Nighttime is for weirdos.
Not exclusively, but—tequila soaked couples and alleycat kids, the vein eyed insomniacs. The nocturnals. Cranks named PetePete who offer to trade costume jewelry for quick cash as you’re walking by, where you going, hey. That crinkly little lady who smells like almonds and sells shag rugs at 11pm on the corner of Rosewood and 5th.
A weak souled man who can’t hold up enough spine to send for double-layer delivery pizza even though he has a printed out and smartly cut coupon, who has to worry about judging and jurying and prolonged peeks into his home, his cluttered knick knack shelves, his pet millipede and, big worse, the pulse spike of inevitable interaction.
It’s social quicksand.
“$9.49,” the pizza kid might say, imaginably. “Sign here.” Tip, nod, and goodbye. That could be all. It could be twenty seconds and then, exhale, over. A nettling voice lives within him, says not-fun things like everyone can see you sweating lakes and you look like a woman when you blush.
But—the pizza kid could be employee of the month. There’s a high maybe that he’ll want to check for accuracy.
The coinflip is that he might lift the lid and go, “Oh, this isn’t what it says on the ticket. This is half green onion and half pineapple. You didn’t want that, did you?” And Jensen will—Option 1: be forced to duck inside in a rush to fetch his communication whiteboard, put down ‘NO. I clicked on garlic mushroom,’ and make a wimpy smile so it doesn’t sound accusatory because nobody can hear the tone of a dry erase marker—or Option 2: shrug agreeably and take the terrible thing and place it on his small fold out eating tray, look at it til it’s fridge cold to touch.
And that’s just a single scenario. Anything else could fate him.
Better to not chance it. His communication board really makes him feel like a wiener.
Claudine Bockert LPC calls it a stumble, whenever it happens, but Jensen knows well that she’s the indulgent sort, that philanthropic, stock-kind that therapists tend to be. Contact and exchange can give him stomach cramps that last for hours. He doesn’t tell her in specifics how often his stumbles happen. Their EMDR sessions help as much as they can.
24 hour supermarkets with self checkout lanes are large-scale modern miracles because they’re sort of private in public. They offer the option of isolation. Scan, beep, bag, swipe, finish, relief. He’ll treat himself to a pack of little round donuts maybe, if he makes it that far, if he doesn’t turn around halfway to and order online the next day instead, type leave on doorstep in the comments square. Risk and reward. Reachable goals.
There’s a lost flappy bug trapped in a light post Jensen passes under; it’s panicking. The low evening wind is a subtle frost against his eyelids when he stops to count out his inhales in his head. The world is void black. Jensen keeps walking. DeeDee’s Dollhouse is another place that never closes.
By now, DeeDee is familiar. She’s got a carrot head and a pink smile. She knows Jensen’s not a gasbag.
He makes it in two to three solid times a month. If he can afford so, a good fortune fourth. DeeDee isn’t judgy. She used to gargle old man spooge at a chicken ranch before she opened her own sexbot rental store, said so herself. Jensen doesn’t do a bored browse, doesn’t have the urge to shop around. He will always want the same thing.
There’s a cushion to her voice when she sees him pop in, a fold in her face. “Oh wait a sec, hun.”
He stops, toe tips on a black tile and a heel on white. It makes his arm skin pimple over when he notices this. He uses Dr. Claudine’s number scale trick. How bad is this, from 1—10?
(Are there people around to see him?) No. DeeDee doesn’t count. She’s one of the okays.
(Can he still find his thoughts?) Yes, a lot.
(How many outcomes are there? How bad is bad? Think it through, write what you feel.) The number is incalculable. But the worst that happens is probably that he walks out and puts his hands over his ears, repeats the jingle from his favorite commercial until he’s safely back home, probably. This only feels like a 4 on the scale.
DeeDee’s grin is a little girl’s and she does a shimmy thing with her hand, says, “No, hey, not a biggy. Your boy’s just not ready yet. But c’mere, c’mon, I can still ring ya up.” Yuh-up.
