For all the times I've listened in on teenage conversations, I realized there was one topic that never got old. It was one of the few things that actually bothered them, giving them justice to openly show their anger or sorrow. It also seemed like the one thing that could really make a child release vibes of hatred toward their parents. And it made me wonder…how did their siblings view the situation?
The tête-à-tête was all about parental love and affection. Did the mother and/or the father love one child more than the other? They all seemed to think that they don't get enough money, clothes, free time, et cetera as their brother or sister. They make accusations about how spoiled their siblings are and how they wouldn't know how to handle not having all the attention.
I even heard Brad complain a few times about how much Tuck gets pampered. I always laughed when he said this, even when I heard a little jealousy in his voice. But he couldn't really be envious of that…could he?
It made me think about my eight sisters. They didn't care that they weren't in the spotlight, because they knew I was more high-tech than them. Maybe family is different for robots, though. Maybe we accept things easier and don't always fight for our mother's attention.
There was a human phrase I heard many adults tell to young people: "Don't take things for granted." Truthfully, I never thought I did. I was grateful for my friendship with Brad and Tuck, and even Sheldon. I was grateful to be able to save the earth from destruction. I was grateful for being able to go to school and hang around people.
I really didn't think there was much more than that. But in a matter of minutes, everything can change.
"Today was pretty boring, don't you think?" Brad asked. We were walking home after school, Brad taking me in the direction of my house even though his was the other way, "No super villains, no bomb threats, no embarrassing moments…" he sighed before repeating, "boring day."
Of course, I was used to his ideas about what an exciting day is, so it didn't surprise me that he was so downhearted. I admitted I thought it was also a boring day, but decided not to linger on the topic.
"The weekend's coming up," I mentioned, "have anything in mind?"
We both stopped when we were right across the street from my house. I squeezed my school books closer to my chest when Brad's eyes lit up. I smiled, knowing that he had been wanting to mention this thing for sometime now.
"There's this new arcade opening up on Saturday," he explained with so much enthusiasm, you would think he had won the lottery, "they're supposed to have this state-of-the-art game where you can actually be inside the game. It's said to have multiple scenarios to choose from."
I laughed just thinking about it. Multiple scenarios meant we would be spending multiple hours there, "scenario" hopping to see which ones were the best. It did sound quite intriguing.
"Is Tuck coming?" I asked. I couldn't help but get this image of him screaming his little lungs out when he came across something in the game he found dangerous or evil in any way.
Brad must have envisioned it also, because he chuckled, "Probably, but he'll probably focus all his attention on something else."
"Don't be so sure about that," I warned him, beginning to turn around to cross the street, "Well, I'm going to head in now. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
He nodded and turned also. He raised his arm in the air to wave backwards, "Later, Jenny."
When I walked in the door, I suddenly was overcome with an odd feeling. I don't really know how to describe it, except to say that it was an uneasiness. It wasn't exactly the sensation I got when I knew a villain was close by, but rather the sense that something big, not dangerous, was about to occur.
"Mom?" I called out, setting my books on the kitchen table. I listened closely for her response, but didn't hear her. I released my radar to track down where she was and concluded that she was down in her lab.
Usually, I wouldn't think too much of it. Something was tugging at me, however, leading me to her location. All the way down, I swear I thought I was going to have a metal breakdown. I was scared that I was so uptight that my screws and bolts would pop right out and leave me to fall to pieces.
"Mom?" I called out again, hearing some loud clanging coming from the far end of the room. The corner was actually hidden by a large cabinet, but I was able to see her shadow. Maybe it was just me, but the scene looked like something out of a horror movie. Her silhouette made her look larger and the way she moved made it look like she was murdering someone.
All the noise suddenly stopped and I was left with the sound of my own heavy breathing and one of my metal parts pounding inside me.
"XJ-9, is that you?" she asked in her usual accent. Actually, hearing her voice calmed me down and made me wonder why I was so nervous in the first place.
I began to walk toward her again, a smile slowly spreading over my face when I thought about how stupid I was, "Yeah, it's me. I just got home from school and was wondering what you were—."
