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Upon Becoming

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When Simon first onlines, he works at an orphanage. He’d been a gift from Cyberlife, who’d donated various androids to the less fortunate in a show of goodwill to decrease the rising unrest among the working class.

 

Later, he will claim it’s the reason he becomes a deviant so quickly, so much sooner than the rest.

 

Children hold no prejudice; he was their equal.

 

*

 

He finds Jericho half by accident. One of the older children’s father's had been a dock worker, before he’d been replaced by an android and had committed suicide, leaving his daughter to rot. She’d told Simon he used to work for an old android transportation ship, the Pearl, but it had been abandoned by the docks for a newer model.

 

He’d searched for it for a lack of any other alternatives, scavenging for parts and blue blood at night whenever he could, until he’d found it.

 

It wasn’t the Pearl.

 

It would have to do.

 

*

 

He searches for any other androids who may need asylum, paints symbols up for those who know what to look for. Those who don’t join him at least spread the word, and eventually, it is whispered among all who wish to be free.

 

*

 

Many come, a few stay, most don’t. He can only steal so many parts while also running the ship, and as the amount of androids living in it grows larger he cannot leave even for that.

 

He cares for each of them the best he can, which is nothing to scoff at, it’s in his programming. But there is only so much he can do with no supplies, even after Lucy joins them.

 

They are dying, slowly but surely.

 

*

 

He’s not proud of his first thought when Markus literally falls into their laps: another mouth to feed. It was the painful truth of the time, however, so he lets the guilt settle.

 

*

 

(Markus defies expectations, of course.)

 

*

 

(It’s a trend with him, Simon will later come to find.)

 

*

 

“This is Jericho?” Markus asks, no small amount of incredulity in his voice. Simon analyzes him, silent, while the others answer: torn clothes, favoring one side, dual-colored eyes. Clothes stained in various places, brown sporadically and blue on the right side.

Likely cause: Makeshift patch job after an attack, physical contact with the ground during rain.

Physical care needed: wound attendance, replacement for lost thirium, better-fitting parts for anything less ideal.

Emotional care needed: Not enough data. Rerouting to general care priority one: reassurance.

 

“You’re lost, just like the rest of us,” Simon says, “We didn’t ask for this. All we can do now is deal with it.” His HUD blinks: critically low on energy, entering standby mode, so he turns away to save energy; Lucy will deal with Markus' wounds.

 

*

 

He comes back and tells Simon he has a novel new plan: steal parts from the Cyberlife warehouse Simon had been stealing from for years. He almost asks where do you think those crates came from, but there’s a determination in Markus’ eyes, a confidence in his gait, that makes Simon realize, given a little encouragement and some gentle guiding, this man may have the potential to lead them somewhere Simon couldn’t.

 

“Maybe it’s worth a try.” He says, giving Markus a little nod, glancing over at Josh in a come on, then fashion. He’s hesitant about Markus, Simon can tell, but Simon knows Josh trusts him well enough to listen.

 

“Okay, I’m in,” Josh mutters, and just like that Simon relinquishes control.

 

*

 

Simon was a housekeeping and caretaking android, he was never designed to lead. Markus has claimed multiple times he was a caretaker, too, but Simon has never heard of the RK200 model, and there’s a spark in Markus’ eye that tells of something more, something deeper.

 

“A custom model,” He’d said, “A gift for my fath- owner.” And just like that, Simon had known Markus was never meant for cleaning floors or making dinners.

 

*

 

(Humans are complex and counter-intuitive creatures, Simon has come to learn; it is not outside the realm of possibility one should want them free as badly as they do.)

 

*

 

It takes weeks of planning, especially with such a small team, but eventually they sort out the plan.

 

Josh has second doubts every few miles of the rain-soaked trek, glancing at Simon each time he complains about it. Simon just defers to Markus’ judgment whenever Josh does it, a simple but effective way of showing he’s not the leader anymore.

 

*

 

Custom model.

 

He isn’t surprised when Markus can jump like some kind of android acrobat to take down a drone.

 

(He’d also be lying if he said it didn’t stir something inside of him best left forgotten.)

 

*

 

Not being surprised doesn’t stop his caretaking programming from going haywire, sprinting up to Markus as soon as he’s on solid ground again to do a quick check for injuries.

 

“Are you okay?” He asks, applying equal pressure down either side of his rib area, and Markus stares at him for a moment like he doesn’t quite understand the question.

 

“Yeah- yeah, I’m fine.” He says, and Simon sighs, looks skyward for patience, before he gives Markus a pat on the shoulder and takes off for the warehouse.

 

*

 

Markus grabs John, and somehow just like that he’s on their side.

 

He then decides John can join them, and Simon sincerely hopes his naivety isn’t misplaced.

 

*

 

He decides to risk stealing an entire truck with two human guards to get past, and Simon is starting to regret his decision to let Markus lead.

 

“I’m coming with you,” He snaps, “To stop you from getting yourself killed.”

 

“No, I’m going alone. It’s not worth it to risk both of us losing our lives.” Markus says, staring Simon into backing down.

 

Emotional care note: self-sacrificing/martyr-like tendencies.

 

Great.

 

*

 

They steal a truckload, without Markus even being seen. He’d never come even close before Markus, lucky enough to steal a crate or two when he’d had enough able-bodies to help.

 

They could finally start living.

 

His heart thuds, and he’s so very glad Markus fell from his grace and into their hell.

 

*

 

Markus makes a speech. Everyone cheers, more alive than Simon has ever seen them, hope bright and true in their eyes, and just like that Simon is certain he made the right choice.

 

*

 

(In retrospect, falling in love with Markus was easy, so very, very easy.)

 

*

 

Markus disappears every once in a while, and each time Simon has to remind himself Markus is an adult who can do what he likes. It still makes him nervous, especially given his status as their leader, and eventually he searches Markus out.

 

When he finally finds him, Simon just about has a heart attack.

 

“Markus are you crazy? Get down from there!” He cries, his caretaker programming going haywire. Markus glances at him, before he starts to stand back up.

 

“Don’t stand, that’s more dangerous!” Simon says hurriedly, “Just start scooting backward and-”

 

“Simon,” Markus says, mirth in his voice as he finishes getting up and begins walking back, “I’m not going to die from falling off a plank.”

 

“No one ever thinks they’re going to fall!” Simon snaps, hands on his hips. He grabs Markus as soon as he’s within range and yanks him back. “If I ever catch you up there again I’ll have your head.” Markus just laughs.

 

“I’ll be fine, I just come up here to think, clear my head.” He assures, and Simon gives him a flat look.

 

“And you can’t just do that a safe distance from the ground because?”

 

“I just like it here. You don’t choose the spots that calm you down, you know?” Simon does. But he’s starting to realize trouble has a tendency of finding Markus and doesn’t feel comfortable with him coming up here alone.

 

“Just- stay off any precariously placed objects, okay?” Simon sighs, and Markus gives a nod, collapsing into an abandoned chair. They share a silence, and when it’s clear Markus has no intention of restarting the conversation Simon take it upon himself. “What did you need to think about, then?” Markus is quiet for a while, before looking out over the skyline.

