You're the One|
The Wanderer stared at the girl standing before him on the deserted street. Her appearance was slightly different: a rosy complexion, violet eyes, and wearing a red dress. But he knew her, just as she knew him despite his disheveled appearance.
"And you are Dorothy Wayneright."
"You called me Roger Smith just now, didn't you, Dorothy?" the Wanderer asked. "And is it...appropriate for me to play Roger Smith?"
"You said play," Dorothy said in her monotone voice. "But that's ridiculous. You're not an actor...Roger Smith."
"Yes, that's right, R. Dorothy Wayneright," the Wanderer said confidently.
"As long as you keep on calling me that name, I'll be Roger Smith!"
With a flourish, he cast off his trench coat and Roger Smith was groomed and wearing a black business suit.
Dorothy watched impassively.
Roger looked to his watchband and found that his timepiece was intact, just as he knew it would.
"Big O!" Roger shouted into the glowing watch.
The sun was blocked out by the giant shadow of Big O, standing in the middle of an intersection.
Big O's eyes lit up.
Roger suddenly found himself seated at the controls of Big O. Dorothy, in her familiar black dress, stood by his side, helping to guide his left hand with the control stick of Big O's left arm.
Roger knew he was where he belonged.
A left punch sent the three foreign megadeuses falling into the harbor. Roger pressed a button on the console and the red window in Big O's neck retracted, giving Roger a clear view of his opponents.
The foreign megadeuses rose out of the harbor; one in front of Big O, two in back. Roger activated dozens of jet anchors set around Big O's midsection, and when the launch button sprung from the console, Roger slammed it with authority.
The jet anchors launched. Some burst through the foreign megadeuses while others flew past. Continuing on until they struck various objects like abandoned ships, pillars, or breakwaters.
As the smoke around Big O settled, Roger stepped down from the controls, folded his arms, and watched the foreign megadeuses burst into flames.
"My name is Roger Smith," he thought. "In this city that's lost its memory, I am...a negotiator!"
Roger smiled and looked over his shoulder. Dorothy stood nearby, watching impassively as she had in the dream.
"Are you all right, Roger?" Dorothy asked.
Immediately, Roger touched the gunshot wound in his left arm and winced. "It's nothing, Dorothy."
"No, that's a serious wound. However, I was referring to what you said during the battle."
Roger blinked. "What I said?"
"Yes, you were shouting, 'Who the hell am I? Who am I?' I don't understand this word "hell", Roger. I've never heard it before."
Roger gazed at the burning megadeuses again. "Hell is a place where evil men are punished."
"But you aren't evil, Roger."
Roger laughed softly. "It's also a figure of speech."
Dorothy was silent. Roger could picture her with the same, dour expression.
"I'm sorry, but I can't comprehend your explanations with my programming," Dorothy said. "However, that word as you've defined it can be classified as vulgar. You really are such a louse, Roger Smith."
Roger chuckled. "I'm sorry."
Dorothy didn't reply. She and Roger stared at each other in silence.
"That dream certainly felt like hell," Roger said.
"So you were dreaming," Dorothy said. "Would you care to describe your dream? Perhaps then you would better understand it."
Roger shrugged. "Paradigm City was...different. There were no domes, no clouds. There was sunlight and there were no damaged buildings. Even the clock tower was intact. It was as if I were in Paradigm City before the Event."
Roger stopped so Dorothy could respond. Instead she kept silent, as he expected.
"But it was so frightening," Roger continued. "I was unkempt, a wanderer. I couldn't find any trace of my life in the past. I even doubted my own identity. Only two people recognized me. The first was you, Dorothy. But your skin wasn't ivory. Your eyes were violet. You looked so happy and carefree."
"You aren't describing me," Dorothy said. "You're describing the real Dorothy Wayneright, the girl I was modeled after."
"But you recognized me!" Roger shouted. "So did Angel!"
At the mention of the mysterious blonde's name, Dorothy scowled.
"She drove up in the middle of a rainstorm," Roger said. "She called me major, but the picture from my years with the military police doesn't show me in a major's uniform."
"What happened then, Roger?" Dorothy asked. Her tone had risen.
"I got into her car and we drove into the night. By that point I was certain that I wasn't Roger Smith, but an actor. I even joked to Angel about playing the role of a soldier and turning my gun on innocent children on the battlefield."
Roger shivered as he realized the meaning of his words.
"Then we drove into a tunnel that spiraled downwards. I began to sense a familiar emotion...terror. I demanded to know where Angel was taking me and she said, 'To where you used to come from.'
After that I started to tremble violently. The terror I was feeling had taken control. Angel said, 'Do you want to run away again?' I looked at her, and instead of Angel, I saw myself.
I still wasn't sure of my identity, but I did know that I should be fighting the terror inside me."
Roger smiled at Dorothy for a moment. "And that's when you called out my name."
Dorothy walked closer until she was an arms length from Roger.
"We were on a deserted street in the middle of a sunny day," Roger said happily. "Yes, you looked different, but I knew you. You certainly knew me. Maybe we saw our true selves in a windowpane."
Roger shrugged and chuckled again.
"You set me on the right path. You cleared away my doubt. You did all of that, Dorothy. I understand now."
Roger suddenly felt pressure on his left arm. Dorothy had taken his necktie and was turning it into a makeshift tourniquet.
"You're losing a great amount of blood, Roger. This should do until Norman can attend to your wound."
Roger didn't reply. He and Dorothy gazed at each other.
Roger softly brushed his hand across Dorothy's cheek, while his injured arm wrapped around her waist.
Dorothy stood on her toes.
A stab of pain ran through Roger's arm, making him hold Dorothy closer and deepen the kiss. Roger's heart raced when Dorothy also kissed deeply.
The kiss was broken and they gazed at each other again. Roger noticed that Dorothy had an awed expression.
"Thank you, Dorothy."
"You're welcome, Roger."
Roger glanced at the console of Big O. "Well, I guess we should go home before Big O rusts in the harbor."
"If that was an attempt at humor, it was in poor taste," Dorothy said.
"Dorothy!" Roger yelped. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean that you would...I was only saying that we should leave. I don't regret that we...I mean, there's nothing wrong with..."
Dorothy smiled. "It's all right, Roger."
Roger, sitting at the controls again, closed the window and with Dorothy's help, piloted Big O onto the wharves of Paradigm City harbor.
They didn't notice Angel standing on a breakwater, crying over the kiss she had witnessed.