Chapter 3: Pasts Revealed
Rockman stared at his operator. Enzan’s head was resting on the kitchen table, and his hands were clasped on either side of his head. As the navi watched, Enzan grabbed clumps of his hair and pulled on them roughly.
“Enzan-sama?” Rockman said worriedly. “Are you all right?”
Enzan jerked his head up. “No,” he said dully. “I’m not.”
“What happened?” Rockman asked, his eyes wide. Enzan had gone to the bathroom after the navi had explained where it was. He had come back in a state of shock, sat down at the table, and slammed his forehead against it hard.
Enzan pointed at his hair. “It’s black,” he hissed. “All of it!”
Rockman obediently looked at Enzan’s hair. “Yes, Enzan-sama,” he said. “That’s its natural color.”
“It used to be dyed!” Enzan snapped. He pointed at the picture on kitchen counter. In the picture, he was smiling and standing with Hikari’s parents, and the top of his hair was white. “It’s dyed in that picture!”
“That was a long time ago,” Rockman said sadly. “You dyed it back to its original color since then, remember?”
Enzan slammed his fist against the table in frustration. “No! I don’t remember! I don’t remember any of this!” He spread his hands out, gesturing. “I don’t belong here, Rockman. This isn’t my home!”
“What?” Rockman asked. His voice was strained and the unmistakable look of worry and fear was back in his eyes.
Enzan put his hands on the table and leaned closer to the PET. “My name is Ijuuin Enzan, not Hikari Enzan. I’m the vice president of my father’s company, the top netbattler in Japan, and my hair is dyed white on the top, like it always is! I don’t know what’s going on here, but this isn’t my life!”
Rockman was silent. His expression was blank, but his eyes watched Enzan carefully.
Enzan sat down with a sigh. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
“I do not think you are well, Enzan-sama,” Rockman said quietly.
“I’m not crazy,” Enzan snapped.
“I didn’t say you were,” Rockman replied.
“Look, I’m telling the truth,” Enzan said, trying to calm down. He had lost control of the situation, and he needed to regain it. “How can I prove it to you? Doesn’t the fact that I don’t know anything about this family or myself prove I’m not who I’m supposed to be?”
“You were ill earlier,” Rockman said softly. “You could just be confused.”
“I don’t have a temperature,” Enzan said. “I’ll prove it to you, if you want. I’m not confused, because I can remember everything about my old life vividly, yet I don’t know a thing about this one. I could go on about my life, if you want to hear it. I’m not sick or crazy.”
Rockman looked away. “You don’t have to have a temperature to be ill, Enzan-sama.”
“So you do think I’m crazy,” Enzan muttered, leaning back in the chair.
“I’m sorry, Enzan-sama,” Rockman whispered. “But you’re not making any sense. I’m just worried about you.”
“I know,” Enzan said, rubbing his eyes. “I can understand why you would think that way. But I’m not.” He looked at Rockman, silently begging the navi to believe him. “You have to believe me.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can,” Rockman replied. He looked like he was going to cry.
“That’s all right,” Enzan said softly, trying to comfort the navi as well as himself. “You don’t have to believe me. I won’t make you.”
“Thank you, Enzan-sama,” Rockman said, rubbing at his eyes.
“But I still need you to do something for me,” Enzan continued. He took a breath, gathering his thoughts. “I believe that I don’t belong here. I’m not asking you to believe it too, but I need your help.”
“My help?” Rockman repeated, looking puzzled.
“Yes,” Enzan said, closing his eyes for a moment. “If anyone else knew that I can’t remember anything about who I’m supposed to be, they’ll lock me up and try to figure out what’s wrong with me. I can’t let that happen, no matter what.”
“They will only be trying to help you,” Rockman said.
“I know, but I don’t want that kind of help,” Enzan replied. “Rockman, I believe I don’t belong here, and all I want is to go home. I don’t know what happened to me, but I’m going to find out. In order to do that, I’ll need your help.”
“You want me to help prove that you’re not Hikari Enzan, even though I don’t believe you,” Rockman said, sounding doubtful.
