Fantasy Science Fiction posted May 31, 2019


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Finding Hope

by Y. M. Roger

The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.


The morning sun streamed through the blinds, and its warmth spread across her cheeks in lines. Danielle just lay there at first, enjoying the parallel sensations of warmth and not, as she listened to her husband’s rhythmic breathing beside her. She peeked out one eye and turned her head slowly to the side – Eli’s high cheek bones and almost perfect ginger complexion registered as her anchor in their shared world. She let out a sigh of contentment and turned back toward the ceiling, taking care to verify the shape of the missing ‘popcorn pieces’ – their subtle pattern of the dancing dolphin never failed to bring a smile to her face.
 
This was their home – hers and Eli’s – the place where she belonged. Another cleansing breath brought in both clean, invigorating air and a sudden sense of urgency…
 
The letter.
 
Danielle’s mind rushed into full awareness as she rolled toward the bedside table. Quietly opening the top drawer, she withdrew the very official, legal-sized envelope. Sitting up slowly and carefully so as not to disturb Eli, she leaned against the headboard to examine it for what she recalled as the eighth, perhaps ninth, time.
 
The letter had arrived yesterday while Eli was busy in his office workshop. She chuckled to herself in silence as she glanced over at his freckles in that symmetrical pattern near his nose – was her workaholic husband ever anywhere else besides there or his antique telephone booth? Shaking her head at her own fun yet true mental observations, she ran her fingers along the handwriting on the envelope.
 
Her handwriting.
 
She tried to understand the surge in what could only be identified as excitement she felt at knowing that she had initiated this – she had gone to that job fair, and she had taken that written exam. The picture was right there in her memory.
 
At the test’s conclusion, all applicants had been asked to fill out an envelope addressed to themselves. The envelope would be used to notify the applicants as to either an interview date or a polite ‘thank you for applying’.
 
Thirty year old Danielle Olivaw-Bailey had her first job interview day after tomorrow.
 
A broad smile bloomed easily across her beautiful face as the thought of performing that which she enjoyed in exchange for compensation created a brightness inside that she could not deny.  The comparison her mind drew to the feeling was the time the veterinarian had told them the odds of their cat, Asimov, surviving after it had been attacked last year had been very good. Yes, Danielle nodded to herself, exactly like that. She continued her musings and comparisons until the deep timbre of Eli’s voice drew her from them.
 
“Good morning, Beautiful.” His voice seemed to vibrate against her skin’s awareness even before he reached over to touch her arm. “You’re up early.” Eli indicated the envelope in her hold. “Everything okay?”
 
From their point of contact, the usual flare of recognition surged through Danielle’s body, and she nodded at both its familiarity and in response to Eli’s question. She tried to tamp down the smile on her face, but it refused to be deterred.
 
“Yes, Eli.” She transferred her gaze from his hand resting on her thigh to his handsome face framed by that unruly morning hair. “Everything is just fine.”
 
She swung her focus back to the envelope, the fascination with her handwriting thereon returning.
 
“What’s this, Danni?” Eli began to sit up as he reached toward the envelope.
 
Danielle’s grip on the paper increased slightly, and Eli paused. He looked at her quizzically, his expression intense but not harsh, as her smile seemed to falter.  She did not meet his eyes, only continued to pass her finger over the written address. She swallowed hard as if searching for the correct words.
 
Elijah Bailey waited with the endless patience that defined him.
 
Finally, she raised her eyes to meet his, and he was fascinated by the depths therein. Gently, he pushed some hair from her face to behind her ear, allowing his hand to remain on her cheek. He so appreciated this new spark in her being.
 
“I have a job interview, Eli.” Her voice had an unexpected lilt to it this morning, and Eli smiled. As usual, Danielle smiled in return.
 
“That’s wonderful.” Their mutual enthusiasm fed one off the other. “Tell me how you feel, Danni.”
 
Danielle took the time to explain all of her thoughts and feelings regarding the letter and the interview – simply put, she enjoyed the quiet times she had just with Eli. She enjoyed not only returning his expressions of interest but also memorizing them and filing them away for when he was working the long hours in his workshop. Her explanation was as detailed as it was intriguing.
 
