The Past of Tomorrow|
Another dream. A flash of memory, maybe.
Roger inside the cockpit of Big O, the blows from his opponent causing him to whip around in his seat as he clings tenaciously to the controls.
"Damnit!" he yells, slamming his hand on a control he did not recognize. He feels the Megadeus lurch as it straightens again, the body plates sliding outward to allow the field generator on full force. The hip anchors snap out, crashing into everything and pulling taut to keep the Megadeus balanced.
Roger grips the controls, grinding his teeth as he stares through the tinted glass of the cockpit toward the vague form of his opponent. "This is it, just us two, buddy. And I'm going to have the honors of you sending you to Hell first!"
The other Megadeus also glows brightly, blinding Roger through the glass.
He feels tears stream his face as a Knowingness descends upon him, a knowing he is not going to survive. Images of Dorothy pass before his eyes and her sweet voice singing fills his ears as he hits the Final Stage weapon -
"Love you, Dora, take care of the baby."
The heat of the explosion tears through the cockpit ...
Roger snapped awake, sitting straight up in bed and gasping for breath.
Dorothy was up next to him, her warm arms encircling his shoulders. "What is it?" she whispered as her lips brushed his ear.
He gripped her arm, holding her close as he took deep breaths to calm down. His other hand went up to his face to wipe away the beads of sweat from his forehead.
"Dreamed ... my death." He turned to her, grabbing her into a tight hug and squeezing with all his strength as he gathered his thoughts. "I was fighting another Big ... and I used some attack. The other Big had it, too ... God, the heat boiled my skin ... " He lifted her face up and kissed her mouth, then pulled away. "I can't do this anymore, Dora. These ... these damned messed-up memories!"
"The memories of the Dominus?" she asked softly.
"Yeah." He rested his chin on top of her head, holding her tightly. "Alex Rosewater asked if I wasn't able to handle the memories ... Nightmares are all they are. Whoever this Dominus was ... " He looked up at the dark ceiling, as if searching for an answer. "The same damn nightmares - thousands of Megadeuses, the city on fire, and now my death with my last thoughts of you."
Dorothy pulled away, looking up at him. "Precognitive dreams are illogical, Roger. Dreaming of one's death is merely an outlet of an anxious subconscious."
"I'm sorry, Roger-darling. You need comfort right now." She hugged him, slowly pulling him back down on the bed and went to gently stroking his forehead and hair.
One thing led to another ...
* * *
A little while later, relaxed and sleepy, Roger asked, "What 'baby'?"
"Beg pardon, husband?"
"My last words in the dream - 'Love you, Dora, take care of the baby'. What baby?"
"I do not know." She cuddled close to him and lay her head on his chest, hearing his heartbeat.
A baby. What a strange thing to think of. 'Take care of the baby'. Their baby, perhaps? 'Their' baby would be out of the question since she was an android and could not reproduce ... Maybe they could adopt. After all, the subject of children had never been brought up, but it was going to someday, and their only option would be adoption.
Somehow Dorothy felt especially ashamed of being an android and unable to produce children. After all, Dorothy Prime believed Major Roger Smith would be the father of her children. Meanwhile, Negotiator Roger Smith would die without his legacy being passed on, due to being married to an android.
Roger's snoring soon began, and Dorothy followed his lead.
[Search program initiated. Parameters: Baby, pregnancy, reproduction.]
[Files Found: 1,171,998]
[Program flag triggered. Program initiated.]
[Starter materials found. Blueprint analyzed. Engage growth mode.]
[Second stage bioconverter systems engaged.]
[Framework compensation systems engaged.]
Dorothy's eyes opened abruptly.
"What was that??"
"Hmm?" Roger murmured in his sleep, his arm draping across her.
Dorothy felt a program running, one she did not recognize and had no idea what it was doing. Eventually the background noise of the program quieted down somewhat, allowing her to drift back to sleep.
* * *
From the Video Diary of Dorothy R. Wayneright:
'Good morning. It's been a few days, but it's now New Year's Eve! Daddy is going to attend a big muckity-muck function tonight. Personally, I think it's for him and his buddies to get tanked and grope the waitresses. He said I can spend the evening at home - yeah, right, like I'm going to spend a party night home! - or I can go with him to the function, or I can hang out with my friends. Well, no parties have been planned because we had final dress rehearsals for 'Phantom', which will be opening tomorrow night! WHEEE! New Year's show! Anyway, I guess I'll go to the function with Daddy. God, I am going to be so bored. Maybe Daddy will get into another fistfight with Old Rosewater again, that's always good for a larf.'
