As soon as Michael steps into the hospital, his skin feels a little hot, and he gets aches along his bones…no, not exactly. It feels like lines of some of his veins are just running at a boil. It quickly passes, but his vision remains blurred and full of static for several seconds.
10:19 PM Michael_Lin
shakes his head to clear it, trying not to wince at the…aching feeling in his veins.
10:21 PM FAITO
As he focuses, he feels a pressure on his head. Whispers, whispers, whispers in a language that he can't quite comprehend. His chest starts to ache, right over his head. Thump. Thump. Thump…a counter-beat to his own heart.
10:21 PM
…like there's something INSIDE of him.
10:24 PM Michael_Lin
grits his teeth, trying to bear it…something inside him? What….
10:24 PM Michael_Lin
He must be hallucinating again, or his heart's beating entirely too fast…
10:28 PM Night_Misaki has joined the channel.
10:29 PM FAITO
When everything settles, he finds himself being stared at by the gift shop attendant. Who just….stares. Silent.
10:30 PM
She marks something with a pen, below the view of the counter. There's a bottle of water on the counter, still cold.
10:35 PM Michael_Lin
He's never been in the gift shop before, and he pauses at the door.
10:37 PM FAITO
She points to the bottle and nods.
10:38 PM Michael_Lin
tilts his head. "…Um…?"
10:40 PM FAITO
She points to Michael.
10:40 PM
Then to the bottle.
10:40 PM
She is starting to look a little worried. She opens her mouth, but only a cracked whimper comes out.
10:44 PM Michael_Lin
Very confused by now, he takes a hesitant step towards her and the bottle. "…?"
10:45 PM FAITO
She offers the bottle to him, once he's close.
10:45 PM Michael_Lin
takes the bottle gingerly.
10:46 PM FAITO
She nods. Then marks something again, out of sight.
10:48 PM Michael_Lin
"T-thank y-you…"
10:48 PM
he's much too short to see over the counter and see what she's writing.
10:49 PM FAITO
She smiles….then very carefully points at a sign on a corkboard.
10:49 PM Michael_Lin
looks over there.
10:50 PM FAITO
There's an ad up. MODELS WANTED, sketch and fashion design. MUST BE HANDSOME MEN.
10:51 PM Michael_Lin
…not fashon again….
10:52 PM
And he doesn't look much like a boy anyway.
10:57 PM FAITO
She nods at him.
10:58 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I…" and going to quietly flee. He's very good at this.
10:59 PM FAITO
He hears sniffling in the background.
10:59 PM Michael_Lin
He feels really, really bad.
11:00 PM FAITO
And practically bumps into Nurse Tan. "…first it's Anthony bribing rooms for call girls, and now you're out of sorts. What's going on with you kids lately?"
11:06 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I'm s-sorry, m-ma'am."
11:07 PM FAITO
She shakes her head. "It's good. You're all so energetic. I mean, with Anthony…" She trails off. "Are you here to visit him? Do you even know him?"
11:08 PM Michael_Lin
nods timidly. "H-he's a-a c-classmate…"
11:10 PM FAITO
"Oh….you know, he seems to have a lot of handsome boys visiting him." She gives a mildly disapproving glance at his door. "You be good." And off she goes.
11:15 PM Michael_Lin
is always good or tries to be. And going to go knock timidly on the door.
11:16 PM FAITO
"'ssat my pizza? I told you you'd get past security!"
11:17 PM Michael_Lin
"I-it's n-not."
11:18 PM FAITO
"…Michael? Man, it's my lucky day…c'mon in."
11:22 PM Michael_Lin
doesn't really think it's Wen's lucky day at all, but pushes open the door and comes in.
11:24 PM FAITO
Wen is sitting in bed, bare-chested with cardio sensors all over him hooked to some sort of device on his arm. "Yo!" He salutes with two fingers. "Didn't spect ya. You're kinda…spooky sometimes. Like a horse that's been poked with a stick." This is a horrible simile.
11:26 PM Michael_Lin
"A d-dead o-one?"
