“Oh, hi Bob. Come on in.”

And with that sentence, the evening began. Dot had been planning this night since the restart, only seconds ago. So many changes had occurred during that time: A brand new looking system, the Tor in G-Prime and Megabyte were gone for good, Hexadecimal as a registered sprite, a new friend by the name of Ray Tracer, two Enzo Matrixes, and a kiss from Bob.

The last two shockers needed to be dealt with pronto. Dot now had two brothers, an older version of Enzo and a younger version Enzo. Two brothers who were now vying for her and everyone’s attention. Two brothers that could not stand to be in the same room at the same time.

She had found that out the hard way, when the two little monsters trashed her beautiful, clean diner. Oh, they had paid for that. They spent the last two seconds getting to know each other again by working in the diner. Dot hadn’t even had time to sit down and work at the diner, her duties as Command.Com being in demand, with all the chances happening.

The time she was in the diner was spent yelling at Matrix and Enzo for something they had done. Last time, Matrix had locked Enzo into the freezer, claiming he had no knowledge of how his little brother got in there. She’d have to deal with them later, sit down and have a good sisterly talk with them both. But for now, she was working on her second problem.


His unexpected return to Mainframe had both trilled and frightened her. On one hand, he was back. She had always had a slight crush on him…oh, forget that! The sprite was hooked on the guardian from their first meeting. When he had been sent to the Web, Dot mentally kicked herself for losing the one sprite she loved dearly and not telling him how she felt.

And then, there was the other hand.

The other hand was slightly afraid at this new and improved Bob, as Mike the TV had put it. He had changed. He wasn’t the spur of the moment, take anything on kind of guy that she fell in love with. His time in the Web had slightly hardened him. He had seen so many things, done so many things…he just wasn’t the same sprite.

She could accept him, but could he accept her?

It seemed the one thing everyone learned from this restart was that no one was the same anymore. Well, maybe the binome on the street or something, but the leaders and protectors of Mainframe sure weren’t the same. Everyone had changed. Dot had even thought about who had changed the most during the hour of Megabyte’s reign.

Bob had certainly changed, no doubt. She had changed. She was more driven, never backing down from anything any more. She was more in control of situations, having a plan for everything now. She had to, dealing with that overzealous virus and his nutty sister.

She seemed more overprotective, especially now that Little Enzo was back. She had come to the conclusion that Mouse, Matrix, and AndrAIa had probably changed the most.

Mouse and AndrAIa for the better: both women now found a family they could count on, their loyalty always remaining with Mainframe and the people in it. Matrix for the worse. Dot didn’t know what happened during the hours they spent in the games, but it obviously wasn’t pleasant for her little brother.

He wasn’t the same hyped up little kid he had been before… he, like Bob, seemed quieter, more reserve. Unfortunately, for those that got into his way, they would soon find out he had a temper the size of the Super Computer. She would need to talk to him, something the two of them hadn’t done since the final showdown with Megabyte. But that would come later.

Tonight was about telling Bob how she felt.

That shared kiss between them had obviously been something they had wanted to do for a long time. In fact, Bob had been trying to tell her throughout the cycle that he cared about her, but she never had the time. She was either in a meeting or sending him out to mend a tear. He couldn’t believe it when she asked him to dinner that night. Dot couldn’t believe it herself.

Normally, she would have never asked Bob out on a date, which is basically what this was, she would have deleted from embarrassment. But losing him and then getting him back had changed all of that. With this new threat looming over their heads, Dot knew she’d have to let him go once more, with the distant possibility that he wouldn’t come back again. She needed to at least give having a relationship with him a try.

“You look really great tonight, Dot.” Bob replied, walking in through the apartment door.

She had thought about a restaurant setting, but decided something quiet and more…intimate would probably be in the best interest. After all, she didn’t want all of Mainframe hearing her profess her love to their guardian. She decided her little apartment under the diner would be perfect. But that left a problem.

What to do with Enzo.

Obviously she didn’t want him around, at least not for tonight, so he needed to be put somewhere. AndrAIa quickly popped into her head. Enzo had grown quite fond of the game sprite, much to Matrix’s annoyance. What did he expect? That was him as a young sprite and even Dot had noticed he and AndrAIa were in the midst of puppy love when they were smaller.

