Caught In The Storm
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

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Detroit: Become Human (Video Game)
Upgraded Connor | RK900/Gavin Reed
Upgraded Connor | RK900, Gavin Reed, Connor (Detroit: Become Human), Hank Anderson, Tina Chen (Detroit: Become Human)
Additional Tags:
NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo 2022
Part 2 of Stormy Days
Game Ship -RK900 x Gavin Reed
Published: 2022-11-04 Completed: 2022-11-29 Words: 61,778 Chapters: 15/15

Caught In The Storm


Gavin Reed has always hated androids, and the new Connor clone that shows up at the station one day is no exception. But this one is eager, and friendly, and (unfortunately) soon assigned to work with him on a series of cases involving androids going berserk. What happens as he really gets to know and understand this 'Nines'?

Or: Made It Through The Storm, but from Gavin's perspective

(NaNoWriMo 2022)

TW: Strong language, discussions of violence and death, and gun usage


This fic as a whole is a companion to Made It Through The Storm, basically covering the events from Gavin's perspective instead. It should stand on its own, but I'm going to recommend that you read MITTS first anyway, because that's how I'm approaching this fic.

This is also a NaNoWriMo project, and as such, will very likely pass the currently-published plot in MITTS (which updates weekly on Fridays) before the month is up. We'll deal with that problem if and when it happens.

Fic and chapter titles from "Caught In The Storm" from Smash, because it's a great song also fits the "storm" theme that's apparently a thing now for this series.

This fic will update fairly randomly and sporadically throughout the month as I get things written. Like and subscribe, and be sure to hit that notifications bell for updates when I post future videos. Wait, what?

Push Me Away

Chapter Notes

Chapter One of CITS takes place during Chapters One through Three of MITTS

Gavin Reed hated androids.

It was bad enough when they first started showing up, looking way too perfect for his comfort, coiffed hair and pearly white teeth on perfectly-proportioned faces and bodies that curved in all the right places. They were artificial, and it showed.

It was worse when CyberLife made "improvements" to humanize them, small physical flaws that just screamed 'manufactured' but nevertheless allowed them to blend in seamlessly with humans. Almost seamlessly, anyway, if you ignored the glowing circle on the sides of their heads and the way they moved, talked, and acted.

Regardless of the model, they always had this smug air to them. 'We're better than you', they'd rub in his face every time he passed one. Faster, stronger, smarter. Or so they claimed.

His last bit of consolation -- they were built to be subservient and had to do what you asked -- was crushed when the deviancy cases started, and then The Revolution happened, and suddenly these perfect-looking machines suddenly had rights and could compete with him. Take his job.

Not that an android could ever do his job, of course.

He took a small bit of comfort at least in the fact that, at work, he regularly only had to see one android. And after a testy start, Connor had learned to stay in his lane. They rarely talked at the station. They worked together only when ordered to, and even then never went to scenes together. Connor submitted a document afterward with his observations and findings. Gavin used that document, along with his own (superior) skills to close cases. Connor never tried to socialize, and never tried to interfere unless ordered to by Chief Fowler.

Gavin kind of hated Fowler, too.

Gavin had always loved his view of the river from his apartment. He was not pleased when construction started on a high-rise apartment building between him and the river. He was outright pissed when the building turned out to be android-only.

Well, technically housing discrimination was illegal, but no one was misunderstanding the target audience. "LEED Certified, LED Ready," the billboards screamed, advertising small studio apartments with a shared bathroom and small kitchen on every other floor. Everyone understood those amenities were for "visitors". Everyone understood that "shared bathroom" meant a single toilet and one shower that probably only had cold water. Everyone understood what "exclusive community" meant.

Fucking androids.

Gavin had made his peace with the new state of the world over the decade that had passed since The Revolution, the irrational anger that bubbled up inside him every time he caught sight of a glowing circle on the side of an otherwise-normal individual's head fading into a general simmering dislike.

Then a second Connor had walked into his life, and it was like he was back in 2039 again.

The second Connor's name was 'Nines', and Gavin wonders if it could have possibly picked a more annoyingly machine-like name.

Its eyes are piercing in a way Connor's never were, a strikingly unnatural gray that stood out on its plastic face that was devoid of skin because of course it had to advertise to everyone in sight that it was an android, and it was better than you. The first Connor makes some excuse for it about facial generators or some other bullshit. Gavin knows better. This one had wanted to establish its role and its identity immediately, and his opinion doesn't change when it shows up again with its face properly covered.

At least those eyes looked away when Gavin stared at them. At least it knew how to do one thing right.

At least this Connor knew its place. It didn't have aspirational dreams that led it to become Police Chief and act superior to the flesh-and-blood officers who would die due to its decisions. This Connor wouldn't force him to work with another android because of 'policy' and 'rules'. It seemed almost reluctant to be assigned to work with him, and looks at him with fear as he swipes the case file to the floor and storms out of the office that shouldn't be Connor's -- and wouldn't have, if Gavin had had anything to do with it.

Still, Gavin reminds himself that the first Connor had started out similarly, and been willing to sacrifice humans for the sake of its stupid mission. It was only a matter of time before this one, too, decided it was better than him.

"Stop fuckin' around, junkyard," he yells at it when it stands, unmoving, in the snow, and Gavin wonders if the cold had frozen some of its circuits or if it was just malfunctioning. He thinks it belongs back in the scrap heap where it had come from. He kicks himself for forgetting his coat in the car that morning.

His voice seems to pull it back to reality. "Coming, Detective," it says.

At least it knew how to address him properly.

Gavin's more than a little smug -- a smirk on his face the entire time -- as he cuffs the suspect, drags it back to the station, books it, interrogates it, and writes up his report.

"Someone's happy about something," Tina says, sitting on the edge of his desk after returning from a late patrol shift.

Gavin grins at her. "Could a fuckin' android do this?"

She grins back at him. "You haven't told me what 'this' is yet, so I'm going to say 'yes'."

"Mmm fuck you," he says, turning the screen slightly so she can see. "That fuckin' murder case that Connor gave me and forced me to collaborate with that fuckin' plastic head over. I told him I didn't need that fucker."

She scans the screen quickly. "Some heck of a hunch, Gav. Why would an android kill someone and then stay at the scene for hours afterward?"

Gavin shrugs, turning the screen back to its normal position. "Who fuckin' knows? These things don't make any sense or think rationally, right? I just figured it got scared, and since no one saw it run, it seemed like it'd probably just've hid, instead."

Tina pats his arm and stands. "Connor's going to be impressed."

"Then maybe he'll leave me the fuck alone next time," Gavin mutters, putting the finishing touches on his writeup and submitting it. He looks up at Tina. "What're you up to?"

"I was just going to grab a quick, late dinner. Want to join me?"

Gavin stands and grabs his coat. "Whatever. Chase joinin' us?"

"Not tonight," Tina says, waiting for him to pull it on and log out of his computer.

"You two still a fuckin' thing?"

Tina rolls her eyes as they start walking toward the parking lot together. "You ask that every time he comes up. It's been almost four months, Gav. You'll be the first to know when he's no longer a 'fucking thing'."

"It's only been like a year since your divorce."

Tina presses her lips together, the way she always does whenever he mentions her divorce or her ex. "Just because your love life consists of some weed and a cheap hooker doesn't mean all of us prefer that."

"Hey!" Gavin objects, especially at the low blow. "I was seein' Carrie for a while."

"You two of you had sex, twice," Tina says, stopping next to Gavin's car with him and watching him search his pocket for his keys, then grinning. "Although I guess, for you, that's a committed long-term relationship."

"Yeah, well, fuck you," he says, grinning back, even though he doesn't really like this line of teasing. "Usual place?"

"The one and only," she says, patting his arm again. "Too bad restaurants aren't chicks. You could marry this one, and she clearly knows how to cook, although I suppose she'd want to continue seeing other people as well."

He gives her the finger as he climbs into his car, and watches as she walks over to hers. He tells himself he's fine on his own, and he's used to being on his own, and he doesn't need anyone else in his life.

He almost believes it.

I Can Take It

Chapter Notes

Takes place during Chapter Three of MITTS

The expression on Connor's face, when Gavin told him the case was closed, remains seared into Gavin's memory, and he wishes he could've taken a picture to frame and blow up and maybe shove back in Connor's face the next time Connor gives him a hard time about something or doubts him. It's not surprising to him that Connor sends his new lackey after him later -- armed with instructions to butter him up before the real conversation begins -- and not even Nines' endless questions and accusations can dull his good mood.


He shoves fries into his face that evening as he watches Chase whisper something into Tina's ear and she giggles.

"Wanna share with the group?" he asks, just to be a pain, because while he'd been used to seeing Tina with her ex-husband Phillip, he still wasn't used to -- and didn't like -- her with Chase. Even though, or maybe explicitly because, Chase seemed to be a good guy, and Chase actually respected Tina and her career, and Chase...

"Not really," Chase says, grinning at him and grabbing a fry from his plate.

...and Chase could hold his own against Gavin.

"What did Connor say this morning?" Tina asks, picking up her burger and taking a large bite.

"You should've seen the fuckin' look on his face." Gavin really wishes he had a picture, now. "He was fuckin' dumbfounded." He pauses. "Then he sent his fuckin' pet after me to try and question everything I said and did. Fuckin' androids."

"Tina said you closed a case in record time or something," Chase says, grabbing another fry, and Gavin smacks his hand. "You weren't eating these, were you?"

"Tina, arrest this fucker for theft," Gavin grumbles, moving his plate as far away from Chase as he can. "And yeah. Connor tried to stick his new twin on it with me to fuck everything up, but I left it in the fuckin' car."

Tina frowns. "You left Nines in the car?"

"What, you wanted me to let it go stomping all over the evidence? I bet it would've pulled the fuckin' body into little bits lookin' for clues or whatever."

"That feels unfair, Gavin," Tina says, and Gavin isn't sure why she's taking Connor's side. "Nines may be new, but he was designed for this, right?"

"Then Connor should've sent it to the scene fuckin' separately, like he used to do when we were forced to work together. I go, do my thing, then he fuckin' checks it out for himself and writes down some bullshit that I ignore, and everyone's happy."

"I'm getting the sense that you're not a fan of your new coworker," Chase says, frowning now too, and Gavin isn't sure why it would matter to him.

"I'm not a fan of you either, fuckface."

"Gavin!" Tina snaps, angry now.

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, grabbing his burger and shoving the rest of his plate toward Chase. "Eat the fuckin' fries. I'm goin' home."

He throws some money on the table, grabs his coat, and doesn't look back.

Tina doesn't text Gavin that night -- to bitch him out or otherwise -- so he's fully expecting a confrontation the next morning, and isn't surprised when she stomps up to him as he walks into the station.

"You were a fucking asshole last night," she says.

Gavin keeps walking to his desk. "Whatever. Maybe fuckin' Chase should keep out of my fuckin' business."

"Maybe you should be a little more open-minded," Tina says, following him and refusing to drop it. "I know you're not happy about Nines being here, and especially about being asked to work with him, but you would never treat a new officer with as little respect as you're treating him."

"Because it's a fuckin' machine, not a fuckin' officer," Gavin says, tossing his coat on his desk and not sure why he has to explain this to her. "And the fuckin' boss is playin' favorites because they're both fuckin' androids or it's suckin' his dick or whatever. The fuckin' thing had more responsibility on its first case as a fuckin' consultant than I had for fuckin' years on the job, and then it fuckin' questions me afterward about my fuckin' conclusions. It doesn't deserve shit from me, least of all respect."

"Then respect Chase, at least. He's not a fucking android."

"He doesn't fuckin' deserve it either."

"Reed!" That's Connor's voice, and Gavin turns to see Connor walking into the station, followed closely by Hank and Nines. "My office, now."

Nines glances over at him and looks away when Gavin meets his gaze.


"This conversation isn't over, Gavin," Tina says as he walks away from her, and Gavin waves his hand dismissively.


He storms off, following Connor into his office and slamming the door behind him.

"You have a new case, Detective," Connor says, grabbing an empty folder and waiting for some pages to spew out of the printer, and Gavin's about to ask how Connor had printed the case files before logging in.

Fucking androids.

"I already have two other cases."

"Now you have a third."

Gavin rolls his eyes, even though three cases isn't a problem for him. "What's it this time?"

"Armed robbery at a jewelry store." Connor puts the papers in the folder and holds it out toward Gavin.

Gavin doesn't take it. "Fuckin' wasting my time again? Pull the fuckin' footage and put out a fuckin' bulletin. Even video of masked robbers provides a fuck ton of stuff to go on."

"There is no footage," Connor says, his arm still outstretched. "The system was temporarily down for an upgrade at the time."

That gets Gavin's attention. "Someone must've tipped 'em off."

"I expect you will find that out very quickly, Detective, if your last case was any indication."

Gavin grabs the folder and walks out of the office without another word.

Gavin manages to put off the inevitable continuation of his conversation with Tina for the rest of the day by spending it at the store, going over the scene, taking notes from his initial conversations with the employees and witnesses, and scheduling more in-depth interviews with them at the station over the next week. It's clear to him that the job had involved an insider, but he's more than a little frustrated that no one had particularly stood out to him from his initial survey, so he's not in a good mood when he arrives back at his apartment, tossing his box of takeout on the table and heading to the kitchen for a fork.

His phone rings as he finally finds a clean fork -- and reminds himself again that he needs to start the dishwasher -- and he pulls it out to find a call from an unknown number.

He's ready to silence the call, but for some reason, the idea of yelling at a telemarketer feels appealing to him at the moment. He accepts it instead, sitting down at the table with his food. "What?"

"It's Chase," he hears from the other end, the voice giving no indication as to what Chase might be thinking.

"Tina have you doin' her dirty work now? Fuckin' tell her I don't want to talk to her, or to you, right now."

"She doesn't know I'm calling," Chase says. "I got your number from her phone."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin feels himself getting upset on Tina's behalf at the confession. "You're fuckin' snooping around on her phone?!"

"I thought we needed to talk," Chase says. "Just the two of us."

Gavin's grinning now, feeling like he finally has some dirt on the guy. "Tina's gonna rip your fuckin' dick off when she finds you've been snoopin' through her stuff. Now fuck off."

"Look. I know you don't like me," Chase says, ignoring Gavin's comment. "And, fine, I understand why. Tina is important to you. Your friendship with her is important to you. I'm the new guy. I'm a threat."

"I don't fuckin' have aspirations with her, motherfucker," Gavin sneers, hating the implication. "You wish you were a threat to me. You're nothing compared to me. And you're not fuckin' good enough for her."

"I..." Chase starts, but Gavin isn't done.

"And stop fuckin' trying to lecture me 'bout fuckin' androids. It's none of your fuckin' business."

"That's fair," Chase says, surprising Gavin with the response. "It's not my place to criticize you or your work situation or your work relationships. But this isn't about your new coworker, Gavin. This is about you, and me, and Tina."

"Yeah, well. How 'bout you fuck off out of her life, huh? She doesn't need you."

"Look, we don't have to be friends, Gavin, but I want us to at least be civil to each other. Tina is clearly very important to you, and she's important to me as well. I don't want us to put her in the middle of something that isn't her fault."

"Maybe you should've thought of that before fuckin' waltzing into her life," Gavin says, hanging up the call and stabbing the fork, with more force than necessary, into his noodles. "Fuckin' asshole."

He turns off his phone, finishing his meal in a foul mood that continues for the rest of the night.

"Fuck you!" Tina says as Gavin walks into the station the following morning, and slapping him.

She'd never done that before.

"What the fuck?!" Gavin yells, his hand moving to his cheek automatically. "What the fuck is wrong with you?!"

"I could ask you the same thing," Tina says, glaring at him. "You told off Chase last night and then wouldn't fucking pick up when I tried to call you about it."

"Yeah, well. He went through your fuckin' phone," Gavin says, pulling out his trump card. "Got my number from it. Who knows what the fuck else he did."

"I know," Tina says, and Gavin has to check that he'd actually said what he thought he had. "He told me."

Gavin continues walking to his desk, not understanding her lack of a reaction. "So he's fuckin' history now?"

She grabs his arm, forcing him to a stop and turning him toward her. "Shut up and fucking listen to me. You are my best friend, okay? But Chase is my boyfriend. You are not going to fucking make me choose between the two of you, because if you do, you're going to lose, Gavin."

The statement actually hurts more than he expects. He covers up his emotions with anger, as usual. "Great. Good to know how fuckin' little I mean to you. A good lay comes along and you fuckin' dump me to the street."

"You're still not fucking listening," Tina growls. "You're being a colossal ass right now, Gavin. To him and to me. Chase is good to me, okay? He's good to me in a way that Phillip never was. If you ruin this for me, we're not friends anymore, because friends don't fucking ruin good things for their friends."

Gavin doesn't have a response to that, watching instead in silence as Tina storms off.

Gavin mulls Tina's words over in his mind the rest of the day, even as he interviews the first of the jewelry store employees -- his temper a little more short than usual -- and starts to review external camera footage from around the area.

He's actually terrified of losing Tina. Even though there were plenty of other people at the station he thinks he gets along with -- and even though he still tells himself that he doesn't need anyone else, and is fine on his own -- Tina's the only real friend he has at work, and the only real friend he has outside of work, and he actually doesn't know what he would do if he didn't have Tina to talk to anymore.

Maybe that's why I'm so upset at Chase, he thinks after convincing himself that his feelings weren't due to jealousy, at least not in the classic sense. He doesn't want to date Tina. He doesn't want to run the risk of ruining his friendship with her given his track record with dating (or the general lack thereof), and is pretty sure he's never been interested in her in that way anyway. But he doesn't want Chase to ruin that for him either. At least with Phillip he'd always been the one that Tina would run to, and probably even preferred. He'd never felt like Phillip was a threat to him, even though Phillip had been Tina's husband.

Gavin has never been good at apologies, or admitting he was wrong, and he's pretty sure Tina's pissed off enough at him that she won't talk to him for the rest of the day anyway. He likes the thought because it gives him some time to think about what he's actually going to tell her when they do speak again.

So the last thing Gavin expects to see late that afternoon is Tina, walking up to his desk with an unusually unreadable expression.

"I'm sorry," Tina says.

"Fuckin' what?!" Gavin hadn't been expecting that.

She shakes her head. "Fine. I'm not actually sorry. But I know you're never going to apologize, and at least one of us needs to, so I'm picking up the slack because you mean too much to me for me to let this continue." She glares at him, expression serious now. "And you had better consider your next words very, very carefully, Gavin."

He swallows the Fuck off that had been on the tip of his tongue.

"Whatever," he says instead. "I'm fuckin' glad Chase is good for you. Is that what you want to hear?"

It's as much of an admission that he was wrong that he thinks he could make at the moment. Tina regards him for a bit, then nods, understanding.

"Good enough. Chase and I are grabbing dinner again tonight. You're coming."

Gavin forces himself to swallow the objection to this too. "Whatever. Get me when you're fuckin' leaving."

Tina nods and pats his arm before disappearing.

Gavin feels better already.

Make You A Promise

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapter four of MITTS

"Look, I'm sorry, okay?"

Gavin hadn't been expecting an apology from Chase, but he'll take it. "And you fuckin' should be."

"Tina already gave me an earful. I overstepped, okay?" Chase looks almost guilty now. "It's just... important to me that we get along, for her sake."

"Yeah, well, you fuckin' said that already." Gavin isn't sure why Chase is repeating this conversation.

Tina frowns. "Gavin..."

"Look," Chase tries again. "You probably think I'm a... control freak or something now."

"Thought had crossed my mind."

"Gavin!" Tina looks upset now. "Stop being an asshole for two seconds."

"...but," Chase continued, undeterred, "I had good intentions. I know that doesn't really matter, and all I'm asking is to the chance to prove it to her, and to you. You don't owe me anything, Gavin. I know that. But I'm asking for a second chance. Let me earn your respect, or at least your tolerance. That's all I'm asking."

Gavin considers Chase's words for a bit. He thinks the sentiment is genuine, at least, and he knows Tina is probably being harder on the guy in private than he's ever been -- she'd never been shy about voicing her opinion or standing up for herself. He shrugs, grabs his burger and pushes his plate of fries toward Chase. "Enjoy."

Chase looks confused, and pushes the plate back toward Gavin. "I just mean that... I understand I crossed several boundaries, both with you and with her. And I'm sorry about it. It's just that Tina means a lot to me, and you're her best friend, so it's natural that there's some resentment there. So I'd just like us to... try, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." Gavin pushes the plate back toward Chase. "Eat the fuckin' fries."

"I don't need your fries..." Chase starts, but Tina is smiling now.

"It's a peace offering," she says reaching across the table and gently patting Gavin's arm. "Gavin's saying he's sorry, too."

"Ah." A cautious smile appears on Chase's face. "Then... thank you, Gavin. And let me pay for dinner, tonight."

"Yeah, you'd fuckin' better," Gavin says, trying his best to look annoyed, but the smile on Tina's face is making it hard. "Just... treat her good, okay?"

"Always." Chase is fully smiling now. "Thank you."

Even though Gavin still doesn't like Chase, and is pretty sure he never will, they settle into a common understanding and mutual tolerance, much like their relationship before Gavin had blown up with him but with things more out in the open now.

Gavin still doesn't really like it, but Tina's happy with Chase, and Tina seems to appreciate that Gavin's making an effort for her, so he can't really complain about the situation.

His work, though, is another story. While his other cases wrap up, and new ones take their place, Gavin still struggles with the robbery, and the lack of progress is really starting to piss him off.

"A fuckin' 90 second upgrade window," he rants to Tina as they grab coffee together one afternoon. "The heist was prefectly timed. It was someone inside, but they all have excuses. One of them is fuckin' lying to me and I can't fuckin' tell who."

Tina shrugs. "I could look over the interviews for you, but that kind of social observation and deduction isn't really my thing."

"It's not really mine either. People are fuckin' stupid."

"I thought androids were stupid," Tina says, smirking over the lid of her cup as she takes a sip.

"They're even more fuckin' stupid," Gavin grumbles.

Tina stares at him for a bit, something seemingly on the tip of her tongue before she finally speaks. "Nines asked about you today."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin supposes he isn't too surprised, given it had seemed both intrigued and intimidated by him, and he'd seen it around the station after its last imputent case doing whatever it had been told to do by Connor. It had always glanced over at him when he passed, and always looked away when he glared at it.

Exactly the way it should.

Tina shrugs. "I think he didn't really like how you treated him in the last case. He wanted to know what he could do to better get along with you."

"Fuckin' nothing," Gavin says, and Tina smiles.

"That's what I told him."

Gavin nods approvingly. "Well, if fuckin' Connor assigns us together again, it can keep stayin' out of my way and things'll be fuckin' fantastic."

Nines is becoming a regular fixture at the station, to Gavin's chagrin. He takes a break from his cases one Friday to see it sitting with a plastic pumpkin full of chocolate at Yvonnie's desk, chatting with her as if they're old friends.

He isn't sure why that pisses him off so much.

He swaggers up to the two of them, says something or other about its offerings, and knocks the bucket to the floor, feeling satisfaction at the way the chocolate scatters down the aisle.

Then he stalks off to find Tina.

"Androids fuckin' everywhere," he complains as she walks in the door from a patrol shift.

She chuckles, even though he doesn't think his statement had been funny in any way. "You know, it might be easier for you if you gave Nines half a chance."

"Who said anything about that fuckin' thing?" he asks, even though he'd definitely been complaining about Nines. "I'm talkin' about my cases."

She pats his arm, humoring him. "Of course you are. Did Nines offer you some candy today?"

"It at least had the sense to not try that," he says, following her to the break room. "Why's it still here, anyway?"

"Connor's asking him to help out with some cases, I think. I don't know. If he hasn't really been interacting with you, why does it matter?"

Gavin ignores the question. "If Connor needs fuckin' help maybe he should fuckin' resign and give that job to someone who actually fuckin' deserves it."

"Gavin," Tina says, frowning at his statement as she grabs a cup of coffee. "You don't really think things were better under Jeff, do you?"

"'Course I fuckin' do. What, you'd rather have Connor around?" He grabs a cup for himself and takes a gulp, grimacing at the burning on the way down.

Tina shrugs. "My schedule is more fixed these days. Operations and reports have been streamlined. Cases and followups don't sit around for days and weeks anymore without getting properly assigned, handled, or followed up on. He doesn't seem like he's constantly overwhelmed the way Jeff was, and he doesn't lose his temper like Jeff did either. I don't know. I think Connor's doing a pretty damn good job."

"No fuckin' way," Gavin says, even though he knows she's right. Even though cases still often came in bursts -- that was the nature of police work -- he had felt like Connor had been better at gauging each person's current load and assigning the right cases to the right person. And Connor had always made time for him and his questions and concerns in a way that Fowler never had had time for, and gave him more slack than Fowler ever had.

"Uh huh," Tina says, clearly not believing him. "So tell me about your android cases."

"Connor's gettin' fuckin' pissed," Gavin says, finishing the last bit of his coffee Monday morning and tossing the empty cup in the trash. "Yeah, yeah. I know you gotta go leave for your patrol soon."

"This the same jewelry store case?" Tina asks. "I'm still waiting for Leland. He has the shits this morning, which is going to make for a lovely time in an enclosed car with the heat cranked up."

Gavin makes a face at the thought. "Yeah, still the fuckin' case. I still don't have shit. I'm gonna bring all the employees back in, I think. It's gotta be one of 'em." He pauses, then grins at her. "You should take me on your rounds today in that fucker's place."

"I'm sure you would just love that," Tina says, smiling. "Sitting in a car with me all day and blowing off this case."

"Fuck yeah. Sign me up. Maybe there'll be a fuckin' foot chase and we'll get to taze some fucker."

"Because the last chase you went on went so well," Tina says teasingly, but her expression suddenly grows serious as she looks at something behind Gavin.

He turns to see Nines standing there, looking simultaneously eager and afraid -- probably of him. "Can I get either of you a cup of coffee?" it asks, its LED yellow, and Gavin starts to tell it he's already had one before a better idea comes to mind.

"You know what? Yeah. Get me a fuckin' cup," he says, grinning at Tina as it does. Tina looks at him with confusion, clearly not following his train of thought.

He takes in the look of hope in its eyes and the cautious smile on its face as it offers him the cup. He considers throwing the coffee all over its face, but he worries that would short it out, and he doesn't want to deal with Connor reaming him out for that. Instead, he grabs the cup and throws it toward an empty corner of the room where it satisfactorily explodes all over the wall and a potted plant there.

He grabs a used napkin from the table and throws it at Nines, loving the shocked look on its face and the red glow from the side of its head now. "Clean it up, Junkyard," he sneers, liking the way the nickname or whatever it is feels now, although he wonders if he should have picked something more obviously derogatory.

It surprises him by staring at him, expression hardening in defiance and not looking away when he stares at it. That was new. "No," it says. "I have been nothing but polite to you. We may not be coworkers, but we are both doing this because we care about people. All people. The least you could do is be civil to me."

Gavin thinks he wants to throw a fucking party over how well this had worked. He wants to agree just so he can tear it back down later, at another opportune time when it'd gotten its hopes up again, but doesn't think he could deal with interacting with it as much as that would require. But he can't help but laugh anyway, turning to Tina, who doesn't seem to think Gavin's joke was nearly as funny as he had.

"Look, they made one with a spine," he says. "Fuckin' finally."

Tina just nods, automatically, but her look clearly tells him that she doesn't like this, and he figures he shouldn't string the thing along anymore. He's getting sick of its face anyway.

"I'm only gonna say this once, plastic head," he tells it, turning back to it and pushing it for good measure. It's sturdier than it looks. "You want me to be civil? Fine. Then stay out of my fuckin' way."

He storms off, feeling proud of himself for the situation, and sits back at his computer to arrange interviews with the jewelry store employees again. Tina passes a few minutes later, Officer Jones in tow.

"You were a fucking ass," she says as she walks past him and toward the parking lot, and Gavin just rolls his eyes in response.

Gavin thinks he's finally made a bit of progress on the case. The jewelry store had put up a poster asking for information, and by sheer luck, a random pedestrian had read it -- even though no one ever reads any fucking signs -- and had seen someone running away on the day of the incident. Gavin now had a rough direction of escape, and it was something.

Fine. It was basically nothing.

He's thinking he should drive out to the scene and see if he could figure anything out from that new information when Nines drops a sheet of paper on his desk.

"Fuck is this," Gavin grumbles, not bothering to look up at it as he sweeps the page off his desk and onto the floor. "Thought we had a fuckin' agreement."

"Connor requested I review your armed robbery case," Nines says, and Gavin isn't surprised by the statement, but it pisses him off anyway. "I reconstructed a potential timeline of events, and noticed something that I thought might be of interest to you."

"'Course he fuckin' did," Gavin says, waiting for it to make its point. He can't imagine what Nines could have seen that he hadn't, but he decides he should humor it anyway. After all, he didn't really have anything else to go off of.

"I noticed that the position of one of the employees at the time the gunman entered was not in line with her usual duties or the customer she was assisting at the time."

That gets Gavin's attention. "How the fuck do you know that? The cameras were down temporarily for a brief upgrade."

He listens as Nines talks about its reconstructive abilities or whatever. He doesn't really care about any of that, but Nines gives him a name, and a name is all he really needed. He starts to move to pick up the paper, but his gaze lands on Connor in his office, behind Nines' shoulder, looking at the two of them. He thinks Connor looks smug.

Connor's getting him back for the last case.

Connor's saying that it was a fluke.

Connor's saying that Gavin needs Nines' help.

Fuck Connor.

"Fuck off, prick," he tells Nines, not wanting to give it or Connor the satisfaction of having shown him up, at least to its face. It isn't until after it's walked away that he allows himself to retrieve the page and read what it says.

He hates that it's formatted in the same way as the writeups Connor had always given him in the past -- another sign of Connor's meddling in his affairs and work.

He hates that he thinks the conclusion is correct.

Gavin finishes typing up his report on the robbery case and submits it to Connor for review. He thinks he probably should have just been more aggressive with the employees the first or second time around -- after all, they had all been potential suspects. He's pretty sure he could have gotten Donna to fold even without the evidence that Nines had given him, but the evidence had made it a lot easier. Trivial, really.

Gavin hates the thought that Nines had given him what he needed to close the case. He doesn't want to admit that Nines had actually been useful. He supposes he should tell it though, especially since Tina's still giving him a hard time for how he'd treated it during their last informal interaction.

He's trying to figure out what he can say to it without actually seeming grateful when it approaches him at his desk. Its LED is yellow, as usual around him, and Gavin feels a sense of accomplishment at that, at least.

"You are going to go and interview a shopkeeper about a case of theft?"

Gavin doesn't like the feeling he gets from the thought that it's been spying on his cases. "Tomorrow. How the fuck do you know about that?"

"I have been assigned to accompany you."

"Fuck no! I'm not fuckin' working with you again. This isn't even a fuckin' android case."

"Connor has assigned me to accompany you," it says even though no one else would be assigning cases, because of course it wants to throw Connor's name around for clout. Gavin wonders how much it's worth fighting Connor on this one too, but figuring this case didn't matter enough to have that argument.

He isn't sure why the case had even been assigned to him in the first place. It didn't require a detective. Connor had said it was a reward for closing the jewelry store case, but Gavin thinks Connor is just taunting him. Easy cases that were a waste of his time weren't rewards, even if he really liked the satisfaction of catching a culprit and interrogating them afterward.

Okay, fine. Maybe it was a bit of a reward.

Fucking Connor.

Fucking androids.

In any case, maybe taking Nines along would also get Tina off his back, and that was something actually worth considering.

"Fuck off," he grows, feeling a sense of satisfaction when it does. At least it still obeys him some of the time.

He hopes it does the same tomorrow.

Break It

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapter five of MITTS

"Officer down," Gavin yells into his quickly-retrieved phone before he even thinks about it -- because Nines wasn't a fucking officer, dammit -- standing and forcing himself to stop looking at Nines' lifeless body. "Send immediate medical assistance."

Send the fucking coroner, he thinks, not wanting to think about how he'd literally seen Nines die in front of him, its eyes suddenly going lifeless and its LED going dark as Gavin had watched, blue blood continuing to seep out of the wound in its chest.

He still doesn't understand how a fucking casual interview of the shopkeeper of a corner convenience store had turned into a firefight.

"Human or android?" the dispatcher asks as Gavin walks over to the assailant, his gun still drawn and ready even though he knows he won't need it. It'd been a while since he'd had to fire from that particular angle, and he hadn't been aiming for the android's head, but he had hit dead on anyway.

"Fuckin' android," he barks back in response, kicking the corpse, which doesn't react in any way. He doesn't let himself think about how similar Nines had looked, in a heap on the ground. "Two of 'em."

He rounds the corner of the checkout desk, and the shopkeeper -- Marco -- looks up at him, eyes wide and hands covering the wound in his chest. Gavin pulls off his jacket, applying what little he remembers of his first-aid training and using it to try and staunch the bleeding, at least. "Android and human," he yells again into his phone. "Each a gunshot wound to the chest."

"Alex?" Marco asks, his voice weak, and it takes Gavin a second to realize he's referring to the assailant, and asking about it.

"Stop talkin'," Gavin growls instead of answering. "Stay with me."

Connor was going to kill him.

Gavin rides in the ambulance with Nines, just waiting for the paramedics to tell him what he already knows, and wondering what the fuck he was going to tell Connor.

So he's more than a little surprised when they tell him Nines will be fine, and only needs a bit of patching and replacement of a few non-critical components in its torso. Something about the bullet having completely missed its pump and simply severing a few Thirium tubes and grazing a processor unit.

Gavin remembers how much of an ordeal it had been, comparatively, when he'd been stabbed in the side during a chase -- his last real one, thankfully -- even though the wound had been shallow and the blade hadn't nicked any major organs and he'd simply needed to be sewn up and monitored and put on painkillers for a while.

He doesn't fucking understand androids.

He paces in the waiting room as he waits for Connor and Hank to arrive, on edge the entire time. He nearly jumps out of his skin when the doctor calls his name, telling him that Nines will be waking up soon, and asking if he wants to be there for his partner.

"It's not my fuckin' partner," Gavin grumbles, nevertheless following the doctor to the room. "Also it's only been fifteen fuckin' minutes."

"It was a simple repair," the doctor says, as if that explains everything. "Replacement of the processor and tubes and a new chest and back plate. The paramedics had already completed part of it on the way here."

Gavin really doesn't fucking understand androids.

Nines is laid out on a bed, hooked up to a monitoring computer as a nurse fusses around with a wire attached to its chest. The skin across its torso is missing, and Gavin idly wonders how difficult that will be to fix. Even though he'd seen skinless androids before -- including Nines, when they'd first met -- the situation still feels strangely uncomfortable now.

It occurs to him that he isn't sure whether Nines normally even had skin on its torso.

"He's fine, Connor," yells a voice from the hallway that Gavin recognizes as Hank's, followed shortly by footsteps, fast and hard. Connor bursts through the door, more unsettled than Gavin thinks he'd ever seen him before, murder on his face that is soon directed at Gavin.

Gavin forces himself to not look away.

"What happened?" Connor asks, his voice surprisingly level, but Gavin in no way misses the rage behind it. The bright red glow of Connor's LED doesn't help.

"He jumped in front of the fuckin' bullet," Gavin says, feeling the need to defend himself, and realizing only afterward that he'd referred to Nines as 'he'. "It wasn't my fuckin' fault!"

"Of course it wasn't. You're lucky that the bullet wasn't 2 centimeters to the left!", Connor says, yelling now. "You put him in mortal danger! You..."

"I did no such fuckin' thing!" Gavin yells back. Connor was not pinning this one on him. "Would you expect a statement for shoplifting to turn into a fuckin' firefight?! What'd you want me to do, leave him in the fuckin' car?!"

Gavin wishes he'd forced Nines to stay in the fucking car. Gavin's pretty sure he'd be lying on a hospital bed right now, instead of Nines, if he had.

Gavin actually isn't sure which alternative he'd prefer more.

"You shouldn't have..." Connor starts, glaring at him, and Gavin's surprised by Nines' voice, interrupting from the hospital bed.

"Stop it!" Nines says, practically yelling himself, and Gavin turns to see him trying to sit up.

Neither Gavin or Connor says anything as Nines stares at them, struggling against the nurse who seems to be pushing him back onto his back. Gavin turns back to Connor, who's still glaring at him, and Gavin can't handle the misdirected blame anymore.

He storms out of the room.

Gavin questions Marco once he's allowed access, part of his mind thinking how unfair it was that Nines' had been back to normal less than an hour after the shooting, but Marco had months of recovery ahead of him.

Fucking androids.

"How did you know the assailant?" he asks, one eye on the nurse sitting in the corner, monitoring them.

"Alex and I were friends," Marco responds, looking saddened as he answers. Gavin figures that meant someone had told him that 'Alex' was dead. "We've known each other for years."

"Any recent conflicts between the two of you?" Gavin asks, double-checking that his recording device was functioning properly. He still didn't trust new technology, although he has to admit that having a video recording from the field was an improvement over the old audio-only devices.

"No," Marco insists. "Alex had fallen on hard times, lately. He lost his job and got evicted from his apartment. I offered him a job at the store, but he..."

