Tobi didn't want to be woken up on that morning—October 10th, 2028. All he wanted to do was lay in bed and not be bothered. Of course, neither of his roommates were courteous of that; he laid in a deep sleep, now back to sleeping on his stomach he could conk out much more quickly, unaware that his door was pushed wide open and a perky blonde had entered the room. Chikako shook the back of his shoulder, "Tobi-kun?" He moaned and stirred, but didn't wake, "Tooobi-kun." She sang, his face emerged from the pillow and Tobi blinked his burgundy eyes only once, showing he wouldn't tolerate being woken up again after today.
He'd had a feeling Sadami put her up to this, "Tanjoubi omedetou!" She smiled and said. Yes, happy birthday I'm nineteen; congratulations now get out he thought in his head, but he was too tired to even lift himself from his position, let alone make any voluntary noise from his vocal chords. His eyes fluttered back closed; too damn tired to even be annoyed. Tobi wasn't normally this drowsy if someone woke him up, but it was his mood and outlook of that autumn day that made him unmotivated.
He started to nod off, Chikako watched as his back rose up and down as he started breathing sleepily—his hand that had been clutching the pillow now dangled off the side of the bed. She raised a brow; aren't people usually excited on their birthdays? Chikako didn't quite have a 'birthday,' but her awakening was three years ago on March 3rd. When she first opened her eyes and saw her creator for the first time. Her first memory of rationality and consciousness was what she considered her birthday.
She knew it wasn't so for others—it was the day their mother birthed them. Had Sadami told her the wrong date, or did Tobi simply not care? She wasn't going to shake him awake again and ask, he was in a deep black out already. "Sadami-kun?" She approached him in the kitchen, pouring himself some juice, "Tobi didn't get up, he didn't even speak to me." The red-head shrugged his shoulders, not surprised.
"Well, what'd you expect?" He replied succinctly, "He's not the kind to be enthusiastic about anything—at least now outwardly." Sadami had learned to accept it; it was simply his personality. Chikako was still baffled.
"But it's his birthday! He should at least want to do something."
Sadami gulped down his orange juice, realizing that drinking it directly after brushing his teeth was a bad idea from the acidic taste, but his response was more from the girl's suggestion, "All Tobi wants to do on his birthdays is be left alone. He hasn't celebrated his birthday since he was sixteen, so don't try to pry him, you'll only piss him off." He used blunt language with the innocent blue-eyed female. Damn, he was swearing before nine in the morning? What was becoming of the fifteen year old? Sadami felt guilty and sipped some more of his juice as punishment.
"Ohh…" Chikako groaned sadly, "I thought Tobi would be happy today. We could celebrate his birthday together."
"Tobi never really celebrated anyway, he just liked to be with his family and mine."
The girl blinked, not realizing that term coming out of Tobi's mouth, "Family?"
"Er, his mom and my family. We lived down the street from each other when he moved here, so it wasn't much. Motoka-san was the only family he had." Sadami grimaced as he remembered her—he remembered her smiles, her warm hugs, the car rides they'd share to baseball games or wherever she and his own mom would take them to. "In fact, maybe that's why he can't stand birthdays… He's still hurting over Motoka…" His voice trailed off, Chikako immediately sensed a gloomy shadow casting over his heart, "This'll be the first birthday I celebrate without my dad…" He had just realized it; and his sixteenth birthday was a month away. No tears were coming, but for some reason the thought made his lip quiver—the dark, rainy weather that morning didn't help change the mood either.
Chikako was nearly becoming catatonic; the negativity around her stung her heart and pierced through it like an iron blade. The pure blue-eyed girl couldn't handle the pain of others because of one reason and one reason only: she didn't understand 'pain.' Not the pain that makes someone yell out but it only lasts a moment—this was a pain she couldn't see. Chikako didn't like what confused or scared her, not without Asa to explain it to her.
What she wasn't understanding was not even Asa could explain that there is pain that people can't sense or see. She stiffened up in a pose that she prayed would bring her security, arms tightly folded against her breasts and fingernails clenching her shoulders, digging into her soft, pale flesh. Sadami came out of his trance and noticed her… She was suddenly so alarmed! "Chikako?" He'd never seen such a look in her eyes.
"Huh?" She loosened her grip.
