Two Down, Three To Go
Warren pulled the opaque plastic tarp off his robot.
"Where's it's face man?"
Warren ignored him. He manipulated a remote activator and the 'bot came to life. The 'bot stepped forward and startled Andrew with an aggressive handshake, and it was a good thing he had set down the food and cola. The handshake was firm enough to hurt, but it was short. The skin on the 'bot's hand was soft and lifelike, and warm.
"Pleased to meet you, sir." It's voice was not quite human-too high in pitch, too precise.
"This won't fool anyone," Andrew observed ruefully.
Warren swung away, snorting impatiently, "Number of incredible innovations by me?" he began chopping his hand toward his various inventions stored around the room. "Number by Andrew? Bupkes!" He made a zero with his thumb and forefinger.
"All right, it is incredible. But we all expect greatness from you by now. Genius is a given. It's like you're so incredible, you're not really, y'know, surprising anymore."
"Really?" Warren's smile returned, then hardened again. "You're just kissing my butt."
"I'd never do that."
"Really?" he smiled again. "It's so lifelike. I kept the face neutral so I could put on what the occasion demanded. I can have it on in ten minutes."
"And the voice?"
Warren danced over to the stereo console he had modified, and gave it a pat. "I have over two thousand voice patterns stored in it, and personality profiles to match. All the great ones. Darth Vader's, Sean Connery's, Michael Buffer's-"
"The boxing announcer, you know." He cupped his hands and bellowed, "Let's get ready to ruuuumblllllle!"
A pounding sounded on the ceiling.
"Sorry Mom," Warren called. "Just tell me what face and voice you want, I'll give it to you, buddy. Where's my food?"
While Warren munched, Andrew thought about what face and voice would suit his purpose. He calculated that, with a curse in place, it didn't really matter, but his client might bridle at a poor choice. He couldn't exactly present that rape guy from Deliverence, or the Hey Vern! guy and say here, this is our Romeo.
"Whakinda lookchoo gwanfor?" Warren smoffed.
"Damn, close your mouth, dude. I think someone good looking, y'know, really really handsome, with a cool voice. Suave, but American."
Warren gritted the lump down through his esophagus and choked out, "Young James Garner."
Andrew pictured that. "Rockford?"
Warren drained the soda cup and wiped his mouth on his wrist. "No, Maverick. Great looking, debonair. Deep voice, but not like James Earl Jones, just convincing. He was a girl magnet in his time."
He moved to the console and flicked a few buttons, then hit play. James Garner's recorded voice played. "Aces up."
Another voice. "Your stage is waiting for you, Maver-ack."
Garner; "You selling tickets?"
"Is that other voice-"
"Clint Eastwood? You bet, this is from the Maverick with Clint as a gunslinger. Y'know, we can go with Clint."
Andrew shook his head. "No, Garner sounds good. His face with Clint's voice would be weird."
So they went with Garner, and in a quarter of an hour the image of Garner stood before them, reciting as he was ordered.
"This is Jim Rockford, at the tone leave your name and message, I'll get back to you."
"Yeah, Rockford," Andrew gruffed playfully, "I'm glad you're not home, I'll be right over to rip off your trailer!"
Warren tssked, "Mad Magazine."
"But it was funny. I dig this, it's just like having him here."
"Listen, boys," Garnerbot sighed, "I'd like to hear you two geeks spar over trivia, but I understand there's a beautiful lady to attend to?" he raised his dark eyebrows questioningly.
"Well, I don't know if she's beautiful," Andrew returned, "but she's … yeah, she's a lady …now," he finished under his breath."
Warren said, "Can I come watch?"
Andrew shrugged. "I have to see if I can get a love spell on a 'bot. Demon time."
"Well, leave me out then." Warren suppressed a shudder. He had yet to get comfortable dealing with even the concept of encountering the nether spirits. "You can tell me all about it."
"You've got it." Andrew put out his hand. "Come on, er, Jim."
Garnerbot disdained his hand, giving him a sarcastic look and rolling his eyes. Andrew grinned.
"He's sooo real."
