The Journal Entries

Anar, Yavar 14, 03198

A Pleasing Shape, Chapter 5: Parted

Darzi looked at his painting and tried to figure out if it was inspired or just pale and bloodless. Well, his subject was pale and bloodless, even if the turn of her head was more natural these days, and she could stand for short periods without falling over.

A few days before, when he had come home from a night with Konrad and Konrad's new girlfriend, Challay, he'd heard noises like off-kilter music coming from his room. He'd pressed his ear to the door. Konrad has regarded him with curiosity, but he's signaled for them to be quiet while he listened. When he opened the door the sound stopped. Jouet was sitting on her bed, giving the same blank expression she usually did when no one was home, but Darzi suspected she'd been practicing her voice control.

Konrad said, "I still don't get why you get the cash and I don't."

"Your paintings sell."

"Not like yours. And that first buy, good god, how much did you make?"

"Enough." He scraped together some more magnesium white, a dangerous color to work with but he'd used it before and applied to the line down Jouet's left shoulder. "Madame Quenilda thinks it was a hedge."

"A what?"

"A hedge. Someone thinks I'm going to be famous someday, and holding the first five works I ever sold in a show would be a valuable investment. They paid the price I put down, even though I was joking, because they think they'll get it back someday."

"What does Quenilda think?"

"She thinks art collectors are crazy and stupid. She says I have potential." He laughed, but inwardly he was nervous about his prospects. It could be centuries before he saw any real success. He might even have moved on before he was 'discovered' to be a great talent. He didn't feel like he had talent. He had only his perseverance. Which explained why he was here painting, and Konrad was here watching him. "She also says its their crazy and stupid need to hang paintings on their walls that keeps this business alive, so I shouldn't complain."

"Yeah, that's true." Konrad crushed a beer can and tossed it toward the recycler. "Anyway, I'm heading out. Gotta date with Challay tonight." His grin screamed smug, and Darzi could almost forgive him. He wished Peren were around. It was only another three months. He could last that long.

"Have fun."

"Yeah, I will."

He sighed when Konrad closed the door to the apartment. He was locked away with Jouet again. She was excellent as a model, he had to admit, barely moving. A mannequin. And yet, he was developing a relationship with her, a funny, tentative relationship that was based on knowing that she was probably Purposed to him, given what he knew about robots, and that she was building a conscious awareness around that Purpose with only him and the world he lived in as sources of knowledge. He know that she approved of Peren, a lot, and wanted her to come back. Peren, in her calculations, was good for him.

He agreed.

"Do you think you'll be able to return to this pose tomorrow?" he asked her. She nodded her head only slightly. "Then let me help you down." She relaxed slightly. He took her arm and guided her back down to the bed. He touched her cheek, and she tilted her head against his hand. "Don't fall over, okay?" She moved her arm down to the bed to show she could hold herself up just fine.

He looked at his canvas. A portrait is three things: the patience of the subject, the talent of the artist, and an expression of the relationship between the two. If that was true, as he had told Peren, and as he believed, then what was his painting of Jouet expressing?

He wasn't sure yet.

He sighed deeply, and turned his attention to the kitchen. He had never been a good cook-- for that matter, neither was Peren. He smiled. Robots were famously skilled cooks, part of their talent for taking care of the humans they cared about. He wondered if Jouet would ever be smart enough or whole enough to take care of Peren and himself.

That is, if Peren wanted to accompany him into the future. He looked back at Jouet and wondered if she would. If she had a choice in the matter. When he had acquired her, she'd been empty, blank. But she was made to learn how to be human. It just took time.

After dinner, he sat down next to Jouet and patted her hand. "Jouet, how do you feel?"

She turned her head, stiffly, then smiled. It was a natural smile, one of her best yet. He smiled back at her, unable to resist. "Sorry," he said. "I shouldn't.... " Jouet cocked her head, curiously. It was a natural gesture. "You learned that from Peren, didn't you?" she nodded. "Can you talk yet?" She shook her head. "Can you show me what you can say?"

She creased her eyebrows for a moment in concentration, then opened her mouth slightly. A stream of musical notes rippling with glossolaliac syllables came out, but her lips moved only slightly. The music was beautiful and familiar. He recognized some of Peren's work in it, but he knew what Jouet needed. "You don't see people talking much, do you?" He looked right into her eyes. "Watch my lips." He pointed. "You make sounds by moving them too. Can you practice?"

She made her lips move, and the sounds came out more structured, but the association of tones was all wrong. She was still trying to make music. He laughed. "You should be in a band." She smiled back. He could feel her frustration, but also her pleasure. "I'm sorry, Jouet. I know I should pay more attention to you. I should be paying more attention to you, with Peren gone, but..." It was funny how comfortable he'd become with her, first as a mere body, now as someone conscious, someone paying attention. "If I did, I might end up paying attention to you that way, and that wouldn't be right."

