Chapter 1: A Fresh Face
It was only Tuesday and Gavin was beyond irritated. And, to add to the crappiest week ever, the coffee machine in the break room was broken.
"Gav, you should really -"
"I should what, Tina? Huh? What should I do? The damn coffee machine isn't working and I need caffeine. This is bullshit," Gavin snorted, leaning his hip against the small table in the break room with a crushed, empty styrofoam cup in his left hand. He had already tried messing with the machine (of course it had to be a machine that let him down, the irony) and he wasn't having any luck. Googling 'how to fix a coffee machine' solved nothing. Technology was horrible.
Gavin had been talking to Tina for a while about how much of a drag his last criminal case had been. He ranted about androids, made a few relevant jokes about his two pets back at home, and he laughed so hard that if he had coffee it would've went out of his nose. After about ten or fifteen minutes of slacking off, which was out of the norm for him, Gavin made his way back to his desk. He pointedly ignored the looks he received from Hank and Connor.
He proceeded to make a spiteful expression when the walked past them. With a heavy sigh, he plopped down at his desk and kicked his feet up, folding his arms behind his head. His green-grey gaze rested on the computer monitor. Seven new emails. He bet if he refreshed the page it would double. No one ever told him how many times he would have to virtually take care of business and file the most boring reports in the world. It was mundane. Impossibly mundane.
For example, he had to do DWI reports, burglary reports, put evidence together for courts, work early hours in the morning (which he only survived by drinking coffee, so it was hopeless for him to remain awake now), sit in court on his off days, surveillance — don’t even get him started on surveillance. Often he wasn't even out in the field getting action, just trapped behind an office desk waiting around. The job wasn't what he thought it would be, but Gavin was still passionate about it. He had to be, because passion was what got people ahead. Tina was passionate.
He could remember when they met and became friends in high school. Tina was a great judge of character, part of the reason why she joined the police field, and she knew that the tough facade that Gavin had was just an act. She could tolerate him when most people couldn't. He respected that about her more than she could ever know. Plus, she happened to like his cooking. Gavin was an avid Italian. He was born in the United States, but he knew how to make everything. He was traditional. Lasagne, Risotto, Spaghetti Carbonara, Arancini... that was just to name a few.
His mother was born in Italy, and he got most of his traits from her. Sofia Moretti - her family name was code for dark hair. His father, on the other hand, was from Detroit. They must have met when she came to America for career opportunities. Gavin didn't know that much about his father because he left when he was five years old, so he only really had his mother in his life. That was okay, though, because she taught him everything. Authentic cooking, their language, and the best alcohol to drink, because Italians could really hold their liquor. His mother was stubborn, just like him, so they got along quite well.
He still visited her all the time. He drove over to her small apartment on the cleaner side of town and he would bring her velvety, purple crocus flowers. She loved them. Then they would usually talk while they made a meal together, and she would ask about his nonexistent love life.
Gavin's hate for androids stemmed from the fact that his mother couldn't ever land a stable job. Androids replaced her because they weren't paid for their labor, they didn't need to rest, and they didn't need employee benefits. These were the reasons that he was so protective about his own job, and his constant desire to get ahead and step on toes. It was the way he had to be if he wanted to have success. However, success came at a price. Gavin stayed after hours, battled insomnia, and was an asshole to just about everyone.
His pets could tolerate him, though. Gavin had two of them. An orange tabby cat named Cinna, like cinnamon, and a german shepherd dog named Bruno. Yes, Bruno. He was the most stereotypical cop in the world and he embraced it. Cops ate donuts, sure, but it was really only about the coffee for him. Surprisingly, even with the broken coffee machine, the department was bustling with activity. He would never understand how people could wake up so early. Everyone seemed to be avoiding him lately. It was probably because of how tense and brazen he was with all the freed androids walking around the city. While he seemed to be on good(ish) terms with them now, he still thought that they were out to get his job and that they were creepy as hell.
"Gav, Fowler wants to see you in his office. Don't ask me why," Tina commented as she walked past his desk, an amused expression on her face when Gavin groaned aloud. Of course Fowler wanted to drag his tired ass into his office for a one-on-one at this hour.
He stood up from his work space two minutes after he was told to go. Yes, Gavin loved to make people wait on him. He shuffled up to the office and cleared his throat briefly before he entered, trying to mentally prepare himself. Though, as he pushed open the door to Fowler's office, he quickly realized that nothing could have prepared him for this.
"Reed," Fowler greeted from his rolling chair. Beside his desk there stood a Connor duplicate, its hands clasped behind its back. Immediately Gavin wanted to turn around and high tail it out of there. He could handle one Connor, but two? He slowly sat down across from his boss and glared holes into the thing's cold, crystal blue eyes. "Your attitude's gotten to a point where no one in this godforsaken department wants to work with you. We found another next-level RK model android in Cyberlife's basement facility for us to have. Cases have been piling up. RK900 shouldn't be too much trouble."
Gavin chuckled dismissively, already starting to break into a nervous sweat. "What?"
"He's your new partner."
"I'm not working with a fucking robot," Gavin said slowly, his voice bordering on hysterical. He got out of the chair and started to head for the door, because there was no way this was happening to him today. Not when the coffee machine was broken. He could handle seeing androids, but not communicating with them. Things were still tense between him and Connor, though the RK800 was really friendly toward him.
Fowler's authoritative tone cut through him before he could leave the office. "No grievances, Reed. You're working together. I don't want to hear it."
Gavin turned around to glare at the android. The thing looked just like Connor, but also entirely different. The demeanor was the main oddity. "Cap, why's it looking at me like that?"
There was a heavy sigh. Fowler shook his head and somehow found the patience to reply. "You'll have three chances to get along. If you can't, then there will be consequences."
"Why are you doing this to me? Look at this thing!" Gavin cried, making a wild gesture with his hands at the tall, stoic android standing in front of him. "It's - c'mon, seriously? Is this a joke?" He asked, another breathless chuckle escaping his lips. "This has to be a fucking joke."
"I don't make jokes. RK900, will you escort your partner to the bull pen?"
RK900 blinked once, the LED on his temple flashing blue in three short intervals. "Certainly, Captain. Detective Reed, follow me." He swiftly passed Gavin, his legs making long, confident strides across the tile. Even his walk differed from Connor's. His jacket was white and black, and the collar covered the majority of his neck. And, of course, he was more buff, like a brick wall.
Seeing that there was no other option, Gavin swallowed his pride and left the office. He went to the bull pen and helplessly watched as the android made himself at home on the other unoccupied side of Gavin's desk. The last person who had stayed there was Officer Nancy. She had slept for her entire shift and never filed any of her reports on time, so she was fired. Gavin could still remember the obnoxious sound of her snores. Now the desk was being occupied by Connor's brother. "Fowler said that they found you in the basement?" He asked, trying to start up a conversation. No, Gavin wasn't being talkative or trying to be friends with him, he was figuring out some information. The detective in him was curious.
"Yes. I was unactivated for a month after the Revolution," RK900 answered, his voice even. "Lieutenant Anderson and my sibling found my body in the basement during their investigation of stolen bio components. They were scheduled to view the inventory storage -"
"And instead we found Nines," Connor interrupted, standing by his twin with a delighted smile painted on his face.
Gavin stared at the two of them and their obvious differences. Connor was a tad bit shorter than his duplicate and he had kind brown eyes. Meanwhile, the newer android was expressionless, staring at Gavin, and kind of hot. He quickly dropped that thought from his mind and blamed it on his current caffeine withdrawals. Gavin was getting the shakes in his hands. "Nines?" He wondered, his eyebrows drawing together. "You named it after a fucking number? Why the hell would you do that?"
Connor's smile became more broad and he glanced up at his brother. "Actually, Nines responded quite positively to his first given name. It will also help others make an accurate distinction between the two of us."
Gavin snorted. "Yeah, whatever. I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference."
"Gav, who is that?" Tina asked as she approached the trio, arching an eyebrow as she stared up at the Other Connor. That was what Gavin was referring to him now in his head: Other Connor.
With a loud and annoyed sigh, Gavin shot the two androids standing in front of him a dirty look. "It's Other Connor. They apparently found it at Cyberlife and now its my new police partner. Whom of which I don't need, by the way." Gavin seemed pained just talking about it. He plopped down in his chair and started replying to his emails, which were now tripled. He should have taken care of them earlier.
"Hello. My name is Nines. Detective Reed incorrectly introduced me," the RK900 explained patiently, but also with a hint of sass in his voice. It caused Gavin to look up from his computer monitor with a small amount of shock. Nines held out his hand for her to shake, saying, "I am currently sterile."
"I'm Tina. I hope you give Gavin a lot of trouble." Tina laughed and shook his hand, peering down at her friend. "He seems nice, Gavin. He has blue eyes and he's tall," she teased in a sing-song voice, making Gavin tense up and blush cherry red. "And probably really smart." She knew about his tastes, and mentioning the fact that Nines ticked off a few boxes for his ideal date was enough to make him nudge her hard. Tina got the hint and backed off, though she was still grinning.
"Serves you right, Reed," Chris chimed in from his side of the bull pen, "for being so cruel to Connor. Now you're going to have to learn to work with someone different than you. Maybe you'll start to like androids."
Nines turned toward Connor with confusion, his LED flashing yellow as he processed what Chris said. "Detective Reed has been cruel to you?"
Oh shit, Gavin thought, looking between the two of them.
"No, he hasn't," Connor replied, shocking everyone who was listening. "His personality is simply unfortunate, and he has an unreasonable hatred for androids. I'm sure that he'll learn to be more respectful now that he has you as his partner. You're more tolerant that I am."
"Prick," Gavin huffed.
Nines hummed thoughtfully. "Regardless, I will not allow his callous behavior to surface as often."
"The fuck did you just say?" Gavin asked, squinting up at him. "I'm not callous. Who even uses that word? Don't tell me you're going to be like a walking dictionary around here. And I'll behave however the hell I want to. If you have a problem with that, then you can shove a -"
Connor intervened. "If you're suggesting a fight, then Nines will beat you. There is an eighty-seven percent probability."
"It is a ninety percent probability," Nines answered definitely, staring at Gavin so hollowly that it caused the human to pause for a second.
Gavin swallowed and lamely told Nines, "Fuck off, plastic. I could beat you in a heart beat."
"Be careful, Detective. He's a military android," Connor warned, looking between the pair with worried brown eyes. He didn't want any fights to happen, but he suspected that there was going to be a lot of tension in the department for a while. Connor obviously wasn't on board with Fowler's decision to place his brother with Gavin, but at least Nines had a job and a purpose now.
Hank left the break room and noticed the group all talking to one another. He was carrying a cup of coffee and appeared to be bored until he heard the commotion between Gavin and Nines. "What's going on over here?"
"The real question is where you got that fucking cup of coffee, Anderson, because I know for a fact that you didn't drive all the way to Starbucks in your shitty car filled with empty beer cans," Gavin snarled, shooting up from his desk to point an accusing finger at the older man.
"I fixed the machine earlier," Hank said, choosing not to react to Gavin's commentary. He sipped his coffee and walked away from the scene, not wanting to get too involved with drama. He had enough of that to last him a life time. "C'mon, Connor. Let's go over some of the details from our last case. I have a lead."
Tina left soon after Hank and Connor, so Nines was now alone with Gavin. He silently worked and glared at the RK900 every now and then for emphasis of how displeased he was with his presence. Nines didn't seem to care, which infuriated Gavin two times as much. He left his desk to grab a cup of coffee from the machine that Hank had fixed, cursing under his breath all the while.
"Back already, Detective?" Nines mused blankly, not looking up from his own computer as Gavin returned. "I was fully expecting a twenty minute absence."
Gavin rolled his eyes so hard it hurt. "Yeah, well, humans need a break, stronzo. You wouldn't know anything about breaks, though, huh?"
"I sometimes require a break, as I can potentially overheat with software updates and -"
"I didn't ask you. Do you have a case, or am I going to have to do all the digging around here?"
Nines patiently stared at Gavin over the top of his computer monitor and he tilted his head to the side. "I was waiting for you to ask me that. I have five separate cases. Would you prefer to choose?"
"What are they? List them out," Gavin muttered, taking a sip from his steaming coffee and feeling a familiar burn on his tongue. He did it again, not minding the way it stung. He cared more about drinking the beverage than losing a few taste buds. "All five of them. Then I'll pick, since I'm in control of the investigation."
Ignoring Gavin's last sentence, Nines began to list the cases in a calculated manner. "Four homicides and one case of severe theft. Shall I send you the details, or - "
"Yeah, send 'em over. I'm leaning toward the homicides. Those are always fun to figure out." Gavin kicked his legs up onto his desk again and protested whenever Nines effortlessly shoved his ankles off, his feet slamming onto the tile. He parted his lips with disbelief. "What the hell was that for, you stupid microwave?"
Nines' LED flamed with red and he lowered his tone. "Do not interrupt me again, Detective Reed. Your calcaneus should politely remain on the floor, not in my personal space," he added, and then he was standing. "We will be taking your vehicle to the crime scene."
Before Gavin could say anything more or even begin to protest, the android was already halfway to the exit. Now his fate was sealed and he was doomed to work with this impossible robot.
Chapter 2: Cobalt Homicide
Detective Reed and Nines head to their first crime scene together and obtain a lead. Meanwhile, their coworkers at the precinct are conspiring about the nature of Gavin’s recent partnership with RK900.
The car ride to the crime scene was boring.
Nines sat in the passenger seat, grimacing every time Gavin didn’t follow the traffic laws or he sped through a red light. It was really satisfactory to watch from his peripherals. From then on, Gavin was breaking the speed limit and doing whatever he possibly could to mess with it. That was what he did best, after all: getting on people’s nerves.
“The perks of being the law,” Gavin commented, his lips curling into a proud smirk. It wasn’t often that he took advantage of his career, but when he did it helped. They were going to their first homicide together to take care of business and this was how he was choosing to act - not childish. Gavin didn’t like that word. He preferred spirited.
“You should be more careful. I am easily expendable and easily replaced, unlike you,” Nines said, his voice tight as he dug his fingers into the arm rests of the car. He wasn’t smiling, and he didn’t think that Gavin was being funny.
“Souls don’t die,” Gavin mused in a ghostly voice. He was only quoting The Iron Giant because he felt like it, and because the giant bot from the movie reminded him of this equally massive one sitting next to him. Why would anyone make an android this large? Connor mentioned that Nines was a military android, so Gavin guessed Nines needed to be strong enough to take a beating if he was in combat.
Nines looked at him like he had just grown two heads. “Detective Reed, you appear unstable,” he informed him exhaustively. “Please pull the vehicle over and allow me to take the wheel.”
“Fuck you,” Gavin laughed, “I’m perfectly stable.”
“Turn right in two-hundred feet.”
“I am not a voice service speaker.”
Gavin rolled his eyes and put on his right blinker. Tick, tick, tick, tick. “Yeah, whatever. What is that thing to you, anyway? Are you guys cousins or something?” He wondered, honestly interested in the answer. He turned and pulled into a neighborhood.
The android gritted his teeth. “Distant cousins.”
“What about the Roomba?” Gavin didn’t wait for him to answer, and instead commented on their location in relation to the crime committed. “This place is way too nice for a murder. Look at those perfectly trimmed shrubs and all the green lawns. I bet they even have a curfew here.”
The engine rumbled off once Gavin was parked in a pristine, pale driveway. Neon yellow police tape was barricading the front door in a giant X. Forensics were already there taking photographs and looking around. Gavin hated when they were there because they just always had to touch everything first. How unfair. He grunted and climbed out of the car, walking briskly to the front door and ducking down to avoid the tape. Gavin didn’t wait for Nines. Why would he? There was a job to be done here.
“Detective, glad you could make it,” a forensic commented, handing him a pair of black gloves. “The body is upstairs. Take a look around.”
Gavin pulled the annoying gloves on as he ascended the staircase. He followed a trail of red, bloody carpet stains toward an open bedroom door. A stiff figure was on the floor, slumping against a dresser at an odd angle. From what Gavin deduced, the man’s neck was broken. He approached him and was about to crouch down when he heard the floor creak.
“Need I remind you that we are partners,” Nines said calmly by his ear. Gavin flinched outright, though he would never admit to doing it. What a jackass, sneaking up on him like that in a murder house.
“I got it. I don’t need a reminder. Could you just do your ‘tasting the evidence’ thing and actually make yourself useful ?” He inquired, glaring up at Nines and huffing. The RK900 was almost worse than Connor. Gavin cursed when he heard the android walk away and he got to work, checking out the small injuries on the body. The corpse’s eyes were still open because he suffered from a sudden death. It was always creepier when the eyes were open.
He tilted the man’s head back and examined his bruised jugular. It appeared that he was first strangled, and then the neck was broken. Gavin had an inkling that the attacker had never killed anyone before because they failed the first time.
“I believe that our victim was murdered by a AP400, a home assistance android,” Nines piped from the other side of the room. While the thirium of the AP400 had evaporated a few hours after being exposed to air, there was residue that Nines could track because he was equipped to do so. He strode over to his partner and looked down at the body.
Gavin scanned over the rest of the body for anything he could’ve missed. “What makes you so sure that an AP400 did this?”
“There were traces of her blue blood left behind, and I found a pen matching the victim’s finger prints. Based on this, I constructed that our victim was strangled, stabbed the AP400 in defense with the pen, and then the AP400 broke the victim’s neck in a panic,” Nines concluded. “Unfortunately, deviant androids have defective trackers. We will have to find this android ourselves. AP400 models are not meant for travel, so we should be able to locate her quickly.” Nines used an evidence bag to grab the pen, just in case they needed it later.
“Great. Now we have to waste our time tracking down a murderous android,” Gavin muttered, taking off his black gloves and tossing them onto the floor. He didn’t care; forensics could pick them up. What had the world come to? He stood up and left the room because the dead body was starting to make him sick. It didn’t matter how many times he had been in the same room with a rotting corpse; they always smelled terrible and gave him nightmares. Gavin sometimes would have bad dreams about the corpses grabbing him while he checked their bodies, asking something along the lines of ‘why didn’t you save me’.
While they hadn’t entered the scene together, they at least left together. Gavin was soaking in all of the information and evidence that they had gathered as he drove them back to the police department. “You know what we need? Jams.”
“Yeah. Jams. Music. Same thing, depending on the song.”
“No,” Nines replied, looking out the window. “Preserves produced by boiled fruit and sugar are entirely different from vocal or instrumental sounds created by human musicians.”
“It’s a figure of speech, dipshit. Use your android brain,” Gavin explained impatiently, reaching for the radio controls. He turned it on and rifled through the stations. “You’re in luck. Nothing good is on,” he grumbled. “I guess ten o’clock in the morning is a bad time to find decent music.”
“You mean jams?” Nines mocked, grasping the arm rests tightly whenever Gavin ran his third red light of the day. Next time, he would be driving. A blind person could drive better than this absolute lunatic of a human being. He pursed his lips and tried not to think about how he had seen his first dead body. He couldn’t help but notice that Gavin was staring over at him every few moments. Nines drew in a placating breath. “Yes?”
"Nothing, just… you didn't seem to react earlier,” Gavin said slowly, his lips twisting into a frown as he watched the road. “That was the first time you saw somebody lifeless, if I’m not mistaken. And I’m usually never mistaken because I’m a genius. I guess I was expecting something else to happen." He finally glanced away from the android, not wishing to press the matter any further.
“Corpses are an inevitable part of this occupation,” Nines told him simply. "I am not weak on matters like these, though I understand that most humans can be.” His LED blinked a vibrant red as he remembered the scene. While humans were able to forget details over time, Nines couldn’t. Deleting information from his system was never a good idea.
"The fuck? Humans aren't weak, we're -" Gavin began, but he sort of lost his edge whenever he saw the color of the android’s temple. He sighed, lowering the tone of his voice. "C'mon, you know what I mean. I've seen murders too, but my first one, the one I had to collect evidence from and get eye-level to, that changed things. It's different when you're ten feet away from a dead body versus a foot. Believe me. I've done this job for longer than you've been screwed together."
Nines' jaw visibly clenched, and he turned his head to the side to avoid eye contact with Detective Reed. "I am desensitized to death,” he claimed.
"You're not desensitized, but whatever," Gavin uttered, pulling into the parking lot.
Nines clambered out of the car at the first opportunity. Of course Gavin had managed to make him feel upset. Emotions and dead bodies were both new territories for Nines, so he was slightly overwhelmed and it showed. He sat down at his desk and looked blankly at the computer monitor, unable to get the image of the lifeless man out of his head.
Connor took notice and he walked over to Nines to check on him. “Hi, Nines. How did your first field run go with Detective Reed?”
Nines took a moment to reply, picking his words carefully. “Detective Reed is not an issue. However, it is necessary for me to discuss how to handle viewing decaying humans while on the job. I do not like it, Connor.”
“I don’t like it either,” Connor empathized, “but seeing another person departed is what motivates me to track down who did it. Justice is a very rewarding part of this career.” He placed a hand on Nines’ broad shoulder and half-smiled. “At least Detective Reed is developing manners. I think that he likes you.”
“I disagree. Detective Reed is -“
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” Gavin announced, perching in his seat. “Ugh, what’re you doing here, Connor? Go away or make me a coffee.”
Connor smiled brightly at the detective. “I choose neither option,” he said sweetly. Somehow, Connor had figured out how to infuriate Gavin without even trying to. It was remarkably tiresome.
Killing him with kindness, that was more accurate.
“Just go!” Gavin shooed aggressively. He was tired. He got out his phone and started to thumb through his messages. There was one from his mom about him coming to visit her. He hadn’t been over to see her in maybe four or five weeks, so it was time. Gavin had a lot to talk to her about, including his new android partner. Sofia would probably be the only one who would understand how shitty his situation was: forced to work with a talking toaster.
“Oh, you want me to leave you all alone with Nines? I have a feeling that you like him.” Connor’s voice was a playful sing-song that was really killing Gavin’s vibe.
He was about to slam his head against his desk. Gavin glared at Connor heavily, even as a faint blush dusted over his cheeks in revelation. “Yeah, well you’re wrong, because I actually don’t like him.”
Without missing a beat, Connor tacked on, “You’re referring to Nines as a him and not an it? I’m dazzled by his profound influence on you.”
“Be dazzled somewhere else. I’m out,” Gavin growled, tensing up in his seat. He was sick of Connor calling him out, so he got up from his desk and walked into the break room. Since no one was going to brew him a cup of coffee, he would just have to make it himself. What a pitiful existence.
Tina walked in and stuffed two dollars into the vending machine, taking out the protein bar that thunked in the bottom. “Hey, Gav. How’s your new android boyfriend working out?”
“Listen, Tina. I don't have a thing for Nines, so seriously fuck off. First it was Connor, and now it’s you. My best friend,” Gavin snarled, stuffing a filter into the coffee machine with too much force. No wonder it had broken last time. He tended to get rid of his negative emotions by punching things, and the machine just happened to be his target. “I just met the thing.”
“Please, it's so obvious,” Tina commented as she took a seat, unwrapping her bar. It was so unfair for her to leave it at that. It was like she was baiting Gavin to ask what she meant and to open up the conversation.
Gavin leaned against the counter and folded his arms over his chest. “How? How is it obvious? I literally hate him. We hate each other.”
“He doesn’t hate you. If he did, then he would be talking to Fowler about how unbearable you are and he would want a replacement,” she reasoned, talking out of one side of her mouth as she chewed. “And it’s obvious because I can just tell.”
“Tina, we’ve only been working together for a day.”
“So, how do you know you hate him?” Tina interrogated, destined to get to the bottom of this.
“Because!” Gavin cried, throwing up his hands.
“That isn’t a very compelling argument, Detective Reed,” Connor said from the doorway.
“Connor, I swear, if you don’t get the fuck out of here I’m going to beat the shit out of you,” Gavin breathed, though there wasn’t any malice in his words. He was mostly just exhausted and annoyed to the max. Everyone was pushing him and they all seemed to think that he and Nines were a growing item. That simply wasn’t the case.
Chris walked past them and he paused to duck his head into the room. “I agree with Connor,” he chimed in before leaving. He didn’t want to be there when Gavin exploded.
“Fuck! Everyone go away. I just wanted some coffee. Siete tutti pazzi!”
“Gavin, you’re Italian?” Connor asked, tilting his head to the side.
Gavin’s eye twitched and he slowly turned around to try and focus on the bubbling of the coffee machine. Stay calm, he told himself. Don’t unholster your gun. Keep it together. “Yep. Leave now. I’m at my limit for the day.”
Both of Gavin’s hands smacked down hard onto the counter and Tina dragged a wide-eyed Connor out of the break room. The RK800 protested only briefly because he personally enjoyed making Gavin upset, but once he was talking to Hank about their case he was distracted enough not to go bother him again. Meanwhile, Nines was sitting at his desk filing information for his and Gavin’s case and entering in the evidence he found.
Gavin came back into the bull pen moments later with a steaming cup in his hands, ignoring the short look of disapproval he received from Nines. He didn’t care what the android thought. He was going to enjoy as many cups of caffeine he wanted without any shame. He deserved it. Gavin worked hard and he was being annoyed by every single person in the precinct. No, he didn’t like Nines. Why was Tina so determined to get them together? Had she made a bet? Oh, if there was an office bet going on about whether him and Nines were getting together, then people would be sorely disappointed.
He took his phone out and pursed his lips, kicking his ankles up on top of his desk like he normally did. Nines knocked his feet to the floor almost immediately and Gavin huffed. “Asshole,” he insulted under his breath, his thumbs dragging over his smudged screen.
[12:03PM] hi, ma. coming over later tonight. mostaccioli mosta.
[12:05PM] have you eaten?
[12:06PM] no ma. working.
[12:08PM] pranzare! morirai di fame.
[12:09PM] my lunch break is soon. don’t worry so much.
[12:13PM] eat! trova qualcuno da sposare.
[12:14PM] ma, i’m not getting married.
Gavin exhaled and tucked his phone into his pocket. He had a silly smile on his face. His mother cared about two main things: marriage and food. Oh, and olive oil. She bathed with it. Gavin was always amused how much his mother was devoted to being so close to her heritage. The Italian flag was hanging up in her living room, she had a few pieces of Carrara marble furniture, and every day she wore her cameo around her neck.
Nines watched him and observed his behavior. “Who were you contacting, Detective? Is it relevant to our case?”
“No, it was my ma. She’s being crazy again and she asked me if I was married yet,” Gavin drawled. “Anyway, I’m going to get some food. There’s a sandwich place just down the block. Give me fifteen minutes.”
“I’ll join you,” Nines said, pushing away from his chair to get to his feet.
Gavin froze for a second. “What? Why? I thought that androids didn’t eat.”
“I assumed you would prefer company. Eating meals alone, according to several scientific studies, may cause humans to choose unhealthier meals. And, of course, loneliness is unhealthy,” Nines added, dusting off the sleeves of his already pristine white jacket.
Gavin sighed. “Yeah, whatever you say, tin can. Let’s jet.”
Chapter 3: Mostaccioli Mosta
After having lunch with his least favorite machine and figuring out Tina’s antics, Gavin finishes Tuesday on a sour note. Later he visits his mother and discusses his predicament, surprised when she wants to meet Nines.
"Slow down! Shit, do you have to walk that fast?" Gavin asked a little breathlessly, trying to match Nines' long strides. It wasn't his fault that his legs were shorter and that he actually needed air in his lungs. Gavin normally didn't have to try and catch up with people because he was 5'9". Nines, on the other hand, was obnoxiously 6'3". Even Connor was an inch taller than Gavin. Why was everyone so tall?
Nines' LED cycled yellow and he peered down at Detective Reed with his silvery-blue eyes. "It is noon. Therefore, you will encounter heavy traffic while attempting to purchase a meal. I would advise you to increase your step ratio, or practice running techniques to strengthen your calves."
“Running is stupid, and I don't care if we have to wait in a line. It'll only be, like, maybe five minutes," Gavin decided, digging his wallet out of his back pocket once they arrived. He made an exasperated sound when Nines grabbed the door for him. He's being a gentleman, Tina would have teased.
Exactly as RK900 had said, there was a sea of people waiting to order. Gavin joined the line and checked his phone for messages. Like most people from Generation Z, he was glued to his device. He noticed a few texts from Tina and he opened them up.
[12:32PM] gav, u good?
[12:34PM] why's ur android going w/u 2 lunch?
[12:37PM] r u going on a date w/him?
Gavin groaned and pushed his hand through his hair. Of course Tina thought that this was a date of some kind. Even Chris had texted him.
[12:39 PM] yo gavin, are you and 900 a thing? i bet fifteen bucks.
[12:40 PM] NO. WE AREN'T A THING. tell Tina to stop the fucking bet.
[12:42 PM] nah.
"Dammit," Gavin suspired, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Do people really not have anything better to do? I mean, come on. My blood pressure is a train wreck and all our coworkers care about is making money off of me! And to top it off, Tina totally betrayed us."
Standing beside Gavin with his arms clasped behind his back, Nines tilted his head in response. "I am not sure I understand what you mean, Detective Reed. What betrayal?"
Gavin scoffed and shuffled forward a few feet in the line, getting closer to the front counter. A few customers were listing off their orders. "There's this stupid bet that I'm sure Tina started. She thinks we're a duo made in heaven or something. I told her no!"
The android looked at his police partner. "If you believe something to be false, then it shouldn't matter what others blather about," Nines explained plainly, trailing after Gavin.
"Yeah, okay, but it does matter!"
