The Turing Test 3, by dutchbuffy2305
Thumbnail: Sex with Robots is More Common than Most People Think
Timeline: Post NFA
Big hug to my beta mommanerd!
Author's website: http://home.planet.nl/~dutchbuffy2305;
Feedback: Yes, please, loads of it, to email@example.com
Buffy returned from a blood buying expedition to find her sister and her robot happily ensconced on the couch. What were they watching? Italian afternoon TV had never managed to grab her attention for long. Ah. She spied the closing scene of ‘I, Robot’. Trust Dawn to pick that one.
"See, Spikebot," Dawn lectured, "this robot wasn’t half as evolved as you are, but it still had free will. It didn’t want to do evil. You could be the same. Choose your own destiny and become a free bot!"
Spikebot looked up at Buffy and smiled sweetly, tilting his head. "I choose to be with Buffy. Voluntarily."
Buffy's heart glowed warmly and she smiled her widest smile back at her bot. "Damn right it is. I'm going to take my Spikebot out for a nice bracing workout. That’s free will too."
"No, Buffy, that’s you telling him what to do. Bot?"
The bot shrugged. "I like you too, Dawn. But slaying with Buffy makes my circuits tingle."
"But I want to watch AI with you! Look, that movie asks an existential question: is a robot as much a sentient as a human being? Can a robot dream?"
"Only about electric sheep," the bot smiled and got up to follow Buffy into the kitchen.
Dawn threw a pillow in their general direction. Buffy ducked and threw it back with Slayer accuracy.
"Leave Spikebot alone, Dawnie. If he wants free will he'll ask for it, right?"
"Right," Spikebot smiled slowly at her and curled his tongue. "Where are we going, love? Coliseum again, Forum Romanum?"
Buffy absently opened the fridge stared at yesterday's pizza and day before yesterday's lasagna. "Stroll along the Tiber?"
"Whatever you like, Buffy."
"I like it when you call me Buffy."
"I like it when you call me Spike. What other things could you call me?"
"How about baby? Honey? Lover?"
Spikebot grabbed her by the waist and kissed her slowly and thoroughly. Dawn made gagging noises from the direction of the door. Well, Dawn could shove her disapproval where the sun didn’t shine.
"You can’t have it both ways, Dawnie! Kissing and giving free will is not exactly mistreating.”
"It can too be both ways," Dawn said. "You're using him like your walking talking vibrator. How can that ever be good?"
"I thought I was treating him like a person. Where's the bad in that?"
"Buffy, he has no choice about it! No more than the microwave has."
"I think I have a few more options than on, off and defrost," the Spikebot said quietly.
“You have like combination oven microwave functions, Spike,” Buffy said fondly. “You have a crunchy setting, and I’m especially fond of your steaming.”
Buffy couldn’t see Dawn, because Spikebot was kissing her again, but she just knew Dawn was rolling her eyes and/or making other faces, none of them having to do with sisterly love and respect.
"Don't break your pretty little head about it, Nibblet."
"Dawn would like to lead the revolt of dishwashers and remote controls the world over," Buffy said.
"Don’t tease the girl, Buffy," Spikebot said.
"You're so human-centric, Buffy. As if all beings that have been made, not born, have to be lower creatures, without a soul or free will," Dawn said heatedly.
Ah. Now Buffy got it. Spikebot had gotten it from the start, apparently.
Buffy walked up to Dawn and embraced her. "I concede equal rights to all sentient creatures, whether animal, vegetable or mineral. Including Free Willy here."
"Hear, hear," Spikebot said.
Dawn made a big duh-face at her, but Buffy knew she’d hit the sore spot.
“Buffy? Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Buffy looked up from where she was lying, cuddled against the Spikebot’s chest, mindlessly stroking his forearm with a finger.
With a sigh Buffy entangled her limbs from the Spikebot. He didn’t speak, just regarded Dawn with his impenetrable blue gaze.
“You can have her back in a few minutes,” Dawn promised.
