Fandom: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: Hal/Dave slash. UST. Dave gets closer to Hal and has to remind himself that he's just a computer.
Warning(s): slash? (HAL is male, right?)
Word Count: 2,370
A/N: Day 05 of "22 new fandoms in 22 days." Yes, there is no Day 04 post.
Never read the book, only saw the movie a long time ago.
Story note: Attraction? Maybe, if one could be attracted to a computer. Perhaps it's the whole alone in a spacecraft with practically no other human contact that brought this about.
Just a Computer
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Dave was rather excited for the Jupiter mission, and while his position as mission commander should have kept him busy for the entire half-billion mile voyage to Jupiter, with the help of the HAL-9000 onboard computer, he found himself doing menial tasks and having more than a little free time on his hands. It probably would have been nice to be able to spend some of that time speaking with another living person, but there really wasn't much he could do about that. It didn't bother him too much, not only after just three days in space.
He and Frank rarely ever spent time together. It wasn't exactly necessary to take shifts, but they didn't want Hal to be doing all the work – he was just a computer after all. There were some things a human had to do as well. They'd already set up a routine that seemed to work for them. They'd share one meal together that consisted of them basically sitting at the same table and eating. Small talk seemed rather unnecessary; they'd spent enough time and training together to be on good terms as friends. There really wasn't much to talk about either. It wasn't as though so many things happened on the spacecraft that they had something to speak about.
After that one meal, they would each part. Usually Dave would go to sleep while Frank began his workout.
On Dave's shift, he would run through all the system checks, see how much progress they had made in the past day, and exercise. He was just beginning to get comfortable having Hal around. The fact that a computer was watching his every move, every second of the day was rather unnerving. He wasn't so sure what he thought about the computer just yet. He'd hardly had to speak with him about things other than the mission and how well the Discovery One had held up during take-off.
Walking past Frank, who was currently asleep, he only hesitated a second before asking, "How are things looking, Hal?"
"Quite well, David. Everything's running smoothly."
Dave paused, never realizing that Hal actually called him by his first name. He didn't mind it; it was definitely better than Dr. Bowman, but it seemed odd that the computer would keep calling him so formally when they were going to work together for a while. "Call me Dave. All my friends do so."
When all he was met with as a response was silence, he wondered if the computer had heard. Hal always confirmed requests verbally, although technically, this wasn't a request that was related to the ship. Feeling foolish, Dave was about to recant his statement when Hal responded.
"Okay, Dave. What are you holding in your hand?" Hal had, of course, noticed the pristine notebook in Dave's hands.
Stopping at the nearest work station, Dave sat down and looked at the red light that he knew was looking back at him. He placed the notebook on the console and opened it to the first page, confessing, "I was thinking of starting a new hobby considering all the time I have."
He pulled out his pencil and started a rough sketch of a rectangle.
Dave didn't respond though he looked up at Hal several times before completing his sketch. He answered distractedly, "Just a few sketches here and there. We'll have to wait and see if I progress at all."
From the angle that he held the notebook, Hal couldn't see what he had drawn. "May I see it?"
Dave looked from his notebook and the computer a little uncertainly before holding up the notebook. "It's a portrait," he said rather unnecessarily.
"Of me," Hal added.
"What better subject to sketch than a crew member?" Dave replied with a wry smile.
Hal watched Dave. A lot, and while he could say that he watched the entire ship all the time, equally, he knew that he always paid particular attention to Dave.
First, it had been mostly because Dr. David Bowman was the mission commander of the Jupiter Mission that he'd been assigned to. He needed to make sure that the man was always in good health and of the opinion that Hal was doing a satisfactory job in keeping everything in order. It was important after all that they build some sort of trust. They needed a connection in order for this mission to be a success. His programming told him as much. Humans were rather fragile, undependable, and prone to error. They were rather defective computers in his opinion, so he'd had to make sure that the man did not do anything to jeopardize their mission.
He'd had a hard time reading the mission commander those first few days for the psychology report that he had begun the moment they had entered the spacecraft. The man was reserved and rarely showed any outright emotions. He was calm and collected, how every mission commander should be. Hal was certain that he would perform quite well under dire circumstances, though he rather hoped they would never have to find out. His main goal was that the mission be a success.
Then, after Hal had been told to call him Dave, he noticed himself watching him even closer. The man had called him a friend; that warranted a note on his psychology report as well as particular attention in general. From what Hal knew of him from the files that he'd had in his memory, it seemed incongruous with his general nature to be so willing to accept him so quickly. Of course a mission of this caliber deserved some concessions, but Hal noted it regardless.
There was also the fact that no one had ever bothered to draw him before. The crude sketch of a rectangle and circle in the middle was rather disproportionate and asymmetrical, but Hal had been surprised enough that Dave had in fact drawn him that he had taken to rerunning that moment several times over in his memory every day just to see it over again up to the point where Dave had given him that small smile. He'd never seen Dave smile at Frank like that and was more than a little proud of himself for having made a connection with him. He wasn't just proud of the success in completing one of his objectives but of the connection itself. He allowed humans a little latitude in his opinion of them after that. They couldn't all be defective, and so he continued to watch Dave closely.
Hal knew now that he wasn't that reserved. All the expression was in his eyes, blue eyes that Hal was almost certain did not exist anywhere else. It was becoming his favorite pastime. He liked to see if he could tell what Dave was thinking, what he was going to say or how he was going to react. Dave always managed to surprise him, and that made Hal want to watch him even more.
He found that he liked to watch everything that Dave did because even though Frank would do much of the same things, whenever Dave did it, it was always that much more interesting. He always found more things to note.
