Love Hina Fan Fiction / Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Fan Fiction ❯ Ghost In The Hinata District ❯ Ghost In The Hinata District: Aunties ( Chapter 2 )

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Ghost In the Hinata District: CH2
Chapter 2
Authors note: this was originally only intended to be a one shot, but I got more ideas and fans begged for more, so I thought up some things when I saw the end of GITSAC: 2G and some clips of Solid State Society. Lots of unaccounted for time and angst for Motoko Kusanagi, and reason for her to depend on her new family. If ever a loner needed someone, its her.
Motoko exited the antique railcar in the misty sun of old town Hinata, her home it seemed. She knew Batou was tailing her, not very well. She knew he was in love with her, but she was in love with a man who had died, probably. Losing the Tachikomas had hurt her more than she thought. Their capacity for sacrifice gave her some hope for his plan, however. Maybe some good would come out of the refugee mess. At the verge of annihilation, the peace had finally taken root and the refugees had gained citizenship with full rights. It was a big move for Japan, which had militarized so much to that point it had risked destruction. Backing off, it was now turning inwards, asking itself every day what Japan wanted to be. She walked through town, heading for the familiar glow of the Teahouse. She caught the eye of the flower vendor as she passed the shop front in the midmorning sunshine. The air smelled good, a faint whiff of the ocean, a faint whiff of sakura blossoms up by the Inn. Her cybercomm was a painful hiss of static so she left it mostly off, able to receive only emergency traffic directed to her specifically. Her prosthetic body was the state of the art, the envy of cyborgs everywhere. Still, with the best possible balance of features for combat and general living, she envied her family their apparent invulnerability.
Entering the busy teahouse, Haruka nodded behind the counter, pouring shots of espresso, brewing fancy cups of tea, and otherwise managing her day job like any shopowner of the district. Her record, official and sealed, was deeply impressive. Her connections in the underworld went back to the 1990's. The same with her connection to the outwardly dormant Molmolian islands. A connection she bore in her own body. Her original cyber-brain case was constructed there. Motoko ordered a white tea and waited for Haruka to bring it over. The surge of customers finally caught up, she came forward to sit at the tiny table.
“I notice you have your back to the door,” pointed out her aunt, of a sort. “Thumbing your nose at the soldier again?”
“Keeps him on his toes. Doubt is good for the soul, keeps it from getting complacent,” she offered in response.
“It's good to see you again,” said Haruka, lighting up one of her cigarettes, a pointless act with a cyborg body.
“And you… auntie,” she said uncomfortably, Haruka swatting her over the head with a paper fan.
“Call me Haruka. You're as bad as your father. I can't count how many times I nailed him with this over the years to teach him not to call me obaasan,” she complained.
“I take it your methods proved less than effective, Haruka-san?” teased Motoko, smirking slightly.
“So, you can smile after all? I'm glad. I was beginning to worry you were like my niece Kanako,” grinned Haruka. Motoko turned to the doorway and gestured to the invisible soldier watching from across the narrow street. He flickered into view and trudged inside the ancient building, gaining little notice despite his blank white cyborg eyes.
“Batou, you remember my aunt Haruka? I don't think I properly introduced you.”
“Umm, thank you Major. How long have you known I was back there?”
“Since the hallway outside Aramaki's office. You're not trying very hard. Are you flirting with a superior officer?” teased Motoko.
“Be gentle. Good men are hard to find,” teased Haruka. Batou looked at the woman blackly.
“Thanks. Maybe I'll wait outside after all,” sniffed Batou.
“No, you'll sit here and chat with us, like normal people,” said Haruka, offering him a sturdy chair capable of upholding his considerable weight. He paused at her glare about to object then gave in.
“Besides, my niece likes your company,” she said. “I can tell.” Batou smirked at his boss for once while she looked vaguely embarrassed. More customers walked in, gaijin asking for tea. Haruka seated the upper class clientele in the tea garden in back before returning with a cup for Batou and more hot water for Motoko.
“This is good,” he said, surprised.
“Of course, we've been in business at this site for 300 years,” she said. “So, you were in the Rangers, correct?”
“Yes. The eyes give me away?” he asked. She shrugged. “You were part of the Yakuza, and a treasure hunter with quite a long rap sheet. You're married to Noriyasu Seta, though you kept your name. You have three children and fifteen grandchildren. You converted to a full prosthetic body after a natural gas explosion nearly killed you and use technology to assist in your third child's birth. You spend the majority of your time here, running this teahouse at your longtime home, so you can be near your grandmother and cousin, who calls you aunt. He is Motoko's father, Urashima Keitaro. Did I miss anything?”
“Plenty, but that's enough for public knowledge. Would you care to join us, Aoyama-san?” asked Haruka. The slender swordswoman nodded, seating herself beside Batou and grinned openly at his discomfort. She appeared out of nowhere, without warning.
“You've gotten good at that. Tsuruko would be proud,” complimented Haruka. Motoko Kusanagi scrutinized her namesake, amazed that a fully human person still existed capable of defeating a combat borg, much less destroy one of the tachikomas.
