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Alii Inspiriti

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It wasn’t hard to find him, it wasn’t hard to find anything. The murder weapon had been left in the victim and the victim had been left in the kitchen. It was a simple case. It was easy. There were prints everywhere and Gavin had the name and address of the suspect in mere minutes. It should have been a relief, how easy it was, but it made Nines uncomfortable, all of his muscles tightening as he looked around the room. It was easy. It was just too easy.

“You hear that, meat sack?” Gavin had rolled his eyes and left without another word, hands shoved into his pockets. Nines watched him go, couldn’t hear anything, his own thoughts clouding his judgment. There had to be something, some reason that this was all laid out for them. It was as if the suspect wanted to be caught. It was like this whole thing was a trap.

Then he did hear it, a gruff yell, something hard and sturdy crashing down, a lot of swearing. He knew what he had to do, he knew his objective. His mind went silent when his mission became clear. He ran after Gavin, drawing his gun as he did.

The path was blocked by a bookshelf, papers and books cascaded to the floor. It was wide too, almost enough to block his sight of what was happening on the other side. He could see the suspect, sweaty and panicked, but also with conviction in his stance. In one hand he was holding a tire iron. It was already dripping blue, not just from the victim, but from a new source. He couldn’t see Gavin.

“Gavin?” he called out the androids name, getting on his tip toes, trying to look down at him. He cursed Cyberlife for making him so short, it was hard enough to see him at this angle, if he was injured it would be even harder.

“I suggest you back away, officer,” Jeff stepped forward, smirking, trying to hide how he was shaking. “This doesn’t concern a good human like yourself.”

“Is that why you’re doing this?” Nines didn’t move, didn’t back away. He could rightfully interfere but talking made Jeff pause a moment. “You’re trying to prove a point against the androids? Or is this vengeance? I understand, you must of had a good job and a perfect life, only to lose it to Cyberlife. It happened to a lot of us. Some of us still fear that we will be proven inefficient and be replaced. Murdering a few androids isn’t going to alter anything though, you must be aware of that.”

“It took my job!” Jeff bellowed and he was moving again, drawing closer, raising the tire iron. “I lost everything! My wife, the kids! My whole life went down the drain! I didn’t want to be a bum! I didn’t want to be a nobody! You’re worried this thing is going to replace you?” He brought the tire iron down and Nines could hear a sickening crack, like the side of a car being smashed into, not like the breaking of bones, and he could hear Gavin cursing more, the sound pained and uncharacteristically quiet. Jeff must have made the first hit really count then, if Gavin wasn’t beating him to a pulp right now.

“Jeff,” Nines ordered and the tone in his voice must have done something because Jeff was looking up at him now. “You are not destroying a machine right now. You are assaulting an officer of the DPD, one Detective Gavin Reed.”

“I’m freeing you!” Jeff argued, a bit of mania creeping into his voice, “There’s no need to be afraid if they’re gone! No need to get iced, to try to forget!”

“I’m going to move this bookshelf out of the way, and then I’m going to come into the room. You will be arrested for the murder of the TR400 unit, armed assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, and damaging police property. I will then read you your rights and take you to the station for processing, do you understand?”

“Fuck you!” Jeff spat out and then he was down on his knees and Nines couldn’t see what he was doing. He could hear Gavin though, struggling, heels kicking against the floor, fighting back as best he could.

Nines didn’t wait for them to get out of the way. He shoved against the bookshelf. It groaned and fought against him, huge, solid wood, and at the wrong angle. The TR400 had most likely been the one to get it into the house. There was no way anyone else was strong enough to.

It was enough time for Jeff to pull away from Gavin, who made a terrible whining sound, and run off, not too quickly as he was a bit more out of shape than could be considered healthy. Normally Gavin would be on his feet, would be after the perp, would have him down in seconds, and Nines would have to stop him from beating the man to death. This time though, he was just lying there, doing nothing, but whimpering softly, as Nines pushed his way through.

“Nines?” he asked, the pain obvious in his throat, as Nines finally squeezed himself into the room.

“Shit!” Nines growled, looking down and then falling to his knees at Gavin’s side. There was blue on his face, more than usual, some coming from a spot next to his eye, more spurting from his nose and dribbling down his lip. That was nowhere near the worst of it, a large crack in the back of his head on the opposite side, the skin peeled back to display the damaged chassis. There was more blue in his side, oozing through the white of his jacket, dripping down his hand. It hadn’t even been that much time but Jeff had done a lot of damage already.

“You gonna stand there and stare dipshit?” It came out as a rattling whisper, “Or are you gonna get that bastard? Phcker stole my heart.”

