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What's in a name

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23 YEARS AGO - PM 05:14:23

“Mom, look!” A thirteen year old Gavin Reed, all knobby knees and excitement, waved a trophy around as he skidded into the kitchen. “Our team won today. I’m the MVP, so they let me keep the trophy!”

“That’s nice, dear.” Mrs. Reed smiled distractedly, barely reacting. It dimmed Gavin’s mood significantly, but he wasn’t going to let it ruin his day. His mom hadn’t praised him since...well. Speak of the devil. He glanced to the kitchen counter, where his cousin was currently sitting--nose buried in a book as usual. “Don’t make too much of a fuss though, your cousin is studying. Did you know he’s going to attend Colbridge?”

Gavin’s hand lowered. “Colbridge?” he parroted.

Elijah Kamski, his cousin--they took him in after Gavin’s aunt and uncle (Elijah’s parents) were done with him. He didn’t know the details--was too young to properly understand--but it had something to do with the very fact that Elijah was so gifted. He had felt bad for him then. Nobody deserved to be left out like that, especially by their own parents. But in the past two years that he had tried to befriend his cousin, Elijah had barely acknowledged him--choosing instead of stay in all day and immerse himself in whatever thick textbook he was in the middle of that particular day.

Needless to say, after a while, Gavin stopped trying.

Then--pity morphed to envy as his parents slowly gravitated more and more towards the genius child of their new family.

Envy was morphing into something uglier--something nasty. Gavin didn’t like to think about it.

“Colbridge University,” Elijah finally spoke, his voice quiet and measured as usual. He was much too contained for a young teenager, and Gavin could tell that with his standoffish attitude, he didn’t have many (if any at all) friends his own age. Their own age. “I’ll be attending in the fall.” He flipped another page quietly, seemingly oblivious to the proud beam that Mrs. Reed was currently shooting his way.

Gavin set the trophy down on the counter.

“Dear, I’m preparing dinner, please don’t put that there.”

An ache--a familiar one now. “Okay, mom.” There was a click in the door, and Gavin whirled around.

His father must be home. Short fingers wrapped around the trophy’s stem, and he sprinted for the door, spirits lifted once again. “Dad!”

“Hey, champ,” Mr. Reed greeted with a grin as his son knocked into his body, sending them both backwards. He steadied Gavin by the shoulders. “Whoa, what’s with the hurry?”

“I won MVP today in our final soccer match.” Gavin waved the trophy at him, grinning back.

“That’s great!” Mr. Reed mussed his dark brown hair, a match for his own. Gavin had gotten most of his features from his dad--but the grey eyes were all his mom. That was one thing Elijah didn’t have--the family resemblance. He pushed the jealous thought away from his mind guiltily. It wasn’t Elijah’s fault that he was so smart. It just meant Gavin had to try harder in other areas to make up for it. “I’m proud of you.”

Shaking himself out of it, Gavin tightened his grip around his new trophy. “Thanks, dad!” It didn’t matter. He could still make his parents proud. He still had his friends at school--and he was no slouch when it came to academics or sports.

But Elijah was always better, a traitorous voice whispered at the back of his mind.

Gavin shoved it away unceremoniously, following his dad into the kitchen as Mr. Reed loosened his tie and set down his briefcase. He worked as a businessman, and Mrs. Reed was an accountant. Both were relatively successful in their fields--the only thing that allowed them to take in Elijah when his own parents had run off.

“What about you, Elijah?”

Gavin tuned back into the conversation just as Mr. Reed asked Elijah about his day. He wandered around the side of the room, looking for a place to put his trophy down.

“I didn’t do much today.” Elijah didn’t even look up, still absorbed in--Gavin took a peek at the nonsensical title--The Master of Algorithm by Pedro Domingos. “Just read.” As usual, his answers were short and to the point.

“Did you hear?” Mrs. Reed, who was still neatly dicing carrots for tonight’s meal, smiled fondly in Elijah’s direction. “Elijah got into Colbridge. He’s going to be studying under Amanda Stern--that new up and coming AI professor.” There was pride practically leaking from her tone, and Gavin squeezed his eyes shut as if it could block out the sound.

Just keep trying, he told himself. You’ll get there. And when you do, that smile will be aimed at you again.

