...and now, after far too long a hiatus, comes more of Circuitry Sorcerers! For those of you who are new, or don't remember, I refer you here. dreamwaffles.livejournal.com/13933.html#
Episode One: Can’t Go Home Again
Randall is in the passenger seat of Katie’s car in front of Gary’s house. There are several boxes and bags in the backseat of the car. There is a bunch of shiny beads suspended from the rearview mirror. Katie is wearing faded jeans and a knit shirt, but looks well put together. Randall, dressed similarly, looks like crap. His hair is still buzzed, and his clothes, while they’re civilian clothes, don’t fit quite properly and are too neat-ironed crease in jeans, crisp t-shirt, etc. His left forearm is bandaged almost all the way to his elbow, and his cane, an ugly plastic and metal medical one, is shoved awkwardly into the footwell.
RANDALL: Thanks, Katie.
Katie sneaks a look at him. Randall is staring straight ahead. August is visible in one of the front windows of the house from this camera angle. Katie fidgets a little, and looks forward again.
KATIE: Anytime, Randy. Want a hand with your stuff?
Randall automatically starts to shake his head, but catches sight of his cane and grimaces.
RANDALL: Yeah. Thanks.
Katie gets out of the car and opens the trunk. She grabs a box and a duffel as Randall starts getting out of the car-for him it’s a process. Katie sets the duffel on the sidewalk and heads towards the house with the box without looking back at Randall, who takes some time to stand up all the way. It clearly frustrates him, and he slams the car door too hard, then looks embarrassed and hastily grabs the duffel bag.
The door opens before Katie quite gets there. Gary smiles in welcome, and behind him August waves.
GARY: Hi. You’re Katie, right? Mariah told me you’d be driving him over.
Katie shifts the box, which is clearly heavy, and nods.
KATIE: Yeah, I’m Katie. Hi. Uh…is there…
AUGUST: I can get it.
August steps forward and takes the box with no sign of effort, then goes into the house. Katie dusts her hands on her pants a little self-consciously, then spots Gary’s outstretched hand and shakes it.
GARY: Is there more to get?
KATIE: Some. I can grab it.
Katie turns quickly, before Gary can finish opening his mouth to say something. Gary closes his mouth and shrugs a little as Randall reaches the steps and levels a glare at the three or four stairs. Gary coughs and glances to his right, where there is a discreet ramp to the side. Randall looks at it for a second, then deliberately grabs the stair railing and makes it up the steps with obvious effort. Gary watches quietly, and when Randall is on the porch steps forward, arms open.
GARY: (quietly, but clearly with deep feeling) It’s good to see you back.
After a hesitation, Randall drops the bag from his shoulder and steps in for a brief hug. He’s leaning on the cane; when he pulls back Gary makes sure he’s steady before letting go. August and Katie make it back to the porch from opposite directions at about the same time. Katie is carrying a backpack slung over one shoulder, another box, and a grocery sack.
GARY: Thank you, Katie. We can take it from here.
Katie puts down what she is carrying. August immediately steps forward and picks them up. Katie turns to Randall and hugs him briefly. Randall hugs back and rocks unsteadily when she lets go a little too fast. Gary moves a step closer to brace him; Randall shoots a glance at him but says nothing. Katie doesn’t seem to notice, checking her watch.
KATIE: (awkwardly) I…gotta go. See you later?
RANDALL: (half-smile, looks perversely amused) Yeah. Thanks again, Katie.
KATIE: (clearly confused, not sure what to do; wavers slightly) It’s no trouble. I’ll…um…bye.
Katie leaves, torn between reluctance to go and relief at leaving the awkwardness. Randall watches her go to the car and drive away. Gary watches Randall. Finally, Randall looks back at Gary. Gary picks up the remaining bag and holds the door for Randall.
GARY: You’re on the ground floor; I converted the den. Down the hall, last door on the left.
Randall nods, limping after Gary as they go down the hall. Gary walks slowly, but isn’t too obvious about it.
GARY: And now, house rules-gotta have them. One, no dying allowed.
Gary turns his head to look at Randall, holding the door to the room open, looking Randall in the eye. August is inside, opening the window. Randall avoids eye contact.
RANDALL: (barely audible) Understood.
GARY: You have a problem, come talk to me before you do anything stupid, okay?
He is clearly concerned, and almost touches Randall’s shoulder, but lets his hand drop before he makes contact. Randall goes into the room, still not looking at Gary.
RANDALL: (louder, crisp; as if taking an order) Understood. (doesn’t even start to say ‘sir’, but the word is hovering.)
Gary’s shoulders slump a little. He puts the duffel down and jerks his head at August, who nods and leaves the room. Gary clears his throat.
GARY: To continue, rule one-no dying. Rule two-August is a full housemate and, moreover, my research partner. You are not to call him names or treat him as anything less than a person. I don’t know what kind of robots you had in the armed forces, but August is a particularly advanced prototype, and his intelligence is at least if not more than the equal of yours or mine. Rule three, whoever sat down first gets the remote unless there’s something special on. We can work out a schedule if necessary. Rule four, you mess up the kitchen, you clean it up, unless you served a meal in which case the beneficiaries of said meal clean up. Rule five, don’t touch anything in the lab unless I or August tells you to. Rules three and four are the only ones open to negotiation. Any questions?
Randall sits down on the bed, still not looking at Gary. He shakes his head.
RANDALL: No questions.
Gary seems slightly at a loss.
GARY: (beat) I’ll let you settle in for a while, then. Dinner in an hour. Because it’s your first night, you’re off the hook for dishes.
Randall looks at the bandage on his arm and gives a short, humorless laugh.
RANDALL: Probably just as well.
Gary looks down at the bandage and frowns. Slowly, he goes to sit on the bed, a little distance from Randall.
GARY: (softly but firmly; Callum does his thing) Randall, you are welcome here. I want you here. So will August, once he knows you better. You are not an imposition; you are family, and I am here for you when you need me.
Gary puts a hand on Randall’s shoulder and squeezes, briefly, before standing up. He looks down at Randall.
GARY: If you want to talk to someone, let me know. Any hour of the day or night.
Gary moves towards the door. Randall looks up at Gary’s back, looking strangely lost.
Gary stops at the door and partly turns, not moving too quickly, but there is a flicker of hope in his face.
Gary smiles over his shoulder, briefly but brilliantly, and leaves, leaving the door open a little. Randall puts his right forearm across his knees, gingerly, and rubs a hand over his head. After a minute, he slowly gets up to start putting his things away.
I have more written longhand that I haven't typed up yet. Whether or not I'll get it posted before I go to sea is uncertain. This idea kind of...ate my brain after I did the meme, but then March happened, and it languished half-completed in my writing binder for entirely too long. However! I'm back on board! Get ready for ROBOT WIZARDS!