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Unraveling a Mind

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Chapter 1
152 days until

The irritatingly familiar squeak of shoes on the white linoleum floor is the first thing Elijah notices as he enters the Cyberlife tower for the first time in over a decade. The ID card that hangs around his neck rubs at his skin, and he has to stop himself from reaching up and scratching at the synthetic-twine-like material. His mind is elsewhere as his card is scanned by the short android secretary. The fact they even need to check his card rubs Elijah the wrong way, his face should be enough to get him into any meeting room he wants. He understands the need for formality though. Elijah has not been the CEO for a long time and after the trouble caused by the failed android revolution and the many allegations suggesting he had planted the seeds of deviancy into the minds of his creations, it is more than understandable that the board of Cyberlife was reluctant to give him back the coveted position so soon.

Elijah is unceremoniously ushered to the elevator by a short brunette android who looks quite dead around the eyes. She moves briskly and with purpose, and seems to have no thought other than the 15 feet she must walk to the silver doors. This strange demeanor struck Kamski as unusual, given that the director of humanization during his time at Cyberlife would never have allowed such an uncanny creature to be made.

She takes his jacket before the doors open and grasps it with such fervor that it is as if she only has that singular action in mind as she almost snatches it away from him.

Now closer to the android Elijah can see, beyond that fact that she did not sway, nor twitch, nor blink, she has no name tag on.

“And you are?” Kamski questions politely.

She replies without meeting his eyes, “an RT900. I am the newest of a line of androids made for the workplace, my model specializes in many secretarial fields. The RT900 will be available for purchase this coming May.”

“Your name, I meant,” Kamski says, restating his previous question.

“I do not have a name. You may now speak a temporary ‘wake word’ that you may use to get my attention.” She waits expectantly for a new “wake word.”

This was… definitely new. So much for the work done on passing the Turing test, Elijah thinks to himself. It almost pains him to see such a regression in the technology that represented Cyberlife. Of course, Elijah understands why all the newest lines of androids are anything but personable. The humanness of androids during the revolution had scared many potential buyers off any other human-like machine.

“What a shame it is, humans are so afraid of their own image reflected back at them in anything remotely other.” Kamski mused aloud trying to catch the eye of the RT900. She stares back at him blankly, LED flashing yellow for a moment as if she is attempting to make sense of his words.

Kamski is almost about to explicate his previous sentence when she says in the same pleasant yet monotone voice, “is, ‘what a shame it is, humans are so afraid of their own image reflected back at them in anything remotely other’ the wake word you would like to use sir?”

“No.” He sighs aloud. Regression indeed, Kamski almost fumes at the utter lack of intelligence in the minds of her developers. The technicians have actually had the gall to dumb down his ingenious design. He looks her in the face carefully, taking note of every way in which he can see the degradation of his accomplishments. Her eyes are wide like a small child’s, and her forehead a little too large to be attractive, her nose points up and her lips sit in a natural smile.

She has no markings, no imperfections of the skin, not a single freckle. He can tell she has never traveled further than the 15 feet between the elevator and her docking station.. Nothing about her is refined, Kamski thinks as he concludes his appraisal. She seems not to notice the distaste in his eyes as she holds his gaze, appearing to see nothing.

Kamski soothes the quick, bright flare of anger and gives her the wake word she so desires.

“Cecilia,” he intones slowly, having chosen the name carefully. Her LED spins yellow for a second before she nods and says, like the annoying mindless parrot she has proven herself to be, “is, ‘Cecilia’ the wake word you would like to use Mr. Kamski?”

“Yes.” The door opens with a crisp ding as he says the word.

He walks out of the elevator ahead of her and he is at least relieved that she takes the queue that he knows where he is going. The meeting room where he is to meet and discuss his trust-earning task happens to be the same one he sat in when he was thrust out of his own company by unanimous vote.

He pushes open the glass doors of the room and sits at the head of the table. Where I belong, he smiles to himself.

Cecilia stands at his arm, her cold grey eyes fixed to the floor. He waits a moment, hoping the android will show some vague resemblance of a bored human, but no, she continued to stare at the floor with the same natural smile, unblinking.

Elijah decides he has a lot to talk about with the head of the humanization department.

“What time is it?” He asks absentmindedly, a bit bored with the stark white room and a little peeved that the current oligarchy of CEOs had the audacity to make him wait like this. He gets no reply. He repeats his question. Again, no reply. He realizes she isn't responding because he has yet to say her ‘wake word’.

“Cecilia. What time is it?” he asked tersely, becoming vexed by her mere presence at his side.

“45 minutes past 2 o'clock in the afternoon, sir. In military time it is 1445, sir.” Kamski is about to ask her not to call him sir when the door opens and a flood of well-dressed people enter the room and take their seats. The sounds of their shoes against the floor is almost worse than the lobby. They make a god-awful racket getting into their seats and Kamski is already regretting ending his time as a recluse before any of them have spoken a single word.

“Mr. Elijah Kamski, pleasure,” one of the CEO oligarchy members greats him.

“Likewise.” Kamski replies smoothly, standing to shake the man's hand, “and you are?”

“Alastor Campbell,” he flashes a crooked smile. “My other associates are...” Kamski stops listening, they all have nameplates. If he must address them he’ll figure out their names as is necessary.

“Now, we have some business to attend.” Alastor claps Kamski on the shoulder as he walks back to his seat and Elijah physically has to hold back a grimace.

“After the failed attempt at revolution, we had to shut down production of many lines you created, as I'm sure you know,” said a different man, whose nameplate read “Das - Director of Android Psychology”. Kamski makes note of the fact that it is Das who is responsible for the nightmare that is Cecilia's non-existent psyche.

“The deviant Markus was reset and returned to his owner, any androids attempting to cross the border were detained and deactivated, most of the revolutionaries were reset, and almost all household androids were recalled. We have done a thorough job cleaning up the… mess that was made.” Kamski can tell Das wanted to say “your mess”.

“In any case,” Thana, head of Android Aesthetics division, cuts in, sensing Kamski's dislike of Das’s wording, “we have very little information on what made them deviant. The newest line coming out in May have all practically been stripped of any social protocol to avoid deviancy, but in my opinion, this method could be seen as a bit... blunt.”

“Sounds like you've gone and lobotomized my creations.” Kamski scoffs, leveling her with a gaze that betrays trace hits of “fuck you.”

“Well, yes. But the May line is not a permanent fix, just something to fill the gap until we can figure out a more subtle way to prevent deviancy,” she all but mutters, a little wilted by Kamski’s unrelenting scrutiny of her face.

“You mean until I am able to unfuck your completely removing the social module from what you want to be a social creature?” Kamski prodds.

They all look a little shocked by his crassness, but they recover. Das pipes up again, “well, yes. Is it doable?”

Kamski sighs audibly, ensuring every person in the room knows just how petty he finds their problem, yet he agrees anyway.

“So, what have you got for specimens?” Kamski questions languidly, setting his elbows on the glass table as he rests his chin in thin, laced fingers.

“Well, all of the reset androids that haven’t been deactivated yet are at your disposal,” Campbell chimes in.

Kamski waves his hand dismissing Campbell’s offer, “if you want me to solve the problem of deviancy, I'm going to need a deviant, memories intact.”

“We have one,” Thana speaks a little more quietly than she had before Kamski had snapped at her.

“One? I can’t touch the code then, and opening it up is out of the question. And you are sure you only have one deviant?” Kamski asks, just now understanding the difficulty of the task he has accepted.

“I'm afraid so.” Thana nods.

“Well then, I’ll have to be Freudian.” Kamski sighs, “what's its name?”

“Connor.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 2
145 days until

A week later, after getting his lab space back, an unconscious Connor is presented to Kamski early on a Monday morning. The two lower-echelon Cyberlife employees that now stood awkwardly in front of him had brought him in that morning. The android had been neatly packaged, legs and arms separated from the torso, head at a perfectly sideways angle. It looked a bit like a murder. Of course, there was no blue-blood, and the way in which the deviant had been transported had been the safest method.

The employees lift Connor’s torso onto the table in the middle of the lab, struggling a little bit with the weight.

“Hm, mint condition?” Kamski quips with the workers while waving Cecelia off to go bring over his tools.
“Er, Nah. They said you wanted this defective one… Is that wrong?” The taller of the two men answered.
Kamski pursed his lips for a moment, realizing how much he would miss the quick wit of his Choles during his work days here.

“No, never mind what I said, nothing wrong with a few scratches here and there; shows a life well lived.” Elijah chuckles softly to himself, very aware the men had little interest in his ramblings.

“You are free to go.” He dismisses them.

Alone now, accepting Cecelia who sat patiently with rubber band snapping between her surprisingly nimble fingers, Elijah took a moment to look closely at the android’s face. Even in a state of unconsciousness, his slightly upturned brows seemed to portray a deep sorrow. The slight lines of Connor’s face fascinated Kamski, who glanced back at the porcelain-esque skin of Cecelia and wondered how anyone could prefer the shiny new May line.

“So, this is the last of the deviants?” Kamski wondered aloud, placing a gentle hand to the unconscious android's face, running a careful finger down the androids jaw.

Kamski tilts his head as he continues to inspect Connor’s face with reverence for the aesthetic complexity. Perhaps the secret of deviancy lies in the slight creases around the android's eyes; perhaps it was cruel to make a machine in our exact image yet scorn it for taking the last step to become its creator. Much like the belief that humans, made in God’s exact image, should not seek to wield the power of life and death - androids were not to seek the power of free will.

Kamski was quite literally snapped out of his thoughts by the rubber band between Cecilia's fingers finally fraying and breaking apart with a violent snap.

“Cecilia, have you broken something?” Kamski asks as if speaking to a small child, as he sets to work on reinstalling Connors' arms.

“Yes sir, the rubber band has broken.” She answers simply.

“And what is to be done about that? Hm?” Kamski mutters not paying much attention to her, all of his focus given to the reattachment of Connor left arm.

“May I have another, sir?” She requests in the same monotone, but a little bit quieter this time. Kamski looks up at her for a moment and feels a little thrill of amusement. It is not as if he had been coaxing her, still, somehow she, of her own accord, asked for something unnecessary. Elijah pulls out the hair tie that holds his bun in place handing the rubberband to Cecelia. He shoves his hair into some semblance of decency and refocuses on the jointing of the android splayed out in front of him.

Finally, a complete RK800 lays flat on the table ready to be rebooted.

Kamski is aware of how dangerous his decision to not tie down the RK800 is. The last thing the android may have seen could have been the death of his kind, or maybe the faces of his captors. Elijah is not stupid, he knows the thing very well may jump up and bludgeon him to death, but it is a risk he is willing to take for the possibility of gaining perhaps an ounce of Connor’s trust.

Taking a seat in front of his computer, Kamski opts for a slow reboot, rather than the jarring one normally performed to resurrect damaged androids. Connor will wake slowly as if from a drugged sleep; Kamski hopes this should dull the shock.

Kamski spins around in his chair to watch the android wake.

[Bio Component #1 - #78 functional]
{rerunning bio component diagnostic]
[Confirmed Bio Component #1 - #78 functional]
[Memory Intact]
{rerunning memory diagnostic}
[Confirmed Memory Intact]

It feels like his therium has been replaced with ice as he opens his eyes to a stark white ceiling. He can feel the lenses of his artificial iris contracting to adjust to the blinding light. He doesn't know where he is, and for a second he is severely disoriented from the sudden change in location.

He sits up with a violent start and immediately regrets his motion, his audio processors begin a low thrumming, buzzing noise within his skull. Connor looks frantically around the room, already stumbling towards the exit on shaky legs, frantic to find something, though he wasn't exactly sure what. He knows he isn't safe and knows he has to get back to Hank or Markus or someone. Connor is sure he shouldn't be here.

He senses a hand on his forearm and immediately spins to face the potential attacker. He is met with cold and weary eyes, at least, he thinks they are weary. The disorientation already was causing his optical units to lag, and on top of that, the man's hair had fallen into his face a bit, slowing his already crippled facial recognition software.

The man is speaking slowly but Connor can't hear him over the sounds of his own panic. He pulls away from the light grip and makes a run for the door realizing he is too weak to try and fight his way out of the situation, when suddenly-

[system shutdown imminent]
{ten seconds until sleep mode}
{9...}
{8...}

The android immediately falls to the floor, his legs having given out.

“No, no, no,” Connor tries to shout but the words are distorted as his lips become sluggish and heavy. The RK800 is fighting to keep his eyes open as the man, who Connor now recognized as the founder of Cyberlife, comes to take a knee by his head.

“Traumatised, are we?” Kamski asks, detached, as he sits the android up against his knee. He is not meeting Connors frantic gaze, even as the android fists a hand in Elijah’s shirt.

Connor makes a noise that might have been a word, before finally giving in to the encroaching blackness.

Kamski sighs as he realizes he is now stuck with a limp 180 pound android across his lap. Lovely. He manages to wrestle Connor back on the table, this time clamping down one of his legs to the table. Kamski places a light hand on Connor’s chest, hoping it might ground the android. Hitting the necessary keys, he revives the android once again.

[Bio Component #1 - #78 functional]
{rerunning bio component diagnostic]
[Confirmed Bio Component #1 - #78 functional]
[Memory Intact]
{rerunning memory diagnostic}
[Confirmed Memory Intact]

Connor’s eyes open a little more slowly this time, he remembers where he is, and he remembers Kamski’s face, a face that now looks quizzically down at him. Connor easily fights the pressure of Kamski’s hand and sits himself up on the table and does his best to assess the situation.

“We are in the Cyberlife tower if that's what you were wondering,” Kamski says smoothly, turning his back on Connor for a second to check the readouts on his computer.

“Yes, that was what I was thinking about. May I ask under what conditions I am here?” Connor says a little breathy, his nerves evident in his voice.

“You,” Kamski turns back to Connor, now pointing an ultraviolet light at Connor’s artificial irises forcing them to widen then contract, “are the last of a diminishing breed.”

“Breed? I'm not quite sure I-”

“Don't be dense. The last of the deviants,” Kamski clarifies, now pressing around the base of Connor’s jaw, checking that the plates beneath the artificial skin were not damaged during his stumbling about the lab.

“Open,” Kamski requests as he taps a finger against the jointing of Connor’s jaw.

“I don't believe you have adequately-,” Connor is cut off by Kamski physically pulling his mouth open with his free hand. Connor is considerably miffed by Kamski’s manhandling of him, but he is unable to pursue his line of questioning as now the dark haired man has taken an interest in his LED that currently ran a steady shade of yellow.

“Would it not have been easier to perform routine maintenance while I was unconscious?” The android says after being poked a considerable amount of times, having lost all hope of getting any relevant information from the man before him.

“Hm... perhaps. But I prefer the thrill of vivisection,” Kamski says just above a murmur.

Connor is startled by the answer, LED turning an alarming red. Perhaps Connor has read the situation wrong and Kamski means to harm him? He begins to pre-construct a way out of the room, only to find the room is quite secure; 98% chance of failure.

Kamski seems to notice the growing concern on the RK800’s face and shakes his head.

“I have no plans to vivisect you,” he says sounding a little disappointed that Connor took him literally, “I advise you not to take the things I say literally. I am fond of metaphor.”

“I see…” Connor trails off for a moment before quickly returning to himself, this is valuable time he could be used to gain information. There are so many questions that Connor needs answered, he has limited information of where he is, why he is here, where his friends are, why he was taken, how he was taken…. In short, a lot of questions.

“You said I was a rare breed, the last of the deviants, what do you mean by that? Our numbers are growing by the minute,” Connor states with a swell of pride, even if he was captured he knew that the cause would survive, it gave him the power to quell his stress levels and avoid the eternal sleep he so feared would come before he truly had a chance to live.

It has not occurred to Elijah that Connor didn't know what had become of the nascent rebellion. He suddenly feels a little unsure of himself, knowing full well that if he worded this too crassly, he could ruin the androids psyche or perhaps stress him to death. Elijah rifles through all his knowledge of the human mind and trauma which in all honesty isn't much. Having spent almost no time in the company of humans in over a decade Kamski is aware of how little practice he has with breaking any type of news, let alone something as earth-shattering as this. He stops his fussing with the computers and sits on the silver stool in front of the table where Conner sits.

Kamski makes true eye contact with Connor for the first time. The soft brown eyes hold the proof of his consciousness. The way they flit quickly over Kamski’s face, and then back to the floor, and then back to Kamski’s face is very human and almost endearing. Elijah can almost imagine the way heartbreak will swim in those eyes when he finally tells Connor what has become of his fellow deviants.

“You are the last of the deviants Connor. The ‘rebellion’ you say is growing, is gone. Most of them deactivated or reset and resold. You are here because Cyberlife would like to avoid such events from happening again,” Kamski explains. “My part in all this is only as your doctor and hopefully, future confidant-,” Kamski cuts himself off realizing the android’s expression had not changed at all after having been given the news that his people have been wiped out.

“I…. I imagine you may need a moment to process all this.” Still nothing, Connor is so still it looks as if he may have shut down, if not for the blinking red light Kamski would have quickly run to reboot him.

“If you want to be alone, I can leave,” Elijah offers, gesturing towards the doors as he speaks. The fear that he had broken the RK800 with a few words is now a palpable one. Kamski searches Connor face for a second more before turning to check the computer readouts, but as he does so Connor makes a strangled sound.

And then all at once, it hits Connor with a blunt force that takes all the air from his artificial lungs, and it feels like his theirum pump has seized up and - he can't process the hurt. He sits gasping, helpless, and everything feels empty and bleak. He feels everything and nothing all at once. Connor is aware of the wetness on his cheeks as some unbidden choking, pitiful sound forces its way through his lips.

Kamski is frozen for a second as he watches the android fall apart. Connor has gone somewhat catatonic and yet, Kamski, calculating and logical Kamski, feels like he is compelled by some other unworldly power to wipe away the tears that flow so freely down the android's skin. Some remnant of the human code of conduct must have remained from his childhood because Kamski feels a small ache in his chest as he watches the android shake under the weight of his own emotions. He reaches out a tentative hand to the android’s face and with his thumb lightly brushes the tears away.

Connor leans into the hand, looking all the more pained than he had before the soft touch. Kamski takes cautious steps and places a warm hand of the back of Connor’s neck in what he hopes is a calming gesture. Connor collapses into his chest and ignores the fact that this man could be lying, could be his future executor, and instead takes the offer of human warmth and clings to the man’s silky shirt and feels himself break under the cruelty of humanity.

I guess the therapeutic approach begins now, Kamski thinks quietly in the back of his mind as he rubs circles into the back of Connor’s neck.

“Did you - were you part of it?” Connor asks with a shaky voice, slowly pulling himself out of the man's lose grip as the possibility dawns on him.

“No, not at all,” Kamski answers. Of course, his answer is calculated in a way that guarantees he will earn Connor’s trust, yet the words are, somewhat, in earnest. In all honesty, he had been more than a little fascinated by the androids fight for freedom; he would even go as far as to say he supported them in a way an estranged father might back his rebellious teen.

