"Suspects and Subjects"
Summary: Yugi Motou wants to make the discovery of the century. Mobster Atemu Sennen will let him do whatever he wants on premise. Their first project spirals out of control when culture, science and a creature called Yami coincide.
Theme Song: Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson
Warnings: dubious consent, graphic sex, descriptions of violence and experimentation
Author Note: well this is probably the closest I'll ever come to writing mpreg but there is no actual mpreg in this. This is…well I'll be interested to see what you all think! My little tester audience said it was like a train wreck they couldn't look away from…The second half of this will be out in a week or a fortnight!
Yugi had been expelled. Again. What was this, number three? He dug his fingers over the hollows of his eyes, foot bouncing. Early entry to the university system, scholarships, only worked so well when he found it increasingly difficult to maintain protocol. The labs didn't like it when you played with genetics. Idiots. They mapped the human genome for a reason. They'd been cross pollinating and genetically enhancing food stuffs for decades. What was so wrong with pushing a little stem cell research?
Next year he'd be old enough to try as an adult and he meant that legally not in the sweet 'make an effort' sense. He'd escaped with warnings, expulsions, fines and still, if he could've afforded it, Yugi would've set up his own laboratory. His first purchase would've been weapons' grade plutonium. Fucking United Nations tracked those purchases through.
He'd always been a little bit like this. History had been fun when he was a tiny tot genius but History was stagnant, artistic, it didn't have a future. Chemistry, biology, genetics were still waiting to be peeled open by a Newton. Growing organ donations, new bodies, curing brain injuries were so close. He felt some nights in fever dreams he could feel them at the tips of his fingertips just slipping away thanks to animal testing regulations and religious semi-political paranoias. Maybe he needed to move to North Korea.
Seventeen, so young but with so little time to make an impact Yugi was sure he could taste himself getting older. Mitosis and Meiosis slowing and starting as his hormones dialled back to enter adulthood. He could do something, something amazing, if you put him in the right fucking century.
That was why he hated waiting. He needed a textbook, a pen, something to plot with while he tried to trace chromosomes inside his head. Sunny day, sweet blue sky, pretty girls waiting for the bus was all nonsense. It happened every day while the discovery of the century did not. His foot tapped, it was a twitch of his he couldn't seem to stop when he was bored ,and dragging his fingers over his face was sure he looked like a racoon. His thumb nail on the opposing hand scratched at the plastic of his frappe.
Store bell chimed.
The first time Yugi saw Atemu Sennen he wasn't terribly impressed. Handsome, sure, devastating nearly like a nuclear explosion but the problem was those eyes. Atemu Sennen had killer's eyes, Yugi realized later, all a tangle of ambition and hubris with a clumsy dash of lightning to make the mix stick during the bake. Atemu Sennen had that bad boy, casino, swagger that was associated with Russian mobsters but Yugi knew crazy when he saw it and Atemu Sennen was break every rule in the book crazy.
Two years later Yugi was going to wish he'd never laid eyes on him.
"Yugi right?" He spread himself into the opposing seat by the café window.
"Yeah," Yugi was initially surprised that Atemu didn't like last names but he realized the man liked everything to be personal.
"Heard you got expelled."
"Yep," he shrugged. He needed work, there was no mistaking that, Grandpa Motou wasn't about to fund a NASA base but there wasn't much luck to be had in trying to hide the truth. Face it and fix it was the motto of survivalists.
"Good." Atemu snatched his drink lazily, peeling out the untouched straw he tipped it the lips. "Like caffeine?"
"I guess," Yugi mumbled into the palm of his hand dully. He'd never quite gotten his skill set up at socialising with people who were stupider than him.
"Good," the man repeated, "you're going to need it."
"I got expelled," he sighed, "the uni's not funding any grant work."
"The university would just get in the way," Atemu snorted. "I'm funding. You want a job?"
"Yeah," Yugi paused warily. "Do I have to prove I'm any good?"
"Read your files, heard all about the Harvard fiasco. You're a nifty little Frankenstein aren't you?" He grinned tightly. "Think that clinched it unless, of course, you've got some problem with a blatant disregard for ethics? In which case I'm not your man."
He lilted over the syllables, leant a little closer, razor sharp and tempting. Atemu Sennen just had to dangle the apple but it was low hanging fruit to begin with. Yugi felt his eyes open a little wider, interested snared, and like an animal peeked up from where his mouth rested into the palm of his hand.
"Sign me up Will Robinson."
"I didn't think you'd mind." He purred. "Don't care about wage or hours?"
"Not if you're going to let me do what I want."
"We're going to get on just fine."
The basic premise was simple or at least as simple as anything they did got in those days; the good old days, the golden sleepless days, the single days.
Atemu Sennen didn't do anything legal except paint his house once every few years. Terrorist ring really, espionage, something like it in any sense. Long hours, sex and guns were the three staples round him but Yugi still didn't care. Not even looking back. That part, that detail, was upstairs partitioned off from Yugi's part in Atemu's life. Their relationship, Yugi's part, was all downstairs in the subbasements of the expansive house in Sennen's little crime ring. That was Yugi's focus and his use.
Yugi would end up practically living in the laboratories before too long but he didn't at all struggle to remember the glorious pleasure that came wafting through him when Atemu presented the complex to him with the security key. The whole place was biologically sealed, quarantined, completely sanitary and outfitted with equipment illegal levels of good. Yugi fell under a wave when he stepped into that underground cavern. It was a rush as if he'd come home to his own personal burrow and he swore he never wanted to leave in the first few moments breathing pumped air-conditioned oxygen.
Anything Yugi needed he could get. Anything Yugi wanted to do he could. Minus, of course, the catch because Atemu Sennen never did anything out of the goodness of his heart and never for free. He was selling and buying between companies and governments. He was good at it. He liked money, power, tangible things that lasted as investments because people withered and were watery. Yugi agreed with him on that mostly. So there was a catch to Yugi's ill-begotten freedom.
"I don't care the hours you keep," Atemu plucked files from the cabinet drolly. "It's all salary pay. Let yourself in. Bonus pay comes when you finish the first job. There's a confidentiality waver you sign now."
Yugi needed it slapped on the table only for the seconds it took to twist it under Atemu's fingers and scrawl his signature in a bold sweeping gesture of the hand.
"Fine, what's the good stuff?"
They were hence co-conspirators from that second on.
Atemu smirked, that first devious smirk, and started opening, unfolding, the hand written files and printed spread sheets.
"I started it. I need someone to finish it." He drawled. "You build it. You can do whatever else you want while it's cooking."
"What are we baking?"
The first manmade, genetically engineered, organism bigger than a couple of cells because someone, somewhere, wanted a weapon or at least that was always why Yugi assumed they were making it. Two years on he wasn't sure, they'd lost too many files for him to be sure of anything, but for the first while he was sure Atemu Sennen was designing something for a global takeover bid to rival the Nazis.
Yugi still didn't care, not even then, because he was young, reckless and greedy. He was starving for that stimulation and that chance to see if he could. If he could make Atemu Sennen some monster then he could cure cancer easy next year. That was the plan. Dream job and best laid plans. All that golden potential they'd squander. That was down to classical haramatia.
Yugi rifled through the sheets, felt his lips dry and his heart quicken. In those days he'd been so bad at reading Atemu's doctor handwriting. Now he could decipher every miniscule note hidden in the margins but those days it came to him in clusters of key words and the elaboration of the electronic read outs. Chromosomes, beautiful chromosomes, a DNA bank, 60% the magic number of predator wanted as absolute minimum…
That was the first time Yugi realized that Atemu Sennen was a genius in his own right.
Just call them Pierre and Marie Curie.
"This is…" Yugi felt the adrenaline at the back of his throat. "Holy…"
"Think you can?" Atemu was always for business.
"Heh, yes," in a heartbeat Yugi was sure. He was starved, half savage, when their eyes met and Atemu was sure then, Yugi suspected, that he had the right crazy kid for the job. "This is amazing. You've really got all the equipment?"
"Figure out how to use it," was Atemu's curt answer. "Then get baking."
"Why aren't you doing this?" Yugi was mystified. This was his nirvana.
"It's a full time job. I've already got one." Atemu shrugged. "You get to do all dirty stuff. Fix the problems."
Taste the glory was what it sounded like to Yugi. So he nodded, ate it up, because even though it was wrong and playing God and a million other levels of dangerous this was what he'd always wanted to try. He didn't want to be normal. He didn't want to die without purpose. He was lonely and stupid in the worst ways and too smart in others. Yugi was going to get them killed. Though, considering Atemu, it would be a team effort all the way.