“He's on his way,” she said obliquely, signaling the waitress for a pot of her usual tea. By the time she finished pouring the hot water for the second cup, Keitaro stepped into the teahouse. The waitress scurried out of his reach as he fell, toppling a table.
“You continue to astonish me with your amazing clumsiness, Keitaro,” intoned Haruka. “You have visitors.”
“Sorry,” he apologized. “I've always been this way.” The table he'd fallen on was totally destroyed, along with the pottery. The waitress blushed silently, waiting to clean up his mess but unwilling to get close for some reason. Keitaro picked off some pottery, wiping away some shards with his hands, uncut, unbruised despite the fall in his baggy sweater and glasses. He was the provincial nerd, a stereotype oaf and he was her father. The Major still had difficulty picturing how that was possible despite it being proven fact. She turned to Haruka, rising to help him. Since meeting her father, she'd stopped wearing such obscene clothing, maybe because she no longer felt quite so alone. She'd watched hundreds of tapes of her mother cooking, watched the scandal unfold, seen home movies of her, photo albums when she was a girl, those same eyes staring back into her own. Her mother. Keitaro hugged his daughter gently, somehow understanding.
“She was very good, wasn't she?” she murmured.
“Yes, she was. And very determined. Shinobu was a rare girl, and a rarer woman,” he admitted. “Would you like to walk with me?”
She nodded, following him out of the teahouse.
“I should,” began Batou, trying to excuse himself. Haruka laid a restraining hand on his arm and shook her head.
“Let them be. They're very safe here and they need privacy,” she ordered. He met her gaze, then relented. The Major could always take care of herself, not that it stopped him from trying.
“Maybe you can fill me in on what happened to her. I know your group stopped the war with the refugees.”
“What war?” pretended Batou.
“Come now. You don't think I don't have my own sources, or clearance through channels? The Urashima clan has certain connections. For instance, a certain blonde gaijin,” she said, indicating the doorway to the teagarden, where a slender woman with light blonde hair and very tanned skin stood grinning. Her eyes sparkled with merriment.
“Heyas! You're a Type GH-83 model body, aren't you?” she asked Batou. “Nice going with the mess. Very ballsy negotiating like that. Shame about your tachikoma. They're entertaining though, I'm glad they're so playful. At least that much of me rubbed off on Old Sourpuss,” she gabbed at him, watching as realization dawned.
“You're HER!” he finally exclaimed.
“SHHH!” hissed Su, “It's a secret.” Then she burst out laughing, stamping her heels in glee. He knew she was older than he was, yet she was so vital, so energetic, she defied age or maturity.
“You always said you'd take over the world, Su,” sighed Aoyama Motoko. “Blame us for not believing you.”
“Oh, but everything is going so well, though. Reigning in the madmen has been difficult but things are getting better. And my Kei-kun is still a good man, in spite of it all.”
“Yes, he is,” agreed the swordswoman.
“Why do I feel like I'm Alice in Wonderland having tea with the mad hatter, the march hare, and the doormouse?” asked Batou blankly disbelieving. Suddenly he was trapped in that vision.
“Oh great. You hacked my eyes? No, my whole input. Even the static is gone. I gotta get a better firewall installed,” he said, vision shifting back to reality again just as quickly.
“Su, don't play with the nice man. He's in love with my niece,” reminded Haruka. Batou stared. Su dug into a banana split with a spoon, snorting in derision.
“Good luck with that. Urashimas are very difficult about love. It took me four years to nail Keitaro, though Motoko here got him first,” she grinned, gobbling more ice cream. “That's our son, over there,” she said, grinning to the slightly tan skinned young man who'd accompanied her in.
“I researched what happened in her past. You built the first cyborg body for her, didn't you?” he said.
“Actually, I built the first one to try and mimic Keitaro, but it wasn't strong enough. I kept fiddling with it, using new technologies and materials until I got something nearly as tough. That became the first PKF prosthetic body. While I was working on the upgrades, the accident happened. When I found out that Shinobu died, I was devastated. She was my closest friend, other than Motoko and Keitaro, when I lived here at the Inn. When I found out that Motoko had survived, though near death, I worked hard to see if I could do anything to help. Her condition was bad and we nearly lost her. I became directly involved soon afterwards. She might even remember me, just barely. My creations have helped her remember some of her buried past. I kept the original body, and its twin, a mockup in Machinespace. I built her first body, and her second. As she aged, the technology improved and cyber-enhancements became the main part of my business. I still haven't given up my dream, though. We keep getting closer.” She smiled cryptically, finishing the ice cream. The waitress cleared the empty dishes away. The women nodded to each other, rising from the table.
“It's time. Care to join us, Mr. Batou?” said Su, mimicking the voice of his personal Tachikoma. He twitched, but rose to follow them, wisely keeping surrealist comments to himself. It wasn't his firewall. She'd hacked his cyberbrain from a backdoor, something a designer would have access to. It legitimized her claim, and these people certainly knew who she was. The tanned man, his age, followed along with them.
