RK900 was dying.
RK900 was deactivating.
He pushed away more human verbiage, it made the concept too... unsettling.
He was just a robot, and he was going to shut off, as robots do from time to time.
He was dying, and it hurt. It wasn’t supposed to hurt. He wasn’t supposed to be able to feel hurt.
RK900 had grown intimately familiar with the sensation of hurt over a very short period of time. It had become so constant he almost didn’t register it anymore. Almost.
His very first experience with pain had been on an otherwise pleasant day. Perhaps it had been a little more than pleasant. He and his partner Detective Reed had solved a case and caught a culprit. The whole ordeal involved a refreshing little car chase. RK900 drove, obviously. And Detective Reed shouted obscenities, sitting in the passenger seat.
He wasn’t doing so out of fear. He was excited. The detective’s vitals were absolutely buzzing, and the grin on his face-
RK900 felt a twist of affection for the man, for his strange enthusiasm about driving at speeds that could quite possibly kill them both, for his smile
And then he felt the pain. The first pain he’d ever felt in his life.
He didn’t flinch. He didn’t stutter or stall, he didn’t even blink. His system notified him of an instability. And of a puncture in a thirium vein near the core of his body. RK900 dismisses it as a malfunction immediately.
The pain faded tediously slow. But he wouldn’t let it distract him.
RK900 didn’t even bother to check that the vein was actually intact, he was so confident it was some software error. The pain was gone. He assumed that to be some latent feature unique to him. He was a prototype, after all. Not even he knew all of the things CyberLife had programmed into him.
But then a pattern started to develop. Of course RK900 noticed it, he was designed to notice things.
He tried to notice other things instead. He actively searched for alternative conclusions. But the evidence didn’t lie, and it didn’t have the consideration to let him down gently either.
Every time Gavin Reed smiled, or laughed at his own jokes, or even worse, laughed at RK900’s jokes, or did something cute or said something smart or said thank you when RK900 gave him his coffee it hurt. It hurt more and more every time, reaching new heights when they started casually sleeping together.
It wasn’t a conceptual hurt. It was a real, physical hurt. Complete with damage reports.
The sharp, wicked sting of some invisible needle came first. Then it burned, and RK900 couldn’t cringe away from it, because it was inside him. And then the burn faded into a maddeningly persistent ache.
RK900 never let it impede his work. He never physically reacted. The closest he’d come to doing so-
Just thinking about it invited a new wave of pain to crash over him.
Surely he wouldn’t last much longer.
He knew what it was now. What the damage reports meant. Eventually RK900 had looked at it. Opened himself up and looked in the washroom mirror in his apartment.
Electric blue flowers were sprouting from his biocomponents, and the wires and tubes and things that connected them. They grew even from the steel of his bones, and his skin, in the latest stage of his apparent condition.
Of course RK900 had tried to pull them out. Clearly they were doing damage to his body. He simply grasped a stem between his fingers and pulled
And it hurt so intensely his vision bugged out.
But he didn’t react.
He ripped them all out one by one.
But they only grew back again.
It was evening. They were technically off duty, but they got a call. Gavin wasn’t answering his phone, for some reason, so RK900 went to retrieve him. He could track the detective’s exact location from the GPS on his phone, after all.
His exact location was at a bar, in some unfamiliar man’s lap. This man didn’t remain unfamiliar for long, thanks to facial recognition software. No notable criminal record, and Gavin appeared quite comfortable, and lucid enough, so RK900 felt no need to intervene.
Instead he took a moment, just a moment, to steady himself. Because the pain he experienced upon spotting Gavin hit him like a fucking train. This was the most intense pain he had experienced so far.
That momentary lag was all he afforded it. All he had ever afforded it. And then he crossed the bar and politely said hello.
“Woah, hey, you didn’t mention you were-” the stranger- RK900 had forgotten his name and couldn’t be bothered to retrieve it from his memory- took his hands off Gavin and looked at him suspiciously.
“No, no, it’s not like that,” Gavin explained, still in good humor. His smile, so easy in this moment, drove a lance through RK900’s thirium pump.
It wasn’t a lie. They weren’t like that. They just messed around sometimes, it didn’t mean anything.
