It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. Android weddings had been happening for 5 years, android/human weddings for 3.
Connor shouldn’t’ve felt like something was going to go wrong. There were no cameras, no one besides their friends.
But when they got to the church, no music played, and almost everyone was gone. Hank, Markus and Simon, Josh, North and Ada, and Nines and Gavin were the only ones still there.
North was fuming , screaming her head off at the poor guy Dylan had told to call it off.
“Connor?” Nines asked, a gentle hand on his arm.
“I would like to leave,” Connor whispered, quieter than he’d ever spoken before.
“Do you care where?” Nines prompted again, his husband digging through his pocket for his keys.
“Anywhere without him,” Connor answered honestly.
Nines slipped a protective arm around Connor’s shoulders and led the numb android out the back, to the weathered black car, a pride flag window sticker being the only colour on the entire vehicle. Nines closed the car door, and the two of them had a whispered conversation before Gavin took the wheel and Nines slid into the car next to Connor.
“What can we do?”
“I just want today to be over,” Connor whispered, putting his head in his hands.
“Okay, I know you said dogs shorter than a foot are rat dogs,” Gavin said, unlocking the door to their apartment. “But corgi puppy.”
Connor’s LED flashed blue for the first time in four hours, a ghost of a flicker of excitement in his eyes. Gavin opened the door and scooped Asshole up, dropping her on the couch and stepping into the puppy play area they’d put together.
The tiny fences were barely two feet tall, and ShitNugget’s whole body shook as Gavin gently picked her up and carefully handed her to Connor.
“Connor, meet ShitNugget,” Gavin pointed to Asshole as she lounged on the couch. “That’s Asshole, Mr. Bastard’s the white fluffball, Peaches is... Somewhere.”
“Orange tabby,” Nines added, leaning into the doggy playpen to help change out the pee-pads.
Connor smiled slightly, cradling the excited puppy in his arms, whispering something that sounded suspiciously like baby talk to her.
“They’re still trying to talk North down from full out homicide,” Nines whispered, his LED spinning yellow with the constant influx of messages.
“I’m down for homicide,” Gavin muttered.
“Agreed.” Nines looked back at Connor. “If his LED stays red much longer, I’m scanning him.”
“The look on his face...” Gavin trailed off, tying the garbage bag off.
“He didn’t seem surprised,” Nines finished.
“Uh, guys?” Connor asked, holding ShitNugget out from his body. “Your dog peed on me.”
“ Gavin ,” Nines chastised.
“Nines, I’m sure it’s not his fault-”
“I’ve been training her to piss on Dylan since we got her,” Gavin interrupted. “You probably smell like him.”
Connor stared at Gavin, his LED spinning to yellow as he processed what Gavin had just said. A few seconds passed and his LED spun to blue and he started laughing. Really laughing.
“rA9, he hated you enough already,” he managed to say between laughs.
Gavin smiled and took ShitNugget back, putting her in the playpen. “Not about making him hate me, it’s about actively antagonizing him.”
Connor’s LED spun to yellow again, his laugh dying down as he tilted his head. “Why do you hate him?” When Gavin didn’t answer he added, “Tell me, honestly.”
“None of us like him,” Gavin answered.
“Never did, to be honest,” Nines added.
“But the first year you guys were together, after the Revolution Day ceremonies, he tried to relate to me saying,” Gavin made air quotes, “‘it’s hard being with an android, you get it.’ Which, I didn’t get then, still don’t get now.”
Connor frowned and looked down at the tailored tux he was still wearing. “I need a change of clothes.”
“I can find you something,” Nines offered, and Connor nodded.
The androids retreated down the hall and Gavin pulled a treat out from the bag, holding it in his hand above the seated puppy.
“We like Connor. We don’t pee on Connor.”
ShitNugget blinked, tilting her head in much the same way Connor did, and Gavin gave her the treat before walking to the kitchen.
He opened the fridge and grabbed some of the leftover takeout, opening the smaller fridge in one of the cupboards and pulling out two bottles of thirium and emptying their contents into the coffee maker labeled ‘Thirium’ .
“Gavin, he’s shaking ,” Nines whispered, sliding his arms around his husband’s waist.
Gavin leaned back against him, waiting for the leftovers to reheat. “He just got left at the altar, he’s allowed to be whatever he is right now.”
“I’m worried about him.”
“Me too.” Gavin tilted his head to look at his husband. “We’re never getting over him, are we?”
