The Android

by Unknown

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© Copyright 2017 - Unknown - Used by permission

Storycodes: Solo-M; lab; testing; M/f; subject; circuits; braces; treatment; condition; educate; dance; club; cons; X


Even in the late 2020's, medical science still hadn't found a cure for several causes of death related to extensive damage to the brain. The bicycle helmet was still the best thing going for prevention. Fred's job involved research into the use of computer circuits to replace irreparable portions of the brain. Given that Fred was very much a loaner and dedicated to his work, it was no wonder he hadn't been selected to work on the latest circuits designed for use where areas of the brain providing personality and so on had been destroyed. He had just concluded a very boring project that involved conducting a very detailed set of tests on a circuit that he didn't even know the purposes of. He was in the kick-off meeting for the next test project.

"Gentlemen," said the project leader, "We now reach the most exciting part of this project. A few weeks ago we received a body of a 23-year-old woman who had specified her body should be donated to medical science when she would stand no chance of resuming consciousness. Her condition has damaged no part of her body or lower brain functions. We installed several of our circuits in her brain and she is today fully conscious. Our task now is to conduct extensive testing to determine if she can function in society".

He walked over and stood by Fred. "We have selected Fred to begin this testing because of several points. First, since we want the subject to live with the tester, we decided they should be single and unattached. Second, his last testing project was so successful that he has to be the most qualified."

One of the other members of the team broke in with, "I don't mean Fred to take this the wrong way but he's hardly the social butterfly."

Fred added, "Let's face it, I'm hardly qualified to give any opinion on how close to 'Normal' the subject is." He laughed, "I've often joked that some day I might want to 'upgrade' to one of our circuits myself!"

The leader continued, "Well, Fed, with all due respect, we only want written tests and results. We don't want any judgement at this time. Essentially we want to find out what situations our circuits can be used in."

After another half-hour of meeting, Fred was asked to meet with one of the other team members, Frank, to get detailed instructions and to be introduced to the subject.

"Now Fred, don't be nervous. Think of her just like any other team member," Frank suggested. While they were waiting for her to arrive, Fred was briefed on how to conduct the testing. Then the door opened and they both stood up. "Fred," Frank said, "I'd like you to meet Alana Gray." He looked at Alana as she approached Fred to shake is hand, "Alana, you'll be staying with Fred for a while. He'll be looking after you."

As Fred shook her hand nervously she said with a big smile, "I think I'm going to like living with Fred!" Fred returned her greeting and she was taken away again.

"Are the braces part of our work?" Fred asked Frank.

"No, she had them when we got her. Unfortunately we have to completely disconnect her from all her previous family and friends, including doctors. As far as they are concerned, she passed away. We have changed her identity and done the paperwork to make you the legal guardian. So we can't get the details of her treatment. When you feel ready, you should take her to an Orthodontist and get them to figure it out. Remember, the company will pay for all of these expenses."

"But Frank, what happens when they ask questions - like who started the treatment?"

"Oh, you tell them you are a friend who is looking after Alana. Say she has suffered Amnesia and there were no clues found at the time of her accident. Your paperwork fits this story." Frank replied. Then he continued, "Now Fred, I want to make sure you understand the latitude you have to conduct these tests. We want her tested in a large number of situations. She will be living with you as a roommate, so that covers many family situations. We want you to test her at parties and in one-on-one situations, such as dates. Now if you set her up with someone, you have to interview them afterwards."

"Frank," Fred asked one last question, "Wouldn't it provide more accurate results if I dated her?"

Frank signed and then answered, "Fred, you are quite right. Company policy forbids us to ask that of you. In fact ultimately, if all previous tests were successful, we would want to test her as a spouse. All I am permitted to say is that if you choose to be the other subject in any of these situations, beyond your roll as guardian and roommate, the company has no problem." Fred got the point.

