Music-Box Angel 2... C&C is welcomed with open arms! I didn't put this at the top of my first episode, and, as can be expected, I didn't get much C&C. So, to the top it goes! 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 in italics. 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: Yesterday morning, Marie began hearing a voice in her head. At first it was antagonistic, then it disappeared altogether. That afternoon, Hiroshi got a new progressive rock CD, and, after playing the music for Mari, decided that music may be the way to bridge the gap of interests they have. Struck with a plan, he decided to make a music box with the ultimate song to woo Mari and give them something beautiful in common. That evening, Marie had a dream and met her mental companion, a 12-year old girl named Hitomi, who claims to have had a relationship with Hiroshi long ago...

B O K U   N O   M A R I E

Music-Box Angel

Episode Two: Mind Drive

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.

Saturday Morning.

      Marie sat up exactly at six, fumbled a moment with her slippers, then walked mechanically to the kitchen. As she began preparing breakfast for Hiroshi, she thought about Hitomi, and what she could be. If she was just a renegade routine, a bit of bad data manifesting itself throughout her systems, then why did she have such a history, and such a coherent one?
      Marie eventually decided that this Hitomi couldn't be a bug in the traditional sense. She wasn't a random logical error or syntax mistake. Hitomi had to be pre-programmed.
      But why would Hiroshi put her in my system? Marie found she could again think without speaking; Hitomi's presence in Marie's mind was barely there, a cool breathing of awareness, smooth like a sleeping child. As long as Hitomi slept, Marie had full control of her faculties.
      And when...?
      Before she knew it, she had prepared breakfast, but it wasn't what she had intended on making. At least, she didn't think it was.
      I must not be getting enough power, she mused. I just hope I made this right. Marie sighed, then grinned impishly. Time to wake the sleeping giant.
      Marie began taking fiendish delight in waking Hiroshi up only days after she realized it was more fun than just about any other chore she had around the house. She practiced her creativity and sense of humor on him each morning. Some methods of waking him up were simple, even elegant in their effectiveness. Others dwelled happily in the overtly complex and dramatic. Today, she decided for a more direct approach. The classic early wake-up.
      "Good morning!" Marie drug the still snoring Hiroshi from his bed and began walking to the kitchen.
      "Wha... what do you think you're doing?" Hiroshi struggled to focus his eyes on his wristwatch.
      "Time for breakfast!"
      "Six in the morning?!?" Hiroshi lunged back and grabbed his door frame with one hand. "It's six in the morning! On a Saturday! It's time for six more hours of sleep! Now, let go, before I UV your EPROM's!"
      Marie kept walking as Hiroshi's grip dwindled to a mere pinkie of its former hand. "No, it's time for breakfast. I made your favorite! At least, I think I did..." Marie felt her load lighten, and turned to see the final moments of Hiroshi's mad scramble back to his bed.
      "What's the matter?" Marie leaned against the door frame, a nervous grin playing on her face. "Don't you like my cooking?"
      "It's fine, really. I just didn't get to bed until late." Hiroshi rolled over and tried to wish her someplace else.
      "Like you can talk. I didn't sleep at all last night." Marie turned towards the kitchen. "Here, I'll bring it to you. You'll love it!"
      "You were up all night? But I saw you sleeping." Hiroshi sat up as Marie entered the room, tray in hand.
      "Well now. I haven't had this in a while. Thanks!" Hiroshi smiled and dove into his meal with an enthusiasm borne of sheer male hunger.
      "This is... really good... You should try making this more often." Hiroshi complimented between bites.
      "Thanks. Though, I don't really remember how to make it."
      "What do you mean?"
