Something was very, very wrong.
Connor would be hard pressed to give an explanation as to why something was wrong, or at least an explanation that made sense to a stranger. It was a lot of little things that had all built up to create an intense feeling of wrongness. Sixty had been smiling since he returned home the previous evening, but it was his ‘I have done something and I’m waiting for you all to find out about it’ smile. And if that wasn’t enough, he hadn’t woken Connor up by pouring water on him, or even kicked the back of Connor’s seat on their way to work. He had come up with 213 possible explanations for Sixty’s behaviour, and he knew he would be on edge until the matter was settled.
Hank had shrugged off his concerns, as Hank usually did when Sixty was Up To Something, but Gavin had noticed as well. Three seconds after he’d sat down he’d asked, “why are you smiling at me like that? It’s creepy.” He’d also pointed out the gap on Sixty’s desk where his nameplate usually sat, which he’d noticed even faster than Connor had.
Three hours into their shift Tina’s eyes met Sixty’s across the room, and Connor immediately prepared himself for the worst. Sixty acting strangely was worrying enough, but Sixty and Tina together? A nightmare. The third-worst thing Connor could imagine, behind ‘being hacked’ and ‘Sixty becoming friends with North’.
Sixty retreated into the breakroom and turned the coffee machine on. Connor felt like he was frozen in place watching what was about to unfold, even if no one else had noticed anything out of the ordinary. His fellow detectives could be truly useless sometimes. A few seconds later Tina focused back on her screen and said, “hey Reed, can you look at this for me?”
Gavin looked up from his computer, startled out of his work by the sound of his own name. “Huh?” he said, because Connor had not once in his life heard Gavin say anything eloquently.
“No, not you,” Tina replied. Connor could hear her trying to hold back laughter. “The new Reed.”
“The new-?” Gavin muttered, brow furrowed in confusion. Connor was sure his expression was similar.
Sixty chose that moment to reappear into the bullpen, a steaming mug of coffee in his hand. “Ah, Tina, you called?” he asked. It was the most fake-innocent thing Connor had ever heard him say, which was impressive, because Sixty was constantly causing trouble and then pretending that he hadn’t.
“There you are, I need your help for a sec.” She looked up at him, grin returning to her face, and shook the file slightly.
“Sure!” Sixty walked across the room and traded the file for the coffee mug. He opened it to the first page, turned to look at Gavin over his shoulder, and winked.
Connor had just enough sense to take a picture of Gavin’s face for later, question marks practically visible flying around his head, before he asked what everyone in the room - or he and Gavin, at the very least - were thinking. “Sixty, what have you done?”
“Well,” Sixty said as he started flicking through the pages. At regular human reading speed, another sign that he was causing trouble. “Fowler kept telling me to get off my ass and pick a last name, and Gavin is always saying that I should pick an awful last name to match my awful first name. So last night I went down to city hall and picked the worst name I could think of. You, my friends, are now looking at Sixty Reed.”
This was not one of Connor’s 213 predicted explanations.
Sixty took the shocked silence that followed as an opportunity to retreat back to the break room, and this time Connor followed him. He knew Sixty had a tendency to be impulsive, but changing his name? That was a pretty big deal.
“Six, did you actually think about this?” Connor asked as he sat at the table. Tina’s file had been placed on the table, so Connor took the opportunity to read through it. The case was already solved, to his surprise. Just a prop for the big reveal.
“Be more specific, Con. Clearly I had to think about it in order to do it,” Sixty replied. “What you mean is, how long did-”
“Alright, what’s the big idea, smartass!” Connor had seen Gavin angry before, but nothing like how angry he looked as he stormed into the breakroom. A potential second to ‘finding out Sixty was his new partner’ on the Gavin Anger Scale, but definitely bad.
Sixty, on the other hand, was busting out the ‘puppy that absolutely didn’t just eat your slipper’ look, as Hank liked to call it. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, as if he hadn’t just announced to the entire bullpen what Gavin was talking about.
“Har har, don’t play dumb,” Gavin snarled, poking Sixty in the chest. “Why the fuck did you steal my name?”
“I didn’t steal anything,” Sixty said, as if he hadn’t just announced to the entire bullpen that he’d stolen Gavin's last name - wow, Connor's thoughts were getting repetitive. He needed to play a few rounds of solitaire and get his brain working again. “I just think Reed's a neat name. I like plants…” False. Sixty killed Connor’s houseplant by giving it too much water. “I like books…” Also false, Connor had never seen Sixty read a book in his life. “I like…”
“You like Gavin,” Connor interrupted before Sixty could say something stupid like ‘wind instruments’. And yes, perhaps Connor should not have impulsively said something that he’d inferred from a late night conversation three months ago, but Sixty did that all the time, so whatever.
He smiled sweetly at Sixty as the other android’s face turned red. “What? No!”
Gavin, to his credit, immediately ran with it. The workplace bullying circle had finally paid off. “Yeah, it’s like we’re married or some shit.”
“No!” Sixty protested again. “And you don’t get to talk, Connor Detroit!”
“Holy shit, that’s what you went with?” Gavin laughed as he walked over to the table and ruffled Connor’s hair. Finally, things were getting back to normal.
Sixty shrugged as he followed Gavin across the small room. “Dumb name for a dumb face.”
Gavin mimed holding a walkie talkie. “Ksshh, dispatch calling Detective Detroit, we need you urgently.”
