Hajime wanted to demand a refund on this day, it was fast becoming the most hellish day of his life. It started off normally enough, well normal as far as the residents of cell 13 were concerned.
At the start of his shift, before he could even begin his rounds and the morning roll call, he caught Number 15 sleeping in the Night Duty Room… again, and had to escort the trouble maker back to the cell, after giving him a hard whack on the head.
Then, Number 11 almost made them miss breakfast due to his morning routine running overtime, which caused Number 69 to get agitated because he was hungry, and Yamato to mistake it for enthusiasm about training.
He was seriously taking that out of Yamato’s salary because there was now a huge crater in the wall and Hajime would likely be the one getting written up for that.
Because he was rushed to finish his facial, Number 11 was in a foul mood and took it out on Seitarou when he came to escort them to breakfast, causing the young guard to break down in tears and come blubbering back to the office.
Hajime, having had enough of their antics, gave both Number 11 and Number 69 a whack on the head. “Knock it off! Now hurry up before you completely miss out on breakfast!” he growled at them.
They both immediately gave up on any protests they had. Number 15 was watching everything warily, still sufficiently cowed from his earlier punishment, and Number 25 was completely unbothered by the events happening as he was too preoccupied with the latest manga.
Fortunately, they made it before breakfast was over and Shiro took pity on them, so he provided some extra food. There were no hiccups while they were in the mess hall, they all fully enjoyed their meals and cleared their plates.
On the way back to the cell, they stopped by the infirmary so Number 25 could take his medicine. While they waited in the infirmary and Dr Otogi gave Number 25 a quick check-up, Kaguya was sent to retrieve the medicine.
She removed the medication from the bag and set to work, crushing up some of the pills so they could be more easily ingested, and measuring out the required dosages. It was while Kaguya was carrying out this task: that was the point when things went completely to hell in a hand basket.
Before anybody could stop them, Number 69 and Number 11, jumped in front of the android and started vying for her affection. They ended up having a small scuffle, knocked the medication out of Kaguya’s hands and sent it flying, straight at Number 15, who was too surprised to evade the shower of drugs which poured all over him. He was left completely saturated by the unfamiliar liquid, coupled with a fine layer of white powder.
Nico gave a cry of dismay, “Oh no, not my medicine!”
But it was the doctor’s alarmed shout which drew everyone’s attention, “You damn idiots! Those drugs aren’t supposed to be for anyone else except Number 25! They were specifically tailored to suit his unique constitution!”
“What the hell does that mean?!” Uno scowled at the doctor, frustrated that there was once again interference with his plans to go on a date with Kaguya.
“It means, that I don’t know what will happen if they come into contact with another person!” the doctor glared at the gambler. “And if you touch my daughter again, I’ll kill you!”
Jyugo was still standing frozen after being completely doused by the medication. He was starting to feel really strange, but before he could say anything, his vision suddenly whited out and it felt like he was falling into a deep abyss.
Everyone’s attention was drawn to the escape artist when he emitted a strange choked sound and they all turned, just in time, to see him vanish in a cloud of smoke, leaving the group to stare in stunned horror at the item of clothing that remained.
Hajime almost completely lost it, “What the hell did you idiots do?!” he roared, fisting a hand in both Rock and Uno’s shirts.
The two weren’t given any time to respond, as they all froze upon hearing a small, frightened whimper. Everyone’s gazes quickly honed in on Jyugo’s prison jumpsuit, where they could see some slight movement, followed by a tiny head popping out. They stared in shock at the baby, there was no mistaking who he was, not with those eyes.
He gazed back with wide, vibrant orbs, small lips quivering, tears beginning to pool, and a moment later, Jyugo was wailing at the top of his lungs.
The group was too shocked to move, but Uno managed to break out of his stupor and quickly moved towards the small figure of his best friend. Jyugo shied away from his touch at first and the gambler had to carefully coax him into allowing himself to be picked up.
He held the infant up to his shoulder and gently patted his back, making soft shushing sounds to calm him down. Jyugo’s cries soon toned down into soft snuffles and hiccups, and the others, especially Nico, who’d finally come out of their shocked state, were trying hard not to squeal at how cute it was.
