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Trey ([personal profile] trey) wrote in [community profile] toku_holidays2014-12-15 06:18 pm

Inward and Outward [Go-Busters fic, Enter/Hiromu, AU]

Title of the work: Inward and Outward
Rating of the work: Teen and Up/PG-13
Recipient of the work: aethernity
Series the work is for: Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters
Spoiler warnings: None applicable! This is a pure AU!
Any warnings/kinks/advertisements: Warnings for a little bit of body horror and a touch of clinically described gore (broken bones and some blood).
Notes: aethernity specifically requested a lack of abuse, but Enter and Hiromu don't lend themselves to that in their canon, so I decided to head into the wilds of an Alternate Universe. I hope that's okay! Also featuring some good old fashioned petty soul mate bickering, as requested! Happy Holidays, aethernity, I hope you enjoy the fic!!

...The most well-known and popular use of Sakurada's AI tech is the ARAI – Automated Robotic Artificial Intelligence. These personal assistant AIs can undertake many tasks to ease the daily lives of their users.

As technology evolved, Sakurada Tech then began to explore an exciting new concept, later known as the SCAI program- Shared Consciousness Artificial Intelligence. The SCAI program was instrumental in the human victory over extra-dimensional invaders in World War T...


Hiromu was bored out of his mind, but he had to sit through the entire seminar if he was going to qualify for the program. And he needed to qualify for the program.

Commander Kuroki’s eyes kept landing on Hiromu as the seminar went on and on. Hiromu noticed, and wondered what he was thinking.

“The SCAI tech is still extremely experimental, but there is also a lack of negative side effects even in the event of SCAI upload failure. The hardware has been extensively tested and shows no signs of being dangerous to the hosts, or even being subject to random rejection. Barring extreme circumstances, that is. Such as allergies.” Jin was clearly trying to make it sound like he wasn’t just reading off cards. A bit of a trick, since he was clearly just reading off cards, or papers at least.

Jin had taken over the project after Hiromu’s dad died. Ironically, or maybe not, it had been an Opposition virus that had killed him in the end. If the tech had been finished sooner, maybe an AV-SCAI could have saved his life. Either way, it wasn’t Jin’s first choice of what department to work in, and that much was obvious to anyone who knew him even a little bit. Which Hiromu did- as did a few of the other recruits.

“You say the hardware shows no signs of failure. But what about the software? The programs themselves?” Iwasaki Ryuuji was another one of the recruits that Hiromu recognized from his childhood. Older than Hiromu by a few years, he was someone else Hiromu would not have pegged for joining this particular program, or department even. Maybe he had other motives or reasons, personal ones. Like Hiromu did.

“There’s no reason to believe that the programs will be dangerous to the hosts.” Jin said after a moment, but it was less awkward than when he read off the papers in front of him. Clearly this time he wasn’t just reading the party line, it was time for him to talk about stuff he actually knew about. “But that’s why you guys are the test group.” He shrugged a bit helplessly, but he had a glimmer in his eyes that belied his amusement. “That’s what all the release forms are for.”


Hiromu fingered the port idly, thoughtfully. He probably wasn't supposed to touch it yet, less than an hour after waking from general anesthesia, but he healed quickly even without the benefit of the AV-SCAI. It didn't hurt, and he wasn't likely to get sick from infection either. Anyway, that was the point of the procedure in the first place.

If it worked as advertised, Hiromu would possibly never get ill again.

He was surprised by how small the port was, as he traced the shape with his finger. The hardware itself was cutting edge, and he'd of course been shown the entire, fully deployed, device during the seminar. It was one of the only parts of the seminar he'd really paid any attention to. Hiromu didn't really need the boring legal information, he was ready to sign all the necessary release forms before they'd even been written up and finalized. His father had been the head designer and developer in this project, after all. He absolutely trusted his father's memory. Maybe it was propaganda that led him to believe that Sakurada Tech was the best line of defense, the only chance to win this war. But he did believe it.

The surface area of the port itself was minor, barely the width of one of Hiromu's fingers, and just a little bit thinner. It was tiny compared to the length and breadth of the wire net that now lurked unseen beneath the surface, carefully tied into his own biological neural network. Once the hair that had been shaved to facilitate the surgery grew back, it would be entirely hidden, right in the hollow at the base of his skull.

