Arthur shot up at the sound of his phone ringing. Could it be Alfred? Oh, please, God, let it be Alfred! He grabbed the small device. His green eyes dulled again as he checked the caller ID. Kiku. He clicked the accept button, put the phone to his ear, and collapsed back onto his bed.
"Hey, Kiku," he groaned.
"Hello, Arthur-kun. I was worried about you, I haven't heard from you in days, no-one has. Are you ok?" Arthur stared at the ceiling, trying not to let the tears well up in his eyes. Kiku was one of his closest friends, but also one of Alfred's. It had been Kiku who had introduced the two. Arthur decided he should tell Kiku what had happened. "Arthur-kun? Are you still there?"
"Yes, sorry," Arthur sighed. He thought it was rather endearing that although Kiku had spent a lot of his life in Britain before returning to Japan, he still used honorific's when speaking English. "I haven't been feeling too great recently."
"Ah, are you sick, Arthur-kun? What sort of ailment are you suffering? When I lived with my Chinese cousin, he would treat us with all sorts of herbal remedies, an-"
"No, Kiku, I'm not physically ill. It's... It's Alfred."
"Oh? Alfred-kun?" Japan asked, his voice filled with concern.
"Yeah, we broke up." Kiku went quiet. Arthur blinked back his tears, knowing that Kiku had heard his voice cracking.
"Arthur-kun," Kiku gasped after a short silence. "I'm so sorry." Arthur swallowed the choking lump in his throat, and replied with a nod, even though Kiku couldn't see. "Would you like to talk about it?" Arthur shook his head.
"No, not really," Arthur replied through the tears which wouldn't stay in anymore. "I just... We'd been arguing for ages, and it just escalated... he'd had enough." He sobbed. "I just want to get over him." There was more silence on the other end of the line.
"Arthur-kun, I don't want to sound, well, cold, but given your circumstances of having no-one nearby to comfort you, I think you may be an excellent beta tester for the company's new product." Arthur frowned.
"What do you mean?"
"Ah, I did not mean to offend! I just think that you would benefit." Arthur mulled over Kiku's suggestion.
"What's the product?" He asked cautiously.
"I cannot tell you until it is delivered, I am sorry," Kiku apologised. Arthur rolled his eyes. "Do you accept the beta test role?"
"Hmph, if it's going to help me get over Alfred, sure," Arthur grumbled. He could almost hear the smile crack over Kiku's face.
"Thank you, Arthur-kun! Thank you so much. Ah, I shall have to ask you some questions, do not be alarmed." Arthur cocked an eyebrow.
"Ok then..." The Brit pulled himself up from his bed and started to walk downstairs. He could really go for some tea. Earl Grey or Oolong? Oolong or Earl...
"Ok, Arthur-kun, could you describe your taste in the preferred sex?"
"What?" Arthur spluttered. "What the bloody hell are you selling me?"
"Please, Arthur-kun, if you do not wish to participate in the beta testing once the product arrives, it is ok." Arthur grimaced.
"Ok, but only for you, Kiku." The Japanese man repeated the question, after thanking Arthur multiples times.
"Well, the preferred sex would be male, that at least should be obvious. Now, are we talking about physical traits, or personality?"
"Both," Kiku confirmed. Arthur groaned again, and pushed down the power switch on the kettle.
"Ok. I like blond hair, not too short, but not too long either. Blue eyes... Not like the sky, more of a sea colour." He smiled to himself as he looked out of the window and saw the ocean. Oh, how he loved Britain. If Arthur was to have a perfect partner, they would be like the island nation... He continued his description as he stirred his tea. Taller than him, romantic, intimate, not too muscular, pale skinned, a slight conflict of personality, but not enough to cause major arguments (God knew he didn't ever want a repeat of the last relationship), a good cook – which he then scolded Kiku for laughing at – and most of all, loving.
Kiku gave a smile as Arthur sighed the last requirement out, before entering it into the email to his boss.
"Any special requirements? Any fetishes or-"
"Bloody hell, Kiku! What kind of question's that? Again, what have you made this time." Kiku giggled.
"All will be revealed, Arthur-kun. So? Any?"
"Of course not!" Arthur snorted indignantly. Kiku shook his head. He knew what Arthur was like (Alfred had told him things. Things he hadn't wanted to know. Ever.) so he just clicked the "All" option.
"And, any accents? Or languages?" He asked the final question.
"Not a bloody American accent. And certainly not a French accent either!" Arthur growled.
"Thank you, Arthur-kun. The production will take two to three weeks, and I shall deliver it personally to you. You can expect me in a month."
Arthur and Kiku continued conversing for a while, before Kiku said he had to talk to a colleague.
Arthur sat on the sofa, which seemed much bigger than it had a few days ago, and sipped his tea, watched the waves, and relaxed.
A month had past, and the conversation with Kiku had been forgotten by Arthur. He was sat on his laptop, starting a new novel, when his doorbell rang. He opened the door, and was pleasantly surprised to see Kiku. However, the surprised was replaced with shock when he saw the huge crate towering over the small man, and himself, covered in large travel stickers for Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, and Britain. Kiku smiled politely at Arthur, who was gaping at the crate.
"Hello, Arthur-kun. I am very pleased to see you again." He greeted his old friend.
"He- Hello, Kiku. What the hell is this?"
"It's the beta product you ordered." The conversation came flooding back to him. Arthur helped Kiku roll the crate into the house. Kiku closed the door behind him, and handed Arthur the crowbar to open the crate. Arthur looked suspiciously at the heavy tool in his hand, and then at the crate.
"What is it, Kiku?" Kiku sighed.
"As you know, Arthur-kun, I work for a robotic technology company. A while ago, we developed a realistic android, and thanks to our research, we now have the technology to incorporate personalities, and realistic, natural speech into them! We plan to market them as companion bots! I thought you'd be a brilliant person to beta test- all your friends live far away, your brothers are in other parts of the country, and since you're in a delicate place, you need a friend nearby!" Kiku's eyes were shining when he got to enthuse about his work. Arthur looked at the crate, considering what could be inside, then smiled. It would be nice to have a companion near. Although he could have got a cat or something. As Arthur started to open the crate, Kiku looked over the paperwork again.
Suddenly, his eye had caught something. He reread it and reread it. They hadn't. Any error but that. Before he could say something, the front was off the crate, and Arthur was gazing upon the figure of his android. The eyes were shut, as if sleeping, but he – no, it – was stunning. Wavy, shoulder length blond hair cascaded down at the sides of his long, elegant face, which was speckled with light stubble, and graced with a sweet smile. He was tall and slender, and dressed exquisitely. Arthur blinked in awe.
"Kiku, he's... it's wonderful. How do I turn it on?" Kiku hesitated. He was rather proud of his creation, which Arthur had confirmed was a success with his dream-like voice, but he had to tell Arthur about the error!
"You, um, kiss it, bu-" Arthur laughed.
"You kiss it? Is this a 'Special Friend' android?" Kiku blushed. He watched as Arthur leaned in towards the androids lips. He scrunched up his eyes, he couldn't watch.
Arthur pressed his lips against the cold, soft ones of the android. It felt so lifelike! He stepped back. The eyelids twitched, then opened, revealing a stunning pair of sapphire eyes. The machine was gorgeous, just the sort of person Arthur would like. A puzzled look appeared on the androids face, before a smiled broke out at the sight of Arthur. Kiku held his breath, waiting for the mistake to arise.
Arthur gazed into the eyes of the robot. They were almost alluring. Then, it's mouth opened. Arthur's breathe caught in anticipation of hearing the sweet voice of his android.
"Bonjour, mon ami."
Great. It was French.