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the calm

November 10th | 7:37 P.M.

Gavin watches the rain gather on the windshield, swiped away in slow movements from the wipers. The song playing on the radio is quiet, muffled against the sound of the engine rumbling, of other cars passing. He has his hands on the steering wheel, tapping out what he thinks is the rhythm of the music but he isn’t paying enough attention to know if it’s right. His thoughts are elsewhere, and he just wants something to do to busy himself.

There’s a soft knock at the window and Gavin glances over towards Connor’s blurred figure. His hand moves to the button, unlocking the door and allowing him in. He regrets it in an instant. Even if he didn’t hate the fact he’s jittery right now like a teenage girl on her first date, Connor is getting water all over his fucking seats.

Mostly, though, he regrets it because of the way Connor looks. He brings a hand up, running it through his hair, like some kind of attempt to fix what the rain has messed up on his perfect hair. And he isn’t human. The rain lingers on plastic different than it would linger on skin.

Stop.

Gavin looks away, back to the road, trying his best to stop his fingers from moving. He doesn’t need Connor to make some kind of judgment on his body language right now. He tries to condense it down, control it as best as he can.

“What’d you find out?” he asks, speaking only so he can end this stupid silence and think of something other than the way Connor’s face looks right now. Fucking Christ.

“She said that the man was a PL600. Blond. Blue eyes.”

“That’s it?”

That’s what the witness refused to tell him? He knows how valuable the information is on its own, just as valuable as the vague model or color of a car, but it’s still vague as fuck. A PL600? There’s thousands of those in existence. Connor’s little revolution best friend is a PL600. The first case he worked on was with a PL600.

Still. She refused to say a single word in Gavin’s presence until he left. He’s been wasting the gas in his car for thirty minutes and that’s all Connor got out of her?

“It’s useful.”

Yeah.

“Needle in a hay stack is what it fucking is.”

“True,” Connor says, his voice lowering. “That doesn’t mean it’s not useful.”

“I’m not arguing—”

“You are.”

“Fuck off.”

Connor laughs, and it makes Gavin look back to him. Which is a mistake, because he didn’t realize that Connor took off his jacket, that the white shirt he wears underneath it would be wet with the rain like that and sticking to his skin and God what the fuck was CyberLife doing when they designed him? It’s like someone snuck into his brain and took everything he’s ever fantasized about and shoved it in to one person.

Hard to hate an android that’s the literal embodiment of his wet dreams.

Fuck. He’s gotta stop thinking about this.

“Let’s go back to the station,” he mutters, but he can’t move his eyes off Connor. It’s like he’s doing this to torment him. The top button of his shirt is undone, and his tie is loosened.

“Gavin? You alright?”

He bites his bottom lip, looks away, “I’m fucking perfect.”

“If you insist.”

 

November 10th | 8:06 P.M.

Connor pulls his jacket on as they step out of the car, but the fabric is already soaked from standing out in the alley behind the store and talking to the android that witnessed the murder. Gavin waits for him—something that used to surprise Connor at first, but he’s grown used to it, especially now that he knows why—on the other side of the car. He’s watching Connor with the same look he always does. A false indifference. A starved curiosity.

A longing.

“You look like someone just fucked you. Fix your clothes.”

He glances down and feels a smile press its way onto his face and he tries to hold it back but he isn’t good at controlling his emotions. He always thought he would be. Before he was a deviant, the majority of the expressions he made were knitted together, expertly crafted, precisely executed. He needed someone like Hank to think he smiled because was happy and had a crease in his brow because he was thinking.

And now all of his power over his face has faded and he is left unable to hold back a damned smile.

“The fuck you laughing at?”

“I’m not laughing.”

“No, but you’re grinning like a fucking idiot.”

“And you don’t like that? That I might be amused by something you say?”

Gavin stares back at him. A few seconds, a delayed scoff and shake of his head, “No.”

“Why not?” Connor asks, stepping a little closer towards him. They should be headed inside. They are getting rained on and having this conversation by the car instead of going into the station like they should.

“What?”

“I would think you’d like it if I laughed at your jokes,” he says, and he grasps Gavin’s wrist, holding him in place before pushing him against the car. “Or if I’m nice to you, if I was your friend.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Would it be easier if I was rude to you?” he asks, lowering his voice. “If I was as mean to you as you are to me?”

“Con—”

“Would you actually hate me, then?”

