Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Fan Fiction ❯ Time For A Change ❯ Time For A Change ( One-Shot )

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Mark leaned hard on the wrench...sometimes he wished that Batou had “trusted his steed” (as he put it) to someone elses' garage. Why did the great ape insist on “checking over” nuts and bolts himself? He only regretted it sometimes though...after all, nowadays, what mechanic got to work on a genuine Lancia Stratos? There were less than 500 of them made back in the late 1970's...God only knew how many were left outside of museums now.
He twisted harder, and the reluctant sump plug on the mid-mounted engine finally released with a sharp click and loosened. From his vantage point under the rare Italian performance car, he watched as the oil drained into the waiting pan. He saw a shadow move near the open garage doors, briefly blocking the sunlight, and wondered if Batou was back early to pick up the car...too bad, he'd have to don't rush a craftsman.
He slid out from under the car, and stood, wiping his hands on a rag. Looking around the cluttered workshop, he didn't see anyone...puzzling. Then, in the darkness at the back of the shop, he saw a tall figure standing near the workbench along the back wall. He didn't immediately recognise the person, but the figure looked familiar.
“Can I help you?”
The figure moved out into the light, and he saw it was a woman he had met a couple of times in the past when Batou had dropped off his Lancia. He tried to remember the name...Kusanagi?
“I'm not are Mark Burnett? We've met several times before, but only casually.”
Now Mark remembered was kind of hard to forget a shapely woman who dressed like she usually did. Batou had called her “Major” a few times...must be something to do with the police department they were associated with...although Batou didn't really go into many details about what exactly he did for a living. Mark had been in the military in his younger days...he knew that sometimes you can't talk about your real job. Getting away from that part of his life, not to mention the memories that usually only he shared with Batou over a drink about those days, had been part of why he moved to Japan in the first place.
“Major Kusanagi...what are you doing here? If you want to pick up Batous' car, it won't be ready for another hour or so...I don't like to be rushed.”
She walked back towards the workbench, and leaned against it, arms crossed. Mark thought she looked a little concerned about something. He decided not to push...he didn't really know the woman very well anyway, so he decided not to pry. He also noticed that she was dressed in jeans, what appeared to be a loose mens shirt, and a denim jacket...very unlike what she was normally dressed in, which disappointed him a little...hey, she might be a cyborg, but he would like to meet the mechanic who put her together and shake his hand.
She finally looked up at him, still looking a little “off”.
“No, Batou said he will probably be by tomorrow, he's on an assignment for me today. I just wanted to come and ask you something.” it was Mark's turn to be puzzled.
“Sure, go ahead Major.” She walked towards the door of the garage.
“Would you like to come out and join me for coffee somewhere?” Mark didn't know what to say for a moment, but then shrugged.
“Sure, why not. Would you like to take my car? Any excuse to give one of them a run.” The Major nodded happily.
“That would be great, I've noticed your old cars sometimes at Batous' place...amazing that you can keep them running after all this time...some of them must be fifty years old.” Mark thanked her for the compliment. They left the garage, walking past the car the Major had arrived in, a plain-looking red four door sedan which did nothing for Mark...anonymous and bland, like most modern cars. Oh sure, it might be powerful, and no doubt it had some great modifications if it was part of the police fleet, but it was still “ordinary” and common, like a thousand others on the road.
Mark opened the passenger door of the prize of his small collection, an old 1980's Ferrari 308GTB, and gestured for the Major to enter the car. She smiled demurely and got in. Mark entered the car and started it up, listening to the rumble of the old engine, still good as new. As they pulled away into the traffic, the Major looked over at him.
“Mr Burnett, do you know how long it is since someone opened a door for me? I guess I've become...less of a most peoples' eyes.” Mark smiled.
“God damn, you certainly look like a woman to me! By the way, call me Mark.”
The Major lowered her head, and smiled again.
