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 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: 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
Koishiki hito ni
Aimatsu na
Samete no nochi wa
Dreams, listen, my dreams!
Do not bring me together
With the man I love--
When once I have awakened
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, Hiroshi downed his beverage.
      "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 of 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 move.
      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 eyes.
      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 it."
      "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 any.
      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 possible.
      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 mouth 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 beautiful."
      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 Tanaka.
      That jerk's probably trying something perverted. Mari 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 now.
      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 possible.
      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."
      "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 workstation.
      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 fault."
      "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."

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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