Filament - A Daft Punk Fanfiction
Lengthwise across his silver hand falls the setting sun.
We're the good guys, aren't we?
Guy sits up with a start. The wires coming off him tauten uncannily and the silver robot hurries to adjust them, emitting a small anxious beep as he attempts a soothing touch on the shoulder. His efforts are unappreciated as a row of question marks blinks across Guy's golden helmet, first quick and distorted, before settling into just the one. It's all he needs, but the force behind his question is stronger.
Thomas ducks his head. In the narrative of our lives.
The gold robot waits. His machinery is whirring on full power, which is distractingly loud, not to mention unnerving to hear when half of him lies pried open for upgrades. Do you think it's good, what we do? Thomas states after a long pause. Is it a good thing we want, what we strive towards?
That does not touch your process. That's a common way for Guy to reject questions altogether. He prods his index finger lightly against the top of Thomas's hand, metal clinking against metal. Clarification: can we even be villains in our own narrative? Has your confidence in what we need to do faltered?
Thomas’s head lowers even further. Unknown.
Guy continues to think very hard about it. After a while, he thinks he understands. Thomas is finishing his upgrades in silence; once the first panel on his chest is shut, Guy makes a soft noise to attract his attention, and clasps his silver hand in both of his golden ones as soon as Thomas looks up.
Come. He says across their network, surrounded by a gentle melody and bits of data he spared for this kind of occasion, the equivalent of the softest smile that he can manage. Let's relax for a while.
They won’t be able to relax like this again for some time. He’s more than earned it. Thomas considers, his helmet under the pale bulb throwing silverscale glimmers against the wall.
Let me close you up first, he replies, and turns Guy's hand so he can kiss it.
It sparks. An admission of sentiment, and his hopes for the future.
They're on a quest, the two of them.
Preparing for one, anyway. This downtime is the last they'll get before they set out for better pastures. In the corner of this chamber lies a pile of supplies: tools, engine oil, spare parts, literature, enough to keep two robots occupied for months.
But the most important component lies within themselves. They'll need to move about a lot, hence this heavy-duty upgrade on their batteries: they'll be able to hold a charge for days without a cable when they're done. Guy's trying it out first, and he'll install it for Thomas if it works. Part of his anxiety comes from the trepidation, Thomas suspects, of seeing Guy's inner parts exposed for the past ten hours: robots don't mind being scattered as long as they can be reassembled, but they're still not in the business of seeing friends split open for a long time. He’s very relieved when he clicks the final panel shut and Guy pulls him up on the workbench beside him, his grip blissfully firm all over his shoulders, his back, circling where his ports are. How wonderfully strong he is, how reassuringly intact.
And how, dear Monsieur, are you feeling? He sings to Guy, tracing the edge of his golden helmet with the tip of his finger. Relaxing is good, but we could do with troubleshooting here and there.
Battery 100%, 170 hours remaining. Core temperature normal. All functions normal: no issues with somatic senses, balance, proprioception, nor audio-visual processes. And that's all Guy offers as analysis, preferring to demonstrate the rest. He pulls playfully at the last cable attached to him. For example, I perceive this should go somewhere else.
Thomas hums pleasantly as he takes the cable and spins it between his fingers. You realize, of course, that this upgrade increased your capacity for accumulating energy – and your corresponding stamina.
I'll show you full stamina, all right.
A faint glissando emits from Thomas's vocalizer in an imitation of a laugh. His screen flashes quickly, first bright red, then in mirthful golden sparks; he feels along the back of Guy's helmet, where two ports are available, and gently slots the cable into the leftmost port.
Delayed pleasure. Guy feels nothing from this yet, nor from the other cables Thomas summons from beneath the workbench – that’s for when they're connected to one another. The most he feels is raw movement, both of things sliding into him, and of Thomas's touch over his skin. The gears of imagination are turning, but lewdness takes time to cook.
Guy nods. Thomas lays out the cables and takes off his jacket, pressing the back of his neck to uncover his own port. The moment he slots the first cable into himself, a jolt runs down Guy's spine, and he shivers with a delightful sigh. He rests his helmet against Thomas's and the silver robot pats his shoulder. Did you dream while you were recharging?
