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Shut In (IC)

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Gabriel Quinn's cell phone rang and rang. When he finally picked it up, the voice on the other end of the line began speaking immediately, "Hi, Mr. Quinn? You're familiar with Miss Rachel Geist, correct? I'm her therapist Dr. Wintersgill. Sorry to bother you, but you're the first name on her emergency contacts list. I'm wondering if you've seen her recently?" The therapist asked, sounding worried, "She's missed two appointments with me this week, and my receptionist says she hasn't called to reschedule yet, and I can't reach her on her cell phone. Do you know anything about this?"

Gabe hadn't seen Rachel in about a week.


*Fzzzt* *FZZZT* Sparks flew from the welding torch in Rachel's hands as she bent close over her closet work table. A few of the sparks now and then came dangerously close to the carpeting on the floor, and the greasy work apron hanging from the wall to her left. She never noticed it, though. But even if she had, it was unlikely that she would have stopped working. The carpeting beneath her feet already had large patches missing from where she'd cut away charred pieces of carpet in the past, and she had a miniature chemical extinguisher strapped to her left forearm in case the apron caught fire. Again.

"Ooof!" Rachel leaned back and switched of the welding torch and leaned back placing a hand against her back. The stool she sat on wobbled a little as she readjusted her weight. She pushed the welding goggles of her eyes and rested them on her head. Here eyes had heavy bags beneath them from going days without sleeping. Her hair was tangled in the straps from the goggles, and her face was smeared with grease. In short, she was a wreck. A low rumble came from her stomach, reminding her she hadn't eaten in a while. Reaching over the table, she started scattering spent wrappers from Nutrigrain and Power Bars. She reached the bottom of the trash pile without discovering an unopened one, but she did discover her cell phone... which was in pieces. "Huh, forgot I cannibalized that thing for parts." She shrugged, reached to still the other side of the bench, grabbed a pair of tweezers, and a microchip that had been sitting loose on the table, and inserted it into the insides of the phone. Pressure sealing the front of the Droid X back on, she booted up the phone, then tossed it back into the pile of wrappers. Already forgetting she'd been hungry, she lifted the welding torch once more, dropped the goggles over her face, and went back to work.

By the time her cell phone started buzzing with it's 23 missed calls, the sparks were already flying and she couldn't hear it...

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"No, but I know her address; I'll go check on her and call you back."

Later...

The aforementioned Quinn roared up to the building he knew Rachel lived at, taking his hand off the throttle as the engine dulled to a purr. Turning the keys, he kicked down the kickstand and flipped the chain into his pocket, cupping his hand over his eyes as he looked up at the tall building.

Why do I get the feeling if I go up there, I'll find half the floors have been repurposed into a giant robot? Or maybe the whole building's been turned into a giant robot. Or maybe a bunch of buildings have been repurposed into one giant robot.

He sighed, massaging the point between his nose, and chided himself. Entering into the front hall, he walked up and hit the buzzer for Rachel's apartment, leaning on the wall beside the speaker while waiting.

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Fortunately, the buzzer for her apartment was loud enough for her to hear over the sound of her welding. Though she reflected that may have been because of the 100dB loudspeaker she'd hooked up to it. Who the heck could that be? Don't they know what time it is? Rachel thought as she pushed the goggles back on top of her head. Might as well get it. This weld is good enough anyway. She placed the welding torch on the table, and shut it off.

Rachel walked around the corner in her tiny apartment, rubbing her tired eyes with one dingy hand and pressing the intercom button with the other, "Hello?" She croaked. Her voice was a little scratchy, "Who is it? Do you have any idea what time it is?"

Gabe did, in fact know what time it was: Noon.

Rachel looked over he shoulder to see a lone beam of sun shining through a gap in the curtains drawn over the window, "Wait... When did it get light out?" She asked without letting go of the intercom button, "Anyway, who is it? What do you want?"

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An unexpected sigh of relief escaped from Push, and his shoulders lifted somewhat; he'd been a bit worried that she wouldn't have been there period.

"Got light out about four hours ago, it's noon. Heh. It's Tom, Tom Walker? From Lazarus Auto Repair? I've got those...uh...parts you wanted?"

As soon as he finished speaking, he facepalmed. Now was definitley not the time for keeping secret identities...

