Subject: [FFML] [SI] [Actual Chapter] Otaku Muyo 4
From: Tannim Murphy
Date: 1/31/2006, 7:48 PM
To: ffml@anifics.com

Yes.  My brain is no longer here.  Sorry I forgot to
attatch the file.

-Tannim Murphy

"Writers who take more time trying to spell than write are editors."  -Unknown

My Fics: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/126066/

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-- Attached file included as plaintext by Ecartis --
-- File: ota4.txt
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Otaku Muyo

(Because really, I shouldn't be doing this)

by Tannim Murphy

Disclaimer:  Characters here are used without permission of their
creators.

---

Chapter 4

---

"When's Belldandy coming home?"

The tired sigh heaved in response was loud and long.  "I don't know,
Skuld.  She said she'd be back sometime before the change."

Skuld pouted cutely.  It was hard for her to do anything NOT cute,
since she was at the age of nine.  Even when she got angry (now that
she thought about it, especially when she got angry) nobody would take
her seriously.

Just because she wouldn't pay attention to her teachers, they thought
she was a dunce.  Her classmates were boring.  Nobody would let her
near the really good technical stuff, and she could only draft so many
blueprints before she went crazy.  If she didn't have her sisters
around to play with, she'd have died from sheer boredom years ago.

The only family she really had besides mom was her sisters, and she
wasn't used to not having them around.  They'd always been there, and
now that Belldandy was gone... it was as if something was clenching
the inside of her chest.  She didn't like the feeling, and wanted it
to go away.

"But I want her back now-w-w...." whined Skuld.

Urd tossed the manga she was reading to the side in annoyance.  "Give
it a rest already!  I know!  She'll be back soon!  Be patient!  Jeez!"
The goddess stormed off in a huff.

Skuld frowned.  That hadn't gone according to plan.  Usually if she
whined enough her sisters would cave in.  Now she'd have to improvise.

---

Urd grumbled under her breath.  Even at the best of times, her temper
wasn't known for being the best, but she didn't usually blow up on her
little sister like that.  It's just that the brat's whining was
calling attention to the very thing she was trying to forget.

Belldandy had a boyfriend.  And she didn't.

Not only that, but she was now guaranteed a GOOD one.

FOREVER!

What kind of LUCK does a Goddess have to have to get a mortal to wish
THAT for her?

That thought brought Urd up short.  What if there was some sort of
reverse-wish system embedded in Yggdrasil that occasionally granted an
exceptionally good Goddesses' greatest hearts desire?  Belldandy was
one of the few people she knew that would definitely qualify for such
a thing, even if she was a bloodthirsty maniac sometimes; Urd supposed
the aggression had to go somewhere.

Still, she made a note to herself to try and behave more, and be nicer
to people.  You never know.

Anyways, now that she had been interrupted from reading the latest
Skysaber manga, she needed something else to occupy her.  She hadn't
been consciously thinking about it, but her feet took her to the open
access points to Yggdrasil for trainees.

A quick glance revealed no one else around, and she darted into the
room.  Everyone had been given this time off to wrap up affairs with
their friends and kin in the mortal world, since during the three days
the two would be effectively cut off.  Many of the younger deities
were out partying.  As a result, the area was deserted.

Urd eased herself into her familiar station, and booted up the heavily
modified point.  Many of the restrictions preventing some of the more
interesting functions had been removed, and several more were being
circumvented.  It was a patch job that Urd had been working on since
the begging of her school career, and she was proud of it.  Not only
did it allow a greater range of Yggdrasil's data base, she also could
access a direct viewing of the mortal plane.

Of course, she had spelled it so that anyone looking over her shoulder
would see her playing a game of minesweeper or something just as
harmless.  That was also a note of pride.

The goddess implemented those features now, and used them to locate
Belldandy.  Then she tweaked a few more things to get a visual at the
situation.  What she saw caused her to gasp in surprise.