He didn't feel any different, but that was to be expected- the program hadn't been loaded yet.

He had two scheduled days for recovery and acclimation before the upload.

Then Hiromu would meet the artificial intelligence antiviral program that would be responsible for safeguarding his life.

The first thing Hiromu noticed during the upload and initialization process was a sensation of vertigo that he was almost sure didn't actually belong to him. Obviously the sheer concept of having mass and taking up physical space must be a little disorienting for what he knows is essentially a glorified, if personified, computer program.

"Neural link reading at 65%." Jin looked over from his computer terminal. "Enter, can you confirm oral/verbal control?"

"Oui." Hiromu's mouth formed the foreign word without his input, and the sensation of vertigo became his own very abruptly. He wet his lips, then spoke in his own accent. "He's French?"

"His programmer was." Jin smirked, then addressed the AI again. "Enter, please confirm visual cortex access by telling me how many fingers I'm holding up."

Hiromu's eyes moved to track Jin's hand, and his mouth wrested control again. "Trois."

Jin nodded, making a few notes on his clipboard. "Neural linkup complete. How do you two feel?"

Hiromu figured by the annoyingly smug look on Jin's face as he looked up that he knew what was about to happen... and that he had probably he framed the question in such a way as to cause this exact response on purpose. The verbal equivalent of a major two car crash, as Enter attempted to answer "Ça va" in the same moment and motion that Hiromu tried to say "Fine".

There was a pause, then Hiromu felt the words in his mind, as if he was talking to himself. Je suis désolé, followed by a lengthy string of rapid French that he couldn't hope to parse into individual words, never mind understand.

It was a strange sensation, sharing his mind and body. But it was not, he was finding, an unpleasant sensation.

He just needed to figure out how to update Enter to speak a language he understood.


Hiromu enjoyed the training seminar a lot more than he’d enjoyed all the information dump leading up to the procedure itself. He was getting to know Enter pretty well by now, once he’d had his programming updated to keep him from speaking French exclusively (though he still spoke other languages with a distinctly French accent, both inside Hiromu’s head, and when he was using Hiromu’s mouth to do it).

Most importantly, it was interesting to meet the others. Really meet them, not just the other Agents, but their programs as well. Iwasaki Ryuuji was now sharing his body with a program called Heat. There was another program named Sap (Hiromu would learn later that Jin had been the programmer who wrote Sap, before he became the head of the project) and another named, of all things, Lettuce. And a few others besides.

“AV-SCAI are significantly more advanced than any other AI we’ve developed. You all know that- their primary programming is devoted to protecting their partner.” Jin’s doing the 'reading off the pages because I just don’t care anymore now that you’re all hooked up and everything I'm ready to retire' thing again. “They have remote and active access to a number of things that are involuntary, subconscious, and often delayed in the average human- immune responses, blood flow and control, hormone production and circulation…”

He laughed suddenly and spread his hands. “But why the hell would you guys want to just believe me when I say it? I'm not an AV-SCAI. How about we do a real live test. Any volunteers?”

Enter has lifted Hiromu’s arm above his hand before Hiromu had even parsed that Jin had legitimately gone off script, never mind that he was asking a question. He can tell that this was not in the plan, mostly because of the look on Kuroki’s face as he glances at Jin, and then out at the crowd. Kuroki raises an eyebrow at Hiromu’s hand in the air, his expression is equal parts alarmed, concerned, and anticipatory.

Hiromu figures Enter has his own reasons for volunteering them for this- possibly, no, almost definitely he feels he needs to prove himself, after being the only AI that needed to be updated to function properly, to interface with his Agent properly. Hiromu understood that, it made sense to him, and that was more than enough for him to agree with their volunteering.

There was more to it than that, though. Hiromu knew that Enter knew how Hiromu felt about all of this. How he felt the need to prove himself. Even as they stood up in one motion, and stepped to the front of the room to stand between Jin and Kuroki, the rest of the Agents had eyes on him, and most of them had looks on their faces that Hiromu could tell were at the very least appraising, if not outright judgmental. Everyone knew that he was the son of the original developer of the technology, the original head of the project- the man who had died, because he hadn't worked fast enough. Most of them probably figured he was going to get preferential treatment, or maybe that he already had, that he wasn’t actually up to the program.

