"Re-l…I would kill you if I had the chance."
It's the first thing that she sees when her eyes fly open. Neon light is hidden behind a wilted flower but she shifts and sees it reflecting that the time is 3:41 AM. Re-l blinks slowly, heart pounding in her ears, but doesn't dare to move. Instead, the inspector focuses on controlling her breathing and waits for the lights to flick to 3:45 before shifting under the covers to stare at the ceiling.
Another dream. Another nightmare. She needs to stop this.
The room is dark with dim lighting of the moon vaguely peeking from behind the window curtains. It's quiet besides the soft humming of appliances throughout her apartment and the faint whooshing of AutoReiv security roaming the streets outside. It's been two weeks, just barely, and Re-l hasn't managed to get proper sleep since she had returned to Romdeau in the Rabbit. It's almost comical. She had managed to sleep in the Rabbit with that annoying Companion AutoReiv but now that she's back home in a heated shelter with actual food besides beans, she can't sleep a wink.
That's not why though and you know it…
She grunts. It's almost close to 5AM which is when she normally does her morning run anyway. Might as well get started. Flinging back the covers, Re-l stands up and saunters to the bathroom for a bath. It's absolutely ridiculous that I can't take a shower, she thinks, making a bath takes longer. But there are some thoughts the inspector would not like to think about so she simply bites her lips and glares as the tub slowly fills up with warm water, droplets condensing onto the mirror. Her blues eyes glance at her reflection, distorted by the fogginess, and she can't help but be submerged into an unwanted memory…
His breath is fanning in her ear, louder than the steaming water rushing out of the shower head. She can barely focus on anything – everything is so overwhelming – and she isn't sure if she's as loud as he is. Maybe louder. But all Re-l can really notice are his hands, large, wrapped around hers and pressed against the tiled walls.
The inspector blinks. So much for blocking out certain memories. She drops her clothes and slips inside, allowing the warmth to wash over her.
"It's…remarkable really." Daedalus cocks his head and smiles. "Like nothing we've ever seen before. Check the vitals again?"
Deleuze, his Entourage AutoReiv, nods. "Updating status."
The physician is not alone in the lab as he has usual been for the past few months – it's full of several lab technicians and AutoReivs. The sudden congestion and busy atmosphere is such a contrast to its usual silence but the physician doesn't question their reasons. It is, in a way, a historical day which can possibly change everything they already knew. The possibilities were endless…
Daedalus frowns without turning around. While he's excited about his new research, he had been hoping that she would have come by now. He shakes his head. His dear love. So confused. So lost. Why does she never come to him for help? He would do anything for her. The girl could be so stubborn sometimes.
The lab technician clears his throat.
"It's all very sensational, isn't it?" he grabs an i-clipboard and scrolls through the medical examination, still facing the plexi-glass. The lab technician behind him bites his lip and glances at his co-worker before speaking.
"Yes, Dr. Yumeno…which is why we were wondering why we haven't been able to run any tests on it yet. I mean, we've had it for weeks and we still don't know anything."
"Of course we do." Daedalus taps the screen and flips to another page. "The product is healthy. A bit tired but its levels are stable. It's in good shape. Is there something I'm missing?"
The technician crosses his arms. "That's all standard procedure."
"You'll have to be clearer with me." The hiss in his voice isn't intentional but it is noticeable, an underlying venom twisted within the words, and causes the two technicians to blatantly step back. "You want to know when we can poke and prod it?" the physician finally turns around and chuckles. "Correct?"
He opens his mouth but closes it before attempting to speak once more. In the end, he simply nods his head.
Daedalus' eyes narrow. He may have a boyish appearance but the darkness etched in his eyes is enough to make anyone doubt his innocence. "I told you. Not yet. Not until she comes."
"But, doctor, the Regent" –
"He'll simply have to wait. She's the one who found it and we won't start without her." He faces back to the product and places his hand against the plexi-glass – five inches of indestructible, bulletproof glass. "Oh, my Re-l…where are you?"
"Oh, God, yes…harder – don't stop!"
"Re-l…Re-l I can't" –
"You won't hurt me," she hisses, "stop overthinking!"
She knows she's being loud but who the hell cares if Pino can hear. Water spills from the shower head onto her hair, blanketing her shoulders as she presses herself against the slick shower walls. Re-l moves herself against Vincent, who is behind her, hands squeezing her hips as he thrusts inside of her. But she wants more. She knows he's strong, knows he's fast – she's seen it. Even if it was in his Proxy form, Re-l knows he's holding back.