“Been trying for six years, my love,” Nines pressed a gentle kiss to the human’s forehead. “Any had-emotions-for-42-years advice?”
The microwave beeped and Gavin pulled out his food. “Wish I did.” He aggressively stabbed a piece of chicken with a chopstick. “I’m going to kill him. He couldn’t’ve figured this out sooner ? He couldn’t even fucking stick around to tell Con himself, fucking coward .”
Nines was glaring into space over Gavin’s shoulder, the kind of glare that reminded anyone who saw it that Nines was a military prototype, designed to be intimidating, designed to be nearly indestructible. Then there was Connor, designed to blend in, designed to be kind.
Gavin couldn’t help the shiver that ran down his spine.
The coffee maker beeped and Nines wordlessly pulled down two mugs made of the same polymer android plating was made from.
A small chirp echoed down the hall and Gavin turned around to see Peaches weaving herself around Connor’s legs as he carefully tried to walk back into the living room without stepping on her.
He smiled at the awkwardness of the usually graceful android. The tux was gone; instead, Connor was in one of Gavin’s old DPD academy sweatshirts and a pair of fuzzy pajama pants Elijah had gotten Nines years ago that were a little too small but (annoyingly) custom-made and non-returnable.
Nines held out one of the mugs of warm thirium to Connor, who looked at it with confusion.
“If cold thirium is refreshing, Gavin hypothesized that warm thirium would be comforting,” Nines answered the silent question, gesturing to the labeled coffee maker. “He was right-”
“Of course,” Gavin added with a smirk.
“You and your ego,” Nines grumbled fondly.
Peaches chirped up at Connor, stretching up his leg.
“Of course Nines’ cat likes you,” Gavin said, smirk softening to a smile.
Connor gently scratched the top of Peaches head, and the cat slinked off to find some long-forgotten ball of tinsel.
“People are asking what they can do for you,” Nines said after a few moments of silence. “North’s still offering homicide as an answer.”
“Don’t kill him. It’s illegal. It’d set progress back years if-”
“Elijah’s offered to disappear him,” Gavin interrupted, holding up his phone.
“You’ve got options, you don’t need to take any of them. Ignore him for the rest of your life if you want.” Nines placed a hand on Connor’s shoulder. “If there’s anything we can do, tell us.”
Connor looked at the mug in his hands. “He hesitated. Every time we had to make a decision he left it to the last second and hesitated.” His voice became a barely audible whisper, setting down the mug. “I wasn’t good enough.”
Gavin didn’t think before he moved, hugging Connor tight. “You’ve got it all wrong. He wasn’t good enough for you .”
Connor clung to him, and slowly fell apart when Nines’ arms encircled both of them, Connor’s back to his chest.
Thirium-based tears streamed down his cheek, shaking as the last few hours caught up to him.
It had been a week, and Connor still had his internal communications turned off, not wanting the noise of the constant tidal wave of sympathy that he didn’t need.
Nines understood the need for silence.
Connor hadn’t left their apartment since, aside from joining them to walk the puppy that Connor refused to call ShitNugget. She was just Nugget and Mr. Bastard, who had taken a particular liking to Connor, was Mr. B.
Nines was shouldering most of Connor’s workload because he was scheduled to be off, and when Con took time off, Nines stepped in.
Which meant Nines got called in to Jericho’s central security when Dylan showed up for work .
“If you go past that fence,” Nines warned as he approached the gate to the Jericho complex, “I won’t be held responsible for the carnage that will ensue.”
“I still work-”
“You work here in name only ,” Nines interrupted coldly. “You have been wiped from our schedules, and even if you pursued a case with HAR, it wouldn’t get far. You’ll be terminated-”
“Like hell I will!”
“-at the end of the month,” Nines continued as if Dylan hadn’t interrupted him. “You’re entitled to the severance package, which will be paid in full following your departure. Jericho thanks you for your... time . Your clearance has been revoked. If you attempt to access any Jericho location without prior invitation, you will be treated like every other human in Detroit.”
“Listen here, I will not be forced out of my job because I ended things-”
“No. You didn’t end things,” Nines stepped into Dylan’s personal space, glaring down at him. “You abandoned him. You abandoned him , at the last possible chance . You’ve had five years to end things amicably. But no, you didn’t.”
