(This time I needed something to go with the picture. Nigel is poorly underestimated as a character and very much unliked.)
Tap. Tap. Tap. Clickclick. Tap.
His fingers were sluggish on the keyboard. It wasn’t even eleven pm. He usually worked well into the night.
Nigel Willoby leaned back in his faux leather chair. He rubbed his eyes and sighed. Resting his arms back on the chair’s rests he kept his eyes closed. The illuminance from the large triple screens of his power-PCs shone through his eyelids.
“I need some more Coke,” he said out loud, mostly to himself though a little head with pink hair turned to the voice. “Keep the search going.”
Nigel left the dim office, leaving the small robot girl by herself. Even he couldn’t stay awake 24/7, although it wasn’t because of trying. He had needed an assistand to help with the constant demands of the superiors and luckily the Knights had excellent engineering specialists to help him build himself one. The robot was state of art, nothing like it was available on the markets, commercial or black. It was built to have a human figure, human movements and yes, looked like little girl. Calculated better than any college student and better than most post-graduates and that was what Nigel really liked in robots.
He wandered into the dark kitchen, which was a simplistic room that only really served as a storage for coke and pizza boxes. The only appliance that he had really cared about was the fridge, it was jumbo sized, with a digital screen and brushed steel finish. The door opened with a pop ad he had to blink a few time to adapt to the bright light.
Coke in large bottles, coke in small bottles, coke in cans. Light coke for her. He reached for a can. The drink sizzled on his tongue.
He leaned against the fridge door and slid down to a crouch. How could he be this tired?
Well, there was the accident. She had been writing that someone might be after her and they had been. He had tried to warn the others, but they got there too late. If only he had been a bit quicker with the locating, maybe the Knight had been there in time. And he could have saved her from getting hit.
He had kept track of her recovering, or actually the lack of it. She had been in a coma for weeks. He hadn’t known what to do. He wasn’t used to not knowing what to do and he had felt hopeless. Flowers had been something that people used to give in all situations so he had bought those, delivered to the mansion. Sunflowers, as those were her favourites. And roses, because all females liked roses. And then gerberas. He hadn’t even known what those were, but the florist had said that they were very popular. With all that on the top of his usual workload he hadn’t really gotten much sleep. Or any, really. One thing Nuu couldn’t do for him was sleeping.
She had apparently woken up a few days ago. As good as new. He really should go to sleep.
He prised himself off the floor. He threw the empty can to the sink like the others and headed to the restroom. It took another few blinks to adjust to the bright fluorescent lights. He glimpsed at himself in the mirror. His eyebags were darker than usual and he looked like a dead man walking. Maybe he was. Bloody superiors worked him to death to pay his debt.
A toned-down tune played from another room. His cell? Who the bloody idiot would call him at this hour?
Walking towards the sound he went through the very short list of people who had his personal number. Maybe he should just assign different ringtones to each of them. Thenagain, he could wait a moment to see who was calling.
The phone was on the bed. The screenlight flashed against the linen which muffed the sound. He reached for the phone and turned it around. He blinked at the screen. This time it wasn’t because of the light. She was calling him. He glanced quickly at the digital clock of his bedside alarm clock. At this hour?
“Nikki!” cheered a bright, albeit a bit slurred female voice. A beautiful voice it was. Fit for a star, or a singer. She really shouldn’t have gotten involved with the Knights. Popstars rarely got hit by a car, at least compared to normal people. Very rarely compared to Knights.
“Nikki you.. you pig! You sent me flowers! You sent me flowers and didn’t say anything! What is that?! That’s just.. piglike! You’re a pig! All men are PIGS!” screamed the voice. She seemed a bit hysterical. Or very, very drunk. She didn’t have much a head for liqour and he had been there many times watching over her hangover-mornings. But drunk or not, he was pretty sure that sending flowers was not a thing that pigs did. He was again clueless. She really had that effect on him.
“What’re you saying? Where are you?” he dared to ask.
“At the Frost club. Quu took us here, we are all here. You’re not! Why aren’t you here?” She just blurred the words all together in one go.
“I dunno. I wasn’t invited?” he said snarkily. Why did he always have to be like this. Snarking at a drunken girl through a telephone line. But he could picture her. She’d wear a tight pink top, probably with frills that would look ridiculous on anyone else but not on her, since she was like a marshmellow to begin with. And that white mini skirt, with the slit, showing her pale legs. And heeled boots, which would make her aforementioned legs look like they went on forever. Her hair would be in two ponytails, the loose blond curls resting on her slender shoulders. He had no idea how she made it look so soft, but it was like shining golden cotton. And gloss on her lips, smelling like strawberries.
He had slumped on the bed. She was really screaming at him and he couldn’t make out half the words anymore. Apparently snarkiness hadn’t helped here. It never did. Still he couldn’t help himself.
“So sunflowers weren’t your thing then? I’ll remember that next time you go into a coma.”
“They are my favourites! How did you know that?! Why didn’t you tell me you knew that?!”