"What is it big sister?"

Urd snapped her head back.  "What are you doing here, Skuld?" she
asked in surprise.

"I followed you of course," the young goddess replied in a
condescending manner.

Urd quickly looked back from the monitor, clearly torn.  She shrugged
slightly to herself and waved Skuld over.  "Well, hurry up and get
over here, something is happening to Belldandy."

Skuld looked concerned as she padded over and hopped up onto Urd's
lap.  Once sharing the same view space she saw what Urd had seen, and
it too, made her gasp.

"Is that--?"

Urd nodded.  "Yes.  I just hope that boy Tannim she's with..." she
trailed off, not really wanting to voice the thought.

"You'd better not let anything happen to Belldandy!" Skuld shouted
loudly at the monitor.

---

'Whatever happens, I had BETTER not let anything happen to Belldandy,'
thought Tannim.

Well, it wasn't the Pulp Fiction scene that he had feared.  The couple
slowly going through the lined-up patrons and taking their possessions
seemed moderately sane.  Aside from the initial outburst, Tannim had
noted several clues that indicated that had been an act.  She hadn't
continued to rant, except when to put on her 'game face' and scare the
customers.

The man was currently politely asking each person to deposit their
wallets as well as any jewelry into the pillow sack he had brought.
"Please, take off any rings, necklaces, earrings, diamond hairpins
and, let it be noted, we'll allow you to keep your hairpins devoid of
precious stones.  Yes, thank you, keep it up..." he continued in a
steady monotone that kept the patrons calm enough to do as he
requested.

The pistol he kept clenched in his right hand kept any ideas of
heroism firmly from anyone's mind.  The woman was currently
threatening the kitchen staff and employees, who were lined up on the
opposite side of the restaurant.  Her Uzi was held casually in their
direction, but no one made any move to oppose her.

Tannim and Belldandy were the last ones in line, Makoto having been
separated and placed with the rest of the kitchen staff.

Well, this was better than Tannim had expected, in all honesty.  A
simple robbery that would just deprive him of the few bills he had
left was preferable to, say, a youma attack.

The young man glanced over to Belldandy to see how she was holding up,
and saw she was clutching her left ear worriedly.

'Must be a nervous habit,' thought Tannim as he turned to look back at
the robbers.  A few seconds later another thought struck him and he
looked sharply back at her.  It was then that he realized Belldandy
was worriedly clutching at the golden earring that served as her
limiter.

Tannim had no idea what would happen if a new first-class Goddess had
her limiter taken off while on earth, but he was almost certain it
wouldn't be good.

'Great, now I've got to play the hero,' he thought morbidly.  'I am
going to die.  I'm going to die in an anime universe protecting
Belldandy.'  He mulled that thought over.  'Actually, that sounds like
a good way to go.'

"Belldandy, get behind me," Tannim ordered stoically as he positioned
himself between the upcoming criminal.  Wordlessly, Belldandy did as
asked.

Tannim internally quailed.  He had taken Aikido for a while, and had
learned a few disarming techniques, but this was NOT the time to test
rusty skills with new reflexes.  Not against a gun, with Belldandy on
the line.  It was up to his rusty acting abilities, and he mentally
cursed himself for always being a ham on stage.

"Thank you, thank you, don't worry, this'll all be over soon, thank
you," continued the robber down the line until he finally reached
Tannim.  The criminal jingled the sack slightly in expectation.

The young man shrugged, and pulled out the slim piece of leather he
called a wallet.  "Here you go.  As I'm a struggling college student
dining here on my parent's dime, there isn't much."  It was pointed,
flashy, and dramatic; Tannim prayed to Kami-sama that it would put the
robber off enough not to notice that--

"And?"

Damn.

"What?" asked Tannim obliviously.

"That's a very beautiful earring your lady-friend has there," the man
said as he nodded in her direction.  She shrank back against Tannim
under the gesture.  "I noticed it across the room, and I'm sure the
misses would love to have it."

