A/N: Trigger warnings: non-consensual drug use, non-consensual lobotomy, emotional abuse and manipulation. Yeah, this is not a happy fic.
He opens his eyes to green overhead lights and a voice calling his name, and once the disorientation wears off, Hinata Hajime wonders why he feels no different than before the surgery.
"That's okay," the scientist who greets him assures, spectacles flashing in a way that almost strikes him as ominous, "That was expected. The first procedure was just preparation—just some chemicals to ease your brain into the process of becoming genius."
His voice is rough when he tries to speak. He coughs and manages to croak out, "Preparation?"
And that causes the scientist to ramble off a long list of terminology that glazes Hajime's eyes over. This is why, he reminds himself in the midst of the babble, this is why he's agreed to the project. Because he's tired of struggling to understand things. Of feeling inferior. In a world which places such emphasis on talent as this world, there is nothing more damning than normality.
"…and of course this is all going over your head," the scientist surmises, chuckling in a way that's just a hair from condescending. "But don't worry, by the end of this you'll know everything in every subject forwards and backwards. I'd wager there'll even be a little you could teach us! For now let's just show you to your room…"
On shaky legs, he follows the scientist down a tangle of identical hallways, until they eventually reach an inconspicuous-looking door. The scientist bends to a nearby scanner, and after a moment in which blue light washes over his face, it beeps and the door opens. Hajime steps in and look around.
The room inside is large, spacious. There's a Western bed in the center, and a door off to the side indicates a bathroom. Someone was kind enough to bring his personal belongings in, his desk and chair and laptop and various books and games, and the way they're scattered around makes the room feel a bit less empty. A bit more lived-in, even if he hasn't set foot in it before today.
The scientist informs him that meals will be brought in periodically, showers turn on in the mornings and evenings, and if he needs anything to just press a buzzer. Then he leaves, the door closing noiselessly. Hajime hesitantly sits on the bed and wonders if Nanami noticed his absence at the fountain today.
After another day of "preparations", they're finally ready to begin implanting talent into him. He's given a robe to change into in the privacy of his room and does so. Then Hajime is escorted into a different room, an operating room like the ones he's seen on television shows. He swallows a sudden bout of nerves as he lies down on the table. These are some of the best doctors and scientists in the world, but there's still a chance something might go wrong, and he suddenly can't quench the thought that he might not wake up at all.
Nearby, the first scientist, who he's learned is the head of this project, is examining something written in a moleskin journal. He snaps it shut with a smile when he notices Hajime watching. "So, what talent would you like?"
"I can pick?" he asks, sitting up, excitement briefly chasing away the fear.
"Of course," is the chuckled answer, "This is all about you, after all! So, what's the first thing you want? We have plenty that might interest a healthy young man such as yourself: Blacksmith, Boxer, Wrestler, Swordsman…"
"Gamer," he instantly responds, thinking of Nanami and her consoles, how she always beat him without trying, how bored she must have been. "I want Gamer."
A blonde eyebrow arches. "Gamer? That's an interesting choice."
Hajime frowns, feeling judged and not liking it. "Is it a problem?"
"Oh no, of course not. It's just unexpected, that's all." The scientist gestures to another lab worker, who starts typing something into the computer. "Booting up data on Nanami Chiaki, as well as past Ultimate Gamers…"
As the beeping of the machines fill the room, Hajime lies back down on the table. He watches people, of a mix of medical and scientific fields, move around. One scientist gently sticks pads attached to wires to his head; another begins to hook him up to machines he doesn't recognize. A nurse swabs down his arm before injecting a large needle into it. That must have the anesthesia to put him under. Absently, he wonders how long it'll…
He's unconscious for two whole days after. That's also normal, he's told; the sudden overload of the new information caused a backlash in his brain's central nervous system, causing him to stay blacked out after the anesthesia wore off. As his brain adjusts to the shock of having more talent, he'll find himself needing less time to recover from the surgeries.