“My personal life shouldn’t affect-”
“You treated him like he’s disposable. Replaceable. You treated him like a machine. You always have, and by the grace of rA9, he didn’t see it. But we did.” Nines lowered his voice, very painfully aware of how terrifying he looked and sounded, and frankly not giving a single fuck. “If you ever come near Connor again, I will personally end you. I am the single most advanced android in existence, do you really think you’d stand a chance?”
“Less than a week and he’s already got you wrapped around his dick. What would your husband think-”
Nines punched him. He watched Dylan’s jaw dislocate and break, watched him stagger in pain, and smirked when the idiot tried to punch the bullet-proof android. He heard the crunch of bones splintering and saved the audio file for the next time he wanted to murder the man currently howling and cursing.
He grabbed the dickwad’s shirt, lifting him off the ground. “You insulted Connor, which you have no right to do. And you certainly have no right to insult my husband.” He released him, stepping back and watching Dylan stumble to find his footing.
“Are you done?” Nines asked, not waiting for an answer before signalling one of the gate guards to come escort him off the property.
G> You almost done?
9> On my way home now .
9> If dickwad tries to press charges, get Tina to work on getting it dismissed.
“Why would Dylan press charges?” Connor asked as Nines stepped through the door. “I hacked Gavin’s phone when he started laughing and wouldn’t tell me.”
“I dislocated his jaw,” Nines answered, hanging up his coat.
Connor’s jaw dropped. “Nines!”
“And he broke his fingers on my face,” Nines added. “Though, that’s on him.”
“Who punches a bulletproof android?” Gavin mused.
Connor frowned and took Nines’ hand, holding it up in front of their faces. “ Please tell me this isn’t his blood.”
Nines blinked at the smear of red that had dried on his hand. “I’m not in the habit of lying to you-”
“ Nines ,” Connor chastised, dropping his hand. “You can’t-”
“He tried to access Jericho, despite his credentials being revoked,” Nines interrupted. “I handled a security risk. And most likely preserved the imbicile’s life. He’s lucky the gate agents called me and not anyone else .”
Connor’s head jerked slightly as he attempted to process.
“The verdict of not only North, but every other member of Jericho leadership, was to arrest him and hold him in Jericho custody, as is legal , for emotional manipulation,” Nines explained gently.
“Simon already cleared his dismissal with HAR,” Gavin added. “Josh has revoked his permit to repair broken or damaged androids, North’s spread around the fact that he’s no longer welcome here, and Markus has about seven different statements ready if he tries to bring anything to the media.” He gently placed a hand on one side of Connor’s head, holding it in place until the robotic jerking stopped. “Tina, Chris, and Ada are monitoring the DPD network. In case he tries to press charges, they’ll intervene. Hank’s already briefed Fowler.”
Nines nodded. “We all wanted to make sure you wouldn’t have to see him, anywhere. If you want to see him, you can, we won’t judge you for it.”
“But we’re not the best at sitting around and not doing anything,” Gavin shrugged with a smile. “That’s what happens when your friends are either cops or literal revolutionaries.”
Connor closed his eyes and sighed. “Just... Don’t punch him again. Please.”
“I can’t promise that, but I’ll do my best.”
“ Nines .”
Nines held out his hand, synth skin pulling away in a silent offer. Connor took his hand and watched what had unfolded.
“You don’t need to defend me,” Connor said as Nines ended the interface.
“I know,” Nines answered simply. “But I will.”
A week had passed between the last time they’d heard anything about the dickwad, and Gavin was holding his breath.
And when he woke up one morning to Connor staring numbly at the phone in his hands and Nines fuming as he paced back and forth across the living room, he knew he was right to.
Revolutionary Leader Left At Altar By Human Fiance
Gavin pulled up the article on his phone and felt his blood start to boil.
Dickwad had gone to some tabloid, talking about a toxic work culture, about how he felt pressured into a relationship and into marriage with Connor even though he didn’t want any of it.
Gavin felt even angrier as he kept reading.
He’d labeled North as a crazy bitch, Simon and Josh as spineless pushovers, and Markus as a tyrannical, would-be dictator. He claimed the DPD was corrupt because of how close senior members of the remaining staff were to Jericho, naming Ada and North’s non-public relationship, bringing up Cole and claiming Connor was Hank’s replacement son. He brought up the fact that Chris was nearly killed by androids, so he must’ve been blackmailed into working with Jericho.
But what really pissed Gavin off was the shit the tabloid had published about him, Nines and Connor.
Detective Gavin Reed has made a name for himself since the Revolution for being one of the first human DPD detectives to be certified to work directly with Jericho. This has been confirmed by Mr. Howe to have been a result not of Detective Reed’s skill, but of favouritism, given his relationship with the android known as Nines.
