Warning: DIFFERENT. STYLE. Methinks. I could also rant and rave about how this is not incest in the anime but unfortunately a debate I got into with various people recently has left me terribly confused. However by own ethical beliefs, if Rockman was created out of Saito's DNA I could not think of him as Saito. Merely a clone who only possessed a portion of the genetic structure since he is a navi and all…people seem to forget the real Saito is stuck six feet under in a coffin. Which would involve Dr Hikari doing a lot of imagined personality tweaking as the real Saito has never grown up to give him any indications. He is therefore creating a metaphorical test-tube baby with his idea of ideal characteristics. Annnnnd we can all see where this is going so I'll shut up now.

I guess this will stand as it is. I personally choose to believe they are not brothers till I see definite proof otherwise in the anime. And no, Netto's 'grandfather' appearing in one Beast eppy doesn't verify this as one of my friends seems to believe.

Life was very interesting. Like a patchwork quilt, an exquisite blend of colours, shapes, patterns that weaved together in a tapestry of warmth. Some bits were barren with loose ends and tightly wound stitches that told of disappointments and scars, an inch of scabs on penetrated fingers and beads of blood. Other were complete, soft and fuzzy next to the skin, telling of comfort and winding up a strategy to become nestled up in someone else's arms. The old share-a-blanket-routine.

Meiru had once tried it with Netto on a camping trip. It had been a resounding failure with the boy hogging most of the space and having the inability to understand that she had deliberately left her jacket behind so that he would give her his own...just as she had envisioned it in the movies.

Rockman had shook his head sadly as Netto lost 70 per cent of all feeling in his cheek for that night and had promptly booked Meiru in for a short-term course of intensive karate training with an upfront payment, acquired by Rush-sitting during Roll's usual shopping trips. He had spent the whole coach trip back home, persuading the disgruntle red-head that she had the knack for it…and it would add on to another skill she could beat Jasmine in.

The next week the girl had clambered into the classroom with various bruises, welts, ragged nails and calloused hands that no amount of skin cream would soften.

Rockman believed in karma. Unfortunately, so did a furious Roll who literally proceeded to wipe the floor with him by the aid of her new high-heeled boots. They dug into the back of his helmet at an alarming rate, causing at interesting dent to form.

Netto was still only 12 years old.

At 13, Netto received his first actual kiss.

Holding the umbrella open for Meiru, hair already soaken with rain-leaden weight, he obligingly walked her home giving her the most room under their mint-green shelter of plastic and thin sheeting. He had no idea what he looked like to her, skin coated in walls of moisture and cold vapour that caused his breath to come out coated with steam, but she had stared at him with big, round eyes that sparkled with all the desire of a schoolgirl. Then, on her outstretched toes, in her flimsy black gown and under her firm, stone porch, she wrapped her eager limbs round him and buried her lips into his surprised mouth.

Netto spent the next half hour wandering round in town in a misty stupor getting haplessly lost. He also discovered that Rockman had a rather helpful inventory of maps.

At 14, Netto asked a girl out for the first time on his terms.

She wasn't someone he knew particularly well, just a teenager he'd seen loitering around the park each Friday afternoon who took a surprising interest in feeding squirrels. She was tall and gauntly, with a swirl of blond hair he wanted to curve his fingers through as they observed the ripple of a movie screen together. Their handfuls of sticky popcorn raided each other's mouths and Netto learned all about her dog, her phobias and that she had worn braces when she was eleven.

Years later he couldn't even remember her name…but Rockman still dutifully held onto her phone number in the back of the digital directory.

At 15, Netto told a girl she was beautiful for the first time.

Pride, eyes shimmering from delight, was blushing gracefully in her new frock of satin crimson that gave off an aura of wild untameable passion. Netto stood memorised by the sight, carefully tracing into his memory the delicate bones in her angles and neck, blinking as her ripple of hair bounced off the bright colour marking an undisputed snapshot of unrivalled beauty.

He completely missed the sharp heated looks being scorned into his back by both Laika and Meiru and couldn't understand why Rockman hurriedly called for a taxi to collect them before Pride's birthday celebration was halfway over.

At 16, Netto bedded a girl for the first time.

