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In the city of Townsville, crime loomed frequently on the streets.

Criminals would lurk in the corners during the day, trying to find prey that they would bring into the shadows to kill or rape. They would rob banks of everything they had and make a run for it. They would get caught but they would always either find a way out or someone they knew would bail them out, leaving the streets unsafe once more.

The Mayor along with other law abiding citizens would try and do something about it. They would set up higher rated security systems, add more officers to their staff, and even tried to ban criminals from the city entirely. Nothing worked, with their attempts being either unconstitutional or damaged beyond repair.

And as soon as that started to happen, citizens started to leave. They wanted no part in the city since it became unsafe to live in or to start a family. And the ones that didn't have the funds to go anywhere, were as cautious as possible. Leaving their kids in the house instead of taking them to school, being very quick when walking their pets outside, or not exiting their house at all. Most people of this caliber had jobs where they work from home but everyone else continued their days as normal albeit hesitantly.

As crime started to escalate, the Mayor started having cops outside of his office and his house whenever he's there. He would also have police monitoring Miss Bellum for her own safety. Everyone in Townsville were on high alert and afraid for their own and their families' lives. Danger stuck around every corner of the city and there wasn't much they could do about it.

However, there were people who still had hope. Individuals who still believed that they could do something for the town. Something that would hopefully turn things for the better. They worked around the clock, hoping that they were inches away from a solution to their dilemma. An answer that will bring the city a sense of relief.

They lived in a small white house in the suburban part of Townsville. It stood out among the others in the neighborhood due to its cement walls and the bright red door. Their work space was the very basement of the home and it looked nothing like a normal room with the name should be.

Tables lined the white walls, littered with different beakers, chemicals, and machines. Two men stood, hunching over their work and studying it through their safety goggles. One of them - a tall, thin man with short ebony hair - gently poured small drops of a pink liquid into a container of a green substance. He sloshed it around and watched it change from green to purple. After that, he added a bit of a yellow liquid into it and it changed to brown.

The other male - who was shorter and had longer black hair that was tied in a prickly ponytail - had been mixing different ingredients together at a more rapid rate. He didn't seem to mind of its changing appearance or the fact that it was bubbling up slightly as he worked. After a few minutes, he saw that the liquid had turned a very dark purple. He scratched his bearded chin in thought as his black eyes shifted to his partner's elixir.

"Do you mind if I use that Utonium?" he asked rather quickly, stretching his hand out.

The taller male - Professor Utonium - stopped what he was doing and glanced at the other person. He then stared at the beaker the mentioned individual was holding. His eyes then peered at his table littered with almost empty bottles and a couple of unidentified fluids.

He gave his partner a quizzically look but gave him the formula he had. "What are you even doing over there Jo?"

Jo didn't replied. He gently placed a few drops of the other liquid into his own concoction. He then watched as his creation started to froth up to the top of the beaker before the substance burst from the opening, splashing against the table. The two stepped back a little as the droplets flew onto the mentioned surface as well as the floor. However, nothing happened.

They sighed in relief, almost simultaneously. They both looked at the beaker in Jo's hands and noticed its black color. It looked as if all of the worlds' darkness had combined itself into one condensed liquid that resided in the very bottle the short man was holding. Utonium raised an eyebrow.

"I have never seen any chemical like that before..." he noted.  "Especially of that color..." he turned to his partner. "What is it?"

A look of uncertainty crossed Jo's face as he eyed Utonium before staring at his concoction. This was something very new to the world. His partner knew his stuff so if even he has never seen anything of this caliber in his life, then it was something entirely foreign. He had created something that could be in the record books. Something that could be used for science in the present as well as the future. And it needed a name to commemorate its greatness.

"I don't know." Jo admitted, staring into the dark depths of the container. "But I'm sure we'll find out what it is in due time."

"We?" Utonium seemed shocked. "I thought you would want to take credit for your own chemical."

Jo turned to the taller man with a genuine grin. "No way...you were over there working just as much as I was. Our chemicals together formed this new creation. So I say, we did it as one."

"Whatever you say." he said with a small chuckle. He then sighed, his smile dissipating. "But I believe that this mess should be cleaned up by you since you did make it."

The smaller man chuckled softly, peering under the table and watching the black liquid trickle onto the blue tiled floor. He nodded, heading to the washroom that was in the lab to get some cloths.

Utonium meanwhile, took off his white lab coat and gloves and placed them behind his chair. He then headed up the stairs, staring at the clock that read 11 PM. "I'm going to order dinner. How does late night pizza sound?"

"Fine..." Jo mumbled, wiping up his mess from the table.

The tall man hummed in approval before heading out. Jo eyed him as he left before crouching on the floor to clean the liquid from there.

The only thing that rumbled through his mind was the brand new chemical he had created not too long ago. He was so eager to test things with it. To do studies with it. To see what it did. He wanted to get one of the lab rats from the back room and start injecting them with it. But the more important thing on the table was not what it did. But what its name was going to be.

He could have the greatest creation of all time on his hands. He could be known as the most successful scientist to have ever existed. He could get rewards, medals, money, media coverage, the works. Everything of his wildest dreams could come to past because of this creation but that couldn't happen until he had a name for it.

As he cleaned up, that was all he thought about.

He wanted to be something memorable. Something even the normal citizens of today could pronounce. Something easy on the eyes like the liquid that was in the bottle. Despite its dark appearance, it was rather simple to look at. It needed to be simple.

"Chemical..." he tapped his chin. "JU...?

It was the first letters of his and Utonium's names combined. He shook his head. That wouldn't work. It sounded kind of ridiculous in retrospect. Chemical JU, that wouldn't do.

"Chemical...Black?"

Childish. Naming things after a color was juvenile.

"Chemical J...?"

No.

"Chemical U?"

Nope.

"Chemical Z?"

What was this, an anime?

There had to be a good name for this elixir. Something that stuck. Something that was fresh and simple. Something that everyone would be able to remember.

His eyes lit up, heading over to Utonium's desk and pulling out a marker and a white sticker that they always used for labeling things. He wrote something on it, pulled off the sticker, placed it on the bottle and smiled in satisfaction.

He then put it with all of the other untouched chemicals on the high shelf in the back of the room and his grin only grew. He then said proudly.

"Chemical X. My very first creation." he sighed. "I'm so proud."

He then started to clean up the empty beakers and placed them in the lab's washroom to be cleaned. He nodded to see that his work space was clear before heading upstairs as well, turning off the lights as he did it.

Chapter Text

It was the following day at the Utonium house and the two scientists were seated for breakfast. The duo had a lot of work that needed to be done today so a simple meal was prepared: a frozen breakfast sandwich that was heated up in the microwave and some coffee.

Utonium sat at the table, sipping his beverage as he read the paper. His eyes remained on the pages as he picked up his drink from time to time. Jo, on the other hand, was munching his sandwich and gulping down the contents of his mug simultaneously. His black eyes would glance up at his partner from time to time but he remained focus on finishing his meal.

Jo was ready for this day to come and he wanted to start running tests with the new chemical. Sure, it could do something horrible to anyone it comes in contact with or even do something good, but they would never find out if they don't test it on anything.

His partner let out a long sigh and he looked up, watching as Utonium placed his newspaper down on the table.

"Another robbery in our neighborhood." the taller man stated, shaking his head. His eyes looked tired despite having a good chunk of sleep the previous night. He cracked a small smile. "Good thing we installed that high tech security system."

Jo nodded. "It's a shame no one wants to fund it. The Mayor pitched in sure, but he isn't made of money and can't fund the half of million dollars it takes to put it on every house in Townsville."

