Chapter: 15) The Morning After The Night Before
Fandom: I, Robot
Warnings: fic contains robot/human relationship, religious referances, alcoholism, suicide, depression, nudity, swearing, sexual encounters.
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.
Her eyes burned and the light was vicious. She felt sick to the pit of her stomach and her head swam incoherently whilst screaming with dehydration. It felt like her brain was shrivelling up and peeling away from the inside of her skull but exploding with the negative pressure all at once. Her throat was so dry she didn’t dare moan despite the discomfort, as the air would only tear at her desiccated vocal chords. She wanted to retreat back into the painless nothingness of that drunken, dreamless slumber that verged on a catatonic, comatose state, but she needed to drink.
Either chase the pain away with more alcohol, remedy it with several pints of water or just battle it with liberal amounts of caffeine-loaded coffee, she didn’t care. She just wanted it to go away.
Her eyes were so dry and gummy. All the moisture in them seemed to have coagulated and clotted into a concentrated, thick, viscous, glutinous paste that stuck her eyelids shut. Her eyelashes felt matted together and they probably were. It hurt to open her eyes, and when open they hurt. She burrowed her head deep into her bedding, shunning the light that scratched at her retinas like impatient claws.
She knew she wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. She was just so painfully hung-over and uncomfortable. Her skin was sticky and clammy from sweat. Her face was taught from sleeping in makeup and the corner of her lips felt crusted with dried saliva. Her hair was greasy and matted. Her sinuses felt congested and her bruised body ached to the bone. She had fallen asleep in her clothes and they were twisted around her like constricting ropes tied far too tightly. The mattress felt hard and lumpy under her, and she could smell the mingled stink of herself and Southern Comfort.
She needed a shower. Desperately. The thought of leaning against the cool, smooth tiles of her shower cubicle under the soothing fall of water droplets appealed to her so strongly she felt herself slowly waking up. She could barely imagine how fantastically refreshing the scent of revitalising shower gel would smell. Glorious H2O. Rehydration was her salvation.
Susan groaned, the sound more of a pitiful, broken squeak than anything as she brought a hand up to rub her forehead and massage her temple. How much had she drank? God, she felt awful. With every degree of consciousness that she regained and the more she roused herself, the more irritating her headache became and the stiffer she felt. She felt confused too, some alcohol must have lingered in her bloodstream. She felt a little drunk still.
She stretched her arms and neck, trying to loosen her muscles.
Her bed moved.
She lay still, trying to think. That made no sense…
There was the gentle whirr of machinery and a hum of positronic operations. Muscle cords flexed beneath her head and neck and metal fingers stroked her forearm which was draped over a cotton-dressed chest plate. She could smell robot oil…and taste its residue on her tongue…
Oh God no…
She couldn’t remember…what had happened? …What had she done? God no. The room was rank with a long-unfamiliar but unmistakable smell. Her bedroom smelled for all the world like sex. It couldn’t be… and yet, it could. It was. She didn’t know whether to break up in maniacal laughter or break down in hysteric tears.
She threw herself out of bed with a force she didn’t know she had, driven by raw panic and each contraction of her muscles teetered on the brink of convulsion. Coming to a frozen halt against her wardrobe, she fearfully surveyed the scene with wide eyes and nervously tucked lank strings of hair behind her ear.
Her clothes were scattered across her bedroom floor, strewn and creased…hastily discarded. Thrown carelessly aside as afterthoughts, no, thoughtlessly in complete disregard of morality or reason. What of her previously classy ensemble that remained on her body was also crumpled but hung off her, half-removed but crudely left unfinished. A job half-done in her selfishness, her shirt was unbuttoned half way. One bra strap hung almost to her elbow and her gaping shirt exposed her shoulder and almost her breast too. She scrabbled at the fabric with one hand to hastily cover herself up in an effort to regain a semblance of decency, but she couldn’t ignore how sickeningly twisted and uncomfortably misplaced her underwear was.
