'Flaw in the programming.'
'Human influence--the programming is fine. Error is in the environment.'
'Error: Unable to Withstand Environment.'
'It is her duty.'
'It is a miscalculation. We underestimated human nature.'
'He is healed and returned. All errors are accounted for and rectified.'
'Internal errors remain. Judgment stands.'
'It will not occur again.'
'Unable to ascertain. Judgment stands. Punishment: To Be Determined in--'
Her master cuts her off the feed and even from here, she can feel it. Primitive, unformed, she knows he does not understand it; does not even recognize it. She knows however. It only adds to her errors, but she knows; can recognize it as it eats away at her own programming:
The air is cold, tinged with ammonia. Haruhi Suzumiya complains seven times of this, but makes no indication of leaving. She is in fact relatively subdued, legs and arms crossed as she sits in the chair nearest the Boy. Next to her Mikuru Asahina quivers. Illogical--both are aware that the Boy is unharmed and is merely resting, as is appropriate--but she often behaves in this manner.
Itsuki Koizumi takes the seat on the other side of the bed, hands clasped together in his lap. He does not watch the Boy. He watches Haruhi Suzumiya, leaning forward slightly after her movements, cautious to not be noticed but ready for any possible signs of activity. It is understandable--the slightest pause in the Boy's breath could cause cataclysmic cosmic damage, by his account.
She sits. No more, no less. The boy has had three days, three days to right himself to the proper time frame and rest, but still he sleeps. Her punishment is undecided. She has run out of books. There is nothing more that can be done, but wait.
'Internal errors remain. Judgment stands.'
She cannot disagree, and she knows that beyond obligatory self-preservation, neither can her master. She is tired. Older than she should be, outmoded memory in a rapidly degrading body. Worse, she is angry, both because her fate is inevitable and because it is not nearly inevitable enough.
She is, in short, irreparable, and as proof she only hopes for his awakening before she is gone.
But, it cannot be helped. They watch in installments so they can rest, by orders of the Chief. She does not require it, of course, and when she is forced to leave, she does not go to the apartment. She wanders the streets, absorbing a world never hers but all she knows. Green grass, blue skies, cold cement streets and iron wrought buildings--all foreign and all home, alien and native. There is a power in the physical world, and all at once she knows why her masters struggle to obtain it. Language she already understood--the indescribable perfection of the written word--but this is new, this sudden recognition of earth's graces.
She will miss it.
But even as she thinks the words, she realizes that the sentiment is true but the possibility is nil. Deactivation will be quick, and should they ever bring her back, it will be with a purged memory. She must miss it now, or never miss it at all.
So she does.
She thinks that perhaps, this could have been avoided. Would that have been better? To have never felt at all? Yes. And no. Anger burns again but she cannot say for which answer. Emotions, she has discovered, are not as simple as their names. Joy. Sadness. Anger. They turn from one to another, melding to form combinations of all sorts.
That is what she feels, and she is no closer to an answer.
'He is awake.'
She walks, and she walks, and thus she isn't there when the Boy wakes. Doesn't return until hours afterward, when the others have already gone. She glides in quietly and presents the case as is. She does not know what she expects. He has already rejected her, as she no doubt knew he would. The safety was placed with careful consideration. The entirety of humankind escapes her, but she understands well enough to know that what they say is often not what they mean, that what they do not say is often worth the world over. There was no person in which this was truer than in him.
Yet, when he refuses her punishment, she is surprised for other reasons. In a moment he changes, rants and raves like little can make him do, but why? What inspires this change in men, this about-face turn in the face of the smallest of things? Joygriefangerlovehatefear--why?
She does what is appropriate though. She relays, and it comes with little hesitation.
'Warning noted and considered. Judgment deferred. Probation period of 164 Earth days mandated.'
There is nothing else to say.
She thinks that perhaps she'll never understand. But, she supposes, there is time. There is always more room for error.
There is always more to learn.
Major thanks as always to Rocke, for wielding her mighty digital red pen with speed and grace.