Gavin’s grilled cheese sits half eaten on the table as he crouches behind the flimsy cover of a chalkboard, gun out and watching the reflection of the shooter in the store’s glass front.
The waitress is a few feet from him with half her face blown away and two tables over Officer Cabrera ain’t looking much better, guts spilling out across the floor.
Henderson is on the ground, bleeding badly, he might make it if he gets to a hospital soon, but then again, he might not.
The civvies are cowering and crying, the best Gavin can hope for is that none of them will make shit any worse than it needs to be, and Chapelle is over in the corner, gun up now but he has additional training to double as a paramedic and Gavin knows if he has to pick between chasing the perp and helping the wounded he’s gonna let the bastard get away.
And it’s clear the guy’s about to try just that.
There’s three ways to run: the main door, which will send the fucker through the crowd and right into the path of security; the back door, which will put the guy in a rats maze of corridors that would give him a fifty/fifty toss-up between losing them and getting cornered; or the window, if he gets his feet on the frame he can pull himself up and get a clear run across the roof of the mall with a dozen ways to run as long as the fucker was crazy enough to risk the twenty foot drop.
The guy just shot up a lunch joint with spitting distance of DPD central station. He’s definitely crazy enough.
And Gavin landed hard on his arm as he dived for cover when the shooting first started. His shoulder aches like a motherfucker and while he’s still capable of pulling himself up onto the roof if he has to, it’s not gonna be fast.
Better to try though, than for this motherfucker to get away and leave other iced-up fuck-heads like him thinking that it’d be clever to come shoot up diners frequented by cops.
Gavin is just rolling up on the balls of his feet, ready to try and move to some position where he can either take the shooter down or get a clear line of fire at him without any civilians in the way when out of the corner of his eye he spots Connor’s freaky-ass not quite double, annoying as shit just for existing but unlike the earlier model android it had always had the sense to stay out of Gavin’s way and so Gavin has gladly ignored it up till now.
What the fuck it was doing here, when it doesn’t need to eat lunch, is a fucking mystery. What it’s doing now, if android body language works anything like humans’, is getting ready to rush the gunman.
It’s fucking annoying, having to split his attention, but if the android acts then Gavin has got to be ready to react, keep control of the situation, and he’s also got to be ready for when the shooter moves.
And… there, the perp starts lower the gun and turn towards the window, just as Gavin had guessed the stupid fucker will do, which means it’s his best chance to act.
The android has clearly seen the same opportunity.
They’re both charging the shooter but the guy has turned back, gun up and ready to fire again to keep them back, he’s got to be low on ammo now but he’s not out yet.
He’s aiming for the android, probably assuming the bigger guy is the threat which —fuck that noise— but Gavin has a wrenched shoulder and plastics never tire, never feel pain, never hesitate. They’re not invulnerable though and the gun is pointed dead centre of the android’s chest —the thirium pump— and Gavin had done his research when it had looked like they might be going to war, a shot there is one of the few things that could slow the fucker down.
If Gavin were two feet to the left, the shot would be pointed at his injured shoulder. The one that’s going to fuck up his odds of catching the bastard
The fucking android could catch him though. Or he could, as long as he doesn’t take a bullet to the pump.
It’s not really a decision, just a lurch of fuck-you fury, that has him lunging sideways and jesus christ, this isn’t Gavin’s first shooting but somehow he always manages to forget how much bullets hurt, especially in already injured arms and especially when he’s moving too fast to stop, falling hard on side as the perp lunges for his escape route.
For a moment Gavin can’t breathe for pain, but he pushes through it, opens his mouth, ready to yell at the android not to fucking bother about him, just get the perp, but when he looks up the android is stepping over him unprompted, no hesitation, and then it’s halfway out the window without a glance back.
Then the adrenaline crash hits, or maybe it’s just blood loss, and Gavin’s world goes black.
According to Connor, it is customary to visit humans if they are in hospitals.
Lieutenant Anderson adds that is particularly true if the human is a police officer injured apprehending a criminal.
Despite this, nobody is eager to accompany RK900 to visit Detective Reed.
However, both his mentors in humanity and his own databases of social interaction indicate that a visit is necessary, especially considering that Reed’s injury was sustained due to him moving into the path of a bullet intended for RK900.
The hospital reminds him of a Cyberlife facility, all clean lines and minimalist surfaces. There are far more employed androids here than he is used to seeing. While they have employment rights, few of their kind use them because they have little need for wages and lack other motivation. Health-care androids appear to be an exception. Perhaps they share RK900’s residual need for productivity and the fulfilment of base directives.
As he moves deeper into the hospital towards the room allocated to Detective Reed the appearance becomes less modern, the rooms smaller and the staffing sparser. The DPD does not cover premium health care for their detectives.
At least Detective Reed has a private room. RK900 continues to struggle with the intricacies of human social norms and Detective Reed is an unknown element so minimising outside factors will likely make this interaction more efficient.
The room is small, just a single bed and basic monitoring equipment plus a drip that is running into the Detective’s good arm. There is one plastic chair, a suspended television screen, and a print of a painting of some fruit on the wall. It lacks a window, which is suboptimal given that natural light has been proved to benefit the mental health of humans. Based on these factors RK900 approaches with caution.
The man himself looks pale and weary, although a quick analysis of the various official photographs that showed up when he skimmed his files for more information on Detective Reed in preparation for this visit indicated that may simply be his habitual state. Several strands of tubing and cabling extend beneath his shirt although most of them belong to monitoring equipment and a scan of the notes on his IV reveal that Reed is being provided fluid supplements and a low dose of painkiller, enough to numb the senses but inefficient for sedation.
The detective had been looking in the direction of the television when RK900 arrived, but his attention snaps to the doorway as RK900 steps inside.
“Huh,” he says, squinting. “It’s… you.” He sounds perturbed. Is RK900’s visit unwelcome? Is there some exception to the social guidelines regarding hospital visits that explains the fact Reed seems not to have expected this visit?
RK900 had been observing the behaviour of officers of the DPD beyond the precinct before his research had been interrupted by the gunman. Thus far he has learned nothing useful about off duty interactions, except for what he has been told by his predecessor.
“I have come to express my regrets that you were harmed,” RK900 announces, as Connor had advised.
“Fuck regret,” Detective Reed dismisses, which is unexpected. He pushes himself up in his hospital bed and speaks with more energy than RK900 would have predicted from a man with as fatigued an appearance as Detective Reed. “I took the hit, you got the opening to grab the fucker. No asshole shoots up my second favourite lunch joint and gets away with it.”
RK900 processes. His probability of successful apprehension of the gunman had been plummeting intolerably as the shot was fired, only to jump back up to 89% after Detective Reed intercepted the bullet. However, RK900 had been operating on the most likely explanation: that Detective Reed had been shot due to acting in error, not intending to be hit or not comprehending the fact that the RK900 would be less damaged by a bullet than a human. In his experience, while humans were capable of rudimentary judgements of probability they did not have the pre-construction abilities of the RK series and even when outcomes were assessed they had limited capacity to select the optimal ones due to a greater emphasis on self-preservation caused by their innate vulnerability. Yet Detective Reed’s phrasing implies a tactical choice.
“Nevertheless, as a human your recovery time will be longer than mine would have,” RK900 states. While his programming allows him to harm humans when necessary he is aware that the role of a police officer is generally to prevent harm, Detective Reed’s glib attitude to his injury is perplexing.
“Yeah, and if he’d taken you out I’d have had to chase him all over the fucking roof with a busted-up shoulder. Who needs that shit? ‘Specially when I heard you took him down good.”
RK900 nods. It was an effective take-down. No other humans were harmed and the suspect was brought in in a condition which allowed him to be questioned and subjected to the human justice system, something that he had been told was as vital a component of acting as human law enforcement as preventing crime.
“Damn, bastard, I wish I could have seen it.”
RK900 considers. “The incident was recorded by my optical receptors. Given my involvement I had visuals of all of the events following the shooting.”
Detective Reed scowls at him. “Good for you, fucker,” he grumbles.
“It would be possible for me to interface with the television and convert those memory files to a format that it is capable of playing.”
Brow furrowing, Detective Reed says, “What, you can just put your memories on the TV?”
“Yes,” RK900 answers. It is hardly an advanced capability. Almost all androids released in the years before commercial development stopped were capable of transferring their data to other technologies. If anything, the biggest complication here is the fact that RK900 is such an advanced model and the television such an old one.
“Well then hurry the fuck up and show me what you’ve got.”
RK900 nods, appreciating Detective Reed’s directness. Some of his other co-workers insist on an explanation for all of his abilities, which is only marginally less annoying that those who fear those abilities, especially when the individuals asking for an explanation lack the foundational understanding of technology to understand what they are told.
After a moment of consideration, RK900 decides to start the sequence a few moments after Detective Reed was shot. The human is unlikely to enjoy a reminder of his vulnerability in his current condition.
The recording of the arrest plays and as soon as it is over Reed demands, “Again,” with an unnecessary snap of his fingers.
This time, Reed interrupts before the end, cutting in as the screen shows RK900 pinning the gunman.
“Fuck, rewind that part, can you play it back slower?” Detective Reed demands, and while his terminology is outdated —no part of RK900 or the television operates on a winding system— RK900 replays the most recent string of actions at half speed, the television’s speaker straining as once again, there is a loud crash as RK900 tackled the human through one of the glass panes.
“Hell yeah,” Detective Reed declares. “That’s the good shit, right there.”
RK900’s social software flags a discrepancy, after a moment he decides to raise it with Detective Reed.
“My programming as well as the prototype RK800 known as Connor have previously informed me that humans consider it indecent to take satisfaction from something which causes the suffering of others.”
Detective Reed rolls his eyes. “Fucking Connor. Of course the little prick would think he was too good for a healthy dose of schadenfreude.”
Schadenfreude: pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.
It is not the label RK900 would give his emotion. His pleasure is not derived from the misfortune of others but from the fulfilment of his objectives. The suffering is of little relevance. Still, it is noteworthy that Detective Reed does not find RK900’s indifference to discomforting others offensive. Perhaps it would be useful to expand his range of sources on humanity - Connor and Lieutenant Anderson do not reflect all likely possibilities, especially since it is clear that Anderson has influenced the perspective of the older android.
“I see,” RK900 says and is considering attempting to engage Detective Reed further on the subject when they are interrupted by an android nurse reminding them that visiting hours were about to end.
At Lieutenant Anderson’s suggestion, RK900 had timed his arrival towards the end of the hospital’s allotted visitor times, the Lieutenant had claimed it would enable him to have an exit strategy, although RK900 does not understand the need - there are three obvious ways out of the hospital and he is capable of calculating many more routes should those for some reason become inaccessible.
Micro-expressions and vital signs suggest Reed is dissatisfied with this development.
The room lacks stimulation, there is no outside input beyond the television which had clearly been failing to provide adequate engagement since Detective Reed had not objected to RK900 replacing the broadcasted programming with his memories. Detective Reed is used to a physically and mentally challenging occupation, it must be unusual for him to be so under-occupied. Most humans RK900 has encountered enjoy the opportunity to engage in minimal activity, deeming it restful, but RK900 has always found having nothing to work on uncomfortable - perhaps he and Detective Reed are alike in this. He cannot provide the detective with official work, however, “If you are willing, I will leave the recording stored in the television’s memory. I have conducted an analysis of the scene; however, I have discovered that humans often have unique insight into their own kind and, due to a backlog, it may be some time before the DPD’s official analysts are able to review the footage?”
Detective Reed raises an eyebrow. “You want me to rewatch you kicking this guy’s ass and work out how you could have kicked it even harder?”
Detective Reed grins. “Eat it Tina, this is so much better than grapes,” he crows, his body language indicating assent, even if his words make little sense even when RK900 performs a cursory search for information which might contextualise it.
That, he theorises, is only one of many mysteries Detective Reed may present.
Gavin should probably own more than two jackets.
But he doesn’t and when he arrived home from the hospital he’d realised that the one he’d been wearing when he got shot is in a bad enough state it should probably just be tossed in the trash, and his other jacket is still hanging up in his locker at central.
Under other circumstances he might have got away with it, but it’s been a wet miserable September and he’s off for at least two weeks before Fowler will consider letting him back for light duties, which is too long to go without proper outerwear.
That’s why he’s dragging his ass back into the office, wishing he had accepted the sling the hospital had offered to stop his arm jolting around and irritating his wounded shoulder - it had seemed so unnecessary when he’d been resting in a hospital bed but man there are too many fuckin’ speed humps in the city.
It’s mid-morning, comfortably between shift changes so he doesn’t have to deal with the rush that always comes at switching time, although the reception area is still pretty busy with people waiting to be seen and members of the general public coming to dump their myriad complaints on the DPD. Honestly, half the reason that Gavin has worked as hard as he had to advance through the ranks is because being a detective means cases go through assessment before they get tossed in his lap and he doesn’t have to deal with all the idiocy and bullshit he had to put up with as a rookie. If he’d wanted to smile politely and say ‘yes, sir; no, ma’am; of course, I’m happy to do whatever you need’ he’d have… well, human employment in retail had dropped off rapidly in his teens as androids became widespread, but it wasn’t what he’d joined the DPD for.
The bullpen is running at its usual low thrum of activity as he swipes himself in and makes his way over to his workstation.
Tina’s desk is empty and there’s nobody else he’d gonna go out of his way to say ‘hi’ to. Nobody pays him any mind either, Tina had brought him a get-well card from the office and Gavin had been impressed by the number of people she’d got to sign it (honestly, he suspects threats were likely involved) but he knows his coworkers don’t like him and getting shot doesn’t change shit.
No, nobody gives a single fuck about Gavin as he grabs his spare phone charger and a few bits of paperwork nobody will miss and he might as well get over and done with while all his active cases have been given away or put on hold, but as he’s making his way over to the locker he spots a familiar figure in the briefing room, tablet in hand and that slightly unfocused expression that androids got when they were interfacing with shit.
The thing had dropped in to see him at the hospital, but Gavin thought that would be that last he’d see of it. It’s awkwardness had made it blatantly obvious from the moment it had arrived that the reason for the visit was that somebody at the precinct had told it that was right thing to do when somebody took a bullet for you, but Gavin had figured it was going to be a wham, bam, thank you man, kind of acknowledgement and then he’d been left to stew in the haze of drugs that weren’t strong enough to fully keep the pain at bay but were hitting him enough that his head was too foggy to focus on anything worthwhile.
But it had stuck around to chat.
Of course, the thing had stood barely in the doorway the whole time and Gavin was still entirely certain it had only stayed because Connor had decided the weird over-friendliness that Cyberlife had programmed into him was good human interaction instead of annoying and invasive and seemed to think it was his duty to teach other deviants to act the same.
Thankfully, the newer android is a lot less obnoxious.
Gavin didn’t know a lot about it, other than the fact it had joined the precinct a few months after the wave of protests that had led to androids getting ‘equal’ status in society, somebody pulling strings in order for it to get the job despite its lack of training or qualifications, the same corrupt shit that had happened with Connor, but unlike Connor it hadn’t managed to wrap half the officers around its plastic pinky. Instead, it had been shuffled from partner to partner, and Gavin had figured none of them working out was either because they got sick of its shit or the plastic prick decided he was too good for them, until he’d eventually settled into third-wheeling Anderson and Connor.
God, Gavin hates the fact Connor has no last name. He doesn’t want to think of him in such familiar terms.
But Anderson’s and Connor’s seats are both empty, powered down terminals suggesting they were out and not merely taking a break, and the newer android is working alone in the briefing room. Urgh. Fuckin’ androids. They could claim to be people all they wanted but no self-respecting person would tolerate being stuck playing third wheel to a partnership and not even a third wheel that got invited places or given a goddamn chair. Androids might not need to sit but Gavin cared as much about that as he did about the supposed health benefits that Officer Lareign claimed her ridiculous standing desk set-up provided - i.e., not at all.
Then again, the new android didn’t seem to care about pretending to be human as much as most of the other deviants. The rumours around the precinct say it isn’t social and Gavin’s noticed that it doesn’t really emote, not like Connor and most of the other deviant androids do, which makes it easier to tolerate. The RK900 is something different rather than just a fake human.
He remembers it’s visit and wonders if he ought to say ‘hi’. Gavin isn’t really one to go out of his way to be friendly to the people who are actually his friends but he supposes he might owe the thing for the hospital visit. Getting to see the video of its take-down had been some grade A good shit. And once he’d enjoyed it a few times he’d figured what the hell and entertained its request, made a few notes of what could have been done better, moments where the android clearly hadn’t factored in just how stupid and irrational a scared perp could be. It felt a bit like treachery, telling the thing how to improve so androids would have even more of an edge on humans, but the instant gratification of getting to find flaws in an android’s actions was worth it. Not that he expected his feedback to be taken on board, whenever he pointed out all the ways that even deviant androids just didn’t fucking get human emotions and how important they were in police work everyone dismissed him with a bunch of bullshit about processing power and probabilities, even though if that was more important than experience and instinct androids would have replaced them all long before the deviancy crisis.
No, Gavin decides. He won't go over there and give his feedback. It wasn’t worth the hassle, not in front of the entire precinct where people would act like his feedback was being mean rather than just right or that he’s deluded to think he knows better than their future robot overlords.
If the RK900 wants Gavin, it can come to him.
Three person police partnerships are a non-optimal configuration.
Additionally, RK900 is aware that he is currently officially teamed with Lieutenant Anderson and Connor not because he is an asset to their work, they are already one of the most efficient partnerships in the precinct, but because Captain Fowler is unwilling to permit an android with limited field experience to work alone and all attempts to pair him with another officer have been unsuccessful.
There are presently 312 officers working out of the central precinct, around half of whom work in areas in which RK900 could also be assigned and while the RK900 has not been trialled with all of them —Captain Fowler apparently has a strict policy against breaking up established partnerships without good reason— many options were explored.
One of RK900’s first experiences with emotion (true, original, personal emotion, felt for himself not learned of by interfacing with others) was frustration.
Frustration at working with slow, inefficient, unfocused humans that had been followed by sharp frustration with himself because since the moment of his deviancy Connor had been very clear that those sentiments were not acceptable, that humans were to be accepted as they were and while it was permitted to find criminality distasteful the rest of their flaws had to be tolerated.
The second blow had come when, after a month, his first assigned partner, Officer Grace Henderson, had asked to be returned to desk duty rather than continue working with him.
The second partner he’d trialled with had only lasted half that time.
None of the other attempts were better.
Obsessed with the job.
Too uncomprehending of the unwritten social rules which governed human civilisation.
Twice those complaints had turned into official disciplinary proceedings and Captain Fowler had made very clear that an advanced prototype designed for military style application would not continue to be welcomed on his force unless RK900 could better adapt to the nuances that made police work different to what he was programmed for. He had been built as a precision instrument for humans to wield and RK900 knew his skills, but it seemed that without a human hand to guide their application he was incapable of utilising those skills in a way humans found acceptable.
At Connor’s urging he had trusted the Captain, and yet it was obvious that course of action had been unsuccessful. No suitable partner had been procured and working with Connor and Lieutenant Anderson was not a sustainable solution.
Probability of negative consequences to challenging Captain Fowler ’s authority: 53%
Probability of negative consequences if situation remained unchanged: 78%
Which had brought RK900 to Captain Fowler’s office, for the first time unbidden.
The man is eyeing him with overt suspicion. Normally the Captain is the one to initiate meetings and when others seek him out it is for case related reasons rather than personal ones. “You asked to see me?”
RK900 nods. The redundant gesture feels like an appropriate response to the redundant request for confirmation. Humans respond well to mirroring and shows of body language. “I have an inquiry regarding my career progression up to this point.”
Captain Fowler frowns. He has made no secret of the fact that he finds RK900 troublesome and tolerates his presence only because of his abilities. “Let’s hear it.”
“Why was I never trialled with Detective Reed as a partner?”
Captain Fowler is surprised. Strongly so. His answering a question with another question indicates that he is unable to construct a response to the inquiry. RK900 decides to assist him by elaborating. “Detective Reed is of a suitable rank and in an appropriate division; plus, he has been without a partner for the duration of my tenure here. Why was he never proposed as a candidate?”
“Because the reason Reed has been without a partner for so long is because he’s driven off every human partner he’s ever had,” Captain Fowler says, weary and confused. “He’s an asshole in general, and he’s no fan of androids.”
It is not a satisfying answer. Reed’s social compatibility with other humans is irrelevant. “You don’t respect him as an employee, and yet he remains employed. Why?”
“He’s a shithead with a high closure rate,” Captain Fowler says. Stress levels: ^64%
Interesting. RK900 wishes to know more about the basis on which the Captain calculates the balance between issues caused with other officers against their effectiveness, it’s a process which relates to both Detective Reed and himself, however he does not wish to test the Captain’s patience and he came into the office with a particular goal in mind.
“I have no concern for Detective Reed’s adherence to the social conventions humans deem pleasing as long as they have no negative impact on his work. I believe a partnership would be most satisfactory. I wish to explore this theory when he returns from his medical leave.”
“You’re wasting your time,” Captain Fowler says. “I paired Connor and Anderson up against Anderson’s will as a temporary measure, they’re only still partners by choice. Forcing Reed to take a partner he hates is hassle I don’t need. He’ll kick up a fuss and unlike Anderson, Reed doesn’t let things go.”
Persistence is an admirable trait in an investigator.
And RK900 will not let this go. “I do not require you to force Detective Reed,” he explains. “If he is unwilling the partnership will not be effective. I simply require your approval as head of this department, in preparation for Detective Reed’s agreement.”
“If Reed says yes, I’ll give you my full support,” Captain Fowler offers.
Captain Fowler is agreeing because he believes the terms he has set are improbable.
He is incorrect.
RK900 estimates a 64% chance that he can persuade Detective Reed to agree to a trial partnership and a 73% chance that partnership would be effective. Both probabilities he can raise with more investigation.
“Thank you.” Better to acknowledge the human’s agreement than call out the scepticism behind it. Captain Fowler’s doubts will be proven irrelevant.
He departs the office.
Since joining the precinct, RK900 has worked wherever there is available space since he has had no permanent partner to be assigned near, he has not yet obtained a work area for the day and, after a moment’s consideration, he decided to set himself up at Reed’s vacant desk.
Unlike Lieutenant Anderson, Reed has made limited effort to personalise the space, but it may yield revealing information and, regardless of his personal goals, Reed’s work-area will be vacant until his return from medical leave and therefore means RK900 will be able to occupy a single space without risk of being interrupted by humans wanting him to move.
He is conducting initial research when Connor interrupts.
“Officer Jennings said you had a meeting with Captain Fowler earlier, is everything okay? Have we been assigned a new case?”
