Music-Box Angel 3... C&C is welcomed with open arms!  If you read,
please send me a comment or two -- I just gotta know what y'all 
think!  ^_^

For the sake of convenience in this text format, the two Maries 
are known under different spellings.  Hiroshi's creation is known 
as Marie, while the human version is known as Mari.

Thoughts of the various characters are encased in [brackets].
Computer conversations are encased /like so/.

NOTE:  This text was produced without the consent of the original 
copyright holders, and, while it is intended as tribute, in some 
areas it is considered an illegal work.

OUR STORY SO FAR:  Friday morning, Marie began hearing a voice in 
her head. That afternoon, Hiroshi got a new CD, and decided that 
music may be the way to bridge the gap of interests they have. He 
decided to make a music box to woo Mari and give them something 
beautiful in common.  That evening, Marie had a dream and met the 
voice, a young girl named Hitomi, who said she once had a 
relationship with Hiroshi...

Saturday morning, Marie loses her memory altogether, and, while 
Hiroshi is fixing her, Mari comes over to return the CD he bought 
on Friday, and a conversation ensues. That afternoon, Tanaka 
arranges for the four of them (Marie included) to have coffee that 
evening.  Hiroshi manages to get Marie to function, but her 
condition is rather fragile.  At 8:00, they pile into Tanaka's 
Audi, on their way to the Cafe Pierrot.  Mari is mad at Hiroshi, 
but he has a surprise for her...

------------     --------     ------     --------     ------------

                           *     *     *

                     B O K U   N O   M A R I E
                          Music-Box Angel
                  Episode Three: High The Memory

      The anime (c) 1996 Sakura Takeuchi/Goro Sanyo/Shueisha/
                Victor Entertainment/Studio Pierrot.
           Licensed by Victor Entertainment, Inc., Japan.
             Released in North America by A.D.V. Films
                  under the title "My Dear Marie."
 For more information, contact A.D.V. Films at:

     Boku No Marie: Music-Box Angel (c) 1998 Matthew Johnston.
                        All Rights Reserved.

                           *     *     *

Yume yo yume           Dreams, listen, my dreams!
Koishiki hito ni       Do not bring me together
Aimatsu na             With the man I love--
Samete no nochi wa     When once I have awakened
Wabishikarikeri        It makes me feel so lonely.
                                        --Anonymous, Heian Period

Saturday, 8:22 PM.

     The Cafe Pierrot was rather full for the day and time, but 
this did not bother head waiter Kenji Asato.  Nothing bothered 
Kenji Asato.  Or, at least, nothing had yet.  Kenji felt himself 
always open to new experiences, even one as remote as being at a 
loss for proper recourse.  He didn't expect this particular 
Saturday night to be any different, and, from the type of crowd he 
was serving, he had no reason to expect anything but smooth, if 
crowded, business.
     Kenji attributed his preparedness to his keen powers of 
observation.  He often stood just inside the kitchen doorway, 
watching the customers, observing their body language, attempting 
to gauge their wants.  "That is the sign of a well-trained 
waiter," his mentor had often said while he was training in Paris.  
"To give the customer what he wants before he even knows he wants 
it.  To be his invisible guide through his adventure, his meal."
     Kenji sighed briefly as he scanned his customers from the 
safety of the kitchen.  The Cafe Pierrot wasn't a five-star French 
restaurant, but it was definitely worthy of his full attention.  
He had given up on blind ambition years ago; his better days 
weren't ahead of him any longer.  However, he was far from 
retirement.  He knew he had yet to see many things.
     Many of the things Kenji had yet to see entered the cafe at 
that moment, though at the time he did not know that.  The old 
waiter made mental notes as he saw the foursome enter the cafe.
     [The girls may be twins -- their physicality is quite 
similar,]  He smiled briefly, but continued to deduce.  [I think 
they are not, though.  Their taste in clothing differs 
significantly, and they are on the opposite sides of their 
companions.  Usually twins keep to the same side of their 
companions.]  Kenji's face wrinkled as he squinted.  The one with 
darker hair had different eyes, and he noticed a minute difference 
in build.
     "Definitely not twins," he spoke aloud to keep the thought 
firmly in his mind.  "I'll have to tell Yoshiko."
     Yoshiko was a young waitress who tried, but still lacked a 
great deal of intuition.  The job, he knew, was not her calling.  
He made sure she had his mentality when she went out into the 
field, however, by gently coaching her.  She was, thankfully, a 
rather receptive student.  He stepped over to Yoshiko, who was 
filling her pitcher of water.
     "Yoshiko, the two couples at table nine," he followed the 
girl when she sidestepped to get four glasses.  "As much as they 
look the same, the girls are not twins.  I recommend you be 
discrete regarding their similarities."
     "Wha?  Oh, okay, I gotcha.  No twin jokes, right?  No 
problem, pops.  'xcuse me."  Yoshiko stepped in front of Kenji, 
tossed one glass in a plastic container for dirty dishes and got a 
cleaner one from the shelf.  "Thanks for the tip."  She smiled and 
nodded in his direction.  Kenji tried to hide his gaze.
     "You're quite welcome.  And please, call me..."  He looked 
up, to find the doors swinging.  She was gone, off into the field 
to serve invisibly.  "...Kenji."  He picked up the discarded glass 
and absently rotated it in his hands.