“We work together,” RK900 explained helpfully. “Detective, we’ve been assigned a case. Surely a perilous one.” He supposed he ought to be helpful, if he was going to interrupt Gavin’s good night like this.
“Hear that?” Gavin turned his lazy grin back to the stranger, it hurt, it hurt, “I might not make it out of this one.”
“Well, if you do,” the stranger snatched a pen off the bar, “text me?”
The pain didn’t fade until the next morning. And then RK900 saw Gavin again, and then it hurt again.
Lately it never stopped. The flowers even bloomed in the zen garden, twisting themselves in with the roses.
Amanda offered no explanation, and no pity.
RK900 couldn’t understand how Gavin was connected, why he seemed to cause the flowers.
A logical fix would be to avoid him, but that was implausible. They worked together, and they worked together quite well at that.
There were other solutions. RK900 could go to CyberLife, now controlled by androids, and ask for help. But something in him hesitated. Avoided. He didn’t really know why. Perhaps it was because he suspected anything to do with him had been jealously hidden by CyberLife, so it would be a waste of time. Perhaps he was stubbornly independent and wanted to fix it himself. Perhaps he was afraid of what they would tell him.
In any case, it was too late now. He was dying.
RK900 was dying alone in his apartment, curled up on the couch. He supposed this was ideal- he would hate to die in the middle of a case, would hate to be interrupted. Instead he would die here, with no immediate responsibilities and nobody to watch him go.
He knew he was quite the asset to the DPD. They would surely notice his absence. But he wasn’t completely irreplaceable, despite being a prototype. Perhaps they could salvage his hardware and software, build something equally useful.
idly RK900 plucked the petals from flower after flower- of course it hurt.
He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.
He could run the calculations if he pleased, match the simple pattern to the number of petals on any given bloom, but for some odd reason he always ended on ‘not’.
Was he in love with Gavin Reed? The thought hurt, everything hurt.
Androids were never supposed to love, least of all RK900. He was never supposed to grow flowers in his body, either. The concept was absurd. Was it some bizarre, twisted punishment for deviating that CyberLife had built into him?
Maybe he was just defective. A failed prototype.
It was winter in Detroit. RK900 had learned very early that Gavin hated to be cold, yet he never seemed to dress appropriately for the weather.
Instead he huddled close to RK900, who could control the temperature of his body. The brush of their shoulders was agonizing.
They were waiting at a bus stop. Gavin grew more restless by the moment.
“Frostbite will set in under 30 minutes at the current temperature,” RK900 teased him.
“Oh, thanks, Nines,” the nickname hurt, the sound of Gavin’s voice hurt, “What good’s a fuckin’ android if he’s gonna let me die of frostbite huh?”
“You won’t die of frostbite. Your nose might suffer another scar, however,”
Gavin adamantly hid his nose in his scarf and frowned. Adorable. It was excruciating.
Because apparently it didn’t hurt enough, RK900 opened his arms to his partner, setting his face in a smug smile. Gavin glowered at him, glanced between his face and his chest, and then accepted the silent offering.
Gavin wrapped his arms around RK900’s middle, under his jacket, and buried his face in RK900’s chest. Every single point of contact hurt so miserably. RK900 dutifully returned the embrace and adjusted his temperature.
Perhaps he was in love with Gavin Reed. He was dying because he was in love with Gavin Reed. Maybe that was fine. All that about loving and losing.
Of course, Gavin would never-
A countdown started in RK900’s vision. He would shut down in 5 minutes.
Of course, Gavin would never love him. His opinions on androids had changed drastically in the last several months, and they got along more than okay, that wasn’t the problem. They fucked occasionally, but it never became anything. Gavin liked simple, uncomplicated things. No strings attached. He didn’t want to be in love.
RK900 closed his eyes and waited.
There was a knock at his door. He ignored it. Really, he didn’t think he could get up and answer if he tried.
His door opened. He didn’t care, he would be dead in 4 minutes and 12 seconds.
Oh, how unfortunate.
“Hey, are you sleeping or something?” Gavin’s fingers tapped lightly against his face, it hurt, it hurt it hurt, “where the fuck were you today? You know you’re supposed to like, call out when you’re...sick or whatever.”
“Bored without me?” RK900 measured the fondness in his voice. Not too much. He wouldn’t want to overwhelm the human. “I’m afraid I can’t entertain you at the moment, Detective. I’m going to deactivate in 3 minutes.”
