Angelic Layer is owned by Clamp, who also own all the characters. *wails* It's not faaaaaiiiirrrrr!!!
*Words in asterisks are thoughts.*
Icchan had gathered them all together to unveil his brand new development for Angelic Layer.
"And so you see," Icchan practically sang his conclusion, "that this new system will revolutionise the Layer as we know it, and provide more fun for all players and more scope for them all to grow and their Angels to grow with them!"
*I'm a genius!* He thought happily to himself. *This will bring in hundreds of new players! Thousands! It's undoubtedly my most brilliant plan ever!* He beamed benevolently as he surveyed his audience.
Sitting roughly in a circle in a conference room, the various members of the audience reacted as he'd expected. Oujirou applauded politely, a polite smile on his face and a mischievous glint in his eyes. Tamayo and Koutarou applauded with a great deal more enthusiasm; Tamayo had clearly not understood much of what he said, but had been caught up by his enthusiasm, and Koutarou was obviously trying to memorise it so he could fill Hatoko in when he got home. Ogata applauded wildly. *As well he should*, Icchan thought with a sniff, turning to Shuuko and being rewarded with her admiring gaze and heartfelt applause. *Such a wonderful girl*, he thought dreamily, turning his gaze to Misaki.
Champion of the Layer Misaki Suzuhara, who was staring back at him in some concern.
Icchan was somewhat taken aback by her lack of enthusiasm. "Ah, Misaki? Did you hear what I just said?" He asked delicately.
"Yes," Misaki said slowly.
"Did you... understand everything?" He asked carefully, probing to try and find out what the problem was.
"Yes," Misaki screwed up her face, and his heart sunk. *Maybe she doesn't like it?* "But..."
"But? But? You can't just leave me hanging like that Misaki!" He declared dramatically. "But what?"
"But how long have you been working on this plan Mr Icchan?"
"Eh? Oh, a few weeks. Maybe a couple of months."
"Seven months, dear brother," Oujirou interjected.
"Thank you _dear brother_," Icchan shot him a glare. "Is something the matter Misaki? Do you feel okay? Ogata! Fetch Misaki some medicine in the next ten minutes or I'll kill you!"
"Yes chief! Uh, what kind of medicine?"
"I'm fine," Misaki said quickly. "It's just... _you_ don't look well Icchan."
Icchan was nonplussed. "What are you talking about?" He posed. "I'm just fine Misaki! I am the great inventor!"
Oujirou muttered something which he failed to catch.
"But you look kind of... pale," Misaki said. "And... not well."
Icchan melted. Literally.
Once he'd pulled himself together he wobbled over to Misaki. "Misaki is such a good girl to worry about..."
"She's right, dear brother," Oujirou said. "You don't look well. And I think you've gained some weight."
"Little Monkeys should keep their opinions to themselves!" Icchan reached out to pinch his little brother's cheeks, but Oujirou was too fast for him. Icchan chased him around the room for a few minutes, before giving up.
Huffing and puffing, he caught Shuuko giving him a concerned look. "Are you _sure_ you're alright, Icchan?"
He would have reassured her, if he could just get his breath back.
"Are you eating healthily?" Tamayo got into the act now. "You're not _still_ stuffing your mouth with sugar candy are you? At your age?"
Icchan slowly turned red.
"Don't get angry! Sit down!" These and other comments flew wildly as the assembled group tried in turn to force Icchan to sit down, lie down, drink some water, and prevent Tamayo from administering the Heimlich manoeuvre.
Icchan finally shoved them all away. "Hmph! I am _perfectly fine_." He emphasised. "Can we please now talk about my new development?"
Slowly, reluctantly, the group got back onto track.
Later, as they were filing out, Oujirou caught up to a thoughtful-looking Misaki. "Don't worry too much about my brother," he said to her gently. "He's not _that_ old after all, and he's always been this way."
Koutarou stepped into place on Misaki's other side. "Besides, with all of the running around that he does, I'm sure he'll get back into shape soon."
"Ogata! I want some takoyaki and some green tea ice cream and I want it in five minutes!"
"But there's nowhere around here that sells takoyaki!"
"Ahhhh!!! Yes Chief!"
Oujirou and Misaki watched Ogata frantically sprint past them.
"AND BRING ME SOME SUGAR CRYSTALS TOO!"
"AND RED-BEAN PASTE FISH!"
"Yeeessss Chiiieeeffff!!!" Ogata's wail trailed off into the distance.
"Hmmm," said Misaki.
She turned suddenly and flashed a brilliant smile at Oujirou and Koutarou. "You're right. I shouldn't worry. I have to go now. See you!"
She sprinted off without further word.
Oujirou watched her go in some surprise, while behind him Tamayo put Koutarou into a headlock, demanding to know what he'd said to make Misakichi run away.