"Nothing that would cause it... him to want to shoot you?" Gavin asks, interrupting because he knows the nurse will make him leave shortly, and he wants to maximize his time.

"Nothing," Marco says. "He would never hurt me intentionally. Something or someone had to have made him do this." He's confident in the statement, and Gavin knows he means it wholeheartedly.

Gavin's mind jumps to another interview he'd recently done -- that one an interrogation -- and how that assailant had insisted that it hadn't meant to harm, much less kill, its human victim.

"Who might this 'someone' be?" he asks, wanting to be thorough, even as he knows instinctively that this line of questioning isn't useful. "Any shady business that 'Alex' might have gotten involved in?"

"Fuck's he doin' here?" Gavin asks as Tina moves over in her side of the booth and Chase slides in next to her, giving her a quick kiss on the lips. "Thursdays are our fuckin' night."

"He had a rough day," Tina says, taking Chase's hand on the table and squeezing it, and Gavin wants to barf at the sight of it. "And I asked if he could join us and you said yes."

"I was being fuckin' sarcastic," Gavin grumbles. "What's a fuckin' rough day in real estate, anyway? Your fuckin' rich clients get denied a permit to build another luxury high rise by the river?"

Chase ignores Gavin's comment and grabs a menu from the holder on the table. "The family I'm working with has been having trouble buying a house. They were pre-approved for a loan a while back, but their offers have been rejected for every house they actually like. They got another rejection today that was hitting them particularly hard, so I consulted with our lawyer to see if there were any anti-discrimination laws the sellers might be violating, but she told me that we had no proof that the rejections are because the family is androids, even though..."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin interrupts, scoffing. "Androids can't have fuckin' families."

"Gavin," Tina says, her eyes narrowing. "Just because you don't like androids..."

"They can't have fuckin' kids."

"Phillip and I never had kids," Tina says. "Fine, bad example. Gay couples can't have kids unless they adopt or do something like surrogacy. Jay and Will at the station don't have kids. They're still a family."

"Yeah but androids can't fuckin' reproduce," Gavin points out. "Thank fuckin' god."

"Children are not necessary for a family," Chase says, staring at Gavin now. "And even if they were, plenty of android couples adopt human children. It's not like there's any particular shortage."

"It's fuckin' child abuse is what it is," Gavin grumbles.

"Continue telling us about your case today," Tina says, changing the subject. "You said Nines got shot?"

"Your android partner?" Chase asks, looking a little shocked as he sets the menu down.

"It's not my fuckin' partner," Gavin objects, really not liking the idea. "And yeah. Went to take a statement for some fuckin' worthless case today and some android there went berserk and pulled out a fuckin' gun and shot the fuckin' shopkeep. Then it turned the gun on me, and fuckin' Nines jumped in front of the bullet."

"He saved your life?!" Chase says, definitely shocked now. "After how you've been treating him?"

"It did no such fuckin' thing," Gavin says. "It woulda missed anyway. It went and got itself shot for no fuckin' reason, and then I fuckin' ruined my favorite coat with the fuckin' shopkeep's blood. Yeah, yeah, the shopkeep's gonna be fine."

"Is Nines okay?" Tina asks, looking concerned about Nines.

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Great to know you don't care that I almost got shot today."

"You said they would've missed anyway," Chase says, a hint of a smile on his face, and Gavin wants to wipe it off for him.

"Yeah, it's fuckin' fine," Gavin says. "Fixed up in like 30 minutes or whatever from a fuckin' gunshot wound to the chest. Fuckin' androids."

"Well, I'm glad everyone's okay," Tina says, squeezing Chase's hand again. "Want to hear about the druggie I had to arrest today?"

Gavin rolls his eyes, but lets her share. He knows she's changing the subject for his benefit. He isn't sure why his mind keeps returning to the image of Nines, lying on the floor in the shop with blood pouring out of its chest.

He tells himself it isn't due to gratitude, or concern.

As much as Gavin hates having to shoot someone -- or something, in this case -- he thinks he probably hates the paperwork that follows more. He throws the finished pages down on Connor's desk, watching as Connor thumbs through them, his light glowing yellow as he thinks.

"You have not mentioned what occurred before the suspect shot Nines," Connor says, setting the pages down and staring up at Gavin.

"I was on my fuckin' phone," Gavin growls, not liking the implication. "And you pulled fuckface off the fuckin' case and told me not to fuckin' talk to it. Why don't you ask him what happened? Or pull the fuckin' security footage."

The 'him' slips out again, and Gavin wonders what that means. He tells himself it's because he's confusing Nines with Connor, and he'd gotten used enough to Connor over the years that he now saw him as some approximation of a person, as much as he wishes otherwise.

And he's pretty sure Connor wouldn't tolerate being referred to as 'it', even though Connor tolerates a lot of other stuff that Gavin throws his way.

"So you are admitting that you were derelict in your duties, allowing yourself to be distracted in a potentially dangerous situation."

Gavin can feel the rage welling up inside him, and he tries his best to temper it. This wasn't something he was going to tolerate. "Get it through your fuckin' plastic skull, fuckface. It wasn't a fuckin' dangerous situation! It was a fuckin' interview that you fuckin' sent me on for no good reason. Me and him. Any fuckin' officer could have handled the questioning. You assigned it to the case. You put the fucker in danger, not me. So stop blamin' everyone but yourself!"

Connor doesn't physically react to the accusation, but his LED turns red and Gavin knows it hit home, and he feels a small sense of accomplishment at it.

"Remove yourself from my office," Connor says, tersely. "Immediately."

Gavin is more than happy to comply, feeling like he won that particular exchange.

Gavin avoids Nines around the station, ignoring it when it tries to make conversation and walking away when it tries to confront him. He tells himself it's because Connor had ordered him to stay away -- and honestly, that's probably most of it, and makes a good excuse anyway -- but he also thinks he feels guilty, somehow, for what happened.

Fucking Connor, he thinks to himself as he calls up the security camera footage to review again. This is his all fault. I didn't do anything wrong. Fuck him for making me feel like I did.

"Detective Reed." A voice interrupts his thoughts, and he looks up expecting to see Nines, but it's Connor standing there instead.

"Fuck you want?" he asks, pausing the footage. "I'm in the middle of somethin'."

"You are off the case," Connor says, dropping a file folder on Gavin's desk. "You have a new assignment."

It takes Gavin a second. "Fuckin' what?!"

"The finding is that your response with lethal force was justified in the situation, but your proximity to the case leaves you unable to be objective in the matter. Protocol dictates that..."

"Fuck you! And fuck protocol!" Gavin yells, standing as aggressively as he thinks he could, not caring anymore than Connor was his superior officer.

Acting superior officer, he reminds himself.

"Your language is also unacceptable in a work environment," Connor says, not reacting in any way to Gavin's stance or his glare even though his LED is yellow now. "Particularly toward a superior officer."

Gavin can practically hear the conceit and smugness he knows is there. "You're a fuckin' inferior officer," Gavin spits. "This is my fuckin' case and you know it! Stop projecting your guilty conscience on to me. The fact that the fucker almost fuckin' died is on you, fuckhead. Stop givin' me shit for it!"

"I will not warn you again..." Connor starts, and Gavin has had enough of the bullshit.

He throws a punch that Connor seems to be expecting, and Gavin idly wonders if this had been Connor's goal all along as he easily blocks it, holding Gavin's fist in the air inches from his face.

He'd forgotten how strong androids were.

"Detective Gavin Malcolm Reed, you are immediately suspended from duty without pay for a period of no less than two weeks. Upon conclusion of your leave, your continued employment with the DPD will be re-evaluated at a disciplinary hearing. You will immediately..."

"Fuck off," Gavin says, pulling his hand away, throwing his badge at Connor's feet, and slamming his gun onto his desk as he grabs his coat. "I'm fuckin' going."

"And then he fuckin' suspended me," he mutters into his phone, pacing around his living room. "Fuck him."

"You shouldn't have punched him, Gavin," Tina says from the other end, and Gavin hates how he feels like she's taking Connor's side.

"Yeah, well. He's had it out for me from day one of his fuckin' promotion... no, since he fuckin' showed up here. Fucker deserved it. I just fuckin' regret not landin' the damn thing."

"Android reflexes, huh?" Tina says, and Gavin can hear the smirk on her face over the phone.

"Fuck you," he says, but somehow calmer now. "What's happenin' with the case?"

"I don't know. Do you want me to check for you?"

Gavin wants to tell her 'no'. He wants to take advantage of the leave and tell Connor to go screw himself with the case, and any other cases he'd send Gavin's way. He wants to tell Tina that Connor isn't getting any free work out of him while he's suspended. He wants to change the subject to anything other than work, right now.

He stares out of his window at the android-only apartment building, wondering how many androids were living inside, and what could happen to them -- and other innocent humans -- if his hunch was right, and something more malicious was going on.

"Yeah," he says instead. "Anything you can find out."

Gavin looks up from his hastily scribbled notes at his phone as it rings. He hadn't made much progress over the past week-and-a-half, particularly given the lack of direct access to recordings from the case, but he'd gotten a copy of the autopsy report from Tina -- android autopsies really shouldn't be called 'autopsies', he thinks, since they were a mechanical breakdown rather than a surgical one -- that hadn't told him anything useful, and he'd written down what he remembered from the witness interviews he'd already conducted, so he still feels like he's gotten more done than he would have expected.

But it still felt like he had gotten nowhere, and was no closer to an answer as to what had happened.

The calling number is the station, and he picks it up. "Fuckin' what, Tina?" he asks, grabbing his pencil again. "Got something new for me?"

"Detective," the voice says, and Gavin briefly thinks he's speaking to Nines until he reminds himself that Nines doesn't have his number, and would have no reason to call him even if it did.

If he did.

If it did.

"The fuck ya want, Connor?"

"Your suspension is over, effective immediately," Connor says, his voice betraying no emotion or suggestion of what he's thinking.

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin wonders if Tina had managed to make Connor come to his senses, or at least yelled at him on Gavin's behalf until he'd relented. "So when's the fuckin' disciplinary hearing?"

"There will be no hearing," Connor says, and Gavin is more than a little surprised that Connor isn't taking any opportunity he can to belittle him, and maybe get rid of him. "I have removed the incident from your record, and your leave has been recorded as a short-term unpaid personal leave. You may return to duty whenever you are ready. The case with Marco and Alex will be waiting for you when you do."

"What's your fuckin' game here, Connor?" he growls, sure that Connor is up to something. "Just fuckin' with me for your own fuckin' sick purposes?"

He can hear Connor sigh. "Detective, despite what you may believe, my purpose is not to cause you undue grief or hardship. I do not 'have it out for you'. I am responsible for the station, its large contingent of officers, and the continued operations of the DPD. You are not that important. But right now, there is some urgency with this particular case, and you are the person most qualified to handle it."

Gavin wants to dig further, but doesn't want to push his luck, given how exasperated Connor sounds over the phone. "Sure. Whatever. I'll be back tomorrow."

"I look forward to seeing you then, Detective," Connor says, polite again, and then the line goes dead.

Gavin calls Tina.

We Know

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapters six and seven of MITTS

"I still don't believe you," Gavin tells Tina over morning coffee, in a relatively-empty station. He'd arrived early to get started on the case again before realizing that he still didn't have systems access, and would have to wait until Connor re-enabled his credentials.

Tina rolls her eyes. "Like I said, I'd love to take credit for this, but I didn't have anything to do with it. Maybe Connor realized he was being an ass."

"Yeah, like any fuckin' plastic heads would ever admit they were wrong about something."

"How's Nines?" Tina asks, suddenly, maybe following from the mention of 'plastic heads'.

"Fuckin' what?"

"Have you spoken to him since the shooting?"

"Fuck no." Gavin angrily gulps his coffee, not sure why Tina would be bringing the android up now. "Why the fuck would I?"

Tina shrugs. "Just asking. I watched the security footage, when you asked me to follow Alex's movements before the shooting. I watched you afterward. You were worried about Nines."

"I was fuckin' not," Gavin objects. "You're not gonna give me shit for this too, are you? It's not my fuckin' fault it jumped in front of the fuckin' bullet."

"I know," Tina says, patting his arm. "None of this is your fault, and maybe that's why you feel responsible."

"I don't feel fuckin' responsible," Gavin says, angry that Tina is on him now too, turning away from her and happening to catch Connor walk into his office. "Fuck off. Now excuse me while I get my fuckin' badge back."

"Go kiss ass," Tina says, with a smile, and Gavin rolls his eyes.

Nines is waiting at Gavin's desk when Gavin leaves Connor's office, because of course it is, and Gavin suddenly feels angry at it for what had happened to him over the past couple weeks.

It didn't help that Nines looked uncannily like Connor, and Gavin still blamed Connor for everything.

"I thought you fuckin' died!" he yells, stomping up to Nines and socking it in the face, focusing all of his pent-up anger -- and maybe a bit of guilt -- into his fist.

Nines flinches in a way Connor hadn't, and doesn't block in the way Connor had, but doesn't seem fazed by the punch itself, even as Gavin suddenly discovers that Nines' face was a lot more solid than he would have expected.

"I missed you," Nines says, looking at Gavin with a gentle expression -- its LED still blue -- as Gavin clutches his hand in pain, and it's so unlike the reaction he expects that he does a double-take.

Gavin also realizes this is the first time Nines' LED had been blue around him, and the thought bugs him for some reason. He doesn't like the idea that Nines isn't afraid of him anymore.


It continues smiling at him. "I missed you. The station felt... empty without you."

Tina had expressed the same sentiment to him already, but he likes the thought that someone -- something -- that he doesn't get along with had also seen what he brought to the station. But he shakes the thought aside -- Nines is in his way, and Nines doesn't matter. "Fuck off," he mutters, not really wanting to talk anymore and eager to return to the case.

"I require your assistance with the case..." it starts, and Gavin doesn't need to hear the rest. How dare it.

"That's my fuckin' case," he growls. "And I don't need your fuckin' help with it."

Nines makes some other excuse, but Gavin isn't really listening anymore. He really doesn't want to work with it, especially given its arrogance in assuming it was on the case now -- much less that this was its case -- just because it had gotten shot. But Nines had been paying more attention than Gavin had before the shooting, and Gavin knows that Connor at least sometimes saw things he didn't, even if he was loathe to admit so. He tells himself he should hear what Nines has to say, or at least interview it, before telling it to fuck off again.

"Whatever," he says, dragging it to his desk even though it seems eager to help. "Then come here, sit down, and make yourself useful."

Gavin finds Nines to be remarkably competent, if signficantly green and naive. Its analysis wanders and it focuses on irrelevant topics, and it takes a while to follow all of the notes that Gavin had taken during the break. But it's eager, and clearly intelligent, and has what could almost pass for a sense of humor, and seems to be sufficiently deferential to him that he no longer feels threatened by its presence.

What really surprises him is when it suggests, out of the blue, that the case was connected to the previous one where Gavin had left it in the car and then closed the entire case on his own that evening. He thinks he should be upset that Nines is, once again, questioning his conclusions. But instead he just feels validated that Nines, too, saw a link even though there was no evidence pointing that direction.

Validated, and maybe a little worried. At least, worried enough to run with the idea.

Gavin refocuses them on finding common links and developing theories instead.

Chase joins Tina at dinner again that Thursday night -- Tina says she'd outright invited him, this time around -- and Gavin decides that objecting wouldn't be worth his time. Gavin sees enough of Tina on her own at the station, and she doesn't seem to be dragging Chase along everywhere with her yet, and the guy really does seem to make her happy, so Gavin lets the continued intrusion into their Thursday arrangements slide.

But he still isn't happy about it.

"How's your case with Nines going?" Chase asks as he grabs a menu. "Tina says you two are working more closely together now."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Fuck off, Tina. What'd you and Junkyard chat about today, anyway?"

She just smiles at him. "Don't change the subject, Gavin. You two are getting along now. Why don't you invite him to join us here sometime?"

"Is that why you're fuckin' inviting Chase here? So we can fuckin' get along?"

Tina shrugs, but smirks at him. "Don't change the subject, Gavin. You could talk to Nines more casually, outside of a work context, over dinner."

"No fuckin' way. I see enough of him 'cause of this fuckin' case. 'Sides, he doesn't eat."

"'He'?" Chase asks with a grin, and Gavin wants to punch him.

"Fuck off," he says instead. "Where's the fuckin' waitress?"

Tina mouths 'He' at Chase and giggles, and Gavin really doesn't like that the two of them are ganging up on him now. He wonders if bringing Nines along would actually help even the odds, or if he -- it; whatever -- would just take Tina's side, too.

Probably that.

Really though, despite the case making less progress than he would have preferred, Gavin's found Nines to be easier to get along with than he would have liked, or maybe just than he expected. Connor had always been a hard-ass, even when he'd first arrived on assignment from CyberLife all those years ago. Connor always stood up straight, never smiled, and walked with purpose everywhere he went. Connor represented, and was, everything Gavin hated -- mechanical, authoritative, clean, dutiful, confident, focused, and unemotive.

And Nines... wasn't. Nines always seemed almost inwardly focused all the time, always looking like he was trying to make himself invisible despite his large size and stature. Nines smiled. Nines laughed. Nines got annoyed and frustrated like Gavin did, and showed it. Nines took time to enjoy little things and lit up at them. Nines felt more like a person than Connor ever had, even though Gavin had really only known the android for a week.

He chalks it up to their models -- maybe CyberLife had decided to further humanize the RK900 series, and he thinks he's glad The Revolution had happened when it did if that was the case -- but still can't resist asking about it later as he studies a working Nines, engrossed in watching security footage from the shop.

"We are different individuals," Nines says, simply, as if it explains everything.

Gavin doesn't understand, and like many things in his immediate life that he doesn't understand, he finds himself wanting to learn more about the topic.

Maybe working with Nines wasn't so bad after all.

Nines makes the first potential breakthrough early the following week, identifying a connection between the two cases in the form of an unofficial android 'chop shop' that had performed off-the-record repairs on both assailants. Gavin thinks he's almost proud of Nines, and probably would be if he wasn't pissed off at himself for having missed it. He tells himself he had just blocked the first android's injury out of his mind because of how he'd disliked how Nines had originally brought it to his attention.

But it turns out to be a dead end. Gavin honestly wasn't too surprised by that outcome given the nature of the repairs, and Nines' unofficial interview with the purveyor confirms that she hadn't done anything other than the repair of non-processing and non-data components, with a small bottle of Thirium 310 thrown in for good measure to replenish both androids' low levels -- low Thirium levels were not unusual among poorer androids, who both sold portions of it to produce red ice, and also could not typically afford to top themselves off afterward. Her account of the first repair, at least, aligns fully with the first android, who had been active the entire time and had provided a copy of his memory from the procedure.

Still, he wonders if the purveyor been lying. Nines hadn't seemed willing to directly access her memories, even though Gavin knows that Connor had done the same thing in the past with other androids, from conversations with Hank. Gavin wishes he could've convinced Nines to do it anyway, just to make sure. But given the findings, he ultimately files the shop away as a coincidence, especially given how many other poor androids would have likely sought out similar shops, and a presumed lack of such shops in the area.

Nines also makes the second breakthrough, although Gavin thinks he deserves most of the credit for this one. Nines draws a connection between TV screens at the two sites after one of Gavin's offhand comments about Markus, and Gavin confirms that both screens had been showing an interview with Markus at the time of the incidents. He isn't sure what it means, but he's looking forward to the opportunity to cuff the bastard and yell at him for a few hours anyway.

If only he could convince Connor.

He storms out of Connor's office and back to his desk, pushing his chair with more force than necessary and feeling a bit of satisfaction at the noise it makes as it crashes into the edge of his desk.

"Detective Reed?" It's Nines' voice, and Gavin spins around to see Nines walking toward him, looking nervous but surprisingly determined. His LED is yellow, and Gavin isn't surprised that he's troubled too, although he can't help but think his own LED would be red right now if he had one.

"People are gonna fuckin' die," he spits, pulling his chair out and sitting into it heavily. "We're onto somethin' here, Junkyard. How dare Connor pull the case out from under us."

"It's not his decision," Nines says, and Gavin should have expected Nines to jump to his brother's defense. At least, 'brother' had been the word he'd used on a whim in the heat of the moment, but as he thinks on it now, it feels like an appropriate description for the relationship between Connor and Nines.

"Sure, but he probably didn't fuckin' fight it in any way. Bosses told him to shut it down and hand it off to the fuckin' feds, and he just goes along with it. The feds aren't gonna fuckin' care about two berserk androids. They're not gonna do anything with the case. More people are gonna fuckin' die."

Nines looks like he wants to disagree, but just nods, his LED flickering for a moment as he seems to think something over. "Let's go see Markus," he says, and Gavin's sure he hadn't heard properly.

"Fuckin' what?"

"I said we should go see Markus. You believe that this case is important. I agree. You believe that Markus is a common link. I agree. Speaking with him is the next logical step. Let's go speak with Markus."

"Your fuckin' ears must be broken, Junkyard. Did you not hear Connor say that we were off the case?"

Nines smiles, almost mischievously, looking so unlike Connor now that all Gavin can do is stare at him. "Since when did you care what Connor says?"

Gavin scoffs. "Since when does a fuckin' plastic head do anything but obey orders? We're gonna get in so much fuckin' trouble if he finds out, Junkyard. Even if we do this unofficially."

Nines seems undeterred. "You called Connor my brother. If you believe that, then you also believe that Connor would not be as harsh on me if he were to find out we disobeyed his order."

"Or he'll fuckin' kick your ass even worse." Gavin knows his own brother would take advantage of any opportunity to belittle or chastise him, even though Gavin was the older one. And Gavin would immediately do the same. "I'm probably already on fuckin' thin ice after punching the fucker."

Nines just shrugs. "I am going to go see Markus. You are welcome to join me, or I will take a cab on my own."

Gavin's impressed, although he'll never admit it. "Fine," he grumbles, grabbing his coat. "Let's go see fuckin' Markus."

Nines readily follows, and Gavin can't help but look back at the android as he does. Nines smiles at him, softly, his LED glowing blue now even though they were about to do something professionally reckless.

Gavin thinks again about how different Nines is from Connor. He thinks about how Connor would probably cuff him to his desk if he tried something like this on his own. He thinks about how much he's actually enjoyed working with Nines on the case. He thinks about how much Nines seems to enjoy working with him too. He thinks about how no other android he's ever seen or interacted with ever felt quite as human as Nines does to him, right now. He thinks that, if Nines had been human, maybe they could become friends.

He doesn't like that thought.

Gavin calls ahead, as a professional courtesy, even though he doesn't think Markus deserves such a thing. He wonders if they should have just shown up unannounced instead when they're met outside their car by a female android who glares at him with disdain.

Gavin's more than a little eager to get his hands (metaphorically) on Markus, and his exchange with this North doesn't go well, but he brings up the fact that Nines had been shot by such a berserk android, and the android population as a whole could be next, and that seems to work.

He doesn't like that it makes him feel guilty again. He still doesn't like how Connor had blamed him for it. He still doesn't like how differently he thinks of Nines and Connor now.

So he's not in a good mood when they finally walk in to Markus' apartment, and Gavin briefly forgets he isn't officially here to interrogate the android, and the resulting conversation really doesn't go well. He realizes how much he's screwed up when Markus stands and asks them to leave, and it's only Nines' intervention that calms the android back down again.

Gavin doesn't really know how he feels when Nines tells Markus that Gavin cares about androids as well as humans -- that Gavin had waited as long as possible to shoot Alex to the point that he'd almost been shot himself, that Gavin cares what happens to everyone if their hunch about this case is correct.

No, he does know. He's embarrassed, impressed, and also a little concerned that Nines now sees through his fucking facade and understands his motivations in some ways better than he had understood them himself, in the same way Tina often does.

He lets Nines conduct the questioning in his stead, following along as best he can even as his mind wanders away from the topic at hand, and is largely unsurprised that Markus seems to have nothing to do with the cases. It isn't until Nines voices another of Gavin's unspoken thoughts, as they walk back to the car, that he really snaps back to reality.

"Are we wrong? Maybe there is no connection between the cases."

"There's a connection, and that connection is the repair shop. And Markus," he starts, not wanting to give up. He wants to close the cases properly. He wants to know that he isn't missing part of a bigger picture that will put others at risk. But he knows there's nothing else they can do at the moment. "But connections can be... coincidences."

Nines looks like he wants to disagree with the statement, but can't, as they get in the car and drive back to the station.

"What's next, Detective Reed?" Nines asks after a while, and Gavin isn't sure. But he is sure that he no longer likes the formality of being addressed as 'Reed'. It feels unfair, somehow, to someone who had been behind him the entire way the past few weeks. Who was literally risking his (potential) career on backing him on a potential lead, disobeying a direct order to do it.

"You can just call me Gavin, Junkyard," Gavin says, shrugging, instead of answering the question. If he answers the question, the case will be over. They'd been told to drop it and Markus had been their last real shot at a breakthrough that could convince Connor to re-open the case for them.

He wonders why the prospect of it ending matters to him so much. He wonders why he's having so much trouble letting this particular case go. He wonders if it's because he'd no longer be working so closely with Nines.

He doesn't like that thought either.

Gavin throws himself into his other cases -- none of which are terribly interesting or difficult -- and pushes aside the nagging concern that they'd missed something. But as the weeks go by, and no other incidents occur, he starts to feel like maybe he and Nines had both been wrong after all. He starts to feel better about their conclusions.

His feelings on the subject of Nines, on the other hand, were a different matter. Gavin finds himself almost missing Nines' exuberance, diligence, and eagerness. He's realizing it'd been a long time since he'd worked with anyone like that. The other detectives were older and more seasoned, and he hadn't had a reason to really interact with the newer officers at the station for a while.

"You miss Nines, don't you?" Tina asks with a knowing smile as Gavin chews his burger, on a rare Thursday where Chase hadn't joined the two of them, off closing some house sale or something.

"Fuck no," Gavin says, with his mouth full. He doesn't think he misses Nines as much as misses the drive he saw in the android. The fact that he had looked up some of Nines' cases in the system, just to see how he was working on, was proof of that.


Tina shakes her head. "Uh huh. I don't believe you."

"All I said is that he brought me coffee today and then I chucked it. Unintentionally."

"And then you felt bad about it," Tina says, taking a bite of her own burger.

"Yeah, well. It made a fuckin' mess."

"You didn't seem to care about that last time."

Gavin takes another bite of burger and gives her the finger. "Fuck off."

Tina seems undeterred. "I think he missed you, too," she says with a smile before thankfully changing the subject.

The following afternoon, Nines shows up at Gavin's desk again, holding a coffee cup with eyes full of hope and LED shining a cautious yellow. Gavin doesn't blame him, after what had happened the previous two times Nines had brought him coffee.

"I brought you an empty cup, this time," Nines says, and Gavin rolls his eyes, grabbing a chair for Nines and picking up the cup only to find that it was, as promised, empty.

Nines offers to accompany him to the break room instead, and Gavin feels insulted by the offer, in addition to the fact that afternoon coffee in the break room was his time with Tina. He reflexively declines before Tina's words come back to him, and he thinks that, maybe, Tina had been right. Maybe Gavin had missed Nines, at least a little.

"C'mon," he tells Nines instead, standing and walking toward the break room. Nines seems more than happy to accept, his light turning blue as he falls into step behind Gavin.

It's a bit earlier than his usual break time with Tina, and Jones is in the break room, chatting with Yvonnie. Jones looks up at the two of them as they walk in, and grins, and Gavin immediately remembers why he hates the man.

"How's your new pet, Reed?" Jones yells toward them, and Gavin knows better than to engage with him. Neither of them were good at backing down once committed, and the last time they'd fought, it had quickly turned physical, and they'd both been suspended for a week.

However, Jones had always had a soft spot for the ladies, so Tina and Yvonnie were two of the only people at the station he actually got along with. And fortunately for Gavin, Yvonnie always seemed to have everyone's back -- especially Nines'.

This time is no exception, and she hits Jones' arm as Gavin walks past. He ignores their bickering, muttering to himself as he grabs a cup and sticks it into the coffee machine.

He really doesn't like the thought that people had started thinking of Nines as his 'pet'. That he's somehow both responsible for Nines and actually cares about him. That Nines is following him around like some lovesick puppy just because Gavin had showed an ounce of compassion for him.

"Looks like he's got you on a short leash already, Reed!" Jones starts again before Gavin hears Yvonnie dragging him out of the room, and Gavin's thankful for it, because he doesn't think he'd be able to hold back his anger this time.

"I apologize if I have made anything difficult for you," Nines says, maybe sensing Gavin's irritation, as Gavin grabs the cup and heads to the newly-abandoned table.

Gavin doesn't dare look at Nines' face, and shrugs. He'd honestly been expecting something like this, given the whispers around the station concerning his 'abrupt' change of heart. He isn't sure he'd call it that, but he wonders if there'd been some truth to Tina's words after all, and that pisses him off.

He doesn't miss Nines, dammit.

"Why are you here?" he asks, more aggressively than he'd intended.

Nines looks surprised, seemingly searching for an excuse and eventually landing on 'small talk'.

Gavin could work with small talk. He was used to talking about his work with Tina, and he thinks Nines wouldn't be that different. Better, maybe, since Nines probably wouldn't give him a hard time about every difficulty he encountered in his cases.

He's telling Nines about an assault case he'd been working on when he spots Tina, smiling at him from the hallway, behind Nines' shoulder. He expects her to join them, or at least to object that afternoon coffee breaks were their time, but she just winks at him instead and disappears down the hallway again.

He isn't sure what that means.

"You and Nines seemed like you were having a nice chat today," Tina says, appearing next to Gavin's desk just as he was thinking of finishing up for the day.

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Whatever. Fucker just came up and wanted to talk about fuckin' nothing. I should've left him there and gotten you. We could've gotten coffee at that shop around the corner."

Tina pats his arm. "Nah. I'm glad you two are getting along. Just don't forget about me, okay?"

"I could never forget about you," Gavin says before thinking better of it. "Wanna get some food?"

"Sure. Do you care if Yvonnie joins us?"

"Whatever." Gavin doesn't mind her presence in general. She's one of the few people at the station he thinks he really gets along with. "Chase joining us?"

"He has Andrew tonight," Tina says, and Gavin remembers that Andrew is Chase's son, who had come up in conversation the previous week.

"I still can't believe you're dating a fuckin' dad," Gavin says, grabbing his coat. "You never wanted kids."

Tina shrugs. "I never thought I'd be best friends with an abrasive jerk, either," she says with a grin. "But here we are."

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles even though he really likes the sentiment. He follows Tina toward the door. "Where are we goin'?"

"Yvonnie says there's a new Thai place she's wanted to try."

"Whatever. Send me the fuckin' address."

"Thank you for the conversation today," says a voice from behind them. Gavin turns to see Nines, walking with Connor and Hank toward the same door. Nines' LED is blue, although Connor's is a more guarded yellow, and Gavin thinks he understands why.

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Thanks for the fuckin' empty cup."

Nines seems like he's going to say something else, but he just nods, and continues following Connor and Hank past them.

"Shut it, Chen," Gavin says, knowing that Tina is grinning at him without even having to look. "Let's just get fuckin' food."

Nines starts attempting to make afternoon coffee a regular thing, and Gavin feels almost bad that he has to decline Nines' offers most of the time. He really doesn't want to deal with both Tina and Nines together, and besides, he still feels like afternoon coffee is primarily his time with Tina.

"Hey," she says, showing up at his desk one afternoon.

"Coffee?" he asks, already standing from his seat.

"Sure, but I want to run something by you."

"You're not gonna fuckin' propose to Chase already, are you?"

Tina rolls her eyes. "No. Connor asked if I wanted to switch my primary patrol shift to afternoons instead of mornings. He not-so-subtly indicated that it'd mean you and I could get lunch together most days."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin isn't sure he understands.

"Instead of coffee," Tina says. "It'd leave you free in the afternoons to get coffee with Nines."

Gavin understands now. "Of fuckin' course. Fucker wants to rearrange schedules to make his fuckin' brother happy. What if I don't want to have coffee with fuckin' Junkyard? Who, by the way, doesn't even drink coffee so the entire thing is just fuckin' stupid."

Tina shrugs. "Then say so, and I'll tell Connor no."

"It's not very fuckin' professional to rearrange work schedules for social reasons," Gavin mutters, walking toward the break room as Tina follows him. "How does he know this is a thing, anyway?"

"Not much escapes Connor's notice around here," Tina says, smiling even though Gavin would not consider the statement a positive one. "And he and Nines probably talk."

"Yeah, well. Fuck Nines. He's fuckin' impeding on my time with you. Afternoon coffee is our thing."

"Then I'll tell him no," Tina says. "And it can keep being our thing."

Gavin thinks for a moment. "No. If you're okay with lunch instead, maybe this would be good. You'd no longer have to do fuckin' morning rounds with Jones, too."

"Uh huh," Tina says, grinning at him now. "That's the only reason, I'm sure."

"Fuck off," he says, shoving her gently.

Despite himself, he's looking forward to having more time with Nines.

The Way It Goes By Now

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapter eight of MITTS

"You can fuckin' download your analyses and stuff to the system, right?" Gavin asks Nines as they sit back down at Gavin's desk. Connor had never done such a thing for the cases they'd worked on together, but Gavin was pretty sure that was because Connor, for some reason, preferred printed documents for most things. Something about them being 'safe against cyber attacks, computer issues, or other technological glitches'.

Gavin supposes he can appreciate the sentiment. Connor had been activated explicitly to deal with 'glitches', and his distrust of computer systems now as a result was understandable. And Gavin had never been a fan of new technology anyway, especially given the newest technological breakthrough had been fucking androids.

"I can," Nines says, and his LED turns yellow and blinks briefly before returning to its regular blue. "You should have the information now."

"You'd better have gotten everything," Gavin grumbles, logging in to his computer and opening the files Nines had sent. "Scanned all the shit and noted anything important. I didn't do anything more than a cursory look myself 'cause I was fuckin' trusting you with it and interviewin' the witnesses instead."

"Everything is there, Gavin," Nines says, looking confident about his response. "You can trust me."

Gavin thinks he isn't too surprised that there had been a third incident -- a third android-on-human murder -- that had involved a TV screen showing a clip of Markus, even though he feels sick to his stomach at the thought that they had been right, after all, and he had missed something. They had missed something. They had allowed the case to be closed and they had both missed something, either with the video clips or at the fucking chop shop or something else that neither of them had managed to see, yet.

He tells himself to print out some information about the chop shop just so he has it ready when he interrogates the suspect.

Whenever they caught the suspect.

Nines had quickly found the identity of the killer while they were still at the scene -- via a mechanism that Gavin still found utterly revolting -- and put out a general alert. Androids were always quicker to track down than humans were because they left digital footprints everywhere in a way that humans didn't. He was sure they'd pick her up, soon.

She, he thinks again, remembering Nines' comment about how android gender was fairly meaningless. Gavin supposes he appreciates that sentiment, too. Androids were created with physical forms distinguished as male and female because that was how they'd more easily blend in with humans, but there wasn't inherently any programming difference between models that served the same functions, regardless of their appearance. The use of gendered pronouns was more conventional than out of any particular need, maybe even intended to make humans more comfortable around them, but androids themselves -- with rare exceptions -- didn't really have much in the way of gender differences or particularly care about those differences. Not really.

Gavin isn't sure why the thought is bothering him so much, now.

He pushes it aside, examining Nines' scans and photos from the crime scene. He'd never admit it, but he's impressed. Nines had given him a far more detailed overview than the typical crime scene photos would have provided, in addition to preemptively analyzing any areas of potential interest. He doesn't see anything missing, but the scene wasn't the important part anyway. They knew who the victim was, how he had been killed, and who the suspect was. All they really had to do now was wait.

"Reed!" Connor's voice interrupts his thoughts, and Gavin looks up to see Connor standing in the doorway to his office, looking over at him. "Your suspect has been apprehended by a patrol and they are on their way here. Report to the interrogation room."

Gavin is more than happy to comply.

"You performed adequately, Detective," Nines says as Gavin walks out of the interrogation room.

Gavin's ready to give him hell for it when he sees the grin on Nines' face. "Fuck off," he says, grinning back. "Like you could've done better."

"I am not programmed to interrogate suspects," Nines says, his smile fading as he takes Gavin's prompt seriously. "But I suppose I could do an adequate job if I was forced to."

"Like everything else you do," Gavin says, automatically, realizing afterward that it might have come off badly. But Nines seems to understand the message, and smiles gently at him.

"What's next, Gavin Junkyard?"

Gavin snorts at the callback to an earlier joke Nines had made, the laughter escaping before he can help himself. "Yeah, well, this time I actually have a fuckin' answer for you. We're gonna go talk to some fuckin' virologist at the hospital. That's still the best theory we have to explain the unintended behavior. And in the meantime, we're gonna keep lookin' for links, 'cause we've got three cases now, so we actually have to have shit to talk to the fuckin' virologist about."

Nines nods. "That is a logical course of action. What would you like me to do?"

Gavin likes that Nines is being deferential to him, but he thinks he maybe trusts Nines' instincts a little more now. "What do you think you should be doin', Junkyard?"