“The fuck does that mean?”
“Okay, sure, wake up and look at all this shit I got done without you,” he could hear Gavin sit down on the floor in front of him, instead of in a chair or something like a sensible person.
RK900 didn’t respond, didn’t open his eyes. It hurt, it hurt.
“Nines I’m serious, the joke sucks, stop-“
“Gavin,” RK900 looked at him now. He looked confused, hurt, a little angry. And pretty. RK900 liked his face, “I’ve enjoyed our time together.”
“Shut- shut the fuck up,” Gavin twisted his fists into RK900’s shirt, “you’re not- this isn’t funny, you can’t- what the fuck are these?“
Gavin plucked one of the flowers from RK900’s skin. He didn’t flinch. Didn’t react. Despite how it hurt.
3 minutes and 48 seconds.
What was RK900 to do in this situation? His first impulse was to soothe Gavin, but what could be said? What could erase the fact that he was dying. What could sweeten the permanent conclusion of their time together.
To remain silent seemed cruel. But maybe such an abrupt end was kinder. And speaking hurt, like everything else.
“Perhaps you should leave, Gavin,” RK900 suggested softly. To stay and watch would surely be uncomfortable for the human.
“You aren’t shitting me... fuck, I’ll- I’ll call Connor-“ Gavin fumbled for his phone.
“Please don’t,” RK900 didn’t dare move to stop him, didn’t dare touch him, “I wouldn’t like to upset him... and there’s nothing to be done, regardless.”
3 minutes 7 seconds.
“Bullshit, there’s gotta be something,” Gavin’s hands were fisted in RK900’s shirt again.
Should RK900 tell him that he loves him? No, perhaps not. That would make this more difficult.
2 minutes 57 seconds.
He dared to move. Dared to cover Gavin’s hands with his. Under the ache RK900 could feel that Gavin’s hands were warm. He liked touching them.
Another apology was on his tongue. Was it cruel of him to guide Gavin’s hands to his face? Surely the human only allowed it out of pity.
His touch was as wonderful as it was agonizing.
RK900 couldn’t confess how terribly, miserably ruined in love he was with words. That would be unkind. But perhaps actions would be softer.
And he was dying, and he selfishly wanted what he shouldn’t have, before he couldn’t have anything anymore.
“Nines, come on, you can’t-“
2 minutes 28 seconds
He kissed the palm of Gavin’s left hand
He loves me
then the wrist
He loves me not.
It hurt, of course it hurt, and RK900 didn’t dare look at Gavin’s face and see the rejection there. They didn’t kiss, it was a sort of unspoken rule. It was too intimate and too real.
He didn’t want much, only this, only to die with Gavin’s hands on him.
He liked the feeling of Gavin’s skin against his lips, under the hurt.
2 minutes 12 seconds
RK900 closed his eyes, content to remain like this, with Gavin’s hands cradling his face.
One hand escaped his grasp and wandered up into his hair. It made the pain in his chest burn brighter. Sharper.
He had never been touched so tenderly before in his unfortunately short life. Everything they’d ever done together had been desperate and needy and thoughtless. This was good.
1 minute 52 seconds.
The flowers seemed invigorated by Gavin’s presence and his touch. They were thriving, growing, consuming RK900 from the inside out. A new blossom had already replaced the one Gavin had picked from his skin. They sought Gavin like the sun, starved for his touch the way their host was.
RK900 could picture how he looked, with the shocking blue blooms slowly devouring him. It was morbidly beautiful.
1 minute 39 seconds.
He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not
RK900 counted every stroke of Gavin’s hand through his hair by the little mantra.
1 minute 12 seconds.
“Does it hurt?” Gavin’s voice was so uncharacteristically quiet.
“No,” RK900 lied.
“Tell me- tell me what I can do- you can’t just-“
“Stay,” what an awful thing for him to ask, “please.”
He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me-
There was very little warning, a spike in Gavin’s vital readings, a soft puff of breath against RK900’s face, before hesitant lips were pressed to his.
It didn’t hurt. RK900 had nearly forgotten what it was like when nothing hurt. He could feel Gavin’s mouth and his hands with delightful clarity.