Fred was then asked to take Alana home and get her settled in his guestroom. As he went to the room she was waiting in, he heard her talking to someone in the office. He paused outside the door to listen. "He's really cute. I'm going to enjoy staying with him." He waited a little longer and then walked quickly in as if he had rushed up the hall.

"Sorry to keep you waiting, Alana, we can get you settled now." She smiled as soon as she saw him and got up, took her suitcase and went with him.

He said nothing for most of the way home. He wasn't sure what to say. Alana was looking around at everything and didn't seem to notice he was so quiet. His house was located in a semi-rural area. There was forest on two sides of the yard and the nearest neighbor was a fair way off. He showed her to the guestroom and she started to unpack. "When you're done, if you will join me in the family room, there are a lot of questions I'm dying to ask you." Fred said to her.

She was about a half-hour and then she finally joined him. She had changed from the business attire she had come home in, into a tracksuit.

"I hope you don't mind, I changed into something more comfortable," she said. She sat down in an armchair across from Fred.

"Alana, what do you know about why you came home with me? How did you come to be at the office?" Fred asked.

"Well..." she thought for a second, "I don't have any memory before the office. They tell me that I suffered lots of brain damage and that I donated my body to science, so they implanted stuff in my brain so I could wake up again. They kept me in the lab for a few weeks to help me adjust to the new stuff in my head and to make sure I recovered properly from the surgery. Yesterday they told me that everything had gone so well and now they needed to have you take over. They said I could live with you and see if I could start my own life again. So should I start looking for a job, do you think?"

Fred laughed, "No, you have a job. You work for the same company as I do. You are testing some of our latest products. We'll go to the office often enough and you are currently getting a salary that they put into a trust account for you. I wanted to ask you, though, does everything seem to be working ok in your head?"

"No, every once in a while I get these episodes. They only last about 10 minutes, but I get this sudden feeling of extreme sadness and insecurity. The lady in the lab would hold me until it passed. It only seems to happen in the evening. I'll let you know if one happens." She looked around, "So what should I do now?"

"Well, I thought I would get you settled in here. I need to show you where everything is and then we need to run some errands. First we have to go to the bank and open an account for you so you can get your pay transferred."

"Ok. That sounds easy," she said. "Then what?"

Fred thought for a minute and then said, "Well, the other thing they asked me to take care off soon was to get find out about your braces."

She put her finger up and touched them, "Oh, yea. I guess they were there from before. But I don't know anything about them."

"Well, they told me to get you to an orthodontist and have them figure out what your treatment was all about. The company said they would pay for everything during this testing period. I'll see when I can get an appointment." Fred had decided that it would be a good test to see how she reacted to someone poking around in her mouth. He got out a phone directory and started looking for nearby practices. He found one whose name he recognized. A good friend of his had gone to him and said he was really good. He phoned to see when he could get an appointment and was told they just had a cancellation the same day for a long installation procedure and could he come down in an hour and half? Alana agreed so they went right after Fred showed her where everything in his house was.

A young girl was leaving just as they arrived. She seemed unhappy at her mother, "Oh please don't make me wear it outside. I'll put it in as soon as we get home!" Fred guessed she was referring to her headgear. The receptionist wasn't there so they took a seat.

Fred turned to Alana, "That poor little girl. She probably just got the headgear. Would you make her wear it right out of the office if you were her mother?"

She seemed completely unconcerned, "I don't see why the little girl should mind, but the mother shouldn't force her." Fred made a mental note that she didn't empathize with the little girl's vanity.

A minute later the doctor came out with a clipboard and asked Alana to fill in some of her medical history. Fred explained that she was an amnesia patient and that he was legally responsible for her at the moment and that he would fill it in from the limited info available on her. About 15 minutes later the doctor returned to get Alana. "Do you mind if Fred joins me?"

"No, not at all. Follow me." They followed him into his examining room. He got Alana tilted back in the chair and started to examine the metal work in her mouth. "Hmmm," he said. "The teeth are fairly well aligned. They obviously weren't at the beginning of the treatment, but the bite is not done. Alana, do you recall ever wearing headgear? Did you happen to find a face bow or anything amongst your things?"

