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Family Dynamics

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"Robot, listen to me! I just need to help my family! Let me out!" Will shouted, his closed fists making repeated, harsh contact with the storage cupboard door. The robot didn't budge.

Without warning and just for a second, Will's insides felt as if he were going up in an elevator, like he was weightless, before he came crashing back down and so did something else, right on top of the Jupiter. Ice. Massive chunks of it, he could tell. The force of it nearly knocked him off his feet, it would have had he not already been holding onto the door.

His thoughts went spiraling. Were they going to get crushed? Did they have enough fuel to get out? Were his family and Dr Smith okay? Nothing was happening anymore and he couldn't hear any voices. Without meaning to, Will felt pricks of tears in his eyes at the thought of his family being hurt while he was stuck in a storage cupboard thanks to the robot that was supposed to listen to him. Dr Smith had told him that he only wanted to protect him, which meant that he wouldn't risk Will's life to save his family's.

"Please," Will could hear the crack in his voice as he struggled to hold himself together, "My family. I need to help them, please!"

No reaction from the robot. Meanwhile, Will's heart was beginning to race, his breathing shallow and fast. He couldn't slow it down and Dr Smith wasn't there to talk him through his panic with logic anymore. Getting more and more frantic, he began hammering his palms down on the door, kicking it with his boot as he yelled for the robot to listen to him. The robot lowered his head, hearing the hurt in his voice and recognising the pain he must be feeling on his hands but he could weigh up the cons of leaving him inside or letting him out by himself and there were just too many on the letting-out side.

Will was crying now, unable to keep control of them. They were a mixture between sad tears and angry tears but, the longer the ship went without moving, the more they shifted towards sad tears.

Then finally, the ship made its familiar whirring noise, the one that it did when it was getting ready to fly. Suddenly, it became a little easier for Will to breathe now that he knew that at least somebody was still there to pilot it. Not that he was even close to the natural state of his breathing, it was still much too fast. So fast yet he didn't have nearly enough oxygen and he starting to get lightheaded.

The Jupiter made a sudden sharp turn upwards, making Will go flying into the back wall. In less than a second, the robot was facing the door, pressing up right against it. He was ready to open the door at a moment's notice, if the cons at any point favoured keeping Will inside. He watched almost guiltily as the small human curled into a tight ball against the back wall, tucking his head into his knees as his hands came up to cover the back of his neck and head just in case something fell on him. The ship twisted back and forth, throwing Will around with it. The robot was itching to make sure he was okay but the most he could do was hope Will would look up and see that he was there for him. He tried to channel his lights to form what he hoped was a calming pattern on the chance that Will did look at him.

Will only unfurled himself for a second when there was a noticeable smack against the front of the Jupiter before they finally began smooth sailing. The robot was an inch away from unlocking the door when the ship began stuttering and aiming downwards. He stopped and looked back at Will.

The boy was trembling, his back rising and falling rapidly and his hands tightly clasped together behind his neck. Thoughts flew around his head again. He was going to die alone in a room without his parents even knowing. He was never going to see his family again. When the ship began falling faster and faster and steeper and steeper, the robot felt the almost uncontrollable urge to rush into the room and comfort him. But he couldn't, his first order of business was always to protect him, comfort came second.

With a loud crash, the Jupiter finally hit the ground. As soon as the robot could tell there was no more danger, he unlocked the door and knelt down next to Will. He was still crying and quivering. Apparently without thinking, Will leaned his head into the robot's chest, a silent plea for protection. The robot recognised it as an act Will had done with his mother before. One of his metallic hands landed gently on his shoulder, slowly ushering him to his feet.

Will was barely half the robot's height but he didn't hesitate to wind his arms as tight as he could around his middle, burying his face into the crook of his elbow as he cried. The robot copied him, covering Will's back with his arms but with a lot less pressure so as to not harm him.

They stayed in that position for a little while, letting Will calm down on his own. The robot circled his thumb on Will's back, mimicking the way he'd seen Maureen do it before. Will relaxed further into him, his breathing finally returning to normal and the tears discontinuing their flowing.

Then the silence was broken, "Will?"

It was his mother speaking, his father stood behind her. They looked worried.

The robot opened his arms and Will ran straight into Maureen's, he watched in fascination at the intensity of the hug, at the way Maureen desperately cradled the back of her boy's head. One look in Maureen's eyes told the robot that she was grateful, he recognised the silent 'thanks'. Maureen seemed to trust him, something that made him feel bizarrely included, if only for a second.

Maureen and John whisked their son away, the robot was left in the storage cupboard. Normally he would follow Will wherever he went but he sensed no danger towards him. He trusted his parents to care for him just as much as they (well, Maureen at least) did him.