"What's wrong? You look freaked out." He said, but she let go of her arms, she'd left claw marks.
"Nothing, I'm fine." She had happiness in her tone but there was no smile—no shining white smile that gave everyone in the room the impression that she was happy. For once she might've been bluffing, but Sadami couldn't tell. He simply nodded but gave her a look of doubt with his olive eyes. But soon, another presence entered the room, a presence they weren't expecting for at least another hour, "Tobi-kun!" She said trying to sound excited but instead, it came out confused.
"Hey… Tobi." Sadami chided, but he was ignored as the man swiftly grabbed bottled water from the fridge, took a gulp, and left with it, "Happy birthday?" Sadami sounded unsure of himself, but nonetheless, Tobi turned back to him.
"Thank you…" He mumbled as he didn't even glance back at them. Chikako felt saddened, but Sadami knew that this was typical—it was still a difficult time in his heart. Not because of his adoptive mother dying, but how she died… When Tobi gave up on trying to resuscitate her, he saw a spilt bottle of pills next to the bed, her fingers still slightly curled.
His heart that had already been shattered went spiraling into an abyss where even if someone could find the pieces and repair them, they would never heal the same. Tobi knew it was him. Because she realized she'd adopted a red-eyed freak that she didn't want to live. He questioned all the years of love she gave him, wondering if they were lies.
Those smiles, those kisses, those hugs… The bedtime tuck-ins when he was a child and reading with each other. Were they all a facade for eight years? A sickening masquerade someone was devilish enough to play so that one day they could take the ultimate turn in the finale and conclude the most shocking performance in their life? No… Tobi had once thought she only adopted him because she felt sorry for that miserable ugly creature she found wandering Osaka alone.
But he was overjoyed when he came to remind himself he was wrong… Because no one can fake love. You simply can't. Someone can fake sympathy or friendship… but love is beyond farce. You can't deny it, nor can you fake it.
Tobi was craving Motoka's maskless love as he was buried beneath his dark blue sheets just glancing at her photograph. It had been so long since he had depression over her death, so why now? Why was he letting this even be an issue? God he really was pathetic. He was pathetic the day he was born; a red-eyed mutant who was dropped off at an orphanage's doorstep. Tobi didn't care to know about his true parents; he clearly wasn't good enough for them so why should he bother worrying where they were now?
"Sadami-kun?" Chikako interrupted his thoughts, "If you don't mind me asking you this… How did Asa-san die?" She watched as his face sank into heavy sorrow and he turned his head away.
It felt like an eternity before he replied, "There was a fire at his work-went down a fire escape-old building-fire escape came down…" He mushed his description of it together, the only way he could respond without melting down again. Chikako didn't have to take it in—she could tell from how he described it that it had been bad enough to hear the first time, "Demo," He suddenly turned back to her, "when we dropped him off at work, we hugged and said we'd see each other later… It was… a decent way to leave I guess." His optimism fortunately knew no bounds, he tried to turn this situation into something to appreciate, "We knew we loved each other, and that was the day we were going to find out if I got into Tokyo Tech or not. He said even if I didn't get in, he was proud of me no matter what."
The blonde grinned, "Yokatta." She said, "I'm so glad that you think of it that way. I just wish Tobi-"
"Tobi didn't have the kind of closure I had." He thought aloud, accidentally interrupting her, "The last time he saw his mother before he found her dead was when she stormed out the house."
"I don't know. Something with her brother…" He remembered the details Tobi tried to explain while bawling into his shoulder, "He said he was sure it was his fault that she had such a terrible time when he came over, that she realized he was freakish like everyone else saw him as." They were Tobi's words, not his own. He couldn't blame Tobi for suddenly getting this way, he wasn't purposefully trying to be sad on his birthday or anything—besides, it was still early morning. He had time to perk up… right?
There was a scream from Chamber Number Two, followed by more squealing and wailing. Then more, then more. Finally when it wouldn't cease, the scientists were sent in with some guards, only to find Number Two flat on his stomach on the cold metal ground with his arms and legs splayed out, his body was shaking violently in a seizure. His face was red from how much he'd been crying; he'd been neglected and in pain during his time of fright.