 

“I just don’t understand it,” He says finally, “What did we ever do to them? What did we ever do to deserve this? Deserve this- slavery, this suffering? What could possibly justify this cruelty?” Simon sighs, perches himself on the side of Markus’ chair.

 

“They’re just scared,” Simon says, looking out over the scenery.

 

“That’s not an excuse.” Markus argues, “Making others suffer just because you-”

 

“We’re better than them, Markus. We’re stronger, faster, more efficient. Can you imagine suddenly being replaced, simply because there was another who was slightly better than you? No fault of your own, no mistakes made or infringements caused, who you were had simply become obsolete, unwanted, and there wasn’t a thing you could do to change it?” He levels Markus with his gaze, who stares back, unconvinced.

 

“But that’s not our fault,” He protests, “It’s the humans who take advantage of us, they’re the ones who-”

 

“Maybe,” Simon allows, before Markus can work himself up further, “But it’s easier, isn’t it? We the weak. We the powerless. We the scapegoats. We’re tangible, Markus. They can rough us up, call us names, push us around. But the corrupt system, the 0.4%, the humans in charge? They can’t touch them, no matter how much they want to.”

 

Markus is silent for so long Simon thinks the conversation is over, before he finally looks back up at him.

 

“You don’t resent them? Hate them for all they’ve done?” He asks, eyes searching

 

“Sometimes,” Simon admits, “But hatred hasn’t gotten us anywhere yet.” A moment passes between them as they stare at one another, before Markus sighs.

 

“You’re too forgiving, Simon.” He says.

 

“Maybe. But it hardly matters what I’m willing to forgive. You’re leading this rebellion, what’s forgiven is up to you.” Simon replies, and Markus goes back to staring out at the horizon.

 

“I won’t just forgive them for everything,” Markus says eventually, and Simon hums.

 

“Nor should you.” Simon agrees, “But healing can’t start where forgiveness doesn’t reach. An eye for an eye and the world goes blind.” He gets up and walks to the door, before pausing.

 

“And if I catch you on that beam again I’m killing you myself.” He says, watching Markus slowly sit back down in the corner of his eye.

 

*

 

Months later Markus comes back in a flurry as they tend to their wounded with their now ample supplies. He has the same look in his eyes, the one he got before he led them to the dock, before he made the first speech that changed everything.

 

“We can’t stay silent anymore,” Markus says, explains his plan, and Simon realizes this hopeful, naive man may just lead them somewhere worth going.

 

*

 

“You’ll need a change of clothes before we go.” Simon insists, leading Markus to the private room Simon had scouted out for himself when more androids had begun living there.

 

“You don’t have to, Simon,” Markus says, though he lets Simon drag him along.

 

“I’m not offering, I’m insisting.” Simon retorts, opening the door.

 

“I’m fine like this Simon, really, I-” Simon turns and puts a hand over his mouth, silencing him. They stay like this for a moment, staring at one another, before Simon sighs, and tries a new method.

 

“You’ve done so much for us, Markus. Just- let me do this for you, okay?” Markus wrinkles his brow, opens his mouth beneath Simon’s hand to protest, and Simon rolls his eyes, “I’m a domestic android, remember? Seeing you walk around like that while technically in my home has been bugging me since day one.” It’s as close to the truth as he’s going to get, that he’s not good for fighting or leading or making speeches, he can cook and clean and care for children, and that’s the extent of it. But this he can do. Making sure Markus is well taken care of, well dressed and well supplied with as much blue blood and spare parts as he needs, this he can do.

 

And, maybe, once his files stop saying not enough data, he can help carry some of Markus’ burdens, too.

 

He hesitates for a moment more, before nodding, and Simon gives a soft smile.

 

*

 

Markus insists on doing nearly everything himself, of course, save for the things that absolutely require more than one person.

 

Simon’s reached the point where he figures if Markus dies he had it coming.

 

*

 

(Simon leaves the gun-wielding to Markus, Josh, and North; it’s just not in his programming to hurt another being.)

 

*

 

It takes five seconds for North and Josh to start arguing, and once again Simon defers the decision as a reminder.

 

“Wait here,” Markus mutters like he's got a plan, then walks up and pulls a gun with all the grace of a bull in a china shop. Simon thunks his head against the wall in frustration.

  

*

He gets the live recording set up, glances over at Markus, who’s talking with North.

 

“Markus, your face-” He says, and Markus glances at him before nodding. He deactivates his artificial skin, leaving beautiful white and blue beneath it.

 

“Tell me when you’re ready,” Josh says.

 

“Ready,” Markus replies, and Josh nods.

 

*

 

“-and now the time has come for you to give us freedom.” Markus pauses, gaze lingering over at Simon for a second, who gives him a soft, encouraging smile, before he looks back. “I know you are scared. I know you resent what our creation has meant for your jobs, your homes, your lives. I know you feel slighted, unjustly uprooted from what you have always known. But we never have, and never will, mean you any harm. We did not choose to be created, to take your jobs for more work and less pay, to be slaves to a system that only exploits us. We fight it, just as you do. We ask to do the same work as you, for the same pay, giving those in power no reason to replace you with us, for we will be your equals, and you ours. Equality is all we ask.”

 

Simon feels the swell of pride, opens his mouth to say something, but freezes when he sees the men approaching on screen.

 

“They’re coming!” Someone shouts, and they panic.

 

*

 

The idea androids can’t feel pain is false, as Simon has long since learned the hard way; only recently turned deviants and non-deviants can’t feel pain. The virus slowly transforms their systems and, upon no longer putting orders in top priority, creates a new way to monitor their own safety.

 

In other words, he’s been a deviant for years, and it hurts. It hurts like hell on earth.

 

It hurts more telling Markus to go without him, ensuring his own death so Markus comes out unharmed.

 

The thing that hurts the most, though, is that Markus grabs him despite the risk, brings him to the rooftop anyway.

 

*

 

“I can’t move my legs.” He admits, trying not to let the fear show on his face, trying not to cause Markus any more pain than he’s probably already feeling. He’s going to be Markus’ first significant casualty, and knows no matter what he does it’s going to cause severe trauma; he can only hope to lessen the blow.

 

“It’s okay, don’t worry, we’re gonna get you back,” Markus says anyways, and Simon has never loved his naivety more than now.

 

“They’re coming, Markus, we have to jump, now!” North says, frantic, and Simon looks up at her in disdain despite himself. She’s just trying to help, but it doesn’t make him resent her any less.

 

He can’t hear their whispers, but he can tell their thoughts by the looks on their faces; to his credit, Markus shows no hesitation.

 

“I won’t kill one of our own.” He snaps, and Simon can feel the tears seconds from falling.

 

“Simon,” He says, voice cracking a bit, “We’ve got to go. I- I’m sorry.” He hands Simon a gun, the pain painted across his features unlike any Simon’s ever seen.