Utonium's smile turned sheepish. "It did take a lot of our own cash to build it in our own home."

"But it was worth it."

The taller man sighed, closing his eyes and shaking his head. His smile disappeared as he spoke. "It would have been so much better if we had them installed in the entire town..."

Jo lowered his eyes to his plate. He had to admit that Utonium was right about that. Sure, they were safe from anything that happened outside since they mostly stayed in their lab all day but not everyone worked from home. And there were people who did that weren't safe there. They were just as vulnerable as everyone else.

On the other hand, it wasn't like people were antagonized every night. The crimes were sporadic; anyone could get hurt no matter who they were or what they did. Sure they had tested their security system every now and again to make sure it was flawless, but there was always a possibility of it malfunctioning or get destroyed in the middle of the night. It’s a risk that didn't sit well in Jo's stomach.

They needed someone to stop all of this before anybody else got hurt. They needed a miracle. They needed a breakthrough. They needed a hero.

Utonium suddenly changed the topic. "So, do you know what you're going to call the new chemical?"

Jo's eyes lit up. He had forgotten why he was excited about today! He really wanted to start doing tests with his new elixir! He was so upset about the news that the joy of a new day had slipped his mind entirely!

The shorter man beamed. "Chemical X! I already put the label on it and everything!"

His lab partner raised an eyebrow. "Chemical X? Why did you call it that? What does the X stand for?"

Jo smiled sheepishly. He honestly had no idea why he called it that. It was easy to say and wasn't unnecessarily long like some chemicals he knew of. Also, just in case he received fame from the concoction, it would be memorable. It would be stuck in people's memory and everyone would want to use it...if it did something useful.

Of course, he wasn't going to tell him that he wanted to become famous off of it. It would make him look conceded and unfair. Also, Jo did say that the two of them were responsible for the chemical's creation. They did it together, he said.

A part of him felt like he shouldn't have said that.

"...There's really no reason why I called it that. It's just a name that sort of stuck." Jo admitted. "Also, the X doesn't stand for anything." a thought then came to him and he said it aloud. "I guess I called it Chemical X because it leaves so many questions. Like the ones you just asked me. It would leave people who hear about it wanting to learn more about it."

Utonium cracked a small smile. "That makes sense Jo."

Jo grinned back before grabbing his now cold coffee and drinking the rest of it. He placed his mug down and headed out of the room. "I'm heading to the lab now. I'm going to do an experiment on the rats!"

"Don't start without me." his partner chided with a chuckle.

He then started to clear the table of china and putting all of the dishes in the sink. He made a mental note to wash everything later, wash his hands and headed down the steps with his partner.


"Now which one should I start with?"

When Utonium walked into the lab, Jo had brought the lab rats' cage out of the backroom and had placed them at his workstation. The shorter male was eyeing the rodents and didn't even flinch when his partner opened and closed the basement door. After a bit of staring, Jo headed over to his desk and pulled out a clipboard with empty slips of paper already on it as well as a ballpoint pen.

He glanced at the other man as he did it and asked him. "Which rat do you think we should test it on first?"

"Probably an older one." Utonium suggested before tapping his chin. "But then again, it may not work as well on them."

"Then I'll test it on...Number One since he's the oldest and Number Seven since she's the youngest." Jo mumbled, lifting out the mentioned rodents that had the number on their color coded vests.

As the shorter man placed both rats on the table, they started to scurry around. One's blue eyes examined the white walls of the room as his brown nose twitched to capture any differences in smells. Seven, meanwhile, just ran around the surface, her brown eyes seemingly amazed and relieved of being free from the cage.

One turned to Jo as it seemed to have calm down quicker than the other rodent. The mentioned man nodded, lifted the older creature into his hands before talking him to his desk. Utonium, meanwhile, stayed with Seven, rubbing her head gently and staring over at Jo.

The taller man noticed that his lab partner was already holding a syringe full of Chemical X. He must have did it while he was straightening up the dining room. That didn't take him more that a couple of minutes so he did it rather quickly. He was really excited when he headed downstairs so the emotion he had for this was genuine.

Utonium watched as Jo injected the chemical into the rodent slowly, moving his yellow vest a little as he did it. He picked up Seven and headed closer to the table, trying to see the experiment for himself. His eyes widened as he watched One's pupils dilate beyond what is normally possible. The little creatures' body started to twitch freakishly, his limbs jerking up and down. He was kicking and squirming as his mouth started spilling frothy saliva.

It looked like he was having a seizure.

Before the taller man could say anything, Jo took the needle out. The two watched as One continued to jerk around wildly, letting out noises that made him almost sound like he was choking. Utonium covered Seven's eyes as One continued to seize.

Jo meanwhile, nodded and started taking notes.

One proceeded to let out choking noises as he stopped seizing. His eye twitched a little before his pupils turned back to normal. The older rat then ceased movement entirely, his eyes starting to slowly dissolve into his skull and the chemical oozing out of every orifice on his face.

Utonium bit his lip, staring at the living rat in his hands before looking at the one that had passed. He glanced up at Jo, who had finished taking notes to stare at One's dead body. He seemed unfazed by the disturbing sight and looked up at his partner.

"When did he die?" he asked almost monotonously.

It was free of any sort of emotion. It was a tone that someone would use when conducting business. When someone wanted to sound as unforgiving as humanly possible. When someone was trying to void themselves of feeling any sort of pain or sympathy.

It almost sounded robotic.

Utonium turned to the clock. "9:30."

"Three minutes." Jo noted on the paper in front of him. "Maybe I put too much into him at once." he glanced at the syringe and spoke as he wrote. "1.5 cc is too much...I'll make a note to put less in Seven's bloodstream as to not overwhelm her system." he put his hand out. "Give her here."

The movements Jo made were almost robotic, as if he didn't care about the rat that him and Utonium raised together from birth had died. It made the taller man feel a little heartbroken, remembering all of the good times they had together when it was just the three of them. Like eating cubes of cheese together and watching movies.

However, he removed all of those thoughts as quickly as they came. They were lab rats. They were used so things can be tested without causing any harm to humans. They were doing their job.

But the act still left a foul taste in Utonium's mouth.

"Hand her over Utonium." Jo stated, shaking his partner out of his thoughts.

The taller man complied hesitantly as he gently held One's corpse, which was already spilling out all of fluids in his little body. He quickly placed it in the contamination waste basket before heading back over to the table.

He watched as Jo placed 0.5 cc of Chemical X into Seven's system.

Utonium held his breath as he noticed that her pupils started to dilate oddly. However, they came back to normal quicker than One's did. Her chestnut brown eyes changed to a bright magenta color as she looked around the room. She eyed the taller man before glancing at Jo, who had readjusted her pink vest before grinning in satisfaction.

"There we go." the short scientist grinned, rubbing Seven's short black coat. "All done."

The small rat's nose twitched rapidly, eyeing everything in the room at speeds that Utonium didn't think was possible. She looked suddenly crazed, as if someone just touched her food and ate it all in one bite. She looked as if she wanted to kill someone.

But she stayed in one spot and didn't move a muscle, apart from her abnormally pink eyes, which darted around wildly.

"Do you think I should inject the other lab rats with it?" Jo asked, staring excitedly at the cage.

Utonium shook his head slowly, dread and fear appearing only in his eyes as he looked at the other rodents from the other end of the room. "I think that's enough for today."

