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Full Version: [IC][Story][Arc 1] Rob and Brent's as-yet-untitled sidestory (Rob's #10, Brent's TBD)
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No, you didn't miss "Rob's as-yet-untitled sidestory #7" (the big raid) or "Rob's as-yet-untitled sidestory #9" (the fallout from Rob and Hyoga repairing Hvergelmir) - I haven't written them yet. But my discovering a particular piece of fan art awoke my muse.



Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Friday, January 13, 2017
7:35 PM Eastern / 4:35 PM Pacific


Rob was using the big monitor in the common room for a videoconference with the Venice apartment. "Yes, the Rideau Canal Skateway will be opening tomorrow. I'd love to host everybody at once for ice skating, but we're already crowded - even with people sleeping on couches, we'll have to host visitors in shifts."

Tomoyo replied, "We do have an alternate option, Mr. Donaldson, if Sakura-chan would be kind enough to assist us."

"Yes, the Sakura Cards are quite versatile in her hands, aren't they? Are you thinking that she could use 'Little' on everyone and have our guests sleep in miniature bedrooms?"

"That is an option that I hadn't considered. My thought was to ask Sakura-chan to use The Twin on your building."

"Oh, of course! That card is certainly capable of duplicating an entire apartment building. And if Usagi would be kind enough to share the Silver Crystal with Miss Kinomoto, I suspect the two of them working together could create a permanent structure that would not draw upon Sakura's magic to remain manifested."

"That sounds lovely!" Tomoyo smiled. "I must design an outfit for Sakura-chan that would be suitable for such an undertaking."



"... and that'll give us enough room for everybody to have a proper apartment instead of something in the dimensional pocket that holds our onsen and sparring room, with a two-bedroom apartment for Accelerator and Mimi and another two-bedroom apartment for Touma and Index."

"Yay! Mimi finally gets my own bedroom!"

Rob winced at the torturous grammar that Last Order used - some kawaiisa speech patterns simply didn't translate well to English. "Right. Okay, everybody pack anything that you don't want duplicated, so we can move it outside. That definitely includes your bank cards and cellphones. Kuroko, would you be kind enough to help me move the boxes in my storage room into the dimensional pocket?"

"Certainly, just as soon as I've finished with my own packing."

As the others left to pack, Rob motioned to Rei Hino, who stayed behind. "What's wrong?"

"If this works, we're going to have a building filled - well, half-filled - with Misaka clones and Accelerator."

"And you don't trust Accelerator?"

"It isn't that; none of them really know how to live on their own."

"I think I know where this is going."

"Before you came here, you tended to an entire shrine with your grandfather."

Rei looked annoyed. "You could get Mii to move in with them."

"We asked Mii to move less than two months ago, to give Usagi and Mamoru the two-bedroom apartment. It isn't fair to ask her to move again."

Rei sighed. "All right. I'll move into the new building with our child soldiers and our resident psychopath."

"He's not... no, you're right. He is a serial killer. I'm asking a lot of you, I know, but I have faith that you can do the job. We'll get Kazari to wire up a panic button in your apartment, that will sound an alarm in my office if you use it."

"And Usagi's room, and Mii's apartment."

"And the common room. But nobody's moving until after we've hosted that skating party."



"Mr. Donaldson, I think you'd better come down here. There's something in the second storeroom that wasn't there a half-hour ago."

"What is it, Maika?" he asked as he headed down the stairs to the basement, followed by Ami and Ruiko.

"That." Maika pointed to a box on casters with a household satellite dish sitting on top.

"Oh dear gods," Ami whispered. "That's the Witches Electric Warp."

"The what?" Rob asked.

"The gadget that Mimete got stuck in?" Ruiko asked.

"Mimete? Of the Witches 5? Oh, dear. What's that doing here? How did it get here? And why now?"

"Rob..." Ami asked pensively, "What if Mimete is inside it?"

On the basis of better to be wrong than to be indecisive - especially if being indecisive meant possibly letting somebody die - Rob immediately started giving orders. "Maika, help me get this thing and a battery pack outside. Ami, go get Usagi and Rei. Rui-chan, go get Mikoto. Whoever's finished first, go grab a laptop. We meet outside the back door as soon as possible."

Three minutes later, everybody who lived in the building was gathered around the Witches Electric Warp, watching Kazari plug an old laptop into its serial port. "This is so old it doesn't even have USB. I hope this RS-232 kludge cable works."

"What were you doing with a RS-232 to USB cable, anyway?"

Kazari looked at Rob. "I thought it was yours."

"Trap?" Kuroko asked.

"Trap," Luna replied.

"Or a chance at salvation." Usagi was using her Neo-Queen Serenity voice.

Rob nodded. "Power it up, see whether we can purge the daimon from Mimete, and get her out of there."

"Unless Mimete is the daimon," Ruiko pointed out.

"In which case we take her down. Accelerator, would you be good enough to -?"

"No."

"Fine. Just make sure anything she shoots at you doesn't rebound into somebody else, okay?"

"Whatever."

Kazari stood up and backed away. "It's ready whenever everyone else is."

Mikoto stepped forward out of a huddle with the other girls, battery pack in hand. "And I'm ready."

"So are we," added Sailor Mars, charms already in hand. Sailor Moon stood beside her with the Crescent Moon Rod.

Rob took a breath, then exhaled slowly. "Do it."

Mikoto plugged the Witches Electric Warp into the battery pack, and kept hold of the power cable. Only Kuroko was close enough to notice she'd otherwise gone limp.

The laptop's screen flickered, then showed static which cleared to form a face - a familiar face to five of the Senshi. "Is somebody out there? Can you hear me? Please, get me out of here!"

"She's panicking. We have to help her!"

"Mii, she's as good an actress as I am," Sailor Venus countered.

"No! Please! Help me!"

"We can't just ..."

Jupiter cut Mii off. "We must."

"No! Damn you, Sailor Senshi! I'll strike you down where you stand!" The laptop started to glow...

... only to stop as Mikoto gasped, "I'm in." Her face appeared on the screen, opposite Mimete's.

"Who are you? How did you get in here?"

"I'm just a junior-high student with some skill at electromagnetics." The virtual camera panned back to show Mimete firing off a Charm Buster at Mikoto, who dodged it and returned fire with an electrostatic bolt.

"Nice touch on the camera work," Rob whispered.

"Thank you," Mikoto replied as she sent an artificial lightning bolt into Mimete's leg, causing the Witch to fall over onto a floor that wasn't there a moment ago.

"Oooooowwwwwwwwwww! You hurt me! You... you..."

"Bitch?" Ruiko offered, earning her a glare from Kuroko.

"Yes! You bitch!"

Rob leaned over to Kazari. "I thought that laptop didn't have a microphone."

"I think she's getting sensory input from the Electric Warp."

"That, or she's hearing through Mikoto's ears."

Mikoto dodged Mimete's half-focused attack, and shot her with lightning in both hands so that she couldn't attack again. "Stop that! I can't get you out of here if you keep attacking me!"

Mimete suddenly looked contrite and kawaii - and hopeful. "You're here to help me get out of here?"

"Yes, you idiot! Unless you like it in here!"

"I'm not an idiot!"

Mikoto stopped. "You're right. You're not an idiot." Then she zapped the floor beside Mimete, who was about to jump to her feet (which she'd re-grown in the cyberspace environment.) "And I'm not an idiot either. Stay where you are. Hyoga, are you ready out there?"

"As ready as I'll ever be!" Hyoga took off the necklace holding her AIM concentrator and placed it in Mikoto's hand. "You have it!" She immediately ran back to the Misaka Sisters, who surrounded her with their own bodies - and by extension their own AIM diffusion fields.

Everybody held their breaths... and waited, and watched, as Mimete faded from view on the laptop screen and into view above the AIM concentrator.

After a long quarter-minute, she was out of the Witches Electric Warp - but wasn't yet solid. That didn't stop her from being hit on the forehead by Sailor Mars's exorcism charms. A daimon wafted out of Mimete, only to be hit with a Mercury Aqua Rhapsody, a Jupiter Oak Evolution, and a Venus Love and Beauty Shock all at once. The daimon dissolved into nothingness.

The ghostly form of Mimete was crying, still hovering over the AIM concentrator. "Thank you, oh thank you so much. That thing made me... oh, gods, it made me kill Eudial... and I attacked you so many times... how can you forgive me?"

Usagi stepped forward, her rod in hand and her gentlest smile on her face. "There is nothing to forgive. I give you a choice; go on to your next stage of existence, or have a second chance here."

Mimete looked at Usagi. "If only you could, but nobody can give me a second chance at life."

"Is that you choice? Then be ready." She stepped back, spun in place, and shouted "MOON HEALING ESCALATION!"

Mimete disappeared... only to re-form, in a fully human body.

"I... but how?"

Ami smiled at the orange-haired woman's amazement. "She did the same for us, and for the entire world, not too long ago by our own life lines. You have your second chance at life, Mimete; please don't waste it."

"Please, don't call me that. My name is Mimi Hanyu."

From off to one side came a muttered, "That's my name, Mimi Misaka pouts."

As everyone else laughed, Mikoto finally let go of the Witches Electric Warp, stood up, walked to her clone-sisters, and handed the AIM concentrator back to Hyoga.

Rob caught Mimi's attention, and pointed to the Witches Electric Warp. "What do we do with this? Other than the clothes you're wearing, it's all you own in this world."