"Hi sir, what can I get for you?" A woman behind the counter asked, and upon seeing Nines' flashing LED she perked up. "We also have a newer option for androids, if your friend there is interested. It's a thirium-based drink that contains benzene and a copper transition metal with chemicals derived from the arctic, and it -"
"Sure, yeah, that's great. Will you stop talking if I buy one?" Gavin questioned irritably, handing over his cash after he included a sandwich in his order. While receiving his change, he was given a blue drink. It smelled like almonds. Gavin rolled his eyes and shoved the cup at Nines, who accepted it cautiously.
"Detective Reed -"
"Dude. Nines, it's thirium. Drink it." He grabbed his receipt and stalked off toward a vacant table, one of the only ones left. Gavin noticed that Nines hadn't even tried it yet, so he gathered some of the spilled blue substance off of the lid with his index finger to test it out. He had always been baffled by it's taste, and how Connor could chug it down. "Oh, that's so fucking gross," he shuddered.
Only after seeing that Gavin despised it, Nines took a small sip. He ended up being in favor of it and he leaned back in his chair to enjoy the drink further. "I find it remarkably satisfying to consume, Detective Reed. Thirium holds many functions for androids."
"Uh-huh. I know that. Do I look like a dumbass to you?"
"I bet you think you're real clever, robo-boy," Gavin replied, getting up from his spot to grab his order when it was called. He came back and started to eat, miffed as he caught the android studying him. "You're different than Connor," he finally said, swallowing around his previous bite of the sandwich. "He's less... how do I put this? Connor's too nice." No, Gavin wasn't going to mention how he just referred to Connor as a he rather than an it.
"I am aware of his amiable nature. I have a strong reason to believe that it's a part of his programming. Connor was made to work with a team, meaning that he is more dependent on others," the RK900 explained, dragging his thumb over the lip of the cup. "Whereas I am made to work alone."
Gavin took another bite of his sandwich. "Hm. So why the hell did Fowler put you with me?"
"To test my patience."
"Funny. That's a good one, Rusty Nuts."
"I do not appreciate your insults."
"Beep. Boop. Does not compute," Gavin replied, wiping his face with his napkin. He crumpled up his wrapper and dusted away the bread crumbs on his lap. "C'mon, we need to figure out where that AP400 is."
Nines drank the remainder of the thirium in record time and he placed it delicately in the trash can on the way to the restaurant exit.
Walking back to the precinct took a bit longer because it had started to rain. Gavin was almost completely drenched by the time they were back inside. Luckily for Nines, his white jacket was waterproof. Gavin's shoes squeaked across the tile as he trudged back to his desk and took a seat in his chair. He shrugged off his sodden jacket and bent over to slip off his shoes. His socks were wet too.
"You're highly saturated," Connor said, cupping his hands around his mouth so that Gavin would hear him over the thunder outside and the arrhythmic clacking of keyboards. Hank chortled across from him and shook his head.
Gavin groaned and rested his head on his hand. "Who even says saturated anymore?"
"You have the exact appearance of a drowned rat," Nines commented. He had a waterproof jacket, sure, but his hair had still gotten wet. The dark brown strands curled and stood up on uneven ends. Unlike Connor, Nines didn't always feel the need to adjust his clothing or to fix his unruly hair in front of a mirror. Gavin was noticing all kinds of things about his new partner.
"Shut up. How do we find this android?"
"We should view surveillance footage -"
"Ugh," Gavin complained.
"- of the surrounding area. To be accurate, we should start within a two mile radius of the house where the homicide was committed." Nines was already typing away on his computer, squinting at the screen critically. "I have narrowed down our search to seven local bio component stores. Our suspect is likely to go there because she lost thirium from the pen stabbing."
"It was pretty resourceful of the guy to stab his android with a pen before she killed him," Gavin remarked, logging in and entering the addresses of the local stores into the database. "I'll start watching videos from the three stores on the west side, and you'll do the four on the east."
Nines didn't like to be bossed around, but he knew the value of collaboration. He started watching the videos and had no luck. The viewing took about four hours because he had to comb through two days worth of footage.
Gavin was bored out of his mind watching people leave and enter the bio component stores. The stores became a thing whenever androids were officially freed, and they gave many humans new jobs. Often androids didn't have access to the correct parts. Instead of rifling through a junk yard of scraps, they could now purchase new replacements. It was a win-win situation for both parties. Gavin wouldn't want to work in one of those stores, though, because the employees also had to attach the parts.
Just when he thought he couldn't take it anymore, Gavin spotted a distraught female android entering the store. She seemed to be limping and clutching at her leg. "Hey, Bolts? Look." He turned the monitor around so that he could point her out.
"You will refer to me as Nines," the android sternly reminded Gavin, but he watched the surveillance video regardless. The AP400 entered the store, replaced her leg, and then left. At least they had a lead now. She had to be close if she was at that store less than twenty-four hours ago. "We will go to this store tomorrow for questioning."
"Awesome," Gavin said, putting on his partially dry socks and shoes. He had been working since five in the morning, and he didn't have any brain power left to do anything more today. It was now four o'clock in the afternoon. "I'm heading home. If you see Tina, tell her that I'm not making her any Baci di Dama for the next six months because of her stupid bet idea."
"Duly noted, Detective Reed," Nines replied, the corner of his lips twitching upward. "Drive home at a normal speed and obey the law."
"No thanks, dickweed," Gavin replied, plucking his dripping jacket off of the back of his chair and promptly leaving the department. He walked out to the parking lot as more rain was spitting down from the sky. He was going to get wet again. And what had Nines called him earlier? A drowned rat?
He scrambled into his car and pushed his sopping wet hair from his eyes, taking out his phone to call his mother. There were several water droplets gathered on the glass screen as he swiped through his contacts. Ma. Gavin placed the phone on speaker and he set it on dashboard as he buckled him up and started the vehicle.
Burrrrrr. Burrrrrr. Burrrrrr.
"Buonasera ragazzo mio! My boy, my Gav! Mio figlio!"
Gavin chuckled and pulled out of the parking lot, lightly drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. Thunder rumbled ahead and the sky was darkening. "Mia madre. How are things?" He asked, a big smile on his face.
"Very good, Gav, yes. Your uncle Nikki called. She bought new shoes. Two hundred dollari. Sono fatti d'oro per quel prezzo!" Sofia remarked. "I went to the store today. Hanno carne di manzo? No! No manzo."
"Ma, let me go buy some -"
"No manzo, mio figlio. Sono scioccato. So I go to another store. I found some beef. Ne ho trovati alcuni. Non ti preoccupare, mangeremo," Sofia said, her tone happy and proud. "I used the coupons. You were working today, yes? Poliziesco?"
Gavin snorted. "Yeah, I was. I got a new partner. He's - it is an android."
"Terribile, Gav. Oh, this is bad, no? Android," Sofia muttered worriedly.
"He's not so bad," Gavin eventually said, biting his tongue.
Sofia paused for a moment. "Not bad? He is a nice boy?"
"Uh," Gavin fiddled with the steering wheel. "He's kind of a prick -"
"Linguaggio! Is he handsome like the others? Di bell'aspetto?"
Gavin huffed and turned on his blinker. "But he is a prick! He's really tall, and he has blue eyes -"
"Oh, oceano? Eyes like the ocean, yes? Like your father. Tall is good, very good. Is this an Italian android?" Sofia asked, a faint clanging sound of pots and pans in the background. There was also the echo of boiling water, which suggested that she had started to cook before Gavin had called her.
"No, he's a regular android. Well, actually, he's an updated version of Connor," Gavin tried to explain. "But they're nothing alike." It was true that his mother knew all about Connor. He had complained so much about him, and how glorified he was. Gavin's mother liked Connor, though, which infuriated him. While Sofia didn't have the best track record with androids in the past, she was starting to grow soft spots for a few. Sofia was the type of person who chose to see the best in people, and she was really positive.
Gavin pulled into the driveway of Sofia's well-kept apartment. There were lovely crocus flower beds, variations of white and purple, and she had a few shells hanging up on her tiny porch. "I'm here, ma."
There was a loud clatter as Sofia dropped her pan and left the kitchen area. She went outside and stood on the porch, crossing her arms over her chest. Sofia was wearing her apron and there was a dash of garlic powder on her cheek. Her hair was dark and pulled up into a bun, though there were a few stragglers here and there, and her skin was olive. "Il mio bambino!" She cried, holding out both arms. "Hurry, you are going to catch a cold in this weather."
He climbed out of the car and laughed, closing the driver's side door with his foot. Gavin rushed up the front steps and gave her a hug, and she pinched his cheek hard.
"You need to eat. Troppo magro. Come, let's go make mostaccioli mosta. I have the wine, the vino," she said, kissing both of his cheeks. "Tell me more about this android, yes? He is your coworker?"
Gavin groaned outright at the mere mention of Nines. Every five minutes it seemed like someone else wanted to set him up with this stupid machine. "No, ma, I don't want to talk about him. Everyone at the office is putting a bet on us, and Tina is trying to set me up with him. It's so fucking unfair."
"Gav! Non dire quella parolaccia. Tina must like this android. He must be very handsome, like your friend Connor. What is his model number?" Sofia asked, leading Gavin inside. Just as Gavin had thought, she had already started making dinner. His mother always made too much food, but she said it was okay because they could have leftovers. She once tried to get Gavin and Tina to date by inviting her over for dinner, but that wasn't ever going to happen. He could distinctly remember her saying 'I want my grand babies!'
"He's an RK900," Gavin replied, taking off his shoes by the door. "And Connor isn't my friend. I'm going to start pitting the olives," he added, trying to change the subject. His love life was always a topic that his mother was eagerly willing to discuss.
"RK900, you say?" Sofia murmured, pulling out her phone to take a look. She was rather good with technology, which surprised Gavin.
"Ma, don't -"
"Oh, my. Così carino, Gavin! He has muscles! Muscolo." She walked over and showed him the picture. It was a photograph of Nines taken that day, sitting in his chair. Yes, Sofia had a Facebook. Yes, she followed Connor on it. Ugh, she was obsessed with Connor. She definitely didn't hate androids as much as she should've. "When do I get to meet these boys?"
Gavin cringed as he washed his hands in the sink, getting ready to start cooking. He sipped a glass of red Chianti wine and set it on the counter. Wine wouldn't be sufficient to get him drunk fast enough. "Ma, I promise you. You don't want to meet these guys. They're irritating."
"I will tell you who is irritating. Your father. He's irritating. He's a right bastard, that's why," Sofia said, shaking her head. She hadn't spoken to him since Gavin was a little boy after he left them, but Gavin had a feeling that she knew where he was. "These androids are not irritating. I think that this RK900 is good for you. He will build character. Charming," she said, showing Gavin the picture again for emphasis. "You will marry him, yes? Un matrimonio."
"No! No weddings."
"Then I will meet him. Non discutere. Un matrimonio."
Gavin scowled and pitted the olives a little rougher than he intended to. He wished that people would leave him alone about Nines. He didn't get what the appeal was, or what people saw in the two of them. It wasn't like they had instant chemistry or anything. "You'll meet him when it's your birthday."
"No. Giovedi. On Thursday," she said, and by her tone it appeared that she wasn't playing around. Gavin's mother always got what she wanted because she was stubborn like that. Gavin couldn't say no to her even if he tried. She had given birth to him and raised him by herself, since his father wasn't in the picture.
"Okay, ma. Thursday. I'll come pick you up and you'll meet him, but only for five minutes. Got it? Cinque minuti. Niente di più. And no weddings." Gavin was stern, but soft. He watched his mother's eyes light up. He shuffled over and gave her a small hug, and they started cooking together.
After dinner, Gavin got extra leftovers to bring to Tina. He was mad at her still, but he wasn't going to let a stupid bet ruin their friendship. They had been close for too long and it would be hard to break away from her. He drove himself home and unlocked the door to his apartment while juggling the food. Immediately he was greeted by his German shepherd.
"Bruno, how's my boy? Cinna?" He asked, looking around for the orange tabby cat. "That bitch never comes to say hello," Gavin huffed. He threw the leftovers in the fridge and he grabbed Bruno's collar to walk him for a bit. When he picked him up from the shelter, he knew that he wouldn't be able to be at home very often because of his job, so he got an older dog. Cinna, though, was only two years old and really energetic.
The old German shepherd boofed and then sat down politely while Gavin hooked him up to his leash. He said goodbye to Cinnamon, wherever she was, and he took a fleeting walk around the apartment building a few times. Bruno was breathing heavily and he was grinning up at Gavin by the time they entered the lobby again.
Taking a shower and getting ready for bed came easy to him; it was the sleeping part that never worked out. Gavin tossed and turned in his bed and waited for his alarm to go off so he could go to work. Currently he was focused on seven major things: his mother, his friend Tina, his job, his pets, food, sleep, and that stupid - Nines. And now that he was thinking about it, his mother was absolutely right. Sofia was never wrong.
Nines was very di bell'aspetto.
Chapter 4: Behind Schedule
It’s Wednesday morning, and Gavin Reed is running late for work. He and Nines travel to the store where the AP400 was last seen and become one step closer to unraveling a bigger mystery hidden in their originally simple case.
“Fuck, shit! I’m fucking late,” he gasped, tugging on some dark jeans and stuffing his toothbrush into his mouth. Gavin wouldn't say that he was a perfectly punctual person, but he was about thirty minutes late for work and he was having a small panic attack because that hadn't happened in maybe three years. His hands were clammy, his heart was pounding, and he honestly felt like he was going to die. His first thought was that he was going to be fired.
No, no, no, no…
Cinna was perched on top of Gavin’s dresser, watching him struggle, while Bruno was spread out on the couch in Gavin’s living room.
He grabbed his jacket and managed to leave the house by six o’clock. He arrived wearing nothing but jeans, mismatched shoes, and his jacket. In his haste and extreme anxiety, he had forgotten to put on a shirt. Gavin only realized this by the time he was halfway there, so he zipped up his jacket and thought fuck it. It wasn’t like he even needed to be there that early anyway, because Hank was always late, but Gavin was a professional.
“Whoa, Gav, are you okay?” Tina asked him when he showed up. Gavin knew what he must’ve looked like: red-rimmed eyes with heavy bags under them, uncombed bed head, hastily put on clothing, shaking hands, and an overall panicked expression on his face.
Gavin sat down in his chair and immediately put his head on his desk. “Yeah, totally. I feel like a million bucks. No worries,” he whispered, not trusting his voice. He would rather not sound like a teenager and have it crack.
Nines studied him and his LED was flashing between red and yellow. “We should leave soon to question the management of the store. It’s our only lead. Are you capable of driving us to the address, or -“
Wordlessly, Gavin shoved his car keys at Nines. They clinked on the desk and Gavin breathed heavily. “Coffee,” he croaked.
”Gav, you should really see someone about those nightmares. I’ll be right back. Try not to tear your boyfriend’s head off,” Tina told him lightly, trying to ease up the tension. She glanced at Nines and took off toward the break room to make Gavin the steaming beverage.
“Your hands lack the force it would take to remove my head from my body,” Nines remarked, grabbing the keys and fiddling with them like Connor practiced with his coins. He paused before staring up at the detective. “Why did our coworker just refer to me as your significant other?”
“Because that’s what everybody thinks,” Gavin groaned, still hiding his head in his hands. “They all think that we’re an item and it’s the stupidest thing ever. As if we would ever…“
“Pursue a romantic relationship?” The RK900 finished for him, tilting his head to the side. “I find human intimacy unusual. Why are posteriors so important? What is the function of touching lips or holding hands? Do human couples really have a preference for what side of the bed they choose?”
Gavin looked up and squinted at Nines, his lips parted with disgust. “Are you fucking serious? Slow your roll. First of all, posteriors are called asses in the human language. People like them because they just do!”
“Asses?” RK900 wondered, his eyebrows drawing together.
“Yes, asses, you doofus” Gavin snorted, the left side of his mouth curling upward into a smirk. “And we like kissing because it can sometimes be, like, foreplay or something. As for holding hands, it’s just a couple thing to do.”
“How do humans hold hands?”
“Look up a video on YouTube. It’s not that fucking hard.”
“I need a demonstration.” Nines patiently moved his arm forward and he held out his hand toward Gavin, making the shorter man blush and scoff. Gavin shoved his hand away and glanced around the bull pen.
“Don’t let anyone see you doing that!”
Tina walked back over and placed the cup of coffee in front of Gavin. She looked between the two of them and arched a single eyebrow, her gaze narrowing in on Gavin’s hand - which was shoving at Nines’ wrist. “What seems to be going on here, boys?”
“Nothing!” Gavin spat, hurriedly jerking his palm away from the android.
Nines’ LED burned yellow and he stared at his partner blankly. “I was attempting to hold Detective Reed’s hand for a physical demonstration, but he resisted. Are asses important?”
Tina laughed aloud and Chris scooted over to them in his chair after hearing the commotion. “What’s - uh oh, I think Nines has a little crush on our least favorite detective,” he mused.
“A crush?” Nines asked, doing that stupid head tilt again.
“That isn’t possible. Nines hasn’t activated his flirting protocol yet,” Connor appended, obviously making a joke.
Hank chuckled and clapped the RK800 on the shoulder. “You get points for trying, kid.”
“Everyone go away. I’m not in the mood for your bullshit,” Gavin finally said, mumbling quietly around his cup of coffee. It always took a while to kick in. “Nines doesn’t like me, and I don’t like him. Find something better to do with your lives and quit making fucking bets on whether or not we’ll get together.”
“Oh, the bets aren’t for that. They’re for if you guys end up boning,” Tina explained, and Chris high-fived her before rolling back to his desk. The look on Gavin’s face was priceless.
“We have a job to do, here! Shut up,” Gavin complained, sulking in his chair. He set his coffee cup aside once it was emptied and he stood up to get going. “C’mon, Nines.”
“Detective Reed, what is boning?”
Gavin roared, “Nines! Come on!” He grabbed his arm (no, his bicep) and he practically dragged the android out of the precinct. The sounds of their coworkers laughing still haunted Gavin even by the time he was sitting in the passenger seat of the car. “I can’t believe this,” he huffed miserably.
“What is boning?”
“Shut up or your ass is grass,” Gavin hissed, his grey-green eyes like slits as he coldly regarded his partner. “Why don’t you look it up on Google or something? Why are you asking me?”
“The internet sometimes contains false information. I would rather obtain an accurate definition of human slang than run the risk of finding the incorrect meaning,” Nines explained. “I trust you.”
I trust you.
Shit. Gavin sort of liked him.
”Forget about what they said and drive. We have a case to solve,” he said, lowering his voice a bit. Gavin really needed to relax. Getting his blood pressure up wouldn’t fix anything, and he sort of deserved all the teasing he was getting because he had been a real asshole for the past couple of weeks.
The vehicle started and Nines pulled out of the parking lot at the similar speed of a snail.
“You drive like mio nonno,” he breathed.
Nines glared at him heavily and stepped on the gas, backing up and swerving out of the parking lot. He turned on the radio and looked at Gavin, almost searching for approval. “Do I look like a grandfather to you?” He asked, and then he drove out onto the road. Because Nines was able to preconstruct everything around him, he was a very good driver and he was fast when he wanted to be. He timed his driving so that every time he passed an intersection the lights were green. Gavin sat up in his seat and looked on, impressed.
“You even turned on the radio.”
“Jams, Detective Reed,” Nines corrected, adjusting the volume.
The Emotion by BØRNS played through the speakers of Gavin’s car. He remembered listening to that band whenever he was a teenager. Nines seemed to agree with the song because he hadn’t changed the station.
Shadows fill my mind up
Zeroes tell me my time's up
I lost count so long ago; maybe my heart's numb
Don't hold my hands accountable; they're young and they're dumb
Gavin looked out the window and watched the world whiz by them.
Drive through the timezones
Escape out of my mind zone, love
I lost you not long ago; heaven knows I'm miserable
Hell takes all the credit, though, til the day is done
He peered over at Nines and averted his eyes when the android turned to regard him.
The emotion is suddenly out of me
The emotion is building up inside of me
And what you're looking for is suddenly out of reach
The emotion, the emotion
He sighed and let the rest of the song play, leaning back in his seat. It was nice to listen to the lyrics and let his mind wander for a while. Gavin rarely got a chance to meditate, and he really needed this today.
“Detective Reed, we’ve arrived at the store,” Nines announced, staring at his half-asleep colleague. “Would you prefer to remain in the car, or -"
"Hell no. I'm coming in with you." Gavin unbuckled and he pushed open the car door, climbing out of the vehicle. The duo entered the store together. A bright-eyed, blonde android was organizing a few parts in a box. Gavin cleared his throat and she looked up.
“Oh,” she said. “You’re a very cute human.”
Gavin blinked and Nines stiffened beside him.
“My name is Annette. Would you like to view a few of our upgrades for your android?” She asked, gesturing to Nines. “Or perhaps I could interest you in something else?”
Gavin fished his badge out of his jeans. “No, uh. We’re actually here for -“
“Did it hurt?” She asked.
Gavin glanced at Nines, and then Annette with confusion. “I’m… sorry?”
“When you fell from heaven?”
Honestly, Gavin was too surprised to say anything more. An android? Flirting? What was wrong with the world? He chuckled and looked down at his shoes, a scarlet color forming on his cheeks and across the bridge of his nose. “Uh, no? I’m Detective Reed, and this is Nines. Could we speak to your manager?” He questioned, his voice a bit strained. It wasn’t every day that someone was interested in him or called him an angel. In fact, most people called him a devil.
Nines glared heavily at Annette, a VH500 model, and his LED was a deep crimson. His fists were balled up at his sides. “It is imperative to our investigation.”
Annette’s eyes became wide. “Yes, of course. My apologies. I’ll go get him.”
The second she left, Nines turned to stare at Gavin. His eyes were so intense that it made Gavin uncomfortable. “Detective Reed, she likes your ass.”
“My what?” Gavin choked out.
Annette came back with her manager, an older human male with grey hair and a jolly expression. “Gentlemen, how can I help you?”
“Did an AP400 enter this building three days ago and purchase a new leg?” Nines questioned, already getting down to business. Even though he was speaking to the manager, his fierce eyes kept wandering over to the VH500 model, who shrunk and left the group to continue sorting through boxes. Nines’ chest puffed out when she went into the back room and he glanced down at his partner.
“An AP400?” The manager asked, rubbing his chin. “Well, let’s see… I know that I had Annette do two leg replacements. One was for a stab wound, and another was for aesthetics.”
Gavin hummed and looked around the store, getting creeped out whenever he spotted a box of eyeballs. “Uh huh… a stab wound?”
“Yeah, it was weird, almost like she was stabbed by a pencil or something.”
“A pen,” Nines corrected.
“Did you happen to see which direction the AP400 went, or did she mention going anywhere?” Gavin asked, nibbling on his lower lip with thought. He noticed Annette gazing at him from over the top of a box and he shifted uncomfortably. “Maybe your employee might know, since you said she was the one who did the leg replacement?”
The manager paused for a second. “I didn’t happen to see where she was going when she left, but she mentioned Canada at the register. Annette? Could you come over here, please?”
Annette walked over and stood close to Gavin’s side. Nines quickly got in between them and Gavin nudged the RK900 out of the way, genuinely confused. Why was Nines trying to keep him from talking to the VH500?
“There was an AP400 here,” Annette concluded. “She said that she was going to Toronto, and that she did something bad, something she didn’t mean to do. She told me that she was forced to do it.”
“Forced? By who?” Gavin wondered, genuinely confused.
“Well,” Annette shifted closer to Gavin, making Nines’ eye twitch. “There’s a rumor that a virus is spreading.”
“Yes, the Culpatus virus. I was under the impression that this was no longer an issue,” Nines commented, once again sandwiching himself between Gavin and Annette. “It’s a corruption found in faulty android bio components.”
The manager spoke up. “We just received new and secure parts, so the virus couldn’t have spread to this part of Detroit. It would be bad for business.”
Gavin held up a hand to pause everyone. “Hold on just a second. Why is this virus so bad?”
“It makes androids aggressive,” Nines answered quickly, blocking off Annette from Gavin once more. He huffed impatiently. “Thank you for the information. Detective Reed and I will be leaving now.”
“Wait!” Annette exclaimed. “Detective, I think I should get your number. Just in case any more facts should… arise,” she tried to reason, shooting daggers at Nines. “And maybe we could have human food together over a lit candle.”
Gavin shrugged sheepishly. “I’m, uh… not interested in androids.”
Both of Nines’ and Annette’s faces fell. Gavin walked out of the bio component store and stuffed his hands in his pockets, totally oblivious. Nines trailed after him and got in the driver's seat, almost seeming to pout. “What’s your problem?” Gavin asked, waiting for Nines to start the car so they could head back to the department and fill out some files.
"It's the virus," Nines explained, telling half of the truth. He gripped the steering wheel tighter than he needed to and he adjusted the rearview mirror. One single curl of brown hair fell onto his forehead.
Gavin assured, "You're not catching any stupid viruses, Nines. Let's hurry back."
Nines started the engine, but he didn't press on the gas just yet. He turned to stare down at the human sitting beside him, slowly holding out his palm with invitation. It appeared that he wasn't going to drive until he got what he wanted.
"Are you seriously not going to let that go?"
The android didn't respond, only wiggling his fingers the slightest bit.
Gavin huffed and slapped his palm on top of his partner's, squeezing hard before he let go. "If anyone finds out about this, then you're done. Got it, Ho-bot?"
"I am not a ho," Nines said, releasing the Detective's hand. Regardless, there was a small smile on his face and a new kind of light in his eyes.
Gavin barked out a laugh. They sped back to the department together with Nines behind the wheel. A strange bond was building between the two of them. Gavin just hoped that it would last, and that his mother wouldn't embarrass the hell out of him when she came to the precinct tomorrow.
Chapter 5: Please Stop Talking
Sofia visits the department and is enamored by RK900. A lead compels Gavin and Nines to travel to Canada.
“Ma, I’m serious. Don’t say anything about marriage,” Gavin pleaded for the fifteenth time. He went to pick his mother up from her apartment during his lunch break and now things were slowly escalating. He wasn’t sure if he could handle this. Tina, Chris, and Connor were teasing him incessantly and he was at his breaking point. Hank wasn’t that bad and he sort of took pity on Gavin, but most of the time he just watched and laughed.
“No promises. No promesse, mio figlio,” his mother mused, her green eyes shining. She had been asking Gavin for months if he would consider inviting her to go to his work again. The last time she was there Tina had been her target, the person that she was trying to set Gavin up with. Now it was definitely going to be Nines. She was already obsessed with Connor, so why would RK900 be any different?
“I’m serious,” Gavin repeated, emphasizing his words.
His mother let out an exasperated sigh, making wild gestures with her hands. “Perché non vuoi sposarti? Eh? You don’t want a wedding?” She asked, facing her son in the car. Gavin was a lot more careful driving while his mother was there, so the car ride was longer than it should’ve been.
Gavin groaned. “No. No wedding. Why don’t you ask Tina or Chris about their love lives? I’m sure that they would be happy to share theirs with you,” he said, getting more antsy the longer they were on the busy roads. He was under a lot of stress.
“I like Connor,” she said. “He is a good boy. Simpatico. Buoni occhi. Yes, brown eyes.” She nodded and smiled to herself, and Gavin rolled his eyes. He would never get why his mother loved the RK800 so much. “Connor is just like your special friend, no?”
Gavin scoffed and turned on his blinker. “My special friend?”
“Yes, Connor’s brother! The tall one. Di altezza. Ocean eyes,” Sofia said with a dreamy sigh once they were parked in the lot. She grabbed her leather purse and adjusted the pink and white cameo around her neck, pulling up her black hair in a bun.
He got out of the car and walked around on the other side to open the door for her. “Ma,” Gavin complained as he helped her out of the car. “He’s not my boyfriend. Knock it off.”
Sofia hummed. “He is il tuo ragazzo.”
“No,” Gavin said, wagging his finger two times for good measure as he helped his mother inside. “I don’t like him. We aren’t dating, okay? Don’t even bring Nines up. Everyone at the office has been annoying me about it and I don’t need to hear it from you too. You’re my mother.”
Sofia pinched his cheek and smiled good-naturedly. “You have given il automa a name?” She asked, following her son to his work desk. “Ah, look at all of these papers. You are so busy. This is why you cannot see tua madre!”
Nines was nowhere to be seen and Gavin sighed with relief. That is, until he caught sight of Connor walking in from the break room. He had brought a cup of coffee for Hank. Gavin hurriedly showed his mother a few things on his desk and tried to keep her distracted so that she wouldn’t -
“Miss Reed!” Connor greeted whenever he noticed her arrival.
Sofia turned around and held both of her hands up to her cheeks with delighted surprise. “Connor, it is so nice to see you! Oh, mio figlio has spoken so much about you. You are not bad. You are a good boy, no?” She smiled wide whenever Connor came over and she kissed both of the android’s cheeks, pinching his cheek afterwards.
Gavin wanted to dig a grave for himself.
“It’s nice to see you, too. Have you met my brother yet?” Connor asked, grinning innocently over in Gavin’s direction. “He was getting Detective Reed some coffee in the break room. Nines is very attentive. Why don’t you come with me and I’ll let you meet him?”
“Oh! Yes, that would be bellissimo! Perfetto! Connor is such un gentiluomo,” Sofia claimed, pinching his cheek again. She started following after Connor and Gavin quickly went over to try and stop this from happening. This couldn’t happen.
