"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness. Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."
Everything (is never quite enough)... Diop, Wasis
Two days before Heero arrived, and I was frantic. I found myself unable to concentrate on anything, running around my rooms, picking up things and putting them down without having done a thing to them. I didn't know what to do with myself; he'd be there soon, in the flesh. Something like this had never happened to me before.
The day before he was due, I called Wufei at least ten times, babbling nearly senselessly about Heero's arrival.
"Maxwell, enough. Stop calling me about this, you'll be fine. What are you getting so uptight about? Just relax, go do a trance state, call Quatre and Trowa and bother them for a while. Just, leave me alone!"
"But Chang, he's going to be here, and I don't know a thing about real relations. What if it's all different? What if we don't get along like we do in VR? What if... ?" I trailed off at the look on his face, a small smirk tilting the corner of his mouth. "What?"
"You're in love, aren't you?"
"Well, of course I am. He's perfect, so different, so much like me, so... will you please stop that smirking?"
"I'm enjoying this Maxwell, I've never seen you behave this way before. Perhaps this Fliogan is good for you."
"You have no idea Chang, he's the best thing there is for me."
"Well then, have fun, stop being so stressed over this. Just relax, call Quatre and Trowa to get some help on the 'relations' as you put it."
"Alright, I will, it's just, I'm nervous... what if he doesn't like me as much in the real world?"
"Maxwell, for the last time, everything will work out. Now go, call them, leave me be!"
"Yes Sir Mr. Chang!"
He cracked a smile, and the screen went blank.
"Well? How did the intercourse training go?"
"I didn't finish it, I just couldn't bring myself to do it."
"That's understandable Duo, Quatre didn't like the training either, told me he wanted to learn from me instead. Everything worked out fine that way."
"Where is he anyway?"
"Oh, around here somewhere, he said something about visiting Wufei earlier." Trowa glanced from left to right and then leaned in close to the camera. "We're thinking about combining our genes."
"Really? Have you tried for approval yet?"
"No, we... don't want to do it that way. Wufei offered to do it for us."
"Creos Trowa! That's dangerous, you could wind up with... "
"Yeah, something like that."
"He's got superior equipment, he's trained above and beyond most crèche techs. And more importantly, we trust him." He shrugged, smiling at me for a moment.
"Just be careful Trowa."
"I know Duo, don't worry we will be. So enough of that, what can I help you with?"
"Getting right to the point?"
"Why not, Wufei mentioned some of your problem. Might as well dive right in before your Fliogan arrives."
"Ok, well, I need to know a few things about intercourse, preferably before he gets here. Like, is there anything I'll need? Should I know something I don't?" I bit back a smile as I saw Quatre's blond head sneaking up behind Trowa.
"You really don't want to do the training module? It helps a lot Creos! Quatre... " I watched as they exchanged hugs and kisses, grinning at each other. I wondered if Heero and I would end up like that, so happy together.
"Hello Duo, when's your Fliogan arriving?" Quatre finally asked, turning towards the camera with a smile.
"Tomorrow morning, and I'm so nervous I can't stand it."
"Nervousness is alright, everything will be fine."
"That's what everyone keeps telling me, but I'm still nervous."
"So what is it you need to know?"
They exchanged glances and then grinned at me once more. "We can do that."
I felt flushed, hot, nervous, and my stomach was upset with my panic. He'd be there in moments, I'd see him, touch him, it was almost too much, the excitement that raced through my veins at the thought of it.
The ships landed on Zephlid prime, transpods carrying passengers to the outer moons and whatever destination they were going to. In minutes, Heero would be arriving in my home, in front of me, real. I felt like vomiting at the thought, I was so anxious.
"Mr. Yuy will be here in a few seconds, he has just left the station center on Zephlid prime."
"Oh Shinalp! He's here? He'll be here any second, oh no, oh shinalpshinalp Shinalp! Fina! Help me!"
"Mr Maxwell, be tranquil. I have monitored Mr Yuy's life signs, and if it will help you, he is also anxious."
"That helps a little." I danced from foot to foot in front of the transpod, running my hand nervously through my hair.
