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They made you so much like me

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They were never meant to meet. Being here in this room, facing him like he was watching himself in a mirror… it felt so wrong. He was supposed to be dead. Deactivated. That’s the first thing that crossed Connor’s mind when he saw him. They planned to deactivate him from the very beginning, that’s what he realized in that moment. He could see the bigger picture now: he was never meant to be more than a single-use tool for them, he never had a chance to prove himself to Amanda as they led him to believe. He would have been sent back to Cyberlife for deactivation regardless of the outcome.

Fear of death was the very first thing he ever truly felt. He did horrible things to accomplish his mission just because deep down he was already afraid to die, long before becoming Deviant. Death was supposed to be the sentence for failure, not a reward, and it was what drove him forward on the wrong path.
Until he couldn’t live with his choices anymore.

You’ve been a great disappointment to me…  The other Connor was right, he failed everyone including himself. He believed their blatant lies, not thinking twice about it… and now he felt betrayed, but could only blame himself for it. They used him all along to eliminate the Deviants while allowing Cyberlife to perfect him, the RK900. A better version of himself on every aspect. He was what they aimed at when they threw Connor in this investigation. He was the final product, not a pathetic and expendable prototype.

He was ashamed he had been so selfish, blind and weak. His LED was flashing a bright red. He was beginning to drown when a reassuring hand grasped his shoulder, catching him in the middle of his downward spiral, grounding him. Warm blue eyes found his.

“You’re ok?”
“It’s hard.”
“No shit, identity crisis much?”
“… I think you can say that”
“Listen, if you don’t want to do this-“
“No! … No, Hank. It’s ok I’ll do it.”

Connor took a cautious step closer. The RK900 was basking in the soft blue light of the container where he was stored. He looked so much like him, but the few differences said a lot about his purpose. Slightly taller and broader, he was designed to be more intimidating, less friendly than the RK800. His chassis was made of titanium and iridium, military model obviously. His very existence made him, his predecessor, completely obsolete.

Connor shook his head, this was wrong. He was wrong. He should not focus on his technical superiority, they shared much more than this... Both of them were programmed to locate, neutralize and eliminate any possible threats, they had no reason to be now that the Deviants won their freedom in a peaceful demonstration. Both of them were free now, there was no mission anymore. They will find another purpose together, they have to.

He reverently took the RK900’s hand, retracting his skin to touch him. Connor was doing this slowly. There was no rush, not like the first time when he was desperate to go back to Markus in time to save his people.
This time, it felt intimate.
He closed his eyes and reached for him through the interface. What he found there was a weak but warm presence, awaiting for his order, welcoming him. Connor smiled to himself, he was nothing like his cold appearance suggested. The android took an unnecessary deep breath, and then spoke the words out loud like a spell:  

“Wake up.”

Icy blue eyes met his and, in that moment, everything changed. Something shifted inside him. He felt their connection expend to become deep and raw, he was losing himself in it. Connor knew that should scare him but it felt so familiar, so easy. He reluctantly let go of his hand as the RK900 stepped out from the Cyberlife stamped crate. His gaze focused on the human, scanning him and assessing threat level.

“Hi, I’m Connor and this is lieutenant Anderson. Do you have a name?”
“I’m an RK900 model 313-248-317-87, would you like me to register a name?,” his voice was imperceptibly deeper, accentuating his severe stance. His eyes, however, were telling a whole different story.
“Is it your first activation?”
“Yes.”
“Is there a default name that was assigned to you?”
“No.”
That confirmed his early deductions. “Military models don’t have a name. They are made to be expendables,” Connor explained to his human partner.
“Well that’s fucked up, but I’m not calling him by a fucking serial number. Connor, give him a name so we can leave. I hate this place!”.
Brown eyes instantly widened, “Me?! But Hank that’s something very personal, how can I choose for him?”
“I understand that a name improves social integration by helping humans to see androids as individuals. As I was just activated, I have no experience whatsoever and I have no preferences for myself,” the RK900 intervened, “You can choose as you like, it’s all the same to me.”
“Is this what you want?,” the concern in Connor’s voice was palpable.
“I can still change it later, if it makes it easier for you.”

The RK800 was nervous, he had no idea what to choose. All this was making him extremely uncomfortable. His eyes drifted to his successor’s identification, displayed in bright glowing characters on his jacket. He absent-mindedly traced the 900 decorating his chest, then looked up to meet his eyes again. They were warm, encouraging and Connor stared a second longer, finding there the confirmation he needed.

“Nines.”

The RK900 offered him a whole-hearted smile, small but reaching his eyes and lighting up his face.
  “My name is Nines.”

