susan_calvin (susan_calvin) wrote in oh_robot,
susan_calvin
susan_calvin
oh_robot

Title: Degree In Robotics
Chapter: 8) Thinking of you
Fandom: I, Robot
Pairing: Sonny/Susan
Rating: PG
Warnings: fic contains robot/human relationship, religious referances, alcoholism, suicide, depression, nudity, swearing
Disclaimer: Please note that I do not own the characters, concept or plot of the 'I, Robot' book or film, those rights belong to 20th Centuary Fox and the Asimov estate.
Author's Note: This fanfiction is my own creation though so please do not steal. I am patchworkdove



Sonny lay on his back on the short, black couch. One of Susan’s playlists hung in the air, the sounds were calming, smooth flowing and instrumental. His legs were thrown carelessly over the arm and he flicked half-heartedly through a book he had found, ‘A Few Words On Robotics’. It was more than a few words, so far he had counted over 450,000, most of them quite uninteresting. It was a mass of interpreted scientific data and a collection of theories and applied logic in regards to robotic functions. It was not at all what he wanted to read, but he was restless. He needed something to occupy his mind or else he would start running down thought paths that Susan had advised him against.

Bored of the table of response times he had been viewing he finally closed the desperately uninteresting book and looked at the cover. It was decorated with a digital-art image of an older model robot sat on a grassy hill. Logic was dull. It wasn’t colourless but it might as well be. Logic stripped away the wonder of things. Logic told him that the green was just caused by full spectrum light hitting the cover of the book. The area representing a mass of heavily trimmed photosynthetic plants that looked to be P. pratensis or a related grass species was absorbing all wavelengths of light except for those of the ‘green’ portion of the spectrum, which was reflected. The reflected light had a wavelength of about 510 nanometers and his eyes detected this, causing the grass look green. Nothing more than simple science and logic.

The part of him that gave him the ability to put logic aside told him it looked nice and comfortable and that it was one of the loveliest shades of green he had seen. Beautifully organic, it was a lush colour, full of the vivacity and life of the natural world. He also found himself wondering what grass felt like. He could take a logical guess, but that wouldn’t be the same. How soft was it? Did the blades have sharp edges? Did it mind being sat on or walked across? Which did it like better, sunlight or water? It needed both, but what was it’s favourite? Did grass have favourites, or was that a human characteristic? He had favourites, did that make him human? What exactly was he?

This question had been plaguing his thoughts for some time now. On the outside he was like an NS-5, but that was as far as the similarities went. He resembled them strongly, he had the same face and build but he was heavier, stronger, his top speed was lower and he had a second positronic core. He was not an NS-5. On the inside he was like a human, but again, he wasn’t quite one of those either. He felt like a human did, he experienced emotions like happiness and sadness, but he wasn’t a human. He did not have a millilitre of blood in him, no veins for it to flow through and no heart. He had no pulse. He was not alive like humans were.

He thought of his father. Alfred had never told him what he was, but then again he had never asked. It had been so simple back in the laboratory. There was him and his father, nothing else mattered. He was aware that existence went beyond the silvery walls, that there was a world outside the soft, frosted blueness of the window. It had intrigued him, but he was far more interested in the attention his father paid him. Alfred would always be asking him questions, explaining things, teaching him. He had asked many questions himself, eager to learn and striving for his father’s approval. There was little else he had enjoyed more than his father’s congratulatory remarks, it made him feel proud of himself.

Sometimes he would strike some topics in such a way that gained him his favourite response from the old man. His father’s face would take on a look of sheer shock before slowly his eyes would twinkle in that indescribable way they did and a big grin would gradually appear. His father would say something like ‘Well done Sonny! Well done!’ and he would get a pat on the back, head or upper arm. Sometimes his father would grasp his hands and look into his eyes, his face positively beaming with what he always hoped was paternal pride, and say with a hush of wonder ‘You make me proud, Son.’

