He was going to make up an excuse, maybe dig up some stupid reason to write it off. But his head wasn’t in the right place. All this stress was knocking against the insides of his skulls, and churning out that faint awful scratching noise in his chest, an internal sound heard by him but covered mostly by the outward noise of NOV’s purr. “Fuck.” He smacked the heel of of his palm against his forehead. “I feel like shit becauseZEKEcameback and I was starting to try to feel better without her around but now that she’s back Ijustfeellikeshereallydidn’t like me in the first place. And to top it off my fucking in-system sales justaren’thittingoffanymore and I think it’s because there are more programs who’ll give their music for free. Andand I downsized this apartment butIstillcan’tafford it, soldmyrunnertoo, all these fuckingthingsIhave got too expense to keep—Fuuu—”
And now that, that was the whole background, a tremendous amount of pressure overflowing, how could NOV help? He pulled on the program’s arm resting on his shoulder, leaning his face towards the other.
iTunes had snapped at NOV plenty of times before for touching, for getting close. The last time the guard had been there the MP3 player had shouted at him when the other tried “getting snuggy”. But like a simple dog, faithful and naive despite so much abuse, he always returned and tried again, always tried to please. Always a fool who thought he could help.
NOV leaned forward and wrapped his other arm around the other’s side, pulling the other into a much-needed hug. It was the only thing he could think of in the moment that he could do anything about.
He hated more than anything to be seen like this, and his aggression, always misplaced, urged him to push NOV away. Instead, iTunes wrapped his arms tightly around the guard. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been hugged. That was pretty sad, he thought, because hugging felt pretty damn good. It didn’t fix anything. But it somehow improved the situation, in a way he couldn’t place. He only noticed a moment later that something hot was spilling from his eyes, and he recognized it as tears.