He smiled and reached for the remote. “Ta.”
Buffy sat down at the kitchen table. “Well?”
Dawn shuffled with her feet and then decided that sitting down and leaning earnestly forward would show the right attitude.
“Buffy,” she started again. “About the Spikebot.”
“Yeah?” Buffy said, expectant but still relaxed.
Dawn hoped that the relaxed bit was going to stay if she went on talking.
“You do know about the Spikebot, don’t you?”
Buffy tensed a little but her face remained smooth. “Sure. He’s back in the living room, surfing Italian channels for big breasted, fake-blonde presenters.”
Dawn rolled her eyes. What could you say to a sister who pretended she was a real blonde, even to the person who’d know her from her fifth year and who found the empty Miss Clairol packets in the bathroom bin?
“Yeah, well. I meant, you do know what he is, right?”
It would be so icky, and incredibly sad too, if Buffy didn’t know. For her and Spikebot.
“Of course I do, Dawn. What do you think I am, blind and insane?”
Better not answer that. There was no way to come out on points and still maintain self-respect.
So should she come out and ask what Buffy knew? For some reason she didn’t want to. She’d gotten vibes from both the bot and Buffy that the subject was absolutely to be avoided.
“So when did you know?”
Buffy smiled. “Within five minutes. Sooner, probably. Come on, I’m a vampire Slayer. You think I don’t know the difference between a robot and a vampire? Please.”
“That is so romantic!” Dawn squealed.
“You know what? Remember the Buffybot and how everybody thought it was you at first?”
Dawn prudently refrained from mentioning she had been among the headblind back then.
“Do I? One of the most humiliating moments in my life. When my best friends, my sister” - Crap, Buffy did remember – “thought I was a mindless, endlessly perky robot with too many teeth? How could I forget.”
“So it’s really only you who can distinguish between a robot and a vampire at first sight.”
Buffy looked at her oddly, as if she didn’t know what Dawn meant by saying that. They had been on the same wavelength just now, right?
“Actually, Dawn, yeah. I even managed to fool Spike for about a minute. Although I have to say in defense that he was majorly beaten up at that time.”
Dawn nodded. “That’s why I went to Willow to find out if he was real or not. Because it’s the worst thing for a person if everyone thinks they’re something they’re not. I just thought you should know.”
Buffy tensed for real now. “So Willow knows you mistook the Spikebot for the real Spike?”
“Do we know our Willow?”
“I guess we do,” Dawn answered slowly.
“So there’s gonna be trouble.”
Giles pressed Buffy’s buzzer and waited. He rubbed his eyes tiredly and set down his luggage. Was it possible to have jetlag if the time zone was only one hour earlier? It felt like jet lag, and a hangover and a crick in his neck combined. Travel was evil when you were over fifty and had been hit on the head as many times as he had.
To his surprise Willow opened the door. "Willow! Wonderful to see you, dear girl. Perhaps we can have a word alone for a minute before I meet the others?"
"Giles!" Buffy called out from the living room and ran to meet him. She hugged him tightly, but not as tight as she used to. He was actually quite gratified he rated hugging again. Relations had been a bit strained for quite a while after Sunnydale. She was looking a lot better too.
"Buffy, my dear, you look absolutely radiant."
"As long as you don’t mean that I look pregnant, I'm glad to hear it,” Buffy said and led him to the living room.
Giles tried to signal Willow with his eyes but she seemed oblivious to his winking and eyebrow waggling.
"Look who's here, guys,” Buffy said, "one long lost Watcher!"
Next to Dawn, who seemed about the same height as last time for a change, there sat a familiar white-haired figure, one paw around a glass of booze, an unlit cigarette in the other. The culprit himself.
"Giles!” Dawn waved gaily. "Have you come to check the Spikebot out? Here he is. Isn’t he just like the real thing?"
"As a matter of fact,” Giles began and removed his glasses to settle down for some lucid exposition.
