Hello my lovelies!!! I hope you're enjoying the story so far. :) I bet you've all finally figured out what story I've pulled bits and pieces from to conjure this tale, but if you haven't keep guessing. I'm sure you'll get it this time around. Well, I'm off. Have a great day and leave me some love.
XOXO NIGHT TEMPEST
ALMOST HUMAN (PART 2)
For the next three months, Lawry slaved away in the basement. He mumbled to himself, reciting formulas from his original stored data, trying to replicate Gepetto’s calculations. Pin lay on his stomach, spread out on the work table, his back panel open to reveal his mainframe. Wires, tools, papers were scattered over every inch of the large basement station. Lawry had become a certified hermit. His appearance had certainly taken a beating too.
A scruffy un-tamed beard had filled in along his jaw, circles under his eyes, a tattered, velvet high-neck jacket and fitted trousers his uniform for the past three months. He was starting to look more like some nightmarish creature than a human. He was worrying the rest of the house.
Otis tried to coax him out with promises of sexy soldiers and fine wines, Malek offered him a luxury cruise around the Aru galaxy all expenses paid, Aurora tempted him with delicious home cooked meals from the door in hopes to make him come to her, but he would not be swayed. Pin had to wake up first. He had to open his eyes, to be born again before Lawry would leave his new home.
One day, Lawry was connecting the last of the fibrous nervous system to the mainframe when a sudden thought came to him. The DX3 chip was hooked up to a free floating touch board a few yards away, Lawry’s hand-scribbled numbers glowed red, suspended in the air. Putting down his tools slowly, the numbers jumped out at him, certain pieces of Gepetto’s half-finished formula writing itself in Lawry’s head.
“By the Gods!” He proclaimed, grabbing for his crutches in a flurry. Standing up, he shuffled over as fast as he could, his weight over to his good foot, his finger making changes on the board before he actually realized what he was doing. “Can’t believe I didn’t see this,” he whispered, flicking his pointer finger over the wavering touch board.
Parts of the formula were swirled about with a swish of his hand, the DX3 chip being the center of the calculation, the correct connection of the brain chip to the nerves being the problem. The replicated organs were in working order, each tested and put inside of Pin. A network consisting of thousands of tubes so small you could barely grip them ran throughout the body, a self-heating system consisting of a heat conducting liquid ran through the tubes—the blood of Gepetto’s creation.
It was all there—all, but this one series of rights and wrongs that he couldn’t seem to get right. Now the numbers made sense, a rush of adrenaline lighting up his body with excitement. Lawry backed away from the board slowly, because that was his only speed these days. His eyes wide, the Chief smiled so big he thought his face would break.
“Pin,” Lawry murmured to the face-down droid. “I cannot wait to meet you.”
Two weeks had passed since Lawry’s discovery. Fresh clothes were laid out on his bed. His face finally shaved. His hair was clean for the first time in weeks. He’d slept for two days, ate his fill in the kitchen. Lawry looked like himself and he felt better too.
Today was the day. Today would be Pin’s birthday as well as a historical event that the rest of the Universe would never know about, for Pin was to be a secret, a coveted prize that the Government would surely want their greedy hands on if they knew. Lawry would sooner die than let that happen. Aurora had entrusted him with Pin’s welfare, the Naja people were counting on him, Gepetto was watching him from somewhere—he just knew it.
Changing into a navy blue suit that glimmered with a silver sheen, Lawry admired his reflection. He wanted to look good. He smiled before thinking about what he was doing.
“For a droid?” Lawry caught himself mid button, looking into the mirror with confusion. Why was he dressing up for Pin?
“Mr. Kladah, it’s been a long time,” Otis said from the doorway, causing Lawry to jump. He leaned into the frame with his arms crossed over his chest, a smile on his lips. “Didn’t think you’d ever rise from the dead or the basement as the case is.”
He walked over to Lawry, slapped a hand to his back. “Seriously good to see you, L. We’ve missed you.”
The look on Otis’s face registered his sincerity with Lawry. He’d neglected his duties as a Chief, his friends and family, all for this moment. Was it worth all the trouble though? Was a hundred and fifty pounds of Syntax worth working himself to the bone? Placing a hand over Otis’s, Lawry smiled, yes. Yes it was.
“Missed you too.”
“Ah enough with this, it’s weird. Come along, Aurora was calling for you, but once again you were off in your own head.” Otis dragged him behind, heading out of the room and across the hall.
The small nook of a room was open, the stained glass door playing colors on the dark floor. This was to be Pin’s room.
Malek was tying long scarlet curtains to the side of the window, Aurora was adjusting a twin canopy bed in the corner—a monitoring system sleekly fitted into the head board. The Naja noticed Lawry and Otis in the doorway and smiled.
“Just in time, I think that about does it. What do you think, Lawry?” She raised her arms to show off their hard work. The once dusty nook of a room had been transformed.
A touch screen was off on the main wall, framed in a sleek ebony metal. Polished dark wood planks ran down the slope of the ceiling, a mobile like chandelier with a few dozen black ravens gave off a soft glow to the small space. Rich gold was carefully textured over the walls, setting off the blood red fabrics Aurora had chosen. The room was fit for his half machine prince.