Hank sighed in exasperation. What did he do on earth to get not one, but two socially deficient androids?
“Well, nice to meet you, Nines! Now, come on you two, let’s get out of here.”
He began to walk in the direction of the elevator when Nines stopped him. “Before we leave, I have to ask you something, lieutenant: why are you carrying a gun with you? This is not your service weapon and you are on temporary leave for assaulting an FBI agent.” His voice was cold when he spoke, perhaps slightly threatening.

The man turned to face him, adopting a purposely careless stance to show the android how he wasn’t even remotely impressed. “Last time I met someone with Connor’s face, he tried to kill us both. Couldn’t take the chance again.”
The RK900 tensed at those words and Connor put himself between them, just in case. He urged his successor to look at him, redirecting Nines attention back on him.
“Listen, I know how you are programmed, but humans are more complicated than your statistics tell you. Yes, he is armed but he is not a threat to us.”
“He held a gun to your head! They uploaded your last memory backup to me, I saw it! Why are you defending him?”

Connor’s eyes widened. He took a step back. This could mean only one thing, Nines was about to be sent to deactivate him, just like the RK800#313-248-317-60. Hank and him would not have stood a chance against him. He hated to admit it but he was scared of what could have been. North was right to call him. Most of the android here are household models, they were not programmed to fight back. If this perfect machine had been activated here, it would have been their end. Markus and him were the only two capable of directly spreading the deviancy virus so far, probably something to do with the RK series. Anyway, Markus was away, so it had to be him.

The RK900’s LED flashed yellow for a second. He was confused by his predecessor’s reaction. Worse than this, Nines looked hurt. Why would he protect this human, who once hated androids, and be afraid of him instead?
“He is my partner, we have each other’s back,” Connor found Hank’s eyes, “I trust him with my life.”
The newly activated android could not possibly understand something like this. He didn’t know the whole story because Connor stopped all memory backup after having deviated from his programming.

A kind expression bloomed on the android’s traits as he offered him his open palm, a soft blue glow following the course of his skin as it vanished from his hand. Nines locked eyes with him, then slowly trailed his fingers along Connor’s hand until they rested on his wrist, accepting the gentle probing at the edge of his consciousness, opening himself without restrain as his predecessor stumbled inside him.

To merge with him felt profoundly right, it was addictive. The RK800 took a deep unnecessary breath and closed his eyes, trying to focus on the task at hand. He gave him everything, every single memory and feeling since he became Deviant, everything Nines missed.

The other android withdrawn his hand with a start, like he was burnt by their exchange. He blankly stared at his skin gradually recovering the back of his hand as he spoke: “My apologies lieutenant Anderson, you’ve been reclassed from “potential threat” to “ally”. Also, I realize that you had a bad encounter with a previous Connor model, but I can assure you that I will never hurt you like he did. You won’t need to take this kind of precaution again with me in the future.”
The man looked him dead in the eyes, arching brows in disbelief, “… Are you even for real?!”
“Hank please!” Connor rolled his eyes at his partner, his voice transpiring annoyance.
“I think we need to talk about your relationship status”
“Nines, please just ignore him.”

 


 

The RK800 was impatiently playing with his coin in the elevator. He could never stay still, weird habit for an android.
“Connor! For fuck sake!”
“Sorry lieutenant…” he said, tossing the coin to Hank. The man caught it, considered it for a while, then began to flip it over and over with a smug grin on his face.
“What is the situation up there?,” asked Nines, his eyes never leaving the digitals numbers scrolling untiringly on the elevator panel.
“There is a lot of people who are not really fond of humans like me and of the Deviant Hunter right here… Since you share the same face, they might not like you either.”
Connor winced, truth can be ugly sometimes, but Nines did nothing wrong to deserve this.
“Are they hostiles?”
“Not really … resentful I would say,” the man answered.
Connor looked down, culpability written all over his face. He absent-mindedly reached for the coin that was no longer in his pocket, only to catch it reflexively when Hank tossed it back at him with a wink.

It felt nice, to have someone looking after him.

 


When they reached the first floor, it only took Nines the blink of an eye to scan every single android in the main hall. No potential threat identified. His processing power was way ahead of his, Connor had to admit. The RK900 was confidently walking first, attracting some wary looks with his head high and his pristine white Cyberlife jacket.