“An award was dropped off at reception, it’s inscribed with ‘world’s biggest loser’.”
“We knew to call you.”
Connor sighed and looked back out at the bullpen. Hank was looking around in confusion, coat in hand, which meant they probably had a case to go on and that Hank had somehow managed to ignore Sixty’s Bullshit of the Day. He pushed Sixty and Gavin away from him so that he could stand up. “Alright, laugh it up,” he said, a phrase he definitely had not stolen from his partner. “At least people won’t think I’ve married the city.”
Gavin snorted as Connor began to walk away. “So what? We could be married.”
Connor saw Sixty nod and immediately wanted to sink through the floor. Nope. Why would you say something like that to the most impulsive android in Detroit? “The benefits would certainly be worth it,” Sixty said, and Connor knew that he would regret making a comment about marriage for the rest of his sorry life.
“Mortgage, especially since I can’t legally own property yet.”
“Oh, better credit score! Fuck it, let’s do it!” Gavin exclaimed, and to Connor’s horror Sixty agreed. You fool, Gavin.
“Wait-” he tried to protest, but Hank had finally realised where he was hiding and started dragging him out, completely unaware of the terrible event that had just taken place. Gavin may as well have just proposed. This was terrible. This was worse than a name change, or the time that Sixty hid under his bed and began to tickle his feet just as he fell asleep.
Something else about the conversation was bothering him too though… and it wasn’t the whole ‘Sixty clearly has feelings for Gavin’ thing. Was it Gavin’s sudden mood change? Or the-
“WE’RE IDENTICAL, SIXTY, YOU DUMB FACE!”
Connor didn’t have the guts to broach the topic until he and Sixty were alone that night, their shared bedroom lit only by their LEDs. Statistically, the best time to have a serious conversation with Sixty was when he was tired - he was more honest, and more straight to the point, since he wanted the conversation to finish quickly. “Hey, Six… what happened today?”
“I’m pretty sure I got engaged,” Sixty replied. Honest and to the point. “We talked about it more after you left. It’s pretty common, actually, androids getting married to humans. It counts as ‘joining an American family’, and while Hank might adopt you one day, I am shit outta luck. Gotta get my citizenship somehow.”
Connor had heard about this from his friends at New Jericho, but knowing it and seeing it happen to his brother were very different things. “And you aren’t going to regret it a few months down the line?”
He couldn’t see Sixty, but he was fairly certain that his brother shrugged. “Who cares if I do? If we can get married then we can get divorced. But Gavin’s been single for over a decade, according to him, and I’m-” Sixty’s LED span yellow for a second as he cut himself off, but it was enough for Connor to fill in the blank.
“You have feelings for him,” he said gently, more of a statement than a question.
“I don’t know.” That was unlike Sixty, to admit to not knowing something. “Sometimes I think I do, y’know? He’s attractive, and sometimes I’m like ‘wow, I could kiss you right now’, but is it just curiosity? ‘Cause I think that about other people too! And he’s my best friend, I like spending time with him, but what’s the difference between hanging out and going on a date?”
“Sixty, I am probably the worst person to ask about this,” Connor said eventually.
Sixty sighed. “Yeah, I know. And maybe it’s just because he’s the only person I’m super close to that isn’t my family. This shit is so confusing.”
“Emotions suck,” Connor agreed with a nod. “You’ll figure it out, though. It’s okay if you stay friends, and it’ll be okay if it becomes something more.”
“Yeah, I hope so. Thanks, Con.” They laid in comfortable silence for a few minutes, neither of them eager to sleep so soon after a serious conversation. “Your face is dumber than mine, by the way.”
“It’s the same face,” Connor protested, but his brother had already gone into stasis.
The next day Connor’s backup quarter was missing from his pocket. He knew from reviewing his memory files that he hadn’t put it somewhere else, but he had a good idea who had taken it, which meant he wouldn’t be getting it back.
He’d taken to fiddling with a hairband that he’d permanently borrowed (not stolen, no matter what anyone else said) from Tina in its absence. Usually fiddling with something made it easier for him to focus, but the commotion from the breakroom was currently outweighing the hairband’s benefits.
To no one’s surprise, it was Gavin and Sixty again. The pair caused so many distractions that they may as well make a television show, like that Brooklyn Nine-Nine show Chris had shown him once. Today Sixty was holding a Ring Pop, which was strange since Sixty was physically unable to eat candy. They were vegan-friendly, though, which meant it was likely intended for his partner.
As if on cue, Sixty held out the candy and dropped to one knee. “Gavin Jerome Reed,” he said, loud enough to turn the head of everyone in the bullpen. Gavin’s middle name was not Jerome, Connor knew, but he suspected Sixty didn’t care. “You are my best friend that I don’t live with, and despite us both being absolute assholes, sometimes you’re kinda nice, so it is no surprise that we have fallen hopelessly, head-over-heels in love. I don’t know about you, but I want that for the rest of your puny human lifetime. Will you marry me?”
“You are so fuckin’ dramatic,” Gavin replied through stifled laughter. “Fuckin’ hell, Six, I said yes yesterday.”
The pair kept bursting into fits of giggles as Sixty slipped the makeshift ring onto Gavin’s finger. They seemed oblivious to their staring coworkers, until Chris ‘took one for the team’, as Tina would say, and spoke up. “Anyone else have so many questions right now?”
His response was some variation of ‘yes’, from almost everyone in the room.
