Author's note: So yes, with dozens of stories I have sitting on my hard drive, what do I do but start a new one. I'll warn you, I haven't written for Astroboy, and I haven't watched any other versions of the 2009 movie. However, I have watched the movie about half a dozen times (admittingly, the first couple of times it was just for Nicholas Cage's voice), read as many as fanfics as I could understand, and I have haunted the Astroboy wiki for a few months now (though it doesn't have that much). So hopefully that makes up for any deficiency on my part.

Obviously, this takes place before the movie. I'm not saying how far in case I over/undershoot during the story line. And, in order not to spoil/type myself in a corner, all I'm divulging here is just to clear a few things up. Tenma isn't Minister yet, Stone isn't president yet, and robots are of a more crude design than in the movie. Why that little part will be explained as the story progresses.

So go ahead and read, and if you're so kind leave a comment when you're finished. If there's any questions, or any critiques, I accept them with open arms. And, obviously, I don't own Astroboy, or any of these characters. And, for the readers of Otherworld, I'm working on chapter 15! I promise! Blame Sephiroth and Kagome for not cooperating with my storyline...

Chapter One

Doctor Tenma marched through the large corridors of the Ministry of Science, not paying one iota of attention to the people and robots quickly getting out of the irate scientist's way. The robotics scientist wasn't very approachable on a good day; actually, only his partner, Doctor Elefun, could converse with him and not end up verbally accosted. Moreover, if the dark look on his face was anything to go by, today was not a good day.

The opaque glass doors of the Ministry of Science cafeteria slid open with a quiet hiss; Tenma scanned the large room filled with scientists, technicians, assistants, and others crowded around hundreds of tables for a familiar poof of white hair. In the corner near the large windows letting in the light and cityscape of Metro City he caught sight of Elefun. He didn't take notice that his partner was talking to a familiar young woman as he stormed towards the table. "Elefun," he started as soon as he was close enough to be heard over the chitter-chatter. However, his anger fueled rant was interrupted before it could even begin when a soft snicker-like giggle alerted him to the second person sitting at the round table.

"You… kinda have something in your hair." Tenma glared at the young woman, but unlike the others the black haired and brown eyed woman smiled slightly. It only took a second for Tenma to recognize her as Hoshi- Elefun's much beloved niece. However, even that wasn't going to faze him today.

His dark eyes narrowed at the young medical doctor, irritated even more by that serene smile that was nearly identical with the one Elefun generally wore, except hers held a hint of mischievousness that could annoy him to no end. "Yes, thank you Hoshi," he grounded out, clearly being sarcastic. "I didn't notice."

While the two were not-so-subtly engaged in a staring contest, Elefun paled as he recognized the pale green goo tangled with Tenma's already messy brown hair. "Oh dear, that's the Sticky Biomass, isn't it?" Elefun's quiet words brought Tenma's attention away from the niece to the uncle.

"Yes," Tenma growled, "it is. Your technicians were playing with it. The fourth floor labs 410 through 414 are filled with it. Dozens of experiments and research is now ruined."

Elefun frowned slightly. "Now, Tenma, I'm sure they weren't playing with it. Replication was scheduled today. I had thought since the previous tests had gone smoothly I could step out for a moment." And, he added mentally, they're your technicians as much as they are mine. Not that he would comment that aloud. Tenma was a brilliant scientist, and possibly the best colleague Elefun had in his many years. But he had to admit, he had a temper and verged on the irrational side once in awhile.

Elefun's attention turned towards Hoshi, who was looking at Tenma with quirked lips. "I'm sorry, my dear, but I should go and try to control the situation. I suppose we'll have to celebrate your birthday afterhours."

Hoshi's smile became more genial as she looked towards him. "That's okay, Uncle. I should probably get back to the clinic before my PA starts to develop another mental break down."

Tenma scoffed as he turned back towards the medical doctor. "Are you still refusing to employ a robotic assistant?"

"And put Mark out of a job? That's just cruel." The teasing smile was back on the young woman's face, making Elefun pause after standing up. Generally, nothing good came of the two left together alone. Without someone to diffuse the two very stubborn and hot-headed doctors, heated arguments developed from their radically different ideals and tended to spiral into rather childish name-calling.

But surely they would behave in the middle of the Cafeteria? After all, both of them were professionals with a reputation of being the best of their respective fields. Tenma was beginning the largest revolution in robotics since the Three Laws, and Hoshi's practice was the only one in Metro City that had all human staff and relied on more traditional, human-based care.

Doubtful yet optimistic, Elefun left without another word as the two started their old debate of machine versus human.

"Robots may be more efficient," Hoshi rebutted Tenma, "But if you take out humans you lose the psychosocial aspect. Not even the most advanced robots can care like a human being."

Tenma rolled his eyes as he took Elefun's empty seat, and crossed his arms. "I can't believe that caring holds out to efficiency. If you had robotic assistants, then you could treat patients fast enough that it doesn't matter if there is emotional involvement or not."

"If there are humans involved, there will always be emotions," Hoshi pointed out. "Many patients, especially the elderly, enjoy the simple chit-chat. Children are calmed more by soothing words and a therapeutic touch than a machine's cold efficiency."

"Most of the city disagrees," Tenma countered. "Nearly all businesses own at least one robot, along with over ninety eight percent of households."

"Yeah, for cleaning and other mundane things- like reminding you about important date that are coming up. Obviously, you don't own one of those." There was a strange look in her eye that made Tenma hesitate. Important dates? Of course he had a robotic secretary, but today wasn't…

Oh. Oh. He winced as he remembered. "It's your birthday."

Hoshi nodded her head, "You forgot, again. And do you know what that means?"

"I'm not taking you to dinner," he stated firmly. "I don't have time. The Minister expects the Sticky Biomass to be perfected by the end of the month, and obviously we have some bugs to work out." His scowl deepened as her lips quirked into a small smile as she glanced up at his hair. "In addition to a hundred other projects with their own due dates."

Hoshi sighed as she waved her hand carelessly. "Please. Even the mighty Doctor Tenma has to eat eventually. I never said it had to be fancy or anything."

"Why are you so intent on this?" he asked exasperatedly , and it was her turn to blush slightly underneath the dusting of makeup upon her face.

"A free meal, of course," she defended before quickly turning the tables. "Why are you so determined not to own up to your promise?"

A long moment of silence stretched between them as they lapsed into another staring contest, deep black eyes glaring at determined honey brown irises. "I don't think I have ever encountered someone as annoying as you, Hoshi," Tenma conceded grudgingly.

He was gifted with a pleased smile, "I think that's what they refer to as the pot calling the kettle black."

"I am not annoying."

"No, you're just a vain know-it-all."

"Says the woman who refuses to accept help."

"Oh-ho, don't even go there! I have plenty of Physician's Assistants and Nurse Practitioners under me."

"Yes, but I don't see another MD in your practice."

"That's because most of the MDs are robots now. And those who aren't are horrible when it comes to social skills. Hmm, much like you."

"You don't need social skills to be adept at a profession."

"When it involves the psychological as well as physical care of humans, yes it does."

Twin beeps interrupted their banter, and both doctors checked their respective phones. With dual sighs, they stood up. "Be here at six thirty," Tenma stated as Hoshi threw on her white lab coat that had been draped across the back of her chair. "Don't be late."

Hoshi shot him a smile verging on flirtatious. "I won't be." Without a goodbye that would never have happened anyways, she quickly strode towards the elevator doors that would lead to the lobby. Tenma rolled his eyes one last time before heading the way he came. Why did Elefun's niece have to be so stubborn?

Why was it so… enjoyable to argue with her?