A purple bow tie. In particular, a purple bow tie with light pink spots tied over a white shirt and pleated black bottoms. Dr. Achroma Hues woke in a fit, static in his waking Network rendered his cybernetic limbs useless and forced him to lay there, pondering his dream. It was going to be a bad day.
Why had he dreamt about something like that? As the static cleared away he closed his hand, listening to the pleasant plink of his metal fingers against his metal palm for several seconds. Did he even own a bow tie like that? With almost 500 bow ties in his ever growing collection he couldn’t recall… and he never wore plain black and white. The seconds ticked on, the analog clock on his bedside table ringing angrily as if he hadn’t been fully conscious for a half-hour. Just as he managed to silence his alarm he was greeted with a familiar, but increasingly unpleasant sight, a message on his Neural Network.
The Neural Network was a massive upgrade to the human race, finally able to merge their minds with the technology they have become so dependent on. Able to browse, contact, and search for information just like they could on a computer humans gained the abilities with the simple procedure of connecting a chip to their nervous systems. With over 85% of the world’s population connected to the Neural Net it was the easiest and most popular way to contact someone.
“Good morning,” the message started friendly enough, displayed across his eye but only visible as a thin colored line to anyone except the User; Achroma’s was grey. “I hope you dress nice today, none of those stupid outfits. I was so embarrassed yesterday when I came to see you for lunch!”
Achroma frowned. The messages he received from his girlfriend had started out as a sweet morning treat but several years of dating had morphed into a way for her to silently critique everything he enjoyed. Her most recent target was his unique fashion sense.
“And NO bow ties!”
Achroma decided to leave the message unopened as he blinked away the Application and began getting ready for his day. He started his routine as he always did and oiled the joints of his artificial appendages then made his way to his closet to pick his outfit. Elaine’s message rang in his head as he touched at a baby blue button down that was hung with a pair of khaki pants and red suspenders… so he turned his attention to the singular white shirt and black slacks he owned hung in the corner of his closet; it was in pristine condition, he wasn’t sure he had ever removed the tag.
Dressing in the plain outfit Achroma once again remembered his dream and marched to the long back wall of his closet that proudly displayed every bow tie he owned on its own mount. Defiant, he scanned the wall for a polka dotted purple bow tie. Unable to find one he sighed. Deciding it wasn’t worth the fight he left with no tie adoring his neck and sulked into the bathroom where he was presented with another painstaking choice.
Surrounding his mirror was his almost equally large collection of glasses. Without thinking he grabbed a plain pair of circular grey frames and watched as his form sharped in the mirror, washed of all color except for the striking streaks in his hair. He always kept his dark hair stylishly cut and often refreshed the thick red, blue, and yellow stripes at the front to keep them vibrant. Knowing there was no way to remove the colors without cutting them out he resigned to wearing the black bowler hat he normally wore when it rained.
As Achroma stepped out of his brownstone apartment building in the Antique District of Emryx City even the crisp fall air and morning sunshine did nothing to improve his mood. Bitter, and feeling nothing like his usual self, he shoved his hands deep into his coat pockets and turned his eyes to the concrete. The streets were as busy as always, people weaving around each other with practiced ease. Achroma even recognized several pairs of legs belonging to people he would smile or wave at. He began to let his mind wander to Elaine, how much she was changing him… and how he didn’t like it.
Before he could think on it long he found himself colliding with someone who was clearly not practiced at the morning weaving ritual. It was a woman who ran into him, well ran over him; they collided hard enough Achroma fell backwards with the woman falling on top of him with a yelp and a flurry of papers scattered in the wind.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so so sorry! I was in such a rush I didn’t see you!” The girl cried as she scrambled to her feet. Achroma felt a sting of anger, he was 6’4” no one ever had an issue seeing him! Was she trying to imply he just blended in with the crowd? Opening his mouth (and his eyes) to scold her he felt his words die in his throat as his eyes were drawn to her neck… where a purple bow tie was masterfully knotted. In particular, a purple bow tie with light pink spots. “Are you okay?”
As she helped him to his feet he took a moment to take in more details of her and her outfit; the bow tie, a bright white button down, and a high-waisted pleated black skirt. She was a curvy woman with thick brown hair that framed her plush face and was tied into a low ponytail that she pulled over her shoulder to fidget with nervously as he prolonged his silence.
“Y-Yes!” Achroma finally managed to sputter, watching the anxiety leave her sapphire blue eyes, she wore circular blue glasses and he felt his heart squeeze. Reaching up to touch at his own, yet nonexistent, bow tie he played the action off as a neck rub. “Are you? I… I thought I saw papers…”
“Ah… ha… yeah, you did,” the woman said with both a relieved sigh and a defeated laugh. “My resumes. They weren’t exactly doing me any good so I guess it is fine the wind took them.”