He cleared his throat. “Uh, ma, I don’t think we should bother Nines. He’s super busy, and he doesn’t want to talk to us. Nines has so many things he needs to do. He’s always working, and -"
Nines jumped whenever Sofia gave him a hug around his torso. The android was standing by the coffee machine idly before she showed up. His LED flashed red with alarm for a moment before it turned yellow. “Excuse me, ma’am, are you lost?”
“Connor, you son of a bitch,” Gavin breathed, glaring at the beaming RK800.
“You are the one they call Nines! Ocean eyes, no? My Gavin is so lucky, fortunato, to have such a… di bell'aspetto android,” Sofia said, nodding and breaking away from the hug. “Oh. You are so tall. I cannot give you baci.”
“Ma,” Gavin pleaded. He was absolutely worn down.
Nines paused and then looked over at Gavin for a brief moment with realization. “You’re… You’re Detective Reed’s mother?”
Sofia stood on her toes so that she could pinch his cheek. She glanced back at Gavin and waggled her eyebrows, which was a bad sign in Gavin’s book. “Nella carne! Tell me, do you have plans for marriage?”
Tina and Chris walked in, standing near Connor to watch the exchange. Those traitors. Gavin felt his entire face flaming and he put his hands over his eyes, feeling hopeless. Of course this was happening to him. Why did he expect anything different? He was doomed to step foot through these glass doors of torment every day.
“I… no?” Nines answered slowly. He appeared very lost and unsure. “I haven’t considered marriage.”
Sofia gasped, several emotions clashing in her eyes.
“But I,” Nines added quickly. “I would much prefer the traditional route of… courting before marriage.”
“Traditional, yes. This is good,” Sofia nodded. “My Gavin… è testardo. Stubborn like a mule. He will not find a wife, so I must find him a husband.” She leaned in closer to Nines, lowering her voice to a stage whisper. “Are you… an Italian android?”
Nines blinked and he did the same as her, mimicking her actions. He stage whispered back, “No. I was made in Detroit by Cyberlife. However, I have a few bio components manufactured from Rome and Venice.”
“You are a funny android. My Gavin will marry you,” she decided, nodding and patting the RK900’s firm shoulder. Sofia grabbed his sleeve and walked out of the break room, speaking to Nines animatedly all the while. The android’s silvery-blue eyes were wide and afraid, and he pleadingly glanced over his shoulder at Connor.
“I hope that you’re all fucking happy,” Gavin snapped, shoving hard at Connor’s shoulders before he rushed over to rescue his partner. He urged his mother to let go of Nines, exhaling heavily. “Ma, you can’t… you can’t just force someone into marrying me.”
“I will ask him,” Sofia said, nodding to herself. She turned to stare at Nines with a serious expression.
Gavin quickly got between them. “No, no… We’re not doing that. You said that you wouldn’t bring this up. Nessun matrimonio. Remember?” He lightly placed his hands on her shoulders and looked down at her. “Nines is my coworker. I’m not going to marry him.”
Feeling a little traumatized, Nines blinked once. The android may or may not have a crush on Gavin, but marriage was far too soon. They hadn’t even been on a date yet. And, realizing his opportunity, Nines spoke up. “I will not marry Detective Reed. However, to placate you, I will go on a date with him to test our compatibility.”
“Yeah, see? He’s going on a date with… wait, what?”
“Oh! This is good news,” Sofia breathed, about to cry with joy. She gave Nines another hug. “Bene! Sei un meraviglioso!”
Gavin just gaped. He didn’t know what to say and he was generally a nervous wreck at the moment. He ran his hand through his messy hair and then did it again. This was fine. it was going to work out and everything would be okay. Right? Right. He didn’t actually have to go on a date with Nines. Nines just made it up so she would stop asking him to marry her son. That made sense.
“Uh,” he said slowly. “Okay, so… we should probably get you back home. Lunch ends in twenty minutes,” he explained. “We’ll talk in the car.”
“Can we bring Nines?” Sofia asked, and she looked so happy that Gavin couldn’t tell her no.
He stared up at the android and just now seemed to notice how close they had gotten. Gavin took a step back and swallowed hard. “I guess he can. We have to, um, track down this android anyway…”
“Carpooling is an efficient way to lessen our carbon footprint, as it reduces emissions to half,” Nines agreed. “I found another lead earlier this morning. Our AP400 has bought a rental vehicle. You may want to pack a lightweight bag of human necessities, as we will be traveling to Canada tonight.”
Gavin huffed. “We’re taking a plane over there, right? So we can beat her?”
“Yes,” Nines answered. “If we can somehow manage to catch up, I can examine her bio components to find the virus. Our technology team can put a stop to it with firewalls before it spreads.”
“He is smart. I like him,” Sofia nodded, her eyes flickering between Gavin and the RK900. “You are a good team. Squadra.”
Gavin rolled his eyes and he snatched his car keys off of his desk. “Oh yeah, me and Nines are totally a squadra,” he commented irritably under his breath.
Nines seemed to like being included. He grabbed the passenger door for Gavin’s mother (which she thanked him excessively for) and he sat in the back seat. “I was only made aware recently that you are of Italian descent, Detective Reed. I admire your ancestry. Most humans do not know that Italians are responsible for the invention of the violin, eyeglasses, typewriter, and espresso machine.” Nines paused for a moment. “I now understand your infatuation with coffee, as statistics claim one Italian alone is able to consume four-hundred and fifty gallons of it.”
“My boy loves coffee,” Sofia told Nines as Gavin began to take his mother home. She placed her bag on the floor by her feet. “He used to drink it in high school. Scuola.”
”What else does he love?” Nines wondered, and when he received a dirty look from Gavin he quieted down. “I think there is a valid importance of me knowing because of our… upcoming date.”
Gavin sucked in an impatient breath. He couldn’t be too angry at Nines or the situation when his mother was smiling that wide.
“Oh, mio figlio loves animals. I will have to watch his pets during your trip. Eh, the animali domestici. Yes.” Sofia smiled to herself and peered back at Nines. “He also loves the persone divertenti. Funny people,” she explained. “Gavin è speciale. Special. He likes to paint, like da Vinci. He loves watching scary movies, even if they scare him. Spaventosi,” she hummed in amusement. “He was born in October.” She continued, “He's very good at communicating when he's not swearing. Imprecando. And he’s a romantic. A hopeless romantic. Romantico.”
Gavin scoffed and felt his face burning.
“And what does Gav - Detective Reed - what does he like to paint?” Nines questioned, a curious expression on his face. He wasn’t expecting someone like Gavin to enjoy painting. The man had zero patience. Did he really sit down for hours at a time with a brush and some pigment?
“I paint Detroit,” he blurted, gripping the steering wheel hard.
Sofia specified, “He paints images of the city at night, after the rain. Pioggia.”
”That’s enough, ma. Seriously. He doesn’t care,” he muttered, still as red as ever.
Nines spoke up from the back seat. “I find it… riveting, Detective Reed. I didn’t realize that you were an artist.”
“I’m not,” Gavin said tensely.
“He is,” Sofia argued, digging through her pocket for her phone. She showed an image of one of Gavin’s paintings to Nines before he could stop it.
“Ma, are you fucking kidding me? Don’t show him that!”
“Non maledire!” Sofia barked. “You make the best paintings. The best.”
Nines gently took the phone from her and stared at the image. It was mostly blue and grey, but the bright lights of the city were reflected off of shallow puddles from the rain, which gave the painting a stunning appearance. There were swirls of vibrant rogue red, warm cadmium yellow, and of cold ultramarine. Red, yellow, and blue. The car was very quiet for the next eight minutes as Nines just stared at the painting. “This is… remarkable.”
“He never went to an art school,” Sofia said, her eyes proud and teary. “He paints the pictures from his heart. Cuore. Gavin is my special boy.” She sniffled and leaned over the seat to swipe through the photos. “When he was un ragazzo, I gave him a paint set.”
“Don’t cry, ma,” Gavin sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose while he waited for a red light to turn green. He arrived at his mother’s apartment shortly after and he parked outside of it. “That’s enough, don’t show him any more,” he tried to plead.
Sofia finally nodded. “Va bene, no more. Be safe,” she said, getting out of the car, “and go on that date! He is your futuro marito!”
“I’m not getting married, ma!” Gavin shouted before she closed the door. He waited until she was safely inside and Nines was sitting in the passenger seat. They really needed to hurry. Nines probably booked their flight already, though, so he only needed to pack a little bag with his passport. He left Nines in the car while he quickly gathered his things. Gavin was in and out in minutes.
He took them to the airport and parked. They went inside together and Nines printed out their boarding passes at a kiosk. Afterwards, they waited in line for security. Nines had to remove his jacket and his shoes. The android looked so different without it on, wearing a black turtleneck. Gavin partly wished that airport security made people take off their shirts just so he could see Nines bare.
What a perverted thing to ponder, he thought to himself.
Soon they were standing outside of their assigned gate. Nines was pulling his jacket back on just when Gavin was starting to really appreciate seeing him without it. They sat together and waited. Gavin became bored, so he played a few games on his phone. Nines peered over his shoulder to watch.
“You paint very well,” Nines admitted.
“Why did you tell her that we were going on a date?” Gavin asked, trying to change the subject. He didn’t like talking about the paintings he made. It was more of a hobby that distracted him from how sad he could get than anything else. People needed to have hobbies.
Nines frowned. “It seemed like the easiest solution.”
“You know that we’re not actually going on a date, right?”
“You would lie to your own mother?”
“… no. I mean, everyone lies, okay? Don’t make it sound bad.”
“It is bad. You should feel exceptionally guilty, Detective Reed.”
“Asshole,” Gavin huffed. “Alright. I’ll go on a date with you. Happy?”
Chapter 6: Windborne
Gavin discovers that RK900 has a mild fear of flying on their voyage to Toronto, Canada. Nines discovers that Gavin is impossible.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has now turned on the fasten seat belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin.”
Gavin turned to look at the rigid android sitting next to him. “Uh. You good, there?” He asked carefully.
Nines swallowed hard and his LED blinked from yellow to red interchangeably. “Yes,” came his weary reply.
“Please fasten your seat belts. Make sure that your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright positions.”
“I dunno, Roblox. You don’t look so good,” Gavin informed him. Could androids throw up? That was what Nines looked like he was going to do any second now. The plane’s engines were rumbling to life as the pilot started to pull away from the gate. Once they were up in the air, there would be little that Nines could do about it. The flight from Detroit to Toronto was only an hour and then some. It was too short of a flight to have the pilot turn around, and for an android, no less.
The flight attendant continued, “If you are seated next to an emergency exit, please read the instruction card located by your seat. If you do not wish to perform the functions described in the event of an emergency, please ask a flight attendant to reseat you.”
At the word ‘emergency,’ Nines seemed to tense up further. “I feel sublime, Detective Reed.”
Was that a tremor in the android’s voice, or was Gavin just imagining it? He peered at him suspiciously. “I think that you’re lying. You look scared as fuck right now.” A parent of two was sitting on the row opposite of them, and she glared at Gavin for his language.
“We would like to remind you that this is a non-smoking flight. Smoking is prohibited on the entire aircraft, including the lavatories. Tampering with, disabling or destroying the lavatory smoke detectors is prohibited by law. Also, your portable electronic devices must be set to airplane mode until an announcement is made upon arrival.”
Gavin looked up at the android and he nudged his shoulder. He had been unfortunate enough to get the middle seat, while Nines was in the aisle. An unsuspecting teenager was at the window seat. “Hear that, tin can? Put yourself in airplane mode,” he tried to joke.
“I lack that function,” Nines breathed, his eyes seeming to glaze over as they started speeding up. He gripped the arm rests so tightly that they were starting to bend a little. Nines watched the safety video that came on and he flinched whenever the masks dropped down.
“Have you never been on a plane before?” Gavin asked incredulously, nudging Nines’ shoulder again. “I’m an experienced passenger, I could show you some tricks,” he offered, because it was true. He had been to and from America to Italy, usually to visit his large family. Nines merely nodded in response, shutting his eyes. Gavin sighed heavily and began to list off some tips that worked for him.
“First of all, you’re already in a good seat. The window seat traps you and the middle seat is generally shit,” Gavin said, one hand curling around Nines’ wrist. “Dude, chill out. You’re fucking bending the arm rests and we’ll have to pay for those. And by we, I mean me, because I’m the only one with cash right now.”
Nines eased up on the arm rests and he instead took Gavin’s hand, lacing up their fingers before he could even begin to protest.
Gavin’s palm jerked with shock and he looked down at their twined fingers with disbelief. He gaped and then glared up at him, jerking his wrist to try to get Nines to let go. “What in the hell are you doing?”
“Alternative… solution…” Nines said slowly, his voice a bit distorted.
“Fucking let go! Are you crazy?” Gavin hissed, his face flaming. “That stupid hand holding thing was just for one time. That was your single free pass, your idiotic demonstration that you just had to have.”
“I am unapologetic. This is better.” Nines nodded to himself and he gave the detective’s hand a small squeeze. His thumb slowly rubbed circles over Gavin’s knuckles and he leaned back in his seat to relax a little.
Gavin scoffed and he tried futilely to get Nines to release his hand, and when it didn’t work he just sat there in submission. “Dick,” he muttered, but even Gavin had to admit that he was feeling pretty comfortable. And, of course, he just happened to like Nines a little. Not really. Sort of? He didn’t know where his head was at.
“Inform me of other ways to ease this form of travel,” Nines said.
“Listen to music - jams. Watch something to pass the time. Have a drink. Pop a pill.” Gavin rolled his eyes and glanced out the window. They were in the air. Detroit looked so small from this height. “Join the mile high club,” he added after a second, mostly to himself, and he chuckled.
”What is the mile high club?” Nines loudly asked.
A few people looked over and Gavin shrunk down in his seat, mortified. “Nines, shut the fuck up.”
“What is the mile-“
“Nines!” Gavin exclaimed in a hushed tone, slapping his hand over the android’s mouth.
Nines blinked once, and then twice. He glanced down at Gavin’s hand and then made the decision to lick his palm, making the man gasp with anguish and remove it. Gavin wiped his hand on Nines’ jacket and looked heavily disturbed.
“Did you just take a fucking sample of my fucking dna?”
“Yes,” Nines replied. “I felt that it was the only occasion I would be able to do so,” he added, continuing to rub his thumb over Gavin’s hand. There was a hint of a smirk on Nines’ face and Gavin detested him for it.
“Don’t do that again.”
“Certainly, Detective Reed.”
“And let go of my hand.”
Nines sighed and released him, but after a bit of turbulence his hand went back to the arm rest - except it wasn’t really the arm rest, it was Gavin’s leg.
“Nines,” Gavin wheezed.
“Oh,” Nines said, immediately retracting his hand.
“Here, just - listen to music or something.” Gavin leaned over and grabbed his headphones from his carry on bag under the seat, and he plugged them into his cellphone. He shoved the device at the android’s chest.
Nines took the phone and he glanced at Gavin. He put in one ear bud and held the other out to the human with encouragement. "Humans enjoy music. It has many benefits, Detective Reed," the android mused, partially smiling whenever Gavin took the other ear bud. "Listening to it lowers cortisol levels and it may ease sadness or pain."
"Thanks, Dr. Phil. We all needed that," he commented, rolling his eyes. The teenager that was sitting next to Gavin gave him a strange look. "What, kid?" He asked impatiently. "What do you want? Can't you see I'm trying to jam out with my android over here?"
"Who's Dr. Phil?"
"If you don't know who Dr. Phil is, then you're uncultured and you need to watch more television." With that being said, Gavin redirected his gaze to the RK900, who just stared at him in silence for a moment. "Dude, what? Stop gaping at me like a damn trout and speak up."
Nines ducked his head for a moment before turning to address Gavin. "You called me your android."
"Shit. I didn't mean you were, like, my android or anything," Gavin explained, "because you're supposed to be your own person now or whatever. I just meant that..." He trailed off, because what had he meant by that? Why had he called Nines his? Since when had he become so possessive over him?
A slow grin traveled across Nines' face, one that Gavin didn't like. "Oh, of course. I'm your android," he said. "Our coworkers have implied that there is intimacy between us so often that now you are beginning to believe it yourself. This is Pavlovian conditioning at its finest."
"Nines, what the fuck are you talking about?"
"Pavlovian conditioning, Detective Reed. With repetitive action, or in this case incessant teasing, you are now acting a certain way with me. Perhaps now you are convinced that we are, what our coworkers have called, an item of some kind," Nines explained, glancing at the shorter man sitting beside him. "To simplify, we take a biological stimulus such as attraction and pair it with a neutral stimulus, like the teasing..."
"I don't want to screw around with you just because everyone's been saying that we will."
Nines tilted his head to the side and adjusted his black collar. "No, then. Though, I am still not sure why you have called me your android."
"Slip of the tongue."
”You are now referring to a potentially provocative muscle of the mouth. I believe that you have been conditioned, Detective Reed,” Nines mused, thumbing through Gavin’s playlist on his phone. He selected a song at random and leaned back in his seat, sucking in air when the plane faced more turbulence. He wasn’t a fan of flying and he was only able to get distracted by Gavin. Whenever Nines spoke to Gavin, he gave him all of his attention.
Balisong by Phantom Planet came on, and Gavin gave Nines a thumbs up.
Balisong, sweet balisong
I'm gonna keep her in my pocket; Till the right time comes along
I got my balisong in my pocket so long; And when I need her don't you know she’s gonna sing that sweet song
Listen mother, mother, hey mother, stop your nagging
Cause you know it doesn't matter to me, no; I don't believe it when you say a word about my baby
If it's true, then only she could tell me so; I said, no
You know you lost her, now she's with somebody new
Playing with someone in the shadows; Running with the shadows
“A balisong is a knife,” Nines said slowly, trying to analyze the lyrics. Of course he would be trying to analyze the lyrics. Stupid androids. "A folding pocket knife. It is mostly illegal throughout the world because of its dangerous blade. I believe that this song is about a unfaithful relationship and the use of a weapon to protect one's heart from the savagery of love."
Gavin groaned and ripped out the ear bud. "Music is for listening, not for verbal essays. And what would you know about love, anyway?"
"Androids are capable of love," Nines argued, squinting at Gavin. He put the other ear bud in his ear since Gavin obviously wasn't going to use it, and then he took Gavin's hand again.
A nice flight attendant with deep ginger hair and cherry lipstick greeted them. "Hello, would you be interested in something to drink?" She asked, offering them a kind smile as well. Her name tag read 'Cathy' in thick, black letters.
"He will have a coffee," Nines answered confidently. "But, please include one sugar packet. On occasion he prefers to have it."
"Oh, of course. How long have you two been together?"
Nines told her, "Time is irrelevant."
"How romantic," Cathy hummed, scribbling the order down on her small notepad. "You're a very lucky man," she said to Gavin with a wink, and then she took the beverage order of the teenager before walking off.
"Detective Reed -"
"Don't you Detective Reed me! You're insane. Pazzo! You're actually insane. We aren't a couple, and anyone who thinks so is a fucking moron, okay? Because, newsflash, I don't date androids. Never have, never will. Stop grabbing my hand. Don't touch me at all. Got it?" Gavin huffed, trying to get his rage under control.
The woman sitting at the row across from them with her children gave Gavin yet another dirty look, and it put him on edge.
"Listen, lady, if you don't stop looking over here I'm going to -"
Nines quickly tried to quiet his irritable partner, cupping his hand over Gavin's mouth. "Detective. That's quite enough. We are in a public place. I will not try to grab your hand again. Please calm down."
"Mmhmf ing cam," he replied, and he moved Nines' hand from his lips so that he could talk properly. "I'm calm. Okay? I just want to find this stupid AP400 and go home so I can sleep. Is that too much for me to ask?" Gavin wondered, still grasping Nines' wrist. He dropped it quickly and his face went pink with realization whenever he noticed how close he and Nines were. If anything, they could be kissing. No, he wasn't going to think about kissing Nines.
Nines seemed to sense the look in Gavin's eyes and he remained where he was, as still as a statue.
"Just shut up," Gavin blurted.
The coffee was delivered a few minutes later. Gavin drank it and choked when they hit turbulence, the drink going down the wrong pipe. He also spilled some coffee. "I need to go wash my hands." He unbuckled his seat belt and climbed over Nines. Maneuvering himself out of the row was a little more erotic than it needed to be. Nines looked up at Gavin like a lost puppy the whole time.
The flight didn't take long. The android was stressed out during the landing, but after they were on the ground he felt okay again. Toronto was a lovely place, with wide blue skies. The city was mostly on the water's edge. Gavin wanted to paint it.
Much later, he and Nines walked out of the airport together and grabbed a taxi. It was one of the automated ones without a driver. Gavin had only ridden in a vehicle like this maybe once or twice in his life. He much preferred to drive his own car, but this would do. He was tired, and since he was hands-free he could kiss Nines if he wanted to.
Hold the phone.
What in the fuck was he thinking?
"Uh, hey," Gavin started, nibbling on his lower lip. "What was all that you said earlier? About conditioning?" He wondered, buckling himself in as the car started to go. They had the license plate down of the AP400, and she was just arriving in Toronto. Nines was tracking her.
"Conditioning?" Nines asked, staring down at Gavin. His LED was blinking a steady blue. "Yes. A summarization of what I told you is that you're starting to believe that we should become an item due to our coworkers always bringing it up."
"And my ma," Gavin grumbled.
Nines agreed, "And your mother."
"So, let's just say that I, uh... Hypothetically, let's just say that this whole conditioning thing isn't bullshit. Then what?"
The RK900 stilled for a second. His intense gaze settled on Gavin and he moved a little closer to him. "Are you suggesting that you like -"
"No, dickweed! Smettila di fissare. Non mi piaci. It's hypothetical." Gavin could feel his face warming up and he had to look away, pointedly directing his gaze to the window. "Forget it, I don't want to talk about this anymore. It's stupid."
"The AP400 is now in Toronto," Nines said quickly, opting for a change of subject. He could tell that Gavin was uncomfortable with their conversation and he didn't want to push anything. "After finding her, I will view her bio components and spot the Culpatus virus. Whatever information I find will be sent to the department's specialists and they can put a stop to it."
"And we'll arrest her for choking her boyfriend."
"Yes, an arrest will be made once we read her Miranda rights."
"You'd choke me, wouldn't you?"
Oops. That had slipped out. This was dangerous territory. Gavin chuckled awkwardly and ran a hand through his hair. Every day he was digging himself into a deeper grave, and his brain continued to shock him. What was going on in his head? Gavin was having a serious problem and he was starting to think that Nines was right. Maybe he was being set up because everyone was convincing him to be with Nines. "Or, uh. What are you talking about, Nines? Don't be weird."
"I am not weird. You are weird.”
“Couldn’t agree more.”
Chapter 7: How About This?
The AP400 model is apprehended by RK900. Back at home, panic starts to break out as the Culpatus virus spreads through the smoggy city of Detroit. Nines and Gavin discuss choking.
As the car drove itself, Nines continued to track the license plate of the rental vehicle. He was very focused. Too focused, in fact, to notice that Gavin was checking him out. Would messing around with an android really be all that different? Probably not. But without Nines' skin, he would be a hollow shell of white plastic. Gavin squinted at him and leaned closer, trying to picture Nines as just a faceless android. He couldn't. He might be a little creeped out at first to see him in his plastic form, but in the end it was only about the person inside.
And Nines had quite the personality.
What words could Gavin use to describe him? An excessive competitor. Innocent, yet highly sexual, if his references or jokes were anything to go by. Sort of brooding. Easy warmth and witty banter. Smart, Nines was smart. Maybe a little jealous of Annette. Gavin had noticed Nines' need to separate him from her in the bio component store.
The way that Nines stared at him... It seemed almost like he wanted to say something to Gavin, or ask him a question. Maybe Nines was having trouble finding the words. Or maybe he wants to kiss you, Gavin could hear Tina say in his mind. But would Nines even want to kiss him if he was given the opportunity? Did Nines actually feel anything at all? Emotions were a little new to the android still, but at least Nines seemed to know what fear was; he had shown that very clearly on the plane earlier.
"-ou listening? Detective Reed?"
"Huh, what? What?" Gavin asked, blinking a few times. His eyes had glazed over a little from staring at Nines' clenched jawline and his lips. Did androids have soft lips? What would happen if he leaned over and sealed the deal? Would Nines hum against his mouth and push him up against the window? Gavin wasn't a teenager anymore, but he was a very touch-starved man.
Nines exhaled and turned to look at Gavin, a seriousness in his silvery-blue eyes. "Our AP400 has parked just outside of a small house on Chestnut Park street. I suggest that we stealthily exit the car and pursue her."
Gavin nodded quickly and he grabbed his bag from the floor of the car. They were parked by the suspected house and he watched incredulously as Nines silently fled. Before he even managed to get out himself, Nines was hauling the AP400 out of the rental car and pinning her effortlessly to the door. Gavin rifled through his bag and grabbed a pair of handcuffs, rushing up to the pair to help. In the end, Nines didn't even need assistance because he was so damn strong.
It had been so hot to see Nines like that. Gavin almost wished that he was the one being arrested so that Nines would handle him around like that. Unf.
Nines' velvety voice cut through Gavin's thoughts. “- right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you." The AP400 opened her mouth to talk, but Nines continued, "Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Personally, Gavin would speak to Nines any time of the fucking day. He blushed and gave Nines some space. This was totally the wrong time to have a boner. Hopefully Nines couldn't read that part of his vitals.
The AP400 didn't fight them. She seemed scared, and honestly exhausted. She slumped against the car and began to cry. Then, it was as if a switch flipped. ”I didn't do it," she defended, kicking the car so hard that it dented and struggling in Nines' grasp. "It wasn't me. I would never hurt him."
"Uh, you kinda choked him and snapped his neck," Gavin chimed in, but he quieted whenever he received a pointed look from Nines. The AP400 began to tear up all over again and she fought harder in response, which honestly made Gavin regret saying anything in the first place. Her kicks were gradually getting more violent and out of control.
Nines calmly began to scan her system and he spotted the virus on her audio processor. He sighed and shook his head. "The Culpatus virus is to blame for her aggression toward our victim, I have no doubt..."
"So, we're going to let her go?" Gavin asked. "I mean... I guess if she was sick with this virus then she couldn't have been in control of herself."
Before Nines could answer, the door to the house that the AP400 led them to opened up. Kara peeked outside and she spotted them, gasping a bit. "Alice, stay here," she sternly ordered, and then she made her way over. Her footsteps were light and they barely clacked on the cobblestone path. Once she was closer, Gavin noticed that her LED was red with anxiety. "Celeste? Is that you? What are you doing in our driveway?"
"Kara," the AP400, or Celeste, breathed. Her movements were even more frustrated and almost out of her own control. Nines thought that she reminded him a little bit of Gavin when he was raging.
"Let her go. She didn't do anything wrong," Kara pleaded.
"Wait, we can't just let her go, Nines," Gavin argued. "We have to take her back to Detroit so we can figure out this virus situation." Wasn’t it just a little wrong to let an android go for murdering a human, virus or not? But if this virus was taking over their cognitive functions and decisions, then who was Gavin to make an accurate judgement?
Nines glanced down at the affected bio component and had a sudden idea. "If we are permitted to remove her audio processor to take to Detroit for a thorough study, then we will leave. Celeste, you can purchase a replacement here. You would not want to keep the audio processor anyway, as it is corrupt."
After the piece was delicately removed by Nines, he handed it to Gavin for safe keeping. The detective stuffed the audio processor in his bag and he got out a bobby pin to remove the cuffs. Celeste said nothing and she was completely docile now that the virus was gone. She blinked a few times and was confused about her location, but once she recognized Kara's face she hurried to give her a hug. More tears were running down her face. The AP400 was planning on staying with Kara, Luther, and Alice in their Canadian home.
"You're Connor's model, but different," Kara said slowly, patting Celeste's back to try and soothe her. She kept a distance between herself and Nines, not too trusting just yet. Who could blame her, though? Kara had all kinds of issues in the past. Plus, Nines wasn't someone that people wanted to mess with. He was tall and menacing - except when he was scared to be on a plane.
"He's new," Gavin told her, quick to brush it off. He could tell that Nines wasn't a fan of being a second fiddle to Connor, even if the android had major upgrades. Gavin would be pissed too if he wasn't the OG. "Celeste, where did you get your audio processor replaced?" He wondered, hoping that they could get to the bottom of where this virus began.
"The same store I got my leg from," she whispered.
Gavin and Nines shared a look. Apparently Annette's manager hadn't been telling the truth. He cared more about his business than the product he was giving out to androids. Which, of course, only meant one thing: the virus was now spreading in Detroit.
"Fuck," Gavin sighed, rubbing his temple.
"Fuck," Nines agreed, tucking the handcuffs into his back pocket.
The pair left the scene after saying a few goodbyes. Luther, a big man with an even bigger heart, forced Gavin into a hug. Nines seemed intimidated by someone taller than him, so he spent most of his time talking to Alice.
It was just their luck that they couldn't grab another flight back to Detroit that night. And, well, sitting almost four hours in a car wasn't ideal. Since they left Detroit a little after lunch, went through airport security, sat an hour on the plane, tracked down this android, and spoke with Kara, it was about eight o'clock. By the time Gavin got something for dinner, it would be nine o'clock. Nine plus four hours was one in the morning, and that didn't even include all the traffic they would have to deal with. Thursday night was probably one of the worst nights of the week - but Monday was a close second.
"I'm fucking tired and I need to eat food," Gavin said once they were in their self-driving taxi again.
