RK900 is at an impasse.
Despite his projected chance of success being 86%, he has still failed to establish an official romantic relationship with Reed… no Gavin, the use of his given name was clearly the more appropriate designation in the context of romantic interaction.
Every element of the date had been successful except for the outcome and, although he had spent most of the night reanalysing the data, he was yet to identify a clear point of failure.
He had decided to let Gavin take the lead given his greater experience in such matters and that he, like most humans, probably had arbitrary physical boundaries RK900 was unable to ascertain without testing. However RK900 had been meticulous had made his intentions clear through human means, his research indicating that requests for romantic relations were usually declined if made without prior notice via social signalling. His research had proved fruitful, the majority of the other humans in the restaurant had been engaged in encounters of a romantic nature, a dinner had been an excellent choice of activity, just like during their breakfast together food resulted in a calculable improvement in Gavin’s mood.
It had not been difficult to mirror Gavin’s body language and he found that when he had shifted to increasingly more relaxed poses Gavin had mirrored him in return.
He had not conducted his mission improperly. As the evening progressed, Gavin had showed increasingly blatant indicators of attraction (pupil dilation increased 20%, frequent micro-glances towards RK900’s mouth, biting his lip, improved posture) but although RK900 has responded accordingly, Gavin had failed to act.
He’d known that some humans were hesitant to engage in excessive romantic activity on a first date and Gavin permitting RK900’s touches and even returning them with a hand on his arm was still progress but this pace is too slow. RK900 does not believe it is in Gavin’s nature to conduct himself so inefficiently, some part of his plan was clearly ineffective.
He has tried following the internet guiance and he has tried the advice of Lieutenant Anderson and both methods of understanding the human approach have failed.
It is time to handle this according to his own initial directives, even if they do not conform to how humans typically deal with these things. The approach has been successful with Gavin before and at least a direct confrontation will result in a clear goal outcome status, even if the approach does increase the risk of that status being failure.
Gavin will return to work in less than 48 hours and when he does RK900 does not want the status of their partnership to be ambiguous.
Fortunately it is not difficult to arrange a meeting, several photographs of his cat and a leading remark about increasing the animal’s socialisation in order that it may eventually become sufficiently used to others that an introduction with Gavin’s cat may be attempted is sufficient for Gavin to invite himself over.
RK900 has acquired a case of soda so that he can engage in the human custom of providing his guest with a drink, although he still needs to obtain furniture but Gavin seems unbothered despite his previous remarks suggesting such items are a requirement of hosting human visitors, and RK900 allows fifteen minutes to pass focused on the cat in order for Gavin to settle before he broaches a topic he is aware may be emotionally challenging.
He begins with his most likely theory.
“Is it fear of a conflict of interest with our professional partnership that is preventing you from engaging in romantic interaction with me?”
Unfortunately, instead of answering, Gavin chokes on his beverage. It causes the cat to flee to the corner of the room but since Gavin’s respiratory distress seems to be low level and passing, RK900 dismisses the prompt to intervene. While it would be an opportunity for additional physical contact, achieving that sub-goal will not aid his main objective until the underlying issue has been resolved.
“I am entirely capable of maintaining appropriate standards of interaction in the workplace,” he assures Gavin. “Connor and Lieutenant Anderson are already aware of my intention of furthering a relationship with you but if you believe that fraternisation would be perceived poorly there is no reason that information needs to be disclosed.”
“We aren’t work partners,” Gavin says finally, dazedly, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.
Ah. Of course. He is not aware that RK900 has already obtained Captain Fowler’s assent. Concerns about separation would certainly explain his hesitancy. “While it cannot be formalised until your return, Captain Fowler approved my being assigned as your partner shortly after your injury, pending your agreement.”
Gavin’s face scrunches up. “Why the fuck would he do that?”
“I requested it,” RK900 says. “You are the most satisfactory candidate for partnership in the department.”
RK900 had not expected Gavin’s indications of surprise. He could not be unaware that he had one of the highest solve rates of all the officers, and, although, like RK900, he has experienced difficulties working with previously assigned human partners, he had also agreed with RK900 that their work together on the Camling case had been exemplary.
