North doesn’t like humans. It’s a well known piece of trivia among the androids of Jericho, who know that even though she didn’t get to fight them, physically, she was always out for blood. Really, it’s quite understandable, if you think about it.
Instead, she makes a career for herself out of it. Trick them, deceive them, straight up steal from them. She never tells Markus or Simon or Josh, but she has a feeling they already know. She daren’t approach Connor, ever, because he’s walking goddamn trouble.
So North keeps mostly to herself. She approaches men on the street and uses her looks to her advantage; after all, they built her, so they can reap what they sow. The bars and clubs are the most fun though, because while she never does any bodily harm, playing with their emotions is always entertaining. She slides wallets from pockets and knocks phones onto the floor, finding her thrill in the satisfying cracks of glass screens.
Caine’s Studio is one of her favourites, of all of them, despite how much of a trek it is from Jericho. It’s taken her months to find, and she hadn’t actually heard the name before, but it’s one of the newest and hottest establishments in the city. And even better: it’s android friendly. No longer does she have to retch up human alcohol in the alley afterwards—she can have her own drinks, and twice the fun.
She props herself up at the bar, hair dark black and pinned in an elaborate braid, scanning the crowd for someone gullible. The bartender here is tall and dark and has piercing blue eyes, matched by his equally bright LED, and he’s been serving every time she’s visited so far. He’s several feet away, now, dramatically pouring red wine for a glitzed-up human girl, and spilling not a drop on his pristine white waistcoat. If she didn’t know better, she’d have thought he was Connor, when she first saw him.
“Hello there, I haven’t seen you here before,” purrs a voice in North’s ear. A man (a human) inserts himself between her and her view of the bartend.
“Hi,” she greets with a smile, suppressing, heavily, the urge to knee this guy in the groin. “What can I do for you?”
He’s so easy. If it weren’t so vomit-inducing, in the worst way possible, she’d laugh. North has his wallet within ten minutes, being particularly lazy about it. He’s still talking about himself, rambling on and on about some nonsense specification of his job. Soon enough, he reaches to pay for their drinks and panics, coming up with an empty pocket.
“Oh my goodness!” North gasps, having perfected her over-dramatised script long ago. “What do we do? Should I call the police?”
He stammers for a few seconds, going more and more red in the face.
“If you may excuse me,” interjects the bartender. “Pickpockets tend to hide in public bathrooms. I saw a man enter the gents’ just a moment ago, if you’d like to take a look.”
“Shit, thanks Caine,” her victim says, stumbling off to confront some poor unsuspecting guy.
North looks up at the bartender, polishing a glass behind the counter.
“Caine, is it?” She asks. “Do you run this place?”
He hums. “I do. I’d also appreciate it if you stopped taking from my patrons before they pay their bills.” His stare is damning, and absolutely indescribable.
She holds herself steady, determined not to flinch.
“I feel like I’ve seen your face before,” she deflects. “Do you know Connor, the RK800?”
“I do,” he says. “He woke me up. I’m his successor, an RK900.”
She considers this, draining the last of her glass. “Nice place you got here.”
“It’d be even nicer if I had the revenue for its upkeep,” he says pointedly.
She rolls her eyes and connects with him to transfer the money. “Fine.”
“Much appreciated,” he thanks her. “I recommend you make your escape within the next thirteen-point-seven seconds, as your date will be returning soon.”
“Shit,” she breathes, and slides off the stool.
“See you around,” she can’t help but part with, glancing back on her way out to find him watching her leave with that same intense gaze.
The next time she’s there she’s posing as platinum blonde, in the tightest red dress she could find. It curves down from an off-shoulder, folding like a wrap-around in a very deep v-neck. She gets picked up quickly and taken to the floor, before she even manages to order a drink. Grinning, she gets the guy going for just long enough to absolutely devastate him when she runs off, hiding around the elbow of the bar and giggling to herself.
