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an axiom of reducibility

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≐ Nick Valentine is the lemma to Danse’s doxa, and it tears his truths apart.

≆ Valentine is a machine, and holds no pretense of being anything but. He does not hide the wiring running down the missing parts of his face; he does not hide the exposed, unfinished mechanical hand; he does not wear the face of a man; he does not count his days in age, he does not think himself human.

≓ But maybe he is.

≘ He’s kind, he’s patient, he’s generous. He’s angry, he’s tired, he’s sharp. He’s beloved, he’s respected, he’s valued and remembered. He would be missed. He’s in love with a woman he’s never met. He misses a time he’s never known.

∄ Technology is not supposed to love or be loved. A thing is just a thing.

∌ Valentine is a synth, and synths are just things, but if things can be loved, if things can be kind and gentle and greet old friends on the streets and hide sweets in his pockets for the kids around the quarter and spend the night on the rooftop with his arm around a friend’s shoulder letting her cry on his coat about all the things that are broken around them and can’t be fixed with wonderglue, then nothing makes sense; and maybe it’s the Brotherhood who doesn’t get it, but maybe it’s Danse who doesn’t know a thing at all.

∆ Rose scraps enough caps to buy a broken jukebox from the junkyard, and Danse fixes it for her over an evening with beer and her odd lot of friends. He used to fix a lot of those back in the day, radios and jukeboxes are always in demand. Valentine dances with her, the first song that comes out of the canny speakers about holding someone’s hand, and she holds the steel frame of what would have been his hand, and Danse watches with his teeth clenched. Things are not supposed to dance.

∅ Danse is a thing.

≄ He wears the face of a man, and remembers his last birthday, and he bleeds red when shot, and maybe someone might miss him, but still he is a synth, it turns out, and synths are only things.

≏ Machines are not supposed to love or be loved, but his chest tightens and his heart feels things that machines are not supposed to feel when he thinks of Haylen risking her life to protect his, when he thinks of the ice in Arthur‘s last words to him, when he thinks of Cutler and the way his laughter used to sound. When he thinks of Rose and wishes he knew how to dance. Still nothing makes sense about this, and maybe it’s Danse who doesn’t get it, but maybe it’s the Brotherhood who doesn’t know a thing at all, in the end.

≗ Valentine does not resent him, does not hold the weight of his truths over him. A machine can be many things, but he has never known how to be cruel. Danse has never been gentle, or particularly kind, but he knows sorrow and he knows gratitude. He’s in love with a woman who does not care that his heart beats to the tick of a clock. He misses a time he’s not sure was ever real.

∦ Danse was wrong and it doesn’t taste good on his mouth, but knowing what he is feels more honest than pretending something he was never meant to be.

⋕ He takes Nick’s hand in his and fixes the nicked cog that kept catching on the sleeve of his coat.