"Headlong, Headfirst"
By: Megan Freeman

Disclaimer: If they were mine, Kevin would have been in Monsoon Man. Tomorrow People don't belong to me. They belong to Nickelodeon, ITV, Roger Damon Price, etc. I'm borrowing them.

Ruth's house is so empty it hurts, and everything died. Even the sounds of animals are just imitations of what they used to be. I want to run out of here screaming that no, I'm not dead.

I saw her obituary in the paper, and I knew to come here.

And I found him at the kitchen table, solemn and tall, dressed in a dark suit with an expensive tie that made him look so beautiful and unreal.

I guess in those few years, he grew up. No more itchy school blazers or dirty tennis shoes.

Oh, yes, he grew up.

When he sees me there is no shock in his eyes. In fact, he looks like he was waiting for me.

"I should have told you when the funeral was," he says to me, sipping his tea. And he stops looking at me.

"It would have been awkward," I answer, quietly, and I sit down with him, across the table.

"It was peaceful, she was in no pain," he tell me, and not that I would have asked. It scares me too much, being here near him. I've kept it all quiet since then, buried it inside, and underneath a trail of deceptive relationships. There's no evidence.

Nobody can accuse me of looking at another man's body and needing.

Except him. He knows, because he was the one who woke that need up. The one who keeps that little dragon in the pit of my stomach always growling.

I'm not sure which one of us decided drinking would be a good idea. I'm not sure when I started feeling so heavy. I look across at him, still amazed that he's Kevin. The mind that I sense, the ever present iridescent being, that's never changed. The container however, is different.

His eyes are grayer, and I remembered blue. He looks so sleek, so completely secure. There is no baby fat, no scarecrow leanness, but a sleek, firm, compact *man*. I'm forced to confront the fact that he is a man.

An equal, capable of doing everything I can. A man who does not need me to protect him, or to sit near silently and give some mysterious comfort that I don't understand.

"I think I should change my name," I say to him, smiling. Because I can't take how heavy *everything* is. This place. Ruth being dead. My body. His eyes on me. I'm not built to deal with all this *emotion*.

"Back to Marmaduke?" he asks me and he smiles in that way that *dirty* and he needs to stop. "What, don't want to be Megabyte anymore."

"Nah. He's kind of a jerk. I never did like Megabyte. He walks around all day and people think I'm him and it's just not cool," I tell him and yes, I do realize how completely psychotic that sounded.

This is where me and reality go our separate ways.

"Does he do things you don't like?" he asks me. Okay, he's playing along. This could be good. Or maybe it's the liquor. The one bottle of a Guinness I've had.

Oh, the agony of finding out that I'm a *really* cheap date!

Don't wanna laugh. Don't wanna laugh.

Laughing anyways.

"Really, it's a lousy name. I don't like video games. Or computers. The whole Megabyte thing, it's a huge misnomer. "

I feel like I should get a gold star for both knowing that word and using it *correctly* in a sentence. Forget that I'm lying right now.

"I gave you that name," he says and don't think I don't see how *sad* he is. Or how he tries to hide it. He can't hide behind uber-fashionable glasses and silk ties and pretend like I don't know that he cares. Even back then, when he was ten. That he didn't just beam when I took what he gave me and made it my *name*.

I sign my checks that way. I file income taxes that way. It's on my credit cards!

So he can't act like it's nothing. Okay? I'm freakin' *Megabyte* for him.

"Don't worry, I won't ask for a refund," I tell him. No, I'm not going to comfort him and tell him that it means a lot. If he doesn't know, well, I didn't come here to take care of all his adolescent insecurities. Not my job.

I analyze computers. Not people.

I came here because. Yeah. Because.

"You don't even know why you came here, do you?" he says to me pushing his bottle of Guinness aside. Oh, *now* he decides psychic.

"The whole 'Ruth died' thing has something to do with it," I answer him with a vein of very mean sarcasm. And I feel sorry a second after.

And just to be smart, he gets up and gives me *another* beer.

And just to be smarter, I drink it.

Why, Kevin, are you trying to get me drunk?

"Adam and Ami didn't come," he mentions, again with the 'I'm hurt, but I'm trying not to show it' thing that he's not good at. I give him a shrug.

"You shouldn't have, either," he tells me, like he's gotten an answer to a question that he didn't even ask me. And didn't like it.

"Well, I *did*," I remind him, in case maybe his vision is failing and he didn't see the big Megabyte-shaped person in front of him. Who is clearly *there*, *with him*.


"You just said I didn't know that."

And the apology written all over his face is just too much for a moment. "Didn't mean to make you chase your tail."

