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Trowa couldn't remember if there ever was a time when he was sure he was awake.

Well, maybe that was an exaggeration. After all, the pain that just shot through his head -- like a blunt knife jammed into the base of his skull -- was probably real enough. But even so, the source felt unearthly, unworldly ... like the System, when it'd sunk its tendrils into his thoughts.

Heero said that was what happened, that is.

It wasn't as if Trowa remembered that himself.

Woolgathering ...

Time to pay attention, awake or no. The machine wasn't going to code itself. Muttering under his breath, Trowa readjusted the smooth metal horseshoe of the transmitter that clung to his temple and flicked the lenses free. His monitor's screen reflected back the transmitter's twinkle of tiny lights as it came to life --

Instantly the chaos in his thoughts subsided in a sea of soft, wordless feedback.

Much better. Much clearer. Much easier to think now.

I don't remember, but part of me still reacts.

Curious ...

I'd bet I'd make an excellent subject for a case study.

That didn't get the work done, though, and the code wasn't about to write itself. A whisper of a smile flickered across Trowa's face and he hunched over the keyboard, narrow fingers flying over the device as he set to work.

It wasn't anything like a real firefight, but code-crunching had its own appeal, scorching network interlopers was vaguely productive, and it helped him focus, so it worked out well enough as a post-conflict 'profession' of sorts. Kept him out of sight, also, which was its own benefit ...

A pang of mild guilt over that particular rambling thought tangled itself up in the code and the phantom moire-patterns he was already seeing on the edge of his vision.

Need to write to Catherine when this stint's finished. I should've done that earlier.

Well, it couldn't be helped. Yesterday was ... complicated. The week previous, even worse. At least, Trowa thought it was a week; sometimes he wasn't so sure. More System side-effects.

Oh well. I manage, she'll manage.

... He was losing focus again already. Damn it. With barely a skip in his rhythm he reached up, tapped the transmitter's control studs in a practiced reflex, and briefly wondered -- again -- whether he should just have the thing implanted directly.

Letting machinery in would be like letting the System in ...


It worked for Heero, didn't it?