This fanfic is almost ten years old, but I reread it recently and decided, eh, what the hell. I'll repost it.
Reviews are nice, concrit is better.
Chapter One: File Deleted
It was better that way...or at least, that's what I said. I wasn't certain that I believed it, and I probably didn't. Confusion became a major part of my life after it happened; after all, it was either that or deal with the rejection. And what a resounding rejection it was...one had to admire the thoroughness of it, even if one took the force of the blow.
Yeah, I was a complete and utter wimp about it. I couldn't be anything else; emotional trauma will do that to you. Wreck you utterly, leave you a shattered mess inside...you name it, I felt it. And damn my pride, but I was determined to keep anyone from knowing. I couldn't hide some changes, particularly the relationship change, but how I acted could and would be altered. Nobody had to know. X wouldn't be spouting anything out to anyone, and I sure as hell wasn't going to say anything on the subject ever again. I just wanted to forget, cover things up, and get on with my life.
It worked pretty damn well, too; at least, for a while. You can never get a moment's peace around here. Once I liked being busy all the time, now I just didn't care anymore, giving little or no attention to things I once loved. My newly-gained apathy did not go unnoticed. People did note the change, and there were rumors, so many rumors...but neither of us was going to tell anyone anything, and for that little bit of privacy I was pitifully grateful. Not that I was happy about the situation, but if it had gone public...Well. I'm not sure what I would have done. Probably something unpleasant.
I don't think he even mentioned it to Alia, and they were lovers. Oh, yeah, that was pretty bad; he didn't tell the one person he trusted more than me. He must have been damn ashamed of me and the friendship...not that that mattered anymore. There simply wasn't one left, almost as if it had ceased to exist. That hurt the most; he just didn't want to be around me at all. Disgust? Shame? I really didn't know. Maybe it was a mixture of both. It was both expected and utterly unlike him to act that way, and it only added to my confusion with...everything.
I made a mental note never to fucking stick my neck out like that again. When you let your heart get all sentimental and then give it to someone, it's going to be shattered like the precious thing it is. I found that out the hard way. I can just imagine what some god up there said that day: 'That'll teach Zero to be sensitive, huh? *That* bastard's never going to be stupid enough to fall for someone ever again.'
Life pretty much sucked. My only real consolation at that time was that it flat-out could not have gotten worse. And of course, we all know what happens when you think it can't get any worse...It does.
The day started simply enough; nothing different, nothing changed from the day before. A few weeks of pain had dulled me to it enough that I didn't need to remind myself to do every little morning habit I'd had...before. I flashed the smile, flirted with passerby, and went through the mechanical motions of my daily routine. If I saw X in the hallway, I pretended he wasn't there. It somehow made things easier to deal with, except in those situations where we had to work together. Those I merely suffered through.
But that day I didn't have anything to work with him on, so I was happy, or at least as happy as I could manage to be. It was uneventful, to say the least. Very peaceful, but not that clich d eerie peace that you always hear about; it was quiet, but not *too* quiet...and it was boring as hell. I usually hate boring things, but like I've said, there were extenuating circumstances. It was a respite that I was grateful for.
Anyway. I'm going off on too many tangents. That day, I was sitting in my office, doing nothing and pretending that the paperwork piling up on my desk didn't exist. I was doing it pretty well too, until the knock on the door. I quit playing with my pen, setting it down on the desk and moving to get the door. Whoever was knocking didn't wait for me to answer; an instant later Lifesaver burst into the room with an unsettled look on his face.
"Zero. There's something that requires your urgent attention."
I blinked. "Uh, okay, just let me-"
"No, Zero. It's *very* urgent. We could really use you down here *now*."
I shrugged, moving to follow Lifesaver and wondering what all the fuss was about. There hadn't been any Maverick attacks for an eerily long time, so I doubted that anyone was wounded. And if they were, what the hell would it have to do with me? It's not like there was anybody I was terribly attached to, besides maybe X...
Oh. Shit. X. They would have noticed our drifting apart, but since they didn't know what caused it...Lifesaver would have obviously told me if something happened to him, despite the rift between us. If it was this urgent...fuck. I was torn between running straight towards him and running the hell away. X would not be glad to see me; of that I was certain, but still. If he was hurt...I stared at the back of Lifesaver's head and tried not to think about what was happening. The walk was fast, but it seemed to take a hell of a long time to get where we were going.