Looking around the sunny old town, Batou began to think about the place, and wondered at many things which made it strange. His data access was minimal, due to static noise, few packets were getting through. He tried text queries back to headquarters, getting some useful data, like owners of properties, most of which belonged to the Urashima clan through a front corporation. A history of direct ties to the Molmol islands, to Su-Tech, and its better known subsidiaries produced medical robots, cyborg technology, computers, power systems, vehicles, military industrial complex, from the covert to the overt. Su also held a list of major patents which easily breached his expectations. Thousands of unique devices led back to her personally, and tens of thousands more to her companies. Despite this, this bright and cheerfully energetic woman acted like a teenager while her son, Motoko's half-brother, sedately followed, his demeanor the opposite of his mother. Then again, that was half of her charm.
Batou wasn't really equipped to deal with real people. He fought wars and solved mysteries and he loved Motoko in silence, hoping that someday she'd do more than tease him back. He slowly followed the crowd of people towards his boss and her father in the tiny tourist town, its contrary grip on the past displayed in its antique buildings, streets so narrow they were unfit for vehicles, a slower pace of life, really. A slower pace? Is that why they stayed hidden here? Motoko was many things, but a slow pace was not for her. Still, she did like her solitude and contemplation. He'd caught her staring off into space sometimes, particularly during that Cabinet business. Once Kuze died, she'd become more distant and he was starting to worry. If not for family visits like these he'd be more worried still. At least she was talking to someone. There was a crash ahead and a cloud of dust rose. Batou perked up at that and tensed to jump into the fray. A restraining hand paused him.
“Don't. They're playing. Its okay,” warned the swordswoman. Shortly they arrived, seeing Motoko bounding around, blurring and blinking in and out of view as her father, wearing a blindfold fended her off. Batou stared.
“Is that how it was fighting me?” he asked the older woman. She smiled gently.
“Can you blame me for playing?” she asked. He sighed.
“I suppose not. It was humiliating though,” he said. The Major leaped and spun, every blow she tried to land blocked or turned on itself by the man. “How can he do that yet not manage to walk without falling down?”
“It's the family style. Haruka and Kanako know it, and he learned another style from Seta, Haruka's husband. He's had a lot of years to practice. Clumsy is his nature and women around him tend to fall into compromising positions. Despite that, he is a kind and gentle man, very determined. He gave me quite a few children over the years. And we have grandchildren now too,” she giggled. The Major went into a spinning kick to try and throw him around and ended up slung into the air and finally landed on the roof of a building before leaping down and bowing.
“You are quite amazing, Father,” she said. “As an unmodified Natural, you would be quite frightening as an adversary.”
“Thank you Daughter. The body I was born with has proven durable enough to not require replacement.”
“Bet you never survived a plane crash with it,” she snarked.
“Actually, several plane crashes, a blimp crash, car and train crashes, multistory drops, building collapses, earthquakes, several typhoons at sea, and nearly drowned a couple dozen times. My body has broken fences, walls, trees, boulders, and some small buildings. Only really been hurt a couple times. Once I broke my leg falling off the top of the Todai onion, which then landed on me, and I was nearly killed by a lion,” he said, ticking the events off his fingers.
“I…see. Fight any wars?” she finally asked.
“No, Daughter. I'm a Lover, not a Fighter,” he said, holding the pose for a count of five before bursting out laughing, joined by the arriving relatives and her subordinate.
“I'm a Fighter, not a Lover,” she sighed.
“Thank you for saving us, for saving Japan,” he said honestly. She looked at him, waiting for humor but finding only gratitude and… pride?
“I...,” she couldn't think what else to say so embraced her father instead. That's how they found the two of them. Batou cleared his throat uncomfortably.
“Major, we should be getting back,” he reminded. Motoko sighed in defeat.
“Yes, you're right.”
“Not quite yet, Niece,” said a blonde-haired gaijin woman. She stepped from the crowd and stood before her. Motoko paused, examining the woman, feeling the strangest sensation. Almost like memory.
“Perhaps a reminder then,” said the woman, mouth not moving, words echoing in Motoko's head. A flood of memories surged, like a locked door inside her mind opened under pressure.
“Doctor?” she asked.
“You can call me Auntie. I don't mind,” she smirked, eyeing Haruka, who clearly did. “I'm glad you grew up. I'm glad you lived to grow up.”
“I… what does this mean?”
“It means, young lady, that when you get tired of crime fighting and retire from war, you won't need to worry about upkeep of your expensive prosthetic body. It also means that if you get into trouble and need help, you have a key to access my companies, a sort of VIP card. Use it carefully and with discretion. Kidnapping of my favorites and family is a real issue these days, has been a problem since the crash of '15. In return, I want to hear from you. You've got ways to reach me now. Nothing for nothing, something for something. And come visit the islands sometime. You can meet more of your relatives. This is my son, Prince Keiwana. He's about as old as your brother would have been.”
“How do you do?” he asked politely, bowing to his half-sister. She returned the formal bow.
“Thank you, Kaolla-obaasan,” Motoko said, bowing once more to her aunt, then to her family before turning to go.
She was silent on the train ride back, Batou studying her intently, as always pretending to watch the crowd like a bodyguard.
“What?” he asked, finally.
“Nothing,” she lied.