Coming Home

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This was a story commissioned by TheShoveller / Calsetes.


Lee Colins stared out at the aerospaceport tarmac, idly observing the aircraft as they were loaded with passengers, crew and luggage. He had arrived over forty minutes ago, and after a security check and final baggage claim, he took a moment to relax after the long flight home. He caught a glimpse of his reflection, seeing a clean-shaven young man with short brown hair, green eyes and a little bit of chin stubble staring back at him. He hadn't shaved in a while, but he'd solve that problem once he was at home.

It was mind boggling to think about how long it had truly been since he had left. Graduating high school at seventeen, he had won a prestigious scholarship to one of America's best tech-focused universities. From there, he had excelled at cybernetics, graduating near-top of his class in the field of Cybernetics Engineering. While there, he had been scouted by a leading Japanese technology firm, which was headquartered in Junkoushima, the island-city that had been artificially constructed some decades ago, and housed a large number of self-aware and self-determining machines. While there, he had earned several other degrees in related fields.

Adjusting to the culture was something of a struggle for a few months, but he soon acclimated, though never quite got used to the difference. He had made a few friends, both human and mechanical, but while it was where he lived, it had never felt quite like home to him. Even after his promotion to a senior position among the diverse employees, he had never felt like he belonged there, or at least didn't feel for his island home as strongly. Home for Lee Colins was a small two story home in a suburb just outside Denver, Colorado, and while it had taken him a bit of time to get readjusted to the altitude difference between here and the island of Junkoushima, he felt a sense of warmth at seeing the tall peaks of Lookout Mountain, a feeling of deep nostalgia. To the twenty four-year-old, it felt like a true homecoming.

But as he pondered that, a twang of guilt caused his soft smile to downturn. At the end of every semester in college, Lee had made the trip home to visit his stepmother. She was a warm and loving woman, who had married his father after the accident. It had been long enough that he had subdued the overwhelming grief of those first few months, but even now, well over a decade, it never truly went away. He missed the mother he could only barely remember, and missed both his father as the man he had known until his sixth year and the physically broken but prideful man that clung to life with white knuckles for another three years after. Though he had loved them both, it was his stepmother, Renée, who had truly raised him. And it was she who held the biggest place in his heart.

But after college and especially after his hiring, he could no longer make the trip as easily. While they kept in touch through phone calls, e-mail and video chat, it just wasn't the same. And while they made the arrangements for his visit in the upcoming weeks, the calls were shorter, and the emails more succinct. He had wondered if something was wrong, but in his optimistic mind, he had relegated the issue to one of minor concern. Perhaps she'd just gotten busier, he had reasoned. Though with her selfless devotion to both her home and her family, Lee wondered just what that could have been. The other thought was that she was simply getting older, but age had never slowed her down before. But time, he knew, could catch up to anyone. It just seemed especially strange to think of his stepmother, the bedrock of what felt like a tumultuous early life, could ever waver, even if she was a good three years older now than the last time he'd seen her in person.

Pulling himself away from the window as the muffled, distant whine of a jet taxiing down the runway coaxed him from his reverie, and he turned away with his suitcase rolling along behind him. The spherical robotic luggage container rolled along on its treads, its sensor cameras beneath its collapsed handle allowed it to duck and weave past the passengers that were coming and going from the city during the very start of its tourist season. Snow had come early for the city, and as a lifelong resident of the nation's tallest state capitol, Lee had prepared accordingly with a gray coat and a hand-knit scarf already over his white button-up long sleeved shirt and slate gray business trousers. It had taken him a while to get used to business wear, but now he could hardly imagine a day without a suit and tie.

After he made his way through the gate, he went down to the rental car agency and picked up his keys. To his surprise, a female android greeted him at the kiosk, and a sapient one at that. America had been slower to accept such androids as normal members of society, and while plenty had been purchased, many retained jobs that were similar to their original functions. It wasn't quite like Japan, where androids identifying as family members, siblings or spouses were more common, and enrolled in colleges for careers that could be outside of their given function. It seemed to be just as much a matter of culture as programming. After a friendly but brief discussion of their respective jobs, which had led to Lee giving a business card to her, he found his car, put his luggage in the trunk, then got inside.

He used the keys only to unlock the door, pressing a button to start the engine and then used the on board guidance systems to start the vehicle. Laying back, the interior, at first illuminated only with a few strips of relaxing blue LED lights following the smooth contour of the roof, lit up as the vehicle's front interior above the dash, roof and rear replaced featureless darkness with a real time video display. A Heads Up Display soon rose up in a snazzy user interface, detailing his destination, miles to go, the weather and a minimap of the area around the airport that, if he so chose, Lee could expand or contract with just a few finger gestures.

It had felt like an age since the last time he took something other than public transportation, and the seat he found himself reclining in felt heavenly. Keying in his destination, he felt the vehicle move beneath him as it slowly left its packed parking area. Soon, it was out of the parking garage and onto the road connected to the airport. His trip took him down the freeway, around the city of Denver, winding its way on the optimum path through traffic to the suburb of Pine Springs, and then home.

Home, at least what had been home for the majority of Lee's life, was a two story suburban ranch home, situated at the very end of the neck of a cul de sac. It was well-maintained, though as the car approached closer to the front yard, Lee did notice that the grass was looking a little long. When Lee was younger, Renée had paid neighborhood kids twenty dollars an hour to clean up the yard and mow the grass. Arranging patio furniture and picking up toys, then later sports equipment was something she did frequently, but actual lawn care had never been a specialty of hers. She often remarked that it was due to a grass allergy, and Lee had no reason to disbelieve her. After all, she was otherwise tireless in her duties around the home.

Though curious, the state of the lawn was not something that had bothered him as the car rolled into the driveway. Lee had not called ahead. He had wanted the visit to be a surprise for her, as they hadn't spoken in some time beyond simple email correspondence. But as he crossed the patio stones and approached the front door, he noticed something rather peculiar. The home's mailbox was closer to the door than those of other homes in the neighborhood. Lee's father had it set up that way after the accident, so that he could still get the mail himself despite the severity of his condition, and even after his passing, Lee and Renée had never bothered to move it. There was no practical reason to, and to be frank it felt somehow wrong not to have it there. Though electronic communication had pretty much rendered paper extinct in the formal scene, governments and companies still preferred sending paper medium letters, and a cursory inspection driven by curiosity born of the raised flag next to the box had Lee open it. Inside, there must have been eight or nine envelopes, and at a quick glance, all appeared to be junk mail.

Renée was always fastidious about this sort of thing, checking the mail both electronic and physical quickly and responding to bills or notices promptly. This wasn't like her. The curiosity was now beginning to segue into concern, but Lee was still calm. He turned his attention to the door, which hadn't changed much at all from his recollection, and knocked twice, loud enough to be heard. He briefly marveled at the fact that he could still recall the home's acoustics well enough to know exactly how hard to knock, before he noticed that he heard nothing on the other side. After waiting around fifteen seconds, he tried again. All that came afterward was an uncomfortable silence. He reached down, tried the door, and found it unlocked. His concern grew.

“Mom?” As he stepped in he called out to her. Though the layout was as familiar to him as ever, much of the interior had been changed. Lee had most of his old things sent to him after he moved to Japan, though some items he had to inevitably sell due to the limited space his apartment afforded. As he stepped in, he noticed how the TV was gone, though Renée had mentioned she didn't watch much TV anymore, so that didn't surprise him. As he stepped further in, shutting and locking the door behind him, what had surprised him was that the interior looked untouched for a long time. Plates were still set on the long table in the dining room, separated from the living room and front entrance-way only by a chest-high wall, which became a full-sized supporting wall as it went towards the kitchen.

As he walked over to the living room, he could see that almost every item of furniture there had a fine layer of dust coating it. No lights were on, something he had not even thought to check on from the outside. He stepped back, the concern now a genuine fear, hesitation in his steps as he approached the kitchen. The pots that hung up on the wall were clean, but had not seen use in ages. The microwave was spotless, as was the stove. And the small kitchen island in the center of the small room had a washcloth laid across it. Lifting it out of curiosity, dust rose from it, and then billowed out from underneath as he set it back down again onto the tiles that made up the island's top surface.

What had happened? Was she away? Had she gone on vacation? There were no pets to take care of, no plants to water. The nest was empty, so had she moved? Left entirely? If so, where would she have gone, and why was the home unlocked, all her things left behind? Darker thoughts crept into his mind. It raced with possibilities, conjuring up images of her collapsed form left laying on the floor, a victim of some unknown medical condition. Renée had to have been in her late fifties now, as his father had married her when she was young, but she seemed to keep in shape and hadn't lost any of the age of her youth when she was raising Lee. The correspondence showed no sign of ill health, and if it had been serious Lee knew she would have mentioned it, though he had no evidence to prove it.

“Mom?” He called out again, louder this time and with the worry clear on his voice. Past the dining room, he walked quickly up the stairs, the banister changed from when he was last here, but beyond a change in the shade of color in its laminated wood he didn't bother to note the details. His hand reached for a light switch that had been there since he was thirteen, and lit the landing and upstairs hallway up in the glow of a freshly-changed light bulb No response. Could she not hear him?

Acting before he thought, Lee turned quickly to the right and reached out for the brass doorknob to his parent's room, and with a twist, opened the door. Before he laid his eyes on anything else, he was greeted with the sight of a naked back, his eyes tracking downwards in seconds to see a familiar, voluptuous rear clad in a thin pair of dark purple panties. His eyes widened, and he quickly closed the door.

“Oh, crap, mom! Why didn't you answer me?! Geez, I come home for the first time in forever and you...” Lee's words trailed off as he realized that his stepmother hadn't responded at all to his unexpected intrusion. Curious and worried, he slowly pushed open the door and took a peek inside. The bedroom, like most of the rest of the house, was immaculate. Unlike the other rooms, however, it had shown signs of use. Namely, fresh bed sheets and a PC in the corner with an orange power indicator showing it was still plugged in, and a monitor that was about a generation behind the standard. But as he opened the door further, his eyes once again fell across that naked back, and as they lingered, he realized that Renée was not moving.

“...Mom?” The worry had returned, but was now mixed with something altogether different. The confusion was clear on Lee's face, as he broke his eyes away from the sight to reach for a light switch next to the door. Renée did not react in the slightest to the sudden illumination of the room, and as Lee took a closer look, he realized that she appeared to be almost frozen mid-movement. Her clothes, a light gray blouse that was slightly oversized for her and a blue skirt that likewise did little to draw attention to her legs, were piled neatly on the bed. Renée was only wearing the panties, her G-cup bra lay at her feet. Both her arms were crooked slightly at the elbows, fingers pointing towards the edge of the bed. Frozen, it looked like, as she was taking off her bra.

Lee approached slowly, feeling hesitant as he reached out to touch his stepmother's shoulder. He gently, slowly shook it, and found no response. His hesitation grew as he walked around to peer into her face. He wasn't quite sure what he was expecting, but the sight of her eyes completely devoid of the beautiful blue color and finer detail that he had grown so accustomed to. Instead, they were stone gray and featureless. One of her dark brown bangs hung in front of her right eye, the stylish braided ponytail she kept behind her head slipped over her shoulder. His hand pulled away suddenly, he forced himself to look down, past her well-endowed chest and her somewhat puffy pink nipples down to her abdomen. The sight of it made his eyes widen.

