❯ Mystic Visions – Hatoko ( Chapter 4 )
AN: Rather too much angst, I think, but more to the point… No Wizard for a second chapter in a row, sorry! Eh heh, what are you doing with that rotten tomato, please don’t… eh heh… (nervous grin) But don’t worry, the next chapter will have twice as much Wizard as usual to make up for it, including the first of several climactic scenes as far as their relationship is concerned… pfft, git yer mind outta da gutter, snicker, it’s only rated T after all… okay, for the moment it is, anyway… And anyway, as far as this chapter is concerned, you get Hatoko-chan instead! (cowers before the rotten fruit)
Chapter Three: Hatoko
That night, much to his surprise, Oujiro was blissfully free of dreams. He slept in late, and then puttered uselessly around the house in his pajamas for a few hours, until he just couldn’t take it any more. He lifted Wizard from his personal throne on his desk, and carried him to his in-home layer (courtesy of his elder brother, of course).
The small field buzzed softly and emitted a soothing, golden glow. Oujiro stared into Wizard’s unblinking eyes for a long time, and wondered… Eventually, though he didn’t know if he had consciously willed him closer or not, Wizard moved, stepping up to the rim of the layer.
As they touched, right at the very edge of the barrier, Oujiro noted how Wizard’s tiny hand was just about the same size as the end of his finger. It was all just… too crazy…
Scowling, Oujiro switched the layer off with perhaps a somewhat excessive amount of force, and left the lifeless doll where it fell as he stalked out of the house.
Shouko looked a bit ill herself when she came to the door – Oujiro had a sneaking feeling that she hadn’t slept as well as he had last night – but she managed to muster up a smile. “Hn. Misaki sure is popular. Kotaro, his little sister, and Tamayo are already in there… Go ahead.”
When he entered the dimly lit room again, the atmosphere was decidedly grim. Tamayo sat in the chair, clasping Misaki’s hand, and the others stood on either side of her. “Oujiro-kun,” Hatoko murmured; the others just glanced up when he came in, and looked away again. He arched an eyebrow at them; it was as if they were already in mourning, for crying out loud…
Hatoko seemed to notice his expression, and left the bedside to come to him. “The doctor came last night,” she explained softly. “He couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with her, but he thinks… she might slip into a coma. They’re going to take her to a hospital if she doesn’t wake up today.”
The girl, Oujiro noted, spoke quite calmly – but the effect was ruined by the puffiness around her eyes… “She hasn’t said anything today, then?” he asked, rather tensely.
“She hasn’t been awake, if that’s what you mean.” Hatoko gazed at him solemnly. “She talks, though – like she’s talking to Hikaru.”
“How strange,” Oujiro managed. The girl’s eyes narrowed.
“Have-” Hatoko cast a suspicious glance back at the other two, and Oujiro jerked in mild surprise as she grabbed his hand. “Ano, I mean, may I speak to you in private?”
“Of course,” he muttered; curiosity was itching in the back of his mind, and he wished the girl could be a bit more expressive, Lord, she was only in kindergarten, a face like a brick wall… He wasn’t sure who was dragging whom into the next room.
As soon as they were behind closed doors, Hatoko gazed intently up at him, flushing slightly; whether it was from embarrassment or eagerness, he couldn’t tell. “Has… ah… Has your angel ever talked to you?” she blurted.
He stared back for a long moment, and then grinned wryly. “Now, I’m curious, how were you going to get out of that if I’d said `no’?”
She just glowered at him, and tugged the hem of his shirt urgently. “So – he has?” Oujiro nodded mutely. “So has mine,” Hatoko whispered. “When – whenever I put her in the layer -” She gave a weak smile. “I thought I was going crazy… I hear her when I start daydreaming too, sometimes, when my guard is down… But, right before it all started, I was having dreams about her, though she never spoke to me then.”
Oujiro let all his breath out in a heavy sigh, and raked a hand through his hair. He tugged on a long strand absentmindedly as he hypothesized: “Maybe it happens to different people with varying level of intensity… I’ve, ah, been having the dreams, too.” He gave her a quizzical look, and opened his mouth as if to speak, but closed it abruptly as he decided that he wasn’t even going to try. “Have you talked to anyone else about this?” he asked instead.
She shook her head. “But I’m thinking… that maybe we should get together with some of the other members of the MYSTIC project,” she added significantly.
“Oh,” he breathed, as everything slotted into place. It had been right in front of him, really… He managed a shaky chuckle. “Oh, my… Well, I’ll talk to my brother after school tomorrow, I guess…” He shrugged apologetically. “I’d call him right now if I could, but generally on Sundays he’s, ah, pretty hard to track down, even Ogata normally can’t find him… I apologize for his laziness…”
She smiled, sudden and bright. “Oh, that’s okay. You should stay with Misaki-chan today, of course.” For some reason, he felt a twinge of guilt at that, and he wondered why. If it showed on his face, Hatoko ignored it. “But do you think he’ll believe us? I wouldn’t believe it if I could come up with anything better. It’s not as if he’s been implanting circuitry in our brains; I just can’t imagine how…”
“Well, it’s nearly A.I.,” Oujiro said thoughtfully. “It’s nearly like being linked with another mind…” They stared at each other, both trying to take it all in; looking a bit overwhelm, Hatoko eventually looked away first, and studied her shoes.
“If – if this happens to everyone… will it ruin your a-nii’s project?”
Oujiro moaned; he hadn’t even thought about that yet. Of course, because who wouldn’t want to be repeatedly assaulted by a horny, life-sized version of their angel? Oh, no, who wouldn’t want their child to be repeatedly assaulted – lawsuits – He shuddered, and spread his hands helplessly. “I – I don’t know what will happen. Of course, knowing nii-san, he might be just crazy enough to go ahead and – well – I just don’t know.”
She smiled sadly up at him. “I’m sorry…”
He shrugged again, valiantly. “Oh well. At least, if what’s happing to Hikaru is the same as what happened to us, only stronger, then I think she should wake up okay sooner or later.” He felt another pang of guilt at that, and this time he understood it perfectly – she was only in kindergarten, after all, he shouldn’t make promises like that to a kindergartener… It seemed to cheer her so greatly, though, that he couldn’t bring himself to take it back. He allowed her to take his hand again as they went back to the others, because he rather felt like he’d like to hold someone’s hand right now too, and they watched over Misaki in contemplative silence.