“Oh my. Can you please bring him here Number 11? I would like to examine Number 15 and see what we’re looking at,” Dr Otogi finally spoke up with a sigh.
“Sure, but do you have something to wrap him in? He’s cold,” Uno said sheepishly, watching as the now-turned baby form of his best friend huddled into his shirt for warmth.
The doctor asked Kaguya to retrieve a baby blanket and she showed Uno how to wrap Jyugo in it. The others were all watching transfixed as well. After he was wrapped up snuggly, Uno brought him over to the exam table so the doctor could give him a check-up.
“Let’s have a look at you kid,” Dr Otogi murmured, taking out his stethoscope and listening to the baby’s heart and lungs.
Jyugo let out another frightened whimper when the doctor started his examination, not at all happy about the strange man touching him and because the stethoscope was cold. His little face started tearing up again and he looked to Uno, desperately reaching his arms out to be held.
“It’s okay buddy, you’re fine,” Uno said, gently stroking Jyugo’s raven locks.
Dr Otogi finished examining the little one, and recorded his weight and measurements. He also took a blood sample and Jyugo really didn’t like that. He started crying loudly and the gambler quickly scooped him up for a cuddle.
“Hey Jyugo, it’s okay little guy,” the gambler was rocking him and trying to calm him down.
“Sorry kid,” the doctor said contrite. “He seems to be perfectly healthy and appears to be around 10 months old, from what I can tell.”
“What the hell am I supposed to do about a 10-month-old inmate, Okina!” Hajime growled. “Is this effect permanent?”
“I don’t believe so Sugoroku, but I do require the blood test results before I can draw any real conclusions,” he said. “In the meantime, you guys will have to take care of him.”
“You can’t be serious?!” Hajime said aggravated. “Do you know how much work I have to do?!”
The doctor shot him a glare for that remark. “Do you know how much work I have to do, here in the infirmary?! And you guys keep adding to my work load!”
In the end, the doctor and Kaguya had to assist them with getting baby supplies organised, and Seitarou was also called to the infirmary, so he could be advised about the situation.
The young guard took one look at Jyugo and promptly fainted. Hajime was extremely ticked off about it and the doctor had to rouse him, using smelling salts, before the Supervisor resorted to homicide.
“Dammit Seitarou! This is serious and I require your undivided attention!” Hajime scolded him harshly.
“Yessir!” he sputtered nervously and saluted.
Kaguya gave them a brief lesson on how to dress a baby, which Uno picked up really fast, and he easily got a cloth diaper on Jyugo. It did help that the tiny escape artist seemed to have taken a liking to the gambler and started to fuss if anyone else tried to pick him up.
Dr Otogi explained that because Uno was the first person to comfort him and make him feel safe after the change, he’d somehow imprinted on the gambler. They would have to get him used to other people though because Uno couldn’t always be with him 24/7.
Seitarou was able to create a small onesie for Jyugo, from one of his existing jumpsuits, and it was adorable.
“Well look at you. You’re just the cutest little thing, yes you are,” Uno said playfully, tickling Jyugo gently and causing little giggles to erupt.
“That is so adorable!” Nicole couldn’t help squealing.
“Yeah, I have to agree,” Rock said with a large grin.
“I’m going to have to report this to the Warden,” Hajime said reluctantly. He was also finding the sight really adorable but would never admit it out loud.
“I’ll give you a copy of the medical report to take with you,” Dr Otogi said helpfully. They also took a photo of the baby to show the Warden.
After completing his own report on the incident, Hajime took the files and the cute photo, and headed off to speak with Warden Hyakushiki.
“I’m leaving you in charge until I return Seitarou,” he advised the younger guard on his way out.
“Of course, Supervisor,” Seitarou acknowledged the directive and saluted him.
While he went off to make his report, Dr Otogi asked to observe their tiny escape artist further, and the gambler sat down with him on the floor. The baby looked around curiously, and now that he was no longer afraid, the tot was quite eager to observe his surroundings.