That brought problem number three actually. AndrAIa and Matrix. When the Net did they get so close? Still…Dot had bribed…or rather, persuaded AndrAIa and Matrix to look after Enzo. They were probably in the Principal Office right now; AndrAIa giving Mouse a hand with the shields or something of that nature, Matrix and Enzo probably driving poor Phong random.

“You look nice too, Bob.” she said.

He did look nice. They both did. It was nice to leave work behind and get into something comfortable. For Dot, and for this date, that meant a casual black dress, with spaghetti straps. For Bob, it was dress slacks and a button down white shirt.

The two stood there, nervously trying to find something else to say, both acting like scared teenagers on their first date. Bob handed her a daisy wheel, her favorite flower, and delivered a kiss to her cheek.

“I’m really glad to see you.” he said, staring into her eyes.

“Uh…” Dot faltered, getting lost in those big brown eyes of his. “Dinner’s…um…almost ready.”

They continued to stand there, each debating on what to do next. Their prayers were answered when a vidwindow appeared next to them.

“Sorry.” AndrAIa replied, seeing the two. Dot gave her pacific instructions not to bother them, unless it was an emergency. “I just wanted to let you know that everything is fine and nothing is going on and I’m really really sorry.”

“That’s okay, Andi.” Bob said, smiling at the girl. He had heard from Matrix they’d be watching Enzo tonight. He felt so sorry for her.

“Okay, that’s all I wanted to say. Have a good time, we’ll be okay, AndrAIa out.” And like that, the screen minimized.

“Well…” Dot said, her attention now back to her dinner guest. “Why don’t we sit down to dinner?”


“This is nice.” Bob sighed, his head resting on the arm of the couch.


“I said,” he repeated, as he kissed Dot’s cheek. “This is nice.”

The two reclined on the couch, Dot in Bob’s arms, her head resting on his shoulder. The two had a marvelous dinner and only a few interruptions. One was from Ray about keeping a look out for any tears.

Another was Matrix complaining about something Enzo had done. A third was from Phong, wanting to know how things were and even gave Dot a desperate plea for her to have a talk with her brothers sometime in the next second. Now the two were laying on the couch, just talking. Something they hadn’t done in so long.

After the initial timidness, the two began to open up, talking like the two friends they had once been. Dot talked about her second of running around, tying up loose ends due to the restart and trying to keep the peace between her two brothers. Bob also talked of his second.

He and Ray had mended a total of twelve tears that second alone and he had successfully avoided Enzo’s tackles twice, but hadn’t missed the evil glare Matrix had given him. He did say that at least he was spending his night a lot better than his second had gone.

“When did you get this?” he asked, tracing the winged tattoo on her right shoulder.

“I’ve had that for a while actually.” Dot replied with a smile. “I was a bit of a rebel when I was a child.”

“I can’t believe it.”

“No, it’s true.”

“You were a child?” Bob asked, laughing as Dot hit him.

The two settled back down and were silent for a while, each marveling at how good it felt to be in each other’s arms, how right it seemed to be. “This is nice.” Dot repeated. Bob nodded and gave her a kiss below her ear lobe, his arms holding her tighter. “I really missed you, Bob.”

“I missed you too.” Bob said. “There wasn’t a second that I didn’t think of you, hoped you were alright, hoped I would see you again. I couldn’t let things end like they did.”

Dot turned in his embrace and kissed him, the two becoming involved in it as they did at the end of the restart. With their attention elsewhere, they didn’t notice the vidwindow pop up.

Matrix noticed the lip lock and, as much as he was excited and trilled about it, something about watching his sister kiss his best friend was weird. He cleared his throat a couple of times to get the couple’s attention, their kiss ending and looks of annoyance appearing on their faces.

“Yes, Enzo?” Dot asked, snuggling closer to Bob.

“I hate to disturb you, you know this.” Matrix started. “And you did say no interruptions, but I thought you should know this bit of information.”

“And that would be?”

“Well, we were sitting here and AndrAIa located a tear somewhere in Sector 31.”

Dot was alert immediately. “How big is it? Did AndrAIa discover the cause? It’s still a tear, right or did it turn into a portal?”