Jo nodded, lifting Seven and putting her back in the cage with the others. All of the other rats moved away from her as she came in but the man that placed her there didn't seem to care. He glanced at the clock and noticed that it was almost ten.

"Are you sure you want to stop Utonium?" the small man asked. "I mean, we still have the rest of the day ahead of us and we aren't doing anything else."

The taller man nodded. He didn't want to lose another one of the rats. Although both Seven and One were tested and the former survived the ordeal, the sight of the latter's corpse still plagued his mind. He hated the sight of it and never wanted to see such a gruesome sight ever again.

Utonium nodded again, slowly. "I'm sure. I..." he ran a hand through his hair. "I think we should take a break..."

Jo simply shrugged, taking off his gloves and lab coat. "Works for me."

He then walked upstairs, leaving Utonium alone. The tall man laid his head on his desk and let out a long sigh.

He knew he wasn't supposed to be emotionally attached to lab rats, especially since they were supposed to risk their lives in the name of science. But he was, mostly since they got the rats when they were little. Number One held a special place in his heart because he was the first one they had gotten before starting their experiments. He loved that rat like a child.

And now he was gone. Worst of all, Jo didn't even care.

Utonium felt a bit of tears fall down his cheeks and he just let them go. He didn't wipe them away, he didn't stop them from dripping down his face. He just left them be, tucking his face into the crook of his folded arms and staying there for a long while.

Chapter Text

Living in Townsville came with sacrifices. A lot of people would try to give up something that would make the burden of them residing in the very town less of a pain. Most people who would lessen the load would give up a pet or quit their job to find better opportunities in a technology based field. One that allowed them to work from home.

Some of these people would give up their own children.

Whether they were just born or very young, they couldn't really care for them since the risk of them being killed was high. Most of the people who decided that this was best for their kids simply didn't care and would put them into the underground system, where they were usually sold to be slaves for gangs in the area, or murdered for sport.

On the other hand, there were parents who actually worried for their children. They want them to have a good home to be raised in and felt as though they weren't fit to care for them due to the crippling city. And those people took their kids to the orphanage.

The systems resided in the same building though, with that one person doing dirty deals at night and following laws in the day. All they cared about was the money that they loitered from the government and the hope for more in the future.

As a result, little went to the kids for education or fun purposes. There was hardly any schooling since he couldn't pay a full time instructor to teach the little guys. There was no holidays, just a simple "happy birthday" or "merry Christmas" before continuing with the day. There were meals but they weren't as delicious and hearty as it should be for a growing child. Just sludge and clumpy porridge.

Even so, the children awaited for the day where they would be adopted into a loving home. Praying that maybe their parents would come back to them or a better family was waiting for them in the outside world. Hoping that they won't get sucked into any of the gang violence and death happened on the other side of their windows.

Until then, they just acted as any kid should. And that included getting into mischief. Today was no different.

"Hey!"

A boy laughed as he ran away from the girls' bedroom, clutching something underneath his black T-shirt. His bushy brown hair flowing in the air as he ran down the steps of the orphanage. He maneuvered around other kids or caretakers that got in his way before making it to the living room.

The interior of the building was dull and similar, with wooden walls and floors. There was no color other than the painting of the establishment's owner and his daughter plastered on corners of the rooms and halls. Even the living room didn't have much furniture or color. Just a scratched up leather armchair and a wooden stool. Not enough space for twenty children to make themselves at home.

After the brunette had disappeared from the staircase, a little girl quickly walked after him. She was wearing blue footie pajamas with lighter stripes going across it. Her dark blonde hair was tied in low pigtails that bounced as she went down each step. As she made it to the bottom, she glanced around the staircase before going down the small hall that led towards the kitchen and living room.

"Mitch!" she called out. "Where are you? Can you give me Octi back please?"

The girl peered into the kitchen for a brief second before going to the living room. Her frown deepen as she scanned the room, not finding the person she was looking for. She was about to step foot into the room but stopped when Mitch rushed past her, pushing her out of the way as he did it.

"Hey!" she cried out again, running after him. "Come back here!"

Mitch laughed heartily as he ran up the steps again. The girl was hot on his tail, panting as she jumped up every step. He quickly reached the top before her and cackled as he pulled the plush octopus from his shirt. He waved it high for her to see as he chided.

"If you want it, come get it~!"

The blonde gritted her teeth before letting out exhausted pants. She excreted more energy as she pushed her way up the steps. Once she reached the top, she noticed that he was no longer there. She stopped to catch her breath. She could feel the tears threatening to fall from her eyes. She sniffled and wiped them away.

Mitch was always one to bully the girls. He would always pull their hair, spit in their food while they weren't looking and took stuff. The victim of it all was poor Octi, who would always get taken away from her. Worst of all, when she would report it to the other caretakers of the orphanage, like Miss Goodelady, she wouldn't do anything about it. This just made her feel more hopeless and sad.

She just wished Mitch would just get adopted already.

She also wish that she could get adopted someday.

"Holly."

The blonde - Holly - lifted her head up. She wiped her face with her forearm and noticed that there was an African American boy with glasses and freckles standing in front of her. He was smiling reassuringly and holding out her beloved Octi for her to reach. She grabbed the toy gently and hugged it.

"Oh Octi! I'm so glad to have you back!"she stared up at the boy in front of her and beamed. "Thank you Joey!"

The boy nodded. "You're welcome. I found him in the boys' room on the bed. Mitch must've gotten bored or something."

Holly nodded, standing up and heading back into the girls' room. Once she got there, she was greeted to major of the girls in there. She raised an eyebrow, glancing at clock that was on the wall. It was almost 4:30, why was everyone upstairs?

She decided not to question it for a while and took a seat on her shared bed. Next to her was a brunette girl with long hair and blue eyes. She wore a white T-shirt with a green apple in the front and some red pants. The brown haired girl raised an eyebrow at the blonde as she sat on the bed.

"Hey Holly, where have you been?" she asked.

The blonde let out a sigh, looking down at her plush octopus and rubbing his head. "I've been dealing with Mitch. He took Octi again..."

"That's the third time this week! Did you do anything to him?"

Holly glanced at the brunette before lowering her head in defeat. She didn't really understand why Mitch would always pick on her. She had never done anything to him, to anyone for that matter. She was a kindhearted, respectful girl who loved animals. Not once had she bothered the boy without a good reason for doing so. Like when Octi was taken by him.

She didn't understand him but stayed hopeful that maybe one day, he'll apologize. Maybe even let her play with him in a way where his rules would seem fair. But for now, she was willing to wait at least a little longer.

"No..." Holly mumbled, shaking her head. "But it doesn't matter, I can wait. Sooner or later, it's going to stop. I don't know how but it will."

The brunette shrugged. "Whatever you say."

Holly decided to change the subject as she notice more girls entered the bedroom. "Anyway, what's going on today Robin? Why is everyone going into the bedrooms?"

"There supposed to be an announcement about something." Robin replied before she bounced her shoulders slightly. "No idea why tho-"

"Alright girls! Listen up!"

Any talking that was going on ceased as the door swung open to reveal a girl and a woman. The younger female had red hair that was put in curly pigtails as well as freckles. She was wearing a warm cream sweater and a black skirt with matching stockings. On her feet were pure white fur boots that were bright against the dark wooden floor. The woman beside her was a pale female with freckles and bright green eyes. She has short, snow white hair and she was wearing a long white buttoned down shirt and a pink shirt that clung to her wide hips. She also had peach colored pumps that clunked against the wooden planks as she entered with the angry redhead, who announced the statement.