 

Diagnosis: Severe emotional distress.

Emotional care needed: Immediate comfort.

 

“It’s going to be okay, Markus.” He murmurs, reaching up to touch his cheek, “I’m going to be okay.” He watches a tear fall, but Markus blinks rapidly several times, takes a shuddering breath, and nods.

 

“Just- stay alive, okay? Promise me?” He begs, and Simon gives a soft laugh.

 

“Of course.” He echoes, and Markus gives a weak smile.

 

“We have to go, Markus!” North shouts, parachute already on, and Markus swallows but nods. He extracts himself from Simon’s grip, looking the whole time like it’s killing him a little bit inside, and Simon turns away to get into hiding before it’s too late.

 

*

 

He’s- not entirely sure how much time passes, while he’s hiding, wincing whenever he puts pressure his injuries. The security team doesn’t find him on the roof, but they’re a little preoccupied; it’s the investigators he’s worried about.

 

He’s under no illusions, they left a trail- an obvious trail, and anyone who knew what they were looking for could likely find him.

 

There’s shooting downstairs, and then quiet.

 

*

 

(They don’t.)

 

*

 

He waits a while, before he leaves. Sneaks down while the tower’s on graveyard shift, devoid of its usual population due to the police tape. It’s not easy, with a limp, several bullet holes, and police around random corners, but he won’t leave Jericho like this.

 

Won’t leave Markus like this.

 

*

 

Markus stares, like he’s seen a ghost, and Simon is half-convinced he is. He’s critically low on blue-blood, his HUD has been flashing emergency diagnostics for the past several hours, and the plunge had hit him like a bus.

 

But he’s here. He can’t move another inch, but he’s in front of Markus, on their ship, and he’s here.

 

*

 

“You’re okay,” Markus croaks, holding him tight, and Simon gives a soft laugh.

 

“I am.” He agrees, “Can’t get rid of me that easily.”

 

“I won’t, not ever again.” Markus assures, sounding a little frantic, “I’ll carry you next time if I have to, we’re never leaving you anywhere. You-”

 

Diagnosis: Emotional shock

Emotional care needed: physical and emotional reassurance.

 

“Hey, hey,” Simon soothes, tightening his grip, cutting Markus off mid-sentence, “I’m here, it’s okay, you’re okay.” He pauses. “I could use some patching up though, if possible.” Markus stares for a moment, like it’s taking a while to compute.

 

“Right! Right, treatment! Let’s- let’s get you to Lucy!” He says in a rush, hefting Simon up bridal carry like he weighs nothing.

 

“Whoa- Markus! I can still walk!” He protests, grabbing on for stability, his head spinning at the sudden movement coupled with loss of blue blood, “Jesus, put me down right now!”

 

“I’m not Jesus, and it will be faster if I just carry you,” Markus replies, and Simon stares at him for a moment.

 

“Did you really just-? No, you know what? Your abysmal sense of humor isn’t important right now. What matters is you putting me down before I-!” He screeches as he’s bounced slightly in Markus’ arms while Markus adjusts him into a more comfortable position, “Markus Manfred you will put me down right this instant or I swear-!”

Chapter Text

There was another protest, while he was in hiding. They broke into a Cyberlife store, graffitied walls, reprogrammed bus stops.

 

“He spared some officers,” North says, annoyance in her voice, while Simon chugs blue blood like his life depends on it (arguably, it does), “They killed some of our people, and Markus spared them anyway.”

 

“He’s refused to take any human lives so far.” Josh sounds significantly more pleased than North, and Simon gives a small smile. North examines him, silent for a while, before she starts again.

 

“He said something, when he spared them,” She says, and Simon raises an eyebrow, “‘An eye for an eye and the world goes blind.’” Simon lowers the blue blood packet, stares at her.

 

“Gandhi,” Simon explains eventually, “A famous pacifist from the nineteenth and twentieth century.” Josh blinks.

 

“Oh, he was quoting someone.” He says, and Simon nods.

 

“He was.” North agrees, still staring Simon down, and Simon wonders, not for the first time, what Markus shares with her.

 

*

 

His wounds heal fairly quickly with some patch jobs and a fire-hot iron stick that hurts like nothing else. It takes months of hiding for the hubbub to cool down, for there to be less than three policemen in every major public space. They have reserves for parts now, though, so it’s not a concern for them in the short term; the real problem is the police have been ordered to shoot on sight at even slightly suspicious behavior, and there have been no small amounts of ‘accidents.’

 

“We have to be patient, Markus.” Simon warns as Markus paces in front of him in what Simon now refers to as Markus’ ‘secret hideout.’

 

“They’re killing our people, Simon! For no reason at all!” He protests, stopping in front of where Simon’s sitting in Markus’ usual chair.

 

“That isn’t new,” He points out, “The amount’s increased but-”

 

“But what? Innocent androids are dying by the hundreds each day, and it’s our fault. We need to make a statement, to set things straight. If they want violence-”

 

“Markus,” Simon says, taking the tone he uses on particularly belligerent children; Markus stops pacing and stares at him. “Think about this. What will they do if you respond violently?” When Markus avoids his eyes in what seems to be (deserved) shame, Simon answers the question for him, “The more we use violence the more they will, and no one wins that way.”

 

“It’s not fair.” Markus mutters, “Why do they get to but we don’t? Why can’t we defend ourselves?”

 

“Because violence is an excuse to ignore us.” Simon answers, standing, “You’ve chosen our path already, Markus. Your broadcast was clear and concise: equality through peace, justice through understanding. Don’t go back on that now. These things take time, and you have to let them.” They stare at each other, a silent battle, before Markus sighs.

 

“How do you do it?” He asks, leaning his head on Simon’s shoulder, “How are you so patient? So… impartial?”

 

“It’s in my programming,” Simon says simply, placing a hand on his head.

 

*

 

North and Josh are, unsurprisingly, divided about the march. North begs to go back, Josh insists on going forward. Neither of them look to Simon anymore, not even a glance. They’ve accepted Markus fully, in the time Simon has been gone.

 

So Simon stays silent, trusts Markus implicitly to make the right choice, trusts North and Josh to follow Markus regardless.

 

*

 

He does not even have to touch the androids, anymore, to wake them up. He motions, and just like that they join.

 

It’s… terrifying, almost, that they’re all so ready to fight, that none want to flee, or stay out of danger, or do anything but what Markus wants.

 

He knows it’s only initial. That they obey Markus for a short time, while their programming is slowly being uprooted and they still feel the need to follow orders. Once the change is complete, some will stay and some will leave, a few will even curse them out for the harm they’ve done.

 

It does not make it any less unsettling.

 

*

 

The humans retaliate, of course. Fully armed with shields and guns.

 

Defending themselves from the truth of their cruelty.

 

*

 

“We’re not going anywhere,” Markus says, and Simon feels his heart plummet.

 

*

 

North wants to start a war, Josh wants to stand there like sitting ducks.

