"That was a really good play." AndrAIa spoke, holding on to Matrix's arm as they walked through Floating Point Park.
"It was okay."
"Oh come one Matrix! Admit it! You liked it."
"They've gotten better since my birthday."
"Whatever." AndrAIa refused to let negative vibes ruin the night. They had just watched another play by Mainframe's Scrolling Players (is that rite?) Poster's Note: (nope, Mainframe Strolling Players) at Floating Point. AndrAIa now skipped ahead, frolicking. Matrix couldn't help but laugh. He lay on the grass as she skipped all around.
Finally, she collapsed next to him.
"It feels good to finally be home," Matrix commented more to himself and the sky than to AndrAIa.
"I know what you mean." She smelt a flower.
"It's so peaceful right now. No games, viruses, system crashes...nothing. Just peace and quiet." He closed his eyes. He wanted to savour the moment. He was home, with family and friends, everything was right again. He wanted it to stay like that.
But there was still Daemon.
He quickly pushed her out of his mind.
"Come on, I'm starved."
Enzo got up and hauled a reluctant AndrAIa off the ground. They headed towards their apartment for dinner.
"Come on sugah! Show me whatcha got!" Mouse yelled over the constant chatter, vibrant music, and clinging of glasses. Ray and herself were at some club on level 31, dancing.
"Dance with me pretty lady!"
After all the dancing, and drinking, they had gone over to Floating Point for dinner. Hopefully, Ray prayed, the dinner would be already set by the time they got there. If this was their last time together, they were sure to have a good time.
"Are you sure it'll work?" Dot asked questioning riding in Bob's car. "Yes! Well no, but trust me!" Bob worked his charm and opened the passenger door for Dot.
Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease WORK!! Ran through Bob's head as he turned on the car and they left.
"Here, put this on." Bob handed Dot a blindfold.
"What?! Why?" Dot shot Bob a *just-what-do-you-think-you-are-doing- why-do-I-have-to-wear-this-thing-you-better-have-a really-good-reason-for-me-wearing- this* look.
Bob laughed. "Trust me." Dot gave him a *yeah right* look. This made Bob laugh even more. "Just trust me." He got a *I-have-no-choice-so-I'm-trusting-you-so-you-better -not-do-anything-basic-or-I'll-have-you-deleted-and-this-isn't-exactly-giving- you-extra- points-mr.-so-called-romantic-and-remember-that-I-am-TRUSTING-you* look from her. Bob swallowed hard.
"Why am I doing this again?" Dot asked when she had the blindfold on.
"Because you love me and trust me?" Bob asked in a child-like voice.
"Don't flatter yourself guardian," Dot replied teasingly.
"Yes m'am, Ms. Command.com." Bob laughed when Dot crinkled her nose and slumped in her seat.
"So, where exactly are we going?"
Dot gave up decided that she would just have to be patient.
"Wow, Enzo!" AndrAIa gasped at the beautifully set dinner complete with candles and music in their dining room. "Did you do this all by yourself?"
She smiled and cocked an eyebrow.
"I...had some help."
"Yup." Matrix smiled sheepishly.
"I know you too well. We'll have to thank him."
"I think you already did." Enzo grinned.
"HEY!" AndrAIa playfully smacked his arm. "A dare is a dare!"
"Don't go there, Matrix." AndrAIa narrowed her eyes; then they became playful. "You know, Mouse was right when she said that Bob could really--"
"Okay! What is it with you girls and Bob?"
"He just has that *SOMETHING*"
"What something?" Matrix asked and emphasized *something*.
"Matrix, there are just some things you just won't get," AndrAIa said in a shrink type manner (pitifully) and put a 'comforting' hand on his shoulder.
They both laughed.
"Do you like it?"
"Love it!" Matrix, satisfied with her answer, showed her to her seat.
"Whoo!" Mouse exclaimed as they left the club. "So, where are we going now?"
"Well love, I thought we'd get something to eat."
"You're too good ta me Ray."
"I know." Ray smiled and they went off to Floating Point to have a very nice dinner in the park with a little violin guy to serenade Mouse.
"Are we there yet?" Dot asked from behind the blindfold.
"Just about." Bob parked his car and rushed to the other side to help Dot out.
"Can I take this off now?" Dot was already starting to pull the blindfold off without an answer.
"NO!" Bob exclaimed and replaced the blindfold. Dot pouted. He moved behind her, wrapping an arm around her waist and let Dot use his other arm for balance. "Okay, now walk," he whispered into her ear. Dot was painfully aware of his closeness and his breath made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.
They staggered along, until Bob stopped Dot and released his hold on her.
"Okay...now," he said gently.
