Author: korinaka PM
Tres & Esther. DISCONTINUED. Unfortunately, even the most wonderful of liaisons can fall to ruin. Beyond the disappearance of Father Nightroad and an important lapse in Tres's circuitry, Esther should probably see being away from Rome as a good thing.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Tres I. & Esther B. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,893 - Reviews: 57 - Favs: 42 - Follows: 53 - Updated: 07-15-07 - Published: 02-19-07 - id: 3403168
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
O O O
Tres, for the first time in his short android life, couldn't really be sure if he actually wanted to respond.
"Father Tres Iqus!"
Well, he couldn't very well ignore that. He opened his eyes rather slowly, scanning the immediate area. It was dark, that much he could tell, and there was dirt. Plus there was something or someone fiddling with the collar of his coat.
"So glad you're awake," he heard her reply in a groan.
"Negative," he immediately stated, multitasking expertly as he searched through his memory banks for a recollection of the night's events. "I do not sleep. I am—"
"Yes, yes, a machine, and I can assure you, Father Tres, nobody knows this fact quite better than I, myself, do at this moment."
An unnaturally loud whirring filled his ears for a moment, before he realized that it was coming from him as he tried to process Esther's speech. He was more damaged than he'd initially thought. "What—"
"Damn it, get off already!"
He looked to the only place that he hadn't looked before: up and back. And there Esther sat, a frown plastered on her face as she stared at him intensely. When she noticed his gaze, she smiled dangerously. "May I remind you that you weigh approximately 400 pounds?" she said sweetly, "and that close to half of those 400 pounds consists of your head, which is currently crushing my lap?"
"Negative, Sister Esther. My head does not weigh approximately—" He moved, a little bit slower than he was used to, and was momentarily thrown off when a wave of vertigo caused everything around him to spin on its axis.
Esther's tone immediately took on a twinge of concern. "Oh, dear…are you alright?"
He made a noise that might have been a grunt. "Positive."
"Oh, right," she said, scooting away from him. "So what do we do now?"
"We leave. We travel." He smoothed some hair out of his face—a reflexive move that Esther had never really seen him do before. "And we find Father Nightroad."
O O O
It hadn't taken them long to find a small town, just bordering the outskirts of the forest and on the other side of the road they had crashed on.
Unfortunately, on the way out, they had to pass by the dead German chauffer. His body had been mangled than anything Esther could ever have imagined in the car accident, and she covered her mouth with the cuff of her cloak. Tears almost sprang.
"Sister Esther?" Tres had asked, stopping and waiting for her to continue on.
"Tres, what…what happened?"
He'd nodded toward the demolished car, frowning. "The German authorities should be here shortly," he'd said, walking over to her and outstretching a hand. "We must move quickly."
And so they'd carried on, until finally finding what they had been looking for: a small town with a church.
"Do you still have your credentials and everything?" Esther asked as they approached the chapel. It was massively dwarfed by the size of the church back in Rome, but that didn't matter. Perhaps they could contact the Vatican through here, anyway?
"Negative," Tres replied, stepping closer to Esther as the ascended the stone church steps, their footfalls echoing. "However, the church will not require my android credentials, as they are currently unaware of my status."
Esther cast him a sidelong glance, smoothing out a few wrinkles in her dress in vain. "Are you…are you suggesting we lie, Father Tres?"
He paused. Then: "Positive, Sister Esther."
And so in they marched, and Esther could swear that Tres had puffed out his chest, jaw set, lips into a thin line, eyes a little more hard and calculating than usual.
A nun met them before they could ask for the main office, all smiles and brightness and wearing a large golden cross around her thin neck. "Good morning," she said sweetly, and her smile threatened to crack her face. "What can I help you with?"
Or…at least…that's what Esther thought she said. It…it looked like that was what said.
Tres replied in some strange gibberish, and Esther looked on cautiously.
The two carried on a brief conversation, in which Tres repeatedly motioned to himself, then to Esther, then to his hand.
Something akin to realization dawned over the nun's face, and she nodded, motioning for the two of them to follow.
Tres hung back with Esther, and when he took her hand in his, Esther jumped straight out of her skin. "T—Tres?"
He didn't even glance at her. "Please take note our new status, Sister Esther" he said, slowly, enunciating each syllable carefully. "You are my foreign wife of three years. We were attacked by rogue thieves, wherein they stole all of our belongings, including our wedding bands."
"You…you have to be joking." She stared at the side of his face. Please, good Lord, say he was joking. "Tres—"
"I lack the emotional capacity required to 'joke,'" he said, and Esther almost made a crack about him not lacking the emotional capacity to sound like a demeaning prick, apparently. But she held back for the sake of their…well…elaborately crafted lie.
"How…" she began, staring at her hands. "How did you even make this up? Last time I checked, you were not this creative!"
"Father Nightroad had demonstrated this plan to me when we had first come in contact with you, Sister Esther. It had been his 'Plan B,' in the case that his faulty 'Plan A' should fail. Which it did."
She glared at him. "So you've done this before, then." She scoffed and waved a hand. "I knew it. You really do lack any creativity whatsoever."
