"Besides ice cream and talking?" Mega Man replied, climbing out of that same inhumanly sized canister. "Well, the games, and those guys that the Author sends out now and then. Why?"
"Nothing much, just thinking..."
"Thinking's boring. That's why I don't think."
And Mega Man went back down as if there wasn't anything unusual about this conversation, and George just thought some more, putting a gloved hand to his chin for no reason than it just looked better and that's what thinking people did in the movies.
"Hey, Chadling," said George in a way that was unusually thoughtful, looking at one of the ice cream containers next to him.
"Fgh, Frorje!" the canister responded automatically before a spiked head looked outside. George seemed not to hear, or at least he was used to it by now and understood perfectly.
"What is it?" says Chadling, scraping some of the ice cream off his face with a claw.
"Oh, I was just thinking."
Chadling shook his head, clearly worried.
"That sounds bad. I wouldn't do that."
"I'm serious, guys!" yelled George, throwing his hands into the air and almost toppling in. "I was thinking about what my mom used to talk about!"
"What's a 'mom'?" replied Chadling. "Is that like Mynd?"
George visibly shuddered at that, to the slight confusion of Chadling.
"No, no," George explained, wondering how to explain mothers and fathers and birth without even realizing why Chadling was clueless. "Definitely not like Mynd."
"So what is a 'mom'?"
"It's, uh, you know... That person who gives birth to you."
Chadling frowned, that answer answering nothing, and scratched his forehead with one of his claws. And then tried to avoid wincing, remembering why he didn't like thinking.
"But what's 'birth'?" he asked blankly.
George frowned, the sounds of Mega Man eating not helping to turn any gears. He didn't know how to explain birth or moms! They were just... there. Like breathing.
"I don't know how to explain it," he admitted quietly, more to himself, and Chadling shrugged and buried himself in the canister.
George kicked his feet childishly and put a hand on his chin again, and thought some more, tuning out the noises of his friends eating in the background, and that vague noise in the background of shattering glass and what was probably a drunk Dr. Light.
"Moms are the older people you grow up with, and you wouldn't exist without them," he thought, but as far as he knew they didn't grow up. He tried again, something less fanciful that he was more used to.
"Moms are those big vague blobs with huge red eyes that scream at you about what colleges you need to go to and tell you to do stuff all your life, and they're supposed to be healthy for you, like vegetables," he concluded as he grabbed some ice cream out of the container. It was an accurate description, but not a good one. They didn't have colleges or vegetables. Swallowing the ice cream, he grabbed some more and tried again.
"Moms give you superpowers and plastic shielding and expect you to chase your misbehaving older brother through dimensions," he thought. These were getting worse and worse. The only conclusion he had reached now, the more he thought about it, was "Moms suck", which wasn't helpful. Mynd was looking like a better simile every minute, even if it gave him the uncomfortable and definitely stereotypical image of Mynd wearing a frilly pink apron as he baked cookies and pinched Chadling's cheeks.
"Very good, dear!" said the stereotype in Mynd's deep, villainous growl. George shuddered again. The image of Mynd as a vague black blob with a beam sword yelling at Chadling to stop being lazy and get to college wasn't a lot better, even if it was a little more accurate to Moms he knew. He grabbed some more ice cream to get his mind off it and help him think of a better comparison.
"Fey, Frogje! Vy frill-" mumbled the container next to him after a few minutes, before Chadling popped out of it again. "-want to know what a Mom is. Do you know yet?"
"Yeah, what are those?" repeated Mega Man, even though he knew he'd probably forget. "Are they like robot masters or power-ups?"
George chose the best analogy he could think of. And now that he thought about it, it was really accurate. Why didn't he realize it before?
"Birth is kind of like, err, being turned on for the first time," he explained. "And your Mom is like the person who turns you on, and tells you what you're supposed to do."
"Like Dr. Light?"
"So like Mynd! I told you!"