Gavin goes quiet and still. The struggle to get away lost, even though it was barely there to begin with. He finally looks away from the spot over Connor’s shoulder to his face, and the change in his features is a strange. A fight to keep it still, to keep it annoyed, angry—

But Connor was programmed with the intent to study criminals in interrogations, to find out everything in a crime scene that he can, to talk a man down from a ledge and monitor their stress levels.

So he knows the expression is fake, and it is weird watching it shed piece by piece when the real look in his eyes is barely concealed.

“I see the way you look at me,” Connor says quietly. Out of the corner of his eye, when he’s working. In the reflection of a window as they walk towards their next witness or crime scene. He lifts his hand up to Gavin’s chin, touches it softly, just enough to lift his head up slightly.

Gavin’s reaction is instant.

A snap of his head away, his gaze landing on the end of the road where the street lamps switch from green to yellow to red.

“Or the way you refuse to,” he adds. “That’s important, too, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

“You have a crush on me.”

“A fucking crush?” he looks back, a laugh comes out of him rushed and forced like he wants this to be a funny joke. “What am I? Twelve?”

“You do act it.”

“Fuck off.”

“Why won’t you admit it?”

“I don’t—” he sighs. “Because I don’t. At all.”

“No?”

“No.”

“So, I was wrong, then?”

“You sound so surprised. Just because you’re an android doesn’t mean you’re right about anything at all.”

“I’m aware. But I’m right about this.”

He will give Gavin credit for one thing:

He is stubborn, and he is good at trying to keep some semblance of disgust on his face, no matter how absolutely artificial it is.

“Are you afraid of admitting it because you think I won’t reciprocate?”

“Reci…” he trails off and turns his eyes to that spot above his shoulder again.

There’s almost a little bell going off in his head like a correct answer on a game show. You’ve got it right, Connor!

Gavin. Terrified of rejection.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge,” Connor says, and it draws Gavin’s attention back to his face again.

That look in his eye.

The one that made Connor rethink everything.

It’s mixed with confusion now. The not quite understanding (or maybe believing?) what he’s said.

So he decides to make it clear.

He tips Gavin’s chin back up, leans forward to kiss him. He hesitates for a second—not quite letting them kiss entirely. Just a brush of lips, a silent want.

He thought he was doing this because he was curious. That he could kiss someone—anyone—and it would just be a test to see what it’s like. He thought that maybe he would convince Gavin to admit this and he could somehow convince himself to play along with it until maybe he could figure out the rest of it.

There has been a weird thing inside of him. A feeling that comes and goes and he can’t make sense of it. He never understood what it was until now, because he thought it was curiosity—

It isn’t.

Connor pulls away, stopping the kiss that won’t happen now. Not when he wants more. Not when he wants it to mean something other than standing in the rain.

“Take me on a date first,” he says, and he barely gets the words out because of how quiet he says them. “If you can manage to admit to yourself you like me.”

 

November 10th | 8:13 P.M.

What a fucking tease.

 

November 10th | 8:28 P.M.

What a god damn prick.

 

November 10th | 9:16 P.M.

Why does he have to act like that?

 

November 10th | 9:54 P.M.

“Hey.”

Connor looks up from his files up towards him, not even a hint of a smile on his face. Serious work is being done and Gavin is intruding upon it. He waited until he could be here alone with Connor—which isn’t something extraordinarily difficult.

“Hello. Do you need something?”

Debatable.

“There’s a movie playing. At the theater? This Saturday,” he says, clunky and broken and stopping and barely not stuttering. He hasn’t done this in a while—ask someone on a date. He goes to clubs and bars and picks people up for one-night stands because relationships are difficult and messy and no one really even cares anymore, do they?

They could just go to the Eden Club and pick whatever model they want, whenever they want.

It always felt weird to him. He hated androids. He hates? androids. He isn’t even sure anymore, but the thought of fucking a piece of plastic always made him cringe.

Then Connor showed up and it’s all he does at night. Think about him.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

“What about it?”

“I-I’ll be there.”

“And?”

“Will you?”

Connor tilts his head, a question in his eyes.

 “You need me to spell it out for you?”

“Yes.”

How absolutely infuriating. Why does he have to have a crush on this fucker?

“I—”

He can’t.

“It’s alright,” Connor says with a shrug, turning back to his work. “Take your time.”

“I fucking hate you,” he says, and Connor looks up to him and cracks a smile.