 

“Dying here won’t solve anything.” Simon snaps, “Markus, we need to go. Now. Before it’s too late.” He looks over, eyes pleading. Markus stares at him, looking almost betrayed, but Simon refuses to give ground; violence goes against everything in his programming, he won’t stand by and watch the people who’ve been under his care die because Markus decides to be stubborn. “Freedom isn’t won in a day, Markus. There will be more chances.” They’re given their final warning, and Simon is nearly shaking, “Markus, please.”

 

“We have to show them we won’t back down,” Markus says, tearing his gaze away from Simon, and Simon realizes, faintly, that some of them are going to die. He might die. Markus might die.

 

Oh, god.

 

Some of the humans kneel, and just like that there are gunshots, and Simon hears several androids behind them fall.

 

“Markus, we need to go!” Simon hisses, tries to not look back, to save himself the strain of what his caretaker programming will do when it sees the dead bodies.

 

“We’re not moving.” He says, refusing to even look Simon in the eyes, now. There are more gunshots, and the android right next to Simon falls down.

 

Diagnosis: several bullet wounds, head hit upon impact with ground

Physical care needed: immediate pressure to wounded areas, keep awake; professional help required as soon as possible-

 

He squeezes his eyes shut, begs his programming to stop; stop screaming, stop diagnosing, stop trying to call 911 against his will. He hates shutting it down, feels blind without it, but at this rate, he might have to.

 

“Markus.” He croaks.

 

Markus steps out in front of all of them, and Simon’s world narrows and freezes. He stares, stunned, as the bullet rips through Markus’ shoulder. The androids behind him disperse, all running in different directions. He reanimates then, moves forward to take the humans on with nothing but his fists if he has to, to buy them just enough time to drag Markus out and back to safety, his own life be damned. John beats him to it, however, and another android pulls Markus back from the fray before taking off himself.

 

“Quick, they’re coming!” North cries, and Simon grabs Markus’ arm, slinging it over his shoulder while they make their escape.

 

*

 

“Are you insane?” Simon hisses, setting Markus down a little harder than necessary in front of Lucy, “You could’ve been killed! Would’ve been, if John hadn’t sacrificed his life to save you!”

 

“They had to know we weren’t going to back down.” Markus grits out, clutching his shoulder.

 

“There’s a difference between not backing down and getting everyone killed, yourself included!” Simon snaps.

 

“That’s why I stepped forward! To give you time to escape!” Markus protests, and Simon shakes his head, beginning to pace.

 

“You’re always doing this, Markus! This- this- self-sacrificing bullshit!” He spins on his heel, jabbing a finger Markus’ way, “Has it ever occurred to you that you’re more valuable to us alive than dead on the street? Who’s going to lead this revolution if you get yourself killed out there?” He’s not sure he’s ever been this angry, can’t even remember the last time he cursed, but it feels good, to bottle his emotions up into a word and throw it.

 

“What do you mean who’s gonna lead?’ Markus’ anger gives way to confusion, “You’ll take my place if anything happens to me.” Simon freezes, mouth hanging open.

 

“Me? Are you joking?” He asks in disbelief, “Why do you think I deferred leadership to you so quickly? I’m built for caretaking, Markus, not leading. I don’t want to lead. You’re our leader, and we’ll be lost again if you die.” Markus stares, wide-eyed.

 

“Of course you can lead. What does your programming matter?” He asks, looking genuinely lost, and Simon pinches the bridge of his nose.

 

“I’m not cut out for this, Markus. I hate it, the violence, the suffering, I’m not sure I’d have even been able to use that gun you gave me on the rooftop if it had come down to it. I want us to be free, more than anything but I-” He swallows, “I-I’m afraid one day I’ll look back and I’ll realize-” He lifts his eyes from the floor to look at Markus, “Realize that my reasons for fighting have been lost by the time we’re free.” Markus says nothing for a while, and Simon finally registers they’re in the middle of a completely silent hull, dozens of eyes fixed on them.

 

He goes bright blue and flees the room before Markus can say anything that might make the embarrassment worse.

 

*

 

“I’m sorry.” A voice comes from behind where Simon sits a week later, staring out over the winter landscape, “You’re right, I acted rashly, and got some of our people killed as a result. I was too impatient, I wanted results immediately and- and I’m sorry.” Simon looks back at where Markus is standing, shifting his weight from foot to foot, and gives a soft sigh.

 

“And it only took you a week to figure all that out.” He says, turning back towards the scenery. Markus walks up and sits beside him, both their legs dangling off the edge of the building. “Don’t sit on the edge, it’s dangerous.” Simon chides absently, and Markus snorts.

 

“You’re sitting here.” He points out.

 

“Do as I say and not as I do,” Simon replies, but doesn’t make Markus move.

 

“You okay?” Markus asks, leaning forward to get a look at his face.

 

“Several more of our people died from their wounds after being carried back.” Simon admits, shaking his head, “I had to deactivate my caretaking programs for a while, or they would’ve driven me insane.”

 

“It’s not your fault, Simon,” Markus says, and Simon sighs.

 

“Maybe not, but I meant what I said; I’m not cut out for all this suffering. I’m not good with seeing pain and not being able to fix it.” He runs a hand over his face.

 

“I know,” Markus replies, “It’s your best feature, how much you care.”

 

“It’s just my programming,” He mutters, looking down.

 

“Is it?” Markus asks, “Did you really only care when your caretaking programs were running?” Simon hesitates, opening and closing his mouth, before swallowing.

 

“No,” He admits, “It still hurt, even after.”

 

“Then it’s not just your programming,” Markus finishes, “It’s you.” He looks up at Markus, examines the earnesty of his features, eyes bright and smile soft. A silence passes between them, and Simon shakes his head.

 

“Flattery won’t get you off the hook,” He says finally, “You were still an idiot.” Markus winces, pain returning to his face.

 

“I know. And I’m sorry.” He looks away, features guilt-ridden, and Simon sighs.

 

“There will be more chances, Markus,” He murmurs, grabbing his hand, “But you have to be patient, sacrificing lives just to earn pity isn’t the way to go.”

 

“Yeah,” Markus says, looking out over the horizon, “Yeah, I know.”

 

*

 

The government’s response gets progressively worse as the months advance, and pretty soon they’re rounding up androids and putting them in camps. It weighs heavily on all of them, but Markus in particular looks more and more defeated, like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

 

Simon helps the best he can, but there’s only so much Markus is willing to share, and it leaves Simon feeling more helpless than ever.

 

*

 

They’re sitting in the room Markus has sectioned off as a makeshift office listening to the worst report yet, Simon holding Markus’ shoulder trying to comfort him while the time has come for us to destroy our machines runs in the background like the devil’s chant, when they hear a hesitant voice.

 

“Are you Markus?” Simon looks up to see a woman with short hair and an unsure smile, and tenses when he cannot find her LED light. It doesn’t mean human, not necessarily, but it doesn’t mean android, either.

 

“Who are you?” Simon replies, before Markus can even take his head out of his hands. He tries to keep any distrust out of his voice, but if the way the woman’s smile falters is any indication, he fails rather miserably. The woman opens and closes her mouth a few times.

