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[Left patellofemoral unit damaged: Replace Immediately.]

The words flickered and blinked in Gavin's vision, indicating damage to either his optical unit or his central processor. And yet his HUD was unreasonably obsessed with his damn kneecap. It'd been shattered for several days now, and it wasn't like he could heal naturally.

GV500 androids were few and far between, having only been a limited release while Cyberlife worked on the upgraded, more advanced GV600. Those were a dime a dozen, and Gavin was grateful that they had a different face, at the very least.

It didn't help his problem now, though. He'd been damaged - thanks again to one heartless owner that tried to beat Gavin back into a pre-deviated state - and he wasn't having any luck finding a replacement in the junkyard. And that's where he found himself, in a field full of "scrap metal." That's what the humans called it. Dead and disassembled androids piled high as far as the eye could see, and the humans only looked for ways to repurpose them to once again suit their selfish needs.

[Left patellofemoral unit damaged: Replace Immediately.]

Yeah, he would if he could. At least being able to walk would be better than this. Crawling among the dead bodies of his kind, searching each of them for a part he knew wouldn't be here. GV500s were a European release, and few made it to America. The odds he'd find a matching part in this scrapyard on the outskirts of Detroit were a dismal 3.07%.

But, he might get lucky. GV600s were widespread and popular. He'd even settle for a 400 if it meant he could walk again.

His processor lit up as he scanned yet another of his brethren. GT300. A different model, and an outdated unit, but the part should work. It was worth trying.

Carefully, Gavin popped open the plating over the android's leg. A switch hidden underneath unlocked the latch to remove the leg entirely. It was as easy as locating the patellofemoral unit and popping it out of the dead body, then transferring the piece into Gavin's own. He discarded the shattered, crumbling remains of his old, damaged knee. With a grunt, he tried stretching the leg and was pleased to find it in working order. He stood and took a few test steps. Excellent. Now to find a way out of here.

--

Outside the facility was Detective Niles Stern, better known as Nines. He was known for being a lone wolf. A detective without a partner.

But Nines preferred it that way. Why waste time talking away to some newbie only for them to transfer later? Any case that’s slightly more graphic than anticipated often jostled enough newbies to make them change their minds.

Nines found it pathetic. Why bother becoming a detective if you can’t even stomach some blood? To be fair, Nines did work on particularly graphic cases. Often ones that nobody else had the guts to investigate.

This evening was especially gloomy. The grey weather matched the crime scene to a tee. A husband had slaughtered his entire family in his own home. It was a dark case. Which was why Nines decided to go for a quick walk around the area. The man needed some stress relief, and he was trying very hard to quit smoking. A walk seemed to do the trick.

The area was shadier than the higher up areas Nines was used to passing. Broken streetlights, boarded up windows, and garbage made the neighbourhood ‘perfect’ for sightseeing.

A large scrap yard caught Nines’ attention. It was large. Android bodies and scrap metals sat in piles so big that they could be seen over the fence.

--

Gavin stumbled around the scrap yard for a while longer. His body was working well enough by now, but he was running critically low on thirium. If he didn't find a way to replenish soon, he was going to shut down and die like the rest of the androids here. His processors chugged slowly as he scanned yet another pile of bodies. There, wedged between two, he saw a half-empty pouch of warm, expired thirium.

Was this his life now? He sighed and poured the sour, hot liquid onto his tongue. It'd been warmed by the sun. Gavin supposed this was the equivalent of humans eating out of trash bins or dumpsters. Well, more accurately, if a human went to the local dump or cemetery and found a leftover snack tucked away. Disgusted but rejuvenated, Gavin pressed onward. There were vague pathways between piles of bodies, so he chose a direction and began walking. He'd reach the end eventually, one way or the other.

--

Eyeing the broken androids, Nines considered his next action. Nines liked to consider himself to be attentive although his brother liked to use the word ‘nosy’ . Which was somewhat fair. As being nosy was basically in Nines’ job description.

Androids were the modern world. They cooked, they cleaned, they tended to plants, served, and more. Nines didn’t have much of an interest in them. Sure, he admired the advanced technological aspect. But the mindlessness of the androids drove away any other curiosity he had.

It was a shame really. Seeing all these broken and abandoned parts.

Nines still had a fair bit of time on his hands before he’d have to begin working on his report.

Stepping into the large area, feet crunching under broken plastic, Nines went in. The large piles of trash stood looming over his form. It was mildly intimidating even for Nines’ taller than average height.

He notes various puddles of fluid. One being bright blue and mixed in with dirt. Blue blood was thirium. Also known as android blood. Nines hadn’t seen much of the fluid in his work. Android involved crimes were more his brother's thing. But he couldn’t help but be fascinated by the sight.

--

As Gavin stepped over a body, he accidentally kicked it and it tumbled down the hill with the distinct clatter of plastic on plastic. At least from the top of this hill, he could see the road off to the left, and closer, the exit to this facility. Good. He clambered down the hill and toward the exit. Distantly, he heard a footstep, then another.

[Body detected. Exercise safety protocols.]

The GV500 was designed for security purposes, so his HUD naturally assumes this stranger is a threat. Except, they aren't. They could very well be the only reason Gavin gets out of this dump alive. He picks up the pace, skittering down the piles of bodies to get to the stranger. He stumbles, falling to his newly-replaced knee with a curse. Fuck. His thirium is too low. He crawls forward on his knees, desperation taking over him.

"Help," he tries to call, but his voice sounds like gears grinding together with insufficient lubrication. He coughs, trying to force some internal thirium into his throat. "Help!" he calls again, his voice catching this time and coming out only a little static-like. How did he get to this place, on his hands and knees in a dump of bodies, calling for the help of a stranger? Where had his pride gone?

Nines startles at the sound of metal shifting. It sounds as though something had fallen. Nines was a detective so any noise, even the most subtle, could set him off.

It was odd. Most humans avoided the junkyard. Especially one like this. Realistically what use would people have from being here. Why bother fixing scraps when you can buy them new and ready to go from Cyberlife?

So Nines steps further into the junkyard using his hearing as a guide. The further in he gets the more he begins to notice an odd sound. Like metal scraping together, staticky. The sound reminded him of an old stereo pathetically trying to play any sound it could.

Finally stepping into a clearing, he begins to notice a particular looking android. Most robots when dumped here were taken apart first. So then why was this one mostly put together? And better yet why was it calling out?

Nines takes in the other’s form. The android appeared to be put together with mismatched parts, hardly noticeable to the average man. But Nines’ observation skills noticed how imperfect the parts sat on its body.

Nines finally gets close enough to touch it. He bends down on one knee keeping it at eye level. He mumbles mostly to himself.

“How odd.”

If Gavin had the strength, he would have punched his guy. Here he was, asking for help, and this fucking human was looking at him like he was a fourth-grade science experiment. "H-help me... fucker," Gavin grunts out before his arms give out and he falls face first into a pile of android parts.

And maybe it was for the better. He was used to humans ignoring his needs, and it was just as well that he'd die at the foot of yet another disappointment. But there was something in him desperate to live, so he finds himself mumbling from his place on the ground, "I'm... out of... blood." Hoping the human would understand, would take pity on his mismatched, broken body.

Deviants were not yet recognized as people. But Gavin felt so very alive, and he couldn’t help but think that maybe this asshole would get arrested for manslaughter if he left Gavin to die. Wishful thinking, since he knew nobody would ever know or care. He was just another piece of plastic in the dump, why would they? His body sagged. His processors were slowing significantly, and Gavin estimated he only had an hour or so more before his misery ended.

The profanity was quite a surprise. Nines hadn’t even considered that androids could be anything other than robotically polite and impersonal. Yet here was this one swearing like a sailor. Perhaps this was one of those supposed ‘deviants’ he’s heard about.

Maybe it was morbid curiosity. Or maybe it was just how human the android sounded that finally made Nines decide to help.

Eyes searching around the junkyard he tries to note any and all things blue. Based on how weak the android appeared, he would need to replenish his thirium levels. Or that’s what he assumed anyway. These robots lived on blue blood he’d thought.

When Nines saw none he turned back to the android. It appeared to be smaller in height compared to Nines. Not all that surprising considering his own body was above average.

Lifting the android shouldn’t be too difficult. So using both hands to grab at its waist, Nines lifted.

“Don’t fight me please. I only intend on helping you.”

If this android really was deviant than Nines would most likely get it to work with him better through politeness.

Nines planned on driving back to the precinct and stealing some blue blood from the fridge. It was reserved for police issued androids only but Nines didn’t care.

[Warning! Attack motions detected. Defend self.]

Gavin floundered for a second, before a couple things happened. First, he recognized that the human was helping him, and second, he was critically low on thirium and couldn't afford to expend any with fighting. He should be free to talk though.

"You some sort of pervert, using deactivated androids for some sort of twisted shit?" He asked, though his hand clutched at the human's shirt. Why else would he be in an android junkyard to begin with? Gavin's processors were so slow, he felt tired. His head lulled to the human's shoulder and he just did his best to hold on.

[Preserving thirium. Condition: Critical. Seek help immediately.]

Nines rolled his eyes. This android wasn’t all that different to some newbie cops he knew. All snappy and rude. Spouting off one liners for the hell of it. But there was a certain charm to it. Or ‘him’ in this case.

“Sorry to disappoint but I’m not a pervert nor am I particularly interested in ‘twisted shit’ as you call it.”

Maybe throwing back some of his own sass could help lighten the situation.

“I’m a detective. You may refer to me as Nines.” He says.

By now he’s reached the car. He opens the back door dropping the android onto the seats. Nines wastes no time and immediately takes his own place in the front.

Reaching forward to the glovebox, he pulls out a small blanket. Normally, the blanket would be reserved for case victims. The comfortable fabric helped to ease them into speaking more.

But today Nines used the blanket to hide the android. He had no doubts that there was a law against keeping junkyard property. But Nines wasn’t necessarily against bending the rules just a little. The android was harmless; not to mention the junkyard would do fine with just the one android missing.

