Memory reminds us who we are.
(Note: Though this is a sequel of sorts, it is not necessary to have read the first one.)

"Will you love me forever?" June said.

"Kazuhiro, will you love me forever?"

"Will you? Kazuhiro? Kazuhiro?"


Kazuhiro opened his eyes. The soldiers guarding the door were staring. One snapped his fingers in Kazuhiro's face.

"Lieutenant," he said, "are you okay?"

Kazuhiro pushed the man's hand away. "I'm fine. I think I dozed off for a second."

"They're ready to see you now," said the other soldier.

Kazuhiro smoothed out the wrinkles in his dress uniform, nodded to both of the men, and went into the room. It was very bright inside, and for a second he was dazzled. When the spots faded from his eyes, he saw that he was not in a normal office. The room was bare except for a table, two chairs, and a mirror.

He looked at the person seated in one of the chairs, and then he realized that it was not a person at all. It was a Tribunal.

"Will you love me forever?" June said.

"Always," said Kazuhiro.

He kissed her. She kissed him back. This went on for a long time, as they stood in the doorway of the little hotel room. When they broke off, he was panting, and June laughed, then blushed, then took him by the hand and pulled him inside.

"Come on," she said, smiling. "Come on, come on!"

The door closed behind them.

Kazuhiro's jaw dropped. This was an interrogation room. There must be some kind of mistake?

"Hello?" he said.

The Tribunal turned on. It's metal fingers began to movie, and its polished steel limbs sat up straight, and the three little red lights that stood in for its eyes (indicator lights of its built-in surveillance cameras) winked on. Kazuhiro heard servos whine as it gestured to the chair opposite it.

"Welcome, Lt. Yamaji. Have a seat."

Kazuhiro kept standing. The Tribunal clicked its metal fingers together.

"I think there's been some kind of mistake," said Kazuhiro.

"No mistake," said the Tribunal. "We're going to ask you some questions. We expect your full cooperation."

"Am I on trial?" he said. "Have I been accused of something?"

"Has anyone told you that you are?" said the Tribunal.

"No," said Kazuhiro, "but that's what a Tribunal is for. For questioning criminals."

"Yes," said the Tribunal. Its mechanical voice sounded like old-fashioned recording tape being stretched out. "You are correct."

"So I'll ask again-"

"No Lt. Yamaji, we ask the questions here. You are not in charge right now. You do understand that, don't you?"

For a second Kazuhiro was too angry to speak. Finally he said: "Yes. I understand."

"Good. Then we'll ask you again: please, have a seat. We have work to do."

June locked the door. Kazuhiro was taking off his shoes when she threw herself against him, almost knocking him over. She huddled against his chest, and he put his arms around her.

"Hey," he said, "it's okay."

"I just wanted to makes sure that you're real," said June. "That this is really happening." She hugged him tighter. "This is really happening, right?"

"Of course," said Kazuhiro.

"It's just so hard to believe that something that could make me this happy isn't a dream," she said.

"Maybe it's mine? How can we know?"

She kissed him again. "Did that feel real?"

Kazuhiro waited for the room to stop spinning. "Oh yes," he said. "Very real."

She smiled. "How much more real do you want?" she said, taking him to the bed.

"Lieutenant Yamaji? Lieutenant?"

Kazuhiro opened his eyes. Dreaming again? He hadn't slept in over forty hours, ever since reporting in. He kept drifting off into a dream about that night in the hotel, after the wedding.

"I'm sorry," he said, clearing his throat. "What were we saying?"

"We were reminding you," said the Tribunal, "of your place. You are a valuable asset, Lt. Yamaji, but you are just an asset. You get your orders, and you follow them. Right now your orders are to be in this room talking with us."

"Where is my controller?" he said. "I'm supposed to report in to my controller after coming in from the field. That's protocol."

"Protocol can change," said the Tribunal. "We trust that you don't have a problem with that?"

Kazuhiro licked his lips. The room seemed very small all of a sudden. He wanted to leave, right that second.

"I want to see my wife," he said.

The Tribunal didn't answer. Its cameras whined. It flexed its metal fingers.

"Did you hear me? I want to speak with my wife. Someone take me to see her, right now."

"Why?" said the Tribunal.

"Am I under arrest? If I am, then I have the right to contact one person."

