“No problem,” Joshua shouted back at the two men that were struggling to lift the biggest turkey that any of them had ever seen out of the oven without burning themselves.
Justin winked at his lover as he accepted the brandy glass. “You okay?”
Joshua smiled back. “Yeah. I’m excited. It’s my first thanksgiving.”
Lance walked in from the kitchen, his face flushed as he wiped his hands on his apron. “Justin can I have a word?”
“Sure.” Confused Justin followed Lance over to the far side of the room.
“I thought I should warn you..” The doorbell ringing interrupted him.
“Warn me about what?”
“Joey invited Sam.” Just them a tall blond man with deep green eyes came into the room. He grinned widely and whooped, sweeping Justin into his arms before kissing him passionately.
“Stop!” Justin pushed the man away from him, backing off. “What are you doing here Sam?”
“I met Joe in the market this afternoon and he invited me. I thought you’d be pleased to see me.”
“Well I … I am,” Justin stammered. “I’m shocked that’s all. You left so suddenly.” Justin became aware of Joshua’s eyes watching him and he looked up catching the pained fear they contained. “Josh baby, this is Sam. Sam and me used to be together. Sam this is my lover Joshua.”
The blond looked the android up and down then reluctantly held out his hand.
Joshua snuggled as close as he could get to Justin and glared threateningly at the new arrival, not attempting to shake the offered hand.
An awkward silence followed, but was broken by Chris skipping into the room, whooping as he caught sight of his old friend, defusing the situation in his enthusiasm to catch up.
Dinner was served and after they were all too stuffed to move Joshua cleared away the table. As soon as he left the room Sam descended on Justin once more.
“So how have you been?”
“For the most part fine. It took me a while to get over you leaving.”
Sam took Justin’s hand in his. “I didn’t want to go. My folks found out about us. They were scared I’d get press-ganged into service. I tried to contact you, but my dad called yours. They intercepted my calls.” The blond stroked the back of Justin’s hand tenderly. “I loved you so much Jup. I still do.” He leaned in kissing Justin’s lips softly. “God you taste so good.”
Justin turned his face away. “Don’t Sam, I’ve moved on. I have Josh now.”
“I have a licence Justin. An open licence. I came back for you.”
Justin began to shake. “For me? Why?”
Sam held both his hands in his. “Because I love you Justin. I have always loved you. I want to make babies and live happily ever after with you.”
*Babies, he wants babies*. Babies were the one thing that Joshua couldn’t give Justin.
Justin was torn. He had Joshua now and Josh loved him completely, unconditionally, but Sam was offering him a family. He was real not a fake illusion of life. Swallowing hard Justin asked, “Is that a proposal?”
Sam grinned, “yeah, marry me Justin.”
Justin nodded his head, tears in his eyes oblivious to the fact Joshua had witnessed the whole thing.
A pained cry caught Justin’s attention and he looked up at his automated lover, who was standing with tears rolling down his face.
“You said you loved me!”
“Josh please try to understand.” Justin jumped to his feet and attempted to take the distraught android in his arms.
“I love you. I love you Justin!” The tears were flowing like a waterfall now, Joshua becoming more and more upset.
“Josh please. Understand. He can give me babies, a family. You can’t.”
“That’s not my fault.”
“I know that baby. But please try to understand. Sam’s real, you, you’re just an android.”
“He’s a what?” The cry came from everyone in the room. Joey, Lance and Chris converged on Joshua, looking at him closely.
“You let a fucking android look after my kids?” Joey screamed incensed.
“Yes I let him,” Justin screamed back. “And don’t you forget it was him that got your kids back for you. So don’t go attacking him. You want to be mad with someone be mad with me. He’s not programmed to tell people he is an android unless they ask him straight out.”
Lance spoke quietly. “I think maybe we should call it a night.”
Everyone agreed, only Joshua stood unmoving and unspeaking. His arms wrapped around his body as he sobbed relentlessly.
“We need to discuss this in private,” Sam said. “I’ll follow you back to your place.”
Justin just nodded and took Joshua by the arm, leading him out to the car.
The journey home was made in silence, broken only by the heart wrenching sobs that emanated from the shattered android. They entered their apartment also in silence, Sam following behind. Justin poured himself a large brandy, swallowing it down then refilling his glass again before offering one to his old flame.
Joshua stood against the wall, his eyes reddened from the constant crying. Justin looked at him sadly. *So real, so fucking real.* “Joshua,” he said, “what we had was wonderful but I have the chance of a real relationship now. I still love Sam with all my heart and I want a family.”
“But I love you.” That simple statement justified everything to Joshua.
“I know you do baby.”
Joshua’s eyes filled once more and his mouth trembled along with his voice. “But you don’t love me anymore do you?”
“I care about you.”
“What do you want me to do?”
Justin sighed, “I don’t know. But I think maybe you should stay in the spare room till I decide.”
Choking back his sobs Joshua lowered his head and walked saddened to the spare bedroom door, he paused his hand on the handle, his eyes rooted to the thick cream carpet. “I love you Justin,” he wept as he opened the door and went inside closing it silently behind him.
It was only then that Justin broke down, weeping bitterly in Sam’s strong arms. “I’ve hurt him so much Sam.”
“He’s an android, he doesn’t matter. What matters is us. You and me.” Justin let himself be kissed and led into his bedroom.
Sam moved in the next day and Joshua was banished to the spare room full time. He sat on the bed staring out of the window. Devastated in his grief. His Justin didn’t love him anymore. He could hear Justin and Sam as they giggled and frolicked in the living room and he wept again.