"Destroy it. Please. I never want to see it again." After a moment, Mimi added, "What did Sailor Mercury mean by 'our own life lines'? And what did you mean by 'this world', sir?"

Rob sighed. "Here we go again. You aren't currently in the world you were born in." Then he held out his hand. "Hello, I'm Rob Donaldson, and it's part of my job to acclimatize you to your life here while we're waiting for some Goddesses to figure out how to make sure you have a home universe to return to."

"You're kidding... He's kidding, right?" Everyone else shook their heads. "He isn't kidding. Can I go lie down somewhere, please? I think I'm in shock."

Ami and Rob quickly helped Mimi into the building's lobby.

As everyone else returned to packing the belongings that they didn't want duplicated the next day, Minako took Kuroko and Luna aside. "I really hope she isn't still acting."
Fifteen minutes later, the Good Neighbor System's alarm went off. "Warning, incoming portal."

Rob blinked. "Who added spoken messages?" A portal opened in the wall, one person stepped through, and the portal collapsed. "Ben? How'd you kno- Oh. Right. The Good Neighbor System triggered when all five of the Senshi used their powers, didn't it?"

Ben took a large thermos out of his jacket pocket. "It's a good thing Kazari sent us an all-clear. For all we knew, you were being attacked by Unseelie again. Or superpowered clones, or Predators, or something we haven't encountered yet."

"No, just one of Pharaoh 90's daimons," Mimi joked as she sat up... but both Ben and Rob could see that she was forcing the humour.

"Introductions are in order. Ben, this is Mimi Hanyu. You might know her better as Mimete of the Witches 5, but she isn't using that name any more. Mimi, this is Ben Rhodes - he's in the same line of work that I am. Hang on a second, Ben." Rob grabbed his Montreal Biodome souvenir mug - the closest mug available - from the common room. "Here. I was going to let Sakura use this one because penguin, but I think Mimi needs it first."

Ben grinned, opened the thermos and poured some of its contents into the mug. "Mexican hot chocolate. Wonderfully warm, creamy, cane-sugared, cinnamon-spiced, chocolaty goodness with a hint of nutmeg. It warms the heart and the bones - just what someone could use after such a terrible experience."

"You had that ready on a quarter-hour's notice?"

Ben rolled his eyes with a smile that belied the expression. "I was getting ready to come over anyways. The hot chocolate was going to be a treat for later - perfect follow-up to a day spent ice skating - but I felt this was more important. Think the rest of the Witches 5 are gonna show up? After all, we got Pyrrha back."

"Oh, I hope not," replied Mimi. "We were at each others' throats. And... and I'd have to apologize to Eudial. I'd much rather go back to what I was doing before I was possessed."

"And that was...?"

"I was majoring in dramatic arts."

"I'm sure we can find you a school that'll take you as a student," Rob replied. "As for needing to apologize, you might want to talk with Accelerator and any of the Misaka clones. The girls share memories, and ... he killed some of them."

"Oh."

"The girls have memories of being killed - repeatedly - by somebody that they're now sharing a building with. And the youngest one approached him. So, it's possible for somebody to forgive the person that she remembers killed her."

At that, Mimi lost all composure. She leaned into Rob and cried silently.

"I'm going to go grab a couple more mugs," Ben said as he gave the two of them some room.

Mimi watched him go. "He's... nice. His girlfriend's a... lucky girl," she said between sobs.

"I don't think he has a girlfriend," Rob replied before he realized the subtext behind Mimi's words. "But I think you'd better spend more than a few minutes around him before you start thinking you know what he's like."

"Why? Is he...?"

Not sure what the next word was going to be, Rob stretched the truth a bit. "I have no idea what he is or isn't. But you are in no shape right now to decide whether you like somebody."
Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Friday, January 13, 2017
8:44 PM


Mimi, Ben, and Rob had retired to the common room. They had almost finished off the hot chocolate when Kazari came in, still wearing her winter coat and carrying a shopping bag.

"I'm back!" She passed the bag to Mimi. "These are for you."

"You really didn't need to do this for me, Uiharu-san."

"Please, call me Kazari. And this is a rite of passage here. Somebody shows up, we get their measurements, and I go buy them a new outfit."

Mimi smiled, a bit. "I hope it looks good on me."

Rob laughed. "Actually, part of the tradition is that it's the plainest outfit we could come up with - jeans, shirt or blouse, and a change of underwear. You get to go shopping later for whatever you want to wear."

"Why not... No, you're right." Ben caught himself.

Rob nodded. "It's none of our business what our guests choose to wear, once they've seen what we wear. But Ottawa doesn't have a big cosplay culture, so Mimi would have stood out in the crowds wearing that black-and-orange dress."

"Well, if everybody gets the same treatment, I suppose I should accept this gift." Mimi pulled a turquoise blouse out of the bag. "I don't know whether this is my colour, though."

"I'm sorry," Kazari replied. "They didn't have very much in your size."

"That's one of the perils of shopping at a small mall. We'll take you downtown tomorrow morning and let you buy a better wardrobe - and more than just two changes of clothes! Kuroko didn't buy much when she first arrived here; don't be like her."

"Won't it be strange that I'm buying so many clothes, though?"

Ben shook his head. "A young woman shopping for a new wardrobe? That's so normal that it's almost a stereotype."

Rob added, "And if anybody does ask, we'll say that you just got here and they lost your luggage. We just won't say who 'they' are."

"Oh. All right." Mimi looked through the bag, then looked up. "No pajamas?"

Kazari bowed her head. "I'm sorry. I never think of that."

Ben frowned. "Why not? Don't you normally wear something to bed?"

Rob shook his head. "You haven't watched Kazari's anime lately, have you?"

Before anyone else could respond, Mimi said, "It isn't that big a deal, really! I'll make do tonight."





"And this is your bedroom, at least for tonight. If all goes well tomorrow, we should have plenty of room ... or you might decide you want to move in with some of the visitors we're expecting tomorrow."

"I don't know whether I want to sleep in a pocket dimension, Mr. Donaldson. It brings back memories that I'd rather forget."

"Oh. In that case, you can sleep on my couch. It pulls out to a bed."





Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
6:37 AM


Rob was already awake and through his morning routine when Mimi sighed and opened her eyes. "What a pleasant dream. I wasn't one of the Witches 5 any more."

"Good morning, Mimi."

"It wasn't a dream! Good morning, Mr. Donaldson!"

"The shower's in there." He pointed toward the bathroom. "Do you want some coffee, or ... whoa, wait!"

"What's wrong?" Mimi asked as she continued to get out of bed.

"I'm right here!"

"Huh? Oh. If seeing a naked woman bothers you, then you should have bought me some pajamas." She headed for the bathroom. "Haven't you seen somebody else naked before?"

"Not lately. Doesn't it bother you for me to see you naked?"

"I'm an actress - if that bothered me, I'd be in the wrong line of work."

"I thought you were still a student."

"I did some summer stock, back before I was possessed. There wasn't a lot of room to change costumes backstage. I got used to it."

"Oh. And you aren't worried that I might take advantage of you?"

"You're a nice man, Mr. Donaldson, but you're too old for somebody my age."

Rob decided to not mention to Mimi his relationship with Mii, Ami, and Hyouga. "So... coffee?"

"I'll take a shower first." Mimi closed the door behind her.

Oh, thank God the door's closed, Rob thought. But, damn, she's hot. And she's a natural carrot-top, too. No! Bad Rob! I already have three girlfriends. And she just made it clear she isn't interested in being number four.
Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
6:53 AM


"I hope you don't mind that I borrowed your comb," Mimi said while drying herself off.

"No, that isn't a problem." Rob owned a metal comb, so there wasn't any chance of anything being passed from one person to the other. "Where did you leave it?"

"On the counter." Mimi tossed her towel into the bathroom so that it fell into the tub. "I'll have that coffee now."

"Yeah, sure. How do you take it?"

"White and sweet." She smiled at Rob.

"You're doing that on purpose, aren't you?" She nodded. "We have a term for people who do that... but it isn't family-friendly."

"Oh! I'm sorry!"

"And if somebody other than me was to hear that, they might think you're still possessed."

"Why?"

"Around here, a woman doesn't normally make double-entendres to a man she just met. Especially when she's naked. Or, for that matter, be naked with a man she just met."

"Is my nakedness a problem?"

"Some people might think so." There was a knock at the door. "Who is it?"

"It's Kazari. May I come in?"

"I don't mind," Mimi said.

Rob remembered the anime scene with Kazari's matter-of-fact near-lack of reaction to what Ruiko said Kazari didn't wear to bed. "Come on in."

The door opened and closed. "I brought some orange juice, Rob-oji - you mentioned that you didn't have any. Oh, good morning, Mimi. Would you like some juice?"

"Thank you, but Rob's offered me some coffee. Which I'll take with cream and sugar, please."

"Sure. Are you staying for breakfast, Kazari?"

"I was considering it, but... well, I don't know if I can meet the dress code."

Rob raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"Well... I'm not anywhere near as pretty as Mimi is, and if somebody else came in and saw you had two naked girls in your apartment and they weren't -"

"Okay, I get your point. You know, just because the Sailor Senshi set so high a bar for personal beauty doesn't mean that you have anything to worry about. You're a pretty girl, Kazari."

"Thank you, Rob-oji," Kazari whispered.

"You have a girlfriend?" Mimi asked Rob as he put a coffee cup on the counter in front of her.

