Four

That number keeps coming up:  four loves, four laws.  I wonder where it will surprise me, next?

Another ‘transitional’ episode, but Nichole does have a sudden realization.  Amazing to think that both she and I didn’t know these things 24 hours ago.  I love writing.  Oh:  I wrote this on a new laptop in Word, so the formatting is chewed, again.  I’ll try to fix it for Ep11.

And I think I’ve a working link for Episodes 1-10 there at the left.  Stupid formatting….

“Defiant” – Episode 10

They walked at a steady, yet unhurried pace towards the southwest, towards the campus.  Initially all four together, but as Mackenzie seemed to be slipping into a panic attack, the observant Gil allowed for he and Joe to fall behind about ten paces.  Nichole worked to keep her face serious as her friend carried on softly about how much she didn’t care for her Accounting classes.  The problem was, the guys were having a much more interesting conversation behind them.  Nichole didn’t consider that she was eavesdropping:  if someone spoke within her auditory range, she processed it.

“No, I’m sure she likes me!”  Joe hissed to Gil.

“Dude,” he replied, “how many ales did you have?”

“Think about it!”  Joe ignored the question.  “She gave me a gift before the battle, she hugged me back there on the rooftop—”

“She hugged me, too, recall?”

“And we’re living at the same place!”  Ignored again.  “It’s like fate, or something!”

Nichole kept her mouth flat and continued to nod at Mackenzie, but her eyes were dancing.

Gil strode along, thinking about their motorcycle ride together:  her chest pressed to his back, her strong arms around him.  He saw no reason to mention any of that to Joe.

“She certainly is cute…”

Nichole’s lips quivered.

“…but,” thinking about the Jap ship, “she’s a little mysterious, too.  Don’t you think?”

Joe grunted.

Just ahead were puddles of light from the university’s lamp poles.  Coming as they were from the northeast, Stratford House was close by.  The men picked up their pace so they all arrived just off the front porch at the same time.

“Oh, here,” Mackenzie retrieved her sketchbook and tore a page out, “please have this!”

Nichole smiled broadly.  Her second present!  I should find some tape, tomorrow!  She reached for it with both hands and bowed slightly.

“Thank you so much!”  She looked at it and….

And….

In pencils and charcoal, she looked out from the paper.  The skyline of the city was an abstract blur.  Her friend must have perfect vision as her level of detail of Kongo was quite good.  But… once again, she had that look, that same odd look as on her first present.  What did Mackenzie see?

“Friend?”  Nichole asked.  “This, this is the second time, now.  Why do you see me like this?”

“Like what?”  Joe asked, moving around behind her right shoulder to see the page.  “Wow!  You’re good, Mac!”

“May I?”  Gil asked.  Both women nodded, so he looked over her left.  He couldn’t help his short, sharp laugh.

“What’s funny?”  Nichole asked, even more puzzled.  Gil shook his head.

“I’ll tell you, but I want to hear the creator’s answer, first,” he replied.  Mackenzie seemed to shrink a little.

“I… I didn’t mean anything by it….”  She began.  “It’s… it’s that I think you really want something.  Like you’re hungry for something….  Is that what you saw?”  She asked Gil.

“Kinda,” he said, still smiling. He pointed at the sketch.  “But from a guy’s perspective, that’s a look of raw, naked lust!”

“Sweet!”  They heard Joe breathe.

When she wanted to, Nichole could think very, very fast.  This was one of those times.  Hunger?  Lust?  I’ve been happy just to be learning so much since I awoke.  I don’t think that I’ve ever even asked another for anything.  I just wanted….

She wanted.  She wanted friends.

The techs at Somi; the sailors on Kongo, the three around her now:  she’d already experienced three of the four loves:  storge, philia, even agape.

She was suddenly acutely aware of the presences of the two young men just off each shoulder.  Her quantum processors functioned just as the unconscious mind did for humans.  Did that mean…?

What did she want?  Was it the fourth love?

Was it eros?

To her friends, she’d only hesitated a moment or two.  She rolled her shoulders a little.

“I may,” she said softly, “desire something.  I am getting older very fast; this is somewhat… confusing.”

She lowered both the sketch and her head.  No one moved.

“Well, I’m off!”  Gil suddenly spoke up, moving around her.

She was surprised to feel him lift her chin with his right hand.  She stared with her mouth slightly open across the short distance between their faces.

“Any time you want to talk, we’re here,” he said softly to her.  He let go of her chin and looked towards Joe, smiling to see the jumble of surprise and jealousy on his friend’s face.

“See you at class in the morning!  And remember we’ve swim practice after!”  He turned and walked into the encroaching darkness.

“Bye!”  Nichole called.  He waved without turning.

“And thank you for seeing us home, Joe!”  She said to him.  “Let’s head up, friend Mackenzie!”

A bit later, in the dark, her hands paused behind her head.  She slowly ran her fingertips around her neck.  Tactile sensors were expensive and she’d few outside of her hands.  She paused them for just a moment where Gil had touched her chin.  She let them drop, across her breasts, stomach, then across her skirt, coming to a stop on her knees.

“What is it I desire?”  She softly asked the night.

 

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