"Vincent! Vince, I want..." a sharp cry erupts from her throat as he is suddenly quickening his pace, pounding into her and she can feel his fingers tightening around her waist – knows it will probably leave bruises.
"I…I love you, Re-l…" his voice is abruptly deep and rough, twisting with his Proxy form, and he growls in pleasure as she flings back her head against his shoulder, exposing her throat for him to taste.
"So, what do you think of this one?"
"Really?" Lise looks at the mirror again and frowns. "Because that's all you've said for the past hour."
The store's air conditioning causes Re-l to shiver and the constant flow of chatter and announcements is making her head slowly throb. She crosses her arms and ignores Lise's stare, instead focusing on the smart wall that depicts the current trends and sales. One of Romdeau's many entertainment locations, the Main Center serves as the city's central mall – three levels of mindless stores ranging from clothing, to jewelry, and shoes. If one wanted to be a believable Model Citizen, dressing in the proper attire was key. Normally, Entourage AutoReivs are sent to run a citizen's errands, such as shopping, but only social butterflies, like Lise, actually went out to the general centers. Pathetic.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Unless the meaning of yes has changed since the last time you asked me ten seconds ago, the answer remains the same."
Lise shrugs and offers an innocent smile. "I'm just asking. You've barely said two words since we've got here."
She refrains from rolling her eyes and tries to bite down her snarky comment. "Do I ever?"
Re-l isn't stupid. Clearly Lise is monitoring her for Grandfather. She hadn't seen Lise in months – granted the two barely saw each other even before all of this – but the mere second she returned to the domed city, Lise had appeared as if they were old friends. Leave it to her Grandfather to make her feel more trapped than she already is.
"Oookay," says Lise, emphasizing her displeasure as she drags out the word. Honestly, Re-l isn't sure why she still hangs out with her. "I think I'll just order a few more before Mae and Wren arrive. Maybe you can talk to them?"
The inspector tries to suppress a shudder but remains silent. Her morning run hadn't been enough to get shake away her thoughts and this "outing" is about to drive her to the brink of insanity if she isn't already there.
They had known each other since their preteen days because Lise's father worked in the Citizen Security Bureau and her mother was a technician in the Division of Health and Welfare. Re-l's parents, when they had been alive, wanted her to only converse with other Model Citizens. In the end, the two were never really that close but Grandfather liked to know that she communicated with others from time to time. Especially now.
"Too bad that AutoReiv of yours is decommissioned. He had such great taste." Lise spins around, oblivious to Re-l's glare. "What was its name again – Izzy or something, right?"
Re-l huffs and quickly stands up. "I'm going out for some air."
She doesn't wait for a response and is beyond relieved when Lise surprisingly doesn't follow. Lise may be under the Regent's order but she isn't the type of person who confronts others or cares about others like…
"Stop." The inspector sighs and closes her eyes once she's made it to a nearby deserted aisle outside. Combing her fingers through her hair, she leans against the wall and takes a few deep breaths. She does not feel guilty. She doesn't. Re-l Mayer has very little regrets and completing her mission to capture the proxy is absolutely not one of them. She should be glad that she's back in her protected city…protected yet stifling, suffocating, ignorant, and more vulnerable than what she had been taught in the education system. Her city isn't a beacon of light but maybe now with the new proxy it may have a chance. She should be happy about that.
Re-l smirks and opens her eyes. "Ever the Fellow Citizen."
She feels her back pocket vibrate and checks her communicator, the screen indicating Daedalus' name. For once Re-l isn't sure. She's been keeping her physician at bay for far too long and it's beginning to garner more unwanted attention. Sliding her finger across the screen, she ignores his attempts again. She'll see him soon. She'll have to.
"There you are!" Lise jogs down the hall and places her hands on her hips. "The others are downstairs waiting so you can tell us all about your travels. It'll be fun!"
A Fellow Citizen indeed.
"Stop looking so nervous."
"And stop apologizing. It's annoying."
"Sorry. I mean, wait! I…"
Re-l places her hands on her hips. "Look at me."
Vincent finally obliges, because he can never say no to her, and lifts his head up, looking into her yes. His face somehow turns redder and Re-l almost hesitates. Why is he making this much more difficult than it needs to be?
"You've already seen me naked before, Vincent."
"I know…but not like this."