Lifesaver opened the door, looking fairly nervous. "Now, please don't be too distressed Zero. It might upset him, and he's already bad enough."
"So what the hell happened?" I stared into the undecorated white room. X was just...sitting there, staring at the ceiling with an unsettled look on his face. "He looks fine to me." Hearing my voice, X turned his head towards the door and blinked curiously at me. Then he smiled nervously, shifting where he sat and generally looking uncomfortable. It was...weird. No, it was extremely weird. Lately X had been giving me the cold shoulder, now...he just looked embarrassed, and slightly unsure of himself.
"Hello." X said quietly. I waited for him to continue, to tell me to 'please go away' or something, but nothing. Did I mention it was weird? Because it was. Very.
"Hey." I muttered back, striding into the room and grabbing a chair. "So," I shot a glance over at Lifesaver, who was standing in the doorway and glaring at me. "What is this urgent need-you-right-here-now thing that you dragged me to look at? Is there anything, or is this just to amuse you?"
"If I hadn't called you, you would have asked me why I didn't tell you the exact moment it happened. That's why I told you to come." He frowned. "And X?"
Across from me, X turned wide eyes to the doorway. "Yes?"
"Until we figure out how to reverse it, Zero here will show you around and such. Alright?"
I scowled, wondering what exactly was going on here. "Why the fuck would I need to show him around? X knows Headquarters just as well as I do." I stood up. "What am I not being told here?"
"I suppose there's no use to trying to avoid the subject anymore, though I thought you would have figured it out by now. X here," Lifesaver jabbed a finger at X. "Has lost his memory."
Chapter Two: Processing Data...
He was still staring at me. It was kind of weird, not to mention that a slack-jawed and blank-eyed expression really didn't suit him. I wasn't really sure what to do; this man obviously knew me, and probably had for a long time, by how he acted. He probably knew tons of things about me, and I knew absolutely nothing about him. It was utterly uneven footing...and I absolutely hated it.
There was a long, uncomfortable silence hanging in the room around us, one I feared to break lest something horrible happen. Slowly, the man - Zero? - turned to Lifesaver, who was still standing in the doorway, and spoke.
"How did it happen?"
"Failure to upgrade," Lifesaver stated grimly. "X is old. *Very* old, and with so much memory to store from all of that time...well, he essentially reset himself. Started with nothing but his base data. The memory problem was fixed when reploids started being produced, letting us live longer without getting forgetful...but I guess nobody realized that X hadn't had the same things done to him." He shrugged. "We can do it now, but nobody's quite sure if everything has been deleted or just stored somewhere. It's going to take quite a while to work things out."
Zero shook his head sadly, impossibly long blonde hair waving around. "So he might get it all back?"
"Possibly, but we're simply not sure about anything. There haven't been many cases even remotely like this."
I sat where I was, watching the discussion with interest. These people *knew* me...knew things I'd done, and said, that even I didn't know, and I had to admit it unnerved me. X was a more familiar person to these people than he was to himself...or was that person they talked about someone different? I knew my name was X, I knew what and who I was, but I didn't have any of the experiences this...other person had. The way they were treating me was...strange, almost like I was dead and now had been reborn. The programming was still there, but I had to wonder if that really made me the same person.
Zero, apparently, was harboring similar thoughts. Lifesaver left the room, and I was left with the blonde man staring at me with a highly uncomfortable expression on his face. I stared right back, partly from defiance, and partly because...well...He intrigued me. Who was he? How had he known me...before?
"So I guess we better be going...somewhere, then." Zero's words broke through my contemplation and startled me into rising. I nodded hesitantly, trying to smile at his blank expression and failing miserably.
I followed him quietly through the hallways, shadowing his moves and trying not to be noticed. I wasn't entirely sure why, but I couldn't shake the idea that people knowing about my situation wasn't a good thing. Trying to figure out why...well, I didn't exactly have much chance to do that. Zero moved briskly through 'Headquarters' though headquarters of what I had no idea. Any questions I asked would simply have to wait, I guessed, until this somber man lightened up a bit or I found someone more willing to talk. Our little tour through the building was almost entirely silent. It was almost like Zero was afraid of talking to me.
By the end of the trip, I found myself staring up at Zero as he keyed in a code to open some door. He had barely said ten words to me, and rarely chose to look at me, and overall I was left feeling incredibly confused. When people had passed us in the hall, he had smiled brightly and greeted them cheerfully, but the instant they left he was silent and brooding.
