Do you ever get the feeling that you can't shift the tide
That sticks around like something's in your teeth
And some aces up your sleeve
I had no idea that you're in deep
When Gavin told Nines that Tina Chen was his best friend, he’d totally fucking meant it.
They’d known each other for what was going on twenty years now, give or take a couple. They’d met when they were still young, bright eyed and bushy tailed brats fresh into the police academy, back when they’d thought they’d seen the worst that Detroit had to offer. Arguably, Gavin had been even more of a prick back then, who had problems with authority and had since a young age.
Gavin had never really had a good relationship with his father. A washed up alcoholic, a shithead that abandoned or abused the ones that needed him. He stayed pissed at the world because he lost his job, blaming it on immigrants and then, later on, androids. The truth was, he was just a drunkard that couldn’t stay sober enough to do a decent day’s work. It had pissed Gavin off that his mom stayed with him for as long as she did, but in hindsight, he knew it was because she was terrified. Gavin knew full well how physically violent his dad got when he was drunk, hell, both he and his mom knew. His mom was afraid that he’d do something much worse if she tried to leave him. Growing up, he was labeled a problem child because he had an attitude, because he had anger issues, because he spent too much time out on the streets. It wasn’t his fault, to be honest. If anybody else had been in his damn shoes, they wouldn’t want to go home either. He didn’t have any friends, his teachers didn’t like him, the cops around his part of town knew him by name, first and last.
The only reason anything had changed was because of a cop, oddly enough. One that had wondered why a fourteen year old kid was running down the risky streets of Detroit at two in the morning covered in bruises and sporting a broken, bloody nose.
That was the entire fucking reason Gavin wanted to be a cop. Because at one point he had been stuck in a hellhole of a house, terrified of coming home everyday because he didn’t know if his dad hadn’t had enough to drink to be passed out yet. It was easier when he was passed out – unconscious meant that he wasn’t hurting anyone.
Gavin had told this to Tina, once they’d chummed it up in the academy, when Gavin actually learned how to lighten the fuck up. “Damn,” she’d said, clearly not knowing what to say in response. It was always weird to reply to something like that. “I wanted to be a cop because I saw one on TV and thought they looked cool.”
Tina took his shit, and she returned it. She wasn’t scared away by his fucking attitude, by his sarcasm or his tone. She was his best friend, one of his only friends, someone he went to whenever he needed help, someone he confided in.
Which was exactly why they were here now.
The one thing about weekdays in a bar is that you could really tell who the borderline alcoholics were, especially when it was early afternoon on a Tuesday. The entire place felt lazy. Even the fucking music was slow and quiet. They weren’t really drinking, per say. It was their lunch break, they both still had a long day ahead of them. But sometimes, bar food was just what hit the spot.
This place was one that was pretty close to the office, one that he and Tina usually frequented. There, they knew their names and their usual, and sometimes they even had it ready before either of them had to go up to the bar and ask. Additionally, it meant that if Gavin showed any of the long time staff a picture of Hank, they’d probably recognize him. The bartender was a pretty good guy – he had a niece that worked there, too, one that was in her early thirties (Gavin thinks). A niece that was blond and beautiful, one that Tina flirted with every time she was there.
Gavin was thankful that this place was a fucking ghost town save for one guy at the bar, but he had his eyes on his phone and seemed to be minding his own fucking business, that and the two workers that were sitting on the other side of the room at a booth. He was thankful because he wanted as little people as possible to bear witness to his gay meltdown.
Or, well, that’s what Tina called it.
“So what’d the tin can do this time?” Tina started with, once she’d gotten her soda pop to drink. She’s taken off her hat, dropping it onto the table and unzips her jacket to put it across the back of her chair. It might be cold outside, but inside, the bar was nice and toasty. A refuge from the weather outside. The sky was cloudy, so there was no sun to warm the cold air that choked Detroit.
“I haven’t even said anything about him yet,” Gavin starts, crossing his arms and resting them on top of the table. Chen was too fucking perceptive for her own good. Gavin had always argued that she should become a homicide detective. She’d do a damn good job.
“Yeah, but I know he’s done something.” Tina grins, smug and obviously pleased, knowing that she’s hit the nail on the head.
“Fuckin’…” Gavin begins, then he drops his head against his arms and groans. “Fuckin’ Christ, Chen. This ‘droid’s gonna fucking kill me.”
“It’s not like I haven’t heard that before,” Tina laughs, and that was rather true. Gavin had said this when Connor first fucking showed up in November, and he’d said it again when Nines had gotten assigned as his partner back at the beginning of January. “Spill. What happened?”
Gavin sighs, and fixes her with a serious glare. “He got me a fucking Valentine’s Day present.” He jumps back in shock when Tina slaps her hand on the table, and there’s an intense gleam in her eye that can’t mean anything good.
“You’re shitting me, right?” she asks, and Gavin’s at least thankful it was at a decent volume. “Wait, are we talking, like, roses and chocolates that comes with a kiss shit?”
“No, god, fuck no!” Gavin almost, almost wishes he’d never said anything. “No he just…” He sighs again, rubbing his face with his hands. “He got me a coffee mug, Chen. Because of how much I drink coffee and because of my ‘usual language’.” At Chen’s confused look, Gavin elaborates. “It says fuck you, you fucking fuck on it.”
“Oh, wow,” Tina laughs. “Dude that’s fucking hilarious.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Tina doesn’t come back with anything, and Gavin doesn’t know what to say. He’s so fucking lost, especially when it comes to anything relating to Nines.
“What’s goin’ on between the two of you anyway?” Tina suddenly perks up. “Last I checked in, you guys couldn’t stand each other.”