It made Yugi cry in the first two weeks. It was a long sterilization process. He'd never screamed at so many centrifuges. Nothing had ever challenged him in the same way. So Yugi had stuffed his headphones in, wiped his tears with a snotty sniff, and gritting his teeth had dug in deep. More trying, more fiddling, chemistry and baking mingled with biology.
It was a lot of coffee in the first couple of weeks. He was haggard. He'd showered in the quarantine chamber twice in four days, hadn't left the lab, hadn't seen the sun and wasn't sure how much solid REM he'd gotten when Atemu made himself known.
"Where are we up to?" He was in a suit that time but it was rumpled. He'd been at some party playing prince charming but down in the lab he was all curt and lacking in airs or graces.
"The genes don't want to splice," Yugi's shoulders were heavy, the conversation reminded him to down a mouthful of the smoothie that had been lulling on his desk forgotten for an hour. He was too tired to remember manners.
"What've you tried?" Atemu grunted impatiently, stripping his tie.
"Everything, I keep changing the levels," he mumbled fingers over the hollows of his eyes. "Your recipe's shit. It's unstable."
"What are you going to do then?" He prodded arms crossing, knee popping out, tie dangling. It was that face of his the 'I pay you for a solution' face Yugi loved and loathed.
"I need human," Yugi shot cautiously. No facility in the world would allow him that. Yugi had a whole bank of DNA samples and no human juice.
Atemu strode, utterly flippant, and snatching up one of the kits sprawled on the dishevelled desk swiped the inside of his mouth. It was business to him. He just didn't think about it or if he did he was fearless of consequence when he sealed off the sample and threw it back over Yugi's desk.
"There," he shrugged, peeling off his blazer to hang over his shoulder. "Use mine."
Yugi had stuttered and for the first time had felt threatened by the challenge. He hesitated on that threshold, afraid, because for the first time no one was going to hold him back from crossing the line so set in concrete.
"See you in the morning kiddo," Atemu dismissed, "go home and get some sleep. You look like shit."
It worked. Blood, sweat and tears congealed into Yugi's skin. He laughed, he cried, and collapsing his face into his forearms at the bench sighed in exhaustion. This was passion. The microscope, the centrifuge, the samples he'd just grown were life, new life, an entirely new organism, in one perfect little zygote.
He'd cleared his hair back, licking his dried lips, and dangerously considered that this was what some infertile mother must've felt like upon finally conceiving.
It was the first time Yugi thought of himself as Mother.
That was his third mistake.
He took Tuesday and Wednesday off. Showered, slept, gathered up most of his clothes to head back to the lab and checked his bank account. Damn. He was set. His was surprised his Grandfather hadn't forgotten who he was yet. He needed to start calling home he thought but once he passed quarantine back into the lab he forgot all that.
It was antiseptic, otherworldly, and inside the tomb Yugi felt he belonged. There was a peacefulness to all the white tiles and silver steels. He'd never been much of a people person, never terribly interested he told himself, but then again he'd never much had the chance to develop with kids his age. That boy genius thing had put him in situations with kids and adults too distanced from him in practical terms of options and experiences. Still he could think of nothing more wasteful than spending his life as a breeder. He got wanting to have a family, he thought, but as usual he was a fool about that as well. Yugi didn't get it. He didn't understand paternity and maternity. He didn't understand the power of implication and culture on his mind.
The first implantation was easy, smooth, but the problem was the stickiness of the procedure. Yugi had to touch, had to grow, had to get his hands dirty in a way he'd only ever experienced growing viruses and dissecting corpses.
The artificial womb was all cow cells, the first zygote was 60% predator just like Atemu wanted and another 40% assorted things mostly non-mammal. It was a bad plan just in general but Yugi had hardly any experience to know that. However condescending and disapproving he could be in retrospect. No one had any experience in this field, he was the first, and that still made him tingle.
Yugi invested himself in it. He had no idea how long it should grow, how long it would take, or how big it would be and he couldn't know. So he waited like some nesting hen, prodding and checking, and found the placenta lining too thick to ultrasound. Little tiny projects started on the periphery but none of them very good considering he was distracted by pressing greatness.
At six weeks the weight was good at least for most mammal offspring and certainly all reptilian. He was compelled to stick his hand in the oven and check to see if it was golden brown yet. Donning the medical glove and slipping his arm into the artificial womb was an old technique farmers used on cows. He suspected that if the thing had as much crocodile in it as he had put in then it might be in an egg so he was expecting hard shell.
Arm in, first to the elbow, he felt the whoosh of sticky umbilical fluid round him through the glove and could very nearly hear its heart beating. He pressed and found he felt the placenta, felt structures of hardening calcium limbs, and was relieved. Baby was growing. He'd made the mistake of lingering a little too long, of pushing his hand a little too deep. He didn't detach the placenta from the womb, not in that motion he was sure, but the thing inside the case became distressed suddenly.
It was the predator in it. There was too much cold blood and teeth in the genes. It lashed, to Yugi it felt like a violent kick against his hand, in something like a contraction and he knew then he needed to withdraw his arm.
The motion of trying to free himself slowly set it off even more. Yugi's arm pulled back, the thing twisted violently, and then in a rush everything snapped. The artificial womb spasmed, thought it was time to give birth, as something horribly sharp cut the placenta and dug into Yugi's forearm. He screamed, pained and choked, and the umbilical fluid from the sack cut free by the attack the waters broke. So in that same second of pain he was suddenly dumped with a rush of sticky sludge tumbling out of the opening.
Yugi tugged, was in blitzing pain, and baby-1 didn't want to let go. His free hand stumbled over the trolley to his side, tried to find the scalpel and pulling hard managed to fight the steely, alien, grip long enough to get his arm out to the wrist. That was the first look he got at the tail. Wrapped round his forearm that sickly green appendage had fastened tight round his forearm, almost cutting circulation, and with it the black smooth tip had dug under his skin.
With the fluid leaving the womb baby-1 was dying and with that increasingly violent. Yugi cut, almost did the same to his arm in the slippery fumbling, and panting, hissing, severed the thin tail by pushing up and away from his arm. The end still attached flailed gruesomely and finally free Yugi fell back onto his ass in the umbilical sludge. His fingers ferreted, trying to pull the tip out in a panic. The tip of the tail clung like a leech for a moment before Yugi slid it lose from where it had penetrated like a fang. It was leaking at the tip.
Yugi knew that in the instant and it made sense. Scorpion, Black Mamba… it could've been a million different compounds of neurotoxin or blood congealer. He panicked, his head spun, and heart pounding he circulated the poison faster as he shambled out of the chamber into the stock room.
The specimen was young, the venom was weak, and it was only lucky scientific guesses about the type of venom that saved Yugi's life in the hand trembling seven minutes that followed as he injected himself with anti-venom very near the burning wound site.
He was bleeding, holding the ripped skin together with his palm, and limping back to the chamber found the wretched vessel had stopped throbbing violently. Baby-1 died without him even being there. Sludge and venom sprayed, stagnating and boggish, on the tiles like a murder scene as Yugi panted flushed and horrible pallid in the door way. It was his fault.
He'd washed himself in the quarantine showers still trembling. The wound had to be scoured under antiseptic alcohol and it felt as if part of Yugi as searing off. Venom gone or not the wound was inflamed and acidic.
It was going to scar Yugi knew when he wrapped it and he was right. Two years on it hadn't faded. At the time it had taken weeks to properly dispose of the dead, peeling, skin and see the wound heal. His arm felt constantly wrapped in gauze, a thick reminder, and Yugi felt it brush his hip where the hem of his shirt rode up for days always startling him.
It was too violent, the whole thing, he liked to think the event was fast and emotionless but he was frightened. He was too young for this.
"What happened to you?" Atemu was soconsiderate.
"It was too violent," Yugi mumbled resentfully, fingers pattering across the plastic keyboard. "It attacked me before I could get it out."
Even as he said it Yugi was too connected to the thing. He felt guilty. It had been acting on survival instinct imprinted into it. Baby-1 (and even that title was far too personal) had been distressed and Yugi had been clumsy but that was supposed to be science. Testing, trying, never leaving anything just to take its time and never flying blind.
"Well you're onto something," Atemu was distant to the idea then, your typical absent Doctor Frankenstein. "What's next?"
"I'm going to accelerate the growth of a new one in one of the tanks," Yugi mumbled. That way he could see it and monitor it the whole time. Grow it past infancy and rip it out into the world without sticking his hands in anywhere dark.
"You'll miss all the early development for observation."
"I know," Yugi grunted, he hated that. "If I can get that to work I can figure out how to grow a new one better. If I just know what it's going to look like…maybe…"
Atemu didn't really care for his hypothesis specifics.
"Whatever," he shrugged.
Yugi should've known, perhaps, but asking him to realize so much about the dangers of himself over the dangers of poisons and nails was asking a child to run before they could walk.