"Rosewater, eh? Wonder if he had a tomato fetish back then?" Roger chuckled, squeezing Dorothy who was sitting in his lap. Roger liked her sitting in his lap, although his legs began going to sleep after a few minutes. At least Dorothy sensed when it began and got up accordingly without embarrassing him.
'Well, I can't rely on any of those old coots to be fun, so I gotta make my own!' She gets up from the bed and pulls a red taffeta ballgown from her closet. 'I got it while I was doing after Christmas shopping at Saks. Isn't it lovely?? I don't care for red too much, but it's such a sexy color, and the neckline is low enough to cause some retinal damage on the male sex. Anyway, this, some sheer black back-seamed stockings, garters, high heels - Wooo! Might even get up and sing a number!' She smiles cutely. 'Well, gotta get ready. I think I'll take the camera with me. Never known what might happen.'
Camera blinks, then switches back on to a scene of a fancy dress ball, most all the men in black tie, some in military uniforms, a few women (mostly middle-aged) in somber dresses. The only bright spot seems to be Dorothy's red dress-clad reflection in the mirrored wall her camera is trained on. She waves at her reflection.
'Hi! Here I am at the most boring ball in the world - God, even Cinderella had a two-dimensional-personality prince to dance with. All I seem to get are horny old men who want to believe I'm fourteen. Like EWWW! Genius does not make you interesting, it makes you a varkin' nut!'
A male voice calls, 'Dottie! Why didn't you tell me you were here??'
The scene swings around to see a young man built like a football player, his big shoulders straining his white jacket. His black hair is combed back, revealing a holier-than-thou smirk.
"Wait a minute, that can't be - !" Roger objected.
Dorothy's voice comments, 'Alex Rosewater, fancy meeting you here. Have our Dads gotten into a brawl yet?'
Alex chuckles, shoving a hand in his pocket. 'Not yet, but I've got a bet on somewhere after eleven o'clock. Have to get them liquored up first.'
'Hey, my babes!' another voice calls.
The camera swings around to face a young blonde man in military uniform.
"Beck?!" Roger yelped.
"So it is," Dorothy confirmed. "Or someone who strongly resembles him."
'Jason!' Dorothy cries, throwing her arms around his neck, causing the camera to jerk around. The camera pulls back. 'What are you doing in that suit?? I haven't heard from you since graduation!'
Jason Beck shrugs, smirking. 'Went into the military, Dotticakes. Dad finally threw me out after the Cotton Candy Incident at Harvard - for some reason, he thinks the son of a bank president should be more disciplined.'
'I heard about that,' Alex comments. 'Should have known it was you up to the cotton candy stuff.'
'Hey, did you see me clearly? Could you spot me in a parade? I don't think so. I could've been anybody.'
Dorothy giggles. 'Any tall, skinny guy with a blonde swirl on his forehead.'
'More common than you think, Dotticakes. Everyone knows I have Evil Quintuplets. Anyway, the military straightened my ass out seven ways past Sunday. I'm working on the Megadeus Project as part of ground crew. I'm aiming for Machina of one of the Bigs.'
Roger paused the disk for a moment.
"'Mega-dee-oos'?" Roger carefully pronounced. "You think they mean Megadeus?"
"That would be logical," Dorothy agreed. "Since they referred to the 'Bigs'. Perhaps 'Mega-dee-oos' is the correct pronunciation, and not 'Mega-doos'."
"That's the way it's spelled."
"Perhaps it's in another language? One we have no record of. That would explain why the pronunciation differs."
Roger shrugged. "Yet another Megadeus-related mystery. Why am I not surprised?" He restarted the disk.
'You were always very good with mecha,' Alex points out. 'Remember those robots you made for our high school drama department's production of 'Weird Romance'?'
'Damn straight, huggy-bear.' He makes a face at him. 'So how are you and the boyfriend - still together?'
"Boyfriend??" Roger exclaimed.
Dorothy looked at him. "I thought you knew. Everybody else did."
'Sisco?' Alex continues. 'Oh, he's a doll. He makes the best quiche in the world, you have to try it someday.'