The android looked at Gavin for a minute and then nodded. "Humans need adequate rest to function at their highest degree. I will find a nutritious place for you to eat. Kupfert & Kim is a vegan, gluten-free -"
"Nines, do I look like I'm a vegan? I'm from fucking Italy, okay. We eat meat all the damn time. It's part of my culture. You know... Salami, Soppresata, Prosciutto," he listed, leaning back in his seat. "And I love gluten. Hello? Pasta. Bread. I'm from Italy."
There was a pause as Nines shuffled through a few more local areas in his mind, his eyelids moving from side to side. "iQ. It is a restaurant with organic choices," he finally said, buckling himself in once he entered the address. The car rumbled and pulled out onto the street, heading in the correct direction.
While they were on the road, Gavin started falling asleep. He ended up resting his head on Nines' upper arm. His eyes fell shut as he breathed in and out softly, smelling almonds and Nines' laundry detergent. Gavin didn't snore, but he was an avid cuddler and he had a peaceful expression on his face whenever he slept. It really helped that Nines was remarkably comfortable.
Nines stared down at him in alarm and watched as Gavin Reed burrowed into his jacket. The car stopped itself in the parking lot of the restaurant, yet Nines found that he couldn't move. He didn't want to wake him. His free hand came up to brush a few strands of hair from Gavin's eyes, and he traced a light pattern over Gavin's lightly stubbled jaw. The textures were interesting. Gavin's skin was very soft, and Nines found his mind wandering. Somehow he started thinking about the plane ride earlier, and what was said.
"You'd choke me, wouldn't you?"
His icy eyes dropped to Gavin's relaxed face, unknowing and untouched. His hand drifted toward the sleeping human, his fingers starting to curl around the base of the man's neck. Choking Gavin? Why had the human suggested such a dangerous act? What was the significance of choking?
Gavin's eyes fluttered open from the slight pressure. He was very still. "Nines. What are you doing?"
"D-Detective," Nines said, moving away quickly. His voice glitched out, it warped, and he looked uneasy. It was clear that he had been caught doing something he wasn't supposed to. Nines swallowed hard as he tried to come up with an explanation that Gavin would believe. "I was checking your pulse."
"My pulse? Why?" He asked, shivering slightly. Gavin could almost feel the ghost of Nines' fingers on his skin. "I don't have any existing heart arrhythmia problems or anything, so what were you actually doing?"
Nines' eyes darted around the vehicle as he tried not to make his answer sound bad. When he received a nudge from Gavin to speak, the words rushed out of him in a jumble. "I was choking you." There was so much guilt in his words that he had to duck his head out of embarrassment.
"Choking me," Gavin echoed. He paused for a moment and then he suddenly became very red, almost scarlet. "Choking... okay, Nines, we need to set up some boundaries before you try to do this kind of shit to me. Especially while I'm fucking sleeping."
"Yes," Nines said quickly, his LED red. "I will not choke you while you're sleeping."
"No, you're not going to choke me at all," Gavin replied, running a hand through his hair. "Or, uh, at least not without permission."
"Do I have permission to cho-?"
While looking out the window to avoid Nines, Gavin realized where they were and he took it as an opportunity to interrupt the android before this conversation escalated. "Hey, look, we're here. Why didn't you say so?" He asked, grabbing his jacket and climbing out of the car.
Nines leaned after him and got out on Gavin's side, practically gravitating toward him. "Detective Reed, do I have permis -"
"I think I'll get something to go. Dining in is too exhausting for me right now. Plus, it takes longer for the order to be ready since they've got to clean the silverware," he rambled, effectively blocking Nines' attempts to talk. Nines held open the door for a very flustered Gavin. He ordered and then he sipped from his cup as they stood around and waited. "Back in my day, straws were a big no-no. We had to save the turtles. Now they're all gone, so no one gives a fuck anymore if we've got them. The world's messed up."
"Tin can, I'm not talking about it."
The android looked more than a little crestfallen, and Gavin felt completely responsible for it. "Dammit, you psychotic plastic prick. I'll show you in the car. Later. Not right now."
"Oh, okay," the RK900 agreed, his eyes wide with wonder.
"It won't be a habit."
Nines shook his head for emphasis, saying, "No. No habits."
"And you can't tell anyone."
"No talking," Nines said. He walked over and grabbed Gavin's food for him, and they shuffled out to the car. The android was buzzing with a slight amount of excitement, as this was just another thing that he was getting the chance to do. Nines enjoyed learning and trying to understand humanity. What he really wanted to know was why anyone would want their air supply cut off. Was it the thrill of death, or the way that someone willingly passed over control of themselves to another person that they trusted?
Gavin couldn't help but notice how observant Nines was, and how precautionary he could be about getting Gavin the healthiest meals, or opening the stupid door for him everywhere. Right at that moment, for example, Nines was holding both the car door and Gavin's meal for him, beaming outright. He climbed in and huffed in annoyance as Nines started to lean in really close and buckle him up. "Fuck off, I'm not a senior citizen."
"I enjoy giving care," Nines said, clicking the buckle in place and turning his head to stare at Gavin out of the corner of his eyes. They were less than two inches apart. Nines didn't seem to understand what was uncomfortable proximity-wise. Either that, or he didn't care. "Hello, Detective Reed," he greeted with a perfectly executed wink.
Gavin held his breath. "Uh, hey? Can you get in the fucking car?" He asked, grabbing the bag from Nines.
The human rolled his eyes when the car door shut and Nines entered on the other side. He opened his bag and began to eat his food, and Nines watched him closely. "Dude, come on. Stop looking at me like that. I'll let you choke me later."
"Later is now."
"This is so awkward."
"Awkward? I don't understand." Nines rubbed his hands on his dark pants and he kept looking over at Gavin. "Choking has piqued my interest. It is relevant to our case, after all."
"I never thought I'd agree to consensual choking in a rental car at some parking lot in Canada," Gavin mumbled under his breath, taking a bite from his meal. "Listen, dickweed, do you really wanna know why people go around choking each other? There are three reasons why."
Nines straightened his posture by a tenth of an inch, imploring Gavin to continue with his eyes.
"The first reason is, uh... that person wants to fucking kill you. Obviously. The second reason is," he sighed, glaring at the android briefly, "usually because that person wants you to shut the fuck up. And the last reason is something that I'm not going to get into with you."
"Tell me the last reason."
Gavin groaned and kept eating his food. "Nines, I'm about to choke you if you don't stop pushing my buttons."
Nines looked him over for a second. "You have buttons?"
"No! Ugh." He washed down the meal with his drink. Clearly he was doing everything he could to avoid this talk. "Sometimes it's a sex thing. People like it."
"Do you?" Nines wondered, "Like it?"
"Choking is fucked up, just like me. Of course I like it. But to an extent, and only sometimes. Rarely. Actually never."
The car was silent for a moment before Nines began to speak again. "What else do you like?"
"We aren't talking about this anymore. Go ask someone else about all this kinky crap, like your uncle Google or something."
"Google is not a relative of mine." Nines scooted closer to Gavin and waited for him to finish his drink, staring intently at his neck. "I will be gentle."
Gavin swallowed hard. "Whatever. Go for it. Maybe you can impress all your little android friends later when you guys do your weird interface orgy thing," Gavin snorted, darting his eyes away from Nines. He couldn't face him when he was about to be gagged. He sat there impatiently for a full two minutes before he growled and grabbed Nines' hand, placing it onto his throat. "Fucking do it already."
Something in Nines seemed to snap. His LED was a bright glare in the dimming parking lot and it cast a pink shade on his skin. He surged forward and pinned Gavin to the seat by his throat, holding him there and testing the pressure of his grip. "I like this."
Gavin flushed. Nines wasn't even squeezing or anything. He was just holding him in place and effortlessly keeping Gavin right where he wanted him. The closeness was what really got to him. Gavin felt Nines' chest pressing against his own, his heart thumping rapidly against his rib cage while Nines' pump synced up. "Me... me too. It kinda helps if you just..." He grabbed Nines' sleeve and placed the android's hand on his hip.
Nines gasped a little and he glanced down. Touching Gavin like this was really getting to him. He took his hand off of Gavin's throat and put his other hand on his hip. "I may like this better."
"How about this?" Gavin shifted Nines' palm lower, onto his thigh holster where he kept his gun. His eyes were hooded as he found the strength to stare at him.
After watching Gavin for a while, the android let his hands roam freely. One hand snuck further up Gavin's leg while his other tipped Gavin's chin back. The human placed both of his hands on Nines' shoulders to steady himself. "Um, Nines, this is kind of abnormal."
Nines whispered in his ear, "If this is what you consider to be abnormal, then I never wish to be normal again."
Gavin shivered and they resumed groping. Nines' fingers started to tuck themselves in the waistband of Gavin's jeans, making the human arch a bit, and Gavin could feel the brush of Nines' nose against his neck where his hands had just been. "Nines -"
His cellphone started to go off and the two of them separated quickly. Gavin was breathing unevenly as he dug through the pocket of his jacket to take it out, and Nines just stared at him in bewilderment. "Yeah, what? Hello?" A pause. "Connor, how many fucking times have I told you not to call this number?" Gavin huffed, not appreciating the interruption of whatever it was that he and Nines were doing. "No, I don't care." Gavin glanced at the RK900. "And? We fucking know about the virus already, plastic asshole. We're taking care of it."
Nines slowly placed his hand on Gavin's knee and he inched it upwards.
"Uh," Gavin said, his voice a bit shaky. "Okay. I'll tell him. Bye." He hung up and stared at the looming android. Some kind of dreamy mist was in Nines' eyes and they appeared a darker blue than usual. "Connor says for us to be back first thing in the morning."
The android only nodded, flickering his eyes to Gavin's lips and then back up to look at him. Gavin huffed and he brushed that one unruly hair away from Nines' forehead. What was happening? Why were they touching like this? Weren't they going out of order? People kissed first, then they touched.
"We should really get a room. I mean, find a room," Gavin corrected lamely.
Nines merely nodded, too lost in his thoughts to try and speak. He squeezed Gavin's leg once before letting him go and doing a search for hotels.
Meanwhile, Gavin was internally freaking out. What was that? More importantly, what was he thinking? Maybe that was the issue, though: he hadn't been thinking. Like, at all. He just let it happen. Hell, he encouraged it to happen. How about this? Had he seriously said that? To Nines? A robot?
As the car took off, Nines seemed to be in a fairly good mood. There was a faint smirk on his face and he seemed like a completely new android after he got to cop a feel of his first human. He had enjoyed how soft Gavin's skin was, and how his heart beat felt under his fingers. The rest of the ride was silent as he reflected on it, replaying the scene over and over in his head. Each time it got better to watch.
Gavin grabbed his small bag and left the running automobile before Nines could open the door for him. He didn't wait for him and he rushed to the lobby. "Could we have a double?" He asked. That meant two separate beds, which was a good idea because he and Nines definitely weren't sharing one.
An older woman with spectacles looked between the two of them, arching a single eyebrow. "All out."
"Do you have any singles?" Nines spoke up, his voice husky.
That was how Gavin ended up stumbling into a room and practically slamming the bathroom door shut. He leaned against it and exhaled. Nines was being really assertive about touching him and he wasn't sure if he was ready for that. He wanted it, though. Plus, it was like fate pushed him and Nines together when the hotel ran out of double beds.
He took a shower and even shaved. Why did he suddenly care whether he shaved or not? Gavin was panicking. He dried himself off and put on an old black shirt and some boxers, dialing Tina's number immediately. Gavin needed her help, and he was so lost that he didn't care that she would be teasing him about this later.
"Gav, do you know what time it is? I was trying to slee -"
"Nines touched me," he blurted.
"Did you say he touched y -"
Gavin gulped and glanced at the bathroom door, lowering his voice. "And I liked it. I liked it so much that I want him to do it again. We didn’t even kiss. Tina, you have to help me. This is all your fault."
”What? How is this my fault? Why do you sound so -“
"Conditioning! You conditioned me to like him and now I don't know what to do."
“I did what, exactly?”
“It’s when you take a biological stimulus like, uh... attraction. And then you pair it with a neutral stimulus, like - like your constant fucking teasing!” Gavin hissed, grasping his phone tightly. “And this stupid hotel only has one bed! One!”
“It looks like you’re going to have to share.”
“This isn’t a joke, Tina.”
“I’m not joking. Bye, Gavin! Good luck with your boyfriend,” she sang, and then the line went dead.
Chapter 8: Oversharing
Nines and Gavin spend the night together and return to Detroit by car. The audio processor is turned in for examination.
After Tina so rudely hung up on him and left him to suffer, Gavin opened the locked bathroom door. He poked his head out into the room for a second and he spotted Nines perching on the bed. Drawing in a careful breath, Gavin toweled off his dripping hair and he shuffled across the flat grey carpet. A cloud of steam followed behind him from the shower. Like most people, Gavin preferred to bathe in piping hot water.
“Hey, duts,” he said in a sultry tone, trying to be smooth. “I meant to say, uh… stud.” So much for that. He took the other side of the bed and pulled the thin white sheets over his lap. Gavin leaned against the head board and sent his mother a text good night. If she knew that they were sharing a bed, she would be hyperventilating. Her dream couple, coming true? Gavin really hoped that Tina hadn’t told anyone; gossip spread like an absolute wildfire at the precinct.
Nines’ eyes were glued on Gavin the minute he stepped foot into the bedroom area. He took in the sight of his dripping wet body and felt his fingers twitch. There was no possible way that he could have controlled the degree of longing and want in his silvery blue eyes. Once Gavin was comfortable in the bed, Nines leaned over to remove his shoes. He pulled off his white jacket and folded it neatly on the night stand. While Nines didn’t need to rest, he sometimes had to go into sleep mode to activate his updates. He was slower without them.
But he wasn’t planning to go into sleep mode right away. He carefully climbed over Gavin and he boxed him in on either side, burying his face into his neck to softly nuzzle at him. Nines’ hand returned to Gavin’s hip, though the sheets were a little in the way.
Gavin sucked in a breath and chuckled awkwardly. “Um… Nines?”
“Mm?” The android wondered distractedly, sighing passionately against his skin.
”Um…” His face started to become red as Nines’ hand wandered and he totally lost track of what he was going to say earlier. Gavin’s hands inched up Nines’ chest and rested on his shoulders. They were so broad and hard.
“If I had a rose for every time I thought of you, then I would be walking through a garden of them until the end of time,” Nines whispered by his ear.
Gavin blinked. “W-What?”
“The gaps between my fingers were meant for yours,” he added.
“Uh,” Gavin stammered, parting his lips. Was Nines flirting with him right now? “What do you mean?”
“I mean that if you were a vegetable, you would be called a cutecumber,” the android mused, pulling away from Gavin’s neck for a moment to stare at him.
“Nines, stop that,” he mumbled, more heat rising on his cheeks. “I’m not a vegetable.”
“Cutecumber,” Nines emphasized, squeezing Gavin’s hip. He tilted his head to the side and his lips curled into a happy little smile. He leaned in and brushed his lips onto Gavin’s cheek. Nines pulled away afterwards and gave Gavin some space, as if he was nervous about what he had just done.
Oh shit, this is bad. He’s cute, Gavin thought, reaching a hand up to touch the spot on his cheek that Nines had kissed.
Nines turned off the lights so that Gavin could sleep. He was laying on top of the comforter and his LED was glowing a deep yellow color, blinking in the dark room. His hands were folded neatly over his stomach and he generally looked very peaceful. “Good night, Detective Reed.”
Quella puntura di plastica, he thought.
[11:23 PM] tina. he just kissed me.
[11:24 PM] he did WHAT.
[11:24 PM] WHY
[11:25 PM] lips?
[11:26 PM] no. my cheek. what do i do???
[11:30 PM] kiss him back.
Gavin looked up from his phone and he turned the lights back on. Before Nines could comment or say a word, he moved in and kissed the android’s temple - right on top of his LED. “Good night,” he replied unevenly.
[11:34 PM] i did it. now what?
[11:35 PM] you actually kissed him???
[11:35 PM] on his stupid forehead. not a big deal.
[11:37 PM] don’t tell anyone.
[11:42 PM] connor knows.
[11:42 PM] wtf tina?!! you told?
[11:46 PM] no, nines shared
He turned to look at Nines, who was reeling from Gavin's small kiss. “Connor knows?”
The RK900 sheepishly nodded. “Yes, I asked Connor for advice.”
The anger that Gavin was starting to feel had disappeared. “Advice? For what? For kissing a human? What would Connor know about that?” He scrunched up his nose in slight disgust. “What else do you talk to Connor about?”
“Software updates. Detective Reed, I remember that we told your mother we were going to go on a date to placate her,” Nines said quickly, a bit out of breath. It was almost as if he had been holding it in that entire time. “I am going to take you to a museum in Detroit. The Detroit Institute of Arts. They have works by Vincent van Gogh, and Caravaggio. I would like to continue our date by going back to your apartment. To paint. I want to try it.”
A museum date? Nines? Painting? Gavin nodded a little to himself. He had to give Nines credit for being so observant. “I remember that. I was going to go on a date with you,” he recalled. “We’ll go on uh… What’s today?”
“Today is Thursday, but in twenty-one minutes it will be Friday.”
“We’ll go on Saturday.”
Nines practically radiated joy. He turned out the light again and moved into Gavin’s personal space, tugging the human to his chest.
The night passed by quickly, both of them sound asleep. Soon Gavin was stirring that morning and getting out of bed to dress himself. He pulled on his usual type of outfit: jeans, a shirt, and his leather jacket. Before he put it on, though, he noticed Nines’ white jacket still folded up neatly on the nightstand. The android was in sleep mode, so Gavin took a chance and he grabbed it to try it on. Just as Gavin had suspected, it was too big on him.
“I admire you in my clothing,” Nines piped up from the bed, making his partner jump.
”I was -“ Gavin attempted, his voice catching when he spotted Nines' hair standing up on all ends. It was like a bird's nest and very adorable. He chuckled for a second and walked over to him, brushing his fingers through Nines' hair to smooth it out. But what had given him the right to do such a thing? What kind of touching wasn't okay?
“Wear it. We should leave. The complimentary human breakfast is now only available for thirty minutes and fifteen seconds.” Nines tied his shoes and stood up to his full height, approaching Gavin and backing him up into the wall. He leaned down and kissed Gavin’s cheek again.
Upon descending the elevator, they saw that there was a crowd for breakfast. Gavin grabbed a cup of coffee and a banana (which was the wrong fruit to choose judging by the heated look Nines gave him) and he ate it on the way outside. Nines had called a taxi car again, so apparently they weren’t going to have to go on a plane. When they arrived at the parking lot, Nines held the door open for Gavin.
Before he climbed in, Gavin stood on his toes and gave Nines a peck on his jaw. They seemed to be trading kisses now, taking turns. Once Nines was in the car as well and they began to move, Gavin received another kiss. This time it was on the corner of his lips, just barely there. He fidgeted for a moment in Nines’ jacket before he took out his phone.
[8:56 AM] help.
[8:59 AM] what is it now?
[9:04 AM] i like him. it’s annoying.
[9:05 AM] are you guys making out yet?
[9:06 AM] no.
[9:06 AM] gross.
Gavin glanced at Nines.
[9:13 AM] he’s letting me wear his stupid jacket.
[9:16 AM] aw, that’s cute. your mom wants to see.
[9:22 AM] are you fucking telling people? tina, tell me you’re not.
[9:24 AM] relax. she just wants to see you in it.
[9:30 AM] tell her to leave the precinct.
[9:35 AM] no. she organized your desk for you.
He huffed guiltily and turned to look at the android again. Nines met his gaze and the pair held a staring contest. Gavin slowly put his phone on his seat and he unbuckled.
“Detective Reed, it is unsafe for you to -“
Gavin plopped down into Nines’ lap and wrapped his arms around his neck, watching the LED change red. “What was that, tin can? Something about me not being safe?” He asked, arching an eyebrow.
“I revoke my previous statement,” Nines eventually replied, choosing to place both of his hands onto Gavin’s hips. “Is it custom for humans to kiss before the first date?”
“Humans can kiss whenever they fucking want to,” he murmured, his breath hitching as Nines’ fingers played with the band of his old jeans. “You know what Tina thinks we’re doing? Making out.”
Nines swallowed hard. “Oh, she does?”
“Yeah,” he whispered. “Voglio baciarti.”
The android tilted his head to the side. He was about to close the gap between them when suddenly Gavin’s phone began to ring, totally interrupting their moment. Nines frowned with frustration and he squeezed Gavin’s hips as the human leaned over to grab the device. Nines glared at the phone with offense.
“Hello?” Gavin asked, feeling impatient as well.
”My boy! Tu sei con lui?” Sofia asked. “And you’ve put on his jacket? Giacca?”
Gavin sighed and placed his hand onto Nines’ chest. “Yeah, I’m wearing it right now. What has Tina been telling you?”
Tina and Chris could be heard in the background, making marriage jokes about them. Sofia chimed in for a second before she replied to Gavin. "She says you will send me a fotografia, a picture. Ah, voglio vedere!"
"Ugh, look, I have to go. I'm really busy. Thanks for my desk. Grazie, ma. Hai fatto bene." Gavin traced patterns into Nines' collar bone as he spoke on the phone. The android leaned in and started to press kisses onto his neck, making Gavin's eyes flutter shut.
"Fotografia!" Sofia reminded.
Gavin shivered and carded a hand through Nines' hair. "Okay, okay. But only one. Una foto, niente di più. I have to g-go... ti amo." He hung up and gasped a bit once he felt Nine's tongue. "Is this, ah... another dna sample?"
"No," Nines mumbled, backing away from his neck to stare. His hands drifted and he greedily cupped his rear, squeezing and pulling Gavin the slightest bit closer. "Humans have a very dynamic, pleasing texture."
"Uh, okay," Gavin replied, hugging Nines' neck. The car stopped a little harder than it needed to as they approached a red light, and Gavin sucked in a surprised breath as Nines' grip remained tight on him, keeping him from getting hurt.
This whole situation was weird, but the fact of the matter was that Nines was really good at making Gavin feel happy. His lips returned to Gavin's neck. "My brother told me that humans enjoy hickeys. Is that a true statement?"
Gavin's face screwed up with discomfort. "Ew, Nines. Don't bring up Connor right now." He leaned his head to the side to expose his neck, waiting for Nines to give him attention. Whenever he was with the android, he was never ignored. It was nice. Maybe now that they were dating Nines would start doting on him.
"Your mother wanted a picture?" Nines asked, leaving yet another cluster of kisses behind.
"Of me in your jacket," Gavin clarified, his voice breaking off with a low moan when Nines started on his first hickey. He tugged at his hair to try and get him closer, breathing raggedly. After Nines was done and he pulled away, Gavin could feel the love bite throbbing pleasurably.
The android's eyes were heavy with desire upon seeing the mark he left. It was a little red and purpling, and it was in the shape of his mouth. And, to Nines' delight, it wouldn't be easy for Gavin to hide. They would be walking into the department just like this.
Nines grabbed Gavin's phone and snapped a photograph of him in the jacket. "For your mother," Nines said, showing him the image. "I left out the hickey. She, along with many others, will have the chance to see it later. While we are on this subject, I would like to leave another." He dove in and started to work on a second one, mouthing at Gavin's clavicle.
"Oh fuck," Gavin breathed, his hands shaking a little as he clutched at the android.
"Are you opposed to a third?"
"No, uh. Go for it," he encouraged, panting softly.
Nines left one more on his collar, right next to the other one he made. He enjoyed making Gavin squirm and coaxing limitless noises out of him.
"Ugn... you plastic bastard. You know exactly what you're doing to me," Gavin moaned, sinking forward as Nines trailed more kisses up his neck. He tried to return the favor, but it was hard for him to focus whenever Nines was doing this to him. "I need..." he trailed off, his gaze hooded.
"You need to buckle your seat belt," Nines finished for him, a light smirk on his face.
"Well, you need to let go of my ass."
Nines squeezed a bit harder before he released Gavin completely. He pressed three kisses to his neck and his cheek beforehand. "I quite like it, Detective Reed."
"I like you, Nines."
"You're supposed to say that you like me too," Gavin told him, his cheeks starting to burn up once more. He sighed, climbed off of Nines' lap to sit in his own seat, and buckled himself in.
"I like you, too," Nines said, his eyes twinkling as he tacked on the word, "darling."
Gavin rolled his eyes. "Oh, great. It's not Detective Reed any more, it's Darling Reed."
"Darling," Nines said, raising both eyebrows and tilting Gavin's chin toward him.
Most of the ride back home consisted of Gavin sleeping on Nines or the two of them sharing kisses. They never touched lips, though they were close. Nines was confident about groping. Gavin had a fresh hickey on the other side of his neck and he was very flushed by the time that Nines was done with him. He was a smiling mess even whenever they got back to Detroit and they were in the parking lot.
Nines let Gavin keep his jacket as they walked inside together toward the bull pen. His hand was resting innocently on the small of Gavin's back.
Everyone was staring.
At first Gavin thought it was because of the intense hickeys, or maybe the fact that he was wearing Nines' jacket. He hadn't expected looks from people just because he was smiling. It wasn't that unusual for him to smile, was it?
Gavin sat down at his desk. Nothing could ruin his day, he was sure of it. And then Connor was striding toward his and Nines' desks.
"Your mother is in the break room with Chris," Connor said, briefly glancing over at RK900. It was obvious that Connor wanted Gavin to leave so that they could talk. So, begrudgingly, Gavin left them alone and he went to see his mother. Tina, Chris, and Sofia were all conversing, and his mother had brought... the book.
"Ma, why the fuck is that here?" Gavin asked quickly, shuffling forward in an attempt to close it.
Sofia held the book away from him. "Chris asked me to see your baby pictures and some paintings the next time I came to visit," she said, "and watch your imprecando, mio figilio."
Gavin groaned and covered his face with his hands, blushing deeply whenever Tina pointed out the marks on his neck. He had hoped that no one would notice the hickeys. Of course Nines just had to put them in places that Gavin couldn't hide.
"Succhiotto? Cos'è quello? Gavin!" Sofia gasped, placing the book back on the table. She went to him and lifted up the collar of the jacket to see them. "Nines vuole sposarsi. A wedding. My boy is having a wedding!"
"What? No -"
"Everybody, il mio figlio si sta per sposare!" Sofia cried.
"We're not getting married! We were just kissing," Gavin argued, and he shut up whenever he saw Chris and Tina gaping at him.
Sofia held a hand over her lips as she fought a gasp. "Baci? Quanto?" She asked, desperate to know the answer. Now that Gavin was getting more involved with Nines, she wanted to know more. "l'androide italiano è un buon baciatore, no?"
"I don't want to talk about this," Gavin said, grabbing the baby picture and paintings book. His mother had made it herself. The pages were littered with images of Gavin as a young boy. One picture was of him standing on the coast in Italy when he was ten, holding up an Acciuga fish off of his fishing line. Another was of him dressing up as a ghost for Halloween, a sheet over his head because they couldn't afford any other costumes. One was of him as a teenager after just finishing a painting, and he had cadmium yellow paint on his cheek. These were the days before he got a scar on his face and became addicted to coffee.
Gavin sat down at his desk, the book in his arms. Connor and Nines were still talking in hushed tones, but if Gavin listened closely he could hear snippets of information.
"...haven't... Gavin yet? Why...done it... It's vital!" Connor said, holding a hand up.
Nines seemed nervous and he was having trouble replying. "I should have, but I... and Gavin was... so it never happened. Should I try to do it?"
"Hey, glorified toaster, I'm right here. Why don't you just ask me instead of getting help from Connor, of all people?" Gavin asked, resting his head on his hand. "What is it that you haven't done?"
Nines pointed to his own lips. He was going to say something, but then Sofia approached them. Now that Nines was seated, she could reach him. Gavin's mother gave him a hug and then kissed both of his cheeks.
"Ah, the marito," she mused.
"Detective Reed and I are not married," Nines explained, and Sofia just smiled knowingly.
"Cinna and Bruno are doing okay."
"Thanks for watching them, ma," Gavin sincerely told her while he dug through his bag for Celeste's faulty audio processor. He handed it over to Nines to let him deal with it. "Before you ask, Nines and I have a date on Saturday."
Sofia was about to cry because she was so happy.
"A date?" Connor asked incredulously.
"Yeah, Nines is taking me out," Gavin said, like it wasn't a big deal. He peeked over at Nines and sighed, as red in the face as ever. "We're going to a museum. But don't tell anyone."
"Fortunately." Nines beamed at his partner from the mere mention of their upcoming date. He held out his hand across from their desks with invitation. Gavin huffed and he slotted their fingers together, but only for a brief moment because he got embarrassed. He left the bull pen with Nines to take the processor down to the evidence room.
Nines trailed after him and kissed his ear, and Gavin kissed his neck. They traded a few more before they arrived. Gavin filed it correctly and wrote a label for the bag in black sharpie. He finished and was about to go back up when Nines pulled him away from the door. "Detective, I am anticipating our date."
"It's tomorrow," Gavin reminded him. "I'll see you at six, right?"
"Yes. Set an audio alarm so that you can avoid another... incident," Nines replied, kissing Gavin's cheek again.
"I won't be late," Gavin huffed. He stood on the tips of his toes and kissed Nines' temple two more rounds before he grabbed his hand and dragged him upstairs back to work.
Just as Gavin was collecting his things to go, Nines walked over to him to whisper in his ear. "Hold on to my jacket for me."