“Whoa, whoa!”

Bob smirked in amusement. It was times like this when the family resemblance between Enzo and Dot could be found.

“It’s all taken care of, Sis.” Matrix said, trying to calm his sister down. “I sent Ray out there and he should be back any min…”

Just then, the youthful face of Dot’s other brother popped up. “BOB!” the boy cried, seeing his hero in his own apartment, with his sister, a scene both Enzo and Matrix had envisioned in their youthful seconds.

“Boy, thisissogreat!Ican’tbelieveyourhavingdinnerwithDot. Man, Isowish…”

“Will you please?” Matrix asked, pushing the boy out of view. “Sorry.” he apologized to Dot and Bob. “As I was saying, I…hey!”

It was Matrix’s turn to be pushed out of view. Enzo used his weight and energy to push his older brother out of frame, sending the chair Matrix sat in rolling to the other side of the room.

“Man, Bobthisistotallycool. DoesthismeanyouandDotplantostartgoingout? Causethatwouldbecool, thenyou’dbe…”

Enzo was tackled to the floor by Matrix, their fight being heard from off screen.

“Will you guys stop?” That was AndrAIa from across the room. “Sorry, sugahs.” replied the hacker known as Mouse. She, along with AndrAIa and Phong, were doing brother control in the P.O.

“Everything is fine in the P.O. Corral, so don’t worry your pretty lil heads about nuttin. You just go back to what you were doing.” With a snicker, Mouse closed the connection and left the couple alone again.

“They’re going to destroy that building.” Dot muttered.

“Don’t worry.” Bob said, pulling her closer. “Your brothers can’t get away with anything as long as Mouse is there. That’s one hacker you don’t want to mess with.”

“Don’t I know it?” Dot joked, making a small laugh.

“They’ll be alright.” He lifted her head to face him. “Now, where were we?”

“I believe we were right here.” Dot replied, bringing her lips to meet his.

No sooner had the two lip locked, when another vidwindow popped up, this time by Enzo, who was holding his right arm.


“What now?!” Bob exclaimed, starting to get a tad bit annoyed with all the interruptions.

“Matrix’s trying to delete me!” Enzo cried, rubbing his right arm. Matrix quickly appeared next to his brother, he covering his left eye.

“Dot, he poked me in the eye!” The large sprite whined. “If anything, his deleting would be in self-defense. He’s trying to blind me!”

“What’re you doing?” came the cry from AndrAIa. “Dot’s going to delete us all if you keep bugging…hi, guys.”

AndrAIa appeared in between the two quarreling siblings, pushing them in the opposite direction. “I really am sorry. They’re just…they’re just a little rambunctious right now.”

“I said sit!” came Mouse’s voice from off screen. Apparently she was talking to the bickering brothers.

“See, everything’s fine.” AndrAIa said, sighing in relief. The girl must be going through User hell, Bob thought. “Nothing to worry about. Wanna talk to Mouse now? Okay.” AndrAIa left and could be heard saying, “If you guys don’t calm down, I’ll delete you myself.”

“This is the last of the interruptions, darlin’s. Promise.” Mouse closed the connection and Bob and Dot were again left to themselves. For how long, they weren’t sure.

“I don’t know what to do with them, Bob.” Dot sighed, resting her head on his chest.

“Brothers fight, Dot. They just do sometimes.”

“Yeah, but Enzo and I never fought like this.” Dot persisted.

“Yeah, but you’re a girl.” Bob replied.

“Your powers of observation are to be commended, Guardian.” Dot joked.

Bob stuck his tongue at her before continuing. “I mean, it’s rare for brothers and sisters to duke it out. Besides, you’re a lot older than he is.”

“Thanks a lot.” Dot replied, sarcastically.

“I don’t mean it like that.” Bob said. “I mean, there’s an big age difference. I doubt Little Enzo would venture to try and beat you up.”

Dot smiled at the hidden compliment. “Another thing. Technically, Matrix is only two hours older than Enzo. Technically speaking, of course. Reality is…”

“Matrix is only a few hours younger than me.” Dot finished.