What kind of person was he?
The door opened quietly, and Zero glanced at me oddly. "What are you still doing here?" He asked, not unkindly.
I shifted where I stood, turning my gaze down to the floor. "I, uh...don't know where else to go."
"Oh." The syllable was full of embarrassment and something like nervousness. "Well. I hadn't really thought about that." There was a slight exhalation of breath, not quite a sigh. "Come on in."
Zero ducked into the room, and I followed uncertainly, glancing around the room. Nothing too special; a bookcase, a bed and bedside table, along with a dresser and a couple lamps. It showed signs of a hasty cleaning, and recent signs at that, like it had been horribly messy for a time. Apparently, something had made Zero tidy up, and from the evidence he wasn't really good at tidying up. I saw a small picture on the bedside table and headed over to it as Zero flopped face-down on the bed and sighed. I picked it up and stared at it.
It was a photo of Zero, grinning broadly and posing for the camera as he pulled a young man towards him in a headlock. The person was wearing a exasperated expression, but a faint smile was on his face. He seemed familiar. It took a few seconds, since I had not actually seen what I looked like yet, but the facial recognition part of my programming told me that the person was me.
The photo was suddenly removed from my grasp, leaving me blinking at my empty hands before I looked over and saw Zero with the picture. He sighed again, this time heavily, and stared at the photo. He sat down on the bed.
I felt like I had to say something. "That's me in that picture." I mumbled, feeling very strange.
"Yeah." Zero confirmed. "Before you up and forgot everything." A sad little smile crossed his face. "We were friends, y'know."
"...Can I ask you a question?" I looked away from Zero, trying to fix my gaze somewhere around the room before failing and looking right back at him.
I took a deep, shaky breath and tried to think of something to ask and how to say it. There was something bothering me, way in the back of my consciousness, about Zero and the way he acted. The picture showed a Zero who was, for all appearances, a happy, rambunctious person. The man I'd seen so far was gloomy and eerily quiet. I couldn't reconcile the two; did he lead some weird double life? It took a few seconds of staring - at the suddenly clean room, at his sad little smirk, at the picture he held - to really get why he had that duality. He had actually been that hyper-seeming person. Zero hadn't always been this way.
"What happened?" I had to ask. There were so many questions I had about...everything, but somehow I just blurted that one out.
He glanced up at me and raised an eyebrow. "You lost your memory. That's what happened."
"No, no..." I tried to rephrase my question and still be tactful. "What happened that, well...made you like this?" I looked away from his surprised expression. "You weren't always this gloomy, were you." It was not a question. "So what happened?"
There was a long, uncomfortable silence in the room. Zero was still staring at the picture, no expression on his face, only now he was gripping it hard enough to crack the frame and the glass. I snatched the picture away before he could damage it too much, setting it back on the bedside table and wincing at the harm done already. The picture would need a new frame entirely now. Zero stared at the floor, and I suddenly felt like I had asked something I really shouldn't have.
"Zero?" I ventured, feeling a little afraid. If I had offended him or something, I was fairly sure I'd be completely lost until I was repaired. I didn't want that, and I didn't want Zero mad at me either. "I'm sorry, I...I shouldn't have asked that..."
"No. No, it's...okay." He looked somewhat shaken. "But all the same, X...It's none of your business what...happened. It's nothing."
I couldn't help it; I gaped and stared at him incredulously. "Nothing? I may not know much about you, Zero, but it seems to me that whatever this something was, it sure wasn't *nothing* to make you be so...miserable!"
He looked up at me and glared. "And how the hell do you know that I haven't always *been* miserable, huh?"
That statement was somehow incredibly depressing. "Oh." I turned my gaze to the floor and left it there. "I guess you're right...But that really doesn't seem like a good way to live." I frowned. "You shouldn't be miserable. It's horrible to be that way all the time."
"Yeah." Zero's voice was softer now. "It is."
There was silence again, but it was a lot more comfortable this time. I suddenly felt utterly drained, like the conversation between us had taken away whatever tension that I had been running on. I sat on the bed next to Zero and let myself fall backwards, staring up at the ceiling. I got the impression that he didn't mind my little intrusion. "Zero?"
"I'm confused. About everything."
"So am I, X. So am I."