11:27 PM FAITO
"You don't poke a dead horse with a stick. That's terrible. Who'd do that?" He frowns, not getting it.
11:30 PM Michael_Lin
doesn't bother with explaining. "D-do y-you f-feel b-better?"
11:31 PM FAITO
"Like an ox. I'm thinkin' of going in boxing, whaddya say?" He throws a few quick jabs, causing the machines to beep a bit faster. Something on a screen turns yellow and he scowls. "Whadda you know? You're just a monitor! You don't even have games!"
11:37 PM Michael_Lin
"B-be c-careful…"
11:40 PM FAITO
He scowls at that. "What are you, my mother? Well, nah. She's dead 'n all. Besides…I feel pretty good. Like…like better. I can't really explain it." He looks away, blushing a little. "I've had a lot of friends lookin' out for me."
11:43 PM Michael_Lin
"T-that's g-good." he's very bad at this whole talking thing.
11:44 PM FAITO
"You're one've em, by the way. It's a shame Shiro isn't here. He'd probably make you tea or…call you princess or somethin' sweet like that. He's the charmer. Want me to call him? I know you're not a huge fan, but hey - you don't meet celebrities every day!"
11:50 PM Michael_Lin
"H-he's w-what?"
11:51 PM FAITO
"He's the Emperor of Japan!"
11:52 PM
"He's got a meeting with a rep from Argon Hardworks sometime today, but that oughta be done before tonight. Wanna have dinne with us? I'm gonna try to smuggle in a pizza."
11:52 PM Michael_Lin
probably looks as startled as he feels. Which is to say, very.
11:54 PM FAITO
"Whoa, whoa, whoa…it's okay. It's okay." He holds out his hands, like he's soothing a dead horse apparently. "He's a really nice guy. Not as rude as me. And he totally would be nicer about your social issues or- dammit, there I go again."
11:54 PM
He sighs. "I am no good with cute guys today…I need to flirt with Night more to balance out."
11:56 PM Michael_Lin
"I-if i-it's n-not a-any t-trouble…" he doesn't especially /want/ to meet new people but he doesn't exactly want to go back to his apartment yet.
11:58 PM FAITO
"You can help me with my homework in the meantime. You get good grades, right? I'm terrible with literature and history. But hey- I wanna be a cardiologist, not a…literologist."
11:58 PM
He gives a weak laugh at his own joke. A little labored.
12:00 AM
"Hey, we can invite the lady from across the hall. She's kinda weird, but she's really hot and…y'know, you kinda look like 'er."
12:00 AM
"Hospital par-tay~"
12:02 AM Michael_Lin
"…s-she's m-my m-mother." eyes downcast. and going to go look for Wen's books.
12:05 AM FAITO
"Oh. Uh…sorry I called your mom hot. Or weird. Didn't….didn't we talk about this once? I'm an idiot…"
12:06 AM Michael_Lin
"O-only o-oncea-and b-briefly…"
12:06 AM
And going to find his homework stuff and bring it back to him.
12:08 AM FAITO
"Well, she's weird. She's apparently been reading books to all the kids in peds. So that's nice…but she wanted to read to me, too? Can you imagine? I'd have to put pants on. But let's see…Tolstoy. Ugh…how long IS this book?"
12:09 AM Michael_Lin
"1, 440 pages." oh…he had no idea that his mother had that in here.
12:11 AM FAITO
"All right. Let's go back to the part with the Russians. It's…I mean, I knew it, but I have bad after-paper amnesia…"

12:11 AM
In short, Wen is a very specialized student…this is going to take a while…
Wen…has been staring at Michael over his work for a while now.
2:23 PM Michael_Lin
peers up over the book. "I-Is s-something w-wrong?" he asks, timidly.
2:24 PM Jaito
"…you look kinda like a girl, you know that?"
2:26 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I k-know." Michael nods: it's something he's always known, been told, can look in the mirror and see that he's almost a miniature copy of his mother in appearance.
2:28 PM Jaito
"…which would y'know…rather? If you could pick?" He suddenly looks out of the window. "I mean…if you had the choice from th'beginning?"
