House Call (D.Olivaw)

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Lyssa walked out of the side room wearing nothing but a pair of high-heeled sandals. She sashayed over to the couch, the centerpiece of an otherwise Spartan living room, and made a sour face at the female form sprawled across it.

“You know,” she told Heather’s inert and equally naked body, “this is just what I get for picking an inexperienced playmate.”

Heather’s eyes continued to stare blankly in wildly different directions, just as they had for the last nine hours, and her face was still locked in lopsided, lip-curled grimace. One of her hands was splayed out to the side while the other was inside her open chest panel, still clenched around a fistful of wires and cables she’d torn free in a fit of ecstasy. The hand and the edge of the access bay were marked with soot and smoke-stains from the fireworks that had resulted. Many of the electronic components visible inside her were bulged or burnt, victims to the chaos she’d inflicted on her systems with that fateful tug.

Lyssa sighed and tossed her mane of bright red hair, then stared intently at an empty spot on the far wall. John picked up after only a few rings.

“Hi, this is John. Who’s calling?”

While to someone standing in the living room Lyssa would have seemed as silent and unmoving as Heather, internally she put on her best happy-voice and said “Hey, John, this is Lyssa. You’ve fixed me up a few times at Meg’s. You wouldn’t happen to make house-calls, would you? I know it’s Saturday but I’d be willing to pay a little extra.”

There was a pause. Lyssa tapped her toe nervously and the metronome-like sound echoed loudly in her otherwise quiet apartment.

John sniffed. “Uh, well, it hasn’t come up much to be honest. Let me ask a few questions and we’ll see if it makes sense for me to come out. First off, what seems to be the problem? You’re at least functional enough to be calling me.”

“Oh, it’s not me. I fixed myself up just fine. It’s my friend, Heather. She’s a different model than me and she’s really fried. I don’t have half the parts I’d need.”

“Okay, I understand. Around where do you live?

Lyssa told John which exurb she lived in and he responded that it wasn’t an unreasonable drive; especially given that he’d probably have to stop by his workshop at the club before coming over if Heather was as damaged as Lyssa said.

“And that brings us to our next point,” he continued, sounding more enthusiastic, “give me the rundown: make, model, and damage.”

“I checked, she’s a Lazurite 3350-F. She managed to burn out almost everything in her upper-thoracic electronics bay. All the software safeguards were disabled except for the ones protecting her core processors and memory.”

“Shit! That’s a little… extreme. What, did she take a shower with the panel open or something?” John asked.

“She just got a little carried away,” Lyssa answered the semi-sarcastic question. “It was her first time.”

“Okay, okay. Well, 3350s are getting to be fairly common so I’m sure I’ve got everything I’ll need at the club. What’s your address?”

Externally, Lyssa sighed in relief. Internally, she reeled off her address over the phone line to John. It would have been awkward if she’d had to call in an emergency repair service for Heather or take her to a public rep-shop, and it might have taken a couple of days to get her back in working order if she were stuck in a queue with a bunch of other synthetics. Lyssa had dreaded the possibility of having to figure out where Heather worked in order to call her in as “sick” for Monday, but now she didn’t need to worry about it.

“I figure I’ll be there in about an hour, maybe a little more depending on traffic. I’ll call you back if I’m going to be much longer,” John said.

“Great! Thank you so much for coming out on the weekend.”

“Hey, no problem, I didn’t really have any plans for today and this sounds like it might be a fun project.”

Lyssa smiled and cocked her head thoughtfully. She thought about how frustrated she’d been since Heather had cut short their evening, and her smile grew into an impish grin. “I think you may be right about that. I’ll see you in an hour, then.”

“Bye,” John said then hung up.

Somewhat over an hour later, John arrived outside Lyssa’s front door. He briefly balanced the corner of the box he was carrying on the doorknob to free up a hand and knocked quickly, wincing at the cold wind that blew down the open-ended third-floor breezeway.

A few seconds later the door opened. He recognized Lyssa immediately from the rich turquoise shade of her eyes, not a common color even among synthetics. John could hardly help but look her up and down for a moment. She was wearing gauzy violet shift that was effectively see-through, and the way it clung around her the flare of her hips and the swell of her breasts accentuated her beauty in a way that was more effective than mere nakedness would have been. After all, he’d seen her naked before on more than one occasion, even if usually in a deactivated state.

“Come in, silly, it’s cold out there.” Lyssa said. She turned and strutted back into the apartment.

