Elenya, Narnya 06, 03198
A Pleasing Shape, Chapter 1: Jouet
Darzi loved the way the afternoon light would pour into the hallway to his apartment through the hazy, yellowing glass to spill across the wooden floors and plaster walls. Three times in the past year he had painted this hallway, playing with the perspective and the way light came through spring, summer and fall. Today he paused at a collection of cardboard boxes that partially blocked his way. He contemplated their geometry for a moment, fitting the stack into a frame and choosing the best colors, before he raised his voice to say, "Hey, Claude, what are these for?"
The local AI's voice called from behind, "What are what, young Darzi?" Claude had a funny accent that sounded as if his tongue spent too much time on the roof of his mouth. Footsteps told Darzi that Claude was manifest, his real world projection substantial and solid. As always, Claude was dressed in the body of a heavyset older human with a white beard wearing a cream-colored suit complete with vest and pocket watch on a chain. He leaned over Darzi's shoulder. "Ah, young Mister El graduated. He and Ghiselle have moved."
Darzi was stunned. For a moment, nothing stirred in the hallway but dust motes twinkling in the light angling through the windows. "Moved? Like, 'moved on?'"
"Oh, no. Nothing like that," Claude said in his rich and archaic voice. "They are still about. They have moved to Gilligan. I understand it has been his wish for some time now."
Darzi had never known the name of the beautiful woman with the black hair cut razor short. He felt a brief pang of loss that he should learn it now, just as she was gone. He muttered, "They may as well have moved on, if they moved to Gilligan."
"No, no, no, Master Darzi. Not at all! They are still here, with us, in this universe. They can send letters. They can receive letters, if you are inclined to send one. I do wish people would send more letters. With pen and ink and care in the form and shape of every word."
Darzi was not opposed to the idea of sending letters, but he was also not inclined to think of the denizens of Gilligan as "alive." Claude was more alive than they were. He knew where he stood with Claude. The cold and sterile technoheaven of Gilligan was light-years away, and he and Claude were here, on Discovery, living. Something Darzi wanted to keep doing. "So what are the boxes for?"
"Mister El was always a very tidy mel. I assume that he bundled up his belongings for ease of disposal." Claude waved at the boxes. "If there is any item within them that pleases or amuses you, please, take it. It would be a favor to not have to discard so many things into the trash."
"I'm not sure I should go rummaging through his stuff," Darzi said.
"Nonsense. He is not about to care. Someone must do the, ah, rummaging. Why not you?" Claude gave him a vague wave of excuse and began ambling down the hallway.
Darzi took a deep breath and contemplated the collection. He chose the largest box, a square meter of cardboard possibly containing something important and meaningful from another life. Darzi knew how that felt. He had left behind meaningful other lives himself. He wondered if anyone else on Discovery felt about El and Giselle the way he did right then, and he wondered if anyone had ever felt about him that way, once, some time ago.
He rocked it, hoping the contents would reveal themselves in motion. Whatever was inside felt heavy and solid but not metallic. Perhaps a cushion of sort. Curiosity overcame reluctance and Darzi opened the top of the box. Inside, a young woman with her knees drawn up to her chest sat, naked, eyes wide open, staring. "What is-- a dead, dead, a dead body? Claude! Claude! Help!" Darzi stumbled backwards, his grip on the edge of the box shocked so tight the box turned with him and fell to its side. The body spilled out onto the floor in a heap of awkward limbs.
"Master Darzi, what is it? Oh, dear." Claude leaned over and examined the body. "Mister El must have yanked Ghiselle before he left. Entirely sensible of both of them."
"Yanked? Sensible?" Darzi's voice cracked with shock. "There's nothing sensible about leaving a dead body in a box!"
"Oh, but it is not dead," Claude said. He knelt over the body, examining it as if he needed his hands and eyes. "It is merely unoccupied. Ghiselle was a robot, you see. Mister El took her core with him, but the body is unoccupied. Most peculiar. This is most peculiar indeed. Many a robot is very attached to her body in a personal way, and would almost never have simply abandoned hers like this. Well, that Ghiselle was always a strange one, even when she was a pale shadow." Claude looked up. "Would you like to keep it?"
"What would I do with it?" Darzi said. "Why would I want that?"
"I do not know," Claude said. "But you are an artist, are you not? Perhaps she could pose. Certainly she will hold still longer than any model you have had recently." Claude gave Darzi a critical eye.
