The Past of Tomorrow|
Dorothy Wayneright Smith knew this dream.
Since the moment she had awoke in the lab to her father's face, she had these dreams whenever she shut down for the night. She had once claimed not being able to dream, but that was because Roger was making a bad joke at her expense.
The dream played out again ...
She was holding a camera before her as she walked through her father's house and talked about things - a cat, her voice lessons, history classes, the military guy who had a cute behind - and then she walks into her father's lab where he is building a small model of a Megadeus. It looks an awful lot like Big O.
'This is daddy's laboratory,' she hears herself saying at this point, her voice lilting and colorful. 'He says he's working on a robotic project, but I think he's making toys. See?' The camera swings around to a shelf holding several other miniature robots, all of them two feet tall. 'Daddy wants to name the three big ones Catherine, Elizabeth, and Diana - can you believe that? Daddy may be brilliant, but he's lousy at naming things. I think I'll name one of them Glinda after the good witch from the "Oz" books. Glinda's my favorite character - I want to be like her when I become an adult, you know, be elegant and stuff and have a big book of All Knowledge and incinerate Munchkins with a flamethrower while laughing maniacally, which is what I think she should have done - '
Dorothy's eyes opened with a click. According to her internal chronometer, it was still almost an hour before Roger awoke.
She briefly pondered, as she did every morning, the paradox that a true self-aware android - such as herself - required sleep so as to be able to dream; lack of this 'dream-time' produced the same effects in androids as in humans. If she had been a true robot lacking self-awareness, she would be able to be active twenty-four hours a day without stopping. But then she would be a machine, unable to know joy or fear or loneliness or love ...
Dorothy's thoughts turned to her sleeping husband. Not a perfect specimen, by any measure. He had a poor self-image, for one thing, as well as a vast capacity for self-delusion - he still believed that she and Norman were the only ones who knew that he wore shoulder-pads to make himself look more imposing (as if he really needed them). He also did not appreciate her piano playing, nor her efforts to keep him healthy by monitoring his diet. And he still tended to think of her as the young girl she appeared to be rather than the mature entity she actually was, which required an occasional attitude adjustment in the form of a verbal barb or a mild practical joke.
Yet he was also loving and trusting and fiercely protective and proud of her and enjoyed her company and considered her a vital part of his world. And he was dedicated to his peculiar code of honor as much as he was to black suits. While he put on a mask of cynicism and flippance, he felt that honor and justice were fundamentals of the universe.
She decided to keep him.
Quietly, Dorothy slipped out of bed and pulled on a robe. She opened the door of the bedroom and exited, softly closing the door, then went down the hall to the common room.
She had always known about the silent emptiness of the house since she had joined the household several months back. She wondered how Roger could live with it, considering her own father always believed an active house was a happy house.
Dr. Wayneright had practiced a curious custom called 'salon' in which those of intelligence got together to enjoy performances and talks of rhetoric in someone's home. Dorothy herself was a performer in these salons of her father's, singing for his colleagues while they politely listened to her.
Of course, whenever she sang her father became attentive and smiled as he leaned on his cane and listened. And he enjoyed her piano-playing. He spent evenings after his work in the lab talking with her and telling her stories - most of them made up - while she made his coffee with sugar and cream and then played Beethoven ...
Who knew an android could become nostalgic?
She found herself thinking of her father more often the past few days, especially with the increased frequency of the dreams.
She had no idea what she was talking about in the dreams, either, which puzzled and frustrated her. She had always known her father had implanted memories into her, some with limited access, some never to be accessed at all.
Or, at least she had deduced so.
Dorothy sat at the piano, lifting the lid to stare at the keys.
"Good morning, Mistress Dorothy," Norman's crisply accented voice said from behind her.
She turned and smiled briefly. "Good morning, Norman. Did you sleep well?"
"Quite. And you, Mistress?"
"Norman, why have you been referring to me as 'Mistress Dorothy' since I married Roger?" she asked.
