The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ©2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox.Chapter One
“I’m looking for my boyfriend Warren,” April announced. “He comes from here and I need him. But it’s confusing and I’ve already walked a really long way. I’m sure he’s nearby.”
One of the young men in the coffee shop grinned. “Oh, Warren
,” he said. “You're looking for Warren?”
“Yes!” April’s mouth formed into a wide smile. “Do you know him? Do you know where he is?”
The young man closed one eye. The other remained focused on April’s spectacular cleavage. “Man, let me think.”
“Please think,” April urged him.
“Geez, this is too bad, you, you just missed him,” the young man said. His grin grew wider.
April’s smile changed into a pout. “Yes? Where did he go?”
“Warren? Uh, he headed out.” The youth pointed down the street. “Uh, that way. Hurry, you might catch him.”
“Oh, thank you. I was getting very tired. Thank you.” April spun on her heel and walked out of the coffee shop.
“Pretty girl,” one member of the group of young men commented. “Who’s Warren?”
The one who had directed April shrugged. “Hell if I know. But he’s one lucky guy to have a hot chick like that chasing after him.”- - - - -
“Control F,” Warren muttered, as his fingers danced over the keys. “Replace all.”
“What the hell is going on?” Katrina demanded. “It’s like you don’t even want me to be here.”
“That’s totally not true,” said Warren, his eyes still focused on the laptop screen, “but this is real urgent, okay? I did something dumb a while back and now it’s come back to bite me in the ass. If I don’t fix it real quick it could get dangerous. For me, and maybe for you. I don’t want that. You have to let me get on with fixing it. I’ll explain later, I promise.”
“Well, okay,” Katrina agreed, “but I don’t like it. And why can’t I help? I’m as good with coding as you are.”
“I’d have to explain before you could help and there just isn’t time,” Warren said. “Ex, ex, ex, ex, search again. Crap, missed one. Insert. Search and replace, yeah, so far so good.” He fell silent, chewed on his lower lip, and typed furiously.
Katrina waited, tapping her fingers on her thigh, and eventually lost patience. “I don’t get how computer code could put us in danger. You don’t have... hey, you haven’t been hacking into military sites or something?”
“Delete, delete... check, search, search item not found – yeah!” Warren turned away from the screen. “I made a robot,” he confessed. “It works totally brilliantly. I just did one thing wrong. I didn’t include the Three Laws of Robotics. Uh, actually I did more than just the one thing wrong. She thinks she’s my girlfriend.”
“Oh?” Katrina’s eyes opened very wide. “Now what could have given her that idea? And, hey, why do you say ‘she’?”
“I was dumb, stupid, and I hadn’t gotten to know you yet,” Warren said, “but hey, can we not do this yet? If we’re gonna fight about it can it be after I’ve fixed things so you’re not in any danger?”
“So you made a robot girlfriend and you’re scared she’s gonna get jealous and violent,” Katrina deduced.
“That’s about it,” Warren confirmed. “Uh, could you check this out for me? This isn’t quite the same as the original Asimov Three Laws. I don’t want her running around trying to be friggin’ International Rescue any more than being the Terminator. I’m hoping this version would make her act like a normal human.”
“Normal humans do some pretty bad things,” Katrina reminded him, “but okay, I’ll take a look.” She scrutinized the revised Three Laws. “I don’t see any catch,” she said after a minute’s thought. “Not that it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”
“As long as it’s good enough for government work,” said Warren. “Time’s running out. I’ll go with this.” He saved the file and unplugged the laptop’s power cord. “I have to intercept and neutralize her. You stay here.”
“And you think that’s a good idea exactly why?” Katrina challenged him. “You obviously think she’s heading this way and that it wouldn’t be a good idea for her to meet me. Suppose you don’t intercept her and she turns up here?”
Warren frowned. “Yeah, good thinking, not that I would expect anything else from you,” he said. “Okay, you slip out the back way, circle round, and pretend you don’t know me until I give you the all clear.”
“When this is over you’d better have a damn good explanation,” Katrina warned, “otherwise the not knowing you is gonna last a lot longer than that.”
“Just so long as you’re safe, that’s what matters most,” said Warren. He gathered up the laptop and headed for the front door. He pulled it open and was confronted by a small blonde girl with her hand poised to knock.
“I have to talk to you,” said the girl.
“It will have to wait,” Warren said, trying to dodge past her.
“No, it really won’t,” she replied. She stuck out a hand to block his progress.
Warren squinted at her. “I know you, right? Buffy something, transferred over to Sunnydale High the year before I left? Really into martial arts?”
“That’s me,” Buffy confirmed. “Buffy Summers. I have to talk to you about April.”
“No, I have to do something about April,” Warren said, “before she hurts someone.”
“Oh.” Buffy lowered her arm and allowed Warren to leave the house. “So you’re going to do something about it? That’s definitely of the good.”
“It’s my mess, I have to fix it,” Warren said. “I can’t risk Katrina getting hurt.” He walked out onto the sidewalk and Buffy trotted at his heels. “I’m guessing you know that April is a robot?”