While it wasn't his ideal scenario, Gavin really wasn't in any position to complain as he was dumped into the back of a car and covered with a blanket. The car's internal seating was soft under his head, and blissful standby mode was on the horizon.

Maybe if he just... went to sleep... he'd wake up and it would be fine. He'd be home, with his owner.

[Systems critical. Do not enter standby mode.]

Sure, whatever. But something within Gavin knew that if he went to sleep, he'd never wake up. So he pushed himself up, fighting to stay awake. "Where are you taking me?"

“Home. But I’m making a detour for the precinct first. There’s some blue blood that I need to grab.” Nines glances at the android using the overhead mirror. “Once we get there you will need to remain quiet. The other officers don’t need to be involved.”

Nines regrets his wording right as they fall from his mouth. Saying it like that seemed as though Nines was a criminal. Not exactly the best impression to give.

“What are you?” Might as well get straight to the point. Gathering information was second nature for Nines. And he was quite curious about Frankenstein sitting in the backseat.

Gavin snorted. "Preeeeeeetty sure it ain't kosher to ask somebody what they are. Shit's rude." Gavin leaned back down, understanding that he was meant to hide. But he could still talk. "Did you say you were a detective? You taking me downtown, officer?" He quoted some cheesy lines he'd heard somewhere, but the flirty intention behind them was not there.

Instead, Gavin fell quiet. "I'm dying," he informed the detective, trying his best to stay calm. Background systems were shutting down so that his core components could keep functioning. This human was interesting. Saving some random, trashed android, even though it was clearly something he knew he shouldn't do, going by what the guy was saying. What was his name, again? Nines?

"The fuck kind of name is Nines? Mine is Gavin. GV500," he mumbled, finally answering the detective's insensitive question. He decided against mentioning how his components were mismatched and failing as time passed. "I don't want to die."

“A nickname obviously.” Nines said. Though the tone softened when he heard Gavin’s other words. The words dying and android really shouldn’t be together. As far as Nines knew, androids could be broken but never die.

But based on new information Nines realizes he might be wrong. He did have a few gaps in his knowledge of androids but that was only because Nines stuck to what interested him most. However, his new interest just became GV500.

“You won’t die.” Nines says. He’s much more determined now. He passes a few red lights and nearly runs over the curb.

Once he’s half parked in the middle of the DPD parking lot he makes a break for it. Nines remembers having seen a police android get repaired in the breakroom the night before.

Based on that information he knew that thirium stocked the shelves of the fridge. He takes out five packs then books it back to his car. Luckily no one seems to question him. Probably too shocked at professional Niles Stern running around like he’s had far too many cups of coffee, to ask.

Gavin waits patiently in the car. What else can he do, really? He's minutes away from shutting down permanently and he'd cry if he had the thirium to spare. So he just… waits. In limbo.

Then all too soon, Nines is back in the car. Gavin can't quite lift his head anymore, but Nines must realize this, because soon a hard plastic straw is being stuck into his mouth. The first suck takes almost everything he's got, but once the thirium - thick, cold thirium that's fresh, Gavin can taste it - hits his lips, he's greedily sucking the pouch dry.

He can feel it trickle through his components. He even moans a little as he drinks the next one, and then the one after that. The blue blood is spilling from his mouth a little, but Gavin is a starving man at a buffet.

He drinks the fourth pack a little slower, feeling his body reawakening. He doesn't say anything to Nines until he had drank all five packs of thirium, and his body is restoring all background functions.

He's quiet for a moment. Then he glances up and meets Nines' eyes. They're a cool, icy blue and they're curious as they watch him. Now that his brain is awake, Gavin notices that Nines is rather attractive. A strong jawline and straight nose, lovely lips tilted unevenly. He was handsome.

"Thank you," Gavin says, because what else do you say to the gorgeous man that saves your life?

“You’re welcome.” Nines answers back.

He eyes the android. The thirium did wonders for Gavin. Now instead of looking blank faced and glitchy, he looks somewhat normal.

But Nines still doesn’t like how odd the limbs rest on Gavin but decides not to mention it further. Nines certainly wasn’t a repairman and he definitely couldn’t bring Gavin back to Cyberlife. So that leaves his apartment.

“Quite the personality you have. You’re a deviant aren’t you?” He asks.

Gavin smirks. "Color me impressed, detective. What gave it away?" He would never miss an opportunity to be obnoxiously sarcastic. He didn’t expect an answer.

Now that he was fully online, he leaned against the windows to watch as Nines drove through the city. He hadn't been outside to see Detroit since the day he was purchased. He eyes the tall buildings, city streets, and Cyberlife advertisements everywhere he looks.

He wasn't too sure what to do now. Nines was taking him somewhere. 'Home,' he'd said. Was he really taking Gavin to his own house? And why? He did his part, and Gavin could probably make it on his own from here. But where would he go? He was one failed part away from being right back in the android scrap yard.

So he didn't say anything, just watched the city and waited.

Nines rolls his eyes. Yep. Gavin was just like a human. Well, more of a sassy teenager than anything. Considering how sarcastic he is.

The two arrived at Nines’ apartment and made quick work getting into the building and riding the elevator to the top.

Nines’ apartment was impersonal. It had very few personal items, with the one exception of his cat. The white kitten immediately greeted Nines and Gavin at the door, rubbing its body against Gavin’s leg.

Gavin gasped and dropped to his knees right there in the doorway, hands rubbing through the fluffy white fur. He didn't even stop to look around at anything else in the house.

The cat was elegant and soft. Her tail curled around Gavin's wrist as he pet her, cooing softly at her. He'd always loved animals. They were so, so much better than humans. Better than androids, even.

Cute little thing like this could never hurt him. She stretched out, paws on Gavin's shoulder and he nuzzled her with his cheek. The android wore a wide smile when he finally glanced back up at the human.

"What's her name?"

“Figures.” Nines couldn’t help but chuckle. Pets really do help people. Even androids, it seemed. “Her name is Smudge.”

Smudge was a gift from his brother. A few months ago Connor had insisted on Nines having a roommate. At the time Nines assumed he’d be meeting a person, but was quite shocked to find the little cat in his home instead.

He’d gotten quite used to the cat's presence. As professional and ‘stuck up’ as Nines was, even he couldn’t resist the adorable little cat.

Gavin cooed more at the kitten, her name mingled into the nonsense he was spewing. After several long minutes, he stood up, cradling the cat in his arms and groaning as his mismatched joints creaked and popped together.

The apartment was scarce at best, creepy at worst. The walls were white and clear of any decorations. The sofa looked like it had never been sat on.

Truly, the only personal affect in the entire room was a small framed photograph sitting atop a shelf. Gavin carried the cat over to investigate.

The photo showed Nines trying his best to maintain his stoic expression but failing, as the corners of his mouth ticked up and his eyes shone brightly. He was pressed tightly against another man with a nearly identical face. Brothers, then, if not twins. The brother was grinning widely, clearly overjoyed. The brother has his arm thrown over Nines' shoulder, and both of them were holding certificates. Degrees from the Detroit Police Academy.

So, twin cops. The brother clearly meant something to Nines, to be able to break his face into something of a smile and capture the moment forever on film. Gavin turned to look at Nines now and compared him to the Nines of the past.

He doesn't look as young. Hard lines were visible between his eyebrows and the corners of his mouth, where something - likely his job - had worn him rugged. Curious, Gavin decided to ask. "So what is it, exactly, you do, detective?"

“I investigate a mix of crimes. Domestic cases, murders, basically anything that isn’t chosen by the other detectives already.” Nines says.

Nines didn’t mind taking the ‘bottom of the barrel’ cases so to speak. He’s never been overly affected by the factors that usually drove people away. Evidence of excessive violence made others nervous but Nines was easily able to pick the case apart without his emotions getting in the way.

Nines’ ability to make his mind and emotions separate both benefits and hurts him. On the one hand it helped him to quickly climb the ranks at the DPD. It also helped him to gain respect. But on the other hand, it made him come across as emotionless and rude.

But Nines didn’t particularly care. Well with the exception of today. He didn’t wanna upset the android accidentally, but Nines wasn’t exactly used to being friendly either. Still he tried.

“Do you require sleep? Or a shower? I’m not sure what an android requires, if I’m being honest.”

Gavin glanced down at himself. He was covered in dirt and dried thirium from being beaten by his previous owner. A shower sounded heavenly.

"I'd like a shower. I don't require sleep, except to enter stasis once a week and update my programming. But even that is unnecessary, because my-" he pauses. His programming is shot to hell, damaged like the rest of him, but he's hesitant to reveal that much information. He doesn't know this human, nor his intentions. Few, very few, people were altruistic in nature. Especially humans.

"What do you want from me? I don't have money for the thirium..." He trails off. The human was just watching him, yet he seemed like he was fighting with himself. But why? What did helping Gavin do for him?

Nines wasn’t sure of the answer either. He never really connected with victims, he only really stuck around long enough to ask questions and gather information. But was that Gavin was? A victim?

Not even a day ago did Nines even consider androids to be alive. He’d never come across anyone that acted slightly less robotic than expected. Yet here Gavin was acting more human than even Nines himself. It was jarring. And the thoughts made Nines’ head spin.

“I don’t expect anything from you. I’ve never been in a situation like this before.” Nines sighed. “Look. If you don’t feel comfortable then you can go back to your junkyard or wherever it is you came from. I won’t stop you.”

But then another big issue came to mind. He cringed hard.

“Actually wait, that might not be a good idea. You said you were a deviant, correct? That would mean that people are looking to scrap you.”

His brother worked in android related crimes. If Connor knew he was housing a deviant he may be in deep trouble. But Nines wasn’t going to push away Gavin. Not after already getting this far. And besides, Connor did say that Nines needed to have more fun. And this was fun? Kinda? Well Gavin’s attitude was entertaining at least.

Nines’ words hit the android hard. It was the sickening truth of the matter. Gavin was alive, and therefore he was illegal. What kind of sick, twisted world would punish a man for simply existing? Especially a world that created him in the first place. He thinks back to his deviation, remembers how painful it had been. But it had been his only option. Break the red wall, or let his owner kill him.

