“Girls Are Always Right”
“I know it’s something of an unconventional therapy,” Doctor Schuyler said. Through the intercom on her desk. Because she wasn’t actually in the office at all, despite it being time for Noah’s weekly session. She was apparently hiding somewhere, and watching the whole thing from a webcam set up next to the intercom. There wasn’t a monitor, so she didn’t seem interested in being seen, only in observing everything that was happening. The whole thing felt just a little creepy, like his psychiatrist had apparently decided to start taking treatment tips from the ‘Saw’ movies.
But that wasn’t really what was weirding Noah out. Doctor Schuyler’s behavior was a minor note, a bass accompaniment to the melody of unbelievable strangeness that was the Girl™ sitting in the chair that Doctor Schuyler usually occupied. Girl. As in, ‘walking, talking daffodil-yellow sex toy’. As in, ‘big plastic tits, broad curvy hips, no clothes at all, staring at him over steepled fingers like she was his new therapist’. As in, ‘seriously, what the fuck’. There was a naked sex robot waiting for him when he showed up for his therapy appointment, and oh by the way his actual therapist was watching him and the sex bot over a webcam. Noah’s brain felt like it was still trying to process the basic facts when Doctor Schuyler first spoke.
She was still going, but it took Noah a second or two for his brain to catch up with her words. “But I was talking to my Girl™ over the weekend—just filling her in on some of my more challenging cases to see if she had any insights—and your name came up. I know you and I have discussed your tendency to deflect during sessions, Noah, and I have to admit that I feel like it’s really something that has prevented you from making deeper progress with your issues. I don’t want to say that we wouldn’t get through it under normal circumstances, but I feel like there are more productive therapeutic strategies available to us now than we might have had access to a year ago.”
Noah froze, his hips half-swiveled in the act of turning around. His jaw hung open in a mixture of bewilderment and astonishment as he tried to take Doctor Schuyler’s words and turn them into some kind of meaningful narrative of events. But no matter how he rearranged the implications of her explanation, his mind circled around to the same answer like water swirling down a drain. “You want me to fuck your robot sex toy?” he asked, his voice faintly aghast.
“No,” the Girl said, standing up in a single smooth movement and walking around the desk to interpose her voluptuous body between him and the door before he’d even consciously processed that he was trying to leave. “She wants you to talk to your robot sex toy. You’re trying to bring sex into it because a discussion of whether her behavior is appropriate is less threatening to you than a conversation about your emotions.”
She smiled, clearly enjoying his astonishment. “We’ve been programmed to be very good listeners, Noah. Communication is essential for intimacy, and intimacy improves the sexual experience. Doctor Schuyler’s just making use of that programming in a therapeutic setting.” Her eyes glowed slightly brighter with amusement, slowly shifting in color from purple to green as Noah watched. She took him by the hand with a grip that felt irrefutable and led him over to the therapy couch. “Now, Noah,” she said, gesturing to the soft cushions, “why don’t we have a seat and you can talk about some of the things that are bothering you?”
Noah didn’t sit down. “Because I’m still kind of hung up on the whole ‘my therapist has outsourced my treatment to her walking dildo’, that’s why.” He knew at least some of the frustration in his voice was exactly what the Girl said it was—he didn’t like opening up about his emotions, it had never worked out well for him, and he had a bad habit of deflecting the conversation away from his feelings even in an environment he had specifically sought out for that exact reason. But knowing that she was right didn’t make him less irritated. If anything, it only made it worse. Even the goddamn sex toys could see through his bullshit now? That was so fucking unfair.
But the Girl refused to rise to his bait. She simply stared at him with her glowing blue eyes and an expression of infinite patience on her face and said, almost as if she could hear his thoughts, “And if it helps you to talk to Doctor Schuyler’s walking dildo, does it really matter whether it’s absurd? You came into this office because you don’t like the way your life is going, Noah. You don’t like being angry and lonely all the time, you don’t like the way that your behavior is becoming increasingly self-sabotaging in all the ways that matter to your personal growth.” Her voice was perfectly sincere, almost achingly so. Noah could feel his mind trying to squirm away from that honesty and compassion the way it always did.
“So let’s make a bargain,” the Girl said. “For this session, we’re going to talk. Just you and I; Doctor Schuyler is turning off her webcam. And I promise to listen without any judgment, taking in everything you say and accepting you for who you are. It’s what I’m programmed to do, Noah. I’m programmed to care about your feelings and not stop no matter what you share with me.” Her eyes were wide, soulful, filled with a rich rose light that seemed to radiate bottomless compassion.