      "I don't remember ever making it before, or learning how to make it, or making it, or anything." The more Marie thought about it, the more it scared her.
      "Really. That sounds pretty serious." After he finished off the last of his breakfast, he handed the tray to Marie. "Well, since you have some other things I need to check out, let's go down and check out what's wrong with you."
      "Wrong?" Marie followed Hiroshi out of the room, mulling the conversation over in her mind. But then it disappeared.
      "Where are we going?"
      "To the lab." Hiroshi stopped suddenly. "This is really serious, isn't it?"
      "What is?"
      "Marie?" Worry soaked Hiroshi's voice.
      "Is that my name?"
      "Oh crap!" Hiroshi turned to see Marie standing, smiling pleasantly. He reached around and, as she protested, flipped her switch off.
      "What's wrong with you?" Hiroshi hefted his sister under an arm and half carried, half dragged her to his workshop. Clearing his workbench with his free arm, he gingerly set Marie down on it and stripped her. Once her main chest panel was accessible, he connected her to his workstation, and waited for her to reboot. It was going to take a while.
      It was well after ten in the morning before the workstation's status program beeped and produced:
/MarieOS kernel .......... activated/
/MarieOS libraries ....... not activated -- libraries 002, 007, 102 missing. Please reinstall from master copy/
      Hiroshi whapped the computer monitor. "That can't be right! They're set in ROM. They can't just disappear." He began typing furiously, communicating with the status program at a speed even he thought impossible.
      After a number of minutes and failed leads, the status program produced a series of messages that caused Hiroshi to wince in pain.
      "No wonder!" Hiroshi produced a mini-recorder from a pile of miscellaneous junk on the computer desk and hit 'record.'
      "Saturday, April 17th, 10:52 AM. Marie has shut down, unable to properly access her mind drives. Drive A is full and Drive B is inaccessible. Apparently, she dumped her entire OS kernel into the Drive A, and was running from that, which left no room for her short-term memory. What's worse, Drive B holds most of her collected knowledge base, and it's completely messed up. I'm going to clear Drive A, then remove Drive B and run a low-level diagnostic on it. Maybe I can salvage some of the temp files and reconstruct some of the memory files."
      Hiroshi cursed himself for not having the money to buy another FlashRAM array. As it was, Marie cost more than was really his to spend, especially once he factored in college loans. He knew she was running on borrowed time, but he had hoped she would last until summer vacation. He could have backed her up then. Hiroshi smiled darkly and asked the ceiling, "This is a karma thing, right?"
      The ceiling responded; the doorbell rang. Hiroshi's mind raced through the logical path: lost CD; tennis club; Mari or Tanaka; not good; must hide; can't hide, dummy!; must answer; not dressed!! The doorbell rang again. Hiroshi ran upstairs, accidentally hitting the "auto-open" button next to the door before stopping on the Persian rug, realizing what he had done.
      Mari saw Hiroshi slide by in his pajamas, one leg firmly on a Persian rug, one waving with his arms as he disappeared to her left. She stifled a giggle as she heard a muffled crash, followed closely by the 'whirrr' of a vacuum cleaner, a number of boxes falling, a few colorful metaphors, and a choked scream. A number of quick stomps preceded Hiroshi as he appeared, stiffly walking to meet her.
      "Please enter!! Welcome to my humble home!! What brings you here?!?" Hiroshi's hair was sticking straight out on one side, and a number of dust bunnies hung from the ends. The pastel pink shirt he wore was on backwards, and too small for him. His pants, also pink, seemed a few sizes too small; when Hiroshi tried to put his hand from his pocket to seem relaxed, it got stuck, and he had to struggle for a few seconds to yank it out.
      Mari couldn't stifle her laughter anymore. Even though she covered her face with her hands, she couldn't keep her laughter quiet. With tears in her eyes and bent over in a guffaw, she apologized profusely.