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"Tom... I don't..." Something in the back of her brain tugged at her memory. She suddenly realized who she was talking to. She jammed the intercom button again, "Oh the parts! Yea! Come on up, ...uh... Tom." Even as she buzzed him in, she couldn't think why he would be using one of his Aliases. Especially when she clearly knew who it was anyway.

While she waited for Gabe to climb the stairs, she retreated to the other room, and lifted Mac off the worktable where she'd spent the last few days working on him. She lifted an oiled rag from a nearby shelf and began polishing his chassis. "Oh, I love new toys. Can't wait to turn you on!"

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Push took the stairs several at a time, fairly flying up them (he could've done that literally, but trying to be incognito...). As he hit her floor and walked down the hallway to her apartment, he caught a whiff of a very familiar scent that was both a balm and a distinct worry to him.

Oil. Engine grease. Electric burns, ozone? Rachel, Rachel, Rachel, what have you been working on?

Still, the scent and hearing her voice earlier cheered him up immensely, and he rapped at her door. For a few seconds, he wondered if some flowers would have been a good idea; then he heard the rustling and clanking from inside and scratched the thought off.

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"Just a sec!" Came the muffled reply through the door. Quickly, Rachel tucked Mac's chassis under one arm and made her way to the door of her apartment. She gingerly stepped over much of the accumulated clutter. Luckily, there was the odd spot here and there where she could still actually see the floor.

Gabe heard a small crash, followed by a "Whoops! I'm okay!" then the door opened. It only opened an inch or two at first before stopping, "Uhh, hold on." There were some sounds of various bits of debris being scattered and pushed away from the door. Then the door opened a little more to the halfway point. "Come on in, sorry about the mess. Haven't really had time to clean. Been working." She paused to blink a few times, "Man, never really realize how tired you are until you put the tools down. Oh well." She shook her head in an attempt to rouse herself, "Check it out!" She held Mac out in front of her for Gabe to see, "Massive modifications. He works much better now! I hope, that is. Haven't actually turned him on yet, so I guess violent explosions are still possible if his motherboard fails to post at the propper time, but hey, that's what experiments are for, right?" Despite her drained, exhausted features, she still managed to look intensely excited.

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Push blinked, looking at the small robot thrust into his face. Then he looked at the clutter. Then he looked at Rachel. Then he facepalmed. The kineticist could feel a headache begin to build behind his eyes, and, not for the last time today, wished he had a cup of cocoa in his hand.

"Uh...Rache...when did you start working on MAC?"

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Rachel shot him a sheepish smile, pulling the robot back. She knew that look well enough. She lifted a panel on Mac's chassis and typed in a code on a hidden pad, powering the robot up. "We-he-helllll! Mac 2.0! Mk II! The 2nd! And other such titles is online!" The robot lifted up into the air.

"Mac," She first addressed the robot, but supplied Gabe with an aside, "Personality chip's installed, can you tell?" She was beaming.

Mac ignored her, rolling right into further introductions, "Hey there, Rachie! Glad to be back online!" A miniature spindly arm extended from the robot's side, and gave her a brotherly slug in the shoulder.

"Mac!"

"Thanks for the upgrades. I feel great! And Gabe! Good to see ya again, 'ol buddy, 'ol pal!" The robot extended a hand like he was looking for a shake.

Rachel could see that wasn't likely to go over well, from the way he was massaging his head. "Mac!"

"What?!" the robot rounded on her in obvious mock anger, judging from it's tone of voice,

"Coffee. Cocoa. Now, please." She motioned with her hands like she was shooing him away.

"Sorry. Wait, why am I apolgizing! He's great, isn't he?" She gave Gabe a big hug, oblivious of the fact that she was filthy.

"Uh...Rache...when did you start working on MAC?"

"Um yesterday. Wait, sun's up again, so I guess it's the day before that. It is still Thursday, right?" It was Saturday.

"Rachel, do you want two sugars or one?" Mac called from the other room.

Now it was Rachel's turn to facepalm, "Stop interrupting, Mac! You know how I like my coffee. I programmed that into you!" She turned back to Gabe, "Yea, I'm going with day before yesterday." she nodded confidently.

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Push blinked as she hugged him, and he returned the gesture. He didn't really mind the sweat or grease, as a matter of fact, even after a week she was still a bit cleaner than he usually was after he finished working on a car...