He said tail. And no, I don't mean to laugh like a huge big goofball. It just comes out that way.

"But it's kind of fun when you catch it." And he smiles at me, like maybe he loved me very intensely for a moment because I said something really funny. "You're my friend. Just because you don't hang out at the Ship, doesn't mean I forgot. Besides. If one of my family died, you'd show up."

And if he showed up in that suit, then maybe I wouldn't feel so bad, either. Hey, Millicent, could you maybe, I dunno, get hit by a bus? Yeah, so Kevin can come dressed in this sinfully gorgeous suit, with the glasses. I knew I had a sister for a reason.

I can see reality somewhere in the distance. Running away. Quickly.

"We're friends."

The bittersweetness of it hurts. Because I sense hope coming from him. Like he wants to touch. Oh god, it feels like I've been punched, because now he's not even hiding that he's hurt.

Telling myself this is just grief from Ruth is useless. Because I know better.

We're Tomorrow People, it doesn't work that way. We don't get to misunderstand each other, not on *this* deep a level.

"What else would we be?"

I didn't even mean it like that. Or maybe I did, and that thing in me, that *he* woke up is taking over. Part of me is really hoping he'll say that when I walked through that door that something happened. That he didn't forget that we didn't stop, even after he walked away.

Yes, he eleven. I was fourteen.

But then he was sixteen. I was twenty.

Then he was twenty and I was twenty-four.

I keep coming back and he keeps drawing me. That can't be *nothing*.

"I'm tired," he says, rubbing his face. I forget he's had two beers also. And a wake. A funeral. A hundred complicated details. Everyone's fake condolances. "I'll go take all of the junk off the bed in Ruth's bedroom if you want to stay the night. Or the couch. If that makes you uncomfortable. I'm sorry that everything here's such a wreck."

"You want me to?"

"Actually, yes," Kevin says to me, like it kind of surprised him. Like he tried a teaspoon of me to see if he still liked it. And what do you know? He did.

He sort of wobbles when he gets up, takes the glasses off, and starts walking to the back bedroom.

"You don't have to," I stop him. "You've got a queen sized bed in there. Come on. You don't have anything I don't have more of."

He laughs at me. Keeps walking down the hall. I throw the beer bottles away and go into the darkened bedroom. He's on the side of the bed that I usually like, but he's entitled. He's shirtless and already half asleep, I can sense how he's in one of those half-dreams, somewhere between here and sleep.

He's blue and pale in the light from the window and he looks. Beautiful is too little a word. He's Kevin. Broken and bright and he still cares about the small things. And he wants me near him now.

I strip beside the dresser and fold my clothes carefully.

Part of me wants to run my hand down Kevin's arm. Part of me wants to wrap him up in blankets and make this stop happening to *Kevin*.

So carefully, I climb into the bed and press myself against the wall. And hope I won't touch any of Kevin's skin. I shouldn't even think about this, because Kevin is tired and overwrought.

I think about Ruth in the hospital, frail with pale, wrinkling, loose skin like paper. I think about what Kevin must have seen. And the thoughts, they're not a problem.

Those are what I need. And what I need means nothing now.

Kevin needs. That's the only point.

{Kevin,} I say, waking his mind up just for a little. Because I realize I haven't said it. {I'm sorry about Ruth.}

I remember Ruth giving us very bad porridge and how much I liked her. Gratitude comes back to me.

{Thank you for remembering her that way,} he answers me, turning over so we're facing each other. I close my mouth quickly and try not to let my breath catch. Kevin's eyes are open and he's looking at me.

In a way two men shouldn't.

Or should. If they both mean it.

{Megabyte,} Kevin telepaths, like a feather running over my brain. {It's okay, if we touch.}

The shame and the gratitude fight each other. He's doing this for me. This isn't what *he* wants. I need to go, I need to stay. Something is going to have to break. Either I leave. Or.

{I need,} he tells me.

It's permission and I can't turn him down. I reach across the bed and laid my hand on his chest. Warm skin and solidness underneath my hand. Yes. This is *Kevin*. Needing.

He moves in the darkness, his mouth over mine too quickly for me to think that maybe I shouldn't. Shouldn't doesn't exist. Yes, there's need. Need to touch, to know, to make sure that nothing is between us. And he kisses, like he's falling. And doesn't care.

Then he slides back down and this time he's nuzzled somewhere against me. And my hand goes down his arm. I'll wrap him blankets later. His breath winds down until it's deep, and I sense that he's floating into sleep. There's nothing between us but skin.

And that's all that's acceptable right now. Because Kevin needs.

He closes his eyes.

I keep mine open.