Tannim shook his head.  "Sorry, not for sale, rent, or trade."

"You don't seem to be understanding the situation," the robber said as
he pointed the gun directly at Tannim's forehead, barrel inches away.

This was a sort of win slash lose situation for Tannim.  He mentally
cheered that the robber had made such an amateur mistake; he knew a
very quick and easy move to disarm him.  However, he now had to deal
with a gun pointed at his head.  Tannim was very nervous, and his eyes
were drawn to the gun barrel.

His eyes widened.  Then they darted over to the girl robber,
searching.  They found what they were looking for, and his teeth
clenched.  He began flexing his hands open and closed.  Then he began
to chuckle through his clenched teeth.

The robber looked confused at this point.  "Jeez, you had better not
have broken from the stress," he said peevishly.

Before the man could blink, Tannim performed the maneuver flawlessly.
It consisted of him simply spreading his legs so that his head got out
of the line of fire, while at the same time shooting the arms up to
push the gun away.  In another second the gun was snatched from the
surprised robber's fingertips.

Startling the rest of the room, the gun broke in half in Tannim's hand
as he clenched his newly-formed muscles in anger.  Bits of plastic
clattered to the floor.

"You BASTARD!  You PRICK!" growled Tannim in seething rage.  "You
tried to rob us with a couple of WATER GUNS?!"

The man gulped as he started to back away nervously.  Was that boy
starting to glow?

Lighting-fast, Tannim's fist shot out and impacted against the side of
the man's head; the blow sent the would-be robber to the ground,
unconscious.

Tannim sharply turned to the woman.  He began stomping towards her,
his face a mask of pure fury.

She began backing away hurriedly, nervously saying, "S-stop,
s-s-s-stay where you are!"  She weakly pointed the toy Uzi in Tannim's
direction.

The furious young man snatched the object out her hands and snapped it
in two.  The girl fell to the ground in surprise, horror evident on
her features.

Tannim raised a fist, and the woman cringed.  However, rather than
complete the motion, he pointed over towards the fallen man.  "Get
yourself over there and wait until the police arrive, or so BELL help
me I'll..." he punctuated the sentence in a threatening growl.

The woman eeped and scrambled over to the man's side.

General applause and cheering erupted from the assembled patrons.  It
acted like a bucket of cold water to Tannim's emotions, and all rage
vanished.  He grinned sheepishly at the applause, and even more
sheepishly at the wolf whistles as Belldandy latched onto him in a
fierce hug.

---

It would be several hours before the pandemonium would finally calm
down.  Many of the patrons had decided to express their gratitude by
the way of monetary compensation, and Tannim didn't have the heart to
turn them down.  They had, after all, heard he was a struggling
college student.

Once the police had arrived, the two would-be robbers were carted
away.  Later Tannim discovered they were Dick and Jane Harper, a
married couple who had formerly been living the big life.  They had
apparently fallen on hard times and taken to robbing to pay for their
debts.  After the police finished questioning Tannim and getting his
contact information, he was told that he could go.

The couple was once again driving aimlessly through the city.  It was
getting fairly late, and the sun had long set.  The two sat in
companionable silence, even if Belldandy had a large smile on her face
that did not seem to be dimming any time soon.

"Well, at least we have enough money to afford decent food now."  The
young man glanced behind him at the pile of cash and checks he had
received; it filled the pool behind Belldandy's chair.  He might as
well have robbed the place himself.  "Do you know how to cook yet?"

Belldandy shook her head in response.

"No worries, we'll make do.  It might not be a Kasumi, or one of your
dishes, but it'll do," said Tannim absently.  He was actually paying
attention to the mental list he had started to make and his driving
rather than what his mouth was saying.

The young goddess remained silent, and her smile fell slightly.  How
did he know how good a cook she would be?  And what's a Kasumi?