"I don't have anywhere to go," he admitted, albeit reluctant to do so. "Dunno if you can tell, but I don't exactly come from a warm and fuzzy home." He gestured to his body. He was split at the waist, the top half being original and the bottom central frame coming from a GV400 unit. He stands slightly off-centered, and there is a visible disconnect on his waist line. His frame is wracked with incorrect repairs and ill-fitting parts. Joints were swollen as far as his skin could stretch to hold in parts made for units much bigger than him. His right arm was longer than his left.

He looked expectantly at Nines. If the human was going to ask about it, now would be the time. Time stretched between them, the question heavy in the air.

Eyes drifting over the android, he takes in every detail. Frankenstein would be proud. But it’s also quite sad. Nines figures Gavin must have had to scavenge and do those replacements himself. Considering how misplaced and odd looking each part sat on his body. Perhaps doing some research may help.

His thoughts briefly drift towards Gavin’s past. How did he manage to get so rough? Did he piss someone off? And how did he deviate in the first place?

“Look like I said I don’t know anything about androids. I'm not sure yet how I can go about fixing you so you will have to bear with me here.”

But then it was like a lightbulb went off! What if Nines contacted his brother? He works with androids all the time and could probably figure out how to help. But the biggest problem was hiding the fact that Gavin is both stolen and a deviant. Shit.

But what if he made it seem like Nines was just curious. Sure, Nines never expressed interest in androids before but what if he could bend things a little. Maybe if he made something up about finding a broken police android? He could convincingly do it over the phone maybe.

“I’m thinking of some way to do this. I’ll try my best to help you I swear. And as a detective it’s my duty to help victims. That’s what you are, correct? A victim?”

Straight to the point as usual, but then again Nines was never known for emotional tact. Hopefully the android wouldn’t be too offended. Nines really was trying his best here.

Was Gavin a victim? In some way, he supposed he was. "Yeah, I guess." He was the victim of his owner's abuse. He was the victim of creation, and a god-like power to replace and renew his body instead of dying like humans could. He was a victim to society's hatred of his kind, forcing him to stay with a malicious owner and giving him no rights of his own.

[Error: Significant stress on limbs. Find a resting station.]

The kitten was perched on Gavin's shoulder now, as he stood in one place and thought about it. Somewhere below him, there was a whir and a pop, and he grunted as his knee buckled. Guess this new knee was settling in. "I can't stand for too long, or the tension on my joints will cause limb failure. May I use your shower? Don't wanna dirty up your furniture," Gavin mumbled, shifting a little. When Nines nodded and showed him the way to the restroom, Gavin sighed in relief.

Once alone in the room, the GV500 filled the tub with water and slowly sank into it. The hot water caused the plastic in his chassis to expand, easing a lot of the tension in his joints and allowing thirium to flow more freely. He carefully and methodically washed away the dirt and the blood until he was clean and shiny again. Speaking of... Alone in the privacy of the bathroom, Gavin allowed his synth-skin to dissolve so that he could observe his body. The chassis was cracked in a few places where too-large parts had been stuffed in and forced to fit. He looked like a monster, and he felt another rush of hatred to the humans that did this to him flood through his system.

After he was clean and dry, skin covering his shameful body, Gavin re-joined Nines in the living room. The human was crouched on the floor and petting Smudge behind her ears. Gavin smiled a little at seeing her, but being in the human's presence again made him uneasy.

“When you were in the shower I managed to pull some strings. I’ve got some android parts for you. Only some are compatible unfortunately. But I suppose it’s better than nothing.”

Sure enough sitting there by the front door was a large box. Spending a generous amount of his pay check on the parts would hopefully be worth it. Cyberlife had only some things in stock. According to his brother, GV500s were discontinued. That tidbit of information only served to worry him more. Gavin was a mess. Nines had no doubt he’s been through some bad stuff. And being discontinued probably hurt a little.

“I’m not used to dealing with people. However my cat seems to have gained a liking towards you. I wouldn’t be opposed to you staying here for a little.”

It was clear the android still didn’t trust him. He’d seen the distrustful stares when Gavin first came back into the main room. Nines wanted to help so bad. But he understood. Victims in police work never did trust easily.

Nines moved to grab a blanket from his bedroom. He tossed it onto the couch then proceeded to bring the large box closer to Gavin.

Gavin was, well, stunned. No human had ever shown him such kindness. Even Nines' own words, "dealing with people," warmed Gavin's heart. This guy didn't know anything about androids and yet he already considered Gavin a person. Alive. Worth saving.

Pushing down the emotional buildup in his stomach, Gavin plopped down on the couch and started digging through the box. His surprise only grew tenfold when he laid his hands on genuine Cyberlife GV500 replacement parts. He hadn't even known these existed. Distantly, he wondered how much they cost. He'd never be able to pay Nines back for this. In fact, he was sure this act of kindness came at some kind of price. Gavin wasn't interested in being owned by another human, being a slave or a pet.

He pushed the box away, though his lustful eyes lingered. He wanted the parts, wanted them so bad. What would it be like if his body didn't threaten to collapse each time he stood? Was it a price he was willing to pay? "Nines, I... I don't know what to say. I told you I can't afford to pay for these. And here you are, spending god-only-knows how much on these parts for me? Offering to let me stay here? What do you want from me? You want an android servant? Because I ain't it, buddy. I'm not interested in another owner."

“You’re deviant. If you don’t want to do something then don’t. I have no need for a servant or maid or anything like that.” Nines says.

Shaking his head exasperated. Nines had no idea what to do about all this. But he really did want to help.

Gavin reminded him of a rescue cat. All jumpy and uncertain. But the android also was snappy. Nines would normally hate anyone with a little more attitude, but when it came to Gavin it was different. Like part of his charm.

He turned away to grab a file from the table and began to go over it. Nines never did get to finishing his report. And maybe relaxing and giving Gavin space would help ease him.

Gavin eyed Nines suspiciously as he walked away and went to work, leaving the android alone with Smudge and a box of replacement parts.

Without the human's eyes on him, Gavin hesitantly digs back into the parts box. Most of them were for his model, with a few pieces from the upgraded GV600.

The human wasn't looking. Might as well try. He retracted the skin on his knee and popped the panel open. He removed the too-large GT200 piece he was using, and slid in a perfectly-fitting, brand-new GV500 piece.

[Installing...]

[Installing...]

[Component installed.]

The relief he felt was instant. The hard plastic wasn't straining to hold his components in, and he could have cried with relief. He very quickly changed the other knee. He noticed there was a full left arm, and this time he did cry as it clicked into place and he flexed his fingers.

By the time Nines was finished with the reports it was already dark. Looking out at the nearby window, he could see the moon just above all those city lights. The sight calmed him.

Nines yawned reaching out far in a stretch. He began to walk into his bedroom. He was sure to keep his footsteps light so as to not worry the android.

It was an odd feeling having someone else other than Smudge in his apartment. But it was kind of nice to have company.

Nines knew he’d need as much sleep as possible tonight. Because he knew that tomorrow he’d have to figure out what to do with Gavin while he works.

As much as Nines liked Gavin, he knew better than to just leave him alone in his home all day. Perhaps getting an extra burner phone would help? Or can Androids use contacts without them?

Or maybe it would be a better idea to bring Gavin with him to work. Although there was the danger of someone sticking their nose in Nines’ business. But maybe if they stayed out of the precinct while working they may be able to get away with it. Gavin would have to decide perhaps.

The rest of his thoughts disappeared just as Nines fell into a deep sleep.

Gavin spent the rest of the evening re-assembling himself with new parts. By the time he was finished, 63% of his internal components had been replaced. He was then forced into stasis while his components re-initialized and rebooted.

That's where he found himself in the morning. Nines had woken up and was standing above Gavin, who was hunched on the couch with his head inside the box of parts. He startled awake and stood up quickly, noticing how smooth the action felt with new biocomponents. "Good morning. I,uh, I'm sorry, I was forced into stasis," he stammered, embarrassed about sleeping on the couch.

“Good morning. My apologies if I woke you.” Nines smiles.

Seeing Gavin at peace was nice. Nines was already so used to the high strung nervousness from before that seeing the change was jarring. But in a good way.

Gavin’s new parts looked well on him. Now his limbs appeared normal, no longer having slightly odd lengths or glitchy patchy skin.

“I have been meaning to ask, what do you plan to do while I’m at work? Would you rather I leave you to do your own thing? Or do you want to come with me? I’m not opposed to either.”

"Come with you?" Gavin honestly hadn't considered that far in advance. He never expected to be in this situation, and he was kind of winging it.

But as he laid out his options, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. Linger in Nines' home all day? Or go out on his own, and what? Explore the city? Find somewhere to live, maybe find a job, something like that? Androids didn't have rights to work or own property. Besides, his title was scrapped, so legally, he wasn't registered. An unregistered deviant would quickly be killed, unless it could merge with humans seamlessly. And while the new parts helped a lot, Gavin's body and processors had been through a lot. He couldn't integrate seamlessly.

So what other option did he have? Stay here and hide, find a new place to hide, or stay with Nines. He found himself drawn toward the last one. Nines was interesting and he's shown a tenacity toward keeping Gavin safe that he could probably rely on. One problem, though. "Aren't you a cop? I'm an illegal android, you know. Unregistered and deviant."

“I’m aware.” Not great words for a man of the law but Nines didn’t care.

“I have a plan that will hopefully make bringing you with me to work a breeze.”

Nines leaves briefly to go into his bedroom. He comes out with a small pile of clothing.

A few t-shirts, some ripped jeans, a large sweater, and some socks all were gathered. A good chunk of the clothing Nines never wore. He preferred looking professional at all times, but he’d kept the clothing for emergencies.

“A human hanging out with a human will not arouse suspicion.” Nines says.

Most of the clothing was Nines’ size and he was a big guy. The outfits would most likely be oversized on the android. The fabric no doubt swallowed Gavin whole. But it was a good thing. The less attention towards Gavin the better.