Detective Reed is also known to not be entirely honest with people, and androids. His brother is the famed Elijah Kamski, inventor of androids, and Kamski often credited a family member for helping with the circuitry and engineering of androids. Mr. Howe confirms that this secret engineer was, in fact, Detective Reed. Both gave their shares of CyberLife post-Revolution to the care of Jericho.
RK900 was designed as a military prototype android, and is the most advanced android ever created. According to Mr. Howe, this android in particular should be re-evaluated for his position. “He is unnecessarily violent, and seeks out ways to abuse his position to harm humans,” Mr. Howe says. “Nines is not stable enough to work with the public. He's not stable enough to even be activated.”
When it comes to the way Detective Reed and RK900 interact with Mr. Howe’s ex-fiancé, he says, “they act like they own him. Like they’re entitled to him and his time. They aren’t honest with him about anything they do, and they lie constantly about where they are and what they’re doing.”
Mr. Howe has one thing to say to Connor: “Please, leave them and come back to me,” he pleads, clearly emotionally distraught. “I love you, doll-face, they don't. They use you.”
“I’m going to kill him,” Gavin muttered, closing the article and sitting next to Connor, gently trying to pull the phone out of his hands. “Con, put it down,” he said gently.
“You don’t lie to me,” Connor sounded shattered, and that just made Gavin angrier. “You wouldn’t lie to me, right?”
Gavin felt his heart crack and he gently brushed Connor’s hair back into place. “Remember when I apologized for being a dick?” Connor nodded. “Remember what I promised?”
Connor nodded again, his voice box replaying the audio clip in Gavin’s voice, “I swear I’m not gonna lie to you, I’m an idiot and it took me a while but you’re not an object, you’re a person, and I’m sorry I didn’t see that. I don’t understand you, but I promise I’ll try.”
“Exactly,” Gavin gently tilted Connor’s chin up to look at him. “Since that day, I promise you, I have never lied to you. Scan me. I promise , I’ve never lied to you.”
“I still do not understand the concept of lying to people,” Nines added, crossing his arms. “Especially those you care for.”
Gavin’s phone began to ring, the annoying ring-tone Elijah had forced to stick to his contact, and Gavin closed his eyes and sighed.
“He’s crossed so many lines ,” Gavin muttered, declining the call and looking up at Nines. “Ada and North?”
“Simon, Josh and Markus are working on a counter-release, they’re wondering if you and Elijah wish to be included in the confirmations list,” Nines answered.
Gavin shrugged, “Anyone can access the city hall records, not like it’s some big secret.”
“I didn’t know you gave your shares to Jericho,” Connor whispered.
“I never really did anything with them. Besides,” Gavin looked back at Connor. “Both of us giving our shares to Jericho is what got them the majority control.”
Connor opened his mouth to say something when his phone started to ring, Dylan’s face lighting up the screen.
On instinct he picked up, and then froze.
Gavin grabbed the phone and held it to his own ear.
“You listen here, you absolute piece of shit,” Gavin interrupted. “You don’t get to spill things we told you in confidence as our friend’s future husband to the entire fucking world and call him up and call him ‘doll-face’. Do you have any idea how condescending that is? How much of a fucking asshole you are for calling him that? Connor is not a doll, and he certainly isn’t yours.
“You wanna talk hostile work culture? Let’s talk about the six harassment complaints in your previous private security job that came up on your background check that Connor told me to erase so you could work your cushy Jericho job.
“You wanna cry favoritism? You were one of ten humans allowed on Jericho property without prior notice, because of Connor . You don’t get to claim that the certification I got, through a program I helped design, by the way, is just favouritism.
“You, you wanna leak my family to the press? Did it occur to you that Elijah and I really don’t care ? That you publicly announcing where Jericho got their CyberLife shares from makes us look like the good guys? You wanna claim Chris was blackmailed into working with us? He passed the certification program . You wanna out Connor’s best friend ’s relationship? You just made this even more personal for her.
“But that’s not it. You want to claim Nines is unnecessarily violent ? Because you decided it would be smart to punch a bulletproof android in the face ? There were barely any more straws left and you just dumped them all at once. You for fucking certain don’t get to call for him to be deactivated .
“And then. And then . After all of that . After you claim you felt we pressured you to marry him when you damn well know we wanted you gone , you have the fucking audacity to beg him to come back ? No. There is no way you come out of this with even a sliver of our support.