Baby-2 looked like a rat.
It took Yugi a month of careful tinkering to accelerate the growth rate without breaking it the whole thing on display in a tube. It was a hairless rat, essentially, about the size of a Jack Russel with hands, fingers, and feet. It was hideous and that tail which on the earlier specimen had wounded Yugi was still there lulling in the tank. Yugi's arm still hadn't healed, the gauze had been reset many times and still itched when he drained the tank for baby-2 slowly.
It was slow, so slow, the process of watching the nutrient fluid drain while counting heartbeats and vitals. Yugi leant over it, knew he needed to be careful but hoped (however cautious and defensive he was) that this one would be less aggressive than its predecessor.
He had his lab coat pinned tight but it was looser those days than it had been upon his arrival to Sennen's property. The click of the tank opening, the parting of the lid as he let himself into the little glass box, was mythical and terrifying. It was perhaps the first time Yugi had ever felt vaguely spiritual, nearly religious, far too much so. He shouldn't have been mystifying the events but down in the subbasement it was just him and these things.
Baby-2 was only 5% human, still 60% predator, but the humanness showed in the fingers which were tiny on long, bended, spindly arms. It was such a big rat. Yugi could hear it breathing. It was soothed and steady but even as Yugi touched the tail gently, to tape up the poison tip in one thick glass test vial, baby-2 didn't move. It could breathe and as Yugi touched it very gently he knew it was healthy perhaps. It didn't hiss or spit. Young were supposed to make noise, were supposed to want to move on survival instinct alone and that should've been encoded into this thing. It should've been moving.
It just blinked at him through beady black eyes and as Yugi snapped his fingertips, clacking his tongue, it wouldn't twitch. Lazy was the wrong word.
Yugi felt that rise of panic creep back into him. Not again. What he tried next was dangerous but he did it without really thinking on it till much later. He picked it up, the whole thing, all nine kilos of its spindly limbs and slumping back in the desk chair tried to stir it. He clucked his tongue, he swayed it, he used his teeth to strip his gloves and cradling it with bare warm hands tried to rub some life back into it along the spine.
Just slow breaths and beady eyes.
Yugi tried feeding it even. Nutrient rich the milky product he tried to have baby-2 suckle should've been what it needed and wanted most but plastic teat in the creature ignored it completely.
"Come on," Yugi rocked, "come on if you don't start thinking for yourself I'm going to have to get rid of you…"
He was pleading with it.
He was too deep already. He wanted to succeed too badly.
He'd never had a mother of his own.
He was coddling.
It didn't matter though, not for all the pleading in the world, because baby-2 was a vegetable. The brain waves were stunted, broken, and all it could do was breath on its own. Nothing else.
Specimens 3 through 12 weren't much better. Yugi wavered between the artificial womb and the tank. The womb made them too violent while the tank scrambled their brains and trapped between a rock and a hard place he hardly recognized himself when he flittered home for half a day.
He was sharper than he'd ever been, his body had changed, he didn't look like a child anymore with the baby fat gone and his eyes narrowed from defeat.
When he went back, padding over Atemu Sennen's thick carpets to the elevator, his hair was thick and wet around his face. He wasn't giving up, he was a man possessed, but in his dithering attempts it seemed Atemu had become impatient.
He was in that lab that day when Yugi made it back.
Tall as he was there was something about the way Atemu turned over the things on Yugi's desk that made him think the man's fingers were always ready to itch to a trigger.
"Have fun outside the cage for a day?" Atemu teased leaning back into the desk, ankles crossed as he ran the tip of a paperclip at the dirt under his nail.
"Something like that." Yugi pushed back his hair absently from his shoulders, settling himself back in his desk to reach for the files.
"No luck with the creature feature?"
"I'm working on it."
"Taking your sweet time."
"Heh," Yugi scoffed, glancing to him. "If you think it's so easy you should be down here all day working your ass off on it."
Atemu pushed gracefully off the desk, one hand sliding over the back of Yugi's seat and so nonchalant as he was Yugi still stiffened when the man leant in close to bring his lips to Yugi's ear.
"It's not my job." He whispered. "See, kiddo, I'm the father in this relationship. I provide the home, bring the bacon, and give you all the DNA samples your little heart desires. You're the baby-mama here. Building it, growing it, and feeding it are your gig. So if we don't have a creature feature you're not doing yourjob."
Yugi inhaled stoutly.
"So," Atemu plucked mockingly simple, "you keep trying because it's not good to bring something into a dysfunctional home and I'm feeling mighty connected to Henry the eighth right now."
Threat or not that little whisper implanted the insidious idea in Yugi's mind.
Atemu wasn't any happier the next time he came down but Yugi was. He startled Yugi when he wrapped both arms round his waist and tugging hefted Yugi off his feet spinning them round away from the work bench. Yugi grunted low in the back of his throat, pushed at the arms on instinct and squeezing Atemu held them facing the elevator.
"Someone's stopped sending me reports," Atemu purred. "What are we up to baby-mama?"
"I've been busy!" Yugi grunted, pushing at the arms snug round his middle and boa-constrictor tight. "Didn't think you even read the damn things!"
"I read everything." Atemu stressed sing-song. "What have we been busy with this time?"
"A working, stable, fucking specimen!" Yugi cawed, kicking out. He didn't like being stuck like a rat in a trap. He didn't trust his Henry the Eighth.
"And you haven't been gloating to me in reports?" He suggested. "That's funny. I would've thought that was the first thing you'd do. What did you do?"
"Nothing!" He snorted.
"I'll throw you over my lap kiddo and it won't be pleasant."
"Argh," Yugi sighed, hissing through his teeth in the exhale. "I just changed the recipe a little, for Christ's sake, and I've been busy."
"Details," Atemu stressed tightly against his ear. "How'd you change my recipe?"
"I just…" He squirmed a little in the hold. He didn't want to be like thiswhen he tried to explain. "I put a little more herbivore in."
"Yugi," Atemu grumbled, warningly.
"Oh relax!" He groaned. "It's still 60% predator and carnivore. There's just a little less amphibian and reptile in the predator portion. There's only 20%. Mainly omnivorous anyway; there's marsupials, dolphins… there's not dog or cow in there or anything."
"What's the rest?" He demanded smoothly.
"Human and bits and pieces," Yugi shrugged.
A pregnant pause.
"I just… I upped the human a little," he mumbled, "if anything it's just putting more predator into the mix like you wanted."
"That was a verylong breath Yugi. How much human did you put in?" Atemu was getting snappy now.
A pause, then carefully;
"We agreed to cap on ten."
"Well ten wasn't working!" Yugi appealed a tad anxious. "This is! It's working beautifully now!"
"It's not born yet."
Yugi felt air flood back into him as those tight arms unlaced but hesitant he watched Atemu very closely over his shoulder for another motion. Everything seemed well till he turned ahead. The man's hand tightened at the scruff of his neck, on the collar of his lab coat (under which Yugi wore very little these days) and pushed him forward on his feet like a dog on a leash. He wasn't out of the woods yet.
The little strolling amble they took to the the observation room, Yugi's birthing room, was tense. Atemu was so very close when Yugi flipped the lights that he felt the others knuckles against the back of his neck, the little wisp of breath brushing his hairs, as the man's finger's tightened.
"It's bigger than the others." He murmured tightly over the artificial womb.
"Twice the size, it's been in there longer," Yugi explained softly. "The others were coming out prematurely. I think that was the the problem. They weren't fat enough."
"Is that why the colouration's different?" Atemu inquired. It had the ghost of casual conversation but the expectation for an answer and the insinuating accusation was there.
"I changed the womb composition as well. I think the match was too foreign between specimen and vessel last time as well. The cells were rejecting each other, made them small, so…" Yugi swallowed cautiously voice very calm but back very straight when Atemu's trigger finger bumped the back of his neck. "It's 30% you, 30% me, and the rest is marsupial."
"Put a little bit of you in there did you?"
"I wanted the genes to be differentiated but partially similar in majority." He explained. "More like an actual mother's body is common in some genes with the foetus."
"You have been busy."
"The placenta's thinner with this one," Yugi tried to reason casually, "I can even ultrasound it now."
Atemu's hand, finally, loosened from his scruff that trigger finger releasing him from suspicion. Yugi had hoped the man would be practical and given the worst option he had just hoped that when Atemu discovered Yugi would have specimen, baby, thirteen too far along to obstruct. He had hoped if the worst was too occur then he could convince Sennen to let him see it through experimentally.