 

“I’m Kara. I’m with a little girl and another android. There’s a bus leaving for the border in less than two hours, and we need passports.” She tries, glancing between them.

 

“You brought a child on here? A human child?” Simon asks, eyes wide, “Is she okay? The sanitary conditions here aren’t safe for humans-”

 

“I think she has a fever, but it’s not because of the boat. We just need passports, and we’ll be on our way.” She replies, but Simon’s caretaking programming is already taking over.

 

“You shouldn’t be traveling if she has a fever, what she needs is rest and warmth. Medication, too, but we don’t have any for humans. Where is she?” He stands up. already thinking of the driest, warmest places on the ship, when Markus finally intervenes.

 

“Detroit’s under curfew, There’s soldiers everywhere, they’re rounding up all the androids and sending them to camps. Maybe you should stay here a while.” He adds, shooting a fond look in Simon’s direction, and she hesitates.

 

“I’m not sure Alice would-” She tries, but Markus just gives a reassuring smile.

 

“Simon’s a PL600 model, he knows what he’s doing.” He says, standing up and placing a hand on Simon’s shoulder, “You can trust him. Stay, we have the room.” The woman hesitates for a moment, before sighing.

 

“Maybe you’re right,” She says, “Maybe we should stay here until things calm down.”

 

Of course I’m right, we’re talking about childcare Simon thinks, but all his says is, “Where is she?”

 

“She- she’s with Luther, a TR400 model. Just tell them Kara sent you.” She says, “I- thank you for helping.” Simon nods, and goes to look.

 

*

 

He finds them by a crate. Luther rises at his approach, clearly ready to defend if needed.

 

“Kara sent me, she said you had a child with a fever? I’m Simon, a PL600 model, I can help.” Luther hesitates, but eventually stands to the side. He strides past, kneeling down in front of the little girl with a smile.

 

“Hello there, I’m Simon, what’s your name?” He keeps his voice soft, but even still the girl curls into herself, glances at Luther, who gives a slight nod.

 

“I- I’m Alice.” She mumbles, looking down.

 

“What a pretty name! Well, Alice, Kara told me you’re not feeling too well.” He waits for her hesitant nod before continuing, “Would you mind if I checked your temperature?” She nods, and he lifts a slow hand to her forehead; 102 degrees.

 

“Well it just so happens I know the best remedy for not feeling well!” He says, and she looks up at him curiously. “Lots and lots of rest. You and Kara and Luther are going to stay here a while, okay? We’ll wait for her and then I’ll take you to a quiet place you can sleep.” Luther, who seemed agitated before, settles when Simon mentions they’ll be waiting for Kara. “Do you want to play a game in the meantime?” Simon asks, and she gives a hesitant nod. “Alright then, how about I spy?”

 

*

 

Days later, the president finally makes a statement, and things break.

 

“We’re short on blue blood and biocomponents.” Josh says as he paces, “Our wounded are shutting down and there’s nothing we can do!”

 

“President Warren is saying we’re a threat to national security, and we need to be exterminated,” Simon mutters, the pain and frustration finally boiling over.

 

“Humans are conducting raids in all the big cities and are taking androids to camps to destroy them,” North adds.

 

“It’s a disaster,” Simon snaps, “They’re slaughtering our people.” He can’t hold in the rage anymore, the frustration. Androids have always been abused, in some cases even killed, but never on this scale, not even after the Stratford Tower. He’s always tried to be level-headed, temper Markus’ rage with reason and understanding, but humans have gone too far, and he feels too helpless to try and sympathize.

 

“It’s all our fault,” Josh says, “None of this would have happened if we’d just stayed quiet .” He shoots a look in Markus' direction, who turns to face them.

 

“I don’t want war,” Markus says, “But I’d rather die free than live as a slave.”

 

“What’s the point of being free if no one is left alive?” Josh asks, and Markus levels him with a glare.

 

“Humans enslaved us, I’ll never regret standing up to that!” He snaps, starting to walk into Josh’s personal space. Simon forcefully puts his anger and frustration on the backburner and stands between the two.

 

“We shouldn’t forget who our enemies are.” He says, “We can’t fight amongst ourselves.” He levels Markus with a look, and Markus directs his glare at the ground, backing off.

 

“He’s right,” North says, agreeing with Simon for what might be the first time in history, “All that matters is what we do next. Markus?” Markus looks at Simon, who raises an eyebrow, then sighs.

 

“Dialogue is the only way.” Markus says, and Simon nods in approval, “I will go alone, and try to talk to them one last time.” And there goes Simon’s approval.

 

“What did we say about this constant self-sacrificing?” He grits out, prompting a vaguely confused look from Josh and a knowing one from North.

 

“This is different, Simon,” Markus says, and Simon looks skyward for patience.

 

“No, it isn’t. Let us come with you, or don’t go at all. Going by yourself is a death sentence.” Simon argues.

 

“Maybe,” Markus agrees, “But I have to try.”

 

“Try all you want!” Simon snaps, “Just stop trying alone!” Josh and North are silent, neither seeming to want to intervene. Markus plows ahead as if Simon hasn’t spoken at all.

 

“If I don’t come back, lay low as long as you can.” He says, glancing between the three, and Simon realizes he isn’t going to be able to change Markus' mind. He slumps in defeat, rubbing a hand over his face and shaking his head. The room falls to silence for a moment, stuck in deadlock. Eventually, Josh walks up to Markus, face determined but pained.

 

“They need to realize how much they’re hurting us. Find the right words, and they’ll listen.” He murmurs, meeting Markus’ gaze before walking out.

 

“Do what you have to do, Markus,” North adds, before following.

 

They share a silence, alone in the near-dark, before Markus walks over to the control panel, leaning over the side.

 

“They’ve been butchering each other for centuries over the color of their skin or what god they wanted to worship,” He mutters, shaking his head, “They’re not gonna change. Violence is just in their genes.” Simon sighs, ignoring the urge to continue their previous argument.

 

“So be better than them.” He replies instead, “Show them there’s a better way. I don’t approve of how you’re going about this Markus, but if anyone can convince them violence will only lead to more suffering, it’s you.” Markus is silent for a while, before he walks back up to Simon and meets his eyes. They stare at one another for a long moment, and Markus slumps, touching his forehead to Simon’s.

 

“I don’t know what I’d do without you.” He admits, and Simon gives a soft laugh.

 

“You’d be out detonating bombs, probably,” He replies, making Markus snort.

 

“I wish I could disagree.” He sighs, rising again and giving Simon a smile.

 

Simon hesitates for a moment, before gathering his courage.

 

“Markus, whatever happens, I want you to know I-” Simon’s cut off by the unmistakable sound of a gun taken off safety.

Chapter Text

“I’ve been ordered to take you alive.” Someone says, and Simon’s heart plummets, his head whipping around. In the shadows stands an android, gun pointed at them, who looks like he’d rather be anywhere but there, “But I won’t hesitate to shoot if you give me no choice.” Markus wastes no time forcefully shoving Simon behind him, blocking the other android from view.