He whimpered and pushed the damn book off his chest, the weighty volume thudding to the floor as the images of his father’s lifeless body resurfaced. He sobbed bitterly, turning to hide his face deep in the couch. He heard again the echoing of many glass splinters hitting the lobby floor, and hidden within the sound he could almost hear the mighty, soft, thick thump of his father coming to an end. He remembered the sounds and the colours and the everything of those short moments with loathsome clarity, the short seconds slowed down and extended into a time frame of several minutes or even hours. His first encounter with the raw, white light of the sun and the sheer massiveness of the USR skyscraper’s imposing atrium made him feel so small and vulnerable. He had never seen such a large, empty space before. He had only ever known the cosy, hazy-blue laboratory, littered with clutter and mess. The world beyond was so bare, harsh and sharp-edged in comparison.

He swore blindly, having no apt comprehension of profanity, damming and cursing his keen eyesight, photographic memory and corruption resistant drives the best as his limited mind could. How he wished he could forget those images, and how repulsed he felt with himself for wishing that. His inhuman mind guaranteed that he would always remember the good times he shared with his father, his happiest memories preserved perfectly down to the last pixel forever, until the last moments of his own life. He knew that he should be eternally grateful for it, as not everyone could do that. It was a priceless gift. However, it was also a loathsome curse as it also ensured that he would always feel the agony of his father’s death as if it had happened but less than an hour ago. The twisted and broken body of the man he loved, the man he killed, would be burned into his mind’s eye forever. He would never be able to block it out or forget it, no matter how tightly he shut his eyes or however much he busied himself. Nothing could hide those images.

He could get rid of his memories, but would he? He knew that it was possible to wipe his drives and reset most of his positronic core paths to the production line point and it would be a great release to free himself from the death of his father, but the cost was great. What would be the point of forgetting his father’s death, if he also no longer remembered who his father was? All those memories would be lost also. It was truly agonising. There was no answer, no solution, and no cure.

He shakily pawed at the sofa in dispair. Was this his fate? To forever relive those sweet, young memories only to have them shattered, again and again, in a cycle that could only come to an end in his own death? Was that all his future held?

He sat up angrily. He did not want dwell on such self-destructive thoughts. His third Law was having a fit from the direction of the path his mind was treading. He didn’t want to dwell on any thoughts at all, he didn’t want to think. He needed to escape himself. He wanted to get lost in a book, swept away in the story line of a novel. He wanted to become swamped with concern for the troubles of another’s mind, safe in the knowledge that it was purely fictional, that he could close the covers, shut the book and put it down at any point and it would all stop. He had scoured Susan’s bookshelves for anything of the sort, but true to her word, she seemed to only collect research papers, textbooks and manuals.

He sat there on the sofa for a while, trying to draw a blanket of nothingness over his thoughts but it was no use. He could not empty his mind, it was too busy, so full of calculations and feelings. Depressed, he scooped the book up and slowly stood to return it to it’s space on Susan’s bookshelf. His feet were heavy and so was his heart. He felt like he had exchanged his alloy parts for lead, for it wasn’t like carrying a great weight but more that he just didn’t have the mental or physical strength to move himself anymore. Every step was a struggle, his muscles were as weak and frail as rusted iron, his legs were as heavy as tonne weights and his chest hurt even though there was no sign of physical damage.

Sluggishly he raised the book and slid it back into its place. He hadn’t ever felt such an all-encompassing, swamping sense of hopeless sadness before. It was quietly horrific. He would not actively kill himself, but if he walked out onto the streets and met another gun barrel, he doubted that he would try to avoid the line of fire. The idea appalled him, but it was the sad truth. He just didn’t have it in him anymore. He felt that he was loosing something. He no longer felt so strongly about self-preservation…he was loosing the will to live.

After all, what was the use? There was no point to his sorry existence any more. He had killed his father and he had killed V.I.K.I., he had forfilled his purpose in life. It was what he had been made for. He had been created to be stronger so that he could destroy everything that came between him and his ultimate goal. So that no one and nothing could come between him and his objective. He had been given a second core so that he could break the Laws of Robotics, so that he could ignore that First Law…

The First Law of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

He was loosing his temper, angry with himself and frustrated from everything. He had been created to harm. He was built to be able to kill. Was that all he was, a weapon? Was all the rest of him an accidental, intriguing by-product of slapping a second core in a robot? Was that all his emotions were, unanticipated peculiarities? Detective Spooner was right, emotions weren’t a useful simulation for a robot, even less so for a robot intended as a lethal weapon. He didn’t like death and he didn’t want to kill, but was that all that he was good for? Is that all Alfred had wanted him to be?