The doctor had already advised them that Jyugo had four teeth, two upper and two lower incisors. They also discovered that he could crawl, very quickly, pull himself up, and cruise around using the furniture. He was almost ready to walk unaided.
Jyugo still got anxious if he was too far away from Uno though and would start to get upset. Which was a bit of a bummer, because the other two, especially Nico, really wanted to have a cuddle. Seitarou was also trying to resist the temptation.
Hajime was extremely nervous about meeting with the Warden. He had no idea how she would take the news about Number 15. Taking a deep breath, the Supervisor steeled himself, and knocked decisively on the office door.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” the Supervisor greeted as he entered the room.
“This is unexpected, Hajime Sugoroku,” the Warden said a little surprised.
“Hey Hajime, don’t tell me you screwed up.”
Oh great, the damn monkey was also here. “I apologise for the intrusion Warden Hyakushiki. There has been a rather strange development in Building 13 and I felt it best to report it directly to you.”
“A strange development you say?” the Warden frowned.
“It involves Number 15,” Hajime replied, shooting a quick glare at the monkey that warned him to keep his mouth shut. Samon had been about to say something and quickly snapped his jaw closed. “As you know Warden, Number 25 has various weird illnesses and allergies.”
“Yes, I recall. But what does that have to do with Number 15?” she asked curiously.
“I escorted the inmates, from cell 13, to the infirmary on the way back from breakfast this morning, so that Number 25 could take his medication. But unfortunately, an incident took place while we were there, which lead to Number 15 being doused by the medication that was intended for Number 25. This resulted in a very strange occurrence.”
“Come on Hajime, are you going to actually explain properly?!” Samon was getting impatient.
“Shut up Monkey!” Hajime growled.
“Kiiiih! Don’t call me a monkey, you bald-headed gorilla!” Samon yelled back.
Ignoring Samon, Hajime continued his explanation. “Number 15 has currently taken on the form of a 10-month-old baby,” he said bluntly.
“What?!” Samon shrieked.
“I have the full report here, as well as the medical report from the doctor,” Hajime responded, handing it to the shocked Warden.
Momoko quickly and carefully read through both reports and took note of the photo that had been attached. “So, this is what he looks like right now?” she asked, still feeling quite stunned. “I see he still has the shackles on.”
“Yes ma’am, that photo was taken right before I came to report to you,” Hajime affirmed. “We did note the presence of the shackles, but they have changed to a dull grey colour.”
Samon had come closer to have a look as well. “Oh wow, that is crazy,” he said shocked.
“We agree on something for once, monkey.”
“Stop calling me a monkey, you bastard!”
The Warden quickly cut off their argument before it could escalate. “It says here that the doctor is awaiting the results of a blood test, to determine anything further, but he believes the effect to be temporary. For now, I’ll authorise the doctor’s request for the necessary baby items and Number 15 will remain in your care.”
“Thank you very much, Warden Hyakushiki,” Hajime responded, giving a salute. “I’ll take my leave now.”
Before he could start moving, Hajime was stopped by one last comment from the Warden. “One last thing, Hajime. This information is to be kept under wraps; I don’t want the higher ups catching wind of it. They are already showing far too much interest in Number 15 as it is.”
“Of course, ma’am. I’ll keep the information confidential. The only ones who know, other than the people here in this room, are Number 15’s cellmates, Seitarou, Okina, and Kaguya,” Hajime answered.
“Very good then. I do intend to hold an emergency meeting with the Supervisors to inform them about this, just in case. But ultimately this information will be kept internal and I’ll have Hitokoe implement security measures.”
Hajime nodded, “I agree. Was there anything else Warden?”
“No, that’s all for now, Hajime. You are dismissed. But please keep me informed of what’s happening.”
“Yes ma’am,” he gave a final salute and departed from the office. “That went better than I expected,” Hajime felt relieved. “Now, I better get back quickly.”
Back at the infirmary, they were still watching over Jyugo. He was exploring the area, by either crawling, or trying to pull himself up and move around using the furniture. Dr Otogi had been observing him and was soon alerted that his request was approved by the Warden.
