So as promised, there is the first of the other two Grace-POV one shots. :) I'm still debating about how to do the second one but yeah...and on another note, I'm going to be doing a trilogy of one-shots with...NORM! he was so cute!! so yeah, those and these will be in the same canon but seperate from "Little Bird"

anyway, this one is set before "Old Coyote" and the other will tenetively set after...maybe...

Dislcaimer; I own nothing at all :)


"And then there's morning/Each one feels like the first one/Ah, morning, so clean, so pure/Nothing so clear, now that I'm here"~ The Weepies, "Antarctica"


I swear I'm going to fucking kill Parker; I plot as I busy myself with calibrating the Marine's link. How in the fucking world can he think that this body is the same as the other? I needed Tom…the brilliant one. The one with the PHD, the one who knew what the hell was going on. Their DNA might be the same but a semi-depressed, emotionally unstable ex-marine with something to prove is the absolute last thing I need.

God damn Parker…that self-important little bastard has screwed me over for the last time. I wonder if anyone would care if I poked a few holes in his exo-pack? Probably only the investors back on Earth. Quaritch, maybe. All Parker has to do is say the word and Quaritch will use more fireworks than New Years to get what he wants. Not that he has to, only because he wants to. That man is a fucking rabid dog straining on the last link of his chain.

"So," I punch in the code without looking as the Marine pulls himself up into the link. He pushes the wheel chair away with a sort of affectionate hatred. "You just figured you'd come here, to the most hostile environment known to man," I turn back to him and pull the harness down over his torso. "With no training of any kind, and see how it went? What was going through your head?

"Maybe," Jake Sully fixes my questioning stare; the one Max says makes the new recruits shit their pants, with a matching one of his own. "I was sick of doctors telling me what I couldn't do."

Touché…

In his eyes I see an echo of my young self struggling through Stanford. My advisors telling me that Xeno-Biology and Botany were difficult subjects and that they would take a lot of work to even keep up, let alone excel. To the outsider, it sounded like they were concerned, but to me they were saying: You are a girl. This is not for you. You will go to hostile environments, get your hands dirty; you don't want that now do you? Fuck you, bastards. Look at me now.

I lay the harness down over him and tell him to lie still. I check his pupils for the last time. "Just relax and let your mind go blank." I grin. "Shouldn't be too hard for you."

The last thing I see before I shut the Marine's lid is his lopsided smile. He can take it and he can dish it. I like him already.

I sit back a moment and check over the system. Everything running just like it's supposed to be. But with all the stress of the last few days, now, I need a cigarette. I groan. I've been trying to quit, I promised Max I would. So, when I have a craving like this, I'll jump into my Avatar body and run around for a while. It doesn't completely take away the urge, but takes the edge off it for a while longer. It may be the same person in the new brain, but the new brain itself doesn't need the nicotine.

"I'm going into Link four!" I call and begin pulling off my lab coat. "Calibrate please!" Besides, I want to see how the Marine and Norm are in their new bodies. Already, one assistant, whose name is Sandra Something-or-Other, is punching in the codes at my station.

I lie down and pull the harness and the lid down. I take a deep calming breath and let my mind go. For a brief moment, before the edges of my mind start to fuzz, the nicotine monkey isn't screaming on my back, the need to commit murder has vanished and I'm floating in a pure white light. The brief and sweet nothingness of linking. But I don't stay long. Before I know it, I'm feeling the familiar tugs to my other body. There is a pressure, like a walrus, on my chest, the Jaws of Life on my skull...and when I don't think I can take anymore-

The sun is warm on my arms, the breeze brushing across my hair. I hear the laughter of the others, the familiar lullaby creaks of the trees behind me. Letting the air warm my lungs, I take a deep breath, and I open my eyes.

Shapes and shadows blur together for a while as my eyes adjust to the light. They swirl together in a rainbow kaleidoscope before my vision clears. As per usual, I flex my fingers and toes first, twist my arms and sit up. I stretch, reveling in the supple strength of this body. Breathing in another deep breath, I'm aware of everything. And it is fabulous.

Vaguely, it seems like a thousand years ago though, I remember that I'm a smoker; the nicotine's grip is still there but loosened. It seems to poke at my consciousness but not enough for me to pay it more than a few seconds of attention. And all the rage and blinding hatred I feel for Parker, is barely a substantial shadow of what it was. Maybe it's because I know that I have this second body to escape Hell's Gate and he's stuck inside.

"Back again, Grace?" Amanda's face looms before me. In her human form, Amanda's average height for a woman with dark brown hair ("espresso!" she declares proudly) and a pair of sharp dark brown eyes. Her Avatar has the same sharp eyes, still golden but with more flecks of brown than the average Na'vi's would. Even her luminescent freckles mirror the freckles in her human face. Sometimes it even surprises me.