She shook her head and Fred answered, "No, they didn't recover much." The doctor conducted a full analysis. He even took impressions, but with the braces already on, they came out funny. After the doctor carefully examined the x-rays, impressions, and his notes, he took them into his office so they could discuss it.

"Alana," he started, "you are about a quarter the way through your treatment, as far as I can tell. The course adjustment has been done. You're way overdue for having the arch wire replaced. That's why it is loose in places. But the correcting of the over-jet is not happening. You may have worn elastics, but there were no extractions, so I don't think that was it. You may have worn headgear because there are tubes on your molars, or you may have used a one of a couple of plastic appliances. The most effective option and the one that would get the better results in the end would be the headgear. You'd have to wear it ten or twelve hours per day."

Before he could talk about the other options, Alana cut in, "So that's the option we should use."

The doctor replied, "Well, it's quite usual in adult cases to go with the extractions and elastics to avoid the headgear. Adults are often too self conscious for it."

Fred looked at Alana, "Are you sure you don't mind wearing headgear, like the little girl that we passed coming in had on?"

"No," was all that Alana said. The doctor led them back into the examining area and started work. He removed the old arch wire, cleaned around all the brackets and then put in a new, finer one. Throughout the procedure, Fred carefully noted her reaction to the work. There was virtually none, except to open her mouth wider whenever the doctor asked her to. There were no expressions on her face or anything.

When he was done he sat back and said, "Ok, that's the adjustment done," and Alana ran her tongue round her mouth and licked her lips, then closed it. The doctor went on, "So do you feel a little extra pressure?" She nodded. He turned around and rummaged through a drawer in the cabinet behind him. "Let's try this one. You should be a #7." He was actually talking to himself. "Now if you could just open half way, I'll try this size." She did exactly what he asked and he inserted the bow into the molar tubes on her back teeth then withdrew it. He took his pliers and very carefully made a couple of adjustments to the ends of the inner bars on each side.

Fred noticed that while he was doing this, she just relaxed her mouth and looked blankly ahead. When the doctor had finished and brought the appliance up to her mouth, she opened it without moving her eyes. He inserted it and left it there this time, saying, "There, easy fit. Now I'll start you off with the strap loose until you get used to it." He pulled out a strap and loosened off the tension, then fed it under her neck and attached it to the face bow. Then he said, "Now you'll feel some pressure on your back teeth. After a while that will start to hurt. During the first week, you will want to wear it for short periods until you feel you can go through the night. Then after a few more days you'll want to tighten the strap a good inch." Alana looked at him while he was explaining this to her without expression. She just nodded and uttered Uh huh. He continued, "Now I'll have to show you how to take it in and out. Come over here to the mirror and I'll let you practice".

Suddenly his pager went off. He said, "Just a second. My answering service would only page me if there was an emergency." He ran to the other room and got on the phone.

Fred turned to Alana and asked, "How do you feel about all this. Are you having second thoughts?"

She replied, "Why do you say that?"

"Well, I guess it's the way you react to all his instructions." Fred wasn't really sure what to read into her reaction.

"No," she replied, "I'm just listening to his instructions."

A moment later the doctor returned, "I'm awfully sorry for the interruption. There's been an accident and one of the victims has his face bow jammed in a car air conditioning vent. It's stuck, but the impact also bent the bow so it's stuck in his molar tube. The paramedics want me to go and remove the molar bands. Apparently he is also injured. I can be back in half an hour to cover taking it in and out and the wear schedule."

Fred suggested, "I watched you put it in. I can show her. Isn't the wear schedule 10 to 12 hours a day or more?"

The doctor looked almost pleading, "Well, if you don't mind showing her. The 10 to 12 hours doesn't apply until you have broken it in and tightened the strap. After that you will loose about a day for every 2 hours under. However you can make up time on the weekends, up to 4 hours per weekday. I really appreciate this." They got up and left the office in a hurry. The doctor locked the door as they left and ran to the basement where his car was parked.