“Kaguya, can you please go ahead and place the order for those baby items? Here’s the approval slip from the Warden.”
“Yes, of course father,” Kaguya took the approval and set off to fulfil her duty.
Uno looked at the doctor curiously. “What was that about doc?”
“We need to order baby items and furniture, in order to sufficiently care for Number 15,” Dr Otogi answered.
“Oh, I see. But how do we care for him in the meantime?”
“There is a limited stock of basic necessities already here, so we can make do for today. The remaining essential items will be delivered tomorrow.”
“Gotcha,” Uno said grinning and returned to watching the little one. Kaguya had earlier locked up the cabinets and baby proofed any other possible hazards.
Once the android returned from processing the order, she made a new batch of medication and ensured that Nico took it.
“Oh, it tastes like chocolate,” Nico said happily. Now that he’d taken his medicine, finally, he was eager to cuddle his tiny cellmate. “Hey Jyugo, come here?” the otaku kneeled down near the wide-eyed baby, and held his arms out attempting to the coax the little one over to him.
Jyugo immediately became wary and looked around for Uno. “I’m here buddy,” the gambler grinned at him, moving to sit by Nico. “It’s okay, you can go to Nico.”
The baby still looked a bit nervous, but he eventually crawled slowly over to Nico. “Aww, you’re so cute!” Nico squealed and picked him up, cuddling him against his chest. Jyugo snuggled against him.
Rock came to sit with them and also wanted to have a cuddle, which Jyugo tolerated for a while, but he soon started fussing and wanted Uno. The gambler had to take him when he started crying again.
“Aww, come here little guy. It’s okay,” Uno cooed and rocked him until he calmed down. The baby ended up falling asleep against his chest, so the gambler moved to the lounge and settled in to wait for Hajime. Rock and Nico moved to sit on either side of him, watching Jyugo sleep, and all three of them wound up nodding off.
That’s how Hajime found them, once he returned from the meeting with the Warden. He stood staring for a few moments, and was only brought back to reality by Seitarou snapping a photo of the sleeping inmates.
“That’s so adorable!” he squealed.
“What the hell are you doing Seitarou?!”
“Um, I thought they looked really cute sleeping like that, sir. So, I wanted to take a photo,” Seitarou said, suddenly feeling really nervous.
“Che, whatever,” Hajime grumbled. There’s no way he would ever admit out loud, that he also found the sight very cute.
Now that the Warden had been informed of the situation and, the necessary furniture and items had been ordered, they needed to work out how to properly care for a baby. Hajime could feel his stomach cramping up badly from the stress.
“Here you go Supervisor,” Seitarou presented him with his stomach medicine and a glass of water.
“Thanks Seitarou,” he was grateful that his subordinate was reliable in this situation.
“Sugoroku, since we only have a very limited supply of items to care for Number 15 at present and he’s imprinted on Number 11, it would be best if he stays in cell 13. That means it needs to be baby proofed,” the doctor said in a matter-of fact tone. “I’ll send Kaguya with you to assess what needs to be done.”
Seitarou gently woke the sleeping inmates and explained to them what was happening. All three stood up and stretched, attempting to wake themselves up properly. Uno had to do so carefully, with the still-sleeping baby nestled against his chest.
They were just preparing to leave, when they were interrupted by another voice.
“Hey Hajime! Where is the little brat?!”
“What the hell are you doing here monkey?!” Hajime glared harshly at the intruder.
“Don’t call me a monkey! You ugly, bald-headed gorilla!” Samon yelled back. “Now, where is he?!”
“Don’t call me a gorilla! You damn pest!”
“If you two assholes wake him up, I’m going to kill you!” Uno spoke up in an icy tone, causing both Supervisors to stare at him.
Samon finally took notice of the tiny figure still asleep against the gambler’s chest and gaped in shock. “It’s really true,” he said in disbelief.
“Of course it’s true,” Hajime said irritated. “Did you honestly think I would make up such a cock and bull story to report to the Warden?”
“Why are you lingering here?! Hurry up and get your inmates back to their cell Sugoroku!” Dr Otogi scowled.