"As a precautionary addendum," he continued after a moment, "you are also three months pregnant with my child."
"Tres!" she shrieked, and she was so loud in doing so that he actually managed to look at her from the corner of his eyes and people in the church actually turned their heads toward them.
She pulled her hand out of his, quite abruptly. "That's going too far!"
He took her hand back. Forcefully. Sternly. Painfully.
"This," he said, a look of concentration in those robotic eyes, "is being efficient in our mission to retrieve Father Nightroad."
"This," he said, and this time he did turn his head toward her, giving her a heavy look that slid up and down the length of her body. Esther fought back the urge to cover herself with her hands and arms. Did he have X-ray vision or something?
She dearly hoped not.
"This is necessary," he said coolly, and just in time, for they entered the office.
Esther didn't really have anything to do in the fifteen minutes or so that passed. She fiddled with her left sleeve, fiddled with her right sleeve, fiddled with Tres's right sleeve, looked around the rooms at all the paintings—not of excellent quality, but pretty, nonetheless—and finally settled for staring at Tres impatiently.
It was as if he didn't even notice her.
She tried different face. At one point she even stuck out her tongue.
The nun glanced at her, and she immediately stopped.
Enough acting like a two-year-old today, Esther. You're a big girl now. As of now, you're married to Tres Iqus. She tried to convince herself that this didn't bother her in the slightest.
But he's an android, some nagging thing in the back of her mind whined.
Yes, well, he looks human.
And you're also apparently three months pregnant with Tres Iqus' child.
But he's an android, you idiot. Androids lack the bits and pieces required to procreate.
That…was a little harder to make up an excuse for.
How did pregnant women act, anyway?
She looked down at her belly in wonderment. She certainly didn't look pregnant. Or so she hoped.
One hand came up to pat it.
She winced when the nun glanced at her again.
She patted it again, thankful when no groaning resounded. Then she rubbed it, then she stroked it, then she tried to imagine a little…android baby…thing…in there.
Babies don't grow in the stomach, the voice complained. Babies grow in the womb.
Humph. They grow in the stomach if she said they do, and she promptly told the voice to go—
"Frau Iqus?" said a voice.
Iqus really was a pretty last name. It was elegant in a jagged, hard-edged way. She supposed it suited Tres.
"Frau Iqus?" the voice said again.
Tres grabbed her hand. "Esther."
Esther blinked and looked up. Oh. They meant her. Well, it seemed she'd inherited that pretty last name. Even though it didn't very well suit her. She'd always like Nightroad—
The woman smiled and held out a hand.
Esther took it with the hand that wasn't being held by her robot partner.
She shook it, said some other meaningless gibberish to which Esther could only smile and occasionally laugh and nod at, and then she released them. Tres was pulling the both of them out of the room before Esther could recover from the confusion of the situation.
Once they were a good distance away from that room, Esther pulled her hand from Tres' again and straightened out her cloak. "Okay. Now can you please explain to me exactly what's going on?"
He didn't try to take her hand back this time. "I have already explained to you the details, Sister Esther Blanchett."
"Oh, knock off the formalities, my darling husband," she hissed, eyes narrowed, hands on her hips as she walked.
"Sister Esther, please refrain from drawing attention to us," he said calmly.
"Well!" She threw up those hands in exasperation. "Excuse me if I'm a bit rattled that I've somehow managed to get married and pregnant in less than an hour, but it's a bit much for me to chew, Father Tres Iqus."
He led her inside another room. It was empty except for a single bedroll on the ground.
Esther immediately claimed it. She was tired, hungry, needed a shower, and most of all, worried over Abel.
And now she was stuck with Tres? She never thought he was so bad, but when he was the only company she had…
He sat down in front of her and started to work on probing around in the back of his head. Literally. He took off the back of his head and starting fumbling around in there.
Esther turned away. "Okay, this isn't going to work."
"What is not going to work, Sister Esther?"
"Could you…not do that?"
"It is essential that I attempt to repair myself immediately, Sister Esther."
"Directly in front of me?"
He blinked, and then got up and moved across the room.
He began to speak, and Esther felt like a bit of a jerk. Oh. He was just going to strike conversation with her. That was why he sat so close.
"We have lost our credentials," he said—shouted, almost, because he was far away, "and thus I was forced to use Father Nightroad's faux situation for us to inhabit. The resident nun did not believe me when I told her of the actual circumstances, and so I was forced to use 'Plan B.'"
"And thus?" Esther half-mocked.
"And thus you would sleep outside."
"I apologize for any anxiety this may have caused you," he continued, so mechanical, so blunt, "however, it is best that you keep up the appearance of Mrs. Iqus until otherwise instructed, Sister Esther."
"Pregnant, Tres? Why pregnant? Just answer me that."
"I am not permitted to take r—r—r—residence here overnight," he stuttered, and Esther raised an eyebrow.
"Did you…what was that?"
"My speech unit was momentarily afflicted when I attempted to repair my message banks," he said, blinking it off. "To continue, males are not permitted to stay the night in this particular church. Females and children, however, are."
