Emilogue Part Trois; Chapitre Un

mehkanik May 12th, 2012 7,634 Never
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  1. Emilogue Part Trois; Chapitre Un
  2. As Long As You're Still Alive
  4. Author's note: I know abso-fucking-lutely nothing about radiology, so that part of the story may not be completely realistic. I did as well as I could with some basic research and creativity.
  6. "Hey, Hisaoooo,"
  8. I hear Emi's voice bounding out of our bedroom. I'm practically resting my forehead on my cup of coffee. I've been straining my eyes, trying to find a bigger place for us to live, without completely killing me with expenditures.
  10. "Yes?" My fingers dance across the keyboard, pausing shortly so I can sip from my mug of coffee. It's hard finding anything in the local area that accommodates my needs, Emi's growing needs...
  12. And all I have is an unpaid internship at a local hospital and a part time job I've barely been sustaining myself with.
  14. "Can you help me get my legs on?" Emi asks cheerfully. I sigh very quietly so that she doesn't hear me. "Sure thing."
  16. Walking into our bedroom, there she is. Girlfriend of three years. Light of my life. Creator of my bills. Consumer of all food. Emi Ibarazaki.
  18. She's holding her two prosthetic legs out to me. Naturally, she would never have asked, but a recent predicament has disabled her from most of her usual activities and habits.
  20. She's five months pregnant.
  22. I guess that's what happens when you have a girlfriend who's forgetful with her birth control, irresponsible and prefers sex without condoms.
  24. I have to give her credit though, she's been a doll to me despite the fact she's the one suffering.
  26. The back pains, her inability to run, the random cravings and urges that I have to cater to as well as her outrageous hormonal moodswings- the list goes on and on. She always apologizes for them and does the best she can to make it up to me.
  28. Which I tell her she doesn't need to, but she does anyways.
  30. I take hold of her two legs while Emi just sits there, alit with glow. The concept of being a mother seems magical to her. Personally? I'm still horrified that I'm going to be a dad in about four months.
  32. I don't have the kind of money to support our future child, nevermind a proper home where that child can grow. The concept of parenthood frightens me. I don't even know what I'm going to name the kid, or whether it's a girl or boy.
  34. Emi's dead-set on it being a surprise. Neither of us know whether it'll be a boy or a girl. She usually picks out a bunch of names and asks me my opinion on each, dwelling on every meaning.
  36. The only reason why I haven't told her about my fears, my worries, my reservations about all of this-
  38. Is the same reason why I'm smiling against my will.
  40. I've never seen her so happy.
  42. I begin to wrap the bandages around the ends of her legs while Emi starts to hum, the tone slowly increasing.
  44. "mmmmmMMMMMMMMMMM..."
  46. It almost sounds like she's charging up for a special attack or something.
  48. "...Bump!
  50. She pushes her stomach forward, which my face is already close to while attaching her legs. She catches me off guard, causing me to fall backwards a bit.
  52. I sigh. "Why'd you do that? You can't go using your stomach as a weapon, you know."
  54. Emi giggles, placing a hand on her belly. "Don't worry so much. The baby was just kicking, so I did what I thought they wanted." I arch an eyebrow at her.
  56. "So you think our child wanted to kick me in the head, so you bumped me with your stomach?"
  58. My girlfriend nods cheerfully. "Yep!" She adds a giggle for good measure. I shake my head.
  60. While I helped Emi get her legs on, I think about how she refers to our child. She's always so careful about what pronouns she uses. Emi had her ideas about whether it was a boy or girl, but she never talked about them.
  62. 'What part of wanting it to be a ~surprise~ is so hard to understand?'
  64. "Any luck on the house hunting?" She stands up with an effort-filled huff, placing a hand underneath her stomach like it's a package to carry. Right now, Emi feels her Emiest. Look of determination and happiness on her face.
  66. "Barely."
  68. That could change if I could convince the higher-ups to take me as an actual radiologist, rather than having me around as an intern to fetch coffee and lunches for the tenured staff I work under at the hospital.
  70. "I'm sure you'll find something. No worries. Even if we can't, I think our baby would be fine here." That warm smile of hers always makes it so damn hard to stay pissed at the world.
  72. I keep asking her if she'd like me to propose, to avoid what people might think about the fact that she's having a baby out of wedlock.
