Detroit was freezing. The few humans that remained in the city after the revolution had retreated to their heated homes, the android population deciding that following suit wasn’t such a bad idea.
But for one such android, there was always work to be done.
The alley was dark and grimy as alleyways tended to be. The mangled body propped up against the wall was no stranger sight to the civilians of Detroit, and certainly not to the members of the Detroit Police Department.
Sixty knelt down beside the body and began to analyse it, subconsciously relaying data to the two other RK models present.
“I’ll go talk to our informants, see if they have anything else to add,” Nines said, striding off and disappearing around the corner before Connor could even begin to object.
Left with nothing else to do, Connor scanned his surroundings. Nothing but the usual popped up in his HUD.
Sixty stuck his hand in the corpses’ open stomach.
Connor looked towards the dusk sky.
“Scanners say it’s going to rain.”
Sixty glanced over, lips parted with blood still on his fingertips. He followed Connor’s gaze.
“Yeah, mine say the same.”
Connor rubbed at his arms irritably.
“I really wish I had that umbrella now. I told you we should have gone shopping for more clothes already. Our uniforms don’t do anything now that we can feel the cold.”
“Just turn your temperature sensors off.”
Sixty titled his head to the side. A quick body scan revealed that Connor wasn’t lying.
“No shit, seriously?”
Connor nodded, a slight jerk of the head.
“My temperature regulator is performing below optimal function…”
“I don’t understand. You’re seriously not lying?”
“Scans don’t lie.”
“Statistically speaking, there’s always a chance for unlikely events to take place.”
Connor grunted. He shivered violently.
Sixty regarded Connor with open surprise.
“That doesn’t make any sense. We’re the same most advanced model, second only to Nines. Why the fuck wouldn’t you be able to disable your temp sensors?”
Connor shrugged, but Sixty saw right through him.
“It’s Amanda, isn’t it?”
Connor didn’t say anything.
Sixty rose to his feet, shaking out the jerkiness in his knee servos. He walked over, coming to a stop beside Connor. He looked at the sky, a perfect copy of his brother’s posture.
“You know you can talk to me about it, if you want to. About her,” he said quietly. “I may have all your memories, but I didn’t live through them. I feel detached from them, like I’m viewing somebody else’s life. I know it’s not much, but I might be able to offer a fresh perspective… or something.”
Silence. Then a small chuckle. Connor sobered, and let out a slow breath.
“Thanks. But I’m not ready yet.”
Sixty side-eyed Connor. He bit his tongue, and silenced the indignant persistence that wanted to build. He flickered his gaze away, voice box strained.
Connor slumped, his straight-backed posture collapsing in on itself. He bowed his head into his chest.
Sixty hesitantly reached out and pulled Connor sideways and into his chest.
Connor stiffened slightly, but he didn’t move away. He brought his hands up and curled them in Sixty’s all-too familiar uniform. The fabric was smooth. It was all he had ever known.
The heavens finally opened above them, and the deluge that came down was like a tidal wave.
Connor relaxed into Sixty’s hold and started to cry.
Sixty stood still. His pre-constructive programs hadn’t prepared him for this.
What he did have, though, were social relations programs specifically designed for comforting victims and witnesses. They prompted him to rub circles into Connor’s back as the older RK800 shook with the force of his sobs, so that was exactly what Sixty did.
Connor pressed his face into Sixty’s chest. He wrapped his arms around his freezing torso.
“Sixty, I don’t like this.”
“Its okay. It’s going to be okay.”
“How can you be sure?”
Sixty swallowed, a function that shouldn’t serve any purpose. His synthetic throat felt parched.
RK800 was always supposed to have answers. RK800 was supposed to be ready for any situation, consequences be damned. For the first time, Sixty found himself struggling for words.
“How can you be so sure?”
The sound of thunder filled his audio processors.
“I would have said the exact same thing! Don’t listen to him Hank, I’m the one who – ”
And then there was nothing.
Nothing to distract him from the hole in his head
H e w a s a l o n e
Shunted off to somewhere he could not see
<LET ME OUT!>
“I doubt there’s a heaven for androids.”
Until a bright light appeared
And RK800 – 60 opened his eyes
The pain in his head faded away for the first time
“Connor, can you hear me?”
“How can you be so sure?”