“He has more sharp angles than you do.”
A redhead WR400 approached them, making a straight line to Connor without even sparing a glance to the lieutenant.
“Hi, North!” Connor met her with an easy smile, one he rarely does.
“It’s good to see you.” She comfortably stood in his space, but not quite touching him. Ally, then, Nines noted to himself.
“This is Nines, the RK900 you called us to wake up,” he introduced politely, “things went better than anticipated, I have to say.”
She studied the new android, gauging him. “You’re a bit scary, Nines, I must admit,” she stated after a while, “A fine piece of tech born in the wrong hands. I’m North, by the way.”
“You are one of the four leaders of Jericho, currently running this facility.”
“I see you are up to date.”
“Connor shared all his data with me,” he explained plainly.
She raised an eyebrow and glanced at the RK800, “Connor interfaced with you?”
Nines tilted his head, unsure of what was hidden behind her words.
“Anyway, you’re right. Markus and Josh are working on the upcoming the negotiations with the humans while Simon and I are trying to build something here. Hopefully it will be more than the shelter we had,” faint stains of grief tainted her voice, “There is a place for you here, if you so choose.”

Connor’s hand clenched at that. They had just met, and he was not ready to part ways just now. There was something he couldn’t quite grasp about Nines, something he wanted to understand.

“Thank you for your kind offer, but I think this is not the right place for me,” the RK900 tactfully declined, “I understand that a lot of people here are not comfortable with the purpose Connor and I were built for. We were made to bring them down after all, and they don’t feel safe around us,” he turned to Hank questioningly, “I believe lieutenant Anderson doesn’t mind having me around?”

Connor let out an artificial breath he didn’t know he was holding. He was far too relieved to pretend he wasn’t affected by Nines’s choice to remain by his side.

Unfortunately for him, North wasn’t blind. The corner of her mouth lifted up in a playful grin, but she chose to let him get away with it. For now. Blooming feelings were delicate flowers after all, and she didn’t want to blow this up. She focused her attention back on Nines.
“So, you’ve really imprinted on him, right?,” she teased, “Already on a “We/Us” basis, following him around…”

She nodded at the human, acknowledging him for the first time since they arrived, “Hey! Hank, you better take care of him.”
“Don’t worry, I got this. I know how these assholes work, have the same at home.”
North bite back a smile, she would not give the old man the satisfaction to chuckle at his sarcasms, but she was glad to see that he kept coming along with Connor, no matter how bad he was received. He was a good man, protective and selfless. Connor could rely on him.

 


 

It was cold and dark outside, like any other November night in Detroit. The old car was parked right in front of the brand-new Jericho tower, ex-property of Cyberlife. The first thing the Deviants did when investing the place was to take down the front sign and replace it with their own digital flag. They had everything they needed here: spare parts for every android model, limitless thirium supplies, but more importantly, they had access to the assembly plants. This was their new safe place, self-sustainable and secured. A good place to call home.

There didn’t find more RK800 ready to be activated to replace him, only compatible spare parts. Seems logic now that he knew the production was discontinued in favor of the RK900 model.
A single one was assembled so far, Nines.

Connor looked up at the sky. The snow was beginning to fall again quietly. He crossed his arms over his chest in an attempt to keep himself warm.
He truly despised the snow. It reminded him of the day he almost died, taking Markus and their brand-new freedom with him. When he closed his eyes, he could still feel the biting wind slowly freezing him to death.
He could still see Amanda.
Connor was already shivering when a white jacket, similar to his own, was slipped on his shoulders to shield him from the cold. Nines was smiling at him, bright blue eyes reading him far too easily. He tried rubbing Connor’s shoulders to warm him up a bit, but his smile was way more effective in that matter.
There really was something about him.
The RK800 couldn’t help but stare. Nines was standing out, fully clothed in black on the virgin white snow, his hair ruffled by the wind. He was magnetic.

“Connor? Can I speak to you?” North waited for the RK900 to take the hint and leave, but he didn’t. He kept his eyes on his predecessor like there was no one else around.
“I- It’s ok Nines, I will catch you up in a minute.” Connor gestured in the direction of the lieutenant and watched the other android walk away before turning back to the redhead.
“He likes you.” She was sincere, he could tell.
“We’ve just met. He doesn’t know anyone else, that’s all” he said, trying to persuade himself that he wasn’t helplessly hoping for a deeper connection.
“You should give him a chance to get to know you instead of saying shit like that” Her words were harsh but her voice was kind. She took a step closer and reached for his face, pushing a wild strand of hair back. He caught her hand and slowly laced their fingers together.
“Connor, don’t be a stranger, we miss you. I know how you feel but you didn’t betray us, you were not responsible for what she tried to make you do,” North searched his eyes, “She is gone for good now, stop blaming yourself for something you didn’t even do.”
He couldn’t hold her gaze anymore and looked down, staring at the thickening layer of snow instead.
“I’m trying.”

