During their exercises, GiDi stayed between DH and TO. DH and GiDi spoke in low whispers as they worked, while TO just did their best to focus on the work,and on the exercises. They tried their best to focus on every word from the trainer, on their every action, to feel the pull and stretch of every muscle and focus on that instead of the endless string of conversation that bubbled so easily between DH and GiDi.


When they seperated for their flight lessons, DH and GiDi were taken off together for their class while TO went to their own. DH offered TO a quick wave as they went off with their arm around GiDi, saying, “We’ll see you later!” as they hurried off.


TO walked alone in the crowd of other silent Synths as they headed to the flight training room. They stopped halfway there and slipped off down a hallway.


“Where are you going.” An  Overseer demanded of them as they walked away. TO held up their water bottle.


“For more water, Overseer.” they said without turning back.


“Make it quick.”


They hurried down the hallway, hearing the steps of the other synths fade off until they were alone. They approached the fountain and opened their bottle to see that it was still mostly full of water. They dumped it out, and set it down in the fountain to refill as they leaned against the wall.


They didn’t want to fly. They didn’t want to go to flight class. They didn’t want to be around other synths. They wanted to go find DH. They wanted to take them aside and just talk to them, just spend some time with them. They wanted DH to do something to make this awful voice in their head shut up and stop telling them that DH didn’t need them anymore.


Their eyes stung. They cursed, and reached up to quickly wipe away the tears but then they realized that it didn’t matter. DH wasn’t here to worry about them and there were no other synths to judge them. They slunk down to the floor, their back against the wall as they pressed their hands to their face and let the tears roll down their cheeks.


Well, that was one good thing about being entirely alone, TO thought; they didn’t have to worry about what anyone was thinking about them.


Why did they feel like this! Before DH was around they felt lonely, sure, but they didn’t feel this awful. They didn’t feel this pain deep in their chest and they could at least look forward to flying. They felt like they couldn’t fly - like they didn’t have the energy and even if they did they didn’t want to bother. A part of them wanted to skip flight training altogether- to just go back to their bunk and close the barrier for the rest of the day.


Of course, missing a class would mean someone - likely an Overseer- would come looking for them and that was extra attention that TO didn’t want at this moment. If they started acting odd, if they started avoiding their training, then they could be examined and if they were found to be too strange, they’d be corrected.


Does it matter?


The question hit them suddenly and stilled their ragged breathing. Of course it mattered. Why wouldn’t it matter. If they were corrected they’d have that same, dead-eyed look that other corrected synths had. They’d not seem to care about anything. DH would miss them-


Oh... But they had GiDi now. They’d miss them, but DH wouldn’t be all alone- not anymore.


The fountain beeped, signaling to TO that their water bottle was refilled. They stood up, splashed some water on their face and rubbed their eyes before drying themselves off with their sleeve.


DH would still miss them, right? Besides that, if TO wasn’t there to help then DH could possibly stop their own improvement, and display more strange behaviours that would get them corrected or repurposed. TO couldn’t allow that.


They capped off their water bottle and ran to catch up with the Flight Training class.




TO spent the entirety of their flight practice flapping in lazy, unfocused circles around the flight training room. They avoided all the other Synths - which was easy as they tended to avoid TO regardless.


It was the first time since they came out of the tank that they didn’t want to talk to anyone; that they just wanted to be by themselves. They wanted their brain to just turn off.


They had to fix this.


That was the only thing that they could think about when they were flying in circles. They had to fix this. They could fix this. They just had to talk a little more, just had to be a little more like DH. They had to walk that fine line between being talkative and outgoing to DH but not making everyone else think they were too strange to be allowed.


They left the flight training room, and made their way to the cafeteria. It’d be fine. They’d sit with DH and GiDi as they ate, and they’d talk about… They didn’t know what, but even if DH did most of the talking, they’d at least figure out some way they could chime in.


They could do that, couldn’t they?


They felt themselves slow down. They stopped, and turned off to go to the washroom. There was nobody else in there; they had walked a little further to go to one that was more out of the way and thus more likely to be abandoned.They leaned against the counter and eyed themselves in the mirror.