"He has two! No, sorry, three! And they know about each other!"

"Kazari!" Rob almost glared at her. "That's enough."

After a moment, Mimi asked, "Should I get dressed?"

"Only if you want to," Kazari replied.

"Maybe you should, before somebody who isn't comfortable with casual nudity - which I think describes everybody else in the building - decides to pay me an early-morning visit," Rob said neutrally.

"I'll do that now, then. Can I borrow some scissors, to get the price tags off these clothes?"





To be continued, once Brent comes up with what Sakura's going to do for the building twinning

And here's the fan art that inspired me to write this.
(Sorry about how brief this is. I've been away from my usual computer this week...)



Billings Bridge Shopping Centre, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
10:12 AM ET


Mimi walked down the middle of the mall's hallway, looking at the stores that were on either side. She began to realize that Minako was right - there was nothing in the way of decent fashion here, just utilitarian shops and stores that screamed "I'm part of a chain!"

She was about to give up and head downtown when she saw it: a coat in basic black with orange trim. Yes, it was Mimete's colour scheme, but she knew that deep down Mimete was Mimi - at least when it came to fashion. She had to have it. (Then she could give Konori-san back the coat she'd borrowed. It was a warm coat, and she appreciated that, but she thought it fit her like a tent around the chest, no matter what Mr. Donaldson said. Disliking not being the best was another thing Mimi shared with Mimete, so she didn't like the reminder.) She went into the store.

"Excuse me, is that coat available in a size... Oh, I don't know what the sizes are here in North America."

The woman behind the counter smiled. "We'll just need to take your measurements, then." And she proceeded to do that, quite thoroughly and professionally. "Whereabouts are you from?" she asked while measuring Mimi's arm.

"Tokyo."

"I've never been to Japan. What's it like?"

Mimi thought for a quick moment - she had no idea whether her homeworld's Japan was the same as this world's. Then she remembered seeing "GALS!" among the manga in the apartment's common room, and the scenes she'd glanced at in that story certainly looked like her world's version of Shibuya. She decided to take a chance on all three worlds' Japan's being similar. "For one thing, it's warmer than Ottawa!"

They both laughed.

Thirty-five minutes later, Mimi had a sheet of paper that listed all of her sizes except for her shoe size, the beginning of a wardrobe - the coat, a pair of black slacks, an orange pullover sweater, and an everyday dress in red and white - and the store clerk's recommendation of where to buy shoes and jewelry that would match the outfits.

Visiting the shoe store (and filling in that last size on her sheet), she quickly realized that the advice she'd been given was good. It took her twenty minutes to choose a pair of winter boots and a pair of low-heeled shoes, both in black leather that matched both the coat and the slacks.

The jewelry would have to wait; the cash that Mimi had borrowed from Mr. Donaldson was running low, and she couldn't find work without some ID. Also, it was getting close to noon, and that's when they expected their visitors to start arriving. Time to head back home.
Now to open the can of worms that I mentioned in the planning thread. I cleared this with Brent before completing the scene.



Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
11:23 AM ET

"Rin-san! It's good to see you again!"

"It's good to see you as well, Kazari-san. I believe you met my friends at Halloween: Shirou Emiya, Sakura Matou, Saber, Archer, and Rider." Each nodded as Rin named them.

"The ones who I didn't meet then, I met at the Christmas party. It's good to see you again, everyone."

Rob cleared his throat. "Kazari-kun, would you be kind enough to take Ms. Tohsaka's friends out and show them around the building while she and I discuss today's events with Usagi-san?"

Usagi chose that moment to walk into the common room, followed by Mamoru and Chibi-Usa. "Oh, our guests just got here, Rob-san! They've been on the train for a couple of hours, right?" Shirou nodded, and Usagi continued, "I don't mind if they listen in."

"What exactly will we be doing today?" Rin asked.

"It's easier to show you than to tell you," replied Rob as he unlocked the special cabinet - the one with the stories about the displacees that he knew were somewhere in the world - and pulled out the Cardcaptor Sakura set. "I have permission from the involved people in L.A. to show this to everyone," he said as he loaded the disc with episode 43 into the player.

They sat down to watch the show, with Minako and Mii joining them before the opening credits ended. Other residents joined them as the episode continued ... including Mimi, who noticed that something was going on in the common room. She placed her bags on a table and sat down to watch the second half of the show. Or, at least, try to watch the show. She couldn't help but think about the new life that Sailor Moon had given her.

Ever since she had heard the previous evening that there was an apartment filled with people like her in Los Angeles, she'd thought about going to try to make it big in Hollywood. But she didn't know anyone in Hollywood. The live theatre scene in Ottawa might be smaller than the acting industry in Hollywood, but at least she knew Donaldson-san well enough to accept his offer of a bed for the night, and she knew Sailor Moon - Usagi, she reminded herself - and the other Sailor Senshi even better than that.

She knew them as enemies, a small part of her countered. Go to L.A. and be a big star! She can do it!

But wasn't that vanity one of the hooks that Tomoe-sensei had used to anchor Mimete into her soul? No, she wasn't going to listen to that part of herself for a long time yet, if ever. The people she knew, including Sailor Venus - Minako - all lived in Ottawa. They would help her learn how to be a normal person again; S- Usagi had all but promised that, hadn't she?

That small part of Mimi that she wanted to ignore asked, Had she?

"Hi, Mimi-neesan, Mimi Misaka says!" She turned to see her namesake standing beside her. "Can I sit down here?"

Mimi smiled. "Sure. Er..."

"Do you want to ask me something, Mimi asks?"

After a moment, Mimi replied, "I feel silly asking somebody your age for advice."

"Do you want to talk with one of my clone-sisters, Mimi asks? We share a telepathic link, so I could get a sister here really fast."

"You have a mindlink with your sisters?"

"Uh-huh! Rob-oji told you that yesterday, remember? He mentioned to Niiko-neesan that he said that, and we all share memories, so I already know that you know." She nodded in satisfaction that she'd successfully reached the end of the logical chain.

Mimi stared at her younger namesake's enthusiasm for a moment, then remembered what she was thinking about. "I have a choice to make."

"What kind of choice, Mimi asks?"

"Do I stay here where I already know people, or do I ask whether I can move to Los Angeles and chase my dream of becoming a star?"

Mini-Mimi thought for a moment, then remembered what was about to be shown on the common room's television. "Mimi thinks you need to watch the show right now."

They did, and Mimi was fascinated. She had no idea that that sort of magic existed anywhere. Then she realized something: when the boy's apartment was duplicated, so was his butler. She turned to the young clone. "Is that your answer?" The younger Mimi nodded. Mimi thought for a long moment, then smiled. "Don't tell anybody until after the apartment has been twinned, okay?" She held out her pinky finger.

The younger Mimi grinned and wrapped her own pinky finger around her namesake's. "Okay, Mimi promises!"

They turned back to watch the show.


Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Noon ET

Portals from San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Pensacola opened right on time.

Rob turned his attention away from the TV and toward the portals just as they were opening. "Welcome to Ottawa!" He made a gesture as if he was offering a toast, reminiscent of the one Ricardo Montalb√°n used to start off every episode of Fantasy Island. "I hope you're ready for a really big show, followed by lunch and some skating outdoors." Then he noticed River's outfit. "Miss Tam, if you go outside barefoot today, you'll end up with frostbite."

"They're in my bag," she replied.

"Your shoes? I hope you have heavy socks to go with them."

Meanwhile, Sakura Kinomoto had made her way over to where Usagi was sitting. "Hello, Usagi-oneesama," she all but whispered. She made no move to sit down... or to hide her smile.

By now, everyone - including the people involved - had figured out why Sakura was acting that way around Usagi: The Moon was a powerful influence on the descendants of Clow Reed. That didn't make Sakura's feelings for Usagi any less real.

"You look lovely, Miss Kinomoto," Mamoru remarked gallantly. Rob nodded in agreement.

Sakura blushed at the compliment. She was of course wearing something that her best friend had picked out for her - not made specially for the occasion, since Tomoyo had only learned of the plans the day before, but still assembled especially for her. The outfit was based around overalls; not the usual sloppy jeans and bib, but well-fitting salopettes of baby-blue denim that reached down to the ankle. Under the salopettes' bib, Sakura wore a flannel shirt dyed her namesake sakura pink, the sleeves reaching her wrists, loose enough to give her freedom of movement but not so loose that they would catch on anything. In place of a tool belt, Sakura wore a broad cotton belt that matched her shirt, with a pocket just the right size to hold the Sakura Cards. And the outfit was topped off with a yellow construction hard-hat - Tomoyo had made sure the regulation helmet was emblazoned with Sakura's winged-heart design at the front. Construction boots finished the ensemble.

"You're so cute, Sakura-chan!" Ruiko added.

"I'm jealous," Minako commented.

"Hoeee?"

"Really! You have the classic good looks that would make a rice sack look good on you, and you have a friend with good fashion sense. I'll have to be careful if you decide to become a fashion model!"

Minako's comment sent Tomoyo into a fantasy world, where Sakura was wearing outfits that Tomoyo made for her every day and everyone was clamoring to wear what the world's cutest girl was wearing. "That would be so lovely," she whispered.

"Oh, I'm not pretty enough to be a model," said Sakura.

That caught Tomoyo's attention. "But wasn't your mother a model, Sakura-chan?"

"Yes, she was. But I'm not my mother, I'm me."