Guy hums softly. In lieu of words he sends Thomas the melodies from before, this time accompanied by a series of images. None of them are concrete, for robots have no definite language of dreams: across Guy's screen scrolls quick waves along the x-axis followed by abstract pixelated swirls, and whether they mean moods or omens or electric sheep Thomas does not know, save for the fact Guy must have gone underwater beautifully.
I felt your touch. I like it that it's all over me. So pray, continue.
They press hands together. Guy has always admired Thomas's hands: sleek, elegant, even youthful. Their artificial skin yields to a supple softness first, then a whole fine-tuned network of sensors, skating across the surface like jolts of pale fire. Feeling bold, Guy brings his hand against his helmet, bumping it in an imitation of a kiss or nuzzle or what you will. Your hands. Oh, your hands, Thomas. I felt them all night.
It's not just the upgrade he means. It's the possibility. How suavely Thomas touches him, surveying the dips of his spine with severity one moment and tracing the smooth curve of his hip the next. Guy beeps in agitation as Thomas cups his backside: again, it's not the sensation that makes magic, rather the manner with which Thomas clutches him, supporting him upon his lap and the fingers of his other hand digging into his thigh. Learned behaviour. An admirable relic, even, from human beings.
What is the plan, Guy asks.
Objective: shutdown and restart. Thomas is very honest, for he reflects everything around him exactly as they are. From the way he fixates on Guy, and leans in to physically hold onto more of him, Guy can tell he's not too bad, himself. I want to keep you here for now, as I like your weight upon mine. After that, we should switch our relative positions.
Clarify statement. Inquiry or declaration?
Thomas ignores him. He reaches up to tease the end of the cable connected to Guy's helmet instead, making him squirm. I should like to bend you over. I should like to adjust those so I may keep you there. A little tug, which succeeds in provoking a melodic sigh from his partner. Forget a restart. I should like to degauss you so thoroughly that I am the only thing you remember when you return, and barely at that.
This, however, does not have the effect Thomas desired. All sensuality melts out of Guy's demeanour as he processes what was just said: he suddenly falls radio silent across the network, and he crosses his arms, and cocks his head so he fixes Thomas in the equivalent of a hard stare. Pillow talk shouldn't be existential. They had one rule.
[THAT IS THE MOST
I HAVE HEARD
IN A LONG TIME
GO SIT IN THE CORNER
AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE]
Thomas chuckles, holding his hands up in surrender. Forgive me.
Guy is unmoved. But Thomas knows his partner so well; Guy's quick to irritate but as quick to soothe, and that makes him highly receptive to Thomas's wiles. So no, he doesn't have to sit in the corner, and when Guy relaxes his posture, the last of his anxieties melt away like ice. Guy sighs playfully through the network and quirks his index towards him.
Mm, is Thomas's response, pulling him close. Oui, Monsieur.
They embrace for a while. Guy is lovely to hold. Warmer than Thomas, in spades; his body smaller, but well-built; the tilt of his head slow and luxuriant, as well as just about every movement he makes.
Thomas likes that Guy looks the way he actually is. Thoughtful, warm, strong. Thomas is smooth and lithe, but that exterior hides a far more anxious and severe personality than he could confess. He is a world only Guy knows, a fact his partner is eager to remind him with as he brushes Thomas's wrist with his fingers. Thomas shivers and looks down at him.
They make sure they can't get tangled while changing their relative positions. Guy moves off him to lean against the edge. Thomas inserts the second cable in a port located on his right-hand side, just above the small of his back, and places it in the same spot for Guy so the cable will move nicely with them. All very logical, but the sensuality is in the way Thomas does it like a thief in the night. First his hand, sneaking against Guy's hip; his nimble fingers feeling out the correct port, while happily caressing the slight depression of the others; his other hand, soothingly petting the back of Guy's helmet, before abruptly grabbing his shoulder and bending him over the workbench.
Don't move, he sings, getting the third and fourth cable in swiftly, denying Guy all but the slightest push-pull of data until their right side is covered. It's not until he presses his torso against Guy's that he allows for the trickle to resume, the thematic melody mingled with snapshots of memory, recalling all the previous times they've done this. Happiness spreads like a green vine through them, stretching fine tendrils, tangling flowers between every sensor and wire.
