"How do you love me?" she says. Her dark eyes dance.
"Like this. And this. And this," he says, and plants a trail of kisses down her sun-warmed body.
Her laughter turns to soft moans and they make love on the warm, white sand.
When they finish, she opens her eyes and he sees himself trapped within them.
"What do you see when you look at me?" she says
But the incoming tide drowns out his answer.
Samendahl wakes alone in his bed. It's 5:48.
He showers, soaping and rinsing without looking at the body he wears. He is drying the dark, thick, wiry hair he used to love bunching in his hands, trying to bring it to some order, wondering if Idiri – no, he won't think about her – when the summons comes. It is 6:15.
His palms are sweaty when he goes to enter the connecting suite. H rubs them against the skirt and feels the silk slide against his thighs. It is the red skirt Dahl and he like best.
Who will be waiting on the other side, he wonders. The scientist, the lover, the child? He wonders every morning.
Samendahl opens the door.
"Good morning, Samendahl."
He breathes then. It's all right. It's Dahl.
Dahl is sitting beside the table already laid for breakfast. He is shaved and the graying hair is fresh cut. His white shirt is crisp and his jeans are neatly pressed. His brown eyes are alert and intelligent. He is handsome in a distinguished way. Samendahl wonders if this is how he always looked, or does he just notice it more now. He pours a glass of orange juice and holds it out to Samendahl. "Juice, Samendahl."
Samendahl hates his name. It was his grandfather's. He never liked his grandfather. But he must be called something and Dahl is already Dahl, and he does not like Sam, so Samendahl he must be. It is not something he, Dahl, thought about before.
Samendahl takes the juice and sits down. Dahl begins shooting unified equations at him. Samendahl throws them back with changes.
Their identical plates of scrambled eggs, tomato bits, fired ham slices, and toast with orange marmalade go uneaten, grow cold. The droid server waits in energy conservation mode for them to finish. It is used to it.
At times like this, when one idea sparks another and another and the answer is getting closer Samendahl forgets the face Dahl wears and the body he wears it is just one mind asking and answering itself the way it was meant to be.
Dahl says, "But you must be tired of listening to this, Idiri. We'll speak of something else."
It is 1:36.
Samendahl grows cold. His stomach knots. He says through dry lips, "As you will, Dahl."
Dahl's brain is dying. There is no cure. But Dahl's mind must be saved. It is a wonder of the world.
Samendahl is the clone of Dahl's mind. Everything that Dahl is and was, Samendahl is and was. They are the same.
That is not true. Samendahl does not have Dahl's body. Samendahl has a woman's body. The woman Idiri. Idiri, the woman Dahl loved. The woman Samendahl loved. But Idiri left Dahl. She did not understand him. She did not love him enough.