On Renée's abdomen, there was a burn mark, but it wasn't like a burn on human skin, instead the black soot of intense heat. It formed a perfect rectangular outline surrounding the center of her abdomen, where her belly button was situated. Kneeling down, Lee reached out and pressed his fingers to the skin. At first, he felt nothing but the soft texture of skin, feeling backed by fat and rigid muscle, like most any other human. But as Lee's fingers moved over Renée's belly button, he felt something harder, more like plastic, and pressed in. It took Lee a few seconds to release the pressure after hearing the muffled plastic click, and when he did, the outlined panel popped out with it.

Lee was stunned. He sat back, leaving the panel to hit the floor, as the worn components of an android's frame presented themselves, the circuits and wiring damaged by what looked like a serious hardware fault. He looked up at his stepmother, ignoring her topless state, and back down to the panel, feeling a sinking feeling in his chest. His lips parted, mouth agape, he stared at it unblinking, attempting to reconcile the facts in front of him with what he was experiencing.

The woman he had called 'mother' all these years, for most of his life, was a robot.

Through the shock of it all, there was a kind of bizarre irony to it that immediately became apparent. Lee's mother wasn't just a robot, she was a malfunctioning robot, a broken robot. The problem he had spent all those years learning to solve, and it was now exactly what his ailing 'mother' needed. And as he pondered that, he thought of a slew of other questions. Had his father known? Had Renée somehow duped him when he was vulnerable? Lee knew that perhaps the march of time had made his characterization of his father somewhat muddled, but he knew that it wasn't likely that he'd be fooled into thinking Renée was human if that were the case. His body was broken, but his mind was sharp. A skilled mechanical engineer himself, Lee's father would have been hard to dupe that way.

Perhaps the simplest explanation was the correct one, as his own engineering experience had so often taught him. Lee's father had purchased Renée for the purposes of...being his wife? The more he thought of it, the less simple it seemed. But it also felt like the correct answer, somehow.

As he put a hand to his forehead, Lee realized that he was distracting himself with all this speculation. Slowly shaking his head, he looked back up at Renée and peered into her inner workings. In the dim light of the room, he fished in his pocket for his phone, and turned on its flashlight. As he did, what looked like a bad situation was confirmed to be even worse than he had initially thought. Of the lengths of wire that went down Renée's abdomen towards her hips and up towards her chest, following along the metallic spine flanked by actuator pistons, only one he saw looked undamaged, and even then it was only a section of a wire that likely went in both directions for some length. The servo mechanisms that drove Renée's metal 'spine' looked worn from here, which meant that they were probably near totally shot. Another thing his engineering education had taught him was that anything that looked bad on the outside was probably worse on the inside. With just a brief glimpse, the enormity of the job before him was made clear.

Lee stood up and walked past the shorter android, contemplating what to do. He briefly thought about canceling his vacation and coming back to work to get his tools, but that would be impractical. Then came the idea of bringing Renée to Japan with him. That, too, seemed impractical, and as Lee pondered it, he wondered how Renée could be his legal guardian. He was fairly sure it wasn't legal at the time, and might not have even been legal now. He hadn't been paying much attention to artificial person-hood politics in the States, as he was usually too focused on his work while in Japan. Did this mean that Renée was registered as a human? Would his father do something so questionably legal like that to give him a mother to raise him? Again, that was assuming he even knew...

He stopped himself, putting a pair of fingers to the bridge of his nose as he got himself out of the ever deepening spiral of thoughts. There would be a time and a place for this, but not now. Now he just had to focus on getting Renée functional again. And to do that, he needed to know some things. And the very first was what sort of model Renée was.

Pushing all thoughts of who this was out of his mind, Lee brought up his phone and activated an app made for members of the robotics industry such as himself. It was standard practice to have every robot have a bar code or other form of identification, even the most realistic ones. Tapping a few times on the app brought up the scanning program, which wirelessly connected to a massive product database. He then brought the phone up against Renée's neck, and trailed it down her back. At first, he didn't get anything, but running it back up her legs and thighs got a hit. The enhanced scanners on the phone detected a QR code. Running it through the system, Lee got his answer.

Renée was a DomesTech model, a company that was once rather prominent, but had fallen into something of a decline. Still in business, or at least they still manufactured components for their prior products which had something of a cult following thanks to their reliability and intelligence in an affordable package. Specifically, she was either a 2800 or 3000 series Child Care Unit, which were designed for child care and even child rearing to a limited degree, young children or babies mostly.

As he read the information out on the phone, one hand semi-consciously went to the side of his head. He sat down on the edge of the bed and read in silence. Of course his father would buy the relatively inexpensive option for this. Then again, he did have a knack for saving money through smart purchases. And Renée did serve her function well... And with that thought, the surreal nature of it all came back in waves. He pressed his hand to his forehead and let out a long, heavy breath through his teeth.

“Okay, okay...Maybe...Maybe just give yourself a bit of a rest, huh? You've been on a long flight, and...you're so stressed out that you're talking to yourself out loud...and your stepmother's a robot.” He pinched the bridge of his nose again, and raised his head up from his phone and found himself at eye level with his stepmother's chest. He quickly averted his eyes, turning his head, and then stood up and quickly walked out of the room.

As he left, though, he couldn't help but feel the uncomfortably pleasurable sensation of his member stiffening in his pants. He couldn't explain it, and so decided to occupy his mind with another task. Still feeling the jet lag from the long trip, but too bothered by the sudden arousal, he didn't want to just rest without a way to occupy his mind. He decided instead to check something.

When he was younger, he had been told by his father specifically not to go into the basement workroom, which for all intents and purposes was the basement, as only a tiny corner of the room had not been dedicated to the lab he had only seen once or twice in his youth. When his father was alive, he had obeyed the command out of respect. He wasn't hard, or cruel, but that just made the command that was always carried in a stern tone all the more serious. It was easier to understand and obey because of how much it had contrasted with his otherwise gentle demeanor. He could be pig headed at times, stubborn to the core and defiant, but even when his condition was at its worst, he was never unnecessarily harsh.

After he passed, the deference to his father's wishes had transformed into respect for the man himself. There had been moments in the past where he had considered opening that door and finding out what was down there. His recollections of the few times he had gone into the basement were at best hazy, and he had always remembered what he saw as 'engineering stuff' that, at the time, he had neither the interest nor the capacity to understand. But when his interest grew, so did his curiosity. Every time he had approached that door at the foot of the stairway, however, he grew hesitant. It felt like he was about to enter a crypt, the last resting place of mortal remains, even though his rational mind knew that all that was down there were probably some old machines. Going in felt like a break-in, and the thought of perusing his father's workshop felt like grave robbing.

But as he wondered about Renée, how she had been kept functional for so long over all these years, he wondered if perhaps there was a solution to this problem down there? And if not, maybe it was a step in the right direction? And, after all, considering the revelations he had already learned, what more could there be down there that could outdo that?

He lowered his head, rolled his shoulders, and pushed himself into a stand. Walking down the steps, he headed down the hallway and down another flight of steps to the basement door. The hesitation struck again. It took great force of effort to reach out and take hold of the doorknob, and as he pushed against it, he found it to be unlocked. It was strangely heartwarming for Lee to know that his father had felt enough trust in his son to leave it like this, but then he realized that perhaps it had been left that way for Renée? He held it a bit longer, before pushing in.

The door creaked on its hinges. The basement was dark, though a shaft of light illuminated a corner of the hallway from a ground-level window, though the light was broken up slightly by blades of grass from the slightly unkempt lawn. Dust came up in clouds from the unswept floor, and Lee had to bring his arm up to his face to prevent from sneezing. Thankful he wasn't allergic, he started looking around for any kind of light switch, and eventually, found one on the wall.

The fluorescent lamps on the ceiling seemed to visibly struggle to activate, flickering wildly before the light became steady. In the orange glow, the contents of his father's work room were laid bare. The basement was surprisingly not stark concrete flooring, but rubber tiles that covered the floor in one tightly interlocking sheet. The work benches were a mix of almost quaintly archaic hardwood waist-high shelves and silvery sleek metal cabinets bolted to the wall near the ceiling. Dominating the center of the room was a metal mass covered by a semi-transparent plastic tarp. Lee walked to it, pulled it away, and after momentarily regretting the decision from the billowing dust cloud it generated, Lee took a moment from his coughing fit to eye the device.

It was a robotics workstation. The central structure was a chair, an adjustable base bolted directly to the floor allowed it to be tilted forward, back and turned in three hundred and sixty degrees to any angle a user needed, looking rather a lot like a dentist's chair. Thin robotic arms, which could be autonomous and assist directly with repairs or used solely to hold tools were attached to one side. A monitor with a flat screen was on the opposite side, with an attached mechanical keyboard for diagnostics of both the workstation and its occupant. A lamp was positioned above that, the powerful halogen lights able to shine light into even the deepest crevice of a robotic framework.

It was impressive technology fifteen years ago, but most of these systems were outdated by now. Lee observed the shelves, and checked them. To his dismay, while parts were present for Renée's model, not all of them were here. Central Processor circuitry for the most part, which was a relief, along with a few servo motor replacement components, but there were only a few reels of replacement wiring and, somewhat strangely, no screws, bolts or other fastening devices. All of the tools were here, again, outdated, but it was enough to work with.

Lee wondered how many times his father had brought Renée down here. And afterwards, how many times, if at all, Renée herself came down here to repair herself. Raising a young boy single-handed would have been difficult for a human woman, much less an android who over the course of fifteen years had gone from state-of-the-art to completely outdated. Hell, didn't the company stop making androids around the time he was entering senior year? He pushed the thought aside and after his final cursory glance about the workshop, went to head back upstairs.

He didn't go to Renée immediately. Instead, he went to the rental car. Opening the trunk, he got his luggage out, which followed him dutifully across the walkway to the front door. He picked it up by the handle the rest of the way. The design really didn't handle stairs well. And once he was down in the basement, set the luggage down on the workbench and tapped the side. The side of the spherical device opened in an iris, shrinking outwards from the center, and reaching inside, past his toiletries and spare clothes, Lee pulled out a black plastic stick with several points on the side and a joint in the middle.

Setting the stick down on one of the wooden work benches next to the work station, Lee sat himself down on a dusty stool and pulled on the left-hand side of the stick. As it did, a paper thin and flexible touch screen extended outwards, and the mimetic material began rising up to form a bumpy surface. It wasn't long after until a white light activated, backing the bumps to reveal an American standard keyboard configuration. The top section had also extended along with the bottom, and as the keyboard lit up, so too did a similar length of material that flashed once to display the company logo for the compact computer's OS.