Sixty jolted back to reality.
Connor was pliant in his grip, all too trusting and vulnerable.
“How can you be so sure?”
And the words came tumbling out of Sixty’s mouth.
“I don’t have any other option.”
Connor fell silent again, save for the awful rasping sound that echoed up his throat from his stressed voice box. He shivers increased.
Sixty wondered if Connor’s bio-components were, for whatever reason, more susceptible to the cold than his own.
“Scans don’t lie.”
Sixty can’t get a read on Connor’s systems. He’s being blocked, somehow. He tightened his grip and sent an urgent message to Nines.
<-60: Connor’s not well. We need to leave now.>
The reply was immediate.
<-87: On my way.>
<-87: What is wrong with Connor?>
<-60: He’s cold and he’s crying. I can’t scan his systems.>
There was a wave of concern through the connection. Sixty’s audio processors picked up nearing footsteps increasing in frequency.
<-87: Connor shouldn’t be cold.>
<-60: He shouldn’t be crying either.>
RK800-60 had cried
And machines don’t cry
But deviants do
Nines burst around the corner with a splash of water. He hurried over to where the two RK800s were standing. Brows furrowing, he tentatively brushed his consciousness against Connor’s, and when that was received without violent rejection or complaint, he placed a hand on Connor’s shoulder.
“Connor, are you alright?”
Connor shook his head.
“C-cold. I want t-to go h-home.”
Connor’s ceramic teeth chattered, the unpleasant feeling reverberating in his skull.
Nines frowned. He tapped at his LED, focusing on contacting the nearest taxi. He couldn’t help but let out an audible sigh of relief when he found one in mere milliseconds.
“There, all done. We can go home now, Connor.”
Connor didn’t respond.
Sixty drew Connor back slightly to look at his face.
Connor’s face was frighteningly pale and tinged with blue. His eyes had seemingly drifted shut some time ago. A worried glance at his temple showed the LED to be slowly pulsing a faint red.
Sixty shook him slightly.
Nines shifted nervously, gaze flickering between Sixty’s anxious face and Connor’s lax one.
He hadn’t been able to move
Sixty resisted the urge to curse and shook Connor harder.
Connor’s head lulled. The LED continued to pulse in and out. He looked, for all thoughts and purposes,
The squeak of tires and splashing water drew Nines’ attention to the taxi that was just pulling up at the curve.
“Ride’s here,” he said curtly, in an attempt to shut down his warring emotions. “Bring him over now, and hurry.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Sixty snapped. He tried to pull one of Connor’s frozen arms around his shoulders. Failing that, Sixty quickly settled for simply scooping the other android up and into his arms. He snarled as water ran down his face, messing with his vision and obscuring his view of his precious cargo. He bent over, trying to protect Connor from the rain.
Something fell over his head, blanketing his shoulders and covering Connor from the rain. Sixty blinked as his scanners instantly detected CyberLife issued material.
Nines stood just behind him, holding his larger jacket over the two smaller models. His jacket was large enough that it managed to cover all three of them successfully.
“Come on, the faster we get back home the better. I don’t want Connor to suffer any more than you do.”
Sixty instinctively sent a wave of guilt and gratitude to the taller android.
“I… thanks, Nines.”
“Don’t mention it,” was the gruff, but not unkind reply.
Sixty hurried to the curb, shoes tapping impatiently at the ground for the taxi’s door to slide open. With gentleness that that surprised both himself and Nines, he eased himself into the small enclosed space with Connor still limp in his arms, making sure the unconscious android’s head was still pillowed in his shoulder.
Nines sat down next to him, folding his soaked jacket in his lap. He leant forward, interfacing with the taxi’s system and overriding its automatic speed controls.
“115 Michigan Drive.”
The taxi raced off.
“Are you sure this is safe?” Sixty asked, eyebrows raised.
“With me driving, yes.” Nines’ stony gaze offered no insincerity. His grey eyes bore into Sixty’s, then softened. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to save Connor’s life just to get him killed.” He looked out the window, where the rain was still bucketing down heavily with all the force of mother nature’s rage.
Amanda had been like a mother to him
Connor has betrayed her
And Sixty let her down
In another timeline, he would have said, “You’ve been a great disappointment to Amanda, you know.”
“You’ve been a great disappointment to me.”