“Didn’t you hate each other yesterday? You were yelling at him ‘cause he changed his name.” It seemed that once Chris started, he wasn’t able to stop. “Or have you actually been together this whole time?”
“Hey, I haven’t hated him for at least six months.” Gavin said, scratching the back of his head. He winced, presumably from Sixty nudging him or stepping on his foot. “But uh, yeah. Been together for a while. The name change caught me by surprise, since we hadn’t talked about marriage or anything, kinda freaked me out. But then we decided, hey, why not?”
Connor had never heard so many lies before in his short life, which was impressive, because he spent a significant amount of time interrogating criminals. Gavin’s explanation was almost convincing, though, and seemed to be good enough for most of their coworkers.
Connor thought that would be it - everyone would return to work, Sixty and Gavin would delight in their ability to convince their workplace of untrue things. Tina seemed to have other ideas though. “Ain’t you gonna kiss your fiance?” she yelled across the room. “Gotta prove it to the masses!”
“Ah, well, we don’t-” Gavin’s attempt at an excuse was interrupted by Sixty grabbing him by the jacket collar and pulling him in for a kiss. It looked awkward, not that Connor had any experience. Sixty flipped Tina off as they pulled apart, but he was looking at Connor, his eyes displaying a strange mix of panic and lust, and it was in that moment that Connor understood: Sixty had fucked up.
“This is the worst thing to ever happen to me, and I’ve been shot in the head,” Sixty groaned, hours later when it was just the two of them sitting in the dark.
“Congratulations on having feelings for the guy you’re faking a relationship with,” Connor replied, because he could be an asshole when he wanted to as well.
Sixty threw his pillow at Connor’s head. “Shut up, this wasn’t meant to happen. It was meant to be a joke! See whether we could actually convince people or not!”
“Well, you succeeded in convincing most of our coworkers, and yourself.”
“I hate you so much,” Sixty said, but Connor knew he didn’t mean it. “There’s a new quarter in your jacket by the way. Used yours to buy the ring.”
“Of course you did.”
The few days after the proposal were a blur. Connor and Hank had a difficult case, returning home far later than Sixty most days, and were far too exhausted to celebrate once they finally had their suspect in custody. Sixty must’ve sensed Connor’s mood, because he’d turned his usual chaotic behaviours onto Gavin instead. Well, that’s what Connor assumed, based on the two times he’d heard Gavin yell about having salt in his coffee. Not a common courting method, but whatever floated Sixty’s boat.
Now that he was back to paperwork and cold cases, though, it was his turn as the victim again. Already that day, Sixty had hidden Connor’s only jacket, transferred him a CAPTCHA code via interface, and given him a bottle of blue Gatorade. Before they’d even arrived at work.
By 10AM, Sixty was sitting at his desk across the bullpen, glaring right at Connor. Gavin was doing the same, which meant it was ‘Fuck Connor Club’ time. He could read their lips if he tried hard enough, but he already knew that it would be some variation of “fuck Connor”, or “Connor’s the worst”. He was used to it, but that didn’t stop him from feeling uneasy. The vibe was nasty, as Tina would say.
Hank called him away to follow a lead before Sixty and Gavin could follow through with whatever they’d been planning, and his stress level dropped 20% once he was out of the station. “Where are we off to, Lieutenant?”
“Corktown, Connor. Did you break your ears or something?” Hank asked. The unimpressed look on his face reminded Connor of their first week working together, before he had deviated.
“Sorry, Lieutenant, I was distracted by Sixty and Gavin,” he said. Becoming distracted was an unfortunate side effect of having free will, and one of the things he disliked most. He searched his database for any active cases they had related to Corktown and managed to find the one Hank must be investigating - a corner store robbery committed by a deviant. Something that was happening more and more often lately due to unemployment rates and low minimum wages amongst the android community. “Another android struggling for money, then? Unsurprising. At least Sixty and I have found better ways to deal with it.”
“You applied for a credit card using my SSN, Con,” Hank pointed out as he unlocked his car. “Technically a crime. Don’t tell me your evil twin’s done that too, I’ll be bankrupt before I know it.”
Was Hank really oblivious to what had happened a few days earlier? He’d been in the room, for rA9’s sake. Hank’s ability to completely ignore Sixty truly baffled Connor sometimes. “No, Lieutenant,” he started, before realising he was still standing in the parking lot. He opened the passenger door and sat down, buckling his seatbelt before he continued. “Sixty has decided to turn to tax fraud by marrying Gavin. They’re engaged.”
Hank’s mouth opened and closed a few times as he tried to come up with a response. Connor knew how that felt. “That kid is fucking insane, I swear,” he settled on eventually. The latest Knights of the Black Death track drowned out Connor’s attempt to continue the conversation.
His missing jacket was on the back of the chair when he returned to the station, confirming his suspicions that his brother had taken it. Something felt different about it though, and as he got closer he saw that parts of it were covered in holes and tears. Gavin and Sixty were looking at him from their desks, so he held the jacket up towards them. “What did you do this time?”
“Target practice!” Sixty said with a grin. “Tested out those throwing knives I got for my birthday. Gavin was giving me tips.”
“I did tell him to use an actual target.” Gavin, for once, looked slightly apologetic. He had helped ruin Connor’s clothing, after all. But once Sixty had his mind set on something it was very hard to convince him otherwise.
“It’s fine! He hates that jacket, now he has a reason to get a new one!”