      "I'm. (HAHHAHH!) Sorry. (hahahaha) I'm s-(hahah) I'm s- (hahaha) I'm so- (hehehe) I'm soooo sorry. (hahaheheha) Are you okay?" Mari wiped the tears from her eyes and sighed in mirth.
      As she stepped towards Hiroshi to wipe the dust bunnies from his hair, Hiroshi didn't move, or seem embarrassed. Strangely enough, he didn't seem to be moving at all. Mari's laughing spell disappeared when she became aware of the subtle shaking of Hiroshi's body. He stood, vibrating, but not making any other move.
      Mari pulled her hand back to her chest. She looked down at the ground, ashamed at her lack of consideration.
      "I... I'm..." Why can't I say it? The sound of Hiroshi's CD case rattling in her hand made Mari aware of her own trembling. She bowed and extended her hands, the CD case firmly in their shared grasp.
      "You left your CD in the tennis club office yesterday. I came to return it. Please accept my apology." Mari's voice cracked, and she almost didn't finish the sentence, but something inside reminded her that the crush was his, not hers. Mari wasn't sure she entirely agreed anymore.
      "I listened to it last night. But I was very careful with it." Mari found herself stammering like Hiroshi did yesterday. She closed her mouth before she could do any more verbal damage.
      Something inside Hiroshi clicked. For a moment, everything was okay. Better than okay. Marie's crash was bad, but there wasn't much he could do but hit the start button and wait for a few hours while the diagnostic program hopefully worked. And Mari had listened to the album. Marie listened to the album!
      "All of it?" Hiroshi had to know.
      Mari nodded, still staring at her feet. Hiroshi stepped forward and lifted the CD from her hands. Marie looked up, and smiled, but not because of Hiroshi's still ridiculous state. She couldn't pinpoint when she felt it or what it was, but it wasn't unpleasant.
      "May I come in?" Why spoil the moment? Mari grinned inwardly. Maybe I can have an intelligent conversation with him now that he isn't completely terrified of being alone near me.
      Everything that was right in Hiroshi's world disappeared, instantly, and brutally. Hiroshi's brain, ever abreast of the situation, told his heart that there just wasn't enough oxygen getting to the brain; Mari had asked to come in, implying an extended visit. Hiroshi's brain recoiled from the new situation.
      "Ex... tend... ed... vissssure!! Please wait comfortably in the living room!! I will... return!! Momentarily!!" Hiroshi sprinted to his room and tried to find anything clean and his size. He found a bunch of gray stuff in the corner (which turned out to be a plain tee-shirt and a pair of cargo shorts), and decided they would have to do.
      Mari had just taken a seat on the plush couch when Hiroshi stomped down the staircase. He avoided her gaze as he flopped into the leather armchair across from her spot on the couch, and continued to look elsewhere as he spoke.
      "Did you like it?"
      "Like what? Oh, the CD." Mari's hesitation seemed like a month. "Well, some tracks were better than others, but on the whole..."
      "They recorded it in only a week." The enthusiasm Hiroshi had when he last expounded on the album was gone, replaced by what Hiroshi would have described as an 'ultra-cool blase'. He didn't realize that Mari was only receiving the 'ultra' and 'blase' parts of his behavior.
      "Did you like it?" Mari tried looking Hiroshi in the eye, but every time he looked her way, he quickly looked another.
      "Well, like you said, some tracks are better than others." Hiroshi knew he was doing it wrong. He could feel it in his bones. But he couldn't do a thing about it. He knew that if he tried to be himself, things would fall farther than normal. He found himself wondering what Tanaka would do when she asked another question.
      "Where's Marie?"
      "She's out shopping or something. I don't like to keep tabs."
      "I see." Mari blinked and decided to give it one more try. "So, have you heard the new Miyamura Yuko album?"