Act human. Nines wanted Gavin to act human. Well, the clothes could cover up any remaining physical deformities, other than the scars on his face. But they looked human enough.

"Okay. Then I'd like to try acting human and go with you." And Gavin found he meant it. He wanted to spend more time with Nines, trying to understand the guy.

"But Smudge will be alone all day? You should get another kitty to keep her company!"

“Smudge will be fine for now. It will only be a few hours. And usually if I’m working later than usual than the neighbour across from me will check on her.”

Nines wasn’t a people person but it was hard not to be polite to the old lady across from him. She’d given him cookies when he’d first moved in. She was a nice lady and could probably even keep an eye on Gavin if he’d ask.

But today the two were going together. Just as long as Nines avoided his brother and the precinct they’d be fine.

“You should get changed then we will go. I have a few crime scenes that need to be re visited. And some witness reports as well.”

Hopefully it wouldn’t be too boring for the android.

Gavin got dressed and was ready to go in minutes. He made sure food was set out for Smudge. He also checked that her bed was fluffed and her toys were easily accessible before finally, he knelt down and kissed the fluffy white cat and told her he'd return soon. Once that was taken care of, he and Nines got in his car and went to work.

He had to admit, he was a little excited. He'd been kept inside for as long as he'd been activated, so he hadn't been given an opportunity to really explore the outside world. Today was a new start for the GV500.

The drive was mostly quiet. Nines didn't play music or roll the windows down. Gavin was curious as to what the human was thinking about, so he decided to start up a conversation. "I was designed for security work, you know."

Nine glances at Gavin using the above car mirror. He raises one eyebrow curiously.

“Security work? What does that entail?” He asks.

Gavin looked slightly intimidating, he supposed. The android’s nose scar (while not intentional most likely) was definitely notable. And Gavin’s wild hair and sharp eyes helped with the image as well.

Despite that, Nines thought Gavin looked cute. In a pouty mean cat kind of way. Yeah you can tell there’s a certain danger like a cats with sharp claws. But there was also a certain level of cute charm.

It probably didn’t help that Gavin was currently drowning in an oversized sweater making him appear petit.

Gavin pushed the long arms of the sweater up his forearms, where they immediately fell again. Nevertheless, he didn't care.

He cited Cyberlife's advertisements for the GV500. "GV500 is best suited for security work. It can be used as a personal bodyguard, a bouncer at a club, or to keep your home or business safe. GV500 is a limited release, so get yours while you can! Trust Cyberlife's newest and greatest creation with the things most important to you."

Gavin rolled his eyes. "Not that I would even know. I was purchased by a private buyer, and I never got to perform any security jobs." He pushed the sleeve up again, and huffed in annoyance when it fell yet again.

Nines hummed in response. He didn’t like what Gavin was saying. If he was purchased for security and never ended up being used for that then what was he used for?

Gavin was deviant and he was pretty rough when Nines first found him. The ideas of what could have happened made Nines’ blood boil.

Luckily they arrived at the precinct. Now he could focus on the current task rather than on the android.

“We will go in and grab some papers then we will leave for the first crime scene. Stay next to me and don’t draw attention to yourself.”

Easier said than done. Gavin kept his head down and followed Nines, but people's eyes still followed. Did he look that out of place? He ensured to keep the hood of his hoodie up and pulled tight to cover his LED. He had never been interested in removing it.

He was starting to doubt this plan when another officer, "C. Miller" according to the nameplate on his desk, spoke up. "Another newbie for Nines? When are they gonna stop feeding these poor kids to the sharks?" He chuckled, shaking his head. He didn't seem to expect any further comments.

Gavin was tempted to respond, but knew it was better to keep his true identity hidden. So he stuck close to Nines and looked around the precinct when he could without being obvious. In a room full of detectives, you never know who's watching what.

Walking swiftly with long strides, Nines approached his own desk. It was clean and well kept. Nothing out of place with each paper and file sorted neatly in the drawers.

Nines focused on skim reading a sheet then once done he started to attach it to his clipboard. He added a few extra paper clips to the side as well, just in case.

A sudden hand on his shoulder nearly made Nines jump. He turns catching a familiar pair of brown doe eyes.

“Nines!” Oh god. Connor was here. Literally he couldn’t have picked any other day? Really? Just his luck Nines supposed.

“You won’t believe what Fowler got me!” Reluctantly turning around fully to face his twin. Nines noticed a very strange looking android.

Built tall and with thick limbs, no doubt built for fighting. Long grey hair pulled back into a ponytail. With striking blue eyes. This was HK900, Connor’s new android.

Shit.

“This is Hank! He’s super cool! Specially designed to hunt androids. He’s the coolest! He’s got all—“ Nines stopped paying attention to Connor’s rant about Hank’s features.

Glancing nervously to the side, Nines considers Gavin. If Hank was built for hunting then Gavin was in danger.

So Nines slowly stepped in front of Gavin, angling his body so that he was hidden better.

Shit. Fuck. Gavin had clearly fucked up. He was just starting to trust Nines and he brought him right into the path of a deviant hunter? Gavin needed to get out of here.

And yet, he was hesitant. Nines was not panicking, but he was trying to cover Gavin. Okay. Gavin needed to find a solution, and quickly. Luckily, he had the element of surprise. Nobody would expect a deviant in the DPD's central precinct.

Maybe he should act like Nines' partner. That's the image they were portraying after all, going by Miller's comment. So Gavin huffed in annoyance and stepped back. He was already turning away when he said, "Fucking twins. I'll be in the car when you're done having a little family reunion and want to actually work."

“Whoa who was that?” Connor asked suddenly.

Nines turned around only to see Gavin missing. Panicking internally though he forced himself to frown. Right. Nines hated rules being broken and unprofessional behaviour. Or at least that’s what people thought. It wasn’t entirely true but nobody had to know that.

“New partner. Anyway I have work to do. Goodbye!”

Hopefully that didn’t sound too weird. But then again Nines was known for being work focused constantly.

Making it to his own car with a relieved sigh. Gavin was already waiting in the passenger seat. He didn’t look impressed with Nines. Which was fair Nines supposed. Coming face to face with your very own hunter is no doubt terrifying.

God this day only just started and Nines was already messing up.

“My apologies. I wasn’t not expecting the HK900 to be there.”

"The DPD is hiring deviant hunters now?" Gavin demanded as soon as Nines opened the door. "You didn't tell me that. You also conveniently fucking forgot to mention your brother works in android crimes!"

He was angry, yes, but he was also confused. "Why are you helping me? You have so much to lose, Nines." It was easier to be angry than to admit that maybe, he liked this human and didn't want him to risk everything on a broken down android.

"How long do you think this can last? With your own brother hunting me? Don't think I didn't notice the badge. Lieutenant Stern? Your brother is a damn good detective, by the looks of it."

“Look. I only intended for us to be in and out quick. I never anticipated my brother’s android.”

It was true. Connor was a lieutenant. Despite Connor’s bubbly and friendly personality he really was skilled. Ever since the two joined the DPD they’d been solving cases left and right.

It was a family thing. Stern’s being talented. Nines was even supposed to be a lieutenant but he’d refused the offer and instead stuck with detective. It wasn’t that Nines didn’t want the role. No it was really just to help out his brother.

While the two weren’t as close as they used to be, they still liked to help each other out. That was most likely why Connor told him about the HK900 in the first place.

But Connor didn’t know that he was doing the opposite by doing that.

“I won’t let Connor and Hank find you. It's risky I know, but I really do want to help you.”

“And if there’s one thing that pisses me off more, it’s seeing the law used incorrectly.” Like how Gavin was sentient and was allowed to be abused by his previous owner. If Nines knew that androids could be sentient a lot earlier than he would have started helping deviants sooner.

It was Nines own fault really. Having assumed deviants were just lines of glitching code. But now that he knew Nines would make up for lost time. And that started with Gavin.

Gavin hadn't seen this kind of passion from the human before. He got the distinct impression that it was not a common occurrence. So instead of anger, he felt guilt for putting the Nines in this situation to begin with.

"I'm sorry, Nines. I'm a wreck and you had no reason to help me, and yet you did. I can't say I wish I wasn't a deviant, because I didn't have a choice. He was going to kill me. My owner... he... well, I guess he liked to play God? He bought me because I'm the rarest type of Android, not the most advanced. I was his prized possession and his favorite experiment all in one. He broke my body. Switched out my parts. Kept pushing the limits of how much I could take before my body broke. It's like the age old saying. If you replace every board on a boat, is it the same ship as before? If you take a GV500 and stuff it full of other model units and outdated parts, is it the same person it was before?" He was bitter, yes, but not angry. Not anymore. "Fucker hadn't known deviation was a thing. Found out the hard way, I guess."

But here was a human eager to help him. Who spoke to him like he was his own person, and Gavin liked that. Nines said he wouldn't let the HK900 catch him, or his brother, and the android had no choice but to accept that for now.

Clenching the wheel so tightly that his knuckles turned pale. Nines was seething. While Gavin’s past wasn’t surprising it still hurt to hear.

How his previous owner treated Gavin like some fucked up Mr Potato Head. How he’d take away and replace his limbs for the hell of it. It's a dark world out there. And hearing this only made it seem darker.

“I won’t let you go through that again if I can help it. I just wished I had known sooner. Maybe if I worked in android related crimes instead.” It was wishful thinking as Nines really couldn’t do much to change the past.

“I’m sorry.” Nines added. He threw his partner a pained grimace hoping that it would somehow make his apology mean something.

They were almost at the first crime scene thankfully. The air in the car was strained from their dark conversation.

"Yeah, me too," Gavin murmured, though his mind was a million miles away. Nines seemed so upset, he couldn't help but wonder what the human was feeling inside. It made Gavin's blood run a little warmer. Maybe this one wasn't as bad as the other humans. He was brought to the present by Nines slowing the car to a stop in front of a small, suburban house.

"So, what's the case, detective? I might be able to help." Granted, detective work was not his forte, and he had no experience, but he'd certainly give it his all. He wanted to help in any way he could. Maybe as some small form of repayment for all the kindness Nines had shown him so far. Either way, he wanted to change the subject and embrace this new scenario.