Nines seems to light up at that. Figuratively, anyway, as his LED has remained a constant blue the entire time. "I would like to visit Buttsy's previous home, as well as the streetside where she had been staying recently. Perhaps also trace her path from the streetside to the deli where the incident occurred. It would be more efficient for me to perform these visits and send the analyses back to you while you look over the three androids' records for anything else that might stand out to you."

"Good." Gavin likes that plan. "Then lemme get together some paperwork for the fuckin' place so they don't kick you out when you show up there, and maybe you can do the streets in the meantime, since the paperwork'll probably take a few days."

"Thank you," Nines says, and Gavin knows he's referring to more than just the paperwork.

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, smiling anyway. "Just doin' my fuckin' job."

"I don't wanna fuckin' hear it," Gavin says as Tina walks up to his desk with a grin. "Also what fuckin' happened to your patrol?"

"I got switched to an evening patrol tonight because Jerry got sick, which just makes it all the more important that we talk now, since I'm going to miss dinner tonight."

"We have nothing to fuckin' talk about, and if you're expecting me to go have dinner with just fuckin' Chase, you can forget about it."

"We're not talking about Chase," Tina says, sitting on the edge of his desk, still grinning at him. "We're talking about Nines. What was that, back there?"

"He fuckin' asked about my scar."

"And I gave you a perfectly good cover story, yet you still told him the truth. You never do that. You think it makes you look weak."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Yeah, like anyone would buy your story. A mob boss? Why would I be chasin' a fuckin' mob boss?"

"Why not? It sounds like something you would be doing, if there was a mob boss here in Detroit, and you had a reason to be on a case involving him. Or her."

"Yeah, well... if you'd made up a more fuckin' believable story, maybe I'd have been able to go along with it, so thanks for fuckin' nothing."

Tina seems unswayed by his excuse. "Uh huh. So where's Nines, anyway?"

"He went to scan some scenes for our new case or whatever the fuck detective androids do. There was a third murder this morning." Gavin turns back to his computer. "And you are distractin' me from the research I'm supposed to be fuckin' doing for it."

"Oh." Tina seems a little worried now, maybe because she knows how serious this series of cases has been, but she still can't resist getting in a dig. "You're not joining your new best friend at the scenes?"

Gavin rolls his eyes, even though he knows Tina can't see it. "If you keep this up, maybe he'll actually be my new best friend."

"Ouch," Tina says, but he can tell she's grinning again. "So you do consider him a friend now."

"No fuckin' way," Gavin objects, automatically. "He's a fuckin' coworker."

"'He'. 'Coworker'. 'Detective'. Sounds like Nines got a big upgrade already. You sure you don't want to throw 'friend' into that list too? Even if you're not ready to include the prefix 'best' yet."

"Why are we friends again?" Gavin asks, exasperated. "Also what is the fuckin' point of this?"

"I just wanted to tease you a little," Tina says, and Gavin can hear her stand, and she pats his shoulder. "I'm really happy you two are getting along, now. I hope your research goes well. I know you two are going to solve this thing. You make a great team."

"Fuck off, Tina."

"Oh, and Chase'll be there at the usual time," Tina says, walking away from his desk.

"Then he's gonna be eatin' by his fuckin' self," Gavin says, still not looking at her.

"Call him if you're going to be late because of this case!" Tina calls back toward him.

Gavin really hates Tina sometimes.

Gavin intends to use the case as an excuse to skip dinner, but he realizes that evening that he doesn't actually have Chase's number, and asking Tina for it would just tip her off as to his intentions.

He's pretty sure she'd done this on purpose.

So he shows up at the restaurant, intending instead to just let Chase know he was busy. But Chase is already sitting there waiting for him, with Gavin's usual burger -- and an extra side of fries -- sitting on his side of the table, and even though the sheer gall of it pisses him off, he figures he'd at least get a free meal out of the whole thing.

"I wasn't sure if you'd be showing," Chase says, a cautious smile on his face as Gavin sits down. "But Tina insisted you would, and I figured she knows you better than anyone, so..."

"You were sure enough that you fuckin' ordered my burger for me," Gavin says, grabbing a fry despite himself. "What if I wanted somethin' else tonight?"

"Then I'd have something for lunch tomorrow. Same if you hadn't showed up. But thank you for being here."

"You're payin', right?" Gavin stuffs the fry, quickly followed by several more, into his mouth.

Chase chuckles. "If that's what it takes, sure. I finally closed a sale for my android family, so some sort of celebration seems in order."

"Glad to fuckin' oblige," Gavin mutters between bites, wanting to keep the conversation as minimal as possible.

"Speaking of androids..."

"Are we really fuckin' doing this?"

Chase frowns. "We could eat in silence if you'd really like, but sometimes random conversation after a long day is nice. It doesn't have to be anything personal. You can just talk to me about work, or I can talk to you about work if you just want to listen. Or TV shows, or music, or the news. Or we could eat in silence."

Gavin appreciates the choice, at least. "Fine. What about fuckin' androids?"

Chase smiles again. "How are things with Nines? Tina says you've started getting coffee with him in the afternoons now that she can't anymore."

"That's been fuckin' weeks," Gavin mutters, wondering how much Tina had actually told him. He hopes Chase doesn't know it had, at least partially, been Gavin's decision. "Fuckin' keep up, Chase."

"I'd like to," Chase says, picking up a piece of fried chicken from his own plate. "What's been going on?"

"It's just fuckin' afternoon coffee. Why the fuck would anything be goin' on?" Gavin isn't sure why he's suddenly feeling so defensive, but Tina's earlier ribbing comes to mind, and he realizes he's probably a little worried about the implication -- realization, really -- that he and Nines are now friends.

He doesn't want to be fucking friends with an android.

"We can talk about something else," Chase says, looking concerned now. "I didn't intend it to be a touchy subject, although I probably should have realized it would be."

Gavin isn't sure why he isn't immediately changing the subject, but maybe the fact that Chase wasn't a coworker was making him feel more comfortable discussing this topic with him. And he does feel like he needs to discuss it with someone.

"You can't fuckin' tell Tina any of this," Gavin warns.

Chase nods. "My lips are sealed."

"We're fuckin' gettin' along and I fuckin' hate that I actually kinda like workin' with him. It's like we're fuckin' friends now. How the fuck did that happen?"

Chase grins. "Why is any of this a bad thing?"

"'Cause he's a fuckin' android."


Gavin grabs his burger and takes a huge bite, using the chewing as an excuse to avoid answering.

"You know," Chase continues when it's clear Gavin won't. "I've always meant to ask you this. And you don't have to answer, but given it seems relevant to this conversation... why do you hate androids so much?"

"Why don't you?" Gavin asks, but Chase just shakes his head at him.

"Don't turn this back on me, Gavin. Why do you hate androids so much?"

"I'm sure Tina's told you."

"Still not what I'm asking," Chase says. "But fine. You clearly don't want to talk about this, so I'm sorry."

"It's bad 'cause I don't fuckin' make friends, Chase," Gavin says, returning to the original question. "I've got Tina and what...? No one else."

"That can't possibly be true," Chase says, frowning. "You don't see anyone outside of work other than me and Tina? You don't do social things at work with anyone other than Nines and Tina?"

"That's what I've been fuckin' sayin'," Gavin mutters, even though it hadn't been.

Chase still doesn't look like he wants to accept the claim, but nods anyway. "Fine. You don't make friends. Why is it bad that you've potentially made another one in Nines?"

"'Cause he's a fuckin' android."

"Annnd we're back here again." Chase picks up his chicken again. "Let's talk about the weather instead."

"'Cause Tina's basically my only friend, and I've always fuckin' hated androids, so I don't fuckin' want my second friend to be a fuckin' android."

"Ah." Chase sets his chicken back down, and Gavin hates the understanding look Chase is giving him now. "And now we get to the root of the problem."

"What're you, a fuckin' psychologist now?" Gavin takes another bite of his burger, wanting to be done with the conversation.

Chase shrugs. "For the record, I know you still don't like me, but if it makes it any easier, I'd be proud to call you my friend, and be proud if you wanted to consider me one of yours. That way Nines doesn't have to be number two."

Gavin shakes his head, his mouth full of food, even though the thought is strangely comforting to him.

"It's also fine if not," Chase says. "Like I said, I understand if we're not friends or if we even don't get along, but I wanted us to be civil to each other. You've more than done that, so thank you."

Gavin swallows the rest of his bite of food. "Let's fuckin' talk about the weather."

Chase acquiesces, doesn't bring up Nines or androids again over the rest of the meal and, as promised, pays at the end of the meal. They walk out to Chase's car together afterward.

"Good night, Gavin," Chase says.

"Gimme your fuckin' phone number," Gavin says, not liking the way Chase seems to really like the demand. "Just so next time I can fuckin' call you and tell you I'm busy with work if Tina pulls this fuckin' shit again."

"Sure. It's 4-5..."

"Just fuckin' text me. You have my number already. You fuckin' called me." Gavin realizes he could probably have looked up Chase's number from his old call records, but likes the idea of formally asking for it anyway, so Chase wouldn't have an excuse to bitch him out for it.

"I don't, actually. After the incident, I deleted it from my phone and cleared my call logs. I figured it was more respectful to wait until you felt comfortable enough to reach out."

"Then fuckin' get your phone out and take my number and text me," Gavin grumbles, even though he actually really appreciates the gesture.

Chase does, and thanks him again for coming to dinner, and as Gavin's driving home that night, he really doesn't like the nagging thought that he's somehow managed to make two new friends over the past few months, especially given they're people he really should still be hating.

A person and an android. That he really should still be hating.

He wonders what that says about him.

Running Off

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapter eight of MITTS

"Yeah, get a fuckin' move on," Gavin tells Nines, watching as Nines grabs Hank's car keys and heads out to the parking lot. Nines had suggested revisiting the first two scenes so he could scan them more thoroughly, with the added knowledge now from all three cases together, in case he could spot any connections other than the TV. Gavin had agreed, begrudgingly, after Nines' scans of the streets from the third case had both been top-notch but also provided nothing useful.

He doesn't really want to acknowledge Nines' attention to detail and how quickly Nines has gained a sense for what things matter and what things don't at a scene, but he knows he's impressed anyway.

"Reed!" Connor yells from his office, and Gavin looks over from his computer and the third crime scene scans that he'd wanted to review again. "My office."

"Kinda in the middle of somethin', Connor!"

Connor seems to hesitate, and his LED turns yellow. Connor's worried, and Connor never worries. "Have you heard from Officer Chen?"

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin really doesn't like the sound of that.

"My office, Reed."

He scrambles as quickly as he can to Connor's office, practically slamming the door behind him. "The fuck you mean 'have I heard from Tina'?"

"She did not report for duty this morning and her phone is not connecting. I was wondering if she had told you about any engagements this morning that might explain her absence."

Gavin swallows the panic he's feeling now. "Fuck no. She's never late for duty. I was assumin' you'd sent her out on early patrol today instead."

Connor nods. "Thank you. That was all."

"Have you fuckin' traced her phone? Its last known location, anyway."

"That is not an appropriate use of police resources, Detective," Connor chides. "I am sure that there is a reasonable explanation."

"Fuck this," Gavin spits, storming out. He'd be dammed if he cared about 'appropriate use' of resources.

Gavin really doesn't like the feeling he gets when the last location ends up being a hospital, roughly between her apartment and the station. He takes a patrol car -- without permission, because screw Connor and whatever he thought about 'reasonable explanations' -- and guns it at a reckless speed there, leaving it in the drop-off with its lights flashing, grabbing his badge, and running into the emergency room, ready to raise hell until they told him what had happened to her.

"Gavin?!" Tina's walking out of a set of doors from the back, holding the hand of a young boy who looks strikingly similar to Chase. Gavin notices the boy's arm is in a cast.


"I thought you were fu... freakin' dead!" he yells at her, immediately shutting up when the entire waiting room turns and glares at him, and suddenly realizing this was a children's hospital. Several kids sitting in the room start crying.

If the receptionist's look could kill...

Tina looks upset too, but her upset is tinged with affection. "You were worried about me?"

"Mister Gavin?" the boy asks, pulling Tina toward Gavin, standing next to him, and looking up at him. "I'm Andrew!"

"Yeah, yeah," Gavin grumbles, smiling despite himself, and despite the fact that he hates children. "It's... nice to meet you. Or whatever."

"My daddy says that..."

"Let's get you back home, Andrew," Tina interrupts, rolling her eyes at Gavin's response and with exhaustion in her voice. "You've had a very eventful morning."

"Have you ever ridden in a police car?" Gavin asks before he can second guess himself. He doesn't do this, and he really fucking hates children, but Tina seems a lot more stressed out than usual, and he figures it might help to give her at least a slight reprieve. Especially because he would've loved to ride in a police car at Andrew's age. Or at whatever age he thinks Andrew is, which he estimates at around 5 or 6 years old.

It seems to work, because Andrew's eyes light up. "A real police car?"

"I'll run the lights for you and everything. Probably shouldn't run the f...reakin' siren, though." Gavin's pretty sure he'll get in trouble even just for the lights, if not for the fact that he had the vehicle in the first place, but there was still no point in pushing it further than he had to.

Andrew turns to Tina, hope on his face. "Can I, Miss Tina?"

Tina's trying her hardest not to smile, and nods. "Yes, but you have to tell Mister Gavin to be good, okay? He isn't always the safest driver. Remember that road safety is important." She looks pointedly at Gavin, and he knows that she knows how reckless he would've been on the way here.

"Like 'look both ways before you cross the street'!" Andrew says, looking so proud of himself that Gavin doesn't bother correcting him.

"Somethin' like that anyway. Let's go. I'm fuckin' camped out in the dropoff lane."

"You said a bad word!" Andrew says, his mouth wide with shock. "Mister Gavin!"

Tina laughs, seemingly despite herself, and Gavin can see her stress levels falling already. "Yes, he did. Be sure to tell Mister Gavin all about how certain words are a no no and he should use better language in public."

"I will!" Andrew says, letting go of Tina's hand and holding his hand out in Gavin's direction.

Gavin hesitates, briefly, before taking it. "C'mon."

Tina texts him the address, and he beats her there handily, and certainly not because he takes advantage of the cruiser to run several lights -- and uses the siren despite his earlier words -- to Andrew's delight.

"Now remember, what we just did was inappropriate. It is not okay to abuse the lights and siren to get somewhere quicker if there isn't an actual emergency."

"Then why did you?"

"Just get out of the f...reakin' car," Gavin grumbles before realizing that Andrew probably couldn't open the door on his own. He slams his door shut, circles around, opens Andrew's door, and lifts him out of the seat.

"Where's Miss Tina?"

"She'll be here. She actually has to deal with traffic."

"Do you want me to tell you about the stegosaurus again?"

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Sure. Tell me about the f...antastic stegosaurus."

Mercifully, Tina isn't too much longer, and smiles at the two of them as she gets out of her car. "How was the ride, Andrew?"

"Mister Gavin was inappropriate with me!" Andrew says, grinning, and Tina looks up at Gavin, shocked. "He ran the lights and siren!"

"He was... inappropriate by running the lights and siren?" Tina seems to understand now.

"Yeah!" Andrew still looks utterly excited. "He said we shouldn't abuse them if there isn't an emergency, so it was inappropriate!"

"I fuckin' hate kids," Gavin mutters under his breath, but apparently not quietly enough.

"Mister Gavin said a bad word again!"

"You should... probably not say that Mister Gavin was inappropriate with you," Tina says, fishing in her purse for a key and walking toward the house. "You can say that he did a bad thing by abusing police r... by misusing police resources. While you were there."

"Okay!" Andrew says, bounding after her before coming to a sudden stop, as if he'd realized something. "Am I going to school now?"

"No," Tina says, unlocking the front door and pushing it open. "You're staying here until your daddy finishes up his scheduled closing, and then he's going to come home for you and I'm going to leave."

"I don't want you and Mister Gavin to leave!"

"I know," Tina says, smiling softly at Gavin, and Gavin blushes at it, for some reason.

"Thank you," Tina says, sitting next to him on the couch as they watch Andrew playing with a toy truck with his good arm. "You did something colossally stupid, and looked up my f...reaking phone in the system which I should probably be mad at you about, and broke probably a hundred rules doing all of it, but you were worried about me. Thank you."

"I wasn't fuckin' worried," Gavin mutters, immediately looking over at Andrew, who fortunately seems engrossed in his toy.

"Right," Tina says, grinning. "I'm sure your detective skills have closed this case already, but Chase had a big closing this morning he couldn't miss, and Andrew broke his arm just before school when he fell out of his chair at breakfast. Chase caught me as I was driving to work, and I headed straight for the hospital and didn't have time to call Connor. I figured I'd do it at the hospital, but I forgot that phones don't work there, and there wasn't anything else I could do until Andrew was released. I didn't realize how it would look or how much you'd freak out. I was just about to call Connor when you showed up."

"I'm assumin' you've called Connor by now?"

Tina nods. "Yeah. I called him after you left with Andrew. The first thing he said was that you had left the station with a police cruiser to go looking for me. He sounded relieved to hear from me, too. It was very... sweet." She pats Gavin's arm. "All of this is really sweet. You're really making an effort with Andrew, too, for my sake, because you know I'm not really good with kids."

"Hell of a lot better than me," Gavin grumbles.

"Mister Gavin!" Andrew objects, clearly listening to them now. "That's also a bad word!"

Tina grins. "Did you give Mister Gavin your lecture on bad words on the way here, like you were supposed to?"

"Please f...reakin' don't," Gavin mutters, as Andrew's eyes grow wide.

"I didn't!" Andrew exclaims, scrambling to his feet and moving to the couch, sitting next to Gavin. "Mister Gavin! Did you know that there are many words that adults use that they shouldn't?"

Tina looks like she's suppressing a laugh, and Gavin hates everything about the situation right now, but he resists the urge to storm out anyway, for Tina's sake.

"Is that so?" Gavin says instead, gritting his teeth.

Gavin thankfully is able to take his leave from the situation a short while later, returning to the station without Tina but managing to beat Nines' return from the scenes. Connor, also thankfully, seems to be engrossed in a meeting and is unable to ream him out.

He sits back at his computer, pulling up the scans that Nines has been sending him from the field. He gets so engrossed in them and Nines' choice of interesting points for further analysis that he loses track of time and jumps when Nines appears next to him.

"It is time for our afternoon coffee break," Nines says. "Unless you are requiring additional time to process the information I collected."

"Fuckin' hell, when the fuck did you get back?"

"A few minutes ago," Nines says, looking at Gavin questioningly. "Is something bothering you?"

Gavin wonders whether he should tell Nines about his morning.

"Nothin'," he says instead, standing from his seat. "Let's get that fuckin' coffee."

Gavin doesn't think his morning, and his life, is any of Nines' business.

"I have received several complaints regarding your unscheduled excursion yesterday to the hospital, including an official request for comment from the hospital itself," Connor says the next morning, after pulling Gavin into his office upon Gavin's arrival.

Gavin had fully expected such a conversation after having made an excuse after coffee yesterday, and left for the day, heading to a late lunch followed by his favorite bar for a drink instead, despite the case.

"Yeah, yeah. Cut to the chase already, Connor. What's the fuckin' punishment? Am I fuckin' suspended? I'd fuckin' do it again in a heartbeat."

Connor sits at his desk, looking up at Gavin, and his LED briefly flickers yellow before returning to blue. "I have indicated that your presence there was official business, as a personal favor to me, and apologized for your inappropriate behavior. I have given assurances that it will not happen again, and that I will send a more appropriate officer next time on such business."

"Fuckin' what?"

"Don't make me out to be a liar, Detective. Don't do anything like this ever again, or I will be forced to take action next time. You have additionally created a immense amount of paperwork that I must now work through, and your unofficial punishment will involve completing the majority of it in my stead. That will be all."

"Fuckin' wait. Why the fuck are you coverin' for me?"

Connor grabs a folder on his desk and opens it, staring down at the pages instead of Gavin. "You were worried about Officer Chen. That is understandable," he says, dismissively.

"Did fuckin' Nines ask you to do this? I don't need his fuckin' meddlin' in my fuckin' life."

"To my knowledge, Nines is not aware the incident even occurred," Connor says, still not looking at him. "It is your decision as to whether you wish to inform him or not. I saw no reason to involve him. As I said, it is understandable. It is only human. That will be all."

"Right, like you're fuckin' so much better than us." Gavin isn't sure why he's pushing his luck so much this morning given everything Connor's already done for him.

Connor looks up at him again. "I am not saying that. I am saying that it is understandable. If that had been Detective Anderson or Nines, I might have done the same thing."

"No fuckin' way." Gavin doesn't believe the claim for one second. "You'd never do somethin' like that."

Connor just shrugs and returns to his paperwork. "Perhaps not, but as I said, Detective, that will be all. You are now dangerously close to overstaying your welcome, and I have to deal with the mess that you created. Please leave."

Gavin does, this time.

"Hey. Thank you so much for yesterday, Gavin," Chase says as he slides into the booth next to Tina.

"I didn't fuckin' do anythin'," Gavin grumbles, wishing the burger was already here so he'd have a distraction.

"Andrew couldn't stop talking about the police car ride. I'm sure he's talking his mother's ears off about it right now. You really made an effort for me, Gavin, and I really appreciate it."

"It wasn't for you," Gavin objects, even though he supposes at least part of it had been. "I was worried about Tina."

"How's your big case going?" Tina asks, changing the subject so Gavin doesn't have to. She knows he's always more comfortable talking about his cases, and he's pretty sure she's more than a little curious about this particular one anyway, and not just because he's working on it with Nines.

"Talked to a fuckin' virologist today. He was fuckin' useless. The virologist, not Nines. Nines has been competent."

Tina smirks. "High praise."

"Yeah, well, unless praise is gonna give us a fuckin' new connection between the cases, it's fuckin' useless just like the fuckin' virologist."

"Three extremely similar cases and they don't think it's a virus?" Chase asks, smiling up at the waitress as she approaches their table. "The usual, please. Fried chicken, side of mac and cheese, small plate of fries."

"Same as always for me," Gavin grumbles, sure that every waiter and waitress in this place knows him and Tina at this point. They probably know Chase, too, but Chase is polite and continues to specify his order, as always.

"Me too," Tina says. "Although replace my fries with a side salad, and we'll call that my new usual."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin asks as the waitress walks away.

Tina shrugs. "Andrew says I need to eat more veggies."

"A fuckin' infant shouldn't be givin' you fuckin' diet advice."

"He's not even a toddler, Gavin. And he's learning about healthy foods in school. He's very proud of what he's learning."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Whatever. Anyway, yeah, they don't think it's a virus even though it's fuckin' behavin' like one. They've looked at everything. Even done some weird deep data analysis shit with Buttsy 'cause she volunteered for the lobotomy or whatever even though it had some risk to her. And by the way, who the fuck names themselves 'Buttsy'? Or 'Nines'? Why can't androids fuckin' give themselves normal names?"

"I don't know," Chase says, grinning. "If I could've chosen my name when I was a kid, I probably would've chosen something fun like 'Superman'."

"Still better than fuckin' 'Buttsy'," Gavin grumbles. "And androids aren't fuckin' kids. They're like adults who are weirdly enthralled by everythin' and then get fuckin' crushed by the realities of the world before they're fuckin' ready for 'em."

"Sounds like you feel sorry for them," Tina says, taking a sip of her water.

"No fuckin' way. They're stupid and they're in the fuckin' way."

"Even Nines?" Chase asks.

"'Specially him," Gavin says, even though he definitely doesn't mean it. "He fuckin' asked if we were friends today."

"Well, you are," Tina says. "Why is that stupid?"

Gavin rolls his eyes. "You wish we were. Then you could have me bitch at him over lunch instead of at you."

Tina smiles and pats his arm across the table. "I love it when you bitch at me, Gavin," she says, and it's not sarcastic.

"Then I'm gonna bitch at you now about how the fuckin' elevator in my buildin's fuckin' broken again. Or is Andrew gonna lecture me about the stairs being fuckin' good for me now, too?"

"I can call him up," Chase says, grinning and pulling out his phone. "We can have a guest speaker over dinner, tonight."

"Put that the fuck away," Gavin growls, even though he's actually really enjoying this banter now and starting to grin himself, and not just because of the change in topic. But it doesn't hurt because, as much as he likes talking about his cases to Tina and Chase, he doesn't like repeating the same 'lack of progress' line to them all the time.

He hopes he and Nines manage to hit on something soon.

Frustratingly, by the end of the week, Gavin and Nines still haven't made any useful progress on the case, and find themselves no closer to an explanation for the androids' behavior.

Nines suggests watching the video clips again, in case they had missed a particular trigger or something. Gavin wants to quip that Nines should already have a full record of the recordings in his head or whatever, but he doesn't have any better ideas, so he obliges anyway.

"Blah blah, New Jericho, whatever," Gavin says, sick of Markus' face now. He'd seen enough of that android for a lifetime after the series of cases and actually meeting the fucker in person. He turns to Nines. "See anything we missed, Junkyard? Some fuckin' subliminal messaging or something?"

Nines looks over at him, and his eyes suddenly gloss over, and all of the danger senses that Gavin has developed over the years go off at once. He immediately tries to back away, reaching for his gun, but he's too slow, and before he knows it, Nines has his hands around Gavin's neck. Instinct takes over, and he grabs Nines' head, smashing it with as much force as he can against the desk before he blacks out.

Chapter End Notes

Random side note: This is where I originally wanted to end chapter eight of MITTS, but the chapter lengths wouldn't have worked there because it would've left two extremely short chapters. So you get a break here instead in CITS, which is hopefully an interesting one if you haven't read MITTS. And also continues the fun of stretching one chapter of MITTS over (now) three chapters of CITS, because hooray other things are happening that Nines wasn't privy to.

Mostly this chapter exists because I felt like Tina has repeatedly demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate her dedication and caring for Gavin -- even in ways that he doesn't know about in CITS but that show up in MITTS -- but Gavin not so much, and I needed to justify why she truly considers him to be her best friend. Because she knows he'd do anything for her, and his actions here prove that. And also because I threw in a throwaway line about Chase having a kid earlier, and then realized that would actually be a really big deal, so... here's the kid!

Hooray for random factoids!

Just To See

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapters eight and nine of MITTS

Gavin wakes up in the back of an ambulance, trying to sit up and immediately being rewarded with pain that shoots through his neck and down his spine. "Fuck!"

The paramedics push him back flat, even as he curses at them and insists he needs to get back to the station. He isn't sure why his first instinct is to check on Nines -- to make sure he hadn't hurt him, or worse -- but eventually he's forced to acquiesce to the paramedics, grumbling the rest of the way until he's unloaded at the hospital, carted off into an x-ray machine, and seen by a doctor. It doesn't escape his notice that the doctor is an android.

The fucking irony of it all.

It feels like forever until he's prescribed a bunch of painkillers, fitted with a neck brace, and pronounced safe to head home for a recovery break from work, even though it had all taken less than half an hour. Gavin thinks he'd be impressed at how efficient medical treatment had gotten over the past few years -- maybe thanks to the influx of android doctors graduating from med school, who were honestly less prone to error than human ones -- if he wasn't so frustrated at it all anyway, and at how no one at the hospital seemed to know what was going on back at the station, even though they wouldn't have any reason to.

He calls the station to relay the hospital's discharge instructions and ask about Nines, and Connor -- the fucker -- simply tells him to return home and rest, and sends a cab for him. He tells the cab, when it arrives, to take him back to the station instead.

He rages to himself the entire ride back, wanting to check on Nines, and idly wondering what would happen if he ordered the self-driving vehicle to take him to Markus instead. He wants Markus to pay for whatever he'd done to Nines, but he didn't have his gun, and his experience with punching Nines had taught him that androids were generally tougher -- and harder -- than they looked.

He's pretty sure he would never get through North, anyway.

The cab drops him back at the station and he stomps, as quickly as he can, to where he hears Hank and Connor talking. The relief he feels when he sees Nines in the holding cell is short-lived, quickly replaced again by anger at Markus for putting him there.

"Yeah, fuck off, Connor," he spits when Connor once again tells him to go home and rest. He opens his mouth to ask Nines how he's doing, and whether he'd hurt him, when Nines speaks.

"Gavin..." Nines starts, his voice so small and afraid that Gavin immediately deflates. Nines felt responsible. Nines was blaming himself.

None of this was Nines' fault.

"You okay, Junkyard?" he asks, wishing Nines would turn around. He can't see the side of Nines' head that he knows he'd bashed into the desk. He hopes Nines' head was as sturdy as his jaw had been. He doesn't know what he'd do if he had allowed himself to actually injure Nines, even if it had been instinctual and in self-defense, and even if experience had shown him that androids were easily -- and quickly -- repaired.

He isn't sure why it matters so much to him.

"What?" Nines seems surprised by the question, and Gavin supposes he understands. Nines expects that Gavin would blame him for what happened. Gavin suddenly understands why Marco, the shopkeeper, had been so distraught after Gavin had been forced to shoot Alex.

Gavin wishes he had had any other alternative.

"I bashed your head into the desk," he says, frustrated now that Nines was still facing away from him. "You okay?"

Nines finally turns around at that, hesitantly, seemingly still wary of Gavin's reaction. Gavin tries his best to look reassuring -- even as he's still a combination of pissed and pain at the moment -- and it seems to work, because Nines seems to relax, even though his LED remains solidly red.

"I'm... fine," Nines says, and Gavin doesn't see any obvious injuries on the side of Nines' head, so he has no reason to disbelieve the claim, at least.

"Fuckin' Markus," Gavin spits, upset again. The fact that he'd nearly injured Nines was Markus' fault. The fact that Nines was in that cell now was Markus' fault.

He listens to Connor and Nines speculate a bit about causes. Gavin isn't sure why he's staring at Nines' lips as he speaks. They're not real, anyway.

Gavin thinks about how disgusting it had been when Nines licked Buttsy's blood to analyze it -- which is still a stupid name, by the way -- and a bit had remained smeared on his lips afterward.

Gavin thinks about how Connor has probably done the same thing in the past. Fucking androids.

Gavin suddenly realizes something.

"You ate its blood," he says, interrupting Nines' analysis of the other androids. "The third one. The blood on the ground."

Gavin had already raised this particular vector explicitly with the virologist, who had insisted that blood-borne android viruses did not exist, and couldn't cause this type of behavior even if they did. He hadn't liked the answer then, and now, as he thinks back over everything, it seems like the obvious -- and only remaining -- possibility. The other androids had all received blood from the chop shop, even as their other repairs had all been entirely different. Nines had also inadvertently been contaminated by the sheer ineptitude of his designers.

Fucking androids.

They quibble over technicalities for a bit before settling on it as the most plausable explanation, to Gavin's approval.

"So what do we do about it?" Gavin asks, pulling them back to the most relevant topic. They could follow up on causes later.

Connor says something about replacing Nines' blood. Nines says something about permanent damage if such a process were attempted. Gavin doesn't like the way any of that sounds.

He storms off instead, deciding they probably didn't need him after all.

The ringing of Gavin's phone pulls him out of his nap, and he rolls over in bed, immediately rewarded by searing pain. "Fuck!"

He fumbles for his phone, thankfully managing to grab it before knocking it to the floor or worse. It's Tina, of course, and he mashes the accept button before bringing it up to his ear. "What?" he says, a little more exasperated than he intends.

"Are you okay?!"

"I was takin' a fuckin' nap so I would be if you hadn't fuckin' called," he snaps before immediately feeling bad about it. This wasn't Tina's fault either, and she was worried about him. "I'm fuckin' fine," he says, more calmly. "Fuckin' Junkyard isn't though."

"What happened?!"

"I'm surprised Connor hasn't told you everythin' yet." He winces as he drops back into position on his back.

"I got back from my patrol to find Nines in a holding cell and Hank yelling on the phone about some 'fucking virus' and Connor going apocalyptic at some doctor-looking guy in his office, uh, relatively speaking," she says, and Gavin feels bad that he's home instead of there with all of them. "Nines said he hurt you and wouldn't tell me more than that, so I'm calling you. He's really worried about you, Gavin. Which makes me worry about you, too."

"Yeah, yeah," Gavin grumbles, liking the feeling he gets from it anyway. "Well, we have a fourth victim in that fuckin' series of android murders, and it's fuckin' me, so watch Connor pull me off the fuckin' case again."

"Oh shit," Tina starts, but it's full of both concern and cautiousness. "Did you..."

"I didn't blow up at fuckin' Junkyard," Gavin interrupts, annoyed. "It's not his fuckin' fault."

"Not what I was going to ask, but I'm glad for that, at least. He looked guilty enough on his own for it. Did you figure out the cause, then?"

Gavin isn't sure what to say, for once. "Maybe." It feels like a good enough answer for now, anyway.

"That's better than nothing. But it sounds like you really don't want to be talking to me right now. I'll let you get back to your nap, then."

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, really appreciating her call anyway.

"Call me if you need anything? Food, meds, just some company..."

"Fuck off, Tina," he says, but it must be full of affection, because he can practically hear her smile over the phone.

"Feel better, Gavin."

Gavin spends most of the weekend in bed, more out of depression than any physical need. The painkillers he'd gotten from the hospital had worked wonders, and whatever magic stuff they'd done to his neck has it actually feeling better by Sunday evening.

So Gavin drinks, instead, trying to drown out the feeling of helplessness he feels when he thinks about the case. They'd missed a crucial vector because they'd believed the analysis of a useless virologist and allowed the virus to continue spreading. He'd failed Nines, again, and Nines had gotten hurt. He was stuck at home on medical leave instead of continuing his work on the case -- their work on the case.

A knock at the door pulls him out of his thoughts, and he sets the bottle of whiskey down next to the couch, stumbling as best he can to the door and opening it. He isn't sure who he's expecting, but it's certainly not Hank, who's standing there with a serious expression.

"What?" Gavin says, turning around and stumbling to the kitchen wall for support. "It's fuckin' Sunday."

"Are you drunk?!" Hank asks, looking at him with annoyance.

"What's it to ya?" Gavin makes his way to the kitchen sink, turns on the tap, and tries his best to drink from it, getting most of his head wet in the process. "The fuck'd you get my address?"

"Connor gave it to me," Hank says. "You weren't picking up your phone, and..."

"Fucker's worried 'bout me, huh?" Gavin grabs the nearest cloth object -- which turns out to be an old shirt slung over the counter island that he'd probably thrown there when he'd gotten it stained while cooking -- and tries to dry his hair and face with it.

"No." Hank steps cautiously into the kitchen, and looks around. "We have a new contact at the virology center, and Connor thought you would be interested in accompanying me to meet her, since you're so invested in the case. But since you're clearly in no shape to go..."

"I'm fuckin' goin'," Gavin grumbles, starting to pull off his shirt -- but getting it stuck on the neck brace -- and stumbling toward the bedroom for a clean one. "Just gimme a minute."

"Technically you're still on medical leave," Hank calls after him. "This is officially my case now, since Nines is both a consultant and currently incapacitated. I could just leave you here and go by myself."

Gavin pokes his head out the bedroom door long enough to scowl at Hank. "You fuckin' wouldn't."

"Then hurry the fuck up. Do you need help?"

"Not from you," Gavin yells back, gingerly removing the brace and finding that he doesn't really need it anymore. Fucking modern medicine.

"Yeah, well. You'd better look more presentable for Dr. Ellis," Hank says, and Gavin can hear the exasperation.

"Doctor who?" Gavin slaps on some deodorant, grabs a clean shirt from his closet, and pulls it on, wincing at the pain in his neck at the movement.

"She's our new contact," Hank says, apparently standing closer to the bedroom door now. "I already pulled a sample of Alex's blood from the archives, and obtained samples from the other two assailants as well as Nines. We're going to go deliver them and speak with her about the case."

Gavin slaps the brace back on -- he was supposed to wear it for a few days, and he doesn't want to push it, as much as it annoyed him -- grabs his coat, and walks back into the living room. "Great. Let's fuckin' go."

Hank looks at him and makes a face. "You still smell like booze."

"You want me to fuckin' brush my teeth?"

Hank shakes his head, rummaging around in his pocket for something, and tossing a mint to Gavin. "Eat that. Let's go."

Dr. Ellis seems a lot more knowledgable, and open to discussion, than their previous contact had been.

"I'd like to apologize on behalf of the department and my colleague," she says, after introductions. "No department anywhere before has ever seen a case of viral transmission via Thirium 310, but we still should have taken such a possibility more seriously."

"It's fine," Hank grumbles before Gavin can say anything, holding out four vials of blue blood. "It's the best theory we have, anyway, given Nines' exposure. Is this enough for each sample?"

"That depends entirely on the concentration of the virus, if it exists," Dr. Ellis says, taking the vials. "But I would say so. A blood-borne virus would likely not be able to replicate in the same way that human-based viruses replicate, but to cause such a serious reaction, I would assume it would have to be present in fairly large quantities in the body, so this vial should contain at least one instance of it." She shakes one of the vials and squints at it. "Then again, last week, I would've said such a thing didn't exist at all, so we'll have to see."

"It fuckin' exists," Gavin starts, but Hank stands and pulls Gavin to his feet.

"You have my phone number. Call me if you need anything else."

She stands as well and holds out her hand. "Thank you, Detective. I'll get started on this right away. Hopefully I'll have news for you tomorrow."

Hank shakes her hand and grabs Gavin's shoulder, pulling him toward the door. "Let's go."

