TO trudged over to GiDi’s old pod, trying hard not to trip over their own feet. They thought that they’d just fall asleep instantly if they happened to trip and fall to the ground. GiDi had done just that when they had crawled up into TO’s pod after their final meal; the moment they had gotten comfortable, they were asleep.
TO wanted to be asleep too. Ideally, they wanted to be asleep next to DH- who they hoped was feeling better now- but they had been shooed away both during their second and final mealtimes. MO-6 said that DH was sleeping, and that nobody was to disturb them. Well, that was good anyway. At least the pain had passed enough for DH to get some real sleep.
GiDi’s plan of sleeping in shifts hadn’t worked very well. Neither of them could sleep because DH was in too much pain, and the sound of them crying out kept them both awake and worried. In the odd silences that did occur when DH dozed off, TO and GiDi would drift off due to pure exhaustion only to be awoken moments later by a new cry of pain.
TO had been very glad that all they had to do for their combat training and vocational training was follow orders; if they had to actually use their brain today, they would have failed miserably. They were so tired, they actually walked right past 09T08’s pod without realizing it. They turned around, stumbled slightly, and made their way back. O9T08 was reclined in the pod, reading something off their chip. When TO stood before them, they glanced up.
“Oh, hello-... Are you alright?” They frowned as they looked over TO, “You look-”
“Awful, I am aware.” TO grumbled, “It’s not been a good few days.”
“I see.” 09T08 said as they sat up, closing up the file they were reading, “Do you want to sit?”
“If I do, I might fall asleep.” TO warned.
“I’ll wake you.” 09T08 said as they pulled their knees up to their chest to make room for TO, “Go ahead- I’m worried that you might fall over if you don’t.”
TO didn't have the energy to argue, so they just sat down. They very nearly lay down - their body screamed to rest- but used every little ounce of their willpower to sit upright.
“Are you certain that you’re going to be ok?” They asked, “I can bring you to medical-”
“I’m just tired.” TO said, “And medical is aware. GiDi and I-”
“Right, GiDi said that you three gave yourselves names. DH is the one who got hurt. You’re… TO?”
TO’s ears perked up, “Yes.” They said, “And… I saw you before-” They looked away, feeling their ears burn, “Nevermind.”
“You saw me before you left the tank, right?” They asked. When TO looked at them in surprise, they only smirked, “I noticed your number ages ago, and assumed that you had to have come out of the tanks just before me.”
TO managed a tired smile. They were strange, that much was obvious. They desperately wanted to confirm that this was the synth that GiDi had kissed, but didn’t want to press them; they didn’t want to make them think that GiDi had betrayed their trust.
“How is DH?” they asked, “They’ve not come back. They’re not-”
“They needed some medical attention. A lot, actually.” TO said, “Stitches, and a new eye-”
“A new eye?” 09T08’s ears perked forward, “That’s interesting. Not many synths would get that kind of treatment.”
TO looked away, “I might have helped make an argument for it.” they said.
09T08 gave a quick smile, “They’re lucky to have you then.” They said.
TO nodded, “They’re in the medical bay now, recovering. That’s where GiDi and I were last night. They were in a lot of pain, and we didn’t want to leave them alone.” they glanced to check and see how 09T08 was reacting to that. TO expected confusion, but instead they just saw 09T08 nod.
“I can see that.” They said.
“I wanted to thank you.” TO said, “For telling me that DH needed help, and for taking care of GiDi.”
“It was nothing.” They said, their own ears flicking at the thanks, “Everything was getting out of hand that day. I’m just glad I could help someone.”
“You helped a lot.” TO said, “I’m very grateful for that.” They glanced away, “I hope everything was… alright?”
“GiDi wasn’t in their right mind.” 09T08 said, “They were upset over a lot of things. I offered to take them to the medical bay to find you, but-” They glanced away, “They seemed a little angry too. They said no.”
“They were right to be angry.” TO said, “Thanks for being there for them.”
“It was nothing.”
“...And-” TO felt their ears pin down with anxiety, “If you you wanted to spend more time around us. I mean, if you were lonely-”
“Oh…” 09T08’s ears flicked down, “Oh… oh no, thank you though.”