When he wakes up, Hajime asks to try his talent out. Smiling, the scientist passes him a Game Girl Advance, and they must have done some background research or something because Gala Omega loads when he powers it on.
It's easy, blazing through the levels. Hajime marvels at it, marvels at how the thing that once caused him to struggle now easily bends before his will. He instantly breaks his high score. The scientists are whispering, jotting down hasty notes, but all Hajime can think is of how proud Nanami and his parents and everyone who ever knew him would be, how they'd no longer be ashamed to associate with him. Because now—now he's good at something. Now he's special.
He's too weak from the surgery to do a victory dance around his room when he's alone, but he certainly does so in spirit.
He almost wants to turn around and leave, after getting the Ultimate Gamer talent. He only wanted one thing to be good at, after all, and now he's got it. But the scientists point out that he'd agreed to take all talents, and anyways isn't it better this way? To go from a nobody to the hope of the world? To have infinite paths before him, as a talentless person did, while still being able to make a difference, as a talented person did? When they put it that way, it makes sense, and Hajime easily agrees to continue the project.
Again, he dresses in a robe and is brought to the operating room. Again, he's asked which talent he'd like. Unlike before, he doesn't have a definitive idea of what he'd choose, so instead he asks, "What options do I have? I mean—are there any limits?"
"It's probably a good idea to avoid picking anything too large this early," the scientist explains. "So no Luck or Analyst yet, those would cause rather major changes to occur to your psyche. Other than those, no."
It dazzles him. He's never had so many options before. He has no idea what to choose. But he remembers Kuzuryu and Sato and their deaths, his well-meant but clumsy and ultimately futile attempts to figure out what happened to them, and so he asks for Detective.
It's been a while since a Kirigiri—the family honed for Ultimate Detectives—attended the Academy, so the information they have is a bit out-of-date, they warn him. But apparently the Headmaster's daughter is arriving next year, and she's an Ultimate Detective, and they can update the talent if they need to.
Hajime doesn't care if it's not as good as it normally would be. It's still an amazing skill. Unlike last time, he welcomes the surgery when it comes, eager to wake up and try out it out.
His parents are permitted to visit, and are ushered inside his room. They stand judgmentally, as though they were the owners and he the intruder; they examine him with narrowed eyes, and Hajime knows they're searching for traces of his new talent, of his better self, in his face.
"So the surgeries have made you better?" Dad finally asks, studying Hajime as he tears through the final level of Super Mario Bros Deluxe. The sharp tone, the words, the scrutinizing; these are all things he's used to. Sometimes he used to get panic attacks from the pressure and judgement. He doesn't now, fortunately—a sign that he's already stronger than he used to be.
"Yeah," he nods, briefly glancing up from the screen to meet his father's green eyes, identical to his. "They've already given me six talents so far. Gamer, Detective, Housekeeper, Gangster, Therapist, and President." Housekeeper and Gangster he'd chosen to honor Yukizome-sensei and Kuzuryu, Therapist because he wanted to be able to help others struggling with feelings of self-worth someday, President because he'd heard his parents were visiting and wanted something that at least sounded impressive.
"Gangster? That's a talent?" His mother's disbelief is understandable; he'd thought much the same when Kuzuryu talked about her brother being in the academy for that. He hasn't really noticed much of a difference when it came to this particular talent, either. He may be a bit savvier about the underground, but that's about all.
"Apparently, yeah," The victory theme plays, and he shuts the game off. With a sigh Hajime reaches for a different one, partially wondering why he's bothering—he's beaten every game multiple times now, so easily that the fun's gone. He really wishes he could play with Nanami again. Things always seemed more enjoyable around her, and maybe he could ask her how she handled this talent. But the scientists are adamant about no students knowing about him. They'd be jealous, they say. They'd try to jeopardize the project, and Hajime can't let that happen.
