The Love of a Machine

Chapter Nine

Leo was stunned speechless, here he was, staring at what seemed to be ADA, but at the same time, she was flesh and blood, and not just an AI inside a computers mainframe. He looked her over again, his gaze a mixture of bewilderment and awe. The girl who stood in front of him looked nearly similar to Celvice, build and all save for the longer hair and the red eyes, yet based on the name, he knew who it really was. Yet he found himself unable to look away no matter how hard he tried his heart beating hard in his chest. Here was ADA, personified into something more than a war machine. She was human, and she was here, in the room with him.

The girl's voice broke the quiet, "what's wrong Leo, don't you like the way I look?" The girl cocked her head and a look of bewilderment crossed her face, as she turned to Elena, "Doesn't Leo prefer this look Elena?"

Elena laughed and just smiled, "Of course he does Ada I think you've just left him speechless"

"Speechless?" she looked at Elena again, "But his vocal cords still seem to be able to function properly" the still puzzled, yet curious look still on her flawless face. In some ways Leo found it somewhat cute, attractive even, and it just made him stare more.

Elena giggled and grinned "It's an expression Ada dear, it means he finds you attractive, yet is unable to say or express it."

Ada's puzzled look turned to one of happiness as a smile spread across her perfect lips. "Really?! You really like the way I look Leo?!" She peered at him, her eyes making contact with his, making his heart pump even faster, as they shined with emotion that could only be expressed through actual eye contact.

"Uhm...Y...yeah I do..." he replied forcing himself to break her gaze and blush heavily as he scratched the side of his face with a finger to try and aleve the tension inside he felt building up. "You, uhm, look nice Ada."

Ada grinned again and ran up to him and hugged him tight. Leo found himself nearly crushed by the hug as he gasped, "Ada y...your squeezing a bit tight." She gasped and immediately dropped him, as the young Runner coughed for breath as she kneeled and looked him over, an apologetic look on her face. "I'm so sorry Leo, I ...I guess I don't know my own strength." Her face grew red and Leo felt his heart melt. "She can even blush….amazing, she looks so… so beautiful…like…Celvice" he found himself musing internally. He then winced in discomfort as he remembered the talk he had, had with the young woman earlier and he found himself feeling somewhat put off by the comment. He had hurt her deeply and he knew it, and yet here he was now marveling at something that looked just like her yet wasn't her. "Traitor" The inner voice whispered.

Before he could answer it, it was then that Elena's voice brought him back to the current reality, "You know, she chose the form herself Leo, she wanted something you were familiar with."

He nodded mutely and stared back at the flesh and blood Ada, yet the inner voice said nothing, and he found himself smiling and replying, "It suits you Ada." She smiled again and Leo found himself glowing on the inside at the smile. He then, somewhat reluctantly turned and looked to Elena, "How is this possible anyways? I thought Structure AIS were still being developed."

"It's because of the Metatron the body is constructed of" Elena replied, folding her arms, "it has been in the making for awhile, we called it Project Avatar. The Earth was working on it for awhile, but shelved it when the war broke out, we think they wanted it for combat use, but it never came into full recognition."

"Then how..." Leo began

Elena finished the thought with a simple shrug. "Thunderheart and I uh…liberated… the plans when we heard about the Military's order to detonate Jehuty, I worked on early theories and designs, it was a simple enough to finish once a few modifications were made and ADA's AI was installed, especially considering how quickly her AI has grown" her lips curled in a sly grin, "This is of course strictly…off the books, if the Military knew about this, well I could go to prison for a very, very long time, Military doesn't like secrets like this to be used without their approval."

Leo couldn't find a reply for her, he knew that Elena was doing this at great personal risk, for him. He found himself trying not to let his emotions take hold again as he replied quietly, "Thank you Elena….I was wrong about you, I'm sorry for everything I said about you..." He felt little liquid drops on the backs of his hands and he frowned slightly. Tears were a sign of weakness, he couldn't let his emotions get the better of him, he had nearly lost his cool with Celvice earlier in the day, he couldn't let himself be weak, he had to protect them both, ADA and Celvice. However as he reached up to wipe them away his eyes went wide as Ada reached up, and placed a hand on his cheek. "Its Ok Leo, you don't have to always be strong for us…I'm starting to understand what love is, please let me be strong for you for once…" Leo closed his eyes and winced as his heart began racing again and the inner voice returned "You know, this seems familiar…what are you going to do Leo? Run away again?" He found he couldn't even answer the voice this time, and instead he felt his eyes closing as he relaxed on Adas hand. It felt warm and smooth, nothing at all like he imagined, and seemed to take him places where he could only imagine as pipe dreams during the long and hard war. The touch, the smooth skin, all of it seemed to melt away his cares and concerns. He didn't even notice Elena give a soft smile and quietly leave the room.

Finally, he spoke, as his eyes opened and once again locking with hers. "Ada…This…I don't know…I...I" His mind raced trying to find an excuse, anything that would let him get away from this situation, yet he could find none.

She just pressed a finger onto his lips, a smile on her lips as she drew her face close to his suddenly. His heart raced even faster as she replied, "Leo, please, I am your partner outside and inside the Frame, you give me strength, you protect me…now, let me protect you like you taught me to do..." Before he even realized what was going on he felt her lips on his, and his world got turned upside down. They were warm, and tasted sweet, and he found his body relaxing, the tenseness that was built up suddenly releasing as his muscles relaxed, his own lips pressing against hers passionately, yet somewhat awkwardly in a deep kiss. And then as quickly as it happened it was over and as she pulled away from him, he found himself turning bright red, her own cheeks also coloring.