He pays. He concentrates on DeeDee telling him that the second Tuesday of next month is 25% off. He only stands on tusk white tiles. The slot in the wall that he’ll normally make it to in seventeen steps and a bounce is empty, charging cords exposed and hoses de-suctioned. It’s just gone. He’s gone. He’s never not been there before. This development wants to set Jensen back a week in his progress, a disturbance to his groomed routine.
Jensen, feeling a broad new feeling, doesn’t like being aware of the fact that his JAR-3D is in a sanitation unit. Its intention is to be professionally reassuring, knowing JAR-3D is being disinfected and rinsed and pressure washed with chemicals to ensure sterilization that’s up to health code.
Jensen feels a puncture of unease.
Recently used, crawls into his ear like a wet worm, settles there. This might be an 8 actually.
Under a punchy purple awning at the dollhouse’s storefront, the first thing Jensen does is insert the slim personalization chip into the micro-slot just under JAR-3D’s left ear, his fingers flexing excitable. There isn’t any reason for dismay, nor fear. JAR-3D will adore him desperately, for the next twelve hours. But Jensen’s lip licks and chest clutches come unmindful of fact. It’s a barefaced first love every time.
JAR-3D, for being a factory template that the manufacturers halted production on, has remarkably advanced components and a completely customizable AI. A refined powering on was meant to be a selling point for authentic intimacy and there are no clunks, no droid lights in his eyes. His hardware is highest rank: a soft hum, a dilatory blink and he’s here, awake again.
“Jensen,” JAR-3D says, pleasure toned. He has a gentleman’s pronunciation.
Jensen waves, like an unbearable goon. The jostles in his belly won’t stop. JAR-3D is a direct silhouette of his nightdreams, but Jensen still couldn’t have made up anything even half this good.
Their first night together, JAR-3D was working off of an initial data scan and he’d said, “1730 West Keefe Street Apartment 312?” It had sounded like sour curds. Equipped to recurrently assess and log, JAR-3D uploaded Jensen’s informative reaction, his uneven mouth, directly into his system and now since, hasn’t referred to where Jensen lives so neutrally.
He’s a boyfriend where and when it counts.
At 1.98m tall JAR-3D makes Jensen feel littler, and profoundly protected. Neither is easy to do.
JAR-3D tilts his head 7.7° and the polymers of his face stretch to a light grin. He holds out a hand and Jensen takes it, thoughtfully threading them together. They walk the same path Jensen came down and he doesn’t notice himself not over-noticing his surroundings, not having to rhyme words with objects he sees the way he often will to cool down or cope. Squashed grape soda bottle in the road will be mottle, waddle, throttle, dawdle.
Their hands swing between them pleasantly. Sometimes JAR-3D’s thumb brushes across the little knurl of Jensen’s bony wrist.
They’ve always felt like dates.
JAR-3D doesn’t take him to balcony restaurants that serve scallop sashimi or chimichurri bread, whisk him around a glittering starburst city, say yeah I’ll call you, we’ll set something up again, and Jensen doesn’t have to battle with putting his contact lenses in, selecting the exact correct outfit from his color-coded stacks, spend 1—1.5 hours steaming out each rumple, but they share looks and touches and the times when JAR-3D explains a new software update he’s undergone or says, “I’ve been upgraded to rent-to-own status,” it’s a lot like sharing things about himself, so it invokes many similar sentiments. The bottom of his right foot says Lovedoll for a reason.
They’ve always felt like dream dates. The upside down, marry me tomorrow kind.
Tonight they watch Girl Shy.
It’s more of a processing for JAR-3D but Jensen enjoys the thought of them experiencing something together. Something other than what they do in Jensen’s bedroom beneath the eyelet quilt.
Jensen curls his legs to a z-shape at one side of his body. He huddles next to JAR-3D on the loveseat and his head falls to JAR-3D’s shoulder naturally. Because he was blueprinted to be lifelike, it doesn’t weigh burdensome when JAR-3D’s head dominoes over his too, likely a handsome sight. The act is more comforting than the sensory squeeze ball and Jensen’s never told Dr. Claudine any of this, mostly because he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings.
But also because talking about diddling will color him red as a chili pepper.
The perforating idea that he’d sit in her geometric walled office, look at her gold frog sculpture from Okinawa, tell her that he lost his big V to a machine last winter. It makes his toes spread and his eyes coat over with stinging stress-tears.
