Burning Embers
Chapter One: French Bread

Dorothy walked along sedately, a silent wind ruffling the folds of her black dress and tugging a lock of red hair into her eyes. She brushed it away without a thought, her dark eyes looking towards the end of the street. The grocery store was only a few more blocks away and she mentally reviewed the list of food products Norman had told her to buy. It wasn't as if she would forget anything, she had a perfect memory, but it made her feel better if she did things the way humans did. The way the real Dorothy might have done them. It was this urge for normalcy that drove her to play the piano, beside the fact that she actually liked the musical instrument. The notes would tingle in her mind, whispering to her, as if they could tell her what she truly wanted to know.

She shook her head, wondering at her own thoughts. She was getting more whimsical by the day. Pretty soon she would be drooling over men and spending hours in front of a mirror. Ugh.

Hiding a grimace, she glided through the automatic doors of the grocery store as they slid open for her with a faint hiss. The air inside was slightly cooler than outside and she gave an involuntary shiver as her body adjusted to the change in temperature. Shoes clicking against the smooth floor tiles, she grabbed a shopping basket and started down the first aisle, immediately grabbing a loaf of french bread. It was an irony that they sent the only one who couldn't taste food to do the shopping. Not that she didn't like to come here, it lightened something in her to be able to help Norman out, and it let her get out of the huge mansion and breathe some fresh air. It helped her to forget. And remember.

She didn't like memories, especially the ones that haunted her dreams at night. They frightened her, if anything could. She didn't like what she couldn't understand, feeling helpless when she knew she should be strong. The feeling of vulnerability wasn't something that fit well on her and she often struggled to contain it during the day, letting the images come only at night. After all, they were only dreams. Weren't they?

"Oh, excuse me, miss." A low voice said, as she felt someone bump into her. She looked up, finding her balance as she did so, to meet the contrite face of a young man. He had unruly blonde hair and pale blue eyes that held only a hint of color. She supposed he would be handsome to other girls, but she found him to be somewhat cold. Nothing like Roger.

"Sorry about that," He continued, smiling at her. "I guess I'm a bit clumsy today."

Expressionless, she looked into his eyes. "It's all right, you're only human."

Missing the deeper meaning of her words, his smile grew. "Of course." He held out his hand to her. "My name is Michael Price, it's nice to run into you, Miss...?

"Dorothy," She supplied, slipping her small hand into his and shaking it. She left off her last name. It wasn't really hers anyway.

"Dorothy. That's a pretty name." She arched an elegant eyebrow at him, feeling some kind of warning go off in her head. He went on. "Doing a little bit of shopping?"

Why else would she be in a grocery store?

"Yes." She replied, flatly, turning back to the shelf of spices before her.

"Need some help?"

What was the matter with this man? Did she look like she needed help? He was making her uncomfortable with his attention, she wasn't used to it. Especially not from someone she had only just met. The warning flickered in her head again, a subtle kind of apprehension that told her something was wrong. Woman's intuition? If only.

"No."

He stepped away from her, a funny look on his face. "Oh. Well, I'd better get going. Nice to meet you, Dorothy."

She didn't reply as he hurried away, feeling more relaxed as she lost sight of him around the end of the isle. The warning died in her head and she took a deep breath, dropping a small canister of garlic in her basket. Why had that man talked to her? And why had she felt so nervous? It wasn't like her to be nervous around strangers. She was fully capable of taking care of herself so why had that one man made her so tense?

Shrugging, she picked up a couple of packages of dried pasta and made her way to the register to pay for her purchases. She took her change from the cashier and picked up her paper bag, heading for the door. Once outside she let the warm sunlight calm her as she picked her way delicately towards home, and safety.

* * * *

"But Norman, it was very strange, and I felt that something was going to happen. It made me...nervous." She said, quietly, tracing invisible patterns on the polished tabletop. Norman glanced at her as he stirred the spaghetti.

"That isn't unusual. It sounds to me that this man was interested in you." She thought she saw him smile to himself.

"What do you mean 'interested'?"

He cleared his throat and stirred the noodles a bit faster. "Well, I think that young man just wanted to get to know you better. You are a pretty young woman, Dorothy, it is not strange that men would be attracted to you."

She blinked. Pretty? Attracted? Was he still talking about her? When she remained silent, Norman turned to look at her, wiping his hands on his white apron.

"Don't worry, my dear. If it disturbs you so much then ignore him if you see him again." He gave her a gentle look. "But it certainly wouldn't hurt you to make a new friend. You never know, it might be exciting."

She rose slowly from the table, feeling confused. She didn't think Norman saw the whole picture and she was sure that the warning she had felt was more than just a nervous reaction to a man. Still, she knew little about feelings, maybe he was right...

"I think I will go to bed early, Norman. I don't really feel like eating anything." She strode smoothly from the kitchen as her friend breathed a quiet 'good night' and went back to his pasta with a serious look on his face.

* * * *

Roger stirred the noodles on his plate with his fork absently, his black eyes focused on the candle flame in the middle of the table. It was too quiet at the table without Dorothy and Norman had never been much of an interesting conversationalist. At least Dorothy spit out a few sarcastic remarks every once and awhile. He found he missed that steady voice of hers that sometimes reminded him of some distant music, and he wondered why she had decided not to eat with them that night.

"Norman, did Dorothy tell you why she wanted to turn in early?" He asked, his eyes shifting to his long time butler. The older man shifted before looking up to meet his eyes.

"It seems she met a young man in the market today, Master Roger. From what she told me it sounded like he was interested in her and it seems to have confused Miss Dorothy." He chuckled. "She seems to think he was dangerous."

Roger frowned. A man had tried to come on to Dorothy? Of course, it wasn't surprising, she was pretty, but...his Dorothy? Whoa, wait a minute, where had that come from? Dorothy wasn't his, well, she did work for him and he was supposed to be protecting her. Besides, what right did some strange man who was probably some low-life criminal have to talk to Dorothy? He could just see it, some scuzzy looking freak tried to grab the slim android as she walked innocently by...He ground his teeth together.

First thing's first: Ban all trips to the grocery store.

Second: Fit her with some kind of tracer so he knew where she was at all times.

Third: Never let her out of the house...

He took a deep, calming breath. What was wrong with him? Why was he reacting this way? You would have thought he was in--- He stood from the table quickly.

"I think I'll get some sleep myself. Good night, Norman." He turned on his heel and disappeared into the shadowed hallways.

At the table, Norman sat back and smiled knowingly at the ceiling.

* * * *

In another part of town, a lone figure stood silently on a balcony overlooking the city of amnesia, contemplating evil thoughts. There was a brief flash of light as the silhouette lit up a cigar, pale smoke drifting away on the night breeze. A low chuckle graced the air.

"Enjoy what you have, Roger Smith," The shadow grated to the sky. "For soon I will have everything you hold dear.

Everything."


tbc...



Author's Note: Okay, guys, take it easy, this is my first Big O fic so have some compassion! I'm usually over in the Gundam Wing section, so...*grins* I hope it turned out okay. I felt I could write Dorothy better than I could Roger so I hope he wasn't OOC. *shrugs* I just watched ACT 13: *sigh* wasn't that last scene great? Where she stood beside him to help him because of his wound? *faints* Well, hope this gives all the Roger/Dorothy fans a warm fuzzy feeling! Not too much romance yet but there will be! Thanks for reading! *hugs*

Hey RiverDolphin! Sorry you didn't get to read this before hand. I was so inspired I had to post this right away! I'll send you the next chapter! *big hug*


Please review! *hands out cookies* "I swear, it's not a bribe..."