“Don’t pet it,” Gavin commanded, stalling the progress of RK900’s hand, “you’ll only encourage it.”
The damn cat had been loitering around the neighborhood for days, looking bedraggled and pathetic and hoping it was going to trick somebody into taking it in.
“She is hungry,” RK900 said, the same pleading look in his eyes Gavin had seen his predecessor use on Anderson, “her paw is injured.”
Gavin couldn’t see how it was his problem.
Risked another glance at RK900’s stupidly handsome face and let out a sigh of frustration.
“Fine. But you can bring the food out to it. I don’t want it in my apartment, it’s probably got fleas.”
That resolution lasted all of thirty seconds, obviously, and RK spent the entirety of the evening with the cat curled up on his lap. Soothed his long elegant fingers through its fur, and gently rubbed behind its ears, eyes lighting up with what Gavin could only describe as happiness when it began purring contentedly.
He was jealous, that was the ugly truth of the matter, because somewhere along the way - between the violent death threats and the tearful almost deathbed confessions that maybe RK wasn’t so completely terrible - he had started to notice just how attractive his partner was.
How RK did his best to smile, every time he saw him, and how the way RK let his fingers linger on his tongue when he was collecting samples wasn’t always as disgusting as it ought to be.
“It is late,” RK said finally, after Gavin’s third unsuccessful attempt at stifling a yawn, “I will allow you to get some rest.”
For one insane moment Gavin almost asked RK to come and get some rest with him.
RK didn’t sleep though. Didn’t need to run a deep charge all that often, and Gavin doubted RK would be too enamored of the idea. Laying there still and silent for hours, bored out of his mind while Gavin drooled helplessly all over his collarbone.
So he went to bed and RK went back to his stark white box of an apartment.
It was only when Gavin got up in the morning that he realized RK must have taken the cat with him.
Perhaps he had left it outside on one of the grass verges. Maybe he had taken it to the nearest animal shelter.
Apparently he had decided to sub-let, because a few nights later he turned up on Gavin’s doorstep at 3am, distressed because his landlord had evicted him for keeping an unregistered animal.
“I told you to leave it where it was,” Gavin said, suitably long suffering, but let the pair of them in before looking the cat over incredulously. He had assumed it was gray. Scruffy. Now it was bathed and groomed he could see it was a perfect puffball of white, with a big pink ribbon set in a bow around its neck.
RK900 and Connor really had more than looks in common.
“I enjoy Guinevere’s company. I did not wish to give her up to someone who may not understand her temperamentality.”
Gavin narrowed his eyes at that.
What kind of pretentious prat called a cat Guinevere?
An advanced prototype android with a brain the size of Jupiter, clearly, and Gavin resigned himself to issuing only the bare minimum of threatening warnings about what he would do should he wake up to find claw marks in his upholstery or cat’s piss on his carpet.
What he actually woke to was the smell of breakfast. He had forgotten that breakfast could even have a smell, really. He counted it as a win if his dry cereal bars even tasted of anything. There was RK though, plating up toast and pancakes and bacon, and pouring him orange juice because he could do with cutting back on his caffeine intake.
“What did the cat do?” He asked, because this was obviously recompense for something.
“She slept,” RK said easily, “I ran a virus scan and read literature.”
“Then why did you cook me breakfast?”
RK set a bowl down for Guinevere, his face and LED out of Gavin’s view.
“I like to know you have eaten properly.”
Gavin scoffed and shoveled a forkful of food into his mouth.
A likely story.
He was being buttered up for something. Manipulated into going along with whatever it was RK wanted.
Felt the ache of rejection in his gut when RK announced his intentions to visit suitable apartments during his lunch hour, regardless, and was needlessly hostile to the rookie officer who brought him a case report in the bust in Midway because he was so wound up over a bundle of plastic and computer chips.
His partner. His friend, if things needed to get technical, and when RK returned Gavin kept his gaze on his terminal and said casually,
“If you didn’t find anything you can stay at my place. Just in the short term.”
RK’s LED went yellow, the color change visible in his periphery vision, and Gavin refused to admit how much the wait was affecting him.
“Thank you,” RK said then, the tension draining out of Gavin’s shoulders, “we appreciate it.”
Things continued like that for weeks, with some ever convenient reason why RK ought to stick around for a few more days. Why there was no rush for him to find himself somewhere else to live. RK900 didn’t sleep, didn’t need a bed, and his possessions were so few and so easily stored Gavin only had to clear a few clothes hangers and a drawer of his dresser to accommodate him.
Guinevere claimed the armchair in the living room as her own, RK900 successfully house training her at breakneck speed. Petting her, and spoiling her, and standing in the doorway one night and simply staring at the way she was curled up on Gavin’s lap like she belonged there.
“Don’t go thinking I like her,” Gavin said to deflect the scrutiny, and when that didn’t work added, “I’m sure you’re still her favorite.”
“May I print a physical copy of this image?” RK asked as though he hadn’t listened to a word Gavin was saying, “I wish to preserve it in all available file formats.”
That was enough to inspire a thousand questions. Each potential answer a thousand more.
“Why?” Gavin asked.
He had to start somewhere.
“The composition is aesthetically pleasing. The emotional response it engenders is almost overwhelming.”
It was too much to take. How was he supposed to sit there, listening to that, and do nothing?
“Come here,” he offered, and patted at the sofa cushion beside him. Fumbled his phone from his pocket, careful not to disturb the cat, and then looped an arm around RK’s shoulders when he sat down, pulling him in closer.
Held the phone away from his face, working for an angle he had had no reason to use for an embarrassingly long time.
“Smile,” he commanded, knowing his own attempt was bound to make him look like an idiot, and snapped a picture of the three of them. Warned RK even as he forwarded the photo, “don’t go showing anyone at work.”
“I am going to save it to my personal secure folder.”
“You do that,” Gavin said, dismissive, but he didn’t remove his arm or shift away any.
It seemed that overwhelming emotional responses were catching.