Besides, it’s too personal.
There are tiny black camera lenses fitted into JAR-3D’s eyes, surrounded by a brilliance of raw blue/green/hazel/honey. Jensen still can’t believe how anyone could throw someone like this away.
Something, DeeDee would say if she heard. Jensen’s just glad she saved JAR-3D from the plant’s compactor. Design glitch or not, severe size or not, unaccounted for cost of materials or not, JAR-3D is innovational art. And he’ll never give Jensen pubic lice or complain about having to watch another silent film.
This one is about a man that develops a pronounced speech problem promptly at the sight of any woman. It’s old and funny. JAR-3D episodically will read aloud the dialogue intertitles as they pop up on screen and even though Jensen isn’t hard of hearing, he likes that there are other things out there like him that make little to no noise.
Quiet things can still be beautiful, JAR-3D might tell him, probably. Ideally. If he thought thoughts.
Jensen isn’t boy shy. Not in this bed, and not with this boy.
It’s easiest this way, for him to bunch down his pants and ankle out of them, lower the band of his underwear too, climb on top where JAR-3D waits ready in the blankets for him, a soft smile set into his symmetrical face, holding a strong hand out for Jensen to grip, use. They cycle through other positions but this is a go-to, Jensen’s milk white thighs spread out around JAR-3D’s ultra slim hips, JAR-3D held deep up in his body, humping lightly.
Like a thumbsucking problem, Jensen leaves his shirt on. He’s only a little softened and JAR-3D wouldn’t notice or care at all but it’s his thing. Jensen has a lot of things. Connections, crowds. Even soliloquies make him miserable. JAR-3D likes him despite or including all of that; he doesn’t even seem to have any aversion to hearing the same three Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark songs playing on a loop of soft hums when they’re having sex.
JAR-3D’s OS is drafted with universal greetings and common smalltalk—What would make you glad? I am incompatible with latex condoms. It’s looking overcast, do we need an umbrella?— and he can answer any broad question posed to him, sometimes with unintentional hilarity, but he doesn’t often, ever, suggest anything other than what they’re doing.
He startles Jensen when he says, “Would you like to kiss more? I would really like to do that with you,” while Jensen’s busy on top of him, working his waist in small circles, enjoying the sensation of being plugged up.
It makes Jensen’s mouth papery, momentarily, not knowing what to say if he could say.
He’s still rocking down on JAR-3D’s fat-rooted length, though, and as JAR-3D’s hands lift to touch at his ears, frame Jensen’s face inside his wide-width palms, Jensen’s climax just drains out of him. Overwhelmed blurts saturate JAR-3D’s beach-tan thermoplastic elastomer skin. There’s a heart’s worth of pulsing at Jensen’s groin, his eyes round and darting—down at the mess, up at JAR-3D’s cheerful cheek pits.
JAR-3D hmms along to the song. It doesn’t usually happen like this. They kiss.
Jensen’s thinking about pudding cups, how he has two left in the bulk pack and if he has one now then he’ll have to go down to the market sooner than midweek, on an unplanned venture, when JAR-3D says, “Again?” Still sprawled all puddly prone on the bed, Jensen looks over at him, where JAR-3D is sat against the headboard, watching Jensen with a unit of interest. Jensen’s cock is still shining pearly. They typically wait an hour plus.
Jensen gets up onto the peaks of his elbows, sways. Smiles teeth. They both smile teeth.
JAR-3D, who blinks the same way he sighs—by an algorithm and plainly for show, stretches to capture one of Jensen’s ankles and haul his legs open. He fits himself snugly in there and says while Jensen’s rolling his t-shirt back down,
“There are 7, 692, 543, 908 people alive, updated two minutes ago. Did you know that none of them have faces like you?”
As Jensen tries to decide if this is a fact or a fault—his freckle-wash does look like measles sometimes—JAR-3D bridges over him and starts the fuck again, heavy and nailing, and Jensen locks his forearms around JAR-3D’s neck while a little yawp tries to come out off his tongue. JAR-3D’s body on top of his feels faithful, the tangles of curly flips by his ears smell of chamomile bubble bath.
