Lyn's Shack

Lyn got off the bus, marveling again at how late it had gotten and how tired she felt. It wasn't like nothing had happened, of course: Lyn had had a Navi thrust upon her, and her decision of whether or not to accept the turn of events could mean an end to her formerly comfortable lifestyle. Lyn walked along the dirt road sullenly, taking her anger out on random rocks along the road by punting them aimlessly with her forward foot.

Lyn sighed. "Daddy didn't raise a fool," she said under her breath, gazing at the pipe still in her hand. "The first part of strength is looking your problems in the face. Sugarcoating is for suckers, I always say." Lyn smiled, taking pride in her small witticisms even when said to herself. This one was a particularly old one, and she thought it might have belonged to her father and simply be something she borrowed. That thought caused another sigh, but she didn't dwell on it. "I gotta put it all on the table. Fact is, even if I'm not a Navi trainer, I'm not gonna go broke. I have part of my pride I'm gonna give it up, but old man Norman won't let me starve out here... even if I ask him to." She had known admitting these facts was going to leave a bad taste in her mouth, but knowing didn't make it any less bitter.

Lyn arrived at her small shack by the Yoka riverfront twisted the doorknob to throw open the light door. There were two factors that kept this house from being worth much, she mused as she entered: First, that it wasn't exactly a beautiful view of the river it offered (the house was by the river, but not on it, and some small amount of forest was in the way); second, the place was frankly falling apart. Of course, Lyn hadn't let that stop her from living here after her father died. He made it explicit that he intended to have her live with uncle Norman in his will, but Lyn had set up a mental wall against that detail.

Lyn locked the door, threw off her coat, and began undoing her belt as she headed for the bed. The operator had some bad habits, but late nights weren't one of them: she was already tired and ready for an early morning to boot. She quickly undid the buckle of her belt, kicking off her shoes and then her pants as she moved. She left the window blinds open: not like anybody was coming out here to get a view of her sleeping, anyway.

She hopped onto the bed in her shirt and underwear, haphazardly pulling the thin cover up over herself. There was an itch in the back of her mind, though, and she felt she had to address it before she could go to sleep. She let out a more exaggerated sigh of frustration now. "Unfinished business," she muttered as she got back up and picked up her PET from where she'd left it with her pants on the floor. She set it up on its stand on her bedside dresser before turning it on.

Ship appeared on the screen, obviously in a terrible mood at having been cut off for so long when she wanted to bond with her new partner. She was at her business best as usual, though, and managed to quickly shift that mood to cheeriness in seeing her operator. "Why, hello again, Lyn! What can I do for you?"

Ship had said this with her wide smile, but her eyes seemed to snap a bit as she caught sight of her operator. "Ugly-" she started.

Lyn's eyes remained fixed in her stare, allowing only a twitch of her eyebrows and mouth to give away her dangerous temperament. "Oi, dumb*ss. What was that just now?"

Ship shook her head, a tight smile on her face as sweat rolled down her forehead. "Wh-what do you mean? I didn't-"

"Ugly," Lyn replied, her eyebrows tilting upward a bit as she leaned in a bit closer. "You said ugly, right? Ugly? Anything specific, or just a general remark?"

Ship kept her forced smile for a bit longer. She was sure she and her operator were simply having a friendly bit of back-and-forth over such a trivial matter, but she was rapidly becoming convinced she'd underestimated Lyn's irrational temper. Realizing there wasn't really anywhere to run, Ship tightened her lip and faced Lyn in spite of her fear. "It's your underwear!"

Lyn's eyebrow continued twitching sporadically before the redness in her face from anger gradually died down. "Huh?"

"It's awful," Ship stated seriously. "I don't know if it's your taste... or if you bought it... but you shouldn't wear it. It's awful."

Lyn stared at Ship for a while longer. Her eyes traveled down to her unhidden underwear, dark with high-rising straps. She stared a bit blankly at it before her anger grew again. She met her Navi's eyes now with a mix of frustration, embarrassment, and the original killing intent. "Oh yeah?! You know a lot about underwear, huh? Are you even programmed with it, dumb*ss?! What the hell would you know about what I choose to wear?"

"Regardless of your opinion, it doesn't suit you," Ship said, becoming more confident now in spite of her operator's renewed assault. "Get up and turn around for me."

