Without Memories, Who Am I?
by Eli Young (Elyscape)
<Are you awake?>
Who said that?
I opened my eyes and sat up. I turned me head and saw a pretty woman standing beside me. I looked around. I seemed to be in a hospital bed, but why, I didn't know.
"Uhm..." I stammered. "Do I know you?"
She stared at me for a long moment.
Something in deep within struggled to get out. I fought it down and replied in her language.
<Huh? What does that mean?>
<Piro, this isn't funny. Stop it,> she pleaded.
She paused for a minute.
<The doctor said... but I didn't believe... Piro, don't you remember me?>
<Why are you calling me Piro?>
<Don't you remember anything?>
I thought for a moment.
<Not before just now,> I said. <Who are you?>
She ran out of the room, crying.
A man entered my room.
"Hey, Piro. I gotta take you home," he said.
"Who are you?"
He paused for a minute.
"I'm... Largo. Don't you remember?" he asked.
I shook my head.
"The 3v1l 0n3 will pay for this!" he cried.
"Anyway, come on, Piro. We have to leave."
"Why do people keep calling me Piro?" I wondered aloud.
He paused for a moment.
"It doesn't matter... Let's go."
As I walked home with Largo, I talked to him. I was eager to learn whatever I could.
"So, what happened to me?" I asked.
"Hmm? Oh, the 3v1l 0n3 attacked you. You ran away from her, but one of her m1n10ns ran you over. You were lucky to live."
"The doctor said your injuries weren't too bad, but you might not remember anything. Since that has happened, it is my job to make sure you don't get into too much trouble before your memories return."
I thought about it all and kept walking. Who was this "3v1l 0n3?" Why had she attacked me? Who was I? And, more importantly, how was it that Largo pronounced letters and numbers without spelling his words?
"Well, the doctor said the best thing for you would be to let you live as normally as you could, and let the memories try to return on their own. So we should give you a name. What do you want to be called?" Largo asked.
"Uhm..." I thought.
What would be a good name? How about...
"Alright, Gabe," Largo said.
A girl had been lying on the ground of the appartment. A cord seemed to be going from the wall into her... what was that on her ear?
<Piro-san! Are you okay?> she cried.
<Erm... What's your name?> I asked.
<I'm... Ping, Piro-san! How could you forget?>
<I seem to be forgetting lots of things recently, Ping-san. Why do you keep calling me Piro-san?>
<Hmm? What do you mean?> she asked. <That's your name, isn't it?>
<No, Ping-san. I'm called Gabe,> I stated.
<Okay, Piro-sa... Geibu-san. Whatever you say.>
Largo was about to leave for work when he stopped to tell me something.
"Gabe, if you feel like it, go downstairs. You used to work there. I'm sure they can find something for you to do."
"Uhm... okay," I responded. "See you later."
Somebody knocked on the door. I went to answer it.
<Ah, Piro-san... I...> she stammered.
I waited for a moment while she collected herself.
<Piro-san, hello. How are you?>
I stared at her for a minute. She must have assumed I didn't understand her, because she repeated in English.
"Piro, how are you?"
<Why do you call me Piro?> I asked.
She blinked and returned my stare.
<I... Isn't that your name?>
<No, my name is Gabriel. Who are you?>
<Geibiero?> she asked.
<Well, Geibiero-san, my name is Tohya Miho. How are you?>
<I'm... fine, Tohya-san.> After a moment, I added, <Why did you call me Piro?>
<Hmm? Oh, you... must have reminded me of someone I once knew named Piro.>
She was hiding something. I could sense it. I was patient, though, and decided to let her tell me on her own terms, should she want to. I wouldn't pressure her into doing anything.
<So, what are you here for?> I asked.
<Eh? Oh, I came to pick up Ping-chan.>
<What for?> I asked confusedly.
<We have school, and it wouldn't be good if she was late.>
<Ah, I see. Let me go get her.>
I turned around, but Ping was already behind me.