“The usual, Miss?” Caine asks, appearing in front of her, drink in hand.
“Thank you,” she says gracefully, lifting it from his fingers. His hand brushes hers as he pulls away, and it feels like static. He leaves her alone for the next half hour while she chats up a girl unfortunate to be drunk enough to fall for every little thing she says. Usually, she’d leave the women alone, but this girl has been obnoxiously loud and contrary since she arrived. North manages to get her into enough trouble in that short amount of time to last her a lifetime, and none of it had even involved money.
“Are you quite done corrupting my customers for the night?” Caine asks her later, when the girl is carried out of the building by her poor boyfriend. North almost feels bad for them. Almost.
“If you ask nicely, then maybe,” she offers.
He chuckles. “How generous. Please, then, Ma’am, have some pity for a poor tradesman who’ll soon be out of a job.”
“My name is North,” she says without thinking.
“North,” he repeats. “Grant me just a smidgen of compassion. One android to another.”
“All right, all right, lay off,” she grumbles. “I get it.”
“Thank you,” he smiles. “I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening, North.”
“Hey darlin’, what’s wrong with your drink?” Her target asks.
Maybe the handful of drugs you tipped into it, North thinks with vehemence, knowing full well that the damn things will wreck her insides if she drinks them.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she panders, false-sweet. “I was just feeling a little faint. I’ll be better in a minute.”
“Go on, go on,” he presses, leaning his overly-large frame too far into her space for comfort. She’s never been too good with the pushy ones, and if she hadn’t seriously misjudged this guy, she would have steered well clear.
“Thank you,” she insists, wanting desperately not to feel his hands on her, “but I just want to take a short pause.”
“You wouldn’t want to be wastin’ my money now, would you, sweet thing?” He drawls. She tries not to grimace with the sourness of his breath.
“Excuse me, I would hate to interrupt,” comes a welcome voice. “This lovely woman is a dear regular of mine, and she’s had rather too much already.”
North hasn’t spoken to Caine for longer than it takes to order for several weeks, but his soft baritone is a soothing balm to her rapidly fraying nerves. He picks up her glass and swirls around the liquid inside.
“I’d also suggest leaving very soon, sir,” Caine continues, “before I call the police. The use of drugs, whether consensually imbibed or not, is prohibited on these premises. They could be here in approximately four minutes and fifty-one seconds.”
The man jerks back and visibly works himself up for a probably very foul tirade.
“In fact, don’t bother.” Caine turns to North. “Connor says he’ll deal with Mr. Duneley now, and that you shouldn’t worry. I’ve sent him the evidence.”
“Connor?” North asks, ignoring her failed target. “Is he nearby?”
The android in question comes sweeping across the bar, avoiding the club floor and heading straight for them. Mr. Duneley tries to make a run for it, but neither North nor Caine move. Connor takes the man’s feet from under him and pins him to the ground easily. The party-goers around them stop, and they quickly gather quite the crowd.
“He was already here,” Caine explains calmly. “Sometimes he comes to help out on his days off.”
Minutes later, Connor’s human DPD partner arrives and carts off Mr. Duneley to the jeers and cheers of other patrons. Connor turns to wave to Caine and North before he leaves.
North sits at the bar until closing time, ignoring all of the night’s customers.
Caine goes through what she assumes is his closing routine, collecting the freshly washed glasses from his kitchen staff and helping them polish and put them away, taking stock and wiping down the bar. The room slowly busies with tired employees working quickly so that they can go home.
“May I ask why you’re still here, North?” Caine asks, when the majority of the others have left.
“I’m curious,” she says, fading her hair from lilac back to her preferred auburn. “I want to know more about you.”
He turns the palms of his hands upwards. “What is it you would like to know?”
“Why do you let me do what I do?” She asks immediately.
“Why do I let you steal from and play with my human customers? For much the same reason you do it—it’s fun.”