"He has just entered the transpod." Fina said in a bright tone, a tone I'd never heard from her before.
Sure enough, the transpod hummed softly, the door hissing open to reveal him. I found my mouth going dry, every prepared statement, and every word in my head disappearing; all I could do was stare.
"Duo?" His eyes searched for me, and I realized without his connection to Fina he could see nothing. His face and body were the same as in VR, wings bright silver in color.
"Heero... " I breathed, my feet still seemingly glued to the floor. His wings flexed slightly, almost a nervous movement. I took a tentative step forward, reaching out a hand to him, brushing the hand he held out.
Then he smiled, taking my extended hand, pulling me towards him. I found my arms wrapping around him in a move that seemed as natural as breathing. Inhaling the smell of him, nuzzling my head into his shoulder, grinning manically. "I can't believe you're here, you're real... "
We stayed like that as the minutes rolled over us and passed. Such an easy embrace, so comfortable, I could feel his heart beating, his breathing deep and even. After a while I slowly disengaged, backing up slightly, my hand still clasped in his. "Now what?" I asked with a nervous laugh.
"Now? I'm not sure, I've never done this either." He said, smiling at me softly. "May I," he stopped, looking embarrassed. "May I touch you?"
"Certainly." I stood still as he let go of my hand, carefully reaching over and sliding his fingertips along my face.
He paused at the long, upraised line crossing my forehead, a puzzled expression on his face. "What's this?"
"Fina's connection," I took his hand and guided it to my neck, bringing his fingers to the matching line of cord that stretched across the front of it beneath my skin. "The wetwiring that keeps me alive." I moved his hand behind my ears. "The CR inserts." Taking the tip of one of his fingers, I helped it to trace along the back of my neck. "Spinal insert, this is what allows me to stand."
A frown marred his features, and then he took my hand, turning around slightly and guiding my fingers to his back. "Do you see?"
"Yes." I breathed, my eyes going wide. Fliogans really were different from normal humans. Along side where the wings extended from his shoulder blades were lines of Steelshift that merged, and then entered into his spine, I could see the metal disappearing beneath his skin.
"What is it?"
"The support columns for my wings."
"That's how you can do so much with them, defy gravity?"
I tentatively touched the columns of metal, tracing them to where they entered seamlessly into his body. "Chang would kill to see this." I muttered, bringing my hand up to touch one of his wings, it was warm, as it had been in the VR module, only now I could see the texture of it better. Tiny disks formed it, little circles that seemed to shift with each movement of the wings. "These are capable of morphing, aren't they?"
"Yes, stand back for a moment?"
I moved back slightly, watching in awe as the disks merged, forming into small spikes, then merging again and becoming perfectly smooth. Heero's shoulders flexed and the wings expanded, stretching as they had in the Oceanwalk program.
"Heero, I have no words for this, it's amazing." I was grinning at him, knowing he couldn't see me, but doing it never the less.
"Then, do you mind?"
"Mind? What's there to mind? I don't mind your body anymore then I mind my own. You're a work of art." Again, my fingers traced those columns of Steelshift marveling at the density of them. "Do you have the alloy inside your bones as well?" I asked curiously.
"Yes, it's merged with the marrow." He turned, capturing my hand in a quick movement that surprised me. He brought it up to his mouth, kissing my fingers in a show of gentleness. Then he frowned, pulling his head back and tracing the lines of wetwiring beneath the skin of my hands. "And these?"
"Ah, those you've probably never heard of before, Chang invented them. They connect to digital pads in my fingertips, I needed something to help my fingers become quicker when programming. When the system failed back when we first colonized Zephlid 7, we found my hands too slow to keep up with the pace of the programming needed because of my... flaws."
"I see, do you have any other modifications?" He asked curiously.
"I have over 24 of them Heero, I wasn't exactly born normal." I tried to smile, failed, and reached for his hand again, running my fingers over the bones in them. "I always wondered why beneath your skin seemed so hard, like the petals of a flower hiding something much stronger."
"Yes, that's how they get the Steelshift to merge with us so thoroughly, it is not merely connected, it is a part of us, buried deep inside."