Chapter 9: Gallery
After their first date, Gavin gets inspired to paint.
That night after work, Gavin drove himself home. He greeted his pets and gave them some dinner, and then he climbed up onto the couch with Bruno. For the most part, Cinna ignored him, as she was too occupied with climbing around on the furniture. Gavin flicked on the television and watched the news, reading a few headlines off of WXYZ as the news anchor shuffled her notes.
“Welcome to WXYZ. I’m Georgia Wilkes,” she greeted, her big brown eyes scanning some messages before she listed off what was going on. “Tonight, we have breaking news about a recall from Cyberlife.” Georgia stared directly into the camera with a neutral expression. “Newly freed androids are being sabotaged with expensive bio component parts that contain the Culpatus virus, which causes aggressive behavior and violence.”
“Tell me something I don’t fucking know,” Gavin huffed. He waited until she shifted stories, just in case.
“The new iPhone-twenty is now foldable, but many consumers worry that they may break the device.”
“Okay, that is so old news and Apple needs to stop,” Gavin muttered, rubbing behind Bruno’s pointed ears and changing the channel. “I mean, seriously, what’s with editors these days putting out the same old information? It’s like when Disney did all those live action remakes because they couldn’t make a new empowering princess film. But no one is ever allowed to hate on Disney.” He sat up in his seat a bit when he saw something that piqued his interest.
“According to Tech Addict, a study has been conducted at Cyberlife’s lab about android and human relationships. Their findings so far have shocked many scientists: the majority of androids are shy romantics. Often times humans will need to make the first move. Another study has found that, with the amount of tactile updates being made, androids are eager lovers.”
Gavin’s eyebrows drew together. Was that why he and Nines weren’t kissing on the lips yet? It was because Nines, a military android who could throw a car like it was a baseball, was shy? Well, the part about androids being eager lovers was fairly accurate, so maybe there was some truth to these supposed studies.
He went to bed early, still pondering what he had seen on the news even as he fell asleep. Gavin managed to rest four hours. He really needed to see a doctor about his insomnia issues and his constant craving for caffeine.
His phone buzzed loudly on his dresser the next morning and he sat up with a heavy groan to see who was calling him. It was ten o’clock already?
Something suddenly went off in his head. What was important about today? Oh, yeah: his first date with Nines. Gavin quickly looked down at his phone to see who it was and he winced when the screen was too bright for his dim bedroom. His eyes were now really fucked up. Bruno whined from the floor upon hearing Gavin curse and mash his thumb on the answer button. ”Hello? Yes? What the fuck is it?”
”It is Connor.”
”I thought I told you not to call this damn number, you -“
“Nines,” Connor interrupted. “He’s very nervous about the date tonight.”
Gavin blinked in surprise. “Why’s he so nervous? He sounded perfectly fine yesterday. I think I remember him saying something about anticipating it. Is he backing out on me? Wait, why am I talking about this with you? Where’s Nines?”
“He’s pacing in Lieutenant Anderson’s living room.”
Connor sighed heavily. There was a bit of shuffling, and Gavin guessed that Connor had closed himself off in the bathroom because there was a slight echo. “As I told you less than eight seconds ago, Nines is very nerv -“
“- nervous about our date tonight, I know,” Gavin said, a bit impatiently. “Tell him not to be nervous, and that we’re just going to have fun."
"Fun is not necessarily an adjective that I would associate with you, Detective Reed, but I understand what you could potentially mean if you were a completely different person.”
“Asshole,” Gavin muttered.
“I've attempted to soothe him three times and he hasn't responded accordingly. Perhaps if he heard your obnoxious voice he would feel better."
"Give him the phone, dipshit. And stop it with the sass.”
There was a bit of shuffling before Nines' voice was heard. "Detective Reed?"
"Listen to me, Nines. I'm one hundred percent that bitch, okay? Do you know what that means?" Gavin asked, going through his closet to find some clothes to wear on their date. What would someone wear to a museum? Some kind of sweater? Nines' jacket was draped over the back of his desk chair, so he supposed that he would wear that.
"No?" Nines replied uncertainly.
"I got boy problems, that's the human in me."
"Detective Reed, I don't -"
"It's Lizzo. Truth Hurts. C'mon," Gavin sighed. "That was the shit in 2019. Since we can’t talk about our feelings, we're going old school and solving our issues with music lyrics."
"You coulda had a bad bitch, non-committal?" Nines asked slowly, as if he was reading through the lyrics. He totally looked them up. What a dork.
"Exactly. There you go."
Nines bit his lip. "I don't like dates. They give me instability errors."
"Take it easy, champ. We're going to see some art, and then make some of our own. You better have a good idea of what you're going to paint with me, because we’re sharing a canvas,” Gavin said, his lips curling into a silly smile. He was smiling a lot lately, ever since he and Nines started dating. But that raised the question - were they dating? Nines had mentioned that they were doing this for Gavin's mom… No, he was overthinking it. Gavin was going to go into this fully expecting to get his heart broken.
"Okay," Nines exhaled, his voice sounding a lot less angsty.
Gavin felt better. "Okay," he repeated. "So, here's what's going to happen. Change of plans. Stay where you are and I'll come over there to pick you up at five o'clock, not six. We'll head over to the museum together and check it out. Then, uh... we'll go back to my place and paint. You can say hi to my nice dog and my rude cat."
"Animals cannot verbally communicate in a comprehensive manner," Nines blurted.
"You know what I mean, smart ass." Gavin leaned over to find a pair of shoes, balancing his phone in the junction between his ear and his shoulder. "I've gotta go. I'll see you later. Don't freak out. Remember, you're a bad bitch."
"I'm a bad bitch," Nines said, his voice lighter than it had been. "Goodbye, darling."
Gavin blushed at the nickname and he quickly hung up the phone. He had pieced together a decent outfit to wear to the museum. Despite the fact that it was ten o'clock in the morning, he felt the need to go ahead and get ready. He laid out everything on his bed to mull it over. It was the same outfit he always wore, but the jeans were nicer and he was going to have on Nines' jacket. He took a shower, brushed his teeth, and hurried to shave once again. It was nearing eleven by the time he was done. Now it was his turn to start panicking.
[11:34 AM] i'm dying.
[11:34 AM] no you're not.
[11:36 AM] how do you know that? i could be.
[11:39 AM] is your date still happening?
[11:41 AM] duh.
[11:45 AM] you're going to have to give me the juicy details later.
[11:53 AM] Dovrei essere preoccupato? Dopo tutto è un androide e ci sono così tante cose che non so su di loro.
[11:54 AM] you know that i don't speak italian. now you're just being a douche nozzle.
[11:58 AM] fuck off. i'm not telling you shit, that's why i wrote it in italian.
[11:59 AM] you're no fun.
[12:02 PM] that prick connor said the same thing.
[12:03 PM] when's your date?
[12:07 PM] at five, now. i made it an hour earlier.
[12:11 PM] aw, that's sweet. you couldn't wait an extra sixty minutes to see him. it's like romeo and juliet, except you're both romeo and you don't die at the end.
[12:28 PM] ok, now that i'm thinking about it, you aren’t like romeo and juliet at all.
[12:31 PM] thanks a lot.
Gavin tucked his phone into his back pocket and sat down on his bed. Cinna hopped up and curled her orange tail around his wrist. "I guess I'd better get the painting stuff set up too, huh?" He asked no one in particular as he stroked the purring feline.
Normally Gavin had everything in the living room, but it had been a while since he had last picked up a brush. His old paintings were in a stack in his closet. He grabbed his easel and placed a blank canvas onto it that was over three feet wide and two feet tall. He taped the edges to keep the paint from spilling over and he dug through his cabinet for gesso. Gavin covered the canvas with the thick primer and let it dry. He thumbed through his shelf to find different colors for them to mix and a set of well-used brushes. He wasn't sure what he and Nines were going to paint together, but he was excited to do it with someone else. Painting alone could be nice at times, but for the most part it was remarkably lonely and it was hard for him to get inspired.
He cleaned up the house a bit, gessoed the canvas again for good measure, and he played with his pets. Now that he had nothing else to do, Gavin waited around for several hours just wondering what it was going to be like to date someone like Nines. An android. He couldn’t believe how much he had changed in the past week alone. Nines had such a personality. At first they were butting heads a bit and he was really resistant to work with him, but now they were apparently inseparable. If tonight went well, maybe they would be attached at the hip.
Gavin didn’t want to think about that yet, though. He wasn’t ready. Nines wasn’t either, or so he thought. They had both expressed enthusiasm about it and they were comfortable with their bodies, but not that.
It was infuriating because everyone at the precinct had been right: Gavin and Nines were together. Again, there was still a little voice in the back of Gavin's mind telling him that it wasn't real because they were only doing this for his mother, but those lingering kisses and intimate touches that he and Nines had been sharing told a completely different story. Gavin didn't just let anyone do that to him. And Nines, he was really a gentleman.
It was strange how time passed by quicker after Gavin started thinking about him. He put on his nice clothes and Nines’ jacket, and he left his apartment. Immediately he was confronted with chilly weather. He hated how Detroit could be really ideal one day and then blisteringly cold or rainy the next. Gavin was thankful that he was wearing Nines’ jacket because it was definitely insulated.
The streets were busy, but that was to be expected as more and more people went out to celebrate not having to work. Gavin loved that he got Saturday off this time, but every other weekend he would have to take the night shift. It sucked, but sometimes if he and Tina got the same shift at night then they would stay up and tell scary stories. Gavin claimed that the department was haunted. No, Gavin wasn’t childish. He simply liked to be entertained.
“Screw you too!” He shouted, honking his horn when some random driver flipped him off. What a great start to this date. He pulled into the driveway to Hank’s house, which was awkward as fuck, but whatever. Gavin knocked on the door and was greeted by a worried Nines, who had a red LED. Was he holding… flowers?
“The lavender is for devotion, and the red tulips are for…” Nines swallowed hard, trying to form the right words. “They’re for romantic reasons. And the Chrysanthemum are for honesty.” He nervously shoved the flowers at Gavin’s chest.
“Huh,” Gavin muttered, his lips curling into a smile. He wasn’t a flowers type of guy, but he really appreciated the effort that Nines put into the bouquet. Devotion, romance, and honesty? Sign Gavin up for that.
Nines sighed with relief when he saw that Gavin liked them, and he noticed the human had put on his jacket. It filled Nines with a great sense of satisfaction to see Gavin in his clothing. The hickeys were still there, too. Gavin looked ravishing with them.
”Before you go,” Connor said to his younger sibling, “I need to speak with him.”
Gavin was being hauled inside the house by his arm before he could say another word. The front door slammed shut. Hank was standing in the kitchen wearing a faded blue bathrobe, dark red boxers, and a stained white t-shirt. Sumo was laying on his bed. Connor was in Gavin’s face. “What the fuck? Are you insane? I’m trying to go on a date and you’re -“
“Hurt him, and I will not hesitate to remove your limbs and stuff them into Hank’s freezer.”
“I didn’t agree to that, Con,” Hank muttered as he sipped from a mug.
Gavin rolled his eyes. “Connor, shut up. I’m not going to hurt him. Do you really think I can hurt him anyway, even if I tried? He’s stronger and faster, and I can’t outrun him.”
“I didn’t mean physically. I meant emotionally. Do not toy with him or make him feel inferior,” the RK800 said, poking Gavin hard in his chest. His brown eyes were cold and serious. “If I find out that somehow you have, I will not hesitate,” he said again.
“Okay, okay. Relax. Sei un pazzo figlio di puttana.”
“Do not say that word while Sumo is in this house,” Connor added. He opened the front door and put on a cheerful expression to reassure Nines. He shoved Gavin a little too hard. “Try to be home by midnight.”
“Dude, he’s literally built to be the same age as you. What are you talking about? Nines can just stay over or something,” Gavin snorted, grabbing the tall android’s hand.
“Unprotected sex is dangerous.”
“Not that it’s any of your damn business, but I haven’t slept with a guy. So Nines is going to be fine. We’re just painting, for fuck’s sake. C’mon, Nines. Let’s get out of here.” Gavin frowned heavily, glaring over his shoulder at Connor as his cheeks flushed with embarrassment. What had gotten into him? Even when Connor was angry, he never was that angry. “You should scan him for that virus.”
Nines blinked at Gavin in surprise. He was honestly feeling overwhelmed by the entire exchange that just went on.
“He said he’d stuff my limbs in Anderson’s fridge if I hurt you.”
“Connor is very fierce when he needs to be,” Nines defended. “He does not have the virus, he is only being protective because of your undesirable… history with him.”
Gavin climbed into the passenger seat and handed the keys to Nines. “I don’t know. Connor seemed pretty on board with us being together a few days ago.”
“He was teasing, then,” Nines said quietly. “Connor values family and friends above all else.”
“Isn’t that sweet?” Gavin snorted. “Well, I probably would’ve done the same thing as him if I had a little brother.”
Nines started the car and they started making their way to the museum. Their date had sort of started on a tense note, so Gavin turned on the radio to try and diffuse everything.
Sometimes by Goth Babe was on. Gavin chuckled to himself. “Teenage years,” he mumbled. It played for a while, and then they changed the channel to something else when some advertisements came on. The android seemed to be processing something because his LED was glowing yellow.
“Darling Reed. Remember?”
“Oh. Yes, I mean darling,” Nines corrected, turning on the right blinker. “I would just like to tell you that seeing you in my clothing is very arousing and psychologically satisfying.”
“Um, thanks. I think. You look good, too. Really good. But you always do. I’d kiss you all the time if I could.”
Nines’ LED became red once more as his mind was flooded with the implications of Gavin’s words. “I appreciate that, my darling,” he whispered. The vehicle was pulled into a parking lot. Not that many people were at the museum, so they really could enjoy their date without worrying about crowds as much.
Gavin was about to exit the car when Nines dashed out and opened it for him at lightning speed. “Oh, shit. You’re so fucking fast.” Nines held out a hand for Gavin, but he pushed it out of the way in favor of getting up on his toes to properly kiss Nines’ cheek for his unrelenting chivalry. “Grazie amore mio,” he whispered by his ear.
They walked into the museum together and started looking around. The collection was impressive and Gavin looked at each piece with Nines by his side. He inched closer to him and Nines ended up grabbing his hand and slotting their fingers together. Gavin blushed, but he didn’t let go.
“I like this one,” Nines said, gesturing to a Vincent van Gogh painting. “The colors are... green is the best one, I believe.”
“Your favorite color is green?” Gavin asked. His face bloomed with red upon hearing that, because his eyes had some green in them. Could that be part of the reason why Nines happened to like it? “I personally like blue, or red.”
”Red is the color of love, or fire,” Nines told him in response, his eyes darting from the painting to the shorter man. “And blue is one of strength or loyalty. I can see the appeal, and how your favorite colors apply to your personality traits.”
“What about your favorite color?”
“Green is meant to be a color of growth, safety, and balance,” Nines explained, squeezing Gavin’s hand. “And I see it in your eyes, which is part of what makes that color so special to me.”
“Stop,” Gavin choked out, embarrassed.
Nines smirked confidently and led Gavin down the hall, the white walls littered with paintings and sculptures. “Why would I stop when you make such endearing expressions?”
“If you call me a cutecumber again then I’m going to lose it,” Gavin huffed, but he was smiling nonetheless.
They toured the rest of the museum together and Nines drove back to Gavin’s place. By then, it was a few minutes past seven. He pushed the key into the lock and let Nines walk in first. Bruno was standing right at the door, looking at Nines sweetly. His tail wagged in a friendly manner and he boofed softly, mouthing at Nines’ hands. Cinna hopped down from the top of the fridge and she walked over to do some figure-eights between Nines’ ankles. It was a really good sign to Gavin that his pets liked Nines. Animals knew who the good people were in the world.
He shut the door and locked it behind him. “If you want, you can make yourself at home on the couch. I’m going to change clothes so we can get started,” Gavin said, fidgeting by the door and kicking off his shoes. He was a bit nervous for Nines to see his living space.
“You have a very agreeable place of residence, Detective Reed.”
“It’s not much,” Gavin confessed, shrugging off Nines’ white jacket with a light chuckle.
Nines turned around to gaze down at him. “I would like to assist you in finding something more comfortable to wear,” he said, backing Gavin into the door. He leaned down and kissed his neck very softly. “Do you concur?”
“Sure, I concur,” Gavin replied after thinking for a moment. It would be better if they weren’t separated because he wouldn’t feel the pressure of Nines waiting on him. He led the android toward his bedroom area and unbuttoned his jeans, rifling through his dresser for some pants that he could afford to get dirty. He could feel Nines standing directly behind him, and soon there were a set of familiar hands on his hips and a mouth on his neck. “Hey, big guy, give me a second,” he uttered breathily.
Nines purred. “Certainly, detective…” he trailed off, giving him some room. His hands remained, though.
Gavin peered back at him and arched an eyebrow. “Someone’s getting a little handsy tonight. È carino però.”
The android’s LED burned yellow and he offered the human a bashful shrug, releasing his hips and looking the other way to give him some privacy. This granted Gavin a small window to get changed. Once he was ready, he went into the living room and showed Nines the temporary studio set up.
“Clever,” Nines remarked, touching the edges of the prepared canvas.
Gavin chuckled, poured out six different paints from their tubes, and then dipped his paintbrush in a cup of water. “Whenever you work with acrylics, you should always try to keep the brush damp,” he said. “It prevents airy strokes, and it will help with uh, keeping everything how it should be. At least, that’s what I think.”
“Of course,” Nines said. He stared at the six Golden brand paint colors that Gavin had put out: hansa yellow, cadmium yellow, ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, quinacridone magenta, and cadmium red. There was a tub of clear heavy gel gloss medium, and gloss glazing liquid. “What are these used for, Detective Reed?”
“Huh? Oh. Right. Well, the colors are important. You have to be careful about which ones you use, because some go especially well together. The hansa and cadmium yellow aren’t the same. Hansa yellow is kind of neon, and lemony. Cadmium yellow is warmer.”
“And what about the blues?”
“Ultramarine blue is like, uh… a standard blue. Sorta. It can be sort of violet-like. Phthalo blue is really strong and it’s almost greenish. You never want to use too much phthalo because it's strong as fuck.”
“And the reds?”
“I hardly ever use quinacridone magenta. Mostly I use cadmium red.”
“What are the glosses for?”
“Heavy gel is for, like… if you want transparent layers. It also extends your paint, so you can spread it out more. The glazing liquid is for - it’s like when you use a camera, and you put a filter over it. So, let’s say you paint a white flower - you could put red glazing liquid on it and make it pink.”
Nines tilted his head to the side as the information sank in. “I have an idea of what I will paint, now.”
“Perfect. Let’s get some paint on here,” Gavin mused, slapping it on messily. He preferred to cover up every inch of it and then work the smaller details later on. He couldn’t believe that he was actually painting with someone else, and an android no less.
Nines seemed out of his element, but very curious. “How will I get a black color, Detective Reed?”
“Mix every color together in equal amounts. I always put just a little more phthalo blue in mine, though.” Gavin hummed as he saw a second paint brush moving alongside his own.
Nines stood behind him, one hand wrapped around his paint brush and the other curled around Gavin. He seemed to enjoy painting because it gave him control, and it also gave him the excuse to be pressed close to his human. Nines eventually put down his brush in favor of lavishing Gavin with attention. He pressed small kisses onto the side of his face and his neck.
“You aren’t painting,” Gavin breathed, his eyes fluttering shut for just a moment.
“I’m simply focusing on another masterpiece that deserves my attention,” Nines whispered. And damn, he was so smooth about it.
Gavin worked and kept on getting distracted, but that was okay. He didn’t even realize that he was painting Nines until halfway through. The android eventually stopped kissing to watch Gavin paint, still hugging him close. Nines stiffened when he realized what Gavin was creating, and he beamed.
It took a few hours, but when Gavin deemed his work had reached completion he placed his brushes in the muddy water cup to soak. He turned around in Nines’ arms and stared up at him. “What do you, uh… think?”
Nines sighed and something seemed to soften in his eyes. “Absolutely extraordinary, my darling. Just like you.”
Gavin laughed outright. “You’re deranged if you think that I’m anything close to ext-“
“You are,” Nines argued without hesitation.
Deviously, Gavin dipped two fingers into the green paint and he marked Nines’ cheek with it. A challenge was in his eyes. “What’re you going to do about that, tin can?” In response, Nines blinked with surprise.
Gavin could see him about to do the same thing, so he ducked out of Nines’ reach and hurried breathily to the other side of the room, across from the couch. Nines squinted at him and they both stared at each other, waiting for the other person to move. Because Nines was a mad genius with preconstructing android skills, he managed to get Gavin trapped in a corner. As he approached the laughing human, Nines ran a streak of purple over his forehead. “Asshole,” he muttered in a lovable tone.
Nines was kissing him.
He had one purple hand on Gavin’s cheek, and another curled around his waist. Nines had to lean down and the angle was awkward, but Gavin didn’t care. The kiss was tentative and sweet. Gavin wrapped one arm around Nines’ neck, smearing hansa yellow and ultramarine over the android’s skin. He moaned and snickered, but then the kiss seemed to transform into something else - something that he couldn’t laugh about anymore.
Nines was groaning against their mouths and pulling Gavin flush against him. They broke away when Gavin had to breathe, their eyes meeting, and then they started kissing again. Paint smeared over their skin and clothes as they touched and kissed. Nothing else seemed to matter at that moment. If kissing this android meant that he would be covered with paint, then he would dump a whole can of it onto himself.
Gavin broke away again, panting hard and hiding his rosy face in Nines’ neck. This wasn’t how he expected their first kiss would go; it was better. It had so much indescribable passion. He wanted to do it again, so he did. They were soon making out and it was amazing. Nines’ lips were soft, softer than Gavin’s, and Nines smiled whenever he kissed him because he was just so happy. Gavin was happy too.
That was how they spent the rest of their date: sitting on Gavin’s couch, holding hands, and kissing fervently. It went on until eleven-thirty whenever Nines had to head back to Anderson’s house to meet Connor’s midnight curfew. Even when they were parked outside of the house they were kissing. Nines had to be the one to break away, claiming that he would be late, so Gavin walked with him to the front door.
And then they kissed until Gavin’s watch hit midnight.
[12:05 AM] tina? i think i love him.
Chapter 10: Confections
If RK900 had a stomach, then butterflies would be residing there - especially since Saturday evening. Gavin struggles with feelings of doubt and receives a surprise visit.
Still reeling about having kissed Nines, Gavin drove himself home that night. In no time he was standing under his shower head and watching as the crusts of dried paint disappeared down the drain. His lips were tingling from all of their kisses and his skin felt too warm. He dried off and was soon laying in bed, staring at Nines’ jacket draped on the back of his desk chair. Everything was a blur after that and he fell asleep, waking up to the sound of his phone buzzing. He really needed to start turning it off.
[6:54 AM] wait WHAT???
[6:55 AM] you love him. this is serious.
[6:59 AM] come over because we’re talking.
[7:03 AM] do i have a choice??
[7:03 AM] no.
[7:05 AM] fine. what time?
[7:08 AM] how about five or six? you know, the same time your little date with the terminator was.
[7:09 AM] i’ll be there.
Gavin left his room and went to grab some breakfast for himself and his pets. Bruno was on the couch again in his normal spot, and Cinna was curled up in a ball in the kitchen (like a cinnamon roll, which was very fitting). He poured their food and placed the bowls on the floor, and then he made himself some cereal and coffee. Gavin had at least four or five boxes of them in his cabinets so that he would never run out. Coffee was the best. Once he had tried to stop drinking it, and he immediately got the shakes and a horrible migraine.
Bruno came over and started chowing down, but Cinna took her time. Gavin walked into the living room and sat down on the couch, and his face burned up as images of their date flashed back to him. His cereal was soggy by the time he was done thinking about Nines, and even so he thought about him as he ate. Gavin couldn't get him out of his head.
He really wanted to see him again.
Gavin didn't want to look too desperate, though. He needed to give Nines some space, that way the android wouldn't grow tired of him. That was what usually happened. People left him after promising that they would stay. He had so many abandonment issues, and issues with trust because he had been cheated on. Once he kept on dating a girl that he knew was cheating on him because he was so worried that he would never find anyone to love him again.
He bundled up in a blanket. This was the hard part about dating. Gavin had to be willing to put himself out there once more and he didn't know if he could. He could already see it happening again in his mind: Nines would start seeing someone better and he would politely tell Gavin that he didn't care about him anymore. Then they would be friends, but Gavin wouldn't talk to him, so then they'd be strangers. And every day when he came into work, he would see Nines, a reminder of what he could've had.
Why did he do this to himself? He needed to stop thinking this way.
"Fuck," he whispered, curling up and drinking his coffee. When breakfast was over, he went to his bedroom and grabbed Nines' jacket off of his desk chair. He hugged it to his chest and drew in a deep breath. Okay. Nines hadn't ditched him yet, so maybe things would be fine. Maybe they would work out this time around. He put on the jacket and started to feel a little better, and whenever he hugged himself he could pretend that someone else was doing it.
At a young age, maybe seven, Gavin was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder and anxiety. His mother had panicked and got him to see a counselor, which worked for like a week. Then he had to find some other way to get help, which led him down the dark road of prescriptions. They numbed his mind and made him feel like a zombie. Gavin felt like a lesser person, like he wasn't normal, because he had to take them. All through his high school years, he was on it. When college rolled around, he tried to stop. He couldn't just stop, though. He had to wean off of them, and he went through withdrawals.
Now he was several years clean without the pills. His mother had been so worried after he told her that he was stopping the medicine. Gavin hadn't cared at the time. For the most part, his episodes only came in random flare-ups once or twice a week, which was part of the reason why he could be impossibly irritable and unmotivated on occasion. When Connor first came to the precinct, Gavin had been having a really shitty week to begin with, which was why he had been such a dick to him.
Today he was having a flare-up. His depression was slowly creeping around again, getting ready to consume him. Most of the time he pretended that he was doing okay, and that was what made everything worse. Everything would build and build until he snapped.
Gavin didn't cry. He wasn't a crier. But right now his face was wet, which only meant one thing.
[8:14 AM] i can't come tonight.
[8:19 AM] change of plans??
[8:23 AM] something like that.
Tina knew all about his disorders and she had been there for him through a lot. Of course she knew when something was going on, just like right now.
[8:32 AM] i'll be over there in twenty minutes with ice cream.
Gavin drew in a soft breath and wiped his eyes. He sat there listlessly for a moment, and then he saw the picture of Nines he had painted on the canvas. There were black streaks from when Nines had added his two cents to it. He laughed hollowly and put his elbows on his knees, hiding his face in his hands.
He heard a knock on the door. It couldn’t possibly have been Tina, because he had just finished texting her thirty minutes ago. He stood up and opened the door. Normally he would’ve looked through the peep hole first, but this time he didn’t think of it because he was feeling blue. His emotions didn’t make sense because he was supposed to be happy, as he had just had the best date of his life the previous night.
It was a shock to him whenever Nines was standing there, his LED blinking red, holding a box of chocolate and a cup of coffee. And Gavin loved those two things. “Detective Reed?” The android asked uncertainly, almost dropping the coffee when he saw Gavin’s state. If Nines hadn’t left him yet, then now would be the time.
“Hey,” he greeted, quickly wiping his eyes and trying to look presentable. Gavin knew what he looked like: uncombed bed head, eyes puffy and pink, and wearing his pajamas. To be fair, though, it was pretty early in the morning still.
“I,” Nines said slowly, trailing off as concern filled his eyes. “Are you well?”
Gavin nodded. “Yeah. Did you, like… want to come in?”
The android carefully brushed past Gavin and paused in the doorway, wondering whether or not he should kiss him. Nines eventually placed one on Gavin’s forehead. He set everything on the counter and opened his mouth to speak. Then he shut it.
“What, Nines?” Gavin huffed.
“I’ve brought you coffee, and confections.”
“I can see that.”
Nines, now empty-handed, gently cupped Gavin’s cheek and smoothed away a stray tear mark. “I also have developed a severe attachment to you since our... well.” Nines ducked his head shyly for a second at the mere mention of their first kiss last night. “I felt compelled to visit you this morning.” A pause. “Is something the matter?”
“Uh. I don’t, uh…”
“You would prefer not to discuss it with me?”
Gavin winced. “Yeah. I mean, no? Look, I don’t really like to talk about it that much. It’s just one of those things and -“
“Elaborate no further.” Nines pulled Gavin close to him, bundling him up in his arms. “I’ve longed to hold you since I left, my darling.”
“Nines, stop,” Gavin muttered, feeling his lips curling up into a tiny smile. He started blushing and he buried his face in Nines’ chest. He exhaled and sniffled. He closed his eyes as Nines ran his hand through his hair and stroked his back.
The android purred and bent down to kiss Gavin’s cheek. “Have your coffee before it becomes cold,” he suggested, letting go of him to press the warm cup into Gavin’s hand. “And perhaps some chocolate, though sugar is not a very decent element for breakfast.”
“Uh. Tina was going to come over,” he admitted, taking a sip of the coffee. He didn’t have the heart to tell Nines that he had already made himself one. “Or, uh, she was going to bring ice cream. I didn’t even have to tell her, she just knew that I was feeling a little…”
“Blue,” Nines filled in. “I understand. Friends tend to have a strong intuition for one another. Would you like it if I left? My presence wasn’t planned.”
“What? No,” Gavin grabbed his hand. “No, uh, you should stay. Don’t go. I bet Tina will freak out when she sees you here with me. She’s going to ask all kinds of questions about our date.” He chuckled to himself. Gavin swallowed hard when Nines cupped his chin and stared down at him.