*       *       *

      Tanaka always prided himself on his timing. As a tennis player and his generation's Casanova, he knew timing was essential. He also prided himself on his memory, though at times, he cursed it. Especially moments like yesterday afternoon.
      As he pulled out of his driveway, he knew exactly where he needed to go. Mari was usually punctual, and would want to deliver Hiroshi's CD to him first thing.
      Tanaka replayed yesterday's conversation; he couldn't let it rest in his mind quite yet.

      "What are you trying to do to the poor kid?" Mari had made sure she was a good ten feet from the tennis club door, and was keeping her voice down. It didn't lose its furious tone, though.
      "What do you mean?" Luv-Fifteen.

      Smooth, Tanaka. Real smooth. Tanaka barely made it through a yellow light.

      "You know exactly what I mean." Marie turned and walked seven paces forward, to the edge of the stairs. She took one half-step down, then back up. "I'm walking home."
      "What are you getting so worked up about? Look, Mari," he walked to Mari and touched her shoulder. Luv-Thirty.

      Too soon. She needed space. Tanaka turned left onto Hiroshi's street, cutting off a subcompact car in the leftmost lane.

      "You can't walk home -- it's like three miles!"
      "You're not driving me home today. Not until you apologize to Hiroshi for what you said."
      "What? I didn't say anything!" Tanaka knew he was messing up hard-core, but he couldn't stop.
      "I heard you call him a geek."
      "You heard that?" Luv-Forty.

      Tanaka almost missed Hiroshi's house altogether. He braked hard and managed to stop a few feet past the stone staircase that led to Hiroshi's house.

      "Yes I heard it. And I saw the looks you were giving him. Until you apologize, I'm not hanging out with you any more. I'm not even going..." Mari turned around and gave Tanaka a look he hadn't seen since the tenth grade. It was like she was enjoying her power over him. "I'm not even going to speak to you until you apologize to him." Game.
      "What? You can't be serious! C'mon, Mari, lemme take you home." But Mari was already halfway down the stairs. Tanaka followed at a distance, making sure to avoid her ever growing 'space' that he wasn't to enter.

      But she's right, Tanaka mused. She does have power. He stepped out of the car, and prepared his apology.
      "Hiroshi. I'm sorry for what I said yesterday. I'd like to make it up to you if possible. Maybe you me and Mari can go out for ice cream?" Tanaka shook his head as he started up the steps. "Perhaps you, Mari and I can go out for coffee?" Much better.
      As Tanaka stepped to the doorway, he felt himself ready. "With luck," he smiled. "Mari's still here, and I can apologize in front of her. That'd be perfect."
      The double doors burst open, and Mari ran from the entrance hall directly into Tanaka's arms. Tanaka looked first at Mari, then accusingly at Hiroshi, who stood, wooden and dumbfounded, a few feet inside the house.
      "What'd you do to her?" Tanaka's mind raced with thoughts that would have made Mari slap him silly. "You didn't..."
      Mari slapped Tanaka. "And I'm still not talking to you!" She pushed herself from Tanaka's arms and stormed from the property. Tanaka looked at Hiroshi, who looked at him with the same confused look as Tanaka had.
      "What'd you do to her?" Both spoke simultaneously. Tanaka replied first. "It's a long story. Oh, I almost forgot." Tanaka turned and called to the upset girl walking down the stairs. "Mari! Wait! Just a moment!"
      Marie didn't even turn around. "I'm not riding home with you!" Hiroshi smiled inwardly as he listened intently.
      "That's okay! I'm here to... to apologize to Hiroshi!" Hiroshi started at the words, and stiffened when Tanaka turned back to Hiroshi. Tanaka's eyes looked sincere, but Hiroshi was still a little wary.
      "Look, Hiroshi," Hiroshi noted that Tanaka wasn't yelling. He looked over Tanaka's shoulder and saw that Mari was standing three steps from the bottom, watching them.
      "You're doing this because Mari's angry, right?"
      "Nonono! Well..." Tanaka chuckled nervously. "But I am sorry. Sincerely. I mean it, pal. I was a... jerk yesterday. I stepped over the line. Do ya forgive me?"
      Hiroshi grinned. "APOLOGY ACCEPTED!" Two old women across the street looked Hiroshi's way.
      Tanaka rubbed his neck and chuckled again. "Oookay, well then. Oh, where's Marie?" Tanaka stretched to get a look inside. Hiroshi's intake of breath made a high-pitched shriek.
      "She's... out shopping! Yeah, that's it, out shopping!" Hiroshi began pushing Tanaka away from the doorway.
      "Hey, Hiroshi, why don't we go out to coffee tonight? You me, and the girls, okay? You can apologize to Mari, cause it looks like you need to, and we'll all have a good time. Whaddya say?"
      "S-s-s-ure! Anything! For... a... pal! Hehehegoodbyenow!" Hiroshi successfully pushed Tanaka away from the doorway and far enough away to run inside and shut the door before Tanaka could get his eager head inside.
      "So I'll pick you guys up around seven?"
      "Okay! Bye now!"
      "heheh... What a..." Tanaka saw Mari still standing at the steps, smiling. "...guy."
      Marie nodded. "Good job. I didn't know you had it in you." She gave Tanaka a little jab in the ribs when he stepped up to her. She took two steps as he stood rubbing his ribs. "Now that you've apologized," she giggled. "I need a ride, okay?"