Her black eyes glanced around the room before her attention turned to the other girls. She cleared her throat a little before saying. "Now, as you all may know, you dorks are supposed to having dinner at six but since the kitchen is low on food, you aren't getting anything until tomorrow afternoon."

The girls made noises of disappointment before the redhead snapped her fingers impatiently, causing them to shut up. She continued talking.

"Secondly, I would like to announce that while you twits are starving, me and Ima are going to be having dinner with Daddy tonight~!"

"Hey! That isn't fair!" a girl in the corner of the room butted in. She had long scarlet - almost brown - hair and was wearing a white T shirt and pink sweatpants. Her brown eyes glared daggers at the other girl who just entered the room as she approached her. "How come you guys get to eat while the rest of us starve?!"

The woman smirked wickedly, bending down a little so that they could see eye-to-eye. "It's simple Ass-ley. We're loved and have wonderful families of our own and you little monkeys have nothing but old clothes and broken toys." she flicked the girl's nose. "And you know what, because of your little outburst, no food until next week."

The children gasped, causing Ima and the redhead girl to cackle. The latter then added as the duo headed out of the room.

"Carry on with whatever sad thing you were doing~!" she then slammed the door behind her, making the room shake just a bit.

"Way to go Ashley!" a girl with short caramel brown hair tied in a ponytail exclaimed, crossing her arms. "Now we're all gonna starve!"

Robin turned to the girl that just spoke and glared at her. "Hey! Stop that Susie! Ashley was standing up for us!"

"She could've kept it to herself!" another girl's voice rang out. This one had pitch black hair and jade eyes. "Sure Princess and Ima are a bunch of pricks but they are the ones in charge around here. I would've done the same thing if they weren't on the top of the food chain."

Robin's eyes shifted to Ashley. "...Jaiden has a point."

"Anyway, I'm going ta bed." Jaiden climbed into the bed. and covered herself up with the blanket. "I advise the rest of you do the same."

Some of them nodded and started getting comfortable in their beds. Holly was one of them, snuggling with Octi as she covered the blanket over herself. Robin followed suit, laying on the other side of the bed. The brunette glanced out of the window before turning to the blonde. Just as she did it, Ashley walked over to the light switch.

"Let's just get some rest." she said before turning off the lights. "Good night everyone."

It was almost six and the sun was still somewhat visible in the sky but nonetheless, the girls headed to bed, ignoring their aching stomach pains. Robin then whispered, still staring out the window.

"Hey...Holly?"

The blonde sat up. "Hmm?"

"Do you think we're ever gonna get out of here?"

Holly was a girl who tried to hold a lot of hope for the world. Although Townsville was an awful place to be due to all of the crime, she believed that it could change for the better with a little bit of kindness and understanding of others' issues. She didn't think that everyone could be reformed but she knew that maybe people were bad because others were mean to them.

This led to why she was in the foster system. It was mainly because her parents couldn't take care of her. They were loving people sure, but they never had enough funds to bring food on the table every night or give her gifts on holidays. They felt like they were failing her so they gave her up. Holly understood and she had hope that one day, she'll go back to them or with a nice family who loved her dearly.

She nodded in Robin's direction. "I'm sure we'll get out of here someday and when we do, I wanna go with you."

The brunette gasped. "Really?"

"Yeah!" she grabbed her friend's hands and squeezed them tightly into her own. "We can be sisters!"

"Oh, that'll be wonderful! You think they'll adopt both of us even though we aren't real sisters?"

"I'm sure of it!"

The two of them hugged before making themselves comfortable in bed. Holly squeezed Octi tightly before whispering.

"Good night Robin!"

"Night Holly! Sweet dreams!"

Although light of the setting sun still seeped from the windows, the girls slowly went to sleep. The sounds of their stomachs ached them dearly and kept them awake. But after a while of silently staring at nothing but walls, windows and the ceiling, they eventually headed into dreamland.

Chapter Text

Utonium had an uneasy feeling in his stomach.

Throughout the week, him and Jo had been watching Seven's progress with the Chemical X. They (mainly the shorter male) had decided to give the rest of the lab rats similar doses of the concoction. Some of them (Numbers Two, Three and Four) died but it was a few days after they were given the treatment. Their passings also weren't as terribly gruesome as One's, much to Utonium's relief. The other rodents (Numbers Five, Six and Seven) lived on and started to show the side effects of the drug.

Jo found the first sign that the chemical was working the day after he had given it to Seven.

He had came downstairs after breakfast to see that the black rat had dented the cage, allowing all of the other rodents to get free. Also Seven was flying around the lab, knocking things over. The amazement and joy on his face was something to behold as he and Utonium cleaned up the mess. They also placed the rats in a side room so that they won't interfere.

Days pass after that and the rodents started showing more superhuman capabilities. They started ripping holes into walls with their laser vision. They got out of the lab more frequently, blasting off the door knob and flying into the kitchen. Every morning, they would be found eating food from the fridge or the pantry.

While Jo was happy to clean up after them and take notes on their progress, Utonium was started to get worried. He wasn't worried about the rats trying to take over their house's food supply or the fact that they may end up dying like the other rodents have. He was worried that his partner may want more to this.

He could see in the shorter man's eyes that he wanted something more to this experiment. He wanted to expand his testing. He was hungry for knowledge. He wanted to know how things worked. How they reacted in different scenarios and varying situations. He appreciated that about Jo when they first became pals in high school but now, he knew that that curiosity will be the thing that will hurt him.

Which was when the pit in Utonium's stomach started to grow.

Almost two months after Chemical X was given to the youngest lab rat, Seven had passed away. She was mid-flight when she suddenly stopped and fell to the floor with a thud. It happened just as Jo headed downstairs for the day. He was devastated momentarily but he quickly dialed back and took notes. She was the second one given the treatment and the last one to die from it.

The amazement return to Jo's features as he realized this.

Utonium came downstairs after him and noticed Seven's dead body. If he were completely honest, it no longer pained him to see a dead rat. He was used to it after six other rodents died due to the concoction. Sure One's death stuck out to him and it still hurt him emotionally to recall the black fluid leaking out of him the way it did, but the others looked reasonably peaceful when they move into the afterlife.

They looked as they should.

What Utonium focused on was the look in Jo's eyes as they made eye contact. The look made the uneasy feeling the taller man had become more apparent to him. He knew that something awful was about to be suggested. Something terrible that would make the pit in his stomach surface so that the anxiousness showed on his features.

For now, he remained calm until the idea was spoken aloud. And after just a few moments of them staring at each other, he said it.

"I think we should test this on humans."

There it was.

Utonium's eyes widened and a look of horror appeared on his features. He had just started feeling alright with lab rats dying every couple of weeks. He hated to say that but he was truly used to the rodents passing on. But it was entirely different if it was a human.

A human had a family to actually go back to. Parents, siblings, spouses, even children of their own that they cherished and loved. What will they do if they died in the process of an experiment and ruled out like a item on a checklist? They would be so distraught and the idea of that happening to anyone didn't sit well in Utonium's stomach.

"No Jo. This is where we draw the line." he said firmly, his horror turning to anger.

Jo raised an eyebrow. "Why not? We could always ask them for permission."

The taller man shook his head. "No one's going to say yes to an experiment where they know that rats have died in the testing phases...!"

"Then we don't tell them."

Jo had said this so flatly, so seriously that the uneasy feeling started to dwell heavier on Utonium's conscience. It made him feel sick but he stayed as calm and collective as he could. He shook his head once more, this time more adamantly.

"We're not doing that to someone Jo! People are already dying in the outside world by horrible people! Do you want to be one of those criminals who are murdering people?!"