"You haven't been charged with anything, yet," said the Tribunal.

"Then why am I here?"

"To answer some questions," said the Tribunal.

Kazuhiro swore. He realized his eyes were closing and tried to stop them. Whenever he closed his eyes, he saw June. He could almost hear her voice...

June put her arms around his neck, smiling, laughing, spinning in circles.

"Kazuhiro, I'm so happy," she said.

"Me too."

She looked very serious. "Are you? Are you really?"

"Of course." He touched her cheek.

"I wonder, sometimes, if I can ever really make you happy."

"You have," he said. "I'm the happiest man in the world, starting right now."

She blushed. "Say it again?" she said.

"I'm the happiest man in the world."

She hugged him tighter. "Say it again, Kazuhiro? Please? Say it again-"

"You need to be debriefed," said the Tribunal.

"I've been debriefed," said Kazuhiro. He was sweating now. The lights were hot, and his uniform was confining.

"You need to be debriefed again."


"Procedure," said the Tribunal. Kazuhiro hated talking to machines. They were impossible to read.

"Why am I being treated like a criminal?" he said.

"We could ask you the same question," said the Tribunal.

"What do you mean?"

"Just what we said. What reason do we have for treating you this way? Can you think of a reason, Lieutenant? Can you share it with us?"

Kazuhiro gritted his teeth. "I haven't done anything wrong. I just finished a six month field deployment. I reported in, as I'm supposed to. I have nothing to hide."

"If you have nothing to hide, then you have no reason not to want to talk to us," said the Tribunal. "Just tell us everything. That's all we want, Lieutenant, everything. All the details, from the beginning. You can do that, can't you?"

June was wearing the lilac perfume he bought her. It made him light-headed.

"Come to bed, Kazuhiro," she said.

The hotel was small and out of the way. He'd picked something nicer, but June said that the hotel didn't matter as long as it was private.

"All that matters is you," she said. "Any bed, anywhere, I don't care, as long as you're in it."

Kazuhiro kissed June's lips, and cheeks, and neck. He kissed the folds of her ears and the plane of her forehead, and kissed each of her eyelids. He laughed when her eyelashes tickled his lips.

"Kazuhiro," she said, breaking away and looking down, "it's not my first time."

"I don't care," he said. He touched her hand.

She looked up again. "I'll make it like it was. When I think back to my first, I won't remember that other man, I'll remember you, my husband. My husband, on our wedding night," she said.

"You can' t change the past," he said. "But I don't care what's happened before. I just care about now."

"The past six months. Your field assignment. Tell us about it." said the Tribunal.

Kazuhiro was getting a headache right behind his eyes. The glare of the lights off of the Tribunal's metal body was painful to look at.

"I want to see my wife," said Kazuhiro. "Let me talk to her for a minute and I'll answer any questions you want."

"Your wife?" said the Tribunal. Servos whined as it moved in its seat.

"Yes," said Kazuhiro. "For the last time, I want to speak with my wife. Right now."

"Why do you feel that this is more important than your debriefing?" said the Tribunal.

"She's been waiting for me. Six months is a long time. We were only married the day before I was deployed. It''s important, that's all. Just let me talk to her. Even a minute will do."

The Tribunal said nothing. Its face was a blank slate with camera lights for eyes. There was no way to tell what was going on inside of it.

June untied the bridal kimono (an heirloom, originally worn by his great grandmother) and slipped out of it. She took the pins from her hair, letting her yellow tresses spill down. She looked over her shoulder at him, then laid down, and turned over, revealing her white, naked body.

He undressed in silence. She had suggested that he wear his uniform for the wedding, but he said no. The suit he wore instead barely fit him. He'd never needed it until now.

He sat on the bed. She touched three fingers to his collarbone, tracing lines down his naked chest. Now and then she touched a scar. Her fingertips were hot. He caught her hand and kissed it. She stroked his cheek. He kissed her palm. She said-

"You were saying, Lieutenant? About your wife?"

Eyes open. "Her name is June Amory. Information on how to contact her should be in my dossier."

"Are you sure she would like to be contacted?"

Kazuhiro made a rude hand gesture. "Your amateur head games aren't going to work on me."

Jesus it's hot in here, he thought.

"Cooperate, and we'll get you whoever you want, Lieutenant," it said.

