AN: So... a while back, there was a contest on the XR Fan Club to see who could come up with the most random pairing for XR. Someone suggested Commander Nebula's desk. It didn't end up winning, but the idea intrigued me. So, this is the result. It probably should have been up sooner, but I kept convincing myself I needed to add something to it. It's been a couple months now and it's hardly changed at all, so I figured I might as well post it.
The door to the science bay slid open. XR peered out, making sure the coast was clear. Seeing no one, he slipped out into the hallway, rolling through the darkness in near quiet, the only sound the inevitable whir of his treads.
He was on a mission.
He was going to see her.
Something about her absolutely fascinated him. He had never known so much about another before…
And he wanted to know more.
He moved slowly, cautiously, so as not to bump into anything. He didn't want to make noise that would attract any kind of attention. He would have used the flashlights built into his eyes, if he wasn't afraid that someone would notice him. He didn't want anyone knowing what he was doing.
He'd convinced himself that they wouldn't understand. After all, they hadn't understood when he said he'd been in love with 42. And she'd had a face and a voice. How could he explain a relationship with someone who couldn't see or speak? Any communication she did had to be accomplished through very rough body language.
No, the others wouldn't understand. But even if they did, he wasn't sure he wanted them to know. Things were going so well between the two of them. And so far, he'd managed to keep it all a secret. Maybe that was the reason; maybe they were doing so well because no one knew about them. When he'd fallen for 42, he had told everyone who would listen – and everyone who wouldn't – about it. He wasn't going to let this become that.
She meant so much more. She'd given him more than he ever would have imagined possible. She was truly special. And he wasn't going to give her up if the others didn't approve.
Some part of him knew he couldn't keep this up. Night after night of no sleep was bound to take its toll on him eventually. Already he was finding it more difficult to concentrate during missions. …Well, he'd always been easily distracted, but still. His response time wasn't as fast as it usually was. When a tricky situation arose, a problem that required one of the countless gadgets built into him, he blanked as to which one to use. He knew he should be charging. He knew he should take at least one night to rest and re-energize. But he couldn't help it. He had to see her.
And he had to do it when no one else would know about it.
Yes, there would probably come a time when he could no longer hide it. Someone would find out, or he'd give himself away. But he'd cross that bridge when he came to it. Right now he was too excited, too happy, to think too far into the future.
XR reached Nebula's office and slipped inside. Only then did he dare light his eyes. He blinked; a pool of warm, white light fell into the room, illuminating the few objects in the rarely-used room. Nebula spent as much time out of the office as he could, and it showed, because it wasn't long before XR found the object of his mission.
He smiled. "Hey, girl…"
The desk in the corner of the room sat up. There was a pause as she adjusted to her surroundings. She took in the darkness, then the beam of light coming from the opposite end of the office… Sensing who was there, she bounced up and down, chirping in delight.
XR pressed a finger to his helmet. "Shh! We don't want anyone waking up."
She doubled over apologetically, before gliding silently towards him. He wheeled softly forward and met her halfway across the room. She jumped up, bending herself nearly in half as she stretched around him – the best hug she could manage. He draped his arms over her and hugged her back. She hummed happily.
"Good to see you, too," he whispered, patting her back.
She straightened out and lowered herself to the floor as quietly as possible, settling against him. A cable extended from his body. By now he knew exactly where he needed to plug in, but he still ran his fingers across her side, taking in the smooth, warm feel of her until he came to the right port. She let out a low whistle and nuzzled his side. His cable in place, he leaned against her, resting his helmet on his hand.
"So… what do you want to talk about?"
A month ago, he would have felt ridiculous, asking such a question to a piece of office furniture. But he knew better now. He knew more now, so much more than he ever thought possible.
Who would have known a desk could know so much. Who would have known a desk could feel so much, think so much, have so much to say. How unfortunate that she hadn't been given a mouth.