<Hello, Tohya-san!> she realized something. <Wak! I need to change! Geibu-san, could you... leave for a minute? I need a little privacy...>
I stepped outside the door and Ping shut it in a hurry. I stood for a minute, and then Miho spoke up.
<I'm... I'm sorry.>
<What? You don't remember?> she asked.
Ping chose that instant to open the door.
<G'bye, Geibu-san!> she said as she left.
<Goodbye, Ping-san,> I said.
Miho walked wordlessly away.
After a while, I became rather bored and, having no money, could not really buy anything. Largo's scattered games held no interest for me, and the Japanese comic books I found all seemed somewhat familiar. Faced with nothing to do, I followed Largo's advice and went downstairs. I entered a store of some sort. Banners near the ceiling read "MegaGamers", but it didn't seem to be like any other. I saw art supplies, books, costumes, and music in addition to whatever games might be lurking around.
As I entered, a costumed woman took notice of me and greeted me.
<Oi, Piro,> she called. <Any better?>
I blinked, then waited for a second before correcting her.
<Eh... my name is Gabe.>
I had noticed a strange trend among the people I met to call me "Piro". I had yet to understand why this was.
<Ah, gomen, Geibu-san. My name is Hayasaka Erika,> she paused. <Feeling well?>
<Of course,> I replied. <But I have nothing much to do upstairs, and no money. Largo told me I used to work here, and I was wondering if you could provide me with a job.>
She hesitated. She seemed to be thinking something over, validating an option. Finally she spoke.
<Unfortunately, I can't do anything for you, but I'm sure the boss would be happy to->
<To do what?> a man asked.
<Anno...> she froze, startled.
<I was wondering,> I broke in. <If you could provide me with a job.>
The man's attention snapped to me. He stared for a second. Then he came back to his senses.
<Well, Piro-> he began.
<Geibu,> Erika corrected.
<Well, Geibu-san, I have been out of a cashier ever since...> he glanced at Erika and changed his mind, <Well, it doesn't matter. I need a cashier. You need a job. Two problems, one solution, right?>
<Good, the job is yours.>
Erika surveyed the costumes, grabbed one and walked leisurely towards me. Suddenly, something emerged from the depths of my mind.
<That costume, Erika, that's from Chobits, right? Dita, right?> I asked.
<Anno... Hai,> she replied, clearly startled.
I wondered idly where that information had come from and what it meant because, quite frankly, I had no clue. I also took the opporunity to admire her costume while she was startled. It looked rather nice on her, but that wasn't necessarily her costume's fault.
<In any case,> she said. <Here. Put this on. It's->
<Ikari Gendo's outfit,> I cut her off.
An awkward pause followed as we both wondered how I knew that. Then, I silently took the outfit and went elsewhere to change.
I returned, the image of a stern military commander, and walked to the counter.
<What am I supposed to do?> my mouth asked dryly. <Scare the customers into buying something?>
This was evidently so funny that Erika didn't think about it too much, which was probably a good thing, as I had no clue whatsoever as to why that was funny.
About this time, the door opened and in walked... the woman from the hospital. Erika called out to her.
She turned and walked to the counter. Then she noticed me.
<P- Piro?> she stammered.
Erika broke in.
<This is Geibu-san, not Piro, Ki-> she began.
The girl didn't wait for her to finish. She squeeked and fled the store.
I had a sudden urge to shout out the word "Kimiko", but I didn't know what the word meant, and dismissed the feeling.
I walked down the street. Erika had given me a piece of paper with a map and some writing on it. There was an arrow pointing to a certain place on the map, but I didn't need the help. I seemed to be able to find the way to my destination without thinking about it.
I walked into a restaurant called "Anna Miller's" and walked up to the waitress at the front.
<Ohayo!> she said. <Party of one?>
<Yeah,> I agreed.
