Hitomi disappeared into her room to change. She left her door open, though, and Hito Yon hastily ran through the days’ events – starting with his arrival at the airport and concluding with meeting Hitomi outside her apartment.
For a moment, Hitomi’s reaction was invisible. She was silent and hidden inside her room. Then her head and one bare shoulder leaned into view past the door frame.
“Let me get this straight,” Hitomi said. “We asked for a heavy response team, and we got you. We wanted support for dealing with a particularly vile necromancer. You were under orders to deal with an alien invasion, instead. And then, despite being stuck in a crap job by dad, you still managed to accomplish your mission and take the ex-alien commander into custody in less than a day?!”
“Basically, yes,” Hito Yon agreed. Then he blinked. “Wait. Dad?”
But Hitomi had already moved on to Al. “I think we need to talk.” She waved for Al to come into her room and then disappeared from view.
Al followed Hitomi’s gesture. Hitomi was pulling on a blouse as Al came into her room.
Hitomi’s room was even more cluttered than the rest of her apartment. The living room had been full of boxes, true, but they had at least been reasonably stacked and tidy. Here there were just as many – but they were all open, their contents disgorged in an orgy of partial unpacking.
Al didn’t take more than a step into the room. She kept her face impassive.
“Close the door,” Hitomi said. She turned and rummaged through one of her boxes, looking for clothes that would be more socially acceptable than Al’s armor – and fit. Hitomi was considerably shorter, but she also had a large number of costume pieces boxed up from previous theater performances.
Al took another step into the room and closed the door. She waited expectantly for Hitomi – the human in charge of her integration into human society – to provide her with a designation. A role. A caste.
Hitomi didn’t say anything. She busied herself looking through clothes and waited for Al to speak, knowing Terra had to have questions and that they would reveal more about Al’s concerns and mental state if they came out without prompting.
Al took my hint.
“What am I now?” Al asked.
Hitomi hid a wry smile. It was the question she had expected.
“It’s not a matter of what,” Hitomi said. “It’s a matter of who. And that’s not really up to me to decide.”