The blind man tapped on the arm of his chair. "I thought you said it was ready?" he asked.
"It's almost ready," Igawa Ryoutarou replied, "I just need to finish off some things, but it won't take long. In the mean time-" do you want me to get you something to read, he almost said, but changed it to "do you want me to put on the radio?"
"Nah, I'm fine." With that he was silent; and the next time Igawa glanced over, his head was resting on his chest, and he appeared to be sleeping.
In retrospect, Igawa decided, he should have waited until he had completed the project, and then called in Hijikata Mamoru, instead of jumping the gun in that respect. He always got a little anxious when the end of a project was in sight, especially one he'd poured that much effort into. It felt like he'd learned enough about the structure and function of the eye to pass an exam to be certified as an ophthalmologist, enough about sonics and echolocation to be able to play pinball just by sound, and he hadn't sweat that much over code and hardware since, well, ever. It wasn't just the intrinsic difficulties of designing a system that would analyze ultrasonic vibrations, translate that into a useful image, and then project that onto the retina, although that played a big part; he'd also caught wind of a rumour that the Director had personally requested him for the project. It was enough to make a man feel small, even if said man was a handsome and charming technological genius.
He looked over his shoulder to Hijikata again. Even asleep the man was intimidating, in a way that went beyond the leather jacket, muscular physique, and extensive scarring on his face that the dark glasses only partially concealed. The white cane he lightly held in one hand did nothing to make him seem weak, and when awake he always seemed to be watching, regardless of how impossible Igawa knew that to be. He knew precisely the extent of the damage to Hijikata's eyes (though he didn't know the cause), and that they were pretty much only good for filling in his sockets - he didn't even have the slightest bit of light perception - and would never let anyone be able to see.
Which brought Igawa to yet another cause of his anxieties. At one point or another, somebody had gone up to Hijikata, mentioned Igawa, and had said "this man will let you see again". Ever since he'd started doing work for the Network, people had been depending on what he made, but the obligation had never been so... personal. It had always been "this device will likely save X lives", but that's all it had been: a projection, statistics, not people with names and faces. He had faith in his own abilities, and would be willing to bet almost anything that it would work, but still...
He awoke from his reverie with a start when he realized that he had nothing more to work on, and after a quick inspection, it was complete. He must have given some verbal sign of his excitement at that fact, for behind him he heard a sleepily-mumbled "What's so interesting?"
He took a few moments to slow his breathing down to a more normal rate, carefully lifted the work tray and set it on his lap, and pushed off in his swivel chair to where Hijikata was sitting; no use getting up and walking when the chair has wheels, after all. "You're awake? Good, because it's ready now. Take this."
Questing fingers reached out and lightly traced the shape of the object on the tray. "What is this... glasses?"
"Try them on."
He couldn't bear the tension, the moment, where he'd finally learn whether his calculations had been correct, his design feasible, his prototype successful - or conversely, everything a failure, his life an embarrassment, his continued existence pointless - so he turned away, avoiding Hijikata's reaction. He stared at the calendar across the room until numbers blurred into senselessness, and listened to his heart race. He waited an unendurable eternity, until the need to alleviate the pressure overcame his reluctance to confirm possible failure.
"Well? How is it?" he asked, slightly proud that his voice didn't quaver.
Behind the sunglasses he could see the other man alternately squinting and blinking hard. "Why is everything upside-down?"
Oh, for the love of -!
Head, meet desk. Desk, meet head. I'm sure you'll become great friends.