Fred realized they were in the same situation as that little girl leaving the office when they arrived. He said to Alana, "I don't think you have to wear it now." In his mind he was trying very hard to find out if she had any embarrassment about wearing it out of the office.

"He said until it started to hurt. It doesn't hurt now," she said.

"But you can wear it at home after dinner when we're in private. Wouldn't that be easier?" he asked.

She looked confused, "I don't see why." Fred suggested she remove it until he had been able to show her how to take it in and out. This was not the reason, but he had ideas about using it as part of his testing.

"Ok", she agreed and stood still. He reached up and removed the strap and then gently slid the face bow out of her mouth. If he had been looking for 'wrong' responses, this was certainly a hot spot. Why had she not taken it out herself? Surely it was obvious to her. Did she not feel any embarrassment wearing an appliance like this in public when she wasn't prescribed to? Most people would have expressed some concern right after having it installed and not being used to it.

On the ride home, they said nothing. Fred was beginning to formulate his test plan. In his mind he was listing the qualities, responses and emotions that he could test for: reason, embarrassment, humor, anger, sadness, empathy, sympathy, and so on. He planned to put her into situations where he could observe her and categorize her display of any of these.

As they were arriving home, Fred asked Alana, "You didn't say anything all the way home. Is everything ok?"

"Sure," she replied. The look on her face suggested she was in a pleasant mood. They went inside and Fred led her to the bathroom where he had the biggest mirror. He showed her how to put the face bow in and got her to try it a couple of times.

"Ok, there you go. The doctor said you would feel pain after a while and you should take it out then," Fred said as they left. "Now I have some typing to do in the office. Maybe you'd like to make yourself comfortable in the rec. room. I'll be about an hour."

He looked in on her a couple of times and she seemed comfortable. She was watching TV. He completed his rough test plan. When he was finished he went in and sat beside her. Her attention didn't distract until the next commercial. She turned off the TV and asked him, "So what is it you do at your job?"

Fred had decided to be somewhat honest. He couldn't let her know when he was testing her, so he decided to change his story somewhat. "Well, normally I devise very thorough tests for one of the circuits we make and perform and record them. But starting today they wanted me to get you started living in the outside world. I think they picked me because I have a guest room and because there aren't a lot of things I'm busy with outside of work." Fred changed the subject. "I'm wondering if you have any hobbies or recreational activities you do?

She thought for a second, "I don't know of any."

"Well," Fred suggested, "we could start by looking at things I have to do here and see if anything interests you." He got out a deck of cards and showed her how to play a couple of games. She learned them fairly quickly. He showed her solitaire and left her playing that while he started cooking dinner. He could see her from the kitchen. After a while she got up and went to the washroom. He noticed she was hanging her head down slightly, probably trying to give to the pressure of the strap. It should be hurting her by now. When she returned he called her into the kitchen, "Dinner's almost ready. How'd you like to talk to me while I get it ready?"

She came in to the kitchen and sat down on a stool at the counter across from him. "I got one of the three tries with the cards to work out."

Fred asked her, "So do you enjoy the game?"

"It was ok," she answered after some thought. "It was a way to keep busy while you did other things."

Fred asked, "Is there something else you would rather have been doing?"

She thought for a second and then said, "Yes, but I'm not quite sure what it is. I mean I know I do it with another person and we touch. I wonder if it is some memory coming through."

Fred suddenly got rather nervous. Was she thinking what he thought she was thinking? He had just dished up dinner but left it there for a second. He went over and stood beside her, "Is it something you do standing, sitting or what?"

She stood up and faced him. "Not sitting." She stepped closer so she was touching him and said, "Standing very close."

"I think," said Fred, feeling a little uneasy with her standing so close, "that you mean slow dancing. There's slow music playing and you and your partner move slowly round the dance floor, turning."

She smiled wide and, still standing very close to him, said, "Yes, THAT is what I would like to do. Can we do it soon?"