“It’s all wonderful, every inch. Aurora, Otis, Malek, thank you, all of you.” Lawry smiled. He walked to the window, looking out to the wrought iron bars to the fog rolling around the grounds. Would Pin appreciate the room as well? Would he understand what it was to like or love? Gods, Lawry sighed, he hoped so.
“So? When are we going to wake him up?” Jemma’s tiny voice made them all turn around. She waved her little fingers at them shyly.
“Now.” Lawry crouched down. “Care for a lift, Ms. Jemma?”
She blushed, but nodded. Lawry extended his arms and like a gentlemen, let Jemma settle in before he stood. “Shall we?”
Aurora let the men go first, taking one last look at Pin’s room. The time was coming, she could feel it. Winter was upon the Fray and come spring, the droid she had hidden for so long, but had never known, wouldn’t need her anymore. His new guardian would care for him well and with that, she could rest easy. For spring was the perfect time to bring new life, to give up the old. Her eyelashes fluttered, blue bleeding across the green momentarily, the original pink of her skin glowed underneath the caramel façade.
She would stay in this skin for as long as she could to see her duty fulfilled, even if it was killing her.
Aurora coughed, her shifted appearance rippling back into place. With a deep breath, she smiled and adjusted her skirts. “Don’t you dare start without me!” She hurried after the men.
Catching up to the men and Jemma, they finished walking the long hall and came to a stop.
On the red velvet couch in the sitting room was Pin. Otis had taken to his wardrobe like a bee to honey, trending all the latest men’s fashion on the station for Pin’s closet. Currently he wore black skinny slacks with a white stripe up each long leg. A white button up against his creamy skin looked divine, a dark leather blazer with a thin red tie loosely hung around his neck. For a…man! A man, damn you Lawry. He looked sinful.
Pin’s black hair hung down across the eyes that were begging to be opened. With the hub key in hand, Lawry crossed the room to make that happen.
He set Jemma down, moving to sit next to Pin. The feeling was strange. Knowing he was about to bring to life this beautiful creature that would be smarter than any other computer in the world, yet have the innocence of a child, then hopefully—if all went according to plan—he’d eventually learn to be a real man. A late bloomer, Lawry smiled. His smile faded as he put his hand up Pin’s shirt, feeling along his soft back for the tiny plug. The key slid into place, Lawry locked it down, a panel of Syntex glided into place.
He moved to sit on the table before Pin. A soft humming noise cracked the silence, all of them holding their breath. Pin was booting up. This time would take the longest. He had never been turned on before. Lawry’s fingers dug into his knees. Maybe he had done it wrong. Maybe a wire was crossed or a fuse out of place. Gods, he was so nervous.
Then it happened. At first Lawry believed his self to be seeing things, but Pin’s finger tapped his knee again, followed by the rest of his fingers. They flexed towards Lawry as if stretching. Slowly standing, the Chief watched Pin roll his head around his shoulders like a human would do to get out the kinks. Long arms stretched above his head as Pin yawned.
He yawned! “Did he just?” Otis stepped forward with wide eyes.
“Yes,” Malek answered. The two shared a look before the retired Chief grabbed a chair to steady himself. Droids did not yawn, or breathe, or a lot of things.
“Wake up, Pin,” Aurora greeted their newest family member. Her soft voice reached something inside of the droid, his bright blue eyes slowly opening.
Lawry fell to his knees mesmerized—both with this breakthrough in droid technology and with the beauty of Pin’s gaze. He grabbed Pin’s warm hands, squeezing softly.
“Hello there,” Lawry whispered. “I am…”
Pin looked down, studying the man on his knees. His computer scanned the facial specs, a government picture registering in his system. Chief Lawry Jacobi Kladah, age thirty one, residence the Fray. The voice patterns were familiar to his stored memory from testing. A boost of chemical endorphin brought his emotions to an elevated level. Finally, he was seeing Lawry, his Lawry.
“Lawry,” Pin answered for him. He could feel his face pull into what was called a smile. This meant he was happy to see the Chief, a simulation for creating a welcoming environment in the human world.
“You know who I am?” Lawry’s jaw dropped. “But we’ve never met. This is the first time I…”
“I am sorry to interrupt you Lawry, but you are mistaken. My system registers we have stored your voice, smell, and information from twenty seven tests run in beta mode. We have met, many times.” Pin cocked his head, his wireless network reaching out to another. Another system was close by, one like him, but not one as advanced or updated.
“Well yes, but…what is it, Pin?” Lawry followed Pin’s line of sight. Simon stood next to Aurora with a blank expression, a tray of drinks in his hands.
“Model HK532, greetings,” Pin said to Simon who said nothing in return. “Lawry.” Pin looked down to him with a rather direct gaze. “I do not comprehend why HK532 does not respond. His voice system is fully functional.”
Lawry dropped his hands. This was going to be harder than he imagined. Pin was going to question everything. He wasn’t going to automatically get this world. He’d have to learn it, but more importantly, why wasn’t his personality card downloaded yet? Was he broken already?
“It’s because, he’s been programmed to answer his guardians. Security measures by the Government have restricted droid interaction between households unless they are used for services in public. So we had to update him last week to match the new standard.” Otis took a few steps forward. Actually, Simon had been reprogrammed that way to avoid slipping information to any officials that might come to the house. He was the Chief after all and this was for Pin’s safety.
