9S stares at the soft, pink ribbon sitting in the palm of his hand. He’s… not sure what to make of it, really. Not sure what to think of the ribbon, or of any of this. Had they really just guided a lost machine back to her home? A lost little girl back to her worried older sister? No, that didn’t make any sense–that machine wasn’t a lost little girl, and it certainly didn’t have a sister. He remembers suddenly the machine he’d been watching so long ago, back at the Abandoned Factory;
“Doesn’t matter how much oil you give him, little guy. You can’t make a machine your brother.”
Now he’s beginning to seriously question that. Machines are… were the enemy. They shouldn’t have been able to form familial bonds. Brothers and sisters… that was a concept machines weren’t supposed to be able to fathom. Just being built in the same factory didn’t make you family, after all. For androids or machines…
… Still. The older sister machine had been so worried, her voice so genuinely laced with panic. “Please,” she’d begged them. “Please bring my little sister back.”
“She’s such a sweet little girl.”
It was obvious that she… really cared about her. Now 9S can hear the little sister machine’s voice so clearly in his head; the pure, childish innocence with which she asked him question after question. “Hey, mister,” she’d said. “How do you make children?” God, that was tough to answer. He still can’t believe 2B left him for dead on that one.
Wait, why had he even humored her by answering in the first place?
Now 2B leans over a little bit, peering over his shoulder at the ribbon he holds in his hand. 9S sighs, feeling a little flustered. He doesn’t know how to deal with all this, and he feels exhausted to say the least after trying to explain the mysteries of the universe to that little girl. “Why’d she give me the ribbon and not you?” he asks finally.
He doesn’t really expect an answer, but 2B’s lips quirk upwards just the slightest bit. “Maybe she thought it’d look better on you,” she says. Then, after a beat, adds, “You should wear it.” Her voice doesn’t change much from its usual flat tone, but 9S does detect just a hint of teasing. He blinks at her through his visor.
“Come on, Nines,” he imagines her saying. “Just try it on.” Suddenly, he feels his ears heat up a bit. He averts his eyes.
“Uh, why would I do that?” There’s no practical use to the bow, after all. In fact, it’d probably just get in the way of combat. And besides, if that was what the little sister machine thought then she was mistaken. Trying hard to cover up his embarrassment, 9S fumbles to come up with some excuse better than just, ‘It’s impractical.’ That was something 2B would say–not him.
“Why don’t you wear it, 2B?” he offers finally. “I think it’d look really cute on you!” Well, he’s not lying. He holds it out to her with a positively beaming smile, but of course it doesn’t work.
She snorts at him, which is about the response he was expecting. “Yeah, no. I’m good.” Crossing her arms over her chest, 2B turns away slightly. “Let’s get back to camp.”
9S chuckles. Of course. 2B always was one to try to end the conversation as soon as it became about her, but he decides not to push her… for now. “Roger that,” he agrees. He’d just been trying to bullshit an excuse when he told the little girl that it was getting late, but now he really is exhausted. Their little quarters back at camp have never seemed so welcoming.
His eyes flicker down to the pink ribbon one more time, though, and he grasps it firmly as a desert wind threatens to blow it away.
Well… There’s no harm in holding onto it.
Machines were the enemy, but… now 9S isn’t so sure. There’s no reason to fight if they’re not hostile, right? He imagines the little sister machine before they found her; cowering, scared, alone. There’s an odd feeling tugging at his chest–something that 9S can’t quite place. Frowning, he wraps up the ribbon and tucks it safely into his knapsack.
The next time they visit Pascal’s village, though, it’s fixed firmly to the top of his head.