“It'll be okay KOS-MOS, you look wonderful!” the tiny girl squeaked. I looked at myself in the mirror and frowned slightly to express my distaste, I was beginning to doubt the Realian's ability to pick out clothing.
“Do you think Shion will approve?” I asked. The little girl immediately proceeded to emit a long series of giggles. “If my appearance is so humorous then the probability is high that Shion will not approve, please select something else.” This only brought further laughter from the girl. I sighed and began feeling behind me for the zipper so I could remove the outfit.
“You really care about Shion, don't you KOS-MOS?” she said suddenly, causing me to pause a moment before responding.
“Shion is my creator and my caretaker, as well as the only person under my highest priority of protection. She is...”
“I didn't mean it like that and you know it, KOS-MOS! You can't trick me so easily, I'm a 100-Series, remember? Come on, I'm not gonna tell anybody, I just wanna know.”
“I do not understand,” I said quietly, she looked as if she wanted to say something but stopped, realizing I was hiding nothing. “Something has awakened within my processor, a consciousness that is capable beyond what my programming should allow. Forty-eight hours and twenty-three minutes ago, this new consciousness altered the majority of my systems, allowing me to care for Shion outside of my directives.”
“Do you love her?”
“Is everything okay in there girls?” Shion's voice cut in, she sounded very happy and excited.
“Everything is fine Shion, I am coming out now,” I said, stepping toward the curtain.
“KOS-MOS I...” she began.
“When I know for myself, I will tell you,” I said quietly before stepping out of the curtains.
“KOS-MOS!” Shion exclaimed, eyes wide, one hand covering her mouth in surprise. “You look...” she appeared to be unable to speak.
“See, I told you she'd...” MOMO began.
“Hilarious!” Shion blurted out, falling to the ground and rolling back and forth while laughing hysterically. I could feel my right eyebrow twitch slightly as my facial temperature increased a full degree as I turned to return to the dressing area. I had suspected the Realian girl's choices were somehow incorrect and Shion's laughter had confirmed it. From behind me came the recognizable hum, click, and flash of a photograph being taken which served to heighten the level of my embarrassment.
“Oh my gosh, I just love the way the skirt poofs out at the butt!” Shion exclaimed in the form of a giddy squeal. Hearing how happy she was caused me to shift my tactics slightly, if Shion was pleased, I felt I could handle the embarrassment of the situation.
“Shion, I...” I began as I turned to face her, only to be met by another flash of the camera.
“Oh and the way the short jacket and corset accentuate the chest. So cute!” I noticed the twitch in my right eyebrow had returned, and at a higher frequency. I decided to implement Plan B.
“Shion, by advancing two meters closer you would be able to increase picture quality thirteen percent,” I said, trying to sound as monotone as possible in light of my new emotions.
“Oh, really?!” she said excitedly, advancing three steps forward and raising the device. “Strike a cute pose, KOS-MOS, this'll be great shot for a scrapbook!”
“What position would you prefer to take pictures of me in, Shion?” I asked. I noted that my answer had caused her to blush and filed the data away for further inspection.
“Umm, let's see...” she said, tilting her head and tapping at her chin in a manner that caused an unusual reaction in my body. I filed it away for further inspection as well.
“Blow Shion a kiss!” MOMO suggested with a large amount of enthusiasm. I ran the suggestion through several simulations but none of them seemed logical.
“I do not understand that action.”
“Here, it's like this,” Shion said before pressing her lips to the fingertips of her right hand before flattening it out and blowing in my general direction. Both Shion's action, and the thought of performing the action myself caused my facial temperature to increase yet again. I was beginning to suspect that Plan B was an inefficient method to accomplish my goals.
“I will try for you, Shion,” I said simply before I slowly set about to repeat the process. As I brought my fingers to my lips I felt an odd connection to a previous event and quickly did a scan of my memory banks. By the time I had leveled out my palm and blown I was witnessing the recording from my earlier interaction with Shion. I found it unusual that kissing my fingers in this manner could create a feeling similar to the emotions I felt when I had accidentally kissed Shion.
