Chapter Three
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You've Been Watching Me Sleep Again

 

Smith was in her recliner again. Wearing his glasses again. Gemini began to scold him, but after a closer look she realized Smith really wasn’t present in the room. He was linking, or whatever it was called when Agents spoke to each other over a distance.

Gemini knew Smith was part of a team of Agents, but she didn’t know how much they would be involved in her job here. Absently, she wondered what machine talk sounded like. Were Smith’s thoughts private, or were they constantly relayed through that earpiece?

Leaving the Agent to his Twilight Zone time, Gemini fetched a legal pad and a pen. Time to draft a report to the Watchers. She’d been putting it off for days. Living with Smith had become a series of fascinating discussions, an exercise for her mind that she was loathe to taint with the formality of a report to her group. Smith kept her on her proverbial intellectual toes. She liked that. Since the Watchers were few and scattered, she was low on a supply of folks to philosophize with. Everyone was busy observing this or recording that. Everyone was busy watching. Her group worked hard documenting what happened in the Matrix.

She couldn’t begrudge them that. She really couldn’t. Even the machines put some value in the observations her group made. Obviously they used the information for purposes all their own, purposes not nearly so benevolent as the Watchers’ intent to see and record. But, it was one thing keeping Gemini and others like her alive. The AIs wanted something that the Watchers could provide; it was illogical to destroy one’s inside source of information.

Sighing, Gemini began with writing the mundane things into her report. She and her Agent had talked about gender-specific clothing, breakfast, and sunglasses. After a while, Smith began concocting a big Question for the Day. Then he acted put-upon when he had to participate in the discussion. Gemini decided he was trying to act the machine equivalent of macho. Aloof, superior attitudes didn’t work with her when they came from real men, so the AI had no chance.

She wrote about Smith’s confusion over the concept of humor. He was actually quite funny. He just didn’t know it yet. Agents were very good straight men. Too bad most people were too busy running from them to discover that.

No sounds pervaded her little world except the scratching of her pen over the paper and the ticking clock in the kitchen. Gemini loved quiet moments such as this. Time seemed to stretch forever. For her, that was the gift of knowing about the Matrix. Time. She never seemed to run out of it.

She reflected on her first impressions of Agent Smith. Since the day he’d arrived at her door, he was civil, if not polite. Hostility and a subtle reluctance to behave radiated from him. He was...undeniably masculine as well, and Gemini found it interesting that an AI could have a gender identity. Of course that should make her task easier in the future. She still wasn’t ready for it, though.

She got the impression that first day that Smith was tempted to draw his gun and vent his frustration on her little home. The fact that he didn’t was a credit to his intelligence. Over the following few days, she’d realized that Smith was covering something with his hostility. She didn’t know what yet.

“You’re quite a creature,” she mumbled to the unaware Smith.

They’d formed a truce of sorts, based on mutual, if grudging, respect. Well, that was part of her personality. Scorpio, the head of the Watchers, once told her she had “an excessive amount of compassion.” Gemini chose to take that as a compliment. Now she would be tested in those areas of her Self. She had to find compassion for this Agent. Even when he was viewed by many as the most recent incarnation of Evil.

She practically heard Smith blink as he returned to consciousness. He removed his glasses and looked at her. He had an unhealthy habit of staring. Gemini ignored it. Practice ignoring the stare-rays of countless pets came in handy. She finished her thought on paper before meeting Smith’s stare.

“You’ve been watching me sleep again,” she said.

She’d caught him before; staring at her in the dark bedroom through his dark glasses. The first time she’d woken up and seen him, she’d nearly had a heart attack. The second time, she threw a spare pillow at his head, rolled over and went back to sleep. Sometimes her subconscious sensed his presence and incorporated him into her dreams. So far they hadn’t been too disturbing, and she figured if Smith wanted to learn about her snoring he was welcome to watch her sleep.

“What did you dream?” he asked, unfazed by her abrupt accusation.

“That is a personal question, and you shouldn’t ask it,” she said.

“What did you dream?” he asked again.

She made a face. “Jerk.”

“Virus.”

She smiled. This part of their relationship was actually fun. “You need to find more creative insults...you stupid bastard.”

“My parentage is irrelevant, since I have none. I win.”