     Hiroshi held the menu to his face with shaking hands.  He 
tried to hum the light tune wafting through the speakers of the 
cafe, but his mind couldn't get up the courage to command his 
vocal cords; they were having enough problems with the lungs and 
heart.  On the whole, the evening was going poorly for him, and he 
was beginning to wonder if would have the courage to give Mari the 
gift even if the opportunity presented itself.
        To add more stress to his situation, the menu offered him too 
many choices.  Hiroshi had trouble picking blue-striped socks or 
red-striped socks in the morning, and those were his only options.  
The five-page menu had so many choices, Hiroshi was beginning to 
lose any confidence he had left from the afternoon.  He was going 
to have to be decisive in front of Mari, but what could he choose?  
Each dish had a significance, whether it be in price, taste, 
preparation or amount.  He knew he couldn't order something too 
fancy -- he didn't want to give the impression he was trying to 
impress Mari.  He also expected to pay for Mari's meal, so he 
couldn't order something too small, or Mari would feel piggish 
ordering anything larger.  Hiroshi succeeded only in stifling a 
desperate scream when the waitress came with a pitcher of water 
and four glasses.
     "Welcome to Cafe Pierrot.  Shall I take your order now, or 
would you like a few more moments to decide?"  The girl flipped to 
a fresh page on her pad and clicked her pen.
     Hiroshi tried to keep conscious.  [More decisions!]  He tried 
to telepathically contact Tanaka.  Perhaps if he could get Tanaka 
to make a decision for him, he could get away with cool agreement.  
Hiroshi shook his head behind the menu, which he pressed closer to 
his face.  [Cool doesn't work.  Remember this afternoon?  Don't 
try a bad plan twice!].  He saw in slow motion the few seconds 
that were the turning point for his conversation with Mari.  He 
scanned the memory again, and thought he saw a tear well up in her 
eye as she hesitated.  "Why are you acting like this?"  She said 
again and again in his mind.
     "I think we're ready to order now," Tanaka announced firmly, 
yanking Hiroshi back to reality.  He lowered his menu enough to 
get a good look at his table-mates.  They all had their menus 
down, and were looking at Hiroshi expectantly.
     "Have you decided, Hiroshi?"  Marie asked genuinely.
     "Ye-yeyes!  Yes!  Yes I have!  Umm... I'll have..."  He 
glanced at the menu, picking a random item.  "A White Russian.  
Yes that sounds good.  And some teriyaki yakisoba with pork.  No, 
beef.  No, pork.  Yes, pork."  The waitress scribbled, crossed 
out, and scribbled again.  Hiroshi exhaled finally, hoping he made 
at least a decent choice.  The other three blinked for a long 
moment, then proceeded to order.
     "I'll have what he's having."  Tanaka looked over at Hiroshi, 
a rather large smile on his face.  Hiroshi straightened a little 
in his seat, feeling his confidence build, little by little.  If 
Tanaka ordered the same, it couldn't be all that bad.
     Mari seemed a little nervous when she ordered her meal, and 
Marie ordered only a chocolate milkshake.  Then came the question.
     "Would you like this on separate checks?"
     Hiroshi and Tanaka answered first.  "No!"  Mari was only 
slightly behind with her "Yes, please," and Marie remained silent 
with a ponderous look weighing on her face.
     "Okay, then.  I'll have your drinks in just a moment!"  The 
waitress strode to the kitchen.
     "Hey, pops?  The two boys at table nine ordered White 
Russians.  Can you make 'em?  You're a lot better than *some* 
people here."  Yoshiko looked accusingly at a certain young man in 
the kitchen, who looked down, his face flushed with embarrassment.
     "Certainly, Yoshiko."  Kenji tried continuing the 
conversation.  "Did they seem nervous?  The boys, I mean."
     "One did.  It doesn't look like he gets out much.  The 
other's a playboy -- I could tell by looking at him."
     Kenji nodded in approval and began mixing the drinks.  "Good 
eye, Yoshiko.  I agree."  He finished the drinks and placed them 
on her tray, next to a Coke and a chocolate milkshake.  "This one 
here is mixed very weak.  The other one is mixed strong.  I leave 
it to you to decide who get which drink."
     Yoshiko hesitated, then smiled.  "Oooh, I get it.  Smart 
move, pops."  With that, she trotted off, out of the kitchen.
     "Which one do you think she'll give to which?"  The young man 
inquired from the stove.
     "I trust she'll make the correct decision.  I think she's in 
agreement with me that a playboy is less dangerous sober."
     "But what about the other boy?"
     "I'm taking a small leap of faith with him.  If he's the 
person I believe him to be, however, he'll appreciate the extra 
courage I just provided him."