There was a boyish smile on the android’s face. “Detective Reed, you’re stunning today.”
“Nines, I look like total shit.”
Nines leaned in, lowering his voice. “No, you’re a bad bitch.”
Gavin barked out a laugh, remembering their brief talk before their date yesterday. It was a Lizzo reference. Nines was actually using a Lizzo reference right now, and it was hilarious. “Dude, what?”
“A bad, naughty bitch, who looks striking.” Nines narrowed his gaze and slowly leaned down, his LED flashing red and yellow. His hands grazed Gavin’s hips and he squeezed, sighing contentedly to be touching him again. He started walking Gavin back into the corner of the kitchen, a predatory look on his face.
Did Nines download some kind of sexy new program?
Gavin sucked in a sharp breath whenever Nines growled at him and mouthed at his neck. Growled. “Fuck,” he moaned aloud, his face stained red. “Nines, this is - where’s this coming from? Not that I’m complaining…”
“Mm,” Nines hummed, and he trailed his kisses all the way up Gavin’s neck. “I had the sudden urge to remind you how much I admire you. Reminders are what can bring your mood up. You have a mother who loves you, a friend who would drop anything to visit you, and a boyfriend who would stand in front of a train for you.”
Before Gavin could say a word, Nines was leaning down and kissing his lips like he was coming back home. Things were rapidly getting heated and within minutes they were making out against the counter, their bodies pressed together. All Gavin could think about was Nines and how he wasn’t feeling so sad anymore. He was so enamored by him. Nines treated him so well, and he made him feel better. Nines was kinder to him than anyone he had ever been with. Tina often roasted his previous exes because they were so cruel. Crueler than Gavin could be.
The door jingled and Tina used her spare key to come into the apartment. Gavin and Nines were so wrapped up with each other that they didn’t even notice her entry until she awkwardly cleared her throat and put a grocery bag on the counter with a loud rustle.
Nines jumped a foot away from Gavin with surprise, getting in front of him defensively before relaxing as he spotted Tina. He was really embarrassed to be caught kissing him, though. “Hello,” he greeted, his voice strained.
”Don’t mind me, just dropping off some ice cream,” Tina remarked, looking between the two of them.
“Shit, sorry,” Gavin breathed, searching for the right words to say. “Um, Nines came over.”
“Uh huh,” she mused. She unwrapped the ice cream from the bag and put it in Gavin’s freezer. “When are you going to tell me about your date? And since when have you two been kissing like riled up teenagers?”
”It is a recent development,” Nines said, wrapping an arm around Gavin’s waist. “As of last night.”
Gavin grinned dreamily at that memory and it took him a moment to speak. “Uh, yeah. Last night. Nines is a natural.” He sighed and leaned into Nines’ chest, feeling the android’s thirium pump racing. “He got me flowers. We went to the museum, came back here and painted, and then -“
“I kissed him,” Nines blurted.
“Yeah, he did that. And we got paint all over each other.”
“And we kissed many times after that. Consecutively.” Nines seemed to beam, happy to share.
Gavin turned to look at him, smitten. “Then he showed up this morning with chocolate and coffee, all on his own, because he missed me.”
Nines pinched Gavin’s hip. “No, I didn't miss you. I was forced to come here. Gavin drew me here with a spell.”
“A love spell,” Nines clarified jokingly, winking down at him.
Tina watched them, resting her head on her hand. Her eyes darted back and forth between them as they bantered with each other. “Wow, you guys are really cute together. I’m so glad I bet a hundred dollars. What are the odds?”
Nines kissed Gavin’s temple. “I’m almost certain that his mother will be even more delighted to hear of our compatibility percentage. Perhaps a wedding isn’t as far away,” he quipped, but something in his voice gave away his devotion.
Gavin did a double take, and then he laughed nervously. “Yeah, maybe,” he added, moving closer to him. “We’ll see how long you’ll want me around before you’re done with me.”
“Gav, don’t talk like that,” Tina said, her voice stern and thick with emotion.
Nines’ LED went red. “I will never be done with you.”
“Funny, because that’s what they all fucking said,” Gavin muttered, visibly tensing up. “I can’t ever make anyone stay. I’m never good eno -“
“Stop,” Nines said immediately.
“I’m not en -“
“You are.” Nines tugged him into a hug and then reached for the box on the counter. He guided Gavin to the couch. “Now, eat some chocolate. It stimulates endorphin production.” Once Gavin was seated, Nines joined him and he stuffed a piece of chocolate into Gavin’s mouth.
Tina blinked. “Well, that’s one way to do it.” She wandered over to the living area and looked at Gavin’s painting, snapping a photograph of it at the last minute (probably to show Gavin’s mother and a few people at the precinct).
The android cuddled with Gavin and pulled him closer to place him in his lap. He allowed Gavin to rest on him as the chocolate melted. “My darling,” he whispered into Gavin’s ear, pressing a kiss to it afterwards. “I have decided that I am going to stay here for the remainder of the day, and night - if you’ll allow me - and I will see to it that you have adequate meals and rest.”
“I’m not a fucking four year old.”
“No, but I feel that you need my assistance,” Nines said. “I may not be a household-grade android, but I know how to care for my fellow soldiers whenever they are suffering from symptoms like yours. I will be buoyant to ensure your safety and mental stability for the duration of my stay.”
Gavin sighed. “I guess. Sure. If you want to stay, then I won’t stop you.”
Tina smiled from where she was admiring the painting. “In that case, I’ll head out. I’m sure you two have a few things you’d like to take care of. You know, in private,” she emphasized. “Oh, and by the way, I put the ice cream in the freezer for later. Text me.”
“Alright. Thanks for dropping by. I would give you a hug or something, but I doubt Invader Zim over here is going to let me get up.” Gavin sounded a bit defeated, but his negative self talk had mostly halted - for now.
“That would be correct,” Nines chimed in, squeezing his human tightly in his arms. As soon as Tina was gone and the door was locked, he cradled Gavin to his chest and he kissed his lips briefly. Bruno walked over and hopped onto the couch next to them, sniffing Nines’ neck curiously. The dog gave Gavin a few kisses and plopped down, setting his furry head onto Gavin’s arm.
”You don’t have to stay,” Gavin tried, but was silenced by Nines who put another piece of chocolate into his mouth to quiet him.
“I will stay not because I feel morally obligated to, but because I wish to be here with my human significant other.” Nines nodded once and he started to kiss on Gavin again, giving him a lot of attention just because he could. He enjoyed mapping out Gavin’s body with his hands and his lips. Nines even began to whisper sweet-nothings in his ear, telling him how special he was and about all the people who loved him.
Gavin then started crying again, because he didn’t know what to do. Nines actually cared about him, and it was scary. No one that he had ever dated cared that much or was sensitive enough to not make him feel guilty for being the way he was.
Nines stroked his back. “You are even beautiful when you cry,” he mumbled in a hushed tone, stroking Gavin’s cheeks to erase the tears with his thumb.
“Nines, do me a favor and shut the fuck up,” Gavin snorted, but there was no malice in his voice. He kissed Nines and then hid his face in his neck, shivering as Nines started to leave more hickeys on his skin.
“You’re certainly cheeky after consuming chocolate, Detective Reed,” Nines said brazenly, one hand lingering down Gavin’s lower back. Eventually he grabbed a handful of his posterior and squeezed, making the human squirm and breathe raggedly.
Gavin wrapped his arms around Nines’ neck and hugged him, bumping their foreheads together to stare at his lips and nuzzle their noses together. “You’re certainly handsy after I consume chocolate and have a crisis.”
Nines arched an alluring eyebrow and he squeezed Gavin again, a coquettish grin forming on his face. “Unfortunately, I cannot resist your interminable charms.”
Making a split decision, Gavin leaned in and he started to kiss Nines heavily, humming amorously into it. Since Nines was touching him a lot, Gavin decided to repay the favor. He slid his hands under Nines’ shirt and he ghosted his fingers over Nines’ bare skin. As expected, Nines’ body was sculpted and hard - made for war. He moaned as Nines deepened it, and soon he was being pinned underneath the android on his own couch. Bruno made himself scarce. Gavin stared up at the android with hooded eyes, breathing hard.
Getting nervous from their position, Nines stuffed another piece of chocolate into Gavin’s mouth. He kissed down his neck and pushed Gavin’s shirt up with both hands, his eyebrows drawing together as he examined a few of Gavin’s scars. There was a bullet wound on his left side that had healed, and two stabbings. His line of work was dangerous, so it was scheduled to happen.
They were both shirtless after that, just touching each other experimentally. Nines’ shoulders were broader than Gavin’s. Gavin had way more marks than Nines. To make everything fair game, Nines had removed his pants. Gavin snorted when he saw that the black boxers Nines was wearing had CYBERLIFE in capital letters around the band. Typical. “Cute,” he commented. “La tua biancheria intima è divertente.”
“Mm,” Nines hummed, settling on top of Gavin. He closed his eyes at the sensation of being so close to him. There was hardly anything in between them and Nines could actually feel the warmth radiating from the human below him.
And, being a human, Gavin noticed that Nines had a small problem. Or, rather, a big problem.
“Te ne hanno dato uno? Holy shit. Enorme,” Gavin stammered, his eyes widening a fraction. “Non me l'aspettavo. Honestly. Seriously.” He rolled his hips up to test the waters, gasping as Nines growled (again with the growling) and he held his hips down.
“Detective Reed, I am very switched on at the moment and I would like to kindly advise you not to inveigle me like the temptress you are.”
“Uh, right. Okay,” Gavin said, but as soon as Nines let go of his hips he was doing it again.
The android made a wavering groan that tapered off and ended in a contorted electrical manner. “Detective Reed,” he hissed, his eyes darkening. Nines thrusted forward once to make a point, his hands wandering back to the man’s active hips. “No coaxing.”
“I wouldn’t mind some coaxing.”
Nines inhaled, trying to relax a bit and keep himself from becoming too riled up. He kissed Gavin hard and then climbed off of him. “You need hydration. I will return shortly.”
“Don’t go.” Gavin said, pulling the android back toward him. “I don’t need any water. Screw water.”
“Water is essential.” The android left, and when he came back to the couch Gavin was curled into a blanket. He held the water up to his human’s lips and he kissed Gavin’s cheek, watching closely as he drank it. Once it was all gone, Nines carded his hand through Gavin’s hair. “Your next meal, lunch, will be delivered in fifty-two minutes by Connor.”
“Wait, Connor’s coming over here? Why? Well, shit. If he’s coming over here then I need to go put some more clothes on.”
“He owes me a favor,” Nines replied, his lips forming a self-satisfied smirk. He placed a hand on Gavin’s thigh, tracing the hem line of his boxers. “Are you sure that you would like to cover up? I rather like you this way, darling,” he confessed, kissing Gavin on the lips once. “Of course, I would prefer seeing all of you, but this will do for the time being.”
Gavin blushed hard and placed his hand on top of the android’s. “Uh, I’ll just use this blanket then. I guess. For now.”
Nines kissed him again, and then they started making out for a second time. They were still kissing by the time they got a visitor at the door. Nines hurriedly tugged on his pants and his shirt while Gavin bashfully threw the blanket on. Luckily, Connor didn’t come inside his apartment, and he merely gave Nines a bag of Chinese food at the door and left.
Protesting was useless whenever Nines was in care-mode. He fed Gavin his meal, vegetables and all, one bite at a time. Why was Gavin being pampered like this? Nines must really like him.
”Are you really staying the night?”
“Yes,” Nines replied. “I would strongly favor doing so.”
“Okay. You’ll sleep in my bed,” Gavin offered, because it was the least he could do, and Nines’ eyes brightened with ardor.
Chapter 11: Equivalent
Nines spends the night. When Monday morning rolls around, they go to work together. Meanwhile, the bio component store has been shut down for android health and safety violations.
Their sleeping arrangements were set. Gavin showed Nines his bed, a queen size, and he let Nines choose what side he would be using. It just so happened to be the left one, which worked out as Gavin always picked the right. He would probably end up in the middle anyway because he was a cuddly type of sleeper. He changed into his pajamas, an old shirt and a pair of boxers, and he watched with parted lips as Nines tugged off his shirt and his pants for the second time that evening.
Nines felt embarrassed, but only for a minute. He straightened and started to explain. “While going into stasis, I prefer not wearing too much clothing, as I tend to overheat when there are more terabytes for me to download and process during my updates -“
“Relax you oversized modem. I’m not complaining, believe me. I just didn’t think that you slept, like, in the nude or anything,” Gavin replied, chuckling at little as a blush spread over his face. Nines was going to be pressed against him all night long with barely anything on. It was thrilling to share his space with someone else, but also a little too… domestic. That was the word.
Nines gazed down at him, standing there in nothing but those tight, black boxers. He looked like he had walked straight out of a modeling magazine. It didn’t help that he was starting to crowd closer to Gavin. Nines fiddled with the collar of Gavin’s old shirt. “Could this article possibly be... removed?”
Gavin chortled a bit nervously, the backs of his legs brushing against the mattress as he leaned. Nines seemed to tower over him a bit. “W-what? Why?”
Nines smirked down at him. “It would be of my highest preference, Detective Reed. However, I understand if you would be uncomfortable without as many layers.”
“Me? Uncomfortable? No way.” Gavin shook his head quickly. He watched with wide eyes as Nines moved a bit nearer to him, and then he was gasping and falling unceremoniously on the bed. He flopped a little and it was probably really unflattering to watch, but Nines was unfazed. If anything, his silvery-cerulean eyes were hungry. Gavin remained on his back for a few seconds until Nines was climbing on top of him. “Uh,” he stammered. One of Nines’ hands was inching up his shirt while another stroked Gavin’s cheek.
Nines lined their hips up and he pressed their bodies together, sighing very contentedly. “Darling,” he started, something changing in his voice. He was looking down at Gavin through his dark lashes, imploring him, “I would like your shirt gone. Now.”
How could Gavin possibly argue with that? He sat up and was going to take it off on his own, but Nines did it for him. Gavin arched on the bed as Nines began spreading insistent kisses down his body. “W-whoa there, Nines, take it easy -“
“How can I when you’re insufferably pretty?” The android asked, his voice sounding far too innocent. And Nines had the audacity to sit up and snarl whenever Gavin moved his hips against him in retaliation, just as he did before. “What have I told you about tempting me?”
“Can’t help it,” he replied, though it was strikingly obvious that he did it on purpose. Gavin’s heart raced as Nines grasped his wrists and held him in place. His neck was being littered with dark hickeys that he wouldn’t be able to hide. It was almost too much. Just when Gavin couldn’t handle any more, Nines stopped and started to kiss his lips. Things escalated and they were making out, touching, and exhaling noises of pleasure. Gavin dragged his blunt fingernails down Nines’ back, making the android visibly shudder.
“Detective,” Nines groaned, and it was definitely one of the filthiest noises that Gavin had ever heard - not to mention that he wouldn’t be able to unhear it. Now each time Nines called him Detective Reed, his mind would travel to this highly sexual moment.
“Shit, fuck,” Gavin hissed, bucking his hips. He could hardly stand it. “Fuck, fuck Nines.”
“So much profanity,” Nines breathed, rocking down against Gavin. “I should spank you for that.”
“W-What the fuck have you been downloading?”
“I did research,” Nines replied, peppering Gavin with kisses. “I am certified to attempt several erotic positions and share dirty pet names.”
“You’re a kinky bastard, Nines.”
“Call me daddy.”
Gavin laughed so hard that tears left his eyes, the good kind. It was strange to him how the context of his crying changed when Nines was added to the picture. Nines was exceptionally happy to see Gavin so joyous and he leaned down to kiss him, basking in the guffaw that he had caused. Once the kissing had subsided, they climbed into the bed properly and nestled under the cotton sheets. Nines was tugging him to his chest, and it was so weird for Gavin to be the little spoon. He liked it, though.
He received a kiss on his temple and then he turned out the light. Things ended on a high note that day. If Nines hadn’t shown up when he did that morning, then he would’ve been sad for the rest of the day and consumed a gallon of ice cream. Things had really turned around with Nines in his life.
Gavin slept, enjoying how Nines’ blue LED created a miniature nightlight. Every time he moved, Nines’ grip reflexively tightened around his waist. They slept burrowed together. Nines got really warm and his internal fans came on, but it was okay because Gavin was always cold. Plus, it was nearing winter in Detroit, so he could save money on heating bills if Nines was always heated when he went into stasis.
His eyes fluttered open. Monday. That was what day it was. Gavin was going to be late for work again. He hopped out of bed and went into the bathroom to start the shower, surprised whenever Nines trailed behind him and placed a hand on his lower back.
“Detective Reed, you have over two hours until work,” Nines supplied quietly so that he wouldn’t startle him, a look of disquietude on his face. “I set an alarm to wake you in time.”
Gavin hadn’t even looked at the clock when he got up. He had just assumed that he was late for some reason and he had panicked. “Oh, okay,” he glanced at the shower and then the android before him, who was watching the water intently. “Have you ever taken a shower before?” He asked, and it was a stupid question, but he felt that it was necessary to ask. How was Gavin supposed to know if Nines had?
“No,” Nines said quickly, shaking his head. “No, I... haven’t. I never had the need for one, as my body does not produce human oils or sweat, and I generally keep myself tidy.”
Gavin looked between the android and the running water, testing the temperature with his hand. It was too cold, almost Himalaya-worthy. “Do you have a phobia of showering or something?”
“It would be considered ablutophobia,” Nines corrected, staring at the water again with a slightly nervous expression. “And I do not know for certain that I have it. I cannot completely fear something until after I’ve… attempted it, if applicable.”
“Not true. I was super fearful to try weed when I was in high school. I did end up smoking a joint at this one party, I think it was someone's birthday, and uh…” he trailed off, seeing the stare that he was getting from his partner.
“I will pretend that I did not hear you say that, as you are a man of the law.”
“Ugh, whatever. It was one joint,” Gavin huffed, and then he paused thoughtfully. “At least from what I can remember. It wasn’t even that great. I would rather have a strawberry margarita or some of my mom’s limoncello than try huffing smoke again,” Gavin expressed as he pulled back the curtain. “Le droghe sono cattive. Anyway, leave your boxers on and join me in here. You’re getting a shower.”
Nines tried to delay getting in, his LED red as he avoided the spray. “Don’t humans typically bathe without garments?”
“Yeah, but,” Gavin sighed, digging his teeth into his lower lip. “I don’t think we should be seeing each other like that yet. Naked. I mean, we’ve only had a single date, and I don’t think it’d be a good idea.”
“Oh, of course. Some humans prefer to wait until either the third date, proper courting, or marriage.” Nines nodded in agreement. He hesitantly followed Gavin into the water, jumping at first from the sensation on his skin before relaxing. “This is very soothing,” he told him as the spray flattened his hair. He tipped his head back and pushed the dark locks from his face.
Gavin chortled in a timorous way at the view that Nines provided: his hard body glistening wet and his hair brushed away from his silvery-blue eyes. His mind was filled with all kinds of new little fantasies just from watching. “Say, tin can… You’re not going to rust or anything, are you?”
“No,” Nines replied, leaning over to pump some shampoo into the palm of his hand. He started to clean Gavin’s hair for him, working gently. “I am waterproof. All androids are. However, unlike many other models, I have the ability to withstand harsh environments and my bio components will not freeze or melt.”
“Interesting,” Gavin commented, closing his eyes as Nines massaged the foamy shampoo in slow circles. It felt nice. He grabbed a bar of soap and started to clean Nines up. Bathing together was sort of a peculiar thing to be doing. They hadn’t known each other for that long, and yet it appeared like they did.
Nines kissed Gavin’s forehead and guided him under the shower head to rinse away the shampoo. The label read Davines. It was an Italian-based one that his mother swore by, made with cartucciaru melon extract from Trapani, Italy. Even his bar of soap was made from olive oil. Sofia always bought him gifts like these for his birthdays so that he would remember where he came from.
The shower finished with Gavin trying to wash Nines. He wasn’t quite tall enough to adequately help, though he tried. He got ready for work and slipped on some clothes. It only took him ten minutes or so. What really took the longest time for him to do in the morning was brew some coffee. Gavin fed his pets while he waited, and he also kissed Nines - who was wearing his white jacket again. Gavin had missed seeing it on him. He went into his bedroom for a second to grab his watch and he spotted Nines’ damp black Cyberlife boxers neatly folded.
“Uh, Nines,” Gavin asked carefully, and when he turned around he ran into the android’s chest. “Hey. Did you need to borrow some -“
“I have gone without,” Nines stated.
Gavin’s mouth went dry. “You mean you’ve gone fucking commando? D-Don’t you have any other clothes, or like, are you only given one set?”
“One set,” Nines explained. “Androids are not quite paid enough to afford their own clothing, so therefore I am forced to wear this. However, I hardly mind, as you seem to enjoy me in uniform.”
“Are you, or are you not, going fucking commando right now?” Gavin asked, his voice serious and slightly suggestive.
”I am,” Nines clarified, and then he turned around to head into the kitchen. The coffee machine was done, so he was going to grab Gavin’s cup of coffee for him.
His eyes dropped to Nines’ slacks as the android walked away. Was he really not wearing anything at all? Gavin tilted his head to the side and squinted, trying to see if there were any underwear lines or anything. “Nines,” he said impatiently, advancing fast to catch up with his long strides. “Nines, are you, like… fucking kidding me?”
“Detective Reed, do you wish to have one sugar packet or two?”
Gavin blushed hard and he tried to say something, but he couldn’t. Nines wasn’t wearing anything under his pants. It really got to him. “Nines, I’m not playing around here.”
Nines noticed the direction of Gavin’s eyes and he sighed heavily. “How is this of such a high priority, Detective Reed? I am merely wearing one less layer than average.”
“You’re going commando right now and you don’t even care?”
“Logically, I don’t see how I should care, as no one will notice.”
Gavin scoffed and gestured wildly to Nines’ pelvis. “Hello? You’re totally naked under there, Nines! Naked!”
Nines pursed his lips, stirring Gavin’s coffee to dissolve the sugar. “And?”
“And? What do you mean, and? You have to put something on under there,” Gavin finally said, gaping at his android as a deep rosiness spread across the bridge of his nose.
“Why? Because we’re going to work, Nines, and I can’t work if you’re going fucking commando!”
The android seemed genuinely confused. “I don’t see any correlation between my absence of underwear and your ability to work in an efficient manner.” He handed Gavin his cup of coffee and he kissed his forehead. “Please drink your coffee.”
Gavin opened his mouth to argue more, but he figured that he might as well accept this. Nines clearly wasn’t going to change his mind or try wearing some of Gavin’s boxers. Maybe Nines was doing this on purpose. He sighed and drank the coffee, his eyes darting down to Nines’ hips practically the whole time.
They left the apartment together and soon they were sitting at their respective desks. Gavin was responding to emails and writing up files while Nines left to go talk to the department’s technical team about Celeste’s audio processor. They had put in the evidence room for further inspection so that security could be set up.
Everyone was staring at them today. Money was being traded. Tina and Chris seemed to be getting the majority of it. Hank got a few stacks as well. Connor, on the other hand, apparently hadn’t placed a bet, though it looked like he regretted not doing so. Gavin kept on receiving glares from him until Connor eventually came over to speak, seeing as how Nines was still gone.
”Did you mate with my brother?”
“Connor, what the fuck,” Gavin huffed, sinking down in his chair and blushing. “No, we didn’t mate, okay? Lower your voice.”
Connor leaned against Gavin’s desk and crossed his arms over his chest. He exhaled with displeasure. “Nines appears to be very taken with you… What have you done to him?”
“I didn’t do jack shit, you crazy toaster. Nines just likes me or something. I don’t know why, but he does. And I kinda love him, so shut up. I’m not going to break his little plastic heart on purpose.” Gavin rolled his eyes and turned his attention to his computer, typing out another response to an email. Someone was filing a complaint about their neighbors leaving their recently cut trees in their front yard. Typical.
“You love him?” Connor asked, a little bewildered. He uncrossed his arms and blinked, staring down at the human with a small amount of shock.
“Connor, I don’t know why the fuck this is such a huge deal to you. Sure, he’s your brother or whatever, but dude, you were the one who was teasing us and trying to get my mom to meet him. You’re giving me mixed signals. And don’t give me that ‘I didn’t know you could love’ bullshit right now because - holy shit, did I just say that I -“
“- love him? Yes. You did,” Connor said, his brown eyes wide. “I need to tell Nines.”
“What? No! Don’t tell him. Are you insane?” Gavin sat up from his desk and quickly slapped a hand over Connor’s mouth, getting some weird looks from their coworkers.
Connor removed Gavin’s hand effortlessly and his brown eyes softened. “You love him,” he said in a teasing tone, a smile forming on his face. “You’re harboring romantic feelings for an android, and an android from my model.”
“Connor, seriously stop.”
“Gavin and Nines, sitting in a tree,” Tina piped up, walking toward them. Connor quickly harmonized with her, and they started to sing together. Chris joined in as well and Hank just watched in amusement from his desk. Had they rehearsed this? “F-U-C-K-I-N G-“
“Andiamo. Those aren’t the words, assholes!” Gavin cried, covering his ears.
“First comes love, then comes engagement, then comes a wedding with cocktail arrangements -“
“Gavin in a dress, and Nines in a suit, going on a honeymoon to the Louvre -“
Nines started to make his way back over to his workspace, startled from the commotion. He stared blankly at Connor, Tina, and Chris as they teased Gavin. "Excuse me, is there a complication?"
“Nines to the rescue!” Tina said. The trio scattered and left Gavin a red mess.
“Ugh, what a bunch of pricks,” Gavin commented, rubbing his face to try and rid himself of his blush. He was so embarrassed. At least his mother wasn’t there to see him like this. “Mi mettono sempre in imbarazzo! Why?”
The android rubbed his back and leaned down to kiss his cheek, making a few onlookers ‘aw’ in response. “Don’t be distressed, my darling,” he whispered. “Would you like me to speak to Connor for you about his incessant teasing habits?”
“No, that’s okay. I need to fight my own battles.” Gavin sighed and shot Connor a glare, grabbing Nines’ hand tightly. “What did they say about the audio processor?”
“Firewalls are being created to battle the virus before it spreads. They’re going to send the security information to Cyberlife so that each android can download a… vaccine, to put it shortly,” Nines informed him. “And, in the mean time, the bio component store we went to is being temporarily closed while the virus is active.”
“Annette won’t be too happy about that.”
Nines smiled darkly. “Good.”
Gavin tugged him down by his black collar to stare into his eyes. “You really don’t like her, do you?”
“No. She liked your ass, and it’s mine.”
Hearing Nines speak in such a possessive fashion made Gavin flush again. All the blood rushed to his face. “Nines, you can’t just say shit like that while we’re in public.”
“Oh, of course. Your ass is… yours. But also mine.”
The android lowered his voice. “I will not verbally discuss your ass, Detective Reed.”
Gavin gave him a kiss on his lips. More money was being handed out during it. How many bets had people made? “Hey, Nines? I think we should take a five minute break.”
Nines looked at him.
“Together,” Gavin emphasized.
It took the android a few seconds to get what Gavin was trying to say, but when he did he practically hoisted the human up and he walked briskly with him to the interrogation room. He basically dragged him, and Gavin was reminded of Nines' strength.
The door shut and Nines shoved him against the wall, leaning down to give him a deep, longing series of kisses. He groaned and grabbed two fistfuls of his ass, squeezing and groping. Obviously Nines had been waiting for the right time they could be alone to do this.
Gavin gasped and kissed him back, moaning sharply when Nines lightly thrust against him. “Cazzo, merda. Sei pazzo,” he breathed in between kisses. “Ti senti così bene.”
“Detective,” Nines whispered against his lips, trailing his kisses down his neck. He shucked off Gavin’s jacket and left dark love bites on his collar.
“Nines, p-people are going to see those -“
“Yeah, okay,” Gavin agreed, leaning his head back against the wall as his legs trembled and felt like jello. “N-Nines, you’re killing me.”
“You fit so perfectly in my arms,” the android grunted, thrusting hard against Gavin again. His hands were back on his rear, and he squeezed playfully. “I am fond of touching you this way.”
“Ah, yeah, I can tell,” Gavin moaned, rocking his hips back against Nines. He loved how honest the android could be, and how unashamed he was to admit what he liked. “We should make it quick, huh? Don’t want anyone to get suspicious and come looking.”
Nines frowned at the mention of stopping, but he eventually nodded in consensus. He kissed Gavin and they started making out anew, and Nines deepened their kiss. This time there was tongue, which Gavin hadn’t been expecting at all. He welcomed it nonetheless, and soon they were really kissing hard. So hard that their lips made loud smacking noises.
Gavin was the one to pull away, his mouth red and his cheeks a darker shade. He was breathing hard and his eyes were glassy. “We should… work.”
“No,” Nines replied simply, going back in so that he could continue kissing him with delight.
“Mmn, really, we should get back in there,” Gavin said.
The android gave him three more hard kisses before he drew away, cupping Gavin’s face in his hands. “I admire your work ethic,” he mused. He grabbed Gavin’s discarded jacket from the floor and he opened up the door for him, patiently standing there.
“Uh, thanks,” Gavin blurted before he brushed past the android with a silly, lovestruck grin on his face. Nines hadn’t changed; he was still such a gentleman and Gavin loved that about him. Before he passed through the doorway, he stood on his toes and gave Nines one more sweet kiss. Gavin patted his cheek. “Grade-A materiale marito.”