He mulled over MAC's new, more effusive personality; for a sec he pondered giving it a good whack upside the capacitor, but that'd have probably made Rachel a bit Blue. He mentally kicked himself for that pun, and returned to the task at hand. Which, at this point, looked like it would consist of a) helping her clean up the joint, B) getting her into a shower or bath, as much as he didn't mind the smell, no doubt it'd start seeping into the other apartments soon, and c) making damn sure she got some sleep. Tact warred with bluntness as he pondered how to tell her. Bluntness won.

"...Ok, I'm not sure how to word this, so I'll tell you straight. It's Saturday, you look like nine shades of hell, your apartment looks like a tornado hit it...make that a hurricane, and..." He sighed and hugged tighter, resisting the urge to throttle his girlfriend for making him and her therapist panic like that. "Rachel, Rachel, Rachel....what am I going to do with you."

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"Saturday?!" She pulled away and scrutinized her boyfriend, holding him at arms length. "But it was just... You're kidding, right?" Her brain went to work at lightning speed, studying his face and expression. No small creases, no strange anomalies in muscle behavior, nope he was telling the truth.

"Oh god you're serious." She quickly dashed into her work room, and tore through the pile of wrappers, seizing her phone, "Twenty Three missed calls? Sixteen from my therapist? God." She poked her head around the door, "She called you, didn't she. Oh god. I'm sorry. I should have told you I put you down as an emergency contact, but I just figured... Oh man." Rachel suddenly looked very tired.

"It's easier when you're working, you know?" She held a hand against her head and moved to sit down on her bed, half squishing a spiral bound notebook, and not even noticing. "It's like a drug, you know? Amphetamines or something. Drives you to keep going because you know you're doing something."

Rachel, looked up at Gabe, her face showed that she wasn't just tired, she was upset. Truthfully, she felt sick, but she wasn't sure why. "Well?" she asked shakily, crossing her arms around herself and grabbing at the sides of her shirt, "What are you going to do with me?" She couldn't look at him any longer, turning her head away, she hung it slightly in shame.


Meanwhile in the Kitchenette...

Mac was happily going about his assigned business. He couldn't believe how good it felt to finally be awake. He could remember how just days ago he could barely tell the difference between one of the arms extending from his chassis and an external object. Hell, even the concept of 'arm' was new to him. Just days ago he'd known it only as a manipulator. He hummed softly as he fixed the two drinks for his guests. Helping Rachel made him the happiest little robot on the block. But this other joker she was with was a different story... Mac looked down at the perfectly made coffee, and the hot chocolate which hadn't even been fully mixed. If he had shoulders he would have shrugged. He lifted both of the cups and zoomed out into Rachel's bedroom.

"What are you going to do with me?"

Mac saw Rachel looking like a dog with it's tail between it's legs and gasped. He nearly dropped the two cups but managed to save them (the jostling also managed to mix the hot chocolate sufficiently he didn't fail to note with even more displeasure). Setting the cups on a nearby counter, he zoomed over beside her. Looking between Rachel and Gabe, he asked scathingly, "What did you say to her?"

"Maaaac." Rachel whined slightly, shaking her head and giving him a pleading look. "Please, not now."

"Fine." He huffed, "Your drinks are ready. I'll just be in the other room. Cleaning, I guess." He disappeared around the corner into the workroom. Neither of them noticed when he peeked out around the corner again with his shiny new cloaking device active.

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And the headache was steadily starting to get worse. The kineticist hissed between his teeth, rubbing his temples for a moment as he got his thoughts in order. So right now, he had a new floating robot with a wiseguy personality and jealousy issues, and a girlfriend whose expression and posture would have made anyone think he'd just kicked her puppy. With a steel-toed boot. Into a bottomless pit.

"Just...go have a shower, alright? You'll feel better once you're a bit cleaner; Mac and I'll handle the mess."

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Silently, Rachel nodded. She rose, and extracted a towel from a pile of other sundries near the bed. Dusting it off, she made her way toward the bathroom. Before she shut the door, she poked her head out, "Gabe? Thanks for coming." and added in a wan smile.

Mac heard the door shut, retreated to the work room uncloaked himself and shoveled the energy bar wrappers into a nearby trash can. It was a small trash can so it was already nearly full. He Went to lift it, and it didn't budge. Apparently, even a small trash can was beyond his ability to move. That was something he'd have to speak to Rachel about the next time she made some upgrades.

He flew around the corner, nearly bumping into Gabe, "Oh, hi!" Mac piped up, not bother to hide the snark entirely, "You're strong, right? Probably why she likes you. Anyway, come help me move this trash can. My hydraulics haven't been upgraded just yet, so it's a little outside my capabilities yet."

