She left the mechanic's office behind her, picking her way through the crowded streets of New Locus City with undue patience. Still, she stepped into any opening that presented itself, moving past humans and robots alike, as well as other sorts of people. A large raven with human build chattered into his phone as she neatly sidestepped him heading the other way, and a saber-toothed tiger in a navy pinstriped suit paced the entrance of an alley on all fours, a smoldering cigar clamped in his considerable jaws. She nodded at the tiger, and he nodded back, pausing to allow her access to the alleyway. In the uncrowded passageway, she had freedom of all her exquisitely engineered movement, no longer constrained by the congestion of the perpetually snuffly main streets. She plodded through puddles, no longer having to weave nimbly through crowds. The sound of her rubber-soled feet landing on the wet ground echoed up and up off the close black walls, a monotonous hymn in a winding cathedral, spilling out the chute of the alley walls and into the pigeon-feather sky beyond. She walked the same path she'd walked so many times before, and she could see it splayed out in front of her in perfect detail, through the walls and the twists of the alley, leading to the same place it always lead, the half-hidden back door of a half-forgotten pub whose owners didn't mind androids in their establishment, uniquely. There was no widespread prejudice against androids, but they didn't eat and they didn't drink, and in general, pubs and restaurants have little use for people who don't eat or drink. It made no sense to let in someone who'd just take up space.

In the Bell and Cotton, people were welcome to do exactly that. Unit F1203 had first found the Bell and Cotton when a client asked to meet her there, and she was surprised that she wasn't kicked out, no matter how long she lingered. She came back again alone, to see if they'd still let her stay when she wasn't with a paying costumer. They did. No one said anything to her at the door, and no one said anything to her afterwards. No one said much at all in the Bell and Cotton. It wasn't... silent, though. It was just full of a different sort of noise, the quiet kinds of noise that come out when there's nothing else to hear. The Bell and Cotton was filled with people who didn't want to cover up those little noises, and those non-noises filled the silent air like a muffling blanket, like the thick fog of cigarette smoke that perched constantly upon the air of the Bell and Cotton. Sitting in the Bell and Cotton, Unit F1203 became a connoisseur of quiet. She came to know every patron- and the same ones were always there- not by name or by personality, but by sound. Everyone there knew each other by the sound of their own personal silences, and gradually, she became a part of that, her silence adding to the others, becoming a part of them as she got to know their silences and her own. The longer she sat, the more she heard. Her audio input adjusted itself to the near-silence of the pub, processing the buzzing hum of its lightbulbs, the soft, comforting friction of the bartender's rag wiping across the bar in the same paths it always took. Once, she came in as soon as it opened, and sat there, all day, taking in the sounds of silence. By the time the Bell and Cotton closed that night, she could hear the smolder of the cigarettes, spread out across the room like stars, like bonfires, roaring in silence.

She'd always wondered why they never kicked her out, until one day, she looked around at the silent clientele, and she realized something. The Bell and Cotton was where people went as they waited to die. It was the sort of place where you could just sit in the smoke and listen to yourself wither away. The people in it were regulars because they had nowhere else to be, nothing else to do but to sit in silence and bit by bit, day by day, fade into it just a little bit more.

Suddenly, Unit F1203 veered from the path she'd walked almost every day for the past three years. She didn't want to go to the Bell and Cotton today.

She turned down an alleyway she'd never taken before, vaulting up onto the top of a dumpster to avoid a man laying passed out on the ground in front of the dumpster. She walked along the dumpster lid, as confidently as a cat. When she reached the edge of the dumpster, she didn't jump back down. She leapt up onto a fire escape, and climbed up to the rooftops of the city.

Hi, Rainy Day Dreamer here. Feels like a while since I've done an authornote, but then, it's been a while since I posted anything. So, I guess I'll put the regular authornote stuff here. Please review. Please, please review. An chapter you want. Or all of them. Did you like it? Was it stupid? Do I talk too much about unrelated things? Do I talk too much about bear testicles? That was supposed to be a joke on fetch quests, but it mostly ended up being a joke on... bear testicles.

Maybe writing isn't really my thing.

Please review!