As her explanation wound down, she read that little spark of mischief in Eli’s eyes and leapt from the bed just as he lunged for her. She looked even more perfect standing beside the bed, her negligee covering next to nothing as the light streamed through it and around her curves.
 
Bouncing on her toes and giggling – a childlike action that Eli treasured for more reasons than the visual enjoyment – Danielle challenged him.
 
“Last one in the shower cooks breakfast!” 
 
She took off toward their bathroom before he’d had the chance to extricate himself from their bedcovers.
 
Hearing Danni fiddling with the shower and gathering their towels, Eli stepped into the den and made a few adjustments to the equipment inside the antique telephone booth there. Satisfied with the resultant readouts in comparison to those on his wristband, he closed and sealed the doors and turned toward the bathroom to join his Danni.
 
After only two steps, however, Asimov asserted his hulking Maine Coon body into Eli’s pathway, demanding his morning attention. Eli stooped and gave the persistent feline his preferred rough affection and patting as they walked together. As usual, though, the petting ending with Asimov giving Eli a more-than-gentle chomp accompanied by his signature growl. Eli could only laugh at the moody animal – he was definitely Danni’s cat.
 
Stepping into the shower area, he marveled how, even now, the sight of Danni’s perfect body affected him.  His breathing hitched and warmth spread rapidly through to his groin – those frosted glass doors did nothing but tease his male sensibilities. Eli chuckled to himself as he ran a hand over his firm member.
 
No matter how analytical he became about the two of them – or, in particular, about her – she was always there to satisfy him and, instead of the expected waning of passions, the bond between the two of them seemed much stronger now than it had in the beginning. And her added depth of emotion from the letter and the interview scenario this morning? All of that did nothing but increase the desire coursing through Eli’s veins as he slowly opened the shower door to step inside.
 
Danielle did not turn toward him at first, just continued rinsing her long blonde hair until he had shut the door, enclosing them in their own private world. She turned toward him slowly – arms raised above her head – as the water cascaded over her beautiful contours.
 
“Logic would point –” she let her eyes fall to his waist and then rise to meet his again, a single eyebrow raised in jest “­–to, perhaps, your enjoyment of cooking for us.” Her soft blue eyes darkened with passion as they locked on his, and a seductive grin pulled across her face. “Your assessment, Dr. Bailey?”
 
Unable to resist her flirting any further, he pressed her body against the tile wall with his own as he swallowed her weak protest in his domineering kiss. He still could not understand – had stopped trying years ago – how his body responded so forcefully to hers. The desire to own every inch of her flesh – to consume without harming – to take and give all again and again – none of it had ever made real sense to his scientific mind, yet here there were. And, as he once more joined their bodies together, their tongues dueling for control, he swore internally that he would do everything in his power to assure this perfection would last into eternity.
 
Their simultaneous shouts were followed by the quiet rhythm of the cooling shower.
 
Danni lowered her legs from around his waist and began washing them both – sheer grace in every one of her movements as she softly kissed every part she cleaned.
 
Humming his satisfaction with eyes closed and body managing a blissful reset, he continued their conversation from earlier.
 
“You should go shopping today, Beautiful – get a new outfit for the special occasion.”
 
When her hands stilled and there was no immediate response, Eli opened his eyes to look at her. She stood still before him – hands on him yet motionless – with her unfocused eyes staring at his chest. He reached a finger under her chin and raised her face to his. Her brows knit softly together, but she did not look him in the eye.
 
Again, he watched her with concentrated intensity until she found her words.
 
“Is there something on today’s calendar that I have missed, Eli?” Her ice blue eyes found his as much of the emotion drained from them.
 
Eli replayed his question in his mind, and a huge grin encompassed his entire being as he marveled at her mistake – a logical one, yet a mistake nonetheless. Immediately, her smile mirrored his, and the spark of emotion returned. He hummed as he leaned in and kissed her forehead.
 
“I was referring to your upcoming interview.”
 
He watched her eyes lose focus only momentarily before her whole face was wrapped in happiness again. She nodded enthusiastically as she resumed her bathing routine.
 
“Oh, yes,” she giggled, “that is a special occasion, isn’t it?” She paused as though she expected him to answer.
 
It was Eli’s turn to nod – “Uhmm-hmmm” – as he took a deep, relaxing breath. He let his eyes close and his head fall back just in the slightest, her soothing actions continuing once again.
 