"Are you serious?!" Lyn said, blushing more. "You've got some-"

"If you're not confident, you don't have to," Ship said simply.

Lyn bit her lip before jumping to her feet and roughly turning the PET's view. She did a quick and careless spin before plopping back down on the bed, sitting Indian style. "There. What's the problem?"

It looked better in the back, Ship thought to herself. When she got a better look, she had to admit that elements of the garment did accentuate Lyn's best areas, showing off her fit legs and a surprisingly tight- Well, not like any of that was something she could comfortably tell her operator anyways. Still... "Something like this looks like it was a style choice, as it must be with such an outfit. I can't imagine what could have inspired it, but a choice like that doesn't fit the rest of your image, where you don't seem to care what people think of what you're wearing."

"I didn't put any thought into it," Lyn said, emphasizing each word clearly. "What, you're suddenly the f*ckin' Sigmund Freud of underwear now?!"

"Regardless, aren't you the type where functionality means everything?" Ship responded curiously.

"Heh. You don't get me at all," Lyn replied with a smirk. She leaned back in her sitting position, crossing her arms and clenching her teeth, turning the gesture into a grin when she realized she didn't have her pipe on hand. "When it comes to me, I'm all about pride and personal style. It doesn't matter if other people understand it. I just tend to favor the functional, but I don't make it a rule. There's no point in living that way, without a personal touch to everything you do."

When Lyn looked back at her Navi, though, she could tell she wasn't convinced. "Regardless, this is a choice in personal style you can do so much better in," Ship told her operator, accidentally slipping into a bit of the high-handed pushiness of her modeling experience. "I'm not your mom and I won't dress you-"

"Gee, thanks," Lyn interrupted with a bark.

"-but... I think it would be fun if we went shopping sometime, don't you?" Ship leaned forward in the PET and gave her operator her most winning smile of persuasion.

Lyn was taken aback yet again, but quickly transformed that frustration into offense. "Taking your operator on a lingerie-shopping date, eh? You've got some balls!" Lyn planted her hands on the bed to either side of her and clicked her teeth. "Tomorrow, you and I are gonna do some real work. We'll see how you handle that, and then maybe you can have your queer fantasies about staring at my *ss in a fashion outlet come true."

Ship simply giggled in response, and Lyn didn't turn off the PET before turning off the lamp and rolling over on her bed to face away in her sleep.

Lyn slept poorly that night, still unable to decide what she wanted. She was realizing more and more that she had had so little contact with people outside of her Dad's circle of friends since she'd stopped attending school. That would explain why she was able to get jerked around by this Navi so easily, and maybe why she was reading into this teasing about underwear so heavily...

Is she a lesbian? Lyn allowed the thought to form in her mind. Do I even care? For Christ's sake, the end of this month can't come soon enough...

Setting aside that small matter, the larger issue of whether or not Lyn would be keeping a Navi rather than continuing to train them rose to the fore. The reluctant operator lay awake for another half hour before drifting off to sleep.
Ship exited sleep mode with a stretch and a yawn, rubbing her eyes sleepily as she emerged from her smokestack. From her operator had left her on the stand beside the bed, Ship could see the floor of the room covered in cracks of sunlight seeping through the blinds. Since the lights were off, she assumed her operator was still asleep.

Ship smiled a bit to herself, imagining Lyn asleep at 10:00 AM. Lyn liked to act like she was a collected and in-control person full of pride, but here she was sleeping in on a sunny morning. Ship appreciated every chance she could get to think of her operator as a normal person. As she thought about it a bit more, she realized she might have a good chance to show how useful she could be as a Navi in this situation. If she woke Lyn up now, Ship could solidify herself as a hard-working Navi willing to go the extra mile and wake up early to get to training.

Smiling widely now, Ship began to picture the scenario:

Lyn, don't be a sleepy head! Don't you want to go out and start training? she'd say.

Five more minutes, Lyn would murmur sleepily. She might even mumble something embarrassing in her sleep...

Oh, Lyn! It looks like I'll be taking care of you from now on! Ship would reply, then perhaps turn on the alarm to force her operator up.