“It’s better than no help at all,” Enzan pointed out. “In order for me to stay here without people becoming suspicious, I need you to tell me everything that’s happened to your operator.”
“You are my operator,” Rockman said.
“I know that!” Enzan said impatiently. “I need you to tell me about Hikari Enzan’s life, the Hikari Enzan you believe me to be.”
“Enzan-sama…” Rockman trailed off. He gave Enzan an odd look. “You want me to tell you everything?”
Enzan sighed. This was going to be more trouble than he had thought. “Are you willing to help me, Rockman?” he asked. “I need you to tell me the truth. I won’t get angry about it, I promise.”
Rockman was silent for a moment. “I believe that you are the Enzan-sama I know, and somehow you don’t remember that,” he said. “However, you’re still my operator, and if you ask for my help, I will not refuse it. Nor will I tell anyone else about this if you don’t wish it.”
“Thank you, Rockman,” Enzan said, genuinely grateful. It was the best response he could have hoped for. “You’re the only one who can help me now.” It was true, Enzan realized as he said it. He was alone, and Rockman was the only one who could help him, even if the navi would do it unwillingly.
“I only hope I can help, Enzan-sama,” Rockman replied. He seemed as relieved as Enzan that they had come to an understanding. “What is it I can tell you about?”
Enzan thought for a moment. “Tell me about Hikari Yuuichirou and Haruka,” he said. “Hikari Yuuichirou still works at Science Labs, does he not?”
Rockman looked surprised; then his expression slipped into one of sadness. “No, Enzan-sama. Your father lost his job a long time ago.”
“What?” Enzan cried, startled. “How could that happen? He was one of the most important scientists they had!”
“You really don’t know, do you?” Rockman asked quietly.
“You know I don’t, Rockman,” Enzan replied. “Please, tell me what happened. Why are things so different now then when that picture was taken?” He pointed to the picture on the counter.
“That was taken nearly two years ago,” Rockman replied, his eyes drifting over to the picture. “It was right after your eleventh birthday, the day you got your first custom net navi.” His gaze flickered to Enzan’s face. “The day you got me.”
Enzan took a breath. The picture had been older than he thought, and his brain was whirling with all of the other information he was trying to absorb. “Go on,” he said.
“Well, your father was always a very busy man,” Rockman continued. “He gave you a custom net navi to make up for all the time he spent at work. Shortly after your birthday, Papa… lost his job.”
Enzan silently noted the way Rockman had naturally referred to Hikari Yuuichirou as: Papa. With Enzan’s “mother,” Rockman would never dream of calling her Mama, yet he had called Dr. Hikari by the term “Papa” without hesitating. That was interesting.
“How did he lose his job?” Enzan asked quietly.
“There was an accident at the lab,” Rockman said, taking a breath. “The public never really found out what happened, but Papa was blamed. They fired him… and the public took it in stride. He became known as a fool, an idiot, and no one would hire him.”
“That’s awful,” Enzan said quietly, staring off into space. “For a man as brilliant as he is to be treated that way… what happened next?”
“Papa grew depressed,” Rockman said, his voice sad. “He stopped trying to get a job, and he started drinking a lot. Your mother grew angry with him, and blamed all the side projects he did for his absence all those years. She said if he had paid more attention to his job and his family, the accident would have never happened. They began to fight a lot.” Rockman stopped for a moment.
“I’m sorry,” Enzan said. “Please, I need to know what happened next.”
“Your mother got a job to pay the bills, and Papa…” Rockman trailed off. His eyes were distant, watching things that only he could see, images deeply embedded in his memory. “Papa stopped coming home. Sometimes he would show up after two weeks, only to leave again after he and your mother fought, and sometimes it was months before he would show.”
“And your op—me?” Enzan asked. “What happened to me?”
Rockman hesitated. He took a breath and seemed to steel himself. “You grew bitter too, like your mother. You dyed your hair black because your father was the one who liked it with the white. Your grades fell, and sometimes you would even avoid going to school. They tried everything, but in the end they held you back a year.”
