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Author's notes:

So I watched episodes 13 and 14 and just felt that I HAD to write some fiction on this amazing series. This is a reflection on both episodes, mainly 14. If you never watched it, or aren't clear on what happened in it, it's probably going to get confusing! READ AND REVIEW!

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"Are you still wearing that thing," I sniff in disdain. Vincent tries to reply, but instead sneezes, and the blanket almost slides off his shoulders. I try not to react at that, but I find myself turning abruptly, and slamming the hatch of the Rabbit down. That man. He did the most unbelievable things; said the most unbelievable things. I can feel hair standing and my blood pressure going up.

We had left Ophelia behind rather quickly. Thanks to Vincent, there were no more physical threats in the guise of Fake-Vincents and Fake-Reals to go around luring us to death by strangulation. But I think both Vincent and I were eager to get away as soon as we could.

"Let's relax and stay here for a while," the mirror proxy had said to each of us, both times in the guise of the other.

It had been awful, trying to figure out what was real – and what was Vincent. Even though Vincent's teeth had been chattering from the cold as he steered the Rabbit, I insisted on having us debrief and clear up the matter. I didn't care that he thought I was being unreasonable, but I couldn't let him realized how panicked the entire incident had made me. I hope it hadn't shown in my voice. So between the two of us, we realized that the other proxy must have had been watching us for a while, to gain more information about who we were and what our names were to use that against us. That's how the proxy must have known about how much I liked ginger ale, had known to smile and act pleased when Vincent had offered her the two bottles. That's when she'd – it'd asked him to relax. So the fake-Real had been offered more food by Pino , and the fake-Real had wanted to shoot Pino for 'poisoning' it… as if I would do that. How could Vincent believe that one, I would have thought Pino were poisoning me, and two, that I would have been stupid enough to eat anything offered by that infected Autoreiv?

And he says that he's in love with me.

I flinch. I wonder where that thought came from. Pino looks at me questioningly.

"Real-Real, what's the matter?"

I shake my head, and ignore the machine. And then I stop, thinking about Iggy. What of my promise to him?

On my end of things, I was on the rooftop when the fake-Vincent came to me, and offered me ginger ale too. I pushed him off the ledge by accident, and he disappeared after I rushed down to make sure he was okay. Why do I even bother? The man is indestructible. I mean, even if it had been him. Real Vincent.

…Real Vincent. Real, Vincent. Vincent, Real.

My name is stupid.

…So Vincent had called a time-out, and he locked the fake-Real in and went off to talk to Pino. In the middle of the conversation, the proxy fizzled into form in front of me, but by accident, as me. Belatedly, it tried to change to Vincent's image but as it changes, I push the proxy off the building. It turns back into Fake-Real in midair, and as the body drops, it snags Vincent's and Pino's attention. Vincent is horrified, but when he gets to the body, he realizes that there's a pulse, there's breathing, and since there's no blood or injuries, I should b- I mean, it should be… Fake-Real should be all right. So he goes to check the roof, where I've been all this while.

Of course, I'm spooked. So I pull the gun on him, knowing there's a doppelganger around. I lock him on the roof and run off.

On the stairs, I run straight into the fake-Vincent, and he grabs me by the throat until I black out. I don't know if that was on purpose, or if it just didn't realize I wasn't dead. According to Pino, he meets her on the ground floor, and slings me over his shoulder and walks with her to the lake, where that proxy has buried all the people of this world in underwater graves. And he asks Pino, "do you like me?"

Insecure bastard.

He floats me on the surface of the water, and then Pino tells him that she knows there are two of them. He tries to choke her, but realizes she's an autoreiv.

How could he have not noticed?

"How could you have not noticed? I've been with you all this while."

Iggy.

Iggy.

The monster mistakes an autoreiv for a little girl with a soul.

This monster mistook a soul for an autoreiv.

How can a computer virus give a machine a soul? Isn't it strange that we use the same word 'virus' to talk about a malicious program in central processing units and a debilitating organism in a human body.

I was a selfish bitch to him, but Iggy was a machine to me. A processing unit without the capacity to feel pain or do anything but simulate annoyance at the thought of a willful master. I asked for Iggy to be programmed in that way, to challenge me on the off-chance I might be wrong. To put up the highest resistance and Autoreiv can be programmed to put up against their masters. But ultimately, always follow through with my instructions, unless his challenges managed to sway my decisions.

In a way, I programmed him to allow me to be a selfish bitch. And I am only selfish when Iggy is able to feel pain and actually resist me, not just simulate it.

What is real?

What is not?