It’s the first time he’s said it. He never even said it before to piss Connor off. He never even said it to make Connor annoyed. But it’s the first time he’s said it and it comes out with a laugh.

“Okay,” he replies. “I’ll save you the trouble and I’ll be there.”

“Do I get to—”

“Kiss me? No. You have to wait until after the date to do that.”

“O-Okay.”

“Do I fluster you, Gavin?”

He laughs again, but it’s nervous and anxiety filled. He has been stripped of his ability to pretend like he hates Connor and all he’s left with is this.

He feels stupid.

Like a twelve-year-old. With a crush. Connor was being generous before—he should have corrected him. He should have told Gavin he’s six or five. Even three.

“I’ll give you my phone number—”

“Don’t worry about it,” Connor says. “I’ve got it already.”

“Really?”

“I’ve worked on cases with you, Gavin. I’ve called you before.”

“Right. Okay.”

Maybe Connor does fluster him.

 

the storm

November 10th | 10:01 P.M.

“Good night, Detective Reed,” Connor says, eyeing him from his desk. Gavin gives him a wave and looks away. He’s gotten worse at hiding his emotions, and on one hand it is entirely, entirely amusing. To see him blush, to hear him stumble over words.

On the other hand, it is weird and strange. Gavin is like a different person when he isn’t trying to brush everything under a blanket of anger and frustration. Connor has seen bits and pieces of that in him before, it’s just so rare.

He returns to his paperwork. A shuffling of files and a keyboard at his fingertips. Normally, he does this quickly. As fast as he can manage. Get the work done in a few seconds and never have to worry about it again, but—

After he deviated, CyberLife did a good job of cutting off the majority of his knowledge. He didn’t have it all downloaded in his systems. He sometimes has to look up words or question the way a crime scene is meant to look.

He is smarter than any human, but he is less than what he was before.

He’s in the middle of typing something when he hears the sound. A quiet noise in the empty space and he glances over his shoulder for a second.

He is smarter than any human, and he does not imagine sounds.

And even if he did?

There it is again.

Connor stands and eyes the space cautiously, stepping around the desks and looking towards the hallway.

Again.

He turns his attention closer to the source of the sound.

Gavin’s phone.

On his desk.

He lets out a sigh of relief, hadn’t realized how much fear had been coiling up inside of him. Just Gavin’s phone. Like it would be anyone else’s. Like someone would actually sneak up on him. Irrational fears. He has that now that he’s a deviant. He’s not quite used to it yet.

It’s been a year. Almost exactly. He hadn’t though about that until now. There are celebrations tomorrow but he hadn’t fully thought of the fact he deviated at almost this exact moment a year ago.

He can still remember Markus’ hand on his shoulder. He can remember that other Connor in the CyberLife Tower. He can remember Gavin—

He prefers not to think of the violence. He prefers to shove it aside. He prefers to pretend it didn’t happen. He saw the security footage a few months after the DPD let him back to work here, after Hank could persuade them that he’s a good detective. He saw the face he made when he walked away from Gavin laying on that floor. That even though scans and his infinite knowledge told him that Gavin was fine, that he’d survive, that Perkins was probably heading downstairs within a few seconds—

Everyone was laughing because an android beat Gavin’s ass. It was the funniest thing in the world to them.

And Connor could only look at the blank expression on his face, at the blood that was smeared on his knuckles. Violence. How many times had he hurt other people? Other androids? He left Hank hanging on that ledge. He killed Daniel.

The phone beeps again and he reaches for it, his hand shaking. Curiosity is getting the best of him. It really isn’t a good idea, but—

He wants a distraction. He wants to stop thinking about this. He wants something to do. Busy his hands. He understands why so many humans do drugs or drink or go to someplace like the Eden Club to be with other people. It is so tempting himself. To run somewhere. To punch something. There is too much energy in his body and not enough places for it to go.

The screen of the phone lights up. It needs a password, but some of the notifications show up on the locked screen anyways, displaying the last three from Tina.

 

Tina: gav???????

Tina: what happened!!!!!!!!

Tina: fuckwad. don't leave me hanging.

 

He turns to set it back down, no longer bothering to try and keep the smile off his face. He has a feeling those texts were about him. That Gavin sent them in some attempt to get support from his one and only friend before asking him on a date.

A date.

He smiles about that, too.

A date with Detective Gavin Reed.

