I.IV The First of Many..

Eremes carefully made his way back to the base of the cell tower, making sure that the delicate parts wouldn't get hit by the droplets of rain currently slamming onto him. It was a good thing he had a forgotten raincoat inside the locker; what would he have done without it?

Currently, he was shielding the bundled package like his life depended on it. In retrospect, it might as well be, his job was on the line after all. Power walking back to the cabinet, he paused as he saw her just standing there, staring at him. Her face looked strained, as if trying very hard to do the exact opposite of what her brain dictated. He would question her but he's going to let it slide for now. Time to get back to work, but first...

"Can you uhhm... hold this for a while? I need to unlock the cover again."

"Uhm, sure?"

He handed over the moderately-sized package to his assistant and proceeded to unlock the door like cover with its corresponding key. He then opened it halfway to avoid another accidental short circuit. He signaled for Athena to come to him with a nod and thoughtfully devised a plan of attack.

If he- Hmm... yeah. That could work. He partially took his raincoat off, only removing the sleeves. The yellow garment now rested on his back, its sleeves flapping against the wind. "Okay." The maintenance man called out. "I need you to take my raincoat and shield both me and the box from this rain." Time to cash in on her offer.


"What do you suggest then?"

A beat passed before he heard her sigh in resignation. "Hold this."

She handed the bundle back to him and went to carefully extract the raincoat on his back. She then positioned herself in a way that her whole body was now shielding both Eremes and the cabinet from the now lighter rain. He felt warm water dripping onto his back as Athena hunched above him, looking visibly strained as she held the raincoat in place. She looked down on him and their eyes met. This was so awkward.

"Well?" He shouldn't have suggested this in the first place. "Get to work."

He shook his head and prepared to make the repairs. The plan was simple; swap out the boards, connect the lines, question his line of work, then be done with it lickity-split. He began by removing the busted circuitry, undoing the screws that held it in place, and with a quick show of force, he mercilessly yanked the board off of the box. Easy enough.

"That was rather idiotic. What would have happened if the power breaker didn't go off last time?" Oops.

He paled at the thought. How could he forget? He almost died there! He chuckled nervously. Good thing the breaker went off when the board short-circuited.

"Stop musing and fix the damn thing."

"Sheesh. I'm working, I'm working..."

Eremes put the mangled heap down onto the wet pavement and pulled out the replacement from the haphazardly put together bundle. He then carefully fixed its orientation and stuck it firmly into the box. That's one part down, he smiled to himself.

"Onto the next part..."

"Which is the painstaking task of wiring everything back together."

His smile disappeared. She said it in a way that made it sound like an absolute chore.

And she was right. He sighed, best get started then.


Athena watched as Eremes continued to work on affixing the loose wires to their respective places. Her position was compromising. She felt as if her arms were about to give out as she tried to keep her back from collapsing. She winced as fatigue slowly started to creep in. This was not what she had in mind for her evening. Should she egg him on to hurry up?


"Would you care to hurry up? I'm not exactly thrilled to be your rain shield."

"It's not exactly a quick fix, you know?"

Reasonable. A lot of wires still dangled freely inside the box and he was at it for a good few minutes. A frown made its way onto her face. If only he did his job right then she wouldn't be stuck in this position.

"I don't care."

"Well, maybe we should talk a bit. Pass the time while I fix the damn thing."

He spoke while continuing to work on the board, his gaze never once leaving the task he had to do. Talk? What was there to talk about?

"We just met about an hour ago, and if you're a tenant then that means we'll be seeing each other for a good while, at least until either of us had to leave."

For someone who was absent-minded most of the time his logic was pretty solid. Judgemental much?~ But she wasn't much of a talker unless it was about the things she liked or if it was absolutely necessary; and most of the time, it was the latter. She might as well shut the conversation down, it's only a waste of energy.

Besides, as if he would want to be friends with a crazy suicidal bitch like her~

"I'd suggest against it. A conversation might distract you from your work."

"Au contraire, we're already having a conversation. Relax it's gonna be fine..."

He then stuck one wire he was holding to another one with a dramatic flair of confidence. Well, that didn't work as intended.

No shit, malaka~

With a quick adjustment on her arms to relieve some tension, the feeling of defeat slowly crashed into her. Might as well indulge him, maybe have a bit of fun herself.

"Fine then. But what exactly are we to talk about? Unless you expect me to just open up my life story to you."

"Uhm... I never actually thought about that. How about I ask you a question, then you answer. Simple."

Athena can almost imagine the smug look plastered on his face as he voiced his suggestion. It could work, she'll be able to deflect unwanted queries but then he might hit a question too close to home. She didn't want that to happen. Of course, she knew that the questioning goes both ways, but since she can stall for time...


"Do you want an interrogation or a conversation?"

Busy hands paused as Eremes heard his impromptu assistant's question. Did she not know twenty questions or something?

"Wait.. It goes both ways, I question you, you question me. How can you not get that?"

"Oh, I do." Athena quipped. "I just wanted to mess with you."

"Haha, very funny." At least she's having fun, even if it's at his expense.

Again with her messing with him. Eremes feels as if she was teasing him sometimes- wait.

She was teasing him, most of the time.

With sarcastic and snide remarks she shot down every comment that came out wrong or she would just make her own. But at the same time, this was the same girl that almost jumped to her death about an hour ago. It's clear that she wasn't always like this. What happened? A part of him really wanted to know.

"I guess I should kick off our Q&A session huh?"

"You should if you still want me to participate."

Or maybe he was just trying to lighten the mood. The rain only made the atmosphere more dreary than it should be. Why was she so stubborn...

Eremes suppressed a grimace at the idea that just suddenly popped into his head. Wow, he can't believe what he's about to say to her right now. With his gaze never straying from his work, a click from a newly attached wire and a gulp of his own nervous bravery, he dared to ask one simple question:

"Say, have you always been such a bitch?"

He felt his jaw harden as he braced himself for physical contact, a berating if he was lucky. Or maybe even a swift death, but it never came. Instead, he looked up and saw Athena's forlorn expression.

"I've always hated that word. It's grating, unpleasant to the ears. But in context, yes."

What? "You're not mad?"

"Why should I be? It's a valid question. Unless.. Did you expect something more?"

"Oh heavens no! I-I.." She's just playing him again. He was flabbergasted by her response that he was left speechless. What kind of self-respecting woman would like to be called a bitch? With a capital B at that with the way she said it.

"Well I have a question for you: do you even know what the word 'bitch' means?"


His hands froze instantly. Oh god. What has he unleashed upon himself? If his answer was unacceptable-


Her voice was sultry. Was she doing this on purpose? He wracked his brain for an appropriate answer, his hands still idle at work.

"Is my question too hard for you?" She cooed into his ear. Damn it, woman! Does she have any idea what she's doing? "I'm waiting."

Would it- No... Malaka! Any answer was unacceptable! He just had to be a smart ass. He knew there was no way out of the hole he unwittingly dug himself into.

Oh well, here goes nothing.

"U-uhm... A-a bitch, is, uhh... exactly what you'd expect?"

He looked up nervously at his improvised umbrella and saw the annoyed and fatigued look on her face. She was visibly shaking, her arms wobbling at her own weight.

"Would you hurry up already!?"

His arms exploded with activity, instantly connecting the wires he previously held. Oh snap! Better make it quick, she looked like she's about to explode.


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