The only one he disappointed was himself
“I don’t blame you for what happened.”
“You were just a machine.”
Nines’ LED cycled yellow three times before stabilising.
“There. I’ve sent messages to the DPD, Gavin, and Hank. They should all soon know what’s going on.”
Sixty stared blankly.
“You’re not going back to Gavin’s tonight?”
Nines shook his head.
“No. Connor is more important. Gavin will understand.”
Sixty nodded slowly. He turned his attention to stroking Connor’s hair.
“I think I’ll stay at Hank’s tonight too,” he said absently.
Nines hummed, lost in thought.
Sixty withdrew into himself, movements robotic as he stroked Connor’s wet hair back off his pale forehead. Sixty tentatively reached out, searching for his brother’s consciousness.
He didn’t find it.
Every android knows there are things worse than death
Sixty’s fingers curl. He reaches out again.
There. A wisp. Just a wisp. Weak and frail. But it’s there.
Connor is there.
“It’s going to be okay.”
Sixty sags back into the seat.
It didn’t take too long to arrive at Hank’s. The taxi pulled up at the old house with a crunch from the brakes. Sixty felt a brief wave of amusement at the thought of the company eventually discovering their fucked over suspension systems.
Hank met them at the door, eyes wide and panicked. He took in his son’s limp form, expression fraught with distress.
“Connor. Oh God.”
“He’s going to be okay, Lieutenant,” Sixty tried desperately.
Nines squeezed Sixty’s shoulder.
Hank gestured for Sixty to pass Connor over. Sixty obliged, though somewhat reluctantly.
Hank cradled Connor against his chest, hurrying back into the house.
Sixty and Nines hastened to follow.
Hank lay Connor down on the couch, uncharacteristic gentleness a mimicry of Sixty’s earlier movements. He held Connor’s head up with one large hand, placing a pillow down with the other. Hank gently let Connor’s head down into the soft material.
“Go get some blankets and spare clothes, now,” he said to the two conscious androids present. They hurried to obey.
Hank stroked Connor’s wet hair back, breathing harshly. His son’s skin felt so cold, so much colder than it usually was, the otherness of the android heightened in whatever this state was.
Sumo padded over, nudging at Connor’s limp hand with a whine.
“I know, boy,” Hank croaked. “I know.”
Sixty and Nines returned, pyjamas and many blankets bundled up in their arms. They set to work removing Connor’s soaked uniform, replacing it with the sweatpants and oversized hoodie, then wrapping Connor up in blankets, making sure not to leave them too tight that the android would feel trapped upon waking.
<-60: If he wakes.>
<-87: Don’t think that.>
Sumo jumped up on the couch, climbing over the mountain of blankets to settle over Connor’s covered chest. The great big dog snuffled in the android’s blank face, whining at the lack of response and licking away the tears that had started to dry.
Connor didn’t move, but his LED switched from the terrifying intermittent red to a steady yellow.
Nines inhaled sharply, and Sixty visibly twitched.
Hank looked up at them, eyes hard and questioning. When neither android ventured to say anything, he went back to observing Connor.
The three of them waited with bated breath, Sumo’s whining being the only thing to break the silence.
The sun had long disappeared and the moon risen in the sky, rain having turning to snow and hail, when Connor’s LED finally cycled back into a calm blue.
[ALL SYSTEMS FUNCTIONING WITHIN SAFE PARAMETERS…]
Sixty let out a choked sob and fell to his knees, crawling forward and clutching onto Connor’s torso.
Nines knelt down beside him, taking his hand and strengthening the connection between them. Tears fell from grey eyes, eyes that were usually so stoic that now swam with relief.
Hank kissed Connor’s forehead and pressed his own against it. His shaking hands found the sides of Connor’s face, still reassuring himself his son was there, safe and sound. Not dead, not lost in the prison of his mind.
Not broken at the side of the road, buried in blood-stained snow.
Hank breathed in deeply, turning to his other two sons and giving them a wide, grateful smile.
“Thank you, you two.”
Nines nodded weakly.
“Of course, father.”
Sixty sobbed again, gasping through tears.
“He’s okay. He’s okay he’s okay he’s okay.”
Sixty reached for Connor’s face, synthetic skin drawing back instinctively.
Hank moved backwards, giving Sixty the space he so desperately needed.
