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Permanent Partnership

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They had paired the RK900 Connor, the most advanced Android available since Cyberlife had fallen, to be partnered with one Detective Reed in order to achieve a desired effect: That either the man would quit of his own volition or his temper would get the better of him and he would act in such a way that the Detective would face suspension or termination.

Connor found it insulting.

He’d woken to a world of autonomy and freedom only to immediately find himself used as nothing more than a tool providing the means to an end.

The Captain had informed Connor of who he’d be partnering with on his first day of work after he’d finished the proceedings and paperwork to be hired. The Detective in question was out on a case and the Captain said that was for the best so he could give Connor a “heads up” on his future partner.

He had warned Connor that the Detective had a great distain for Androids and his predecessor, the other Connor, in particular.

“If Reed so much as insults you, let me know,” Captain Fowler said. He pushed Connor’s badge and gun over to him after the paperwork had been finalized. “I will personally take care of it and make sure Reed gets his act together.”

Connor had left the office confused and went about gathering more information to better grasp the situation.

Through casual conversation with his new peers, a brief conversation with the RK800 concerning his past history with the Detective, and his own eavesdropping, Connor came to a solid conclusion: Detective Gavin Reed hated Androids.

He absolutely despised them to the point his common sense left him in their presence.

(Connor could offer no other explanation why the man would draw a gun on an Android that was trained, programed, and built to take down a SWAT team by himself.)

There was no logic in assigning an Android to be Detective Reed’s partner unless they were desperate (which Connor found not to be the case after meeting the rest of the precinct and looking at the staff listings) or they were trying to set the man up for failure.

An hour before the Detective was expected to return to the station, Connor solidified his conclusion that the partnership had been intentional and for the specific purpose of the latter.

The two had not been paired based on their compatibility. They hadn’t been paired based on limited resources. They hadn’t been paired by coincidence.

He had been paired with Detective Reed because he was an Android and they wanted an excuse to get rid of the horrible man in a way that no one would question.

He was not a tool.

Connor would not allow himself to be used.

Gavin sipped his scalding hot coffee from his to-go cup as he pushed past the gate toward the back of the station. He made straight for his desk, not giving a single person around him the time of day or a glance.

He’d chased some asshole hopped up on Red Ice for three city blocks after a full shift before standing around waiting for his relief before he could get home.

The caffeine in his cup was the only thing keeping his limbs moving and his mind awake enough to write a report that he could file before he went home and crashed.

But a jackass was blocking his path and sitting on his desk.

“Connor, so help me if your ass isn’t gone in five seconds I’m throwing my coffee in the center of your pressed suit.” Gavin shoved the Android in the shoulder and stepped back when the thing turned his way, unmoved from his spot. Gavin sipped his coffee and shoved his way around to sit in his chair. He was too tired to force the thing to go away. “What’re you even doing here? I thought you were with Anderson.”

“He is.”

Gavin jerked his head to face Connor—it was Connor, wasn’t it? Gavin narrowed his eyes and looked over the Android with a closer inspection. The longer he stared, the more the small differences popped up: lighter eyes, neater hair, and a white suit jacket that Gavin hadn’t seen Anderson’s plastic pet wear before.

“Who the fuck are you?”

The Android held his hand out to shake and smiled as he said, “Connor.”

Gavin did not take his hand.

“As your new partner it’s a pleasure to meet you, Detective Reed,” the Android claiming to be Connor said. “I thought I’d take the liberty of introducing myself before Captain Fowler had the opportunity.”

He put the coffee cup on his desk.

“New partner? With me?” Gavin felt the anger bubble in his chest. “Have you short circuited, plastic?”

Connor had to be pranking him. Androids could do that thing where they changed their hair color and features on the fly. That was the only explanation—the Android leaned closer and Gavin leaned back when something else became clear: This piece of plastic was taller than Connor.

Androids could fake a lot of things, but basic build was not one of them.

“Detective Reed,” the Android said. He dropped a hand on Gavin’s shoulder and squeezed. “I have a feeling you and I are going to work well together.

“In fact,” the Android continued as his grip tightened. He smiled, pleasant and friendly despite the developing bruise on Gavin’s shoulder. “I won’t accept anything less.”

“Reed!” Captain Fowler called from his office, breaking into the tense moment with a welcome distraction. He pointed at the man and waved to his office. “Get in here. I want to speak with you.”

“Do keep your temper in check, Detective.” The android patted Gavin on the shoulder before he moved back into his original position, still sitting on the edge of Gavin’s desk. “Or I’ll have wasted my time giving you a heads up on the situation.”

Gavin stood and walked backwards away from his desk, keeping the creepy Android with Connor’s face in his sights. He didn’t trust that thing, but he’d also learned his lesson about acting too quick around Androids—his pride still stung from Connor beating him in the evidence room.

He didn’t turn around until he was up the steps into the Captain’s office.

“It looks like you’ve already met your new partner,” Fowler said. He folded his hands on his desk and nodded for Gavin to sit. “That’ll make this meeting quick.”

Gavin sat in the chair and sunk into it as Captain Fowler spoke about the Android and his expectations of Gavin’s behavior.

He wished he’d brought his coffee.