So, between the two of them, he and Enter both had a lot to prove.

Jin pulled a pocket knife out of his lab coat and flicked the blade open, then held it up and wagged it at Hiromu. “Are you sure about this?”

Hiromu kept his face still as he silently consulted with Enter.

It will be fine, Agent.

Hiromu nodded, as much to Enter as it was to Jin, and held his hand out for the knife.

Kuroki’s eyebrows lifted slightly, but Jin was just grinning, clearly not just surprised but impressed. He put the knife in Hiromu’s hand.

What do you think would be most impressive? Hiromu asks Enter silently.

If you are comfortable, I think a thin cut on the cheek would be incredibly effective. Enter responded, and Hiromu had to agree.

He lifted the blade to his face and dragged the sharp edge along the line of his cheekbone. Someone in the audience, he didn’t notice who, gasped a little. Enter was right, it was very effective.

Hiromu barely felt the trickle of blood start before he could actually feel the clotting begin. He stood still, turned his cut cheek out towards the audience- his peers, the other Agents. Kuroki shifted to one side, looking at him along with the rest of the room. Hiromu cut his eyes towards Jin curiously, but if he expected Jin to actually be showing interest, he was disappointed. Jin’s face was at best mildly curious- a dispassionate, scientific stare.

Still, it wasn’t long, maybe a minute, before Hiromu raised his free hand to his face and rubbed at the place where he’d made the cut. His fingers came away with a very small smudge of blood, but there was no pain. The skin was healed.

How is that, Agent?

Hiromu smiled, and inclined his head. “I think it works.” He said aloud, and then silently, Very well, Enter. And you can call me Hiromu.


Hiromu leaned back against the wall, eyes closed. He wasn’t in control of his breathing at all- he didn’t have to be. Enter was taking care of that, and it was keeping Hiromu from hyperventilating, keeping him from letting the pain override anything. He could still feel it, so far, there was too much damage, too much to do, Enter hadn’t managed to get to triggering the endorphins that would start to sap the pain.

Je suis désolé, Enter kept saying, every time there was a spare moment.

“It’s fine,” Hiromu panted out, swallowing forcibly and purposefully. “It’s really okay, I know you’re doing your best.”

There, finally, the pain began to subside. Enter had finished following the lengthy list of issues that needed to be addressed, as ever in the order that was most efficient to protecting Hiromu, to fixing the problems in whatever order that wouldn’t leave anything influencing anything else negatively. He couldn’t allow Hiromu the comfort of natural painkillers before the rest of the healing process had begun, or he might try to move or shift before he was ready.

Would you like a status report? Enter asked after Hiromu’s breathing had eased and he realized that it was back to unconscious control, feeling natural once more. He was already feeling better, and not just because his hormones had been influenced, important ones ramped up, adrenaline siphoned off. “Yeah,” He said aloud, and his voice didn’t even tremble or shake at all. “Yes, please.”

Two ribs, formerly broken, currently mending. Estimated time until complete heal- twenty minutes. Full range of motion returned in thirty. Enter's voice in his mind was very methodical, and it helped all the more to leave Hiromu feeling confident that they were going to be okay. Hairline fracture in right femur, already fully mended. Several lacerations on the chest and right arm, no longer bleeding. Estimated return of full range of safe motion in twenty minutes.

“This wasn't a great fight for us, huh?” Hiromu coughs out, a little choking laugh.

Not our best showing, no. Enter responded, and he sounded much more tense than Hiromu would ever particularly like to hear him.

“I'm gonna be okay, though. You did good. We did okay.”

You must learn to be less reckless, Hiromu. There is only so much I can do, only so much speed at which I can work.

“It's okay.” Hiromu lifted his arm, squinting at the watch on the inside of his wrist. “You think I'm good to get up?”

I think you maybe don't have a choice. The rest of the squad should be here shortly to facilitate clean up. Would you like me to help?

That was something that probably some of the other SCAI's wouldn't do. Freely, not to mention purposefully, allowing their programs to take complete control. But Hiromu and Enter hadn't been very typical from the start.