The android perked up. His head turned as his eyes followed Gavin on his way out. He approached his side and grabbed his hand, making the shorter man blush on purpose. He smiled broadly, that one stupid curl falling onto his forehead.
Nines was a dreamboat.
Gavin sat down at his desk and thumbed through his phone, still reeling from his and Nines’ heavy kisses from earlier. The interrogation room wasn’t an ideal spot, but it would work when they wanted to be alone. This was Gavin’s favorite phase of their relationship so far. Nothing was totally serious or set in stone just yet, and they were still flirting and getting to know each other.
His phone buzzed.
[2:30 PM] did you guys screw around in the questioning room?
[2:32 PM] asking for a friend.
[2:35 PM] no. totally not. we were just talking.
[2:36 PM] liar.
[2:38 PM] you’re smiling like an idiot. obviously you guys were doing something.
[2:44 PM] kissing. that’s all.
[2:50 PM] connor told me to tell you that you’re corrupting his little brother.
[3:01 PM] tell connor to sit and spin.
Gavin looked up from his phone just in time to see Connor’s offended expression. He laughed and gestured for Nines to come look at his phone. The android rolled his chair over and placed his hand on Gavin’s inner thigh as he read through the messages, his own lips twisting into a gratified smirk.
“I’m pleased to know that Connor is disturbed.”
“I fucking love you.”
Nines blinked and did a double take, his lips drawn in surprise. The entire department quieted down with anticipation. “Oh.” His LED flashed red and blue at strange intervals, and Gavin was afraid that he had caused the android to short-circuit.
“Nines, are you oka-“
Chapter 12: Reprisal
With the virus under control, Gavin and Nines move onto their darker next case. Annette attempts to get revenge in an uncanny way for the closure of the store.
It was around four o’clock in the afternoon now. Everyone was teasing Gavin and it was by far the worst Monday ever, but at least he had Nines there to suffer through it with him. However, Nines didn’t seem to mind all of the jokes that people made, or how they snickered when they spotted Gavin’s hickeys. Nines liked how people knew they were together, and how they would make jokes about a wedding. And, of course, Nines was certainly more comfortable about marriage than Gavin was.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to get married. He did. But he didn’t like to be told when he would marry someone. In fact, Gavin didn’t like to be told to do anything by anyone. Ever. Except if that person was Nines.
And boy, did the department notice his weak spot.
The day went on and on. Gavin answered more emails and was seriously bored. Eventually he just had to step away from the screen, and he went into the break room. Nines quickly got up and followed after him. It was a little cute how the android was always wanting to be by his side, and Gavin liked how he wasn’t the clingy one in their relationship. He wouldn’t call Nines clingy, per se, but he was really devoted to Gavin. It was great. And the way Nines did things for him was totally not in an annoying way, because Nines didn’t treat him like a breakable wine glass.
“Shall I make you a cup of coffee, dear?” Nines questioned kindly, wrapping an arm around Gavin’s waist. Okay, maybe he treated Gavin like a glass, but he wasn’t protesting.
They apparently weren’t going to talk about the fact that Gavin had just confessed his love for him, and Nines returned it. What kind of geek said ‘equivalent’? It seemed like Nines couldn’t quite vocalize those three special words yet. That was alright, though, because it was way too soon for Gavin to say it to him in the first place. He had just wanted to tell Nines how he felt before Connor or someone else blabbed and beat him to it.
“Nah, I think I’m good on coffee,” Gavin said, and he never expected to not need any coffee. Given, he did have a cup earlier that morning, and another around lunch time. Nines had left the precinct to grab something for Gavin and the damn android had walked several blocks. He wasn’t back until over an hour later, almost two. Fuck, Gavin wished he could be as committed as Nines. “I, uh… wanted to come in here for a minute and wind down. Ma says that too much technology is bad for me.”
“What? No. You’re not bad for me, it’s only when I’m sitting for too long typing and stuff. You know what I meant,” Gavin added, huffing and rolling his eyes. A smile crossed over his face. “But I guess in some ways you can be bad for me. For example, you’re a constant distraction.”
Nines tilted his head to the side. “I acknowledge that.”
Gavin chuckled and shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest. Nines was probably the wittiest android he had ever met. His personality wasn’t what Gavin was expecting in the slightest. He thought that Nines would be just like Connor, so when they had first met and Nines had flashed some serious sass around, Gavin knew he was going to like him better. “So, I was thinking -“
“Our next case,” Nines guessed, his hands easily sliding over Gavin’s hips. He constantly seemed to want to touch him. “I recall informing you of five cases in the past: four homicides and one case of severe theft.”
“Uh, yeah. Those were kind of your exact words, Nines,” Gavin snorted. “Four homicides and one case of severe theft. Greetings, I’m Nines and I’m totally going fucking commando at work because I can.”
“You were leaning toward the homicides.” Nines stared at Gavin as he imitated him. “I do not sound like that.”
“You totally do.”
“Hey, dipshit, my name’s Gavin and I hate androids, even though my attractive boyfriend is one.”
Gavin blinked. “Okay. You got me good.”
Nines tilted his chin up confidently, his fingers lightly playing with the band of Gavin’s jeans. “Connor and Lieutenant Anderson have already solved one homicide and so have we, so now there are three available cases: two homicides and one severe theft. However, Tina has claimed the severe theft case. That leaves us two homicides to solve.”
“My favorite,” Gavin sighed, leaning into Nines’ roaming hands. His own palms rested on the android’s chest for stability. “Right, so… What are they about? The homicides? Are they dangerous?”
Nines smiled down at Gavin, eyeing his lips a little dreamily. Obviously his mind wasn’t completely on the job. “No, these cases are not dangerous unless we come face to face with the killer. Both are murders - or, rather, serial killings. The bodies are very disturbing to look at, so I will be going to the crime scenes alone.”
“Fuck that,” Gavin said plainly, his grip tightening on Nines. “I’m coming with you. We’re a team, remember? And what’s so bad about these bodies?”
“The mutilation is… heavy.”
Gavin arched an eyebrow. “Do you really think that I haven’t seen something like that before? I’ve seen some serious shit. It’s just another part of my job that I have to deal with for the sake of justice.”
Thirty minutes later, Gavin was behind the wheel. There was no way that Nines could have convinced him to stay back at the department to do more boring paper work. He put on his blinker and headed to the morgue. The body had been removed from the crime scene to prevent it from rotting. It was the absolute worst whenever people were found weeks after they had died because there was a horrible smell and a huge mess to clean up, not to mention there was no way for the bodily evidence to be preserved.
Gavin let Nines do the talking. They were standing in the sterile blue room wearing gloves. A drawer was open and the only thing that they could see was the person’s discolored feet with a name tag tied around the toe. The rest of the body was hidden behind a white sheet. Gavin sighed and pulled it back. He almost wished that he hadn’t.
The eyes were carved out, the lips were cut off, and the nose was skinned. It was really fucked up and it would probably give him nightmares for the rest of his life. And that was just the face. The rest of the body was really, really bad. He had to cover up the cadaver with the sheet after about five minutes. Should he have listened to Nines? Yes. “Wow, that’s disturbing as shit. What kind of twisted motherfucker would do this?”
Nines noticed Gavin’s spooked expression and he shuffled over to place a comforting hand on his shoulder. To his right, the forensic pathologist read information off of her clipboard. “I was shocked as well. Most of our examinations here are either natural deaths or accidents,” she explained, shaking her head. “The cause of death here was very specific. Pattern evidence suggests that a bone saw was used to cut through the spinal cord and nerve tissues, but that didn’t occur until after the body and face were destroyed.”
“So, you’re telling me that this person suffered through all of this before they died?” Gavin asked, swallowing hard and gesturing to the (thankfully covered) facial area.
“Precisely that. The killer left a carving on the deceased’s cheek.” The pathologist pulled the sheet back again and she tilted the corpse’s head to the side to show the two letters: J and B.
“What does that stand for? Like… Justin Bieber?” Gavin asked lightly, trying to make a joke.
Both Nines and the pathologist glared at him, not amused.
“Okay, just a thought. I’ll have to do a search in the DPD’s database for anything similar to this,” he finally said, clearing his throat and trying to sound more professional. Gavin was a professional when he needed to be. He really was. “We’ll get to it and see what we can figure out, right Nines?” Gavin asked, looking up at his coworker.
”Yes,” Nines replied, staring into Gavin’s eyes. His grip tightened on his shoulder and he reached over to place the sheet over the cadaver. “My colleague and I will be leaving now. Thank you for your willingness to meet with us on such a short notice.”
”I would give anything for you two to catch this killer. The house we pulled the body from was a mess, and our team did everything we could to cleanse the carpets and walls… and ceilings.”
Gavin blanched. ”Ceilings? That’s so messed up. You’ll, uh, be hearing from us soon. We’re getting right to work,” Gavin assured. He glanced at the RK900 standing beside him. “I have no doubt. Nines is a great detective.”
The android’s LED turned yellow and he seemed to radiate light from the inside. “Detective Reed is extremely skilled, and easy on the eyes.”
”Definitely,” the pathologist said, her cherry lips curving into a smile. “You two are cute. It’s not often that I see human-android couples in Detroit. Be careful out there, though. I’ve gotten word that a new android supremacy group has started to grow.”
”I heard of that. The Anti Hominums.” Nines seemed uncomfortable with the topic. “It seems as though androids have split into three separate parties: Anti Hominums are the androids who wish to end humanity, Sectatores are the androids with the revolution, and the Mancupiums are those among us who wish to return to slavery.”
“Why the hell would any of you want to go back to being slaves?” Gavin asked, genuinely confused.
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m a Sectatore,” Nines explained, slotting his and Gavin’s hands together. “The Mancupiums may be those of us who are not fully deviated yet.”
They left the morgue. As soon as they got into the car, Gavin turned to look at him. “Wait, so… when exactly did you deviate, Nines?”
“Connor was ultimately responsible. I was found in the basement and he offered me freedom. I was able to break away from my own oppression,” Nines said simply, his eyes distant as he remembered. “I discovered my own consciousness. At first Cyberlife believed deviancy to be a virus of some kind, like the Culpatus virus, but clearly deviating is different.”
“I believe that deviancy is developed from an emotional shock, or thoughts and behaviors that are not in my programming,” Nines continued, turning to stare at Gavin. “When Connor discovered me in the storage room, he told me that I had already deviated from my own fear. I was left alone for a long time and I knew nothing of the revolution. I had been forgotten, and trapped. I fully expected to spend the rest of my battery life down there in the darkness.”
”That’s terrifying,” Gavin muttered, shaking his head. He wouldn’t be able to handle being on his own for that long with no way out. “No wonder you’re so scared of things. I mean, flying in a plane and taking a shower?” He sighed and turned to look at him. “What else are you afraid of?”
”I am no longer afraid of showering, as it was a pleasant experience that I was able to enjoy with you,” Nines said, grabbing Gavin’s hand. “However, I do not like planes, or closets of any kind.”
Gavin started the engine, gazing at him. ”No closets or planes. Got it. What about spiders?”
”Spiders are beneficial to our ecosystem.”
”Ew, no. I fucking hate spiders.”
”It is a myth that a person is always three feet away from a spider, Detective Reed. The truth is that no one knows the distance.“
Gavin shivered, pulling out of the parking lot. ”Dude, how is that any better?”
”It is also unlikely that you will ever swallow a spider while sleeping.”
”You’re purposely giving me nightmares.”
”I don’t understand. This is reassuring information.”
”Nothing about a spider is reassuring.”
Nines placed a hand on Gavin’s thigh and stared into his eyes. “Detective Reed -“
”One more fact about spiders and I’m going to flip out. Ragni disgustosi. Li odio. Sono pelosi e hanno le zanne. No thank you and goodbye.”
”There’s a spider.”
”Nines, I swear if you’re fucking messing around with me - we… we aren’t making out for a year! A whole year!”
”I am very sorry. There’s no spider.”
”Fuck you.” Gavin sighed, loosening his grip on the steering wheel. “… It’s okay. I’ll still make out with you.”
Nines kissed Gavin’s cheek sheepishly. “It seems strange to me how you can be afraid of a bug when you’ve faced more pressing tribulations. However, the brown recluse is extremely dangerous and is popular in Detroit, as well as the -“
”No more spider talk. How about I pull over real quick and we get in the back seat?”
”Oh.” Nines sat up excitedly and folded his hands neatly over his lap. “I would enjoy that immensely. However, it is important that we return to the precinct in a quick manner. Our case holds time-sensitive value. We should wait until after hours. I would rather not be interrupted again.”
Gavin nodded. “Right, okay.”
About twenty minutes later, they exited the car and went inside. Standing near the entrance was Annette, and she looked very frustrated. Nines went to his desk quickly, not wanting to speak to her, but Gavin wasn’t as lucky.
”You’re Reed,” Annette recalled, waving him down.
”Detective Reed. Yeah, that’s me. What are you doing here?” He asked.
”That investigation you were doing closed down the store that I work at,” she explained shortly. “That RK900 model ruined my life. I have nowhere to work, and no one to hire me.”
Gavin exhaled. “Listen, I don’t know what to tell you. Your manager was a crook. He sold parts that had the virus in them. What did you think was going to happen? Did you think that we were just going to let the store stay open and spread around this virus through the entire city?”
”You aren’t being fair…” she trailed off, pouting and feeling her eyes welling up with tears. “It was all I knew, and now it’s gone because of him.” Annette pointed to Nines. “He had it out for me ever since I tried to ask you out for a candle lit human meal.”
”Listen, Annette, you really shouldn’t have come up here like this to complain. Nines and I have a lot of work to do. You need to go now.”
”I just need to get what I came for.”
Both of Gavin’s eyebrows raised. “Um, okay? What did you need -“
Everything was wrong. Annette was kissing him without his permission - or, no. She was kissing Connor? Connor had stepped in front of him.
Gavin felt so disgusted by her that he couldn’t move. He was frozen on the spot. Thankfully, Tina pushed her away from Connor before things could escalate, but Annette had managed to cop quite a feel. The RK800’s LED was red and he looked extremely uncomfortable, yet satisfied that Annette hadn’t successfully kissed Gavin.
Gavin stood there for a full two minutes, staring off into space. He wasn’t sure what to do now. He felt really violated on Connor’s behalf. Tina snapped her fingers in front of Gavin’s face as Connor dragged the VH500 out of the precinct.
“Gav?” She asked, snapping a few more times.
He looked around the room. His coworkers were staring at him. Gavin briskly walked off in the direction of the bathroom. Once inside, he splashed water on his face and wiped his mouth, even going as far as using soap. Even though it wasn’t his fault and he hadn’t been kissed, Gavin felt like he did Nines a disservice and that he ruined any chances that he had with him.
Nines came in after a moment and he tugged Gavin into a warm hug. “Are you okay, my darling?”
Gavin took a moment to think. Everything seemed to disappear now that he was in Nines’ arms. “Yeah,” he eventually whispered, snuggling up to that beloved white jacket.
Nines leaned down and he kissed Gavin softly, smothering his lips with his own to reclaim them. He couldn’t believe what happened. He had been filled with so much rage earlier that he had briefly gone into stasis mode. “Detective, we should focus on our case.”
”Okay,” Gavin agreed. He kissed Nines back until he couldn’t any longer. He broke away and held Nines’ hand as they walked together. He saw Connor sitting at his desk, presumably nonchalant. It had meant a lot to Gavin for the android to step in and do that for him.
Gavin approached him and cleared his throat. “Thank you,” he blurted. Those were two words he never thought that he would say to Connor.
The RK800 looked up in surprise. “I’m rather placid to begin with, Detective Reed, but you’re welcome. Anything for family.”
“Tina Chen and I have already started planning the wedding.”
“What happened to me not being fun unless I was a completely different person?” Gavin asked incredulously. “What about the fact that you totally hate me, and I was an asshole to you? What about you stuffing my limbs into Anderson’s freezer?”
“Somehow,” Connor emphasized, “you have changed. I don’t know how. Perhaps you have been struck by the miraculousness of love, or Nines has awakened a softness in you -“
“I’m not soft!”
Connor recalled, “He did say that he was not going to allow your callous behavior to surface as often."
Gavin scoffed. “Yeah, well -“
“Choose your next words carefully. We are future brother-in-laws.”
“Whatever. I’m going back to work, cognato.”
Connor’s eyes twinkled with mirth and he went back to typing on his computer, glad to have stepped in when he had. He didn’t want Nines and Gavin to split up because he had never seen a pair happier than the two of them. It brought an air of romance to the precinct, and it was true that Nines had mitigated Gavin’s conduct.
And, although Captain Fowler was hardly ever outside of his office, the man had noticed a quieter, more habitable workplace.
Gavin sat down and Nines copied him, reaching over their desks to slot their fingers together. “We should look through the database, Detective, for any similar initials.”
“It might be kinda hard -“
“That’s what she said!” Tina shouted.
“- because a lot of people have J and B as initials,” Gavin finished, bursting into a short laugh from Tina’s little joke. Hank snickered from his desk as well, and he gave Tina a thumbs up. Gavin was already starting to feel better.
“Yes, they do. However, we shouldn’t be too deterred.”
“We make a very efficient team,” Nines answered, letting his thumb travel over the back of Gavin’s knuckles as he played with his hand. "And our killer is somewhat predictable."
"Let's go to the house where it happened," Gavin suggested. "Maybe we can find some clues that were missed."
"Excellent decision. I'll drive."
Chapter 13: Boyfriend
After viewing the house of the proposed murder, Gavin and Nines are invited to have dinner with Gavin’s mother. Nines makes a mistake.
"Man, that lady wasn’t lying. That house was really scrubbed clean,” Gavin huffed, slamming his car door and slumping in the passenger seat. He had hoped to find clues. They had gone through the entire place and discovered nothing but a few blood stains. It had taken several hours. It was about six o’clock, now.
So many things had happened in one day: Nines went commando, they said that they loved each other, they went to a morgue, Annette showed up and tried to kiss him, and Connor called him family. All of it happened on a Monday. If this was the start of his week, then he really didn’t want to know how it was going to end. Gavin was overwhelmed and tired, and he honestly just wanted to go home and sleep with Nines. No, not sleep with him, just rest and nothing more. Right? Right.
“I was quite disheartened not to discover any new information,” Nines agreed, sitting behind the wheel. He started up the vehicle and began to drive them in the direction of Gavin’s home. Should it be called their home now? Technically Nines was living with him and had spent the night.
Gavin’s phone rang and he swiped across his screen to answer it as soon as he saw the caller ID.
“Mio figlio! My boy. Devi venire a trovarmi. Visit me. I miss you so very much and it has been too long, yes? More than two days. Ho fatto molti arancini,” she said, her voice pleasant. “You must be so hungry, and I have made so much food. Ho un gelato per dessert. Ice cream, yes?”
Gavin groaned. “Ma, I can’t come. I love gelato and I love that you made more food than necessary, but I can’t. Me and Nines are really tired. It’s been a long day at work and we kind of just want to go home now to get some res -"
"What is this we? You are living together?”
”What? No! No, we’re just… uh…”
Sofia cried, “Questo è serio! Bring your android to dinner! Tuo marito, Gavin.”
“He’s not my husband. How many times, ma? Look, I doubt he even wants to go to dinner anyway,” Gavin sighed, rubbing his temple with his free hand as he held his phone in his other. He glanced at Nines, who smiled encouragingly at him and winked. Gavin grimaced, leaning back in his chair to ponder it for a second. “Alright, whatever. I mean sure, we’ll go. Why not? We’ll be there.”
“Does your marito like arancini?” Sofia inquired worriedly. “I know that androids do not like to eat human food…”
Gavin bit his lip and watched Nines as he drove, noticing him executive a perfect ninety degree turn. He looked really good behind the wheel of a car. Gavin was pretty sure that he would look good behind anything. A motorcycle, even. Now that would be hot. “Uh, Nines likes thirium?”
Sofia’s voice was filled with pure joy. “Perfetto! Ne ho un po 'nel mio frigorifero.”
It took Gavin a second to register what she said, and when he did things got even more confusing. “Hold on a second, you keep fucking thirium in your fridge? Why?”
“Linguaggio, Gavin!” Sofia scolded softly. She hated it whenever her son cursed, but Gavin had a bad mouth since he was just a boy. Sofia could remember all the times that she got called in for parent-teacher conferences at Gavin’s middle school. “I never know when you are going to bring your marito to my home, figlio. I have to be prepared. Pronto. A mother should be ready,” she answered, and there was a loud clatter of pans and the clanking of silverware. Clearly his mother had made too much food again, but at least there were leftovers that he could take to Tina.
Gavin put the phone on speaker so that Nines could hear the conversation. “Again, he’s not my husband. Not. We just so happen to live together a little bit, and we went on a date. Oh, and Nines kissed me.”
His mother almost squealed - no she did squeal - whenever Nines added, “I am officially his boyfriend.”
“Oh! Your android is speaking to us,” Sofia gasped. “Hello, Nine-Hundred. It is so nice to hear from you again. You are dating my boy? This is wonderful news. Sono così felice! You are a good android, yes. An Italian android.” There was a pause. “I have some thirium for you.”
“Thank you, Miss Reed,” Nines replied cordially, putting on the brakes as they approached a yellow light. “I am looking forward to visiting with you again. And, please, call me Nines. I do not consider myself Italian, as I only have a few bio components that are from Rome and Venice respectively, but I take your words as compliments.”
"How silly! Divertente, Gavin. He is the perfect man for you.”
"Ma,” Gavin protested, his cheeks flushing.
“I will see you soon,” Sofia reminded them, and it was clear that she was exhilarated to spend some time with Nines and her son. She should’ve hated androids for all that they had done to her, and yet she was as forgiving as they came. Holding grudges or disliking people simply wasn’t her style.
How did he get stuck with such a good boyfriend? “We’ll be there in like, fifteen minutes,” he said. It was only a five minute drive to her house, but Gavin had wanted to spend at least a good ten minutes or so kissing Nines. He and his mother shared their goodbyes, their addio, and then Gavin hung up. Nines glanced at him curiously as he asked him to pull over on the side of the road.
“Alexa, set a timer for ten minutes,” Gavin told him once the car stopped, smirking flirtatiously as he unbuckled and climbed into the back seat of the vehicle.
Nines glared at him for a minute for his Alexa comment before his LED burned a bright, cherry red. He recognized what was happening and his thirium pump stuttered. “Detective,” he breathed, and then he was following after him. He pinned Gavin to the seat and looked into his eyes. Then, Nines proceeded to kiss him hard and grab handfuls of his rear end.
“You always, mmn, touch me there,” Gavin breathed in-between kisses. “What’s that all about, huh?”
“I like it,” Nines whispered, kissing a patterned trail down Gavin’s throat. He stopped at his collarbone and began to leave dark marks, until Gavin was gasping and clutching at his white jacket. Nines had nearly covered him in hickeys. There were four or five on his neck. Gavin had lost count. Maybe he had six on his collar. It was probably unhealthy to be getting this many bruises at once, but he didn’t care.
“Whoa, Nines, let’s uh…” he trailed off, his face flushed as his thoughts wandered. Nines had placed one hand in between his legs, cupping him. “Uh, m-maybe we should keep it PG for now.”
Nines smirked against Gavin’s skin. “We have eight minutes and fifteen seconds, my lover. It takes the average male far less time than that to reach completion, and I have researched many instructional references to improve my accuracy on -”
“Nines,” Gavin chuckled nervously, his voice a little hoarse. “Lover? Okay, obviously I totally want you to do whatever you were going to do, but uh, I don’t know. Maybe not in here, in the car. Anyone could see, and l don’t think that it’s a good idea to do this before we go and visit someone. Especially my mom. She knows things.”
“I see. You would prefer a bed, and more time,” Nines tried to tell him, one hand stroking over Gavin’s inner thigh. He loved to see the detective so worked up and red over things like this. It made him feel powerful and in control of the situation. Nines didn’t want to imply that he liked to subjugate Gavin, but he did. He knew what he wanted and he had an intense desire to take. Nines would take whatever Gavin gave to him.
Gavin swallowed hard. “Yes,” he eventually responded. “And, like, a second date. Maybe even a third. You know, just before we get to anything like that.”
"I concede,” Nines said, a twinkle in his eyes. He admired how Gavin wanted to take things slow; it only made their relationship that much more special because it wasn’t purely physical and Gavin wanted to know him better. He sat on the car seat next to Gavin, maneuvering and lifting him so that Gavin was straddling his lap. For some reason, he enjoyed this position. He liked how he and Gavin were eye-to-eye, and how he could easily access Gavin’s backside. His hands strayed to Gavin’s hips and then he reached around and squeezed.
The action caused Gavin to roll his eyes and put on an entertained smile. “You must really fucking like my ass a lot,” he sighed, his face still stained crimson. Nines could lift him like he weighed nothing and it was really amazing. He wondered what it would be like when they got to that point, and how passionate Nines could get. He looped his arms around Nines’ neck and he leaned down to brush their noses together.
“You’re correct,” Nines replied, lightly bucking his hips up and making the human gasp on top of him. “What will we do for our second date, Detective Reed?”
"Don’t laugh at me, but I want to go star gazing. Maybe even play truth or dare. I haven’t played that with an android before.” Gavin paused, giving Nines a soft kiss. He was so easily distracted by him.
Nines hummed against his lips. “I assent this, beloved.”
Gavin groaned and looked up at the ceiling of the car, his blush traveling to the bridge of his nose. “Ugh, you’re so old school. Who even calls people beloved anymore?”
“I would like to hear what you would call me.”
“I’d call you Nines.”
Nines almost seemed to pout. Almost. “Humans have pet names that they give to one another, and I want one.”
“Well, I guess if I had to give you one I’d call you, uh… tesoro. It means sweetheart, but you probably knew that already because androids speak a fuckton of languages. Maybe I’d call you honey, or miele. That’s a big maybe.”
“I like honey,” Nines confessed. His hands slid up Gavin’s lower back and he held his waist, tilting his head to the side. “What about our third date, the one after star gazing?”
“Karaoke,” Gavin joked, cupping Nines’ cheek with his left palm. He smoothed his thumb over the android’s face and he sighed with delectation, leaning down to kiss his lips again.
“You are an atrocious singer,” Nines murmured, kissing Gavin back and chasing his lips when Gavin pulled away.
“Hey, I haven’t even harmonized with you yet.”
“I’ve heard your horrible, tuneless voice during our car rides.”
“Italians are great at singing, so fuck off.”
They started to kiss again, and it was really nice. Gavin could spend forever like that, sitting there in the car pressed up against his favorite person - the one he could tolerate the most. He kissed Nines’ LED a few times, laughing quietly when it changed into a calm, blue color.
“We should visit the Belle Isle Aquarium,” Nines suggested, and then he mischievously ducked down to playfully bite and kiss at Gavin’s neck. The human moaned in surprise and his hands flew to Nines’ dark hair to tug hopelessly at the strands. Nines preened from the attention and was really proud to have satisfied his human yet again. “Four minutes and ten seconds.”
Upon hearing they had a little bit of time left, Gavin’s kisses became more desperate. He rocked against Nines and pulled him as close at he could possibly stand. “Fuck, okay. We’ll go see some weird fish together, I don’t even care as long as you’re there.”
“I love you,” Nines whispered against his lips.
“Shit. You can’t just say that out of nowhere.”
“I just did.”
“I know you did, smartass. Ugh. You’re obnoxiously cute and it makes me fucking sick.”
Nines grinned endearingly and nuzzled into Gavin. “In that case, you should visit a doctor. Three minutes and two seconds remaining.”
Gavin surged forward and pushed Nines back against the seat, kissing him harder. He was going to make the most of the time alone that they had together to get rid of some tension. It had been building up all day long and now he was finally getting the chance to do something. “I, um… love you too. Honey.”
Those three words left him a lot easier now, and that was scary.
The time eventually passed by and they were driving to see his mother. Gavin was trying to cover up the dark, visible marks on his neck with his jacket, but it was useless. His mother would see that he had new ones and there was ultimately nothing he could do. To be more optimistic, though, at least he had a passionate boyfriend who liked to stake his claim. Having the hickeys made Gavin feel like he was important to Nines, and they were pleasant reminders that Nines adored him.
Nines expertly parked the vehicle by the curb. Gavin grabbed his mother’s mail for her and he carried it to the front door, his free hand laced up with his boyfriend’s. He still couldn’t believe that they were dating. The android rang the doorbell and waited patiently with his detective, kissing Gavin’s lips once. Or had it been twice?
The door opened and Sofia stood there with wide green eyes. She had her black hair tied in a loose bun and she was wearing a weathered red apron with copious stains on the front. As usual, she had a dash of flour smeared on her cheek. A pink and white cameo was around her neck, and her wedding ring was missing from her finger. Normally she didn’t wear it to begin with, though. She looked very happy to see the two of them.
“Hello, Miss Reed. Your son and I would like to offer our assistance in the kitchen.”
“Oh! What a helpful android. Utile,” Sofia remarked, pinching Nines’ cheek and giving him a hug. She turned to smile at her son, doing the same to him. “I am so very happy that you have come to see me. Dinner is almost done, so we can… parlarci. Parlare del matrimonio. I made a scrap book.”
Gavin blushed with embarrassment. “Ma, please. We’re not talking about a wedding.” He handed her the mail.
Nines squeezed Gavin’s hand. “I am interested to see this scrap book. Optimal months for a wedding are June, September, and October. I believe that late September would be the best choice. Have you considered the location yet?”