The smaller man said nothing, his eyes going wide slightly.

The taller of the two felt slightly better about Jo's realization of the situation. However, that look was only temporary when he looked at the dead lab rat on the floor. He then looked back up at Utonium with a look of conviction.

However, Jo's lips remained a straight line as he said. "I think we should take a break..."


Jo had returned to the lab in the middle of the night.

His ideas were swarming around in his brain, it was driving him mad. He really believe that they had a game changer on their hands. He believed that Chemical X could be used to help the world. To help the city of Townsville. He really thought that Utonium would see this, that he would be on his side about this.

But that wasn't the case.

Utonium believed that if they were to test it on human beings that he would be considered a murderer. Sure Jo found that putting people through an experiment that could kill them was unethical, but it had to be done to help the world. To make it a better place.

Jo sat down at his desk and skimmed through his notes. Almost all of the rats lived past one week, except One. But that was simply because he had used too much of the chemical. Two and Three died next after their eighth and ninth days of experimentation. Five and Six passed after their fifth week mark and Seven midway through the eighth week.

The younger they were, the longer the Chemical lasted.

He then remembered the other lab rats once again. In his notes, he had pointed out that Two through Seven died without any fluids expelling from their bodies except for X when their bodies have been decomposing for ten minutes. Maybe it was because X intertwined with their blood and filled their veins and blood vessels with X.

"Maybe if I keep supplementing blood into their system every week, they'll live longer..." He flipped to a fresh page in his notepad and wrote it down.  "Yeah, that's what I should do."

The only issue he had left on the table was who was he going to test this on.

Jo thought about the lengths of life between all of the lab rats. He couldn't test it on adults, it was too risky and the idea of supplying lots of blood into them to keep them from dying was a bad idea. Additionally, no consenting adult would ever agree to do this experiment, Utonium was right about that. The risk of them dying was too high.

Children however...

Kids were naive and impressionable. If you told them that you have figured out a way for them to become a superhero, their eyes would light up and they would love to do it. He would be able to do the experiment no problem. Sure the possibility of them dying was still there but at least they had a better chance of surviving it.

However, there was a problem with that. Most kids in Townsville had a parent or two. And Jo would have to get through them if he wanted to do tests on a child. And there was no way that was ever going to happen. He couldn't just approach their guardians and say "Hi, can I use your kid for an experiment that may kill them?"

No, there had to be another way...

The Townsville orphanage was filled with unwanted children. Plus, he had heard that the man running the place - Mr. Morbucks - was pretty sketchy and low brow when it came to some of his deals. As long as he was getting money from it, he'll do whatever you ask him to do. It was perfect. he had the perfect plan.

But he couldn't do it in this lab. There was a terribly high risk of getting caught by his partner if he did it here. He would have to find a different spot if he really wanted to do these experiments. He would have to save up some money to buy a place or find someone who would be willing to assist with little cash on his end.

It was a little risky, especially since he would have to associate himself with a stranger, but it was a risk he was willing to take.

Anything to help the city. Anything to save his Chemical X from fading into obscurity.

He grabbed his laptop and turned it on. After a bit of waiting for it to start up as well as typing his password, he started searching the web for individuals who could assist him in the task. He searched for hours, trying to find someone with enough space to conduct the experiment he plan on doing.

After a while, Jo had found someone requesting a roommate. His eyes widened as the description for the advertisement was something almost too good to be true.

"'Looking for anyone willing to share a home with.'" Jo read from the ad. "'It is rather large, too big for just one person to stay in without getting paranoid. Roommate is required to have some sort of occupation but it is not required for them to pay any bills. I have it all covered. Roommate also has to have proper hygiene and is fun to hang out with.'"

He then went to the pictures and he emerged into another state of shock.

Like stated in the description, the house was really large. It was a white and cream exterior with a flower bed of different colored flora in the front. There was also a small roundabout leading up to the building and had a little bit of stairs to get up to the door. Pictures of the inside were limited but the kitchen and the living room areas were spacious and had enough to cater to the amount of people he may have to bring into the home.

The only thing he had left to do was to confirm with his new roommate that he could do his experiments there. He would also have to tell Utonium that he was leaving. He wasn't going to do it immediately and wanted to make it look as normal as possible. He didn't want his lab partner to grow suspicious.

Jo nodded to himself before looking at the Info page of the ad and contacted the person via email. He had said he was interested and if they could meet up somewhere to chat about the arrangement. He sent it and closed the laptop before turning in for the night, excited for their response.

And even more excited for what was to come.

Chapter Text

Jo felt out of place in the environment he was in.

He was told by the individual in the roommate ad to meet at the Townsville Eatery, one of the more high-end restaurants. He was in the part of the city where the middle and lower class wouldn't even dare to enter. This place was catered to the rich and only for the rich.

Additionally, Jo was told to dress up for this kind of place. And so, he wore a black tuxedo and a purple tie. It made him look sophisticated but out of place as he boarded the public transit to get there. He felt like he was unable to move or sit or do anything without getting a part of his outfit dirty but he pressed on, silently wishing that the person he was supposed to meet had picked him up from home.

Speaking of home, he had to leave the house a little earlier as to not get any questions from Utonium. He could deal with it when he got home instead of being bombarded with inquiries as he walked out the door. Also he didn't want to get lost in a section of the city he had never been in. It made him start sweating.

"Not in the tuxedo..." he mumbled to himself, slowly going into his pocket and applying some cologne for precautionary measures.

After riding on a train and a bus as well as getting directions from some kind locals, he found the building he was looking for. He let out a heavy sigh, removing all of the nerves from his system before walking in. His eyes lit up as he stared at the interior.

Townsville Eatery was a massive establishment, it was easy to tell even from the outside. But the inside made it seem much larger with a plethora of tables and chairs all bunch up together with enough room for waiters and waitresses to move around. There were also booths in the corners just in case you didn't want to sit in the middle of the room. Jo was also focused on the large golden chandelier hanging from the ceiling as well as the shiny items that littered the place like the diamond tree that was placed up front.

The hostess, a brunette lady with dull hazel eyes, looked down slightly at Jo and asked monotonously. "Can I help you sir?"

He opened his mouth to reply but closed it when he realized he didn't know who his new roommate was or what they looked like. His eyes lowered to the floor as he tried to think of what he could say when he noticed white high heeled boots approaching him.

Jo looked up to see a man wearing a white suit with a pink boa over his shoulders. He had short black hair and a small goatee. Although he was dressed mostly masculine, he had slight hints of blush on his dark cheeks and some crimson lipstick to make him look feminine. His body shape was also more on the female spectrum with wider hips and a flat chest.

The man looked as if he was about to tap the shorter male's shoulder but stopped midway when he had realized he had turned around. The taller male's bright green eyes blinked when they made eye contact and they both blushed, turning away awkwardly.

After a few moments, Jo turned back to him. "Um...hi there."

He turned and waved. "Hi...uh..." he grinned. "I was just looking for someone...I didn't tell him any information about me or what I look like so..."

"Are you..." he blushed before opening his phone to show him the email address. "This person...?"

"I am~!" he replied with a grin, shaking hands with the other man. "Names Lucas Him. But people simply call me by my last name."

"Joseph Chimp." he said with a nod. "But friends call me Jo."

"Nice to meet you!" Him's smile never faltered as he strutted over to the hostess. "Morning Janet, how's the husband and the kids~?"

She shrugged. "They're breathing..."

"Excellent. Table for two please."