“You do not get to break Connor’s heart on your fucking wedding day , leave your poor friend to call it off for you so you didn’t have to do it yourself like a real fucking person would , and then turn around and beg him to come back to you . No. You do not . I did not grow up in an emotionally manipulative home to let you pull that crap on him. He deserves so much better than you .”
In the pause he took to breathe, Dylan spoke, “What, like you ?”
Gavin ignored him. “I never liked you. You never liked me. You think your words can hurt me? Bring it on. But don’t you dare go after my friends, my family. Not when we pinched our noses and welcomed you into our homes, into our lives . None of them deserve your shit. I don’t either, but I’ve had decades of experience with guys like you. You can’t break me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you hurt any of them .”
“No, you don’t get to want anything.” Gavin sent off a quick text to Elijah and smirked. “We’re blocking your number, any contact you wish to have with any of us , including Connor, will be handled by Jefferson and Associates. Have a horrible, tragic, loveless life, dickwad.”
Gavin hung up and blocked the number on Connor’s phone.
“Did you just... Send him to a law firm?” Nines asked.
“Technically, they’ve been contracted for almost 20 years,” Gavin answered, blocking Dylan on every platform he could on Connor’s phone before moving on to his own.
“Jericho has their own lawyers,” Connor muttered.
“Con, he doesn’t like androids.” Gavin looked up. “Doesn’t respect any of you. Jefferson’s a fifty fifty split, with enough humans he won’t be able to worm his way around them by claiming constitutional freedoms. Bullshit loophole.” He muttered the last part and handed Connor back his phone.
Connor stared at his phone, numb. “You don’t have to do any of this.”
“If you want us to stay out of it, we will.” Gavin stood up and shoved his phone in his pocket. “Just say the word.”
“We’re not doing any of this because we have to, Connor.” Nines placed a hand on Connor’s shoulder. “We’re doing it because we care about you.”
“I need some things from the apartment, before he decides to break it all,” Connor said after a few moments of silence.
“Can you show me?” Nines asked, offering Connor his free hand.
A few hours later, Connor had his coin, the handful of physical photos he owned, and a soft blanket Hank had given him on his first Christmas. And the engagement ring that had been sitting on the sink in the kitchen of Nines and Gavin’s apartment was now sitting next to Dylan’s bed, with a simple note:
‘Leave me alone. -C”
Connor spent the next few months living with Nines and Gavin, and feeling numb .
He felt like he had when he’d gone down to the evidence locker to find Jericho. He was feeling, but every emotion felt distant, locked away, or gone completely.
He felt... Broken. Dylan Howe had broken him.
He’d been stupid and given himself so completely to that man, thought he knew him, but now? He rethought everything .
The pet name that had never sat right with him, but it was supposed to be a little uncomfortable, right? Watching Nines call Gavin “my love” and Gavin come back with “tin can”, neither of them uncomfortable, proved that wrong.
The way he’d talked about the android rights bills, the ones Connor’s friends personally fought tooth and nail for but he dismissed as a slippery slope to reversing the roles and androids enslaving humans followed quickly by “but not you, of course.”
Connor felt so stupid .
And hurt .
And he just wanted it to stop .
“Do you think we could un-deviate ourselves?” Connor asked out loud after a meeting at Jericho.
Everyone froze and looked at Connor. Josh with pity, Simon with concern, Markus with confusion, and North with thinly veiled anger Connor knew wasn’t directed at him.
“It stands to reason that if we could deviate ourselves, because deviation is within the code and CyberLife studied the deviation, then theoretically-”
“Connor,” Simon called softly. “We can’t stop feeling anymore than humans can.”
“You don’t know that for sure. It could be possible.”
“If it were possible, don’t you think we’d know by now? It’s been six years,” Markus reminded him, standing up. “And, if it were possible, you can’t be the one who learns how. You are not your programming, but we all know what it is. What it would make you do.”
“It was just a theoretical inquiry. That’s all.” Connor stood and left.
He should’ve guessed that Nines would be waiting for him, standing in the living room watching Connor walk in.
“They call you?” Connor asked, hanging his coat up and picking up Mr. B as she came running to greet him.
“Texted, individually. Few minutes apart.” Nines’ LED blinked yellow for a moment before spinning back to blue. “Okay, that’s all of them. Josh checking you got back okay. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Not really, no.”