Sonny was amongst the ruffled bedcovers, slowly rising to prop himself up with his arms. The black trousers and shirt he still wore were deeply crumpled and disordered from hours of lying entangled with a hot, sweaty human body. His robotic neatness spoiled from sleeping with her.
Her brain refused to accept the evidence, her head just stopped working save for a repeating chant of a screamed ‘No!’ begging and praying for time to be undone. Her gaze flicked to the near-empty bottle beside her clock and cursed herself for her crass stupidity. She couldn’t remember much, but enough to know what must have transpired and feel repulsed by her revoltingly base, uninhibited vileness. There was no mistaking the smell that she couldn’t rid her nostrils of despite exhaling repeatedly or the sloppily satiated feeling in her flesh. The scent of fine oil sickeningly tainted by human grime and the awakened sensation in her sexual organs.
What the hell had she done!? She could just about recall sizing him up like prey, lustfully leering at him over a bottle in front of the fire, fantasising about touching, feeling, tasting him. She had drank that much, so much as to loose her inhibitions. What had happened was obvious. And disgusting.
She couldn’t look directly at him, crippled with guilt, but she could tell he was confused. The way he sat there, unsure and afraid. Used and abused. He had been so pure and untainted. What had she done to him? God alone knew what he was thinking…
He was so young and so naieve, he didn’t understand the full extent of the darkness of humanity. He didn’t understand, he was like a child in his inexperienced perception of the world. She was supposed to be looking after him as a friend or guardian in his father’s stead, not… not taking advantage of his innocence and robbing him of his purity! His young life had already been thrown into disarray from the untimely death of his father and been forced into hiding. The people he’d fought to save from a robotic dictatorship had shot him. He had played a pivotal role in assisting his father’s suicide. She couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain and strife he suffered inside and rather than countering it, she was adding to it. She had sullied him in a selfish bid to see her own irrelevant needs and wanton desires met.
She was thoroughly disgusted with herself, her stomach wrenching with painful contortions. She could feel vomit threatening to rise up the back of her throat and darted for the door, running to the bathroom and locking herself in. She kneeled over the white bowl as a precaution and instinctively brought a hand up to cover her mouth. Unfortunately, that action proved to be the final blow to her writhing stomach as she smelt herself on her fingers and was overcome with a seizing shiver of dizzying self-loathing. Her stomach heaved up clear, acidic bile and she choked dryly once her empty stomach ran out of content to rid itself of. She was shaking and coughing when there was a soft knock at the door.
“Susan? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” She choked with fearful aggression. He kept asking her that one question. Even he with his limited knowledge recognised the anomalous, irregular and deeply disturbed behaviour she was exhibiting. She was going insane.
She had to put a stop to this.
There was a glass beside the sink and she poured herself a glass of water as she studied her reflection. Dark smudges and streaks lead from her eyes and over her cheeks, the residue of dilute mascara. Evidently she had cried, though she couldn’t remember when or why. She shuddered involuntarily, cringing at herself. She was truly slipping and sliding down the oiled slope of mental instability, and to her frustration, she hadn’t a clue how to stop herself. She was becoming emotional, her feelings running high and caution was being thrown to the wind. This had to stop, she was loosing herself, loosing control.
She began washing her face, trying to regain her coldly analytical approach. Trying to process the current situation from a sensible standpoint and come to a workable conclusion that she could use to solve her problem.
She couldn’t do it. Her highly strung emotions flooded her brain. She couldn’t get away from what had happened. She had abused Sonny! She had completely abused his trust in her. She had known that an attraction was beginning to pull her closer to him, but she had vastly overestimated her integrity and underestimated the strength of the wretched instinct inside her.