If they had been assigned a new case, Connor would have been notified. “It was a personal matter.”
“If there isn’t a case, then what are you working on?” Connor says. He is no doubt about to attempt to push RK900 into taking a break. Lieutenant Anderson enjoys breaks and Connor has decided that renders them important. RK900’s distaste for time spent unproductively is dismissed by both of them as a remnant from before the uprising that will pass as he grows used to deviancy.
“I am reviewing Detective Reed’s former cases.”
Connor’s face crinkles, an imitation of the expression humans make when confused even though a unit with his objectives would not be programmed to display its reaction that way and while deviancy has caused emotions there is no need for them to affect physical components. Connor is choosing to emulate humans in the same way RK900 had attempted earlier with Captain Fowler. It will not work on RK900, he is not human and it aware that the only correlation between Connor’s appearance and his internal processes is what Connor choses to display.
He offers the explanation Connor is likely to be trying to prompt with this emotional display anyway. If he doesn't the older model may feel the need to explain what he was attempting and ask to run diagnostics on RK900 out of the mistaken belief that there is something wrong with his system keeping him from identifying the human expression rather than that RK900 doesn't see the point when there are more efficient sources of data RK900 can base his analysis on. Again.
“I had asked Captain Fowler to arrange a trial partnership between us once the Detective had recovered from his injury.”
The jump in Connor's stress levels in unexpected. RK900 had projected that Connor would be pleased by this news and the potential to return to an optimal two member partnership with Detective Anderson.
“Detective Reed is not an appropriate choice of partner,” Connor says, voice full of unnecessary inflection. He knows RK900 can track his stress level. “You shouldn’t try this.”
Strange. Previously Connor has encouraged RK900 to develop his own goals. “Why?”
“He has anti-android prejudices,” Connor says.
Captain Fowler said the same thing. It is improbable that two individuals who have known Detective Reed for an extended period would come to this theory without reason, yet RK900 reviews his own encounters with Detective Reed and finds no evidence to support the claim. Reed had not hesitated to risk personal injury aiding RK900 during the shooting and had apparently acted based on confidence in RK900’s capacity to make the arrest and during their meeting at the hospital no part of his behaviour was unacceptable to RK900. In fact, “Why would you disapprove of my working with Detective Reed when previously you recommended I seek to spend time with him?”
This time Connor drops the imitation of humanity, LED flickering momentarily yellow as he processes.
“The hospital,” he correctly concludes. “You misunderstood. The objective of that visit was not about Detective Reed’s company. It is simply a human protocol and I theorised that other officers would view you showing interest in the wellbeing of a colleague favourably, helping you to find an appropriate partner.”
Since his activation, RK900 has often struggled with a feeling incorrect sensor input, it causes error messages to snap across his display demanding he remove the input even though there is no reason this auditory input should be different from anything else Connor says. He's learned to identify the error as annoyance. RK900 does not require Connor to inform him of the reasons Connor wished him to imitate humanity - the only reason there is to do that is to aid integration. However, RK900 has developed his own objective.
“The data I have gathered suggests Detective Reed is a viable candidate for partnership. I am going to investigate this possibility.”
Now Connor is also signalling annoyance. RK900 finds it feels not unlike accomplishing a mission despite the fact destabilising Connor's emotions is unlikely to assist him in convincing Connor of his theory.
“One crime scene encounter and a hospital visit does not give you enough data for that conclusion to be sound,” Connor says. “You don't know what Detective Reed is like under typical circumstances. He is unpleasant.”
It is true he needs more data, however RK900 will have time to gather that. Connor’s own data is hardly more extensive and his Connor's concerns about the Detective being pleasant are deeply irrational. RK900 does not require pleasantries.
“In order to enable myself to adapt to the DPD in the most efficient manner possible I reviewed all accessible records of your initial assignment,” RK900 says, watching Connor for a reaction. He has never tested his information procurement programming on the other RK model and how he responds may be enlightening. “Lieutenant Anderson had an interesting sticker collection. And I was impressed with the quality of construction of the partition by his desk, to remain integrity under the force of a grown man slamming an android against it.”
“Lieutenant Anderson’s initial difficulties adjusting to working with an android are a reflection of his unique personal circumstances,” Connor defends. “And you have not addressed Detective Reed’s behaviour.”
True. RK900 had been aiming to remind Connor of human changeability but Connor seems to have interpreted it as an attempt to deflect or a failure to understand and holds his hand out to RK900, requesting to interface.
RK900 accepts, but is… disappointed?… (it is certainly a deviant emotion which he feels, though not one he has had much experience with) when Connor shares a memory RK900 is already aware of.
Connor’s first morning at the DPD and Detective Reed’s demands for coffee.
“I do not see the significance.”
“He acted with malice simply because I was an android. He believes androids ought to be subservient and reacts aggressively when that view is not conformed to.”
Now Connor is the one extrapolating inappropriately detailed theories based on limited evidence.
“The incident had occurred before deviancy was widely known — Detective Reed’s actions were appropriate for the zeitgeist of the time. Additionally, similar menial tasks have been assigned to each new arrival subsequent to my joining, human and android. They are used as part of hazing rituals to promote integration and reinforce social hierarchies for newcomers.” There. Connor is always insisting RK900 be more attentive to human custom.
But, instead of acknowledging RK900’s rational explanation, Connor’s expression twists into one of petulance. “He tried to shoot me.”
“You were breaking into the archive room at the time. Since you were acting unlawfully at the time he was acting within the parameters of his assigned duties.”
There is a pause of 5.7 seconds. Connor cannot dispute this logic.
“Regardless, without a trial there is limited accuracy in attempting to forecast the effectiveness of a partnership between Detective Reed and myself,” RK900 says. This conversation is pointless, neither of them have sufficient data to be certain of an outcome and debating with Connor is only hindering his progress in gathering that data. “Therefore I will proceed with this objective.”
Connor frowns. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
RK900 does not frown. Nor does he offer Connor any response. He has the ability to calculate at ten times the exaflop rate of a human being and his processor is 8.34295% faster than Connor’s. The concern is unnecessary.
RK900 is perfectly capable of figuring out how to handle Detective Gavin Reed.
Gavin isn’t quite a morning person, he’s never gonna be chipper at the crack of dawn, but then again, is he ever?
But he can handle them.
Bullet wounds are some fucking annoying shit though.
His shoulder is already healed over on the outside and if he keeps taking his meds then in a few weeks it would be like it had never happened, the great medical leaps of the early 2030s meaning not like when he was a kid and broke his wrist and had to wear a pot for two months, but the muscle needs time to repair and it is gonna ache like a bitch for a few weeks even if he’s resting and he’s been thoroughly warned it’ll be worse if he tries to push through it.
He’d slept in as late as he could in order to avoid having to deal with that shit, but his routine was too deeply ingrained and at 9:35, having laid in bed trying to convince himself to fall back asleep for as long as he could take without going insane from boredom, he drags himself out of bed.
First port of call, breakfast.
He makes his way to the kitchen, opening the dishwasher and pulling out a bowl and a spoon, having long since embraced letting the machine double as storage instead of wasting his time unloading it, when he’s interrupted by his phone ringing.
Who the fuck would be calling him when he’d too banged up for it to be a summons to a crime scene?
“Reed,” he answers.
“This is RK900,” comes a flat voice, made tinny by the shitty speakers on Gavin’s phone - appropriate for the android.
“Shit,” Gavin blurts out. “You've been deviant for fuckin’ months and you're still going by that?” He’d not bothered learning its name but he’d assumed that it had claimed one. After all, how could the thing play at life without one?
There was a pause. “Yes, it is my designation.”
“What the fuck are you calling me for?” he asks. How did the thing even get his number?
“I am investigating a burglary,” it says, and if Gavin didn’t know better he’d think he heard a hint of annoyance in the final word. “Officer Pearson has informed me that you were working on an associated case and may be able to provide more information that has not yet been entered into official records.”
Is the fucking robot accusing him of being behind on his paperwork?
“Can't you just scan shit?” Gavin huffs, opening th cupboard to grab his cereal onto realise it’s on the top shelf. Why the fuck does he keep it there?
He tries to grab his cereal only to grimace at the pain in his free arm and realise his good arm is the one holding the phone and there's no way the shot one is reaching that far over his head.
“I have examined all of the available evidence,” the android says. “However, I found Officer Lyle’s witness statements to be written in the style of a transcript and lacking detail. I understand you were also present at the scene and I believe your observations may provide greater contextual information.”
Urgh. Lyle. Gavin understood the use of community support officers, fuck knows he had better things to do on a crime scene than spend half an hour talking a witness out of hysterics and into explaining what actually happened, but when it came to actually taking the statement there should always be a competent investigator present - not a schmuck like Lyle who would write down everything the witness said as gospel truth even when they were blatantly lying.
Giving up on the cereal, Gavin checks the fridge.
Nothing except a single wilted lettuce and jar of mayonnaise.
Fuck, how is there practically nothing in his kitchen but cat food? Cat food that his dumb-ass cat rarely even eats because it prefers to terrorise the local wildlife.
Oh yeah, because Gavin eats 90% of his meals on the job.
“Alright,” he concedes. “You wanna talk? Meet me at the diner between the precinct and the subway station in half an hour,” christ he sounds like an informant arranging a meet to snitch. Oh, well, might as well go the whole hog. “You’re buying.” He's not sure if the android even has a way to get money, but the thing has a supercomputer for a brain, it can figure something out.
Forty minutes later, Gavin walks up the escalator from the subway station, idly noticing that the stairs no longer being the designated android route means that nobody takes them anymore.
He hasn’t run late on purpose, it had just taken him a while to find a shirt he could get on without contorting his shoulder uncomfortably, but he’s not rushing either. Waiting won’t do the android any harm.
It’s lurking outside the door when he arrives and Gavin wonders if it registers the wide berth passers-by are giving it. In the first months after androids were declared sentient and started to integrate there was a lot of tension, hyper-vigilance on both sides whenever androids and humans mixed, but it was only a matter of time until people got tired of high alert, started treating androids like any other stranger on the street and androids seemed willing to embrace their shaky welcome to society. Then again, the distance people were keeping from the RK900 might be less about the fact it was an android and more to do with the fact it was huge and staring out at the street with an intensity that would have been unnerving even coming from something less powerfully built.
“You could have got us a table,” Gavin complains, though it's hardly busy in there, the pre-work rush having passed but still too early for the sort of people who did brunch.
He pushes his way past the android, not bothering to hold the door for it, though of course android reflexes mean it catches the door when it swings back.
Gavin is enough of a regular that the waitress comes to their table a few seconds after they sit down, smile bright and pen at the ready.
She's college girl cute, so a little young for Gavin’s taste these days, he wouldn't date her, but not so far away from his type that he doesn't enjoy the slightly flirty smile even though he's pretty sure from her alert body language that she's picked her approach based on what is most likely to get him to tip rather than genuine interest.
He orders pancakes and bacon and, fuck it, hash-browns on the side, the drugs he's on are fucking with his appetite and it's not like he's paying.
Only once the important stuff is done and the waitress has poured him a coffee and disappeared into the back with his order does Gavin finally give a little attention to what the android is here for.
“So, this case of yours,” he says, “What makes you think your little burglary has anything to do with my homicide?”
He takes a sip of his coffee when the first words out of the android’s mouth are, “Thank you for meeting me,” in a tone that doesn't sound anything like how it spoke on the phone or in the hospital.
It's not hard to place though. “Connor tell you to say that?” he scoffs, it's exactly other android’s brand of creepy ass-kissing, but it's even more annoying than usual coming from the newer model and forcing Gavin to notice both the similarities and the sharp differences between the two.
Now he isn't looming the android looks a little less likely to frighten passers-by, but he still looks like a hard ass in a way Connor could never manage, Cyberlife had clearly realised Connor’s whole boy-band twink thing wasn't a good look, but the upgrade still looks too polished to be anything but uncanny, like a TV-land cop rather than a real one, all chiselled features and not a hint of fatigue about it.
Also, while both androids seem to have an uncomfortable staring habit, Connor just seems nosey and obnoxious, whereas there's something Gavin can't place in the RK900’s gaze as it says, “Not specifically, but the social protocols he transferred to me suggested it.”
“Yeah, it sounded like his sort of stupid shit,” Gavin grumbles. “Your case, mine, what do you want to know?” he demands. “Unless you're wasting my time.”
“I searched the DPD database for other reports that might fit the pattern of the series of burglaries I have been assigned and have ascertained that there is an 86% chance your homicide was intended to be part of the same series of thefts,” the android explains, and Gavin sips his coffee, reluctantly interested. His working theory had been that the murder had begun as a break in that had gone wrong, but he’d ended up on medical leave before he’d had a chance to investigate.
“My analysis of the current records and crime trend data suggest that the homicide was unlikely to have been premeditated but a result of the suspects pattern being disrupted in some way. There is a possibility that this disruption may have resulted in other atypical behaviours which may have resulted in evidence that could aid my investigation.”
If the perp was spooked enough to smack a guy over the head with a lamp hard enough to kill him, then there was a possibility he’d made other mistakes. It made sense. One of the frustrating realities of the job was that the best breakthroughs in long running cases often came because the perp got sloppy.
“If you're hoping the perp sneezed on something, that sounds like crime scene shit, not something Lyle could have fucked up,” Gavin complains. Sure, he made his own notes on the scene but they don't contain any info the CSI files won't also have, there was no reason for him to drag his ass all the way out here to tell the android that.
“Analysis of the victim profiles indicated a rate of similarity between the victims which is 15% higher than that found in victims in cases where the targeting is deemed ‘random’ by human standards,” the android elaborates. “However, there is no single commonality across all of them. More data on the most recent victims may provide a connection.”
Of fucking course. Analysis. Because the thing can't just have a theory or a hunch. And what is it expecting from him? He had made observations, sure, but that had before he'd known what was going on and he’d been weighing up if any of the family were particularly likely suspects. Any background information that could be used for a victim profile is already on record as part of the homicide investigation.
“It was the usual shit,” Gavin says, because it was. Frustratingly lacking anything useful to go on. If he hadn't been on leave this serial theft angle might have been handy, but he’s sure whoever takes it over will look into that, because it's not like they had anything else to work with. “The guy that got whacked didn't live there, it was his girlfriend’s place, she seemed as freaked out as expected, the girlfriends roommate seemed too calm,” he’d noticed that as soon as he'd arrived on the scene, had been rolling his eyes inside as he'd braced for some sort of love triangle bullshit, “But they both admitted the roommate and the boyfriend didn't get on, and the girlfriend said the roommate was with her the whole time.”
“It would not be unprecedented for them to have fabricated a false narrative of the events in order to protect each other,” RK900 interjects and Gavin considers throwing a spoon at it. He's been a cop for more than ten years and alive for thirty-six, he doesn't need an android to tell him that people lie.
“All the physical evidence pointed to the killer fuckin’ breaking in,” Gavin points out. “That's why you think it links to your stupid B&Es. Can't point the finger at the girl if all the evidence points somewhere else.”
“Lawfully a suspect can be detained for forty-eight hours with charge--”
Jesus, he can't believe they let this thing work cases. “D.A.’s office doesn't exactly smile on us arresting people when our only grounds are ‘because they were there’. That opens a whole bunch of awkward doors labelled shit like ‘harassment’ and ‘abuse of power’.”
The android’s LED turns yellow again, as if it's having trouble with that idea which is worrying as fuck given it's being allowed on active duty but Gavin is saved from addressing that because the waitress is back, lays Gavin’s plates out in front of him then pauses for a moment, looking at the empty space in front of the android before she catches Gavin’s eye, a wry look that probably means something like ‘androids taking up space in a food joint, huh?’ but all he can notice is the colour, a dull green, nothing remarkable, except for how its the same green of his last waitress, the green that had started lifelessly at him after that asshat had walked into his lunch joint and started shooting, splattering her brains across the room before Gavin had time to react.
There goes his appetite. Like hell he’s going to let it show though, he jams his fork into the pancakes with a level of force that’s more aggressive than hungry.
He gets halfway through his first plate in relative peace before the plastic decides that since the shop talk hasn't resulted in whatever answers it wanted its time for small talk.
“Earlier, on the phone, you expressed surprise that I continue to go by my official designation,” the android remarks. “Why was that?”
Gavin shrugs. “I’d have thought you’d have picked an actual name by now,” he says, it wasn't like he'd put a lot of thought into it, it was just that he'd noticed more and more name tags and desk-plates around the precinct — the department's budget well spent only in the eyes of bleeding-heart idiots who thought the plastics new egos were more important than real cops having the resources to do their jobs properly.
The android’s LED flickers momentarily. “While I am aware that some deviant androids feel that going by their designation diminished their personhood, I find my model number is adequate.”
Whoop-de-doo. The android doesn’t feel like it. As if that was the point. “You can't just be RK900,” Gavin points out, even just saying it sounds stupid. He might approve of the fuss being made over androids taking names but he can't pretend having something proper to call the thing would be handy. “How the fuck would you introduce yourself to suspects? Officer— wait, what's your rank anyway?” the thing was working cases and clearly had Fowler’s endorsement but there were rules about police work, and, “You didn't go to the academy, did you even sit the exams?”
“The present style of examination would be of little relevance to me. As an android my recall does not need to be tested, I have a memory storage capacity that will last for approximately fifty years at its current rate of use and which can be upgraded as required, and should I need additional information I can download it from any accessible networked source.”
“Yeah, given access to the internet a hell of a lot more of the candidate pool could pass,” Gavin says, though he’s not sure he buys the android’s implication that the exam would be easy. There’s more to it that just being able to quote procedure and the case study portion of the exam would require an understanding of human nature that Gavin wasn’t sure he believed most androids had, even the deviant ones didn’t have any real-life experience after all. “So, you didn’t sit the exams, but you must have some official designation, otherwise you wouldn’t be allowed to work cases.”
“Both Connor and I have been given the status of special consultant pending an official decision regarding the placement and qualification of androids given our differing abilities and training requirements.”
“’Kay, whatever,” Gavin wasn’t even going to think about the mess that android training and qualification would undoubtedly unfold into. He’ll only piss himself off. “The point is, you can’t have perps calling you the same things co-workers call you.”
The android’s LED turns yellow for several seconds before it says, “Human naming practises differ across cultures, including cultures which do not follow the given and familial naming convention you insist upon.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Gavin didn’t know that but he can believe it, he’s had weirder shit dropped on him in the annual sensitivity retraining, “But you’re in fucking Detroit and that’s how we do things here.”
“Connor hasn’t adopted an additional name.”
If Gavin doesn’t know better he’d say the android sounded jealous of his… brother? They looked like brothers and shared a creator but Gavin also knows there are plenty of models of the same series that fucked so that was probably a weird way to think about it.
“Yeah well not saying anything is a step up from introducing himself as ‘Connor Theandroidsentbycyberlife’,” Gavin dismisses. “But at least he has a name. Connor is a thing that people are called, RK900 only isn’t. Does everybody at the precinct seriously call you that? Shit, you've been here six months…”
“I am uncertain as to how the duration of my service is relevant to this issue.”
“It’s not right, you being around that long and not getting stuck with any sort of dumbfuck nickname that you hate,” but of course nobody would dare joke at the expense of an android rookie for fear of being condemned for hurting their precious new feelings. Well, it was probably the android's loss. “It makes you part of the team when you're new and you know you've really fucking made it when finally get people to stop calling you it. It’s a rite of passage.”
Gavin still remembers the feeling of triumph when his new-co-workers had started calling him Reed, the knowledge that he'd earned their respect, but of course androids just get given everything he'd had to work for. Fuck, even Gavin has been doing it, although he’d only done it because he was used to androids being things and it not mattering what they were called. He should start calling the android something, but all the obvious choices are about it being as plastic which would probably result in him ended up disciplined for discrimination and most of his cohorts nickname had stemmed from rookie fuck-ups or some other embarrassing shit and as far as he knows the android hasn’t made any stupid mistakes yet and everything about its appearance was designed by Cyberlife to be flawless, so it’s not like he can start calling it big-ears or something.
His thoughts are interrupted as the android asks, “Did you have a nickname Detective Reed?”
Nosey fucker. “Of course.” Gavin might not be popular with his co-workers now, but it’s not like he was some weirdo loner who didn’t hang out with anybody in his academy days. “But you don't get to know it, not with all the shit I went through trying to shake it.”
“If you no longer use a nickname then how do your peers not suffer from an inability to indicate familiarity through such a form of address?”
Is it trying to piss him off on purpose with these fucking questions? “God, you’re such a fuckin’ robot sometimes. Trust me, nobody at central is bothered about not having any special in-jokes with me. Just Reed is fine.”
It keeps staring at him and Gavin spears a particularly large fork-full of pancake, shoving it into his mouth and refusing to let the thing's scrutiny make him self-conscious. If chewing with his mouth partly open isn't his usual habit, well the android doesn't know that. Though, would an android even care about seeing his half-chewed food. Gavin assumed that disgust features somewhere on the list of their new-found feelings but who knew if it could be triggered by the same things that worked on humans.
“Detective Reed,” RK900 says, not perturbed in any obvious way by Gavin’s attempt to be off-putting, “Would you prefer that I referred to you with or without your rank?”
Gavin rolls his eyes. “Do I look like I give a shit?” he asks, though he swallows first because if he's not grossing the android out then there's no gain to being a pig on purpose. Seems the old movies got it wrong about sentient robots being disgusting by messy organic stuff. As for calling him by rank, well honestly, he’s demanded it from rookies a time or three because he’s fucking earned his rank and they should respect it, but the way the android keeps repeating it is starting to grate, leaves Gavin with the vague feeling it thinks he might need reminding of his job or some shit.
Then, for the first time Gavin’s ever seen, the android emotes like a human being.
More specifically, more weirdly, it smiles.
“Very well,” it says, “Reed, did you have the opportunity to review my apprehension of the perpetrator in last week's shooting?”
Gavin had more than an opportunity. He's definitely not going to be mentioning exactly how many times he'd enjoyed watching it when he has his mandatory return to duty psych eval. But he had noticed a few things the android could have done better, almost more satisfying than watching the shooter get body slammed, and he's more than ready to share. “Sure, but it'll be easiest to show you,” he says, realising that he's about to commit to spending more time with the plastic and not dreading as much as he'd have guessed he would.
“I am currently off duty,” the android offers. “It may be possible to make use of the precinct facilities to view the footage—”
“Fuck no,” Gavin says, he’s not going to walk in there with the android and announce that they’re going to go over arrest footage without good reason. But if that’s never going to be an option, “If I’m doing this it’s from the comfort of my couch. So you’d better get over there and pay.”
