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You Can Stop Tumbling

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Say something, I'm giving up on you

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"Aren't we meant to be moving by now?" he asked, plaintively.

"Easy, tiger," she admonished him. "It'll spoil the results if we start early. They know how we screw in Earth gravity."

"Just one of you?" he asked, hopefully. "As a control group? We could do one still on Earth, one during the launch, one up in zero-g, and one on the way back down… although maybe a couple in orbit, it's going to be a long time, and the way down's fairly similar and there won't be time to actually reproduce…"

"Good Lord," prayed another lizard fervently, "please let the rocket take off soon so we can be underway, and I won't have to listen to this bastard whine about his amazing position or make any more 'scientific' plans."

"But you're stuck with me for the mission duration," he pointed out, "and the whole success of the mission requires us to fornicate liberally."

"When we're in space, dickhead," the third female insisted, "not while we're still on the ground."

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I'll be the one, if you want me to

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As the rockets finally ignited, she dragged herself determinedly towards him through the hideous crush of fierce acceleration.

"I'll be the one in launch," she wheezed, "if you still think you're up for it."

"They chose me to be up for it," he managed to exhale, "I'm always up for it."

Fighting against gravity and time, she slithered agonisingly slowly towards him; she might be the fourth female, but she was closest and would be the first to have him, and he would be all hers alone for the duration of the launch!

He cannot lift his tail up under such pressure, but she slides hers beneath it and levers it up millimeter by painful millimeter until she can shuffle awkwardly into position.

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Anywhere I would've followed you

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Utterly exhausted and spent, he lay motionless for a long time after gravity finally relented.

She was in little better state, having done most of the hard work of getting into position, but her triumph buoyed her up.

"I'd have had you even if you hadn't been a specially chosen space sex gecko," she murmured at his unresponsive body.

The other females were eyeing her with a strange mixture of contempt and jealousy - when they weren't throwing up in the corner from the weird new sensations of zero gravity, or laughing at the antics of the confused and directionless fruit flies.

"Don't worry," she told them, as she drifted lazily by. "He's all yours now, ladies; anything else would ruin the experiment."

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Say something, I'm giving up on you

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It isn't until the second day of unresponsiveness that the other females start to worry about the sole male.

Two out of three have become quite adept at navigating their environment, pushing off against the sides of the enclosure in expertly calculated trajectories. One gently bumps into him, gradually bearing him down to what used to be the ground.

Another brings an offering of a half-chewed fruit fly, and the third brings over some mushroom; she hasn't quite got the hang of it and still scuttles along the walls and floor, clinging on by her tiny foot-hairs to defy the bizarre floating void.

His original lover has barely left the void at all; after all, the fruit flies are plentiful there and there is no real need for solid ground.

But despite licking his eyes and toes, he remains unresponsive.

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And I am feeling so small
It was over my head
I know nothing at all

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Eventually, the ground-walker is persistent enough to lever open his mouth and get some mushroom inside, and the taste prompts some kind of reflexive swallowing; a few more doses and a determined campaign to drag him into the brightest spot under the UV lamps, and he begins to stir again.

For a time, the space geckos are happy. The three remaining females are serviced; the light is bright and the flies and mushrooms plentiful; water continues to be provided, predators are mysteriously absent, and life is good.

Then… the lazy fourth gecko, the original lover, opens her eyes wide and exclaims:

"Can anyone else hear that?"

The others listen, but there is nothing.

"Hear what?" asks the most competent flier.

"Exactly," replies the original lover, with triumph and concern mingled together. "It's stopped. That background hum? It's stopped."

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And I will stumble and fall
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl

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The two fliers were the first to stop and huddle around him; for a time they had not noticed the temperature gradually decreasing, but there was undeniably something wrong, something that made them sluggish and clumsy like the confused flies they had mocked on that first day.

And they did not recognise at first that it was the warmth, but there was something very comforting about the feeling of scaly skin on scaly skin, even if they had been jealous competitors a few short days ago.

"I wonder if they can see us," the one who had brought him flies murmured. "I wonder if they can see us huddling together, and wonder what's wrong."

"I hope they can see us," replied the best flier. "If they can see us, maybe they can work out what's wrong. Maybe they can fix it - or bring us home early…"

"Come on," the fly-catcher called out to the other two, "come down here where it's warm."

The climber began to scramble over, but her numb feet missed their mark and she began to tumble helplessly, end over end.

"Help me!" she cried. "Rescue me!"

But neither of the fliers wanted to untangle themselves.

"Just bump into the next surface," one of them called.

"I'm scared!" cried the tumbling gecko. "How do you exist out here? It doesn't make any sense!"

"You can stop tumbling by making yourself long, rather than round," the other advised. "I know it's cold out there, but it will stop you spinning out of control…"

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And I will swallow my pride
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye

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At last, three female geckos were wrapped around the male; but the original lover was still floating in the midst of the enclosure.

"I know you don't like us much," one of the females on the 'ground' tried, "but you'll freeze to death up there on your own."

"We'll all freeze," she replied, meditatively, "but I will freeze alone. I will be different."

"You'll freeze first," another female warned her, "and we'll all freeze faster."

"And they might still rescue us," piped up the third, the climber. "They're watching us, remember. They must know that something is wrong by now."

Struggling to poke his head out from under his three companions, the male, who had been quiet and subdued between mating sessions now that he was so thoroughly sated, finally spoke.

"Come here," he pleaded. "Don't do it for the others - do it for me. Do it for our children."

"I don't think we're having children," she replied, looking sadly over at the pile of eggs in the corner that would never have the warmth to hatch; but she flexed slowly against the air, the cold making her sluggish, until she could push off against a buzzing fly and let the motion take her down to the huddled group of lizards.

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Say something, I'm giving up on you
Say something...

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"Look," she said, with the slurred determination of an extremely cold lizard. "The fruit flies have eggs..."