  74. 'Honestly, Hisao? Forget what everyone thinks. I'm happy and I know you're happy. Why do we need to pay out our noses for a ceremony to prove it to everyone? I'd love one someday, but not because you feel obligated to. I want it to be more special than that.'
  76. I don't know how I got so lucky with this girl. Infinitely understanding, loyal to a fault. And something else in bed.
  78. On another note, while I'm thinking about why she's such a great girl-
  80. Emi's been doing much better with her mother's boyfriend too. They've... well, he's moved into her house. Emi was a little weirded out by it, but she shrugged it off pretty quick. I'm glad she's being a little more accepting since then.
  82. I guess she's giving them a break because they didn't lecture me too hard about being a father and how to be a proper father. I think they could see I already had the fear of God in me about parenthood.
  84. "You're so slow, Hisao." Emi teased. I have been taking my time putting her legs back on, haven't I? "Yeah, yeah. Sorry. I'm tired. Haven't slept much."
  86. "I know. You toss and turn all night."
  88. I stand up, kissing her on the lips. "Sorry, I must wake you up, huh? I'm going to go back to house hunting, maybe I'll find a good one we can rent. Who knows."
  90. As I walked out of our bedroom, Emi following shortly behind, I heard my phone start to ring. Hm.
  92. Walking over to it and grinning at the waddling Emi, I pick up the phone. "Hello?"
  94. A familiar, gruff voice answers. "Hey, Hisao. It's Mut- Ah, Akio. Fuck surnames already." An awkward laugh accompanies his words. I smirk a bit at his informal speech, he's changed a lot around me since I graduated. Less stiff, more natural. "What's up?"
  96. "I'm coming by, remember? You asked me if I knew any people to help get you a better job. I said about a week ago that I'd get you an interview and I was going to bring you there."
  98. A surging panic forms in my stomach, rushes to my chest and erupts from my mouth in the form of a monosyllabic statement:
  100. "Fuuuuuuu-"
  102. "You're not ready, huh?"
  104. "Not whatsoever. Call me when you're outside."
  106. "Hurry up." Akio hangs up and I immediately vault over our couch and into the bedroom.
  108. "What's the matter?" Emi asks, looking tentatively at the fridge and what food may lie within. She's not a very good chef, so it's usually up to me to make her food.
  110. "I'm not going to be able to make lunch, I've got to run and I completely forgot." I called out from the bedroom as I threw on a collared shirt and tie, suit jacket and pulled on a pair of slacks.
  112. The kind of jobs I usually apply for as a medical physicist are with the government, so I've made a point to keep at least one or two gray suits for interviews. Fuck, where did I put my resume? I usually keep a few printed out just in case...
  114. After making sure my tie is straight and the clothes I'm wearing aren't wrinkled, I start tearing apart our bedroom for one of those resumes I need so direly.
  116. Emi waddles into the bedroom, holding a paperclipped stack of papers. "Lookiiiiing for this?" I rush over, kissing her on the cheek and taking the resume.
  118. "Thank you, penguin."
  120. "Hey! I told you to stop calling me that." She pouts at me. It's not her fault that it's hard to walk with that belly on prosthetic legs, but I can't help it.
  122. "I don't think I can, the way you walk is too much for me."
  124. She pushes me and waddles away angrily. "Jerk!"
  126. "You still love me!" I call out from the living room as I check my watch. It's... been about ten minutes. No call from Akio. When's he getting here?
  128. "Sometimes I wonder why!" She exclaims playfully.
  130. "I would say that it's because of the sex, but you haven't gotten much of that since I got you pregnant. And yet, you're still here."
  132. She grins smugly at me. "It's because I have someone off to the side, taking care of my sexual needs." Oh yeah? I walk into the living room.
  134. "Really now? Mind telling me who that would be?" I ask as I sneak over to her where she sits on the couch.
  136. "Someone from work, obviously. You know how the guys are at the physical rehab center. All muscular, sweaty. Plus, they have giant-"
  138. Alright, you're not allowed to finish that sentence, even though I know you're joking. I push her over onto her back and crawl over her.
  140. "Well, you know I'd take care of you if you'd just ask."
  142. She grins deviously at me. "I know. I just like it better when you take initiative, Hisao..." Her words trail off as I start kissing down her neck, causing her breaths to become shallow.