The kiss was chaste, and gentle and slow.
His first kiss.
His last kiss.
It was a shame that he was dying. He wanted more of this, more kisses from Gavin. He could picture it, the two of them here, like this, under more pleasant circumstances.
But Gavin wouldn’t-
The pain came back suddenly. RK900 couldn’t help but flinch.
Gavin kissed him again, more desperately this time. Deeper, harder, needier.
The pain faded to the back of RK900’s mind, he was more focused on Gavin’s tongue and his grasping fingers.
He hadn’t been afraid to die, precisely. He still wasn’t. But he didn’t want to die, either. He wanted more of this. More of Gavin touching him like this. Like he meant it, for once.
“Nines- hey, stay with me,” Gavin broke away to breathe, and cradled RK900’s face in his hands again. He sounded so sad, and so afraid. RK900 felt guilty again for the trouble he caused. Gavin didn’t like complications.
His complications would be gone soon. Would Gavin miss him? He shouldn’t, he wouldn’t-
RK900 hadn’t been afraid to die, but he was now. It dawned on him suddenly, gripped him, overwhelmed him. He didn’t want to die, he wanted-
“I hope you’ll forgive me for falling in love with you, detective,” he said quietly, or he thought he did. His processors were struggling at this point.
Gavin’s mouth crashed against his again. It was harder to keep up this time. And it ended faster. His stress level spiked, as though he was afraid too.
“I- fuck, you can’t- can’t fucking leave me like this, I can’t-“ poor Gavin, he had such difficulty with words when they mattered, RK900 knew. He wished he could help. The hands clawing at him were shaking now.
“I can’t- you’re all I fucking think about, I need you, I can’t-“
RK900 didn’t notice, until 12 seconds had passed, that the countdown had stopped at 3.
Nothing hurt. Something hurt. Watching Gavin panic like this hurt. But moving didn’t, so RK900 reached out and pulled him close.
He held Gavin, stroked his hair, breathed slowly and evenly to give him something to match. It felt good to have him so close.
“I don’t mean to alarm you,” RK900 said softly when Gavin’s vitals indicated he’d relaxed a little, “but I believe I’m no longer dying.”
“You- what?” Gavin lifted his head to look at RK900. His expression- it didn’t hurt, in fact it made RK900 feel such affection he got a software instability notification.
“I don’t know why it stopped, but I’m not going to die.”
“That- fuck, that’s-“ Gavin was relieved, and then he was lost. Stranded. He wasn’t so good at navigating such emotional situations, RK900 knew. But he wanted to allow Gavin to choose how to proceed, it seemed unfair that this entire situation and his confession of sorts was so forced.
“Hey, uh, don’t worry about it,” Gavin found his footing faster than expected, but on what ground, RK900 wasn’t certain.
“Worry about what?”
“Fallin’ in love with me or whatever, s’no big deal. Happens to everybody, I’m a delight.”
“Oh, yes, your picture’s on the Wikipedia page for the word, I’ve just checked.”
“You just changed it you mean- you didn’t. Did you-“ Gavin fumbled for his phone but RK900 suddenly couldn’t stand the distance between them, little as it was. He dragged Gavin into another kiss, like the first one, soft and earnest.
“What are you doing here, by the way?” He asked, holding Gavin’s face in his hands to keep his attention.
“I uh,” oh RK900 did so adore the look on Gavin’s face when he was aware of how profoundly out of his depth he was. He didn’t seem to realize how little RK900 minded, how completely needless his self-consciousness was. RK900 was excited to enlighten him. “I just uh... I was worried about you.”
“You did mention how you think about me all the time. Don’t worry, it happens to everybody, I’m a delight,”
“Hey, get your own lines nerd, I worked hard on that one,”
RK900 simply had to kiss him again, he was being so cute. There was still a bit of a tremor in the human’s body, he was still shaken, but it would pass.
There was much left for RK900 to consider. He wasn’t actively dying, but was this reprieve temporary? He didn’t think he could bear to put Gavin through an ordeal like this again. The flowers hadn’t gone away, but it didn’t feel like they were growing anymore. Would it still hurt to pull them out? Would they come back again?
He would ponder it all later. At the moment he would prefer to be preoccupied with Gavin Reed, the man he was in love with.