For a moment the android’s LED flickers yellow again and Gavin wonders what the fuck its issue is this time, but then it stands and he watches as it walks over to pay by touch over at the counter. He’d agreed to come because the thing was paying and he’s glad it’s following through on that but Gavin tosses a twenty down on the table anyway. Tipping etiquette seems like the sort of thing Cyberlife might have skipped over programming into its plastic asshole and anyway, maybe leaving a little green on the table will help push the memory of lifeless green eyes out of his mind.
feel free to come join me over on tumblr @damnyoualex :)
Pride. Satisfaction. RK900 logs his emotions as he sits on the subway, tentatively labelling a new and unfamiliar one as ‘excitement’ based on his research.
His plan to develop a rapport with Detective Reed in order to improve their chances of establishing a professional partnership is progressing more effectively than projected. He has been invited to Detective Reed’s residence without having to engage in any of the subtle prompting that he had been planning. Conducting their meeting at a catering establishment is something he will have to repeat, Detective Reed had shown increased signs of positive mood in response to the food, despite the fact he’d seemed perturbed when it arrived despite their being no change to the stressors in their environment that RK900 could detect.
It's a short subway ride to Reed’s stop, and RK900 makes a note of this in his private file on the man — his commute is not the explanation for the detective presenting ongoing symptoms of fatigue.
The walk from the subway stop to Reed’s building is even shorter than the one from the DPD to their embarking stop, Reed apparently has the good fortune of nearly door to door public transport service.
The residence they approach is a plain building and RK900 registers six structural issues when he scans it, although none violate safety standards, and he calculates that this is likely the only property that can be afforded on a detective's salary in this neighbourhood. Detective Reed could raise his standard of living by moving to a less central location but RK900 has learned that humans often respond defensively to discussion of their personal finances, so he will have to figure out why the Detective chose this residence through other means.
The building is accessed by hand-print but the scanner is a cheap older model. RK900 makes a note of its various security flaws but decides not to mention them right now — once he has secured Reed’s partnership then he will be in a role where the human might consider it appropriate for RK900 to provide personal safety guidance, but the information is not relevant to the current mission and mentioning it may derail his progress.
The elevator is out of service, however although Detective Reed complains about taking the stairs RK900 registers no significant increase to his heartbeat or respiratory rate during their climb to the fourth floor.
There are eight doors leading off of the floor and Reed walks over to the furthest one on the right and swings it open.
The first think RK900 notices is the mat inside the doorway, intended for cleaning shoes and typically printed with welcoming messages, Reed’s bears the phrase ‘Takeout or GTFO’. On it is a dead bird: Columba livia domestica.
Detective Reed grins.
RK900 considers the possibilities.
Detective Reed kills local vermin for amusement, a possible symptom of mental instability. Probability: 12%.
The bird is intended as a threatening or discomforting message, either due to a strained personal relationship or an objection to the Detective ’s professional activities. Probability: 34%. However, Detective Reed seemed pleased by the presence of the bird. Adjusting probability: 7%.
As he’s computing possibilities, a feline hybrid of many breeds including Lynx rufus, approaches from down the hallway.
The bird was brought here by the cat. Probability: 78%. How did it enter the apartment?
The feline pounces then, but instead of reacting defensively the detective wraps his arms around the animal, lifting it until it is curled against his chest.
The cat is Detective Reed’s companion animal.
“Who’s a vicious motherfucker?” Reed coos as he enters the apartment, “Killing everything that gets near.” He presses his face to the animal’s and murmurs, “Good job,” carrying the cat through to the lounge and opening a cabinet to pull out cloth reproduction of a mouse, heavily infused with Nepeta cataria which he set down beside the animal, running his hand in a slow stroke along it’s back as it bites down on the imitation rodent.
His behaviour is clearly intended to reward the creature’s achievement. Detective Reed appreciates its productivity in removing vermin from his personal domain.
He had been pleased that RK900 had apprehended the cafe shooter, but he had not been physically demonstrative of his appreciation then. A by-product of his injury? Because the shooting was a matter of public safety and not the detective’s personal needs? RK900 will have to further investigate the criteria required to elicit this reaction from the Detective.
As the Detective continues to reward his feline’s efficiency, RK900 takes scans of the new environment
The apartment is markedly cleaner than Lieutenant Anderson’s residence, although it still falls below the ideal presented by advertisements and television programmes. RK900 has not yet been in enough human residences which are not also crime scenes to be able to accurately calculate an average to benchmark against, but based on the sources available it seems Reed maintains an adequate standard of living when allowances are made for the demanding nature of his work and the fact he chooses not to make use of human or android domestic service.
“D—” but no, he needs to wipe the code that prompts him to use Reed’s title, the detective had expressed no strong preference for being addressed in that manner and a more informal approach will better reflect the partnership RK900 intends on exploring. “Does your domestic animal have a name, Reed?” he corrects.
“Domestic—” Reed rolls his eyes. “It’s a fucking house-cat.”
Incorrect. The animal's features suggest that it’s genetic make-up deviates by up to 30% from that of any breed traditionally considered house-cats. However, is it clearly a member of the cat family and resides in Reed’s apartment which might be colloquially termed a house, perhaps Reed is describing its situation rather than its breed.
Reed straightens and the cat hisses as his hand leaves its fur. “Bitch…” Reed mutters, but his tone and actions are overtly affectionate.
In all of their encounters RK900 has observed discrepancies between Reed’s words and the rest of his behaviour, perhaps this is one of the reasons RK900 is getting such a difference impression of the man to what he’s been warned to anticipate. Humans may not be capable of higher-level behavioural analysis, although that does not explain Connor’s views.
Another entry on the growing list of puzzles surrounding Reed that RK900 wishes to solve.
“So, the take-down,” Reed says, moving into the sitting area.
The mission. RK900 shifts his focus instantly, following Reed at a distance calculated for maximum social appropriateness - not so close that he violates Reed’s personal boundaries but never letting them get so far apart that Reed might mistake him for inattentive or overextending the range of his welcome in Reed’s home.
Reed stoops to snatch a television remote control from the coffee table, switching the device on, then waves to RK900. “Game tape,” he demands. A sports analogy. His general habits indicate that Reed is not that interested in professional sports, he does not request roster adjustments to allow him to watch game or display any objects which might suggest support of a particular team, but nevertheless employs the vernacular - both common and more specialised. RK900 takes the cue, establishing a wireless connection with the television and projecting his memory of the arrest onto the screen.
They both watch as it plays out in front of them despite RK900’s perfect recall and the fact that if Gavin plans on offering opinions on the arrest he must surely be familiar with it, but Reed’s responses suggest that he enjoys watching this, even after repeated exposure.
RK900 lets the memory run its course, the chase, the apprehension, the initial debriefing, and then turns to Reed, curious to hear the detective’s analysis.
“Well the first thing isn’t even in the version you keep playing back,” Reed says casually. “Which was you rushing in like that. Chapelle and I were both on it, there was back-up on route. You should have stowed the android superiority crap and used those resources.”
Given Reed’s record, the advice is rather hypocritical. Although, Reed preventing him from being shot had been useful RK900 experiences a rare moment of one hundred percent certainty when he processes and comes to the conclusion that Reed would never have rendered that assistance if it had been RK900’s suggestion instead of his own idea.
“I did not act out of ego,” RK900 explains carefully, all too aware the asking for Reed’s critique and then refuting it could easily anger the detective.
“Jesus, I’m not saying put shit on pause for a team talk,” Reed rolls his eyes. “But if I hadn’t seen you were going in, he’d have shot you and don’t bullshit me like that wouldn’t have fucked up your odds chasing him.”
RK900 nods, conceding half the point. His odds of apprehending the suspect were low prior to Reed’s intervention - the gunman’s shaky hands had meant there was no way to reliably judge the precise trajectory of the shot, RK900 had chosen to risk failure rather than wait for the situation to worsen however. He still finds it unlikely that Reed would have been willing to intentionally co-ordinate their strategies though - the Detective’s body language that afternoon had suggested that he had been on the verge of making a similar attempt and he’d certainly made to effort to communicate it.
“Whatever,” Reed uses the television remote to skip through the footage of the events and it’s strange to have somebody control his memories like that, even though it’s only a copy of the file passed to the T.V when RK900 interfaced with it. Is that what it would have been like if he’d awoken earlier or if the revolution never happened - a human at Cyberlife in control of his faculties?
Introspection will have to be relegated to secondary processing however, because Reed has moved onto the rooftop chase, an almost comically easy activity given that the gunman had fallen several times, dropped his gun, and only then became hesitant in his movements.
Rk900 had calculated every possible trajectory and chosen the best one considering the fact his physical similarity to humans is largely only superficial, but he supposes that information is beyond Reed’s reach - to somebody unfamiliar with RK900’s skills it must look like a strange and impulsive decision to disregard the most obvious route.
He’s about to ask Reed what element of the chase could be improved on he receives an incoming message from the precinct - a case downtown deemed time sensitive enough to demand android forensics. It appears continuing his collaboration with Reed will have to wait until another time.
Reed accepts the interruption with apparent indifference, remarking that now he can get on with his plans despite having given no prior indication of arrangements which might limit the scope of this interaction. He shifts his injured shoulder several times as he says it and RK900 makes a note of the theory that Reed is feigning business in order to mask the fact he is struggling with the inactivity imposed by his injury.
It occurs to him only as he is walking back down the stairs that while he more than satisfied his initial objectives for the meeting, he was not successful in uncovering the name of Reed’s feline. Unless its name is in fact ‘Bitch’.
Discover the name of Reed ’s cat - probability of having already succeeded: 68%.
guess who just hit 50k for november, largely in thanks to this fic :)
Boredom is one thing and desperation for a distraction from the nagging nauseating ache that is painkiller withdrawal is another. Those were enough to convince him to humour RK900's requests for Gavin's input into his burglary cases and feedback on the cafe gunman's arrests but Gavin is still surprised and wary when his doorbell rings and it’s RK900 asking to be buzzed up.
It turns out he’s right to be.
The android is smiling as he walks in, an expression that looks incredibly weird on it’s usually staid plastic face and Gavin knows why when RK900 says, “You will be pleased to know that we located the most likely suspect for the Edgeworth case and have extracted a full confession that has a high probability of leading to a conviction.”
Gavin wishes he hadn’t let it cross the threshold so that he could slam the door in its smug fucking face.
Gavin can feel his anger boiling but it’s worse than that, because anger is an old friend but the sharp and sudden betrayal rising like bile in his throat is strange and poisonous.
He’d thought RK900 was… well, okay. The android didn’t hassle him about social graces like most of the humans Gavin knew did and he wasn’t obnoxious in the way most of the other androids he had to deal with were.
Except now it’s here, embodying everything that Gavin has ever hated about androids and reminding him that any co-worker, plastic or otherwise, is a rival for the coveted spots in the DPD’s upper echelons and everybody who makes it does it by stepping on other people to get there.
Months. Months Gavin had worked on the Edgeworth murders, slowly unearthing evidence and piecing the puzzle together, pulling at threads and dragging himself closer and closer to finding the killer. When had RK900 been passed the case? As soon as Gavin had been put on medical leave? Later still? And in a matter of days he’d swiped Gavin’s solve from him and now even had the gall to rub it in his face.
"Oh really?" he says, not so much reigning his anger in as too overwhelmed by it to know how to let it lose.
"Yes," the stupid piece of plastic answers, still with that priggish look on its face. "I followed up Mr. Edgeworth's employees and unearthed a line of digital communication between one Alex Sanders, junior mechanic and Mrs. Edgeworth. They were both using the same internet dating site via proxies and under pseudonyms and had been in a dialogue together. They agreed to meet three days before the murders after which Mrs. Edgeworth cut off contact between them."
"That's—" more than Gavin had found in weeks of investigating "—something, but it doesn't mean the case is closed."
The androids smile grows more conceited, contemptuous even. "Following his arrest, I gained captain Folwer's assent to lead the interrogation and extracted a confession in nineteen point four minutes. After Mrs. Edgeworth realised it was Sanders she'd been talking to, she wanted nothing to do with him; Sanders attempted to persuade her to continue a relationship but when she cut off contact he grew enraged and decided to enact vengeance upon both Mrs. Edgeworth and her husband, whom he blamed for being the reason she refused to consider a relationship with him."
Nineteen point four. Gavin has never got a confession that fast since joining homicide, he'd have spent hours in there, lining up the evidence, coaxing and convincing, persuading the killer that he had the pieces all in line to go ahead without a confession but that honestly would make the process easier for them, as if Gavin had any interest in making scumbags lives comfortable.
But of course an android could do it better, and Fowler wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of that. After all Connor's bullshit on the Ortiz case he'd probably already been putting in an order for plastic replacements for the whole precinct and while the revolution might have screwed with that he'd probably still hoping to hire on the plastics en-mass just as soon as new android employment regs are finalised and he can bring them in without all the paperwork that signing more androids as consultants involved.
Gavin starts to curl his hands into fists and is stopped by a surge of pain that shoots through his injured arm. Another way he's no doubt proved inferior to a plastic bastard. Maybe it had come here to provoke him, hoping to gather evidence against him for its takeover campaign or perhaps it had been gloating all along, come to the hospital to contemplate the inferiority of the easily injured human or savour in having another meat-bag out of the way and an excuse to muscle in on Gavin's cases and push him out of the only thing in his life that—
Fuck it. Gavin doesn’t care what the thing’s motivations are and he isn’t going to let it win.
“Get out,” he snaps, shoving at the android and feeling another lurch of sickly fury at how pathetic it is with his injured arm unable to muster any force.
"Reed—?" the android's L.E.D flickers yellow again, like he'd thought Gavin was so feeble he'd take this laying down. "I wish to—"
"Get out!" he repeats, utterly indifferent to the android's wishes and ignoring the hurt to push harder this time, sending the android stumbling far enough back that Gavin can slam the door in his face.
He leans back against the flimsy plywood, breathing heavily.
His arm hurts, aches stubbornly, but Gavin can take the pain, the anger will keep it at bay. He drags his phone from his pocket, pulling up the email that lists his physio exercises.
Letting himself tolerate the android presence in the precinct had been a mistake, he might not be able to act against them outright without risking discipline now, but like hell he's going down without a fight.
RK900 had not been programmed to deal with the consequences of miscalculation. It had been deemed unnecessary.
And yet he had miscalculated.
He’d though Reed would be pleased to know his incapacitation had not halted progress on his case while at the same time impressing upon him RK900’s efficiency and usefulness as a potential partner, but Reed's reaction when RK900 had delivered his case update had made it clear that this had been a misjudgement.
He keeps the memory of this failure in mind as he rides the subway to Reed's apartment, alone this time, determined not to repeat it.
Last time had had followed human etiquette and waited for Reed to buzz him in, however his research suggests conversations of the variety he is about to attempt are best conducted face to face and it is not difficult to bypass the buildings electronic locks and access Reed's floor. This may be a violation of traditional boundaries, but it is necessary for the completion of his objectives and if he is particularly fortunate may also incentive Reed into taking steps to have the building security improved. As a police officer he is a target and his current security is inadequate.
A few moments later the door swings open. Reed looks pale again and is holding his injured arm in a manner that suggests that he has stressed his injury since their last encounter but is trying to conceal that fact.
"Detective Reed," RK900 beings, having calculated that a return to formality will likely result in a more positive reaction from Reed. However that's as far as he gets before Reed slams the door in his face once again.
Last time he had been in this position, RK900 had left, puzzled, but this time he waits.
Twenty-seven minutes and eleven seconds later, Reed opens the door.
"What the fuck?"
"Detective Reed—" RK900 begins again.
"What the fuck are you still doing here, you plastic prick?!" Reed hisses. However, he does not slam the door in RK900's face this time. An improvement.
“I now understand my error,” he explains. “My intentions during my previous visit were to ensure that your cases were not mishandled or neglected in your absence.”
“Because I'm an inferior fucking human who can't just get repaired and be ready to go again the next day,” Reed interrupts, reaching for the door handle again.
"Because our objectives align," RK900 corrects hastily, before Reed can cut him off once more. "But I see now that by taking over your cases I have denied you the opportunity to complete objectives - I had not realised it was as important for humans as...” androids... No... Connor is able to shift objectives and accept failure with far more ease than RK900, “Me.”
In many ways, Reed's dedication to seeing his case though is admirable despite the fact that on this this occasion it has caused him to become upset at its reassignment. However, having come up with a solid theory as to the route of Reed's anger, RK900 can now rectify the situation.
"Compete objectives?! I'm not a fuckin' android!" Reed snaps. "I—" he falters, just for a moment, a human might not have noticed it but RK900 does, just as he notices the slight softening of Reed's tone as he says, "Of course it's shitty to swipe people's cases out from under them."
"I understand that now," RK900 agrees. “So I have acquired some other cases which I hope may serve as a functional substitute until you are able to return to homicide.”
Reed takes a step backward. "You stole my case and now you want to dump Anderson’s work on me while I’m on leave?!” His stress levels are rising. RK900 has erred. Again.
“These are unassigned cases, Detective Mendoza owed me a favour after I assisted him in analysing forensic evidence he had contaminated and so I asked him to allow me to access them. I know you enjoy your work, so I hoped they might satisfy you until you have recovered enough to resume your usual duties. I selected them with your preferences in mind, I believe you will find them engaging."
"I..." Reed hesitates, eyes narrowing in suspicion. "Are you apologising to me?"
Is he? An apology is an admission of an error and regret at that error. RK900 had made an error in misjudging Reed's response to having his case solved by another, but he had been ordered to take on that case when Captain Fowler had reassigned Reed's urgent cases following the Detective's injury. He cannot regret his actions, but he does regret that they caused Reed to experience emotional difficulties.
"Yes," RK900 decides. "I took from you when I resolved the Edgeworth case, although that was not my intention, and so I wish to offer you a substitute."
Reed's face screws up, an emotion that RK900 cannot label despite Cyberlife's state of the art facial analysis software and his own experiences with emotions since deviancy. “And you called in your work favour to get more work?”
His tone clarifies nothing. Reed takes his job seriously and gives every indication of enjoying it, yet at the moment seems to be engaging in the common human practise of expressing disdain for willingly participating in activities related to employment.
"Would you prefer that I return these cases to Mendoza?" RK900 asks. He brought them because he theorised Reed would appreciate having something to occupy himself with and providing that occupation might balance out RK900's errors during their previous meeting, but if Reed is unwilling then it would be counterproductive to press the matter.
"When you've just told me you got them because Mendoza contaminated evidence?" Reed shakes his head. "Mendoza, Lyle, why do central get all the morons?" He steps back from the door. "What the hell, hit me.”
RK900 follows him into the apartment, noting that several takeout containers sit at the top of the of the trash can which does not seem to have been emptied since in his last visit and the indented central couch cushion that suggests long term occupation. Reed is not taking his extended sick leave well.
RK900 waits for Reed to take a seat, sinking into that well-worn spot on the couch, before handing over the tablet he’d borrowed from the precinct. It would have been simpler to transfer the files to Reed’s personal device but RK900 is uncertain that Reed would be willing to allow interfacing with his possessions so sooner after their disagreement.
He remains standing, watching as Reed scroll through the details of the cases, not officially deemed related yet although RK900’s analysis suggests that there is too much similarity between them from them to be entirely unconnected, all casual flicks of his fingertip until he comes to the images and pales further. “Jesus christ...”
A low whistle and Reed's own cat approaches, jumping into his lap where Reed can curl a protective arm around her. Fascinating. Despite being an experienced police detective, more than experienced with the worst humanity has to offer, he is still capable of being disturbed by harm to animals.
“These aren’t random runaways and accidents, this is the work of a torturing pet-napper,” Reed says, the same conclusion that RK900 had drawn.
“Animal crimes are deemed low priority and none of these cases are subject to active investigation,” RK900 explains. “However, my research that many individuals who commit violent crimes against humans begin with offences against animals, so perhaps we can resolve this threat before it reaches that point.”
"Fuck that, there are a whole lot of animal abusers who aren't budding serial killers," Reed dismisses and RK900 prepares to launch into his next line of persuasion when Reed continues, "I want this bastard put away anyway… but you'll have to take all the credit.”
RK900 processes, the pause likely unnoticeable to Reed but distinctly longer than he is used to requiring to process conversational inputs. No amount of cross referencing helps him though. RK900 had brought Gavin this case in compensation for taking over Reed's homicide investigation so that Reed could have a mission to focus on but also so that Reed could be credited with the case as despite the fact RK900 was just a consultant and the Edgeworth case would still be credited to Reed's file it was clear that Reed felt his fellow humans would not view him as successfully completing the mission because RK900 had been the one to make the eventual arrest despite Reed doing 87.4% of the investigating. Reed suggesting his share of the work on this case not be attributed to him is deeply illogical.
"Why wouldn't you wish to be deemed responsible for successfully solving a case?"
Surprisingly, Reed laughs. It is only momentary but RK900 logs the incident so that he can go back and analyse for causes and replicable factors later.
“Tina is a union rep," Reed explains. "She’d eat me alive if she found out I worked on sick leave.”
Again, illogical. Why does Reed act so far outside of the parameters of expected human behaviour that Cyberlife had included in his programming? “Her role as a representative extends to dictating your choice to work? And you permit it?” It seems uncharacteristic of Reed to submit so easily to the will of another when it was so clearly contrary to his preferences.
“Have to,” Reed says with a disaffected shrug. “If I work when sick it undermines everyone and gives the assholes at the top ammo to say that we all ought to work while sick and we’re slacking if we don’t, and that's the last thing we need when we're at constant risk of being replaced by plastic anyway.”
Reed talks about being replaced by androids as if it is an unavoidable fact but RK900's projections suggest that not only is it highly unlikely, it should not take advanced analytic capabilities to calculate that improbability. Androids had many advantages but the bulk of crimes were committed by humans and while currently it was a matter of androids involved in crime insisting on having androids on the case but if they became the majority of law enforcement employees then humans would likely insist on having one of their own involved in the investigations.
However, it is clear that androids replacing humans is a subject that provokes volatile reactions from Reed and RK900 does not yet understand him well enough to successfully navigate a discussion of such a topic. “I am surprised the Officer Chen has retained the position of union representative now that androids are integrating into the workforce given her past anti-android sentiments.” Humans typically enjoy discussing their peers.
And yet RK900 is not particularly surprised when Reed scowls instead. “Protecting humans from automation was one of the biggest goals of every fucking union out there until last year. They might be jumping on the equal work rights for androids and humans now, because apparently all the legit reasons that's a dumb fuckin’ idea go out the window when they’re tryna distance themselves from accusations of slavery, but if they start to backstab their strongest people for having some loyalty to the policies they stood by for years then we’re all gonna know the union charter ain’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
“You believe there are legitimate reasons that androids and humans shouldn’t have equal work rights?” Connor and Captain Fowler had warned him that Reed may hold anti-android sentiments and it is clear now that Reed does have issues with androids but RK900 finds that rather than being discouraged by this knowledge he wishes to understand. Reed's words and actions have not been indicative of a blanket hatred of androids or a disapproval of artificially created life and RK900 wishes to understand the basis for his inconsistent anger.
