Author's Note:This is a long overdue John and Mary romance fic! I felt they deserved it since they're very ignored, and they're the parents of my OC. This first chapter is an in-movie POV kind of thing, starting at a familiar scene and then taking off from there. If I continue it, it'll be a series of original one-shots. Hope you all enjoy!
No Splashing, No Diving
"The Lido deck is now closing…The Lido deck is now closing."
The artificial sky of the Axiom was dark and a crescent moon hung high on the ceiling with twinkling stars. Other lights on the deck began to shut off. All the humans, all clad in blue, were being carried in their hover-chairs in single file lines toward the exits.
All humans, that is, except for two.
A man and a woman were playing in one of the smaller pools. They were both still in their chairs, but they were kicking their feet and splashing each other with water. Unlike their fellow passengers, they did not seem to hear the computer's voice and both of their suits were red.
"Hey, stop that!" the man said.
"Make me!" the woman replied, splashing him again.
To anyone passing by, the exchange would have sounded like an argument. But if they had bothered to look away from their holo-screens and turn their heads, they would have seen that what was happening between this man and woman was the furthest thing from an argument.
The man continued to playfully kick water at the woman, who was now laughing too hard to kick back at him. He wasn't sure why, but he was really enjoying this. "I didn't know we had a pool!"
The lifeguard-bot, which was really nothing more then a glorified loud-speaker, scolded the two humans in a dull monotone. "No splashing. No diving."
"Ah, go on!" the man retorted. He swung his chair around and kicked water at the robot as hard as he could.
The machine burst into a shower of sparks and fell over, but not before attempting to repeat its fizzling message one last time. "No splashing. No …"
"Uh-oh, you broke it!" the woman teased. "You're gonna get in trouble, John!"
John turned back to her and grinned. "Nah, that bot was defective already. Say, how long has this pool been here, anyway?"
The woman, Mary, shrugged her shoulders. "Who cares? I'm not getting out until you're wetter then I am!"
She started splashing him harder then before, and soon they were both back to laughing again. After a while, both of them wound up out of breath and both equally wet. So they decided to put the splash fight on hold and went to get towels. There were no service bots around to serve them at this hour, but the racks were easy enough for the two humans to find on their own.
"That was fun." Mary said, rubbing her legs dry. "I mean really fun!"
John had his chair next to hers and was also drying himself. "Yeah! If I knew that pool was there sooner, I'd be out here splashing around every day!"
Mary giggled. "Me, too. It sure beats holo-dating, that's for sure!"
"Oh, you're a holo-dater?" John asked. He had met Mary no more then half-an-hour ago, so there was still much he didn't know about her. In fact, she was the first person he had ever talked to with no holo-screen in the way. Real life interaction with a real live person was proving far more interesting then the virtual type.
Mary rolled her eyes and sighed. "Holo-dating's not all it's cracked up to be. Listening to some guy drone on and on about how good he is at virtual tennis gets really old, really fast."
"Why? Don't you like tennis?"
"Sure I do, but I don't like men who think bragging counts as a conversation."
"Ah." John laid his towel on his lap and tried to come up with something else to say, something charming. "I like tennis, too."
That statement sounded more stupid then charming to him, but Mary smiled. "Maybe we could play each other some time."
John blinked. He had not expected that kind of response. Then something dawned on him. This was a date. He was on a date right now. It was going well. And he might get another one.
Then he realized he was staring at her. It was hard not to. Mary was very pretty, and she was smiling at him. John quickly looked away, feeling something very odd happening in his stomach. It was a bit uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. It was something completely new and a little scary.
Mary looked down at the towel in her lap, experiencing some rather unusual feelings as well. They weren't bad feelings, but they were very unusual. They had started somewhere around the time she had gone to the observation deck to watch the stars.
No, it was after that. After she had pulled John, a stranger at the time, over to the window and turned his screens off to point out the two robots flying outside. Right after his hand landed on top of hers, their eyes met. That was it. The weird feelings had started even before they said 'hi'.
Mary then brought John to the Lido deck to show him the pool she had discovered. When she had first seen it earlier that day she had been too amazed that it was there to actually go in. She had thought about it, but it seemed weird to do something that no one else around her was doing. There had been plenty of people lounging around on the deck, but none of them had so much as one toe in the water.
When she returned with John, the thought of what everyone else was doing never crossed her mind. She'd felt brave enough to not just go in the pool, but to play in it. And she hadn't even noticed when the computer voice announced that the deck had closed. Now there was nobody else around her except for a pair of stewards and John.
The humans sat side by side for several moments, completely quiet. Finally John's voice broke the silence. "Uh … sorry, I'm … not so good at this stuff …"
Mary smiled a bit nervously at him. "That's okay … Me, neither."
He smiled back and found himself staring at her again. But she didn't seem to mind. She was doing the same thing to him. He didn't mind, either.
Feeling more comfortable, Mary decided it was time to move up from basic small talk. "You know, I was just thinking … Have you ever felt alone in a crowd?"
John thought for a moment. "You mean like when there are tons of people around you, but you don't feel like they're really there?"
Mary nodded. "Yeah … I feel like that a lot. I mean, I've got friends, but I've only ever talked to them on my holo-screens. I don't think I've ever been with any of them for real." She looked up at the dome with its artificial night sky. "It's been the same with all my holo-dates. At the end of the day I'm always alone in my cabin, and I'm wondering, what's it all for?"