     "Here's your drinks.  Two White Russians, a Coke, and a 
chocolate milkshake."  Yoshiko passed out the drinks, making sure 
to give the proper White Russian to each boy.  Hiroshi took the 
short glass in shaking hands and took a sip.
     "Your meals will be here momentarily."  Yoshiko turned 
towards the kitchen.  Five seconds later as Hiroshi downed his 
     "Hey, waitress!"  Hiroshi pounded the glass down on the table 
before she could get to the kitchen.  "Another one of these 
here... Whaddya call 'em?  Drinks!"  Yoshiko turned, smiled 
nervously and nodded before she disappeared into the kitchen.
     "Maybe I should have given the strong one to the playboy," 
she mused.  "Hey pops!  Can you mix me a mock White Russian, 
please?  I think we over-mixed the shy guy's last one."
     "I only hope the food can help reverse a little of the 
effects."  Kenji mixed the drink and quickly handed it to Yoshiko, 
who was just receiving the entrees from the head cook.
     "Thanks, pops."  Before she pushed her way out the door, 
Yoshiko looked at Kenji with a soft and concerned look.  "I gave 
him the right one, right?  I mean, Mr. Playboy was supposed to get 
the weak one, right?"
     "Your decision was correct.  It was my judgment that was 
erroneous."  Kenji stepped to Yoshiko and smiled.  Get that boy 
some food before he embarrasses himself in front of his friends."
     "You got it, pops.  I mean, Mr. Asato.  I mean..."  Yoshiko 
blushed and turned away, into the field.
     Kenji Asato dared not follow her.

