Love Him in My Absence
No matter how many times he’d glanced through the letter currently resting on his lap openly, Gavin Reed knew his brain was unable to fully process its deeper context and message. It wasn’t often that he received letters from his elderly, widowed mother, but whenever he had previously, it often consisted of dull, banal topics regarding the weather, his job, his unkempt, old apartment, the possibility that he should ask Captain Fowler for a raise, the fact that he was underweight, and then she would usually beg for him to come back home and live with her. The topics usually wavered and consisted of these natures, but the letter Gavin currently read over was so much different.
In fact, it was so different, that he suspected he’d imagined and dreamed it up. After taking a trip to the water fountains, then the washrooms where he splashed cold water on his face, made the walk back to his desk, stubbed his toes a few times, and slammed his elbows on the surface of the desk, he determined that this wasn’t a matter of him being asleep or daydreaming. But did he ever wish for it to be a dream…reading the letter once again confirmed his worst nightmares becoming a reality for him, and for once in his entire life, Gavin Reed had no idea what to do even as far as a reaction went.
Peeking down at the contents of the letter, he read it over for the tenth time before he heard someone shuffling around behind himself. Smelling the putrid, powerful stench of tobacco, he rolled his eyes dramatically before swiveling himself around in his spinning chair.
Eyeing Lieutenant Hank Anderson with a dull, vacant expression, he croaked out, “What’re you doin’, Anderson?”
Stroking his beard almost sluggishly, the older male grumbled out, “Was on my way over to ask you for an extra smoke, but I couldn’t help but read that note you got there…”
A minacious glare came out of Gavin, then, but rather than attack Hank and bickering with him like he’d wanted to, he only stilled his trembling hands and sighed sadly. He was truly defeated, this time. He had no stamina and no energy to throw out a biting, acidic remark; he was truly lost, bewildered, and backed into the worst of corners. Not with Hank Anderson, no, but with the true nature of the troubling letter from his mother.
Motioning at it with a sharp nod, Hank muttered, “Can I read it closer?”
Staring a few times between the note and Hank, Gavin eventually relented. “Fuck it,” he mumbled brokenly, tossing the letter over into Hank’s hands, “knock yourself out! Fuck! When you’re done with it, you can also post it on the bulletin boards too in the staff room, I don’t give a shit.” He knew he was being a tad dramatic, but he really was unable to contain the rest of his anger and channel it out in a more ‘positive’ way as opposed to throwing his chair out a window or something.
He only resorted to sitting back and staring awkwardly at the floor while Hank read the note silently, his lips miming the words as his eyes swam over from left to right.
Already, Gavin had practically memorized the letter all on his own. It was going to be something he remembered for life.
‘My son, you are already thirty-eight-years-old, and next October, you will be thirty-nine. You’re still choosing to live the rough-and-tough ‘single life’, and I wouldn’t care a lot had I not stumbled upon your father’s last will and testament.’
Pausing here, Hank grunted out oddly, “Your dad’s dead, Reed?”
Scowling irritably, Gavin spat back, “Yeah, my old man croaked a few months back. Never attended his funeral or whatever because everyone would hear about it, snoop around, and fuck if I need anyone’s pity.”
Scratching his grey hair, Hank stated, “But Reed…that’s your dad…” Shaking his head in astonishment, he added, “You owe him something, at least.”
“I owe my dad shit,” Gavin couldn’t help but throw out emotionally. “He divorced my mom when I was barely ten, and then remarried the woman who raised the android-maker genius, Elijah Kamski.”
Yes, the really annoying part was that hardly anyone out there really knew that Gavin’s stepbrother was the infamous Elijah Kamski. Both adult men had lived separate lives in general, perhaps each of them had been ashamed of their parents’ pasts. But now that Hank had heard it, his eyebrows rose up high to his hairline, and he shrugged as he waved a hand before the irritable, moody detective.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Reed,” he advised softly, “but let me finish this before my train of thought escapes me!”
“Whatever, old timer.”
‘Your father loved you all his life. Maybe he didn’t get to tell you enough times, but he wanted to see you happy and loved above all else. His last will and testament states this, as it was his dying wish. Perhaps if you visited him in the hospital, you would’ve had the opportunity to talk to him and reach an understanding.
