Shiny Happy People

Chapter 2

10:01 AM, MARCH 11 XXXX

He recognized the name of the hospital- it's a family hospital that he used to go to. However, there were a few key differences, in where it seemed more...futuristic. Advanced. The nurses can either opt to walk or float on weird devices in case they were too lazy to walk. The doctors were rarely there- they only come in when called. There were no patients waiting at the outpatient department.

Behemo found himself walking past named and titled doors while feeling the overly sanitized floor beneath his bare feet.

He felt like an action game survivor, or a horror game hero, in where it's definitely safe to navigate a seemingly empty hospital armed with only a roll-able stick holding his IV bag. He's been assured by Levia that the floors are clean- there's no need to wear slippers if you don't want to, so he decided to just reawaken his senses after being out of commission for quite some time.

He noticed that the names were different. Dr. Robert Ducharme, MD, ended up being Dr. Roberta Ducharme, MD. He could recall a few names, but over here, they seemed to be of an opposite gender. The world he came from had to have their sliding doors manually slid open, but here, identification alone could make them slide open themselves.

All at once, he felt so alone. Alone in a familiar, yet not-so-familiar hospital. He wanted home. He wanted out.

But this is his new home. Or his old home. Or whatever universe-travelling called it.

This is his home, whether he liked it or not.

He absentmindedly got himself some hand sanitizer- it stung on his hands, and he figured that he should find Levia. His hair was tied back- it seemed that she had left him a ribbon to wear, but since he always had his hair down, it felt as if his hair was suddenly cut. At any rate, he looked more like the boy he's supposed to be, and he had no complaints.

Boy…huh?

He's 20, for crying out loud. A very effeminate 20 year old young man.

He looks for more changes- the hospital seemed mirrored. Mirrored, as in he remembered that a certain doctor's room was supposed to be at the right side of the hall, but in here at the angle he's going, it's at the left. He only takes note of small, minute details that he remembers- he doesn't remember everything. He's not that good.

He reaches the front sliding door...which, doesn't slide open. Odd.

"The AQI readings aren't very good today," a voice comes from behind him, and he turns around to see Levia, clad in a gray dress with her lab coat tucked at the crook of her arm. "155. The haze."

"Back home, we never had such a thing," Behemo commented.

"Do you use chamber pots to poop, then?" she asked, amused.

"We're not that primitive," he said, managing a grin. "I was talking about the haze."

"So I guess it's not that bad where you came from?"

"No."

Levia smiled- Behemo could surprisingly tell that she was smiling mainly to comfort him, and she reached out for his free hand before stopping herself. "You...don't mind, do you?"

It must've been really awkward- she wanted him here and he didn't know why. He was here and he didn't know what to do, but he takes her hand anyways. "I guess not."

Her hand was cold in his warm one, but at the present moment, she's all he's got.

"Regarding the hospital bills..." Barisol's practical heir asked, to which Levia shook her head, amused. Maybe it was obvious that Behemo was worrying about the bills since he was, for once, fairly penniless, and without anything to inherit in the first place.

"Healthcare's free," she laughs.

"You're joking, right?"

"Yeah."

"Is it just you here now?" Behemo asks- he knew that the question sounded pretty stupid, but he figured that it was justified since he saw no one in the hospital so far. "There's no patients in here."

"For the day," Levia shrugs. "I'm holing in until the haze clears, and so are you. You're in a worse state than anyone else in here given what you went through."

"No, I mean," he insisted, "there are no patients in here. The wards are empty."

She paused.

"Oh. Business isn't really good. I'm just a visiting doctor- actually, I'm not even a doctor. I'm a professor researching the human mind," Levia answers coolly. "But this place is reliable, even if there aren't so many patients in the inpatient department."

He found that he couldn't shrug to that.

"...Um...is everything okay?" Levia asks, noting the uncomfortable expression on Behemo's face.

"Everything's okay," Behemo lies.

Obviously everything's not okay. He spent quite a while recuperating in a hospital that seems abandoned yet maintained, and the only person he's met in this place is a female version of himself, whom he doesn't know whether to trust or not. She's obviously trying to decrease the gap between them, but everything just spells wrong.

Even more wrong than a slice of his personal past. Maybe this is retribution.