She led me to a table. I sat down and she left. I watched as she walked to another waitress and said something to her. They seemed to engage in a debate of some sort. A couple of seconds later, whatever their argument was ended and they both went to do other things. I returned to my menu.
About a minute later, the second waitress walked up to me and I noticed that it was the girl from the hospital.
<Hello!> I said.
<Hello, my name is Nanasawa Kimiko, and I'll be serving you today,> she said with a forced smile. <What can I get you?>
<Nothing,> I said. <Hey, I need to ask you something. Well, a couple of things.>
<Okay...> she said. <What's on your mind?>
<First of all, why did you run away from me before?>
She said nothing. I waited, then, sensing that she wasn't going to answer, went on.
<Why do you keep calling me Piro?>
<You are...> she hesitated. <You look exactly like someone I once knew named Piro. I thought you might have been him because he left only recently.>
<Where'd he go? What happened to him?>
<Piro... he...> she paused, taking a moment to breathe. <He died.>
A knock on the door. I walked up to it and opened. It was Kimiko.
<Oh hello, Nanasawa-san!> I said.
<Call me Kimiko, please,> she said. <May I come in?>
<Yes, please do.>
She was carrying a bag. She gestured towards it.
<I brought some food. You want to eat?>
<Uhm... sure!> I replied.
Largo was off doing his thing somewhere, so I didn't need to worry about him. That was, I supposed, a good thing.
As it turned out, she had brought spaghetti. We sat down and ate. Part of me felt like this was half-familiar, like a dream gone wrong and made real.
We talked, first about her job, then about my job, then about Largo, then about Ping the robot, and then about Erika.
<You know, she once was a seiyuu, like me,> Kimiko said.
<Yeah. She doesn't like to tell people, though. I think she got fed up with the fans.>
<So,> I asked. <Who was this Piro fellow to you?>
<He... I loved him,> she said. <When you got... I mean, when he died, it was so sudden. I hadn't quite told him how I felt and then he... he was gone.>
She started sobbing.
<I... he...> she sobbed. <Please... kiss me. You... It'll make me feel as though I was with Piro... I can't go on, knowing he might find another...>
This didn't make sense. He was dead, wasn't he?
Well, whatever. She was hurt, and I could fix it.
I got up, helped her up from her seat, and walked her to the door.
Something in my subconscious was telling me that I should be elated. I ignored it. I didn't particularly like the girl. She was too thin.
I leaned in towards her in an embrace of love, love which I did not share with her. She returned it earnestly.
I hoped, for her sake, that she would be able to move past this Piro fellow. I wouldn't be able to play for him much longer.
The 3v1l Past
by Eli Young (Elyscape)
Kimiko no longer ran away when she saw me. She referred to me as "Gabe", or some similar Japanese equivalent. She accepted that I was not the "Piro" she once knew.
But it was tearing her up inside. Even I could see that.
But there was nothing I could do anymore.
What bothered me was the other girl.
Every day she came by to pick up Ping, who would force me out of the room in order to change. This would inevitably leave me standing outside with the Tohya girl.
And every day went pretty much the same way.
<Ohayo, Geibu-san,> Miho said as I opened the door. Routine.
<Ohayo, Miho-san,> I replied. Routine.
<Ohayo, Miho-chan!> Ping said, appearing behind me. <Geibu-san...> Routine.
<Yeah, yeah,> I said as I walked outside. Nothing different yet.
The goth girl next to me said nothing for several moments. Once again, routine.
<Piro, I... I'm sorry,> she said after a bit. Routine, even though she knew my name.
Then, the break.
<Why are you sorry?> I asked.
She looked startled. I had never asked that before, save the day I met her.
<I... You...> she stumbled. <You don't remember?>
<No. I don't remember anything before the day I woke up in the hospital,> I informed her. <Are you sorry for something you did before?>
<Well... I...> she stalled.