"But I'm pretty hungry still..." he patted his stomach.  "In all the
commotion we forgot to eat.  I guess we'd better run through a fast
food joint."

It was then that Tannim pulled up to an unfamiliar intersection and
stared at the place he had found.  Bueno Nacho, the sign proclaimed
for all to see.  Straight out of the Kim Possible cartoon complete
with giant taco marker and sombrero hat roof.  "Mexican sound all
right?"

"Sure," nodded Belldandy.

---

"Okay, that's enough watching Belldandy, we should really get going
before mom gets suspicious..." said Urd warningly.

"But I wanna watch that guy some more!"

"No buts!  We're going home to wait for Belldandy.  Mother said that
if I didn't have you home at a decent time she'd have my hide."

Skuld winced.  Mom was one of the combat goddesses, assigned to
special duty.  She could get a little... carried away ...with
punishment.  "Okay, all right, fine," assented the young goddess.

As the console was shut down, and safeties put back into place,
Skuld's analytical mind sprang to life.  It memorized every detail and
movement that her sister made, and filed it away for future reference.

---

"I'd like to take advantage of your Naco night special to order four
Nacos for myself and my friend," proclaimed Tannim.

Ned, as his nametag stated, simply stared back with a long-suffering
gaze.   His voice was pitched artificially high in an attempt to be
cheery, as he replied, "That'll be two dollars and fifteen cents.
Would you like to try our Diablo Sauce with that?"

"Is it the kind of Diablo Sauce that'll keep your mitts warm on a cold
day?" asked Tannim slyly.

Ned's look became shifty.  "I'm sorry; we don't carry a line of sauce
that hot any more.  It's been discontinued."

"Is there... any way ...I could find some?" Tannim said as he flashed
a wad of bills.

Tannim's order was placed on the counter next to him.  As Ned went to
push it forward, he slipped in two small packets.  "Here is your order
sir, and have a bueno day."

The young man handed Ned a one hundred dollar bill.  "Keep the
change," he said, and walked away.  The look of surprise was
priceless, and Tannim had a huge grin on his face as he sat down.
Behind him Ned sputtered trying to formulate some sort of response.

"That was nice of you," smiled Belldandy.

Tannim shrugged.  "One good turn deserves another."  He didn't bother
to mention some of the checks he had received ranged in the thousands.
That and the lowest bill he had on him WAS a hundred.

"Still... I'm glad to have met you Tannim."  Belldandy positively
beamed.

Tannim blushed under the onslaught.  He quickly joked, "You may not be
after you try the Naco."

"What's a Naco?" asked the young goddess.

"The union of the taco and the nacho," explained Tannim as he went
into teacher mode.  "Inventor of which is Ron Stoppable, better known
as Kim Possible's sidekick.  He is also the arch-foe of Monty Fisk
a.k.a. Monkey Fist, and wielder of the mystical Lotus Blade.  He gets
a royalty fee of five cents for each Naco sold."  His voice took on a
wistful quality, and he leaned on one arm.  "Man, were THEY surprised
when he got his first check.  Then he went all crazy with money the
money.  If it wasn't for--"

Belldandy smiled sadly.  "You're doing it again."

Tannim halted in his tirade.  "Doing what?"

"I don't know," she said, looking pensive.  "You keep saying things
like you know them when you shouldn't.  Like about me, and..." her
voice trailed off.  She leaned her head forward so that her hair
shielded her eyes from view.  "I just don't want you to get in trouble
is all.  It's all right if you don't want to tell me."

Tannim reached across the table and grasped Belldandy's hand
reassuringly.  "I do want to tell ya, Bell, always have.  But I think
this might put me in a bit of trouble.  You deserve to know anyways,
and I'm sorry for putting it off this long."

Over the course of devouring the meal, the displaced college student
gave Belldandy a quick run-down of the situation.

"So that's why you recognized me!" she exclaimed, before worriedly
asking, "Was it a good show?"