"I'll show you around once the haze clears up," she says with a freshly made smile. "For now, this is the safest place- actually, when you're indoors during a hazy day, it's the safest place you can get. Where can you go wrong with a hospital? The air's perfect in here."

"Without the patients and their possible airborne diseases?" Behemo dryly questioned.

"Exactly!"

Levia smiles over at Behemo as if he's made some marvelous discovery, and he looks down at his bare feet in a depreciating manner. It's really hard to be optimistic if she were to be in his situation. She didn't seem to understand, or at least she was trying to understand, but he figured that she gave up on it altogether.

He takes a deep breath of fresh hospital air.

"I'm going to look around, if you don't mind. Either you find me in a ward, or in my own ward in case I need to crash," Behemo said.

"I- sure, of course! I mean...do as you like."


1:12 PM

She knows that he's bound to find something out.

Levia bit the side of her lower lip as she looked at her coat-rack, having gained another garment to hang asides from her usual coat. A suit that was her size hung right there, nicely pressed and fresh out from the dry cleaner's, all ready for Behemo to wear once he gets better.

Which would be in a few days, or earliest, tomorrow. And would you look at that, she even bought him new shoes.

She looks around her makeshift office and shuts off her laptop, packing it into her bag as she decides to look for him. Levia knows that she's obviously a very bad actress, but what's the harm in keeping a few key things from him for a few days? Actually, the more he knows now, the worse it might get- if he's every inch of her, he might also be as hysterical as she is, and his condition might act up.

Might as well give him his new clothes now.

Levia carefully takes the plastic-wrapped suit and hefts the shoebox right on top of it, then opens her door. She heaves a sigh- she needs to get him all sorts of things other than food, clothes and shelter. A passport, an ID, a phone, and a new name. Or he could stick to Behemo Barisol and she'll just make up some story about him being her long-lost twin brother or something.

It'd work.

At any cost, she must teach him one vital thing: never trust Seth Twiright. She'd almost fallen into his tricks that could've cost her much more than just Behemo's life- if she went through with what he suggested, it would've killed her too.

She finds him easily enough- he's seated right at the waiting hall, looking through…

"What are you doing?" Levia finds herself asking. Behemo looks up and his expression tightens into a strict frown.

"...Reading patient records. Looks like there's no need to register me after all," he said, walking towards her as if to confront her. The male blond waves the papers in his hands in her face and draws his height up. "These were from three years ago- this hospital was closed down!"

Levia willed herself not to look away from him, to not even flinch. "...We can't go out, even if that's the case. Not now. Not until the air's cleared."

He stopped himself from speaking too, or lashing out. They both stared at each other- Behemo stares with a thousand hidden questions in his head, and Levia stares with the hopes that he'd just trust her, even if it's hard to.

"...I bought you clothes and got them washed," she ended up saying.

It was only then that he noticed the clothes in the crook of Levia's arm.

"And shoes," she added, rather timidly. "Your size...I hope."

He gets what she's trying to say: 'Please don't get angry with me.' He gets that maybe it's not the right time- she may be avoiding the confrontation altogether maybe because it's not her style to go head on at the present moment. He notices Levia shift uncomfortably, and he lowers his hand, deciding to put the papers down on the chair.

"...When did you-" Behemo started, but Levia cut him off immediately.

"Two weeks before you woke up, and a day after I brought you here. I went to the tailor's, I mean...you'd prefer custom-made, right? I've read about you before fetching you and..."

Levia looks away.

Behemo feels like an idiot.

He reaches out to take the shoebox and she looks up, slowly nudging the clothes to him. He takes that too- when was the last time he's worn a suit?

"Do I change into these now?" he asked. "I don't have to be on the IV anymore, right?"

"No," Levia softly says. "I mean...yes, you can wear those now, if you want."

They weren't exactly masters of communication, but it'd have to do. He'll look at the clothes and the shoes and manage a comforting smile, mainly to comfort her, and she visibly glowed at his change of mood.

"Thanks, Levia. Sorry about earlier," Behemo said.

"No! It's...understandable."


2:40 PM

When he emerged from his ward to show her how he looked, he could've sworn that he's never seen anyone gape that wide before.


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