Max Headroom

Bryce's Request

Author's Note: This story takes place in an alternate version of the TV series universe just after the Academy episode.

Edison put his camera on Theora's control desk when he arrived at what he called 'the office'.

"Anything going on today?" he asked her, cheerfully.

"You're in a chipper mood today," Theora responded. "Nothing Edison Carter-worthy. A poodle ran away from home and a medical chopper exploded."

"Should've phoned me about the poodle." Edison joked.

Truth be told, he knew that the poodle story would actually generate more ratings. All the medical chopper story would get was a little boost if they showed the explosion. And it would only be for the few seconds that they could see it. If a viewer didn't know a victim, they didn't really care who died. A missing poodle, on the other hand, was a story they could follow. And the more sensitive viewers would be on the edges of their seats waiting to learn if the dog had made it home. Also, if it was a female, some viewers would be counting how many times Edison uttered the word 'bitch' during the show.

"Oh. And Bryce wants a word with you. He said to come up as soon as you got in. Didn't want to speak over the vu-phone."

"I'll be right back, then," Edison said, heading up to Bryce's studio.

As he stepped onto the lift, Edison wondered if Bryce wanted to talk about the incident involving the zipping hackers at ACS.. Perhaps Bryce wanted to offer a further apology or work out a way to make amends with Reg. Though Edison personally thought that Bryce's getting Reg out of the trouble he'd gotten him into was apology enough. So had Reg, Edison thought. He'd accepted Bryce as a friend at the celebration Dom had thrown after Reg's return to Big Time.

Stepping off the lift, Edison walked down the short hallway and into Bryce's studio.

"You wanted to see me, Bryce?"

Unexpectedly, Bryce stood up and stepped as close as he dared to Edison. He was shaking all over as if absolutely terrified of what he was about to either say or do.

"Make love to me, Edison. Please?"

Edison's eyes went wide for a moment. This was absolutely the last thing he would've expected Bryce to request of him. And he could tell by the amount of shaking that Bryce was doing that it was a request he really didn't want to make.

"No," he replied.

"Please, Edison!" Bryce begged, tears welling up in his eyes. "Please!"

"You don't really want me to," Edison pointed out. "And I don't make love to someone who doesn't really want to. No matter how much they beg."

"Edison, please. Listen to me," Bryce begged, casting his gaze downward, his voice barely more than a whisper. "I want my first time to be with someone who cares about me. Someone I care about."

"It will be," Edison said, reassuringly. "I'm sure whoever they are, he or she will..."

"It won't be if you don't make love to me today," Bryce cut him off.

"You don't know..." Edison began again.

"Ashwell called me an hour before Theora came in," Bryce said as if Edison hadn't spoken. "Edison, I'm going to be raped tonight."

"Like hell you are!" Edison said, in anger rather than disbelief.

"Ashwell says that I have to perform in tonight's episode of After Hours. That I have to accept several men who..."

"Not another word," Edison told him. "I'll be damned if I let them do that to you. Start packing. You're officially retired from Network 23."

"But where..."

"You'll live at my place and you'll work from me via my home terminal. I'll pay you out of my salary," Edison said.

"My contract!" Bryce exclaimed.

"That contract was voided when Ashwell plotted against your innocence," Edison told him. "Now pack what you can and we'll head back to my place."

Bryce packed his clothes and started for the door.

"Hey!" Max called. "What about me? Hm? I don't want to work for... work for.. people like Ashwell either. Hmph!"

Bryce nodded to Max's box. A moment later, Max was on the box screen. Edison closed it and picked it up.

Then they left the lab.

"We have to stop off briefly at control," Edison told Bryce, "so I can tell Theora and Murray that I'm bringing you to my place."

"Where am I going to sleep at your place?" Bryce asked.

"The sofa is very comfortable," Edison assured him. "I've fallen asleep on it a few times myself."

Bryce smiled at this. "Thank you, Edison."

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