Adjusting the screen, Lee logged on. It was a personal computer, but he occasionally did non-sensitive work on it. Rather ironically, the usual reasons for using the other compact computer in his luggage were reversed. He didn't want a record of Renée's repairs to somehow end up in his company's server, and he'd doubtless have to access Renée's processors at some point.

Now came the more difficult part. He stood up and walked upstairs, then back up the second floor stairs to where Renée stood. Straightening her limbs proved impossible, they were stuck fast. So he had to awkwardly hook his arm around Renée's waist and get her down both flights of steps, and her model was heavier than he was used to. After almost dropping her down the basement steps and knocking her head against the basement door frame, he succeeded in getting her to the work station.

Next came an even harder part. Deciding to just dive in, and remembering his training to view his subjects objectively, he hooked his fingers into Renée's panties and worked them off her feet. It wasn't done neatly, since he had to try and get them out from underneath her unmoving feet, and in the end opted to simply cut them off. With that done, he set Renée down on the workbench.

Lee found his eyes lingered on Renée's body. There was something about the way she was positioned, as if still standing mid-bra removal, arms slightly raised and outstretched, legs bent, that seemed so mechanical. There was undeniably a kind of...appeal to it. Lee refocused. Normally it wasn't so difficult to concentrate on working on an android, but the fact that this was Renée he was working on was doing something to him. He shook his head and brought up the model database again, looking up the internal schematics of the 2800 or 3000 CCU model. There, he learned a way to tell precisely what sort of android she was.

Most androids of the past thirty to forty years had a motor system reset function, specifically designed for situations such as this when their servos locked down to prevent them from falling over and damaging themselves after a serious fault or sudden shut down. In the 2800 series, this was tied to a switch in the abdomen. Not seeing such a switch even among the damaged components within Renée's open panel, this meant that she had to have been a 3000-series. With that learned, Lee turned his attention to Renée's neck. There, modified to be nigh-imperceptible, was a hair-thin seam. This was one of the few places on the otherwise sealed seams where the internal mechanisms could be accessed without opening a panel or cutting open the synthetic outer dermis.

Turning to a wooden work desk, he pulled out a pair of small tweezers. They were intended for fine precise mechanical work, but their flat metal tips would work for the job he had in mind. Pressed together, they slipped into the seam, and spread the synthetic dermis apart, just a few inches but enough to see what Lee was looking for. Set behind a few wires and thin black cables that looked damaged, but not as badly damaged as the wiring in her abdomen, was a white plastic tab. Taking another tool, a small screwdriver, he reached in and pressed the tip against it.

The button was a wholly analog system, which meant that it had no trouble doing its job. Renée's limbs eased into the work station's arm and leg rests, and her head slowly eased back. Yet he could hear her otherwise quiet servo motors whir loudly, some even rattling as they eased the limbs they controlled down to an easier to work with position. That done, Lee went to work on the next part of his plan.

Between the sounds of her servo motors, the damaged wiring and the clear indications of a short, it was obvious that Renée's body was not safe to operate without serious repairs. Thus, drastic action had to be taken. Bringing up a 3000-series' schematics again, Lee worked slowly, using a screwdriver and a specialized tool that looked somewhat like an awl that decoupled the connections between wire sections. Leaning in close to observe his work let Lee forget that these mechanical parts were part of the machine that was his stepmother, and he managed to get this done with his usual cautiously tempered speed. The 'operation' was done in twenty minutes.

But when he rose up again, set to follow through with the next part of the procedure, he paused. Staring down at Renée's face, at her open colorless eyes and the frozen expression of mild surprise, Lee couldn't help but think of the woman he had grown to see as a parent. The woman...He shut his eyes, breathed out, and after setting his tools aside, reached out and took hold of Renée's head. Holding her by the sides of her head, he gently turned her head left, then right. At the last turn, there was a soft hiss and a mechanical clack, and Lee slowly lifted Renée's head from her neck, leaving behind a bundle of damaged wiring surrounding a plastic throat and the top of a metal facsimile of a spinal column. Carrying her head over to where his computer sat, Lee set it down on the table. He took out a series of adapter cables he originally planned to use while at his hotel, and found that the oldest USB-style plug, the one he hardly ever used, was the only one that worked properly. Sliding it in to Renée's processor access port just underneath her head with a soft click, he did nothing else with the computer just yet.

Bringing up his phone again, Lee consulted the schematics again for the next part of the procedure. Like a human's skull, the cranial module of an android wasn't a single lump of plastic or hunk of metal, but a series of tightly interconnecting plates. While for humans this allowed for a bit of flexibility to prevent damage due to rigidity, for androids this meant that the inner workings of their heads could be carefully accessed. And while some androids only kept audio/visual systems in their heads, the 3000 series had a processor arrangement kept within the cranial unit, similar to many of the Japanese units he'd worked on over the years for his company.

First, though, he had to access the cranial unit housing Renée's processors directly. This part only required something thin to reach a hidden recess just above and behind Renée's left ear. He used the wire decoupler for this, the thin, sharp tip slipping into the pinhead-sized recess, hidden by a tiny flap of synthetic skin. Pressing in, he heard a click, and suddenly seams formed all over Renée's head. From the very base of her head down to just below her eye sockets and up the top of her nose, the thin plastic plates backing Renée's synthetic skin and scalp rose up, allowing Lee to carry the whole thing up and away, connected to each other by thin but sturdy non-conductive rods of alloy metal. To his surprise, her hairstyle kept relatively well, though a few stray strands had gotten loose.

There, he saw Renée undeniably exposed for what she truly was. Her eyes had shut when the dermal plates rose up, but the semi-circular optic covers designed to look like eyeballs went with them. They left behind fixed wide-angle camera sensors set within Renee's optical sockets. Following them up was the upper frontal cranial plate making up most of the upper part of Renée's skull, which went up to the curve of her metal cranium, the light alloy held together with plastic tabs that could move and open as needed on command. He brought the tool down and made use of them, pressing into another recess in the back of Renée's cranium, turning her head around as it opened like the petals of a blossoming flower.

The normally tightly stacked processor components rose up like the pages in a binder, moving on thin metal rods built into the fixed parts of Renée's head. A core processor block was situated at the very base of these components, four plastic cubes tightly packed and interlocked, with two thin metal drives just above. These were Renée's high capacity memory drives, each one containing enough space to ensure that she wouldn't need to store data on a separate drive for decades. Above them were a series of even thinner devices that on first glance looked like archaic printed circuit boards, but on closer inspection were revealed to be made out of semi-translucent blue-tinted crystal, upon which circuit patterns had been etched into the semi-solid crystal medium. These constituted Renée's personality component, though nowadays this component was usually only consisted of one device that was as thin as a memory drive. A quick inspection of all of them showed that, hardware wise, they hadn't received any damage. At least they had proper protections in place for catastrophic system failure back in Renée's time of manufacture.

With Renée's head connected to the computer, and indicators in her open head showing she was getting power, Lee sat down and began typing on the keyboard in front of him. Logging in, he found the device listing that showed what must have been Renée listed as 'DomesTech Child Care Unit 3000 series DT3070CCU-2J44W9K'. Presumably this was Renée's serial number. Writing it down on a notepad app, he then accessed the device and was greeted with a menu. All processes save the start-up and basic diagnostics functions were password locked.

Lee let out a sigh and a curse, but he decided to focus on this later. He instead brought his cursor over to the 'ACTIVATE' command, and heard Renée starting up before he saw the indicator lights blinking furiously, and worryingly so, in her open head. It took almost thirty minutes longer than it should have to reactivate, and when she did, she was totally quiet. Lee's expression grew concerned as he wheeled the old chair over to face Renée, turning her head around so that she could get a good look at him.

“Ah!” The exclamation, piped through the laptop's audio systems, was so sudden it made Lee jump slightly. “Ah! Ah. Hello. Son. How are you doing?” There were soft whirs and whines, a chorus of mechanical noises as every moving part in Renée's head was rendered audible, and these older models made quite a bit of noise when opened.

“Um. I'm fine. Listen, uh, Mom. Can you tell me how you feel right now?”

“I feel...pie.” Renée smiled softly, but there was a vacant quality to it. The concern Lee felt was mixing with that same strangely pleasurable feeling he had felt earlier, but he disregarded it. Renée continued. “I feel pie would be the best way to greet you when you get back home. How is. Home. How is Japan—J-J-J-J-J-J--Tasting--these days?” Renée's inflection was off, adding emphasis to the wrong words or syllables. Her soft, gentle voice sometimes rose in volume for no reason at all as she continued to ramble on. “I spoke to the neighbor's yesterday about. About. About dog. Their dog. They said he. He. Had moved off to college and I laughed—hahaha!”

“Mom? Renée, can you even hear me? I...” He trailed off as Renée continued to prattle on, the lenses of her exposed optical sensors whirring softly as they focused in and out at random. Something was wrong with her software, and this was a problem. Lee's focus in his career was correcting hardware issues. Software was something he was familiar with for newer models, but even then he knew he was a bit of a script kiddie in that regard. With no other options, and seeing no way to get any information out of her, Lee hit the 'ACTIVATE' icon again on the menu.

“And then there was--” Renée's optics whirred as the lenses widened, the lights blinking off one by one in her head in a sequential but rapid succession. Lee put his hands to his forehead and ran his fingers through his hair, and activated the basic diagnostics function. That proved only marginally useful, as after ten minutes of self-checks, Renée's diagnostics listed over seventy-two software errors, most of which seemed tied to outdated software and data corruption, but no malware thankfully. But it didn't fix the issues, only listing them, likely intended to prevent people from messing up the software and suing the company for damages. He shook his head and folded his arms on the work bench in front of the keyboard.

He racked his brain, trying to think of a solution. There were software writing programs both paid and shareware that he could use, but he didn't have the skills to do it on his own. And while he knew plenty of co-workers who could help, he didn't think of any he could trust to know that the android they were working on in question was his stepmother. He leaned back in the chair, staring at the ceiling of the basement work lab, going over names and places, all either untrustworthy or inaccessible.

Then, he remembered a name. A consultant for the company on a semi-professional basis, one of many freelancers who were hired as 'white hats' to test the defenses of the company's products and their own security systems in mock cyber attacks. Normally, he didn't associate with them, not out of any kind of workplace-related snobbery, just due to the fact that they tended to operate in different circles, but there was one that he had come to know after they had met at the company following a breach of security in the accounting department that he'd become briefly familiar with. Not quite a friend, but they were on friendly terms. The only problem had been that they hadn't spoken in some time. Lee accessed a group chat program, and let out a sigh of relief when he saw them both on his DM list and that they were online. Lee sent an invite for a video call, and as the little jingle started simulating a phone's ringer, Lee briefly took his attention away from the screen. Two rings in, and it stopped, replaced by a woman's voice.

