A Cruel Irony
(A Tenma One-shot)
Creative Consultants; AprilSeven and Astro Forever
The sky had been cloaked in an endless grey, making the lively green grass, or even the gravely brown dirt road look out of place by comparison. Yet despite this, the twelve year old Umatarou Tenma's mind was far away from that thought. Instead, he walked along the dirt road in silence. In his hand, he held a battered piece of paper. The paper read as follows; "Your task is to create your own idea for a small robot project. It can be anything, as long as it includes the basic principles we've been studying in class. It will be due April 16th."
Upon it to himself, the young Umatarou could not help but sigh as he looked over the paper for what must have been the millionth time. Just what could he possibly make? He had thought of creating a model air plane with optical shields, his mind had even toyed with the idea of creating a robotic puppy that obeys one's every command. Yet with each idea, he simply shrugged his shoulders and was back at step.
"What ever it is, it must be perfect", he thought to himself as he continued up the dirt road.
Suddenly, the young boy winced as a rubbery substance hit his body, causing him to take hold of his arm for a few seconds until the soreness disappeared. Upon looking up, his brown eyes caught something beside him on the ground; it was a shiny, crimson looking ball.
"Hey, Tenma", cried a familiar voice that startled the brown eyed boy.
Once he looked up, he saw three familiar boys standing in his way. The boy in the middle was about four feet tall, with brown locks to shape his confident looking face. His white shirts was hidden neatly underneath his faded, blue overalls, and his purple jacket hung nicely across his waist. The friend on his right side had spiky blonde hair that shaped his sun glass-hidden cocky face, with green overalls that covered his mud-ridden white shirt. The friend on his right was a pudgy, short boy. His hair was short, yet tan coloured, and he was shirtless underneath his blue overalls. One thing each boy had in common however, was that they each wore matching pairs of Rocket Ball roller blades.
"O-Oh, hi Haruka", Umatarou replied as he picked up the crimson ball. "I this...y-your ball?"
"Oh, looks like you found it. Thanks", Haruka casually replied as he took the ball away from the smiling brown eyed boy. "Say, we need another player for our Rocket Ball team, you want in?"
"Uh...no thanks...I have to get going", he explained.
"Ah come on; one round won't kill you", the brown haired boy insisted.
"I'd rather not...Besides, I promised my parents I'd be home early...", the brown eyed boy explained.
With a nervous chuckle, the brown eyed boy gave them a small wave goodbye before going on his way. Though once his back turned to them, all young Umatarou could do was let out a big sigh. As if his cheeks weren't already flushed enough his stomach felt as if it could explode at any given moment.
"You know that kid can't play Rocket Ball to save his life", he heard Haruka's taller friend say.
"Ah, com one. Seeing that whimp screw up? That's totally worth the price of admission", Haruka replied rather confidently.
"Yeah, I bet Umadork would fall flat if you tackled him", he heard Hrauka's pudgy friend say.
The last thing he heard from them was their collective laughter, unfortunately, that was more than enough to anger the quiet boy.
"Ingrates", he thought to himself as he continued on his way home.
It had only been a few minutes, and yet Umatarou could feel relief wash over him as he took a sharp turn into the grassy plane. In front of him stood a cozy, white-wooded house. True, the house seemed desperate for a paint job, the roof's dark brown shingles were slowly eroding away, even the window panes were in need of a good dusting. Though the smiling boy could care less; as far as he was concerned, he was home.
Slowly, he began to make his way up the grassy path when he heard the sound of barking. Upon looking up, Umatarou's brown eyes lit up as he saw a familiar black blur run towards him; it was Charcoal, the family sheep dog. He ran with excited speed; his tail wagging back and forth, his tongue hanging out, his fur moving every which way he grew closer towards the smiling boy.
"Charcoal", Umatarou happily cried as the dog tackled him to the ground. Honestly though, his smile remained on his face as he began to pet the panting dog.
"Hi boy. Did you miss me", he asked as he was attacked by a sudden swarm of dog kisses.
"Okay, okay...Alright boy; Sit", he commanded. Almost at once, the big, happy dog obeyed him. "Good boy."
"I bet someone wants a treat, huh", the boy asked in a playful tone, one his dog was ever so responsive to as he playfully wagged his tail. "Okay, let's go inside."
With just that simple phrase, he began to walk up the creaky stairs to the porch, his dog following behind his master's every step. After opening the brown door, the duo quickly stepped inside. Umatarou then quickly closed the door before taking off his muddy, brown boots. The inside of the house seemed much more inviting than its exterior suggested, mixing its painted walls with brown hardwood floors, the decent looking furniture lamps helped as well.
As the boy and his dog walked into the kitchen, he couldn't help but notice a tall woman, with long black hair washing the dishes over the sink. Sure enough, the woman turned around, a big smile on her face as she noticed him standing right across her. Umatarou returned the smile his mother, Kuki Tenma gave him.
"Hi mom", the boy happily said as he embraced his mom in a small hug, one she accepted wholeheartedly.
"Hello Umatarou", she sweetly replied as they smiled at one another. However, they became interrupted as the young boy felt something tugging at his back pocket.
Sure enough, it was Charcoal, a begging look in his eyes as he began to whine impatiently. Even though he was used to this by now, Umatarou could not help but laugh, and neither could his mother.
"So, did you have a good day", he heard her ask him as he walked over to the refrigerator, his dog following right alongside him.
"Yeah; in fact, our class got our first assignment on robotics in Science", the young boy explained as he grabbed a juicy piece of bacon from today's breakfast.
"Oh, good. You've been hoping for one of those for awhile", he heard her enthusiastically reply as he held the bacon strip over the excited Charcoal.
"Yeah, I just wish I knew what I was going to do with it", he replied as he finally let the bacon strip drop to the ground, catching the big dog catch it before running off to eat his prize in peace.
"Well, don't force one out of your head. It'll come eventually", she sweetly explained to the young boy, causing him to smile.
"I know", he replied.
"You sure about that sport", asked a gruff, yet friendly voice that caught Umatarou's attention.
As the boy turned around, his face instantly lit up as he saw who was sitting comfortably in the family room chair. Thoru Tenma was a middle aged looking fellow, though still fairly youthful in his appearance.
His arms were strong and beefy, though they could not hold up to any body builder. The same could be said for his torso, which was covered by a stained, white tank top and baby blue jeans. His black hair would look perfectly quaff if it were not slathered in thick, shiny grease. Most striking though, was his face; firm chin, confident brown eyes, and a smile that would welcome anyone in.
"Hi dad", Umatarou replied as he walked over to and stood beside his father's chair. Seeing this, his father folded his newspaper onto his lap.
" Hey sport", the older gentlemen casually remarked as he tussled the boy's hair, making him smile. "So, you finally got that assignment you've been wanting, huh?"
"Yeah; I just need to wait for an idea, that's all", the young boy explained as he watched his father shine a confident smile his way.
"That's my boy", he said rather confidently, causing the boy to shy away from his father's gaze.
"So, did you make any friends today", he heard his father ask, causing him to fall silent.
"Uh...not really..." the young boy remarked. "But, I did run into Haruka and his friends on the way home. They asked me if I wanted to play Rocket Ball, but I turned them down".
"Well, you should have taken their offer", he heard his mom say from way back in the kitchen. "They probably needed someone else to play with."
"Something like that", the young boy bluntly remarked.
"Oh yeah, that reminds me; we're still on for the big Rocket Ball game in Metro City this weekend, right dad", Umatarou asked in anticipation.
"I'd love to son, but unfortunately, your old man's got some last minute business to take care of this weekend. You know how the horse radish business is", his old man explained to him.
"What? But you promised", the young boy replied.
"I know son", his old man explained as the young boy felt his gruff hand on top of his black hair. "Maybe some other time. Okay?"
"Umatarou", his father sternly remarked. Upon seeing that stern grimace, the young boy could do nothing but take in a deep sigh.
"I understand. I'll be up in my room", he told his father as he made his way towards the carpeted stairs, all while his dog followed him in close pursuit.
"Don't forget to practice your scales", he stopped to hear his father say. "If you ever want to get anywhere in this world, you have-"
"I know; you must develop skill sets" the young boy remarked as he continued his way up the steps.
The tiny, white boarded room Umatarou sat in was very ordinary. There was a small, wood-framed bed off to the side where his dog was currently laying, with a tiny wood night stand beside it. Its only furniture was a white shaded lamp, and an ordinary black alarm clock. High above the bed was a tiny, circular window. Across the bed stood a sturdy, wooden dresser. Though most noteworthy was the sturdy bookshelf beside the bedroom door; its top shelf was messy. There were piano books, stuffed with sheet paper sticking out from each book. The other
shelves however, were much tidier; they were filled with books of Sherlock Holmes adventures, Phillip K. Dick collections and novels, and even a few books on basic robotics.
