In a government-funded laboratory, Wesley Dane worked carefully peering through the microscope. Having worked solely on the integration of artificial ligaments, he knew better than anyone that the future of technology wasn’t in plastics but rather, lightweight metals that rarely rusted and remained cool regardless of use, and the rebuilding of a structure that can function like another body part. Maria Hawkins entered and walked over. She peeked over his shoulder and he grumbled, not appreciating the waft of her perfume, “What do you want, Maria?”
Maria smiled and chided, “What’s up with you, Mr. Grumpy Pants?”
At that, Wesley retorted, “If this is you trying to get into my pants, you’d better give it up.”
Not one for sweet-talking, Maria rolled her eyes and asked, “Hey, you give my proposal some thought?” She eyed him carefully, noting the setline he kept his lips, not giving anything away.
Wesley’s tone never changed, everything sounded like a warning, “Of course not. I don’t want to mix business with pleasure with anyone.” He especially didn’t want to get involved with Maria. Despite her tenderness and easy-going appearance, she was a bulldog when she wanted something and once her talons were in you, she would be determined to rip it from your carcass. Wesley knew her past relationships ended with the males fleeing for their lives, or something to that effect. He, certainly, didn’t want to be one of them.
Maria leaned closer and whispered in his hear, “We can do it in a test tube.”
At this, Wesley looked up and asked, “You’ll release some control?” And then he added, “Just to be clear, you want my genetics so that you can build a baby and grow her under the practices and parameters of an experimental being.”
Maria shrugged, “I like your genetic code, Wes. I think our product would be quite interesting. I mean,” she rested her chin on her hand, “can you imagine their brain?”
Wesley couldn’t help but feel a pinch of excitement as he relented. The method they discussed had been a mixed clone, but it was also better than a baby made through conventional methods. The idea of rolling around for the sake of conception was beyond unappealing due to the lack of sanitation of the whole situation, thus the massive appeal in Maria’s suggestion.
It wasn’t a secret she liked his genetic code. She’d taken samples from every male she knew before choosing him. In some ways, it was flattering, but also strange. She suggested the old fashioned way first but Wesley declined politely. Since then, she had offered other ways, most recently the mixing of cloned codes to be implanted in her embryo and birthed from a plasma container. She still offered the old fashioned way to him, promising a high fertility level ran in her family, but he didn’t think it was right.
Wesley Dane was a scientist and he was proud of it. He didn’t like the nonsensical matters that arose in the work place between the different genders, and steered clear of such messes for himself. He arrived at work, did his work, and then left. A social life wasn’t necessary and most of his time off from work was spent dabbling in other projects of his interest.
For example, Wesley took up photography when he realized his projects needed proper documentation and recording. He also took up computer programming when he realized he could present his findings to commission and grant board to get more funding. He enjoyed writing long explanations and working out math problems with the scholars of different departments, but he often encoded his questions from his works so that he could get a better and wider opinion on how to address his work. He had learned Mandarin when a famous biologist visited his lab, and then quickly picked up on making a popular Chinese dish the famous biologist wanted to eat, just so that he would have more time with the biologist.
A stickler for details, rife with ambition, and no social life, Wesley was quite the enigma for Maria Hawkins, the daughter of a few famous chemists. Her parents were responsible for the discovery of liquid that can be substituted to born life forms from, and then came the wave of pills meant to aid with abortions. She wasn’t proud of everything her family had discovered, but those discoveries happened by accident. Her family simply chose to make it available at the right price. When they ran out, they ran out.
Maria, herself, was quite a woman. She grew up with many friends, explored human and animal sexuality as far as she needed to, wanting to be the first to create a legendary Chimera. Naturally, she fell out of interest of such things when she listened to her parents discuss cloning.
The idea of replicating herself fed her vanity all the more. So, she switched into the biological sciences, which was where she met many great minds, including the exclusive and awkward Wesley Dane.
To be honest, she saw him and thought him handsome and very smart. But when she first approached him, hoping to join the talk on biological advancements, he shot down her arguments with his own mechanical infusion ideas. And though many thought him crazy for even suggesting such abominable acts of the human body, Maria was moved by the way Wesley seemed to argue his case clearly.