“Doctor Otis Towers, greetings.” Pin stood, his movements were fluid, not restrictive like Simon’s. Lawry felt his heart break a little as Pin bypassed him to thrust a hand at Otis.
“Uh, greetings,” Otis put his hand forward hesitantly, looking to Lawry for permission. He nodded, turning away. Why wasn’t Pin interested in him like he’d thought? His personality was dry and computer efficient. All that time put into delicately crafting the DX3 chip to make Pin the perfect man was lost. He really was nothing more than a beautiful machine.
“Forgive me!” Pin suddenly shouted, his greetings miscalculated, his system so new. “Lawry,” he said looking to his guardian. “I forgot you were first. I apologize for my rude behavior. Dr. Otis, you must wait your turn.” Pin pulled his hand back.
“Oh, ok. I’ll wait.” Otis looked at Aurora with a shrug.
“I hope you are not upset with me, Lawry. My system was trying to calculate the right impression to make, but I’m afraid my memory chip containing my personality was not fully loaded yet. You were first.” Pin thrust his hand at Lawry. “Greetings, Lawry.”
“Hello, Pin.” Lawry stood, taking the male’s hand. A tiny shock pricked his palm making them both look down.
“Forgive me,” Pin whispered in horror. Horror was a term used to describe an emotion of absolute embarrassment or fear, terrified in some cases. He was terrified that he had hurt his guardian.
“Pin, it’s alright. I’m just fine.” Lawry slipped his other hand over Pin’s warm skin. “Just fine.”
“Are you certain?” His cheeks flushed, a temperature increase caused by the heat induced chemical running through his synthetic make-up.
Lawry sat them down on the couch. “Yes, Pin. How are you feeling right now?”
“I…I…don’t understand.” Pin wracked his system for the meaning of this question. Medical notes, psychiatry, therapists, did he have a cold, was he depressed? What did depressed mean? The beginning question was lost as he started to take in all this new information, inputting the data into his personality file which had yet to boot completely, but was around thirty percent loaded.
“Pin.” Lawry put his hand on the droid’s cheek, a shiver created from the touch. “I asked how you were feeling.”
“Fine!” Pin exclaimed with a gasp. He smiled with excitement it was called. He was excited to know the answer. “I am fine, well, as to be expected. Good, a little warm, I am also nervous. I looked up these symptoms that my body has created and humans refer to this situation as nerves or butterflies. Which I find strange because butterflies are actually winged insects that have been extinct since the Universal War. Their bodies could not withstand the blast or the atmospheric change when some insects were brought to the stations for reproduction. Did you know that they are very similar to a form of insect that lives in the Gweeran wetlands called a Keet?”
“Pin!” Lawry laughed. “Slow down.”
“But I am not going anywhere. I have been sitting still on this…couch! It is a couch. This is wonderful, and that is a chair, and you are a…” Pin pointed to Aurora. “Aurora.” He smiled.
“You recognized my voice from testing?” She sat on the other side of him.
His personality card was almost fifty percent downloaded. Ecstatic was another feeling bouncing through his system, but suddenly he was not a system, he was a body. His body was ecstatic to be here, in this place, to know such things and people. He was part of the ‘people’ category now.
“Oh Aurora! I recognize you somehow, but after consulting my mind, I can’t come to a sound conclusion as to why. Please forgive me if we know each other. I’m Pin, it’s nice to meet you,” he greeted her—his formal, factory system setting starting to give way to the personality card.
“That’s alright. I think you are in the middle of adjusting to your body. Your mind will catch up.” Aurora patted his hand lightly. “Lawry, you should take Pin on a tour of his new home. Maybe he will burn off a little energy.”
“Energy has nothing to do with my body. I run on a high-powered lithium…” Pin stopped talking to sniff the air. “Mmm. My olfactory setting is picking up what people call a delicious smell. Nothing is registering in my body. I am not sure of the scent’s origin.”
Jemma came forward slowly. “I was making chocolate cake.”
“Chocolate?” Pin rose quickly. Everything that he knew about chocolate was enjoyable. The data collected on the sweet was bountiful. From the turning of the cacao bean into a bar of milk chocolate to the enjoyment by a person was fascinating. “May I try this chocolate cake?”
“Sure, of course!” Jemma lit up, tucking her little hands under her chin with a smile. It was a gesture she did when she was very happy.
“Pin,” Lawry sighed his name. He hadn’t expected this to come up so quickly. He didn’t want to kill the male’s mood.
“Yes, Lawry?” Pin grinned, so naturally, so carefree. Lawry found himself captive to that boyish turn of Pin’s lips, arrested by the startling blue of his eyes.
Shaking his head of the thoughts roaming upstairs, Lawry looked down at his hands. “You can’t have any cake.”
“Forgive my rudeness, but why ever not? It is edible. There is nothing toxic about the dish that I can register. Jemma has agreed to share, so I do not understand.” Pin slumped, his lip stuck out a little. He could not remember how he knew to do this. A soft beep sounded inside his head, Pin was now completed.
“You can’t have any because you will get sick. Your…” Lawry looked to Aurora for help. She gave him a warning look. He couldn’t tell Pin anything now that he was completed, it was part of their agreement. “Your stomach cannot handle food. You…you do not get hungry.”