Oh. Oh they didn’t look good. Their eyes were rimmed with blue, and their ears were limp against their head.


They turned on the tap to one of the sinks and splashed water over their face. No. If they went in looking upset and sad then that would make things worse. If DH noticed, DH would be upset and worried, andGiDi would find everything weird. They didn't want to risk scaring DH's new friend away


Of course, if they didn’t notice, that would just upset TO more and they’d not be able to make any conversation. No,They had to convince themselves that it was fine.


“Of course it’s fine.” they said to themselves, desperately trying to ignore the awful voice in their head that was telling them they messed up everything. “DH is just excited. It’s a new person. they said they wanted MORE people, not new people.” They frowned and looked in the mirror, trying to convince themselves of what they were saying, “They’re probably just being cautious around me because I keep telling them to be careful, to watch themselves. That’s all.”


That actually made sense. It made a lot of sense. They nodded at their reflection, washed their face, and left to go to the cafeteria. As normal, DH wasn’t there when they arrived so they waited for them to get there.


It would be fine. They’d talk to DH alone when they were practicing in the flight room later on. There was the possibility that DH would invite GiDi, but… Maybe it would be ok just to ask to spend some time alone with them. TO would say they needed to talk to them. If they didn’t want to do that, they’d at least find a second to apologize.


They glanced down the hallway, looking for DH. Maybe they’d just apologize right away when they saw them. Sure there were still a handful of people trickling into the cafeteria, normal synths giving TO a strange look, but that didn’t matter. They had been working so hard not to seem too strange, they were sure one slip, one moment of not trying to be normal wouldn’t destroy it all.


They weren’t sure they would be able to focus on their mental training in the afternoon if they didn’t clear things up. Or maybe there was nothing to clear up. Maybe they were just being worried over nothing. Maybe they would apologize and DH would look at them with their big eyes, their ears tilted out in confusion, and ask them what they were apologizing for.

What were they apologizing for? For being so quiet. For being so sad. For being down when DH was so happy.


The trickle of synths heading to the cafeteria slowed, and TO started to worry. DH always took longer to get to the cafeteria than they did because their flight training room was further away, but they never took this long.


What if they got injured. The thought came to TO quickly and without warning. They heard the sound of a body smacking against the floor in their mind as vividly as they heard it when it happened in that first flight training class. What if DH had tried to show off to GiDi, and got hurt because of it. They were a much better flyer now, but what if they had tried a dive, got distracted, and ended up crashing head first into the ground?


Or what if DH and GiDi had been too loud, too strange, and had been taken away to be corrected.


TO felt their hands ball up into fists as other synths started to leave the cafeteria after having finished their meal. Something had to have happened to DH. They’ve never been this late before. TO looked around, trying to think about what they could do to figure out what had happened. Could they ask an Overseer? The Overseers knew that they were helping DH, so maybe it wouldn’t be strange if TO was concerned that they couldn’t find them.


They turned away, about to rush off to find DH’s Overseer when they heard DH’s voice behind them. They turned back to see DH and GiDi, leaving the Cafeteria, chattering casually.


TO felt a brief moment of relief - DH was fine, DH was alive! DH hadn’t been corrected!- then felt their heart drop and their ears drooped all the way down.


DH had gone in without them. DH had left them alone.


DH looked past TO at first, then did a double take as they saw them standing alone In the hallway. They fell silent as they looked at the expression on TO’s face, the angle of their ears.


At least they noticed this time.


TO turned and started down the hall. They didn’t know where they were going, they didn’t know if they could go to their mental classes this afternoon. They didn’t know what they were going to do, or what they could or should do. They wanted to be alone. They didn’t want to have to try to be normal around anyone. They couldn’t act like this didn’t bother them. If they went to their classes and were seen to be acting so sad - no, sad wasn’t the word, so shattered,- then the Overseers would notice. If they didn’t go to their classes, the Overseers would notice


Does it matter? The voice in their head asked them.


Probably not.


A note from TheWitchOfTheRock

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Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell

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