That night (he isn't sure which one; Epsilon is pumping nights into him, passing on featureless darknesses that might have significance to someone but certainly don't to David)-

That night-

"Who's Allison?"

"What?" Washington's cheek is pressed against his pillow, feeling dusty. The barrack is dark.

"Who's Allison?"

"My head is killing me." Wash realizes it as he says it and rubs at his neck. The ache is dull and persistent. Out of it floats a sound: York's voice.

Then York is crouching next to his bed, grinning. "I didn't know you left a girl back home."

Wash shakes his head. The movement doesn't make the hurt get worse. "What are you talking about?"

"Allison?"

Wash's throat feels dry.

"You were yelling this girl's name. Stop it or you're gonna be sleeping in the hallway. Half of us are awake."

He can see their eyes in the dark. Florida, Arizona, Maine.

Wash says, "I don't know."

And then it starts again.

Wash's eyes widen as he looks around. The sound isn't echoing like it should be in such a large room. It makes the skin on his neck prickle. "Where's that-"

Allison Allison Allison ALLISON

York's eyes widen, but he doesn't look around. Just stares up at Wash.

Wash says, "Oh." Then he says, "Epsilon."

The AI appears in front of him as if the transparent feet were really standing on the floor. "Agent Washington."

Wash slides down so that he, York, and Epsilon are all sitting on the floor. It's cold, and Wash instantly wishes he hadn't dragged his feet out from under the blankets. The pillow comes with him and he grabs onto it to prop it between his bed and his back. York has a regulation-blue blanket wrapped around his bulky frame. Wash says, "What were you...saying. Just now."

Epsilon's featureless face looks discouraged. "Memories."

"Can you remember a bit more quietly?"

"Am I upsetting you, Agent Washington?"

"Maybe you would be if I was awake enough."

"I am sorry."

(Wash can hear it as it from far away, the memories running down the list of every single time Epsilon/Alpha has ever said he was sorry and every time he hasn't when he should, except that one time is still occluded, still fuzzy as Epsilon fights because even as something that is all memory he doesn't want to remember-)

York says, "I know, man, we're all having trouble getting used to things."

Epsilon says, "That is not an unusual state, for beings involved in life."


There were other problems. Wash's vision tended to go fuzzy even when he was dreaming, images overlapping and flinching through . But the others said that the same thing happened to them, and it brought them together. All six of them.

They sat in a mostly-empty dormitory the previous night, the stars outside the Mother of Necessity just as bright and the space between them just as dark and humming with implied invention. They talked, three bodies and six minds letting themselves drape against pillows and walls.

York said, "Dee just wants to live a little, right?"

"Technically we are not living, Agent New York. We are simply constructs, who know how to make connections."

Maine leaned forward, his weight creaking his bunk. "Then how do you even know if you're not living?"

Delta said, "There is a standardized definition of living, which is imbued into all of us. Life, as we perceive it, is the desire to keep living, whether that desire is unconscious, or conscious."

Wash felt Epsilon confirm that memory. That definition had been slipped to him like a sleeping pill. Wash resisted the urge to brush at the metal circle sunk into the back of his neck.


But that night-

Wash isn't sure how awake he is, but eventually York goes away and Delta goes away and the eyes on the other side of the room close. He climbs back into bed.

Epsilon remains silent but active, pooling freezing cold in the back of his head. Remembering sorries. Although Wash could sleep with his AI passenger in that state, something tells him that he shouldn't want to. It wouldn't be right, to leave Epsilon alone.