John followed a few steps behind, turning briefly to shut the door behind him with an elbow. He dropped the box to a lower grip so he could shamelessly enjoy the view of Lyssa’s backside. Given her wardrobe choice it seemed like she’d hardly mind.

“So, this is Heather, I presume?” John said, nodding in the direction of the lithe blonde on the couch. He set the box on one of the couch cushions and shrugged off the backpack he’d used to hold his toolkits, dropping it gently to the hardwood floor.

“That’s her,” Lyssa said, “Poor thing just couldn’t contain her excitement.”

John took a knee on the couch and bent over Heather for a closer look. He gently but firmly pulled her arm back, withdrawing the hand from her chest a few inches so that he could unclench her fingers and free the wiring she’d grabbed. That done, he moved it further out of the way. With each motion John imposed on her, the unpowered actuators in her arm and shoulder whirred with resistance.

“Well, doesn’t look like there’s any obvious damage to the dermal layer on her hand. That’s good; means she’ll just need a good scrubbing instead of a reskin-job,” John said. He pulled a pen-light from his pocket and looked around inside the now unobstructed electronics bay. “Man, she really did a number on herself though.” He whistled through his teeth. “Gonna have to replace almost everything and do a few tests to make sure the damage didn’t spread to any other systems.”

“How long do you think it’ll take?” Lyssa asked.

John stood back up and put the pen-light back in his pocket. He looked off into the distance and bit his lip for a few seconds. “Hm, figure probably around four or five hours at least, assuming there’s no serious damage other than the obvious. Guess I better get started, huh?”

Lyssa frowned, “Ugh, I was worried it was going to be an all-day affair. I’m sorry, again. Can I get you a drink or something? I’ve got water, orange juice, a couple of different kinds of soda. No food, I’m afraid.”

John smiled, “Don’t worry; I ate before I got here. If we go too long I can always pop out for some food, or order something for delivery if it’s okay with you.”

Lyssa gestured widely with her arms, “Feel free, I’m the one who took over your Saturday.”

“Thanks, and don’t think calling me out here was some sort of terrible imposition. It’s not like I hate my job.” John had unzipped the book bag and was laying out a couple of different-sized plastic tool cases.

Lyssa raised her eyebrows. “So, you like playing with plastic titties all day long?”

John fumbled the case he was holding and barely caught it again. Taking a deep breath, he placed it alongside the first few. “Actually, I try to keep the repairs I do as clinical as possible. I wouldn’t want to take advantage of someone.”

“What about non-sentients? I’m sure you don’t just repair class-IV synthetics.”

John turned to give Lyssa a wry smile. “Well then that’s someone’s property. A good mechanic wouldn’t take his client’s car for a joyride without permission, right? It’s like that, only more so. Also, why do I get the feeling that you’re baiting me?”

“Oh,” Lyssa said, putting a hand to her chest with a shocked expression, “I don’t know what you’re talking about… other than that I am, of course.” She grinned at him.

John laughed. “Okay, I bite.”

Lyssa came and sat down next to Heather, on the side opposite John and his tools. “I’m just curious. It’s got to be stressful if that’s how you approach it; being around all these perfect, beautiful bodies all day long and not letting yourself have fun with them.”

“It is, sometimes.” John said. He was methodically disconnecting cables inside of Heather, occasionally looking down to flick through diagrams on a roll-out screen he’d laid across one of her pale thighs. “But don’t worry, I have plenty of fun.”

“Ah,” Lyssa said. “You’re seeing someone, then?”

John looked up at her. “Well, um, not at the moment,” he said, and then went back to undoing cables.

“I’m not distracting you too much, am I? You don’t mind talking while you work?” Lyssa asked.

“Oh, no, it’s fine; kind of nice, actually.”

“Good. It seems like we’re going to be here for a while, so why don’t you tell me a little about yourself. How’d you end up as the head repair tech at Meg’s? Where do you come from, originally? Give me your whole life story.” Lyssa drew her legs up onto the couch and put an arm around Heather’s shoulders.

“You going to write my biography?” John laughed, “I better get a cut of the royalties; probably be able to buy myself a cup of coffee.”

“Hey, I think you’re interesting. Besides, I’ve got nowhere to be for the rest of the day. Or at least nowhere I’d rather be.”

