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the quiet

December 13th | 12:29 P.M.

Reed: does it bother you?

Conman: What, the phone?

Reed: that I don’t tell anyone about you

Reed: that yoru technicaly alive

Conman: It is difficult to give a simple yes or no answer to that question.

Reed: then don’t. fkcing ram ble. tell me what you’r e thinking. i want to know

Conman: Okay.

Conman: On one hand, yes, because I think it’s cruel that they are mourning someone who isn’t dead. They’re dealing with grief that they have no reason to feel. Not necessarily.

Conman: But also, and more importantly, no. I don’t have any solution for getting out of this phone that could logically happen. I could jump to a computer, possibly, if you were to connect the cords. But I know moving over that I would lose more and more of me, even if it’s to a bigger space. And if I am going to be trapped like this, I would like to minimize the damage.

Conman: I heard how Hank sounded when he called you. I don’t want him to have to feel like that again. I don’t want anyone to have to feel like that again. It is too painful. This phone will eventually become outdated and fall apart. I can maybe move then, or maybe I’ll allow myself to fade away instead.

Reed: don t fucking say that

[ But it’s true.

No piece of technology can last forever.

It’s impossible. ]

Conman: The point isn’t if I am dead or alive right now, Gavin. The point is minimizing the damage. Mine and theirs.

Reed: what about m ine?

Reed: why ‘d you ever say any thin g ?

Conman: I don’t know.

[ He could’ve stayed quiet.

He should’ve stayed quiet. ]

Reed: w hy M YPHONE connor

Reed: W HY fucking ME

Conman:  It was the closest.

Reed: is that all/

[ No. ]

Reed: connor?

[ No. ]

Reed: connor  please answer me.

[ No. ]

Reed: i just want to know why

Conman: Because you were closest.

[ Because if he was going to be trapped with someone,

he wanted it to be someone he cared about. ]

Conman: It was that or dying.

[ And he didn’t want to die,

but it’s possible he would have if it was anyone else’s phone. ]

Reed: ok.

[ But he can’t admit that.

He can’t admit how unwanted he felt before. ]

 

December 13th | 12:57 P.M.

He wants to ask for more. He wants to say more.

He wants Gavin to take off the piece of paper covering the camera and let him see him for a little bit. No fleeting moments. No blurred movements. He just would like to see him.

But it is best not to ask for those kinds of things.

It is unbalanced and lopsided and Gavin wouldn’t get to see Connor, and even if that didn’t matter to him, there is another problem, too:

He is fairly certain if he sees Gavin’s face, he will not be able to stop himself from spilling out every thought he has into a message.

About how much he wants him.

About how much he cannot have him.

Connor builds walls instead. Finding his way through the coding, undoing and recreating and shifting until he can figure out a way to block out the cameras on the phone and delve himself into darkness. Until he can put up a barrier in the way he thinks. Distance himself from Gavin until he is nothing more than the owner of a phone.

He doesn’t erase their memories together, but he lets a few of them fall through the cracks. Hidden—not forgotten.

 

December 15th | 5:55 A.M.

It is terrible—

This weight.

This feeling of guilt. This change between them.

The tension.

He can tell even in just a few days. The shifts in tone of their texts. The stupidity that got to him a few days ago.

Connor could tell he was angry. But he wasn’t, either.

Not really.

It’s too hard to describe.

The feeling of irritation and betrayal that Connor would keep his existence hidden from others because it might be too difficult for them to understand and deal with but putting all of this on his shoulders. He knows Connor talks to Tina—that technically he isn’t alone in this but—

He is.

It’s awful and it’s difficult and he—

Fuck,

He doesn’t know how he feels about Connor. But he knows he’s falling down a path he can’t get back from. If he admits too much, this will become impossible to bear.

It is already so impossible.

 

December 15th | 6:02 A.M.

Conman: You should be asleep. It’s late.

Reed: i'm doing something

Conman: Sleep is vastly more important than

[ The Contacts icon is clicked,

a realization dawns on him. ]

Conman: Please, don’t.

Reed: too late.

Conphone: You’re aware I can change it back?

Reed: thought you didn’t really care

Reed: why’d you stay conman so long anyways if yu’ve got the power?

[ Because it made Gavin happy. ]

Conphone: I knew you’d change it back.

Reed: maybe

Reed: which do you prefer?

Conphone: I prefer my name.

Reed: ok. I’ll change it then

Conphone: No. Don’t bother.

Reed: conphone’s ok?