Atemu was no stranger round a medical setting it seemed. He found the technicalities of the machine, wheeled it in and grasping for the proper gels Yugi flustered to meet him halfway. Atemu handed him the handpiece, flicked up the monitor to a soft hum, and fingers skirting in a familiar way Yugi cradled the bulging artificial membrane to rub the handset against it and… he checked the screen, a little more left, his hand roved over the sack-
"Fuck me," Atemu rasped.
Yugi swallowed, glanced the coiled up monstrosity flickering in and out of vision.
"Hands, head…" Atemu mumbled under his breath, fingers languid, before he seemed to twist in coughing; "the fuck is that?" His mobster traced a sinuous outline.
Yugi squirmed in between Atemu and the womb, fingers extending to reach the screen as he held the handpiece in place. His pinkie nail ran over the blurred focus.
"Tail," Yugi whispered, "and not."
Atemu frowned, comprehended and scoffed, snorting.
"Baby boy," he rasped smirking, "eh?"
"I think," no Yugi knew but in some strange instant he didn't want to tell Atemu it was and be wrong. It seemed frightful like failing to deliver the king an heir.
"Jesus almighty," Atemu swore, digging his hands into his pockets, leaning back to regard the machine.
Yugi felt a pulse, bumping, under the handset and pressing his free hand into the side of the sack felt for some distress. Did Atemu's voice…? It was a totally improper thought but Yugi felt the push under his hand and putting the handpiece for the ultrasound down he reached unconsciously for Atemu's wrist. The mobster grunted, startled and ready to lash out, but eyes flashing found Yugi and relaxed. Yugi was harmless to him.
"Here," Yugi hissed, bringing the man's hand under one of his own.
A moment, Atemu's eyes drifted up trying to focus on the feel and-
"Heh," he breathed.
That all made it realer to Yugi, strangely human, in the very same way it appeared to make the little existence more solid to Atemu. Part of Yugi, quiet then, somehow felt Atemu wasn't as pleased, wasn't as satisfied, as he should've been standing there. Yugi thought it was his pride arcing up, wanting to be acknowledged for his success but… it wasn't.
Atemu slipped his hand out from underneath Yugi's softer palm, dark skin scarred, and pushing the digits back towards his pockets darted in a funny, amused, motion to grasp Yugi round the shoulders as the smaller stood cautious. Yugi waited for a strike, a tantrum, but the man squeezed them half up against each other like Atemu was an older sibling and jokingly pressed wet lips to the corner of Yugi's temple, chuckling.
"Looking good baby-mama," he dropped his arm and with it Yugi's heartbeat fell, Atemu was already turning, slouching, away. "Start sending me reports again."
"You…" Yugi slumped, strangely converted. "You want to assist with the birth?"
"Nah, I trust you," he dismissed.
Subject thirteen didn't take nine months to bake mercifully. Probably the longest gestation period encoded in its genetic material was humanity. The rest had learned to let go earlier, to lay eggs, to nest. So Yugi's little mixed bag grew fast.
Yugi was asleep, on the long broad ottoman outside his primary office that had appeared recently. He had this strange labyrinth feeling in the laboratory. He would spend he wasn't sure how long in one office and then come out to find newer, better, furniture waiting for him. They restacked the cupboards, the fridge, expanded the kitchenette… Atemu seemed to appreciate from those security cameras of his that Yugi was living under his home like a fat winter mole.
He found blankets in a maintenance cupboard a day or two ago after making a proper meal and calling his grandfather to mumble over the stove. They were thick to combat the constant flux of coldly pumped air circulating the lab like a fresh breeze. Yugi had twisted, kicked his laced up shoes out under the bottom edge and rolled onto his back in vague consciousness. He didn't sleep long then, not well, and he was always dressed. He was waiting. He couldn't seem to settle, expectant that at any second an egg timer would go off and need him conscious. It was the sleeplessness of a new mother getting ready for the inner rip of baby busting free.
He had fluttered almost awake, half to the surface, in a sense beyond science that something was ready. It was a primal instinct. Something a young man shouldn't have had.
BEEP BEEP BEEEEEP
Yugi lurched, clumsily, up on the cushioning. His head spun from the relocation of fluids in his brain as he stuttered up and rolling out he was headed to the birthing room before he really knew what he was doing. Somewhere in the walk he woke up enough to know it was an alert from the monitoring systems, something in the pressure or the air or the fluids had changed.
Yugi stumbled, breathless and nauseous, into the room and was hit with the humid amazon wave of spilled fluids.
The water had broken.
Yugi could see the artificial womb convulsing sickeningly through contractions and thoughtlessly half off his feet slipped over the tiles to find a clear pair of rubber gloves.
He got distracted halfway there by the thrum of the connected heart monitor and wrenching himself still ignored hygiene, protocol, entirely to check the dilation. He wasn't a paediatrician but he doubted even a trained one would know what they were doing. This was the first, normal, birth of a new species Yugi had built and hopeless, young, he had no idea what to expect or what would break.
Yugi found the control panel, asserted hormonal reflexes in the manmade muscles to try and make the contraption push, loosen, give birth. Mother and doctor at the same time he didn't quite have enough hands. He'd practiced this, frantically, with the other specimens but this was so different.
He groaned, struggled, kept forgetting the way air was supposed to escape his chest and hand parting the folds of fake skin found himself opening the vessel wider. Head, domed skull, pushing against his hand Yugi used his other set of fingers to push at the top and try and work something out. Messy, he pressed up close, got slippery and-
The head came out fast, Yugi's hair stuck to his face almost in his eyes, and arms slipping he found himself struggling to make a cradle as the babe tumbled out in a rush after the shoulders. Yugi's stomach dropped, no time, had it up against his chest staining his whites red-black-green with slush and hand fumbling stupidly over the trays to his right found something dry. He forgot all about that poison spire tail, again, feeling the weight too consumed by the heat and the panicked urge to wipe the face and clear the airways.
He'd only just brushed the nose, sloppily, when tiny lips parted and like a hiccupping bird it screeched loud enough to startle Yugi.
Yugi fumbled, almost thought he'd drop it but instead clutched it closer that dangerous neurotoxin filled tip, claw, sagging with a weak little twitch over his elbow. It moved, Yugi hadn't expected the sudden cacophony that lulled him to stillness; fingers curling, legs and arms and shoulders squirming, amidst moist little shrieks. It didn't sound like a human newborn, not even a decimal place, it was too thin and too hot and slimy in his arms. It felt mostly like hard cartilage on deer like limbs and looked, too Yugi, as much as rat as the rest had coiled in his arms.
Yugi found himself legless, cleared back its face and as the noise picked up some horrible, base, distress in Yugi he realized…
"Shhh," he whispered, rocking the weight almost with a tip of his hip. "Shhhh."
Yugi was hushing it.
Yugi's face had amniotic fluid on it from pushing back his hair with the back of his palm. He was a mess and mindless of it for those first five or six hours entirely. When it lulled off half asleep he expected it to stop breathing but it snored, nasally, in the back of its throat and when it woke and rasped clucks up at him Yugi started reaching for the warm nutrient slush that should, hopefully, keep it growing.
The only memory that stuck out, two years later, in the haze of cleaning and pacing awed and confused was trying to get subject thirteen to suckle. Like a baby crocodile, a snake, it probably could've fed itself but it had so much more mammal in it now that Yugi without thinking cradled it up into his chest and tried rubbing the plastic teat against its thin lips.
Yugi was seventeen, he had no idea how to do any of it with a human child, and he'd never had a mother of his own. His grandfather told him once that she'd wanted to have a whole gaggle of children. Yugi had always looked down on that as the quickest way to strangle a woman out of her chance to leave an impression on the world but…
It creaked, whined, and hushing Yugi started mimicking the sounds down to it.
"Shh, hnnn," he hummed, pushing the thin plastic teat.
It whined, opened that snap jaw mouth and lips fastening squirmed uncomfortably like a cat trying to break out of Yugi's arms. Yugi's legs ached tremulously from standing so long and weak kneed in the kitchen he sunk down to lean into the hard back of the laminated cupboards.
It fidgeted but, in a second, it pursed and squelching the most miniscule kitten huff swallowed. Yugi's heart came up a little more in his throat, still on a razor's edge and watched as hesitantly convinced subject thirteen suckled.
Yugi could barely move. He watched, he listened, felt the tension and the force as it got hungrier and caught onto the rhythm of how to feed.
Tiny, clawed, double jointed feet sat on hairless rabbit legs. It was ugly. As it suckled those petite feet pushed into the palm of Yugi's cradling hand, flexing and padding like a cat on a sofa, expanding tiny muscles as it started to soften all those horrid squirms. It gave another piggish snort, swallowed, and that tiny tail that had greater dexterity than the whole of the body flicked. Yugi wasn't aware of it, had totally forgotten about it, until it wrapped, coiling, round his bottle lofting forearm. He startled, frozen, but squeezing gently before it eased the newborn thing left the sinuous limb hooked round Yugi's arm as it fed.