Her hands were shaking uncontrollably as she wiped at the remains on her face with a rapidly dirtying flannel. She had kept him in her home, stalking him and…and drooling over him with less than noble intent. She had been salivating over him like a hungry wolf, interested almost solely in getting what she wanted. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was the sly, cunning and conniving manner in which she did it, disguising her true intent and colours with falsities and lies. She wasn’t looking out for Sonny’s safety or best interests at all! She was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She had treated him like an object.
She stripped off her clothes and climbed into the shower, turning the heat up and scrubbing blindly at her skin to rid herself of the feelings in her. Burning herself numb and rubbing herself raw, but it was no use. She couldn’t shake the fact that she was a lecherous, sordid beast.
In the small, secluded cubicle with only the hiss of the pattering water to occupy her senses, her mind began to work in overdrive, her imagination running wild. Aside for what implications her actions had on Sonny as an individual, there was the deeply disturbing fact that he was essentially an NS-5. She had displayed incredibly perverse behaviour, completely twisted and unnatural placement of physical attraction. She had violated herself too, contradicting her contract. Gross misconduct and blatant abuse of a positronic system… fear was overpowering her. If anyone learned of what she had done… they would think her to be mad. No, she had taken a robot to bed as a sexual partner, she was mad.. Touted as a crackpot, she would be branded a lunatic and no other organisation would take her. Her past research papers would be discredited and her future works would be disregarded and undermined… the implications… she would be drummed out of the profession, never to return.
It was his fault! He led her on! It was not as if she could force herself upon him against his wishes, that was impossible with his strength. He was manipulating her. He was not just any ordinary robot, something that she knew through and through. This insanity had only started with his arrival into her home, even into her life. Before him her life was simple and controlled. Now it was all a complete mess and Sonny was, conveniently, the only one she could turn to. She hadn’t realised because he had a robot’s looks, and they were something that she trusted without a second thought or a single doubt. But he was different, he had the capacity for emotion and all the wants and desires that came with it. He plied her with niceties and eased himself closer. He was as untrustworthy as any man, using his impressive strength, divinely handsome looks and clear, crystal-blue eyes to turn her into a dithering idiot.
She was angry. Furious even, steadily knotting her thoughts into a burning ball of blinding indiscriminate hate without a true focus. She hated Sonny for what he did to her. She hated Alfred for what he had filled this NS-5 shell with. She hated V.I.K.I. for damaging the growing human sentimentalism for robots on Earth. She hated USR for destroying the public’s sense of national security and inciting panic with a lie to save face. She hated Del for being so stupidly right about robotics, managing to correctly guess that Lanning’s Laws’ based Robotic Psychology was fallible without so much as an inkling about positronics.
But Susan hated herself more. She hated herself for letting this happen. She had neglected her friendship with Alfred and been oblivious to his plight, she had shown arrogant irresponsibility in her monitoring of V.I.K.I. and allowed herself to develop and harbour feelings towards this unusual man-robot. As ridiculous as it sounded, Del was not the complete idiot she had banded him as, and she probably was the dumbest ‘smart’ person he had ever met. How depressingly true it was. Despite all of her academic achievements she was still a total fool.
This could only be her fault, and now she stood to loose all that he had made of herself.
As she wrung out her hair, she noticed her ghostly handprint from before, echoed by an inhumanly geometric print. The two makings opposite in nature, together on the glass, shadowy fingers almost intertwined, and the haziest relics of forgotten memories from last night rolled just beneath the surface of her subconscious. Tantalisingly just out of reach for her panicked, stressed mind to grasp, she just felt a feeling, a forgotten breath lying in her chest and the faintest of warm glows…
‘smile’, was written perfectly in a sweetly personalised font style.
She suddenly smeared her hands over the images, sweeping waves of water over them to wash them from her thoughts before leaping from the shower. She felt angry. Or frightened. Or both maybe, or neither, or just confused, but she knew she didn’t like it one bit. It had to change.