Norman smiled. "It is what one calls the master's wife. At least that is what they tell us in Butler School. Would you prefer something else?"
"No. I was just curious." She turned to look back at the piano keys. "I have to meet with Cassandra Neuwirth today, Norman. I will not be able to wake Roger."
"I will wake him, Mistress Dorothy."
Dorothy almost allowed a smirk to show. "You mean he'll wake himself when he pleases, which will be after three in the afternoon."
"Humans require a little more rest after ... " He coughed and blushed appropriately.
Dorothy - lacking delicacy - replied, "He did most of the work, so I suppose he must."
Norman stifled a laugh as he turned to go into the kitchen.
Dorothy placed her hands over the ivory and ebony as the song she knew she had never heard before poured from her hands and mouth. The slow, almost jazzy notes introduced the slow melody as she sang:
Full of crazy contradictions like a child
First you drive me wild
And then you win my heart with your wicked art
One minute tender, gentle
Then temperamental as a summer storm
Just when I believe your heart's getting warmer
You're cold and you're cruel
And I, like a fool, try to cope
Try to hang on, to hope
Everyday the same old roller coaster ride
But I've got my pride
I won't give in
Even though I know I'll never win
Oh, how I love this crazy world ... "
Dorothy closed the lid of the piano. Utterly familiar, but utterly alien.
Another unknown song, another mystery.
* * *
Roger Smith tells people who ask that he does not dream, but that is simply not the case. Roger's problem is that he only has a small number of dreams, and they make no sense. These dreams are the same ones, replaying over and over in erratic sequence since his earliest memories.
The dream he had now was one he had not had in several years, but it was instantly familiar to him. And he watches the dream unfold, as he always did ...
Roger is in a sunny park. He is a small child, perhaps five or six years old, and he is playing with a truck. There are many other children around, playing many games. Two boys somewhat older than Roger - perhaps ten or so - come over to him and steal his truck. He yells and tries to hit them, but they just push him down and kick him in the stomach.
Roger writhes in pain and humiliation as the boys laugh at him when suddenly the boys start yelling in pain. Roger looks up and sees a girl about his own age in a green dress with a rabbit doll in a backpack. She has a stick and is hitting the boys and yelling bad words. The larger boys drop the truck and run, crying in much the same way that they made Roger cry.
The girl bends down and holds him, hugging him and trying to relieve his pain. Roger gazes up at her and sees the same face he always sees when he has this dream ... the relaxing and smiling face that looks at him with warmth ...
And for the first time, Roger realizes it is the face of Dorothy Wayneright.
Roger awoke with a jerk, sitting up in bed. He looked around in panic, not sure why he should be panicking.
He sat on the edge of the bed and tried to organize his thoughts. It was one of the same dreams he had been having periodically his entire life. It was the same dream he had when he was three, when he was six, when he was ten, when he was fifteen ... every detail identical.
Including the face of the girl.
He had not had that particular dream in over four years, which might be why he did not immediately recognize Dorothy when he first saw her in the deserted warehouse during the hostage swap. But it was the same. All of it.
So why did he dream of a young Dorothy saving him as a child? It was not an event that had happened to him - he had that dream before he was the age of the dream-Roger, and continued having it afterward. It could not be a recovered memory, because he was born after the Event.
But there was all the evidence that indicated that he had suppressed memories that pre-dated the Event and his own birth. The exploration underground when he found the Archetype and had a panic attack, the finding of R.D's 'casket' and the sudden 'flashbacks', that strange headtrip he had while fighting the three Megadeuses from the ocean, the meeting with Gordon Rosewater and his damn tomatoes ...
Was this an indication that the source of these mysterious ghost-memories had something to do with Dorothy? Or more precisely, the original Dorothy Wayneright, who was the template of R. Dorothy Wayneright-Smith, his wife?
Or was it some sadistic God playing games with him?
Roger's head felt fuzzy. He was certain he could think better after coffee.
Something else also occurred to him - no Dorothy in bed.