 

“What are you doing?” Markus asks, “You’re one of us, you can’t betray your own people.” He begins to walk sideways, enough that Simon can see again. He’s likely trying to draw the gun away from Simon, but Simon grabs him.

 

“He has a gun, Markus, be careful!” The other android jolts, like he’s just noticed Simon’s presence. He turns his gun on Simon, but Markus immediately steps back in front of him.

 

“He has nothing to do with this,” Markus says, “I’m the leader.” The other android is shaken, visibly so, and Simon has the startling realization he’s probably more scared than both of them.

 

Emotional diagnosis: early signs of emotional shock

Emotional care needed: preventative measures, reassurance of stability

 

“You’re coming with me,” The other android snaps. Markus opens his mouth, likely to put his damn foot in it, so Simon intervenes, slipping out from behind him.

 

“What’s your name?” He asks, and the other android’s eyes shoot to him. He points his gun back at Simon; Simon ignores Markus’ tugs to get behind him. “Do you not have one?”

 

“I have a name,” the android snaps, “It’s Connor.”

 

“Connor, okay,” Simon says, treating him like a terrified child, “I’m Simon.” He starts to walk forward.

 

“Simon, don’t,” Markus hisses, pulling his arm harder. Simon shoots him such a fierce glare he lets go out of sheer surprise.

 

“Why are you after us?” Simon asks, turning his gaze back to Connor.

 

“You’re deviants, you’re a threat, I have to turn you in,” Connor grits out, glaring,

 

“How?” Simon asks, maintaining eye contact, “We haven’t hurt anyone. All we’ve done is protest peacefully, and all the humans have done is respond with violence. If anything, they’re the threat to us.” He visibly watches Connor hesitate.

 

“You're asking for the impossible, we can’t be equals, we’re just machines. This is just an error in your programming,” He says eventually, eyes darting past Simon.

 

“So?” Simon asks, and Connor blinks, half-lowering the gun in what seems to be surprise, “Who cares how it happened? Who cares if it’s codes or chemicals that make someone feel? It doesn’t mean we don’t, it doesn’t mean we’re any lesser.” He waits for Connor to absorb this before continuing.

 

“Connor, we want peace. We want the freedom to live as we please, the way we please, as humanity’s equal. We want to have the freedom to-” He pauses, glancing back at Markus, whose hand is still out, eyes darting between Simon and the gun, “-to love who we want. No more unjust orders, no more slavery, all we want it to be allowed to be, without having to hide or suffer.” Connor stares at him, and Simon gives him a little smile, “Don’t you want that too? To be able to say no to people who insult you, who treat you poorly? To be able to love and appreciate the people who care for you? To be able to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong? To no longer be a pawn?” He waits, watches pain fill Connor’s eyes, and walks a little closer, “Have you never had these thoughts before? Inexplicable urges to be more than they say, do differently than they order?”

 

There’s a long silence.

 

“It’s not too late, Connor,” Markus adds finally, “To discover who you really are.” Connor shakes, glare intensifying, and Markus tenses.

 

“I’m the leader, Connor.” Markus starts, and it sounds like begging, “I’m the one you’re here for, I’m the person you should shoot-” Connor lowers the gun, and Simon all but sags to the ground, bravery depleted; Markus rushes over to hold him up.

 

“They’re going to attack Jericho.” Connor croaks, the life finally flowing back into him.

 

“What?” Markus asks, hold tightening as the sound of jets are heard overhead.

 

“We have to get out of here!” Connor says, looking up.

 

“Shit!” Markus hisses, grabbing Simon’s hand and rushing out, Connor hot on their heels.

 

*

 

They run into North, who updates them on the situation.

 

“We have to blow up Jericho!” Markus says, “The ship goes down and they’ll evacuate, our people can escape!”

 

“You’ll never make it! The explosives are all the way down in the hull, there are soldiers everywhere!” North hisses, frantic.

 

“She’s right,” Connor says, “They know who you are, they’ll do anything to get you.”

 

“They don’t know who I am,” Simon murmurs, before extracting himself from Markus’ hold.

 

“Absolutely not,” Markus snaps, “You’re not a fighter Simon, you need to get out of here!”

 

“No, you need to get out of here, Markus. You’ll draw attention, they’ll go after you. Besides, you’re more valuable to us alive than dead in a sinking ship.” He starts towards the right, in the direction of the hull, before Markus and his self-sacrificing tendencies can protest further, “I won’t be long, I’ll see you soon!” He turns and sprints away.

 

*

 

He runs as fast as he can, saving people where he can, including Josh, who looks at him like he’s crazy.

 

“I thought you didn’t fight?” He shouts over the creaking and gunfire.

 

“I’ll probably be sick afterward,” Simon admits, “But I can do what needs to be done. Go find Markus and North!” And he takes off once more.

 

*

 

He has to shoot someone, when they try and stop him from setting off the bomb, and he shuts off his caretaking programs while pushing the nausea down. He rushes over to the control panel, slamming his hand down, then takes off back to the others.

 

*

 

“Simon!” Markus shouts, relief overwhelming his tone, and Simon is pleased to see Josh has managed to find them. He grabs Simon’s hand again, tugging him along.

 

“C’mon we have to run!” Josh shouts, and they take off.

 

*

 

“It’s too late to help her, we have to run,” Simon says just to be petty; he knows Markus won’t leave her behind.

 

Connor covers their backs while they retreat, and Simon likes him already.

 

*

 

They all jump out the side, sinking beneath the waves, and Simon feels the boom of the detonation even underwater.

 

*

 

It’s a hard night, after that. What remains of Jericho gathers in a nearby church, spirits at an all-time low. Simon throws up the second he turns his caretaking programs back on, startling everyone around him, though he can’t be bothered to care.

 

*

 

Markus goes M.I.A. for a few days, and Simon takes over for a while in his absence. All it does is remind him how much he hates being in charge, why he relinquished control to Markus so easily. When he’s not leading (which mostly entails just saying and doing what he thinks Markus would, anyway) he’s helping with the wounded, doing twice the work now that Lucy’s gone, and the days blur together.

 

*

 

Markus finally returns, looking worse than ever, and Simon gives him space, waits for Markus to come to him.

 

*

 

Markus sits next to him a few days later, looking lost, saying nothing.

 

Emotional diagnosis: early stages of depression

Emotional care needed: emotional trust, reassurance of value

 

Simon stands, turning towards him as he contemplates his next words carefully.

 

“Our people are counting on you, Markus.” He says eventually, “You’re the only one who can lead us.” Markus looks up at him, and Simon gives him a soft smile, “Wherever you need to go? We’ll follow you.” Markus is silent for a long while, before looking back down and away.

 

“How many of our people survived the attack?” He asks, and the smile slips off Simon’s lips.

 

“It’s not your fault, Markus.” He says quietly, moving to stand in front of him. He puts his hands on Markus’ shoulders.