“What do you think you will look for? What’s best for Danni, hmmm?”
 
And, although it appeared that he may not be listening, Eli concentrated on every word of her explanation – every detail of what kind of clothing she would look for, every reason she gave for the color or style including her reference to the issue of Vanity Fair he had brought home, and every variance in intonation her voice followed as she spoke.
 
All the while, he allowed the familiar sound of her voice to wash over him as her hands physically did the same. She was his treasure and always would be – these private times together only reinforced that fact in the very core of who he was.  
 
Smiling to himself as he replayed her words in his mind and added his own mental notes, Eli took his turn at the task of washing, although his was more exploration than purification…taking more time than most on the fine details, learning her reactions to his touch where he might not have confirmation yet. His goal, of course, was to have a perfect map of his Danni’s pleasure points in his memory.
 
He spoke the entire time –not really about anything in particular: about his plans for the day, about their past experiences and the feelings he associated with them. All of it – down to the finest detail – was to provide a complete sensational experience… for her body to associate these intimate touches with his voice… so that the two would be forever linked, leaving no connection without exclusivity of him to her… of her to him.
 
When he finally reached above her head and turned off the water, he took her in his arms and held on until she began to wiggle for freedom. He tightened his embrace as a deep growl rolled up from inside of him. Danielle laughed playfully even as her struggles increased.
 
“There’s a toll,” he rumbled in her ear, “pay up, Beautiful.”
 
She stopped her squirming and raised her eyes to his – the clarity of their connection reinforced his smile and his hold.  Her returned grin was naturally open, and Eli could not help himself but marvel in silence. 
 
“You are so demanding, you know that?”  
 
Yet she stood on tip-toe and sealed their lips together.
 
“Mmmmmm,” he responded as their tongues tangled and silently bid adieu for the day.
 
Opening the shower door, he stepped out and passed her one of the towels.
 
“Don’t forget to put on your wristband,” he reminded Danni as he toweled off quickly and began making adjustments to his own band.
 
She laughed happily as she dried herself. “I really need to get better at remembering that, don’t I?”
 
Reaching around her husband who was now engrossed in some adjustments on his band, Danielle hung her towel behind him. She then kissed him knowing that he was lost in concentration once again.
 
She brushed past him to get to her side of the double vanity. She reached for the wristband that was a smaller, less intricate version of the one Eli wore. Once it was secure on her wrist, she paused, appearing lost in thought again. Finally, she re-focused – soft brow furrowed slightly – and met his gaze upon her in the mirror.
 
“What is it?” He stepped up behind her, hands lightly around her waist. He leaned down to whisper in her ear, eliciting a slight squeak from her. “Tell me how you feel, Danni.”
 
She angled her head away from him, allowing him better access to her neck as she hummed in enjoyment.
 
“When I get back with my new outfit, I would like a wristband that matches it.”
 
Eli froze. He was completely taken aback by her pronouncement. She had never expressed such a desire before – any inclination for coordination in her wardrobe or otherwise. It just wasn’t a detail either of them paid attention to. Until now.
 
They held each other’s stare in the mirror for a few more moments before Eli’s entire body lit with his smile and he tightened his arms around her. His excitement radiated through her, and she grinned from ear-to-ear.
 
“I will make you one in every color you desire, my Beautiful Danni!” And he lifted her in an exuberant hug, laughing triumphantly.
 
Asimov walked in, wondering what all the commotion was about, and Danielle’s eyes lit with excitement when she spied his approach.  She giggled and squirmed in Eli’s hold until he allowed her to turn in his arms.
 
“Good.” She smiled and lightly kissed him as she turned her petting attentions to the cat. “Now, let’s go eat, so I can be gone before that reporter gets here for your interview.”
 
She bent and showered Asimov with her attentions, her voice changing to that ‘lovey-dovey gibberish sound’ as she spoke to the both of them.
 
“Because journalists are the bane of the planet, aren’t they, Az?”
 
Eli’s laughter filled the area as he heard the words of his long-passed father and mentor spoken to him in her ‘playful’ voice. He nodded in satisfaction, kissing the top of her head as he stepped to the closet to retrieve his clothes.
 
“Breakfast in fifteen minutes, Beautiful,” he said as he finished dressing and headed to the booth and, ultimately, the kitchen, “Asimov? You get to fend for yourself.”
 