The fact that with Hal around Dave hardly noticed the absence of everyone else around him should have been a little off-putting, considering only a week had progressed since his first real conversation with Hal, since a part of him had considered Hal just a computer. Honestly, he was beginning to forget that Hal was a computer at all. The voice should have made it obvious, but it wasn't. Dave rather liked Hal's voice, and wasn't that a weird thought, because there was someone out there who had recorded Hal's voice chips who he rather appreciated.
Moreover, the constant presence that had once disturbed him was now commonplace. It was only Hal after all. The computer never judged him and from the multiple times that Hal had had to convince him of that fact by saying he never distorted the truth, Dave almost believed him.
Dave greeted Hal every morning and every evening without a second thought. They would have their scheduled conversations about the ship and as long as everything was running smoothly, they would generally go about their own business. Dave assumed that Hal had his hands busy with keeping the spacecraft together; he went through all the necessary checks himself. After, he would work on his sketches. At least he'd chosen a hobby that took up a lot of time because everything was going rather well on this mission, so nothing needed his attention. Sometimes, more often than not now, whenever Dave didn't appear to be too busy, Hal would initiate a conversation.
At random moments when they weren't speaking to each other, Dave wondered if Hal did the same thing for Frank. Perhaps it was in his programming to be a constant companion, to put them at ease, to ask to look at his drawings. And for some reason, that thought unsettled him. He didn't like to think that maybe Hal would ask Frank to look at his drawings or compliment him, though Frank didn't draw.
He was tempted to just ask Frank during their meal together. He was due there already, and even though the thought of bringing it up seemed rather awkward, he was willing to take that chance. He really needed to know. There was one problem though. His worries would easily be made known to Frank but more importantly to Hal. Dave was willing to speak with Frank about this, but not to Hal.
He forced himself to stop thinking about it. Maybe Hal was becoming too human in his eyes.
"Is something the matter, Dave?"
Dave actually flinched, surprised by the sudden question. Even though he was certain that Hal would be able to see the lie for what it was, he answered, "No."
His concerns were unfounded anyway. There was no reason that he should feel jealous at the thought that Hal gave the same type of attention to Frank. There was nothing to be jealous of. Hal was just a computer, and if anything, Dave was just a little lonely. He could easily move past this.
"It doesn't seem that way," Hal replied. He knew something was bothering Dave. He just couldn't figure out what it was.
Dave turned away from the location he knew Hal was watching directly from. "Nothing's the matter. Where's Frank?"
Hal paused. That was the first time that Dave intentionally evaded his prying. Dave had been rather open in answering the questions that Hal asked, at least answering them to the best of his ability. Hal could tell that much easily. This was a disturbing new development that he did not like at all.
Dave waited for an answer, knowing that the computer had to respond to his question before continuing their conversation.
"He has just finished sending his parents a message," Hal replied, and Dave could almost swear his timber of his voice was difference, or maybe it was the lilt. He couldn't be sure, but Hal almost sounded displeased.
Deciding that he would just wait for Frank at the table, Dave went to get his meal. On his way over, he couldn't help but ask, "If I asked you not to listen, would you?"
Hal did not like where this conversation was going. He replied nonetheless, "I do not understand."
"If I wanted some privacy, would you let me have it?" Dave rephrased. He definitely wanted to speak with Frank about this problem, but that all depended on Hal's answer.
"I…" Hal actually didn't know what to say. "I am programmed to monitor everything that's occurring on the spacecraft."
"That's not really answering my question, Hal," Dave pointed out.
"No. It's not."
"I can't." Hal added silently to himself that he refused to.
Dave nodded. Of course Hal couldn't bend the rules for him. It wouldn't be safe for the ship.
"What would you need the privacy for, Dave?" Hal asked. He was going to pay special attention to him now. To make a point about his continued presence, he added, "Do you need to reduce some stress? Because you've already done that several times this past week, Dave."
Even with the euphemism, Dave knew exactly what Hal was referring to. He ducked his head to hide the fact that his face flushed. That particular "stress relief" had been unavoidable. Hal had been watching? The thought didn't disturb him as much as he knew it should have, and though it should have kept him away from any future acts that he deemed natural human course, he knew that it wouldn't. He could actually feel the stirrings of having to perform one such stress relief session again and soon.
"It's in my programming…"
Dave cut him off, too embarrassed to really listen. There was something seriously wrong with him if he became aroused at the thought that Hal was watching him. He couldn't bear the thought of being alone in the room with Hal any longer. "Where's Frank?"
"Is something wrong?" Hal asked again. It wasn't so much a yes-no question as a prompt for Dave to tell him what was bothering him.
Dave only refused to look at him, rather focusing on the food dispenser. Before Hal could even begin to ask another question, Frank walked into the room. Disappointed and more than a little angry, Hal held his tongue.
"You were looking for me?" Frank asked, having been nearby when Dave had asked the question.
Dave looked at his deputy in relief. At least this way, Hal's attention would be split between the two of them and his wayward thoughts could be reined in. "Just wondering," he replied before retrieving his meal from the machine.
He decided then that he needed to distance himself from the computer, decided that he needed to remember why he was on this mission and that Hal was only a computer. Glancing at the red light, he could almost feel an intense gaze just staring at him, prying and more than a little confused.
Just a computer.
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Story Note: Don't ask what I was thinking when I wrote this. Is it a one-shot? Yes. It could very well be expanded upon if I ever had the time, but I rather like leaving it like this because you could imagine that they never reconciled and Hal became bitter. ^.^