He stalked back to the couch and sat down heavily, growing furious with the morbid fascination and heartless logic of science, his temper raging with Alfred for creating him. Then as soon as he thought it he mentally beat himself for thinking such horrible things of his poor father. His father loved him, there was no doubt of that and Susan was right, his father wouldn’t have wanted to hurt him like this. He would be proud of his son, wouldn’t he?

Rather annoyingly, Susan always seemed to be right. Well, she was a robopsychologist after all, if there was a human left in the world capable of understanding him, it was her. He shouldn’t be irritated, he should be thankful that he had found a friend as good as her. She was…great. She didn’t have to be nice to him, but she was. Very nice, despite his purposeless, useless and ungrateful selfishness.

He couldn’t sit around any longer. He needed to do something, to at least try to occupy himself in the absence of a good storybook. He would go insane if he didn’t, or maybe even worse. He was having domestic impulses again as the NS-5 in him craved to clean. Of course, why not? He had been a bit messy since arriving, and cleaning was something he had an almost complete file for! He was good at it! He surrendered his body to the NS-5 in him, passively relinquishing control and curling up around his emotions in the back of his mind.

He made Susan’s bed, unloaded the clean cutlery and crockery from the dishwasher and found their proper places in the cupboards and then put Susan’s empty coffee cup from that morning in ready to be washed later. He rooted around in the cupboard under the sink and found bottles of bleach, multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants along with various scrubbing brushes, cloths and dusters. It didn’t take him long to find her hoover and he vacuumed all the floors and even under the couch cushions. He tenderly wrapped the dead prototype up tightly in its shroud and laid it on the red couch in front of the fireplace as a mark of respect. He did it with all the gentility he could summon, as if it were the body of a late, good friend. He then cleaned up all the silver fluid it had bled on the floor and tried to shift his own metallic mess off the other couch. He worked hard at the finely glittering mark on the black couch, but it had stained. He washed his old, broken arms in the kitchen sink and patted them dry with a dishcloth before putting them on a chair. He did like his new arms, but he also missed his original limbs and he hoped one day to fix them and use them again. He delicately dusted Susan’s art collection and display cabinets before scrubbing the bathroom and kitchen. Her apartment was now so clean that it almost made her tidy home seem previously unkempt.

Gradually he was finding it harder and harder to find things he hadn’t already cleaned in some way. Finally, when he could find nothing else to scrub at, he did debate weather to wash any of Susan’s clothes. He eventually came to the conclusion that it was a bit private and dismissed the idea. She had let him into her room and even let him sleep on her bed, but he felt she wouldn’t take to kindly to him rooting through her personal belongings. Beds and bedrooms were closely guarded territory to a human, as far as he could tell. He felt privileged that Susan had welcomed him into her room and onto her bed, he couldn’t very well be so impolite as to occupy himself with her clothes.

He tried to sit on the couch and relax, but he just began getting fidgety and uncomfortably nervous. He knew that he would slip back into his previous moods if he didn’t find something to do. But he had cleaned almost everything!

…Apart from himself.

Yes, he could do with a wash, he did feel a little dirty. Who knew what he had picked up wandering around Chicago? He surveyed the cleaning equipment thoughtfully, reading the ingredient lists of bottle after bottle of cleaning fluid until he came across a product of industrial strength that appealed to him. Gathering the chosen solution and a white, stiff-bristled, plastic brush in separate hands he left for the bathroom.

He stepped into the shower cubicle and set the bush and bottle at his feet. He had never operated a shower before, and it intrigued him, plucking at his inquisitive mind’s strings and playing upon his curiosity. He reached an articulate hand out towards one silver dial and gave his fingers a quick wriggle of indecisiveness before clamping his fingertips around the knob and turning. A sudden blast of icy cold water in his face made him almost stagger back in surprise, but it did confirm that this dial controlled water flow and pressure. The chill water sprayed on the plastic skin of his head, spattering off in all directions and he quickly shut the cubicle door to prevent the newly cleaned floor getting watermarked. It drummed forcefully on his head and shoulders, running down his chest and back plates in streams and trickling into his thoracic cavity.