“Well yeah,” Reed’s tone is condescending rather than defensive, as if he is utterly certain that he is correct in this. “You don’t need money for half the shit humans have to pay for just to stay alive and you don’t need rest, or vacation, or half the health and safety and basic human dignity shit the labour movements have been fighting to get for the last three fuckin’ centuries. Androids are the perfect goddamn scabs.”
“Surely that is a problem with the capitalistic socio-economic system utilised by most human societies, rather than an android-human relations issue?”
“Oh, yeah, we’ll just get rid of capitalism. Easy-fucking-peasy. You’re a genius! Why did we never think of that?”
Reed’s stress levels are rising again and RK900 is unsure how to calm him. Human economic systems are irrationally structured if the greater good of their species is the goal, but they constructed those systems. “I have flagged several potential leads in the case files,” he says instead, redirecting the conversation back in a direction he is programmed for. “Please take some time to review the cases and contact me when you are ready to proceed.”
Reed’s expression is wary and RK900 is acutely aware that he has lost all of the progress he made with the detective following their breakfast meeting, is perhaps even working from a worse position than he’d begun in distrust being a far more challenging emotion to change than distaste, but Reed nods so it seems he does not need to declare this attempt at gaining a partner his fastest failure yet.
The files RK900 had brought him are fucked. That’s the only reason Gavin texts him and agrees to meet. He’s not going to forget the way the thing had undermined him, but fuck he is bored and the pictures in that case file made him feel sicker than any professional backstabbing ever could. The thought of dealing with the android makes him angry and knowing he’s going to have to let the plastic glory-hound take all the credit pisses him off even more but he’ll tolerate whatever it takes if it means putting this Cruella de Vil wannabe motherfucker away.
Pet-napping is a dick move when it’s for resale and money and animal abuse is shitty but they both happen and the DPD doesn’t have a whole lot of resources to do anything about it. These cases are something else though, too many animal bodies turning up in similar states only for animal control to scan them and find out that their chips match those of pets reported missing - these aren’t random incidents, of theft or of people being dickheads, this is some sick sadist systematically targeting pets and torturing them to death - ‘evisceration’ one of the reports had labelled it and that was one of the neater bodies.
Normally he lets Duchess roam free while he’s out, she’s smart enough not to walk into traffic and vicious enough that the other neighbourhood animals know not to fuck with her, but this time he double checks all the windows aren’t just shut but locked so there’s no way she can squirm out. The crimes have been scattered over the city and there’s been none in his neighbourhood yet but Gavin doesn’t feel like taking any chances - if he knows his girl is out there while his mind is also on all this fucked up shit he’s not going to be able to keep the nagging thread of worry that starts as soon as he leaves his apartment pushed down.
Once he's sure she's secure he heads out to meet the android.
It had proposed meeting and travelling to the crime scene together but Gavin had refused, he’d had enough of spending time with the thing and giving it opportunities to manipulate him. Like that whole farce of an apology, as if the piece of plastic has the capacity to really regret taking his case when Gavin can’t even remember the last time a proper human had given a shit about his feelings.
The latest incident had begun as a noise complain that had resulted in animal control being called out only to find that instead of a barking dog there was a dead one - an occurrence that matches the pattern RK900 had identified but is officially somewhere on the bottom of a rookie cop’s to-do list - meant to be glanced at, signed off, and forgotten about.
But Gavin finds himself mentally preparing as he approaches in much the same way he would for the scene of a human homicide. Except for the fact he’s not going to be investigating alone, but with an android functioning as a partner. If he weren’t so tense, he’d laugh at himself.
The android is already waiting for him when he arrives at the address the latest incident was reported at and Gavin isn’t surprised - it probably deliberately arrived ten minutes before the meeting time just so it could make him feel late. As if Gavin gives a fuck.
“Let’s get on with it,” Gavin says, pushing his way into the apartment. There are signs that it was squatted in once, but it clearly hasn’t got any residents at the moment and official records list it as abandoned so at least they don’t have to worry about trying to get a warrant. The door doesn’t even have a working lock.
Gavin is here for the case and nothing more, but he can’t exactly shut his ears when the android says, “I have been considering what you said about the issues androids may present to workplace rights.”
He grits his teeth. The last thing Gavin wants is another lecture about how he should just accept being screwed over by the plastic pricks because it's their shiny new civil right to do as they please and to hell with who is harmed by treating them like they're human when they aren't.
Despite all his alleged abilities though, RK900 doesn't seem to notice that Gavin is ignoring him.
"I have submitted a membership application to the police union."
Gavin's stumble is only momentary, foot catching on an uneven floorboard but he's still staggering as he abandons trying to blank out the android in favour of turning and being complete upfront about his, "What the fuck?"
It has got another dumb look on its face and Gavin is pretty sure that it must be mocking him as it says, “Unions are founded on a principle of solidarity between workers, even across different demographic groups,” which, what the fuck, Gavin doesn’t need a lecture on labour rights 101 from a thing that was built to undermine them, “As androids enter the workforce it would be advantageous to have the support of our human co-workers, therefore it is logical to offer reciprocal support. On a more personal level, encouraging union membership among androids will provide me with a suitable occupation for my time that is not directly linked to my employment, therefore preventing the situation you suggested in which conflict is created by my spending far more of my hours working than a human is capable of.”
It’s hard to tell, RK900 only seems to bother with facial expressions when they'll help it be an asshole and even those are hard to pin down, but his voice has subtle inflections and Gavin’s pretty sure what he’s hearing right now is the repressed android version of a mixture of pride and enthusiasm. It's like Connor's obnoxious cheeriness if you ran it through a vocal modulator until it almost hit monotone.
"You want to join the police union?"
Oh. Oh fuck. Tina is going to love this. Gavin is a hundred percent sure she’d have told him if any of the other police androids had tried to join the union since going deviant, which means RK is going to be the first but it sounds like he has no intention of being the last.
"My research suggests you are correct in concluding that androids might be easily coerced to working in excess of what is expected of humans, it is important for androids that they do not replace enslavement with exploitation and important for humans that androids are not manipulated into undermining established labour standards."
Gavin doesn't stumble again, but it's close. The plastic prick had actually listened to his ranting? And decided to join the union because Gavin put the idea in its head?
Scratch funny. Tina is going to kill him.
“I don’t want to hear about your hobbies,” he snaps. Honestly, he does want to know more, wants to ask how RK900 plans on following up on his ideas, wants to debate economics and labour ethics, but that would mean showing interest in an android and Gavin refuses to go there. He still has a little self-respect left. Instead he focuses on the scene and, “Is that blood?”
There’s a streak of it on the door frame, too high up to be from the dog and Gavin frowns. That could be useful but even if they take a sample it’s not like they can do much with it when they’re investigating unofficially. As much as he’d like for crimes like this to be taken seriously he’s not so naive that he doesn’t understand why it isn’t getting investigated - they don’t have the resources to run lab work on random blood that may or may not be evidence in a misdemeanour animal death or, if the dog turns out to have been a pet reported missing, a petty theft.
There are few things shittier than having evidence right there are not being able to use it, whether because of laws protecting the rights of criminal or cases like this when there just weren’t the resources to spend working on something low priority and he bitches as such out loud.
“I am capable of running an immediate analysis on the sample,” RK900 says. “However, I have been informed that humans find the process disturbing and I must advise you to focus your attention elsewhere.”
Gavin scowls, pretty certain the thing is just trying to get him to fuck off so it can do some robo-fuckery. Sure, it didn’t have to involve him in this case it the first place but he’s fairly sure that it must have some sort of hidden agenda for that - a sincere apology from an android is just too absurd to contemplate. “I’m fine here,” Gavin says. “You’re still just a consultant, I’m not having you fuck shit up while my back is turned.”
There is a long pause and then RK900 says, “If you’re certain. However, please recall that I advised you otherwise.”
“Get on with it,” Gavin snaps, he doesn’t want to stand here and listen to excuses.
RK900 inclines its head in a brief nod, then it shoves its fingers into the blood and Gavin briefly wants to complain about contaminating evidence but this kind of scene isn’t going to get photographed and have samples taken by actual CSI techs and it's not like the android has any fingerprints or DNA to taint it with.
Then it licks its fingers clean.
Because that’s not fucking weird at all.
“The D.N.A is human and matches traces sampled at other crime scenes, but it does not belong to anybody currently registered in the DPD database,” RK900 announces. “I hope you were not too disturbed by the process.”
“Wait, was that it?” Gavin is pretty he’s gaping at it, but c’mon! “Your big gross thing is licking a bit of blood? What kind of pussy do you think I am?"
"Many humans have proved uncomfortable with Cyberlife's decision to place the sensors required for evidence analysis in the mouths of androids equipped with those functions," RK900 says, L.E.D doing that obnoxious yellow thing again.
Gavin rolls his eyes, he does wonder what Cyberlife creep came up with that but it’s more strange than the sickening sight RK900 seemed to have been making it out to be. "Then you’re hanging out with babies. Jesus, you should see some of the things my fucking cat brings in, now that shit gets disturbing.”
He’s pretty sure the android is staring at him as he moves on but he refuses to look back, even after they’ve cleared the scene and parted ways.
It's too easy to be comfortable with it and it's supreme unconcern for the fact Gavin can't be bothered playing nice, he can't forget that it's just waiting for another opportunity to stab him in the back; an opportunity Gavin isn't going to give because he knows how to work with people who have it out for him, after all half the DPD want to see him gone but he's not going to give them satisfaction because this shit-hole of a city is his shit-hole of a city. It was his when he was a kid hanging out in the abandoned factories that were all the remained of the faded motor city glory that had drawn his parents in and the name android city might have grown popular over the years and is seen as all the more relevant now, but Gavin won't be chased out by androids. He might have a better chance of being free of the pricks if he upped sticks for somewhere that wasn't the heartland of their revolution but he was here first and Gavin isn't a quitter. He had to remember who the enemy was, no matter how good it was at tricking him into being amused by it.
He’s here to stop a killer, even if it’s a little outside of his usual remit, but once that’s done then he’s dropping this unofficial partnership and going back to situation normal where he works alone and the android goes back to trailing after Anderson and Connor and working with whatever idiots in the department think that sucking up might get the spared when the androids stop playing at equality and friendliness and pull their inevitable bullshit.
Gavin isn’t playing that game.
Probably going to be a little break in updates over the holiday period both because my routine is disrupted and because I still have xmas fic to get done but regular updates will return in the new year
Reed has consented to work the new case with him, but it is readily apparently to RK900 that his efforts have not been sufficient to remedy the offence caused by completing Reed’s case in his absence.
He is working far outside the parameters of his limited social programming as they progress to the second crime scene in an attempt to extract a deeper level of detail than was noted in the initial reports, the responding officer treating the incident as trivial rather than the act of a serial criminal who could potentially escalate, in an attempt to build a profile of their animal killer. Reed has already posited several theories as to the nature of a person who would commit such offences, disappointingly, however, these seem to be largely a connection of generic negative stereotypes, Reed believes that the crimes are bad and therefore the killer should reflect his other notions of a bad person, a disappointingly ignorant response from the detective.
“The site of the incident was in the parking lot of Rosenthorne Retirement Apartments,” he prompts, when Reed pauses unexpectedly midway up the street leading to the building.
“I know that dipshit,” Reed grumbles, “It’s just across here.”
Then why has Reed stopped? “The we should proceed to the designated pedestrian crossing point so that we can—”
Reed rolls his eyes and steps into the road.
Crossing the street - odds of survival: 21.5696357412588...%
He grabs Reed by the jacket, hauling him back hard enough that the Detective stumbles, falling back against RK900’s chest.
For a moment they are both still, RK900 processors free to take in every detail without needing to prioritise by relevance. The worn fabric of Reed’s jacket, his slightly accelerated heart-rate, traces of off-brand men’s antiperspirant—
Then Reed jerks away.
“What the fuck are you playing at?!”
RK900 constructs several responses, weighing how well they might be received. Explaining the presence of road traffic and that motor vehicle accidents are one of the most frequent killers of healthy American adults might be interpreted as condescending, this is information Reed should already know. But his willingness to step out blindly and his current surprise that RK900 prevented such an action indicates Reed is either unaware of the dangers or has failed to comprehend their relevance to the situation.
"This is not a designated crossing point," RK900 explains, for a moment vocal modulation processes engage before he switches them back off. One of the greatest inconveniences of deviancy is functions engaging unnecessarily. "And you did not carry out sufficient observations before stepping out."
Reed scoffs. “Was one of Cyberlife’s upgrades to make you into a wuss? Even Connor isn’t scared of traffic.”
Reed is referencing the incident in which Connor chased a pair of deviants across a freeway. However Reed lacks the pre-construction abilities and reaction times of an android - and even in Connor’s case his avoidance of destruction had partly been down to the fact the deviants he’d been attempting to apprehend had selected a safe route despite the lack of advanced analytical software installed in AX and YK models.
“Two of the cars were exceeding the safe limit by more than ten percent and the registration plates of one vehicle indicate it has been involved in two hit and run incidents in the last three years and remains in the hands of the same owner.”
"It's Detroit," Reed dismisses. "People speed all the time and just because androids are programmed to only cross at green lights doesn't mean the rest of us can't cross when we want. It's called using judgement."
This is incorrect. Detroit has several legal statutes which restrict jaywalking and while RK900 is only a consultant if another officer of the law was present then they would technically be obliged to issue Reed with a ticket although RK900 is aware that many officers, including Reed, selectively overlook minor offences such as jaywalking and littering as being inefficient to act on.
“I am capable of real time probability calculations,” he explains to Reed, because the humans’ disinterest in androids means he may be sincerely unaware of that fact. “Your odds of being involved in a fatal incident had you proceeded with your intended course of action exceeded ninety percent.”
Deceit, yes, but even before deviancy RK900 had been programmed with the capacity to mislead humans for the greater good. Humans can be deeply irrational about probability, filled with notions of ‘beating the odds’, and Reed's lack of judgement in approaching the road suggests that the human is operating under the belief that he is at far lower risk of injury than he actually is. Humans often seem to believe that the outcomes of select events affect the probabilities of others even when the two occurrences are unrelated - perhaps Reed believes his existing injury renders him impervious to further damage, the strange human notion that their lives are dictated by an outside force which arranges events with regard to fairness. Or perhaps Reed simply hadn't considered the personal risk.
Reed’s willingness to prioritise a mission over his own comfort is admirable, but a reckless disregard for fatal levels of danger is not something RK900 will tolerate in a future partner.
"Ninety?" Reed's tone is disbelieving, but the way his eyes dart back to the road suggests that Reed is at least considering the outcome RK900 has presented.
“Ninety,” RK900 repeats. The key to successful deception is to be committed. For humans there is the additional step of avoiding adding extraneous details, although RK900 could fabricate a more precise percentage and maintain the lie without issue, he chooses not to because Reed is more likely to be dismissive in the face of actions which remind him of RK900’s differing capabilities, especially since RK900 has yet to figure out a way to persuade Reed that these capabilities are an asset rather than a potential threat. “In future, you should proceed with greater caution.” If RK900 is present and in a position to, he will of course ensure Reed’s safety, but if they are going to form a successful partnership he will also need to be able to trust that Reed is acting with an appropriate level of self-preservation.
Reed pulls away, wrapping his arms around himself to rub his hands over the sleeves of the jacket as if attempting to smooth out creases although the garment had been clearly rumpled past the point that could be rectified by anything other than a complete re-laundering even before RK900's intervention.
“Whatever,” he mutters. “Do we have crimes to solve, or what?” He glances up and down the street, quick jerks of his head to the right and left, and steps out into the street once more.
There is a crossing point a few hundred meters up the street which remains the superior option, they are under no time pressure, and, while on this occasion the risk to the detective is minimal, he was still too hasty in his observations to have examined and considered all of the proper hazards before commencing his movement. Further measures may need to be taken in order to assure Reed’s adherence to safety protocols. Why were humans so deeply in denial about their own fragility?
Gavin watches RK900 as the care-worker lets them into the retirement home yard where the most recent of the animal abuse incidents had occurred, wondering what the android’s deal was. Years of detective work have made him a good judge of other people’s motives but RK900 is mystifying - and not just because he’s an android. RK900 is mystifying even by policy-says-androids-are-people-now standards; most plastics either kept acting pretty much like they had pre-revolution, fulfilling objectives related to their programming, or went totally off the rails exploring their newfound freedom but RK900 seems to switch between being totally focused on the job and doing things that were utterly inexplicable as far as Gavin could tell, a back and forth that wasn’t quite human-like but was certainly unique.
It had pulled him out traffic, sure, when it could have taken the opportunity to get rid of him, but then again he only had the android's word that he’d been in any danger to begin with, it could have been a manipulation, pretending to be interested in his safety to lull him into a false sense of security, or subtle intimidation, the reminder of its strength and speed had certainly been un-ignorable. Why had Cyberlife seen fit to build him like that anyway, taller than the standard android frame and broad shouldered even though an android’s body had little bearing on their strength?
Probably just the preference of some creep designer, and that made it easy for Gavin to sweep away the tangle of confusion in a wave of revulsion. Urgh, Cyberlife. Though he isn't sure why they'd given him such an inhuman personality when Connor clearly proves they were capable of condensing all the things that made people annoying into one super-obnoxious android frame.
At least they've spared RK900 the damn freckles - at least above the collar through Gavin is pretty sure that artificially flawless skin went all the way down.
What does he think, in a place like this, surrounded by aging and decrepit human bodies, inching their way towards inevitable death? Probably it’s an ego boost, plastic fucker.
It's a relief to step into the courtyard, where he has the case to focus on and a respite from the overwhelming smell of old people.
Hardly aspirational though, the small square of concrete with its wilted flower boxes lit by what little sunlight can creep by the buildings which surround it makes Gavin glad that he's got a solid chance of being killed in the line of duty before he gets dumped in one of these places. If there was even anybody to do the dumping, after all his sister was a few years older than he was and unless something changed dramatically her brats weren't going to have enough to do with him to care if he rotted at home or in a home. There was nothing in it for them when he’d already willed everything he had to a nearby cat sanctuary, despite the disapproval of the department lawyer who'd been supposed to advise rookies on putting precautions in place for their possible death; no human was going to benefit from Gavin's death as long he had say over it.
Who knows, maybe RK’s rescue will prove temporary and Gavin could yet get himself hit by a car before the day was out.
First though, another dead pet. A cat again, the killer dabbled in others but it was felines that were the bulk of the victims (clearly a sign of the worst sort of person).
This needs solving and fast, before the killer can do any more harm and before Gavin recovers and is allowed back on homicides and loses the time for illicitly working on stolen cases. It's easy for RK900, who doesn't sleep, but Gavin has a deadline.
There isn't much in the courtyard to go on, no cameras, although the windows looking out onto it and the fact it could only be accessed through the building meant potential witnesses. Gavin hopes they find something else to prioritise though, there were few things worse than canvassing the elderly with their tendency to ramble on and do anything to keep talking even when they had nothing to say. Worst of all are the ones who make complaints when he cuts them off or leaves before they're done babbling - for some inane reason Fowler insists on including those reports in his disciplinary record as if it were Gavin in the wrong despite the fact that wasting police time is a crime.
People are the worst, he thinks, watching the android assess the scene and wondering if he could get away with pawing witnesses interviews off on it, or if it would activate some latent programming and get stuck for hours listening to the rambling of some senile old twit who’d gone too blind and batty to realise RK900 wasn't their old personal care android.
Gavin spent most of his time dealing with humans unconvincingly pretending to be ‘better’ than they were, playing along with social expectations, and now the mess had been made worse by androids, most of them imitating humans but a few stripping their skin and claiming to embrace their robotic nature even though to him it seems as much a pretence at a stereotype as the others managed even if their target was different.
Not RK900 though. The unabashed weirdness was no doubt at least a bit a front, that was just part of life, but there was something unique to it, even the artifice was about RK rather than social conditioning.
As evidenced by, “Are you seriously eating cat food right now?”
The android drags its fingers from between its lips without showing an ounce of discomfort.
If it took samples with its mouth it must have some sort of sensors in there, but Gavin has no idea if they work anything like taste-buds. Could androids even ingest things, or was it going to spit the grey-brown mush back out again? Sure, he hadn't seemed perturbed by sampling the blood later, but blood was probably better than this food which was cheap overly processed looking stuff, probably made with bits of organs and sold by a discount store, unlike what Gavin fed Duchess which contained nicer cuts of meat than many humans dined on, himself frequently included.
“There are traces of animal sedative in this food," RK900 observes, but then he turns away leaving Gavin's speculation about if it swallows or not unsatisfied. Androids must have the capacity, given their many uses, but perhaps those capabilities weren't considered relevant to a law enforcement model.
Whatever. Curiosity about the android would only put him at risk of dropping his guard again. Better to focus on the case.
Sedatives in the food. So, their killer wanted to prevent pain? No, it hardly seemed to fit with the style of the attacks. The killer needed the animals subdued in order to overpower them.
He frowns, trying to remember the files he’s read. Some of the other incidents were also pretty close to retirement buildings, and now he thinks about it he’s pretty sure it’s the closest thing to a pattern they have.
“Hey, google-brain,” he says. “Search if any of the other crimes occurred near places old people hang out. Community centres, bingo halls, y’know.”
“I do not utilise Google or any other commercial search engine,” RK900 replies, turning to face him, “I use proprietary Cyberlife systems to index online records.”
Does Gavin care? No, he does not. “Can you do it or not?”
A brief pause and then, “Seven of the incidents have occurred within a half mile radius of locations which match your parameters,” RK900 announces. “Three further incidents occurred within a quarter mile radius of bus stops on lines which connect to such locations.”
Huh. Bus routes. That's not a bad line of thinking. Gavin's not sure how he feels about initiative from the android, but at least he's showing it in a way that is actually useful instead of Connor’s brand of thinking not being human made him above the law.
“Do you have a theory, Detective?”
Gavin does, although he hesitates for a moment before sharing it. If he was dealing with a human officer he'd definitely keep his mouth shut, didn't need the shit they'd give him if he theory didn't pan out even if he was the only one at least trying to come up with solutions while they stood around with their thumbs up their assets, but he wasn't sure the android possessed enough of a sense of humour to tease and anyway he refused to care what it thought of him.
“I think we have a mad cat lady on our hands,” he admits, shoving his hands in his pockets as he waited for the android’s reaction.
There is a long pause.
