He flexed his fingers. How many were they? He couldn't tell- they floated and rearranged themselves in front of his eyes.
His vision cleared and now he could see his hand.
One and one and one and one. That was how many fingers. One of them, the shortest, could cross over his palm, he found after some experimentation.
He felt his toes. They were harder to count; he couldn't see them clearly yet. He flexed each one individually. One and one and one and one. That was how many toes. One of them was like the shortest finger on his hand.
He sat up, using his arms. One and one of them. Wait, not quite. He turned his head, using his neck- he had a neck!- No, not quite, he had to spend a minute rolling his neck-
Ah. Now he could see the tendrils protruding from his back. One and one again. They moved when he wanted them to, like his arms.
Instinctively, he raised his fists and rubbed his eyes. Then he saw the person in front of him.
It had short hair and a white garment, and was making shapes with its mouth. He stared at it in confusion for a second, until he began to be aware of a new thing- sound.
It faded in from all sides, low at first, then rising in volume gradually. There was a low-pitched humming from all around, and more articulated noises coming from the person in front of him. He reached out to touch the person's face- what did it feel like?- but it pulled away, stopping the mouth-noises.
The white-coated person moved slightly closer, pointing at him.
"One-four-seven-five-three," it said. It pointed at itself. "Doctor Gray."
One-four-seven-five-three frowned. Was the person labeling him? He touched his own chest, and stopped.
"One-four-seven-five-three," Dr. Gray supplied.
He shook his head. "...Unfurevenfivthre?" The strange motions confused his own mouth, but Dr. Gray nodded. "One-four-seven-five-three," it repeated.
He shook his head again.
"No?" Dr. Gray asked, a strangeness in its voice and a smile on its face.
"...No." That he managed easily enough.
Dr. Gray's smile vanished. It pointed at him again. "One-four-seven-five-three," it said firmly.
He stopped at the new word. "...Yes?"
"What, then? What, pray tell, do you want to be called?" Dr. Gray's voice rose.
He paused at the barrage of new words.
Dr. Gray picked up a clipboard and scribbled something furiously. He watched it storm out of the room before giving serious thought to the matter of the argument.
It had obviously wanted him to learn to respond to the phrase 'One-four-seven-five-three'. But he didn't want to respond to that. It was too long, too tedious, and much too boring-sounding. But now he needed...
He found he could almost hear sounds in his mind. Now he could arrange them into a name.
Leon! That was his name. Leon smiled triumphantly. Leon. Dr. Gray couldn't make him change it, either.
He looked up sharply as the door opened again. Dr. Gray walked in, followed by a shorter person with long, pale hair, also with a white coat.
He glared at Dr. Gray. "Leon."
"Leon?" Dr. Gray asked, confounded.
Leon nodded once, quickly.
"Subject 14753," the shorter person said in a higher-pitched, cold voice.
"Doctor Gray?" Leon turned to the taller person. Dr. Gray looked affronted that Leon had turned to him for help.
Leon's scowl deepened.
Doctor Gray stepped forward aggressively, but was stopped by the shorter person, who was faintly amused.
"Leon," it acknowledged.
"Yes," Leon said firmly.
"Mira Valento," the short person pointed to itself.
Leon sat quietly and calmly, but inside, he was celebrating. Doctor Gray and Mira Valento would have to listen to him. He'd made them do so.
Mira Valento and Doctor Gray exchanged words, strange words that Leon did not understand. He did pick up that one sequence several times- one-four-seven-five-three- and each time he interrupted with, "No. Leon." Eventually they started using his name in their conversation.
Leon watched and listened. He still couldn't understand more than two or three words when Dr. Gray and Mira left, letting another person, pushing a cart, in.
The new person stopped its cart in front of Leon's bed. It presented him with a platter of nice-smelling things.
"Food," it told him, lifting a hand to its mouth and gesturing to the platter. Leon nodded, thinking he understood. He took the platter carefully (it was slightly too warm for comfort) and lifted a small piece of green stuff to his face. He sniffed it, then put it in his mouth.
The person nodded, satisfied, and left with the cart.
Leon chewed slowly, becoming aware of a new sense- taste. The food was good, and solved a problem he didn't know existed: hunger.
Leon shifted how he sat to make his tail more comfortable. He pulled it around in front of him, examining it in his one and one and one and one fingered hands, while the one and one fingered tendrils brought food to his mouth.
The skin on his tail was a silver-purple-gray, slightly shiny, smooth, and cool to the touch. Leon looked closer at his hands and saw that his fingers blended to that same shade near the tips. His tendrils were that color, as well.
The split, blunted tip of his tail twitched when he wanted it to, and the smooth muscles in it moved it around as surely as his arms and tendrils. Its tip was too wide to be able to grab anything as small as the food, though, so he picked up the piece of fabric covering him. It was awkward; his tail had to bend into a spiral at the tip to get a good grasp on the covering.
Looking towards the end of the bed, Leon saw a bright piece of fabric that must have been left by the food-person. He picked it up with a tendril, and it unfolded into a shape not unlike his own. He gazed at it curiously, pulling it closer and finding holes at the ends of each limb-like tube, plus slits on the back for his tendrils and a hole in the bottom for his tail. On the front was a strange metal thing that opened the front in half when pulled down. Undoing the pull-thing all the way, Leon scrambled into the florescent orange garment, struggling with his tail and tendrils ans he maneuvered awkwardly into the thing.
He stood up on the bed when he was done, pulling the metal thing up and seeing that the fabric closed again after it. He looked down at his body, encased in the fabric. It was... okay. He didn't particularly mind it, and someone wanted him to wear it. They'd acknowledged his name; the least he could do was wear the clothes.