Sixty was correct, but that didn’t mean Connor couldn’t be annoyed. “You could’ve asked first, at least. I probably would’ve said yes.”
He sat down and interfaced with his terminal, ending the conversation. He really had hated that jacket, but it still hurt to see it destroyed. It was one of the few things he owned. And Sixty had stolen and ruined it without an ounce of regret. This was out of line, even for him.
>Alert! Somebody is calling your name.
He could probably guess who. Hank usually just texted him if he was needed while interfacing.
>Alert! Incoming projectile.
Could Sixty just stop for once? Connor was tired and upset and angry, he didn’t want to have things thrown at him too.
>Alert! Incoming projectile.
>Alert! Incoming projectile.
>Alert! Damage to biocomponent #327L.
He pulled out of the interface to see a letter opener embedded in his left shoulder. “What the fuck?” he said in unison with Hank’s shout, both of them turning to face Sixty.
“Stop ignoring me when I’m trying to talk to you!” Sixty yelled back, arm raised with a pair of scissors in his hand.
“You just fuckin’ stabbed him!” Hank stormed over to Sixty’s desk and grabbed him, pushing him up against the cubicle wall. Connor knew how that felt. “The fuck is wrong with you?!”
Connor looked down at the letter opener again and turned his audio processors down, not in the mood to hear a screaming match. Sixty had thrown something sharp at him. Sixty had hurt him, for no reason besides Connor was working rather than talking to him. Sixty had done a lot of stupid things in his life, but he’d never hurt Connor before. Not since the warehouse, where he’d shot Connor in the same biocomponent that was damaged now.
He was fairly certain that Captain Fowler must’ve broken up the fight at some point, and he was vaguely aware of Gavin shouting at Sixty too, or maybe those things happened the other way around. He paid them no mind as he removed the letter opener from his shoulder. Thirium stained a small area of his shirt, but it would evaporate by the time he made it home. He stood, grabbed his ruined jacket and left.
His bedroom door opened again 27 minutes after he returned home, but for the first time Sixty hesitated at the door instead of immediately collapsing into bed. He looked nervous, an expression Connor saw him wear very rarely. “Are you okay?” he asked quietly, glancing down to Connor’s shoulder.
“It’ll heal when I sleep,” Connor said. He wasn’t okay though, and he knew that Sixty would infer that from his lack of answer.
His brother crossed the room and sat in front of him on the bed. He reached out towards Connor’s shoulder but dropped his hand at the last second. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t- I don’t know why I did that. I’m sorry.”
“I know,” Connor replied, surprising himself when he found it was true. Sixty really did sound sorry. “I know, Six, but…”
“Can I..?” Sixty held his hand out once more, but this time with the skin removed. Difficult topics were always better explained by sharing memories and emotions. Connor took it and accepted the interface request, preparing himself for whatever he’d see, and hoped it wouldn’t make him feel worse.
“Fuck, Sixty, I had such a great night last night.” Gavin stretched and leant back in his chair, and Sixty could see a bruise poking out from his collar. “Met this guy at the club, fuckin’ huge, holy shit. Don’t worry if you see me limping.”
Sixty ran the words through his social algorithms again, this time successfully interpreting them as ‘I got laid real good last night’. Usually these conversations didn’t bother him at all, but today his vision blurred red, the need to grab Gavin and leave his own marks on the shorter man overwriting any other self-assigned tasks he had.
(‘Jealousy’, Connor sent through the link, and felt Sixty respond with understanding.)
It made his jaw clench and his fingers curl into balls and he stood suddenly, shocking Gavin out of his recollection of the previous night’s events. He knew he couldn’t act on his desires, but he needed to do something else or he’d go mad. Target practice, maybe? He had those new knives, and he’d borrowed Connor’s jacket to wear out with Tina later but maybe he could use it for this instead. He needed to ruin something.
He grabbed the bag that held Connor’s jacket and briskly walked down to the shooting range, Gavin hot on his heels for some reason. He didn’t bother to explain himself as he draped the jacket over a target and grabbed the knife set. His first two throws missed completely, too worked up to use proper technique.
He felt a hand at his waist and looked over his shoulder to see Gavin behind him. “Here, turn like this,” he said, pushing lightly on Sixty’s hip until he was in a better position. “I think you should be using a paper target instead of Connor’s clothes, though.”
“Whatever,” Sixty replied as he threw the third knife. It hid the target, but not in the right position to stick. “He won’t care.”
Gavin grabbed his throwing arm and changed its position too, but his other arm still held Sixty’s hip, and they were almost pressed up against each other. Sixty could feel his breath on the back of his neck. It was incredibly distracting, but somehow he still managed to embed the knife in the centre of the jacket.
They stayed like that until Sixty was hitting the centre every time. He felt cold all over as soon as Gavin stepped away, a big change from the intense heat of moments before. He wanted, needed, to have Gavin’s hands on him, and the chill was a reminder of what he couldn’t have. And not because they were at work, since that probably wouldn’t stop him. It was because Gavin did not feel the same.
(‘Lust’, Connor suggested, even though the feeling was foreign to him. ‘I know what being horny feels like’, Sixty replied.)
He placed the jacket on Connor’s chair when they got back to the bullpen. He couldn’t bring himself to care about whether his brother would be mad or not. He was still so worked up, but in a slightly different way now. Not calm, not even close.
