Mr. and Mrs. Smith|
The door knocked too damn early the next morning.
Roger fluttered his eyes open, seeing Dorothy sleeping, cuddled next to him with her arm around his waist.
The knocking came again.
"You little faker," he chuckled. "I know you can hear the door."
"Yes, Roger-dear," she replied, not opening her eyes. "But it's your turn to get the door." She pulled her arm away, allowing him to get up.
Roger pulled himself out of bed and slipped his robe on, tying it as he went to the door.
"Yes, Norman?" Roger asked as he opened the door.
"My apologies for waking you so early," Norman said. "But it's an urgent message for you, Master Roger."
"What is it?"
"An Alec Murphy called this morning and asked for your counsel at his home and requests to meet with only you."
Roger blinked. "Why?"
"He did not say, sir, only that he needs your counsel."
"I'll take it. Have the address?"
Dorothy appeared behind Roger, the sheet pulled around her body. "Why am I not invited?"
Roger closed the door, pausing to kiss her on his way to the shower. "Probably a 'man-to-man' thing, best understood between men without female interference."
If Dorothy had any ego to offend, she may have been rather cross. Instead, she shrugged and went to laying out his clothes for the day.
* * *
Roger pulled his sunglasses on as he approached the elevator, his wife clad in a robe as she waited for him.
"I'll be back soon as I can, Dora-girl," he whispered as he leaned close to kiss her.
"Take care, Roger-dear," Dorothy replied, hugging him. She brushed a strand of black hair back up into his sculpted hair.
He grinned, then stepped into the elevator and left.
Dorothy turned to go back to the bedroom when the phone rang, then changed her course and picked up the phone before Norman came into the room.
'Is this the Negotiator's partner?' a woman's voice asked.
"Yes, I am. How may I help you?"
'I'm Becky Amos, I work as a maid for Dr. Radinov and his wife. I need you to come to the mansion quickly. Dr. Radinov wishes to see just you.'
Dorothy wondered why Dr. Radinov wanted to see her alone. If anything, he should have asked for Roger. "Why me, Miss Amos?"
'I don't know, but he requested to see you.'
"I'll be there in a half hour. Good-bye." She hung up and turned to find Norman behind her. "Norman, I'm going to Dr. Radinov's residence to finish a job. If Roger gets home before I do, tell him I won't be long."
Norman nodded. "Yes, Mistress Dorothy."
* * *
Roger looked at the address Norman had given him.
"Thirteen and a half Sycamore ... " he murmured as he sat in the Griffon.
He looked up at 13&1/2 Sycamore, which was little more than a lot filled with trash. Some burned timbers and part of a brick wall was visible in the mass of plaster and garbage dump, newspapers spread around and gluing everything together into a mass of blue gunk.
"I think I've been had," he breathed. He switched on the comm. "Norman."
Norman's face appeared on the monitor. 'Yes, Master Roger, sir?'
"Seems we got a fraud on this Murphy. Can you see if there's an Alec Murphy in Paradigm City?"
'Right away, sir.' Norman looked down at the console for a moment, then looked back up. 'Master Roger, there appears there is no Alec Murphy listed.'
"Hunh!" Roger exhaled. "Then who would want me alone out here?" He paused, then asked, "Is Dorothy around?"
'I'm afraid not, sir. She had left a little while ago to visit Dr. Radinov at his residence. She had answered a call just after you left.'
"Was it Dr. Radinov who called?"
'No, Master Roger. From what I overheard, the caller was a female from the household.'
"Can't be Dasha Radinova," Roger said. "She's still in the hospital." A thought occurred to him. "I'm going over there to see what's going on ... be ready."
'Is Mistress Dorothy in trouble, sir?'
"It's Dorothy; when is she not in trouble?" Roger chuckled.
'You have a point, sir.'
A female person calling from the Radinov residence, requesting Dorothy to come alone to meet Dr. Radinov. This didn't sit right with me.
The only person within the house who knew of our presence was the maid.
Funny, now that I think about it, when the bomb went off ... the maid assumed her mistress was still inside the house. In fact, she did not even attempt to save her employer like servants are trained to do ...
Time to ask some pointed questions.
* * *
Dorothy entered the front of the Radinov mansion, seeing the work crews working on the bomb-damaged wing.
"Right this way," the maid said as she lead Dorothy to the back of the mansion. "He is awaiting you in the private library."
"Thank-you," Dorothy answered.
