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    Thorn Wilde
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Cyberpunk 2077 in the property of CD Projekt Red. The characters and locations in this story are for the most part not mine.

Metanoia - 5. Archangel

For readers unfamiliar with the game, there's a time skip between the last chapter and this, in which V breaks into this heavily fortified place with the help of a Nomad family called the Aldecaldos, to access a server that holds constructs like Johnny. He uploads an AI called Alt (who used to be a person, long story) who then helps separate V and Johnny. V tells Kerry about the rest in the chapter.

I wake up in my own bed, for the first time in days. Nibbles is sitting on my chest, staring at me and demanding food. I pet her, glad she’s here; it’s so quiet. I’d forgotten what quiet was like.

Panam dragged me out of Arasaka two days ago. We went back to the clan. Most survived, though losses were way too heavy. Mitch is alive, but barely. Basilisk fried his neurons pretty bad. We found a new place to camp, set up triage for the wounded. Gonna be a while before the Aldecaldos can head off again, as was the plan. A few weeks, maybe. There wasn’t much more I could do for them, so I went home.

Last night, I texted Kerry. Didn’t tell him much, just that I was back home and I’d come see him today. His reply was, Nova. Can’t wait, followed by a smiley face and a heart. He always seems to take everything so lightly . . . Still, I wanna see him so bad it hurts.

I get out of bed, feed Nibbles, and go take a shower. It’s eleven in the morning. I must have slept like the dead. When I get out of the shower and look in the mirror, I half expect to see Johnny looking back at me, like he sometimes did. But it’s just me; my own stupid face. No Johnny. Not anymore.

It’s a nice day, sunny and warm, so I get dressed in a tank top, jeans, and sneakers. Then I kiss Nibbles goodbye and leave the building. My bike’s downstairs in the garage, and I hop on it and head for North Oak.

Gonna see Kerry. I’m excited, like a kid at Christmas. Johnny would make fun of me right about now. In that strangely affectionate way he always acts when it comes to me and Kerry. The feigned annoyance when really he’s happy for us.

Was happy for us. Not is. Fuck . . . I push the thought of Johnny from my mind, focus on the road. I feel like I’ve ridden this way a hundred times. I practically go on autopilot, and before I know it I’m going up the driveway, parking my bike next to the Rayfield like always. I look through the window, but he’s not in the living room, so I head for the front door.

He must have heard me coming, because when I enter, there he is, facing the door, just a few feet in front of me. I come to a complete standstill for a moment, stare at him, take him in. He looks the same, which shouldn’t surprise me, but even though it’s only been a few days, it feels like a lifetime.

‘V,’ he says softly.

‘Ker,’ I say in response, my voice almost breaking. I don’t know which one of us takes the remaining steps separating us, but a moment later we’re in each other’s arms, locked in a tight embrace.

‘God, it’s so good to see you,’ Kerry murmurs against my neck. ‘I didn’t know if . . .’

‘Yeah. I . . . should’ve called, but I didn’t know what to say. How to tell you about everythin’ that’s happened.’

‘It’s okay,’ he says, pulling back and looking into my eyes. ‘We’ve got time.’ He takes my face in his hands, just looks at me for a bit, smiling. Then he pulls me close and kisses me, and everything’s right with the world for a little while.

It doesn’t take long for the kiss to deepen. Doesn’t take long before I’m panting into his mouth, everything forgotten except how much I want him. The feeling appears to be mutual, because he takes my hand and drags me upstairs. We don’t speak. Kerry rids me of my clothes and gets out of his own (somewhere it registers that he was wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants), then pulls me close again, pressing us tightly together, chest to chest. His cock is hard against my thigh. I let him take charge. Let him kiss me, bite my throat, lick my nipples. Let him push me down onto the bed on my back. He fingers me while we kiss, until I’m quivering with need, soaking wet and moaning into his mouth. Then he lines up his cock and slides into me with a soft grunt.

He takes my hand, laces our fingers together and presses it down into the mattress. His other hand is holding onto my thigh. He buries his face in the crook of my neck and whispers, ‘Fuck, I missed you!’

I laugh softly. ‘Gettin’ sentimental, old man? Only been five days.’

‘Fuck you,’ he mumbles.

‘That is what you’re doing.’

Now he laughs too. Kisses my throat, then gently bites down. ‘Don’t be a wise-ass, kid.’