With a towel wrapped around her body and her face set with grim, iron determination she emerged from her bathroom and marched to her bedroom. Sonny wasn’t present, and neither was her bed linen but she barely gave it half a thought. She concentrated on her task with acid-etched precision, rifling through her clothes and dressing herself for work with a robotic coldness to everything else.
Sonny loaded the washing machine with Susan’s alcohol-soaked bedding, taking a moment longer than would normally be necessary to ponder the why’s and how’s of the buttons and dials. He was working out the appliance’s operations, but he was worrying at the same time. Worrying considerably.
Susan had begun waking up so slowly and gently, nestled to his side. She was gradually roused by the light of day filtering through the curtain’s weave, holding him tighter and nuzzling her head against his neck whilst murmuring meaningless, peaceful protests against the sun.
He had felt so much joy at her waking. He hadn’t slept a wink and the night had passed so slowly as his busied mind worked in overdrive to try to answer his own questions. He felt…proud of himself. Accomplished at having alleviated Susan’s suffering, or at least helped to ease her pain. It had felt so good to feel capable, to genuinely feel useful again. He didn’t feel like a hindrance.
And she had felt heavenly. Dear, sweet Susan, her body was so tender and her skin had burned with all that unrestrained emotion. He had been overwhelmed by her, taken by surprise by her, smothered by so much heavily focused attention that he had been unable to move. He had become lost in all the strangely charged caresses and fallen deep into a carefree sea of thoughtlessly relaxing enjoyment. Susan… had swallowed him whole.
Crouched on the floor before the machine as it smoothly began its cycle, Sonny remembered. He recalled her kiss, those full lips that moulded to his own with anything and everything from firm force to divine delicacy. And then there was her tongue… hot, wet, molten and so mobile, exploring every corner of his oral cavity and dancing so intensely pleasurably over every component inside him.
He brought two fingertips up to his mouth as his mind wandered blindly and he gently traced the smooth shapes of his plastic lips… remembering…feeling an anxious tightening in his chest as his secondary core spun with anticipative excitement. It had felt incredible… completely unlike the sensation of his rubberized pads and cold, hard fingers which drew him from his trance and shattered his pleasant daydream.
Sonny rose to his feet, deciding to make breakfast for Susan as a peace offering as he returned to his worries. It had all been so good, but he was learning that with the good came the bad. There was such a thing as something being too good, too good to be true or to last.
When she woke fully she couldn’t get away from him fast enough. She virtually threw herself away from him in horror and disgust before tearing off through her apartment to escape his presence. It had happened so suddenly that he’d been confused at first, but he should have come to expect that reaction. He should have known it would happen, but it still hurt. It made him ache that she fled from him, and the way he continued to repel her was pure agony. He’d been compelled to follow her, drawn to her without any logical reason, as was proven by her harsh response from beyond the bathroom door, but he couldn’t help himself. All he wanted in the whole world was her, even if it was just to be in the same room as her with no fear of her running from him.
And yet, that wasn’t true. Deep down, Sonny wanted more than that. He placed making Susan’s coffee on hold as he looked at the palm of his hand, the hand that Susan had guided across her naked flesh the night before.
He wanted her in so many strange ways it was beyond his comprehension. He felt so strongly for her it was on a par with the love he held for his father, but it was so different. Every time she came near him minutes passed so quickly, yet when she was gone, each and every nanosecond lingered for eternity. Time flew away like a fickle bird when he needed more, and when he wished for time to pass quickly it circled overhead, mocking him. He didn’t understand the effect Susan had on him, only that she had an effect on him like no other.
But with her proximity came the tantalising possibility of further delights. He had liked being in her presence, but then she had spoken to him, so calmly and precisely with such sweetness. From that simple pleasure she had shown him greater, touching him gently. Consoling him, kissing him, and then there was last night. There had been an unprecedented deepening of intimacy between them, one he could scarcely have ever hoped to conjure from his imagination. It had shocked him profoundly and nearly overloaded his processors at the time, stunning him into a muted, paralyzed state of shock that ground his thoughts to a standstill. He had frozen like an ancient computer given too much too quickly. But it had been all good. Indescribably good.
