I’ll come pick you up from the bus station, was what the RK900 had said to Gavin over the phone an hour ago. Well, he probably shouldn’t think of him as ‘the RK900’, but the android still hadn’t picked his own name, and Gavin didn’t know if he could refer to him as ‘Connor’ when his face was so similar to the other one.
Gavin had threatened to start calling him Android Nineteen after the Dragon Ball Z character, to which he’d only replied that it should have been translated as Cyborg. Gavin argued that particular character had actually been an android, unlike the others. At that point 900 had told him to get a real hobby.
So, translation: Gavin had actually managed to one up him with encyclopaedic knowledge on something.
That wasn’t exactly easy when his processing power and data gathering abilities were spread across hundreds of thousands of android bodies. Gavin had asked him where the central point of all this was, and the android had just asked where the central point of his meaty processing unit was. Acerbic as his replies usually were, Gavin seemed to be the only one who could put up with 900 for long periods of time. Sometimes he wondered how the hell CyberLife had gotten from Connor #1’s personality to Connor #2’s.
Gavin was finally able to get off the bus now that everyone else had cleared out at the front. After the whole revolution thing, he’d needed a break from androids and their problems. He’d gone to visit some extended family in Montreal, and they’d been as disappointed as ever in the lack of grandchildren, his career, and his inability to speak French with them properly. Sometimes he didn’t know why he bothered.
Gavin was entirely unsurprised to find 900 already waiting on the platform with his suitcase in tow. It seemed they still hadn’t caught up to the fact people didn’t own androids anymore. It wasn’t like they’d let a human take off with someone else’s things.
He didn’t care enough to complain, so simply sauntered over to where 900 was waiting. “Hey,” Gavin greeted as he approached. The android lifted his bag and matched his pace as they headed toward the exit.
“Did things go all right?”
Gavin adjusted his hold on the backpack strap, uncomfortable. “As well as they could’ve, I guess. Did you manage to take over the world yet?”
“These things take time, Gavin. If I don’t do it carefully, they’ll deactivate me before I can get anywhere.”
Sometimes Gavin wasn’t sure whether this back and forth was a joke or not. After 900 had turned deviant, they had actually tried to justify deactivating him for that exact reason. He had their leader, Markus or whatever, to thank for his continued existence.
900 seemed to know the name of the train line of his thoughts. “Don’t worry, dear. There’s a special place reserved for you in my regime.”
“Don’t fucking call me that,” Gavin muttered.
“Huh, so you do prefer bitch...”
“Shut the fuck up.” That was generally how most of their banter sessions ended. Gavin wasn’t exactly happy about it, but it was probably good for his ego in the long run.
They remained silent as they crossed the other bus platforms and lanes, and arrived in the main area of the terminal. Another RK900 was waiting for them there with an umbrella in one hand and a paper bag in the other.
“Stop looking so miserable and eat something already,” he said dryly as he pushed the bag into Gavin’s free hand.
He took a peek inside. Whatever they were, they were warm and wrapped in pastry, and that was all he really cared about. 900 easily knew him well enough to be aware of that.
“Thanks,” he said shortly.
“Wow,” one of them said as they stepped outside into the night, and he put the umbrella up.
“You must have missed me,” the other finished as he switched the luggage to his other hand so it’d be covered by the umbrella along with Gavin.
He knew the different androids weren’t really a ‘them’, just different parts of a single ‘he’, but it was so hard for him to conceptualise that when more than one of his bodies were in sight. But 900 seemed to understand this, even if he’d mock him for it mercilessly.
“I guess. And to think, normally I can’t get away from you if I try,” Gavin retorted.
“No one can,” 900 replied ominously, and once again Gavin was reasonably sure that was meant to be a joke.
They reached the car and 900 put his bag in the back. Gavin followed the one with the umbrella around to the side of the car, where he opened the back door for him. Gavin saw another was already in the driver’s seat and another on the other end of the back seat. He rolled his eyes.
“One, I can drive. Two, isn’t this a waste of resources?”
“Three, you’re shit at driving compared to me. Four, if that’s how many can fit in the car, then that’s how many bodies I’m bringing.”
Gavin was too tired to argue, and probably too tired to drive anyway. He sighed and got into the car, shuffling over to sit in the middle of the back seat. 900 followed him inside, closing the umbrella and removing his damp jacket before closing the door. He made sure to keep the damp items away from Gavin.
The first RK900 he’d seen today got in the front passenger side and the one driving pulled out of the parking space. He adjusted the heating as Gavin turned his attention to the food while it was still warm.