Yeah. Hiromu kept his words silent, relinquishing control over each of his limbs. Enter took over, took the initiative to slope their body into a standing position. Across the way, they heard a voice shouting. It was Ryuuji- no. Judging by his body language as he moved closer, it was Heat. Enter and Hiromu shared the frown that crossed their features. Ryuuji was one of those particularly unlikely to allow his program complete control on purpose, Heat had a tendency to be a bit... Unpredictable in battle.

“What happened?” Enter asked aloud, and Heat's gaze lingered on them for a moment, his mouth curling up into a sneer.

“I could ask you the same.” Much like Enter had an accent when he spoke aloud, Heat's voice had a slight static around the edges. A way to identify him, even if his obviously off-putting body language didn't give him away.

“I believe that much should be obvious.” Enter said after a moment's awkward pause. Hiromu lingered in the back of his own mind, observing. What Enter usually did- but with Enter in the front, it allowed Hiromu to take his own perspective on the events unfolding around him, and to do it without bothering to be particularly cautious himself (he did have a tendency to be a bit blunt). And, of course, beyond that, not to have to feel any particular amount of the pain that he was otherwise bound to be in as his bones mended themselves. Enter didn't feel pain in the same way Hiromu did, so this was probably for the best. “Agent Sakurada was badly injured and is currently in recovery. I will be seeing to it that he returns to base safely. And Agent Iwasaki?”

“Knocked out.” Heat returned shortly, and Enter examined his posture carefully. Now that it had been pointed it, it was pretty obvious. A certain limpness of limbs, a drooping at the corners of his eyes. Ryuuji was almost certainly unconscious, and Heat was merely moving his body around. It was definitely one of their programmed responses and to be expected in extreme circumstances, but still. It gave the effect of Ryuuji being much more like a puppet than Hiromu could find it in himself to be comfortable with. For the first time in the past year or so, Hiromu understood why the idea of SCAI's made some people with only a single consciousness uncomfortable.

What do you think? He asked Enter silently. He felt the internal shudder that indicated Enter shrugging noncommittally.

I am not sure. Enter said after a moment, even as Heat clapped one of Ryuuji's hands to their shoulder and Enter took that as an indication that they were ready to move. The rest of the squad was waiting after all. I will keep an eye on them.

Hiromu would have nodded, if it wouldn't have been a bit out of place. Instead he did nothing, but Enter took it as implied.


The war was over, the uniforms hung, medals and laurels displayed on his sister's mantle, instead of on his chest or shoulder, and Hiromu was ready to appreciate the spoils of war. Namely, peace for the first time in his life.

Except for this stupid god damn letter.

It was stark, simple. Military, after all.

Hiromu. Enter's accent grew sharper, more defined, when he was agitated. The problem was that Hiromu couldn't quite tell if the agitation was organic or not- whether he was worried on his own or whether it was Hiromu's anger that had the program sounding strained. You knew this was coming...

"I didn't." Hiromu snaps, and he can feel Enter's version of a thoroughly exasperated sigh- kind of a full body shiver without any actual muscle contraction. That answered that question- Enter wasn't particularly concerned about the contents of the letter, he was, as ever, and true to his programming, worried about Hiromu, concerned with Hiromu's health and well being.

In regards to Sakurada Technology Program AV-SCAI, in absence of the extreme circumstances of war and in anticipation of peace lasting generations, this program has been decommissioned. Agent SAKURADA HIROMU is formally requested to report to AV-SCAI Service and Maintenance Center in Central District by ND 2013-02-08 for complete decommission and removal of tech.

"I'm not doing this." Hiromu tore the letter neatly in half. Enter did the shiver-sigh thing again.

You know they're going to make you. Hunt you down.

I'm not letting them kill you. Usually Hiromu spoke aloud, claiming his status as a SCAI in a way most of the others in the program didn't. Of course, most of the others hadn't been in quite as many battles as Hiromu had, hadn't gotten quite so attached. The fact that he was silent in this moment, communicated his intent to Enter via neural link instead of audible exchange, signified his seriousness. They can't take you away from me.

Of course, the problem with being so devoted to an artificial intelligence was that they tended to be pretty dedicated to their programming. Enter was no exception, and seeing how his primary programming was entirely written around protecting Hiromu, he was chafing a bit at Hiromu's plans to protect him.