He could still recall all that he'd heard when he first plugged into her. Then it had just been for information about Nebula, but he had downloaded extra data merely by accident. And that data turned out to be so much more than he'd bargained for. During that brief time they were connected, she had transferred information to him he never would have guessed she had. Information about Nebula. XL. Star Command. Each one of his teammates. Even information about him. And he sensed that was only the beginning. That first exchange had left him burning to know more.
And so, after everyone was asleep, he would sneak out and find her. He came for data, but discovered so much more. Hopes. Dreams. Opinions. Fears. More emotion than he expected a desk to have. And, as if that wasn't enough, a dry sense of humor that eerily matched his own. It intrigued him, left him wanting to know more. Each time he came, they talked less and less about Star Command and more and more about her.
She told him how scared she'd been when Nebula had been captured, how she'd tried to fight for him. He reassured her that everything was all right now, that she'd done the best she could. She told him how she worried about Nebula sometimes, the way he could get so behind in his work. He sympathized; Nebula apparently meant a great deal to her, and he spent most of his time avoiding her. Well, he knew how that felt… She told him how she aspired to a more influential position in the technical management of Star Command. She told him about the clerical side of the space station; how the paperwork was handled, the way to go about any kind of request, how to get transferred, so on and so forth. She gave her opinion on where she saw room for improvement. Admittedly, he found this stuff boring, but she was so fascinated by it – it was her life, after all – that he tried to pay attention for her sake.
Not that she was totally dull. She made him laugh. She told him stories about Nebula that made him laugh so hard, he was reduced to tears. In fact, she had amusing stories about many of Star Command's personnel. And with each story, she added her own keen opinion about the people involved. She was surprisingly insightful. Well, he supposed that as a desk, she was able to observe others without calling attention to herself. No one felt that she was watching them, most likely because they forgot she could. They all simply saw her as a desk. True, so had he, but he knew better know. And besides, he knew what it meant to be forgotten, to be pushed to the back of the picture.
She told him how she hoped to find ways to improve herself. She wanted more drawers, she wanted more tools and gadgets for the Commander's convenience. He was supportive. She told him of her dreams with such hopefulness, such enthusiasm, such conviction that they could come true, it was hard for him not to believe with her. He had never known that kind of optimism. She told him of her wish for a better communication system, one that would allow her to be understood by the other personnel without the wild flopping about. It was frustrating, she said. She would like so much better just to speak her mind directly.
It was this dream he hesitated to support. A better communication system meant that she could speak to the others the way she spoke to him. He would no longer be the only one she could talk to. She had told him once how great it was to have him around, to have someone to listen to her. She told him he was the only one who understood her. That simple statement had filled him with such pride, such joy. He never thought someone could make him so happy. It surprised him in the best way.
He liked being the only one to communicate with her. The only one with whom she could share her thoughts. She needed someone to talk to, to confide in. She needed him. He was the only one who could understand her. The others wouldn't. Couldn't. No one had ever depended on him like that.
He liked feeling needed. She wasn't the only one who gained something personal from their nightly visits. Just by needing someone to talk to, and finding that someone in him, she'd given him a purpose. To her, he meant something. That made him feel special. Made him feel wanted. Made him feel loved.
He needed that.
And so he came back to her, night after night. And night after night she poured her soul into him. And he listened. Intently. He paid more attention to what she told him than he had to all the information of the Galactic Alliance. In a way, what she had to say was more important.
Eventually XR's internal alarms warned him that it would shortly be morning on Capital Planet, and everyone would be awake. He withdrew his cable with an irritated groan.
But he wouldn't leave without saying goodbye. He wrapped his arms around her, stretching them as far as they would go. Leaning over her, he closed his eyes and sighed. She purred contentedly.
He held on as long as he could before reluctantly pulling himself away. With one last pat, he left her side and retraced his path across the room.
He turned at the door with a promise.
"I'll be back tomorrow night."
Hope you enjoyed!
Reviews and critiques welcome.