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Conflicting Heart

The fog had disappeared and the morning clouds were gone. The artificial sun began lighting up the buildings and homes of this remote part of Paradigm City, yet the old man still had the same grim facial expression. As he lifted his orange juice, the ice clinked and clanked against the glass. Although he didn't show it, he was pleased with what he had.

The nurse had just finished fixing his bed nearby, and walked up in front of his chair.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?" she asked. She was nervous, not knowing what to expect from the old man. Today was her first day working for him.

"No, that will be it for now," he said with a smile. "A pretty girl like you shouldn't worry so much." The girl blushed and smiled shyly.

"Thank you, sir." She walked out of the room.

The old man sighed. This was completely different from the life he lived forty years before, yet he had grown accustomed to his comfortable surroundings. Sometimes, though, he wished for his alternate life, but the tragedy kept him from ever going back. He sighed again into the sunshine.

After about an hour or so, and after two more refills of orange juice and ice, the nurse reappeared at the door.

"Sir, there is a visitor here to see you."

"Send him in," he said, motioning his hand for the visitor to enter, rather annoyed. He expected it to be Andrew Rosewater, son of the late Alex Rosewater, coming here to brag about the new expansions of Paradigm, and how he and his children would add more in the near future. He didn't want to hear it, so he planned to block it out of his mind.

He heard the door shut behind him. He didn't bother to look behind him.

"Roger Smith," said the rather familiar voice behind him. Shocked, his eyes went wide, and he dropped his glass, spilling all over the carpet. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He attempted to smile.

"I'm sorry, but you must have the wrong house. My name is--"

"I know you have the ability to lie, Roger. There is no need to show it off to me."

Feeling defeated, Roger responded with "Of course not...R. Dorothy Wayneright." She walked to the other side of the room, grabbing a chair with ease, and setting it next to Roger's. He looked up at her with a sort of shock, not believing she was actually there. She was dressed in a black dress, yet the style had changed. No more white frilly material, just a simple long sleeved dress, its neck cut down to her chest. Her hair was still the same. She was still the same. Same ol' Dorothy. She proceeded to sit down.

"So... you finally found me," uttered Roger. "How?"

"Your touch was unique. After a few alterations, I was able to track you down here with the only that sense of touch." Her eyes shifted up. "What happened to your eyebrows, Roger? They are not as they used to be." She reached out her hand, and Roger moved his head back a little in surprise. She stroked one of his bushy eyebrows. He relaxed.

"I've had to keep them this way. I didn't want anyone finding me. You don't know how much I suffered not keeping them in style." He smiled at his own joke.

He looked at her in perfect condition. "Norman did a very good job putting you back together. How is he?"

"He is sleeping peacefully underground. He was able to reach 112 before he died five years ago. Did you not see the obituaries?"

Roger put his head down in thought and shame, feeling guilty that he was not able to see his friend before he left the world, or to pay his last respects at his funeral. "I'm sorry to hear the news."

After a brief silence, Dorothy finally spoke. "Why did you leave, Roger?"

Roger saw this type of curiosity in her, but deeper, he could see a sort of sadness.

"Are you asking because you missed me?" Roger smiled and chuckled. Dorothy was silent. His smile changed into a grim expression, one he was familiar with.

"Why did you leave, Roger?" she asked again. "You left us behind. You left Big O behind. We all needed you."

Roger was silent, thinking of what to say.

"Why, Roger Smith?"

"I didn't want to cause anymore trouble for you. I saw how you'd been crushed. I didn't think you'd be repairable. Big O was almost destroyed. Norman was heavily injured and near death. I couldn't handle it anymore. I couldn't stand to see you all in that condition because of my mistakes. I didn't want to lose you all." He sighed intently. "I thought it would be best that I left, that I could save you this way."

The memories were crawling horrifically back to him. Every scene, every flame, every drop of blood, every piece of machinery, building into his most horrific nightmare.

"You consider it saving, yet Big O felt abandoned. He still stands in the room, half destroyed. Cobwebs build over him still, as if he it were his second skin."

"Norman couldn't fix him could he?"

"Of course he could. Just that...just that he found no reason to. He saw that you weren't coming back, that you left the watch in your old room, that you would no longer use him."

"Big O," said Roger, remembering the battles he had encountered and conquered with the help of his Megadeus. Then he flashed back into the present.

"I am no longer a dominus, Dorothy."

"Do not deny what you are, Roger. You cannot avoid what happened."

"I am...sorry for what happened. To you, to Norman, to Big O--"

"It is a bit late for apologies, Roger." She stopped to ponder if she should really say what she wanted to say next. "You said that you cared for me. You made to me what you called love. Did none of that matter to you when you left?"

Roger stood up rapidly. Many years had passed, but he had not lost much strength. "It still matters to me, Dorothy! Don't you think I still think about all of you? Don't you believe I still love you?"

"I told you, you don't need to show your ability to lie, Roger," said Dorothy with her monotonous voice.

"This is not a lie, dammit! I would have stayed if I could."

"Then why didn't you?" Dorothy's voice began to rise.

"Because I cared for you too much! I told you, I didn't want you or the others hurt, understand? You all could have died that day, and it would have been on my head."

"Your fear had overcome you again," responded Dorothy, and Roger stood speechless. He realized she was right. He sat back down on his chair.

"It has been...very quiet since you left. I had no reason to play the piano, except for Norman's contentment. Now that he is gone, there is no purpose. I have stopped going to Instro's piano lessons, at first in order to care for Norman, but then there was no reason to." Dorothy stood, picked up the now melted ice he had dropped back into the cup, and put it on the nightstand. She grabbed her chair and put it back in its regular spot. As she passed by him, he grabbed her wrist.

"Dorothy, don't go," said Roger, looking sadly at her. She looked down at him. He began to slowly let go, but she put her other hand on his.

"I'll come back another day."


"I don't know," she responded, and let go. She walked up to the door and, as she touched the knob, she looked back, Roger stood once more looking at her. She pulled the door open and exited.

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