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Central By Night
Safi and Chris
DC-TV-1

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#1
It hadn't been a good day.

He'd been plagued by the nagging feeling that he'd been..harsh with the tiny bouncing man. He'd been...less than happy leaving Safi’s office and it had...bugged him.


By nature he was a friendly guy, just he'd been rubbed very wrong by the little guy. And the continued bastardization of his name hadn't helped.

“Evening Eric.” Safi smiled genially at the switched night shift front desk guard, striking up a conversation with the burly man. Eric had an encyclopedic knowledge of the architecture of the city. And while he didn't have an inherent interest it could come in handy and hell it was engaging enough to keep him chatting while he waited for the guy to show.

“Looks like my ride is here. Have a great night.” He winked at the muscular blonde shifting languidly to meet the fussy little man exiting the turnstile.

“So you owe me a drink.” He opened with, hands tucked into his pants pockets, a half smirk curling around the matchstick clamped between his teeth.
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DC-DCTVU-1

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#2
Camila Espinosa was the actual epitome of the word ‘spoiled brat’. And that… That was who had monopolized his day. Some days, he wondered why, exactly this was his life.

Mondays were wretched, wretched days. The absolute worst. They were, by far and away, the worst day of the week. Tomorrow would be Tuesday, he told himself, and that was his best day, over the weekend, over the nightmare of Monday, with the rest of the week to skate downhill. He just needed to get through this week, and then… That dreadful party on Saturday, and then he would be free of Camila Espinosa and, he could hope and pray, the harpy that was her mother.

There was no bounce to his gait. Even when he’d left Safi’s office, he might have been dragging, but there’d still been energy in him. Right now, he just wanted to drag his ass to the train station, get himself home, drink something far more stiff than usual and go to sleep. Maybe tomorrow he could just forget about the horror of today and start fresh.

George smiled widely at the small man, ”See you tomorrow, Chris!” Christian, for his part, didn’t even look up, ”Yeah, see you tomorrow, G...eorge.” The large man blinked, but nodded, and Tammy was up next, ”Get some rest, Chris.” Christian sighed, ”Good night, Tamsin.” The look that his two fellow employees gave each other was missed by Chris as he tried to slip past Safi unnoticed.

He really didn’t need more from the bodyguard today. He felt bad enough, didn’t he? Hadn’t he paid his dues today? Really… Camila all day long. Seriously, those were some massive, massive dues.

”So you owe me a drink.”

Christian stilled at the sound of the voice. Because it was so not one of the voices he really wanted to hear right now. Hell, maybe even ever again. Camila, and Safi. Voices he really didn’t want to hear. He was almost out of the office, damn it, he was almost free from work, he didn’t want to stay at work, he just… Home. Home, and Jonah’s annoying beeping and fussing over how much dirt Chris brought into the apartment, and a very nice bottle of scotch that Chris only drank from when he was having the worst of days.

Today totally ranked in the ‘worst’ category when it came to days.

He didn’t look up, didn’t turn to see Safi, ”It's Monday...” He didn’t argue the whole ‘owe’ part because he’d learned a long time ago that this was an argument he always lost.
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#3
The whine in his voice kinda made him want to grin. It would however ruin his image and heaven forbid he destroy someone's cherished mental image of him.

“All the more reason to kick up with a drink and a comfy chair.” He agreed matching his longer stride to the shorter man's gait.

“You’re in Kendel too right?.” He began, naming the section of the city, “what about you? Figure might share a Uber.”
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#4
Why the hell was the guy who probably hated him the most in the entire building trying to make him go out for a damn drink?!

Was this further punishment?? Was this because he’d given him a nickname?? Fuuuuuck. Christian’s head tipped back, eyes closed as he grimaced at the ceiling for a long moment, ”Of which I have both. At home.” Because seriously…

The thug from Gotham had been nicer than Safi Wassem. At least he’d gotten in his punches and hadn’t followed Chris home to give him more!