And oh, he goes so slow. His arm curls around Guy's waist as he pushes, his weight settling hot atop Guy's own. When Guy looks like he's about to squirm, Thomas shushes him with a chirp, playfully circling the other's wrist with a cable and pinning him down. Friction has no particular bearing on their pleasure, but he moves so much like a human already. The thought gets a motor whirring deep inside Guy's body, but also makes him consider what Thomas asked before. Now he can answer.
I don't call this villainy, he whispers.
Thomas pauses, startled. Yes, I think we want good things, Guy continues. He turns his helmet slightly to look at Thomas, his screen at maximum brightness, an obsidian glow in the darkness. We're the good guys, and in ways beyond our own narrative. So you needn't worry I will think poorly of you. Where you go, I go.
His fingers flex against the surface of the bench. Clenches, finding a grip to brace himself.
Our search has meaning, Thomas. So please, let us go together to seek where fires begin.
Validation is a powerful drug for man and metal alike. Thomas makes his elation immediately evident: data rushes forth in rapid bursts where he'd hesitated before as he seizes Guy and tumbles to the floor, rolling him onto his back, climbing atop him and straddling his thighs. Burying his head against Guy's shoulder, he plants tiny kisses in sparks, alternating with the tiniest touches down Guy's stomach where static prickles at his skin. When he tries to wriggle free, Thomas plants his arms firmly by his shoulders, preventing his escape. Guy offers playful resistance.
Ah, you mustn't, he cries, but his voice has the peculiar tone that invites one to go on as much as to stop. His left hand tightens around Thomas's arm as he reaches up with the right, tangling his fingers between the cables. The wires stretch taut behind Thomas and a moan vibrates through his entire body, and Guy feels it too, and reciprocates.
These cables, these limbs. His Guy-Manuel. These are the filaments binding Thomas to his life, and he wants to delight in his joy and exist as brightly as he can.
He wants to see. He places a hand beneath Guy's helmet, raising his head slightly.
Beg for me, Guy. I want you to beg.
All order flies out of the window. Tangling?
Don't mind if we do.
Silver hands reach out, fondling ports, while golden hands stutter between shoulder and hips. Guy's the quiet one, august in matters of begging, but even he can't hold it in as their interfacing deepens. Thomas teases his lower ports with the metallic tip of a cable, as low as he can possibly go, and from the depths of him comes a noise halfway between choking and a scream; he realizes a second too late he's scrolling obscenities on his screen and covers his face with both hands, his cry turning into a high-pitched whine. Thomas is so overcome he can't see straight. He shoves the last of their cables into whichever ports they'll go, and pushes his weight between the other's thighs as he forces Guy's hands apart, locking their fingers together and pinning them down to reveal the message beneath.
Beautiful, so beautiful. Thomas takes the lead with a hum that vibrates through Guy's entire body, morphing into a purr as Guy responds with his own melody, staccatoed throughout with bursts of data. Most of it is meaningless, save for the speed and intensity with which Guy sends them. There might’ve been some human pornography in there. Thomas is torn between wanting to laugh hysterically and enacting what he's seen, and eventually compromises on a triple layer of beats that makes Guy’s limbs thrash about helplessly.
Times like this, Thomas wants nothing more than take Guy apart.
It's not malicious. Call it transcendental desire. He wants to pry his fingers underneath the golden plates on Guy's body, touch inner wiring, entwine the metal of his being with Guy's own in the search for something deeper. Their pleasures are largely abstract – dataflow expressed in soundwaves and beats – and their physical expression limited, but those humans, they can enter one another when they're in love. Thomas wants that. He wants to be freely enmeshed in Guy's body and that shouldn't be so strange to a robot, but it is.
Guy has read what he's thinking. Soon, he promises, his calm and dolorous tone echoing softly over their music. For now, please, dive inside as deep as you can, deeper, deeper-
Thomas obliges, his screen glitching with static. Pleasure leaps through Guy again like a savage fever. They can't maintain this for much longer, they're about to overheat; Guy will only surrender to the void if Thomas comes with him, and that means no giving up just yet. They're trying to create something here. They have a duty to finish.