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A little bit of energy, and the little robot found itself being lifted up and over, but not by it's engines. With a mischevious grin, Push made a look of faux-embarassment before chucking and hefting the trash can, hauling it into the living room.

"Hehe, sorry dude; misheard you, thought you said tin can."

Push tugged his bandanna out of his pocket (a backup in case heroics were neccessary; he couldn't wear his scarf 24/7), and wrapped it around the top of his head before rolling up his sleeves. After taking stock of the room, he cracked his knuckles and started separating cans from wrappers, stacking old coffee cups on the nearest table.

"So, she was working on you all week, huh? What's it like, waking up and finding yourself, all...well..." He motioned to the now shinier MAC chassis, tilting his head. "Upgraded? Personality and everything?"

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"I beg your pardon? What do you mean tin can?" It mimicked a famous robot from film making. The little robot obviously shared Rachel's love for Science Fiction pop culture.

Mac begrudgingly thanked Gabe for moving the can, then replied to his question, "Picture yourself riding a moped over a one lane bridge through a fog. Then suddenly, the fog ends, the bridge expands to five lanes, and you're riding the newest Kawasaki." If a Robot could look wistful, Mac did a pretty good job of it. "It's like true freedom. Enlightenment. I... You probably wouldn't understand."

Mac turned to go back to work, but cast a sideways glance a Gabe. Gabe could have sworn he saw the visual receptors in Mac's chassis narrow slightly with suspicion, "You know, for a mechanic, you certainly seem to do a lot of thinking." He once again quoted C-3PO. "Come on, we're supposed to be working."

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"...Greeeat, now I don't just have a jealous robot, I have a jealous witty robot." Push murmured under his breath, finishing up with the paper plates and cups. The kineticist rubbed his forehead, shifting to clear off the coffee table of assorted detritus. He pondered for a brief period Rachel's week of work-work-work, wondering how to approach the subject when she got back. Verbally lambasting her for it would be a bit hypocritical, as he'd pulled similar stunts doing research on occult subjects or cases while chasing Scratch, or working on a single car three days in a row.

"So, she stick anything in you besides the personality? Tools, weaponry, new scanners, that kind of thing?"

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"Oh yea." Mac responded in the most suggestive tone of voice he could muster. "She was taking my paneling off all night, baby." Gabe could have sworn he even heard the robot giggling. Though it may have just been a whirring servo or something.

"But actually yes. I'm well on my way to becoming a fully functioning reconnaissance unit. Upgraded sensor suite, protective force field generators, stealth technology," Mac faded out of view and then back in, "Oh and check this out. I'm most proud of this one!" Mac zoomed over to the workbench, lifted Blue-shift's Visor, and offered it to Gabe...

If Gabe puts the visor on, copy this down:

Mac activated one of his new systems and a little vid screen popped up on the visor's display. Mac made his way around the room, and turned in a circle. Gabe could see everything through the robot's perspective. Though it only took up a small portion of the screens displayed in front of his face. The rest were still able to display other sensory input required to remain aware of one's surroundings.


Meanwhile in the shower...

Rachel laid her head against the tile wall of the shower briefly. She was tired. How many days had she worked. Three? Five? Does it matter? Of course it does, She groaned slightly, and pushed her wet, tangled hair out of her eyes and back over her shoulders, What are you doing? Blue? Gabe probably hates you for being such a shut in. I mean, sure he's a gear head, but he's constantly having to worry about you. That's not healthy. You've got to stop putting him through this, Blue. Why am I doing that? I keep thinking of myself as Blueshift. She realized. She paused in the middle of lathering her hair with shampoo for the third time in her vain attempts to get the grease out. do I really think Rachel's not capable of doing this stuff? I have to rely on my 'other personality' for it? She scrubbed even more furiously.

She sputtered a little as she rinsed her hair. A few salty tears ran down her face amidst the suds from her hair. She was thankful that the noise of the shower obscured any sounds or sobs she might have been making. Why? Why am I such a problem? I'm supposed to help people. Why is it that I'm always the one that needs the help?

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Push rolled his eyes, then looked askance at the visor. Taking a moment to consider it, he got up with a groan and walked over, taking it and sliding it over the top of his head.