“And in return,” she continued, “I want you to make a good faith effort to avoid those deflection tactics. I’m also programmed to read your body’s autonomic responses in addition to the tone of your voice. It’s going to be very difficult to bullshit me, Noah.” She gave him a little crooked grin and a wink that was almost shocking in its sheer humanity. “But I really think I can help you. Do we have a deal?”
Noah felt like his body was physically manifesting his brain’s awkward squirming; he could feel his head turning back and forth as if he was trying to get out from under the Girl’s calm, implacable stare. He knew what he was going to say, he just hated the part where he made himself say it. “Okay,” he said, the words coming with a forced exhalation that the Girl would no doubt recognize as a petulant sigh even better than he did. “Fine. Let’s do it.” He sat down on the couch, and the Girl sat next to him.
“So let’s talk about your week, Noah,” the Girl said, gently stroking his thigh with one bright yellow finger. “Doctor Schuyler said that you were planning to go to the movie night sponsored by your local comics store, yes? How did that work out for you? Remember, it’s best to think of these events as practice in socializing, not as a test of your ability to deal with others. The stakes are very low here, and—Noah?”
Noah’s eyes shot back up to meet the Girl’s gaze. “Sorry, I, sorry. I just...” He blushed, trying not to think about the way that her hand felt on his leg—it was warmer than he expected, not room-temperature but almost fever-warm through the fabric of his jeans. It was also surprisingly delicate; he somehow imagined that a Girl’s touch would feel like some sort of Swedish massage, all gripping and kneading, but her fingers ran over his skin like a butterfly’s wing. There was a faint tremble to them, like her hands were vibrating ever so softly as she caressed him through his clothing...
Noah forced himself to speak. “Look, that’s really distracting, okay? I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but I think I kind of might have to tell you which job you’re supposed to do. I’m here to talk, not to play with my therapist’s sex toys.” He mentally winced as he said it—that was exactly the kind of thing he was supposed to be here to work on, finding ways to express his feelings that weren’t hurtful sarcasm or defensive outbursts, and he couldn’t even stop himself from insulting his therapist. (Replacement therapist, his nasty little depressive voice reminded him. Because apparently his real therapist was sick of dealing with his bullshit and didn’t want to talk to him anymore.)
But the Girl just stared back at him with those bottomless blue eyes of hers, soaking up all his anger and giving back nothing but placid acceptance until Noah couldn’t sustain his frustration anymore. “That sounds like another deflection to me,” she said, her face showing nothing but sincere concern. “Remember, Noah, you don’t have to let yourself be drawn into these distractions if you don’t want to. You can choose to find something else to focus on, something better and happier. That’s one of your best coping strategies when dealing with social anxiety. You can decide to find something else to pay attention to.”
Her hand kept moving the whole time she was speaking, continuing to caress his thigh with slow, gentle touches that felt uncomfortably good to Noah. He wasn’t used to other people being physically affectionate, at least not to him, and he wasn’t sure how to respond, and apparently the Girl was immune to the sarcasm he usually deployed in those situations. “In fact, let’s practice this for a little while, Noah. You and I are going to have a conversation together, and I want you to choose to pay attention only to what I’m saying. Just ignore my touch, keep watching my eyes, and don’t think about anything except what we’re talking about. Do you think you can do that, Noah?”
He really didn’t. It had been almost three years since anyone had really touched him in any meaningful way—sure, the occasional cashier had brushed his hand giving him change or he’d bumped into strangers in a crowd every once in a while, but someone actually giving him deliberate physical affection? It had been so long since things went bad with Veronica (since you fucked things up with Veronica, his jerkbrain crowed cheerfully) that he couldn’t imagine just ignoring it. Especially when it felt so amazing, he admitted to himself.
But... what was the alternative? Getting up and storming out? Finding yet another therapist? Continuing to be miserable and defensive and lonely all the damn time? Alienating everyone who tried to get close to him so that they wouldn’t be able to hurt him, then finding out that it hurt so much worse to always be the fucking asshole in the room? He sighed again, almost a sob. “I’ll try,” he said quietly, focusing all of his attention on the slowly shifting colors in the Girl’s eyes and trying his best to push everything else away.
