Warmth
Linda/Imprefectlin/Linables

There was a loud "thud" as Jenny's feet hit the ground after she exited the school bus. The school year was drawing slowly to a close- only three more weeks, and she would be on summer vacation. She was kind of upset about not going to school, though. She'd finally made a few good friends in her freshman year (she was now a sophomore), and wasn't causing too much unintended chaos. She'd managed to make the burning-down-the-school incident her first and last. She smiled at that. But then again, summer meant ice cream, skateboards, movies, parties, Brad...

Wait, where'd that come from? Jenny shook her head and dismissed the thought.

Walking home from the bus stop, Jenny idly kicked a rock on the sidewalk. It bounced a few times, rolling a few feet, then, unsurprisingly, flew straight ahead at lightning-speed towards a house when Jenny accidently kicked it too hard. She gasped, ignited her pigtail-rocket boosters, and sighed to herself as she flew towards the house. She caught the rock before it hit the house, but skidding to a stop from such a run wasn't easy. She turned sharply and chrashed through the gate enclosing the yard beside the house. She stood up, and examined the considerable damage her skidding had done to the lawn. She'd deal with that later. As Jenny walked past a window of the house, she saw two people inside...

They were teenagers, a little older than her, and there was a boy and a girl. They were snuggled up on the couch, touching, hugging, and every now and then engrossing themselves in a long, passionate kiss. Jenny was well aware she was being completely rude, but she somehow had to stay and watch. The boy was running his hands up and down his girlfriend's arms, which were all skin since she was wearing a tank top. He stopped the movement for a while when they kissed again, and ever-so-slightly squeezed the flesh of her upper arm. For some reason, Jenny felt like crying.

You know, I've never been just like you
And you know I always wanted to
I'm screaming inside, this mordant abyss
That I'd rather die than live
Forever like this
A want a real feeling
Not a programming error
I wanna be something that I can call true
'Cause my touch isn't tender
As hard as I try
I'll never be capable of lovin' you

She clasped her own right hand onto her upper left arm. She knew it was for nothing, but she pressed down with her fingers. Solid as steel. Hell, it WAS steel. Before she knew it, Jenny was running lightspeed toward her house, tears trailing behind her. Some distance away, a boy was walking home from school as well, and saw Jenny run into her house and slam the door. "Hmm...what's up with her?" he wondered. He was conserned, so he turned on his heel and made a bee line towards the house. He knocked on the door for well over a minute before Jenny's mom answered it.

"Where's Jenny!?" he automatically blurted out. "She's in her room...I'd go and get her for you, but she seems to be very upset." Brad took a sharp breath and quickly gave the house a once-over. "Can I go up there?" he asked, and Mrs. Wakeman reluctantly agreed. She reached the door first, and knocked on it. "Dear, there is som..." "GO AWAY!" came the reply. "Sorry, Jenny, he wants to talk to..." "I DON'T!" Mrs. Wakeman started to get agitated. "XJ-9!" she shouted, and a loud laser blast crashed through the door, leaving a huge, gaping hole. With that she turned away, grumbling, and walked down the stairs.

Brad stood outside of the half-door, tentatively gazing through the hole at Jenny lieing face-down on her bed. He hesitated and put one foot through the hole. "Uh...Jen..." he said, and she looked up. "Brad?" she gasped, righting herself and getting into sitting position on the bed. Brad climbed through the hole in the door. "Hey," he said, sitting down next to Jenny on her bed and putting a comforting arm around her shoulders. "What's up?" Jenny sighed and wiped away a tear. Then, for some reason, she put her head on Brad's shoulder, causing his arm to slide down to her waist. His arm shook a little in surprise, but soon he relaxed and turned to Jenny.