As he sat at his piano, the young Umatarou felt calm, relaxed even as he overlooked the sheet music for Tchacolvski's Romeo and Juliet overture. Effortlessly, was how his hands moved across the keyboard. The sounds he produced were enough to satisfy him. That is, until he heard something rather unpleasant; one of the notes sounded off. Now overtaken by frustration, he tried again; it still sounded off. With a defeated sigh, the young boy lifted his fingers away from the keyboard. The moment was now gone, and the young boy was merely left to wonder his thought almost aimlessly, especially his memories of the past few hours.
You know that kid can't play Rocket Ball...
Seeing that whimp screw up? That's totally worth the price of admission
I bet Umadork would fall flat if you tackled him...
He could hear their collective voices, even their laughter echoing in his head. His face became dreary as he remembered their words, he could not even help that his hand clenched itself into a fist. Yet something else caught his eye; it was Charcoal, chewing on his school work as if it were going out of style.
"Charcoal, no", Umatarou yelped as he ran towards his bed. "Put that piece of paper down, right now!"
At first, the big dog just stared at the boy, with his blue eyes wide and shiny. The young boy however, stood his ground. It only lasted for a few brief seconds, but he eventually began to smile as he saw the dog release the somewhat chewed up paper from his teeth.
"Good boy", he sweetly replied, even resting his small hand on the dog's soft head. He even let the playful animal slobber his cheek in puppy kisses, making him chuckle before he let out a big sigh.
"You're the only one who listens to me, huh boy", he asked the happy looking creature.
In fact, just hearing his own words made him silent. Suppose that there was someone who would listen to him? Suppose...Suppose...
"Wait...That's it! I know what to do boy", Umatarou cried out, only for his dog to tilt his head in confusion.
Quickly, he opened the top drawer to his nightstand to take out a pencil, and a worn out notepad. As he made himself comfy on his bed, the young boy flipped it open to a clean page, and immediately put pencil to paper where it stayed. By now, his black clock read 9:15. For Umatarou though, he seemed too absorbed in his current passion to even bother with time.
Slowly, Umatarou positioned the steel electrode between two unconnected wires. Once the rod was in position, he flipped his helmet plate over his goggles as he began to start the device on top of the two wires. Almost instantly, a soft blue light began to light up the dimly lit room, creating a heated friction which began to mold the two wires into one. Once that was finished, the room returned to its original mood lighting as Umatarou began to look over the design plans.
"So this is what you've been working on, huh sport", said a voice which startled the young boy. Once he turned around however, he came face to face with a familiar figure.
"Oh, hi dad", Umatarou replied as he lifted up his helmet plate.
"Hi son", Tohru casually remarked as he leaned over to see his son's work, all he saw was a small, yet round looking robot skeleton. "So, that much work in three days? You must be exhausted."
"A little; I just need another hour or so, and I'll have the exoskeleton done", the young boy explained.
"Another hour", his father asked. "But it's already eleven."
"I know", he replied as he began to look over his plans again, completely absorbed that he barely felt his father's gruff hand on his shoulder.
"Listen sport; you've been working late for a few nights now, why not take a break and catch up on some rest", he heard his father suggested as his eyes remained intent on his designs.
"Thanks dad, but I really don't feel tired right now. I'll got o bed as soon as I'm done okay", the young boy replied.
"That's sweet of you Umatarou, but your mother and I would prefer if you went to bed now", the boy heard his father say as he unleashed an annoyed sigh.
"I'm fine dad", he bluntly explained.
"I said I'm fine", he finally yelled out. Yet when he turned to face his father, all he saw was a surprised looking face. "Uh...Sorry about that..."
"Oh...Uh...Don't worry about it sport...", his father managed to say before he became silent. "Well...Goodnight..."
At first, Umatarou did nothing. The only thing he could do was sit in his chair, staring down at his nearly completed project. After awhile though, the young boy turned around to face his father directly, only to see the door to his room close. He stared at the door for awhile, almost unable to take his eyes off of it. Though with a small bite of his lip, he just returned to his desk.
A smile grazed Umatarou's tired looking face; a satisfied, delighted smile. What caused his smile, was what he held in his hand; it was a teddy bear. Its body was round and plump, with nice golden "fur". It's limbs and ears were just as soft and rounded as its body, and its face (especially its eyes) we're so jovial looking. Why, no one would ever suspect that such an ordinary looking toy was in fact a small robot.
For quite some time, he couldn't even take his eyes off his creation. He kept pushing its little button nose, watching as its eyes flicked on and off, even moving its arm up and down before placing it onto his bed.
"You're my best friend, Micro Bear", Umatarou told the little bear.
"I know I am, and you're my friend too", the little bear responded rather jovially, causing Umatarou to smile.
From where he sat on the plastic floor, Charcoal could only tilt his head in confusion at the tiny bear. Leaping onto the medium sized bed, he observed the bear rather intently, he even began to sniff it rather cautiously. As soon as the bear turned to face him however, the big dog backed away as quickly as possible.
"Hi Charcoal, I'm Micro Bear. Would you like to be my friend", the little bear cheerfully asked him.
Unfortunately, this did nothing for Charcoal as he began to bark at the little bear. Seeing this however, Umatarou could not help but chuckle. Even then, his gaze still drifted away from the big beast to stare at the ground in contemplation.
"You look lonely Umatarou", said a voice which startled him back into reality, turning his head to see the tiny little bear right next to him.
"Oh...I guess...", the young boy replied in an almost apologetic manner.
"Do you want to talk about it", the robot asked its creator.
"Not really...", he replied.
"Okay then; just remember that I'm always here to listen to you, because I'm you're friend", the little bear
happily explained. Hearing those words, they actually made the young boy smile towards the little robot he picked up once more.
"I know you are", Umatarou replied as the little bear gave him a smile.
Right now, Umatarou's small classroom was engulfed in chit-chat. This was not unusual, after all, it was three o'clock on a Friday. Usually though, his classmates (himself included) were usually on their way home by now. Today however, they were all gathered around his desk, or rather, the adorable creature that sat atop his desk; the Micro Bear.
"So, do you really think I should try talking to her", a young brown haired girl named Mamimi asked the little bear.
"Why certainly! After all, how is she suppose to know that you were only looking out for your friend? Especially if you don't talk to her", Micro Bear sweetly explained.
"Really? Oh thank you Micro Bear", she sweetly replied. "And thank you Umatarou; you've really outdone yourself this time."
"Oh, uh...thank you...", Umatarou replied as he rubbed the back of his head, his cheeks were even beginning to flush.
"Hey Umatarou", replied a voice he recognized. Upon turning around, he came to find that the voice belonged to a cheerful looking Haruka.
"Uh, oh...Hi Haruka...", the young boy replied rather unenthusiastically.
"Jeez, what are you getting all whimpy on me for? I just dropped by to tell you how cool your project is", the confident boy explained.
"Really", he asked.
"Yeah. In fact, I was wondering if you wanted to play Rocket Ball right now? You can bring the bear... if you want", he politely offered , all as Umatarou eyed him suspiciously.
"That's funny; I thought I couldn't play Rocket Ball to save my life", the young boy remarked.
"What? Oh, well that was yesterday. Today's today", Haruka explained.
"I see...", Umatarou bluntly remarked as he got up from his seat. "If you don't mind, I think I'll just go home. Come on Micro Bear."
On command, the little bear marched over towards the edge of the desk and hopped into its creators arm. He then slung his backpack over his shoulder as he made his way towards the door.
"Tenma? Hey, Tenma", he heard Haruka screech, and just as his hand made it to the door too. "Come on, what's the big deal? We're not gonna kill it or anything-"
"No...", the young boy said as he turned to face the surprised looking Haruka.
"You wouldn't even understand my creation!", he yelled before leaving the room completely.
"What? But dad-"
"No buts about it son", Umatarou's stern sounding father said. From where he sat, all the young boy could do was sigh as his gaze shifted towards his brown boots.
"Look son...please understand", he heard his father plead as he began to eye him (Tohru) again. "You mother
and I are concerned for your well being. We think it's time you got out more, made some friends."
"I keep telling you two, I'm fine", the young boy sternly defended.
"But don't you get lonely, sport", his father asked him.
"Not really; I have Charcoal, and Micro Bear", he replied as he watched his breath a frustrated sigh.
"It's not the same; you've just programmed that thing to be your friend", he explained.
"So what! He's still my friend", the young boy angrily defended.