“You don’t win!”

His eyes gleamed. “What did you dream?”

Throwing up her hands with a groan, Gemini left her legal pad and went in search of lunch. Who knew Agents had a sense of humor? Not her, before six days ago.

Smith followed her into the kitchen. “Did you dream about Belle again?”

She whirled on him with a death look. “How do you know about Belle?!”

“You called out the name in your sleep two nights ago.” Tilting his head, he asked, “Why are you defensive about it?”

She explained. Belle was her best friend. An angel in feline form. It had been less than a year since Belle went to play with that big yarn ball in the sky. Gemini still missed her.

“Why do humans form emotional attachments to animals and things?” Smith asked.

Suddenly very tired, Gemini leaned a hip against the kitchen counter. “We just do,” she sighed.

“Belle wasn’t *real*,” Smith said. “You know that. She was part of the Matrix.”

“She was real to me!”

Smith had the good sense not to continue the debate. It was apparent what she had dreamed about, and that she was defensive about it. More human irrationality. He wished they had logic circuits.

They’d been living together for six days. Correction: they had existed beneath the same roof without killing each other for six days. It wasn’t living, even by the sparse requirements of a sentient program. More than once, he’d been tempted to fry a transistor trying to understand this female. They’d talked a lot. It gave Smith a chance to observe her. He knew her mannerisms, what she liked for breakfast, and that she was nearly as reluctant to accept her teaching assignment as he was to learn from humanity. What was the euphemism...? ‘Like two peas in a pod.’ Smith saw no relevance in that saying. It was just as strange as everything else human was.

An uneasy truce had indeed formed between them after the encounter in her kitchen that first morning. Smith tactfully refrained from the subject of underwear. But he would bring it up again. His curiosity was just too strong. For now, though, he watched her eat. It was interesting for some reason. She was interesting for some reason.

“Why doesn’t my staring bother you?” he asked from his usual place in the kitchen doorway.

“I’ve had worse species than you stare at me while I eat,” she answered. “Dogs and cats have made sad eyes at me, my pig looked at me cross-eyed, rats and hamsters have beady little eyes, and my turtle...well, turtles don’t blink.”

“You’ve had all those pets?”

Gemini smirked at him. “And more. You wouldn’t understand.”

Smith could understand, at least about the reference to terrible species. Most of the time he felt he was in a zoo. A zoo filled with billions of creatures, all of them running loose. And he, as a zookeeper, was fighting a losing battle to keep things contained. He sighed. Gemini looked up at the sound, frowning. She wouldn’t understand. Sometimes his whole existence made him...tired. Smith was better than this. He didn’t belong in the Matrix. He was faster, stronger, smarter even than most of his colleagues. His programming was too extensive for him to be satisfied as a mere watchdog. Even though his bark and his bite were extremely effective, Smith wanted something more than the life of an Agent. It was boring.

“I do understand,” he said finally, quietly. “The Matrix is my menagerie. And they’re all more or less running loose,” he added, attempting some humor.

Gemini was very still for a long moment. Almost as still as an Agent could get. The expression fell from her face. Finally, she asked, “Did you have a nice chat with your team just now?”

That was a definite hint to change the topic of conversation. It was difficult to suppress his dual sensations of surprise and satisfaction at the female’s reaction. Deciding to err on the side of tact, Smith replied, “Agent Brown requested to know what your apartment looks like. I uploaded him a schematic of the building. Agent Jones inquired as to the significance of your pseudonym. I informed him I would ask you.”

“Brown and Jones, hmm? They sound fascinating.” Her tone told him she meant the opposite. Sarcasm was an interesting human concept. “Will I get to meet them?” she asked.

“You want to meet them?” That was a surprise Smith didn’t bother to hide.

She nodded. “Curiosity killed the cat,” she quipped. “Tell them both hi for me, and tell Jones that Gemini was my mother’s birth sign. That’s the short answer, at least. You can tell him more later.”

Smith arched an eyebrow at her. She was an amusing little thing. Incorrigible. Right then he decided it wasn’t so terrible coexisting with her.

Gemini finished her lunch with a smack. “Time for dessert,” she announced to the table. Looking up at the Agent in her doorway with a gleam in her grey eyes, she asked, “Do you want some chocolate?”

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