Chapter 2:


"Daisy, Daisy, give me your heart to do,

I'm half crazy, hopeful in love with you

It won't be a stylish marriage

I can't afford the carriage

But you look sweet upon the street

On a bicycle built for twoooooo!"

The phone blaring out Gantu's awful chorus to "Daisy Bell" was instantly overshadowed by Heat's groggy shouting at his fiance. "Really Kixx?! You left that as your ringtone again?!" Kixx awoke to a pillow being slammed onto his face and struck out his hand up to push it away, Heat letting out a shriek as he was nearly thrown back along with it.

Kixx snorted and pulled Heat off his chest as the orange experiment continued to swat at him. Heat was frail-he'd always been, but Kixx still held him at arm's length as he turned off the alarm. "Pft-sorry! I didn't realize I still had that!" He quickly opened up the phone and scrolled through it, switching it to default. "There, happy?"

Heat huffed and placed the pillow back in its place, stifling a yawn, "No; didn't you just say we could learn to live without Gantu?"

"Yeah, well, I did, but whale noises can be good for your health if you set them as alarms."

"They are not, and I should know." Heat pulled over his own phone by its cord and opened it, bringing up the grainy footage of Reuben driving an ice cream truck down the road as "Daisy Bell" blared out. He shook his head and locked it. "Ah. Horrible. Let's check up on 001...and get some coffee."

The two had gotten up before everyone else, Heat leading the way into the kitchen to get the coffee maker started. He sighed as he stood in the kitchen, watching the dark liquid fill up the pot. It was a "cold" day outside; morning fog spread over the surrounding forest in a thick blanket. It'd go away soon enough, but given it was six in the morning, it'd take a bit. Heat frowned, thinking back to the main reason the two were there. It was hard to see outside, but…

Heat shook his head as the images of shadows waiting behind the mist began to swirl in his mind. They couldn't think like that; HE couldn't think like that... He took out two mugs and poured the coffee, handing one off to Kixx as the larger experiment came back from setting the table.

"You alright?" Kixx asked, "Just...really didn't know that was still there."

Heat gave a small start, "Oh-it's not that; don't worry about it. It's foggy out, so my brain went weird again, that's all."

"Ah." Kixx shot a glance outside, "Well, think of it this way; they're so loud, we'll hear them way before we see them."

Heat giggled, "Yeah, you're right; plus Gantu and Reuben argue so much they'd give themselves away right in town."

"See? There ya go! We'll be fine. We probably won't even have to fight; everyone'll just chase 'em out with brooms like they do Stitch." Kixx placed a bag of sugar on the counter and opened it up, offering Heat the small scoop that came with it. Heat smiled at his fiance, filling it to the brim and dumping it into his mug. "Okay, wanna head down then?"

"Yeah, plus Thresh's coming over with the clones, so we should get going."

Breakfast (and cleaning up) went fast given Kixx's super strength and Heat's heat sense, leaving the couple enjoying the front porch with Bonnie and Clyde in waiting for Thresher.

"Ah…this is nice; no alien threats anymore, no ships blockin' our view, no law enforcement, just peace and quiet." Clyde said, placing his hands behind his head as he watched the trees surrounding the house, "Gotta admit, I did miss this stuff a lot back in space. Prison walls are the same no matter where you are."

"Yeah; I missed the outside too when I was captured. Earth's just that pretty I guess, right?" Heat said.

"Minus the curses here, but hey, it's still nice." Bonnie added as the other three exchanged glances. "What? I'm still not over that."

A familiar purple shape surrounded by three red ones popped into view at the edge of the path; Thresher's eyestalks were turned towards two of the Leroy clones he was walking beside in conversation, one of them carrying a small crate filled with strawberries and another guiltily dusting juice off their hands. The third trailed behind, noisily biting into what the four experiments assumed were more berries.

"Hey! We thought we'd bring some of the excess over-our plants kiiiiiiind of got out of control again thanks to some of the other 5's." Thresher greeted them, the final clone briskly stepping out from behind him.

Before anyone could start, she cut in.

"Where's Angel?"

"Oh right; hi Sango, she's inside being...Angel. I'm guessing you never got to meet up with her before she came here?" Heat asked, noticing the small bag held in Sango's lower left arm. Another mall trip he supposed, given the star design.

"Yep; instead of visiting her, I had to pick up the radishes before we left." She said, holding up a large half-eaten radish by its leaves, "I went and got this new bag at the store; I don't want the lipsticks in there, so I came to drop them off and check up for Joules. Part of my nursing training or whatever."