She nodded, grabbed two menus and left the podium she was standing behind. She gestured them to follow her and they complied. As they walked, Jo took note of all of the people who have already situated themselves in the restaurant. He then glanced down at his phone, staring at the time.

It was almost eleven and people were already so alert. He didn't fully wake up until around noon although he would get out of bed at nine. The only times when he would feel more energized in the morning was when he was conducting the Chemical X experiments. Now that that was over, he didn't feel like it was worth getting out of bed until today rolled around. Now he felt like he had lots of vigor to move into the next phase of his tests.

He just had to get his partner to agree to work with him.

The two of them reached their table a few seconds after he got out of his thoughts and sat down. Their table was in the very back of the restaurant, close enough to smell the food of the kitchen right through the door they sat next to. The light was way more dim in this area, with nothing but a small crystal lamp hanging above the table to give them a source to see. There was also no window by their booth even though they were seated in a corner.

If the room was any indicator to the time of day, Jo would've assumed it was night time.

He glanced up at the person across from him and blushed a little. He had to admit that Him was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. He had such appeal with his dark features and bright lime colored eyes. As Him typed something on his phone, Jo just stared at him before he looked down at the table nervously. He shouldn't be staring, that was rude.

"Hey Jo."

The shorter male stared up at the dark beauty in front of him and his heart started racing. He gulped a little as Him smiled reassuringly.

"You alright honey? You seem tense."

"F-fine." he stuttered before covering his mouth and looking to the side of the table. He then sighed and admitted. "I...I guess you can say I am kind of nervous. I mean...we don't even know each other and-"

"Then let's do it." Him smiled. "That's what we came here for. To get to know each other."

Jo nodded and smiled back at the other male.

The two of them spend a bit of the morning talking about events and people in their lives. Jo told Him that his folks were kindhearted laboratory workers for the Townsville police department while the other man discussed that his mother was part of the fashion industry while his dad was an assistant to a Senator in DC. They also went on about how much they missed the glory days in the town where everyone didn't have to live in fear all the time.

"It's a miracle that this place hasn't been robbed yet." Him stated after the fact. "I mean, this place is riveting with expensive shit."

Jo nodded. "I wonder the exact same thing. Maybe someone of criminal background owns the place?"

"Maybe..."

The shorter man glance at the table, where his empty plate laid. His eyes traced the rim around the piece of china, eyeing the crumbs of pancake and droplets of whipped cream remaining. His focus then returned to Him as the duo made eye contact.

"Hey...Him? Can I ask you something?"

"Ask away darling."

Jo bit his lip. This was the conversation he was afraid of. He really didn't want to bring it up but he had to be truthful with this kind of stuff. He didn't want to seem like a bad person if he was keeping secrets from a person he wanted to stay with.

"Well..." the shorter man scratched the back of his neck, shifting his ponytail to his shoulder as he talked. "It's kind of about what I do. I'm a lab assistant under Professor Utonium. We kind of do a little bit of odd work under the Mayor but our assignments are far and in between. One day, we...I made a chemical called Chemical X and when injected into someone, it can give them superhuman abilities."

Him's eyes widened but he nodded as Jo continued.

"We've tested on lab rats and they all died by the time two months had rolled around. I told my partner if we could maybe test it on humans but-"

"He denied it." the other man finished, his green eyes leveled. "Said it was unethical."

"Y-yeah..." he then sighed and said with conviction. "But I'm so close to a breakthrough! I don't want my chemical to fade into obscurity by other...ineffective things that the bullshit system had already chucked out! My chemical works! I could show you if you let me do my experiments in your house!" he clasped his hands together. "Please Him! I beg you!"

The other man motioned his hands downward a few times, telling Jo to quiet down. He complied and silently apologized as Him started thinking to himself.

Jo gulped, watching Him scan the dirty table to come to a conclusion. The stress of the situation had gotten to the shorter man. He really wanted X to be something great. To help the city of Townsville in some way, shape or form. Maybe to make him some money.

If Him declined to help him, he was stuck trying to find another way out of Utonium's house. It will be more time not spent on finding people to use Chemical X on. It will be time not using the concoction at all. But if he did decide to help...Jo will be able to get his creation out there, to make the world a better place.

Him cleared his throat, causing Jo to look back at the man. There was a gleam to his eye that the shorter man had never seen on anyone before. And the sight of it kind of turned him on.

"I'll help you." he answered, causing Jo's eyes to light up.

"Really?!"

The dark male nodded, folding his legs underneath the table. "But if you end up making money from this, I want twenty-five percent of the profit."

The other man nodded vigorously, shaking Him's gloved hand. "It's a deal! Oh, thank you! Thank you!"

Him laughed heartedly. "It's no problem cutie~!" he then winked, causing Jo to blush. He giggled again. "Oh JoJo, you're so adorable~!"

The two of them got a little bit of dessert, paid for their meals and headed out the door side by side. As they walked out, the cool autumn air and the sun still shining behind a bit of dull clouds reminded the duo that it was the afternoon. They looked at each other as Him asked.

"You want me to drive you home JoJo?"

The smaller man blinked, weighing his options. He would truly love to drive home with Him in whatever deluxe car he owned. But at the same time, he didn't want Utonium questioning who he was with and why he was with him. He sighed in defeat as his eyes turned to his future roommate.

"I would love to but...my lab partner might grow suspicious. He doesn't know that I'm doing this."

Disappointment graced Him's features but he nodded. "I understand. Let me at least pay for your Uber."

Jo blushed. "O-oh no! You don't need-"

"Nonsense dear. If I feel like giving my man a ride, I'm giving him a ride~!"

The scientist's cheeks were burning, a bashful grin appearing on his face. "I-I...uh..."

Him giggled. "Oopsie~! I think I broke him~!"

Jo chuckled awkwardly. "I-I...um..."

"Let see if I could break him even more~!"

Before he could ask what his roommate meant, Him kissed Jo on the cheek. The scientist's grin grew as Him chuckled, calling an Uber to pick him up.

Now Jo was certain that he was going to enjoy the future of this arrangement.

Chapter Text

Jo tried to be very conserved about where he was going on certain days.

He was planning on moving in with Him without catching the attention of Utonium. To do this, he had to think of reasonable excuses and make trips that would make it seem he was doing other things. For instance, when he had went out with his new roommate the first time, he took a quick detour to a cafe to get him some coffee and a couple of muffins before heading home. He then told the taller scientist that he had wanted a change of scenery. He even gave him one of the baked goods he brought home.

It was believable. Utonium believed him.

The next task on Jo's list was to move all of his stuff out of the house and into Him's home. The only problem was that he had to make it look as normal as possible. And so, he would only move his light things, like clothes and little things that he rarely used at the dead of night. Him was outside waiting for him with his car so they would fill the car with the boxes before bringing them to the other house to unload. Of course, they had to take a long detour that got them away from all of the crime of the city. But they were able to safely make it to and from their destination in a night.

They would space these outings out by days, sometimes even weeks. With nothing much to really do, Utonium would find it suspicious to see Jo up at six in the morning, which was when the taller man was up fixing coffee and getting the mail, every day. Sure, certain occasions was okay; he could get away with saying that it was because of insomnia. But no one dealt with multiple insomniac episodes unless there was something wrong with them. So they only went out and move things in small batches.

Soon enough, the last of it was taking care of it. The only thing Jo had left to do was to tell Utonium.

It was the crack of dawn when Jo got up. He could barely sleep, thinking about what he was going to say to his lab partner. A part of him thought this was a terrible idea. That he should just stick to working with his high school friend and forget about Him. Besides trying to do experimentation on children was wrong and if he was found out, he would go to jail for sure. Or worst, end up on death row.

