"The resemblance is...Uncanny."
Stanley watched in considerable awe as the Isaac returned to the office where Lillian and himself waited, helping Cain put on a long, leather-like trench coat he went to retrieve from his car.
The android's highly anticipated day off has been approved after what felt like an eternity of waiting with their breath held. Now departure time was coming up, with only some final preparations left to get Cain ready to go outside, making sure he won't stand out too much.
Thanks to Cain being the most human-like model made by Neosansus, with him being modeled after Isaac to an extent, this was the easiest part of their "day-off endeavor" so far.
Isaac smiled at Stanley's comment while fixing the coat on Cain's body, adjusting it to make sure nothing seems irregular. With both standing at the same height and having similar facial structure and even hair style, a quick glance could've fooled an onlooker into thinking these were two genetically related people. "I suppose I should take that as a compliment, considering that's how I looked about thirty years ago."
Stanley didn't miss his chance. "So, you were a robot in your twenties?"
Next to him Lillian bit her lip and stifled a laugh. Isaac, on the other hand, kept the same amused expression.
"Why, yes, of course," he shrugged as if it was a casually factual matter, "and then I grew out of my synthetic, exterior shell, and became a real boy."
The two programmers couldn't help but laugh, hardly believing the founder was playing along so nonchalantly. "You know, if you said the same thing about Gabe, I would've believed you in a nanosecond," Stanley mentioned when Isaac turned to a magnetic strip bolted into the wall of the office where several clothing accessories were hanged with metallic clasps.
Isaac chuckled and took a scarf off one of the clasps. "Now-now Stanley, Gabriel might be a bit of a corporate drone, but he's just doing his job," he went out to the man's defense, aware that he and Stanley were rarely seeing eye to eye on that matter.
He walked back to Cain and wrapped the scarf around his neck in a way that it covered the partition of his jaws, and once it was all sufficiently hidden, he took off the android's AR visor, handing it to Lillian for safe keeping. "You won't be needing this outside," Isaac smiled and stepped back, looking him up and down. "I think all we need now is gloves," he reached into his own coat, taking out a pair.
"You really are ready for everything," Lillian commented, although her praise turned out to have been slightly premature when Isaac took Cain's hands and measured his fitted gloves against them, quickly realizing that the combination won't work without damaging either the gloves or the delicate sensors on Cain's hands. "Well, almost."
"No matter," Isaac shrugged and stored his gloves back in his coat, "we're not going to risk this rare opportunity over some mismatched hand-wear," he rested his hand under his chin and tapped the side of his jaw, thinking. "Since that's all we're missing, I'd say you're good to go," he turned to Lillian, "in fact, I think Samuel is at the main gate today, he can probably let you borrow his own pair if you ask nicely."
Stanley chuckled at the suggestion. "Please, these are Lillian and Sammy you're talking about. There's no other way to ask."
"Suits you," Lillian mentioned once she left the office with Cain, heading towards the main gate.
Cain kept trying to readjust his new coat, not completely used to the sturdier material. "This isn't ideal..." he answered, clearly uncomfortable.
Lillian smiled, thinking how much the android looked like a kid being forced to wear a starchy suit for some sort of ceremonial gathering. "It'll be worth it. Plus, you'll get used to it," she giggled, patting his shoulder a couple of times.
Trying his best to contain his fidgety movements, Cain nodded and looked up as the two approached the gate, where Samuel stood guard at the main path leading in and out of the complex, wearing his standard-issue black and white security uniform.
Once within hearing range, he turned around and waved at them, smiling bright.
"Hey Lill! Hey Cain!" he called, sounding excited. "Ready for your big day?"
"Hey Sam," Lillian laughed, seeing as he was just as excited as she was, if not more. "We are...almost ready," she answered, explaining their issue with finding the right-sized gloves to complete Cain's 'disguise'. "Can we borrow your pair? The two of you should be about the same size."
Samuel responded so fast that it was like he was just waiting for her to finish her request to not interrupt her. "Of course," he was already removing the gloves he was wearing at that moment, revealing the robotic prosthetic replacing his left arm. Considering both his and Lillian's seniority in the company, this wasn't new to her, and neither to Cain. "Hey, if the glove fits…"
Lillian chuckled and took the gloves, helping Cain try them on. "Looks like they fit. We'll make sure to give them back once we return to the complex."