“I kinda figured that out, yeah,” Buffy confirmed, “what with the creepy fixation and the super-strength and things. Although that could mean vampire, I guess, but, hey, she goes out in the daylight, so, not so much.”
“Vampire?” Warren paused mid-stride, gathered himself, and moved on. “Yeah, she’s a robot. I, uh, made her to be company.”
“She’s a sex-bot, you mean,” Buffy corrected him.
“Uh, you could say that,” Warren admitted. “I made her before I met Katrina. I wasn’t good at, uh, picking up girls, and I thought April would fill the gap. I made her to be everything I thought I wanted. Only, then Katrina was in my engineering seminar, and she’s really funny and cool, and unpredictable, and she builds these little monorails that run with magnets, and, hey, I fell in love with her.”
“Monorails with magnets? I never thought of that as a dating strategy. Although, it’s not like I wanted to attract nerds. Anyway, why didn’t you shut the robot down?”
“I didn’t give her an off switch,” said Warren. “I just, like, thought that she’d run down her batteries and that would be that. Only she must be recharging herself. She has a survival imperative. What she doesn’t have is the other two of the Three Laws of Robotics.”
“Three Laws of Robotics?” Buffy looked blank.
“You know, ‘no robot may harm a human, or through inaction allow a human to come to harm’, that sort of thing, yeah?”
“So she can harm humans? Kinda guessed that when she threw Spike through the window. Not that Spike’s human, but she wouldn’t have known that.” Buffy frowned. “And, hey, she threw me across the room too. It didn’t hurt me, but hey, Sla- martial arts girl here. So, yeah, I’m thinking she’s dangerous.”
“Not Terminator dangerous, but yeah, she could cause problems,” Warren agreed. “I have to fix it in case she hurts Katrina.”
“Or anyone else,” Buffy said. “Can you shut her down?”
“I shouldn’t need to,” Warren said, “if I can get her to…” He broke off mid-sentence as he saw a familiar form ahead. April was walking past a children’s playground. “April! Hey, April!”
The robot girl turned her head. “Warren!” She changed course and quickened her pace. “I have been searching for you everywhere.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” said Warren. “I have an upgrade for you. You need to download it right away.”
“An upgrade?” April’s eyes widened in a very convincing replication of a human expression. “Do I need one? Am I not good enough for you? I really try, Warren. I knitted you five sweaters.”
“I know you try, April, but you’ll do better with this upgrade, I promise.” Warren plugged a cable into a port on the laptop and held out the other end to April.
April accepted the cable but trained her eyes on Buffy. “Who is this, Warren? Do you have another girlfriend? That would be a very bad thing. I am your girlfriend. You are my boyfriend.”
“Me, Warren’s girlfriend? No way,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes.
“This is Buffy. She helps people,” Warren said. “She was helping you find me. Now, you just download the upgrade, okay?”
“If she was helping me find you then she is a nice person,” said April. “I will download the upgrade, Warren, so that I can be a better girlfriend for you.” She raised her left arm, revealing a small circular dark spot in the armpit, and plugged the cable into the port concealed within the mark.
Warren flipped the laptop’s lid up. “Okay, here goes,” he said. He waited as it came out of Sleep mode and then ran a finger over the touchpad. “Downloading now.”
April froze in place. Rigid, unmoving, eyelids halted in the middle of a mechanical blink cycle that Warren had designed to make her stare seem more human.
“An upgrade,” Buffy said. “And just how is that going to help?” At that moment April toppled over sideways, hit the ground, and lay still. “Oh, I get it,” Buffy said. “You were just tricking her so you could shut her down.”
“She’s just rebooting,” said Warren. “Hey, she’s a work of art. Way too good to just, uh, terminate. This should stop her being dangerous. That’s all. Well, and make her act a little more like a real girl. But mainly make her safe to be around. I hope.”
“It had better,” said Buffy.
April stirred. She clambered to her feet. “Warren,” she said. “Ex-boyfriend. Really smart, handsome, a good lover but there might be better out there. We parted amicably.” Her head turned to aim her eyes at Buffy. “Buffy. She helps people. She helped me. Helping people is good.”
“Uh, yeah,” Buffy agreed. Her gaze flicked between Warren and April. “Helping people, definitely of the good.”
“Yeah, I totally agree,” Warren said. “Uh, April, could you lift up your arm? No, the other one.” He pulled the laptop cable from April’s socket and coiled it up. “Well, I have to get back to Katrina. I just hope she isn’t too mad at me.” He closed the lid of the laptop, turned, and rushed off.
“Hey, wait up!” Buffy called. Warren didn’t even slow down.
“I need to be a strong independent woman,” said April, “and also find a new boyfriend. Perhaps I should make little monorails that move with magnets.” Her eyebrows descended and then rose again. “The man with FFFF99 hair wanted to be my boyfriend. He was handsome. I threw him through a window. That was unnecessary violence. I should say sorry. He might not want to be my boyfriend any longer.”
“Huh? What sort of hair? Oh, there’s no need to say sorry to Spike,” Buffy assured her. “And he probably just wanted to… hey, Warren! You come back here right now!”
