People own Jake 2.0. None of which are me.
“Hey Diane- ahem-” Jake began nervously. “Look Diane, I know we agreed to be friends. Sorta, in a kinda roundabout, not really talking about it sort of way. The thing is I don’t want to be your friend. I care about you. I mean, I always cared about you, but I really I care
care about you. What I’m trying to say is- Ahh!”
He jumped at the sudden pounding on the door, running his hands through his hair as he took a few calming breathes. “Coming.” He called out.
care?” Jake muttered to himself as he made his way to the door. “I don’t want to be your friend? God I’m pathetic. She should
slam the door in my face with that.”
Shaking his head to try and clear his thoughts as he opened the door Jake said. “If you’re selling something I ain’t bu-Darin?”
Jake blinked in confusion at the grinning face of his old roommate.
“I thought you were kidding about living above a twenty four hour deli.” Darin told him, a smirk firmly in place. “Don’t the fried peppers drive you homicidal?”
“Darin?” Jake repeated.
“Little slow on the uptake today, are we pal?”
“I thought you were in Pittsburgh?”
“I was. Now I’m here. So…”
Darin left the sentence hanging and it took Jake a second to realize they were still standing in the hall.
“Oh, yeah right.” Jake said as he made room for Darin in the doorway. “C’mon in.”
“No?” Jake questioned, confused why one of his best friends would come to DC, visit him and not come inside.
“You’re coming out.” Darin stated simply.
“What’s wrong with my apartment.”
“Many things I’m sure.” Darin smirked as he through his arm over Jake’s shoulder. “But I know you Jake and you’re probably sitting in the dark watching football or sci-fi.”
He hurried on as Jake opened his mouth to protest.
“And that is not how I want to spend my homecoming celebration when there is a perfectly good bar right down the street. So go.” Darin told him with a shooing motion. “Get dressed into something that doesn’t scream geek so much and let’s go.”
A dazed and confused Jake walked towards his bedroom, his shirt held out from his chest as he inspected it. “My clothes aren’t geeky.”
“God I hate tequila.” Darin declared as he smacked his lips together and signalled the waitress for another round.
Jake laughed. “Then why do you keep drinking it?”
“‘Cause you suck with it.” Darin answered. “I always get the best blackmail material when you get plastered on tequila.”
“That’s why you- you-” Jake stumbled for a word before indignantly saying. “You’re evil.”
“Dr. Evil to you.”
Rolling his eyes Jake groaned. “That’s a bad one even for you.”
“Like you could hurt anyone bro.”
“I’m too sober to try.” Jake told him with a chuckle, but Darin noticed it didn’t reach his eyes. A brief flash of- well something- was there so fast that Darin almost thought he imagined it. Almost.
“Soooo.” Darin drawled, masking his unease as he changed the subject. “What’s new in the life of Foley?”
“Oh same old, same old.” Jake said in a casual tone that told Darin it was anything but. “Go to work, come home, crash, go to work again.”
“Uh huh, sure. I believe you. Really I do. I’m not just saying that.” He told him in his most (in)sincere tone. “Didn’t you have a thing going with Sarah?”
Jake snorted. “For about two minutes, yeah.”
“What happened man? I thought she was your one and only, soul mate, forever type person, and all that crap?”
“It just-” Jake paused for a second before finally finding the best words he could think of for his feelings. “It just wasn’t like I thought it would be.”
“Yeah.” Darin agreed. “Reality can be one cold bitch. I don’t see the appeal.”
Jake laughed. There was bitterness in it that Darin had never heard in his friend before. “You have no idea.”
The conversation was getting way too serious for Darin’s liking and he found himself searching his mind of half remembered phone calls for a change of subject. “What about that chick you took to Kevin’s wedding? I heard she was a hottie.”
“Diane?” Jake choked out around a mouthful of beer. “We- we’re just friends.”Jackpot.
Darin thought as he heard the subtle emphasis on ‘friends’. This he could tease about.