“When the body fails, science is called into action to save them. Think about it,” Wesley had said, guiding everyone’s focus to himself, “without science, we wouldn’t have pace-makers, hearing aids, wheel chairs, and we would never have imagined using screws and nails, or even adding titanium, to the human body.”
Maria had watched Wesley for a while before she came up with the fantasy of integrating his genetic code with hers, in the hopes of creating someone with great brains. Her parents thought her silly when she presented them the idea, but Maria felt their dismissive words as encouragement and sought him out.
And when she had finally cornered him in a lab, she smiled and laid out her plan to a very confused and rather, uncomfortable, young scientist. And from that day on, she knew she had to have him. After all, doesn’t the world need someone as brilliant as the two of their combined brilliances?
Months later, just after her next cycle, when she was ovulating for certain, Maria called Wesley to her family’s estate, mostly empty due to her family’s extensive tours abroad to speak at events or oversee more projects. Wesley watched Maria work their genetic codes together, taking, building, and manipulating to ensure all the proper traits. He looked her over and put in, “Give it my height and your gender. I wonder if she will be as fertile as your line.”
Dressed in a hospital gown and her long black hair tied up, Maria smiled and worked carefully, “Most are barren, given the inability to clone those more complicated codes and systems, but we can wait and see.” When she was done, she stood back to observe her work. “DNA and RNA are set.”
Wesley nodded, “That looks about right.” He shut the capsule and turned to Maria, “Shall I give my part?”
Maria smiled and handed him a cup, “Let me know if you need any help. My father prefers stimulating mittens,” she added, rather playfully.
Wesley frowned but stopped himself from asking. Instead, he grabbed the cup and walked into the connected bathroom. And as he worked on himself, Maria worked on making sure the proper components were at play. She knew they’d only have a few shots at this before running out of time or supplies. It would be best if their first try was perfect. They had experimented on fruit, but the outcomes were too tough to determine as a success or failure. So, with the incubator rigged and nutrients prepped in the plasma, they really only had one shot to do it.
When Wesley stepped out of the restroom, he joined Maria and handed her his cup. Maria looked at it and smiled, “Good boy.”
Wesley looked at everything and then turned to Maria, “And now, your contribution?”
Maria winked at Wesley, “So eager, are we?”
Wesley rolled his eyes, “We’re doing something completely out of this world. Of course I am eager to see what happens,” he added.
Maria sat up on padded table and spread her legs, “Be my guest. A little stimulation wouldn’t hurt,” she added, as she swallowed two very large blue pills and waited.
Wesley turned his attention to a computer screen, picking up a long and bendable tube with his other hand. “Are the pain killers working?” he asked and then Maria laide her head back and nodded. “Here we go,” he warned and pushed the tube in.
“Hey!” Maria snapped, shifting her hips, “If you’re not going to stimulate me, do it slowly. It’s going to hurt otherwise,” she added.
Wesley sighed and apologized, “Sorry. Let me try again,” he added. As he pushed the tube further in, he watched Maria carefully. When she grit her teeth, he knew the tube reached her cervix. From there, he watched the computer screen, navigating and moving with bits of help from the computer-controlled tip of the tube. It moved slowly and when he located an egg, he positioned the tube before sucking it from her. Once he was sure he had it, he removed the tube from Maria. “I got it,” he stated, moving to a case of plasma.
Maria closed her legs but she didn’t get up. “Let me rest a bit.” Without hearing his response, she turned her face to the side and passed out.
Wesley frowned and hurried over after securing the egg. He touched Maria’s cheek and checked her pulse. In their rush and his excitement, he had forgotten to administer a painkiller shot, which would explain her reactions. The pills worked internally, but the shot would have been much more effective. He swallowed and gave her an injection, hoping to make her more comfortable. On the table, she looked to be in a strange position, so he reached out and picked her up. Walking so as not to wake her, he carried her to one of the many bedrooms and put her down. Pulling the blanket over her, wondering when she would come to.
Wesley was an only child. He didn’t have experience in the whole taking care of someone else field. He knew how to do it because he often did it to get something he wanted, but never because he knew someone else needed it. But Maria was doing something much bigger than either of them. And so, he told himself, maybe that was it?
Some hours later, Maria opened her eyes to see Wesley reading a book. She liked how peaceful he looked and didn’t even try to hid her gaze when he looked up to see her. He asked, “How are you feeling?”