“I don’t…” Fuck. He can’t help but be honest with Chen. And maybe that’s only because she’s the only person that can see through his lies like they were clear glass. “I don’t hate him. God, I really fucking don’t. But I… He fuckin’ goes all Dr. Phil because he wants to ‘understand’ me, because he wants me to like him. Says he cares for my damn wellbeing, and that doesn’t make any fucking sense. I’ve was nothin’ but an ass to him for the longest and here he is, taking bullets for me and getting me damn coffee mugs because he wants to ‘convey his gratitude’ to me or something.”
Tina hums thoughtfully into her soda, but there’s a devious grin on her face that shows that she’s got something to say. “Sounds like he likes you,” she taunts. Gavin groans and rests his head against the table, keeping himself from beating it against the fake wood, but just barely.
“Of course you’d jump to those conclusions, Jesus,” he scoffs. “He’s just too nice for his own good, that doesn’t mean he likes me.”
“Well, either way he cares about you,” Tina continues, much to his chagrin. “Not many people have the balls to do that kind of shit.” She takes another sip of her drink, and Gavin says nothing to fill the silence. “Look, I get that you have some fuckin’ issues letting people in. But you don’t have to freak and shut people out when they care about you.”
Hey, sometimes Tina says some smart shit.
“I’m fucking shit at feelings, Chen,” Gavin huffs, ignoring Tina’s mumbled “That’s an understatement”. “But I don’t… I just don’t fucking get it. Like fuck, I don’t even know what I feel. How am I able to tell what the fuck a damn android does?”
“Hell, you could always ask him.” At Gavin’s incredulous snort, Tina continues, on a different train of thought. “Look, this is what I think. Take it or leave it, I don’t care. I think he likes you. If he’s able to put up with your shit just as well as I do, then he’s bound to. Hell, I’ve told you before that if I was straight, we’d already be together.”
“Not to be a dick or anything, but I couldn’t imagine dating you,” Gavin grumbles.
“Fair. We would have at least fucked. We may have even had a fuck buddies thing going.” She reaches across the table to shove at his shoulder, and then the two of them break into a fit of snickering laughter.
“But honestly,” Tina cuts in, becoming serious once more. “I think he loves you. And I know that you at least like him. Maybe it’s not love, because love is… kinda a big thing. But you never know.” She cuts off with a shrug. Gavin is grateful that Tina doesn’t say more. She lets him stew in his thoughts as they get their food, and then they’re just stuffing their faces.
“You really think he loves me?” Gavin asks quietly, almost bashfully, halfway through with eating and not quite able to ignore the question rummaging around in his head.
“Yeah. I think he does.” Tina hums around a mouthful of fish and chips. “Well I mean… you can think that he’s just nice. And he is, don’t get me wrong. But he doesn’t get me coffee, or cute little mugs for Valentine’s Day.” She shrugs, waving a fry around for emphasis. “He doesn’t take bullets for me, either.”
And that just hurt a little bit.
“I didn’t fucking want him to!” he snaps, and it causes the two workers to turn their head and look at them, breaking whatever conversation they were having. Gavin sinks down into his seat and waits for them to turn away before he repeats, much quieter, “I didn’t fucking want him to.”
Tina pulls an oddly sympathetic look. “I know, Gav,” she sighs, tone becoming serious. “Look. I know you’re fucking shit at feelings. I’ve been your friend long enough to know that. But Nines is… sweet. He likes you, I know he does. Fuck, his stupid heart eyes make me sick.” She shakes her head. “Remember that girl I dated for like, three years? Alli?”
Gavin did. He’d had mixed feelings about her, because she was fucking weird. Some eastern medicine obsessed, self-proclaimed spiritual purist that never wore shoes and drank the grossest smoothies in existence. But she’d made Tina happy, and Tina was his best friend. They’d had a good relationship for those three years, until they ended up splitting because she couldn’t support Tina’s choice of career as a cop.
“She was crazy, yeah, but she once told me that even if you’re only one person to the entire world, you can still be the world to one person,” she starts, eye level with him. “Nines looks at you like you’re the greatest fucking thing in the world. Like you’re some weird knight in shining armor, like you’re the greatest detective in all the US. So just… just stop freaking out, okay? It’s okay for people to love you. And it’s okay to accept that love.”
Gavin just stares at her, a little but stunned. He has to blink eventually, once his eyes start to burn. “When the fuck did you go off and become some shitty kind of love guru?” Gavin asks, rather amazed, and occupying his fidgeting hands by eating his veggie burger instead of drumming them against the table.
“It’s a natural born talent,” Chen grins back. “I do expect an invitation to the wedding, though.”
At that, Gavin sputters, pulling in air so fast that he coughs. “Damn it, Chen.” Gavin rubs at his own throat. “I’m not exactly the marrying type, ya know.”
“Yeah, I kinda figured.” Thankfully, Chen just continues eating instead of talking anymore. She finishes eating before he does, only because she doesn’t know how to pace her damn self. He thinks that, maybe, she’ll stay silent up until they leave, but he doesn’t get that lucky.
“I think he’ll treat you right, though,” she muses, almost like she’s talking to herself. He almost chokes on a bite of his burger, and when Gavin looks up at her, she as a distant, if sincere look on her face. “Nines is… a really good guy.” Yeah. She was definitely right about that. "So?" she prods him, and that devious smirk returns. "Are you two gonna go make out as soon as we get back?"
"Fuck off, Chen."
So Tina thought Nines loves him. Which was fucking weird, in and of itself. But the weirdest thing was when he asked himself a similar question, his answer came a lot easier than he had thought it would.
Do I love Nines...?
Yeah, I think I do.