“I cannot have cake then?” Pin slumped a little more, his long torso folding over inch by inch.
Lawry scooted closer, slowly putting an arm around Pin. “It will be okay, Pin. Please don’t be angry with me. I just want what’s best for you and eating cake really will make you sick.”
“I don’t want to be sick.” Pin made a noise like a sigh. “But I am sad.”
“I know.” Lawry immediately rubbed his charge’s back, amazed that Pin was taking to the personality card suddenly. The transition left his head spinning. Poor Pin. “Come on. Let’s take a walk.”
Turning a little, Pin looked at Lawry, his Lawry. “Where will we go, Lawry?”
“To see your new home, Pin.”
Lawry’s home, his home now, was nice. The actual structure resembled a style called gothic that had typically been used for churches back in the ancient times of Catholicism on planet Earth. The religion had been abolished almost a hundred years before Earth’s destruction when the Vatican was publically exposed as a settlement for a foreign race of priests and priestesses known as the Weejans. Although they were highly followed by the humans, because of their deceit, the Catholic followers failed to trust in the religion any longer and disbanded—kicking the Weejans off their planet for good.
It was one of the many reasons the Universal war was started in the first place. Pin found that in all the destruction and war of the human’s history, this place reflected a perfect balance of the good and the bad. What was once green and lush now was dark and gloomy, but it was still beautiful in its details. Especially because this was what his Lawry had only ever known. Seeing pictures of what had been did not make his guardian miss the Earth of Old. The Fray was his home, now and forever.
In the past month and six days, Pin had settled into his life on the Fray. He could sort of remember the first few days after his birthday, but most of the details were fuzzy. He still remembered Lawry’s face though. He found himself warm at the thought of his guardian, a feeling that the Chief had called ‘being fond of’.
Now that Lawry had begun to resume his duties as Chief, Pin was left to his own devices for most of the day. Aurora had become busy around the house, the season bringing many ‘holiday parties’. He knew about parties, all the shiny baubles and fizzy drinks, but he could not drink or eat. It only made him sick, Lawry said. Other people could drink or eat, in fact it was necessary for them to do so. So what, Pin looked out the window of his room with a frown, what was wrong with him?
He had noted many things about himself that differed from his family, but he hadn’t said anything. He didn’t want to make Lawry upset. He had read that being upset was not a good thing. He would never want his Lawry to be that way because of him.
One thing that was different was how he did not get to take a bath or shower. Overhearing Jemma talk about her bubbly soaps and oils made him want to hop in the tub and ‘soak’, but Lawry was always there screaming at him to stop! Tears came to his eyes the last time that Pin had attempted a bath. Lawry’s arms had squeezed him tight. Pin had made him cry.
He sat down at his window seat, pulling his stuffed octopus Squish to his chest in thought. Two days ago he had tried to fold his own clothes, but Aurora had been there to take them away. She had said he needn’t do his own folding, but Pin had seen what she had tried to hide. His pajama shirt had a wire attached at the back. When he’d asked her about it, Aurora had called for Lawry, who had made him take a nap.
He never remembered going to sleep or waking up from his naps, but he always remembered when he had to take them. Sadness made his body cold. He put his head against the glass, holding Squish to his body.
“I am different,” he whispered to the window. “I am not right.”
“Pin?” Lawry called from the doorway softly. Watching Pin from where he stood made his heart hurt. A grown man holding a stuffed animal like a child with a far off look in his eye was not a sight he wished to see. Pin was sad, droid or not, that much was obvious.
“Lawry?” Pin stuffed Squish behind his back in embarrassment. The octopus had been a gift from Aurora, but he had read stuffed animals were only for children and he wasn’t a child. Lawry called him a man. He had to act like one, even if he loved Squish and oh, how he loved his companion.
“You don’t have to hide Squish. I know he makes you happy.” Lawry sat down on the window seat across from Pin. The droid looked down into his lap. “Pin…”
Slowly he pulled Squish out from behind his back and hugged him. “Lawry, I am different.”
“What do you mean?” The Chief felt his heart slowing, dread rising in his chest.
He didn’t know how to answer these questions. He and Pin had been getting along so well, except for the times when the droid scared him shitless. Stress was building over their relationship, Pin denying any touch or affection, thinking he would hurt him. Wasn’t that what you were supposed to with someone you cared for when they were sad, hug them, make them feel better?
“Am I sick, Lawry?” Pin looked up, his eyes flicking back and forth. They were so big, so blue, so vulnerable, but there weren’t any tears. Did Pin notice that he didn’t cry?
“No, you aren’t sick, and you aren’t different.”
“Then why can’t I go outside and play in the snow! Look how pretty it is, but I cannot touch it. I have never felt the rain or water, even though I ache to run my fingers through it, to make that swishing sound like in the videos, or to understand why it does not taste. I cannot drink or eat! I watch and smell the most beautiful things, but cannot experience them, because I could get sick, but would that not make me sick already? Why is there a wire in my pajamas? Why does Aurora check on me five times a day at exactly the same time?
Why do I not dream? Why do I not remember when you tuck me in or when I wake up? Why do I know all these things I have never done or seen or lived through? Why does everyone take pictures of everything but me? Why do you not have a family photo of us if we are family? Why do I feel like I will hurt you every time you wish to touch me? Why will Simon talk to everyone, but me? Why can’t I have a real friend? Why do you refuse to let me go with you to the city above? Have I done something wrong?