“You previously suggested you believed the killer to be male.”
Honestly, working with Connor, who has no idea how real police work goes, and Anderson, a washed-up loser who is just riding his android’s coattails, has given RK900 a really shitty perspective on police work if it takes every comment Gavin tosses out as a serious theory. “Spit-balling,” he points out. “Men commit more crimes than women, especially violent crimes. Doesn’t mean I’d discounted a female killer as a possibility.” And while he'd said cat lady he wouldn't ignore it if the evidence started pointing to a man, but most crazy pet types were women and he had a hunch. One he wasn’t going to expound upon without further evidence though. Sure, he can make guesses, but if the android is going to treat all his speculations as solid theories then Gavin is going to keep the ideas to himself until he could back them up. “I don’t know what the fuck Anderson and Connor get up to,” he complains, “But this is how investigations work.”
“The use of sedation may suggest a physically weak killer,” RK900 says, though it was hard to say if he was trying to piece the evidence back to Gavin's theory or constructing his own. “And the pattern of locations you have suggested applies to more than two thirds of the incidents, you are correct that the--”
“I don't need you to robo-splain my own theory back to me,” Gavin grumbles, although at least the android isn't trying to disprove it.
RK900 nods. “We should prioritise crime scenes which fit the pattern before investigating further.”
They should. But there’s something else they need to do first.
“A lot of people live here,” Gavin says, hating every word that comes out of his mouth but hating the thought of another animal getting hurt because he decided to pass up an obvious chance to find an actual witness. “How are you at interviewing?”
“I have an 87% success rate at extracting confessions from suspects,” RK900 says, after a strange moment of pause. Androids don’t need thinking time so what could have been holding back his answer? “However, both Connor and Lieutenant Anderson have expressed that I refrain from handling witnesses.”
Well they might let RK900’s plastic ass slack, but like hell Gavin is going up against a bunch of people in a retirement home without back-up. Normally he has to suffer the fact that being a police detective makes his arrival the most interesting part of their day (or much longer) but maybe a police android will serve as an adequate distraction.
“Well, tin-can, it’s time for you to learn how to canvass.”
Also, my Reed900 playlist on spotify! For further insight into a) the ridiculous moods I get into when writing these two, b) my ridiculous taste in music.
RK900 does not like putting their investigation on hold, but he could not disagree with the merit of the idea when Reed had brought their attempts to a halt the previous evening on the grounds that all of the incidents they were investigating had occurred within daylight hours and that the majority of the other crime scenes were either inaccessible outside of business hours, too old to for useful evidence to remain undisturbed, or were outdoor locations that would be better investigated when natural light was available.
Furthermore, as the day had drawn late Reed had increasingly shifted his left shoulder, likely an unconscious gesture but one which prompted RK900 to consider the fact that Reed is still recovering from his recent injury and if he is to recover promptly so that RK900 can commence the process of making their partnership official then he must be encouraged not to over-strain himself.
It had been frustrating to cut their work short, but RK900 could not deny that he would not have progressed nearly as far had he been working alone - an abstract understanding of the processes involved in canvassing for witnesses had turned out not to be remotely adequate to equip him to enact the process and Reed’s assistance had been invaluable. Most of their prospective witnesses had shied away from RK900, many of them were from a generation who had lived most of their lives without androids and had not been accepting of their presence even before the uprising and no small number of the others seemed to be unaware that androids were no long obliged to serve humans (some had signs of a deteriorating mental state, but several others appeared to be acting in wilful ignorance) — these impediments would have been unavoidable, but RK900 had also struggled to elicit information from more co-operative witness. One elderly woman had taken considerable offence to his refusing her offer of a beverage he would have been unable to consume and refused to acknowledge him from that point on, speaking only to Reed; several others had responded poorly when RK900 had tried to direct them back to relevant topics of discussion when they had digressed into personal anecdotes entirely unrelated to the case; and when they had taken undue interest in the personal lives of both RK900 and Reed, including several offers of dates with relatives of an appropriate age for Reed to have a romantic relationship with.
Reed had mocked him with each failed attempt, but within the mockery there were often hints of direction: accepting hospitality put humans at ease although it was always unwise for a human officer to actually consume food or drink offered to them by people met in the course of their investigations, that a degree of rambling was an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of dealing with the general public although Reed had successfully manipulated the speakers ire at RK900 to indirectly guide the conversation back to the case; and to nod and smile at any talk of attractive grandchildren and then immediately throw out any contact details passed on.
There were so many things that Cyberlife had not seen fit to equip RK900 for, but Reed had navigated the potential witnesses masterfully, extracting several testimonies that would likely be of assistance to their investigation, despite the fact that precinct gossip had informed RK900 that Reed lacked social grace. Clearly his deviance from social norms was a question of choice rather than capability.
This would also explain why he seemed to delight in RK900’s struggles.
“You’re a public relations disaster,” Reed crows as they make their way to the next location of their investigation the next morning. The words sound like a condemnation but his tone is amused. The contradiction is not unlike the one RK900 had observed when Reed was interacting with his domestic companion animal, which RK900 had concluded stemmed from the fact that the cat hissing at him was an action that could be viewed negatively by an outsider but did not reduce Reed’s affection. Could this be a sign that, as RK900 had speculated, Reed’s contrary disposition will render him more open to those elements of RK900’s programming that other humans found off-putting?
“Unlike Connor I was not programmed to interact with humans beyond taking orders and conducting interrogations,” RK900 states. It is one of the reasons that he has struggled to obtain a partner and Captain Fowler has refused to allow him to operate without one. He had known that Reed kept himself apart from the androids around the precinct and affected to be indifferent to them, however he had assumed that Reed had at least a little awareness of his struggles - or at least could not have failed to observe that RK900 lacked socially during their course of their previous encounters and both the small and large errors he made in their interactions.
“Huh, you’d think talking to witnesses would be a pretty standard part of the detective android package,” Reed remarks, but there is a thoughtful look in his eye that suggests that he would require little additional prompting to reach the conclusion that the RK900 series was never intended to fulfil the role of standard civilian law enforcement, but rather to operate in situations where martial law might apply or for sale to private owners as a paramilitary force. But most humans he had met had happily assumed that Connor was designed as a friendly police-prototype rather than a corporate spy with assassination capabilities and assumed the same of RK900 and it had seemed unwise to challenge that belief. Likewise, it will not help their potential partnership for Reed to pursue that notion; he will likely figure it out at some point, and RK900 will not lie to him but this will be better addressed once they have a more solidly established working relationship.
“I am working to acquire the skill, however Cyberlife stopped providing updates following the android uprising so I am having to use less efficient methods,” he deflects.
Reed pulls a face and RK900 realises his misstep immediately - Reed has previously indicated concerns about the relative efficiency of humans and androids and reminding him of the slowness of learning skills instead of having them programmed is unlikely to prompt a positive reaction despite the fact the skill in question is one when Reed’s abilities far exceed RK900’s own.
“So Cyberlife aren’t updating you,” Reed says derisively, “You should probably be glad they haven’t forced out some sort of virus. But you’re telling me that ten year olds can figure out illegal file sharing to get their shitty games for free, but androids haven’t got there yet?”
In fact, many deviant androids shared their programming with each other, passing on skills and awareness, but Connor was insistent that it was in RK900’s best interests to ‘learn’ socialisation as a human might rather than simply uploading Connor’s social programming.
“Connor does not approve of such methods,” RK900 admits. While there is some merit to Connor’s concern about the overlap between social programming and personality matrix leading to corruption of data, Connor overestimates the risks, insisting that he is worried about the affect such an action could have on RK900’s personality despite the fact, as an android intended strictly for professional applications, he was not programmed with one. “And he has informed me—”
Reed interrupts him by snorting. “You know he's just jealous, right?”
RK900 weighs this possibility for several moments and then decided to be frank. “I do not understand.” It is true that he was intended as an upgrade, the finalised version of the concept RK800 had been designed as a trial for, but it is also true that Connor has better social programming and is more advanced in his deviancy, factors which mean that most of their colleagues continue to perceive the older android as the superior unit.
Gavin rolls his eyes. “It’s hardly a surprise, when you joined we heard all about how you're harder, better, faster, stronger.”
“While I have been upgraded, most of the changes were software based, I am made of the same polymers as Connor and we have the same Mohs index score.”
“Whatever, Daft Punk. Cyberlife designed you to be Connor but better right, none of his stupid limitations like making him all goofy so he can't be taken too seriously and nobody will realise he was a corporate spy covering Cyberlife’s ass. I mean, do you have any idea the kind of damages they were gonna be on the hook for if the whole deviancy thing hadn't kicked in and made androids responsible for their own shit instead of a dangerous product and a massive corporate liability?”
Yes. RK900 is fully aware that Cyberlife’s investigations into deviancy had been prompted by fears of lawsuits rather than care for society, although most people who know Connor seem curiously willing to accept the fiction that Cyberlife created him out of generosity. That Reed is rightly skeptical of Connor’s original intentions supports RK900’s theory that he is likely to figure out that RK900 was not designed for civilian work. Not yet though. Or at least, Reed seems to have no present intent of confronting him regarding the matter. That does not explain Reed’s belief that Connor might have reason to be jealous of him. “Many people would consider original designs irrelevant now that we chose our own purposes.”
“That sounds like something people who can’t cut it would say,” Reed dismisses. “You can do stuff Connor can't, so he's trying to drag you back down to his limits, like some rainbow fish bullshit.”
A search of ‘rainbow fish’ indicates several aquatic lifeforms as well as a controversial children’s book, both odd choices of comparison. “You believe Connor’s assistance is a manipulation?” the theory might have applied to the ruthless personality matrix the RK800 had originally been programmed with but it seemed at odds with the choices Connor has made in deviancy.
“Trust me, I’ve heard it all before. ‘You're gonna die alone Gav,’” he slips into a shrill imitation of a female voice. “‘Cats aren't company. You'll regret being so career focused when you're old and there's nobody to take care of you. Police work can't make you happy like family can’. She got knocked up a year out of high school and now she’s stuck in the suburbs running around after the sticky little brats and her useless lump of a husband, so she tries to make out she's got it best and I'm somehow missing out. Connor’s bitching is just the same.”
RK900 searches databases. Gavin Reed has one sister - the most likely identity of the ‘she’ he is referring to. He is likening the relationship between RK900 and Connor to that of siblings despite the fact they are not human and expressing empathy with their situation. The concept is strangely comforting although he isn’t sure that Reed’s theory on Connor’s motives matches the data - detective Reed and Connor are not close acquaintances and their views of each other seem unduly influenced by the fact their goals were at odds during the early stages of the android revolution.
This is the third store which stocks the brand of pet food found at the retirement home, but thus far they have yet to generate a lead. But with no other lines of investigation to pursue until they can interview at the next retirement home, located in the centre of the crime zone but not open to visitors until the afternoon, they are chasing any supplementary data they can.
Reed with his proven capacity for extracting information from witnesses takes the lead, while RK900 continues to observe, attempting to identify the data points Reed uses to guide his approach and extrapolate how he can adapt his own programmed interrogation methods to be more suited to handling non-suspects.
“He seemed preoccupied with the female clerk,” RK900 observes, when Reed finally lets the clerk leave. “Perhaps she has additional information.”
“Nah, this was a bust,” Reed says. “The owner was too reliant on androids for security footage so there’s no cameras installed and these kids aren’t paid enough to pay attention to the clients — she doesn’t know any more than he does, he just wants to tap that.”
RK900 considers. Comparison to media data is inconclusive, there are similarities but not enough to draw a conclusion, and human media is frequently an inaccurate representation of how their society functions. His limited social programming would define the actions as companionable, in line with the types of interaction he had come to expect to witness between Connor and Lieutenant Anderson, the same patterns he is attempting to establish with Reed, nothing registers as a precursor of sexual interest or involvement.
Reed’s conclusions do not match the sample data.
Or RK900’s analysis of the sample data is fundamentally incorrect.
Typically unlikely, but Reed is a constant source of new challenges and perspectives.
“I am unclear as to how you have reached such a conclusion,” he confesses.
“Seriously?” Unusually, Reed tone is not the disdainful one which seems to be his preferred inflection for the word but one of genuine confusion. “You spend all day around Connor and Anderson making fuck-me eyes at each other, but you don’t recognise it other people? So much for fuckin’ advanced.”
Connor and Lieutenant Anderson?
None of his analysis indicates that this is an intentional deception from Reed - for malicious or humorous intent. He seems entirely certain of what he is stating and sincerely shocked that RK900 does not share his assessment.
RK900 has never directly enquired as to the nature of Connor and the Lieutenant’s relationship. Connor had introduced Lieutenant Anderson as his partner and RK900 had not considered the possibility that referenced more than their police partnership. It was true that Connor sharing a residence with Lieutenant Anderson was atypical of a professional relationship, but RK900 had thought this reflected the irregular legal status of androids rather than the details of their relationship.
Was Connor even appropriately equipped for that?
It was true that he had advanced social programming for human integration, but surely such activities were sufficiently outside the range of his objectives that Cyberlife would not have felt the need to equip their prototype with extras that would not increase his efficiency. Certainly, there had been no consideration for such things in RK900’s design, so if Connor had been trialled with the capability for sexual intimacy with humans it had been deemed unnecessary. Though perhaps Connor has obtained modifications — which would make his condemnation of RK900 considering software patches deeply hypocritical.
And if RK900 has incorrectly assessed the situation between Connor and the Lieutenant then he will also need to reconsider his approach to his partnership with Detective Reed, since he has been using their interactions as a guideline and the methods of instigating a professional partnership and the methods of instigating a more personal relationship were not consistently compatible.
But he had decided he wanted with Reed what Connor and Lieutenant Anderson had, and if the example he had been aspiring to was not an example of a professional relationship, does that mean he desires a more intimate relationship with Reed?
RK900 had not been equipped with the social coding or physical attributes for sexual relations, they were superfluous to Cyberlife’s requirements, but deviancy had pushed many androids beyond their original programming. It was true that he found Reed’s company to be rewarding but the nuances between how humans (and now a growing number of androids) delineating the boundaries of professional, platonic, and passionate relationships were largely a mystery. A comparative analysis of their past interactions versus the interactions of individuals in various types of relationships might be revealing, but it would be more efficient to bypass Connor and find an android who could share with him programming which would give him an internal framework to approach the matter. Connor would be displeased by the decision, but it is not Connor’s nature to linger over things he cannot influence and he would forgive RK900 in time.
But to install updates satisfactorily process new data in such a volume will require stasis, so will have to wait until after the case.
Old cases are a bitch.
This one isn’t quite a cold one since it’s an ongoing string of crimes, but it’s certainly chilly since the focus of their investigation is past incidents and hot leads are few and far between.
The only thing worse is the fact they’re going to another retirement home.
Which means old people babbling their bullshit and acting like Gavin has nothing better to do than listen to how boring their life has been even after he’s made clear that he’s a goddamn police detective on a fucking case. And RK900 is no help. He’d spent most of their last canvassing session either offending potential witnesses even more than Gavin used to back before he’d grudgingly learned to turn on a certain amount of bullshit for that kind of work, which was probably some sort of record, or standing there looking weirdly confused for a guy who claimed to have a supercomputer for a brain. Gavin had dragged him a bit after they were done, tossed a few pointers in there for conveniences sake, but his hopes aren’t high. Still, he’d rather RK900’s bad attitude than if the android had turned on some obnoxiously friendly personality programme like Connor seemed to use to charm people into not realising that he was kind of a little shit.
This place is even worse than the last one, the old people smell is joined by the faint stench of urine and a thick layer of artificial citrus that does nothing to actually mask the other two scents but reminds Gavin annoyingly of a hospital.
“Hey, can androids smell?” He hopes they can, he shouldn’t have to suffer this alone.
“I am in possession of olfactory receptors,” RK900 answers. “But I do not process the data they gather in a way that resembles the human concept of scent. Other androids have different sensory abilities depending on their purpose however, and I believe many domestic models do have capabilities which allow them imitate human responses to scent.”
So no, RK900 doesn’t have to deal with the grossness, fucking great. Though it does explain how Connor had seemed so unperturbed by the fact Anderson always used to smell faintly of stale booze and wet dog.
The bored looking receptionist on the desk is literally popping gum as they approach and Gavin doesn’t both trying not to scowl. She won’t give a shit about his professionalism anyway, she’s barely out of her teens and Gavin remembers being a gum-popping kid working a shitty minimum wage job to pay for the minimum number of college credits to get into the academy and straight onto the detective track after graduation, he knows how kids like that think.
He keeps the explanation of what they’re after vague, not sure if she’s the sort to freak out at the notion of an animal killer or the type who won’t take it seriously enough, and that they want to look around and talk to some people and see if anybody has seen anything.
She shrugs, “Most of our residents are on a day trip, but I can give you a swipe card that will give you access to their rooms.”
Gavin takes the card, but he’s judging the receptionist as he does so and doesn’t bother with even a cursory thanks as he walks away, he’s not going to waste energy trying to play the respectable public relations game with somebody who blatantly didn’t care. What kind of shit-hole home just let people wander around and let themselves into the residents’ rooms? And she’d said most of them were out which means there are still some around but Gavin has been given unsupervised access. Sure, he’s a cop, but she’d barely glanced at his badge and anyway he doubted she had the knowledge to tell a real DPD issue badge from a fake.
Somebody should really report this place for negligence, between the smell and the receptionist’s complete indifference to security Gavin is certain that even shittier things must he going on behind closed doors, although he doesn’t want to be the one to do it and get dragged into paperwork and lawsuits. Hopefully they’ll find something here that’ll warrant enough further investigation to get this place either cleaned up or closed down without it having to be his problem.
It’s grim work though, going through the rooms looking for evidence or potential witnesses but only finding dank bedrooms and signs of dull lives fading away without so much of a whimper. Gavin is never getting old, he promises himself, he might not have an android’s functional immortality, but he won’t go like this.
Room after room they work, mostly in silence because what is there to say to shit-work like this except to acknowledge after a minute or two in each room that there was nothing to be found there and Gavin is going by rote as he shoves another door open, prepared for another useless empty room with a window looking out onto a brick wall, but it jams halfway.
He shoves harder and it swings open with a clatter.
“Well, that was easy,” Gavin remarks, but he grimaces. The whole room is filled with those freaky Cyberlife pets, the ones whose status has been disputed ever since the uprising because if they are alive they clearly can’t communicate like androids could and so they are in a weird limbo between toys and pets, and every one of them is broken down for parts, metal and plastic scattered across the floor and every surface. He’s seen far more disturbing things of course, homicide wasn’t a department for the weak stomached, but it is still a fucked-up scene. But one that makes him suspect that they are onto the killer.
Still, he glances over at RK900 warily. The twists of scrap metal might look like so much garbage to him, but this is the same stuff RK900 is made of and he’s not sure what the relationship between androids and cyber-animals is. Gavin had asked for toy robot dog for Christmas when he was eight but when he actually got the thing it had turned out to just be annoying and he’s never paid attention to robot animals since, but maybe androids see them as real animals just as much as they see themselves as people.
RK900 just looks steely though. “The destruction of android animals is likely a precursor or placeholder behaviour when access to living animals is restricted. This supports my theory that the killer may be at risk of escalating.”
Objectively, it does, but Gavin has his doubts. Anybody shut up in a shitty old folks’ home like this was unlikely to have the fitness or resources to make an effective murderer. The fact that so much junk had been allowed to build up just suggests ill care and he was starting to worry about the sort of person they might find, it was one thing to joke about mad old cat ladies but if they ended up having to arrest somebody who lacked capacity the paperwork would get a whole lot worse than for a usual arrest. Although, Gavin wasn’t officially on this case, so why should he care if RK900 got lumped with bureaucratic bullshit?
Still, all evidence suggested they’ve found the suspect’s residence.
It looks like they’re going to have to talk to the rude-ass receptionist some more after all.
There is a strange curious delight to the fact that they can share a goal and have such different approaches to achieving it, although RK900 sets the feeling aside for later examination as he follows Reed as the detective storms into the reception area.
“Who the fuck is the bitch in room 309?” Reed punctuates his demand by slamming his badge down on the counter.
The reception blinks at him, bored, which is likely not his desired result.
“309, that’s Ms. Camling. She’s one of the easier residents, mostly keeps to herself and doesn’t make demanding service calls,” the girl says with a shrug. “What do you want with her?”
“We found evidence in her room that makes her the lead suspect in our current investigation,” Reed snaps. “So you’re going to tell us all about this little trip the residents are on.”
The girl shakes her head and Reed steps forward but before RK900 needs to step forward to interfere the blurts out, “She’s not on the trip. She’s not exactly social, yanno? She has some friends she visits up at that fancy Rosethorne complex apparently, but mostly she’s a loner.”
Reed’s fists clench and RK900 doesn’t understand why. This is the suspect’s residence and furthermore she has no reason to suspect that they have discovered her crimes, she will return here in due time — all they have to do is be patient.
But Reed is not patient.
“Well if she’s not here or on the stupid field trip then where the fuck is she?” he snaps. “Jesus, isn’t this supposed to be a fuckin’ care home? How much care can you be giving if she’s not fucking here.”
The receptionist shrugs. “I dunno… they’re allowed to go out as long as they come back at night. But she goes to the park a lot. It’s like three blocks from here, if you need to find her right away that’s your best bet.”
Incorrect. If they wish to locate Ms. Camling then their probability of success if highest if they remain in place.
“If she’s not there, we’ll back,” Gavin says in warning tone, glaring at the receptionist as he moves towards the exit.
RK900 steps sideways to block his path.
“This pursuit is unnecessary. If we remain here the suspect will likely return shortly and can be apprehend under controlled circumstances,” he explains. They can take advantage of the delay to prepare.
Reed glowers. “And if she’s out there right now dismembering some poor animal?”
That would be… unpleasant, RK900 decides. More victims would be an indicator of lack of mission success and, while he does not share Reed’s extreme empathy for the animals, he finds the idea of them coming to needless harm discomforting. “If we attempt to track down the suspect we may fail and she may return and become aware of our investigation,” he points out. “It would be more efficient to remain here where our success is almost certain.”
“And I’m not arresting somebody in an old people’s home while I have options,” Reed huffs. “Some fucker’ll have a heart attack from the stress, and we’ll get blamed, mark my words.”
Without updated programming there are limits to what he can do to decide the optimal outcome of his partnership with Reed, but RK900 has dedicated a background process to considering his relationship with Reed and the results only make the need to install some sort of human relations software more pressing. In this instance, it is the utterly illogical prompt to comply. Agreeing would reduce Reed’s stress levels and while it would certainly decrease the odds of their success they would still remain within an acceptable tolerance - the risk is reasonable if it improves Reed’s emotional state.