I hold onto his shoulders with my free arm and kiss his temple. ‘I missed you too,’ I whisper. Then he slams into me so hard I see stars and I throw my head back with a groan. ‘Fuck . . . missed this . . . Wanted you so bad, Ker . . .’

He kisses me again. ‘Need you, V . . . Fuck, I just—’ He cuts himself off by kissing me again, before he once again presses his forehead to my shoulder, panting with every thrust. I slide my fingers into his hair. Keep holding on. It’s all I can do.

The rest of the world slips away. I allow myself to think only of this. To feel only this. Kerry’s cock inside me, his hand in mine, his fingers digging into my thigh, his teeth at my throat. Everything else can wait.

He doesn’t last long, and I honestly don’t expect him to. When he comes, he lets go of my hand and reaches down between us, jerking me off while we kiss until I fall apart, shaking and moaning.

‘That’s it,’ he murmurs. ‘Come for me, babe . . .’

‘Ah! Fuck . . . Stop, I can’t—’ I grit my teeth as the aftershocks of my orgasm shake me. Kerry takes his hand away, rolls off me onto his back, and pulls me into his arms.

‘I’m so glad you’re here, Vincent.’ He kisses the top of my head. ‘I . . . didn’t know if I’d . . . if we’d . . .’ He makes a frustrated noise and falls silent. Feelings are not Kerry Eurodyne’s strong suit.

‘I know,’ I say. ‘I didn’t either.’

It feels so good, just lying in his arms like this. He rubs slow circles into my shoulder with his thumb. ‘So . . . what happened to you?’

I sigh. ‘I called in a favour, from the Aldecaldos. My friend, Panam, she cooked up a plan with Saul, their leader. Former leader. They were sharing the responsibility, but . . . Saul didn’t survive.’

Kerry holds me tighter. ‘I’m sorry, V.’

‘Yeah. He’s not the only one who didn’t come out of it alive, but losses weren’t as heavy as they could’ve been. Grateful for that.’

‘So what was the plan?’

‘We tunnelled into Arasaka Tower to get to an access point to Mikoshi. Only had to do a little bit of fighting once we were in, in the end.’

‘You put my piece to good use?’ he asks, and I smile up at him crookedly.

‘Shot Adam Smasher in the face with it, actually.’

He looks at me, both eyebrows raised. ‘Smasher? No shit . . . Good riddance.’

‘Yeah . . . Once we’d dealt with him, I jacked in and . . .’ I shake my head. ‘Can’t really describe it. Short version is, Johnny’s gone behind the Blackwall and I got my body all to myself again.’

‘You’ll have to tell me the long version later.’

‘Mhm . . .’ I kiss Kerry’s chest, wondering how to phrase the next part. I don’t want to say it, because that’ll make it true, but I know I have to, and it needs to be now. ‘But there is another thing you should know.’

‘Oh?’

I sigh. ‘The whole thing worked, Johnny and I were separated, but . . . this body, it’s still . . .’ I wet my lips with my tongue. ‘My body’s still dyin’, Kerry.’

‘What?’ He pulls away, looks at me, and I shut my eyes because there’s emotion there, on his face, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.

‘I got six months left. Little more, maybe, I manage shit right. Still . . . that’s six months I didn’t have a week ago.’ Kerry’s silent. I look at him again and find him working his jaw, staring at the ceiling. ‘I’m sorry,’ I tell him. ‘Not what you wanted to hear, I bet.’

Kerry sighs. ‘Guess I was hoping . . .’

‘That everythin’ would be fine? Me too, Ker. Guess life just ain’t fair.’

‘Well,’ he holds me tighter still, ‘whatever happens next, I’m . . . I’m glad I got to see you again. I’m glad you came back to—’ He cuts himself off again, biting his lip.

I take a deep breath. ‘I’m gonna try and fix it. The Aldecaldos, they know people. Thought I might hit the road with ’em for a while, see if we can find someone who can help. They, uh . . . Heh, they kind of adopted me.’

‘So . . . you’re leaving?’ Kerry’s tone gives nothing away.

‘I . . . I don’t want to. I don’t wanna leave . . .’ I’m not sure if I should say it. But in the end, I opt for honesty. ‘I don’t wanna leave you, Ker. I . . . I wanna be with you. I don’t usually fall in love easy—’ I close my mouth, realising what I just said and wondering if I’ve been too honest.