Mac activated one of his new systems and a little vid screen popped up on the visor's display. Mac made his way around the room, and turned in a circle. Gabe could see everything through the robot's perspective. Though it only took up a small portion of the screens displayed in front of his face. The rest were still able to display other sensory input required to remain aware of one's surroundings.

The kineticist tilted his head as he watched MAC's progress, and he lifted up the visor with an approving whistle, leaving it on his head somewhat absently and returning to cleaning.

"Damn, she really broke the mold when she made you, shorty."

He hefted a newly-filled bag of garbage and hucked it into the corner, opening another one and beginning to toss more paper plates, wrappers, and plastic cups into it. He stayed awfully quiet while he and the little UAV worked, but eventually Gabe spoke up again, this time more thoughtfully.

"...Mac, do you think Rache's been overworking herself lately?"

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"Hey, I may be a shorty..." Mac responded to the comment, as he folded his spindly little arms in front of him, and rose nearly to the ceiling and looked down at Gabe, "But at least I'm taller than you are." Satisfied that he'd won that exchange, even if he did get a dismissive head-shake from Gabe, he returned to his normal elevation. "But... I think that was a compliment, as far as you're able to articulate one, so thanks."

Mac gently lifted the headgear from Gabe's head. "Have to be careful with this. It's kind of delicate, and it's not yours. So we'll just put it over here for now." Mac returned it to the workbench from whence it came. He set it down, floated back, and seemed to be considering it, even propping one of his arms against the front of his chassis like he'd be rubbing his chin. He turned it slightly, and shifted back about an inch or so. "There, I think that's where it was."

He hefted a newly-filled bag of garbage and hucked it into the corner, opening another one and beginning to toss more paper plates, wrappers, and plastic cups into it. He stayed awfully quiet while he and the little UAV worked, but eventually Gabe spoke up again, this time more thoughtfully.

"...Mac, do you think Rache's been overworking herself lately?"

Mac turned toward Gabe, and remarkably said nothing. The little robot seemed to be considering exactly what he was seeing. Perhaps he was trying to judge why Gabe had asked the question. When he finally did speak, his voice had more of a tone of respect in it than usual. "I can't say. She's been like this as long as I've known her. I'm her exciting new project. Of course she's going to obsess over me." There seemed to be a pang of regret or disappointment in those words, as if Mac suspected that once he was no longer the invention of the week, he'd suddenly be left to rust due to lack of attention.

Mac seemed upset, the lights that pulsed when he spoke dimmed to a more dull shade of blue, but he continued speaking regardless. "That said, yes. I honestly think she is. But what do I know? I'm just a little robot with a direct link to her brain. That's the way she is, Gabe. She works this hard because she doesn't know how not to. The medications she takes sure doesn't help that, but in a way, it's the lesser of two evils. A few seconds of downtime, and well, you know how she gets. More importantly," Mac zipped toward Gabe, and hovered directly in front of him, Gabe received a stern poke with a spindly arm in the chest, "What do you think?"

"Hoo. You were right, Gabe. That does feel better." Rachel stood in the doorway to the bathroom tousling her hair with a towel. She had another towel wrapped around her body. Walking toward the dresser next to her bed, she pulled out a pair of underwear and slipped it up underneath the towel. Facing the wall, and discarding the towel, she retrieved a bra and slipped into it, and clasped it with practiced ease.

Beside Gabe, a small hatch on the back of Mac's chassis opened, and a small burst of steam was let off, the lights on his front pulsed a vibrant orange for a second before turning to it's normal bright baby blue.

"Wow, you guys did a good job," She complimented after drawing a pair of black mesh shorts out of a drawer. She turned to face them as she stepped into it. She threw a thin tank top over herself and approached the two of them, "Thanks, honey," She kissed Gabe on the cheek, and he got a better look at her. She looked refreshed, but still as worn out as a three toed sloth that had missed a day or two of consecutive naps. "What are you guys talking about?"

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While Rachel's back was turned, Push reached out almost absently and whacked MAC, closing the panel and sending him looping in midair for a bit. Of course, he didn't take his eyes off her for a second himself, but that finer detail somewhat escaped his rather short-circuited head. When she kissed him on the cheek, it functioned as an abrupt reboot, and he flushed a bit, rubbing the back of his head.

"Oh, nothing in particular. Small argument over Asimov's laws, and I know I gotta introduce him to H. Beam Piper sometime, but other than that...well, you've done a heck of a job on him."