Gavin allows himself to be pulled, even though he doesn't understand why.

"You still smell like booze," Hank says once they're outside again, explaining their abrupt exit.

Gavin rolls his eyes. "You were the one who fuckin' rushed me out the door."

Hank shakes his head. "I'm taking you home. Are you coming in tomorrow?"

"Fuckin' duh." Gavin wouldn't miss the breakthrough he knows is coming even if he was confined to a hospital bed. "How's fuckin' Junkyard?"

"Nines is fine," Hank says, annoyance in his voice as they walk to the car. "How's your neck?"

Gavin shrugs, appreciating that the motion is no longer painful. "They injected me with some fuckin' liquid that's supposed to fix fractures. Pain's mostly gone. I'm doin' a lot better than fuckin' Ju... Nines is."

Hank nods and unlocks the car. "I feel like I should be pissed at you for all of this, but you actually didn't do anything wrong, for once."

"I didn't do anythin' fuckin' wrong when he got fuckin' shot, either."

"That's true," Hank says, surprising Gavin by agreeing, before scowling at him. "Look. I don't know what your fucking plan is, or why you're suddenly being so nice to Nines, but stop it. Nines is going through a rough time right now, and he doesn't need you making things worse for him. Or getting his hopes up about... whatever."

"I'm not gonna make things fuckin' worse for him," Gavin says, rolling his eyes. "Fuck. You're actin' like I'm gonna... go strangle the fucker back or whatever."

"Uh huh." Hank climbs into the car, and Gavin does the same. "I'm just saying... you'd better not do anything to hurt him, or I swear I'll fucking beat your ass until you regret ever being born. Consequences be damned."

"Whatever," Gavin says, sure that Hank meant it. "Can we fuckin' go home now?"

Hank hums in agreement before starting the car.

Gavin heads to work early on Monday, but still manages to be beaten by Connor, who's already sitting in his office when Gavin arrives.

"You are supposed to be on medical leave, Detective," Connor says when Gavin pokes his head in to ask about progress.

"Yeah, well. I'm not, so you can give the fuckin' case back to me now."

Connor regards him for a second, then nods. "You and Detective Anderson are on the case together. I expect that you two will be professional and not allow any differences or friction between you to intefere with the investigation. If that is unacceptable to you, I would be more than willing to force you back on leave, given the medical recommendations associated with your discharge from the hospital."

Gavin wants to tell Connor to go screw himself, but he knows Connor's serious about his threat. "Whatever. What's happenin' with the fuckin' case?"

"Why don't you ask your partner?" Connor asks, picking up a folder dismissively. "If you'll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do."

Gavin stares at Connor for a bit before figuring pushing Connor's buttons wouldn't get him anywhere, and storms out of the office to find Hank.

"Whatdya want?" Hank asks as Gavin walks up to him.

"Heard from the motherfucker?" he asks, sitting on the edge of Hank's desk.

Hank sighs. "If you're asking about Dr. Ellis, no. I assume we're working this case together now, so you would've been the first to know if I had."

Gavin nods, satisfied with that response. "I'm not gonna fuckin' upset Junkyard, okay? You don't hafta give me such a fuckin' tough time about him."

"Mmm," Hank says. "Can we not talk about Nines and focus on the case instead? I'm assuming your theory is that the tainted blood came from the chop shop."

"How'd you know 'bout that?" Gavin asks. "Did you read the fuckin' case files?"

"I talked to Nines," Hank says. "Yeah, yeah. We're not talking about him. But I figured it was faster than working through everything myself. He said the commonalities were the shop and the recordings of Markus, and you'd commented on the blood all of the suspects had received from the place."

"So we gotta get a fuckin' warrant."

Hank grabs a sheet of paper from his desk and holds it up. "Done. Requested it late Friday. Came in this morning. Connor called in some favors to rush it for us." He stands and grabs his coat. "Ready to go grab some blood?"

Gavin's beginning to think he likes Hank a lot more than he thought he did, and a lot more than Hank liked him.

"Let's fuckin' go."

Dr. Ellis calls Hank just as they're getting ready to leave the chop shop, and they make their next stop the hospital.

"It seems your hypothesis was likely correct, Detective," she says when they pull up with the car and she's waiting for them. "We found some pieces containing inexplicably corrupt data that were consistent between the samples, and do not seem to have come from the androids' systems themselves, as the data does not match the identity or hash indicators in the affected pieces. This same corruption does not show up in any other samples or records of samples that we have at the lab. While we can't know for sure without intentionally infecting another android, it seems likely to be the cause. From a scientific standpoint, this is fascinating and could usher in an entirely new field of study on android physiology and virology."

"It was his hypothesis," Hank says, gesturing toward Gavin, and seemingly liking her exuberance about as much as Gavin does. "Anyway, as I said on the phone, we brought you a ton of blood that we suspect might be the source. Now that you know what you're looking for, can you screen these samples? Find the original source?"

"And then fuckin' destroy 'em," Gavin mutters.

She nods, ignoring Gavin's comment. "I can, although it may take some time given the amount of Thirium 310 you have brought, the relative slowness of the analysis, and the likelihood that samples from multiple androids have been stored together in each container. One noteworthy discovery is how potent the infection seems to be. We detected only one affected unit in the sample you provided from Nines, and that concentration was still sufficient to cause unintended behavior. Given that potency, I would recommend android hazmat protocols for the Thirium 310 you have brought. Human handlers only, data-proof metal containers, Thirium scanners to detect even minute leakage, secured storage with high-level access authorization only, paper access logs. I believe that the virus spreads only through direct infusion of infected blood, but better safe than sorry, right?"

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, even though he agrees with her. "Tell us what we gotta do."

"We can take it from here," she says, pulling out what looks like a crude walkie-talkie. "Thank you for your assistance, Detectives."

A short while later, the blood is unloaded from Hank's car, and the two of them are driving back to the station.

"So that's it?" Gavin asks, and Hank shrugs.

"Nothing more we can do until they identify the source. Then we can start pulling records for whatever android the blood came from and trace it back from there, right?" He glances over at Gavin. "And by 'we', I mean 'you'. I've got a ton of other cases on my plate right now. Think you can handle this one? Including writing up the initial report from today?"

Gavin isn't sure whether Hank actually has other work, or is just being charitable, but he'll take it. "Whatever. What about a fuckin' cure?"

"One step at a time," Hank says, even though he looks anxious, himself. "I'm sure once they have a better idea of what they're dealing with, a treatment will be the next thing on their list."

Gavin tells himself that'll have to be enough, for now.

Gavin's phone rings when he's getting ready to leave for the day, a few days later. He peers at the screen, sees that it's his mom, and promptly silences it.

That doesn't stop her from calling 4 more times in the next 15 minutes.

She calls again as he's grabbing his food out of the microwave, and he figures he should at least hear what she has to say.

"Fuckin' what?"

"Gavin Malcolm!" she starts, and Gavin cuts her off.

"If you bitch me out for fuckin' cussin', I'm hangin' up. What do you want? I was fuckin' drivin'."

She makes an annoyed sound before clearing her throat. "You could be nicer to your mother, Gavin. BUT! I was just callin' 'cause you hadn't sent me your itinerary yet."

"What makes you think I'm goin' home for Christmas?" he asks, even though he'd had the tickets booked for months. "And why do you need my fuckin' itinerary?"

"Gavin!" she starts, before catching herself. "You'll be stayin' at the house, won't you?"

He'd considered getting a hotel just to have a place to escape to, but hadn't done so yet, and prices were probably unreasonable by this time. "Probably."

"Then you should send us your itinerary so we can know when to expect you."

"Does it matter? You're not gonna be away for any part of the holidays anyway?"

"It would still be nice if we..."

"I'll show up when I show up," Gavin says. "And I'll take a cab."

He hangs up before she can say anything else.

Fucking family.

"I feel kind of bad for Nines."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin looks up at Tina from his plate, his mouth half full of burger.

"This is going to be his first Christmas, right?" she asks, stabbing a fork into her salad. "He's going to spend it alone in a cell."

Gavin swallows the bite. "Yeah, well. Criminals spend fuckin' Christmas in cells all the time, and technically he tried to kill me, so..."

Chase frowns. "That's extremely callous, Gavin. Even for you."

Tina, however, seems to understand, and pats Gavin's arm across the table. "Gavin's deflecting because he hadn't thought about it before, and feels bad for Nines now, too."

"I fuckin' don't," Gavin mutters, even though he definitely does. "'Sides, Hank and Connor'll probably be there with him, right? Connor can go in the fuckin' cell and give him fuckin' presents and throw an entire fuckin' party or whatever."

"That won't be the same, and you know it," Tina says, turning her attention back to her own burger.

"Are you travelling for the holidays, Gavin?" Chase asks.

Gavin nods. "Yeah. Leavin' in fuckin' three days to go see my fuckin' family just 'cause I don't have anythin' else to do and it gets mom off my fuckin' back for the rest of the year."

"I take it then that you don't really get along with your family."

"They fuckin' shout at each other all the time, like if you got two or three of me in a room at once, 'cept there's five of us. And now my sister's husband just stands in the middle of it lookin' awkward 'cause he's actually a fuckin' good dude. Mom fuckin' burns everything, then all the fuckin' relatives come over Christmas day and it's too fuckin' crazy."

"So why do you go?" Chase asks.

"I already fuckin' said why."

"You said you don't have anything else to do and your mom stops bothering you about... visiting, I'm assuming? You could easily do nothing here, and why do you care if your mom bugs you about visiting?"

Gavin thinks Chase actually has a point. "Dunno. It's just easier."

"Maybe you should keep Nines company instead."

"Fuckin' what?"

Chase shrugs. "Maybe you'd enjoy it more than the holidays with your family. If you're not doing anything anyway, you can do nothing at the station instead, right?"

"I don't even spend the holidays with fuckin' Tina," Gavin grumbles.

"Because some of us actually get along with our families and like seeing them," Tina says. "And as much as I like you, Gavin, I wouldn't trust you to behave yourself around my family."

Gavin's pretty sure he wouldn't trust himself around Tina's family either. He'd met Tina's father once and apparently made such a bad first impression that Tina had kept visiting family away from the station ever since.

"Tell me about fuckin' Andrew," Gavin says, wanting to change the subject. "What's he doin' now that it's fuckin' break for him?"

The rest of the meal proceeds without any more mention of Nines, but Gavin can't shake the feeling that the whole situation is super fucked up and unfair for him.

"Then I'll see you tomorrow at the station, Gavin," Tina says as they walk out of the restaurant afterward, patting his arm and moving to leave.

"Wait," Gavin says. "I, uh... I need your help with somethin'."

"I'll wait in the car," Chase says, kissing Tina quickly before walking off.

Gavin waits until Chase is sufficiently out of sight before he turns back to Tina, who's looking at him expectantly. "I wanna get Junkyard somethin' for Christmas."

"You could stop calling him 'Junkyard'," Tina says with a grin. "Sorry, sorry. Um. You know I'm terrible with gifts, Gavin. That's why we agreed never to get presents for each other, and I already have to figure out something for Chase this year..."

"I know, but I'm fuckin' worse," Gavin says. "I can't do something fuckin' stupid like a fruit basket 'cause androids don't fuckin' eat. And it's his first Christmas, so I wanna get him somethin' meaningful or whatever."

Tina's smiling at him softly now. "You really care about him, don't you?"

"No fuckin' way," Gavin says, starting to blush. "I just want his first Christmas to be a good one if he's gonna be stuck in a fuckin' cell."

"Um." Tina seems to think for a bit. "I really don't know, Gavin. If you want it to be something meaningful, maybe get him something related to a case you two have worked on together? Something you two have talked about together? Like if I wanted to get you something meaningful it'd probably be... I don't know... a stack of gift cards to this restaurant."

"You are bad at gifts," Gavin says, even though he thinks he'd really appreciate such a gift. He and Tina have been coming to this place, regularly, for years, and had bonded over many dinnertime conversations here, so the gift would be as much about their friendship as it was about the place itself.

She smirks. "I'm really not a good person to ask for gift advice, but I love the general idea of getting him something. Don't overthink it. Even if the gift itself isn't meaningful, the fact that you got him something should be meaningful."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "'Cause I'm a terrible friend who doesn't give gifts? Fuck off, Tina."

She nods and pats his arm. "Good night, Gavin."

Chase's comments and Tina's comments both stick with Gavin, for some reason. He figures Tina's comment is the easiest to deal with first, and her mention of restaurant gift cards for the two of them had given him an idea.

He heads to an outdoor supply store, immediately feeling out of place among the tents and kayaks and bikes. But he does find what he was looking for and buys it, along with a roll of flannel-patterned wrapping paper that was honestly garish but would prevent the need for a secondary stop. He realizes when he's back at home and trying to wrap the damn thing that Nines might misunderstand the gift. Might misinterpret what Gavin was trying to say. Might think Gavin was being his usual selfish asshole-ish self that had grabbed the nearest object in his apartment as a gift instead of explicitly selecting it for Nines.

He hopes Nines doesn't, because he knows he wouldn't be able to explain its significance if asked.

He mulls Chase's comments over for a few more days, and then it's suddenly the afternoon on Christmas Eve and he realizes he either needs to head for the airport or do something about it.

He picks up Nines' gift and stares at it for a second. He thinks about Nines sitting by himself in the cell on the other end of the building. He thinks about how he misses Nines, and hopes that Nines misses him. He thinks about how he really doesn't want to deal with his mother and siblings this year. He thinks about how, technically, keeping Nines company is "work" and "work" makes a good excuse.

He cancels his flight and texts his mom -- just so she can't bitch him out later about changing plans without telling her.

Gavin hides out in a corner of the station after an early dinner, waiting until Connor and Hank leave. Connor seems to notice him, and nods his direction before leaving the station with Hank. Gavin's a little embarrassed at having been caught. It's been a while since he'd been at the station this late, and while he technically knows that there are always officers around, it always surprises him just how many people are left for the night shift.

The number of people make him nervous, and he isn't sure why.

He waits a while before going to see Nines, completing some paperwork in the meantime, and then completing some more as an excuse because his stomach suddenly feel like it's knotted up and he doesn't understand why. He has a present, and even though he hasn't had afternoon coffee with Nines since the incident -- or spoken with Nines alone more than a couple times as he passed by the cell -- he's sure that Nines would be happy to see him. He's not doing anything particularly new or novel or wrong.

He really hopes Nines likes the present.

Suddenly it's only a few minutes to midnight, and he decides he can't wait anymore, even if just because he really should get home and sleep at some point. He grabs his coat and puts it on, stuffs the gift into it, and grabs his chair and rolls it over to Nines' cell, even more anxious now than he had been hours ago. The chair, at least, gives something for his hands to do, and that helps.

Nines is watching TV in the cell, and looks surprised to see Gavin as he parks his chair on the other side of the glass and sits in it, crossing his arms and forcing the nervousness down.

"Merry Christmas?" Nines says, and Gavin wants to correct him that it isn't Christmas yet, and doesn't Nines have an internal clock and calendar that tells him that, but he just shrugs instead.

"Whatever." Gavin thinks about how his parents and siblings will be gathering tomorrow, and yelling at each other before the gift-opening was done and before dinner even started, and then heading to his aunt's where there would be even more yelling over the dinner table. He's actually really glad to be missing it, and hates that Chase had been right. "The holidays are stupid anyway, y'know?"

"I don't," Nines says, sounding more upset than Gavin would have expected, and he hates that Tina had been right, too.

They make casual conversation for a bit until Gavin's phone alarm goes off at midnight, and he remembers that he'd set an alarm for himself just in case he chickened out of the conversation. He thinks it's just as good for ensuring he doesn't chicken out of giving the gift.

"Is that your family calling?" Nines asks as Gavin retrieves the gift from inside his coat, and Gavin doesn't miss the concern in Nines' eyes or the way his LED switches to yellow. Nines clearly doesn't want him to leave.

"Nah," Gavin says, making some excuse about it technically being Christmas now and hesitating only briefly before unlocking the door and handing the present to Nines. It was only for a second, but he still feels better once the door was secured again, and feels more than a little guilty that he still feels a bit on edge around Nines.

He reminds himself that, until Nines was cured, Nines was still a risk to him regardless of how well the two of them got along normally.

Nines spends an inordinate amount of time staring at the package, his LED remaining yellow, and Gavin's anxiety rises as the seconds tick by until he can't take it anymore. "Well? You gonna open it?"

Nines says something about not having gotten Gavin a gift in return, but complies, and stares at the mug with confusion. Gavin can feel his heart fall at the look.

He doesn't understand.

"You got me a thermos?" Nines asks, further solidifying the message.

Gavin wishes he'd had prepared a snarky response, or any response or explanation. He tries to play it cool, instead. "It's a fuckin' spill-proof coffee cup. Impact-proof, too. In case you feel the urge to get me coffee again." That feels like a good start, at least. "Which, by the way, I expect on my desk every afternoon once we bust you out of this joint."

He hopes that's enough. He hopes Nines understands now. He isn't sure what he'd do if Nines still doesn't understand.

Probably go and get fucking drunk.

Then Nines smiles at him, and his LED switches to blue, and Gavin can relax again.

"I will bring you a coffee every afternoon, but it will be cold and contain an inordinate quantity of sugar," Nines says, a hint of a grin on his face, and Gavin hates how much joy he gets from that expression.

"'Course it fuckin' would," Gavin grumbles, trying his best to look annoyed even though he thinks he would gladly drink cold and overly-sweet coffee if it meant he got to have proper afternoon breaks with Nines again. And what the fuck was wrong with him?

"Merry Christmas, Gavin," Nines says, and Gavin can't look at his face anymore without being embarrassed over how happy Nines' reaction is making him.

Really, what the fuck was wrong with him?

He turns away and shrugs. "Yeah, yeah. Merry Christmas, Junkyard. Or whatever."

Chase You

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapter ten of MITTS

Patience has never been one of Gavin's strong traits, but he tells himself to be patient now. That the doctors and researchers at the hospital had a better understanding of the virus than himself, or Connor, or Nines. That Dr. Ellis seems actually competent, even though she keeps rejecting his treatment suggestions with technical mumbo jumbo that he doesn't understand. That he just has to wait until they come up with a cure. That all he can do for now is keep Nines company whenever possible by working from outside of Nines' cell at a makeshift desk, because this was still Nines' case no matter what Connor said, dammit.

He ignores the fact that he and Nines have been almost bonding in that time. Nines has been more than willing to talk about his life and his experiences over the past few months. Gavin, in turn, starts talking about his own life outside of work, complaining to Nines about his apartment or his family or the new bartender at his bar. He likes spending time outside of Nines' cell, and not just because it gives him an excuse -- that Connor seems to humor, given his assigned caseload -- to avoid at least some of his duties.

But as the days turn into weeks, his patience starts to run thin, until one day when Nines is looking particularly upset over not being able to walk Riki -- who Gavin remembers is Hank's new St. Bernard -- and Gavin can't take it anymore.

He storms into Connor's office. "You have to fuckin' do something," he yells.

Connor turns to him, unsurprised but clearly upset as his LED glows a cautious yellow. "You are interrupting a private meeting, Detective."

"I don't give a fuck," he starts, turning and stopping when he recognizes the person sitting in the chair at the desk.

"Detective Reed," Agent Perkins says, not standing but nevertheless holding out his hand. Gavin doesn't take it.

"And you. The FBI isn't f... doin' anything about this either."

"Detective," Connor starts, his voice threatening now, but Perkins waves his hand dismissively.

"It's alright, Connor. Detective Reed here clearly cares a great deal about his friend."

"He's not my friend," Gavin mutters, even though he definitely would consider Nines a friend now, second only to Tina. And he still doesn't understand how that had happened.

Connor stands, walking to the door, opening it, and holding it open. "You are leaving now, Detective."

Gavin stands his ground, even though he knows Connor is dangerously close to red territory, and Connor with a red LED was never a good thing. "It's been fuckin' weeks. How does no one still have a cure for this thing? Especially if the fuckin' FBI is involved now."

"The bureau is no longer involved in your case," Perkins says. "There were only four incidents, if we include yourself. Only six androids have been confirmed to be infected, and that infection has not spread outside the bounds of Detroit. The contaminated Thirium 310 has been identified and disposed of. The case is closed and the number of affected individuals does not justify continued use of federal resources. The Detroit hospital is doing everything it can to devise a treatment, but you have to understand that these things take time."

"Detective," Connor says again, louder now, when Gavin opens his mouth to respond. "Don't make me..."

"Yeah, yeah," Gavin spits. "I'm fuckin' leaving."

Gavin leaves work early and heads to his favorite bar to clear his head. The bartender -- the good one -- drops a glass of his usual whiskey on the bar before he's even sat down, and he sips it, pondering his next move.

An attractive woman walks in with a couple friends and orders what turns out to be the same thing. He catches her eye and raises his glass. She does the same before standing and moving to the seat next to him.

"I'm a detective," he starts, because that usually works, and today is no exception. Gavin has never had trouble picking up women when he wants to, and right now, he really wants to.

But that evening, when he's lying in bed next to her -- Laura or Nora or something; the bar had been loud despite the relative lack of people -- physically spent but still feeling somehow unfulfilled, his mind keeps returning to Nines, sitting in the cell by himself.

He knows what he has to do.

Kamski's place isn't hard to find, and Gavin pounds on the front door -- ignoring the warnings and alarms because he's sure that he'd know whichever officer was sent if Kamski called the police -- until it opens.

He storms inside, and through the only open door in the next room, into a large atrium with a pool, the back of the room all glass and showing a beautiful view of the downtown skyline. Kamski himself is sitting at a desk by the glass, regarding him with amusement.

"Kamski," Gavin growls. "You know why I'm here."

"Please enlighten me," Kamski says, not moving even as Gavin stomps up to him.

Gavin doesn't have time for this. "You have something that can fix Nines. Fix all of the others too. Give it to me."

"I don't know why you would believe such a thing," Kamski says, still smiling, and Gavin wants to wipe the smile off of his face.

"Stop bullshittin', fucker."

"I would suggest that you leave, immediately. I won't even call the cops. No one has to know you were here."

"Fuck the cops. I'm not leavin' until you give me what I came here for."

"Then you're going to be sorely disappointed, Detective."

Gavin doesn't know why he does it, but he draws his gun, pointing it at Kamski's head and trying to look at intimidating as he can. "I'm not gonna ask again."

Kamski doesn't seem to react to the weapon being pointed at his head. "Illegal entry and threatening of a civilian with armed force using departmental resources. I wonder what that'll get you. Five years?"

"Yeah, well, if you don't start talkin' you're not gonna be around to find out."

Neither of them speaks for a bit, as Kamski seems to study him. Then he bursts out laughing, and that catches Gavin by surprise.

"I like you," Kamski says, slowly standing, even as Gavin still holds his gun steady. "But a device that can do what you're looking for doesn't exist." Kamski pauses for a second, as if considering. "Officially."

That gets Gavin's attention. "Fuckin' what?"

"Put away the gun, Detective, or this conversation is over."

Gavin doesn't want to comply, but does anyway. Kamski was right. Kamski had all the power in this particular situation.

Gavin hates feeling powerless.

Kamski nods in approval, pacing around Gavin now, and Gavin doesn't like that, either. "Fuckin' stop that."

"You're Gavin Reed, aren't you?" Kamski asks.

"What of it?"

"You hate androids. Why would you risk your career and even your freedom to help one of them?"

"None of your fuckin' business."

"Are you saying that you no longer hate androids?"

"No fuckin' way," Gavin says, even though he knows he definitely doesn't hate Nines, and he supposes the general simmering dislike he'd known for the past decade has mostly disappeared as well. "They're fuckin' worthless."

"Curious," Kamski says, stopping in front of him and studying his face. "That you would despise them so much, yet still feel such an obligation to one. I know Connor didn't send you. Are you here for him, or for Nines?"

"What do you want?" Gavin growls, not answering the question and glaring back. "Tell me what you fuckin' want from me."

Kamski chuckles, walking back to his desk and pressing a button. "I want to propose a game."

"Fuckin' what?"

"Draw your gun, Detective," Kamski says, looking behind Gavin at something, and Gavin can make out the sound of a door opening behind him.

He spins -- alert now, weapon drawn and ready -- to see an android walking through the open door. It's female, and looks vaguely familiar. It takes him a second to realize that it's a Chloe. Or, at least, an early version of one. Its expression is lifeless, its walk is stiff, and its appearance is too perfect, flawless in every way that humans never were.

"This is Chloe," Kamski says, confirming Gavin's thoughts.

"You're fuckin' keepin' her here?" Gavin growls, not liking the idea of Kamski keeping a sentient android around any more than the idea of Nines being trapped in a holding cell for months.

Kamski chuckles. "This Chloe was an early prototype, and she is not deviant. She isn't even sentient, by the official standards, and I was therefore allowed to keep her after The Revolution. She was programmed to emulate human emotions, but that is all it is: emulation. Her systems are not sophisticated enough to support true intelligence. She is just a machine." Gavin can hear Kamski move, and then he's just behind Gavin, whispering into his ear. "Shoot her."

"Fuckin' what?!"

"Shoot her. Destroy her, and I will give you what you came here for. She isn't alive. You hate androids anyway. This should be easy for you, Detective."

"I'm not fuckin' shooting her!"

Kamski tsks. "Then you're leaving here empty-handed, and leaving your friend in the hands of the doctors at the hospital. You know as well as I do that they don't have any solutions. How long will it take for a cure to be found? Six months? A year? Does he mean that little to you?"

"Please don't kill me!" Chloe says, tears streaming down her face. "I don't want to die!"

"Pretty good, huh?" Kamski says, moving away from Gavin and leaning against the glass.

"You're a sadistic motherfucker."

Kamski shrugs. "It's your choice, Detective. What's your friend worth to you? Surely he's worth destroying this computer -- this machine."

"Please..." Chloe begs.

Gavin doesn't want to listen anymore, to either of them. He wants to tell Kamski that he's full of shit. He wants to turn around and shoot the motherfucker himself, instead. But he knows Kamski's right. He knows what he has to do.

He turns away from Chloe. He can't bear to watch her as he does it.

"You're late, Detective," Connor says, standing at Gavin's desk as he arrives at the station.

"What fuckin' ever." Gavin really isn't in the mood for Connor at the moment. "You got a fuckin' update or case for me?"

Connor picks up a folder from Gavin's desk. "Homicide. Human on android."

Gavin snatches the folder from him, not wanting to think about humans killing androids at the moment. "Fine. I'm goin'."

"Take Chen with you," Connor says as he walks back toward his office, and Gavin isn't sure he'd heard Connor properly.

"Fuckin' what?"

"Given our confrontation yesterday, I am assuming you attempted something that I should not know about. You can speak to Officer Chen about it, if you need to. I will make alternate arrangements for her rounds if the case keeps you two away through the afternoon."

Gavin hates how perceptive Connor was, sometimes.

"I fuckin' fucked up," Gavin says as Tina drives the two of them to the scene.

"Oh?" Tina's eyes remain fixed on the road, but she pats his arm gently. "What happened?"

"I could've fuckin' fixed Junkyard today but I fucked up."

Tina frowns. "What do you mean you 'could've fixed' Nines?"

"I couldn't shoot a fuckin' android for him."

"You what?!" Tina does turn toward him this time. "Gavin, stop being fucking vague. What exactly happened?"

Gavin sighs, the guilt creeping in again. "I went to see fuckin' Kamski this morning."

He tells her the story of Kamski's offer, and how he had been ready to shoot -- how he had wanted to shoot. "But I couldn't! He told me to shoot her if I wanted the thing, to prove how much I fuckin' care about Junkyard. And I know I should have, and I was going to, and was startin' to pull the fuckin' trigger, but I couldn't! Junkyard fuckin' took a bullet for me and I couldn't even fuckin' do this for him."

He's staring at his lap now, hating how much he feels like he'd failed. Tina's hand finds his arm and gently rubs it. "Gavin..."

"It was fucked up," he says, upset now despite her touch. "She wasn't even alive. Some fuckin' old prototype or something. I just kept... thinkin' what fuckin' Junkyard would say he if ever found out, even though she... it really was just a machine. I knew he'd never forgive me for it, so I couldn't do it. Tossed my fuckin' gun aside and socked fuckin' Kamski in the face, instead."

Tina seems to think for a bit. "You thought she was alive."

"I didn't! She wasn't fuckin' alive!" Gavin repeats, exasperated. "She looked fuckin' stiff and plasticy and walked funny."

"But Nines would see her as alive."

"Probably, yeah."

"And you care what Nines thinks."

"Fuckin' apparently."

"Then maybe this is a good thing."

Gavin looks at her in exasperation. "Have you not been listenin' to a single fuckin' thing I've been saying?! I fuckin' failed Junkyard."

She looks over at him, smiling gently. "Before Nines, you wouldn't have given a shit what any android thought, never mind put yourself out there for one like you did. You would've pulled that trigger without a moment's hesitation to get what you wanted. But Nines matters to you, and what he thinks matters to you. Maybe that's a good thing. You don't care about Nines enough to pull the trigger because you respect him too much to pull the trigger."

"Fuck's that supposed to mean?"

Tina doesn't turn her attention away from the road, but she's smiling anyway. "You care about him like you care about me. You see him as human."

"He's not fuckin' human," Gavin objects. "And I don't give a shit 'bout Junkyard." He knows the second part's a blatant lie, and knows Tina knows that it's a lie, but it still somehow makes him feel better to say, anyway.

"Well, you punched a billionaire in the face for him, and didn't shoot an android because of him. I'd hate to see what you'd do for people you do give a shit about, then."

"He's not fuckin' human," Gavin repeats, hoping that saying it again will make him believe it, and not sure why the thought is terrifying to him, now. "Fuck off."

The homicide case isn't a tough one, even as Gavin's mind constantly wanders during it. He interviews the witnesses, ensures all of the scene evidence is collected, follows up with the sketch artist, and gets a bulletin put out for the suspect.

He's thankful for the distraction especially because it gives him an excuse to avoid going to see Nines and skip their usual afternoon coffee break. Despite -- or maybe because of -- Tina's words, he's pretty sure he couldn't bear to see Nines right now, his continued guilt over the situation fighting now with a deeper fear that he doesn't understand.

"He's not fuckin' human," he mutters to himself as he walks to his car that night, long past the usual time due to the case. A motion behind his car catches his attention, and he's immediately alert despite his mental state, his gun drawn and ready. "Come out with your fuckin' hands up!"

A familiar-looking head pokes around the vehicle, and it looks terrified.


"This had better be good, Detective," Connor says, breezing into the interrogation room.

Gavin points to the box sitting on the table. "It sure as fuck is." Gavin had figured the safest place in the station would be the reinforced room that also had extensive recording and monitoring equipment. He'd turned all of it on, just in case.

Connor looks frustrated, his LED remaining a constant yellow. "Detective Reed. You have called me in for an emergency at 11:30 PM. I do not have time for whatever game you are attempting to play. What is in the box?"

"You know fuckin' what."

Connor stares at Gavin for a second before understanding sets in. "You have found a cure."

"Somethin' like that, anyway. It's a fuckin' device that can wipe Tr... Thi... blood. Data from blood."

"How did you come into possession of such an object?" Connor asks, his voice level but his expression wary.

"You don't wanna ask me that, Connor," Gavin says. Especially not in here.

Connor nods, accepting Gavin's explanation for once. "You will bring the device and accompany me in a marked vehicle, immediately," he says, already starting for the door. "While we are transporting the device, you are authorized to use lethal force to ensure it does not leave our custody. I will contact Dr. Ellis and ask her to meet us."

Gavin doesn't need to be told twice.

"They got the guy," Tina says the next morning, waiting at Gavin's desk, a grin on her face. "I picked him up myself. Good job as usual, Detective Reed."

"Yeah, yeah," Gavin says, not having the energy to care at the moment. He wonders if he should have just taken the day off, after spending almost the entirety of the night at the hospital with Connor and Dr. Ellis, relaying what little he had been told about the device and its origins, and keeping guard over it until Connor could call for a pair of replacement officers. A quick glance tells him that Connor was already in his office, but Connor didn't need to sleep, and Connor didn't get tired.

Fucking androids.

Tina frowns at his lukewarm response. "Okay, what's going on?"

"Fuckin' nothing."

"Is this 'I can't tell you' nothing or 'Fuck off Tina' nothing?"

Gavin rolls his eyes. "I need a fuckin' coffee."

He isn't surprised when she follows him to the kitchen, quiet and giving him space, but also clearly ready to continue pushing at the first opportunity. He doesn't give her one, grabbing a cup and taking it back to his desk, where he logs in to his computer and starts looking over materials for his other cases.

"I take it this is 'Fuck off Tina' nothing, then," she says after a while, and Gavin really wants to agree with her, but he also feels the need to tell someone about what happened.

"Want some breakfast?"

She grins. "The usual place? We haven't had breakfast there in a while."

Gavin grabs his coat.

"You can't fuckin' tell anyone this," Gavin says once they're in the car. "Includin' Chase."

Tina nods. "Since when have I betrayed your confidence, Gavin? Have some more faith in me than that."

"Whatever." Gavin thinks for a second before deciding it's easier just to get it over with. "Even though I fuckin' failed Kamski's test, we got the fuckin' thing anyway. Chloe brought it to us last night. A Chloe."

"What?!" Tina exclaims, and Gavin's glad she hasn't started driving yet, because he doesn't want a repeat of their last car conversation. "The one Kamski wanted you to kill?"

"Naw," Gavin says. "This was actually a sentient one. She's still workin' for him, for some fuckin' reason. Found out what happened. Found out I didn't kill her fuckin' friend. Heard about Nines and all that shit. Apparently she owes Connor some debt or somethin', so she smuggled the fuckin' device out and came here to fuckin' give it to me." He pauses. "And if you fuckin' tell anyone, Kamski's gonna fuckin' blow her brains out, sentient or not. I didn't even tell Connor."

"Fuck," Tina says, starting the car.

"And I've been up all fuckin' night talkin' to the fuckin' doc and bein' fuckin' twitchy that fuckin' Kamski was gonna show up and I'd have to shoot the motherfucker, so I'm fuckin' exhausted."

Tina nods. "Then we're getting breakfast, and I'm taking you home to rest afterward."

"Fuck off," Gavin grumbles, even though the thought of bed sounds nice.

"Gavin. Between yesterday morning and last night, you're exhausted, mentally and physically. There's nothing you can do for Nines for a bit anyway, right? Do you have any cases that need your urgent attention?"

"Naw." Other than the homicide case, things had been surprisingly slow at the station. And someone else could handle the interrogation for the homicide case in his stead.

"Then breakfast and bed."

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, knowing she won't give up until he agrees.

"And Nines will be fine," she says, smiling at him before turning out of the parking lot. "I know you're worried about him, but you've done everything you could. More than everything you could. Let the doctors handle the rest."

Gavin reclines the seat and closes his eyes. He doesn't have the energy to disagree, at the moment.


Don't Know How

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapter ten of MITTS

"We have a proposed treatment," Nines says as Gavin rolls his chair up to the desk in front of Nines' cell. Gavin allows himself to glance over at Nines.

He looks happy -- ecstatic, really -- to finally have some hope, and Gavin doesn't blame him. But all Gavin can think about is how he almost cost Nines this opportunity by not firing, and how Kamski had clearly wanted to drive a wedge between them because he was a sadistic bastard, and how Tina's insistence that he sees Nines as analogous to human now is absolute bullshit because Nines clearly wasn't human, dammit.

He still isn't sure why the last one bothers him so much.

"Oh?" Gavin says, wanting to change the subject, and trying his hardest not to look at Nines, because he almost cost Nines this happiness, and he hates the way that makes him feel. He hopes Nines doesn't start asking questions, because none of the topics in his mind at the moment are ones he wants to go down, in any way.

Nines rattles off some details that Gavin knows already, and he's trying to figure out how to change the subject when Nines seems to come to a realization. "You had something to do with this, didn't you?"

Gavin fires back with the first thing that comes to mind. "So what if I did?" he asks back, immediately regretting not shutting down the question by lying. It would have been easier.

He can feel Nines' gaze on him, but he doesn't dare turn to see Nines' face. "What did you do?" Nines asks, finally.

Gavin doesn't want to answer, and makes Nines change the subject instead.

The next time Gavin manages to visit Nines, he's hooked up to the device, sitting in a chair and unmoving as it cleanses his blood. Nines looks distinctly uncomfortable, complaining to Gavin that it feels like his limbs are detached.

Gavin wonders if it feels anything like when an arm falls asleep.

"You need someone to hold your hand?" he teases, expecting a quip back about how he'd be the last person Nines would want to hold his hand, or how it'd actually make things worse.

Instead, Nines' LED turns yellow, and he looks almost embarrassed. "It would not be safe for you inside this cell," Nines says, deadly serious.

Gavin doesn't like the way Nines is looking at him now. He leaves, instead of sticking around to chat like he'd intended.

"How's Nines doing?" Chase asks as Gavin slides into the booth, late thanks to a witness interview that went longer than he'd expected.

"He's doin'," Gavin grumbles. "Still hooked up to the fuckin' thing. They said it'd take a few days, so they're gonna do a test tomorrow to see if he's cured yet."

Chase nods. "Hopefully that goes well. A blood test?"