“Right. Not that I’m saying Matrix is running on the mentality of an one-one adolescent, but…well, I think the whole thing isn’t sitting well with either of them. It was one thing when there was only one Enzo Matrix.

“Now there’s two. Matrix isn’t exactly the same as everyone remembers him when he was Enzo’s age and I think maybe having Enzo here isn’t helping the situation.”

“Well, Bob I certainly can’t get rid of my little brother!” Dot said, a little insulted at the insinuation.

“I’m not saying that, Dot.” Bob said, trying to calm the woman down. “I’m just saying I think they might be worried about how we see them now. They’re just trying to fit back in, that’s all. It’s something they have to work out, Dot.”

“I know.” Dot said, sighing. “But I’m their sister, Bob. I gotta look after them. Both of them.”

“I’m sure that’s what they want you to do.”

“When did you get so smart about things?” Dot asked, a playful smile on her lips.

“Hey, I don’t hang out with Phong just to play games, you know.”


“Don’t even think about it.”

Dot’s headset lay on the table, just inches from her reach. “I wasn’t planning on it.” she lied, looking again at the mic and battery box. It had been way too quiet in the Principal Office. Not that she didn’t enjoy Bob’s company, but they hadn’t had an interruption for what seemed like milliseconds. Her brothers were not ones to just sit still, so something had to be wrong.

She could at least count on the fact they weren’t deleted. She was sure someone would’ve called about that. She hadn’t heard any explosions, so the P.O. was probably still intact. Mike the TV hadn’t barged in, rambling about some rampage going on. So that meant her brothers had finally gone off the deep end of the Data Slide and had deleted Mouse, AndrAIa, Ray, and Phong. Why they had done that, she wasn’t sure. She hadn’t gotten that far yet.

“Dot…” Bob warned, seeing the secretive glances she made at the table.

“Bob, it’s been way too quiet.” Dot said.

“Dot, what could’ve happened?”

“Anything!” Dot exclaimed. “They could be deleted, everyone could be deleted, they could’ve lost their minds and deleted everyone in the Principal Office…”

“Baby, I think you’re jumping to conclusions.” Bob said.

“I’m just saying, that’s all.” she replied, putting her head back down. “And don’t call me baby.”

The two resumed their relaxing pose.

“How’s that thing work anyways?” Bob asked.

“How’s what work?” Bob pointed to her headset. “It’s very simple.” Dot said, picking up the set. “It’s hooked up to the Principal Office speakers, so if anything should happen away from there, I can still send a message to the citizens of Mainframe.”

“Hey, that’s pretty cool.” Bob said, playing with the on/off switch.

“Bob, don’t play with my headset.” Dot replied, taking the set and placing it back on the table, unaware that the on/off switch read ‘on’.



“Let’s go and say hi to the pirates.” Enzo said, taking his zipboard from his belt.

“Oh yeah, Dot would just love that.” replied Matrix.

The brothers, along with AndrAIa, had been unceremoniously kicked out of the Principal Office by Phong. Actually, he wanted AndrAIa to stay, but the game sprite said “If someone doesn’t watch them, they’ll delete each other.”

Whether it was out of boredom or defeat, the brothers had started to get along the last couple of milliseconds. Now the three had to find something to do until it was time to take Enzo back home.

“Come on, Matrix.” Enzo prodded. “I bet you know everything about the ship they’re building.”

“Not everything.”

“But I bet you could.” Enzo said, a mischievous look in his eyes.

“Don’t even try it.” Matrix said, seeing past the charm. “I know this trick. In fact, I invented this trick to get Dot to let me stay home from school one second, so I could ‘learn how a beautiful working woman does a hard task of being everywhere, doing everything.'”

“Oh yeah,” Enzo said, nodding in appreciation. “I remember that. Dude, we were so awesome.”

“We still are.” Matrix said, getting his zipboard. “Or at least I am.” the larger sprite flashed a smile at his younger self. “Come on, little bro. Let’s go see those pirates.”

“Hey, hold on!” AndrAIa said, as she quickly ascended after them. “Dot said I had to keep you guys out of trouble.”

“Andi, it’s just the pirates.” Enzo said.

“Yeah.” replied Matrix. “How much trouble could we get in to?”