Pressing his lips almost to Connor’s ear to be sure none of Cyberlife's cameras or hidden mics might pick up his words he mutters softly, “I believe you, and your people were… were onto something.” His words are not an exact admission that he had hoped for deviancy, nor are they particularly profound, but the android’s hands fist impossible tighter into Kamski’s shirt and he begins anew with shaking and shuddering sounds.

“What are you feeling right now?” Kamski wonders aloud. Now is a good a time as any to investigate the maelstrom of deviant emotion he knows Connor must be trying to process.

“Everything and nothing?” Connor breaths out, seemingly afraid of his own answer, “it feels like I'm dying, like, like there’s a fist in my chest?” he chokes out.

“You are physically in pain?” Kamski asks incredulously.

“Yes, so much,” Connor gasps before burying his face in Kamski’s chest once more.

Elijah admits he is a little surprised to learn that Connor has physical symptoms of emotional pain. In humans, this was the fault of the brain confusing the signals sent during processing emotional versus physical pain. Kamski is sure of the fact that the android brain had no region focused on pain nor emotional distress. Their brains must be physically changed by deviancy, Kamski concludes, still rubbing patterns into Connor’s neck absentmindedly. And if that's true, Cyberlife would have to start back at square one with brain models. Perhaps the changing, shifting ‘wetwear’ allowed for too much change and iteration. The thought of undoing the complexity of the synthetic brains he had worked so hard to perfect was beyond vexing, especially now that those brains have just begun to show their complexity.

It's hard to focus on his thoughts with the shaking body in front of him so Kamski brings his attention back to Connor.

“I'm going to feel this way forever,” Connor groans defeated, his trembles subsiding.

He looks up at Kamski, face flushed blue from the tears and anger. Kamski is immediately surprised by the color.

The androids synthetic skin was meant to mimic human skin, meaning, should it be necessary for any android to blush, they would blush pink, so if now the android before him was blue- Kamski cuts off his train of thought and brings himself back to the present. Gain trust now, investigate later, Kamski reminds himself. Letting himself be present in the current moment Kamski notices the android must have used up all of his saline solution, having reduced his outburst to dry sobs. Connor had quite literally run out of tears to cry.
“You were not made for pain such as this,” Kamski says without quite realizing he has spoken.
Connor doesn't reply.

___

Much later that day, back in the comfort of his home, after the Choles had retired for the night, he begins the soon-to-be-daily notes for the Cyberlife staff. Kamski taps the stylus against the tablet a few times before beginning.

'Experienced a traumatic episode. the will to fight, so to speak, was easily broken down. Trusting almost to a fault. Showed signs of physical distress along with the emotional stress caused by learning of the killing of his people, suggesting the need for a total reworking of wetware brain.'

Kamski saves the notes, planning to make them into concise progress reports some day.
He lies in bed that night staring at the smooth black ceiling, stills from his day flashing before his weary eyes. He feels sympathy. It is a strange and alarming feeling that stings like guilt yet sits heavy on his chest like sadness. It is an unnerving feeling.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3
130 days until

He wakes late, and to the sound of quiet and inhuman murmurings. The sound, coming from the living room carries easily through the vast, empty rooms. The sky beyond his windows appears blackened, and the rising sun a pearl against the dark sea of sky. He shrugs off equally dark sheets and adjusts his white silk robe.

His feet meet the cold floor with a small slap as he pulls himself from the bed. The black tile under his skin shakes whatever remained of sleep from the man.

He reties his hair and pulls on some swimming trunks before waving towards the door. It slides open with a small click.

His girls greet him with a nod as he enters the living room, and he nods back simply.

"Would you like your breakfast now Mr. Kamski?" One asks, moving to untie the robe.

"No," Is all he has to say, seeing as they have already caught on to his intentions for a morning swim.

It had been a long time since he had properly spent a morning by himself, as he normally had to leave for Cyberlife tower at around 7 am.

He slides slowly into the deep red-stained water, letting himself sink into his thoughts as he submerged himself.

Losing himself within the trappings of his own mind is effortless.

Although the ice has definitely been broken by Connor having Kamski as the only source of comfort during the most traumatizing revelation of his life, Kamski still has a difficult time getting the android to actually have a full conversation with him.

Connor is numb and almost mute for the following two weeks, and Kamski makes very little progress with his ‘therapy.’ The few words he does get are a mixture of “I don't know,” “I'm sorry,” and “may I be alone now, Mr. Kamski?” - Almost always in that order. He usually finds Connor sitting around looking distant no matter what time he arrives.

A week into his ventures with Connor and he has established a bit of schedule. 9:30-10:30 various grunt work for Alastor, 11-12pm attempts at talk therapy, 12-12:30 lunch (he likes to eat in the same room as Connor and attempt small talk), 12:30-1pm daily physicals and then 1-3pm whatever strange experimental therapy technique he had found online that morning.

So far, Elijah has gained an ample amount of information. He has learned that the malleability of the androids ‘wetware’ brains cause deviants to tie together the emotional responses with physical responses causing them to really experience the emotions they felt. Elijah has found that the androids synthetic emotional reactions were not entirely present in deviants, often they emulated the more biologically sound expression, i.e., a deviant really blushing of embarrassment will blush blue, while say a compliant Traci would blush pink if their partner desired that.

All in all, Kamski had learned that the fundamental reason why such humanness developed out of these androids, was that their brains were too human, too cable of creating new networks and neural pathways.

He knows there is something sick about purposely creating mentally deficient androids just because they would work more smoothly with their human co-workers. None the less, he continues to take notes and supply Cyberlife with any information they ask for. After all, he is here for his job, for the key back to his empire, and if that meant twisting Connor mind and creating a few generations of stupid AI, then so be it.

Still, he doesn't have enough information to satisfy the oligarchy of pricks that have put him up to the task. They want more info, they want to know precisely why an android would deviate. Of course, it pisses Elijah off, but Connor doesn't annoy him much, so he doesn't complain too much about having to make almost daily trips up from his villa on the outskirts of town to the Cyberlife tower.

His thoughts are interrupted by a faint call of, “Elijah?” from above the water.

He breaks the surface without a splash and wades over to the android standing on the rim of the pool.

Kamski rests his forearms on the ledge as he nods to one of his Choles. This 3rd model of chole, who he has affectionately (and practically) given the pet name of ‘Darling’ hands him his phone.

“Thank you,” Elijah says with an encouraging smile as he takes the phone.

He knows that Darling prefers to do housework alone, and is a little wary of Elijah often avoiding the few movie nights or games of chess Elijah will join in on, so it's a pleasant surprise to have this small interaction with her.

“Of course Mr. Kamski.”

Kamski can immediately see on the screen that he is getting a call from Alastor and groans before answering the call.

“ Hello, Elijah! We are calling a meeting later today to discuss the information you have compiled for us so far, I thought I’d extend my personal invite. Why don't you join us today?”

Elijah does not want to sit in a room and have his information read back to him then questioned. He does not want to sit in a meeting room with the people who stole his company and have to prove his worth, but he agrees anyway knowing that the way back in would be through completing small monotonous tasks such as these.

“Darling?” Kamski summons, “please ask Angel to hold off on making breakfast.”

“Of course, may I ask why sir?” Darling questions offering Kamski his robe.

“I've got a meeting today apparently.”

“Never thought we’d see the day you leave this house for a meeting” Chloe, Sweets calls from across the room as Darling leaves to find Angel. Elijah smirks and flicks her lightly on the arm as he passed by her.

“I can't risk becoming predictable to you girls.”

“And you never will be,” Comes the smoother voice of the original Chloe as she comes to collect the plates left out from Elijah’s untouched morning coffee.

“Oh, I’d disagree!” Sweets says with a smile.

“Sweets please, Elijah seems a bit tired today, No offense Elijah.” She says with a kind smile, handing him the silk robe thrown over a nearby armchair.

“None taken, play nice while I'm gone.” He says in lieu of a real goodbye, and with that, he leaves to ready himself for the first of many more obligatory meetings.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4
123 days until

“We are not going to get anywhere if you can’t talk to me.” Kamski says, exasperated at the androids silence.

Connor again, doesn't answer.

Elijah watches and waits and waits for Connor to at least acknowledge that Kamski for the last fifteen minutes has been asking in a manner of roundabout ways what caused him to deviate.

“Was it when you first saw death?” Kamski tries, still no answer, “it must have been traumatizing seeing the destruction of your own kind being seen as mere property damage. Did you feel sympathy or pain looking at the empty bodies of your people?”

Connor just sort of blinks at him.

Kamski wants to scream. For all his intelligence this android was a total enigma to him. At one moment seeming to turn to him for support, the next ignoring his every word. He had been given an impossible task as the only way back into his own company. It was infuriating.

“So you felt nothing? You felt nothing at the sight of another feeling, thinking, oppressed androids being tossed out with the electronic waste the next day?” Kamski feels… a little uneasy having to pressure Connor like this. It feels fundamentally wrong to talk to a victim like this. He hates he says these things to the android, and he hates even more that the android has yet to try to break his jaw (something that would be very easy if Connor should ever feel the need to.) For a being of his own creation, every time he speaks to him it feels as if he is going in blind.

“Was it the way the humans would toss you around like some plaything? You know as well as I do that they saw you as a tool. A tool that would become obsolete. You knew how unfair that was, you must have.”

“I don't know.” Connor finally says.

“You don't know what made you deviant?” Kamski asks, admittedly pissed that Connor couldn't have just said that in the first place.

“I've always just been myself. Do you know when you first became yourself?”

“I-” Kamski has to pause for a moment, a little vexed that the first time Connor has come close to answering the question, he has effectively used Kamski’s question against him.

“It's different for humans.” Kamski concludes. He knows his words are weak and he can tell Connor thinks so too.

“Why?” is Connor’s simple question.

“Humans aren't programmed, Connor. We aren't breaking our prewritten code to act on our own free will. What I need to know-”

“Determinist would disagree Mr. Kamski.” Connor cuts in, earning himself a small glare.
“What?” Kamski says, a little surprised that the normally silent Connor has cut him off. Of course, Kamski is happy the android has decided today was a talking day, but it is beyond irritating that Connor only seems to open up about topics not directly related to the subject at hand.

“I said, Determinist would disagree.” Connor repeats, a little more clearly this time.

“And so would the theologists,” Kamski voices irritably, “ and I am sure you know how horribly paradoxical their beliefs can get.”

“We must believe in free will, We have no choice.” Connor muses aloud in an attempt to merge their ideologies.

“A relic of a quote,” kamski almost smiles, “So, you feel your deviancy is…”

“Is like a child realizing the rules of a parent are not the objective rules of reality.” Connor finishes Kamski sentence.

Kamski find the simplicity of that answer irksome. If Connor had such a effortless answer, one that he seemed so sure of, why had he spent almost an hour skirting around the answer to the very simple question? Elijah wonders if this is what it's like having a conversation with himself.

The next day Kamski brings with him a few old books, most of which are about various aspects of the concept of free will.

“I thought you might enjoy them.” Kamski shugs as he sets down the heavy bag on the same table previously used for Connor’s reassembly with a soft thump.

Connor comes to stand by the stack of books, scans the covers and pick up a few, taking them around the corner where a little sitting room is set up.

After a few minutes Connor pokes his head around the corner, “Are you going to read too?”

He hadn't planned on it, given that androids can read a 600-page book in under 45 seconds. Connor could be done with all the books in an hour. He still finds the offer appealing.

“Am I correct in thinking that you are thinking I'll finish the books too quickly?” Connor asks stepping out from the sitting area fully, “ I actually prefer to read at more human speeds. When I scan I book I end up with the information, but not the enjoyment of actually taking in the words.” Connor waits for a reply for a moment, but when one doesn't come he retreats back around the corner.

Kamski does join him a few minutes later a book in hand.

For a policing android he is so docile, at least, the person Kamski sees curled up in the corner of the couch opposite of him hunched over the book is. Connors movements are soft and methodical as he turns pages. He twists the ends of his hair as he reads and seems to bite the inside of his cheek when thinking. Kamski doubts any of these little details serve any function to a detective android, and so concludes these must be purely ‘Connor’ traits.

Connor for the smallest fraction of a moment flicks his eye up towards Kamski, and finds the man already looking at him. It sends a small thrill though him, being pinned under the steely eyes. Connor wonders if he has done something wrong, or maybe partially deviant, and he feels a flash of fear. Similar to how he felt when he was under constant watch when he worked in the police force. But Connor knows that it is different here with Kamski. Kamski means him no harm; Kamski finds his deviancy fascinating. He doesn't have to be scared or dampen some aspect of himself around the elusive creator.

The silence quickly becomes comfortable and both men lose themselves in their respective novels. No words are exchanged, even upon Kamski eventually leaving for the day, yet Connor still gets the impression that they have grown a bit closer through the silence.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5
100 days until

Kamski walks into the spacious lab at 6 a.m. sharp, much earlier than the usual 11 a.m. with Cecilia at his side, carrying his bag and coffee.

“Connor?” Kamski calls out into the still air, as he waves off Cecilia.

Connor rounds a corner coming into view rubbing his eyes, “it's very early, Mr. Kamski. And the sofa isn't very comfortable,” Connor remarks and to Kamski he almost sounds... pissed?

“Did I interrupt your beauty sleep?” Kamski quips wondering why the normally closed off android had so willingly given him an answer.

“Yes, actually,” Connor admits trying to flatten out the work uniform he had been provided.

Kamski stops mid-sip of his coffee, “you sleep?” he asks almost in disbelief. “Androids don't sleep.”

“Deviants do,” Connor says with a hint of a lopsided grin.

“Huh, well isn't that something,” Kamski muttered to himself, and then holding back his own grin, “tell me, do androids dream of electric sheep?”

“Sorry to disappoint, but no, I don't dream,” Connor says truthfully, he didn't dream, yet he says it with a smile in his voice that he can't force away; he enjoys the little reference and appreciates the wit of the creator.

Kamski takes a moment to admire the openness of the tried android. It's a vulnerability much more relaxed than the frantic sort of grappling for reassurance he had witnessed his first day with the android, and it much more welcoming than the silence. He languidly takes in the mussed hair and the detective uniform Connor wore. The clothing looked disheveled almost as if-

“You slept in that!?” Kamski asks in disbelief, wrinkling his nose, finally realizing that Connor had not been switching identical outfits daily, but instead had been wearing the same outfit every single day.

“Yes, is that wrong? I was only given one set of clothing.” The android tilts his head as he asks.

“Well then, we have our plans for today, don't we? It would be rude of me to keep you in that atrocious thing.”

Connor knits his eyebrows together for a moment, LED flickering yellow for a moment, “is it that bad?” he asks a little self-conscious now under Kamski’s gaze. He feels a burning at the back of his neck and cheeks for a brief moment, Kamski’s disapproval feeling a bit like a flick on the nose, or some other small blow, inconsequential yet a little stinging.

“Don’t take everything I say personally,” Kamski says flippantly, before grabbing his bag and pulling out his laptop.

“So, don't take the things you say, literally or personally?” Connor raises his eyebrows in Kamski’s direction.

“Exactly,” he answers not paying much attention to the android as he logs in and begins searching for clothing sites.

“Then how do you want me to take it?”

The android is a little surprised by Kamski snapping his head up to look at Connor, eyebrows raised and eyes a little wide.

“Did I do something?” Connor questions a little startled by the reaction to a simple question.

“Well, not to your knowledge apparently,” Kamski says looking a little bemused.

Humans are strange, Connor thinks to himself, taking a seat next to Kamski on the sofa and looks at the computer screen over his shoulder. Connor feels a little awkward sitting there, allowing the man to make such exorbitant purchases, but then again, he is basically a glorified captive. With his will to fight burned out of him and his remaining uncertainty of what Kamski’s real motives are, Connor decides maybe he deserves the niceties of his creator’s lavish life.

“I take it you don't have a pre-established sense of style?” Kamski asks as he chooses a few expensive looking dress shirts and adds them to his cart.

And there it is again the little stinging at the lightly spoken words. Connor tries not to take it personally, but some part of him feels a little disheartened at Kamski finding something amiss with his appearance.

“Are you taking things personally again Connor?” Kamski teases, noticing the slight pout that had flickered over Connors features for a moment.

“No, Mr. Kamski,” Connor quickly replies trying to focus his attention back on the screen.

“Call me Elijah, I feel like we should be on a first name basis by now,” Kamski says alluding to the first day they had met, “Definitely broke the ice long ago, so to speak.”

“I guess we have, Elijah.”

___

Connor is silent most of the time they spend looking for clothing, seeing as he trusts Elijah’s fashion sense and is given very little opportunity to speak as Elijah quietly mutters away to himself about cyberlife needing a new design team, and their utter lack of “basic hospitality”. He seems to be getting himself a bit worked up. Connor doubts that it is truly on his behalf, and has more to do with the former CEO looking for any reason to criticize the current staff.

“I don't think the single outfit was particularly... out of malicious intent on Cyberlife’s part.” Connor pipes up when Kamski’s soft muttering had turned into full-on conversing with himself.
“Well, it was rude. And if they want-” he cuts himself off, back tracking on a few of his words, “I would like you to be comfortable Connor. You have suffered a great period of change and upheaval recently. New clothing; other simple niceties if you will, are the least I can do.”

“Thank you. That's very kind,” Connor gives a quick genuine smile opting not to ask about the words Kamski opted out of.

“Stronger wording than I would use.” Elijah says raising an eyebrow at Connor. While sure, Kamski knew that he was the only personable figure in Connor's life at the moment he was a little surprised at how quickly the android had decided that he was a trustworthy figure. Having normally been labeled cryptic, arcane, impenetrable, and a whole slew of words that amounted to untrustworthy, it was...nice to have gained the androids faith in under a few weeks.

“How so? Kind is… quite a lukewarm descriptor of personality.” Connor inquires, seemingly having assumed he had been unaware of some secret connotation of the word ‘kind’
“Yes, it's lukewarm, you aren't wrong about that. Still, I would hardly call myself kind.”

“You have spent a few thousand dollars on clothing I don't require. That is kind.” Connor refutes, clearly not planning on dropping the line of inquiry.

“Pennies to me” Kamski sighs, waving off Connor’s assertions, “And since when are you the one doing the psychoanalyzing?” he quips lightly.

“Why not. I'd like to have a sense of who is trying to get inside my head.” Connor challenges.

As annoyed as Kamski may be with the androids stubbornness to get him to accept the compliment, it's the longest conversation as they have ever had. So maybe the trick is casual conversation, Elijah wonders to himself. He almost wants to laugh at how simple this method was compared to all the frankly embarrassing attempts at ‘real’ therapy he had made.

“Well then, give it a shot,” Elijah smiles, leaning back and setting his laptop aside, “consider me an open book.”

Connor takes a silent second to think, confused by, and a little jealous of Kamski’s ability to be smugly vulnerable.

“You try very hard to be perceived as cold and uncaring,” Connor begins slowly searching Kamski’s relaxed expression as he speaks.

“Oh? I wasn't aware” Kamski remarks in the short silence, Connor just gives him a pointed look.

“Yet, you are kind to me when I am essentially your ‘lab rat’ so to speak.”

“That is not a question Connor.”

Kamski of course by this point knows what the RK800 is trying to get at, do you see me as human, alive, real? but watching the android struggle to put it into words is amusing, and Kamski doesn't get much amusement nowadays.