Kazuhiro was having trouble staying in the present. Memories crowded out everything. The Tribunal's eyes recorded his every move.

"I'm not sure I can even help you now," he said. "I'm a wreck. I need sleep."

"Start from the beginning," said the Tribunal. "It will help."

"The beginning?" said Kazuhiro. What was the beginning? The beginning was-

Kazuhiro cradled June's naked body. She was soft and delicate. He thought if he squeezed too tightly she might somehow disappear. Then she bit his lip as she kissed him. He was surprised. She giggled.

"Kazuhiro, will you love me forever?" she said.

He paused.

"Will you love me forever, Kazuhiro?" she repeated.

"Always," he said. There were tears in his eyes.

She kissed him again, and opened her legs, wrapping them around his waist, embracing him with her whole body. His tongue passed into her mouth, her breath mingling with his. She felt hotter. Her nails grazed his bare shoulders.

"Will you love me forever?" she said.

"Always," he said, and he kissed her again, and again, and again...

Kazuhiro wiped the sweat from his brow.

"Start from the beginning," said the Tribunal, again.

"My name is Kazuhiro Yamaji," he recited. "I am a Vega-class internal security agent. My rank is Second Lieutenant. My specialty is infiltration. My call number is 2501."

"Recognized," said the Tribunal.

Kazuhiro sighed. He hated this protocol bullshit. "Six months ago I went into the field."

"Who chose you for this assignment?"

"My controller."

"And who is that?"

Kazuhiro shook his head. "I don't know. It's secret. Protocol. But you know that. How about not wasting any more of my time than we have to?"

The Tribunal only nodded. "Proceed," it said.

"Six months ago, I went into the field-"


Kazuhiro pressed his mouth to June's throat. He tickled her with the tip of his tongue. She laughed. "Stop that!" she said again, swatting him.

"Do you really want me to?"

"No..." she said, dragging her nails down his back.

He parted his lips against the spot where her neck curved into her collarbone, running the tip of his tongue in a circle on her bare skin. She shivered. He held her tighter. She ran her fingers through his hair.

"Kazuhiro," she said, "I've been waiting for this for so long."

He kissed her collarbone, and her bare shoulder, and the soft roundness of her naked arm. Her bare breasts pressed against his chest, and he felt her hardened nipples. They were even hotter than the rest of her.

Her breasts were perfect little handfuls, curved and white as ivory. He was almost afraid to touch them. It seemed profane. She arched her back, pushing them up and forward, offering them. He cupped the underside of one. His hands felt coarse against the delicate flesh.

He thought he might hurt her just by touching her, but she didn't cry out. He cupped it more fully and squeezed. She gasped. He squeezed harder, and she writhed, wiggling her hips back and forth on the bed.

"Kazuhiro!" she whispered.


"Take me." In the dim light coming through the blinds, he saw her eyes open. She looked at him. "Take me now," she said. "Hard."

Kazuhiro was sore all over. His back and knees ached from sitting in the uncomfortable chair for so long, and from standing in the hall for an hour before.

"What was your assignment, Lieutenant?"

"I was supposed to pose as a low-level clerk in a requisitions department. You know, overseeing purchases for construction and demolitions, that kind of thing," he said.

"And did you?"

Kazuhiro flexed his shoulders, trying to loosen them up. "Yes," he said. "I was undercover for six months."

"We see," said the Tribunal. "And to what end?"

Kazuhiro smirked a little. "None."


"Nope. I was just supposed to pose as a clerk."

The Tribunal's recorded voice was still the same neutral monotone as ever, but it sounded surprised anyway. "What was the rest of your assignment?"

Kazuhiro smirked some more. "There wasn't anything. That was it. That was all the whole thing."

"Take me, Kazuhiro," said June.

He paused. He was shaking. Her voice sounded throaty. He could feel her muscles tensed all over.

"Take me," she said. "Take me hard."

Kazuhiro cupped her breasts in both hands, massaging her alabaster skin with his coarse, calloused fingers. She moaned some more. She wrapped her legs tighter around him. She was rocking back and forth now, grinding her hips up and down.

He kissed one nipple. The tip was hard against his lips. He licked it, and she cried out. He licked again, opening his mouth, kissing it, sucking it. He squeezed her breast at the base, drawing the little nipple between his teeth. Her head thrashed back and forth on the pillow, yellow hair splayed out.