Save for her black silk nightgown draped over her pillow and a handwritten note:
'Darling, Went out to meet with Cassandra.
Sorry I cannot wake you. I will be back later.
I love you. - Dora
PS: Your left shoe is under the dresser. You
really must be careful where you toss those. I
found mine on top of the wardrobe.'
Roger laughed. "One month of marriage coupled with a battle with a new Big, a run-in with clown-boy, two dragons, an assassin, and one instance of Angel trying to seduce me, and she's concerned where our shoes land when I'm busy."
* * *
Cassandra Neuwirth was one of the few people Dorothy called a friend. There was something about the actress that allowed Dorothy to indulge in human-female-like behavior ... like comparing how men act during lovemaking and what type of dresses best suit their frames.
Their breakfast meeting was no exception, as Cassandra sat across from Dorothy in the cafe, her face was bare of make-up in the gray morning light and florescent lighting. Her red hair was pulled up in a bathknot, revealing her pale, freckled skin and her large green eyes.
She sipped her coffee. "I've been reading those books you saved from the library," she said. "And I brought a couple for you to read that I think would interest you."
Dorothy primly sipped her own coffee, not tasting the brew. "What are they?"
"From what I could gather from the forwards and such, they belong to a series called 'The Oz Books' by a gentleman named L. Frank Baum. It's about a fantasy world called Oz and it's filled with colorful characters. On the surface it reads like a children's book, but I noticed there's subtle commentary ... probably about the society the stories were written in." She poured a bit of cream in her coffee and stirred. "Anyway, there's a character in there named Dorothy - young girl, quiet and unassuming. From someplace called Kansas. Even has a little dog named Toto."
Dorothy perked up. "Oz books?" she repeated.
"Yes," Cassandra confirmed, pulling the books out and placing them on the table. "There's supposed to be fourteen of them, but you had rescued only two - 'Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz' and 'The Wizard of Oz'."
Dorothy picked up 'The Wizard of Oz' and randomly flipped it open to a page.
Both Dorothy and the Scarecrow had been greatly interested
in the story of the Tin Woodman, and now they knew why he was so
anxious to get a new heart.
"All the same," said the Scarecrow, "I shall ask for brains
instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a
heart if he had one."
"I shall take the heart," returned the Tin Woodman; "for
brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing
in the world."
Dorothy did not say anything, for she was puzzled to know
which of her two friends was right, and she decided if she could
only get back to Kansas and Aunt Em, it did not matter so much
whether the Woodman had no brains and the Scarecrow no heart,
or each got what he wanted.
What worried her most was that the bread was nearly gone, and
another meal for herself and Toto would empty the basket. To be sure
neither the Woodman nor the Scarecrow ever ate anything, but she was
not made of tin nor straw, and could not live unless she was fed.
Cassandra was startled by Dorothy's small cry of surprise.
"What's wrong?" Cassandra asked.
"I remember reading this," Dorothy replied.
Cassandra raised an eyebrow, her mouth falling into a thin line. "These are books from Brenda's room that never saw the light of day. If you recall, they were still packaged in that plastic wrap stuff and weren't read by anyone else except her." Her green eyes locked to Dorothy's concentric black. "Unless you had some memories put in you."
Dorothy blinked rapidly, expressing her confusion. "I am aware my father had implanted memories in me when Solderno built me. But where would he have gotten memories of a young girl reading Oz books when I was made five years ago and the Oz books were last seen over forty years ago?"
Cassandra gulped the last of her coffee and pressed the cup out to the edge of the table to signal a refill. "I know my father counted your father among his colleagues. I've heard often enough he was going to 'Wayneright's Salon' for the evening. From what I could gather, your father was a brilliant man when it came to engineering and robotics." She traced her fingertip over a waterstain. "Who's to say he wouldn't have the means to copy memories before The Event?"
Dorothy thought of the time she had returned to her father's house during the Fitzgerald case; she was aware Paradigm Corporation had sucked out everything they considered 'memories', even if they did not understand any of his equipment. In fact, Dorothy herself had little idea what half of his equipment was in her father's labs.