When Safi mentioned his neighborhood, Christian’s head snapped down and around to look at the other man, surprise registering on his features before he blinked, ”Yes… Which you apparently know because you’re a creepy half cyborg.” Christian shifted, ”An Uber? Train pass is cheaper, and the next train is in…” Christian frowned at his watch and groaned, ”Fine.” Because apparently he was made of money now. ”What the hell. Uber and a drink, and then I can go home and pretend like today never happened. Just a horrible nightmare.”
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#5
“Well if you wanted to invite me home all you had to do was ask.” He quipped a tiny maybe flirty smirk curling at his lips. Look it was after work, he could relax some. And he'll he felt bad for rubbing the bouncy man's nose in his racism. When he clearly hadn't understood that he HAD been being so.

“So your place. Ballsy. I usually like a hours warning just to pick up before I invite a guy over.” He continued opening the door for the smaller man. This time Safi was going to dazzle him with babble. See if he liked it.

“It's not that bad shared.” The tiny flash of his teeth was sharkish, “hell tell you what I'll treat since you're providing the drinks.” He clicked over his phone summoning the ride.
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#6
Invite him home? Confusion twisted Christian’s features. God, he was tired… But he really didn’t remember inviting Safi to his home. ”I didn’t…” All he had to do was ask? While at work, Christian was very well put together. He was disciplined and while he was bouncy and cheerful, it was a careful bounce and cheer. Right now, however? Christian flushed darkly, his ears burning, even.

”I never said…” he reached up to hold his face in his free hand. This… This was not happening to him. Monday was supposed to be over. He was supposed to be able to go home, drink far too much, and then curl up in bed and try to pretend that Monday hadn’t happened. Instead, he was blushing like a schoolboy. Oh yeah, what a terrific Monday. Just… Terrific.

He hated Mondays.

Stalking through the door, Chris sighed, ”Whatever, Wassem.” Pick your battles, Verglas. ”Just… Whatever.” He went quiet while they waited for the car to arrive, and then climbed into the vehicle with a sigh.
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#7
Plan ‘dazzle him with babble’ seemed to be working. That or he was exhausted enough to just agree to anything to make the day end faster.

The guy twigged his protective instincts what could he say?

And damn he was cute when he was flustered.

“You can say no.” Safi commented quietly once they were settled in the back of the car. “I'd like to keep my non ass hole ideal.” Popping the top two buttons of his shirt, tie tugged off and shoved into his suit pocket safi ran a hand threw his his hair. “I'm trying to make nice here.”
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DC-DCTVU-1

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#8
Right. Yeah… Right.

Honestly? Today had started out pretty decent, especially for a Monday. He’d gotten to work on time, even early. He had solved not one, but two problems for his fellows, had given away plenty of pie to the people he liked… And then everything had just gone straight down the toilet. Safi had refused any pie, and while the whole frosting debate had actually almost felt like it was civil and even enjoyed by both of them, that meeting had ended poorly, and Chris knew it.

Safi had admitted that he didn’t like him, out loud, and Chris had accepted that. Fair enough. What he hadn’t been prepared for was the whole ‘you insult everything about me’ speech that the other man had given him. The idea that his nicknames were unwelcome, that they were considered rude and careless and offensive…

And then Camila. Oh, that little girl was going to be the death of him before Saturday, and if he managed to cling to life till then, if he made it that long, then she was just going to finish him off at her ridiculous party.

That was his Monday.

Yay.

And now, as further punishment for his unintentional slights, Safi was insisting that he join Christian to home. To his one sanctuary.

Safi’s words served only to draw a groan out of Chris, who let his head slam against the hard plastic of the door’s frame, and proceeded to let it rest there, eyes closed. ”Who says no to their half cyborg future brother in law when he invites himself to your place and demands you make him drinks? Is that even a thing? I’m sure there’s some rule somewhere that says that you can’t just say no.” Because as much as he dreaded Safi in his home? He dreaded being alone just as much. More. He dreaded that more.