He agreed and moved away from her to get the dinner plates and moved them to the counter. Alana moved back to her stool and Fred sat at one on the other side of the counter and they began to eat. He watched carefully as she started to see if she would think to take her headgear out. She picked up some small vegetables on her fork and carefully put them in her mouth under the face bow, closed her lips and pulled them off the fork. She chewed them and swallowed them.

"How come you don't take your headgear out?" Fred finally asked her. "I know it must be hurting you by now and you don't have to eat with it in."

She began to take it off and said, "I wasn't sure how much it should hurt before I should take it out. I didn't know you don't eat with it in." Fred made a note about the pain threshold idea. It way past where the Doctor said it should hurt. They continued eating. Alana asked, "So what kind of things do you do at work? I mean what do you actually do in your testing?"

Fred thought for a second, "Well, testing can get very complex. What's important is creating the test plan." This was all he wanted to tell her.

She smiled, "So how is the test plan coming?" Her smile told him that she had figured out that she was the subject.

"Well, I was making great progress for a while but then I realized there was all kinds of things involving the interaction of the various circuits with each other and with the brain. I guess basically that I'm trying to come up with ideas. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to see if I stumble on anything?" She shook her head. "When you stood very close to me, did it feel funny? Do you know what I mean by personal space?"

"Yes, I stood in your personal space. It felt very warm to me," she said with a straight face.

He gave her a confused look, "But when you do that to someone you're not used to doing it to, it should feel a little uncomfortable." She shook her head. He changed the subject, "Ok, well, after you noticed your mouth hurting, did you not want to take the headgear out to make it stop?"

She thought for a second and then answered, "No, the pain was expected. I figured it wasn't hurting because something was wrong so I didn't need to do anything about it yet." He asked a few more questions before they finished dinner. It turned out she didn't like or dislike most of the food he had made.

When they were finished Fred gathered up the dishes ready for washing up. Before he started, he got an idea. Alana was still sitting at the table watching him. He stopped, turned and said in a loud, rather angry voice, "If you're going to live here you have to pull your weight! Now I cooked the dinner, you wash up!"

She got up, with a slightly guilty look on her face and walked quietly over to where he was standing by the sink and stood in front of the sink. As he looked at her from the side, he could see tears building in her eyes and she began sobbing as she started gathering the cutlery. He then, in a soft voice said, "Alana, I'm sorry to hurt you. I didn't mean what I said. I thought you weren't going to react. I was beginning to think you didn't react negatively to things. I'm sorry. I won't do experiments like that any more." He rubbed his hand slowly over her back to sooth her while he apologized.

She took a tea towel and dried her tears and smiled at him, "I'm so relieved you're not mad." She paused, "I don't understand. I remember how to wash dishes, but I don't ever remember doing it." Fred noticed that her mood changed just like an infant's. She was back to normal. She did, however continue with the dishes. This gave Fred a chance to go back to the computer. He wondered what she would do when she was done.

After a while he figured she would be done and he wandered out to see how things were going. He found her sitting at the kitchen counter. Everything was spotless and the dishes were all washed. She looked up when he entered. She had put her headgear back in, but done nothing else. "What a wonderful job," he complemented her. She thanked him and he asked. "So what do you want to do now?"

"I don't know," she said.

"Were you just going to sit and stare into space until bed time?" Fred asked seriously.

"I guess so," she said, blankly.

Fred was beginning to wonder if her brain just stopped when she had nothing to do. It was like she was half asleep until some stimulus triggered her to wake up. The tester in Fred came alive. He took the other stool over and sat on it right up close to her. She turned her upper body and neck to face him. He took off her neck strap and laid it on the table. She looked at him without expression and he asked, "Did you feel at all uncomfortable when I sat this close to you?"

She replied, "No, not unless you yell at me."

"Don't you want to push me away? Don't you feel I'm getting too personal when I take your strap off? What if it was someone you didn't know?" He handed it back to her and she put it back on. He moved the stool back to a respectable distance while she replied.

