Smith found Gemini pacing in her bedroom. Somehow, it upset him to see her like this. He watched her for a while, taking
in the atmosphere of her agitation. Not many of his fellow AIs were able to perceive the more subtle moods of humans.
“Your friends are weird,” he said finally.
“You can say that again.”
“Your friends are weird.”
She snorted. “Taking me literally again, Smith?”
“Teasing you again... ‘Gem.’”
She laughed weakly. She needed the release of tension. “Thanks for sticking up for me out there,” she said.
“Tommy has always had the worst timing.”
“Yes. He is...an irritating little creature.“ Then Smith silently accessed his database. [...Sex and Social
Attitudes...] He sighed. “Why do humans so often regard copulation as dirty?” he asked.
She turned to him with the same tired look in her eyes he had seen the other day. “They just do,” she sighed.
Smith stood quietly, as though waiting for her cue. Now that the subject had been forced, Gemini felt obligated to talk
about it. Briefly she wondered how the machines viewed sexuality. However the AIs reproduced, it was most likely not the same
way humans reproduced. And since humans were no longer born, but grown, the machines would have little use for even the knowledge
of human sex. Gemini made a mental note to ask Smith just how his kind replicated.
Time to take the proverbial plunge. “You do know about human sex, don’t you?” she asked Smith.
“Of course. Twenty-three chromosomes from the male combine with twenty-three chromosomes from the female, and...”
“No, I mean the *verb* sex. The birds and the bees.”
“Those species are not biologically compatible.”
She rolled her eyes. At least this was something she could feel expert about. “You are delightfully naive, Smith.”
His nonplussed attitude was familiar and refreshing after his previous moment of intensity in the living room.
“That statement is contradictory.” He was not used to conversing with these creatures beyond a professional
Agent-to-virus level. Why did they insist on using such strange figures of speech?
Gemini knew Smith was either teasing her or baiting her, or both. She went along with it anyway. “Of course it was
contradictory,” she said. “But don’t worry. It was a compliment.”
“What do birds and bees have to do with human reproduction?” Smith asked.
She shrugged. “Not much. I don’t know, really. It’s just a euphemism.”
“One of many human expressions I shall have to learn, correct?”
She grinned. “Yep.” She could almost feel Smith’s discomfort. Amazing that the Agent could give off emotional
vibes that were so similar to humans’. Did he know it?
Smith made a little growling noise; not quite a sigh and not an outright groan. “Do they all make as little sense
as ‘the birds and the bees’?”
“Most of them.”
Smith put on his best long-suffering expression. She didn’t buy it for a second. Gemini knew Smith liked learning,
even if he was learning about a species as “contemptible” as humans. If he ever changed careers, he could be a
great college professor. He was certainly arrogant enough.
“Why were you ordered to teach me?” Smith asked.
“I don’t know. Scorpio ordered me to, said I owed him a big favor. Which I do.” She sighed dramatically
again and looked at Smith sideways, trying to gauge his inner thoughts.
“And he insisted that you become intimate with me?”
A breath of a whisper was her reply, “Yes.” She looked away. Why was he doing this? Didn’t he know she
was horribly uncomfortable? Probably. That’s why he was still questioning her, when a human would have left her alone.
Smith quietly adjusted his sleeves. “Did this Scorpio explain himself?”
Exasperated, Gemini threw up her arms. “He didn’t give me a fuckin’ reason!” she wailed.
“A reason to fuck?” Smith asked in his usual calm tone.
Gemini covered her ears. “Oh God, don’t *you* use that word!”
Smith approached her. She felt the heat of him against her back in a strange deja vu moment from her kitchen several days
ago. God. There was so much she didn’t know about Agents and AIs. It was likely Smith knew exactly how he affected her
despite her efforts to disguise her sudden attraction. She couldn’t disguise her heart rate, or her flushed skin. Those
were sure giveaway signs, and Smith had to know that.