As if in response to Eli, the large cat paused in his loud and intense purring and growled in Eli’s general direction. Both Eli and Danni laughed.
 
************
**********
 
It was but a short walk from their front door to downtown, and Danielle enjoyed the sights as always. She paused to see the robin’s nest in the crepe myrtle and admired the small ant colony that had taken up residency in one of the sidewalk cracks. Each of these and more were the little details to which she looked forward each time she walked into town. 
 
The limited number of stores that comprised their small downtown seemed to be pulled right out of a Norman Rockwell daydream. And to complete the motif, there were quite a number of telephone booths that were similar in appearance to the one that they had in the corner of their den back at the house. She had never used any of them as she never had need of a telephone, but they were noteworthy to her all the same. That was probably due mostly to the fact that the display on her wristband lit up whenever she was next to one – just a simple fascination, really, and nothing of import.
 
Danielle had often mused that Eli must have some sort of attachment to the one they had at home. Although, she had to admit, that their booth was substantially larger than these and the equipment in theirs was certainly much more than just some old-fashioned telephone. No, the one at home contained some of Eli’s equipment that he had to check on frequently.
 
He would come out of his workshop during the day to examine both the equipment inside the intricate booth and the readouts on his wristband. Of course, he would always come to her afterwards and kiss her or nuzzle his nose into the back of her neck. Most of these times, he would check her wristband before retreating back to his work.  Once in a while, he would murmur the word ‘perfect’ or ‘my treasure’, but, then, he was back to work  – his workday focus so much more distracted than it was during their evenings and mornings together in the bed and, especially, in the bathroom.
 
Still smiling, she entered the clothing boutique. Taking in the store’s interior, she concluded that not much had changed since her last visit. The decorations were pretty standard, but it was the store clerk at the cash register that drew her attention this time.
 
She paused in her steps and studied the older lady carefully, running back through her memories from her previous visits. There was something…yes! That was it: the lady wore the same blue and white outfit she had worn the last time Danielle visited.
 
She paused again. Wait!
 
That was the same outfit the lady had worn every time she recalled! How odd. Perhaps the lady needed financial assistance. Danielle made a mental note to discuss the matter with Eli over dinner this evening.
 
Looking through the dresses and suits, Danielle recognized a number of the styles from the Vanity Fair magazine Eli had brought her a few weeks ago. Funny, she had never come in here with the idea of a particular style before, only for a specific article of clothing. Today, everything seemed new, and it was good to know that their little town’s boutique was up on current styles.
 
Danielle picked out two dresses and a loose-fitting pantsuit and brought them to the clerk. She marveled at how the colors in each caught the streaming sunlight as the clerk packed them for her.
 
“You have made some excellent choices today, madam.” The lady smiled and commented as she handed Danielle the neatly-packed shopping bag. “Do you have a special occasion coming up?”
 
Danielle just stared at the lady – she was sure she had never heard the lady speak to her except to tell her to have a good day as she was leaving. Yes – she thought back through her visits – the clerk had never asked a question.  Finally, she reasoned the question through and recovered her momentary silence.
 
“Yes. I have a job interview,” she answered as she took the shopping bag.
 
Even as the words left her mouth, she felt that instant smile light her face, and the anxious feeling she had identified this morning as excitement reappeared. Spontaneously, Danielle laughed out loud, although she quickly covered it with her free hand. The store clerk, it seemed, was unaffected by her answer or her outburst as the lady just continued to hold her gentle smile.
 
“I have a job interview!” she repeated with real exuberance.
 
The lady nodded at her before replying in her usual monotone manner.
 
“Good luck on your interview, madam, and have a good day.”
 
Danielle paused again then nodded.
 
“Yes, thank you.” She giggled to herself and continued nodding as she walked out the door. “Thank you very much.”
 
************
**********
 
“Are you sure I cannot get you something to drink, Dr. Newberry?”
 
Allison Newberry, lead neuro-tech scientist for the Planetary Technology & Science Division, sat mesmerized in place. She barely managed to shake her head in the negative as she continued to gawk at the technology adorning Eli’s workshop. This was her first visit in nearly two years as he permitted repeat inspectors only after that span of time.
 