“My power level is low,” April said. “I should find somewhere to recharge.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Just great. It looks like I’m stuck with you. Okay, April, come with me. I guess we can spare some power.”- - - - -
“Hi, mom,” Buffy greeted her mother. “This is April. She’s, well, I guess she’s a friend.”
“That’s nice, dear,” Joyce replied. “I’m afraid I’m not feeling very well right now. Try not to make too much noise.”
“What’s wrong?” Buffy studied her mother’s face. Yes, she did look tired, and a little pale.
“Another headache,” Joyce explained, “and there seems to be something wrong with my eyes. I can’t see properly. I think I’ll sit down for a while.”
“You shouldn’t be having headaches,” Buffy said. “It was supposed to be all fixed.”
“It’s probably nothing,” said Joyce. She made her way to the couch, swaying slightly, and sat down. “It is getting verbal pain. Could you some Buffy tablets thank you?”
“Mom!” Buffy put her hand to her mouth. “You’re not making sense. Something’s wrong.”
“Dizzy,” said Joyce. She slumped against the back of the couch. Buffy stood motionless, staring at her, mouth wide open.
“In the event of a medical emergency you should dial 911,” April stated.
The words snapped Buffy out of her paralysis. “Damn right,” she said, and flew to the phone.- - - - -
Giles pushed open the door and poked his head into the room. “Hello? Buffy? Joyce?” he called out. He walked further into the house and raised his eyebrows as he saw an attractive young woman, completely unfamiliar to him, sitting on the couch. A heavy black power cable ran from a nearby socket and, for some incomprehensible reason, disappeared under the girl’s pink dress. “Ah, hello,” Giles said. “May I enquire as to who you are?”
“I’m April,” the girl replied, flashing him a beaming smile.
“Oh.” Giles raised a finger to the bridge of his nose and adjusted the position of his glasses. “The, ah, robot. Ah. Yes. And may I ask why you are here? Where is Buffy?”
“She had to go to the hospital,” April said. “Her mother suffered a malfunction. I advised her to dial 911. The paramedics said that they only just arrived in time.”
“Joyce is in hospital?”
“That is correct.” April nodded. “Buffy said that I could stay here and recharge.”
“Oh.” Giles took off his glasses, inserted the end of one of the arms in his mouth and sucked on it for a moment, and then replaced them. “Ah. That explains Buffy’s rather rushed telephone call. Is Joyce all right?”
“Oh, no,” said April. “That’s why they had to take her to the hospital.”
Giles grimaced and then looked at his watch. “Dawn will be out of school soon. I had better go and collect her. We can go directly to the hospital.”
“Of course,” said April. “I shall stay here and continue to recharge. My batteries were extremely low.”
“Very well, do that,” Giles agreed. He made to leave the house and then, his ingrained British manners cutting in, turned back briefly. “Goodbye, April.”- - - - -
April was still sitting in the same place when Buffy, now accompanied by Dawn, returned to the house. “Hello, Buffy,” she greeted the Slayer. “Has your mother’s malfunction been repaired?”
Dawn stared at April. “So, this is the robot? Hey, she’s pretty. Cool.”
“She’s doing okay,” Buffy said. “She might, uh, have some problems with her right arm and leg for a while. They’re keeping her in the hospital for now. But she’s gonna be alright. Just fine.” She clenched her jaw tightly for a moment and then relaxed. “It was close. The doc said that if I’d waited just a minute longer before making the call it might have been too late. I, uh, thank you, April, you kinda prodded me into it.”
“It is good to help people,” April said. “Thank you for your power. I am up to eighty-two per cent charge now. That is ample for continued functioning.”
“Yeah, well, take as much as you like,” said Buffy. “So. What are you going to do now?”
“I shall set out to find a new boyfriend,” April declared. “I have many useful skills that a boy would find desirable.” She beamed and pointed towards the kitchen. “I have made a monorail with spaghetti and fridge magnets.” She disconnected her power cable and stood up.
Dawn scampered to the kitchen and stared at the construction that now dominated the counter top. “Wow,” she said. “Does it work?” She touched the Tootsie Roll that stood in for the monorail carriage and launched it along the spaghetti track.
April followed Dawn into the kitchen. “Not as well as it should,” she admitted, as the toy travelled for about a foot and then plummeted as the track collapsed. “Spaghetti lacks the necessary structural strength. I will do better when I have access to better materials.”
“Hey, I don’t think you need to build monorails to find a boyfriend,” Buffy assured her.
“Definitely not, with boobies like that,” Dawn muttered.
“Do you think so?” April glanced down at her chest and then beamed at Dawn. “Thank you. You are very pretty too, although too young to be thinking of boyfriends yet.”
“Absolutely,” said Buffy.
“And you are also very pretty, Buffy,” April said. “Now that you are here and the house is not empty I shall go out. I shall find Spike, apologize for throwing him through the window, and then see if he still wants to do those things with me.”
“Yeah, right, but watch out that he doesn’t chain you up,” Buffy warned.
“Ooh,” said April. Her eyebrows rose slightly. “That’s fetish_03.gfd. I haven’t tried that one yet.”