Breathe No More

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: Well, this is my first fic for the fandom. The characters aren't mine and the story is! The information I used to create the background for my fic came from, I believe, the Battle Network games and also the manga. I'm not big on the idea in the anime that Bass is the regeneration of Pharaohman, since Bass is so much kewler. XD; Well, anyway. So here we go. Please be kind! . . . Oh yeah. XD And this isn't supposed to be hinting at yaoi or shounen-ai. :smile.: I apologize for removal of the song, but the site's newly stated policy means that I have to.

He laid, barely alive, on the hard workings of cyberspace, trying to will himself to just get up and move forward again. But it was hopeless. He had no strength left within him. Because of his defeat at the hands of both Megaman and Protoman, he had become extremely weakened, the part of the Gospel MegaVirus separating itself from him. As it had, he had screamed in agony, feeling as if another part of his soul was being ripped free. He had possessed barely enough energy to teleport himself to where he was now.

And where was that, anyway? He didn't know. It was just a random part of the Net. He could be anywhere in the whole world, actually. But it probably wasn't too far away from the battleground, since his energy was so depleted. Now he felt completely drained, both physically . . . and mentally.

Why was Megaman so persistant in trying to help him recover his lost memories? He didn't understand. And he couldn't comprehend any of the things Megaman had tried to tell him. He was supposed to fight. That was the reason for his existance. No matter what happened, he had to find other NetNavis and fight them. Nothing else mattered. It was like he was a machine, a robot, programmed only to seek out and destroy. Sometimes it seemed that he had no control over it.

His gaze traveled over the various chips and pieces of metal that made up this section of the Net. In one piece, nearby, he could see his reflection staring back at him. The same glassy, reddish eyes, the same lavender markings, and the same shuddering, bleeding body, barely clinging to life. He could see this reflection sporting the same unusual helmet and the same tattered cape. It was him and yet, it was not him. It was only a pale shadow. Who was he, anyway? Was he really such a nameless wanderer, with only the sole purpose of battling? Sometimes it seemed almost that there was something in his mind that called to him, some lost memories that were trying desperately to resurface. But he couldn't reach them.

He stared at the reflection again. The other him gasped for breath, moving his hand across the floor slowly. The gloves were torn away by now, revealing the bare, cracked flesh underneath. He reached out, trying to touch the mirror, trying to reach through to that other him inside. He felt so empty, so alone . . . like a piece of him was missing. Maybe that was what was missing, the him in the mirror. Maybe if he could only get through to it, he would have all of himself back again and he would remember whatever secrets were lost in his mind. Though he forced himself to stick to the strict thoughts of fighting other NetNavis, there was still a part of him that longed for more. He wanted what he'd lost. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't reach this other him. It seemed to want to come, as it was also reaching out, but there was this barrier between them. As long as that was there, they could never meet.

In desperation he slammed his fist into the mirror, wanting to release that part of himself. The pieces of glass flew out, spilling around him and cutting into him worse. He barely felt the added pain. In his tortured mind, he had decided that the other him was reentering his body by cutting him with the sharp particles. But he didn't feel any different or any more whole. He felt only tormented, racked with pain and . . . guilt? Why would he feel guilty? . . . Why was he feeling anything?

It was useless. He was too weak, for certain about to be deleted. And what did it matter? He hadn't completed his mission. He hadn't fought successfully. It wasn't as if anyone was around now to care about this battered life. If it could be called a life. Was he alive? Or was he just a bit of computer data that was malfunctioning and that would destroy itself after everything became too garbled up to understand?

Slowly he brought his hand back, staring at the blood running down over the back of it and between the fingers. It all looked real enough, but maybe it was his imagination. Maybe he wasn't even really here.

Dizziness came over him and his vision swam in front of his tired eyes. If he lost consciousness, he wouldn't be waking up again. But why was he even trying to stay alive? What did he care what happened to him now? He thought he had such a cold indifference to everything. . . . Though it seemed as though at one time, he had passionately hated with all his heart. And even . . . that one time before that, he had idolized and loved.

Loved. . . . He could have loved? He was capable of love?