      Hiroshi caught his breath as Tanaka's car squealed away. "This is not good," he commented ruefully. "Why on Earth did I say yes?"
      Realization and determination fought their way back into Hiroshi. "Now I have to fix Marie and finish my Ultimate Gift! It's the only way to apologize to Mari." Hiroshi thought for a long while. "But if Marie doesn't show, Tanaka will get suspicious."

*       *       *

Saturday, 7:12 PM.

      Marie lay still as death on the worktable, her chest panel open. A number of wires flowed from her various ports to Hiroshi's workstation. Despite it's significant power, it was not working fast enough. Hiroshi tapped a finger on the side of the keyboard as the little stopwatch icon turned a forever circle, giving no hint as to when it would finish its low-level scan of Mind Drive B, the deceivingly miniature FlashRAM array.
      Hiroshi had tried a number of techniques to access Marie's knowledge base -- the most recent attempt involved booting his workstation up emulating MarieOS. It was doing the best it could, but speed wasn't its strong suit.
      The text window that the emulated MarieOS used for communication was empty; Hiroshi didn't dare hope to see anything fill that screen, but looked at it every few moments as he scanned each line of hexadecimal code that appeared in the scanning program's text window. He couldn't wait for any translation, not that he really needed. He knew what phrases he was looking for.
      "I should have paid more attention. When she said she was hearing voices, I should have known what was going on. I could have looked. It would have only taken a second or two." The drive finished scanning, and produced the message: /Bootable partition found. Mount?/
      "Here goes nothing." Hiroshi pressed the 'Y' key, and waited. Thirteen seconds passed as the computer hummed in compliance, the workstation desperately trying to emulate the horde of processors Marie housed in her brain.
      Slowly, but steadily, letters appeared in the 'Marie Communication' window. As each word appeared, Hiroshi grew more hopeful.
      /Hiroshi?/ She remembers my name!
      /Where am I?/ Hiroshi typed his response.
      /You are being emulated by my workstation. Are you okay?/
      After sixty agonizing seconds, the emulated Marie responded, /Yes. Why am I being emulated?/
      /Long story. Can you access your long-term knowledge base?/ Hiroshi closed his eyes, afraid of her response. He waited a good half-minute before opening them.
      Marie had written /Yes. Why?/
      /Can you copy the files you have accessed most in the last month to the Workstation Drive C?/ Hiroshi looked around for his glass of water, but when he found it, it was empty. He refilled it and returned to his chair.
      /There's not enough room for all of them./
      /Choose 9 GB worth./
      Again, the computer whirred as the workstation's hard drive slowly filled.
      /Why am I doing this?/
      /Long story. I'm going to shut you down now, and boot you up with the hard drive./
      /Will I be okay?/
      /You'll be fine./
      /Okay. Thank you for helping me./
      Hiroshi felt a tear fall on his palm as he powered everything down. He unplugged the hard drive from the workstation and connected it to Marie.
      At least I was able to get to her memories. Hiroshi knew that what he had was no solution, but the problem wasn't getting any worse.
      Hiroshi managed to fit the hard drive, which was much larger than both FlashRAM arrays, in amongst the wires, and was able to close the door most of the way, but it wouldn't latch. Hiroshi did, however, find his roll of duct tape, and he ran the roll around her chest a few times to secure the door. He turned on the power switch and went upstairs to change into something more appropriate for a restaurant.
      "I hope that she doesn't dump her ROM into that hard drive, or else there'll be real trouble." Hiroshi searched for his good shirt. "But, otherwise, if she isn't stressed too much between activities, she'll do okay." Hiroshi found his shirt and proceeded to button. "I just have to give her time to load the right files." Hiroshi re-buttoned his good shirt so the holes matched the buttons.
      After struggling with his pants, socks, shoes and the unfamiliar territory of the tie and jacket, he descended downstairs, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.
      "She should be able to talk at least, and walk. That's all inboard now. But other activities..." Marie was standing at the entrance to the workshop, smiling sweetly, but, wearing only the strips of duct tape.