"That's right; Umatarou will never get lonely because I'm his best friend", the little bear cheerfully responded from where it sat on the kitchen table.
As Umatarou watched another frustrated sigh escape his father's mouth, he could not help but cringe as his gaze began to turn away from him once again. Though something caught his attention; his father was getting down on one knee. What really caught him off guard though, was that he had a warm smile on his youthful looking face.
"Look son; I know you have a hard time fitting in. But you're the one who has to make an effort as well", his father explained.
"So...you're saying that it's my fault", the young boy bluntly asked.
"No, of course not. All I'm saying is that you need to make an effort", his father replied, even as his gaze became fixated on his boots again.
"But what's the point if they can't appreciate me", he asked.
"Well, you won't know unless you try", he heard his father say as he put his hands on his small shoulders, which caused Umatarou to gaze up at his confident looking father once again.
"And besides, who knows? Maybe you'll find a life-long friend, maybe you'll go into business together-"
"I'd rather work alone", he glumly replied as he watched his father fall silent.
"Well, picking horseradishes ain't easy work, you know", he tried to explain, much to the boy's growing dismay.
"Well maybe...Maybe I don't want to pick horseradishes for the rest of my life! Did that ever occur to you", he finally asked, or rather blurted out.
He did not say anything after that. In fact, all he could do was bite his lower lip as he watched his father's face. He took in a big gulp before his head turned away from the older man, he even felt his hands begin to gently tense up as he did so.
"Son, I understand. But you know that your mother and I just don't make enough money to send you away once you're all grown up", he tried to explain.
"So you'd rather me be unhappy for the rest of my life", the young boy asked in a somewhat angry tone.
"That's not what I meant-"
"Yes you do", he snapped as he finally turned to face his old man once more. Though despite the shock on his (Tohrus) face, Umatarou watched as his father shake it off before looking him straight in the eye once again.
"Son, I'm sure you'll find happiness going to University here-"
"No! I'd rather live anywhere...anywhere but here", he said as his gaze returned to his boots again, allowing for a brief moment of silence to settle in.
"What if I'm gone? Your mother can't run the business by herself...Is that what you want", he heard his father ask
him as those words sunk in. Though all he saw once he made eye contact with old man again, was a very stern looking face, one that made his body tense up.
"But...I never said that-"
"No, but that's what you're implying", he sternly explained to the boy as he tensed up once more.
"I...I'm sorry", Umatarou replied as his gaze returned to his boots once again. This time, he could even feel his stomach beginning to turn belly flops as his body remained very tense.
"Honestly, I just don't know what to do with you...Sometimes I wonder if you even love us", he heard his father say. Hearing that, caught his surprised attention as his gaze went back to his father's stern face.
"What? Don't be silly; I love you and mom very much-"
"Then maybe it's about time you got your head out of the clouds and started thinking about others", he angrily retorted towards his son, who could feel his stomach just about to burst at this point.
He said nothing as he watched his father leave the room, he could not even muster enough strength to leave the table. He just sat there, with that contemplative look on his face.
"Hey dad...Listen, I know we had our differences last night...but I'm willing to let by gones be by gones if you are...No, that's not right either!", Umatarou thought to himself; this was the third apology speech he had run through.
Of course by now, he was able to see his house in the distance. With a small moan, the young boy breathed a deep sigh as he began to walk up that dirt road. One way or another, he knew he could not just ignore what had happened yesterday. Suddenly, he became startled to see his dog Charcoal appear out of thin air. He noticed almost immediately though, that something was off; the big dog seemed impatient.
"What's wrong boy", he asked as his dog began to bark loudly at him.
"Did something happen", he asked, only to be come surprised as Charcoal began to tug at his salmon coloured shirt. "Okay, okay boy. Where is it?"
Letting his dog go ahead of him, Umatarou began to follow him into the grassy fields. At this point, he could only possibly guess just what had his dog so spooked. Though upon reaching the horseradish patch, he got his answer. It was his father; he was lying on the hard earth, clenching his left breast as he slowly gasped for air.
For awhile, Umatarou stood there motionless as his stomach began to tighten. His body would not move, his hands even began to shake a bit as he felt his entire body tensing up at this sight. For awhile, he could not even speak as he watched his father's struggle. Eventually, he could no longer watch his father suffer. Eventually, he began to move his legs again before he finally collapsed to his knees to gently wrap his hands around his fathers shoulders.
"Dad", he screamed, still feeling tense as he watched his dad gasp for air. "Don't worry, I'll go get help! Just stay here", the young boy told his dad.
Before he could move, he felt his father put his hand on his shoulder.
"Son", he heard his father say in a breathless voice.
"Dad, let me go-"
"Son, I'm so sorry...", he uttered, much to the young boys surprise.
As he said those words, Umatarou saw his fathers eyes close shut. He watched as his father's chest stopped moving, he even jumped a bit as his father's hand slowly loosened its grip on his shoulder, collapsing on his lap.
For awhile, he just sat there, with his brown wide eyes staring at his fathers corpse. "It couldn't be real", that was the first thought to enter his head. The more he looked at his father's corpse, he could not help but begin to whimper. Eventually, he layed himself on his fathers torso, and began to shake violently as he cried onto his fathers shirt.
June 15; the day that Tohru Tenma's funeral was held. By now, the sun had begun to set. And by now, the only people left at his grave were Umatarou, and his mother.
To be honest, he did not know what to think as he stood staring at his father's grave. He did not even know what to think as his mother continued to sob into her handkerchief. All he could think of was his father's last words, that he was sorry for their argument, that he looked happy as he did. Remembering that did nothing for the young boy, it just him tense up with guilt as hot tears poured down his face.
"I'm sorry father...", he thought silently to himself.
The sky was cloudy that day, though being a late summer day, it was not very cold at what was early afternoon. In hindsight, this was a good thing. After all, it was Friday, the day the Tenma's had their weekly supply of Horseradish seeds delivered to them.
Right now, the now twenty year old Umatarou was simply counting up the money he owed the truck driver standing right in front of him. By now, he had grown very tall and lean. His nose had grown long and looked very crone like, he even managed to grown his hair out a bit. One thing remained the same though; he was wearing navy bell bottoms that hid his dirty looking white shirt.
"Here you go", Umatarou said as he handed the man his money. "That should be the exact amount."
"Alright then. Well then , I'll see you later. Same time next week", the driver asked him.
"Of course", he politely answered, doing his best to keep his eyes on the man in front of him at all times.
"Right then. Well, see ya", he said as he headed got back into the truck.
"You too", Umatarou politely replied as he watched the truck drive off into the distance, letting out a sigh of relief as he watched the ground silently.
"You're getting a lot better" said a voice which startled him out of his silent state.
Turning around, Umatarou came face to face with his smiling mother. By now, she still wore light dresses, though now she wore glasses, her long black hair was even beginning to develop grey spots. She still seemed her cheerful self to him however as he tried to focus his gaze on her.
"I suppose", he calmly stated.
"You suppose? Come on Umatarou; you actually looked him in the eyes this time", she replied. "Why, keep this up, and you'll-"
"I know mother, I'm sure I'll be top the heap in no time", he replied as he mocked his mother's cheery tone.
With a small sigh, his gaze returned to watching the dirt road. Suddenly, he felt a warm hand graze his shoulder. Surprised, he looked up to see his mother. Only this time, she looked more concerned than she had been a moment ago.
"Umatarou...are you sure you're happy", she asked him. He looked rather surprised as she asked him that. In fact, he was unable to respond for a bit, or at least until he turned his gaze away from her.
"Well...I'm sure that father is happy...", he replied before heading back towards his house.
As he walked up the porch, he opened the brown screen door and walked into the house before closing it shut behind him. Umatarou quickly wiped the dirt off his heavy, brown boots before taking them off and heading for
the kitchen. When he reached the kitchen sink, the first thing he did was turn on the faucet before reaching for a glass cup form the open cupboard. Filling the cup to be filled to the brim, he took one big drink before taking a deep sigh afterwards. He then turned to walk towards the kitchen table, his eye caught something on the top shelf; unfinished robot parts. He tried to look away, but for some reason, he could not. All he did, was just stare at it, feeling passionate or even enlightenment as he did so.
It was a nice, quiet morning. The small cracks of sunrise began to slip into Umatarou's room. Naturally, he did not notice. For now, he was looking at himself in the mirror, trying to adjust his shirt collar correctly. It had taken four years, but he was finally beginning to dress a bit more professionally. In addition to the white collared shirt he wore, he was also sporting a brown buttoned vest over top of his shirt, with a nice pair of black pants to match. His hair had grown out a bit, though not enough for anyone to really see the difference, though he had grown out a visibly small black beard by this time.