"He might have."
* * *
Roger worried for his wife as she slammed the car door and dashed toward the abandoned mansion that had once been her home.
She had become obsessed with an idea that there was something important buried within the house.
He tried to convince her that Paradigm Corp had flushed out anything she would find useful, but she was ... convinced? sure? insanely insisting? ... that there was something in there no man had ever seen in forty years.
Roger got out of the Griffon and made his way up to the front walk where Dorothy pressed the door in and entered.
"Any of your sisters still here?" he asked, pulling his sunglasses off.
Dorothy's headband slid out, the light illuminating the front hall.
"My sisters, Roger-dear?"
"The ones we met last time. Are there any more?"
Dorothy snickered, making her way toward the west wing of the house. "My sisters like you, darling."
Roger snorted. "Yeah, they like handing my ass to me. Dorothy One, the unfinished one, and the other Megadeus."
"That's Glinda," Dorothy corrected him. She paused. "Why did I say that?"
Roger brushed his hand down her back. "Implanted memories?"
"Perhaps." She continued down the hall, weaving around debris. Her hand reached back and clutched Roger's hand tightly, keeping him close.
They entered a room, the floor covered in tile and the cabinets and drawers made of wood, now all warped and decayed.
"The kitchen?" Roger asked.
The broken window over the sink looked out over the backyard of an overgrown formal garden, while another broken window on the perpendicular wall offered a view of the sideyard filled with dead fruit trees. Dorothy approached the window to the sideyard, pressing her hands to the countertop as she stared intently out the window and into the artificially sunlit neighborhood.
Roger shoved his hands in his pockets. Personally, he felt the Wayneright Mansion was creepy, even in artificial daylight. It looked like something from one of those Gothic romance novels his wife had under her side of the bed - large, dark, foreboding, uninviting. Something he expected an old mad scientist and his beautiful daughter to live in.
Of course, it makes perfect sense.
Dorothy took her hands away from the counter and turned around back to the entry of the kitchen. She spun back around and closed her eyes, then opened them again and strode quickly across the room back to the counter.
Her hand reached down and swung open one of the cabinets under the counter.
"What are you doing?" Roger asked.
"Retracing steps I know I never took," she answered, kneeling on the floor and stretching her hand into the cabinet to feel around.
Roger approached her and crouched down to look into the cabinet by the illumination of her headband.
Dorothy's hand pressed down on the bottom shelf ... and the shelf creaked downward on rusty hinges.
Roger blinked. "What the - "
Dorothy smiled slightly. "Yes, just like Norman's cabinet in the kitchen." She got up and slipped in feet first. "The hatch is wide enough, dear, come with me."
"What is it?" Roger asked as she slid down the hatch and disappeared.
Her voice answered, "A secret entryway. Come along."
Roger maneuvered himself into the doorway of the cabinet, feeling the hatch give way under him and he slid down into a small shaft for several seconds.
At last, the slide became less angled and Roger landed on his feet in a medium-sized room.
Dorothy's light illuminated the dark space, revealing the most curious items. She stood near him, looking carefully around.
"I remember this room," she said softly. "And I had never been here since my creation."
The walls were covered in posters advertising what could be theatre shows: 'The Phantom of the Opera', 'Les Miserables', 'Sweeney Todd', 'Victor/Victoria', 'The Scarlet Pimpernel', and 'Cats'. Photographs were tacked up around these posters, pictures of various people in costumes or outrageous actions, some of them labeled ... 'Me and Jamie as Christine and the Phantom' ... 'Keith singing to ME!' ... along with theatre tickets taped to the posters.
Pillows and large bags of pillows were scattered over the floor, all of them in a variety of colors, predominately purple and red. One wall had a door with a rusty latch.
A shelf lined another wall, filled with Gothic romance novels, data disks, what appeared to be a music system, as well as some redheaded dolls and stuffed rabbits.
