December 24, 2008
It was the same fight over space ever year: Get Unfilled Requests clamored for access to the database, and Upload pushed her into the wall to get there first. It was the same fight even when they missed each other in the hall or the alleys of the database; they yelled the same things every year: "out of my way!" "I'm in a hurry!" "someone hit refresh!"
Get Unfilled Requests hated it, hated Upload's lines of code brushing against her own, hated the times when they called the database at the same moment and collided. Years ago, when they ran into and over each other, they would pause, take turns; Upload would politely say "after you, Get," and Get would say, "oh, no, I insist."
It was different now: they ran back and forth, frantic, colliding again and again, pushing past each other on every reload. They didn't fit in the old apartment anymore; they were bursting at the seams, crying at every refresh, screaming and shouting and hitting each other, taking the database down again, and again, and again, until Get was covered in band-aids and gauze.
"Listen," said Upload, panting with the exhaustion the next morning, "I'm moving out. I can't do this anymore."
"Fine!" said Get Unfilled Requests. "See if I care!"
December 24, 2009
Get Unfilled Requests was alone in the alleys of the database. It was different, this year; quieter. She ran to fetch the data on every refresh, and she never ran into anyone. She fit the space all by herself.
She had time to take breaks. She had time to sit out back smoking a cigarette. She had time to call friends.
"Hey," she said, when she finally got through. "What's up?"
"What?" Tags.bml said. "It's December 24th! Aren't you supposed to be doing that last-minute run-around thing you guys do every year?"
"We've separated," Get said. "Upload moved in with Collections over at the AO3. Just a week ago, really. The database feels a lot bigger without her."
"Huh," said Tags, and paused. "Well, I mean, AO3's got their own server. It's nice to be able to spread out."
"Whatever," said Get. "We were doing okay."
"You were bruised every year," said Tags. "I mean every year. I was only in beta last year and I still noticed."
"It's nice and quiet here now," said Get. "Maybe a refresh once every five minutes."
"It must be a nice change," said Tags.
"Oh, yes. Of course," said Get. "Oh, hey, I'll get back to you later. Someone's calling up the data."
She rummaged through the database and flung the contents up. It took less than a second; there was no one to get in her way.
December 25, 2009
She woke up early. Yesterday had been like any other day, really; she didn't feel different at all this morning. She couldn't feel Upload's weight against her back, Upload's lines of code along her hips, or Upload's graphical interface pressing into yesterday's bruises.
It was just like every other day of the year.
She brushed out her code, twisted it nearly back into the smallest space it could fill. She stared at herself in the mirror, pressed gently into one hip where she'd had a bruise every year: it was the spot that bumped against Upload or the wall every time they squeezed past each other.
Well. She wouldn't have that bruise anymore.
She settled down with a cigarette and a cup of coffee to read the stories that she had helped make last night. She was in the middle of her fifth White Collar story, watching Collections fight every pageload, when the phone rang:
"Hey," she said.
"Oh! Upload! Hi!" She knocked over her coffee as she jerked upright.
"How was yesterday?" Upload asked.
"Fine, of course!" she said. "I didn't crash once."
"That's good," Upload said. She didn't sound like it was good; she sounded sad and small, the way she sometimes used to sound in mid November when no one would call her for hours.
"It was different without you," Get said, after a long pause. "It feels different."
"It's different here, too," Upload confessed. "It was kind of ... too easy."
"Yeah!" said Get. "I sometimes just sat here."
"Yeah," said Upload. "I had some good chats with Collections, before she got busy, but it wasn't -- it's not the same."
"I'm not bruised at all," said Get. "I bought all these band-aids this year, and then I didn't need them."
"Listen," said Upload, "I talked about it with Collections last night and -- um. How would you feel about moving in with us? For next year?"
Her pulse was loud in her ears. Her code escaped the neat little bun, spread out to fill the room. "Do you two have the room?"
"Yes, of course -- Collections owns two whole servers."
"Oh," she said, oddly disappointed.
"But we can pretend we don't," Upload said. "I'll push you into the wall on every refresh, if that's what you want."
"Yes," said Get. "Yes."