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TEEN: Gift of Curiosity

Blackjack Gabbiani

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(notice, this fic is Turocest and I know that's not everyone's bag but I like it and so does the person I wrote it for. Has mild suggestive content and very slight alcohol in the form of a rum pastry)





When Turo awoke, it took him a second to remember where he was. Usually he slept in the lab, under the everpresent florescent lights, and would be greeted by the subtle beeping of machines.

But today, he was in a dark and quiet room--the former living quarters for when Zero Lab had hosted a larger staff than just him and...

...the AI that was standing at his side, smiling down at him.

"What the--" He jolted, body pulling into a semi-seated position supported on one arm. "What are you doing out of the lab?"

The AI's smile didn't waver. God that was such an awkward smile, pulling the sides of his mouth just a little too far back. But there was always something about it that Turo couldn't help but find charming. The earnestness in it, from a being that was entirely artificial, the only human thing about him being Turo's own memories, was a sign of both the AI's free thought and Turo's genius. "Sir, it is your birthday."

"Yeah, I know," Turo groaned as he rubbed at his eyes. "Is there a reason you woke me up with that?"

The AI tilted his head ever so slightly, narrowed his eyes ever so slightly. Signs of confusion. "I did not wake you. I was cautious to remain as silent as I could, and your REM cycle ended on its own." But he continued, resuming his normal placid expression. "I am not in the lab because I am engaging in the human custom of birthday wishes. I have a gift for you as well."

As the AI turned away to pick up something from the bed behind him, one that hadn't been slept in for at least a year, Turo stretched out and sat up. "You're really a curious one, aren't you?"

"Unclear. Curious as in wishing to uncover the secrets of the world? I get that from you." The AI turned back around, holding a small box. "Curious as in unusual or strange?" He smiled, not the full-mouth expression from a moment ago but a more subtle look. "I suppose I get that from you as well."

Turo laughed. "I guess you do. Now, what is this? And how did you get it?"

"You have authorized me to make purchases regarding the upkeep of the lab. This was part of yesterday's shipment. I was certain to hide it before you could see it."

The professor accepted the box, examining it closely. It had the logo of a bakery in Cortondo, something he seemed to recall was run by the gym leader there. "You're taking a bit of a risk here since I pick up the shipments. I could have seen this and snatched it up."

"But you did not. It was a worthwhile endeavor, I believe."

Turo was about to open the box when he stopped. "Sit down. You standing there staring at me is uncomfortable."

The AI obliged, sitting next to him on the bed but continuing to stare. Oh well, one out of two wasn't bad.

After a moment, he folded the top of the box back, revealing a strongly rum- and cinnamon-scented sponge cake, rolled up and topped with a toasted dollop of cream and sugar. "A pionono...How did you know?"

"I think we both know how I knew," the AI said with a sly smile. That was an advancement; a month ago he would have answered with some sort of scientific outline of the memory transferal process.

"I suppose we do." Turo raised the rare treat up, pushing aside the typical white paper and taking in an appreciative whiff. He wasn't much for most alcohol, but rum-soaked sweets were another matter. "You know, back when I was a kid, there was this bakery in Mesagoza...they'd sell these rum balls, and they'd never ask how old you were."

The AI did know, of course, just as he knew every other detail of Turo's memories, but only nodded.

"It always felt like we were getting away with something. But I guess the actual alcohol content was really low." He took another sniff. "And cinnamon always comes off as festive. It's funny how we humans associate something as general as an ingredient with a specific event or feeling." He licked a droplet of syrup off the side of the pionono, and he could swear the AI leaned forward ever so slightly, that his mechanical eyes slightly dilated.

But Turo would ignore it for now, or rather, he would pretend that he was ignoring it, and took another lick. Such a curious reaction had to be tested. He let a droplet bead up on his tongue before slowly drawing it back, licking his lips and glancing at the AI's expression. The placidity had given way to a parted mouth, fixed and dilated eyes that were far more intense than his usual direct stare, a slight shake to his usually steady hands.

Another test was needed. "Something on your mind?" Turo asked, voice calm and even, despite knowing that the AI could tell his heart was beating faster than usual.

"Um..." It was entirely atypical for the AI to stutter. "I um...do not properly know how to describe it, but watching you is leading to a strange reaction within me. An oddly organic one, I think..."

"Would you like a taste?" Though the AI couldn't eat, he could take in a small amount of material for chemical analysis, and Turo broke off just the right amount to press against the AI's lips. "Go ahead. It's always best to share presents like this."

If the AI were capable of drawing breath, Turo was positive that his creation would have gasped. As it was, the robot's eyes widened even more, lower lip fell a fraction of a centimeter further, granting enough room for the morsel to fall through. Somewhere in him, his programming took over, understanding this as a test to be performed, and he swallowed the offered gift. His eyes flashed for a moment, as they did when he was finalizing a result.

"Well?" Turo drew back up onto the bed in order to lean towards the AI, shifting towards him and covering one of the AI's hands with his own. "What did you learn from your...analysis?"

The AI looked away slightly, another unusual sight. "It is...very unhealthy..."

"Do you care?" Turo's hand trailed up the AI's arm, trailing a line on the body suit, up to his shoulder and past it, to his double's face, up the jawline and back behind his head.

With a glance backwards at the professor's action, as much of it as could be seen, the AI hesitated before meeting his creator's gaze again. "Not especially."

"I want to perform another test." Pausing only for a moment to take in the AI's confusion, Turo closed the gap between them to kiss his double.

It was a great relief to him that the AI seemed to understand immediately, returning the kiss and bringing his own hand to Turo's shoulder, pulling him a little closer. But then, of course he understood. They were of the same mind. It just took a little longer for the AI to understand things sometimes.

Though perhaps this time it was Turo who took longer to understand. The AI had long been more outwardly affectionate, a gentle touch to the hand here, a wish goodnight there...maybe Turo had just dismissed his creation as being naive or underdeveloped. He pulled back an inch or so and smiled. "I may have underestimated you."

"Then I believe," the AI whispered as he started to push Turo back into a laying position, taking care not to stray from the proximity to his face, "that you'll enjoy my second gift."
 
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