Buffy interrupted him. "Leave the man alone for two seconds, Dawn. He just came off the plane. You know the hell that is Heathrow, not to mention Rome International. Giles, you want some coffee?"
Buffy sighed and worked harder than she had in a long time to keep Giles off the public speaking, where he was inevitably going to say all the things she wanted left unsaid. She didn’t see how she was going to be able to prevent it altogether, short of drugging his coffee or hitting him on the head. On that thought, she unearthed the Spikebot’s Scotch and poured Giles a generous amount.
"The sun’s at least a yard over the arm, Giles,” she said. "You look like you need it."
Giles took the glass, but since he had a Dawn-prepared cappuccino in his left hand he looked a tad panicky until Buffy rescued him and relieved him of the coffee.
She surveyed the room. It had been a long time since she’d seen so many Scoobies in one place. She wouldn’t be surprised if Xander showed up out of Africa to make the group complete. As usual, everybody was trying to have a say in her choice of lover, and she was determined that this time nobody was going to get in a word against him. She and the Spikebot together had things pretty much arranged to their liking and she didn’t need anybody butting in. She was feeling happier than she had in years, and if she was a little giddy, so what?
But no, they wouldn’t leave well enough alone. Dawn she could forgive for her curiosity and poking and prying, since she had a little more riding on it than just curiosity and a fondness of judging Buffy, and she’d help out now. But the others…
She pressed her lips firmly together. They’d had a tendency to curl upwards at the corners the past week, and that made it harder to hold on to a stern expression.
She could understand, though, why the powers or whoever that be had made Slayers tend toward depression. Being happy was hell on your focus and follow-through.
She observed how Willow was converging on Giles with a determined expression on her face. Dawn had owned up to going to Willow with her doubts and suspicions instead of to her, her sister, and Buffy knew Willow well enough that she could be made to doubt anything, except perhaps her own excellence.
Spikebot chose this moment to guffaw at something Dawn said and to cuff her playfully about the head. Yeah, like that was sensible. Worst moment, too. She caught his eye and he subsided into a smooth blandness of body language that was just amazing.
She'd have to act, she guessed, to get rid of the avid looks both Willow and Giles were wearing when they looked at Spikebot. That wouldn’t do at all.
"Willow, Giles, kitchen, now," she said, and was gratified when they both complied.
They responded well to urgency, still, like they used to in the Sunnydale days. Of course, then they always went off on their own peculiar tangents instead of listening to her intuitions like they should, since those always turned out to be right.
"Giles," Willow started, "did you find out anything about LA?"
"Buffy,” Giles started simultaneously, "I have to tell you, that this is…"
Buffy made the pause-sign, and when that didn’t work stomped her feet and shouted at them to shut up. They did, looking very surprised.
"Lemme get my say in first, okay?” Buffy said. "Willow, would you go into the hall and wait, and not speak to anybody about anything? Please? I need to talk to Giles for a moment."
Willow looked hurt. Not to know things, to be out of the loop, was one of the things Willow hated and dreaded the most. She’d just have to deal.
When Willow had left, Buffy stepped up closer to Giles.
"Giles. Dear Giles. I have a big, big favor to ask. Could you please say nothing about what you found out? Nothing, to nobody? Not to me, not to Willow, Andrew, Dawn, Spikebot, no one. Not even Xander if he suddenly shows up here. Or anybody in the whole world. Do you get it, Giles? I'm really, really happy like this, and that only works because of a kind of balance, a kind of deal I made. So I don’t want to know. That's the only way that this works."
"But Buffy," Giles began, baffled as she'd known he would be.
"Giles, we've had our differences. But you've been like a father to me, for a long time, and that was wonderful. But then I had to grow up, and I did, and could you please trust me to know what's best for my happiness? Don’t say anything. Let it be, okay?"
She looked up at him, willing him to get it. For once.
Giles stuttered, threw his hands in the air, stuffed them back in his pocket and started to pace, which the kitchen wasn’t really big enough for.