Rob sighed quietly. Sakura was one of the most beautiful girls he knew personally (and he lived with the Bishojo Sailor Senshi, so that was saying something) but despite everything she wasn't aware of how beautiful she was. Or maybe she was just being modest. Either way, her not flaunting her beauty added to her beauty, of course. He made a mental note to try to find a quiet moment alone with Shaoran and ask him what he thought of Sakura's attitude about her own looks... but, with Rob being the designated driver to get everybody to and from the canal, he doubted that talk would happen today.

Usagi kept her opinion to herself; she could tell that any more complements would distract Sakura so much that they wouldn't be able to twin the apartment building until after lunch, and Usagi wanted to go skating some time today! She was in her Eternal Senshi form, with the addition of leg-warmers ... and was considering going skating in the same outfit if she could convince Makoto to go as Sailor Jupiter.

Ben noticed Usagi becoming antsy, and motioned to Rob, who nodded. "Okay, everybody outside! Let's start the show."

As they headed out, James made sure River actually put her shoes on, Ben helped Fate and Nanoha help Hayate get outside, Brent rode herd on Tomo's antics that if left unchecked would have delayed everything even further, and Rob and Mii did one last look around the common room to make sure nothing that shouldn't be twinned had been left behind.

Nobody thought to check the laundry bin at the landing at the top of the stairs. Maika had emptied that the previous night; she had no desire to do two loads of laundry when she could do one instead. Everybody knew it was empty...

Outside, everybody gave Sakura, Usagi, and Rin enough room to work. As Sakura recited her spell to unlock the Star Wand, Rin withdrew all of her charged gems from her pocket, and Usagi took a firm hold of the Ginzuishou. They were all ready at the same time.

"Card that holds the power of the Stars, make this building into two! TWIN!"

The card giggled mischievously as it began to glow. The Ginzuishou glowed with the pure radiance of Usagi's soul, bathing Sakura in its and its owner's power. Rin's gems also glowed, one after another, shattering into dust as the stored power within them was spent.

After a long moment, the glows faded in the sunlight.

And Usagi fell to her knees.

Mamoru reached her before anyone else. "Usako, what's wrong?"

"I'm just a little tired..." she replied in a ragged whisper as he helped her stand.

"You're exhausted. Did something go wrong with the spell?"

Everyone looked around - to see that the Blossom apartment building was now two buildings. Raising Heart almost immediately reported, "No lingering type Clow or type Senshi magical reaction detected."

"Then it just took more out of you than you expected?" Rob guessed.

Rin counted the gems remaining in her hand. "It took more of my power that I expected, as well."

Usagi nodded slowly. "I know. And thank you, Rin-san."

"It would have been remiss of me to fail to shoulder my share of the burden."

"But..." Everyone turned to look at Sakura. "I didn't feel any more strain on my magical power than I expected."

Ami was the first to figure it out. "You protected her, didn't you, Usagi?"

"She did?" Sakura's face was a picture of concern. "But why? And from what?"

Usagi smiled at her. "Because you were also learning how to make a permanent change to the world," she replied, more strongly than she had spoken earlier but not as strongly as she usually spoke. "Let your oneesama shoulder the burden of an unexpected addition to the task."

"What unexpected addition?" Ben and Rob asked in unison - Ben in concern, Rob in suspicion. Rob continued, "What did we miss?"

After a moment of silence, a small voice replied, "I promised I wouldn't tell until it was too late, Mimi Misaka admits."

"Tell what??"

"Eek!" Nobody was sure who said that... but nobody had seen Rob angry before, either.

"Rob-oji... Don't scold her, please." They turned to Usagi. "I could have stopped this as soon as I realized what our combined magic was being asked to do. But I didn't. If there is any fault here, it is mine."

"What happened?" Rob said through clenched teeth, barely keeping himself from shouting.

"Rob ..."

"This better be important, Ben."

"Where's Mimi?"

"She's right here." Rob pointed at Mimi Misaka.

"Not her. The other Mimi."

Rob looked around, and failed to see anyone with carrot-orange hair. Then the penny dropped. "Oh, sh- shoot," he whispered, catching himself just in time as he remembered children were present. "You're tired because you made another soul." Then he did shout. "Hanyu Mimi! Get out here! NOW!"

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry to trouble you." Her voice came from both buildings at once.
James took one look at the pair of girls that came down and shook his head. "For once I can happily say something." he told Misato.

"What is that?" the Major asked eyeballing the pair of girls as well.

"Well," he answered,  "as my mother used to say, not my fleas, not my circus."

The woman parsed and thought about that for a minute before nodding. I completely agree."
Kuroko, overhearing James' remark, appreciated the simile but thought this was less a case of fleas and more a case of an elephant. She was happy that she didn't have to clean up the mess, but worried that there might be two Mimetes to keep track of now.

For his part, Benjamin winced in a way that perfectly conveyed his empathy for Mimi Hanyu at that moment.

"What just happened!?" said Kaname in his ear, not wanting to draw any attention to herself.

"Mimi just got herself duplicated - she now has a perfect identical twin - complete with her very own soul."

"She can do that!?" hissed Kaname in shock.

Ben nodded. "There's a reason why I wanted her help specifically with Alicia - she really is that powerful. Give her maybe a few hundred years or so and she'll be pitching in Belldandy's league. Speaking of..."

Ben pulled out his cell phone and began to fire off a text message to the Goddess Help Line. If anything warranted their attention, then this certainly did.

The reaction was prompt and fitting:

".... This raises SO MANY QUESTIONS. Stand by: we're dispatching Belldandy and Urd. I don't envy you for the report you're going to have to make to Lord Phantomhive."

Ben shook his head and went to stand near Rob - even if Ben wasn't too familiar with his moods, he knew when a man was about to go thermonuclear. And by his reckoning, Mimi had already been through enough. The current situation was a blatantly clear sign that she needed help. At least it was clear to him, anyhow. He worried Rob might not see it while getting carried away in Papa Bear Mode.

Which meant Ben was close enough to hear a whisper: "Rob... please don't do that again." Rob turned angrily - then stopped to see it was Hyoga who had spoken. "The only reason the neighbours aren't calling to report a disturbance is because I protected the area from unwanted attention."

The emotions drained out of him, but didn't completely go away. "I see. Thank you, darling. And I apologize for putting you to the trouble."

"Don't apologize to me," she said quietly while tilting her head toward Ben.

"Oh. Oh, yes." Rob turned to Ben. "I shouldn't have reacted like that. I'm sorry."

"It's alright," said Ben. "I know you wouldn't have done anything.... well, you know. I was just more worried for Mimi - she's pretty fragile right now. Also, I notified the Goddesses. They're sending Bell and Urd to make sure everything is okay."

As both Mimi Hanyus joined the group, Mii and Usagi looked the expression of worry on their faces. Then they looked at each other, nodded slightly, and said in unison, "I'm hungry."

Rob wasn't fooled. "And you're changing the subject."

"I could eat," Yomi added. "Watching magic of this scale takes something out of a person." (Tomo almost replied to that comment, but at the last second noticed Minako standing behind Rob and shaking her head.)

"Fine, fine, whatever. Food." Rob sighed. "Mako-chan, I believe you had something ready already?"

"That's right!" she nodded. "And I remembered that some of you are strict vegetarian, so there's a tofu option for the hot sandwiches."

"Thanks." Rob half-smiled at Makoto's thoughtfulness; it was only a half-smile because he was still annoyed with Mimi. "Everybody, please head into the old building and enjoy lunch. Mimi and Mimi and Mimi and I have to have what we used to call a 'full and frank discussion' when I was a bureaucrat, and we'll do that in the new building."

Everybody except Luna, Kuroko, Jayne, James, and the ex-NERV employees turned toward the new building - and Luna joined the majority when Diana tugged at her coat sleeve.

Rob sighed. "Folks, I know you mean well, but what I'm going to say and the way I'm going to say it ... well, I don't mind you hearing it, but the others might."
"Well," James said looking at the others around them. "Honestly I really have only one question that I would like answered, and I am pretty sure it is high up in everybody else's lists." With that he turned to Miming, "What the bloody hell were you thinking, and did you consider what it might have done to those who were casting the duplication spell?" Through the question James did not raise his voice nor growl like he normally did when angry, the tone was flat and near emotionless while his face went from pleasant smile to grimace in the space of two words.
Ultimately, we'll have to get both of them into a pit fight to determine which one has the right to be the real Mimi. After all, there can be only one.
Back to the IC posts. Picking up from where I left off, and incorporating Rajvik's post above...


A wave of realization spread through the crowd, and almost everybody turned to go to the old building for lunch. After a moment, only Usagi, Accelerator, James, Mal, Misato, and Ben had decided to stay with Rob, the two Mimi Hanyus and Mimi Misaka... and Accelerator was obviously there only for Last Order's sake. It appeared that nobody but Ben noticed that Raising Heart, Bardiche, and Reinforce were hiding under Rob's coat collar. They headed into the new building's common room - most with a purposeful stride, but the Mimis walked as if they were going to their own executions.

Once everyone was inside, Rob closed the door behind him, carefully draped his coat over the back of a chair... and turned to Mimi Misaka. "You should have known better than to keep something like this secret."

Before she could answer, Accelerator said, "That's bullshit and you know it. We were both part of more secret projects back in Academy City than you'll ever know about. Or need to know about. We keep secrets. Live with it."