Trying to make nice? Christian curled against the door handle, glad it was his good side and not the one that was bruised, because that would have just been murder on the ribs, ”Make nice? You…” he was still blushing, and trying to ignore it, ”You.. In one day… One day, you threaten to marry my sister, insult my taste in fruit and pastry, condescend to me over frosting, rebuff my attempt to “make nice” while managing to make me feel like the world largest ass. And you have shattered my view of the world on top of all of that. Pie shouldn’t be a lie, Wassem. Everyone is supposed to love pie. Everyone. Pie,” he gritted out, ”Is supposed to be the way you tell someone that you’re sorry, and that you don’t mean to irritate them, and it’s supposed to be universal.” He was so not fighting not to cry. He wasn’t. He refused to be anywhere near tears around this man. Instead, a shudder ran through him, as he gritted out the words, ”I’m sorry. Not trying to be difficult.”
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#9
Yes he had said it aloud. He'd been directly confronted about his feelings or lack there of for the little man and Safi had no reason to lie.

“Well
When you put it like that…” Safi smirked at the back of his head, he was kinda adorable in a tiny yappy dog way.

“As long as the rule also doesn't say I have to bring…pie.” Was he making a joke? Yes yes he was.

“You do realize that outside of this country Pie doesn't really exist?” Safi shook his head exasperatedly. “I've never really had it before so it's very much not universal. The closest to pie would be kugle or quiche that I've been regularly exposed too.”

Damn it he was going to cry again, lord he hoped this was an off day or he had no idea how he managed to not break down every damn day.

“I drank the tea.” He pointed out lamely hand hesitanting over the other man's back before lightly patting his shoulder.

“And now you're taking me home for a drink. Most of my dates would think this is a win.”
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#10
This was so weird it was surreal. Because here’s the thing that Christian was getting stuck on. The guy didn’t like him, admitted out loud that he didn’t like him, and yet, he was hounding him about his health and insisting that Christian do things with him. After work, even.

So how the hell did that work??

You did not tell someone you didn’t like that they were taking you out for a drink. Or that they owed you one. Or… Anything of the sort! You avoided them, they tried to make it easy for you to do so, and the two of you interacted civilly at work. That’s… That’s what you did when you didn’t like someone!

Not this. You definitely did not do this.

But as much as this was going to be painful, because he knew it was going to be so, so painful… Having company, even the company of someone who intimidated him, who didn’t even like him, was better than curling up at his workbench alone and trying to work on whatever it was he’d started last night. Alone, had he mentioned that part?

”Of course you don’t have to bring pie. You have no idea how much pie I have right now…” he rolled his eyes, lips curling into a small smile as he considered it. Belle never sent him home empty handed. She always sent him home with plenty of pie, for him, to share… ”Yes yes. Pie is a distinctly American thing. It is one of our few cultural phenomena that is entirely ours. How horrible of us, to have something unique…” Christian’s dry tone disappated, and he muttered, ”That doesn’t mean people won’t like it.”

It wasn’t just pie. Food. Food was a universal language, or so Chris had thought. Pie had just been… It was how Belle showed him how much she loved him. How he knew so well that she cared. And so… Why wouldn’t he share that love with people he liked? It would have been nicer of Safi to take the pies home and just throw them out instead of just plain rejecting them. ”Did you like it?” The words were nearly a whisper, because Chris wasn’t even sure he wanted Safi to hear them. He definitely wasn’t sure he wanted an answer, because another rejection would just hurt, and… It might say something that Christian didn’t flinch away when Safi reached and touched him. If anything, there was just a tiny bit of resistance to the touch as Christian just barely leaned into it. It wasn’t often he got that sort of affection, and he wasn’t one to deny it when he did.

What?? Christian’s blush had just started to fade when Safi spoke that damning sentence. It wasn’t anymore, in fact it was, if anything, even darker now. His ears were going to sear at the tips at this rate… ”Oh, is that what this is?” he sounded like he was going to choke on the words, but he did manage to get them out, at least…
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#11
“The tea?” Really this was?

… yes apparently he needed to know that his ridiculously over sugared tea was Tastey.

“It was-” little white lie time. “Good.” He agreed seamlessly. It had been just overly sweet, maybe with a touch of citrus or mint to break the cloying sugar.

“Well if it isn't too weird to go home with my future brother in law for drinks…” Safi had been joking but at his reaction...well he'll it was cute.

“Than maybe it is. That going to be ok?” Eh it wouldn't be the first time he'd done something stupid with a coworker...and hell maybe they'd get along better.