Tannim smirked.  "Yeah.  It's really popular."

"So what's my life like?"

That brought Tannim up short.  How do you answer a question like that?
He decided on truthfully.  "You fall in love with a great guy, stay on
Earth, and have all sorts of adventures with your sisters.  There are
some hard times, but those are usually outweighed by the good ones."
He paused.  "You're taking this rather calmly."

Belldandy smiled.  "I'm just relieved that I know the truth now."  The
smile fell moments later.  "But you're right; I'm not sure how they'd
react.  I'll have to do some checking."  She giggled slightly.  "Looks
like I'm going to be busy the next three years."

Tannim frowned deeply.  "About that, Belldandy, and about the wish,
and everything.  The guy's name is Keiichi Morisato, and he lives--"
Tannim was interrupted by Belldandy placing a finger on his lips.  He
waited for her to speak.

"That's not me," stated Belldandy firmly.  She stared hard into
Tannim's eyes.  "That was a different girl."  Her eyes softened.  "I
believe you were brought here for a reason.  We did not meet by
chance."

Tannim waited until Belldandy retracted her finger before speaking.
"Okay.  I understand your point.  But please understand mine: you're
young.  You're kind, caring, wonderful, and willing to fight for those
you believe in.  You deserve better than me, and I know of at least
one guy more suited to the task."  Tannim halted Belldandy from saying
anything with a raised hand.  "Just, think about it, all right?"

Belldandy nodded slowly.

"Okay.  Tonight, we're going home to sleep.  Tomorrow, we can shop."

Belldandy nodded again, more decisively this time.  "When you talk to
Rukia tonight, please let her know I enjoyed her tea."

Tannim paused.  "Who?"

On the drive back to the apartment Belldandy explained what had been
happening with Tannim's dreams.

Belldandy was still apologizing when they arrived.  "I'm so sorry!  I
completely forgot to tell you about it!" she apologized for what
seemed like the hundredth time.

"It's all right, Belldandy," reassured Tannim for what felt like the
hundredth time.  "As long as you told me before I went to sleep
again... at least now I know what's going on.  Here," Tannim opened
the door to the bedroom.  "You get the bed, I get the couch.  No
arguments, it's my house."

Belldandy smiled wanly and hugged Tannim on her way to the bed.
"Thanks."

The young man patted Belldandy on the back.  "You're a good kid.
Sleep well."  Tannim closed the door to the room behind Belldandy,
before moving over to the couch and flopping down on it tiredly.

About a half an hour after Tannim fell asleep, the book on the
recliner began to glow.

---

Tannim gulped.  He was currently standing twenty meters away from
Rukia who, by the way, had her fist glowing at the moment.  Much to
his chagrin, Rukia would only teach any technique or move after first
using it on him at full force.  This was to insure that he'd know
exactly how much damage he would be causing an opponent.

At least, that was Rukia's excuse.  Tannim had a bet going with
himself that she really just loved to beat the living daylights out of
people.

The training session had started so well too.  Twenty whole minutes of
Rukia talking and explaining the basics of energy manipulation.  Now
it's time for the demonstration.  On him.

Rukia darted forward at Tannim, who held his ground.  Dramatically,
she leapt high into the air with her arm cocked back.  Tannim's eyes
widened as he watched with morbid fascination at the incoming fist
heading straight for his forehead.

He flinched.

"GAIJIN SMASH!" cried Rukia as her fist slammed into Tannim's noggin.
He few back end over end for thirty feet before plowing into a
hillside.

Tannim immediately picked himself up with a very surprised look on his
face.  Cautiously, he stood up, and began absently dusting off his
clothes.  He turned wordlessly to Rukia.

She nodded, and said, "Now you see why we must demonstrate the
techniques this way."

"That... that hit hardly hurt at all!"  Tannim reached up and rubbed
the sore spot on his forehead.  "I think I was hurt more from the
ground."