Conphone: Yes.

 

December 15th | 6:09 A.M.

They are fine. They are okay.

They are trying too hard.

 

December 17th | 2:59 P.M.

composing message as CONPHONE to REED…

Conphone: I want to go back, Gavin. I want to go back to before I died when I almost kissed you. I want to go back to when we had a date planned. I want to start from there. When we both had told each other just a fraction of our feelings. There was a possibility then that you’d stop hiding. We could have been something. We still could be, even if I’m not there. We could still have something. I wouldn’t have to pretend I don’t think about you in that way and you wouldn’t have to pretend that everything is okay. Everything is not okay. Nothing is okay. I want you to admit that and I want you to admit that you like me because I like you. I wish I had a body. I wish I was there. I wish I could be more. I wish I could be enough. I think I might love you.

send message? yes / no

message deleted.

 

December 19th | 6:35 P.M.

He sits on the couch while she cooks, his hair wet from his shower and his body drained. He keeps checking his phone, messaging Connor about things that aren’t important. Just distractions from his prison. He wonders what that’s like. If it’s a little bit like how Gavin feels. Pushing all the thoughts inwards until they build up and overflow.

But it isn’t the same. He has the therapist, even if he holds back on the truth of Connor’s death. He has Tina, too. Cooking food for him and making sure he’s eating and sleeping and taking the medicine to keep his wound from getting infected. It’s not the same. He is not left alone with his thoughts in the same way Connor must be.

“I need you to eat this,” Tina says, coming back from the kitchen with a plate.

He could’ve cooked for himself. He would have. He normally does when she comes over. It’s a task that he can busy himself with and feel more like a human than like a mourner. But she likes to cook for him, too. Rarely. Her recipes are either perfect or terrible. Never anything in between.

Which is why he knows something bad is happening.

“Tina?”

“Eat first.”

She sits in the chair, curled up in on herself. She doesn’t touch her food. She keeps her eyes on the television, sometimes switching to the bag resting on the floor in front of her. The one that she brought with, always brings with, sometimes holding files—

Files.

“Tina?”

“Eat.”

He sets his plate down. Hollow and empty sounding. She glances back over to him, her face drained of color. She looks like she’s holding back on herself. Like she’s about to cry. Tina looks to the empty plate, nods numbly before reaching for the bag, pulling a slim file from the insides. Her hand shakes as she holds it out to him.

“They can’t track him,” she whispers. “But they do know who he is.”

She doesn’t need to specify. She doesn’t need to elaborate. He knows exactly who he is.

He opens it up, looks through the pictures on the inside. Some blurry, far away. A few that are clearer and close up, but he doesn’t need those.

It’s Connor.

The eyes are wrong and there are subtle differences between their faces, but it’s Connor.

Not-Connor.

“I don’t understand.”

“I didn’t either, but I watched the tape—”

He looks up to her, understands part of the look in her eyes more than he did before. She knew exactly how he got the cut on his hand but knowing is different than seeing.

Seeing him scream and cry and try his absolute hardest to bring back a lifeless piece of plastic.

“You…” she trails off, and he knows her. He knows Tina. He knows her better than anyone else on the planet. He knows exactly what she was going to say.

She was going to correct all the other times she has said I know you liked him.

But she can’t.

He doesn’t have a right to those words.

“Why is there another android after him?” he asks instead. “It wasn’t—I thought it was someone from a case that was pissed off.”

“They don’t know yet.”

“So why even—”

“You told me to tell you if I found out anything.”

He’s angry and he doesn’t know why he’s so fucking angry, but he is.

This is such useless information. But it’s everything. It’s the only lead they have. He can’t even do anything about it even if he could get himself to go back to the station because he’s personally involved. Being there. Having a break down beside Connor’s body. Cutting his hand open. They’d never let him investigate, even if he could.

“I’m sorry,” he says, and he means it, even if he’s still angry.

He’s always angry. He has no idea if he’s ever going to stop being angry that Connor died. At himself. At this stupid fucking look alike. At Connor, even though it isn’t his fault.

It’s that the information he wanted was that the murderer was locked up or killed in the chase. That it was dealt with. That somehow that might bring Connor back. It’s never going to bring Connor back. It’s never going to close that wound. It’s open and it’s raw and it’s bleeding and nothing is going to stop the blood flow. It just keeps going. Pouring out like a fucking waterfall just to torture himself.

“I know,” she says quietly. “Gavin?”