He rolled onto his back, ignoring the pain that shot through him when he did so, and brought his hand onto his chest, running the weak fingers down the ominous scar that he'd seemed to always have had. Where had it come from? Why had he left the rip in his clothes that revealed the mark? Was it supposed to be a reminder of something? A past defeat, perhaps? He couldn't have known that the scar symbolized the day when his innocence had been lost—the day when his love and trust had turned into hatred and rage. But as he touched the darkened, patched skin from the wound, a voice seemed to come to his ears. A voice that he recalled only in the deepest recesses of his mind. It belonged to a person he had loved and hated both.

He could hear this voice calling him by name, speaking to him gently, addressing him as his own son. And he could hear himself . . . no, not him . . . the other him, the one from the mirror. . . . But he was calling back, crying out for the man, sounding terrified and in pain. He heard coughing and, in his mind's eye, saw blood flying and vile assassins laughing and leaving him for dead. He had been completely abandoned. The one he idolized had left him alone when he needed it most.

What happened next came unbidden. He was reliving the pain and agony of that time—and his fears. Again he was laying on a floor, bleeding and near-death, but no longer had he come from a battle with Megaman and Protoman. Now he had been brutally assaulted and accused for crimes he hadn't committed. They hadn't believed he was innocent or even really cared. They only wanted him dead. And so he had drifted in and out of consciousness, left there to die alone, without even the one person he loved and had considered his father. A few tears had come to his eyes, the first and the last he had ever cried—tears of anger, of pain, and of fright. He was alone in the world, he had realized, and no one's love stayed forever. Humans were cruel beings who enjoyed causing anguish and hurt for their victims, especially if they were dimensions apart. They thought they were so strong and tough and that it would be amusing to bully those not able to defend themselves, such as NetNavis. But they would be shown differently. They would be shown that they couldn't keep pushing others around and forcing the Navis to bow before them!

He didn't realize it, but in the present he was crying again. Several stray crystalline drops slipped down over the purple markings on his cheeks, splashing to the floor. Alone . . . he was alone, just like before. And he realized he didn't like it one bit. But there was nothing he could do to change it. Perhaps . . . perhaps there would have been before, if he had only listened . . . if his heart hadn't already been consumed by malevolence. . . .

The memories were suddenly flooding back into his consciousness, pouring over him, showering him with a remembrance of everything he had once been and everything he had done. He had been so angry, so full of rage, that even when he had received a holographic message from his "father" explaining that he had been arrested and hadn't been able to be there for his son, but that he had wanted to, it hadn't mattered. It was probably a lie. Everything was a lie. And he had only wanted to show the human race how wicked they truly were.

He remembered Mr. Wily cornering him with the proposition of helping him revive Alpha. He had hated the entire plan, but the alternative of having an army of clones of himself he hated even more. And Mr. Wily had promised him the ultimate power he desired. And so, grudgingly, he had assisted. But things had gone terribly wrong. He couldn't remember too much about it, even with the emotional and physical trauma restoring many of his lost recollections. It was all hazy in his mind, but he had a vague memory of being swallowed up by Alpha and struggling within its core to keep surviving. Mostly he remembered feelings. After that, the next thing he remembered at all clearly was another brief period of being near-death and lost somewhere in the endlessness of the Net. Alpha was gone, destroyed, and for all he knew, so was the computer data version of Mr. Wily. Then he had merged with a piece of the Gospel MegaVirus that he had found drifting about. It had erased his memories, causing him to believe he only existed to fight.

He opened his eyes again. Several small viruses seemed to be watching him curiously, not knowing quite what to make of this strange NetNavi laying on the ground, the rest of his life bleeding away. He turned away from them, rolling onto his hands and knees and coughing violently, more blood coming to his lips. He clutched at the workings of the cyber floor desperately, blearily staring down at the redness he had choked up. So now he remembered much of his life. But it didn't seem like all that much more of a life than the one he'd been leading for the last while. Once he had loved . . . then he had hated . . . then he had lost all memory and became indifferent. He had thought he would feel something more when he remembered, but he still felt just as empty inside. Breaking the mirror hadn't changed that. Getting his memories back hadn't changed it.

Maybe he was just incurably ill, like the voices screaming in his head kept trying to insist. Yes, that must be it. He was only a malfunctioning bit of computer data, as he'd originally thought. All NetNavis only were that—computer data. They had no feelings, he thought, only what was programmed into them. He must have been programmed to behave the way he did. It was another way humans toyed with them, making them go insane with no feelings of self-worth. How could they have any self-worth if all they were was puppets of the beings that had created them? Maybe he should just end it all now. Then he would be laughing in their faces, letting them know that they couldn't control his life.