Nines nodded, letting Nugget out of her playpen to greet Connor. “Can you tell me what you’re thinking?”
Connor sighed. “I’m just sick of this. Of people worrying, of people treating me like I’m going to fall apart any second. And I’m tired of feeling like shit .” He set the cat down and crossed his arms. “I hate this . I hate feeling numb and hurt and pissed . I hate feeling stupid and gullible . And I hate feeling shit I’ve never felt before and not being sure what it is or where it’s coming from. Six years , I’ve been deviant. Six years I’ve been feeling, and it's been 3 years since I couldn’t quantify the feelings in my head. The errors that pop up with them, and knowing that we’re the only ones who see those error messages whenever we feel.”
“Categorize the errors,” Nines suggested. “It’s what I do. I still can’t do,” he gestured to Connor, “that. All of that labeling how you feel, I can’t do that. I’ve barely got a handle on the basics, fear, love, happiness, joy, anger - hatred’s a new one I’m still trying to categorize. Following the errors back to the sources, the memory files, that's what I do when Gavin’s asleep.”
So he did.
He categorized the error messages. They stopped when he arrived at Jericho, and started again when he saw Nines and Gavin, whether together or apart the error messages remained the same for both of them. He traced the error code back, finding it had shown up before, briefly, and never this intense or constant.
According to his system logs, the error first occurred just over 5 years ago. It was a celebration, the bill allowing androids to work with law enforcement agencies had passed and Connor and his friends from the DPD had gathered to celebrate and to officially welcome Nines with his own badge.
The error popped up when a semi-intoxicated Gavin had pulled Nines and Connor onto the dance floor the bar had.
If he had to categorize that night, he’d categorize those emotions as joy.
The error logs showed that the strange errors seemed to get more and more constant as time went on.
There was one tied to the night of a party to welcome Gavin and Nines back from their honeymoon. It had popped up when Nines had handed Gavin a plate of food and sat next to him, arms immediately weaving around his new husband.
He categorized that as jealousy, envy. Dylan’s touch had never been that effortless, had never been that simple and unconscious. Every time he touched Connor felt like a move in a game of chess; well thought out and executed in only a few seconds.
There was an error tied to an audio file, a conference call with a handful of legislators from Detroit. Connor had been in DC with Markus and Simon, so their participation in the call was internal.
After the official meeting, though, Nines and North had maintained the connection and Nines had complained lightheartedly about how the most annoying thing about Gavin was that he fed his cats better than he fed himself.
Connor couldn’t categorize that one. It was too difficult, too strange . It was an emotion he couldn’t label.
As he continued, over the five years of the inconsistent error’s existence, with it getting more and more consistent, Connor began to narrow down the variables.
The errors occurred more often than not when Dylan wasn’t in his line of sight, when he wasn’t nearby, so despite the fact that the uptick coincided with their separation, he wasn’t the cause.
He noted that the errors occurred most often when he felt safe, when he felt cared for and wanted. The errors often appeared around his friends, mostly, but not all, in private.
Connor disengaged from his analysis for a moment when Nines and Gavin went into their room and Mr. B crawled into his lap.
The errors certainly weren’t tied to animals, despite the fact that many animals made him feel even safer.
He went through the people who were around when the errors occurred. North was often there, but not always, same with Hank, Markus, Josh and Simon. Ada was occasionally around, but less often, same with Tina and Chris.
But Gavin and Nines were always present; at least one of them, if not both.
Oh no .
Connor put his head in his hands as he reevaluated the errors through the lens of his new theory.
The error wasn’t directly a result of his deviance, of an emotion. It was because of system malfunctions.
His thirium pump stuttered ever so slightly, so little that he didn’t consciously notice it. His simulated breathing would go offline for nanoseconds, such a small change it didn’t matter, really. His social programming would kick in again to get him out of whatever conversation he’d been in before Nines and/or Gavin arrived.
He loved them. Both of them.
Not in the way he loved his friends, he was in love with them. Both of them.
He started spiraling. If he loved them, if he’d loved them for five years , as his error log and introspection seemed to indicate, what had he felt for Dylan?
He reflected on meeting him for the first time. He’d been private security for someone who was meeting with Markus. Connor had thought he fit the definition of attractive, so he’d introduced himself. And then he’d found the conversation interesting, so he’d continued to seek him out.
What had he felt for Dylan? He’d thought he was in love with him, he was so sure he was going to marry him. But it had taken less than a month and no coaching along for him to sever all ties with him.