"What a disappointing lot of talents to choose," he hears Dad mutter. Hajime doesn't acknowledge him, studying the loading screen as an excuse to not look at the scowl he knows is on his father's face.
"They thought it'd be a good idea to start small and work up to the bigger ones," he mutters instead. "I'll have them all eventually."
"Well, good," Mom nods. "Maybe you can make something of yourself after all."
Hajime silently chastises himself for feeling wounded. He knows his mom doesn't mean it in a negative way. He's just too sensitive, that's all. His parents have always wanted what was best for him—it's why they'd agreed to this. They've always wanted him to be someone special, and he'd deserved their quiet scorn for failing to deliver. "I will. I am."
The days start blurring together. He gets less time in his room, as the scientists start spending more time running tests and performing the surgeries. They've been able to squeeze two, sometimes even three operations in a single day, and his head feels very cramped very quickly, too much fresh talent flooding in. He starts getting headaches, and they put him on medication for it.
Talent isn't all they give him. Their aim is to make as perfect a genius as possible, and that requires a perfect body. They use laser surgery to sharpen his vision to 20/20. They inject his muscles with steroids and other supplements, though by some miracle of science he remains on the lean side. They find a way to lower his metabolism so he doesn't need to eat or sleep as much. They do something to his vocal chords to make his voice deeper and richer so he can sing properly once he gets Ultimate Pop Idol. All sorts of physical augmentations and improvements.
Hajime wonders, briefly, how long this is going to take. If Nanami's still waiting—not that he dares hope she'd waited—but if she is he's left her hanging for quite some time. He mentally offers her an apology and a promise to make it up to her.
He can use some of his new talent to get enough money to take her somewhere nice, he decides. Not a fancy restaurant, she wouldn't be comfortable there, but someplace like one of the newer game arcades. He could make a date of it, maybe even get around to confessing. That thought cheers him up, and he entertains himself for a few hours by imagining the good ways it could turn out. Then his brain starts pointing out all the bad ways it could go, and he stops.
He spins on the balls of his feet, one arm sweeping across his chest, ending the dance with a flourish. No one applauds, of course. He's performing to an audience of his room's walls.
Hajime sighs, dropping to his bed. He's had Ultimate Traditional Dancer for only a few hours now and he's already bored of it.
The doctors have stopped asking him which talents he wants now, instead just giving him whatever they deem fit. He doesn't particularly mind; at this point he just wants anything new, anything interesting. Because each talent he's given is like a Christmas present for a little bit, all shiny wrapping paper and brand new toys, something exciting to be explored. And each talent he explores, he masters quickly. After that it stops being fun, and like a young child's Christmas present is discarded.
It's all just seemed so…dull, lately.
The food they've been giving him has tasted strange, recently. There's something too sharp about the taste, too bitter. He only notices it because it's the first thing that's actually changed in the checkered pattern of his days lately. Part of him prods at that, feeling there's something off there, but it's an errant thought, one he can't quite pin down.
It's probably just an increase in dosage for his migraine medication, he deduces. He's normally in a calm and dreamy state nowadays, and every time he tries to leave, the pain stabs his head viciously, twisting like knives. So he just…doesn't try anymore. Hajime dismisses the matter from his mind, and by the end of the day has forgotten about it completely.
His parents have stopped visiting. It used to be they showed up once a month, and they had, thrice before. But they didn't today, and the scientists inform him they won't be coming by anymore, until the procedure is complete.
Vaguely, Hajime feels as though that should bother him. But he doesn't remember them all that well anyway, so he doesn't really miss them.
The New Year comes and goes, and Hajime has the nagging feeling there was something important today.
He won't learn this until much, much later, pieced together from snippets of gossip and his own deductions. But: there's an accident, a falling-out with someone or another, and a shipment of something is delayed. Coincidentally, around the same time, his food loses the bitter taste. The fog lifts from his mind, and Hajime falls sick.