Eli placed his drink in the secure holder beside his workstation. He then sat such that he had full access to and control of all of his monitors and their readouts. Allison’s chair was at an angle to his such that she could see both his face and most of the screens.
 
“Please, Dr. Bailey, call me Allison.” Her eyes continued to scan the room in near disbelief. “Your set-up is amazing. I cannot hope to document everything you have accomplished here with just our one hou–”
 
“I expect not, Allison,” Eli’s interjection was not rude, but it was firm, his attention split between her comments and the input from his auditory implant, “but an hour is what I have agreed to – nothing more.”
 
As he spoke his eyes never left the monitors. There was not much in the small downtown he had constructed, and the observation/data booths were at the most strategic locations throughout, but he still did not want to miss any part of his Danni’s outing. Every bit of feedback he could garner would be precious today, especially after their break-through this morning.
 
“But, Dr. Bailey our support of your resear–”
 
“Will not end because I have never cut short these quarterly on-site interviews. I simply will not extend them.”
 
Again, no rudeness or agitation in his tone, and a grin that could only be identified as knowing spread slowly across his face. His eyes shifted to her and then back to the screens where Danni had just entered the main merchant sidewalk, emerging from the wooded walk from their house. “You have no one that can match my advances, and I provide monthly updates as in our agreement,” he paused as he nodded in recognition to something in the streaming code readout on his monitor then continued before Dr. Newberry could answer, “I owe the Division nothing more, Allison.”
 
She cleared her throat to buy her a bit of conversational recovery time because Eli was correct – there was no other researcher or scientist that had made the strides in Artificial Intelligence that the Baileys had – neither him nor his brilliant father before him. In fact, her orders were, as always, to observe and document – without use of audio or visual recording device – as much as possible but never to push. No, the Division’s limited insight into Dr. Elijah Bailey’s advances could not be jeopardized in any way, and she knew that.
 
“I’ve noticed you’ve no observation cameras in the bathrooms. Couldn’t there, possibly, be information gleaned, no matter how small, during the daily re-dress?”
 
Elijah felt his jaw tighten, but he hid it well. He only needed to make it through…he glanced at the clock in the corner of the large monitor… forty more minutes. Not sparing her even a glance this time, he responded.
 
“The Division does not need recordings of my taking a piss or otherwise, do they, Allison?”
 
He found that he actually enjoyed her flustered look that registered in his periphery, and it served as the distraction he needed. Raising an eyebrow in defiance – a reaction he recalled on Danni’s face this morning but with much different intent – Elijah turned his attention toward Dr. Newberry this time and continued.
 
“Besides, recordings of my changing the garments on Danielle and performing any necessary physical maintenance are not important, yes? And it is certainly nice to have a bit of privacy to change my own clothes, shower, and use the facilities,” he paused, transitioning his face to one of a leer that he let slowly pass up and down over her body, “wouldn’t you agree that recordings such as that would be” – he allowed a small yet lascivious grin touch his lips– “inappropriate?”
 
It was a forced gesture as there was nothing about her that attracted him – those kinds of thoughts and actions were reserved for his Danni alone.
 
Allison squirmed in her seat – good, his comment and such had the desired effect. Subject closed.
 
Recovering nicely, Allison pressed forward.
 
“You seem more intense than usual in your observations and tracking of the u–” Allison quickly corrected herself – everyone in the Division knew that Dr. Bailey insisted they use the AI-Unit’s proper name “of Danielle this morning? Has there been a change?”
 
Finally, a somewhat reasonable and even appropriate question. Eli made a mental note to have a more controlled and limited environment for Dr. Allison Newberry’s next time on the visit rotation.
 
“Hope, Allison.” Eli felt the satisfaction within him rise once again with his own words. “I have achieved Hope.”
 
Dr. Newberry cocked her head in question as her eyes flared with interest.
 
“Hope? How can you be sure? Hope is one of the more abstract human emotions, even more abstract than Love.” She glanced at the monitors before re-focusing just on him. “At least with Love, we can mimic possessiveness and, perhaps, a belonging with manipulation of the codex.” She paused and her facial expression became introspective. “You and I have discussed a simulated Pavlovian attachment to another achieved through repetition and codex markers– that could certainly be defined as Love in the technological sense.”
 