“Moshi—Oh! Hey, it's you, that guy from Yamaguchi Corp. Kinda' early to be calling me about consultation work, aren't you?” Lee mentally kicked himself. It must have been close to dawn in Japan. He turned his head to see that the face on the other end was thankfully smiling. The woman on the other end was of a pale complexion, her skin the color of alabaster, and her eyes a noticeably inhuman red shade. No sclera or pupils, just a solid, somewhat translucent red color that revealed smaller wide-angle optical sensors similar broadly to Renée's. Her face was framed by a bleached bob cut neck-length bangs at the front and a loose bang hung between her eyes at a slight angle. And as Lee's eyes unintentionally followed them down, he briefly caught sight of the buxom woman's thin exposed joint and panel seams, and a chest that was both similar in size to Renée's and completely uncovered.

“Woah,” Lee suddenly exclaimed, turning his head away. “Oh, shit. Chise, I'm sorry, I didn't...Listen, I can wait for a better time, or you can go put on a shirt.”

Yamata Chise made a wiry smirk, sighing and shaking her head. “You know, you humans with your sense of modesty are so friggin' adorable sometimes. I can go put one on if it makes you uncomfortable, but if you're fine with it I'd rather not. My AC's busted and it's looking like it's going to be a hot day, even with the ocean breeze.” Chise turned her gaze away from the monitor the camera was peering from, and Lee turned back to look at her, getting another glimpse of her bare breasts and tan nipples before making sure he kept his eyes on her face. “So, what's up? Someone try to rob you again?”

“No, it's...a personal matter.” Lee paused for a moment, wondering how to word it exactly. “I've got...a family android. I've known her forever, and I was wondering if you could help me with her. I'm a hardware guy, I could probably take apart most androids blindfolded, but I'm useless with software. You did such a good job and--”

“Say no more,” Chise said, her face growing serious. “I've got a soft spot for androids in distress. And engineers who make bold claims.” Chise shot Lee a smirk as she turned her head back to another monitor, her fingers now flying over a holographic keyboard. She probably has haptic feedback sensors built into her fingers, Lee thought, as even androids tended to rely on tactile feedback like humans did. “Okay, so, what's the model?”

“She's a DomesTech 3000 series, but it looks like she's been heavily modified. Serious software and hardware faults, corrupted data by the looks of it.” He felt a weight in his chest as he said that, but he was distracted from his concerns by the whistle that rose from his computer's tiny but powerful speakers.

“Wow, a relic. Modified but not upgraded? Poor thing. It can be hard to take care of yourself when you're an older model, and from what I hear, America doesn't really do a lot to support sapient machines...Okay, enough with the politics, I'm going to load up a VM running Maria 47.” That was a name Lee hadn't heard since middle school. It was an old form of OS specially modified for AI interaction. “That's a bit like a computer inside of a--”

“I know what a Virtual Machine is, Chise,” Lee said with a smile. “I worked on them in college...Thanks, by the way. I'm not sure I can match a corporate asking price but I'll pay you--” Lee found himself cut off by a dismissive wave in his direction.

“Don't worry about it, this one I'll chalk up as a personal project.” Chise smiled briefly before she grew more focused on the monitor in front of her. “Okay, gonna' send you an invite. Accept it, then connect the CCU 3000 to the program. I'll handle the rest.” Lee followed the instructions, seeing the old familiar OS' icons and logo appear on a small window. He had on occasion seen his father use it, though at the time he didn't know what it was for and for whatever reason, it had struck out from the haze of his memory. It wasn't too much longer before a cursor icon appeared and went down to a corner to access the 'connected device'.

Chise's fingers once again flew across the keys, her optics laser-focused on the unseen screen in front of her. “Oooookay, let me see what I'm looking at here...” Lee's focus went from the topless android to the window in front of him, showing a live stream of the virtual machine in operation. It was difficult to follow but fascinating, with Chise bringing up window after window in an effort to access different systems, finding her way through program back doors that were long known to programmers like herself, using them to subvert and disable layer upon layer of security program. He took a quick look at Renée's open head. Lights around and on the circuitry he could see were blinking, indicative of activity, but it seemed Chise was keeping overall activity at low levels, operating only base functions, which was standard for most software operations.

“Woah.” The remark caused Lee's head to turn back to the android on the other side of the world, who now stared at the screen with her 'eyes' wide. “I've got root access and admin permissions. I can sign them over to you but uh...you might want to wait on that, first.”

“Why,” Lee said, worry rising in his voice.

“Well,” Chise began. “It would seem like there's a lot of software damage. Some of it I think is from whatever happened to shut her off in the first place, but a lot of it is just degradation. Corrupted files and programs, a pretty significant memory leak, some other issues...No malware so far, thankfully, but it's looking like everything but her basic, core programming was starting to destabilize.”

“So...you're saying it can't be repaired?” The concern must have been noticeable now because Chise quickly turned her head to look over at the monitor Lee was looking through, then shook her head.

“Oh, no, the damage can be fixed. I mean, most of it can. She's gonna' have some pretty serious gaps in her memory here and there, but for the most part her personality programming and memory data look recoverable. It's just gonna' take a lot of work. To be honest, I'm surprised that she was still functioning.” Chise paused a moment, then tilted her head. “So...I gotta' ask, who was this android to you? I know you aren't one of those types who think we're just machines, from what I've heard from you anyway, but the way you reacted just now. She must have been close to you.”

“She's...It's difficult to explain,” Lee began. “And, no offense, it's why I called you rather than asking one of my co-workers...Listen, can I trust you to keep what I'm about to tell you to yourself? I know that I just called you out of the blue, and it feels like I barely know you, but I'm kind of desperate.”

Chise seemed to consider this for a moment or two, before shrugging. “Sure, why would I tell anyone?” Lee felt the urge to counter the question, as he considered the possibility of Chise using this information to blackmail him, but dismissed it as paranoia derived of mental and emotional fatigue.

“Okay, well...You see...She's...She's my...My mom. Kinda'. It's more accurate to say she's my stepmom. But she practically raised me.” Lee watched as Chise's eyebrow rose, and she pulled her fingers away from her keyboard and folding them on the desk in front of herself, giving Lee a reassuring smile.

“Oh, that's nothing to be ashamed of. I've known a few android moms in my time, and there's nothing wrong with being raised by an android, no matter what those idiot pundits say.” Lee was reassured by her gentle tone, and Chise continued. “Hell, one of my moms is an android, too. And as you can see, I developed into a healthy AI.”

“I...I don't think it's quite the same.” They shared a chuckle, before Lee spoke again. “And...I didn't even know that she was an android. I mean, I don't even know if she knew she was an android. Or that my father knew, or--”

“Hey, hey,” Chise briefly raised a hand. “Don't go down that rabbit hole. A potential sleeper, huh? Eh, wouldn't be my first one. Wouldn't be my first secret family surrogate either.” A wistful smirk came to her face. “Ah, a few years ago, my best friend...ah, that's something we can talk about later.” The ashen-haired android went back to her keyboard. “I'll look for any camouflage programming or anything similar while I'm checking through her systems. It's going to take me most of the day to get this done, though, so you may want to think about getting some rest.”

Lee briefly thought to question the statement about Renée not being the first 'family surrogate' she'd come across, but as a yawn overtook him, he acquiesced to Chise's suggestion. “Yeah...yeah, you're right. Just do me a favor?”

“Sure,” Chise said, almost dismissively, as she refocused on her work.

“Don't reactivate her higher functions unless I'm here. If you're not, I'll do it myself once you're done.” Lee briefly paused before stating “And thanks, by the way. I owe you, Chise.”

“I'll hold you to that the next time I need some free repairs,” Chise said with a smirk. “Go on, off to bed with you.”

Lee smiled and nodded, then ended the call. A check at the VM window showed that Chise was still working, and so Lee got up and turned away from the work table. As he did, his eyes fell on Renée's headless mechanical body. Taking a moment, he walked over to its side, briefly taking a glance over his shoulder at Renée's open head and the blinking circuitry within. It wasn't clear to him if it was curiosity, or something more that drove him to reach out and brush a finger against her soft, pink nipple, but soon he was trailing it down the circumference of her heavy breast, cupping it and giving the soft synthetic breast a squeeze of his fingers. Her skin was smooth, smoother than most humans' he had known, and firmer than the women he had known, at least those who weren't machines. It was a clarifying contrast. Renée seemed somehow different like this. Like inert machinery. Like...an object. No more the woman who raised him than the work station she lay upon. His eyes briefly turned down between her legs, taking in the detail of her bald, smooth sex, and his hand moved away, coming to rest on her inner thigh.

He closed his eyes and shook his head, pulling his hand away as he gave Renée a last longing glance before heading out of the basement, heading upstairs and shutting the door behind him. Remembering that he left his bed clothes downstairs, he sighed, shook his head, and merely shrugged off his jacket and slipped out of his shoes. He had arrived in the early evening, and by the time all the work was done, it was now well into the night time hours. Lee walked over to the couch, fell upon it, and the fatigue overwhelmed him like a tidal wave. He let out a pleasant sigh as he sank into the familiar comfort of the couch cushions and drifted off to sleep.


When Lee awoke the next morning, he was feeling stiff and sore. The couch, though soft, hadn't been kind to his body, but he was determined to get up and get working on Renée. A quick search of the kitchen confirmed his concerns about the food in the home, namely that there was none, and so he decided to order in. A few hours and one breakfast burrito and coffee later, he felt as good as he felt he was ever going to be, and after getting his shoes back on, headed back down to the basement.

Everything was as it was when he left it. Renée's body laying on the workstation, her head on the work bench nearby, still connected to the computer that had gone into a low power mode overnight. A quick check revealed that the VM had been closed, and that the edits were done. The only new thing was that a new email had been sent. He stretched a little before sitting down on the stool again, and checked the email first.

To: LeeColins71 From: RedWhiteUsagi

Subj – (none)

Hey, Lee. Got done with that robot you wanted me to fix. Managed to repair its software so it will function like new now, or nearly new. By the way, couldn't help but take a peek at its memories. You're just as cute as a kid as you are now.

Password: 56pt3n1r5q&bT1 (write it down somewhere secure)

P.S: Expect a delivery soon. Sounds like you could use the help.

Sincerely:

There was no name at the bottom. Instead, it was a character emoji of what looked like a rabbit made of Japanese characters running across an open field made of numbers. Closing the window, he briefly pondered on what that could have meant. What help did he need? Shaking his head, Lee went to work.

The very first task was to make sure Renée was functional. Bringing up the connected device menu, he was greeted with the same graphical user interface as before for Renée's systems, and after briefly opening up the email again, he brought up the password again. Sighing, hoping it worked, he entered it in, and with that, all the options were now unlocked. He could edit, adjust, and access whatever he wanted. But for the moment, he wanted to just see if Chise's edits had worked.

Hitting the reactivation key was one of the tensest moments of his life. As he sat back, waiting to see what would happen, Renée's exposed processors once again lit up with activity. Blinking rapidly, her optical sensors focused in and out as she dully stated “DomesTech 3000 Child Care Unit Is Now Online. Human Emulation Functions Offline. Attempting To Restore...Complete. System Data Corruption: Minimal. Error. Eighty-Five Percent Of Frame Functions Missing Or Offline. Initializing Human Emulation Mode And Personality Simulation.”

