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Beneath The Surface

Part 3

"She what?" Roger looked at Norman, aghast.

"Master Roger," Norman said gently. "She inadvertently saw Miss Angel kiss you, and sheís concerned about it." He glared at Roger. "And rightfully so, sir. Only a blind fool would miss how preoccupied you have been, and our Miss Dorothy is neither blind nor a fool."

Roger rolled his eyes. It was yet another complication that he didnít need. "Thereís nothing to tell, Norman," he said wearily. "We had a couple of chance meetings that turned into...well, dates, more or less. Things at least seemed to be progressing in that direction. She seems convinced that Iím in love with someone else, though, and she wouldnít let me tell her otherwise."

"Very good, sir. Would you like to talk to Miss Dorothy yourself?" Norman asked.

"Yes...wait, no," Roger answered. "I have a feeling that I would just make matters worse at this point. I need time, Norman, time to figure this out. I know I havenít been entirely with you these last few days." He opened a drawer and pulled out the package he had nearly forgotten about. "I need you to take a look at these, too. Feel free to show them to Dorothy if you think sheíll have any insight."

"I understand, Master Roger." The butler pocketed the stack of pictures. "Iíll check these out and get back to you," he offered "and with your permission, Iíll speak to Miss Dorothy."

"Yes, do that, Norman," Roger told him. A note of irony tinged his voice. "If you two can figure it out, please let me know." He fell silent again, gazing out at the skyline. He barely noticed the click of the door as Norman left the room.

Angel thought that he was in love with Dorothy. Was it true?† He didnít see how it could be.† He certainly counted the android as a friend, at least he did when she wasnít infuriating him. He could not deny that she was capable of independent thought. He could freely admit that there were times that he felt insanely protective of her, and there had been moments that he felt a sort of tenderness, even a real affection. That wasnít the same as being in love, though. Romantic love required something more, did it not?

He sighed. That was truly the heart of the matter. Dorothy suited him just fine, better than anyone in many ways. She was strange and awkward at times, but he could respect her striving to understand, and the glimpses into her thought process often were nothing short of amazing. Sure, she was surly and sarcastic and utterly maddening, but she made him laugh as often as she annoyed him. She was witty and quick and, in her way, completely intriguing.

No, the problem was with him. He had never been the type of man who could just take his pleasure without caring for his partner, his image as a louse notwithstanding. Love required reciprocity, a give and take that was just not possible with R. Dorothy Wayneright. Even if she was fully anatomically female--and that was one piece of information he didnít even want to acquire--she wasnít capable of responding in the ways that brought joy to a relationship. He chuckled to himself, thinking of her response if he came home and kissed her on the cheek. "Why did you do that, Roger Smith?" she would say in her inflectionless way.

He laughed out loud then, imagining himself trying to explain his actions. Oh, she could learn the appropriate responses, undoubtedly. But it wouldnít be real, it would just be imitation, and if it wasnít real, he didnít want anything to do with it. While there was a perverse inner demon that sometimes wondered if she could and what it would be like, if the truth be told, the idea of it gave him a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He shivered a little in the cold night air. Perhaps Angel had somehow sensed his inner conflict and mistaken his real feelings. He wished that he could see her and explain, but a promise was a promise. He was confident that he would run into her sooner or later and then they would talk about it.

He looked down to the street below and saw Dorothy walking back towards the mansion. He sincerely hoped Norman would be able to come up with something that would satisfy her curiosity. For now, though, it was late and now that he had finally achieved a bit of understanding about the situation, he realized he was tired. He yawned and stretched, seeking the warmth of his bed.

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