“Wow, that’s amazing, Elijah.” Mr. Reed beamed, moving forward to ruffle Elijah’s brown hair--before thinking better of it and lowering his hand. Gavin stood at the sidelines. It was like they had forgotten his existence; not for the first time since Elijah had been brought into their family. “We should go somewhere special to celebrate this. That’s huge.”

Just keep trying, just keep--

But as he watched the warm scene in front of him unfold, his own trophy hanging limply from his hand, for what seemed like the millionth time…

Gavin Reed, at age thirteen, saw for himself just how unfair the world could be.



PRESENT DAY - AM 09:42:13

Gavin nursed what felt like his tenth cup of coffee for that morning--except it was only his second. Thanks to Markus’s revolution, although cases in previous areas had certainly decreased, the new android workforce (paid, this time) meant an entirely new set of headaches as the department underwent massive restructuring.

At least it wasn’t that puppy-dog plastic prick Connor heading the new android police force. It was a no-nonsense female android--one he distinctly recognized as a WR400 Traci model--named North. He somewhat recognized her from news broadcasts back when everything was still going on, but nonetheless, she had demonstrated her abilities. Gavin begrudgingly respected her. Just a little.

He took another sip of his coffee.

While his job was no longer under threat, there was the issue of what had been his upcoming promotion. Despite his assistance at CyberLife Tower, and Markus speaking on his behalf, Captain Fowler--that insufferable jackass--had only said “I’ll think about it” in regards to Gavin moving up the ranks.

God, if that prick Connor with all those abilities programmed into him got to a higher up position before he did--


Gavin glanced up, nearly knocking over his cardboard cup. “Fuck,” he hissed, wincing at the hot liquid that sloshed over the side and splattered against his hand. He quickly shook it off, trying to cool it down.

Fowler was looking at him through a crack in the glass door of his office. “Get in here. I’ve got something to tell you.”

The detective fumbled around his desk, finally finding his tissue box and ripping out a few sheets, hastily wiping down the coffee spill. The hell was this about? Fowler didn’t exactly sound happy--but then again, he never did.

For a moment, the nagging fear of losing his job took over him again.

No, he reminded himself. That was done. Androids were being paid now--which meant there was little benefit to laying off human employees. And as long as he didn’t have to work with one, it was all fine and dandy.

Two minutes and some more cursing later, Gavin rapped his knuckles on the door of the office. Fowler gestured for him to come in. “Reed, I have a new case for you to investigate.” He shoved the file over. “It looks a little complicated, and Hank’s working on something else right now. You’re my next best.”

A backhanded compliment at the most. Gavin wanted to roll his eyes at the mention of Hank. Of course--Fowler’s best friend and practically his alcoholic pet project of a work in progress. Despite the lieutenant coming in late almost every day for years (up until recently), he had always gotten nothing more than a slap on the wrist for it, while Gavin had to work his ass off to get to where he was.

Call him bitter. He didn’t care.

“It’s a string of cases that we think might be connected, so you won’t be working this one alone. We’ve gotten a few leads, but they’ve all gone cold. If you can actually manage to solve this one, you’ll be on the fast track for that promotion of yours.”

Gavin gaped, opening his mouth in shock before trying to speak--but Fowler raised his hand, indicating that he wasn’t done. His jaw shut with a click immediately, his heart pounding. Finally, what he had been working for was just beyond the horizon. It was just a few cases, what was there to be worried about? He was good at his job, he had the arrest record to prove it, and the ambition to drive it. He had this.

“Jericho has been working with the DPD to try and get androids more integrated and this is a perfect opportunity--ah.” Fowler glanced over Gavin’s shoulder. There was the quiet sound of the door opening behind him. “Good timing.”

Gavin frowned, turning.

Fowler gestured between them. “Detective Reed...”

Cold, slate grey eyes met his own. A face that uncannily resembled Connor’s, but with a stronger jawline and attached to a much taller and more imposing figure.

“Detective,” the RK900 greeted in a smooth monotone.

Gavin was speechless again--and this time, not in a good way. He barely registered Fowler’s next words, even if he already knew what they were going to be.

God fucking damn it.

“ your new partner.”