“’Friends’ friends or ‘friends with benefits’ friends?” He asked with a grin.
Darin laughed out loud as Jake sputtered looking aghast. “Friend friends Darin! Just friends.”
“You wish it was friends with benefits though.” Darin told him with a knowing grin.
“Alright, alright. Enough about me and my love life. Or lack there of.” Jack said as he regained his composure. “What’s happening with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Not going to make this easy are you?”
“Do I ever?”
“So why the visit?” Jake asked before adding. “Not that I’m not glad to see you and all.”
“Ya, sure, I’m hurt. There could be tears.”
“I’m not visiting. I moved back two weeks ago. I’d have come by sooner but I’ve pretty much been sleeping at the lab getting everything up and running.”
“Moved back?” Jake asked stunned. “Wait, lab?”
“Yup.” Darin said as he downed his next shot and Jake’s when it lay ignored. “When they packed me up I ended up doing tech support gofer work crap over at a research place over in the Pitt.”
He leaned back in his chair, almost tipping over as he signalled the waitress for another round. “Anyways, there was this one researcher there who was working on this computer stuff, really cutting edge man. You’d totally geek out over it.”
He grinned as Jake rolled his eyes at the jibe.
“So one day I’m fixing one of the researcher’s downed systems. The Doc could totally have done it but was always too busy with the research to bother about one busted computer. I happened to glance at the screen they were working on.”
At Jake’s disbelieving look he amended. “Alright, I snooped. Happy?”
Jake nodded with a self-satisfied grin.
“So I snuck a glance at the screen-” Jake smirked at him. “And noticed something wrong with the code they were working on. Just a typo, but the small errors can be the biggest bitch to catch later on ya know?
“The next day I come in and my desk is packed up, I’m moved into their lab and labelled a research assistant. Still basically a glorified gofer, but the pays a lot better so who am I to complain right?”
“That still doesn’t explain why you’re in DC again.” Jake pointed out.
“I’m getting there. Patience young grasshopper.” Darin told him mock chidingly. “Where was I? Oh right! So about a month ago the Doc makes this big breakthrough that gets the bigwigs all tingly. Suddenly we’re order to pack it in and move everything closer to the main office.”
“Should you be telling me this stuff?” Jake asked.
Darin shrugged. “It’s going to be common knowledge soon anyways.”
“Totally.” Darin grinned. “I told you it was cutting edge. It’s gonna change the world bro.”
“If you say so.”
Darin’s eyes lit up and an expression came across his face that made Jake cringe. Trouble usually followed.
“Why don’t you come check it out tomorrow?”
Jake blinked back at his friend and spoke slowly. “Because it’s classified and I’m a tech?”
“Bah!” Darin waved him off. “There going public with it soon anyways. No harm giving you a preview. I’m sure I can swing it with the Doc.”
“Alright. I’ll be there.” Jake said.
“You’re humouring me aren’t you?”
“Would I do that?”
Jake brought a finger to his chin pretending like he was thinking hard. “I would wouldn’t I? Fancy that.” He said as he motioned for another round of beers. The night was still young after all and the two still had a lot of catching up to do.
Darin couldn’t help laughing to himself though, that Jake never touched another tequila shot that night.
The building didn’t look like anything special from the outside. Two stories, red brick, windows scattered here and there, it was pretty plain looking really. Of course, Jake figured that was probably the point. It looked just like a number of other buildings in the area.
Inside was a different story. While only two stories above ground there were another four below. All full of state of the art equipment and brilliant minds. And of course there was the security fitting for a top-secret research facility. Which was where Jake found himself as he entered the building.
“I need to check the bag too ma’am.” He heard the security guard say as he stepped inside.
“Here you go Jeffery.” Wait a minute. Jake knew that voice.
The woman in question spun around in surprise. Unfortunately she was still handing the guard her purse and the man had to lunge and catch it before it and it’s contents spilled to the floor.
“Jake? Uh, hi. What are you doing here?”
“Just visiting a friend.”
“Oh, ah, that’s nice.”