After grooming himself in the mirror, he turned to face his bed. Though something caught his attention from the corner of his eye; it was a shelf of small robots. Each one looked bright, shiny, and positively new. Of course, he knew that just simply was not true; despite their perfection he had been working on those projects over these past few years. Of course, Umatarou just took in a regretful sigh as he put one final book on Robotics in his suitcase.
"Well, you look handsome", said a voice which startled the young man.
Turning around, Umatarou saw that it was only his mother. After four years, her hair had grown even more thick with grey, though her smile remained ever so warm and bright.
"Oh, hello mother", Umatarou nervously stuttered as his mother walked over to him.
'Hello darling...Well, look, you're all done packing. I'll just carry this bag downstairs for you", she replied as he watched her begin to lift the heavy suitcase.
"That won't be necessary", he nervously replied as he took the suitcase away from her. " Oh, that reminds me, has Mr. Peters dropped by today, yet?"
"We've been through this Umatarou; that cub scout is a man of his word, he'll be here soon", the elderly woman explained to him.
"Oh, right...sorry...", the young man slowly replied as his gaze returned to look at the other suitcase sitting atop his bed.
"Honey, why the gloomy face? You tried , didn't you", he heard his mother ask him as his gaze remained on his suitcase for awhile.
"I know...I just wonder if I'm making the right decision...", he explained to his mother, he even turned just in time to see her concerned look turn into a smile.
"Well, I'm proud of you...even if this isn't what your father wanted", she said to him, causing him to return the favour with a warm smile of his own.
"I know...It's what I wanted...", he said to his mother as they embraced into a loving hug.
The time was currently 3:30 in the afternoon, and already was Umatarou heading back to his dorm room with a book held firmly in front of his face. Today was a lush, warm spring day in May. Very much unlike the cold, cloudy day he left the countryside for the city. Everything around him was in full bloom; the trees, the flowers, even the weeds. But this went unnoticed to him, he simply continued on reading his textbook as if nothing else existed.
"Guess who", said an innocent sounding voice which startled him back into reality.
As Umatarou turned around, he came face to face with a familiar looking acquaintance; his neurology seatmate, Hoshie Yuriko. She was only two years younger than him, and yet, she looked as if she could easily pass for a model. Her fair skinned body was covered in a sleeveless pink dress with white trimming, and a beaded white
sat nicely on her neck. Though her face was generally free of make-up, her lips were as bright as a red cherry, and her wide blue eyes sparkled with optimism. And just as noticeable was her long brown hair, which she had curled into two rolls on each side of her head. She gave him a little smile as she waved hello to him,causing his expression to soften a bit.
"Oh...Hello Hoshie...", Umatarou replied, unsure of what else to say, he nearly returned to his reading before she spoke up again.
"Wait, did I startle you? Oh, I'm so sorry", she explained. "I had wanted to ask you something after class, and I was so caught up in the moment, I didn't realize-Are you going over that chapter from class", she asked him.
"Yes", he replied as he went back to reading and walking simultaneously, completely aware that she was following right beside him.
"Don't you think it's a bit too early to be going over review? I mean, you have all of next week, and the weekend", he heard her suggest.
"Not necessarily; you see, I want to have this memorized for future reference", he explained to her.
"Well, yeah, but it's Friday", she replied.
"It is Friday, isn't it? I could probably use tonight to catch up on some studying, or even work on one or more of my projects", the young man said with a sense of pride in his tone.
"Well, it sounds to me like you could use a breather", she told him as he began to watch her from the corner of his eye. "In fact, why don't I take you out for a drink tonight? It'll be my treat."
"No, thanks", he bluntly replied.
"Alright then...Oh, I know, we can go out for ice cream! I know this great great little place down by the campus", she cheerfully told him. "Of course, it is a little bit pricey, but I think we can manage. The store owner's actually pretty nice. Oh, and they have just the cutest-"
"I'm sorry Hoshie...I would take up your offer, but my work is far too important to partake in any leisurely activities", the young man explained to her rather bluntly.
"Well, could you at least say that to my face", she told him, making him stop to turn and face her.
"What", he asked, surprised to see her looking somewhat disappointed.
"Well, you never look at me when I talk to you, or anyone for that matter. If you're going to turn someone down, do it properly", she sternly explained to him, though he was just stunned by how assertive she was being.
"Oh, well...I guess you're right...I suppose I just...never thought of it that way..., he said as he rushed to to find the correct words to say to her. He was caught off guard though once he saw her giggling.
"Sorry Tarou-chan. I guess I was a bit too froward there, wasn't I", he heard her sweetly reply, though he could not help but let out an aggravated sigh as she brought up that dreaded nickname again.
"We've been through this Hoshie", he explained.
"Oh, but it's so cute", she sweetly replied.
"Exact;y", he replied.
"Oh, I see; is it too demeaning for a big,"strong" man like you", she asked in an almost mocking tone.
"I wouldn't exactly put it like that, but yes", he replied in a frustrated tone before turning away from her.
"Well then what should I call you", he heard her ask from behind him.
"What", he asked as he turned around to face her once more.
"Well, you don't like your real name, right", she asked rather sweetly as she gave him a smile.
Hearing that made Umatarou fall silent; he did not know what to say, or even do at a moment such as this. He just stood there, stiff as a rock. He could even feel the blush crawling up his cheeks the longer she smiled at him. Eventually, he gave out a gulp, and managed to clear his throat before speaking to her again.
"If you'll excuse me Hoshie, I'll just be heading back to my dorm for now...", the young man said in a slightly nervous tone.
With that said, he quickly turned the other way and began his way back towards his dorm room. Though as he did, he could not help but smile as he did so.
Right now, the only light source Umatarou had on in his room was his desk lamp. Though really, its dim light was really all he needed at this point. Placing his helmet plate over his goggles, the quiet man simply placed the electrode onto the two wires he intended to weld together as a soft, blue light engulfed the dimly lit room. Unfortunately, this was probably about the fourth or fifth time the electrode had given out on him. He was not happy about this, if his annoyed grimace was any indication. Suddenly, he heard a knock at the door.
"Come in", Umatarou said as he placed the electrode on the small charger right next to him.
"Well, you certainly look busy", asked a familiar voice that caught his attention.
Lifting the steel plate a goggles from his face, he turned to find himself surprised once he saw who his visitor was. It was Hoshie; holding a plastic cup in each hand, with her usual smile on her face.
"Hoshie...", he said as his brown eyes widened in surprise. She just tilted her head off to the side.
"Is something wrong", she asked him. He stared at her for a brief second, before he shook his head back into reality.
"What?...Oh, nothing", the usually quiet man replied while scratching the back of his neck with his bare fingers. "It's just that you've been absent from class for a few days now."
"Oh...that...", she began as he noticed her gaze drift away from his, he even noticed that her smile was gone.
"It's nothing, my mother's been in town these last few days...", she explained as he gave a smirk towards her remark.
"She sounds pleasant", he replied as she laughed a little at his response.
"Oh she is...when she's not talking about how I should settle down", the young woman explained rather bluntly as he laughed at her response. He even saw her smile return to her face.
"Well, anyway, I figured you might want some coffee", she explained to him as she walked over and held out the plastic cup to his astonished face.
"Oh, thank you", was all he could say as he took the hot cup from her hand and into his own.
Watching her take a seat on his neatly made bunk bed, he looked at her for a bit before taking his gaze off of her. For awhile,he just sat there silently. He was not sure what to talk about really. Instead, He just stared down at the cup of freshly brewed coffee, watching the nearly invisible stream of steam rising from the rim of the cup.
"So, tonight's the big frat party over at the Omega house", he heard her say as he brought himself back up to meet her face once again.
"Oh, Yes...I heard about that", the usually quiet man replied.
"Do you plan on going", she asked him.
"No; I don't care much for partying", he explained.
"Really", she asked somewhat enthusiastically. "Why do you think that is?"
"Wild parties are too loud, too claustrophobic, they are un-tameable", he bluntly explained. "Here, I feel in control of the robots I create."
She just chuckled at his response.
"You know, I just think you like robots more than you like people", she remarked.
"Well, that is part of it, but-No, wait! That's nonsense", he rushed to say.
But it was too late, for she was already giggling at his reaction. With a nervous chuckle, Umatarou just returned his gaze to the the warm cup of coffee he was holding. Though for some reason, he could not help but smile as he listened to her giggle.
Umatarou felt dazed as he woke up, his eyelids felt rather heavy as they began to open, his arm even felt heavy as he began to rub his eyelids with his fingers. He blinked his eyes for a bit before he began focusing on his surroundings; the light was dim, and in front of him was an unfinished robot. There was doubt about it in his mind, he was sitting at his desk.