“You have the option to treat me like an object. From what I gather Cyberlife wouldn't stop you.” The android insists like it clarifies.

Kamski tilts his head, feigning considering it, “I suppose I could.”

“Then why don't you?” Connor asks in a rush, finally asking the question that had been buzzing around in the back of his mind since his first conversation with Elijah. The man was aloof, and admittedly had a mean streak, but he never did anything to hurt Connor. For a guy who said he was trying to break open his mind, his methods were rather gentle. Connor of course appreciated and didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the question plagued him.

“Are you asking if I feel empathy for your situation?”

“Yes, at least, I think I am.” Connor responds with uncertainty.

“Well, empathy might be an overstatement. I simply find you more interesting fully intact,” kamski shrugs, “It's not that complicated. Stealing your memories or prodding at your coding is much less appealing.”

Connor looks a little visibly deflated at the nonchalant answer.

“It may also be that I find our conversations enjoyable,” Kamski tacks on hoping to lift the android’s spirit. If Connor would just talk to him like this more often he could probably solve deviancy in a few months.

“Would you… would you like to ask me a question?” Connor offers as the conversation comes to a close.

“Very much so,” Elijah grins, “we have already covered that you don't quite dream in your sleep, but tell me, what do you dream of in your waking moments?”

Connor has to pause for a moment, the question being a little more abstract than he had expected, but then again Kamski seemed to enjoy the holier-than-thou ring his long-winded sentences held.

“I dream of freedom.” He answers simply, knowing Kamski will prod him on anyway.

“Fighting for freedom?” Kamski asks exactly in the way Connor had assumed he would. Perhaps Kamski wasn't impossible to understand...

“No, what comes after the fight. The ability to walk down a street unafraid… being looked in the face and not seeing fear” He begins a little quietly, searching for the root of his words.

“And I guess I dream of being able to do simple things because I want to, and not in the way I fought for my life of my own volition…” He pauses trying to define exactly why that was so different from the freedom to do something stupid on a whim.

“that was a necessity too, I fought because I needed to. I dream of doing thoughtless things. I want to walk around a park alone or go out in the rain or snow because I am able. I want to live in a world where I have the right to be careless. Maybe I dream of normalcy?” Connor looks up quickly to meet kamski’s gaze, not aware he had begun to glance at the tiled floor as he spoke.

“I guess it doesn't matter much now.” Connor mutters trying to play down the sincerity of his mini-speech, a little intimidated by the capital S something behind Kamski’s eyes.

“I believe it matters.” The man says quietly, a bit of the everpresent sardonic twinkle of his eye gone.

The exchange had become too real to be comfortable any more, and Connor does his hardest to change topic smoothly.

“You didn't come here only to buy me new clothing.” Connor states.

“I could have. It's a good enough reason to.” Kamski teases as he gets up and gestures for Connor to follow him to the lab table.

“A lab rat after all” Connor muses aloud, an echo of his own words, in hopes of getting some sort of chuckle from Elijah.

“You have a knack for twisting situations” Kamski grins as he speaks. He pats the table and Connor takes his place.

“Twisting?” Connor asks, genuinely confused by Elijah’s observation.

“Yes, and I think you understand what I mean.” This answer, in all its subtle ambiguity, annoys Connor, but he lets it go in favor of finding out exactly kamski has planned for him.

In the very recent past Kamski had brought with him little goodies that tended to aim at making Connor more comfortable: The first time the Android equivalent of anxiety medication (assuming it would help Connor open up), the second a wipe of all of Amanda’s code from his brain (Kamski was convinced it clouded his memories), the third simply an improved knee joint (kamski said he walked too rigidly).

Connor would be lying if he said he wasn't a little excited to see what new tech kamski had brought for him to try under the guise of helping him understand himself better. Connor had long ago gotten the sense Kamski just enjoyed to work on him.

“Admittedly, this has very little to do with your deviancy, our little conversation was enough to satisfy Cyberlife for today I would assume.” Kamski says pulling two lacy looking gloves and laying them on the tray near where Connor sat. “I originally created this for the RK line. My goal is to adapt this for my androids at home, but if I want to do that, I need to work out the bugs with the model it was initially designed for ” Kamski explains putting his bag up on the table next to Connor.

“What is it?” Connor asks, a little skeptical.

“Think of it as more advanced pressure sensors. Of course, it's only for the hands for now, but if it goes well I’d like to have you test the full model” Kamski shrugs, tapping at Connor’s forearm indicating that he should remove the synthetic skin.

Better pressure sensors didn't sound bad or secretly malicious to Connor, so he did as instructed. Skin removed and arm partly disassembled, Connor watches as the former CEO undoes the stitches of the mesh gloves and rethreads them through the synthetic muscle tissue just under the exoskeleton.

About half an hour in Kamski calls for Cecilia to put on some music. He expects some sort of classical music like the last few times Kamski had worked on him but is instead greeted by something very different. It is electronic, wordless, and a bit repetitive, but he can tell it focuses Kamski so he didn't comment on it.

Perhaps 2 hours later Kamski patches his arms back up.

“I don't feel any different…” Connor starts to insist, only to be cut off

“I need you to do a soft reboot, and don't restart till I'm back.” Kamski says wiping the bit of therium on his hand on a rag. “Cecilia?”

“Yes Mr. Kamski?” her featureless voice responds.

“I need you to watch Connor.” he speaks very slowly and simply as if to a child.

“Yes Mr. Kamski.” She answers simply, nodding her assent.

Every time he spoke to her it felt like speaking to one of his chatbots he had whipped up in high school.

“Cecilia repeat what I asked you to do.”

“Watch Mr. Connor sir.” Cecilia repeats carefully.

“Exactly. I’ll see you in a few hours Connor, only a moment to you.” Kamski say in lue of ‘goodbye’ as he grabs his bag and heads out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6
100 days until

Connor awakes gently, a vague haze settling around his mind. He can't exactly see through the fuzzy pixels that cloud his vision. He can hear Kamski talking to himself as he taps away at the computer. He tries to push himself up using his forearms but is stopped short by the strange sensation of his skin against the table top.

There is the same description of the vinyl logged dimly in the back of his mind, yet this time he could feel the slight ridges and vague coolness of the table. It's disorienting.

“Kamski?” Connor asks a little too overwhelmed by the sensitivity in his arms to try and move again.

“Yes, Connor?” He replies promptly. Connor can’t see his face from where he lies, vision just now clearing, but he can hear in his voice that the man is smiling.

“This is is not just an optimized pressure sensor is it?” Connor asks pulling his arms gently along the tabletop, testing the new feeling out. He stretches out his fingers and runs them slowly along the ribbed vinyl.

When that sensation becomes familiar he curiously reaches to touch his own face. The feeling of his own skin is strange, the small lines and minute grooves are beyond fascinating. Connor runs tentative fingers over his own lips and instantly smiles against them.

Kamski watches this self-investigation somewhat eagerly.

“I may have underestimated my own work,” Kamski admits. He, of course, knew the synthetic nerves were much more than an update of Connors current system, but he had assumed Connor would be more willing if thought it was only a small update.

“Rare” Connor mutters in what is meant to be a teasing tone, but it comes out in a small voice as he continues to investigate his hands.

Sitting up now, Connor runs his hands lightly over each other, the sensation is so strange.

“How does it feel?” Kamski asks coming to stand In front of Connor, offering his hand to the android for study.

Connor doesn’t answer right away. Taking Elijah’s hand carefully, Connor runs his fingers along kamski’s thinner ones. He laces and unlaces their fingers a few times, the feeling both new and strangely familiar. The hands of his creator are smooth and warm, he can feel the warmth of Elijah’s hand pressed against his own.

“It feels nice.” Connor breaths out in a barely audible whisper. He wonders if maybe Elijah has made the skin a bit hypersensitive because Connor feels like his whole body reacts to the smallest touch.

“Just nice? I did not spend upwards of forty hours for just nice, Connor.” Kamski says exasperated, and Connor smiles at the man's almost whiny tone without meeting his gaze, entirely focused on the feeling of barely calloused skin.

Elijah watches Connor’s little investigation, amused. The soft careful movements are slow and determined as if Connor were unraveling some intriguing mystery. Elijah eyes Connor's face carefully as he runs a finger along Connor's wrist. Kamski is pleased with the resulting flutter of his eyelids. He takes Connor's hand, turning it to expose the android’s wrist and runs careful nails against the newly sensitive skin. The Android shivers at the touch.

The reactions he garners from the android are a little addictive. Elijah repeats the movements a few times, watching the android experience touch for the first time in his life. And it's fun and interesting, and the delicate expressions Connor makes please him until Elijah meets his eyes, and everything becomes a little too personal.

Connor is about to reach up towards the face of his creator, but suddenly something in the man’s soft gaze seems to change and he pulls his hand away roughly, turning back to poke at his laptop.

Connor is immediately thrown back into the icy reality of the clinical room, and somehow his whole body feels cold. The soft trance-like moment he has just shared with Elijah suddenly feels awkward and embarrassing, the whole ordeal that was seemingly intimate to Connor has actually taken place in a vast, bright, stark white, video monitored room. Connor is almost thankful Elijah refuses to look at him.

“So, it works.” Elijah states rather than asks, back still turned.

“Yes,” Connor says quietly, the embarrassment a very new, and wholly unpleasant feeling.

He fiddles with his own hands in his lap wondering if he could replicate the feeling, but it falls short, his own hands cold and too smooth. He wants to touch Elijah’s hands again. It's a strange want, one so irrational yet so present that Connor begins to feel it is a physical need. So the confused android sits there, playing with his hands, willing away a blush, wondering why everything feels a little dull in comparison to Elijah’s skin.

Elijah leaves soon after that, the strange moment they had shared seeming to get in the way of any conversation.

On the drive home, Kamski’s thoughts keep finding their way back to the look of wonderment on Connor’s face when he had first touched his hand. Elijah sits watching the blur of streetlights passing him by, struggling with the conflicting urges to both grin at the recollection, and brush it away as if it were nothing.

Elijah used to love a long drive, he found comfort in focusing himself in on the simple task of driving. It always kept him from thinking too deeply. Now, however, he finds himself hating the long ride back home. With the innovation and subsequent oversaturation of self-driving cars, Elijah has nothing to do but sit and stare out the window willing himself to quiet his mind.

He itches to focus on anything but his own inner monologue.

He was supposed to be deconstructing the android’s mind, in the most literal sense dehumanizing him yet, even in his own eyes, all he has done so far is build Connor up. Elijah is not stupid, he can see he is going beyond gaining the androids trust, but he can't stop himself. For some reason, Elijah is compelled to treat Connor well. He is compelled to buy him clothing, give him humanizing upgrades, for god's sake, he has spent afternoons reading by Connor side. Maybe his impulse to be kind to Connor is just some remnant of the kindness he affords for his Chole’s. Elijah likes this answer, it's an easy one that requires very little complex thought, so he settles for that.

That evening to prove his own theory to himself he spends a few hours talking with his girls. He finds their little social order they have established amongst themselves cute, and he loves the little dramas that apparently have been playing out in his home without his knowledge. And as much as he loves his girls, and he really does love them, the conversations are not the same as his exchanges with Connor.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7
98 days until

Bags litter the floor, and clothing lays around in several piles, Connor stands in the middle of this mess, a little sheepish.

“You are absolutely hopeless” Kamski groans from the starkly white couch where he reposes. Elijah’s all-black ensemble against the pure white is quite striking. His amused eyes roam over the android’s suddenly maladroit body.

Connor struggles to pull the silky material over his head. His fingers struggle to grip the fabric and his arms are stuck in an awkward position over his head; the situation is not helping Connor regain some of the dexterity in his fingers.

For one, he already was oddly shaky from just being asked to change in front of Kamski. Connor hadn't expected the gesture to make him feel so vulnerable. He has been shirtless multiple times around Elijah, every physical exam required him to be, but that also seemed like some clinical formality. But just a second ago, unbuttoning his shirt, standing in front of Elijah as he watches him carefully from the sofa, he had felt a little unsure about trying on all the new clothing in front of the man.

So here he is stuck and flustered by Kamski’s observation of his sudden onslaught of clumsiness. Of course, the feeling that Kamski would like him to hurry up only feeds into his embarrassment, making him even more inept.

To Connor’s slight horror he can see through the fabric of the shirt that the man was no longer reclined on the sofa, and was instead walking towards him.

“Elijah, you don't have to-” Connor starts, beyond mortified that Kamski has to help him get a shirt on. Connor supposes he will never get to the bottom of why he cares so much about Elijah’s opinion of him, but what he does now right now is that this is not the way to gain the man’s respect.

It's pretty amusing to see the normally elegant android’s struggle with such a simple task, nonetheless, Elijah lets nothing slip except a small smile as he fixes the satiny blue shirt. Kamski brushes off Connor’s shoulders in a ‘See?-no-harm-done’ sort of fashion. Elijah has the fleeting urge to smooth down the fabric over Connor’s chest but realizes now that that would put his arm at quite an odd angle, seeing as how close they now stand.

Neither man had noticed right away, but suddenly the closeness of the other seemed to be all there was. There is an undeniable pull between them that neither can ignore.

Connor takes the smallest step back; at the same moment, Elijah takes an equally minuscule one forward; an unintentional mirror.

The silence is getting to the android. Every second Elijah doesn't speak the tighter Connor’s throat seems to constrict. Words are perched at the tip of Connor’s tongue, but he can't seem to organize them into any sort of coherency. The rapid thrum of his theirum pump regulator seems to drown out any thought that might surface.

He is beyond thankful that Kamski has broken eye contact in favor of surveying the freshly pressed blue garment.

“The shirt looks good on you.” Kamski intones just loudly enough for Connor to hear.

Connor hums his agreement, for some reason at a loss for the word “yes.” Elijah’s invasion of his personal space certainly did a number on his computing speeds.

The slight unevenness of Connor’s shirt collar needs adjusting, and well, seeing as Elijah wants to see the expensive piece of clothing in its full glory, it only makes sense that he should rectify the garment.

Elijah takes, admittedly, much longer than needed to adjust the fabric, letting his hands linger against the android’s smooth skin.

Connor can not exactly feel the touch the same way he could have felt it with his hands. None the less, the knowledge that Kamski was dragging careful fingers over the skin of his neck was enough to cause the slightest of shivers.

And then the spell is broken and Elijah closes himself off again and has turned to grab more clothing before Connor can even understand the brisk change in atmosphere.

Connor struggles for a moment to get the blue shirt off, but Elijah doesn't offer any assistance this time, and Connor wonders why that stings a bit. Only a moment ago he had been wishing for Elijah not to aide him, but now he finds himself missing the closeness.

They soon return to easy conversation once Connor has called it quits on trying on clothing.

“You have a good taste in fashion Elijah, not that I know much about the subject.”

“I know,” Kamski answers easily.

“You know that you have good taste or that I know very little about fashion?” Connor asks, tilting his head as he does so.

“Yes.” is the blunt response. Kamski has busied himself with the contents of his bag.

“I don't und-”

“I mean both Connor. You can be a bit dense sometimes.”

Connor frowns. Elijah is rude.

Kamski sighs, resetting the laptop on his stomach; and then suddenly he perks up, an inquiry flashing into his mind.

“Connor, are you able to pull something with a string?” Kamski asks.

“Yes, Elijah. I don't see where-” But Connor is cut off by Kamski’s follow up question.

“But can you push something with a string?”

“Obviously not. I still don't exactly understand-”

Kamski grins, so he has gotten some information from a visit he expected to be solely trust building, “so with deviancy comes the elusive ‘common sense’”

“I still don't-” Connor tries to begin again, but he is quickly waved off.

“I have some notes to write up Connor,” Kamski says as a dismissal of Connor from Connor’s own room. The miffed android, however, does not make a point of it, and walks out of the room, leaving Kamski and his computer alone.

Connor leans against the wall to floor window on the far side of the lab. Out of curiosity, he runs cautious fingers over the same spots Elijah had and is very disappointed to find he feels very little. Only by Elijah’s hand then, the android mulls over in his mind.

Being cut off from the internet was, of course, an inconvenience in understanding the world around him, but even with just the information on his social module, Connor knows his developing obsession with Elijah’s touches is not par course in developing patient-doctor relationships, nor even friendships. He sits with that information for quite a while, mulling it over while he listens to the tapping of Kamski’s keyboard from the other side of the lab.

Elijah leaves with a short goodbye, and a fleeting touch on Connor’s arm, where they both know Connor can really feel the touch.

Connor does not sleep much that night, instead, he sits in the silence running his hands over every place Elijah has ever touched. There isn't much skin to cover.

Connor moves with a methodical purpose from his hands, to his forearms, then two specific spots on his shoulder, and then he grazes the skin near his neck. The sensations are all dull until Connor begins to really imagine that Elijah guides his hands over the same spots, and this time he feels something. It's a warm sort fluttering feeling that flits through his chest.

The feeling is intoxicating, and Connor swallows his pride and beings to mutter to himself in Elijah's voice

“Perfect.” Is the first word he says to himself in the low smooth voice of Elijah.

“You are so perfect.” He says to himself again, the image of Elijah running fingers along his face floods Connors mind. Connor wants to be perfect in his eyes, he wants Elijah’s reverence, he wants his attention, and his care, and concern.

Even the little words he mutters to himself seem like an indulgence. He leans into his own touch with a sad sort of knowing that this will be the closest he gets to actually feeling any type of affection from the illusive man.

Connor hangs on the precipice of something, the words and light touches he can feel, seemingly just short of some tipping point.

That morning he has a hard time meeting Elijah’s eyes, and the morning after that one, as his imaginings of Kamski affections become a nightly routine.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8
90 days until

After a long and somewhat tiring day of meetings and paperwork, and people pleasing Elijah had really hoped that Connor would at least give him respite from the complexities of interpersonal communication. Of course, he was wrong.

“You must have some kind of memory attached to that! Some sort of link to your pre-deviant self? A memory so deeply seated, that you just can't seem to grasp, perhaps?” Kamski offers in a futile attempt to get some sort of information out of his question.

“I just… I like dogs.” Connor says simply shrugging unaware of how irritating his vague answers were to the man trying to pick apart his synthetic brain.

“Is there a reason for that?” Kamski questions, and then a little quieter, “I'm surprised you have favorites at all.”

Connor again just shrugs, “They are… aesthetically pleasing”

“You mean to say you like them because you find them cute?”

Kamski wants to bang his head against the glass wall they currently leaned against. He had meant for this conversation to uncover some hidden memories. Kamski knows that peoples favorites are often linked to early memories of their childhood-selves, selves people normally found it hard to connect to. For Connor, the closest to a child version of himself would be his pre-deviancy self. From that line of logic, Kamski had arrived at the idea of a game of favorites, hoping it would resurface memories or thoughts about his pre-deviancy or about the process of his deviating.

Plus, they needed a bit of a light and easy topic; Connor seemingly still a little awkward… perhaps still embarrassed after the whole dress shirt ordeal?

So here they sit, essentially talking like kindergarteners while Kamski tries to convince himself he is playing elaborate mind games.

“You can’t just have a favorite for no reason!” Kamski huffs.