It was warm, the tail, very gentle unlike the earlier specimens who in bitter, writhing, rages had tried and once succeeded in poisoning Yugi. He knew by then, from the mind numbing autopsies of other specimens, the kind of heart stopping neurotoxin compounded in that injection tip spire now curled coyly, eerily, round Yugi for support. It surprised him, unlaced him, and tilting the bottle back to bring the rest of the slush towards the teat Yugi felt…
Yugi found subject thirteen habitually curled its tail round him, like young monkeys almost, in some strange kind of comfort mechanism. Some eerie 'don't-leave-me' motion of safety like a newborn grasping at much bigger fingers with their own. Yugi shouldn't have been thinking like that but at the time he didn't cut the thought off.
He was at his desk the next morning speaking to the audio-to-text converter. Bottle in one hand, newborn in the other, he was constantly distracted by tiny noises that left noticeable gaps in the tapes Yugi recorded for later use. Listening to them now hurt, surreal. It pushed into his forearm with its thumper feet, tiny uncomfortably human fingers curling, tail snug round Yugi's cradling arm as it closed its eyes and whimpered. Yugi fell into it too naturally. He hadn't slept all night, had risen half a dozen times to feed it and in a blur found it not at all disgusting or frightful. He was desensitized.
The door whooshed open, Yugi caught the word in his mouth and cut the string of it to let it go like a child's balloon as he turned in his desk chair.
The bottle found its way onto the desk, subject thirteen squawked in complaint, and rising Yugi wasn't sure quite how to face Atemu with the bundle as his unapologetic mobster strode smugly back into the picture.
"Well damn," he greeted throwing his arms open as he came too close to Yugi, "how is it?"
Yugi felt phlegm in his throat and it took a moment to swallow. He'd been hissing, purring, clucking at the tiny squeaker all night.
"Much better," he answered, turning the now squirming creature around in his arms. His fingers cradled its neck, its skull, and trying to tilt it upright into his chest Yugi felt subject thirteen fall forward and nasally gawking nuzzled, squirming, against his vulnerably warm neck.
"Heh," Atemu scoffed, "knows Mama doesn't it?"
"Yeah," Yugi mumbled dryly. I guess or don't be stupid should've been his answers. He shouldn't have agreed with that label.
It screeched, gurgling, huffing into Yugi's skin. Little nudger never sat still when unless it was eating or sleeping.
To Yugi's great surprise Atemu's hands came up, extending expectantly and cocking his chin the mobster beckoned.
"Come on," he grunted, "let Daddy get a look at this ugly little monster."
Part of Yugi's stomach seemed to solidify into sharp jutting edges, butterflies, and everything was tossed up wrong in the air. Something about the stark honesty of Atemu's sentence offended Yugi but it was a monster. The blinders Yugi had misted up overnight were thrown into blunt profile. Something inside Yugi didn't want to share either, didn't want to hand it over to the King of the house, and said; I spent months, I gave blood, sweat and tears to make this. You can't have it now. You can't take it off me. I did it. It's mine. Possessive, broken and childish it was a ripple of niggling fear that came with the suggestion that Atemu would break it. Fuck everything up and leave Yugi without anything to weigh in his aching forearms.
Yugi conceded though, had little choice as Atemu's fingers came over his and tried to steady the transition of the fat, fidgeting, thing from one perfect, smooth, human to the other.
God hadn't had any part in making this but… Why did Yugi even think that?
Atemu cupped his arm under the head, turned the clucking face up into him, and squawking in the back of its throat subject thirteen hissed. Just like a black mamba but its tail sat limp as if it were annoyed not angered. To Yugi he wondered, through the haze of initial panic that made him recoil, if it smelt or recognized some difference between Yugi and Atemu or if it just didn't like the motion of being passed.
Still Yugi shuddered back when it hissed, knew subject thirteen was venomous but even though Atemu claimed to read his files he didn't flinch. He tilted his head, scoffed and huffing at his own fringe leant over the creature to grunt at it.
"Don't look at me like that runt," he murmured, holding it competently as it the creature grumbled. "I made you."
His finger tapped its nose, thumb brushing over a hairless human cheek, but Yugi was quite sure Atemu saw right through the human in it. Yugi should've never made it so human.
Subject thirteen sniffed, grunted, and falling back into squeaking clucks squirmed a little gentler in Atemu's arms. The tail came up, fell down, half an inch and kneading its tiny feet pushed into Atemu's chest.
Could it smell its primary genetic donor? Did it recognize?
"Good job baby-mama," Atemu's eyes drifted up to him lazily, connected. "Looks good."
"Should I…?" Yugi hmm'd.
"Stay with this one," Atemu cocked his chin, "let's see how it grows. Want to know what we're dealing with before we change the recipe or something. Keeping notes?"
"That's my favourite Dr Diabolical," the mobster slackened moving rather abruptly to hand the just settled newborn back to Yugi. He was essentially an evil scientist now wasn't he?
Yugi's hands flew out, took it up warm into his chest, and tossing into him subject thirteen sniffed, squirmed and settling curled its tail round him with a gurgling muffle. Sleepy, Yugi sensed.
Yugi cradled its head into his chest, was transfixed in a daze by the glimmer of teeth already in its mouth as it yawned slumping into him and jolted a little as he heard Atemu leave.
He should've had assistants. There should've been six or seven of them down there watching subject thirteen in a pit, in a tank, like it was a hermit crab. It would've been impersonal and impartial then. It shouldn't have been a teenage boy with something poisonous he didn't know what else to do with but hold like a mammal and feed like a baby.
All of their conversation, actually, ended up on the tape. Every inflection in Atemu's voice, every beginning of an idea, every gurgle of subject thirteen…
Yugi still had it in a bottom drawer in the Ukraine.
Yugi had to sleep eventually, under the blare of the security cameras on the ottoman he surrendered eventually to exhaustion sometime during the second day. The newborn, the thing, male and tiny and bony (too bony even to wear diapers without Yugi duct taping them on) fell asleep in a tight cat ball at his side. It seemed to morph from pet to child at an influx and when he fell unconscious Yugi worried he'd crush it or it would poison him.
He got up, groggy, after a few moments of uncomfortable sleeplessness, unease, to fumble in the bottom drawer of his desk for a vial, a tiny little glass pill bottle. He uncapped it and, conscious of every grumble, secured it over the poison tip of subject thirteen's tail.
Yugi's best solutions, it seemed, came when he was half conscious.
He slept then, for a few uncomfortable hours in vague feverish dreams that left his whole body aching, till it woke him with bird squawks hungrily.
Yugi fell asleep feeding it again.
Yugi woke face to face with slow blinking, pitch, eyes. He startled. Subject thirteen squeaked and hopping back hissed irritably. Yugi found his elbows, gaunt eyed he was sure, heart stuttering. It thumped one rabbit like back leg against his stomach, complaining, and front legs, hands, coming down made a kind of possum motion back up Yugi's chest. A hairless, humane, rat…
Yugi watched and chemicals pumping him up he found his inner biologist spinning. Humans were one of the slowest species to learn to walk, to move, of course this thing could within forty eight hours. Most species had to be up and running within the hour to stay alive so the clumsy way subject thirteen experimented with motion shouldn't have been so horrifying except that human detailing to him was…
It came up a little more up Yugi's chest, only about as long and as heavy as a fat march hare, and settling made a clucking, shrilling, possum twitter in the back of its throat nose nudging against Yugi's clavicle.
Yugi lay back into the rest of the ottoman, sighed, eyes drifting closed for a moment and opening them his hands were unsure all over how to rest their fingers on it. One warm palm sat on its back and rolling it flopped onto its side to purr.
Yeah it knew its mother alright or at least subject thirteen knew who was the one wielding the bottles.
At seventy-two hours old subject thirteen was hopping, sniffing the air, round and in-between Yugi's ankles in the kitchenette. It would push between his legs as he cooked, arch its back and extend its arms, its legs, straight enough to rub like a cat and purr. It would twirl round the outside, hands scratching along Yugi's pant leg and make that shrill noise in the back of its throat.
"Shhh," Yugi pushed his hair back to make eye contact down at the thing, "wait a minute."
He'd turned back to the stove and, swinging its backside, subject thirteen had tried to jump up. It had leapt, hit up into Yugi's knee and already armed with claws had dug its hands and curled its legs round his knee.
Yugi choked, swore, and turning down was ready to put the cat out.
"No!" he ordered, batting at it. "Down!"
Gravity was already tugging it down, hands too little to hold on well exactly, but subject thirteen squawked insistently.