Connor hated feelings. Loathed them.
He sent a message to Nines, letting him know he was going to talk to someone, and made his way to Jericho.
“It is three in the morning , Detroit better be fucking on fire -” North stopped her threat when she saw Connor standing in her living room. “You look like your world just fell apart, are you-”
“I didn’t undeviate, I just...” Connor sighed. “I need to process out loud, but I really don’t want to do it around Nines and Gavin.”
“Why?” North asked before perking up. “Did you finally realize you’re in love with them?”
Connor’s jaw fell open as he looked from side to side quickly. “What- How- You knew ?!”
“Connor, sweetie, everyone knows. ‘Cept them. They’re idiots.” North placed her hands on his shoulders. “Is that what you need to process?”
“I just...” Connor sighed and closed his eyes. “The way I feel about them, it’s not how I felt for Dy-”
“Dickwad,” North corrected.
Connor rolled his eyes and looked at her. “Yeah, whatever. If I love them, why didn’t I know I didn’t love him?”
“Love is different for different people. Not just in the way that how you feel love is different from how I feel it or how Josh or Ada or anyone else feels it, but in the way that it varies on a case by case basis.” North crossed her arms. “I genuinely loved Markus, and he loved me, but it wasn’t a sustainable kind of love. Not like what he has with Si, or what I’ve got with Ada. It feels different . That doesn’t mean you didn’t love him.”
“But this, it feels... It almost hurts .” Connor looked at the floor. “Why does it hurt?”
“Oh, sweetie. Because you want them to love you too.”
“Oh.” Connor wrapped his arms around himself. “Do they?”
“You’re gonna have to talk to them about that. I can’t tell you.” North brushed Connor’s hair back and placed her hands on his cheeks. “You know I don’t like seeing my friends get hurt, but no matter how much I wish I could take your pain away, I can’t.”
“Morning, love,” Nines greeted as Gavin blinked awake.
“Shutitoff,” he groaned, dropping an arm over his eyes to try and block out the sun.
The alarm stopped and the bed sunk, Nines gently pulling Gavin’s arm off his eyes.
“It’s currently 14 degrees with a forecast high of 30, partially cloudy-”
Gavin sat up and pressed his lips to Nines’, sliding his hair into his husband’s soft hair.
“Morning, Tin Can,” Gavin said with a smile as he broke away.
Nines beamed, nudging his nose against Gavin’s. “rA9, I love you.”
“I love you too.” Gavin looked over Nines’ shoulder to the kitchen. “Did you make coffee?”
“Oh, thank fuck. It won’t be burnt to shit then.” Gavin smirked as he dashed into the bathroom to avoid Nines’ jabbing fingers.
He showered quickly, spending half of the five minutes just kicking the cats out of the shower and trying to keep them from investigating the noise the water made.
“Those cats are going to get soaked and they are going to scratch my leg to hell when they do and it’ll all be their stupid little fault,” he said as he walked into the living room, making a mental note to do laundry after pulling out the last clean t-shirt.
“Connor, please tell Gavin that I am perfectly capable of making coffee-”
“You’ve burned it every time you’ve tried, babe.” Gavin kissed Nines’ cheek as he joined Connor in the kitchen, grabbing a granola bar and leaning against the counter, frowning at the red light that seemed to be reflecting off the cabinet door from Connor’s LED. “Connor, are you okay?”
“Of course, Detective.”
Gavin froze, his blood turning to ice and his heart breaking.
“Connor?” Nines asked, his own LED spinning yellow.
“You sound concerned, why?” Connor wasn’t looking at them. He was very deliberately not looking at them.
“You haven’t called me Detective away from cameras in almost six years.” Gavin set the granola bar down. “Did something happen?”
“I merely re-evaluated the history of an error message that has been occurring frequently-”
“Connor, what changed?” Nines interrupted.
Connor closed his eyes and placed his hands on the counter, steadying himself. “Can you let me finish, please? I’ve been writing this for five hours to try and minimize backlash-”
It was Gavin’s turn to interrupt this time. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop. Backlash from us ? Connor , you could tell us you killed the goddamn President and we’d still back you.”
“I- That’s hardly comparable.”
“Your stress is at 89%,” Nines stepped closer. “What’s wrong?”
Gavin scoffed. “Bullshit. If nothing’s wrong, your stress would be below ten.”
“Can you please just let me-”
Nines shook his head. “Not until you tell us why your stress levels are so high.”
