Caution: Ears Very Sensitive
Handle With Care: Emotions Fragile
Warning: Dangerously Easy To Fall In Love With
“What the fuck,” Leonard Snart scoffed to himself, his eyes moving over the unusual labels plastered on the pod before him. They were all handwritten, a neat and tidy script, perfectly arranged on the center of the lid.
“Should we open it?” Mick Rory asked with a grunt. “Looks custom. Could be worth somethin’ if anybody’s home.”
“Let’s have a little looksie,” Snart declared, “Companions are always worth something even if they don’t crank.”
Companions; synthetic humans that were arguably the best and worst thing to happen to society. Perfect and obedient, they had nearly replaced the entire human work force.
Why hire a fleshie when it was cheaper to buy a Companion?
They never got sick, were never late, and worked endlessly for nothing. They required only the most minimal maintenance and boasted an internal processing unit that could keep them running without fail for up to ten years.
Hundreds of thousands had been laid off since their inception and the public outcry was harsh. The laboratories that produced them were frequent targets of violence and the machines themselves were openly attacked on the streets.
Popular opinion was not positive to say the least.
But for men like Snart and Rory, men who liked to take what they wanted, Companions were a blessing.
The robotic wonders had taken over many industries from human workers including private security. No matter how flawless the model or design, all Companions were still machines.
Thanks to a lovely invention called a CAD, any facility protected by Companions was a breeze to infiltrate. The handheld device emitted a special electromagnetic pulse that targeted their internal processor and shut them down immediately.
It was how Rory and Snart had been able to effortlessly break into one of the highly secured Allen Cooperative warehouses, the original and largest manufacturer of Companions in the entire world. Snart had quickly disarmed the elaborate alarm system and a few zaps of the CAD courtesy of Rory took out all the Companion guards.
They had come here to steal specific equipment for Cisco Ramon, the very rogue scientist who had invented the CAD device. The tools he had requested were pitiful prizes compared to the unexpected treat of finding a Companion ripe for the taking.
“Would you be a dear?” Snart asked sweetly, gesturing towards the pod. It was locked down tightly and well beyond his strength to move.
“Gladly.” Rory smirked, feeling along the edge of the lid to pry it open. He only used his right hand, cracking the seal effortlessly with a wink.
Although he was quite human, Rory had undergone an Ameliorate Procedure, a surgery that gave humans synthetic parts and often gifted them with incredible skills. When third degree burns on his right arm became infected and he was in danger of losing the limb, he had chosen to upgrade.
The top of the pod lifted up with a groan, Snart treated to the incredible visage of the most beautiful young man he’d ever seen. The sight actually made his breath catch, drawn in by lush lashes and long legs. He nearly mistook him for an actual human being because he was so very lifelike, but no human could possibly be this gorgeous.
“Pretty,” Rory said, whistling low as he looked the unit over. “Huh. No seams. That’s weird.”
Snart lifted up the Companion’s arm, finding its skin totally pristine. There was no sign that it had ever touched the inside of a mold. “Hmm. Definitely a custom piece.”
The Companion was only covered by a thin gown and briefs, Snart trying not to let his gaze linger for too long. He checked the processor, holding his hand against the Companion’s chest to feel for a mechanical thrum.
“It will probably not be pleasant to carry it out of here.” Snart mused, pursing his lips thoughtfully. “But still...”
“We already have what we came here for,” Rory pointed out. “Think it’s really worth the fuckin’ backache?”
Companions were notoriously heavy because of their numerous metallic parts, weighing several times that of a human being. Even with Rory’s upgraded mechanics, it would be a chore.
“Never seen one like this,” Snart countered. “I bet Ramon would pay us well. Even his little toys don’t look this real. It’s probably somebody’s little love bot. Worth a fortune.”
“Can you flip its switch? Maybe have it take a little stroll out of here with us?”
“Mmm...” Snart did a quick scan of the Companion, feeling along its neck and chest for a button. Most units had a distinct switch for activation, but he couldn’t find one. “Nothing.”
“If we’re gonna take it, let’s go,” Rory grunted, shifting the bag of their stolen goods up on his shoulder. “I’ll haul it.”
Snart began to lift the Companion out of the pod, surprised to find it much lighter than he had expected. He easily hoisted it up into his arms, finding it didn’t even weigh as much as an actual human of this size would have.
“You got it?” Rory quirked a surprised brow.
“Doesn’t weigh shit,” Snart replied. “Let’s go.”