"Buffy, that's going against everything I hold dear. To know, to impart essential information is the very core of my professional integrity. I couldn't possibly - and Willow expressly asked me to -”
Buffy held silent, just looking at him and waiting.
"Not even Willow? As a professional courtesy? Because she asked?"
Buffy shook her head.
Giles puffed out his breath loudly. "Buffy, I can't..!"
"Are you happy? Are you sure? Is this what makes you happy?"
Buffy nodded and loosed the restraints on her smile. It burst out, tugging irrepressibly towards her ears. “I am. Really, truly, madly."
"Madly, truly, deeply, " Giles corrected automatically. "Alright. I will. Because you have the right to determine this for yourself. Yes. I will forever maintain my silence."
Buffy swallowed a lump in her throat, and even though the smile was still in place, her eyes welled over and she had to sniffle in a loud and undignified manner. Giles gravely held out a real, ironed, folded, pale blue checked handkerchief and that was too much. She hurled herself in his arms and had a wonderful moment that was both tweedy and blubbery.
"Thank you, dear, dear Giles. Thank you so much. I love you."
Giles coughed and blinked away a little mote of dust in his eyes.
"Yes, well, my dear girl. Gladly done. Be happy."
“I will," Buffy said.
She glanced at the closed door. She hoped Willow had had the restraint not to have her ear pressed up against it. She tiptoed over to it and jerked it open. Good. Willow was sullenly leading against the opposite wall.
"Willow! Please come in."
"You guys done talking secrets I'm not allowed to hear?" Willow said, sulking predictably.
"We just needed to have a little Slayer-Watcher closing ceremony kind of moment,” Buffy said. "No big."
"Well?” Willow said. "What’s the sitch? Trouble brewing? "
Buffy looked at Giles.
He coughed and got out the handkerchief again to polish his glasses, but Buffy snot and tears had rendered it into something like an oyster without the shell. He made do with a slip of his shirt.
"Willow, Buffy’s asked me not to disclose the information from LA. For private reasons. But I think you will find that Andrew has spoken the truth to you throughout."
Willow’s face fell for a moment, but then she brightened. "Cool. I knew I would have sensed it if that little weasel was double crossing me. Ha. I'm the best robot software designer ever."
The lock snicked and Buffy heard Andrew come in. She made mental note to make him give back his key. He didn’t live here anymore; no need for him to come in at all hours.
"Hi Andrew!" Willow said brightly.
"Hi Willow, Buffy, Giles,” Andrew said, throwing an assessing look at Buffy from the corners of his eyes.
"Hi Andrew,” Buffy said and hugged him. "You did such great work on the bot, it’s really awesome. I'm still super happy with him. He walks, talk, patrols - I couldn’t wish for more."
Andrew looked relieved. Oops. She'd better not forget to include Willow.
"And you too, Will. It's amazing, the job you guys did."
"Absolutely," Giles agreed.
They all trooped back to the living room, and Buffy smiled widely at Dawn and the Spikebot to signal all was well.
"It's like a party!” Andrew crowed. "A Scooby gang reunion, celebrating all those years we worked and fought together!"
"Andrew…" Willow warned.
"Okay, so me, not so much, but in spirit I was always with you guys, Just like Jonathan."
"Have some popcorn, Andrew," Buffy offered. Anything to stop up the Andrew mouth thing.
The bell rang.
"Wouldn’t it be perfect if that was the missing Scooby?" Andrew went on, undeterred by a mouthful of maize kernels.
Buffy went to open the door and got caught in a crushing hug by a bronzed one-eyed giant, smelling off cloves, curry and airplane food.
"Xander!" she squeaked. "You look great. You’re so thin, and so tan!"
"African food and sunshine will do that for ya,” Xander agreed. "Are those the voices of red haired witches and again librarians I hear? I smell the sweet scent of Sunnydale High memories!"
"Come in, come in,” Buffy said.
She hadn’t decided yet if she felt hijacked or overjoyed by this hefty dose of past friendships. Her smile had no qualms though, it just went all out and she decided to go along with it.