Dorothy went to one of the shelves and picked up a large pad. She flipped it open and looked through it.
She dropped it.
"What is it?" Roger asked as he went to pick it up and look at it.
The first page held a sketch of Roger Smith - nude, with messy hair and a coy smile, leaning back on a bed, one arm behind his head. Underneath the sketch were the words 'Was it good for you, too, baby?' Followed by 'Yes, my Virile God of Manliness, yes!'
The second page was him, this time in a black uniform and obviously angry, a small word balloon next to his mouth: 'Dorothy R. Wayneright, put that damn camera away!'
The Smiths looked at each other.
"[CENSORED]," Roger commented at last.
* * *
By the end of three hours, Roger and Dorothy had read the college workbooks and semi-filled diary notebooks lying in neat rows on the shelves, and it was obvious that this room had belonged to Dorothy Renee Wayneright, the first Dorothy in the Wayneright mansion.
But it was not her bedroom; it seemed to be a sort of secret hidey-room, holding things she enjoyed - music, her successes as a stage actress, drawings, paintings, and a shrine to a man named Major Roger Smith (who usually seemed to be annoyed in his pictures, probably because of the embarrassing number of photos of his behind).
Roger was numb. The human Dorothy - Dorothy Prime - was an earthy-minded college student who enjoyed her life, hobbies, and male company.
Specifically the company of this Major Smith, of which his image comprised a good half of the photographs in the room (the rest being Dorothy and her castmates and friends). This is what confused and numbed him, this man - this person of his own likeness and name - existed in a time before The Event.
The image of Gordon Rosewater came to Roger's mind, Gordon Rosewater and his damn tomatoes. Flashbacks of being a small child and in a classroom, his vision filled with nothing but bars and numbers ...
Could this Major Smith had been the one to make the contract with Gordon Rosewater?? Roger knew nothing whatsoever about his biological parents ... could he be ...
Roger cleared that thought out of his head, shoved it in a hole, and nailed the opening shut. Thinking about his unknown parentage usually made him drink to excess, and he did not want that now.
"I found something," Dorothy said quietly.
"What is it?"
"I think it's a camera ... " She paused, looking over the series of buttons on top, then selected the one marked 'play'.
A staticky sound emerged from a small speaker in the device, the smaller lens becoming a small monitor as a picture came into focus of a girl's bedroom.
Dorothy's voice came from the speaker, sounding slightly tinny:
'Okay, we got focus, folks. Let's get this show on the road.'
A very familiar figure came into view, a petite girl with short red hair and wearing a pair of white pajamas with red hearts all over them. She plops onto the bed and grins. "Merry Christmas, Old Lady Dorothy! This is you, age eighteen.' She spreads her arms wide and giggles. 'I hope you look as good as I do and don't have a lot of wrinkles and stuff. Anyway, Daddy gave me a digital video camera for my big Christmas present and I decided I'm going to make a video diary for when I'm decrepit and wrinkly. I don't know when I'll break out the camera in the future, but I hope you're a famous actress or singer and you HAVE to be married to the so-damn-yummy Major Smith - ' She pulls up a photograph and presses it toward the camera lens. It is a picture of Roger in a dark military uniform without insignia, a smirk on his face. She pulls the picture back and looks at it. ' - Who probably is an old dumpy guy with no hair and a beer gut by your time and doesn't look as spankalicious as he does now.' Suddenly Dorothy's face fills the tiny screen, a scolding look on her face as she shakes her finger at the viewers. 'But if you DON'T get him while he's young and studly you'll have to become a lesbian and I don't even like to think about THAT! Yuck!'
Dorothy looked up to see her husband's face volley between embarrassment and injured vanity and back to embarrassment again. She paused the camera. "Roger?"
"Yes, Dora?" he muttered.
"I'm afraid we're going to find out."
* * *
Evening rolled around by the time Dorothy finished rewiring the monitor on Roger's desk to playback the information on the disk from the camera.
Roger sat back in his desk chair, watching Dorothy test image and sound quality on the parts they had already played.