  144. "Hisao..." Emi's voice was seductive and pleading. Like I've said, she's been so good with all things considered. I feel like this is a good way to thank her.
  146. My lips find their way to her collarbone, where I nibble gently. She's completely silent, her hands finding their way to my shoulders, gripping them firmly. She wants this and her tensing grip makes that clear.
  148. I pull down the loose collar of the shirt she's wearing, down to her chest. "Ahhh- H-Hisao, I'm tender there..." I know, that's exactly why I'm doing this. Emi's always so resilient and forceful. Now, while her hormones are all over the place and her entire body is sensitive- I can do as I please.
  150. My tongue reaches the sensitive tip of her nipple,
  152. And my phone goes off, causing Emi to jump. We butt foreheads and I reel backwards.
  154. Mood ruined.
  156. It's Akio. "Hey, Hisao. Outside. C'mon." Man of few words and impeccable timing. Such is life. "We'll pick this up later, okay?" Emi seems a little displeased, but knows I've got to run for something important.
  158. "I'll grab some groceries on the way back so I can make something. Anything you want?" I ask, tightening my tie quickly in the mirror as I hear Akio press against his horn.
  160. "Mmm, I dunno. Surprise me!" I laugh. Alright, I'll do my best.
  162. "I'll be back later, hun."
  164. "Bye!"
  166. Getting into the car with Akio, he glances over to me. Those tired eyes look more familiar than usual.
  168. "You're starting to look like me, kid."
  170. I arch an eyebrow at him. "Eh?" He pulls down the visor in front of me, opening it so I can look in the mirror.
  172. Oh god. He's right. I look like I haven't slept in days, which is an expression that Mutou wears like it's fashionable.
  174. A low chuckle from my former educator. "No big deal. Catch a nap on the drive. It's a bit of a way to the interview."
  176. I recline the chair a bit while Mutou pulls out of our apartment's driveway. "Where's the interview being held at?"
  178. "A private company's headquarters. They've been looking for a medical physicist for a while and I told them I knew an up-and-comer."
  180. Although I was leaning back and already feeling tired from my poor sleep habits, I perked up a bit at this.
  182. "Oh? Private company, huh?"
  184. Akio nods. "Yep. Good thing you got out of the theoretical branch of physics in college. That stuff's fascinating, but useless in a career, mostly."
  186. He's right on that. After switching from that focus, I started thinking about medical science, but I found that I was much more interested in some of the physics involved behind the medicine.
  188. What I've been taught to do over the last four years involves improving technologies used in hospitals as well as anything involving radiation. It's proven to be more fun than the science of making medicine, I've found.
  190. Plus, one of the main reasons I looked into medicine was potentially elongating my own life. But lately, my doctors are amazed at how well I'm holding up with my arrythmia. With new medicines and my healthy life ethic, they think I'm going to live much longer than they anticipated.
  192. I figure now I'll use my life to help others improve theirs.
  194. "What'll they have me doing?" My eyes are already starting to feel heavy.
  196. "Provided you get the position they need filled, they'll have you working under one of their senior med physicists with a team of scientists. They're a research firm that comes up with and patents new technology to be used in hospitals."
  198. As much as I hate associating money with things regarding the outcome of someone's life, I do need to make a living.
  200. "What's the money look like? Can I quit my part-time job?" Mutou's response to my question is laughter. More of that unusual, uncharacteristic laughter.
  202. "Hisao, you're looking at the high spectrum of a seven digit yearly."
  204. I sat up so fast my head nearly came off of my shoulders. The higher end of... millions? Yen? Per year? I started counting off on my fingers, projecting for the next few months.
  206. Our baby would be raised in our apartment, but if I started saving up as much of my earnings as possible and spread my savings out, I could start looking at getting a real home for us. Before our child turns one.
  208. Hell, I could even pay my parents back for my time at the university at the same time.
  210. "That's all providing you don't mess up your interview. So count your money in your sleep and try to get some rest before you get there. They aren't going to want to hire a barely conscious scientist even if I tell them they should."
  212. I think for the first time in a while, I sleep comfortably. For that brief span of time I was between the bounds of sleep and waking, I wasn't worried.
  214. All I had to do was nail this interview and all our financial troubles would be settled. I'd be set. No more stretching money for food or worrying about rent.