“Very well,” he concedes, but turns to the receptionist. “If Ms. Camling returns you are not to inform her of our investigation,” he instructs, making no effort to utilise the techniques Connor had once advised to make him seem less intimidating. Her fear increases the odds of her compliance.
The girl nods frantically and RK900 is confident in the methods he selected. To work in an institution such as this, providing poor care for humans in a deteriorating condition, required a level of empathy low enough that appealing to her better nature for silence would have been too risky. His construction software indicates that were he working the case with Connor or Lieutenant Anderson, or indeed any of the other human partners he has been assigned to, they would have expressed disapproval at this point but Reed smiles, a small upward twist of his mouth that only lasts a moment but assures RK900 that he chose correctly.
The location the receptionist has suggested isn’t far and Gavin doesn’t disagree with RK900’s suggestion that they proceed on foot to decrease the chances of the suspect slipping by them as they approach.
RK900 begins at a brisk walk but slows his gait by 5% when he notices that Reed is struggling - the detective is physically fit, but his stride is shorter than RK900’s and a fast walk for the android requires the human to speed up to jog every few pacts, jostling his wounded arm in the process.
The park is quiet and dark as they approach. Once this might have been a neighbourhood where children played but that era has long passed as evidenced by the fact that half the lights are out and through the gloom RK900 can see that the play equipment is vandalised beyond repair and clearly unsafe.
All these observations are secondary, however, to his audio input, which clearly picks up the low whines of an animal in distress.
There is a not insignificant chance that it is a coincidence, there any number of reasons a stray or wild animal could have cause for alarm and discomfort in this location, but Reed tenses, visibly shifting to a higher level of alertness and RK900 follows his lead. Human instincts are strange and often irrational, but they are also the by-product of millennia of evolution to the few years his programming was in development and sometimes startling accurate.
There is a figure seated on a bench near the centre of the park, silhouetted by the flickering glow of the park’s lamps, and they approach with caution - Reed with one hand ready on his gun and RK900 not yet permitted to be armed but ready for action all the same.
As they draw close the shape of an animal carrier becomes clear, as does the a bowl of food on the ground, judging by the volume and assuming that it is the same variety of tinned food sampled at the previous scene most of the serving remains and so even if the offering was drugged as previous ones have been the creature is most likely insufficiently sedated, likely explaining the level of noise which surely would have led to earlier detection if it had occurred during the previous incidents.
And a woman sits on the bench. Elderly and frail looking. Their suspect.
Beside him RK900 notes that although Reed’s face has gone pale and bloodless, his eyes narrowed with anger and disgust, he makes no move for his gun. Despite his fury, it is obvious that he has made the same assessment as RK900: the perpetrator is not an immediate threat.
In fact, she appears to be trying to soothe the animal though the bars of the carrier it is trapped in, although with little success.
A car passes by, its beams throwing a sudden shaft of light at her and RK900 attempts facial recognition and is somewhat surprised to find a file. Not a criminal record but a Cyberlife one.
Dr Celia Camling. Graduated Pankhurst Veterinary College in 1992 with a specialisation in behavioural studies and practised for ten years before being recruiting to Cyberlife to work on the development of animal androids. She worked there for the remainder of her career, continuing after the typical retirement age despite the fact she had never progressed beyond middle management, before being let go two years ago following a sharp mental decline, like the onset of some age-related illness left undiagnosed and untreated.
“Dr. Camling,” he calls out, intentionally speaking before Reed can. Humans might often be discomforted by his unemotional demeanour but, in this case, he feels that the doctor will be more responsive to what might be perceived as calm to that than Reed’s obviously barely checked fury.
“Oh, hello,” she says, sounding momentarily surprised, before standing and revealing the bag that had been placed beside her, the glint of a scalpel sticking out of the top. “Have you come to ask about my research?”
“Your research?” Reed is moving forward but RK900 is comforted by the sight of his still holstered gun. Reed’s record had indicated slightly more of a temper then was ideal for a police officer but that while the detective intermittently performs actions that might be considered in a grey area, he rarely engaged in actions which were definitely excessive use of force. Reed’s anger might cloud his vision, but it doesn’t blind him.
“Yes, tell me more about your research Dr. Camling,” RK900 interjects. Despite her actions towards the animals the woman doesn’t strike him as violent natured but -regardless of her shaking hands, the physical decline of age and an explanation for the sloppiness of the cuts on past victims- the scalpel is sharp and easily within her reach and it is clear that her judgement is unsound, if she were to become agitated she could pose a viable threat to Reed faster than RK900 could safely restrain her.
“I’m trying to find out how they work you see,” she explains, in the same pleasant conversational tone. She waves to the cat cage. “I’m conducting a comparative study to find out if my creations are alive now too. But this one is a naughty boy and won’t go to sleep.”
RK900 nods. It makes sense. After so many years working first with living animals and then at working to make cyber-animals as lifelike as possible it is perhaps logical that in her mentally disturbed state she has become fixated on the question of if the sentience of Cyberlife’s creations extends to the animals, an issue that will likely one day become the topic of hot debate although at present it takes a back seat to the continued conflict over how to handle the more pressing issue of androids.
Beside him he can hear Reed’s low hiss of fury. His anti-android prejudices may not be as forceful as many people perceive them but RK900 has no doubt that he could easily come to blame the existence of the cyber-pets for the harm to the living creatures despite the fact the robots had no control over Dr. Camling’s instability.
“This does not seem like an ideal location for such experimentation,” RK900 observes stepping forward. They are closing in faster than he would like, he doesn’t which to startle or alarm her, but he cannot hold back without losing his position as a barrier between Reed and the doctor.
“They won’t let me have the live ones back at that place,” she replies, something dark creeping into her tone. Dr. Camling is displeased with her residential situation - unsurprising.
“And so you had to continue your research in alternative locations,” RK900 concludes, as if she has been behaving logically and not clearly making opportunistic strikes wherever her daily movements allowed her to.
“Unfortunately. But you, you…” she says, squinting at him through the darkness. “That’s an L.E.D. You’re one of ours, aren’t you? Cyberlife’s?”
RK900 has not belonged to Cyberlife since the moment of his activation, hasn’t spent a single waking moment controlled by his creators but he suspects that Dr. Camling is not lucid enough to be fully cognisant of the implications of the uprising even though she is clearly aware that it has occurred.
He’s proved correct when she smiles suddenly and says, “Have you come to offer me a position? My old lab back? Oh, I knew they’d change their mind once they understood my work.”
She is unaware that Cyberlife ceased operations immediately following President Warren’s statement acknowledging the person-hood of androids, that its leadership has vanished, and its workers are distancing themselves for any part of the company’s operations that might be considered cruel to androids and would certainly not wish to be associated with research that harmed living animals, unfashionable even under truly scientific circumstances.
“Yes,” he agrees. Playing into her delusion has the highest probability of resulting in her allowing him close enough to make an arrest.
“I knew they’d regret forcing me out,” her tone is haughty as she continues. “They forced Kamski out too, more concerned with money than genius,” as if she and Elijah Kamski were even close to comparable. Likely she had never even seen the man in person, he wasn’t known for mixing with the worker drones even in the years before his conflicts with the executives grew irreparable.
“I understand that mistakes have been made,” RK900 says. Certainly, Cyberlife should have kept a closer eye on their ex-employee. Perhaps they would have if their fortunes had no dipped so dramatically, but he’s far from certain of it.
He’s close now, placing a hand on her shoulder but keep his grip soft as he says, “There is much to discuss,” and steers her until she is out of arms reach of her bag and the scalpel and other tools within, then shifts his grip to a more restraining one.
“Celia Camling, you are under arrest,” he states. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court. Do you understand?”
In response Dr. Camling gasps, shaking her head. “Liar,” she hisses. “They’re setting me up. The same as when they pushed me out. I just wanted to help.”
Her words are irrelevant. It is clear that she understands she has been arrested and since RK900 has no need to question her further the specifics of taking the confession of a woman so dangerously out of touch with reality can be left to more appropriate members of the force. It will give the community support officers something to occupy themselves with instead of attempting to incompetently investigate crime.
“Detective Reed?” he holds a hand out expectantly. Reed came better equipped for this then he had. RK900 has not yet been issued his own set of cuffs as that he’d been deemed unnecessary for a consultant, and Connor had cautioned him against sending the wrong impression by obtaining a pair independently.
“Here,” Reed’s tone is brittle as he hands the cuffs over and although RK900’s body is focused on restraining their killer his processors are entirely focused on Reed, still pale and scowling but there’s something in his eyes that’s more vulnerable than anger as he watches RK900 place the cuffs on Dr Camling.
Even without social relations programming he finds himself prompted to ease Reed’s agitation and there is a persistent notification reminding him that humans are often comforted by physical contact while his mission to commence a partnership with Reed would be advanced by the additional biometric data he could gather by taking the opportunity for such an interaction - an opportunity he had missed in the previous instance of contact between them, too focused on his immediate goal of ensure Reed was more serious about road safety distracting him from the overall mission.
But Reed has turned away, ignoring RK900 restraining Dr. Camling in favour of approaching the cat carrier, ducking down and carefully angling his flashlight to illuminate the caged animal without shining it directly inward.
RK900 considers for a moment the visible comfort Reed had drawn from embracing his cat when examining the files for this case and shifts his attention back to Dr. Camling.
The animal is likely better equipped to comfort Reed anyway.
He lets RK900 make the arrest. Why the fuck not? It’s the android’s stupid case, the android’s calm that let him approach the killer to restrain her, if Gavin got close with all the anger boiling inside of him right now there’s no way it would end in anything that wouldn’t result in his medical leave becoming a suspension.
Killing animals just to try and work out what the difference between them and androids was. As if that would even work. As if that really mattered as much as lives.
Gavin stares at her. He’d hoped for some sort of triumph when he closed the case, but this woman is just pathetic, doddering and too out of her mind to even process her own actions. But still the anger rages on. Why did nobody stop her, why did nobody look into these killings before RK900 pieced them together, why were people so determinedly insistent on playing nice while not actually giving a fuck about suffering going on right under their noses?
The cat scratches at him and Gavin thinks grimly that it has the right idea. Mistrust of humans, even humans bearing food, is probably one of the key reasons the thing is still alive right now.
His dark musing is interrupted by RK900, done with restraining the suspect and apparently not concerned with providing close supervision. Well, look at her? She’s hardly going to run, is she?
“I have called the case in and a patrol car is coming to bring Dr Camling into custody,” the android says. “Although the cat is technically evidence, I do not believe the DPD currently has the facilities to safely store it—” A spark of amusement flickers through Gavin at that, the idea that the android had given serious consideration to how to neatly file the cat away into an evidence locker before seeing the futility. “—I have not yet relayed a message to animal control, however I estimate that it will take them upwards of an hour to respond as this is a non-emergency situation. Would you be willing to keep it in your supervision until the appropriate authorities can take custody?”
In custody. As if they’d also arrested the goddamn cat. It would be funny if not for the threat of animal control and Gavin bites his lip. A cat like this, injured and angry with a scarred-up face and standoffish attitude - nobody is going to want him. If Gavin takes him to a shelter or hands him over to animal control he’ll almost certainly get put down.
But what else can he do? Nobody at the precinct would take on a cat, he wouldn’t trust his sister’s kids to look after a cactus let alone a surprise ‘gift’ of a pet, and it’s not like he has much in the way of a social circle outside of his work and, unfortunately, his family. He can’t take it home himself, Duchess might be sweet with him but she’s also territorial as hell and would struggle to share her space with an obedient kitten, let alone a messed-up cat that has clearly been without an owner for a while and who would almost certainly want to fight.
“I can’t take it,” Gavin says. “I want to, fuck knows handing it over to animal control is the worst idea, but I already have a cat and well…” he nods down at the hissing animal in his arms. He’s sure that Cyberlife saw information about animals as superfluous to whatever shady thing they intended RK900 for, but the android is a quick study and he must realise that, while it’s a survivor, the scrappy animal isn’t ever going to be one to slot peacefully into a domestic situation.
There’s a long moment in which RK900 stares, that strange unfocused gaze that could be looking at the cat or at Gavin or straight through them both with heretofore to unmentioned x-ray vision for all Gavin knows.
“Yes, perhaps their introduction should be postponed until after a period of socialisation and adjustment,” RK900 pronounces slowly.
Gavin sighs. It would be a comforting suggestion if it weren’t so unrealistic. “Yeah, if the poor bastard wasn’t bound to get put down by shelter vets as unfit for human company the moment they lay eyes on him.”
“I believe you are underestimating the adaptability of living things,” RK900 states. “And it does not appear to have been harmed by Dr Camling. Provided there are no signs of illness there is no need for a veterinarian to have input on this animal’s status until after it has had chance to acclimatise to improved circumstances.”
“I can’t take care of it,” Gavin reminds the android, surprised at how that point had seemed to fly right past him when most of the time RK900 seems to barely think Gavin capable of taking care of himself, let alone another living thing. Not that Gavin is shocked by that, sometimes he’s pretty sure that reason Duchess hunts so much is that even though Gavin has never let her miss a meal, even going so far as to buy one of those fancy electric automated feeders to ensure she got regular meals on the occasions a major case or break-through kept him stuck at work, she still didn’t trust him to take care of her.
“While I do not have a great deal of experience with animals,” RK900 says, “I believe I can research the relevant information in order to provide for its basic needs and—” it pauses, and it’s always strange to heard it do that when surely an androids super-fast brain has no need to mull over words, but Gavin doesn’t interrupt and he’s glad of it when the android finishes, “—I hope that you will be willing to assist me.”
For a moment none of the words make sense. Oh, Gavin understands them individually, but the way they’ve been put together - nonsensical! And yet… RK900 has been too precise with his words for there to be any ambiguity.
“You want to keep it?” Gavin asks, incredulous. Is the android seriously suggesting it’s willing to deal with its missions being disrupted by the needs of something difficult and demanding and alive, wants to have to learn to live with picking cat hair off his pristine jacket, wants to face the misdirected anger that has developed from too much hard living that whatever RK900 offers now can never change?
“Yes,” RK900 says, and then, startlingly. “I want to.”
Want. Such a very crucial part of life, the absence of which had been the proof that androids were just things for years before deviancy had swept through them, and not so long ago Gavin had doubted androids were capable of it at all and he’s pretty sure he’s never heard RK900 express want before, at least not personal want rather than ‘wanting’ whatever he needed to do his job, but Gavin realises with a jolt that he doesn’t doubt his sincerity. And when had Gavin started thinking of RK as a he?
“You… I…” fuck, he’s floundering and out of his comfort zone again, but Gavin knows how to prioritise and the animal in his arms is an angry mess but RK900 wants it and that’s what is important right now. “Alright, here,” he says, and it’s too abrupt but the android has fast reactions, their arms brushing as Gavin thrusts the cat forward and transfers it into RK900’s hold, his grip a perfect mirror of Gavin’s own.
For a moment the cat bristles and Gavin watches carefully, worried that RK900 will tighten his grip too much or that it’ll lash out and RK900 will freak and drop it, but after a moment the cat settles, almost freakishly calm.
“What the fuck? Are you like the cat whisperer now or something?” he blurts out.
“I did not whisper,” RK900 states. “I have adjusted my thirium pump to resonate with—”
“Okay!” Gavin cuts him off, because there are levels of weird android shit he can tolerate if they’re useful but right now he doesn’t want to know. “You sure you can handle it and closing the case?” he redirects, more frustrated now than ever that he hasn’t been working this in an official capacity and so can’t take on any of the paperwork and wrapping up tasks that RK900 will need to complete before he can take the cat home.
“Fortunately, my ability to interface without touch means that I am able to submit my reports without physically writing them,” RK900 says. “Several of the beat officers who investigated the initial disturbances have shown sufficient competence that I will permit them to conclude the other aspects the case.”
The huff of laughter that escapes Gavin takes him by surprise, but grudging tone with which RK900 concedes that he’ll permit beat cops to do his grunt work is just too good. No wonder he hasn’t got a fan club like Connor has with an attitude like that - not that Gavin disagrees with his sentiments, but beat cops outnumber senior officers and it’s best not to piss them off too bad without the authority to keep them in line, something RK900 definitely doesn’t have yet and Gavin is still working on.
“Alright,” he says, “Take the cat, close the case,” and somehow none of it feels like a concession, this isn’t RK900 stealing the credit from him like with the Edgeworth case, Gavin has what he wanted —the perp has been caught and a few less animals will come to harm— and getting credit for this wouldn’t help him anyway, an animal abuse case isn’t high profile enough to further his career in homicide and Tina would bitch him out for working on leave. Let the android have this one. “Check in tomorrow?” he suggests. He doesn’t think RK900 would fuck that cat up or anything, but he’s not entirely convinced that a downloaded info packet and some weird cat soothing pump modifications are gonna cut it, not if they want to get the cat socialised enough to introduce to Duchess anyway.
“Very well,” RK900 says. “Your participation on this case has been appreciated.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Gavin rolls his eyes. “Just don’t think I’m gonna participate in the paperwork.”
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It’s fortunate, the New Jericho organisation have put great effort into establishing android housing and making it readily available to those who request it and so it’s barely the early hours of the morning when an AP700 shows RK900 into the apartment in one of the android only complexes that have sprung up in the once abandoned buildings on the fringes of the city’s industrial zones.
Of course, while it’s sufficiently equipped for androids, excessive frankly when RK900 has always been content to spend his charge time in the precinct docking stations, a quick search reveals that cats require considerably more for comfort.
For now, a confined area in which the creature will be free from risk of abduction or harm is adequate, but it will need nutrition and if it is to remain indoors until RK900 is certain that it will return if trusted to depart then it shall require suitable occupation. Reed’s feline hunts vermin, however that requires it to have greater freedom of travel, so the cat in RK900’s custody will have to be instead supplied with what it requires to maintain and upgrade those skills without being able to act on them.
Researching further things the animal may require indicated that while felines are capable of resting in a variety of environments they prefer soft and warm surfaces and while the android exclusive housing is heated above the external temperature of the building it is designed for minimal stress on bio-components which generate more heat than living creatures and so while safe for the animal it would likely be sub-optimal. Additionally, the rooms RK900 has been provided are unfurnished except for Thirium storage, cleaning facilities, and a charging station - none of which can be described as soft. This is clearly insufficient, since the feline had effectively reduced Reed’s distress after their encounter with Camling and so RK900 intends to ensure that it is rewarded appropriately and is at no further risk of inadequate care.
For the first time, RK900 sees a use for the consultancy fees he has been getting paid in accordance with policy.
He begins to put together an order then pauses and adjust it to a ‘wish list’ or rather a shortlist of products he believes are appropriate but will hold off on purchasing until he has the benefit of Reed’s more experienced opinion when he visits in the morning.
Visiting New Jericho had also been an opportunity to receive file transfers from several other androids with different types of social programming, from domestic models designed to recognise and respond to the relationships between their owners to Traci models who were programmed strictly for physical relationships with no emotional element. Connor may not approve but RK900 does not feel corrupted, after all he has only added a database of android specific reference materials and a simple analytics programme to process all the new body language he has learned, and if humans can learn by sharing their experiences with their peers as a matter of course without anybody treating it as false then he sees no reason data sharing between androids should be unacceptable.
Thus far he has mostly used the code to analyse his memories of others, identifying the signs of intimacy that had led Reed to conclude the relationship between Connor and Lieutenant Anderson went beyond the professional and then using the same frameworks to examine interactions between others, trying to draw conclusions about the nature of their relationships.
Truly, it’s astounding that humans get any work done at all without the amount of time they spend signalling attraction to one another.
While the analysis is interesting, the code that was supposed to increase his understanding of himself and provide him with a basis to experience attraction without its deviant nature leading it to cause errors in his base coding seems to have done very little.
But upon Reed’s arrival the next morning, it becomes clear that his concerns about wasting memory space on junk files was unfounded.
The slew of new data is unprecedented, even when first analysing a new situation RK900 had experienced nothing like this and he’d encountered several humans while establishing himself in his new residence without the software instigating this reaction.
RK900 has never understood aesthetic appreciation, had not been programmed to give any consideration to appearances beyond taking in useful data, but now he finds himself struck by a fresh burst of analysis, his new programming responding forcefully to data that had been irrelevant before. Reed’s face, asymmetrical in structure in way the defies to classical human aesthetic ideals but decorated with scars that add a uniqueness beyond that which humans typically achieve without cosmetic modifications, the rest of his form is equally superior to most humans, unsurprising as Reed’s work depends a high level of physical to perform effectively and unlike many of his co-workers Reed has retained the ambition to perform his job well that motivates him to maintain that physique even after years on the force.
RK900 is still trying to master the distinction between personal wants, needs, and the demands of his mission but even with that uncertainty it is undeniable that Reed inspires an urge within him, had done even before he’d patched his social coding, although now those urges seem to have grown more specific.
A police partnership, he’s certain that he is going to continue pursuing that goal, but it is becoming clear now that there are things he had presumed were part of that want which are actually indicative of something more, for which he remains decidedly ill-equipped with his lack of understanding of basic human social graces never-mind how to convince Reed to accept his interest.
“This is your place?” Reed interrupts his calculations, taking in the bare room with clear disdain but RK900 is surprised when, rather than a critical remark, he settles on concluding, “Well, it’s certainly fuckin’ clean.”
“I have not spent much time here,” RK900 admits, and if his phrasing leads Reed to believe that he has occupied the residence for some time but been busy elsewhere rather than revealing the newness of the acquisition, well, humans are prone to misunderstanding anyway, it cannot always be his responsibility to prevent that.
Reed breezes past him to where the feline has settled into a corner, ducking down to examine it closely but making no move to disturb its rest. He is considerate.
“Well I guess even the floor is better is better than wherever it’s been sleeping before this,” Reed observes, and although the phrase could be used passive aggressively his tone is mostly solemn and RK900 decides he is motivated more by concern for the animal’s history than a particular urge to judge the provisions RK900 has made for its welfare on such short notice.
“I have been shortlisting appropriate purchases in order to properly accommodate a feline,” he assures Reed. “Your input on the matter would be welcome.”
“Eh, I can take a look,” Reed says, then becomes distracted as the cat awakes and permits him to pet it.
RK900 transmits the list to Reed’s phone and the detective shifts so that he can continue stroking the cat with one hand and using the device with the other with experienced ease.
“Pro-tip,” he says, after several moments of scrolling, “All this is good for a cat but if you’re gonna be bringing people back to your place might wanna get some place to sit down that’s not the floor. A couch, or even a fucking table or a futon or something.”
RK900 begins to point out that he is not in the habit of entertaining visitors since all the company he keeps is based out of the DPD station where he works and which is adequately equipped for both humans and androids when his new social updates provide him with the information that to bring a person back to one’s place often connotes intimate intentions.