He flexed his fingers gently with the memory of how her breast had felt in his hand running high in his mind.
He didn’t know what he wanted, but he knew he needed more.
But that was never to come if he continued to spark fear in her, so he completed Susan’s toast and coffee, leaving them on the counter for her to find and consume at her discretion. He wanted to give her as much space and time to herself as he could physically manage so that she could calm down and regulate her fears. She needed some peace, so he retired to the sofa to hide quietly.
Susan marched from her bedroom fully dressed for work bar her sliver blue coat. She wasn’t expected to attend today, but it wasn’t unlike her to work even when it wasn’t strictly necessary, and it wasn’t like there wouldn’t be enough work to go round at the moment. There would most certainly be something for her to do.
Rounding the corner into the kitchen with a busy mind, she was surprised to see breakfast waiting for her on the countertop and bed linen whirling and churning away inside her washer’s door. Sonny had made breakfast for her and set about cleaning her bed. In other circumstances she knew she would have been pleased that he wanted to help her, but all she felt was further enraged. She was quite and completely able to take care of herself. She didn’t need him. She wasn’t dependant on him in any way.
Still, her logic reasoned that coffee was coffee regardless of who prepared it, and it would be a waste of perfectly good coffee, time and energy to refuse to drink what was left for her like bait. Bait. Yes, it really was like that, wasn’t it?
Like a trail of breadcrumbs.
She slammed the mug back down on the counter, blistering with fury. She had been such a fool. It ended here.
“SONNY?” She roared over her shoulder, pausing long enough to instil a sense of dread in the untrustworthy mechanical menace but cutting in before he had any chance of responding. “Get yourself ready. We’re going out.”
She stalked through to the couch to fetch her work boots, finding Sonny standing nervously in the middle of the room, wringing his hands for all he was worth. “Wh… where are we going?” He stuttered.
“Didn’t you hear me?” She spat viciously. “Get. Yourself. Ready!”
He flinched into motion, scrabbling away like a cringing dog. It was insulting, the way he meekly snivelled around, playing up to her, pretending to be afraid. He was capable of everything a man was and far more, what did he honestly have to fear from her? She had a tongue as sharp as steel and a bitterly aggressive temper, but she was so weak in comparison that it wasn’t even funny. Her body was thin and frail, his was robust and powerful. He was truly made of steel and he was Unsafe.
It was she who should be filled with fear.
But she was. She was terrified.
Sonny cautiously entered the TV room, creeping about in his huge, black boots as if the laminate floor had been exchanged for one made of eggshells. Susan was at the far end of the room, just getting her coat on but doing it so frightfully. Every one of her movements was short, sharp and aggressive. He had never seen her so appallingly angry before, ever. He just wanted to become invisible, to have her not see him and treat him so cruelly.
She looked up and he froze, his positronic pathways clenching and his muscles bracing as if expecting a high velocity impact.
“Hurry up.” She hissed, scowling at him in a way that hurt like a bullet in his chest before she strode out of the room.
He was on the verge of shaking with emotional trauma and confusion as he hastily wrapped his scarf around his neck and his hat on his head. He couldn’t concentrate on anything and his glasses stubbornly refused to hide his eyes. This was so cruel of Susan! He hadn’t done anything to deserve this, had he?
He was so very afraid. It was broad daylight and Susan wasn’t giving him enough time to hide himself properly. He needed to colour his skin like a human, and draw on his eyebrows but she wouldn’t let him! She was going to drag him out into the open and show everyone exactly what he was. They would surely see him with hatred! They would kill him! He didn’t want to die under a swamping mob of furious humans, baying like hunting hounds for his proverbial but nonetheless non existent blood. He didn’t want to die!
