Author's Note: This is the seventh chapter of a fanfiction adaptation of Christine Love's visual novel, Hate Plus. It continues from where the Analogue: A Hate Story adapt left off. It features a female player character, who left the Mugunghwa with *Mute and is currently married to her.
Content Note: Sexism, gendered slurs, and suicidal ideation.
That night, I dreamed about the fight I'd had with *Hyun-ae. Except this time it was *Mute, and she was strangling and yelling at me, and the ship was on fire around us, and I was trying to tell her the mainframe she ran on was about to melt.
Then it turned to slag right in front of me, and for some reason it smelled like ... soup broth and bacon?
I woke up without opening my eyes. I was curled in the fetal position, clinging to plushies and facing away from the cabin ... and sweating a lot. It felt really warm in here. I definitely smelled some kind of soup broth, and heard water boiling and bubbling.
Oh shit I left the rice cooker on-
That got me to sit up in a hurry. But then I froze, in the middle of swinging my legs over the net, when I saw what was happening.
*Mute was standing there next to the hot plate, chopping up vegetables and adding them to a broth. It looked like she was using the rice cooker's pot to boil soup.
"Good morning, Mrs. (Fox)." She turned around and bowed to me, the cutting knife still in her hand, and I saw she was using two of Aria's whiskers like oven mitts. A third hovered over her shoulder, helping project her in 3D.
"Umm, it's just Mira ... " My eyes were locked on the knife, and I was trying to figure out if she could use it to kill the spheres that were projecting her, the way *Hyun-ae had crushed one of her whiskers. If she was planning to. It still seemed so real in my mind.
"Mrs. Mira, then." *Mute stood back up.
I squirmed and sat up, my legs holding down the net that went in between my bunk and the cabin. That didn't sound right either, but I couldn't tell *Mute that Fox (with silent parentheses) was my species, and that I had no family name, without opening two cans of worms all at once.
Family ... are we still married, then? After last night?
*Mute turned back around to face the kitchen counter, and added soy sauce to the broth. She sniffed at it, and I saw Aria's free-floating whisker scoot over and pantomime doing so next to her head, its chemoreceptors picking up the broth's scent.
It reminded me of the house I burned d- er, that I used to live in. The humans who'd lived there, and "owned" me. Smelling dinner as they were cooking it. Waiting for them, eagerly, on the floor, hoping I'd get a few scraps from their plates. It made my mouth water.
*Mute frowned. "Okay, I have no idea how this is supposed to smell. I have literally never done this before. But like ... I hope you enjoy it."
I am still dreaming, I thought, as she ladled a bowl of soup out and brought it to me on a tray, next to a pair of chopsticks. I accepted it hesitantly, looking up at her face and trying to tell what was going on. She looked nervous.
So was I. "W-what is it?" I asked, and poked at the soup with the chopsticks. It looked like she'd boiled one of my rice cakes ... ?
"It's tteokguk," *Mute explained. "Uh, sort of. I had to improvise, like, a lot. The brown strips looked like normal vegetable protein, at least. Honestly, I'm surprised that your kitchen seems so normal ... I guess some things never change."
I didn't tell her that it looked so outdated because I'd based it on my "childhood" memories. I just slurped a tiny bit of the warm, savoury broth, with bits of my vegan bacon in it. "This is good! It reminds me of when I tried to make o-zoni without all the ingredients ... " I looked up at her. "Is this for the Lunar New Year?"
"Uh, yeah. I hope it's okay. Like, I don't know what traditions Earth people hold to anymore, or what's important to you." *Mute looked away, and fidgeted with her hair a bit. "I just ... "
I stopped eating in mid-slurp, the edge of the chewy boiled rice cake in between both my teeth and my chopsticks. "Mmh?"
*Mute sighed. "I'm sorry for what I said last night."
I could only stare.
"You generously take me onto your ship as your wife, and the first thing I do is break your heart with my foolish accusations. Um ... please forgive me?"
I wished I felt free to speak honestly. If I had, I would've told you how scared I was of myself. How much I now hated myself, after seeing what my "ancestor" was like and realizing that deep down, I was just as bad.
Did you know that jealousy is grounds for divorcing your wife? You could have divorced me, after last night, and I wouldn't have been able to argue about it. I was jealous of people I didn't even know existed, based on things that you'd never said. When the real reason that I was upset wasn't because I was afraid that you'd take another wife ... I was afraid of what these feelings of mine were going to make me do. What I'd just watched another version of me do.
I didn't know if it would help. I didn't even know if you still wanted me; like I said, this was grounds for divorce. But after ... after seeing Old *Mute break her lover's heart, and then after doing that to my wife, I wanted to kill myself more than ever. I wanted to do what Old *Mute couldn't do, and sacrifice myself to keep from betraying you.
It's just ...
Argh, I can't believe I actually did this. But like, part of me was telling myself this was wrong. That if I really tried, I could repress my feelings and be a good wife, the way I had learned to respect men. The way good men stayed with their wives, even though they ... felt lust for women, like I did.
Part of me was too stubborn to quit.
So I decided that before I resorted to killing myself, I would do my best to become a good wife. I would fulfill all of my household responsibilities, like cooking and cleaning. I would apologize for having wronged you, and beg your forgiveness.
I would even ... this is so embarrassing.
I had to do it sooner or later, if I was going to be a proper woman and not bring shame on our household. So I decided that it was time to reconsider my fear of "wifely matters."
"Uh ... sure!" I remembered to blink.
*Mute gave me one of her catlike smiles. "I knew there was a reason I liked you. You're very fair."
Huh? Is what I wanted to ask. But *Mute was behaving so oddly, that I was afraid if I said anything I would set her off again. So I just finished slurping my soup, and eating the rice cake, while *Mute actually tidied the kitchen.
It looked like she was having trouble grasping some things, with Aria's oven mitt claws. I wanted to help. By now, though, I was pretty sure what was going on, and that this would not be appreciated.
I guessed that I had to play along, for now. If *Mute was being the ideal wife, and leaving no room for me to help with domestic chores, did that mean I had to be the ideal ... "bread winner?"
I stood up to set the dishes in the basin, but *Mute intercepted me and took them from me. I bowed to her, and she bowed back, and I hastily excused myself to the bathroom ... partly because I'd just woken up and eaten soup, and partly because I needed someplace to think, where the ship's sensors couldn't reach.
I finished washing my hands and took medicine, programming a dose of anti-anxiety into the gelpack even though I hadn't had coffee yet. (Maybe *Mute would want to make tea, I thought?) Then I faced the tiny mirror, and the beat-up, unkempt face in it, and tried to figure out what to do next.
I was stuck here for the next couple days, still. And I didn't have a contract to work on, so ...
My reflection widened her eyes, as I remembered the logs *Mute had recovered. Oh, right, I thought. We still had to go through the rest of those ... I didn't know if Saeju colony would pay any extra for it, but I still had unanswered questions. And I was betting that *Mute did, as well.
That should keep us occupied, then, I thought, and rested my hand on the door latch. Guess it's time to get busy.