John leaned back in his chair and looked at the ceiling. "Now that you mention it, I think I've felt like that, too. Never really thought about it, though."
"I never thought about it, either, until today." Mary said, still looking at the fake sky. "I think I started to realize it after I met …What was his name? Oh yeah, Wally."
John looked over at her, a bit surprised. "Wally? That little robot? Did he do something to you?"
"No, no, nothing bad. But he turned off my screens. I was riding the People Mover, and I was talking to one of my friends, and then suddenly she was gone and this funny little robot was talking to me." She turned her head to look at him. "By the way, John, how did you meet Wally?"
John grinned. "Heh … It's kinda silly, I don't think you wanna hear it."
Mary pretended to be annoyed, knowing that he was teasing her. "Yes I do! Come on, I told you my story, now it's your turn!"
"Okay, okay!" John chuckled. "Well, I mistook him for one of those drink-bots, and I wanted him to take my cup. He didn't, so I got mad and started yelling at him, but I leaned over too far and fell out of my chair."
She gasped, as he had expected she would. Falling out of one's hover-chair was one of the only ways humans could hurt themselves on the ship. "Then these stewards showed up and redirected everyone's chairs to go around me. Can you believe that? I'm lying there on the floor, begging for help, and they're treating me like a roadblock!"
"That's awful!" Mary cried, now fully absorbed in his tale. "But what happened to Wally?"
"I'm getting to that. Just when I thought I'd be stuck on the floor forever, something's pushing me up off the ground. That was Wally. And then he introduced himself, like he wasn't even mad about the whole cup thing!"
"Aww, that's sweet!" Mary cooed. "He seemed like such a nice little guy when I talked to him. He doesn't look like the other robots around here, though. What do you think he does?"
John shrugged. "Beats me. He's no drink-bot, that's for sure."
Mary tapped her lower lip thoughtfully. "Come to think of it, he didn't act like the other robots, either. He seemed a lot more alive somehow."
"Alive?" John echoed with arched brows. "Like how?"
"I'm not really sure…" Mary murmured. "When we were on the People Mover, he wanted to get past me to this other robot. She was turned off, but they way he was looking at her and touching her, you'd almost think it was alive, too. He called her 'Eva', I think."
John's brows wrinkled together. "Hmm … Hey, did that other robot look like the one he was flying around with earlier? The white one?"
Mary's eyes widened in realization. "Yeah, yeah! That was Eva! She and Wally must be friends!"
John looked a bit skeptical. "What makes you think it's a she?"
Mary shrugged. "Because Eva's a girl's name."
John looked at her a little longer, then a he started to chuckle.
Now she was confused. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing … It's just, all this talk about robots being alive, and having girl names …" he cut himself off with his own laughter.
Her confusion quickly changed to annoyance. "Are you saying I'm crazy?"
"No, no! Well, maybe a little bit!"
She tossed her wet towel at his face. Then she stuck her nose in the air and turned away from him. "Hmph!"
John pulled the towel away from his confused face and found himself looking at the back of her chair. "Hey, I was just kidding, Mary! I didn't mean it, you're not crazy!"
Mary folded her arms and refused to look at him. She was starting to think it was a mistake to open up to him and that he was just as superficial as all the men she'd holo-dated before. Here she thought she'd finally met a man who would understand her, and he was laughing at her. It was beyond frustrating. Soon she would be back in her cabin alone and regretting the whole thing.
John wasn't aware of any of this, but he was sure that he'd really said something stupid, and had to fix it before it was too late. "Mary, I … I'm sorry, okay? I told you, I'm no good at this kind of stuff. I'm always saying the wrong things. But I really don't think you're crazy, not at all!"
Her chair was still turned away from him. No good. He had to try harder. In those few minutes John thought harder then he ever thought before, searching for the right words to say that would make Mary understand he was telling the truth and forgive him. Then he realized he didn't know the right words to say. He didn't have the first clue on how to be charming. All he knew was how to be his own stupid, clumsy self. But she had seemed to like him in spite of all that, so maybe it would work now.
John took a deep breath, and proceeded to speak more sincerely then he ever had in his life. "Mary, I think you're great. You're nice, and smart, and fun to be with, and you're really pretty, too …" He paused, trying to build some courage for the rest. There was that weird fluttering in his stomach again. "So, please don't be mad at me, cuz … I really want you to like me."
For a moment Mary still didn't answer. He waited, his stomach twisting itself into knots. Then she peered around her chair at him. "Do you mean all that, John?"
He sat up straight, looked her in the eye, and nodded.
Mary's chair turned around slowly. She put her hands on her knees and stared down at them. Her face looked redder then before. "That's good, because … I want you to like me, too."
John's face lit up. Being himself had worked. Now Mary had not just forgiven him, but she actually liked him. That was better then he could have hoped for. Then he realized that he was was getting warm. Too warm. He tugged at his collar. "Jeez, why is it so hot in here all of a sudden?"
Mary put a hand to her face. "I'm hot, too … Maybe we could go back to the pool, it's cool in there."
John grinned. "Ready for another splash fight? I won't go easy on you this time."
She grinned back. "Oh, yeah? I bet you couldn't even beat me to the edge!"
"Oh, it's on now! Last one in is a rotten egg-in-a-cup!"
They both aimed their hover-chairs at the pool and sped off, leaving behind their towels and the stewards warning them to slow down. Soon they were splashing each other again.
They wondered what diving would be like. Maybe they would try that next time.
To be continued...