"And it all worked out well in the end! Didn't it? Mimi Misaka adds."

Rob almost yelled at her, caught himself, exhaled slowly, and started over. "Did it? Just what did you expect was going to happen?"

"There'd be two of Mimi-neesan, one of them could stay here, one could go to Hollywood, and they'd both be happy."

"There's two of them, all right. Why would they both be happy?"

Mimi grinned. "Because they'd get to experience both lives ..." Her grin faded away as her voice trailed off. "Oh."

Rob nodded grimly. "Exactly." Then he turned to the other two Mimis. "The Misaka clone-sisters have a telepathic link as a side-effect of their electrokinetic powers. Can the two of you read each other's minds?"

The redheads looked at each other for a moment. "No," they sighed in unison.

"Oops."

Rob turned back to Mimi Misaka. "Right. 'Oops.' You know that, besides your sisters, nobody else here is a telepath."

"Except River," Misato interrupted.

Before Ben could interrupt as well, Rob continued, "Nobody else living here in Ottawa is a telepath. Now thanks to you keeping this secret, there are two people here who don't know what they want to do with their lives instead of just one. I want you to think hard about what you've done to Mimi. Get your sisters to help - I'm sure you're sharing this with them." Mini-Mimi nodded solemnly. "Go get your lunch. The rest of us have some things to say that I'd rather people don't gossip about before we get back." Rob put a slight emphasis on that last sentence.

Just after Mimi Misaka and Accelerator left, the room's TV set and mirror started glowing. Everybody stood and waited for the goddesses to manifest.

"Milady Belldandy, milady Urd, welcome to Ottawa," Rob said, his face neutral. "I would have preferred your first visit here to have been under better circumstances."

"This is a joyous time, Rob," Belldandy replied. "A new life has come into being here."

"Even if it wasn't in the usual manner," added Urd, as she put on a pair of glasses and looked very carefully at both Mimis. "That's interesting... Hmmm... Oh, you poor girls." She turned to Belldandy. "They both show signs of having recently been freed from something very much like demonic possession - and not the kind that Marller uses that doesn't leave any permanent scars." Then Urd turned to Usagi. "Did you have to duplicate the trauma in their souls?"

"I'm sorry," replied Sailor Moon. "It was all I could do to protect Kinomoto-kun and channel the extra power we needed to duplicate Hanyu-san. I couldn't heal her at the same time."

"Do I get a say in this?" Everybody turned to the Mimis, who both shrank under the sudden attention. One of them motioned to the other to continue. "It's my life - our lives, after all."

"She's got a point," Mal added. "What right've we got to decide that for her?"

"You are of course correct," Belldandy replied immediately.

Urd frowned for a brief moment. "And now that the point's been made this way, you aren't going to want to be healed. Are you?" Both Mimis shook their heads. "That's what I thought." She turned back to Belldandy. "I don't know what we're doing here, then. Now that I've seen her up close, I don't have any questions to ask."

"Well," James said looking at the others around them. "Honestly I really have only one question that I would like answered, and I am pretty sure it is high up in everybody else's lists." With that he turned to the Mimis, "What the bloody hell were you thinking, and did you consider what it might have done to those who were casting the duplication spell?" Through the question James did not raise his voice nor growl like he normally did when angry, the tone was flat and near emotionless while his face went from pleasant smile to grimace in the space of two words.

"She didn't want to be alone," said Ben, his voice cutting through the conversation despite his soft tone.

"What?"

"Think about it," said Ben. "It's just like my SI in Being You is Suffering. Your entire life has been ruined, you feel powerless and alone, and then suddenly you find yourself in a world that completely invalidates everything you believe in. Who better to commiserate with than yourself? Sure, being able to pursue both options at the same time sounds like good motivation on the surface... But this goes beyond a simple desire to have your cake and eat it, too. You don't do something that desperate unless you really are that desperate."

Rob looked as if he was about to argue, then sighed deeply. "You're right. Mimi, we can't have this discussion now - I'm still angry. Go get lunch. I'll be along in a few minutes."

Both Mimis virtually bolted for the door, followed at a slower pace by James, Mal, and Misato. Usagi moved to join them but stopped when Rob made a slight motion that she could see but the people leaving couldn't.

Once it was just Usagi, Ben, Rob, Urd, and Belldandy left standing in the room, Rob sighed deeply. Again. "Now what?"

Usagi blinked in confusion. "I don't understand."

"Us grownups need to come to an agreement."

"I'm not a grown-up," Usagi replied. "Not like you."

"Not like us," Rob agreed, "but you have more in common with us than the others do. We're the heavy hitters and the big agents of change in the displacees and managers, at least the ones I know about," Rob answered. "Kinomoto-kun is as powerful as I am and will no doubt become even more powerful as she grows up," (Belldandy nodded in confirmation) "but she doesn't make an effort to change the world. We do. And the way you change the world is one person at a time, making their lives better."

"You think so?" Usagi blushed.

"Of course you do," Urd replied. "But you aren't the only people of power here."

"That's right," Ben added. "Tenchi -" He saw Rob's frown. "Not Tenchi?"

"Tenchi would be happy tending to his farm, and his girlfriends are content to stay with him. And Hyoga's more interested in supporting me than in crusading on her own. Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate, though - they're probably stronger than I am, and they change the course of events as much as we do. You three can tell them that," Rob added, addressing his own coat.

"Stealth operation failed. I'm sorry, my master," Raising Heart said while levitating from her perch under Rob's coat collar.

"How did you know?" Reinforce asked as all three Devices hovered where everyone could see them.

Rob smiled for a brief moment. "Ever since Washuu-chan gave me that nanotech injection and I stopped aching every morning, I've haven't needed to ignore my nerve endings as a matter of course. I felt your weight on my neck. And with you three here as their proxies, the gathering of powerful meddlers is complete." Rob smiled again as he described himself as a meddler.

"You didn't ask us to stay behind to show off, or to talk about our relative power levels," Ben pointed out.

"Right. I wanted to talk about how Usagi changes the world." He paused for a brief moment, then looked Ben in the eye. "Actually, this would be better coming from you than from me." Rob turned from Ben to Usagi. "No meddling with Mimi's soul without her permission. You can be her friend, you can be her comrade-in-arms if she decides to pick up her interest in combat magic, you can even be a shoulder for her to cry on. But you can't change her very self. No Moon Healing Escalation or anything else unless she gives informed consent."

"But why?"

Ben sighed at that. He felt kinda awkward being put on the spot like that, but lately it seemed that more and more often he was the go-to man for dealing with emotionally charged topics. However, what made him sigh wasn't so much being put on the spot, but rather that they were about to cover a topic that would pain Usagi... and, to a lesser extent, himself.

"Believe it or not, Mimi and I seem to have a lot in common. It's for different reasons, probably - though I wouldn't rule out childhood abuse as a possible factor - but using your healing powers on Mimi might do her more harm than good."

"What? But I thought that she had been turned by the Deathbusters!"

"She was," said Ben with sad look on his face. "But the thing is, in order to do that, they had to have something to work with in the first place. Much like how Wiseman used Chibi-usa's resentment of you to turn her into Dark Lady. The Deathbusters used whatever petty hatred was in her heart, and used that to get her on board with them. That's the way it always is in matters like these, and also what's so terrible about it. They didn't simply rape her mind. They got her to consent to it."

Usagi looked stricken. "That... that can't be right. People are fundamentally good... aren't they?"

"Would that it were so," Belldandy replied. "People learn from the examples around them, and most people become good because the people they see are good. But there are always some bad examples, and, unfortunately, some people see more of those than the good examples."

"She might not have been exposed to anything evil before she was turned," Rob replied. "It might have just been a collection of small annoyances. Maybe she lost one boyfriend too many and the Deathbusters preyed on her jealousy."

"She did target good-looking men."

Rob nodded. "That she did. Assuming that's what they did, Mimi still has that core of jealously. If you bring it back to the surface..."

"Oh! Oh. But couldn't I cure that at the same time, the way I did with Kooan and her sisters?"

Belldandy frowned at Usagi's question. "If you were to do that, would Mimi still be Mimi?"

"Usagi could just keep on trying until she got it right," Urd replied. "She has enough power. And all it would cost is a little bit of Mimi's sanity to have gone through the process so many times."

"That's terrible!"

"You're right," Urd replied. "Which is why I phrased it that way."

Rob rolled his eyes. "It looks to me like you're taking after your own mother there, milady Urd."

She sniffed in indignation. "If you're going to be insulting, I'm leaving."

Belldandy smiled slightly. "We really do need to return to Yggdrasil. Until we meet again!" And the two goddesses made their exits.

"Readings captured," Bardiche announced.

"Of the goddesses' dimensional teleportation ability?"

"Yes sir."

Rob grinned. "I hope you can learn something from them. Because that would be something to see - Fate-chan teleporting all over the battlefield."

"Oh, I want to do that, too!"

"Don't you already have Sailor Teleport?" Ben asked.

"That's not really a combat ability," Rob replied. "Maybe Kuroko can give Usagi some pointers, though."

"And maybe Mako-chan can give me some lunch, too?"

They all laughed, save for Raising Heart and Bardiche. "Let's go eat."

On the way out, Usagi asked Rob, "You're not angry any more?"

"Not as much as I was, but it'll take me a while to cool off completely. Ask me again after lunch."