In this case, he went about this by keeping up a steady stream of French, which by now Hiromu recognized as almost entirely colorful nursing. It was an attempt to distract Hiromu for long enough to hit the proverbial kill switch, Enter's ability to override Hiromu completely for just long enough to get him to safety in case of extreme circumstances.

Luckily, Enter's curses and Hiromu packing clothes and other essentials didn't count as extreme circumstances by the parameters of Enter's programming.

"Will you stop?" Hiromu says aloud as he drops his bags just inside the door and stops to mentally catalog everything he might need. "I'm not getting rid of you, I'm not letting them tear you out and kill you."

Hiromu, I cannot be killed. I'm not alive.

At least he'd stopped with the cursing. "Delete, then. It amounts to the same thing. We fought this war together, for freedom. You deserve to enjoy it too."

How do you intend for me to do that?

Hiromu didn't even pause before responding. “We’re going to find Jin.”

Enter was surprised enough to lapse into silence, and Hiromu grinned.


Jin had fallen off the grid a few months before the war ended for good- unconditional surrender and all. There was no real telling what had happened to him, because he’d managed to leave absolutely no trace of himself behind.

There were rumors of course. Rumors that he’d died, rumors that he was in hiding, that he’d made too many enemies with his work. Rumors meant nothing, usually, but there was one set that had captured Hiromu’s imagination.

Before the AV-SCAI program was discontinued, Jin had already shifted his focus to a completely different kind of technology. His interest had never been with SCAI tech anyway. He had spent several months researching incredibly intensely into hard light technology, a logical (to him) progression from where the AI technology had already evolved to.

And then he had disappeared.

Hiromu wanted to find Jin, and this entire dream of that kind of control over hard light was now was informing Hiromu’s entire operating procedure.

He wasn’t actually sure when he’d started referring to his own actions with computer and programming terminology, but he was pretty sure it had been before the war ended.

Either way, Enter couldn’t seem to bring himself to argue with him anymore. Hiromu was too intent on this, and if Enter argued with him too fiercely, or made too thorough an attempt to divert him, he would be failing his primary programming in a different way.

Hiromu and Enter shouldn't have been able to find Jin, honestly. Falling off the grid was just that- inaccessible. And if anyone could do it completely, it would be Jin. Hiromu knew that, Enter knew it too, and the important thing was that both of them knew that intrinsically, it was their own knowledge, not knowledge that one had started with and later shared with the other. They each had their own experiences from which to draw, in Jin's labs, in Jin's company, that gave them both all of the reasons in the world not to be able to find him, now that he'd decided that he didn't want to be found.

There were still, somehow, and thankfully, a few holes in his plan, though. For one thing, when he'd disappeared, the war had been ongoing, and anyone who had the capacity to track him down through the course of very small shifts in data and observable behavior would have been completely tied up in the course of the war. Now that the war was over, those that had the ability to find him were free to do it. That was the first thing that gave them an advantage, because the only way to be able to sift the information that would create a path to him like a trail of breadcrumbs were those running SCAI tech, and as far as either of them knew, the government had decommissioned the rest of the squad. Enter and Hiromu were, as far as they knew, the only SCAI left.

So they managed to track him down, and there was no way he could have anticipated for them to, but that didn't stop them from getting just as much a surprise out of the whole situation,

Because Jin wasn't alive.


Hiromu lie down with a sigh, frowning up at the visage of Jin that had definitely not aged in the few years since Hiromu had last seen him. It was obvious now that in all this time he'd perfected the technology that he had insisted would be the replacement to the SCAI tech that he was so obviously disdainful of, at best. Mostly he seemed to want to get all the basics done and out of the way, and then he could go ahead and work on whatever he wanted. He just had to fulfill his contract and then he'd be free.

Jin's obsession had been holographic technology, specifically the development of hard light and solid functional holograms.

And he'd not only succeeded, but somewhere down the line, he'd even created a programmed copy of himself.

“What happened to you?” Hiromu asks after a moment, even as Jin crouches down behind him, or above him, as the case may be. Jin's fingers were solid and all, but they also didn't feel like much of anything but solid. Not hot, nor cold. Room temperature, or close to it, not absorbing or reflecting the heat of Hiromu's own body.

