Shiny Happy People

Chapter 10

7:21 AM, MARCH 15 XXXX

Dr. Gumillia prepared her morning coffee and shuddered as the cold air casually blew into the room through her open window.

Gudonechia, ten, ten, ten, ten, brackets forty. That's how they've always read the year. Next year would be something else- if next year bothers to come.

The body of the late Aginecourt was safely stored in her private laboratory upon Seth's request under life support, given that Seth's consciousness had given the girl a bit of vitality suitable enough for it. Seth's been busy lately, she figured, given that Behemo had suddenly appeared out of nowhere and with Levia suddenly giving him all of her support. Obviously, something's up. It's hard to believe that Behemo and Levia are related at all given that he had just appeared even with a 'long lost twin' story, but it's also not so hard to believe that they're tied by blood. They look so identical.

"How do you like your coffee?" Gumillia called out, stirring hers with milk. Her voice echoed throughout the apartment, only for a weaker, more masculine voice to reply back.

"With nothing in it," it called back.

She tossed in some coffee powder in a white mug, dispensed hot water, stirred, and put it on the table.

It's not the first time that she's allowed Seth to be housed in her apartment. There was nothing between them asides from mutual agreements and logical reasoning in both of their questionable actions. But in this case, which was not like the other cases that she's done and known, Seth had become a little more pro active. She's done nothing but bicker with the younger blond twin- Seth had returned from his trip early just to see him in the flesh.

Seth told her that he's more different than he had expected. He was a child of Malice, and yet there's a strange heroic air about him. An old man's air around a young man indeed. He talks about Behemo as if he's some sort of scientific anomaly that he's very much interested in, but it's the first time that Gumillia's ever seen such vested interest through actions.

Who is this little boy?

"Thinking about last night's discussion," Seth smiled over at her, walking over to her at the dining table as he wiped his glasses, not wearing them just yet. His brown hair wasn't combed yet- she figured that he didn't bother. "That's so very like you, Gumillia."

"That's very rude, trying to pry into my thoughts like that," she said, looking at him without returning the smile.

"We both know I can't do that," he easily shrugged, taking the mug and drinking the coffee from it.

"Thinking about the boy?" Gumillia asked, sitting down while reading the front headlines. Looks like they haven't forgotten about the heist of Aginecourt's body.

"The boy, yes," Seth smiled, wearing his glasses. "Levia's brother."

"You really think he's Madame Levia's brother?" Gumillia asked, looking aghast.

"Well, why not?" he replied, looking surprised. "They look the same. They're twins. Levia said so herself. There's no reason to distrust her."

"So even you believe in that story," the raven-haired scientist mulled to herself audibly.

"If everyone believes, it's no longer a story, it's fact," he smiled.

"It's even more absurd that Madame Levia's mother gave birth to an extra child and gave him away because her eldest daughter's a more worthy investment," Gumillia pointed out, still extremely skeptical as she finished her cup of coffee. She decided not to make another.

"Now, now, that's not very nice," Seth chuckled, gesturing for the female scientist to hand him the paper, which she did. She slid the paper to him on the table, and he leafed through a few pages. "Although, I must say, that makes it seem that you think he's a dimwit."

"I don't like the boy, I don't know where he's from, I don't know how he got here, so he's obviously a threat," she staunchly said.

Seth quickly read the back for the winning lottery numbers, then closed up the paper. "A threat to what exactly, Gumillia?"

"I don't know," she grumbled slightly. "Anything he gets his hands on, I should think. If he's a child of Malice, he must be stopped. Institutionalized. Put down. Lobotomized."

"Gumillia," Seth began in coaxing tones, but she turned at him.

"Have you forgotten that Malice is serious?!"

"Gumillia."

He knows that saying her name might hardly help, but she irritably looks away and keeps her peace for a few seconds. It's hypocritical, she thinks, because Levia too is considered a child of Malice under wraps. Held knows. Gumillia knows. Seth knows. And this boy, this impudent boy whom Levia's taken an increasing fondness and affection for might be her very destruction.

"...I don't like the boy," Gumillia repeated, her arms folded and her mouth twisted into a frown. "He'll harm Madame Levia."

"I don't see the possibility."

"Why don't you?" she asked, a little angered yet curious.

Seth adjusted his glasses. "They're twins. They won't harm each other."

She looked at him as if he'd gone naive. "Siblings do kill each other."

"But not twins."


"He's bad news," Levia said, helping Behemo straighten his necktie like some stock sitcom television housewife.

"But I can't be hostile towards him if I'm to work with him," Behemo pointed out. "And isn't he...well, if I remember correctly, I spoke to a girl yesterday."

"I think I forgot to tell you that the Mask race of this here universe changes bodies at their convenience," she absentmindedly said, finishing up with Behemo's blue necktie while she smoothed out the telltale signs of faint creases at his blazer. "Tsk. I told the dry cleaners to be careful with this one."

Behemo couldn't help but chuckle. "You don't need to send this to a dry cleaner, you know."