“Of course. You are the ideal partner both personally and professionally. However, if you are fundamentally unwilling to combine a professional and personal relationship,” he says, “Then I can rescind my request and continue working with Connor and Lieutenant Anderson so that there is no workplace conflict of interest in our relationship.” It is not an ideal outcome, but he had concluded that Gavin may be fundamentally unwilling to engage in fraternisation with a police partner and while RK900 has enjoyed working with him if he has to prioritise then there is far more to be had from a personal relationship than an exclusively professional one. Additionally, he has calculated better odds at later changing Gavin’s mind on the subject of workplace relationships if he encourages supplementing a romantic relationship with a professional one rather than repeating his thus far unsuccessful attempt at converting their unofficial working relationship into a romantic one with the additional hindrance of an official professional partnership.
“A personal relationship?” Gavin says, slow and wary, always so wary, RK900 admires the human’s caution in these strange emotional matters even as he wishes that Gavin, who has years more experience in such things, would take the lead. “Most police partners are friends of some sort, it kind of comes with the territory, fraternisation is unavoidable if you’re gonna have someone’s back like that.”
This is true and reassuring, however RK900 has already factored for additional human hang-ups. “I am glad we are in agreement; however, I understand that many of our co-workers might consider romantic and sexual interaction as high-risk complications so discretion may be advisable.”
“Sexual—?” Gavin makes a strange sound and stands, and RK900 instantly receives several warnings of impending mission failure, but Gavin doesn’t leave, just scrubs his hands through his hair and leans against the wall, drawing in long slow breaths in what RK900 identifies as a calming technique.
“I did not intend for my request to cause you distress,” he says. There is no alert against distressing Gavin in his programming but the sensation occurs nonetheless. “There will be no negative consequences if you decline my request or chose to engage only in one of the forms of partnership I wish to engage in. However, we work well together and I was under the impression that our date was mutually enjoyable.”
Gavin looks up at to him, eyes wide. “Date? Do you mean… yesterday?”
RK900 pauses, calculating. He had not verbally expressing that their meeting was a date, but he thought it had been obvious from the venue he had selected and the social behaviours he had engaged in; Gavin had certainly responded in a manner which was compliant with what RK900 understood as dating behaviour at the time despite his unsatisfying withdrawal at the end of the night.
“Yes,” he clarifies. “I selected a venue popular for serious romantic interaction based off over two hundred human internet recommendations and engaged in all of the flirtation behaviours I am currently aware of through observation and software updates.”
“Jesus, the entire time I thought…” frustratingly, Gavin trails off with a shake of his head without informing RK900 what his conclusions on the matter had been. “You think you wanna date me? Like fuckin’ making out and sex and… do you even understand what that shit means? You were built as some sort of enforcer not as a sexbot.”
“Such matters were not covered by my initial programming,” RK900 admits, because this is not a situation where deceiving Gavin will be beneficial, not when there is a risk the deception would be later discovered. “However, one of the key traits of deviancy is the spontaneous development of emotions and desires, and I have downloaded additional software in order to help me process those desires.”
There is a long pause and then Gavin nods. “Okay.” For a moment RK900 feels the onrush of positive feeling he associates with successful mission completion, combined with something else even more electrifying, but then Gavin continues, “But even if we roll with you being capable of having that sort of feelings, you’re seriously into me?” Gavin scoffs. “You shouldn’t ask for things you don’t understand, tin-can.”
“My understanding is sufficient,” RK900 protests. In human media this is often the point where the partner attempting to instigate the relationship responds with a kiss which seems to be treated as sufficient expression of their desire and an adequate answer to all questions, however RK900 has never kissed anyone before and while he understands objectively what the process is he is unsure of how to make it convey any sort of nuanced information.
RK900 is still calculating alternative solutions when Gavin resolves the issue by stepping forward suddenly and pressing their mouths together.
Gavin’s lips are chapped and coated with the residue of the soda —RK900’s sensors pick up sugar, citric acid, acesulfame K, aspartame, sodium citrate— and 1.237°C warmer than RK900’s own. He is applying moderate pressure and RK900 makes a note of the technique, although he adjusts the angle of his head to reduce pressure between their noses — Gavin has clear signs of repeated injuries in that area and RK900 wishes to avoid placing the delicate cartilage under unnecessary strain.
Mission: obtain high level physical contact with Detective Reed - Status: Successful.
However verbal confirmation of upgraded relationship status has still not been obtained.
There is so much data and so many things to consider, he has hardly even begun to process the new input when Gavin pulls back, a scowl twisting his face and in the corner of RK900’s HUD the mission success percentage is plummeting.