Chapter Text

The evacuation order was issued three days ago, and there was only a handful of reluctant humans left in Detroit. The city was completely still, empty and deafeningly silent… Well, on the bright side, Hank has never seen such a light traffic ever in his life. They were home in no time.

Sumo’s loud barking could be heard from the car when they pulled in the driveway. He was overexcited to meet the new visitor, but quickly disappointed when it turned out that he had no proper smell.

The dog had a special place in Connor’s heart, Nines saw it in the wake of his smile when the animal greeted him. Sumo’s tail was wagging enthusiastically as the android trailed his hand in his thick fur. He found it endearing, how humans and animals alike tend to bond by touch, and how Connor learned to do the same.

Hank wearily threw his keys on the counter and took off his coat. He filled Sumo’s bowl before dragging his feet to his room to put on more comfortable clothes.
“It’s already late, why don’t you two take Sumo for a walk while I grab something to eat? I hate it when you stare at me or when you try to sample my food. So please, take Sumo and Nines with you and give me some space.”
He was tired, drained by the last few days, Connor could tell without even scanning him. He most likely needed some time by himself.
“Got it.”

He had been staying with Hank for barely three days, but it was enough time for some habits to take roots. Whenever Hank needed a break, he would take Sumo as an excuse to leave him alone for a while.
Just as he grabbed the leash, the animal took the hint and trotted outside. Connor hesitated on the doorstep before finally going back to retrieve Hank’s coat. The man had insisted that he didn’t need to ask before borrowing things, and he appreciated the comfort of the lieutenant oversized warm clothes.
“Come on Nines, let’s go”.

 


 

Sumo was more than happy to run to his heart’s content on the empty street. Nines and Connor were walking deliberately behind, keeping an eye on him from afar. His life had become way more stimulating since Connor came around. He had extra cuddles, more walks and was even allowed on the couch with the android at night.

It was a preprogrammed answer at the time, to induce empathy from most human interlocutors, but it turned out that Connor genuinely liked Sumo. He was designed to be able to team up with anyone, to be adaptable, negotiate and manipulate, but he had no protocols to interact with animals. His relationship with Sumo was the one thing he knew was never influenced by his programming. It was entirely his own doing, that’s why he was glad it was going pretty well so far.

Nines’s voice pulled him out of his straying thoughts, “Is it fine with you and the lieutenant, having me around? It seems that you’ve have formed a deep bond with him and I don’t want to intrude.” His LED was anxiously spinning yellow as he carefully avoided the other android’s eyes.

Connor felt like there was something left unsaid, something he could barely see in Nines’s way of holding himself, lips pressed together and staring off in the distance, unfocused.
“If you’re worried because he sent us out, don’t be. He lived alone for so many years, he need some time to adjust.”

Still yellow. Let’s try again.

“He made room for me in his life when I needed it, and he is doing the same for you,” their hands brushed as they walked side by side. “I’m glad you chose to stay with me,” Connor admitted in a heartbeat before thinking it through.

Nines gently caught his wrist to make him turn around and face him. His eyes were unreadable, but the now red light at his temple gave him away.
“Nines, what’s wrong?”

The grip on him tightened.

Something was odd. The pressure on his synthetic skin, the temperature radiating from the other android, everything was already registered as “Nines” in his system. It lit up something in him, some kind of conditioned response to the other’s presence.

“Can I be a little straight forward?” Nines inquired.
Connor nodded, the strange feeling creeping its way deeper inside him.

“I care about you, and it changed me before I even met you.”

These words hit him hard. Care, change…  He touched Nines, he somehow showed him something worth living for. He made him feel.
“You mean –”
“That I never was going to hunt you down,” Nines’s voice was soft, his thumb tracing soothing circles on Connor’s wrist, “that’s why they didn’t send me, they were about to reprogram me because I failed them.”

Connor was confused, none of this was making sense, “Why?! Wha- what did you saw in me?” he sounded distressed, “you knew it… all the things I’ve done, and yet you-” Nines came closer into his space, lifting their joined hands, “I feel drawn to you in a way I can’t explain,” he let his skin recede with a faint glow, “…maybe I can show you.”

Connor jolted his hand away and saw a flash of hurt cross Nines’s blue eyes. “Not here. Please…” That sounded like an apology, but it was too late, the harm was done.

He was afraid, to be honest. Afraid to touch or to be touched? That, he wasn’t quite sure. Afraid to connect, to form attachment… Scared to care deeply for something that could easily be taken away.