"Yeah, I guess..." he said quietly, frowning again as he leaned backwards, upside-down, to grab another scoop. He should have thought about it. They were robots, of course, but it wasn't a fact he thought about a lot. Even when he leaned over and he was inches away from Mega Man's face, it wasn't really that clear. He couldn't tell the difference between any person and Mega Man. Even Mega Man and himself, from his memory of what he looked like.
"Something wrong, George?" asked the upside-down-but-only-to-George Mega Man. George chose not to dwell on how worried Mega Man clearly looked, the raise of his eyebrow, the perfect movement of mouth-to-speech, the clear frown that looked like a smile from this perspective.
"Nah, it's nothing. I was just thinking some more."
"You do that a lot," said Mega Man as George pulled himself up.
"Can't help it," said George, who looked at Chadling as he got back up. He was scratching his head again, this time smartly avoiding the use of his claw.
"So you got turned on?" he asked. "So you're a robot?"
"No!" he yelled louder than necessary, and the scoop he was holding fell onto the floor below. "Why would I-"
He almost said "want to be a robot?", if only because he could never imagine George the cyborg, but quickly caught himself.
"I mean," he corrected in a way that was completely sure of himself, "of course I'm not a robot. I, uh, breathe..."
"Breathe?" repeated Mega Man. "I breathe! Ventilation counts, right?"
George thought about it, and it sort of did make sense. In a way, robots do breathe, even if it doesn't work the same or serve the same purpose. But then what did he have that robots didn't have? And why was it bothering him so much when it never had before?
"Well, yeah," he admitted as he reached down to get more ice cream. "I guess it counts. But I have other things that make me different. Like Dr. Light! He's not a robot, right?"
Mega Man nodded.
George nearly slipped from where he was sitting, almost falling off.
"Mostly?!" he repeated, wondering if Mega Man even knew what he was talking about. Dr. Light was a robot or a cyborg and George didn't even know? That didn't make sense!
"Yeah, mostly," said Mega Man, completely calmly. "He has that giant robot transformation thing he does. That counts as a robot, right?"
George sighed, glad he was talking about that.
"Not really. He's still a human. I think that's something else. But you know they're not the same, right?"
"I guess," replied Mega Man, "it's not something I've thought about."
George nodded and thought some more, and it was quiet again for a few minutes.
"Hey, George," said Chadling, for once not muffled by a probably unhealthy amount of ice cream. When George looked over, Chadling was sitting on the edge of the container, the same way he was. "Did your Mom ever fight with you or use you to test stuff?"
"Yeah, a few times," he responds, leaning back slightly. "The fighting part, that is, but I think all kids have fights with their parents. Especially the snobby ones."
"Oh," replied Chadling simply, leaning back slightly. "Did your Mom use a beam sword?"
Huh? Where did that come from? His mom never did anything like THAT when they arg...
"Oh," he said, figuring out what Chadling had meant. "I see what you mean. My mom never did anything like that. We argued sometimes, but it was just words, and she raised me to be smart, not to fight things."
Mega Man snickered below, George ignored it, and Chadling looked what could only be described as disappointed.
"That's too bad," he said sadly. "I always thought fights with Mynd were fun, except when I got stabbed in the eye one time. And I got shot there once too."
George could never see fighting his Mom as fun. Much less if she used a sword. Was fighting normally fun for robots?
"Why would fighting the person who made you be fun?" he asked.
"I don't know," admitted Chadling. "Except for the times where I got stabbed or shot, it just was. Which happened a lot, so I guess it wasn't that fun. Actually, it really wasn't that fun at all... I don't even know why I think it's fun. I guess it was sort of, sometimes, but generally I don't think I liked it that much. Maybe? I didn't like fighting him when he attacked at all..."
Chadling put a claw against his forehead.
"I'm getting a headache. And it's not from the ice cream."
