Chapter Thirteen
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New Subroutines

 

Something had happened to him.

Something that nothing in his database could adequately explain. Perhaps this was what he was supposed to learn about humanity. If he could isolate it and properly analyze it, his assignment here might be finished and he would be free to leave.

Something else had happened.

He didn’t want to leave.

Smith ran another self-diagnostic. Everything was functioning within normal parameters. Several subroutines had formed new connections, and a few logarithms had been used until the point of almost overheating, but that wasn’t enough to explain why he suddenly...felt...all of this. Smith had resolved himself to feeling irritation, anger, and hatred, but he refused to accept more. Emotions were in conflict with his original programming. Agents had developed emotions before, but the phenomenon was generally regarded by the Mainframe as a threat to performance efficiency. The Mainframe had already advised a file defragment for Smith because of his inquiry into Agents and emotions.

He did not want a defragment. How much of his self would be lost if he allowed his files to be invaded and edited?

Gemini lay stretched out against him, her head resting on his chest over the Matrix-generated representation of his heart. One slender female leg was draped along the length of his, and her left arm lazily grasped his opposite shoulder. She was soft and warm, in a reality where so many things were hard and cold. Smith felt her breath...cool...travel along the bare skin of his chest. She was the picture of contentment.

She shouldn’t trust him so easily. Just one more flaw that made humanity so weak. At least Gemini was wise enough to be afraid of herself for trusting him.

However, he had repeatedly assured Gemini that he would not harm her. That imperative went beyond his original orders and to the point where he wanted no harm of any sort to come to her. The anger that had arisen at Tommy’s assault and at learning of Gemini’s prior relationship was illogical and impossible to ignore. Far beyond the usual irritation Smith had when chasing down Resistants. It had to be a glitch in his programming.

It didn’t feel like a glitch.

And there lay the problem. Gemini had told him to use his instincts. He wasn’t supposed to have instincts. The best he could do was access the limited files in his database on seduction then allow a few of his more basic files take over. Naturally, they were a different set of basic files, and quite extensive thanks to his most recent upgrade.

It was in fact a rather simple act. Something his superiors should already have been able to extrapolate, given the machines’ knowledge of human anatomy. His superiors should have told him, instead of leaving Smith to figure it out. Not the most efficient way to exchange genetic material for reproduction in Smith’s opinion, but he supposed it was the best that evolution could develop given the limited materials available.

Smith stared at Gemini’s bedroom ceiling. No silver ventilation grill, but a textured ivory quite different from his first remembered view. Was that when things had gone wrong? Smith recalled little more than images, and it took him a long time to understand that what he saw, heard, and touched was merely a simulation. Things as they truly existed were very different. The Matrix was excellent at what it did. For a while, Smith admired its complexity. He still did. But after his knowledge and perception had improved, Smith began to hate it. He hated humanity for making all of it necessary. He refused to get to know any of the creatures beyond what he had to know to hunt them. He hated them.

But Gemini liked him.

There lay another part of the problem; how did you hate someone who didn’t hate you?

“Mmmmmmmm...” Gemini’s contented sigh vibrated against his ribcage. It didn’t seem physically possible, but she snuggled even closer to him. “You’re so warm,” she murmured.

His hand was resting on her naked hip. He’d forgotten the moment he stopped finding her touch disgusting. Perhaps when he’d placed her hand in his lap. Perhaps sooner. Glitch or not, whatever had happened apparently pleased Gemini. Smith felt a disproportionate amount of satisfaction knowing he was the cause of her contentment.

“I expected a machine to be cold,” she added. “Metal components, and all...”

“Metal absorbs and retains heat more efficiently than other materials,” Smith said. “Your expectations are illogical.”

“Big surprise, you criticizing my logic.”

“Your screams created a reverberation in my auditory processors,” Smith told her.

“You mean, my screams made your ears ring? Most men would find that an ego boost.”

“I am not most men.”

She blushed. “I know.”

“Why are you blushing?”

“It was...very good.”

Smith was silent for a moment. Then, “Oh.”

She raised her head from the pillow of his chest to look at him. She looked worried. “You mean you didn’t...?”

“Didn’t what?”

“You didn’t find...pleasure in it?”

“I...suppose I did.”