She studied the young woman - small and petite, clad in the traditional black dress, stockings, and shoes, finished off with the full white apron, cuffs, collar, and mob cap. Blonde curls peeked out from under the cap, framing her face and wide blue eyes. Just different hair and eyes, and this was exactly how Dorothy herself looked only a few weeks ago.
The maid opened a door. "Go on in, he's waiting for you."
Dorothy nodded and stepped in -
The hum was immediate, giving her no time to react as she was pulled from the floor and straight up, stretching her body taut and practically gluing her to a metal plate.
Peering into the darkness of the room below her, Dorothy sighed.
"You know," she commented dryly. "I am frankly getting sick of this magnet thing."
"But it works," a man's voice remarked, a lit match illuminating Beck Gold's face as he lit a cigarette in his mouth. "Dove, T-Bone - get ready for Crow Boy's arrival." He looked up at Dorothy above him, studying her black dress. "Nice outfit, Robo-Maid. Would look pretty good on a real woman, like Angel-baby over there."
The light of his match flickered out.
The maid's voice answered in the darkness, "Will you shut up, Mr. Beck? The Negotiator should be here any minute with that lame job you gave him."
Beck chuckled. "I counted on his android girl here to leave a message to tell him where she is."
Dorothy processed what she heard. "Is this merely for vengeance, Mr. Beck?"
"Don't worry your pretty little dollhead over this, droid-chick. Just getting some loose ends out of the way before I finish a client's job." He laughed. "Crow Boy dressing up his automated doll - that's a hoot!"
A door slammed.
Dorothy wanted to tell Beck his sense of humor had much to be desired, but she knew she was alone in the room.
A spotlight suddenly flicked on. After a moment, the magnetic plate began to shift around, lowering to an upright position where she was finally vertical to the floor. She faced the outside, a set of huge windows looking out across the lawn of the Radinov residence.
Damn. Set out as bait like some damn ingenue in those Gothic romance novels she had hidden under her side of the bed.
Well, Dorothy Smith, time for your knight to rescue you.
* * *
Roger pulled up in front of the Radinov residence and stared intently at the house.
Nothing unusual. Probably be best to scour the property.
He got out of the Griffon and made his way around the boundaries of the property, gazing through his sunglasses and peering into the windows.
He made his way around to the back -
And found his wife pinned up to a round magnetic plate behind the windows, an expression of extreme boredom on her face. However, he also recognized the slight curl of her lip indicating she was not at all pleased with the situation.
"A trap," Roger muttered. "With my wife as bait. Gee, I wonder who came up with this amateur debacle?"
Roger picked up a landscape rock near his foot and boldly walked up to a few yards in front of the windows.
Dorothy looked up at him through the glass, an apologetic smile crossing her face.
"Well, Dora-girl," Roger commented quietly, knowing she heard him. "I leave you alone for a few minutes and you run off to get stuck on magnets. You must stop this obsession you have with large round plates."
She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Sorry," he added, holding up the rock. "I was just kidding. Don't kick me out of the bedroom tonight." He pulled his arm back, then slammed the rock into the main window.
The glass shattered inward, shards sailing past Dorothy as she gazed steadily at him.
Roger stepped into the house and approached her. "Besides being stuck, are you all right?"
"Yes, I am, Roger." Her face went expressionless again. "By the way, one of Beck's men is behind you."
Roger's elbow jerked back, hitting Dove in the solar plexus and causing the goon to gasp for air while he fell in a heap. He took his sunglasses off and looked down at the goth-looking henchman. "Where's your master, paleface? He's going to be lucky if I stop at beating him."
Beck came into the room, T-Bone right behind him and holding a particularly large and nasty-looking gun.
Beck giggled, a leer crossing his face. "Oh, isn't this sweet?! The Mad-Bad-Negotiator come to rescue his Android Lover!"
"Wife," Dorothy remarked.
"What?" Beck asked.
"I am Dorothy Smith, Roger's wife."
Beck began going into hysterics, not sure whether to laugh or be horrified. "You MARRIED your android, Crow Boy? And people think I'M twisted!"
"Oh please," Roger said, rolling his eyes. "You of all people being outraged at someone's actions and behavior? That's like a tree complaining about something being wooden and green."
"There are limits, you know!" Beck said defensively. "Sure I sleep with my sister, but at least she's not an ANDROID! Yuck!"
Roger's face displayed a fine range of emotions - shock, disgust, horror, nausea, surprise, a desire to leave the room - all at once. Dorothy merely raised an eyebrow. T-Bone looked at his employer out of the corner of his eye, sweated, and edged away.
