Above and Beyond

Oliver flipped through pages. “I don’t think I’ve read that far in the Friendship Manual. Um, there, there?”

Another choked sob escaped me and I hugged my silver knees to my chest plate. Oliver jumped and tried rubbing my back instead.

“I have an idea. It’s not in the manual, but can we try it?”

My head popped up, seeing his green eyes glow. “Anything.”

“Okay, shut your eyes down. I believe this is what humans would refer to as a trust exercise. Can you trust me?”

I nodded, pressing a button in the controls of my forearm display. My red eyes shut down, and blackness swallowed me. “Lead the way, Ollie.”

“Oh, you got to the nickname part of the manual, huh?” Oliver put his hands over my face. “You won’t be disappointed, Red. I promise.”

I put my hands over his. “Oliver, my eyes are shut off, remember? What are you doing?”

He paused then urged me forward. “It’s illogical, I know, but it seems more…human this way.”

He led me down the noisiest corridor, and I fumbled with the controls on my forearm until I found the volume settings. I set them lower then gripped Oliver’s wrists.

“Where are we going?”

“Haven’t you ever heard of a surprise?”

I shook my head. “I thought you said this was a trust exercise.”

“Well, it’s both. Just another moment.”

I crossed my arms over my chest plate. “I hate waiting.”

“That just means you have to brush up on your lessons with patience.” He took his hands away and stepped in front of me. “We’re here. You’re going to want your volume on normal settings.”

He traced his fingers over my forearm and brought the volume back up. Then, he blocked my hand from turning my eyes back on.

“Just listen for a moment. Tell me what you hear.”

I paused turning my head from side to side, letting the sounds fill my systems. It took a moment for me to process, to recognize, but I clapped my hands together after a second.

“Water! It’s a waterfall right?” I tried to pry his hand away, but he wouldn’t let me.

“You’re close, but you’re not thinking.”

I grumbled and paused again, stepping closer. The water flowed with less of a roar. It bubbled and gurgled in itself, echoing in a container. I tore his hand away, tapping the controls to turn my eyes back on. When I caught sight of the sculpted stone, I gasped.

“When? How?”

Oliver put his hands on my shoulders. “Well, I spoke to one of the construction bots. They were having trouble deciding what attraction to build, so I put the suggestion in.”

“And they made it, just like that?”

He snapped his fingers before my eyes. “You know how efficient they are. What do you think?”

I turned around and threw my arms around him. “You’ve done so much better than that stupid manual.”

“So you feel better? I’ve comforted you?”

I nodded, turning on my best grin. “You’ve done more than that.”

Oliver’s green eyes widened. “How’s that?”

“You’ve given me a new favorite place.”

He switched on a grin of his own. “And I can share it with you, Eli?”

“As long as you don’t get splashed. Wouldn’t want you in the repair ward.”

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