Sal heard ripping.
Sal didn't like that sound.
Especially when that sound was coming from her living room, which a certain someone had been explicitly told to stay out of, not just by her, but by every authority he'd recognized. Em had even programmed him a dream where Captain Cannonball of sugar-cereal fame told him to stay out of the living room. If anything should've stopped him that would've been it.
And yet, clearly, he was in the living room.
She muttered something unprintable as she grabbed the flyswatter and stomped down the hall. That little shredding machine on legs was going to get it this time, especially if it was the curtains.
“It's not the curtains!” said the twelve step “Bright side of things” course in the back of her head and the top of her fridge underneath the phone book. “It's... a recording! Sure! Let's go with that!”
She didn't believe the twelve step course, but belief was the first step.
“It's not the curtains. It's not the curtains. It's not the curtains.” She repeated slowly, as she walked down the hall.
It was the curtains.
She wasn't surprised. Score one for pessimism.
Why was it always the curtains?
Sal stared at the seemingly innocuous little ball of metal, quivering at her expected wrath, then looked back at the torn shreds of blue ribbon that had been her new curtains. Had been. For the third time this week.
The quivering little ball stopped quivering and held stock still.
“Kevlar,” she repeated, with more of the very-angry-mother tone she'd somehow picked up between now and when she'd met this little ball of... fun. Yes. Fun. “I know that that's you.”
“Not.” The voice didn't look like it's coming from the ball, but it was.
“Not! Kevlar sleeping upstairs.”
“No, Kevlar is not sleeping upstairs.”
“Kevlar in kitchen, helping.”
“Kevlar is not in the kitchen, helping.” And he wouldn't be any time in the near future either, if she had anything to say about it. Cleaning batter off of the ceiling fan once was quite enough, thank you very much. “Kevlar is on my living room floor, where he shouldn't be, underneath my new curtains, which he was not allowed to touch, which have also, somehow, gotten shredded. That's where Kevlar is.”
“Kevlar not touch curtains.” The ball unrolled, and the little robot sat on her floor, looking up at her guiltily. “Kevlar only look.”
“If Kevlar was only looking, then who, pray tell, ripped my curtains?”
“Josephus isn't here.”
“Yep! Josephus rip curtains, run. Not here!”
“Josephus hasn't been here for three hours.”
“Josephus run very fast.”
Sal sighed. Time for Kevlar logic. “Kevlar, I'm a detective. You know what that means?”
“Not care.” Kevlar started picking something out of his claws. She didn't know what it was, but the twelve step optimist course assured her that it was not tiny bits of her curtains that would get scattered all over the house for the next 8 hours or so.
“It means,” she said, completely serious, “That I have psychic powers, and I can read your mind.”
“Can! You're thinking...” She closed her eyes and waved her hand in a very psychic way. “That I can't read you mind.”
The robot stared, completely silent for a moment, stuck in something midway between shock and awe, then slowly put his claws on top of his head. “Can't read through hands.”
“Can.” She put a little extra spite into the word, mostly fueled by the sight of the curtain bits stuck in his claws that he'd been trying to remove. The twelve step optimist course had nothing to say.
“Ok. Think something very hard, Mr not supposed to be in the living room anyway.”
He closed his eyes. She watched him for five seconds or so, smiling, before she finally spoke.
Kevlar almost fell over. “Hu-min cheat!”
“I didn't cheat. You would've noticed if I'd cheated.” She held her hands up, smiling and shaking her head. “Admit it. I'm psychic.”
“Not cheat?” Kevlar looked skeptical. “How know?”
“You're not listening, boltbrain. I'm psychic. Telepathic. Clairvoyant. Magical.” Sal did a sparkly motion with her hands on the last word. “And what's more, I can tell that you weren't just thinking about Captain Cannonball.”
The little robot started to look scared.
“You had a dream the other day, didn't you? Captain Cannonball came, and gave you cereal, and told you to stay out of my living room. You remember that, don't you? Of course you do, you were thinking about it!”
Kevlar panicked and backed up against the wall, hiding behind the shredded curtains. “No! Don't remember! Forgot! Didn't have! Not think! Hu-min stay out Kevlar head!” he wailed. “Don't like psi-kick!”
“I'm right!” She crowed. “And what's more, I can tell what you did! I see it in your mind! Admit it, Kevlar! You. Shredded. My. Curtains. You came in here, and climbed up the back of the couch, and jumped off to shred the curtains. Your mind tells all!”
“No more psi-kick! Admit! Admit! Admit curtains!”
“Good.” She crossed her arms. “And you know what happens when you shred the curtains. Time out.”
He finally peered out from behind the tattered ribbons. “Have to?”
“Shouldn't have shredded my curtains then.”
“Have to now?”
“Yes. Now.” She waved the flyswatter at him menacingly. “Or flyswatter and no dessert.”
He put his hands over his head again. “No flyswatter. Going now.”
“Good.” She barely resisted kicking the little robot as he walked out of the room. She breathed in, and out, just like she'd learned from the twelve step optimist course. He'll go do it. He'll do it quietly. She'd have an hour of quiet. Just one hour. One.
“...Curtains ugly anyway. Better now.”
She stared at him for a moment, twitching. He did not just...
“Oh, that is it!”
In retrospect, Kevlar's grip on the ceiling was rather impressive.
The holes he left in it were slightly less so.
But the twelve step optimist course made for wonderful replacement curtains.