Out in the street, Misaki picked up the pace and soon caught up to the panicking Ogata.
"Oh Mr Ogata..." she trilled innocently.
The next day the same audience assembled for the first ever demonstration of Icchan's new development. Shuuko, Oujirou and Misaki played rock-paper-scissors to work out who would be the ones to try it out. Icchan beamed as everyone focused on his brilliance. He felt in a benevolent mood.
"Ogata! Bring me some pocky! I want one of each flavour – and two of men's pocky! You've got seven minutes!"
Ogata gulped, shot a look at the assembled group, and fled.
As Misaki's scissors lost out to Oujirou's stone, Ogata returned.
"That was unusually fast," Icchan said, holding out his hands. *I'll have to think of something else next time. What the?* "WHAT IS THIS?"
"It's a green salad, with no mayonnaise," Ogata said. "It's healthy."
Icchan was speechless. Well, not really. "HEALTHY? SALAD!!! I wanted POCKY!"
"Too many sweets are bad for Mr Icchan," an innocent voice said behind him. He whirled to see Misaki giving him a very earnest look.
"I think it's wonderful to see Mr Icchan watching his diet," she continued, smiling at him all the while. "He has to take care of himself so that he can keep creating wonderful additions for Angelic Layer."
Icchan felt the bottom of his world drop away. Surely, surely not. Surely not after everything he'd done for her...
"But Misaki," he said feebly. "I _like_ sweets, and I get plenty of exercise, so it's okay."
Misaki gave him a severe look. "I don't think Mr Icchan gets as much exercise as he _thinks_ he does," she said sternly. "In fact, I think Mr Icchan needs to add some exercise to his lifestyle as well as a healthier diet before he turns into a great big jelly-monster."
"Jelly-monster?" Icchan echoed feebly. Then he rallied. "Ahahahaha! This is surely Misaki's idea of a joke. Ogata! I want some ice cream now!"
"Uh," Ogata stuttered.
Icchan purpled. "OGATA! GIVE ME SOME ICE CREAM OR DIE!"
Ogata looked at Misaki.
"Off you go Mr Ogata," Misaki said calmly. "I believe Mr Icchan said that he wanted a nice fresh carrot stick."
Icchan whimpered. "Carrot stick?"
Misaki nodded firmly. "Carrot stick. And take your time!"
"Yes Miss Misaki!" Ogata beamed at her and jogged gently out of the room.
Icchan gathered himself together for one last assault.
"I think it's just wonderful that Mr Icchan is finally looking after himself," Shuuko said, stepping up behind Misaki.
Icchan crumbled into tiny little pieces. "Shuuko?" He asked feebly. "You too?"
Shuuko just smiled at him.
Icchan stared at the gently smiling mother-daughter combination, then turned to assess the rest of the room for potential help. Ogata had obviously been turned, Koutarou was looking confused...
And Oujirou and Tamayo were helplessly howling with laughter, clinging to each other to remain upright as tears flowed from their eyes. There was clearly no help to be had _there_. *Maybe I could get Ogata back onto _my_ side. After all, he's _my_ assistant.*
"Here's your carrot stick chief!" Ogata entered the room again, holding a crisp carrot stick that had obviously been conveniently stored nearby.
"Thank you so much Mr Ogata!" Misaki sparkled at him and Icchan watched glumly as Ogata nearly fell over himself trying to please her and Shuuko. *Strike that plan. Still, once they've left maybe...*
"You've done so well and worked so hard, Mr Ogata. Why don't you take the day off?" Misaki said.
"Or a week," Shuuko said. "Paid of course." She thought for a moment. "Better make it a month."
"Yes, go on a nice holiday somewhere and get some rest!" Misaki enthusiastically endorsed this plan.
Ogata clutched his hands together. "You really mean it?"
"Absolutely," Shuuko said. "And don't worry about Mr Icchan." She turned and bestowed a beaming, benevolent smile on the crushed scientist.
"_We'll_ take care of him," she and Misaki chorused.
As Ogata stuttered his thanks out, and Tamayo and Oujirou finally collapsed to the floor in a breathless, giggling heap, Icchan watched his doom approach in the form of two cute young women.
This was definitely _not_ a pleasant development.
Well, they say that every dog has his day, and I thought it was about time something nice happened to poor old Ogata. This fic was inspired by me reading all the rest of Gabi-hime's brilliant Angelic Layer fics, and suddenly being seized by the desire to write one too. I would have preferred it had this desire _not_ seized me at 1 AM on a work night, but when the inspiration muse smacks you upside the head and demands that you write, you write.
PS. Men's pocky is ultra ultra ULTRA yummy! It's dark chocolate with powdered cocoa dusted over it, and if I had an assistant like Ogata, I would totally be sending him out for it all the time too.
Jaelle, 2.15 AM, 15 Apr. 2003.
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