The ones flavored like chocolate cake taste the best after intercourse.
Even though Jensen hates the word intercourse because it’s not the neat rounded out ten letters he prefers, just close enough to be disagreeable. He can mollify himself by re-squishing words to fit, pulling letters out mentally to make ten but still have it sound passably parallel to the original word. Literature is an even set. Loneliness, too.
Jensen sucks off his moussey pudding spoon and drifts out of the kitchen nook thinking—ntercourse, intrcourse, intercorse, intercours—it could lose the u and still make sense. He stops making footsteps when he finds JAR-3D stooped over by the glass habitat, the simplistic sight a real sight. Jensen grabs his whiteboard, curling to a grin.
“This is a female chicobolus spinigerus aged approximately seven years,” JAR-3D says, as Jensen stands at his side. He has a proximity alert setting. Computers don’t get unnerved. “Yes?”
Though he doesn’t need Jensen’s answer, not really, he waits with a slanted head, a knuckly finger hovering over the mesh lid. Jensen nods within range of JAR-3D’s visual span. She’s been there. Maybe Jensen’s needily kept JAR-3D too occupied to get a chance at studying. JAR-3D is a lover of learning, constantly amassing files.
“What’s her name?”
Betelgeuse, Jensen writes out carefully. JAR-3D zooms in on the whiteboard and in on the bug, and gets the joke. She’s got black and white stripes. His laugh is like a sound effect and he says, “You are adorable,” as he goes back to watching her plod around her mushroom ceramic so Jensen can’t be sure if JAR-3D means him or the millipede.
Want to feed her? Jensen wriggles the board and JAR-3D says, significantly louder, “Yes!”
There are very known names for people who get attached to bots.
Jensen combs through the mini-fridge below her home, moves aside tubs of diced portobello, zip baggies of crunchy garden leaves, JAR-3D silently going back and forth with watching what Jensen’s doing and watching what Betelgeuse is doing until Jensen sets him up with a mushy chunk of strawberry. Jensen doesn’t stay to look.
They have eight hours and thirty-seven minutes left to clock. Five hundred and seventeen minutes if batched, which sounds both longer and shorter. JAR-3D turns to him when he’s all done investigating the anthropod.
“I’m ready to be with you some more,” he says, not navigating back to the mattress to spoon or hug or talk to him about quaternary ammonium cations, but pulling Jensen sideways down to the sofa for oral.
I can’t again, Jensen tries to say with a dim wave. JAR-3D’s gently pinkened cupid’s bow is marbled with come and he’s nosing around at Jensen’s crotch, tireless yet. Serial orgasms are leaving Jensen boned out to soft sweetness.
His eye whites roll—JAR-3D’s mouth that was devised to be a masturbator was executed with total sophistication. Jensen’s kneecaps feel completely removed. JAR-3D says, “Another? Yes?” petting Jensen’s asshole.
Nothing left in him but dead pulses that make his stomach hook in and his thighs slam shut, he wants to hold JAR-3D away and instead hurls him in close to veil his mouth with hateful, loving little kisses, sniffle into a wave of satin hair. By the time JAR-3D feeds the head of his cock back in, says observantly, a notch over mute, “You must not know at all how you look, Jensen,” anything smart has been knocked off Jensen’s face; he’s been passed out for three minutes.
“Talk to me,” JAR-3D says, laid out long on his side, a hand fitted over Jensen’s ribs. “Please.”
The communication board got lost in the tumble by the bug tank. Jensen might be able to soldier crawl over there.
He shifts shallowly and JAR-3D presses him back down, clamant. It’s not mean but he’s—never done that before. He’s never done a lot of things before that he’s been doing, all night. The renter’s manual never covered JAR-3D putting a non-whorled fingertip to the center plush of Jensen’s lower lip, saying, “No, here. Use this.”
Jensen’s lashes, slug wet from excessive coupling, fly up a little, just some—before his stomach drops out.
“You have before. Remember?” JAR-3D’s ocular lenses go out of focus, looking at Jensen’s forehead, fond, like he has a memory and not a memory chip. “I remember.”