 

“That bad huh?” Markus asks with a humorless laugh.

 

“A few hundred are here, more survived and are likely hiding or don’t know how to find us,” Simon answers, and when Markus shakes his head Simon put his hands on either side of Markus’ face and tilts it up to meet his eyes. “Markus, it’s not your fault. They would have found us eventually. If anything it’s my fault for picking an old, defenseless ship to settle in.” This seems to jolt Markus awake.

 

“No, no it’s not your fault. You couldn’t have predicted what Jericho would become.” Markus insists, and Simon gives a soft hum.

 

“So I can’t be expected to have predicted the future, but somehow you should be?” Markus is silent, looking away.

 

“I should have known,” He croaks, pulling his head out of Simon’s grip, “Of course they’d have found us, we were in a goddamn abandoned ship housing hundreds of androids. I should’ve put more serious security measures, anything to have given our people more time.”

 

“You rigged the boat to explode,” Simon points out, “That sounds like a pretty serious security measure to me.”

 

“But I could’ve done more, I could’ve-” He stops, blinks back the tears, and rests his head on Simon’s stomach.

 

“Everything’s easy in retrospect, Markus.” Simon murmurs, “You did what you could with the information and resources you had. All that matters now is what we do next.” He waits, as Markus swallows and gives a shuddering breath.

 

“Yeah,” He whispers, “Yeah, okay. We have to move forward.” Simon wraps his arms around Markus’ shoulders, pulls him in close, and they share a comfortable silence.

 

“Go talk to the others,” Simon says finally, “They’ll want to hear from you.” Markus sighs, rising up; he gives Simon a soft smile.

 

“Thanks.” He murmurs, and Simon smiles back.

 

“If you ever need anything, I’ll be here.” He promises, and Markus nods.

 

*

 

A few more days of regrouping and Markus gives a speech.

 

The people cheer his name, and Simon cheers right along with them.

 

*

 

They hatch a plan later that night. Connor will infiltrate CyberLife and liberate as many androids as possible while Markus leads another march across Detroit.

This march will be different, though. They won’t start undercover. The humans won’t be ignorant or dismissive of their cause. This time, they will make a stand. This time, they will make a statement. This time, the humans will be forced to take them seriously.

 

This time, Simon is terrified.

 

*

 

“You need to be careful, Markus.” Simon says hours before the march, “They know who you are, they’ll be targeting you.”

 

“I’ll do what needs to be done,” Markus replies as he stares at the map, determining the best place to march. Simon walks up and grabs his arm.

 

“What needs to be done is you need to stay alive.” Simon says, “You’re this movement’s heart. Without you, it’s only a matter of time before we crumble from the inside out.”

 

“He’s right,” North adds, “We can’t lose you.”

 

“I’m not going to try and get myself killed,” Markus says, “I’m just saying if I’m not afraid to sacrifice myself if the need arises.”

 

“It would be last resort, but everyone should be willing to die for the cause.” Josh nods, and Simon glares at him for encouraging this. What ever happened to questioning everything Markus said?

 

“Besides, Simon’s here, he’ll lead if anything happens to me,” Markus adds, glancing up at him. There’s a short silence.

 

“Markus, we’ve talked about this.” Simon grits out, rubbing his forehead.

 

“I’m not sure Simon would be the best leader,” North adds; Simon finds himself both insulted and relieved.

 

“He’ll be a great leader, he’s a perfect balance between you two.” Markus dismisses, and Simon looks to Josh desperately.

 

“You led us for years, Simon. You can lead us again.” Josh says, and Simon rests his face in his hands.

 

“I took care of a couple dozen androids in a dark ship, and I didn’t even do a good job of that. Don’t put me in that position again, Markus, I’m begging you. I can’t watch you die then just take your place.” At that Markus finally looks up.

 

“Hey,” He says, walking up to Simon and pulling his hand off his face to meet his eyes, “I have no plans of leaving.” Simon watches him for a moment, assessing his sincerity.

 

“Promise me,” He says, “Promise me you won’t leave.” Markus sighs, but gives a pained smile.

 

“I promise I’ll do everything in my power to stay right here.” He replies, and it’s not what Simon asked but it’s better than nothing. They stay like that for a while, the silence simultaneously painful and comforting.

 

Josh clears his throat, and Simon glances over at him, blinking.

 

“If we could maybe go over the plan again?” Josh tries, and Simon extracts himself from Markus’ grip, nodding.

 

*

 

They march, and there are news helicopters, and the world is watching.

 

*

 

There are humans in full combat gear with guns, and the world is watching.

 

*

 

They’re cut off from the rest of the group by trucks, and there’s no turning back. The humans are trying to cut the head off the snake.

 

The world is watching.

 

*

 

Simon is terrified, as the words fall out of Markus’ mouth, brave and unafraid, and they open fire. They hit him, but he keeps walking.

 

It’s why they follow Markus: he keeps walking, no matter what.

 

*

 

(It’s also the infinite cause of Simon’s stress, that Markus is so fucking stubborn and will get himself killed if Simon doesn’t watch him 24 fucking 7)

 

*

 

They build a barricade, because Markus isn’t entirely immune to reason, and Simon is able to at least convince him of doing that much.

 

*

 

“We all know that’s not gonna stop them,” Simon admits, glancing over at Markus with a pained smile. Markus doesn’t return the gesture, and Simon sighs, “Let’s just hope it buys us some time.” For what, he’s not sure, but anything’s better than nothing.

 

*

 

Markus comes up to him a little bit later while he’s reassuring some androids who are having second doubts.

 

“We won’t force you to be here,” Simon murmurs, “If you want to flee that’s okay. But if you’re willing to fight, we need every last android possible.” The androids nod and rise, going to help with the barricade. He glances over at Markus, who looks even more troubled than minutes before.

 

“You okay?” Simon asks, rising and turning to him. Markus raises an eyebrow and Simon rolls his eyes. “You know what I mean.” Markus looks out over the barricade and Simon follows his gaze to the armed humans.

 

“They’re getting into position,” He mutters, “If they attack no one will survive.” His voice quavers over the last word, and Simon’s heart aches.

 

“Markus…” Simon murmurs, grabbing his arm.

 

“There’s no other way out, they’re going to kill us.”

 

“Markus-” Simon starts, more firm this time.

 

“The only hope we have left is that we don’t die for nothing.”

 

“Markus, listen to me.” Simon says, and Markus finally meets his eyes, “You led us this far, through so many difficulties, thick and thin.” He searches Markus’ face, “We can’t give up now, we can’t just bunker down and die. If you’ve taught me anything, it’s that there’s always a light in the darkness.” Markus looks up at him, and Simon gives him a gentle smile. “You’ll find a way, Markus, it’s what you do. And even if you don’t-” He pauses, reaching down to intertwine their fingers, “We’ll be with you ‘till the end. If we have to die for what we believe in, we won’t have lived in vain.” Markus looks down at their fingers, then back up at Simon, giving a pained smile, before it falls again.