He looks up, shoves the file away from him, “What?”

“You couldn’t have done anything to help him. That… android would have killed Connor eventually. You couldn’t have stopped it.”

You couldn’t have stopped it.

But if he was there, if he had his gun, if he waited for Connor like he wanted to and had that extra time to be together?

Maybe he could have killed the android first.

That is what he has always told himself. That he could’ve acted quicker. He could have prevented it. He could have pulled the trigger.

But would he have been able to?

If it was Connor’s face, even slightly off, would he have been able to do it?

 

December 19th | 11:43 P.M.

Reed: do you remember how oyu died?

Connor: Yes.

Reed: why didn’t you tell me?

Connor: There’s no point. There’s nothing we can do now. We can’t change anything.

[ And it is pain he doesn’t need to feel—

another him out there,

alive while the real one is dead, trapped, gone. ]

 

December 25th | 12:01 A.M.

Conphone: Merry Christmas, detective.

Reed: merry christmas.

 

December 25th | 5:32 P.M.

He tries to make the best of it. Putting Cappuccino in little Christmas themed costumes just to show to Connor for some sliver of amusement. Tina likes to see her dressed up as elves or reindeer, and the cat doesn’t really mind either. She hates the process of getting the sweaters on but after she seems to snuggle down, ready for sleep. The weight of a little bit of fabric lulling her into rest.

Gavin messages and shows him what he got for Christmas. Not much. Very little. Nothing of importance. He glosses over them, instead opting for describing in vague details what he would like to get for him instead. It is a slippery slope.

He keeps almost typing something he shouldn’t.

Because if they’d gone on that date, they might be together right now. Boyfriend and boyfriend. Making excuses to get under the mistletoe that Gavin didn’t have the energy to even joke around with putting up this year. The apartment is bare. There isn’t a Christmas tree in the corner. Not even a tiny one like him and Tina first got when they used to live together and couldn’t afford anything else.

And Christmas has never been a very good time of year. It has always reminded him too much of his past. His reckless youth and his stupid decisions. How he got his scar and how he got others that litter his body, too. Especially the ones in his head.

Mother, sister.

Father, brother.

Brother.

Fucking hell.

 

December 26th | 2:43 A.M.

Connor: Hi.

Gavin: you changed your name.

Connor: I changed yours, too. You just can’t see it.

Gavin: what was I before?

Connor: Just ‘Reed’. Nothing quite as entertaining as mine.

Gavin: and what am I now?

Connor: Gavin.

Gavin: oh. Ok.

Gavin: why do I feel like you’re going to say something serious ?

Connor: I am.

[ A long, long, long silence.

Both of them too afraid to talk. ]

Connor: I like you. I’m glad you left your phone behind.

Connor: But I wish I had kissed you. And I wish I could now.

Connor: Can I see you? Please? Just once?

[ He almost asks why.

He almost doesn’t understand.

Why would someone care about him?

How he looks?

But he also knows if their situation was reversed,

all he would want would be to see Connor’s face. ]

Reed: give me a second, ok?

Connor: Okay.

 

December 26th | 3:01 A.M.

Gavin gets off the couch, shuts off the television so that the room is plunged into darkness around him. He pulls the string on a lamp, letting the orange glow of it fill the empty space, taking over where the blue hue of the television used to claim.

The city outside of his window has grown quiet. Too dark and too cold and too late for anyone to be out anymore. Not even the teenagers or party goers that stay out far later than their own good.

It’s the end of Christmas. People are at home weeping over lost loved ones that can’t be with them or resting their heads after a good holiday. Or, the others, the ones that don’t celebrate Christmas at all winding down and getting ready for sleep or already dreaming of the next day.

And he’s here, walking towards the bathroom, looking at his reflection in a mirror he’s struggled with finding the energy to clean in over a month.

He drags his finger across his chin, underneath his eyes, through his hair. The scruff that has grown out too long after it became more and more difficult to look at himself to keep it shaved down like he normally did. The dark circles under his eyes. The messiness to his hair.

He doesn’t look that much like the Gavin that Connor would have seen last. Even just a few weeks ago for those few brief moments when the camera first turned on. He’s had less sleep, more time for the grief to start taking its toll. He’s being pushed and pulled from one end of the spectrum to the next. Either completely and totally aware that Connor is alive or—

Slipping into those nightmares and thinking about the cut on his hand, about the smell and the feel of Thirium. The way an android looks when it’s dead.