“Thank you...I don't get compliments very often least not from a gentlemen. And call me Motoko.” Mark nodded and pulled the car into a coffee shop.
As they sat drinking their coffee, Mark was still a little puzzled as to why she had asked him here. After some small talk, Motoko finally looked him in the eye.
“Mark, Batou trusts you...I know you have been in the military and know how to keep a I'm going to trust you with some information.” ,and for the next hour she told him her life story. Mark sat in rapt attention...he was completely human, and was always fascinated by the world he now lived in where people could get parts replaced like he replaced components of the old cars he worked on.
“So Motoko, why tell me all this?” She again looked down at her coffee, and when she spoke, it was in a hesitant, quiet tone.
“I need a friend...someone outside the department...and, forgive me, someone who is just a human. I work most of the time with people like myself, augmented people, cyborgs, even those damn Tachikomas...I need someone I can talk to, someone ordinary, to help me keep my feet on the ground.” Mark smiled and put on a hurt expression.
“Oh, so I'm just someone ordinary am I? Just a basic model human with no mods?”
Motoko looked up with a concerned look on her face.
“Oh no Mark...I didn't mean it like that, I'm sorry.” ,and she put her hand on his. Mark looked uncomfortably at her for a moment.
“Motoko, you have to get a sense of humor.” ,and she took her hand away quickly and sipped her coffee.
“Sorry, I live so seriously sometimes. I shouldn't have grabbed your hand like that...I could see it made you uncomfortable.” Mark sat back and smiled.
“No, I should apologise for's just that it isn't very often that stunningly beautiful women ask me out for coffee, much less grab my hand.” Motoko looked into her coffee. Her expression changed to one of annoyance.
“I'm not a woman...I'm more machine than human. Relationships are...difficult...for me. I guess I want a human friend who can make me feel...normal. Do you know what I mean?”
Mark was little puzzled, but said he understood. He reached out and took her hand.
“Motoko, you are a woman, I see you as nothing but a one who's seen you in your...usual...outfit would deny that. Is that why you're wearing those drab clothes? To try and make people see you as a person and not some object?” Mark immediately regretted using the word “object”, like she was some mechanical appliance. However, she didn't seem to notice. She nodded.
“The only response I get from most men, other than my workmates, is lust...either that or smart comments about my figure, or if they realise what I am they say how they'd like to 'work on that' sometime. I can hear everything they say, every whisper. They probably don't feel they need to be polite to me because I'm not real. It makes me sometimes doubt I'm a woman at all. You know, I could have my brain put into any sort of body...I sometimes wonder if this shape was a good choice. Who'd want a serious relationship with a machine?”, and to Marks' surprise, he thought he saw an actual tear in her eye. He felt her hand squeeze his...almost too tight...god she was strong. She saw his response, and loosened her grip. He noticed however she didn't let go. Mark didn't really know what to do...was she coming on to him? Or did she just really need a friend to unload everything on? He was realistic enough to know he wasn't the best looking guy in the world...while he was fit for a thirty-five year old, he certainly wasn't built like the other musclebound guys he knew she worked with...he guessed 'average' described him well...average looks, average build, average house, average life...and, frankly, looking like she did, the Major could do far better if she was looking for a companion.
After leaving the coffee shop, they returned to his workshop, and he asked her in as he went to change back into his overalls.
“So, this is your house...I've never been inside. How long did it take you to collect this much 20th century stuff?” ,she said as she walked around the room, looking at movie posters, models of cars, boats, and planes. There were even home appliances, and other ordinary everyday items. As she examined a movie poster for Gone With The Wind, she turned her head to look at him.
“If you like old movies, I know someone you'd like to meet, one of my collegues likes old stuff like this...even carries a revolver instead of a modern pistol like this.” ,and she produced a menacing looking automatic handgun from a holster on her belt under her jacket. She checked it over for a moment, then replaced it.
“So Motoko, what else can I help you with. Anything at all.” She sat on a plushly upholstered couch.