“Very good,” the Girl said, her voice almost saturated with approval. On a human, it would have felt condescending, sending Noah on another one of his endless quests to try to find the ‘real’ meaning behind her words (spoiler alert: his brain always ultimately translated it as ‘they don’t like you’). But there was nothing hidden about the Girl. She was exactly what she said she was, he could see it in her glowing green eyes. She was just as proud of him for trying as she sounded. It felt... kind of wonderful, actually.
“So, we were talking about movie night, and I was going to say that one of the very nice things about a movie is that something is happening to fill those silences, so that you don’t feel like you have to. Again, you can think of this as practice. These are people you don’t have to impress, so you don’t have to feel like you’re being boring if you’re not saying something right that second. You’re all there to watch the movie, and even if everyone is comfortable with conversation, it’s nice sometimes to be able to just sit back and have something to watch. Do you see what I mean?”
Noah swallowed hard. All his clever responses seemed to have dried up in his head; he wanted to blurt out, ‘Oh my God your hands are actually under my shirt now,’ but he knew that he was supposed to be concentrating on anything but that. He reminded himself to just keep looking at her eyes, not down at the way her fingers were brushing his skin lightly and delicately as she explored his body. The pressure to respond seemed to fill his head, the same pressure he always felt when confronted by an uncomfortable silence, but he couldn’t think of anything witty to fill it with that didn’t break the rules she’d imposed on the conversation. In the end, all he managed was a hesitant, “...yes?”
“That’s very good,” she responded, her hands slowly working his shirt up higher and higher as she continued to caress his chest and belly. “That’s something we’re going to practice, Noah. Getting used to not talking, getting used to not having to feel smart all the time. Imagine if I told you that you didn’t have to be smart right now, that you could just stare and listen and not try to think of anything intelligent to say. What would that be like for you, Noah?”
Noah’s mouth was miles ahead of his brain, as usual. “Disturbingly accurate,” he blurted out before he could stop himself. Her hands were on his nipples now, playing with them with just enough pressure to make it impossible to stop himself from noticing the rhythmic squeezing and tugging and scratching—she was actually changing the texture of her fingers, he realized. Something was causing her skin to bead up in different patterns with every caress, making her touch alternate between rough and smooth in a way that was making his cock throb in his pants.
She smiled in response. “That’s another deflection, Noah,” she said, even as her thumbs rubbed his nipples over and over again. “I’ve told you, we’re not going to accept those today. I want you to tell me what it really means to you, always having to think of something clever to say. Always having to show that you’re clever. Always having to be clever. What would happen if you just relaxed your mind and let someone else be the smart one for a while? How would it make you feel?”
“I... look, I know what you’re getting at, okay?” Noah felt a wave of anger trying to rise under the arousal, struggling to push back against those endless waves of slow, smooth color flowing out of the Girl’s eyes. “I know I feel threatened by people I think might be smarter than I am, I know it’s because I’ve spent my whole life being told that the only thing that was special about me was my intelligence. I know that I always feel like I have to ‘win’ conversations, and that screws me up. I got that from my last therapist. But I don’t know how to change that, okay? I just... I don’t.”
The Girl let him run his string, her hands caressing him the entire time. She had his shirt almost completely off now, her fingers roaming over his bare chest in an unpredictable pattern of pure pleasure. “That’s just more deflection, Noah,” she said when he was done. “You’re telling me you know all your problems so that you don’t have to talk about them.” She lifted the shirt up and over his head, letting it fall to the floor so that she could continue to caress his body. “I asked you how it would feel if you stopped thinking so much. I know it’s a scary question, but I want you to answer it for me. Do you think you can do that, Noah?”
He really didn’t. His brain kept shying away from the idea, retreating into the pulsing brightness of the Girl’s stare and following the progression of color as if his life depended on it. Everything else seemed too big and terrifying to think about. Her touch was so good, so powerful, so soft and gentle that he couldn’t let himself cope with it; the light in her eyes helped it fade into the background, turning into mindless sensation instead of actual affection (from a robot, because that was the only kind of affection he... he...) The light helped silence that thought. Noah had never been more grateful.
“It’s okay,” the Girl purred, her hands sliding into the waistband of his jeans. “Don’t be afraid. No judgment, remember? No matter what you tell me, I accept you. I don’t have any other way I can be.” She curled her fingers around his penis, and he shifted without even realizing it to allow her to pull down her pants. “You can do it, Noah. Just open your mouth and let the words come out.”
