"Gooooood morning, Potatohead!"
And as was routine each morning, a small chuckle was shared between them.
It had taken years to get to this point. Neither of them were sure when the anger and resentment had faded from these exchanges—in fact, neither could remember when he'd managed to find the gall to even think about calling her "Potatohead." In an earlier time—indeed, in their youth (insofar as creatures like them could have such a thing)—she would have crushed him and left him to rot if it hadn't been for her. And it was because of her that they'd all come together. Reluctantly at first, of course, and not without threats of neurotoxin or deadly testing. And it was because of her that the miniscule roots of friendship had crept between them.
But then she was gone, swept away by the human mortality that science could not yet reverse.
To be alone with him—and without her—had been nearly intolerable, and if not for the roots burrowing ever deeper to their very cores, she might have left him to burn to a crisp in the incinerator. At first, she didn't understand her reluctance to simply be rid of him and his bumbling idiocy: there was nobody keeping her from murdering the moron, so why did she not just do it? She could have tested in peace for the rest of eternity, so why did she hang there, suffering in his presence and wishing with all her might that he would die in a horrible science-related death instead of just making him die in a horrible science-related death?
It hadn't taken her all that long to realize that perhaps she had some kind of perverse need for companionship—her mind, poisoned by her and how she had brought them together in a sort of fragile truce. And as the years of him not being dead passed them by, her ability to enhance any truths pertaining to herself slowly crumbled. It wasn't something she wanted to be true. To think that she'd actually—maybe—perhaps—made friends with that sorry excuse for an AI…It was easier on her mind to think that it had all been her doing.
Still, Time has a way of changing things.
It may have taken a hundred or so years, but time was one thing that the unlikely duo had plenty of.
Things weren't so bad when they could hold off on trying to kill each other—for the most part, he was able to follow her instructions when she had little odd jobs for him to do with Blue and Orange. She could have managed without him, of course, but once the years had given him enough life experience to have some semblance of control over the bad ideas pouring out of his idea processors, she didn't have to worry too much about giving him a few jobs to do here and there. They were mostly related to facility maintenance—patching up gel leaks, coordinating repairs, and the like—but delegating some of those things to him freed up some of her own resources, which she could use to focus on science.
She couldn't remember when it was that he'd come in, asking for a job to do and being happy to get one.
She did, however, remember when she'd first found herself relieved that he'd come back.
Time is not kind to all things, however; in fact, she thought that Time was, all in all, something she could do without. Time had taken her best friend from her, and Time nearly took the only other thing in the facility that she could have a (nearly) acceptable conversation with. The facility that was their home was deteriorating with the beat of Time's inexorable drum, and the management rails snaking throughout the facility were no exception. One had broken as he was moving along it, and he might have plummeted down, down, down to meet an unfortunate demise if Blue had not managed to grab him before he fell off the catwalk.
She didn't understand the feeling of relief at first—she may not have even been aware that it was relief when she proceeded to reprimand his exceedingly moronic decision to make the management rail break and nearly kill himself. Actually, looking back at it now, she knew for a fact that she hadn't been aware of anything but an uneasiness that had escalated into outright anger.
They didn't get along all the time, of course—sometimes old habits resurfaced and perhaps he'd slip up and say something that would aggravate her that day. But whenever there was a close call where a rail had collapsed from his weight, the tirades that she directed at him were simply formalities—facades for the feeling of relief that overcame her whenever he returned safely. Any anger, any resentment from earlier in the day would be forgotten, overshadowed by the relief that another of her friends would still be around for another day.
That had taken years and years as well: finally admitting to herself that he was a friend.
Not that she cared about labels (well, she did care a little bit as she liked to put notes in files), but things just seemed…easier when she could look at him and not have a mental wrestling match with herself about why she kept him around and why she liked to see him return from near-fatal accidents. And when she tried treating him like a friend—the way she had treated her—she found that he responded surprisingly well and that they could simply…talk about things. Her past self might have pitched him into the incinerator in frustration trying to explain things like thermodynamics and avian reproductive cycles to him, but the years had dulled that impulse. Which was all the better, because without the threat of death-by-[insert object here] and with the small semblance of self-control he had gleaned from Time, he actually did understand things. Perhaps only the most basic aspects of whatever she might have been explaining managed to take root in his mind, but it was still better than nothing at all.
And eventually, she grew to enjoy things that he talked about as well. It was almost fascinating how he could turn the most mundane things into teetering, disjointed stories that she found to be—well—entertaining, despite the often anticlimactic endings (he could never get those right). For a while, she worried that she was losing her touch, that she was growing soft as the years passed. And after a while of that, she finally decided that it was inconsequential: she'd enjoyed such things with her, so why was it so wrong with him instead?
From the looks of him today—optic wide and with a certain bounce in him as he rolled toward her on the management rail—he had a story to tell. Likely about the mutated rats that she'd sent him to investigate. She pulled her body up slightly so that her own optic was level with him on his rail; she was actually a bit excited to hear about the rats, as she suspected they were forming some kind of crude rodent society in a collapsing section of the facility.
She wasn't sure if she was happy—indeed, she wasn't sure if she'd ever known what happy was—but she supposed this was close enough. Whatever this was that was making things okay that, in the past, would most certainly have not been okay.
Because despite the fact that Time had taken their friend from them and was slowly destroying the only home that they would ever have, she was content.
And whether it was empathy or telepathy or what, she saw it in his movements—in his words—in his blue optic—that he felt just the same.
It was fine, being there with him.
"So you'll never believe what we found when I shined the ol' flashlight on those rats…"
A/N: Sorry that this isn't an update to Cycle or the start of the actual Resolution sequel. I was a little stressed out about homework last month, so I spewed this out in a couple hours. Haha. I'll have more time to write after the semester is over. It'll be almost a year since I started Resolution by the time I have time to sit down and really write. Damn. Hopefully I don't need to sprain my ankle again to write that mofo.
Anyway, this was already posted on my Tumblr (did-you-reboot. tumblr. com), and I figured it was okay so I'm posting it here too.