“You want more of that?” Gavin snarls. “No, of course you don’t, because you're a robot and you were built to be above all that shit. Urgh, you don’t even know what you do to me.” He pinches the bridge of his nose, body language a textbook depiction of frustration as he shakes his head.
“Yes, I would enjoy further physical intimacy with you immensely,” RK900 corrects and watches as Gavin’s expression shifts to surprise once more. RK900 reviews their conversation and then scans Gavin with concern. He shows no indicators of a recent head injury or intoxication. “Are you well, Gavin?” he asks.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Gavin retorts, crossing his arms over his chest.
“You have now made several requests for me to repeat information which you have already been provided,” RK900 says. “If you are having difficult processing information or storing memories it may be advisable to seek medical assistance before continuing this conversation.” To once again have barriers placed between him and his objective is frustrating to RK900 but Gavin’s wellbeing comes first.
“I…” Gavin laughs weakly. “I don’t need a doctor.”
RK900 has his doubts about that, however in the absence of further symptoms he will hold off, for now.
“You want me?” Gavin repeats, still sounding far more confused than is reasonable for someone of his deductive prowess. Although, RK has noted previously that Detective Reed’s investigative process often involves posing and dissecting theories, looking for flaws even when there is no reason to suspect complication, attacking his own ideas so that he can predict and prepare for attacks others might make. Humans have such odd ways of processing data, but RK has come to understand the benefits of accommodating those idiosyncrasies. “You? No. Fuck… Just because you don’t know any different.”
“I understand your concerns,” he assures Gavin, “But I’ve been operating outside the parameters of my programming for several months now and all precedents suggest that is more than sufficient time to develop preferences and independent goals. I am magnitudes more capable of making decisions to obtain optimal outcomes than any humans, and this is the path I have selected.”
“You want this… me,” Gavin says, he still sounds mystified but it’s not quite a question. “But you—”
RK900 has refrained from kissing Gavin prior to this point because he had lacked a frame of practical reference. But now Gavin has provided him with the experience. Gavin doubts that RK knows exactly what he is asking for but RK900 is no longer limited to waiting for Gavin to give him what he wants. He can take.
“I know what I want,” he insists, and claps the human by the jaw, tipping Gavin’s head up to avoid a repetition of the colliding noses and presses their lips together. RK900 begins by replicating Gavin’s technique but when Gavin doesn’t attempt to push him away he allows himself to become more exploratory, seeking out further data, making note of the way that Gavin’s arms drop from their tight clench across his chest when RK900 parts his lips and his hands come up to clutch at RK900’s jacket when RK900 attempts to integrate his tongue into the kiss, his approach based on sample methods in lieu of information on kissing technique. He stops only when Gavin’s heart rate starts to pick up in a way that suggests he requires increased airflow, and takes in the sight of the detective, showing every indication of reciprocal interest. “And I believe you’ll find that I’m a fast learner.”
“Good,” Gavin says, drawing in a shuddering breath. “Good. But you’re a pushy fucker, you know that?”
RK900 does. Success requires persistence. “Yes. Will that affect your consideration of my offer?”
Gavin’s mouth twitches, not quite into a smile but headed towards something close. In the corner of RK900’s HUD a prompt to kiss him flashes up even though interrupting his remarks would be disruptive to the overall goal. But RK900 is starting to realise that such things are a part of deviancy he will simply have to adapt to.
“Guess, you’re lucky I like that in a partner,” Gavin says and RK900 is forced to discard several background processes in order to focus on attempting to parse Gavin’s ambiguous phrasing.
Personal or professional? Or both? RK900 is confident that Gavin will not reject him entirely and, though he has his preference, he will accept whichever outcome is offered. But he requires confirmation of their status.
“You still have not provided an adequate answer to my initial question,” RK900 reminds Gavin.
“About the conflict of interest?” Gavin says. “I didn’t even know that you’d talked to Fowler about us working together.”
If this conversation continues much longer RK900 suspects he may be in danger over overheating. “Your humanity does not impede you processing the information now you have obtained it,” he points out. “Will you accept our continued professional partnership? And are you amenable to an intimate one?”
“Oh, what the hell,” Gavin says slowly. “If Fowler wants to make something of the fraternisation issue, we can sic Tina and your new union androids on him.”
Implications. Always implications. Humans communicate so inefficiently.
“Gavin?” RK900 prompts.
Gavin’s lips twitch another few fractions of an inch, truly a smile now and RK900’s need to feel them against this own is almost impossible to resist.
“Both,” Gavin confirms, and then completes RK900’s task for him.