"The Foreigner Anything Goes School of Martial Arts is the Martial Art
for the traveler.  When you are in a strange country, you need a
reliable way to settle down the natives even if you cannot speak the
same language.  This school has been developed by my sensei for that
reason, and it is you that I pass it on to.  You will, of course, have
to remember the school motto...."

"Uh, sensei?" interjected Tannim.

"...secret handshake, banner emblems, blanket prints, theme song--
what is it?"

"How am I going to remember all this if I keep forgetting it when I
wake up?"

"...."

"You don't know either, do you?"

"...shut up."

"Well, while I'm gathering information I can't use, how does the
Gaijin Smash work?"

Rukia began showing him a series of badly illustrated, hand drawn
pictures as she began explaining it.  "You concentrate your spiritual
energy here, in your fist," she explained, "and when you strike the
enemy, that energy is expanded in a circle around your hand.  It is
important to remember this, for you may use any direction to strike as
long as contact is achieved."  She finished with her presentation and
turned to look at Tannim expectantly.  "Do you understand now?"

Tannim's left eye was twitching.  "Yes, but the badly drawn pictures
distracted me."

Rukia smashed Tannim's head with the pad of paper she had been
holding, sending him flying into the nearby stream.  He came up
sputtering.

"We have work to do if we're going to train your mind enough to
perform the technique," said Rukia as she calmly lowered the pad.

Tannim soggily stomped over towards her.  "Like meditation and stuff?"

Rukia shook her head.  "No.  I was actually thinking of putting you
through various insane training techniques that tested the limits of
your endurance."

"Well, as long as it isn't anything like the Bakusai Tenketsu
training..." mumbled Tannim to himself.  "...that'd drive me insane."

"The what?" asked Rukia.  "What kind of training is that?"

Tannim replied absently, "The Breaking Point technique.  It's where
you take a student and have them bash themselves on a giant rock until
they're virtually immune to smashing damage.  Incidentally the
training also grants the user the ability to shatter rock with a
touch."

"That sounds perfect," Rukia grinned.

Tannim gulped.  "But that wouldn't work very well here, since my real
body doesn't go through all that," he quickly pointed out.  "And since
you haven't been able to figure out how to contact me while I'm
awake...."  Phew.  Bullet dodged.

"Student!" cried Rukia as she dramatically pointed a finger at him.

Tannim immediately stood at attention.  "Yes, teacher!"

"As the first training exercise to expand your mind, figure out a way
for us to communicate in the waking world!"

---

Tannim woke the next morning, feeling beat.  He wondered why, until
his eyes drifted over towards the recliner.  "Ah, right.  Rukia.
Training."

This Rukia girl seemed to be really putting him through his paces, he
thought as he stretched some sore muscles.  He picked up the manual
and absently took a look.  The young man nearly dropped it in surprise
as the writing began to change.

"Hey bozo, you awake yet?"  The letters intersected and formed from
the swirling mass of lines.

"Rukia?" he asked in shock.

The first sentence was wiped away, and replaced with, "Of course,
moron.  Who else would it be?"  That held for a few seconds before
dissolving in what looked like laughter.

"Well, hey, we can finally talk!"

The ink lines formed a caricature of Rukia's smirking face, before
reforming to say, "Boy, we have been talking, and I have to say I like
your style."

Tannim started to sweat.  "What do you mean?"  The young man's heart
sank as the letters formed into the next words.

"Breaking Point."

"You do realize that the training could very well kill me," he tried
to reason.

"Don't be such a baby.  Besides, you've got that nice girlfriend of
yours to heal you."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever.  I did tell you that eventually I have to go
back to work, right?"

"Excuses, excuses, now get busy!  I want you to have the training
ready by nightfall!"

"Yes, master..." Tannim's voice trailed off as he began muttering
under his breath, "stupid magical book.  Where does she expect me to
find a giant pulley system?"