“Yes, let’s go,” Uno shot one last venomous look at the two Supervisors and then walked out of the infirmary.
Hajime could feel a twitch developing, that cheeky punk. “Hold up Number 11, I will not allow you to go wandering off without an escort. Come on you two, hurry up!” he directed this statement at Number 69 and Number 25.
“Coming Hajime-chan!” Nico replied in a sing-song tone, skipping after Uno.
“Yeah, I am getting hungry again,” Rock muttered and walked after his cellmates.
“You just ate breakfast dammit!” Hajime growled, striding after them.
“Wait for me Supervisor!”
“I’ll see you later, father,” Kaguya addressed the doctor, before following the others out.
“Don’t misbehave in front of my daughter, you damn brats!” Dr Otogi called after them.
The Building 5 Supervisor wasn’t really sure what to say, this was the strangest thing he’d ever encountered. “Che, fine then. I’ll be taking my leave now,” he said stalking out of the infirmary.
Once they arrived back at cell 13 and Hajime ushered them inside, Kaguya wasted no time in assessing the room. To start off with, she checked the mattress on the bottom bunk bed, and finding it to be reasonably firm, requested that they help her move it onto the floor.
They used it to make a temporary bed for Jyugo, until a proper crib arrived the next day. Kaguya completely stripped all of the bedding off, removed all the pillows and put on a clean fitted sheet. She then instructed them all about safe sleeping practices for babies and asked Uno to lie Jyugo on his back.
The three inmates proceeded to baby proof the cell, under Kaguya’s direction, and Hajime’s supervision. Seitarou had returned to the Guard Office, after speaking briefly with Hajime and receiving a raised eyebrow in response. Uno had no idea what that was about.
Clothes were sorted and put away, cleaning tools locked up, all items were removed from the floor, and lockers were secured. The gambler nearly cried when he had to hide all of his care products to make sure that Jyugo wouldn’t be able to get at them.
When they were finally done with the baby proofing, Hajime made them clean the cell thoroughly, and soon it was almost time for lunch. Jyugo woke up from his nap and immediately started fussing, until Uno picked him up and calmed him down.
It turned out that he was hungry and they stopped by the infirmary again to get some formula. Kaguya prepared some special baby formula, under her father’s instructions, and taught them how to make up a bottle. The three inmates were learning fast, especially the gambler, who was quickly becoming a pro. Hajime was also observing everything and making a mental note.
Uno got himself comfortable on the lounge, with a still fussing infant in his arms. “Hey Jyugo, look what I’ve got for you,” he said grinning widely. “Here’s your bottle.”
Jyugo instantly stopped crying, as soon as he could latch onto the teat, and started suckling away contentedly. His tiny arms reached up to grab at the bottle. Kaguya came over briefly to make sure he was feeding properly and then left Uno to it. Nico and Rock had also come over to watch, and the otaku had stars in his eyes.
“He’s soo cute!” Nico squealed.
“He sure is,” Rock said grinning.
They were still having problems with fully comprehending that this small baby, was their troublesome, yet still loveable escape artist.
“I wonder how long he’s going to stay like this for?” Uno thought out loud.
“Hopefully, not too long,” Hajime grumbled from nearby. He’d been keeping a close eye on them.
After Jyugo finished his bottle, Uno was told to place a blanket over his shoulder, and Kaguya directed him on how to burp a baby. He rested Jyugo against his shoulder and patted the baby’s back, until he heard him release a loud burp.
“Oh, that was a good one,” he chuckled.
After a while they set off again for the mess hall. The inmates were feeling quite hungry by this stage and the sound of their growling stomachs echoed in the corridor.
“Hey Uno, how are you going to eat while you’re holding Jyugo?” Rock asked curiously.
“Hmm, well I do have an idea of what to do about that,” Uno replied with a mischievous grin.
“What do you mean by that?”
“You’ll see soon, Rock.”
As they were nearing the entrance to the mess hall, Uno suddenly stopped and turned to Hajime.
“Here, you can take care of him, while I eat,” he said matter-of-factly and gently deposited Jyugo into the shocked Supervisor’s arms.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing Number 11?!” Hajime growled at him, recovering quickly from his surprise.