He could not help but think of everything he saw in the room. Paradigm had never found it, a roomful of memories from a teenage girl's perspective. Angel would have killed to come across such a trove as that. By local systems, it was the richest room in all of Paradigm City.
But somehow, the emptying of a girl's private haven in the name of public security and knowledge seemed ... wrong.
And, damnit, he was biased because it had belonged to his wife's human predecessor.
Not to mention all those pictures of Major Smith ...
"It's finished," Dorothy announced, moving around to his side and pressing the play button of the camera.
The image came into sharp focus, clear and in bright color, a stark contrast to the usual images on his monitors.
Dorothy Prime continues: 'YUCK! Anyway, I'm going to take you on a tour of the house and Daddy's lab - OW!' She twists around and pulls a black kitten around to the front, petting the squirmy animal. 'Stop that! Oh, yeah, this is Hercule Peirot, but I call him Pero for short - '
Dorothy and Roger looked at each other.
' - And Pero can disappear. Watch this.' She releases the cat and the kitten went to playing with her hand. 'Pero! Go see Vash!' The cat jumps up and skitters off. She turns back to the camera. 'He's out of the room and none of the doors are open. Spooky, huh? Did you ever figure out where he goes? Hey, Pero, bring back Vash! Better yet, bring back Wolfwood - yum! So, here I am, in college, getting my AA crud out of the way, and still having traumatic flashbacks of my American History One test. Ugh, I hate history. That's why I'm going to be an actress. I already tried medical stuff and engineering but I got bored - I learned more from watching Dad work than in class.' Her head snaps up and she listens, then jumps up and looks out a window, pulling aside lacy white curtains. A sunny smile crosses her face and she begins hopping around, giggling. 'OOH! The Major's here! He has no life whatsoever, so he came to visit me on Christmas Day! I need to get dressed - maybe I'll wear my new green dress I got from Uncle Miguel.'
"Uncle Miguel?" Roger asked.
"I understood my father and Solderno were partners for many years. Perhaps before the Event he insisted Dorothy Prime call him 'Uncle Miguel'."
The camera blinked out, then came back on again, this time appearing to be traveling down a grand staircase. Garlands of pine and tinsel snaked around the banister while colored lights danced around the main door entry.
"This is the mansion all lit up, eh?" Roger asked.
"Father always had the mansion decorated that way for Heaven's Day," Dorothy replied. "This implies Heaven's Day was once called 'Christmas'."
"An even more enigmatic name." He thought about it. "Why didn't you hear of gift-giving on Heaven's Day, then, if your father celebrated it?"
"He never practiced gift-giving. He always held a Salon that evening and I would sing."
The view shifts to a hallway, also lined with lights and several oil paintings of men and women resembling Dorothy and her father, then a door opens to a small room, followed by another door opening to a large room filled with white and black boards, drafting tables, shelves holding plastic and metal pieces, advanced pre-Event electronics, and a large work table holding a two foot tall model of a robot.
Roger sat up. "That looks like Big O," he commented.
Dorothy peered closely. "There are other Megadeus models on those shelves in the corner of the screen."
A young Timothy Wayneright with combed back brown hair and a neatly-trimmed goatee looks up from a drafting table he was working at and smiles warmly. Next to him is Major Roger Smith, his black uniform neatly pressed, his cap under his arm, and his black hair gelled up into a familiar style. A smirk appears on his face.
'Dorothy, Merry Christmas, my dear!' Timothy calls across the room.
'Merry Christmas, Daddy!' Dorothy's voice replies. Her voice drops to a sultry tone, 'Merry Christmas, Major.'
Major Smith salutes her. 'Merry Christmas, jailbait.'
"What's a 'jailbait'?" Dorothy asked.
"I'm not really sure, but I have an idea."
Dorothy grunted. 'I'm eighteen, stud, and I'm going to be nineteen next month! Perfectly legal, you know.'
Dorothy thought about it, then replied, "Oh. I get it."