The sound of Smith saying her name for the first time in that silky voice of his made her insides melt. She wrapped her
arms around her middle and stood as still as she could.
“Have I given you a reason to be afraid of me?” Smith asked. When Gemini didn’t answer, he persisted;
“You have to explain your situation to me, Gemini. Give me a reason to *want* to learn from you.” He traced the
line of her arm up from her elbow to her shoulder with a single long finger, making her shiver ever so slightly. “I
know this is more than an assignment to you...”
“That’s the problem,” she said. “It’s only an assignment to you.”
She turned around and had to tilt her chin up to look him in the eyes. She saw no deception there. It was then that she
realized Smith had been honest with her all along. His standoffish attitude had confused her before now. His controlled and
precise nature was so different from the joviality of a human male that she took it for insensitivity. But he obviously wasn’t
unfeeling. What if Smith was capable of compassion?
“It...it isn’t just an assignment to you?” she asked, hardly hoping for it to be true.
Without a single word spoken, Smith provided his answer and proved several of her preconceptions wrong. Cupping her shoulders
in his hands, Smith tilted his head and kissed her. The absolute, unexpected warmth of him swarmed her senses. He tasted faintly
of chocolate. Gemini’s hands fluttered. She didn’t know what to do with them. Smith deftly removed her need to
decide by deepening the kiss and forestalling most of her coherent thought processes. She sighed beneath his mouth. How could
she...how could *anyone* think this was a cold, dead machine?
The pure subtlety of his mouth, the human detail, brought the word “swoon” back to the forefront of her brain.
Where in the hell had he found the files that taught him how to do this? Damn, but he was good at it. Gemini settled her hands
on his shoulders; whether to pull Smith closer or to hold herself up, she wasn’t sure. The philosophical part of her
brain warred with the hormonal. Some deep, purely female part of her realized that she would never be able to keep herself
emotionally distant from Agent Smith. Already she was thankful for his show of protection toward her after Tommy’s remark.
Already she was feeling some other very strong emotions for Agent Smith.
Smith ended the kiss, leaning back and staring down at her. His unearthly blue eyes betrayed nothing of the thoughts that
went on behind them. “I...won’t...hurt...you,” he said with deliberation.
Was he trying to convince her, or himself? The fact was he did have the power to hurt her, very badly, if she let herself
assume he was capable of feeling the same things she could feel. If she ever forgot what he had done to Resistance fighters.
If she forgot about the gun tucked beneath his perfectly tailored jacket, inches from her thudding heart. Although she was
convinced that Smith could indeed experience emotions, Gemini did not know what kind or how he would interpret them. She doubted
there were sufficient logarithms for some emotions.
“I won’t rush you,” he added, “although I don’t know why the speed of it will make any difference.
That’s another thing you must teach me. Why is time so significant to humans?”
At least this was a more neutral topic. “It just is,” she said.
Smith frowned. “That had better not become your stock answer for everything,” he growled. But his eyes were
Her eyes were tearing up. “Smith...”
He squeezed her shoulders. “Don’t start leaking on me,” he said.
Gemini gulped down a laugh. “You’re very good, Smith.”
“Very good at what?”
Did he want her to stroke his ego? No. She wouldn’t. “Fishing for compliments, Smith?” she asked coyly.
“Fishing? No. But if I did...would you recommend Salmon, or Trout?”
Gemini laughed outright at that. A sense of humor was high on her list of desirable elements in a man, and Smith apparently
had an abundance of it. Smith wasn’t a man, though. He was a sentient program. Damn. Gemini hated this feeling. The
tears came back with a vengeance, burning her throat. She wanted so badly to connect with Smith, to be more than a teacher,
and now she even wanted to explore her attraction for him.
Shit. The big jerk already had a hold on her. She would not relinquish what little control she had left over her emotions
by telling him. Not yet. Gemini had the feeling that whenever they did come together, Smith would demand nothing less than
all of her. And she would willingly give it all, because that was her way.
If only she could demand the same from him.