I hate God's War. It's terrible. But the idea of the cyborgs getting psionic power upgrades fascinates me and has far too much potential to waste on such a bad story. So, I took it and this is the result.
(Psiborg tumblr tag)
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“When we’re across the wall,” Hilda started, voice soft, “do you think you’ll look for them?”
Albert covered his arm by instinct, scarlet starbursts peeking out from between his fingers. “I don’t know,” he said. He rubbed his thumb across one of the two names scrawled amidst the placeholder marks, the elegant sweep of Francoise curled around his wrist. “I hadn’t thought about it.”
Albert had better things to think about than his soulmates. Jet and Francoise, whoever they were, weren’t anything more than names in red, and the six stars covering the rest of his arm were less than that. Characters in novels had more substance.
They certainly weren’t as important as the woman standing at the stove, her shoulders slightly hunched and her unmarked arms bare. It was two steps from the table to her, and he curled his arms around her waist and tucked her head under his chin.
“Maybe we’ll look for them,” he said into her hair, “but none of them will ever replace you.”
Hilda twisted a little, her smile warm when she looked up. “It’d be nice to meet them.”
“Yeah. It would.”
“I love you.”
Hilda’s voice broke through the light doze Albert had faded into. He could tell, from the faint slur in her words and the looseness of her arms around his chest, that she was on the verge of sleep herself. In the morning, she probably wouldn’t remember saying anything.
“If it doesn’t work… if we have to stay here for a while longer, I wouldn’t mind as long as I’m with you.”
“Hilda…” Except her breathing had evened out, warm and slow against the back of his neck. He carefully took her hand. “We’ll make it out. We will. And we’ll be together.”
The rain was sudden, a few minutes of distant thunder the only warning before a sudden torrent unleashed and 002 said, “Hey, stop the car.”
004 glanced over; the other cyborg had sat up from his sullen slouch in the passenger seat and was staring out the window. “Something wrong?”
“I just want to get out now.”
He could understand that; they’d all been spending a lot of time outside since they’d escaped, but still… “We’re in the middle of a thunderstorm and you want to stop and feel the rain?”
002 finally turned to glare at him. “It makes me feel normal, okay?”
It took a moment, but 004 did remember. Back during the tests, 002 had always complained that the rain muffled his sensors and made it harder to fly. But if they weren’t fighting for their lives right then…
He pulled over.
Later, Albert would have time to think. After the tests and the pain and the surgeries and more tests, he would have time to think about everything.
But in that first waking moment, stretched out on a hard metal table, numb shock filled his mind. Slowly, he registered the blank gray ceiling above him, the lack of cold rain against his face, the faint hum of machinery, his empty arms.
He was alive.
He let his head fall to the side, eyes sliding over the equipment lining the wall below the observation window. A hospital? Wherever he was, he was alone in the room.
His fingers dug into the table unconsciously; the sound of metal scraping over metal didn’t even register. “No,” he snarled, bile building in his throat. “This isn’t real. I’m not—I can’t be here.” He flexed his fingers again, the ghost of Hilda’s body still in his arms.
He was alive, and he was alone.
“I could give you a massage?”
Albert stared at the younger cyborg, baffled. “I’m pretty sure won’t work.”
“No, seriously.” Jet flopped onto the couch next to Albert. “Just let me…”
The touch to his temples was surprisingly soft, brushing his hair out of the way before pressing circles over his skin. Albert let his eyes slide shut and he leaned into the touch. So he didn’t see Jet lean in to steal a kiss.
“—and what do you call that? She’s so off pitch that—”
“What are you watching?” Albert interrupted GB’s rant, looking dubiously at the act playing out on the television.
“Eurovision,” GB answered. Albert waited, hoping for some elaboration despite GB’s tone implying that that one word was the only explanation necessary. GB finally glanced over after the silence stretched, an edge of incredulity on his face. “You know, Euro…” he trailed off, gaining the faintly guilty expression everyone wore when they’d forgotten when, exactly, their teammates were from. It was quickly replaced with determination, and he motioned for Albert to sit with him on the couch.
“The Eurovision Song Contest,” he began gravely, “is the most important event of the year. You see…”
It took until GB got to the contest being a replacement for war, his studied tone laid over a backdrop of glitter and Europop on the television, for the ridiculousness of it all hit Albert. He covered his mouth to hide his chuckles, trying not to interrupt the history lesson.
To no avail; GB cut himself off with a delighted grin. “Have I entered an alternate universe or did you really just crack a smile for me?”
Albert let his hand drop. “It’s because of your way with history.”
“Wait until the voting and I’ll tell you how it reflects our geopolitics.”
“Can I cut in?”
He’d caught Jet and Francoise just as a slower song started. It wasn’t on purpose, but Albert was glad for it all the same; the two of them were on an entirely different level on the dance floor than the rest of the team. Usually they all left them alone to terrorize the other dancers.
Which explained the surprised looks both were giving him. Francoise recovered first, giving him a bright smile. “Of course.” Another quick twist and they were apart, Francoise slipping away into the crowd, leaving Jet and Albert together.
They both moved to lead, arms bumping. Jet rolled his eyes, but his pleased smile never wavered as he draped him arms over Albert’s shoulders instead. “Done propping up the bar?”
“Yeah.” Albert guided them into a simple box step, his arms curled around Jet’s waist.
“Any reason why now?”
Albert thought about telling him how ridiculous it felt drinking alone when his partner was on the dance floor. Thought about saying how much he’d wanted to hold Jet in his arms just then.
“It felt like the right idea.” He tightened his arms, let his smile turn playful. “Why don't you tell me how to do that step you keep starting?”
“You really should learn how to tie that.”
Jet shot a scowl over his shoulder, giving the tie around his neck a yank. “I know how to tie a tie.” At Albert’s skeptical look, he turned back to the mirror and turned the scowl on the lopsided knot around his neck. “It’s been a while.”
“I can tell.” Albert clapped a hand on Jet’s shoulder, pulling him around so he could undo the knot. “Do you have the ring?”
“Yeah, I’ve got the ring.” Jet shoved his hands into his pockets, gripping the small box, even as he tilted his head back to let Albert quickly tie a new knot. “You really think I’m gonna mess this up for Frannie and Joe?”
Albert chuckled, finishing with the tie and moving to button up Jet’s waistcoat. “Not on purpose. You’d be amazed how often the little things get forgotten in the rush.” He tugged the waistcoat straight, then settled his hands on Jet’s hips. “You look good.”
“Yeah, I clean up nice.” He pulled away to grab his jacket, not wanting to deal with the softness in Albert’s voice or the distance in his gaze; he didn’t know if Albert thinking of her or thinking of him. During a wedding, he didn’t really want to know. “Let’s go make sure the lovebirds aren’t about to fly the coop.”
“Right, they’re the ones about to run.” But Jet didn’t pull away when Albert snagged his hand on the way out.