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Breed: Forty-three


  11:14:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 930 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Forty-three

?Whoa,? Peter said, taking a step back. ?Whoa.?
?That's the kind of response I was hoping for,? Cris said with a smile.
?Only if you wanted me to be saying it in the 'slow up' sense.?
?Oh.? Cris frowned. ?Did I do something wrong??
?Wrong? No. Not wrong. Just... whoa.?
?I'm not sure if you could elaborate, for those of us who haven't been formally trained as a beast of burden.?
?Not formally trained?? Peter asked.
?Really, I was just trying to get you to picture me with a riding crop.?
?Whoa,? he repeated.
?Does open a whole slew of en tendres, like 'I'd let you put the spurs to me.'?
?I need you to stop.?
?I don't think I see the en tendre in that one.?
?I mean it. We shouldn't need a safe word for conversation.?
?Consider me stopped,? Cris said, putting up his hands. ?I'm just still waiting for you to tell me why.?
?I like you,? Peter said. Cris tensed, waiting for the painful follow-up he knew was coming next. Only it didn't.
?I like you, too.?
?But that's a problem.?
?I'm beginning to see why you're single, I think,? Cris said. ?You really don't understand how relationships work.?
?It's a problem because I'm the head researcher on your project. It's a pretty high profile gig, all things considered; I'm essentially your boss on this. And you're young.?
?I'm pretty sure we're in the safe harbor for Romeo and Romeos, and even then, I'm nearly eighteen.?
?You know what I mean.?
?I think so, unless you're trying to sneak in polyamory. But the two things are complementary. You being too young, and me being in charge of you. They both speak to the same problem. Right now, no matter what, our relationship wouldn't be equal. I have more freedom, more opportunity, more responsibility, and more power, and I would in our relationship, too. And that's not all right. So even if we were technically okay in the eyes of the law, that doesn't matter to me. Because what I want out of a relationship is equality, a partner, someone who both contributes similarly to what I do, but also someone who's responsible similarly, too.?
?You'll always be older than me, though,? Cris said.
?True. But I'm not trying to say 'No forever,'? Pete said. ?The reason I don't like Romeo and Juliet statutes is that an age like 18 is a threshold. It's when you're supposed to be able to make those kinds of decisions, take complete control over your life, and indeed, have complete responsibility for you actions, at the same time. Until then, there's a gulf between where we are in our lives, and it's probably at the widest it will ever be. I do like you. And I'm not blind, either, so I know how you feel about me. And as much as I'm comfortable reciprocating right now, I do. I just don't think it's something we can do right now.?
?What about next year, when I am 18, and I'm living in the dorms, and I'm not some punk from Running Start who conned his way onto your research team??
?I don't know,? Peter said. ?But I hope you'll ask me, then.?
?And in the meantime? Do things get super awkward, so that by a year from now you can't stand being in the same room as me, let alone the idea of every grabbing some pizza??
?I hope not,? Pete said. ?And if you're willing to grab a platonic slice, I'd be happy to treat you.?
?Sure,? Cris said. ?But there was something else. Something that's been bugging me, worrying, maybe. And I think that may be why I needed to confront you tonight. In case... in case I wouldn't get another chance.? He stopped, and swallowed. ?It's related to the registration act. They've been sharing registration data with the NSA, combining it with their data-mining operation. And we found out where they're storing the data.?
?Please tell me you aren't as stupid as this sounds.?
?They're the reason Elijah's dead. And how many others? We know about Elijah because he was local, because we met him. But how many others have been hurt across the country? How many people got killed because of them, that they were simply able to keep quiet? And how many more will there be??
Pete held up his hand, and Cris stopped. ?I get that,? he said. ?You aren't wrong, to want to do something. But that something? What you're implying... it's insane. Attacking a government installation, the federal government would have to respond to that. And they wouldn't just round up Rox and her band of merry mutations. They'd have to come for all of us. It would turn us all into the Branch Davidians, the whole campus into Waco. I don't even want to guess how many innocent students and teachers would get hurt in that crossfire.?
?But what's the alternative?? Cris asked.
?Protest. Activism. Making sure these things get publicized. If we attack them, we're giving them a reason to fear us. If we're seen as violent and aggressive, it validates all of the fear and anxiety bigots have been ginning up against us, makes it easier for there to be more violent against transhumans. Registration, or at least letting registration continue, is rendering unto Caesar. This would be declaring war on the Roman Empire. Maybe some day we'll rule the son of a bitch, maybe even overthrow it. But righ now? We'd just be tossing our whole kind into a lion's den.?

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