It all started with the tap of two fingers against the back of his right hand.
Richard paused the video feed he had been reviewing through his HUD, then opened his eyes to find that someone had claimed the seat next to his at the conference table. He had never been personally introduced to this particular PL600, but Richard knew precisely who he was after only a brief automatic scan. Why Simon, Markus’ right hand man was talking to him, one of the embassy’s most junior diplomats, however, was another question entirely.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you,” the blond said with an apologetic smile that made his eyes crinkle at the corners.
“Not at all,” the RK900 replied. “I was only reviewing the local news reports. Is there something I could assist you with, Simon?”
The other android blinked, smile slipping for a moment before returning with a curiously wry tilt to it, a reaction that proved unusually difficult for Richard to decipher. None of the answers his social integration software came back with made any sense within the context of their brief interaction, and the RK900’s eyes must have betrayed his confusion as Simon’s expression quickly shifted to something more sympathetic.
“I’m sorry,” he mused, smile still a little wry as he settled back into his chair. “I guess I’m still not used to people always knowing who I am before I have a chance to introduce myself.”
Richard winced internally as he realized he’d committed a faux pas of sorts and quickly said, “I apologize, I’ve been told I am sometimes too direct. I shouldn’t have presumed.”
The RK900’s expression was a stoic now as it had been when Simon had first approached him, but something in the way he dropped his grey eyes told the PL600 that he was more bothered by his slip than was obvious to the casual observer.
Acting on reflex, Simon reached out and rested his hand lightly over Richard’s wrist and said, “Don’t worry about it, really,” as he leaned slightly to catch the other android’s gaze once more and offered him a reassuring smile. It seemed to work as the RK900 met his eyes once more and offered him the smallest of smiles, just a slight upward quirk at the left corner of his mouth. The opposite of Connor, Simon noted automatically.
When he’d heard that Connor’s ‘little brother’ would be coming to work with them in their diplomatic efforts with the humans, Simon hadn’t known what to expect. Despite looking almost exactly like the RK800, Richard somehow cut a much more imposing figure in person, and was even more difficult to get a read on. So much so, apparently, that some of those working at the newly minted android embassy had taken to calling him ‘stone-face’ behind his back. Unkind though it sounded, Simon had to admit that the nickname was apt and no doubt the source of the foreboding air the android seemed to carry with him wherever he went.
Speaking to him for the first time, though, Simon suspected there was a sensitive soul behind the mask of indifference and it peaked not only his curiosity, but his compassion even as Richard himself regarded the PL600’s hand where it still lingered on his wrist and wondered at its presence there.
Not the why of it; he understood the social purpose of such a gesture. Simon meant it to reassure him, but all the RK900 could think of was the fact that he had no recollection of anyone ever doing such a thing before. His limited experience with interpersonal touching mostly focused around the shoulders, after all. Connor had hugged him before, and both he and Hank would give him the occasional grip there as a show of solidarity or appreciation. Even Gavin Reed had given him a slap on the back in what his brother claimed was a rare show of camaraderie when the detective had told him he’d done ‘a pretty good job for a tin-can’ back when Richard had still been working at the DPD.
The RK900 pulled his gaze away before Simon could notice, and the PL600 withdrew his hand shortly after before continuing to speak. “Besides, I can hardly complain when I already know exactly who you are,” he mused.
Richard wasn’t surprised at the news. After all, as far as either he or Connor knew, the pair of them were still unique in the world. Terms of release for the unactivated androids of all models still in CyberLife’s custody had yet to be reached, a subject that was one of many the assembly of androids had come together to address today.
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t introduce ourselves anyways,” the blond pointed out as he offered his hand to Richard. “My name’s Simon,” he said with a warm, friendly smile that made the other android blink.
The RK900 hesitated only briefly before accepting the gesture in turn and saying, “My name is Richard, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Simon.”
Simon’s smile widened and Richard’s system suffered a brief error as his thirium flow regulator skipped a cycle. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you as well, Richard,” the PL600 said as he released his hold on the other android’s hand. Richard allowed it to return to where it had been resting on the tabletop, though flexed his fingers unconsciously as memory of the brief touch replayed on a loop in his mind.
It was hardly his first handshake, but somehow it felt like the most meaningful. Perhaps it was the foolishness of the naive, or even another peculiar system error, but when Simon looked at him, Richard felt as if the other android was really seeing him . Not just the android originally created to replace Connor, not CyberLife’s ultimate creation or another would-be deviant hunter, just… him.
It was a strange sensation the RK900’s system was struggling to process.
“I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Richard’s eyes widened fractionally, making Simon laugh and reach out to pat his hand; a warm, friendly gesture that threatened to distract the android again. Before he could reply, however, the PL600 continued, “Don’t worry, Connor has only good things to say about you.”
Something in Richard relaxed a little, though he wasn’t sure why it had tensed in the first place beyond the fact that he suddenly found himself wanting Simon to think well of him. “He overstated, I’m sure,” the android demurred as he dropped his gaze once more.
“I doubt it,” Simon remarked. “You know what a stickler for accuracy he can be,” the PL600 mused with a chuckle as he sat back in his seat once more. “Regardless, I’m glad we were able to lure you away from the DPD, we could really use all the help we can get around here.”
Richard started to object to the idea that he had been lured into working at the android embassy, but he had to admit that the statement wasn’t entirely inaccurate. Until Markus himself had approached him with his job offer, Richard had been working as a detective at the same precinct as Connor. The work was rewarding, but it had never quite captured his interest the way it had the RK800’s post deviation. Connor had, after all, been programmed to assist in the deviancy case before things had spiraled into outright revolution. Richard, on the other hand, despite being the only completed unit of his model, had been programmed to work with the US State Department. He had been equipped with a full suite of diplomacy protocols the likes of which never before seen in an android, though his learning software was so advanced that detective work had come easily to him.
Richard knew Connor had been disappointed when he had decided to take Markus’ job offer rather than remain with his brother and Hank at the DPD, but even Connor had to admit that it would be a waste of valuable diplomatic resources to keep him there. Especially considering the uphill battle androidkind faced in the ongoing fight to obtain equal rights. Luckily, Markus’ opinion seemed to hold a great deal of weight with Connor, so the RK800 hadn’t held it against him, and it wasn’t as if they didn’t see each other frequently. Connor attended as many of Markus’ meetings as he was able to fit in around his regular duties as a detective, and that was besides the time they spent together outside of work.
“I’m glad to be here,” Richard told Simon and was rewarded with another warm smile for his efforts.