Read or Die: Choices
There was a moment there on the Ijin rocket, after all the clones had been defeated but they were hurtling into space, that Nancy Mukahari came to a startling revelation. Standing there with Yomiko Readman, the young woman ready to throw them both out of the rocket to the tender mercies of a paper parachute, she knew she was being selfish.
She had two choices that she could make... Nancy could hold on to Yomiko's hand and trust herself to the other woman's remarkable powers over paper, or phase free and let her go. Staying with Yomiko would put her in danger, straining the makeshift device but it would be even more selfish to let go... and leave Yomiko to bear the guilt and pain of loss.
"Nancy-san?" Yomiko asked her, the school teacher's hand resting on the door's lever.
"Let’s go," Nancy flashed a smile, the black leather clad young woman squeezing Yomiko's hand comfortingly.
Yomiko forced the door open, winds buffeting them both, and then together they threw themselves out into the void. Nancy felt arms wrap around her gently and turned to meet those sparking eyes, the squarish glasses giving her an almost childlike air. "Are you all right, Nancy?" Yomiko asked as they descended the chute opening and giving them both a jerk.
"I am now," Nancy confessed, feeling safe for the first time in a long time....
"Agent Paper," Nancy was near enough to hear the message over the headset that Yomiko wore, "report."
"The rocket and the Ijin have been destroyed," Yomiko said, opening her mouth to add the news of Nancy's survival when the other woman gestured her to silence.
"Well done Agent Paper," Joker sounded jubilant, and they could hear celebration in the control room behind him, "we'll have a plane there soon to pick you up."
"Thank you, sir," Yomiko said softly, slowly falling towards what was left of the central Ijin launch platform. Once Joker signed off she frowned at Nancy, "Why didn't you want me to tell him you're all right?"
They settled on the platform with a thump, the somewhat faster reflexes of Nancy helping Yomiko regain her feet. "You all right?" Nancy asked gently, holding her arm.
"I'm fine," Yomiko waved that off then looked at Nancy and repeated, "why?"
"I joined the British Library under false pretences," Nancy said gently, "you know that as well as anyone. I'll be up on charges, if not worse."
"But it was the Ijin who made you...." Yomiko started.
Nancy reached out, gently shushing her with a finger placed to her lips. "It's not that simple, Yomiko," she said to her softly. With a sudden smile Nancy added, "But whatever happens, I don't intend to be parted from you."
Twin circles of red appeared on Yomiko's cheeks, "I'm so glad."
Nancy hesitated, then the young woman moved to quickly press her lips to Yomiko's a firm if short lived kiss. Leaving a slightly breathless Yomiko standing there stunned she said, "I'll meet you back in Japan." With that she was off, jogging across the metal platform at a brisk pace, soon disappearing into the maze of pipes that were part of the launch structure.
The blonde, burly man walked over with a thoughtful expression on his face, his rifle safely slung over his shoulder. "Is that who I think it is?" Drake Anderson asked, looking off towards where Nancy had disappeared.
"She turned against the Ijin," Yomiko said softly, tears swimming in her eyes, "nearly died trying to save me."
Drake studied her for a moment, then with surprising gentleness reached out to gently wipe a tear away. "Fair enough," he nodded.
"Drake, don't tell the Library that Nancy's alive," Yomiko asked softly. He opened his mouth to say something and she looked at him with those big brown eyes, "Please?"
"Joker will find out eventually," Drake reminded her, giving in without actually admitting it. He had a reputation for being hard boiled to preserve, after all.
"But not today," Yomiko smiled in triumph, the sound of an approaching airplane growing louder all the time.
The VTOL plane touched down on the platform and picked the two of them up, carrying them off into the blue sky. Yomiko took a window seat and peered back at the platform, silently praying that she and Nancy would see each other soon. It was because of her looking back that Yomiko saw the mini-jet launch from somewhere on the platform, soaring off in another direction.
"Good luck, Nancy-san," Yomiko murmured.
It took several weeks before the aftermath of the whole Ijin investigation could be put to rest, but eventually Yomiko's life settled into its normal rhythm once again. She continued to teach as well as taking on assignments for the Library, all while perusing her greatest passion, books. And always she waited and hoped to see a certain person...
The days leading up to Halloween that year were busy ones, with two major book authentications along with a retrieval operation, and a very tired Yomiko found herself walking the streets towards her home, dodging witches, goblins and ghouls. 'I hope Nenene had fun tonight,' she thought fondly of her favorite author, who had also become a good friend over the years.
Nearing the old brownstone she unlocked the front door, Yomiko smiling happily as the scent of books washed over her. Pulling her usual suitcase behind her she headed in, dodging the piles of books that lined the halls with long practice, easily making her way upstairs. Weaving through the stacks she made her way into her suite... only to stop in surprise.
Nancy lay there fast asleep on the couch amid all the books, her black hair a little long as it curled up against her face. She wore casual clothes, jeans and a sweater, and her boots sat by the door leading to the roof. A soft snore kept time to her breathing, and she looked oddly adorable, laying there so deeply asleep.
"Nancy?" Yomiko said softly.
Nancy opened her eyes sleepily then blinked, before breaking into a warm smile. "Yomiko," she murmured, sitting up rather sheepishly. "I was going to wait for you outside," she said apologetically, "but I wasn't sure if you wanted..."
"I'm so happy to see you," Yomiko practically bowled Nancy over with the force of her hug, both sitting there on the couch in a loose embrace. Her face against the side of Nancy’s neck Yomiko murmured, "I thought you'd be back ages ago."
"I'm sorry," unconsciously Nancy stroked Yomiko's hair, feeling the woman relax against her, "I had to go to Europe for awhile."
"Europe?" Yomiko blinked.
"I was investigating the Ijin," Nancy explained, "trying to find out more about my origins." Yomiko heard the stress in Nancy's voice and pulled back a bit to look at her with gentle concern. "I didn't fid much," Nancy's voice showed her frustration, "the cloning lab I came out of was destroyed, as were any other bases I knew about."
"I'm sorry," Yomiko reached out to lay her hand comfortingly over Nancy's, and then let it linger. "What are you going to do now?" she asked hopefully.
Nancy let here eyes meet Yomiko's, "I've got a job here in Tokyo, even rented a suite." She hesitated, "I'd like..."
"Yes?" Yomiko asked softly, meeting her eyes with a gentle caring.
Nancy gave up on words and leaned forward, pressing her lips to Yomiko's in a kiss. Yomiko's eyes widened, then without thinking about it she pulled Nancy closer, the kiss lasting. Finally, reluctantly, they pulled back, both a little breathless.
"I love you," Nancy confessed, "I have for a long time." She looked down, shame tingeing her voice, "Even when I betrayed you to the Ijin, it was in the hope of saving your life."
"I couldn't believe you were one of them," Yomiko murmured, eyes dark with remembered pain, "and I thought I was going to die when your clone tried to kill you."
"I'm sorry..." Nancy began, but Yomiko shushed her.
"And I thought I was going to die from happiness when you came to save me," Yomiko finished. Firmly she said, "I love you, too, Nancy-san."
"It's not going to be easy," Nancy cautioned, "Joker didn't publicize my betrayal but the Library will still be after me. I'll have to avoid them like the plague...."
"It'll be all right," Yomiko said confidently, "as long as we're together." And with that she bent forward to kiss Nancy again.
Author's Notes: VTOL is short for Vertical Take Off and Landing. In a way this is the ending I'd have preferred to see for Read or Die, with the two of them riding off into the sunset together.