They hauled their prizes back to the warehouse they operated out of, a desolate space with two beds and a small kitchen. It was a place of mere function, satisfying only the most basic needs they required while working on jobs.
Snart dragged the Companion over to one of the beds and dropped him down, huffing, “Call Ramon. Let him know we got what he ordered plus a little bonus.”
“You got it,” Rory replied, taking his cell phone and heading outside to make the call.
The Companion had landed face down, its arms all askew. Snart didn’t know why, but he caught himself rolling it over and straightening it out. He rolled his eyes, stepping away from it with a sigh.
He shouldn’t care.
While it looked human, that thing on the bed was nothing more than a fancy toaster.
“Ramon says he’s interested, but only if it cranks,” Rory said upon his return. “Wants to meet us tonight to get all the goodies and pay up.”
“Good,” Snart said curtly. “I’m sure he will be very pleased with everything the Cooperative was so generously able to provide.”
“I’m gonna go get us some grub,” Rory said, gesturing to the Companion. “You gonna get that thing switched on or just stare at it?”
“I’ll handle it,” Snart scoffed. “And no pickles this time.”
Rory snickered to himself, waving as he left again, the door locking tight behind him.
Snart sat down beside the Companion, carefully pushing the gown out of his way to start looking for the switch. All Companions had one. He just had to find it.
He checked in the usual hiding places; behind its ears, the back of its neck, its chest, even in its belly button.
Snart grimaced, looking over the one area he hadn’t yet inspected;
Beneath those clingy little white briefs.
He grumbled to himself as he pulled them down and out of his way. This shouldn’t feel so dirty. It was no different than trying to find the switch on a toaster.
Although he had never seen a toaster that had been given such a perfectly lovely cock with a light dusting of curly hair or so many cute little moles... oh, damn it.
Snart was actually embarrassed.
He turned his head, hoping if he couldn’t see what he was doing it would make this less weird. As his fingers slid along soft skin that felt so impossibly human, it really didn’t help. He checked around the Companion’s inner thigh, sweeping over his balls and quickly pressing behind them.
There, a distinct metal ring trapped beneath otherwise human flesh.
Snart couldn’t begin to imagine what sort of sick man decided to put the Companion’s switch there, but it certainly supported the theory that this one had been made to be a love bot.
His index finger carefully traced around the ring, finding a slight indentation and pushing in. He waited, glancing up at the Companion’s face to watch for any signs of activity. Nothing seemed to be happening.
Snart had seen other Companions activated before. It was always startling and jerky, a seizure of excited limbs as all the complicated systems came online. But this one wasn’t doing anything. He frowned, pushing again, harder this time.
Fuck, maybe the damn thing was broken.
Snart shifted down between the Companion’s legs, pushing up his balls to get a better look at the design of the switch. It was centered on the seam of its taint, just above a very pretty pink hole. He ignored the enticing sight, trying to figure out if there was another angle he should be pressing the switch at.
He suddenly heard a soft gasp, looking up to find gorgeous hazel eyes staring down at him, wide with surprise.
The Companion was awake and blushing vividly.
Snart froze, his face practically buried between its thighs and hating how he felt like he’d been caught doing something lecherous.
Just a toaster, he told himself. A fucking toaster.
The Companion reached down, the tips of its fingers gently touching Snart’s cheek. It was looking at him so tenderly, something so very familiar about all of this.
“Good, you’re not broken,” Snart said quickly, sitting up and moving away from it.
The Companion’s eyes followed him, deceptively warm and alive, the blush creeping all the way down to its chest. It scooted back against the headboard, tucking its legs up and hugging itself.
“What’s your model?” Snart asked firmly.
It stared at him.
“Hey! Your model?” Snart demanded. “Make? Unit?” He frowned, watching the Companion skeptically. Damn thing was acting like it was bashful.
What kind of ridiculous protocol was that?
It shook its head, pouting up at Snart.
“Name?” Snart tried desperately.
“Barry,” it replied quietly.
“Okay, Barry. What kind of Companion are you?”
“Barry,” it said again stubbornly, frowning.
Snart rubbed his forehead, sighing, “Let me guess. That’s all you can say?”
“Barry,” it mumbled, sighing frustratedly as well. It wrapped the blanket from the end of the bed around its waist to cover itself, rising from the bed to approach Snart.
Snart watched it carefully, surprised how fluid its movements were. It was so graceful that he almost couldn’t believe it wasn’t human.
Barry stood before Snart, smiling shyly and reaching again to touch him.