He spent the rest of his time thinking over some of the words he'd caught and wondering about their meaning. He knew Yes, No, Food, and that Subject was some sort of non-flattering title. Doctor seemed to be another title, seeing as Mira had called Doctor Gray simply Gray, and Gray had called it Mira in return.
He supposed there were differences between Mira and Gray. Gray had short hair, while Mira's was long. Mira was shorter, and it had a strangely protruding chest. Leon supposed it was some sort of rank indication, or something equally strange. He frowned as he noticed for the first time something soft tickling his face. Annoyed, he reached up to brush it away. He pushed it back, but it fell forward again. Glancing upward, he pulled on the annoyance and made a noise of surprise as he found out it was connected to his head. Tugging it down and crossing his eyes to focus on it, Leon saw a curl of light brown hair between his fingers. Oh. So that was what his own hair was like.
Mira Valento walked in the door again as he was examining his hair. "Hello," it called out.
Leon blinked. "Mira?"
Mira smiled and sat down on the bed, next to where Leon was cross-legged and still with his hair in his hands.
"Hair," she said, tugging at its own blond ponytail.
"Hair?" Leon pulled on a brown curl.
Leon held up a hand.
"?" he held up one finger.
"Finger," Mira supplied.
Leon held up two fingers.
"Oh," Mira said. It shook its head and raised a finger. "One."
Leon tilted his head. "One? Finger?"
Mira smiled and waved its hand around. "Fingers." it held up one finger again. "One finger."
Leon nodded. He held up his own hand again, fingers splayed. "One, one, one, one fingers."
Mira shook its head. "One and one," it held up one finger on each hand, then brought them together onto its right hand. "Two."
Leon scowled. "One and one. Two?"
Mira laughed. "One and one," it showed him two fingers on one hand, "Two." it held up the same thing on the other hand.
Leon gazed at the fingers skeptically. "One and one... Two," he stated finally.
"Yes. One and one is two."
Mira frowned. It tapped the bed. "Is bed," it informed him. It touched the platter from the food earlier. "Is plate."
Leon. Tapped his chest. "Is Leon?"
"One and one is two."
Leon looked at his had. Two and two. That was how many fingers. He glanced at Mira's hand.
"Two and two... and one," Leon said, taking Mira's hand and putting his own against it.
"Two and two Leon fingers, two and two and one Mira fingers?" he asked.
"...Yes." Mira pulled its hand away. It indicated its entire hand. "Hand."
Leon waved his own. "Hand." He pullet up the appendage at the end of his leg. "Hand?" he queried.
Mira laughed. "Foot," it told him.
"Foot," Leon repeated absentmindedly, still considering the difference of fingers.
"Mira... Mira fingers yes and yes?"
"Mira two and two fingers, and one finger?"
"Yes, and one."
"Mira extra finger?"
"Mira... fingers two and two and one yes?"
Leon frowned, looking at Mira. It wasn't the same as he was. Gently touching its shoulder and turning its back to him, Leon ran a finger over where its tendrils should have been.
"Mira two fingers..." he waved his tendrils around- "Hands no?
"Tendrils. Mira tendrils no."
"Leon... Tendrils extra?"
Leon frowned at this. He wished he could speak better and ask what he wanted to.
"Leon tendrils yes. Mira tendrils no. Mira two and two and one fingers, Leon two and two fingers. Is yes?"
"...Why?" Mira asked.
"Why Mira two and two and one fingers, why Leon two and two fingers?"
Mira sighed. "Mira is human. Mira is... no Leon. Leon is human and... no human."
Leon gave it the disbelieving look again. So Mira was human, whatever that was. But how could he be human and not human?
"Why? Why is human and no human?"
Mira got a confused look on its face. Leon shook his head. "Leon is no... no yes is..." he made a noise of frustration.
"No good speaking?"
Leon looked up questioningly.
Mira made a motion from its lips out. "Speaking." Leon nodded. "Speaking is yes, yes, no, why?"
Mira sighed again. "Good is... Leon no speak good."
Leon raised an eyebrow.
"No, no. Good is... Food?"
Now Leon was seriously confused. He didn't speak food?
"No," Mira said again. "Good is... is yes. Is yes, speak, is yes, food, is yes Leon two and two fingers."
Leon tilted his head. "Good..." he was getting more than one meaning for this word. Food was good, and the number of his fingers was good, and speaking was good even though his wasn't.
"Good is yes?"
"No and yes."
Leon blinked. Well.
"Good is yes... Good is no yes..."
Mira nodded. "Yes. Good is like yes."
"Like, almost." It held up its hand. "Leon hand is like Mira hand. Leon hand is almost Mira hand, Mira hand... extra finger."
"Mira hand no extra finger, Mira hand two and two and one fingers yes!" Leon said in frustration.
"Mira hand is Leon hand and one finger. Extra finger is Leon hand."
Leon raised his eyebrow again. "Good is like...?"
"Good is right."
"Right is Leon hand is two and two fingers, Mira hand is two and two and one fingers, food is-" it gestured to its mouth- "Food is no-" it mimed throwing something onto the floor.
Leon nodded. Right was something properly formed or used.
"Good is right?"
"Leon no speak good?"
"Mira speak good?"
Leon squirmed as he tried to form a question. "Mira... Mira is yes Leon speak good? Leon speak, and Mira Leon is speak good?"
"Mira teach Leon?"
"...Leon is no speak good, Mira is yes speak good, Mira and Leon is speak good?"
"Mira is teach Leon speak good?"
Leon nodded, mind reeling with new words.
Mira nodded, smiled and left.