But at the same time, he wanted to see if Chemical X could develop more in people. Give them more than just laser eyes and flying abilities. See if it could truly be used to help the people of Townsville without mishap. He really wanted to witness that, it would pain him if X was never used again.

Also, he really liked Him.

He enjoyed talking with him about lots of things and just being in his presence. He could say that he loved the man, he was a real beauty. But a part of him wanted to remain friends for as long as they could. Relationships were hard to maintain so staying simple companions for a while might be in his best interest.

Jo yawned, sitting up in bed and staring out the window of his room. The darkness in the night sky had disappeared and the sun was just peeking its head out of the horizon. The sky was a brighter shade of the purple it was in the night with subtle hints of blue, orange and pink. It was pretty and he could stare at it for hours.

But he really had to get ready.

The smaller man slipped out of bed, folded up his blanket and sheet before placing it all in the edge of the mattress. He then walked towards his closet and picked out the only outfit that was in there: a black sweater and denim jeans with ebony boots. He put the clothes on his bare mattress before walking into the bathroom. He washed his face and brushed his teeth before heading back out and throwing on his attire.

After he finished, he looked around the room.

He remembered years before, when he had first moved in with Utonium. His life had taken a horrible turn when he couldn't keep up his bills at his old apartment and his old convenience store job. None of those things were really fulfilling his purpose and he knew that his heart belonged in the science field. So when he saw that the professor was looking for a lab assistant, he was not only happy to see that his dear friend had succeed in what he wanted to do but he hoped that this opportunity would open doors for him.

And it has.

He could not be happier that Utonium had brought him this far. That he was now the creator of something that could become revolutionized in today's society. Something that would probably change and save lives, while also probably costing some in the process. It made him scared but hopeful, that he'll be doing something that change the world forever.

Jo let out a sigh, recalling when he had told his lab partner that Chemical X was their creation. He no longer believed that but there was no way he was going to tell Utonium to his face. He remembered when he had packed the last of his stuff. He had taken X with him and replaced it with some juice he dyed black. He wanted the lab to look as if his things were untouched and he had to make sure X was still in its place.

Even if it wasn't.

A knock from the door broke Jo from his thoughts as he looked to it. He opened it slightly to see his lab partner smiling at him.

"Good morning Jo." Utonium greeted. "I made breakfast downstairs."

The other man nodded, a sad smile forming on his lips. He didn't really make eye contact with his friend. His eyes looking anywhere else but into the other male's own. "Alright..."

Utonium blinked before raising an eyebrow. "Is something wrong?"

Jo bit his lip. "Kind of...I'll explain when I come downstairs."

His long time companion nodded, now looking slightly concerned. Jo slowly closed the door before eyeing the room one last time. He grabbed his phone, its charger and his bedding before walking downstairs, closing the door slowly as he headed out.


"So..."

Jo and Utonium were sitting at the table. The latter would usually take this time to drink his coffee and read the newspaper but he had already done those things. His eyes remained on the smaller man, curiosity and concern on his features. The former was not staring at his friend and was instead trying to form words, the right words, to say to his school friend.

"...I'm leaving." Jo said bluntly.

Utonium's concern look intensified, with a hint of shock being thrown into the mix. "I can see that Jo...but I don't understand." his eyes shifted a little. "Why?"

The shorter man looked down at his breakfast, a frozen breakfast sandwich and some coffee, before staring up at his friend. "Well I...found someone and we've been seeing each other for months. I...really like them."

That wasn't a lie but it wasn't the truth either.

The taller man then looked slightly hurt by this revelation. His dear friend had found love and didn't even bother telling him about it. True, Utonium wasn't one to be involved in romance, but there was nothing within Jo's demeanor to prove that he was in love with someone unless he hid it really well. Either he was lying or he knew how to hide things.

"...who are they?" Utonium asked. "At least let me meet them before-"

The honking of a car rang out before he could finish his sentence. A pit formed in Jo's stomach as he didn't think Him would get here so early. He calmed down and made a nudging motion with his shoulder.

"He's here." Jo said. He then smiled reassuringly at his friend. "Wanna walk me out?"

Utonium nodded slowly as his friend left the table. He couldn't really leave as fast as he wanted to. He was still confused by what was going on and how fast it was happening. It was as if he was driving a thousand miles per hour and he had no idea how to stop. He wanted to throw up. He wanted to stop for air.

He wanted his friend to stay.

Quickly, Utonium grabbed his companion's hand before he could reach for the door knob. Jo raised an eyebrow as they made proper eye contact.

The taller man had so many questions but one of them bubbled to the surface and left his lips. "Why?"

Jo blinked. "...why what?"

Utonium's hurt turned to slight anger. "Why w...why would you wait to tell me that you're in a relationship until today? Why wouldn't you tell me about this? I thought we were friends!"

The shorter man lowered his head. He had to think of a proper excuse, something that was believable. And he couldn't prolong it or Utonium was going to think something was up.

"I..." Jo started. "I didn't think you would understand." he then started looking nervous, twiddling his thumbs and staring at his feet. "I-I like guys..."

It wasn't the truth. It wasn't a lie.

The taller man blinked. He forgot that Jo called his lover a he at the last second. Jo was right, he had no idea he liked males. It only occurred to him just now.

He didn't know many gay people but he did know that coming out was really hard for someone to do. It pained him to think Jo was hiding something from him but knowing that it was something he was truly scared to tell him was even worse.

"Oh Joseph..." Utonium sighed, hugging his friend. "I'm sorry..."

"Me too..." Jo muttered, leaning in to the embrace. "I should've told you sooner..."

"It's alright. Things like that are difficult to open up about. But just so know, I accept it and I am completely okay with it."

"Thank you..."

"It's no trouble."

They ended their embrace and they made eye contact. Although Utonium still looked pained, he looked slightly better than how he did before. He smiled at his smaller friend before walking out the door with him.

Outside of the house was a black Mercedes with shaded windows. Because of this, you couldn't tell who was in the vehicle. But Jo already knew who it was. They used this car a few times on their outings. It was Him.

Jo opened the back seat and placed his blanket and sheet in the back. He then closed it and moved to the passenger where he could see Him sitting in the driver's seat with a smile on his face. He then noticed Utonium and waved.

He waved back before looking at his friend, who spoke up. "So...I guess this is goodbye."

"Goodbye for now." he corrected. "We'll see each other again, I hope."

"I hope so too."

They went in for a hug and Utonium was on the brink of crying.

He didn't think this day would come so unexpectedly. Just yesterday, the two of them were just talking out random formulas and chatting about television shows they wanted to catch up on. Now, they were saying goodbye to one another.

He then realized that the timing of all of this was very odd. There would've been subtle hints that he was moving. But Jo had been secretive of it all. He remembered when he had done laundry and it had been smaller on the shorter man's end. He also locked his bedroom door and didn't allow Utonium in there for the last couple of weeks.

Jo was hiding something.

He kept these thoughts to himself though as he watched his friend hop into the car. They said their final goodbyes before the vehicle's door was shut and they drove off. Utonium waved as they left before a worried look appeared on the professor's face.

"Oh Jo...what are you up to?"

Chapter Text

The orphanage was rather quiet this particular morning.

The reason for it wasn't because everyone was still resting in their beds. The children, the caretakers, even Mr. Morbucks was wide awake and alert. It wasn't because something horribly tragic has happened either. Everything was fine and good within the four walls.