Snart flinched, grabbing its wrist to stop it.
Barry was undeterred, using the opportunity to press the back of Snart’s hand to its cheek instead. The gesture was loving, its beautiful eyes gazing at him with such a depth of emotion that it took Snart’s breath away.
The Companion’s skin was so warm, practically feverish, and Snart was certain he could feel an actual intelligence looking back at him.
“Barry,” it said again, insistently, desperately trying to communicate something Snart didn’t understand.
“Cease,” Snart said firmly, frowning when the command didn’t work. “Stop. Sleep? Sleep mode?”
“Barry!” Barry groaned loudly as if in complaint and rolled his eyes.
Snart wanted to scream. The damn toaster had just rolled its eyes at him and was completely ignoring any verbal commands. This was too damn strange. He tried to pull his hand away, trying now, “Please don’t touch me. I don’t like it.”
“Ba, Barry,” it said, immediately letting go and frowning softly. It looked sad and that little pout hit Snart somewhere deep in his gut.
“It’s okay,” Snart found himself saying, grabbing some clothes from the bedside. Fuck, he had almost started to apologize. Maybe this would be easier if the damn thing wasn’t naked. “Here.”
Barry let the blanket fall away and dressed himself quickly, smiling happily at the gift. The jeans were a little loose, but the sweater fit nicely. He tilted his head, saying carefully, “Bar-ry.”
“Mm, is that you saying ‘thank you’?” Snart snorted.
It gave him a thumb’s up.
“All right,” Snart purred, crossing his arms over his chest. “So, you don’t know your make or model?”
“No idea who your owner is? Who made you?”
Another thumb’s down.
“Fabulous. An android with amnesia. Mm, or is this the first time you’ve been activated?”
Barry frowned, shrugging. He curled his hand up as if holding a pen and writing in the air, saying urgently, “Barry. Barrrrrry!”
“Hold on.” Snart grabbed a notepad from the kitchen and found a stubby pencil in one of the drawers. He offered them out to Barry, watching him rapidly scribble away.
I dreamed about you
“Companions don’t dream,” Snart said firmly.
I did, was the aggressively written response. I know you!!!
“That’s impossible,” Snart said, his patience quickly wearing thin. He usually had a very cool temperament, but his head was starting to hurt. “Look, we’re going to take you to see someone that might be able to fix you, okay?”
“You can’t talk,” Snart drawled. “I have no idea what you’re supposed to do and you’re useless if you can’t speak. Do you understand?”
Barry’s face twisted into another pout, whining softly. His eyes were shimmering with tears, frustrated and throwing the paper on the floor.
Snart moved closer, staring in shock as a tear actually began to slide down Barry’s cheek.
Handle With Care: Emotions Fragile
Barry blinked up at him, holding his hands out to gesture helplessly.
Snart gently touched the tear making its way down Barry’s face, finding it warm and the liquid shimmering as if full of gold flecks. He turned his curiosity into comfort, palming Barry’s cheek as he promised, “I will help you.”
Barry’s eyes closed, sighing softly and mouthing ‘Thank you’.
Snart’s smile held a wicked edge, looking over the gorgeous and strange Companion with avarice on his mind.
Oh, this little toaster was gonna be worth a fortune.
He slid his hand down Barry’s neck, his thumb absently brushing against his ear lobe. He watched the Companion visibly shiver at his touch, curiously reaching up to do it again.
Barry seemed confused, his pretty eyes blinking rapidly as if he didn’t understand what was happening. He leaned into Snart’s hand, wordlessly asking for more, moaning softly when he caressed the outer shell of his ear.
Caution: Ears Very Sensitive
Snart’s cock immediately twitched with interest, that sound waking up something deep within him. It was full of lust and yet innocent in its depth, a declaration of pleasure that was most unexpected.
Oh, he definitely needed to hear that again.
Barry moaned louder as Snart stroked his ear, his lips parting to gasp for air he didn’t need. His entire body shuddered, his skin flushing anew. When he looked at Snart again, there was a hunger in his gaze that was positively ravenous.
Snart rationalized that it was a programmed response to having his ears touched, some sort of pleasure protocol for initiating sexual activity. Even though the heat in Barry’s eyes made his loins ache, he continued to tell himself it wasn’t real.
Barry’s lovely mouth was begging for a kiss, Snart feeling himself drawn in and unable to resist. He was helpless, totally enslaved by lush lashes and that sweet pout. It shouldn’t be possible for a machine to wield this kind of power.