Done with the connectors and cables, John unclipped a couple of clasps and slid a circuit board out of its mounting. It was obviously done for, given the scorch marks, so he set it on the floor and went back for the next component to be removed. It was hard to ignore Lyssa’s rather full breasts, the closest of them pressed against Heather’s arm just a little way from where he was working. “Sure, okay. Jeez, where do I begin? I’ve never told anyone my ‘life story’ before; not sure there really is one.”

“Try the beginning. Where’d you grow up? Did you go to college? See where that takes you.”

John did just that. As the pile of parts on the floor grew larger, he talked about his youth in the country, about his high-school robotics projects, what he’d thought when he’d first met a synthetic at college. He told Lyssa about how he’d gotten sufficiently interested in the tech of humanoid robotics that he’d changed his concentration at school. He’d gotten out just after a big market crash, though, so jobs were a bit scarce and he hadn’t been impressive enough to pull a position with one of the big firms. He’d made ends meet doing increasingly advanced repair work in a lot of different places.

By that point in the story he’d removed every part he could through the relatively small access panel, so he unsealed Heather’s synthflesh seams with a high-intensity UV-light then unlocked and removed her thoracic plate, basically the whole front of her chest from collarbone to sternum. He couldn’t keep himself from laughing when, after he gave it to Lyssa, she held it up and gave it a hard shake, causing Heather’s breasts to jiggle wildly.

“Ah, this is what you meant when you said you had plenty of fun,” she said, doing it again and sending John into another fit of laughter.

“What would Heather think if she could see you do that?” John managed to get out.

“Pretty sure she’d think it’s fucking hilarious, actually,” Lyssa responded, and carefully set the plate, breasts down, on one of the couch’s wide arms. She studied its backing for a moment. Emerging from near the middle of the clear, molded-plastic ‘ribcage’ was a thick cable with a broad, multi-pinned connector head for carrying pressure and temperature data back from the innumerable sensors embedded in the plate’s synthflesh exterior. “She’s laid out a little differently than me.”

“Well, different design,” John said,” You two don’t even have the same manufacturer, after all.” He pulled a series of small circuit cards out of one of a pair of racks on either side of Heather’s opened torso. “Junk, junk, junk, looks okay, junk,” he judged each one, tossing the damaged ones to the pile on the floor while he kept the potentially salvageable component on his lap. The ones on the other side fared better; all but one of them lacked any visible damage. A minute with a tester, however, showed that even the ones that seemed alright had faults of one sort or another.

“She sure was thorough.” Lyssa said, “Not much left of her, is there?”

“She got lucky with what she grabbed, or unlucky, I guess. The idea’s usually to draw it out a little, right?” He pursed his lips.

Lyssa looked surprised for a moment, then curious. “Why do you think we do this?” She pointed at Heather’s ruined internals.

John flushed slightly. “The… um, well, for reasons still not well understood, there’s an emergent effect where the high volume of disordered data coming into the CPU from multiple hardware faults is interpreted as being… pleasurable by many class IV synthetics.”

“Wow, you make it sound like we’re robots or something,” Lyssa said disapprovingly. She moved her arms stiffly forward and back and turned her head with an exaggerated wobble at the end. “Beep-boop. Malfunction.”

John tried to stifle his smile but failed. “Well, am I wrong?”

There was a click, and a seam appeared around a trapezoidal section of Lyssa’s chest. She reached up and removed the panel to show her own, fully functional electronics complete with a stack of flickering green LED lights to one side. “John, we synthetics, we’re beings of perfect, crystalline order. Everything designed, planned, programmed. A million little parts all working together, just right. When you malfunction, though, it’s like a flood of chaos overwhelming you, and I don’t just mean that there’s a bunch of out-of-context data coming into the low-level analog systems. It’s the feeling of losing that total control, of the design being swept away, of all the backups and auxiliaries and the fail-soft modes going to pieces and nothing being left.” She leaned towards him across Heather’s lap.

John found that he’d forgotten to breathe. “That sounds terrifying.”

Lyssa grinned fiercely. “More like exhilarating. And the best part about Meg’s is that I know when I reach that point, and nothing’s left but a burnt-out plastic doll, someone will be there to make me perfect again. Someone I can trust. It’s freeing, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.”

John took another breath and looked deeply into Lyssa’s turquoise eyes. Abruptly, he leaned forwards and kissed her. He felt the cool softness of her lips against his own, felt her hand take hold of his as she pressed into the kiss more firmly. He could hear electricity humming through the systems inside her open panel and he drew in the subtle plastic scent of her skin.

