending him too. -Masa
We have no proof as of yet. If the Navis find Roll, then we should, and they should contact the Net Police as well. My Skullman is with you. -Miyuki
Saito smiled grimly.
Iceman is with you. -Hikawa
The chances of winning are low, but Numberman and I will help as best we can. -Higure
Saito tapped out a quick message. Thanks everyone. Enzan will plug-in and send the Navis into the computer, then we'll try to help the others. -Hikari
The six Navis who didn't belong returned momentarily to their own PETs with his message, and Blues disappeared as well, presumably forwarding it to Dekao. Within a minute they were all back, along with Gutsman, who bore a message of his own. We're outside the door now. Dekao-kun has a plan, so be ready to find the PC and plug-in. -Meiru
"I don't think I want to know what a plan Dekao would made up would look like," Netto said softly, directing the comment more toward his brother than Enzan.
The doorbell rang.
"That's his plan?" Saito hissed.
"Come on." Enzan took Saito by the sleeve and they crept to the door, listening to a set of feet walk from one room of the apartment to another. Saito pushed open the door and peeked outside.
A cry of outrage met their ears along with the sound of pounding feet, and Saito knew instinctively that Dekao had somehow lured the owner out of the house altogether. He ran into the hallway and began to check each room, joined by Enzan a moment later.
"In here, Hikari," Enzan snapped, slipping into a room that had had its door closed. "There's a PC."
Saito followed the white-haired boy and waited until he had successfully plugged his PET into the computer before edging out again, closing the door again behind him. Meiru had said she was coming in. What had happened to the others?
At the end of the hallway was a small kitchen, and attached to that, a porch. The flat's door was left wide open, but as Saito was about to move closer a tall man appeared in it. "I saw you run in here! Where are you, kid!?"
Shit. Saito stepped back into the room he'd entered through again, pulling the door almost-closed. Where was Meiru? Was she safe?
As if as an answer to his unspoken question, a female scream echoed through the apartment, and Saito heard a scuffle outside. Breathing deep, he opened the door and was immediately run over by a blur of yelling pink and blonde. Yaito landed a punch on his chest before recognizing her attacker. "Hikari-kun!"
"Shh!" Saito grabbed her by the waist and retreated back into the room, closing the door again. "What's going on out there!?"
Yaito looked smug. "We rang the doorbell and threw eggs at the guy that opened it. He ran off after Dekao-kun and Meiru-chan and I got inside, but I think he came back and caught us."
Sure enough, a familiar voice started to bellow from the kitchen. "I know there's someone still in here, so give yourself up or I'll hurt her!"
Saito froze, uncertain how to handle the situation, and wordlessly handed control back to Netto.
It seemed the brunette Hikari had a plan, or the beginnings of one. "Yaito-chan, I want you to hide in that closet, and have the others call the police. Get in touch with Enzan, and find out whether they've found Roll. I'm going to rescue Meiru-chan."
"Are you sure that'll work?"
"Come out right now, or I'll kill her!"
"Hide! And tell Enzan to do that same!" Netto insisted.
"O-okay!" Yaito backed off and ran to the small closet, squeezing inside. Grimly Netto stepped into the hall.
He was met by Server, who had started opening doors one by one. "Well, well, well. If it isn't Hikari Netto himeself. That was the dumbest thing you could have done, kid."
The craggy face leered menacingly at him. "Welcome to your Hell."
synchro - an obvious reference to the manga. :P
the "I am with you," scene was a whacked-out reference to the Witches of Dathomir. :P
meat spaghetti - reference to EXE anime episode 23 :P Yuuichirou raves over Haruka's meat spaghetti.
More suffix-guessing in this chapter. Wasn't sure what Saloma would call Enzan; decided on 'Ijuuin' in the end. Watch for potho--er, plotholes. Chose the allies from Battle Network 1 only, because I'm not done 2 so I don't know who becomes helpful. Too bad Dekao's gonna miss the next scene--maybe I'll find a way to write him in. Maybe he'll make a heroic rescue attempt as filler, since I was SUPPOSED to write the upcoming climax into this chapter, not the next. I was too busy fussing over the ice cream again. Saito-kun needed it anyway. And they'll damn well need some bonding and closure before what's gonna happen in the NEXT chapter.
Netto: Meiru-chan's been captured! Dekao too!?
Rockman: Be careful, Netto-kun! Server is a strong guy!
Netto: Enzan, just what the hell happened to you?
Rockman: I can do this myself. I won't let them hurt you!
Netto: ...Rockman! Are you there? ROCKMAN!
Rockman: Netto-kun, please don't die!
Next time on Rockman.EXE!
"Join Me In Death."
Rockman: Netto-kun~! Don't do this!