She was on her back, and he was on top. He held himself up and over her on his forearms. She was already sweating and panting. She rubbed her body against his, working her pelvis up and down. Her nails raked him.

"Kazuhiro, please," she said. "I need it."

He still had her breasts in his hands. He kneaded hard and watched her writhe. She was so sensitive, even the smallest amount of pressure sent her into fits. He kissed her mouth again. She bit him and grabbed a handful of hair at the back of his head.

"Take me," she said. "I've never need it so bad. Kazuhiro, I love you. I want you. Please. Please..."

"What was your cover identity?" said the Tribunal.

For a second, Kazuhiro couldn't answer. He was blacking out. Surely they must realize it? Why were they letting this go on?

"Your cover?" said the Tribunal again.

"Some ridiculous name," he finally said. "They fucked up and gave me a Chinese name. Qi, I think. Alexander Qi, originally from Portland Oregon, now living in Houston."

The Tribunal paused. Kazuhiro heard servos whining. "Ah," it said, "yes, we have Alexander Qi's work permit on file. Everything is in order. Tell us Lieutenant, you are a Vega-class operative, are you not?"

"I said so already. And you have my dossier."

"We know that you've had three other field assignments in the past five years, all highly-sensitive matters that are marked Double Red."

"Yes, but you know I'm not allowed to talk about them with anyone, not even a superior officer, not even if directly asked."

"But we can assume from your background that they were undercover anti-terrorism missions?"

"If you want to," he said, "but I'm not confirming that in any way."

"No need. Our question is this: why would your controller want a man of your background to take on a six month undercover assignment at a menial job with no stated goals of any kind?"

Kazuhiro made a big show of putting his hands up. "It's hard to explain. But basically, it has to do with the...mechanics of the entire thing."

She was wet between her legs. Kazuhiro was steel-hard. The sight of her perfect pink lips forming the words "Take me!" again and again drove him wild. Time slowed down, letting him observe the sensual movements of her mouth in detail.

He slid between her legs. They parted to accept him. Their bodies met, locked together. Her thighs pressed against his. Their faces were a few inches apart. She kissed him. He kissed back. They were close enough that he could feel her heart pounding. His was too.

"Will you love me forever?" she said.

"Always," he said, and entered her. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out. Her eyes rolled back for a fraction of a second, flickering under her eyelids. He couldn't believe how warm she was, how tightly she fit around him.

He slid in, stopping once when she winced, but going in more when she coaxed him on. He started to thrust, but she said "Stop!" He stopped. "Hang on," she said. "Let me feel it. Let me just feel it."

He remained still. She said nothing. Her eyes were closed. She seemed to be concentrating very hard. Her brow was pinched.

"I don't ever want to forget this moment," she said. "The moment when I really became yours. I want to remember every single detail. I'll think about this always."

He didn't answer. Silence seemed respectful. He was throbbing from base to tip, a pulse he was sure she felt, but he stayed still. He didn't mind waiting.

Eventually she opened her eyes, and smiled. "All right," she said. "I'll always remember.

"Now," she said, seizing a handful of his hair, "give me something worth remembering."

"They're called memory inhibitors," said Kazuhiro. "I don't completely understand how they work, but it's a combination of drugs, auto-hypnosis, and a little brain surgery. The idea is to suppress the subject's real memories and replace them with the fabricated memories of his cover."

"Completely?" said the Tribunal.

Kazuhiro nodded. "That's the whole idea. Terror cells and subversive groups are getting better at sniffing out infiltrators. Control thinks the best precaution to help an agent get inside is if even he doesn't even know that he's an agent. With memory inhibitors in place, you believe your cover story entirely. You live it. You are it."

"Had this ever been tried before?" said the Tribunal.

"Only in labs. This was the first time it'd been used in the field." His throat was dry. It hurt to talk. He kept talking anyway. "My job was simple: undergo the procedure, become Alexander Qi, live his fabricated life for six months, then report in and tell them how well it worked."

"And how well did it work?"

Kazuhiro smiled. "Like a dream. I fit right in. Alexander Qi, well, he fit in too."

Hot, sweating bodies tangled on the sheets. Bare skin met bare skin, limbs twined around each other, lips met, kissed, moved past one another to explore, then met again.