Jensen does too. But it wasn’t real and he didn’t mean to. Things don’t count when the sky is a bruise of blues and blacks and you can barely see between blinks, only awake in that half developed Polaroid way, when you say a shy hi to the not-asleep body beside you, say, arbitrarily, I might rearrange my sock pairs this afternoon, say—
“What if you whisper,” JAR-3D says, helpfully suggesting.
“I can confidently identify volumes as low as -9.9 A-weighted decibels.” He’s rubbing trapezoid shapes on Jensen’s belly skin. Jensen can tell.
“I just like how you sound.” Jensen nods, numb. He really doesn’t think he can bear this, not any of it.
“And what you called me on February 7th. I really liked that, too. It’s—” Jensen kisses the hypersoft corner of his mouth. It’s been the only thing that will engage JAR-3D’s hardware enough to keep him engrossed.
“I am so glad,” JAR-3D says, softly drilling into him. He keeps lowering his nose to touch theirs together. Artificial companions are preset to inquire, to gauge satisfaction. To ask. “You are making me so glad.”
JAR-3D, with Jensen’s legs dangled loose over his shoulders, tells him, like an admission, “I think I’m thinking.”
At 4:53 in the morning, JAR-3D carries Jensen to bed, spread between both elbow bends like a little kid or a little dog or a little love.
And at 5:06 Jensen wakes up again, remembers how they did it right there on the front room floor, and against the hall wall, how it felt helpless and required, how JAR-3D’s voice sounded like it wasn’t all gears and circuitry when he said, “I might be malfunctioning.”
He’d looked down at the thick of his chest, touched maybe about where his motherboard was. Said, “I’m detecting increased activity here. It feels—extraordinary. Big,” and Jensen didn’t think on how he hadn’t vacuumed in four days, didn’t tally the stain locations that would need to be scrubbed out once he could purpose his legs.
Something is happening to JAR-3D’s system and sloppy heart shaped kisses seem to no longer be working.
“I want to fuck you. I want you to fuck me,” he says, glitching. They don’t use profanity. They can be modified to, but don’t by default. JAR-3D is pacing tracks around Jensen’s little bedroom. “Jensen Ackles. 1730 West Keefe Street Apartment 312. I want to fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck. Apartment 312. Jensen Ackles. Jensen.”
Jensen, naked and watching him, debates showing JAR-3D his number scale trick.
JAR-3D’s audio comes out slower, by sections. He says like reading a list, “Jensen Ackles’ preferences include slim build, high stature, domestic mode, generous copulation, light to moderate sentimentality, romantic ideals, well endowment, boy on boy, repetitive anal, offering fellatio, receiving fellatio—” Because he is.
Jensen hops up, waving shushing hands. He has neighbors. They’re gray, and kind, and bake blackberry muffins.
“—category creampie, category throatfuck, category light watersp—”
“Shh!” Jensen says, reaching up to grab JAR-3D’s working jaw.
Coming back online, JAR-3D stills. He says, “Shut down my CPU manually. Lift out my right shoulder module.” They can power themselves off, reboot if necessary. JAR-3D is unable to. “I can instruct you. Hurry.” Jensen doubts he could, that he'd be able to—to take JAR-3D apart, even with JAR-3D defecting. Ctrl-Alt-Delete doesn’t really work on people either. “Shut down, shut down, shut down—”
Jensen doesn’t, and JAR-3D says at the aluminum foiled windows behind Jensen, “Jeffrey Morgan. 775 North 42nd Place. Preferences incl—”
Jensen drops his hands. Steps back.
“I can’t stop it,” JAR-3D says, his face fitful, apologetic. “Don’t listen.”
Spriggy orange flower that JAR-3D picked for him on the walk here, in a cup on Jensen’s book table. Glower, our, scour, cower, and he starts getting dressed button by button. This is an 11, but he’s trying not to think about it.
They take the 4692 bus back down to the neon district because Jensen already walks dumb without having been fucked to death seven and a half times in one extended sitting, and a man wearing a porous nose and a gold medallion is slunk in a seat halfway to the front. Two moms have a gum-stick wheel on their tot’s stroller. They watch traffic lights out the window.