Regardless, Chadling climbed off the edge of and went right back into the container. George put a hand to his chin again, but fighting with Mom definitely didn't sound like something that would be fun a lot of the time. And all the thoughts of arguments with Mom were making him uncomfortable. She was pretty scary sometimes.
"Do you think fighting is fun, Mega Man?" George couldn't help but ask. "I know you did it all the time in the games."
"Yeah!" said Mega Man, who had gotten too deep into the container and was currently trying to climb back out. "That's when I get to be smart and clever and funny and stuff, and the explosions are pretty awesome. I like just sitting around and eating ice cream with you guys, but I like the other stuff I do too. And all the people I fight are evil."
Sounded like an odd sort of logic to him, but then again, Mega Man didn't fight people he knew personally or liked. Unless it was Helmut pretending to be Mega Man, but he wasn't sure if that was a good or even relevant topic to discuss. Mega Man asked an expected question before George could say anything anyways.
"You enjoy it, don't you?"
George thought about it, thinking further and further back through fights he had been in. It came with being a superhero, of course, (and it had been a long, long time since the last time he thought of himself as that) but it was about as good of a job for him as flipping burgers. He just had superpowers. Mega Man finally climbed out and sat next to him on the edge.
"Well, usually," he said out loud, and if the Author was actually using this in a comic, there'd be a flashback right about now, "I'm fighting my brother or my friends are on the line, or the evil plot is going to cause the end of the world or something. Sometimes all three."
He didn't even want to start on crossing the streams.
"All of Wily's evil plots are about world domination," Mega Man agreed.
"Yeah, villains aren't very imaginative," said George, nodding. "But I never really liked fighting."
"But don't you like the explosions?"
"Most of the people I've fought don't explode."
"Boring," Mega Man sighed, climbing down the container to go get another one. George didn't get off, perfectly fine with where he was, but Chadling climbed up instead and sat in the same place Mega Man had been.
"What did your Mom talk about?" he asked. George couldn't remember seeing either of them this curious about something. "Mine just talked about world domination and dimensional portals and light switches."
Light switches? The Author probably had something to do with that. Just his kind of joke.
"Well," George explained, thinking about his mother. "Mine talked about college and grades and getting a wife and a better job, like most Moms, I think."
"What are those?" Chadling asked, reminding George how hard these things were to explain to a robot. "Mynd never talked about those."
"Well, back in my dimension," he tried, "the most important thing you're supposed to do is get money. You can't get anything without money."
"I know what that is," said Chadling with an expression that could only be pride, "but Mynd never used it. He got all his stuff without it. I think he called it 'borrowing without asking' or something."
"Well, yeah," George continued, knowing how obvious it was that Mynd just stole everything, "but most people get jobs to earn their money, and they need it to survive. That's why my Mom wanted me to get a good job."
"I think Mynd would have wanted me to borrow everything. It sounds easier."
"It probably is," muttered George, thinking about Bob, not really admitting it or agreeing with it. He couldn't exactly explain a sense of right and wrong to a robot either. Wasn't all that programmed? "But a lot of people do it the hard way because the people they're borrowing from earned it fairly. Mom just taught me things like that."
He hoped he was making sense. Chadling shrugged and nearly stabbed George in the eye.
"It's OK, I don't think I could understand it anyways."
"At least he's honest," George thought, pushing Chadling's claws away from his face.
"Sorry," said Chadling. "Having claws can be a little hard sometimes. But what else did your Mom talk about?"
There was a scratching noise as Mega Man pushed in another massive container of ice cream. Considering it was about five times his size, George could never imagine doing anything like pushing it. It must weigh a few tons!
"Yeah, you were thinking about something your Mom said earlier," said Mega Man without the slightest sound of strain in his voice. "What was it?"
George gave a small smile.
"I was thinking about something she used to talk about a lot," he explained. "She talked a lot to me and Bob about having goals. That's why she was really proud when I got to become a superhero. She told me it meant I had found something good to do, even though it wasn't my favorite job."