"No need," Samuel shook his head, "I had about...three more pairs made, and I'm pretty sure that I haven't lost any of them."
"Yet," Samuel agreed and scratched the side of his nose, slightly grazing over a scar going across it, one that's been there since he still had two, human arms. "So, how's the feel?" he addressed Cain once both of his hands were covered.
Cain opened and closed his hands several times, turning them front and back. "Odd, but...better than the coat," he even seemed a little surprised, before looking up again. "Thank you, Samuel."
"Anytime, Cain," Samuel smiled and opened the door for them, "looks like a nice weather out. Enjoy your day off."
Within no more than ten minutes the two were in one of the company's cars, with Lillian driving towards the nearest local park.
"How come we're not walking there?" Cain wondered and looked out the car's window, barely catching more than a blurred glimpse of the streets. "I thought you said it was pretty close by."
"True, it would have been nice to take a little walk," Lillian admitted with a sigh, "however, it was one of the management's conditions that you'd get as little exposure as possible. The park has far less people than on the streets and they're a lot more spread out, too."
Cain turned around to look at her, expressing the slightest hint of confusion. "I don't understand. I get that Cass isn't meant to be outside because she's programmed to operate under given commands based around the complex's protocols, but even Ab-"
"I..." Lillian stopped him, taking a deep breath and tightening her hands around the steering wheel, "I'm not too sure, myself."
She could feel he was still looking at her and tried her hardest to focus on the road.
"That's not true."
Lillian's shoulders dropped a little and she slid her hands to the sides of the wheel. "It doesn't matter," she shook her head, wearing her trademark smile in no time, "what's important is that they allowed you to go out. If all goes well, they may allow for more days like this."
Looking even more than just slightly confused, Cain looked around again, trying to take in more of the fleeting environment. "Why wouldn't it go well?"
"You know, nothing's perfect," Lillian shrugged, "but you shouldn't worry about that. We'll make the best of it."
A short drive later, Lillian managed to find a parking space close to one of Meadow's Park's main entrances, walking out of the vehicle with Cain. "I think you'll like it. It's like the natural reserve back in the complex, but way bigger-" she stopped when she noticed Cain's gaze was fixated up, at the bright afternoon sky. She smiled softly and looked up as well, shielding her eyes from the sun. "Better than just a little patch in the ceiling, isn't it?"
In a way, none of this was completely foreign to the android. It was in his database, basic and constantly updating information meant to aid with the understanding of the vast array of memories he reads. With that, he could easily tell what the sky is, what the clouds and planes moving through them are and that the bright, radiating ball shining there is the sun. But while he could easily name almost everything around him, seeing it all in person was a vastly different experience.
Cain remained silent for a moment as his optics adjusted to the unusual brightness of the sun, compared to the fluorescent lighting of the complex, before looking back it Lillian. "It's so...warm," his voice had a sense of wonder to it and Lillian couldn't be happier that the day was starting on such a positive note.
She grabbed him by the sleeve of his coat and gave it a light tug, gesturing with her head toward the nearest entrance. "Come on, it's time you'd see some real world," she smiled and walked in, letting go of Cain's arm once she made sure he was following her. "Just don't stray too far away from me, alright? This park is pretty big."
"Are you worried that I would get lost?" Cain mused at Lillian's motherly approach, now walking next to her, "I'm not a little kid."
Lillian snickered and looked up, seeing him glancing over the scarf covering his face. "You may as well be, with this being your first time in the 'outside world' and the fact that I'm obliged to watch over you while we're outside," she kept her voice low, enough so only Cain could hear her, "otherwise I would've gladly let you explore the park to your mechanical heart's content."
Cain slowly nodded and looked around again. "This day-off sure was heavily conditioned," he paused, looking back the Professor, "but Samuel was right, the weather is really nice. It's the first time I've seen so many people in the same area, wearing civilian attire."
"The world is not all suits and lab coats," Lillian giggled following his observation, "and there are more than just people here," she added and directed his attention to several dog owners walking their pets.
