Chapter 38: Friends are Good
Lenora greeted David and his sister at the door with a big smile. David returned it with all due enthusiasm, pleased as punch to be there. And not only that, but he and Renee had brought gifts! David had a bag of bagels and Renee had two two-liters of Cola. Lenora ushered them inside, and closed the door.
“Wow, what happened to the poor guy?” Renee grimaced as the CAT sidles out from behind one of the stools and sat with his slinged leg out at an uncomfortable angle.
“I don’t know, I just found him like that.” Lenora took the Cola from Renee and made room in the fridge for it while her friend knelt on her kitchen floor and looked over the CAT with a tinkerer’s eye.
David put the bagels on her little island and took a stool. “Maybe it was hit by a car.”
“It’s a He David, and I named him Trap.” Lenoa said, with no feigned indignation.
“Can I take this sling off?” Renee asked, reaching for the creature’s rear leg.
The CAT ‘mrowed’ deeply at the action and Renee scowled at him.
“What, you don’t want it fixed?”
The CAT, surprisingly enough, stopped mrowing and scooted closer, dropping its tiny metal head onto Renee’s knee.
“Animals love my sister.” David mock-whispered to Lenora, who giggled.
“Only fake ones.” Renee muttered with a smirk.
Renee’s hand unwrapped the sling and began to inspect the broken pieces therein.
David turned his attention to Lenora as his sister worked, and grinned at her. Lenora returned it, but quickly cast her eyes away.
Instead of initiating small talk right away, Lenora dispensed with the pleasantries; fetching drinks, giving out bagels, making sure they were comfortable.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better at least.” Renee said coolly, pulling a few small tools out of her purse. (They were common issue for anyone with enhancements or cybernetic parts.)
Lenora picked her next words carefully. “There must have been something going around the office. I think Mr. Sandal was sick first.”
David glanced from her to his sister. Renee was playing at something, he knew that tone. She used it all the time with him when he got home late from his dates or hadn’t taken a SuperSoda. For a second he looked at Lenora with all due concern before looking down at his bagel.
Did she know about the guy? Maybe Renee HAD known who he was… but why hadn’t she said anything earlier?
“Right. Not like you were… going out or anything.”
Lenora stopped what she was doing and turned to look down at Renee. David could feel the tension in the room like a cloud hanging over them.
Renee looked up at Lenora for the first time since she started poking at the CAT and laughed out loud. “It’s ok. Who is he?”
David began to pick at the edges of his bagel uncomfortably and arrange them into little faces on his plate.
“The guy I saw here the other day. Maybe a week ago? I was driving by, I was going to stop in and say hi because I saw your light on, and I saw – well, I saw a guy.”
David felt his eye focus close into the bagel pieces and his picking became more furious. Last week? David cast Lenora a quick biting glance before he started to gnaw on the bagel.
Lenora caught the glance and she blanched. “You… saw him?”
Renee shrugged. “I know, I know, overprotective jerk creeping around your place, hate me later.” Renee sighed. “You know, we won’t hate you if you started dating someone. I was actually hoping to meet him. He not around?”
David noticed Lenora’s face change to a relieved smile. Renee had no idea who the guy was. But just based on the reaction, David was perfectly aware. That guy had come back, and Lenora hadn’t called the police. Or him.
“Oh, he’s…. He’s gone. Right now. He’s just a friend.” Lenora fumbled for words then scowled at Renee in a playful manner – eyes still guarded and unsure. “Stop snooping around my house, creeper.”
Renee laughed good naturedly and returned her attention to the CAT.
The silence only seemed like a good silence. David couldn’t look at Lenora, and Lenora kept looking at him. He could feel the big doe-eyes just peering at him, and he wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of acknowledgment.
“I think I got part of it…” Renee finally broke out. “The joint had come undone. Luckily they were magnetic connectors, otherwise we’d have to go out and get tiny-ass screws. I mean it’s still banged up and it won’t be able to bend ALL the way…”
“Mrow!” The CAT made a slow lap around Renee and then climbed into her lap. Lenora and Renee laughed together in David’s angry silence.
“Oh, what’s this?” Renee prodded the CAT in the neck and the CAT turned over onto its belly so she could get a better look at whatever it was. David zoomed in, grateful for the pitiful distraction that it was.
Part of the fur had been cut to a slit, easily overlooked. Renee poked around inside of it and came out with a piece of paper.
“Huh. Some joker shoved a business card in there.”
David sighed. He shoved the rest of the bagel into his mouth and gave Lenora a rather specific glare – but she wasn’t looking at him.
“Can I… can I see that?” Lenora extended her hand, and Renee reached up to hand over the card.
Lenora stared at it for a long minute.
“…Hey, you alright?” Renee asked, getting to her feet after the CAT scampered off towards the window.
“Uh…” Lenora shoved the card into her pocket. “I’m fine. Yeah. More Cola?”
Renee nodded. Then in a fit of unusual good humor, Renee laughed. “We should call the number and tell them their CAT is missing. ‘Hello, Dr. Ahren? We have your CAT. Oh there’s a reward? Excellent!’”