They are standing in the sole sleeping chamber of the Rabbit. Pino is outside, distracting herself with her melodica and collecting twigs for firewood. It's the perfect chance for them to be really alone and Re-l wants this. At least that's what she's been repeating to herself for the past two minutes.
The two stand in front of each other, naked and exposed, in the small cold chamber. It had been weeks since any actual wind for the Rabbit to take forth and use as wind power so they could finally move onto their destination. And so they've waited, and waited, stranded as the continued into the passing days doing nothing. Until nothing turned into something.
"It's the same thing, Vincent," she says and takes a step forward, placing her hand against his chest. She can feel a heartbeat and doesn't understand how or why. So far, each time they've had sex in the shower, Vincent had responded in a human way – moans, panting, and climaxing. How could he be a proxy yet be so human? Should she be nervous that she was getting so intimate with something that wasn't actually real?
Vincent surprises them both by placing his hand against her heart as well – in between the valley of breasts. His fingers trail down until they reach her navel and he circles them there, eliciting a surprised gasp from Re-l. He smiles but doesn't look at her, cheeks still a soft red, and takes one step forward, closer. She tilts her head in order to look at him, the hooded bright green eyes, and she can feel his erection grazing her inner thigh.
"What would you like me to do Ms. Re-l?" his voice is deeper – rougher.
Her eyes flutter and it is the last thing said between them until they are lying in bed, under the covers, sweaty, gathering their breath. She opens her eyes.
"Re-l Mayer, I'd like you to close your eyes."
"Is there an actual purpose to this or is it to just annoy me?"
"Simply an exercise."
"To test what? I've already done all of your little games. What else to you all want from me?"
Dr. Swanson smiles and crosses her legs as she scribbles something in her notebook. The sun is setting, making the doctor's office aluminate in soft colors of red and light shadows, and Re-l can't help but fidget in the couch. She knows that she's being difficult and that she was taught better – should be polite – but there's something about Dr. Swanson's relaxed gaze that doesn't sit right. It's been almost a month now since returning from the outside and Dr. Swanson has been nothing but helpful – prescribing her sleeping medication, being patient and listening to her thoughts on her Grandfather's monitoring business. But, today, well, today is a bad day because she had another nightmare with Pino screaming at her and she had been wondering if she could up the strength of the prescriptions.
"Just trust me."
Re-l tightens her jaws but grudgingly obeys, squeezing her eyes shut. She lifts a shoulder. "Well?"
"This exercise is all about listening. Not to me but yourself." Dr. Swanson pauses and Re-l desperately wants to open her eyes to see what she is doing. "Re-l, I want you to listen to yourself instead of trying to cover your thoughts."
"I'm not" –
"Please. Just a few minutes. Can you do that for me?"
No. But there isn't exactly anything she can do to resist that wouldn't alert Grandfather so she bites her lip, huffs, and decides to stay quiet. Dr. Swanson believes that she is trying to quell her thoughts but what would give her such reasons to think so? She's been coming to each session with her and answered all of her questions. She has her daily runs and sees Lise once and a while to please everyone, ensuring them that, yes, she does indeed have somewhat of a social life. What else is there?
"Have you been able to go back to work yet?"
Her question startles her and it takes her a moment to gather her thoughts. "The Bureau is still processing the paperwork but hopefully soon."
"It must be strange not being able to work yet, I would believe?"
The Inspector shrugs, eyes still closed. "I'm used to being busy or…or doing anything. But I understand the procedures – that it can be difficult. I can wait."
"But it's difficult waiting. Are you still seeing your friends once in a while?" Re-l can't help but laugh at this and she can hear the doctor scribble something down in her notebook. "Why is that amusing?"
"We're not exactly friends, Dr. Swanson."
"Not like you and Iggy?"
Re-l frowns. "Iggy is…was just an AutoReiv. An infected one at that."
"But you still cared for him? Like you care for Vincent?"
Her eyes snap open and Dr. Swanson simply smiles, head tilted to the side. "Re-l, I think it's time for you to go see Vincent Law."
"Why should I feel guilty?"
"You believe that he trusted you," says Dr. Swanson, "and that you broke that trust. But, it isn't your fault."
"Then why do I feel this way? Why can't…why can't I stop thinking about him?"
Re-l scrunches her eyebrows. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"I believe you feel guilty but are confused as well. You need to listen to yourself, Re-l. Do you love Vincent Law?"