Can we still trust him? There may be some corruption... Enter warned, not for the first time, and Hiromu shook his head reflexively.

“Please don't.” Jin chided, grasping the back of Hiromu's neck with his strangely featureless fingers and holding him still.

Hiromu hadn't had anything plugged into the port since the last time Enter had needed maintenance, and that had been before the war ended too.

Did that ever occur to you, Hiromu? Enter asked thoughtfully. If they were not going to continue giving me maintenance, do you think it was always planned to decommission me? Or is there some reason that suddenly forced their hands?

“That doesn't matter.” Hiromu responded. Jin scoffed at him, and Hiromu's eyes tracked up and over to the monitor sitting beside him- which he was now plugged in to. Enter's words were just now fading from the screen, whatever he said to Hiromu was now obviously accessible to Jin as well.

Hiromu wasn't sure if Enter was doing that on purpose or not, whether he was able to keep that from happening. He hoped so, if the conversation got to a point where Jin needed to be excluded, for whatever reason.

“It doesn't matter,” he continued, “Because I'm not letting them decommission you either way. Why do you think we're here?”

Enter fell silent, and Hiromu looked over at Jin again. “I asked a question. What happened to you?”

“I elected that it was high time I transcend the boundaries and limitations of a mortal human existence.” Jin said in a pretentious tone that he was obviously putting on as some sort of a joke. It wasn't very funny, and Hiromu scowled at him to show him so. Jin rolled his eyes and scoffed out a soft laugh and spread his arms with a helpless shrug. “I was dying.” He says finally, and Hiromu could have expected that, but he didn't much like hearing it either way. “I was dying, and I had reached a point where I could not be. This,” He held up his arm, and that was when Hiromu learned about the extent of control Jin's solid-state holograms could be subjected to. He passed his right hand through his left arm, and then back again, this time it stopped his hand, knuckles to elbow. “I was a programmer long before I was an engineer, in fact, I became an engineer to further explore programming opportunities. Programming myself was no problem. Creating this body, so to speak, was no problem. I learned all I needed to combine the two disciplines while I was working on the AV-SCAI program. And so, here we are.”

“Exactly where I need you to be.” Hiromu agreed with a happy nod. Jin blinked at him, and Hiromu put his hand to his head, tapping two fingers on his temples.

“I want you to create one of those, for him. He deserves his own body, he's earned it. I knew you were the one, the only one, who'd be able to give it to him.”

Not bad, appealing to his egocentric nature. Enter said approvingly, and with a fleeting glance to the monitor, Hiromu learned that he could, in fact, control what went through to the monitor and what couldn't.

He looked at Jin again. “Please, I'll do anything.”

Jin stared at him blankly for a moment, then laughed and shook his head. “That's nice and all, and a touching sentiment, but what you ask is nearly impossible.”

“Nearly?” Hiromu pressed.

“I used obsolete physical components to stabilize the connection between the avatar and my consciousness program. There are no more, the devices haven't been in production in years.” Jin spread his hands helplessly again. “I say nearly because there is one very extremely, almost unfathomably risky option. One possibility that could end up going horribly wrong and both of you ending up dead.”

Hiromu would have stood up and pressed Jin back against the wall, but he was still leashed down by the cable plugged into the back of his head. Instead he just fixed Jin with his most serious military grade glare. “What is it?”

“I'd have to take the SCAI web out of you and use it to build him. Like a skeleton for him. I am not a surgeon, technically. But if it went wrong, well, obviously, you could end up dead, or paralyzed. I oversaw the original procedures, but didn't do them myself. I'd be going blind.” Jin laughed again. “And even if I get it out of you properly, if any other part of the procedure fails, I can't put the web back in. You'd be separated from him forever- as good as decommissioned, wouldn't you say?”

“But not deleted.” Hiromu said sharply. “He'd still be conscious, running as a program. Right?”

“I suppose.”

“Then we'll do it. What do you need from me in return?”

Hiromu, non.

“Well, hell.” Jin shook his head. “If this works out, the fact that I can pull it off, in this state especially, will be payment enough.”

“And if it doesn't work out?” Hiromu wanted to be clear, wanted to be sure they both knew what was on the table, going in.