“Shion, you forgot to take the picture!” I looked from my fingers to Shion and noticed that she was staring at me, the camera held in her right hand at her side. She looked to be deep in thought, and if my sensors were correct, slightly fearful. She suddenly shook her head and her facial expression returned to the previous one.
“Oh, sorry, how clumsy of me! Can you do it again KOS-MOS?” I nodded and repeated the action, this time she was ready and took the picture accordingly. I had to resist the urge to smile, it was time to implement Plan B.
“Shion, the flash function of your recording device has a slight malfunction that will reduce photo quality six percent. If you would like, I could fix it for you in exactly twenty-one seconds,” I said, again using a monotone voice, and held out my hand to receive the camera.
“Really? Thank you KOS-MOS,” she said with a wide smile as she removed the secure strap from her wrist and stepped closer to hand it to me. I could not prevent the smile from forming at the success of my plan. At the last moment, however, she hesitated and appeared to be studying my face. She pulled the camera back to her chest and looked at me inquisitorially. “Wait a second here, you're just going to smash it, aren't you?!”
“Affirmative,” I admitted in defeat, knowing with absolute certainty that I was unable to deceive her directly.
“Oh!” she said indignantly, shifting the camera back into it's sub-space pocket. “You're such a brat! Just for that little attempt KOS-MOS,” a very large smile spread across her face, “you're going to buy me lunch!”
“It that would please you, Shion, but on one condition.”
“O-Oh? What is it?” My response had clearly not been what she was expecting. I had decided to cut my losses and retreat.
“Allow me to change into my standard clothing.”
Our first date...
The look on the panicky teenagers face when KOS-MOS threatened to commandeer the food stand was priceless. It was sweet in a way that she was willing to go so far to fulfill a promise. I did, however, make a note to avoid getting her to promise anything too extravagant, we didn't need another war.
“My apologies Shion, I will attempt to locate a source of income so that I do not create a scene and embarrass you next time.” I was just starting to ponder the words 'next time' when MOMO's giggle interrupted.
“I think it's adorable that you'd be willing to go so far just to be able to go on a date with Shion!” I promptly choked on my drink.
“Date?” I managed to rasp through the sputtering coughs.
“I do not understand,” KOS-MOS said from beside me as her hand began patting me on the back in a surprisingly gentle manner.
“It's..” the tiny girl began but I cut her off with a stern look as my wheezing finally ceased.
“How are you liking your drink KOS-MOS?” I asked quickly in hopes she would let it go.
“It is... interesting,” she said thoughtfully, taking another sip.
“I'm still surprised,” the little Realian chirped, “I've never heard of an android that could eat before.” I smiled.
“It's not like she digests it all the way or anything, it just gets vaporized after it goes down. We felt it would be a pleasant way for her to interact with people.”
“We?” MOMO asked with an adorable head tilt. I noticed KOS-MOS had put her drink down and was looking at me.
“KOS-MOS's co-creator, her name was Ma.. Dr. Magdalene. She actually did all the initial work on the KP-X project and I came along later. She was an amazing woman...” I began to drift off in the flood of memories and had to shake my head to stay focused. “She was also the model for KOS-MOS's body, you know.”
“Wow,” the little girl exclaimed with wide eyes, “there was a human as pretty as KOS-MOS?!” I nodded, noticing the statement had caused KOS-MOS to blush out of the corner of my eye.
“I am grateful for your and Dr. Magdalene's efforts,” she said, taking another sip from her drink, a brief look of wonderment flashing across her face.
“You'd better be!” I said with a giggle, “it took three weeks just to program your taste buds!”