"I...can't say." Jenny said through a muffled sob. "Come on, Jen! It'll be better once you get it off of your chest." Jenny stared at her wall for a long while, sniffled and hugged closer to Brad. "You're really warm..." she said absentmindedly, and with the realization, she looked up. They shared an awkward glance, then Jenny's eyes teared again and she stood up, and started walking towards her bedroom window. But Brad grabbed her arm. "Don't go!" he said, and stared at her quietly for a few moments. "I really wanna talk to you, Jenny."

She gradually pulled herself back over to the bed, and took a deep breath. "Now, really tell me what's on your mind, Jenny." Brad said. "I'll do whatever I can to make things right." Jenny smiled a feeble smile. She said once again, "You're really warm...and I'm...not." Brad stared at her, trying to grasp what she was saying. "I'm not sure I understand," he said. Jenny closed her eyes quickly and reopened them. "I'm never gonna be like you." she said, and Brad, thinking he caught her meaning, said back, "It doesn't matter! You're hella fun, hanging with you is blast, you're wicked talented, and you're saved me and Tuck's lives on more that one occasion! You don't have to be...human."

And I look in your eyes, and inside I'm breakin'

Well just hold me, I know we can work out some way

But I'm touching your hand, and my courage is shakin'

I'll love you forever, I don't care what you say

"It's...not that..." Jenny sobbed. "Then what is it?" Brad was genuinely concerned. "I can't feel the way I...well, I can't...I can't do anything about how I feel, and I'm being torn up! I don't understand why I've got such limitations! I have feelings, but I don't know what to do with them...or really even what they are...you know, and no one can give them...no one feels like I do!" Brad still wasn't on her wavelength, but he was going to try his best to help. "Jenny, I'm not sure still...what exactly you mean...but, let me assure you, you can always be as open with me as you need to. Go ahead, share your feelings. You really are a normal, beautiful girl in my eyes."

Jenny's cheeks briefly flushed blue. Somehow a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Even if nobody still understood, she was so grateful to Brad for trying, and always being there, wanting to help her, even if he knew he couldn't. She smiled. "Thanks, Brad." He leaned over to give her hug, and she returned it wholeheartedly. "Jen..." Brad said. A bead of sweat was building up on the side of his face, Jenny noticed. Weird. It was seventy degrees inside the room..."Hey, I've got something to ask...tell...er...confess to you." Brad said, and Jenny watched him openly with curious eyes. "Yeah?"

"I think I..."

"You what?"

"I...man, this is hard to say!"

"I can relate..."

"I think I..."

"Tell me! Please!"

"I think I lo..." his voice faltered. Once it came back, the words flew out of his mouth.

"I think I...no, I...know I...I love you, Jenny!"

You don't really wanna give up that much
I'll never fit in your arms that way
Forsake reality, you're soft to my touch
You'll fit in my arms, forever you can stay

Jenny's cheeks went blue again, then the color extended slowly to a full-face blush. "You do?" she asked, bewildered but...hopeful. Brad nodded. "Yeah. I do." Jenny had never been in this kind of situation. "So...what now?" she asked, and was instantly embarrased by her question. "Well," Brad said, leaning close. "I would like to..." He leaned ever closer. His eyes closed by instict, as did hers. But before closing the gap, Jenny opened her eyes. "Wait!" she said, and Brad opened his too. "What?" he asked. "It...it's perfectly okay if you don't want to...I mean...maybe I came on a little...too fast..."

"No, it's not that." Jenny said for the second time that evening. "I...love you too..." Brad inhaled sharply. Jenny closed her eyes. "It's just that...I've got...metal lips." She said, and hung her head down in shame. "I don't care," Brad said. He took Jenny's arms and pulled her close to him. "I want to kiss you, Jenny." "I...I...well...okay, but I can't guarantee you'll...like it..." Brad smiled and leaned forward. Jenny, never been kissed, followed his lead. Her wires heated up as she felt his warm breath on her face. And his hands...on her...arms...her hand behind his neck...