Darzi returned Claude a resigned look. His last two models had been disappointed when they realized that his come-on about their posing for him had not actually been a come-on, but a real invitation. The posing had required more effort than they had been willing to commit. Darzi had been grateful for the sex but he wished they'd come back so he could finish their paintings. He said, "I suppose that's possible. What would you do with her if I didn't take her? She's not dangerous, is she?"
"Oh, no, I should imagine not. The mind core is very old and probably self-learning, but it still passed encompassment to be allowed to run about free. Believe me on that. The body has many modern upgrades. I could have an unloaded core delivered, one that would allow you to pose her as you saw fit. It is self maintaining and, ah, here, there are eight years left on the power plant. I will send you instructions on how to keep the bioplume maintenance system topped off, if you wish."
Darzi figured he'd learn what Claude meant by that eventually. "I probably I shouldn't call her Ghiselle, then."
"My goodness, no. Ghiselle has left with Mister El. This is just a doll now. May I suggest Jouet?"
Darzi tried to imitate Claude's accent. "Zhoo-ay?"
"No, no. Jhoo-ay."
Darzi tried again, softening the "j" sound until Claude nodded. "What does it mean?"
"In French, it means 'doll,'" Claude said. "Something that came to mind even as we were talking. It does seem fitting, doesn't it?"
Darzi nodded. He reached under her shoulders. "I shouldn't leave a naked dead girl out in the hallway, either."
"That's the spirit, Master Darzi. There, I have uploaded a simple pose-keeping program. I'll have a more comprehensive core delivered later. Please, take her into your care with my blessing."
Darzi dragged the body into his apartment and dropped her on the faded woven rug in the middle. She kept slipping out of his hands, so as he kicked the door closed and abandoned Claude to the outer hallway he struggled to get a better grip and his hand slipped down her torso, closing on a breast. Almost instinctively, he squeezed it and it bounced back, feeling just like normal human flesh. "What am I doing?" he said, suddenly dropping her on the floor.
He took a deep breath. His problem was that the body felt human. Too much so. Claude had mentioned her on-board power supply: it must be maintaining the illusion of life. He glanced up at his last painting of the short, golden-furred firecracker he had last had up here and he thought that she didn't stop being warm just because she fell asleep. But Jouet was not asleep, she was...
"What do you call it?" he said. "Not comatose. Brain-dead doesn't seem right." He sighed. "What are you?" He looked down. She had fallen with her legs splayed open. She had smooth yellowish skin, no pubic hair, and between her pale pink vulval lips the darker pink of invitation seemed to pulse before his eyes. An uncomfortably physical desire stirred in his pants. The color was beautiful. "They really made this perfect, didn't they?" He reached down and touched those lips, parting them with his fingertips and revealing the inside. "Feels right. And the color's so pretty. I wonder if I could paint this without people thinking I was doing porn? What the hell am I doing?" He pulled his hand away. "Gods, I feel like a necro... whatever you call it. Why did I agree to this? All I need is for Paecc and Konrad to find out I've got this thing and I'll never hear the end of it."
He lifted her up and pulled her through the doorway into his bedroom, dropping her onto the spare bed under the window. She looked so much more doll-like, her eyes wide open and staring at the ceiling. She didn't look so sad that way. Not quite deathly. She was still a beautiful figure, with large breasts that sagged just right for their size, broad hipbones, and long legs with just a touch more mass to them than was necessary. She'd make a good model.
The door chimed. Darzi swore. He was not ready to face any of his friends with this... thing. He had to get her clothes first. The door chimed again.
"Who is it?" he shouted.
"Oh." He opened the door, first checking to make sure Jouet couldn't be seen from it. A melCentaur stood outside. "Yeah?"
"Claude said this was for you." The box was rather large. Darzi took it, thumbed the padd the delivery 'taur held out, and closed the door.
Inside the box he found a very large plunger-style industrial injector with a short semi-rigid tube and eight half-liter bags of something the color and texture of unhardened tofu. The writing on each bag called it "Robot Maintenance Paste TM-0795." A flimsy in the box instructed him to place the bag into the plunger with the opening aligned with the bottom nipple of the bag, and then to just shove the thing down the robot's throat and push it down. The bag should then be microwaved for fifteen seconds to initiate biodegradation and tossed into the disposal. The injector could then be cleaned and put away.
He went through the process of loading the plunger with the first bag. He couldn't be sure when the last time Jouet-- it had been Ghiselle at the time-- had done this, but since she had chosen to abandon the body routine maintenance had probably not been on her mind.