He reached shakily for one of the largest pieces of glass, holding it up in front of him. He could see one of his eyes reflecting back in it. But he frowned and held his other arm with the wrist facing outward. Slowly he brought the sharp fragment closer, his hands shaking as he did so. It lit into his flesh, but not deeply at first. It wouldn't be fatal if he stopped now. But why should he stop? He was going to die soon anyway. He might as well speed up the process.

But wait. . . . If humans controlled all his thoughts and feelings, were they controlling these feelings as well? Were they causing him to want to destroy himself? Or was that a thought from his own mind, because he truly was independent of them and could think for himself? Maybe . . . maybe he was more than just a bit of computer data, wandering through cyberspace, forgotten.

Or he could be.

With an angry, frustrated cry he sent the glass flying. It shattered against the other wall, breaking into even tinier pieces. No, he wouldn't destroy himself. That was only what those humans would want, the ones who had originally tried to kill him. And he didn't intend to do anything that would please them. But he knew he wouldn't live much longer. Already he could feel his systems shutting down. Dizziness swept over him again, forcing him back to the floor. If his father had wanted him once before, he wouldn't want him now. Not after everything he'd done. His miserable existance would be over soon enough.

He tried to think about what he was feeling. He remembered so many things now. . . . Did he regret some of the crimes he'd committed? Did he feel the same towards humans as he had before? He didn't know. He couldn't concentrate long enough to think clearly. The room was spinning now. And he found himself thinking about the battle he had just come from—the battle he had lost.

He didn't know how Megaman and Protoman had managed to corner him the way they eventually had, especially when he'd had the upper hand just before that. And when they had teamed up to use their attacks against him, without him having the chance to retaliate and already having been weakened, that had been the final straw. That was when the Gospel MegaVirus had been extracted from his body, seeming to rip through his flesh as it left.

Protoman had seemed indifferent to the whole matter, but Megaman had seemed alarmed when Bass had collapsed to the floor, gasping and in obvious pain. He had run forward, his green eyes wide, and perhaps had intended to try to help, but Bass had teleported himself out with the last of his strength before Megaman could reach him. After all, the thought that anyone would try to help him and not harm him was quite foreign to him, especially after the way he behaved. Surely Megaman had intended to do more damage, perhaps inflicting the final blow. They were mortal enemies.

But he'd looked genuinely concerned. . . .

Where had that voice come from? Was that the other him again, the part of himself that he'd lost? He wasn't that person. He couldn't be anymore. They were two separate entities now. He lived a life filled with battles and hatred. This alter ego, this past him, seemed to be more trusting and willing to acknowledge that not everyone was cruel and heartless like the Elite Corps. He had loved, he had trusted, he had perhaps been naive. And he had died. That Bass was no more.

It doesn't have to be that way. Not everyone is out to get you.

He growled low, feeling more blood rising in his throat. Get them before they get you. That had been his rule of survival. And then he had taken the powers of the Navis he had defeated, growing stronger as he did so. Perhaps it had been wrong, even cruel. He had been repaying everyone with the same cruelty he himself had been handed. That was why he felt guilt. And now he was suffering the consequences of it all. So maybe I deserve to die, he thought bitterly. Or maybe he should have died at the hands of the Elite Corps, as they'd planned.

Or maybe that's the easy way out. If you realize what you did was wrong, maybe you should try to make up for it.

He narrowed his eyes, tired of the voice, his own voice, talking back to him in his mind. He didn't need advice from a part of him that was dead.

If it was dead, though, why was he experiencing these different emotions? Shouldn't he instead be as cold-hearted as he'd always thought he was? As ruthless and cruel as he'd appeared to everyone? Maybe . . . maybe he'd retained that part of himself all along . . . but had been afraid of it. Afraid of the hurt, the pain, the agony of being betrayed and rejected again. Maybe now, that he truly was dying, that hidden part of himself was struggling to get out again. A lot of good it will do me now.