Simple conversation set in around the table, mostly MOMO grilling me for details about Mary. I noticed that the little Realian girl was extremely good at picking up subtle hints and before too long I had to give her another silencing glare to keep her from blurting out that we were lovers. Eventually I would tell KOS-MOS about all the feelings she stirred within me, but now simply wasn't the time.
“Shion, what exactly is a date?”
“Damn it!” I hissed under my breath. I noticed KOS-MOS had heard my outburst but did not comment.
“It's when two people who care for, or love, each other as more than friends go out of their way to spend time with each other,” MOMO chirped happily. I really hated the little Realian girl so much right then. I turned to KOS-MOS and smiled sheepishly.
“I understand,” she said simply, then smiled and went back to sipping her drink. I certainly had been expecting more of a reaction than that.
'Does this mean she approves of the idea?' I thought to myself, pondering all the possible implications.
“Shion, are you finished with your meal?” KOS-MOS asked so suddenly that I almost jumped out of me seat. “Are you okay, Shion?”
“Oh, yeah, I'm fine, you just surprised me is all. Yes, I'm finished,” KOS-MOS went to collect my tray but I put my hands on hers. “You don't need to do that KOS-MOS, I can get it.”
“I do not feel the need to do it, Shion, I simply want to do it for you.” There was such a compassionate tone in her voice that I let go of her hands and allowed her to collect the tray.
I sighed and looked down at the tabletop, my mind awash with confusing emotions. MOMO must have noticed my discomfort and nudged me under the table. She mouthed the word 'sorry' and made a zipping motion across her lips, indicating that she wouldn't say any more pushy things. I smiled gratefully, just as KOS-MOS returned.
“KOS-MOS! What happened?” I shouted, she looked to be carrying the majority of a combo meal on her clothes.
“A young woman lost her footing, I calculated a thirty-four percent chance that she would sustain injury if I had evaded her.”
“Well that was nice of you! But not so nice for your clothes, you're a mess!” I said, breaking into a fit of giggles. She looked down at herself for a moment and looked to be considering something.
“My external appearance is down forty percent, Shion, I need to be cleaned.” My giggles promptly ceased, and I found it difficult to swallow over the lump in my throat.
I found it odd at first, that I could be grateful for having been spattered with various kinds of food. My probability calculator could tell me nothing about the coming situation, but I had a feeling that something very important was about to happen.
“Are you finished with your shopping, Shion?” I asked, noting that I was already carrying over a dozen bags of varied clothing and appearance altering apparel.
“Aww, I think someone's just grumpy that they offered to carry our bags,” Shion commented to MOMO, the little Realian turned and grinned.
“She won't be grumpy for long after she sees some of the things you bought her,” she said and followed the words with a low whistle, “Shion... you naughty woman!” I frowned at Shion's coy expression. They had asked me to wait outside of several stores so they could purchase some items that were to remain a surprise. I found myself nearly glaring down at several of the bags I was holding, the sensation of curiosity was bothering me more than I had predicted it would.
“Yeah, we're finished shopping KOS-MOS,” there was a noticeable drop in her enthusiasm, “let's go get you cleaned up.”
“Are you okay, Shion?” She looked at me, slightly surprised at first, but settled into a slight smile.
“I'm fine, don't worry about me KOS-MOS.” I didn't even need to analyze her vocal patterns to know she was lying. I decided to spare her feelings and not press the issue, I did after all have a lot of thinking of my own to do.
During our return to the Durandal I had noticed something that was worth documenting. Two women were sitting at a secluded table, one with lavender colored hair and the other blonde, facial recognition was made impossible from the angle I viewed them from. From my perspective I was, however, able to see that the blonde had her hand in the other's lap and was stroking the inside of the other woman's thigh. Something told me this information would soon become valuable so I made no move to bring the two women to Shion or MOMO's attention.
“No I don't want a mochachino, ya moron! Give me a cup of coffee, normal coffee, black!” The sound of Captain Matthews arguing with the hallway beverage dispenser welcomed us as we arrived on the ship. Noticing us, his scowl softened only slightly. “You girls enjoyed your shopping I see,” he said, pointing at the numerous bags I was carrying.