After spending the morning with Belldandy shopping for food and
supplies, Tannim spent the rest of the afternoon scraping together a
replica of Ryouga's training harness.  Most of the required materials
were unsurprisingly available at Wally World; even the giant rock to
be bashed against.

He even managed to build it not far from his apartment, somewhat
secluded from viewers due to its remote location.  It wasn't a
mountain range, though, and he couldn't escape the occasional gawker;
there simply were too many people in the city.

"Are you sure this is wise?" asked Belldandy worriedly as she helped
strap Tannim in.

The young man grinned wryly.  "No.  I'm sure this is stupid.  But if
it works, then it'll be worth it."  He silently added to himself, 'I
hope.'  Out loud, he added, "Besides, if I don't do this now,
something tells me I'll never find the time."

---

"C'mon sis, I wanna see that guy again!"  Skuld tugged on Urd's arm
impatiently.  The two were currently making their way back to the
modified access node.

Urd looked at Skuld oddly.  "Don't you mean Belldandy?"

Skuld waved dismissively.  "I'm going to be seeing Belldandy over the
next three years," she reasoned.  "But that guy was cool!  He stood up
to that robber and broke those guns in half with his bare hands!"

Urd chuckled knowingly.  "It almost sounds like you got a crush on
him."

"I do not!" Skuld hotly denied.  She was blushing, though.

"Awww, that's so cute.  My little sis has her first crush," teased
Urd.

The young goddess huffed cutely, but didn't say anything in response.
They had arrived.  Urd got to work in setting up her workstation,
while Skuld watched and tried to memorize the deft movements.

"Done," Urd finally proclaimed.

The scene that greeted the two goddesses was a surprise to say the
least.

"What... what's he doing?"

Urd slowly shook her head.  "I don't know, Skuld, I just don't know.
But it looks like he's repeatedly bashing himself against a giant
rock."

Skuld posed dramatically.  "Obviously he's been caught a trap!  He was
tricked by that mean rock, and now he seeks to avenge himself with the
only weapon at his disposal: his finger!"  She swooned.  "Oh!  What
bravery!  What courage!"

'What sheer stupidity,' thought Urd to herself as she watched Tannim
repeat the process over and over.  She wondered aloud, "What purpose
could that possibly serve?"

---

The training lasted all through the rest of the day, and through half
of the first night.  That's when Tannim discovered the limitations of
his newly-acquired endurance, and he finally knocked himself out.

Belldandy found him the next morning, snoring peacefully.  The rock
was totally unaffected by the repeated blows.

"Are you sure he would want me to do this?" asked Belldandy.

The words reformed in the booklet that Belldandy held.  "Yep.  You can
ask him yourself when he wakes up."

Belldandy shrugged her shoulders, before taking a deep breath.
Loudly, she said, "Please wake up!"

All of the swirling lines crashed to the bottom of the page for a few
moments, before several of them hovered back up to form, "Maybe you
should try throwing a bucket of water at him."

A splash of cold water from a bucket doused Tannim.

He continued to sleep.

"The WHOLE bucket," the words were in bold this time.

This time Belldandy's actions had the desired effect.  Tannim sprang
awake.  "Gah!  Cold!  So cold!  I'm so cold!"  He looked around
wildly.  "Oh, hey there Belldandy.  Thanks for waking me up."  He
shivered.  "Did you have to use the whole bucket?"

Belldandy nodded seriously.  "Yes," she replied as she began helping
Tannim unbuckle from his harness.

The young man was at a loss for words.  "Oh."

"Rukia says you can stop and go to work today.  I've got to get back
to heaven myself."

"It's Saturday already?" wondered Tannim wearily.

Belldandy nodded sadly.  "Yes.  I shall miss it here."

"Don't worry, here will miss you too," Tannim assured.

A tearful goodbye was exchanged, and Belldandy left via the mirror.
Tannim took a good look around his apartment and sighed.  It seemed
pretty empty and lifeless.  His stomach grumbled.