Pain shot through him again and he let out a hiss of agony. The viruses were still there, watching him, but none of them made a move forward to infect him further—or whatever it was that they would do to him. He glared at them coldly with all the strength he could muster. They were apparently just going to stand around, witnessing his death, never trying to either help or hinder him. He found himself disgusted. He didn't want them there, watching him suffer.

It was strange how quickly death could creep up unawares. Bass coughed and sputtered, causing more blood to splatter around. His vision was going out of focus and his throat was constricting painfully, making it impossible to get any air. He was struggling to hold onto life, but it seemed elusive and slippery. No matter how hard he tried to force his eyes to stay open, they would not. With a groan he let them close, his body going still. He would be deleted in a moment. That was the NetNavi version of dying. And then . . . then no one would remember the violent and destructive force known as Bass.

In the meantime, most unbeknownst to poor Bass, Megaman was indeed concerned about the Navi he and Protoman had defeated together. He hadn't realized that Bass would wind up so seriously hurt as he obviously had. But their fight had been long and hard, with none of the trio escaping completely unscathed. And when Bass had been defeated, the final blows laid into his body had done something to him. Both Megaman and Protoman had witnessed the remains of the Gospel MegaVirus tearing loose from Bass's form. It had been an atrocious, horrid sight, and when it was over Bass had keeled over in complete agony, shuddering and bleeding in the extreme. Megaman had shouted to him and tried to run forward to offer help, but Bass had only muttered something low that he couldn't catch and then had teleported out. Now Megaman was frantically looking for him.

Lan sighed, watching his NetNavi run across the screen of the PET. "He's probably already deleted, Megaman," he remarked. After all, he had witnessed the fight too, and it had been dastardly. When he saw what had befallen Bass, he had been certain the mysterious Navi would be deleted on the spot. "You'd better just give up, don't you think? You've been looking for ages!" He glanced at the clock. "Mom called me for dinner almost ten minutes ago!" His stomach growled disagreeably. If there was one thing Lan hated missing, it was food.

"I know, Lan," Megaman replied, wandering around the next corner. "But he couldn't have teleported really far out. He was too hurt." Always Megaman had been a kind, caring NetNavi. He didn't want to just abandon Bass to whatever fate was his now, even despite the many clashes the two of them had come through. Bass didn't even remember anything anymore. It seemed so unfair for him, to have come through all the torment he had and now to be most likely laying somewhere, bleeding to death with no one to help him.

Lan rested his elbow on the desk, starting to doze as he watched Megaman wander down a seemingly endless corridor. It all seemed so hopeless. Bass had to be dead. There was no way around the horrible injuries he'd sustained. And even if he wasn't dead, what on earth would Megaman do if he found him?


Megaman's urgent voice came over the PET and the hungry boy perked up. "What is it!" he exclaimed over the sound of his screaming stomach. "Did you find him!"

Megaman swallowed hard, kneeling down next to a still body laying in a pool of blood. Though the Navi was turned away from him, he recognized the tattered cloak and strange helmet. He had, indeed, found Bass. "Yeah," he answered Lan quietly, turning the silent form to face him. Bass didn't make even a hiss of pain, though the wounds were all over his body. As Megaman bent down, he realized he couldn't hear or feel any breathing. Obviously Bass wasn't quite dead yet, since he hadn't been deleted, but . . . was he really still there? Was any part of him still in existence . . . or was Megaman looking at an empty shell?

Lan stared at the scene, trying not to be sickened at the sight of all the blood. "What are you gonna do?" he asked quietly. Admittedly, he hadn't expected for Megaman to actually find Bass at all. Now that he had, Lan found himself concerned and intrigued.

Megaman shook his head, raising Bass's wrist to check for a pulse. It was then that he saw the sharp cut in the other Navi's flesh, apparently purposely done from the look of it. He let out a soft gasp, suddenly noticing the many shards of glass strewn all about. He wasn't entirely sure what to make of all this, but from all appearances it seemed that perhaps Bass had tried to end his life. If that were so, however, he soon realized that Bass must have changed his mind. The wound was not deep enough to be fatal. And he was holding no glass in his hands, which might indicate having passed out in the act. "I'm going to help him," he replied finally to Lan. "I don't know how, but I'm going to." And whatever he did, Megaman knew it would have to be quick. Bass wasn't going to last much longer.