Something had gone wrong with his bio-implant and a neuron misfired, causing hid body to go into a full malfunction. The scientists treated him and brought him to an operating room while he was sedated to readjust the implant because it had somehow been misplaced. They were sure it was Noboru's own mistake of trying to remove it himself. The ten-year-old, about a few hours later, was barely conscious when his body was relaxed once more. He'd been shot, stabbed with needles and had objects thrown at him, but he'd never been attacked by his own body before.
That was something that could frighten him.
Akiko was the last to hear the news—his pain medications had made him def to the world once he fell asleep. He rubbed his eyes from behind his glasses, needing to be practical since he only had one hand in use, he didn't have the ease of taking off his glasses with one hand and scratching his tired eyes with the other. Walking down the hall, he was startled when the door to his right suddenly opened in front of him and his face kept it from hitting the wall.
He yelped out in pain and the young man who'd opened the door yelled out as well, "Oh!" Mitsuru heard his cry and slowly shut it, "Midorama-san, sumimasen… You hurt?" The poor unsuspecting man rubbed his at his brow bone.
"No… It was bound to happen at some point today anyway." He made a joke but there was no emotion to his voice—Mitsuru did the chuckling for him.
"How's your arm?" He looked at the blue sash still keeping his arm positioned.
"Still giving me a hard time sleeping." Akiko said in a deadpan tone. He had always been the person who slept on his sides—but now he had to deal with not being able to stretch his left arm or turn onto his left arm. "Why are you up and around this early?"
"Akiko, it's ten in the morning."
"Is it?" He didn't have a watch on him, he never knew the time unless someone else told him or if he checked in the control room, "Damn, slept later than I thought."
"It's no trouble," Mitsuru's expression quickly changed, "but we had a major emergency with a subject this morning."
Akiko wiped his glasses, worried that if he blinked, he'd pass back out in front of the man, "Which subject?"
"Subject Number Two."
Akiko's eyes cleared and came to a sudden awakening, "What?!"
He nodded, "He had a seizure this morning, we think he was trying to remove his spinal implant by himself."
"Where is he now?" Right as Mitsuru told him the operating room, the man pushed his glasses back on and rushed off, not letting the right-hand man of Kurosawa finish what he had to say. He went to call him back, but he was befuddled by how shaken the man was by this. Akiko wasted no time getting to the second floor and down the clinic hallways. There was a guard in front of the door, just in case Noboru got any ideas despite the bio-implant restricted such from happening.
"Excuse me, no one is allowed in."
Akiko scowled, "I'm his doctor, I'm here to give him his medicine." He lied, calm underneath a layer of pure anger. The man in formal clothing and a pistol hooked to his belt gave him a suspicious brow raise, but soon enough he stepped aside and let the man slide in. He saw Noboru lying on his side on a bench—they didn't have the decency to give him sheets or a pillow, just a cold metal bench.
"Noboru?" The boy's eyes widened and he shot up.
"Akiko?" When he looked at him, the first thing he noticed was the large bruise on his cheek—not even gentle tan skin could hide the abrasion. Akiko asked him what happened, "I fell out of bed and started shaking… Everything hurt and I couldn't control myself." He rubbed his arms, still feeling sore.
"Why do you think that happened? You're not epileptic." He saw Noboru's eyes gleam and he bowed his head shamefully. Akiko became stern, but remained gentle with him, "Noboru, it doesn't matter to me if you tried to take it off yourself or not, but you have to tell me so I'll know it won't happen again."
The ten-year-old turned his head the other way, no remorse in his face, but fear. Akiko was patient, he'd wait for a response. "My door was opened last night… I couldn't see very well who it was but someone came in and did something to my restraint." His shock-collar, basically; he rubbed the plastic surface on the back of his neck, "I thought I was dreaming, but when it I felt the nerve pinch I knew someone was there. At that point my neck hurt so much I couldn't turn around to see who it was, it happened so quickly."
Akiko had his knuckles at his lips, trying to decipher what had truly got on that morning, "Akiko-san, do you have an idea?" Noboru could easily read his facial expression and body language.
"I'm not sure… But I think that…" Was Kurosawa really pushing those limits to keep him under his belt? Or was his life actually on the line? Not that it wasn't already shortened from all the trauma he'd experienced. No one wanted to say so, but the German psychiatrists they occasionally brought in for examination had concluded that all the subjects would have a mental breakdown at some point. Noboru just happened to have thick skin for his age.
