To say that she hates him would be an understatement. She loathes every fiber of his being - everything he represents - from his thrift store clothes to his 8 dollar hair cut to that tooth that's crooked on his bottom set of teeth due to lack of orthodontistry.

It's more than his appearance, though. It's the way he talks when he's all fired up about something - like he's McBeth or Heathcliffe or Fitzwilliam Darcy, or some other obscure literary character she's read of. It's the way he's so sarcastic when he's around her – always acting as if the upper class is the most dim-witted, snobbish group of people he has ever met. It's the way he never ceases to stop helping her – even when she is so incredibly mean to him that she thinks "this will be the last time he talks to me. I never have to see his ugly mug again."

But for some odd reason, Tucker Mason has a conscience. And his conscience won't let him leave her alone. Something about her 'hiding hidden feelings under that thick exterior' and him wanting her to 'open up.' She feels like a social experiment through Mason's eyes, and she doesn't like it one bit.

But sometimes she feels like it's more than that… like maybe he actually cares? Which is just ridiculous, because who has ever cared for a person like her?

She falls in the hallway one day at school. That's right- Portia Wittington falls.Which never happens. Someone of her stature and poise should never lose their balance or dignity for that matter. But here she is, sprawled on the floor, her calculus book and papers dispersed about the school hallway as people either laugh at her, or just pass by and watch her try to compose herself. No sympathy for the rich.

This is why she begged her parents not to go to public school. But they insisted on her learning societal norms and mingling with the common-folk. Oh brother. She does't talk to anyone at school, let alone mingle.

And then he shows up, like some overly cheesy movie, he just appears, leaning down next to her and gathering up her papers like the good Samaritan he is. She gives him the look – the 'why the hell are you helping me' one. And he just shrugs, shaking his head like he has no clue why he feels compelled to help a completely and totally malicious shrew like her. Perhaps it's that conscience of his again.

But somewhere in the back of her mind, she's grateful, and she takes her books back when he offers them to her, still sitting on the ground. The nasty, germ ridden ground. Still, when he offers his hand to her to help her up, she doesn't take it. She hoists herself up, struggling, but still managing to get up without falling again – which is absolutely a miracle in those heels she's wearing. She gives him the 'I'm good, you can leave now' smile and blinks several times for effect.

He just rolls his eyes and shakes his head – which he finds himself doing a lot around her. "You're welcome." he says unenthusiastically, and trudges away.

Is that guilt she feels when she realizes she didn't apologize?

It can't be.

She hates to admit it, but there are some benefits to being a lower-middle-class civilian sometimes. For example, the smoothies and mochas at "The Beanery" were far more superior and flavorful than the imported teas her mother bought from China, so she made a point to stop there every Monday after class for something different and delectable.

This Monday she had a nonrefundable yoga lesson that couldn't be rescheduled, and so she had missed her weekly Beanery visit. She simply couldn't stand not going for a treat, so she decided to go the next day – Tuesday - which just so happens to be today.

She walks into the coffee shop, her heels clicking on the floor as she makes her way to the register to order.

That's when she sees him, standing behind the counter with one of those hideous plaid shirts of his and a bright blue nametag that signifies the fact that he is an employee.

She stops mid-walk and ducks to the side before he can see her… accidentally running into a man carrying a tray of drinks. One of his cups falls and coffee splatters her shirt, dousing her with hot liquid. She lets out a small shriek and gasps 'sorry!' before turning on her heel and making a beeline for the exit, an overwhelming sense of repulsion and embarrassment taking over… until she hears her name.

"Portia?" She cringes at that all-too-familiar voice. And then she realizes it wasn't an exclamation, but rather a question. Which means she could keep walking. She could keep walking and pretend like she was an entirely different person that never heard her name called out.

But something in the back of her mind tells her to turn around, and so she does, putting on a blatantly fake smile to show him how so very happy she is to see him. Especially in a run-down coffee shack wearing fresh coffee on her new Dolce and Gabbana blouse.

"Tucker Mason?!" she exclaims, a little too enthusiastically. "I had no idea you worked here!" She approaches the register, throwing her hands up in the air in mock disbelief. A customer behind her jumps back, somehow avoiding her gesture as her hands fly back in his face.

"I had no idea you came here." Tucker retorts, a smirk on his face as he watches the other customers react to her exaggerated grandeur. She's so out of place. And probably loving it. Either that, or hating having to endure the filth and grime of a commoner store. But then why did she come in the first place?

"Very funny, Mason." She purses her lips, tilting her head to the side and crossing her arms in an expression of complete and utter annoyance. "Is it so wrong to want to experience some culture every once in a while?" she shouts, and the people around her start to murmur… and shoot her some dirty glances.

"No, not at all." he says, shaking his head and playing along in her little game of… whatever this might be. "Now, what would you like?"

She's taken aback by his question, not even remembering the fact that she's standing in line and there are others waiting. "Oh, well-"

"A frappacino? Latte? Or maybe some napkins to help with that accident there?" He points to her shirt and she curses her complexion as her cheeks turn red in mortification.

"It's Mason." she reminds herself. "There's no reason for me to be embarrassed in front of him. For God's sake he's wearing a lumberjack shirt." She rolls her eyes. "Some napkins would be… nice." She holds out her hand in anticipation, tapping her foot as Tucker ducks behind the counter and retrieves a pile of napkins for her.