Re-l pauses before she lifts herself back for another sit-up. Sweat beads around her forehand and her breath fans out the few strands of hair that escaped from her ponytail. Exercising always kept the inspector focused – it's something that she can control. At least one of the very few things that she can control.
"25…26…27," she counts steadily.
The Citizen Intelligent Bureau revoked her status as inspector today. She received the notice by her new Entourage, Friedman, that they were decommissioning her title and reinstating her as security assistant. A desk job. Re-l pants as she reaches fifty-three and her eyes glance at the wilted flower resting on her night table. She didn't have to return to Romdeau. She didn't have to give Daedalus the proxy or give her Grandfather the details about life outside of the walls. Re-l could have simply stayed in the Commune with the others. Stayed with him. But she didn't. So this is how she is repaid for her services?
Re-l grunts, blinking back the burning sensation behind her eyes.
She has to see him today. She has to.
"Do you love Vincent Law?"
"…I don't know."
He does silly things. She already understands there is little to Vincent Law besides his lost memory. He is eager to please, always looking for acceptance from others. But, she notices little things, as they spend more time on the Rabbit. Re-l is not blind to his eyes as he tries to discreetly peak at her when he thinks she won't notice. He makes sure to give her the biggest portion of beans and only bites his lips in frustration when she uses all of the warm water for her hair.
He gives her things – an old copy of a book from life before the domes that Pino wounded up losing, a beaded necklace he found an a cave when he and Pino went out exploring that the AutoReiv later broke, and a flower he plucked while gathering firewood one morning. She says nothing when he gives her such gifts but she keeps the flower in her journal, between the pages that she's written her daily observations about him.
"Vince, Vince!" Pino jumps up and down one late afternoon, dropping twigs onto the deck of the Rabbit as she does so. "Look, I'm helping! See? See?"
Vincent chuckles. "Good job, Pino. I'm going to go inside for a bit to check on Re-l, okay?"
The AutoReiv makes a face. "But you alwaaays check on her. Tell her to come out and have some fun!"
Re-l glares, lying in bed, as she listens to their conversation from the window hanging above her. He suddenly whispers something to Pino – something Re-l can't hear – and she sees the AutoReiv smile and nod in understanding. She almost scoffs. What can it possibly understand about their situation? Does she understand what cold feels like? Hunger? Or, how she has to resort to fucking a proxy to keep her from losing her sanity? She places the depleted Phlebotinium shelled gun that Daedalus gave her underneath the pillow once she sees Vincent leave the deck.
She doesn't know what to do anymore so once Vincent enters the chamber and slides next to her on the bed, yet on top of the covers, she doesn't resist. Instead, she lays her head against his shoulder silently and he laces his large hands with hers.
"It's going to be okay, Re-l. Don't worry. You'll see."
Re-l freezes. "Vincent…"
"The proxy is doing well," Daedalus continues as he hovers over the central keyboard, oblivious to the inspector's frozen state, "we're beginning testing tomorrow. We would've done it earlier but, well, I wanted to wait."
The plexi-glass covers the entire wall, revealing the proxy – Vincent – sitting in the middle of the contained room, hunched. Large dark wires encircle his arms and legs, with a few prodding at his back. He sits still, cloaked in the tattered orange jumpsuit of the AutoReiv Control Division. His white eyes remain on her, unblinking, and Re-l suddenly shivers. This is a mistake, she thinks, I shouldn't have come here. I'm not ready.
Daedalus' voice shakes her out of her thoughts and she turns to him, facing the physician's worried expression.
"Don't worry." He smiles. "He can't hurt you. If he even moves an itch, our motion sensors will trigger the vials into his system. He's aware of this." Daedalus places a hand on her arm and notices the sudden tensing of muscle. "And…I'll be here."
She nods but then clears her throat. What has gotten into her? Since when was she a quiet, submissive school girl? She shakes her head. "What exactly will you be testing him for?"
"Well," Daedalus says, "we're not exactly sure what type of proxy he is."
He nods. "We've recorded several different types of proxies. Kind of how we have different jobs in each of the sectors. If we can narrow it down to what type he is, we'll be able to adjust our settings – so to speak. Just get as much information from him as you can."
"I doubt I'll be much of any assistance," she pauses, "but I'll see what I can do."