So Pino saves my life and rescues me from drowning. Meanwhile, Vincent is going crazy because he can't find either of us, and he thinks I've taken Pino and sailed off in the Rabbit without him.

Crazy.

As if I'd take the stupid autoreiv and leave him. I – I mean, why would I have taken the autoreiv with me, if I were going to leave him behind? What I mean to say is, why would I have taken the autoreiv when I could have just left both of them behind?

Better.

So Vincent runs around and finally finds the lake, where the fake-Real is floating. The other proxy tries to drown him, and he's treated to a cinematic, emphatic blow-by-blow of through-your-eyes recounts of the proxy's life. He won't tell me what it was, though. Just that the proxy wanted to end everything, end both of them.

Nevertheless, that's when I come to and make sure Pino is Pino. Then Pino and I notice the flashes of light from deep within the lake, probably flashes of battle between the two proxies. Vincent wins, and he comes up to me. We leave, because we find The Rabbit that the other proxy hid away.

Wait.

There's one part I missed out. Backtrack.

The first time I encountered the mirror proxy. That was after I'd left Vincent and Pino in the cafeteria and climbed to the roof. That was when the fake-Vincent came to me with two bottles of ginger ale. Ah. I see. Those were the bottles that Vincent had given the fake-Real. He'd said something about "finding it in the back," which Pino told me was exactly what Vince had said earlier. So I was right, the proxy was watching really carefully in order to mimic us.

"What is with you?"

I – well. Vincent had asked that of the fake-Real. What's with a Fake Real? Everything.

And Fake-Vincent had repeated what it'd just heard Vincent say, and asked that of me, Real-Real.

"Maybe we could… stay here for a while."

"We're leaving once we resupply."

"What's the big rush? How often do we get a chance to relax like this?"

"That's enough."

"What's wrong with you? Why'd you talk that way"

"Huh?"

"Why can't you try being a little nicer?"

Is the way I am so surprising, Fake-Vincent? Iggy called me a bitch. Useless. Other names besides. Pino said I was mean and that I was the Scary-Lady. The other autoreiv hadn't said anything, but it'd tried to kill me.

"What's wrong with you? Why'd you talk that way"

"Huh?"

But I know Vincent would have never asked that of me.

"If you expect me to coddle the two of you through the rest of-"

"But I thought you had feelings for me, Real."

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

"C'mon, don't you like me?"

The proxy of mirror images had said, "But I thought you had feelings for me, Real."

And I was relieved, relieved to find out that the proxy who had said that to me wasn't the real Vincent. There, it crops up again: Real Vincent.

I have a very stupid name.

I am relieved to know that the proxy that grabbed me by the waist, the arm, wasn't Vincent. Vincent would never have done that.

"But I thought you had feelings for me, Real."

Again. Here comes that thought again. What exactly… would have made this sinister observer say this? As far as I've analyzed this incident, it seems as if he tries to stay in-character as much as possible to avoid suspicion.

In-character, huh.

"Why can't you try being a little nicer?"

Fake-Vincent. Mirror Proxy. Reflectionless-Vincent.

"You are such a selfish bitch."

Dead Iggy. Infected Iggy. Real Iggy.

I'll tell you what in-character is. In-character Real is lost, in-character Real doesn't know what to decide about Iggy, post-Cognito-Virus. In-character Real is lashing out, assertive, challenging, because that's how she programmed Iggy and therefore herself to function. In-character Real doesn't need to be nice to anyone; she's not selfish or a bitch as long as the entity she's yelling at is a machine programmed to challenge her but not sophisticated enough to feel the pain of that humiliation. Iggy asked me to try to understand him. To understand that when something gains a soul, virus-caused or not, this makes a human's expected manipulation of a machine unacceptable. Iggy asked me to understand him. And I'm afraid that even if I ever do, it won't make a difference, because Iggy is gone, his computer chip destroyed. What would I do, even if I had it? Infect it with a Cognito Virus, thereby condemning Iggy to death in Romdo, condemning him to be able to feel pain and be hurt and have free will?

I can't change anything, but I know what I can do.

Now we are on Vincent's journey to self-discovery. Somehow along the way, I let the infuriating man take the helm and steer us. I am ostensibly still here, because he is crazy enough to give me back my gun and allow me to shoot him when he finds out the truth, discovers himself, etc.

"AHH-CHOO!"

Pino looks up in surprise.

"Poor Vince! He's still steering outside, isn't he?"

I see his red uniform still dripping on the Rabbit's floor.

It's cold. Thoughts of blankets. Covering.

I can't change anything that I did or didn't do to you, Iggy. But I know what I can do.

Real-Real, understand what Real Vincent is.