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“I still think Galactica was better.”


“Except the movie, of course. What was it called again? Scooter?”


“At least Pulaski’s about to show up. Anyone’s better than Crusher.”

Boey didn’t respond, so Hector stopped teasing him and started clearing off the coffee table. The bottle-to-coaster ratio was in the danger zone, but the night was almost over. He tried to be quiet about it even though his hands were shaking. But even after a particularly loud clink, Boey barely snorted.

Are you sure?

“Of course not,” Hector muttered under his breath. It was a lot easier to tell his mom the truth when she couldn’t hear him. Maybe a therapist would tell him why someday. But until then, Hector just sighed and reached for the last thing on the table.

Your dad would say the same thing. Call him if you like.

“I did.” And he had. His mom had made plenty of mistakes, but the one place she’d never screwed up was family.

Hector looked at the ring on his finger to remind himself that that was what this was all about. Boey wanted to be family, and Hector wanted that too, more than anything. So he took the phone he’d picked up and sat on the couch, careful not to wake his fiance. He fiddled with it for a minute, but he knew he was just buying time.

This is how it’s done, now. No more signatures to forge, no ciphers to decode, no couriers to bribe. Today, the only way to pretend to be someone is to be him. And he knows that.

“So do I.” It still felt like a perversion, though. Everyone talked about ‘always being together,’ ‘their better half,’ ‘sharing a brain.’ But nowadays, people spent more time on their phones than they did talking. Than they did thinking. In here were journal entries, friends, even daydreams. Secrets that were so old they’d been forgotten were still kicking around between the transistors somewhere, so actually it was worse than unlocking a brain. Neurons and ganglia and grey matter could lose stuff, but silicon and germanium and lithium were forever.

That was why he had to do this, though.

I know it’s hard. But so is everything worth preserving.

He nodded, and tapped the screen one more time, then gently set it into Boey’s hand, curling his fingers around it for him. He pressed Boey’s thumb into the circle, ready for the vibration. What he wasn’t ready for was the whole screen going whiter than Silas’s ass, holy shit. The entire ceiling lit up, and so did Boey’s face. But he just tilted his head away and leaned deeper into the couch, muttering.

Hector wiped the sweat from his own face with one hand, the other keeping everything steady as the light faded back to normal. He had to finish this.

Because nothing’s more important than family.

“Nothing.” Hector took his phone out of Boey’s hand. Fingerprint registered. It was done. He went to the home screen, admiring his favourite picture of his mom and dad, the one from last year when he’d officiated the renewal of their wedding vows. They smiled back at him, so proud. But then he went in and changed it to one from Boey’s first Christmas with them. They all wore ugly sweaters and wide grins, and Hector’s arms were around Boey.

So he has to trust you completely.

“And he does.” Hector set his phone on the table, and felt between the couch cushions until he found Boey’s. It took an extra minute to navigate the tacky limited-edition iPhone (a gift from Franz, of course), but eventually he found the right settings page. He put it in Boey’s hand, this time tilting it down and away from them, lighting up the Enterprise. He smiled again as he took it back, and pressed his own thumb into the circle.

In order for you to trust him.

“I do.”

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