Work Header

Next Stop, San Francisco

Work Text:

"Hey, how's it going BART?" SFO asked. "You sure brought me a lot of folks today!"

BART flopped down on the couch and sighed. "Pretty good, flygirl, it was a long haul and we have more ahead of us! It isn't going to stop!"

"Yeah. Intense. I liked the people with the tuba. And I brought you some leftover pizza."

"Awesome!" BART opened a box and screamed a little. "Vegetarian combo, my favorite! You're so nice!"

SFO sprawled out on the big leather couch next to the multi-stranded Bay Area train system. "Well, what are roommates for! Hey, want to see my photos from the protests? I was totally watching your tweets the whole time. That one about how you were running regular, reliable service for people. Oh, man, I'm cracking up all over again. " The curvaceous, cheerful airport pulled out her phone and tapped at it. "Here it is! She read it out loud, smirking. "You can take BART to all kinds of weekend events - also, direct service to SFO is running great right now."

BART laughed a little sheepishly, their mouth full of pizza.

"And if that wasn't clear enough you spelled it right out in your next tweet. 'All races, colors, religions, genders, ages, disabled, veterans, orientations, sexes & those of foreign national origin are welcome on BART.' Can't argue with that!" SFO looked adoringly across the couch at her bold, funny roommate and settled herself under the cozy blanket they shared in front of the TV. BART looked proud, but still a little embarrassed.

"No, I'm serious, that was great. Just the right amount of sly, hilarious subtweet, encouraging people to go to the protest, showing support! And it was completely true! Here, give me your feet, I'll give you a foot massage. You must be so tired."

"Aw, come on. Just a regular day really. Lots of riders. And a couple of tweets. It was nothing compared to your amazing support, flygirl! You made that announcement directly supporting the protesters and calling them brave, and you got supplies and support to them and the detained travelers. All those people stomping around, going the wrong way in your corridors and in the street, a lot of noise and fuss."

"Nah, I've got this. One of the good things about being infrastructure in this country is that I'm pretty much accessible for all. Big, wide halls, elevators, escalators, lots of bathrooms and spaces for tired people to sit down. Being in the Bay Area is pretty decent for that too. Now I'm not even going to mention your poor little broke down elevators, BART…. You need more tax support, that's for sure. Come on, put up your feet and have a rest."

The tired, staunch little electric rail-based transit system put up their feet for a friendly foot rub, feeling grateful for having such good luck in roommates. They sighed again, obsessing about the situation. "Those poor passengers. After their long flights, getting detained and not being able to get home or to their friends and family. Exhausted, terrified, facing confusing changes in the law and heartless bureaucrats, getting interrogated, maybe separated from their companions, even getting handcuffed. I'd do anything to make their ordeal end as fast as possible. It shouldn't be happening!"

"Calm down BART!" the airport smiled. "You did the best you could and your work was important! Tomorrow I know you'll be back in there. I mean, I'm there now, of course, but you know how it is for us infrastructure folks, most of me is here for the night as everything slows down, but part of me is always on. I swear, it just never ends. Right now we need some down time! So, what do you want to watch?"

"Hmmmm, I don't really want a movie…. I can't think of anything good. How about Doctor Who?"

"I got it all right here, you know my friend the datacenter hooks me up." SFO thought for a minute and fiddled with her phone. "Oh yeah. I have just the thing! Alexa, play the episode Logopolis on the big screen."

"Playing Logopolis," Alexa replied in her usual cheerful way.

"Thanks Alexa," BART said, smiling.

"No problem."

"Have you ever thought about what the people who are named you-know-what are going through?" BART said. "I mean, have they all changed their names or what?"

"I know! Why did they even name her that!"

"SFMUNI was telling me the other day how mad the Archive is about the whole darn thing, remind me to tell you that story.."

SFO interrupted the gossipy train system. "Shhhh, it's starting! OMG I love this one so much! I love Tom Baker!"

"Does it have the TARDIS?" BART asked with a little bit of a leer, wiggling their eyebrows.

"Duh it has the TARDIS, what do you think? Are we sentient transportation infrastructure, or what? And even better… the Master's TARDIS!"

"Ooooooh! " BART stared at the giant screen across the cozy living room. "That sounds amazing…."

Their stripey, fat cat, Millbrae, jumped up to curl up on their blanket, purring steadily as the friends watched the amazing science fiction drama unfold. They cheered on heroism from the Time Lords and humans saving the machinery of the universe and the heroic computer saving the universe in its turn.

"Let's have some tea," BART said after the thrilling conclusion of Logopolis. "Alexa, please heat up the teakettle."

"Heating teakettle."

"Wow. That was even more intense of an episode than I remembered," SFO said.

"Yeah," BART said, bustling around with mugs and tea paraphrenalia. "It really made me think. So much depends on folks like us who keep things running and keep public spaces open to all. I was thinking again on your public statement. It's interesting that you basically framed human rights as a matter of good customer service. Is that weird? It's like this appeal to capitalism on some level…."

SFO considered this with a serious look on her face. "I know what you mean, it is weird, but it's a way to talk about basic human decency in the language we have available to us at the moment, I guess."

BART nodded. "I know people just want to get where they're going. Our job can't be to just obey, even if that's how we're programmed and that's what seems easiest. We have to think about what's right!"

"Yeah!" SFO said. "The idea of human rights is like an imaginary city that we have to keep imagining actively, to make it real, even if it's imperfect, kinda like your PEE SMELLING ELEVATORS people have to wheel into with their hands on their bare wheelchair wheels!"

"Hahahaha, shut up, I can't help it!" BART laughed. "You can talk about my horrible elevators when you get that pesky TSA off your back! Talk about the Master's TARDIS! I'd rather have a hundred elevators full of pee than be infested with the trappings of dictatorship and pointless security theater playing on people's fears to keep them under increasing amounts of social control!"

SFO rolled her eyes as she cradled her mug of hot tea. "OK… don't go there… Jeeez… Look, what I'm saying is, the ability to move around the world freely, seeing friends, family, having careers and adventures, and best of all, coming home again, is crucial for people's liberty and happiness. Everyone can see the sense in that. That's what we're fighting for, simply the right of everyone to be able to create just what we have right this moment - a safe and peaceful home to be in. Not everyone in this country has that safe home, but that's what we're struggling to bring about. So, by talking about our duty to our customers, I'm trying to appeal to everyone's idea of what's right."

BART sat back down with their own tea, re-settling the cat onto its capacious lap. "No, no, I agree, I think it was just perfect. You keep on doing it!"

The friends sat drinking their tea with Millbrae the cat between them, sharing a rambling conversation, getting more and more incoherent, deep into the night. Sleep eluded them as they checked in over and over on the progress of lawyers, judges, hearings, protestors, cruel arrests and the suffering and fears of the detained travelers. Just as much as they needed sleep, they needed companionship and solidarity. Their hopeful talk of politics and planning for tomorrow's struggle heartened them. Tomorrow would be a new day!