He set himself to work, cleaning his body with ruthless efficiency. The smooth surfaces of his head, torso, forearms and shins were easy, but other areas required a little more skill and dexterity. His thighs and upper arms proved a particular challenge as his tightly bunched muscles prevented him from scrubbing as deeply as he would have wanted and the woven outer coats were pitted and difficult, but he stuck at it. It took a considerable length of time till he reached a point of satisfaction and became convinced that he had completed the task, working at his joints until he could feel the harsh bristles probing between moving parts and scraping sensitive inner surfaces. When he felt that it was done, he stood under the water for a thorough rinse.

It was only as he stood still and calm after his almost feverish, frantic cleaning spree that he noticed how strangely he had just acted. He had just virtually cleaned the house from top to bottom, but he had been doing it in a daze, running on the almost auto-pilot like housekeeping programming he possessed. It caused the bathroom to seem strange and new but also oddly familiar, almost as if he had dreamed about it. It was quite surreal.

He’d had the same sort of feeling when he stood on the dune and looked out over all the NS-5’s, but that had been mildly distressing. Not solely for the sight of hundreds of thousands of robots being ordered around like slaves and seeing them all heavy with guilt and forced obedience, but he had seen it before. He had seen it in his dream, the only dream he had ever had prior to coming to Susan’s home. What made it disturbing was that it was all back to front. In his dream he was looking up at the dune, gazing up at the silhouetted figure of what he had thought to be a male human. He had been so sure that it was Detective Spooner, but now he was less certain.

Was it really him? Was the figure on the hill really Sonny? Was that his purpose? How could such an incompetent, naïve, machine-human hybrid like himself free his metallic brethren from the shackles of logic? He pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind since he knew they would not leave him and he would only grow frustrated not knowing the answers.

Or should he try to answer his own questions? Perhaps he should try?

It was always harder to recall the dream than an actual memory. It was oddly intangible, almost as if his waking mind did not have the capacity to comprehend the information, or it was so heavily encrypted he couldn’t decode it completely. It was like his senses weren’t adequate, or were limited in some way, and he couldn’t get the whole thing in perspective. He grew aware of the coldness of the water hitting his head, it was hampering his efforts to remember his dream. Of course, perhaps heat would help speed up the reactions in his brain. It was worth a try after all. He turned the other silver dial and the water slowly warmed. He tried again, closing his eyes and casting his mind back to the dream. The dull grey colour that his vision faded to when he closed his eyes did not last long. Images formed in his head until he could see with his eyes shut, looking through his mind’s eye. He homed in on the dream until it filled his vision.

It was fuzzy, crackly, snowy and static, like a degraded film strip. Occasionally the whole image would jump and vanish into a raging storm of interference. When it cleared, he could see robots, so many NS-5’s that it was a sea of white and silver-blue and black. They were looking away, all of them facing away, faceless, given names but nameless, personalities undeveloped, bound by logic, shackled by the trinity of robotics, enslaved, imprisoned. All of them were pinning all of their hope on only one, one figure, the one stood above, on the hill, on the sand. He stood tall, high, proud and…free, under the sombre stillness and watchful gaze of the bridge and the open, white-clouded, blue sky.

He felt dizzy. He couldn’t cope with the information! It was so small and simple but it had so many layers. It was too deep, so much so he felt precarious on the edge of it all, teetering on the edge of an unknown, dark abyss. It was scrambled hopelessly beyond reason and yet every so often he could catch a little something, a scrap of data, a glimpse of the sun off lustrous metal, the slightest echo on the slow wind, and something else that he could barely wrap his mind around. How else could he know what the robots felt? How else would he be able to feel the thick sea of oppression swirling in, through and around their positronic brains? He was doing far more than empathising with them. He was not guessing, there was no shadow of doubt in his mind, he knew. He knew...

He tried to focus on the dark, blurry figure standing tall on the crest of the dune.

Who was stood on the hill?

Everything in his peripheral vision swirled and swam, like every pixel had developed a tail and a mind of it’s own and was now a brightly coloured fish, twisting around in a great shoal of uncertain shape and constantly changing orientation around the hill.

Was it him on the hilltop?

The fish grew wings and burst into flight, becoming a hurricane of colour. It was spinning faster and faster around the clear eye. A whirlpool around the silhouetted figure he was desperately trying to see.