If I can do anything…
The AutoReivs dress her up into a protective bio-suit and she hears the low ding as the door slides open into the containment center. She hesitates but breathes steadily as she walks in, determined to simply get this over this, however what little determination she even has quickly dissolves as she finds herself approaching him too fast. Re-l stops a few feet away and the only thing she can possibly hear besides the low hissing of the doors as they slide close, is the thumping of her heart in her ears.
"It's been a long time, Re-l Mayer."
Re-l tries to control her shaking. He is larger up close, grander in fact, his sheer strength shown in the muscles twisting in his arms and back. She can still hear his voice laced within the harsh gruffness of the proxy. It's unnerving. Clearing her throat, she tries, "Vincent, I am here on the behalf of the" –
"They say if I make any sudden movements, they'll inject me with a poison. But I think I can still move fast enough to kill you before they get the chance. After all," he turns his head slowly, his dark mane billowing, "it would be worth it for such a backstabbing bitch like yourself."
It's basically a slap. A good kick in the gut. His words sting her body, the blood rushing from her face, and in the corner of her eye, she can see Daedalus tense with worry as the other technicians scribble away on clipboards behind him. This is probably the most they've gotten out of him since he arrived to Romdeau.
"Why did you betray me, Re-l?"
"Vincent, I didn't…" she shakes her head. "You're not listening. Don't you understand? I'm here on the behalf of the Citizen" –
"How exactly do you go on living with yourself when you make everyone you touch miserable? I can do it you know. Put you out of everyone's misery. I think you want that."
She glares. "Stop it."
"Who else have you been fucking? Not that teacher's pet, I presume?"
"It wasn't like...I want to talk to Vincent. I want to talk to him now."
"I don't believe that will be possible."
"Give me, Vincent, now or so help me I will" –
"Don't you understand?" a sick smile creeps on to his black lips and he chuckles softly. "We are one in the same. Separated but brought back together. Bounded to one another for eternity. I am Vincent Law and Vincent Law is me."
Re-l clenches her fists. "You're lying. What are you? What have you done with Vincent?"
He laughs and laughs – his deep laughter following her out of the containment room, outside of the lab division, and travels into her bones. She finds herself walking alone as the city's curfew is announced in the several speakers throughout the dome. Daedalus had apologized repeatedly before she left and for some reason it irked her. As if her encounter with the proxy – with Vincent – is all of his fault. He reminded her of Vincent except a stranger version that seemed more ominous. He has nothing to offer her.
She had done her job and now that was all left was for her Grandfather to make his decision. She already lost her job, her companion, and freedom. It's strange now that she thinks of it – her time outside of Romdeau had probably been the best couple of months of her life. She had never felts so invigorated and her time with Vincent had made her realize certain things about her life. About herself.
The inspector doesn't want to return home, into the never-ending silence, and finds her feet moving her into the other directions and it isn't until they stop in front of the storage unit that she understands what's going on. She places her hand against the key pad for recognition and once it opens, she steps inside her forgotten storage space.
"Get away, get away!"
A small body emerges from the shadows and Re-l quickly grabs a hold of it before it flings itself out into the light. For a child Companion AutoReiv, it can put up a good fight.
"Pino, stop it right now!"
The child flings her arms wildly, screaming as loud as she can and Re-l quickly fumbles to close the door. "Let go of me! Let go! Vincent needs me – I said let go!"
Without a second thought, Re-l flings Pino away and it tumbles, hitting the concrete wall with a loud smack. Instantly, the AutoReiv wails but no tears ever come.
"I hate you! Why did you do this to Vince? Why!"
Re-l stares but then finally falls onto a nearby crate, leaning against it for support. She can still hear his laughter – can still feel his cold, unblinking white eyes staring at her. But, she can also still feel him inside of her – can still hear his hot breath and heartbeat when they had been together in the Rabbit. Is it guilt? Yes. She knows this now and has probably always known it. But, is it love?
The door slides back open, alerting Re-l that she is able leave the containment room and be far away from his dark presence and haunting laughter. She moves quickly and is barely outside of the door when she hears it:
"But one thing is for certain," the proxy chuckles. "We both hate you."
Pino rocks back and forth as she clutches Vincent's necklace in her hand. "I hate you, Re-l, I hate you…"
She blinks. "I know."
A/N: So, I'm like almost ten years late to this thing. I love Ergo Proxy and wish they had developed more of the characters and shown more of the city. But, a gal can dream so here it is. This is a pretty dead fandom but, whoever you are, I would love to hear any feedback and see any adds! :)