When teaching of numbers there are some truths
Numbers and ranks, rank to the person. Such he could have been taught. The redundant coulbd have dovetailed with compliance. He could have been given lists and facts without reasons and whys. Intellectual regurgitation, the stuff fit for drones.
“Or standardized tests.” The older scientist had spat.
A theft of sorts (or so the younger claimed, though it wasn’t the truth) got them something soft. It was long, grey-green in age. It sported a span of lumpish coils, felt fangs, and a forked red tongue.
Softly singular, it was rubbed by wondering hands.
“See,” at the sound of his voice the unnamed boy looked up, blue eyes wide. “The texture is different.” It was hard to understand if that nod was in response of simply because.
Feeling neither optimism nor pessimism he took it neither way.
A frown flicked across the child’s face when his hands were guided by his elders and he put the toy down. Simply content to acknowledge this as potential progress he took one of those now flaccid hands in his own and murmured one word.
No response, at least to verbal commands. A tug was all it took for the boy to half stagger out of his stool. Fine motor control took months to master, so the lack of grace was expected. Another tug and the boy got the hint and kept pace.
It wasn’t a long journey.
“We’re walking around a table. What your fingers touch is a table. It’s smooth, wood. There is one table in this room. The item you almost knocked over was a stool. There is only one stool. That which lay on the table is a stuffy… How many stuffies, child?”
“Mmm…” Clearly speech development was sub par. Still, those sky hued eyes were riveted on the speaker’s face where on other journeys they’d flicked about with a near fearful awe.
“One table.” Zexion reiterated. “One room. One stuffy. One stool. One you. One me.” He gestured to each item turn by turn. “One.”
“Uhhh uhhhnn..” Near repetition, phonic experiment, or communication attempt? He couldn’t tell.
“One. One table.” A touch, no tug, this time. The shuffle resumed a mite quicker. “One table, which you walk around.” Flaccid hand in his own he laid it upon the table’s edge. “We’re walking around a table. What your fingers touch is a table. It’s smooth, wood. There is one table in this room. The item you almost knocked over was a stool. There is only one stool. That which lays on the table is a-“
A shock that, and a jolt. One grip lost. Then surprise passed.
“Stuff-ee.” Zexion corrected. Producing a twitch of the lips he tagged on a weary. “Good first try though.”
And for that effort, the boy met one with one of his own. Producing a twitch, the younger Nobody flashed a weak smile at his leader.
“Now.” Loose grip on wrist, another touch and step back was all that was needed, the younger shuffled after him. “What your fingers touch is a table…”
Two wasn’t a problem, once the Nobody was able to list everything in room one a nap was the reward. A much needed one if the blonde Nobodies gapping yawns were anything to go by. Lab two was emptied, sans two tables, two chairs, two beakers and the like.
Not that there was a working theme for these elementary days.
Once everything was in place they lingered. Scientist’s one and two. Side by side in stool one and two, the taller sprawled, the shorter hunched. Considering the elders back their postures might have been a deliberate rebellion against expectation, but it wasn’t.
Deliberation on that level wasn’t on their minds, not yet, not now.
Later days perhaps.
But for now they gathered and sat. Flushed with the odd exertion and sore but refusing to admit it. The taller of the pair raked lank blond locks out of his eyes. It was another turn about, as the younger normally was known for that little nervous twitch. In the following silence, (oblivion always was, and as they sat on its very cusp such was there norm as well) both caught breath and composure. Weighing cause and clause and old association.
Finally the elder spoke.
More crackle than laugh. It was all the eldest had. One explosion with mild acids, inhale, and the world thinks you the villain forevermore.
That choice bit of stupidity caused them both friction with the world beyond their labs.
“Try for truth this time.”
Nursing beaker one his thoughts went no deeper than the obvious. The beakers would have to be cleaned out and their not so legal drink squirreled away so no new Nobodies made any untoward discoveries. Too much alike, the oldest and eldest scientist, for their thoughts were the same.
Lips quirking, the elder blond snorted.
It wasn’t distrust that made them quiet, or stilled the older Nobodies tongue. Distrust wasn’t a factor considering… everything.
Caution however wasn’t beyond them. In truth both held to it more than anything else.
“Scheming a mile a minute?”
Not quite an answer that. So eye for an eye…. “Mmm,” Zexion took a page from his test subjects book in articulation.
Vexen laughed at that, laughed till his throat clamped, and he coughed.
Setting his glass, half full, the Schemer slid it from hand to hand then slugged it like a shot. Bitter, that stuff, so bitter. “No… no schemes.”
“Good.” Slender hands twiddled his glass. Hoarfrost sprouted at each ungloved caress. “Now that we’ve foregone the justification stage, let’s resume our pursuit of reason. Unless you’d like to stop over at denial first?”
Another cackle then a crackle cut off any other repartee. Some chewing and a muffled curse came from the elder Nobody. Clearly the taste of their indulgence got stronger after freezing and the buzz diluted.