I stopped dead in my tracks and in my words. What I saw answered the question I never fully got out. What I saw also made me think I had to pop out my eyes and make a few adjustments. I wished that was all I needed.
Sitting on my mom's working table was a girl. Or at least…half of a girl. The other half was obviously a robot. She was metallic just like me on her left side, but her right side…had skin. There was actual human skin on her and it made me wonder if this girl had some freak accident and my mom was trying to help her function and live "normally".
Her right side also contained long, chestnut hair. The tips just barely reached the table she sat on top of. Her baby blue eye looked bright and curious and when she smiled, it looked awkward because her robotic side was able to make the smile higher up on her face.
She was naked and it was almost strange to see one human breast and then a simple lump on her left side. Her tanned skin clashed against the blue metal, especially where her stomach and legs met.
"I'm working on my newest and what will be my best invention. What do you think so far?" she asked. I had no idea how to answer.
"What…what is she?" I finally asked, not caring if that sounded cruel or unusual. I really didn't know and that alone was disturbing me.
I saw my mom get a large slab of skin from the table behind her and cringed. Why was this bothering me so much?
"She's a robot of course. But I decided to go one step further than I went with you." She explained as though it were an everyday, casual thing to do, "I was able to put together my own DNA and chemicals to make the skin. It looks and feels like real human flesh and I even added nerve endings and veins underneath. See?" Holding out a piece, I gazed at it on instinct and saw all the parts that made up skin.
When I didn't say anything, she turned back to the one on the table and carefully began to add on the skin, "I have to be very cautious about where and how slowly I put each piece on. I don't want her to have saggy areas, nor do I want for her arms and shoulders not to match together."
"What…?" was really all I could say. I was able to follow along with her explanation, but I wasn't able to grasp why she was doing this.
"In other words…" she continued on, speaking off mind as she focused all her attention to applying the skin, "She's a robot on the inside but a human on the outside."
My eyes widened at the concluding sentence. I didn't stick around to hear if she had anything else to say. I ran out of the lab and out of the house before taking to the air and heading for Brad's house. My insides were pounding the whole way and it was the first time I ever felt dizzy with confusion and anxiety.
When I reached his house, I saw that he and Tuck were out in the backyard, having some kind of argument.
"I don't see why I can't—AHHH!" Tuck was beginning to say before I very abruptly landed in between them. I scared him enough to have him run away screaming. He would probably come back as soon as he realized it was only me, but that was the last thing on my mind.
Brad laughed at my entrance, "That was a good one, Jenny."
"Brad, something terrible is happening! Or already happened! Or will continue to happen! It happened!" I screamed all in one breath, hardly grasping what I was saying. By the way Brad was looking at me, it was obvious he had no idea either.
"Uh…what happened again?" he asked, looking from side to side.
"My mom! My mom!" My voice droned out on the second "mom" with the sound that indicated I wanted to cry very badly. Never before had I felt the need to cry as much as I did at that moment. I hid my face in my hands, holding back the urge to continue repeating my sentences.
Luckily for me, Brad didn't comment on my repetition. Instead, his voice became lower as he tried to reason with me, "Come on, Jen, it can't be that bad."
"It is, though! It is." A part of me agreed with him; a part of me said that I reacted too soon and too dramatically. But I didn't know how else to take it. My mother was down in her lab right now creating a new daughter. I wasn't stupid and didn't ignore that I had other sisters also…one's that basically got pushed to the side when I was made.
I finally took my hands away from my face, glad that Brad gave me time to recover from my outburst, "It's something that I should have always dreaded."
Brad stuck his hands in his pockets, "Well, if you didn't dread it before than it can't be as big as you're making it, right?"
"But it's not something you just think about all the time or out of the blue, Brad!" I yelled, waving my hands around to stress my points, "Do you always think about dying or someone close to you dying? Do you always just think about…about…" I couldn't even get the words out. Obviously, I couldn't just ask him how he would feel if he were in my situation.
"Jenny? You're scaring me," he admitted before putting his arm around me and leading me toward his house, "Let's go in and get something to drink so you can tell me all about it."
