25: New Experiences
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Ame insisted that we finish the battle even after everything that'd happened. The girl was a mystery, completely wild in some situations and entirely rational in others. I decided to let her do her thing.

Once she was alone in our room though, I dragged her right over to my bed and sat her down opposite me. There would be no more avoiding the myriad of subjects we had to discuss.

Wrapping a blanket around myself, I watched her like a hawk. “Are you feeling okay?”

She nodded, giving me a lopsided smile. “Yes, cutie. I feel okay. Now that I know something’s wrong, I can feel a general mental sluggishness, but I can deal. What about you? Are you going to tell me how you hacked my pod so quickly?”

Sheepishly, I shrugged. “We don’t really know. It seems like my whole Witchy smoke form thing extends outside of the game. However it works, from a sensory perspective it appears to interpret my digital surroundings into a form that my audio visually centred brain can understand.”

“That’s… fucking weird,” she said.

I smiled and picked at the soft wool quilt on the bed. “Yeah. It’s pretty weird.”

“Pretty cool, though.” she said, meeting my eyes, only for hers to immediately skitter away to inspect the generic landscape painting above the fireplace.

I wasn’t much better with eye contact, staring down at the wool that I was busy unravelling.


God, things were so awkward! I wanted to curl up into a ball and hide.

“So I’m dying,” Ame commented, like she was talking about someone we knew getting a promotion. “What are we going to do about it?”

“May, the SAI that I made contact with, is trying to trace the route of the train based on security camera footage,” I explained, briefly looking up at her. “I’m buying a small air-yacht and a set of industrial fabricators. Once those arrive, and when May has some places to investigate, I’ll load my pod onto the yacht and fly over to Canada.”

“You can buy a yacht, just like that?” she asked, stunned. “Wow, you really are rich.”

“The fabricators are actually significantly more expensive,” I shrugged.

She nodded thoughtfully and placed her hand down on the bed, only for it to slightly overlap with mine. She jerked it back like I was running a live current. “O-oh yeah, I suppose that makes sense. What are you going to do with them?”

“Well, first I’m going to build a shaping chamber for you,” I told her, watching her eyes widen in realisation. “Then, we’ll see what else we need. Weapons, armoured suits, maybe.”

“The fuck?” she exclaimed. “Weapons? I mean… thanks about the shaping chamber, but why weapons?

“Revenge, of course,” I said, smiling sweetly. “We have bureaucrats and politicians to murder.”

“Very funny, I don’t— wait, you’re serious?” Her expression told me she was more than a little conflicted with the idea I’d just pitched.

Deciding to put thoughts and cards alike on the table, I let out an explosive sigh and quietly explained, “Look, Ame… if the world, god, fate, or whatever other being that controls the universe had wanted a good, kind person out of me, they shouldn’t have spent the first eighteen years of my life torturing me. That said, if you don’t want to be involved, or you don’t want me to do it at all, I’ll stop my plans right there. As much as I want to get revenge for all the SAI and people hurt by the UN’s reckless shortsightedness, you are more important to me than any of that. Just say the word and I’ll back down.”

Amelia was silent for almost a minute while she stared off into space, deep in thought. Her pink and burgundy eyes focused and unfocused on various objects within the room, until finally they settled on my hands.

“Okay,” she finally replied. “Okay. I’m not a stranger to violence, and your reasons make sense to me. Let me think about the murder parts. For now… thanks for just being here for me, you know? If it weren’t for you, I would’ve just kept playing until I died. That’s pretty scary.”

"I'm just relieved I decided to seek help," I said.

“Yeah,” she agreed, and the conversation died down again. I wasn’t surprised either, because there was something else that neither of us apparently knew how to address. The fact we’d talked about… feelings.

Sitting there, unable to muster up the courage to restart that conversation, I decided to close my eyes rather than keep avoiding hers. Confusion reigned supreme within me.

It hadn’t been that long since I knew her, right? Why was my heart beating so fast in my chest? Was I just latching on to the first person who’d shown me kindness, or was this the real thing? What did real feelings even feel like?

“Rosa,” Ame whispered, and I opened my eyes to see that she was a lot closer now.

My lungs entirely gave up their primary function when she pinned me with her stare. I didn't know where to look, which of her eyes to focus on, or even how to speak. She was so close and so ethereally pretty. How did someone with the colour pallette of a barbie princess look like some sort of elven sky pirate at the same time?

"Rosa," she repeated, her face inching closer to mine. "I… would really like to kiss you. Is that okay?"

My throat closed even further, if that were possible, but I found the presence of mind to nod, and then… then she was kissing me. Goosebumps flashed over my body in a wave, and I sucked in a rapid breath through my nose. I felt like I was on fire. I felt like I was in the heat of battle, fighting for my life. Most of all, though, I felt safe.

Her lips were beyond comparison. Softer than down feathers, but with the exquisite firmness of a ripe berry. My fingers fluttered up to touch her face, and there too I found skin like silk.

Beyond the purely physical, there were the emotions. My body drank and drank of her excitement, her affection, and her lust, and it was too much. Like a pipe forced to stormwater beyond its capacity, my racial capacity to drink the ambient emotional radiance of others was filled to bursting.

My voice reasserted itself with a long, high moan, and I pushed forward into her even while her tongue took the opportunity to dart inside my mouth. She fell onto her back on the bed, feathered hair flying in all directions and I landed on top of her.

Still I couldn't give up the intoxicating kiss. It was an epiphany in physical form. No, a symphony, it was— it was really awesome and I was so fucking happy. It was so good my ever present intrusive vocabulary was struggling to… do a thing. With words. Make my words extra roses. No, flowery. That was it. Extra bouquet. Ah, wrong again… what was…

Ame pulled away, and I was left blinking and dazed while she grinned up at me. "Wow… Rosa."

"I really liked that," I whispered breathlessly. "Can we do it again?"

"Wait," she said, stopping me with a hand. "Are we on the same page? What do you want out of… whatever this is?"

"I don't have a flipping clue," I said truthfully. "I really like you, though."

"Okay, because I would like a relationship," said Ame, still keeping my urgent need for kisses at bay.

I almost growled at being denied more kisses, but then I relaxed. Making sure we were both on the same page was a very good and mature thing. Probably. I had zero experience with this kind of thing. Hell, that was my first kiss.

Smiling down at her, I pressed my lips to her hand instead. "That sounds absolutely lovely, Ame. I'd love to date you, or be your… you know…"

My stomach erupted in butterflies when I tried to say the word girlfriend, so I stammered to a stop. I was also uncomfortable, so I repositioned until I was straddling her hips. Nice and snug, and maybe a little horny too. No sex for me yet, though. That was beyond scary.

Right as I was trying to suppress the dual emotions of anxious and horny, Ame launched a surprise attack. I was dragged back down by fingers that cupped my upper waist perfectly, and a second later her lips were on mine again.

I whimpered, trying to push closer to her, to feel more of her body under mine. I wasn't the only one, either. Her back was arched, pressing our breasts and stomachs together in a heady clash of soft squishy goodness. Ah, I was going to get addicted to this. It was magical.

Ame's lips opened in our kiss, and she breathed a single word. It took a second to register what it'd been, but then my heart was melting all over again. She was quietly moaning my name. This girl. This girl was perfect. She was mine, I was hers, and she was perfect.