“May I remind you boys of the lovely evening we spent in the P.O.?” AndrAIa asked, sarcastically. “Or perhaps a retelling of last cycle’s pirate excursion that put a hole in the side wall of the ship would help.”

The boys just looked at her for a moment, each slowly getting trademark puppy dog looks on their faces. “Gee, AndrAIa,” Enzo said, his bottom lip shaking slightly. “I thought you liked us.”

“Yeah.” Matrix replied. “The Andi I know would love to go check out the new boat.”

“No fair.” the game sprite pouted. “No double teaming.”

“Please Andi?” Enzo asked, sweetly. “We won’t cause trouble. We promise!”

“Dot and Bob are already going to want our heads.”

“Please Angelfish?” Matrix asked.

AndrAIa sighed. She was always a sucker for that nickname. “Fine.” she said. And despite looking forward to seeing the Saucy Mare being rebuilt and even the kisses from Enzo and Matrix, she knew Dot was going to delete her.

Well, she thought. At least I’ll have one last fun experience.




Dot tried to think of a good way to ask. She still had so many questions to ask Bob and Matrix, but for now, she had Bob to herself. Past experiences proved she and Bob could talk about anything. But she had to remember, this wasn’t the same Bob.

This Bob was more reserved, more withdrawn. She needed to know what happened out there in the Web. Maybe it was too soon to ask. No! The old Dot would’ve said that and let it slide. This Dot wanted, nay, needed to know what happened. Had to know why the two most important men in her life had changed so drastically.



“Tell me about what happened. In the Web. To you, the things you did.”

Bob was silent before answering. “I don’t think so, Dot.”

“Why not?” she asked.

Bob sat up, forcing Dot to do so as well. “Why should we spoil a lovely evening?” he said, looking at her. Dot looked back at him, slightly hurt that he didn’t trust her to know.

Maybe it was too painful. But even she had told him about the Twin City and her parents. That had been devastating to her and he had been there to listen. Now she was here to listen, but yet he wouldn’t talk.

“Bob, that’s not fair.” she said, letting her hurt out into the open.

“You don’t need to know, Dot.”

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t.”

It seemed the evening, a splendid night that had started off friendly, combined with the interruptions from the madhouse that was the Principal Office, was now going to end in the midst of an argument.


“Wow, Gavin, you guys certainly have been doing a lot of work.”

The trio of troublemakers now stood on the docks of Mainframe, admiring the work being put into the Mainframe Maiden. After the restart, Dot had offered to make Captain Capacitor a new ship, in gratitude for the Saucy Mare being sacrificed.

The captain had refused, saying the crew of the Mare would just build another ship. And then they got started. The hull and the cabins were now almost finished.

“Aye, Lad.” The Crimson Binome replied, pointing his hook hand at the boat. “The boys have been working non stop. When this ship be finished, it will be a tribute to the Mare! And to Mainframe for all ye help.”

“We were just repaying the favor.” AndrAIa replied, smiling. “It’s us that should be helping you.”

“Ah, Lass, you are.” the pirate corrected. “If not for you and Matrix, the ship would be slow moving indeed.”

“I don’t understand why you won’t just…”

“Dot, why in the Net are you even bringing this up?”

“What in blazes is that?” Capacitor exclaimed, looking around for where the argument was coming from.

“Uh oh.” Matrix said, staring off in the direction of Baudway. “Sounds like chaos in couplesville.”

“Holy headaches, Matrix!” exclaimed Enzo. “What’re they fighting about now?”

“We’re obviously gonna have to find that out!” AndrAIa replied, hopping on her zipboard. “By your leave, Capt’n.” she said, as the trio quickly headed in the direction of Baudway and the Diner.


“Dot, why is it so important?” Bob asked, turning to stare at her.

The two were now standing facing each other, in the midst of an argument. Neither was aware that Dot’s headset was on and that their fight could be heard throughout all of Mainframe.

“Bob, it’s just something I’d like to know, that’s all.” Dot countered. “There had been a time when we could tell each other everything.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes really!”

“What about…?” Bob stopped in mid-sentence, unable to bring up the question.

“What about what?” Dot asked, suspiciously.


