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Thirium Leaks

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The androids were way out of line.

 

Officer Person had been a little off her game lately - Hank knew it as well as anyone else in the department - but that was no reason for the way Connor and his creepy, upgraded ‘brother’ tracked her wife’s progress across the station every time she arrived with Lin’s lunch. It had happened about twice a week for almost a month.

“Lin, I found this on the table again.” Jenny Davies-Person, a librarian if Hank’s memory served, would say, and then she’d steal a bashful kiss from her wife as she handed over the brown paper bag. The rest of the department would, collectively, find something else to look at that was much more interesting - except, of course, for Connor and the RK900. Connor would exchange a significant glance with RK, and then smile softly to himself. RK900 had taken to looming ominously near Person’s desk, and both women were clearly aware of it. Jenny stayed for less and less time on each successive visit, and then she stopped visiting entirely for a while. Lin had even gone with Hank to get lunch at Chicken Feed on one occasion, but she’d waved him off when he’d tried to apologise for Connor’s behaviour scaring Jenny away.

“Oh, that’s not it. She’s just busy at the moment, that’s all.”

 

That had been two months ago, and when Jenny had arrived earlier in the day, all had become clear; no wonder Jenny had been busy and Lin had been scatterbrained.

“Kept that quiet, Person! Congratulations!” Hank had joined the rest of the department in offering good wishes to the happy couple, a huddle soon forming around Lin, who was blushing furiously over being the centre of so much attention. But when he looked up, Jenny was shrinking back from the looming figure of RK900, and Connor had actually got out of his wheely chair and was pushing it over to join Jenny where she sat at Miller’s desk, his features arranged into an expression Hank had come to recognise as signalling insatiable curiosity. He began edging backwards, out of the small crowd of excitable officers, hoping to defuse the situation without making a scene. He could hear what was going on over in the hazardous area of the bullpen, but he briefly lost sight of the two androids in his attempts to extricate himself from his colleagues.

 

“You are twenty-six weeks pregnant.” That must have been RK; he didn’t have the same range of intonations in his voice as Connor. It seemed to be a personal choice, rather than a programmed feature or bug.

“I… yeah, I must be about that now. Not long to go.”

“You and Officer Person must be excited,” Connor chimed in, having presumably regained his seat. “It’s a very exciting thing.”

“It is.” Jenny still sounded nervous. “Although I could do without the sickness and the backache.”

“If you would like, I can provide Officer Person with instructions for several exercises that might benefit you. I will have them ready by the end of the workday.” Nines; typically pragmatic, but unusually helpful. He didn’t tend to make gestures of friendship, not even to his human coworkers, unless he knew the recipient very well. As far as Hank was aware, he didn’t know Jenny Davies-Person at all.

“Er- that would be very nice, thank you. Er…? I’m sorry, I don’t think I know your names.”

“Connor. I’m Connor, and this is RK900. He doesn’t really have a human-type name. We’re the androids sent by CyberLife.”

 

Hank finally dodged past Officer Chen and found himself within shouting distance of the androids. For now, at least, Jenny seemed to have relaxed a little; she relaxed even more when, after a series of LED flashes that meant a wireless conversation between the two androids, RK900 snagged himself a chair and sat down.

“You could call me RK, if it makes you feel more comfortable. I do not wish to alarm you.”

“You- I mean, you’re not-”

“It’s only that I have never encountered a pregnant human before. Connor informs me that this is a new experience for him, also. We are…”

“...Curious.” Connor finished, when it seemed that RK900 might have suffered some kind of stack overflow in searching for the right word. “We are curious, but we did not mean to exceed the limits of polite interaction.”

“Is that why you would stare at me whenever I came in?”

“We could hear a second heartbeat. At first, I was concerned that its speed indicated a malfunction, but Connor and I consulted several medical databases in order to verify that the smaller pump was, in fact, running at optimum speed.”

“That’s good,” Jenny acknowledged weakly. Hank was about to intervene, when- “Would you like to feel it kick? Lin managed it a week ago, and your sensors must be more sensitive.”

“Feel it kick… inside your abdomen?” RK900’s emotionless tone was slipping; he sounded confused, now. “How do you suggest that we achieve that?”

“My belly’s not made of plastic,” Jenny laughed, “you’ll be able to feel it. Honestly, and I thought they programmed you lot to know everything. Here, put your hand where my hand is now.” She tugged lightly on RK900’s sleeve until he complied, and Hank watched Connor’s fingers twitch in sympathy - or jealousy, he amended, as he noticed the undisguised longing on his partner’s face.

“I don’t feel- impact detected.” Hank assumed that counted as an expression of surprise, in RK900’s world. “Impact detected. The baby is kicking me though your skin.” He withdrew his hand. “Is that not uncomfortable?”

“Not really. Connor, do you want to try?”

“May I? I wouldn’t want to impose.” But Connor was already leaning forward as he spoke, allowing Jenny to guide his hand to the right place.

 

Connor had once attempted to explain to Hank just what it felt like to break free of one’s programming; he had fallen silent after a while, realising that he couldn't possibly convey the experience of discovering a new world of possibility. Now, feeling a tiny kick against his hand, Connor’s face lit up, and Hank almost thought he could see the birth of new galaxies in the android’s eyes, mental connections forming and sparks flying, though outwardly all he did was smile. Hank found himself smiling, too, a hint of sadness tugging at his heart, and he decided that Jenny would be quite safe with the androids after all.

 

Hank excused himself to the bathroom, locked himself into a stall, and tried to keep the tears from falling. He remembered the first moment he’d felt Cole kick, a tiny foot against his fingers.

“We’ve got a top footballer here,” he’d told his wife, and she’d laughed.

“Or a ballet dancer.”

“Whoever they are, they’re going to be wonderful.”

And Cole had been wonderful. But then he had been gone. The revolver on his kitchen table would call his name tonight, he knew, once he’d exhausted his attempts to numb his feelings with Scotch. Perhaps he would listen.

 

“Lieutenant Anderson?” God freakin’ dammit, couldn't he get a moment’s peace?

“Go away, Connor.” There was a pause. Damn android was probably scanning him or something.

“No. No, I’ll stay here.”

“Don’t you have kicking to feel?”

“It’s not important if you need company.”

“I don’t need company in the bathroom, Connor. Jeez-”

“I wanted to thank you for not intervening with Ms Davies-Person. I have never seen RK900 so overcome with excitement and emotion.” The RK900’s face had hardly twitched, but Hank assumed androids had other ways of knowing what each other were feeling. He couldn't help but comment on the obvious omission as he left the stall and instinctively washed his hands.

“And you? You felt nothing, I suppose.”

“I felt... everything .” He faltered, as if he feared he’d said the wrong thing. “Humans are illogical, flawed creatures, but the ability to procreate is… fascinating.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is. Are you doing anything tonight, Connor?”

“Barring the possibility of being assigned a case, my evening’s schedule is clear.”

“Want to come over and watch a dumb buddy-cop movie?”

 

Android and human regarded each other for a moment, wary, as if they were both aware of having exposed a sudden vulnerability in themselves.

“Thank you, Lieutenant. I’d like that a lot.”

“Great. Now let’s get out of this goddamn bathroom. People will talk.”