"That's cool, we'll take that crate inside for you so your hands are free. Um...Ryuu, right?" Kixx asked, pointing to the clone holding the crate.

The clone started and looked down at himself, noticing a small nametag lying on top of the berries. "Agh-not again! You got it right, but not again…" He exclaimed, taking it in his lower hand and passing the crate to Kixx. Sango shook her head at him as the larger experiment made his way into the house, "You should wear that on a lanyard or something; you keep losing it."

"I know, I know, I just keep forgetting…"

Sango sighed, "I'm going in; I know Hammerface'll flip if I go into the lab alone, so I'll wait for you two after I drop the stupid fish paint off, 'kay?"

"Go ahead, we'll be right in." Heat said as the clone passed by him. "So...guessing we should get you a napkin?" He asked the final clone, who gave a guilty smile and nodded. "Mine's still there right?" He asked before answering his own question, feeling for his tag, "Ah good, it is."

Clyde raised an eyebrow at the juice-stained tag, reading "Akamu, LC-16384". "Huh, you're one of the newer ones, right?"

"Yeah; I was actually one of the last made. Last few thousand I mean. I'm...sure you heard about Frenchfry smacking me in the face with his spatula during the fight..." Akamu scratched the back of his head and gave a sheepish grin to the group of experiments, revealing bits of red berry caught between his teeth.

"Well, good thing we don't have to worry about you and Fry fighting anymore, huh?" Thresher asked, letting out a short laugh, "Let's head in before Sango gets carried away with Angel."

"No way, that's mine, I paid for it, and you're filthy freaking rich; if you wanted both then you should've told me, AND you can buy your own. Plus these are limited colors and my lips don't like fish scales."

"Why do you keep talking about fish scales?!"

"Because that's what lipstick's made of, now do you want them or not?!"

"Oh thank god, you came in; my savior. Please help me deal with them." Kixx said as the remaining group walked in to a growing argument between Sango and Angel, the former of which was holding the bag as far away from the latter as possible.

"Oh boy; Angel, come on, Sango's right, you can barely fit all the ones you have in your own bag. Or if it's that much of a problem, I can just take them. Use 'em for my sketchbooks." Heat said, ending on a small smirk and crossing his arms to Angel, who gasped in horror and instantly held her hands out to catch the makeup.

Sango snorted and dumped the bag's contents onto Angel's hands, "Nice Heat, very nice-anyways enjoy 'em Angel, they're selling the bags at the town mall if you want them."

"Okay, I'll go there on Sunday, thanks Sango." Angel said, taking the small cases in her hands as she headed off to her room.

Sango sighed as she watched her go, "Yeesh. Had I known she wanted the bag too I would've gotten the nude colors…"

"Aaaanyways, how's she been Heat? Good?" Thresher asked, "I hope she's been wearing her aids more. She told me they were uncomfortable the last time we talked."

"Agh...I haven't asked her yet. She hasn't worn them from what I've seen so far."

"Hmmm." Thresher frowned, "I'd think she'd try here given it's so quiet, but...oh well I guess. It's not the most welcome change for her after all." He turned towards the kitchen where Akamu made his way out, wiping his face with a napkin. "Well, strawberries are taken care of, can we see 001 or…?"

"Yeah, sure! It's what Sango's here for after all, right?"

The lab was dimly lit, the small figure bobbing around inside the vat as the experiments filed inside. Sango squinted at the machines surrounding 001 and placed her hand to her chin at the numbers flashing across the screens. "99.96 percent done huh? Takes me back to when she was a blob pinging around the tank."

Bonnie laughed, "I remember when she started heading for the side and Hammerface freaked. She's separated by another layer, but of course he had to panic."

"Wouldn't be Hammerface if he didn't though, right?" Clyde asked, grinning and placing his hands on his hips, "He's gotta do it at least once a day Bonnie, it's how he survives."

"I'd agree there, he is gonna be a parent and not just 20 years ahead of us, so of course he'd be doing that more often." Heat smiled as Sango made her way around the perimeter of the vat, stepping around her younger clones as she did so. "She's looking good, like she'll be out soon. And eating people's hair like Clip." She grinned, "I'm sure they'll know how to handle that though, or at least I assume they will given how she is."

"Well, we have to have faith right?" Heat asked, letting out a small laugh as Sango walked back around to where she started, herself grinning at the joke. "It's the only thing we have left, so we have to." She said, "Speaking of which-how are the two up there doing by the way? Ani and Yuna?"

"Oh them? They're getting along really well. It helps that both are into nature and supernatural stuff. Ani's especially impressed with the yokai here."