“No, what. What were you going to say?”

“Why do you need to know?”

“Oh now, don’t start that again!”


“So what do we do?”

Matrix, AndrAIa, and Enzo stood on their zipboards, outside of the Diner entrance. The argument escalating from the downstairs apartment was now reverberating throughout the system.

“There’s only one thing you can do.” Matrix said, a look of determination on his face. “This is something that’s gonna ruin everything we’ve got going now. You remember the last time the two of them fought.

“It was random! Pure random! Something like this has to be carried out carefully, with skillful planning, and a lot of time and patience. There’s only one thing needed in a situation like this.”

The three stood looking at the Diner entrance.

“Popcorn?” AndrAIa asked.

“Preferably buttered, light salt.” Matrix replied, nodding his head. “We’ll need to get some.”

“And Mouse and Ray!” Enzo exclaimed. “They couldn’t miss this!”

“Hey, maybe they’ll bring popcorn!” AndrAIa suggested.

“I’m on it.” Matrix said, retrieving a vidwindow.


“Bob, all I’m saying is…”

“Why did you even bring this up?”

The battling buddies were going, unable to reach a decision as to the first question posed. “Dot, I just don’t understand why it’s so important for you to know what happened.” Bob said, crossing his arms in front of him.

He figured she’d want to know, but not so soon. He wasn’t sure if he could even talk about that time, a time he tried to erase from his memory banks. Worse of all, how would Dot react when she learned some of the things he had done, the things that he had to be put through. If she thought he was changed now, just wait till she heard some of the stories!

“Because I want to know, Bob.” Dot replied, swallowing the lump in her throat.


Dot took a deep breath and tried to think of a way to explain. She cared for him, more than anything, and she wanted to be a part of what had happened.

She had been such a big part of his past and she hoped she would be a part of his future, but there was that time they had lost and the only way to share it was to know what happened.

“Because…” she started, all her hopes and dreams, all her fears and nightmares combining into this moment. What if he didn’t feel the same? What if their friendly flirting was just that, friendly? What if the kiss they shared was something he did in gratitude?

They had saved the system, they were alive, a kiss in happiness. Dot was starting to lose her nerve. She could tell Bob was beginning to get worried, confused as to what was going on in her head.


“Dot?” he asked, cautiously approaching her. He couldn’t remember when Dot had ever been at a loss of words. She always told what was on her mind, what she was feeling. It was random, but in some way, a good thing. Maybe he could tell her what he had always felt. The real reason he needed to come back to her.

“Because I love you, Bob.” she blurted, a calm washing over her. She had said it and it felt right saying it, as though only Bob was worthy of hearing it. “I love everything about you. I think I loved you when we first met.

“I was lost without you and then when Enzo and AndrAIa…but I have a confession to make, Bob. I did the worse possible thing. I gave up. I gave up hope of ever finding you guys again.” Dot sighed, feeling a weight lift off of her. “I just…I want to know what happened while you were gone. It’s that important to me.”

Bob came over and gave Dot a hug, giving her a reassuring squeeze. He couldn’t refuse her the request of his story, he couldn’t refuse her anything.

Besides, he did want to tell her. Wanted to share his life with her if he could. He pulled back a little ways to look at her, resting his forehead against hers.

“Are you sure, Dot?” he asked. “Sure you want to get that close to me? I wasn’t exactly a saint out there. I did…certain things to make sure I could come back to you. I’m a little worried of how you might react.”


“I love you too much to let you go again.” Bob went to kiss her, stopping only inches from meeting her lips. “Dot, what’s the little red light on your headset mean?”

“It means the headset is on.” Dot murmured, brushing her lips against Bob’s.


The two were about to kiss when realization hit them. “The headset is on!” they both exclaimed, looking towards the contraption on the table. Dot quickly went over and turned it off, giving Bob a blank stare.

With the knowledge of their actions being announced throughout the system seeping into her processor, Dot closed her eyes, leaned over, and rested her head against Bob’s chest. Both were utterly embarrassed, but soon chuckling came from Bob’s lips, his chest lifting up and down, causing Dot’s head to do the same.

“I guess everyone in Mainframe knows we love each other, huh?” he joked, smiling down at Dot.