“Do you mind if I just hang around...I just feel like being away from work. Is that OK?”
Mark said sure, and told her where the TV controls were and he said he had to finish Batous' car and would be back soon. She said she understood and watched him leave. The Major felt conflicted...she knew she had work to do, she knew she had places to be, but right now she really felt like spending time with a friend...something which was rare in her life...she couldn't really think of anyone she could call a friend. Oh, there were plenty of workmates, she was close to Kusanagi, though the few times she had met his wife, she certainly didn't seem to want her around too long. There were a few collegues outside work, but no real friends. She had turned to Mark because of Batou's constant descriptions of what a great guy he was, a decent honest man, which was becoming a rarity today.
She put all thoughts of work aside, blocked any com link to the outside world, took off her jacket, and settled down in the deep sofa and watched one of Mark's old movies.
In the garage, Mark was troubled...he knew the Major had to be a dangerous woman, from some of the exploits that Batou had hinted at while they sat around the garage late at night drinking beer and talking about their respective military histories and other work they had done. She was an undeniably beautiful who, with her looks, had to be able to turn to any number of friends. Why would she be approaching him? He thought he was probably correct...she wanted an “ordinary” person as a friend.
Mark finished work on the Lancia quicker than he only required a small amount of work this service. He left a message on Batou's service that his car was ready, and just as he hung up his antique 1930's phone (linked via an expensive computer software package to the modern lines), a car pulled up on the street out front, and Batou got out.
“Hey, I just left a message for you...your car is finished.” Batou smiled and shrugged his enormous shoulders.
“Great, I was just stopping by to check how the work was going on my baby.” Mark shook his hand, and Batou grinned broadly. Mark decided not to mention Motoko. Anyway, given their comm links, they must all know where each other was located anyway. Batou gestured to the car outside, and it drove away. They made some small talk, and then Batou mentioned the Major.
“You know Mark, looking around this garage at all these old cars, I sometimes think how much easier your life is than mine. I mean, the know, Kusanagi, has been a bit odd lately...she's been getting really uptight with people, blowing her top at them, really not herself.”, and he ran his hand over the shiny yellow roofline of his Lancia. “I wonder if she needs a tune up herself.” ,and he laughed out loud.
Batou paid him and got into his Lancia, tearing off down the street at speed as the highly tuned engine howled. Mark shut the garage, tidied a few things up, and headed back into the house. It was just after sunset, and when he went into the lounge area, he saw that the TV had an old movie playing, and Motoko was fast asleep on the couch. He didn't know whether he should disturb her...she looked peaceful. He had to admit that he hadn't really known that people like her slept at all. He looked down at her sleeping form, and now that she had her jacket off and was wearing just the sleeveless men's shirt, he could see the “joins” in her arms up near the shoulder, as well as the input output plug panel behind her neck where her violet hair had fallen aside. He hesitated, and reached down and gently felt the “join” mark...her skin was remarkably firm, the join almost like it was painted on...she was warm as well, but it felt just like well toned normal skin to him. So what? Had you expected her to be a cold plastic machine, you idiot? He had of course read a little about what people like her must really be inside...some sort of metal skeleton...maybe one of the newer alloys he had heard of. Muscles and tendons, some sort of fiber bundles he imagined that acted like human muscles, but with far higher endurance and power. Organs? Who knew? He knew that she ate and drank...and Batou could demolish a big prime rib steak with the best of them, he knew from experience. Somewhere in a metal skull was a human brain...the only part of her that was human he supposed, but somehow wired into that body with senses that no ordinary human could imagine. Her didn't know the exact details, but he didn't really want to...she looked like a woman, acted like a woman, that's all that matters. Stop looking at her like a mechanic and look at her like a person. She stirred and he stood and put her jacket over her, deciding to leave her there...if she wanted to stay, he would let her. There seemed an almost wounded bird quality about her at the moment...the few other times he had met her, she seemed highly strung, tightly wound, tough, hard, serious...but now...well, let her sleep peacefully. He shut off the TV and went upstairs to do some paperwork in his office before turning in himself.