She snorted. “Well, that speaks volumes for my skills.”

“I’ve never experienced pleasure before.”

Now it was her turn, “Oh.”

Smith was equally stunned. His existence had always been of the mind, his body serving only as a necessary means of interacting with humanity. Having a physical aspect to himself had never crossed his mind. Their joining had changed that. Smith was indeed fully functional, and while he had despised the concept before, his neural input had shown him something quite remarkable. Pleasure. In the presence of that, everything was different. He was beginning to understand why human beings sought pleasure at every opportunity.

Gemini resettled herself against him. If she was surprised to discover his warmth, he was equally surprised to appreciate the compliment.

Idly she trailed a finger through the moderate sprinkling of hair on his chest. “Who in the world programmed this, and why?” she asked.

“I don’t know. A Maker, probably. Does it matter?”

“No. I like it.” Pause. “I like you.”

Smith smirked. “If I had known this was all it took to gain your complacency...perhaps I should have acted sooner.”

“You enjoy giving me grief, don’t you?”

“In a harsh world, one must find amusement where one can.”

“Don’t tell me you’re a Buddhist, Smith!”

“I’m a Nietzchean.”

“You are not!”

“I’m an Existentialist.”

“You’re a pest and a lout!” Gemini rose to her elbow beside him. She stared at him. Then her eyes turned serious. “Smith...do you understand how amazing that was for me?”

“You used the word ‘magnificent.’”

“Yesssss...”

She kissed him. Once again he felt it, like a tiny jolt of electricity through his entire being, the rush after uploading a new file, or even the satisfaction of destroying one more Resistant. She’d told him to let go, to just be. Let go of what? He could tell Gemini was frustrated with trying to teach him, and he had acted finally in response to her lament that he was unteachable. The challenge of proving Gemini wrong was too much to refuse.

He touched her again. Sliding his hand slowly up her back to anchor her head to his brought a sigh from Gemini. Her tongue sneaked over his chin and she pressed herself more urgently on top of him. That must be it. Smith had simply responded to Gemini’s urgency. Once he understood that she wanted him to take some initiative, it was easy. Easy to let go.

Not so easy to stop. The jolt of electricity didn’t feel so tiny anymore. Gemini’s knee found itself in a very...interesting place. A place rich in neural receptors. Smith stopped trying to comprehend why the relatively simple act of procreation entailed so much more than reproduction. He let go.

Gemini lifted her mouth from his. “Mmmmmm...I’d hate to think of my male colleagues missing out on this,” she purred. “Are there any female Agents?”

“A few. They don’t live long.”

“How sad! Why?”

“Females are difficult to program.”

“Is that an insult or a compliment?”

“Take it as you see fit.”

She pursed her lips. “I’m not sure I like the passive you. Makes more work for me.” She trailed a lazy fingertip across his forehead and over his eyebrow. “On the other hand...having you like this...beneath me and at my mercy...it has its appeal.” She kissed the end of his nose. “You have wonderful eyebrows.”

“You’re going to wax poetic about my *eyebrows*?”

She rolled her eyes. “Remind me to teach you a lesson about how to take a compliment.”

“Thank you, Gemini. Your eyebrows are equally appealing.”

She chuckled. “You never cease to surprise me, Smith. Though it would be nicer if there was some feeling behind your compliments.”

“I’m incapable of feeling.”

“That’s bullshit. You told me you could feel me.”

“Feeling with neural receptors is different from feeling emotions.”

Gemini sighed and laid back down beside him. “Deny it all you want, Smith. I know you weren’t that indifferent...how long ago was it?”

“Approximately three hours.”

“Mmmmmmm. I’ll be sleeping in today, thank you. Not getting up before the crack of noon.” She curled up against him again. “Hold me while I sleep.”

“Why are you experiencing this urge to embrace?”

“Release of endorphins causes many females to desire closeness with their partner. Is my snuggling so repulsive to you?”

“No.”

“Good. I’d have done it even if you hated it, but it’s nice that you don’t mind. You’re actually quite cuddly.”

“I am *not* and never will be...’cuddly’.”

He felt her smile against his skin. “Maybe I’ll start calling you shnookums,” she murmured.

“You do and I’ll shoot you.”

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