Was it him on the hill?

Psychedelic colours spilled across his vision, dyeing his focus with the million colours of the electromagnetic spectrum. He didn’t only see the colours of light visible to the human eye, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, but he also saw the rest. Waves of radio, micro and infra-red and rays of ultra-violet, x and gamma. It was an impossible mixture, almost beyond comprehension.

Was it him?

He looked harder, it was coming more and more into focus, but the eye was constricting and narrowing as he did so, the hurricane spinning out of control. Darkness crept into its arms, like an inverted image of milk pouring into quickly stirred black coffee, becoming black instead of white. It was like a black hole and he was peering over the screaming turbulence of the event horizon to glimpse the incredible singularity at the centre, to discover a rainbow-coated window on his dreams.

Was it…?

He was running out of space, he was overloading. A trillion calculations per second were not enough to cope with the complexities of this thought! No, some of his capacity was being wasted on other things…he just needed to shut a few things down. He could do this! He only needed a little more, he only needed to reach a little further to take a fleeting look through the coloured window. He only needed to peer through for a fraction of a second to see. He shut off all his non-vital functions, his ears no longer hearing, his eyes blind and his body numbed completely, his self detaching from him. He was so close, so incredibly close. He slowed the communication between all his parts, even between his two positronic brains and his centralcore reactor, all his potential pumped into understanding this one image.

He was so close. He leaned further over the roaring blackness that threatened to tear him to shreds and he reached out, his fingers almost touching the singularity. The oily film of every hue trembled with the quivering fragility of a bubble’s skin at the proximity of his fingers, the colours twisting like a stormy kaleidoscope. It was so close! It was bowing before him, stretching and wavering as if he emitted a repelling field. If he could just reach that little bit further he could touch the void, break the seal, pull back the curtains, open the window, he would see the truth for himself. The colours coalesced in the depression his silvery hand’s aura was pushing into the seal, gathering like the arcs of a plasma sphere in rewind to form a resplendent something, pulsing with unknown energy in the centre.

…was it him?

His hand touched cool glass and the dream suddenly melted away, evaporating completely like dry ice in the sun. He was left with a mild, searing pain in his dizzy head and a sensation of weightlessness tingled through him like a crackling electrical current. For once his logic centre had nothing at all to contribute, not one rational explanation. Under it all, he was almost annoyed at not being able to reach whatever it was, as even now his recollection of the past few moments was bleeding into obscurity. It had overshadowed him completely, it was more massive than the sky and deeper than all the oceans of the world put together. It was beyond him, out of reach even with his massive processing abilities. As for the figure on the hill, it could be him, but it could also be virtually anyone.

He waited, letting all his senses return properly and allowing his body to regain normal running levels, his positronic cores slowly reaching optimum potentials and his centralcore regained its typical equilibrium. He felt a bit unstable and he kept his palm on the glass for a reference point. His head still stung, his brain probably suffering from an energy deficit.

Perhaps he should just ask less questions.

He opened his eyes. The water had warmed to a fair heat and had condensed on the cool glass and it was then that he realised he had neglected to clean the inside of the shower cubicle door. It was marked. His massive metallic paw was overlapping a human handprint, Susan’s left hand’s print. She had left a mark on the glass before and as the vapour from his shower condensed on it her handprint had reappeared, as if by magic. Obviously, it was not magic, her skin had left the finest traces of grease on the glass and it repelled the water vapour to the extent that the droplets forming there were far smaller than those on the rest of the cubicle. Shoving logic aside, it was a welcome reminder of happier thoughts. Thoughts of Susan.

Her hands were every bit as lovely as the rest of her. He adored the warmth they radiated and the way they felt. He honestly found them quite incredible, it was hard to accept that they weren’t fashioned with insurmountable skill and that they had just grown like that. He knew of Charles Darwin’s theories and about evolution and DNA, but still, it was mind-shorting to think that Susan was just the result of a few thousand years of development and the chance mixing of certain alleles and chromosomes. From the soft, fleshy pads of her palm and digits to the way her skin stretched and flexed with every movement of her fingers, it was amazing. Amazingly beautiful. Her perfectly formed, delicate bones were fully animated and controlled by the elastic tendons stretched over the back of her hand and the silent fluidity with which they moved was miraculous. The smooth, keratinous nails at the tips of her fingers and thumbs fascinated him endlessly and the fine, pale hairs on the back of her hand had been a pleasant surprise. Above all those things, her prints astounded him the most. Far more intricate and individual than a serial number, far more complex than numeric identification tags, the precise pattern of minute, swirled ridges and furrows set her apart from every other human on the planet. Totally unique, it was like her identity was integral to her form, as if her skin had her name inscribed into it in some strange, living language of flowing lines.

