"Jake, it seems you are overheating. I really must insist that you stop this foolishness." Jake pushed his hair out of his eyes, limp and gross with sweat. "It's okay!" he panted. "Just half a tick more!" He felt along the rock surface above him, finding a small indent, maybe an inch, to take hold of and haul himself up.
"You seem to be neglecting to include the roughness of the terrain in your calculations of your ability to reach your destination unscathed. This is not a time to be foolish; sunstroke is a serious thing. A thing you will be suffering from shortly, if my readings of your vitals are anything to go by."
Jake loosed a breathy laugh, pushing up with his left leg so he could fit his right into the next hold, testing it for a moment before putting all his weight on it and pushing up again, repeating the process. "I"m fine!" he said, even if he wasn't really. It really WAS hot out, the sun baking the cliff face he was climbing so that, even when he was out of direct light,he could feel the warmth radiating out from the rock and soaking into his skin. It might have been nice, if he were on a night climb, but in the middle of the afternoon, it just made his vision swim. But he was almost at the top. Almost.
"You could, at the very least, shed this ridiculous coat," the synthesized voice in his ear said. "I got this," Jake responded. Auto was right about the coat being hard to climb in, but Jake didn't want to take it off and let his only means of communication with the AR fall to the ground hundreds of feet below. Besides, he was almost to the top. He could see the edge. It was there, just RIGHT THERE. He hauled himself up, shifting his weight to his right leg to oh shit OH SHIT
The hold gave under his foot, crumbling to dust just a foot from the top. Jake scrambled, fingers digging into the rock as he struggled to keep from falling. Then there was a hand around his wrist, cool metal halting his fall just like a daring last-minute rescue from one of his movies. The hand pulled him up, Jake tumbling into Brobot when he was hauled over the edge, limbs kitten-weak with exhaustion. "Hey chap," he said, giving a trembling smile. "Thanks for the hand."
Brobot stared at him.
In his ear the AR was shouting at him, a mix of creative cursing and panicked inquiries after his health. Jake rolled off Brobot, dust puffing up around him as he stretched out on the ground, looking up at the sky. "I'm doing fine," he told the AR. "Just dandy."
Brobot shifted next to him, resting a hand lightly on his chest. "Auto's yelling at me," he told Brobot, letting out a shaky laugh. "Ey should know you'd never let me get hurt." The AR went silent in his ear, and Brobot tilted his head.
Jake wished again that Brobot could talk; it was sort of impossible to read someone who couldn't move their face or make a sound that wasn't so distorted and synthesized as to be unrecognizable. The AR spoke up in his ear again, and Jake was reminded of how odd it was, to have one friend he could talk to, but not see, and one friend he could see, but not talk to. "Yes, I suppose he will always be there for you, won't he."
Jake put his hand over Brobot's, idly tracing the rivet lines in his hand. "I expect both of you will be," he said. "You got the climb, he got the rescue. I'd say you both came out ahead."
The AR was silent for a moment, then, "What was it that was so important for you to be up here for, again?"
Jake hauled himself to his feet, Brobot rising with him. His hand slid down to the bot's, squeezing the metal extra tight to activate his pressure-sensors, even if he couldn't strictly feel it.
"This," he said simply, looking out from the cliff top. The whole island stretched out before him, the slanting light of the afternoon sun casting it in patterns of dappled shadow and golden sunlight, setting the ocean in the distance ablaze with glitter. "I thought you might like to see it," he said softly, "the way I see it. Not just an aerial photo from a satellite, but. Home."
The AR made a soft "Oh" in his ear, and Jake pinched the material of the coat between his fingers, rubbing back and forth. "I wish you could be here," he said, voice quiet and subdued.
Brobot squeezed his hand back just as the AR said, "I am."