  216. =====
  218. I feel a hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake.
  220. "Hey, kiddo. We're here." We're a couple cities away, that much I can recognize the minute I sit up. What surprises me is when I see the enormous corporate building to the side of our vehicle.
  222. A&H LTD.
  224. Akita-Hirase. These guys were a powerhouse in the Japanese business for medical equipment. They had their fingers in a lot of different pies when it came to developing new technologies.
  226. "Akio... how do you...? Are you serious?" I'm nearly unintelligible, I struggle to even find those few words.
  228. "Once upon a time, I really immersed myself in science. Was one of those 'bright minds' that scientists  blather on and on about nowadays."
  230. His expression crumpled a little.
  232. "It got me places, it made me money. It let me provide, but it cost me a lot in the end, Hisao." Uh-oh. We're getting into mentor-student mode all of a sudden.
  234. "Remember why you're trying to get this job."
  236. "For-" Mutou cuts me off here. "For Emi. For your child. For your family and your future. Don't forget that you're doing this because you enjoy it, but also that the main reason you're doing it is for your family."
  238. He heaves a deep sigh.
  240. "If you end up forgetting that, they'll wind up forgetting about you too." The look in Akio's eyes tell me that he's experienced this first-hand.
  242. "Don't let that happen, alright?" I pat him on the back. I can tell this topic is difficult for him. I've heard little whispers about his wife... infidelity and fights leading to divorce and Mutou nearly losing everything.
  244. "I won't, don't worry. I'm alive because of Emi. I'm not about to forget about that and get lost in my work." He grins at me. "Good. Now, when's your kid being born? I'm still the godfather, right?"
  246. "Well, Kenji's challenged you to a bare-knuckled fist-fight over that right." I glance over to my mentor with a grin as he leads me into the company building.
  248. "Really?"
  250. I nod. "Yeah, he said he's just waiting for his moustache to grow in fuller so he can wax it into a handlebar 'stache. Says it'll give him more strength in battle."
  252. Mutou rolls his eyes, running a hand through his faint hair, something he does like a nervous habit. "You can't be serious."
  254. "He's dead-set on it."
  256. "Oh for the love of-"
  258. =====
  260. It's been a few weeks since that interview. I have no idea whether it went good or bad. I call them from time to time, but always tell me they're in deliberation still about my application. I feel like I performed exactly as well as I should've and had more than ample resources in my resume to be considered applicable.
  262. I mean, I have a ton of volunteer work with hospitals working with other physicists and engineers. And my internship. Plus, my thesis paper in university was a really good look at a lot of contemporary science that can be disproven with recent discoveries and innovations.
  264. I even spent a god-damn long time on a thesis paper back in university that had the potential to debunk a cornerstone of modern medical science.
  266. The only issue is that there's a just that right amount of reasonable doubt behind all of it. And the fact that proving those already proven conventions wrong would cost a lot of money that few places actually have.
  268. They asked me about that thesis paper, actually. They were very interested in my thoughts about it.
  270. I hope that will be my selling point. I'm an innovative thinker, thinking ahead of the curve. In a private business, risk with higher reward is something they make money from.
  272. Still, I haven't gotten a call from them letting me know whether I'd be hired. No word from Akio, either.
  274. "Hisao?"
  276. "Huh?"
  278. "I was asking when dinner was going to be ready."
  280. Ah, right. I was making a 'romantic' dinner for the both of us, considering how much of a hard time she has walking. We can't really go to a restaurant, what with her constant need to use the bathroom or her everpresent soreness souring her mood.
  282. Despite all that, she still attempts daily walks and tries to play with the kids at the local park. Emi had actually just gotten back from her usual walk, which I usually accompany her with.
  284. Instead, I've been busy calling people and seeing if I could barter them down on rent or mortgage costs, though. Got to plan for everything, in case that interview never pans out.
  286. No luck so far. That was what's been distracting me.
  288. It's what's still distracting me.
  290. "Soon, love. Sorry. I'm..."
  292. She kisses me on the cheek. "I totally understand. You have a lot on your mind. You're under a lot of pressure."
  294. Emi leans on my shoulder, smiling at me. Her stomach rests against my side and I put down the utensil I'm preparing food with.
  296. I want to take a break from all of this responsibility and just spend some time with Emi. I place my hand where our baby is resting.