He stayed tense through work, through Connor’s return to the station. He needed to talk to his brother, but Connor wasn’t paying attention, so he threw the first thing from his desk that he could grab. It felt like a good idea at the time, but then later he could only see the letter opener in Connor’s shoulder, only feel Hank’s hands pushing him against the wall, only hear Gavin yelling at him.
He didn’t need Connor to tell him what regret and guilt felt like.
Connor pulled away from the interface as the memory faded away. He didn’t know what to say. Sixty’s actions were inexcusable, although he felt slightly better now that he had some context behind them.
“I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to do that, I just- just didn’t know what to do, everything was too much and it all felt wrong. I wasn’t paying attention. Why do I never think?” Sixty’s eyes filled with tears that quickly overflowed. Connor had never seen him cry before. “I hurt you again, oh God, I’m still just a- a fuckin’ piece of shit, I hate it, I hate myself.”
“No, Six,” Connor said, finally stopping Sixty’s rambling. He reached up and wiped away some of the fallen tears. “You’re nothing like how they made us to be, okay? You just need to learn how to control yourself and your emotions better. We’ll work on it. It’ll be alright. Okay?”
Sixty nodded frantically. “I can be better, I promise, I’m so sorry.”
“I know.” Connor pulled Sixty close, cradled his brother’s head against his chest. “I know.”
Jules From HR was in Fowler’s office when Connor arrived at work the next morning. He, Hank and Sixty were all called into the office, with Gavin already present. Connor suspected something like this would happen after yesterday’s fight, but it still made him anxious to be part of a HR meeting, even when he was the victim.
“So. Workplace stabbings,” Jules From HR said with an unimpressed raise of her eyebrow. She was possibly the only human that Connor was afraid of, and sat at third on his ‘terrifying entities’ list, behind Amanda and North. “I’ve had to talk to Lieutenant Anderson and Detective Reed more than a few times, but this is new.”
“It was my fault,” Sixty said quickly, surprisingly most of the people in the room. “I wasn’t looking at what I was throwing.”
“You shouldn’t have been throwing things in the first place, Officer… uh, Reed.” She quickly turned her attention from Sixty to Hank, though. “And it’s not an excuse to pick other officers up and throw them against walls, Lieutenant Anderson.”
Hank threw his hands up in the air in outrage. “He fuckin’ stabbed Connor! He’s always treating Connor like shit too, even when we’re at home!”
“How would you know?” Sixty said, leaning forward in his chair so that he could see Hank better. “You never pay attention to me!”
“If I may say something,” Connor interrupted with his serious voice, the one that made everyone shut up, even Tina. “Sixty and I have already talked about what happened, and he has agreed to work on his impulsive behaviour. I don’t want him suspended, or punished in any way. Although appointments with a therapist might be welcome.”
“Well, the police department is still in the process of allowing androids access to healthcare, including mental health support.” Jules From HR was very casual about explaining the DPD’s anti-android views. No discomfort visible in her face. What a surprise.
Sixty raised his hand, imitating the high school film Connor had forced him to watch two weeks ago. Connor honestly thought Sixty had slept through the whole thing, but apparently not. “But if I were to marry a human on the police force, I would have access to their health insurance, and therefore would be able to get a therapist, right?”
Jules From HR sighed. “And that brings me to item 2, workplace relationships.” She looked unimpressed, and Connor knew exactly how she felt. “Lieutenant Anderson, another report of violence against a coworker this quarter will get you suspended. Detective… Detroit…” - Gavin and Sixty snorted in the background, and then immediately tried to hide it with coughs, despite the fact that Sixty didn’t cough - “If you wish to speak about this more in private, just let me know. The two of you can go.”
Connor and Hank left quickly, leaving Sixty and Gavin to continue arguing with Jules From HR. Their impromptu decision to get married was getting more complicated by the second, between having to prove it to coworkers, Sixty’s developing feelings, and showing they could still work together. Connor was suddenly feeling much better about his plan to force Hank into adopting him the second Hank retired.
“I’m glad that’s over,” Connor said when they reached their desks. “I hate it when my friends are all fighting.”
“Well, I’m still mad, so jot that down.” Hank typed in his password with an unnecessary amount of pressure on the keys. “Dunno what the hell you see in Sixty, son. That guy’s an asshole.”
“He’s not that bad!” Connor said, quick to defend his brother. “He does his best. And he does care about me, and you. He just has a funny way of showing it.”
Hank looked up in disbelief and pointed at Connor’s shoulder, which had healed overnight as he expected. “Yeah, real funny. Now be quiet, I wanna eavesdrop on the asskicking he and Reed are gonna get.”
The previous day had been awful, and Connor was starting to doubt whether he’d feel better anytime soon. This wasn’t the feeling of pain and shock, but instead a constant sensation of disappointment and longing, and that was even worse. All he wanted was for Hank and Sixty, his family, to be happy, but they insisted on arguing with each other all the time. It was exhausting.
He connected to his terminal and found a case that he could distract himself with for a while. As long as he looked like he was working, he could spend as much time as he wanted trying to plan something that would make Hank happy for once.
Connor did not come up with a plan for how he could make Hank smile, and the tension between Hank and Sixty remained. Sixty spent the day bothering Gavin rather than Connor, looking a little upset after his conversation with Jules From HR, which was probably for the best considering Hank’s mood.