'I'm allergic to eggs,' Jason replies. 'But thanks for the offer. Listen, I gotta go and brown nose my commanding officer. We all gotta get together sometime.'
'That'd be great!' Dorothy agrees. 'See you later, Jason.'
'See ya, toots.' Jason leaves the screen.
Alex turns to Dorothy. 'Well, I extend the invitation to you, Dottie.'
'I need a date if I'm going to be having brunch with you two.'
Alex leans close, pushing the camera away so it shows both their faces. 'Why not ask that delicious dish Major Smith? I've met him a couple of times - if he weren't straight I'd be chasing him all over the place.'
Roger turned green. "Ugh! Alex Rosewater wanted Major Roger Smith!"
"I thought you said Major Smith was not you?" Dorothy asked.
"Dorable, Alex was attracted to Major Smith - he liked the way he looks! And I have to admit that there is a slight general resemblance." He scrunched up slightly. "Egh, no wonder he keeps asking to see me ... " He shuddered.
'I know the feeling, Alexia.' She sighs. 'What's WRONG with me? Why doesn't he want me? I'm beginning to feel maladjusted!'
'Cause you are, Dottie?' Alex suggests. He looks up and smiles. 'Well, speak of the Devil and he's sure to appear.'
'He's here?!' Dorothy cries. She puts the camera on the table and starts to straighten her gown. 'Oh, God, how do I look? Do I have any lipstick on my teeth??'
'Gorgeous, girlfriend. No lipstick on the teeth.' He giggles and leans close. 'I got an idea, just pretend I'm straight.'
Alex grips Dorothy in his arms and dips her down, kissing her. Her arms wave around wildly until she is able to grip his shoulders.
Dorothy raised an eyebrow. "I suddenly feel very soiled, and I was not the one who kissed him."
"I hope Major Smith kicks his ass," Roger grumbled.
The figure of Major Roger Smith enters the camera frame. He is in a fancy dress uniform of blue with gold pins and colorful chest medals. He clears his throat.
'I'm cutting in.'
"Good boy!" Roger called.
Alex looks up, then pulls Dorothy up and smirks. 'See you later, Dottie.'
Dorothy blushes bright red, matching her dress, as Alex walks off. 'He's a friend.'
'Dottie?' Major Smith repeats.
'Call me Dottie and you die,' she replies, obviously quoting someone.
Major Smith smirks. 'If I wasn't sure about him being - ' and his wrist went limp ' - then I would have thought he meant it.'
Dorothy giggles. 'Alex is a dear, but he's mostly harmless.'
'Mostly. Always makes me uncomfortable when I visit his father Gordon Rosewater on business. Not wholesome like you, Miss Innuendo Wayneright.'
'I'm wholesome?' Dorothy laughs. She hitches her foot up on his shoulder, her high heel shoe almost touching his ear. The ballgown's skirt slips down her leg, exposing the back-seamed black stockings.
Major Smith turns red this time. 'Miss Wayneright, will you please take your foot away from my face?'
Dorothy grins evilly. 'No. I want you know how flexible I am.'
'That isn't amusing, Miss Wayneright.'
'Pooh. You're no fun.'
He presses her away. 'You're wrinkling the suit, anyway.'
Dorothy pulls her leg back down and brushes his uniform. 'Ah, so you're really an Army boy. All this time I thought you were part of a secret military organization since you had a black uniform without insignia.'
Major Smith pulls the cap off and places it on the table next to the camera. 'That's what I want you think - it gives me an air of mystery, correct?'
'Oh, very much so, Major. So, what are you doing here tonight? I thought you'd be flossing your brains out or something?'
'My mysterious affiliation has regulations that say I have to appear human in front of my associates at least once a month so the enemy doesn't get suspicious. Assuming they spy on dull parties.'
'Of course they do - Dull-Party-Sat 16 is in geosynchronus orbit overhead even as we speak, taking photos of my cleavage from eighty miles above.'
'Besides,' he said, ignoring her sarcasm. 'Every person here except you and Alex is part of the Megadeus Project.'
Dorothy folds her arms. 'You mean those toys Daddy makes? Don't tell me him and Uncle Miguel and Old Rosewater and the team are actually making those toys into real mecha? I've seen the schematics - they shouldn't even be working.'