        Both Tanaka and Mari had silently decided that dinner was 
going to end the second Hiroshi finished his yakisoba.  That, 
however, was easier said than done.  Between large bites of 
noodles and swigs of mock White Russians, Hiroshi talked.  Loudly.  
Enthusiastically, he relayed accounts of his intellectual 
exploits, some dating as far back as kindergarten.  Some were 
absurd, others merely boring, but they were told in such a manner 
that one who didn't know Japanese would have thought Hiroshi to be 
telling exciting war tales.  He told twice the story of how he 
rigged the smoke alarm in his living room to not only detect, but 
seek out and eliminate the fires using a series of vacuums and 
water hoses.  One bite of yakisoba remained on his plate as he 
finished the story.
        "And when my dad lit that cigarette, the vacuum sucked it up 
and doused his face.  He was so mad at me he..."  Hiroshi paused 
to laugh loudly.
        "...Kept me out of the garage for a month."  Tanaka mouthed 
the words as Hiroshi giggled his way through the punchline.  
Tanaka realized that the meal would never end.  He was being 
punished.  Soon, death, clad in his robe, would come to the table 
and give Hiroshi another plate of yakisoba and wink at Tanaka.  He 
knew it.  He looked at the near-empty plate, wishing the final bit 
would just disappear so he could go home.  He noticed that both 
Mari's were also staring at the plate.  They followed the bite of 
food as Hiroshi grabbed it, lifted it, and finally ate it.  They 
sighed simultaneously, and stood as Hiroshi gathered himself and 
finished his drink.
        "You can cover the tip," Tanaka announced coldly.  "A 
thousand should do it."
        Hiroshi's speech was no longer slurred, but the cafe was 
tipping needlessly whenever he moved his head.  "Isn't that a 
little high?"
        Tanaka looked at the bill, and shook his head no.  "Not after 
the show you put on."  Hiroshi saw Mari look at Tanaka accusingly, 
then away, towards the door.
        Once in the car, Hiroshi grew suddenly quiet.  The package in 
his hands felt immensely heavy.  If he didn't give it to her soon, 
he felt like his whole body would collapse trying to hold it.  
Mari had to know he was going to give it to her -- it wasn't an 
easy thing to hide, especially with no real pockets in his jacket.  
He looked beside him, and saw Marie looking sympathetically at 
him, smiling like his mother used to whenever he hurt himself 
playing.  But that was so long ago.
        Tanaka broke the uneasy silence.  "You know, I think I'm just 
going to drop you two off here.  If I'm not mistaken, you two need 
to have some time alone."  Tanaka stopped the car in front of the 
fountain park a block from Hiroshi's house.  Hiroshi cautiously 
opened the door, as did Marie.  Tanaka interrupted.  "Not you, 
Marie.  The other one!"  Tanaka was grinning the toothy grin of 
one who knew too much for his own good.  Mari looked at him, then 
glanced at Hiroshi, who was looking at both of them helplessly.  
She sighed and opened her door.
        "I'm going to drop Marie off at your house and head home, 
okay?"  Tanaka didn't give Mari or Hiroshi time to react as he 
peeled off, leaving them on the curb alone.
        "So," Mari finally spoke.  "You wanted to talk with me?"
        Hiroshi found he was not only able to speak, but to reply to 
Mari.  "Yeah.  Let's go to the fountain up there."  He pointed to 
the top of a flight of brick stairs to the main fountain.  Mari 
shrugged and followed Hiroshi up the stairs.
        The main fountain was a large, but not immense brick pool 
with three large jets of water rising then falling on themselves.  
Hiroshi sat on the edge of the fountain, and looked intently at 
the sky.  The moon was rather large for the season, and the stars 
shone, free from the winter clouds that had obscured them for much 
of the past three months.
        Mari sat to his left, and looked up as well.  "It's beautiful 
tonight, isn't it?"