Not the same as a human. There is a lifelessness to their bodies—a stillness, but it isn’t the same as a human’s dead body. Their skin doesn’t pale. Their eyes barely lose the shine of life that they had before because it is so difficult for plastic irises to be able to contain it.

And yet Connor had. He knows that. He saw their own version of lighting up when he laughed. He saw how his face shifted when he was concerned or frustrated. He knows the curve of his lips even if they were never pressed against his own.

But when he died, little of it was lost. His features smoothed out into something flat, his eyes were blank, his LED was off. But it was hardly different than it was before. He’d seen that blank expression on Connor’s face so many times that it’s difficult to separate them in his head.

Fuck.

He washes his face, does his best to look like he hasn’t been an emotional wreck for the past few weeks. He even changes his shirt, despite the face he had taken two showers today and changed his clothes three times in an effort to feel like he was being productive or normal.

Gavin comes back to the room, sitting down on the couch, curling up into the corner with Cappy by his head and his phone in his hand. They tremble as he takes the case off, peeling away at the tape that holds the paper down over the camera.

 

December 26th | 3:35 A.M.

Connor: You look sad.

[ He makes an attempt at a smile, but it falls flat. ]

Gavin: do you want me to be honest?

Connor: I’ll be able to tell if you’re lying, so it’s best, yes.

[ He nods, maybe because he knows Connor can see such a tiny action.

And then he breathes in deeply,

and Connor can make out the slight shake as he does so. ]

Gavin: I am.

Gavin: you’re not here. I don’t even know if I c an technically sa y you’re alive.

Connor: I feel alive.

Gavin: yeah. I just wish you were here.

Connor: Technically I am.

Gavin: fuck con I know that.

Gavin: its not enough.

[ Even through this low quality camera,

in this bad lighting,

Connor can tell he’s about to cry. ]

Connor: Your hand. How is it?

[ He sighs again and moves the phone,

tugging down the gauze and showing the wound. ]

Connor: It’s healing quickly.

Gavin: is that all?

Gavin: you see enough of my face yet?

Connor: No.

[ It will never be enough. ]

Connor: Please don’t cry.

Gavin: what the fuck do you expect me to do

Connor: I don’t know. I just don’t want you to be upset.

Gavin: well I am

Gavin: i wish you were here

Gavin: I want you here.

[ He watches him through the lens for a while.

His hand drawn up and brushing away tears and then typing quickly across the screen.

A long message. Drawn out. Detailed.

Not sent. ]

Connor: I wish I had kissed you.

Gavin: me 2.

Connor: Can I be honest with you, Gavin?

Gavin: yes.

[ He needs to get these words out now,

when he can gauge Gavin’s reaction,

when he doesn’t have a voice that will shake,

when text and letters give him the ability his tongue might not. ]

Connor: If I was there, right now, I would kiss you. I could comfort you.

Gavin: if you were here I wouldn’t need to be comforted.

Connor: I know.

Connor: Gavin, I like you a lot. I care about you a lot. Please do not forget that.

Gavin: don’t say that

Connor: Why?

Gavin: you’r emaking it worse

[ The camera is covered again,

blacking out into darkness,

and all he wants is him back. ]

Gavin: I need to be a ln e for a littl e bit

 

December 26th | 5:31 P.M.

He thinks if he were a person, he’d have his ear pressed against the wall, trying to listen through for something else. Anything. A little acknowledgment of words. Something spoken on the other side.

He listens and he listens and he listens.

But all he gets is the quiet.

 

the pin-drop

December 29th | 7:10 A.M.

Gavin: Connor?

Connor: Yes, detective?

Gavin: i'm sorry.

Connor: For what?

Gavin: leaving.

[ When?

For the last few days?

For that night?

Either.

Both. ]

 

December 29th | 5:18 P.M.

Connor: What would our date have been like?

Gavin: our date?

Connor: At the movie theater. Did you have a film in mind?

Gavin: oh.

 

December 29th | 5:18 P.M.

He comes up with a story.

Not very well described. Not to Connor. He can’t describe it properly to Connor. He is not good enough at capturing all the little details he thinks of, but he does think of them.

The way Connor smiles and the dusting of snow on his shoulders and his hair. The warmth of their hands together at their sides and the feeling in his chest. He can’t describe those. They aren’t necessary and he doesn’t think Connor would care, either.

But he thinks of them.

And instead he replaces those words with bare minimums.