Sixty and Gavin referred to each other which increasingly strange pet names throughout the day, starting with “babe” and ending, at 2:56PM, with “snuggie woogums”, when Hank finally yelled at them to get a room.
“What room, the one I share with my brother?” Sixty replied immediately, before storming off to the breakroom. From that statement alone, Connor could already tell that the evening was going to be hell.
Some nights made him wish he’d frozen in the Garden. Nights where neither Hank nor Sixty would reply to his small talk and the television stayed off, where the silence felt suffocating. He knew that he needed to start the fight, or the tension would continue for days, his friends both far too stubborn and proud to make the first move.
He threw away Hank’s empty beer bottle, a habit he’d developed after Sixty had smashed one in a fit of rage. He took two deep breaths before he turned back to the living room. Another as he sat between the pair, in case he needed to pull them apart. “So, Sixty, what did Jules say after Hank and I left?”
Sixty shrugged. “Nothing much, I think she suspected that we’re just friends. It was the usual ‘don’t let this affect your work or we’ll have to transfer one of you’ thing.”
“Well, I wouldn’t miss either of ya,” Hank muttered, eyes on the blank television screen. If Connor and Sixty were human it likely would’ve been inaudible, but unfortunately it was clear as day to them, especially since the room was so quiet.
Sixty’s reaction was immediately. He leaned forward, his fists tightly gripping the fabric of the couch. “What’s your fucking problem?” he spat. “If you have something to say to me then say it.”
“Yeah, I got something to say, you ungrateful little shit!” Hank got to his feet and stood in front of Sixty, one finger prodding Sixty right over his thirium pump. “I let you into my home, after you tried to kill the two of us, and all you do is fuck with Connor’s stuff or talk shit to him. And then you got the nerve to complain about having to share a room? You live here for free, I could throw you out on the goddamn street if I wanted.”
Sixty pushed Hank backwards, just enough that he could stand up. Connor took that as a win - if Sixty really wanted, then Hank would be on the floor halfway across the room. “I’m an adult sharing a room, of course I get a little sick of it sometimes. But if a little sarcasm bothers you that much, then I’ll be gone in a few weeks.”
He was moving out? Connor’s stress levels rose 5% at the thought. “I don’t mind it, you can stay-” he said, but his voice came out barely above a whisper.
“What, you moving in with your fake husband?” Hank asked, shoving Sixty in retaliation. As if he could hurt Sixty if he tried.
“Moving in with someone who actually likes me,” Sixty said. His words made all three of them stand - or sit, in Connor’s case - a little straighter. Because that was it, wasn’t it? The reason Hank and Sixty fought so much, which none of them had the guts to talk about. Hank just didn’t like him. “That’s part of the reason Gavin and I are getting married in the first place. You think it’s just for fun? No, I need healthcare, or insurance, whatever, I need a better way to earn and save money, and he has a spare room, his landlord says I can be added to the lease once we’re married.”
“Fuckin’ great, maybe I won’t report you for trying to get around the citizenship stuff.”
Connor flinched. Would Hank actually do that, just to spite Sixty? He wasn’t sure exactly what the consequences were, but he couldn’t imagine they’d be good.
“Report us to who? The police?” Sixty laughed in disbelief. “We’re the goddamn police, and you’re the only one who cares.” He stepped around Hank into the open space of the entryway, and Connor recognised this tactic, getting closer to his escape route before saying something to end whatever argument was going on. “And for the record? I was forced to do those things. Consider yourself lucky that you will never understand what we went through, how it feels to have no autonomy, to know you’ll be killed for even thinking about disobeying. So fuck you for hating me over that, because you know what? Connor, your golden child or whatever? He’s no better than me. He killed people too.”
Faintly, Connor hears the door to his and Sixty’s bedroom slam, shortly followed by Hank. He feels removed from it all though, like he had at the station the day before. He’d never told Hank about the people he’d killed at Jericho and the Cyberlife Tower. It had just… never come up before. He’d needed to do it to survive, just as Sixty had needed to shoot Connor and destroy the other RK800s. The only difference is that Connor was already deviant.
Was Hank mad at him? Would Hank hate him too?
He grabbed a blanket out of the hallway closet and curled up on the couch, no longer eager to see either of his housemates, not when they were riled up like this, not just at each other but at him as well. He didn’t sleep, though. He tried, but each time he saw faceless bodies in pools of red and he jolted awake once more.
Over the course of the early morning, the guilt began to fade away. At 6:57AM, three minutes before Sixty’s internal alarm usually went off, Connor sent him an alert, high enough priority to rouse him from status. He attached a QR code to the alert, knowing it would open immediately. The code linked to a video of Rick Astley’s 1987 hit single Never Gonna Give You Up, and Connor mentally thanked Tina for telling him about the rickrolling phenomenon.
Sixty stormed out of their bedroom a second later. “You bastard,” he said with a glare. “What did I do to deserve the worst punishment on the squad prank list?”
“You know what you did,” Connor replied. “I forgive you.”
He always did.
Two weeks later Connor sat in Gavin’s living room, which was something he’d never expected to say. Sixty and Gavin had realised that they actually needed to plan a wedding, because they were both far too dramatic to just head down to the courthouse. Connor was present as Sixty’s best man, Tina was maid of honour, and Elijah Kamski was, in Gavin’s words, ‘the richest bastard alive, so he’s paying for this shit’. A strange mix of people to be planning a wedding, but such was life.