“Yeah, Darin works here.” Jake told her; all the while wishing things weren’t so awkward between them lately. No matter how hard they try things just haven’t been the same since Philadelphia. “I don’t think you’ve met Darin before.”
“No, no I haven’t.”
Jeffery turned to the other guard with a knowing smile before stepping further out of earshot to give the kids some privacy.
“What about you?” Jake asked. “What are you doing at this secret government lab when you got your own secret government lab?” He finished lamely.
“Oh! It’s about the-” She stopped and caste a glance towards the guards before lowering her voice. “It’s about the nanites. Dr. Gage used to work out of here before the NSA moved him to Fort Meade. One of the lead programmers from the initial stages of the project still works here and consults sometimes.”
“I didn’t know there were other programmers.”
“Well, ya. It’s a big project for one man to do everything.”
“I guess that makes sense. So there’s like this whole team of people out there who know about the nanites?”
Diane shook here head. “No. Dr. Gage was a complete control freak. He still did the bulk of the work himself. The other programmers were doing piecework and weren’t actually told anything. Only a few of the lead programmers had any inkling at all about what they were really working on. And even then Dr. Gage didn’t really tell them much.”
“Dr. Rhodes.” Diane supplied helpfully.
“This Dr. Rhodes was told more than most but still not much?”
“He figured most of it out for himself.” She told him. “He was a big help with that upgrade you nearly killed yourself with.”
Diane tried to hide a grin as Jake fidgeted under her glare before waving her arm past the security station. “Shall we?”
“We shall.” Jake said almost too eagerly.
“Excuse me sir.” The younger of the two guards said as he cut Jake off from the entrance into the facility proper. “Do you even have clearance to be-”
“Jake! There you are man!” Darin called as he came down the hall. As he approached them he turned to the two guards. “Ben, Jeffery. This is the brilliant code man I was telling you about. Doc Erikson’s been waiting for him.”
Diane gave Jake a questioning look over her glasses.
Jake responded with a look that just said ‘go with it’.
“Here.” The younger of the two guards said as he shoved a clipboard into Jakes chest. “Sign in here.
The older guard offered his hand with a warm smile. “Hi Jake. Names Jeffery. Any friend of Darin’s is… well bound to be trouble. Just don’t burn the place down.”
Jake chuckled. “Two weeks and you already got Darin pegged.”
Darin’s indignant “Hey!” was ignored by all.
“Alright, alright enough of that. Are you going to introduce me to the pretty lady or do I have to take matters into my own hands?”
“Darin Metcalf this is Diane Hughes. Play nice.” Jake quickly added in. “Diane Hughes this is Darin Metcalf. Anything he tells you is a stone cold lie I swear.”
“Diane?” Darin asked as he shook her hand and gave Jake a knowing look. “The Diane?”
“I have a ‘the’ now? Just what have you been telling him anyways?” She gave Jake a suspicious look.
“Nothing but praises I assure you.” Darin said as he raised Diane’s hand in a failed imitation of a gentlemanly gesture. “So Diane, would you like to see the future?”
Diane blinked blankly at the strange man for a moment before offering a smile. “With an invitation like that how could I refuse?”
“I don’t believe it!” Diane said in amazement once they were in the lab.
Darin grinned as he sat at the station next to Susan’s. “I know pretty amazing huh? Oh! Jake Foley, Diane Hughes, this is Dr. Susan Erikson.”
Jake arched an eyebrow at his friend. “Nice to meet you Dr. Erikson.”
Both men were ignored as Susan spoke to her fellow doctor as if neither man had spoken. “Yes. Not only is her super-intelligence increasing exponentially but she took genuine initiative.”
“Well you did predict it Susan.” Darin said trying to break in before it could become, what he knew from experience working in a building of scientists, a drawn out conversation of techno-babble that would mostly go over his head. “You just didn’t think it could happen two days after activation.”
“Yes, Claire’s going beyond my wildest expectations.”