Why do I want to be with you every second of the day, but you will only come to me in the evening? Are you avoiding me?” Pin pulled his knees to his chest and tucked his chin on top of Squish. There was a moment when he felt he needed to do something, an emotion that would not come to him, but he could only be sad, nothing else.
Lawry stared at his droid. He wanted to fall apart, to scream, to beg for forgiveness for playing God. Maybe Gepetto had stopped his progress on Pin for a reason, because this was not fair to the droid. The poor male was heartbroken, his arguments justified with every word. Lawry had been avoiding him. Looking at Pin led to thoughts that he couldn’t make real, a fantasy just out of reach. Yet Pin begged for his companionship, always hanging outside his office for a glimpse of his face.
The truth of the matter was Lawry wanted Pin. He had made the perfect man, a subconscious need in mind when he had done so. Just like Gepetto had made his looks perfect, Lawry had made Pin’s personality from everything he had found attractive in a man. Innocence, vulnerability, smarts, sense of humor, all of it. After having Pin for a few days, Lawry had realized his mistake. Pin would forever be something he wasn’t and Lawry would forever want something he couldn’t have, leaving both of them in a state of never ending heart ache.
“Pin, I am so sorry.” Lawry leaned forward, pulling Pin into his arms.
The droid stiffened, not understanding the feeling inside of him. He didn’t know that he was a droid any longer. Pin was now fully acclimated, his personality card giving him the impression that he was a person. Try as he might, he couldn’t stop the heat from flushing his skin, or the urge to throw Squish across the room and cling to Lawry.
Squish landed by the door, Pin’s arms tangling around Lawry’s neck. Something wanted to break free, but Pin couldn’t reach the emotion. He just couldn’t. His body began to tremble, Lawry pulling him tighter against his chest. Something hard rubbed against Pin’s leg, he looked down, then up at Lawry.
“Pin,” Lawry murmured. “I can’t.” At least that was what his mouth said.
How could he do this to Pin? How could he allow his lips to press to Pin’s cheek, to the corner of his mouth? Why was he so evil as to tempt himself with a slide of his tongue over Pin’s lips? He could feel Pin shivering, the replicated chemical responses working as they should. Lawry knew what Pin was feeling, what he was still trying to figure out. Stop this, Lawry scolded himself, this is not fair to him or to you!
“Lawry, what is happening,” Pin cried softly, with a shudder. He hardened below, his response to Lawry’s body? “Lawry.” His head dropped back against the wall, his bottom half lifted into Lawry’s lap. His guardian began to lick at his exposed neck.
Before he could voice something was wrong, Pin felt a shiver wrack his body, cutting off his words. The next one was painful, a spark of torture in his temples. He grabbed a fist full of Lawry’s shirt with a gasp, but lights began to flicker in and out of his eye sight. His body shook and it was then that Lawry pulled back, but it was too late. Reaching out a hand, Pin slipped from Lawry’s embrace, falling off the bench and…
“Pin!” Lawry screamed, dropping to the ground. The light in Pin’s eyes died. A whirring sound started then stopped. “Pin, he repeated with a sob. “Please, no. I’m sorry. I’m horrible!”
Flipping Pin over, Lawry pulled his shirt off to find the hidden hub plug in. Pressing the spot, the panel lifted and sure enough, Pin had shut down. Why though? Lawry grabbed two fistfuls of hair and took a deep breath.
The clipped run of Aurora’s heels came to a stop in the doorway. “What happened!”
“I…I…Aurora!” Lawry cried, tears running down his cheeks.
She joined him on the ground, pulling off her heels before running a hand over Pin’s back. “What did you do, Lawry?”
“Couldn’t stop myself. I thought I could handle him, thought I could protect him from what I wanted, but I am nothing more than an evil pervert. This is my payback. I have broken him, he will hate me forever. I should never have woken him. To make him believe something he isn’t is cruel. To have put my wants before his needs was a terrible thing that I will live with until my dying days.”
Lawry freaked. Even though he was a certified genius, the mainframe looked like nothing he had ever seen before at the moment. His mind was a jumbled mess just looking at Pin. He couldn’t touch Pin. He’d only bring him more pain. He backed away from Pin and Aurora. He needed to get out of here.
Aurora watched the Chief fall victim to his fears come true. She had waited for this moment—the time when Lawry would realize that he had created not just any companion, but his ultimate partner. Every day she watched Pin ghost after Lawry like he wasn’t even there. Room to room, Pin would follow his guardian, a needy little look on his face, but he kept his mouth shut of his wants, because he hadn’t been programmed to argue or show anger. He was perfect after all.
When Lawry left for meetings or dinners, Pin would sit upstairs at his window and wait for him to return, waiting for Lawry, and being disappointed to only see him for a few minutes. Pin was experiencing devastation, stress, depression, but he couldn’t cry to let it out. She had seen him try to cry before, getting frustrated when he didn’t understand what was supposed to be happening, only comprehending that something was missing.
