Nexus 3, Chapter 4

Note: I had the genius idea to listen through the audiobook of the first Nexus installment. I didn’t have it early enough to finish before Saturday. It’s good, I endorse it; the narrator does a fun job of getting across the different characters. I’m not sure if his rendition of Drew feels like more of a dick than I intended… or if I just didn’t realize how much of a dick I wrote him as. But it’s a good time. But I wasn’t writing this to tell you to buy my book. I just wanted to note that while I’m refreshing myself on the continuity, I’m a bit behind, so there may be elements that aren’t up to date, because I likely won’t be able to even start the second book until Monday, and my usual continuity person won’t be combing over this until the editing stage- assuming they’re talking to me by then. 

Chapter 4

“Why does everyone assume we never talk?” I asked. “Even a cursory look out our locations data over the course of any day would show that we spend time together. Or asking anyone who works any of the cafes. Or checking the cameras.”

“I think they just assume we spend whatever time we do jerking each other off,” my clone said, polishing off a beer.

“Huh. Why didn’t I ever think of that?”

“I’m going to say… brain worms. I mean there’s the option of several concussions, the invasive semen of a species of crab-monster who stabbed you with his penis-”

“It was for all intents and purposes a spear, you really don’t have to put it that way.”
“Actually, you should. I get that you get teased over it. By assholes. And… that for reasons that I don’t have the training or time to go into, you definitely fomented the environment in which those assholes thrived. But that’s why you should. Because sexual assault is rarely sexual in nature. And stigmatizing sexual assault survivors… is shitty, even for you.”

“Does you hating me count as self-loathing, or self-abuse?”

“And we’re right back to masturbation. Do you own stock in a lube company?”

“I just realized, all of those things happened only to me. You’re saying you’ve thought about us romancing each other?”

“I mean, not in a bringing flowers sense. At that point it’s really just very elaborate masturbation; if it helps, you can think of a clone as a lab-grown sex-toy.”

“Now who can’t stop talking about masturbation?”

“I’m glad you’re deflecting at least, because as the closest thing to an actual friend you have left on this ship, you really have to knock off the self-pitying schtick. I get it. I do. I love Elle at least as much as you do- just not the one you knocked up- the way we were. And since Sam holds a candle to her, enough that you’re struggling with choosing between them, I can only imagine how special she must be. But we need your head in the game, here. Yeah, your personal life is finally a mirror for your damaged psyche on the inside. And that sucks, truly; I’m only partly as traumatized as you, and . But what you’re clearly too far up your own ass to get is: I don’t hate you. I am all but certainly the most sympathetic ear you have on this ship. Maybe anywhere. I know you’re hurt. Lost, even. But a group of goddamned mad capitalists recruited our nephew to hunt us down and murder us, and everyone you care about. I’d like you to be happy. I’d like you to, finally, get your shit together. But what I need from you, what all of us need, is for you to keep those butchers from murdering us.”  

“I’m really beginning to dislike you. You’re younger, prettier, less injured or disabled, and more well-adjusted.”

“I could be flip, and tell you I had your example to learn what not to do by. But the truth is you absolutely should have put your toxic shit away long enough to get with Maggie. It’s not that she made me a better man. It’s that she helped me understand the tools I needed to do it myself. Not as a head-shrinker, but as a partner. I mean, for my sake, and probably hers, I’m glad you didn’t. But I remember how complicated things were with Elle- and that was way before you brought an alien telepath or a baby into the mix. And Maggie’s… easy. She gets me. And I understand her, in a way… you didn’t. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the legwork you did with her. And that you didn’t so thoroughly disgust her that she’d have nothing to do with me.

“Tough-love speech, huh?”

“You are being an absolute sack today?”

“Nut, sad, or wet and full of kittens?”

“All of the above.”

“Oh. I was certainly feeling that way. Didn’t realize how much it showed. That’s… distressing.”

“It’s okay to hurt,” he said, and put his hand on my shoulder.

“Sure,” I said. “But it’s distressing that I didn’t realize how much I’ve been broadcasting it.”

“That is a little worrying. 90% of your mythos and 70% of your job is being above it.”

“I don’t think I like your math.”

“Mainly because you can’t really argue with it.”

“Mostly that, yeah. But I am happy. For the pair of you. I know I… I screwed things up with Maggie. But she deserves a less fucked up me to be happy with.”

“And you’re also gratified to know that an exact copy of your genitals has touched her, aren’t you?”

“I am a good enough man not to comment… just not enough to say, ‘No.’”

“Just, for an instant, you should stop. And tell me, since I’m likely the only person you can be honest with right now. Are you okay?”

“Of course not. How could I be? The only way to be okay with this shit would be to share it, with Sam, with Elle. That’s what’s been so goddamned hard about it all. I’ve lost all of my support mechanisms just when I need them the most.”

“Hey,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder, “you’ve still got me.”

“Yeah. Okay. I’ve got Single White Male, who styles his hair just like me and is dating my ex and can’t stop thinking about mutually masturbating me to death.”

“You and I are probably the only people on this ship who would get that reference. Not… not exactly a classic.”

I sighed heavily. “I feel more alone knowing you’re the one who understands me the most right now.”

He fixed me with a patient, but pained smile. “It won’t always be like this. Whatever happens, with Sam or Elle, this will pass. And you’ll find a way to be happy, either with one of them, or neither.”

“You know, unless our nephew manages to murder us before then.”

“Oh. Yeah. That is a depressing thought. Well, off to enjoy the naked company of the woman you failed to properly woo.”


“Yes. Exactly. With that.”

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