Most people had moved on with their lives and forgotten about the incident. Aya could never forget the terror and familiar memories of those six days, but she had managed to accept it, put it behind her, and continue to live the relatively normal life she had lead before. Still, Eve was always lurking somewhere in the back of her mind, as she always would be.
On this day, Aya was hanging around the precedent with Nix and Wayne, eating donuts and joking around, when the door opened. Looking up, Aya heart leaped as if Eve had just walked into the station. Standing in his unique bright blue sports jacket and intelligent looking glasses, with an aura of insecurity around him was...Maeda. She hadn't seen him or had any contact with him ever since he had returned to his home in Japan after the "Christmas Eve Terrorists" incident, and yet there was a familiarity about him that made it seem like she had just talked to him yesterday. He put his hand on the back of his neatly combed black hair and said timidly, "Um... hi, Aya."
"Maeda?!" Aya exclaimed in a surprised pitch that was higher than her normal voice. "What are you doing here?!"
"Hey, who's this guy?" asked Wayne.
Maeda turned to him. "Well...er...my name is Kunihiko Maeda. I'm a scientist from Japan...."
"Oh yeah, I remember you! You were that guy who asked me to make that weird gun."
Aya had recovered from her immediate shock and lowering her voice to it's normal pitch asked, "So what are you doing here, Maeda?"
"Yes..." he started to explain with broad and unnecessary hand gestures, "You see, I got a job here in New York city as a cellular research scientist. I just arrived here and...I thought I'd come and say 'hi'..."
"It's been such a long time. ...Hey, Wayne, cover for me, will ya?"
"Oooo...abandoning out post for a little...lunch break, are we?" teased Wayne.
"Shut up, Wayne," said Aya, exasperated. Turning to Maeda she said, "Come on. We've got some serious catching up to do."
The lights of the city zipped past the car as Aya drove through the streets of Manhattan, Maeda sitting in the seat beside her.
"You're staying WHERE?!" exclaimed Aya.
"Um...yes...is that not good?" asked Maeda.
"Only about the most crime-infested place in New York!"
"Oh... Well, I'll only be staying there for a few days before I get my apartment..."
"A minority that's never touched a gun staying in the most dangerous part of New York? I don't think so!"
"I'll have to find you another hotel...let's go back to my place and make a few calls."
After getting stuck in two traffic jams before finally reaching their destination, the two caught up on most of what had happened since the incident. Apparently Maeda had been doing extensive research on the evolution of cells, for obvious reasons. He had found out a lot of stuff, most of which he didn't bring up because it was mostly technical babblings and he also didn't want to stir up any bad memories for Aya. He explained exactly how he got the job in America and how excited he was about it. Aya told him about how her life had both changed and stayed the same after the promotion, specifically how her life now seemed to resemble that of a stereo-typical policeman. Finally, they arrived at Aya's apartment.
Aya followed Maeda into her apartment and shut the door. Maeda looked around nervously. The room they were standing in had a blue-grey carpet with specks of red in it, and pale green walls. A large green monstrosity of a couch, seated beside a small table, faced a TV/VCR that was up on a dresser pushed against the side of the room. In another corner there was a small linoleum area that contained a refrigerator and a stove connected to a counter, and above and below it many wooden shelves. Next to the refrigerator there was a black phone hung up on the wall. There was one door near the kitchen and another near the couch. "It's not much, but it's all I really need," explained Aya. Glancing over at Maeda she saw that he wasn't seeming to pay much attention as he knotted his fingers with each other, looking very tense. "Geez, chill out, Maeda, I'm not gonna rape you!" smirked Aya.
She quickly had Maeda's undivided attention. "W...what?!" he said, very surprised. After a pause, he noted, "Yes...I was thinking...you Americans are very...what is it...? Direct...straight forward...aren't you?"
"I guess so." Aya walked over to her cupboards. "So...you want some coffee?"
"Um...I prefer tea, actually."
"Hm...tea..." She rummaged through the wooden doors. "Hm...no, I don't think I have tea. You want a soda?"
"Oh, yes, thank you. I like soda better than tea anyway."