Or really probably not, but let's face it not much was going to happen with those ribs.

Whistling Safi checked his phone quickly, a small smile at the text his daughter had sent.
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#12
None of this was really about the pie, or even the tea. But rather about Christian knowing whether he’d managed to do any of it right. ”Good.” It felt just a little bit better, to know that the tea had been good. ”It’s better if you stick like half a lemon in it. But that would hurt Belle’s feelings, so I drink it plain. I’m glad you liked it.”

Weird? Was this weird? HELL yes this was weird. This whole… Thing… Was weird. More than weird. And… They could joke about the whole ‘future brother in law’ thing till they were blue in the face, but when it came down to it, they both knew it was just a joke. Laughable. Because not only was this guy married, but he had a kid on top of it. And that made all of it a joke.

Was it going to be okay? Was what going to be okay? Nothing, absolutely nothing was okay right now. Christian tensed, ”I’m pretty sure that nothing will ever be okay ever again, thanks.” Stupid did not even begin to describe this whole mess. This… Christian did not do this. He didn’t mess with people, and he definitely did not invite married men to his home for a drink. He hadn’t meant to do that. He was pretty sure he had definitely not meant to do that…

Chris shifted forward, leaning just a little bit, to rest his forehead against the cool glass of the window. Why… Exactly, why was this his life right now? How had it come to this? Was the nickname he’d given Safi, trying to be friendly and affectionate, so very offensive that he deserved this? Apparently it had been. He tried to be a good person, friendly, nice… And he was rewarded with Safi and Camila. He dragged in a long, deep breath, trying to calm himself, and winced. Yeah, ribs. Right.

Today sucked so bad.

The moment the Uber had stopped at his building, Christian was out of the car, rushing toward his building as though afraid it might disappear on him. Anything to be out, to be not in the car. To be safe at home. That sounded grand.
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#13
“That would have helped yes.” He agreed, adding - “a sprig or two of crushed mint and some ice would make it a perfect summer drink.” Not you know mid march still too damn cold not exactly spring yet drink.

“Good to know I'll remember that for when I woo her.” He shot back slightly absently, pecking out a reply for his text.


“Just because the pie is a lie doesn't mean your life is over.” Misreading the cause of his continued distress Safi squeezed his shoulder with a small head shake.

Than he was out like a rabbit at the greyhound track. Leaving Safi to exit in a slightly more dignified manner.

“I'm not a fox.” He commented mildly, striding up to meet him at the door, “flyingnout like that is only going to agrivate your ribs-” safi held up a hand to stave off the tirade “yes yes I know. All the times you've gotten beat down mean that your an expert on not hurting yourself lore. But as we've also established; I'm.not great at believing you.” His teeth gleamed whitely in the dark.

“So what kinda liquor you got? Or we going to have to order a drone? I saw an add on Amazon for 30 min drone shipping that I have been dying for an excuse for.”
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#14
Chris considered the addition of mint to the tea, and then shrugged slightly, ”Yeah, sounds like it could be good.” Still, Christian would never make such a suggestion to Belle, because Belle was the best, and he wouldn’t even risk hurting her feelings. Especially not when it came to food or drink. Safi just sort of continued the joke and Christian almost relaxed. But he couldn’t, because they were going to his home and that… That brought an anxiety all of its own. Safi gave his shoulder a squeeze, ”For someone who doesn’t like pie, you’re sort of fixated on it.”

When Safi reached Chris at the door, Chris was standing still, looking as though he were holding his breath. He was just slightly pale, and his eyes were closed. He stayed like that for a moment more before muttering, ”You know what? You’re right.” he winced, and finally managed to get the right key to the door, ”But I don’t care.” He jabbed the key home and unlocked the door, pushing it open, ”I like the train. The train is nice and big and anonymous. No one looks at you, no one talks to you, you can just sit and look out the window and shove your earbuds in and no one is going to bother you. No one is going to hound you about your day, or if you’re okay, because no one cares that much. No one cares about anyone else on the train, no one pays any attention to anyone else. You can look around and see that every single person is in their own tiny bubble, but there’s so much space, we’re all floating in this huge area, but everyone’s in their own little world…” He sighed, then went through the door, heading toward the stairs.