He has left you this inheritance, Gavin, but it won’t come to you easily; not without his wishes and thoughts being considered and heard out by you. This could be yours, Gavin, and it is the one and only opportunity for you to possess something you always complained was your ‘natural born right’. This is a good chance for you to reconnect with the family legacy, Gavin.
I suppose you’re wondering now what the catch is…well, to be blunt, your father wished to see you married and settled down before the age of forty, and this is a wish that is attached to the inheritance.
In layman’s terms; no wedding? No money.
Last time I heard, you could really use some of that money; we both know they aren’t paying you too well at the DPD.
Lowering the page, Hank let out a dull snort, “She’s kinda right.” Pointing at the rest of the note, he hurriedly finished reading it.
‘See to it that these conditions are met if you want to see a single penny, and remember, Gavin; we love you, and your father didn’t mean to hurt you. Everyone has a different path in life, and while your father and I struggled, you should know that we tried our best to make it work out. He found his true happiness elsewhere, however, and I found mine, too.
Now, it’s your turn to find yours.
Whistling as he turned away from the letter and finally gazed at Gavin, Hank pointed at the note and cried out, “That’s brutal…so your dad left you a pretty good amount of dough, and you’re not allowed to access it unless you get married?!”
Nodding slowly, Gavin pressed out through tightly clenched teeth, “Yeah, that’s the gist of it, so it seems.”
With squinty eyes displaying nothing but raw confusion, Hank handed him back the letter as he inquired, “But Reed, no offense here,” he held up his hands, as if Gavin had him under gunpoint, “but you don’t seem like the marriage type!”
“I’m not,” Gavin admitted, “and besides, I haven’t had a normal relationship with a woman in like…fuck…” He turned beet red, not wanting to admit it, but it came out anyway in a tiny croak, “…In like five years…”
Hank rolled his eyes, “Weren’t you seein’ Tina a while ago?”
Gavin hid his face behind a hand. “No, Anderson,” he pressed out painfully, trying to push out the horrific memory and images from his mind. “I told you; it was just an awkward ‘almost-one-night-stand’.”
Hank grunted, “The fuck is an ‘almost-one-night-stand’?”
Soon, another pair of footsteps approached, and a long hand tapped Hank on the shoulder before a blue LED light practically blinded the two humans. “It means Gavin almost slept with Officer Chen, Hank!” Connor sang out cheerfully. “I remember that night! They were both so drunk after the DPD dinner!”
Gavin waved a hand at them, “Stop gossipin’ like girls and tell me how the fuck I’m supposed to—” He paused, only then taking note of how easily Connor had joined in the conversation. Peeved, he glared at Connor as he hissed out coldly, “Connor, you haven’t been goin’ through my mail again, have you?”
Connor had recently quit working in the homicide unit, and when Hank chose to retire and just do some odd jobs around the DPD, the friendly RK800 chose to rope him into his own personal suggestion of applying to work in the mail room. It worked out for the pair, but not without the cost of the nosy RK800 sometimes rifling through people’s letters.
When Connor looked down and suddenly held a penitent gaze in his large, dark brown eyes, Gavin threw his arms up in the air and rose from his chair. “Fuck it,” he hissed, “I need a cigarette.”
Connor’s jaw fell, “I thought you were going to quit?”
“Nah, I can’t now,” Gavin retorted, hands and fingers fumbling and shaking as he dug deeply within his dark brown sweater and searched for the only source of his relief and comfort. When he found his lighter and cigarettes, he let out a strained sigh of relief. Now, he needed to go somewhere quiet and peaceful so he could gather his thoughts, ruminate on his shitty situation, and try to come up with a solution to all this.
Maybe he could reason with his mother…but too bad his father was six feet under. Son of a bitch. Of course, he wouldn’t ever leave the Earth without taking one last jab at Gavin, and the detective found he had a new reason altogether to despise his father once again.
Shoving his chair out of the way, he zipped himself up and made his way through the bullpen, hoping the late autumn weather wasn’t going to be too cold for a quick smoke break. On the way towards the exits, he nearly ran into Captain Fowler just as the man had been descending from his office steps.
When their eyes met, Captain Fowler threw Gavin a heated glare, and then nodded suspiciously at him, “Where are you off to, Reed?” He interrogated the other man, “Your break ended twenty minutes ago!”