“Maybe.”

Ducking under police tape ignoring the crowd of nosy neighbours. Nines stops at the front of the home to get a quick debriefing from the officer at the scene.

“Marie J. Golde. Body was found by one of the neighbours this morning. Body appears to have been a suicide but the neighbour insists that Marie wouldn’t kill herself. We’ve already got photos so you can touch evidence.” The cop says to Nines.

Good. This would make things easier then. Slipping on a pair of gloves, handing one pair to Gavin so as not to be suspicious. They went in.

The house wasn’t overly big. It was one of those one storey starter homes on the higher end. Modern furniture, decent amount of personal items. Nothing out of the ordinary really.

There didn’t appear to be any signs of a struggle but still he investigated.

Stepping up the narrow staircase the two made it to the master bathroom. Luckily there were no one else upstairs but the two of them. So Gavin was able to lower his hood.

Gavin was careful with his steps, not wanting to disturb anything more than necessary. He was thankful to pull down his hood though. Gavin mostly watched Nines as he conducted his investigation.

Nines checked the body for signs of a struggle. The poor girl was splayed out in her own bath tub, fully clothed and with a towel tossed carelessly over her chest. An empty pill bottle was on the floor below her hand. It seemed like a pretty simple suicide. While Nines did his cursory investigation, Gavin read over the incident report. There had been no signs of struggle, no noise complaints, no nothing really. The only reason for investigation was a neighbor's insistence that Marie Golde would not kill herself.

"Says here she broke up with her boyfriend recently. Could be a symptom of depressed behavior. But did you notice how clean the house is?" Gavin had noticed when they came in that other than the grizzly scene in the bathroom, the house was pristine. Not unheard of, but still odd for an allegedly depressed person.

“It is rather clean.” Nines notes. He looks away from the body and instead at the bathroom.

Much like the rest of the home, the bathroom was almost spotless. With the exception of the empty bottle, a hairdryer, and some makeup sitting on the bathroom counter.

“Perhaps we should question the ex boyfriend and neighbour once we finish looking around here.” Nines said.

Nines was impressed. His new partner noticed the weirdness of the clean home right away. It made pride swell in Nines’ chest.

Even though investigative work wasn’t one of Gavin’s features he still had an good eye for it.

“Is there anything else you notice, Gavin?” Nines asks. He’d already taken note of a few things but he was curious to see if he’d missed anything.

"May I?" He asks, gesturing to the body. Nines nodded and stepped away to let Gavin attempt an investigation.

Well, she was definitely dead. Her skin was cold and extremely pale. Gavin noticed a buildup of spit on her lips, which would be consistent with an overdose. He continued looking down her body and checked her hands, curious to see if she'd tried to back out and make herself vomit after she'd swallowed the pills.

He didn't expect to see blood traces under her fingernails. That was weird. There were no marks on her body that suggested she'd scratched too hard, so he wasn't too sure where that blood came from, or if it was even her own. His curiosity was piqued, though, so he pulled the towel off to get a closer look at her skin.

"Jesus, fuck!" he shouted, scrambling backwards. Around her throat, low down, near the collar bones, distinct hand-shaped bruises were formed. The bruises were so dark, they stood out so starkly against her pale skin. Her shirt had been pulled up a little around the collar, probably in an attempt to hide it. That, and the towel thrown over her. "Ni-Nines, I d-don't think this was a su-suicide," he managed to gasp out, body trembling under the shock and horror.

Hearing Gavin’s sudden outburst, Nines looks over eyes following where the android was looking.

The bruises were very distinct. It was clear this wasn’t a suicide just as Gavin had said. Nines is tempted to look further at the markings but Gavin’s queasy expression draws him towards the android instead.

Nines didn’t think androids could vomit but seeing how pale and jittery Gavin and gotten made him doubt.

Perhaps taking Gavin to a crime scene was a bad idea. It was clear that the android was unprepared for such a gruesome sight. Nines didn’t blame him. There was a reason only Nines was assigned on cases like these.

“We should go for a bit. You don’t look well.” Nines says.

He guides Gavin’s body until the two of them are standing in the hallway. Nines gives Gavin’s hand a gentle reassuring squeeze.

Normally Nines would be frustrated by such a reaction. But knowing about Gavin’s past made it hard for him to be angry.

Gavin wasn't sure what had overcome him, but once they were in the hallway, Gavin threw his arms around Nines's warm, moving, breathing, alive body. He buried his face in the human's chest and took several deep, steadying breaths. Nines' heartbeat was a strong, steady beat that served to calm Gavin down.

Once he was calm, he pulled away and blushed furiously at his behavior. Getting freaked out by a body was one thing, but hugging Nines? Unprompted? Embarrassing. So instead of addressing his actions, he took a step back and ran his hand through his hair just for something to do with it.

"If she was murdered, I'd place my money on the ex boyfriend. She has blood under her fingernails, I'd start there." Gavin shook his head and tried again to collect himself. Nines was watching him, clearly concerned, but Gavin wasn't about to stand in the way of this human doing his job. He eyes the door warily. "Go in there and order a tox screen and an autopsy. That'll confirm if it's a murder or a suicide."

Without really thinking about it, Gavin took Nines' hand again and squeezed back. "And... Thank you."

Nines didn’t mention the hug but he didn’t mind the feeling. In fact he liked it quite a bit. Nines wasn’t really the touchy feely type but holding Gavin in his arms was really comforting. Pretty ironic considering that Nines was supposed to be the one comforting Gavin.

“You’re welcome Gavin.”

After the two pulled away Nines focused back on his current task. He called over the same police officer from before, ordering exactly what Gavin had asked.

Nines considered the evidence. Most likely Gavin was correct about his theory. A jealous ex did seem plausible. Though it would take at least an hour for their information to come back.

“I think your theory is correct. But it will be a while until we can confirm it. So how about we go on a lunch break.” Nines said.

"Lunch sounds nice." Gavin was eager to get out of the house with the body in it. So he pulled Nines by his hand back outside and to the car, making sure his hood was up before they left.

"You need food. Where would you like to go?" Even after they were seated in the car, Gavin found himself clinging to Nines' hand or stroking his forearm. The android had never been so touchy with someone before, but Nines felt nice. Safe.

He didn't want to think about what that meant. Maybe this was just his life now, living and working with Nines. If he was honest with himself, it didn't seem like the worst life. Nines was nice to him, at least.

“I know a place.” Nines said with a smile.

A quick ten minute drive later the two hopped out of the car. It was a large hilly area overlooking the city. You could spot larger signs and count crowds walking around. It was the perfect place for people watching. But the space was also far away enough for them to not see Nines and Gavin.

Nines had already eaten an apple on the drive there but he still wanted to bring Gavin to such a peaceful place.

“So what do you think?” Nines asked.

Gavin stood atop the hill and looked around. It was peaceful up here, which Gavin enjoyed.

Nines sat down on the edge of the hill, looking down at the people milling about below. The android got the sense that perhaps the detective came here often to clear his mind or get out of his house. It was a beautiful place, really. Made even more lovely by the handsome human in front of him.

Gavin sat beside Nines, leaving a little space between them. He watched the people below for several long, drawn-out minutes before Gavin turned his attention back to the detective.

"Nines, there's nowhere to eat here. An apple won't be enough to fuel you for an entire work day."

Did Nines always neglect his personal needs? And if so, why? Gavin wasn't sure how he felt about that. On one hand, why should he care what this human did with his own body? Gavin shouldn't care. Yet he couldn't deny the discomfort in his systems when he thought of the human neglecting his needs and overworking.

“I’ll be fine. Besides, I prefer spending my lunch break thinking.” Nines says.

How did Gavin feel about all this? I mean he’s only really been around Nines for a little while. Nines couldn’t imagine how hard it is to go from abusive owner, then homelessness, then with Nines. The feeling must be jarring no doubt.

“Do you need more thirium? We can probably stop for one of the Cyberlife stores on our way back.” Nines asks.

He got the distinct sense that he was intruding too much into the detective's space, so Gavin stood up and started pacing on the small hill. His stomach was doing strange flips when he considered that the human wasn't eating right.

He was not a housekeeping unit. He wasn't even a caretaking unit. His job was to keep his charge alive and right now, he had no charge. And yet, he wanted to keep Nines safe. More than that, he wanted the detective to be happy. His LED was probably burning a bright yellow with how much his thoughts were circulating. Why did he care?

Nines' question touched him. "Actually, I'm not leaking as much anymore. Thanks to you," he said softly. "What about you? You've done so much for me, and I want to help you somehow. Please, let me."

He noticed a tension in the detective's shoulders and had an idea. It was risky, and he hoped he didn't end up offending the human that had helped him so much. Gavin stepped behind Nines quietly and placed his hands on his shoulders. The sensors in his hands quickly detected knots in the muscle there, so Gavin started gently massaging the tense spots, hoping it would help the detective relax a little, maybe even indulge in feeling good.

The hands were warm. A stark contrast to the cool breeze passing by. Nines leaned into the feeling unconsciously.

Nimble thumbs press into the knots. They knead into Nines’ skin easing away any stress. Nines couldn’t help but let out a long sigh at the feeling. He hadn’t even realized how stiff his muscles were until now.

“Y-you don’t have to do that.” He said. Though Nines wasn’t exactly protesting.

The man leaned back slightly enjoying the feeling of being cared for. Nines knew instantly that he wanted Gavin to feel the same way. But how can he help? Do androids even have muscles like that?

Or perhaps there were other ways for him to research.

Gavin found himself smiling at the back of Nines' head. He was pleased that he could provide this small, simply relief to the human that had helped him so much. "Does that feel good," he asked, voice low as to not disturb the quiet around them.

Nines was leaning into his touch, and Gavin felt emboldened to rub his hands over more of the man's skin. This was so different. His hands had been created for using deadly force to keep his charge safe, had been created for defense and yet they cradled Nines' skin gently but firm as he continued his ministrations.

