Chapter Fourteen
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Not A Recreational Sport

 

Shit.

She was in serious danger of falling in love.

Ye gods, Smith wasn’t even *trying* to be handsome and charming! If anything, he wanted to be the opposite. She’d never worked so hard to convince a guy to make love to her. Hadn’t Smith been ordered to become intimate with her? What was with all the reluctance? Surely he had known the mechanics of it. It wasn’t that difficult to figure out: Tab A fits into Slot B and away we go...

“You really know how to pick ‘em, don’t you, Gem?” she muttered to herself.

The worst possible person to love was Agent Smith. She wasn’t angry with him, though. Oh, no. In fact, Gemini was amazed by Smith’s performance. Amazed, astounded, astonished, and other words that didn’t start with A. Like F for fulfilled. W for wonderful.

S for stupid. She was so stupid to even contemplate having feelings for Smith.

Sometime around eleven this morning she’d awakened feeling cold. The source of cold was Smith, lying motionless beside her. His eyes were closed, and he didn’t seem to be breathing. It must be the Agent’s version of sleep...recharging...whatever. Gemini was too creeped out to test for a heartbeat. She slid out of bed and into some snuggly sweats. Then it was into the kitchen in search of a warm drink.

Gemini sat at the kitchen table, staring into her mug of tea. The cat, having been fed, wound herself around Gemini’s legs a few times in thanks, then found a sunny spot in the living room. The human wished she could warm up as easily. If there was still a God inside or outside of the Matrix, a God that cared about His creation, why did He let this happen? Gemini knew she would get emotionally involved. She knew her foolish heart would pull its old stunt and attach itself to the person she slept with. Usually that wasn’t a problem.

Usually the person she slept with wasn’t an Artificial Intelligence.

Shit.

A knock on the front door startled Gemini out of her funk. Tyger grinned at her friend through the peephole. Sighing, Gemini let her in. She really wasn’t in the mood for socializing, but she could never turn Tyger away. Tyger was her oldest friend, from before she learned about the Matrix and became Gemini.

Naturally, Tyger noticed Gemini’s mood, but before she could comment, she noticed the cat and had to coo over it for a while. “What a pretty kitty! What’s her name?” She scratched the soft place behind one grey, pointed ear and earned a purr for her efforts.

“Circuit.”

“What?”

“Smith named her.” Gemini’s attempt to sound nonchalant fell quite short of the mark. “She likes him. More than me, I think.”

Tyger was gaping. “The Agent named her? I’d have thought Agents ate cats.”

“That’s Klingons,” Gemini sighed. “Agents don’t eat.”

Tyger stopped stroking Circuit to regard her friend with a more critical eye. “Something’s happened,” she said slowly. Gemini blushed. “Oh. My. You...and Smith...you finally did the deed?” At her friend’s sheepish nod, Tyger grinned. “Good for you! It’s been a long time since you got laid.” Tyger gestured toward the kitchen. “Come on, it’s girl talk time. I want details.”

With Gemini too stunned to object Tyger took over the kitchen and made hot cocoa for both of them. Today was a cool day in the Matrix, and Tyger had noticed that her friend looked especially chilly. Circuit sensed her new human’s discomfort and invited herself onto Gemini’s lap where she sat at the kitchen table. Maybe the feline wouldn’t play favorites, after all.

“I take it he isn’t built like a Ken doll, then?”

Gemini groaned. “Please, don’t.”

“Why all the sad face?” Tyger asked as she handed her friend a steaming mug of the Best Cocoa in the Matrix. “Usually my tasteless jokes cheer you right up.”

Might as well drop the bomb while it was fresh. “I think I’m falling in love with him,” Gemini said.

Tyger nearly dropped her mug. “How in the high holy hell could you let that happen?”

“I didn’t mean to! Smith doesn’t try to be funny and charming and gorgeous...but dammit, he is. I mean, last night, he...ohhh...” Gemini trailed off as her face turned the same shade of pink as her mug. She covered her face with her hands. “And he’s good with cats, too.”

“He was good? Last night?”

“He was magnificent. I actually used that word! You know it’s...difficult for me to...peak. Not last night. Hell, I couldn’t stop it! Smith...he brings out this frantic, primal thing in me. I was blown away, Tyger. He even held me afterward. But, this morning...” She recounted waking up next to a cold Smith.