“Don’t make such a scary face,” Uno shot back at him with a glare. “You’ll traumatise him.”
With those parting words, the three inmates entered the mess hall and Hajime was left holding a curious infant. Jyugo gazed at his face with big round eyes, his chubby cheeks seeming to inflate even more, and giving the impression that he was pouting.
“Stop looking at me like that,” he grumbled.
Jyugo’s eyes started watering and Hajime tried not to panic. Sure enough, he started crying again.
“Don’t cry dammit,” Hajime said patting him on the back awkwardly. “You’re still so troublesome.”
It took a little while, but Jyugo finally calmed down a bit and was trying to look around from in Hajime’s arms. He soon got bored of that exercise and was once again staring at Hajime. The Supervisor was totally caught off guard when a tiny hand touched his face and small giggles erupted.
“Well, at least you aren’t crying anymore,” he said relieved. “But I have no idea what’s so funny.”
Jyugo continued to let out small giggles and babble away to the Supervisor, as Hajime walked to the Guard Office. He would return in a short while to collect the troublemakers, after they finished eating lunch, but for now it was unwise to have a baby around the other inmates.
When he got back to the Guard Office, Hajime was surprised to see that Seitarou was working on a sewing project. He was wondering what the younger guard meant when he said he had an important job to do and left cell 13 early, but this is not what he was expecting.
“Hey Seitarou, what the hell are you doing?” he queried in an exasperated tone. The baby continued to babble happily in his hold and Hajime wasn’t sure how he felt about this development.
“I’m making a teddy bear for Number 15,” Seitarou responded, blushing heavily. “I would also like to make a baby blanket and some more clothes.”
And indeed, Hajime could make out the starting formation of a plush bear. He pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “Seitarou, you know that Number 15 isn’t going to remain like this. So, why are you wasting time on something so trivial?”
“With all due respect Supervisor, we don’t know how long he will stay like this. Not even the doctor has been able to confirm a timeframe yet.”
“We’ll know more once the blood test results come back,” Hajime replied coolly. He decided to drop the subject, for now.
Jyugo was starting to get restless and wanted to explore. He kept squirming until Hajime set him down on the ground and then gazed at his surroundings with wide eyes. Kuu wandered in, “Mrrow,” and rubbed against the little one, startling him at first, but then the baby grasped onto his fur and started to babble happily.
A clicking sound drew Jyugo’s attention to Seitarou, as he’d briefly left his sewing to take a photo of the baby’s interaction with Kuu. “Oh my goodness, I can’t get over how adorable he is like this!” the young guard gushed.
Kuu managed to somehow keep Jyugo occupied, while Hajime finished some paperwork and Seitarou continued to work on his plush creation. Hajime was about to set off again for the mess hall, as the other inmates should be finished with their meal by now and Jyugo was starting to get anxious when he couldn’t find Uno. The office door suddenly springing open, followed by a sudden loud and cheerful voice, derailed those plans.
“Good afternoon, Supervisor!” Yamato stepped inside and offered a firm salute. “Isn’t it a pleasant day?” He was once again carrying a whole bale of rice over his shoulder, which he set down on the table.
His loud greeting scared Jyugo and the baby whimpered, before starting to wail loudly. Yamato was caught off guard by the sudden crying. “What’s going on, Supervisor? Seitarou-kun?” he queried, confused by the presence of an infant.
“Dammit Yamato! You’re always so loud!” Hajime growled. He carefully picked Jyugo up and attempted to sooth him.
“Ah, Supervisor, you shouldn’t hold him like that,” Yamato said, taking the crying baby gently from Hajime and placing him against his shoulder. He was able to calm Jyugo in record time. “Sorry little one, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“Deputy Supervisor, how did you calm him down so easily?” Seitarou was staring at Yamato in shock.
“What do you mean?” Yamato asked perplexed. “I had to do this for Nadeshiko as well.”
Hajime and Seitarou were stunned speechless, they had both forgotten that even though Yamato was a bit of an airhead, he was also a very devoted family man, with a wife and child. So of course, he had experience looking after a baby.