Kazuhiro's was aching and sore from exertion, his back stiff from the constant back and forth motion, his throat raw from panting, skin bruised and scratched from too-exuberant embraces. He didn't care. He kept going.

He was gentle at first, still irrationally afraid of hurting her, but she encouraged him to go faster and harder, to be more aggressive. Her nails were like spurs in his back, pushing him on. Her panting breath on his neck made him tingle.

Her skin was soft, her lips were warm, her body was wet, her was sex tight and hot. He moved back and forth inside of her again and again, in and out. Her hips bucked, body rising up to meet his as he went down each time. Each time he moved in her, the little jump of her throat as she gasped and the pinched spot on her brow as she exerted herself made him smile.

Eventually her cries were reduced to one word, repeated over and over with tiny exhalations:

“Yes, yes, yes, yes-!”

He sped up. His body arched up and down, back and forth, machine-like, unyielding, never tiring. For her he wasn’t willing to stop. She rose up and kissed the side of his neck, then bit, then let out a ragged moan, then managed to say again:

“Take me, oh God, take me!”

Kazuhiro squeezes his eyes shut. He was shaking like a leaf now. In the mirror, he saw his own face, pale and haggard. How long had they been talking? How much longer was this going to go on?

"But these memory inhibitors aren't still in place?" said the Tribunal.

"Of course not. They're designed to wear off after the prescribed period, so that the agent can begin reporting in after he's infiltrated the target group. In my case, since this was just a field test, they went with six months, but that's a modest span compared to what the technology is capable of."

The Tribunal clicked its metal fingers. "And just what is it capable of?"

Kazuhiro whistled. "Who knows? Years, at least. Maybe decades. A guy could live an entire life never knowing who he really is. Sleeper agents might sleep forever, if control wants them to."

"And once the inhibitors wear off, the fabricated personality is completely lost?"

Kazuhiro swept his hand over the tabletop. "One minute it's there, the next, gone. Dust in the wind."

"Kazuhiro!" said June, "I want it! I want all of it!"

He was rock hard inside of her, cumming already, little spurts going out with each inward thrust, imparting a bit of himself into her.

She whispered in his ear: “I want it, I want you to cum, I want you to do it in me, I want all of you, everything, please, Kazuhiro, please...”

He felt it clench and roll up inside of him. She was so wet and her body shook all over. Her eyes rolled back and she moaned, and she was matching his frenzied pace with her own, their coupling threatening to spin out of control. He half-expected that the floor would give way and the foundations split, because how could anyplace contain what he was feeling right now?

She kissed him once, a long, deep, penetrating kiss, and he let go, stars bursting behind his eyelids and the chorus of her voice singing him on as he released, and forgot everything. For one, happy, blind moment, nothing existed in the universe except for her and him and the gratification of their two bodies together.

It took a long time for him to come back down. When he opened his eyes, she was looking up at him. She touched his face. He breathed in. He smiled. She smiled back.

Everything was finally perfect.

“That’s it,” said Kazuhiro. “That’s all I know. You want to know the rest, you have to talk to control. I did my job, I reported in, now I'm done until they need me again."

The Tribunal hummed, but said nothing.

Kazuhiro sighed. He wanted to sleep forever. “All right, I cooperated. Now I want to see June. Take me to see her.”

“We have not concluded the debriefing,” said the Tribunal.

“I told you, I don’t know anything else. You have everything. I want to see my wife.”

“We are not finished,” said the Tribunal.

Kazuhiro stood up. “I’ve had enough of this. I can leave anytime I want. The guards outside, they know who I am, they wouldn’t touch me. I could just walk out of here I wanted to. I’ve had enough. I did my part. Now, I'm going.”

The Tribunal was quiet for a time. Then it said: “Very well, Lieutenant.”

And then it turned off. Its camera eyes winked out, and its servos stopped moving, and its steel frame slumped over.

Kazuhiro blinked. “Hello?” he said. “Is someone listening? Hello?”

A door he never noticed opened on the other side of the room. A woman entered. She was older than Kazuhiro, and although she wore an officer’s uniform her hair was cut short like a cadet. She was reading a clipboard.

“Hello?” he said.

“Hello, Lieutenant Yamaji,” she said, looking up.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Porter. I’m your controller.”

Kazuhiro blinked. Then he saluted. "I'm glad you're here," he said. "I've had a hell of a time."