"Xander!" Willow screamed and jumped him.
Dawn have an identical shriek and joined the ongoing huddle.
Giles smiled and waited with that patient thing he did, because he was old and British like that.
"Harris," a deep voice said, calmly, and Xander twitched visibly.
Xander made a gap between the two sweet girls covering him and espied the form of a formerly much despised, grudgingly accepted ally whose file he’d closed and put away in a deep drawer to gather dust. A quick survey of the room told him everyone was smiling. So Spike being back was a happy occasion, he guessed. Well. Gosh darn. A Harris could be gracious and flexible, too, and he had nothing to fear anyway.
"Spike!" he boomed. "Back from the dead. Again. How’s hell been treating ya?"
It’s not as if he was insensitive. Really not. He could tell straightaway that there was flinching going on, and Willow was making frantic signs at him he’d forgotten how to interpret. Had those hand signals meant something to him in grade school? He couldn’t remember, but he’d learned something. Once he’d have reacted to tension with frantic babbling to hide his insecurity, but he was a man of the world now, experienced at dealing with strange cultures. Shutting up and smiling was generally a good bet and tided you over until you could make sense of it all. And even if that point was never reached, which happened more often than you'd think, you hadn’t insulted anyone. All that was missing now was someone offering him goat and fermented mare’s milk. The new, suave Xander Harris didn’t balk at either of those things, no sir. Cosmopolitan, global citizen, that was him.
The brilliant Harris strategy was working, because the twitching subsided and the smile reappeared. He smiled and accepted coke and pop-corn, allowing the girls to seat him between them. Yep, you could never go back to high school, Xander reflected sadly. The friends you once knew how to read down to the slightest wiggle and snort, now were like alien beings or African villagers. Life was just like that. Reared up and bit you in the toned butt without warning.
Buffy’s hand snuck out and pinched the Spikebot’s butt. He twitched and threw her one of these blue, languid looks that made her turn to Jell-O-Buffy on the inside. The evening had been much fun, seeing all her old friends together, but now she just wanted to go out and patrol with the Bot until they both couldn’t stand.
“Duty calls, people,” she said, standing up and holding out her hand to Spikebot, who took it as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Which it had been, a whole week already. The best week of her life.
“Axe?” Spikebot suggested and hefted Axcalibur.
“Nah, it’s wasted on the local talent. I’ll go with the sword and a fresh stake. You’re still the best at whittling, you know.”
“Dawn and me had some time on our hands. Our pleasure.”
Buffy sniffed the smooth, wickedly pointed stake. “The nice, piney smell of new stake. That’s always a good start to a patrol.”
Spikebot slung on his duster and held out his hand. “Let’s go kill something, Buffy.”
They dusted a few hapless cruising tourists who spoke only their own weird language.
“Do you know what they were saying, Spike?”
Spikebot shrugged and slapped some dust from his shiny black sleeve. “Sounded Transylvanian to me. Looking for Dracula.”
“Really? You think I killed Drac, you know, way back when?”
“Doubt it. Bugger’s too bloody slippery to get killed that easily. Dunno what they wanted from you. Mostly missed the finer points, you know. Don’t really speak Transylvanian beyond, like, point me to the virgins, or um, there’s a spot on your neck, can I help you wipe it off?”
“Right. Still. It’s always nice to know there’s bad guys who are out for me. Makes a Slayer feel like she’s still making an impression on the world.”
Spike pushed her against an ancient stone wall and kissed her roughly. Kissing against monuments was one of those things that made living in Rome extra special. American walls in your back always felt more transient. Flimsy modern stuff. Not like this wall was gonna fall down the minute your vampire banged you up against it.
They strolled on.
“You know, Spike, since evil doesn’t really come looking for me anymore, because they probably get waylaid on the next corner by one of the gazillion Slayers out there, how about we go looking for it? Spike & Buffy, Inc, You name it, We Kill It?”
