Early in the morning in Neo-San Francisco, a package had been dropped off on the doorstep of one journalist and one ROM. The latter of the two was the one to receive the shipment and promptly brought it in. In their enthusiasm, they tore into the package and took it out, going over the manual and assembling it right away. But it wasn't until they started to get on the mechanism that the journalist stirred and then opened their eyes.
Alys awoke with a yawn. "Huh? Turing...? What's going on?" Rising out of bed, they wiped their eyes before catching the sight of Turing, standing on metallic stilts and holding onto the handles.
One awkward smile later, Turing started to speak. "G-Good morning, Alys! I see you've noticed what was delivered just now... I ordered some stilts, for myself." They waited for a response from Alys, who was frankly amazed.
"I didn't even know they still made these!" Alys remarked. They could have sworn that everyone had moved on to cybernetic augments, given how advanced everything was. It seemed so much easier than to try to control your legs with... your arms. Yeah. That sounded way too complicated.
"Yes, well... I did some searching on the mesh, and these were within our budget." Turing admitted, seeming somewhat ashamed of the fact. Alys knew they liked to spend a little more, whether it was on little ideas they had, or just the both of them getting around town. They would complain to Turing about this, but to be honest, they did a lot of good, and the money was starting to pick up from Alys's writings anyway. "I thought they could help me in... appearing taller." Their pixellated face conveyed shyness.
Sighing, Alys rolled their eyes in mild amusement. "Do you think you can even move in that? You've never operated something like this." They hadn't ever used stilts either, but given Turing's proportions, this could go very sour very quickly. Almost as sour as the spoiled milk they kept at all times. Almost. Either way, they were extremely wary of the idea.
Turing, however, seemed to be more sure of their competence in stilts-walking. The face display changed to their ever-famous lecture expression. "Of course! By going over and memorizing the instructions that came with these stilts, and practicing as I will now, I'll be sure to gain the skill before you know it! Metaphorically speaking, that is."
"Right... Just be careful. Go slow if you need to." Watching them in apprehension, Alys nodded cautiously. They were their own being, after all.
Turing replied with acknowledgement, and their expression became neutral. "Will do. The first step is the hardest, isn't it?" They began moving the right stilt ahead of them, up off the ground and back down, slightly farther than their left stilt. Now their positioning became even more awkward, legs stretching apart in an angle that would be definitely be uncomfortable for humans. "Ugh. That was... rough. But it can only get better from here," they said, hopeful of the endeavor.
Of course, that was right when they hit a bump in the floor. "A-ah!" Turing lost their balance, and proceeded to fall--right into Alys's arms, who had stepped in once they noticed them toppling over. They looked up in equal parts shock and awe to Alys, before finally settling on embarrassed and averting their gaze.
Alys offered a smile, holding them close in a comforting matter. "I've got you, don't worry..." they assured in a soft tone, lifting them back upright. "I think you are going to need some help. I'll hold your hand, and you lean onto me if you think you're going to trip." As they said, they took one hand and held onto Turing's, both of their fingers interlacing.
"I... okay," Turing answered, a tiny bit flustered that Alys had suddenly grabbed their hand. They took a moment to look over where their hands met, then at their face, before taking a simulated breath and moving once again. Alys walked with them, taking extra care to keep Turing balanced and being their support whenever they became a little too wobbly.
Once they had reached the other side of the room, Alys flashed them a grin. "Look at that, you made it!" They pulled them into a hug, until they noticed that Turing gripped on a little too tightly, and Alys realized that they had, quite literally, lifted them off of their feet. "Oops, sorry," they apologized and put Turing down.
Despite that, Turing felt ecstatic that they were closer to mastering the art of moving with stilts. They looked back at them with a genuine smile, and their fingers nervously tapped together as their face shifted from overjoyed to humbled. "Um, thank you for the help," Turing said in a meek and quiet tone. "It... really means a lot to me, you know. I know this seems ridiculous, and it probably is."
With a chuckle, Alys shook their head. "It's no problem, honestly. I get why you want to." Being more than a couple feet shorter than the people you want to be equal with would have that effect, they thought.
Turing, however, insisted. "No, really! Even for ROM standards, I'm pretty tall, yet I still feel insecure about it! And I used your bank account to pay for them as well, which I've done way too often, and yet you're always so understanding! I just--"
At that moment, Alys leaned their head down and pressed their lips to Turing's screen. Instantly, they stopped speaking and showed an exclamation mark for a couple seconds. Given that they didn't actually have a mouth, it should have no practical effect on their ability to speak. The motion itself, though, sent them into a shock that silenced them entirely. All they could do as Alys pulled away was gawk, and their display expressed astonishment, with a thin horizontal line as their mouth and many worry lines surrounding their wide eyes.
"Listen to me, Turing. There is nothing wrong with this. You may think it's ridiculous, but it's something that would make you happy. And I really owe that to you, for everything. All the new allies and friends I met, getting my work out there, everything about that investigation... it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for you. I think meeting you was the best thing that happened to me. So... I should thank you," Alys confessed, reaching to hold both of their hands this time and looking into their optics.
There wasn't much Turing could do besides stare for a few seconds, taking time to regain their composure slightly. "I-I don't know what to say, except... I feel the same." They glanced away for a second before continuing. "I'm still not sure if I'm doing everything right, but... it's comforting to be reminded that there's something good I've done." They smiled sincerely, soothed by Alys's words and touch.
Alys returned the emotion, and they rubbed their thumbs against Turing's. They took a bit before responding. "You know, we could always see if we can get some sort of leg extensions for you." Alys glanced at Turing's legs. "Maybe Tomcat would know something about that." Tomcat definitely had more knowledge about ROMs and technology than they did, that was for sure.
"Y-You really mean that?" they asked, looking up with hope. Alys nodded, and Turing grinned wide with gratitude. "I'd like nothing more!" they excitedly replied.
Giggling in return, Alys let go of one of their hands, taking place by their side again. "Come on, let's get some more practicing in. They'll probably feel different than these, but it's a good start." Turing agreed, and they both began their small circuit around the apartment. Afterwards, Alys would make sure to call the landlord again about that floor. But, all in all, it wasn't that bad this time.