He felt senses returning to him. Again he could feel. He was laying on a soft surface, covered by something else gentle. As his hearing came back, he became aware of a slow, steady beeping. What was that? He couldn't comprehend. He was supposed to be dead, deleted. Maybe the beeping was a warning before deletion. It was driving him mad.

He forced his eyes open, half-expecting to find himself in some sort of NetNavi purtagory. Instead he found that he was gazing at the dimmed lights on a ceiling. He blinked, but the display was still there. This was no burning flame of a virtual Hades. In actuality, it almost looked like . . . a hospital room. He was laying on a bed, covered by a quilt. He was alive.

Slowly he raised his hand up from under the fabric. The wrist was carefully bandaged. As he pulled the quilt back, he saw gauze wrapped around his other wounds as well. A bit of blood had soaked through some, but he wasn't too bothered by the pain that accompanied it. What confused and concerned him was, How was this possible? Who would have come to help him? And why? Did someone want something from him? Even if they did, though, he doubted there was anything he could give them. Not that he'd offer anything anyway. He wouldn't be the patsy for someone's attempt to gain something and if that was why he'd been rescued, he felt disgusted again.

"Bass! Hey, you're awake!"

Immediately he turned his attention to the source of the friendly voice. Megaman was standing at the side of the bed, looking relieved. And Bass was only more confused.

"What . . ." His voice came out more gravelly than usual and he frowned in irritation. His throat felt hoarse in a way. He wondered if he'd been screaming.

Megaman looked slightly amused at his expression. "I'm glad you're okay," he said then, sobering. "You've been out of it for a long time." Several days infact, he added to himself. Bass had been drifting in and out of consciousness, but he hadn't made much sense when he had been awake before. He had kept calling for his father, sometimes acting as if he was in terrible pain and agony, but from something other than what he had just come through. Most of the time he had lain near-death and unconscious with a bad fever. It had been touch-and-go for a long time, but now his fever was gone and his wounds were starting to heal. He was going to recover.

Bass just stared at him. "You saved my life," he realized, suspicions and confusion reigning over him. "Why? What is it you want from me, Megaman!" He couldn't believe that someone would help him just because they wanted to. It just sounded too impossible, especially considering all the crimes he had committed throughout the Net. Wouldn't they want him to die? Wouldn't they all want that? And especially, wouldn't Megaman want that?

Megaman sighed sadly. "I don't want anything from you, Bass," he replied, though he could understand the other Navi's perplexity. He had thought sometimes about what Bass's reaction to this would be if he ever did completely regain consciousness, and he knew it would be hard for him to grasp that Megaman had saved him because of the sense of honor he had. And Megaman had often felt sorry for Bass. He had seen how the embittered Navi had suffered with his feelings of passionate hatred and later, how he had forgotten everything he had once been and had become a fighting machine. Which Bass was this? Megaman wasn't sure, even though in his delirium Bass had made reference to several past events. It was possible that during his waking moments, Bass remembered none of those incidents spoken of.

"Then why?" Bass demanded. "Why did you save me, instead of leaving me to die? After what I'd done . . . I would think you'd want me deleted."

Megaman looked at him, trying to uncover the emotions that were swirling through the red eyes. Bass was on guard, deeply confused and expecting there to be some sort of catch to this. "I saved you because . . ." He paused, searching for the right words. "You didn't deserve to die. Not like . . . that, alone and bleeding to death." Bass was actually quite a lost soul, Megaman had often thought sadly. Confused and with no one to teach him differently, he had turned against everyone, human and NetNavi alike, and had become somewhat of an avenging angel, wanting desperately to repay everyone for the cruelty he himself had been dealt. But in doing so, he had become like those he hated.

"Then what did I deserve, from your point of view?" Bass retorted, attempting to sit up but quickly rejecting that idea. He sank into the fluffy pillows, watching Megaman, who had in his past been his enemy but now seemed to be his rescuer. But it was still hard for him to understand why.

Megaman was silent now, pondering on his answer. At last he spoke again. "A second chance. And . . . a friend."

Bass grunted in disbelief. "I don't need a friend," he retorted. He was a lone wolf—always had been and always would be. He needed no one. It was pointless to make acquaintances, anyway.