I'm always a misfit, the knowledge grew cold
If your heart's made of metal
Then baby, it's gold!
If you really think so...
Yeah baby, I do!
I'll think about takin' my chances with you...
'Cause you're all, you're all that I know

It was a strange sensation. Like melting, Jenny though. Becoming light as air...weight being lifted off her. "Hey," Brad said into her mouth. "It doesn't feel like you have metal lips..." Jenny pushed forward a little, curious, and they kept kissing until Brad had to stop for breath. He took a breath. And gasped. "Jenny!!!" he shouted. "LOOK!" "What? Where!?" Jenny exclaimed, frantically searching the room with her eyes. "Look at you!" Brad exclaimed, and Jenny looked over towards her mirror. Her breath was taken away. She got up and walked closer to it, holding out a hand in front of her, as if to make sure it was real.

"Oh my God..."

And I look in your eyes, and inside I'm breakin'
Well just hold me, I know we can work out some way
But I'm touching your hand, and my courage is shakin'
I'll love you forever, I don't care what you say

Jenny's hair was no longer blue. It was bright orange-red. Her skin was no longer white. It was the color of flesh. Her clothes were no longer metal. They were fabric. Brad came up behind her and took both of her hands in his, then wrapped both their arms around Jenny. The came a voice from the intercom at the other side of the room. "I'm afraid it's not permanent, Jenny." said her mother's voice. They both turned around. "Come into my lab, both of you. I really should have told you this earlier..." Jenny and Brad looked at each other, then dashed out of Jenny's room and into the science lab.

Once there, they sat down in two chairs near the one Mrs. Wakeman was sitting in, and waited. "XJ-9..." she said. "Jenny...you have just discovered the only feature of yourself not mentioned in the guidebook." Jenny stared at her, amazed. "When I built you, Jenny, I had a thought in the back of my mind. I've always told you I invented you to save the world, and yes, that is part of the reason. But I also wanted something I'd never been able to have...a daughter. I'd always wanted one. But sadly, my husband was infertile...and he passed away before we could think about adoption. So I came up with you. Killing two birds with one stone, wasn't it? Have a daughter, and be responsible for keeping the world safe. I didn't want you to be so different...really, I didn't. I couldn't build you any other way, though, so I installed a feature only I knew about. You can see that you now have a human body- it's ninety-nine percent pure. There is a microchip in your brain that will give a command to change you back into XJ-9 after one hour. You are a real modern-day sleeping beauty, Jenny my dear, because this metamorphosis won't take place except for in one situation. I knew someone would love you. Once you found...your soulmate, they would have the power to change you. You know how, right? You changed, Jenny, when this young man kissed you. Congratulations, Jennifer. And to you, too, Bradley. It seems that your love of my daughter...will be to both of your benefit."

Jenny, with teary eyes, jumped up and gave her mother the most loving hug she could ever manage. "I...can't...believe it...I never thought you'd...do that for me." Jenny looked up and smiled brightly at her mother. "I love you, mom." she said. Her mom returned the smile. "I was your age once too...what's a teenager without a love life?"

Jenny hugged her mom once again, as did Brad, who then took Jenny's hand and led her out of the lab. They walked back up to her room, turned all the gadgets off, and blocked the door...

Just take my hand, and be with me now
Forget about life, it'll work out somehow
Lay beside me, yeah, we'll touch all the stars
Jenny, I've never been brought in this far!
I know what I want
And that's just what you are...

They faced each other once they were in an open space, and Brad wrapped his arms around Jenny's waist. "What now?" he whispered with a coy smile. Jenny leaned in towards him. "I want to kiss you, Brad..." And they did. They only had an hour, Jenny thought, so what the hell...they let everything go and just felt each other. It was a natural instinct that came with all life apparently...Jenny licked Brad's lips the slightest bit, and squeaked as his tougue probed hotly into her mouth, finding hers and adding to the wonder. They touched, kissed, caressed...Brad's hands found Jenny's upper arms and ran up and down them gently.

Fondling Brad's hair, Jenny felt one of his hands give a slight squeeze...