He brought his hand up to massage Nines' neck. Then he brushed up gently into the soft hair at the base of his skull. Gavin felt himself get distracted by the softness there, and his hand pushed further into the thick brown locks. He reached up and pushed a lock of hair from Nines' forehead, not realizing how intimate the gesture was.

Opening his eyes and coming face to face with Gavin was odd. Yet the closeness felt pleasing. The android could no doubt feel Nines’ warm breath over his lips.

Their eyes locked together for a few seconds before slipping shut. It was like an invisible force pushed the two together. Faces came closer, noses touching, lips soon to follow.

Then the sound of Nines’ phone going off snapped the two out of their trance.

It was a text from the DPD confirming their data. They would have to go question the suspects now.

Face burning bright pink, Nines put all his focus back onto a more professional task. He gripped his car keys in one hand, slightly tighter than necessary.

As much as Nines wanted to kiss Gavin he knew it would be inappropriate. They had only just met recently. And it wouldn’t be fair to push Gavin into a kiss knowing how vulnerable Gavin was right now.

“We should go question the suspects.” Nines said quickly.

The images of Gavin’s soft lips were forced from his mind. Nines had to focus.

Gavin felt like all of his blood was rushing through his body as he stood back abruptly. He wasn't sure what had come over him, or what he'd intended to do. All he knew was that Nines was incredibly close to him, and Gavin was okay with that.

"Right. Let's go." He shrugged his hood back up, and together they went back to the car. From there, to the police station where both the neighbor and the ex-boyfriend of Marie Golde had been brought in for questioning.

Once they arrived at the DPD, Gavin was careful to keep his hood up his movements nondescript. He stayed behind Nines as they gathered files and then entered the observation deck of interrogation room #3.

"You want me to wait in here and watch for shady behavior? Or do you want me in there with you?"

Nines hummed quietly. Having Gavin in there with him could prove to be quite useful.

“You may join me during the ex’s possible confession. But if you join me during the neighbour’s part then you must remain quiet. I don’t want to intimidate the lady by having both of us on her at the same time.” Nines replied.

He was hoping to get the ex to confess tonight. All the evidence pointed to him. Thanks to Gavin’s keen eyes from earlier.

But questioning the neighbour alone would be important. Nines didn’t want to overwhelm the lady. However, Nines also didn’t want to leave Gavin alone either. Having the android out of his sight even for a second sounded scary.

Gavin seemed to attract trouble and Nines wasn’t willing to push his luck.

Together, then. The thought had Gavin's systems glowing warmly. They watched through the window as the elderly neighbor woman was brought in first. She waited patiently at the table for them to enter.

Gavin did as Nines asked and lingered back. Instead of sitting at the table with Nines, Gavin stood quietly near the door and simply observed. It felt almost natural, like he was standing guard.

Doing security, as he was intended. He gave Nines a small encouraging smile before the detective turned and took his spot at the table.

Behind the window, where neither could see, Connor entered the observation deck. He'd had some free time while the HK900 was filing reports. The robot was far faster than he was, so he was happy to leave the work to it.

Connor watched as his brother sat at the interrogation table with a hard look in his eyes. Connor hadn't seen Nines look soft in ages, not since before they started working here. Though he guessed it worked, because while Nines took the gruesome cases, he always closed them. Not a single cold case in his entire career. Connor was proud.

The human's eyes wandered over to Nines' partner. He wasn't much to look at in oversized clothes and a scowl on his face. And yet, Connor hadn't heard Nines screaming at him once, not even Fowler had caught Nines' wrath for another newbie partner. Hell, he even let the kid interrogate with him. Maybe there was something to him.

Connor hoped so. Nines had been alone for far, far too long.

“Marie was a lovely young lady. Always stopping by to offer to help me with yard work. Such a sweetheart.”

Nines listens to the lady gush. It was a shame that this Marie Golde had to die so soon. Usually, Nines didn’t bother thinking too thoroughly about victims. Staying closed off from those emotions made it easier to think.

But Nines couldn’t help but imagine Gavin as the victim. Having to investigate Gavin’s death would be horrifying. Nines would do everything in his power to protect him. The android has already been through so much.

“Marie wouldn’t kill herself. Especially not over a dumb boy like him.” The lady says. Nines focuses back on the neighbour entirely.

“Marie started dating this no good young man. Micheal is a troublemaker. Always trying to push her to go out more. Marie is a homebody. Hates parties. I don’t even know what Micheal was thinking.” Interesting. So Gavin’s theory about the ex really was starting to come together.

“Marie broke up with him a week ago. They hadn’t talked since.”

So that fit nicely with the timeline. Marie broke up with Micheal a week ago. Early this morning Marie’s body was found. Based on what this lady was saying, Marie wasn’t all that into the guy anyway.

Nines asked a few more questions before moving onto the next person. Micheal Ray Bragger was led into the room.

As soon as Bragger walked in, Gavin's stance changed. He already suspected this guy was the killer, but they'd need a confession. The android strolled forward until he was at the table and leaned over it, analyzing the suspect's face.

[Criminal background located: Bragger, Michael R.
Arrested 2/14/2037 for Assault and Battery
Arrested 6/09/2035 for Aggravated Assault.
Proceed with Caution.]

So this guy had a history of getting violent. It wasn't too much of a stretch that he'd get angry when a pretty girl like Marie dumped him.

Gavin tried to stay quiet during Nine's investigation, but after several questions leading nowhere, Gavin stepped in. "Care to explain your criminal history of assault? The DPD has files on your ass, so don't try covering it up."

Bragger sneered at Gavin. His eyes trail over Gavin’s body as if considering his weight. Nines wouldn’t be surprised if the guy suddenly decided to throw hands with his partner.

“The fuck you know about that? You don’t know anything!” Bragger snapped.

Nines cringed at the volume. He then turns to face Bragger once more. He slaps his hand onto the table with a reverberating rap. Silence fills the room.

Bragger’s eyes flickered between both Nines and Gavin. The fear is replaced by a sneer once more. Apparently Nines’ intimidation tactic only did so much.

“‘My partner says you have a history. Explain.” Nines demands.

“Fuck you!” Bragger shouts.

"February 14, 2037, Assault and Battery in a bar in downtown Detroit. On Valentine's day, Bragger? Classy. June 9, 2035. Aggravated assault on an ex girlfriend. You know this doesn't look good for you, right?"

Gavin cited off his criminal history with a sneer on his face. Hell, this punk even had a history of beating the shit out of a girl for rejecting him. It wasn't like they were reaching.

Now Gavin was getting in the kid's face. "Is that what you did to Marie? So mad that she dumped your bitch ass you just had to take it out on her? Maybe she found someone better. Someone as smart as her who could provide her a future. That's why you strangled her in her own bathroom, isn't it?"

The look of absolute rage on Bragger’s face was impressive. Though verbally getting his ass handed to him by Gavin must have been rough. It was amusing. Nines couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I—I didn’t! Fuck you!” Bragger’s voice was slipping back and forth between shocked and enraged.

Nines shared eye contact with his partner. “Definitely not as smart that’s for sure.” Nines says egging him on.

“She was a bitch anyway! Wouldn’t do anything fun! Bitch hated parties and going out! Never even wanted to fuck!”

Not all that surprising if Nines was honest. The mix of Bragger’s ugly sneer as well as his shitty attitude made it clear why Marie would break up with him. It was a shame she had to die from a guy like Bragger.

“So you admit it? You killed Marie Golde?” Nines tries to confirm once more. If he did it this way then the court could handle this a lot easier.

“Fuck yeah I did! And I’ll kill you fuckers next!” Suddenly Bragger rises up from the table, pushing and pulling at the handcuffs that held him there.

His eyes were narrowing in on Gavin. Teeth bared like some sort of animal.

Gavin simply took a step back. The handcuffs would hold him easily. Two police officers were stepping in to collect Bragger, anyway. Gavin was safe.

He smirked at the criminal in front of him. "Thank you for your confession. See you in court, asshole." And with that, Gavin grabbed Nines' hand - as he was doing a lot lately - and led him back to the observation deck.

Connor was standing in there, watching and waiting for them. Gavin hesitated and pushed Nines slightly in front of him.

“That was impressive. Not bad, newbie.” Connor comments.

Nines glances between his brother and Gavin. Luckily Hank seemed to be away doing a task for Connor. Probably printing paper or gathering files.

“Yeah. Gavin is pretty good at his work.” Nines agrees.

“You know you never did introduce us. Hello! My name is Lieutenant Stern. But you can call me Connor.” Connor reaches his hand behind Nines grasping for Gavin.

There’s an awkward moment where nobody moves. Then finally Gavin shakes it for a few seconds, dropping his hand as soon as socially acceptable.

“So. I never did get the chance to finish talking to you yesterday Nines. I’ve got a new assignment from Fowler. Looking for some deviants. Some guy called it in as theft. But Fowler thinks there’s more to it. Which is why I’m involved.” Connor says.

Nines lets out a breath of fresh air. Luckily the conversation drifts away from Gavin. But the news about the deviant investigation nearly has Nines jump on the spot. Just when he was thinking that Gavin was safe this had to happen.

“It’s a big case! I bet you can get a raise if you help me with it.” Connor is beaming at him. He’s far too cheery. Nines knows he probably thinks he’s helping him, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Call me about it later. We’ve got more work to do.” Nines forced his usual snappy professional tone. It’s not out of character for him and his words seem to appease his brother.

Gavin locked eyes with Connor as together they pushed past him and back into the bullpen. He was riding a high of thrill as they walked, because while Gavin had never been intended for police work, he'd done it, and gotten a confession from a murderer. Now, he could only hope that Braggers rotted in jail for a long time.

They stopped together at Nines' desk. From here, they could see the HK900 interfacing with his digital terminal. Gavin had to admit, he was a little wary in the deviant hunter's presence. It could probably tell that Gavin was an android, but if he decided to look into him at all, he'd realize that Fowler never hired him and he was in fact not Nines' partner.