She's not what one would consider "beautiful" in the physical sense (most of the time women have to have some special trait that sets them apart to be beautiful) but she's smart, quick, kind and it doesn't make up for beauty but still it's something.

"Yeah," I blink a few times, my eyes adjusting to the light. "Quitting is a bitch. Why am I doing it again?"

Amanda smiles. "So you can stay here longer and boss us around."

"Well…I won't be here much longer if Parker keeps pulling this shit," I retort and stand.
Amanda's brow furrows. "Why? Are you going to quit?"

"No," I laugh. "I'm going to murder him."

Amanda laughs too. "I see."

"Besides, it's the Marine's first day. Norm's too."

"No way!" Amanda glances around. "This I gotta see!"

Suddenly, the air is full of alarms as the airlock pops open and the Marine runs through it into the yard.

Max is panicking into the com-link on my neck. "Grace! Is he outside?! Is the body okay? Should I-"

I press the button cutting him off in mid-rant. "Calm down… He's getting his sea legs. Norm too. They're fine. "

The Marine stands there a moment, swaying in his hospital gown, but he doesn't stay stationary long. He moves across the basketball court where Sarah is destroying David, as usual. That man does not ever seem to learn.

The Marine watches them for a moment, adjusting to the sharpness of his new eyes. But he won't stay still. The Marine's step is un-coordinated and loose as he picks up speed. He doesn't even seem to hear Norm, who's falling all over himself as he tries to follow. But he's wobbling less now; his tail isn't whipping around to help keep him balanced.

The Marine neatly avoids a collision with an AMP and picks up a run. Now, his stride is smooth, he's remembering how it goes as he runs along the neat fruit tree rows. One foot in front of the other. Press the toes into the fresh tilled ground. He flies; his tail streaming out behind him. He glances down, amazed, and picks up an even faster gait, challenging himself after years of stagnation. He can do this; he can run…

And then just as quickly as he picked up speed, he slides to a stop and buries his toes in the sun-warmed dirt. He stands still finally, soaking in this moment of free movement.

"Hey, Marine!" I call and toss him a fruit, snapping him out of his waking dream.

He catches it, eyes wide. "Grace?" he wonders.

"Who'd ya expect, Numb nuts?" I laugh as he takes a huge bite, juice flowing down his chin.

"This is great," he mutters.

"Yeah, I can see that." I grin as Norm comes to a stop beside him. "Come on, let's get you some clothes."

Jake looks down, confused.

"The back's open," I retort dryly as Amanda sniggers beside me. Norm blushes bright blue, the spots glowing in embarrassment.

Jake points. "Hey, cool."
"Knock it off!" Norm slaps his hand down as they come up the small set of stairs into the new expanded sleeping quarters. I toss them specially made extra big t-shirts, like my Stanford t-shirt one that the University gave me before I came to Pandora (I have a picture of my tiny human self holding this massive t-shirt, but I don't know where it is), boxers, shorts with holes for their tails and sneakers bigger than any basketball players'. But Jake refuses the shoes. "I like going barefoot." He insists sitting on the edge of the stairs, still flexing his now working legs.

"Fine," I give in. "But when we go out into the field, you'll need shoes."

Jake only smiles and digs his toes into the dirt like a child. He sits back on the heels of his hands, feeling the sunlight on his face and the ground beneath his feet. He practically belongs here already.

Meanwhile, Norm is adjusting slower and walks around the fence line with Amanda. He isn't like Jake, a reckless Marine with nothing to lose, but I see him testing out different gaits here and there and hear Amanda's laugh when he trips. Amanda told me that they did their undergrad together but went to different grad schools. When she saw his name come up on the list of the new recruits, she stared at me in her Amanda way: eyes wide enough to take in everything and a slight blush under her freckles.

Whenever new drivers show up, I always remember my first time in this body. I remember thinking that maybe I had died in the processes and gone to heaven, or hell, or where ever it is we go. The lab was cold and blurry blue and steel grey. The voices of the people around me screeched and cracked un-naturally until everything settled.

I took that first full deep breath and had never felt anything like it. Every nerve ending practically whistled; there was so much to take in, so much to feel and see and taste. I had never been so hungry for the world. And when I ran that first time, God…

"Come on, Marine," I tease, whacking him on the shoulder as I pass him by. "Let's see what you got!"

Jake leaps up faster than the human eye could trace and follows after for a few paces before our strides match. Our feet make no sound when they hit the ground, we leave no trace. I glance over to see the pure joy radiating from him in waves, the same way it was for me. And I know that he will hold on to this day forever, just like I have. There isn't anything like that first day of waking up inside your Avatar; finding a piece of yourself you didn't know you were missing.

The Na'vi say that everyone is born twice. And I have been lucky enough to be born again into this world. I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Well? What'd ya think???