“I suppose we will cross that bridge when it comes. Would you like to start right away?”

“Absolutely. Do you have anesthesia?”

“I do, in fact. In case of emergencies, you understand.”

Hiromu, I cannot allow you to do this. I cannot- I will override you.

“No, you won't.” Hiromu shook his head sharply, and looked up at Jin with a confident grin on his face. “Now, Jin, it's now or never. Let's do it.”


It had been a long time since Hiromu had woken up feeling... so decidedly groggy. Somewhat sick to his stomach, woozy when he opened his eyes, unable to sit up despite his best efforts.

“Slow down there, you're pushing yourself too fast.” Jin's voice came from somewhere outside Hiromu's line of sight, but what he was saying made sense, so Hiromu lay back and let his eyes close again. “You're not SCAI anymore, he's not in there to take care of all your background stuff. You're doing it on automatic like all the boring average humans. So take it easy.”

“Is it okay?” Hiromu asked, his voice rough and scratchy, after a moment's thought and consideration- cataloging his aches, pains, and soreness. It was definitely different, doing that for himself instead of trusting Enter to do it for him. But he had been a functional adult human being for a few years before he'd become one with Enter, so he did still have the knowledge of how to keep himself from being totally hopeless and helpless without an AI taking care of him from the inside.

“I would argue the point that average humans are boring.” Another voice is coming from the other side of the little ramshackle lab, this one is somehow in turns intimately familiar to Hiromu, and completely foreign.

Hiromu blinked his eyes open again, and turned his head slowly towards the strange not-strange voice. There was a computer open there, and the voice was coming from the speakers- that was why it sounded strange. Sort of mechanical and tinny, not at all like Hiromu was used to hearing it inside his head, nor like he was accustomed to it sounding when it used Hiromu's mouth and throat to speak. But the accent was familiar, as was the tone and rhythm, and it was definitely Enter.

Hiromu couldn't help but smile. This was good, it was progress- Enter wasn't inside him anymore, but he wasn't gone. Dead, Hiromu believed he'd be as good as dead if he were to be deleted or left on a disk somewhere without function. It wasn't fair to him- his friend, his best friend, half of his life for the most harrowing years of it.

“How do you feel, Enter?” He asked, his voice still rebelling somewhat, but sounding clearer the more he used it. It was something, anyway. Slower progress than he would have had with Enter, but he'd get used to it soon enough.

“I do not feel at all any longer, Hiromu.” Enter responded with a little mechanical laugh that surprised Hiromu for some reason. Maybe it was the almost glib, unconcerned tone.

Of course, he could be unconcerned now. Enter's programming had been directly superseded by Hiromu's actions, with Jin's assistance. But that meant that he was free of his programming that had led him to protect Hiromu at all costs... Theoretically. At least, there was very little he could do from his current position, and it might be some kind of relief for him. If he was capable of feeling relief.

“Is that okay?” Hiromu asked after a moment. He slowly lifted his head. He was feeling better every moment. Sure, he'd been operating at an extreme speed with Enter's help for years, but he'd nearly forgotten just how resilient the human body was even without assistance. His head was clearing, the light stopped hurting his eyes., and he slowly was able to sit up.

“I am fine, Hiromu. This is a truly unique experience, but not an unpleasant one.”

Hiromu's hand reflexively lifted to the back of his neck, but where the port had been was covered by a bandage.

He turned his head to find Jin looking at him blankly.

“What is it?” He asked.

“You're a pretty remarkable person to begin with, Hiromu, did you know that?” Jin said with a sigh. With the light, conversational tone, you'd almost be able to miss that it was a compliment.

“Thanks. I didn't, but I'll take your word.” Hiromu swung his legs out and then slowly stood up, moving not towards Jin (who, for his part, shook his head and leaned back over his own computer) but towards the computer currently housing and running Enter.

“So, what's the next step?” Hiromu asked after a moment's silence.

Jin glanced up, and grinned. “You shut up for a little while so I can configure this hologram for deployment.”

Hiromu leaned back against the table, and he rested one hand on the keyboard of Enter's computer. He knew the program couldn't feel it, but he imagined he might understand all the same. “I can do that.”