“Hey, you got it up,” Rory’s voice called out, slamming the door behind him as he walked in with an armful of food. He looked over the Companion with a grunt. “Damn, it’s pretty.”
“Yes, it is,” Snart said, shaking off the intoxicating spell and clearing his throat.
“Barry,” Barry said with a faint grumble, pulling away from Snart and rubbing at his ear. He sighed longingly, clearly displeased with being interrupted.
Snart was surprised to find that he was also disappointed, but grateful. He wasn’t sure what he would have done if Rory hadn’t shown up. He took his bag of food, sitting down on the bed.
Barry sat beside him, watching him with a soft smile and Snart could feel an inviting warmth radiating off of him. He did his best to ignore it.
Snart couldn’t be attracted to a toaster; especially one he was intent on selling in a few hours.
“So. It’s called Barry?” Rory asked, plopping down across from them on his bed and pulling out a box of fries. “What the fuck kinda bot is a Barry?”
“That’s all the damn thing will say,” Snart snorted, picking at his burger absently, “but it makes very lovely noises if you touch its ears. Some sort of pleasure protocol, I think.”
Barry whined suddenly, his brows furrowing up in anger. He looked betrayed, scooting away from Snart and scowling.
“Oh, really?” Rory reached over, his thick fingers aimed right for Barry’s ears. “Let’s see, huh.”
Barry gasped, rearing back and smacking Rory’s hand away. “Barry! Barrrrry! Barry!”
“Damn!” Rory burst out laughing, withdrawing his hand and shaking off the sting of Barry’s strike. “Ha, feisty little bot! Guess he don’t like me.”
“Guess not,” Snart mused, quirking a brow. He had never heard of a Companion refusing someone like that before, much less becoming so physical.
Barry had allowed Snart to touch him so letting Rory do it shouldn’t have been a problem.
The idea that Barry had refused because he didn’t like him was ridiculous. Companions didn’t have the capacity to like or dislike anything. While they were very sophisticated machines that could be programmed with specific behavioral parameters, all of their responses were mere predetermined simulations.
It wasn’t possible for them to have any sort of preferences because that required emotions they didn’t possess. They could be wired to show favoritism to their owner, but Barry didn’t belong to Snart. It didn’t make any sense.
More troubling was that Barry had struck Rory. Yes, it had only been a small slap, but all Companions were programmed to never harm a human being. It was hard wired into them from the moment they were created, a failsafe in their internal processor that could not be overridden.
Even Companions who worked security could only use non-lethal means to stop an intruder. It was why people were able to so fearlessly attack them despite all of their vastly superior physical capabilities. They couldn’t possibly fight back.
Snart continued to watch Barry very carefully, the gears in his brain ticking away. There were many things no Companion was supposed to be able to that Barry could. He could already smell the money rolling in, certain they had found a very unique prize that would earn them a fortune.
Licking grease from his palm as he finished eating, Rory asked, “You ready to close this shit out and take Barry to its new home?”
“Let’s go,” Snart agreed. “The sooner, the better.”
“You ain’t eating?” Rory nodded at Snart’s untouched food. “I told those fuckers no pickles.”
“I’m much more interested in getting paid,” Snart replied briskly, standing up and waving at Barry. “Come on. We’re going to go see a very good friend of ours.”
Barry frowned, crossing his arms and refusing to budge. He huffed, turning his head and staring defiantly at the wall.
“You’d better apologize,” Rory chuckled heartily, snagging Snart’s food. “It’s pissed at you.”
Snart made a face, massaging his temples. He wasn’t about to argue that the toaster couldn’t be mad at him because it was a damn toaster, deciding to take the path of least resistance as he hissed, “I’m sorry... there! Now, can we please go?”
Barry suddenly grinned, jumping up to Snart’s side and leaning his head on his shoulder. He looped his arm around Snart’s as he said happily, “Barry, Barry.”
“That your way of telling me I’m forgiven?” Snart scoffed, that eerily familiar warmth seeping back into his chest.
Barry beamed sweetly, giving him a thumb’s up.
Snart felt the corner of his mouth tugging upwards, trying to resist the urge to smile back.
There was something very special about Barry; the light in his smile, the vibrance in his eyes, the tenderness of his every touch. He made Snart feel things he didn’t think anyone could, much less a Companion.
Of all the cautions left behind on Barry’s pod, Snart suspected that the last one was the most vital for him to be wary of:
Warning: Dangerously Easily To Fall In Love With