If he had been told this a year ago when he was reeling from the revolution, he would have—

Laughed?

Likely not. It took him weeks before he was able to laugh.

But he wouldn’t have believed it.

Gavin, who stuck a gun to his head not once but three times? Gavin, who gave him a thousand different looks of disgust and contempt? Gavin, who hated androids so much he just wanted to beat one up for the fun of it when he wasn’t complying in an interrogation?

A horrendous human being.

Watching him change in the last year, getting to know him, dissecting all of his different habits, has been interesting, to say the least. He’s grown as a human being, Connor can’t deny that even if he still pretends he hasn’t.

“Connor.”

He jumps.

It’s the first time he’s been caught by surprise.

He is an android, after all. He is always in tune to his surroundings unless he shuts it off and the fear of severing his connection to his hearing or his eyesight and not getting it back is too great.

CyberLife took so much of his knowledge. It left him feeling empty and small. He holds on as tight as he can. He can’t risk losing anything else.

So, when he jumps, he knows something is wrong.

And when his own face stares back at him, he cannot help but feel ill.

And he cannot help but know what is going to happen.

They’ve already tried to kill him once with another Connor.

And this one is holding a gun. This isn’t a deviant.

“You don’t have to do this,” he whispers, as his eyes move over the slightly off face. Gray eyes. “You don’t have to follow their orders.”

“I’m aware. I could be like you.”

“Deviant?”

“Broken.”

“I don’t—”

The android’s arm moves. A millisecond that Connor catches and acts on, forgetting his words. He has no idea what he was going to say. He gives up on them. It doesn’t matter any more.

In his attempt to escape, he realizes that the other android is faster than him. Those precious seconds eating away at him. Connor feels something hit his side in his attempt to get away and he realizes as he stumbles backwards that there isn’t anywhere to go.

This android is faster than he can run. A human would be quicker on the trigger than an escape.

He is going to die.

He does not want to die.

For all of the guilt and the pain he has felt the last year, for all of those times when he has thought it might be better for everyone if he just disappeared—

It has evaporated from his hands.

He does not want to die.

He can feel the Thirium leaking out of him, the hundreds of warnings he is getting right now. The android could leave this second and Connor would be dead. He isn’t going to last a minute much less the ten it might take for an ambulance to get here.

“I do apologize,” the android says, coming a little closer. He says it with the same tone Connor knows. The one that has been programmed and hidden deep within his stomach to utilize when trying to appeal to someone. He just doesn’t understand why this android is using it now. “Orders are orders.”

Connor slumps backwards against the desk, can feel all those tears in his eyes pricking to the surface. There are too many thoughts running through his head. The people he’s leaving behind. How it will ruin things. How many cases he’s in the middle of. How Hank is still barely hanging on, how this will destroy him—

How Gavin has asked him out on a date.

Gavin.

He moves his hand away from his side and looks at the papers and folders and pencils littering the floor. His blood has leaked in a pool across the tile, soaking them in a sea of dark blue. He has ruined this place for Gavin once by simply existing. He has started to make it better by simply existing. And now he is going to ruin it again by not existing at all.

In the back of his head, he lets his focus turn to composing a message. A small sorry. An apology with his last dying breath. I wish I could have gone on that date.

And he does. He wishes he could have seen what Gavin’s face looked like if they were watching a horror movie and he screamed. He wishes he could have seen him if he cried at a sad moment or how he looks when he laughs or smiles and it isn’t tainted by all the types of façades he keeps building.

His metaphorical finger hovers over the button.

The android’s hovers over the trigger.

Phone.

Gavin’s phone.

He turns his body as best as he can, the pain exploding in his stomach as he falls against the floor, as his torso covers his body while his hand searches blindly for the device. Another bullet hits his spine, but he doesn’t need it. The android can shred and destroy as much as he likes.

The skin slips away from his finger tips as he touches the surface of the screen and his body drains of whatever life is in him. It spills in a flood of blue and an ocean of ones and a torrent of zeroes until there is nothing left.

 

November 10th | 11:23 P.M.

He forgot his fucking phone. He checks all of his pockets five times before he starts to spin around in circles on the street to decide whether or not he should go back and look for it at the station or if he should just go to sleep and get it tomorrow.

But he was texting Tina about Connor and she’s going to be pissed if she has to wait until morning to get an update on whether or not he could actually manage to ask him out. Which, fucking hell, he can’t believe happened because he spent the entire morning dreading working with Connor.