But Kerry kisses my forehead softly. ‘I wanna be with you too, kid. We’ll figure something out, okay?’

#

I spend all day at Kerry’s. We watch TV and talk about stupid, mundane shit. We order some takeout, and it all feels practically domestic, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever experience. We go to bed early, and while I’m brushing my teeth (yeah, I have a toothbrush here now; again, domestic), Kerry comes up behind me and places a box on the corner of the sink.

‘Kept it safe for ya.’ He grins—I see it in the mirror—and I spit out the toothpaste and laugh.

‘Thanks, Ker.’ I rinse out my mouth, then turn to him, putting my arms around his neck. ‘Want me to wear it?’

‘Fuck yeah, I want you to wear it. Need you to fuck me into the mattress, V. Like, right now.’

And how can I say no to that? I attach my cybernetic packer and then take him to bed. He gets on his stomach and I eat him out. Then I hold him down, biting the back of his neck possessively as I fuck him. It’s gonna bruise. What we did earlier today was slow, almost gentle. Loving. An outpouring of emotion, releasing days worth of longing and yearning. This is hard and desperate, a different kind of release.

‘Really wish I had a real dick sometimes,’ I whisper into his ear. ‘So when I come I could fill you up, watch my cum drip out of you after. Own you like you own me.’

Kerry groans at that. ‘Fuck yeah . . . but . . . it doesn’t matter. You own me already. No one’s . . . I swear, it’s never felt this good . . . Ah, fuck! Kiss me, V!’

I do, and he moans into my mouth, his body tightening, hips bucking, and I realise he’s coming just from the friction against the sheets underneath us. I feel his ass contract, and my own orgasm follows his in quick succession. ‘Shit, Ker . . .’ I come to a halt, kissing the back of his neck where my teeth left a purple bruise. I almost say it then, but I know it’s too soon. Know it’s just the release of post-coital hormones into my brain that make me feel this sappy and sentimental. Right after sex is the worst possible time to say it, because it might not be true, and once it’s said you can’t take it back.

I pull out, lie down on my side and stroke his back. He rolls over too, back against my chest so I can spoon him.

Instead of letting out all the stupid sentimental shit in my brain, I ask him, ‘Did you mean that?’

Kerry makes a satisfied noise. ‘Hm? Mean what?’

‘That no one’s ever made you feel this good.’

‘Hmm . . . not actually what I said, you know.’

‘Yeah, but you started to say it. It’s what you meant. I’m not totally fluent in Eurodyne yet, but I’m definitely conversational.’

Kerry laughs. ‘You’re gettin’ there, V.’ He lets out a slow breath. ‘Yeah, I meant it. Prolly that silicone cock of yours. Just fits right, I guess.’

I snort. ‘Sure, Kerry. That’s prolly it.’ I kiss his shoulder, then yawn.

‘You need sleep,’ he says, and turns around so he’s facing me. He strokes my cheek, then kisses my lips. ‘Get some rest, V. I’m gonna get up, compose for a bit, but I’ll be close by, okay?’

‘Okay,’ I murmur sleepily. ‘Go make some music, Ker.’ I’m asleep before he’s even sat up.

#

At two in the morning, I wake up sweating and shaking and feeling sick. Kerry gently shook me awake, and now he’s staring at me with a look of concern. ‘You okay, V?’

I take a deep breath, trying to calm my racing heart. I think I’ve managed, and I say, ‘Yeah. I’m . . . I’m fine.’ But then I burst into tears, burying my face in the pillow in shame. What am I, a child? Waking up from a nightmare and crying like a baby? Great impression I’m making.

But Kerry pulls me into his arms. ‘Hey, it’s okay. You’re okay now, I got you.’ He strokes my back, kisses the top of my head. ‘Everything’s all right.’ For someone who has such a hard time with emotions at the best of times, Kerry’s surprisingly adept at dealing with mine when it really counts.

‘Christ, I’m sorry . . .’ I sniff, trying not to get snot on his bare chest because that’s just rude. ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me, fuck . . .’ But that’s a lie. I know exactly what’s wrong with me. For now, though, I let myself be comforted. I allow Kerry to rub the shaved sides of my head, whisper reassurances, and finally I calm enough to pull away and kiss him. ‘Thanks.’

‘Hey, don’t worry about it. Did you, ah . . . was it a bad dream, or . . . ?’