It hits him hard; it's cold sweat and shakes and feeling so awful he almost wants to die. But with it comes recollection. He's spent the last three days over the toilet in his bathroom, heaving out the empty contents of his stomach, when in a flash he realizes:
His birthday. That's what that 'something important' was, days ago. That's what he'd forgotten. The shock of it briefly drives away the illness he's been having.
And as he wonders how he could forget something like that, he realizes he can't remember his other birthdays. There must have been parties, right? He'd had parents and friends to celebrate with…right? There's an uncertainty there that unsettles him. But then the nausea returns with a vengeance, and he leans back over the toilet.
When he's done throwing up, he presses his head into the cool tile floor of the bathroom and closes his eyes. He digs through his memory and god, there are so many holes in it. How did he not realize before? Everything from before age ten is just a big white blank space. Eleven to fifteen is patchy and spotty, a collection of fuzzy faces and voices and a general sense of being there rather than recalling specific events. Only his high school years are intact, and even they, he realizes with something akin to horror, are starting to get a bit distorted.
Fear grips his body and makes it shake, worse than before. What's happening to him? Why can't he remember most of his life until now? What's happening to him?
Calm down, he tells himself firmly, think logically. You're smarter now, you can do that, right?
Okay. Okay. He takes a deep breath to center himself. Okay. He's fairly certain he never had memory problems before—right? Otherwise he wouldn't feel panicked at this, or he'd have some precautions in place, medicine to help or a journal to leave notes for himself in. Something like that. So this is probably a recent development. He rubs his forehead with a grimace, wishinghe could remember more clearly so he wouldn't be making assumptions.
If this is a recent development, what brought it on? What changes to his lifestyle has he had lately?
There's only been one, and it instantly comes to mind. The Kamukura Project. He'd signed up for the Kamukura Project, and been subject to countless surgeries and operations since. Brain surgeries. Isn't it possible, then—
He stares at the wall opposite, a chunk of ice settling in his belly. He needs to know what's happening in those surgeries.
He'd been briefly relieved from the surgeries to recover from his mysterious illness, which he's starting to suspect is withdrawal of some kind. His mind has never been clearer, and the dots are easy to connect now. But still, he can't leave, not without answers. So when they approve him for the next surgery and bring him in, Hajime asks, "Can I have Ultimate Neurologist next?"
The scientist tapping away at the computer pauses, a flash of surprise on his face. Hajime knows why; it's been a while since he asked for a specific talent. It's been a while since they offered, he recalls with a jolt. Something that hadn't struck him as worrisome at the time, but now…
"Let me talk it over with the others," the scientist says, recovering, and trots over to the other side of the room. Hajime can't help but think, suspicious, you never had to before.
The man taps the chief scientist on the shoulder and begins whispering. Either they don't realize just how much sharper his hearing is now—comes with Ultimate Musician—or they don't care, because Hajime can still pick up snippets of their hushed conversation from across the room.
"…subject's display of abnormal behavior? Been a while since he asked for anything of his own accord…"
"…be fine. It's probably just temporary. Give the subject what he wants. No reason to arouse suspicion until we can obtain…"
Too late, Hajime thinks resentfully, followed by And I have a name. That feeling in his gut is only growing stronger, warning him to just get out now, there's blood in the water and the sharks are nearby.
The scientist returns, smiling broadly, but now that his mind isn't clouded anymore, Hajime can see just the edges of falseness in it. "Alright, we'll get around to it. Ultimate Neurologist, you said? Inputting the data from Matsuda Yasuke and past people of his talent…"
He wakes up with a fresh breath of horror in his lungs.
Because he knows, now, he knows how the brain works, its intricacies and syntaxes and nodules. He knows the different parts, the cerebrum and the brainstem and the cerebellum. He knows how to manipulate those parts to get the results he wants.