“They do that here?” Enzan asked, surprised.
“If it’s bad enough, I guess. I’m sorry, Enzan-sama,” Rockman said softly.
“It isn’t your fault,” Enzan reassured him. “No one is blaming you.”
“Yes, they are,” Rockman whispered, closing his eyes. His hands were clenched at his sides.
Enzan stared at him for a long moment. “You were Hikari-hakase’s last project,” he realized, saying it out loud. “That’s why Hikari Haruka treats you with such hatred!”
“Yes,” Rockman admitted, nodding. “After it happened, she suddenly started to hate the fact that Papa was so fascinated with navis, even though that was his job field. She claimed he was obsessed with them, and considers me a product of his obsession.”
“She wasn’t the only one to blame you for Hikari-hakase losing his job, was she?” Enzan asked carefully. “I must have done it too.”
“You’ve never said it out loud,” Rockman said firmly.
“But I treated you like dirt after the accident, right?” Enzan guessed. The look on Rockman’s face told him he was right. “That’s ridiculous!” he exclaimed, feeling angry. “You didn’t have anything to do with Hikari losing his job!”
Rockman didn’t say anything. He watched Enzan warily, but his eyes held a small gleam of hope.
“You don’t have anything to do with it,” Enzan said firmly. “I don’t care what you’ve been told in the past, but that is the only thing that’s true. Do you understand?”
“H-hai,” Rockman stammered, surprised by Enzan’s fierce insistence. “Y-yes.”
“I want you to repeat that,” Enzan said. “You don’t have anything to do with Hikari losing his job. It’s not your fault. Got that?”
“I don’t have anything to do with Papa losing his job,” Rockman repeated. “It’s not my fault.” Then he smiled shyly.
Enzan smiled back. He may not have gotten any closer to solving the mystery of how he got here, but at least he had accomplished something.
… … …
“This isn’t right!” someone exclaimed. “What is he doing?”
Another black suit—as Miyuki had come to call them—looked over his companion’s shoulder. “He’s right,” the man called. “The subject is acting completely different than what was expected of him.”
“He’s in a new environment,” Miyuki said, speaking at last. She had to contribute something to the group, or she would look suspicious. Her disguise as a man was nearly perfect, but it wouldn’t do her any good if she came under questioning. “It’s natural for him to act differently than he has in the past.”
There were no names used among those wearing the black suits, which was why Miyuki referred to them in that way. They knew each other by facial recognition only. Names were not necessary to complete the job they had been given.
“Our new companion is right,” another black suit said. This time it was the woman. She was leaning against the wall, watching everything that was going on with wary eyes. “It is natural for the subject to do something differently than expected of him when placed in a new environment. He still needs to adjust to the program.”
“I thought he already had adjusted!” someone complained.
“The computer had adjusted,” the woman replied smoothly. “Our subject is human, and so adds an unknown factor. He will adjust quickly—but how quickly is not yet known.”
The person fell silent, yet Miyuki could he him mumbling underneath his breath. Since she had first joined the group under the guise of being a scientist specializing in navigating technology, it had become obvious that the woman was the leader of the small group. She gave out the orders that came from their superiors, and she was the one who made the decisions. She was also a very sharp woman who kept an eye on everyone, making her very dangerous to Miyuki.
“Rest assured,” Miyuki said, speaking up again. “Phase Two will commence as planned. There too many safeguards in the system to let the subject stray. The Second Day will happen as programmed.”
“And even if it doesn’t,” the woman said, “It will be very interesting to watch.”
How many hours have you been trapped in there? Miyuki wondered silently. How many ‘Days’ do you have left before the project reaches its climax? For your sake, young one, you have to figure this out. You may be the only one who can save yourself.
Author’s notes: Hakase loosely means “doctor” and is used for anyone with a doctorate degree. Hikari Yuuichirou will be referred to as “Hikari-hakase” several times during the rest of the story. For some reason, I envision Enzan with dyed white hair and blue contacts. Don’t ask me why (I know bizarre hair is an anime thing), but it just strikes me as something Enzan would do.