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A Crushing Weight

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The realization had been gradual, until suddenly it had been all at once.

Adrian tried to concentrate on the daybook he was meant to be filling out, but the words swam and instead he found himself staring unseeingly at the page with a sort of dawning horror. The sun of realization was rising over the metaphoric plains of his mind and what had originally been the warm, rosy tendrils of a vague idea (he loved her, he loved her) was quickly growing into a piercing light that revealed exactly how barren those plains were.

The realization was there now though (he loved her), stark and undeniable. Adrian was used to dealing with problems, was used to sitting by himself in his apartment and staring down crisis after crisis; this was just one more day, and one more crisis. He would just have to look it in the face and address it.

So he liked Maura.

Now what?

Adrian had absolutely no idea, he didn't even now where to begin. He liked her, but did Maura like him? No, never mind that, that was another problem entirely, Maura only knew Cyb – did Maura like her? Did Maura even like women at all? Cybersix knew that Maura had been with women before, but she also knew the sordid details that had accompanied those encounters – was that something Maura only endured for the sake of payment? Or would she find it less distasteful if it was... was...

Well, if was it was something Maura wanted. If it was a choice. If it wasn't just business, wasn't just sex.

(And there was yet another problem. Sex. Sure, it was a thing that had sat at the back of Cybersix's mind ever since she had been old enough to notice her body beginning to go through rather telling changes, but there had never been a chance to explore those particular boulevards, besides for in her own mind. It was crucial for her survival that the world only knew her as Adrian, a man, and getting tangled up with someone in such a way would definitely make things more complicated. Who she, who he, who they were – it was all complicated enough without needing to explain it to another person, without needing to make sense of how her identity fit between the confines of her creation and her past and necessity and longing.)

So no, for all Adrian had picked up on Lucas' fantasies, she had never had such experiences herself. It had always been a matter of seeing what was necessary for survival, and then saying no, stepping back, closing herself away. Maybe, if it had been like that with Maura, especialy after everything she knew Maura had gone through, it would have been easier to put an end to all this. But it wasn't just the physical aspect of it, and that was the problem. Cybersix had experienced that blind sort of want before and had been able to carefully tuck it away and bring it out in quiet, private moments when she could deal with it. No, what she wanted was a date. To go to the movies with Maura. To kiss. To have her stay at her apartment (yet another potential problem) and cook dinner and just... live. Be a normal person growing up and falling in love without the shadow of death and frenzied survival constantly looming over her shoulder.

And this great, frothing sea of problems was capped off by one very critical issue: she had absolutely no idea how you went about asking someone out on a date. Maura and Cyb often “went out”, often spent time together – Cybersix would treat her to meals when she had some free time and extra cash, and they'd chat. Gossip. Console and advice and confide. Talk about bad days and good ones, fond memories and struggles. Tease, laugh. Sometimes Do would join them, but mostly it was just the two of them. It had been fun. Cybersix had never really had a friend like that. After what happened to Twenty-Nine... well, as a child she'd never had a friend quite like him, and even after her escape, once she was the school system, there had always been a distance between Adrian and the other kids, one that she had never quite had the nerve to bridge, it had always simply felt too vulnerable, too dangerous.

So having a friend who knew her as a girl was a new, exhilarating experience. It definitely helped that Maura knew about not just “Cyb”, but about Cybersix. And not just that she knew about Cybersix, but that she knew about Cybersix and was... okay with it – in fact, Maura loved hearing about the stories Cyb was able to trot out over dessert, about the jungle she was raised in, her train-hopping as a child, the wild adventures she went on even now on the night-cloaked roofs of Meridiana...

Where was the line though, between this and more? This was, perhaps, the most intimate she had ever been with another human being. Only her father knew more about her history; she had never even shared as much with Lucas – although, admittedly, Maura knew nothing of her life as Adrian. And that was just so much the way of things, wasn't it? There was always something else, nothing in her life could ever be simple, could it, she thought to herself, tapping her pen in a subconscious staccato against her poor daybook. If she wanted any chance of things becoming more with Maura, she'd have to somehow explain that she was not, in fact, engaged to Adrian because she was Adrian.

