Author's Note: This fic is rated T (PG-13) despite fairly heavy swearing in parts on the grounds that swearing alone hardly justifies an M (R). Regardless, I felt it would be appropriate to note this.
It will also contain very numerous references to politically sensitive subjects including abortion, religion and genetic experiments. These references are not here to rant or preach my opinion on any of them and the characters expressing their views on the subjects are not meant in any way to stand for my opinion of the general population of people who hold their views. All opinions of my characters are strictly their own and are to be treated as such. Do not review this story to say you "agree" or "disagree" with me or try to debate about those subjects, because you were never meant to take them that way. Regardless, if they offend you, you have been warned.
Calm down now. Be cool.
A dark-haired man in his thirties straightened his tie nervously in front of a large mirror. He ran his eyes yet again quickly up and down his reflection. His posture looked far too timid for such an important debate. He took a deep breath and tried to straighten himself, pushed the glasses a little further up on his nose and silently cursed himself for having shown up with them – they were too big and looked too dorky. Too stereotypical. He wished he'd gotten used to contacts sometime.
"Mr. Edwards, five minutes."
He nodded, seeing in the mirror as a short member of the TV crew stepped out of the room. He was alone now.
"Damn it," he swore under his breath, briefly taking his glasses off just to see how he looked. He depressingly assured himself that the blurry flesh-colored blob he could see in front of him definitely looked much better now than with the glasses on. Damn it all. Tomorrow he'd get himself some contacts and use them, no matter what. Who knew when he'd next have to appear on TV?
Why couldn't they just have sent Dave? he thought to himself. I'm terrible with words. He could convince that audience that black is white if he wanted.
It was a rhetorical question, of course. Dave and his girlfriend were now at some fancy restaurant celebrating their anniversary. He had been practically begged to go; Dave had given him a long speech about what his relationship meant to him. And in some moment of pity, he had agreed to it, figuring it would perhaps, maybe, if he looked optimistically at it, not be quite as bad as it sounded. Damn it all. It was even worse.
"Yes. I'm coming."
He took one last look at himself in the mirror – there were so many things that were still wrong! – but dragged himself through the door. A member of the TV crew ushered him into a chair. He felt his palms sweating at the sight of all the cameras; he quickly turned to his opponent in the chair opposite him. It was a well-built woman with long, black hair who would have been attractive if only her thick-rimmed purple glasses had been a little less extravagant and her expression not so awfully stern. She looked at him out of the corner of her eyes with the utmost contempt of one with the firm conviction that he could certainly be no less than a personal messenger of the devil. He shifted in his chair. She was no more comfortable to look at than the cameras. He desperately looked around for anything else to focus his attention on. With relief, he saw the host, a casual, stylishly-dressed man, come hurrying over to sit in a third chair and put up a shamelessly fake television smile.
"Good evening, and welcome to Friday Night with James Sullivan!" the host said suddenly, indicating that they were on air. "As most of you will already know, there has been much recent controversy around a team of scientists working for Heywood Labs! After the news had leaked out, their spokesman and leader, David Ambrose, publically admitted that the group actually managed to create 'Pokémorphs', fetuses with spliced human and Pokémon DNA, which now appear to be growing normally. In particular, the controversy is about this statement…"
A television screen behind them showed a handsome Dave, standing on the steps in front of the lab with a crowd of photographers below him: "Look," he said irritably, "we have absolutely no plans to actually raise those things. We just wanted to see if it was possible, and okay, it is. We're just going to watch them grow for a week or two to see how they're developing and then destroy them. There will be no 'freak children' or 'Pokémorph minority'. It's no big deal. End of discussion."
The screen turned off and James the host immediately began reading from the cue screens again: "As it turned out, it was quite the opposite: this comment, at least to a large and loud portion of the world's population, was a very big deal and began a heated discussion that we will see the pleasure of continuing tonight, live on this very show! Please welcome Hannah Mariani, spokesperson for the Stop Abortion Movement –" the woman nodded curtly towards the camera "– and Brian Edwards, one of the scientists involved."
Brian quickly realized he wasn't supposed to be staring wildly at the show host and jerked his head towards the camera, giving it a nervous smile.
"So, Brian, why don't you start?"
"Me?" slipped out of him before he could stop himself. "Oh, well… you see…"
He tried desperately to remember what he had been planning to say, flicking his gaze at his calm-faced opponent. Oh, yes, now he remembered. He cleared his throat loudly.
"Look," he said, failing miserably at removing the nervousness from his voice, "if these children – if they ever became children – what – I mean, would you really send a child like that to a public school? They'd get bullied for sure. These children would lead perfectly miserable lives – if they ever were to become children, that is, because they certainly aren't now…"
"I assume, then," Hannah said coolly, "that you are of the opinion that fat children with glasses ought to be systematically murdered because they'll probably be bullied at school?"
She looked at him with stinging blue eyes and Brian realized with dread that she had done her research: although it was impossible to tell now, he had been overweight as a kid and of course he had worn glasses.
Damn it. Why did she look so creepily calm?