Next time: Lunch! And then Skating! And maybe even a Big Reveal!
It's been a while, so recap time during the promised lunch. Skating will have to wait a bit.


Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
12:24 PM ET



Meanwhile, metaphorically squeezed into the original building's common room...

"What is this?"

Ryoko turned to Ayeka. "Haven't you ever seen a sandwich before, princess?"

"I know what a sandwich is. Sasami-chan and I have made sandwiches for Tenchi-dono in the past. It's what is on the sandwich that I don't recognize."

"That's sweet new peas and brown gravy, Masaki-sama," Makoto replied as she put a plate down in front of Mihoshi. "Only the best for our visitors!"

"Gravy? On a sandwich? How am I supposed to eat it?"

Ryoko grinned. "You could try putting it in your mouth. You know, like every other sandwich."

Ayeka's eyes narrowed. "That look on your face tells me you know more that you're letting on." She looked over to Mihoshi, and saw that the Galaxy Police officer was eating her sandwich and the accompanying french fries with a knife and fork. "Oh, yes, of course that is how you eat this sort of sandwich."

There was a different concern farther down the table. "Is the crust supposed to still be on the bread?" Osaka asked.

"I don't know..."

"Of course it is," Mii answered before Yomi could continue. "Don't waste food! Especially not in the middle of winter, when there's snow on the ground and you can't get more food easily. You won't even notice with all the gravy on top."

Yomi nodded. "That does make sense. Is this a low-calorie gravy?"

Mii grinned. "Let me answer this way: You're going to be skating this afternoon, so you'll work off all the extra calories."

"That's what I was afraid of." Yomi did her best to make sure the french fries beside her sandwich didn't have any gravy on them.

The size of the serving was a concern at the next table over. "That's a lot of french fries," commented Sakura (who had removed her hard-hat to be polite).

"Mr. Donaldson said something about 'carb loading' being good for people who were going to be doing a lot of exercise," Maika answered as she added a few more fries to Sakura's plate and put a bowl of fries on the table between Sakura and Tomoyo. "He also said that the french fries taste even better with gravy and salt and pepper on them."

"I don't know about that," Hayate commented from across the table, "but I'll eat the potatoes if you don't want them. I'm still building up my leg muscle mass, and it looks like my kind of magic takes more calories than yours does anyway, so I need the extra food."

And near the far end of that table, the nature of the sandwiches was an issue.

"I would be willing to eat just bread."

"Don't worry, Ms. Ayanami," replied Ami as she reached for one of the plates that Makoto had set aside especially for their vegetarian visitors. "We expected that somebody would prefer to not eat chicken. This sandwich is tofu, with onion gravy instead of chicken gravy. And the potato sticks are baked, not fried; there's no chance of them having come into contact with grease."

"Thank you for being considerate," Rei replied, the ghost of a smile dancing on her lips.

Ruiko grinned and looked up from the end of the table. "The party wouldn't be at all fun if somebody was left out!"

"It would be more fun if everybody was here," Shinji commented.

"Don't pay attention to other redheads!"

"You're not jealous, are you, Asuka-san?" The smile on Rei's face developed more character to accompany her comment.

"What reason would I have to be jealous?"

Ami smiled... after she was certain that none of the EVA pilots could see her. Then she noticed the youngest Misaka Sister and Accelerator at the common room's doorway; she waved to them and pointed out two empty chairs.

Mimi smiled and nodded while Accelerator tilted his head slightly in the smallest-possible acknowledgment of Ami's greeting. They sat down between Saber and Rin. "I trust that you have not been punished unduly?" Rin asked.

"Well, maybe, Mimi Misaka answers. I have to think about what I did to Mimi-neesan, Mimi Misaka adds."

"That's worse than a physical punishment, or having to miss an enjoyable event," commented Saber. "It is, however, the action that will lead to the best long-term results, assuming you think about the right things. If you wish to talk with me about your punishment, I would be willing to help you after lunch."

"Thanks, Mimi replies quietly."

A few minutes later, the twinned Mimis walked in - slowly. "How are you?" Touma asked with some concern.

"We're okay," they replied in unison. "We didn't get yelled at," one Mimi continued.

"But I kind of wish we did," added the other.

"Then it would be over and done with."

"And we wouldn't need to worry about what's going to happen later."

Touma winced in sympathy. "Yeah. The anticipation sucks."

"Touma!" Index put her knife and fork down. "Mind your language around young ladies. It's bad enough when you use those words when talking to me, but to use them when talking with innocent young women is even worse!"

"I'm not innocent," both Mimis said quickly.

"Let me decide that," Index countered with a slight air of superiority. "What did you do that you think is so bad?"

"I killed my co-worker so that I could take her job."

Index's jaw dropped. After a moment, she recovered and replied, "That is bad, yes. You know yourself - yourselves, better than I do."

Touma grabbed the nearest bowl of french fries. "Want more?"

Index glared at him. "Don't think that you can distract me by appealing to my base appetite, Touma!" She continued talking while helping herself to a plateful of french fries. "I have taken holy vows! But it would be rude to Kino-san if I were to refuse to partake in her meal, so I have no choice but to accept. Don't think I enjoy this," she finished just before enjoying eating a forkful of fries.

"Here," Makoto whispered as she put plates in front of both Mimis. "Hot chicken sandwiches."

"Thanks. Why are you whispering?" they replied at the same volume.

Instead of answering, Makoto glanced quickly at Index.

"Oh." One Mimi took a drink of water, then muttered, "I was expecting more of Mr. Rhodes's hot chocolate."

"Ben said that's for after skating," Makoto replied.
Eventually, the last holdouts joined the luncheon. Ben headed for the seat that Nanoha and Fate had kept open between them, bringing their and Hayate's Intelligent Devices with him. Usagi sat beside Mamoru, and Rob ... noticed that they had failed to take into account the possibility that somebody would Twin herself. "Guess I'll stand," he muttered. Then he noticed that the Mimi Hanyus were playing rock-paper-scissors between bites, each repeatedly throwing the same hand as the other. "Mimi, stop playing with yourself during lunch."

Jayne snickered. Some of the others rolled their eyes.

"Okay, that came out wrong. What is so important about jan-ken-pon that it can't wait until you've finished lunch?"

They both looked up at him. "Winner gets to decide whether to stay or go."

"Go where?" asked Kaname, while Asuka looked over with obvious concern.

"Hollywood!"

Asuka immediately lost interest in the conversation.

"Good idea," snarked Brent. "This town isn't big enough for both of you."

"It does have a place for universally-displaced people to live, though," rejoined Rob. "Wherever could Ms. Hanyu possibly find some place like that in L.A.?"

Some of the more comically-aware people in the room looked at Tomo - who refused to say anything. She knew better than to interrupt somebody else's routine. Brent nodded slightly, once, in appreciation. "Well, if you put it that way, I suppose we could find a cot for her in a corner somewhere."

"A cot? I'm sure we could find a bedroom for her," Akira answered in a pleasant voice, showing the smile that gondola passengers loved and apprentice gondoliers had learned to fear.

Brent took the hint and dropped the impromptu comedy routine. "Yes, we can find room for another tenant. Maybe somebody who's in an apartment by herself would like an apartment-mate."

"Good thing you said 'herself'," Shaoran said quietly.

"But that can wait until after we've gone skating," Brent finished.

"And skating waits until after we've finished lunch!" Makoto added while wheeling out a waiter's caddy filled with plates of sweets. She took a plate off the top shelf and placed it in front of Mikoto, taking away the plate that no longer held a sandwich and fries.

"What kind of Cthulhoid monstrosity is that?" Touma asked upon seeing the confection.

Makoto frowned at Touma. "If you don't want a raindrop cake, just say so."

"Pray tell, just what is a raindrop cake?" Rin asked.

"A little something I learned how to make from the Japanese community here. It's mostly clear gelatin, with a dusting of kinako. The pattern inside is made from condensed milk."

"I'll try one!"

Makoto grinned. "Of course you will, Konori-san," she replied, knowing her apartment-mate's preferences in sweets and drinks.

"I'll have to decline," said Rei Ayanami quietly.

"Why?"

Chiyo-chan looked up at Makoto. "Gelatin is made from collagen."

"What is coll- no, don't tell me. I think I can figure that out on my own." Makoto turned back to Rei. "I'm so sorry. I didn't realize."

Completely deadpan, Rei replied, "That's all right. I'm sweet enough already."

"And I'll wait until after I've eaten my sandwich," Rob added before anybody could react. "Don't wait for me, everyone; I'll grab a seat in the kitchen and eat there."

"No, you won't," Ami said as she stood up. "Take my chair. I'll save my dessert for after we come back from skating."

"If you insist...?"

"Please."

Food was distributed and eaten, and the Mimis continued to play with themselves until one of them finally threw rock when the other threw paper. The winner looked at her twin, then at Brent, then at Minako and the other Sailor Senshi... then leaned over to the other Mimi and said "Break a leg. I'm staying here."

The other Mimi's grin threatened to split her face open. "Thank you!" Then she looked around at everyone else. "Ano... could somebody lend me a suitcase, please?"

"Our clothes are still in their bags," the other Mimi pointed out. "Didn't you see that they were in the other building's common room too?"




To be continued ... eventually with skating, really!
It's "eventually".



Blossom Apartments, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
12:57 PM ET


"Why don't we both go skating like this, Mako-chan? It'll be fun!"

