"Come on, almost-" Kozimer winces when the third external drive let's out a puff of smoke and a sad crackle.
He hadn't accounted for how HUGE James is. The original program would fit easily, but James had expanded himself to take up the whole ship and was constantly adjusting his own coding as he needed. James was something entirely new, something no one had even thought was possible. He's like nothing, no ONE that Kozimer has ever met.
The meeting with Selkvus had made Kozimer realize several things. It would be so, so easy for someone to tamper with James. For someone who didn't understand how amazing he was to go and try to "fix" him. For someone to see James as only a weapon. James was more than a code, he was something bigger, but he could be tampered with like a code.
And Kozimer can't risk anything happening to him.
"Fourth time's the charm." He mutters, digging around for a larger drive. The pile of them is supposed to be for data and program backup. But, well, somethings are more important.
Technically he IS backing up a program. He smiles to himself at the thought as he plugs the new drive in and starts the process over.
"What are you doing?" James asks. "That feels weird."
Kozimer doesn't point out that James can't feel anything. "I'm trying to make a backup copy of you, in case anything happens."
There's a pause over the speakers while Kozimer flicks his fingers over the screen. When he speaks again, James's voice is oddly quiet.
"You can copy me?"
"Technically." Kozimer frowns as the external drive makes a suspicious crackling sound. "Though you're making it difficult." He laughs quietly, grinning as he looks at the little bits of code that flash over the screen. "Do you realize how HUGE you are? Feel free to refrain from any innuendo in response."
Kozimer blinks, looking up at the nearest camera. "What?"
"I said stop! I don't want you to! You can't make a copy of me!"
Sparks fly out from the drive an Kozimer leaps back, "James! It's a precaution! Calm down!"
"I can't just go making copies of YOU!"
"That's different! I-"
"You're what?!" James spits, "a real person?!"
It's like a punch to the gut. Kozimer clenches his hands into fists, feeling something twist in his chest before dropping heavy into his stomach. "James no. That's not-"
"Actually, go ahead!" James says breezily, "maybe you can give the copy a few upgrades! Get a few bugs out of the system! You can call it James 2.0!"
"That's not what I meant!" Kozimer yells.
"James 2.0 won't care anyway!" James retorts. Before Kozimer can say anything else there's the static crackle that means James turned the microphones off.
"If it makes you feel better," Kozimer snarls, knowing that James can't hear him, "computers don't throw tantrums!"
James doesn't answer.
He doesn't answer for two days.
By the end of the first day of silence, Kozimer is about to start flinging things around the ship just to make some NOISE. He hadn't realized how he had grown to depend on James's conversation, how many hours he spent just talking to the AI about everything and nothing. James was there when he woke up and while he was working and whenever he had anything to say.
It's at the end of the first day that he storms over to the computer and firmly types a quick, 'You are being immature. I didn't mean it like that, and there's no reason for you to go on a sulking tantrum!'
He's barely finished typing when the cursor starts moving against his command and the entire message is pointedly deleted.
"Fine!" he growls, storming away from the computer.
Usually lights bother him when he sleeps, he'll turn off or cover up as many blinking lights as he can before he curls up in the small room where his bunk is tucked.
It's completely dark, and he keeps staring at where there is usually a tiny pinpoint of blue light from James's camera. Kozimer had grown used to that one, it was always on the edge of his awareness, a faint glow that stayed through his dreams and made him feel a little less alone while he was stuck in this metal tub.
The room is dark, it's dark and silent and empty.
"I'm sorry." Kozimer whispers to where the blue light usually is.
The room stays dark.
He doesn't exactly wake up the next morning, that would have required sleeping in the first place. It also would have required a morning, which is a loose concept on the ship, but he doesn't worry too much about that.
Kozimer is too busy staring at the dark corner where the camera light usually shines, to be worried about much of anything.
There's the faint hum of the engines, the small noises of moving metal and the whirring of various electronics. Kozimer can hear his own footsteps resonating through the ship, bouncing and crashing off the walls and filling his head.
He sits at the main screen, staring at all the readings and the constant scroll of numbers and points of data. Everything is running smoothly, not a single hitch or bug or interruption to the precise flow.
He hates it.
A few clicks brings up a blank document and he spends several more minutes staring at that instead. James may have decided to ignore everything after he deleted Kozimer's last message. This one may not even go through. There may be no point in it.
Thinking about that is a nice way of ignoring the fact that Kozimer isn't entirely sure what to say.
Which isn't exactly true. He knows exactly what he wants to say.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry. You're the greatest thing that's happened to me. You are something that I can't even wrap my mind around. You've been here a little more than a year and I can't remember what it was like before I could talk to you.
I know what you felt like when you wanted to lock me away in some dark room where nothing could hurt me. I almost did the same thing to you. They could take you and change you and ruin who you are and I couldn't let it happen. I was too caught up in thinking about what it would do to me if they got you, if something happened to you.
But you're not something to be copied, you're not something that can be mimicked or recreated or simply written down to pick up later.
His hands clench, then unclench. His fingers tap a staccato near the keyboard as he stares at the blank screen.
He starts to type, stops, erases it all before he finishes one word.
Kozimer huffs out an annoyed sigh, frowning intently as he finally types his message out.
'I'm sorry, James.'
It's not nearly enough, but at least it isn't erased on the spot this time. Kozimer glowers at the three insufficient words.
He highlights them, feeling a bit silly, and changes the font to comic sans.
'I'm sorry, James.'
The click of the speakers is so loud that Kozimer nearly falls out of his chair.
"I can't believe you-..did you just actually make that comic sans? You're such a dork."
He knows his grin is getting a bit on the stupid side but he can't seem to get the damn thing under control. "I thought I may have to stoop down to your language."
"Wow that is rude, nice apology there."
"I'm sorry." He says seriously, fingers tapping at the edge of the console.
"Yeah....well me too I guess. I mean, that was really damn stupid of you. But I probably shouldn't have just cut out like that. I'm glad you managed not to burn the thing down without me taking care of you."
"I piloted this ship for a damn whole year without you." Kozimer huffs.
"Yeah and I bet you were going a bit crazy."
His face is starting to hurt, he wasn't designed to smile like this. And it's just humiliating, knowing that James can see it. Kozimer is supposed to be serious right now.
"Maybe a bit." He admits.
"Aw come on big guuyyyy." James teases. "Admit it, you loooovve meeeeeeeee!"
Kozimer freezes, fingers digging into the material of his sleeve of his suit.
He needs to laugh, needs to react and make some witty comeback needs to do something besides sit here like an idiot while his heart tries to climb out from between his ribs.
He pulls up the mainscreen again, clearing his throat while he begins looking over the new data.
"Maybe a bit." He says.
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