~Frailty~

JF Sebastian decides to build his own female replicant, who teaches him more about the frailty of life than any human could. Inspired by the deleted "sixth replicant" bathtub scene. Pre-Blade Runner movieverse.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
- Albert Einstein

As the early morning rain pattered above him, his fingers mimicked its unrelenting pace on his worn keyboard. Despite his work being illegal, he considered it necessary. As social creatures, didn't every human being deserve at least someone to talk to? Even if that particular someone wasn't human.

After months of gradually smuggling bits of bio-hardware out of Tyrell Corp's labs, his many sleepless nights were about to hopefully pay off . Usually animating a single android only took a few days in the Off World colonies, but this special project was taking twice as long, since he had only outdated tools at his fingertips. To his left, a cold android lay on the linoleum floor. Despite her pale skin and lifeless body he saw the beauty in what would be his greatest creation, despite its obvious flaws compared to the newest Nexus 6 models. At the corner of his dimmed laptop screen was a digital gauge monitoring the levels of red liquid pumped into her body. As blood was the elixer of life to human tissue, so was this red liquid already creating a light blush in her cheeks and lips.

"/PROCESS ERROR/" flashed onto his screen in bright yellow. Sebastian cursed under his breath. The gauge in the corner of his screen flashed as well, indicating a break in liquid pressure. "Not now, not now!" He put his bulky laptop down on the floor and walked over to an archaic electric generator that he had cleverly converted into a blood transfuser. "Damn rust bucket!" he mumbled, kicking the box and making it rattle. Almost immediately the machine returned to normal, but not before, to his surprise, he heard another sound, a faint but strong gasp for air. Sebastian ran back to check her life signs and took out the IV tubing from her arms.

Her face was still colored pink, her chest rising and falling didn't know whether to speak or patiently wait...At that moment, he felt strangely like Prince Charming in the fairy tales of yore, waking his beloved princess from a deep, dark sleep.

"H-Hello?" he quvered, leaning over her with concern. All of a sudden her mismatched brown and blue eyes opened wide as she sat up, startled. "W-w-who are you? W-why am I here?" It took Sebastian a moment to piece together what to say to her. In hindsight, he realized it would have been convenient for him to utilize some memory implants, but since those were heavily guarded even for Tyrell's best engineer, he had to make due with old fashioned improvisation.

"Don't be frightened," he began. "I mean you no harm. You, ummm..." He coughed. "You took a nasty fall a couple hours ago, slipped right on a puddle, injuring your head on the sidewalk." He leaned in closer to "examine" an imaginary bump on her forehead. "Oh look, it's already healing quite nicely."

She touched her face where the bump would have been and smiled with relief . "Yeah...you're right."

As Sebastian discreetly closed his laptop, he added, " Your clothes were completely drenched, so I had to have my neighbor Sallie help you inside to get you into something dry." He nervously chuckled, gesturing at the wool nightgown she was wearing. "The old woman was so nice she even took your clothes to the dry said you can keep that if you want.

For some reason despite not knowing what happened before she woke up in his apartment, she somehow instinctively knew he was telling the truth. Concluding it more secure to be here than waking up outside in the rain on the street.

I'm J.F Sebastian, by the way." he extended a hand."I'm...ummm..." She paused with unexpected difficulty, hesitant to reciprocate his gesture.

"Don't worry, I'm sure it will come to you after you've eaten something. You must be starving," he said.

"Yeah, come to think of it, I am."

It took her a few tries to stand properly. She had to grab onto him for support. Being this close to another individual, let alone a member of the opposite sex, was unfamiliar territory to him. Compared to only minutes ago, her plastic skin was now much warmer to the touch, alive as that of any other person walking the streets outside.

"I think my legs work again, J.F.," shestated after the third try, holding her arms out for balance as if on a beam.

"Yeah." He smiled proudly. "How about that! You'll be out of here in no time." When they arrived in the kitchen, he led her to a wooden chair at the bar.

"Hope you like leftovers for breakfast," he remarked, putting a full plate down in front of her.

Instead of digging right in, she only stared at her plate in gloom.

"What's wrong?" Sebastian asked, sitting down across from her with his own plate of food.

"I can't help but wonder if my family is looking for me right now...But what if I don't have one, and it turns out I'm all alone? What will I do then?" She paused with concern.

The last thing she needed to do right now was cry. "Now don't be upset. Once this weather clears up I can take you back to the street where you had your accident, and maybe something there will jog your memory. It's only a five minute walk from here."

"Yeah...you're right Sebastian," she said. "Silly of me to not think of that."

