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Two out of Three

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"Mister Richard, I need to speak to you."

"In a moment, I'm very busy." Magnum didn't think the man looked too busy, refilling his mug and flipping through some papers on a clipboard on the table.

"It's... important."

"Mmm." The disinterested noise made Magnum frown. Despite everything they had gone through, Richard was still very typical of the sort of man that Dark Laboratories had always sought out: brilliant, but kind of difficult to talk to.

Magnum waited patiently while Richard wrote a few notes and finished his drink, trying not to fidget in his impatience. It was always a test with Richard as he recalled it, and every little motion would probably get jotted down to be reviewed and questioned and analyzed. Finally the man stood and set the board and cup aside to head for the door. "We will talk later, Magnum Ace. I have some things to attend to."

"Richard, please," Magnum's hand slammed down on the door to prevent it from opening, hindering the engineer's retreat. He was getting tired of this game of chase the mechanic, especially since he had to travel to Dark's headquarters to speak with him. He'd spent the last three weeks since the World Cup trying to get his attention and he wasn't going to waste it now. "You have to help them."

Unmoved by the Leaguer's show of force, Richard's hands slipped casually into his coat pockets as he regarded the frowning bot. "And what is it that you think needs helping, Magnum Ace?"

"We can't just leave them; we can't just leave them partitioned and still at war in their minds-"


"We can't just abandon them now that the production of soldiers has stopped, we have to fix what they've done to them-"


"You have to repair my brothers! This isn't fair to them, we can't simply leave them as they are! You have to help them!"

Richard only allowed a small sigh to escape him and took a moment to smooth down his beard. "They will have to ask me themselves, Magnum."

Magnum Ace froze at the simple reply, his arm once holding the door shut by force now needed simply to hold himself upright. Seeing his plight, Richard ducked under his arm and strode out of the lab. "We will discuss this later."

Shaking himself from his stupor, Magnum Ace gave chase. "Richard you HAVE to help them!"

"They have enough of their memories to recognize you, Magnum Ace. To have the rest restored to them, they would need to ask me directly. I cannot simply reprogram them without their consent."

The leaguer stepping bodily in front of him, stopped him again, and he adjusted his glasses to stare up at the scowling Magnum Ace.

"Consent?" the baseball leaguer echoed in disbelief, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. "Did you ask for Ryuuken's consent to install the Heart Kit? Did you ask MY consent to install the Heart Kit? I don't remember us discussing it, I don't remember being allowed to choose which of your experiments you installed in me. Because I was too young to understand, wasn't that what you said? You'd explain 'some day' when I could understand? Suddenly now you've grown some sort of conscience?"

When no reply was forthcoming from the blonde man, Magnum's fingers clenched tighter, his arms trembling. "You lied to everyone, you snuck around, you left your only child thinking she had been orphaned to disappear off the map for a decade and you want to lecture me on the morality of consent?! You, of all people?!"

The unflinching stare was too much like Justice's. The unmoving gaze bore into him, judging him for his outburst, and it prickled up his spine and rankled his circuits with an itchy sort of heat. It ached, and it burned in equal measure, that he could be so like his brothers. "You ran away for ten years to help stray leaguers, but now - now with Dark reformed and the production of soldiers at an end - you won't even help those of us you built with your own hands?! Are we not your children in some way?! Or is that why you are so willing to abandon us as you did to Ruri?!"

The accusations were too harsh, Magnum scolded himself. Those accusations would surely hurt the man in some way, he thought, and give him cause to scold him, to raise his voice.

But the only change in Richard's expression was the slightest tipping of the edge of his mouth. A hint of a smirk before he stepped around the Leaguer and continued walking. "Fascinating. These mood swings must be a byproduct of the Heart Kit. Follow me, Magnum, I want to run some tests."

"I don't want to run any damned tests!" Magnum railed, voice echoing down the hall. At the end of the corridor a hockey leaguer startled from the sound and sent a puck flying from his chest straight into a distant window. The side of Magnum's fist knocked the wall in frustration, a dull noise that added an undercurrent to his increasingly strained voice. "I want my brothers back! I want them to be safe and sound and with ME!"

"But that's not what they want, Magnum."

"You don't know that! They're still hurt! They're still partitioned! They don't REMEMBER!"

"They chose to stay at Dark. What you want is simply not what they want and until what they want is what you want, I will not interfere with them."

"You-" Tears burned his eyes, and the metal of his teeth shrieked as he grit and ground them together in frustration. "You heartless bastard!"

"Magnum, don't say 'bastard'," he chastised idly in much the same tone he used towards Ruri.

The rebuke only served to incite the leaguer's anger more, wiping furiously at the first trickles of fluid on his face. "After all I've done for you! After all you've done TO US! Is this all I am to you?! A machine?! A tool?! You've used me and now you can discard me and my needs and the needs of my brothers?!"

"You will live without them, Magnum Ace," Richard stated simply. "You have done so for quite some time now."

"You may not care about your family," Magnum shouted, feeling the weight of that unchanging stare of vague interest on him like a boulder on his chest, feeling something in him being squeezed by the man's words, "but I care about mine! You're the only one who can help them, Richard, PLEASE!"

Richard's smirk grew ever so slightly and he turned to continue walking. "You are welcome to spend time with them, you know. They are free to do as they like and go where they want to go. It is no fault of mine that they haven't sought you out."

"Richard..." he tried meekly once more. "I just... want my family back."

"You have them, Magnum Ace. If they are unsatisfactory as your brothers, perhaps you should take it up with them."