"You would've died without one," Megaman responded quietly. Or several. He knew he had only gotten there barely in time to save the other Navi's life. Bass hadn't been breathing and he had lost so much blood that he would have been deleted most likely within the next several minutes. While Megaman had been trying to figure out what to do, Lan had called up Maylu and the others and told them to jack in their Navis and help Megaman and Bass. And so they had. Together the Navis had managed to bind up the worst of the wounds and get Bass to breathe again, albeit barely. Then Rush had made a portal and taken them to a hospital somewhere in Net City.

Bass didn't have anything to say to that.

After a while Megaman left Bass alone again so that he could rest. He leaned against the wall outside the room, crossing his arms and pondering over their conversation. He wasn't sure whether Bass believed him or not in the fact that he had not saved his life to get gain. But he had the feeling that he had been talking to the old Bass, the Bass who remembered his past and everything he had done.

"How is he?"

Megaman looked up to see Roll there. He smiled at her, then sighed, looking up at the ceiling. "He's going to be okay," he answered slowly, "but . . . I don't know that he trusts me. He thought that there must've been something I wanted from him or I . . . we . . . wouldn't have made sure he didn't die."

Roll laid a hand on his shoulder, smiling gently. Whenever Megaman needed to talk to someone about deep matters, Roll was the one he went to. She was always kind and patient and understanding and there was an aura around her that made her seem so wise. "Well . . . we weren't really expecting him to suddenly change, were we?" she said softly.

"No," Megaman admitted, "but I wish he could realize that not everyone is his enemy." He looked back at her, gazing into her compassionate green eyes. "He must get lonely. . . ."

Roll nodded quietly. "I'm sure he does," she agreed. "But he'd never admit it, probably not even to himself."

Megaman lapsed into a silence. "I wonder where Protoman went," he said finally. Protoman hadn't offered to help with finding Bass, not that Megaman thought he would. He didn't know that Protoman would be all that concerned with Bass's well-being, so if the silvery-haired Navi had decided to look for him on his own time, Megaman figured it would be because Protoman wouldn't want Bass to somehow heal himself and come back to cause more trouble. But they hadn't seen any sign of Protoman at all since the fight had ended. He had just simply left.

Roll watched him, gathering his thoughts from the expressions coming over his face. Protoman was another mysterious Navi, but he often appeared if one was in a jam and fought alongside them to defeat whatever mutual evil they were battling. He didn't make many of his thoughts known, but Roll assumed that Protoman considered Bass an extreme threat, one that must be eliminated at all costs. Megaman, of course, had wanted to stop Bass's reign of destruction as well, but more than that, he wanted to save Bass from himself . . . if such was possible. Roll could see this as well. And only time would tell if it was possible.

For a long time afterwards Bass remained awake in the darkened room, pondering. He and Megaman had always been enemies, but now his life had been saved by the other Navi. Megaman claimed that he didn't want anything in return. It was hard for Bass to believe that was possible. How could the one who had been his fiercest nemesis for so many ages suddenly turn around and rescue him from deletion?

It was true, though, Bass remembered, that Megaman hadn't actually seemed to hate him. He had seen many things in Megaman's eyes during their battles: righteous indignation, anger, a sense of justice . . . but not hatred. And during the time Bass had been suffering with amnesia, Megaman had tried desperately to get him to remember his past. He still didn't know why Megaman had been so insistant, trying so hard to get him to recall everything.

It was all so confusing . . . so foreign to him. . . . There was only one person who had shown any kindness to Bass before, and then Bass had mistakingly thought that he had turned against him, just as everyone else had done. But he had found out that it hadn't been true. There were still so many conflicting emotions raging within his soul. He didn't know what to make of any of it. Megaman wanted Bass to trust him. He didn't know that he was capable of trust anymore. He didn't know that he was capable of anything. Now he wasn't even sure what he would do when he recovered. He knew now that he didn't exist solely for fighting. But he didn't know if he wanted to go back to his original plan of destroying all of humanity. It was as if, when his memories came back, he was seeing everything from a disembodied point of view, clearer than he ever had before. And now he didn't know what was right.

He closed his eyes, feeling exhaustion clawing at him. He would figure it out later. Now he was too weary to think straight. He was still in bad condition from everything that had happened, even though his life no longer was in danger. He could still hear that infernal beeping, but he would try to ignore it. Slowly he slipped into oblivion.