[identity profile] theamazingdalet.livejournal.com

cass had never been to school by the time he met balthazar bc of his illness. if the body swap and physiotherapy and all went well his parents were hoping he’d start 3rd grade with the other kids his age

at any rate, they got pretty attached to balthazar in the hospital as cass’ first best friend, and he got to see cass’ cyberbrain before it was installed in his new body

afterwards, back in his room with mom&mum, balthazar gets distracted eating dinner, apparently trying to get his eyeballs to do a barrel roll

“what’re you doing” asks mom

“if i look backwards i can see my brain too”

“not quite, love” says mom, trying not to laugh “it’ll still be too dark in there”

“oh yeah”

so he grabs his toy flashlight and jams it against his nostrils like

“balthazar!”

[identity profile] theamazingdalet.livejournal.com

a ghost in the shell au about cass & balthazar escaping the american empire together

they’re childhood friends, they met in the hospital where cass got his first full prosthetic body, then lost contact a decade later when cass was forcibly recruited into public security by michael’s side of the family, bc no one makes a better cyber soldier than a full cyborg

and cass tries to not even think about balthazar until he’s become the best hacker on record next to michael, until he can meet with balthazar even in public with absolutely no trace of it recorded on any camera or in any cyberbrain

and he teaches him everything. balthazar has only minimal cyberbrain enhancements, and no protheses, and with cass’ instructions he just starts taking apart all traces of their existence, piece by piece

and michael catches on eventually, except he shot himself in the foot years ago, first by making cass disappear from the public record himself when he was “recruited,” second by outfitting him with a new mass-market shell. easy to blend in on the outside, and custom engineering on the inside to make him unique

but mass-market is mass-market, and if you’re good, if you’re really good, if you’re the second best cyber hacker in the country, you can reverse engineer the customization until you are completely indistinguishable from the other 750,000 of you in circulation

finally michael confronts cass in person, cass who now only barely exists as a mundane private citizen, and threatens balthazar instead. and cass just looks at him and frowns

“who?”

because balthazar hasn’t just disappeared from the public record, he’s disappeared from cass’ too. as michael dives into cass’ brain for evidence, he finds all of his memories of balthazar have been overwritten. there was no other boy in the hospital, no classmate, no friend, no one

balthazar only exists as a name in michael’s head. cass could never hack michael, but he doesn’t need to. michael never spared a second thought for cass’ life. he has not a single memory of balthazar to make his case. he can’t even describe him

and cass walks away

encrypted fragments in his brain, none of them even a full sentence on their own, start popping up, telling him to turn, to keep going, and he just keeps walking, walking across the city, which does not record him passing, all the way to the airstrip

by the time he boards his plane, there was never a “castiel” to begin with

there’s a blond stranger in the seat next to him. once they’re in the air, the stranger plugs himself into a film, smiling, enjoying himself

cass is still nervous. michael’s word alone carries weight. as long as he knows cass exists, there’s always a risk

once they’ve crossed the border, the stranger turns to him and asks if he’s all right. cass smiles and deflects

“you look like you’re enjoying yourself”

the stranger offers cass a wire to share the film. cass accepts and plugs himself in

and suddenly

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