Music is the only thing they can truly create, and woven irreversibly with music is sound. Every utterance in the world has a corresponding tone to the robots: they adore every note and sigh and scream as much as they love the physical self, and all of that is music, the thing that comprises the fabric of their being.
"I love you." Thomas gasps through his vocalizer. That's music too, and Guy strives to seize it with harmonies of his own: I love, love, love you, every syllable pounding to the beat. And that's when it comes: the words are erased by the tingling and terrifying pleasure that spreads in waves from Thomas's cable over the back of his neck, his shoulders, down his spine and the length of his body. They're melting, sinking, splitting into pieces. Guy's arms are tight around Thomas, and he is conscious of Thomas and nothing else, of Thomas's hand sliding along his ribs. His cries go unheard as his vocalizer glitches and cuts out; they are felt, however, before they fall apart into meaningless bytes, for Thomas has chosen to take the brunt of the overload. With all the processing power he can muster, he pushes through one final burst of data and lets himself fall apart.
Guy has never heard Thomas scream that loud before. It actually startles him into consciousness, though not long enough to initiate cooldown. Too late for that. Their screens flash blue and go blank as all sound ceases and they both crash upon the floor.
Restart takes a good five minutes, and only one robot makes it online. Guy can barely move until he's cleared the error-message popups and subjects himself to a diagnostic check. His limbs are trembling when he finally sits up, awkwardly detangling himself from the cables until he realizes Thomas is still collapsed. He's alarmed for a moment, but when a scan confirms the obvious – depleted battery – he chuckles, and pulls Thomas's unconscious form close, laying his head on his chest.
"Good." It takes a moment for him to form words, but soon they clear his vocalizer beautifully, warm with the faintest metallic tinge throughout. "We had a good run of it, for sure."
Perhaps he knew, even then. Perhaps everything Guy did from then on were attempts to stave off the inkling their journey was doomed. Even so, he'll always choose to remember this event like how it felt at the time: the last moment of authentic passion he shared with the partner who kissed him and left him and died. He'd thought those sensations would feel different in a human body, he'd anticipated getting to know them anew – but eventually, he'll suppose that it just wasn't meant to be.
That's for much later, though. Later than he knows it. What follows this moment is simply that Guy takes charge. He puts the cables and tools aside, and connects Thomas to the nearest wall socket, nodding when the other's screen lights up with the charging animation. He was up all night working on Guy, he must have been running very low. Still, thanks to his efforts, Guy won't need to suffer the same. He gazes where Thomas's new battery winks at him under the light, at the new components beside it, and feels something like a coldwater itch run down his back. He reaches behind him and feels about.
Plexiglass panel. His arm isn't long enough for him to open it, but he's reassured by its presence. There's no feeling left in that space anymore, which is a pity – he so loved having his whole back stroked – but this new upgrade grants them dignity beyond measure, should they need it. Turns out having a simmering power source inside one's body enables one to do far more than to walk the earth. Nodding, Guy sits down and flicks through the various notes Thomas made earlier. There’s a map. With one gold-tipped finger he traces the width of the continent, and looks back at the silver robot, slumbering peacefully.
He knows no more about Thomas's dreams than the latter knows about his. He hopes he's having a good one.
Maybe it's of the sex they've just had. It'd be very human of him. Guy has heard humans are creatures of nostalgia, dwelling on memories that'll never return; apparently this is because they never remember one memory the same every time, and although Guy will miss the consistency, he's willing to endure whatever distortion a human mind provides.
For Thomas. Only Thomas.
There will come a time when we see through a glass clearly, he muses, gazing down at where his finger rests as their final destination: Independence, California, a haven for the human experience. Soon we'll be unfettered from this body, and we'll touch and feel as our once-creators did, and we'll meet one another in our dreams.
I want to see you. They say brown eyes are the kindest. I should like to see you smile.
If that is my reward for agreeing to flesh and blood, oh, Thomas, I can't wait.
He bends his head. Sweeps his hand where Thomas's forehead would be, had he flesh and blood and the curly brown hair he'd like. Kisses him again, with that gentle spark like stars, or jewels, or life.
"See you soon, my love."
They do. And they don't.