"No, it just feels warm," she said with a slight smile, then went serious. "If it was someone I didn't know, I would think I should back away because they may want to hurt me."

Fred got up and went into the living room. Alana just sat and watched him. He took out a CD and put it on the stereo. He turned on the lamps in the living room and turned out the ceiling light. He rolled up the area rug and then beckoned to Alana, "I'm not a very good dancer, but I'm ready to try if you like?"

She got up and walked over to him. Saying nothing, she stood up close and put one arm on his chest, the other in his hand. They began to dance. Fred felt a little awkward, while Alana was graceful. She tried to lean her head toward him, but because she was as tall as he was, the best she could do was to dig her face bow into his shoulder. After the track was over she stopped and look at him, "This I like. Can we keep going?" He just started dancing as the next song began and she followed. This one started show and very quickly picked up so that she was making him bounce around, while they maintained the same stance. By the end of that song, beads of perspiration were forming on her forehead. She released his hand and said, "This shirt is too hot for this. I need to take this off."

Fred's mind suddenly went back to work, 'Pain wasn't a big problem, being warm was?' He pondered it for a second and then returned to reality as he realized Alana had taken off her sweatshirt and was in her bra. "No, no. You have to wear something on top in public!" he said with alarm.

"Oh, she said, let's go see what I've got," she said as she turned and headed for her bedroom. He instinctively followed as if he was afraid she would do something else wrong.

She went into her closet. There were not many clothes in it, but she quickly identified a top that was much cooler and put it on. She stopped and looked at him.

He said, embarrassed, "I'm sorry, I don't usually follow women into their room to change. That was wrong." He paused and then said, "Alana, you mustn't do that again. You should go into your room or a restroom and change there, Ok?"

She looked serious, "I know that. I wonder why I forgot? I think I am still recalling things I knew before I died."

"You didn't die," he corrected her, "Part of your brain died and they replaced that at the lab. When you talk to other people, outside of the office, you should say something like 'the accident'. To make it easier on everyone, we are saying you had an accident and suffered amnesia. You don't remember much about the accident, Ok?"

She nodded and then quickly took his hand and walked swiftly out into the living room, saying, "I want to dance more. I'm really enjoying it." The next song was a little faster. Alana showed him that she could dance very well to faster songs as well. Fred felt a little left behind. After the next song, Fred moved toward the kitchen, saying, "I need a drink. How about you?" She followed, shaking her head. As he was putting back a large drink of water, he noticed she place a hand on her cheek and winced.

She unhooked the strap and took it off, placing it on the counter and then as he put the glass down, she took his hand and walked back to the dance floor. Another song had started and it was a slow one like the first. She took his hand in hers and put her hand on his chest but looked at him rather than leaning her head on him. She said, "Did I do right? I felt a sudden increase in the pain and I took off the strap so the pain would stop. You seemed to think that was important before."

He replied, "Yes, but why did you not take the face bow out. It doesn't do anything without the strap, so you don't need to keep it in."

"I don't know," she said without doing anything. She kept dancing and looking at him, smiling, "Do people do this a lot? I really enjoy it."

"Yes, some people do. Actually they usually go to restaurants or dance clubs where lots of people who like to do this go." Fred realized he was sounding authoritative on a subject he knew very little about.

She got this informed look on her innocent face and said, "Oh." She paused and then asked, "Can we go? Tonight? I want to see how other people dance. I don't know if I'm doing it right." Fred hesitated, not answering. She stopped dancing and stepped back half a step, then pouted and said, "Please?"

Fred was surprised. She had seemed almost emotionless until now. It was like someone had woken her up... she was much more 'normal'. He smiled, "Why not? You're dressed well, let me change my shirt." He went into his room to get changed and she followed. He found a shirt he liked and changed into it. Alana was standing watching as he did. He started to say something and then stopped.

"Oh," she said, "I just did what you did. You said that was wrong. I'm sorry." She was back to her previous self, sounding unemotional. He couldn't deal with it then and told her not to worry this time.

