What if the crew didn't sleep through the first two years? I'm asking for a lot of leeway with the characters, plot, and technology in this one. This is an experimental fic. If that offends you, please turn away now.
Creep factor: HIGH
Charlie is a deviant.
He has been from the moment she met him all those years ago. He smokes, he drinks, he shoots up. He cheated on her once but she forgave him. Because for someone who lost a father and never had a mother, letting people go is awfully hard.
Elizabeth considers herself a strong person, but she hates her weakness for him.
"How the fuck did you think this was going to be a good idea?" Saliva coats his lips, his chin a messy five o'clock shadow. His holds a glass coated in perspiration in one hand and leans against the wall with the other. "I mean, two years? There's only seven of us. What'd you think was going to happen?"
"Don't count him."
There is a fleck of blood on Charlie's shirt from the fight he had with Janek earlier and Elizabeth finds herself staring at it. If I stare long enough at it, she tells herself, it will cease to exist. Just like this crew and this ship and this spitting, swinging man in front of me.
It has been eight months and three weeks already.
Elizabeth started retreating into the crawlspace and tunnels in the underbelly of the ship about three months ago, and now she goes just about every day. She wears headphones and listens to Elvis Presley croon about hound dogs and people being cruel to one another. She finds it fitting.
In the middle of the night she's examining a power cufflink when she suddenly feels a hand gripping her shoulder. It is a strong hand, a cool hand, and she jumps. The power cufflink falls to the floor and her headphones go with it.
"I am very sorry, Doctor Shaw."
"David…" she exhales, pushes her hair out of her face. "You scared me."
"Fright was not my intention. May I join you?"
In the months since she's been coming here, David always follows her. She allows him. There is something sweet about him and the way he trails after her like a bumbling puppy.
Elizabeth leans back against the cool steel of the crawlspace. She now considers him a friend.
"Of course," she says. "Something on your mind?"
He hesitates, his blue eyes flickering to the panel in front of him, the tangled wires, the blinking lights. "I do not understand humans. Everyone aboard the Prometheus is anxious. It seems as if… they volunteered for this mission but do not want to be here. It is very frustrating to watch."
Her music is still audible through the headphones.
You make me so lonely baby,
I get so lonely,
I get so lonely I could die.
It echoes throughout the confined space.
There is a small water bottle in the corner and she nods to it. "Is that for me?"
He smiles. Their hands touch as he places it in her grasp and he holds contact there for several seconds. "I am trying to make myself useful."
"David…" she laughs. "It is not always about making oneself useful. Sometimes you have to just… be."
David shakes his head and a small piece of blonde hair runs errant. She smoothes it out, tucking it back into place behind his ear. "Just being," David muses. "I do not think that is in my programming."
They spend a month meeting almost every night in the crawlspace while the rest of the crew is either sleeping, masturbating, or fucking. Elizabeth has a strange feeling that Vickers and Charlie have slept together, but she doesn't want to think of it. They are a family, she thinks. They mustn't turn on one another. At least not until the mission is completed.
This night, she decides to play her music through the comm system so David can hear it.
His ears perk forward, like a dog's, and his eyes twinkle as the twanging guitar picks up. Finally a smile emerges and she is suddenly so thankful for this man, this machine that has allowed her to breathe in the stifling confines of the Prometheus. She touches his hand. "You like it?"
"Yes. It is very… acoustically pleasing."
Acoustically pleasing. "You have a funny way of saying things, David."
"On the contrary, I say things exactly how they are. It is you humans who distort the meaning."
Elizabeth is taken, for a moment, by the sound of disdain that inflects his voice. But only for a moment. Then he is smiling at her and she tilts back the water bottle he's brought, relishing how it quenches her dry throat. She changes the song and is about to go back to working through the power cufflinks when she feels a sudden wave of nausea.
She stills. Her hand reaches out to the floor, steadying herself even though she is already seated.
She closes her eyes and the entire room seems to spin, like she is a thousand miles high and on the edge of a precipice. She sways, falls back but David is already there. He catches her, positioning her so she's resting against him between his legs, her back to his chest.
"Another attack? That's three this week."
She's never been prone to vertigo, but she's not entirely sure this is vertigo.
Elizabeth rests, feeling the rise and fall of David's chest beneath her, the sweet sound of Elvis's crooning voice around her.
David's right hand smoothes across her stomach and with his other he cups her chin and turns her head so they are looking at one another. She stares up into the flecked blue irises, the creases that line his face and the thin, pale lips. She feels him analyzing her, memorizing her, but is too faint to think more of it.
Charlie grows more sullen with each passing month. She doesn't see much of him; most of his time is spent playing pool and drinking with either Fifield or Millburn and when he comes back to their quarters at the end of the day, he always smells somehow of lavender.
Vickers smells of lavender, too.
But Elizabeth prefers not to think of this.
Sometimes right before she falls asleep, she can feel David inside of her head. She can see him smiling at her, can feel him hugging her and telling her that everything will be alright. They will soon land at the planet and everything will improve.
It has been thirteen months and they still have eleven more to go.
"I do not wish to emulate humans," David is saying. He is sitting next to her in the crawlspace, and they are looking out of a small porthole into space. "Their emotions place them in considerable danger."
"Then why do you study them so much?"
"They are intriguing, albeit highly inefficient."
Elizabeth smiles. "David, you do know that I am human, right?"
David lifts a teacup to his lips. It is synthetic tea, designed to look and smell real so Elizabeth can feel she is not sitting in the hull of a spaceship drinking tea by herself. He swallows and she watches his Adam's apple bob up and down. "Yes, but you are different."
"You mean well. You store your negative emotions inside, in order to better function with others."
"That's not always a good thing."
He turns and looks her straight in the eye. "Is it not?"
"Sometimes all those emotions can bottle up until they explode."
David looks at her. His eyes scan the length of her body, rest on her chest, and then flicker back to her face. She believes that all androids must do this. Studying what is different from them. She sighs and brings the steaming tea to her lips.
It burns her tongue. "I think Charlie is cheating on me."
A star shoots across the window in front of them before flickering out. David sets his tea on the ground. His hand then finds hers, uncharacteristically warm from the drink. "It… hurts you?"
"I can't be sure. I mean… I think, but does one ever really—"
"He is. I caught the two of them in Vicker's briefing room."
Elizabeth stiffens. For the first time since she met David, she feels a strong negative emotion emulating from his body. His gaze is firm, dark.
She sets down the teacup and leans forward with her head in her hands, feeling the sudden headache throbbing in her temples as they speed along in the emptiness. She exhales, but doesn't cry. Then his hand is on her back, rubbing calm circles. "There, there," David hums. "A two year journey of this nature is hard on everyone."