At first, he just stared at his surroundings in a daze. Though as he felt his mind come more into focus, he could not help but chuckle a bit at his situation; it had probably been the fifth time this had happened to him in a few weeks. Looking over at the clock, he saw that it was one in the morning. At this point, he felt he was better off getting a good night's rest as he got up from his seat.
Once he turned around however, his eyes widened once he saw what was lying on his bed; it was Hoshie, lying fast asleep on the bottom bunk bed. He could see that her feet were bare, though thankfully she was fully clothed, even though her pink dress was being wrinkled by the curled up position in which she slept in. Honestly, she looked very peaceful to him. Unfortunately though, that was not enough to calm his suspicions, or even his own anxiety for that matter. After snapping himself out of his shocked state, he slowly moved towards the bed. Kneeling down, he grasped her shoulder with his hand.
"Hoshie...", he asked as he lightly shook her. She just merely dug her face into her hands a bit more, annoying him.
"Hoshie", he asked a bit louder, shaking her a bit harder than he did the first time. This time, he actually got a response as her eyelids began to open. She blinked them a little bit before spotting him.
"Oh, hello Tarou-chan...You're up already", the sweet woman said as she rubbed her eyes, he just raised his eyebrow in confusion at this remark.
"Already", he asked as she sat herself up and gave him a quick nod. Though right before his eyes, she began to panic.
"Oh, that's right! Your fever", she said as she put her hand to his forehead. Umatarou startled back a bit as her hand touched him, though his stern composure returned soon after.
After awhile, her face formed into her usual smile.
"Oh, well look that; normal temperature. I guess you've just been cooked up in this room-", she said before falling silent as he took hold of her wrist.
She remained silent, even as he took her hand off of his forehead.
"Hoshie, why are you here", he asked her rather bluntly.
"Oh, well; my friends were busy tonight, so I decided to see if you were up to anything", she began to explain. "Though by the time I got here, you were already fast asleep. You looked so cute though; sleeping at your desk,
without a care in the world. Well, until I felt your forehead that is. I decided I'd stay here until you woke up, just to see how you were."
"In hindsight though, I probably should have just left. I mean, I'm not exactly the neatest sleeper. Sometimes I've woken up with drool on my pillow", she continually rambled on.
He did not do anything though, he just listened to her, chuckling at her innocent ramblings. Of course it did not take him long to notice that she had stopped talking, and now had her head titled in his direction.
"You needn't concern yourself with that Hoshie", he explained almost confidently.
"Wait, you mean that's happened to you before", she asked as his smirk remained on his long face.
"Oh, you'd be surprised. In fact, it's probably the fifth time I've found myself asleep at my desk", he remarked rather confidently. That is, until he saw her giggling at him.
"Oh, I see. Is that why you're such a grumpy-pants in the morning", she said in an almost mocking tone, one which annoyed him greatly.
Somehow, he managed to control his anger, though that did not stop him from letting out a frustrated sigh.
"I wish you wouldn't harp on that", he explained as his gaze shifted away from her for a second.
"Well, what would be the fun in that silly", she asked him rather sweetly as she began to pat his head, he just cringed in further annoyance as she did this.
By now, his gaze had shifted back towards her and the big smile she wore on her face. Seeing that seemed to make his annoyance disappear. He even chuckled a bit, before returning it with his own smile. They remained silent for a little while, until Hoshie finally opened her mouth to speak again.
"Well...I should probably get going", she remarked as she began to get up from her spot on the bed. Umatarou did not flinch however, even as he watched her. Instead, he merely grabbed her wrist.
"What's wrong" she asked as she sat herself back down on the bed.
"It's one in the morning", he calmly explained.
"So" she asked.
"Your dorm room is halfway across campus", the usually quiet man further explained to her.
"Oh, you don't need to worry about that; I can take full care of myself", she replied.
Normally, he would have chuckled at that remark. Instead, he just stared at her with a stern grimace on his face.
"That's not what concerns me", he calmly explained.
"But that's how it sounds though", she said as her more devious tone caught him off guard.
"That's not-", Umatarou began to shout before he stopped himself.
With a small sigh, he looked to face her in the eye again, even though he felt cheeks were beginning to grow hot with blush.
"What I mean is that you're-"
"I'm what", she asked.
"You're...", he tried to explain.
For what was probably the first time in his life, he could not find the right words to say to someone. If anything, he felt his stomach begin to tighten the more she looked at him. There was no denying it, he was now backed into a corner. Realizing that, he he let out a deep sigh before facing her again.
"Please try and understand Hoshie...It's just that I...I've just grown so fond of your company-"
Was all he could say before he felt her lips graze his own. Naturally, he was surprised by this happening so suddenly. Eventually though, he could not help but be taken in by how sweet it felt, how tender her lips felt against his as he closed his eyes and kissed back. For him, it felt like it would last an eternity. But eventually, they both had no choice but to come up for air. By now, he felt more dazed than shocked. Looking at Hoshie though, she looked much more satisfied as she flashed a small smile his way.
"You don't have to say anything...", she said to him.
Umatarou's eyes actually widened as he heard her say that, but eventually, his shock faded as a visible smirk formed on his face.
"Really", he asked a little bit more playfully.
"Of course silly-"
Was all he heard her say before he planted another kiss on her soft lips. At first, he did not feel her lips return his kiss. Eventually though, he could feel her kissing him back. After a short while, they came up for air, unable to keep themselves from smiling sweetly at one another.
Today was a clear, warm spring day, and probably the warmest one Umatarou had felt since he had moved into the city almost six years ago. In all that time, he had changed a fair bit in appearance. He still dressed very formally for his age, though he had grown out his hair and beard quite a bit in all that time, he even had started wearing ascots. He knew that not much had changed about him internally, but he could feel that something was different. He actually felt like smiling more often, he actually enjoyed taking in a whiff of fresh air, or just feeling the warmth of the sun on his face as he was doing so now.
Suddenly, he heard a relieved sigh from beside him. He turned to face his new wife of only one year; Hoshie. Nowadays, she wore her hair a bit shorter. She even really liked wearing yellow dresses with pink scarfs, like the kind she was wearing now. Though one thing had not really changed about her appearance, that warm smile she had on her face, the same smile that Umatarou could not help but smile warmly at.
As he stared at her, he noticed her observing him from the corner of her eyes.
"You look happy", Hoshie said as she turned to face him.
"Of course; it's been so long since we've been out for a stroll like this", he explained as he felt the warmth of the sun on his face.
"I know, with you being busy and all", she replied as he gave her a suspicious look.
"You're busy too, as I recall", he remarked.
"Yes, but being a Nurse Practitioner can be SO confining", she explained. "At least you get to go the Ministry."
"Being in an office is just as confining", he explained.
"Well at least you have more legroom...too much legroom if you ask me", she replied as he stared at her, completely baffled.
"What", he asked.
"You know what I mean", she said as she gave him a very stone faced look. By now, he had been so baffled by
this, he actually let out a sigh of disbelief.
"Hoshie, I'm Head of Robotics Development; late work days are inevitable", he explained.
"Oh sure, that's what you said when you cam home at nine o'clock", she replied.
"That was one time!", he replied.
"Yes, but it felt like an eternity", she replied as she swooped her hand to her forehead dramatically. He just let out an aggravated sigh.
"You simply have no patience", he remarked as he turned to face her again.
"Neither do you", she replied as she stopped to face him sheepishly.
He tried to search for an answer, but after a moment or so of silence, he just merely gave up as he let out a defeated sigh. He knew there was no way to argue such a thought. She merely giggled at his defeat.
"Still", she began as he felt her grabbed onto his arm, she even looked directly into his eyes. "A Robotics engineer...it's what you've always wanted", she replied.
Hearing that, he could not help but smile again.
"I know...", he remarked as she gave him a smile.
Suddenly, Umatarou heard a high pitched laughter. Both he, and Hoshie turned around to see a small little playground close to where they were. From where he was standing, he could see a group of little girls joining hands. They began to sing as they ran around in one, big circle. All it took though, was one little girl tripping over her shoelace to disrupt the circle, before the whole group went down with the girl. No one was seriously hurt; there were a few fingers from some girls in the group, looking for someone to blame. Though that was the nice part of being a kid; they forget who did what a few minutes later. And sure enough, they did. Immediately, they returned to running around in a circle. Seeing all of this, he could not help but let out a chuckle.
"Oh, they're so cute", he heard Hoshie say as he turned to see her smiling face.
"Do you think our baby boy will be like that", she asked as she turned to face him.
"I'm sure it will be", he proclaimed, hearing his wife's disappointed moan as they continued their stroll.