TO felt their stomach clench, “Right. Sorry. I thought you were-”
“You thought I was different, right?” They gave a little smile, “You thought I was like you, and GiDi, and DH?”
TO felt their ears burn, “Yes.” they said, “Sorry if that offends you, I just-”
“Oh no, you’re right. I am different, but… not quite like you.” They gave a little smile, “I tried to explain that to GiDi, but I don’t think I got it across quite right.”
TO shook their head, “No. I mean, GiDi was saying something about how you’re different, but not in the same way?” They frowned, “I’m sorry. It was a bit hectic the last few days.”
“I am different.” 09T08 said they looked away, their ears flicking down as a sad smile crossed their face, “I know that. I -” They reached up and touched their head, “I think about things that I know I shouldn’t. I consider things. I see things that others don’t… or at least I understand things differently.” They gave TO a little smile, “But… I’m content on my own.”
“Honestly, you three? I’ve been watching you. I was tempted to say something to you when you asked me to move. You’re always together. I think it’s sweet, but…” They shook their head, “If I was around someone all day every day? I think I’d go mad. I enjoy my solitude. I enjoy being alone.”
TO felt their ears droop down. They had been so hopeful that this would be someone that might be special to GiDi; someone who might even go off with them when they had their assignments. “You never get lonely?”
09T08 shrugged and looked away, “From time to time.” They admitted, “But…” they pointed to their chip, “When it gets really bad, I read fiction. Sometimes…” Their ears flicked down and burned blue, “Sometimes, I imagine that some of the people I read about, that they’re here with me. And that’s fun. That makes me feel better, but I couldn’t be around someone all the time. Even the thought of that makes me uneasy.” their wings seemed to tighten around them.
TO nodded, and looked down and away, worried that they might be prying too much. “You don’t dislike GiDi though, right?”
“Oh, I don’t dislike any of you!” They said, “Like I said, I think the three of you are sweet in your own way. I’m just… not like you.” They shrugged, “That’s all.”
“I understand.” TO said.
“I don’t think you’re strange. Well…. I don’t have a problem with it anyway.” They said.
“...Well.” TO said slowly, “If… I mean, you don’t have to be around us all the time, but… maybe the odd time you do get lonely, you could come to us. Maybe just spend a few minutes with us if you like?”
09T08 didn’t respond right away. Their ears twitched in slight panic as they looked away, and their wings definitely tightened around them.
“Just consider it an open invitation.” TO said quickly, “If you ever just decide you want a few minutes of company, you can just find us, alright?”
“... Alright.” They said though they didn’t look up, “If I really want to be around others, I’ll find you three.” They gave a quick, nervous smile, though they seemed to relax as their wings suddenly loosened up. It occurred to TO that maybe 09T08 got nervous around others. If that was the case, then TO had perhaps just made them very uncomfortable.
Another pang of guilt. They didn’t want to mess this up and make 09T08 anxious around them. Though they were still very tired, TO forced themselves up and stretched.
“And it’s alright if you don’t.” They said, trying to sound like they were adding it just as an afterthought, “Just thought I’d offer. As thanks.”
“...Thank you.” they said, “I appreciate that.”
TO had never been more happy to reach their pod. The climb up had felt almost impossible but they had done it, focusing on every single rung of the ladder, pulling themself up with the promise of sleep and comfort when they reached their pod. When they finally crawled in, they collapsed down next to GiDi.
GiDi was still asleep, curled up and breathing gently. They didn’t chirp in their sleep like DH did; there was only the sound of soft breathing coming from them. It was soothing. TO felt another pang of guilt as they watched their friend sleep. They had been alone with GiDi all day, and hadn’t been energetic or awake enough to make much use of if. They wanted to do something to make GiDi feel better; to make them feel special.
They just didn’t know what to do.
They lay down next to them, and pulled GiDi in tight, holding them as they slept.
They remembered idly how they had first met GiDi, catching their ears flicking to the music that DH and TO were playing. The three of them started watching more musicals after that. They all loved them, but GiDi loved them the most.
TO had an idea- well, more a thought. The beginnings of an idea floated half formed in their exhausted mind. They hoped as they were falling asleep with an arm draped over GiDi’s side that they’d remember it when they woke up.
Bio: A writer and Illustrator with scenes to show and stories to tell