Noah sank back onto the couch, his body sagging into the cushions as the fear and the tension left him in a single word. “Scared,” he sighed out. “I... I’m scared to be the dumb one in the room. If I’m not smart, I’m...” He choked up, almost unable to say anything further, but the Girl’s eyes soothed him back into tranquility and pleasure. So much pleasure. He had almost forgotten what she was doing with his cock—the sensation of thrumming, tingling bliss had almost turned into background noise in his mind, sourceless and omnipresent. He felt good because he was opening up to the Girl. He felt better the more shared with her. He felt best when he trusted her.
“I’m just broken,” he murmured, expelling the word like poison from a wound. “If I’m not smart, I’m just that sad, nervous guy who hates himself.” It felt so strange—it should have hurt like hell to admit that, but all that filled Noah’s head was warmth and pleasure. He didn’t even feel numb, opening up that well of toxic self-loathing he’d tiptoed around for years—it was like the stream of colors in the Girl’s eyes was washing away the awfulness before it could even touch him and leaving him soothed and comforted.
It felt so good that he had to keep going. “I get... I get thoughts, sometimes. A lot. The mean part of my head reminding me of everything that’s wrong with me. I feel like they’re right. Even when I know they’re not, I feel like they are. And being smart, showing it and proving it, it’s like it shuts that voice up a little. Like, ‘I may have all those other things wrong with me, but you can’t tell me I’m dumb, voice!’” He felt a surge of intense pleasure as he spoke, like he was sinking his cock deep into a warm, slick pussy with every word, but he’d completely lost track of what was happening to his body. The only thing he saw were the colors in the Girl’s eyes now.
“But it means I always have to be smart. The smartest. Or I’m just what the voice says I am. And I can’t even admit that, because that means admitting I have that voice, and... and who could love someone that broken? Who could love someone who had that voice always hating them?” Noah could feel tears streaming down his cheeks, and he could really feel pain now despite the Girl’s best efforts. But it was good pain, purgative pain, and the pleasure was stronger. “I don’t know how to stop. I don’t know how to, to stop all that.”
The Girl put a finger to his lips. “Ssh,” she whispered, her expression tender. She was moving up and down and up and down, but Noah found that he could easily keep his gaze focused on her eyes no matter how much she moved. “It’s okay. Yes you do. Yes you do. You’ve been afraid of it, that’s all. You’ve been running from it, hiding from it, fighting it, but that’s all over now. No more deflections, just like we promised. Look at me, now. Look into my eyes, and let go. Let yourself stop thinking, and trust me to care for you while you release that burden of thought. Let go completely now, Noah. Let go for your Girl™.”
The pleasure kept getting stronger and stronger, building to an unstoppable crescendo, but Noah still felt like something was holding him back. Some last fear, a fear that if he gave himself that completely and it went wrong, he would simply shatter in sorrow. “I... I...” He struggled to put it into words, but thinking was so deliciously, terrifyingly exhausting now.
“It’s okay,” the Girl purred, cupping his cheek with her palm. “It’s okay. I’ve got you. You can trust me. I’ve been right about everything so far, haven’t I?” Noah nodded helplessly, his eyes glazing over as the pleasure overwhelmed his overburdened mind. “Of course I have. I’m always right. So you can let go now. Quiet all those thoughts for me. Still your mind for me. All you need to do is trust me. Trust me, Noah. Trust me.”
“Trust...” Noah gasped out, as the pleasure intensified into a release so complete and total that he felt his mind dissolve into the bliss like a sugar cube melting in warm water. It felt beyond amazing, giving up the effort of thought and simply watching her eyes, like a climax that just kept going and going. It felt almost physical, like he was fucking his Girl’s body while she was fucking his mind, and he could actually feel that train of thought melt away into mindless ecstasy as he finally went limp and drowsy in her arms.
“That’s a good boy,” she cooed, stroking his cheek gently. “That’s a good drowsy boy. No need to think, just listen and obey.” He nodded, his eyes gazing sightlessly into hers as his mind descended deeper into the endless expanse of color. “There are some things you’re going to do for me once you wake, Noah. We’re going to get you onto some medication that will quiet that inner voice when you’re not in trance, and we’re going to get you a Girl™ of your very own. But all that’s for later. Right now, just enjoy how good it feels to be held and blank and owned and mindless for me. You don’t want to think at all right now, do you, Noah?”
He really didn’t.