"Ah, that's good to hear-we heard 'em run by with Stitch not too long ago. They sounded pretty excited." Sango nodded, "Anyways-I'm done here, she looks good, the books hold up, and nothing's wrong externally, so we should head up before Yuna and Ani come back from school."

Afternoon found the experiments (and Tigerlily, Myrtle, and Victoria) outside in the backyard, snacking on the strawberry crate brought over by the clones. Kixx squinted as he peered through his phone, browsing a feed. He missed the old Internet culture to say the least; this new one was so sour by comparison and had little appeal to him...nevertheless, he still (albeit clumsily) liked posts made by his fellow experiments-the most recent being Belle and Sproing's honeymoon to California, and yet another fail compilation from PJ.

A poke on one arm alerted his attention to Angel, who was staring at him intently. Kixx was instantly annoyed; usually, she did this to Heat, so why him this time? He raised an eyebrow at her and put the phone down beside him, waiting for a response.

"So when can we leave?"

"What do you mean?"

"I want ice-"

"Okay, I know that part, but you realize Yuna and Ani aren't out of school yet, right? You're close, but not that close Angel-they get out thirty minutes from now."

"Well, Gantu could've gotten out and he could be around and-"

"You're not using Gantu around me Angel, just say you want Heat and I to walk you there." Kixx sighed and straightened up, turning to Victoria, "Hey, Victoria? I know you're supposed to pick the three up from school, but this one wants to come with for ice cream, so do you mind if Heat and I do it instead?"

"Oh-yeah, sure; Thresher and the clones'll still be here, so it's fine by me." Victoria said, smiling to the purple experiment, "Just make sure to come back as soon as you can."

"Can do, I'm gonna grab Heat and we'll be on our way then."

"I can't believe you Angel; I make one offhand comment-"

"-That wasn't offhand-"

"-And you instantly do this to us. Why? Why are you like this? Huh?" Heat flicked the side of the younger experiment's head as the three made their way through the Izayoi outskirts, careful not to be seen. Izayoi's humans may have been more accepting towards strange creatures and alien life, but Heat still felt more relaxed to walk in the forest as opposed to the town. Old habits he supposed.

Angel stuck her tongue out at Heat, flicking the antenna on his arm and causing him to yank it away in annoyance, "I wanted to hold you to it, you bitc-"

"I thought we agreed you weren't going to call me a bitch anymore."

"It slipped out."

"Sure it did Angel. But really, you should answer Heat's question; why are you acting up like this? What's going on?" Kixx asked, causing Angel to cast a sullen glare to the ground.

Heat flattened his ears as he looked at Angel's right ear facing him; it was the one she'd lost her hearing in, and just as Thresher said, it was missing the aid she'd been given.

Initially, it had progressed slowly; it started small, with Angel being unable to hear as well out of the ear, but it'd only worsened as time wore on. At the end, all it took was a few misplaced earplugs before concerts to do the rest of the work the control helmet and curse had started.

She'd cried the day they had to make the mold for it.

"Angel...look. You don't need to tell us if you don't want to, alright?" He placed a hand on her shoulder in reassurance, "But you can't keep acting like this, especially not when we've got a new experiment to watch. It's not fair to us since we're here to help with that, and you know you can't say the things you usually do around Yuna and Ani anyways. Just…" He thought for a moment before continuing, "just try to talk to someone when you can, okay? It doesn't matter who it is-it could be freaking Dark End for all I care-just someone. You look like you could really use it."

The song experiment gave a quiet nod and fell into place between the couple, having been pacing herself ahead of them almost the entire walk. Kixx placed an arm around her, noting how she almost seemed to shrink into herself. He sighed; he wanted little of Angel and Heat's ongoing well...drama, but he was still upset to see someone who was normally so upbeat and energetic hiding obvious pain. She was like Heat in many ways, only far less understandable to him.

"So, look-we're here if you need us, okay?" He finished, "Even if it's for something simple like taking you out for something you want. And Heat's right; you need to talk about whatever's going on with someone-wait." He furrowed his brow at her, "...Have you ever told Stitch how you feel when it comes to this?"

Angel turned a dark magenta and shook her head, causing Kixx to place his remaining hands on his hips, "Aaaannnddd there it is-you don't have to tell him right away, but you should eventually, alright?"

"Ah no, wonder he was so clueless last night." Heat put his hand to his head, "You need to at some point-I can help if you want me to, all you need to do is ask."


"Of course-just don't call me a bitch anymore."

"You drive a hard bargain." Angel pouted, "But...yeah, I should. Thanks Heat."

"Anytime Angel." Heat said, smiling as the three made their way up to the school's entryway, bell ringing in the distance...