"It's… it's not the same," he said quickly. "They can't feel anything. They don't 'want' to live. It's…"
"They will," Hannah just said.
"Well, since you seem so eager to speak," James said brightly, "why don't you tell us your position, Hannah?"
"As I see it," she said simply, "the case is dead already. It is even more dead than the general debate for or against abortion. What do those in favor always say? 'What about rape?' 'What about what the sexually liberal call "accidents"?' 'What about if the child turns out to be seriously disabled and the parents wouldn't be able to handle it?' We don't even need to complicate the matter with those here. This is not rape. It's not an accident. Nothing is 'turning out' to be anything it wasn't obviously to begin with. These men –" she pointed an accusing finger at Brian "– perfectly deliberately created children with perfectly deliberate qualities that could cause them problems in the future. You, Mr. Edwards, need to realize that if they get bullied, it is your fault. You have no excuse whatsoever."
Brian stared at her, dumbfounded. "Why are you always calling them children?" he muttered, only half-convinced, while trying to think of something else to say.
"Because that is what they are," she said shortly.
Brian took a deep breath, thinking of what the others had been talking to him about. "Okay, look. If we didn't destroy the fetuses, who would raise them?"
She gave him an odd look, raising an eyebrow. "You, of course," she said. "They're your children which you created by your own free will. I haven't known anybody who deliberately decided to have a child and then expected someone else to raise it."
He stared at her, the implications of this zooming through his head. "What? Us? But… what are you talking about, anyway?" he asked heatedly. "We didn't deliberately create children. We deliberately created fetuses we intended to destroy. We weren't planning to raise…"
"Well, you should have thought about that before creating them, shouldn't you?" Hannah remarked coldly.
There was some great way to respond to this, he was sure, and Dave would have said it in the blink of an eye, but his mind was being too numb and panicky at the moment to think of anything.
"It… it seemed like a much better idea at the time," he said stupidly. "We'd had a little to drink that night since it was Dave's birthday – he always gets weird ideas when he's drunk – and it was just so obvious, I mean, look at all those book series – and after getting the idea and figuring out how it was possible in the party, we just figured the next day, hey, why not…" What the hell was he saying?
Hannah gave him a disgusted frown and looked at the camera. "Drunk scientists who want to imitate bestseller book series in some sad attempt to get attention make genetic experiments with unborn human children, and now, to top it all, they're going to be murdering them. Clearly this is only another example of the immorality of some of the men we call intellectuals today. We cannot let them do this."
"Well, our time is running out," James interrupted as a member of the TV crew gestured to him. "We will have our next guests after some advertisements."
Damn it all.
Brian shivered as he started his car. In the rear-view mirror, he could see that he was pale and sweaty. And his glasses still looked so damn stupid. He had failed so miserably it wasn't funny. The public against them once and for all in one fell swoop. Why the hell had he been mentioning that they'd been drunk?
Those thoughts kept cycling through his head on the long journey to his house.
His cellphone started vibrating in his pocket just as he was pulling into the driveway. He slapped his hand over his face momentarily in some abstract hope that it would just stop ringing. It didn't.
He fished the phone out of his pocket, opened it and held it shakily to his ear. "Yes?"
"Well, now you've gone and done it."
Brian sighed heavily. "I told you, Dave. I suck at this kind of thing. You really should've…"
"I had no idea you sucked that much! I persuaded Jane to agree to go home a little early from the restaurant so we could watch you on the one-hour belated channel – I felt embarrassed for even knowing you!" the voice on the other end of the phone shouted angrily. There was a sigh followed by silence. "You've really fucked us up, Brian."
"I know," Brian said miserably. "She was just making so much sense and being so calm that I just…"
"Making sense?" the phone shouted at him. "She was making exactly no sense at all! You didn't even say half of the stuff we talked about! And for Christ's sake – well, not his, specifically, but you know what I mean – babbling on about how I have weird ideas when I'm drunk? What the fuck?"
"I don't know," Brian replied desperately. "I just… maybe she was right. I mean, it seems kinda cruel to create them at all if… maybe we should raise them…"
"Right? Right?" Dave repeated. "Of course there's not much at stake for you here, since you're single, but those of us whose home has a breast to spare – do you really expect Joe to go home to his kids and tell them, 'Hey, guys, you're going to have a brother and he's a freak!'? And me, personally, I like my private time with Jane. Kids would really ruin that, especially freak kids. Maybe they'll even be peeing all over the place to mark their territory or something! There's no way we can abort them after that went on air. There's no way we're getting any financial support now unless we raise those kids. You seriously fucked us up, man. Remind me never to make you represent us again."
"I know," Brian muttered, but Dave had already hung up on the other end of the line. He sighed and closed the cellphone, pushing it back into his pocket. He stayed in the car for a few more minutes, staring at the garage door between burying his face in his hands. He had really messed things up. The others would never forgive him, ever.
Not much to do about that now.
He exited the car and thought for a moment before turning his cellphone off. Then he went in, made himself some instant noodles and went to bed.
The next day, Heywood Labs issued a public statement to apologize for their previous plans and state that the scientists involved would in fact themselves raise the Pokémorph children to the best of their ability.