“It was an interesting experience, but not at all unpleasant,” I commented, earning me a surprised look from the man. It was probable that he had not expected me to be the one to respond.
“Not at all unpleasant, eh? Well what do you call that mess?” he asked, pointing out the food particles that were still attached to my clothing.
“The accident at the food court was unrelated to the shopping and thus did not effect my enjoyment of it.”
“Well... good then. Just clean yourself up, I don't you mucking up my ship with any of that. And for god's sake don't use up all the hot water again! I swear every time you women come on board it means icy showers for the rest of us! And you!” he pointed at MOMO causing her to squeak in surprise, “see if you can find out what's wrong with this damn drink dispenser, the moron never gives me what I want!”
“It's only because you're so mean to it all the time,” MOMO said, obviously insulted by the man's tone.
“Of all the stupid...” he started as MOMO walked over to the machine.
“One apple juice, please,” she asked the machine using her sweetest tone.
“One apple juice,” the machine's vocal system replied, it hummed for a moment, then opened up and extended a cup of juice to the girl.
“Thank you!” MOMO said, taking the cup from the machine and drinking it in an overly exaggerated fashion. It was obvious from her demeanor that she was teasing Captain Matthews. “See?”
“Come on KOS-MOS, let's go get you cleaned up,” Shion said from beside me. I nodded and walked with her down the hall, still listening to the interactions behind us.
“Oh is that how it works?” He cleared his throat. “One coffee, please.”
“One mochachino,” the machine replied, it's monotone voice seemed to have taken up a hint of humor.
“Ya moron!” was the last thing I heard before the door to the crew area closed behind us.
I noticed an immediate change now that Shion and I were alone. An unknown anomaly had changed the feelings brought about by our interactions but I could not determine the cause. Unable to think of a way to start a conversation, we made our way to Shion's quarters in an oppressing silence.
“You can just set them over there by the closet,” she said quietly from the doorway. I deposited the bags but made no move to leave the room. I decided that discussing the situation would be the most efficient course of action to take.
“Did you enjoy our date, Shion?”
“When two people who care for, or love, each other as more than friends go out of their way to spend time with each other. Was MOMO incorrect in her assessment?” I asked. Shion walked into the room, sealing it shut behind her. She took my hands in hers and looked up into my eyes.
“KOS-MOS... do you...” I shook my head.
“I do not yet understand enough to accurately express what it is that I am feeling. However, I can say with one-hundred percent certainty that I care for you very much Shion. I would protect you even if I had not reprogrammed it as one of my Primary Directives.”
“Oh KOS-MOS,” she whispered, leaning against me and wrapping her arms around my waist. “I wish I could say something that sweet to you... but my feelings are so complicated. You look so much like her... but it feels so different.”
“You and doctor Magdalene shared an intimate relationship, correct?” She nodded against my shoulder. “Does my appearance upset you?” She shook her head.
“It's just confusing is all. I know you're not Mary... but it goes further than that. You're not just an android KOS-MOS, I don't know what it is, but there's something special about you. I'm scared, scared of these feelings I have for you growing only to lose you like I lost her...”
“Would you prefer it if we... we didn't...” A pain that was not a part of my physical structure prevented me from speaking the words. She pulled away and looked up into my eyes, she was crying.
“No KOS-MOS, that wouldn't be fair to either of us. These feelings you and I have are there for a reason and it would just be wrong to ignore them. We'll just... take it a little slow, okay?”
“If that would make you happy Shion,” I said quietly, my voice thick with pent up emotions. I reached up to wipe away her tears, noticing that during the time she had held me some of the food particles had transferred onto her. I giggled, surprising Shion and myself with the action before saying, “Shion, your external appearance is down thirty percent, you need to be cleaned...”