"Right, food," mumbled Tannim to himself.  His restocked kitchen was
overflowing with choices.  "I think I'll have... ramen!" he declared.

The ramen that Tannim pulled out was not the pitiful offerings of
before.  These were full-on, pre-made beef bowls, complete with
authentic Japanese writing on the cover to prove it was from Japan.
Just add water.

It's a shame Tannim didn't have a kettle to boil water in.  He made a
note to get one for Belldandy; after all, she really liked tea (he
also made a note to buy some tea).  For now, though, he'd just have to
settle for using a pot.

---

Skuld was pacing back and forth.  Alone, and in the computer node
room, she had successfully replicated her elder sister's actions and
managed to lock on to the same area Tannim had previously been.  But
now that just showed an empty harness; presumably Tannim escaped.  Her
thoughts were running wild as excitement built within her.

Belldandy was finally coming home!  But... she really wanted to meet
that guy!  And this might be her last chance for three whole years!
If she went now, while Belldandy was there, she could just come back
with her.  Everything would be fine, right?

Skuld nodded to herself, her mind made up.

---

Belldandy arrived at her home in Asgard.  "Urd, Skuld, I'm home!"
cried the goddess.

Urd flew into the room and tackled Belldandy.  "Welcome back!  How
have you been?  What have you been doing?  What's Earth like?" she
asked in a rush, clearly overjoyed to have her sister back.

Belldandy giggled, and returned the hug.  "Please, one question at a
time."  She paused.  "Where's Skuld?  I expected her to reach me
first."

The elder goddess looked around.  "Say, that's a good question.  I
haven't seen the little brat in..." her eyes widened.  "Stay right
here, Belldandy, I'll be right back with her."  She dashed off.

Belldandy was left with a concerned expression.

---

It caught Tannim off guard and surprised him when is pot of
nearly-boiling water began to glow.  The form of a young goddess
solidified above his stove top, and he was forced to catch the
nine-year-old before she fell.  "Eek!"

Tannim blinked at the goddess cradled in his arms.  "What're you doing
here, Skuld?"

'He said my name!  He knows my name!'  Skuld blushed deeply, unable to
formulate a response.  His arms were so strong, and she felt safe and
protected in them.  She settled for twiddling her fingers nervously
while mumbling incoherently.

---

Urd stomped her way to the nodes.  If that little brat would only pay
attention to her instead of just going off and doing what she wanted!

She arrived to find a puddle of water on the ground, along with an
empty container.  The screen was on and locked to Tannim's last known
position.  "Why that little--" she cut herself off.  Urd quickly
accessed the timer that was counting down to the change.

She paled.

---

Tannim stared down at the goddess sitting on his couch.  She was
looking back up at him with a strange glint in her eye.  "Okay, now,
what was it you wanted?  Belldandy already left."

Skuld cleared her throat.  "Well, I--" she was interrupted as the
television set behind Tannim began to glow.  "Uh no, she found me!"
cried Skuld in panic.  She leapt over the back of the couch and hid
behind it.

Tannim turned to watch a shapely Urd squeeze out of his TV set.
"Where is she?" she demanded.

Wordlessly, Tannim pointed behind the couch.

Urd marched herself around and grabbed Skuld by the ear.  "I can't
believe you!  What were you thinking?"

"Ow!  Hey!  Leggo!"

The platinum-haired goddess dragged her protesting sister to the
television screen.

"Belldandy is going to have a stern talking to you when you get home."

Skuld shuddered.  Belldandy giving a lecture was worse than mom
administering punishment.

Urd placed a hand on the TV screen, and waited.

Tannim raised his eyebrows (he wished he was cool enough to raise just
one), and asked, "What are you waiting for?"

Urd stayed silent and still for a few more moments.  "The gate's not
responding."

The young man sat down heavily on the recliner.  "Oh boy."

---

To be continued...

C&C appreciated.




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