"Funny, I like it better than coffee." She pulled two Cokes out of the fridge and threw one to Maeda, who barely caught it. He popped the can open and drank a bit of cola. Aya did likewise from the kitchen area. "Well, I'd better start making those calls," she said, setting the can down and pulling the Yellow Pages out of one of the drawers. As she flipped through the phone book, she said, "Fell free to have a look around, if you like. Or you can always watch TV."
Maeda took another sip, set the Coke down on the small table, and decided to show himself around, for he lacked interest in most American television shows, except the News, which usually wasn't on at this hour. At least that's what he told himself. As Aya continued flipping through the phone book, he walked past her, opening the door beside the kitchen, and letting himself into the connected room. There was small bed pressed up against the wall to his right, it's greyish quilt half on the floor. Some old garments were lying wrinkled and dirty on the ground. It was clear that she was not expecting company. Two wooden sliding doors, clearly leading to her wardrobe were built into the wall opposite the bed. Then, something caught Maeda's eye. On top of a small cabinet located on the right side of her bed, there appeared to be many interesting doo-dads. The young scientist walked over to it to observe what these gadgets were. There was a photograph of a brown- haired man wearing a black sports jacket, beside a woman with long blond hair in a light-blue dress. Their hands were resting on the shoulders of two young girls, both of who had short blond hair and looked very similar. Leaning against the picture was a rag doll, with yellow yarn hair, a crudely sewn black smile, and two button eyes, the left one black, the right one red. There were a few police- related awards lying neatly and...Maeda couldn't believe his eyes! There on the table, sat the Narita, Mayoke, and Hamaye he had given her. He timidly picked up the bell and fingered it, noting that it was still in perfect condition.
"Hey, what area of Manhattan does..." said Aya entering the room. Maeda quickly put the bell down, hoping not to draw attention to what he was looking at, which was exactly what he did. "What are you looking at?"
"Um...yes...well.... What are these things?" he inquired.
Aya walked over to him saying, "Those the most important things I own. Kinda my 'prized possessions' I guess you could say." She wasn't aware of the volume of what she had just said. She picked up the picture of the happy-looking family and said, "This was my family about..." She thought for a moment. "...Has it really been twenty years?"
"This one is you and this is...Maya?" hypothesized Maeda.
"Yeah.... I love them all, so much." Noticing that she had put this in present tense, Maeda looked over at her beautiful but helpless- looking face. She set the picture down and picked up the rag doll and a slight smile crept over her. "This is my rag doll..." she said.
"Yes...you don't seem like the kind of person who would keep dolls..."
"Well, my mom made this for me." Although Aya didn't seem to mind what he had said, Maeda felt like crawling into a hole and dying right about then. "But Maya pulled the eye off," she continued, pointing to the right eye. "I was so mad at her, but then Mom sewed on this new button, and it actually made it look more interesting." She propped the doll back up beside the picture and pointed to her metals and small awards. "Only been one year in the NYPD and already got all of these. Each one has it's own special meaning. And these..." she pointed to the things that Maeda had given her and paused as if she had just realized something. "...These are my good luck charms." An unnatural silence filled the room. "I guess I'd better get back to making those calls."
"Oh, crap..." said Aya, moving the phone away from here ear.
"What's wrong?" inquired Maeda, who was sitting on the couch.
"I'm on hold. If I'm lucky it'll just be an hour before they pick up."
"I'm truly sorry to have caused you any inconvenience..."
"Oh, shut up. It's no problem." She looked down at the black receiver she held in her hand and paused, considering whether or not to say what she planned to say next. In a quiet and solemn tone she said, "I was wondering something...about Eve."
Maeda was startled, this being the first time she had mentioned Eve since he had returned. "Yes?"
"Eve was first discovered in Africa...then in Japan...and six month ago in the U.S. Do you think Eve will strike again somewhere?"
"I don't know," responded Maeda frankly, looking down at his knees. "There's always a chance. We'll just have to wait and hope that she doesn't."
"Do you think she could..." Aya paused before continuing, "...appear in me?"
"You nuclei have appeared to be successfully objecting the mitochondria attacks and there is no reason why they should let up. Your own inherited mitochondria provide for a resistance to Eve that seems to have had successful effects. In addition, the two others who were possessed by Eve were taking large amounts of immunosuppressant drugs, thus allowing Eve to take over their bodies. And besides," he added looking up, "You're aware of what is inside you and since you are very strong- willed person...chances are highly unlikely that she would appear in you."