'Legal infant, a mere technicality.' He dug into his back pocket and produced an object. 'Here's your present.'
Dorothy's hand reaches out and brings it up to the camera to see a book entitled 'Miss Manners' Book on Social Behavior'.
'Tease!' she cries, the view dipping downward along his body and concentrating on the curve of his backend.
'Let that be a lesson to you, Miss Wayneright,' he chuckles. 'Now you go play with your new camera.'
'I am, Major, I am ... '
His hand covers the lens. 'Dorothy R. Wayneright, get that camera away from me!'
'Pooh, you're no fun.'
Her father laughs. 'Go on now, honey. Daddy's got some work to do with the Major.'
Major Smith begins, 'Sir, with all due respect regarding your daughter - '
'Forget it, Smith. I can either control Dorothy or do my work - I can't do both.'
'Granted, although Alice Roosevelt was more ladylike when Teddy Roosevelt made that statement.'
'I never claimed to be a lady, Major,' Dorothy adds.
'Go on,' Wayneright says. 'Scoot. And behave yourself!'
'All right, Daddy.' She suddenly breaks into song in an impressive operatic soprano voice as she leaves the room:
'In sleep he sang to me
In dreams he came
That voice which calls to me
and speaks my name ...
And dare I dream again?
For now I find
the Phantom of the Opera is there ...
inside my mind ... '
Dorothy carries the camera into the kitchen. 'Now, Old Lady Dorothy, here's something you probably haven't seen in a while.' She opens a cabinet and slips inside, pulling the cabinet closed behind her as she slides down into the secret room. She straightens up and switches on an electric lantern. 'Welcome to the private world of Dorothy R. Wayneright. You may have forgotten - senility does that - but this used to be a bunker from the 1950's during that Cold War thing.' She crosses and sets the camera on a shelf, then sits down on one of the bag chairs. 'See? Didn't I tell you he was spankalicious?'
Dorothy glanced at her husband and remarked, "You need to work out more, Roger-dear."
"That's not me."
"Then he does a good impression of you."
"Hey, I never called you 'jailbait'!" He picked up his coffee and found she had skipped the cream altogether and went in for the kill with the sugar. He discreetly spat it back into his cup and made a sign of warding he had seen used at the military police station in relation to bad coffee.
Dorothy turned back to the video.
'Anyway,' she says. 'That's pretty much how it goes between us. I ply him with my subtle, feminine wiles - '
Roger bit his hand to keep from laughing.
' - And he regards me as some sort of fourteen-year-old pest.' She pouts. 'I met him only a few months ago, and I've been eighteen the past year. What's wrong? He's not gay - Sergeant Burg says the Major went on dates and stuff.'
"Burg??" Roger repeated. He shook his head. "No, hold on, that can't be."
"Quiet," Dorothy stated.
'It's frustrating, that's what it is. Roger Smith is a Man. Not only a Man, but an Alpha Male type ... ' She bites her lip them presses her face close to the camera, her vivid violet eyes filled with secrecy. 'I've never told anyone this, and I never will. This is the first and only time I'll ever say it aloud. I know Roger Smith is going to be the father of my children.' She shakes her head, looking down at the floor. 'I know how weird that sounds, saying it aloud. But ... when we first met ... I knew that he was the One.' She pulls back. 'Old Dorothy, you've lived through the next few decades. Is this just the insane ramblings of a frustrated teenage girl or is it going to pass? I don't know if there would be anyone else but him. There's something about him that says he's - God - he's the other half of my soul! His to-die-for bod don't hurt matters, either.' Her smile perks up a bit. 'But, hey, maybe I am nuts. I'll probably be too busy working in the theatre and hiding from papparazzi to care about being married and having a family and stuff. Right?' She ponders for a moment, then asks, 'Maybe if I tricked him into thinking I was a virgin?' She giggles and salutes the camera. 'Well, signing off until later. I have to rehearse for the "Phantom".'
The camera blinked out, and Dorothy hit the stop button. "That's all for tonight."
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