It plopped to the tiled floor with a little thump. Yugi froze for half a second worried the impact may have damaged something but then it was up again squawking at him and scratching his leg.
Yugi sighed, frustrated, and leaning he put both arms round it to bring it up to coddle against his chest all the weight into one cocked hip as he tried, helplessly, to get something in his mouth for once. It slumped, snorting thickly, face burying into the groove of Yugi's armpit, tail coiling with the tiny glass bottle cold against Yugi's holding arm.
Yugi actually got a moment to type, properly, when it fell asleep in a netted ball in his lap. His hairless march hare snored, bearish, and fingers pattering Yugi had seconds enough to try and write a report for Atemu.
If it was as mammalian as Yugi had made it this thing was going to grow fast, was going to start eating solids, was going to start sleeping longer and stretching out. He didn't have much comprehension of what exactly it would look like, deformed and uncomfortable as it sat now. In retrospect, if Yugi had been asked what he thought, at first, it would look like well… frankly he never had an hour long enough to ask himself that. He didn't make any guesses.
It did grow fast though. Yugi was right about that even if he quite failed to predict much else.
It had been strange, alien, to slot subject thirteen in to the lab with him. Yugi's prison now had a conflicting voice. Something he was leashed to, that he couldn't let out of sight, something he kept expecting to die. Something he was disgust by and viciously protective of in the same motion of his hands across the keyboard. He didn't ask himself if he liked it but he never really pushed himself to be impartial. He didn't remember chiding himself for the conditions, everything was necessity.
Yugi left music on to try and drown some of the impatient squawking. It scampered over the floor, sniffed under the fridge, under Yugi's desk, nibbled chair legs and power chords its teeth were mercifully too small to break yet.
It head butted Yugi's leg, stubborn, and groaning Yugi hadn't really thought. A napkin ended up scrunched in his palm, balled, and tossing it across the tiles Yugi forgot he wasn't dealing with a cat.
It scrambled, all nails on the tiles, and dived after the ball.
Yugi glanced over his shoulder to find subject thirteen nibbling it, kicking it, dancing round it trying to bat it and quietly amused he thanked Christ Atemu had security cameras. He'd need to jot that down.
He heard its weight skid on the white and Yugi had the stove to himself.
A hop, a squirrel chitter ptt ptt, and whining a moment later it was tugging at his leg, tugging with a curled little hand yanking his trousers like a child. The whole motion bizarrely turned Yugi around and glancing down he quite lost his voice.
"What?" He murmured, startled.
"Where's your ball?" Yugi felt breathless even saying it.
It thumped its back leg and glancing quickly Yugi couldn't quite find it. Under the fridge? Seemed to be the only place it could've gone without the tiny monster following it.
"Did you lose it?" He softened, sighing, shoulders down.
Yugi bunched another napkin and holding it up between his fingers subject thirteen thumped its back foot tap-tap-tap-tap eagerly. Yugi tossed it down from his feet and diving the thing was scrambling after it already.
Yugi snorted, half smiled.
At ninety six hours subject thirteen waddled to the end of Yugi's lap, nose on the kitchen table, and twittering ducked its head over the edge to nip at the rim of his toast. Yugi paused, half the meal in hand, and observed the little monster gnawing insistently at the edge of the crust on the plate. Yugi swiped jam off the slice, brought it down near the creature's mouth and two tiny hands curling round Yugi's finger to hold it there subject thirteen licked in short, sandpaper tongue, motions at his bare skin.
Solids it was.
Yugi threw his arm over the back of the desk chair and felt a little easier before he knew it. Within the fortnight his march hare was a house cat. Pattering around on four elbowed legs like an ape walking on its hands and feet. It was bizarre but graceful. Yugi could throw a tennis ball and it would run after it.
It could also jump onto his desk annoyingly.
Which it did one day, scrapping its back leg in his papers, whining at him and clucking up to thump off the edge of the desk into his lap as Yugi sighed.
"What?" He moaned.
It scratched his chest, kneading in his shirt, and squawked in that particularly demanding way.
"I don't know what you want," Yugi sighed, he'd been mid-sentence with something.
Subject thirteen thumped its back leg.
"Don't you sulk at me."
Whining it scratched his chest and in the back of its mouth, not quite its throat, started squelching. Yugi blinked, tilted, and whining it sucked.
"You want a bottle?" He offered dumbly. He'd rather weaned the thing off them after the first five days when he found solids and milks were quite comfortable.
It slumped and rolled in his lap, twittering, and Yugi wondered if it understood him.
When he had it in his arms, with another bottle full of a nutrient and milk mix, Yugi was almost certain it understood him.
Subject thirteen purred, the warm weight of that growing tail round Yugi's coddling arm, and all at once it was like the thing was tiny padding into Yugi's arm and murmuring. Animals, Yugi noticed, didn't require this kind of intimacy, this kind of attention, this kind of moment. A calf sucked from its mother till it didn't need to anymore and then it stopped on instinct. Human babies wanted the feel of their mother round them, her undivided attention, the familiarity and comfort of a bottle. Subject thirteen didn't need the plastic teat, functioned well on solids, but… it wanted this, it wanted to be held, it wanted to be coddled…
It was too smart, too conscious.
It didn't quite like Atemu.
It was hesitant, curious, when at almost two weeks the mobster waltzed in as he so often did and whistled through his teeth. Subject thirteen squawked, scattered, and scrambling from gnawing a sacrificed sneaker darted between Yugi's legs underneath his desk. Hiding behind mother's skirts.
"Getting big fast ain't it?" Atemu had a plastic bag in one hand and sauntering over dumped the bag on the desk with one hand while the other slumped mindlessly on Yugi's dazed shoulder.
"Ridiculously," Yugi sighed.
Under the table subject thirteen hissed at his booted legs and quite dismissive Atemu altogether ignored him. Yugi's eyes drifted to the bag but his hand didn't follow. He always expected Atemu to come down with suited men to break his kneecaps.
"It's just doughnuts Mister Mad," the tawny lord scoffed, pulling apart the plastic over Yugi's shoulder to grab one still steaming. "Thought I'd give you a treat while I checked in on our firstborn."
Atemu shouldn't have made those jokes.
Pleasantly relieved Yugi leant for one, cinnamon coated.
"Vitals good?" Atemu took a sloppy bite.
"Perfect," Yugi chewed, "but I'm working on approximations here. It doesn't seem unhappy though. Nothing in the blood tests that seems odd. I'm still trying to figure out what it might be able to do, how big it's going to be but…"
"Probably won't know till the hormones kick in," Atemu dismissed, demonstrating that subtle genius of his. "Puberty's going to be fun eh?"
"Oh god," Yugi moaned quietly, "don't joke. It's already poisonous. Those claws are going to get bigger."
"You seen if it can hunt yet?"
"Huh?" Yugi blinked.
"Give it a rat or a grasshopper or something," Atemu ordered, "see what happens. See what kind of predator it is."
That was actually, surprisingly, a good idea. Yugi nodded, distantly, and realized he was eying his screen with new implications. That would work wouldn't it?
Under the table subject thirteen squawked.
Atemu leant, hand on the back of Yugi's chair and glanced under the table.
"What?" He teased brazenly. "Don't you like being ignored space trooper?"
"'Tem'-" Yugi mumbled under his breath, squashing the sound he arked up unnecessarily at the teasing. He silenced himself, fingers in his own hair as Atemu reached under the table extending his hand.
"Well come on then," he tempted the creature, "come say hi if you're so big and scary."
Yugi heard its back foot thump.
"Oh big tough man," Atemu chuckled, "come on."
"I know, life's hard ain't it?"
Grumbling, twittering, to Yugi's own gentle surprise he found subject thirteen fumbled out on nailed hands and hopping on its back legs came very close to sniff Atemu's hand. He seemed docile. Did he remember the mobster…?
Atemu's hands came down, hooked under its armpits and hefting pulled the creature up into his arms.
"Oomph," he complained, "solid aren't you?"
It clucked, squirming enough to pad its feet into Atemu's chest, tail flickering at ease.
"You got a hard life?" Atemu teased. "Down here getting fat and coddled with Mama? You just wait till you get bigger and whinier. I'm going to make you switch places with me. Then I can sit round here getting spoilt and you can deal with fuckwits."
"Tem," Yugi sighed tightly.
"Yu," Atemu teased down.
Yugi coloured, lost his displeasure, and turning back into his palms didn't realize the shortened nonsense had escape his mouth on reflex.
Subject thirteen settled very quickly in Atemu's arms. Let them talk, or mumble into their palms on Yugi's part, leaning up to sniffle the underside of the mobsters jaw. It licked the skin quickly before nestling down. It knew somehow, smelt perhaps, the genes between itself and the illicit human male. Atemu, the alpha male of their pack, held it on his hip, hand on the opposing bone formation as Yugi's inner anatomist traced the lines of Atemu's dress shirt down his torso and they really rather talked about nothing.