"Excuse you," Levia hissed, putting on her cream colored coat. "Your suit was very expensive, so I plan to make it as good as new every time. I'm not an expert in laundry."

"My sister, the one who messes up the colors while doing the laundry," he teased, looking at his reflection at Levia's vanity mirror. They looked so identical together- it's no wonder that people ended up believing that they were twins in the first place. Levia smiled at her reflection, clinging onto her counterpart's arm as if she belonged there.

"My brother, the one who has to be dressed up by his very smart and fashionable elder sister," she returned, whistling.

"My fashion sense is impeccable, thank you," he pointed out. "And I'd appreciate a room of my own, thank you. Sleeping in here, even if it's on the couch, might get people talking."

"Oh, they'll get used to it. The last time I remember you wearing clothes of your own, it's a black dress for what, mourning?" Levia jabbed, then realized the heaviness of her words. "I mean..."

"It's not," he answered coolly. "It's the dress of a maid, without the aprons."

"If I may," she asked softly, "can I know why you were wearing it?"

"A passing fancy," he smiled tensely, trying to pass it off as something trivial. "But I don't think I'll be wearing dresses anytime soon here."

"Why not? No one will judge you," Levia said, standing up.

He gave an easy grin- a trait of his boyishness. "It's a new life for me. I'm not going to jinx it."

"Excellent," Levia grinned back, looking through her bag to give him an orange plastic box of pills. "This will help you a bit to adapt with the universal travel. You might still feel a bit disoriented if you don't take these every day, mainly because your sense of being still doesn't really belong."

Behemo eyed the box. "...Medicine?"

"Supplements," Levia said. "I take them too," she added, showing her own box of pills. "In the event that I forget mine, I'll take yours, and if you forget yours, you can take mine."

"Now Levia," Behemo crossed his arms, still being a little suspicious (because who wouldn't?), "how can you convince me that you're not giving me a healthy dose of addictive drugs?"

"Don't you trust me, brother mine?" she asked, giving him her best pout.

"Not at all, sister dear," he smiled.

To his amazement and his amusement, Levia audibly groaned in irritation, looking as if her blood was boiling in her veins at being rejected. He's gotten used to it ever since her triumphant entrance to see Professor Held, so he merely kept his smile and gave her back the box of pills.

"You'll need this," Behemo joked.

"Ugh," she said, grabbing her handbag and keys while walking out of the room.

He walked out with her as she locked the door to her room, making her way through a bridge from the specialists' quarters to the main laboratory building. People of all ranks and ages bowed when Levia passed by, to which she barely even acknowledged them- in fact, she actually reveled in the attention she was attracting. Behemo merely walked beside her as he let his cane bring him forward every step.

This world is still very new to him.

For example, he had read in the home ministry that Gudonechia is a city, when back in his universe, Gudonechia was the name of the planet. In his universe, the city of Utopos was where he resided, when over here, Utopos was the name of the planet. He was taking everything in fairly well, or rather, he convinced himself that he was doing fine with only Levia as someone he could trust.

Even so, he didn't trust her fully. He couldn't. It was only natural.

The bridge from the specialists' quarters to the main laboratory building was as glassy as both buildings. The walls were made of glass, the floor was made of tempered glass, and right beneath them, cars and pedestrians made their way to their respective destinations. It was a marvel- the future never looked so advanced before, not even in his wildest imaginations. Doctors, nurses, scientists and aides walked to and fro through the bridge, and Levia was looking at her phone all the while she walked.

He should get one sometime soon.

Behemo hears a few muted greetings: "Good morning, Dr. Levia." "How are you doing today, Dr. Levia?" "Is that your brother, Dr. Levia? Hello there, doctor." Levia smiled, answered and passed by each greeter expertly as if this sort of thing had happened before, many, many times. It almost made him feel like an overlooked child, but Behemo had to remind himself that he didn't belong here in the first place. There's no need to be so sore about it.

Levia, on the other hand, was determined to make him fit in. She always introduced him whenever she had the chance, eager to get people's approval of him at first impression. It was easy for them to instantly like him- not just because he's the twin brother of the former child genius, but because of how gentlemanly he looked. "He'll be a promising one," one scientist smiled, as if she was looking at him like some sort of successful experiment.

"Oh, I know," Levia answered to that, all smiles. "He's amazing."

The scientist smiled back and left, prompting Behemo to loosen up at once. Levia whistled as she looked at Behemo, seemingly proud. "They like you."

"They won't, once they find out that I have nothing to my name," he bluntly said.

"You'll learn," Levia encouraged, holding onto his arm as her phone rang. She looked at the message, loosened her hold on his arm, then tightened it almost immediately. He could tell that something was instantly up.

"...What is it?" he asked, trying to peer over at her phone. She quickly put it away.

"...They want me to bring you to the main board room," Levia slowly said.

"Who?" he asked again, sensing Levia's nervousness.

"All the head scientists. They want to see you."


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