Our Fragile Emotions|
Roger Smith relaxed his grip on the controls to Big O and the hands of the black megadeus dropped to his sides. Roger then pressed back on the foot pedals and Big O backed away from his defeated opponent, the vaguely familiar megadeus known as Big Fau.
Moments ago, the white megadeus had lost all power during a test of strength with Big O. Now, Big Fau had slumped to his knees in the center of the street. All around them was the devastation Big Fau had wrought upon Paradigm City during his mad fury.
"Let me out! Please! Let me out of here!" Alex Rosewater cried from the cockpit of the dormant white megadeus.
Sneering at Alex's pleas, Roger's gaze was drawn to the chrome buster's firing button and he felt the urge to press it and destroy Big Fau and Alex along with him. Alex deserved death. For attempting to uncover the lost memories for his own purposes. For inciting the mysterious group known as the Union to declare war. For killing thousands of civilians after Big Fau rejected him as his dominus and turned his weapons upon Paradigm City. But especially, Alex deserved death for bringing Alan Gabriel to Paradigm City. Roger reached for the chrome buster's firing button as he recalled just a short time ago, watching through the cockpit's monitor, as the sadistic assassin stalked the damaged Dorothy Wayneright. She had been shot in the left arm and the right leg, and it was Gabriel's intention to slowly destroy her as Roger watched from several miles away.
Seeing this while battling the Union's megadeus, Roger was in shock until he received a telepathic message from Big O, telling him to leave the battle and rescue Dorothy. Under cover of a smokescreen, Roger left the black megadeus, and accompanied by Colonel Dan Dastun, sped to Dorothy's location in a MP squad car.
Arriving at a dilapidated subway station, they found Dorothy balanced precariously atop a railing overlooking a deep gorge. A few feet away stood a menacing Gabriel, and further away stood Angel, looking devastated. But Roger hardly noticed her; his concern was with the android girl who had defied the rules that made up his life.
"You'll pay for this, Alan Gabriel!" Roger shouted. "Mark my words!"
"You're just an ordinary human without his megadeus!" Gabriel taunted. "What can you possibly do to me?"
Gabriel charged, his drill hand spinning angrily. Roger grabbed Gabriel by the arm, and sent him crashing to the ground with a shoulder flip. Dastun stopped the fight with a gunshot fired into the air, but he inadvertently let both Gabriel and Angel escape.
But Roger, as he took Dorothy into his arms, didn't care about that. All that mattered was that Dorothy was safe, and he would've held her for hours if Norman hadn't called to remind him of the Union's megadeus.
"Next time, you'll take me home," Dorothy reassured.
Now, Roger sat at the controls of Big O, thinking of all the reasons to destroy Alex and the white megadeus. Big Fau had destroyed the Union's megadeus and much of Paradigm City during Roger's absence from the battle, and it was likely that Big Fau would repeat that when Alex got him operational.
The image of Dorothy lying damaged reappeared in Roger's mind.
Roger's hand trembled above the chrome buster's firing button. He could easily destroy Alex and Big Fau. Then he would uncover which rock Gabriel had slithered under and crush him under Big O's foot.
But Roger couldn't press the button.
Dastun was right. He was no longer a police officer. Roger had sworn an oath to protect Paradigm City from threats that the military police couldn't handle, and he had fulfilled that oath on this day. He had no right to take Dastun's role. Roger placed his hands on the controls, turned Big O around, and stepped on the foot pedals.
"Norman," Roger said into the receiver atop the monitor.
Norman's image appeared on the monitor. "Yes, sir?"
"I'm coming home."
Roger stepped into the laboratory and saw Norman seated at a workbench, cleaning his tools. The loyal butler was so occupied with his work that he didn't hear Roger enter.
Startled, Norman leapt out of his chair and grabbed the automatic pistol kept inside the workbench's secret compartment. When he saw Roger, the butler sighed with relief and ran a forearm across his brow.
"Oh, sir. Forgive my impertinence. I truly should have waited in the docking bay for your return."
"Where's Dorothy?" Roger repeated.
"Ms. Dorothy is in the penthouse," Norman said as he returned the pistol. "I'm pleased to inform you that her repairs went smoothly and she's experienced no complications."
Roger noticed a screen standing in the corner and walked over to it. Beside the screen was a hamper containing Dorothy's tattered black dress and stockings. The image of Dorothy lying damaged returned to Roger's mind and he shut his eyes to cast it away.