"I wish you wouldn't call him...or her that", he heard her say as he turned to see the pouty look on her face.
"Well we don't know the sex of the baby", he explained.
"You're the one who doesn't want to know", she replied. Hearing her annoyed tone though, just made a smirk graze his face.
"Now, where's the fun in knowing", he proclaimed with a sense of pride in his voice.
"For you maybe", he heard her reply as he turned to face her still pouty looking face again.
"You are free to know, if that's what you want', he explained as she let out a sigh.
"No, that wouldn't be fair", she explained. "Besides, I'm still stumped for boys names".
"And yet, you already have Tabitha picked out if it's a girl", he reminded her.
"Hey, YOU try coming up with boy names; it's not easy", he heard her say as he turned to chuckle at her annoyed expression; he just loved how frustrated she seemed over such a small matter.
"Your offer is tempting. But how about you tell me your picks before we even consider mine", he told her.
"Oh, uh...okay", she said before regaining her composure. "Well, I was thinking about Herman."
"Absolutely not", he immediately replied.
"Okay then, Herman's out...How about...Haruka", she asked.
"Too common", he replied.
"Yuki", she asked.
"FAR too common", he replied.
"Okay then...I know! What if we name the baby after you", she asked. Immediately, he turned to her with an overpowering look of anger in his eyes. The type that left her befuddled, and speechless.
"Okay then...", she slowly replied as he saw her pondering again. She looked stumped for another name for awhile. Until...
"Oh, I know", she delightfully declared after a long silence. "What about Tobio?"
"Tobio", he asked as they came to a stop.
"Yes. Do you like it", he heard her ask him as he though about it. Tobio; that name just rolled right off the tongue. For him, just hearing that name made him smile; it was perfect.
"Yes, I like that very much", he told his excited looking wife.
"Then it's settled; Tobio, it is",, she excitedly proclaimed.
Suddenly, Hoshie yelped as she tripped on an uneven stone block, and began to fall. Quickly, Umatarou bent down to grab her by the torso, using both of his arms to catch her in time. Once he felt the moment, pass, the young man turned to face his somewhat surprised spouse.
"Are you alright", he asked. At first, she gave him the "deer in the headlights" look before shaking it off.
"Oh, I'm fine", she replied as he let out a sigh.
"This is precisely why I told you not to wear sandles today", the young man explained in a frustrated manner as he helped her up.
"Who knows what could have happened", he continued before stopping to notice her smiling at him. "Why are you smiling?"
"You were concerned about the baby, weren't you", she asked him as his cheeks flushed a very light shade of pink.
"Well, I...It's just that...You were-"
"You know what", he heard her say. "You'll make a wonderful father someday."
Umatarou was shocked to hear that; he had never really considered if he was ready for parenthood. In fact, when Hoshie had announced her pregnancy, he nearly collapsed from the shock. It was something he had never really considered until now. Hearing that though, he could not help but smile. Perhaps being a parent would not be so difficult after all.
"You're working late again", Hoshie asked.
"I know it's short notice Hoshie, but we're close to a new breakthrough, and I need to oversee its development", Umatarou tried to explain as he packed his work suitcase on the kitchen table.
His wardrobe was about the same; long pants, a white dress shirt covered by a fancier vest, with a long ascot around his neck to complete the look. But now, he was beginning to wear long coats as well. This time, he was wearing a long, purple coat with gold trimming.
"But you promised Tobio you'd come home early to play with him", she reminded him.
"I'm sure he will understand", he replied as he closed his suitcase shut.
"That's your excuse for everything, isn't it", he heard her ask him. Surprised by that question, he turned to face her.
She looked about the same herself. Yet even though her bangs now framed her youthful face, and she tended to wear blue more these days, he knew what had not changed; that expressive face of hers. And right now, she looked awfully disappointed with him.
"What", he asked her.
"Think about it Tarou-chan; when was the last time you came home for dinner? When was the last time you even saw your son for more than a few seconds", she asked him.
Even though he was listening to her, he could not help but raise his eyebrow in confusion.
"I see you and Tobio", he said.
"Oh sure; I guess five minutes everyday is a lifetime for you", she replied.
Hearing this just made him angry. Thankfully, he managed to just take a deep sigh and speak again.
"I'm head of the Ministry of Science Hoshie; you knew from the start that late hours were inevitable", he explained, even as he saw his wife's expression remained about the same.
"So you can't learn to simply compromise? Oh, but why would you? You seem so happy there, you might as well make the Ministry your home", she replied, hearing that just made him feel even more confused.
"Don't be ridiculous!", he replied. "This is more than just a job for me, Hoshie. I work hard to provide for both of you-"
"No, you don't! If you did, you'd spend more time with us! You'd actually find ways to work around your busy schedule, instead of making time for yourself", she said.
Hearing that though, just made him even angrier.
"So then what exactly should I do?...Should I just quit, just so I can feel unsatisfied?...Is that what you want", he asked as his voice became louder.
She said nothing. Instead, she just stared at him with that unwavering expression even as he felt his anger grow the more he looked at that expression.
"Is that what you want!"
Suddenly, he heard a whimper. Immediately, he turned around to see who it was. He felt his anger melt away once he saw who was standing near the door; it was his son, Tobio. He was only around four year old, but from where Umatarou stood, the little boy looked more surprised than frightened. Before he could say anything to
him, the little boy left without saying a word, leaving him a bit dazed.
"Umatarou...", he heard his wife call his name, his full name. She almost never called him that. Suspicious, he turned around to find something shocking; she was crying. "Do you even love me anymore?..."
"Wh...What are you talking about", he asked as he rested his hands on her shoulders. "I love you, and Tobio very
"Then maybe you should learn to include us more in your life!", she shouted as her words surprised him.
She looked as if she had more to say, but she said nothing. Eventually, she began to leave. He did not say anything as she left the room, he did not even attempt to stop her. He just stood there, staring down at the kitchen floor tiles as her words kept repeating themselves in his head.
"Hoshie...", he finally muttered as his head turned to face the kitchen door. She was already gone.
There was nothing he could say as he sat at the bedside. Instead, he just sat in his chair quietly, looking contemplative as he watched over his wife's current condition. A few days ago, she had been bright and cheery as always, with that big smile he had come to love plastered on her face. Now she looked pale, almost lifeless to him as she took in one laboured breath after another.
According to her doctor, she was slowly loosing her battle with cancer. Cancer she had, apparently, been diagnosed with months ago. It was all Umatarou could focus on right now; it was the first he had ever heard of it. Only a few hours ago, when she had collapsed at the grocery store had he been informed. Why was he learning this just now?
"You're going to be okay...right mom...", he heard a little voice ask, it was Tobio.
"Oh, of course sweetie", she told him. Hearing her even say that, it just made Umatarou cringe with disgust.
"Are you sure?...Because, Mimi's mom...she collapsed too...and...Mimi said she never woke up again...", he heard his son say.
Yet the next thing he heard were not words, but whimpers. As he looked up, he saw Tobio, buried in his mother's chest. His mother was gently stroking his back in an attempt to calm him down, though it did seem to make a difference what she did, he was still shaking rather violently. Seeing this, he felt his heart break.
"Come here Tobio...", he calmly said as he scooped up the little boy into his arm.
Now, he could feel the boys hot tears dripping onto his coat. He did not care though, he just continued to gently rub his back until he stopped wailing and began to calm down. Umatarou felt calm as he continued to stroke his child's back. In fact, he became so occupied by this, he had not even noticed that his son was breathing heavily, having drifted off into dreamland. Once he did notice this, he placed the little boy on a seat near the door, and draped his heavy long coat over him. Seeing his little sleeping face, he could not help but smile for a bit.
"Is he alright", he heard Hoshie ask him. As he turned to face her, he found something surprising; she was smiling. He just stared at her with animosity in his eyes.
"What", she asked. He said nothing, he just walked back to his chair and took a seat. He sat there silently, watching the confused look on her face before she spoke up again. "If it's something I-"
"Hoshie", he began. "Why did you never tell me?"
She looked genuinely surprised to him as he made that comment. He watched as she thought about it for a moment, and then gave him a smile.
"Well, to be honest...I was planning on telling you...But you just looked so happy, I just didn't want to worry you", she told him.
Upon hearing this, he went into complete shock. For awhile, he just sat there, staring at his concerned looking wife. "It's not possible...is it",was the first thought to enter his head. Though the more he looked at her pale body, he could not help but whimper. Eventually, he allowed his head to collapse on the bed. He began to shake violently as he allowed fresh, hot tears to escape his brown eyes.
"Hoshie...Hoshie, I'm so sorry...", he said, managing to make it sound intelligible.
