As much as I'd like to just up and dismiss the notion of spending time at a hospital for a check-up, I couldn't just ignore the possibility that my barely-functional mind hadn't been taking proper care of my body for the month or two I had been out of it. "Let's go. It shouldn't take too long to get checked out, and it's not like we won't have time to do other stuff afterward." Though I really do hope that half-floating deal sorts itself out before we get there. I really don't want to try and explain why my body has decided to just up and ignore the laws of physics.
"Haaaah... Let's go then. The sooner we get this done and over with the sooner we can get back to a normal life." Naomi let out a sigh at my response, but helped me up anyway. It felt kind of irritating to have to be helped up from a chair, but something tells me that any and all attempts to do so myself would have resulted in my knocking something over. ...Case in point as one of my arms decides to drift rather than fall to my side. Thankfully it's harder to tell since I can just sway it as I walk.
Marine simply grinned. "Normal is just a matter of perception." Was all she offered as she grabbed her car keys off from a nearby shelf. "Though I could have done without the 'Night of the Living Dead' routine. I was convinced that you turned into a zombie and were simply confused as to what you were supposed to do." She makes good time down the stairs, quite possibly to avoid any form of retaliation I might have been urged to deliver upon her for that. Fortunately I didn't really feel like it.
"Actually, I'm kind of surprised that no one brought up the obvious reason for our worry. Do you think a doctor would just let a patient walk out when he's spending about half the time floating?" Ever the voice of reason in all this, Ben points out the one glaring flaw in taking me anywhere. Namely the fact that I'm doing some impossible things right now and that the world at large would not take the revelation that I'm doing said impossible things very well at all.
"That's part of why I don't want to go." The artist isn't exactly dragging her feet, but it's clear she's not all that keen on the idea.
"It comes down to one of two things then: Either I go and get checked out, which runs the risk of the doctor looking me over deciding that my floating about is something 'wrong'" Said with quotation marks since I'm hardly against the concept of defying gravity. "and wants to keep me around, or I ignore my physical state and run the risk of ignoring a major issue. I don't know all there is to know about anatomy, but I'm pretty sure spending almost every day off my feet could cause blood clots in the legs."
"I know... It just feels like we're stuck with two bad ideas and are trying to justify why one is worse than the other. We just got you back and it would royally suck if you disappeared again." I can hardly argue with that logic, and I get the feeling that all three of my friends considered the possibility of something unpleasant happening regardless of what path we take. I think the shopkeep hasn't shown any concern simply because she's already made up her mind and is willing to take the risk as well as do what it takes to ensure that whatever we do doesn't blow up on us. I mean, she decided to pluck me out of my parent's house and confronted my mother about her treatment of me while I was out of it.
The fencer didn't have anything to add to that, and simply followed us to the shopkeep's car.
Thus, the four of us are sitting in Marine's car on the way to the hospital. The shopkeep is driving, the fencer is sitting on the passenger side, and the artist is sitting next to me. It's a pretty nice day out all considering, what with the sky being partly cloudy and the weather cool for this time of the year. Most of the trip was spent on idle chatter to try and keep things from delving too far into the weirdness again before the check-up was done, but I couldn't help but feel a mite antsy. Parts of my shattered psyche are currently duking it out amongst each other for supremacy, meaning that I'm going to have to deal with the current results once I go back to sleep and re-enter the land of illusion. That and a possibly grumpy shrine maiden, along with anyone else who might not be so happy about a particular fragment vanishing. The even more irritating part is that I can't really explain the gravity of the situation to my friends, both because they can't really understand the full extent of the situation and because I just came back from what amounts to a coma.
It's kind of like Persona 4. You know the TV World exists, but your friends don't believe you and proving yourself right would just put them in danger. They might grow stronger from it, but since this isn't a game I have to weigh the risks. ...Plus, I'm not Seta. I don't even have a Persona to call on, I just have a hat that may or may not be the manifestation of the Desire for Bomb, whatever that is. I wind up calling on the blue cap without even thinking about it, twirling the thing on my index finger as I slowly become absorbed in my own thoughts/personal angst.