Dot grinned at him. “I think everyone in Mainframe has known we loved each other even before we did.” she said. “Come on,” she continued, as Bob took her hand and they headed for the door. “Let’s go do some crowd control. I’m sure the city’s camped out at the Diner by now.”

As they headed towards the door, Bob stopped and gave Dot a kiss. “Thanks for giving me a very entertaining night.” he said.

“The night isn’t over yet, Guardian.” Dot quipped, opening the door.

The couple went upstairs, talking about how they could clear away the crowd that was probably waiting for them to emerge from the Diner. Dot was convinced the whole system heard it and that Mike the TV would be front and center, hoping for an interview.

When the couple got outside, all they heard was applause from five sprites sitting on their zipboards.

“Marvelous!” shouted Mouse, a bowl of popcorn in her lap. “I tell ya, honey, I haven’t heard a show like that in quite some time, though I wish I had been present to see the whole thing.”

“I see an Academy Award in your future, Sis.” Matrix said, throwing his sister a smile.

Dot held her head in her hands, while Bob shook his head. “So I guess you guys heard…” he said.

“Oh, we heard ya, sugah.” Mouse replied, giggling. “Wasn’t a way to miss you.”

“And you brought popcorn?” Dot asked, shaking her head.

“Mouse said it was a good show, lovely lady.” Ray replied, taking a handful of said popcorn.

“Well, at least I know you five are the only ones who heard that.” Dot sighed, already receiving a headache in anticipation for tomorrow’s onslaught of questions and comments.

“And the pirates!” Enzo piped up.

“Great.” Dot muttered. “That just adds to a list of…how do you know the pirates are still up?” Dot asked, glaring at her younger brother.


“We don’t.” AndrAIa replied, swatting Enzo on the arm for his slip.

“We’re just guessing.” Matrix added.

“Okay, people,” Bob said, trying to get these spectators home. “Show’s over. You can all go home now.”

“Aw, but Bob, we didn’t get to see you guys kiss and make up.” Enzo whined.

“Yeah.” AndrAIa supplied.

Mouse, sensing some reluctance from the newly formed couple, offered, “If you guys do one kiss, we promise we’ll go home.”

“One kiss and you’ll go home?” Bob asked, arching an eyebrow.

“Promise, mate.” Ray said.

“One little peck and you’ll all go home?” Dot questioned.

“Yes.” they all answered.

Bob and Dot looked at each other, contemplating a decision. “One little kiss wouldn’t hurt.” Bob said. “And they would go home.”

Dot was still reluctant. After some prodding from Bob and the other five, she sighed and agreed. One little peck on the lips wouldn’t hurt and the other four would leave, or so they said.

“All right.” she said, sighing. “But just one kiss!” she told Bob as he wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Of course.”

Bob smiled, before leaning in and kissing her. For the newly formed couple, one kiss couldn’t be enough. The small peck soon escalated into a much deeper kiss. Dot took her hand and signalled for everyone to leave.

“Okay, people,” Mouse shouted, jumping on her zipboard. “Show’s over for tonight. You heard the girl. One kiss and we leave.”

“But…” Ray persisted.

“No buts, sugah.” the hacker replied. “We did promise.”

“What about Enzo?” Matrix asked, standing on his zipboard.

“He can spend the night with you and AndrAIa.”

“Aw, but Mouse…” the large sprite complained, but was quickly shushed by Mouse.

“Go on, git!” she said, giving Matrix a shove in the direction of his shared apartment with his girlfriend. “The lot of ya! Go on. That means you too, Ray, honey. Let’s leave the lovebirds to their mating.”

Dot gave a final wave to everyone, to which Mouse smirked. She followed the other sprites, catching Enzo’s enthusiastic ramblings at spending the night with his brother and his girlfriend, Matrix’s sulking complaints, and AndrAIa and Ray’s laughter at some joke the web surfer had just told.

All in all, the night wasn’t a complete madhouse. The Enzos were getting along, her two best friends had finally done something about their feelings for one another, Phong had probably gotten into his hidden stash of cocoa, and she got a free show. Not bad for a hard second’s night. Now all she had to do was show Ray the new lighting system in Ship.

The End