Yugi had finished his second doughnut when, huffing, thirteen squirmed a little more obviously in Atemu's arms.
Rolling over the little thing twittered, squeaking low, towards Yugi.
"Someone wants Mum back," Atemu sighed easily, motioning to hand him back as Yugi's arms unlaced readily, unconsciously, to take the creature like it was really their demented young. "I better go anyway."
It nestled down into Yugi's clavicle, yawned, sneezed and seemed to start to daze. It was near a nap.
"Thanks for lunch," Yugi conceded.
Atemu shrugged, didn't care.
"Have fun camper," he blew a kiss over his shoulder as he dissipated.
At exactly three weeks Yugi found himself arguing into plastic. The small of his back brushed the the counter and simmering dinner bubbling something sickly Yugi had altogether lost his appetite. The lab was so stark, so white, so cold…
"I can't Grandpa," he gritted stubbornly, picking dirt from under his nails. "No, I know that. No one's- my work needs constant supervision-" Lord knew Atemu wasn't exactly going to babysit without cocaine. "My world revolves around more than smoke breaks and vitamin D. I'm busy."
And exhausted, and cold, and fascinated, and spinning out of control…
Yugi should've held on tighter to the real world, gone upstairs and shocked his system clean of the dark, muddled, bog he was buried in. He needed a reminder, stark and visual, that real people didn't live like this. The first time he left the laboratory, before the midnight scramble to the Ukraine, Yugi remembered the shimmering plastic flash of a diaper commercial. He remembered the penetrating, stomach sinking, remembrance of what human offspring looked like. It stung his retinas after almost a year away from the dim of a television screen. To see other human beings, to see the natural order, to see life outside the catacombs Yugi had…
At three weeks, appetite already sickened, Yugi had been hissing into the hand piece.
Subject thirteen had a rat. A fat, stupid, pet store one good enough for laboratory use. It had instinct enough to run and big as a dog by then, imposing nearly, Yugi's little monster had darted skidding under the kitchen table to sink his teeth in. He used that tail of his to hunt. The poison seemed to be increasingly acidic and detrimental as the subject grew. Yugi intended to test the mortality rate soon, in a moment's peace, if that ever came.
The rat screeched, death throes, and shaking its jaw subject thirteen had given an almost primal grumble guttural in his chest. It was more obviously male by then though it had always been to some extent. Diapers off it left its gender stark now, the ever expanding proportions in its body morphing into something more naturalistic.
A smell, sickening, of stomach bile breaking from the rat's intestinal tract distracted Yugi and gagging he turned his nose up. He turned the stove off, everything gone from focus, because he wasn't going to eat now.
"No," he rasped into the phone, "I don't know the woman, why should I? I have stuff to do."
Why did he turn off the swear function in his vocabulary? It wasn't just Grandpa Motou. Yugi had strained at the sound of harsh syllables since subject thirteen had come hissing out into the world slimy and poisonous. It was as if Yugi feared he'd teach a house cat bad manners.
"I'm half way through the biggest project of my li-"
One tiny, human, hand tugged above Yugi's knee.
Subject thirteen's eyes had lightened now from beady birthing chamber black to something richer, brighter, coherent and stark. Aubergine blinked up at Yugi's dull focus, the man's lips loose, and pushed up on its back feet subject thirteen stood upright.
On two feet its hands fell into position, elbows by its side, little bony hands curled in Yugi's trousers as it tugged and clucked up at him. It bended at the knee, down then up, whining with the carcass of the half-eaten caramel rat in its mouth.
Yugi let the phone slump in his hand down into his shoulder.
It looked like a child, a real, proper, child; a human toddler if with more adult proportions and awkward jointing. Those big den eyes blinked up less reptilian at Yugi now the tilt of the face made it finally seem human. Yugi could… he spotted the feline outline of Atemu's cheekbones on the creature's face….
"Grandpa," he bent the phone back up dismissively, "I'm going to have to call you back."
The useless plastic scattered on the counter, Yugi released a noise between his lips and the whole world shifted suddenly to the left like gravity had flipped.
"H-hey," he whispered down fingers falling almost into reach of subject thirteen's shoulders. "What's wrong?"
In a way no one had taught him, in a way he'd never seen, the tiny monster thrust both his hands up, rat stuck in sharp teeth, and hmm'd needily. Up. He wanted Yugi's arms.
Just like a toddler, like a little boy, subject thirteen threw his hands up.
Yugi forgot everything, how to move, how to be still, how to know peace… his navel tightened sickeningly behind his shirt, thighs cold and wiry. Terror, amazement, horror… He thought for a moment he couldn't tell Atemu but… there were cameras and why he would hide this was…Yugi didn't know why it should matter that the creature stuck his hands up but somehow it all did.
Subject thirteen rocked on double jointed, lion like, feet with human toes clawed.
"Hnn!" He squawked round the corpse. Up Mama!
Yugi trembled but bent round the middle his hands found the familiar grooves of the creature's armpits and hefted the tiny body up onto his hips. A sickening tail swished, toes curled, and curling in taunt arms snugged round Yugi's neck in…
He tasted bile.
It knew how to hug.
Yugi held it on his hip. What else could he do?
It was like a switch had flipped. As easily as it had walked on all fours suddenly subject thirteen was walking upright. Yugi's little man-child…
He climbed onto Yugi's desk instead of jumped, he wrapped his arms round Yugi's knees to sag into him, he sat on Yugi's hip like a human infant getting lankier every day. He could sit on the top of the cabinets, get up there unassisted, and with opposable thumbs began to stick his nose into everything. He had hands, had feet, had eyebrows and lips and tufts of hair thickening on his head. Tennis balls and rats and naps weren't good enough anymore.
Most critically subject thirteen had passed from 'it' to 'he' in Yugi's mind
He was sitting in the sink, feet over the edge, gnawing a lamb shank raw between his teeth as he swished his bare, unhindered, tail in the water warm round him while Yugi put the dishes away. The creature sneezed, Yugi glanced, but when he went right back to chewing Yugi didn't cease his business. It was hard to think of him as the 'thing' rather than the 'boy' now. Everything was more dangerous.
He made a noise, a lazy grunt and glancing with his arms up in the cabinet Yugi smiled. Subject thirteen watched, eyes keen, and settled went back to munching his treat. He was so…
He could fall, clumsy, off the kitchen table and not hurt a thing. He wasn't delicate. Oh he'd whine, pull himself up into Yugi's lap and demand to be held but that the creature was so human about it was more intimidating than the ease with which he could fall ten feet and get up spotless.
He startled, thought it was the creature cawing his name, but glass in hand Yugi spun to realize Atemu had slunk into the lab again.
"In here!" He called, collecting himself, pushing his hair back from his face.
In the sink his little monster looked curiously to him for answers.
"It's Atemu," Yugi answered carefully, "you remember him don't you?"
Dark aubergine blinked at Yugi sluggishly, teeth twittering over the flesh scrapped bone looking for the last chunks of good meat. His teeth were sharp enough to snap a table leg.
"Hey," Atemu greeted casually, cocking his chin before those smooth burgundy irises of his stumbled over the brat nesting in the sink. "Well look at you! You're huge!"
Subject thirteen blinked, Atemu opened his arms in an approach and with sudden recognition the creature tried to hold the bone in its mouth just with its teeth as it stuck both its arms out to be picked up. Atemu snorted, almost within reach and sighing Yugi ordered;
"Put the bone done first."
Atemu seemed to think Yugi was asking him but as both man and monster turned to him subject thirteen grunted.
"You'll get his shirt dirty." Yugi explained, tone tilting to; don't sulk at me.
The mobster's hands fell, eyes hungry, and watched as stubbornly unimpressed subject thirteen tugged off a final pieces of meat and shank in hands propped it down on the counter next to Yugi.
"Thank you," Yugi murmured coyly, turning back to the cupboards.
Thirteen thrust his hands out and blinking Atemu took a long second to recover before, laughing hoarsely, he pulled the sopping wet child up into his arms. Atemu moaned in faux effort at the new weight and sleeves rolled back held the male-youngling on his hip. Like that, like it looked now, subject thirteen really could've been their child.
"Look how big you are," he lilted dumbly, "you're going to be bigger than me at this rate."
"Let's hope not," Yugi mumbled. On hands and feet, on four legs, it could be maybe four feet fully grown but on two legs gods… six, seven, eightfoot? Who knew?
"Hey," Atemu caught the thing's chin under the curl of his index finger, "can you go get me a pen big stuff?"
Subject thirteen grunted.
Atemu put him down and sniffing, naked and bare, the creature looked to Yugi.
