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Chapter Four-All Compiled Up


Enzo found Bob grumbling under his breath in the Principal Office.
After their recent experience where Bob saved his brain, the young sprite
was constantly thanking the Guardian. For his age, Enzo could be very
observant despite his constant movement. He could tell Bob wasn't
happy about something.

"Hey Bob! What's wrong?"
"Oh, hi Ezno. Nothing. Your sister and I just...we..."
"Had another fight?" Enzo put in still smiling.
"I don't know what happened," Bob admitted with defeat, "I was just
teasing her about how much she works."
Phong came rolling up, having overheard the conversation. "What
exactly did you say to her, my child?"

Rubbing the back of his neck, Bob remembered their exact exchange of
words. "I said 'I wouldn't be surprised if you spent more time working
than playing with your friends as a kid'. It was just a joke and she
went ballistic on me."
"Oh dear," Phong said shaking his head, "I suggest you apologize."
"Apologize! For what? I didn't say anything wrong!" Bob replied with
surprise.
It was Enzo's turn to talk, "Uh...Bob, Dot didn't really have any
friends as a kid. At least, not that I can remember."
Bob's jaw fell open. "You're kidding. But there's that picture at
your place of her with all those sprites at the park."
"Oh that," Enzo shrugged, "It was graduation and Dot decided to have
some fun, I guess."
"I don't get it," Bob told the young and old sprites, "Dot's so...
well, friendly. She's nice to everyone. She helped me feel right at home
in Mainframe and..."
"Be that as it may, young Guardian, it is not always as easy to make
time for friends as it may seem," Phong explained, "And twice as
difficult to keep them."

Enzo and Bob went to the diner, where the sprite in question was sure
to be even though it had just closed for the night. Peeking through
the darkened windows, they saw the female sprite sitting at the counter
with her head resting on her folded arms.

Guardian 452 glanced at the young Matrix. "Maybe you should stay
here, Enzo, and call someone in case she throws a stool at me or
something." He started inside, after the kid nodded his head in understanding.
Bob approached Dot, expecting her to raise her head and glare at him.
It took him a moment to realize her precious data organizer was on and
just laying next to her peaceful form. "Oh, great. I actually come to
apologize and Dot's sleeping." He motioned for Enzo to come inside.
"You can talk, Bob," Ezno said in his usual loud, hyper way, "When Dot
is out, she is out. She could sleep through a game cube landing."
Bob sighed, "Let's put her to bed. I guess all that yelling at me
wore her out."

Bob picked Dot up and carried her home, allowing Enzo to hold open the
doors for him. He placed Dot in her bed and pulled a blanket over her.
"There," he said, satisfied with his tucking in abilities, "Enzo, do
you need anything before I go?" He turned, but the little sprite had
already run to the family room where a vid window opened for him to watch
with Mike the TV's Before Bedtime Movie. Bob exhaled and smirked, then
re-entered Dot's bedroom to check on her. Her eyes were now sitting
open and staring at him with confusion. "OH...um...hi Dot," he
embarrassedly stated, praying to the User that she wasn't about to kill him.

"Hi Bob," she replied, blinking a little, not sure of what to say
next.
Neither of the two noticed Enzo standing just outside the doorway to
find out how it was all going to turn out.
Guardian Bob took a deep breath. "I'm sorry that I upset you earlier.
I didn't mean to."
"I know. I'm sorry I overreacted," she told him with sincerity.
Meanwhile, Enzo thought his heart was going to stop. They were
actually apologizing to each other without having to be tricked into it.
Bob took the chair from Dot's desk and pulled it up next to her bed.
Sitting down, he motioned to one of the pictures on her wall. Directly
below the photo of Dot, Enzo, and their father was the scene of
graduation night at Floating Point Park. Dot was the way she had been when he
first met her, a colorful, cheery girl with rainbow streaks in her hair
and her icon hanging on a necklace. She was sitting with various ones,
zeros, and young sprites. "Hey, there’s Mr. Mitchell’s girlfriend,"
he said pointing to a zero known as Ana Crom, "Where are all these other
friends of yours now, anyway."

"Most of them weren't really my friends," she admitted casually, "We'd
all known each other our whole lives. It was like they were more used
to me then were my friends, except for maybe Paq. Where they all are,
I couldn't say. I know Sixtyfive, Palo Smith, and girlfriend
were...in the explosion of the twin city. The rest of them all left. Paq was
the first. She was out of Mainframe as soon as we had intersystem
transport. I lost track of the rest of them."
Bob gave a little nod of sympathy. "I find it hard to believe you
didn't have more real friends, Dot."

"Well, it wasn't as easy for me as it probably was for you, Mr. Super
Computer. I had to compile up with those sprites. You probably met new
people all the time," she argued in self defense.

"Whoa, hold on a nano," Bob replied holding up his hands, "Don't think
it was that easy. True, I was one of the more likable cadets. Just my
natural charm, I guess." Dot rolled her eyes and he eased off the
ego-trip. "But because of my ideas and theories about Users and viruses
I'd end up by myself a lot when it came time for class projects."
"What's wrong with your theories? At least they aren't another
destruction of the world story or myth about how the Users came to be."
"You don't mind listening to my theories?!" Bob questioned with
surprise.
"Why should I?" Dot said, "There's no harm in listening. And despite
your...rash methods, you have some plausible ideas."

Bob smiled at her, his true boyish grin of happiness. "Thanks, Dot."
He glanced at her alarm vid window. "I should probably get home before
Mike tries to hold a party in the apartment or use it as a studio or
something." He returned the chair to it's proper place and switched off
Dot's bedroom lamp. With the light from the hallway, he moved back to
her bedside and kissed her on the forehead.

He started for the door, when Dot called out, "Bob, tomorrow will you
come with me to Floating Point Park? There's something I left there."
"No problem," Bob replied, "Good night, friend."

******************

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