[ChApTeR.fOuR

[Like, Think I'm in Love

"Uh, Anarki man, this game is ancient," Slash said. "You're always complainin' about old things," she concluded. "So what's up with this?"

"Like, there's a difference between 'old' and 'classic', 'kay?" Anarki said. "Space Invaders is CLASSIC, dood."

"Whatev," Slash said. They were hanging out in a virtual version of Anarki's room, playing an old arcade game. Oh, sorry, I meant "classic".

"You're just p'o'd 'cause I'm beatin' you," Anarki teased. "C'mon, Cutie Honey, get in the game!"

"Woah. Woah woah woah. STOP. Pause. Freeze frame. You did NOT just call me that," Slash said. "If you want to live and keep your limbs, you did NOT."

Anarki stared at her. "What? Other people call you that," he pointed out. "Don't make such a big deal out of it..."

"Ya think I LIKE it when those dorkons call me stuff like that?" Slash said, fists up. "Dude, like where have you been?"

"Cyberspace," Anarki said matter-of-factly, then dissolving into laughter. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry, don't hit me," he said, cringing, but still laughing. "I'll never say it again, okay?"

"You promise?" Slash asked, hands still balled into fists, but she was starting to laugh too. "You like promise on your life or what?"

"Yeah, I promise! Okay?" Anarki said. Slash punched him, not very hard, a joke-punch. They collapsed into fits of giggles.

"Dude! We're ridiculous," Slash said. "We seriously do not look like a couple of 'gladiators' right now." "Yeah, dood," Anarki said. "Like, where'd we come into the picture?" "Cybronic, cybronic, cybronic implants!" Slash sang, grinning.

Anarki smiled as much as his mouth would allow. "Yeah, seriously," he said. "Plus it's fun."

"Easy for you to say, numbnuts," Slash said. "You can't like feel the pain!"

"Yeah, so?" Anarki said. "It makes it better!" He laughed nervously and looked at Slash. "Hey, Slash..." he started.

"What, Anarki?" Slash said. The gigglefits had stopped, and the quiet was odd. It was as if everything had just... froze.

"Okay, this is like coming out of left field, I guess, but..." Anarki said. "Uh... I... I'm... Okay, this is weird. I've never done this before..."

"Spit it out, Mumbles."

"Slash... I... I really like you. There, there, I said it. Okay." He looked at her. She looked surprised, but a smile slowly developed on her face.

Anarki took a step toward her. It was almost subconscious. He reached out for her and put his arms around her in a hug. "I... I think... I love you..." he said.

"You really do?" Slash asked, looking at him, smiling.

"Yeah... I really do."

"Then... I love you too?" she said. She laughed. "Aw, Anarki, you're so cute and kiddielike."

"I've never liked anyone like this..." Anarki said. "Never had the time... I'm always in such a hurry. But there's like... somethin' about you... Hold on. Cute and kiddielike?"

Slash laughed, and wrapped her arms around him. "You're funny," she whispered. She felt Anarki's wired mouth brush up against hers. Even in virtual reality it seemed real. She kissed him back. "That's how you do it, wired dude," she laughed.

"Gimme a break," Anarki said. "I don't like got any experience!" They both laughed.

They sat down together, holding hands, saying nothing, for a long time. Then Anarki finally spoke. "You know Slash, I've had like this crush on you since we first got stuck into this thing. Y'know, like a bajillion years ago."

"I never like noticed," Slash said.

"Yeah... I kinda hid it," Anarki said. "Sorry, but I was kinda too freaked out to tell you. So I fragged ya a bunch instead... I'm sorry. I just wasn't like too sure, y'know?"

Slash smiled. "I fragged ya a lot, too, 'member?"

Anarki laughed. "Yeah, I've had my bits scattered way too much."

Slash gazed off into the 'distance', the distance being the 'wall' of the VR room. "Dude, we like don't belong here," she said finally. "Those other dudes, they're all like, hey, yeah, let's fight, but we'd be like nicely put with just some implants, the Net, and a couple'a chocobars."

"I'd go for that," Anarki said. "But it's like hopeless 'cause we're just gonna stay here all the time on a mega-replay."

"Yeah," Slash said, "But it's nice to like dream."

"Hey!" Anarki said. "Flash this: It's like a game to me, right? So just like make it a game for everyone else and it'll all be fine."

"Yeah, like in your dreams," Slash said, pushing him. "Try puttin' that past the O-So-Holier-Than-Thou Arena Loserbutts."

"Such a way with words, o Dragon Blade Lady," Anarki said. "Will you be my Mona Lisa?"

"Overdrived to, Anarki," Slash said, grinning. "If you can catch me, of course, oh great cyber-surfer!" She laughed and the VR room was replaced with a seemingly endless array of stars in an outer-space setting. She laughed and skated away, beckoning tauntingly to Anarki.

Anarki took the challenge, jumping on his board and surfing through the cyberspace universe, Slash staying just slightly out of the way. "What, slowed down already?" Slash taunted. "Restart and try again."

"'Sup?" Anarki said, on her other side, tapping her shoulder. "Caught ya."

The surroundings reverted to the room-replica. "Aww, no fun, that was over too fast," Slash said, mock-pouting.

Anarki laughed and pounded his chest. "I'm king of the VR jungle!" he said, and picked Slash up.

"Dude! Put me down!" Slash said, kicking. Anarki did, and gave her another wiry kiss.

"You're not a good kisser," Slash pointed out, and they started laughing again.

"Whoo, somehow I'm tired now," Anarki said. "You ran down my batteries," he complained. "I'm gonna get you for that." "Stick it in yer ear," Slash said, giggling. "Let's charge together!" Anarki thought for a moment. "'Kay," he said, smiling. They both plugged into the charger and fell asleep in each other's arms. Aww.