"Anything else?" he asks as she dabs at the damp spot on her shirt.

She looks up from her work. "I'll take a small diet strawberry smoothie." she says, her voice regaining its normal confidence.

"Coming right up." He smiles and she continues to fix her shirt while he makes her smoothie. When he's done she pays and goes to take a seat.

But before she does, she realizes she has been neglecting her manners. "Thanks, Mason." she says, and then lowering her voice, "for everything."

He can't help but shake his head as she retreats to her seat. She'll proclaim to the world that her small strawberry smoothie is diet, but she won't let anyone hear a simple thanks. Probably because the act of gratitude was directed towards him. Figures.

She sits down at a table all alone, slurping the contents of her smoothie. Even though she hates Mason, she has to admit that he can make one hell of a smoothie with just the right amount of cream and strawberries. When she's finished, she notices a small pink sticky note on the bottom of her cup. She picks it up and reads it – I added some extra whipped cream to make your day better. But don't expect me to do it again. This is a onetime occasion. ;) –T

She smiles to herself but then quickly comprehends what she is doing. Wiping the grin from her face, she stands up from her seat, fuming. She grabs her purse and swings it over her shoulder, chucks the empty smoothie cup into the trash, and storms out the door.

What was he thinking, giving her more whipped cream?! Was he trying to make her fat? Did he not notice she ordered diet for a reason?

But that particular incident isn't enough to keep her away from the coffee shop. Especially on Tuesdays. And she always ends up with a little more extra whipped cream in her diet strawberry smoothie.

If she goes to the right register, that is.

Second quarter begins and they're both in the same creative writing class.

They are paired up to write a story together in an almost cliché way - as if some inevitable fate or gods or universe brings them together. And she can't help but wonder if all these random meetings and run-ins with him are actually random, or something much more - like signs of some sort.

Sometimes she even wonders if they're meant to be together, like one of those silly fairytales her mother used to read to her when she was younger. The thought of Mason being her "Prince Charming" would have probably made her toss her cookies before, but for some reason she's finding the idea more and more appealing.

But somewhere in the back of her mind, she thinks that this is just another trick he's playing on her – another step to his experiment – to make her fall in love with him and observe how she handles the entirely awkward situation. Because that's what it is right now.

She's trying to be civil and kind towards him for once, but it's hard not to spout out random insults when she's so used to it. But he notices, alright - notices how she smiles a lot more when she's around him, how she starts putting those wavy curls in her hair because he complimented her on them one time, and how she sometimes goes out of her way to find him in the hallway, handing him new bits and pieces of the story they're writing.

He's the only one she ever talks to in school… and outside of school. She stops going to those 'play dates' her mother sets her up on with the wealthy teenagers in her neighborhood, and starts visiting The Beanery and the library and the park a lot more.

She feels… content? Like for once, someone actually, genuinely cares about her. And not her money, or her parties, or her looks. Because God knows Mason doesn't care about those. Still, she's scared that it all might disappear one day. That he might disappear.

They pair up for every project after that, their writing teacher not seeming to mind as they put their creativity together to craft something brilliant every time. He makes the ingeniously fashioned plots and settings, and she makes the witty and exciting characters that weave the story together.

One day he runs out of ideas, however, and he asks her to suggest a plot.

She ponders ideas for a moment and then speaks. "A princess falls in love with an ordinary robot." she says, and he is taken aback, but then his demeanor softens as he realizes there is something under that hard exterior of hers, longing to break free.

"I'll write the first part tonight." he volunteers, but she shakes her head.

"Let me do it this time." she says gently, placing her hand on top of his. Little waves of electricity run up and down her arm, but she chooses to ignore them, hastily gathering her books and telling him she has to go.

He can't help but wonder what she'll have in store for him tomorrow.

It's one thing to feel your own heart beating. It's another to feel the heart of another pounding simultaneously against your own. That was one true thing she desired, another human's affection, their love being portrayed through the pulsing of one's internal organs. Not only did it signify love, but life as well.

He longed for the same thing, to have flesh and soul and heat and pain. But what no one seemed to comprehend was the fact that he not only wanted them in a mate, but in himself as well. You see, a robot does not have a personality. It cannot feel the way a human does. But he, he was the exception- the 'defect robot' as they called him- and he was very much 'alive' indeed.

She lets him kiss her in the library the next day after he's read the first part of their story. Their story – of how the conceited and selfish princess fell in love with a sardonic and lowly robot.

But he doesn't seem lowly anymore, not to her. She's come to realize he's a far greater person than she'll ever be, but somewhere in the back of her mind, she realizes she's slowly changing because of him. She has changed because of him. And she actually likes the person she has become when she is with Tucker Mason.

But as much as she likes the new her, she likes the same old Tucker even more. She likes that stupid, wonky bottom tooth, and his ugly as who-knows-what lumberjack shirts, and his ridiculous haircut that juts out in all places. She likes how passionate he gets about things, not like Mr. Darcy, she realizes, but like Elizabeth Bennet, the way he still cracks jokes at her expense but never really hurts her feelings, and the way he never ceases to stop loving her – even when she's being old Portia. He'll never leave her, for his conscience will never let him.

And somewhere in the front of her mind, she loves him.