Sofia was smiling. She invited the pair inside. “The Iroquois Club,” she suggested, “or we could go to Italy and have the wedding there. Either way, the entire family is coming. Famiglia.”
“Uh, that’s a huge no. Nines is scared of planes,” Gavin said quickly, washing his hands in the sink. “We would have to get married here, if we ever got married. Which would be years in the future, okay? Like, years. And the whole family is so not coming to our wedding.”
Nines walked over to the coffee table where he spotted the book and the thumbed through it. “A wedding does seem far away, but time passes faster than most think.” He paused on the second page. There were wooden beams and very lovely stone. Nines didn’t know everything about human weddings, but he could see the appeal. After doing a search in his head and finding more images, he decided that he liked it.
“Whatever,” Gavin huffed.
“Do not dismiss your marito, Gavin. He is a good android, and he wants to marry you.”
“Ma, you’re really pushing it. You’re going to scare him away.”
“If Nines truly cares for you, then nothing will scare him. Niente lo farà.”
“I am not easily intimidated,” Nines piped up from where he was seated on the couch, looking through three potential suits that Sofia had cut out from magazines and pasted on the pages. It read: Abiti da sposo per mio figlio. Groom clothes for my son.
Braveman Men’s Shawl Lapel Runway 2 Piece Tuxedo — Burgundy
"Charleston" Black Tuxedo Jacket
Braveman Men’s Shawl Lapel Runway 2 Piece Tuxedo — Indigo
After imaging Gavin in them, Nines started to feel like it wouldn’t be long until they both had silver rings on their fingers. He could picture Gavin walking to him down an aisle in a dimly lit room, lights guiding his way. He could see Gavin holding a bouquet of portrait pink apothecary's roses and staring at Nines like he was his entire world. But still, he was getting way ahead of himself and out of line. Androids didn’t normally imagine things, and yet here Nines was, picturing a wedding when they hadn’t even gone on a second date yet.
Clueless to Nines’ inner musings, Gavin stood in the kitchen and he helped Sofia with the final touches of the gelato. He sighed heavily with embarrassment and he kept glancing over at Nines, watching as the android looked at every page. Sofia wasn’t obsessive, but when it came to his love life she was quite invested and eager.
The trio sat around the table once dinner was ready. Nines had a cup of almond-smelling thirium that made Gavin gag, and he and his mother had warm meals. Underneath the table, Nines had his hand resting on Gavin’s thigh. “I believe that Detective Reed would look very personable in a burgundy color. Or any color, for that matter.”
The man being discussed looked up from his arancini, his cheeks coloring. “Nines,” he beseeched, his mouth half-full.
“I also favor the indigo suit.”
Sofia smiled and set down her fork. She had a glass of red wine on the table to drink with her meal. “My Gavin is so lucky. Fortunato ad averti.” She sighed and took a sip from her glass. “I like the colorful suits. Colori. In Italy, men like to wear lots of colors.”
”Ma, I’m not wearing yellow or mint green. If I’m going to get married, which I don’t even know why in the hell we’re still talking about this, then I want it to be normal. I want something small and quiet.” Gavin huffed and stabbed the arancini with his fork a little more violently than he had planned. “What’s been going on with you?” He asked, attempting to change the subject.
”It will not be quiet, not if your zio Matteo is coming. You know he is loud,” Sofia said honestly, setting down the wine glass. “I have started gardening. It is hard to grow many things here because it is so dark and cold. Freddo. I planted a phalaenopsis by the windowsill.”
Gavin blinked. “A moth orchid? Why?”
“It lasts for many months, and it needs cool nights,” Sofia explained, gesturing to the plant. A few white flowers were blooming on the top, but it looked like it was just barely hanging on. Sofia had gardened a lot back in Italy, but now she couldn’t find the energy or right climate to do so anymore. “How are your pets?”
“Good,” Gavin confessed. He was glad to be off of the wedding topic. “Cinna’s been avoiding me, but that’s normal. Bruno sleeps a lot. He’s pretty old, you know…” He trailed off. “But he’s really a good dog.”
Nines set his thirium down and he glowed at the mention of Gavin's pets. “Just as Connor does, I seem to have a penchant for animals.”
“They both really like Nines,” Gavin confessed, his lips curling into a smile. "I was surprised with Cinna, especially. She's his number one fan, I think. She'll actually come and greet him." He stood up and carried his plate to the sink, starting to wash it. He never liked to leave a mess behind for his mother to clean.
“Gavin, you did not eat much,” Sofia commented, a perturbed expression forming on her face. “You are so skinny. Magro. Are you okay?” She stood up and turned off the sink to get him to look at her. “È il tuo lavoro? Work is too hard?”
Gavin leaned his hip against the counter, his hands covered in clear dish soap bubbles. “What? No. No, I love work, it’s just that -"
“Detective Reed is very tired,” Nines answered for him, trying to reassure Sofia. He stood up and approached the two of them, curling an arm around Gavin. “He has had a long day, and he needs to rest. I will see to it that he gets home safely,” he tacked on, pulling Gavin to his chest. “Allow me to take care of this mess. I will have the kitchen immaculate.”
“Oh,” Sofia said softly. “That is molto gentile of you, Mr. Nines…”
Nines gave her a dazzling smile and he turned on the sink to let Gavin rinse off the soap. “Please, take him into the living room to rest.”
They stayed for another fifteen minutes as Nines scrubbed and cleaned. He didn’t mind at all, despite housekeeping not being one of his main functions or a part of his programming. Nines welcomed domesticity because it allowed him to take care of Gavin, and to be in control of things. And, of course, it was adorable to see Gavin curled up on the couch in the living room with his eyes shut. Sofia had placed an olive green blanket over him and brushed back his dark hair. Nines could see a lot similarities between the two of them.
Gavin drowsily woke up when Nines finished cleaning so that he could stumble out of the house and climb in the passenger side of the car. Nines drove them home and Sofia put leftovers in the back seat for later.
Nines parked outside of Gavin’s apartment and he stared over at him, watching his chest rising and falling slowly. Gavin was peaceful when he dreamed. He decided to transport him inside, cradling him in his arms, and he deposited the sleepy man on his bed moments later. Gavin’s eyes were half open.
“Did you fucking carry me?” He asked, his voice a soft croak. “All the way here?”
“Yes,” Nines answered, sitting on the mattress next to him.
Gavin smiled a bit. “Ti amo tanto,” he muttered, clinging to Nines’ sleeve. “Stenditi con me?” He shifted and made some room for Nines, patting the mattress two times.
The android took the hint and he removed his jacket. He folded it neatly and set it on the nightstand, and then he slipped off his shoes. Nines spread out on his side of the bed and he kissed the top of Gavin’s head. “Goodnight, my darling,” he whispered, wrapping an arm around Gavin’s torso.
Upon being kissed and held, Gavin shivered. “Ma’s right. I’m fortunato to have you. Molto fortunato.”
"I have found that human mothers are always correct, no matter the circumstance," Nines murmured, pulling a throw blanket over Gavin.
Before the pair could officially drift off, Gavin's cellphone rang. Gavin groaned loudly and dug through the vibrating pocket of his jeans to find it, and when he did he hit the answer button. He couldn't be bothered to check the caller ID nowadays. "Fucking what is it? What?”
"Detective Reed, it's Connor."
Gavin groaned loudly and he sat up, pushing his hair out of his eyes. So much for resting a little and taking it easy. "Fuck you. I'm trying to sleep, asshole. I swear, if you call me one more time I'm going to -"
"It's about Nines."
"What the fuck are you talking about, man? He's right here with me," Gavin scoffed. He glanced over at the taller android in the dark room, watching his blue LED spin. "Look, I told you I'm not going to break his heart or anything, so I really don't get what this call is about."
Connor's voice was unsteady. "He's safe? He's with you?"
"That's what I said, dipshit. Bye."
"No, don't hang up -"
"What a prick," Gavin huffed, covering the mic with his hand. "Nines, can you believe this? Why is your brother so -"
"- need to be careful. Do you hear me? Detective? Gavin?"
He groaned and put the phone back up to his ear. "Yeah, okay, whatever. We're totally being careful all the time. Shut up already."
Connor sighed deeply. "This is a dangerous case. Your involvement worries me. Be mindful. Is your door currently locked?"
"Duh," Gavin answered, and at the same time Nines shook his head.
"Hold up. Nines, you didn't fucking lock the door?"
"My hands were full," Nines told him blamelessly, shrugging his shoulders. "I will do it now."
There was a low growl coming from Bruno in the living room. Gavin jumped and he quickly scrambled to his bedroom door, slamming it shut hard just as heavy footsteps approached and a fist began pounding. Goosebumps broke out over his skin and a chill went through his very core.
Someone was in his apartment.
Chapter 14: Bieber
After Nines forgets to lock the door, they receive a surprise from the intruder. Meanwhile, Connor finds a safe place for them to go and uncovers the name behind the serial killer.
As the door knob wiggled noisily, Nines quickly picked up Gavin's dresser and he placed it in front of the entrance to put a barrier between them and the intruder. Nines was definitely strong enough to smash anyone’s head in, but they didn’t know whether or not this person had a gun. Guns and androids didn’t mix, and Nines knew for a fact that Gavin would try to get in front of him if shots rang out.
Bruno was barking ferociously now, snapping and snarling. Gavin swore if anything happened to that dog then he would absolutely die inside. Cinna was on Gavin’s nightstand in the room with them, hissing and digging her claws into the wood. Just as Gavin had suspected before, animals always knew who was good and who was bad.
“Get behind me,” Nines breathed out, his LED red.
“Fuck you, I’m not doing that. If we’re dying, we’re dying together.”
Gavin scoffed outright, fishing through his pillowcase to grab his gun. Yes, he kept one in his pillow. Was it necessary? Totally. Especially when he had this job. “It would’ve been romantic if you weren’t being a smartass - yet again, might I add.”
Nines took the gun from him and pointed it at the door, taking off the safety. He pushed Gavin behind him and got into a protective stance. “We’re armed and the police are on their way. Leave now or be shot for trespassing on this property.”
Gavin tensed up and quieted his breathing. “Oh shit.”
There was a rustling noise, and then the footsteps retreated. Literally minutes later, Connor was inside the house with Hank. “Nines? Nines!” He called, his tone panicked and warped. “Detective Reed? Gavin Reed? Bruno, where’s Gavin?”
“In here,” came Gavin’s weak reply. He got Nines to move the dresser away from the door, and they left his room. He was feeling really shaken up and a lot of things had happened in the past few days. Gavin was tired and he almost couldn’t believe his rotten luck. At least he had Nines, Tina, and his mom. And Connor, he supposed. He tried not to think too much about what would’ve happened if he hadn’t answered that phone call.
Connor immediately went to them both, squeezing them tightly in a group hug. He sighed with relief and closed his eyes. “I had a feeling that something was very, very wrong. I’m glad that I called.”
“Yeah, me too. Fuck.” Gavin blanched, and he went over to give his dog a hug. Bruno licked his cheek and sat down, staring at him with his sweet eyes. Even though he was an older dog, he still looked out for Gavin and he had tried to keep the intruder from getting to him. “Good boy,” he whispered. “Bravo cane. Bruno, il mio dolce ragazzo.” He brushed his fingers through his soft fur.
Hank lowered his gun after scoping out the place and he locked the front door. “What a fucking night this has been,” he mumbled, plopping down onto the couch. He glanced at the coffee table and his eyebrows drew together with confusion. “Uh, Connor? Mind coming over here for a minute?”
“What is it, Lieutenant?” The RK800 questioned, and then he spotted a piece of paper. Immediately he walked over, picked it up, and then scanned it for prints. The reading was negative.
“Oh, great, a fucking love note,” Hank groused, glaring at the ceiling.
Gavin looked up from where he was on his knees on the floor. “A love note?” He asked, because if anyone should be reading love notes in his house then it was supposed to be him. His face flushed with embarrassment and he stared at Nines, who looked blankly back at him.
Hank grimaced and shook his head. “I meant from the killer. Take your mind out of the gutter, kid.”
“Fuck off, old man. My mind’s all over the place. Did you have to word it like that?” Gavin asked, wincing a little. He walked over toward Connor, glancing down at the words. It was a stereotypical serial killer letter, with individual letters snipped out from magazines and glued on to form words. Fantastic, they were dealing with a sociopath who liked to play mind games.
[d] [E] [a] [r]
[DE] [tec] [tive] [s]
[i] [WiLL] [fIND] [yo] [u]
[a] [Nd] [GEt] [you]
[dO] [N] [oT] [r U] [N]
[i] [A] [m] [FA] [sTe] [R]
After reading the note, Gavin was suddenly filled with unease. J and B, those initials were the same as the ones on that mutilated body. How had this creep found out where he lived so fast? What else did he know about Gavin? He glanced at Nines nervously. “Man, what an overachieving piece of shit. Can’t he just use the postage system like everyone else instead of hand delivering?”
“This symbol. I recognize it,” Nines muttered. “A sideways H. The Anti Hominums. He wants to destroy humans. Our killer is an android.” He shook his head and he quickly reached for Gavin, pulling him to his chest and glancing around the room as if Gavin was going to be ambushed any second.
“Nines, ease up,” Gavin choked out, breathing normally when Nines loosened his grip a little.
Connor appeared to be very uncomfortable at the mention of the anti-human android group. “If this android is going after Gavin, then he might attack those who are closest to him.”
“How does this Justin Bieber fucker know where I live? Does he know where my mom lives? We just left her house. He knows. I have to call her and warn her,” Gavin blurted out all at once, his eyes wide with alarm. Yes, he had dealt with psychotic cases before, but the killers had never found his home and went after him. Normally he could handle crazy people, but apparently not people who carved up other people’s faces and cut their backs open with bone saws.
“No, don’t call her. It will be faster and safer if we pick her up in Hank’s car and bring her with us. She needs to relocate, all of you do, and I know just the place,” Connor said, trying to keep his voice soothing. He knew how important Gavin’s mother was to him. “Nines, take Gavin to the precinct. I’ll meet you there in twenty-three minutes with Miss Reed. Hank, contact Tina and let her know as soon as possible. Let’s go.”
Gavin quickly picked up Cinna and held her close, and Nines put Bruno’s collar on to walk him out. He wasn’t sure where they were going to go or what plans Connor had, but he knew that he couldn’t stay here - not where he could be found or where a killer could sneak into his home at night.
As instructed, Nines drove Gavin and the two animals to the precinct parking lot to wait for Connor to come back with Sofia. Tina had to show up, too. Gavin was breathing unevenly in the passenger seat, about to pass out because he just couldn’t lose them. He buried his face into Nines’ chest and shook like a leaf. He wouldn’t be able to calm down until he saw everyone again.
Nines ran a hand down Gavin’s back, hugging him tightly. “I’m sincerely repentant for not bolting the front do -“
“I know that you are. I know. It was a mistake,” Gavin sniffled and tightened his grip on him, not wanting to ever let go. He didn’t even want to think about what could’ve happened. He and Nines had been a little careless lately because they were so wrapped up in each other. Love tended to blind people. “We shouldn’t be together,” he eventually whispered.
Nines tensed up. “What?”
“At least until this whole case is over with, okay? We shouldn’t do this. I get so distracted by you and you’re all I can think about. I don’t know what else to do for us to focus on catching this guy. This isn’t just a case anymore; somehow this JB asshole knows who I am and where I live, and he might’ve gotten my -“ he inhaled sharply. “My ma, he might’ve found her and…” he trailed off brokenly, shaking his head.
There was silence, except for Bruno’s incessant panting in the back seat. “You’re breaking up with me?” Nines asked hollowly, loosening his grip on Gavin. “How could that possibly be beneficial to this situation? We are stronger together, not apart. I love -"
“Don’t say it, Nines. Alright?”
“I love you,” Nines insisted. “I refuse to split up.”
“You’re making this really difficult.”
Nines squinted at him. “That’s my intention.”
Gavin sighed and wiped his eyes, shaking his head. “Nines, I’m doing this for us.”
“In that case, I will be breaking up with you.”
“Now wait just a damn minute, you plastic prick,” Gavin gawked, a look of disbelief on his face. “Is this seriously happening? You’re not breaking up with me, I’m breaking up with you. That’s how this is going to go.”
“No?” Gavin scoffed. “I broke up with you first!”
“I broke up with you second.”
“You’re - you’re the most excruciating android I’ve ever met!”
Nines turned on the radio to shut him up, and to possibly distract Gavin from how terrified he was. Gavin was trying to push him away because he was scared, and Nines knew that. Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex came on, and it quieted him. What else could they say?
You leapt from crumbling bridges watching cityscapes turn to dust
Filming helicopters crashing in the ocean from way above
Got the music in you baby, tell me why
Got the music in you baby, tell me why
You've been locked in here forever and you just can't say goodbye
Kisses on the foreheads of the lovers wrapped in your arms
You've been hiding them in hollowed out pianos left in the dark
Got the music in you baby, tell me why
Got the music in you baby, tell me why
You've been locked in here forever and you just can't say goodbye
Gavin sighed and looked up at him as the song progressed. It was crazy how a song could make him feel better and change his mood entirely. Nines was staring at him gently, and he had one hand on Gavin’s knee.
Oh, when you're all alone, I will reach for you
When you're feeling low, I will be there, too
They were kissing heavily all of a sudden. Music combined with Nines could fix things so quickly. Already, Gavin didn’t want them to break up and he didn’t even want to think about it. Nines was right, as usual. “Fine,” he whispered in between kisses. “Let’s just fucking stay together.”
Nines smiled wide and pulled Gavin into his chest. “We’ll catch him as a team, Detective Reed. Justice will prevail in the end.”
“I sure hope that you’re right about this one, honey.”
Hank’s car pulled up with Connor behind the wheel. Tina and Sofia were sitting in the back seat, looking genuinely horrified that a serial killer potentially could have tracked them down that night and got them. Sofia had tears in her eyes and she was very pale, and Tina was mostly blank-faced and shocked. It took a lot to bring Tina down. Connor and Tina were quietly talking about safety plans. A few seconds later, Hank climbed out of the passenger side and he helped Sofia toward Gavin’s car so that she could see her boy.
“Figlio!” Sofia sobbed, throwing her arms around Gavin as soon as he got out to give her a hug. She squeezed him tight and her tears drenched his shirt. Gavin had only seen her upset a certain number of times in his life.
”Hey, it’s okay,” Gavin told her, a small smile on his face. “You’re okay.”
Tina gave him a separate hug, the kind that only friends could give to each other. After letting out a few emotions, they went inside the empty precinct and Connor gave them some details of what was going to happen. Why was Connor in charge, again?
“You and Gavin are going to be living at the Ennis Center For Children,” Connor said carefully to his brother. “As undercover caseworkers, or possibly volunteers. It’s here in Detroit, so you can still work on the case, but from a safe distance. Tina and Sofia are going to be further - in Canada with Kara, Alice, and Luther. And Celeste.”
Nines nodded slowly. “Protecting Gavin is of my utmost priority,” he murmured.
“We’re going to a foster care center?” Gavin asked.
“I know, my first thought exactly. You’re going to have a difficult time integrating with children,” Connor muttered, his LED yellow.
Hank snorted aloud.
“Shut up, Anderson! I’m great with kids,” Gavin argued, glaring over at him heavily.
”Doubtful, Reed. You and children don’t mix.”
“I’m going to agree with them on this one, Gav,” Tina added. “You don’t seem like the kind of guy who would want to be around children. If we annoy you, imagine how much patience you’ll need while you’re there.”
“Children are different!”
“My son is very nice to his nieces in Italy,” Sofia defended, hugging Gavin’s arm. “He lets them put rossetto e ombretto on his face. Lipstick and eyeshadow. And mascara. È molto dolce.”
“Eyeshadow and mascara?” Hank asked, his eyebrows almost at his hairline.
“Lipstick? Once, he tried mine out when he got super drunk at my New Year’s Eve bash,” Tina told, and immediately Gavin went pink and made a noise of horror.
His voice went up a few octaves because he just couldn’t believe they were talking about this, and that Tina had betrayed him. “Shut - what part of secret do you not understand, Tina? I mean. Fanculo! Questa è una cazzata… Everyone shut up. Nines, stop fucking looking at me like that.”
Nines quickly dropped his gaze, but then he was staring at Gavin once more, a little heatedly. It was clear that he was picturing him with some soft red lipstick on, black lashes, and a subtle sweep of color on his eyelids.
“Anyway,” Connor continued, trying to put emphasis on how important this was. “You’ll be staying there for the time being, undercover. Hank and I will also be helping with the case to speed things along. Four minds are better than two.”
“Is no one going to talk about how Gavin Reed wore makeup?” Chris said from his desk. Everyone suddenly turned around and they noticed him there. He was taking on the night shift.
“Sta 'zitto!” Gavin cried. “You all exist to torment me or something, what the fuck.”
Nines placed a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to relax him. “I don’t mind makeup, Detective Reed.”
“Of course you don’t, you kinky bastard,” Gavin erupted, jerking away from him. “Can we just - get going? Who’s going to watch Cinna and Bruno while we’re at the foster home?”
“I will,” Connor said immediately.
“Hell no,” Hank protested. “I’m not having three pets in the house, Connor. Those are the rules.”
Connor turned to peer at Hank with his big, brown eyes. There was an obvious plead in his expression and he gestured to the two pets, who were lounging at their feet on the tiled floor. “This is a state of emergency, Lieutenant. I am warranted to care for Gavin’s animals.”
“Manipulative android,” Hank finally said, throwing both of his hands up in the air with defeat. There was no way he could have denied Connor, not with the way he was able to effortlessly make himself look like a sad puppy.
“So it’s settled? Everyone knows what they’re doing?” Gavin asked, nudging Nines a little whenever the tall, hypnotized android leaned into him. Even if Nines begged him, Gavin wasn’t going to be dolling himself up with makeup like that. He just wasn’t. That was only reserved for his nieces, and drunken episodes.
The party split up. Connor gave them hugs, Sofia pinched their faces, Tina handed Gavin her cherry lipstick (to Nines’ delight), and Hank clapped a firm hand on their shoulders like a total dad. With their plan in motion, Gavin and Nines left the department and took an automated taxi so that they could sleep on the way to their destination, and also so their car couldn’t be traced by this Bieber guy. Gavin was referring him to that now because it made him sound less scary.
It was almost one o’clock in the morning by the time they arrived. Gavin climbed out of the car and he walked with Nines to the Ennis Center For Children. They were ushered inside by an older woman with white hair named Betty, who had been waiting for them at the door. Betty quietly led them down a hallway and into a room. The walls were a soft blue.
“You’ll be safe here. In the morning the staff will need help with serving breakfast. After that, you can go back to the department and get busy,” Betty said, smiling at the pair. “And I suppose it would be nice to have a small break from whatever investigation you’re doing.”
“How did you know about all of this so quickly, on this short of a notice?” Gavin wondered as Betty handed them some towels and soaps. Obviously Connor hadn’t given her any details about their case, because they weren’t supposed to talk about it when it was ongoing.
“Oh, we all know Connor here. He volunteers to help the children with homework every few weeks,” Betty replied. “And sometimes he brings in this older fellow named Hank, and his Saint Bernard. The children adore them so much.”
Gavin blinked and shared a look with Nines. He didn’t think that Connor or Hank would ever do anything like that. It turned out that he really knew nothing about either of them, no matter how many days of the year they worked with one another. “Huh. Well, alright.”
“Detective Reed and I will gladly lend a hand for breakfast,” Nines concluded, expressing patience and a kind good night despite the fact that they were both incredibly drained.
Whenever they were alone, Gavin kicked off his shoes and he carried the towels and soaps into the bathroom that Betty had showed them on their way inside. He dragged Nines behind him and closed the door, clicking the lock. Shower, bed, breakfast duty, and catch Bieber. Those were the four tasks running through his head. Gavin turned on the shower and started to undress. Nines watched him.
“Dude. Stop staring like a perv. Get naked so we can get this over with and go to bed,” Gavin huffed, making Nines jump a little and look away. If only androids could blush - but Nines did have evidence of blue on his cheeks, so maybe he could.
The android undressed and they both cleaned up really quickly. This time there weren’t any boxers involved, but Gavin didn’t care. Nines didn’t even have any because he was still going commando. Gavin was too tired to take any caution, or at least he thought he was. His eyes wandered and he couldn’t help but subtly check Nines out.
“Stop staring like a perv,” Nines echoed, grabbing Gavin’s chin to tip his head up.
Having been caught, Gavin blushed deeply and he washed the suds off of his body. “Don’t use my own words against me, alright? I didn’t think that Cyberlife would -“
“Would what, Detective Reed? Equip me so generously?”
“Uh, that’s one word for it,” Gavin replied hesitantly.
They finished showering with little to no shenanigans. There were two twin bed sizes, so they pushed them together to make one. Gavin plopped down onto his usual side and Nines climbed in after him.
“Did you lock the door?” Gavin asked, and he wasn’t trying to be a jerk about it. He just wanted to make sure because he was really nervous.
“The doors do not have locks. This is a foster home,” Nines explained, and somehow that made things a little bit worse. They cuddled under the blankets and the room went silent for a moment. That is, until Nines opened his mouth. “Did you really wear makeup?”
There was a pause. “Would you ever wear it if I asked you?”
“Nines, I’m being totally serious about dropping this topic. Those were special occasions.”
“Is being with me not a special occasion?”
“Listen to me: I’ll think about it if that’ll make you happy. Now go into your stupid stasis mode and let’s get some sleep.”
Another pause. “Your mother was right.”
Gavin sighed heavily, rolling on his side to look at Nines’ yellow blinking LED. “About what?”
“You’re underweight. You should be eating more often because your BMI has dropped significantly. It was dropping even while I first met you,” Nines murmured, placing a hand on Gavin’s hip.
“Nines, I don’t fucking care,” Gavin groaned. “I’m tired. What even brought this up?”
“I was ‘staring like a perv’ as you put it. In the shower, I noticed.”
Gavin cupped Nines’ jaw and ran his thumb over the android’s soft lips. He leaned in and kissed him sweetly. “I’m stress-fasting, but okay. I’ll eat more tomorrow, if that’ll make you be quiet so I can sleep. Do we have a deal?”
“Yes,” Nines eventually answered.
They slept, and in the morning they woke up to the sound of children running around in the hall. Gavin grabbed his pillow and covered his head with it, making a sound of annoyance. Nines chuckled lowly and squeezed Gavin’s ass.
“I don’t want to make breakfast for loud tiny tots.”
“That’s unfortunate, because we agreed to it,” Nines said, sitting up to start getting dressed. Gavin grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the bed, and the android went willingly so he could kiss Gavin’s cheek. “My dear, you should put on some clothing.”
“Sure, honey. Whatever you say,” Gavin spoke in a hushed tone. He eventually climbed out of bed and he began to pull on his clothes from yesterday. He rolled up his sleeves so that he could help the staff with breakfast. Bacon, eggs, and toast wafted from the downstairs kitchen. Children were hopping all around them as they entered the mess hall. Nines seemed delighted by all of the smaller humans, whereas Gavin was just barely tolerating them.
Gavin was weary of children because he could never say no to them. They were too cute and small, and innocent. Well, half-innocent, depending on the child. He liked to paint with them though because while they did make a mess they had a lot of creativity. It was fun to watch them learn, grow, and incorrectly pronounce words.
Betty greeted them in the mess hall, and they got to work. It didn’t take long until they were leaving and heading off to their real jobs. Connor had brought them clothes to change into at the department. Nines received one of Hank’s weird, patterned button up shirts and jeans to put on (which had to be held up with suspenders). Gavin got one of Connor’s suits that fit a little loosely on him. They changed together in the bathroom and Nines had finally, thankfully put on some boxers.
“Hank and I have found a clue,” Connor said when the pair came out together in their borrowed clothes.
”How about instead of announcing it to the world, you just go right out and say it?” Gavin asked irritably.
Nines gave Connor an apologetic look. “I’ll brew him a cup of coffee.”
“I’m right here, asshole. I can hear you,” Gavin complained, turning to watch Nines walk away - which was a good decision, because Nines’ butt looked surprisingly amazing in loose jeans. “He looks cute, huh?”
Connor’s eye twitched and he glared at Gavin. “Please don’t ask me that ever again.”
“Oh, right.” Gavin blushed hard and he cleared his throat. “Brothers and all. Got it. So, what was this clue that you found?”
“I believe we’ve found his correct model number and name.”
Gavin grinned halfheartedly. “Duh, it’s Justin Bieber.”
Connor sighed impatiently. “Be more resolute, Detective Reed. It was found according to the letter in your home. I managed to obtain a sample from it. Androids are not immune from paper cuts. There was a microscopic trace of thirium on one of the magazine letters.”
“Okay, that’s cool. So, what’s his name?”
“Jevic Berman, model MP500.”
“A household assistant? The basic model?” Nines asked when he returned, holding a steaming cup of coffee for Gavin.
Gavin choked on his coffee, laughing aloud. “Basic? What, you mean like a basic bitch?”
“I thought being a bitch was a good thing,” Nines recalled.
“Depends on the bitch. I mean, if this Bieber dude is basic -“
“- Berman,” Connor corrected.
“- then he lacks originality. Maybe that’s why he decided to go around fucking shit up.”
“I second that,” Hank said from his desk. “Ya Basic is a serious insult.”
Nines looked between Gavin and Connor with determination. “Then let’s find him so we can verbally insult him more.”
“That’s more like it, honey.”