Jasmine was sweet and cuddly with a detectable trace of spice on her lily skin. She specialised in perfumes and kind words, refusing to tear open any smarting self-esteem issues a naturally bashful Netto had and preferring to simply hold him in her graceful arms until they were done. She also had sensitive eyes that could pick out and palpitate unsteady nerves in mere seconds and to Netto's wondering eyes she was perfection.

Having started a relationship, it naturally drew to a close on her return to her homeland a few months later; they promised to remain friends under the strain of their shared experiences. Rockman always took care to help Netto choose an extra expensive piece of jewellery for her each year at Christmas.

At 17, Netto kissed a boy for the fist time.

Everyone was shocked except for Enzan and Laika who both rolled their eyes and offered Netto a place to stay in case things got too unbearable. Hakaru adjusted quickly, learning to smile at the memory and encouraging her son to grow in the way he thought to be right, ruffling his hair affectionately and elbowing the temporarily mute Yuuichiro. The surprised scientist learnt to take it in his stride although he never choose to breach the subject with Netto, only once frowning at a sobbing Meiru and sharply reprimanding her withdrawal from his son's companionship.

Rockman spend the next two weeks as consular, even venturing out into the real world with the improved and standard technology of the era, listening to his operator's private worries and fears and soothing over any choric fits of depression.

At 18, Netto started a proper long-term relationship with someone for the first time.

Enzan was patient, stoic and still seemed to find Netto's sudden outbursts of emotion as torture rather than enduring. But he was also protective, possessive and understanding, determined to give Netto a sort of life worth mentioning with pride. The year was spend as a diversion of business and touring various lands filled with sun and shops for the brunette to drag him into, a bright whirlwind of fun.

The fun had to end when Netto discovered the genius in a drunken fling with someone he didn't even recognise but had a higher IQ than him and the exam certificates to prove it.

After hearing Netto's sobs night after night following the break-up, Rockman coldly rejected all of Enzan's calls, directing them alternatively to an irate Yaito and an imposing Yuuichiro who morphed into quite a frightening figure when you upset his little boy.

Ah yes, Rockman's belief in karma never wavered for a second. Which is why a less-than-amused Enzan found his email inbox continually flooded with viruses, Spam and once with an attachment of a familiar red navi with broken shades and a twisted arm. Blues decided to never sneak up on Rockman when he was having a serious discussion with a pillow-hugging Netto ever again.

At 19, Meiru stopped speaking to Netto.

At 20, Enzan and Netto became friends again.

At 21, Netto realised that Rockman had never dated, kissed or slept with anyone before.

Two days later he mustered up the courage to ask why not.

Ten seconds later he got a reply.

"You're waiting? Waiting? For what? True love? Meh…it doesn't happen."

"Oh really Netto-kun?"

"Well I've never found it and look what's happened to me! I've been screwed over so many times by people I know…and trust…"

"I could screw you over too…"

"You? Naaaaah…you'd never mess me around. You care too much to do that. You'd properly have fit at the thought of deliberately hurting me."

A twitch of wry lips on a mouth that has never been kissed.

"That's not what I meant…"

Green eyes raise up and over directly across and past the LCD. They are meaningful and kind, have always been but it is the first time in his life that Netto realises how much he has truly come to depend on them always being close to him.

He trembles.



The navi raises a finger to administer the gentle reproach, tentatively reaching out with single glove in a smooth motion.

"I'm a very patient navi Netto-kun. I know how to wait."

Netto Hikari has always belonged to him. He just had to wait for the truth to force it's way into his operator's dense skull.

At 21 years, one month, three days and 42 seconds, Netto Hikari realised he had been in love with his net navi since he was 12. And all those other first times were irrelevant because there were plenty of other times to share with a smiling Rockman.

Of course there were scars; he felt guilt for letting Rockman love him for all those years without realising his own feelings and embarking on other strings and chances. And each time the navi would stroke the horrid niggles of his irrepressible conscience away with practised ease and tell him that sometimes it's better to wait than to push. After all, Netto is good at pushing. And not so good at waiting.

Yes, Rockman had never dated, kissed or slept with anyone before. But he accomplished all three things by the time Netto turned 22. And as Netto found out, he was pretty damn good at it.

Yes, Netto kept in contact with Jasmine but not with Meiru. Which in retrospect, is probably grossly OOC. I don't know what Meiru's views on homosexuality are, but she seems too big-hearted a person to abandon Netto because of it. She probably wouldn't speak to him for a while though at first…she does seem to regard Netto as 'hers' in the anime.