I don't notice the artist staring intently at the small cap I pulled out of thin air, but I do notice it when she yanks it off my finger. "Say, what is this anyway? I didn't know you had a cap like this." Come to think of it, a blue cap with a cream rim and a pom on the end isn't exactly normal headwear, especially not something made out of such odd material. I didn't really think about it too much, but it's not woolen like most caps of that design. The base material is silkier than that, and the cream-colored bits are downright cotton-like. It seems like such a fragile hat, and one too silly to be worn normally at that.
I decide to let her keep a hold of it for now, though I make a mental note to get it back and hide it before we stop. The last thing I need is for someone to see me or one of my friends tossing around big, cartoony bombs by accident and getting us arrested. ...Come to think about it, having mystical powers out here might suck. Things like flight would be so practical to the point where you'd have to be insane not to apply it to mundane purposes, yet you'd have to deal with jealous people. "That's something I made myself out of concentrated desire." I can't help but throw it out there off-handedly. It's too ridiculous to believe.
Ben's about to say something, but Naomi simply takes the cap and puts it on. A couple seconds later and a flick of the wrist causes her to toss a lit bomb into the car, which I casually pick up and defuse by putting out the lit fuse. "...I really didn't think that was going to work." Was all she had to say as I pulled the cap off her head and dropped the bomb back inside. I have no idea how it works either, but I'm immensely relieved that it does. I've already made my views about this known and have no intention to change my views anytime soon. Though to be fair, it looks like Naomi isn't handling this with the same grace I am, or at least the same level of grudging acceptance. "So, what kind of place did you go to while you were stuck in zombie mode?"
She was breaking the unspoken agreement, but it was only a matter of time. "I wound up in Gensokyo, a sealed land that's more or less a fantasy kitchen sink. The reason I'm even here right now is because that place treated my absurd condition as something normal and because I managed to find someone willing to help me." More like coerce me into fixing the mess Gengetsu caused, but that's beside the point. ...There is just no way to do this easily, is there. "And to be perfectly honest, various parts of my psyche are currently engaged in a battle royale against each other for dominance in the fully reformed mind. There's a chance I may not even be the me you remember by the time this is all said and done."
Naomi simply holds my hand after that. I can understand why Marine and Ben are struggling for words though. This is probably like finding out a good friend has cancer and may die from it, only somehow worse.
The rest of the trip is silent. I can't quite bring myself to answer them anymore.
We've managed to get to the hospital in once piece, though I note that Naomi is back to wearing my cap again. I can't really bring myself to take it off her since she probably thinks it's some kind of device to make sure I can't leave. I'm not sure if that's really what she thinks, but it's pretty obvious that she needs some kind of support. Marine and Ben accompany me as well, and opt to wait in the lobby once the doctor shows up. Naomi flat out refuses to leave, which almost causes the doctor to call someone to get her out until I mention that I don't really care. It's not like I'm stripping or anything. I can't help but note that the off-kilter cap is cute though.
"I can't find anything immediately wrong with you aside from a mild case of muscle atrophy and a lack of stamina, but that can be fixed with a steady exercise routine." The doctor finished checking over the results and proceeded to tell me what the immediate issues were. Of course, I think this is the same guy who was looking into why I was in a catatonic state for the last month or two, so there's a good chance that he'll inquire about that next. "What really baffles me is how you suddenly recovered from whatever state you were stuck in. It came without warning or reason, and left just as suddenly. I've been trying to figure out why that is, but haven't been able to come up with anything." He turned his back to me as he started to sort through the older charts and the like, at which point my body finally decided where its floatation habit is going to occur. Namely, around my stomach area. So now I'm floating up into the air for no reason at all while Naomi is trying her hardest to delay the inevitable with a poker face. Sadly, that doesn't really work.
"Really? Why is that?" Screw it, there's no way out of this. I just ask the question and prepare to get it over with.
"Well, nothing really fits with what happened to you. You were perfectly heal... thy..." He turned around, saw that I wasn't there, turned his eyes upward and saw me lying on the roof. "Dear lord..."