Renée's exposed optics whirred softly as they adjusted in and out, and the lights in her head became a flurry, before they calmed down, and she was quiet. But it wasn't long before her lips pursed, and she let out a long sigh, expressed only as a sound which came from the speakers of Lee's computer. “Oh, goodness...What happened to me?”

Lee let out a breath, his relief palpable, as he leaned against the workbench and his own keyboard. After a moment, he raised his head and looked back down at Renée. “Hey, mom. It's me, Lee. Can you see me?”

“Yes,” Renée stated. “Just outside the range of my vision, but yes. Judging from the fact that I can also see my body on the workbench over there, I suppose I don't really need to state what happened to me or what I am?” She gave Lee a soft smile, but frowned slightly when it wasn't returned. Lee got a bit closer to her.

“Did dad...Did he know you were a...an android when you first met?” Lee's question was met only with silence at first. But Renée did eventually respond.

“Yes. He purchased me, not long after your mother, his wife died. One of his last acts as an engineer was to modify my programming and frame to withstand long periods without proper maintenance. I was programmed to act as your mother, Lee. He...wanted to be sure someone would take care of you, properly, after he was gone.” She smiled softly again. “I'm still honored to have been accepted for that purpose.”

“So,” Lee said as he did a quick visual check of Renée's processors. “How is it that you were able to do that? I mean, raise me and all. There had to have been legal processes that he had to go through, or that you had to agree to.”

Renée smiled, a gentle smile but one that nevertheless seemed a bit forlorn. The pretty features of her lower face were completely contrasted by the metal and plastic just above, the featureless camera eyes showing no true expression. Rather than dislike it, there was something about it that Lee found appealing. More than that, really.

“This was before the age of emancipated AI's, sweetie,” she began. “I was the property of your father, first. After that, he assigned me as your legal guardian by having my ownership passed on to you in his final will. He...had no extended family, no one to claim you, none that he could trust in any event. So, without your knowledge, my ownership was transferred over to you.

“My programming was hard-locked, to prevent you from figuring out what I was,” she continued. “Both your father and myself believed that you would only properly develop if you believed I was human. Your father even undertook steps to make me seem more human-like, even programming within me a sense of forgetfulness. That, it turned out, proved to be a problem.”

“How so?” Lee said, focusing all his attention now on Renée's face, or what was there at least.

“My forgetfulness was tied to a specific program in my core processing systems. It would selectively erase memory data for only a few seconds or on a few subjects before it would restore itself. But the program also caused a calculation error in my logic processing. With every moment of forgetfulness, the problem grew, becoming more and more severe. The workstation would automatically repair me when I suffered serious malfunctions, but over time the problems became more the fault of hardware than software.

“My core function was to be your mother, to be a human for you, but this clashed with my self-preservation protocols, causing more issues. Eventually, after you left for college, I found myself unable to operate for long periods of time. The window of time grew shorter and shorter, every moment risking a critical programming malfunction. I held on, intent to protect your father's home—our home—until I completely crashed. But as I focused on the software issues, I ignored the hardware ones. Eventually...I suffered an electrical fault.”

“And that's when I found you,” Lee said with a smile.

“No,” Renée said. “This was months before you came back. My selfware systems had been damaged. I was malfunctioning constantly after this point. I barely had enough functionality to coherently answer emails, and found myself writing them over and over again.” She sighed. “My body simply wasn't made to operate for this long without repairs. I was going to head back down here, to use the work station again, when I suffered a second electrical fault.”

“You should have told someone,” Lee said, turning to the screen and shaking his head. “You could have suffered a total system failure.”

“I couldn't,” Renée stated with an almost taciturn tone that clashed with her normal personality. It caused Lee to take notice, turning his head towards the disconnected android head sharing the bench space with his computer. “I was programmed not to reveal my true nature. I worried that, even if the legal authorities were aware, it might affect you in other ways. Your education, your career. I could not permit that to happen...Or, at least, I thought I wasn't permitting it.”

“It's okay,” Lee said, interjecting as he reached out and stroked Renée's cheek. “I work in robotics, Renée, I should have known better than to just try and scold you for it.” He dropped his hand and smiled. “Besides which, that makes me the most qualified person to repair you, though you can thank a friend of mine in Japan for the software repairs.”

“Chise?” The sudden statement made Lee's back straighten, and before he could answer, Renée chuckled softly. “She left a text document for me to access in my memory, telling me all about my wonderful son and how he was working hard to put me back together, and that she apologized for the intrusion. She sounds like a lovely woman.”

Lee chuckled and shook his head. “Ah, well, that's one way to put it.” He then decided to switch tacks, his face growing serious. “I'm glad I have you functional again on the software level, but as far as hardware goes, it will take a while to get you functional again. It may be better if I just shut you down for the process.”

“Please, do whatever you feel is necessary,” Renée said with a smile. “You are, after all, my owner. You can do whatever you please with me.” She paused for a moment and chuckled. “Oh, God, sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound so--”

“No worries,” Lee said, standing and walking over to Renée's head. “I can leave you online if you prefer. I'll just close up your head first and put the top of your head's dermal plating back on completely, that way your processors are protected and you look a bit more human.”

“Thank you. I'd like to watch you work, actually. I've always wanted to see you plying your trade.” Renée smiled, and stayed still as her robotic cranium was closed up with a few soft whirs and whines, requiring only that Lee put pressure on the still-connected plating to close it completely. And with the top of her head and scalp, Lee only had to reverse the process that took it off, as it secured itself to her head with a soft hiss and a click. Stepping back, Lee gave Renée a warm smile and she returned it with a wink, indicating her face was functional again. After giving her a thumbs up, Lee then turned to Renée's inert body, before going back to his still open luggage.

Fishing from it the tools he used earlier, he arranged them in their case and then set them on a small tray a bit like a surgeon's tray that was built into the workstation under the manipulator arms. After that, Lee gathered up some other tools that he found from around the workroom. Everything had been left more or less untouched, though it seemed Renée had put the tools away in bins to keep their sensitive electronics and electrical parts protected.

“Those take me back,” Renée said with a soft smile. “Your father would tinker with me for hours, usually with my help, making sure I worked just right. He was so skilled with those tools, even with all that had happened after the accident.” Her smile widened a little. “I think your father would have been proud of you, Lee, to see the kind of person you've become.”

“Well,” he said as he turned on the monitor, watching it load its diagnostics and tool assistance programming, “he can only take part of the credit. You did a damn good job, the best, all things considered.” He then quietly thanked the monitor for working at all as the connected computer system fired up. It was an antiquated OS, but he could work with it, and there seemed to be little if any software degradation.

“Thank you.” Renée paused for a moment before speaking again, her eyes following Lee as he worked, though from her angle at the workbench, she couldn't really see much at first. Her eyes widened a little, however, when she saw one half of her chest plating, with its heavy breast attached, set aside further down the counter, giving her a brief glimpse of her damaged systems. “To think, my internals looked like that...”

“Don't feel too bad,” Lee said as he worked on the second chest plate, repeating what he did with the first, unfastening several latching points and disconnecting the hinge that normally allowed them to open like cabinet doors. Both chest plates removed, the interior of Renée's upper chest was exposed, revealing the primary power cell, auxiliary power systems, the cables and wires running to and from it, her upper servo motor primary signal processor and various other components all related to their functionality, as well as several processor hubs for tactile sensor data. “So many redundant systems. Hard to believe that this was what was needed back in the day to make an android like you function.”

“Yes,” Renée began “and no. DomesTech tended to favor design redundancy both to ensure our systems operated well in an emergency scenario, and to raise the cost of repairs and parts replacement. They cornered the market on android design in North America for some time.”

“Huh,” Lee said, the whine of an electrical drill audible as he began disconnecting the fastening points that held Renée's abdominal plating in place. “It's probably what kept you mostly functional for so long without in-depth repairs. Also, I would have figured you earlier androids were programmed to always sing the company's praises.”

“Oh, I was. But after your father purchased me, it was one of the first things he removed. He said...He said...He said...” Lee stopped as he heard the looped speech, and turned to Renée with a look of concern. She blinked rapidly several times. “Huh. I...can't seem to recall what it was he said exactly. Oh, no, that was one of the corrupted memories, wasn't it?”

Lee nodded somberly. “Yeah, probably. I imagine you'll probably have a few of those moments in the near future.” Lee smiled, then turned and went back to work, lifting the center of Renée's belly plating from her framework. She wasn't pudgy, but she wasn't quite as toned as most androids he had seen either, who tended to prefer that 'idealized' look of the washboard-flat abdomen. He set the plate next to the chest plating, just a little ways down from her head, where the rest of Renée's abdominal plating ended up once it was disconnected.

As Lee peered down into the tightly packed but damaged wiring that filled Renée's abdomen, along with the occasional sub-processor for her motor or tactile sensor functions and the auxiliary servo motor signal processor the android continued. “Anyway, I can safely tell you that it was one of the very first things he had removed from my programming, even if I can't remember what it was exactly he told me. Probably something about not standing for his new robot being a corporate sycophant.”

Lee kept his focus on his conversation and his work as he went down to Renée's wide, shapely hips, and began disconnecting the plating there as well. He saved the vaginal module for last, disconnecting it and slowly easing it out of the socket in her metal hips. Peering into them, he spied the powerful actuators connected to the base of her central support rod, akin to a human spine, that allowed her to bend and twist her waist. The majority of her space in her hips was taken up by her gyroscopic processor that allowed her to maintain and keep her balance, as well as managed her running gait, speed and a whole host of other motor function-related tasks. Her lower servo motor processor was nestled in to the right of it, directly connected to it, and just in front of it was her pleasure sensor processor, nearly as sophisticated as her basic processors in her head. Unsurprisingly, the last of those was the most intact.

“Sounds like dad,” he said with a wistful smile. “Though, I am surprised he addressed you as a robot.”

“He was the only one who could,” Renée said, directing her eyes downward. “I never understood why he programmed me to insist I was human, even when I knew I wasn't. At times, it was maddening. I loved you, and I wanted you to live like a normal human, but there were times, especially when you were older, that I just wanted to pull my chest plating open and show you my inner workings. I--” Renée stopped when she saw that Lee had stopped what he was doing and turned to look at her, an expression of surprise on his face as Renée let out a gasp and blushed. “I...Didn't mean to make it sound...”

“No,” Lee said, setting his tools down and turning to face her. “It's okay. You probably don't even see me as a son, do you? I mean, not really, not like a human would.” Rather than sounding hurt, or upset, Lee was more curious.

“That's...a blunt way of putting it, but...yes. The programming which restricted me from insisting to you I was a human was erased by Chise, partly I suspect as a necessity in order to sign over admin control to you, but partly because I suspect that she disliked the notion. I no longer see you as the person I am to address as my son, but as my owner. I'm sure you know that affects my behavioral functions and personality programming, too. It...Lifts some restrictions and...I. I shouldn't say anything more.”

Lee paused a moment longer, then walked over to where Renée was situated. A powerful urge overtook him, pushed sense and what he knew aside. To Renée's surprise, she was taken by her cheeks and lifted up from the workbench. Carefully, but she wasn't expecting it. A thumb went to her cheek, as a half-dozen wires and cables dangled beneath her head, running back to the computer her 'son' had hooked her into.