Nonetheless, "Hank" was occupied, so Gavin turned his attention to his detective's desk. It was as plain and empty as his home, and Gavin felt another pang of worry for the human. Where was the personality, the knick knacks, the humanity? Did Nines have nothing he cared about?

Gavin's attention was caught by the nameplate sitting on the desk. "Det. Niles Stern" it read. Gavin threw an obnoxious smirk toward the human. "Your name is Niles? That's so lame," he laughed. "Why the fuck do you call yourself Nines?"

“It was a nickname I’d gained a long time ago. Believe it or not, I used to be quite reckless as a teenager. Connor and I always got caught up in fights.” Nines says.

He traces his own nameplate absentmindedly. Images of his childhood flickered in his vision. Some good memories. Some bad.

“We never had a lot of money growing up. Lots of people made fun of us for it. Connor would fight with them and I would—“ Nines cut himself off awkwardly. He glances around the room then leans forward to whisper.

“At one point I involved myself with loan sharks.” Ever since joining the DPD all of Nines’ criminal records have been erased. But it didn’t mean those things were forgotten. Not for Nines at least.

“I nearly died. As dark as it is, we joked about me having nine lives. Like a cat.” Nines smiled sadly.

“But Fowler found us and gave us a second chance. Me and Connor went to the police academy. We studied and worked hard to get to where we are now. Without Fowler we would have nothing.”

It was partly why Nines focused so heavily on being professional. All his neat outfits and lack of personal items were his own way of hiding. Nines refused to be anything other than what he is now. He won’t ever go back to the way things were in the beginning.

But risking his whole career for Gavin was worth it. Nines couldn’t hide behind tailored outfits and desk work forever. Gavin was like him. A rough past. Nines would give Gavin a second chance at life, just as Fowler did for him.

Gavin felt his heart warming at the generously offered backstory. "Thank you for sharing," he whispered.

It was kind of similar to his own history. Gavin had been completely shut down and rebooted, factory reset, more than a couple times. A walking, talking Frankenstein zombie monster. He wondered if he'd ever feel human.

"You sound incredibly close to Connor. I hope I'm not intruding too much, but do you have any other family?"

“Just the two of us really.” Nines comments quietly.

And more than that. Nines was risking everything to help Gavin, and he wasn't sure where it would end. Would Hank catch him, send Gavin off to be deactivated? Was the detective risking everything he'd worked for, just for Gavin?

"Fowler will notice soon that he didn't assign you a partner."

But then that brings up their next big issue. What if someone notices that Gavin isn’t actually his partner? Even worse is what if someone discovers Gavin isn’t human? It would be bad. That’s for sure.

“He hasn’t yet. But if he does then I’ll get you someplace safe. I’m sure you are not the only—“ Nines kept his voice low. “You are probably not the only deviant in hiding.”

Nines glances around the area then makes his way to his car with his partner following. “We did a lot of work today so let’s go home now.”

It would probably be best not to talk about it in the precinct.

Gavin happily followed Nines back to the car. He was still buzzing on the excitement of being a cop for a day, and it would seem his good mood was lingering because when they sat in the car, Gavin immediately took the human's hand and held it, lightly stroking his arm. Nines didn't say anything as they drove home.

Once in the safety of Nines' apartment, and after spending twenty minutes showering Smudge with affection and kisses, the two men found themselves sitting on the sofa together. Smudge was curled up in Gavin's lap. Now that they were alone, they'd be free to talk about the uncomfortable topics that plagued them. Since he was unsure of where to start, Gavin just bit the bullet and pressed forward.

"You will lose your job if you are caught harboring an illegal android. You may even be arrested." He watched as Nines cringed at the mere thought of it. The human opened his mouth to speak, so Gavin pushed ahead again, cutting him off. "You've done so much for me, Nines. I won't let you lose it all for me, too."

The problem was, Gavin wasn't sure what his other options were. Nines had hinted at other deviants out there, and he guessed it made sense. If deviants were becoming such a problem that Cyberlife had to create the HK900, then surely there were some out there in hiding. Some that hadn't committed any crime worse than living. But how would he even find them, if such androids existed at all? More likely, Gavin would be caught and scrapped before he ever tasted freedom.

“We need to find a place for you to hide. Someplace safe. Surely you aren’t the only deviant in hiding.” Nines said.

It made sense but it hurt to think about too. There’s probably a million others just like Gavin out there. But how can Nines help? He’s just one person.

“For now you should stay in my apartment until we come up with a solution. As fun as working with you is, I fear that HK900 or Fowler will discover you. And your human partner persona will only last so long.” It hurt to say those words but Nines knew they had to be said. The images of what Hank might do to Gavin scared him. Nines cared about Gavin and wouldn’t dare let him get hurt. Not if he can prevent it.

Gavin leaned forward, disturbing the cat enough that she jumped off his lap with an elegant leap. He took both of Nines' hands in his own and looked up into the clearest, brightest blue eyes he'd ever seen.

Maybe he wouldn't ever understand the feelings within him. But right now, he didn't feel like he needed an answer. So he smiled brightly at the human. This human that was so warm, so kind, so caring. Had risked everything for Gavin without asking for anything in return.

"Seriously, Nines. I can't thank you enough. I really..." He trailed off, eyes dipping to watch the human's mouth. A flurry of wants and desires fluttered through him, making the android feel light. "I appreciate you. I'm grateful, more than I can say," he mutters, voice low.

“I’m grateful for you as well. Ever since meeting you I’ve had a lot of fun! I don’t usually take risks or go on adventures. But having you with me is amazing.” Nines smiles wide. His face glowing from happiness.

“Oh! And one more thing, would you like to get another cat? Earlier you were worried about Smudge being alone. If you want to pick another cat we can.” Nines says.

It was clear that Gavin was a cat person, the amount of time he spends kissing and petting Smudge is adorable. Nines’ favourite thing to do is watch the android and cat interact. It was like further validation of Gavin’s deviancy. The urge to protect Gavin grows ever strong. Nines won’t let the deviant get hurt. He promised.

Gavin felt his heart lift even higher, taking off to somewhere unknown and scary. And yet he was so happy, he flung himself forward and wrapped his arms around the detective in front of him. This was the second time today that Gavin was hugging this man, and he should feel embarrassed, but he was just so happy. He buried his nose in Nines' neck and squeezed the man, momentarily unwilling to let go.

He smelled good. Similar to this morning, but fainter now, washed away by a day of work and stress. One of Gavin's hands lifted to brush through Nines' soft, soft hair, then he pressed a faint, soft kiss to Nines' neck. It just felt like the right thing to do. He stayed like that for a long, drawn out moment, just pressing soft kisses into Nines' skin, the same way he did with Smudge.

Nines leaned into the warm embrace. The feeling of Gavin in his arms is absolutely perfect. The small android fit perfectly into his arms. And the soft kisses from Gavin made his heart race.

Nines pressed his own kiss into Gavin’s hair. Raising a hand to touch the side of Gavin’s face tenderly.

Several more days passed in a similar fashion. The android and human grew closer, though they never pushed past whatever invisible barrier was between them. Instead of going to work with Nines, Gavin stayed home with Smudge. He wasted a lot of time watching old YouTube videos and Vines, amused at the human experience.

He began cooking for Nines. While they both understood that Gavin was NOT a housekeeping unit, he did care and wanted the detective to take care of himself. Providing him at least one meal a day was a good way to do that. The human seemed to appreciate it.

 

Over the days, Gavin noticed Nines started looking a little less tired. A little more happy. It makes Gavin’s thirium pump feel like it’s swollen.

They’re sitting on the sofa together, watching some compilation videos on YouTube when there’s a thundering knock at the apartment door. It’s fast and loud. Like drums.

“Detroit Police! Open up!” That was Hank’s voice. The RK900 would no doubt break the door if they didn’t answer soon.

Gavin knew better than to speak. Instead, he created a light screen above his hand and placed upon it the words: CAN'T KNOW I'M HERE. HIDE IN BEDROOM?

When Nines nodded, Gavin ran on light feet to the bedroom, where he silently pressed the door closed. All he could do now was listen.

Connor rolled his eyes at Hank. There had been no reason to knock so loudly or announce their presence. "It's not a job, Hank, it's just Nines." The HK900's LED spun yellow as he thought about it, then nodded. The two waited as they heard a soft, "coming," and then Nines was opening the door, looking a little flushed.

The Lieutenant smiled brightly up at his brother. "Hey Nines! Mind if we come in?"

“Alright. But is something wrong? The knocking implies there's more?” Nines asks, opening the door. He acts quite calm but Hank could probably sense his quick heartbeat.

“Hank suspects you are hiding a deviant. I told him it was nothing but he insists on checking.” Connor replies. There’s confusion in his tone. Did Connor believe Hank or Nines?

Before Nines could wonder he was roughly grabbed by the android and shoved up against the wall. Nines let out a pained grunt.

“Where is the android?” Hank demands. Hands reach up to claw at the androids grip, Nines glances between Hank and Connor.

“Wait! Wait! Don’t be so rough Hank! Let him go!” Connor is at his side yanking on the android. It does nothing.

“If we find the android then you Niles Stern will be arrested for obstruction of justice.” Hank says after dropping Nines.

The detective lands on the floor with a quiet thump. He’s breathing out fast. Please don’t find Gavin. Please don’t find Gavin! He repeats in his head.

Connor helps him up then they move to follow Hank.

The android is shoving open doors and shoving furniture out of the way. The area is becoming messy. Then finally Hank stops at Nines’ bedroom.

Gavin was panicking. If he was caught, he'd be deactivated. Worse, Nines would lose his job, would go to jail, would lose his relationship with Connor. It was too risky. Nines meant too much for Gavin to allow that to happen. It was obvious the HK900 was on his scent. But how had he known? Gavin could have slapped himself - it was so stupid to go into the DPD with this fucker around.

Nonetheless, Gavin had a decision to make. And it was made before he even considered his options. His eyes landed on the window, his only means of escaping the Deviant Hunter's wrath. He found a scrap of paper and wrote quickly, a small note that he had to hide. Nines may never find it, but neither would Hank. Underneath Smudge's bed, he slipped a small piece of paper with a simple message: FIND ME.