“Yes, I’m sorry about this.” She gestured to the Tribunal. “We wanted to try something different this time, to see if the antagonism would elicit a different reaction. It didn’t.”

He frowned. “Different reaction?”

“Follow me please,” said Porter, going back through the door. Kazuhiro followed.

“Where are we going?” he said. They were in some kind of service corridor.

“To see June,” said Porter.

Kazuhiro sat on the bed, looking at the blinds. It was light outside. June touched his shoulder.

“I have to leave,” he said.

“I know."

“I wish I didn’t.”

“I know. And I know that there’s no telling when you’ll be back. It’s okay. I always knew.”

“You deserve better.”

“There is nothing better. Nothing better than you.”

He held her again.

“I’ll come back,” he said. “I promise.”

"And I'll wait," she said. "I don't care how long it is. I'll wait."

"I'll come back," he said again.

"Will you love me forever?" her little fingers were wrapped around his.

"Always," he said.

Porter lead him through a door to a room much like the one they’d left. It was empty except for a bank of television monitors on one wall.

"What is this?" said Kazuhiro.

"What you asked for," said Porter.

She pushed a button on the wall. The monitors turned on. June's face appeared on each of them. She smiled at the camera and said:

"Will you love me forever?"

Kazuhiro's heart tightened. "What the fuck is this?" he said. "Where is June?"

"Right there," said Porter. June's face kept smiling on the screens.

"Don't fuck with me," said Kazuhiro, turning on her. "I want to see my wife right now!"

"You are. That's her. That's the only June Amory who ever existed."

"Will you love me forever?"

Kazuhiro felt sick. What was she saying? What was going on? "I don't get this. Explain this to me. From the beginning."

Porter held up her clipboard. His dossier was on it. "Your name is Kazuhiro Yamaji. You're a Vega-class internal security operative, originally from Tampa, now stationed in San Francisco. Your rank is Second Lieutenant. And your dossier lists you as unmarried."

Kazuhiro‘s knees went weak. "No, no, that's bullshit, I married June the day before I was deployed. If the records haven't been updated-"

"The records are up to date, Lieutenant. They list you as unmarried because you are. You have no wife. June Amory does not exist."

"Will you love me forever?"

Kazuhiro stuck a finger in Porter's face. "You tell me what's going on, right now!"

Porter leafed through some pages. “It was all part of your cover, Lieutenant. You were unmarried and never had any serious romantic relationship the entire time you've worked for us, so we wondered how your behavior might change if you suddenly had someone else to live for. So when we created Alexander Qi, your cover identity, we also created June Amory, his wife."

Porter pointed to the screens. "And there she is, just as you remember her. But of course, they're not really memories at all. They're fabrications."

"Will you love me forever?"

Kazuhiro felt cold. “No, no, this isn’t happening, this isn’t-” He tasted bile. He doubled over, trying not to vomit. Nausea churned inside him The monitors repeated over and over:

“Will you love me forever?”

Porter sighed. “I realize this is a lot for you to take in,” she said. “You were supposed to forget about her when the memory inhibitors phased out, just like the rest of your cover identity. But for some reason, you didn’t.

"You can imagine how confusing it was for us when you showed up on the base demanding to see a woman who didn’t exist, who you shouldn’t even remember anymore. To be honest, it‘s still confusing. We don‘t know why you‘re like this.”

Her voice sounded far away. All he could hear now was June’s voice:

“Will you love me forever?”

“Will you love me forever?”

“Will you love me forever?"

"No, no, no!“ Kazuhiro said. “That's a lie, you're fucking lying to me, stop it! I want to see June, I want to see my wife!"

"What's your wife's middle name?" Porter said.

Kazuhiro stopped. "What?"

"What's her favorite song?” said Porter, looking him in the eye. “What's her favorite color? What's her favorite position to be fucked in?”

Kazuhiro’s jaw dropped. He fumbled for an answer.

“What are her parent’s names? What's her job? What’s the first thing she does every morning? Do you know the answers to any of these questions?"

"I...I..." Kazuhiro thought hard. He must know?

"Do you know anything about your wife except for her name and her face and one night you supposedly spent together?"

"I can't remember...why can't I remember...“

“Will you love me forever?”

“Will you love me forever?”