                           *     *     *

        "Can I come in?"  Tanaka had been kind enough to walk Marie 
to the door, and Marie had thanked him.  She was about to close 
the door, but something in her... There was something strange 
about the way he asked.
        "Sure.  But only for a second.  It's almost 10:30, and I have 
things I need to do.  Tomorrow morning I mean."  She kept the door 
open long enough for Tanaka to step in, and turned to face him 
after she closed it.  "Would you like a..."
        Tanaka kissed her.  And Marie didn't move away.  She assumed 
that she could move -- those libraries were active at the moment, 
but that something in her that opened the door wasn't letting her 
        Tanaka's kiss was light, almost virginal, as if he was daring 
himself to do it, and even then only barely succeeding in 
gathering the courage.  Her mind flashed an image of the small 
wall scroll on the bathroom wall -- two young children leaning 
over to barely touch lips.  Just like the boy in the picture, 
Tanaka's eyes were closed, and he was leaning forward to reach 
her.  The scene seemed a little comical to her, but she didn't 
dare laugh.  At length, Tanaka pulled himself away and opened his 
        Marie blushed, but she noticed she wasn't blushing nearly as 
much as Tanaka.  He smiled and laughed boyishly.  "Sorry, I just 
couldn't resist.  You looked like you needed a good kiss."  He 
turned and walked confidently to the living room, where he plopped 
himself on the couch.
        "I see.  I don't know if I needed one as badly as you did."  
Marie followed, but sat in the chair across from Tanaka.
        "Aww, c'mon, Marie.  You loved it as much as I did.  Admit 
        "There's nothing between us, Tanaka.  I want you to know 
that.  For your own protection, you know, because...  I don't want 
to see you.  Getting hurt, that is.  I mean..."  Marie paused.  
There was something pushing inside her, mentally, and physically.  
[Sorry, Marie, but I think I need to take over from here.]  The 
presence in her mind burst forward, and Marie's vision faded.

        She could still see, to be sure, but it was like she was 
watching over her own shoulder.  She felt as if she was standing 
normally, but when she moved, nothing changed.  She wasn't 
controlling herself anymore.  She heard herself speaking, words 
she would never say.  Hurtful words.  More than just blunt or 
forthright.  Mean, spiteful words.  The thoughts behind those 
words literally flew by like a neon ticker-tape.  "...for your own 
good...for your own good...for your own good..."  Marie couldn't 
be sure who the presence was referring to, but it didn't help her 
        Terror began to grip Marie, and she fought to keep from 
screaming.  She had to think.  Marie searched her mind, trying to 
figure out who was controlling her.  She hoped she could find an 
identity and somehow put a stop to it.  Somehow.
        Hitomi.  The memories played back -- random moments flashing 
before her on a giant translucent billboard that encompassed her 
whole vision.  The girl who looked exactly like her on the bench 
in the dream changed.  Now exactly like Mari, laughing lightly, 
saying, "You can't compete," then suddenly different entirely, all 
brown hair and skin and long legs and playing the piano...
        [Hitomi!  Stop!]

