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Artificial Love

Chapter Text

“Hey Kogane! Make sure you take the garbage out before you leave tonight!” A portly chef yelled into the back room. “Max said you’ve been leavin’ it for the morning crew.”

“You got it Sal…” The young dishwasher responded.

Keith Kogane was working yet another long, unforgiving evening dish shift at Sal’s Diner; a family restaurant that was situated just before you entered the bad part of town. Despite it’s less than stellar location, it was a fairly busy diner. To Keith that mean that the cooks were almost always yelling for something, and the servers would bring piles upon piles of dishes back into the dish pit to be washed. Keith was a decent dishwasher, and could usually keep up with the pace, but Friday nights were always brutal and Sal never believed in having a part time helping in the pit on busy nights.

This wasn’t Keith’s first choice of job, but it was the job he had been doing for four years now. When he first started working at Sal’s at the age of eighteen, it was only supposed to be his part time job while he went to Altea University. Now he was twenty-two and had been working full time at Sal’s for over three years. He dropped out of university after his first semester due to some less than ideal circumstances with an ex and a major mistake with his scholarship. He couldn’t afford the classes on his own, so he took to working so he could still pay all his bills. Sal was mostly decent to him, paid him alright and made sure he got the hours he needed. Not may people wanted to work evenings in the area, so to Sal, Keith was a godsend since he didn’t mind staying the hour after close that was needed; which was midnight.

As soon as Keith was finished putting the last load of dishes through the machine, he went around the restaurant to make sure all the garbage had been collected and placed at the back door. Of course the line garbage was left, as per usual, and the front staff didn’t think to put the small bags in a bigger one, just tied them all up individually and left them at the back. So, Keith just added them to his mostly full garbage in the dish pit and tied them up. He had never left garbage in the restaurant in all the time he had worked there, and knew that Max was trying to get him in trouble.

Once the bags were all by the door he grabbed the keys and light hanging up by the door and carried the heavy bags out to the ally where the dumpster was located. Keith sighed as he realized that the padlock on the dumpster had broken off again. It didn’t matter how many times they kept putting one back on, in two weeks it would be gone again. It did make his job easier, but he also knew he’d have to tell Sal, and then he’d have to listen to his bitching.

He switched on the little flashlight attached to the keys so he would be able to see the prop on the inside of the bin; hoodlums liked to smash the ally lights once they noticed they got fixed, so the city stopped fixing them. As he leant forward to grab the prop, he also dropped the key and light straight into the dumpster. Keith groaned as he knew the only way to get it was to jump into the dumpster and get them. Not exactly how he wanted to end his day, but he knew he would never hear the end of it from Sal if he just left the keys in there; plus he wouldn’t be able to get back inside the building since the door keys were attached.

He fumbled for the prop in the dark to hold up the lid so he could climb in and out. Eventually he just gave up and threw the lid all the way open. It would be a pain in the ass to push closed again, but for now he didn’t give a damn. Keith just wanted to hop in, get the stupid key, hop out, throw out the garbage and then go finish up his cleaning so he could go home.

Lifting himself into the bin was child’s play, but the landing was less then comfortable. He could feel bangs squish under his feet with rotting food remnants, and the smell was far worse inside the bin than from outside. Still, Keith crouched down and started rooting around for the key. It couldn’t have just landed on top of one of the bags of course, no thanks to Keith’s terrible luck, it fell down the side near the bottom.

Keith dug down through the garbage praying that nothing sharp was sticking out from one of the bags so he didn’t slice open his arm. Finally, after what felt like twenty minutes, Keith got a grip on the offending light. He moved to get up, stepping backwards as he did, which caused him to slip and fall on his ass. He figured going into the dumpster at all was going to be the worst thing that happened to him that day; but he had clearly been mistaken.

He lay there for a few moments, since it couldn’t get any worse from there, staring up into the darkness above him of the other half of the lid. He slowly got up, putting his hands behind him to gain purchase. His left hand touched something that didn’t feel even close to a garbage bag, or even food from a split bag. He slowly turned, shining the small flashlight onto the area.

Human hair. His hand was on what looked like human hair. Brown in colour and shortly cut. A sense of unease washed over Keith as a million scenarios ran through his head. He was really hoping it was just a wig that had been thrown out from the salon next door. He pushed aside some trash bags slowly, in hopes to find anything than what he was really expecting.

Keith scrambled back in shock when he uncovered exactly what he had been dreading. The hair was attached to a body; a human man who was laying broken looking inside the dumpster. This screamed murder, possibly from one of the gangs in town. Or even a mugging gone wrong perhaps. All he knew was there was a dead body laying in the dumpster behind his work and he needed to get out of there and call the police.

Something stopped him though, a metallic glint on the body that his light caught. He sucked in a deep breath and moved in closer to examine what his light was shining on in the midst of plastic bags. If anything, it could be evidence or some kind of hint of what happened to this young man. He brushed aside a few more bags, trying not to touch the corpse, until he revealed about half his body.