She rolled on to her side and frowned, “Much better.” She sat up and touched her stomach, “Next time, I prefer the old fashioned way.”
Unknowingly, Wesley smiled and closed his book. Maria felt a light blush but she forced herself to get herself under control. She couldn’t afford to grow an attachment to her DNA donor.
Back in the lab, Wesley pulled up a chair for her to sit in and moved her closer to the plasma container. He had ensured the merging of the pre-arranged DNA and RNA with the egg and sperm. So, as he placed his hand on the DNA infused egg, he pulled her hand on it as well.
“Together, then?” Wesley asked.
Maria nodded and, he nodded as well. They pushed the capsule into the machine, watching it sink into the plasma. She turned to Wesley and smiled, “This was more fun than I thought it would be.”
Wesley looked her over and then leaned in to kiss her forehead. Maria looked up and let him kiss her lips. It was gentle and Wesley pulled back, his eyes wide with unexpected pleasure. Maria smiled and closed her eyes, silently asking for another kiss. Her wooziness in that moment was quite overpowering, which affected her decision-making skills. Or, so she told himself.
Wesley looked around and, not too sure why, he leaned in to kiss her again. He hadn’t enjoyed physical touch so much in a very long time. And with his hormones suddenly raging, he let his hands move freely, breaking down the walls he had worked so hard to put up and keep firm. He prayed their creation would be stronger than the rest of mankind.
Wesley enjoyed the summer and winter but couldn’t wait for spring. This time, after his travels and projects were finished, and he was allowed back on break, he made a beeline to the Hawkins estate, where Maria greeted him with excitement. They had continued an easy friendship, their clone-baby project what held them together, and almost a year later, it came close to when the child ought to be released from the plasma as a baby.
Each month, Maria sent him an updated image, from microscopic to the current state. The baby grew and changed, and soon, as Wesley and Maria watched, the small form within the plasma case moved and wanted out.
So, as Maria had practiced on her own, she induced a water birth and pulled the baby from plasma, into water, and then out into the air. And as Wesley watched in amazement, both soon stared into the eyes of a baby who wasn’t crying.
Wesley checked the pulse and it was fine. Maria checked to see if the baby was breathing, and it was. Still, no crying.
“Maybe clones don’t cry?” Wesley suggested as Maria strapped on a diaper and then wrapped the baby in a towel.
Maria frowned, “Maybe. I guess, she might be mute?”
But Wesley shook his head, “Let’s give it some time. Don’t babies usually sleep all day now?”
Maria nodded, “We need to give her sustenance. I bought some stuff, but I’m not sure if she will grow up like a normal baby. What do you think?” she asked Wesley, who simply stared at the baby. Maria frowned and then she nudged him, “Do you want to hold her?”
Wesley frowned and then shook his head. “No. I don’t want to endear her to me. And you shouldn’t either,” he added rather callously.
Maria frowned, “Wes, she’s still a baby. She might not cry, which is a blessing, but she’s still a baby. Our baby.”
Wesley frowned and then reached out to pick up the baby. “She doesn’t look like either of us.”
Maria shrugged, “She might have all of our dormant genes.”
Wesley pulled the baby close to his face and then he asked, “Who are you?”
Maria rolled her eyes, “I like the name Ricky. How about we name her Rico?”
“Since she’s artificially birthed, why not ABC? Artificially Birthed Child,” Wesley suggested, holding her close without even thinking about it.
Maria shook her head, “Heck, no! I want her to have a real name.”
Wesley sighed and then walked to the window. He sat down and let the sunlight hit the baby, seeing her blink a few times and then yawn. “How about Noriko Senge?” he suggested, absently.
Maria turned and watched from a distance. She’d never seen Wesley so interested in a child before. And then she replied, “I’m okay with Noriko, since the baby looks a bit oriental, but I wanted to give her our last names.”
“Dane-Hawkins?” Wesley asked, staring into the face of the sleeping baby.
Maria smiled, “Yeah. Noriko Dane-Hawkins. That sounds like a mouthful, but that sounds nice, right?” she added.
Wesley nodded and watched the baby sleep, “Hello, Noriko Dane-Hawkins.”