                           *     *     *

        "I'm sorry for the way I acted this afternoon.  I didn't mean 
to seem so heartless."  Hiroshi hung his head.  "And in the cafe 
tonight.  I'm sorry about that, too.  I..."  Hiroshi's voice 
caught in his throat, and he had to clear it twice before he could 
continue.  "I didn't know what a White Russian was.  I guess 
that'll teach me to order the first thing I see on the menu."  
Mari joined him in a small chuckle.  The fountains behind them 
hummed subtle white noise, and the slightest hint of a breeze let 
the water tickle the backs of their necks.
        "Don't worry about it.  It happens to the best of us."  Mari 
was turned slightly away, toward the street lamp.  She uncrossed, 
then recrossed her legs.  "I'm sorry too, for the way I treated 
you in the car.  That was cold of me."  If Hiroshi had known how 
nervous Mari was, that his presence was causing her nervousness, 
and that the nervousness for her was at least 50% thrill, he could 
have better appreciated the moment.  As it stood, however, it was 
still a little overwhelming.  The effects of his drink were 
beginning to fade -- he could see better now, and the world was 
steady again -- but the nervousness he normally felt wasn't 
returning.  He smiled as he fingered the ill-wrapped present in 
his hands.  It pleased him that he would be sober when he gave it 
to her.
        "Mari, I..."  His throat closed again, and he coughed 
lightly.  "I meant to give this to you earlier, but I guess..."  
Mari turned, swiveling her whole body towards his.  Her eyes held 
the playful reflections from the fountain.  She was looking 
directly at him.  they were looking directly at each other.  
Hiroshi's mind froze, but he had already made the motion of 
holding out the box to her.  She lifted it gracefully from his 
hands, her fingertips brushing his palm when she did.  Hiroshi 
felt the shiver fly up his arm, through his spine and legs.  He 
couldn't move, couldn't think, but it didn't matter.
        "Thank you.  May I open it?"  Mari turned her gaze to the 
box, giving it the same intense gaze.  Hiroshi managed to stutter 
an affirmative, and she proceeded to open it as carefully as 
        [Why did I use so much tape?] was Hiroshi's only thought as 
she carefully unfolded the wrapping paper.  The first reflections 
off the street lamp, coupled with the unearthly shapes of light 
the fountain created bounced from the surface of the music box 
into Mari's eyes.  Her gasp was barely audible above the chorus of 
water.  When she turned her beautiful, intense gaze back at 
Hiroshi, tears were welling.
        "It plays music."  Hiroshi was proud to be able to speak at 
all, let alone something so informative.
        "It plays music?"  Mari half-sobbed, half laughed.  She 
opened the lid with slender fingers.
        And the tune began.
        And the world disappeared.

        Hiroshi was in a house, standing under an archway door, 
looking in on a plush room.  Lots of red and orange and warm 
colors.  A piano.  Really big.  The biggest he'd ever seen.
        Hiroshi was on the piano bench.  He wasn't alone.  He looked 
to his right, and saw her.  Her straight brown hair and smooth 
brown skin and big golden eyes and too-long legs and slightly 
pigeon-toed feet.  She was concentrating, smiling, playing a song.  
The song.  His song.  Their song.  *The* song.

                           *     *     *

        The second Hitomi took control of Marie's body, she stood and 
began shouting.  "If you think you can waltz in here after what 
you tried to pull last time, and then have the gall to steal a 
kiss, you've got another thing coming!  Why don't you go try to 
hit on Mari?  Why?  Because you're a complete loser, that's why!  
I want you out!  Out!"  She reached for the coffee table and 
picked up a mug.  "OUT!"  She threw the mug at the retreating 
Tanaka.  It hit him in the head.  Hard.
        "What the hell are *you* getting so worked up over, you 
little tramp!  Don't tell me you were saving yourself, cause it 
won't get any better than me, babe!"  He turned from the doorway 
and stepped right up to Marie.  He had at least a three-inch size 
advantage, but Hitomi knew better -- she knew the power she had.
        "Listen up, you moron!  I gave you a goddamn order and I want 
you to follow it, got it?  Get the hell out before I kick your 
ass!"  Hitomi wished her vocabulary of swear words was a little 
larger, but even those she knew she had to smuggle in through 
memories -- Hiroshi didn't include any in Marie's vocabulary.
        "A threat?"  Tanaka laughed.  "Don't go threatening me just 
because you're your brother's nursemaid.  You're lucky I felt 
sorry for you.  If I hadn't decided you needed it, you'd be 
somewhere with that loser brother of yours, and I'd be in bed with 
Mari!"  Tanaka turned to open the front door.
        "Maybe I can still salvage the night.  Have fun with your 
brother, babe.  I'm off to fry a real fish."
        Tanaka's world spun and he was facing her.  Her face was 
twisted, unnatural.  Her moth was open as if to say something in 
retaliation, but no words came out.  There was only silence, then 
a blinding white light.  His eyes were shut, and he was coughing.
        Tanaka never figured a girl could punch so hard.  Not even 
Mari punched him that hard.  Not even that time he tried...
        "Oh God, I'm gonna die..."  It was as if his insides were 
imploding.  He knew he had to be bleeding internally.  knew she 
wouldn't call the emergency crew.  He'd die slowly from internal 
bleeding.  "You're going to (cough, cough) watch me die, aren't 
you.  Well, I hope (cough, hack) you (hack, sniffle) enjoy it."