She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Heart hammering, Archroma opened his mouth to speak, to say anything to her, when his Network informed him he had another message from Elaine.
“Where are you? I’m outside the station waiting for you! Why do you always disappoint me?”
He blinked the massage away.
“I-I can help you look for them, if you want!” Achroma offered. “I… I’m Achroma, by the way. Achroma Hues.”
“Johnny,” the girl giggled. “Well, Johnna but no one calls me that. I love your name, it makes your hair even more interesting.”
Fear gripped Achroma; his hair? Reaching up he touched his hair, realizing his hat had been lost in the kerfuffle. He never liked the hat anyway, just a bad gift from Elaine. “You… like my hair?”
“Of course! What is life without a little color, after all? If I wasn’t looking for a job I wouldn’t be dressed like I was going to a funeral!”
“That’s your funeral tie, then?” The joke came out before he could stop himself and Archroma braced himself for the scolding he always received from Elaine but, to his surprise, the girl laughed. A bright smile graced her face pushing her cheeks so high they took her glasses with them and Achroma was absolutely mesmerized. He could have talked to her forever, oblivious to the flood of people still moving past them but an alarm from Johnny’s wrist watch shattered that dream.
“Oh! I’ve got to go! Try to have a good day, Mr. Hues! I hope we’ll run into each other again soon!” Unable to give her more than a parting wave Achroma watched as she rushed off and disappeared into the stream of people. Still dazed from the encounter Achroma returned to his trek towards work, the Emryx Police Station, noting that everything seemed a bit brighter.
When he finally arrived he was surprised to see Elaine was not actually outside like she had said, she always followed through with a threat to humiliate him. However, when he entered the station, he found she was already at work harassing his partners.
“I’m sure he’ll be in soon,” the larger of his partners, Roy, said calmly. Being just a few inches shorter than himself but twice as wide with pure muscle he looked to be a very intimidating man. Luckily, he had a reputation as being one of the gentlest people on the force.
“It’s not like you own him anyway. He is a grown ass man. Go away,” Rowan added; he had no such patience. Being a full 8-inches shorter than Roy, Rowan made up for what he lacked in size with sass. Before Elaine could explode and start a fight she was sure to lose his third, and final, partner cut in.
“H-Hey! Dr. Hues!” The newest addition to the Neural Justice Department, Charlie, called. Everything about her screamed that he needed to do something about Elaine… and fast. Elaine spun on him, something in her eyes brought forth a decision he had subconsciously made the moment he had seen Johnny’s purple bow tie.
“Get out,” the words came out, cold and hateful. “Now.”
Elaine stood silent, just as flabbergasted as everyone else. Years of abuse suffered silently and he finally said something. Eventually, she managed to speak.
“Get out of here before I file a complaint and have you arrested,” Achroma said more firmly.
“… we will talk about this tonight.”
“No, we won’t. In fact, we won’t ever talk again. We’re through. Don’t contact me and if you ever come near me again I’ll file for harassment,” something both frantic and overjoyed took over Archroma’s tone as he pointed towards the doors. No emotion crossed Elaine’s face as she stormed off somehow scaring Achroma more than if she screamed at him; it wasn’t the end. Shaking, he sunk into Charlie’s nearby desk chair.
“Damn, Doc! You shot her right down!” Rowan cheered, slapping a hand on Archroma’s metal shoulder. “I’m so proud of you. Finally stood up for yourself.”
“Yeah, I mean, I’ve only been here a few weeks but even I knew how crappy she treated you. She even controlled how you dress,” Charlier offered her own congrats, eyes moving over his plain outfit.
“You deserve a good girl. Someone to support you, not tear you down,” Roy was the last to speak, calm smile growing as color flushed Achroma’s face from the praise. Shamelessly, he thought of Johnny.
“Ha… funny you should say that, I actually met someone on the way to work that-“ he couldn’t finish, words catching in his throat for the second time that day as the very figure of his newfound affection came walking into the station.
“Sorry Doc, just a second,” Charlie said before turning her attention to Johnny. “Captain’s office is right through there! Relax, you’ll do just fine!”
Seemingly not noticing Achroma through the group around him she gave Charlie a thumbs up and disappeared across the station.
“Sorry again, Doc. My sister is here to interview for the record keeper position. What were you saying?” Charlie apologized again, returning her attention to him.
“Nothing I… I need to go to my office. Business something or other,” he muttered, gathering himself. As he retreated to his office he heard Charlie comment how she hoped he was going to go back to his ‘colorful outfits’. Clothing the door behind him Achroma ran his hands through his hair and very quickly began writing a message to the captain, in Johnny’s favor.
“Good luck, Johnny,” he mumbled as he dug in a desk drawer. He always kept an extra bow tie there; a bright yellow one knotted with a sun. It was going to be a good day.