He could feel her weak hand on the back of his head,stroking it gently. Though it did not matter what she for him at this point, he knew there was nothing he could possibly do for her now.
As he entered is office, Umatarou allowed a small yawn to escape his mouth. It had been a hard, long day of work for him, and he could begin to feel it take its toll on him. As he sat down, he could feel his head beginning to tense up. He groaned for a bit, before resting his face in his hand.
"Well,you certainly look tired, Tenma",he heard a familiar,chipper voice say. He then seated himself straight and upright, as he bluntly stared at his visitor; it was his older colleague, Doctor O'Shay.
"Oh, Hello O'Shay",Umatarou bluntly remarked towards his cheerful looking colleague."What brings you here?"
"I just wanted to check up on you", the elderly Professor replied.
"You check up on me everyday", he bluntly reminded him.
"Uh...We...Well,I know that", he began. "I'm just curious, that's all", he said with a smile. Umatarou however, just stared at him bluntly.
"Oh, that reminds me; how has Tobio been", he asked.
"It's only been a month O'Shay", he bluntly replied as he unscrewed the lid off of an Advil bottle.
"I know...But, people do grieve in different ways", he heard his colleague say as he took both capsules at once.
"Yes...I suppose they do...", he bluntly remarked as he took a sip of water. Shortly after, he got up from his chair and began to make his way towards his coat hanger.
"Are you heading home early again",O'Shay asked with a hint of concern in his voice.
"I may as well; we've finished early for the day, and there's not much else I can think to improve on", he explained as he adjusted his white lab coat.
"Besides, I think I'd like to have a night to myself for once", he further explained as he slipped into his brown trench coat. After adjusting it onto his lanky body, he began to head back towards his desk for his suitcase.
"Wait, Tenma. I'd like to ask you something", he replied. Though Umatarou let out a small sigh as he turned to face his colleague.
"What is it O'Shay", he asked.
"Well, I was wondering...Would you like to come over to my place for dinner sometime? You can bring Tobio with you, if you'd like", he asked. Umatarou raised an eyebrow to this.
"What for", he asked.
"I just think it would be nice for you to have some company. What do you say", he asked as he held out a hand to his colleague.
He saw the hand reaching out for his, he saw the big smile his colleague had on his face. Yet all Umatarou could do was stare at him bluntly for awhile.
"I'll have to think about it",he finally replied.
"Oh...uh...okay, then", the elderly man replied.
"Doctor", said a stern feminine voice that was right behind them. As they turned around, they came face to face with O'Shay's young secretary; Yuko Kisagari.
"Oh, hello Yuko", O'Shay said.
"Hello Doctor; you have an important caller waiting for you on line two", she sternly reminded him, even as he moaned with grievance at this announcement.
"Alright, I'm coming Yuko", he promised. Though not before turning around to face his colleague once more.
"Think about my offer Tenma, I'll get back to you soon", O'Shay kindly remarked.
"Let's get going", the young woman said as she took him by the arm,and proceed to drag him out of the room.
Umatarou did nothing, he just watched his colleague being dragged out of his office. Once he was gone, he took in a deep breath as he turned around to get his briefcase.
Umatarou seemed to get his wish that night; he was sitting in his comfy, family room armchair, adjusting a tiny hinge on a small robot with a screw driver. The hour was ten o'clock, the room was bathed in a dimly lit lamp, and the house had been almost silent since Tobio had gone to bed over an hour ago. Surely, it should have been the quiet evening he had been expecting.
Instead, he let out a sigh as he stared blankly at the robot. He could feel his interest in it decreasing as he put it down, before setting it aside on the table beside his chair. He rubbed his eyes for a bit, until they saw the chair beside him; her chair. He just stared at sombrely for awhile.
"Dad", asked a small voice that caught his attention.
Turning his gaze back to the rooms entrance, he saw Tobio. He looked timid in his little sheep pyjamas as he cowered behind the room's entrance.
"Tobio...What are you doing up so late", he asked as the little boy walked towards him.
"I couldn't sleep...And...well...I was wondering if I could stay with you for awhile...", the little boy asked his astonished looking father.
Of course, he knew his answer was a firm no from the start. Yet seeing those big, sad looking eyes of his, it made him silent for a moment as they remained on him. Eventually, the young man let out a small, yet not so disappointed sounding sigh.
"Alright, but just for tonight", he gently replied as he picked the child up and sat him in his lap.
"Was there any particular reason you couldn't sleep", Umatarou asked as he began to gently stroke his son's back.
"Not really", the little boy quietly told him. A smile even began to graze Umatarou's face as he continued to comfort his 's face however, remained about the same for awhile.
That is, until he finally spoke up again.
"Dad...", he began, getting his father's attention. "Do you think mom is up in heaven?"
Umatarou was silent after hearing that, if anything, he looked astonished. He felt uncertain if he could even answer that question. And yet, those big, brown eyes kept staring at him with such impatience. Eventually, he took in a deep breath before locking eyes with his son's.
"I don't know Tobio", he calmly explained as he watched his sons's eyes grow with disappointment.
"What? But, I thought you knew everything", the little boy disappointingly replied, he chuckled at this.
"I'm afraid you'll have to get used to that, my son", the young man somewhat confidently replied as he turned his son around to face him.
And yet, he still looked unhappy. At first, Umatarou was surprised by this. Eventually though, he just gave his son a smile as he began to gently pat his head.
"Listen Tobio...No one really knows what happens to humans when they die...But I'm sure that wherever your mother is, she is happy", he explained.
"Are you sure", he was asked by the boy.
"Yes, I'm certain of that", he replied in an assured manner.
"Because mom...Mom wasn't a bad person...", was all the little boy could say before he buried his face into Umatarou's vest.
He began to shake violently, his wails were muffled, yet there was no question as to what they were. In fact, he began to wail so much,you would swear he was a child lost in a department store.
Umatarou could feel his heart break as he watched his son, his little sobs were enough to make him tense up. Eventually, he embraced the little boy into a tight hug. The tears however, did not cease, yet it did not matter to him. He just stroked the boy's back once again, knowing he would calm down eventually.
"You're truly all I have left, aren't you?...My little Tobio...", he thought to himself as his sons wails continued to reach his ears.
Umatarou walked through the door of his household, allowing a sliver of sunlight to enter into the unusually confining house. A confident smile sat upon his long face, though for the life of him, he did not know why. Well, whatever the reason, he knew he felt good to be home so early.
Out of habit, he wiped his brown shoes on the welcome mat before slipping out them. He then took his coat off and hung it on the coat rack, before making his way into the family room.
Once he walked into the room, he saw Tobio. By now, the little nine-year-old boy had grown to be at least 2.5 inches tall. He wore his usual blue shirt with an orange stripe down the centre, and white trimming around the sleeves and collar. The orange shorts he wore actually went well with his shirt, and his little red booted feet swung back and forth in the air from where he sat on the floor.
His hair was about the same; short, light auburn, with two small spikes sticking out on either side of his head. But his eyes shawn with such life, and optimism as his attention remained focused on the air bike he was drawing. Seeing this, made Umatarou smile.
"Tobio", he said, catching the little boy's attention.
"Come over here", he said as he held out his arms to the boy, whose smile grew two sizes too big for his little face.
"Dad! You came home early today", Tobio cheerfully remarked as he ran towards the tall, lanky man. There was even a little bit of excited laughter from the boy as Umatarou scooped him up into his arms.
"Oh Tobio", he said as he smiled at the delighted looking boy. "Do you know that you're the only thing I care about in this world", he asked as he placed the boy back on his feet.
"In this world", the little boy asked him. Umatarou then got down on one knee, allowing him to look his son directly in the eye.
"Yes. The way my colleagues feel about robots compared to me, it just makes me sick to even be near them", he explained with his gaze turned away from the boy.
"So, you like robots better than people", he heard his son ask him.
"Yes", he replied as he turned back to face him.
"Than between me and robots, which one do you like better", Tobio asked.
Umatarou however, looked astonished as he asked that question.
"Well, that's...", he began as those cheerful eyes remained on him.
From where he sat, Shadow's yellow eyes flickered on and off in the tiny cockpit. His spaceship may have been massive in scale, but its cockpit left a lot to be desired,being so cramped. So cramped in fact, the only visible light source came from a small monitor in the centre of the control panel his attention was focused on.
"So, you like robots better than people?"
"Than between me and robots, which one do you like better?"
"Interesting...", Shadow said rather coldly as his yellow eyes continued to flicker on and off.
You're always like this father...Do you even really love me?
Father, I'm a robot too...
Do you even love me?
Nora is my friend!
You don't love me at all...
I hate you!