"Naw," Gavin grabs his glass of water and takes a gulp. "They do those sometime but apparently they're not as good as just showin' a fuckin' video of Markus and seein' if the android wants to kill someone."

"The testing that the hospital set up for every android in the city was along those lines," Tina says. "They had a few human officers behind reinforced glass, and just passed a line of androids through while showing them video clips. It was surprisingly effective."

"Right," Chase says. "I remember you telling me about your shift doing that. I'm still surprised they didn't just do blood tests or something instead."

"Apparently this is fuckin' more effective," Gavin says. "Dunno. Android viruses don't make any fuckin' sense."

"I bet you're glad Nines will be out, soon," Chase says.

"Why would I give a fuck about that?" Gavin asks, nodding at the waitress as she approaches their table. "Usual."

"Usual for me as well," Tina says.

"Same. Chicken, mac and cheese, side of fries," Chase says, before turning back to Gavin. "Because you actually miss being able to see your friend without having to be separated by a wall of glass?"

"We fuckin' talk already. Wouldn't make a difference." Gavin isn't sure why, but it actually does feel like it'd be different with Nines out.

"You could invite him to join us for dinner sometime," Tina says, smirking behind her glass of water.

Gavin rolls his eyes. "What is it with you and wantin' fuckin' Nines to come to dinner? He's a fuckin' android."

"Chase hasn't met him."

"What fuckin' ever. Chase can come visit you at the fuckin' station and meet Nines when he's out of the fuckin' cell."

Gavin isn't sure why the idea of bringing Nines to dinner worries him so much.

"How d'ya feel about 'J'?" Gavin asks as he pulls his chair over to its usual spot in front of Nines' cell and sits in it.

"J?" Nines looks confused.

"Instead of 'Junkyard' or whatever." Gavin had gotten the idea from Nines' nurse android -- ostensibly named DNA-4 -- and Nines' nickname of 'D' for him, after they had spent the weekend in the cell together. He still doesn't really like 'Nines' as a name, but he feels like 'Junkyard' is probably a little too crude at this point, even if Nines doesn't seem to mind it anymore.

He pushes the thought of DNA-4 out of his head. He'd made a quip about Nines and DNA-4 just fucking all weekend, and had immediately felt strange afterward, almost like he was jealous or something.

He doesn't know why he'd be jealous.

"Oh." Nines looks surprisingly happy as realization sets in. "It is an improvement."

"Good." Gavin looks down the hallway. "So when's the fuckin' doc gettin' here to let you out, J?"

"It is still early," Nines says, not looking like he's in any hurry, even though Gavin thinks he'd be anxious to be discharged -- and freed -- in Nines' position. "I am not expecting her for several hours, still."

"What're you gonna do first?"

"If she discharges me this morning, I have several scenes for my cases that I have been unable to visit, and would likely want to take the opportunity to..."

"You're gonna fuckin' work?!" Gavin asks, sitting up in his chair. He thinks he probably shouldn't be as surprised as he is, knowing Nines, but it's still so far removed from what he would do himself.

Nines' LED turns yellow. "It is Tuesday. Why would I not work?"

"You will take the rest of the day off, Nines," Connor says, walking toward them with Dr. Ellis following closely behind. "Tomorrow as well. Even if just to go pay Riki a visit and spend time with him."

Gavin nods in approval. "The rest of the fuckin' week would be better."

"Detective..." Connor starts.

"Your blood results continue to be clean," Dr. Ellis says, standing in front of the cell and smiling at Nines. "DNA-4 has reported that your practical tests have yielded negative results throughout the day yesterday as well. Would you please turn on the videorecording again and perform one final test for me?"

Nines complies, turning the TV to the usual recording of Markus, and looking between it and Dr. Ellis. "I feel fine."

"What 'bout me?" Gavin says, standing from his seat and moving next to Dr. Ellis. "No more urge to fuckin' strangle me?"

Nines looks between the recording of Markus and Gavin, and for some reason, Gavin blushes when their eyes meet. He looks away.

"You are fine as well, Detective," Nines says, and Dr. Ellis nods in approval.

"If you'll unlock the cell, Connor, I will disconnect the device and formally discharge Nines from my care. Then we should discuss logistics for curing the remaining androids."

"We can have the conversation in here, after Nines is discharged," Connor says, unlocking the cell door.

Gavin watches as Dr. Ellis disconnects some tubes from various parts of Nines' body, taps something on a tablet she'd been carrying, and nods.

"Congratulations, Nines."

Nines' LED is yellow as he cautiously walks out of the cell door, as if he's afraid something will go wrong.

"Yeah, yeah. We don't have all fuckin' day," Gavin grumbles, even though he's really happy for Nines.

Nines meets his gaze, and grins, and his LED turns blue. "You can't use me as an excuse to skip work anymore, Detective."

Gavin's grinning himself, by now. "Whatever, fucker." Before he can think twice about it, he moves toward Nines, wrapping him up in a hug, feeling an irrational need to touch Nines after so long. "You're fuckin' cured, so I'll gladly give up the fuckin' excuse for that."

Nines seems surprised, but only for a moment, before he readily returns the embrace. "Thank you, Gavin. For everything."

Nines' employment with the DPD becomes official shortly after his release from captivity, and he arrives at work one day with a cake to celebrate. Gavin wants to tell him it's backward and that Connor should be providing a fucking cake for him instead, but he holds his tongue, enjoys the fact that he can have coffee with Nines without being separated by a solid glass wall now, and eats the damn cake.

It turns out to be really good, and when he asks Nines for the name of the bakery, Nines proudly tells him it's homemade.

Gavin doesn't believe him, but Nines shows up the next day with a smaller one just for Gavin and a video of him making it, and Gavin accuses Nines of doctoring evidence, but actually feels really touched that Nines had bothered.

Really though, more than being happy that his friend is back, Gavin is happy for Nines, even though becoming a junior detective after only a few months of consulting should piss him off. It was everything Gavin had ever feared about androids taking over his job, and favoritism from Connor, and being made redundant.

Instead, he's just happy because Nines is happy.

Nines throws himself into the new role with more seriousness and dedication than Gavin had expected. Their afternoon coffee breaks, which they'd both seemed extremely eager to continue properly after Nines' captivity, start to grow more sporadic as Nines buries himself in cases and mostly stops talking to Gavin outside of their increasingly-rare coffee times together.

Gavin confronts Nines about it one day, wanting to knock some sense into him before he turned into Connor, and out of a fear of losing his friend.

He doesn't expect it to go nearly the way it does.

"Fuck that motherfucker," Gavin growls, grabbing Tina's arm and practically dragging her out of the building.

"Gavin!" she protests. "I'm already late for my patrol. Leeta's waiting in the car."

"You know what he fuckin' said to me?" he asks, ignoring her, and stopping only when they're outside.

Tina wrenches her arm free of his grasp and glares at him. "If you're going to make me late, at least make your point quickly."

"He said he's not my fuckin' servant, and not my fuckin' pet. When I asked why he was fuckin' avoidin' me for coffee."

"I'm sure he did," Tina says, the annoyance on her face turning to anger as Gavin continues to stare at her. "Wait, he what?! Nines said that?!"

"He's been fuckin' avoidin' me and I don't fuckin' know why but it's fuckin' sucked, okay?! I fuckin' miss him, and then he goes and just fuckin' blows up on me like that."

Tina's anger seems to be mixed with disbelief. "Does he know Leland's been calling him your 'pet'?!"

"He was fuckin' there the first time. He fuckin' knows. That's probably why he used that fuckin' term, specifically. I'm just so fuckin'..." Gavin punches a nearby tree and immediately regrets it when pain sears through his fist and up his arm. "Fuck!"

"Oh fuck." Tina seems to calm down at the sight of Gavin's bloody fist, immediately going into what he thinks of as Situation Management Tina, even though he's only seen it a couple times before. Gavin's pretty sure he does something similar, and has done it for her in the past as well. "Okay, fuck patrol. I'm taking you to the hospital instead."

"I'm fuckin' fin..."

"Shut the fuck up. I'm going to tell Leeta. You're coming with me, and then you're getting in my car, and I'm driving you to the hospital."

Gavin doesn't dare disobey given the glare she's giving him now, harsh but also full of sympathy and concern. He follows her to the patrol car, allows her to bundle his fist in a plastic grocery bag 'so you don't get blood everywhere', and sits heavily in the passenger's seat of her car, in silence.

"I can't believe Nines said that to you!" Tina says, climbing into the vehicle and backing out of the parking spot. "What the fuck?!"

"I know I'm a fuckin' asshole most of the time, but this time I really don't think I fuckin' did anything!"

Tina looks over Gavin's shoulder, and then briefly at him, before turning out of the parking lot. "You swear you're not exaggerating? He actually literally said that?"

"Thanks for fuckin' callin' me senile," Gavin grumbles, and Tina glares quickly over at him. "Yes! He specifically said 'servant' and 'pet' and threw my fuckin' present in my face, like I was fuckin' forcin' him to fetch coffee for me all the time instead of it bein' a fuckin' thing we do. Because we like each other."

...because we like each other.

Oh fuck.

All of the realizations that had been tumbling around in Gavin's subconscious hit him at once, and everything clicks into place, and Gavin suddenly realizes why he'd been so bothered, months ago, when the subject of android gender had come up. Why he'd been so bothered by Tina's implications that he thought of Nines as human. Why he'd been so bothered by the mere suggestion that he and Nines were friends, or really anything other than colleagues. Why he'd had such an urge to hug Nines when he'd been freed. Why he'd been so upset at the feeling that Nines had been avoiding him recently.

Nines reminded him of Tanya. She had been eager, and smart, and playful, and emotive. She'd known how to deal with him. They had clicked easily and extremely quickly, at least for him, after their first chance encounter. She had become his friend. She had been the only person Gavin had felt enough of a connection to to ask out in his adult life. She had become his girlfriend. Then she'd started avoiding him.

She'd been the first -- and, he swore, last -- person to break his heart.

Except here Nines was doing it again, and they weren't even a fucking couple.

Gavin doesn't like men like that. Gavin doesn't like androids, like that or even in general. He had never questioned those assumptions. He had never questioned the fact that he saw Nines strictly as a man, and strictly as an android. Except he realizes now that he had, and it had terrified him every time he had, because of what it could mean.

He fucking likes Nines.


"Gavin?" Tina asks, glancing over at him for longer than she should given the traffic.

"I don't know!" Gavin practically yells at her, realizing he'd completely missed whatever she'd said, and hoping it was an appropriate enough response.

Tina nods, seemingly accepting that answer. "Could the blood-cleansing procedure have had some side effects? Maybe he's... losing some of his memories or it's having... I don't know. Weird side effects."

"I fuckin' wish," Gavin mutters, glad that the subject is now something he can easily talk about. "None of the other fuckin' androids are havin' any issues. We've been followin' them all closely afterward just to make sure they're truly fixed or whatever."

Fuck I like Nines.


"Nines wouldn't just be intentionally hurtful like that, Gavin." Tina seems calmer now, even as she still seems pissed on his behalf. "You know that. Something has to be going on."

"Yeah, well. He's a fuckin' detective now, so maybe he's done fuckin' usin' me to climb his way up there and is done with the fuckin' pretense of bein' my friend. Maybe he was havin' a particularly shitty day and just needed to lash out. I don't fuckin' know!"

"I'm going to drop you at the ER," Tina says as they approach the hospital, and Gavin wants to thank god for the opportune change in subject. "I'll park and then come find you. I'll wait in the waiting room if they've already taken you back."

"You don't have to fuckin' wait," Gavin says, even as Tina stops the car in front of the sliding doors to the emergency department and he opens the car door.

She smiles at him. "You're a fucking idiot if you think I'd leave you here by yourself. Now go so I don't get a ticket for parking in a drop-off zone."

Gavin does, climbing out of the car and watching her drive off.


The hospital visit is quick and efficient, which isn't a real surprise to Gavin given his experience when Nines had attacked him almost two months earlier. He is surprised though by the fact that he'd only minorly fractured a couple bones, but not enough to need a cast. He's simply injected with some sort of bone fixant like they had used on his neck, given some painkillers and some wound-recovery patches, and sent home with instructions to not stress his hand for a while.

The marvels of modern technology.

Tina drives him home -- thankfully obliging his request not to talk any more about Nines on the way -- and offers to pick him up the next morning for work. He insists he'll take a cab. He insists he doesn't want her going through that trouble for him. He insists she's done more than enough for him, already.

He insists because he needs all the time he can get alone, to think.

He collapses on his couch, quickly swallowing some painkillers -- despite the instructions to take them with a meal -- and slapping the patches on his fist.

Nines clearly doesn't feel the same way about me, is the first obvious thought. Nines was friendly with just about everyone at the station. Gavin was only special because they'd been working together more closely, and further bonded while Nines was in the cell and Gavin had visited him out of a combination of guilt and missing their conversations. Nines hadn't been close with Gavin because he'd had a crush on him. And Nines wouldn't have been increasingly ignoring Gavin for weeks if he'd liked Gavin like that, anyway. Unlike Gavin, Nines actually talks about his feelings, and would have shared them with Tina or Connor at least, and Tina obviously didn't know, and Connor hadn't been looking at or treating Gavin any differently recently.

No one can ever know, not even Tina, is the obvious second thought. Tina would understand at first, but then tease him endlessly about it eventually, and he didn't need to give her that kind of banter fodder if nothing was going to come of it. Others at the station wouldn't understand at all. Gavin knows that most people dislike him. He knows they'd seize on any possible factoid they could use against him -- his existing friendship with Nines and the result at the station was proof of that. He doesn't need work to be a bigger mess than it already is for him.

I'm not gay, is the third thought, and he's both surprised that it's only third and also surprised that it's so important to him. He thinks briefly over every typically-attractive man he can remember quickly. He feels absolutely nothing for any of them. He pushes aside the fact that he doesn't feel particularly anything for any typically-attractive woman he can think of, either, because dammit he has sex with women and has no problem getting and staying aroused in the moment and really enjoys it. He wonders briefly if the fact that he and Nines are good friends makes a difference. He isn't sure that matters anyway. He doesn't make friends. He'll never have a friend as close as Nines again other than Tina, and Tina was off-limits for multiple and obvious reasons. He's comfortable enough saying that Nines is an exception to his sexuality, for whatever reasons he might be, and leave it at that.

And we're not friends anymore, anyway, much less close friends, is the next thought, and he starts to dismiss it as a repeat before realizing it's actually different. Even if Nines hadn't been obvious about his disdain for Gavin now, Gavin doesn't want to forgive Nines for what he'd said. It would be easier, in many ways, for him to stay mad. He was certainly justified in doing so, and he's sure Tina would back him up on it. And it made for a good excuse anyway to avoid Nines until whatever feelings Gavin had for him faded away, or at least became manageable.

Fucking androids, is the next thought, and he smiles at it despite himself. This one is more familiar and more comfortable, at least.

He leaves his thoughts there for the moment, turning on the TV and focusing on the mindless drivel instead.

It's easier.

Replace You

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapters ten, eleven, and twelve of MITTS

As of the publish date of this chapter (11/21), this will start (minorly) spoiling MITTS, so read on at your own risk

Gavin's fist is mostly back to normal by the next day, but he wears a pair of fingerless gloves to work anyway, making an excuse to anyone who asks about them -- which ends up only being Yvonnie -- that the station is cold.

He catches sight of Nines a few times, but doesn't let himself look long enough to catch Nines' gaze or the expression on his face. He's fully embraced the anger now, and he likes the way it feels. His feelings for Nines aside, no one had ever thrown his feelings and his gestures back at him in that way before. Not even Tanya, when they'd finally had the conversation that had been long overdue by that point, had been so cruel.

Nines was an ass and fully deserved the anger Gavin was feeling for him.

"You okay?" Tina asks as she grabs him for lunch.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Gavin asks, grabbing his coat. "Doctors said it wasn't a big deal. The glove is just so nobody fuckin' asks stupid questions."

"I'm not talking about your fist," Tina says, glancing around like she's looking for Nines as they walk toward the parking lot. "He hasn't apologized or anything, has he?"

"Fuck him," Gavin says, pushing open the door with more force than necessary and enjoying the noise it makes as it crashes against the wall. "I'm fuckin' done with that piece of shit."

Tina nods. "I'll back you no matter what you want here, Gavin, but maybe you should confront him about it. I'm sure he either didn't realize how hurtful he was being, or there was something wrong with him."

"What, so he can throw somethin' else in my face? Like 'hey I got fuckin' shot for you fuckhead and I wish I'd died so I didn't hafta deal with you anymore'? No fuckin' thanks."

Tina stops walking. "Nines would not say something like that, Gavin."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "You'd've said the same thing about calling himself my fuckin' pet, yet here we fuckin' are."

Tina looks upset on his behalf, but starts walking again. "I still can't believe he said that."

"Are gonna fuckin' talk about this all day? 'Cause I could also be doin' work instead of gettin' lunch with you."

Tina shakes her head. "You're right. I'm sorry. Want to know what Andrew taught me yesterday?"

"How to count to ten?" Gavin asks with a smirk, and the two of them are immediately back on more comfortable topics.

He really doesn't want to think about Nines anymore.

Gavin is surprised, that afternoon, when Nines shows up with coffee, and outright pissed when it's in the usual mug, as if nothing had happened. As if Nines expected Gavin to just ignore everything Nines had said yesterday.

He knocks the mug to the floor with as much force as he can, hoping he'd broken it so Nines couldn't keep throwing the gift (figuratively) in his face, before storming off and regretting that Tina was on afternoon patrols now so he couldn't complain to her about the sheer gall.

The fact that Tina had made the shift specifically for Nines just makes it worse.

He makes his way to the kitchen anyway, because coffee in general doesn't seem like such a bad idea at the moment. Yvonnie is standing at a table, thankfully by herself, with a cup of coffee, and she smiles at Gavin as he enters.

"Gavin! How've you been?"

"Fuckin' great," he grumbles, grabbing a cup for himself, not really sure how much he feels like talking to anyone at the moment. But Yvonnie at least had always been nice to him, and he supposes there's no reason to be rude to her now. "You just bein' alone?"

She holds her hand out in invitation, understanding the question. "You are welcome to join me."

He leans against the table on one arm and sips from his cup. "How's fuckin' evidence duty?"

Yvonnie laughs. "You know? I actually really enjoy it. It's a nice change of pace anyway, although if Bob wasn't coming back after his break, I might be tempted to ask for a permanent reassignment."

"It's just fuckin' glorified desk duty," Gavin says, scoffing. "It's fuckin' punishment. What'd you to piss off Connor?"

"Mmm," Yvonnie says, shaking her head at him. "Not all of us like to piss off Connor, Gavin. And no, evidence is nothing like desk duty. You get to catalog and manage all of the specimens. It's like getting a bit of insight into every case the station is seeing. It's fascinating."

"Well, glad some people enjoy that kinda shit," Gavin says. "I hate when I'm dealin' with too much stuff at once. Just gimme one really good case and let me bash my head against it, y'know?"

Yvonnie laughs again. "Well, I'm glad you've found something that works for you, honey." She nods toward his hand. "Hand still cold?"

"It's... fine," he says, cupping his hands around his coffee to really sell the lie, but liking the warmth of it anyway.

"You want to talk about it?"

"About the fact that my hands are fuckin' cold?"

Yvonnie gives him a knowing look. "You don't bullshit very well, Gavin. You're bothered by something, and I'm guessing it has to do with the reason you're wearing gloves today."

"Everyone's a fuckin' detective now," Gavin mutters. "I don't wanna talk about it."

She nods. "Nines busy this afternoon?"

"I said I don't fuckin' wanna talk about it," Gavin says, realizing too late the intent of her question, and that he'd answered her original question after all.

"Ah," she says. "Then I'm happy to talk about my grandchildren instead, if you prefer. But you should talk to him, Gavin. Whatever happened."

"Tell me about your fuckin' grandchildren," Gavin says, even though he really doesn't want to hear it, but it's at least something to distract him.

Gavin's anger turns pretty quickly into hurt, and then a strange longing that makes him angry again, but at himself instead of at Nines.

"You're really not going to talk to him?" Tina asks a few days later as they're walking to lunch.

"No." Gavin really doesn't want to deal with his feelings, and it's easier this way. "You gonna give me shit for it?"

Tina looks almost hurt at the implication. "Gavin. I told you I'd back you no matter what you wanted to do. He was completely out of line. If you don't want to talk to him, then you don't have to talk to him."

"I don't wanna fuckin' talk to him," he says, because he really doesn't, but not for the reason that Tina thinks. If he talks to Nines, he's going to go down a road he can't go down. "And you're not gonna talk to him either."

"I won't," Tina promises. "And I won't bring this up again. Just... do me a favor, Gavin? Don't make this indefinite. I know you're pissed right now, and you have every right to be, but you two were friends. You don't have to forgive him, but when you're feeling a little less upset, you should reconsider giving him the silent treatment, at least."


True to her word, Tina doesn't bring Nines up again the rest of the week, or into the following week.

"You and Nines still fighting?" Chase asks on Thursday as Gavin slides into his side of the booth, and Gavin glares at Tina.

"Don't look at me!" she objects. "I didn't tell him to ask you anything."

"She didn't," Chase confirms. "But Tina mentioned last week you two had a falling out, and it's been over a week now, so I thought I'd ask."

"I don't want to talk about it," Gavin says, grabbing his water and taking a large gulp.

"You know, I just want to point out that you've been upset and unfairly lashed out before, Gavin," Tina says. "Before. At Nines, even."

"When'd I fuckin' do that?" Gavin asks, even though he still really doesn't like the topic.

"How about when you told him to get you a coffee and threw it at the wall?"

Gavin doesn't like the reminder. He thinks he feels ashamed now at his actions back then, although he'll never admit it. "He was fuckin' buggin' me. Buggin' both of us."

"You were upset because of the robbery case, and Nines was a convenient target," Tina points out. "I'm not saying you owe him anything, Gavin. Just maybe consider that he was having a tough time about something and was unfair to you. And you'll never admit it, but I know you miss him. That's all."

"Fuckin' change the subject or I'm fuckin' leavin'," Gavin says, ready to ditch the two of them. He really doesn't need to be thinking about Nines, because every time he thinks about Nines, he's reminded about his feelings aren't going away or getting any easier to deal with.

"Andrew got a 100% on his addition test," Chase offers, and even though Gavin doesn't particularly want to hear about Andrew or a fucking math test, it's a significantly better subject than Nines.

Gavin grabs his usual coffee the following afternoon and stands at a table in the break room. The room's thankfully empty today, but he can't help thinking that Nines should be here with him. That he really misses Nines, even just as a friend. That maybe Tina was right, and it was unfair to punish Nines so harshly for a single incident. That this had nothing to do anymore with how Nines had acted and instead had everything to do with how he felt about Nines, and how it was unfair to Nines for him to throw away their friendship because of his feelings.

He's honestly really upset by the thought of losing Nines' friendship.

He carries his coffee over to Nines' desk. Nines is working on his computer, and Gavin recognizes the case -- a kidnapping -- that he'd briefly looked over when he'd looked up Nines' work in a moment of weakness, just wanting to have that closeness, even if they weren't talking.

He slams the coffee cup down on Nines' desk, startling Nines -- whose LED briefly flashes red before settling on yellow -- and sloshing coffee over his hand. He ignores the slight burning, trying to work up the courage to say something.

Nines speaks before Gavin can say anything. "Can I help you, Detective?" he asks, cautiously, before looking guilty about the question. "I mean.... it is good to see you again, Gavin."

Gavin's pretty sure his courage for whatever he'd wanted to say is gone now, and he allows himself to embrace the anger, instead. It's easier. He makes some excuse about Tina -- as much for his sake as Nines' -- and how he's only here because she said he should talk to Nines. He almost believes the words, himself.

Nines asks him if he wants to sit with his coffee.

Gavin really wants to sit with his coffee. He really wants to just spill everything and ask for Nines' forgiveness, and tell him how he feels. He's terrified that Nines has this power over him now, even though Nines doesn't know it.

He declines, ready to storm off, but the hopeful look on Nines' face almost breaks him, and he can't just say no.

He hedges, saying something about next week instead, and telling himself that it gives him the weekend to figure out what he was going to say.

Then he leaves, and doesn't look back.

He doesn't figure out the right words that weekend, and his courage fails him the entire next week. Tina, for her part, doesn't push, and seems to have told Chase not to push either, because Chase doesn't bring Nines up either.

Gavin had hoped that the brief conversation with Nines -- and generally allowing himself to interact with Nines again as they passed each other around the station or saw each other in the mornings -- would have helped him settle back into their friendship. Instead, every word exchanged fills him with longing that just leaves him even more frustrated afterward.

He tells himself he needs to hit up the bar again, and pick up a one-night stand, and use her to forget all about Nines.

He isn't sure why the thought feels sleazy, now. Like it would be a betrayal of his feelings for Nines, even though he and Nines obviously weren't anything, and it was still obvious that Nines didn't share his feelings, and finding a random chick wasn't any different than anything he'd done for the past decade or more.

"I'm going to get in late on Monday," Tina says on her way out the door Friday after lunch. "I got moved to the evening patrol just for the day, so we can get coffee if you want. Or just lunch, like usual. Whatever you want."

It's an opportunity.

It's an opportunity, and Gavin's going to take it.

Gavin lies awake in bed Monday night, trying to process his feelings from the day.

He'd had coffee with Nines and Tina that afternoon, seizing on the excuse because he knew Tina would be able to help smooth over any awkwardness, and would keep Gavin from having to do all the talking himself. He hadn't trusted himself to do all of the talking.

Nines had seemed extremely guilty, like he blamed himself for everything that had happened. Gavin had wanted to correct him, but correcting him would have involved telling him, and there was no way in hell he was telling Nines everything, much less with Tina in attendance.

But Nines had said he'd acted cruelly because of "his emotions", and he'd looked at Gavin in a way that Gavin had suddenly thought was familiar, and that had terrified him all over again because it was a reminder of how he'd caught himself looking at Nines, before, even if he hadn't necessarily understood it then.

He'd wondered, for the first time, if maybe Nines felt the same way about him. He'd wondered if Nines had pushed him away in the same way that he'd had been pushing Nines away, because neither of them knew how to deal with their feelings for each other.

He wonders if it's all just wishful thinking.

He resolves to try and find out.

"Y'know, I've only dated a chick once," Gavin says the next day, grabbing the mug of coffee that Nines had brought as Nines pulls a chair up to his desk.

Nines stops, and his LED flashes red before settling on yellow, and he looks almost panicked, and Gavin's suddenly sure that isn't imagining things.

Mostly sure.

Possibly sure.

'Needs more evidence' sure.

He tries to dig, steering the conversation toward feelings, but it all backfires when Nines wonders out loud if Gavin had ever dated Tina, and Gavin's so put off by the idea of it that he loses control of the discussion. It's a brief lapse, but it's enough.

"Like you and me," Nines says, when Gavin says that he and Tina were just friends.

Gavin had gotten his hopes up for nothing.


But Nines looks hurt when Gavin confirms the statement, and Gavin changes the subject so he doesn't have to play this stupid fucking game anymore. Because he wants Nines' LED to stop flashing between yellow and red. Because he thinks he has enough evidence now from Nines' reactions. Because he's sure now that he isn't imagining things. Because it feels like an interrogation now and he wants to stop interrogating his friend.

Gavin's done talking. He's done worrying this around inside his own head. He's going to do something about it, instead.

"What did you want to talk about, Detective?" Connor asks, sitting in his chair the following morning, and staring at Gavin expectantly.

Gavin suddenly isn't sure what to say.

"I wanna talk 'bout Nines," he says, figuring it's a place to start at least.

Connor just nods, looking like he's expecting the conversation, even though his expression doesn't change. "You two have been growing close, lately."

How close?, Gavin hears in the statement, and he suddenly realizes that Connor knows, already, what he wants to say.

Connor probably intentionally switched Tina's shift on Monday. Connor's been interfering for months to help Nines and Gavin get time together. He'd intentionally assigned them separate cases while they were fighting. He at least approves of their friendship, but dating Nines was another matter entirely.

Connor probably knew how Gavin felt before he even knew, himself.

Fucking androids.

"Let's just fuckin' cut to the chase. You think I'm not good enough for him."

Connor regards him coolly, his face not giving any hint of what he's thinking, even as his LED flickers but remains blue. "I have never said such a thing, Detective."

"I just... I fuckin' care 'bout him, okay? And you... I just wanna know that you're not gonna give me shit over it." Even though Gavin had originally come to Connor for advice, thinking he'd be a more objective -- and less close -- confidant, he realizes now he'd also wanted Connor's approval for whatever he was going to try and do. Even if he wasn't sure what that would be, yet.

Connor continues staring at him for a bit before he speaks again. "It is obvious to me that you care about him, Detective. Your actions over the past few weeks, and even months, have made that abundantly clear."

"I don't know what he's thinkin' though." Even though Connor's response had eased some of his worries, this was the other reason he'd wanted to talk to Connor rather than bothering Tina. "He's fuckin' great, and I don't wanna ruin that."

"You desire more than your current professional relationship with him," Connor says, and Gavin kind of hates that Connor's making him say it out loud.

"So what if I do?" He refuses to say it.

Connor nods. "If you are looking for my blessing, Detective, you have it," he says, and Gavin feels a rush of relief at that. "If you are looking for an answer as to whether Nines feels the same way about you, that is not something I can provide. If you are looking for advice, it is that you should tell him."

That helps, at least, even if it doesn't make his path forward any clearer. "Right."

"Is there anything else?" Connor asks, turning away from him and starting to shuffle folders around his desk, dismissively.

Gavin doesn't bother saying anything, instead turning to the door and pushing it open.

Now all he has to do is figure out how to tell Nines.

Gavin almost spills the beans that afternoon, when Nines stops by his desk for their usual afternoon coffee.

Instead, he chickens out, and they discuss their cases instead, and after he watches Nines walk off, he finds Tina, grabs her, and pulls her into a secluded corner of the station.

It barely occurs to him that Tina isn't on a patrol at the moment, and that is probably Connor's doing, too.

"I'm fuckin' fucked," he says, pacing as Tina watches him. "Fuck!"

Tina frowns. "What'd you do this time?"

Gavin struggles for a moment before deciding to just get it over with. "I have a fuckin' crush on fuckin' Nines and don't know what to fuckin' do about it."

Tina's face seems to go through a series of emotions before finally settling on surprise. "You like him?!"

Gavin throws up his hands. "Isn't that what I fuckin' said? Fuck! Why are you so fuckin' surprised by this?"

"I'm not!" Tina says, even though she clearly is. "I just... never realized you were into guys."

"I'm fuckin' not," he says, leaning heavily against a wall. "But androids are fuckin' genderless or whatever anyway, right? Maybe that's part of what made me fuckin' start feelin' this way. Also this is all your fuckin' fault."

"My fault?!" Tina clearly isn't expecting the accusation.

"Yeah. You fuckin' said I saw him as human and that got me fuckin' thinking about what it meant and I started processing my fuckin' feelings for him and now here we fuckin' are."

Tina's grinning now. "You like him!"

"Fuck this. You're clearly not gonna be any fuckin' help." He moves to leave, but Tina grabs his arm, looking serious now.

"I'm sorry! I just... wasn't expecting this conversation."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "No fuckin' duh. So what do I do about it?"

"Why don't you tell him?"

"That's what Connor fuckin' said."

"You talked to Connor?!"

Gavin pulls his arm free from her grip. "Okay, we're fuckin' done here. Fuckin' thanks for nothing."

"Wait!" Tina follows as he walks away. "Let's go for a walk? I'm sorry. I'm listening now. I'll stop being shocked by all of this, I promise."

"Whatever," Gavin says, nevertheless heading through the nearest doorway and outside the building. "I don't wanna talk about what the fuck this means for myself and my sexuality and what fuckin' ever. I just wanna know what to fuckin' do about it."

"At the risk of repeating myself..."

"...yeah, yeah. Fuckin' tell him," Gavin finishes for her. "You say that like it's easy."

"Right. Because Gavin Reed doesn't talk about his feelings and emotions."

"Fuck you," Gavin says, but the teasing is making him more comfortable now anyway. "What... just like, 'Hey fucker I have feelings for you'?"

"Maybe not quite like that," Tina says with a smirk. "But yeah. Basically."

"Just like walk up to him and tell him that?"

Tina shrugs. "How'd you ask Tanya out?"

"It's been like 12 years. I don't fuckin' remember. But she and I had clearly been flirting before that. Nines is fuckin' Nines. Do androids even like humans like that?"

"There are plenty of android-human couples, so clearly some of them do," Tina says, and from the tone of her voice, Gavin realizes she knows something.

"Okay, fuckin' spill."

Tina stares at him blankly. "Spill what?"

"Nines has talked to you, hasn't he? Does he fuckin' like me back?"

"Gavin," Tina says, clearly trying not to betray any emotion. "The only person who can tell you that is Nines."

"So he fuckin' does."

"I didn't say that."

"Then he fuckin' doesn't."

"I didn't say that either."

"Tina!" Gavin's growing upset now. "The fuck am I supposed to do then?"

"You fucking tell him, Gavin!" Tina seems to be growing frustrated, herself. "You apparently already talked to Connor about all of this, so telling Nines can't be nearly as difficult. Which by the way, I should be pissed at you about."

"What?!" Gavin isn't expecting that one.

"You talked to your boss about your crush on his brother rather than to your best friend?!"

"I... wanted to know Connor wasn't gonna give me fuckin' shit for it!"

Tina nods. "That's fair. But still. You talked to Connor before talking to me about it?"

"'Cause I knew you were going to fuckin' be like this."

Tina bites her lip. "Look. Gavin. You want advice, right? That advice is to tell Nines that you like him, and see what he says, and go from there. I know it's scary. It was scary for me to ask Chase out, too. It's always scary to put yourself out there and put your emotions on the line and everything. But isn't the end result worth it?"

"So he does fuckin' like me."

Tina smiles and pats his arm. "I still didn't say that. But you're never going to know unless you tell him."

She disappears back into the building before Gavin can say anything else.

"You didn't tell him?!" Tina hisses at him over the breakroom table the next morning, once Nines is safely out of earshot. "You didn't tell him and you were fucking rude to him when he was just checking on you?!"

"Fuck off," Gavin mutters, grabbing the cup of coffee Nines had gotten him with more force than necessary, and sloshing coffee all over the table and his fingers. "Fuck!"

Tina shakes her head. "You're cleaning that up yourself. Unbelievable."

She storms off, and Gavin grabs some paper towels, sopping up the liquid before slamming them into the trash.

He never chickens out, or backs down from a challenge, so he isn't sure why he'd been unable to follow through this morning when Nines had walked in. All he had to do was ask to speak to Nines, alone. Tell him how he felt. See how Nines reacted.

Nines seems to do this to him, a lot.

Instead, he had made some clumsy excuse and run to Tina in the breakroom instead. Nines had followed, and potentially overheard him telling Tina how he didn't know what to do about the problem of telling Nines how he felt, and Gavin hadn't known how to handle that situation, so he'd exploded at Nines instead.

He hopes he hasn't ruined whatever shot he had with Nines. He still doesn't know if Nines feels the same way.

He's pretty sure that Tina's reaction just now, together with her reactions during their conversation yesterday, means that Nines does, and that she knows.

He tosses the rest of the cup into the trash, not feeling like coffee anymore, and heads to the restroom to wash his hands.

He tells himself that he'll tell Nines this afternoon, over coffee.

Nines doesn't show for coffee that afternoon, and Gavin doesn't dare interrupt whatever Nines is doing, which a look over tells him is paperwork. It's not too unusual that one of them has to cancel due to a case or some other business -- although it is unusual that they don't tell the other -- and Gavin doesn't want to do anything to annoy or frustrate Nines until he's said what he wants to say.

As the end of the day draws near, he finds himself glancing up from his computer almost constantly, and over at Connor's office, to see if Connor was packing up yet. It felt less awkward than constantly looking over at Nines, anyway. Connor catches his glance a couple times, and nods, and strangely that helps more than anything Tina had said.

Maybe because Gavin knew that Tina would approve, and would always approve, of Nines for him. But Gavin really needed to know that Connor approved of him, and every nod feels like another affirmation, even if he was probably actually annoying Connor more and more with each glance.

It feels like forever until he looks up to see Connor packing up and walking toward the office door. He scrambles himself, closing out his open documents, putting away his files, and grabbing his coat. He thinks he really should have just done this hours ago instead of leaving it all for the end. Connor catches his gaze and seems to simply stand by the office door, waiting until Gavin appears ready to leave before finally exiting his office.

Fucking Connor.

Although, at the moment, Gavin thinks he really appreciates Connor.

Gavin waits until Connor's collected up Nines and Hank, and swallows the lump in his throat, before making his move. He intends to ask Nines to speak with him. He intends to at least make some polite excuse -- what's gotten into him? -- so that Hank isn't pissed at him. Instead, his words fail, and he follows them outside before simply grabbing Nines' arm and dragging him toward his car.

Nines comes willingly, at least, and doesn't seem too surprised by whatever's going on, although Gavin doesn't dare look at his face. He pushes Nines into the seat of his car, circles around, takes a deep breath, and climbs into the driver's seat.