Wires, ripped and twisted, were sticking out from behind the body. He crawled around the other side as much as he could and took a closer look. Sure enough, there were wired sticking out from the back of this corpse. Which Keith supposed, wasn’t exactly a body at all. He tentatively put a hand out and touched the wires protruding out. It was clear that what he had found was not a body, but an android of sorts; A highly-advanced android at that. While he knew that androids existed, he had personally never heard of anything looking this life-like before.

He had to wonder who on Earth would throw out something so technologically advanced, even if it was broken. Surely the person who created it could fix it. The fact that this android was buried in the trash- and half inside a garbage bag that was tied around the waste-didn’t sit right with him. He didn’t want to let it go to the dump and get crushed like some piece of junk.

Keith grabbed the droid and pulled it up. It was a lot lighter than Keith had been expecting, but certainly had some weight behind it. Hefting the android out of the dumpster and gently on the ground was another feat. Keith was eternally thankful that the cameras in the back ally were all just dummy cameras, or else this would be incredibly hard to explain. He hopped out beside the android and moved it behind the dumpster. There wasn’t much space back there, but he hardly thought that a broken android would complain much. He placed a few of the less gross bags over top just in case and pushed the lid closed on the dumpster.

Of course Sal was just coming to look for him just as he stepped back inside the restaurant. “What, you take a break while you were out there or somethin’?”

“No, sir. Dropped the key inside the dumpster and it took some time to fish it out. Sorry.”

Sal huffed. “Well don’t do that shit again. Keys don’t grow on trees.”

“Got it, Sal. I’ll finish up and be out of your hair. Lock is gone again too.” Keith waited patiently for Sal’s rant.

He didn’t have to wait long. Sal tended to go on long rants about how no one had any respect for businesses around here, and how was he supposed to run a business when he kept having to change locks and get new keys constantly. Keith cleaned the dish area as Sal ranted; who didn’t care in the slightest that Keith wasn’t giving him his undivided attention. Keith figured it had something to do with Sal preferring that he was earning his wages than just standing around.

Once he was finished how ever, he stood and listened to the end of Sal’s rant. “-I don’t even think the city knows how much work it is to get graffiti off the glass and brick. Ya start a small business and ya pay your taxes, and what thanks do you get?! Lax police presence and ‘I’m sorry’. Like sorry ever did anything!”

Sal continued his muttering into his office to finish up what he needed to do for the day. Keith was free to change in the change room and finally grab his phone. Sal had a strict rule about having your phone on your person at any time unless you were on break. If he caught you, and he watched the cameras, there would be write ups or dismissals. Keith called the only person he knew that had a car, and that would be his half-brother Shiro.

The phone rang four times before Shiro answered. “…Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“It’s twelve o’five in the morning.” Keith responded, deadpan.

Shiro groaned. “You do know I have to be up in like four hours right? This better be important.”

“It is, kind of. I need you to come get me from work.”

“Keith…it’s late. Are you in danger or something? Because if you’re not…” Shiro’s voice sounded muffled, like he was buried under his pillow; which knowing his brother he probably was.

“Look, you wouldn’t even believe me if I told you. Just, please. It’s important. I will make it up to you any way you want me to after.” Keith pleaded.

There was silence, then some shuffling, and then another groan. “Fine, fine. But you owe me big time.”

“Thank you, Shiro. And one last request…when you get here, back into the ally and pop your trunk open for me.”

“What? Keith…why do you even-”

“You’ll see when you get here. Just, try and be quick if you can please.” Keith asked.

 

Twenty minutes later, and Shiro’s black SUV was backing into the ally where Keith was waiting. He waived slowly as Shiro came towards him. His brother looked exhausted and annoyed, dressed in baggy sweats and a hoodie. “Keith, seriously, this had better be good.”

“It is! I swear,” Keith promised. “Now help me out, it’s heavy.”

Shiro grumbled as he followed Keith behind the dumpster. Shiro drew in a breath sharply once he saw what Keith was hiding under the garbage bags. “Keith…I know I said I’d always help you out no matter what…but…this may be a little much…”

Keith snorted. “It’s not a body, Shiro. It’s an android.”

“An…android?”

“Yeah, I found him in the dumpster,” Keith shrugged. “Now I’m just going to throw these bags away and then we can haul this guy into the SUV.”

Shiro sighed but helped Keith out by holding open the lid for the dumpster with his good hand; he never liked using his artificial arm for much outside of work. Together they went behind the dumpster and picked up the droid. Keith could lift him by himself if he really tried, but the droid was taller than Keith was and that made it awkward. Plus, Shiro co-owned and operated a gym, so he was pretty well built. He mostly taught jiu-jitsu classes while he was at work, along with some of the paperwork. He did have a partner named Thace, who took care of most of paperwork and finances so Shiro was free to teach classes.

Once the bags were in, they carried the droid into the back of Shiro’s SUV. Shiro wrinkled his nose. “You are paying to have my carpets cleaned. This droid reeks of garbage…and so do you.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll take care of it,” Keith said as they closed the hatch. “Thank you, Takashi. You’re the best brother a guy could ask for.”

Shiro was weak to his first name, as well as being praised by his younger brother. The combo of the two was his kryptonite. Keith did this for two reasons. One, because he meant it; and because it would spare him a lecture on the ride to his apartment.