'Of course they are, Miss Wayneright. They have been for two years now.' He chuckles and pats her head. 'Pay attention in class, child.'
She tries to bite his hand. 'Why?'
'Ah, that's the mystery, isn't it? And I'm afraid I can't share that with you due to you not having any sort of military clearance.'
'Sure I do!' she insists. Dorothy proceeds to prove it by brushing up against him and running her hands up his chest and wiggling provocatively. In a thick, husky accent she asks, 'Tell me some important military secrets, dah-link.'
Major Smith laughs, reaching for her hands. 'No, but I will dance with you.'
'Even better!' Dorothy giggles. 'Hold on, let me turn the camera off.'
The camera blinked.
Dorothy's lip twitched slightly. "This is quite confusing."
"How?" Roger asked.
"Dorothy Prime throwing herself at Major Smith in such a blatant way. She asks if she is maladjusted for doing so."
Roger pulled her close and squeezed her. "My love, you also aren't a hormonal teenager. I prefer you this way. If Major Smith is anything like me, then he is probably turned off by her behavior."
She looked up at him. "How do you prefer I act then?"
"Like yourself, like you have since we got married." His face became serious as his brows knotted low over his eyes. "But that conversation ... the Megadeus Project ... your father, Miguel Solderno, and Gordon Rosewater all being involved. This Major Smith being part of it as well."
"Recall Dorothy Prime mentioned the models are the ones being turned into 'mecha'." She paused. "Oh, 'mechanical' - 'mecha'. It seems this is during the time when the Megadeuses were created."
"But for what reason?" Roger asked, leaning his temple on his fist as his elbow rested on the arm of his desk chair.
The screen flickered back onto the ballroom scene, this time focusing on Timothy Wayneright and a younger Gordon Rosewater in the middle of a fistfight.
'I knew it,' Dorothy moans. 'Daddy and Old Rosewater are at it again.'
'Before eleven,' Alex's voice adds. 'I lost the bet - I owe you fifty. Damn parents, can never take them out.'
'I'm not admitting one of them's my father. I don't have a father, I was made in a lab in a womb with a view. Hey - '
The fight between Wayneright and Rosewater was being interrupted by the figures of Major Roger Smith and a taller young man with a shock of red hair and a strange-looking mustache.
'Norman!' Major Smith calls. 'Grab Rosewater!'
Roger switched from shock to a chuckle. "How many times I wanted to say that."
Norman appeared around the partition of the office. "Did you call for me, Master Roger?"
"No, Norman, but take a look at this. We found this at the Wayneright place."
Norman slipped around the desk to get a better look at the monitor. His one good eye opened quite wide, showing the blue iris.
Dorothy noted his reaction. "This is a video recording human Dorothy had made before The Event."
Norman cleared his throat. "I often wondered what I did before I lost my memories."
Roger chuckled, "You were a bouncer at fancy-dress parties."
The trio watched as Major Smith and a younger Norman pull Rosewater and Wayneright apart, dragging them to opposite sides of the ballroom. Roger startled ... the younger Gordon Rosewater matched the one in the torn photograph inside the 'Metropolis' book exactly.
'I better look after Dad,' Alex says, leaving.
Major Smith brings Tim Wayneright to his daughter. 'I think this belongs to you, Miss Wayneright.'
'He only gave me half of his genetic codes, I don't claim him. Where's Sergeant Burg taking Old Rosewater?'
'Probably to the fountain to dunk him in.' He sat Tim Wayneright in a seat. 'Doc, you need to lay off the liquor, you become a rowdy on that stuff.'
'I'm fine, youngster,' Timothy Wayneright declares. He pulls out his keys. 'But you better keep these for safe keeping ... yeah.'
'Daddy, what were you and Old Rosewater arguing about now?' Dorothy asks.
'The stupid bugger thinks I'm Oppenheimer or somethin'. Wants the Megadei for war.'
"Mega-dee-eye'?" Roger asked.
"Perhaps the plural form. Hush."
'Daddy ... isn't that what you were making them for, anyway?'
'Not really.' He looks up at them. 'Major, hate to ask you this, but can you take Dorothy home?'
'What about you, sir?'
Tim Wayneright waves his hand. 'Don't worry about me, son, I've got work to do when I sober up a bit.'
Dorothy's voice says, 'Oh, heck, Major, let's go out - it's not even midnight yet. I know this great club that has really good jazz ... Oops, forgot I left the camera on.'