Throwing his hands in the air, Gavin grunted uncomfortably, “Jeffrey, can you just give me another break for a bit? I’m going through some tough shit, alright?”
Stepping up closely towards him aggressively, Captain Fowler growled, “You don’t dare tell me what you need and don’t need, you fr—” When he took note of Connor and Hank waving their hands at him and shaking their heads in anger, he froze, and then pointed at them. “The hell are you guys saying?!”
Not in the mood to deal with this any longer, Gavin quickly pushed past Fowler, and he tore towards the exits. His ears caught sounds of Hank, Connor, and Jeffrey Fowler screaming back and forth at one another, but he couldn’t give two shits what they were yammering on and on about.
Right now, he needed air, his cigarettes, and he needed to think.
Soon, the red ‘exit’ sign loomed in the distance, and as Gavin finally reached it, he fished out a fresh cigarette from his package. Holding it firmly between his teeth, he shoved the door open, and he stepped outside in a jiffy.
The cool autumn air greeted him, accompanied by the orange, yellow, and light green hues and colors. The trees were all either yellow or orange in leaf color, and others had fallen in large heaps and piles as the wind picked up the stray leaves and blew them about in a lovely array of dancing patterns and colors swishing about. In the top of some trees, due to the leaves falling, Gavin was able to see crow nests and other bird nests. Their young had long since abandoned the comfort and protection of the nests. Down the streets, a few stores and shops had already given in to the pre-Halloween season. Majority of these stores and shops had decorated their windows and perimeters with Halloween items and décor, and although it was still too early in the month of October, Gavin felt it didn’t seem too ‘off’ for the decorations to be there already.
It was only October 11th, and the detective could hardly believe that just four days ago, he’d turned thirty-eight. Time was slipping. He knew that he wouldn’t have much more of it to go ‘wife-shopping’.
Christ…when had he started thinking about shit like this?!
‘Wife hunting’?? Is that what his life’s work had all boiled down to?! Working his skin off, setting up and establishing a good, strong career for himself, finding his own place in the world, only to struggle with bills, finances, socialization, and now he had to settle down and open up to someone else about his quirks, kooks, and pet peeves?! Was he even ready for all that?!
Marriage was really not his cup of tea!!! Hank had been right!!! Gavin didn’t do a lot of dating in his youth, and he knew why that was so. A few therapists had called it ‘abandonment issues and commitment issues’, and they claimed it stemmed from the fact that his father had divorced his mother when he was so young.
For the most part, Gavin always pushed that sordid detail of his past out of his mind to the point where he’d convinced himself well enough that his dad really hadn’t been a part of the family that much. At one point, he’d stopped writing and emailing his dad, and then began cutting off other communication and connection ties.
No more phone calls, no more visits, he threw out every gift his father sent him in the mail every birthday, Christmas, and New Year. Soon, after almost half a decade of this routine, Felix Reed ceased to exist in Gavin’s mind. It was just himself he had to look out for. He was fine with it, as some people didn’t even have parents, and yet they turned out to be pretty decent people in society.
But he wasn’t sure if he was one of these people…
Realizing his cigarette had been burning away in the crispy air as he leaned against the cold bricks of the DPD building aimlessly, Gavin took a few long puffs from the burning cigarette while his eyes swam around the parking lot.
A wife…a wife…a partner?? He had to find a partner?!
All this was just so new and so random to him. How on Earth was he going to find someone to marry in just one year?!
Racking his brains for a few moments, he’d been so lost in his troubles and inner thoughts, that he’d failed to see a DPD police car pull in the parking lot. It parked quickly between two large, dark vans, and it sat idle for a moment before the engine turned off.
Racking his brains, Gavin went through a series of interesting emotions, each one just as riveting as its predecessor while he could do nothing except feel. He felt anger; he was angry with his father for abandoning him and his mother, and then leaving him with such a crazy, ridiculous notion that all this time he’d been a caring and loving parent who wanted Gavin’s true happiness by forcing him to marry someone. Gavin then felt exhilaration; he was excited he was owed a large sum of money. He found he really needed it in order to take better care of himself, and to try and look into a new apartment for his cats. Just last year, the stray he’d taken in got pregnant with a litter of six kittens, but the landlord had yet to find this out…things wouldn’t be pretty when he did.