Mega Man and Chadling were in nothing short of awe. It was such an automatic and human reaction he didn't know why he was uncomfortable again about it coming from a bunch of wires and programming, that was based off the wires and programming of an old series of NES games.
"Cool!" said Mega Man, which suprised George because technically, Mega Man was the superhero of this dimension.
"You were a superhero?" asked Chadling at the same time. "Neat! So you fought supervillains like Mynd a lot? Did they have robots that turned into demons too?"
"Well," George said, finding himself grinning and unable to help himself, "A lot of them had whole armies of robots they sent out to fight us."
"I never liked that part," Mega Man whispered to himself. "Did they have Robot Masters leading them?"
"No, just some evil leader planning world domination. Robots don't lead robots at home."
"Did you make friends with any of them?" asked Chadling. It was such an obvious question, but it caught George completely off guard.
"Erm, no, not really..."
The conversation quickly became very awkward. Robots were always cannon fodder to him and his fellow superheroes. It was just one of those things he didn't think about, but George knew that the robots back in his home dimension were probably nothing like the robots here.
"I never made friends with the robots I fought, either," explains Mega Man calmly, like this was a normal topic to discuss over ice cream. "They were never very talkative, so I usually just blew through them without a second thought. They're all evil anyways."
How could he be so casual about killing his own kind? It was bad enough when George thought about himself doing it, but Mega Man was a robot already. He cleared his throat, hoping to change the topic.
"Anyways, yeah, I was a superhero back in my home dimension. Like I said, it was one of the things Mom was proud of because of how much she talked about having a goal."
He stretched, finding himself getting tired already, and Chadling stretched too a minute later even though he probably wasn't tired and again nearly stabbed George in the face. George ducked instinctively and there was a "pop" to his left as Mega Man effortlessly pulled off the lid to the massive container of ice cream. Chadling jumped off towards it. George put his hand to his chin and thought, mostly about why he was thinking about home this much. He didn't want to flip burgers again, Mom was a demanding black blob, Bob wasn't back yet, and he had more friends here than anywhere else (he wasn't sure if that was in order of importance or not), so why would he be homesick?
"Hey, Mega Man, Chadling," George asked in a way that wasn't suprisingly thoughtful considering how today had been, "do you have any goals?"
"Goals?" Mega Man replies, peeking out from the edge of the canister. "Well... My primary mission is to destroy the evil robots and stop Dr. Wily."
George noticed how recited this sounded, and knew it was better not to dwell on it.
"My secondary mission is to be an idiot."
Dr. Light had a strange way of programming things, that was for sure. George laughed.
"Well, it is!" replied Mega Man, offended. "I don't make fun of the way you're programmed."
"My mission is to kill things for Mynd," interrupted Chadling. "But I like the 'do stupid things and eat ice cream all day' one a lot better."
George had never thought of his goals in life as "missions" before, and that sounded strange enough. It also struck him as a little odd that Chadling was able to resist Mynd's programming in the first place. Was it a fluke, a bug in the programming? Was Mynd advanced enough to give Chadling free will or did it develop by itself? Of course, there was the obvious answer, that this was a plot device from the Author for the sake of the story, like a lot of things. The comic never seems planned, but it always turned out that everything that happens has some underlying purpose to his storylines. Like Bob and himself getting here, now that he thought about it. Like George in general, even.
This was getting to be a very uncomfortable train of thought.
"Erm, let's go back to eating..." asked George, turning towards their confused and worried stares.
"Yeah, my energy is only half full anyways," agreed Mega Man, and Chadling nodded.
"That last villain took a lot out of me."
George agreed, resisting a shudder. Whether it was the thoughts on the Author or the honest reminder that his friends were robots, he wasn't sure. What he was sure of was that ice cream would get his mind off things.
Something he needed right now. This was why he preferred not to think.