As they ate, Sebastian thought. What had he created? The depth of her emotion and true human yearning was something he had never seen before in any android designed by his own hand. In the Off World colonies, androids were given a purpose at birth, destined to work on base or in hard labor the mines. But what of this misfit? She was thoroughly confused in this state.

"I never got to thank you." He suddenly felt a light touch. She had placed her hand on his arm. "For everything...You really did a lot for me. I don't know how terrible it would have been otherwise."

"Hey, don't mention it." He moved away from her, shifting in his chair uncomfortably. "At least you're safe now. That's all that matters."

For what seemed like an eternity, the replicant gazed at him like a gentle composure ofher smile made Sebastian all the less so. What was she thinking? Why did she smile at him like that? No other human had looked at him with such honest, unblemished appreciation before; let alone from an android only hours old. He tried to look away, but her mismatched eyes captured his.

She reached across the table again, this time brushing a stray hair from his mesmerized face. "You're falling, aren't you Sebastian? I can tell." He could feel a blush start to creep onto his cheeks and tried to hold back his reaction to her touch. "No reason to be embarrassed," she continued. "Nobody can help it when they start falling asleep. You look tired." Understanding the true intention of her remark, he laughed heartily with relief. Sebastian couldn't remember the last time he had laughed so hard.

"What's so funny?" she asked, tilting her head.

"Nothing, oh nothing," he responded, trying to regain control of himself. "You're right though, I guess I am pretty tired."

He looked at the digital clock next to the sink, which blinked 6:15 A.M.

"Here, let me take these for you. It's the least I can do." She dded, picking up both of their plates to take to the sink.

Could life ever be this perfect? Her presence was like a breath of fresh air, uncontaminated from the gritty city streets.A loud crash followed by a heavy thud startled him out of his his horror, Sebastian discovered that the girl had collapsed in front of the sink before him, surrounded by shattered plates. He ran to her side and moved broken glass out of the way on the linoleum floor.

"Are you alright?!" he asked in panic.

"Yeah...yeah, I'm fine," she muttered weakly. "Guess I'm not better just yet, eh?"

As she stared at the floor, he could tell something was amiss. Her eyes were clouded, as though she were in a trance. She rested her head on his shoulder and said, " I don't know why, but for some reason...I feel so cold."

Sebastian's heart fell. He had seen these symptoms before in decaying androids during the last hours of their life functions. Other owners would simply terminate their lives, but he dared not think of such a fate all too familiar in the unforgiving Off World.

While checking her arms and legs for any cuts from the fall, he noticed that her skin was beginning to turn blue. He took her wrist and found her pulse to be irregularly slow. "Are you in any pain?" he asked.

"No..." she murmured, closing her eyes. "Just tired."

Something must have misfired in her core's cooling faculties, he figured, causing a gradual shut down of her system's functions. A human would sweat when hot or shiver when cold, but it seemed her body was physically incapable of doing either.

Risking cuts from the shards of glass around him, Sebastian walked across the kitchen, cradling her limp body in his arms. They made their way into the living room, where he laid her on the couch and checked her pulse again. "Please don't..." she whispered, struggling to sit up. "I'll be fine..."

He had to work quickly. If he grabbed his computer, he could reset her core wirelessly without her even knowing. But before he could leave her side, she grabbed his wrist with unexpected strength. "Please Sebastian...don't leave me."

Tears welled in his eyes, and he knew deep down that nothing could be done if he stayed with her. By giving into her request, he was letting her slip into darkness. "What if I told you I could make you better? Just give me a few minutes to grab by medical supplies, and everything will be alright."

"That won't be necessary..." she whispered, stroking his face. "It's strange, ever since I met you, I have never felt so safe...or...so alive. It's as if I have known you all my life." Her body began to twitch. He could feel her pulse rise drastically. These were the initial signs of her system's final plea for repair, but it seemed that she was willingly accepting her fate. "Before I go to sleep, can I ask you for something?"

"Anything." He tried to blink back tears and knelt in front of her.

He followed her gaze to a leak in the roof where water was slowly dripping into a metal pan. "I think what will really help me get warm is a nice...warm...bath."

"Yeah..." he said, watching the water gradually gather, "a nice, warm bath."

Without another word, he gathered her in his arms once again and walked into the bathroom. He made sure to keep her modestly covered in an overly large blanket, as he gently laid her in the chipped porcelain that moment the replicant's face awoke with a smile for the last time, and she closed her eyes with true contentment. "I'm sure I will dream of you... my Sebastian."

With those final words, he froze in awe. As the morning sun broke through the boarded up windows, he was convinced that for the first time he saw humanity in this machine. He now knew that it wasn't wiring or computer codes that had brought her to life...but the pure vivacity of what appeared to be a soul in this shell.

~End Transmission~