"It was necessary for me to cut away the sleeve and hosiery of Ms. Dorothy's dress to repair her damage," Norman explained. "But she insisted that I bring her a nightgown and robe before I began her repairs."
Roger opened his eyes and said nothing. Norman walked over and picked up the hamper. "Damn the bastard who shot Ms. Dorothy," Norman growled. "If fate would be so kind as to smile upon me, I'll put a bullet right between his eyes."
Norman's words were greeted with silence. When he looked to his left, Norman saw that Roger was gone.
The elevator doors slid open and Roger stepped into a penthouse filled with piano music. Taking a moment to listen, Roger breathed deeply and waked into the parlor. He was overjoyed at the sight of Dorothy, her black robe tightly wound around her, playing the piano.
Dorothy didn't acknowledge Roger's presence while she played. Roger kept his eyes on her, remembering when they destroyed the three megadeuses and telling her of his peculiar dream. But especially, Roger remembered kissing Dorothy. It was ungentlemanly to take such a liberty from a lady, but Dorothy responded to it with equal enthusiasm.
Roger suddenly realized that Dorothy had stopped playing. She closed the keyboard lid and was now looking at him.
"That was beautiful," Roger smiled.
"I'm surprised that my playing pleases you, Roger," Dorothy said.
"I don't mind your playing, Dorothy. Only the time of day you choose for a recital."
Dorothy didn't reply. Roger took the opportunity to ask his intended question: "Are you all right, Dorothy?"
Dorothy rose out of her chair, stood in front of Roger, and moved her repaired limbs in a marionette fashion. "The damage I sustained was minimal. I must admit that Norman's engineering skills are equal to father's."
As Dorothy lowered her arm to her side, Roger took hold of it. He overshadowed Dorothy when he stepped closer, carefully examining her arm for the gunshot wound. There was not a trace of it to be found. Roger made a silent pledge to double Norman's salary. "I'm pleased to see that," Roger smiled.
"So then do I please you?" Dorothy asked.
Roger blushed and tugged at his shirt collar. "Oh, of course! You're...you're a splendid addition to my household. I'm pleased with all of your work to keep this mansion organized."
Dorothy's expression remained dour and she walked over to the patio window. Roger slouched, realizing he had given her the wrong answer. He decided to wait a moment before speaking. "Dorothy, what were you doing outside the mansion?"
"I heard a song."
Roger looked at her, perplexed. "A song?"
"Yes," Dorothy said, still gazing out the window. "It was a song that I had never heard before, yet it was familiar. It was a song that the real Dorothy Wayneright often sang, so I had to discover where it originated. I never expected to uncover a gathering of terrorists, let alone be shot."
Roger lowered his head and shivered. First he nearly lost Dorothy, then he rebuffed her affections, and now she told him about a memory of the real Dorothy Wayneright. Roger wondered if this day could get any more intense.
"And where were you, Roger?" Dorothy asked.
"I was with Angel," Roger admitted.
Dorothy seemed indifferent, but Roger felt that she was upset. Were Dorothy's feelings for him stronger than girlish affection? Roger thought again of their kiss, and the question Dorothy had asked him after the Wise negotiations sprang to mind: 'If...neither of us had memories and we met, so would you and I fall in love as well?' Roger sighed; the day had indeed gotten more intense.
"I ran into Angel as I left the Paradigm Corporation," Roger explained. "With all the incidents that have been occurring lately, I just wanted to talk with her."
"I see," Dorothy said, still gazing out the patio window.
"We wound up at the beach," Roger continued, walking towards Dorothy. "I took Angel's hand, and I was going to kiss her...but I couldn't. I wouldn't."
Dorothy's head turned slightly, and Roger saw from her reflection that she was startled.
"Maybe I care for Angel a little," Roger said. "But I know that I care greatly for you, Dorothy."
After a few moments Dorothy turned around and looked up at Roger with a small smile. "I'm pleased to hear that," Dorothy said.
"Dorothy, may I hold you?" Roger asked hopefully.
Dorothy nodded and Roger gently pulled her towards him. They wrapped their arms around each other and Dorothy rested her head against Roger's chest.
Roger looked down at the android girl and smiled. Whatever emotions of love he had or remembered were drawn to Dorothy. It made Roger regret not simply saying that he loved her, but his gentlemanly instinct told him this wasn't the proper time. Roger decided that he'd wait until the memories of Paradigm City were uncovered before he told Dorothy. Right now, he only wanted to enjoy this moment.