"Roger - " Dorothy began.
"Later, Dora!" Roger snapped.
Beck shrugged, flicking his cigarette away. "Let's get this over with, Crow Boy." He pulled back his jacket sleeve, exposing a watch. "I learned a bit from watching you." He grinned and yelled into the watch, "GRAND FLAMBOYANT GOLDEN SWIRLY-GOD OF DEATH - ACTION!"
Roger's face remained impassive. "You know," he commented to Dorothy. "I half expect to see his robots come out wearing tutus."
Dorothy looked at him. "Are you going to get me off of this thing, dear?"
"Well, if you insist ... "
During this, Beck's mecha crawled out of the indoor ocean and stumbled over the sandy beach, shaking itself of seawater before getting up and posing dramatically.
It was indeed golden, complete with copper-colored swirls decorating the armor and a golden mask resembling the comedy portion of the drama masks. The hands were actually hammers, while sparkling star shapes on springs bounced around the outline of the figure.
Roger pulled Dorothy down from the magnet and went to dusting off her black mini-dress and combing his fingers through her hair.
"My wife should not look messy," he remarked. "Even if she is being an ingenue."
"You're boarding the line of being kicked out, husband," she warned him. She went to straightening his tie.
Beck watched from the cockpit of the Grand Flamboyant Golden Swirly-God of Death and looked quite ill. "Oh, puh-leeze! You're making me sick!"
Roger kissed Dorothy, teasing his hands over her back.
"WILL YOU STOP THAT!" Beck shrieked.
Dorothy pinched Roger's hip.
"UGH!" Beck added.
"Did you hear something?" Roger asked as he pulled away from his wife.
"Editorial comments," Dorothy answered. "I think Mr. Beck wishes to fight you."
"Any idea why he's here?"
"The maid is trying to get Dr. Radinova killed off and Beck is assisting her."
"HEY!" Beck yelled. "Stop trying to molest your dutch wife and fight me, you ponce!"
"Ponce?" Roger repeated, looking at Beck's robot. He turned back to Dorothy. "Well, I suspected the maid, anyway. Seemed a little too eager to believe her mistress was dead after the explosion."
Dorothy nodded. "The maid always did it, hm?"
Roger smirked. "Well, they didn't have a butler." He raised his arm up and called, "BIG O - SHOWTIME!"
The ground rumbled beneath the dome, disgorging the Black Megadeus in a shower of dirt and cement.
Roger slipped into the pilot's seat.
'CAST IN THE NAME OF GOD ... YE NOT GUILTY'
Dorothy, meanwhile, went looking for the maid.
Beck, inside the God of Swirly-Death thing, cackled madly, his voice amplified by the speakers. "HA! You can't defeat me this time, Roger Smith, Dominus of Big O! Yeah, I know your dirty little secret - besides your attraction to vacuum cleaners, ew - I know it's you in there! So - come on! - and fight me for real, Crow Boy!"
Beck's robot leaned forward, arms swinging hammers wildly, then charged for Big O.
Roger blinked. "This is embarrassing." With a shrug, he pressed Big O's hand out and slammed the palm against the forehead of Beck's tutti-frutti robot.
Grand Flamboyant Golden Swirly-God of Death was stopped in its tracks, arms winding around, with Big O's hand pressing it back from a full-on attack.
"What??" Beck cried, pushing the controls. "OH MY GOD! That sneaky, deceitful - cheater! How dare he?!"
Roger sat back in his pilot's seat, snorting a laugh as he switched on his own PA system. "Beck, you may be king of your element, but it isn't robot battling. It's almost humiliating going through these motions. You're embarrassing me in front of my wife."
Beck snarled. "Shut up, pervert!" He pushed a few buttons, making the robot attempt to kick at Big O's knees. Unfortunately, the Megadeus' knees were out of reach.
* * *
In the bomb-damaged portion of the house, Dorothy entered the dim rooms where she deduced the maid was hiding. Her headband slid out, the emergency light flickering on as she looked around the debris-filled room.
"Miss Amos," Dorothy called. "Why do you want to kill your mistress?"
"No sudden moves, Negotiator," the maid's voice choked from somewhere in the room. "I have a gun that can damage you - "
"Why are you doing this, Miss Amos?" Dorothy asked.
"The truth?" Becky Amos chortled. "All right - the truth is that the old bitch is getting in the way of my happiness with Ben!"