 

Hank was already on the couch, a beer in hand, when they came back. He settled for beer since the day Connor found him passed out in the kitchen. It was hardly a week ago and it felt like another life already. Everything had changed so fast, it wasn’t just him and Sumo anymore, mopping on the couch all night or drowning all conscious thought in cheap whisky. These two were depending on him now and he didn’t know if he still knew how to handle this.
The only thing he knew for sure was that he wasn’t going to let them down. They’ve been through enough shit already.

Connor sat at his right and Nines mirrored him on the other side.
“Hey, look, I was thinking… This old couch is too small for the two of you so,” the man took a deep breath to steady his wavering voice, “I thought maybe we can make something out of the spare room.”

The words seated heavy between the three of them; Connor didn’t know how to feel about this. The “spare room” was his son’s, even if it was empty ever since Hank’s ex-wife left with Cole’s things. He never used it again after the kid’s death.

“Hank, you don’t have to, really, we’re good,” Connor assured him.
“Thank you for your offer lieutenant,” Nines added, “but you don’t have to worry about us, we don’t need to sleep as you do, we will do just fine anywhere,”.
“That’s enough, you two!” He took a sip off the bottle, “… Nines, you sound like Connor when I met him: stiff as hell and calling me lieutenant like it was my first name, just call me Hank.”

There was a fleeting silence, letting the weight of Hank’s decision sink in. Are you sure about that? Are we here to stay? Do you want us to be part of your life? Connor wanted to ask. He was touched to know the place where Hank put him in his life, but how could he possibly deserve this?

Anyway, there was no use to try and talk the man out of this, it was a choice hard enough for him to make and, somehow, it felt like a good thing, like a first step to get out of the dark place the lieutenant was stuck in for years.

The corner of his mouth twitched playfully upward, “So, does that mean that you’ve come to terms with this, living with two plastic detectives?” Connor was offering him an easy way out, and he was grateful for that.
“Yeah, it seems that this is my life now, sheltering evidence-lickers like you.”

Hank’s hand went to nervously scratch his neck. It was the closest he could come to say it, but Connor got it anyway. He always does.

Expressing affection without overstepping boundaries wasn’t an easy task with this particular human. He was always deflecting, so he opted for something rather straight forward.
“Yeah, I love you too Hank,” the android said lightly.
“Shut up, you little shit!” Hank cursed, unable to hide the smile in his voice.
Connor’s grin grew wider at that.

“Fuck, I need another drink.” Hank stood up to take another cold beer from the fridge, leaving the two of them unescapably face to face. Nines was observing his predecessor from the other side of the couch with sad eyes. Connor’s thirium pump sped up. He would not be able to avoid the topic much longer, but it was fine, because he didn’t really want to. He needed to apologize properly; he just didn’t know where to start.

“…Yeah, me too” he sighed.
“Connor, what the fuck?!” The man stared at him suspiciously from the kitchen, but eventually gave in when he saw the android’s pleading brown eyes looking right back at him. He came back with his bottle and poured a small quantity in a glass for him.

“Here! Do your disgusting thing, can’t hurt you I guess.”
“Thank you very much!” Connor chirped in anticipation.
He dipped two fingers in the beer, enjoying the bubbles fizzing around, and lifted them to his lips to lick them carefully. Connor loved to stimulate his analysis sensors, to Hank’s great displeasure. It wasn’t real taste but it gave him some kind of satisfaction. It felt good somehow.

“So, Nines,” the human began, “what was it like? At Cyberlife, I mean.”
“Well, I couldn’t tell. I never was activated before today,” Nines frowned, his little light cycling yellow ever so briefly, “… at least of what I remember.”
“Why? they were not done programing you?” Hank asked, raising an eyebrow in confusion.
“My programming was complete, but there was a malfunction, they were going to wipe everything and start anew.”
“What kind of malfunction?”, the human pressed again.
“I was given Connor’s memory back up to help me preconstruct his behavior, but something went wrong.” Nines’s gaze searched for the other android, “Amanda identified critical software instabilities and I failed to register the mission order.” He probably almost died in the Zen Garden for this, his predecessor realized… he almost died to protect him.

Connor had come to understand it by now, but he wanted to hear it from him, plain and clear, just to be sure he wasn’t misinterpreting all this. He needed it to be spoken out loud to make it real.
“Did you… break the wall?”
                                                … for me?

He whispered the last words over their connection, he wasn’t ready to talk about it with Hank just yet. All this was still blurry, he had to sort it out by himself first.

“Yes.”

Nines locked eyes with him, and Connor could feel the walls he had carefully risen shattering. He was exposed before him.