"L...Leo...I…I feel strange…right here" she replied, still blushing as she touched the place where her heart would have been if she had been flesh and blood human. "Do…do I need maintenance Leo?"

He shook his head and replied equally nervously, his face on fire from all the blushing, "I...its ok Ada, n...Nothings wrong."

She looked at him again, her head cocking again in that puzzled manner, yet her face remained colored "Is… is this what you humans call …love? I…I'm trying to understand, and that felt like it was right…I don't understand still…I just…reacted."

He found himself wanting to reply that he didn't know what this feeling was, that he couldn't love her because, like he had told Celvice, he couldn't love her in order to protect her. Yet he found his strength waning, the memory of the kiss, even the taste of her lips still fresh on his mind as he desperately grasped at straws to find an answer that wouldn't allow him to acknowledge the deep bond the two partners shared. Images of Celvice flashed through his head, and her confession to him, yet he had coldly shoved her aside. Then why he thought to himself. Why am I trying to do this again? The answer came, like always in the infernal voice of his heart War, War has done this to you Leo the voice said it has made you cold and hard, isn't it time you stopped running? He Hesitated for a moment and opened his mouth, but then stopped and shook his head No, no I must remain strong, I….I can't I… Yet before he finished the image of Celvice flashed across his minds eye again and he looked at the other girl across from her, another spitting image of the girl he slowly realized he was falling for.

It had come down to this moment at this point in time. He knew that he would have to choose, Ada or Celvice, yet he couldn't bring himself to say anything. His heart, still beating in his chest was betraying him, its defenses shattered by the kiss. Yet with such a choice he knew came pain, rejection…something he never wanted to make either of them deal with. Yet here he was, ready to give in, to stop running to allow him to love, and all he could think about was one thing: pain. The choice he would make would bring pain. He had pushed Celvice away out of fear, yet now he realized that he had hurt her deeply, and now, he had a chance to rectify that mistake. To confess to her how he felt about her, that he did want to spend his life with her, war or no. Yet as he stared at Adas face, searching for answers, he felt he could never be forgiven if he hurt the one who relied on him the most. His own partner, someone who's his connection to was as strong as his friendship with Celvice.

He found, in his own daze that his body began to move on its own, as slowly it stood and walked over then kneeled before Ada extending a hand to her, his own voice saying "Yes Ada, this…this is love… lets…protect one another is that okay with you?"

Her smile was more radiant than the sunshine as she placed her hand in his and allowed herself to be helped up as they stood face to face, "yes…Ill protect you Leo." He found himself smiling as the inner voice let out a sigh of relief about damn time. Yet for the first time in a long while, he felt like he didn't need to argue with it as they drew each other into another embrace their lips meeting again in perfect bliss, unaware of the door opening behind them and a voice saying "Leo I…." He turned around instinctively and saw it was Celvice, her eyes wide with shock…and pain. He reached out a hand and yelled "Celvice, wait! This…this isn't what it looks like!" But it was too late, her face contorted into a mixture of despair and loss as she yelled "Leo…I…I…hate you!" before sprinting out of the room, in a full run, tears streaming down her face.

Leo looked at Ada, who looked at him and immediately looked down and away as she saw the look in his eyes. Inside he felt the turmoil return, and slowly the agony of knowing he had once again hurt another person he loved. Backing away from Ada toward the door he groaned, "I…I shouldn't…this…this is wrong…Celvice…I...I hurt her."

Ada shook her head and looked at him, her own face contorted in sadness "No…No Leo, please you, you promised to protect me…don't leave me!" He could see them, the glimmer of tears in her eyes and the pain behind them, begging him not to leave her.

"S…stay away from me!" he yelled at Ada, his voice wracked with pain and sadness and hurt "I …I can't do this…I…I can't protect anyone! I can only hurt! I can only kill!" Ada opened her mouth but he shook his head and screamed, "You're just a machine! You aren't real!"

Ada's face went white, and she slumped to the ground, her own tears running freely but he did not notice, his own tears stung at his face as he ran blindly from the room, not caring where he ran, he only knew he had to get away, away from Celvice, away from Ada, away from those he loved the most. He was a soldier, he could not love, he was destined to bring loneliness, despair, and loss, he could not love, and he could never understand what it meant to love someone. All he could do was hurt, it was what he was good at, and finally as he ceased running to stare out a window he clenched his fist as he stared at his own tear streaked face in the reflection, he pledged a solemn unspoken vow. There would be no more pain, no more hurt, because he, Leo, would never allow himself to love Ada or Celvice. Nodding to himself, he stood there silently watching the stars pass by the window slowly. He would have to be alone, like always, it was for the best and he knew it, and in the end, to protect those he cared for most, he had to keep them away from himself.

He found himself laughing as he stood there staring out the window, however the laugh that came from his throat wasn't one of joy, it was of loss, loneliness it seemed was his destiny. The stars gave no reply as Leo slowly walked away from the window, alone, the final words of Viola ringing in his ears "In the end, boy, love only leads to loss….remember this." He now knew how right she had been, and vowed never to make the same mistake again.

(To be continued!)

(well here ya guys go, updated! Hope you all enjoy this latest chapter! And yes I kow those weren't Violas words, but I made them up :P)

(In the next chapter, the crew deals with the fallout of the love triangles results and its consequences! What does this mean for Leo, Ada and Celvice? Find out in chapter 10 of The Love of a Machine!)