                           *     *     *

        The rush of water and the muffled clapping of birds taking 
wing signaled the end of his journey.  The song had stopped; Mari 
had closed the box and walked towards the street lamp.  Through 
blurry eyes Hiroshi saw her shoulder rise and sink, again, again.
        "I'm sorry."  Hiroshi stood and walked up behind her.  "I 
didn't mean to make you cry."
        "It's okay.  Really.  I'm just... Thank you.  It's 
        Hiroshi's lost vision crept back to the fore.  "I... I gotta 
go.  Back to the house.  I'm not sure if I trust Tanaka enough to 
*just* take Marie home, you know?"  He chuckled to himself, and 
thought about putting his hand on her shoulder.  "I'll be right 
back, okay?"  Hiroshi patted Mari's shoulder lightly and was off.  
He was halfway down the stairs before Mari turned to look.  
Curiosity nudged at her shoulders.  He was probably right about 
        [That jerk's probably trying something perverted.]  Marie 
shivered as a gust laid a frigid mist on her shoulders.  The night 
was cooling down a little, and it was already too dark to be alone 
in a park.  She decided to meet him back at the house.
        [It'll probably take the poor guy forever to get rid of 
Tanaka.  I might as well wait inside and watch the fun.]  She 
smiled, and raised the music-box to her chest.  Slowly, lightly, 
she descended the stairs, humming the music-box's melody.

                           *    *     *

Saturday, 10:34 PM.

        Hiroshi's mind was not a very quiet place at the moment.  A 
million questions popped up and answered themselves with short, 
one word responses like "Yes," or "Why?"  As many 'what-if' 
scenarios cropped up, playing in Hiroshi's mind a like a multiplex 
of demented would-be memories and constructions.  Some were 
fantasies, other more realistic, still other just plain paranoid.
        Hitomi's face passed by his subconscious vision a number of 
times.  [Such a long time ago.  I completely forgot about that 
summer.]  Hiroshi felt guilty about his lack of memory; he 
wondered if maybe there was a reason he hadn't remembered until 
        The melody filled his ears -- simple, light, impressive, just 
like he asked Marie.  [How did Marie know it?]  Hiroshi knew the 
answer, but it begged another question.
        "How did Hitomi crop up in Marie's personality?"  Hiroshi 
heard a series of angry yells coming from his house, and he 
quickened pace to a sprint until he tripped on a rock.  Amazingly, 
he recovered before he fell completely, but his hands were scuffed 
quite a bit.  He shook them as he took the stairs to his house two 
at a time.