After they were both buckled in, Shiro drove towards Keith’s apartment. “So…how did you find him in the garbage? Surely he wasn’t just laying there out in the open.”

“Long story short, I dropped the keys into the bin and when I crawled in to get them, I found him as well.”

Shiro was silent for a while, processing. “Why do you think he got thrown out?”

Keith shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe he was defective. Or the owner got tired of having him around.”

“I can’t imagine anyone getting tired of an android like that. He’s got to be super high-tech. I never saw anything even close when I was in the military. Even the classified droids didn’t look like this.”

“Classified?” Keith laughed. “Are you sure you should be telling a civilian about that?”

“You are my brother, and I know you won’t say anything. Besides, it’s not like they’re always listening.”

“How do you know. Could have planted a bug in this nice car of yours.” Keith teased.

“Oh, trust me, I’ve had it swept. It’s safe.” They both laughed at that as they pulled into the back of Keith’s apartment building. “So, any thought to how you’re going to sneak an android into your forth floor apartment with no fire escape?”

“Save the lecture about my death trap apartment. We’ll just take the back stairs. If anyone is up this early, they aren’t using the stairs.”

Shiro sighed, but hopped out of his vehicle and popped his trunk. Together he and Keith got the droid and lugged it into the apartment. After struggling with the door, Shiro had Keith let the droid go. Shiro dropped down and pulled the droid into a fireman carry. Keith huffed. “I can help you know. That door was just stuck.”

“I know you can. This is just easier. Now let’s go.” Shiro said as he made his way up the stairs. I’m crashing here by the way.”

“Sure thing. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

Keith and Shiro trudged up to the forth floor, trying to keep as quite as they could so no one would be disturbed by them and come looking to see what the racket was. Keith slipped in front of Shiro so he could open both the door to the landing, and unlock his apartment. Shiro slipped inside and Keith silently closed the door behind them.

It there was a feeling of relief as soon as the door was shut and locked. Neither of them would know what to say to anyone if they had been caught. How does one explain why two men are lugging what looks to be a body with wires frayed at the back up the stairs of an apartment building at nearly one in the morning.

Shiro gently dropped the android beside the couch and stretched. “Okay, brotherly duties done for the next few days. I am gonna crash, since I have to be up in like three hours. Night Keith.”

“What, you’re not gonna stay up and help me clean this guy up?”

“Nope. That bag may have thankfully stayed tied around his waist. But I do not want to see if he really is build anatomically correct like the rest of him is.” Shiro waved as he walked into Keith’s room and closed the door.

Keith stuck his tongue out, like the mature adult he was, as soon as Shiro shut the door. Keith turned back to the droid with a sigh. “Well, best get you as clean as I can.”

He got up and wandered into his kitchen to grab cleaning supplied. He figured that he couldn’t just throw a robot into the shower and scrub away, so the disinfectant wipes would have to do. Keith went back to the droid and dropped to his knees, popping open the lid to the wipes.

He carefully wiped down the droid from his hair to his waist, back to front, leaving no section untouched. The bleach in the wipes would at least help with the smell of the dumpster; although he couldn’t be sure if he was just smelling himself or not.

It came time to take the bag off the android’s waist. And Keith prayed that the droid looked like a doll under the bag. As he untied the bag and slid it down, he saw that he wasn’t so lucky; which he should have been expecting given the day. Whoever had designed this droid left nothing out. Keith flushed as he began to tentatively wipe down the rest of the droid. He almost felt bad as he cleaned the droid’s very realistic penis, and in between the crack of it’s ass. He had no idea why on Earth anyone would give an android a hole of any kind aside from a mouth, let alone a penis.

Keith was quick with his work in the groin area and moved down each of the android’s legs. He marveled at how seamless-save for the open panel in the back- that the droid was. Someone had to have taken a lot of care and put a lot of attention to detail into the design. “You must have been modeled after someone....”

As soon as the cleaning was finished, Keith ran into the issue of clothing the droid. He could just leave him exposed, just to spite Shiro in the morning when he woke up, but thought against it. The android wouldn’t fit into his own clothes, he was too broad in the shoulders and taller in the legs. Keith pondered the situation for a while until he remembered that his ex had left some clothes at his place, and they might fit, if not be a little loose in the top.

Keith went into the hall closet and dug through the box of his ex’s things that he had been too lazy to throw out. He was sort of thankful he hadn’t now. There was a pair of black jeans and a grey band t-shirt. There was also a pair of black boxers tucked way at the bottom, which Keith still wasn’t sure if they were his or his ex’s. Taking the items, he walked back to the droid and began to dress the android carefully; as he didn’t want to damage it any further.

After he was done with the android, he headed into his bathroom for a quick shower to wash all the grime off himself. The shower felt fantastic and washed away the terrible feeling of still being in the garbage bin. As soon as he was finished with his shower and dry, he slipped into his room silently and snagged a pair of boxers from his drawer. He liked to sleep in a little more normally, but he didn’t want to risk waking Shiro.

Once he was at least mostly dressed, he turned off his lights and settled onto the couch. There were so many questions about the android running through his head, but he knew that none of them would be answered in that moment. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.