The speed of the pen tapping picked up, exasperation barely masking the sensation of being completely and entirely overwhelmed. Why was there always a secret? She was something different to so many people, but she was herself in her entirety to no one. The closest who came to it was, perhaps, Lucas, who knew both Cybersix and Adrian, though as separate people. And yet there was a disconnect with Lucas that she continuously failed to bring together, a closeness she struggled to feel.

It was a closeness that came effortlessly from Maura. Maura just liked her. Not because she was a coworker, not because she was an enigma or an artificial being to be investigated. She just... liked her?

In all honesty, it was a little baffling.

Maura had liked her when she'd only been Cyb to her, just some moody woman who had knocked into her on the streets, a woman who had agreed to have supper with her on a whim, to quench feelings of loneliness and abandonment. Maura had liked her even when she'd thought Cyb was overdosing, drugged out of her mind as she was on Von Reichter's poison. Maura continued to like her now that she knew she wasn't even human, and yet it was with a fondness that didn't carry any of the scientific or sexual fascination that Lucas's did. With Maura she just seemed to continue to be Cyb, though admittedly now a Cyb who occasionally came late to their restaurant reservations because she'd been held up hunting down a Fixed Idea for dinner.

A crack wrenched her from this train of thought, and she jerked back as bits of pen and ink splattered down from her hand. With a groan Cybersix leaned back in her chair and tossed her glasses aside. The glasses clattered rather accusingly across the table and, from the unintended force of the throw, ended up sliding straight off onto the floor. The daybook, of course, was ruined, two whole pages now soaked with ink – not only had she gotten no work done but now she'd have to redo what she'd previously had finished. Just perfect.

With a huff she shoved back from the table, with enough force that her chair legs whined against the floor and Data-Seven's head rose from the bed to watch her. Not giving her brother any heed, she stomped over to her little kitchen to wash the ink off her hands.

Of course, she could just continue to do nothing, she thought rather snidely. It had worked so far, hadn't it? She was lucky to have Maura's friendship – it had fallen into her lap, and it was only by good luck and unlikely circumstances that she'd managed to hang onto it for this long. It had been luck that they had bumped into each other that first night, or that they had found each other again immediately afterwards. It had been a whim, and a deep, inexplicable sense of pity (for herself as much as Maura) that had compelled her to invite Maura first to dinner and then to stay the night. And it had been a strange, sick, twisted sort of luck that of all night's that was when she had fallen victim to one of Von Reichter's schemes, dragging Maura – and Do – through a series of events that had gotten Maura tangled up in her life. Would she really risk one poorly thought out act unraveling all that? Cybersix was not, by nature, a lucky person, of that she was certain – everything she had, she had been forced to claw from life with tooth and nail. Just in meeting Maura, she was equally sure she had used up the little bit of luck she had been allotted.

A murmuring growl from Seven made Cybersix jerk her hands back out from under the sink and turn the water off; she kept her back to the panther and focused on drying her hands on the kitchen towel, stoidly trying to project that she had, in fact, fully meant to keep scrubbing her hands raw for as long as she had. She could practically feel Seven's amused judgement – they had always been able to understand each other, even after the incident, and Cybersix found herself wondering how much Seven knew about what she was thinking about.

There were some things you didn't need your brother to know about you, and your shameful, burning crush was one of them.

Another thing was the suffocating, crushing weight of indecision and fear that something as simple, and childish as a crush had laid on her.

So instead of addressing it, instead of acknowledging it, Cybersix chose instead to toss herself bodily onto the bed – making Seven grumble as he was bounced from his place of comfort – and instead just curl up next to him, shoving her face against her brother's warm fur. She was tired of making decision tonight. She was tired of every single, stupid aspect of her life feeling like it was a life and death situation. Was it so bad that she had something simple and nice and uncomplicated? Maybe tomorrow she would wake up and know exactly what to do, but for right now she made the daring choice of doing absolutely nothing at all.