Allison glanced up as the front door of She’s All That Boutique filled the screen of Danielle’s optical readouts. She huffed at the name but quickly turned her attention back to Eli and continued.
 
“And you’ve shown through multiple instances and feedback loops that an expression of Love can also be demonstrated through attachment and loss, but Hope?” Allison shook her head in a show of disbelief, of sorts. “Really, Dr. Bailey, that is … well, that is …”
 
Eli let her hang there trying to find the word to contradict him politely since she had already crossed him twice. He glanced at the digital time once again – it read just under half an hour.
 
He tightened his jaw once again as he pulled up the recording of his and Danni’s morning interaction regarding the letter – he had taken the time to isolate Danni’s description as she held the letter in their bed. Eli had it play on the small monitor near Dr. Newberry’s position.
 
For his part, however, Eli’s eyes never left Danni’s progress into the shop as he looked for signs that true Hope had taken root in her programming. He noted the streaming code on the screen associated with the moment Danni analyzed the shop clerk’s clothing for the first time. It was a coding change initiated by her core processor with respect to the morning’s interaction in front of their mirror and not of his alteration or manipulation.
 
The discovery made a warmth rise within him he had not known possible.
 
Danni noticed! She looked for the ‘brightness’ she had described to him and the ‘difference in the hues’ of her optical feedback, and she noticed it! The revelation of her voiced desire for a matching band had carried over and was now integrating itself seamlessly into her emotional response registries – noting such a desire for everyone else in her environment. Eli felt his body try to physically react to such a complete breakthrough, but he concentrated on tamping it down for now.
 
In that instant, the scene playing on Dr. Newberry’s screen also ended.  Eli had stopped that recording for viewing just before Danni had leapt from the bed. The explanation was what was pertinent to Dr. Newberry’s question regarding Hope. She did not get to see Danni in that negligee.
 
“This is remarkable, Dr. Bailey!” Allison’s voice was full of excitement, but such had no effect on Eli. The clock read just at fourteen minutes, and he would be hard-pressed to make it through that time with the necessary patience.
 
But he would.
 
Because he wanted Dr. Allison Newberry walking out the door by the time his precious Danni arrived back home.
 
Eli hated that these visits from the Division were still necessary, but soon, they would not be, and it was that which kept him moving forward.
 
And able to keep his face neutral during this, the final minutes of their interaction.
 
“There.” Eli pointed to the screen where Danni was looking through the clothing rack. “She is actually looking for colors and styles that match the Hope her sensors and codex received when the letter was introduced.” He lowered his hand and took a drink as they both continued to watch the monitor. “To know, Allison, that there is a brightness and a good feeling that can be found in things. To always look for those things to build on. To conclude that the future holds something for you because you see something beyond today – to be aware of that prospect – that is Hope, Allison.” He paused, still scanning the the code stream and Danni’s facial expressions. “And Danni has found it.”
 
Dr. Newberry’s brows drew together tightly, and she shook her head just in the slightest, but her focus never left the screen.
 
“Not true, Dr. Bailey.” Danni had now brought the three outfits to the register. “Your unique learning programs and careful manipulation of the AI-core allowed the u– er – Danielle’s transition from input process to resultant reactions, but it is not real human Hope, now is it?”
 
She turned her focus to Eli, but his was on his very happy and hopeful Danni as she bid the clerk farewell. He had to physically prevent his hand from rising to the screen and touching her face there as she giggled. Instead, he simply gritted his teeth and tried to release them as he turned to face Dr. Newberry.
 
And for a brief moment, Allison Newberry was sure she read a deep anger on Dr. Bailey’s face, but it was gone before she could truly appreciate it. His usual unemotional and strictly-business demeanor was all that remained as he powered down the many monitors in front of them.
 
“You are more than likely correct, Dr. Newberry.” He sounded as though he spoke through clenched teeth, but it was probably just her distracted interpretation – the day had been so full of interesting revelations. “I will take a more detailed look at the codex and the associated readouts from the data booths tomorrow.”

He rose and headed out the workshop door, pausing in obvious anticipation of her following him.
 
“And, now, I believe your hour is nearly up.”
 
She stood quickly as she glanced at her watch and followed him out, pausing with him as he locked the office door.
 
“But, Dr. Bailey, we have just over five minutes remaining.”
 