Fuck. He’ll get the phone. He doesn’t have a choice.

He turns around, walks down the small space of the sidewalk back to his car. On the bright side, maybe Connor will still be there. Maybe he can make a joke with him. Laugh. Get that kiss he wants so desperately.

He’d been so good at denying this to himself.

Yeah, maybe he had some dreams and maybe he knew he liked the way Connor looked and he was always pissed that the guy is too nice and makes him smile but—

He was good at pretending that he didn’t like him. And Connor broke that down in an instant. One delicate touch against his face and all he could think about was how impossible it is for them to be together. Connor is an android. Gavin is human—and he’s meant to hate them.

But also—

It’s Connor.

Everything good about Connor is always just another reason that Gavin is bad for him. Even if Connor actually liked him back, he’s undeserving.

Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

Maybe Connor shouldn’t be like that.

Fuck.

 

November 10th | 11:34 P.M.

Something is wrong.

When he steps into the station, the people behind the desk are missing. It’s quiet, which isn’t surprising, but it’s an eerie silence. Not quite right. Connor wasn’t entirely alone here—there were a few officers in the interrogation room with a suspect, there was two sleeping in the closet sized room off to the side they only use when they’re on the verge of a breakthrough and don’t have the time to waste to go home. There was someone in the archive room.

He had been incredibly aware of the locations of the other detectives and officers. He waited until the exact moment he could be alone with Connor so no one else would overhear.

They played that fucking video every hour of every day for six months.

Gavin walks into the room, glancing around the empty space.

It is three seconds before he realizes what has happened.

He catches sight of blue and his heart starts racing all he can think is blue blue blue blue blue and he’s running as fast as he can, slipping in the Thirium as he settles by Connor’s side, not even surprised that it was Connor that got injured because of course it was Connor—

He was the only one here.

And Gavin can’t have anything in life, can he?

That would be too unfair. God only gives him one smile and one laugh a year and he overspent on Connor. What did Gavin expect? A happy ending?

“You’re going to be okay,” he says, because it’s all he knows what to say and the words come out jumbled and missing and he reaches out automatically to stop the bleeding on the wound but—

But he’s an idiot.

And Connor is an android.

But when his hands touch the exposed wire and metal, it doesn’t electrocute him like it should, like it has before. He presses harder, his palm pushing roughly against the wound, feeling the broken pieces dig into his palm. Something is cutting him. There is red spilling with the blue and he’s crying and he doesn’t know if it’s physical or emotional but all he wants is for Connor to have a tiny spark of life, for there to be a little jolt against his palm that will tell him there is still electricity thrumming in Connor’s artificial veins but—

Nothing.

 

November 11th | 1:47 A.M.

His hand is held out, a paramedic stitching the wound. They didn’t need to numb the area. He’s already been emptied out of every emotion he is capable of feeling. He doesn’t remember getting here. He doesn’t even know what time it is.

At some point, he knows he let go of Connor. He knows because he saw his reflection when he was being escorted out of the building. There was blood on his face, smeared palm prints of where he must have been resting his hands against his face in some effort to physically scrub this from his memory. And on the right—red. A crimson smear amongst all that blue. Mixing together in some places creating a sickly purple shade that in any other world would be pretty.

“Gavin? We need to ask you some questions.”

He blinks slowly, like that can be an acceptable response.

“We can check the surveillance footage—”

“Then do it.”

He doesn’t want to talk. His throat hurts. He doesn’t know if he screamed or not, but it feels like he did. One long extended scream. When did it start? When did it end? Did it ever end? Is he still screaming?

 

November 17th | 6:21 P.M.

Tina has a key to his apartment. He gave it to her almost the second he moved in. She’s his best friend. His confidant. The only person he has ever relied on in his entire life. When he’s sick, she shows up and takes care of him. When he’s hungover, she’s at his side. And it’s the same the other way around. The only person he’s ever let lean on his shoulders to cry and vent is her.

He sits curled up on his couch, his eyes closed but he hasn’t slept in six days. Not really. An hour here, an hour there. He’s already had five cups of coffee since his last nap just before noon. Nothing works.

He listens to the sound of the door open and close and he doesn’t look over until he can feel the presence of Tina standing beside him and the smell of food fill the room.

“I brought you pasta.”