Lyssa broke the kiss and moved to whisper in John’s ear. “You’re so good at putting me back together, why don’t we see how you are at taking me apart?” At the same time, she pressed the heel of her hand against his crotch, drawing her palm up the bulge of a quickly-growing erection such that she ended with her fingers grasping the pull-tab of his pants’ zipper. She pulled it down sharply then slipped her hand inside and through the fly of his boxers, deftly freeing his cock.

John pulled Lyssa back into another, more passionate kiss as she began to stroke his shaft. As soon as he resurfaced for air, he cast a dubious look at Heather, still between them on the couch, and asked “do you have a bed?”

Lyssa gave the head of John’s cock a playful pat and stood up. “Of course, come with me.”

John hurriedly stripped and followed her to the bedroom, which proved less sparse than the rest of the apartment. There were a couple of bookshelves, a dresser, and nightstands on either side of the queen-sized bed. When he saw Lyssa stop he took a double-step and put his arms around her. She sighed as he squeezed her breasts up against her body, each overfilling one of his hands, and the sigh became a moan when he pinched her nipples firmly between his fingers.

“Oh, John, I want you to fuck me to pieces,” Lyssa purred as she writhed her firm body against him.

John bent her over the bed so abruptly that the servos in her midsection whined angrily. Her long hair was cast forward, a fan of saturated red against the cool white sheets, and she groaned with pleasure when he hiked up the back of her shift and plunged himself into the wet warmth of her artificial pussy.

Lyssa let him fuck her like that for a little while, enjoying the pleasure data that pulsed into her CPU with every one of John’s filling thrusts, with every motion of her erect nipples against the surface of the bed. She savored the partially randomized, algorithmic build of ecstasy that was taking her towards orgasm. But she wanted more than just the perfectly contrived ballet of electrical impulses currently humming through her circuits, so when she determined the moment was right she unimpaled herself from her lover’s cock and pulled up her legs to kneel on the bed. She turned herself round towards him, hair falling messily around her face and shoulders and breasts, and arched her back to accentuate not only her fabulous rack but also the open access panel on her chest.

John pulled her into a close embrace with one hand on her rear. “You know how earlier you said you were perfect?” he asked in between breaths, “You’re not, you know. You have a design flaw.”

Lyssa raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And what’s tha-tha-tha-tha-tha-…” she stammered as John yanked a smallish circuit card from amongst a rack of them inside her chest and held it up in front of her. “...that?” she finished after another few repetitions.

“You’ve gotta be careful, because these can go in backwards,” he said. Flipping the card upside-down in his hand he reinserted it into its slot.

Lyssa jerked out of John’s grip and fell stiffly back to the bed. Tiny pops and crackles attended the release of a small plume of white smoke as that card, then the ones adjacent to it, began to short out. There was a little fizzle of yellow-orange sparks between them. Error signals and mixed-up data temporarily stalled her CPU and a lustful sigh became a glitched-sounding “O-o-o-o-ooo-o-ooh,” as her systems sought to reroute their functions around the damage. One of her arms waggled back and forth almost like she was twitchily trying to wave the smoke away.

John grinned and leapt up on the bed. Grabbing hold of Lyssa’s calves, he pulled her towards him and penetrated her again. He paused for a moment, his eyes rolling back at the way her pussy spastically alternated between contracting and loosening, apparently affected by the malfunctions she was experiencing. Resting her ankles on his shoulders, he began thrusting while simultaneously rubbing her clit with the tip of his thumb.

As the delightful chaos in Lyssa’s CPU subsided, she was hit full-force by an overwhelming backlog of more conventional pleasure-impulses coming from her sexual sub-processors. Her back arched and she cried out, thrashing at the sheets as she trembled at the brink of her orgasm threshold. Seeking the last iota of sensation required to reach that programmed reservoir of ecstasy she pinched her nipples so hard that even through the fabric of the chemise her fingernails left temporary indentations in the delicate synthskin. “Harder!” she demanded.

John quickened his pace, grabbing hold of both Lyssa’s thighs. He felt his own orgasm rapidly approaching, but he hoped to hold it off and prolong their current bout of lovemaking. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on anything other than the tight synthetic sex that was currently wrapped around his cock, or the flame-haired beauty to which it belonged.

He was in luck, for after just a little more strenuous fucking Lyssa’s face contorted and she let out a shallow, panting wail that was one the many and varied vocal files that could be triggered when she came. She relaxed back to the bed, allowing John to slip out of her with a wet plop while she continued fondling her breasts, though more gently now.