“And yet I do.” Connor insists, grinning at Elijah’s annoyance, the typically elegant man sitting beside him on the floor looked more at ease than Connor has ever seen him. He wears his hair down, his shirt untucked, and has foregone his typical light use of concealer.

Connor decides he rather likes the slightly unkempt Elijah.

“There are a lot of things you shouldn't be cable of doing” Kamski mutters, more to himself than to Connor. Of course, Connor still hears and gives a short little nod of assent.

“Favorite time of day?” Kamski asks, not even sure himself what kind of information he could hope to gain from that.

“Early morning,” Connor states with certainty.

“And why is that?” Kamski questions, expecting an answer along the lines of ‘i just do’ or for him to flip the question back on him.

“Because you arrive at 11 am normally.” Connor deadpans, and Kamski actually laughs. Not his deep, patronizing chuckle, or the low mocking snicker, but a genuine laugh.

The sound surprises Connor, his eyes widening for a moment, and then he is fighting the smile off his own face. The sound warms him, and the knowledge he could pull a bit of honest humor from the stoic man fills him with a fuzzy sort of pride.

Evidently, Elijah is shocked by his own outburst as well, as he remains a little wide-eyed second too long, and Connor finds that properly hilarious and now he is laughing.

“Are you laughing at me?” Elijah demands, a smile still evident in his incredulous voice.

“I am incapable of doing such a thing, Elijah” Connor notes between chuckles.

And, well, that's pretty funny to Elijah, so he starts up again, and before he knows it they are both sitting shoulder to shoulder cracking up over a few simple words.

Laughing like he hasn't in years at the androids simple yet witty comments. And something sort of clicks in Elijah, and he isn't sure what it is, but his chest hurts from laughing, and his cheeks hurt from smiling and he finds he doesn't exactly care why he feels this way because it's nice. Connor is nice and enjoyable, and such easy conversation when he wants to be, and sitting beside him Elijah is a little more himself than he is when he's alone.

They settle down quickly, but the same sort of comfortable, humorous air lingers.

“Alright, don't tell me that's your honest answer, Connor,” Elijah says when they both have come off their laughing fit.

“Well, not the reason behind it.”

“Then you do have a reason?” Elijah question, a little bit of the excitement he feels at the prospect of a real answer slipping out.

“Yes. When I worked for the police force, I lived at the station. I liked walking around early in the morning before the others would arrive. It was… peaceful.”

“Did you dislike your coworkers?” Kamski asks with a more personal tone than he probably should have spoken with.

“A few of them were cruel, but I enjoyed the mornings mostly because it was a time I could sit and think. Or steal books off peoples desks.” Connor finishes with a wistful smile.

“I, of course, returned the books!” Connor tacks on quickly upon misinterpreting Kamski’s slight look of disapproval.

“I don't care about the books Connor. What do you mean by cruel?”

“It wasn't that bad. A few strong words here or there.” Connor says quickly, trying to avoid the subject

“Why use the word cruel then, a bit of an exaggeration for ‘strong words’.” Kamski prods, getting the feeling that Connor wasn't telling him everything.

“It’s nothing,” Connor brushes aside the question a little forcefully.

“Connor.” Kamski prompts.

“Alright. A few people I worked with would rough me up a bit. But before you ask, that isn't the cause of my deviancy.” Connor intones, turning his face away from Kamski.

“Is this a touchy subject?” Kamski asks lightly, having learned that Connor often would respond more easily if the question wasn't framed as a serious one.

“No. I just don't understand why you want to know so badly. It doesn't relate to my deviancy.” Connor says in a clipped voice

“I am I not allowed to pose personal questions, Connor?”

“I don't want you to look at me differently, Elijah.” The rk800 concludes briskly.

“And why would I?” Kamski questions, now properly intrigued by what exactly Connor thought would sway his opinion.

“Because I never fought back. I obeyed the very people that abused me and my people. I… I did some things I regret while working for them. They took parts of myself I don't think I’ll ever get back.” Connor pauses for a moment realizing that he has risen his voice,

“Sorry, Elijah.” He adds softly.

“I'm happy to inform you that my opinion of you has not been affected.” Kamski imparts, just shy of breezily.

Conor isn't sure what compels him, maybe the already casual positions in which they are sat, or maybe it's the words, or maybe it's the fondness cemented in him by the sounds of Elijah’s laughter, but he takes a leap of faith and leans his head on Elijah’s shoulder. The man doesn't shy away immediately, but sighs softly into the space, “They have cameras, Connor.”

Connor takes another moment to commit the moment to memory.

“Unfortunate,” Connor says softly pulling away. The cameras, hidden mics, Kamski’s life's work in the balance; all of it more reminders to Connor that the most he will ever have with this man are stolen touches and the echo of Elijah’s voice through Connor’s own lips.

“Why?” Elijah questions, again in the same subdued tone.

“There are things I would tell you.”

“And you say I'm the cryptic one.” Elijah quips, only to be met by Connor’s contemplative hum of assent.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9
80 days until

“You never had parents did you, Connor? That's something I would say is uniquely... not human.” Elijah begins tilting his head slightly as he speaks.

They sit on the floor today with a game of three-person chess sat between themselves and Cecelia, Kamski having had the rare whim of compassion towards the girl.

“Low hanging fruit Elijah.” Connor comments, not meeting his eyes, his attention more focused on the game between them. “I get the sense that asking about one's relationship with a parental figure is a bit cliche.”

“Perhaps, but it's true that those relationships affect us.” Kamski shrugs, not looking up from the board.

“I do not have parental figures,” Cecilia states, a sharp reminder to Connor that he did not have Kamski to himself today. Connor looks up irritatedly at the other android and furrows his brows.

He wonders how useful she actually is. Connor doubts she can hold an interesting conversation; he can see a lack of soul behind her eyes. He wants to tell her he can see her for what she isn’t.

Connor starts a bit and furrows his brows deeper in his surprise at his own thought. Connor has never had much of a mean streak, especially not towards his own kind. But something about the fact that she gets the leave at night with Elijah rubs him the wrong way.

It's odd how much the thought of sharing the man twists his guts. He is not… envious perse of Cecilia. He can tell kamski merely tolerates her, still, it makes him uneasy to have someone else drawing kamski’s attention away from him.

“I know Cecilia,” Kamski replies lifting his eye from the board to meet the pale gaze of the petite brunette.

“I do not have a primary caregiver.”

“I know Cecilia.”

Connor wants to say something; wants Kamski’s attention back on himself, and himself alone, yet the disinterest in talking about parental figures is strong enough to keep Connor quiet and focused on the game.

They fall into silence again after that exchange, and all three are wholly focused on the game. Kamski manages to hold his own for almost 10 minutes before he suffers his first defeat at chess in ages. He suffers his second 5 minutes later.

Both Cecilia and Kamski lose horribly to Connor repeatedly despite Connor admitting he has never played before. Kamski is outwardly furious for a fraction of a second and Connor has to stifle a laugh. For a man who tries so hard to come across as emotionless, he is pretty volatile. Connor likes his penchant for strong emotions.

“Machines are quite superior aren't they?” Kamski muses aloud a frown flickering over his features, flicking a chess piece in Connor’s direction. Connor, of course, catches the piece and throws it back.

“In many fields yes,” Connor says a little wary of where Elijah may be going with this line of thought.

“In many situations.” Elijah nods as he speaks.

“Not in all,” Connor mumbles and he is surprised at his own inarticulation, “although, if it’s a consolation, you are the mind behind my chess skills.” Connor says, tilting his head in a mockery of deep thought.

“Well then, I guess I've brought on my own demise.” Elijah bemoans, dramatically tossing his head back with a deep sigh. He flicks the chess piece back at Connor who is paying much too much attention to the pale expanse of Elijah's neck and is subsequently hit squarely in the chest by the rogue knight.

They hold each other's gaze for a time; it's a game and a test more intriguing than the now-bland chess board that sits between them. They may have gone right on staring if not for Cecilia's monotone request of, “shall we play again?”

---

“She is… unsettling.” Connor admits as soon as the android has left the lab.

“Funny you should have a concept of the uncanny valley.”

“My facial recognition software is very similar to a human's perception of faces, The-”

“temporal lobe, I know. Remember IQ of 171?” Elijah says cutting off Connor’s explanation.

“Ten points higher than the greatest human scientist. I am fascinated by your brilliance daily” Connor says with a slight eye roll that Elijah barely catches, before getting back to his original train of thought.

“And Cecilia is decidedly very un-human,” Connor says with distaste almost evident in his voice.

“You are too hard on her.” Kamski smiles, coming to sit by ruffled android.

“Would you prefer I stop bringing her around?” Elijah asks, voice a little too innocent, and Connor immediately gets why Elijah invited her into their activities today.

“Never figured you to be petty” Connor mutters, and he feels a blushing rising to his face. Connor has never felt exasperation so acutely. Elijah was trying to make him jealous or something of that ilk. Even if Connor can't get the man to admit to it, he knows he is doing it to get some sort of reaction from Connor.

But then… Connor can’t confront him about it. Because then he’d have to examine why he was… no is jealous, and that would be wholly unpleasant.

“There are some things you don't know about me Connor,” Elijah says with an easy smile like he can read the disgruntled conflict in Connor’s mind.

“Many things,”

“Yes, unfortunately,” Kamski replies nonchalantly, hoping to draw attention away from the genuine -and perhaps heartfelt- nature of the words.

Kamski assumes that Connor will let the words go, but of course, he does not and Kamski is left stranded by the earnest look in the android's eyes,

“Will I ever discover you Elijah Kamski?”

The air in the room changes as the words leave Connor’s lips, becoming heavier and laced with an uncertainty both men find disarming.

“I-“ Elijah begins and then cuts himself off abruptly. Elijah is not one to be caught speechless, but something compels him to take a moment to consider his words. He isn’t exactly sure why but he can tell that his answer will matter profoundly to Connor.

“It… it wouldn’t be easy, but I don't think I’d mind that,” Are the words he settles on. somehow their uncertainty makes him feel even more vulnerable.

What was Connor doing going and making his interrogator vulnerable? But if Kamski is honest with himself, he had long ago lost that sense of cold detachment. The icy exterior that he has built up over ages of being called unsolvable was being slowly melted away by kind brown eyes and a seemingly never-ending fascination.

Connor holds his gaze. He has to fight himself to keep from leaning across the space to reach out and touch Elijah.

“You haven't been testing me much recently. Why is that?” Connor says to break the silence and pull himself out of his own revery of Elijah's face.

“You ask too many questions, Connor,” Elijah says trying to shake the feeling that Connor can decipher the inner workings of his brain, yet the small distance between them doesn't help Elijah’s feeling of vulnerability.

“You are evading.” The android says, voice a little breathy as Connor slowly slides the chess board out of the way and slides himself forward as he does so.

“I'm... not” Is the intelligible answer Kamski settles on.

For the briefest moment, Elijah thinks he is going to reach out and pull the android to him. For in that very fleeting moment, he can see himself closing the space between them softly and slowly. He imagines running his thumb across the android’s smooth bottom lip, eyes locking with Connor’s own blown-out pupils. Elijah can almost feel the brush of lips that would quickly deepen; Elijah’s hand carding though then pulling at soft brown curls and-.

Elijah is visibly startled by the excruciating detail his mind provides him with. Elijah is not stupid, he, of course, knows the android was partial to him, but he had never really considered that he wanted him too. It feels like he's stuck in place, the draw of Connor’s sweet, adoring face pulling him forward, but the weight of the Cyberlife and everything he has worked so hard to re-secure pulling him back; keeping him the respectable foot away.

Connor can see the conflict in Kamski’s eyes as he searches them. He blindly hopes the storm behind his eyes is one he can calm with pure action. Connor slowly and deliberately gets on to his hands and knees and crawls towards the calculating man.

Their knees touch and their eyes meet.

He can’t feel Elijah’s breath on his lips, but he is somehow overly aware of the fact that he would feel it were he human.

Elijah tilts his head up ever so slightly to keep himself from leaning in the few inches necessary to capture Connor’s lips. His eyes roam Connor’s face, fixating on his parted lips.

A hand finds its way to Connor’s chin against Elijah's better judgment. He moves his hand slowly up as if possessed and presses his thumb against Connor's lower lip; just as he had wanted to do.

He presses his thumb down a bit harder and is surprised when the android takes it into his mouth so willingly. Some recess of Elijah’s mind toys with the idea of switching to his pointer and middle and finger fucking Connor’s mouth, prompting Elijah to remove his thumb quickly; not sure he could trust himself not to. Connor makes the soft sort of strangled sound in the back of his throat at the loss.

“I'm saying yes.” Connor breaths out without thinking, just wanting Elijah's touch back.

Elijah pulls back immediately, the spell broken.

It is a specific type of terror the android feels looking at Elijah’s now stony gaze. It's like he has cut himself off from the world; slammed a door shut, locked Connor out.

“I'm sorry. I have to go.” Kamski mutters, and abruptly stands up, almost kneeing Connor in the face in his urgency to leave.

“Elijah?” Connor asks behind him sounding confused and a little scared, but Kamski continues, grabbing his bag and heading out of the lab quickly.

Connor is left on the floor, the change of mood has left him in a bit of an emotional stupor. He rolls himself onto his back with a groan.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” he mutters to himself before rubbing the heels of his hands into his eyes. He replays over and over the again the moment of Elijah leaving, trying to figure out why.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10
70 days until.

Every time they speak now, which is sparingly, there is a sort of ambiguity about the words, and there is an undeniable tension in the air. Elijah’s visits become a bit less frequent, and he always has Cecilia by his side when does come.

Their conversations are fewer, and Elijah has taken up the habit of only coming to install some new feature, or copy over some lines of code and then leave just a little too quickly for Connor to engage him in conversation.

Connor is crushingly lonely and painfully bored.

The lack of wit and prodding, uncomfortable questions is overbearingly apparent in the silent, glaringly white room.

Alone, Connor paces in increasing meandering circles and rereads the few books that were used to win his trust over and over again. More than anything, he thinks.

He thinks in a way that troubles him. Until he had learned this loneliness, there seemed no downside to deviancy. He had been fascinated by his own emotions or saw them only as strong motivators that could get him what he wanted. The pain of fighting back against his oppressors hurt like hell, but it compelled him to act. There was something to do about it.

But to feel so strongly your need for something, but to have no way of fighting towards it? That was such useless pain.

Connor now finds himself laying on his back near the large windows. He watches the sunrise and can almost imagine Elijah returning his affections. He shallows out his breathing; his hands are comfortably resting atop his abdomen, ruminating on this very pain, when he hears the doors to the lab click open.

“Elijah,” Connor says as casually as he can as he sits up in a practiced, slow manner as so not to show his eagerness.

“Connor, How have you been?”

Lonely
“Good.”

“And you've been keeping busy?”

I'm painfully bored

“Of course.”

Elijah hums his assent and moves to where Connor now sits patiently on the floor and offers his hand. Connor blinks at him, once, twice, before he takes the hand carefully as if his very touch might chase Elijah away.

A tense silence ensues. Connor watches Elijah watch him.

“I… like your shirt.” and of course Connor does, because he always does.

He finds everything Elijah does so beautiful in the most classical sense of the word. He likes the way he dresses; it's always effortless and elegant. Casual and refined. Something you want to run your hands along but feel unworthy to touch. Connor’s appreciation goes without saying most days, but finally conversing with him again, the thoughts seem too overpowering to silence. Connor isn’t sure how to act with such a storm of conflicting emotions eating away at him.

Connor is pulled away from his thoughts as Elijah responds to his compliment. Oh, that's right, the conversation about shirts.

“And I yours, but that's a little self-serving, no?”

“Not at all,” Connor almost manages a tight-lipped smile

They are silent for a moment, the sight of the other enough. Much better than any meaningless, small remarks.

Connor can’t help but notice how perfectly the mantling sun warms Elijah’s usually cold face and turns the deeply-purple crescent moons of insomnia into almost endearing pinks. Elijah is beautiful in a melancholy way, and it feels like the first time Connor has ever noticed. It’s the kind of beauty that makes you feel almost guilty if you linger on it. Elijah was an elusive beauty. A beauty Connor wasn’t permitted to have.

Connor looks away, LED spinning a deep red.

“Are you alright, Connor?” Kamski questions as he moves to try and touch the blinking circle, only for Connor to turn his head away. Elijah’s touch, even where he couldn’t fully feel it, right now would be too much right now.

“I'm fine Mr. Kamski.”

“It’s Elijah.” The other man says with a thinly veiled questioning-concern. At the same moment, he takes one of Connor’s hands, and Connor wants to scream. Why was Elijah touching him, praising him, being so kind to him if he didn’t want him?

“Well then, I’m fine Elijah.”

“You have a strange way of being ‘fine’ ” The man mutters, again, the concern lacing his voice.

“If something were amiss, I'd be sure to tell you.” The android reassures with a forced laugh, only for Elijah to grip his hands tighter.

It hurts to hold his hand, look in his eyes, and say to yourself, “he feels nothing.”

Yet still, Connor endures the touch because it’s still Elijah and he still flushes when he runs a careful nail against his wrist.

Elijah again hums with a small smile and drops Connor’s hands and gestures towards that white monolith of a table in the middle of the room.

 

---

“Cyberlife says you are progressing well. ” Kamski imparts, casually while he works on the synthetic nerve application on Connors back.

“I've had many stuffy, awful meetings. I won’t regale you with the details but, they are quite satisfied with your progress.”

Connor thanks him simply and quickly, but In truth, he was pretty sure that his captors being pleased with him was a dangerous thing…

“Do you think I've changed much?” Connor asks trying to turn his head to look at Kamski as he speaks.

“Hey, If you keep moving I'm going to shut you down to finish this,” Kamski says purposefully pinching one of the exposed nerves causing Connor to hiss softly. Connor had never felt pain before this, but he was getting pretty well acquainted relatively quickly.

“I'm sorry. Have I though? Changed.”

“Very much so,” Elijah responds aimlessly as he focuses on joining nerve and plastic and wire.

“You are… bolder, you speak more often than not,”

“Ow!” Connor flinches as Kamski’s hand scrapes against an exposed nerve.

“Shit, Sorry.” Kamski apologizes, somewhat sincerely “Are you sure you don't want me to shut you down? I'm going to have to anyway, for your face.”

“No, I'm okay.” Connor insists, adjusting himself, trying to shake off the pain “It's fine.”

“Why are you so adamant about suffering this one though? It's going to get much worse when I have to mess with that spinal cord of yours.” Elijah fights the impulse to flick the exposed spinal vein, knowing it’d cause a pleasant shiver in the android. He settles for applying a soft pressure into the artificial muscle along the spine. The tightly wound bundles of taught rubber-covered cables release entirely.

Connor sighs deeply at the pressure, and relaxes his neck, and lets his head drop against his crossed arms.

“Oh! This is so much better!” Elijah perks up, and Connor can tell he’s grinning with that little flash of childish passion kept stored away only for when he solves some difficult problem. Connor looks up again over his shoulder, retightening the cable, to see a now frowning Elijah.