I nod. ‘You could say that.’ I let out a shaky sigh. ‘Fuck . . . it felt so real, y’know?’

‘Wanna tell me about it?’

I sit up, pulling my knees up to my chest. He remains lying on his back, looking up at me and stroking my lower back reassuringly. ‘It was about Mikoshi. Not, uh . . . not how it actually went down, just . . .’ I bite my lip. ‘I need to tell you somethin’, Ker.’

‘Anything.’

I give a short, humourless laugh. I’m scared. Scared of how he’ll take this, because in a way, it’s like I murdered his best friend. Or that’s how it feels to me, anyway. ‘Right. Well . . . back in Mikoshi, I had a choice. I could go back in my body, send Johnny beyond the Blackwall, and live for six months, or . . . I could go beyond the Blackwall myself, give my body to Johnny, and he could live out a full, natural life.’

Kerry frowns. ‘What . . . how?’

‘The biochip, it rewrote my neurons, then attacked my body, making it . . . compatible with Johnny’s engram but not with mine. So . . . Johnny could have lived, while I can’t.’ I feel the tears start again, silent this time. They drip off the end of my nose onto my bare arms. ‘He . . . he told me to go, to live my six months and make the most of it. But . . . I dunno if I made the right choice. In my dream, he was angry. Pissed off that I wouldn’t let him have it. Hurt, because I said . . . I told him, a while back, I’d let him have my body if worse came to worst. I feel like I betrayed him, like . . . like I killed him.’

Kerry sits, putting an arm around my shoulders. ‘Hey. Vincent, look at me.’ And it’s probably the use of my real name that makes me comply. ‘Listen to me. You didn’t betray Johnny. You made the right choice. Body wasn’t his. Hell, he’s been dead for over fifty years. Much as that thing in your head felt like Johnny, was Johnny . . . it also wasn’t. It was a memory. An engram.’

‘Technically, so am I now.’ It’s scary to voice it out loud. ‘I got blasted with Soulkiller when I went in there, then my engram got written back onto the Relic. If Johnny wasn’t real . . . am I?’

Kerry blows out a heavy breath of air and shakes his head. ‘Listen . . . I don’t know much about science and shit. I’m just a gonk musician. But . . . Khian, my guru, he says . . . He says, we’re not our bodies or our minds alone. We’re made up of both. That’s our earthly existence, that’s what’s real. You are your mind right now, in your body. Whether that mind is stored on a chip or in a ’ganic brain, seems to me that don’t matter. You’re you, Vincent. You’re V. And that’s who you are to everyone around you. To me. Going into Mikoshi, did it change how you feel? About your friends, about . . . about me?’

I shake my head slowly. ‘No. I feel different about me, though.’

‘I don’t think anyone could go through that and come out of it not feeling differently about themselves,’ he says. ‘But you still feel. Couldn’t’ve fucked me like you did earlier if you didn’t.’ He smirks.

It’s true. My body still feels like it’s mine. I have all the same sensory inputs and perceptions. Everything feels real. When I look in the mirror, I see myself the way I’ve always been, other than the couple of months I spent sharing my body with Johnny. I meet Kerry’s eye and nod. ‘Yeah.’ I smile. ‘I’m . . . this feels like me.’

‘Then it is you. You’re a whole being. So you may only get to live for six months. But like you said, that’s six months longer than last week. And I’m glad it was you who came back. My Johnny’s dead, and I made my peace with that a long time ago. My V, though? He’s alive! He’s real. And he’s right here. Right where he’s supposed to be.’

I smile through the tears that are still running down my cheeks. ‘I . . . still miss him, though. It’s like a part of me is just . . . gone.’

‘I know how you feel, believe it or not. He might not have been in my head in the literal sense, but . . . take it from me, and everyone else who knew him: he was an asshole, but it takes a long time to get over Johnny Silverhand.’

He kisses me again. Then we lie down together, and he holds me. Unprompted, he sings to me—the song he played for me on the boat, with some words this time, though I don’t really pick up on their meaning—until the tears stop and I drift off to sleep again.

Archangel is the name of a song by Samurai that exists within the game but was never recorded in its entirety. If you look up the love scene with Kerry on YouTube, it plays in the background. It's also the name of Kerry's revolver, which my V went through Arasaka using. One of my favourite guns in the game. I like revolvers.

Copyright © 2021 Thorn Wilde; All Rights Reserved.

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