  298. "Even though I'm the one who has to give birth, you've got so much to worry about. Sure, it'll hurt for me when I give birth. And it sort of makes day to day life until then inconvenient,"
  300. Emi's lips graze the skin of my neck.
  302. "But you have all sorts of responsibilities weighing you down now. You have to provide for me and the baby now, you have to look for a new home, and you're always taking such good care of me. You lose sleep, you work nearly thirty hours a week or more and are constantly trying to put your degree towards getting a full-time work."
  304. She looks a little sad.
  306. "I'm starting to think maybe me getting pregnant was a bad thing, because of how much you're suffering..."
  308. I take her chin between my forefinger and thumb, lifting it to my eyes.
  310. "Hey. No."
  312. "Huh?"
  314. "Don't you dare say that. This isn't suffering. I'm damn happy I get to carry this burden. I'm lucky that I have you." I pause, my voice a bit shaken.
  316. "I'm lucky that this is happening, as much as it scares the living shit out of me." I laugh, to lighten the mood.
  318. "Think about it, Em. What ambitions did we have? Where were we going? What were we doing with our lives?" She takes in a breath, but she doesn't know. I know she doesn't. This is our life together, a series of serendipidous events chained in tandem by taking it a day at a time.
  320. "This is something we both need. It's driving me to do more, achieve more, so I can create a proper future for you and our child." Emi gives me a soft, acknowledging smile.
  322. "And Emi."
  324. She rests her head on my shoulder. "Yeah?"
  326. "I know how you always look at kids when we pass by them at parks. That's why you like going to parks and zoos all the time when we're free. You love kids and how happy families look together." She probably misses what it felt like, having a complete family.
  328. "Be quiet, you."
  330. "I'd almost be willing to say you didn't 'forget' to take your birth control and just wanted to trap me into us having a kid together."
  332. Silence from Emi. "Emi?" Still nothing.
  334. "You didn't actually, did you?"
  336. When she looks up at me, the expression similar to one she wore once when I caught her with her hand in our usually off-limits cookie-jar. "I was going to tell you after, but you had to go and figure it out! I can't even deny it, you know I suck at lying."
  338. "Emi." I frown at her and she presses her hand on top of mine, still resting on her stomach. She's trying to keep me from getting mad, even though I'm not, nor could I.
  340. "But you were just saying how it was such a good thing! Giving us direction. I... I realized the same thing. So, I..."
  342. I kiss her, my lips warm and firm against hers. "It's okay. It wasn't the most ethical thing to do I guess, but I know your heart was in the right place. Now let me toil over a nice dinner for you, in addition to everything else I do."
  344. There's a tone of teasing to her, so she shoves me over. "Not this time! I'm going to help."
  346. "Emi, we know how this went last time. Sure, you're good at diet regiments, but you can't cook at all." I laugh at her pout.
  348. "I can! Just... just tell me what to do! I can follow directions. I'll cook you the best meal ever, so long as you help me." She says the tail end of that sentence in a barely audible whisper.
  350. I sigh, showing her how to use the knife to cut properly and without cutting herself.
  352. "Okay, you hold it like this..." I say, holding her hand and guiding her through the motions. As I show her the little tricks I've learned over the years, I see her expression lighten and a soft glee cover her expression.
  354. It's probably that I'm in such close proximity and even when faced with things that would make anyone angry, I'm able to understand. Able to accept it.
  356. Would any other person be able to take so calmly that the cause of their stresses was because of scenario planned by their girlfriend?
  358. Probably not. There's admiration, love and contentedness in her expression. I'm glad. I wouldn't have it any other way.
  360. A nice dinner (or as nice as I can make it given our funds) later, we're sitting at the table, chatting about each other's day.
  362. Mine was obviously hell. I've been stuck in the hospital, dealing with everyone driving me like a slave. Running crappy errands, doing all the legwork that the actual employees don't want to do. And then usually right out of that internship, I have to go run to my part-time job in retail and deal with discontent customers all day.
  364. I don't do much but give her a sigh and explain that a better part of my day was spent I could finally get home and just relax while eating dinner.
  366. Emi smiles and lets it go and starts talking about how she dislikes the fact she can't do any of the things she always does. Walking's getting more tiring for her, even with how fit she is.
  368. "Why not try gardening? Doesn't require as much walking, so your back won't hurt and you won't tire as quickly. You'd just sit and work on some flowers, or maybe you could plant some food."