Makoto looked at Eternal Sailor Moon for a long moment. "Is Hyoga-san going to show off her wings, too?"

"Oopsie!" Usagi transformed from Eternal Sailor Moon to Sailor Moon. "So much happened today that I forgot which form I was in. Is this better?"

Makoto nodded, then grinned. "Sure, let's pretend to be cosplayers today."


Somewhere in Russia
Same time

"I just had the strangest feeling."

"We don't have time to talk about strange feelings - the tournament in Japan is only two months away. And you still need to polish that 'transformation' in the middle of your routine. Get back onto the ice, Evgenia; I'll start the music from the beginning."


Blossom Apartments
Same time

"Let me put the leftovers in the fridge before we go," Makoto continued.

"We have leftovers? After how much we served everyone?" Usagi couldn't believe they'd reached the end of a meal and there was still food left over.

Makoto grinned sheepishly. "That's my fault. I bought enough to feed everyone... then you and Sakura duplicated it."

"I guess we're having leftovers tonight, ne?" Then Usagi grinned. "Can I have another one of those -?"

"Not if you want to go skating any time soon, you can't."



Meanwhile, Rob was chatting with some of his guests when Mii caught his attention. "Excuse me," he apologized before walking over to her. "What's up?"

"Did somebody order a tour bus?"

"Why?"

"One just pulled up. Empty, except for the driver."

"I'd better go take a look at it, then." He stepped out into the lobby, grabbed his coat, and headed outside to discover a bus, not quite big enough to hold everybody, with "Funtom Tours" painted on the side. Rob nodded to himself as he walked to the bus door, which opened to reveal Sebastian, with a large box filled with pairs of skates sitting on the seats immediately behind his. "Why am I not surprised that you're driving?"

"Hello to you too. And you're welcome."

"Yeah. Thanks. I assume this is coming out of the operating budget for this month."

Sebastian smiled a toothy grin. "You assume correctly."

Rob sighed. "Yeah, we can settle that later. I am happy you're here, though - that leaves me with a lot fewer trips to make carrying people in the building's minivan."

"What's the route?"

Rob thought for a minute, then pulled out his cellphone and started the map app that Kazari had customized from OpenStreetMap. "A bus this big won't fit on the side streets where most people get dropped off - it'll have to be at the National Arts Centre." He traced the route on the screen. "Be sure to point out Vincent Massey Park, the Agricultural Museum, and the Museum of Mature along the way."

"I'm a driver, not a tour guide."

"Right. We have tour guides."

Sebastian's toothy grin re-appeared. "You're going to make your guests work? There's hope for you yet."

Rob frowned, then thought for a quick moment. "All right, we have one tour guide. She'll ride with you and point out the sights. I'll take a few people in the van and lead the way."

A few minutes later, Rob had tracked down Usagi. "But I don't know anything about being a tour guide!"

He sighed. "Weren't you undercover as a tour guide when you met Rei?"

"Oh, yeah. Hey, Luna, where's the Disguise Pen?"



Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
1:21 PM ET


"Rob-oji, how can you be so sure Mimi isn't Mimete?"

He didn't turn to look at Minako - he was busy driving. "You never wear the glasses that Skuld gave us."

"I don't need glasses. And what does that have to do with Mimete?"

"The glasses let their wearer see what's really in front of them. Mii and I find them very useful, and so does Ami when she wears hers. We're getting good at spotting sluagh and other things that can't be seen with normal eyes."

"So?"

Mii decided to join the conversation. "That includes the thing that was possessing Mimi. We saw it leave her body, and we saw you destroy it. It's gone."

Kuroko decided to weigh in. "Unless there was more than one thing possessing her."

"Urd said she was clean," Rob pointed out.

Minako frowned. "Urd has been known to lie."

Rob clenched the steering wheel as he pulled over to the side of the road. "We're here," he said through tight lips without taking his hands or eyes off the steering wheel. "Cross the road at the temporary crosswalk, head down the steps, and put your skates on in the hut on the ice. We'll finish this discussion later."

Mii waited until everyone else was out of the van. "Do you think they're looking for reasons to distrust Mimi?"

"Yes," he all but growled. "And I'm getting angry again."

"Right. Move over. I'll drive back."

He finally turned to look at her. "You were looking forward to trying skating."

"I can do that any time. Right now, you're in no shape to drive."

Rob sighed. "Thanks." Then he had a second thought. "You aren't doing this because you want to get closer to me, are you?"

Mii shook her head quickly. "No!" Then she calmed down. "Maybe I would have three weeks ago, but now I just want to help out a friend."

Rob smiled - only slightly, because he was still angry with Kuroko and Minako, but a smile nonetheless. "We're still friends? Thank you." He got out of the driver's seat and walked around the van, tossing the keys to Mii who was walking in the opposite direction. "Better hurry; Sebastian's almost here with the tour bus. And I should apologize to Kazari the next time I see her."

"Why?"

"I raised my voice when she implied you and I were still closer than friends, earlier today," he answered while closing the door and doing up his seat belt.

"That explains her bad mood this morning," Mii replied while starting the van's ignition. Rob chose not to enlighten her as to the other circumstances in play at the time.



Rideau Canal Skateway, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
2:13 PM ET


Some of the residents and visitors were better skaters than others. A few decided to stay at Blossom to help Touma, Index, Accelerator, and Mimi Misaka move into their new apartments rather than risk frostbite.

Then there were the people who thought they could handle skating...

"Hey! Watch it!"

"Oof!" Ruiko hit Mikoto, then hit the ice.

Kuroko gasped, then angrily said, "I cannot believe you! How dare you, Saten-san! Nobody gets to do that to onee-sama except me!"

Kazari looked as if she was about to cry. "I thought you... How could you... With Misaka-san, of all people..." She turned and skated off.

"What?" Then Ruiko realized where her hand was. Letting go of Mikoto's skirt, she added, "Oh, no. I'm so sorry. Misaka-san."

Mikoto sighed as she readjusted her clothing. "And Kuroko wonders why I still wear shorts under my skirt."

Then there were the people who were willing to help others learn how to skate.

"People do this for fun?"

Sakura smiled at Mimi Hanyu's question. "It is fun! It isn't exactly like in-line skating, but it's close."

"How many times have I fallen down?"

Noike offered her arm to Mimi, and helped her steady herself once she was back on her feet. "We have no idea. Nobody counts, when you're still learning."

Then there was the smallest group of displacees: the people who were both skilled and graceful at the sport.

Makoto and Usagi - or, rather, Sailor Jupiter and Sailor Moon - were skating along, weaving back and forth so that sometimes Makoto was on Usagi's left and sometimes she was on her right. It didn't take them long to notice that there was a crowd just watching them... and commenting on how much they looked like the "Sailor Scouts".

"I keep forgetting how famous we are."

Makoto nodded. "Ami told me about how everybody in the Windsor group knew her name."

Tomoyo skated by, careful not to disrupt the pattern that the Senshi had going, then turned around and trained her camera on the two of them while skating backward. While Sakura wasn't taking part in this particular skating routine, Tomoyo knew that her closest friend would want to see Usagi's performance on ice. After a minute and a half, she turned the camera off, waved to the older girls, then changed course to head back to Sakura... passing Mihoshi doing pirouettes on the ice. "I didn't know that you were so good at skating, Mihoshi-san."

"Oh, I'm not very good. Not compared to everybody else in my family! We live on a planet that has winters a lot like this winter, so we need to learn how to skate in case our hovercars break down or run out of power and we need to go home on foot. Sometimes we have to skate for kilometers! Or at least sometimes I have to skate for kilometers. Don't tell anybody that I forget to charge my hovercar sometimes, okay?"

And, finally, there were the displacees and managers who knew how bad they were at skating but were giving it a try anyway.

"Come on, Sosuke!"

"I'm unfamiliar with this mode of transportation, Kaname-san."

Tessa skated over and held Sosuke by one arm. "I'll just have to teach you, then," she said with a grin.

Kaname glared at Teletha. "Tessa... I was teaching him!" She then took Sosuke by his other arm.

Sosuke was not completely oblivious to the situation he was in. "I appreciate the assistance that both of you are giving me," he stated in an attempt to get the two girls to work together instead of putting his health at risk. Amazingly, it worked. The three of them skated, slowly, past Fate and Nanoha - Fate was skating backwards, helping Nanoha keep her balance until she was comfortable, and both were carefully not watching Ben and the other Mimi Hanyu leaning on each other for support as they tried to make their way down the ice in a straight line.

"I wanted to say thank you, for earlier."

Ben gave Mimi a wan smile. "It's okay. To be honest, I've kinda been there before myself. No real need to thank me because I just said what I felt needed to be said."

"Even so... do you want to get a coffee or something?" She nodded toward the closest hut that had been placed on the canal's bed before the freeze.

Ben paused and looked at Mimi thoughtfully. "We could, but I feel it's best that I head this off."

"What's wrong?" quailed Mimi, the hurt evident in her eyes.

"It's not you, Mimi, it's me."

"What?" she said as her train of thought derailed like proverbial train wreck.

"I wouldn't be good company for you," said Ben. "I mean, sure, we'd get along alright. But the fact is that I have issues that I'm trying to work out. I barely survived my own childhood because my step-father took every opportunity to tell me how much of a failure I was. And for a long time I honestly believed it. I know that it's wrong to think like that, but depression and anxiety are about as far from logical as you can get before it starts to circle back around again. And right now? You don't need someone like that in your life. It'd be like the blind leading the blind. I am very sorry about this. I would love to... But I don't want to accidentally hurt you. You've already been hurt enough."