It took longer than maybe Hiromu had been expecting, long enough that at some point he found a removed corner of the lab and a blanket and lie down to get some sleep. He knew enough to know he needed it, and he was well practiced enough to close his eyes and actually get some rest, even if he couldn't actually fall asleep.

As a kid, he'd had trouble falling asleep. Enter had helped with that, when he was a part of him, but he was back to being just himself again.

His body was too wrecked after the surgery and the anesthesia, though, so he actually did manage to fall asleep.

He woke up to a gentle caress to his cheek. Fingertips- not cold nor warm, just four gentle points of room-temperature pressure. Jin, probably? But maybe not, and he opened his eyes slowly to find out.

Hiromu didn't know what he was expecting Enter to look like, but somehow it wasn't like this. The smile that twisted his lips was lopsided, his eyes gentle but dark- an image Hiromu had seen enough over the years. Enter would be crying, if he could, but holograms didn't work that way, obviously.

His hair was kind of long and wavy, dark reddish brown and parted neatly on the left, hanging down long in the front to curl around his eye. He moved his hand down from Hiromu's face and instead grasped his wrist. Hiromu looked down. He had long nails for some reason, lacquered dark grey. Hiromu gripped his arm in return, and reveled for a moment about the fact that he had something physical to hold onto that was Enter- not a computer or anything like that, but actually him, who he was, who he wanted to be. Or so Hiromu hoped, but he figured Jin was enough of a free spirit sort to allow the program to design his own holographic display.

Enter hauled Hiromu to his feet, and his smile widened. “Did you sleep well?” He asked, and his voice sounded... Just exactly like it had sounded inside Hiromu's head, exactly what he was expecting. He smiled back.

“A lot better to wake.” He answered after a moment of consideration. He took in the overall image of Enter- a bit taller than him, dressed in a long grey coat over black pants and a lighter grey shirt. He can't help but laugh a bit, lifting a hand to Enter's cheek, and then moving his fingers to poke at the pair of earrings in his left ear instead. “You could wear more colors, you know.”

“It is fine. I like this.” Enter responded.

Hiromu considered him again, and then leaned against him, putting his arms around Enter's slim waist. Enter's arms closed around his shoulders and they held onto one another for a moment.

“I like this too.” Hiromu sighed, closing his eyes and relaxing.

“I can still take care of you in this way.” Enter said after a quiet moment. “My programming is sound. You're still my partner, I still need to protect you.”

“But this way is better.” Hiromu admitted after a moment.

“You really do prefer me to have my own body?”

“Absolutely.” Hiromu pulled back, just a bit, tilting his head back and then leaning forward again, kissing Enter carefully.

His lips felt much like his fingertips did, like his body and his face, and the rest of him, honestly. Firm and solid, but the same temperature as the air. It was surreal, but it was... A person. A body. Physical, outside of his head and body. Real- not that he wasn't real to begin with. But now Hiromu had something to hold onto, something to... Yes, well, to kiss.

He pulled back again with a little sigh- Enter didn't need to breathe, but he did.

“This way, I can protect you too. We can protect each other. Okay?”

Enter smiled, and the expression sparked in his eyes. “Bien.”

Across the lab, Jin cleared his throat, and when they both turned to look, he rolled his eyes.

“Are you staying here for long, or... should I advise you to get a room for now. Because I feel like maybe this is an intimate moment that I don't really want to be involved in.”
estelraca: (Default)

[personal profile] estelraca 2014-12-16 10:16 pm (UTC)(link)
This is a lovely alternate universe that you created here! I'm not usually one to read Enter/Hiromu, but I like the twist that you put on the AI creations here. It feels like an organic extension of the original story--a tweak and a twist--which is the best kind of AU, in my opinion. What would Enter be like if his main goal hadn't been to support Messiah/conquer the world but instead to protect?

There's some parts of this that would be fascinating to see explored in more detail--the relationship between Ryuuji and Heat, how to coexist with a program that is ostensibly for your protection but is also so very different and dangerous.

Jin's parts were fun, too. I could very easily see him running away to focus on the type of science that he wants to focus on, and it works out very well so far as providing a way to get Enter his own body.

Thanks so much for participating in the exchange! I hope that you had fun and that you enjoy some of the gifts that are posted.