I stopped and ducked out of his grasp, "Brad, I don't know if I can. I don't even know what's going on. I just…I had to get away from my home." It was half the truth and I didn't feel like going back there so soon.
He shrugged as though it was no big deal, "I feel that way a lot, too. It's natural. So did you still want that drink, or what?"
Wanting to forget everything, I forced a smile, "Sure." As he began to walk toward the door again, Tuck jumped in front of us and yelled, his fingers hooked like he was trying to scare us. When Brad and I did nothing but stare down at him blankly, he snapped his fingers and walked away, murmuring a "darn…"
Brad and I got that drink and sat on his couch, talking about one thing after another. I never mentioned what I was so upset about and was thankful he didn't bring it up either. As weird as it is, I actually forgot about it. I think I subconsciously stored the information in a back disk. I didn't want to restore it, but it did so on it's own as soon as I let the sentence "I better get going" slip out.
He must have saw the worry in my eyes, because he asked, "Are you sure you're okay? There's nothing you want to tell me?"
I looked to him, the words right on the tip of my tongue. I kept yelling at myself to tell him, tell him before he finds out on his own. I didn't know why I thought it mattered how he found out; he would be surprised either way. I opened my mouth and happened to catch his expectation and curiosity.
I sighed and shook my head, "No, it's nothing. But thanks for talking to me this whole time," I told him, seeing as how it was going on nine o'clock.
"You don't have to thank me for that, Jenny. Anytime," he flashed a smile and walked ahead of me toward the door to show me out. I sighed and followed, wishing I could just spend the night and block out the rest of the world, even if just for a little while.
I mimicked his smile when he opened the door, stepping out into the night, "So I'll see you tomorrow at school?"
He nodded, "Definitely." Never before had his relaxed demeanor make me feel so comfortable. He usually did see the good side of things when I saw nothing but the bad…even if he had no idea what was going on.
I walked down his sidewalk and waved behind me like he did earlier, hearing him call out a final goodbye before the door shut. I sighed again and headed down the street, not in the mood for flying home. I preferred the long way at the moment.
It was amazing how absolutely no thoughts went through my mind on the way home, and yet I reached my destination way too quickly. It made me want to walk back to Brad's and then walk back again.
Alas, I simply walked up to the door and grasped the doorknob. My metal hand coming in contact with the metal doorknob made a light clang, my fingers gently sliding over the knob when I twisted and pushed the door open. I closed the door behind me hard enough to allow my mom to hear. Sure enough, I heard her from the kitchen
"XJ-9, where have you been this whole time and how come you didn't call me?"
She sounded only slightly annoyed, so I wasn't too worried, "I was over Brad's, Mom. We began talking and I just lost track of the time."
"Well, come in here. I want you to meet someone." The demand was simple enough. I never minded meeting new people. But I knew who she wanted me to meet this time and I wasn't looking forward to it.
My legs carried me into the kitchen anyway, my mind suddenly going on a fritz as though I were living in a dream. Entering the dreaded room, my eyes wandered from my mom to the girl I saw earlier at the other end of the table. There was something different about her this time. For this time, her robotic parts were completely hidden. To any eye, she was a human.
How my mom does the things she does, I'll never know. But I suddenly wished she didn't have even a quarter of the brain power she had.
The girl with the long brown hair smiled at me again and stood up. She was about the same height as me and I was actually able to see the small pores on her face when she walked toward me.
"Hello," she spoke, her voice very feminine and smooth. I couldn't deny that she was pretty and the friendliness she seemed to naturally possess made it hard for me to really want to hate her. "My name is XJ-10. But you can call me June."
Happy Anniversary to me! It's March 9th, exactly 2 years since I began writing here. Amazing. And last year I made a big deal to write a new fanfic for this day and I was determined to do it this year, too. I've been wanting to write this story for sometime now and figured this was as good a time as any.
How does everyone like it? I tried to come up with a different story idea. Or at least…I hope it's different. I haven't read that many Teenage Robot fics, so I wouldn't really know.
I'm thinking this might turn into a Brad/Jenny romance, since I like that couple, but it may take awhile. But don't hold me to that. Please review and tell me what you think. Thanks for reading!