2:33 PM Michael_Lin
Michael always has a hard time finding words, but with that question, he just about freezes. There are things he doesn't think about, puts away, shoves behind glass, completely unsafe to be or undeserving to want, everything Νίκαια is. "A-as I-I a-am." (Neither, or both, or as I want) behind glass.
2:35 PM Jaito
"Huh…you're braver than you think, then. But I already knew that…" His grin is lopsided, and a little sad. "Y'think I'd make a hot babe in another life?"
2:38 PM Michael_Lin
2:39 PM Jaito
…everyone but Nikaia believes it…and, for the first time, something in the mirror…wavers. Maybe being behind glass has its own kind of fragility. Until disdain swallows doubt, and Michael feels…alone inside.
2:41 PM Michael_Lin
…oh. Oh. Feeling alone shouldn't feel this empty or maybe it should, he's too used to that duality by /now/. "M-maybe…" he offers, still timidly, head tilted as he regards Wen birdlike.
2:42 PM Jaito
"Do…d'ya think I'm….y'know…" His eyes close. "Handsome?"
2:47 PM Michael_Lin
Michael has never considered: never tried to look too closely, and it's more of the same. He doesn't even know why Wen wants to know this…
2:48 PM
2:50 PM Jaito
…is…is Wen coming onto him?
2:52 PM Michael_Lin
The very idea terrifies him, what with also dealing with Cam and…himself. "I-I d-don't k-know. I-I n-never t-thought a-about it." and that's the truth, because he doesn't think about it.
2:53 PM Jaito
Wen looks a little disappointed. "Eh. Doesn't matter. Hey…it's getting late. Don't you have anywhere to be?
2:56 PM Michael_Lin
"G-good night." Michael takes the hint and stands up: he doesn't particularly /want/ to go home, not now, but…
2:57 PM Jaito
"And hey - it doesn't matter who you've been. All that matters…." He nods, as if convincing himself. "All that matter is who you are when things get heavy."
2:58 PM
…and then Michael doesn't feel so empty anymore. If anything, he feels like a shell for something much more ready.
3:01 PM Michael_Lin
That's a familiar feeling: nothing but a pretty worthless shell, and he wonders, down deep (and not behind glass), how to crack that shell. Because that other part of him is what everyone wants, it can handle what is happening so much better, it /is/ better. And going to quietly drift out of the room.
3:01 PMActivating Flood Protection
3:01 PMDeactivating Flood Protection
3:03 PM Jaito
….there are three children standing outside of Michael's mother's room. They're all wearing tiny hospital gowns - two boys and a girl. The boys look like twins, but the girl's a foot taller. The boys lean on either of her shoulders, while she pets them.
3:03 PM
Their backs are to Michael, as they just seem to be staring at the door.
3:06 PM Michael_Lin
…oh. He remembers what Wen had said, about his mother reading stories to the children in the pediatric ward. But what are they doing here now? It's rather late, and he might have made a soft puzzled sound.
One of the twins looks back - and yellow eyes stare at Michael. The others don't so much as flinch.
…yellow eyes?
3:09 PM Jaito
The boy raises a finger to his lips, as if to hush Michael….and then he starts to hear it. Nikaia is..humming. A song that hides beneath layers and layers of memory. A children's lullaby.
3:11 PM Michael_Lin
Almost without thinking, he drifts silently closer. A song hidden beneath layers of memory and he brushes up against glass, silently questioning: that song?
3:11 PM Annabell has joined the channel.
3:14 PM Jaito
It's a song sung to beloved children. No wonder you've forgotten…
3:14 PM
An ache snaps into Michael's heart, as if he'd been stabbed..no…as if something were tearing about inside his chest.
3:17 PM Michael_Lin
No wonder he's forgotten indeed (or maybe never even knew) and he bites down on the noise of pain, trying to not let any sound out and stumbles back a step or two.