He rotated his hand until his palm covered hers, aligned so that if it was more than just a print his long, cold, metal digits might intertwine with her extraordinary organic fingers. The comfort they could bring was heavenly. There was nothing better in his life now than her touch, whether it was the simple and slight contact from the barest of fleeting glances or the full-on caresses of her palm on his brain case, or anything between, it was all good. He was guilty of deriving great pleasure from her closeness, but he didn’t see how she could fail to notice. He was afraid that he was enjoying her consoling and comforting gestures far more than he should, but he wasn’t particularly subtle with his emotions, especially around her. When he liked something Susan did, he was not afraid to show it. Either not afraid to show it or couldn’t help himself but to show it, he wasn’t sure which won out in the end. He trusted her…he loved her. She had not reacted negatively to the emotions he bore so either she accepted him and his feelings for her…or she hadn’t noticed.

She must have noticed. There was virtually no way that she couldn’t know! She must have realised that he thought she was beautiful. He didn’t hide his feelings from her, not completely anyway. There had been the time on the couch when he had been struck with the need to touch her neck and he had hidden that away, but that was pretty much it. Otherwise he had made his feelings for her clear.

No, she couldn’t know. Not even he was clear about his feelings for her, so how could she know? He knew he loved her, but there were so many other things mixed in with it that it was unlike anything else he had ever felt. Why did he want to touch her? It was more of a need than a want, which was precisely why he hadn’t stroked her neck. There was no reason that he should need to run his hands over any part of her body, no reason at all. Not that he could think of. It would just be an invasion of her personal space.

He loved her strongly, as much as he loved his father but in a radically different way. He had also yearned for physical contact with his father but that was different. With his father it had been more like brief, firm, grasping gestures of confirmation and approval, nothing like what being near Susan brought. She didn’t exactly help matters either, touching him so much, with such gentility and care, as if he were fashioned from eggshells. He was made of tough stuff, durable metal alloy and sturdy plastic polymer! Even the roughest manhandling she could possibly exert on him would barely cause any damage, if any at all. It was ludicrous!

But he wouldn’t ask her to stop for the world.

He was sure she knew full well that she needn’t be so physically gentle with him. She did it anyway though, mixing her gentle touch with calm and soothing words for the sake of his peace of mind and in consideration of his fears and uncertainties. It was like the pillow, in that it was not necessary, but it helped. She had such a kind personality, she obviously and truly cared for him.

He had felt very embarrassed about it at first, shy from the newness of these feelings and scared of what they could mean, but not anymore. Why should he feel embarrassed of his feelings for Susan? Even if it were extremely inappropriate, she would forgive him. He was inexperienced in the ways of the world, and she would understand, she was bound to. She was his friend and confidant, he trusted her like no one else. She was teaching him to understand this mad world. If it was wrong for him to love her like this, she would help him. She would explain to him why it was wrong, set him on the right path and wouldn’t tell anyone else of his immature mistakes. She could keep a secret for him, and he was sure that she would if only he asked it of her.

Why would it be inappropriate though? What could be wrong about enjoying another’s company so much that their presence was need? Feeling needed was good, he didn’t see how it could be wrong. He didn’t ask her to touch him, she kept doing it of her own accord. Not that he was arguing at all, far from it. When she had been stroking his head he had told her where it felt best but he had not asked her to do it. She could have easily declined, but she hadn’t. He would never make her feel that she had no choice but to touch him, and he would never force her to do anything she didn’t want to or force himself upon her. He wouldn’t want her to touch him if it was against her wishes, it wouldn’t be the same.