John, letting her legs fall to either side of him, reached forward and grabbed her by the lower edge of her open panel. He pulled her up into a long, gentle kiss.

He felt her lips smile against his and she said, “I hope you don’t think I’m finished with you.”

“Mm, you can hardly be finished with me if I haven’t finished at all,” John whispered back. He walked back on his knees until he could stand up off the side of the bed. His erection hadn’t appreciably softened and was still pointing out ahead of him, glistening with Lyssa’s juices.

Lyssa giggled and followed him until she was seated on the edge of the bed. There was a familiar click of panel latches disengaging, and she popped loose a smaller section of synthskin and plastic from just above her mound. “You got my circuits so nice and hot,” she said, running a finger along the surface of the circuit board that dominated inside of the opening. With one smooth motion, she slid off the edge of the bed and dropped to her knees in front of John. “You know, it’s been ages since someone gave my pretty rubber face a good, hard fucking.”

John exhaled raggedly as Lyssa opened her lips and took his cock deep inside her mouth. She stared up at him with a piercing expression and arched her eyebrows, daring him on. He accepted the challenge, placing his hands on the back of her head and gently pushing himself further inside her. He felt the end of his cock slip past the back of her tongue and into the molded constriction of the throat cavity beyond. Breathing hard, he withdrew almost completely then thrusted slowly back with just a little more force. He felt additional lube gush in around his cock and hazarded a third, harder thrust that brought his head up hard against the narrow section.

Biting his lip, John shook his head in bewildered amazement at Lyssa, who winked and made an appreciative “Mmm” sound around the obstruction in her mouth. Past that, John saw one of her hands making rapid motions between her legs while the other gripped a corner of her open chest panel.

Feeling less inhibited, he slammed home with more force on his fourth thrust, pushing a few centimeters further and enjoying the sensation of tightness as Lyssa’s throat stretched to accommodate him. Surrendering himself to the experience, he began slamming his cock down her throat over and over with a sloppy thwuck thwuck thwuck sound, employing ever more strength as the additional lubricant helped him reach deeper. His head tilted back and his teeth clenched as the sensation became overwhelming.

Lyssa moaned loudly, whether from his exertions or hers or both John didn’t know. He looked down and saw that one of his hands had balled into a fist in her hair, and that, by her expression, Lyssa seemed ready to come if she wasn’t already doing so. The sight of the beautiful synthetic redhead on her knees was enough to push John over the edge and he cried out, a pleasure so intense it was painful radiating from his groin in pulses. He slumped forwards, releasing his grip on Lyssa’s hair and taking his hand from the back of her head.

Lyssa moaned again, this time definitely coming, and leaned back such that John’s cock slid out of her mouth. She tipped her head forward and a long, thin stream of his cum slipped from between her lips. It spattered wetly atop her breasts, on her knees, and directly into the electronics inside her open panel.

Lyssa looked up and smirked at John. “Oops,” she said as her delicate circuitry began angrily buzzing and crackling.

John stepped back as sparks leapt from several spots and a little tongue of flame flared from one component. He covered his mouth as smoke billowed out of Lyssa’s chest. She began to judder and twitch violently as her servos fought each other.

“You li-li-li-like seeing me-me-me like thi-i-i-i-is?” she stammered, the words badly out of synch with the motions of her mouth. “Aren’t I-I-I-I perfe-fe-fe-fect?” The short-circuiting redhead stood shakily and tried to take a step forward but lost her balance and flopped back to the bed. Her legs bounced up and down in a halting parody of a walking motion.

John rushed over and opened a window, letting in a steady gust of clean, ice-cold air to thin the acrid smoke. Thinking quickly, he ran to the bed and ripped off Lyssa’s chemise to make sure it wouldn’t catch fire and used it to fan the smoke towards the window. By this point the pops and bangs and crackles from inside his synthetic lover had started to tail off, and her uncoordinated motions had wound down some.

Lyssa unevenly batted her long lashes at John, her head twitching persistently to the right, and said, “You-you-youzzghr make me-me-me szrhooo fucking-king ho-o-o-o-o-ot, you gzkrrrrr…” the rest of the statement was swallowed in a hash of digitized distortion that her lips hopelessly failed to form themselves around. She managed to seize John’s hand and give him a lopsided smile before a loud string of pops twisted her face into a bizarre sneer and sent a shudder through her body. The quiet humming that attended the normal operation of her systems, which had grown increasingly ragged through her worsening malfunctions, finally ground out with an uneven clatter and left the bedroom silent.