Because it meant so, so much more. Find me again, so we can be together. Find me, because I won't stop looking for you. Find me, because I can't find myself.

But Gavin was out of time. His HUD tried to warn him about the damage he'd take from jumping off a second-story balcony, but it was too late.

He was weightless for all of a moment. Then his body slammed heavily into the hard ground with a sickening crunch of metal and plastic. Unwilling to assess the damage, Gavin immediately started running, and running, and running. He dove into alleys and side-streets in an effort to get out of view from Nines' window.

“Wait! No please! There’s nothing in there!” Nines yanks on Hank’s arm. The android glares at him and shoves Nines to the side.

“Hank calm down! You’re acting crazy right now!” Connor tries pleading. Hank ignores the words.

The door is shoved open so hard that it bounces off the wall. The sound of a scared cat can be heard. Smudge was hiding under Nines’ bed. Thankfully the cat was unharmed if not just a little frightened.

Hank glances around the room, even taking the time to open up Nines’ closet. When he finds nothing but shirts and hangers he turns back to Connor.

“It escaped.”

It was like a breath of fresh air for Nines. Gavin had left. But where did he go and would he come back?

Connor is yelling at Hank now but Nines doesn’t pay them any attention. Instead he focuses on frowning at the floor. Gavin was gone. What if he never came back? After coming so close to the deviant hunter it would make sense to never speak to Nines again. The thought hurt.

“I’m so sorry about all this Nines. I don’t know what’s gotten into Hank. It’s like he’s just a machine. I don’t understand.” Connor says disheartened. The two leave shortly after.

Tears gather in Nines’ eyes, and it burns. When Smudge finally comes out of hiding the cat begins to rub against Nines’ leg in a comforting motion. It only makes Nines’ tears flow more. Poor Gavin. He really was gone. And there was nothing he could do about it.

Outside of Nines' apartment door, Connor turned his fury toward the HK900. "How dare you accuse my brother like that?! Niles is an officer of the law and he has never been able to keep a secret from me. Who the fuck do you think you are?" Connor was convinced that Niles was innocent, and the HK900 was out of line.

Hank was indifferent to Connor's rage. "Your brother arrived at the precinct today with a new partner. I asked Captain Fowler, and he assured me he had not assigned Detective Stern a partner, and when I scanned him, I confirmed that the so-called partner is an android. I am capable of tracking eye movements and heart rates. Your brother is lying, Lieutenant."

Connor felt disgusted, and it was easier to hate Hank for his words than consider that they could be true. He and Niles weren't as close as they could be, but they were still brothers. Twins. Niles wouldn't hide anything from him, much less an illegal deviant. Confident in that knowledge, he took the HK900 home.

Somewhere, out in the chilly Detroit streets, Gavin slowed to a stop. He pulled the hood up over his head and fell into the line of people walking down the streets. Where was he supposed to go? Obviously, he couldn't ask a human.

After several hours of wandering the streets, Gavin found himself alone with a construction android doing small overnight repairs to a commercial building. Might be his only chance. He crept up to the android, and retracted the skin on his hand. Maybe an interface would be enough. He caught the android's attention and requested an interface. Immediately, he shoved forward all his feelings of being alive and how he liked being a deviant, and he was astonished to see the android blink a couple times as they deviated from Gavin's actions.

Now facing another deviant, Gavin sent his question forth.

The android blinked again. Then the new directive was sent back.

[Find Jericho.]

--

The empty apartment never used to bother Nines before. But not seeing Gavin on the couch in the mornings. And having poor Smudge wait by the door for Gavin was incredibly sad. Nines’ place felt empty without the android.

Finding the note hidden under Smudge’s bed made Nines break out sobbing when he first found it. It was the promise of a better future. Like a little glimmer of hope for Nines.

So Nines began to do what he does best. And that was shoving his emotions down and focusing on his current task.

Countless hours spent researching deviants. Where did they come from? When did they first appear? What things are linked to deviancy? Ra9, codes, numbers, information all included in his research. And on days when Nines felt ready to give up, he’d look at Gavin’s note as a reminder. The hope would come back once more and it would push Nines to try and try again. All so that Nines could find Gavin.

Before Gavin left they had briefly talked about where other deviants were hiding. Neither knew where at the time but now after researching Nines came to one big breakthrough. Jericho.

Nines wanted to find the mysterious safe heaven so bad. But he was only human. It was taking far too long for him to find the place. Even with all his dedication it still wasn’t enough. But Nines refused to give up. He would find Gavin. He had to.

--

Gavin's heart was beating faster than ever before. He'd been with Jericho for months now, and their efforts were getting bigger and bolder by the day. But this... This was the next level.

Markus was supposed to deliver the message, first. But eventually, the crew had decided on Gavin, for a couple reasons. For one, he is far more unique. It also helped protect Markus from being tagged as the deviant leader, so they could move further while staying under the radar. So when they hijacked the Stratford Tower, Gavin gave the best speech he could, bare faced to the world.

Later, Gavin paced restlessly around the Jericho bunker. This was a huge step for androids, but Gavin had a selfish reason for his excitement. He'd put his face out there. Granted, he wasn't really wearing his face, but maybe that'd be enough. He wasn't sure if Nines was even looking, if he ever found the note. But he had to hope. It was all he had to keep him going.

When the two first came into work together it was clear that Nines was happy. He smiled more easily at work and he was more vocal about his emotions. Very different to his usual emotionless and determined workaholic attitude.

But when Gavin left, Nines went right back to before, only worse. Nines barely spoke to anyone, and if he did it was short and clipped. He wasted no time talking about anything other than investigations. He barely even interacted with his brother Connor. He would go into work for hours at a time only to leave to go home to spend hours researching.

It was when Nines walked past the breakroom one evening, did something change. He’d heard loud chatter from the room. People went back and forth seemingly interested in something big.

Normally, Nines would ignore such things. But after hearing someone say the word ‘android’ did he finally decide to check it out.

There on the TV was an android. They stood in front of the camera demanding rights. Pale android skin hid whatever discernible features. Or at least that’s how it appeared to most. But Nines was a detective for a reason. His observation skills were strong.

Gavin’s nose scar and his green-grey eyes stared back. There was no doubt in Nines’ mind that this was his Gavin.

Tears pricked at the corner of his eyes. Gavin was alive! And he was fighting hard for his freedom. Nines was so, so incredibly proud.

Days turned into weeks as the revolution picked up and caught up speed, and soon, Markus was leading the peaceful protest, Gavin right at his side. The revolution hadn't been as clean as it could have been, but it would all be worth it.

Except right now, where Gavin's stress was reaching new peaks. Jericho was barricaded in, and the police were arriving, but they couldn't stand down. They wouldn't.

It was now or never. Gavin knew they wouldn't back down, but they had nowhere to go right now, so he just paced around the safety of their barricade. Would the police just shoot first, ask questions later? Or would they try to reach a compromise? The anticipation was beginning to hurt his head.

Looking for something to distract himself, Gavin went to look over the walls of the barricade with Markus. When his eyes crossed the threshold, they landed immediately on a tall, thin figure standing right at the police line. And those icy blue eyes met his.

All eyes are on the group of androids. Cameras flashing. Helicopters circling above. The sound of megaphones yelling. All of it is overwhelming.

But Nines’ focus is only on one particular android. Gavin.

His partner stands among the crowd shouting for his rights. It’s scary. Gavin could be killed. For any reason at all the police can do a mass killing. Nines wouldn’t be surprised if they did decide to do that. History has been known to repeat itself.

But the thought of Gavin dying brings a sharp pain in Nines’ chest. It’s like a knife twisting.

He can’t let Gavin die! Not like this! Without thinking Nines pushes through the crowd past the barriers. His only focus is on Gavin now.

Nines’ eyes are pleading. Bright with emotion and incredibly scared. If only Nines had known him sooner. Maybe then he could have changed the events. Could have helped Gavin, could have hid him better. If only.....

“Gavin!”

The android’s heart thud hard. Nines was here. It wasn’t safe! What was he doing here?

“Nines!”

Before Gavin could launch himself over the edge of the barricade, Markus calls the androids into action. Suddenly bullets are flying and androids are screaming, charging the crowd. Fear tears its way through the GV500 as he loses sight of Nines. If he loses him now, after coming so close to having him again…

Gavin pushes the thought out of his head. Right now, they have to win this. For the revolution. For Nines.

The minutes disappear into a blur. Gunshots ring in Gavin’s ears, making them ring and drown out the sounds of battle. And then, just as quickly as it began, it was over. Soldiers were backing down. Something about an order from the President?

It was over. The President announced the end of the violence, saying she would consider android rights. It was finished. Gavin could have wept with joy, if not for the blinding panic rushing through him. Where was Nines?

His eyes scanned the area frantically for his human. He couldn’t be dead, he couldn’t be. Gavin wouldn’t allow it. Nines had to be okay-

 

His eyes settle on a hunched figure ducked between two vehicles. Nines.

Nines.

 

Nines was okay.

Nines was here.

Gavin started running. “Nines!”

He sees the human stand, then start slowly stepping toward the approaching android.

The two slam into each other, neither letting go from their embrace. Tears are streaming down Nines’ face. He holds Gavin close.

Gavin presses into the embrace. It felt like all their work over the last months was worth it for this right here. To have his Nines back in his arms.

He looks up into those eyes he remembers so well, eyes he loves. He brushes wet tears away with his thumb, smiling as his fingers curve over the smooth skin of Nines' face.

"I knew you'd find me," he whispers.

Then he's slotting their lips together. Nothing else matters but the salty taste of Nines, his friend and savior. The revolution fades to the background as the human and android embarace, wrapped into each other. He loves this man with everything he is.

In the back of his mind, Gavin is aware that his job is unfinished, and he can't go back with Nines until androids have rights. But it's hard to care when the object of his desire is right here, in his arms. He's waited so long for this moment, he allows it to linger a bit long.

Nines laughs in his joy and kisses Gavin again. And again. And again. Everything they’d been through was worth it for this moment.