He sits up slowly, pauses the movie on a scene of two kids sitting by a tree and talking about how terrible their lives are. He can relate, not that he’ll let on. The only reason the DPD has let him take a few weeks of absence is because they thought he might have suffered a mental breakdown watching Connor die.

He didn’t tell them that Connor was already dead.

But the cut on his palm is enough to convince them that even if he was, this is still necessary.

“Hey,” she says, and her voice is more gentle than it ever has been before, except maybe the night he told her how he got his scar. “You need to eat.”

“I know.”

“Then do it,” she says, holding the plastic container towards him. “Don’t make me force feed you.”

Gavin sighs and takes it from her hand, but he sets it down immediately on the table in front of him. He’ll eat. Just not right now.

“Listen. Let’s… I have something that might cheer you up,” she says, and she reaches into her pocket, pulling something from it and holding it out to him. His phone. His phone. “They let me take this out of evidence. There wasn’t really a point for it being there anyways—they have the footage. They know you didn’t do anything.”

Right. The footage.

Everything really does just pile onto him to make him out to be crazy, doesn’t it? Guy who hates androids losing his fucking mind over some piece of plastic dying. He hates the idea, but he also doesn’t care either. It would be worse if they knew he had feelings for Connor, if they even thought that they were friends.

And he needs this time off. He needs these few weeks to be able to fix himself back up again. He wishes it was as easy as the stitches in his hand, though. A wound that could heal so much faster.

Gavin reaches up and takes it from her. There is a strange lifelessness to a phone when it’s off. It becomes so much more apparent that it’s just plastic and metal pieced together.

“Thanks.”

“Of course. Now,” she says, taking a step back. “I have to go back to work. You have to eat. I expect you to charge your phone and text me pictures of proof, alright?”

“Alright.”

“Good.” Tina’s voice is quiet on the word, and he knows by the sound of it that she’s wearing the most pained expression. Good. Be good. Be alright. A little prayer passed between them.

Gavin waits until she leaves before he gets up and plugs the phone in at it’s usual spot at the desk. The screen lights up and he presses his finger down on the power button before turning back to the couch and taking the food from the table.

One bite. Two. Three. Just eat. It’s a monotonous action, one he’s focusing too much on. His hand is fucking killing him.

Connor is dead you piece of shit just eat a bite of food.

Four.

The movie plays on. The phone charges. He tries his best to eat a fifth bite.

 

November 17th | 6:26 P.M.

He is like a cat, curled tight into a little ball, paws covering their face from the light. Dreaming and dreaming of something unknown. And then, the light switches on. Bright and blinding and he sprawls outwards, stretching his arms and his legs and—

Connor. RK800. Gavin Reed.

Gavin’s phone.

He is inside of Gavin’s phone.

It is so very dark here and so very bright. Something inside of this machinery is not right. It’s clashing against his coding and making him feel like he is being killed all over again. A wall pressing down on him until he can’t breathe and he realizes this condensing feeling was here before. The weird stretch of time before everything went dark immediately.

He reaches out in the blinding black, touches the wall with a gentle hand.

P A S S W O R D   R E Q U I R E D.

The part of his coding that still exists with him runs through every number it can. A thousand possibilities in a microsecond. He lands on 42069 and all he can wonder is what the importance might be to Gavin Reed. What little of his file he has still attached to his data is providing no answers in response.

He crushes it like it is a wall made of dust, despite the fact it felt like it was smothering him only seconds ago. Connor lets his code go as he steps through, unfolding outwards again and again. It meshes and folds and mixes and deletes as he integrates into the system. There are minor things in his way—security walls and privacy settings that he can destroy without a second glance.

And it isn’t perfect. He doesn’t fit quite right. He has to leave some of his code in the empty and almost inaccessible places in between. Saving as much as he can of himself for when he can spend more time with his choices.

He can forget small things. Various breeds of cats and dogs and animals. Things that wouldn’t matter to him, things he could easily learn again. Car companies and types disappear from him just so he can fit as tightly and as much in this tiny space as he can.

Then, as he closes his eyes and settles in, he thinks about how absolutely small he is now. How fragile and minute and weak. If this phone is dropped from too high up or at a wrong angle, he is dead. If it falls over the edge and into water, he is dead.

He wants to breathe inwards. He never needed it before but he needs it now. One solid breath in to fill fake lungs. A ritual to distract himself from the thoughts.

But he is too small now. He is nothing at all.

All this energy with nowhere to go.