“You knew what he was to begin with.” Tyger took Gemini’s hands in her own. “Stop the angsting, Gem. Just enjoy it. The world is sad enough without us adding our own misery to it.” A thoughtful pause. “You always did take sex more seriously than the rest of us.”

Gemini yanked her hands away. “That’s how it should be! Sex isn’t a recreational sport.”

Tyger grinned. “You say that because you’ve never tried it that way.”

“I did try it ‘that way’ once...” Sigh. “Well, you know my track record. Physical and emotional intimacies are linked for me. That’s how I get hurt. Why the fuck did Scorpio make me do this?!”

“He’s a sadist. He gets off on making other people suffer. And, as Marco says, ‘Scorpio is overcompensating for an extraordinary lack of huevos.’”

Gemini laughed. That sounded just like Marco. It reminded her that she hadn’t yet made a report to the Watchers. Damn Scorpio. He’d want to know specifically about their pillow talk. And that was only his personal perverse agenda. He’d told her that the machines also wanted something, and she was going to provide it. She was going to teach an Agent about everyday human life. According to Mr. Sadist Scorpio, that specifically included sex. He wouldn’t say whether the AIs had requested sex. Regardless, it was an opportunity, Scorpio said. Gemini would be a great teacher.

Yeah. Right. Read “sacrificial lamb” in place of “teacher” and the analogy would fit better. Scorpio had never liked her. When he’d taken over as leader of the Watchers, the first thing he did was transfer Gemini from her position of quiet background observation to more active duty running with actual Resistance missions. Obviously, she never got into fights when they did, and although she carried a weapon she couldn’t recall ever actually using it. Unless they were idiots, the Resistants knew who and what she was and let her do her own thing. She was there to observe and record as an impartial party. She was a Watcher, therefore she was neutral.

Whenever they came across an Agent, Gemini had a tiny portable signal beacon that transmitted her Watcher status. It said she wouldn’t interfere with the Agents’ job, and in return she wouldn’t be harmed. It saved her a lot of running. Sometimes Resistants got resentful. They called her a sell-out to the machines. And worse. Gemini didn’t let it bother her most days. She’d made her choice. She’d agonized about it enough that the Resistants’ attempted guilt trips generally didn’t upset her.

“You’re thinking about the bastard, aren’t you,” Tyger said. She tried to keep her voice gentle. “I’m so sorry, but he’s actually the reason I’m here, Gem. Scorpio wants your report.”

“Are you his new flunkie, Ty?”

“That’s not fair. You don’t understand.” Tyger stood and paced the small kitchen. She wasn’t looking at Gemini. “I’ve been promoted. I didn’t have time to tell you the other day, but I’m Scorpio’s second now.”

Circuit noticed the human’s sudden tension and decided to take her leave of the warm lap before she was shoved off. Gemini glared at her old friend. How could Tyger do this? She was her one staunch supporter in a group that took the concept of loyalty far too loosely. Tyger had helped her come to terms with the shocking reality of the Matrix. Now she was Scorpio’s deputy?

“Get out!”

Tyger looked close to tears. “Gem...”

Gemini stomped to the door and flung it open. “Now!”

“What do I tell Scorpio?”

“Tell him to cram it. Tell him I had sex with Smith, and it was wonderful. I’m ruined for all other men forever. Tell Scorpio that his little plan to humiliate me failed. Now, get out!”

Tyger stared at Gemini from across the small apartment, a look of sorrow and regret plain on her face even from a distance. She knew the animosity that existed between Gemini and Scorpio, and it hurt to add herself to Gemini’s revenge list. But Tyger knew when to get out of a situation. That knowledge had kept her alive for a lot longer than most Watchers. Tyger left her friend to fume and hopefully calm down enough for them to talk sometime later. The pains of love were hard to take in a “normal” relationship, but in a relationship with an AI? That was uncharted territory. Tyger did not envy Gemini the challenge.

Circuit stared at the human that fed her holding the door and sensed the other human’s sadness. Instead of getting involved with their stupid human concerns, Circuit decided to wash herself. There was no crisis that couldn’t be solved after a brisk washing.

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