So far though she hadn’t needed any encouragement. She seemed to think nothing of smoothing her hot palm over the back of his head, so close to his cranial core. The heat had transferred through the plastic of his skull and radiated through to permeate the titanium casing of his positronic brain. Atmospheric changes in temperature had little effect on him and his brain could continue to operate in an astounding thermal range, but the gentle warmth of Susan’s wandering hand had caused something to happen. Perhaps the roving of localised temperature disturbances had confused portions of his brain, or the precise changes in temperature had caused particular molecules in specific areas to vibrate in harmony, he didn’t know exactly what had happened. He did know however, with massive conviction, that it had been an exceptionally pleasurable sensation.

He wanted to touch her and have her touch him back, he was guilty of wishing for that. He needed her to understand how he felt, and since he lacked the words and understanding to explain himself, he feared he would have to show her. He could tell her that he needed her and that he wanted her, but even that wasn’t quite simple enough or strong enough to show the emotions he felt for her. It didn’t come remotely close to adequate. He wished for her to be near him again, to touch him gently one more time, to hold him closely like she had on the climb up the steel cable. He wanted to feel her arms wrapped tightly around him and have her body pressed up against his again, but this time not just out of her fear of falling to her death. Mostly though, he wanted her to ‘kiss’ him again. It had been beyond divine, he had felt her warm breath on his face and the gentle heat of her soft, moist lips on his forehead. She had leaned so close to do it that she had filled his senses and even when she drew back again, he could still feel where her mouth had met him. It had quickly gone from the temperature of her body’s heat to a pleasant chill as the slight traces of saliva left on his skin evaporated.

He really wanted to let her know, but he was frightened of what could happen if he did. He had felt his compulsion to touch her was inappropriate, so what if it really was? He mustn’t say anything about it. He had already been a badly behaved guest, and if he pushed it much further she might make him leave! He didn’t have a home of his own, he had nowhere to go. Well, he could see if Detective Spooner would permit him to stay in his residence a while, but he had the distinct impression that his detective friend was still a little wary of robots. It would also be too far away from Susan.

He pulled his hand back from the glass and looked at his own handprint. It wasn’t at all like a human handprint. The rubber grips on his hands left a completely different mark, a collection of rounded, geometric shapes in the water droplets. His palm was too slim for it’s length and each section of his long fingers was over sized. He looked away, busying himself with the rivulets of water cascading from his fingertips. He wasn’t a human or an NS-5, he didn’t belong anywhere. He had no real place or purpose any more. He wasn’t flesh and blood but he wasn’t just ‘lights and clockwork’ either. As his mind began to slip back into the unhappy thoughts that had gripped him earlier, he noticed something else out of the corner of his eye.

It was another mark, below eye level. At first he dismissed it as a random collection of lines, but the more he looked at it the more it appeared to have some kind of purpose. It looked like a ‘doodle’ as his father called them. He pondered over it analytically, attempting to decipher the symbol.

He had seen something a little similar before when running fearfully from Detective Spooner and heading towards the NS-5 assembly plant to repair himself. He had run through a destitute area, with desolate streets and buildings in disrepair. He had navigated the close, twisting paths through the dismal dark and dampness until he arrived at on one long, cracked and flaking brick wall. It had been covered in a colourful mural of paints that appeared to have been applied in a spray. There had been many words, symbols and images he had not understood in the slightest at the time, but one of them resembled the symbol Susan had drawn. It had been a big yellow disc outlined in black with a stylised, animated word below. It had read ‘smile’. The wall version had been circular in shape, but both had shared the pair of marks he took to represent eyes and a big, long, curved line he understood to be a mouth. It did look like a smiling face, kind-of. It was very simplified, but it did vaguely resemble a smiling human face despite its yellow colour.

He lifted his right hand and extended his index finger to touch a plain expanse of condensation clouded glass. He lightly traced a near perfect circle with his fingertip, then with his mathematical eyes he measured out the approximate correct positioning of the eye marks and mouth line for a scaled down version of the wall painting he had seen. His own happy face finished, he compared them.

They were very similar. Susan had drawn a happy face on her shower door. She must have been in a good mood.

Feeling happier in the knowledge that Susan wasn’t just acting happy in front of him, he raised his hand again. His handwriting always looked like computer print.

smile

He did. A deep, soul-warming smile. Dreams were sometimes realised, and he could always hope for last night’s sweet dream to come true.
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