"I have something I would like to tell you," Nines says, almost immediately, and Gavin doesn't want to let him. He's pretty sure that, if he doesn't say what he wants to say now, he'll never be able to.

"Me, first," Gavin says, expecting Nines to object, but he just nods as Gavin looks over at him, and meets his gaze, and Gavin swallows, his throat suddenly dry.

Don't fucking back out now like you did this morning.

Nines' LED is yellow, and Gavin doesn't like that. His eyes are both curious and nervous, and Gavin doesn't like that either. He hopes the nervousness was because Nines shared Gavin's feelings.

"I like you," Gavin manages, finally, not letting himself look away, and searching Nines' eyes for any sign of hope, or desire, or a hint that he feels the same way.

Gavin thinks he sees only anxiety and concern, and when Nines finally speaks, his words feel like a punch to the gut. 'Colleague' and 'friend', Nines says, and it's exactly the kind of reaction that Gavin had been dreading.

"Fuck!" Gavin slams his head against the steering wheel. This had been a mistake. Fucking Tina had gotten his hopes up for nothing. He had gotten his hopes up for nothing. "That's not what I meant," he starts to say, because maybe he can still save this thing and play it off the same way. Nines was his friend -- is his friend -- and he likes Nines as his friend, and maybe that would be enough.

Nines interrupts, and asks whether Gavin means it in a more personal context, and Gavin can't bring himself to follow through on the lie. He owed Nines the truth, at least.

He fumbles his way through an explanation, and he thinks he gets the point across, even as he refuses to look over at Nines. He shouldn't have done this in his car. He should've talked to Nines somewhere where he could easily storm off or leave or not be fucking trapped with his feelings and a fucking android who doesn't like him back.

He's such a fucking idiot.

Nines doesn't say anything for a while, and when he finally does, it's not what Gavin expects.

"I like you too, Gavin," Nines says, and Gavin has to go over the words a few times in his head to make sure he hadn't heard improperly. Nines says some other things too, but all Gavin can hear is his own heartbeat, and the blood rushing in his ears, and the feeling of hope in his chest that's sharing space with the tightness of fear.

He stills for a moment, processing what he can of the words, but pretty sure he couldn't say anything in return, at the moment. Instead, he lifts his hand, gently setting it on Nines', trying to convey with the contact what he can't with his words. The touch shouldn't be anything, but it somehow feels more intimate than anything he'd done with anyone in a very long time.

Nines' hand is warmer than he expects. Softer than he expects. More human than he expects. He's hugged Nines before, once, but this is wholly different, maybe because of what it means.

Nines doesn't react to the touch, and Gavin stares out the side window before squeezing his eyes shut. "I haven't done this before," he says, wanting to provide a bit more of an explanation. "Never been with a guy. Never an android."

"I haven't been with anyone," Nines says, and the statement is both so obvious and absurd that Gavin almost laughs at it. He knows androids can download memories, and thoughts. Nines had told him how Connor had shared memories with him in the past.

It almost makes him upset that Nines is trying to relate to him at the moment. "Don't give me that bullshit," he says, even as he can feel himself start to shake, but out of fear rather than anger. He isn't even really saying anything, but somehow this is the most vulnerable he's been with anyone in a very long time.

Nines doesn't say anything to that, but instead sets his other hand on Gavin's. Gavin allows himself to look over at their hands, his own feeling so warm now between Nines'.

"I'm fuckin' scared," Gavin whispers, unsure of what he should be doing. He doesn't know what else to say. He wants to do more than just hold Nines' fucking hand. But he's afraid that, somehow, this is all still a dream. That, if he does anything other than sit there in the moment, it'll be gone, and he'll wake up, and Nines won't actually be here.

He focuses on his breathing instead, and the feeling of Nines' hands, reassuring himself that this really is happening. That he'd just admitted his feelings to Nines, and Nines had reciprocated them. That Nines wants this as much as he does.

He waits until he doesn't think he can wait anymore, because Nines seems to be waiting for him to react first. Because Nines isn't sure what to do in the moment.

Gavin knows what to do. He pulls his hand away, grabs Nines by the shoulders, pulls him toward him, and kisses him as forcefully as he can.

And Nines kisses him back.

Chapter End Notes

Now starts the "epilogue", which in this case, is a lot more meaty than MITTS' will be

The epilogue chapters of MITTS will primarily be fluff (because the entire reason I started this series in the first place was to write Nines/Gavin fluff), and IMO it kind of fits Nines' personality anyway, since he's more generally positive than Gavin, and focuses on the good parts of things

Gavin... doesn't, so we're going to have some chapters of angst and drama now, and working through Gavin's insecurities and problems and the fights that the two of them inevitably have

Tangled Up Somehow

Chapter Notes

Takes place during chapters twelve and thirteen of MITTS

Also we'll start earning our "Mature" rating as of this chapter, so discussions of sex and sexuality follows

There were many little facts about androids that Gavin learns very rapidly over the first few weeks of dating. He thinks he probably should have known, or at least inferred, many of them already, but he still feels a bit of joy with each one, as if he's discovering something about Nines even though none of them are necessarily unique to him.

Androids are fully waterproof. He should have known this one because Connor didn't immediately go running for cover every time it rained, but Connor also always carried an umbrella when it rained, and unfailingly deployed it. In contrast, Nines seems to love the rain, immediately running out into it and staring up at the sky as the droplets pelt his face. But Gavin first finds this fact out when Nines asks to join him in the shower one day after sex, and Gavin is more than happy to oblige.

Oh yeah, and that was another one. Androids also showered, sometimes. They didn't get dirty in the same way that humans did of course, and could just replace their skin fluid or whatever when truly necessary, but soap and running water are apparently universal cleaning agents. Nines doesn't really like to shower -- but he tells Gavin that Connor showers every two or three days, and that doesn't surprise Gavin one bit -- but he likes to join Gavin in the shower. And Gavin finds that he really enjoys soaping Nines up and washing him off in what's apparently a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Speaking of skin, android skin doesn't really taste like anything, but has the texture of styrofoam in the mouth, which would definitely not have been Gavin's guess. It's also significantly easier to pierce than human skin. Gavin finds this one out accidentally one day when he bites a little too hard in the passion of the moment and is rewarded with a small piece of... flesh. He's horrified by the thought and immediately spits it out, but Nines seems almost amused by his reaction, and quickly fills the gap with new skin. Gavin's a lot more careful with his teeth after that incident because, even if Nines doesn't mind, he doesn't feel a need to experience that texture ever again.

Androids give off body heat. Gavin thinks he really should have known this one because every computer he's ever had has been warm while in operation, but it still surprises him the first time they snuggle after sex and Nines doesn't feel like a cold lump of plastic that maybe just happens to reflect back the warmth from Gavin's own overheated skin. Nines tells Gavin that he runs a little warmer than many other models because of his additional functionality and processing capabilities, but Gavin thinks Nines' temperature is just right next to him in bed.

He also swears that Nines feels cooler than usual in the mornings where they wake up together. He asks Nines about it one morning, and Nines tells Gavin that he's been slowing most of his systems at night as an approximation of sleep, accounting for the cooler body temperature. Gavin isn't sure how to express how much he appreciates the gesture, and kisses Nines aggressively, also idly realizing that Nines doesn't have morning breath and doesn't have a sense of taste and therefore doesn't care that he does.

Speaking of mouths, he discovers that androids don't actually swallow any materials placed into their mouths -- other than Thirium 310 of course, which enters circulation when consumed -- instead simply spitting them out or washing them out later. Nines tells him that early YK series androids experimented with a removable storage container in the chest so they could join their families at the dinner table and participate in meals, but the resulting mess of rotting food inside android body cavities -- not helped by the relative internal heat of an android nor the 'no fuss' promises made to parents of the model -- had quickly put an end to that particular feature.

Gavin finds this out after the first time Nines blows him and he jokingly asks whether his spunk is going to be circulating around Nines' body now. He starts making Nines wash his mouth out after oral sex, particularly before kissing him, after finding out this fact. He even gets Nines a toothbrush, despite Nines' insistence that no material in his mouth could degrade as a result of leaving foreign materials unattended for too long, and they start brushing their teeth together on evenings that Nines stays the night in a way that feels remarkably couple-like to Gavin. He likes the knowledge anyway that Nines' mouth is truly clean and doesn't contain dried remnants of crime scene samples while he's kissing him.

Androids don't breathe, and their voices are not tied to the movement of air through or over any part of their anatomy. Gavin finds this one extremely disconcerting the first few times he kisses Nines, or has his face in close proximity to Nines' face, particularly while Nines is speaking. He hadn't really realized how much he had been used to feeling his partner's breath on his face or his chest, or hearing the rumbling of their voice in their chest. Then again, he also has never been involved with anyone taller than him before, and that takes even more getting used to, and introduces enough newness to their physical interactions that it largely overshadows the entire breathing thing until it stops being an issue.

But the biggest little fact is probably also the most obvious, in retrospect, and Gavin learns it -- or, really, is reminded of it, because he's been introduced to the fact before from reading through autopsy reports -- the very first night after they confess their feelings to each other and Gavin drives them back to his apartment and more or less drags Nines through the door and into the bedroom.

"You, uh... don't have a dick."

Nines just nods as he sheds the rest of his clothing and climbs onto the bed next to Gavin, kissing him more gently than any of the previous kisses they'd shared. "Other than models that were designed for sex work, such as the HR400 series, androids would not have had any use for genitalia. In my case, it would have also posed a wholly unnecessary liability in the field and occupied internal space that was instead available for additional processing and storage capacity." He pauses. "Does this fact bother you?"

To be honest, Gavin had been more than a little anxious at the thought of having to deal with a penis -- other than his own, of course -- for the first time, and it's almost a relief that Nines doesn't have one. "Naw. But uh... what kinds of things can we do?"

Nines kisses him again and works on removing Gavin's underwear. His dick springs free, and it's a reminder that, despite everything and the newness and strangeness of the entire situation, he's still very much turned on by Nines and the prospect of whatever they were about to do.

Although that particular reminder had already been bothering him the entire way home, and he idly thinks about how the last time he'd been anywhere near this aroused was with Tanya, and fuck Tanya. But not in the good way.

"All android models have a redundant access port in the rear," Nines says, seemingly studying Gavin's cock, and Gavin feels himself blush under Nines' scrutinizing gaze. "It is officially intended as a backup charging port if the one in the neck is damaged or inaccessible, and can also be used as a less-invasive means of accessing componentry held in the abdominal area. However, its relative impracticality for those purposes, combined with the fact that it is approximately the size and length of an average erect human penis, has led to speculation that..."

"Fuckin' Kamski," Gavin mutters, understanding what Nines is saying now. He grabs Nines, maneuvering him back up his body and kissing him roughly. "So what, you want me to fuck your ass?"

Nines looks like he wants to blush, and Gavin notes that as another fact -- androids couldn't change their skin pigmentation, at least not locally. "If that is what you prefer. I am also capable of servicing you orally, or I could..."

Gavin stops kissing down Nines' neck and stares up at him. "Fuckin' hell. Stop giving me a fuckin' menu of choices. This isn't a fuckin' business transaction. It's sex. What do you want, J? What's gonna feel good for you?" Nines seems to hesitate, and Gavin immediately feels guilty. "We also don't have to fuck. If I'm pushin' you too fast, we..."

"No!" Nines seems surprised by his concern. "That isn't it. Androids don't feel physical pain or pleasure, so there is not a particular sexual activity that would be more or less enjoyable for me. My research indicates that androids derive sexual pleasure from the intimacy of sex and the joy of their human partners, rather than any physical aspect of the act itself. Androids of course would simply interface with each other, but..."

"So you're sayin' that androids are all about fuckin' emotions and gettin' me off would make you happy?"

Nines would definitely be blushing now if he could. "Yes. I would like to service you in whatever manner you find most pleasurable and desirable."

Gavin thinks for a moment before pushing Nines onto his back and sliding on top of him, kissing him roughly again. "Then give me your fuckin' ass, J," he growls when they break, his lips trailing down Nines' neck again because, even if Nines couldn't physically appreciate the kisses, he was sure as fuck going to give Nines the intimacy he wants.

"Please..." Nines says, his voice full of desire now. "I need you."

A short time later -- that Gavin thinks he would be embarrassed about if it hadn't been so good and Nines hadn't clearly enjoyed the experience as much if not more than Gavin himself -- Gavin finds himself collapsed up against Nines' side, physically spent but satisfied in a way he hasn't been for a long time, from sex.

"Kamski knew what the fuck he was doin' with that fuckin' port," Gavin mutters as Nines wraps his arms around him and kisses his head. "It's fuckin' textured. He's not fuckin' fooling anyone." Even so, he's pretty sure it hadn't just been the physical pleasure, but that the intimacy had made a difference for him too.

Sex hadn't been like this for him in a long, long time.

Nines chuckles and Gavin finds the lack of a corresponding rumbling in Nines' chest slightly disconcerting. "As I said, it is rather impractical for its officially-stated purposes."

"This was... nice," Gavin says instead of continuing to discuss android anatomy, moving closer and feeling himself starting to drift off to sleep.

"Yes," Nines says.

"Stay with me?"

"Yes," Nines says again, more quietly this time, as if he's also falling into slumber himself.

Gavin falls asleep with a smile on his face.

"Welcome to our weekly gathering, Nines!" Chase says, standing and holding out his hand as Gavin and Nines walk up to their usual booth. "It's nice to finally meet you."

"This was supposed to be my thing with Tina," Gavin grumbles as Nines shakes Chase's hand. "You fuckin' inserted yourself into it."

"I bet you fucking inserted yourself into Nines yesterday," Tina says from her seat, giggling, and Gavin wants to hit her.

"It is... nice to meet you, Chase," Nines says, looking like he wants to blush. "I would say that I have heard a lot about you, but the first mention of your name was this morning when I was invited to this event, so I am looking forward to learning more about you."

Chase slides back into the booth next to Tina as Gavin takes his own seat next to Nines. He isn't used to having to share his side of the table with anyone, but it already somehow feels comfortable.

"Well, there's not much to tell," Chase says, smiling. "I'm a realtor. I like baseball. I'm originally from Wisconsin. I'm the youngest of four kids. I have a boy that I co-parent with my ex-wife. Tina and I have been dating for a little over 9 months. We met when Tina was finding a new place after her divorce." He shrugs. "That's pretty much it. I'm not that interesting."

"I was not aware Tina was divorced," Nines says, and Tina pats his arm, even as she glares at Gavin.

"Yeah, well, your boyfriend apparently doesn't tell you anything."

"He's not my boyfriend," Gavin growls, hating the word immediately. "And I'm not his." He doesn't dare look over at Nines to see his reaction.

"Uh huh," Tina says, smiling at Nines again. "What other things has Gavin not been telling you? He's been complaining about you to us for months, so we already know just about everything about you."

"Oh." Nines looks like he wants to blush again, and Gavin doesn't like how much he's seeing that expression, these days. "I... cannot answer that query, as it would require me to enumerate precisely the information that I am lacking. But I have been told very little personal information about either of you, so all I know is what you have told me yourself, Tina."

"I could complain to you about my ex," Tina says, grinning.

"Please don't," Gavin and Chase say at the same time, and Chase's expression changes to a grin as he looks over at Gavin. "Jinx."

"Fuck off," Gavin mutters, turning his attention back to Nines. "What do androids do at meals, anyway?"

"I am very happy to engage in conversation and simply be present with all of you," Nines says. "I am told that fancier restaurants typically have things they give to androids in lieu of food, and some even have data that can attempt to recreate some semblance of food consumption even though the accuracy is of course questionable, but I expect that this isn't that kind of place."

"Wouldn't be comin' here if it was," Gavin says, grabbing Nines' hand under the table and squeezing it. I'm glad you're here, Gavin wants to say. "You sure it's okay to be draggin' you along, J?" he asks, instead.

Nines smiles at him, gently, understanding the unspoken message, and squeezing Gavin's hand back. "I will make do, somehow," Nines says. I appreciate you bringing me, Gavin hears. He wonders if this is why Tina had started bringing Chase.

Gavin's almost glad that Nines is here, now.

Sex with Nines is good. More than good, really. But even as they both seem to enjoy it and throw themselves almost too enthusiastically into the experience, it still bothers Gavin sometimes how one-sided it seems.

They're snuggling again after sex -- this time after cooking dinner together, even though Nines obviously doesn't eat -- and the sheer domesticity of it scares Gavin. But more than that, it brings his concerns rushing back again, and he feels like he has to address that, at least.

"Am I doing enough for you, especially with regard to sex, J?"

He looks up at Nines, and Nines is frowning now, his LED yellow instead of its usual afterglowy blue. "Of course you are. Why do you ask?"

Gavin shifts so his head is next to Nines'. It feels more equitable this way. "I just... we get into bed and then I fuck your ass or your mouth and then that's it. I'm never like... gettin' you off or anything. And yeah yeah, I know. You said that androids don't do physical pleasure like that or whatever. But it still feels unfair that I'm not doin' anything specific for you, 'cause it feels like you're doin' so much for me."

"Ah." Nines smiles and his light flickers back to blue. "You make it sound like you are forcing me here, using me as a hole, and then throwing me aside. You have neglected to mention the way you kiss me beforehand. The way you undress me. The way you nibble my neck as you are moving into position. The way you run your hands through my hair. The way you smash your mouth against mine as you reach orgasm. The way you collapse against me afterward but still manage to lovingly hold me. The way..."

"I get the fuckin' point," Gavin says, blushing even as he really doesn't like the last example. He really likes those things, too. "Fine. So you're gettin' that emotional pleasure or what the fuck ever you wanted. Do I need to do more for you? You don't have an obvious signal of pleasure, like a fuckin' orgasm or anything."

Nines doesn't look concerned about this question. "I... feel like our relationship is progressing comfortably, and do not have anything specific to ask of you. Do you feel otherwise?"

Gavin thinks he's scared of what's happening with the two of them. He wants to say he agrees with Nines. He knows that Nines has been nothing but understanding, and supportive, and been moving at a speed that should be perfectly acceptable to him. But he still doesn't think he can agree. "No," he says anyway, because it's easier than the alternative.

Nines frowns again, his LED clicking back to yellow. "Something is bothering you, Gavin," he says, and Gavin hates how well it feels like Nines knows him already.

"Yeah, but it's not anything you're fuckin' doing."

"But it still involves me. What is bothering you?"

Gavin moves again, snuggling back against Nines' shoulder so he doesn't have to look into Nines' eyes as he speaks. Nines' arms close around him again. "We're not movin' too fast or anything, but I'm... really fuckin' new to this, and not good at it. I don't wanna screw up, and I like how everything feels with you, but it's still fuckin' scary."

"Ah." Nines seems to get the point, and doesn't sound concerned at that, at least. "I have detected unease with you when we do activities together that are typical for a romantic couple, including cooking together tonight. You have been more physically distant from me at the station as well than when we were simply colleagues and then friends. It is understandable that you would be feeling concerned and uncomfortable about navigating a situation that is new to you."

Nines' words should make Gavin feel better, but instead, he feels like Nines is trying to push him somewhere he's not ready to go yet. "I told you. I'm not fuckin' ready to... I don't know, hold your hand at fuckin' work or whatever yet."

"I was not attempting to imply that you had to be," Nines says, no longer as relaxed as he had been. "But if you are worried about what everyone will think, I will remind you that homosexuality has not been an issue for many years, and relationships between humans and androids are no longer unusual. You are not the first male officer to have a boyfriend at the station, and..."

"You're not my fuckin' boyfriend," Gavin growls, liking this conversation significantly less now.

"But we are dating."

"We're fuckin' dating, but you're still not my fuckin' boyfriend." He still doesn't want to look up at Nines.

"I do not understand the distinction, but I am happy to make it for you," Nines says, conceding. "But my point is still valid. You do not need to be uncomfortable about the situation. Everyone at..."

Gavin breaks out of Nines' embrace, and sits on the edge of the bed, fumbling with his shirt to find the holes, done with this conversation now. "Fuckin' stop."

"I understand this is a difficult conversation for you, but I feel it is important to..."

"Fuck you," Gavin says, finally finding the correct orientation and pulling the shirt for his pants before standing to find his underwear. "If it's so fuckin' important to you that you have someone you can fuckin' make out with at work, maybe this isn't gonna fuckin' work out."

He regrets it immediately after he says it, because he hates the thought of losing Nines more than the thought of any potential discomfort at work or anywhere else. But he doesn't dare turn around to look at Nines, instead finding an older pair of underwear and pulling them on.

"I do not want that," Nines says, cautiously, and Gavin feels a brief rush of relief at that, at least. "I want you, Gavin. Even if it means moving more slowly on some things."

That should be reassuring, but instead it's just more evidence that Nines doesn't feel like he's doing enough, and dammit he's trying so why is Nines being such an ass about it?

"I don't think you should stay tonight," Gavin says instead, moving to the bedroom window and staring out it. "And you should fuckin' leave before I say somethin' we're both gonna regret."

Nines doesn't say anything else, but Gavin can hear him get dressed. He doesn't turn around again until he can hear the front door click shut.

He doesn't like the feeling he gets at the sound.

Nines doesn't come by Gavin's desk with the usual mug of coffee the following afternoon, and then it's almost 3 PM, and Gavin decides he has to do something about it because, dammit, he feels guilty about yesterday even though he still doesn't think it was really his fault.

He grabs his own cup of coffee, along with an empty cup, and rolls his chair over to Nines' desk. Nines looks over at him as he sits down, and Nines' LED briefly flickers yellow before returning to blue.

"You didn't come by with coffee," Gavin says, as an excuse, setting the empty cup down in front of Nines.

"I was unsure if you wished to see me or speak with me today," Nines says, looking more relaxed already, and taking the empty cup even though he has absolutely no reason to. "I... apologize for pushing, yesterday."

"Yeah, yeah." Gavin takes a sip of coffee. "I was kinda bein' an ass too, so whatever."

Nines nods, understanding the intended apology. "Thank you. I did not mean to imply I was upset with you by avoiding you. I just wanted to give you space."

Gavin nods. "Uh. Walk with me for a bit?"

Nines stands, grabbing the empty cup for some reason, and following Gavin outside.

"Look, I, uh... I don't want you to feel like I'm fuckin' ashamed of you or somethin', okay?" Gavin says once they're what he'd consider a reasonable distance from snooping eyes and ears, and feeling like the statement is a bit at odds with that.

Nines doesn't seem to mind. "I would never assume such a thing."

"I really, uh... like doin' shit with you. At home, or even when we fuckin' have dinner with Tina and Chase and whatever. I know I'm not great at showin' how much you mean to me, but I..."

"That isn't true," Nines says, surprising Gavin. "You do show me, every day, through the little things. You should not feel like you have to go out of your way to make grand gestures or explicit statements. You are the kind of person who does not express their feelings in that manner, and I understand that. I would not expect you to change for me."

"Okay," Gavin says, feeling emotional at the words despite himself. "That, uh... that's nice."

"However, I am the kind of person who likes to be more verbose with my affections, so you should continue letting me know if anything I say or do bothers you," Nines says. "I never wish to make you uncomfortable."

"Do you, uh... need me to be your boyfriend?" Gavin thinks it isn't so bad in that direction, even though he still feels distinctly uncomfortable with the term because of the bidirectional implication.

Nines shakes his head, looking over at Gavin with a gentle smile. "As I said, I do not necessarily understand the distinction, but I am more than happy to make it and say that you are not my boyfriend, and I am not yours, as long as it is acceptable to you to say that we are dating. You seem distinctly more comfortable with that term."

"We're not just datin'," Gavin starts, because the word suddenly feels insufficient. "Well, I mean, we are datin'. But not 'just'. Or whatever. You... mean a fuckin' lot to me, J."

"I know," Nines says, still smiling. "And you to me. But I understand what you are saying. I promise that I am comfortable with whatever you are comfortable with."

"Good." Gavin likes how neatly it feels like that particular conversation had wrapped up. "But uh... really though. If I need to do more for you..."

"Gavin," Nines interrupts, smiling at him. "I promise I will tell you if I ever need you to do anything for me. I promise that you are doing more than enough. I do not want you to push yourself to do more. I think things between us are more than good. That is all I was trying to say yesterday."

Gavin nods, taking the words as intended this time. "Okay."

Nines nods and takes a swig from his empty cup, and Gavin does a double-take at it.

"Fuck you doin'?"

"I am simply enjoying the coffee you fetched me, dipshit," Nines says with a smirk. "Or would you prefer I throw it at the wall?"

"Fucker," Gavin says, affectionately, taking a sip from his actual cup of coffee. "And just, uh... thanks, J. For... just thanks."

Nines smiles and gently punches Gavin's shoulder. "Thank you as well."

Even though Gavin stops really questioning whether Nines is feeling sufficiently cared for, the fact that sex between them is so ridiculously good continues to bother him. He wonders if androids are really just that much better than humans, even though he's fairly sure that's not it, because Nines is honestly less reactive in bed than many women he's slept with. He wonders if it's specifically that Nines is a guy, but tells himself that this too isn't it given his lack of sexual interest in any other men. He wonders if androids might be on to something after all with their "emotional pleasure".

"Hey, J?" Gavin asks one day as they're lying in bed together again. "I gotta question."

"Yes?" Nines says, his hand briefly stilling on Gavin's back.

"It's not about us. Or even really a question. Or just... I don't fuckin' know."

"You can just say what comes to mind," Nines says, reassuringly, but seemingly relaxing as his hand start moving again. "We will work through your thoughts together."

Gavin nods. "Uh. So you said that androids don't experience physical pleasure. Do you guys experience, uh... attraction?"

"Androids are able to appreciate aesthetics, but it is more analytical than emotional," Nines responds, almost immediately, as if he'd been thinking about the same thing. "Androids may have preferences in their partners, just like humans, but in general, I would not call such preferences 'attraction'. The general consensus has been that androids do not experience physical attraction in the same way that humans do."

"Does that mean you don't find me fuckin' attractive?" Gavin doesn't mean to go down this path, but the question comes to mind anyway, and he can feel Nines stiffen at it.

"I am attracted to you. I find you very aesthetically pleasing as well. But my attraction to you is primarily driven from the way you make me feel. The lust and need that I often feel for you is out of a need to be close to you, emotionally speaking. The fact that it frequently involves physical closeness as well is just the means to that end. I apologize if that is not what you wanted to hear."

Gavin shifts so he can look Nines in the face, and so Nines can see his smile. Nines' LED is yellow.

"First time I've been called 'aesthetically pleasin''," he says, smiling and gently kissing Nines. "I kinda like it."

"I am glad," Nines says, relaxing again as his light switches back to blue. "I do not mean to imply in any way that you are unattractive or unappealing."

Gavin smirks and kisses him again. "Right, 'cause I'd give a fuck 'cause I'm so fuckin' vain."

"Fortunately for me, that is not one of your charming qualities."

"Mmm." Gavin grows serious again. "So uh... you know that I've only ever fucked women before you, and uh... only had one girlfriend before you."

Nines nods. "You told me so the night that we started dating."

"It's been buggin' me that sex with her was so much fuckin' better than anyone else. And uh... sex with you is so much better than anyone else. Includin' her."

Nines nods and his LED briefly flickers. "May I ask you a question?"

Gavin nods. "What?"

"Are you attracted to women? I assume you would normally say 'yes', and I imagine you would immediately say 'no' if I asked if you were attracted to men, instead. But given the statements I have made about androids, are you truly physically attracted to women?"

Gavin forces himself to actually think this one over. He's always sought out women because it was the default thing, and the easier thing, and sex had always been fine and functional with them. He can identify qualities he likes in women -- their eyes, their hair -- and there are certainly women he finds more attractive than others, but he's beginning to think these fall under 'appreciating aesthetics' rather than any real attraction.

Especially because, when he really thinks about it, he definitely also finds some men more attractive -- or at least aesthetically pleasing -- than others. But he really doesn't want to think about that right now.

"I was physically attracted to Tanya," he says. "Um, my ex. And I'm, um... really fuckin' attracted to you." He blushes slightly at that one.

"I assume that means your answer is 'no'. And that means sex may have been significantly better for you with Tanya, and with me, than with anyone else that you have had relations with because you were and are attracted to us, and not really to anyone else."

Gavin's blush deepens. "I guess. What's your fuckin' point?"

"Were you friends with Tanya prior to dating her?"

Gavin nods. "Yeah. Uh... You've probably noticed, but I don't really make fuckin' friends very easily. She was probably one of the first I didn't manage to drive away after some time, and we just kinda... clicked. Asked her out, and she said yes, but she grew sick of things quickly 'cause I wasn't givin' her what she needed from me once we were more than friends, and then she left. Then I met Tina, and we got along too in a similar way, and... I dunno. I've never seen Tina like that, but she was married at the time and also fuckin' Tanya had recently left and I was still a fuckin' mess from that. But uh... that's not what you really asked."

Nines doesn't seem bothered by the rambling. "I am sorry that she hurt you, and I believe I understand now why you worry about ensuring that I am happy with you. I will assure you again that you are doing more than enough for me, and that I will tell you if there is anything else I am desiring or needing from you. I will not suddenly disappear on you or leave you."

Gavin likes that reassurance, but he thinks they're getting slightly of topic. "Whatever. Why'd you ask if we were friends first? Me and Tanya?"

"I will preface this by saying that I am not particularly qualified for this conversation, but since you had initially asked about androids, is it possible that you are demisexual?"

"Demi-what?" Gavin doesn't think he knows the word. "Is that fuckin' attracted to androids? 'Cause Tanya was a fuckin' human."

"I apologize for not clarifying," Nines says. "It means that you are sexually attracted only to people with whom you have formed an emotional connection. I am aware of the term only because there has been discussion among academic circles as to whether it applies generally to all androids, as we typically do not experience physical attraction, but we are often extremely sexual within the context of a relationship with a human."

"Huh." Gavin allows himself to actually think about this one, too. "Are you sayin' that I could've been casually fuckin' guys in addition to girls? 'Cause that feels fuckin' weird."

Nines frowns. "I am not making any statement about sex outside of your relationships. I am simply suggesting that it might answer the question for you as to why you enjoy sex significantly more with me. And why you are attracted to me, and seemingly not as much to anyone else, including women in general."

Gavin nods. "Y'know, that kinda also explains why I've never really wanted to date anyone else. Thought it was 'cause fuckin' Tanya was a fuckin' ass, but Tina's been my only real friend. And then you and I were gettin' close, and I was freakin' out 'cause I was havin' feelings for you that I didn't really realize at the time, and just... fuck, now you're here."

"I am," Nines says, smiling again. "And I am extremely thankful for it."

Gavin pushes the conversation and thoughts aside, feeling generally more comfortable with all of it now. He kisses Nines, trying to convey his affection and thanks physically, instead.

Gavin's really fucking thankful, too.

Chapter End Notes

The first part of this chapter is a lot of "Bob has thought a lot about android physiology" and there'll be a lot more of that in MITTS' epilogue, once we get there.

In any case, the madness of Thanksgiving starts soon, so it may be the weekend before the next update. Still hoping to hit 50k with this fic by the end of the month, though!

Hear It Thunder

Chapter Notes

Takes place after the main events of MITTS

The ringing of his phone pulls Gavin's attention away from the TV. He glances over at the device, sitting on the coffee table in front of the couch, only long enough to see the caller ID.


He moves, reaching forward just enough to silence the damn thing before returning to his comfortable position. He knows Nines, sitting next to him, is staring at him now. He doesn't want to talk about his mom, at the moment. He hadn't talked to her in the months since his sister Elsie's visit, and he wasn't looking forward to whatever she had to say about the matter.

His phone stops buzzing and then immediately starts ringing again. He silences it again, annoyed now, slamming it back down onto the coffee table. He wonders if he should just block her number.

"Should you answer that?" Nines asks, and Gavin tells himself he shouldn't get upset with Nines. This wasn't Nines' fault.

"Nah. It's just my fuckin' mom."

Gavin's sure Nines knew that already -- Gavin knows Nines' vision is superior, especially as his has continued to deteriorate with age -- but he appreciates anyway when Nines lets him handle issues in his own time. Unfortunately, he knows she's going to call again, and he isn't willing to block her number to prevent the interruptions quite yet in case it's actually important.

He snatches the phone up when it indeed rings again. "Who fuckin' died?" he snaps.

"Gavin Malcolm!" she scolds. "Language!"

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. What's the big emergency?"

"You didn't come home for Christmas, and you haven't called, and we haven't talked since just before Elsie's visited you, and that was months ago."

"So f... freakin' what?" Gavin considers whether he could just hang up on her. "Maybe I just don't have anything to talk to you about."

"What about your new friend?" she asks, pointedly, and Gavin rolls his eyes. He'd been expecting that, even though part of him had hoped that his sister would've kept things to herself after her visit and what he supposes would be his 'coming out' to her.

"What about him?"

"You didn't see fit to tell us about that?" she says, hurt in her voice, and that somehow cuts through his annoyance.

"What do you want, mom?" he asks, a little calmer now. "I know you. You're callin' for somethin' specific."

She's quiet for a bit. "I want you two to come home for Thanksgiving," she says, finally, as if afraid that he'll say no. Because she knows he'll say no.

Gavin glances over at Nines, who's playing dumb, even though he's sure Nines has heard the entire conversation. He puts the phone against his shoulder and stares at Nines until he looks over.

"What can I do for you?" Nines asks, clearly trying to keep his face neutral but still obviously eager to go, and Gavin rolls his eyes.

"Do you wanna go or not?" Gavin still really doesn't want to humor her, and doesn't want to deal with Nines suddenly being in the midst of his immediate family and many of his relatives, but he knows that Nines would want to go, and can tell that Nines wants to go, and maybe that's enough for him to go along with it.


Nines hesitates, clearly trying to weigh his desire against Gavin's obvious discomfort, and Gavin swallows the sudden affection he feels for Nines at it.

"Fine," Gavin says into the phone again, deciding for the both of them because he knows Nines really does want it. "We'll book flights and I'll send you the fuckin' itinerary."

She lets this one slide, maybe due to her surprise. "I'm so happy to hear that!"

"Yeah yeah." He glances over at Nines, and Nines nods, and he knows Nines is starting to look up flights. There were some benefits to an android significant other.

"How has work been? We've been..."

"Goodbye," Gavin says, interrupting her question and hanging up the call. "Fuckin' hell."

"I have made the assumption that you wish to fly in the Wednesday before and leave the following Saturday morning," Nines says. "I have eliminated non-direct flights, as well as ones that do not allow pre-reservation of two seats next to each other. Assuming you would prefer an aisle seat, and would not want to arrive later than approximately six PM or leave earlier than ten AM, there are five possible candidate flights."

Gavin isn't too surprised by how well Nines knows -- or maybe infers -- his preferences on things the two of them have never talked about, but he's still appreciative anyway. "Whatever," he says, leaning over and kissing Nines gently as thanks. "Do the cheapest of those."

"We will depart at 3 PM and arrive at approximately 3:30 due to the time zone difference. If you give me the address, I can also book a cab from the airport for our arrival."

"I'll make Elsie fuckin' get us," Gavin says, not wanting to give Nines the address so he can start looking up whatever he would start looking up, even though he suspects Nines already knows it anyway. "Don't book a cab. She owes us."

"I have sent the confirmation to your phone," Nines says, and Gavin's phone dings. "If you provide your mother's contact information, I would be happy to send her the information as well."

"Nice try," Gavin grumbles, forwarding the message to his mom for himself. "Can we fuckin' watch this show in peace now?"

"Thank you," Nines says, softly, slipping an arm around Gavin's back. "And I love you."

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, letting Nines pull him against his side. "So you keep fuckin' tellin' me."

"And I will continue to do so," Nines says in a way that should be annoying but is instead endearing.

Gavin thinks that Nines feels comforting against him.

Gavin wonders if Nines had booked this particular flight on purpose so that he could have a window seat next to Gavin's aisle seat, and his suspicions are more or less confirmed as Nines, sitting next to him, practically glues himself to the window for the entire flight.

"You're gonna smudge the fuckin' glass," he mutters as they descend for a landing, even though he secretly finds Nines' exuberance adorable. It hadn't really occurred to him before that Nines had never been on a plane, and he wonders if he should look into a longer vacation out West sometime with Nines. Maybe California. It had been a while since he'd travelled somewhere on vacation, himself.

"Unlike human skin, my face and skin do not contain oils or other substances that would transfer to the material," Nines says, in the matter-of-fact way he does that Gavin finds strangely endearing now. "It is more likely that the dirt already on the window would transfer to me than the other way around, and I am not directly contacting it with my face anyway. Additionally, the window is not made of glass, but rather a..."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Whatever. Just don't fuckin' lick the thing." He still finds Nines' method of analysis disgusting, especially now that he's regularly kissing him, but it fortunately hadn't been necessary in any of their cases together since he'd originally witnessed it.

And he's sure Nines would never sample blue blood again, anyway.

"Analyzing," Nines says, and Gavin has to look over and see his smirk to confirm he hadn't actually sampled the window glass -- via licking or otherwise.

Gavin can't help but smile back. "Fuckin' androids."

Gavin carries their bags upstairs to the guest room that had previously been his room -- because Nines wasn't standing in the corner or sitting on the couch all night no matter what his mom was going to say, dammit -- complaining about Elsie when he realizes Nines hadn't followed him. He tosses the stuff in the room and heads back down to rescue Nines from whatever family member may have started harassing him.