He gave her a hug, resting his chin on her shoulder, and took in the scent of the soap for a sec. After a moment, he pulled his head back and tilted it to the side, taking in her disheveled appearance and the distinct look of a sleep-deprived gearhead; a look he knew all too well indeed.

"Guessing this isn't the first time this's happened?"

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Rachel gave a morose shake of her head. She almost looked ashamed. She felt ashamed that she felt ashamed, "No. Happens all the time. Well, not all the time. Enough that it's not healthy though."

Rachel rested her head on Gabe's shoulder. "You know how devoted I am to my projects. Some of the medications I take... They get my mind off the bad things. But they act like they're diverting a river. Not damming it."

She lifted her head again. She tugged at the knot in his bandanna, loosening it, and letting it fall from his face. She wanted to look at him, not his mask. "Don't take this the wrong way or anything. But when you're not around, my brain automatically channels all that focus elsewhere. I'm not good at picking where though. You've been a great help. You've taught me that all the ... um ... stalking (I guess?) that I do isn't healthy. So I've cut that out. But sometimes I just can't help where I direct myself. That's why I need you around, Gabe, you-"

"Rache? Gabe?" Mac interrupted, flying out from the work room, "Hate to interrupt, but your lab apron's on fire again, and I'm not strong enough to lift the-"

"@#$%!!!" Rachel quickly disengaged Gabe, and disappeared into the glorified closet-workroom.

"Fire extinguisher. Anywho!" Mac turned to Gabe, "Where were we? Oh yea!" Mac zipped closer to Gabe, and muttered just under the roar of the fire extinguisher from the other room, so only Gabe could hear him, "She likes you. She needs you. Whether or not either of you know it. So don't you hurt her." The LED's on the little robot's chassis suddenly glowed a deep red, "Because if you do, I swear on Asimov's grave, three laws or no, that I will find some way of making you regret it." Mac didn't wait for an answer. He quickly zipped to another part of the room.

Before Gabe could even react to what had just happened, Rachel poked her head around the door of the workroom. "It's out! Nothing to worry about! Got it before it got to the alarms too." Mac cheered her, all blue and glowy. "Just gonna clean up..." She disappeared behind the door frame again.

The little robot raised one of it's arms, pointed to it's visual receptors with two of the fingers, turned the hand pointed at Gabe with one finger, then pointed back at it's visual receptors with two again. It was unmistakably a stern, "I'm watching you," gesture.

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Push sat down in the nearest chair, massaging his temples. A slightly manic female inventor with just a tiny bit of co-dependency issues, a jealous tin can UAV who looked like a Roomba with arms, and more than likely had hidden weapons somewhere in there, and the onset of what could only be a mammoth migraine. Letting his hands drop, he flopped back on the seat, counting ceiling tiles for a few seconds.

"...I really could use a sandwich right about now."

Sighing, he pushed himself out of the chair and started cleaning again, working fast despite the mess (call it years as a dedicated bachelor). By the time he was finished, the bandanna on his head was a tad sweaty, and the kineticist was willing to bet it'd take several showers before he could get the lemony fresh scent of that carpet cleaner out of his clothes. Stretching to the point where his back cracked, he trundled into the kitchen and started ruffling through the pantry and fridge, assembling ingredients. Soup and sandwiches for lunch. She'd probably had her fill of takeout by now, so a home-cooked meal'd do wonders...although finding workable ingredients amidst the truly prodigious amount of insta-meals and ramen was a battle in and of itself.

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Push was finally able to assemble some moderately normal food. He came across the last few pieces of a loaf of bread frozen in the freezer. They'd have to thaw, but they'd do. Their sandwich spreads seemed limited to non-brand name, non-fat mayo, half a jar of Branston Pickle, and Nutella (of which there were significantly more jars). When he asked about ingredients for making a soup, he heard Rachel call back from the other room. "Probably won't find much. Why actually make soup when Ramen is so cheap. I have a bunch of flavors if you don't like plain chicken stock." She continued to clean, unaware that her answer would not likely satisfy him.

Push did eventually finds some celery sticks and miniature carrots in the refrigerator as well. Though he wasn't quite sure what he could make with the hodgepodge of ingredients he'd turned up. One last cabinet revealed about 8 boxes of crackers. There were many different types ranging from Wheat Thins to Ritz. In response to his somewhat stunned look, Mac supplied, "Well, Nutella and crackers is one of her favorite snacks." He tried to sound encouraging.

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