<I mean, I don't remember it,> I said. <And if I don't remember it, and I haven't encountered its effects, it shouldn't matter, right? Any why did you call me Piro?>
Once again, Ping came to her rescue.
<Ready to go, Miho-chan?> she asked.
<Of course, Ping-chan,> the goth replied.
That day, while waiting at the register for someone to buy something, I got to wondering. What was it that the girl was always apologizing for? Why did she call me Piro? Was she like Kimiko, thinking that I might be able to play Piro for her? Did she do something to Piro, something that she wants to atone for? Maybe she believes that she can be forgiven through me?
I wasn't Piro. He was dead. Kimiko told me that.
But then, why did so many people believe that I was Piro? Why did they come to me to solve their problems?
Who was Piro? Who was I?
Miho brought back the android during the afternoon.
<Hello, Geibu-san,> she said.
<Hello, Miho-san,> I replied. <Hello, Ping-san.>
The robot smiled at me and went upstairs.
<Right, well... I'll see you tommorow,> Tohya said.
She left the store. I thought for a minute before following her out.
<Oi!> I called.
She turned, saw me, and stiffened.
<Yes?> she asked.
<Do you...> I hesitated. <What exactly is it you keep apologizing for?>
She stared for a second. She seemed to be trying to figure out how to say something.
<Well, for starters,> she began. <You need to know that you are Piro. Once were, anyway.>
Gabe got out of his girlfriend's car and walked up unto his front yard. It had been a nice night. He walked up to his door, pulled it open...
He staggered back, a spot of blood spreading across his shirt.
Another spot of blood appeared.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Three more bullets entered his chest. He dropped to the ground, his head connecting with the ground with a sickening crack. His head rolled, and as he turned upwards he saw...
<What do you mean, I'm Piro?> I asked.
<I mean,> she said. <That you are Piro. Someting happened to him and he... became you.>
<Well...> she began.
Miho walked up to me.
<You know, Piro, you knew me even before Endgames...> she said.
<I what?> I asked.
<Don't you remember?> the girl asked.
I didn't quite know what to make of this.
"Don't you remember me?" said Tohya, switching to a slightly whiny English voice. "Uncle Piro?"
"I can't believe you don't remember," the goth told me. "You had an older brother, don't you remember?"
"Gabe..." I whispered, then suddenly became somewhat angry. "Bastard got himself killed by a whore when I was 10."
"Hey, watch what you're saying about my mother," she replied. "And, anyway, she wasn't a whore. She was just one of his many girlfriends. Got herself killed by his last girlfriend, she did."
It couldn't be. It just wasn't possible.
She... she couldn't be the daughter of my brother's killer.
This girl couldn't be my niece.
I backed away from her, then turned around and started walking away. Then I looked back again and broke into a flat out run.
And got hit by a car.
I, Gabe, was the father of this girl.
She was my daughter.
<I keep apologizing because I... I...> she stammered. <I'm sorry. For hurting Piro. And I'm sorry for getting Gabe killed.>
<How did you do that?>
<I was born. When I was born, he left my mother. She killed him because he left her all alone. Then she was killed because she killed him...>
She started sobbing.
I pulled her close in a tight hug.
<You didn't kill me,> I said. <I did. I left your mother, not you. It wasn't your fault. I suppose I sort of pushed her to killing me, by getting a new girlfriend while I was still in contact with her. Of course, that was a couple of years afterwards your birth, long enough that I knew you...>
She looked at me.
"It's all right, Mimi," I said, still holding her. "Papa Gabe is here. You'll be fine."
<I... I'm sorry for hurting you... and hurting Piro...> she said. <I... didn't want to hurt anyone... Please forgive me...>
<It wasn't your fault. None of it was. You don't need to be forgiven by me or Piro. Just forgive yourself,> I said.
<Really?> she sniffed. <You forgive me?>
<Yeah. Piro would to, I assure you.>
<Thank you...> she said.