HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 375

The limo rolled to a stop in front of the Champion Hotel. The four of them sat in awkward silence beneath the shadow of the old building for a long moment.

“I… guess I should go,” Sam said. “Sorry for causing so much trouble. And, uh, breaking into your office.”

“Water under the bridge,” Jeannette replied.

Sam smiled and climbed out of the car. Frederica leaned out after them.

“Hey, hold up,” she said, and turned back to Nila. “I have something to take care of here. Are you okay heading home by yourself?”

“Oh sure,” Nila said. “I’ve got plenty more questions I’d like to ask Ms. Carroll anyway. Not every day you get to have a chat with an android.”

Frederica nodded and glanced at Jeannette.

“I’m sorry about all this, too,” she said. “Your secret’s safe with us. If you ever do decide to tell the world, though, maybe drop me a line. I’m studying journalism and could always use the exclusive.”

She winked and Jeannette chuckled.

“I admire your pragmatism,” Jeannette said. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Frederica climbed out of the car.

“So what kind of power source do you use?” Nila asked. “Is it—”

The door shut behind Frederica and the limo pulled away. Sam waited on the sidewalk, staring down at their hands.

“Thanks for doing all this for me,” they said. “Sorry it was a waste of time.”

“It wasn’t a waste,” Frederica said. “You found the answers you were looking for and I’m glad I could help.”

Sam smiled.

“Do me a favor, though,” they said. “If you ever meet my brother, never speak of this. I can’t handle another ‘I told you so’ from him.”

“Trust me, I know that feeling all too well,” Frederica said. “My lips are sealed.”