He knows what parts of the brain are responsible for memories, and how those memories can be blocked off. And he knows this is what is being done to him. His thoughts, memories, feelings, likes, everything that makes Hinata Hajime Hinata Hajime, are being pushed to the darkest corners of his mind. Cordoned off. Erased. Why? Because it interferes with his brain's ability to store talent?
Or because they don't want him able to think for himself?
He barely pays any mind to the after-surgery examination, stumbling back to his room like a drunkard. He collapses on his bed, eyes wide and breath coming in heavy as fear overwhelms all else. He's distantly aware that he's dangerously close to hyperventilating. But how can he not be?
They are erasing him, and he'd agreed to it!
No, that's wrong, he thinks, anger surging up and blasting away the panic. He'd looked over the contract carefully before signing it. There had been mentions of him possibly getting personality changes from the project, and he'd been willing to risk that. But there hadn't been anything about a damned lobotomy. There hadn't been anything about drugging him—because that surely was what the bitter taste in his food was, drugs to keep him from realizing what they were doing to him—into complacency. That can't be—that isn't—legal.
For a moment he wants to call the police. But—his phone, it had been the one thing they hadn't given to him, the one thing they'd asked him to turn over. For security reasons, they'd said. So you can't call for help, he now realized they'd meant.
Even if he did have a phone, or got one off his captors, would anyone listen? Would anyone believe him? This is Hope's Peak Academy. The golden standard of the world. No one would ever believe they would do something like this. He hadn't believed it up until now, and he was living in it. And even if they did, the Academy would wiggle out of it, just like they had Kuzuryu and Sato's murders. All they'd have to do was slip over a bunch of money on the side, and his pleas would be ignored.
The thought of asking the Academy to let him withdraw makes him want to laugh. If they were so…selective, in their writing—if they'd deliberately downplayed what they would be doing to him—it's highly unlikely they'll permit him to just walk away and leave, or withdraw his consent. So he needs to do something else.
He doesn't know how long he has until their next shipment of drugs arrive and they start slipping it into his food again. But he usually gets a day of recovery from the surgeries before they throw him into the next. So, he uses that free day to prepare himself as best he can. On the dawn of the second day, he presses the buzzer for assistance. As usual, a pair of guards open the door, ready to help him. They aren't expecting trouble—why would they? After all, he's been so compliant all this time.
He is not compliant now. Hajime waits by the door, and the moment it opens he leaps forward, slamming a palm into the first man's face. Cartilage crunches beneath his hand as the nose breaks, and the guard lets out a garbled scream. Hajime delivers a chop to the windpipe, and he collapses, unconscious.
The second is too surprised to react as Hajime wheels on him, fumbling for something on his belt. But right before Hajime knocks him out with a ringing blow to the head, the guard finds whatever he's looking for and presses a button. As the guard falls, alarms start to ring overhead, lights flash red, and Hajime takes off running.
What's the way out of this place…? He can't remember. All he remembers is the path he walks to the operating room, day after day. Goingin the opposite direction sounds as good as anything—and logically, in the event of an escape, making the areas familiar to him away from this complex's entrance is a smart move.
He's been running straight all while contemplating this, but up ahead is the crossroads where they usually turn left. This time, he goes right—and there are a squad of soldiers running towards him as well.
The soldiers skid to a halt, as startled as he; but then their training kicks in, and they raise their guns. A part of his mind recognizes them as tranquilizers, and Hajime is almost overwhelmed by the rush of calculations his mind automatically makes, judging the likely angles they'll hold the guns at, the likely paths and speeds of the darts, the possible ways to avoid them.
And yet, that's all supposition, because in the precious seconds it takes them to aim—in the span between one flash of red light and the next—he's already rushing them.
How slowly they seem to move! How clumsily they seem to fumble their shots, darts whizzing past him! How predictable their movements are! He weaves through their blows with ease, eyes narrowing in on different spots to strike as his brain feeds him information on how much pressure he would apply at this speed, how much damage he would inflict, how different the results would be if he went in at this angle or this one. It's like the HUD of a video game, one where the enemies are incompetent grunts and he's on god mode.