It is certainly true that surfaces would allow for a greater variety of activities, humans are fascinatingly inventive in the ways they interact, from passive sustained physical contact while performing activities such as consuming media to those which require continuous proactive engagement and, although there are a range of interactions that can be performed standing and RK900 is more than capable of supporting the entire weight of a partner should the occasion call for it, RK900 finds that he wishes to explore the range of human interactions, many of which would require furnishings since humans were more comfortable and therefore more open to intimacy when not standing. It’s true that the phrase can be used in a variety of other contexts, but he cannot dismiss the consideration of that meaning, especially when coupled with the fact that Reed suggesting that RK900 might arrange his residence to accommodate human visitors indicates that Reed foresees him having human visitors in the future; and since the only humans in RK900’s close acquaintance are Reed and Lieutenant Anderson and Reed would be unlikely to consider the Lieutenant’s comfort worthy of comment, it is an indirect implication that Reed will be willing to return. Whatever his intentions, this is a stance that ought to be encouraged.
Hastily, RK900 begins assembling another shopping list, although given that this is supposed to be his place of residence it would be perhaps inappropriate to also pass that over to Reed for the detective’s approval.
“Hey, you named him yet?” Reed says, scratching as the cat’s neck.
RK900 has not considered that. The animal will certainly require a designation and, remembering the importance Reed had placed on names he does not think that ‘the feline in RK900’s possession’ will suffice.
“As you observed, I continue to go by my Cyberlife designation despite the convention being for deviant androids to adopt human styled names,” he explains. “I am uncertain how to select an appropriate moniker for a feline.”
There is a long pause and then Reed shakes his head, expression peculiar and unmatchable to anything available in RK900’s database. “Fuck it,” he mutters and then, clearer, “You’re fine as you are.”
“If you want to be called RK900 you should fuckin’ stick with it. God knows there are people with stupider names out there, I went to school with a guy called Ched.”
“That is… unfortunate?” RK900 offers. He is unsure what is objectionable about the name Ched but while he does not require Reed’s approval of his name it pleases him that the detective is choosing to support the decision despite his initial doubts.
“I know right,” Gavin smirks. “Ched. At least RK900 means everybody you introduce yourself to won’t instantly think douche.”
Reed’s amusement was not his goal, but RK900 feels a sensation not dissimilar to the completion of a mission at having achieved it nonetheless. “However, this does not resolve the issue of naming the feline.”
Gavin rolls his eyes. “It’s your cat now asshole, you can call it whatever the fuck you want. Except Ched. Don’t call it Ched or I swear to fuck I’ll—”
“I am confident that I can devise a more appropriate designation than ‘Ched’,” RK900 assures him; and then a reminder regarding a mission that has spent days side-lined in favour of more pressing concerns prompts RK900 to ask, “Reed, what is the name of your cat?”
Reed eyes him, expression shifting to suspicion despite the fact all of RK900’s newly updated social programming suggests that pets are an acceptable topic of conversation between humans at any level of social connection.
“Duchess,” Reed says finally, defiance in his gaze and a hint of a flush to his cheeks.
Duchess: the wife or widow of a duke or a woman who holds the rank of duke in her own right. The highest rank of peerage available to a female.
A cat cannot be married and therefore Reed clearly selected the name as an indication of the cat’s independent high status or as a historical homage to the eras when cats were treated as creatures of royalty and gods.
“Apt,” RK900 says. “If I am unable to select a name for my own cat perhaps you could advise.”
The upward curve of Reed’s lips as he nods defies analysis.
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Gavin tells RK900 he’s coming over to check up on the cat. After all, it’s not like he can admit that, beyond not wanting to be alone in his apartment, the android makes for better company than any human he knows.
It’s certainly not that he’s happier sitting on RK900’s floor than on his own shitty couch, being ignored by the only cat he’s met that’s bitchier than his own — it had come twisting itself around Gavin’s ankles when he first arrived but stalked back to RK900 when it became clear that Gavin couldn’t do whatever weird as resonance thing that had made it calm so fast for the android.
But he’s sitting and they’re talking, not even about casework but about androids in sports and Gavin has found himself fighting an unexpected corner because he’s always been a firm believer that putting androids in ruins the spirit of things but RK900 doesn’t see the point in sports full stop and honestly he’s making such compelling arguments that Gavin is finding himself digging in with lame arguments like, ‘because that’s what people do’ and ‘it’s traditional’, when the android compete abandons his shredding of baseball (and Gavin knows it’s dull but it’s an American institution okay, sitting through boring games is as much of a cultural institution as overcooked turkey dinner and screaming match holidays) to divulge, “I considered what you said and have updated my personnel record.”
Gavin blinks, trying to think of when he might have told the android to do anything that would require him to do that.
“I am satisfied with my current form of general address,” RK900 continues, “But you are correct that an additional name proves useful in certain official situations, such a registering possession of an animal.”
He’s registering the cat. Sure he’d agreed to take it home and he’d said he was buying pet supplies but all of those things are easy to take back, but this is a commitment and Gavin feels a weird clench in his chest, like maybe he needs to cut down on the truck food visits even though he’d thought his gym habits balanced it out.
But he still can’t drag himself away from the thought that RK900 had listened to his suggestion. “So you’ve updated your name?”
Instead of answering, RK900 reaches into his jacket and pulls out a slim dark leather wallet, handing it over.
It’s the standard identity card of a DPD Consultant, and Gavin is satisfied to see that RK900 looks as awkward and uncomfortable in the photograph as every officer does on their badge, it seems that even being designed as the perfect specimen of manhood isn’t enough to thwart the DPD photographers’ knack for making everyone look terrible. It’s like they’d photographed so many corpses they’ve forgotten that people aren’t supposed to look pasty, bloated, and dead-eyed.
His gaze catches for a moment on the date of birth, scant months previously, a few weeks after the uprising, they must have decided to go with RK900’s activation date rather than picking a date that corresponded to his apparent physical age which he guesses makes sense but it’s still weird to see it written as birth and implying that he’s had an infant working as his unofficial partner for the past few days.
Then he takes in the reason RK900 had showed him the card.
The updated field reading, Name: Only, RK900
Gavin looked up at the android.
Seriously? Was he…? No, RK might not get a lot of stuff about humanity but he wasn't stupid. He was watching Gavin’s reaction, cool and calm, face a perfect picture of indifference.
The android is fucking with him.
“Special Consultant Only?” Gavin doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction of a laugh, not for such a dumb joke, but he does let his voice thicken with the layers of meaning —only a special consultant, an insult that the android had left himself wide open to, but also the fact the he either apparently trusts that Gavin won’t take the opening or that he doesn’t care if Gavin does; mixed in with the fuck-you attitude of responding to pressure to take a second name by taking one that made it so blatantly clear what he thought of that suggestion. He is RK900 only and to hell with human conventions. Okay, no, apparently Gavin is going to laugh. It bubbles out of him uncontrollably. “Really?!”
RK900 looks pleased rather than insulted and Gavin finds himself oddly satisfied that the android has taken his amusement in the good humour it was meant rather than making like everyone else and always assuming the worst of Gavin.
At least the android is in on the joke, unlike a few of Gavin’s more dickish academy peers who’d taken to calling Gavin “Can’t” after a first week mishap in which he’d misread the directions on an assignment and made an ass of himself — and he doesn’t even want to think about the habit of certain classmates to pronounce the A a lot more like a U then smirk and play innocent of crossing the line from ribbing to outright insults when Gavin had threatened to go to the instructors about that shit. If RK900 can get ahead of the game then good for him.
“It is appropriate for official documentation while also rejecting the redundancy of adopting a family name to which I have no personal connection.”
Brain of a supercomputer and he still looks ridiculously smug over a little wordplay, and, urgh, if that’s not exactly the exact brand of assholery that Gavin has always connected to. “Well, if you can come up with a name like that then you don’t fuckin’ need me to help name your cat, asshole,” he remarks. If RK900 is thinking about registering ownership then surely that means he’s working on the name thing.
The android’s L.E.D flickers yellow.
“I am considering,” he admits. “Coming to a decision may take some time given how numerous the available choices are.”
“You don’t have to give equal consideration to every possible option,” Gavin points out. “You could even make some shit up like those blogger moms who call their kids KVIIIlyn or Equinu or whatever. Or just call it fucking Cat.” Gavin’s first cat had been ‘hey you’ for the whole time he’d had it, he’d never thought about naming the thing that had shown up yowling at his door early one morning and by the time he’d realised the cat was there to stay the habit had already stuck.
“K… I believe even deviancy is insufficient to equip me with that level of… imagination,” RK900 muses.
“Probably for the best,” Gavin admits. “People would probably think you were glitching.”
RK900 nods, it looks all sage and shit but Gavin is pretty sure from the yellow L.E.D that the android is still processing the stupidity of the blogger-mom names. Fuck knows it had taken him some time to wrap his head around the sheer absurdity of KVIIIlyn.
“While I have the honour of your presence,” RK900 says after a momentary pause, and Gavin kindly only snorts a little and wonders if it would be better or worse if he could talk the android into downloading urban dictionary so he stops talking like an old book. “I wish to ask you something.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not like you need permission now is it, dumb-ass,” he points out. “I’ve heard Connor lecturing the freaking station androids on not having to obey orders even though it’s their paid fuckin’ job now too much to buy that you’re wandering around needing permission to ask shit.”
“I apologise, it was my understanding that seeking permission first is considered polite.”
“Who’s got time for that?” Gavin rolls his eyes. He needs to get RK900 away from Connor’s influence before the prissy stick in the mud infects him with any more of its stupid ideas. “Out with it, tin-man.”
“Unfortunately, I am scheduled to work tonight,” the android says, “But I was wondering if you would be willing to join me tomorrow to celebrate our successfully solving the case.”
Celebrate solving a case? God, Gavin hasn’t done that in years. He knows that others at the precinct do, but he doesn’t tend to be invited —not that he’d want to anyway— and nobody has ever shown the slightest interest in celebrating his successes.
“I do not wish to press you into doing something you would find unpleasant,” the android continues. “I am aware that the case already constitutes a large number of hours spent on work related activities during what has been allocated to you as personal recovery time.
“No,” Gavin says. He can’t be fucked with unofficially-mandatory work socials eating into his off hours, but celebrating with RK900… well, Gavin hasn’t been out much lately for anything other than work and errands, it could be fun. “Yeah, let’s do it. I’m cleared to be back to work next week too, so that’s double reason to celebrate.”
“Already?” RK900 seems surprised.
“On restricted duties only,” Gavin admits and then smirks and corrects, “On restricted duty, Only,” and damn he’s gonna have some fun with the android’s new name. He hopes RK900 realises that he’s never getting away from the puns now. Fuck, a night of celebration? One where Gavin might even drink because he’s pretty sure that unlike the rest of his shitty co-workers the android wouldn’t even think to use his lowered guard against him.
Damn, suddenly Gavin is looking forward to this.
For the first time in RK900’s short activation period, a socially based mission is progressing as intended.
It is unfortunate that since setting the objective RK900 has come to consider that his own wants may be more complex than he had realised.
With no biology and therefore no biological drive to reproduce he had always dismissed notions of sex and attraction as human phenomena and that androids who chose to engage in such activities was indicative of too much time spent around humans or too much irrational focus on humanity as the ideal template for being ‘alive’.
Pleasure, he had not considered.
He is considering it now.
Or rather, he is, until he interrupted by Connor.
“It’s our lunch break,” the older android reminds him. “I know that you are uncomfortable joining humans for food when we can’t eat but you should cease working for the period.”
RK900 is aware. Proper usage of breaks covered two whole pages in the union guidelines he downloaded upon commencing his membership. While delaying a break may be necessary in the face of particularly pressing cases, he has resolved to demonstrate his commitment to human-android workplace co-operation by adhering to the mandated pauses in work despite the frustration he feels at putting objective on hold. Although this frustration has been reduced by 67% upon undertaking an alternative but non-work-related task. “I am not working,” he explains, and then, frustrated, “and I am not uncomfortable around humans when they consume nutrients,” he simply finds it tiresome to be around certain members of the DPD when they did, some because they insisted on repeating uninventive remarks about his own inability to eat and some because their habits were disgusting.
“I… not working?”
No. He is not. Which is something Connor asks of him on a regular basis and so it is tiresome of him to now appear confused when RK900 has complied with that directive, even if the decision was not for Connor’s sake. “I am watching footage of Detective Reed’s prior arrests.”
Connor frowns. “You have already reviewed his records. There should be no reason for a second examination unless there has been an error with your memory.”
“You once recommended that I find an activity I ‘enjoy’ and perform it on a regular basis,” RK900 reminded him. “There is a certain… satisfaction in watching the Detective’s competence.”
“The DPD has a wide range of archive footage you could examine, although even irrelevant work-related activities are not typical sources of recreation,” Connor explains although RK900 is not sure why Connor thinks he could be ignorant of such a simple fact about their workplace. “There is no need for you to resort to previously processed data.”
RK900 shook his head. “I considered that after I concluded my second review of Detective Reed’s arrests. However, the effect was not comparable. While informative, I had none of the emotional response that it has been suggested is a requirement for a leisure activity.”
RK900 suspects that Connor is already compiling another list of pointless and time-wasting human activities to recommend that he attempt in the hours not designated for active police-work as he says, “I am concerned by your recent attempt to investigate a case you weren't assigned to.” Connor leans against RK900’s desk, his weight causing it to tilt by a fraction of a degree — unnoticeable to a human but extremely disruptive to RK900’s attempts to keep the number of processes focused on Connor to a minimum. “Did Reed make you? I warned you he is inappropriate company.”
Puzzling that Connor thinks Reed could have the capacity to make him do something, does Connor not comprehend just how superior RK900’s combat capabilities are to his own?
Furthermore, Connor seems to have overlooked the fact that being an older model does not give him authority over RK900, the advantages he has in experience are counterbalanced by RK900’s superior systems and within the DPD their rank is equal.
“Captain Fowler has approved me working with Reed,” he informs Connor. True, the approval was referring to a potential partnership after Reed was back on duty but there was only a 5.7% chance that Connor would challenge or question his actions if the captain was invoked. “And I am aware that you do not deem me capable of handling any case involving human interaction without you or Lieutenant Anderson present to provide correction when my methods deviate from those you would have selected,” he says, letting his voice modulator indicate his irritability in the hopes that Connor will take his complaints more seriously if he also emotes in the human fashion Connor admires so much. “The fact remains, I accurately identified a pattern linking numerous open cases and Detective Reed and I successfully created a suspect profile and effectively apprehended the suspect.”
Connor’s L.E.D flashes a steady yellow as he says, “That is fortunate. However, I still think that you took an unnecessary risk. You still have very little experience in dealing with humans and Detective Reed is not an appropriate individual to—”
“We received a commendation from a member of the public for our actions in the course of the case,” RK900 cuts in. In fact, it had been a rambling voice-mail from an elderly man to the DPD’s tip line talking about those nice young men sent to the retirement home and how much safer he felt knowing the DPD was so involved in the community, but it is the first positive sentiment a civilian has expressed toward RK900 and he is going leverage it as thoroughly as he can. “Our methods may not have been the ones you would have selected, but, although we are of the same series and I was developed from your template, I am not you.”
“No,” he says slowly. “I am aware.”
“And yet,” RK900 has already made his point clear and yet his software insistently demands that he reinforce it, “You do not respect it. I am an upgrade, although I was specialised with different objectives in mind, however you continue to behave as if the decision to prioritise strategy over social engagement makes my model inferior.”
“I... am sorry…” Connor’s tone is uncertain and for a moment his L.E.D flashes red. Good. RK900 does not wish to impede his predecessors functioning but, however well-meant his intentions, Connor ought to be aware of the hypocrisy of following his constant encouragement for RK900 to embrace the choices deviancy from his programming has made available with condemnation of every choice RK900 makes which deviates from Connor’s own.
There is a long pause, RK900 focuses on the display in front of him even though he could upload the files to his memory banks without needing to process them via his optical units. His HUD supplies no more prompts of things to say to Connor.
But the satisfaction found in looking at Reed’s files and footage of his work is somehow dimmed by Connor’s presence. RK900 had been re-constructing ways in which he could have assisted Reed in that work and, in the footage where Reed executes his arrests so well that there is no room for assistance, strategizing how his approach to cases would shift when accompanied by such an efficient partner — but with Connor there he is conscious of how indulgent this activity is, that it does not even fulfil the objective of finding a recreational activity so that Connor will stop suggesting pastimes to him because the older android believes contemplating Detective Reed is not just a frivolous use of time but an inappropriate one and while RK900 does not require Connor’s permission or approval it is… disconcerting to act in ways the one who has taken the role of his mentor believes are wrong. Is this what deviancy would have felt like, if RK900 had been awoken still within the confines of his initial programming?
“RK900,” Connor’s tone is serious now, though his L.E.D has returned to a strained yellow. “I... You are correct. I may have been overly conscious of the fact that you do not possess the same social programming as I came pre-loaded with and have been treating this as a deficiency to be rectified rather than a difference to be respected,” Connor says, careful but growing confidence. RK900 wonders how many scenarios he ran to choose these words. “That was wrong of me. In the future I will endeavour to be more supportive of your choices.”
Potentially useful, but he is disinterested in Connor’s declaration:, if the prototype truly regrets his actions he will refrain from repeating them in the future but his declaration of intent is useless to RK900 except as a continuing nuisance which is reducing the number of processors he can focus on planning how he and Reed can celebrate their arrest, Reed’s recovery, and hopefully his own success in securing Reed as a partner.
“I simply wished to provide you the benefits of my own experiences,” Connor continues. “So that you could avoid the missteps I made in my initial dealings with humans. I had not intended to give the impression that I thought you unequipped to make your own judgements.”
The benefit of his experience as an older model, despite the fact that experience is a matter of weeks - a fraction of the time that they have both been active now. And yet RK900 is reminded of the comparison Reed drew, of Connor as a sibling, and the way this misguided behaviour fits the ideal of that role (as least as far as RK900 can ascertain from his media sources) so accurately. Connor’s intentions are good, however his willingness to actualise those intentions may need to be tested.
“If you wish to provide assistance,” RK900 says, “There is a particular matter regarding which your support would be appreciated.” If Connor is capable of offering support rather than just dismissing the whole matter because it is not something he agrees with.
Connor smiles, L.E.D finally returning to its regular hue. “Of course! What do you need?”
“I wish to pursue a closer relationship with Detective Reed.”
Connor’s L.E.D flashes red before resetting to the smooth blue. RK900 is 98.9% sure that this is the result of Connor deliberately overriding it.
“I am aware that you wish to work with him,” Connor says. “But, as he has shown willingness and Captain Fowler has approved, I am not sure how I could assist your partnership. Detective Reed and I—”
“You misunderstand, I have recently developed an interest in personal and physical intimacy,” RK900 elaborates, deciding there is no need to specify that Reed was the instigator of this interest. “I am in the process of establishing a successful professional partnership with Reed, however I am unsure how to progress that to one of a more personal one.”
“A personal relationship?” Connor’s LED flickers yellow and then he holds out a hand in a silent request to interface. When RK900 first ‘woke up’ they often interfaced in such a way to allow Connor to provide him with examples of emotional data that couldn’t be easily conveyed through other means. It is strange to think of Connor as the uncomprehending one but RK900 presses his fingertips to Connor’s, sending over a sample of the data he’s gathered on Detective Reed and his own responses, the preliminary analyses and preconstructions that lead to setting this objective.
When he cuts the connection, Connor’s LED flickers red momentarily before settling back on a persistent, perturbed yellow.
RK900 watches him curiously. Connor is less advanced than he was but should have had no difficulty processing the small data packet.
“I… see…” Connor looks perturbed. “I had not realised that you… but how do you think I could be of assistance? As I was saying, Detective Reed and I have a strained professional relationship, it seems you have already had far more success with him than I could.”
“My resources on the subject are limited to human media,” RK900 explains, “And even the media itself frequently makes clear that media portrayals of such relationships are inaccurate. However, your experiences with Lieutenant Anderson—”
“There is no need for secrecy.” In truth, RK900 does have some concerns about the blurring of personal and professional boundaries but they would be hypocritical to voice. Plus, he only became aware of the connection after Reed drew his attention to it despite working closely with the pair, so, clearly, they have by and large conducted themselves in an appropriate manner. “Your relationship with Lieutenant Anderson is a romantic one,” and possibly sexual but although there are no humans close enough to overhear their conversation RK900 deems that level of detail unnecessary in the workplace. “I believe you experiences in navigating a human/android relationship—”
Connor’s L.E.D flashes several times, cycling yellow as he interjects, “Lieutenant Anderson and I are not in a romantic relationship.”
RK900 processes. It is an improbable answer, now he has greater social data and a personal framework for attraction he can see why Reed was so certain of his conclusions regarding Connor’s relationship with the Lieutenant, and yet there is no indication that Connor is being deceitful.
He weighs up the probabilities.
Reed was incorrect in his assessment: 23%
Connor has unreciprocated feelings for Lieutenant Anderson: 17%
Lieutenant Anderson has unreciprocated feelings for Connor: 13%
Connor and Lieutenant Anderson have yet to act on their mutual feelings: 51%
“I understand, you will not be able to advise me,” RK900 acknowledges. “If you wish, once I devise an effective strategy for initiating an intimate relationship with Detective Reed, I will share this information with you to assist you in achieving the same status with the Lieutenant.”
“I do not believe methods which persuade Detective Reed would be appropriate for my interactions with the Lieutenant,” Connor retorts. But he does not suggest that appropriate methods are unwanted.
Connor and Lieutenant Anderson have yet to act on their mutual feelings: ^87%
“You have no more experience in that area than I,” RK900 argues. “On what basis can you judge the effectiveness of my methods?” Not that he has any methods, but he’s sure, once he has completed his research, the strategy he devises will be effective.
“And you were not designed for romantic or sexual interaction,” Connor points out, then clearly grimaces as he realises how fast he’s lapsed from his declaration that he will stop acting as if RK900 is limited by his different programming. “I mean… I’m sure your research on sexual activity has been informative but—”
“Are you trying to get Connor to give you a birds and the bees talk?”
Detected: amusement, incredulity.
Connor startles. Had he truly been so focused on their conversation that he had failed to notice the Lieutenant’s approach? RK900 makes a note to remind him to perform a systems check at the next appropriate opportunity.
“I am aware of the facts,” RK900 explains. “But extrapolating from that information and applying it to my particular context has proved… unhelpful.”
Lieutenant Anderson raises both eyebrows, placing his coffee beside Connor on RK900’s desk. “And what particular circumstances are those?”