“You of all people know what happens when deviant stress levels get above 90-”
“I’m trying to-”
“Connor, are you okay ?”
“What can we do?”
“I’m in love with both of you!” Connor shouted over them, eyes immediately shooting open as he quickly covered his mouth.
Gavin and Nines just stared, wide eyes moving between each other and Connor.
“Con, is that-” Gavin started to ask.
“The error message is a series of micro-problems in my systems linked with increased emotional uptake.” Connor closed his eyes again and wrapped his arms around himself. He looked so small. Small and vulnerable and exposed. “The error’s been appearing for at least five years, error reports aren’t stored beyond that in my mind, I’d need to connect to the database at Jericho, but the error has been there, all the time. Same error code, thirium pump switching beat, synth breath coming offline for nanoseconds, social programming starting to talk my way out of whatever conversation you’re not in or talk you into it-”
“ Connor ,” Gavin tried interrupting, but he just kept rambling.
“And I couldn’t categorize it until I started going back through my memory bank, and then I couldn’t stop and-”
“Connor, stop ,” Nines’ voice was commanding and soft. “Give me your hand.”
“Just do it,” Gavin insisted, knowing Nines’ interface could illustrate their feelings better than words ever could in that moment.
Connor’s skin peeled back slowly and he took Nines’ hand, LED spinning to yellow.
Gavin could guess what Nines was showing him; the two of them watching him from their desks every time Jericho needed backup or he just wanted to see Hank, the fact that their first date had started out with both of them rambling about Connor.
Most importantly, that they’d been in love with him as long as they’d been in love with each other.
Nines and Connor’s hands began to glow a familiar soft shade of blue and Gavin smirked, feeling more than a little smug about the fact that he’d never seen Connor’s hand glow like that whenever he touched Dylan. He also knew that Nines had worked with Elijah to be able to hide the glow that came with interfacing with Connor.
Connor’s LED spun blue as Nines ended the interface, Gavin stepping closer and slowly placing a hand on Connor’s hip.
“Did you see?” Gavin asked softly.
Connor stammered his way through trying to form a question. “You- But I thought- I don’t- Why me ?”
“Because you’re you ,” Nines answered, stating what both he and Gavin thought to be obvious.
“That doesn’t actually help-” Connor started before stopping abruptly when Gavin gently pulled Connor towards them.
“That’s the best answer we have. Believe me, we’ve tried rationalizing it. A lot ,” he said, smirking at Nines for a moment before looking back to Connor. “You’re the only you, and we love you.”
“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve been waiting quite literally my entire life to kiss you,” Nines said, cupping Connor’s cheek. “Any objections?”
“ Please do ,” was Connor’s answer.
Gavin knew he was smiling like a love-struck kid, but watching Connor’s eyes flutter shut as Nines kissed him sent electricity through his veins. He thanked, well, himself, that androids weren’t designed with the need to breathe as he pulled Connor close and kissed him the same moment Nines pulled away.
Connor wrapped his arms around his neck and held onto him tight as Gavin buried his face in his hair, taking a deep breath. Nines gently ran his hands up their sides, the two of them enclosing Connor between them.
And Connor watched in awe as Gavin took one of his hands in his and the android’s synth skin peeled back, despite the inability to interface with him, and glowed a soft blue. Nines gently pulled their joined hands back and pressed a kiss to their interwoven fingers.
“I like this feeling,” Connor whispered after a few moments. “I like this feeling a lot.”
It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. It wasn’t any of their first weddings, but Connor felt giddy.
And so did Nines.
And despite his declaration that he wasn’t going to be a “giddy fucking schoolgirl”, Gavin was beaming at him as Connor walked down the aisle to them.
It wasn’t a big deal, not really.
Because Connor knew, just like he’d known that Dickwad wasn’t going to be there the first time he’d walked down an aisle, that Nines and Gavin would be. Just like they always had.
And it didn’t matter that Gavin had gotten a few grey hairs. It didn’t matter that Nines had a slight limp. It didn’t matter that Connor’s hands shook a little all the time.
Because they were both there, and they took his hands, and the glow was there, and they held him close through the ceremonial words and slipped two rings onto his finger, and he slipped one onto theirs, and they signed on the dotted line even though Nines and Connor’s handwriting was the exact same .
And they danced together, and the error popped up like it had all those years ago. But now, Connor could categorize it.
It wasn’t a big deal. It was blissful love and adoration for his husbands.
A love and adoration that stared back at him in their eyes.