Even though dogs were one thing Cain has encountered in person early in his service, he still seemed at awe seeing how much the canines differed from each other, while at the same time - in some bizarre coincidence - had some vague semblance to their owners.
He kept walking beside Lillian through the soft, grassy ground, stopping from time to time to take a closer look at some new plants he hasn't seen in the reserve or to observe a group of people from afar, sometimes feeling as though he's re-living other people's memories, but knowing that this time they were his own.
After about an hour of walking around and talking to Lillian, Cain felt something bumping into his leg and stopped. He looked down to see a toy ball bouncing back on the grass, and as soon as he picked it up, he saw a little girl running towards him.
"Sorry mister!" she apologized when she stood next to him, panting a little. "Can we have our ball back, please?" she smiled, bringing her arms up.
Cain nodded and lowered the ball so she could grab it. "You did ask nicely. Here you go."
The girl giggled and took the ball, wrapping both arms around it, but as soon as she thanked him and before turning around, something else caught her attention. She gasped and pointed at his exposed legs, whispering, "are you a robot?"
"Oh, no-no," Lillian was quick to answer in his stead, stepping forward, "this man simply was in an accident and his legs got hurt badly, but with the power of science he was able to get new legs to walk," her tone was almost commercial-like, but it did a quick job of answering to the girl's curiosity.
"Cool," she looked up again and waved at the two, "goodbye, Mr. and Ms. Science!" she laughed as she ran back to her friends to play.
Lillian crossed her arms, her expression a mix of amusement, sadness and a bit of relief, turning to walk away.
Cain soon followed, glancing back at the group of kids before turning back to Lillian. "You just made her think I'm a human."
"No one can know what you really are, hence the disguise," Lillian clarified and looked over, a smile softening her near-unreadable expression, "and, well...It's not entirely wrong."
A few steps later she turned around upon realizing Cain wasn't following and remained planted in his place. He was staring at her back, not focused on anything in particular, as though the majority of his processing capabilities were directed towards making sense of what she just said.
She walked back to him, seeing that he at least follows her movement instead of blankly looking into the distance. "Don't get too worked up about it," she gently grabbed his arm, pulling him to follow her again.
He didn't resist or expressed whatever was troubling him in any way and followed suit as Lillian walked towards the trodden path leading toward a large pond, spanning over a large part of the park's center. The late afternoon sun glimmered over the smooth surface of the water, only slightly disturbed every now and then by a flock of water fowls paddling across and diving under, creating little ripples in the water; a chilled breeze whistled past the pond, in contrast to the warm rays of the sun above.
They climbed onto the boardwalk surrounding the edge of the pond to get a better look at the scenery. Being the largest body of water Cain has seen up until now, Lillian could see that he was quite impressed by the vast reach of the water and being intrigued bearing witness to people's interactions with it and its residing wildlife.
"It's calming, isn't it?" she looked up at Cain, who was surveying as much of the lake as he could see, "the sound of the water."
"It is," Cain agreed, closing his eyes and focusing now on babbling sound alone, finding an odd sense of serenity in its frequency. After some time listening to the water, something else caught his attention - another collection of sounds, played by a certain rhythm and beat, a lot more intentional than the splashing ducks in the pond.
He had heard it before, in other people's memories, but it was always in fragments; never as vivid as it was now.
"Is that music?"
Lillian saw Cain looking on to the end of the boarded walkway, trying to see what he was focused on - not the easiest of tasks, with the android's senses being superior to hers. Before she could spot the source of the new sound Cain already walked past her, making Lillian rush after him, for once.
As they hurried farther down the boardwalk, Lillian started hearing what he was referring to - she recognized the gentle strumming of a guitar carried by breeze, echoing between the trees. Cain seemed to be drawn to it like moth to an open flame. He stopped short, however, when seeing a lone guitar player sitting at the end of the boardwalk and surrounded by other listeners, forming a small crowd.
He hesitated, remembering Lillian's words about remaining undercover.
Noticing this once she caught up, Lillian gave him a little nudge forward.
"It's alright," she smiled, gesturing towards the guitarist. "Go on."
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