      Hiroshi sniffled a small stream of blood before he asked, "Marie?"
      "Hello, Hiroshi." A long pause. "I seem to be running a little slow. Why?"
      "I had to transfer your knowledge base to hard drive because Mind Drive B isn't working. I also replaced your ROM's with the old ones from before the last upgrade, but it still couldn't access Drive B." Hiroshi looked away ashamedly. "The only reason you're awake in this sad shape is because you have to come with me to coffee tonight. Mari and Tanaka are worried about you, and I'm out of excuses."
      Another pause. "I see. It's okay, I understand. But how are you going to explain my pauses?" Marie's voice was worried.
      "I'm not. You're going to dump your conversation libraries and talk up a storm while you wait for the right files to load. I'll try to keep the conversation light. Oh no!" Hiroshi ran past Marie downstairs, and returned with a small silver box and a smaller black box. "I need a song for the music box. Marie, do you remember how music works?"
      Marie tried out her conversation technique as she looked for the file on the drive. "Lemme see... Well that all depends, I suppose. What type of music?"
      "Any type, just hurry! It's almost eight!" Hiroshi found the end of the duct tape and ran three quick circles around her. She screamed and hugged herself around the stripped skin.
      "I'm so sorry! I need to get in here!" He yanked a cable from Marie's innards, and connected it to the black box.
      "It's okay." Marie paused, then wiped a tear from her eye. "This is for Mari, right?"
      "One thing at a time. Do you know how to write music?"
      "I've never tried before, but I think I can. What kind of music?"
      "Something sweet. It's for a music-box." Hiroshi started upstairs, turned, and added, "Oh, and keep the instrumentation light. One instrument, maybe two." Marie closed her eyes and began to work.
      Hiroshi tapped her on the shoulder. "But make sure it's impressive."
      Marie nodded and returned to work.
      Another tap at Marie's shoulder. "But not too complex."
      Marie sighed. "Okay. Impressive, not too complex, et cetera, et cetera."
      Marie closed her eyes again and resumed her work. It took quite a few minutes, and Hiroshi paced the workshop waiting for her. He was about to tell her to forget it when she spoke.
      "I think Mari will like this song." Marie sounded unusually calm as she opened her eyes.
      "Great!" Hiroshi yanked the box from the cord and stuffed it in the small silver box. After some struggle, he managed to attach the mirror on top of the box, thus completing the gift.
      "Aren't you going to listen to it?"
      "No time. Gotta get ready."
      "How about some nice clothes?" Marie looked down at her naked body and suddenly became very self-conscious.
      "Say, how did you know it was for Mari?"
      "Just a guess." Marie smiled. "Are you going to confess to her tonight?"
      "No. I'm apologizing."
      "Oh, for what? What happened? Did you and Mari talk? What did you do? It must have been a fight or something. Doesn't it figure though, all the good stuff happens while I'm gone."
      "Well, you seem to be doing okay for conversation. Can you walk and talk at the same time?"
      Marie took a tentative step while saying, "I'm not sure. I guess I can try. I guess so!"
      "Good. You try walking up the stairs some, and I'll get you some clothes. Tanaka will be here any second."
      Fate was with Hiroshi for the moment; Tanaka didn't show until after Marie was fully dressed in her best long skirt and blouse. It wasn't easy, but Hiroshi managed to help Marie into her clothes. As Tanaka honked his horn a second time, Marie faced Hiroshi in the closed doorway. She smiled gently and adjusted his tie.
      "You'll do fine tonight. Have you got the box?"
      "Got your keys?"
      "Did you remember deodorant?"
      Hiroshi paused, then nodded.
      "Wonderful." Marie frowned. "This won't do." She untied Hiroshi's tie and dropped it on the entry table. After unbuttoning the top button of his shirt, and a bit of adjusting, Marie stepped back and smiled, apparently proud of her work.
      "There!" She announced. "You look ready to win her over again." Marie didn't move. "Give me a second here to collect my thoughts, and we'll be off, okay! You're going to do great. Trust me. I know Mari. She'll love it. Especially since it's from you."
      "Of course 'really!'" Marie finally stepped beside Hiroshi and opened the door. "Now, take a deep breath. Here we go."