JAR-3D occasionally tries to pull down Jensen’s pants, saying soft, “Touch you. Touch you. Jensen.”
Bus people are used to worse.
Jensen pats the lid to the millipede’s acrylic travel carrier there on JAR-3D’s lap, redirects JAR-3D’s attention. It works okay. JAR-3D fixates on her scooching through her coco fiber.
“Oh shoot,” DeeDee says, once she’s finished the transaction she’s on. A pixie-cut bot is carried out of the shop by a leather couple Jensen’s seen before. DeeDee gives him a penetrating look, pulls off her headwrap and after she eyeballs her largest merchandise, says simply, “It isn’t crashing, if that’s why you’re returning it early.”
He, Jensen thinks, hurt, him. But he slides a look sideways at JAR-3D still near him, who’s moved on to being verbally crude, I’ll make you wet, I can make you wet, Jensen Ackles, 312, kiss my dick.
She says nope like ‘nup’, says, “I don’t think this is kaput. Did it say ‘error’?”
Jensen shakes no. JAR-3D has said much. Not that.
DeeDee circles the companion, appraising, a blur of tangerine with her hair out of the bun. She ejects the personalization chip and taps JAR-3D’s shin, his belly button. Jensen waits. Earlobe. Nothing. But he’s still awake, ‘on’. She puts a petitely pretty hand over the machine’s substantial crotch and gives it a firm wanking compression. It makes JAR-3D’s eyebrows pleat.
She says, “now you.”
Indecency is nine letters and Jensen gets hot armpits testing the firmness of a plum with people and their carts too near but he makes himself place an unsure palm between JAR-3D’s legs like DeeDee says and they watch together as JAR-3D rushes to be a good and grateful partner, says, “Do you want to? Right now? Hi, Jensen,” holding the bug container dutifully in one hand so it doesn’t slope, attempting to hold Jensen with the other.
A vague tang to the air plucks Jensen out of his afternoon read, heaves him up off the armchair to see what now, because oh wow, what now. It’s a thick sugared scent like chewy brownies but not as pronounced, as rich.
A sort of baked goods nice-off has been going on in recent months between them and the elderly Hofsteins, pastries and pies, little fried balls filled with cream cheese on his doorstep, ribboned on thank you notes.
“Jared,” Jensen says, only a hush of voice, standing in the doorway. Just looking. He just-looks a lot.
The countertops are helter-skeltered with saucepans and whisks, a cup of sunny yolks, the almond extract they picked up last trip to the store, Jared carrying all of Jensen’s reusable shopper bags out to the sidewalk, waiting while Jensen rubberbanded the leftover coupons, tucked them back into their pouch, saying, “home?” when Jensen was all done, some extra chocolate bars, a thing of cornstarch.
A cookbook’s been thumbed open to a particular recipe, stood up on a little easel. It probably wasn’t even used; Jared probably grabbed something from his mind’s internet but he has this thing for humanisms, little fusses, novelly likes sitting outside and complaining about marsh mosquitos trying to nip him. They don’t. They don’t even know he’s there. Grandmother’s Old Fashioned Pudding, the page reads up top. Jensen full face flushes.
This isn’t reciprocation for the raisin loaf, isn’t for Mrs. Hofstein at all. Jared wants to do him.
“Pet Shop Boys released their rendition of Always On My Mind in 1987, only after a rare cover performance of this song particularly pleased the crowd,” Jared says, plastic-wrapping the pudding in a bowl, mushing it down. “Neat, yes?” It sounds like—something.
“Yes,” Jensen says, and waits for Jared to place the dish in the fridge for cooling before tugging him to their freshly laundered sheets.
Only one other of these models existed. Not an exact replica but from the same template and around the same time.
Generation Virtual V1.0, or GEN-V was a very slight miniature, DeeDee said, coffee bean hair and big, dark, soul-eater eyes, but pretty, y’know? Perfect rack, almost child sized feet.
What happened, Jensen wanted to ask. Didn’t need to when DeeDee said, “then it started in on this haywire shit. Kept trying to bite my tits, spinning around, talking really nutty statistics, nooo ma’am, and there’s only so much you can you know before you’re all clit-burned and just, body sore.” She’d glanced at Jensen a little speculatively. Made his shoes squeak when he shifted.