“I don't know,” Lee said as he continued to stroke her cheek. “I felt the same way. I didn't want to admit it, at first. I feel as though it's in some way wrong to see you as anything but the woman who raised me. As a stepmother. But...Thinking back to when I found you, standing there, offline and shorted out...At first I was worried for you as a human. But now, I realize, you're a machine. A robot, one that I now own. And that puts some things that I've experienced in my life in a different perspective.”

“What do you--” Renée found her words cut off by a somewhat hesitant kiss, Lee pressing his lips to her soft, synthetic counterparts, as Lee listened to Renée's mechanisms at work. Her eyes shut, her lips parted slightly, her tongue slipping out as he found his own doing the same. Like his body was on autopilot, he just gave in to desire he wasn't even aware he could feel, a rekindled fantasy from a long-forgotten memory. All alone, with a half disassembled robot he'd known for half of his life up to this point as his stepmother, kissing her with a passion that grew with intensity.

Lee stopped, breaking the kiss off reluctantly, and said softly, “I'm going to disassemble you, down to your wiring. I'm going to fix what's broken in you, get you up and working again, and then I'll...” He trailed off. Thinking it, even acting on it was one thing. But saying what he wanted to do? He couldn't manage it. He kissed Renée again with passion in his lips, but quicker, before stating “I'll figure it out when I get there.”

“Good idea,” Renée said with a chuckle. “I'll wait until you're finished then...Master~”

Lee chuckled. “Heh. It'll take a while for me to get used to that, but I like it already...”

With that, Lee set Renée's head down, and turned back to her body. Walking back to it, he peered inside the now mostly opened framework, and could see he had a lot of work ahead of him. “I'm going to have to replace most, maybe all of your internal electronics, and your frame has some signs of wear and tear.”

“I have every confidence in you,” Renée said with a smile. “If anyone could do it, it would be you.”


A week on, and Lee stared at the collection of parts in front of him on the work table. They were the over thirty small parts that were required to operate Renée's left knee servo mechanism. His eyes roamed over the collection of metal parts with a look of frustration, tapping his finger against the workbench top. After a few minutes, he picked up a small part. “Okay, I think I can get this to fit if I crimp the edge a little. It shouldn't result in reduced performance, at least not to a noticeable degree.”

Lee turned his head over to look at Renée, who was now propped up a foot or so off the table on a specially fashioned stand. Half of her robotic 'spine' was reassembled, whirring and buzzing on occasion as it flexed a bit like a tail, in response to some errant movement from the reassembled neck mechanisms her head was now affixed to. Cables now ran up underneath her head to a dedicated power pack, though the computer he brought with him was still connected to her systems. No synthetic dermis meant that the wiring and internal parts were all exposed, creating a chorus of clicks and whirs whenever Renée turned her head, as she did to look over at Lee to meet his gaze with a smile.

“It's alright, sweetie, I'm sure it will be fine. If you want, you can shut me off, I'm sure it'd be easier to work on me without my commentary running throughout.”

Lee shook his head and looked back at the components, working on reassembling them. “That's not the problem, if anything it's keeping me from going crazy.” He dropped his hand against the table, letting out a sigh. “I swear, half of these parts look totally identical to older ones, the fittings are different from the pictures, and I think half of the sellers I sourced from have the wrong parts listed. There's parts available for common trouble components, but I don't think anyone really anticipated that someone would want to rebuild a CCU 3000 from scratch.”

Renée sighed. “You poor thing. I can continue checking part listings if you want, that way I can--” But she was quickly cut off by Lee's dismissively waving hand.

“Even that wouldn't be an issue, but the fact is, I can't stay here much longer. I'm supposed to be back to work in four days, and the flight from here to Junkoushima takes at least a day and a half if I take a flight with the minimum of stopovers.” He looked over at Renée with a forlorn look. “I'm sorry, but even with all the repairs I've done, I'd still need at least three more weeks to work on you, and even then, that's a best-case scenario.”

Renée frowned. “I'm beginning to see the problem. Perhaps you can leave me down here like this? I can wait, don't worry. Time flies when you're offline, as I like to say.” Her smile returned, but Lee just shook his head again.

“No, if I did that, I'd be leaving you here alone for months, maybe years. Someone would notice you were gone eventually, and check up on you, and then find you disassembled down here and...well, who knows what might happen after that?”

Renée sighed. “Oh, you poor thing, this really does have you all upset. Well, perhaps there's another solution? Maybe I can be uploaded to a new body?”

“Too risky,” Lee stated. “And I don't have the money for that now, anyway. I'd have to make sure your software could be compatible and run smoothly on the new hardware. Even if I made a data backup of you, there's no way to tell how much of you would carry over. And finding a replacement CCU 3000 processor set up is going to be even more of a pain in the--” Lee paused as he heard a faint tone from upstairs. A ringing, an electronic chime that wasn't the phone in his pants pocket. He attempted to recall what that was, when Renée interjected with a smile.

“That's the doorbell, sweetie. I had a new one installed while you were at college. Maybe it's one of the parts delivery people?” Renée gave Lee a warm smile. “Go on, go check. I'll wait for you to get back.”

“Well, just in case, I should probably shut you down for now. You're basically mounted to a crimped and filed-down collection of parts, so I want to be here just in case something goes wrong.” Lee stood up and walked over to Renée, giving her a quick smile as he pressed her power toggle switch. She looked ready to respond when the color in her eyes winked out and with a soft whir and a plastic click, her eyes shut and her head lowered slightly.

Giving Renée a quick smile, Lee stood and went upstairs, his smile fading as he rubbed his face quickly with his hands before ascending the steps. The full weight of the tedium of the project hit him suddenly, and while it wasn't quite a wall, it felt a bit stronger than a slap on the face. He felt a pain in the back of his neck that he started rubbing at with one hand when he reached out and opened the door with the other. He squinted a little at the harsh light of day coming through the door, and lowered both hands to his side, only for his eyes to widen when they adjusted to the light.

Standing before him was a woman, dressed in a thick but fashionable black coat, her waist and legs covered in black faux leather pants and her feet in matching high-heeled boots. It took him a few seconds to piece together that the woman standing before him, with her bleached bob haircut and her artificial red eyes was Yamata Chise, whose eyebrow quickly rose as her hands went to her hips.

“Wow, dude, you look like you haven't slept since we last talked.” Chise then gestured with one hand towards the open door Lee stood behind. With a tired, stunned blink, he automatically stepped aside to let her in, his brain on autopilot from the mental fatigue. But as she passed, he began to speak.

“What are you doing here? How—when did you even get here?” Lee closed the door behind them and flicked a switch near the door, turning on a light that lit up the entrance way and partly lit most of the hall, the open living room and the basement stairway. Chise took a look around the place before turning to look at Lee.

“Oh, I just got here about an hour ago. Colorado, I mean. Nice place, actually. Not as cold as I was expecting, either.” She said this as she took her coat off and folded it under an arm. Underneath, she wore a tight red sleeveless halter top, with an open back that allowed Lee to get a good look at her bare back, the outlines of dorsal panels made quite visible.

“And you didn't think to call me ahead of time? Let me know you're coming? I mean, I'm glad you're here, I could use some help and...well, I guess company, but I am kind of confused as to why you just show up out of the blue.” Lee walked over and extended a hand. “I'll take your coat, if you want.”

“Thanks,” Chise said with a smile, before handing over the coat. Lee then gently set it down on an empty, unused seat, before looking back at Chise. “As for why I'm here, well, I've learned some pretty interesting facts about DomesTech, CCU 3000's and...” She flashed Lee a smirk as she sat down on the couch to take off her boots. “Myself.”

“Yourself?” Lee closed and locked the front door, head cocked slightly to one side as his arms crossed under his chest. “You aren't about to tell me you're a long lost sister or something like that.”

Chise suddenly laughed and shook her head. “Oh, God, no, that would be weird.” As her laughter died down, she placed her hands on her pleather-clad knees, the smirk returning to her lips. “But me and Renée are distantly related. In a way, at least.”

“Distantly rela--” Lee cut himself off with a slight groan as a hand went up to his face, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You're gonna' have to cut down on the theatrics, I've just got done with reassembling Renée's neck servos out of two dozen mismatched parts I had to shape down to fit.”

Chise nodded, her smirk softening somewhat. “Well, funny enough, that's actually what this is all about. I did some digging, and found out that DomesTech was once its own company, but got bought out a while back by an American corporation, Dayton Heuristic Solutions? Dayton is a subsidiary company of the Japanese tech company Yosuke Heavy Industries. They own the patents and copyright for all of DomesTech's old product lineup, including the CCU 3000 series, and in turn, so does Yosuke.” Chise raised a finger, and bounced it back and forth as she spoke about the relationship between the corporations. Lee, following the finger, furrowed his brow.

“So, what does this mean? You're saying that I contact Yosuke or Dayton for spare parts? You could have told me that over voice chat.”

“Sure, you probably could. But, see, the thing is, before they acquired DomesTech, they didn't really have the robotics tech to make sapient humanoid robots. Getting all of their tech patents and design copyrights let them do that. Yosuke then goes on to make their own line of androids based off of the tech including the YK-6740 Home-care/Companion Simulant.” Chise's smirk then widened. “I'm a YK-6740.”

“So what do you mean by...You mean to say that your model's components might be compatible with Renée's software, right?” Lee smiled for a moment, but then the smile faded. “But, that doesn't really do me much good. I'd need to order a bunch of spare parts, and they wouldn't get here on time. And even if I--”

“Lee,” Chise rose up from her seat on the couch, walking the short distance over to where Lee stood, smiling as she looked him in the eye. “You've got a whole functioning YT-6740 right here. All the parts you need. And kept in great condition, I might add.” Chise's expression was playful as she watched Lee mentally put everything together. But the human shook his head.

“That's...generous, but I couldn't possibly inconvenience you like that.” Chise, like all legally registered androids, had data back ups and spare bodies as part of a government mandate for such eventualities. But Lee knew that unless Chise had the top level backup options, she could be waiting for weeks to get restored to a new physical body, stored as data in some backup server. But Chise's response was to dismissively shake her head.

“It's no big deal, really. I've got top-level care options. My parents are loaded, one of them is the head of a Yosuke R&D division. I've got the hookup, no worries.” And with that, Chise suddenly reached down and pulled off her halter top, throwing it aside to join her jacket on the chair and revealing that she wore no bra underneath. Lee's eyes went wide, and while he didn't dissuade her, he did attempt to avert his eyes from her bare chest.

“Uh, well...In that case, we should probably head down to the basement.” Pausing as he watched Chise continue to strip, pushing her tight pants down her hips and thighs, revealing a further lack of undergarments, and the pants soon joined the rest of the clothes. Chise's pale body, with the faint seam and panel lines all throughout, was totally exposed. Lee cleared his throat when she was done. “Um. Thank you. Seriously, for all your help. I owe you.”