Tina had found a planning checklist from her own wedding and they were working their way through it. “Okay, we have a date and the wedding party, assuming that Fowler will be officiating and Sumo will be ring bearer, because you’d be absolutely stupid to do anything else. Do you even have rings?”
Gavin pulled small pieces of card from his pocket, each with a mood ring attached to it. Their popularity had surged after someone had the bright idea to make them out of similar technology to android LEDs. “Yep, that’s sorted. Sixty owes me twenty dollars.”
“I’m not paying you for my own wedding ring, dude, what the fuck?” Sixty protested. Sixty probably didn’t even have twenty dollars right now, knowing him. “I love that you got something tacky though, very on brand for us.”
“Thanks, I try. And before you ask, we also have suits, including bowties, and a guest list, so that’s two more things you can cross off the list,” Gavin continued, before grabbing Tina’s pen and ticking them off himself. “Us, the squad, Chloe, my gym crew, and the guys from Jericho. And Sumo.”
Ah, great. Connor didn’t just have to witness Elijah and Hank in the same room, but he also had to see Chloe again. That was bound to be fun. Plus, wasn’t Captain Allen part of Gavin’s gym crew? He was fairly certain Allen hadn’t seen an RK800 since, y’know, Fifty-One died in front of him.
Rather than voice any of that, since Sixty must already be aware of it all, Connor tried to find something useful to say. “Simon does photography, he may be willing to take photos or videos rather than come as just a guest.”
“Hire Simon…” Elijah added to his own to-do list, which also included ‘cake’ and ‘huge pizza order’. “Hey, where is this even taking place?”
The room was silent for three seconds, before Sixty hesitantly made a suggestion. “One of the larger meeting rooms at the precinct? It’s not like we can all have a day off and hold it anywhere else.”
Everyone nodded in agreement, and Tina ticked off another box. “Right, I’ll talk to Fowler about it. What’s left… decorations?”
“I know a couple of florists, we’re good there. Everything else we can just get Elijah to raid some party store the day before, I dunno,” Sixty said. Sixty befriending florists was news to Connor, although he supposed he had no idea what his brother got up to when he spent his evenings not at Hank’s house.
“Then congratulations, you’ve planned a wedding!” Tina said while clapping. “Can I go now? It’s date night, I want the Thai I was promised.”
Gavin laughed. “Go ahead, Teenie. Thanks for this.”
“Anything for you, idiot.” She packed her things into her handbag and stood. “See you all tomorrow! Well, most of you, anyway.”
There was a round of ‘goodbye’s and waves, and Elijah left soon after Tina did, leaving Connor alone to watch trashy television with his brother and - his future brother-in-law. Oh, that was a terrifying thought. He was going to be related to Gavin. Awful.
“Hey, maybe you should stay for the night, Six. A trial run before you move in,” Gavin suggested halfway through a rerun of Friends.
Sixty’s face flushed slightly, and his mouth opened and closed a few times as he tried to think of something to say. “Uh, maybe?” he settled on eventually. It was quiet and unsure, nothing like how Sixty usually spoke, and he glanced quickly at Gavin while biting his lip.
“I’ll let you two talk,” Connor said before making a strategic retreat to the bathroom. The apartment layout prevented him from being able to see Gavin and Sixty and gave them some privacy, but he left the door cracked so that he could hear the conversation. Just in case Sixty did anything stupid, he told himself.
“What’s got you all worried?” Gavin asked. Connor tried to construct the scene, and the most likely scenario showed Gavin’s arm around Sixty’s shoulders, pulling him into a side hug. “This isn’t like you.”
“You know I have a habit for stupid things,” Sixty said. There was a moment of silence before he continued, during which Connor decided to do some snooping around Gavin’s bathroom. Bathrooms always held important information about a person. “It’s worse when I’m tired, just ask Connor. I don’t wanna do anything that will hurt you.”
Connor pulled out some temporary hair dye while Gavin thought about how to respond. Bright green, and Connor immediately searched Gavin and Tina’s social media pages for any pictures of it in use. A Halloween party five years ago appeared, where Gavin’s costume involved green hair and clothes that were popular in the late 2010s. Dabin Weed, the description said, and Connor ran a search on that which brought up an old YouTube channel. Oh, this was glorious. Adolescent Gavin embarrassing himself on the internet? Connor had blackmail material for at least a year now.
“You won’t,” Gavin said softly, and Connor remembered that he was supposed to be paying attention to the conversation. “You’ve never hurt me before, have you? We’ve spent plenty of late, stressful nights together. And the other week was the first time you’ve hurt Connor, from what I’ve heard. It’ll be fine.”
“I don’t just mean physically, though,” Sixty replied, a hint of static creeping into his voice. “I upset people a lot. Hank’s always mad at me, I’ve made Connor cry before, like when I accidentally drowned his houseplant or broke one of his dog figurines. I don’t want to make you cry.”
There was a faint rustling, and Connor deduced that Gavin must be pulling Sixty even closer. “You won’t,” Gavin insisted. “I didn’t cry when you broke my favourite mug, did I? You’re not cruel. Just got some stuff going on in that pretty little head of yours that you’re working on.”
“You think I’m pretty?” Sixty said, because of course he would focus on that rather than the emotional stuff.
“It’s an expression, stop getting distracted.” Gavin’s voice sounded lighter than before, bringing the mood up a fraction. “Stay the night. I’m not worried.”