Three weeks later Sam made an announcement. “He has to go Justin. I don’t trust him.” Sam pulled Justin on to his lap and kissed at his neck “He’s so in love with you his jealousy could come between us.”
“He can’t be reprogrammed.”
“Then what are we going to do?” Sam asked as he stroked Justin’s hair.
“I’ll take him back to Mantronics in the morning. They will know what to do. Why does it hurt Sam? I never meant to use him like this.”
Sam hugged Justin tight. “He’s a robot, a machine. Just keep telling yourself that.”
Justin sighed and snuggled into his new lover.
“Where are we going?” Joshua asked excitedly. Justin had told him that he was going to spend the day with him. Joshua had happily packed a picnic basket packed with all of Justin’s favourite foods. He now sat beaming in the front seat of Justin’s car as they drove down the freeway.
“There’s a picnic area just a few miles down here, we can be alone.”
“I missed you Justin. I love you so much.”
Justin sighed sadly. “I know and I do care deeply for you too. Lets just have a nice day okay?”
They spent the morning sitting in the secluded wooded area, Joshua curled into Justin’s lap. The blond man played with the androids brunette curls and hugged him lovingly knowing it would be for the last time. They kissed and made love in the bright sunshine.
“Will Sam be leaving Justin?”
“We’ll see. Come on darling, I have a call to make before we go home. I have to drop the final advertising draft into Mantronics.”
They drove in silence yet again, Joshua leaning into his lover. Kevin Richardson greeted them in his office a grim look on his face.
“How are you Joshua?”
“I’m good, Justin and me are going to stay together.”
Kevin frowned at the young man that was trying not to cry. “You haven’t told him.”
Justin shook his head. “I couldn’t. I thought it best this way.”
“Tell me what?” Joshua asked suddenly afraid.
Kevin walked forward and took the androids hands in his. “You are not going back with Justin. He has returned you to Mantronics.”
Joshua started shaking his head, backing away. “No … please no. Justin please. I’ll be good … I’ll stay in my room. Don’t leave me here please.”
Justin started to cry. “I have to. I’m sorry Josh … I’m so sorry.”
“JUSTIN I LOVE YOU!” The android threw himself to his knees, clutching tightly to his former owners legs.
Richardson pressed a button on his desk and two men came in and took Joshua by his arms, dragging the distressed android from the room.
“When will he be destroyed?” Justin didn’t really want to know.
“In the morning. You have to be present I’m afraid. Its company policy with the JC unit. Because of the strong emotions that they are capable of. You have to sign to say that you saw him disposed of. It’s a safety thing for you. You know he’s not going to start stalking you or murder your new lover.”
“Oh god! Okay.” Justin found himself crying harder. “What time?”
“I’ll be here.” Justin shook Richardson’s hand. He looked once more at the door that Joshua had been dragged through before leaving, his heart breaking in two.
He resisted Sam when he tried to talk him into bed that night, choosing instead to sit staring out into the garden all night, a thing that he had gotten used to seeing Joshua doing. The house seemed strangely empty without the androids presence. The smell changed, it no longer seemed like home. Justin sat and watched the sun come up and rise higher in the sky. Sam came up behind him, wrapping his arms around his waist.
“You want me to come with you?” he asked.
Justin shook his head. “No, I don’t want you to be the last thing he sees.”
“He’s just a robot Justin. They’ll pull his plug and dismantle him that’s it.”
Justin stood sadly and accepted the offered hug. “I’ll see you later.”
By the time he reached Mantronics his nerves were in tatters. Richardson met him at the door of his office. “Good you are prompt. Lets get this over with shall we?”
He led Justin down a staircase to a cold stark laboratory. In the middle of the room was a tall glass case and inside, naked and crying was Joshua.
He looked up seeing Justin and pressed his hands against the cold glass. His hopes rising.
Richardson indicated for Justin to sit down. “It will take approximately an hour to destroy Joshua.”
“Why so long?” Justin asked horrified.
The only way to destroy a JC series is to dissolve them in acid.
“Oh Jesus!” Justin hid his face in his hands.
In the case Joshua began to whimper with terror, he looked up at the vent that was above his head then began banging on the glass, screaming, begging for Justin to save him.
“WAIT! Aren’t you going to switch him off?”
Richardson looked at Joshua who was now hysterical. “It’s impossible. When you completed his programming his original program was overwritten. He can’t be turned off.”
“Well at least turn off his pain receptors!” Justin almost screamed. As if to reinforce Justin’s words Joshua let out a terrified, pained scream as a single drop of acid dripped on to his shoulder.
“I’m sorry Justin, it’s not possible.”
“He’ll feel it. He’ll suffer.” Justin was crying openly again. Joshua had slid down to the floor and was pressed as far into the corner of the glass case as he could, his eyes fixed on the acid vent. He shook with terror and his lips moved whispering. Another drip of acid hit him on his back and he screamed, slapping his hands against the glass. “Justin, help me … Help me. Don’t burn me … I love you. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die!”
Joshua’s voice was panicked, he looked up at Justin, red eyed and shaking. “Don’t burn me please don’t burn me Justin.”
Richardson’s finger hovered over the switch that would release the acid over Joshua’s head. He looked sadly over to Daniel who stood ashen faced by the far wall then with a soft sigh he whispered, "goodbye Joshua." Inside the acid tank Joshua began to scream.