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You finish fixing lunch, and put on some classical music in anticipation of his return. Mr. Brennan never told you what he likes, but you presume that he wouldn't have vinyls of music he dislikes lying around his home.

Time passes, and no Mr. Brennan. A bit worried, you look out at the front lawn. No one is in sight, so you head back in to search for contact information with which you might reach him. A part of you wonders that he did not give you this information before leaving. Was he simply careless, or indifferent about you...? You shake your head slightly in an attempt to push these thoughts from your mind. In any case, you find a datapad on a counter in the living room, but no information in it. You begin to panic. Where is he? What happens now without his guidance? You feel lost. Frightened even. Your stomach does flip-flops as you realize how much you depend on this man. What am I going to do without him? You stop as the worst comes to mind. Won't... the Agency simply recover me, and assign me to a new owner...?

Suddenly, the front door beeps. This momentarily relieves you of your worries; you quickly run out of the living room to see who has arrived. It's a mailman, and he’s holding a medium-sized package. You go out to take the package from him. As you reach out to take it, he hands you a second, smaller box. "What's this?" you ask.

"A message for you, ma'am," the delivery android says.

You open it, and are greeted by a handwritten note from Mr. Brennan. Your fellow android smiles at you, nods, and takes his leave. Closing the front door and setting down the package on the living room's coffee table with one hand, you read the note from Mr. Brennan.

Amie,

Are you familiar with that charming method of execution known as dismemberment by horses? If so, substitute the horses for adulatory investors and you will have a pretty good idea of my present predicament. Rest assured, however, that I will not be dragged about later than a quarter past noon; or if I am, will shortly break free of my bonds of my own accord, thereby sparing you the need to play the part of a nobler Isis.

PS: Don't let your compatriot leave before you verify whether the package's contents are to your liking.

You read the note twice more to make sure you understand it correctly. A small laugh escapes your lips. You recognize Mr. Brennan so well in his writing! However, laying aside the note your eyes widen as you come to a belated realization. You quickly head to the front door and look out. The worker is long gone. You hope that won't be a problem. Returning inside, you turn your attention to the package. Mr. Brennan told you to open it, so you do so.

Inside is... a dress? A simple but elegant dress. The color is blue, but not like any blue you've seen before. A blue of deepest sapphire. The cut is... modest? Yes, modest. You finger the fabric. You're not an expert on human fashion, but you know for certain that it's definitely not something you would have ever considered buying yourself. Thanks to your sensors you know its composition; you know that this is very high quality material. You hold the dress up to yourself and spin around a bit, looking down at yourself. This is your first time doing something like this. It's a novel feeling. After looking the dress over once more, you set it down and look at Mr. Brennan's letter again. He expects you to wear it... doesn't he? Otherwise, why would he ask if it's to your liking?... It feels strange to receive such an expensive gift so suddenly, but spontaneous gestures of generosity don't seem out of character for Mr. Brennan, you think with a smile.

Bringing the dress to your room, you try it on. You feel a little strange wearing it, but the dress fits extremely well considering that you didn't choose it yourself. It falls over you easily, almost as if it's been custom-made just for you. Looking in the mirror and turning back and forth, you think it suits you quite well. Feeling oddly happy, you go back to the living room. Mr. Brennan will be back soon; you want everything to be ready before he returns. You take a deep breath, and enter the kitchen to prepare lunch.

Twenty minutes later, as you're putting the last touches on a salad, you hear the front door open. You surprise yourself by how quickly you rush to greet him. Mr. Brennan stares at you with some surprise as well as you skid to a halt, but you're not sure if it's because he's taken aback by your speed or something else. "Welcome back, sir!" you say, breaking the silence.

"Hello, Amie." He approaches you slowly, with a wary eye. "How have you been?"

"I'm... I'm all right." You look at him brightly. "How did the meeting go?"

"An unmitigated success," he replies. "I received so many commissions that some picking and choosing will be required."

"I'm very glad to hear that, sir."

"I have a gift for you. You won't mind, I trust." He pulls out a medium-sized, square package from his briefcase. "Here."

Confused, you take the package from him. "A gift, sir? But, the dress from earlier...?"

"Yours, of course. But you can't very well get by with just one dress and the government issued monstrosities you brought along."

You accept the package, not knowing what to make of all this. He watches you expectantly.

"I don't know what to say..." you finally utter, opening the package. Inside is a long, black dress with sleeves. It has a classic, refined appearance. "It's beautiful. I can't thank you enough... thank you, dear sir."

"You're very welcome, Amie. They're both to your liking?"

"More than I could've hoped for." You clutch the package tightly.

He nods. "We'll go out later and get you more things; you'll tell me your preferences. Right now, though, I'll confess that a bite to eat won't go remiss," he says, heading toward the kitchen.

More things? You put the package down on the couch carefully and follow Mr. Brennan, happy but a little disconcerted. During lunch he seemingly picks up on your unease. "This is all part of the process, Amie. If you are to become as humanlike as possible, it goes without saying that I must treat you as I would a human wife. Don't trouble yourself over my expenditures for your sake.

"Yes, sir. I understand. I'm just a little shocked, that's all. You're doing so much for me... and it feels like I'm doing so little."

"That feeling alone is sufficient compensation." He studies you expressionlessly. "Come, let's eat."

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Elliot_Flanders

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