Monday, April 22, 2013

300 Prompts: [005 Coffee] Carl the Cockatoo has a Silly Name

Prompt: Coffee
Characters: Sophia Avery, Blake Sherman
World: White Wing
Rating: G to PG, I think.
Word Count: 1,387
Total Words: 14,569/20,000

Some quick notes: The Guardians that are mentioned are implanted computers on everyone's brain, basically, that flash a screen across the eyeball that the person wearing them can see, and finger movements control it. It's crazy tech that I invented and may or may not ever work. That's the beauty of sci-fi. Also, this is set in a future world and is part of a much bigger thing that I'll probably never write. They're experimenting and creating mutants in a lab.

Sophia is modeled a bit after Dr. Brennan from Bones in her social awkwardness, but much, much more shy.

This also has probably one of the most ridiculous working titles of anything I've ever written in my life, by the way.

Carl the Cockatoo has a Silly Name

“Dr. Avery, may I have a word?”

The room was dark, only Sophia left at her desk, flipping through numbers and charts without even touching a mouse. She was seamless and fascinating to watch, as Blake had been doing undetected for a good ten minutes now, trying to work up the nerve to speak with her. She looked up, appearing to be momentarily startled, but before he could apologize, she appeared relieved, and then concerned. “Dr. Sterman, of course. Is everything all right?”

Shit. Of course she’d think something was wrong, if one of her supervisors was asking for a private word late at night with no obvious cause. “Y-Yes. Of course.” He approached her desk, his confidence gone. He could tell she noticed, too, concern lighting those gentle brown eyes. “I, um… Would you have coffee with me?”

“I-”

“It’s late, I know. But we’re both up and we could, um, we have these reports to look over… Since we’re both still here and everything…” He was sweating and fumbling and he knew it, but she was blushing. He hoped it was a good sign.

“I-um, of course. Since we have work to do…” She glanced at her screen and with a blink of her eyes, it was gone, the entire system shut down.

“Were you done?” he asked, suddenly feeling bad. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

She shook her head. “No, no. I downloaded the files.” She tapped her head with a tiny grin. “I was at a stopping point anyway and I could use a break… for a business meeting.”

“Of course.” Blake hoped desperately that it would not just be a business meeting. They’d been dancing around their mutual attraction for each other for months now. He knew how she felt about her status as a Subject - and he knew the rules - but she was a doctor first, one of the first to join this program, and a brilliant one. A coffee couldn’t hurt.

——

They talked very little business at their coffee meeting, a number of files being transferred between their Guardians before talk turned to the more personal. Blake told her about his two dogs, a Great Dane and a Golden Retriever. They were his favorite part of the day, coming home to two little creatures who loved you so much no matter who you are, what you did, or how long you were gone.

Sophia didn’t like dogs. He figured her for a cat person, perhaps, knowing how shy she could be with anything human. He knew there was a reason she spent so much of her life in front of her beloved computer screens. A cat seemed to fit that, in his mind. But Sophia told him she was allergic to cats, severely, and had never been fond of their standoffish attitude anyway. “I have a bird,” she told him, mixing a little more hazelnut creamer into her cup of decaf coffee. The way he understood it, too much caffeine could send her abilities into overdrive. Even after six years since her transformation, she had trouble controlling it in such a technological age. Every human above the age of ten implanted with their Guardian, huge screens and lights flashing advertisements from every inch of every building in even the smallest of cities now, cameras on every street corner just an every day occurrence - and she felt everything like her own heartbeat. He tried to look at the world through her eyes for a moment as she stirred her coffee and suddenly felt sorry for her. She had never asked to be anything more than a researcher with a fondness for technology, until the day of her accident. “His name is Carl.”

He looked up from her cup, confused for a moment. “I’m sorry?”

“My bird. His name is Carl.” She said it very matter-of-factly.

“Carl?”

“Of course.”

He grinned a little, trying not to come off like he was smirking. “Where did you come up with a name like that for a bird?”

She seemed confused, as though Carl was the only name that made sense and not sure why he wouldn’t think so. “He’s a cockatoo. It’s very logical. They both start with a ‘C.’ And it’s a very nice, strong name, don’t you think?”

“Maybe for my grandfather.”

“Maybe.” Then after a moment she laughed, a startled sort of chuckle that was endearing. “You’re teasing me, aren’t you!”

He laughed now. She was adorable in her naivety. “Yes, I am. It’s a silly name.” She grimaced a little, looking unsure whether or not to be offended, unsure whether or not he was still teasing her. “It does fit, though.”

They talked for two more hours, until the clock was nearly at midnight. They talked about everything under the sun, from hobbies (Sophia had few and little time for them, but she enjoyed painting) to family (her father was involved in local politics back in her hometown, her mother a nurse). Then the waitress came by and offered another refill on their coffees and Blake looked at the clock in the upper corner of his Guardian screen on his left eye.

“Oh my God, it’s ten til.”

“Til?”

“Midnight.” He caught her eye flick as she checked her own computer screen and an O of surprise shaped her mouth. “I didn’t mean to keep you this late.”

“It’s all right. I… enjoyed myself.” She smiled shyly, any confidence she’d developed during their easy conversation melting away again as she remembered herself and her lack of social skills.

“I don’t know if this was solely a business meeting…” he told her gently, testing the waters. He’d been dying to get her out just for coffee for months. She was beautiful, brilliant, and completely oblivious to it in a way that came off as humble and sweet.

Looking nervous and rather uncomfortable all of a sudden, Sophia stood up, pulling her jacket from the spot next to her in their booth and tugging it on quickly. “I should - I need to check on Carl. And I need to go in early tomorrow. There have been some problems with some of the defense systems in the compound and I need to - to run some diagnostics…”

He jumped to his feet as well and stayed on her heels as she rushed out the door. “Sophia, please, hold on!” When she didn’t slow and raised her arm to hail a taxi cab, he made a noise of frustration. “Dr. Avery, would you wait a damn second!”

Startled by his language, she did turn toward him, just as the yellow taxi pulled up to the curb.

Unsure of what to do now, he fumbled for a moment before submitting, “Would you like to share a cab?” She just nodded.

The ride to her apartment building was short and silent, but she seemed far more relaxed when they pulled up. He got out of the car and walked around to open her door. She blushed, but smiled as she climbed out. Okay, he thought. Progress. He walked her to the large door at the building’s entrance and she hesitated for a moment. He took that as opportunity. Gently he scooped up her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it. Her cheeks turned bright red and she could hardly control the very silly grin playing across her lips. He met her eyes for a moment as he bent over her hand before releasing it and straightening. “I hope you’ll let me buy you coffee again sometime, Dr. Avery.”

“Sophie. You can call me Sophie.” He barely heard her the whisper was so soft, but he was certain of what she’d said.

“All right.” He nodded. “Sophie.”

“I like coffee.” She smiled as bravely as she could muster before waving the Guardian chip implanted in the back of her right hand in front of a reader on her door. A buzz and a click were heard and the door popped open. As she slipped inside he heard a quick, “Bye,” before the door shut and locked behind her and she was gone. Feeling rather good about himself and his success this evening in cracking into Sophie’s shy outer shell, Blake smiled and sauntered down the steps back to the waiting cab.