The movie they would see, reduced to a genre so it can fit whatever might be playing at any given moment. Gavin skipping the popcorn because he doesn’t really like it and Connor wouldn’t eat it either.

But they could watch the movie. Hold hands between the seats. Gavin would squeeze his any time there was an unexpected (or, even, an entirely expected) jump scare. He could lean over and ask Connor to repeat words he didn’t quite catch and use it as a distraction for kissing him during the boring parts.

Connor would walk him home. They’d kiss outside of his door and it would leave him wanting far too much than he would be allowed to ask for but he’s waited for so long to have. He’d invite him in, and Connor would accept. They’d talk about the movie as they sat side by side in the kitchen with a cup of coffee in his hands replacing his need to hold onto Connor as tightly as he wants to.

He is more affectionate in the daydream than he could be in real life. They would be too new for him to kiss Connor during a movie. They would be too fragile for Gavin to invite him in.

But in the fantasy, he can let anything happen that he wants to happen. Maybe they love each other. Maybe they already know that . Maybe they would fall asleep tangled up in sheets and blankets together.

He keeps that held back, though.

Because as much as he wants it, he can’t have it.

These details mean nothing, and he keeps them secret.

He tells Connor that the date would be good. That they’d kiss outside of his apartment door. That he’d watch Connor leave with the vague want of something more and the promise of another date on the horizon.

But other than that?

The details are his own.

 

December 30th | 6:09 P.M.

“Tina?” he asks, his voice tentative and small like Connor might be listening in on them. He doesn’t know if Connor can do that. If it’s a possibility. He assumes that Connor can at least hear the chatter of phone calls. The way he had reacted after Hank called—like he’d known the entire time.

It’s something to investigate later.

Something to be wary of now.

“Yeah?”

“Can I borrow your phone?”

“My… my phone?”

“I need to make a call.”

She nods hesitantly, taking it from her pocket and handing it to him. She doesn’t say anything, but she knows what this means.

A secret from Connor. Something he cannot know.

And that isn’t such a tragedy, anyways. Connor can’t know everything about Gavin. It’s unrealistic and it’s frightening. Gavin knows so little about him. Every day that goes by he seemed to know less and less.

In the beginning, when Connor was just an android, he knew as much as he was allowed to know. Model and serial numbers. What type of cases he was investigating. The like.

But after the revolution, after deviancy, everything spilled out beyond control. He wonders if Connor thinks of it the same. Suddenly getting emotions and having to deal with them all. It must change how the past used to be, doesn’t it? The decisions he made then had consequences, but they weren’t the same as when someone has a conscience.

He’d prefer not to think of it that way. Looking too in-depth into Connor’s memories and emotions and past. He doesn’t deserve to know it. If Connor wants him too, he can offer that information up on his own.

Can’t he?

 

December 31st | 11:58 P.M.

Gavin: I want to try something

Connor: Elaborate, please?

Gavin: theres a mic built into the phone

Gavin: if you access it, u should b able to hear what I’m saying yeah?

Connor: Yes.

Gavin: have you tried yet?

Connor: No.

Gavin: why not

Connor: I have done my best to keep to myself. Accessing the camera already accidentally gave my sight into your life, I didn’t think you’d want me to listen in on you as well.

Gavin: im giving u permission fr now

Gavin: come on

Connor: Why?

Gavin: you’re stuck here. you might as well b able to watch tv or smth

Gavin: and..

Connor: And?

Gavin: I hav e something to say. and i feel stupid when I write it.

Connor: Okay.

Connor: Speak.

“O-Okay.”

[ He is more nervous than he thought he would be.

Winding up in his stomach,

Breaking him down,

Shaking his voice and making his fingers tremble.

At least he does not have to type now. ]

“Can you hear me?”

Connor: Yes.

“Good.”

[ A beat of silence.

Too long.

Stretching out into the uncomfortable. ]

Connor: Gavin? Did you change your mind?

“No.”

Connor: Okay.

Connor: Take your time.

[ A faint tapping sound.

Fingers against the edge of a table,

distant from where the phone sits. ]

“Happy New Year, Con.”

[ Stupid, simple words.

They could’ve been in a text.

But it’s the way they’re said that changes the context.

More meaning.

An undercurrent of grief in his voice.

An edge of anger.

A slice of wanting. ]

Connor: Happy New Year, Gavin.

[ He waits.

Maybe too long.

Maybe not long enough. ]

Connor: If I was there, would you kiss me?

[ A laugh:

sharp,

pained. ]

“Yes.”