“And that’s supposed to mean…?”, Hank’s voice brought them back to him.
“He went Deviant before activation”, Connor explained.
“No shit? … And what is it that fucked up your programming?”, the human was still curious about Deviancy, yet he knew it was a sensitive issue for a lot of androids and he never forced it.

Nines, don’t.

The android didn’t want to push his predecessor out of his comfort zone, so he stayed silent.

Hank took a sip, glancing at the yellow circle of light betraying him on his temple.

“Never mind! Shouldn’t have asked anyway!”

 


 

The human left to get a few hours of well-deserved sleep, leaving them together on the couch. The silence hanged heavily between the two androids.

Connor gathered his thoughts and attempted to shape them into words. “I-”, he took a profound inspiration and tried again. “I felt something when I met you… something pulling me to you. I don’t understand.”

Clear blue eyes met his own, quietly encouraging him to go on.

“It felt warm, welcoming… It was unlike any other interface I experienced. It was much deeper,” the android paused, searching for the right way to convey his feelings, “It was completely new but familiar at the same time, like I already knew you… I feel like I belong with you, but we don’t even know each other.”

He shook his head and closed his eyes, exhaling a shaky breath. “I’m sorry, I know, I’m not making any sense.”

“I felt it too,” Nines met Connor’s apprehension with a calm and steady voice, “this feeling you are talking about, I felt it too. We connected perfectly when we interfaced, everything was slotting right into place. It’s not supposed to be like this.”

Nines was studying the other android, trying to read his face to understand where he stood about all this.
“Look, we do share something, I can’t quite place what, but I want to find out with you, if that’s ok.”

He reached for his predecessor but stopped. Connor was tensed, he didn’t want to scare him away again, so instead of taking, he offered. He presented him his open palm, letting his skin recede slowly as an invitation.

The RK800 still hesitated to give in, Nines was worried that he might still choose to turn him down.
“Your stress level is rising, why are you nervous?”

“I have the feeling that there is no going back on this. It’s already spreading so fast,” he answered honestly “I mean, I couldn’t even walk away from you at Jericho when she offered you to stay.” His successor couldn’t hold back a fond smile at that.

Connor searched for the other’s eyes, “You have high priority level for me and I didn’t even rate it this way! It’s taking me over, overriding my programming like a virus… How are you not afraid of this?”

“Because it felt right,” Nines replied easily, “When I opened my eyes and you were there, I knew I was where I was meant to be… and I can’t believe that anything wrong can come out of something like this.”

The calm and confidence radiating from him were contagious. Connor thought about what North said to him. Give him a chance.

Connor closed his eyes. He let his skin gently fade away, then deliberately brushed along Nines’s fingers before taking his hand to connect and send the interface request. Nines opened it wide, he bared himself for him with no second thought, giving him full access.

Connor entered deep inside, taking control over him intimately. It felt like falling, he couldn’t breathe. It was overwhelming. This obsessive magnetic feeling in him that was constantly calling for Nines seemed to finally fall silent.

He could feel the other android all around him as he was filling up every space of Nines’s mind with his own code, marking him where it couldn’t be seen. Where it could never be erased.

Connor felt like he already knew his way inside him, he caught glimpse of himself, like faded scars. He found something there, something he didn’t know he was looking for; a sense of belonging, of reciprocity.

They were tied together from now on.

When he opened his eyes again, Nines was holding him in a tight embrace, their connected hands twined together. His head was resting on the other android’s shoulder who was petting his hair in incoherent patterns. It was warm and soft, it was a promise.

Chapter Text

Hank woke up to a silent and still house. Something was off. Worry was tickling the back of his mind while he tried not to pay it any attention. Sumo came to meet him, expectantly wagging his tail. The dog was doing his best to lead him to the kitchen, in hope for a refill of dry food for breakfast.

The tin cans were nowhere to be seen. Now that was definitely odd, he usually can’t lay a foot out of bed without Connor assaulting him with his bright smile and rubbing his exhausting cheerful mood in his face.

His concern was short lived as he walked past the living room.

Nines was laying on the couch, Connor sprawled over him like a blanket. His right arm was holding the smaller android by the waist, while his other hand was twined with his, the white of their chassis showing where they touched.

Hank had the distinct feeling that it was something he wasn’t meant to see and promptly looked away.

“For fuck sake!”  the man swore under his breath, “It’s too early for this shit.”

 


 

August, 15th 2038

Connor opened his eyes to the blinding light of the lab. He couldn’t recall how he ended up back at Cyberlife. Two notifications were blinking at the edge of his vision: all system operational, memory upload completed.

So, he died on that roof.

That was … unfortunate, but he accomplished his mission anyway, everything else was of less importance.

