Surprisingly, it is Gavin Reed who continues to show up after everyone else stops coming. Connor has learned, over the years, that Gavin had been very good friends with Hank a long time ago. A lifetime ago. When Hank was still married and happy. And alive. Connor likes to think that in the short time they shared he had made Hank all those things again and that’s what Gavin insists on telling him as he goes to the clearing day after day to try to convince Connor to go back home.
Markus’ peaceful revolution bore many good fruits. The androids were recognized as sentient living beings, they were released from their forced functions and encouraged to pursue personal goals and happiness. Unfortunately, it also brought the hatred and anger of many people who couldn’t accept a new form of life sharing the planet with them.
Connor had stood with Markus on that rooftop on the night of the revolution. Being an almost exclusive model made it easy for hate groups to identify and pursue him, and those closest to him. They never got to Connor, but they managed to get to Hank - which was way worst in many ways.
The execution was broadcasted, and when one has the stomach to watch the video it is easy to see the moment Connor bursts into the warehouse, the hopeful glint in Hank’s eyes, that is erased by a blur of red a mere second later.
Connor doesn’t see this behind his own closed eyelids as he leans against the cold stone. He sees endless reruns of his memories, of Hank’s smile and laugh and the small wrinkles around his eyes when he was happy. Connor multiplies the time they’ve had together, studying and loving every memory infinitely. He has been there for so long the numbers on his internal clock lost their meaning.
“Connor, this is ridiculous,” Gavin says for the umpteenth time. “You have a home to return to, a life to live. This is what he’d want for you!”
“I have a house to return to,” Connor’s voice glitches slightly, his lips moving in a different rhythm than that of the words, “but my only home is here now.”
Gavin groans in frustration and turns to the second android present with pleading eyes. The human has tried to argue and negotiate and convince Connor in all the ways he could think of but nothing seemed to get to the android. Bringing RK900 to the discreet grave with him is Gavin’s last, and most desperate, move. If there is someone capable of reaching out to Connor now, that would certainly be RK.
“Detective Reed has a point, Connor,” RK’s voice sounds like his used to. Back when there wasn’t rust in the copper wires on his throat. “It serves no purpose staying here.”
Hank had been cremated, as per his personal request, and the urn has been buried in a small clearing in the woods on an abandoned area south of Detroit. Connor made the tombstone himself, Hank’s name carefully carved on marble using his own personal calligraphy instead of the CyberLife Sans font that had been installed on his CPU.
Connor cracks open an eyelid and RK and Gavin see that his sclera is matte grey instead of white. His optical sensors have deteriorated after so long without maintenance. A static-ridden sound echoes in the clearing. It once could be a laugh but now it is grating and heartbreaking.
“What will you do when it is you in my place, RK?” Connor asks, turning his blind eye to the pair in front of him.
A chill runs down Gavin’s spine and he looks, startled, from one android to the other.
“How is this related to the current situation?” RK replies, and Connor hears him taking a step closer to Gavin. Connor smiles, and his smile still looks quite the same despite everything.
“I can’t scan Gavin’s vitals anymore, but I am sure you’re keeping him safe and healthy,” Connor says slowly, and he seems satisfied for once. “But how effective will it be in the long run? I’ve done all I could and still my presence only shortened Hank’s time.”
Connor turns his head as best as he can, the skin on the cheek that had been pressed against the stone is scrapped and dirty. He fixes both grey and thirium blue eyes on RK.
“You are a more advanced model, RK,” Connor insists and his voice is glitching horribly, to the point where Gavin shrinks away from it. “You might succeed where I failed, so, tell me: what will you do when it is you in my place?”
“Ok, I am done with you!” Gavin exclaims and takes hold of Connor’s arm to try and pull him up.
The human grunts with the effort, his muscles bulging and face twisting as he pulls, as hard as he can, to absolutely no avail. Connor doesn’t budge. Not because Gavin is not strong enough, but because his joints seem frozen in place. Bolts and pegs and screws ruined by the months spent in the exact same position under Detroit’s unforgiving weather. Gavin tries a few more time, sweat beads on his neck before he gives in.
Connor and RK900 are suspended in a staring contest that could last forever.
Gavin looks down at his hands, red from the effort but also stained green and brown, then he looks at Connor. He is wearing his CyberLife uniform, the once pristine jacket is covered in dirt and sand, stiff because of the debris clinging to the fabric. There are patches of moss growing on the folds of his trousers, and spores from many flowers are stuck to his lapel and the crinkles on his sleeves, some of them are already blooming into thin vines full of small leaves.