How did he know? Because her amber eyes had always wandered to look at the sunflowers before the window instead of listening to him while he was trying to tutor her so she’d graduate. And because when all the girls bought little flower pins for their hair when summer break approached, she always got a sunflower pin. And when she had brought him a flower to thank him for helping her graduate, she had brought him a sunflower, because she hadn’t known which flowers he preferred. That was right before she had left for London. Nothing in Swansea for a girl like that.
“I thought Tico had brought the flowers. How could you let me think that, you pig! You men! All just plain pigs!”
“What does it bloody matter? Flowers didn’t make you better. It’s just bloody flowers.” Despite her screaming at his ear he was feeling very drowsy. If she could scream like that she had to be ok.
“What does it matter? What does it matter?! You pig! It matters! I thought you didn’t care! I thought I was just a… for you! But you sent me flowers!”
She didn’t make any sense anymore. Of course he cared. He had always cared.
He hadn’t just said that aloud, had he? He had, hand’t he. He had. Bloody sleep-deprivation.
“Why didn’t you tell me then?!”
“Look, Audrye, this is not the time, alright?” Maybe she’d forget by the morning. Then they could go back to where they were. Penpals, friends from high school, a Knight and a Grigor. Not a lovelorn hacker pining after a gorgeous healer.
“Not the time?! This is the time of my life! You don’t understand do you? Do you?! You pig! Why are men like this? All men are pigs!” And she hung up.
The phone fell from his hand and with a soft thump hit the thick rug. A light snore could be heard as Nigel Willoby finally fell asleep.
He was woken by a ringtone. Glance at the clock revealed the time to be eight in the morning. That was more than eight hours of sleep. More than he had had in ages. He felt about until his hand found the phone and raised it to his ear without even looking at the caller id.
“Nikki?” asked a bright, albeit a bit unsure voice. He was fully awake immediately.
“It’s Nigel, yes.”
“Audrye here. Look, I think I made a phone call to you last night…”
What should he say to that? Yes you did? You called me a pig for many times? I blurted out that I cared for you? Luckily she didn’t wait for an answer.
“I’m sorry, I might have said somethings I didn’t mean. No, I did say things I didn’t mean. Oh, dear, I made a fool of myself, didn’t I?”
Again, a question he just didn’t know how to answer properly. These were quite plainly those female trick questions. He always got those wrong.
“Ehmmm…” was what he got out.
“Oh, don’t answer.” Lucky for him!
“I’m very sorry. They got me really drunk, you see. You know how it is with me and drinks. Anyways, I didn’t mean it and I apologise.”
“You don’t have to.” The sentence seemed to surprise them both as a few moments of silence followed.
“I mean, I know how it is… I hope you had otherwise a good time at the club,” he blurted.
“Don’t”, a simple determined command, “I was just so shocked that the flowers were from you. No-one else seemed to care about my condition, but Tico. And then, you. And quite frankly, you were the last person I thought of sending me flowers, Nigel.”
“I didn’t know what else to do, really”, he confessed.
“It’s not that. I just… it’s funny but I wanted to get flowers from you. And when you did send them. And Tico even said…” She was talking rapidly, circling around what she really wanted to say.
“Tico said you had a crush on me.” It felt like a punch to the gut.
“Actually he said you loved me, but I think it’s just the language barrier…” He felt like chocking. She was strangling him with these words. And he feared the coup de grace was to follow.
“And you said last night… You said… that you cared for me. Do you?” And there it was. She did remember. Why didn’t she ever forget the important things? Bloody hell! Would he see his whole life as a film now? Every scene with her, in slow motion and in black and white, silent film style.
“Because I… I care for you, Nigel.”
“I always did.”
“I just thought you’d think me too stupid. Or not Japanese enough. Or robot or something. So please, if you do.. feel something, please tell me now.”
What was she talking about? Not smart enough? Sure she wasn’t a brainiac, but she wasn’t stupid. Naive yes, and a bit of an airhead, but not truly stupid. Actually in many ways she was very bright. She wouldn’t have made it into top ranks within the Knights otherwise. She outranked him, a mere Grigor.
“I… I don’t think you are stupid.”
“And?” He gave up. This was going to end up in a disaster, but what the hell.
“I love you.” The words started to choke at his throat but made it out.
“What should we do?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, what should we do about it? Should we go on a date or something? It’d be a bit awkward though, considering how you hate anything but takeaway. Or do we just talk through Skype? I’m not really that into video-calls… I always look so messy. Maybe I should come over to Swansey, what do you say? I could stay at my folks, like a vacation. Would that be too much? Or too stupid?” She was rambling again. She was as lost as he was. That made him feel a bit better.
“No it wouldn’t. If you want, that is. We could meet up.”
“Oh, I could bring takeaway!”
“I’ve got light coke for you.”
“Oh, this will be so much fun!” She was back to her old self again. Cheery, happy, bouncing from here to there. He rarely smiled, but thinking of her cheering up brought a little smirk to his worried face.
“I’ll be over there in a few days or so! I’ll call you later about details, ok?”
“And Nikki… I love you too.”
The phone went black a few moments after the call ended. Nigel didn’t know what just had happened, but he was feeling something. Anxious, hopeful, worried and relieved all at the same time. Maybe even happy?