“Sounds dandy, Slayer. I’d go for it. We’d have to figure out some kind of rating structure, though, billing could be a pain.”
“Whoa, you really have been working for a law firm, honey.”
Spikebot’s answer was muffled in a dull thump. His hand was torn out of Buffy’s and she couldn’t see him anymore; he was covered by a heaving mass of bright pink Jell-O with raisins in it, or anyway the demonic equivalent, like evil raisins, she guessed.
“Spike!” she yelled and hacked at the Jell-O blob. It parted easily and emitted a stream of stinky chartreuse gas.
“Shocking pink and chartreuse, are you kidding me? That is so last year. Is that what I’m reduced, killing last year’s demons? Well, my powers are better than ever, and I’ll show you a fashion disaster if you don’t let go of my boyfriend!”
Buffy stabbed the thing through one of its raisins and it knotted and twisted and started to split into two.
“Die! Die, you evil monster!”
A splotch of monster fell on her hand and burned like acid. Oh God, it might even dissolve a vampire? She’d like discovered a whole new way of killing vampires. She could carry a big tank of acid on her back and spray them to death. The fear bunched in Buffy’s chest and she hacked more frantically. No, she couldn’t! She might accidentally hack of Spike’s head!
She sobbed, panicking, slicing away at the edges of the two blobs, but they only turned into more separate blobs and Spike was nowhere to be seen.
“Um, Slayer? What are you doing? You’re only making more of them. "
Buffy gasped at the sound of Spike's voice and turned to see him standing there, the bastard, smirking and smoking and generally being completely okay and undamaged.
She took a deep breath to tell him exactly what she thought of him and was shocked at the noise that came out of her mouth. "Ï hate you!" she screamed. "I hate you Ï hate you Ï hate you!"
She fell on him, her hands flailing at his solid presence, sobbing too hard to speak.
Spike just held her very tightly. "Shh, love, Buffy, it’s alright, I'm here. Never leaving you."
"You just did!" she said. "You left. You were gone. I couldn’t; find you."
"Shh. I'll always find my way back to you, don’t forget. Always."
His lips were cool and delicious against her heated skin. He licked the tears away from her cheeks and they stumbled, almost losing their balance, as their embrace became more urgent.
"Spike…I love you so much."
"Love you too, Buffy."
Spike ended up with his back against one of Rome's nice solid walls, and Buffy held on tightly to the lapels of his coat as she stood on tiptoe to kiss him. She needed to be closer, why were they wearing all these silly clothes, that weren’t even necessary in Rome's mild climate. She jerked that stupid heavy coat down his shoulders, so that just a strip of creamy skin showed between the bunched material and his sleeves. She kissed that piece of skin, which was maybe the softest on his whole body, right there on the inside of his arm where it bulged over his biceps.
“I love your arms,” she said.
Spike laughed. “Love yours, too, sweetheart.”
“I mean it!” she said and bit lightly into the smooth springy stuff under her lips.
Spike growled deep in his chest and ripped her shirt off in one fast, unexpected movement. Buffy’s breath left her in a squeaky sigh and she closed her eyes and stilled her busy hands, wishing she could just feel and have the feelings wash over her. She wanted to be submerged.
Spike sensed her mood and Buffy gave over to sensations, rough stone against her back, rough velvet hands under her ass as she was lifted up against his body, the cool night air on her heated, moist flesh, the friction of his cock sliding inside her, feeling like heat while she knew it wasn’t.
With her eyes tightly shut every sensation was tripled, more important. Her hands clenched of their own accord, because she sure wasn’t up to sending them commands, she was all feeling. Love and lust careened through her yearning, passive body and passed through to Spike, who labored and panted and grunted harshly into her mouth.
“It’s never been like this before, Spike, right?”
“Never, love, never,” Spike said into her neck and his whole body shuddered against her. Buffy couldn’t remember if she had come, but it didn’t matter. They were one. The slightest movement of his hands on her skin made her insides flutter and clench, a kiss sent her into raptures of color after color flashing against her closed eyelids.