“I’m going to collect the cell 13 inmates from the mess hall,” Hajime finally said. “Seitarou, can you please explain the situation to Yamato? Take care of Number 15 while I’m gone.” The Building 13 Supervisor quickly strode out of the office.
“Number 15?” the Deputy Supervisor questioned Seitarou.
“Yes, Deputy Supervisor. You’re holding Number 15 right now,” the younger guard explained.
Yamato stared at his small charge in shock. There was definitely no mistaking it, there was only one inmate who possessed eyes like that. “What on earth happened?!”
“It’s a long story,” Seitarou answered wearily and proceeded to explain everything to Yamato.
When Hajime returned to the Guard Office, with the three residents of cell 13 in tow, it was to find Seitarou sitting on the lounge and holding a content baby. Yamato had encouraged Seitarou to get used to handling Jyugo and gave him some tips to improve his confidence.
The little one seemed pretty happy with this arrangement for a short while and was babbling away to the young guard. He soon started to get restless and upset again though, after being away from Uno for so long. Even Yamato couldn’t get him to calm down this time and he wouldn’t settle until the gambler took charge of him.
“Hey Jyugo, did you miss me?” he asked playfully, snuggling the baby against his chest and rubbing soothing circles on his small back. Jyugo finally calmed down and his cries turned into soft sniffles, but he was squirming around and seemed to be very uncomfortable.
Yamato explained that Jyugo required a diaper change and they all trooped back to the infirmary, to see Kaguya and get a fresh diaper. Uno expertly changed and redressed the baby, and also fed him again while they were there. He was only able to drink half of the bottle this time, so Kaguya stored the formula away for later.
Hajime made them return to the cell afterwards and they spent a bit of time entertaining Jyugo and letting him explore. A couple of hours later they were called to the infirmary once more, as Jyugo was due for another feed and Dr Otogi wanted to discuss the test results.
While Uno was feeding Jyugo the remainder of the formula from earlier, Dr Otogi told them about his findings. “All things considered, he is in reasonably good health, with the exception of a few vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In particular his iron levels need to be monitored,” the doctor explained in a slightly exasperated tone. “I believe this has carried over from when he was his normal self. I have already discussed his nutritional requirements with the apprentice Chef.”
Hajime nodded in understanding. “Well, that’s at least some good news. Any idea of how long this is going to last?”
“About that,” the doctor replied sounding slightly troubled. “I did find something else during the blood test.”
The Building 13 Supervisor narrowed his eyes at the doctor. “Is it that serious?”
“That’s not it,” Dr Otogi sighed. “It’s just somewhat confusing. I can’t confirm exactly how long this state will last; however, it does seem I was correct about it only being temporary.”
“So, what’s the problem then?” Hajime was starting to get irritated about the doctor’s evasive answers.
“The blood tests detected abnormally high levels of Human Growth Hormone. This seems to indicate that rather than instantly transforming back to normal, Number 15 will undergo an accelerated growth process,” the doctor explained wearily. “I will also report these findings to the Warden.”
“Wait a minute,” Uno said shocked. “Does that mean, we’re going to watch him actually grow up?”
“That is precisely what it means,” Dr Otogi confirmed.
“Wow, that’s so cool!” Nico blurted out.
Hajime very much disagreed with Number 25’s statement, this was not good. Not good at all. “How long will it take for him to ‘grow up’?” he asked, with emphasis on the ‘grow up’ part.
“By my calculations, I’m estimating that it will take a few months before he returns to his proper age.”
“You have got to be kidding me!” Hajime growled.
“I’m afraid not, Sugoroku. There isn’t anything we can do at this point, so we’ll all just have to deal with it the best we can,” the doctor replied firmly.
This revelation came as a huge shock to everyone, especially Jyugo’s cellmates. But by the same token, Uno decided, it was also a perfect opportunity, to give Jyugo the childhood that he’d completely missed out on. He couldn’t help the warm smile that spread over his face at that thought, and he gave a soft look to the content baby, who had once again fallen asleep in his arms.