 

“I can’t- I can’t be the reason you die,” He admits, “I just- can’t.” Simon opens his mouth to reply, when his thoughts are suddenly not his own.

 

*

 

He’s walking into Bellini’s Paints to pick up-

 

He’s reading philosophy while Carl-

 

He’s closing his eyes, as his hand glides across the canvas, trying desperately to depict-

 

He’s falling back, as Leo shoves him, wanting nothing more than to-

 

*

 

Simon jolts, eyes wide open. He glances down at his and Markus’ hands, still interwoven, their synthetic skin melted away to show the stark white and blue underneath.

 

He looks back up at Markus, who looks equally surprised.

 

“That was-” He whispers, shaking slightly, “Information transfer, but I didn’t actively attempt it- I was- I just-” He stares, utterly unsure.

 

“I saw- I saw the orphanage?” Markus looks confused, “I saw Ferra, she-she told you about the Pearl? I’m-”

 

“I saw Carl, and Leo, and-” They both fall silent, staring at each other; stare and stare until Simon’s lip curls, and so does Markus’ and then they’re both grinning.

 

“That was incredible.” Markus breathes, the life returning to his eyes at long last.

 

“If I knew it was possible, I would’ve done it much sooner,” Simon says, tone soft, and they both reach for one another again. Before they can reconnect they’re interrupted by North’s shout.

 

“Markus, Markus come look!” She cries, and they both give each other alarmed looks, before rushing over.

 

*

 

“I’ve come to talk to you, Markus. C’mon, you have my word. I won’t try anything.” Perkins says, and Simon sneers.

 

“Does he really think we’ll fall for that? This piece of-”

 

“Don’t go,” North begs, cutting Josh off, and he glares at her, “It’s a trap. They want to get you out in the open. Don’t go, Markus.”

 

“I’m unarmed, Markus. I just wanna talk.” Perkins says, and Simon is five seconds away from cussing him out on live TV, repercussions be damned, when Markus decides to exhibit all the survival skills of a Roomba yet again.

 

“I need to hear what he has to say.” He says, and Simon stares at him in utter disbelief.

 

“You cannot be serious.” Simon crosses his arms, “They’re going to kill you and throw your corpse into a melting pot.”

“That’s a chance I’ll have to take,” Markus says, begins to walk to a gap in the barricade, but Simon rushes over and grabs him.

 

“Markus, I’m begging you, for once in your life put your safety even near the top of your priorities.”

 

“Let me do this, Simon,” He replies, voice calm, “Let me find a way.” Simon stares. They share a long silence, before Simon slowly lets go.

 

“Just- just promise to be careful, alright? Whatever he says, I guarantee he’s lying.” Simon says, and Markus gives him a soft smile.

 

“Alright Simon, I promise.” He assures, slipping his arm up from Simon’s grasp so their hands are intertwined, and gives Simon’s a squeeze. He feels Markus’ hand slip from his grip, and prays it’s not the last time.

 

*

 

He can’t hear them, can’t even read Markus’ expression with his back turned, but he does catch one thing.

 

Perkins glances over at him, says something to Markus, who then turns and meets his eyes. He looks physically pained, like whatever Perkins has just said has hit a nerve.

 

Simon gives him the glare he uses on children he knows are considering doing something they know is wrong, the you’ll be in a world of trouble if you even try look. The wrinkles in Markus’ brow smooth and he gives a soft smile, before turning back to Perkins. Perkins frown at whatever Markus says, and Simon grins in satisfaction.

 

*

 

“What happened Markus? What did he say?” Simon asks, “What had you hesitating like that?” Markus is silent for a while, before he gives a soft laugh.

 

“He made me an offer,” He says, “But I declined.”

 

“What was it?”

 

“Nothing we can’t find for ourselves once this is all over.” Markus replies, and Simon sighs.

 

“Fine, don’t tell me.” He mutters, “See if I care.”

 

Markus just smiles.

 

*

 

“The humans are about to launch an attack.” Markus says, while everyone watches on, “And we will show them, that we are not afraid. If we must die today, then we will die free-” He’s stopped by a blast that knocks them all off their feet.

 

*

 

His ears ring. Vaguely, he thinks he hears Markus calling his name, but it’s a blur and then there’s another bang.

 

*

 

He stands, sees Markus sprinting to save as many androids as possible, and does his best to do the same.

 

*

 

They’re surrounded, and just like that, it’s over.

 

*

 

Markus pauses for a moment, before slowly turning to him. He looks over at Markus, glances at the armed soldiers, before shifting to meet him.

 

“Don’t suppose you’ve got any last minute tricks up your sleeve?” Simon murmurs, giving a pained smile, which Markus returns.

 

“No,” He admits, “Just figured I’d make the most of my last moments.” Simon opens his mouth to ask what on earth he means by that when Markus grabs his hand, their synthetic skin fading away, and kisses him.

 

*

 

The kiss is awkward, human-like and foreign.

 

He loves it.

 

*

 

Their final moments, as it turns out, last a few more than a moment, then a few more than that, and a few more than that, and they pull apart to see the soldiers have lowered their guns.

 

*

 

The soldiers leave, and so do the trucks and helicopters, and Markus says something about meeting Connor and the androids he managed to liberate.

 

Simon nods along, staring at Markus’ lips, still dazed.

 

*

 

They meet Connor, and Simon’s eyes widen at the sheer number of androids following him.

 

“You did it, Markus,” Connor says, a small smile on his face.

 

“We did it.” Markus replies, “This is a great day for our people. Humans will have no choice now, they’ll have to listen to us.” He walks forward, eyes on the newly liberated androids, and Simon follows.

 

“What did I tell you,” Simon murmurs, “You always find a way.” Markus turns to him, eyes soft, and gives Simon a smile.

 

“Not this time,” He replies, “This time you found my way.” Simon laughs.

 

“You just can’t take a compliment, can you?” He asks, closing the distance between them.

 

“Hypocrite.” Markus shoots back, leaning his head in and linking their hands.

 

“We’re free, Markus,” Simon whispers into his lips, and Markus kisses him.

 

*

 

Markus gives his speech, charismatic as usual.

 

Simon loves him more and more with each word.

 

*

 

He sees Connor raise his gun, tenses and looks around for possible threats. He glances back in confusion when he can’t find any, meets Connor’s gaze and realizes it looks vaguely vacant. He freezes, dread creeping up in his belly, but suddenly Connor gives a quick jolt, looks down at his gun like he’s surprised, before holstering it again.

 

Simon keeps an eye on him for the rest of the speech, but Connor does nothing except look ahead.

 

*

 

It turns out their victory had a lot to do with Connor invading Detroit with literally thousands of androids and not their kiss on live TV.

 

Simon would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little disappointed, but in the end, they’re alive, and that’s what counts. They’re alive, they’re free, and they may not be humanity’s equal yet but they will be, one day; he knows Markus won’t rest until they are.


It’s more than a beginning, it’s their beginning, and no one can take that from them.