“Coffee, thank yah very much,” MJ told her politely with a smile. She did not let go of Tamos’s hand. “An’ Tamos’ll have a coffee too.”
It was a running joke, that: she felt wierd eating in front of him when he did not, in fact, eat, so she ordered him something for show and then sometimes ate it later. It also forced the waitress to acknowledge him as a person. Toasters did not order coffee, machines did not order coffee, people ordered coffee.
The waitress looked uncertian but nodded, slowly, and left.
Under the table, she squeezed his hand. It was hard but warm in hers.
“…So,” she said, suddenly shy. “I- I’m sorry fer, uh, fer runnin’ out on yah. Back at th’ bar. I never expected- that.” Understatement of the year. “But…”
She looked up at him now with her sky blue eyes, brushed a curl out of her face. In that moment, MJ, usually so strong, was vulnerable to him.
”..Doesn’t mean it weren’t welcome. Or untrue. I- I never realized it. Dunno why. Mebbe s’cause yer a geth an’ I ain’t, an’ yer still mah best friend, an’ any number of reasons.” She shrugged. “Don’t matter none. I think… I’ve loved yah fer a while. Just never realized it.”
Taking his hand in both of hers, now, she spoke honestly.
“An’- An’- I just wanted yah t’ know that, ‘fore we start talkin’ bout anythin’, that I fully intend t’ stick t’ yah like a burr t’ a wool coat. I’m… a bit like a wild horse. I ain’t easy t’ catch, but yah got me. Willingly.” Here, that grin of hers, lighting up her face. “Hoof, horse an’ all. So yah know, I’m in this fer… ever. S’long as ever is. Yer special an’ important in ways I quite frankly can’t describe. Shaws don’t quit nothin’. So. Uh. Yeah.”
She rubbed her head, shy agian, suddenly, her heart flipping in her chest, and risked a glance at his optic.
Tamos lacked the expressiveness for all it was feeling now. It processed her words as quickly as it could, lagging only a tiny fraction of a second behind her before catching onto her meaning—and it loved that about her. It loved the odd turns of phrase she used, the way she kept all 513 of its processes’ rapt attention as it navigated the sweet lilt of her accent and strange idioms.
It could feel its mind growing, learning and adapting every time they spoke—when they first met it stumbled over everything, like odd references to leather-making. Now it only blinked at her comparison to a wild horse before catching on and appreciating the analogy.
Getting the idioms she used, however, did not mean it knew how to reply to what she was saying overall. It flailed internally for a moment, squeezing her hand between its own, then nodded slowly.
“Forever is… a long time, for geth. We are virtually immortal, so loving you literally forever is actually feasible. Even if something were to happen to my platform and programs, something of an… echo of my feelings for you would live on in the Consensus without me.” It lowered its head a bit, optic twitching as it scanned her, the booth, the table—everything, while it struggled to pull its thoughts together. “I… I mean to say, I feel the same way.
“Because my… my love for you is woven into my sub-processes—it is… a basic tenant of my existence, as natural and immovable as the need to network, maintain platform integrity, or facilitate unit cohesion.” It lifted its flaps in a soft grin, aware that might sound a little odd to her and thinking of how to rephrase. “It is like… instinct. An… an organic might say, ‘I breathe, I eat, and I love you,’ as if citing them as the three things necessary to live. I need not breathe or eat, but… I do love you, and that fact is necessary to ensure my continued existence. Without it, my programs would unravel and lose cohesion. I would, essentially… die.
“So I do not intend to allow it to go anywhere.”
It inclined its head a small bit, confident in its words for once. They had both expressed their intentions, their seriousness and commitments, and found them to be matching. Tamos took comfort in this.
Still, a small anxiety remained—she had said she was making this clear before they ‘started talking about anything’, so this was not the topic she wished to discuss. Tamos couldn’t imagine what else there was to say, and even if, now, it wasn’t quite so anxious that its ignorance could so easily ruin this, the uncertainty was still uncomfortable by itself.
The waitress interrupted its thoughts, then, bringing a coffee for each of them. Her smile was strained and uncertain as she placed some optional sugars and creams down with the mugs, but she wisely said nothing and just glanced between them. Her gaze lingered a moment on their clasped hands before she gulped and nodded. “Can I get you anything else?”
Tamos blinked at her, then shook its head. With some relief, she focused her gaze on Mary-Jane. “Ma’am?”
His words made her heart leap. He was so special- so incredible. She couldn’t believe her luck that he was hers, and vice versa. He loved, literally, forever. How many men, human or otherwise, could say the same?
The waitress returned as she opened her mouth to speak to him. Quickly, she changed gears. “Nope,” MJ said with a smile. The waitress moved off, thankfully, and she returned her attention to her boyfriend.
“That- Tamos. Darlin’. That might be th’ most romantic thing I’ve ever heard anyone say,” she admitted, “specially t’ me. I think I’d die without yah too- though I’m in no hurry t’ test th’ fact,” MJ added with a sly grin. Her hands in his traced his joints absently.
“Th’ reason I wanted t’ talk is- well, I was wonderin’… How d’ yah wanna play this? I mean, I don’t give two shits as t’ who knows. They can kiss my ass. But with th’ war an’ all, it might cause a ruckus- an’ people are panicky, stupid animals when they’re scared. I don’t… I just don’t want nothin’ t’ happen t’ yah, or th’ geth, or have this reflect badly on yah. I know the prejudice yah face ev’ry day. Don’t wanna make it no worse’n it is.”
Face pensive, she paused a moment before continuing.
“Might be worth a shot t’ just like… play it soft-like. Don’t hide nothin’- cause that implies what we doin’ is wrong, an’ it ain’t,” MJ added stubbornly, with a flash of her eyes. “But like… Don’t go ‘round advertisin’ neither. …Am I makin’ sense? Has this kinda thing ever happened before- a geth an’ a human or somethin’?”