The next morning, he awoke early, and walked downstairs to find the Major gone. He had checked and she had still been there when he went to bed earlier the night before. There was a note saying simply “Thanks for being a friend. I'll call later. Motoko.”. Mark shook his head and walked off to get some breakfast.
Later that morning, he was standing at the door of his garage, dressed in black motorcycle leathers, a helmet under his arm...beautiful morning, perfect for a ride on one of his old motorcycles. He turned to scan the line of bikes along the back wall of the garage...what to take...he finally decided to take one of the sports bikes, an old 2003 model Suzuki Hyabusa. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a shimmering in the air, and he turned towards the door. The shimmering turned into a large blue robot that turned to look at looked like nothing so much as a huge blue spider. He staggered back in surprise, dropping his helmet, as the machine tilted to one side and watched his helmet roll across the floor. It then turned to look directly at him. To surprise him even further, it started talking in a high pitched childs voice, waving its' clawed arms and bobbing around excitedly.
“Whatcha doing Mr Burnett? Gee, these are really cool old vehicles, bet they go really great. Mr Batou talks about you all the time. Hey, what's that thing on the that really a telephone? Wow you have a cool place here!”
Then the rear body of the machine opened and Motoko got out, dressed in her 'normal' attire, if you could call the skimpy outfit, tall boots, and combat jacket 'normal'.
“Tachikoma, settle down and behave. Mr Burnett doesn't want to be pestered by you.”
Mark saw the machine droop, almost as if disappointed to be reprimanded by the Major. Now Mark remembered what this thing was a machine, intelligent, but simply a robot...a tank of some kind if he remembered correctly. He'd seen them on the news reports. Motoko walked over to Mark and, surprisingly, gave him a hug, then stood back and looked at his outfit.
“Good morning Mark. Thanks for letting me stay last night. I really felt better after that. Now...why are you wearing those clothes...not exactly normal workshop attire?”
The Tachikoma had picked up his helmet and was happily holding it out for him. He hesitated and then took it then stepped back quickly, saying a quiet thank you to the machine, which seemed to bob happily when he thanked it. He then said hello to the Major. He told her he was going for a motorcycle ride, and she looked at the bikes along the wall.
“I don't think I've ever been on a motorcycle...certainly nothing like this.” Mark thought for a second.
“Why don't you come along? Unless you're busy that is...”
The Major considered a moment, and then smiled broadly.
“Why the hell not. I've had enough of work today. Tachikoma?” ,and the blue machine looked up expectantly. “You return to base, tell Batou I've gone home for the day...urgent business.”
The Tachikoma again sagged as if disappointed, and turned slowly to roll down his driveway, turning to look back once.
“But Major...” ,it said sadly. The Major looked seriously at it, and pointed down the street.
“Awww...OK.”, said the Tachikoma, and it rolled away, cruising quickly off down the road.
The Major grinned and watched it go.
“They can be very useful, but sometimes I wonder about their programming...Batou spoils them.”
Mark wheeled the big sports bike out into the sun, and looked back at the Major.
“So Motoko, do you have a helmet?” She shook her head.
“Don't worry about me.” she replied, slipping on a pair of sunglasses. He shrugged and hopped on the bike, starting it up to listen to the 1300cc engine throb on a fast idle.
The Major hopped on behind him, grasping him firmly around the waist and leaning into his back. She laughed out loud.
“Let's ride!” ,and Mark revved the engine and released the clutch to roar off down the road.

Just before sunset outside the city, Mark was trying to concentrate on riding hard and fast, but it wasn't easy...he hadn't ridden with a pillion for years...especially not a very shapely woman whose curves were pressing into him as he rode, all the while laughing and occasionally reaching down and squeezing his leg with excitement. It was very distracting to say the least.