He heard Susan approaching him from behind and he spun to face her, backing away as she thrust something at his chest. A blanket and pillow, the ones she had let him borrow before, were brashly forced into his arms along with the book she had given him with such now unimaginable kindness the day before.
“Come.” Was the only word she uttered.
He stumbled after her down the corridor, clutching his belongings to his chest with one arm. His other hand was at his face, holding his scarf over his pale plastic features despite the paranoia he felt at the possibility of his metallic wrist peeking from his cuff. His shrouded eyes flitted nervously at every doorway, corner and camera as Susan marched him through the apartment block.
In the elevator he stood stock still with dizzying fear next to her, dreading the moment he put a finger wrong and angered her. He wanted to know what was wrong but he knew better than to ask. He jumped at her order to get in the car and listened in shock as she barked out her orders at the automobile’s automatic systems. He had never known her be so harsh.
The trip was a nightmare. His eyes wandered around, searching for an explanation from behind their protective, dark shield, looking for an answer that wasn’t there. He risked a glance at Susan’s face in the rear view mirror but didn’t see a familiar face. There was no warmth or friendliness in her eyes, they were an emotionless shade of brown too close to black. He was at a loss again to explain any of this, and spent the rest of the journey looking at his feet, his chest heavy with inadequacy and failure.
Del had just got up and was strolling around his apartment in his boxers, browsing the headlines of the tabloids and chewing his current mouthful of sugary cereal when there was a knock at his door.
He was expecting a delivery, hence why he was awake so early on a day without work. He had found a genuine Dreamcast console on e-bay, still in its original packaging and complete with five game titles for just under $600 the day after the NS-5 attacks. If nothing else, at least the attacks had distracted the big buyers on the online historic electrical goods scene long enough for him to be able to get a bid in edgeways.
Leaping to the door with juvenile excitement he pressed his face up to the spy hole…to not see a delivery robot or delivery boy, but a very grim looking Calvin with a face like thunder. Del shook his head in disappointment but hastily started unlocking the many bolts and fastenings as swiftly as he could with his one working arm.
He opened his mouth to say “Hey, what’s up?” or even “Hi, how’s it going?”, but before he could utter half a letter of anything Calvin stormed in through the barely open door, closely followed by Sonny, who pushed past Del as if the hounds of hell were snapping at his heels.
“Wha? Hey, it’s great to see you too…” Del stumbled backwards, quickly recovering from the shock of the unexpected invasion and feeling slightly uncomfortable wearing only his boxers and a plaster cast.
“Detective, I want you to look after Sonny. I’m going to be incredibly busy at work for the foreseeable future and so I may not be home much. He could do with your company.” She recited her message more like a walking answer phone recording than anything, finishing with a cold “Good day.”
Then, as suddenly as she had came, she left in a flurry of silver and blue leaving just the sharp echo of her heels on the tiled corridor. Well, that and the man-sized robot left standing on his front room rug looking as confused as he felt.
Del scratched the back his head as Sonny knotted his fingers into the bundle at his chest uncomfortably. He didn’t blame the guy, Sonny seemed to have found the last few seconds just as much of a surprise as he had.
“So, uh, what’s with hurricane Calvin his mornin’?” Del rediscovered his breakfast and started doing exactly what he had been doing before the unexpected delivery.
Sonny carefully took off his gasses and shook his head solemnly. “I don’t know.” He whispered almost with a lump in his throat. “Can I just go sit over there for a while, please?”
“Sure man, er, yeah,… no sure, knock yourself out. Not, literally…” Del mashed up his words awkwardly, still unable to feel completely ‘at home’ with an emotional robot.
Sonny skulked off to sit in the armchair, hugging the blanketed roll like a sad kid with a stuffed toy.
“Gonna be too busy my ass…” Del muttered under his breath. “What’s happened?” He used that serious tone he used at the precinct. “Calvin seemed real pissed.”
His electric blue eyes looked away. “I think she hates me.”
“Why? What did you do?”