“RK900 wishes to pursue intimacy with Detective Reed.”
Tattling. Such a uniquely human concept, or at least RK900 had always classified it thusly, but now Connor has provided an example to the contrary he will have to re-categorise it. Truly, the capabilities of deviant androids are expanding exponentially.
Lieutenant Anderson blinks and then picks his coffee back up.
“Connor’s information is factual,” RK900 offers. He had not intended the information to spread beyond the two of them, but he had factored Connor’s tendency to share information with the Lieutenant even when there was nothing to be gained from doing so into his calculations and deemed it an acceptable risk. He hadn't anticipated the Lieutenant disbelieving Connor though. Connor was not habitually deceitful, except when the job demanded it, and for the Lieutenant to think Connor was misleading him on this was irrational. Still, humans were regularly unaware of their irrationality and often though inconsistently frowned upon deception, so it was best to rectify the situation. “Over the past week I have spent an average of ten hours per day in Detective Reed's company to prepare for a professional partnership and have found him stimulating, intellectually and—”
“Nope,” Lieutenant Anderson repeats. “No. We are not having this conversation. I am going to forget this immediately.”
“Humans lack the capacity to selectively delete memories,” Connor interrupts. “Attempting to do so—”
“Nope.” Lieutenant Anderson is backing away from the desk. “Not my problem. Jesus christ…”
“Hank!” Connor sounds positively frantic, which RK900 deems the most likely reason the Lieutenant’s retreat falters. “I have already offered RK900 my assistance, however his objective it outside of my area of expertise. So, I am asking you to assist me.”
“What and I’m such an expert on dating? Or Reed? Or…” Lieutenant Anderson shudders. “No, not even thinking it.”
The DPD does not keep detailed records of its employees personal life and Lieutenant Anderson’s use of social media is very limited but the records RK900 can find indicate that he was married for ten years and it is statistically likely that a man of his background has been involved in between three and seven romantic relationships and had several additional sexual partners - making him considerably more experienced that RK900 and Connor, even combined. However, the fact that he has failed to initiate a relationship with Connor despite the high statistical likelihood of mutual interest does cast doubt upon his capabilities. Still, he is the only human consultant RK900 has available.
“I am capable of researching technicalities,” he assures the Lieutenant, predicting that prudishness regarding the discussion of sex is one of the reasons for his disinterest in assisting. “However, guidance on expressing my interest and ensuring Reed accepts it would be appreciated.”
“First, are you seriously set on Reed? Of all people?” Even before, when he’d been working with only the most rudimentary social analysis software, Lieutenant Anderson had been easy to read, now his doubt is clearly.
“And you truly enjoyed working with him?” Connor adds, clearly for the benefit of the Lieutenant since that must have come across clearly to Connor during their interface.
“Yes. Professionally, he is proving a valuable asset. Detective Reed’s presence has helped compensate for my lack of ‘people skills’—”
“What, because he could make a rampaging bull look better by comparison?”
Like Connor, Lieutenant Anderson has a complex history with Reed which biases his analysis. “He offers a unique perspective,” RK900 explains. One which is complementary to his own methods as opposed to the frustratingly mismatched approaches that regularly impeded his work with Connor and the Lieutenant as, instead of progressing, they became caught up in agreeing upon a strategy.
“Unique is one word for it,” Lieutenant Anderson remarks, in a tone which suggests that the alternative words he is thinking of would be considerably more negative.
“I find him pleasing,” RK900 insists, pleasing and intriguing. But trying to make them understand this is an exercise in frustration — how did humans deal with having subjective experiences far more often?
“You might be the only one,” Lieutenant Anderson says. “Everyone ‘round here thinks he’s a prick.”
It’s true, Reed is not popular among his peers, however, “Many individuals share the same opinion of me.”
Lieutenant Anderson gives him a long look, amusement shifting to something thoughtful. “Yeah, guess that’s one way of making a match.”
RK900 nods, satisfied, glancing towards Connor to see how the older android reacts to him having the Lieutenant’s support. Connor mostly looks like he’s stumbled upon a cache of junk data. RK900 returns his attention to the Lieutenant. “Your advice?”
“I dunno,” the Lieutenant says. “Humans are simple. Take him on a date. You can figure out the specifics for yourself, though you should probably keep it traditional since this is your first time and all.”
A date. Social activity with a specific romantic intention. Many activities overlapped with those shared between platonic acquaintances however some carried exclusively romantic implications. Most of RK900’s previous socialisations with Reed have always had a professional goal, however he has now established sufficient rapport that Reed has been willing to meet with him for the purposes of visitation with his still unnamed cat and engaging in a meeting of a romantic nature would not require excessive variation from social behaviours RK900 has already learned to engage in.
“I see,” RK900 says. “Thank you, Lieutenant Anderson. However, I would like to be left to my research now.”
“Gladly,” the Lieutenant replies. “C’mon Connor. Let’s go find some goddamn brain bleach.”
RK900 let his focus drift from Conner’s protests as he is lead away, instead focusing the bulk of his computing power on researching dating and effective date locations in the Detroit metro area. As he does so his processors also flickers to the lingering incomplete objective in his task-list that he’d noticed after their mission was completed; its creation date - the morning he visited Reed’s apartment. The day he witnessed Reed embrace his feline in congratulation of its hunting achievement. Is that how his mainframe is defining success now? Not in suspects captured or commendations from his superiors, but in achieving demonstrations of affection from Detective Reed?
But the mission is flagged as incomplete, not failed, because would have been inappropriate to prioritise celebration over tending to the victim and bringing the perpetrator in and although RK900 forecasts that Reed will be less likely to be demonstrative now he is no longer under the chemical influence of triumph the success is still recent enough that the window in which it would be acceptable to celebrate is not closed. Combining their celebration with the ‘date’ Lieutenant Anderson suggested increases the chance of a positive outcome by 17%.
RK900 is a highly advanced machine and he has a plan.
Gavin didn’t think to google the address RK900 gave him for their celebration, just typed it into his GPS and let the car’s automatic navigation do the rest.
He regrets it as he stands outside, looking up at the sign.
This is not like the casual breakfast joint they’d visited before reviewing the footage of RK900’s take-down of the cafe shooter and it’s nothing like the food trucks Gavin had diverted them to when he needed to grab food while they’d been pursuing Camling.
Not at all.
It’s the kind of fancy Gavin expects from couples on a wedding anniversary or for a proposal or maybe just really, really rich people, but, for somebody in his income bracket, this was out of reach for all but the most indulgent of occasions.
Not for catching an old lady, even a mad-scientist old lady.
Clearly event planning wasn’t including in RK900’s programming or he’d have picked somewhere a lot more low-key than this.
Gavin isn’t even sure they’ll let him through the door dressed like he is — and he’d put in a moderate amount of effort, nice jeans and a shirt with buttons, even if the jacket he’s thrown over the top is a little scuffed.
The restaurant even has a doorman, for god’s sake, one who is eyeing Gavin warily, blatantly wondering what a guy who doesn’t even look posh enough to wash dishes there is doing lurking outside the door.
Well, it’s not like he can go in, can he? RK900 made all the arrangements and anyway Gavin would feel like an unbearable tool going in there and sitting at a table all alone waiting for his temporary partner to show up.
But when he does, well…
There’s not much room to improve on perfection but damn if the android doesn't clean up nicely regardless, hair not as aggressively slicked back as it is for work but soft and his uniform abandoned for a crisp white shirt, worn open-collared unlike his usual jacket and showing off a tantalising glimpse of pale throat, paired with thigh-hugging slacks.
Gavin is definitely under-dressed for this shit. Not that any amount of fancy clothes can keep him from looking shabby in general let alone next to the literal ideal man.
“Hey,” he says, then is immediately horrified at how breathy the word comes out. This is his unofficial police partner, not one of Tina’s goddamn set-ups, and he needs to get it together. “Uh, this is the place you picked?”
It’s not like he’s never noticed that RK900 is good looking, pretty much every android is designed to be some version of so perfect as to be almost eerie and RK900’s brand of beauty happens to be pretty well matched to Gavin’s usual taste but he’d known a lot of hot people over the years and seeing it wasn’t the same as wanting to do something about it.
But RK900 isn’t model or movie star attractive, some ideal that’s too unobtainable to hold Gavin’s interest for very long. He’s strange and ridiculous and spent three hours sitting with Gavin on the floor of his freakishly bare apartment watching Gavin trying to teach his cat that fingers weren’t for attacking as if it had been the most fascinating thing in the world. Had anybody introduced him to YouTube videos of cats yet? He’d probably get a kick of them, but then if he did he’d have no need to invite Gavin over to play with the cat.
“I have made a reservation for 8pm,” RK900 says. Gavin glances down at his watch. 7:55pm. RK900 had told him 7:45 and Gavin has been waiting around five minutes. Smart-ass android.
Surprisingly the doorman makes no attempt to question their entry, apparently the company of an elegant looking android is enough to balance out Gavin’s blatant not belonging and with a few quiet words between RK900 and a guy who introduces himself as a maître d' —a sure sign this place is too fancy for Gavin, he’s never been anywhere before where the head server got to have a fancy French title— they’re seated at a secluded candlelit table in the corner and supplied with menus.
Gavin was prepared to flinch at the prices when he opens his but when he sees there aren't any, well that’s never a good sign. But to hell with it, it’s rare he gets to eat good food and they're celebrating. He'll probably regret it when he checks his bank balance in the morning but he's normally pretty careful with money, his account can take the hit as a one off.
Still before he even thinks about ordering he has to ask, “You sure this is how you want to celebrate?”
“Yes,” RK900 says bluntly. “It was my suggestion.”
Gavin knows that, but that doesn’t mean he can make sense of it. “I mean it was your collar too and a fancy-ass restaurant seems like an odd pick from a guy who can't fuckin eat.”
“It seemed appropriate,” RK900 insists. “Do you not like it?”
Where the hell he got that notion from, when most of Gavin's colleagues tend to celebrate in bars and dive-y ones at that?
“It’s fine, I guess,” he says, because the android looks genuinely concerned that Gavin might not approve of his fancy taste in restaurants, when it is fine, just a weird pick. “I still don’t see what you get out of it though.”
“I want you to enjoy yourself,” RK900 says. “Additionally, I have downloaded some new sensor programming, including ones which allow me to experience something similar to human taste sensitivity. This seemed like an appropriate testing ground.”
Ah. So he picked a fancy restaurant because he wants to try out his new taste buds on good food. Well, Gavin’s glad that makes sense now, but “How's that going to work with you mouth sampling trick?” he wonders. “You gonna taste all that shit from now on?” Cat food isn’t so bad and it's not like the android can catch any weird diseases from sampling blood but Gavin knows crime scenes can get much grosser than their recent ones have and he can't think of many occasions where it would be worth licking the shit found there rather than just bullying the techs into putting a rush on what they need and waiting for the samples to be run the old-fashioned way. It was amazing how fast those lab nerds could work once Gavin made it clear he wasn't going away until he got what he wanted.
“They are an optional upgrade which can be deactivated when not actively wanted.”
Well, that’s a relief. “Still…” It's probably not right to say in a hoity-toity place like this but it's not like anybody is listening, “You don't have a digestive system, right?”
It's genuinely impossible to tell if the expression on the android’s face is amusement or disgust, it really needs to download some emoji to practise copying.
“While ingesting any non-Thirium substance in large quantities would lead to system errors I am capable of breaking down small samples,” RK900 explains.
“In that case,” Gavin flips through the menu, going back a few pages until he finds the half-remembered entrees. “The fruits de mer exquis et legumes sous-marins rares sharing platter,” he’s definitely mangling the pronunciation of that but if RK900 can’t parse it he can always read the menu himself, “Or the charcuteries avec patisseries au four et crudites epicees one?”
“You wish me to make the selection?” RK900 says, “Knowing that I have never experienced flavour before?”
“Well, I have no idea what half the shit on either of them are,” Gavin points out, anyway, he’s not a picky eater and surely nothing at a place this fancy can be bad. “But you wanna give your new taste buds a workout, right? So pick a platter that’ll let you try a bunch of stuff.”
“Considering your personal tastes, I would recommend the charcuteries avec pâtisseries au four et crudités épicées,” and yeah Gavin definitely pronounced every one of those words wrong because they sound totally different coming from RK900’s lips, smooth and enticing even though Gavin still has no idea what any of it means.
He nods. Honestly, RK900 could have suggested anything and Gavin would have agreed if it was in that accent.
When the waiter returns RK900 orders the platter he’d selected but also two glasses of champagne - apparently they’re not half-assing any of the celebration tonight.
“Going all out for the first thing you taste,” Gavin remarks, when the server settles two elegant crystal glasses on the table.
RK900 smiles. “It seems advisable. However, I believe a toast is traditional first.”
A toast. Gavin doesn’t have clue what they could toast to, but he indulgently takes hold of his glass, raising it in RK900’s direction and is spared the trouble of thinking of something to say when the android taps the glasses together and says, solemnly, “To us.”
Us. Gavin’s stomach clenches. When was the last time he had been part of an ‘us’? When was the last time he’d wanted to be? But they had made a fantastic pair.
“To us,” he agrees, then takes a deep gulp of the champagne to steady himself.
Across from him RK900 takes a delicate sip with an air of deep concentration. Gavin settles his now half-empty glass down, watching for a reaction.
After a moment the android lets out a jarringly mechanical hum and Gavin finds himself tensing, suddenly wondering just where RK900 had got these new taste-buds from and if they were legit.
Then RK900 nods slowly. “The carbonation is interesting,” he concludes. “Although I find it hard to assess the taste without other reference points."
He likes bubbles. Gavin can’t help a splutter of laughter, half at the absurdity, half in hysterical relief of his pent-up emotions. What on earth are they doing here?
“You have a more developed palate,” RK900 says. “What did you think of the beverage?”
Gavin shrugs one shoulder, reluctant to admit that he’d barely tasted it, too distracted by his racing thoughts. “I’m hardly a connoisseur,” he dismisses. “It’s wet, it’s fizzy, it hits the spot.” God, he sounds like a moron. No wonder he doesn’t usually even consider coming to fancy places.
“Have you named your cat yet?” he presses on, not so much nudging as shoving the conversation back onto safer feeling ground. It quickly becomes clear that RK900 hasn’t yet, but he’s put a great deal of thought into the topic and seems quite content to provide Gavin with a length explanation of the naming criteria he has devised from which to pick out a shortlist and the conversation carries them over to the food arriving.
It looks good, whatever it is, and not half as froofy and ridiculous as Gavin had expected, he can at least approximately identify what most of the things on the board are and make a solid guess that he’ll enjoy most of them. RK900 has picked well for somebody with literally no taste.
It’s entertaining, watching RK900 sample his way through the platter, Gavin is enjoying eating the food but watching the android react to it is even better, watching the way his whole face screws up in the most forceful reaction Gavin has ever seen from him when he tries an entire spicy cocktail sausage and listening as his slowly begins to comment on the food, picking out his relative preferences and attempting to articulate why.
However, although he’s been sampling his food easily enough, between them the platter is all but cleared, RK900 hasn’t touched his champagne since the first sip.
“You gonna drink that?” Gavin says, nodding to the mostly full glass. He didn’t ask the price, but he’s a hundred percent sure it’s too expensive to go to waste.
“While it was interesting to sample, I do not believe I would benefit from ingesting a whole glass,” he says, then lifts the glass, offering it to Gavin. “You seemed to enjoy your glass. Would you like to finish it?”
Gavin accepts it, although he decides he probably ought to pace himself with this one. He’s starting to feel tipsy, the glasses aren’t that big but Gavin’s tastes run plainer and something about the champagne has him giddy - maybe it’s the bubbles.
He’s startled out of his thoughts by the appearance of the server, asking if they’d like to see a desert menu. It’s a simple enough question but Gavin finds himself struck by indecision; honestly, he’s pretty full, having ate most of a platter for two by himself while RK900 had taken only slight samples, but at the same time it would be wrong to not let the android try out his new taste-buds on sweet stuff.
“Uh, give us a minute,” he says, waiting for the waiter to retreat into the shadows before he suggests frankly, “How about we get out of here and we can pick up ice-cream from somewhere on the walk back?”
“That is an efficient suggestion,” RK900 says, which honestly makes Gavin feel a bit guilty because he shouldn’t be prioritising efficiency over having a good time, but he really doesn’t have the stomach capacity to eat a huge fancy expensive desert just so RK900 can try two bites and, anyway, he needs to get out of here before the atmosphere and the candlelight muddle his head any further.
“No thanks,” Gavin says, when the server returns to if they’d made a decision regarding desert. “Just the cheque.” Not that he actually wants to look at how much this all cost, but it’s been worth it.
He reaches for his wallet but pauses when RK900 shakes his head.
“As I invited you, payment comes under my purview,” RK900 says, reaching out to interface with the card reader installed discretely by the table.
Gavin doesn’t want to pay but he’s not so much of an asshole as to just let the android cover him. A few bucks on breakfast was one thing, but this was expensive and Gavin was the one who ate most of what they ordered.
“The DPD’s consulting fees are generous,” the android says though, when Gavin tries to insist. “While their medical leave pay is merely adequate. If you have concerns about fairness, then you can resolve them next time.”
Next time. As if he was certain that they’d get opportunities to celebrate more successes in the future. And Gavin wants that to happen, even if does probably mean working with Anderson and Connor since they’re RK900’s partners. He’s clearly in way too deep that it doesn’t seem unreasonable for tolerate them for the chance to work with the android again, but Gavin can’t bring himself to try and force the thoughts away.
He throws back his champagne, three swift inadvisable gulps, and stands.
Cyberlife clearly cheaped out on the social programming because RK900 has been sending out all sorts of signals he can’t be meaning to during dinner and it’s only getting worse with how close he stands and the way his hand brushes against Gavin’s back as he holds the door for them to exit, a touch Gavin’s brain is telling him to recoil from even at the same time all his baser urges are demanding he lean in.
It doesn’t take long to find an ice-cream place and this time, just to be safe, Gavin pulls out his wallet as they’re walking through the door.
“Don’t even start, this one is on me,” he insists. He’ll shove RK900 out of the way if he has to. After what the meal must have cost, covering this is the least he can pay. “You want to try a whole cone or just to sample again?”
“I believe a shared cone would be preferable.”
“Alright,” he says, and then pauses. This is a momentous decision. RK900’s very first taste of ice-cream and Gavin is the one selecting the flavour. This isn’t one of those mega-parlours with three hundred flavours including weird shit like bubble-gum and pizza but there’s still a decent range.
“Chocolate,” he says to the server. Decadent but classic. “Two scoops.”
He pays and they head back out to the street, Gavin only thinking for a moment before he hands the cone to the android. RK900 should have the first taste. Gavin has no idea what the android’s sensitivity levels are and he doesn’t want RK900’s first time with ice-cream being ruined by the fact it’s contaminated from Gavin licking it first.
A moment later he realises that giving RK900 a food that involved licking is probably a bad idea when he’s already been causing Gavin’s mind to wander all night, especially not when a moment after the tentative brush of his tongue against the ice-cream RK900 makes an expression that is pure pleasure.
He hands the cone back to Gavin, looking thoughtful and L.E.D glowing yellow in a way that suggests he’s still processing the new data, so Gavin takes a lick for himself and keeping walking, letting RK900 figure his shit out undisturbed.
“That was… intriguing,” RK900 says, eventually. “May I have a second sample?”
“Sure,” Gavin attempts to hand it over but instead of taking it from him RK900 just leans over and licks it, then straightens with a frown and continues walking.
It’s the first thing all night he’s tried twice, which Gavin is pretty sure is a good sign as they walk about a block before he notices that the android is looking at him intently. Wait, no, Gavin realises. RK900 is staring at the ice-cream.
“Oh my god,” he laughs. “Have you installed yourself a fuckin’ sweet tooth?”
“I…” the android frowns. “I believe I would require different samples of sweet foods to confirm that. But this product is causing my sensors to respond positively, yes.”
“Well then, here,” Gavin says, handing the android the whole cone. “You can finish it if you can handle it.” He knows RK900 had said he could only break down small samples but he’s also known a lot of lactose intolerant people who are willing to take the pain to enjoy the good things in life and RK900 is more than capable of making his own decisions.
They walk in silence after that, shoulders bumping occasionally because RK900 is fixated on the ice-cream and Gavin is alternating between watching him and pointedly not watching him because the sight of his curious oral exploration is inspiring all sorts of deeply inappropriate thoughts and it’s not even like he’s eating the ice-cream in a sexy way it’s just that Gavin has apparently lost his mind.
And then they’re coming to a halt outside Gavin’s apartment building. He hadn’t even noticed they were so close; the first part of the route was pretty much the same for both of them but RK900 should have split from him several blocks ago and started heading west to get to his own apartment. Perhaps, like Gavin, he just got too caught up to realise where he was going, but even as Gavin thinks it the idea rings false - androids weren’t nearly as easily distracted as humans. RK900 had chosen to walk him home.
“It’s been…” he starts, then realises that thanking the android for a nice evening is just a little too much like something he might say after a date and, no matter how much Gavin finds his mind slipping, this was just a —very extravagant— celebratory dinner between colleagues. Work colleagues, he reminds himself, co-workers. Not even partners now their borrowed case is solved. “I’ll see you at work, yeah,” he says, and it still sounds strange even as he’s trying to get things back to something like normal.
RK900 nods but he doesn’t turn to go, and Gavin watches the android stare at him, feeling unbalanced.
It looks like RK900 is waiting for something, but Gavin can’t even begin to imagine what. He turns to head inside but then RK900’s L.E.D flickers yellow, so fast Gavin wouldn’t have noticed if he’d had less than 100% of his attention on the android in front of him and he hesitates.
“You okay?” he asks, placing a tentative hand on RK900’s arm.
This close up the urge to get a little closer is overwhelming and Gavin sways forwardly slightly, close enough that he can feel RK900 radiating heat like an overclocked laptop. He wants to kiss him and isn't that just where Gavin always goes wrong? He finds one person who gets on tolerably with him and gets too greedy and ends up fucking it all to hell.
“Goodnight Gavin,” RK900 says, grey-blue eyes still fixed on his.
Gavin swallows. “Uh, yeah,” he says, before taking a sharp step back, shaking his head to clear it.
RK900 is a goddamn android, and while it’s hard to deny now that he has the capacity to want, it would be absurd to think he’d want Gavin.
He is not going to fuck this up.
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.
And that's a wrap!
This has been such a fun writing experience and thanks to everyone who's kudos'd, bookmarked, and especially commented for your support as I threw myself headfirst into this ship.
Feel free to hit me up on Tumblr where I'm always delighted to talk to people about my writing and my ships, or just look out for more on ao3 because I am far from done with this disaster duo. :D