John shivered in the quickly cooling bedroom, but the stream of hot air from the HVAC vents combined with the open window was doing too good of a job clearing the air for him to want to stop it. Instead, he found the bathroom and took a long, hot shower. He stuck to just water, not wanting to risk the soap that was guaranteed to “keep your synthskin soft and supple!” In passing he noticed that the second bedroom had been set up with some basic repair and diagnostic equipment along with several shelves of spare parts, but he noted it was far from sufficient to make Lyssa operational given her current degree of damage.

By the time he finished toweling off the bedroom no longer smelled of burnt silicon, so he closed the window and let the temperature come back up to something reasonable. For a while he sat on the bed next to Lyssa, looking into her blank, turquoise-colored eyes and thinking about the events of the last few hours. It struck him that he had liked seeing her malfunction and break down, and that he was certain he’d like to see her do so again and even take a more active part in causing it. Moreover, he’d loved seeing the way she enjoyed their play and knowing that, just like Lyssa had said, as often as she went to pieces he’d be able to make her perfect again.

After taking advantage of the orange juice in the fridge, John returned to the living room and got back to work on Heather. First off was to finish the interrupted job of removing the damaged parts. That done, he popped the vacuum-wrap on her new components and laid them out neatly. He was fascinated to see that many were from the big new Lagrange-point fabrication centers and noted to the oblivious blonde synthetic, “hey Heather, after this you’ll be part asteroid.”

Just as he’d predicted, it took about another four hours for John to finish installing all the parts and do system diagnostics. At the end of that time, he took a deep breath, flipped the manual power switch inside Heather’s torso, and waited patiently while she booted up, watching all the time to see if any problems cropped up via the pad-comp he’d plugged into one of her diagnostic ports.

For once, nothing went awry, and when John looked up from unplugging his diagnostic tools he noted that Heather was staring at him quizzically. “Hi, I’m John. Lyssa invited me over to fix you up after what happened last night,” he said.

Heather relaxed her posture a little, letting the hand that had been hanging in the air for the last day finally drop to her side. With her chest plate still off, the actuators in her shoulder whined audibly. She looked embarrassed and immediately broke eye contact with John, staring down into her exposed hardware. “Um, thanks John. Is Lyssa still here, by the way?”

Now it was John’s turn to look embarrassed. “Oh, uh, yes, I guess. She’s in the bedroom. Can I put your chest back on?”

Heather nodded and watched with interest as he positioned the large section and locked it into place, then sealed up the gaps in her synthskin with the other setting on the light. She found the smaller panel on the arm of the couch and picked it up, then stopped when she realized that Lyssa’s was lying next to it. She gave John a profoundly questioning look and stood up.

John made an “oh well” gesture with his hands to no one in particular as Heather went and took a look in the bedroom. She came out a few seconds later with her eyes a little wider. She put her hands on her hips and smirked at John. “Now that’s what I call quality service,” she said.

“Oh, we know each other,” John explained.

“If you didn’t before you sure do now; I’m pretty sure I know what that was all over Lyssa’s chin. Now, Mr. Break-it, you wouldn’t happen to know where Lyssa put my clothes, do you?”

John raised his hands in an expression of ignorance and suggested the bedroom closet.

“Hm, I probably should have thought of that,” Heather responded. “You sure you put everything in the right slot?” She pointed at her chest.

John sat down on the couch and made a tired sigh. “Pretty sure.”

Heather went back into the bedroom and came out a few minutes later in a fairly modest set of street clothes. “You’re going to fix Lyssa, right?” she asked as she collected her purse and coat from the rack near the door.

“Yes, of course. I’m going to need to drop back by my shop to get parts for her model. I figure I’ll do it in a little while when I head out to get dinner.”

Just before heading out, she paused. “Um, do I owe you anything?”

“No, Lyssa said she’d take care of it,” John responded.

“Oh? That’s really nice of her. Hey, when you get her running again tell her I’m totally game if she wants to try a rematch, and that I’ll try not to jump the gun this time. Lyssa’s so awesome.”

John nodded, and waved as Heather left. Looking at the long bars of light the evening sun cast on the floor through the window-blinds, he nodded again. “Yeah, she really is.”

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