Plus, bills kept coming and piling up, and Gavin had a lot of things on his plate he needed to address and take care of…if only he had the money!
Yes, this had all seemed like a gift sent down to him from the heavens above, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect and ideal. But of course, he knew how his father was, and the son of a bitch had to go and add this clause in…perfect.
Resisting the urge to kick at the wall behind himself, Gavin’s face held a pouty, troubled expression as he stared around the parking lot again. What the hell was he to do?! He couldn’t just pass this up!!! He knew his dad had been loaded ever since he married into Kamski’s rich, blue-collar family, and the chances were that the inheritance was a lovely package Gavin wouldn’t be able to accumulate if he lived three lifetimes over.
He needed it.
But what if he didn’t take it??
Thinking about what the possibility of that would entail, Gavin soon grew even more upset, and angrier. Yes, he had the option of saying ‘fuck it all’ and leaving the inheritance behind, but then what would happen to all that money??
Perhaps it would go to Elijah…
Fuck. That. Right. Off.
Shaking his head, Gavin put out his cigarette after he took his last puff, and he crushed it and wedged it beneath the heavy, thick heel of his boot. Every time he ground it harder and harder and deeper and deeper into the thick, dark pavement, Gavin imagined squishing and bashing his father’s face into the ground and dirt in much the same way. After all, the bastard deserved it for leaving his mother and gifting him with the fear that he wouldn’t ever find love and support; people would just leave him just like his dad had left.
He didn’t need his money.
But it was money he was owed…it was his rightful money, and there was no way he was going to sit there and let Kamski have it…
Gavin sighed out to himself sadly, “Guess I better turn on the dating apps again…” snickering softly, he checked his phone for a brief moment, but then heard a car door opening and slamming shut quickly. It caught his attention, and as he glanced up, he saw the tall RK900 android known as ‘Nines’ walking towards the door.
The android wasn’t Gavin’s personal favorite friend, and they weren’t at all chummy. Truth be told, Gavin had a better and closer friendship with Connor than he had with Nines, but he couldn’t say they were mortal enemies, either. They just avoided one another for the most part, and frankly, Gavin didn’t really understand why. It just…it just happened that way, and he didn’t bother questioning it before or changing it around; it just was, so he went along with it until it became carved and ingrained into the quotidian lifestyle at the DPD.
From the time he’d been introduced to Nines, the android had just been…awkward. Gavin despised labeling it that way, but he couldn’t supply another word at all. It was just all so ‘awkward’ when it came to Nines. The sour android hardly spoke to him, but for some reason, he was amicable enough with others. Not particularly close with anyone or any other android, Nines came in to work in silence, and at the end of the day, he would leave in silence as well. He was very good at what he did, and he seemed eager to have anyone else’s back and support people through their duties.
No one could complain about him, and no one really did. Even Gavin put away his childish ‘battle’ with androids, and he soon found he got along mildly well with Connor now that the RK800 was always in the mail room and basement, and Nines was hardly ever immobile to even be spoken to, really. He was always on the move; always on the go.
But was he really as eager to help out as others claimed he was???
Catching him out of his peripheral vision at the last minute before he breezed by, Nines merely nodded in a curt, cold greeting at Gavin. “Detective.”
Dressed head to toe in all black clothes, Nines headed inside the DPD without another word uttered. However, he didn’t need to say or do anything; Gavin was already thinking, and the gears of his brain were working and spinning quite fast.
Technically, according to the last will and testament his father had laid out for him, he had to get married, yes, but there wasn’t any mention of a ‘real, legitimate’ wedding, was there??
Smirking to himself for his cleverness and witticism, he hummed as he leaned against the wall and said to only himself, “It doesn’t have to really be a true wedding, Gavin!! It can be a pretend one!! How will my mom know??”
It was a brilliant plan, and the moment he’d seen Nines walking by, he’d then realized just how wonderful and brilliant it was.
He had his ‘partner’; he had his ‘target’.
Nines owed him a big favor for a very good reason, and he was going to make use of it.
Two years ago, when Gavin saved Nines from a stray bullet during a hostage negotiation situation, the RK900 had promised that he would return the favor one day if Gavin ever needed him to do so. Well, it just so happened that today was the day he needed that favor.
Grinning up at the sky, Gavin headed back inside the DPD with renewed hope and with determined purpose.