She spoke to his retreating back as he grunted his response and turned into the den. She entered there just as he leaned into the main Artificial Intelligence data input/output booth for the residence, making a few adjustments to it and to his wristband.
 
She stepped around him to peer inside just as Eli stood to full height and closed it quite abruptly. Allison tried to look through the booth’s folding door, but Eli gently yet firmly began to usher her toward the front entrance of the house, placing himself strategically between her and the booth.
 
“Wow! You have really been able to pare down the amount of equipment necessary for daily support of th–, of Danielle.” She ended-up completing the comment speaking over her shoulder as she was directed away from the booth by a determined Eli.
 
His patience had run out. The fact that he was just one step from portability was not a fact he would be revealing now, if ever. It was his dream for him and Danni.
 
“The back-up tower was on the workbench in the office, did you not see it there?” Eli responded as he handed Dr. Newberry her jacket. “I had to pull two of the codex feedback cards to locate an empty sector, and will return it later this evening.”
 
Allison’s face registered the confusion that Eli had hoped for as she reluctantly donned her jacket.
 
“But is the tower necessary for func–”
 
At that moment, Danielle opened the front door, walking right through their parting conversation. Simply her presence ended all of Dr. Newberry’s technical questions.
 
Danielle paused in her forward progress and turned to Allison, her face a look of discernment as it was obvious she was trying to acquire recognition. Before Danielle could reach her own conclusion, Eli spoke from her other side.
 
“This is Dr. Newberry from PTSD, Danni.”
 
Allison was mesmerized as she watched Danielle’s face transition to one of recognition. But then a truly remarkable thing happened: a smirk formed on Danielle’s lips, and one of her eyebrows raised as she offered her hand in greeting.
 
Dr. Newberry’s eyes widened in surprise as she looked at the proffered hand and at the face of a thirty-year-old woman that showed no signs of the AI-unit that she was.
 
Allison’s mesmerization was broken by Dr. Bailey’s clearing of his throat. Allison started, finally reaching out to take Danielle’s hand, although it was Danielle who spoke first.
 
“Ahhhh…so you are the bane of the planet today.” Allison swallowed a choking sound as her brows drew together in a severe look that had no effect on Danielle’s actions. In fact, Danni just finished her statement and released the handshake. “It is certainly good to meet you, Dr. Newberry.”
 
Danielle’s attention turned immediately from Allison and appeared to lean away from her…yes, she definitely leaned toward Eli, but Eli’s expression hardened, and his eyes flared in what Allison could only interpret as warning. Danielle nodded almost undetectably as her attention turned from them both, and she continued walking into the house.
 
“Your time here is complete, Dr. Newberry,” Danielle spoke forward and did not attempt to turn as she disappeared into the house, “Asimov! I’m home, Az!”
 
Allison tore her attention from Danielle’s retreating figure and stepped toward the open door. She paused and turned to face Eli – his expression unreadable once again.
 
“She is remarkable, Dr. Bailey.” And she still had so many questions, she could not deny that fact, but the Division’s one hour time allotment was up. There was no doubt that the man was a genius and then some. “You must be very proud.”
 
Eli did not answer as she pulled the door shut on her exit. In fact, he just stood and stared, eyes unfocused yet looking at the door.
 
Momentarily, Danni wrapped her arms around him from behind and hummed softly into his back. At their contact, Eli finally blinked.
 
Pride was a more abstract human emotion than Hope. And it was the one emotion that not even his brilliant father and creator had been able to conquer.  In spite of the masterpiece that Elijah Bailey was today, proud was something he could never be.
 
At least...not yet.
 
He turned in Danni’s arms, framed her face with his hands, and lifted her lips to his. He closed his eyes to savor all that she was to him as his thoughts continued.
 
For now, Love was enough.
 
As long as he and Danni had Love, they could live into eternity together…. Because Love gave them Hope for tomorrow.

 


Every Story Has A Beginning contest entry


My Scenario* was:

A young wife receives a letter through the normal post addressed to her in her own handwriting. How and why should make up the body of the story.

*Must include her husband as a character, a job interview, and a telephone booth. All of these must be used in a meaningful way and not just mentioned.

Thank you for reading Eli & Danni's story!

Image of 'Human Texture Series' by agsandrew from Singularity Hub [singularityhub.com/2019/03/26]
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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