Disclaimer: I don't own PR.
AN: I just really wanted Mack to have a mom.
Do Androids Have Moms and Dads?
Andrew Hartford hated to be so secretive where his son was concerned, especially after the year they'd had, but it was necessary. At least, that was what he told himself as he snuck into his room. Mack was downstairs regaling Spencer with a minute by minute account of their trip to Peru. Andrew had taken his toolkit upstairs, saying he had some artifacts to examine, but really he just needed to get down to the Ranger base without Mack knowing. He had known the secret entrance in his own room was a good idea. He twisted one of the bed posts and the wall behind it opened, revealing an elevator. Andrew stepped inside, his toolkit in his left arm and a small wooden box from his dresser in his right hand.
He'd taken three last minute flights and all of his Spring Break junior year in college to purchase it from an artisan in Sweden. His father had laughed when he'd seen that his son had spent a small fortune to obtain a seven dollar box. But Andrew had been determined. His grandfather had given his grandmother a box from the same store for their last anniversary and to Andrew's young mind the box had always been the ultimate symbol of true love.
The doors opened to reveal the secret base in pristine condition. Spencer no doubt kept the place clean in anticipation of the day it would be needed again. Andrew crossed quickly to the main computer, setting the box down gently before unfurling his tool kit. Inside were the tools he had been using on every expedition since before Mack had been created--and one bloodstained cloth. Mack had cut himself on a rock and Andrew had used the cloth to stop the blood flow until they could get out into the sunlight and stitch it up. The experience was one Andrew was not looking forward to repeating. He had sewn wounds before and was used to the sight of blood, but one of the benefits of having a robot son had always been not having to see him hurt.
Andrew quickly dropped the cloth into a slot in the computer and set it to work breaking down Mack's DNA. He'd wanted to analyze Mack's DNA ever since Mack had become human, but he hadn't wanted to reopen the so recently healed wound. Now he couldn't help himself. It was a lot of things, most of which had happened on their trip.
Mack had laughed. He'd laughed a thousand times before--at sitcoms, at Dax, at Spencer slipping on a banana peel--but apparently having real lungs and vocal cords had added something to the laugh, something very familiar. And then, to make things worse, Mack had asked Andrew the question he had been dreading ever since the truth had come out.
"Who is she?"
"Who?" Andrew asked, taking a bite of canned beans. He loved the taste of beans cooked in the can over an open fire and had been glad to find that Mack loved them as well, but Mack had been oddly quiet all night--until now.
"The woman in all the pictures. It's just--I'd hate to turn on the TV and see the woman I always thought was my mother making out with James Marsden or something."
Andrew sighed. "Mack, I don't think this is the time."
"All right," Mack said, hanging his head. "But--promise me this won't be like the whole robot thing."
"I promise, son."
Andrew was going to tell Mack, just as soon as he knew more. The computer beeped, informing him that the DNA analysis was complete. Andrew ignored it, preferring to examine the box. There was a carving of a rose on the top and a chip in one corner from the time she threw it at his head. He closed his eyes, remembering the way her voice cracked whenever she was angry, the way she cried at the silliest little things but couldn't shed a tear when-- Andrew's eyes snapped open. He could still remember the cold fear in the pit of his stomach when he had seen her lying on the asphalt. He had run into the street--the cars had all stopped after the accident so there wasn't much chance of him being hit, not that he cared. He pushed through the gathering crowd to kneel by her side. It took a moment for his mind to catch up with his heart, but when it did he began assessing her injuries. Her leg was broken badly and he couldn't set it without having someone hold her down. He couldn't see her torso but was certain from the blood on her clothing that there were some serious injuries there. The wound on her head was most pressing though. He gently lifted her head, ignoring the watchers who wondered if she shouldn't be moved. He could hear the ambulance in the distance and prayed it was for her. There was blood coming from her head, but the wound seemed small. If she was lucky there would be minimal damage.
Andrew shook his head, he didn't want to relive that day. He hurriedly turned to the computer, angrily wiping away tears. He had told the computer to analyze Mack's DNA in regards to parentage. Andrew had assumed that Mack's DNA had been reverse engineered to create a man who looked like Mack already did, but the results of the analysis didn't surprise him. He was Mack's father--genetically speaking. Andrew smiled. After all the trouble they'd had over the past year, Mack and Andrew's relationship needed this.
The comm system that ran throughout the house beeped. "Dad?" Mack's voice was faint. "Where are you? Spencer needs to know what you want for dinner."
Andrew ran to the wall, bumping the computer on the way and prompting it to go down to the next page of results. "Anything sounds great to me," Andrew said hurriedly, leaning his head against the cool stone wall.
"Are you sure, sir?" Spencer asked. "Or has master Mack finally gotten over his obsession with discovering if things taste any different now that he is human?"
Andrew considered this. "How about sandwiches? Peanut butter and jelly sound good to you, Mack?"
"Sounds great. I wonder what kinds of jelly we have."
Andrew could practically hear Spencer shaking his head in disgust. He laughed and turned around so he could lean more comfortably against the wall. His eyes went wide when he saw the computer screen. On it was a name he had not seen in years.
"Dad," Mack said, sliding down the fireman's pole, "did you think I wouldn't know you were down here? So, is there some sort of emergen-- what's wrong?"
"Nothing," Andrew said quickly, shaking himself and hurrying over to the computer.
"What's this?" Mack said, beating him to the mouse. "Who's Caroline Fitzwilliam?"
"Your mother," Andrew said stiffly.
Andrew picked up the box and slowly opened it. Inside was a ring, a diary, and a picture. Mack picked up the photograph.
"This is the woman in the photo album, the one you always said was my--"
"Mother. I was having the computer analyze your DNA. Genetically speaking, she and I are your parents."
"How are you human at all? I'm not really sure."
"Who was she?"
Andrew picked up the ring. "We met in college. For the longest time I couldn't stand her--and it didn't help that I couldn't get her out of my head. Eventually I figured out I was in love."
"She was hit by a car. Not a drunk driver, just a little old woman out with her misbehaving grandchildren." Andrew sighed, fingering the ring. "I had proposed the night before and she was coming to give me her answer. She was so excited that she ran across the street with only a cursory glance. She thought the woman had seen her and would slow down."
"You never knew her answer."
"She woke up for a few minutes at the hospital. She told me all she wanted was to have a family with me."
"So you made one."
"Mack, you have to understand. After she died--I stopped living. I fired everyone who worked for me and lived all alone in this big house. Eventually Spencer came back--he was the butler when I was a child and I suppose he decided to take matters into his own hands. He got me back out into the world. I went to parties, made new business deals--but my heart wasn't in it. And then, one day I saw that little old woman again. She told me how sorry she was, how she couldn't bear to drive anymore. We really got to talking, spent the whole day in this Italian restaurant. She told me about her family and I realized that I wanted one of my own."
Mack smiled at his father.
"You have her eyes, you know."
"Yeah. And her laugh."