Dot pulled off the blindfold gratefully, and gasped. Her fingers went to her mouth as she stared blankly at the scene. Bob had brought her to an old abandoned courtyard. Trees and plants grew wild all over the enclosed square and there was a flowing fountain in the middle. There were lights strung all over the trees and plants and candles lit everywhere. In front of the fountain, dinner and more candles were spread over a blanket. Wine glasses were filled and glittered from the lights. Everything seemed to glow in the darkness of the night.
Bob stirred uneasily in all the silence. He fidgeted with his feet and ran a hand through his hair. He was looking at Dot for some sort of reaction, a sign, but all he found was a blank stare. He wasn't sure what she was thinking, if she liked it or if she didn't.
Dot blinked compulsively. She looked from Bob to the courtyard and back again. She breathed deeply, not able to process what she was feeling.
"Dot?" Bob asked timidly as he approached her, his voice forced time back into groove and he put his hands over hers and moved them from her face. She blinked hard, shaking her head, now trying to get focused. "Uh, what are you thinking?...I mean... is it okay?"
Dot stared in disbelief at the question. Her gazed turned to the blue face and glowing eyes. His eyebrows were raised and he was biting his lip.
She smiled. "Of course it's okay!" she said laughingly and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"I'm so glad you're back." Bob's eyes became a shiny brown as he looked down at his love, alive and in his arms. "I don't know how I would've been able to be strong like you. I kept thinking that you wouldn't want me to give up, but it was so hard... and when I saw you, pale and lifeless...I didn't know...I couldn't help you..." Bob swallowed hard. "I couldn't protect you...You trusted me and I didn't know... I didn't know how... I let you go..."
Dot reached up and held Bob's face. "Bob, but you did help me. You brought me back. You are my guardian." Bob smiled meekly at the comment but didn't meet her gaze. "I don't expect you to know everything. I don't expect you to always take care of me. Sometimes things just happen that both of us can't control no matter how hard we want to. But I do trust you. I believe in your sincerity, your compassion, your constant need to 'mend and defend'." She added that last part playfully. Then Dot's tone got more serious. "I believe your warmth and love... I believe in you and I have faith in you. Don't you ever forget that!" she half-heartedly poked at him. "Now guardian, join me for dinner?"
"Love to." Bob smiled escorted her to her seat.
I wonder what Bob's doing right now... Trixie had finished helping Phong and was now sitting on the P.O's steps, looking over the system as the day cycle ended and the night cycle began. He's probably having a great time, she thought grimly. He's enjoying a night off, one that he deserves. One that could be his last. I'm- I'm glad he's enjoying himself, Trixie concluded. I just wish that he were with me instead of Dot! Ahhh!!! Why did I let him go? She pouted. Out of all the systems in the Net why did he have to come here?
*Sigh* It is a pretty system, with nice citizens.. quiet yet busy, calming and relaxing. Ahh!! No wonder he likes it here so much. But there is that other reason for him staying... Dot. Who would have guessed that Guardian 452, Bob, of the supercomputer, who had focused so much on being a guardian that he was practically unaware of the female species and himself going any where beyond friendship (until me), would find love in this place, Mainframe. He has found it in a simple data sprite, owner of a restaurant, Command.com, Dot. She has become his partner, best friend, and then some.
Trixie felt tears welling up inside her as he rested her head and arms on her knees.
Why couldn't that data sprite have been me? I was the one who showed him something more than friendship! Without me, he's still be as clueless as he was when I first met him! But she knew that that couldn't happen. She had her time with him, and now he was gone. But that didn't stop her from needing his love. It's not like I hate Dot for loving him. No...I don't... it's not that at all. I-I just want to be the one Bob loves! Out of all the things that has happened to me, why can't I just have him? Trixie let her tears run down her face and fall as she thought reflectively. But still, I'm glad he's happy, at least he found someone. After all, I am getting what I came for... Bob's help. I just... miss him... a lot...
"Uh huh.... open." Dot was patiently nodding in agreement to something Bob was rambling on about. Stuttering and cracking his voice to cover up the fact the he was... in uncomfortable circumstances. Bob stopped talking, and opened his mouth as Dot spoon fed him. He chewed it thoughtfully, looking at her stomach rise and fall gracefully as if he could see through her dress. Suddenly, he became aware that he was staring. He cleared his throat and glanced away quickly. Dot smiled at him being uncomfortable. So the mighty Guardian doesn't know everything after all.
"So... go on," Dot broke the silence.
"Oh, uh right." Bob's position was kind of making it difficult to read, but nonetheless, he wasn't complaining. He was lying on Dot's stomach, with an elbow on each side, and his chin resting on her like a pillow. He was so close to her, a closeness that he had craved for a long time; a closeness that had grown during his time in the web, something he was fighting to control... that was the reason why he couldn't help staring. Bob reopened the window that had pages of poems and sonnets and continued his sweet readings.
"So... what do you think about Trixie?" AndrAIa asked out of the blue.