Chise shook her head. “It's no big deal. Plus, I get to help a fellow android who's down on her luck, that's enough of a bonus for me.” She chuckled as she added “just be sure to ship my clothes back to me. I'll text you an address when I get restored. That's my favorite outfit and they stopped making that halter top a few months ago.” Chise then stepped past Lee, before stopping at the foot of the stairway down to the basement. Turning to look at Lee, she gestured with a finger towards the basement door. “Down here?”

Lee nodded, and walked over to Chise, then past her and down the steps. Opening the door, he stepped through, and Chise followed. It didn't take long for the two of them to reach the work station, where Chise audibly scoffed.

“Wow, this is some serious hardware for back in the day. Your dad must have been quite the expert in robotics, huh?” She walked over to the currently unoccupied workstation, brushing her hand along its armrest, before turning to look at Lee as he walked over. “Shame this is all so outdated, otherwise I'd love a set-up like this.”

Lee smirked as he walked to where Renée's head was mounted and started gathering his tools. “I didn't know androids had a sense of nostalgia, at least outside of personal experience.” Taking a few of the tools he'd used to disassemble Renée, he set them near the workstation on the small cart. Chise, meanwhile, walked over to Renée's deactivated head.

“I like to think I was programmed with an appreciation of classical robotics repair tools.” She chuckled as she leaned down, getting a detailed look. “Wow, she's cute. Very warm and caring face, even when she's powered off. Guess this is what most humans think of when they think of an ideal parent, eh?”

Lee looked up from arranging his work tools, looking over to Chise. “Your mom isn't like that?”

“Moms,” Chise corrected with a smile. “And I guess not really. One's a human, her name is Eriko, the one working for Yosuke. She's thin, got a few wrinkles, likes her ponytails. My other mom, Azusa is a pleasure model android working as a fashion model for fetish clothes. Skin tight bodysuits and stuff.” She looked over her shoulder at Lee, whom she noticed did seem to be paying quite a lot of attention to the shape of her rear. “They met at a company party when Eriko repaired a fault in Azusa's arm. It's quite cute, actually.” Chise stood up again and turned, looking over at Lee as she heard him approach.

“Okay,” Lee began. “Just show me where your power toggle is, and after that I can disassemble you.” Lee expected to be shown where said toggle was, but Chise instead shook her head.

“Nope.” The rejection was a surprise to Lee. “One quirk I forgot to mention. If I'm just disassembled, you'd have to get in contact with my repair company and they'd probably ask what happened. Technically, this sort of thing is illegal, since it's sort of a free parts exploit. Companies don't want to get undercut by clients taking themselves apart or getting taken apart for free spare parts, y'know? So,” Chise reached behind her head as she spoke, fiddling with something unseen on the back of her cranium. “I need to experience a central processor fault.”

“Wait, you want me to...” Lee trailed off as he tried to find the words. “What, break your processors?”

“Yeeep,” Chise said with a smile. “You gotta'--” A soft click cut off her words, her expression blanking out as the back of her head opened outwards, similar to the way that Renée's had. “Central Processor Access Panel Open,” Chise said, devoid of her colorful personality. “Caution: Do Not Access Central Processor If Untrained In Central Processor Repair. Risk Of Damage Is High.” Chise blinked twice, and then sighed. “Sorry. Anyway, yeah, you gotta' bust my central processors. That way, it gets logged as an accident, no questions asked.”

Lee sighed and shook his head. “Next time you ask me to do something illegal, give me a head's up first, okay?” Chise chuckled, and when she noticed his somewhat confused expression, she elaborated.

“Head's up? You totally did that by accident, didn't you?” Chise grinned, then as Lee shook his head, walked over to the work station. Rather than lay on her back, Chise straddled the chair, leaning forward to press her breasts against the cushioned backrest and keeping her head forward, chin resting near the top of the chair. As Lee walked over to where she sat, he peered inside of Chise's head.

Much like other androids, Chise's processors were separated into different components, each one responsible for different systems, rising up from their tightly-packed positions in Chise's head. Unlike Renée's processors though, Chise's core processors consisted of two plastic blocks and less of the wafer-thin crystalline circuit boards. The memory drives were still relatively similar. Outwardly it hadn't advanced much, but Lee knew that an android of Chise's generation could hold much more memory than a CCU 3000, and even had secondary functions like storing other forms of data as a kind of data vault for their owners. It was a practice that was rarely done, but it spoke volumes of the changes in memory storage in only a few decades.

“Alright, Lee, whenever you're ready.” Chise let out a huff, a pink tint appearing on her cheeks as Lee put on a pair of shock-resistant gloves and, feeling some hesitation, reached in slowly. “You know, I have to say, if you told me that today I'd be having my processors ripped out, I'd have thought-thought-thought-thought-thought--”

Lee looked down briefly at the circuit board that contained part of Chise's AI data, the wire leads to her head and attached systems now sparked briefly before fizzling out. Lee tossed the board aside, aiming towards the work bench as he found himself suddenly invigorated. Lee was so used to repairing androids, so drilled into it by the tenants and teachings of his chosen profession that he had never considered what it would be like to damage one. And as he ripped out a second board, listening to Chise's words blend into a mindless babble, he found that the excitement he was feeling was more than just from some inscrutable thrill. Instead, he found himself growing aroused from this, his member stiffening in his pants as he ripped out a third board, giving Chise barely enough time to react with electronic gibberish.

“T-Told-told-told me-me-me-me-aaahhhhnnnnhh—my pro-proce-my pro-proce-ce—illegal-illegal y-you know-know-know-know-know-know--” Chise's optical sensors were immobile in her head, set up in such a way that they saw everything in a wide-angle picture display. But they nevertheless focused in and out at random as her HUD became a blurred mess, her higher awareness shattering like glass from each board pried free, cerulean sparks snapping from frayed neural network wiring.

Finally, the last board was pried free, the attempts at a neat pile now resulting in the android's processor components getting scattered about nearly at random. He briefly considered dropping his pants and fucking her while she did it, but Lee managed to keep that level of control. His gloved hands now fell on the memory drive, which was firmly placed in Chise's metal cranium.

“Er-Errrroorrr Thi-This-This YK-67-Four-For-For-Forty-ty Has Experienced A Crit-Critical System Fault-Fault Please--” With a bit of effort, and a creak of light alloys, Lee yanked the memory drives out of Chise's head. And to his surprise, a number of components came with it, including the optical processing system just ahead of it. A camera-like component dangled loosely from it, connected by a bundle of thin wires leading back to it, and Lee at once realized that he had pulled out one of Chise's optics along with all the other components, clinking and clattering together as Lee thoughtlessly threw the now useless machinery aside.

“Seeeeuuurrrrrrviiiiiiiicceeeeeee--” Chise's voice sputtered out into an electronic crackle as blue smoke rose from her core processor systems. Lee reached in, grasped the hot component quickly, and gave it a firm yank to rip it completely free. From there, he stepped back, then rolled Chise over onto her back, where he saw the undeniable expression of pleasure on her frozen face. Her nipples were still stiff with arousal, and between her spread legs, Lee could see the android's folds were moist. It was good to know that the feeling was mutual, even if she was malfunctioning the entire time.

Picking up his tools, Lee got to work. First, disconnecting Chise's head, it was placed aside as it wasn't useful for his purposes. Next, he got to work removing her dermal plating. Torso first, then extremities, each section of her tightly-fitted dermal cover plates were removed. Eventually, Chise's well-kept endoskeleton was revealed to him, along with her internal components. Though he trusted Chise at this point, he was surprised to see that she was correct for the most part. Her components were quite similar to Renée's, with only a few looking entirely different and only a few additions made. Seems most of the innovation was in her processor systems, quite the high praise for DomesTech's engineering capabilities that so much of it had been left virtually unmodified.

Lee started the disassembly by removing the many lengths of wiring and cabling that snaked through Chise's framework. Disconnecting wire bundles here and there led to him removing their attached components, mostly sub-processors for Chise's motor functions and sensor networks. Then, when that was done, he extracted her power core. It took a few hours, but the tantalizing prospect of almost meeting his goals, combined with this newfound contextual arousal of not only disassembling an android for spare parts, one that he had conversed with just a few hours prior, but knowing that these components would be used to rebuild a woman he had an entirely new view of was enough to spur him on even in the face of sleep. And yet, despite the lingering fatigue, the heavy sensation behind his eyes that caused them to flutter, Lee continued taking Chise apart until, finally, he had removed the flexible metal 'spine' that contained packed neural network wiring. All of it would be needed.

What parts he didn't need—the dermal plating, the basic components of Chise's endoskeleton, her head—were deposited into a box that had, a few days prior, been shipped to him containing mismatched parts for a CCU 3000. Now, he kept them in storage as spare parts, should the need arise.

But when he finished, and Chise was reduced to little more than a pile of bundled wiring, semi-concealed subprocessor circuitry and power components, Lee felt the weight of his fatigue crash down on him. With a yawn, he rose from his seat next to the workstation and made his way upstairs, for yet another night on the couch. He was growing rather used to sleeping on it.


Renée Colins reactivated, and as her awareness returned to her, she felt something she hadn't felt in a long time. Even though she hadn't moved an inch yet, there was the feeling, tied to feedback data from self-diagnostics and scans initiated before her boot-up sequence, that her limbs had returned to her. Not only that, but the whole of her body was reporting levels of functionality that exceeded her baseline system performance ratings. Was this some sort of error?

As her vision began returning to her, icons in her HUD appearing first, followed by status readouts reaffirming what she already knew, Renée's vision returned to her in full. And standing above her, in the light of the work station's overhead lamps, she saw the smiling face of her so—no, master and owner. She returned the smile, and watched as his hands holding tools slipped down towards her chest which, as Renée's eyes followed his hands downwards, she could see was open. Sparks started to snap from some component she could not see, and she could hear with fresh fidelity the crackle of electricity. Also, she could hear the sound of Lee's voice as he idly explained the situation to her.

“There,” he said with a smile. “The finishing touches to your new power core.” The pleasurable sensations continued, as Lee unhesitatingly placed his hands on her breasts and pressed into them to shut her chest paneling, pulling away all tools and looking Renée in the eyes. “That should be everything. What's your system diagnostic have to say?”

Renée's eyes flashed once in electronic light as the self-diagnostic began, dutifully following her owner's orders. Turning her head with a robotic, stiff movement to the left, Renée spoke in an emotionless tone, staring without a sapient thought towards a corner of the room. “System Readout Indicates All Systems Are Green. System Readouts Also Indicate That Current System Functionality Exceeds Baseline Standards. This Is Likely Due To Unregistered Modifications Or Upgrades That May Impact Your DomesTech Product Warranty. Motor Functions, Temperature Management Functions, Power Systems, Sensor Packages And All Artificial Intelligence Systems Are Operating At...An Overall Efficiency Of 198%.” When it was over Renée blinked once, then smiled as she turned her head back to look at Lee. “I guess I won't have to worry about system upgrades for the near future, will I?”

Lee, feeling suddenly overwhelmed, stood up and quickly wrapped his arms around Renée's body, pushing his face into her shoulder and letting out a happy sigh. “Oh, it's so good to have you back. I didn't say anything, but I got worried at a few points.”