Mere seconds later, they lie unconscious on the ground, and Hajime keeps moving. Got to get out, got to escape…
He follows his gut. Straight. Left. Left again. Soldiers, their backs to him, taken down easily. Running again. Frustration builds at the repetitiveness of these halls. Stairs, windows, he needs stairs or windows, where are they—
Wait. This hall, for some reason it gives off a familiar feeling. Did he pass through it when they first brought him here? Maybe. Excitement fills him; there's an open door ahead, and he can see light—
It slams shut while he's inches away, with the mechanical click of a lock sliding into place, and he curses quietly. He doesn't see a panel for him to hack the lock with and he doesn't know if he has the strength to rip the door down, but there's a glass window, just large enough for him to look through. Visible through it are shadowy figures, peering at him with surprised eyes.
"Help me!" he shouts, banging on the door. "Help me!"
"What is this?" one of them says sharply to the man next to him—the chief scientist. The words are distorted by the glass but still audible to his superhuman ears. "That boy—you said he was docile!"
"Apologies, sir, he just hasn't had his medicine recently, and we haven't finished suppressing the original personality yet…"
"My medicine?" The outrage leaves him almost unable to speak. "My drugs, you mean!"
"Well, hurry up and solve this," the stranger—who Hajime now recognizes as one of the Steering Committee—snaps, ignoring the furious teenager. "We're putting a lot into this project, we can't have it going out of control."
Hajime's jaw grinds. These bastards…! But he can tell yelling is pointless, and so he punches through the window, sending the people on the other side stumbling back in alarm. Glass shards dig into the skin of his knuckles, leaving smears of blood on the doorframe, but Hajime barely notices the pain, overcome by his franticness to escape. His hand scrambles for a door handle, a button to push, something.
He's made a mistake, he realizes too late. The chief scientist, overcoming his fright, runs forward, grabs Hajime's wrist and slams it against the door. The other people with him cotton on and join, all holding down one arm. Pinned, Hajime struggles to tear free even as his ears pick up more footsteps coming up behind him. He swears, craning his neck to see more soldiers aiming tranquilizers. Panic swells; he wildly casts about for something to shield his body with, but his arm is pinned and he can't move—
Pricking. That's what doom and despair feel like. The little pricking of darts against his skin, anachronistically painless for all the pain they promise. The desperate fear gives way to sheer panic, and Hajime screams. He tries to give one last heave of his arm, maybe if he's lucky he can break free, break the door down, and just get out—
He is not. He is pinned, unable to fight the slowly-building heaviness in his limbs. It seems to take forever and no time at all. Hajime's eyes water. No, no, I can't black out, I can't, I cant—
It'll be okay, he reassures himself later as he lies on his bed, staring at the ceiling. The gild on his cage has been peeled away; everything in his room, all the games and toys and books, was taken while he was unconscious. There's only the bed left. He's searched the room top to bottom for a way out and found none, and he'd wager they'll be hyper-vigilant about his dosage from now on. He is well and truly trapped.
It'll be okay. I don't know how, but it'll be okay. I just need to endure this until the project is over, right? Then I'll be free to go. I just need to keep myself until then.
It's an empty promise. There's too much being stripped away too fast, but he needs to try. So he prioritizes what parts of himself to keep. He carefully wraps up the most important bits, locks them inside a safe deep in his mind, and chants the words to himself until he's certain they won't be lost.
My name is Hinata Hajime. I was born January 1st. I like kusamochi and hate sakuramochi. I'm in love with my best friend, Nanami Chiaki. I was tricked into this project because I wanted to have a talent.
Another operation done. This time four in a row. He can't even remember which talents they gave him; they're all just blending together in his warped perception of reality.