"Does this have anything to do with those two girls?" asked Mimi defiantly, pointing at the two young combat mages who were now skating side-by-side.

"A bit," admitted Ben sheepishly. "The thing is that you'd have to learn to get along with those two, because they won't settle for anyone else but myself and each other."

"But why those two? They're so young!"

"Fate and I have a lot of common ground. We're both victims of child abuse, and I've been helping her to avoid the same pitfalls that I ran into. And Nanoha... I'll put it bluntly. She's a lesbian and yet she went head over heels for me."

Mimi's eyes went as wide as saucers. "What!? But... how!?"

Ben shrugged helplessly. "Sometimes, some people just suddenly click. There aren't any words - you just see each other and it's like being struck by lightning. And that's what happened. We just looked at each other and it was like the whole world suddenly stopped. The fact that I help bring her closer to Fate by articulating her anxieties into something Nanoha can understand is just icing on the cake."

"I meant 'how can somebody that young have a sexual identity already,' but..." Mimi slumped in defeat. "You're right. There's no way I can compete with that."

"Well, we can still talk if you ever want to."

Mimi looked at him in surprise. "But you said we'd be bad together."

"As a couple, we'd be bad. But as a support group? That would be a lot better. That way we can talk about what's eating us without romance to get in the way. Because if we were involved with each other? We'd avoid topics that need to be discussed because we're too worried about harming the relationship. And I think you can imagine how bad that would be."

"Ugh, you're right," said Mimi. "Do you ever get tired of being right?" she asked, semi-crossly, semi-playfully.

Ben scoffed. "More than you think. It's like that scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex is breaking out and Ian Malcolm goes, 'Boy, do I hate being right all the time.'"

That got Mimi to giggle. "I can almost picture you in that scene."

Ben scoffed, this time in amusement. "God, that'd be so typical for me at this point. 'Yeah, everything was just dandy up until a frickin' dinosaur showed up.'"

Since Ben was ignoring the coffee huts that had been placed along the side of the canal before the water froze, he didn't notice just how special one of the huts was. But the hut didn't go unobserved.

"Hey, Brent, buy me a hot chocolate!"

He looked at Tomo skating over to him. They were both wobbling on their skates, but had passed the stage of falling over every two or three minutes. "If you want a hot chocolate, why can't you buy it yourself?"

"Canadian money doesn't exist."

"I'm pretty sure that it does..."

"Nope! Chiyo-chan told me that Canadian quarters have reindeer on them, but reindeer don't exist, so Canadian money doesn't exist either. I can't have something that doesn't exist, can I?"

"Are you still on about that?" Brent remembered a certain scene from her high school life.

"On about what? I'm just a baka ranger, I have, like, no idea what these foreign monies are about and stuff." Tomo had already spent too long in Southern California.

"Don't be a loonie. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that Ben brought hot chocolate to share with everybody after we get back to the apartment building. Buildings. Why do you want some now?"

"I want to see if they have a frequent buyer program."

"What, like 'buy nine and the tenth one is free'? We aren't going to be here that long."

Tomo grinned. "More like 'buy fifty and get a free persocom'."

"I told you when you moved in: nobody makes persocoms here."

"Oh, really?" Tomo pointed at one of the huts, just past where River was lazily skating a figure-eight into the ice. "Then explain that."

Brent looked at the hut and read the name on the signboard above the order window: Chiroru. "Well, what do you know? We'd better go get some hot chocolate."

They skated over - slowly - and joined the line at the order window. It only took then three minutes to reach the front of the line, where they were met by what looked like a blonde girl Tomo's age, wearing odd hair ornaments. "What may we serve you?"

"Two hot chocolates, please," Brent replied.

"That will be six dollars."

While Brent gave the girl the money, Tomo asked, "Where do you sell hot chocolate when there's no skating going on?"

A young man behind the counter answered before the girl could. "We have a small restaurant in the business sector at the south end of St. Laurent Blvd. Our address is printed on our cups." He handed two of those cups, each filled with hot chocolate, to Brent.

"Thanks."

"My pleasure!"

Brent handed one of the cups to Tomo as they skated away from the hut. "It looks like you were right."

"I'm always right! You should know that by now. And those two were obviously Chii and Hideki."

"Just like you were right about reindeer, Tomo-chan."

Tomo glared at Brent.

"Hey, it was actually funny, even if it wasn't the funny you were going for."

"Yeah, real funny to be Reindeer Girl to the world."

"I don't pretend to know what it's like to have your life out in public like that. But everyone else is so worried about their own mistakes they don't even notice little things like that."

"You noticed."

"Umuh..." Brent took a sip of cocoa to gather his thoughts, "I also noticed that you're only a fool when you want to be. The rest of the time, you're as smart as Yomi."

Her tone was harsh, but her body language was much happier. "So, I'm smarter than you then?"

"You're a hundred years too early for that, girl!"

Tomo claimed her points in her latest competition, "I spotted them first."

"You sure did. We'd better keep these cups, and give them to Rob later."

"One for Rob, one for Taeko. This is pretty good chocolate."

Standing on an overpass near the hut, Rob and Taeko both sneezed. Then they looked at each other for a brief moment, grinned, and went back to using their cameras and zoom lenses to get photos of as many skaters in the impromptu multi-residence party as they could. They weren't skating, but at least they were finally taking part... and they hoped to get photos of everybody to show off at the end of the day.



Ottawa, ON, Canada
Saturday, January 14, 2017
5:44 PM ET

Cocoa had been sipped, chilled feet had been warmed, and photos and movies had been shared. But by mutual consent, the visitors from American apartments were going to have supper back at their own homes, not in Ottawa.

"It's time."

Mimi and Mimi looked at Rob and Brent. Then they turned back to each other.

"We haven't known each other for very long, so why am I so sad that you're leaving?"

"We've known each other our whole lives. I don't want to go... but I can't stay."

Mimi sighed deeply. "You're right. We can't pretend to be twin sisters. But keep in touch - I want to know what it's like to be a Hollywood star, even if it's just through your eyes."

"Our eyes. And I will. I'll let you know my address as soon as I know it."

Rob cleared his throat. "I hope you mean email address, because we already know where you're going to hang your hat."

"I don't have a hat. I need to buy a hat."

"It's a figure of speech," Brent said before Rob could reply. "You can stay with us until you hit it big; we still have some bedrooms available. I'll help you get a legal ID, somehow, and then you can get a job and an internet account."

"About that..." Rob grabbed two stacks of paper from the table and walked over to stand beside both Mimis while he continued talking. "You have appointments Monday morning to go pick up 'replacement copies'" - everybody could hear the air-quotes - "of your ID cards, courtesy of HAL 9000. SSN, birth certificate, and California ID for you, and SIN, birth certificate, health card, and Ontario photo ID for you. You just need somebody who already has ID to vouch for you." Rob looked at the stacks of paper in each hand, crossed his arms in front of his torso, and handed a stack to each Mimi.

"Oh, in that case, there might be a problem," Brent replied, completely deadpan. Then, seeing the Mimi who was leaving with him freeze in panic while putting her paperwork in her bag, he quickly added, "I won't be in Ottawa on Monday." As Mimi and everybody else smiled, Brent continued, "No driver's licenses?"

"We don't know how to drive," the Mimis said in unison. The LA-bound Mimi continued, sadly, "That was Eudial's special skill."

"It's a pretty common skill here," replied Rob, "and I've been lead to believe it's even more common in Los Angeles." Brent nodded at that. "You'd better learn."

"I suppose we'd better," the Mimi who was staying in Ottawa replied. Then she turned and looked into her own eyes. "Knock 'em dead, me."

"You too." They hugged... then let each other go.

Tomoyo took Mimi's hand and lead her toward Hollywood, while Usagi took Mimi's had and lead her to her Ottawa apartment.

Rob watched them go, watched the portals close, and sighed quietly.

Ruiko interrupted his contemplative mood. "Rob-oji, wasn't the idea to have everybody sleep over tonight and go skating again tomorrow?"

"We've had a very busy day, Rui-chan. And everybody except the folks from Montreal are used to much warmer weather. You can't blame them for wanting to get out of the cold and into nice warm beds."

"At least we can go skating with Rin and Saber tomorrow," Makoto added. "And this time, Rob-oji and Mii and Maika can come along."

"I'll think about it," Rob replied. Then he turned to Kazari and changed the subject. "We have a project."

"A project? What is it?"

"It's a planned undertaking usually carried out by a group," replied Rob. After a quick moment, he, Mii, Minako, and Nana added "But that's not important right now."

Kazari sighed. "I should have seen that coming. What's the project?"

"We need to wire the two buildings together."

She knew he wasn't talking about the buildings' electrical circuits. "Why not just use wi-fi?"

"Because I don't want our discussions being tapped. I know they're encrypted, but I also know Chii can break standard encryption schemes."

Mii nodded. "And you don't know who else has that capability."

"Ah." Kazari nodded as well. "We'd better get to it."

"Tomorrow is soon enough, while everyone else is skating."

That comment earned Rob a disgruntled look from Ruiko. "So much for thinking about it," she muttered.

Off to the side, Kuroko shuddered. "Sysadmins with screwdrivers. Be afraid."

"Mou..." Kazari's pout was adorable.