10.2

Sam and Elizabeth stared up at the hallway light expectantly. It flickered a few times and Elizabeth threw up her hands.

“I mean the house has always been a bit weird but come on. There’s nothing wrong with the wiring, there’s never been a problem with this light before.”

“I’m telling you it’s a side effect. Everything is going to be quirky around him.” Sam gestured towards the far end of the hall.

“He’s way down there, how can it spread to this light without affecting the others first?”

“I don’t know, Liz. It’s fine though, the bulb isn’t getting blown.”

“I just don’t understand it. Maybe if I talked to him-” She started towards Calvin’s room but Sam grabbed her shoulder.

“He’s still not really responsive. Just leave it be for now and question him when he can answer.”

“Fine. But I get to talk to him before he leaves.”

“Yes, of course. Now go back to your work and stop worrying about blinking lights.” He waited until her footsteps sounded in the stairwell to stroll over the Mr. Sutro’s room. The door was open as always and inside Calvin was sitting up staring out the window with his little floor bot at the foot of the bed. “Could you at least try not to get the house too attached to you? I don’t know how to cheer up a heartbroken building.”

Calvin shifted slightly and looked down at the robot. Sam walked over to it and picked it up. Calvin reacted instantly, reaching out for it and furrowing his brow. “Nnh.”

Sam frowned at him, “Way to make me a liar, suddenly waking up like that. I’m not going to hurt it, if that’s what you’re worried about.” He set the robot back down on the bed and it struggled over to Calvin, who picked it up and held it close, shutting his eyes. “Oh don’t shut down again.”

Calvin set the robot down again and resumed staring out the window.

“Sarah thinks we should start having you interact more soon. Maybe join us for a quieter meal and try and rebuild your communication skills. So probably in a day or two if you stay stable like this.” Sam waited hopefully but there was no response. He turned to leave and hesitated, “Oh and can you try and discourage the light at the far end of the hall from blinking so much, it’s driving Elizabeth nuts.” He stepped out into the hall and shut the door behind him. At the door to the stairwell he stopped and watched the light at the end of the hall. It started to blink and then stopped immediately. Sam frowned at it and headed downstairs.

***

At lunch Sam watched Jessie disassemble her sandwich halfheartedly, not really interested in his own food. She started eating the bread slowly and Sam finally remembered to take a bite of his own.

“What on earth is wrong with you two? You’re not getting sick are you?” Elizabeth shoved the kitchen door open with her hip, balancing a tray of snacks and a pitcher of water.

“Jessie eat more than just the bread.” Sam muttered. Jessie put the bread down and started pointedly eating a piece of lettuce, looking up at him.

“You too, Sam. Lead by example.”

“I eat just fine.” Sam took another bite of his sandwich and coughed a little as he swallowed too fast. Jessie giggled a little and moved from her piece of lettuce to a bit of meat.

“After what you two just went through you need to put meat back on those bones.” Elizabeth waggled a carrot at him and he grimaced.

“I could’ve sworn I only had one mother.”

Elizabeth chuckled and took a bite of her weapon, sitting down across from them. “I’ve been detecting a few abnormalities in the system around your room, by the way. Getting any weird blinking lights or anything?”

“No, nothing out of the ordinary.” Sam finished off half of his meal at the same time as Jessie and poured himself some water. Jessie grabbed the glass immediately and drank some, setting it back down next to him, “Do you want some water, Jess?” he asked, bemused.

“No, I’m fine.” She went back to eating her dissected sandwich as Elizabeth barely contained a snort.

“Oh it’s nice having you two home again. Brings so much color to the place.”

“Aunt Elizabeth I need a new light in my room, it went out last night and didn’t come back.”

“Well why don’t we fix that after lunch, okay?”

Jessie nodded and started on the final piece of bread.

“Sarah wants Mr. Sutro to join us for lunch, possibly tomorrow. She’s hoping it’ll help rebuild his communication skills to be around conversation.” Sam drank more of his water, losing interest in the small bit of sandwich he hadn’t finished.

“Am I allowed to ask questions?” Elizabeth forgot about her own food for the moment.

“You can ask but the most I’ve gotten out of him is a grunt. Just don’t overwhelm him.”

“What about Mr. Jerret? Can he come to lunch?” Jessie asked.

Sam turned a little in his chair to look at her, “Jessie, what do you mean?”

“I, um, he…” She realized her mistake too late and shrunk down in her chair.

“Jessica Mitchell, did you go into the hospitality wing after I explicitly forbid it?”

“I was just… Mr. Calvin…” She kept trailing off, staring down at the floor.

“Sam…” Elizabeth tried to interrupt but Sam held up a hand at her.

“Answer the question, Jessie.”

“I’m sorry, I just wanted to-”

“I told you to stay out of there for a reason!” Sam landed a fist heavily on the table and Jessie and Elizabeth both jumped.

“I’m sorry!”

“Next time I tell you to stay out of somewhere listen, this is how you get in trouble!”

“Sam, stop it.” Elizabeth reached over and put a hand over his just as Jessie shifted suddenly and disappeared under the table, leaving a chair full of empty clothing behind.

“Gods dammit.” Sam growled a little stopping himself short of hitting the table again.

“See what happens when you yell? Now we’re gonna have to search the whole house for her. And that’s if she stayed inside.”

“I’ll go start looking.” Sam stood up but she grabbed his hand and held on.

“Go cool off first. You’ve been under a lot of stress lately and it’s showing.”

“But… Yeah.” Sam nodded, relaxing a little, “Let me know if you find her?”

“Of course.” She smiled at him and he tried to smile back, not quite succeeding.

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