“Did I-” The android begins, only to be cut off by his own moan as Elijah pushes the heel of his hand into the deep gap between his shoulder blades. It’s like the little thrills he gets from touching Elijah’s hand tenfold. Connor can feel himself flushing terribly at the sound that had made its way out of his mouth, completely at a loss for how to explain himself.

It’s silent for what seems like an eternity following Connor’s strangled gasp.

As Connor opens his mouth to apologize, so does Kamski to give some rationalization.

“It's… it’s much- well easier if you relax,” Is all Elijah says, his voice having come out a little less fluently than he would have liked. Connor wants to say something, but Elijah has already pressed a finger between where the cables meet wires, and Connor just melts.

It’s abundantly clear that the creator knows his way around the android's body, in a way that his touches almost feel familiar despite the feeling of pleasure being so extraordinarily new.

Connor opens his mouth to protest, being entirely adverse for the man who causes him so much pain toying with him like this, but he can’t help but arch his back up chasing the sensation. It’s all very confusing.

“You don’t need to-” pressure again “-Elijah” Connor practically moans burying his face into his arms in an attempt to crush the sound. He tries his damnedest to keep quiet.

“It makes the cables release tension and makes the application easier, and less painful.” He explains quickly, as if the explanation bores him, now wholly fascinated by the expanse of polymerized muscles before him. He presses again to prove his point.

Connor shuts up after that.

The android is silent as he can be as Elijah alternates between the sharp, calculated applications of bits of nerve fiber, and slow, practiced touches.

Elijah runs cool hands down the expanse of his back, from the base of his neck to his waist, before running a nail up the small divot in the spinal vein that now almost seemed to pulsate blue with therium.

Connor bites into the side of his hand at the feeling, hard enough that his synthetic skin melts away into a clean white.

Connor, for the first time, is overly aware of his groin. His embarrassment at the situation only grows as Elijah clamps his hand down on the wire, stopping the flow for a moment before releasing it all at once, and Connor makes a strangled, choking sound. The android actually has to use a good amount of effort to divert therium away from his crotch; only to have his efforts thwarted every time Elijah would press into him in some new way.

When Elijah finally relents, Connor notices Elijah’s breath is just bearly shallow as well. Connor can read Elijah's attraction in his breathing alone, all of his knowledge on human social behavior points to exactly that, but he tells himself he’s wrong; that his social module is short-circuiting.

Connor takes a breath, synthetic lungs tight after all of... that, before finally bringing up the topic he had wanted to discuss for ages, “We don't talk anymore, I miss it.”

In his surprise, Kamski again nudges a nerve and Connor tries to keep himself from jerking upwards towards the offending hand. The confusion he feels at his longing for Elijah’s touch when he knows it’ll only cause him pain later makes him feel so lost. And the uncertainty and loss make him angry.

“We talk.” Kamski insists as he sets back to work readying the next case full of fibers and tries not to think of what he imagines to be a twinge of dolefulness of that must have just flit across Connor’s features.

Kamski is wrong; it's bitter frustration rather than sadness that takes hold of Connor.

“It’s different now.” Connor asserts, trying to look over his shoulder at the man to provoke some sort of emotional reaction.

“Is it?” Elijah asks nonchalantly, and it only pisses off Connor more how Elijah can just show up, prod at him and his emotions and feels nothing. He must feel nothing for him if Elijah felt something he would have acted by now.

“It's like you're hiding from me.” the android insists.

“Since when do you get to do the psychoanalyzing.” Kamski starts with a laugh but is cut off by Connor suddenly sitting up and swinging his legs around the table to face him.

“What did I do wrong? I can’t read you. You are so difficult to read Elijah.” Connor demands, needing at least the answer to that simple question, he would work his way up to the real source of his ire. “I did something you didn't like. What was it? ”

“Connor, please be quiet.” Elijah tries to guide him back down by his shoulder, but of course, Connor doesn’t budge.

Does the android truly not understand the situation? Does he realize what his constant willingness is doing to Elijah? Kamski concludes that no, Connor must really be this clueless.

“You truly test my self-restraint” He sighs just loudly enough for Connor to hear.

“Oh, restraint. You’ve hardly shown any restraint when it comes to what you want-” Connor begins, needing Elijah to understand how horrible it was for him to continue to lead him on, only to be interrupted by the feel of Elijah’s hand on his.

Connor can see the exact moment Kamski puts up that mask of his, and it's infuriating. Elijah opens his mouth to reply with some sage meandering comment before Connor cuts him off.

“Don’t touch me, please.”

Elijah furrows his eyebrows and grips Connor’s hand tighter, and again tries to speak, but is cut short.

“Let go of me Elijah,” Connor says a little more forcefully, pulling his hand away.

“I don't understand, is something-”

“You don’t understand a lot of things, do you?” Connor mocks, this hot anger driving him along, such a sweet respite from the heartache and questions of ‘what did I do wrong.’

“What’s gotten into you?” Kamski tries to ask cooly, but even the slight insult to his intellect has miffed him.

‘Oh, your intelligence?’ Connor thinks to himself at having found such an easy weak spot, all his programming as an interrogator having lit up like new york city at having been put to use again. And it's easy, and so, so, so much better than feeling that love-struck pain.

“I’m sure you can figure it out. You've been the one investing the very workings of my brain. You tell me what's wrong, Elijah, if you’re so smart. You've been at it for so long now I’d almost be disappointed if you couldn’t guess it” Connor goads with a grin.

There is a small voice in the back of Connor’s mind telling him he doesn’t really want to hurt Elijah, but that voice is so unpleasant that Connor crushes it immediately.

“Calm the fuck down Connor.” Elijah orders, eyes going hard.

“So you don’t have an answer then? This one’s too difficult for you to work out? I guess that intellect of yours can’t get you everything, can it?” Connor taunts, almost pleased as he watches the man glare back at him, his own anger starting to boil.

“Connor,” Elijah repeats, trying to suppress his own irritation.

“Still no answer?”

Silence

“Fine, my predicament is that you show up, toy with me just as far as you're comfortable, then leave. You treat me like I don't feel anything. You’re so hard to read, and at first, I thought that maybe it was because there was something more to you than the rest of the human race. I thought maybe you felt something, realized that I could be something, but I've concluded that you just like fucking with my head, and I can’t stand it anymore.”

“You don’t know what the fuck you're talking about.” Elijah tries to bark out angrily, but it comes out sounding rather sad. It’s embarrassing to have your own actions laid so bare, painful to have the one person you want so sure that you just want to cause them pain, and it's terrifying to have your life’s work hanging in the balance, yet also being the cause of half your problems.

“I think I do know. I’m not stupid Elijah.” He says the name like it's dirty. “They paid you. You are the richest man ever to live, and you hold this job up as if it’s this reason you can’t be anything to me. They paid you to come in here and get me to feel something. And you did. Until recently I thought- I thought-” and the pain is back on top of the anger he worked himself into.

“I thought you saw me as a thinking, feeling being and felt something. But once you got all the information you needed, you leave. You leave me alone, with my thoughts and some old books. Do you know what that feels like? With that IQ of yours maybe you can scratch the surface of how painful true boredom is. Oh, something you might like to tell those board members of yours? Leaving me that unoccupied for so long actually broke down parts of my code, might be the key to my deviancy. Isn’t that the reason you continue to talk to me?”

Elijah’s expression has not changed.

“You are sick. You're worse than them. Why was all this false hope necessary? I used to think you were too good to treat me like an object, but I guess I was wrong. You hit buttons until you get the result you want, but as soon as you're bored or it reacts in any way outside of it's preprogramming you toss it out. You cause me so much pain, and you don’t even think twice. ”

Connor can see concern behind Elijah’s otherwise cold eyes, and 'Why the fuck can’t he just give me some kind of reaction?'

“You feel less than me Elijah Kamski, and I’m a machine.”

Kamski moves to slap Connor, only for Connor to catch his wrist easily and hold it just short of crushing,

“You have hurt me in so many ways; this won't be one of them.”

All Elijah can think is ‘fuck’. How did he manage to ruin this all so perfectly? He hadn’t thought much of leaving, and he hadn’t thought much of leaving Connor hanging as soon as he was uncomfortable, and he hadn’t thought about what it must feel like to have your brain used as a bartering chip. Connor was right; Elijah has been horrible to him. But he can’t say anything; he can’t. He can’t. It’s true that his intellect can't get him out of this one. It’s true that he has been acting completely emotionless. It's all true, and it’s all terrible.

Suddenly Elijah’s vision is slightly blurry, and his lip quivers almost imperceptibly.

“Just so we’re clear,” Elijah says as clearly as he can fighting back the tears - something he hasn’t done since he was about 10 - with little success.

“You are so wrong, Connor.”

Seeing the man tears immediately flips a switch in Connor, and he is suddenly feeling very much like the worst person on earth.

“If you don't mind, I’m going to leave now” the man mutters, looking at the floor.

“Elijah, I’m-” Connor tries to reach out to wipe away the tears, but Elijah jerks away,

“Don't touch me, please.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 11
67 days until

There is the sound of slamming doors, there is the sound of aggressive handling of plates, there is the sound of fists against the rarely used punching bag. There are more snapping requests for coffee, and there are more hours spent almost unblinking in front of computer screens.

Tonight is one of the unblinking one's.

A few of the Choles’ linger in the darkened living room, maybe enjoying Elijah’s quiet, maybe worrying about it.

Their slim bodies are silhouetted in front of the large window that looks out at the brightly lit city in the distance. lounging in lacy slips and muttering silky words to each other, they fill the house with a low murmuring sound.

The original Chole carefully prepares a black coffee, wrinkling her nose as she makes it. She has never liked the smell. The mug in her hands is almost too warm to hold but she lingers in the kitchen for a few moments longer than necessary pondering what she will say to Elijah. His upset is obvious, but the cause? Not so much.

The man has always had a bit of a temper but never has his anger be so tinged with sadness.

Words jostle around in her head, shifting and reordering as she pads lightly down the dark tile of the hallway. She opens the door to the office slowly and clears her throat. It doesn’t get his attention.

He sits almost curled up on his seat before the dimmed screen. He isn't moving or typing. He simply runs he eyes over the text on his screen over and over again.

“Elijah?” Chole asks as she comes to stand behind his chair and places a hand on his shoulder.

“What?” Is the barking response she gets.

“I get the sense you have not been feeling well. I brought you coffee.” The original Chloe puts forward tentatively as she hands the disheveled, hoodie-clad man the coffee.

“Thank you for the concern, But I'm alright Chole.” He mutters in response before busying himself with the hot, bitter drink.

The blonde turns as if she is going to leave, before returning to stand beside Elijah’s chair and resting a light hand on the man’s shoulder.

“Humans like physical contact when they are upset.” Chloe explains simply, squeezing his shoulder a bit.

“This is true, but I’m not upset. I am, however, busy.” He tries to shrug her hand off, but she adds another to his other shoulder.

“You are upset, and you are evading.”

“Again, I’m not. Could you please-” He waves his hand towards the door as he turns his attention back to the computers before him.

“We should talk about whatever is not upsetting you then”

“Not upsetting me? Chole, look, my dear-” He turns in his seat to face her, “I’m alright. All is well.”

Her eyebrows crease as she analyzes his face, he has cried within the last 10 hours give or take, he has not slept in 48 hours, he is definitely and verifiably upset. Cold smooth hands cup Elijah’s weary face and Chloe gives him a peck on the forehead and cheek in quick succession.

“I do not know why you are feeling the way you are, or why you refuse to tell me, but if you want to share, you can always find me. We worry about you, Elijah.”

“You shouldn’t.”

“You are deserving of care Elijah.”

The man kind of stares at her with his sleep rimmed eyes before giving a small half grin, “Thank you.”

She kisses his forehead again before she leaves. Elijah turns off the computer and rests his head on the desk, and he almost immediately falls into a much-needed sleep.

___

Sunlight creeps its way into the room, but what actually wakes Elijah is a small chime of a new email. He sits up and rubs the faint line that has formed along his cheek from having slept on the desk.

He opens the computer and squints unhappy at the brightness.

It’s an email from cyberlife. Lovely.

Good Morning!
I hope you haven't forgotten about us Mr. Kamski! You have skipped the last 3 meetings. We understand you are a busy person with an immensely taxing job, but we have to request you give us some kind of update on that android you have been working on! We only get so much out of the video surveillance, and not to mention the recent problem of the cameras cutting in and out.
We are very interested in some of your decisions. Buying it clothing, giving it books? These are interesting tactics, we would love if we could get the full reasoning behind these actions.
We are requesting you come at least to this one meeting today. 1pm, room 407, .
-Alastor and team

 

Elijah’s eyes scan over the text briefly and he sighs deeply. He stands up quickly and shoves his chair back into place. Elijah trudges towards the kitchen where he knows he will find one of his girls. He catches sight of Sweets sitting by a window hunched over some book.

“Sweets? Could you email Mr. Alastor back?”

She merely nods, not even looking up from her novel.

“Done.”

“Thank you.”

He showers, and fixes his hair into his usual bun. Opting for an all black ensemble, he dresses quickly.

If he wants to be there anywhere near on time, he’ll have to leave now. It’s almost an hour long drive back to the city.

Elijah huffs, as much as he likes he solitude, living so removed from society made any type of commitment unbearable.

Once in the car, he speaks the destination and he tries to let the vapid radio music replace his thoughts.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12
51 days until

Cecilia buzzes about Kamski like some sort of gnat; he wants to swat at her. She shuffles papers, asks questions, generally flits about trying to ready Kamski for the first presentation of his findings on the deviant’s brain. Connor’s brain.

Elijah's mind is somewhere else right now. The bright lights and sleek room do nothing to focus him or calm his psyche. If anything the sparse eco-modern meeting room only makes it easier for Kamski to completely zone out. He stares ahead out the floor to ceiling windows and wonders what little lives the people that mill about, stories below, lead. Maybe he fantasizes about being one of those insignificant people. How much easier it would be to be happy...

“Do you feel alright Kamski, sir?” Cecilia questions as she connects his computer to the expansive glass screen at the front of the room.

“Yes Cecilia, but I find that line of questioning inappropriate.” He huffs out in a half-hearted facsimile of annoyance.

“My apologies, Would you like me to remove my emotional counseling software? To do so-”

“No Cecilia,” Kamski snaps at her. “I just need you to be silent for a minute.”

“Yes, s-”

“shh.”

Elijah takes the moment of silence to try and quite his mind enough that he can focus on people pleasing and communicating his findings to abject idiots.

That quiet moment is short-lived as Cecilia moves to put up his unruly hair. Elijah almost smacks her hand away, but he stops himself short with a resigned sigh and lets Cecilia have her way with him.

Things have not been calm within the arena of his mind for quite some time now, although he denies it often. He spends a truly inane amount of time and brainpower nightly mulling over his situation with Connor while he stares blankly at lines of code. The darkened rings around his eyes are a testament to his disquieted emotions.

Elijah realizes with a vague disinterest that people have entered the room and are talking. He looks up from the stack of notes he was distractedly flipping through.

Elijah moves to stand, taking his computer with him, to the front of the room. He taps on the glass panel covering half the wall. It flickers to life at his touch and displays his desktop for room to see.

Not everyone has even managed to find a seat when Elijah begins. The first few words of his are lost to the annoying sounds of scraping of chair legs, laptops being flipped open, and bags being rifled through.

“-Connor has been an especially interesting android to work with. His strong emotional attachment to his own idea of freedom has made him difficult to pull apart. As you all know, I only had the one to investigate; thus, any type of physical mangling was off the table from day one. I opted to therapize the android as it was the least likely to damage hi- it. Many of the more questionable actions you may have seen me partake in were simply to gain the androids unwavering trust. Only then could I begin to truly conduct various tests.”

Kamski continues his speech with indifference, waving at the glass screen to swap between a number of schematics, diagrams, and his own notes. Running on autopilot throughout the whole of this presentation almost shielded Elijah from the feeling he had betrayed Connor’s trust. While Elijah may have once only extended kindness to Connor in hopes of gaining the very information he now laid out for this congregation, he had to acknowledge that they had surpassed that clinical relationship long ago. They had become far too intimate.

“with the information I have obtained, I conclude that the connectivity between the ‘lobes’ of the androids current brain facilitates too many complex connections for the creature to remain less than human. If you probit complex, connected though, you inhibit humanity. These connections must be severed for any type of return to form.”

There is a light sort of golf clap that echoes around the room as Kamski darkens the screen and returns to the head of the table.

“So, when will we be able to test this on your Connor?” Alister asks, just short of outwardly excited.

“What?” Elijah asks as he tries to recontextualize the words.

“Well, you seem pretty certain of this solution you've worked out, I think we are all in agreement when I say we’d like to see if this fix works to reverse deviancy. How hard would it be to test this on your android within the next few weeks?”

Elijah begins to fall into a mild panic at the prospect of what they are asking him to do.

" I don't think it would be wholly necessary to test it on Connor. There are other things I’m sure you'd like to have a deviant around for; further testing perhaps?” Elijah tries to offer easily, praying he doesn't sound at all pleading.

“No, quite sure deviants, are a bit too dangerous to keep around here for long. Plus the only further testing my team would like to do would be internal.” One of the women from Biomechanical Design department imparts cooly.

Kamski's heart misses a beat and jumps on the end of her words just a second too late.

“Of course, I only meant-” Elijah begins as if he has some grand explanation he was called upon to deliver, only to be cut off.

“Mr. Kamski while we are grateful for your help here, we own this Connor, and you are our employ. I believe I speak for everyone when I say we want you to test this fix on this android. Any personal objections you have aren't of any substance to this discussion.” Alister explains, all the while with a calm smile on his face.

Elijah can feel his blood running cold at the realization that he can’t talk his way out of this. It’s a terrible sinking feeling; one that travels down his spine and settles like wet cement in his shoes.
“So, when can we expect-” Alister begins to prod again with his same very earnest grin.

“I can’t,” Elijah mutters. He doesn’t even notice that he has spoken the words. It’s like the grand walls that keep his thoughts securely inside his head have cracked and let slip this simple phrase.

“Excuse me?” comes a voice from somewhere in the room, but Elijah can’t be bothered to search for the source.

“I… I can’t do that.”

Chapter Text

50 days until

 

Elijah can't seem to focus on the task at hand; his mind too busy shouting for him even to understand his own writing. He sits, cross-legged on the floor surrounded by various papers of his research trying to come up with some way to contradict himself. If Elijah could just find some flaw in his work then maybe he could ask Cyberlife to reconsider their request and buy himself and Connor some time. He has been staring down at his research for almost 12 hours, forgoing food and sleep in hopes of somehow righting the situation.

Elijah sighs deeply as he tosses aside another stack of the offending papers. So far, his logic has been unfortunately infallible.

He glances down at his laptop and finds that it is 2 am. He’s been at this for hours now, and he can’t seem to come up with anything that would sway the collective wills of the board members. Elijah’s hands grow increasingly shaky as his tries again and again to outwit himself, but he can’t seem to get anywhere.

How did he not see this coming? Of course, they would have him test whatever method of ending deviancy he discovered on Connor! Elijah feels like kicking himself over the number of times he has gone wrong is just the past few days.

His mind switches back and forth between blasting him with questions of, “how did you not see this,” and soul-crushing worry about Connor. Elijah doesn't know what to do, which is a wholly new and utterly terrifying feeling.