Gaze drawn to nothing in particular, the younger studied the floor. White. As were the walls, and the tables, and all the rooms in this wretched world.
“Dolls.” He finally breathed. He…Number one… he left us scattered in corners after…” After we died and were reborn, that part didn’t need to be said. It was something they both shared. “After, like a pile of broken dolls. Enraptured by corners, unable to walk, move, think, feel.”
The crunches had slowed, stilled, then with a grimace all his own the older spit his indulgence back into his cup with a grimace. Still grimacing he muttered. “Not again?”
“Never again.” Zexion hissed.
“Hmm...” Setting down the chunk of ice, the older stroked stone for a span, setting mini icicles to sprouting. “I’ll inform Aeleus these developments, that way the oversized hero can move furniture or us like a good little gallant.” Tugging on his earlobe with chilly fingers the Academic considered internal vistas. “One… would not approve. He wants complete contact with any new made Nobodies of… significance.”
All the better to squash out those new born traits, like curiosity, personality, and the like. He’d done his best to do so with the original apprentices. Only their memories had saved them, memories and solitude due to negligence was all that had allowed a handful to recover.
And One hated it. Hated them. It was a fact acknowledged by the thinning of those sunset eyes, re-enforced when those aristocratic features twisted into a sneer. When he sighted any of the six, or any of those made after acting human… there was hate, and bitterness, and murder in those eyes.
“I’ll of course supervise section two myself.” The older Nobody cracked open one green eye. “Run my own tests and the like.”
The start was impossible to suppress. Vexen cackled at the younger’s response.
“Once you’ve verbalized your results, thus far, number six. After all, we wouldn’t want to step on each other’s toes in this. It would ruin the integrity of the results if we both ran the same tests, wouldn’t it?”
“No paperwork?” Tentative came the last. Vexen was normally obsessive about documentation.
“I’d like to minimize the evidence.” Came the tetchy reply. Clearly this break in protocol was irritating the older Nobody. Zexion smiled, a wider grin more familiar on Ienzo’s face than his own.
“No paperwork.” The younger almost sang it.
“Oh, rest assured brat,” Vexen stood, stool scraping. “I’ll keep you busy apprentice, very, very, busy. And with Aeleus in on this.. you won’t have time to breathe, much less scheme, when I’m done with you.”
“But it’s for science.” Zexion murmured. “So how’s that bad?”
Recalling that said… about other things. Other madness’ that lead to darkness with eyes, and claws, and hunger, Vexen. Should have shivered, would have, nay sane man would have.
If he could have.
There was a little matter of having no heart to consider in all this after all.
Confusion, wide eyes, no words. Not whole words anyway. Not yet.
Those would come last.
Sill, for all that would come, there were descriptors aplenty.
Tall, skeletal, stooped, green eyes, scraggly blond hair. He’d late contrast scraggly to
spiky and think of noodles when considering the older Nobodies hair.
Wisdom, later gained, would prevent him from speaking about the last analogy.
He’d confined it to one soul, one Schemer, but the thing about Schemers is that they kept secrets and kept them well.
So that secret of sorts, was safe.
But now, before confidence, and words and understandings, there were bits and pieces. Bit’s he’d have to learn, before Before could really begin.
“People have names.” Wide eyes flicked back to the shorter person. The person from room one. The Familiar. He wasn’t speaking, the taller Other was. The one who spoke of Names. “We are not people, we are Nobodies. The coagulation of a rending of dark and light.”
Confusion, clearly. The one from before frowned, shook his head, mouthed two words. Too fast. To that the older grimaced.
“We have no names. Only titles. We aren’t people, only potential. And since I don’t know you yet, you can’t have a title, not now. Titles are for later.”
Another grimace, for one who hated to repeat himself, this was going to be the ultamite torture.
“Now, take my hand.”
Hand offered, gloved as was before. To that familiar prompt the unnamed Nobody obliged with picking up the pattern he jerked at contact, shuddered, and his hand pales and riled with goose bumps at the light touch.
“Cold.” The scientist rasped his script. “I am cold. My hands are cold. My hands make you cold. You are in a room. Four walls, a ceiling a floor, such is a room. The wall are white. There are two tables, two stools, two people.” Oozing his hold before frost burn set in he guided the child who was not by tugging on his sleeve. Settling the boys hand on the table, Vexen sighed. “On the table…”
To that firm denouncement the elder sputtered to a stop.
Mouthing syllables h played with phonons until revelation stopped him cold.
It didn’t take a genius to understand the barely articulated. One me. Sounds made that firmly couldn’t be anything less than a statement.
And considering.. everything… such a statement was also a defiance.
Quite the defiant defiance.
But then… weren’t they all indulging in such?
“Yes.” A touch breathless Vexen conceded the point. “Yes, there is only one of you.”