  370. Emi seems to be thinking about this seriously. "I could plant some nice, healthy foods that you could cook with. It'd save us money and would give me something to do!" She admits.
  372. I feel a grin spreading across my face. "I'll ask the landlord if it's alright later. We do have a small yard, why not use it a little?" I rinse the dishes in the sink, wiping them down and putting them in the strainer to dry.
  374. "So, wanna watch a movie?" Emi declares excitedly from the couch in front of the TV. She's already holding DVDs up for me to choose from.
  376. "Ehhh..." I'd like to sleep, but she's already turning them over and reading the descriptions. One's a comedy and the other one's a romantic drama or something.
  378. "I don't remember owning either of these." I lean over her shoulder, reading them and getting a look at the actors for myself. A triumphant laugh from Emi. "I walked to the movie rental place yesterday! I thought it'd be nice to watch one of these two."
  380. I point at the romantic drama. At least this one will let me sleep through it, the comedy will have Emi laughing up a storm and me awake.
  382. "Wow, I was expecting you to pick the other." Emi seems a bit surprised as I join her on the couch. "Why's that?" She sidles against me, taking hold of my arm with hers, resting her head on my shoulder.
  384. "I dunno. Just did! Comedy seems more your thing. You always prefer jokes and smiles to serious things." Maybe she's a little right on that one.
  386. Either way, I kiss her atop the head and turn towards the movie. Maybe some times in life just required a little more of a serious tone, huh?
  388. =====
  390. "Working agaaaaain?" Emi groans. I frown at her, but quickly turn it into a smile. We've had some pretty one-sided fights lately and I'd like to avoid more of them if possible.
  392. "Yes, I'm sorry. I told them that I'm taking Saturday off, no matter what. Just you and me. And we're going to your favorite restaurant that day." I walk towards her, placing my hands on her cheeks, trying to guide her eyes into mine.
  394. If there's one thing that she can't stay angry at, even if it's because of hormones, is when I smile and look at her in the eyes.
  396. "C'mon, look at me Em. I want to see those beautiful green eyes of yours."
  398. She 'harumphs' at me, trying to continue avoiding my gaze.
  400. "No! It's like you know magic or something and it only works if I look at you. I want to be mad. I want to spend TODAY with you."
  402. I sigh, Mutou's words crawling into the back of my head. 'Don't forget why you got this job, or they'll forget about you too.'
  404. "What if I get out early? I mean, I'm only co-supervisor. I think I can get away with leaving a little early. We can go today." She pouts, her cheeks puffing out underneath my hands.
  406. With a little bit of pressure, I cause that stored air to escape her mouth, causing her to make a silly sound.
  408. "I'll take that as a 'Yes dear, that sounds marvelous. See you at seven'?" A smile cracks her grumpy expression. Emi's a sucker for a good laugh or childish jokes.
  410. She sighs, turning her gaze towards mine. "Fiiiiine. Seven o'clock sharp, though! I miss you. You're always working, or doing work at home."
  412. I lean forward, kissing her deeper than she expects. When I pull away, her face is red and her eyes distant. "That's... not fair."
  414. "I know it isn't. And I really appreciate you dealing with my crazy work hours. At least we aren't worried about the future anymore, right? We'll be moving in a couple months, we have plenty of food..."
  416. "I think it's still important that you're around more." I smile. "I know, I do too. I'm just piling on as many hours as I can before they put me on a salary. Before you know it, it'll just be me and you and our little baby boy."
  418. She arches an eyebrow at me. "Boy? You don't know that." I pause. No, I don't. "I guess it's just a hunch?" She sticks her tongue out at me, which I playfully move forward to bite.
  420. "Maybe you should pick out some male baby names, then?" I wrap my arms around her shoulders and pull her as close as I can with her seven month bump.
  422. "Maybe I will."
  424. "Good! Well then, get that nice little bum of yours off to do your nerdy science stuff with all your dorky friends." I laugh a little, kissing her again on the lips. This time she forces herself onto me, her tongue sliding inbetween my lips and catching mine for a second. I sigh as I unwillingly pull away from her.
  426. "I'll see you later, Em." She smiles and waves at me. "Okay. I'll probably be out in the garden when you get back." And with that, I leave through the front door and move towards the nice little company car that they gave me.
