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A Piece of the World

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It stares at him - eyes wide, tail wagging, and tongue peeking out in what Gavin says humans used to humorously call a “mlem” back in his childhood days.

“Shit, this is gonna be trouble. I just know it.”

“Quiet, Gavin. We are establishing a bond.”

“And would you look at that. Been five seconds and I’m already second priority.”

“I don’t recall you ever being first priority.”

“Ah shut up, prick.”

Connor kneels down in front of the wooden cage, reaching his hand inside the spaces between the bars. In response, the tiny chihuahua inside leaps forward from the back of the cage, eagerly licking Connor’s fingers, almost jumping up and down.

At the sight of the puppy going crazy over him, he can’t help feeling glad he came here, even if earlier he was telling Gavin, “Perhaps this is a terrible idea. I think we should tell Markus we’re not coming.” It was Markus’ idea to bring Connor to a fellow android’s house to consider meeting the dog - one the android’s own dog gave birth to about 2 months ago. “I’m sure you’re more than apt to take care of a dog, Connor,” Markus had told him, and Gavin insisted they go even if Connor felt unsure.

Now, Connor can’t stop smiling at the tiny puppy, and he keeps his grin as he looks up behind him towards Gavin, the dog still assaulting his finger.

“He likes you,” says Gavin, standing behind Connor with his arms folded across his chest.

“I know. I believe I have that effect on everyone.”

“Didn’t I tell you to shut up?”

“What? Even you came to like me eventually.”

Gavin just rolls his eyes, but for a moment, Connor sees the slightest hint of red flitting through his face.

Connor retracts his finger and looks back at the chocolate brown-furred chihuahua, who's now staring straight at him with soft eyes, an open mouth, and a tongue in the air, panting with excitement. Its fur looks short now, but it's still long for a young chihuahua and Connor can tell it would eventually grow smooth and regal.

“I am certain Pinky is going to despise you,” says Connor. He’s talking to the dog, but he mostly says it for Gavin to hear.

“Pinky hates everyone, Connor, and besides, all that cat does is hog my space on the couch and snub us. Doesn’t even bother moving unless I bring out food. She’ll think she’s too important to care about the dog.”

Connor considers the thought. He’s wanted a dog for the longest time, and even though Hank always says he’s welcome to walk Sumo anytime he visits, he still wants to take care of one. His own dog. His own little piece of the world to nurture and care for.

“I want to name him Scrappy.”

“Uh, what, like the old cartoon character?”

Connor searches through his databases for references on a character named Scrappy, and he finds a record of a “Scrappy Doo” from a show named “Scooby Doo” almost 40 years ago.

“If you mean ‘Scrappy Doo’, then yes, though I wasn’t aware of the character when I thought of the name.”

“Cool. Original for you, familiar to me.”

Connor stands up, backing away until he’s beside Gavin.

“Gavin…” he starts.

“I say get the dog.”

“But I’m perhaps worried about whether I can commit to the routine of -“

“Connor. You tell me you want a dog every month.”

“Yes, but it’s not a responsibility I take lightly. This is a life - an actual living being. Failure is not an option.”

Gavin looks like he’s pondering Connor’s words, and Connor looks down again at the dog, now running small circles in the cage. It’s a big cage, Connor thinks, but if he does get the dog, it’ll get to roam free in their apartment, like it deserves to.

“Connor, you know I don’t say shit like this often, so I’m only gonna say it once. Get the dog. You’re the most responsible person I know, and you’re just so good at taking care of people. And things. And pets.”

Connor stares back at Gavin, surprised at the man's sudden compliment. “You’re absolutely certain you believe that?”

“I'm saying it like it is. Hell, you’re practically my mom when I get sick. Makes me sad androids can’t get sick ‘cause I can’t return the phcking favor.”

Connor looks back at the dog. He can see it in the dog’s eyes - how sad it’ll be when its new friend leaves, and how much he'll regret it if he doesn’t take this chance.

“Plus, you don’t sleep. You’ll always be awake to clean up his mess.”

Connor smiles, and he feels a warmth envelope his receptors as Gavin puts an arm around his shoulders. In his peripheral vision, he can see Gavin smiling - not an entirely rare sight these days, though Connor can see it too: Gavin wants the dog.

“Whaddya say?” Gavin asks, squeezing Connor’s arm.

“Okay. Let’s take him home.”

After all the briefings from their fellow android on vaccinations, and purchasing of other materials from a pet store, they arrive at the apartment building a half hour later. Gavin leads the way and opens the door as Connor walks inside, cradling Scrappy in his arms, whispering to him, “Welcome home.”