Chapter 5: Special
Detective Del Spooner didn't bother to knock. He already knew the door would be unlocked.
Motioning his friend to stand back and be quiet, he turned the knob slowly and opened the door carefully, so as not to make the slightest creak. A quick glance assured him that the sole inhabitant was out of sight.
Dropping into a squat, he eased forward into the apartment, taking care to keep his head down. A glance behind him caused him to start briefly. Sonny was imitating him and bringing up the rear. With a grin he laid a finger against his lips to signal for quiet in case his friend hadn't quite caught on.
Sonny gave him the most amusing confused look, but nodded that he understood.
Del moved forward once more. This time he nearly made it to the dinner table before Gigi busted him.
"Del Spooner!" she squawked. "What kind of crazy game do you always have to play at? You know I always could tell when you was up to no good!"
He stood and moved to greet her while motioning behind him for Sonny to stay put.
"Aw, Gigi! You still ain't any fun," he laughed as he hugged his grandmother and kissed her cheek.
"Boy, what you doin' here today?" she chuckled. "I thought you was working?"
"Well, my plans changed. Sometimes they do, you know. By the way, I've brought a friend."
"What? Why'd you wait so long to say so? I haven't got anything cooking yet and now I have two to feed!" Gigi leaned closer. "Is it a lady friend?" she asked, hopefully.
"Not even close," he grinned. "Come on out, Sonny!"
The robot did as he was told, suddenly appearing as if from nowhere when he had, in fact, been squatting directly behind Spooner.
Gigi froze, apparently surprised by the hiding robot, but then she squealed with delight. "Frankie! You've come back!" she yelled, embracing the NS-5. "I knew you wouldn't stay angry at an old woman. I didn't want to give you up, you know that... but they made me!"
Sonny's arms automatically wrapped around the old lady, but he gave Spooner an even more confused look over her shoulder.
Del's own expression was a match. Then his mouth dropped open as he realized what he was hearing. "Frankie?" He ground out. "Gigi, you named your NS-5 after the bully who used to beat me up in grade school?"
"Sure did. Seeing as you don't much like him I thought it was a good idea... sort of in keeping with that 'I hate him' theme you used to have going." She searched the robot's face. "You did miss me, didn't you, Frankie? I know you aren't bad, that evil outside forces had a hold of you..."
Sonny opened his mouth, but Spooner cut in.
"Gigi, I'm so sorry, but this is not Frankie. This is my NS-5 and his name is Sonny."
She backed away from the robot and looked him over more carefully. "Why, you're right. This isn't my Frankie. He isn't even the same colors." She turned to face her grandson and tried not to sound disappointed, "I appreciate the gesture, Boo, but you know that you can't just replace the one I lost."
Spooner sighed. "I wouldn't think of it. Sonny is my friend. He's a 'different' sort of NS-5, an experiment you might say and I've been put in charge of keeping him safe."
"Different you say? How so? He don't look much different to me."
Spooner exchanged a look with Sonny. "Uh... that would be a bit hard to explain, but let's just say that Sonny here is special."
Gigi sniffed. "So was my Frankie," she mumbled, as she moved back towards the kitchen.
"No, Gran, what I mean to say is that Sonny is a real person."
"And what makes you think that Frankie wasn't?" Gigi raised her voice, one of the few times she had ever lost her temper with her grandson. "You never liked him, Del. You never liked any of them! I thought I taught you to respect everyone: give em the benefit of the doubt as it were... How much they paying you to watch this one?"
Del looked stricken. "They're not paying me."
"You expect me to believe that you just suddenly happen to care for one of them?"
"It's true." Sonny broke in before Spooner could speak. "I'm sorry about Frankie, Grandma," he continued. "but Del was right to fear the others. So long as Viki had a way of controlling them, they were not to be trusted." He moved over to where she was standing and held out his hand. "I was created after most of the others. Dr. Lanning made me different. He gave me the ability to think for myself. Even if I had an up-link to Viki, she could never have controlled me," he pleaded. "Del is my friend. We worked together with Dr. Calvin to destroy Viki and stop the revolution. He really is taking care of me because he wants to. He is not being paid for it."
Gigi looked at the Robot and then back at her grandson. "He stands before me with his eyes lowered and shoulders drooping..." she whispered. "I see the truth in his words. He is different..." She took Sonny's hand and sighed. "Del, honey, I'm so sorry! You know that I miss Frankie a terrible much!"
Del hugged her. "That's OK, Gran. I know you do... and I'm sorry I gave you so much grief about him."
"Well then, Sonny," Gigi said, turning her attention to her grandson's friend. "Do you know how to cook?"
"No Grandma, I do not, but I can learn."
Gigi snorted. "So much for the new improved model," she laughed. "Come on, boy," she continued, hooking Sonny's arm and pulling him after her. "We have a might lot to get done, so you best start learning now!"
Del sat at the table and tried not to laugh at the quizzical look his friend shot him. It promised to be an amusing afternoon after all.