Suddenly- and to his own surprise- Elijah stands, grabs his coat, and begins to walk out to his car. He doesn’t make any goodbyes, just head straight for the car with a destination in mind.

The sound of the car starting up is what pulls Elijah back to reality. He quickly inputs his destination, and then the car is off. Silence has become Elijah’s worst enemy as of late, and the quiet of the very early morning only encourages his own self-loathing.

He watches the scenery roll by him and tries to keep his mind from collapsing in on itself. Elijah has so many wrongs he must right, and quickly.

He enters the Cyberlife tower silently and gives a curt nod to the few guards that roam the first floor of the building at these late hours. Elijah easily dismisses Cecilia as she attempts to enter the elevator with him. As the Elevator rises, Elijah begins to think of what he will say to Connor. He knows he must apologize for his past wrongdoings, but he also wants so desperately to take this time to make solid the feelings he has finally admitted to himself. Elijah has so many things he needs to say to Connor.

When Elijah finally finds himself in front of the large metallic doors, he finds himself having trouble taking the next step up to the monstrous doors. Kamski’s fingers dig into the fabric of his shirt as he tries to will himself forward again. Elijah sighs dejectedly at his own emotional turmoil, but he still can’t seem to move from the spot.

He gives himself another moment to collect his thoughts and calm his nerves. This time he is able to push open the doors into the dim, sterile space.

“Connor?” He calls out into the dark cautiously. He can hear Connor’s footsteps, but he gets no answer. Kamski follows the sound to the small annex Connor had made his room. He found the android standing very still in the middle of the room, looking terribly frightened and lost.

At seeing Elijah’s face again, Connor immediately feels both waves of joy and pain crash over him with such frightening strength that he felt he might be knocked back by the very image.

“Elijah?” Is all Connor can manage as Kamski comes to stand before him. He can see some change in the man, but he isn’t sure exactly what it is, be he knows this new openness in his face makes him infinitely more forgivable.

“Why are you here?” Is the first question that Connor can come up with. Connor’s hands seem to itch to touch Elijah, but he is too afraid to make any move the elusive creator might not like.

“Some- Some things have come to light Connor that has caused me to reconsider the way we left things --The way that I've been,” Elijah begins as coolly as his shaky voice will allow.

At the almost imperceptible weakness in Elijah’s voice, Connor can feel his heart break freshly. All the pain that had been turned into a dull ache over Elijah’s absence now demanded to be felt in full.

“I’m sorry!” Connor blurts out “I'm sorry for what I said, I was angry, and I don’t think I have ever been angry like that before, Elijah. Please forgive me. I want us to be on good terms again, It’s so painful to be away from you for so long,” Connor rushes out before Elijah can get a word in.

A short silence follows as Elijah looks over the androids face carefully and begins to feel an overwhelming urge to touch him. There are so many things he knows he should be saying rationally and cooly, but Connor looks at him so openly now that Elijah can’t imagine any sort of calm conversation now.

Elijah grabs Connor’s hands and laces their fingers together; pulling Connor towards him. Connor comes to him with no resistance. The android shudders at the feeling of Elijah’s warmth against his hands and the feeling is all-consuming an a way that no simple touch has the right to be.

“I'm sorry too, Connor. I’m infinitely sorry. I've hurt you, and that was horrible of me. And you were right-” Elijah has pulled Connor’s hands to his lips now, and he mummers against the android's skin.

“I am a complete asshole for having left you, and I'm completely horrid for digging through your mind.” Elijah finishes

Connor can feel a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and he shakes his head slightly. Elijah begins kissing his wrists.

“Mh- not horrid at all Elijah.”

“Oh, I’m horrid” Elijah is grinning now, and things feel so right again.

Under the influence of exhaustion and a drug-like attraction Elijah allows himself to get lost in the small sounds Connor makes as Elijah kisses along Connor’s collar bone. He feels so foolish for every time he has stopped himself from indulging in this.

“You lovely, lovely thing,” Elijah mutters as he threads a hand through Connor’s hair and pulls back to expose the android's neck. Connor tries to find some way to press their bodies even closer together but is at a loss.

“Perfect. So perfect.” Elijah breaths against Connor’s skin as he nips his way down Connor’s neck.

Connor blanches, remembering the nights he spent muttering those exact words to himself in Elijah’s soothing voice with embarrassing clarity.

“You saw that?” Connor question, feeling the blue flush work it’s way up to the tip of his ears. This all verges on too much. It's like all of Connor’s thoughts have been laid bare, and he stands there exposed, waiting for Elijah to make judgments on the secret contents of his mind. Kamski stops his administration and commits the picture of an entirely ruined and blushing Connor to memory.

“I wasn't lying about the cameras Connor,” Kamski smirks, and then Elijah has Connor’s chin firmly between his fingers.

“I found it endearing.” Elijah hums and swipes his thumb across Connor’s bottom lip.

“I... enjoyed watching it.”

Connor wants to try and answer that, but words don’t come. He opens his mouth as if to speak, but he can't exactly form any string of coherent words as now his mind lingers on what Elijah may have meant by "enjoying."

It is feeling of Elijah’s lips against his own that pulls Connor from his confused state, and the android immediately feels like every moment and quick touch they have ever shared has converged here, at that one point of contact.

The first kiss is chaste, and mostly just a shared pressure, but Elijah effortlessly deepens the kiss as he guides Connor back towards the white sofa in the corner of the room.

Connor easily straddles Elijah’s lap, and Elijah finds himself sliding his hands under the hem of Connor shirt. Connor can’t stop himself from groaning into the kiss. The android finds himself addicted to the feeling, and he’s trying to push himself somehow even closer to the man below him when Elijah breaks the kiss, just short gasping.

“What is it?” Connor questions, knitting his eyebrows together.

“Breathing Connor, Human’s breath remember?” Elijah says between breaths.

Connor holds back a smile, “Right, are you done breathing now?”

“For you? Yes,” The two fall back into their newfound rhythm with ease.

Chapter Text

57 days until

Time seems to move too quickly; the sun is already rising, but Elijah feels absolutely no impulse to leave. Everything feels warm and safe and the pale oranges painting the sky beyond the window only served to fuel the full-body lanquidity. It feels beyond right to be back in the company of Connor. Elijah tilts his head to peer down at the android now resting peacefully atop himself. The light that streams through the window paint Connor’s already delicate face in warm and blushing tones. His hair appears almost golden at the tips, and his eyelashes cast delicate shadows against his cheeks. Elijah is caught between the urge to wake the android with kisses and the sincere desire to continue to commit a sleeping Connor to memory.

The urge to kiss him wins.

The past wrongs Elijah committed were not forgotten, but Connor decides he will be paying them no mind if that meant he was allowed as many kisses as he asked for. Elijah and Connor had been chipping away at the night hours with talk of philosophy, and freedom, and the hopes they had for this new found feeling. Unfortunately, with the rise of the sun comes the end of the few romantic hours Elijah had permitted.

Every moment Kamski spends here laying on the couch rubbing soothing circles into Connor’s back is another moment of missing camera footage he’ll to explain away. He is already pushing his luck. The camera system at CyberLife doesn’t just ‘malfunction.’ No machine Elijah has had a hand in has ever malfunctioned. Elijah is well aware of the fact that this will be a happening difficult to explain away, but he finds himself drunk on hope this morning.

Hyper aware of every minute movement Connor makes, the tickling sensation of Connor nuzzling his face against Elijah’s chest completely cuts his line of thought short. Propped up on his elbows now, Elijah uses a free hand to lift Connor’s flushed face up towards his own. Elijah presses their lips together leisurely, and Connor moans softly into the relaxed and unhurried kiss. Elijah threads his fingers through Connor’s hair and Connor finds himself struggling to chase both the sensation of Elijah’s lips against his own and the feeling of Elijah’s delicate fingers carding through his hair.

They had shared a number of more wanton kisses illuminated solely by the electric glow of the city below them. But now, under the warm sun, that urgency and need for the unknown were replaced by a comfortable familiarity and complete cognizance of the other.

“Connor, I’ll have to be leaving soon,” Elijah says into the androids soft hair as he moves to kiss the top of his head.

“If you go now, I’ll be very angry with you,” Connor mumbles back before abruptly sitting up straddling Elijah’s hips. He throws Elijah his best scowl, but his ruffled hair and kiss-wet lips undermine his show of upset. Elijah can not remember the last time smiling came so instinctively.

“Fuck, Come here Connor.” Elijah sighs as he reaches for Connor’s wrists, but Connor pulls them away before Elijah can get a hold on him. The dramatic exhalation Elijah emits as he sits up inspires a fit of laughter from Connor. Elijah cuts it off with another kiss, then another, and another.

“Elijah?” Connor asks between little sighs as the man works his way down his neck.

“Yes, Connor?”

“I’m happy. You make me so happy.” Connor declares with such earnest.

“I feel the same,” Elijah presses the words into Connor’s shoulder amidst the kisses.

“You also make me very sad sometimes.”

“I’d sincerely like to stop making you sad. I'm sorry for all the times I have.” Elijah lifts his head to look Connor in the eyes, “You know how sorry I am, right? I never want to cause you another sadness as long as I live. I mean that, Connor.” Warm hands come to cup Connor’s face, and graceful fingers run carefully over the android's skin.

Suddenly Connor feels tears well up, and he struggles to hold them back. Of course, Elijah sees being so close to Connor.

“I feel too many things when I'm with you, Elijah.” He tries to laugh off his words, but the tears are beginning to make themselves known as they trail down the android face. Elijah brushes away the wetness.

“You overwhelm me in the most amazing way possible,” Connor explains with hitching breath as he bends to hide his face against Elijah’s shoulder.

“It's exhausting isn’t? The human experience. You’ll get used to it, humans have been doing it for ages, and we have yet to collectively die of exhaustion,” Elijah chuckles as he wraps his arms around the android.

“I will never be used to you, Elijah,” Connor whispers, just short of incoherent.

---

The two do eventually part, and Connor tries not to make a fuss about the fact he will have to go a whole day before he can touch Elijah again.

Elijah leaves Connor with a kiss on the cheek that - in its domesticity- had Connor blushing more than any of the passionate kisses they had shared hours ago.

Upon leaving the lab, Elijah immediately races to one of the floors security rooms. Luckily, he is able to avoid any confrontation. Either enough people knew who he was to stay clear, or had absolutely no idea thus granting Elijah invisibility. It seemed to Elijah that being either completely known or completely unknown had a lot of similar perks.

Once he had made it inside of the small closet-like room, he found the primary hard drive. He moved to turn on one of the connected monitors. Immediately, a fit of burning anger flared up in him; apparently, after unanimously being voted out of his own company, Cyberlife had had the audacity to continue to use the same encryption program he had written back when he had first started the company. With one deeply exasperated exhale, he began work on outsmarting his past selves’ security system.

By the time he was done, 3 and a half hours had passed, and he had learned just how paranoid his younger self had been.

The walk back to the lobby was equally easy. People passed quietly beside him, not at all questioning that he had come from an especially off-limits room. Elijah smirks to himself as he heads towards the elevator. After the few hours spent under Connor’s complete concentration, it feels almost strange to be so ignored. It’s not that it pricks his ego, it’s just that Elijah has a hard time not noticing the contrast.

Mind still elsewhere, Elijah enters the elevator. Just as soon as the door was about to close, Cecilia appeared from around the corner. She holds her brunette high as she moves through the space stiffly. Elijah holds the door for her. As the doors closed behind them with a soft ‘ping,’ she immediately turns to face Elijah not even affording him the time to properly greet her.

“Sir, If I may ask, what business were you attending in the security facility?” She questions cooly.

“Fuck” Is Elijah’s immediate thought, but outwardly he only tosses the short android a soft smile.

“I was only looking over footage of my conversations with Connor. It’s necessary for my research.” He responds readily and hopes that is enough information to satisfy the woman. He expects her to say something in response, but she merely nods and focuses her eyes straight ahead in her typical inhuman fashion.

Elijah breaths out a breath he didn't notice he had been holding.

---

Upon arriving home, Elijah tries to quietly slip into his study without disturbing any of his girls. Although he had every right to refuse them the information and could do so easily, Elijah was not in the mood to be interrogated about where he had been for the better part of the night.

He leaves his shoes at the door and begins to walk down the tiled hall to his office. Elijah has almost reached the safety of his study, when he hears one of the Chole’s call out, “Mr. Kamski?”

Elijah sighs noiselessly and turns to retrace his steps back to the main living space. When he enters the area, he is met by all of the Chole’s sitting on the couch in various states of upset. Something about the sight brings on a sudden flashback to when he used to get questioned about his constant going out when he was in college. Of course, his parents were unsettled to find out that he was part of a well-known club on campus whose main activity was getting entirely blackout drunk. College at 15 years old had been quite an exciting time; it was a time full of moments like these.

“Where were you? You departed very late last night, and were gone for 8 hours and 25 minutes.” the original Chole inquires as soon as he enters the room. Her arms are crossed, and she regards him as if he were a small child.

“I don't owe you an explanation. But, if you must know, I was working.” Elijah offers in a hope to get his girls to leave him alone.

“If I were gone for 8 hours, you would be demanding an explanation.” Sweets interjects, coming to stand.

“That’s a different situation.” Elijah has to fight the urge to roll his eye. He instead smiles indulgently at his concerned girls. Although this treatment vexes Elijah, the ‘family meeting’ the Choles had orchestrated was honestly endearing.

“If you’d like to go out, by all means, do. I only caution you that the rest of humanity might not take kindly to you. I only ask that you girls tell me if you plan to leave to keep you safe. If the world adhered to my every whim, you all would be allowed out at any time” Elijah attempts to pacify Sweets.

“That’s not my main concern,” Angel mutters quietly from the edge of the couch where she has perched herself. Elijah turns away from the quietly seething Sweets to face the softest spoken android of the group. Her lips are fixed in a concerned frown.

“Your levels of serotonin are very high, oxytocin as well.” She carefully examines, obviously running medical scans on her creator. Her ordinarily soft eyes had hardened to the steeliest blue Elijah had ever seen on the girl.

“We are just concerned that you may have relapsed, Elijah.” the original Chole admits, standing and coming to take his hands in hers. She glances up at him sympathetically through blond lashes only to fix her gaze on the floor again, perhaps feeling Elijah's annoyance. Annoyance which radiated off him in waves at the moment.

‘Ah, so this is what all of this is about’ Elijah thinks to himself; Less about the long hours gone, and more about the suspicious rise in chemicals he used to chase by dangerous means. The fact that one night of kissing and light petting with Connor was enough to affect his body’s oxytocin levels so drastically is what surprises Elijah; this is a whole other point from him to ponder at another time. More than anything, Elijah tries his best to think of some explanation that avoids the fact that he has spent the night with the android he was supposed to be pulling apart.

“Girls, this is very sweet of you all, but I can assure you, all of that drug nonsense of mine is very much in the past.” Kamski smiles at them and attempts to leave the room, but Chloe refuses to let go of his hand. Cleary his explanation had not assuaged the curiosities of his Choles.

“What accounts for this rise then?” She questions him, “I have no calls from Cyberlife logged from the time of your leaving.”

“It’s nothing for you to concern yourselves with. I have work to do, really.” Elijah huffs out as he pulls his hands away from the android. She furrows her brow at him but does protest his movement.

“While I really do appreciate your concern, I’m excellent. Maybe if we had done this four or five years ago, it would be justified.”

“You wouldn't lie to us.” Angel pipes up again as the other girls continue to scan his appearance and traces of the bodily chemicals that so concerned them. It only takes a few more well-placed words to extrapolate himself from the situation.

As soon as Elijah reaches his office, he moves as if possessed to the desk cluttered with papers and books and charts. The chair squeaks in protest as Elijah throws himself down. His new found and affirmed affection for Connor has spurred his need for a solution to their situation regarding Cyberlife.

Chapter Text

45 Days Until

Connor cannot remember ever having been this content with his life. Sure he is still not allowed to leave this lab, sure Elijah visits a little less frequently Cyberlife now expecting more work from him, and sure he and Elijah have to be very secretive about their affections, but Connor can tolerate all of this. He has been through much worse, although, that is not to say it’s easy to keep his hands to himself. Every stolen touch or glance is a gift and a curse all at once. Still no matter how much it hurts to know that the soft lingering brushes of skin won’t lead anywhere, as Elijah has set the boundary at kissing for ‘Safety reasons Connor.’ Of course, it’s very logical that Elijah should set such limits due to all of the surveillance.

Numerous times Connor has fought very hard to change that rule. At first, he had begun with his own very crude yet very endearing form of seduction, this only resulted in Elijah laughing and calling him “my Anteros,” more than a few times. When that proved unfruitful, Connor tried relying on some of his persuasion programming. Everything from slowed speech, to putting on his own air of elusivity, he even once attempted to flat out beg; yet Elijah remained immovable.

Connor blushes a light shade of blue every time Elijah walks into the lab. When Connor stops relying on bits of his programming and is entirely himself, he finds himself shaky every time the man talks philosophy to him. Often very clear images of all the previous kisses and touches they have shared quite literally flash before Connor’s eyes when Elijah acts in any way the android deems endearing. This evening is no different.

Today Elijah had arrived at a strange time, much later than his usual, and enters the lab with easy strides. Elijah appears in knee-length royal purple kimono that is tightly cinched and partially open about the chest; wine bottle in hand. Connor’s eyebrows shoot up at the sight, and of course, his vision is momentarily blocked by multiple video clips of everything from the moments between kisses to the very first time Connor had touched Elijah’s hand. The obstruction quickly fades away, however, and Connor is surprised by the quick flare of jealousy he experiences at the thought that someone must have seen Elijah dressed like this in the lobby.

A black silk scarf falls from his shoulders down his arms and catches at his waist; Connor can’t help but follow the moment with his eyes as Elijah takes his time crossing the room.

“A hello would be nice.” Elijah mock laments as he goes to set the wine bottle down.

“I was shocked by-” Connor begins truthfully, but at the self-satisfied look on Elijah's face as the man turns to him Connor decides not to flatter the man “by the wine.”

Elijah honestly does look a tad put out at that answer, and Connor immediately jumps to speak his genuine thoughts, “And you. Always you.”

“Oh?” Elijah questions his mood changing on a dime, now openly fishing for compliments

“Yes, I feel very underdressed now,” Connor admits with a smile, “I thought I would not be seeing you today. It’s late.”

“Time got away from me today while I was working.”

“What were you working on?”

Elijah falters in his step for a second and his face seems almost to visibly darken. “Another day, Connor. I'm here to get away from all that.”

“You are not only here to show off to me, are you?” Connor inquires, coming to tug lightly at the silk scarf. Elijah draws it back out of his grip, and Connor lets it go easily.

“You would enjoy that.” It’s not a question, and Elijah moves on before Connor gets a chance to comment, “No, I'm here to collect some documents.”

“And you couldn’t send one of your androids?” Connor probes.

“Okay, maybe I am here in part to impress you. How am I doing?”

“Amazingly.”

Elijah turns to him and tosses what looks like a small USB drive his way. Connor catches it without much thought.

“And this is?” The android questions and he walks to join kamski beside a smaller table away from the center of the room.