Dorothy was silent, then said, "I don't follow."
"Stupid android. You don't know what it's like to be in love! I love Ben, he loves me! He was going to divorce his wife and marry me, but then he got amnesia - my darling dear love got amnesia and he forgot all about me ... " She sobbed. "I am warmer and prettier and better suited to be the wife of a doctor! I know well enough I'm warmer - I've spent enough nights in his bed to know this! And he FORGOT me! The only woman who loves him!" She paused, trying to control her sobs. "He says he doesn't want to divorce now - meaning I can't have him, meaning I'm back to being a maid, meaning that old bitch will get everything by default and I'll have to work for her! She had to go!"
Dorothy processed this as she made her way closer to the source of Becky Amos' voice.
"Murder is not the answer, Miss Amos. If you surrender now, I can help you get a fair trial."
"No - it's too late. Much, much, MUCH too late, android ... " She giggled. "He's already dead."
Dorothy stopped. "Who?"
"Ben. I shot him. Blam - right between the eyes. He's sitting over there in what's left of the fireplace."
Dorothy's light swept the room, focusing on the fireplace with Benjamin Radinov's body crammed into the flue. She regarded the scene of horror with mild interest, then turned back to the maid.
"I'm afraid I can't get you a fair trial with your confession."
"Too late." The sound of a gun hammer being pulled back clicked. "I'm going to join him."
Dorothy's hand struck out, gripping Becky Amos' wrist and squeezing her hand to release the gun, crushing the girl's wrist in the process.
"No," Dorothy stated. "You must answer for your actions. Love does not make a person do such things."
"How would you know?" the maid cried in pain.
"Because I do love."
* * *
The battle between Big O and the Grand Flamboyant Golden Swirly-God of Death was short but brutal - Roger pushed Beck's robot to the ground and sent both pistons down on its gut.
By the time the military police arrived to arrest Rebecca Amos for the murder of Dr. Benjamin Radinov and the attempted murder of Dr. Dasha Radinova, Beck had to be pried out of the wreckage with the Jaws of Life.
Dorothy stood next to Roger as both made their statements.
Dr. Benjamin Radinov had been having an affair with his maid for the last five years, during which time Dr. Dasha Radinova had been working at her clinic, sacrificing long hours and her marriage to help others.
Radinov's amnesia was real, as was his desire to stay married to his wife, prompting Rebecca Amos to kill her employer with the help of Beck Gold. When Beck's desire for vengeance against me overshadowed his client's needs, she took matters into her own hands by killing her married lover and attempting to kill herself - one way or another, they were going to be together forever.
Dr. Radinova is in shock, not as much from the attempt on her life as realizing that her husband's amnesia was real, and that without the scars and baggage of their years together, he still instinctively loved her. I think she will recover in time, but I doubt she will be as willing to take anything at face value or for granted anymore. I wish her well.
* * *
Roger glanced at his wife, seeing her being expressionless.
"What are you thinking of?" he asked.
Dorothy turned her head to look up at him. Her fingers laced into his and she squeezed his hand. "I am glad I'm married to you, Roger-darling."
"Why?" he asked, pulling her close.
"Because there aren't any other maids in the house to come between us."
His eyebrows knotted in confusion, then he smirked and chuckled. "Dora-girl, anything more will give me heart failure."
"I wasn't referring to that ... " She smirked, whispering, "Pervert." Then added, "I meant whom you love."
He smiled, drawing an arm around her. "I was referring to that, too, Mrs. Smith."
Beck, recently freed from the smashed cockpit of his own mecha, made faces of disgust as he was escorted by them.
"Yugh! You know that little girl's an android? And he's married to her! I mean, what kind of weirdo does the hoppi-hoppa with his blender?"
Roger pulled his sunglasses on and became coldly professional. "Excuse me, Mr. Beck -"
The fist landed square against Beck's jaw, sending the criminal sprawling to the ground.
"HEY!" Beck objected. "WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!"
Roger's fist went back to his side. "That's for insulting my wife."
A small smile appeared on Dorothy's mouth. She hugged Roger around the waist from behind and breathed, "I love you, Roger Smith, even if you do think you have to defend my honor."
"It's a duty I take seriously, Mrs. Smith." He turned around. "Come on. Let's go home - I'll tune your motivator."
She giggled. "Tease."
The military police picked up Beck's prone body and deposited him in a vehicle. The report filed later said that Beck had attempted to assault an officer's foot with his rear, which is why the shoe-shaped bruise was there.
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