They had spent the afternoon just taking it easy...visiting a circus, an old fashioned video arcade, a movie theater showing a Marx Brothers movie, and a museum...visiting places at which Mark usually spent his spare time away from his garage, reliving a world that had ceased to exist decades ago. Motoko had loved every minute of her time away from everything high-tech and cyberised.
They eventually reached a small park by the side of the road, looking down over the city and across the bay. Watching the sun setting towards the horizon and glinting prettily off the waters of the bay, they stood side by side in silence for some time, until Motoko turned to look at him, hesitantly taking his hand.
“Mark. Thank you. I've had a wonderful day...I haven't felt like this for a long time. I get so wrapped up in work that I often forget that occasionally I have to make time for myself, and to just let everything go. You've shown me a better time over the last couple of days than I've had for's been...I know this is going to sound's been normal.” Mark smiled...he understood what she meant.
“That's OK Motoko. I understand. I don't mind, I know it's only been a short time, but I've had fun as life hasn't exactly been normal for some time either. I don't know if Batou has mentioned it, but I was married once. That was ten years ago during the war. We were happy, had a nice house...then the attacks started to come closer to home in my country. I did what I thought was right, joined the military, and then while I was away from home, Black Sun detonated a suitcase nuke in my city...I couldn't even go home again...I couldn't even bury my wife. But the brief time I've spent with've made me feel...I don't know...alive again.”
Motoko saw the sadness hidden in his eyes, and didn't really know how to respond.
“Mark. I would like to do something if you don't mind.”, and he felt her hand reach out and stroke behind his neck. When he turned towards her, she surprised him by pulling him close in a warm embrace. He hesitated for a moment, and wrapped his arms around her...she was softer than he expected her to be...and he could feel her breath on his neck, her hair soft against his cheek. She leaned back slightly, and then closed her eyes and kissed him. He was surprised for a moment, then relaxed. She kissed him hard and strong, with obvious passion and total abandon. She was very warm in his arms, her lips hot, her tongue soft. He responded of course, not thinking if she was woman or didn't matter, to him, she was all woman. Finally, after several temperature-raising minutes, she let him go, and they simply stood holding each other, looking into each others words were needed. Finally the Major decided to break the silence.
“Listen, can I come back to your house tonight? I guess we have a lot to talk about...I think the future holds some interesting times for us, yes? For a start, I think both of us could use someone more than a friend in our lives...if you feel the same way I do?”, she asked as Mark felt his mind free itself of doubts. Hell, he'd be an idiot to knock back an offer like that. Looks like they'd both been alone far too long...time for that to change.
He was about to say something, and heard a familiar roar coming down the road. Motoko and Mark, still in each others arms, looked up as Batous' bright yellow Lancia Stratos roared around the bend behind them. As it passed, they could see Batou behind the wheel, doing an almost comical classic double-take, looking at them through the side window as he sped by, a surprised look on his face, mouth hanging open. They also saw a bus coming up the hill towards Batou where he had steered wide in the corner as he watched them.
Batou looked around as the bus blared its horn, and just in time he wrenched the wheel and missed the bus by centimeters, skidding to a stop and crunching into the guard rail near where Mark had parked the bike. He got out and looked, stunned, at Mark and Motoko, then had a look at his car...minor damage only, but the front right wheel was damaged, the tyre shredded and alloy wheel wasn't driving anywhere. He composed himself, then stood upright and ran his hand through his buzz-cut blonde hair.
“So Mark...if you aren't too busy...I think my car needs some work again...I'll leave it in your hands. Erm...hello Major...I'll see you later...”, and he walked off down the hill, whistling casually. He pulled a communicator out of his pocket and spoke into it.
“Tachikoma! I need a ride...come and pick me up on Range Road...look, don't waste time asking me where my car is, just come and get me...”
Motoko and Mark looked at one another again, and laughed. Life had just got a lot more interesting for both of them.