Lawry on the other hand was avoiding Pin because of the obvious attraction. Pin was a startling beauty, not a hint of droid that the eye could see. He was always saying the most lovely things to Lawry, who turned away and ignored him to hide the blush on his cheeks. They were meant to be together, but there was only one way that would ever happen, and it would have to wait. Aurora frowned. Putting her hand over Lawry’s shaking one, she squeezed.
“Let’s get him to bed. He’ll be fine once he gets some rest.”
“Aurora! He’s not human damn it. He does not sleep. He updates!” Lawry cried, tears running down his face.
She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. “Look at me and listen to what I am telling you. You will fix this, no matter what you think you’ve done. This is all I have left, all my family has. You will put him to bed and when he wakes up, he won’t remember this. You’ll start over. You can have a second chance and my mind will be at ease.”
“A second chance at what? I cannot…I cannot love him. He is a machine.”
She shook her head. “No, you may have pushed a button, but he has become his own person, Lawry. He loves you, waits for you. You have no idea who he is because you avoid him like the plague. The things he learns on his own now are incredible. Did you know he took up piano because he wanted to play you a holiday song for the party?”
“It doesn’t matter whether or not he loves me! He still can’t be with me. I have damned myself. Don’t you get it, Aurora?”
“Yes, I get it just fine. You are making the biggest mistake you have ever made in your entire life.
“Excuse me?” Lawry stood. He was getting angry now. Why was she pushing this? It could never be.
Aurora pulled Pin’s memory chip out and laid it on the ground. “You heard what I said. He isn’t just a machine anymore. See for yourself.”
With that, Aurora pressed a kiss to Pin’s head, and left the room.
“Aurora, wait.” Lawry turned to the door, but the Naja was already gone. In her place a tiny chip.
In his bed, Lawry pressed play on the flat screen. Pin’s sub-memory chip plugged in, the Chief had scrolled down to Pin’s recorded memory—everything the droid had saved himself by will, not because of the system. The videos finished loading, Lawry’s office popped up on the screen.
He was sitting at his desk, conversing with Chief Fenzib while Pin watched. Fast forwarding, the droid had stood there for over an hour, the corresponding read out to the side of the screen was calculating his depression. Pin had wanted to see him, but once again he was busying himself on purpose.
Lawry put a hand over his mouth as the next screen shot was loaded. It was from the view of Pin’s bedroom window looking down at Lawry’s transport. He got into the craft, the door shut, a hand was pressed to the window with a strange muffled cry in the background. Pin missed him.
Hands drifted over a piano in the next video. Beautiful long fingers tapped the ivory keys perfectly, Lawry’s favorite holiday tune crisp and clear over the speakers. Pin stopped playing suddenly, standing to watch Lawry head right through the sitting room towards the hall. The droid stood there, looking at empty space until he finally walked to his room and shut the door. Out of the closet, he pulled Squish and hugged him to his chest before sliding down the wall in anguish. Lawry had once again ignored him—completely and utterly devastating the droid.
Another video, this time Pin had gloves on. Otis was teaching him about plants in the greenhouse. A thin rain suit covered Pin’s arms and torso. A potted rose was in his hands. Pin brought the flower to the artificial sun lamp, setting it down slowly.
“Do you think Lawry will like this color, Otis?” Pin asked with a happy tone.
Otis smiled. There was a warm cast in his eyes that Lawry had never noticed before. “I think he will love anything you give him, Pin.”
Someone sighed, it had to be Pin. Droids didn’t sigh, but Pin, he wasn’t just a droid anymore. Was he?
The next video was Pin walking fast down the hall. He ignored Aurora as she stepped into the hall. He kept walking until he rounded the hall to the greenhouse. He pulled his beautiful red velvet jacket off, folded it neatly and put it on the floor. His replicated chemical make-up pumped hard through his system. He was mirroring anger and pain.
“He does not like red,” Pin whispered to himself. He went into the greenhouse, grabbed a pair of shears before snipping the gorgeous red bloom right from the stem. As if in slow motion, the flower fell to the ground, petals scattering around Pin’s feet.
This had been right after the droid had left his office. Lawry remembered telling Pin he didn’t like his new jacket just to get him to go away. He looked incredible in the jacket. Good enough to…no, no, no. This was his fault. All these terrible memories that Pin had stored. They were all his fault.
Throwing back the covers, Lawry hit the pause button and ran to Pin’s room. He put his head against the stained glass door and took a deep breath before he opened it. On the perfect single bed was his boy, completely lifeless save for a small whirring noise. A small cord was hooked into the hidden monitor above the bed.
Tears pricked his eyes. Lawry went to the bedside and crawled over Pin’s still body. Wrapping himself to the droid’s side, he silently cried his guilt—asking forgiveness with his wet tears. How could they make this work? How!
As there were too many holidays to celebrate throughout the year, all of the foreign events had been meshed into two weeks at the beginning of January. This way everyone was allowed to have a vacation from all their duties and they were more productive throughout the rest of the year because of it. Not that everyone’s duties were stressful, but it was nice all the same. The holiday was a huge deal and the house was coming together nicely.
Jemma was in the sitting room with Pin. He had just woken up from his third fritz of the week. That was what they were calling his random shutdowns. Seeming in good spirits after rebooting, Jemma had thought it would be nice to have Pin help her with the decorations. Buckets of lights were scattered around the floor, Pin sorting through them for the blue ones. They were his favorites so far.