Warren called after them, "Make sure you clean him up before you return him. Especially if he, uh, gets lucky."
Andrew looked back at him.
With no windows in the lower level under Spike's crypt, Buddy slept the sleep of the dead until just after noon. He opened one eye and saw dim surroundings. The other eye revealed a platinum blonde head lying on his shoulder.
He stared numbly for a minute, disoriented, and with a mammoth headache. He closed his eyes again and determined to sleep away the pain.
Then his eyes shot open and he bucked into a sitting position, knocking the head off his shoulder. Spike looked around at him.
"What're you about?" she demanded groggily.
"Spike, wake up."
"I'm here," she said. Then she looked around. The situation became clear, and she shuddered. "What did you do?"
She spun off her side of the bed, holding the sheet over her. As it slid off Buddy, he jerked it back and Spike fell on top of him.
"Let me go," Spike shrilled accusingly.
"Go," Buddy urged. He tried to get off on the other side of the bed with the sheet, but Spike clung to it. Buddy grabbed hold with a large fist and yanked , tearing the sheet away.
Spike covered her breasts with one arm, her lap with the other. She hopped up and padded to the closet, the flesh of her buttocks jiggling with each tiptoe.
"Spike, of all the disgusting, pukey things you've done, this is-this is-I'll kill ya dead for this one, you sonofabitch."
Spike hastily wrapped a black and white kimono around herself. "You're brassed off at me? Whatcha think, I raped you? Tell me how I accomplished that, you burk."
Buddy gasped. He bent down to grab his shirt, then craned wildly to find his pants. "I would never-"
"What? Never kiss me, think we're in love? As I recall, we were recently planning our nuptials."
"That was a spell." Buddy found his pants and plopped on the bed to pull them on.
Spike stepped into some too-big slippers. "The gin and vodka put the whammy on you. I was probably passed out, and you helped yourself, you rapacious pervert." She pulled a hairbrush off a shelf and started brushing out her hair, glaring balefully at Buddy.
Buddy donned his shirt and shoes, blustering under his breath.
Spike threw the brush down. "You sicken me."
"I hate you."
Tears came unexpectedly to Spike's eyes, and she jerked away and covered her face, muffling a pitiful sob.
Buddy grimaced. "What's your boggle?"
"You don't have to act so sick about it."
"You did it to me, now you're all 'yuck,' and I'm just like … I don't know what's up."
Buddy took a long, deep breath. "Spike, I just don't know what happened."
She swung back to him. "We drank 'til we blanked out, obviously."
Buddy stepped toward her. "But I wouldn't do that with you, no matter how drunk I was."
Spike threw her arms up with a flourish, cackling like a mad scientist. "I'll come clean. I control you, I'm Svengali. Jump up and down, Buffy. Bark like a dog."
Buddy stood silent for a moment, then he jumped up and down and yapped like a Schnauzer. He glared furiously and barked, "Dammit Spike, I thought you were kidding."
Spike's mouth went slack. "But I was."
A laugh erupted from Buddy, bending him nearly double.
Spike rolled her eyes, an involuntary smile quivering at the corners of her lips. Mirth overcame her and she held her fingers over her mouth, chortling. That tickled Buddy even more, and he dropped onto the bed, kicking his legs and laughing so it hurt. Spittle flecked onto his beard-shadowed chin.
Spike shook her head, holding out a hand to him.
"Off my bed," she said breathlessly.
Buddy grabbed her hand and let her haul him up, but her weight pulled them both back. Spike landed on top of him. The thin material of the kimono allowed the curves of Spike's body to press firm but yielding against Buddy's muscular physique. Their laughter trailed off and left Buddy flushed. Spike sighed volubly and shut her mouth. Buddy looked her face over; the full lips, the cutely bobbed nose, the unlined, delicately sloped forehead framed by a halo of glowing hair.
"How do we even know we did anything?" Buddy reasoned.
Spike hesitated, eyes turning upward. "Well … we did."
They regarded one another silently, then Buddy said, "I'd better get going."
Spike said hopefully, "Call me later?"