        Hiroshi opened the unlocked door to find Tanaka doubled over 
a few feet inside the door, and Marie standing over him a few more 
feet inside, laughing cruelly.  "Be glad I pulled my punch," she 
was saying as he walked in.
        "Hitomi!"  Marie looked up; she had recognized the name.  
"Leave Tanaka alone!"  He tried to sound as authoritative as 
        Marie's eyes welled with tears for a long moment, and then 
she ran to him, and hugged him.  "Hiroshi?  You said my name, 
Hiroshi.  It's been so long.  So very long."  She grabbed his hand 
and drug him into the living room.  "We have so much to catch up 
on!  I have to tell how I was able to..."
        "No.  This is wrong, Hitomi.  I..."
        Hitomi was having none of Hiroshi's arguments.  She leaned 
up, and placed her mouth to his, gently at first, but her kiss 
grew in strength until she was filling it with such passion that 
the room seemed to darken.
        "Hitomi?  Why'd he call you."  Tanaka shuffled into the 
living room and stood up.  "Oh.  My.  God."
        [I have to stop this.  It isn't right.  But...]  Hiroshi's 
mind was racing.  The room was spinning.  He wondered if the 
alcohol was still affecting him, or if it was just the notion of 
kissing Hitomi again.
        "No, this isn't right."  Hiroshi pushed the girl away.  She 
was standing on her tip-toes, and the force of his unexpected push 
sent her stumbling backwards before she could properly react.  
With a clank, she fell on her butt.
        Something rattled inside her, and fell to the floor.  It was 
her hard drive.  Interlocks tripped, and she went limp from a 
forced shutdown.
        "What the?"  Tanaka kneeled over the fallen android.  "She's 
a... a..."
        "Go ahead Tanaka, say it."
        "A robot?"
        No, not a robot, you dolt!  An android.  An incredibly 
sophisticated cybernetic creation of my own design and 
implementation!"  Hiroshi gathered himself.  "Sorry, I get carried 
away sometimes."  The young man sighed and picked up the loose 
drive.  "Pick her up by the arms.  We need to get her to my 
        "Laboratory?  You mean like in Frankenstein?"
        "Yeah, like Frankenstein, only with more stuff."  He tried 
grinning as hefted Marie's legs.
        Once downstairs, they laid her out on the workbench.
        "She looks like she's sleeping."
        "She is, sort of."  Hiroshi plugged the hard drive back into 
the android.  "I'm powering her back up, but keeping her in a 
perpetual 'sleep' mode."
        "Wow.  Will she dream?"
        "Probably."  Hiroshi typed furiously at the keyboard of his 
        Tanaka's eyes finally adjusted to the darkness.  He breathed 
an "oh wow" as he took in the room's details.  Innumerable 
machines blinked and beeped and hummed as Hiroshi typed on his 
workstation.  "Did you build all of this equipment?  Like in 'This 
Island Earth'?"
        "Wha?  No, of course not."
        "You mean you can *buy* all this equipment?"
        "If you have the right connections.  I've been gathering 
these machines since I was 10, so it's taken me a while to get a 
hold of all these machines."
        "Can they fix Marie?"
        "That, I don't know.  You see, an awful lot of Marie is 
experimental technology, and all the software is original.  So 
most of these machines are pretty much useless on her."  Hiroshi 
sighed.  "I should have looked at her sooner.  This is all my 
        "It is?"
        "Yes, it's my fault."  Hiroshi growled the words reluctantly.
        "Can you fix her?"  Both Hiroshi and Tanaka looked over at 
the doorway.  Mari was standing, music-box in hand, looking more 
concerned than either of them had ever seen her.
        "I... I don't know."  Hiroshi sighed.  "Why don't you two go 
upstairs.  There's not much either of you can do down here."
        "Okay.  Tanaka, shall we?"  Mari waited for Tanaka to join 
her, which he did after a long moment of consideration.  The pair 
climbed the stairs.  "If you need anything, we'll be in the living 
room, okay?" 
        "You don't have to stay."
        "We know."

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Well, that was a bit of a trip to write.  I don't know what to say 
about this episode in general -- it's transitional.  The weird 
stuff is coming (mwahahahaha!).  Okay, before I get too carried 
away, let me say a few words on the references:

The Poem:  I took it verbatim from "The Anthology of Japanese 
Literature", edited by Donald Keene.  The poem is found on page 
94.  I thought it fitting in a strange sort of way.

Kenji Asato and Yoshiko:  Why were they there?  I wanted to 
experiment a little with storytelling devices.  The classic 
"character not involved with our characters" device is cool, and 
in all truthfulness, Kenji caused a lot of the events in this 
episode to take place by getting Hiroshi a little drunker than he 
probably should have.  Also, the two characters and their 
relationship is a bit of a tribute to the main characters from 
"The Remains of the Day."  I thought it was fun to try something 
like that, so I did.  Hey, it's my story... ^_^

"Like in 'This Island Earth'?":  "This Island Earth" is now 
infamously known as the subject of the MST3K Movie.  I personally 
thought it was a pretty classic sci-fi.  However, that's beside 
the point.  In the movie, the protagonist receives a kit of an 
alien communicator from a mysterious corporation.  He was one of 
very few humans smart enough to construct it properly.


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