The man stood dumbstruck at what should have been an impossible event. A normal, ordinary human had drifted onto the ceiling like a balloon for no reason at all. He looked like he was half-ready to dash off to get some help for this right up until he collapsed to the floor. I was prepared to take it that he had fainted, but it seems that someone had caused it. Namely the tall, buxom, blond woman who had stepped through the door mere moments earlier. She's clearly a foreigner, but the long, golden hair tied into a ponytail with a red ribbon on the end, the purple eyes, and the demeanor in which she carried herself suggested that she's strange even when compared to what most people could consider strange. "Ah, a shame Dr. Tobias couldn't take seeing what he did. A man with a truly frail mind~" Oh god, and a voice I could listen to for hours on end without hearing a word she says. Her eyes flick upward to me, as does the fan she draws. Moments later and I'm back down on the examination table. "Now then, let's get to business~"
Poor Naomi was stuck dealing with the absurdity with absolutely no warning, and thus was understandably expressing the desire to scoot herself away from the oddball that just showed up. Personally, I was rather impressed with how she had managed to keep the cap on her head for as long as she did, since I'm pretty sure the woman wasn't exactly being gentle with that yank. She did relent though, and looked as though she were well and truly lost and scared. I can't blame her though. I'm about one step behind her on the nervous breakdown scale after being dropped through a tear in space that has eyes inside it.
She simply laughs lightly in response to our obvious discomfort with her. "Oh come on, I don't bite~ Not unless you're into that kind of thing, in which case I'd be more than happy to eat you out~" Her casual attitude doesn't do a whole lot to make it better, but I'll give her points for trying at least. "Pardon my manners, I am Yukari Yakumo, youkai of boundaries. I would wait for the two of you to introduce yourselves, but since neither of you seem to be in a talking mood I suppose I'll go ahead and get started." She plops herself down next to me and places and arm around me so I can't just inch away from her, then starts talking again. "And I shall start by saying that I'm rather impressed with you, Wade. You've gone and survived something that should have utterly destroyed you, and you're making a slow but steady recovery."
"...I'm guessing you've been watching me." Part of me, that hormonal male part, wanted nothing more than to jump in this woman's lap. The 'survival instinct' part was screaming to run away, and the part of me that wants to make sense of it all has decided that it wants to hear her out. Not an easy task to overrule the first two, but it manages well enough to where I'm merely tense instead of trying to leap out the window.
"Of course! The various incidents are fun to watch, but how often does someone like you come along? A human who survived immense spiritual damage, and is now in the impossible position of being able to reconstruct yourself any way you wish while gaining power in the process... That's a truly rare event. The fact that you're an Outsider that's savvy enough to understand what this could mean for you and yours is even more so." And almost immediately she shoots off about my situation and how it amounts to quality entertainment to her. I'm actually part miffed, but why would she come out here just to congratulate me on my suffering being entertaining? Thankfully she moves on to something more useful. "I'm getting there~ Humans are such impatient people~" She chides. "So you, a full core and a couple fragments, are afraid of what could happen to you, aren't you? Afraid you'll change too much, and that you can't go back to being the way you were. My question is, why in the world would you want to go back to being normal? Maybe it's because my perspective is skewed, but it seems to me that you're just letting yourself be resigned to a horrible fate."
"Gee, maybe because most humans would try to figure out how get me shot, try to replicate my abilities, or dissect me if I were to suddenly gain inhuman powers? And even if I gained power, how can I ensure the safety of those I care about?" At the very least I can try to reason with Yukari...
She raps me on the head with her fan gently while smiling. "That's such a pessimistic view of your situation. 'I should give up because everyone would hunt me down like an animal' is not a good argument for passing up this kind of opportunity, especially since it wouldn't be that hard for you to put a little more effort in and learn how to move between worlds once you've grown stronger." ...Why does this feel like Deja Vu, and why does it feel like the argument is almost the reverse of what it was?
"Wait, move between worlds?" I can do so via lucid dreaming, but that requires me to be asleep and only lets my mind traverse between my mind and Mugenkan.
"Indeed~ It's hard for people to hunt you down if you keep moving, though I do tend to think that no one in this world would believe that you possess such power, aside from the truly paranoid that is." Needless to say, she's intent on breaking down my argument as thoroughly as possible, though I can kind of see why. If I want to go back to being me, then I have to do this. "I don't expect that you'll change your mind right away since this is a big deal, but I think you'll find that having power isn't as bad as you think it would be. Just take your time, and when you're ready I'll show you how."
She stands up and walks off, but pauses at the door. "You're clear to leave, by the way~ I'd recommend getting back to your normal routine with small steps before doing anything big."