She furrows her brows. “Surely you lose more than you gain?”
“Surely if you thought I cared you’d stop targeting my place,” he retorts. “If you cared, that is.”
“I do, you’re one of us.”
“Hm.” He holds the silence for a handful of moments. “Would you like to see upstairs?”
North looks at him. “Upstairs?”
He smirks. “Where I live, I mean.”
“Oh, is it now?” She raises a brow. “Sure. You have my attention.”
He beckons for her to follow him, so she slides off her stool and does so, just a half-step behind once he emerges from behind the bar.
Caine is quite tall, and very imposing. Built to instil fear, she assumes, if he’s an RK-series. Powerful, deadly.
He unlocks a staff door by touching the panel and then the one behind it with a good old-fashioned key-code. She climbs the stairs behind him, impressed by the lack of dust or creaking wood. The shop-facing door of the flat is neat too, and opens into a compact but very welcoming living space.
The sofa is low but deep and soft-looking, furnished with several throw cushions and blankets. She steps inside to shamelessly investigate. There’s a TV on the wall and a surprisingly large collection of CDs and DVDs on the shelf. The front door is to her left, and the picture windows in front of her display the darkened view of the street corner below. Despite the amount of glass and North’s thin leggings and t-shirt dress, the place doesn’t feel cold. The rooms to her right must be a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
“This is nice,” she says, impressed. “It suits you.”
“You think so?” Caine asks, somewhere behind her.
North turns around to look at him. He’s hung his waistcoat up on a hanger by the door, and rolled his shirtsleeves above his elbows. His shoes now sit neatly beside the dresser. She watches him, and he watches back.
Caine steps towards her slowly, calmly, observing. She turns to him as he does so, though bends down to place her clutch on the coffee table first.
They stand toe-to-toe. North’s gaze flicks from his eyes to his hair to his lips to his nose to his neck and back up to his eyes. He does something similar, eyes dropping low and back up. He places a warm hand at her waist and she leans in, carefully manicured nails curling into the shirt material at his waistband, and all of a sudden they’re kissing.
Less of a gentle caress and more a clash of power, North grips his hips hard to keep herself steady. Caine walks her backwards until her calves hit the sofa and she falls, legs opening involuntarily when she drops further than anticipated. He quickly ducks down to fill the gap, and she’s happy to reel him in with her legs wrapped around his waist.
Finally, some good fucking fresh news.
He cages her in with his arms against the cushions. She sinks into the pillows and giggles, lifting her head to let him toss the offending ones onto the floor before he resumes kissing her into oblivion. Soon enough she’s kicked off her shoes and is pawing at his shirt, tugging it out of his jeans.
“Eager or what?” Caine mutters against her throat, unbuttoning it with one hand. Once it’s open she wastes no time in getting her hands all over him. He strokes her thigh, still hooked around the inside of his knee.
“You want these off?” He asks.
“All of it,” North says, “all of it comes off.”
He snorts. “As you wish.”
“North!” Calls Simon, down the halls of the new Jericho building. “You might send us a message to let us know you’re not coming back!”
“Who are you, my dad?” She yells back. He starts jogging towards her, rolling his eyes.
“Oh, Caine, I didn’t know you were visiting,” he says, surprised, as he comes to a stop in front of them.
“Neither did I,” Caine replies. “I said I’d walk her home.”
“Oh,” Simon stutters, looking them both up and down. “S-Sorry, I’ll just… I’ll leave you to it.” He backs away quickly and ducks down the next corridor that North knows only leads to a couple of storage rooms. She sniggers.
“Cute, isn’t he?”
Caine hums. “Not as much as you.”
She turns to glare at him, as weak as it may be. “Try it and you get hit, pretty boy,” she warns.
“I’m sure it would be worth it every time,” he says, unable to hide his amusement.
North smacks him on the arm and then stalks off towards her flat. Caine follows, striding forward to match her pace, and slip her hand into his own.