The camera went staticky.
"Aarggh!" Roger exclaimed in frustration. "Almost had answers!"
Norman left the room and went back to the kitchen.
Dorothy kissed Roger's cheek. "Calm down, my love. Remember who is recording this. A teenage girl, not a historian."
The scene faded back into Dorothy Prime's bedroom. She twirls around in front of the camera, then lands on the bed. She is wearing a black slip and the stockings.
'Oh, God, this evening was the most wonderful in my life! Major Smith and I went out to the Nightingale Club and we had a great time! I even got up on stage and sang - I was so wrapped up in staring at the Major, I don't know what I sang, really. Geez, he's ... such a gentleman ... I mean, not only holding doors and seating me and stuff, but not taking advantage of me when I practically throw myself on him. Like when I was singing and I went to do my flirting with the guys in the audience ... I made it a point to sit in his lap and run my hands up his chest, and he just smirked at me. Gotta love a guy who can be that cool in that sort of situation. When midnight came, he let me take a sip from his champagne, which was nice of him - although I would have preferred a kiss.' She went to laying on her side. 'So, New Year's Resolution: I am going to kiss Roger Smith before the year is out. I spent all evening talking with him and staring at his face, and I really REALLY want to feel how he kisses. His lips are so beautiful ... ' She giggles and rolls over. 'God, I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight. Too many fantasies running through my head of taking him down to my secret room and doing naughty things to him involving oils and whipped cream.'
Roger looked at his wife, imagining her saying such things, and almost strained a jaw muscle to keep from grinning.
'Well, getting sleepy, anyway. Good night.'
Camera became staticky again.
Dorothy was silent a moment, then asked, "Roger?"
"What did she mean by oils and whipped cream?"
Roger bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. He finally replied, "Not the type of oil you use."
"I didn't think so." She turned to look at him. "So what did she mean by them?"
Roger smirked, then whispered huskily, "I'll teach you later on tonight."
* * *
Angel had been on the run for three days now.
Vera's impatience and Rosewater's double-crossing of the Union had led to a city-wide manhunt for every member of the Union. The only way the list of Union members could have been known was that Alan had betrayed them all to Rosewater. It was the sort of thing the sick, twisted, back-stabbing Gabriel would do.
Angel rubbed her shoulders as she entered the club to dry off. She stood in the entryway and allowed the excess water to drip down her hair and pink coat.
"Hey, Patricia," someone called. "Haven't seen you around for a while."
Angel smiled wanly. "Busy is all, Teena. Can I have a private booth?"
"Sure, sure. You're soaking wet, you better dry off before you sit."
Angel accepted the towel and dried off a bit, discarding her coat at the coat check and then heading into the ladies' room to freshen up.
She stared at her reflection. Stringy blonde hair, tired dark eyes, sallow pale skin. Her black sleeveless dress beginning to slightly reek since she had worn it the past three days.
She could not go back to her apartment since Military Police had seized her belongings and kept watch for her return. Her safety caches were also raided, probably by Vera. Her life in Paradigm City was completely gone.
She had tried to get back into Roger's good graces again, thinking he of all people would have pity enough to give her a safe haven for a few days.
Seducing him was perhaps a bit too much, but she was desperate. After he threw her out, Dorothy had called her quietly back and gave her some money and some advice: 'I never disliked you, Angel, but I could never trust you with my husband or where you stood. If you need someplace to stay, go to Jim McGowen's building. Tell him we sent you. Good luck.'
Angel felt more like a heel than ever. If she was not so desperate, she would have thrown the money back in Dorothy Smith's face.
Damn you, Vera. Damn you, Alan. Damn you, Rosewater.
Double damn you, Dorothy Smith.
I refuse to be pitied by a damn vending-machine.
Angel did not bother to cry. She had cried enough the last few days and there was nothing left in her soul to continue crying anymore.
She finger-combed her hair into place ... God, she wanted a hot shower ... and went back out to the main room where she settled into a booth and ordered a hot coffee. After her coffee arrived, she sat silently and wallowed in self pity.
"May I join you?" a familiar voice asked.
She was about to tell whomever he was to bugger off until she looked up and saw the man's face.
He was the Military Policeman she had seen Roger with a few weeks ago when Alan was about to kill Dorothy. He had given her gun back to her and they had talked a bit.