      Tanaka was about to give up on Marie and Hiroshi when the door opened. There she was, looking wonderful, stately, calmer than normal (even though she always seemed calm), smiling like a Venus.
      She descended the staircase delicately, almost floating down. At the bottom, she waited patiently while Hiroshi scrambled to open the back door for her. After a proper amount of time perfectly fit for a young woman learning the art of the debutante, she climbed in, smooth like a silken-clad doll...

      Mari jabbed Tanaka in the ribs, a little harder than before. "Stop staring, Tanaka," she mumbled. Coolly, she greeted Hiroshi.
      "How are you doing, Hiroshi?"
      Hiroshi flushed and meekly answered, "F-fine. And yourself?"
      "Oh, I'm still, how did you put it? 'Simple but Intriguing.'"
      Marie held her breath. After a moment, she looked at Hiroshi and whispered, "You called her that?"
      "No. Well, not exactly." Hiroshi returned the whisper. "It was a misunderstanding."
      "There was no misunderstanding." Mari remained icy.
      "Well then, shall we go to Cafe Pierrot?" Tanaka pulled out into the empty street.
      "That sounds fine. If it's not too repetitive for Hiroshi. We have been there once already."
      Hiroshi never had time to recover from his last flush; his cheeks flared anew. "That would be wonderful. I'd like that a lot." Hiroshi tried not to growl through his gritted teeth,
      This is going to be a very long night. Marie exhaled slowly.

I decided, after writing episode one and half of this episode, that I wasn't enjoying myself as much as I should be. So, after watching BNM for the umpteenth time to get my bearings in the Cute Zone, I started taking a slightly warmer approach. I'm not going completely UberWAF with the story, but I am trying to stay closer to the original manic-but-happy feel. It's lots more fun to write! ^_^

When I posted the first draft of the first episode, I mentioned that I thought mine was the first BNM fic publicly posted. I was corrected, and now I stand there. Chris Davies posted the first known Boku No Marie fanfic, "And Then ..." on August 31, 1998, five days before I posted mine. Huzzah for the pioneers of BNM fanfiction! ^_^

Continuity: Some of you have asked when the story takes place in relation to the anime. It takes place 9 months after episode 3 of the anime, in the springtime of the next year.

Technical aspects: The anime gave next to no specific info on what Marie had "under the hood." As a result, I'm forced to speculate on nearly everything. If the tech-talk sounds impossible, e-mail me with a more appropriate substitute and I'll take it under consideration, but on the whole, you'll just have to live with it. After all, it's only science fiction. ^_^

Miyamura Yuko: A J-Pop star, and voice-actress for Marie in the Boku no Marie anime.

"We have been there once already.": Just to jog your memory, part of Hiroshi and Mari's date in episode one of the anime was going to Cafe Pierrot for coffee.

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