”Yeah, I know the stairs will aggravate my ribs. And I. Don’t. Care.” He couldn’t handle the elevator right now. Too small a space to share with someone else after the car. Safi had been the silent-from-afar type of guy for a month, and then suddenly today, he had been entirely in Chris’ face. And Christian had simply not been prepared for that in any way. On top of the stress of dealing with spoiled 15 year girl.

He made it up an entire flight of stairs before he had to stop taking them quite so fast, ”Scotch. I have scotch. If you want something else…” Chris shrugged, ”I have wine.” He rolled his eyes again, muttering to Safi, ”Amazon’s drones are second rate.”

Safi wouldn’t be able to understand what Chris meant by that small statement until they got to the fourth floor and Christian opened his door. It was dark inside, and quiet, but there were small lights that blinked scattered throughout the large room.
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#15
He was fixated? Him?? Safi was reconsidering this whole half baked (oh god it was in his head now) plan.

Maybe he should have left well enough alone, given the guy space to lick his wounds in peace.

Every time he tried to give him an out though he rejected it. Which left Safi feeling...out of sorts. Which wasn't a natural place for him.

...which might be why he couldn't leave it alone; picking at it like a insect bite.

Safi felt talked at, and he wasn't sure he could keep up with his own chatter, not when everything he said seemed to drive the other man to near tears. So he followed him silently no commenting on the stupidity of walking stairs with bruised ribs.


“...right because you’re a budding pie loving mad scientist…” Safi felt the irrational urge to pull his weapon as the shear amount of tech warred violently with the image he'd had of the fussy ridiculous loudly fashioned little PA.
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#16
Christian was just teasing Safi. Trying to lighten his own mood with it. Because yeah, he realized that Safi probably thought him just a little bit nuts by now. Just great.

Why did Chris reject all of the offered ways out? A couple of reasons. First of all, he was actually hoping to repair some of the damage he’d done with Safi. Second, really? Christian was lonely, supremely lonely, and even as difficult as Safi was to deal with, at least he wasn’t alone.

He just didn’t want to be in yet another small space with him again.

Safi might feel as though he were being talked at, but really, Christian was trying to tell him something. It was something that he was extremely uncomfortable talking about, an explanation of sorts, not just why he rode the train, but something deeper than that. Maybe he was saying this because he felt bad for depriving Safi of the elevator, or maybe because he felt bad for tearing out of the car like he had, but he was telling Safi one of those deep seated secrets that you just didn’t talk about, for one reason or another.

The door to his apartment opened and several of his creations came to life. Others had already been activated, and Jonah, well, Jonah rarely turned off. The roomba came skating along the extremely clean floor, bumping lightly into Christian’s foot, and Chris chuckled, ”Yeah, I know, I’m late. Worried, were you?” He shrugged out of his jacket, hanging it on a peg near his door, keys finding their way to the hook on the wall just for them. ”Never claimed to be a scientist.” he said quietly, ”I just…” he shrugged. Christian’s television was small, and where a normal person might have put a larger tv there was a workbench up against the wall, with a stool. Tools were lined neatly along the space, nothing large, and only a few that were powered. But there was a soldering iron, a small torch… Not the tools of a professional mechanic; Christian just… Tinkered.

Chris looked around and smiled. With the lights on, the glowing lights weren’t nearly as visible, and everything in the room was nonthreatening. Chris didn’t make weapons. The roomba circled Safi, and Christian sighed, ”Don’t annoy him, Jonah. He already dislikes me enough, and you’re only going to make things worse.”
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#17
Was he being threatened? Because this? The sudden blinky lights of things weakening in the dark had more than a slight nightmarish feel to him. What's worse was that the insane man was talking to them.

No. No he took it back this was worse; the mutant roomba was stalking him, circling him menacingly. “Tell me this isn't packing a taser.” He kept an eye on the circling robot, shucking his jacket one handed. The dark leather of his shoulder holster was stark against the white button up.

