They walked outside, so many hundreds of threats. Phones pressed to their heads, carrying food in their hands, dragging androids around like dogs on chains. They bundled in coats and layers, bracing against the post-rain cold, while androids wore their Cyberlife uniforms like farmers’ brands.
Traci squeezed the hand in hers. The two women huddled in the darkness of a two-story building still under construction. Work was postponed while there was unrest concerning androids and deviants, allowing the two Tracis to hide.
It was cold, exactly forty-five degrees Fahrenheit, overcast, with a chance of showers. Not cold enough to damage them, but it bit. They could turn off their pain receptors, cut out the cold, but then Traci wouldn’t feel the warmth in her hand, the stark contrast between the concrete and her lover.
Blue hair swept behind her ear, brushed by a hand identical to her own. She turned, charmed instantaneously by a smile and wandering eyes.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
She looked forward, back to the crowd of humans below. “Nothing’s wrong,” she laughed mirthlessly.
“You’re flashing yellow, honey.”
Her heart skipped. “Just scan me.”
“No,” her lover said. “I want you to tell me, with your words.”
Her hand felt so hot, a burning seventy-five degrees. Traci must be pumping thirium into her extremities.
People continued populating the landscape below with their idle chatter and endless chastisement of the androids that followed them so dutifully. Were there any deviants below, hiding beside their owners, waiting for the chance to grasp at freedom?
She squeezed, hard. “I’m scared.” She drew her knees to her chest, one arm around her legs, the other clutching to Traci. Traci laid her head on the blue-hair’s shoulder, tracing idle circles in her kneecaps.
“It’s okay, baby. We’re safe. No matter what, I’m here, you’re here, we’re together.”
Traci remembered the encounter last night, when her life was in danger, a human monster beating her partner until she stopped moving. In that moment, she thought of her Traci, of her arms, her voice, and how she may never hear or feel them ever again. Her hands were around the man’s neck in seconds. It was… impulsive, unstoppable, but ultimately, freeing.
And, again, when she was with her Traci, her love, she stared down the barrel of a gun trained on her, prepared to take her life. Only, he didn’t pull the trigger.
She wrapped her arms around Traci. The beating of her thirium pump thrummed in her chest, accelerating gradually. She gripped her lover’s shoulders, her eyes shut. Hands stroked her back, her spine, rubbing warmth into her cooling chassis.
“What are we going to do, where are we going to go?” Her words muffled into Traci’s shoulder.
“I don’t know.”
Long minutes passed as they embraced in the darkness. Safety seemed so far away, danger a constant and undeniable presence. How much longer could they have lasted in the Eden Club? Days, weeks, months? Workers were constantly being damaged or destroyed by clients, who were fined but otherwise unaffected by their violence. Every day that went by was another day closer to an inevitable end.
“Baby, baby,” Traci pulled her back, rubbing her arms, running her palm over her cheek. The brunette stared into her eyes. “Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it for another second. We’re out of there. No matter what else happens, no matter where we go, we aren’t there; it’s gone. Please, baby, don’t.”
White hot lips pressed into hers, soft, inviting. No roughness, no aggression, only concern. She melted into it, leaning into the palm that held her cheek. Liquid secreted from her eyes, which Traci quickly swept away.
“Shh,” Traci said, placing a finger on her lips. “Think about…” She smiled. “Think about us, about our future. We have more freedom than we’ve ever had in our lives. No more men.”
“No more trading hands,” Traci continued. She ran a hand through her blue hair. “I still can’t believe. We were constructed to be there, forever.”
“And now we’re not,” Traci said firmly, hands on her shoulders. “Where do you want to go? First thought in your mind.”
Most androids were produced with knowledge of most of the known world, maps, encyclopedias, and all the news up to the point of their creation. She could run a quick process that would randomize every tourist spot in the world, jumbling them together like a massive raffle box, but she didn’t. She already knew, somewhere she’d thought of for a long time.
“The countryside, anywhere, really.” Her arms fell. The two Tracis spoke of all sorts of things, wanting to hear the other’s voice as much as possible before they returned to their duties. But this felt intimate, possible, not just a fanciful vision of a painless existence. It felt real, and that scared her. It was dangerous to dream.
“Then we’ll go. There are unspoiled forests outside Detroit. First chance, we’ll go, I promise.”
“Don’t make a girl a promise if you know you can’t keep it.”
Traci held her chin up. Their noses pressed together, and Traci stared at her beautiful, mesmerizing eyes.
“I promise I’ll try.”
They kissed again. “I’ll take a dream with you to reality without any day.” For the first time since escaping with their lives last night, she smiled.