He was so happy that Lawry had been there when he got up from his nap. The man had been fast asleep when Aurora had awoken him. His hand had been on Pin’s. It was…romantic, Pin smiled. Just like the media they were viewing in the sitting room. Jemma had acquired an old Earth movie from the space station’s library for him to watch. They were rare and it was to be a secret between them.
The film was black and white. A beautiful female looked into a male’s eyes. Her hand slipped over his cheek, her mouth moved closer. What was happening, Pin sat up straight. Jemma turned around to see what had caught his attention and smiled.
“It’s called kissing.” She put down a packet of lights.
Their mouths connected seamlessly. Pin gasped. Something in his chest fluttered. He thought of Lawry. He wanted to show Lawry that he was special too. He wanted to…kiss Lawry.
Pin smiled and turned to Jemma. “Have you kissed a man before?”
She blushed a dark green. “Yes.”
“Did he like it? Did he feel special?” Pin turned his body to her.
Jemma giggled. “I should hope so. He kissed me back. That is always a good sign I think.”
“The people in the film are never apart, never sad.” He sighed. “I would like to feel like that too.”
Frowning a little, Jemma patted his hand with her tiny one. “Maybe one day, Pin. Why don’t we finish these lights?” She tried to change the subject. She hated to see Pin sad. He looked so helpless.
“You are hiding things from me too. I have grown accustomed to that look.” He turned back to his own bucket. Standing, he carefully picked it up, needing to distance himself from her. “I will do the hall windows. I am tall enough to reach.”
“Pin, I didn’t say you couldn’t kiss someone. I just…”
“It is just another thing that will make me sick. Am I correct, Jemma?”
“It might.” She hung her head. “But I don’t know.”
He was depressed again. He had read up on the symptoms of this condition. As he refused to respond to Jemma anymore, because he could not raise his voice, he took his bucket and walked down the hall. With each tiny light that he stuck to the window, the fog grew thicker outside. Jemma had left him be for which he was grateful.
When he was about half finished with his bucket, blue lights glowed from beyond the windows meaning Lawry was home. Heels clicked down the hall, Aurora rounded the corner. Her face was serious, her hand grabbed Pin’s arm.
“Come along. We have to hurry.” She said quickly.
Pin dropped his bucket. “What? Why, Aurora? What’s wrong? You are hurting my arm.”
She pressed him into the wall once sheltered by a dark alcove. Her hand went over his mouth. Her eyes watched the other end of the hall in silence. The door opened and Lawry walked through. He was laughing. Pin never heard him laugh. Another man followed him. He was tall, blonde, and big. His arm was around Lawry, his lips close to the Chief’s ear.
Pin relaxed into the wall, his eyes shut with pain. Lawry had found a new companion. That was why he did not want Pin anymore, because he was worthless, couldn’t do anything right, couldn’t be that blonde male. But what had he done wrong? That feeling returned—the need to release something that he could not understand.
Aurora’s eyes bore into his. She knew how he felt, her sadness was like his. Once the men had retired to Lawry’s room, Aurora let him go.
“Pin, I’m sorry if I hurt you. It is just best that no one else finds out you are here.” She righted her scarf.
A plan formed in his head. He didn’t want to deceive his friend, but the pain was too bad to ignore this time. Something told him this was the only way to end it. “It is alright, Aurora. If you will excuse me, I would like to go to my room now.”
She squeezed his shoulder. “Are you sure? You could help me finish the lights in the kitchen.”
“No thank you. I am sorry, Aurora.” He looked at the ground.
“For what?” She frowned.
“For being sick, I am a burden to everyone including you.” She reached for him, but he side stepped her hand. “Excuse me.”
“Pin,” she whispered as he walked away. A tear slipped down her cheek. Damn you, Lawry.
With Squish and his pajamas in his over-the-shoulder bag, Pin carefully unlocked the side door and slipped out. He had watched Malek do this many times when he went to greet Violet Redstar in the middle of the night. No one knew of their visits except for Pin, because he was always at his window when he wasn’t sleeping. His naps were at the strangest times of the day, but he wouldn’t have to take a nap anymore, not ever again.
The taxi service was still serviceable at the gate. Two men were smoking a cigarette against the craft, possibly waiting for another patron. One had a top hat, red and black striped pants, and a black star drawn over his left eye. This was a tattoo, Pin smiled. He had never seen one in person, but found them to be interesting.
The other man had long red hair tied up with a piece of leather. He wore a black top with many holes in it—tiny silver objects were pinned onto the fabric. His pants were of dingy, tight leather and his boots were a dark grey—lacing up to his thighs. The two men smiled at each other as Pin approached out of the fog.
“Evenin, sir! How may we be of service? Lookin for a hot night out? A bite to fill your stomach or perhaps a bite to service something else?” Top hat flicked his cigarette over the gate and bowed a little.
The other man grinned. “So, what’ll it be for a handsome sir like yourself? I bet you’re looking for a fine piece this hour of the night. Am I right?” The men laughed, their eyes darting to each other. “There’s a Weejan house not too far from here. Twenty Unis will get you a bed so full of em, it’ll make your eyes pop.”
“Why would I wish to nap with priests? I would think that highly disrespectful.” Pin frowned.