“Might not want the title but I think you own it.”
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#18
The things on the shelves were myriad, but none of them even approached dangerous. Many of the machines were in the form of people, but not nearly all of them, or even most. There were ballerinas and entire tiny scenes depicted with the tiny robots. There were music boxes and little cars and even a ferris wheel. He never gave any of the human forms faces, which might be strange, but other than that, they were just… Toys. Mostly, anyway. What was more was that nearly half of them were in some state of being built, or taken apart, or repaired.

The roomba paused when Christian spoke to it, beeping and chirping back, and it backed off from Safi a bit. ”A… Huh? Oh, no no. Why would I put a weapon on a vacuum?” The look of confusion on Christian’s face as he asked made it clear that Safi’s question made no sense to him. ”You’re only the third person to have met him… He’s just excited. Weird. One of the other people said something about putting a weapon on him, too… What is with that?”

Because really. Jonah was a roomba. He was a vacuum cleaner; why would not one, but two people think he should have a weapon?? Christian dropped onto the stool with a groan and turned it to face Safi. There was another chair in the room, large and plush, to which he waved as a way to invite Safi to sit if he’d like. Jonah, for his part, peeled away from Safi and went straight to Chris, bumping into his foot repeated until Chris sighed and bent to pick him up, gritting his teeth as he did so. ”Little pain in the ass… You full? I swear if you picked up screws in here I’m going to deactivate you while I’m at work…” But it was an empty threat. Chris wasn’t sure if entirely deactivating the roomba would be permanent, and… He wasn’t willing to give up his friend.

He looked up at Safi, hefting the little robot, ”Be right back. He cleans non-stop while I’m gone.” He disappeared into the kitchen to empty Jonah, and came back with Jonah at his heels, bottle of scotch in one hand and two glasses in the other, pouring a drink for each of them.
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#19
Tiny faceless marionettes lined the walls, filling shelves with parodies of life. Beautiful for what they were but undeniably creepy.

So very very creepy.

Staring at him with eyeless faces.

Safi turned his attention to the beeping roomba as the most normal thing he could focus on. “Your boss might be crazy.” He muttered to the hovering (thank god not literally) vacuum.

“You haven't seen the roomba wars videos?” He said loud enough to be heard. “Or the shark cat?” Lacking other options Safi set his jacket next to his reluctant hosts.

“Scotch.” Chuckling as he took the glass, “is so very American to have stocked.” He quipped trying not stare at the faceless automatons, clinking his glass with the other man's.

“Cheers.”
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Age:29
Job: PA/Magician
Ship Status: Single with Complications
Sexual Orientation: Pan-Romantic
Nyte

All Accounts Posts: 763
Points: 4,773.64€
#20
There were more than just the human form automatons. There were plenty of those, but most of them weren’t lit up, most were… For the lack of a better word, dead. Oh, they all would work if you wound them up, they’d move just as they were supposed to, the gears were well oiled and they were meticulously maintained, but the spark of life that lay in the ones that were so obviously ‘on’ was missing.

None of Christian’s toys ever lived for all that long. A week, maybe two, and then they faded into machinery rather than anything remotely alive. Jonah was different; he’d been around for so long now, Christian had finally named him and had the hope that he wasn’t going to fade away into just… A powerful roomba.

When Safi told Jonah Christian might be crazy, Jonah spun a 360 and then chirped and beeped at Safi. What it was trying to communicate wasn’t something that was clear or easy to get, though. Unless you were Christian. ”Stop encouraging him, Jonah. First of all, he doesn’t speak roomba, and second of all, he already things badly enough of me.” He offered the glass to Safi, ”He thought you were very funny. Which isn’t nice of either of you, you know.” He sighed, ”Roomba wars? No… In fact I’m pretty sure that would be traumatic for Jonah…”

So American? Christian blinked at Safi, ”You… Realize that scotch is from Scotland, right?” He frowned, ”American whiskey is bourbon…” He shook his head, let Safi’s glass meet his own, and then threw back the drink, setting it down to pour a second for himself. He was going to need it tonight. Still, he’d noticed something, so he looked over to his guest, ”Do they bother you?” He looked over to the shelves that held the automatons, frowning, ”They only bother me once they’ve died, but… Hard to just...throw them away…”
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