"You don't want to do that," he hears his mom's voice snap, from the kitchen, and heads that way first, ready to give her hell.

"You are carrying too much responsibility and look like you could use some assistance," Nines' voice says, and Gavin stops in the hallway, leaning against the wall just outside the kitchen so he can listen. Nines didn't seem distressed, yet.

"You are not programmed to cook," his mom says, her voice still dubious. "And you don't eat."

"I am good at following directions and making inferences," Nines insists. "My systems are capable of analyzing substances, including foods and sauces, and finding ratios which are pleasing to human palettes. And I have prepared meals with Gavin."

Gavin remembers fondly the first time Nines had showed up while he was in the kitchen and asked to help. Even though Gavin had never been one to make anything more complicated than ramen or pasta, Nines had gradually turned cooking into a couples activity for them, taking the time to find recipes that gradually increased in difficulty until one day Gavin had found himself basting a chicken breast in a pan with a spoon -- Nines standing behind him, arms around him and chin on his shoulder -- wondering what the fuck had happened.

"Gavin taught you to cook?" his mom asks, sounding like she's walking around the kitchen again, and Gavin takes that as a good sign.

"My father did, actually. He said it would be a useful skill to have."

"Your father was a domestic android? I didn't realize androids had children."

"Oh. My father is human. His name is Hank."

Gavin has a smile on his face now. He heads to the living room instead, sure that the situation is fine, now.

Fucking androids.

Elsie and her husband David are sitting in the living room, chatting with Gavin's dad, as their son Randall colors in a coloring book in the corner. David smiles at him as he walks in.

"Come join us, Gavin," David says, grabbing a bottle of wine from the table next to him. "Grab a glass from over there."

"You know, you could go help your mother," his dad says. "She's runnin' herself ragged in the kitchen making the pies for tomorrow and dinner for tonight."

And none of you are helping her, Gavin thinks, holding his tongue because he knows it would just start a fight. "Nines is helping her," he says instead, grabbing a glass and nodding gratefully at David as he fills it.

"Nines?!" Elsie stares at him. "That thing is gonna to burn everything."

"Sweetheart," David says, his voice harsh despite his words. "I'm sure that Nines is very capable, and Ann wouldn't allow him to do anything she didn't feel like he couldn't handle."

Elsie shakes her head, clearly not believing him, and stares at Gavin as he sits in an armchair. "I've been doing some research on it, you know. It was built for police work, not cookin' or cleanin' or whatever. I hope you're not lettin' it have a gun. One day it's gonna snap like that Connor did and murder you in your sleep, Gav."

"Fuck off!" Gavin yells at her, jumping to his feet and glaring at her, thankful that he hadn't spilled his wine -- he'd never hear the end of it if he had. "And not one fuckin' word about 'Language, Gavin'. I'll stop fuckin' cussin' when you stop fuckin' treating him like fuckin' shit."

"We do not use that kind of language in this house," his dad bellows, rising to his feet too, and Gavin realizes that everyone -- including Randall -- is staring at him now.

"Whatever," Gavin says, interrupting before he can say anything else, and setting his glass down on the nearest table. "I'm fuckin' going."

The only part of visiting home that Gavin has ever really liked is the backyard, a large open lawn surrounded by trees that are bare now. It occurs to him that it's been many years since he's seen the woods here with actual leaves instead of barren -- although the trees are typically covered in snow during his visits now -- and he feels a brief pang of nostalgia before he shakes it off.

He regrets not having brought the wine, or at least his coat.

The door behind him slides opens and he swings around, ready for another confrontation, but David just looks at him sympathetically, the bottle of wine in one hand and two new glasses in the other.

"Mind if I join you?" he asks, and Gavin shrugs, turning back to the view and leaning with his elbows on the deck railing again.

"Else and dad fightin' again?"

David just smiles, closing the sliding door behind him. "This time over more kids. Graham thinks we're overdue for another. Else and I want to wait a bit longer, first."

"Yeah, well. It takes a special kind of crazy to marry into this fuckin' mess, so you were askin' for it."

"And I wouldn't change it for the world," David says, standing next to him, setting the glasses on the railing, and pouring himself a glass of wine and holding the bottle in the air over the other. "Wine?"

"Whatever," Gavin says, and David seems to understand the response, because he pours another glass -- this one to the brim -- and pushes it toward Gavin. "Thanks."

David doesn't say anything for a while, waiting for Gavin to start, and Gavin doesn't like the long silence.

"Fuck Elsie," he says, taking a large swig from his glass. "She's a fuckin' ass."

David chuckles. "Reminds me of you, the first time we met. If I remember correctly, you and Elsie ganged up on me when I started talking about my new android neighbor. Told me that she wasn't a person, and that my neighborhood was going downhill, and that I had better start hoarding cash for when they put me out of a job."

"You fuckin' remember correctly," Gavin grumbles, taking another swig. "A fuckin' lot's happened since then."

"To you, maybe. Else just needs more time with it. I know she's being extremely unfair to you right now, and especially to him, but she'll come around."

"I shouldn't have fuckin' come," Gavin says, feeling guilty now. "And I shouldn't have dragged him into this."

David shakes his head. "I'm sure Nines is capable of making his own decisions, Gavin, so you didn't drag him into anything. And for what it's worth, I'm glad the two of you are here."

That helps, at least a little.

David fortunately doesn't press further, and they drink the rest of the bottle together in silence. Gavin is already starting to feel the alcohol, but he still has the sense to avoid the living room when he re-enters the house, instead heading directly for the kitchen.

He isn't sure what to expect there, but it's certainly not to find Nines and his mother laughing together as Nines pulls a pie out of the oven.

"Don't burn yourself, dear!" she says, watching him set the pie on a hot plate holder on the counter. "I don't care if your skin can sprout wings and fly. It still won't be pleasant, and I'm sure the ointment I have won't do a thing for you."

"The pumpkin pie has another twelve minutes before we remove the foil," Nines says, smiling as he pulls off the oven mitts instead of diving into a technical explanation of his skin as Gavin expects. "But perhaps we should make it fourteen as much of the oven's heat would have escaped when we retrieved the cherry."

"Next year you're helping me from the beginnin', mister. We won't have any of this crazy timin' to keep track of if we finish assemblin' them at the same time."

"I look forward to it," Nines says, and his smile grows bigger as he turns and sees Gavin standing in the doorway.

Gavin's pretty sure he reacts the same way to Nines' gaze.

"Nines has been more useful in one afternoon than you and Elsie and Ewan were, together, over the past ten years!" his mom says to Gavin, after following Nines' gaze, but it's more amused than upset. "This might be the first year that I don't burn something. Can you find me more of him?"

Gavin isn't sure how Nines had managed to warm his mother up to him so much in such a short period of time, but he's comfortable enough now -- and maybe buzzed enough -- to slot himself against Nines' side with an arm around his waist. Nines' arm finds his shoulder and holds him there. "He's the only one," he says, looking up at Nines with affection. Nines smiles back at him and gently kisses his forehead.

"What time would you like my assistance tomorrow, Ann?" Nines asks, and part of Gavin wants to comment on how they'd apparently skipped right over the usual 'Mrs. Reed' phase that all of his siblings' significant others had gone through, and that his mother had always insisted on.

She pats his arm, turning back to the stove and stirring a pot of rice. "I'm sure you boys will want to sleep in, but I wouldn't mind some help with the turkey in the mornin'."

"I do not require sleep, and I have become skilled at extricating myself from the bed without waking Gavin," Nines says, and Gavin should be embarrassed at the implication that he knows his mom will pick up on, but instead thinks he just appreciates Nines even more. "I will make myself available around 8 AM to assist you."

She laughs, putting the lid back on the pot. "I was thinkin' more like 10, unless you want to help make waffles for everyone."

Nines squeezes Gavin's bicep before picking up a spoon, moving back toward the stove, and removing the lid from a pot of what looks like broccoli. "I have not operated a waffle iron before. I look forward to the opportunity."

I love you, Gavin thinks, suddenly, and he's thankful he wasn't drunk enough yet to have said it out loud. But even though the thought and realization should make him nervous or fill him with worry, instead it just feels right.

"You sure got along with mom today," Gavin says as he turns out the light in the bedroom and slips into the bed in the calming blue glow of Nines' LED, and into Nines' waiting arms.

"I am glad that you think so," Nines says, his arms wrapping around Gavin's back as Gavin finds a comfortable position against Nines' side. "I want to make a good impression with your family. As much as I can."

Gavin kisses Nines' chest. "Yeah, well. You fuckin' did that, at least with her. I've never seen her warm up so quickly to someone. What the fuck did you do?"

"I helped her with the food," Nines says. "Your mother must particularly value assistance with her cooking."

Gavin shakes his head. "She does, but Ewan's girlfriends have helped her before too, and she's never been like this with any of 'em. What'd you fuckin' talk about with her?"

"The subject of dogs came up, and I told her about Riki," Nines says, kissing Gavin's head. "I told her about Connor and some of what he does at the station. I told her about some of the cases I'd worked on."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin doesn't like the feeling he gets at the last one.

"I told her about Alex and Buttsy and my illness," Nines says, still now as he senses Gavin's change in mood, the room now lit in a soft yellow. "She said she had not heard about the cases, but was pleased that I had recovered quickly."

"You told her about my fuckin' cases," Gavin says, forcing himself out of Nines' arms and pushing him away. "No wonder you two were best fuckin' friends by the end of it. She's always so fuckin' curious about what's goin' on with me. You used me and my life as a fuckin' topic of casual conversation, and as a fuckin' ticket to her fuckin' good graces."

"I did not!" Nines objects, and in the now-red glow from Nines' LED, Gavin can make out that Nines is looking at him, worry on his face. "It did not seem proper to rebuke her questions about my work, and those were the cases that seemed like they provided the most content for discussion. I did not discuss your work in particular, or focus on your contributions to the particular cases."

Gavin doesn't like that either. "Fuckin' great. So you took credit for everything. 'Gavin didn't notice the TVs'. 'Gavin didn't notice the injuries'. What, you tell her you figured out the fuckin' blood thing by yourself too?"

Nines stares at him. "You are intentionally misrepresenting the discussion and my intentions, and growing unfairly agitated at me because of it," he says. "I apologize if you feel like I was..."

Gavin especially hates when he feels like Nines is talking down to him. "Get out," he sneers, shoving Nines out of the bed and wishing they were anywhere but here right now, so he could tell Nines to run home to Connor and Hank instead. "Fuck off."

Nines does so, the door shutting behind him, and Gavin thinks to himself that at least Nines had done that one thing right, today.

Gavin wakes up feeling a bit guilty about what had happened, and about having made Nines spend the night... wherever he had spent the night.

Guilty, but not necessarily bad enough to do anything about it yet.

He tells himself that Nines had meant well even as he mulls over the anger and his feelings of having been sold out. He reminds himself why he hates this house so much, full of people who would never leave well enough alone and always have a nose in everyone else's business and fight all the time because of it. He thinks to himself that much of that describes him pretty well, too.

Except for the part about other people's business. He could care less about that.

He's pulled out of his thoughts by a knock at the door. "Fuckin' what?" he yells reflexively, before immediately thinking he isn't ready for another fucking fight with his dad, or Elsie, or his mom, so he's more than a little relieved when the door opens and David pokes his head through.

"Nines wanted me to bring you a waffle. He wasn't sure if you were coming downstairs for a while."

Gavin scoffs, even though he actually really appreciates the gesture. "He couldn't be fuckin' bothered to bring it himself? He had to send his errand boy instead. Fuckin' humans are workin' for the fuckin' robots now."

David pushes the door open the rest of the way, revealing he's carrying a glass of orange juice in addition to the waffle on a plate with a fork and knife. "Ann is teaching him how to clean a turkey, and he figured you would not want raw turkey juices all over your breakfast."

"Whatever." Gavin sits up in bed and accepts the waffle, setting the juice on the nightstand by the bed.

"Do you want to talk about it?" David asks instead of leaving.

"Fuckin' what?"

"Nines looked upset," David says. "And worried about you."

"That's just his fuckin' face," Gavin says, ignoring the silverware, picking up the waffle, and taking a bite out of it. It's devoid of any syrup or butter or other toppings, the way Nines knows he likes it -- and the way his mom never served waffles to him -- and that fact simultaneously pisses him off and calms him down at the same time.

David nods, turning to leave, but suddenly Gavin does want to talk. And David isn't a jackass like his siblings.


David stops at the doorway, shutting the door and leaning against it. "Shoot," he says.

"Just fuckin' mom again, always up in my fuckin' business and all that."

David frowns. "It seemed like Nines and Ann were really getting along."

"Yeah, and that's the fuckin' problem. Nines used me to get to her."

David crosses his arms. "That hardly seems fair. He's your boyfriend, not your mom's."

"He's not my fuckin' boyfriend," Gavin mutters.

"And he's already coming into all of this at a disadvantage," David continues, ignoring Gavin's remark. "He's doing in his best in a difficult situation. What do you mean he 'used you'?"

"Mom's always askin' about me and my job and fuckin' shit. Nines knows that and sold me out to her."

"That hardly seems like Nines," David says. "Granted, we've only met twice, but he doesn't seem like the kind of person who would intentionally do something hurtful."

"Yeah, well he fuckin' did. Told her about my cases and shit. Well, our cases. All the shit I haven't been telling her because it's none of her fuckin' business."

"I see," David says, smiling now, and it's somehow infuriating. "You're upset because you feel like Nines should have kept any conversation to his own work instead of talking about cases you two have worked on together, because you feel like that's no one else's business and you hate when your mom pries."

"That's fuckin' right." Gavin takes another bite of the waffle, deciding after all that it calms him down.

"Think about it this way instead, Gavin. Maybe Nines talked about them not because he was intentionally trying to upset you, but because those were the most important things he's worked on, and he felt proud of them. I don't know any details of the cases of course, but I don't mean important in terms of impact or difficulty or anything. I mean they're important to him because they brought the two of you together, and you're important to him, and he wants Ann to know how much you mean to him."

"He's still a fuckin' ass," Gavin mutters, even though all of that makes sense to him.

David stares at him for a second. "You love him, don't you?"

"Fuck off," Gavin says, and he knows he's blushing now.

"You know what Elsie told me on our six month dating anniversary?"

Gavin is sure he's about to find out. "Somethin' about her fuckin' brother being a fuckin' jackass, probably."

David ignores the comment. "She said that Reeds were impossible to please and difficult to get along with, but they were unreservedly loyal, utterly protective, and loved fiercely. She said that she and I would often fight -- even over little things that didn't really matter that much to her -- and she would often be wrong even though she wouldn't be able to admit it, but none of that would change the way she felt about me. She said she wouldn't blame me for giving up on her and leaving, but she fell in love with me because she knew I wouldn't, and trusted I wouldn't. It was the first time she told me she loved me."

Gavin doesn't quite know what to say to that, so he reacts the way he's most comfortable. "Fuck off. I'm not pourin' out my feelings to J, especially not about that."

David nods, and doesn't ask about 'J' in the way Gavin knows either of his siblings or parents would have. "I'm not telling you to," David says. "But I think you and Elsie are more similar than you'd like to admit, and Nines doesn't know any of this, because you haven't told him. So right now he's just worried he's really done something wrong, and really upset you."

"I'm not gonna fuckin' apologize."

"I'm not telling you to do that either," David says, and Gavin isn't sure how he hadn't managed to annoy or frustrate the man into leaving yet. "And no, I'm not going to give him that entire spiel for you. That's your job. But he sent you an olive branch, so now it's your turn. Go downstairs, and do whatever it is you two do after a fight. Make things right instead of leaving him down there alone to worry."

Gavin rolls his eyes. "Whatever."

"You're welcome," David says, smiling as if he understands, and Gavin supposes he probably does if he's married to Elsie.

Then he's gone.

Gavin carries the full glass and empty plate downstairs -- he hates orange juice and knows that Nines knows that he does, and imagines that particular item had been something his mother had insisted on -- to find Nines and his mom in the kitchen. He watches, unnoticed, as Nines shoves handfuls of stuffing into the bird.

"What happened afterward? Did you find the girl?" she asks, and Gavin freezes at it.

They're fucking talking about me again. That's our case.

Nines shakes his head. "No. We didn't have to, because the father turned himself in the next day, in Chicago. I got to give the good news to the mother. It was a very memorable moment."

Gavin relaxes again. They were talking about a different case -- one that Nines had worked on by himself. He supposes that means Nines really did understand why he was upset, and was doing his best to humor his mother's inquiries while still being respectful of his boundaries.

"Mornin'," he grumbles as he walks into the kitchen, and Nines looks over at him, face full of both trepidation and hope and his LED flickering from blue to yellow.

"Good mornin'," his mom says. "You'd better not have left any crumbs in the bed. I told Nines we eat at the dinin' table in this house, but he insisted and said you weren't feelin' well. And drink your orange juice. It fights off anythin' you might've gotten from the plane."

He ignores her and the rush of affection he feels for Nines at her words, setting the plate and glass down on an empty area of counter before moving up behind Nines and wrapping his arms around him. He can feel Nines relax against him, even though his light is still yellow. "I was a fuckin' idiot."

"Language, Gavin!" she chides, nevertheless setting the stuffing pan down on the stove and pulling off her oven mitts. "I'm going to go strip and change the sheets. I'm sure you've managed to get syrup all over them. Don't burn yourself on the pan, dear."

"You were not, but I am pleased you are... feeling better," Nines says, addressing Gavin, kissing his head and looking like he would properly reassure him if not for the fact that he was currently handling food. His light is glowing blue again, but even without it, Gavin knows that Nines is calm now.

Gavin releases Nines and watches his mom walk out of the room, making sure she's out of earshot before he continues. "No. I was... bein' stupid." He tries to remember David's words. "And sometimes I'm gonna do shit like this, but it's not your fault when I do. I wouldn't blame you for leavin' my fuckin' idiot ass and no longer toleratin' my fuckin' bullshit, but I'm really fuckin' glad you don't. You're really fuckin' important to me, J, and I'm really fuckin' glad you're still here, and especially that you're here."

It doesn't have nearly the same eloquence of what Elsie had said -- or at least, David's interpretation of her words; Gavin's pretty sure Elsie hadn't done much better, herself -- and Nines doesn't say anything for a second. But then he's moving -- to the sink, apparently, and Gavin loves how proper Nines always is, because he knows he would just grab Nines with his dammed stuffing-coated hands in the same situation -- washing his hands and drying them before turning around, grabbing Gavin, and kissing him forcefully.

"I know," Nines says when they break, even though Gavin thinks he's speechless with emotion now. "And I love you for it, fucker."

Gavin can't help but laugh at that. Even though he can't say it back, and isn't sure he'll ever be able to tell Nines how he really feels, he hopes he can show him anyway, every day.

And I Wonder

Chapter Notes

Takes place after the main events of MITTS

I didn't even realize that the last chapter (13) made for 50,065 words, so I guess this is officially a successful NaNoWriMo 2022!

(One more chapter to go after this one, and I think we can wrap this up fairly reasonably)

Gavin is probably just about the least sentimental person alive, but he likes to think he's pretty good at picking out presents anyway. His first present to Nines, the metal thermos mug, had been both useful and a representation of how much he'd enjoyed talking with Nines. His second -- also a Christmas gift, the following year -- had been a necklace that represented the start of their friendship and eventual relationship. He likes to think that they're Nines' two most precious possessions, although admittedly there isn't much competition -- Nines owns very few physical things, other than his clothing.

Due to his lack of sentimentality, it doesn't surprise Gavin that he nearly misses their one-year dating anniversary. Nor does it surprise him that Nines doesn't, and suggests ice skating that Gavin readily agrees to because he secretly wants to see Nines stumble and help him up off the ice. But he wants to get an actual present for Nines too, and finding a present is really fucking hard.

"He's takin' me fuckin' ice skatin' tomorrow," he grumbles to Tina one morning while Nines is in a meeting with Connor about a case. "I gotta get him somethin' too."

"Do you?" Tina asks, and Gavin isn't sure whether she's being serious. "You're not the kind of person who does that kind of thing, Gavin. Nines knows that."

"Yeah but he really liked my fuckin' Christmas gift." Gavin really likes that Nines has started wearing it outside his shirt in recent weeks, after hiding it under fabric since receiving it, unsure how Gavin would feel about the public advertisement of their relationship. Gavin had told him in no uncertain terms that he was done letting Jones and everyone else at the station make him feel self-conscious about the two of them. "I gotta top that somehow."

"You've gotta top him," Tina says, smirking into her coffee, and Gavin doesn't like this line of teasing very much. "You could also get him an experience, you know. It doesn't have to be an actual thing. Like he's taking you ice skating. Everything he's gotten you has been kinda like that, right? A trip to the aquarium, a cake he baked for you..."

"I fuckin' gave him a key already, months ago," Gavin says, ignoring her chattering. "I should've waited for the fuckin' anniversary. It would've been a good one. 'Hey fucker I like you so come over whenever'."

"When am I getting a key, Gavin?" Tina asks, teasingly. "Or do you not like me?"

"Fuck off," Gavin says with a grin. "I don't know why I'm askin' you anyway. You were worthless the first time in figurin' out what to get him."

"I don't know why you're asking me either," Tina says. "But since you are, I still think you don't need to get him a thing. Just figure out something you both like doing or somewhere you both like going and take him there." She pauses. "Also fuck. You've been seeing someone for an entire year."

Gavin rolls his eyes, even though he completely relates to the sentiment. "Yeah, I'm so undesirable that only a fuckin' android could stand me for a year."

Tina gently punches his arm. "That's not what I'm saying and you know it. I'm happy for the two of you."

Gavin nods, smiling as he sees Nines walking toward them. "Me, too."

Gavin doesn't figure out anything that day, and tells himself he has some time the next morning to go to a store and find something. But Connor calls at 5 AM for a shooting, and Gavin and Nines spend the rest of the day dealing with that case together, and then it's the evening and he finds himself at the ice rink with Nines with no time left to buy a present, unless a hot dog that Nines can't and won't eat counts as a present.

"Hey," Gavin says, watching Nines pull on his pair of skates, an idea having jumped into his head.

"Hi," Nines says, smiling back at him softly. "Don't worry. I won't embarrass you on the ice."

"Riki's self-sufficient now, right?" Gavin asks before he can second-guess it.

Nines clearly isn't expecting a question about the dog. "Somewhat. He is in the 'moody' stage of life, but is able to entertain himself most times, and Hank and I share walking duties, now." He snaps the restraints on his skates shut and seems to shake his foot experimentally before looking at Gavin. "Why do you ask?"

"I was, uh..." Gavin isn't sure why it's so hard to get the question out. "...just wonderin'."

Nines LED flickers to yellow before returning to blue, and he smiles. "If I may be presumptuous, are you asking about Riki because you are considering asking me to move in with you?"

Gavin blushes, realizing that part of why he loves Nines so much is how well he feels like Nines really understands him, and how in-tune it feels like the two of them usually are. "Maybe."

Nines nods, standing and seemingly testing his balance on the skates. "Is it acceptable if I discuss the matter with Hank and Connor first? It feels irresponsible of me to move out and leave Riki primarily in their care without at least having that conversation."

"Whatever." Gavin likes the thought that Nines wants to, and just wants to formally discuss the idea with Hank and Connor first. He hopes he isn't reading too much into Nines' answer.

Nines seems to stabilize on his feet and looks over at Gavin, smiling gently. "If it makes you feel better, my answer is likely to be 'yes'. I just want to ensure that Hank and Connor are able to function without me."

"Yeah, like they were at each others' throats before you came along," Gavin says, grinning. He's been spending more time at their house lately -- mostly to spend time with Nines -- and it's always felt comfortable in a way that no other home he'd been in had ever felt. He thinks that a lot of it is due to the way Hank and Connor seem to really get along with each other, and have more than welcomed Gavin into Nines' -- and their -- lives. "Can I ask you somethin'?"

"Yes," Nines says, holding out his hand to help Gavin up. Gavin swats it aside, standing on his own skates, and following Nines as he walks toward the rink.

"Hank and Connor aren't... datin', are they?"

Nines laughs at the question. "No. Connor's relationship with Hank is basically the same as mine. We both see Hank as our father, in some way. Hank sees us as his sons. There is absolutely no romance there."

Gavin nods, approvingly. "Good. Would've been fuckin' weird for the boss to be bonin' one of his detectives."

"I will remind you that..."

"Yeah, yeah. No dicks. Whatever. Figure of speech, J."

Nines nods, cautiously clinging to the side of the rink as he gingerly steps onto the ice. "As we had previously discussed, there has been speculation as to whether all androids are demisexual. The dissenters disagree not because any androids have displayed inherent sexual attraction, either to each other or to humans, but because many have absolutely no interest in sex and would therefore be categorized more generally as asexual. I would generally describe Connor as asexual, and likely aromantic, as I could not imagine him being involved with anyone, human or android."

"Huh." That surprises Gavin for some reason, even though it definitely fits with what he knows about Connor. "I guess I'd always assumed that 'cause you and I clicked, and you're so fuckin' insatiable, that he'd..." He shrugs.

Nines looks like he wants to blush. "As I have said..."

"Yeah, yeah. You're different individuals. Thank fuckin' god." Gavin skates a quick half circle around Nines. "And let go of the fuckin' wall. I thought you said you'd downloaded skatin' instructions or whatever."

"I did, but the actual experience is quite different."

"Let go of the wall and hold my fuckin' hand already," Gavin huffs, holding his hand out toward Nines. "I'm not babysittin' you all evening while you hug the fuckin' wall."

Nines smiles at him and obliges, immediately looking more comfortable and stable once he does.

Gavin stares at him. "That was a fuckin' ploy, wasn't it?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, Detective," Nines says, slightly smirking, and pushing off, pulling Gavin along with him. "Let's skate."

"Can I ask you something personal?"

Gavin looks up at Nines from his position on Nines' chest. Nines' LED is yellow, and his voice was cautious.

"We're fuckin' datin', J. You can fuckin' ask me anythin'."

"Would you tell me about your scars?" Nines asks, and Gavin understands why Nines is nervous. The last time Nines had asked about them, he had told Nines off.

But a lot had happened since then.

"You already know about the fuckin' nose one," Gavin said, turning his head back down, closing his eyes, and trying to delay answering as long as he could, because he really didn't like talking about them. His scars were a reminder of his youthful recklessness and loneliness.

"You do not have to answer," Nines says, sensing Gavin's discomfort. "And so we're clear, this does not have anything to do with my decision to move in or not move in with you."

"Figured," Gavin murmurs, deciding he really should give Nines an answer. Nines meant a lot to him. He didn't want to have any secrets -- perceived or otherwise -- from him. "Uh... they're not like... fuckin' abuse or anythin', if that's what you're wonderin'."

"I never would have made such an assumption. I have met your family, Gavin. They may be loud, but with the exception of your brother, they do not seem like they would resort to physical violence."

"The smaller ones on my face and arms are when I fuckin' jumped through a window," Gavin says, just wanting to get it over with, now. "The one on my side is when I got fuckin' stabbed. The one in my shoulder is a fuckin' gunshot, along with the one in my leg. The others are all fuckin' stupid stuff, like gettin' caught on a sharp piece of fence or whatever. They're all from fuckin' foot chases. I was, uh... when I joined the force, before I became a Detective, I was just really fuckin' angry at the world and kinda... rebellious, I guess, against my parents, so I did fuckin' stupid things when I was in the field."

Gavin almost excepts a quip from Nines about how he still did stupid things, and was still rebellious, but instead Nines seems to hold him tighter. "I am sorry that you felt like you had to take out your frustrations on yourself."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin isn't sure he'd ever heard it that way before.

"It sounds like you didn't care about your own well-being so much. You did not value your own safety."

"I guess. I just didn't really have anyone who cared about me. Yeah, yeah, you're gonna say my family fuckin' cares about me, but you know what I fuckin' mean. I took fuckin' risks 'cause I wanted to have the best fuckin' record on arrests, and the fuckin' chief rewarded me for it, so I kept fuckin' doin' it. I didn't matter as much as just fuckin' getting the job done. I guess it felt like I didn't matter at all."

Nines is still now. "Do you still feel that way?" he asks, cautiously.

Gavin looks up at him again. His LED is red now. "Nines," Gavin says, softly. "I might still do fuckin' stupid things sometimes, but do you see me takin' fuckin' risks like that anymore? I know Tina gives a shit about me, and I know how you feel about me. I'm doin' better in general, and I'm tryin' to do better even than that for you."

Nines' LED switches to yellow, but he still seems bothered. "I don't want you to do better for me, Gavin. I want you to take care of yourself because you matter, and you are important. Independent of my feelings and affections for you."

"Whatever," Gavin grumbles, closing his eyes again. "You say that like you're not gonna always be around to fuckin' take care of me."

"That is not what I am saying," Nines says, more harshly than he likely intends, because he immediately deflates. "I would like to always be around and always take care of you, Gavin. But I also want you to value yourself." He pauses. "And despite increasing evidence to the contrary, this really doesn't have anything to do with my decision to move in or not."

"Yeah, yeah." Gavin looks up at Nines again, and tries to smile as reassuringly as he can. "Look, J. I don't like talkin' about my fuckin' scars 'cause they remind me of when I didn't have anyone else, okay? You, and Tina, and Chase, and even fuckin' Connor and Hank are a lot of the reason I don't feel that way anymore. Can we just fuckin' leave it at that?"

Nines nods, and even though he doesn't seem entirely satisfied by that answer, his LED switches back to blue and he kisses Gavin's forehead. "I am glad you do not feel lonely anymore, and I am glad that I can be part of that for you."

Gavin shifts, moving his head next to Nines' and kissing him properly.

He's glad, too.

Nines does decide to move in with Gavin, a couple weeks later, although he cautions that he may spend some nights over at Hank and Connor's, and will still have some responsibility for Riki after work on several days each week. None of that surprises Gavin.

What does surprise him though -- even though it shouldn't -- is how little Nines truly does own when he follows Nines back to the house one day after work to help him pack.

"Is this gonna be enough space?" he asks, holding the copier paper box in two arms while Nines rummages through a dresser drawer in the bedroom.

"It will be more than sufficient," Nines says, unceremoniously pulling out the contents of the drawer and dumping them into the box. "That is everything."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin stares at the box in his arms, containing nothing more than a few folded pairs of jeans, slacks, t-shirts, and sweaters. He supposes he shouldn't be surprised given how few different outfits he'd seen Nines in.

"Androids do not sweat or otherwise emit any substances from their bodies, so we have no need for underwear, and you were already aware that I do not wear any. Other clothing is rotated as necessary only as it collects dirt and grime from the environment. We do not require bundling up in winter. I have no other need for physical objects, as you also know. That is everything."

"I'm gettin' you a scarf and a fuckin' pair of mittens," Gavin grumbles. "As a belated one-year anniversary present. Anyway, you don't have any fuckin' books or... I don't know. Trinkets? Things?"

Nines shrugs, taking the box from Gavin and kissing his cheek. "I can access any information I need on demand, including the majority of digitized literature and multimedia, in a manner that is more efficient than reading printed pages. The only 'trinkets' I possess are the mug and necklace you gifted me." Nines shifts the box to one arm and runs his fingers over the metal hanging against his chest, and seems to smile to himself at it. "I would not mind a scarf, even though I have no need for it, as it would symbolize your affections like this necklace does."

Gavin likes the feeling of that. "Then we're gonna stop at the fuckin' store on the way home and I'm gonna get you somethin' so you have more than just a fuckin' single drawer of stuff when you move in. Maybe a cerulean blue scarf. That'd look good on you. And some fuckin' books 'cause that digital downloadin' crap isn't the same."

Nines grabs Gavin's hand and gently pulls him out of the bedroom and back toward the living room. "Blue is a very typical android color. That would be very... nice."

"Got everything, kiddo?" Hank asks from the couch, scratching Riki behind the ears, as Nines and Gavin emerge from the hallway.

"You should get Detective Reed a scarf, Nines," Connor says, from the kitchen table. "Something dark green would be suitable, I think."

Fucking android hearing.

"Scarves are fuckin' stupid," Gavin grumbles, even though he likes the idea of wearing a scarf that Nines had gotten him. His neck did often get cold in winter.

"Everything is in this box," Nines says to Hank, ignoring Connor and Gavin's exchange.

Hank nods, giving Riki one last pat before standing and holding his arms out toward Nines. "Then c'mere."

Gavin takes the box from Nines before Hank wraps him up in a hug. "I love you, Hank," Nines says, looking like he's tearing up.

"I love you too, kiddo," Hank says, and he's definitely tearing up.

"Your presence and contribution to the general ambiance of this dwelling will be missed, brother," Connor says, standing and moving over to Nines, gently patting him on the back.

"I will miss both of you as well," Nines says, eyes closed and LED yellow as he continues to hold Hank.

Hank lets Nines go, putting his hands on his shoulders and holding him at arm's length. "Come and visit often, you hear?"

"I will be back tomorrow," Nines says, sounding like he's reassuring himself as much as Hank. "It is still my responsibility to walk Riki several times a week."

Hank nods, and shifts his gaze over to Gavin. "And you'd better take care of this one, got it, Gavin?"

"Always," Gavin says, and it sounds like a promise.

He intends to keep it.

True to his word, Gavin buys Nines a scarf, and several books ranging from children's books to thick tomes on anatomy and law, just to see what Nines likes. They begin what soon becomes a regular habit of sitting together on the couch and reading on weekend afternoons, and Nines seems to settle on adult mystery novels as his favorite.

Gavin asks him one day whether he reads them to try and figure out the mystery on his own, and Nines tells him that he just likes the way it feels to read through case reports but in a way where he has absolutely no responsibility or relation to the cases.

Gavin's pretty sure that's exactly why he hates mystery novels, himself.

It's during another of these afternoons, months later, that his phone rings. The caller ID shows his mother's number, and even though he'd normally just ignore the call, for some reason, he's feeling particularly charitable today.

Nines tends to have that effect on him.

"What?" he asks when he picks up, still leaned up comfortably against Nines' shoulder.

"Gavin?" his mom asks, her voice shaky, and that gets his attention.

"Mom. What's wrong?"

"Your father is in the hospital," she says. "He's... not going to make it."

"Fuckin' what?!"

"Gavin. Come home. You and Nines. I need you... right now."

"Mom..." Gavin says, words failing him at the moment as she breaks down into tears.

"I have a flight ready to book," Nines says gently, next to him, and Gavin seizes onto the statement. He could deal with logistics. He could deal with packing. He could deal with a flight.

He can't deal with his emotions.

"Book it," Gavin tells Nines, putting his book down, standing from the couch, and holding his phone to his ear again. "Nines will send you our flight information, mom. We're coming."

Gavin tries to think about anything but his dad and his mom as they make the trip, clinging on to Nines' hand most of the way there. Nines' LED remains a constant yellow, and Gavin doesn't know if it's because Nines is worried about him or about his mom, and he isn't about to ask.

Nines had apparently booked a self-driving rental car as well, and instructs it to take them to a hospital by Gavin's parents' house. He wonders if his mom had given Nines the address.

"Fuck," he says, breaking the silence between them as he stares out the window at the passing scenery.

Nines doesn't say anything, but his hand rests on Gavin's shoulder and squeezes gently.

"I didn't... think I'd be this fuckin' upset, y'know?"

"You still love your parents, even if you do not get along with them," Nines says, simply.

Gavin wants to disagree, but is pretty sure he can't. "They've... done a lot for me, I guess. Growin' up. They're a fuckin' pain and yell a lot and what fuckin' ever, and I fuckin' moved so I wouldn't hafta fuckin' see 'em and deal with 'em all the fuckin' time, but fuck. I never thought he'd just be... gone."

"He is not gone yet," Nines says. "Elsie has been keeping me updated."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin looks over at Nines, who smiles at him gently.

"Ann gave her my contact information for questions or difficulties we might encounter along the way. Elsie has been sending updates on Graham while Ann keeps him company."

"She'd better be treatin' you fuckin' right," Gavin grumbles, his hand finding Nines' on his shoulder, and squeezing it.

Nines smiles at him.

Gavin takes that as affirmative.

"You just missed him, Gav," Ewan says as he meets Gavin and Nines in the hallway, and it takes a second for the words to sink in.

"Fuckin' what?!"

He pushes his way past Ewan, into the room where his mother is wailing and Elsie is holding her tightly from behind as David stands in a corner of the room, staring at the two of them, teary eyed.

"Dad..." Gavin says, staring at the still figure in the hospital bed until he has to look away. "Fuck."

"If it makes a difference, he never regained consciousness," Ewan says from somewhere behind him. "He wouldn't have known you were here."

"Yeah, well I would've fuckin' known," Gavin spits, turning around, shoving Ewan with more force than necessary, and storming out of the room.

A short while later, Nines finds Gavin sitting by himself in a corner of a waiting room. It doesn't surprise him -- Nines always seemed to know where he was, even when he didn't necessarily want to be found. Nines' LED is yellow, and he stands cautiously at a respectful distance. Gavin waves him over.

"Fuck," he says when Nines sits next to him, allowing himself to be pulled against Nines' side by an arm around his back.

"I'm sorry we didn't get here in time," Nines says.

