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Broken Rule

He had broken one of his rules.

It bothered him. It bothered him a lot.

Roger Smith was a man who thrived on order; he struggled for control, and despite what people said, the rules were not meant to be broken.

And he had just broken his cardinal rule.

Paradigm City's top negotiator cursed softly to himself as he paced restlessly in his bedroom. Down the hall, he could just make out the faint chiming of the clock. It was past two a.m., but he wasn't tired.

The young man stopped his restless movement long enough to gaze into the fireplace, his dark eyes smoldering like the embers in front of him.

He had always strived for some sort of control in his life. After all, it was the only thing he could do that gave him some sense of individuality. Hell, he didn't even know if his own memories were his or not.

'Why?' He thought, a frown on his handsome features. 'Why did I react like that? What got into me?'

For the first time in years, Roger Smith, the silver-tongued negotiator, had suddenly let his emotions get the better of him. He never let that happen, and it bothered him immensely.

Life as a military police officer had taught him that loosing your head could get you dead fast; as a result, Roger's chief rule was to never let his heart rule his mind.

'Besides, being emotional just leaves you open for target practice,' he thought bitterly.

Roger blinked, then sighed and ran a hand through his unkempt hair. He had just done it again.

Not for the first time that night, he replayed the events of earlier that day-Beck's leering face, Dorothy's lifeless, then shocked eyes, his unexpected fury at the insufferable man...they all flashed before him in a crude slide-show of memories.

Realizing that he wouldn't be getting any sleep, Roger pulled on his robe and slippers, heading downstairs towards the kitchen. Perhaps a drink would clear his head....

He managed to get downstairs and to the kitchen without breaking his neck in the darkness. The negotiator frowned when he saw a faint light through the crack in the door? Why was Norman up at this ungodly hour?

Pushing open the door softly, Roger stepped into the kitchen, and then froze upon seeing the small, pale figure slumped against the table.

Dorothy was, by all appearances, fast asleep. Her head was pillowed against her slender arms, which were curled under her. Roger, stepping closer, saw a feather duster lying forgotten near her hand.

'Can she even sleep?' He wondered, gazing down at her. His eyes softened somewhat; she did look tired, even though he knew perfectly well that she was an android.

He then remembered that even machines such as his Griffon needed rest, and decided that Dorothy was definitely tired. Had she been cleaning all night?

That brought Roger back to his earlier dilemma; he sighed in frustration. What was it about this little snip of a robot that elicited such responses from him? He had earned a reputation for being as "cool as a winter wind" by his clients, and with just cause.

When it came to his job, Roger was sometimes as unemotional as Dorothy. Even potentially devastating cases (such as kidnapping) rarely provoked more than his sarcastic wit.

Of course, that hadn't been the case with Beck Gold. Roger unconsciously gritted his teeth as he recalled his fight with the now-jailed criminal.

"Get your filthy his hands off of her!" He had snarled with unbridled fury, throwing caution to the wind as he leapt at the surprised convict.

Something deep inside Roger, long buried and forgotten, had suddenly snapped upon seeing Dorothy rendered helpless by Beck's device.

'What is it about you, Miss Waynewright?' He thought, tucking a strand of scarlet hair behind her ear. He was always so calm and collected when it came to women; Roger could charm birds out of their trees if he wanted to.

But he couldn't act that way with Dorothy. It just wouldn't seem...right. Put aside the fact that she was an android, Dorothy was...different. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but gazing at her face, it suddenly hit him.

He respected her. Damn it all, he cared about her. Roger closed his eyes; 'You're in for it now, Mr. Smith.'

Not only that, he considered Dorothy his friend. Roger had only counted two people in his world as true friends, both of whom he would trust with his life.

Dorothy now made that number three, but it was more. He didn't have to pretend with her, or act so disinterested all the time. When he was with her, Roger felt at peace with himself.

Her piano playing, however, sometimes pushed his sense of camaraderie to the limits.

The negotiator smiled as he removed his robe and draped it over Dorothy's tiny shoulders. He knew she didn't need it, but he was a gentleman after all.

Friends. He liked that sound of that.

Smiling to himself, Roger exited the room, forgoing a drink for a much-needed rest.
 
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