"Dunno," Marix replied.
"C'mon, tell me."
Matrix hesitated. "I don't trust her."
"I see," was the reply.
"I just think... How do we know she's telling the truth about Daemon? I mean, how can we trust her after what she did?"
"The question is... how can we not?"
Matrix turned to AndrAIa with a confused look upon his dim face. She explained.
"How can we risk not trusting her with all that at risk? The entire net, the guardians...you."
Matrix gripped her hand and squeezed it with reassurance. "Don't worry."
"So, this could really be it," AndrAIa said flatly as Matrix and herself walked along the quiet streets of Mainframe.
"Our very last night..."
AndrAIa let out an exasperated sigh.
"AndrAIa." Matrix stopped under a streetlight. She turned to him, confused at the seriousness of his voice.
"What is it?"
"I was wondering..." Matrix fumbled around with something in his pocket.
"Matrix spit it out!"
"Will... you tell me how you get your nails to grow back so fast?" Matrix blurted. AndrAIa's face fell. "What?!?"
"I mean...uh, will you marry me?" Matrix pulled out a little box that had a ring in it.
AndrAIa was at a loss for words. She stared unbelievingly at the ring. "Matrix..." she whispered.
"Before you answer, I just thought that since, you know, this is probably the last time I'm gonna be able to ask you... and you don't have to feel pressured into saying yes just because this is all last nano, and you're probably gonna get through this thing and so we don't have to rush into marriage, even though I might not live through this, and so you could marry someone else, but I could get really mad, but then if you marry someone else that would probably mean I was deleted... oh man, what I mean to say is... I don't want you to think this is your last chance to get married and rush into things. I'll be fine with whatever you say."
AndrAIa was in wide eyed shock. Was this the little fast talking Enzo she knew as a child? A huge grin spread across her face. "Enzo calm down! My answer is yes!"
"What? Are you sure?"
AndrAIa giggled. "Of course I'm sure!! I've been waiting for you to be sure!"
Matrix slipped the ring onto her finger, picked up his bride to be and swung her around joyfully.
"It's amazing what can happen in Mainframe," AndrAIa said once she was put down and they were on their way home.
"I mean everything here... it seems...different than other systems."
"I still don't get it."
"I dunno. It's just this place. There's just something about it. No matter what happens, things always turn out for the better."
AndrAIa smacked her head. "Nevermind."
You make me feel things
something like no other
I'm not sure how to describe it,
but I don't wanna let go.
Do you remember the day we met?
You, all business
Me, all fun and games?
That's when I felt it.
I sensed it at your presence,
felt it course through my systems
Then you smiled your gorgeous smile,
and blinked your vibrant eyes
And when we touched, I knew.
I knew we would be friends,
partners, maybe something more.
But then you confused me
Taunting me and playing with my mind,
making me go random
But I couldn't keep myself away from you.
We got to know each other better,
and the feeling in me grew.
I prayed and hoped all those restless nights,
that you felt it too.
Then something came along and tore me from you
and all those long days away
I dreamt of me and you.
Now I'm back,
We had our moment,
releasing all we kept hidden.
You'll never know what you've done for me,
You'll never know what you do to me.
But from that first day, I felt it and knew.
I knew we'd be friends,
I knew we'd be partners,
I knew we'd be something more,
From that first nano you came into my life I knew.
Bob dared to take a glance at Dot before he quickly moved on. He started reading again but was interrupted by Dot.
"Bob..." Dot spoke softly. He could see the serious realization on her face.
Bob reluctantly answered. "Yeah..." He waited fearing what she was going to say.
Dot pressed her lips together as she chose her words. "Whose...that by?"
Bob winced. "Some guy."
"Did you... write that?"
"Bob..." Dot wanted the truth.
Bob looked around nervously. "Me?" He did the 'eyebrow thing' and his voice cracked. Bob cleared his throat. "Heh, heh...um, no. I couldn't have done it. By golly (golly??J) I'm a guardian, not a writer!" Bob threw out a bunch of lame excuses and reasons.
There was silence. Bob avoided eye contact, Dot could see right through his super cute fake smile. She smiled slightly.
"So... moving on." Bob reopened the vid window and found his place. He opened his mouth to speak when suddenly Dot leaned forward and knocked the window out of his hand. She pulled him towards her and kissed him hard, all in one swift motion.
AndrAIa and Matrix were almost home when something lurking in the shadows slowly crept behind the laughing couple and attacked.
Mouse and Ray had finished eating when they heard a rustling in the trees behind them. Without notice, something jumped out and landed on the table.
Bob thought he heard something, but had trouble concentrating with Dot still clinging onto him. He excused the sound, thinking it was the fountain. But then, he heard it again, much louder. He hesitantly pulled away from Dot just as something reached out and grabbed him.
To be continued...