“Connor,” Markus replied through the internal network. He hadn’t heard from the detective since his partner had been injured on a case. Markus was glad his friend had found a free moment to catch up, or if he was calling to talk about his worries, Markus would welcome that, too. “It’s always good to hear from you. How are you faring?”
“I’m well, though I can’t say I’m bringing good news,” Connor replied. “Do you have a moment to talk?”
“Of course.” Markus sat up straighter, setting down Simon’s report from their latest apartment project. “Did something happen with Hank? I thought he was recovering well.”
“It’s nothing like that. Hank is fine, so there’s no reason to worry on his account. I’m calling concerning another matter,” Connor said. Markus paused, waiting for Connor to continue. The detective did not disappoint, though his next question caught Markus off guard: “Do you know a Leo Manfred?”
Markus closed his eyes and saw Leo walking through the snow toward the tombstone he had just left behind.
He’d passed without giving the human another thought.
The man had not been worth Markus’ time.
But, he also saw an angry, high man shoving him past his limits.
Markus saw Carl on the ground.
He remembered crying.
Markus had said “Dad” for the first time.
He remembered Leo pointing his finger and the echo of a shot before the world went dark.
“I do,” Markus said, throwing all of those memories to the back of his mind. He kept his voice even and his emotions hidden. He’d already shared his feelings on the matter with North. There was no need to burden all of his friends with old pains. Markus stared at Simon’s report and turned his attention back to Connor. “Why do you ask?”
“He’s in the ICU a few rooms down from Hank,” Connor said. “I’ve been a bit bored while Hank sleeps, so I’ve taken to wandering the hallways. I had noticed no one had been to visit the young man since he arrived, so I may have abused my systems and scanned him to find out who he was.”
Markus cracked a smile. For an officer of the law, Connor did so love to push his limits. No android could match him in curiosity. He only wished the circumstances could maintain that amusement.
“So why did you call me?”
Connor paused, long and noticeable for someone with an advanced processor. The detective answered after another hesitant moment. “His only listed emergency contact was Carl Manfred.”
“Yes,” Markus said, lingering on the past tense of Connor’s sentence. He covered his face and dug his fingers into the space under his eyes. “Again, why did you call me?”
“I was under the impression Mr. Manfred was your father,” Connor said. “As his family, I assumed you would like to be informed of Leo’s condition.”
Markus did not answer.
“I thought you might not have been called due to either your current status in Jericho or because you hadn’t had a chance to be added to his contact list.” Connor asked, voice soft and confused, “Was I wrong?”
“No,” Markus said. He closed his eyes and pressed his forefinger and thumb between them. He couldn’t blame the detective for what had been a fair assumption. Connor had no idea what Markus’ relationship with Leo had been like. “No, thank you for telling me, Connor. My relationship with Leo is rather strained, so I guess it’s taken a moment for what you told me to sink in.”
“That’s alright,” Connor said. “I feared I was overstepping my boundaries as it was, but it felt better to risk it, just in case.”
“I appreciate it,” Markus said. He placed his hands on the table for a moment to steady himself before he packed away his things. “Do you know why he’s in the ICU?”
“No, sorry. My scan gives me access to his identification and police record, not his health records.” Connor paused once more. “Though if it brings you any comfort, it does not look to be Red Ice related. He has none of the outward signs of use.”
Markus doubted Leo could afford it.
Carl’s will had stated Leo wouldn’t receive a cent of money until he’d proven that he had been clean for a year.
“I’m sorry, Markus, but it looks like I have to go,” Connor said, amusement slipping into his voice. “Hank realized I was having two conversations at once and he has politely asked I hang up.”
“I wouldn’t want to keep him waiting,” Markus said. “Give him my regards, would you?”
The internal line cut off and Markus sat back in his chair and looked over the empty desk he’d cleared.
Markus hated it, but he knew what Carl would have wanted him to do. He could check on Leo and make sure he wasn’t dying.
He got up from his chair and sent a message to the others to let them know he was going out, but did not mention where.
“North is going to kill me.”
Markus abused his position of power to convince a nurse to let him into the ICU.
While he’d help pave the way for android rights, there was little to be done for things of the past. No matter what his relationship with Carl had been, on paper and in legal matters, Markus had no claim to the man or his relations.
As far as far as the hospital was concerned, Leo and Markus might as well have been strangers.
“Thank you,” Markus said, nodding to the nurse that had led him to the ICU. Hank had been moved to a regular room earlier that morning, so Markus did not see Connor on his way. He felt grateful that Lieutenant Anderson was healing well, not only for the older man’s health, but because it meant Markus was alone with his thoughts. The temptation to call Connor for support was still there, but he had to do this alone. Markus spared the nurse one more smile before he asked to be alone. “I appreciate it.”
“Of course, sir,” the nurse said, eyes alight with admiration. “Let me know if you need anything.”
His fellow android left, leaving Markus in the doorway of Leo’s room. He counted to ten in his head before he dared to turn around and look. Markus took a step inside and gripped his hands into fists at his side.
The man looked small and frail in the bed, thin and stretched out with too many monitors attached and a breathing tube in his nose.
Leo looked like Carl.
“This was a mistake,” Markus whispered.
He took a seat in the guest chair anyway and waited for Leo to wake up.