A/n: This story is not dead! And should never die until it finishes! Because this is my guilty pleasure, it really is. It may be a long while between updates, but never dead.
"What are you getting at?" Hoshi wasn't sure if her tone was skeptical, astounded, or just plain confused. However, she did know it was amusing to watch Tenma on the vid-screen hastily push bulky goggles up into his messy hair, a shocked and annoyed look on his face.
"Hoshi? How-This is a secure line! For emergencies only!"
She merely smirked a little and held up a single red rose, "I think you sending me things anonymously is an emergency, especially when they're verging on romantic."
"WHAT?" Tenma sputtered at the accusation, pounding his hands on the keyboard in front of him. Which, obviously, did something wrong since red lights began to flash and she could hear panicked voices and an alarm faintly in the background. Hoshi wasn't sure whether to laugh or be worried as she watched Tenma hastily put his goggled back over his black eyes and yell out commands to his technicians. Worry won out, and she was about to cancel the call when the alarms quieted and he slumped in relief.
"Well, I believe you've had enough cardio exercise for today," she teased lightly, with a matching smile dancing on her lips when he glared at her, his eyes distorted for a moment by the thick goggles before he once more removed them.
"Back to the reason of this call," he grounded out, obviously trying to reign in his temper and so far succeeding. "Whatever made you think I'm the one who sent you a rose?"
She hoped he didn't see her flinch ever so slightly, "Not just one, a dozen," she continued to let her teasing smile remain despite the seed of doubt now taking root. "And I arrived at that conclusion because you're the only the only person I know besides Uncle that works at the Ministry." She held up a bland business care that bore the Ministry of Science seal.
Tenma felt his face slush slightly as he felt that inappropriate flare of jealousy. His mind rushed with options. Deny everything, accuse some lowly tech having a silly crush on her, even claim that they were from him. Anything but let her know about Ham Egg. "Obviously they're from your Uncle," he sneered after a moment, "Why would I send you flowers?"
Hoshi didn't let anything show through her smile as she easily fell into their old routine of tease and insults. "Which is the whole reason I'm calling you now. I needed to make sure that you weren't finally submitting to the strain of stress or something of the like."
"I didn't send them, and I have no clue who would be insane enough to call themselves your secret admirer." Tenma sighed, "I have tests to run, Hoshi, unless you have a real emergency."
Hoshi stuck her tongue out childishly before ending the call without another word. She didn't pay attention to the nurses behind her suddenly started gossiping and settling bets. She smiled ruefully and laughed at herself. Of course it wasn't Tenma, she knew that was impossible. That man didn't love anyone but himself and his robots.
So why did she allow her hopes to rise? She fingered the business card, blank except for the ministry's logo.
"Doctor?" Hoshi came out of her thoughts and looked back to Mark, one of the few physician's assistants that she could stand. "I want you to take a look at my patient. I think there is something else going on with him, but I don't know what."
Relief rushed through her as she dropped the card, grabbed her coat and data pad before making her way through the group of still gossiping nurses. This is what she needed, to distract herself by immersing herself in her work. She would worry about this later, hopefully when she was too tired to think.
On the other side of Metro City, Tenma was doing the same thing, for virtually the same reason.
After a few days, those employed at the Ministry of Science easily caught on to the fact that Dr. Tenma- known for his less than pleasant attitude- was somehow even more irritable than usual. Before, the only time he would snap at people and not just coldly ignore him was when they asked what he considered a stupid question, or did something stupid. Now he would loosen his sharp words if someone merely looked at him funny.
Even Elefun was not spared. Usually the younger robotics doctor would be at civil to him because he respected the experience and knowledge Elefun held. However, Elefun found himself at the receiving end one of Tenma's worst glares, his black eyes colder than the old doctor ever saw them. "What do you want, Elefun?" Tenma spat out once he realized that unlike everyone else he wasn't going to run away.
Seeing as that was as close as an invitation to come inside the cluttered office as he was ever going to get. Just by the state of Tenma's office it was clear something was wrong. If he thought Tenma's office was messy the night of Hoshi's birthday almost a month ago, tonight it was an absolute disaster. He had learned a while ago that the state of a person's office often reflected the state of the owner.
"I'm a little concerned about you," Elefun admitted softly as he looked at the empty bookcases across the wall. Most if not all the ancient books were piled around the sleek desk, which in turn was piled with data pads.
Tenma huffed and returned to the sleek pad in his hands. "I'm fine, just extremely busy."
Elefun nodded his head mutely, watching Tenma quietly for a moment. His usual crazy hair was even more of a mess than usual, there were dark circles underneath his eyes, his face pale and gaunt. Frankly, he was a mess, and looked exhausted. "When was the last time you slept, Tenma?"
Tenma waved his concerned away, refusing to look away from whatever was on the display. Elefun sighed, knowing this was going to be an exercise in futility. But still, he had to try, he was perhaps the closest thing the young man had to a friend. "Please tell me you've at least eaten something today."
"I'm busy, Elefun," he repeated again, but he might as well as admitted that he hadn't.
Elefun fished one of the meal bars he had bought in the cafeteria and set it on one pile of data pads, earning a quick glance from Tenma. "Did something happen between you and Hoshi," he finally asked, and watched as Tenma scowled, his muscles tensing. "You're both working yourselves to death."
"I haven't spoken to your niece in weeks," Tenma stated, his voice harsh as he glared at the screen.
"Well, what did you talk about last?" Elefun waited as the silence stretched on, wondering if he would finally get an answer. Last night he had questioned Hoshi when he brought her take-out from her favorite restaurant to Metro City Hospital, where she had been working a second 12hr shift. She had deftly avoided his questions, thanking him for supper before she disappeared into the chaos of the emergency room.
He received a message from one of her nurses later that night, informing him that Hoshi had eaten half of the takeaway, and had finally crashed for a three-hour nap after being up for 24 hours. Unfortunately, she had jumped right back into the fray.
After almost ten minutes of silence, Elefun sighed one last time. "I wished… I wished you two would just understand why you fight as you do."
That finally made Tenma pause and looked up at him. "The reason we fight is because we're completely different. We will never agree, and we will never get along." Elefun was surprised by the vehemence in his voice, but was even more surprised that it almost sounded as if he wasn't only trying convince Elefun, but himself as well.
"You are far more alike than you would both wish to admit," he countered, ignoring Tenma's glare. "Just promise me you'll take a break to eat and sleep soon."
"I'm not making any promises," Tenma said, returning to his work. Elefun shook his head, but left his office without another word, but gave him one last glance before the door slid shut silently. He had seen the two have their spats before, but never this bad. Usually he would have to deal with the two ranting at him for a few days at most before things settled into their normal annoyed state. Never had it lasted for this long, and never had they not expressed their grievances to him.
A/n: Next chapter, Elefun gets tired of our bickering couples antics, Ham Egg may just reveal himself to his crush, and more arguments between Hoshi and Tenma.