  428. I think it's crazy, but apparently Mutou's recommendation, my interview and their own research into my thesis paper was enough for them to enroll me as a co-supervisor.
  430. The research lead has already shown me the ropes, showing me how all their devices worked, what their protocols were, how they functioned as a whole.
  432. It didn't take me very long to adjust and the research head was pleased with how quickly I took to everything around me. 'You're an adaptive kid, aren't you?'
  434. I guess I was. I mean, I adapted to my condition pretty well. I've still got Emi to thank for that. I always mutter her a little thank you while I drive to work every morning. She knows it, but I like to remind myself.
  436. Without her, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be striving to this height. Hell, I might not even be alive.
  438. How many people can realistically say that of their significant other?
  440. =====
  442. I pull into the employee's parking lot at a cozy little research facility they have on the outskirts of the city. It's easier out here to build the facilities here; more space, cheaper land.
  444. I pin my nametag to my labcoat and head into the building. Security checks me again, they're still not used to me yet.
  446. "Nakai... Hisao, huh. R&D Third Branch? I don't know about that. You don't look like a scientist here." And then they call the research head and they let me through. This happens nearly every week, you think the security division would pass around a memo or email everyone, or something.
  448. I get into the lab and I see all the same familiar folks that I've gotten used to. "Hello, Mr. Nakai." I wave the notion off. "C'mon, stop being so formal. Half of you are older than me. Doesn't feel proper."
  450. It's true. I'm a ways younger than most of the people here, in their mid to late thirties, or older. They don't discount the fact that their superior is younger, though.
  452. They seem to have experienced their fair share of bright young minds during their career of legwork.
  454. I grab my clipboard from my respective desk. Researching new, more effective isotopes for radiation treatment. Radioisotope treatment, generally the more common kind deployed through infusions.
  456. Ones with less sickness, kinds that can target more specific cancers with less damage to the rest of the body.
  458. The lists I'm going through are results of cancer tissue treatments to each isotope, as well as the formulas, make ups, kinds of cancer... a myriad of things that would look Greek to any average Joe off the street.
  460. Sometimes, even knowing this crap, it still has tested my knowledge. "Kikui, have you tried isotope variant a854 on the generic sample?" I'm flipping through the pages, but I can't seem to find any test results on it.
  462. "Variant a854?" He asks from his desk on the floor. I'm scratching the back of my head. "I wrote up the fission requirements to make it, didn't you guys get it? Did any of the other fissions get overlooked? I need to know so we can send out another request for the plant to fill."
  464. The head researcher approaches me. "I took it myself to have the plant test it individually. I was curious about it." Huh. I wonder why.
  466. "Any reason?"
  468. He shrugs. "None in particular other than the fission procedure. That isn't the standard. Do you usually suggest unstable fissions to create isotropes that doesn't exist?"
  470. I smile sheepishly. Uh oh. "Not usually, Mr. Imegawa- but if you would hear me out for a second..."
  472. He folds his arms. "Oh, I would like to hear your thoughts on this potential waste of money for our company."
  474. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.
  476. "W-Well. If you look at some of the similar elements that undergo nuclear fission, the isotopes always react unstably." He's still waiting. I don't think I've said what he wants to hear.
  478. "Ironically enough, they act in a pattern. When I was looking at the statistics behind the elements used in the fission, they showed similarities in the same field, in each case. But this particular element doesn't, which lead me to believe it'd act differently in this case, with the right fission procedure."
  480. My supervisor goes back over the clipboard, reading it a few times dismissively. "As much as I hate admitting it, Mutou has been right about you so far. You're something. Here, the results."
  482. He handed me the clipboard. It was the result of fission from the nearby medical nuclear generator tasked with the production of radioisotopes used in medicine. They went through my procedure and delivered the isotopes they captured as a result.
  484. And when Mr. Imegawa tested them, they showed a markedly lower tissue damage and greater cancer cell reduction rate in a few cases. In others though, they failed terribly.
  486. "If you can continue refining this properly, it might be able to effectively replace Iodine-131 for lymphoma patients."
  488. Wait, r-really? That... that'd be incredible. Of course, it's far from perfect right now. It might take years to get this radioisotope proper for medical use, but this report was going to ensure that my place here in this company was well-deserved.