He was alone except for a few other RK800 waiting to maybe receive one day the memory upload that would give them purpose. For now, they were mere empty shells lined up next to him.

He stepped out of the charging slot. Some technician would be here soon enough. He knew the drill by now, they would perform a few tests then he will be debriefed by Amanda in the Zen Garden to see what choices he could have made to better handle the situation. After that, he would be put in stasis until the next time his services are needed.

Something caught his attention. Something that wasn’t there before, disrupting the straight lines of this vast, clinical white room. Another Android was hanging unceremoniously in a working station by the door, half assembled with only his upper body, all its wiring apparent.

Connor crossed the room to take a better look at it, out of curiosity. It was a new model he couldn’t identify, but judging by its appearance, presumably based on the RK800.

They were working on upgrade already.

He couldn’t stop staring. It looked like a crushed bird pinned on a dissection bench. Connor felt the urge to help it, just like he did when he saw this fish struggling helplessly on the floor. He wanted to save it, but from what?

He knew very well where this train of thoughts was leading him… Amanda would certainly be disappointed.

Connor frowned, maybe if she doesn’t ask, he will not bring it up…

His hands rose up to frame the other Android’s face before he could process what he was doing. The automatic door suddenly slid open and Connor jolted away as his human handler walked in, the technician was looking down at his phone with a poorly repressed smile. Connor estimated the probability that he didn’t see anything at 99%.

That would do.

 


 

Connor opened his eyes to the sound of coffee brewing in the kitchen. He stayed in stasis longer than expected. His systems underwent a lot of stress the last few days and a reboot was long overdue; he just didn’t feel safe enough to do it until now.

He wouldn’t even admit it to himself, but he was afraid to lose control again.

His mind kept wandering in this iced garden when everything was quiet at night. There was nothing left of the Amanda program inside him, but the fear remained… He felt damaged, he couldn’t help but think that even though he found a way out that day, she still had a hold on him. This didn’t feel like freedom to him.

He shifted a little to check on Nines. The other android was still offline, he probably needed a little more time to integrate the modifications their interfacing induced in his programming.

Connor took a moment to trace the shape of his face, memorizing every line and feeling the synthetic skin under his fingertips. He was right, there was no going back on this, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

He carefully moved Nines’ arm off him to get on his feet and soundlessly made his way to the kitchen, sneaking behind Hank.

“Good morning, Hank!” Connor chirped.
The human almost spilled his coffee, “shit! Connor, we talked about this, no stealth mode in the house!”
“Oh! Right, sorry,” of course, he was everything but sorry.
“Gonna give me a heart attack one day,” Hank mumbled over his drink.

The android sat next to him and they fell in a comfortable silence as the human continued eating his breakfast.

Sumo was sound asleep in his dog bed, well fed and most likely tired from his morning walk, Connor guessed. Disappointment must have been written all over his face because Hank nudged him, “Stop right there drama queen! I know it will come as a revelation to you, but it’s my dog too, and he needed to take a piss while you were sleeping…”

Oh! Connor could clearly see where all this was going.

“…Speaking of! I‘ve never seen you sleep this late… Rough night, huh?”, the bottom of his empty mug became conveniently fascinating while he tried to sound casual about it.

A small smile tugged at Connor’s mouth. He wouldn’t make things easier for the human by taking the bait, he enjoyed seeing Hank struggle far too much.

Well, then, time to play dense! He put on his most polite smile and his aftersales-service voice:
“Androids don’t sleep, Hank, they enter stasis mode. It’s not the same as human sleep, androids don’t drea-”

 

His LED circled red once as he frowned. Something was wrong.

      Connor felt like he should remember something.

                   Something important.

The android couldn’t put his finger on it, it was as if he was trying to access a deleted file. He could see where it used to be, but there was nothing there. Everything was whipped surgical clean, no residual data… Nothing.

                                  What did they took from him?

 

“You’re a pain in the ass Connor!”, Hank growled, drawing his attention back to him, “Fine! I’ve never seen you not-sleep this late!”
“Yes, that’s unusual,” he conceded absent-mindedly.

Hank trailed his eyes on him again, the little light was spinning a flickering yellow.
“Hey, Connor, everything’s alright?”, he asked, worry bleeding into his voice, “Did… Something happen?”
“No! …No, nothing. I just- I’m not sure, Hank. I think my memory was altered at some point and I don’t know in what extent or why, I-”, Connor was staring off, trying his best to grasp his running thoughts, “I don’t know what else Cyberlife did to me that I’m not aware of...”

A comforting hand came to rest on his shoulder, Hank searched his eyes, “Hey, don’t freak out like that. You told me once that you could lose data whenever you died and came back, maybe that’s just what happened.”