Lyn would be angry, but also embarrassed, a facet Ship was beginning to feel right at home with. She'd probably say something like


Well, that would be typical of her, but why would she-

Ship snapped out of her delusion to see Lyn up and fully clothed, staring into her PET. "Sleep long enough, you? You've got to get used to getting up earlier if you're my Navi. I don't want to hear any whining about it either."

When had she gotten up? An hour earlier... even earlier? And today was a weekday...! Ship began to realize that she might have been even more pampered as a Navi in the advertising business than she'd realized.

"Early to bed, early to rise! Makes you f*ckin' sharp, Thomas Edison said." Lyn spoke mostly to herself as she moved around the room, gathering her things. "All right, Sleeping Beauty, we're going out to do some real work." Lyn snapped up her PET and began heading for the door.

"Lyn, I'm s-surprised!" Ship spouted. "I wasn't expecting you up so early, er, that is, what were you doing?"

"I help out at the shipyard early in the morning... usually I'd be helping them now, but I told them I had some business to take care of. You're cuttin' in on my free time, you know?"

"Sorry," Ship replied, beaming all the same.
Lyn was lying on her side late at night, which was odd for her for a number of her reasons. First off, it meant she wasn't asleep: Lyn had always fallen asleep easily flat on her back. Moreso, though, it meant she wasn't ready to go to sleep. This was a predicament she couldn't figure out and yet couldn't ignore.

For as long as she could remember, Lyn had lived by a list of principles. The list was long and sometimes contradictory, but until this day Lyn had thought they made her who she was. Somewhere on that list, long ago, Lyn had added a rule that she hadn't had any trouble sticking to for years until this day: "A hard worker wakes up early, gets sh*t done, and goes to sleep when she's tired."

It was the same time of day she usually went to bed, but Lyn didn't feel tired... and that was a problem.

"My code's wrong," Lyn thought, lying on her side and staring at Ship's PET, which was turned away and in sleep mode. "I wrote them myself to try and define who I would be, and I wrote them wrong..." Lyn couldn't allow herself to believe that, though. After all, for her, those codes were now practically common sense.

"I've got to go to bed later...?" It was a nice, safe excuse, but it didn't hold water. Lyn refused to believe she was getting old enough that she would become tired from the activities she'd done all her life. Of course, that was the root of the problem... she wasn't doing the activities she'd done her whole life. She rarely made it to the shipyard in the morning. Of course, she hadn't scouted around for potential coaching jobs in forever and obviously hadn't been training any Navis... except Ship, and Lyn couldn't deny that that wasn't the same kind of training she usually doled out.

The natural conclusion was that Ship was keeping her from being tired at night. Why would that be? Lyn mentally referred to her code, scanning the line over and over again until it made sense...

"I'm not working hard," Lyn said aloud, like someone who realized they'd just come to the punchline of a crude joke. "And if I'm not working hard, I'm not getting sh*t done. How much f*ckin' time have I wasted...?"

Was it proper to say she'd wasted it? It was true that it wasn't her usual gig, but she'd technically been training Ship for battle... "No, the circumstances are different. It's the difference between breaking dogs with bad behavior and raising one yourself. One is WORK, something you get paid for, something that means something... the other is giving a mutt treats so it'll lick your hand."

Lyn was starting to come to a resolution in her mind, but what she'd just thought bugged her. Of course, nothing could be more worthwhile than hard work, but was she essentially saying that there was no value in raising a dog? Especially if that dog was a friendly, healthy one that was abandoned to an uncertain future. "Well, there's a difference..." Lyn told herself as justification. "I don't even know for sure that Fatso wouldn't have found another person to operate her... maybe not another one in a ship captain's outfit," Lyn admitted.

Lyn decided her course of action quickly. The next day, she'd go to... whatever company Ship had modeled for and be done with her. She picked up her pipe, knowing the tobacco was terrible for her, and lit it as she sat upright in the bed. She'd f*ck up her lungs, she was smoking inside, she would quite likely get tobacco or sh*t on the bed... but she'd made the decision to light up. She wouldn't back down on a decision she'd made. The operator exhaled deeply, feeling she'd be able to get to sleep quickly now.

Now knowing what she was going to do, Lyn got up, took care of her pipe, and cracked open a window for a bit to let the smoke ventilate before going back to bed. It was one thing to make a bad decision, she thought, but another to sit there and suffer when you could do something about it.