by Michael Surbrook

My heart cries out to your heart,
I'm lonely but you can save me,
My hand reaches out for your hand,
I'm cold but you light the fire in me
One Year of Love

Lying in bed in her room in the cyborg ward of MegaTokyo General Hospital, Kitten stared with some satisfaction at her hands. The fact that she had two again pleased her greatly. She also had skin as well, which as a significant improvement over her physical state of a week ago. Turning her hands back and forth, Kitten survey their surface with a critical eye. Her new layer of synthetic flesh covered her armor plated limbs in a smooth coating that looked almost natural. It took close examination for anyone to notice the minor flaws that even the best synth-coating couldn't avoid. Like that fact that her skin was almost the same uniform warm brown all over, or that there was no evidence of scars or other blemishes that one would expect from someone in her line of work. Of course, Kitten wasn't to concerned about such problems, as she regularly dressed in clothing that only left her hands and face exposed. The fleshy substance that covered her limbs and body was there to make her feel more human, not to be displayed provocatively.

Sitting back, Kitten ran her hands across her face, feeling the false warmth on her cheeks. Drawing them down across her neck, she let the tips of her fingers brush lightly across the hard ridge where her natural, organic, flesh ended and her armor plated cyborg body began. Bringing her hands further down, she encountered the firm curve of her breasts. She slowly dragged a fingernail up and over the curve of each breast, sigh slightly at the sensation. Slowly circling each nipple, Kitten gave a sudden gasp of pleasure as she brushed her thumbs across each quickly stiffening point. A full body neural net didn't come cheap, and hers seemed to be working just fine. Continuing her caress, Kitten moved her hands down across the smooth expanse of her stomach, running her fingers over each artificially sculpted curve of her abdomen. Finally her hands came to rest at the tops of her thighs. Kitten paused for a moment, eyes closed, breathing a deep sigh of release. Reaching down still further, her hands came to rest upon a cool expanse of metal plate, her legs.

The doctors had yet to finish repairing her legs, and her recent body surfacing had stopped at the curve of her hips. Kitten sighed again, rebuilding her shattered body was going to take time, and she needed to be patient. Pulling her hands away from her legs, she slowly began to move them down between her thighs, to the only other place on her body that wasn't covered with multiple layers of chromium-carbide sheeting.


Kitten sat up in a blur, desperately trying to adjust her hospital gown and the bedsheets all at the same time. She stopped her frantic motions almost immediately as she realized who foolish it must make her look. Face feeling warmer by the second, she turned to greet her visitor.

<Uhhh... hiya, Katsumi. What brings you here?>, she said sheepishly.

Katsumi stood just inside the door, a bundle of flowers in one hand. She was dressed, oddly enough, in her full dress police uniform; long coat, cravat, epaulets, the works. She was trying, and failing, to hide a slight smirk.

<Am I interrupting something?> she asked lightly.

Kitten face burned with embarrassment as she tried to respond in the same tone, <No, no, I was dozing and you just startled me.>

<Unhunh... then why are you blushing like that?>

<I am not!> Kitten realized that she was fighting a loosing battle, and any denials were only going to make it worse. <Look, did you come here just to give me a hard time?>, she snapped.

There was a long moment of silence where Katsumi kept looking like she was going to say something. Kitten knew exactly what was going on, her supposed best friend was having a serious internal struggle trying to decide whether or not to make some smart remark in response to her question. Finally, after muffling several bursts of laughter with her hand, Katsumi shook her head. <I'm sorry, Kitty-kun, I just came by to see how you were doing and to cheer you up.>

Kitten's anger, which really wasn't Katsumi's fault anyway, melted instantly. <Thanks, Katsumi,> she smiled.

<And, I brought you flowers to brighten up your room with.> Katsumi dumped a now wilted previous bouquet into a waste bin and and replaced them with the fresh set. <There, doesn't that look better?>

<So,> Kitten asked as Katsumi busied herself arranging the colorful mass of blossoms, <Did you get yourself all dressed up just to see me?>

<Sorry, Kitten,> Katsumi shook her head, <I had a meeting with Captain Kobayashi this morning.>

<Oh,> Kitten responded quietly. She'd heard a bit about Kobayashi's recent interest in Takeda Johnson, and considering the events that had surrounded her last meeting with the man, Kitten really wondered if she wanted to know why.

Her flower arranging finally done, Katsumi pulled up a chair and sat down close to Kitten's bedside. Reaching out with one hand, she gently took one of Kitten's in her own. <How'ya feeling?>

<Better, now that I have skin.>

Katsumi smiled and shook her head, <You're sounding better already.>

Kitten didn't bother to respond, but simply snorted in feigned disgust.

There followed a long, almost uncomfortable silence. It seemed that Katsumi wanted to speak, but was uncertain of what to say, while Kitten, who was never the most open of people, seemed lost in her own thoughts. Finally, Kitten turned her head, and regarded Katsumi directly.

<Katsumi,> she asked hesitantly, <Can I ask you for some advice?>

<Uh... > Katsumi seemed a bit surprised by the request, <Sure, Kitten. Anything.>

<Okay...> Kitten swallowed before continuing. <I've given this a lot of thought, especially considering what... happened recently.>

She paused, trying to keep her breathing regular, and quickly drank a glass of water. <Anyway, I talked to Jagger for a bit right before I left Neo York, and something he said really touched me.> She paused again, her voice cracking slightly, <So...>

Katsumi gave her a reassuring smile, as if she knew where all this was leading. <Go on.>

Kitten took a deep breath, <Well... do you think I should ask Jagger to marry me?>

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