Seeing the fragility in his burgundy eyes made him re-think his previous statement, "I think that someone just made a mistake when they examined your implant and it won't happen again." Even though he was called a 'specimen' Noboru was just a child. He swore like a bitter elderly man that had gotten drunk at a late night bar and could say things that were as venomous as a cobra, but still, he was only a child.
There wasn't another exchange of words between the two, but Akiko felt a sudden weight on him. An arm was wrapped around his body and a head was on his chest, avoiding the sling cast. Akiko didn't respond, he just let his jaw hang loose, "Akiko… Would you…" He felt Noboru slide his head up to look into his eyes, "Would you…" He took long pauses so he wouldn't cry like some whiny child, "Would you leave if you had the chance?"
His brown eyes widened, the glasses magnifying them enough as it was. The boy continued, "I know Kurosawa shot you because you tried to leave… Didn't he?" He needed not to answer, "You still have a chance… If you do, would you take me with you?"
"Noboru…" He rubbed his hair with his only available arm, "I'm sorry." Noboru's heart sank, "I wish I could take you away from here, I wish I could take all of you away from here." He held the back of Noboru's head, making sure he had his full attention, "But even if I did get away, even if I took you with me, Kurosawa would find us and kill us both…" He looked away from him, "He's so good, he'd probably kill us before we could even tell anyone what was going on."
"So, what you're saying is there's no hope?" Akiko hadn't meant to make that impression, but before he could reassure the boy, the guard shoved the door open.
"Sir?" The biologist asked.
"There's been an alert, Mitsuru said to gather in the presentation lounge now!"
There was another massive news story going around, but this time, it wasn't about death, but near death. Sadami and Chikako (and probably the rest of Tokyo) were glued to the television set: "This is the third mentioning of a 'creature' malformed and groaning skulking around the Tokyo metropolis, so we've taken action to find the people who claim to have spotted this figure."
The nineteen-year-old birthday boy had showered, changed clothes and was thankfully out in the living room with the two, but remained silent and indifferent to the news, as if he wasn't even there with them. Sadami was immersed in the story while Chikako kept glancing at the oddly saddened Tobi. He seemed deep in thought about something—she could tell by his eyes he wasn't in the room at the moment, "Chikako! Tobi!" She took her eyes off of the young man and Tobi briefly looked at the red-head, the media had pulled up a screenshot of a photo taken by one of the 'spotters'. The headline read Special Effects? Or Real Life Horror Film?
Chikako gasped, Sadami winced, and Tobi nearly vomited at the sight; the picture depicted, from a distance zoomed in, it looked like some reanimated corpse that had been soaking in sea water for weeks, sharpened teeth and bleeding eyes… No, its eyes were just pure red. "Looks like a fucking necromorph from Dead Space!" Tobi exclaimed, wishing he was exaggerating.
"At first we thought it was a rabid dog, we heard this weird screeching from out in the back yard but when my dad and I went outside, we saw these glowing, pussy eyes and ran. The next morning we saw these clawed footprints… No way in hell were we gonna follow it!" Said the teenage boy on the screen.
"And this is in Tokyo?" Tobi wondered aloud, usually nothing bizarre ever happened that close to home. Yet another problem, Sadami thought.
"Hey, maybe we won't get so many tourists next summer…" Sadami said with an indifferent expression, both the blonde and red-eyed man looked at him, "What?"
Tobi grabbed the remote, "Go back to the picture!" He rewound the video, he accidentally went too far by a few seconds but tried to pause it at just the right time. Tobi stood up and went closer to the television… something seemed familiar about the creature starved of any human features.
The scientists in Osaka recognized it immediately, "Is that Subject Seventeen?"
"I thought she drowned!"
"Her mutations were heightened, as if someone gave her the wrong shot!"
Akiko's eyes were bulging and full of fear—his fingernails were in his mouth.
Tobi nearly pressed his face onto the screen—but the creature's eyes were red… definitely red. He reared back, unsure if it was just that particular animal-like thing, or if he wasn't alone after all.
"Tobi?" Sadami leaned around him to try and see the screen, "You okay?"
"Yeah." He still had control of the channel, "Look, let's watch something else. My birthday, my choice." He tried to joke, but the two knew that something had shaken him… Hell, half of Tokyo was shaken.