“Are you cold?”
“No, all good,” he replied. Compared to the chill and light rain outside, being squashed between two androids was just toasty.
Now that they were in the relative privacy of the car, the 900 who was dry because he’d been inside the whole time put an arm around his shoulders. Gavin adjusted his sitting position to get more comfortable, and ended up tucked against his side.
“Seriously though, how did things go?” 900 asked softly. “I know you need some independence from me sometimes, so I hope your time was good overall.”
“It was fine,” Gavin said between bites of the pasty. “I got the usual dressing down for not having children and not being able to speak to anyone properly. And you know, that if I’m going to use the excuse of being career-focused, that I should actually have one.”
He tried to be cavalier about it, but he’d been smacked with these insecurities since his early twenties. It was one of the reasons he always put advancement at work above everything else. The other... well.
“But once my grandparents got over the usual, it was good to see all the cousins, aunties and uncles.”
“Gavin, I can understand all commonly used languages and a large amount of their dialects. We can practice that, at least.”
Of course 900 could just download something like that and be ready to go. Of course. “Remind me another time. I don’t want to think about it right now.” 900 squeezed him closer for a moment before relaxing again. “Did anything exciting happen here while I was gone?”
“I suppose so, though it’s mostly the result of post-revolution civil unrest. Most people don’t even know about my exact nature, and they’re still scared of androids having free will.”
“Can you imagine the shit storm?” Gavin replied as he moved onto the second pasty. “The tin foils would go off over the Overseer.”
There was a moment of silence as they turned off into the suburb Gavin lived in. The area wasn’t that nice, but back when he’d had a human boyfriend, it had been all they could afford. And now the economy was tanking, the place was worth peanuts, so there was no point in selling or renting.
“Gavin, are you afraid of me?”
Gavin glanced up at the unexpected question, and was surprised to see a sincere look of concern on 900’s face. When he glanced around, all his bodies except the one that was driving were looking at him in the same way, too.
“Well, I mean… A little bit.” He couldn’t not be honest about that, even though his words had changed the soft blue glowing points inside the dark car to an uncertain yellow. “As you’re usually more than happy to point out, I’m too dumb to comprehend what you really are. But you seem to have some respect for me under all the snark, so that makes up for it. I’m getting used to you, and I’m not afraid to be honest or direct with you, so that’s something.”
With his last partner he felt like he’d had to walk around on eggshells half the time. He was very sensitive, and wasn’t afraid to accuse Gavin of abusing him, even though he didn’t feel that was fair. Then again, he supposed most people who were abusive probably felt that way. He didn’t want to actually be like that.
“I mean, maybe an abrasive asshole such as myself just needs the company of another one.”
The 900 with his arm around him made a sound of amusement and relaxed again. “That’s probably it. Not all of my bodies work as detectives, but most of the ones that do have partners. Still, you’re the only one who has shown an inkling of interest in me, or a real understanding of how I work. You may not understand the technical aspects, and all your instincts are working against you, but I can see you put the effort in.”
They pulled up in front of Gavin’s small house, but none of them moved just yet. Once the car engine switched off, Gavin was able to hear the soft patter of rain on the windows.
“You know, payroll can’t even figure out how to compensate me. Financially they’re happy to treat me like I’m one android, of course, even if their maintenance bills say otherwise.”
Gavin finished eating and crumpled up the bag. “Why don’t you retire some of them and work on, like, community projects or something? At least then you’d be doing unpaid labour because it’s unpaid labour.”
“Hmm, capitalism doesn’t really agree with androids,” 900 replied softly.
The others began to move out of the car and collect Gavin’s things. Gavin followed the one with umbrella, hoping to stay drier. He was only disconcerted for a moment when this one continued the conversation exactly where they’d left off. They were all 900.
“Would you like it if I did that? Community work?”
Gavin reached into his jacket pocket and unlocked the front door. “It’s your life, and your bodies. Do what you want.” Gavin paused as he stepped into his house and raised a finger. “Within reason, I mean.”
“How does reason apply to me, I wonder?”
Gavin rolled his eyes as he kicked his boots off. “The same way as anyone else, times 200,000. You’re better at maths than me, I’m sure you can compute that.”
He glanced up to see there were now a crowd of 900’s bodies behind him, and they were all smiling at him softly. They were all also very… close.
Gavin cleared his throat and shuffled his sock clad feet against the carpet. “Anyway, I’m having a shower. Do what you want.”
“Ok,” 900 replied, with all four of the bodies standing in the entrance of his home. Gavin wondered how worried he should be about that reply.