He walked back to where the body lay on his bed. It had to go down her mouth, so he pried her lips open gently with his thumb. The inside of her mouth was warm and wet. Her lips stayed open. "Damn," he sighed as his erection returned.
He controlled himself enough to slip the tube down the doll's throat. He pushed the plunger, shoving the thick white cream down into her artificial stomach. His mind flashed on an image of holding her head to his crotch, his pants just barely open, giving her a little more thick white cream. He shuddered.
When the bag was empty he tossed the plunger into the dishwasher and the bag into the microwave as instructed. He returned to his bed and sat down next to her. "Why did I agree to having you here?" He stared off to the opposite wall. He didn't feel like painting. The day had been far too discombobulating for that. He shifted his shoulders. One hand brushed against Jouet's hand. He startled for a second, then looked down. "Still... I wonder what it would be like to do you. Like... wanking, I guess."
He stood suddenly, turned and faced her. "In that case, right, I'm gonna do it." He opened his belt and pushed his pants down, the buckle clinking as it hit the floor. His erection shot straight out.
He pulled the body toward the edge of the bed. For a moment, he wondered how wet she was, then slipped a finger inside her to find out for himself. She was slick inside, designed to be ready. "Nice," he said. "Very nice."
He pushed her back onto the bed so that he had enough space to kneel between her legs. He could still see her expressionless face by the the fading daylight outside. He raised her legs and put her ankles on his shoulders. "Here we go." He pressed his cock against the warm pseudoflesh of her pussy and with a few quick thrusts buried himself inside her body.
"Yes, very nice," he whimpered, his head tossed back with the surprising pleasure, his cock surrounded by the surrendered warmth. He jerked against her body awkwardly. "Oh, fuck," he groaned as the rhythm grew and he knew he was going to come too soon. He shivered suddenly and then with a brief bark he felt himself be overwhelmed by a need for release. "I came," he groaned. "I came too soon."
Was it his imagination, or did her facial expression change just a little, to something like disappointment? That was impossible. There was nobody in there.
His cock remained partially erect inside her, and he tried thrusting again, this time slowly. The shivers of post-climactic sensitivity were wonderful, and he enjoyed them until his cock surged back to hardness.
He took it slowly the second time. He didn't want to wear himself out and be too weak to continue. He could look down and watch his cock sliding in and out of her, see the way her pussy lips dragged on his erection as he slid in and out. "I'm going to have to wash you after this, aren't I?" he gasped. "But you feel so good inside." He reach down and touched her blank, unmoving face even as her pussy seemed to tighten around his cock impossibly. He cupped her cheek in his hand. "I'll keep you for a little while, I think." He gasped as a shiver of impending climax rolled over him. His body convulsed as one hand slipped down to grasp the curve of her ass and push into her, hard, one final time, coming. "I'm done. I'm done," he gasped.
He looked down at her and laughed softly. "What the hell am I doing?" He touched her nose. "Still, that was really, really... something." He slipped out of her. Her face remained unmoving. It had to be a trick of his imagination, the flow of emotions, a play on his arousal, that she looked... lonely.
He carried her up in his arms. "Time to wash you, I guess. Unh, you're heavier now. Or I'm weaker." He sighed. "Nobody's gonna feel any sympathy for me, I suppose." He sat her down on the washing stool and leaned her squarely against the wall. Her eyes were still open, glassy, gone as he sprayed her down with the hose. He enjoyed himself as he washed her, making streaks of soap against her skin, blowing bubbles off her arms. "I guess as time goes on I'd get used to your pussy. I was just trying you out. Why am I trying to explain it to you? Nobody's home." He put a finger to her nose. "Beep."
"Man, I filled you with my stuff," he said as sponged her between the thighs, then worked his way down to her toes. Her body sagged and she fell forward, her breasts mashing down onto his head. "Wow," he sighed as he cupped her by those breasts and pushed her back into place. "You really are interesting, in a way. Guess I'll keep you."
He must have splashed water into those unmoving eyes. That explained the glints that looked like tears of relief.
He took her out into his bedroom and put her back down onto "her" bed. Supine, she made his cock stir against the fabric of his bathrobe. He found a shirt for her in the trunk at the foot of his bed. It had been too big for him, so it was definitely too big for her, but it would cover her rather large charms and reach down to obscure her crotch. He struggled to get it onto her, then sat her up on the bed against the wall, next to the window. Above her head was one of his watercolor studies of the hallway. "There, don't you look better now?"
Those eyes stared across the room, answerless.