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Tokioka never took advantage of him. He was a doctor, Grave a patient, and Tokioka's interventions with his body stopped with the necessity of maintaining his functioning.

Of course, with a scientific eye, he found Grave beautiful. He'd poured the sum of two decades of labor into the resurrection of Brandon Heat. Grave was beyond necrolyzed: stronger, faster, more durable. Human. When he awoke, his mind would still be human--that was the most magnificent achievement. And so, because Grave was still a human being, Tokioka naturally treated his body with respect--even though Grave wouldn't know one way or another, even though there'd be no real consequence...

Sometimes he reminded himself of Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Nôtre Dame. He had already condemned himself to hell. He had sinned beyond redemption, so what did it matter if he sinned even more? But it did matter.


In the beginning, Grave had been naked, like all new lives. Like all necrolyzed corpses in vats. It just made scientific sense to be able to see the cadaver.

The Gay Cowboy had been a joke at first--not at Grave, at Tokioka himself. He'd been in a dark mood. "I'm a maker of clowns," he'd told himself. "I might as well dress my creations for the part." The whole thing, after all, was absurd: resurrecting monsters who shot people who could be made into new monsters to shoot people. What was all that if not one giant joke?

Brandon, when he'd first approached Tokioka, had been impressively systematic. They'd discussed in detail how to hide him, when to wake him, how to put him down if he woke and his mind was gone. The bank accounts were so well aliased that even MacDowell never laid hands on them. They'd even talked about clothes.

"If you wake me," Brandon had said, "I'll need something easy to move in." And he'd given Tokioka his measurements (as if Tokioka were incapable of measuring him) and produced a list of items: shoes, trousers, a couple of shirts, a coat-- unimaginative and brownish. True to his word, Tokioka had bought them. They still sat shelved and hangered in the van, musty but otherwise none the worse for time.

Tokioka had spotted the Gay Cowboy in a costume store one Halloween. (He himself liked to don his vampire makeup on Halloween; why shouldn't he? No one was there to care.) He spotted the suit and it judged it to be about Grave's size. So they could both dress up. Why shouldn't they? Grave wouldn't know.


"Grave" had started as a code name while Tokioka was still working for MacDowell. He'd used it to designate his personal embellishments to the basic procedure. The name "Grave" raised no eyebrows; they all traded in death.

But you couldn't go around calling somebody "Grave." Well, you could but... it seemed a mark of disrespect to name such a work of scientific art after a hole in the ground. It was equally wrong to think of this slumbering statue as "Brandon Heat." That life was over. This was a new creation, beyond its former life, beyond all former experiments, "Beyond the Grave." Why the hell not?

Of course, it wasn't much of a name, but then, Brandon hadn't come to him to win back much a life. It was descriptive, as bionomial nomenclature should be. Once Tokioka had tried to figure out what it would be in Latin, but he gave up; he'd never been much of a wordsmith.


Of course, Grave couldn't stay in the Gay Cowboy all the time. It tended to pick up damp and needed fluff drying. And Tokioka was a doctor with legitimate reason for having visual access to his specimen's patient's body. But he touched him with a studied professionalism, like a nurse, like a physician who needs to palpitate tissues to gauge their soundness.

He found necrolyzed bodies, in general, grotesque. But Grave was his magnum opus, his skin cool and solid, almost like wood, his shape still exquisitely proportioned, a heightened image of humanity, like the most meticulous of mannikins, down to the very hairs on his thighs.

He was very, very beautiful, like the Venus de Milo, the more so for being broken. His blasted eye socket; his cratered, resown chest: these in themselves were works of art, like the tracks of the sculptor's chisel. Sometimes Tokioka would sit in the van and pour over every inch of him. Why not? There was nothing else to do. But that was all he did, just looking.


Sometimes sanity demanded Tokioka put Grave in the Gay Cowboy. It blunted his contours. It shaded him when Tokioka couldn't bear to stare into his light. And when he pulled the hat down almost over Grave's eye, he couldn't see that slack face not seeing him. He could imagine, almost, a living man sitting opposite him, exuding a human demand for space. And even though that demand was an illusion, Tokioka honored it.