Stephen's hideaway

The wheels were rattling badly today, that was as good a sign as any, he thought.

Stephen wiped the sleeve of his loose fitting jacket across his brow, partly to wipe off the accumulated sweat and dirt of the day, but also to shield his eyes from the glaring sun. He looked up from under his forearm, regarding a great light in the sky with vague interest.
why are you always staring at me?

The screech of tires and the angry thumping of a car horn alerted him almost as much as the close to neon paintwork as to the presence of the soft-top sports car behind him. Now there was a shade of green you didn't see every day, Stephen thought as he made a few corrective steps and shifted out of the way of the car, only to be thanked by some rather charming choice comments courtesy of the driver.

Wasn't the road open to anyone with wheels? Stephen asked internally of nobody in particular as he adjusted his course again, his skates really were rattling today, perhaps not a good sign after all? He shifted the weight of the his canvas messenger bag across his shoulder, it would be a shame to drop it's contents after all this work, after all.

He reached the bottom of a now familiar hill without much effort, it was always too easy to get home from work, but almost too much effort to get there in the mornings. Go figure. He wheeled his way to the back door, looking up to see who's lights were on today, and of all the luck every one of them in the towering, blackened building was turned off. He had the place to himself for now, and the thought made him chuckle, perfect opportunity to throw a party...but he'd other things to do today, and he subconsciously shifted his bag again, Jayge had better appreciate this.

The key slid into the door roughly, as it always had, and in turn Stephen swore that he'd have to oil the damned thing sometime soon, as he always had. His four roomed apartment lay open before him, and he sighed happily.

"No place like home."

He kicked an empty card box off of his comfy old sofa and threw himself upon it, settling in to the worn, tattered leather happily, then reaching over to the desk beside it, where his outdated PET lay against the wood, looking as sorrowful as ever. Stephen reached into his bag and pulled out a smaller, paper sachet, letting the contents fall into his hand with an expectation that had been building for weeks. He slid the little chip into the PET's reader and flicked on the display, holding it with both hands above his lap, and thinking for only a moment or two that he should probably take his skates off before doing this, then the archaic piece of kit exploded into life, and old chiptune boot-up soundtrack playing to announce it's working once more.

"You actually fixed it? asked the familiar voice of his NetNavi, he hadn't heard that in weeks.

"You doubted me Jayge? Oh, how you wound me." Stephen teased, tapping the top of the glowing display until it fizzled and cleared of static.

"If you must ask, yes. Now do you plan on jacking me in so I can run some field tests on just how badly you damaged me, or are you just going to stare at me funny all day?"

Jayge's slender face peered back at him testily through the display, evidently, Stephen thought, he hadn't like being broken for so long. Even his visor was down! Now that was a bad sign...

"I'll jack you in now, just be patient is all I ask."

"Patient is waiting for one month, one week, three days and seven hours for your operator to repair the damage they did to your home by dropping you down the stairs." Yes, Jayge was in a particularly foul mood today. "And don't start on saying how he pushed you, you've told me that story four times already. If I see that on the chatlog one more time I will shoot you."

"Eheh...riiiiiiight. One jack in coming right up." Stephen wiped his head again and reached for the wire, pulling on the head to extend it from the reel in the back of his PET, then plugging it in to the port on the back of his rollerblades.
"Alright, you're set to go."

"The skates again? Did you drop those down a set of stairs too?" Jayge complained, but nonetheless started uploading himself into the footware's software.

"There's gotta be something offsetting the wheels, I only just fixed them up yesturday. I want you to look around for me, if nothing else." said Stephen, attempting to take Jayge's attitude in his stride. He'd feel better once he's in the net and running his ever-present diagnostics, after all.

"...Fine. Wish me luck, we haven't cleaned these out properly in months." and with that, Jayge's profile disappeared from the display, and he was jacked in, the display itself turning to a slightly off-colour overhead view.

((Jacking in to Stephen's rollerblades))
"Welcome back. How're ya' feeling?" Stephen asked as Jayge returned to his PET.

"...damp." replied the Navi sourly. Well at least he wasn't still going on about having been dropped down the stairs, thought Stephen.

"You'll dry off in no time." He said reassuringly, setting the PET down on the hastily cleared corner of his little coffee table, then moving to finally take his skates off.

"Yeah...let's see what happens if we throw you in a small lake after a deranged Piranh-...what was that?" he was cut short by the sound of something small and metal clinking about then falling to the floor.

Stephen was holding his upturned rollerblade above his lap, looking a little taken aback.

"I think...that was a loose bearing falling out..." He said lowly. He couldn't have knocked that piece out of place while he was putting them back together last night...could he?

"...A bearing? Perhaps a bearing that would be responsible for keeping the wheels steady at relatively high speeds?"
Apparently, Jayge was thinking along exactly the same lines...

"Uh..." Stephen really thought that he'd best not tell his ever-so-faithful Navi that he just sent him into a potentially dangerous network for nothing...

"You are going to experience a large number of very awkward and painful situations in the near future, you know that don't you?" Jayge's voice was sinister.

"Yes boss." aww crap. "Let's save that for later though, tonight we rest up."

"Fine by me, fine by me."

Stephen could almost feel Jayge's mind ticking away, dreaming all new ways to get back at him for this. He let out a deep sigh and got up from his comfy chair, it was about time to sort out dinner...
A fair few weeks had passed, and Stephen had eventually made some degree of peace with his Navi, though the price was a small graphics update to make Jayge.EXE's small sections of armour that little bit more shiny, which the Operator had been working on between his work shifts.

"Right....there you go, how's that?" Stephen asked with vague annoyance as he uploaded the update program, perhaps they'd finally get some time online today?

"Hmmm..." Jayge turned this way and that on the PET's monitor, observing the new, shiny matt finish that gleamed across his armour now. "It'll do, I suppose. The Navi said finally, in an indifferent tone, though his expression showed that he was actually quite impressed.

"I'm so glad you that approve, now how about we go kill something small and virus-like?" Stephen suggested with a chuckle, Jayge seemed to be in a good mood.

"Yes, I think that we're both in need of a workout, and our battlechip library is in dire need of an update." was the response, and with a wider grin Stephen reached for the cable to connect the PET to his skates, which currently sat side-by-side at the foot of his table, once again.
"The skates again? I hope you haven't dislodged another bearing.... Jayge warned as he started to upload himself onto the network.

"Nope, just figured you might like to get some more practice against those piranhas you're so fond of." Stephen teased as the upload completed, and Jayge.EXE's almost monochromatic form transferred from PET to skate.

((Jacking in to Stephen's rollerblades...again))