“Hey, Jake.” Darin gestured to his screen. “Take a look at this.”
“Wow.” Jake whispered in awe as he peered over his friend’s shoulder.
He had seen code before. A lot of it in fact. It had always almost spoken to him. Even before the nanites. During his schooling he’d understood coding on a level most never would. It was easy. People, on the other hand weren’t. Which probably explained his social life back then too.
“This, this is just beautiful.”
Susan blushed at the praise. It always felt good when someone who could truly understand her work offered such compliments.
“Yes,” Diane added. “This is amazing. Darin wasn’t kidding about his future comment.”
Susan’s smile broadened. “Do you want to meet her?”
“Meet her?” Jake asked.
She shot a look his way before turning to the computers. “Claire? Say hello Claire.”
At the silence that met her Susan shared a worried look with Darin. “Claire are you there? Claire?”
Everyone jumped as the large wall screen came to life, the image filled with white. After a moment a young girl in a pink dressed stepped into view. “Hi, mommy.” She spoke in a hesitant digitized voice.
“Oh my god!” Susan gasped excitedly. “She’s personified herself.”
“It’s good to see you Mommy. And you Daddy.” The child continued, her speech becoming more flowing with each word, but still with a slight crackling quality to it.
Darin sat stunned. “Daddy?”
“Congratulations Dad.” Jake quipped half-heartedly. His eyes never wavered from the screen.
“Hello.” Claire greeted as she stepped forward until her head and shoulders filled the screen. Her gaze had turned to the still standing Jake and Diane. “Who are you?”
Jake looked around before pointing a finger at himself. “Who? Me?”
“I’m Jake Foley.” He told her with a startled laugh.
Beside him Diane introduced herself as well. “And I’m Doctor Diane Hughes.”
An image of Jake from the security camera appeared on one of the side screens. Data streamed through the others too fast to read. Though Jake thought he saw his NSA file pass through in the stream.
Suddenly the data disappeared and Claire spoke. “Your nanite enhancements have tuned your body to 99.3 perfect male specimen Jake Foley.” Almost as an afterthought she added. “Proportionally speaking.”
“Ahh… Thanks?” Jake replied uncomfortably. He honest didn’t have any clue how to reply to that.
“Nanites?” Darin questioned looking back at Jake.
Jake just sighed and shook his head in response. “You might want to teach her the definition of classified.”
“Are you sure you’re alright Claire.” Susan asked ignoring the exchange. Her eyes were glued to the readings on the terminal before her. “Your general functions are showing signs of overload.”
“Projecting a human form is very taxing on my logarithmic programming.”
Darin turned away from Jake and nodded. “That makes sense.”
“It should get easier as your neural network continues to grow.” Susan assured her.
“But right now I think I’m what you call tired.” Claire said as her eyes began to drupe.
“Well,” Diane suggested. “Maybe you should- ah- take a nap.”
“I think I will.” Claire smiled. “Goodnight.”
The screen went dark as Claire put her systems into sleep mode.
“Did we just put a computer to bed?” Jakes asked.
“This is amazing!” Diane exclaimed as she went to Susan’s side. “Just how closely can she mimic the human mind?”
Susan smiled proudly. “She can think and deduce and reason just like human beings do just faster, better…”
“This is the breakthrough of the century Dr. Erikson.” Diane gushed.
“Please Dr. Hughes, call me Susan.”
“Only if you call me Diane.”
The guys walked a little ways away from the burgeoning shoptalk and Jake clapped Darin on the back. “Congratulations man. This is… well… amazing doesn’t even begin to cover it.”
“Thanks Jake.” Darin said before trying to change the subject to an earlier comment. “So, nanites? What’s that about?”
Jake just shook his head and Darin understood he wasn’t going to get anything about it. He was willing to let the matter drop. For now at least. He was actually more worried his friend was going to get all serious on him.
Of course that was only until Jake gave him a grin and said. “Susan huh? You never mentioned that part last night. So are you two ‘friend’ friends or ‘friend with benefits’ friends?”