Nines’ eyes tracked over to the middle of Gavin’s chest. His shirt had been pulled up, out of the way, and there was more thirium pumping out of the wide open hole in his chest, dribbling out and down his deceptively soft abdomen. The pump was gone.

“How much time?” Nines started over to the door, following Jeff, leaving Gavin alone to bleed out.

“I’m a tough guy,” Gavin weakly smirked, though his LED was a bright red. “I’ve got a whole 2 minutes.”

Two minutes. He had to catch up with Jeff, wrestle the pump back from him, arrest him, and get back to Gavin in two minutes. He could do that.

He was sprinting through the building, going down the stairs three at a time, launching himself forward by his grip on the railing. He could follow Jeff without much of an issue, there was a blue trail leading him.

The man was leaning against a wall, panting, his grip on the tire iron loose in his hold. Not much of a chase then, at least. Nines hadn’t been aiming before but he was now, gun drawn and pointing at the man’s back as he walked towards him, silent and terrifying. He knew that he was intimidating and now, he needed that more than ever.

“The thirium pump,” Nines stated, his voice devoid of any emotion. He couldn’t betray how panicked he was feeling, how much power this small stupid man had over him in this moment. “You will place it and your weapon on the ground then put your hands on your head, slowly.”

“You don’t think you’re going to come out of this on top, do you?” Jeff wheezed, even while he did as he was told. “You’re emotions, your human body, both are compromising. They’re going to want an android over you. They always want androids over us.”

Nines didn’t care. He pulled out the cuffs, walking up to the man, careful. He was unarmed but Nines wasn’t stupid, he could imagine more than a dozen ways that Jeff would turn on him, try to get the upper hand, even now. Jeff didn’t do any of that. He just stood still, allowed Nines to manhandle him, cuff him and read him his rights in a far too fast manner. With that done he grabbed the thirium pump and made his way back up the stairs.

Gavin was lying in a pool of his own blood, eyes closed, the LED cycling between red and black. Nines dashed to his side, pulling his shirt up further and sliding the pump into his chest, turning it until it clicked. He was expecting Gavin’s eyes to snap open, for him to push himself up to a sitting position, to call him a dumbass, to act as if there had never been an issue. He was still just lying there, eyes closed, not moving, his LED slowly fading in and out from black to red, as if he was buffering.

Nines didn’t like emotions. They were messy and inconvenient and he always made a mess of them. When he allowed them to surface they took him over. He was shaking, as he grabbed Gavin, pulling him up and against his chest, one arm wrapped around the androids back, the other coming up to cradle his jaw. Two fingers pressed against his neck but there was no pulse to look for. There was a panic, a hard rush of pain, like a rock was lodged in his veins, traveling up from his gut, into his stomach. His eyes were burning. He wanted to touch and he was drowning, suffocating, under this. Gavin wasn’t waking up. He hadn’t been timing it. Had he been too late? He thought he’d been fast enough but Gavin may have been exaggerating the amount of time that he had.

“Come on.” Nine’s pulled Gavin closer, all but burying his face in Gavin’s neck. “Come one, come on! Shit, you better not leave me like this.”

There was no response, no motion. Nines pulled him closer. He could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. He wouldn’t let them fall. He wouldn’t let himself be so weak as to cry. That would mean that he cared and that wasn’t something that he could admit to himself yet.

He knew that he was holding Gavin, cradling him in a way that the android would despise him for, that there was a good chance that Gavin would never talk to him again after this, but for now he could do nothing but embrace him, run his fingers through the hair that hadn’t faded away to reveal the truth of what Gavin was. He was whispering to him, small little pleads, and he wasn’t even paying attention to what they were.

“I got it for you, I got it for you. You can’t die on me. I was, fuck. I was starting to trust you, to rely on you. I keep everyone out, you know I do, but you were finally worming your way in. If you die now what’s going to become of that hole you made in me?”

Another loop, black and red. Even with the pump in place Gavin had lost a lot of thirium and that was just as much of a concern. Nines, for once, didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know who to call. He kept running his hand along Gavin’s scalp as he choked on a sob.

“Wasn’t expected,” a weak sound, a sputtering cough, and Nines was pulling away, looking at the androids heavily lidded eyes and blue tinged skin. “wasn’t expecting you to wax poetic.”

“You bastard!” Nines laughed, a nervous giddiness growing in his chest, breaking the rock in his chest apart. A grin that he would always deny spread on his face as he saw Gavin, not well but alive, glaring at him.

“Ooo, I wasn’t expecting language. You got a pottymouth while I was gone?”

“I’m allowed, I thought you were going to die.”

Gavin’s features softened and his eyes moved, taking in their positions. His blue stained hand came up and gripped at Nines’ waist before he could let go, push Gavin away to pretend that he hadn’t been clinging to him. “I was. Good work.”