They went for the door and he stopped and checked his pockets... keys, wallet, change, comb, yea that was about all he would need. Then he looked at her. He handed her the purse she had put down when she entered his house earlier that day, "You might need this... and, why do you still have the face bow in your mouth?" he asked with a semi laugh.

"Oh, I don't know," she replied, taking it out and putting it on the hall table where her purse had been.

"Can I suggest," Fred said, "that you put both pieces in your purse. You have the bow here and the strap in the kitchen. You're liable to loose it." He felt like a parent, but she didn't take it that way. She gathered up the two pieces and put them safely in her purse and they left the house. He opened the door for her and she got in. He closed it and ran round to the driver's side and jumped in. "This is getting kind 'of exciting. I haven't been out with a girl for years. I almost forgot what it was like to..." he stopped himself.

"To what?" she asked confused with a slight smile on her face.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't meant to assume..." she continued to look more confused so he finished, "a date! I haven't dated in a very long time, but I don't mean to assume... It's just because you are staying with me." He turned to look behind them as he backed out of the driveway.

"Oh, Ok." She said, "I haven't dated since I... I mean since the 'accident'. I don't remember what it is like." She paused momentarily, "So you can be my first date, Ok?" He agreed, smiling and drove quickly to a place he had heard mentioned at work by his younger co-workers. He knew where it was from the name.

They arrived shortly and the car was parked for them as they went in. "Can I see some identification please, ma'am?" The door man said after Alana announced with a big smile that they had come to dance with all the others." Fred helped her pull out the ID that had been obtained for her by the lab as a part of her new identity. The doorman looked at it and then back at Alana and said, "I'm very sorry ma'am, I guess the braces make you look a lot younger."

They went in and found a couple of seats at a 6-person table that was completely empty. They sat down and almost immediately a server came by and Fred ordered a couple of rum-and-cokes, asking to run a tab, for which he was asked for the credit card in advance. Alana looked confused and he explained, "If I get a tab, the company will pay for it," he said loudly enough that she could hear over the music.

"Why will they do that?" she asked.

"Because this is a very important part of getting you used to society. That is one thing they wanted me to concentrate on helping you with." He told this lie on the grounds that he needed to cover up his real assignment on testing so she wouldn't fake her reactions and wreck the results. "Have you had a drink before... I mean alcoholic?"

"No," she said without expression, just as the server delivered them to the table. Alana drank it down completely before Fred could say anything. "Oh," she said in response to his starting to say something, "I was supposed to drink it slower... Wait, I've had something like that before. You sip on it and it relaxes you. Will I be ok?" she giggled.

"Probably, with only one, but you are supposed to make them last a little longer. I don't know if we know what the effect on the circuits is with drinking. Let me know if you feel very strange... Oh, wait. You said you have those episodes in the evening. What if you have one now?"

"Well, I'll tell you if it happens... It's so loud in here, how about I squeeze your wrist?" That's what the lady in the lab first suggested when she didn't know I could talk ok when it happened." Fred nodded OK to her. "Can we dance?" she asked just as a new song came on.

Fred gulped down his drink and got up. She got up and then looked at him, "I thought you weren't supposed to do that?"

He laughed, nervously and said, "No, but first, I am a little nervous doing this in public and second, this way no one can steal my drink." They wandered up to the dance floor and started dancing. This was a fast song and Fred was a little out of practice. Alana, on the other hand, was in perfect style. Fred admired her well-coordinated moves. They were a little sensual without being outright suggestive. He noted that this was a physical characteristic and the circuits they had implanted where mostly non-physical brain center replacements. It was probable that she was this good before her near-death, whereas her personality was probably not at all similar.

As the dance sets continued, Alana did not show any adverse signs of intoxication, as Fred had feared she might. The night was uneventful and they got home before midnight. Over the next few days Fred completed the creation of his test plan and by that time, he had collected enough observations that his testing was well on its way.

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