Angel gasped and started to get up.
"Don't bother," Dastun said wearily, sitting across from her. "I'm not on duty and I'm too tired to play catch-the-terrorist."
Angel relaxed slightly. "The great Colonel associates with terrorists on his off-hours? Wouldn't Paradigm love to hear this."
"Name's Daniel, and I wouldn't be talking, Agent 340."
Angel leaned back, folding her arms. "Touche." She looked up at him. "Why won't you turn me in ... Daniel? You know who I am, what I've done."
Dastun accepted the coffee from a waitress and stared down at the table. Out of uniform, he was no longer the Hard-Ass Colonel but simply a tired man. "I don't know. Perhaps I'm too old to jump when my masters tell me to. Perhaps because this whole thing seems fishy ... Then maybe it's because beautiful women in trouble need a break every now and again."
Angel started, then relaxed, smiling slightly. "Those are probably the kindest unsolicited words I've ever heard."
Dastun picked up his coffee and drank. "Meant in all honesty, Miss ... whatever your name is. I never got your name."
"I don't really have my own name. Angel's just a nickname, and the other names were covers ..." She paused. "Millie," she said softly. "It ... it is my mother's name."
He reached across the table and lay his hand on hers. "Millie's a good name."
She smiled, taking her hand away. "I never expected any Military Police to be in a place like this. Takes a certain type to appreciate such entertainment."
Dastun chuckled, shrugging. "I've always been the type. I need the exercise, anyway."
"I can probably provide that," she snickered.
"You want to start, Daniel?"
Angel smirked. "Pawn to King Four."
"Pawn to Bishop Two."
* * *
We watched several more hours of Dorothy Prime's video-diary that night after we got home from work.
She played the piano with Pero batting at her hands, just as Pero had done with Dorothy; she showed off her prized roses in the atrium of the Wayneright mansion; she detailed some ... interesting ... fantasies involving Major Smith and the stage set of a show called 'Cats'.
She challenged Major Smith to a chess match. He won. She dumped a vaseful of water and flowers on his head.
She brought her camera to the testing of the Archetype. Roger's own experience with that particular Megadeus had been hair-raising ... and Major Smith's piloting proved it was capable of even more ...
Timothy Wayneright asked her to name his last two robots - she named the still-on-the drawing-board Glinda after her favorite character from a series called 'The Oz Books'.
And she named Big O.
Dorothy's camera enters the lab, obviously late at night. Inside the lab are her father, Major Smith, Sergeant Burg, and a blonde woman the Smiths learned was Second Lieutenant Mildred Hathaway - a spitting image of Angel.
'Daddy,' Dorothy announces.
'Yes, pumpkin?' Wayneright replies. 'What are you doing up so late?'
'I finally thought of a name for your last Big.'
Mildred Hathaway looks at Major Smith and smirks. 'Gee, Major, Lolita's going to name your pet mecha.'
'Miss Wayneright - ' Major Smith begins.
'Big Omega,' Dorothy interrupts him. 'It's the last one, so it gets the distinction of the Greek name of "last".'
Wayneright grinned. 'Sugarplum, that'll work.'
'I like it,' Norman comments. He snickers. 'I'll call it "The Big O" for short.'
Mildred slaps the back of his head. 'Behave yourself, youngster.'
'Hey, I was! You know what I would have said if the kid wasn't in the room?'
Mildred steps backward and turns a bright scarlet.
Norman grins. 'Now who has the dirty mind, angel?'
'Don't call me that, punk.'
Dorothy's camera focuses on the model of Big O. 'By the way, Daddy, why did you give it such big pistons?'
Major Smith answers, 'It's to keep the others in line, Miss Wayneright. To hopefully vanquish the enemy and to keep the other Megadei in line, if necessary. That's what the Bigs are for. The pistons are indirect kinetic-inertial weapons, capable of delivering shockwaves through a target without having to penetrate armor or other defenses.'
'Megadei?' she repeats. 'Daddy, you named them "Great Gods"??? I thought Jason was making that up!'
Wayneright grins in the manner of a proud parent. 'My daughter knows her Latin.'
'You taught it to me - Daddy, why did you name them Megadei?'
'I'm not quite sure ... '
Major Smith approaches her and grips her arm. 'Maybe I should explain it to you, Miss Wayneright. Sir?'
