It wasn’t that Adao didn’t want to pass on Grayson’s message from his future self. It was that he didn’t know how to begin. Over the next few months, he barely spoke to Grayson, who was busy with college life. But finally, he returned home for spring break.
“Oh, you know. A lot of the same,” said Adao. Which basically meant that Adao had been sequestered in his basement, fine tuning his time machine and cranking out his first set of humanoid robots. Well, he had managed to leave a few times, to go to the gym and workout, or to meet with Ivy and sometimes with Virginia, who was finally out of the mental hospital and thriving on her new medication.
“Oh, and well…I met a girl,” he told Grayson, the tips of his ears burning.
“A girl?” Grayson’s face split into a huge grin. “A girl who’s not Ivy Malik? ’Bout time! What’s she like? Tell me everything.”
Adao laughed. “Why? So you can steal her away?” Although he was pretty sure that Melanie wasn’t Grayson’s type. For one thing, she was a girl. But also, Melanie was – well, quiet, and sweet, and even smarter about computers and robotics than Adao.
“Look,” said Adao, “there’s something I have to tell you. But you won’t believe me unless I show you.”
“Show me what?” Grayson asked. But Adao refused to say anything until later that afternoon, when Grayson came over.
“Grayson, I’d like for you to meet S.I.M,” said Adao. “It stands for Smart Interactive Machine.”
Grayson’s face drained as white as the snow outside. “What…what is this?”
“Hello, I am pleased to meet you, Grayson Tanaka,” said SIM in a choppy robotic voice, which Adao was still working to make more human-like.
“No way!” Grayson stared at the robot, his mouth hanging open. “No freaking way!”
Adao smiled and gave a half-shrug. “Well here’s the thing. Robots aren’t the only thing I’ve invented.” Taking a deep breath, he began to explain to Grayson about the time machine, about traveling to the future, and about meeting the future version of his best friend.
When he was finished, Grayson shook his head in disbelief. “So let me get this straight – the future me is loaded, the CEO of a huge company, has a gorgeous wife and kids, and hates his life? What the hell?” He laughed. “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! What more am I supposed to want?”
Before Adao could answer, SIM spoke up. “The logical answer appears to be that the future Grayson Tanaka did not feel as though he was fulfilled. In the midst of his fame and fortune, he forgot to be true to himself.”
Grayson and Adao both stared at SIM. Then Grayson asked in a hushed voice, “So…how much can I pay you to have this robot?”
“Sorry,” said Adao. “He’s just a prototype.”
Before Grayson returned to university, the four friends – Grayson, Adao, Virginia, and Ivy, got together for a party at Neon, where they drank too much, and danced all night. And just as Ivy and Adao had planned together, Ivy pulled Grayson aside. “There’s someone I want you to meet,” she said. “This is J.T. He and I work together at…a bank. I think that the two of you may have a lot in common.”
“Hi,” said J.T., his eyes locking with Grayson’s.
“Hi,” said Grayson.
Eyes twinkling, Ivy melted back into the crowd.