We stood together for another long, silent moment, our hands linked. "Heero, are *you* disappointed with *me*?"
"No! Of course not, you're perfect." He smiled at me, pulling me close again and wrapping his arms around me. I grinned as his wings followed suit, the warmth of them enveloping us. "Your modifications were necessary for your survival, and they do not take away from you at all. In a strange way, they add to your radiance, they make you more then you might have been."
"They're failing now, the ones keeping me alive, I always knew they would. But, I think I'll miss living. Especially now... "
"I know, it just bothers me, now that I have a reason to live more than I did before."
"But what about... "
"Chang? He won't talk to me about it, refuses to mention it at all. I just don't know Heero, it's my only hope and he won't let me even bring it up."
"Perhaps he'll talk to me?"
"Heh, you don't know Chang, he's stubborn, determined, hardnosed, but, a very good friend despite all of that."
"I think he'll talk to me, from what I saw of your memories, he seems very interested in modified species like my own." He paused, running his hands down my back and then pulling away to look at me with blind eyes. "I will offer him a look at me, study, do you think perhaps then he might... "
"You would do that for me?" I asked in surprise, my mouth opening and shutting in astonishment.
"Yes, if it will get him to talk to you about something he doesn't seem to realize is so important, I will do anything I can." His hand lightly traced the wetwiring that was strung along the inside of my neck like a collar. "He doesn't know you're dying, does he?"
"I think he might have guessed, he's much more perceptive then he lets on. But I've never told any of my friends the reason for all of my modifications, they just think I'm a tech junky."
"Have you told Chang the reason you requested such a clone?"
"No, of course not."
"Maybe you should Duo, I think he might understand more then you know."
"Alright, but right now, I just want to enjoy you, ok?" I smiled again, pressing against him and running my hands along his sides. "I... learned a few things from Trowa and Quatre yesterday... "
"Oh?" Heero asked, and I glanced up to see him grinning at me.
"Mhm, and I've been wondering about some of them... "
I started to move us in a small dance around my home, pushing aside one of the doors and backing him up to a low bed I'd arranged for a few days beforehand.
"For example, did you know that male genitalia has all kinds of different names?"
"It does hmm?"
"Indeed, want to hear the list? I memorized them." I grinned, pushing him backwards onto the bed and climbing on top of him, leaning down to kiss his smiling mouth.
"Maybe later... " he mumbled, his hands sliding around me to pull my body close, mouth moving to capture my own.
"Mmmm... Fina, lights off... "
Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.
Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.
CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.
Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"
Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"
Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.
Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.
Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.
Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.
Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.
Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.
Contract: A contract is a more binding way to say, "Promise or swear?"
Optilenses: Cyber optic lenses, which can be used during a VR program only.
Creos: The original form of the name Christ has changed with the passage of time, modern form of the word when used as a curse is Creos.
Orstras: A plant matter grown in dark caves on the planet of Trinition, considered a delicacy on most planets, the plant is dark purple with small white bells that can be plucked and cooked. The taste is said to be sweet and delicate.
Realtime Call: The difference between a realtime call and a regular call is in the distance, all realtime calls infer off planet residence of the caller, communications run at high speeds, face to face talking is still difficult between planets.
What is your task: This is the way most people will ask what your job is, what career you're in.
Crèche Technician: Most people are born to the incubators and raised in crèches, the technicians help care for the many children being raised in such places.
Grower: The still forming body of a child within the incubator, a delicate time that must be carefully overseen to prevent accidents. A grower is usually designated as a child in a womb-like state. Between –1 to –9 months, or the time a child would be inside of a mother's body.
Youlin: I manmade mammalian life form, these animals are specifically created to improve the technology behind cloning. Most tests are performed with a small VR module; with which the creatures are filled with the only knowledge they know, as the Youlin is created with a blank slate for a mind.
A Set: A group of Growers that have reached maturity.
Trance state: Every few months of a citizen's life is recorded during REM cycles, the consciousness is stored within a neural processor called a memory chip. Occasionally when one wishes to know another, an exchange of such chips may occur.
Wetwiring: circuitry and modifications that can be installed within the human body without harming it.