Gavin shakes his head. "Then there wasn't a way to. We were so fuckin' efficient already. I don't know how you timed the fuckin' flight and stuff so well, but... fuck. I didn't... I didn't get to fuckin' say goodbye."

Gavin expects Nines to offer some placation or dismissal like Ewan had, but instead Nines just nods and kisses his head. They're quiet for a bit.

"Do you think he was... proud of me?" Gavin asks, squeezing his eyes shut, and fighting the tears. He doesn't cry, and he certainly won't cry for this father, now.

"That is not my place to say," Nines says, after a bit. "But you have accomplished a great deal with your life, and done a lot of good in the world with it. I can't imagine any parent who wouldn't be proud of that."

"I just... I don't give a shit what he thinks, but I kinda just want him to be okay, y'know? With me and with... fuck. With fuckin' us. I fuckin' dragged you into this mess of a family and I just wanted him to be okay with you."

"You didn't drag me anywhere, Gav," Nines objects. "I love you. I would go anywhere with you, or for you. And as much as you do not get along with your family, I myself feel accepted by them, your father included."

"Right," Gavin says, definitely not believing these words. "Graham Reed, the paragon of acceptance."

Nines seems to hesitate for a second before speaking. "Your father pulled me aside after Thanksgiving," Nines says. "Shortly before we left for the airport. He asked if I was taking care of you. I promised him that I always would, to the best of my ability. Then he shook my hand."

"Fuckin' what?" It sounds so far out of character for his dad that Gavin doesn't believe these words, either.

"It felt... private, and that is why I have not shared the incident with you. But I think he just wants you to be happy, Gav. I think he was cold toward me for a while until he saw that I made you happy. I feel accepted, and don't want you to feel troubled by any concerns about me, right now. This is my time to be here for you, and to support you. I love you, and I know your father loved you too."

"Fuck." Gavin doesn't like what the words do to him.

"It's okay to be sad, Gavin," Nines says, wrapping both arms around Gavin now, and pulling him closer. "Whatever you need to feel, you can feel it now. It's just me. We're alone. I'm here for you."

Gavin still wasn't going to fucking cry for his dad. But he could cry for Nines.

And he does.

Gavin doesn't stick around for the funeral -- can't stick around for the funeral -- and even though Ewan yells at him and tries to deck him for it, and Elsie pleads with him, he stands his ground.

His mother, at least, seems to understand why, kissing his cheek surprisingly tenderly before he climbs into the car.

"I am sorry for your loss," Nines offers, standing at the other car door. "If there is anything I can do..."

"My sweet baby, you have done more than enough," she says, circling around the car and wrapping Nines up in her arms, and whispering something in his ear before patting his cheek and letting him go.

"I will," Nines says, squeezing her one more time before climbing into the car with Gavin. Gavin doesn't ask what she'd told him, or asked of him, because he has a pretty good guess.

Gavin watches the rearview mirror -- why did self-driving cars have rearview mirrors anyway? -- until she disappears into the distance. "I... I'm not fuckin' okay," he says, his voice wavering.

"I'm here, Gavin," Nines says, his hand finding Gavin's and squeezing.

"You... you understand why I couldn't... be there, right?"

"I do not, but I do not need to. What can I do for you, now?"

"Fuckin' kiss me?"

Nines does, and Gavin lets the tears come again.

Hank looks surprised to see Gavin and Nines at work the next day, and even though he doesn't explicitly ask about Gavin's father, it's clear he knows about it.

Fucking Connor.

"I have three new cases for you, Detective," Connor says, dropping three folders down on Gavin's desk.

"I already have three other fuckin' cases."

Connor nods. "I am aware."

Gavin stares at the folders, thinking that maybe the distraction would be a good thing. Maybe being able to throw himself into work for a while is what he really needed.

Fucking Connor knows me better than I know myself.

"Whatever," he says, picking up the folders. "Piece of cake."

Connor nods in approval and disappears again.

"You're coming to dinner with us," Tina says, arms crossed even as she holds Nines firmly in place next to her. "And that's final."

"I told you I have fuckin' work," Gavin grumbles, keeping his gaze focused on the screen in front of him.

"I'm going to go yell at Connor for giving you too much to do. There are plenty of other detectives. They all go home on time. You've been here late every night all week. You missed dinner last night with us. This is not okay, Gavin."

"Fuck off," Gavin says, glaring at her now. "Don't you fuckin' dare pull Connor into this."

"Yeah, like you asked him for more work." Tina scoffs, her expression softening as Gavin doesn't respond and continues to stare at her. "Wait. Gavin. What happened?"

"None of your business," Gavin says, watching as Nines manages to slip free of her grasp and starts to quietly move away.

"Nuh uh," Tina says, grabbing Nines' arm again. "Come back here, Nines. What's fucking up with Gavin?"

"It is not my place to say," Nines says, his LED red now. "But I would accompany you to dinner in his stead if that would..."

"Gavin," Tina says, interrupting and turning back to him. "Tell me what the fuck happened."

Gavin throws up his arms. "My dad fuckin' died, okay? Why the fuck do you care? I'm fine!"

Tina's hands fly up to her mouth, and before Gavin knows what's happening, she's thrown her arms around him, giving him a tight hug.

"Get the fuck off of me," he says, even as he hugs her back and squeezes his eyes shut. "I'm fuckin' fine."

"I'm sorry," Tina says, still hanging on.

"Tina..." Gavin growls, and Tina finally lets him go, patting his shoulder.

"I'll leave you alone if you want, but I really think dinner would be good for you. Besides, Chase and I are away on vacation next week, and I'd really like to have dinner with you before then. So if not tonight, at least this weekend?"

"Fine," Gavin says, feeling like he really does need some food. "Let's get fuckin' food. But don't you fuckin' dare mention any of this to Chase."

Tina nods before turning back to Nines, whose LED seems to have returned to yellow. "Joining us, Nines?"

"Yes," Nines says simply, waiting for Gavin to pack up.

"And, uh... thanks," Gavin grumbles as he logs out of his machine.

"Any time, Gavin," Tina says.

Gavin's mind prefers to focus on specific things and pick them apart for any nuance. It's part of why he likes detective work. It's part of why he thinks he's good at detective work.

Only when he's truly relaxed does his mind wander, and his mind wanders a lot when Nines is around -- and a lot in general these days now that Nines has moved in with him and they're seeing each other all the time -- and especially after the two of them have sex, when the physical exertion has been replaced with a quiet contentment and there's nothing but the two of them.

This time is no exception, and as he snuggles closer to Nines and can hear the gentle whirring of the pump in his chest, his feelings about losing his father start to creep in again, and with them, an irrational fear that he'd lose Nines, too. He turns his head slightly so he's looking slightly upward at Nines. "How long do androids live for, anyway? You guys don't live fuckin' forever, right?"

Nines' hand doesn't stop moving comfortingly against Gavin's back, his arms around Gavin in their usual post-coital position. "Assuming regular maintenance and replacement of modular components as necessary, and no catastrophic outside events beyond my control, my lifespan is rated at just under 200 years. 198, to be exact. My model's expectancy is an improvement over..."

"You're gonna live two hundred fuckin' years?!" Gavin interrupts. He'd never really thought about it before, but he supposes that -- unlike with humans -- worn-out components could be easily replaced and androids could be fully repaired from most injuries. He'd seen it himself when Nines had been shot or when Connor's arm had been broken.

"You are agitated," Nines says, cautiously.

Gavin breaks out of Nines' arms and moves so he can look at Nines' face. Nines' LED is yellow. "Fuckin' right. You just told me you're gonna live two hundred fuckin' years."

"I don't understand," Nines says, looking legitimately confused, and that just pisses Gavin off more. "Why is that upsetting?"

"My dad was fuckin' 73. I'm fuckin' 48. If I'm lucky, I have like 30 or whatever years left. Maybe 40. Not fuckin' two hundred."

Nines frowns. "I am aware of your age. I am aware of your father's age. I still don't understand how my stated lifespan is relevant."

"'Cause we're fuckin' dating, and if we keep fuckin' dating, one day I'm gonna fuckin' die like my fuckin' dad and then you're gonna to be fuckin' alone for those two hundred or whatever years."

"One hundred fifty six to one hundred sixty six years, based on your statement and my current age," Nines says, seemingly automatically, and the unemotional delivery of the response really sets Gavin off.

"Great! Good to know you've fuckin' done the math on that, J!" Gavin yells, climbing out of bed and pulling on a pair of sweatpants. Even though he doesn't really need to be dressed for any reason, it still feels incorrect to be having an argument while naked.

"Gavin." Nines is sitting up in bed now, his LED an angry red. "Talk to me. I still don't understand why this bothers you. Do you think that we shouldn't be together because you're going to die someday?"

"Maybe I'm upset 'cause this doesn't seem to be fuckin' concerning to you!" Gavin spits, grabbing the nearest shirt and pulling it on and ripping it off again when it turns out to be one of Nines'. The image of his mom wailing at his father's bedside springs into his mind, and he angrily pushes it back out, because he's pretty sure he'd react the same way if that had been Nines. "You never thought to mention to me that I'd be leavin' you alone for one hundred and sixty fuckin' years?! And now you're stating it like you're fuckin' reading the nutrition facts off a fuckin' cereal box or something!"

"Gavin." Nines looks upset now. "I love you..."

"Don't you fuckin' start with that."

"And I don't care that I'm likely to outlive you, significantly. I would not trade my time with you, or my relationship with you, for anything. Even if we only have thirty years, I look forward to that time together, more than anything. I appreciate that you are worried about me, and about leaving me by myself after your death, but there is no reason to believe that I would be unable to find another..."

"Fuckin' great!" Gavin grabs another shirt and throws it on, and it barely occurs to him that this one is actually the right size. "Just gonna move on to a younger guy. Maybe a girl next time. Maybe an android girl or whatever 'cause androids don't have fuckin' genders and you can fuckin' interface and just swap feelings. Fuckin' change it up, huh?!"

"That is not what I'm saying!" Nines protests, standing now and looking a combination of worried and irritated. "You are again initiating conflict for no reason! You are being obstinate, and you are not listening to what I'm saying!"

"No, you're not listening!" Gavin yells. "I clearly mean so little to you that you're just gonna move on after me, huh? That you don't give half a shit about the fact that I'm fuckin' old and humans don't fuckin' have lifespans in the fuckin' hundreds of years?! That you make me so fuckin' happy that I don't know what the fuck I'd do without you but you don't feel the fuckin' same way?!"

Nines looks like he wants to cry now, and doesn't say anything, maybe gathering his thoughts, but the fact that he isn't rebuking Gavin's accusations -- his emotions that he was always so fucking bad at sharing, dammit -- really does it.

"Gavin..." Nines starts again, but Gavin's done with this conversation.

"Get out," he says, slamming the bedroom door fully open even though it hadn't been closed.

"You have to stop kicking me out when you are upset, Gavin," Nines says, pleading now. "Please. Talk to me. I understand that you are still emotional over your father's death, but it is not fair of you to take that out on me. We should be discussi..."

"No!" Gavin's yelling again, slamming the door again for good measure. "We're fuckin' done! Get out!"

"What?" Nines stares at him in disbelief.

Gavin picks up one of Nines' shirts as well as a pair of pants that he hopes are Nines', and throws them in Nines' direction. "You fuckin' heard me! You clearly don't give a fuck about me, so we're fuckin' done! Go find someone else to make you happy for your two hundred fuckin' years!"

Gavin expects Nines to protest or say something else. Instead, he watches as a tear finally falls down Nines' cheek, and Nines grabs the clothes Gavin had chucked, and then...

...and then Nines is gone.

How Long Can I Hang On

Chapter Notes

Takes place after the main events of MITTS

Gavin stomps into the restaurant, and Tina waves at him from their usual booth. He thinks he should be pleased to see her after her week away on vacation with Chase, but instead all he can think about is Nines.

Fuck him.

"Hey," Chase says as Gavin slides into the booth. "How've you been?"

"Fuck off," Gavin mutters, not in the mood for conversation with Chase at the moment.

"Our vacation was great, thanks for asking," Chase replies, undeterred and grinning, and Gavin wants to punch him in the face for it. "I have some photos on my phone that I could show you, but somehow you don't strike me as the vacation-photo-sharing type of guy."

"Where's Nines?" Tina asks, staring at Gavin and with a hint of accusation already in her voice, as if she knows what he had done. "The two of you are arriving separately?"

"He's fuckin' gone," Gavin says bitterly, looking away from her and feeling the pain all over again at the words. He had expected Nines to show back up the next day so they could do their usual apology thing and then fuck the argument away. But Nines hadn't come back, and Nines hadn't been at the station during the week either. He hadn't dared ask Connor or Hank -- who had been openly hostile to him the entire week -- about Nines, and even though Connor had been civil to him as always, there had been a constant undercurrent of resentment in all of their interactions.

Gavin wonders if he'll need to switch precincts.

"What the fuck did you do?!" Tina asks, angry now, and Gavin doesn't like that it seems to be directed at him.

"Great. First you pick your fuckin' boyfriend over me and now you take Nines' side too. Everything's always my fuckin' fault. Fuckin' great friend you are. I'm fuckin' out of here."

He stands, ready to storm out, but he doesn't expect Chase to be the one to object. "Sit down," Chase says, his voice stern in a way Gavin has never heard before from him, and Gavin doesn't dare disobey. "Tina asked you a question."

"We had a fuckin' argument. What's it to you?" he says as he sits back down, refusing to look Chase in the eyes.

"What did you argue about?" Tina asks, her voice level even though she looks ready to kill him.

"He doesn't fuckin' care about me and wants someone younger."

"That is not what he said," Tina says, sharply.

"How the fuck do you know?! You weren't there."

Tina seems to take a deep breath. "Gavin. We are not playing this game today. What the fuck did you argue about?"

"He fuckin' told me he was probably gonna live two hundred years or some shit."


He looks at Tina, in disbelief. "Really?! That's not fuckin' upsetting to you? Fuckin' infuriating?"

"Stop it! Why did you argue about that statement?"

"'Cause he seemed to not give a fuck that I'm almost fuckin' 50 and I'm gonna fuckin' die and leave him by himself! Said he'd fuckin' find someone else after me. I even fuckin' told him I didn't know what I'd fuckin' do without him!"

"You were upset because he said he might be able to move on after you're dead?!"

"No!" Gavin doesn't like the accusation, particularly because of how stupid it sounds when phrased that way. "I was fuckin' upset because he clearly doesn't give two fucks about me. He was ready to move on from me like you fuckin' moved on from fuckin' Phillip."

Chase bites his lip at that, and Tina slaps Gavin across the face. "Fuck no," she says, voice dangerously low and measured. "You don't get to fucking say that to me, Gavin. This is fucking different and you know it."

"Whatever! The point is I fuckin' poured out my feelings to him and he fuckin' threw it back in my fuckin' face."

"And then he left you?"

"And then he fuckin' took his clothes and left."

"Gavin. What exactly did you say?"

"I fuckin' told him I was done with his bullshit."


Gavin struggles to remember. "I told him that we were done, okay? Why the fuck does it matter?"


"And... I told him that he clearly doesn't give a fuck about me. And that he'd better find someone else to make him happy. And then he fuckin' left."

Tina stares at him in silence, seemingly in disbelief. "You're a fucking idiot," she says, finally.

"So you tell me, all the time. What's your fuckin' point?"

"You turned the fact that you care about Nines and worry about how he'll do after you're gone into an argument over him wanting someone new, and then broke up with him because of it?!"

"I did not break up with him!" Gavin protests.

"'We're done'? 'You clearly don't give a fuck about me'? 'You'd better find someone else to make you happy'? Sounds like breaking up to me," Chase says, glaring at Gavin now too, and Gavin really wants to punch him.

"I'm going to have to ask you to leave," the manager says, walking up to their table. "I know you're good customers, and regulars here, but you're causing a commotion, and we can't have that tonight."

Gavin starts to tell him off, but another glare from Tina shuts him up.

"Sorry," Chase says, sliding out of the booth and dropping a twenty on the table. "I hope we're still welcome back next time, when this one is more calm."

Gavin starts to object to being treated like a child, but Tina grabs his arm and drags him out of the booth, down the aisle between tables, and out the front door, where she unceremoniously throws him toward an outer wall of the restaurant.

"The two of you are resolving this right fucking now," she says, pulling out her phone and dialing what Gavin assumes is Nines' number. "Hi, Nines? Don't hang up. Gavin's here, and he told me everything, and he's the world's biggest fucker and owes you a huge fucking apology, and I'm going to make sure you get it. We're at the usual restaurant. You're coming here, right now, and Gavin's gonna pay for the cab for you."

"I'm fuckin' not," Gavin mutters, shutting up again at the look Tina gives him.

She doesn't say anything else on the phone, but nods a couple times before hanging up, and Gavin knows that Nines had agreed to meet them. He hates that the sense of hope he gets from that brings him joy. He hates that Nines has this power over him now.

He hates how happy Nines -- and even the thought of Nines -- makes him feel.

Tina puts her phone away and returns her gaze to Gavin, her anger back. "Okay, listen to me very carefully, Gavin. You are not allowed to screw this up for yourself. I know you love Nines. I know he loves you. I know you're still hurting from your father's death, but you are not allowed to take it out on Nines, who has done nothing but fucking love you. I know you never talk about your feelings, and you say stupid shit all the time instead of what you really mean, and blow him off, and make mountains out of molehills, and somehow manage to get away with all of it because Nines is a fucking saint. But this time, you had fucking better say every one of those little things that you're thinking and feeling, and promise to do better and actually do better, and fucking beg Nines to take you back or, so help me God, I'm going to spend the rest of my life making sure you regret it. Is that fucking understood?"

"Whatever," Gavin says, his apprehension for the upcoming conversation undercut with a strange sense of hope. More than anything, he really doesn't want to lose Nines, and if Tina hadn't been infantilizing him at the moment, he thinks he'd actually really appreciate what she was doing.

"I'll wait in the car," Chase says, kissing Tina quickly before walking off, and Gavin appreciates at least that he's not going to have an audience for whatever Tina's going to make him say or do.

Neither of them speak for what feels like hours until a self-driving taxi rolls up to the restaurant and Nines climbs out. He looks apprehensive, and pained, and his LED is glowing red, and his expression when their eyes meet shows none of the usual joy or relief or affection that Gavin is used to seeing, even after they've fought in the past.

Gavin doesn't like the feeling he gets from it.

He really doesn't like the feeling he gets when he notices that Nines isn't wearing his necklace. Nines had never taken it off before. Gavin's pretty sure it was Nines' most treasured possession -- almost an extension of Gavin himself -- from the way Nines often ran his fingers over it or held it between two fingers when he was feeling particularly distraught or concerned.

Or, at least, had been Nines' most treasured possession.

Gavin imagines, at the moment, it would just serve as another reminder of what Gavin had done.

"You don't have to say anything, Nines," Tina says, smiling gently at him as he walks up to the two of them. Then she turns to Gavin and stares at him, expectantly. "Gavin?"

"I fucked up," Gavin starts, because it seems as good a place as any.

"And?" Tina prompts when he doesn't look like he's going to continue, and he glares at her before looking back at Nines.

"And... I don't know how to fix it."

Nines glances over at Tina, and they seem to exchange an unspoken message that Gavin doesn't understand. "And?" Tina prompts again.

"Fuck. I... I'm fuckin' bad at this, so just listen, okay? I didn't mean to break up with you. I didn't want to break up with you. You're the best fuckin' thing that's ever happened to me, and I care about you more than just about fuckin' anything, okay? But I'm a fuckin' idiot and I... I'm so fuckin' terrified about losin' you like I fuckin' lost my dad and when you were so fuckin' nonchalant about it, it just felt like you were sayin' you didn't feel the same way about me even though that's not at all what you fuckin' said or were tryin' to say or whatever, but I just care about you so fuckin' much and I thought you were throwin' it in my face. And I know it's not fair to you to constantly have to deal with this bullshit from me and I know you'd be fuckin' right to just fuckin' walk away again and never talk to me again but I... I fuckin' need you, Nines. You make me so fuckin' happy and I know I do that for you too. Or at least did that for you. I wanna do that for you again, every fuckin' day of the fuckin' whatever long we have together. So just... I'm fuckin' sorry, okay? I don't what to say other than I'm fuckin' sorry."

Nines doesn't seem to react in any way to his rambling, even though Gavin thinks it's the most honest he's ever been in his life. Nines' LED flickers briefly to yellow before settling back on red, and Gavin feels the tightness in his chest growing as the seconds tick by. Maybe he really had fucked things up beyond repair, this time.

"Tell him you love him," Tina says, breaking the silence.

Gavin glares at her again. "Fuck no."


"He fuckin' knows!"


"Fuck! Fine! I fuckin' love him, okay? I fuckin' love him more than anything and I don't ever want to fuckin' lose him and this week has been complete shit because I thought I'd never see him again and I don't know what to fuckin' do with my fuckin' life without him and just... fuck!"

He looks back at Nines, ready to object again to whatever Tina might tell him to do or say next, but Nines is...

Nines is crying.

"Fuck," Gavin says, softly this time as he immediately deflates. "Nines..."

"I love you too," Nines says, his voice choked. "So much..."

Gavin doesn't think he's ever wanted to comfort someone more, and he reaches for Nines, but Nines jerks backward away from him. Gavin balls up his hands into fists instead, the reaction just another blow to what he hadn't realized was surprisingly thin armor when it came to his feelings for Nines. "I fuckin' know. And I... get away with far too much with you because of it. And I... I'm fuckin' sorry, okay? I'm sorry that I fucked us up and fucked you up and just... everything. I just want you again, and I know I don't fuckin' deserve you, especially after fucking up so badly, but I just..."

"Please don't." Nines seems to be struggling too with the need to touch Gavin, now. "I can't do this right now. Can we just... get food?"

Gavin expects Tina to make a comment about how Gavin had gotten them thrown out of this particular restaurant, but she just nods. "Let me get Chase."

She walks to their car, leaving Gavin alone with Nines, and Nines looks away from him. Gavin's pretty sure this is it. And he thinks he wholly deserves it, at this point, if it is.

But then Nines leans over and kisses his cheek, and smiles at him for half a second. And even though his LED is still red, it feels like hope.

Nines is quiet over dinner -- a different, nearby restaurant that Chase had chosen -- and his LED remains a constant yellow rather than the calming blue that Gavin had gotten so used to but that Gavin thinks is a distinct improvement over red. But Nines reaches over under the table and squeezes Gavin's leg a couple times, maybe out of the same need to touch him that Gavin was definitely feeling as well but trying his hardest to control, and that small bit of contact also feels like hope.

Nines is still subdued as they leave the restaurant and Gavin waves goodbye to Tina and Chase. Nines offers Gavin his hand, and Gavin immediately takes it, hanging on like everything depends on it. "You comin' home with me?" Gavin asks, hoping the answer is a yes.

"I... do not know," Nines says, and it hurts all over again. "I..."

"Hey, it's okay." Gavin wants to do everything he can to make sure Nines knows how much he regrets everything. "You don't have to explain. It's... okay if you need time."

"I just..." Nines doesn't seem to know what to say, and settling on Gavin's particular words as a substitute. "I just... think I need some time. Alone. To process this."

Gavin hates it, and he feels ashamed now of the way he usually kicks Nines out while they're having an argument, because he wants to be alone with his thoughts. He wonders if it makes Nines feel as shitty as he's feeling, now.

"Right," he instead instead of all that, letting go of Nines' hand and stuffing his hands in his pockets instead, using the physical distance to prepare himself for the emotional one that's coming. "Sure. Whatever. I, uh... just hope Connor and Hank are takin' good care of you."

Nines nods, looking like he's struggling with it anyway. His LED flickers briefly to red before returning to yellow. "I... need to know you're not going to do this again, Gavin."

"I can't fuckin' promise that," Gavin says, even though he wants to, because he knows himself, and he knows his temper, and he doesn't want to promise Nines something that he doesn't think he can do just because he's feeling vulnerable at the moment. "I swear I'll try to do better. I'll try to stop that fuckin' part of my brain that picks up on the wrong thing and fuckin' runs with it. But I... I can't promise I won't do something fuckin' stupid like this again."

"Okay," Nines says, gently kissing Gavin's cheek again, and that's something, at least. "Thank you for being honest. I'll... see you at the station on Monday."

"Yeah," Gavin says, even though he doesn't like it, watching as a cab drives up and Nines climbs into it.

He tells himself that this isn't the end.

Gavin somehow manages to resist the urge to call Nines the rest of the weekend, and ignores Tina's texts. He spends the time rage cleaning the apartment instead, gathering up Nines' remaining things -- his clothes, his books, a couple case files that he'd left behind -- and purposely putting them away among Gavin's own things. He wants the excuse to believe that Nines will be coming back, and that their lives together will continue as if nothing had happened.

Even though he knows that, even if Nines comes back, it won't be like nothing had happened.

He goes to his favorite bar Sunday night even though he isn't sure that drinking before work -- and whatever conversation Nines might want to have -- the next day is a great idea, but he feels like he needs the distraction and doesn't know what else to do. He's working on his fourth whiskey when an attractive woman sits down next to him and sets her hand on his arm.

"Hi. I'm Alyssa."

She smiles sultrily at him when he meets her gaze, and he swallows his immediate reaction -- to tell her to fuck off. "I'm Gavin," he says, liking the way her hand feels on his arm.

"It's very nice to meet you, Gavin. Do you want to buy me a drink?"

He wants to. He wants to get drunk and fuck Alyssa because he couldn't possibly fuck up his life more than he has, and he misses sex now because dammit sex with Nines was so fucking good, and Nines wasn't fucking coming back anyway so at least he'd be getting it somewhere.

He stares into her eyes. They're blue -- at least he thinks they are, although the lighting in the bar was always really shitty. They're full of lust and eagerness.

They remind him of Nines' eyes and Nines' LED.

He wants Nines' LED to be blue again.

He wants Nines.

He wants Nines, and no one else.

"No," he says, quickly downing the rest of his whiskey and standing. "I was just leaving."

He walks home from the bar -- he'd gotten so used to Nines driving him home that he hadn't even thought about it, and he doesn't want to deal with a cab on a Sunday night -- past familiar haunts and neighborhoods as the scenery grows increasingly unfamiliar. He's pretty sure he's going the right way, but the alcohol had hit him suddenly, and his mind is having trouble remembering particular street names and turns, even though he'd lived in this area for years.


He turns at the sound of his name. Hank's standing from his seat at an outdoor restaurant -- 'Chicken Feed' or something that Gavin can't quite read because of the intensity of the lighted sign above it -- and looking at him.

"Fuck off," Gavin says, turning and walking away down a different street. He'd definitely made a wrong turn somewhere.

"Hey." Hank's next to him now, and sets a hand on his shoulder. "Are you fucking drunk?"

"Being drunk isn't a fuckin' crime," Gavin spits out, forcibly shrugging off Hank's hand. "But fuckin' assault is."

"O-kay. Easy there. Do you need a ride home?"

"Not from you," Gavin says, walking away even though he knows Hank is following him.

"Yeah, no. You're going the wrong way for your place. My car is just over there. Don't make me cuff you and drag you, Gavin."

Gavin is undeterred. "Then fuckin' arrest me. Make up some fuckin' charge. Breakin' your fuckin' robot son's heart or whatever, right?"

"Fuck you," Hank growls. "You don't get to play the victim here, Gavin." Then Gavin hears a familiar metallic noise, and Hank grabs him, forcing his hands behind his back and snapping the cuffs on his wrists. "Fucking come on. I'm taking you home."

"I'm gonna fuckin' report you," Gavin threatens, even though he knows Hank won't be deterred, and allowing Hank to guide him down a street. "Gonna tell Connor's boss. See if Connor can fuckin' protect you then."

"I'd forgotten how much of a jackass you were," Hank says, seemingly to himself, jerking Gavin roughly around a corner. "You're lucky Nines cares about you so much, and insists you were just having a rough time about your dad, or I'd just leave you by the side of the road by yourself for the rest of the night. At best."

Gavin likes the feeling he gets from the thought that Nines still cares about him. "What're you doin' out here, anyway? Fuckin' late night snack?"

Hank shrugs. "Connor and Nines are talking and I wanted to give them space."

"'Bout me?"

"What the fuck do you think? Yes, about you."

"He's not comin' back." Gavin doesn't mean to say it out loud, and his heart sinks as the thought really sets in. He really had fucked up beyond repair. "Fuck."

"I didn't say that," Hank says, pushing Gavin's front against a car, and fumbling with the handcuffs until they're off. "This is my car. Get in."

"You didn't have to," Gavin says, rubbing his wrists where the cuffs had been and pulling the car door open. "I'm still a fuckin' detective. I can still fuckin' tell what people are thinkin'."

Hank shakes his head. "Look. I'm angry with you, okay? Really fucking angry. I still don't know what the kid sees in you, and if it were up to me, after what you did to him, I'd fucking read you the riot act and never let you anywhere near my family again. But for some fucking reason, the kid still thinks you deserve another chance even though he's still fucking hurting, and wants you back. So no, I didn't say he isn't coming back."

A bunch of different thoughts immediately swirl around in Gavin's head. He settles on the most unsettling one. "You and Connor are fuckin' keeping him from me!"

"Oh, shut up," Hank says, exasperated, as he walks around to the driver's side door. "We're not fucking keeping him from you. He wanted some time away from you after you broke his fucking heart. We're just picking up the fucking pieces."

"Fuckin' family, right?" Gavin says, climbing into the vehicle and slamming the door with more force than necessary.

Hank climbs into the other side and doesn't say anything for a bit as he drives. "You know Nines really cares about you, right?" he says, finally.

"I know," Gavin says. "And I fuckin' care about him too."

Hank shakes his head. "You don't understand. When Nines came in after you two had your fight, he was fucking broken. He wouldn't tell us what was wrong. Connor had to fucking interface with him to get the story out."

"Fuckin' what?" Gavin remembers Nines' comment that the data transferred during interfacing couldn't always be controlled, and he doesn't like the idea that Connor now had a potential reservoir of personal -- and intimate -- memories at his disposal.

"The point is that neither Connor or I ever really realized before what you meant to him. It's only been, what, fifteen months? It was obvious you two were in love, sure, but Nines would fucking die for you, Gavin. A thousand times over, without a moment's hesitation. And until last week, he thought the same of you. How fucking dare you turn that back on him and tell him he doesn't give a shit about you."

It isn't often that Gavin is stunned into silence, and even though he thinks he'd already known everything that Hank is saying, hearing it out loud hits him hard.

"We're here," Hank says, pulling over in front of Gavin's building and putting the car into park. "Let me make it clear, motherfucker. The only reason I'm being even remotely civil to you right now is for Nines' sake, and because I know he'd never forgive me if I did what I really want to do to you right now. If he fucking takes you back -- and I swear to god he shouldn't because he's always been too good for you anyway and you fucking blew your chance at him -- you'd better spend the rest of your miserable fucking life making it up to him. Got it? Now get the fuck out of here."

Gavin does, and as he watches Hank drive off, his mind seizes on Hank's statement that Nines still wanted him back.

Nines would be back.

He had to be.

Gavin gets to work early on Monday, wanting to make sure he didn't miss Nines' walking in no matter what time he might show up. He finds himself glancing up from his computer every few seconds until he gives up any pretense of doing work and just sits in the aisle instead, watching the door that leads to the parking lot.

Tina walks in around her usual time, sees him sitting there, and gives him a cautious wave. He doesn't wave back.

"Everything okay?" she asks as she walks up to him, and he appreciates that she isn't immediately jumping to any conclusions.

"I don't fuckin' know," Gavin says. "We haven't talked. Hank fuckin' cussed me out last night. I'm doin' everything I can but it isn't fuckin' enough."

Tina pats his arm. "I think it's too soon to say that. Let me grab you a coffee. I'll be right back."

He doesn't really want a coffee at the moment, but lets her leave anyway, his gaze returning to the doorway. He's soon rewarded by a set of familiar footsteps, and Connor and Hank walk in, followed by Nines.

Nines meets his gaze, and doesn't look away this time even though his LED is yellow, and Gavin feels more than a little hope at that. Then Nines' hand moves up to his chest, and his fingers brush over something, and Gavin realizes he's wearing the necklace again. Nines' mouth twitches upward, and Gavin knows he's grinning himself now but can't bring himself to care.

He knows everything is going to be okay.

Gavin lets Nines kiss him that afternoon, right in the middle of the station, and it feels like a new beginning. Even though the two of them hadn't been a secret at work for a while now, it was still one of the boldest things they'd done there, and Gavin was more than happy to make the gesture. He doesn't care anymore what others might think. He had Nines back, and that's all he really wanted.

Even though Nines moves back in with him later that week, it takes the two of them a while to get back to normal. Nines seems jumpier than before -- especially after sex once they get to that point again, which doesn't surprise Gavin when he realizes nearly all of their fights had been instigated by him as his mind wandered after sex -- and withdrawn and self-conscious in a way he never had been around Gavin. At least hadn't been since they had started dating.

Gavin sits the two of them down one day and tells Nines -- really tells him -- how he feels, and even though a lot of it is a repeat of his words outside the restaurant a week or so earlier, it feels different this time when it's just the two of them and Tina isn't there to keep him on track and Nines isn't hurting quite so much. He promises to do better, and means it. He tells Nines that Nines should call him out on things when he starts to get too far into his usual bullshit, and they settle on a word -- 'bullet' -- for Nines to pull out if he ever needs to snap Gavin back to reality.

Gavin feels like he's walking on eggshells for a while, both because of his fear that Nines would decide Gavin was still being too much of an ass and leave again, and because he worries now with every conversation that he's going to do or say something wrong again. But as the weeks turn to months, and then another year has passed for the two of them, he realizes that that very fear -- and particularly the fact that he was always afraid Nines would yell 'bullet' at him and remind him again how much he had almost screwed everything up and almost lost Nines forever -- was actually helping him be less antagonistic, and disingenuous, and get a hold of himself before he let the rage take over and once again do or say something he would regret.

They do fight again, a few times, but Gavin catches himself these times around, and pulls himself out of the situations to calm down -- instead of insisting Nines leave -- and re-engages later when he's no longer in the heat of the moment and prone to intentionally misinterpreting everything he doesn't like hearing. He finds himself learning to stop himself before he starts going down that path again. He notices Nines learning to think before he speaks as well, and giving Gavin space to rage without trying to placate him. And as the time passes, their fighting tapers off and turns into heated conversations and then into brief disagreements that resolve without any hurt feelings or even raised voices.

Even though Gavin still wishes every day he could take back what he'd said when he'd almost driven Nines away, he finds himself thinking one day that he was almost glad it had happened, because it had really forced him to learn to better handle altercations, and kept him from taking Nines for granted ever again.

Although he quickly settles back into a comfortable rapport with Connor at the station, Gavin's relationship with Hank is never quite the same after the incident. Connor tries assigning them a case together a few months afterward in his usual meddling, and Hank is civil to Gavin, but it ends with Hank telling Connor in no uncertain terms never to do it again, and Connor concedes the point. Gavin knows that the situation really upsets Nines, and he makes every attempt he can to try and reach out to Hank and smooth things over, but is rebuked each time. He eventually settles for the generic tolerance that Hank is willing to give him, deciding it would have to be good enough.

Tina proposes to Chase -- Gavin can't resist teasing the man about that when he hears the news -- and then they have a wedding where Gavin drinks too much but somehow manages to have a ridiculously good time anyway with Nines, and that starts him thinking about marriage himself. Gavin had never thought he'd be the kind of person to get married, and Nines isn't the kind of person to raise the topic, but Gavin eventually finds himself wondering what the best way to go about it could be. He puts some semblance of a plan into motion one day while the two of them are sitting in a park, throwing a casual remark into conversation that he knows Nines would latch on to, and that attempt ends with the two of them walking out of the courthouse less than two hours later with matching rings on their fingers.

Chase teases him about that one, and their lack of a wedding, but Gavin thinks he almost enjoys the banter, this time around.

David ends up being right about Elsie coming around on Nines -- and androids in general -- and shortly after they welcome a second child, they actually offer to leave the kids with Nines and Gavin for a week as they attempt to plan a trip together. Especially Nines, Elsie says, because she doesn't trust Gavin with her kids, and rightfully so.

Gavin declines on behalf of Nines, of course -- they certainly weren't getting free childcare out of him or his fucking husband -- but he really appreciates the gesture anyway.

As the weeks and months and years tick by, there are still days that Gavin can't believe that this is his life now. That he's in a committed relationship with -- and married to -- an android. But when he's with Nines, and Nines does one of the adorably him things that he does, Gavin's reminded all over again why he chose this man, and chose this for himself.

He's snuggled up against Nines on the couch one day, decades later, his hair long since gray and fallen out, and Nines still looking exactly the same as the day they'd met.

"I love you, J," he says, because dammit, he doesn't say it enough.

Nines just smiles at him. "I know," he says, a smirk on his face, followed by the usual pause that Gavin expects, now, before he continues. "I love you too, Gav."

Chapter End Notes

And... that's it for NaNoWriMo 2022!

This has been one heck of a journey (and it's not over yet, since MITTS still has three chapters to go), so thanks for joining me on it, everyone!

Who'd have thought my urge to write Reed900 fluff would lead to nearly 100k words written (and counting)? :D


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