3:18 PM Jaito
3:19 PM Michael_Lin
3:20 PM Jaito
A pulse of…something…starts to press against Michael's consciousness like a tide…The pain in his heart gets worse…lines and lines of pale white light start to snake along his veins
3:20 PM
- and then they burst into blue flame, leaving him unscathed.
3:20 PM
3:21 PM
The words are sound, light, and pressure all in one. The children stagger.
3:21 PM
3:24 PM
(Michael. Mark off a Mental stress!)
3:25 PM Michael_Lin
Michael bites his lower lip, shakes his head to clear it, or try to, however vainly, and steps back again.
3:28 PM Jaito
All of the windows shine a pure white…a single shadow manifests. YOU…IT IS NOT YET TIME. SOON. SOON, MY MICHAEL…
3:29 PM
And then all of the windows shatter and the children run downstairs.
3:29 PM Michael_Lin
3:30 PM Jaito
When Michael's eyes refocus, the glass is whole. The children are gone, but aside from an eerie quiet…there's no sign that anything happened.
3:31 PM Michael_Lin
He's…he's hallucinating again.
3:32 PM Jaito
"You are, but that doesn't make it any less true." A strongly-accented voice whispers. "You must leave this place…they can't hear me. I have to find someone who can…someone who can stop them."
3:34 PM Michael_Lin
takes a breath and quietly hurries away. He doesn't know where he's going, but…
3:34 PM Jaito
"Michael." His mother's voice.
3:35 PM
"…she is dangerous. You should run, but I can't make you," says the other voice.
3:37 PM Michael_Lin
He knows she's dangerous, but she's still his /mother/.
3:37 PM
And he owes her filial piety.
3:38 PM
And turning back towards the door.
3:42 PM Jaito
"Enter." Emily demands. The other voice sighs and fades…so much sadness.
3:43 PM Michael_Lin
He very quietly, even more soundlessly than usual, pushes open the door and steps inside.
3:44 PM Jaito
Emily is standing by the window, barefoot and amused. She's wearing a lovely evening gown and a violet shawl…she looks so YOUNG, so healthy…and utterly without emotion. "So…you've betrayed me. My own son, stillborn and murdered by you, Michael. What do you have to offer in answer to that?"
3:46 PM Michael_Lin
"I-I d-don't k-know w-what y-you m-mean, M-mother."
3:49 PM Jaito
"Stop stuttering. Your blood is stronger than that. You betrayed me, and I will be…furious…if I wasn't betrayed by a man." Her fingers press into the glass, as if she's amazed by the sights from another angle than her bed.
3:50 PM Michael_Lin
is just completely confused now.
3:51 PM Jaito
"…I'll have to accept him now. And I think his first act as my son will be to murder the fool who was supposed to protect you. Well…protect Nikaia. He couldn't even awaken him. How does it feel to have killed a man?"
3:51 PM
She turns to look at Michael and there's a smile far out of memory…it's brighter even than Iris' warmth. It's…love. But why now? Why with such words in her mouth?
3:53 PM Michael_Lin
stares, words frozen in his throat
3:58 PM Jaito
"…Nothing to say. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised." She walks up…and places her hands on Michael's cheeks. "You've tried to steal my beauty away….my innocence…the love of others, weak and strong, who used to turn to me…for the aching sweetness of desire. They prayed to me, you know."
3:58 PM
"Now…they just wish this false idol would come alive…."
3:58 PM
And she leans in…and kisses Michael like a lover.
3:58 PM Michael_Lin
jerks back out of her grasp as if he'd been /burned/
4:00 PM Jaito
…her lips are actually…smoking…flaking? What in the world…? She rubs the mess away and they're blood-red, but beautiful again. "You may leave. The next time I see you? I suspect that someone is going to tear the bones out of your sorry meat. You are not my son." Then, as if this were such a relief, she goes back to staring out the window. Like a young woman gazing at a lovely sunrise on a wondrous day.
Michael Lin
Those words should have hurt. Maybe it should have been worrying that they don't. And he turns and leaves without a single word.
The hospital is…he rejects the possibility. Too noticeable, too much trouble for someone, and running through the possibilities in his mind as he walks through the hallways towards the exit.