“Awww, honey, it's okay. I'm here, I'm functional, and I'm not going anywhere soon. You saw to that, Lee. Your father would be proud of you. He'd be so thrilled to know that he helped raise such a skilled engineer.” Renée's words caused Lee's head to rise from the warm synthetic skin of her shoulder, and both shared a smile. Lee stood back, and took another glance down at Renée's body, before extending a hand to her. With unerring smoothness of motion, she reached out and placed her palm in his, rising up from the workbench and standing without issue on her own two feet. She then took a moment to look up at the roboticist, who stood tall over her own five feet and three inches.

“So, now that you have me working again, I take it you're going to be heading out soon?” The android's smile that soon followed was genuine, as Lee took a step closer to her. “Head back to Japan, continue to do the amazing work you do for...What was it? Yamasaki?” She chuckled shortly, but the sight of Lee's expression made her take pause. He was looking down at her with a different kind of warmth in his eyes, a different sort of smile. Lee's face was that of a lover, not a son.

“Renée, “ Lee began, reaching out and placing his hands at the top curve of the android's wide, shapely hips. “Did you mean that, what you said when we kissed?” His thumbs pressed and rubbed into the smooth, naked synthetic skin. “That you see me in a different way, now?”

Renée at first didn't answer, and Lee briefly wondered if some small change had occurred in her programming that caused her to feel differently about that day. But then, wordlessly, she answered. She brought her arms up around Lee's shoulders, draping them around his neck as her body rose up, pressing her breasts into his chest as Lee instinctively tightened his grip on the plush synthetic skin. Renée's lips met Lee's, and quickly, the kiss deepened. Lee leaned into Renée, who leaned back into the work station, a hand falling from Lee's shoulders to take hold of the firm but smooth padding of the work station behind her. Their tongues met in their mouths, tips flicking about, touching the roofs of their mouths only to meet again in a sensual, sinuous dance.

Lee pushed on Renée's hips, causing her to move as he did, a side step away from the workbench and towards the stairway to the basement. His coat left upstairs, both Lee and Renée took breaks between kisses to work off a button from the white button-up shirt Lee still had tucked into his slate-gray trousers. They maneuvered carefully, stopping and starting to kiss and unbutton or uncuff the shirt, before finally, at the foot of the stairs, Lee's shirt was discarded. Two steps up, and the undershirt covering his lightly muscled body was pulled up and over his head, his hands briefly hitting the wall behind him. As Lee's arms fell again, the topless roboticist reached out and firmly cupped Renée's breasts, before giving the heavy sensor-packed mounds a firm grope. He did this twice as they ascended up the landing. Renée stumbled, Lee caught her, but the event went unremarked and they soon reached the landing.

As they went up the adjoining staircase, Lee found himself pressed against the wall by the shorter android, who gave him a deep kiss before pulling her head away from his lips, staring at him with deep blue eyes, before reaching down and unbuckling his pants. The taboo nature of it all, the revelation of her true nature, it was all making Lee slip into a lusty haze, drunk with pleasure, so that he could only stare and watch as Renée, unimpeded and uninterrupted, quickly loosed Lee's belt. Thrown away, the belt buckle clattering near the front door, his pants came down around his legs, bunched at his ankles, and were soon joined by his boxer briefs. His erection made Renée's optics whir as they widened, and she placed a hand on Lee's hips as she bent down to her knees, and began to pleasure him right there and then with his mouth.

It felt incredible. Renée's tongue gave the same attention to his shaft as it did his mouth, flicking and curling around and against his now rock-hard member, Lee nearly autonomously bucking his hips against her face, driving the shaft deep into Renée's mouth and throat. His hand went to the top of her brunette head, sliding through the strands, before he placed pressure on it and pulled her head back. Renée briefly wondered for the second or two of inactivity if Lee had been displeased, but soon found herself being pulled up to her feet by the taller human, who looked her briefly in the eyes before kneeling down himself.

Lee pushed his fingers between Renée's folds, spreading them as he leaned in and danced his tongue over her pink inner walls for a few moments, only to pull back the hood of her clit and begin sucking, teasing and licking at the sensitive plastic nub. She moaned, arching her back and thrusting her heavy chest out, eyes fluttering as her hands pressed against the wall. Lee rolled his shoulders as his tongue pleased the android, before eventually, his head rose, followed by his body, and the ascent resumed.

They had made it up to the second-to-last step when Lee gave in to an overwhelming urge he had been feeling since he first began to head upstairs. Turning Renée to face him, he slid his arms up, past the swells of her breasts and up under her arms, and pressed into three specific spots under each arm. Having reassembled the android, he knew how to take her apart. Renée gasped softly as her arms went limp at her sides, the locks that held them in place and kept the servo mechanisms aligned was now disconnected completely. Lee had disconnected the arms as they were designed to be, but nevertheless, added an aggressive tug as each arm was pulled free, causing Renée to jump slightly and gasp pleasurably. Her left arm was still rolling down the stairs when Lee, feeling the same raw lust he had when he had pulled out Chise's processors, shoved Renée back.

With a thump, Renée landed on her back, breasts bouncing as Lee fell on her. She cried out in pleasure as he swiftly aligned his hardened member against the wet lips of her sex and gave a powerful thrust. Servo motors whirring, Renée moaned loudly again, calling out Lee's name as he gripped the very base of her shoulders that remained and began thrusting. With each powerful movement, Renée was pushed across the landing. Only by an inch or two, but enough that they were moving towards the door to the upstairs bedroom. But Lee was too taken to do anything in that bed. They would make love on the floor. It's what he wanted, what he wanted with Renée. That and a million other things he knew he couldn't act on all at once.

Renée's stared up at Lee, their expressions taken by lust, as their warm skin met time and again, the contrasting hard metals and wire bundles that jut from the empty shoulder sockets of her arms clicking and whirring openly, in defiance of years of hard-coded programming that enforced the lie that she was anything other than a machine. Both moaning, both crying out in pleasure, Lee felt his climax coming, but even as he pushed harder into Renée, deeper into her tight, wet artificial womanhood, he withdrew suddenly from her hot body, and suddenly rolled Renée onto her front.

She was barely able to question what had happened, her systems perfectly simulating the deep arousal of a human woman by having the question be delivered as a confused-sounding gasp, when she felt her legs spread and Lee entering her once again, sliding between her wet lips from behind and thrusting harder, faster than before. Feeling his body shudder, his mind cloud, he reached out and driven by raw desire, pried open a service panel on Renée's back. The android became immediately cognizant of what was happening, but as she looked over her shoulder, she gave a smile of approval under half-lidded eyes and flushed red cheeks.

Without hesitating, Lee reached down and grabbed a black power cable running up along the simulated 'spine' that was now exposed thanks to the missing synthskin panel, and gave it a hard yank. The wire, rather than tear or break, merely disconnected, but even this was enough to produce a sharp pop and a snap of electricity.

Renée's cry of orgasmic pleasure looped wildly and electronically at its height, the final thing to push Lee over the edge as he exploded inside of her, cumming hard into Renée's mechanical sex as he felt all of a tense week's strain flow out of him in a figurative way, a mental release to match the physical. His back arched, he let out long, heavy gasps of breath, a light coating of sweat on his lean form, as he lowered himself against the back of his still-malfunctioning lover, her orgasmic cries looping at their height repeatedly and without end. As casually as one shut down any other appliance, Lee reached for the hidden power toggle in Renée's neck, pressed and held. The moan trailed off as the android shut down.

What would have been severe damage to her earlier frame was now just a minor inconvenience. He plugged it back in, but in a sense, preferred having Renée as an inert machine again, just this once.


Two Weeks Later...

Lee Collins stepped off of the train platform at Junkoushima Central Line on his way back from work at the city's central business district, where Yamaguchi Robotics Corporation's headquarters resided. It was an unseasonably warm day, despite the fall rain, and he made sure to pop open his umbrella before leaving the station.

The walk home was interrupted only by the occasional stop at a crosswalk, joining a throng of umbrellas and raincoats that rivaled the foot traffic of the other great Japanese cities. Humans and androids alike coming home as the darkened sky grew darker still in the fading sunlight of the late afternoon. He briefly stopped near a bus stop to check his phone, feeling it vibrate from an earlier message.

From: RedWhiteUsagi

Last night was fantastic! Haven't had this much fun with a human in 4ever. Msg me when you got a sec so we can plan another night of mischief. ~ . ^

He smiled, pocketed the phone, and walked the short distance away back home to his apartment. Up the elevator to the eleventh floor, he walked down softly lit hallway to his familiar door, unlocked it, and stepped inside.

Immediately, he was greeted by a delicious smell. Shutting and locking the door behind him, taking a moment only to check the plastic bag he held in his other hand, he took his shoes off and stepped into the kitchen, setting the plastic bag down on the counter. As he did, he watched with a smile as a curvaceous woman in a purple camisole, blue skirt and white shirt turned to face him, who then returned a warm and gentle smile.

“Welcome home, honey,” Renée said with a bright smile. Lee walked over and gave her a quick hug, before looking at all the new kitchen equipment that was working to make a meal.

“You got half of your new appliances out, Renée. Any guests coming over I ought to know about?” Lee playfully smiled as they broke the hug, and Renée shook her head, maintaining her smile.

“Just checking on my comparability with the new kitchen equipment. I've still got a bunch of money left over from the home sale, I admit it's a bit overwhelming. Androids like me were never really programmed or taught how to manage money effectively, but I like to think I'm keeping my budget reasonable.” Noticing the bag, Renée tilted her head. “I see I'm not the only one doing some shopping. What is that?”

His smile widening, Lee reached into the bag and pulled out a box. Proudly featuring the Yosuke Heavy Industries logo and smiling construction worker mascot, Renée knew what it was almost before Lee said it. “Took me a bit of searching, but I managed to find a processor assembly for a Yosuke YK-5460 android new and in package down at a Super Potato near Chise's house. We should have you up to near-modern spec and your AI fully compatible with new AI backup and restoration tech. No more expensive specialty backup plans.”

Renée gasped with delight and gave Lee another hug. “Oh, you're wonderful, Lee.” She then followed it up with a kiss, one which unexpectedly for either of them, began to deepen. Just as Renée began to loop her arms around Lee's arms, a sharp beep interrupted them. “Oh, dammit, that's probably the bread.” Renée turned and headed for a dough mixer as Lee chuckled and shook his head.

“Renée,” Lee said with mock surprise. “Did you just swear?” She returned the playful accusation with a soft chuckle and shook her head.

“Must have been picking up some habits from those office ladies I hang out with down the hall. Reiko was just telling me the other day that...”

And as Renée began to tell his story, Lee walked to the living room and sat down at the dinner table. It wasn't quite the way he had envisioned living, and it certainly wasn't the typical kind of relationship. But as Lee listened to his surrogate mother turned android lover happily go on about her day, functioning in a testament to the skills his father inspired him to learn, he was sure he wouldn't have it any other way.


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