'Yes, go ahead. I need to work with the Sergeant on maintenance routines for ... Big Omega.'
Dorothy pulls the camera away to show both of them walking down the hall and through the house. He's still in his black uniform while Dorothy is in sweatpants and tank top.
'Yippee,' she comments sarcastically. 'He's dragging me off to ravish me.'
'Behave, child.' They enter the atrium, Dorothy flicking on one of the overhead lights. 'Okay, you have an interesting question that will take a bit of explaining. I'm going to have to ask you to turn that damn camera off until I'm done. Security reasons.'
Dorothy snorts. 'Major Roger Smith, you are a louse.'
'I get that a lot. Now, do you want to know or do you want to play with that damn camera? I must warn you that once I tell you, you are not to tell a soul - not even your camera - or I'll shoot you dead.' His manner, his voice, his body language makes it clear that he is not speaking metaphorically or for comic exaggeration.
'Okay, okay, I'll turn it off.'
The camera is set on a table and then goes staticky.
Dorothy waited patiently for fifteen minutes while her husband swore in a most energetic and colorful manner. Twice she nudged him toward the center of the room so that his wild gesticulations did not damage the furniture or decor (especially his hourglass collection).
After he was finished, Dorothy said, "I had understood that you cared nothing for memories or the past - that the present and the future were your sole concern. Not to mention your often-voiced contempt of those who are obsessed about lost memories. Why should this lost piece of information upset you?"
Roger huffed and puffed, then said, "Aw, shaddap," and stomped toward the drinks cabinet.
She folded her hands in her lap as she sat in his desk chair. "You sleep in the guest bathtub tonight."
"WHAT??" He held a bottle of scotch in one hand and a tumbler in the other and gazed at his wife. "Why are you making me sleep in the tub?!"
"Because you were over-reacting and told me to 'shaddap'. You are mean. If I had my father, I would be going home to him."
Roger stared at her completely sincere expressionless face, then burst into laughter. He put the scotch and glass down and went back around the desk to her. He knelt before her and held her face with his hands, pressing his nose to hers and chuckling. "Dorable, thank you for putting me back in my place." He drew his arms around her. "It's just a mess with the Dominus memories popping up, then finding this, and just when we think we're going to get answers - right from the source - the curtain pulled away to see the truth - "
"And behind the curtain is a drapery shop," she finished for him.
"Yeah, that's a good description." He pressed his cheek to hers, feeling the warmth from her circulatory system. He was so glad she was using it on a regular basis, as now her flesh was much softer and warmer. "As much as I look to the present and the future, I also refuse to be kept in the dark. If digging up some odd memories from forty years ago is going to give me answers - " He paused, pulling back from her.
"What is it, darling?"
"I'm beginning to sound like Schwarzwald ... " He sat on the floor and leaned his temple against her knee as she stroked his hair. "God, what am I turning into?"
Dorothy smiled. "A curious person." She leaned toward him and kissed his forehead. "But not allowing his bitterness and loneliness to consume him."
Roger raised his face and kissed her while she responded eagerly, which resulted in no more viewing for the night.
* * *
"It's three already," Angel commented later on that night at the chess club.
"So it is," Dastun agreed, folding his arms. He looked around the room, seeing they and the bartender were the only ones left in the place. "Will you be all right?"
She tried to suppress a bitter laugh. "What do you think?"
Dastun rubbed his forehead with his hand, then looked up at her. "Listen, I'm really not supposed to be associating with you to begin with, but ... you can stay at my place - "
Angel stood and slapped him across the face. "WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM??"
Dastun rubbed his jaw, looking up at her. Then he snorted. "You're a paranoid and suspicious person - I was offering you a hot shower and a couch to sleep on, nothing more. What did you think I meant?"
Angel flushed, feeling the blood drain from her face. She sat back down and folded her arms over the table. "Well, aren't I the one with the dirty mind."
Dastun chuckled. "No comment, Millie. I'll even cook you breakfast."
She gazed at him. Finally she asked, "Why? Why are you offering, Daniel? And not asking for anything in return?"
He shrugged. "'Cause I'm that way."
Angel nodded in comprehension. "Oh. You're that way. That's a shame."
"NOT LIKE THAT!" He huffed. "Oh, forget it. Come on, get your coat."
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