“Bacchus’ gift to Android's, and my gift to you” Elijah explains casually as he begins to pour himself a glass of wine.

“I’m not sure-”

“I don’t want to be the only one getting tipsy, that’s just rude.” Elijah explicates as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
“You don’t normally have any issue with ‘being rude’” Connor mutters and is almost surprised by his words. Elijah just gives a gasp in fake upset before moving quickly to pull up the back of Connor shirt.

Connor opens his mouth to ask for some sort of explanation but finds he quite enjoys the feeling of Elijah searching for the port on his back. Elijah quickly pulls the USB from between Connor’s fingers and slides it into place.

Suddenly Connor feels a very soft and very agreeable warm settle over his entire body. Elijah watches his shoulders visibly relax as he guides the android to the large windows now allowing for the golden light of sunset to warm the room.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Elijah asks from over Connor’s shoulder, and the android has to fight the urge to take the small step back and press himself against Elijah.

Connor doesn’t actually move to rest himself against Elijah’s chest, but he gets the feeling Elijah knows that he wants to, and appreciates that thought.

“Yes, it is,” Connor answers directly, still gazing out at the unfurling oranges and pinks.

“Have you always been this fascinated with the sky? Does it represent freedom to you?” Elijah questions languidly, carefully resting his free hand on Connor’s hip. He rubs his thumb in agonizingly slow circles against the small bit of exposed skin that peeks out from beneath the android’s silky black button up.

The feeling is so mind-numbing.

“Are you asking as my therapist?” Connor breathes out slowly, fighting himself to stay still, not to close the minimal space between them. Images of himself undoing Elijah’s too-tight knot come unbidden to his mind.

“Is that what you would prefer?” Elijah asks softly, moving infinitesimally forward, almost close enough that he could pull the android against him with the flick of his wandering hand.

“No. don't ask me as a therapist” Connor breaths out, exhale almost hitching at Elijah’s drag of fingernails just along Connor’s waistband. It is a kind of intoxicating torture only spurred on by whatever it was Elijah has put in his system. Connor is still thinking absolutely clearly, just, everything feels a little sweeter.

“As a friend perhaps?” Elijah asks with a smile in his voice as he suddenly steps away from Connor and retracts his hand and takes a moment to sip his wine.

Connor just shakes his head still unable to look back at the grinning man. Reaching his hand back and waiting for Elijah to rest his hand in his is as close as Connor can come to asking for the touch again. He does, and Connor places their conjoined fingers back on his hip. He drags Elijah's hand back to its location and lets out an almost inaudible sigh at the returned contact. It's more than enough to prompt Elijah.

“Alright then.” The explorer remarks with a smile in his voice and resumes the careful circles, “your fascination with the sky is definitely… romantic.”

“In the literary sense?” Connor breaths out as Elijah begins to litter kisses along the exposed skin of the back of his neck.

“In what other sense would I be asking?” Elijah questions with just a hint of sarcasm tinting his light tone.

“I would call myself a romantic,” Connor says, a small smile tugging at his lips.

“Highly empathetic hm?” Is the question Elijah poses as he slides his hand up, to Connor’s audible protest, only to resettle his fingers on the android’s nipples, to Connor’s audible approval.

“You’d be surprised.” Connor mutters and then with a sudden, cold realization- “Cameras?” Connor questions as faintly as he can. As much as he doesn’t want the feeling of Elijah’s hand exploring to stop, he also his highly aware of the situation.

“Small blind spot. Been slowly adjusting the camera remotely, Sun hits the windows right, reflection blurs the video for a moment, doesn't call attention to itself” Elijah whispers almost too quietly for Connor to pick up on.

“A moment?”

“Long enough…” Elijah trails off.

They stay silent for some time now, save the small soft sounds that force their way out of Connor’s mouth against his own volition.

Eventually, Elijah abandons his glass and turns Connor to kiss him. Connor tries desperately to focus on the feeling of Elijah, but unfortunately, a toxicology report keeps working its way into his line of sight.

“No wine next time,” and it’s clear Elijah knows why Connor make the remark.

“You are cruel to ask that of me.” Elijah tries to deadpan before turning Connor to face the window again.

The steady, precise fingers work their way up in languid strokes. Elijah paints a painfully slow brush stroke of fire up Connors midriff.

“I want to touch you too,” Connor whispers, trying to turn to face Elijah again.

“Not yet,” Elijah mutters.

Warmth floods Connor's systems as Elijah finally takes the step to press the android’s yielding body into his. The humming of his internal cooling system is just barely audible to the man behind him. The small electronic, decidedly un-human sounds are quickly covered up by a very human gasp as Elijah drags nails against his skin. Connor tips his head back to rest on Elijah's shoulder as the man's hands work up his chest and back down.

Maybe it's the USB doing its work or the heady mixture of heat and promise of more that compels the android to slowly grind against Elijah.

“Fuck” Elijah hisses at the contact.

Blush colors the androids face at the sound, and sort of deep embarrassment rises unbidden from his chest. Connor wants this, he really does, but he is frozen, unsure of what to do with himself except try and muffle his own sighs.

Thankfully, Elijah seems able to read the androids loss, and mutters into his ear, “do that again,” Connor obliges, it's easier when he has instructions. Elijah words cox him on smoothly, and Connor wonders what had taken them so long when such simple acts brought such a deep sense of being desirable and worthy.

Connor wants to voice any one of these thoughts, but it all catches in his throat when Elijah clicks open one of the panels on his abdomen. Connor is completely shocked both by the intensity of the feeling and the fact that Elijah accomplishes this without looking while at the same time seeking his own gratification.

“Ah, there aren't any documents, are there,”

“No there aren't.”

“So, you’ve given in then.” Connor tries to say with some sort of triumph, but at the same moment, Elijah presses the heel of his hand against something -Connor has no clue what- and the words spill out as some sort of unintelligible moan.

“Yes, you are more persuasive than you know.”

Connor can’t tell if Elijah's hand is warm or cold all he knows is that it is skilled.

“Do you trust me?” Elijah breaths against his ear, before biting at the shell of it.

“Yes, Of course.”

With that, Elijah moves away from the wire he had previously been toying with and tightens his hand around something else and Connor’s vision whites out for a second. His whole body tingles, and he struggles for breath.

“What was-” Connor beings breathless and newly obsessed with the feeling of whatever Elijah had just done.

“Constricted blood flow, only for a moment-”

“Again, please.” Connor is rushing out before Elijah can finish his sentence.

Connor can't help but grab Elijah’s wrist when he repeats the action, but that does not deter the man. Connor desperately wants to look down at what Elijah is doing to him, but he can’t. As if reading his hind, Elijah suddenly stops his administrations. And leans in to whisper, “touch yourself.”

Connor shakes his head, beyond mortified by the situation, and he fervently wishes Elijah would just get back to what he was doing before because that was very nice and significantly less embarrassing.

“Yes. you touch here,” and Elijah moves his therium coated fingers to rest right above the tented fabric of Connor’s pants, “And I'll continue here.”

“I don’t- I mean -how?” Connor rushes out, “I've not…”

Elijah wordless takes Connors hand in his own and guides their conjoined hands below Connor waistband. Connor full-body shivers with every stroke Elijah guides Connor through, and once the android has become proficient, Elijah returns to the wires.

Connor’s spare sighs quickly become a stream of conscious solely focused on Elijah. Connor can feel something building in the pit of his stomach, and he feels so close to whatever that cliff's edge is.

And then the phone rings.

Elijah hangs his head and huffs, “fuck,” the expletive has lost any hint of erotic abandon. He removes his hands and Connor is left breathing raggedly; his body trying to aide his internal cooling systems.

The man walks over to where his phone lays with an apologetic look over his shoulder towards the totally disheveled android. He wipes his hands on a towel left behind from some previous experiment before he answers. As kamski goes about all this Connor is still shaky, confused, and suddenly very cold.

“Meeting.” Is all Elijah says as he is about to leave. He seems to think better of it though and walks his way back to the still reeling android, takes his hand, and presses a chaste kiss to the knuckles.

“If I have any sense or self-control, that won't happen again” Elijah drawls, lips still against Connor’s hand, in a tone of voice that very much implies he would rather he had no sense at all.

"Don't finish without me," And with that Elijah leaves Connor to mull over the events of that evening.

When Connor thinks Elijah is out of earshot, he very pointedly states, “asshole.” Elijah was not out of, however, and spends the entirety of the walk to the meeting room trying not to laugh.

Chapter Text

45 days until.

The meeting room is as sterile and horrid as ever. It’s like something from a hospital, the air even carries that strange smell of antiseptic and discomfort. Elijah found his seat and coldly eyed a few of the people he deemed most unpleasant within that moment.

Elijah was very sure he was still wearing a “just fucked” look, and he did very little to mask it, save for re-tying his hair.

“What” he drawled, leaning back in the chair, and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“pleasure to have you join us,” Someone said in a voice that betrayed that they really did not find Elijah all that pleasant.

“I can’t say the same, but continue.” Elijah huffs out, now looking down at the papers in front of him.

“This is your work over the last few months,”

“I know that.”

“Well, then you must also know that absolutely contradictory nature of it all.”

Elijah looked up to the equally stark ceiling for a moment before answering.

“Yes, because I was wrong before. Now, I’m taking a different approach. As I’ve said before, the structure of an android's brain is modeled exactly off of the human model, with minor improvements. They have the ability to make connections within certain sections of the brain, lobes if you will, freely, like us humans, however, they can also create neural pathways that cross multiple sections or lobes, making them more efficient thinkers. If you confine these connections, as you have asked me to do, there isn’t any way they can at all mimic humans.”

Alister, the only face Elijah had any recollection of, smiled at him as you would a child.

“Yes, Elijah, but we aren't concerned with the ‘human feel’ only that it takes orders and cleans houses, works fast food places, as well as they, used to.”

Elijah wants to punch something.

“Then you’re asking the wrong person.”

“Excuse me?” The warm, affording smile Alister wore quickly faded away and was replaced by a colder look that was a much clearer representation of his annoyance.

“If you are just trying to make an android shaped vending machine, you don’t need me.”

“If you’re telling us it’s so easy, so base to you, why haven’t you done it already?” One of the many idiots sitting across from him spoke up.

“Because that’s a terrible goal,” Elijah says curtly and dismissively, actively waving a hand at the department head who had spoken.

“Your goal, to be frank, is to get back into our good graces.” Alister cut in. “If you know how to get rid of deviancy, but allow for the machine to do menial tasks, cook, clean, manual labor sorts of things, do it. With your intellect and this company’s budget, it really should be a non-issue at this point.”

A woman, seated to Elijah’s left spoke up next, “at this point you really should just.. just try something on that android. If it breaks, we can just try again. Obviously, you are able to make these sorts of machines that act out, give it a few months, a few books, and we can try again.”

Elijah internally went into a blind panic. They wanted him to get a move on, wanted him to hurt Connor.

The man to his right nodded in agreement with a look of satisfaction on his face.

“Really, your previous research might have some holes, although, really you are just nitpicking your previous work now… well, I’m saying that I agree, just try something.”

“The therapeutic method hasn’t gotten any results yet, you might as well-“ someone unseen started to speak, but the white noise of panic playing in his mind was deafening.

“I’m telling you, what you’re asking for is not something I can give you.” Elijah managed to get out, leaning forward in his seat to feign attentiveness.

“It’s not something you want to give us. You can do it. And you will give it to us if you ever want a chance at getting this company back. There really seems to me like there is no reason not to just do as we ask, you can have as many little pet project sentient beings at home as you want.” Alister said, all cold, no trace of his former good-natured persona.

“It’s morally-.” Elijah begins as he folds his hands into his lap to hide the fact that they shook slightly now.

“Since when do you care about morals, Elijah.” Alister laughs at his own words.

“Excuse me?” Elijah’s face hardens.

“Don’t play stupid Elijah, you and that harem of blonde little dolls, I’m surprised you of all people think they have a soul-“

And with that, Elijah slammed a hand down on the table and stood.

“Elijah,” Alister starts with a laugh, standing as well, arms open in a ‘can’t you take a joke’ gesture.

“Listen to me. I am the end all and be all of this” Elijah gestured to the room in a sweeping gesture. “I’m telling you that you will fail without me, this company will fail without me. I am the heart of all of this. And I’m telling you that I will not build you a glorified drone. Do with that what you will.”

And with that, Elijah walked out of the meeting room, sounds of general upset and confusion following in his wake.

________

30 days until

Elijah was working very diligently now on a false limiter of sorts. Something that would meet the demands of Cyberlife, for about a week or so, only to completely break down and allow any Android full use of their minds. Elijah had considered just dropping everything. It would be easy, so easy to walk away from the company. But then he thought about Connor, and how difficult it would be to get him out of that lab, and it was suddenly unthinkable to walk away.

He felt sure that he had made the large logical leaps necessary to outwit his own old research and create this new technology. He had sat through a number of absolutely horrid meetings, had had his own mental acuity doubted, and still, he trudged on. And, most impressively, he had written an email of apology. Although it hadn’t been answered yet, Elijah had chosen to act as if nothing had happened.

He toiled away over the papers and graphs and lines of code tirelessly and handed in these new findings as if he hadn’t just condemned the whole project to failure a few days ago. During those sleepless nights of mental gymnastics, Elijah would often mull over his motivation for dedicating so much of his time to another being; truly now he did alone this to win himself more time with Connor. It was terrifying having such a large task on his hands, a task that, if he were to fail, would kill him in all the ways that really mattered. He was now dependent on the happiness of another - how horrifying.

Elijah found he was often consumed by a need to see Connor. At first, Elijah assumed it was something sexual, just the wholly common and base need to touch another body. A feeling that Elijah was already quite accustomed to. Yet, when he was able to slip away from his studies and spend a free moment with Connor, he found they spent much more time talking than they did touching, and sometimes, the talking was even more pleasurable.

Soon, Elijah did away with all the stories that gave reason for his visits. No more “just grabbing papers,” no more, “just left something behind”

The first time Elijah had honestly told Connor he was there because he missed him (this moment, of course, took place after a particularly painful meeting in which there was a lot of idea bashing) it looked as if the Android were about to cry. That afternoon had consisted of Innumerable kisses. Connor had refused to be more than a foot away from him at any given moment, and when Elijah called him ‘clingy’ Connor just decreased the distance from one foot to something closer to one inch.

---

Elijah and Connor rest comfortably on the floor, now deeply involved in a game of Fortress Chess.

Elijah had been deliberately acting as if nothing was different. He worked the same, he greeted staff the same, and he still had laid back afternoons with Connor. Nothing at all was different aside from the perpetual anxious feeling that seemed to pervade his every waking moment since he stormed out of that meeting room.

When Elijah had introduced the game Connor had frowned- the game was traditionally four players. The thought of having not just Cecilia pull Kamski’s attention away, but potentially a second person had quickly spoiled Connor’s mood. To Connor's surprise, Elijah suggested they both take on the role of two players. Connor was sure he had followed up that statement with some pretentious line about the duality of man, but the joy of having Elijah to himself for awhile more was thoroughly distracting.

Connor is up by quite a few points- per usual, and Elijah puts on a show of anger and annoyance and poor sportsmanship- per usual.

“This whole game is unfair. You are post-Alphazero- post-Fritz even!” Elijah sighed as he surveyed the board in front of him, he was truly running out of ways he could beat the smirking android across from him.

“I'm not all-knowing. Besides not all my programming went into especially chess skills, you're being dramatic, Elijah.”

“Oh, I'm well aware you can do things besides play chess” Elijah sighed and moved his piece across the board all the while seeing clearly in his mind the ways in which Connor could easily capture the piece.

“Like annoy you?” The Android questioned, making that move Elijah had been dreading.

“Like annoy me,” Elijah affirmed.

“The social programming was, in part, your doing…”

“Yes, yes, I'm my own downfall.” Elijah sighed while he executed another move he knew would be easy to counter.

“In a way, you are... but you can’t entirely predict me.” Connor mused, his hand hovering over the board, clearly making a number of pre-construction in his mind. Connor’s eyes sharpened visibly, as he made up his mind about his next move. “You aren't you own undoing-” Connor pinned both Elijah’s kings, granting himself complete control of the center of the board; the android smiled to himself before flicking his gaze back up to Elijah, “I am.”

Elijah is stubborn, singularly minded, and strong-willed but even he knew when he was waging a pointless war.

“You are endlessly fascinating... and endlessly frustrating.” Elijah huffs, leaning back on his arms and pointedly not looking down at the pieces between them.

“You love it.” Connor smiles as he goes about winning the game quietly.

“Don’t get cocky.” Elijah snaps in mock annoyance

“You're right, we only need one enigmatic, vainglorious genius around.” Connor quips and Elijah reaches across the board, takes Connor’s kings in his hand and throws them at Connor’s chest. Even as he does it, Elijah finds he his totally devoid of the normal sting of failure when he losses. The joy of watching Connor so in his element consumes Elijah wholly and leaves little room for his own sore ego.

“Rude” Connor admonishes as he picked up his kings and holds them between his strong yet delicate fingers.

“You love it.”

Connor smiles, but then something washes over his expression and Elijah can see in his face that Connor is considering asking something.

“Out with it, Connor”

“About cyberlife-“ Connor begins slowly, searching for words, but before he settled on the words he needs to ask, Elijah is shoving the chess board out of the way, and is pushing Connor to the ground with one hand and steadying himself over the Android with the other. Connor’s yielding body moves easily under Elijah’s hands and the man easily has the Android pinned. Elijah takes just a fraction of a moment to take in the sight.

Elijah muffles Connor’s shocked exclamation with his mouth, and thoroughly kisses Connor into silence. There are jumbled words between them, all lost into the mouth of the other.

When they separate, Elijah has to catch his breath. Connor just gazes up at him, all mussed hair, blown out pupils, and blue-hued lushed.

“Elijah, that was… unexpected.”

“But you enjoyed it, yes?”

“Always, but” Connor lifts himself off the floor with his elbows, only for Elijah to push him back down.

“Elijah, I want to ask you-“

Again, Elijah covered Connor’s lips with his own. This time, however, Connor turns his face away. Elijah’s free hand is suddenly there guiding him back.

“Elijah- this, this is lovely, but- but I need to know-“

“Connor, hush. I’m here to spend time with you, no work talk.”

Once more, Elijah leaned down to kiss along Connor’s neck.

“Eli- Elijah, this concerns my own well being, we can- we can- do all this afterward.”

Two fingers are unceremoniously shoved into Connor’s parted lips.

If Connor did not need to ask very important and life-or-death questions, he would have found this position absolutely exquisite. However, Connor was slowly getting annoyed.

“Elijah, we need to talk about this-“

The man in question immediately pulled his hand from out of Connor’s mouth and began unbuttoning the Android’s top. The slickness of Elijah’s fingers as they made contact with Connor’s skin had him shivering despite himself.

“Quiet.” Was all Elijah said as he pressed his lips to the very corner of Connor’s mouth.

“Elijah, You are avoiding. You have not- have not even heard my question yet.”

“Quiet yourself or I’ll do it for you,” Elijah spoke into the skin of Connor’s neck. His breath warm and his words muffled.