It was because it was Adoption Day.

Usually when these days come around, the kids are told to bathe and put on their best clothes for the occasion. They are also forced to brush their teeth until they were pearly white and brush their hair until there was no loose ends. Since they were kids, it was rather difficult for them to do so Ima would also assist. They hated when she did.

Ima would harshly pull at their ears or pluck them if they moved while she worked. She would also fasten hair ties way too tightly or button up shirts too close to their necks so that they couldn't breathe. Even though they were being dressed like dolls, the end result made it worth it. Not only did they look great but the possibility of them being adopted skyrocketed.

If they looked clean and well fed, they were going to be adopted. And this made Ima happy.

Once they were finished getting ready, they were told to stand in the hallway in a straight line. They were supposed to stand a little way from the wall, parallel from where the front entrance was. Their line was supposed to guide the people coming in from the door to Mr. Morbucks' office. They did this with such ease since this day came around almost once a month.

The kids never really understood the purpose of standing the way they did. Sure, being dolled up was fine and all. But why did they have to stand the entire day? It made their feet hurt and some of them would eventually bounce from sitting to standing until it was time for them to eat and go to bed.

It was tiring to say the least.

Once the last child was done getting ready and stood in line, Ima headed towards them. Her green eyes glared at the kids, making sure they were all in order. Some of them shuffled around and fixed themselves before the woman could even ask, which she smiled and nodded at. Others, like Jaiden and Mitch, were too busy prying at their clothes to give the lady any sort of eye contact.

"Jaiden!" Ima scolded, causing the black haired girl to bolt upright. "Stop messing with the ribbon on your dress or I'll tie it tighter!"

The mentioned child frowned. She was wearing a white dress with small four leaved clovers all over it. It was covered in so many frills and lace it made the girl want to vomit. Not only that but there was a large green ribbon tied tightly around her stomach.

Jaiden tapped her black dress shoes on the floor bitterly as she grumbled. "This thing's already tight..."

Ima ignored her and shouted at Mitch. "And Mitch, quit fiddling with your bow tie!"

"It's chokin' me!" he gasped, trying to pry the thing off of him. "I'm gonna die!"

"Quit being a baby Mitch." Jaiden rolled her eyes. "I thought you can handle a little bit of pain~!"

"Can it Jay!"

"Or else what?"

"Shuddup!"

The kids turned to see Princess marching up to Ima from her father's office. The redhead eyed the woman as her yelling was directed to the other kids.

"None of you idiots are gonna get adopted if you keep crying!"

Jaiden and Mitch huffed, staring at the floor.

Princess then said to Ima. "Daddy wants you to run adoption day today. He says he has some important business to handle on the other side of town."

The woman pouted. "What if I don't feel like it?"

"He said that he'll pay you extra for today...in whatever you like, whatever that means."

Ima gasped. a sly grin on her face. "I'll take it, not like I have a choice. Do I?"

"Nah, he already left."

"Right..." she headed down the hall. "Make sure the kids stay in line. Literally."

Princess saluted before turning to the other kids with a wicked smile. She then strutted down the line, eyeing every single child. She suddenly stopped in front of Holly, who was wearing a light blue dress with white frills at the bottom. But the outfit wasn't what the redhead was eyeing. She was looking at the object in her hands.

"...What is that?" the freckled face girl asked, sounding annoyed.

"I-it's Octi." Holly said with a forced smile. She didn't really like Princess and just hoped that the conversation would be over soon.

The redhead nodded before putting a hand out. "Can I hold him?"

The blonde blinked, eyes jumping from Princess' palm to her stuffed toy.

Sure, Holly was always a person who valued sharing but Octi was different. Octi was special. He was the last thing her mother gave her before she moved into the orphanage. The toy was her last piece of hope, allowing her to believe that her family still loved her. That they'll return to her someday.

She didn't want to give him up to her, even if it was for a little while.

Holly softly shook her head.

Princess frowned and it looked genuine sad. "Aww why not? I just wanna hug him. Let me hold him please?"

Holly bit her lip, looking at Octi to Princess.

The redhead always had this awful aura about her. Something about her made the blonde's stomach churn and just made her feel uncomfortable. Sure Princess was a bad person but maybe she's trying to be nice right now. She really wanted to be nice back.

And so, hesitantly, the blonde gave her beloved toy to the redhead.

She immediately regret it.

"Aww~!" Princess gushed. "He's so cute~! I could just pull his little head off~!" she immediately started trying to pry the toy's head off.

"No!" Holly cried but Robin held her back.

"Aww what da matter~?" Princess cooed bitterly, stretching out Octi's fabric. "You're scared that I'm gonna break your stupid little-"

The redhead was cut off when a shoe hit the side of her head. The kids turned towards the front of the line and was greeted to Ashley glaring at Princess. The scarlet haired girl was missing a shoe, further proving that she did the deed.

"Give Holly her toy back Princess!" she demanded as the redhead got up. "Or will I have to whack some sense into you again?"

"My, aren't you kids feisty~!"

The children turned towards the entrance to see two individuals. One was a feminine looking man who was wearing a red and pink fur coat that looked a little too cozy for the autumn weather. It was opened up to show a black top and matching colored pants. He also wore leather high heeled boots that made a loud tap as he walked down the hall. The other person was male as well but about a foot or two shorter. He was wearing a black trench coat that covered everything but his dark brown boots. He had a round and ape-like appearance with long black hair that was pulled into a ponytail as well as a beard.

They walked down the hallway and while the shorter man stared straight ahead, the taller one grinned at Ashley. He then stopped and bend down to her height. He examined her like someone would a piece of furniture, pulling her out and standing up so that he could circle her.

"You are very cute." he stated. "There's also an...intelligent aura about you."

The shorter man looked at the scarlet haired girl as well and nodded softly. "Yes, she does." he smiled. "I like it."

"Me too."

Ashley smiled politely before they continued to walk down the hall. After they entered Mr. Morbucks' office, she turned and got back in line just before her shoe could hit her. She raised her eyebrow and turned to see a fuming Princess.

Ashley tsked, shaking her head sadly. "You have awful aim..."

"Shut up!" the redhead barked. "Shut up or I'll-"

"You'll what? Tell your Daddy? Cry? Because if you plan to do any of those things, I don't really care. I'm getting adopted and there's nothing you can do to change that."

Princess gawked as Ashley smirked. All of the other kids stared at the latter in awe before whooping and clapping their hands gleefully. The redhead screamed in rage before she marched down the hallway and into her father's office.

Holly grabbed her toy and hugged it before turning to the scarlet girl with a smile. "Thank you Ashley!"

"It's no trouble..." she said and blushed. "Anything for a person in need!"

"Ya do realize that there's no guarantee you'll get adopted today right?" Jaiden asked. "I mean, they said that they liked you but that doesn't mean they'll take you."

"I'm pretty sure they will." Ashley grinned confidently. "I mean, I practically already demonstrated my character. I'm helpful, polite, and I have a sense of justice. They'll have to pick me."

The black haired girl pouted. She rolled her eyes before leaning against the wall. "Whatever you say..."

The scarlet girl beamed proudly as she stood at attention. She knew that just in a matter of minutes, she'll be taken in by those two. Or just one of them if they weren't together. Either one will be fine with her.

Not only did those two have an intelligent aura about them but they seemed well respected and dignified, mainly by their clothes. It made her feel proud to see that some people did view her in an adoring light, even though it was at a time when she believed she was at her worst.

She was sure that she was getting adopted today. She was one hundred percent certain of this.