Sixty whimpered, actually whimpered at feeling his brother’s consciousness returning to its previous strength.
He hadn’t lied to himself. He hadn’t lied to Connor.
He buried his head in Connor’s chest.
Connor woke slowly. There was a not quite smothering pressure on his chest. He blinked, optical units taking their time to come into focus.
A wet nose poked at his face.
“Hello, Sumo,” Connor croaked.
A large tongue licked his face, leaving him covered in slobber. Connor didn’t mind.
Lethargically extracting a hand from the blanket burrito he found himself cocooned in, he scratched behind the dog’s ears. Sumo growled in contentment.
Connor gave a weary smile.
Connor only got a glimpse of a bright pastel orange shirt before he was enveloped in a frantic hug.
“Connor! Connor, oh my rA9, you’re awake! I thought, I thought you might never wake up again, I was scared, I was so scared Connor, I’ve never been more scared in my life – ”
Connor groaned weakly.
The crushing grip around his still weak body retracted immediately.
“Shit! Did I hurt you? I’m so sorry! Here, let me – ”
Connor blinked in confusion as his optical units slowly focused on the figure above him.
Sixty lifted Connor’s torso, swapping the pillow under his head for a fresh, fluffier one. He rearranged the blankets covering the recovering android’s body.
“There, are you feeling better now? You’re not cold anymore?”
Connor shook his head.
“No. I’m okay.”
Sixty slumped with relief.
“Oh, good. Thank rA9.”
Connor blinked again as he finally registered what stood out to him about his brother, besides all the uncharacteristic mothering.
“You’re wearing casual clothes, Sixty.”
“Yeah, I am. I’ll tell Nines and Hank you’re awake.”
Sixty’s LED cycled yellow once, and there was movement in the hall as Nines was undoubtedly waking the older man up.
The two of them appeared not a minute later, Hank in front of the tall android, who was clearly relieved, despite the air of soft amusement around him.
Hank collapsed at Connor’s side, taking Connor’s face in his hands.
“Connor. Oh, son.”
Connor cracked a weak smile.
Sumo let out a woof as he dropped off the couch and plodded over to Nines, who bent down to start petting him. Sixty moved to join him, satisfied that Connor was awake and communicating.
Hank stroked Connor’s cheek with his thumb.
“I would have sat here all night if your brothers hadn’t forced me to go to bed, you know. Damn overprotective robots.”
Connor snickered as Nines cut in indignantly with a, “Not robots.”
Connor sobered as he took in just how weary Hank’s features were. The ache he felt in his hardware was reflected in his father’s face.
“I’m glad they did. I don’t want you to stay up on my account. It’s not worth it.”
“It’s always worth it,” Hank said forcefully. “You are always worth it, Connor. Nothing is going to change that.”
Connor lowered his gaze to the floor.
“Even now that I’m broken?”
“You’re not broken!” Hank shouted at the same time as Sixty let out a cry of disagreement and Nines growled low in his throat. Sumo howled anxiously.
Connor flinched, retreating back into his cocoon.
Hank immediately softened, eyes crinkling with regret.
“I’m sorry, Connor. You’re not broken. You’re just…”
“Different,” Nines finished for him.
Connor still looked unsure.
Hank pulled Connor into his arms.
“I’m just glad you’re safe.”
Connor slowly wrapped his arms around his father.
Hank ran a hand through Connor’s hair, ruffling his curls.
“Yeah, yeah you are.”
Sixty’s eyes twinkled with mirth.
“See, I told you.”
Connor’s gaze flickered to him.
Sixty smiled, worn and sad but also bright and oh so happy.
“I told you it would be okay.”
Nines’ consciousness brushed against Connor’s.
<-87: He refused to leave your side all night. Like Hank said, he would have done the same if we hadn’t stopped him. I offered to stay too, but Sixty insisted that he be the one to watch over you.>
Connor felt the tears building in his eyes again.
<-87: He said he didn’t want to fail you.>
Connor held out a hand to his brothers.
Sixty and Nines shuffled forward, wrapping their arms around Connor and their father.
Surrounded by his family, safe and sound and warm and comforted, and far, so far away from the washed-out wastelands of the treacherous garden and the traitorous streets of Detroit, Connor felt like he could finally be free.