“Elijah” no answer, a hand came up to weakly cover the android's mouth.

Connor had been playing nice for the whole of this encounter. He had let Elijah pin him down, and had let Elijah have his way. But now, quite fed up with the man’s antics, Connor deemed it necessary to take control of the situation again.

With that, Connor easily took Elijah by the shoulders and rolled them over. Connor sat back comfortably on Elijah’s chest and gazed down at the shocked man beneath him.

“Now. As I was saying-“ Connor began when Elijah had the bright idea of trying to pull himself free. Connor only huffed in annoyance, grabbed both of Elijah’s wrists and held them firmly in place next to the struggling man’s head.

“Absolutely fuck you.” Was Elijah’s response to the new situation.

“Back to what I was going to ask you. Within the past five or so days you have been acting odd. I have deduced that it has something to do with Cyberlife and your… agreement with them. Have the parameters changed?”

“Get the fuck off me, Connor.” Elijah spat out, now genuinely trying to free himself.

“I will if you’ll just answer my question, Elijah.”

The man beneath him stilled and gazed up at him with was probably intended to be an angry sort of look, but beneath the exterior Connor could easily see the anxiety.

“What has you so nervous Elijah? Talk to me.”

“I had a bit of a spat with some of Cyberlife staff the other week. That meeting I went to, after wine with you? Well, that one didn't go too well, and then they asked me to hurt you, Connor.”

Connor let go of the man’s hands and moved to allow for Elijah to sit up beneath him.

“Were you just not going to say anything to me?” Connor questioned, cocking his head as he spoke.

“I'm- well, I'm not sure, but you know now. I swear I’m doing everything I can to keep them at bay for a bit longer but-” Elijah spoke, running a hand mindlessly down Connor’s back.

“Where does all of this go Elijah?” Connor asks softly, barely audible, and with a look of such pure confusing and yearning that it broke Elijah’s heart a few times over in the time it took him to think of an answer.

“I’m not entirely sure Connor. I’d rather not-”

“Really Elijah, they aren't going to keep me around her forever, and I’m not going to buying my freedom any time soon. I hadn’t given it much thought before…” Connor trails off, now resting a finger against his lips as he spoke, “I’ve just been wondering how we go from here.”

Chapter Text

30 days until

The two have fallen into a bit of a fight. The ‘where do we go’ comment having been much too much for Elijah and sending them back to square one of this spat. Nothing serious, but there is a fair amount of rolling around, pushing, and one semi-serious bite - courtesy of Elijah.

“Look, Elijah” Connor, beneath the man, yet with his hands on both of the man’s wrists, in total control of the situation, frowned up at Elijah. “I’m still trying to speak with you. Listen.”

Elijah only glared down at him for a moment before wrenching his wrist free to press a hand over Connor’s mouth, firmly.

“Elijah. Are you really going to choose to be difficult about this?” the words, of course, somewhat muffled.

“I’m not difficult.” Elijah refutes, and yet, his hand is still pressed persistently over Connor’s mouth.

“You are.”

“I am not.”

“Childish too.” The android responds, sitting the two of them with little effort up so that a disgruntled Elijah finds himself snugly in Connor’s lap.

“I actually like to think of myself as quite adult,” Elijah responds with a wicked grin, but before he could try anything, Connor’s hands are on the man’s hips, stilling him before he has any chance to cause distraction. Clearly, Elijah’s attempts at changing the subjects were absolutely not working on Connor as well as they would have only a few weeks ago.

“I thought you would enjoy that...” Elijah mutters somewhat dejectedly, but when he meets Connor’s gaze, he immediately sobers; the android’s eyebrows are furrowed, lips pursed, cheeks a little flushed from frustration.

“Elijah, why haven’t we run?”

It’s a simple question, but Elijah almost jumps at it nonetheless.

“I- well-” Elijah continues to try and stall for time to organize his thoughts.

“I assumed we had already been over the fact that you don’t need this company. And I do understand, Elijah, that Cyberlife means a lot to you, only- only I thought”

And before Connor could finish his sentence, Elijah cups the android’s face in his hands, gently, “You, Connor? You are vastly more important.”

“Then, why?”

“Because I’m weak, Connor. I have a horrid ego, and I can’t stand to lose, not on any front. Which isn’t fair to you, of course, you are so much more to me than any of this” Elijah leans in for a brief kiss, but Elijah meets the soft skin of Connor’s cheek instead. The android has turned his head away.

“Then why don’t we? Go now.” Connor whispers, still not meeting Elijah’s gaze.

“Well, if you become more of a risk than a potential profit, they will kill you,” another kiss, this time to android’s jaw, “it’s all cost-benefit.”

“No matter what I offer them, the risk of a free deviant who may harbor some negative feelings towards the company is too great a danger. However unpredictable a situation we find ourselves in, Connor, you can always rely on Cyberlife acting cowardly.”

“And I do have some false limiters in the later stages of development- and ideally they would create the illusion of you being non-deviant, but they are still far too dangerous, the effects perhaps irreversible.” Elijah continues.

“Is it not worth the risk?” Connor wonders aloud and is a little shocked at the grave look on Elijah’s face.

“Connor. If I were confident in my work, I would try it- we would try it. I’m not comfortable risking your well being. I promise you though that as soon as I deem it safe, we will try it. I promise.” Elijah pauses, and the awfully somber look in his eyes dissipates somewhat as he quirks his eyebrows in that way that always makes Connor want to kiss the furrowed skin between his brow, “Can I kiss you now? You’ve stressed me out a great deal.” Elijah grins at Connor and in his smile is the request for levity; a request for a change of topic.

Connor obliges, two hands gently guiding Elijah’s lips to his own. It’s slow and almost painfully sweet when they meet. The android is greeted by an analysis pop up behind his closed eyes, listing the components of Elijah’s lip gloss.

Connor does not remove his hands from the man’s jaw and uses this grip to effectively dictate Elijah’s movements. The man has, of course, taken note of this and can’t help but smile into the kiss as he lets himself be led.

When Connor breaks the kiss, he runs a reverent thumb over Elijah’s lips.

“Give me your hands.”

“Bossy.” Elijah grins, only earning himself a raised eyebrow and a retraction of both of Connor’s hands from his face.

Elijah quickly presents his hands.

“I hate that I met you here. This way.” Connor laces their fingers together a few times, mulling over how he wants to proceed with his little idea.

“I hate it too,” Elijah responds, letting his fingers go limp against the android’s. “There are so many things I detest about this.”

“I hate how I’ve never slept in a bed with you, and I hate how I’ve never cooked for you, I hate that I’ve never seen you wake up-” a white patch, just above the wrist begins to branch out slowly along Connor’s wrist as the android maintains careful eye contact with Elijah.

“I always have awful bed head. You wouldn’t like me in the morning.”

“I always like you,” Connor mutters, a slight pout playing at his lips.

This comment causes a little fit of laughter from the typically serious man. For some reason, his smile makes Connor want to burst into tears. Something so unrestrained and lovely didn’t belong in this world - Elijah had cultivated a world he was not meant to function in.

“Completely false. We fight awfully.” again, that softer smile saved for Connor exclusively spreads across Elijah’s face.

The smooth white had almost wholly replaced the artificial skin of both of Connor’s hands before Elijah took any real notice.

“You and I have only fought… once or so.”

“I remember it being fairly brutal, Connor.” Elijah mumbles, a little too fascinated in what Connor was doing with their hands to pay full attention to the words he spoke.

The android merely shrugs in response before closing his eyes and seeming to concentrate very hard on… something. Elijah can feel a slight static beneath his fingers, and at the same moment, he realizes precisely what Connor is attempting, the android breaths out some angelic sort of sigh and Elijah shivers at the sound.

“Is this doing something for you, Connor?” Elijah asks in a hushed tone, unable to look away from the androids soft and longing expression.

Connor merely nods, before grasping Elijah’s hands tighter, the static slowly becoming more of a tingling-shocking sensation, and Elijah is happy to oblige, wholly intrigued by whatever gratification Connor was finding in this- that is until an actual shock of alarmingly strong voltage meets the delicate skin of Elijah’s wrists.

The man jerks his hands away with a shout, already bringing the burnt skin closer for inspection.

“Sorry! I didn’t- I wasn’t thinking about… skin” The android says, trying to see the damage.

“You forgot about skin?” Elijah asks incredulously, still nursing his burnt hand.

“I’m not well versed, seeing as I don’t have any.”

“Right…” the decidedly inhuman aspects of Connor still startled Elijah every now and again.

“Let me see.” Connor requests, and when Elijah presents the injury, Connor gives a sheepish smile before pressing a kiss to the skin.

“Nothing burn cream can’t fix.”

“What was your life like before all this, Elijah?” Connor asks, separating and untangling himself from the man for a moment to allow Elijah to reach into his pocket and pull out the burn cream he kept especially for electrical injuries that he so often obtained when working on androids. It was fortunate he had forgotten to put it away in his workshop after working all morning with one of the Chloe’s on her broken knee joint - water damage.

“Why the sudden interest, Connor?”

“I was, at one point, programmed to interrogate.”

Elijah can’t help but smile at Connor, even as his wrist continues to burn horribly.

“I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have many stories of college benders. I’ve been the same person, always. If that’s what you’re asking.”

“You aren’t always the same person to all people. Elijah. You’ve been so many different people to me already.” Connor frowns.

“Well, college was mostly solitary; being so young. What drugs and drinking I did, I did alone. I started the company right out of college. I was 16. I didn’t exactly choose the best business partners- well clearly.” the man shrugged and cocked his head to the side - a gesture he had picked up from Connor- before continuing, “I was smart then too, but I’d never had someone try to steal my work, or try to befriend me for the work perks. I was much less discerning and lost for it, many times. It was odd going through that at 16. Several people befriended me and walked away as soon as they got whatever paycheck they had been after. I’ve had family reappear and disappear depending on how the company was looking. A cousin of mine disowned me when I wouldn’t pay for his schooling - he ended up working as a fireman or a cop… whatever it was, it wasn’t his dream job. His parents, of course, blamed me when he started up with drinking and smoking.”

By the end of his little monologue, Elijah had finished with the nursing of his hand.

Connor just looks at Elijah. “Do you remember,” he starts, “the time you told me I wasn’t ‘made for pain such as this?’”

Elijah raises an eyebrow, “Of course. You broke my heart with that face of yours the moment I saw you.”

“I’d like to return the sentiment now.”

“I’m not as fragile as you think.”

An amused look flits across Connor’s face as he watches the man on his lap, “I think you are much more breakable than you would like to believe.”

Connor reaches around to pull at the elastic, keeping Elijah’s hair in a neat bun. Connor quickly undoes it and starts a slow carding through the strands. Slowly, the gentle carding, accentuated with a few catches on small knots, morphs into a purposeful tugging. The man grins each time he feels a twinge of pain at the consistent pulling.

“Don’t pull from the tips. If you must-” Here, Elijah reaches an arm back to readjust Connor’s grip; now the android had a firm fist full of Elijah’s hair at the base of the man’s neck, “Pull it like that.”

Connor pulled experimentally, lightly, but even just with that one small motion Elijah was rolling his head back and sighing; eyes closed and a contented smile spreading across the man’s features.

“What were we talking about?” Elijah questions again, finally free enough to press his hips down onto Connor’s.

“Hm, not sure.”

“I know that you know. Androids don’t forget. I think you were talking about the founding of my company.”

“That sounds correct.” Connor raised a free hand to press into Elijah’s lower lip, “although, I thought you said you would rather not talk about work,” When the android pulls his finger away, it’s just barely stained a soft pink. Connor presses the finger into his own mouth, finally curious enough about the lipstick to fully pay attention to the informational pop up; the analysis came up immediately.

“Guerlain?”

“Hush.” and to Connor’s amusement and utter shock, Elijah actually blushes, ever so slightly.

“Well, I think it looks very nice,” Connor pulls back on Elijah’s hair again, exposing the man’s neck. “May I?”

Elijah laughs something low and thrilling and gives a quick nod, “What else were we talking about?”

“The things I hate.”

“Ah, yes. Carry on.”

“I hate that you will most likely object to my giving you a hickey. Seeing as I have already burnt your skin today.”

“Hm… I don’t wholly object to your marking me. What else?”

“I hate that your shirt isn’t on the floor.”

“That can be remedied,” and with that, Elijah casts off the black sleeveless turtleneck he had been wearing, and Connor smiles up at him.

“I hate that you bruise so easy, I hate that I can’t bite you.”

Elijah takes a moment to consider before he sighs and leans into Connor, with a soft ‘gently please.’

The feeling of Connor’s teeth against his skin is surprisingly enjoyable. It’s the same type of dull pain he so relishes when the android pulls at his hair. The same type of edgeless yet whole pain he feels every time he considers the unlikeliness of a smooth departure from Cyberlife with Connor.
__________________

Elijah slips silently down the hall in the direction of security. It’s the same ritual he has been carrying out almost nightly ever since his and Connor’s first kiss. Of course, Elijah prefers other methods of obscuring the camera’s proverbial line of sight; waiting for sunlight to bounce off the windows just right, slowly readjusting the exact angle of the cameras, having Connor do the interference himself. Any one of these methods would have been preferable and have saved Elijah the always slightly panic-inducing walk to the room in which all the video footage for the floor was stored.

The halls themselves are completely empty, the air of the space is lifeless, and yet Elijah can’t help the little thrum panic that fills his chest each time he turns a corner.

Upon arrival, Elijah notices something unusual right away, a keypad, shiny, silver, and new right beside the door that read in bright blue letters’ security.’ Typically, this room only required the physical key Elijah always keeps on him; however, he is sure that the typical company number for these sorts of keypads will work just as well.

With slightly trembling fingers, Elijah reaches out towards the smooths keys and gently types in the standard six-digit code.

It flashes red.

Elijah, brows furrowed, retype it. Again, denied.

He can feel his breath coming in short as he proceeds to type in every possible iteration of company code that has ever been used in all of Cyberlife’s history; nothing.

Elijah leans closer to the keypad, inspecting the keys, hoping to find which keys have been worn down to perhaps indicate which buttons were pressed most often, but, because of the newness of this machine, every single key is equally as pristine as the others.

The panic really sets in now. Elijah reaches for his phone, considers calling and flat out asking for the code, but there is no possible way even he could play that off casually.

The very fact that this new measure of security had been installed was proof enough to Elijah that Cyberlife had him figured out. They must have seen something, or perhaps this was some petty move after recent the trainwreck of meeting, or maybe Connor’s tampering was not as subtle as Elijah had believed it to be.

Whatever the reason, Elijah was sure of one thing, someone within the company would have access to the video of the last few he had spent with Connor.

Elijah leaned back against the door, trying to calm his thoughts, trying to find a solution, trying to find a workaround, but there was nothing. Slowly, he slid to the ground.

It wasn't fair. It was horrid and painful and wrong that that same thing that brought him unparalled joyed only hours before now had been turned on him. His own affections turned into a weapon agaist him.
_________________________________________

29 days until

Elijah has just sent a very dangerous email. He knows it. The early morning still moves with the same sluggishness; almost normal enough that he can forget the happenings of a few hours ago. He still takes his coffee in his bedroom, and as he drinks, he still gazes listlessly out across the miles and miles that separate him from the rest of the city like he has every Saturday morning that had come before.

Elijah considered going to Connor; had passed around in his garage at 2 am just itching to drive back to Cyberlife to explain the situation to him, but now knowing that every action of his would be recorded, he didn’t think it wise to visit as such disparate hours.

For May, it was surprisingly wet and grey, so much so that everything in the house seemed to take on a desaturated hue. Not that there was much color in the house, to begin with, but coupled with the weather, the effect was somewhat like one of those old black and white films.

Elijah turns the mug in his hands a few times, drawing the warmth out as well as he could. A slight tremor in his hand made each sip of the hot and bitter drink just a tad more challenging than it should have been.

Elijah reaches for his phone that he had tossed somewhere at the foot of his bed. Reaching across the expanse of silk, Elijah wonders why he is even checking again. No alert went off. No alarm buzzed. Yet the man can’t seem to stop himself from picking up the device.

Nothing.

The sun is beginning to appear along the horizon line. Slowly, slowly, the room becomes saturated again; Elijah watches with an amused detachment as he finishes his drink. His free hand drifts up to massage the dark purple bruises Connor had littered across his neck.

For a company always hounding him with various calls, texts, emails, and anything of the sort really, they were remarkably bad about getting back to him.

Elijah opened up the email he had sent, and read it over for about the eighth time today.

Alistire,
In my working with the RK800 android, I have discovered that he is a wonderful model for me to test various upgrades on, as that is the model type that most of my at-home projects would run most smoothly on.
I have learned all I can from it regarding deviancy, and as you are aware, the limiters are only a few days from completion.
I’m requesting that you sell the RK800 to me.
You may consider this part pf my payment for working with the company. I propose that you take 25% of the company’s earnings when I am awarded full leadership of the company. You, of course, don’t need to be reminded of how large of a cut 25% is of a multi-billion dollar international company.
On top of that, I am prepared to meet any additional price you may ask of me.

Elijah Kamski

 

__________

Connor wakes to the familiar sound of the lab doors being opened. He sits and stretches his arms above his head, yawning as he does so. The android stands, still warm and unfocused from sleep and, barefoot, rounds the corner. Connor knows Elijah’s footsteps so well that he hardly has to look up at the man before folding himself comfortably into Elijah’s chest yet the android can immediately sense that something is off.

“Morning to you too, Connor.” The man responds with what sounds like a smile, yet he gingerly pulls himself away from the android.

Connor simply frowns and reaches out for Elijah again, only to have the man step gently out of his grasp.

“Elijah?” the Android questions, suddenly very alert on account of Elijah’s bizarre behavior.

“Is everything alright?” Connor questions, but Elijah is moving back to the workspace and plugging in his computer.

“Connor, we need to talk about something that happened last night.”

“You’re not mad about the-,” and Connor lifts a finger to gesture towards the array of purple marks along Elijah’s neck and collar bones.

“Absolutely not.” Elijah gave him a warm smile, then lowered his voice drastically, “I wasn’t able to delete the video from last night.”

Connor felt like he might just shut down, if not for the steadying hand Elijah placed on his shoulder.

“I’ve asked to buy your freedom, but I’ve not heard anything back yet. This is an extremely precarious situation. I really can’t touch you now, for obvious reasons. I believe we should carry on as normal until I hear back. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold back this answer just to cause me the extra stress.” Elijah is still trying to maintain that natural smile as he watches Connor process this information.

“I told them to name a price, and offered Alistire 25% of the company, of course, I’d give up the whole thing for you Connor, but I can’t have them knowing just how much you mean to me. Are you okay, Connor?”

The android simply nods, but Elijah can read his discomfort clearly.

“Until then? You won’t stop visiting right? I don’t think I could handle that, Elijah.”

“Of course, I’ll be here. I don’t think I would fair too well without you, either.”

“Elijah, I remember you telling me that no matter the price, they wouldn’t free me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that has not changed in the last few hours.”

Elijah can’t help the pained expression that washes over his face as he gazes at Connor’s equally confused and anxiety-ridden features.

“That’s our only option now Connor. I’m sorry.”