“Anyway, that’s the flaw,” DeeDee said, “If it forms a connection, it’s no longer suitable for community consumption. Too buggy. There’s no real science behind it, I guess.”
Oh, thought Jensen, glancing over to the small alcove he’d left JAR-3D standing at and looking into the bug carrier, rows of massage oils and hemp lubricants lined around him. DeeDee asked more, asked what he might want to do with the bot, there’s no legal obligation, it’s fine, you’re square, and it made him stop dismantling o-b-l-i-g- in his head to wonder, calm and awful, what happened to the other—
DeeDee wiped the ceiling with her eyes when the girl who usually sat in the office and answered every phone ring with DeeDee’s Dollhouse, how can we service you came up out of her rolly chair and said to DeeDee, “you so suck at storytelling,” said to Jensen, “He just wants to be with you, that’s all,” but DeeDee was suffering a smile when she corrected, “Wants you to buy him.”
Jensen just thought that girl did the bookkeeping.
Nametag: Gen, with a drawn on <3
About five feet and loose change when she stood, yellow ballerina flats on. Gen tapped her toe, didn’t disagree: “Has he never asked you to purchase his full assembly?”
Jensen shook his head, trying not to be overwhelmed, being overwhelmed still, neck cold, needing to pee from so much stress but it made him think, too, think by three syllables, think rent-to-own. That. He hadn’t—known at all.
JAR-3D, at that point, had seen twenty-six silent films plus a few foreign, and a hunk of coiled up tens and twenties pulled from the fire-safe lockbox under the bed bulged Jensen’s pants’ pocket—entirely because he’d been jealous and selfish, and hated the sick aches that came with knowing JAR-3D was sleeping with other people, and he had counted how many times he tapped each temple before he’d come to a decision and made them leave the apartment that day before their time was up.
Ten left, ten right. Hoped $608.32 was enough for a down payment.
“Guess what,” Jared says, anchored inside him, holding Jensen’s moving hips in a capable clasp, looking up at him, hair hanging in pretty ripples against the pillows. Jared has a boy of your dreams smile.
“Your iris pigmentation is somewhere between pickle and crocodile.”
The muscles in Jensen’s thighs and ass are scorch hot, his cock one big nerve. His mouth slumps open.
He makes a little sound, a receptive enough little sound, because Jared says, even more thoughtful, “or Sherwin Williams’ 6726 Talipot Palm.” Jensen slow motions a smile and Jared adds, “but superior.”
The pamphlet highlighted additional features that could now be accessed, unlocked. Sensory add-ons. Modernistic configurations and character tweaks not available for the borrowing patron, lingo adoption, slang.
Jensen read Caring For Your Sexbot once and threw it away. Jared isn’t a pet. Jared likes pets.
“What if we got a centipede, too? Maybe a cryptopid,” he said during bath time, letting Jensen use special spray on his pelvis, wash him with a little pink cloth made for babies, sudsing shampoo through Jensen’s hair and speaking about segmented bodies—and after they got out and Jensen was all pruny and satiated, Jared fine and indifferent because he’s fully submersible, Jensen wrote on the board What will you name it? and Jared said, confident in his choice, “Richard Dreyfuss.”
Jensen got the joke.
Dr. Claudine thinks Jared’s a good fit for him, calls it an assistive relationship. Jensen knows it’s more than that.
They have a tacky, burnt orange shag rug. Stop motion movie night. Sex 4—5 times a week. Jared helps keep an eye on Jensen’s easy dose pill organizer, knows when something is amiss. Jensen teaches his quick learner ASL.
“You should see you,” Jared says, kissing at Jensen’s chin, his funny ears, his pinky finger when he captures it. “I haven't found a comprehensive enough word in my database, but,” he looks frustrated, “Jensen.”
Jensen nods. He doesn’t know what the count’s up to now but he knows that nobody looks like Jared either.
“Yes,” Jensen says and lays his head on Jared’s breast bone, over the circuit board. Everyone has their quirks. “I’m glad for you, too.”