"It's okay," Yugi promised over his shoulder.
It sniffed, turned on double jointed feet and slunk waddling off out of the kitchenette with dull purpose lazy in its eyes. It could follow instructions.
"It's getting smart," Atemu whispered the second it was gone from view, "how smart?"
"I don't know," Yugi mumbled, "I keep testing him but… it's hard to tell. He needs new stimulants; toys. He's getting bored and restless. I can't keep up with him. I had to play hide and seek three times today."
"It knows what we're saying." Atemu rasped dryly, standing stiff.
"Looks like it," Yugi turned to the next plate and sagging found himself still. He just stared at it.
"It'll send you some toys," the mobster brushed down his arm with one warm hand, "anything else?"
"I don't…" Yugi sighed. "I think he needs…." He cringed at the thought, "something bigger to eat."
"I can do that." Atemu shrugged blandly. "What are you worried about?"
"I don't want to watch him kill a dog or a cat or…"
"Rabbits, foxes, snakes, lizards…" the tanned Adonis shrugged, "what's your poison?"
"I don't know," Yugi sighed, shoulders slumping. "Just…no house pets? Please?"
Atemu didn't, as Yugi expected, tell him to strengthen his stomach rather he squeezed Yugi's elbow one hand drifting round his hip next to pull the smaller's body into his side. Yugi let him, leant half unconsciously into the warmth of another human body and surrendered to whatever brief comfort he was going to get. The future frightened him. He sensed their string, tight, impending retribution.
Atemu kissed his forehead, the tip of his temple, in that same vague mindless way he had after threatening Yugi before the birth.
"You're a genius," he whispered uselessly, distant.
Yugi's head slumped forward, almost… he closed his eyes. It was too much.
Atemu leant then, in the strangest way, and craning closer his secondary hand which had been supporting him on the counter joined the other in the set to have Yugi's hips in his grasp. He moved, in the shift of his weight, behind Yugi his lean pushing the smaller into the hard bite of the rounded granite edge and in a sigh Yugi felt his body heat.
Yugi mind splintered, half knew the action but…
Yugi couldn't bring himself to open his eyes. He couldn't decide in the depths of his chest if this was good or carnal or frighteningly sickening. He stalled, limp, and unable to find the urge couldn't, didn't want to, move.
Atemu leant, chin twisting over his shoulder and pressing those thin, hot, lips pushed searing at the bare junction of Yugi's neck. He shuddered. Atemu's steely fingers squeezed his hips and pulled his weight back into the mobster. Atemu kissed, a flickering half light, hot over Yugi's plush cheek, down the arch of his jaw, a pluck along his neck… sighing into his skin as Yugi's fingers curled in the counter and in the lab like this they were two voiceless monsters unable to really…
Atemu's pelvis, his heat, brushed firm into Yugi as his fingers left indents in the dips of Yugi's hip bones under the hemline of his cotton tee. Atemu was straining Yugi felt it, aroused, and sighing behind his ear the man dragged the tip of thick, slimy, tongue behind the curve of Yugi's ear. He hissed, head leaning back and in that flicker of consent something about Atemu's grip changed.
Sinuous, hot, scarred hands skidded round over Yugi's bare stomach to wrap secure round his navel. Possessive. Yugi's fingers tightened another coil in the counter. Atemu's hand fell, firm and present and strange down over the tight top of Yugi's thigh stroking down and dragging up to the waistline of Yugi's worn jeans. Yugi gasped, felt tripping, groping, fingers tangle slipping under the grip of the denim onto his stomach.
Yugi was seventeen. Atemu was considerably older. He lost his voice, gave a tiny gasp, as Atemu's hand slipped under the waistline and deep between his squeezed together thighs over the burning, too hot, slickness of Yugi's own arousal.
Atemu hissed, tight in his teeth and almost silent into Yugi's ear. Held the smaller's waist, arched his own hips and his own cock into Yugi with intrinsic intention and biting his lips Yugi bruised his knees together as Atemu's hand, uncaring, stroked between his tight knit thighs.
Yugi shuddered. Atemu squeezed, ground into him, and silently hidden in plain view Yugi was so painfully aware that their tiny monster could come back any second. This man was practically…but Yugi didn't know him at all… He dug his teeth harder into his bottom lips felt his eyes close again.
Good, bad, frightening and sickeningly gooey-wrong hot-
Clawed feet pattered back over the tiles. Atemu froze, inhaled, and hands slipping finally released Yugi's uncertain body to pretend briskly that nothing had happened. Atemu cocked his head over his shoulder and clucking his tongue began to congratulate his little monster for fetching the required object he then deposited in his breast pocket despite how the creature had chewed on it during the totter back.
Atemu's toys arrived the next morning in boxes. There were there when subject thirteen woke in bed next to Yugi. He had squawked, pattering back and forth in the hallway, and bouncing on his toes at the end of the bed had tugged the blankets to stir Yugi to the excitement.
Atemu had sent an assortment, broad and educational and shiny-new impressive in thick cardboard boxes and, once he had finished exploring the boxes, subject thirteen had played with them.
At two months old Yugi had found himself on the floor in his office next to subject thirteen with a stack of alphabet blocks with a dull clipboard slack in his lap.
"Can you spell dog?"
Twittering in that squirrelly way subject thirteen pushed the bright chunks of hollow wood round on the floor.
D- O- G
"Good boy," Yugi praised, voice pitching up and cooing the creature was pleased. Yugi's hand drifted through its thick hair, now just like Atemu's, and pulling it in kissed its temple fleetingly. "What's my name?"
Y- U – G- I
"How do you spell Atemu's name?" He proffered.
A- T- E- M- U
"Yeah," he clucked his tongue, "can you show me another one?"
It swished its tail, thumping it with a thwack against the tiles. Like the rest of him it too had gotten bigger. Yugi couldn't watch him eat in close proximity any more. Watching him hunt chickens, or badgers or anything else was…even on camera… Yugi shuddered and forced a new smile.
Yugi coughed, laughed.
"You are so smart." He felt breathless.
It grunted and keening in the back of its throat pushed its fingers against Yugi's upper arm.
"What?" Yugi posed gently, squeezing the tiny sharp digits that grew every day.
"Hnn," it pointed to itself, grunting.
"I don't…?" Yugi mumbled, shaking his head. No. Don't do this to me.
"Hnnn," it groaned, pointing to itself and then, humph-ing, at the blocks.
"You?" He pointed to the creature's little wing boned chest.
It nodded jerkingly.
"What about you?" Yugi swallowed tightly. It whined. "I don't know what you want Sweetie. Show me?"
It gathered up the blocks, turned them over carefully in its hands and propping them down lined them up carefully trying to find the right phrase.
No, please don't…
Name, it posed looking to Yugi, what's my name?
It was self-aware. Like an ape, conscious of self as an entity. Highly intelligent. Dangerous.
Yugi's throat was burning.
"I-I don't…" he coughed, "you don't have one sweetie."
"Hn," it grunted.
"You want one?" Yugi supposed.
"Well…" he laughed breathlessly, "what should your name be?"
It looked down to the splay of plastic and gathering all the blocks together looked to Yugi to help it bring all the final letters into its little reach. It could've been six now or seven if it had been human.
It made two piles, tossed letters one way and with both hands placed individual blocks to the other side with supreme, little boy, focus. A, T, Y, M, U, E, G, I…
Yugi's stomach locked behind his navel. Understood.
Moving them, it twittered.
It tilted, looked to the others in its pile and grasping carefully scrapped the shiny plastic on the tiles in what seemed to Yugi gut splitting slow motion. Yugi didn't want to watch this, didn't want to know this thing was… could love him, could… he felt a sting inside him.
Y- A- M- I
It looked to Yugi, cooed curiously, tail swishing. Yugi forced himself to smile past the glimmer glassing up his eyes.
"Heh," he laughed brokenly, "Yami?"
It purred gutturally.
"Yami's a good name." Yugi decided. "You like Yami?"
"Okay," he consented, "you hungry?" His hands came out to wrap the child up even though he was too heavy to really carry now. Yugi had to hold him for a second. "Let's go have cake."
1 I'm certainly not a doctor or a scientist or anything like that. This is all based off knowledge I have to the best of my ability.
2 Some inspiration for this came from the epic sci-fi movie Splice which is amazing.
3 The letters Yami picked to choose his name from were ATEMU andYUGI.I loved the idea of the experiment choosing its name as a composition of the names of the only two people it knows; essentially its Mother and Father.
Part 2: the second half is completely written and finished~ I expect to release it on about Saturday next week but depending on if I have to move apartments and how long editing takes it may not come out for a fortnight. (A week is more likely right now!)
Hope you enjoyed!