  490. "Well, in that case, I'm going to go over this information at my desk and crunch out some math and figure out some ways to refine the fission process." Imegawa smiles at me and I head off to my little office in our laboratory.
  492. It's been a couple of hours involving myself flipping through the clipboard brimming with tests, results and data. Then my phone goes off in the quiet of my office. I quickly reach into my pocket, silencing it and checking the caller ID.
  494. It reads 'Emi~<3' on the display and I quickly hand back the clipboard. She knows better than to call during work, so it must be important.
  496. "Emi, what's up? I'm at wor-"
  498. "I know, I know! I'm sorry, but I was out in the gardenandIwasworkingonthehydrangeabushyouboughtmeandthen-"
  500. "Emi, emi... please, slow down. I can't keep up. What's going on? Are you okay?" My tone was tense, but I was trying to stay calm.
  502. "My water broke, Hisao. What do I do? I looked down and saw that the dress I was wearing was wet. It'sonlybeensevenmonthsandI'mnotdue, why did my water break, Hisao?!"
  504. I take in a breath. I'm starting to feel panic setting in, but I can't panic. I've got to keep Emi calm. "It's a premature birth, Emi. Two months early or not, you're going into labor. Shit... I'm way too far to go get you before you actually start giving birth."
  506. I dredge my mind for anyone, anybody who lives close enough to my apartment that can bring Emi to the hospital.
  508. Then it hits me. Aya. Aya lives across town from me, but it's closer than Kenji or Mutou. Then again, there is Rin. God, I'd really like to avoid asking Rin to get Emi though. Watching her drive with her feet scares me.
  510. "Emi, listen. Call Aya. I think I have her number written down in my address book. Call her and get her to bring you to the hospital, I'll get there as soon as I can."
  512. I can hear a groan from the other end of the conversation. "Why herrrrr?"
  514. "Because she's the closest person who I trust enough to drive you to the hospital. Please, don't make this into a 'Aya's a bitch' thing, because now's not the time. Call her. I'm on my way now." I say and she begrudgingly agrees.
  516. I'm already throwing my coat on and flicking the lights off in my office while I rush out of my office and dash towards a nearby railing that overlooks the laboratory the scientists all work in.
  518. "Where's Mr. Imegawa?" I call out. Everyone's looking at me. Probably because of my frantic tone and even more fervent expression.
  520. "I'm over here, Nakai. What's the matter?"
  522. "Girlfriend going into labor. Gotta run, sorry." He sighs, placing his hands on his hips. "And if I said you can't leave?"
  524. "Then I'd say too bad, sir."
  526. He shakes his head. "Then get going, kid."
  528. =====
  530. I get on the highway, already pushing well past the speed limit as I barrel towards home and the hospital within my town.
  532. Minutes are blurring into seconds as my car's engine roars along with the roar in my head.
  534. Go, get to her.
  536. You can't miss the birth of your child, Hisao.
  538. Go, go, go!
  540. I can see why people enjoy speeding and racing. Fear is mingling with exhiliration and acceleration. Everything else is unimportant right now. Time, the other drivers, my work- all that's important right now is the destination. Right now, everything is simple. I have one objective and only one:
  542. Get to Emi.
  544. I weave around other drivers, some blasting on their horn as I cut them off or fly across the highway to hit the off-ramp I need to take into town.
  546. My knuckles are white as I grind to a stop at a light. I can speed all I want on the highway there, I can be careful enough of a driver to prevent an accident.
  548. But I should at least obey the lights. If I blow through a red, I could get hit by a car. That's the last thing I want right now.
  550. You know what they say about watching the clock? That it makes it take longer?
  552. Yeah. This light feels like it's taking forever.
  554. When it finally does change, I roll through the now green light. My eyes are focused forward as I accelerate into the intersection.
  556. Then something strange happens.
  558. What's going on?
  560. For some reason, I'm moving sideways. I can't seem to hear anything, but everything's being crushing all around me. Bits of glass dance across my vision, reflecting light. My head slams into the door, causing an explosion of sound to erupt into my ears.
  562. I hear the twisting of metal and shrieking of tires against pavement. My car's spinning and I'm struggling to control the car. I want to shout, I want to let the fear filling my body out of me. I want to stay in control.
  564. I don't want this to be happening.
  566. As the world flips itself over, everything goes black.
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