“You don’t remember because we never created those memories for you. You only remember a few things because that’s all there is.”

“But, I remember her, I remember her saying my real name, she called me ’Kazuhiro’ over and over again. And I remember telling her about my fieldwork, I remember-”

“You remember what you want to. Your subconscious mingles your real memories with your false ones to create a more convincing illusion. It's part of the program. You’re very good at fooling yourself. We all are.”

Kazuhiro's eyes burned. Tears ran down his cheeks. He tried to shut out the voices. He couldn’t.

"Will you love me forever?"

“Will you love me forever?”

"What does this mean?" he said. "Why did this happen?"

Porter shook her head. "That's what we'd like to know. That's the point of these debriefs, to find out. Do you know how long it's been since your field assignment ended? Do you know how many time we've had this conversation?”

Kazuhiro looked up. "How many?"

“Enough. More than once. Lots more.”

Kazuhiro fell to his knees. He rocked back and forth, head in his hands.

"This isn't happening," he said. "This isn't true. She's real, I remember her, I love her, I know she's real!"

"Where did you meet? When did you propose? How long have you been together?"

"Will you love me forever?"

Kazuhiro tried to block out Porter's voice.

"How old is she? When is her birthday? What's her sign?"

"Will you love me forever?"

"What did she study? How does she kiss? What's her favorite food?"

"Shut up!" said Kazuhiro, jumping up and taking a swing at Porter. His fist went right through her, and he landed on the floor. Porter's hologram only flickered in response to the attack.

“Will you love me forever?”

“Will you love me forever?”

“For your sake, I’ll leave that out of my report, Lieutenant,” said Porter.

Kazuhiro beat the floor with his fists. "I've lost her," he said.

"You never had her. She's not real. You're being haunted by the ghost of a woman who never existed, an electronic fantasy."

Kazuhiro sobbed.

"Some people think that there was an error in your programming," said Porter, not looking at him as he cried. "Some trick of your brain chemistry that we didn't account for that explains why you won't forget her. But I have a theory of my own. Would you like to hear it?"

Kazuhiro didn't answer.

"I think you just don't want to forget," said Porter. "I think that you prefer the fantasy. You prefer to remember a fake woman who loves you rather than the facts of your real life. I think you decided not to forget. Isn't that right, Lieutenant Yamaji?"

Kazuhiro shook his head again and again. "No, no, no, this isn't right, this isn't happening."

He put his hand on the monitor screens. June smiled at him. He kissed her image.

"Please honey, please come back to me. Please come back. Please be real."

"Lieutenant," said Porter, "don't do this to yourself."

"Please, oh God please, June, I love you, I need you, come back, don't leave me like this, come back!"

"Lieutenant, get a hold of yourself!"

"Please be real."



Kazuhiro beat the screen with his fist. June kept smiling.

"Will you love me forever?"

"Will you love me forever?"

Porter sighed. "I'm sending for security, Lieutenant Yamaji."

Kazuhiro said nothing.

“It’s a damn shame, watching you do this to yourself,“ she said. Porter's hologram flickered and disappeared. "A damn shame."

Kazuhiro looked at the monitors. June smiled back.

"I love you June. I love you so much."

"Will you love me forever?"


"Will you love me forever?"

"Yes, oh God, yes."

He threw himself onto the ground and closed his eyes, remembering her touch, her kiss, her laugh, her warmth.

"Will you love me forever?"

“I will. I do. Always."

They came and took him away. The monitors turned off, but he still heard her voice. In his mind, her heard her voice, over and over, always:

“Will you love me forever?”

“Will you love me forever?”

"Love me?"


“Love me?”





And that was all.


2011-10-01 15:48:52
Brilliant. Heart-breaking, erotic, well put together. As with other stories of yours I've read, you create strong characters with very few words. It's a joy to read your stories.

anonymous readerReport

2011-09-28 21:54:28
A vary entertaining storie, creative and well writen. Top drawer writing. Vary imaginable.


2011-09-21 10:48:46
What an incredible story, I loved it.

anonymous readerReport

2011-09-01 14:30:53
Excellent! I wish I had an account so I could vote, cuz I would SO vote positive.

anonymous readerReport

2011-08-30 06:41:56
Very well written. Very creative. Not really what I was looking to read at the moment but that doesn't stop me recognising a masterfully created story.

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