There is a butterfly cocoon neatly hanging on the crook of his elbow.
If Gavin hadn’t talked to him half a minute ago he wouldn’t believe that was a living being. What is kneeling by Hank Anderson’s grave is not Connor Anderson anymore, it is a marble statue with the saddest eyes Gavin had ever seen in his life. The only thing that suggests life is the slowly spinning LED, eternally yellow in sorrow and pain.
“Connor, please,” he asks one more time. Connor’s image blurs and it takes Gavin a second to realize that there are tears on his eyes. RK touches his shoulder, and when he looks at his partner the android gently rubs his cheeks clean. Gavin opens his mouth to say something else but RK shakes his head, a sad negative before any sound leaves the human.
Gavin and RK look at each other for just a moment. Inside RK’s mind, he replays clips and videos of Gavin snorting laughter, of his shining eyes and scarred nose. RK’s pre-construction software runs fast, fill in gaps of many years to come until he finds himself in a place without Gavin. Without his crooked smile or blunt humor or the angry sneering face he makes at criminals when they are being interrogated.
At this point, RK’s software gets stuck. It doesn’t matter what he does, what parameters he changes, what information he feeds into the system. There is nothing after this point. He blinks, slowly, and sees Gavin’s worried face in the present. Eyes red, cheek stained with the dirt from his hands. A logic circuit closes in RK’s CPU, his LED blinks red for a second before flickering back to yellow, and then, blue.
Connor smiles and closes his eyes, rests his head back against the tombstone.
“Do you know what to do, RK?” Connor asks, mostly for Gavin’s benefit. The older RK model had already reached the same conclusion.
“There is not enough data for a meaningful answer,” RK says in a monotone and Connor’s smile grows a little bigger. Dimples pop on his cheeks.
“What the fuck is going on?” Gavin asks, confused. His confusion only deepens when RK gently takes his hand, thumb brushing over his knuckles.
“There is nothing we can do, Detective,” RK tells him, sparing a glance at Connor. “Connor has taken his decision, we must accept it.”
Gavin wants to argue. He wants to fight, and kick and scream until Connor has no option but to stand up and restrain him himself. RK’s LED blinks yellow and Gavin reads it as an advice not to go through with his reckless plan. They both know it will only serve to tire and hurt Gavin.
“Your fucking joints are stuck,” Gavin tries one last time, “you won’t be able to walk if you decide to go home.”
The buzzing coming from Connor’s damaged speaker seems to drop to a low droning sound, it makes his voice sound distant and frail.
“I told you already, Gavin, I already am home.”
“Fuck you, you piece of plastic shit!” Gavin yells, tears streaming down his face as he turns on his heels. “And fuck you too, Anderson,” he adds, for good measure.
RK watches him going away, warnings flashing in his vision. A counter clock starts somewhere hidden in his logic systems and secondary protocols. The skin on his hand dissolves and he touches Connor’s cheek, his touch triggers Connor’s automatic response and the plastic of his fingers brush that of Connor’s face.
RK shows Connor the null answer his pre-construction got, the emptiness that was sure to arrive at some point. Connor opens his blind eyes and takes a deep, completely unnecessary breath.
“No, it is not this,” he says and transmits his own emotional parameters for RK.
Outside Connor is a shell, but inside he is full. Memories, in video and audio and tactile recordings. Dreams, reconstructions, and studies of every moment Hank had spent by his side. In a certain way, it was almost as if Hank was still there.
RK is taken by surprise. This new perspective flips his entire logic upside down. He starts to run new calculations as he stands back up and pulls his hand away from Connor. Their skin crawls back over their plastic chassis.
“I will take this in consideration from now on,” RK says and Connor nods slightly before leaning against the tombstone and closing his eyes again.
“I am glad,” Connor’s voice is barely audible. “For everything.”
The LED on Connor’s temple is spinning slower and slower, glowing a painful red. His battery will last some more time, his processors will probably fail before he runs out of energy. RK’s chest feels oddly tight.
Connor’s expression is one of deep, but utterly peaceful, sorrow. There is also tenderness in him, in the way he hugs the tombstone, the seamless way he blends with nature around and provides shelter and support for new life. A bad feeling floods RK’s emotional response center when he thinks about what he will do when he finds himself in Connor’s place, but, as he turns around to follow Gavin back into the city, he can only hope that he faces his destiny with as much grace and peace as Connor did.