Her bishi eyes widened even further. She reached out and took his wrist in her hand with a weak grip. He looked down, surprised; she'd never before reached out to touch him that way. Whatever was and was not working inside Jouet, Darzi was glad that her protectiveness of him was high on the priority list: that hand felt like it could crush his bones if she wanted it to. "You want me to?" She nodded. "Really?" She nodded again, and smiled. "I'll have to wash you afterwards." The smile remained.

Darzi took off her clothes, taking each step slowly, exposing more of her. He was already knowledgeably intimate with Jouet's body, having studied it repeatedly while painting her. He knew from his current effort where every extra mark and odd pattern of body hair lay on her hips, buttocks and back. When he took off her shirt and touched her breasts, she didn't seem to react but the smiled stayed. He missed Peren all the more; she was a highly responsive fem, always letting him know when his touch felt good. Jouet, he knew, wanted to be used, but she needed to give back some sense of satisfaction of her own someday if she were to be more than a simple hump pillow. As his fingers explored her breasts, she was utterly still, and it was a little creepy to know someone was watching him, and yet the body he touched seemed still, sleeping.

He laid her down on the bed. Unlike the last few times when he'd had sex with her, before she'd been noticeably conscious, he decided to explore her up close. He kissed her mouth. She tried to respond, but her tongue flailed against his, trembled and didn't quite behave the way he expected. He kissed her chin. Odd little sounds, halfway between a church organ and a moan, escaped her throat as he kissed her chin, her chest. Her breasts were beautiful, small but round and proportionate, and they tasted right. At least, he imagined that they did. Darzi had had sex with only four people since coming to Discovery: Peren, Jouet, and two other models he had met early on, the ones who had just wanted a night of fun. He was grateful for Peren's willingness to pose not just once but over and over. Jouet, he reflected, simply did.

He kissed her belly button. Jouet showed signs of enjoying music, but whether she would enjoy his touch was still unresolved. Robots were supposed to enjoy the touch of their dedicant, but Jouet was half-formed, still in the processes of building herself. He kissed her mound softly, and then pushed her knees aside to give himself a better view of her pussy.

It was beautiful, but almost too much so. Her outer lips were soft and round without obscuring, and her inner lips were bare wings of pink flesh, flawless in their color. She had no pubic hair to speak of, and her clitoris was as obvious as a large lone pearl on silk roseate sheets. Her opening was visible, and light spilled into her, showing textures waiting for him. Her anus was a peach star of tiny pads and wrinkles with just enough variation to suggest nature. "Almost perfection. I guess perfection would feel cheap, though. I hope you like this."

He kissed her vulva. She tasted good, but she didn't give off the rich smells and tastes that Peren did. Without pubic hair, without any fur to speak of, her body didn't capture any scent she might generate. One more thing that made her seem less spirited. Less alive. She tasted good, and he heard her making her odd musical hum as he licked at her clitoris. Her body trembled, and he wondered if she could lose control of herself. Not in a way that could hurt him, Claude had agreed, but maybe Claude had not contemplated him doing this, down between Jouet's thighs, licking her pussy.

Her odd warbling ramped up suddenly to become a loud gush of sounds before settling back down to a hum. He raised his head and approached her. "Did you come?" he asked, cringing as he said it. It was the question guys aren't supposed to ask, but Jouet probably didn't know that and probably didn't care. Her eyes widened in response, looking surprised and pleased at whatever he did. She grinned and nodded.

"Can I... fuck you now?"

Another nod.

Darzi's erection was ready. He slid between her thighs, propped her legs open for his entrance, and slipped into her pussy easily. She was slick and tight, and it seemed almost as if her insides arranged themselves for maximum sensation. Maybe they did. Whatever it was, he crested quickly, coming inside Jouet in a fast, hard spasm. For a moment, the world didn't exist, only Jouet's warm body underneath him, then the dizziness passed and he was looking down at her. A tear slid down from her eye toward her ear. "Hey," he said. "It's all right. Did I do something wrong?"

She shook her head quickly. "Right?" A nod. "You want me to do that more?" Another nod. He smiled and kissed her cheek. "I'll try." He pushed himself off of her, lay on his back. "Whoof. Now I gotta clean you again."

He carried her to the shower, sat her down against the wall. She pushed her hands down. "Thanks," he said. He washed her body completely, worried that his own sweat would cling to her and grow stale. "It's been a while since I did that, huh?" he said as he watched his own semen bubble out of her.

He sprayed her vulva with his shower hose, cleaning her off. "I wonder if... can I watch you come?" She nodded. Her eyes were good at communication, if nothing else. He directed the hose toward her clit and played the spray over it, watching as her body went through an orgasmic cycle and she came in a torrent of noises like a cat crawling on an organ keyboard.

"Time to dry you off."