“Priests?” Top hat laughed. “Where in the Universal are you from? Just born yesterday?”
“Priests!” Red head barked and coughed, his smoke going down the wrong way. “Ah let me guess. You ‘s one em pretty bed warmin boys. They keeps em innocent and secret. You got a daddy back in there, pretty boy, on the run for bigger and better things? Is he old and ugly?”
Pin shook his head. “I do not have a father. I do not understand.”
Top hat and Red head shared an evil look. “Why don’t you just come along with us then? We’ll take care of you, cause you seem kind of lost. We know a place that you’ll fit in just fine.”
“A place I will fit in?” Pin smiled at the thought. A nagging feeling made him turn back to the house, the lights on before everyone turned in for the night. They would not miss him. This was better for all of them.
“Yeah, a real nice place too. A handsome fella like yourself will do real well there I would think and wait til you meet the boss. He’s real swell,” Red head replied.
Top hat smoothed his arm over Red’s back. “Yeah, real swell.” He pressed a kiss to Red’s neck, a laugh rumbling from both men.
“I wish to go with you then. Thank you for your invitation, I am Pin. It is nice to meet you both.” He stuck out his hand.
Top hat grabbed his hand and kissed it. “So formal.” He grinned.
“It’s nice to meet you too, Pin. I’m Five Star and this is Scarlett,” Top hot said.
The droid smiled wider. “What interesting names you both have.”
“Come on, pretty boy. Best get going before your daddy comes a callin.” Scarlett pushed Pin towards the open craft door.
The droid walked in the door, looking around at the three small benches and the low lighting. A soft music played.
“Pin!” A tiny voice screamed. “Pin! Get out of there now!” Jemma came rushing forward, her tiny wings flapping madly. “Pin!”
Five Star smirked and kicked the tiny pigme into the craft and slammed the door closed. A pressurized hiss sealed them in.
“Jemma!” Pin dropped to his knees to cradle Jemma’s tiny groaning form. “Are you alright?”
“Pin, get out,” she wheezed. “Get out now.”
Both doors to the front shut, fast music lit up the cab, and the two drivers laughed—sharing a kiss before settling back in. “Ready baby?”
“Always, sugar,” Scarlett husked.
“They’re traders,” Jemma gasped. Her tiny hand gripped Pin’s. “We’re in trouble, Pin.”
The craft rumbled, a dropping feeling made Pin shut his eyes momentarily as they lifted into the air. Out the window, their home on the Fray grew smaller and smaller. His hand sealed over the window, his head hurt. Lawry. Oh no, Lawry, help us.
Chief Moore was trying to put the moves on him once again. How many times did he have to say no, Lawry rolled his eyes.
“Moore, I brought you in here to view the videos from the Koregg terrorist groups. I’ve been sent four in the past week and as Defense Chief you should be more focused on this.”
“When I have this delicious body to play with?” Moore ran his hand over Lawry’s clothed chest. The hand traveled lower before it was snatched away.
“No. You don’t have this body to play with! Now damn you, these videos are important! They’re declaring war on the Universal. Is it not bad enough that we are trying to deal with Naja kidnappings and the Koreggs all at the same time, now this? Get your head out of the ground, Moore and do your job!”
Moore growled. “You’re a fucking prude, Kladah. I know how to do my damned job. I don’t need you to tell me what to do. Now get over here.” Moore grabbed Lawry around the waist and pushed him into the bed.
“Tell me what to do,” Moore repeated with a sneer. “I don’t think so, Lawry.”
Lawry screamed when he found he couldn’t move under the Defense Chief’s heavy legs. Moore tried to silence him, but he received a vicious bite to the hand. “You stupid fuck!”
Again Lawry screamed as loud as he could. The door burst open and he felt Moore step back. “What is the meaning of this?”
“If you don’t back away from Chief Kladah right now, it means you will burn to death,” Otis replied. He and Malek entered the room with their red light guns aimed at Moore’s head and chest. “Now!”
“Oh God,” Lawry gasped. He scrambled away from Moore to stand behind Malek and Otis.
“Malek,” Otis directed. “Keep him here.”
Otis backed out of the room, protecting Lawry as he did so. Shutting the door, he wrapped his arms around Lawry who was still shaking. “I don’t know whether to be grateful to Pin or hate him completely.”
“What?” Lawry pushed Otis away.
“We were getting ready to leave by taxi when Malek suggested we check on Pin and Jemma, see if she needed anything before we left. That’s when Aurora said Pin had, uh, gone to his room. It’s how we heard you screaming.”
“Otis, what is it!” Lawry’s heart raced even faster. “What about Pin?”
“Lawry, Jemma and Pin are missing. Our taxi is gone also.” Otis sighed. “We think they went to the station.”
“What!” Lawry screamed and started down the hall to grab his things. “Call Jemma, now!”
Otis caught up with his best friend and tugged him to a halt. “Lawry, stop.”
“I’ve already tried. Her communicator is here.” Otis pulled the small disc from his pocket. “And this was in Pin’s room.”
Handing over a folded piece of paper, Lawry grabbed it from Otis. Smoothing the small page out in his hand, tears came to his eyes. A perfectly drawn heart was penned in the middle. Underneath were the words: I’m sorry, Lawry.
“Pin…” Lawry whispered.
TO BE CONTINUED….