Aya let a small breath of laughter out of her nose. "A simple 'yes' or 'no' would have been fine."
"Well...er...yes...I mean, no!"
Aya lifted the receiver up to her ear and hearing the music projecting from the other end, set it back down again.
"Are you an atheist?" she inquired, looking back up to Maeda.
"Um...someone who doesn't believe in God or fate or anything."
"Well, I don't believe anything without scientific proof. However, recently certain events have, um, led me to believe that perhaps...some form of fate exists within this world. ...What about you?"
"I believe in some higher force. I don't know whether it's fate or God or whatever. I believe in evolution...well...obviously, but I think there must be someone or something watching over us. I pray to 'it' every night."
Maeda, not sure of where the line between inquisitive and nosy lay, said timidy, "If you don't mind me asking...what do you pray for?"
Aya was half-hoping for, half-dreading this question. "I pray for my family, I pray for my friends, I pray for Maya,...and I pray for myself. ...That if Eve ever...that He would..."
Aya lifted the receiver, hoping that some receptionist had picked up the phone. Just as she put her ear to the black item, she heard a, "Hello!"
"Yeah, hi," Aya said in a much more cheerful voice. "Do you have any open rooms? ... No, I dodn't. My friend just arrived in town. ... No, he didn't either. ... Yeah. ... Okay, thanks anyways," Aya pushed something on the phone and started scanning through the phone book again. "So much for that." Finding another hotel, Aya dialed once again and put the receiver up to her ear. She smiled, letting out an exasperated breath. "I'm on hold again."
"...Yes. ... Really?" Aya's face lit up. "... Yeah, sure! And where are you located?" she asked, pulling a pad of paper and a pen out of one of the wooden drawers and scribbling some writing on it. "Yeah. ... Uh-huh. ... Okay, great, thank you!" Aya hung up the phone enthusiastically. "I found you a room!"
"Really?" exclaimed Maeda standing up.
"Yep. They should have it ready within the hour."
"Thank you so much...I...I'm sorry for being such a bother..."
"Oh, cut it out already! The only thing that's bothering me are your constant apologies."
"Oh...er...sorry...I mean...." Maeda clamped his mouth shut so as not to apologize again. After a short silence, he asked, "How long of a drive is it?"
"It's actually pretty close by, but considering Manhattan traffic at this hour it should take us about a half an hour to forty-five minutes. So we should leave in about...fifteen minutes."
"Yes.... I'll go there by taxi. You've already done so much for me...."
"How did you find me?"
"Well," explained the scientist, hunching his body over slightly and making exaggerated hand- gestures, "I conducted elaborate research on the incidents of Eve in Japan. The scenario fascinated me, but I knew that there was much of the story that I didn't understand. When I heard that about the massacre at Carnegy Hall, I suspected something, but didn't have anything to back up my hypothesis. Then, when I saw you on television, mentioning Eve and mitochondria, there was no doubt. I came over here both to inspect the situation first-hand, but moreover to help stop Eve before she created another Ultimate Being."
The young man decreased his hand gestures as he continued. "When I came to New York, I was very nervous. I didn't know how well I could communicate with Americans. When I reached Manhattan the city had been evacuated and I wasn't allowed in. I managed to avoid the guards and enter the city. Everything was deserted. I walked the streets throughout the night, and then, I...um...yes, I got a feeling that you were nearby."
"Me...?" asked Aya.
"Yes...er...well, someone who needed help," said Maeda, laying his hand on the back of his head. "I ran as quickly as I could. I found you unconscious in that carriage. I, um, tried to wake you, but I couldn't. So, I decided to carry you to the nearest residence. Daniel drove by and I stopped him to see if he could help."
Aya looked down at the speckled carpet as silence once again engulfed the room. Finally, Maeda spoke up, "I should leave for the hotel soon. Aya, thank you so much for your hospitality."
"Don't mention it," she said, picking up the small piece of paper and walking over to him. As she handed it to him, she explained, "Here's where it's located. The driver should be able to get you there, no sweat."
"Thank you," said Maeda, bowing, something Aya had never seen him do before. He walked to the door and opened it.
A startled Maeda whirled around. "Y, yes?"
"I read in the paper that they're opening a new restaurant next Monday. You wanna check it out with me?"
Maeda smiled sheepishly.