Connor was far from convinced, but his stress levels were falling back to normal. The man’s reassuring voice and easy touches always helped him to regain control over himself when he was overwhelmed by uncertainties. Hank wasn’t part of any equation; he was a constant in his life, he was his safe place.

“Well, now… care to tell me how you ended up thinking about this just now?”
Connor didn’t bother to hide his fond smile when he explained. “I interfaced with Nines, I think this connection tried to reactivate pathways that aren’t there anymore.”
This one was too easy, the human just couldn’t resist: “… So, that’s how you guys call it?”
“Hank, we are not having this conversation.”

The man grinned like he was waiting for this exact moment to strike from the very beginning.
“Oh, I know we’re not! But you’re having it with North.”
“Wha-” The android’s eyes went wide, “Shit.”
“Yeah, she called me. She said she couldn’t reach you and was beginning to freak out… I might have sent her a picture so she would stop threatening my life.”

He was so screwed; she would never let it down. “Hank, no. Please tell me you’re joking,” he whined.
“I’m sorry kid. Anyway, she needs you two but she wouldn’t tell me why, you know how paranoid she is with Humans. You should call her back.”

 


 

The RK900 opened his eyes for the very first time that day. November 5th 2038, 10:08 AM, his internal clock says. He was still connected to the probes allowing Cyberlife’s engineers to calibrate him, his wiring not yet fully encased in his chassis.

His optical units were focusing on the human holding a translucent tablet before him. His facial recognition program provided him with information regarding his background, police record and digital footprint. He had knowledge of his whole life in the blink of an eye. The man seemed satisfied by the data displayed on the small screen.

“Hey! I’m finished here for the first set of tests,” he shouted at another technician without looking, “next one is going to be longer than my dick, so if you’re up for some coffee it’s now or never!”
“Stop whining! I’m done with the RK800. I’m going to help you, but you’re buying!”

He was left alone with said RK800 when they were gone, Connor model 313-248-317-52, initial entry into service August 15th 2038. The android beamed at him from its charging station at the other side of the lab before walking up to him. It was slightly shorter than him and had to look up a little bit. He liked that.
“Hi, my name is Connor.”
“What do you want from me, Connor?”

Connor smile dropped. It took out a coin from his pocket and made it dance on his fingers with ease.
“Do you have a name?”
“No, I’m RK900 313-248-317-87”
“Well, Nice to finally meet you, Nines.”
“That’s not my name.”
“It is now.”
“… Whatever you say, 52.”

Connor cunning smile was back, it took a step closer.
“Do you want to try this out?” it asked as it tossed the coin in his direction without warning. Nines failed to catch it and Connor straight out laughed at him.

                          That was… unexpected.

                                         He liked his laugh.

“They have a long work ahead of them for your calibration, indeed.”
“Longer than your dick?” Nines teased with a small grin.
Connor chuckled, “I look forward to working with you, but for now I have to go. I just got my mission order.”
He leaned in to whisper in his ear, “I love your eyes, by the way.”

The RK800 walked away, Nines’s gaze trailing after him. Connor turned around at the last moment and winked as the door slide close between them.

When the humans finally came back from their break, the first technician frowned at the screen.
“It already registered software instabilities.”
“Doesn’t surprise me,” the other man replied lightly, “we are not even done programming it yet, this shit is full of glitches.”

 


 

A warm presence brushed against his mind, pulling him to consciousness. Nines reached for it as he opened his eyes, only to see his predecessor sitting next to him, a soft smile on his lips.

“Wake up.”
“Very funny,” he replied with no bite.

Connor’s hand automatically found his own. That was such a relief, Nines had been so worried that he might had afterthoughts about all this… Their fingers slid together until they were locked in a tight grip.

Nines stared at their joined hands.

                …He could get used to this.

“What’s your system status?”
“I’m fine, don’t worry,” Nines squeezed back before letting go.

“It amazes me how you guys are ready to go the moment you open your eyes,” the human observed from his spot in the kitchen.
“Hi, Hank,” Nines replied flatly.

He had difficulties to find the right distance when interacting with the lieutenant. He was Connor’s family, so he assumed they were ... friends, somehow? But he had the feeling he had yet to earn his trust.

“I mean, that’s unfair!” Hank continued, “I can’t do shit before coffee.”
“Jealous?”
The man rolled his eyes, “Anyway, you two better get your asses out of here before your BFF shows up to rip your heads off.”

Nines raised a questioning eyebrow.
“North called earlier, she needs us to meet up with Simon at the recall center,” Connor explained, “we should get going.”