You don't love me...
You destroy other robots like they're nothing!
You don't love me!
You don't love me!
YOU DON'T LOVE ME!
With that last sentence, Tenma woke up in a panic. He could feel the beads of sweat rolling down his forehead as he panted heavily, attempting to catch his breath. Slowly, he began to check his surroundings. He found himself sitting in his lab chair, in front of his work desk. Seeing this though, he merely let out a sigh as he rested his forehead in his fingers. His hand felt cool against his forehead, but his expression was more one of regret.
"You look troubled", replied a voice which startled Tenma. As he turned his head towards the entrance, he instantly recognized who his visitor was.
It was Shadow. For now, his black and white mask covered his robotic head. His robotic body was even covered by his red cape.
"Shadow...What are you doing here so late at night",Tenma suspiciously asked his creation.
"I've come to ask you something", the robot replied in his usual cold tone.
"Ask me something", Tenma suspiciously asked as he eyed his creation, watching as he walked over towards him, before standing right beside him.
"Yes; Why must Astro be King of all Robots", he asked. Tenma just raised an eyebrow to this.
"Shadow, why would you be so curious to know that", he asked, swerving his chair to face the equal whose back was turned to him.
"You've never given a reason", he replied as he turned his robotic head towards his creator.
Tenma just smirked at this comment. He then crossed his legs as he turned away from Shadow, lacing his hands together as they sat perfectly in his lap.
"Astro was the first thinking-feeling robot ever created,and therefore, has the potential to become a champion of his species. Even if another robot with Kokoro were to threaten his existence, his power to evolve, a power even I underestimated so long ago, is miraculous", he explained.
"Besides, it only makes sense that something I created would be fit to become robot's secular messiah", he finished with a touch of arrogance.
Shadow just stood there silently, taking all of this in.
"I see...", Shadow began as he stared at his confident looking creator. "And when all is said and done, you will have finally found your place in this world."
"What", Tenma asked he swerved his chair around to face his creation once more.
"You have always been a lonely man Tenma, it only makes sense that you would seek companionship, unconsciously or otherwise", his creation explained to him, hearing this just made him grit his teeth.
"Are you saying I'm only doing this to make myself feel better", he asked as he raised his voice towards his equal.
"That is not a fact, it is merely an observation", Shadow explained.
Tenma stared him rather intently for another moment, before shrugging it off.
"Oh well, it makes no difference", he calmly replied as he turned to face his desk once again. "All that matters is that we guide Astro towards his future."
"Can you be certain of that", his creation asked him.
"Of course", he confidently replied as a confident smirk formed on his face.
"Can you", he heard Shadow ask him as he turned to face him once more. "That cheerful colleague of yours has had a much greater impact on him than I think even you want to admit."
Tenma just stared at him in astonishment for awhile. Eventually though, he was able to shrug it off.
"I'm his father...Eventually, he will have no choice but to come back to me", he stated rather confidently.
"Your hesitant look seems to indicate otherwise", Shadow discreetly observed. Hearing this though, just made Tenma grit his own teeth once again.
"Do not doubt me Shadow! He will come back to me!" he angrily replied.
The room became silent after his outburst, though he just turned himself away to face his desk once more. Shadow did nothing, he just let out a small sigh.
"Perhaps it is better that Hoshie is gone...She would hate to see the man you've become...", Shadow coldly remarked as he walked back towards the entrance.
Tenma's brown eyes widened upon hearing this.
"That's funny...", he suspiciously remarked as he turned to face his creation. "I don't recall mentioning my wife's name to you."
"Don't you mean your late wife? Or do just prefer to not think of her status", he asked in an almost mocking tone, turning to see his creator's reaction as he did so.
This time, Tenma could actually feel himself crushing the soft arm insoles of his chair, before finally standing to face his creation.
"Shadow, I thought I made it clear to you after last time!", he began. "You are not to go looking through my memories if you have nothing better to do! Is that clear!"
"But you gave me these memories", he reminded his creator. " So aren't they technically mine as well? "
Tenma just stood there for awhile, astonished until he found he could not give his creation a certifiable counterpoint on his behave.
"I'll take that as a yes", Shadow coldly replied as he turned back towards the entrance.
"He will come back to me Shadow", Tenma calmly stated as he watched his creation stop himself from walking.
"Can you really say that with confidence", he asked his creator as he looked back to see his confident smirk.
"Of course", he replied. "Once I show him the errors our foolish society has made, I have no doubt that he will join me in paradise."
Shadow just stood there silently, taking all of this in.
"Very well then. If that is what you believe", he said before leaving the room for good.
Tenma stood there in silence for awhile, an intent look settled on his face as he let Shadow's words sink in. Eventually, he shrugged it off as he walked towards his desk. His hand reached out for the upper rim of his chair,and pulled the chair out with a yawn. Yet as he went to sit down, something caught his eye. It was a lone picture frame in the corner of his desk. Its golden trim gave off a lovely reflection of the images it caught, though it was in desperate need of dusting.
He picked it up, and almost instantly,his eyes widened as he looked at what the frame contained. It was a picture of Tobio, playing piano with a big smile on his face. Seeing this, Tenma could not help but smile himself at the photo. The memory it held, it was just so clear in his mind.
A tiny gallon of sunlight bathed the Tenma family room in a smooth, gold light. All was peaceful, save for the sound of a piano. A piano which would start off beautifully, then stop ever so clumsily.
From where he sat on the wooden chair, Umatarou watched as his son sat across from him,trying desperately to play Chopin's Nocturne in C minor. With a nervous chuckle, Tobio went ahead and tried for a fourth time. Initially, his playing sounded flawless, as if either his father, or mother were playing the piece. Yet somewhere along the fourth or fifth bar, his hands no longer glided across the keyboard. Instead, they moved desperately, in an attempt torus to the finish line. Umatarou just sighed at this;immediately, he knew exactly what the problem was.
"You haven't been practising your scales, have you", he asked the little boy.
"Well, uh...Not exactly", Tobio replied, his eyes shifting away as he fiddled nervously with his hands. Tenma just let out another sigh towards this.
"I'm sorry dad...It's just that I haven't had any time to practice. And besides, you always say that studying comes first", the little boy explained. Hearing that made Umatarou smile.
"Yes, that is true", he remarked. "But you see Tobio, you also have to develop certain skill sets if you hope to ever accomplish anything in life."
"Yeah, but I don't think I'll ever pursue being a piano player ...Maybe a race car driver, like Speed Racer",he said as he began to hum buzzing sounds, pretending to drive a race car.
The lanky man could only chuckle at his son's enthusiasm.
"You're too young", he reminded the little boy.
"Ah, but dad-"
"My decision is final Tobio", he told his son in a stern manner.
Tobio pouted for a bit before turning away from his father. At first, Umatarou kept his gaze stern as he eyed his son. Eventually though, his gaze began to soften, he even placed his rough hand on his son's head as he began to gently pat his hair.
"Maybe someday, when you're older", he said as he watched Tobio's eyes light up.
"Okay", the little boy happily replied.
Now in his present day, Tenma could smile at that memory, he even chuckled a bit as he remembered his son's behaviour.
"Now I remember. I taught you to play the piano too, didn't I", he asked himself.
The image was so clear in his head; Astro was dressed in Tobio's clothing. He was sitting at the piano, playing almost flawlessly as he let out a sweet little laugh.
"My little Tobio...", he whispered quietly to himself, that loving smile of his grew even wider the deeper he sunk into that memory.
Disclaimer- This story is a non-profited fan creation based on my own theories and ideas regarding Tenma's psychology. I claim no ownership of any Astro Boy related stories or characters, save for Hoshie's portrayal and the story itself. Astro Boy is the property of Sony Pictures, and Tezuka Productions.
Twenty-six pages long...And on my PC no less...Well, it's official folks, I don't think I can keep my one-shots under ten pages anymore.
Anyways, this my first shot at an Astro Boy story. I recently got into the series through the 2003 series, and BOY howdy, do I enjoy the hell out of it. It has it problems (what series doesn't), but I think it really has no bearing on how good it actually is. It has an awesome story, great characters, and its themes are very interesting.
And since I'm a sucker for a sympathetic, yet deliciously evil villain, it should come as no shock to anyone that Dr. Tenma's my favourite character. However,as awesome as he is, there are still a few details we never really get related to his motivations, or things that are just left for speculation. And that's where this story came from really,
an attempt to blend my theories and ideas regarding his character in a manner that might explain how his life may have played out.
I hope you all enjoyed this story, and if you feel that you disagree with the theories or opinions presented in this story, please let me know and I'll be glad to debate.
Thank you. And as always, read, review, and enjoy!