In bed that night, while Stan was trying to calm himself down by reading a boring business magazine, Caitlyn kept talking.
“It really went well, I think.”
“Ymmm. Yep. Sure.”
There was a pause. She had a book in her lap, too, but it wasn’t even open. Stan slept nude, but she wore a white nightgown that would have made Randall think of Victorian heroines who run out onto the moor to escape… whatever.
“It looked completely real,” she continued. “Even to the techies from the military think tank. I heard one of ’em saying he couldn’t see any cropping errors, and the light absorption model was perfect.”
“It’s ah… yeah…”
She didn’t seem to notice that he was paying almost no attention. If you’d watched them at intervals throughout their long relationship, you would have found that this happened all the time. Caitlyn was, and knew she was, a verbal thinker. She couldn’t just work things out in her head. She needed to voice them. Stan knew this. And she knew he knew, but also knew that he knew enough not to comment unless she asked him a direct question. Like now:
“Is Randall seeing anybody?”
The rising phonemic tone at the end of the sentence cued him that his presence was required in the conversation.
“Randall. Is he seeing anybody?”
Stan frowned and searched his internal archives. “Nnnnnoo…” he drawled. “Not that I’m aware of. I think Kathy or Nolan would have let us know when we got his address from them.”
“His old address. If they didn’t know he’d moved off campus, they might not know if he’s seeing anybody.”
They were both quiet for a moment. Stan’s brain working, and Caitlyn’s finger tapping on the spine of her current “New York Times Best Seller List” trade paperback.
“You know,” Stan finally said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of him dating anyone. He’s painfully shy around women.”
“Not around me, he’s not,” said Caitlyn. With not pronounced nwat both times, of course.
But then she looked as if she’d just thought of something. “But you’re right. He’s good with us, and with other couples… But I’ve seen him go mental around single women.”
“I know he’s not gay,” stated Stan with finality.
“So do I,” said Caitlyn. Before Stan could venture down the very obvious path behind that statement, she pushed on. “I think we should help him out. He’s a great guy, good sense of humor, cute enough and certainly smart. He just has trouble getting a conversation started.”
“We should set him up? But we don’t know anybody in Buffalo.”
They were both silent for awhile. Stan had just picked up the magazine when she snapped her fingers.
“I’ve got it.”
“What are you, Sherlock Holmes?”
“No. I have better legs than Sherlock Holmes.”
“Can’t argue with that. So what’ve you got?”
“Give him the beta. And have Terry load it up with a younger, cuter, sassier version of Gina.”
Stan put the magazine down altogether and turned to actually look at her for the first time in this conversation. “Give him the beta.”
“Yah. What were we going to do with it?”
“I was going to put Elsie in it and put it in our lobby.”
“It’s too small for Elsie.”
“So we make her smaller.”
“You don’t want the beta to be seen by the outside world. It’s too small, and it’s still got some of the gen two bugs. Give it to Randall. He helped us out a lot a few years back.”
“I know, I know. I was there.”
“So. Maybe Gina would help him learn how to… talk to girls.”
“Like a relationship sim.”
Stan chewed on a nail, thought and waited. Apparently he waited too long, as Caitlyn finally leaned over and smacked him on the back of his head.
“OK,” he said quickly. “I’ll have Terry load up Gina and update the drivers from the latest build and… whatever… he’ll know what to do.”
Caitlyn nodded and opened her book. “I think Randall’ll get a kick out of it,” she said as she started to read. “It’s got the feel of a good school prank. Yah?”