“Okay,” Sixty said, and Connor pushed the bathroom door open so that he could make a run for the door. Did they even remember that he was in the apartment and could hear the whole thing?
>Alert! New message.
>>31324831760: stay there i’m not done
Well, one of them was aware.
“It’s not just the nerves, though.” Sixty’s voice was no quieter than earlier, but his tone made it feel like a whisper. “I don’t… What do you want, Gavin? Because I’m not sure you want the same things I do.”
“You’re gonna have to rephrase that one, Sixty, or be more specific,” Gavin replied. “Right now I want some orange juice, and I know you don’t drink that.”
“I…” Sixty trailed off without finishing his sentence, and the silence continued for so long that Connor turned the sensitivity of his audio processors up. He heard faint kissing sounds, and for a moment he assumed he was just hearing the television, despite it being muted earlier in the conversation. It continued for another second before Sixty spoke again, and Connor hurried to turn his sensitivity back to normal. “That’s what I want.”
“I’m sorry, Sixty,” Gavin said. Connor’s thirium filtering system - ‘stomach, Connor, just say stomach’ - felt strange for a second, and he realised that must be the ‘drop’ humans talked about so often. None of his preconstructions ended well for Sixty. “You’re one of my best friends. That’s all.”
Connor wished he’d left the apartment rather than staying to eavesdrop. He was intruding on a very personal moment, and he would’ve preferred to hear it from Sixty the next day than like this.
“Yeah, I had a feeling,” Sixty responded, much calmer than Connor expected. “I think- you’re one of the first people to show me kindness, respect, things like that. A kid’s crush. It’ll fade.”
“I get it, I remember I had a crush on my roommate in college, he’d always buy me breakfast before exams. Then he got a girlfriend in junior year and I moved on pretty quickly after that.” Gavin laughed, and Sixty joined in a second later. “Just don’t keep kissing me and we’re all good.”
“Well, we have to kiss at the wedding, that’s the fun part,” Sixty joked. “Luckily, respecting your space seems to be one of the few things I can keep myself under control for. I just needed to know.”
>Alert! New message.
>>31324631760: alright you can go now dont have too much fun without me
Connor left the bathroom, closing the door louder than necessary to remind Gavin of his presence. “Have a nice night, guys, see you tomorrow,” he said with a nod and a wave. He felt oddly proud of how the conversation had ended, and he smiled as he walked from Gavin’s apartment down to the street. His little brother was finally growing up.
The ceremony itself was very sweet, considering how overly dramatic Sixty and Gavin were being about the whole thing. Connor supposed that when the groom’s next-of-kin was a multibillionaire you could afford to turn a precinct meeting room into an extravagant wedding location.
He almost teared up as he stood beside Sixty and listened to the vows. “Gavin, while we may not have gotten along when we first met, you’ve become one of my closest friends. You’ve been there for me while I try to figure out who I am, and you’ve helped me with my love of annoying the fuck out of Connor.” The crowd laughed at that, and Connor reached out and shoved Sixty forward slightly. Asshole. “Without you I’d probably be a much more civil member of society, but that’s no fun at all, and I can’t wait to cause mayhem with you as your husband.”
“Shit, how the hell do I follow that?” Gavin joked, his eyes looking as wet as Connor’s probably were. “You’re right, I sucked when we first got partnered up. I can’t believe you ever put up with me, because me learning how not to offend an android was way more frustrating than teaching you how to pick a favourite colour. But hey, now I’m not gonna die horribly alone, so it worked out in the end. You’re probably gonna outlive me by a century, but I look forward to watching your back in the field and hanging out with your stubborn ass for as long as I can.”
The rest of the ceremony was fairly standard. Connor managed not to lose the rings, neither of them said the wrong name at any point (a concern that had arisen during the Friends marathon), and they kept the kiss short and sweet. The crowd cheered, and the small group of patrol officers at the back of the room immediately asked about the free food they’d been promised, as expected.
After a sudden burst of chaotic inspiration, the grooms had decided to seat Elijah and Chloe among the Jericrew, as they’d become known. That was going terribly, with the five androids glaring at Elijah as he monologued about some technical thing that Connor couldn’t be bothered to try and understand. The dinner entertainment had to come from somewhere though, because Gavin’s wedding playlist was awful.
Connor himself had been sat amongst the detectives, and their friends who hadn’t been promoted just yet. Tina and Chris were having a debate about which fast food restaurant served the best breakfast, with Hank adding a comment here and there. Hank had tied his hair back and trimmed his beard, after days of nagging from Connor, which was one of the biggest surprises of the afternoon.
Sixty and Gavin had claimed a table just for themselves, leaving everyone else to crowd into places that were far too small, but no one really expected anything less from them. Gavin was eating his pizza with a knife and fork in order to appear classy and Sixty watched him with a dreamy look on his face. The crush hadn’t faded yet, but from what Connor had heard, Sixty had been very good at not acting on it.
Connor focused on them for a moment, since he didn’t have any opinions on the two conversations he could hear. Gavin poked Sixty with his fork as he chewed on his final mouthful. “Do you think we took it too far?” he asked, mouth full of food, because Gavin had never been one to care for manners.
The pair looked at each other for a second before doubling over with laughter. Gavin’s laugh was closer to a goose honk than a giggle, and Sixty’s was staticy, but Connor found himself enjoying the noise anyway. His friends- his brothers were genuinely happy, no longer just putting on a show, and that’s all that really mattered.