His initial assessment was correct: the scientists are more vigilant than ever around him. Now they flood his room with sleeping gas before fetching him, and inject him with sedatives and dissociatives and depressants while he's unconscious. To keep him from worrying too much, they say, back to faking affability. To stop him from planning another escape, he knows they really mean. His emotional and cognitive states are numbed to the point of almost non-existence, and he can't even muster up the energy to be annoyed at it.
This is what his days have become now. Detachment and surgeries and waiting for it all to end.
But still, even in the midst of being so drunk on a cocktail of drugs he can barely register his surroundings, Hajime manages to repeat his mantra over and over, the evidence that he still exists providing a bit of comfort as he drifts off to a fitful sleep.
My name is Hinata Hajime. I was born January 1st. I like kusamochi and hate sakuramochi. I'm in love with my best friend, Nanami Chiaki. I was tricked into this project because I wanted to have a talent.
My name is Hinata Hajime. I was born January 1st. I like kusamochi and hate sakuramochi. I'm in love with my best friend, Nanami Chiaki.
My name is Hinata Hajime. I was born January 1st. I'm in love with my best friend, Nanami Chiaki.
My name is Hinata Hajime. I'm in love with my best friend, Nanami Chiaki.
My name is…my name is…
The boy doesn't blink when the scientists inform him it's time for the final operation. He doesn't protest or scream or cry. Zombie-like, he slowly sits up from his bed and follows them down the hall at a shuffle, the prisoner travelling to the electric chair. He doesn't resist at all when they begin to strap him into a pod, sticking pads to his forehead and taping wires to his wrists.
His cooperation isn't a result of drugs anymore. The scientists have stopped giving him them—there isn't any point. He has no real will left, no fire to fight back with. They, along with everything else, have been surgically removed; even the withdrawal had barely gotten a reaction out of him. Only one thought runs through his splintered mind:
Nanami, that's her name, don't forget it. Nanami, Nanami, Nanami…
He's already made the calculations, and he knows this final procedure is going to finish what the scientists started. And the small part of him that can still feel is terrified. He has nothing left except these final fragments, a single girl's name and memories of his time with her, growing blurrier at the edges with each wipe. The boy doesn't know if she'll survive this operation, and what will happen to him if she doesn't? What becomes of a person when you strip away everything they have? Will he just stop existing? That seems the most probable outcome.
Her name, it's Nanami, Nanami, Nanami…
He can't have always been like this, he's hypothesized, because no one is born like this. The boy thinks he recalls having a name once, but he doesn't remember what it was; it slipped away from him in the middle of the night with a quiet little sigh, forever beyond his reach. He doesn't try to recover what he lost. He doesn't have the will for that. Instead he just clings to these last pieces of himself, chanting her name over and over like she's a goddess and he's having a religious experience.
I have to remember. Nanami, Nanami, Nanami… I have to remember!
The pod closes. The tubes start to feed him anesthetic. As the boy feels himself go under, he tightens his grip on those memories of that pink-haired girl and her smile, of afternoons playing games by a fountain, of laughs and confided worries and secret, stolen glances. Of shyness and wanting to touch her hand and never mustering up the courage. Of the small flame of happiness warming his chest when he was around her. Of wanting to be good enough to be around her.
In the final moments before blackness swallows him, one last spark of personality rears its head. I will live the life I want to lead.
I will become the hero of my own story.
I will become someone I can be proud of around Nanami.
He opens his eyes to green overhead lights and a voice telling him his new name, and for the fraction of a second, before apathy sets in and he stops caring, Kamukura Izuru wonders why he feels like he's forgotten something important.
A/N: There are 211 days between September and March, which is the month range Hajime was experimented on. Hence where the number of the days come from.
I don't even know where this came from. It was an idea I had about Hajime's time in the Kamukura Project, based off the mention of him "seeming distressed" about it in the anime. Somehow that evolved into a 5000+ word fic.