She stared down at the toes of her boots. "I see." So he would have to stay outside?
"As for answering your pregnancy question…"
Esther almost blushed. Almost. Because he sounded like he actually had impregnated her, which means that he would have slept with her, which means—
"…it was a cautionary measure that I took. The nun would not have allowed me to take you to your room, and I would not have been able to explain the situation to y—y—y—y—y—"
And then he stopped talking altogether. He slumped forward slightly, chin against his chest, hands resting in the circuitry of the back of his head.
A lance of panic shot through Esther. "Tres?"
He made no movement.
She crawled toward him quickly, hands immediately going to his cheeks, lifting up that heavy head of his until she saw closed eyes and his mouth half open. "Tres!"
He didn't answer, so she released his head in order to shake him by the shoulders roughly. His hands fell to rest against the floor. "Tres! Tres! Oh, no, Tres, don't die—er—shut down on me!"
He made a disturbing, jerky movement with his neck and shoulders, and then his eyes snapped open and his hands gripped Esther's arms in a vice grip that actually hurt.
She winced. Second time. "Tres!" She hadn't been aware that she was on the verge of tears, but apparently he was aware of it, because his eyes locked with hers.
And then a pure blue starting overtaking his eyes, engulfing his pupils, flooding the sclera, and they went wide, eyelashes fluttering. "System error," he said, in a voice that wasn't Tres in any respect at all.
His hands fell away again.
"System error," that not-Tres voice repeated.
Esther started panicking. "Oh, no. No, Tres! I don't—I don't know how to fix you!"
She tried to remember everything she could. She'd seen a sister fiddling with a computer once a long, long time ago. She'd…restarted it? Yes, that was what she did.
"Tres…oh, Tres, I—"
"Stop that!" Biting her lip, she maneuvered her way around him, peering into the back of his head.
Glowing wires, dozens and dozens of chips and metal things and little lights and even something whirring met her curious stare, and her heart got caught in her throat. It was almost grotesque.
"Yes, yes, I get it!" she yelled, searching something out—anything.
And there it was. Something was…unscrewed? She reached in, drew out when he repeated that awful phrase, grimaced, and then reached in again.
She put the male end of the wire into the female end, proceeded to inwardly giggle madly at the innuendo, and screwed the base.
When she finished, she stared at the back of Tres' left ear happily. "Well?"
"Stupid robot." So she dove right back in, but nothing seemed amiss save for a cracked box. There was nothing she could do about that, though, so she located what she assumed—hoped—was his power switch and switched it off.
"Sys—" He stopped. Slumped again. Was no more.
She chanced a look at his eyes.
Empty. Dark. The pupils and irises and sclera and all that good stuff about eyes were back, but it was as if something was shading them.
She switched it back on.
He came alive with a jolt, jerked a few times, made a few odd blip noises, and then fell over sideways.
Esther gasped. "Tres!" She hurried to help him, but he managed to sit up on his own.
"Reboot successful," he said, half in that terrible, un-Tres-like voice and half in his own pleasant, deep one. "Sister Esther Blanchett?"
She was so overjoyed that she hugged him. Tightly. And he fell over backwards, her still splayed over him, arms around his neck and face in his chest that was too warm for an android and almost straddling him, but who cares, because she didn't mess him up any more than he already was.
"Father Tres, I thought I killed you!"
"Negative. I am a machine. Machines can not be—"
"Fine, I thought I broke you, then!"
His hands came to her waist as if he wasn't sure what to do. Push her off or hug her back, Esther could see him thinking.
Well, not really. But it was a fun thought to entertain.
"I plugged something in back there," she said, muffled as her face was still pressed against him. "I'm so glad I didn't mess up your internal…stuff."
A knock on the door, and then in came the nun. Her speech started out happy, and then it turned into something like scolding, though Esther couldn't be too sure.
Either way, Tres was lifting her off of him and setting her aside faster than she could register. He closed the back of his head in a motion that made it seem as though he was only smoothing down his hair. "Es tut mir leit; Ich verließ," he said, and Esther translated this into something close to "Please don't poke me in the chest and kick my pregnant wife out; I'm very sorry."
He stood and left without another word.
The nun started at Esther in disdain for a moment before shutting the door behind her.
Esther listened until the click of her boots was completely gone before wandering out, taking off at a full sprint to catch her newly anointed "husband" before he managed to get out of the church.
She caught Tres just as he was walking out the large front doors.
"Tres!" she whisper-shouted and he stopped, turning toward her.
She came to a halt close enough in front of him that the top of her head brushed his waist when she leaned over to pant and grasp her knees.
"Where are you going?"
"Outside," he said. "I will scan the area and gather as much information as I can."
She looked up at him, eyebrows upturned. "A—are you sure? I'm sure you can sneak back in, and—"
He did something slightly out of character. He put a hand to the top of her head. "Rest, Sister Esther Blanchett."
She stared at him. "…Right. Humans need rest."
She watched him leave before returning to her designated quarters.
She had trouble falling asleep that night.
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