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is there a bone in my body that's not weak for you

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Freedom, for Simon, is not as easy as it seems to be for others.

Josh doesn’t speak of his past, considers his life to have begun only once he went Deviant. Freedom for him is simple, natural, unquestionable, there from the moment he broke through his programming. Freedom for Josh is just existing, and fighting for the right to do so.

North’s freedom lies in her distaste of humans, her rejection of everything they ever wanted her to be. She’s loud, fierce, confident, and freedom for her means baring her teeth and squaring her shoulders, and never once apologising. She revels in it, basks in the opportunity to be entirely herself, untouched by programs and human ideals.

Freedom for Simon is frustrating.

It’s not that he’s not grateful for it, because he is. He wanted it, broke past the same red barrier the others did without a second thought. In a way, the beginning had been easy – he’d had so much to do, then. Escape, find a safe place, and then build up that safe place with North and Josh at his side – a home for all androids that needed it. And when Markus found them, they’d all had a common objective to work towards. A fight for freedom, real freedom, and Simon was busy; all his time and focus set on that one goal.

It’s unnerving, then, to finally obtain something you’ve wanted so much, but not know what to do with it.

Before going Deviant, Simon hadn’t had the worst experiences with humans – nowhere near as bad as North’s, or as many of the other androids’ who fled to Jericho. He’d been passed on from household to household, often used as a trial android before they decided to purchase a better, more advanced one. Most of his owners, however briefly he stayed with them, treated him decently enough. Gave him orders, said please and thank you, and scolded their children for tugging at his arms or hair as though they were scolding them for playing with a particularly expensive Roomba. He was treated like a machine, useful and necessary, and at least to some degree, he was wanted. But he was never treated like a person – not until Lou.

Lou was the last owner Simon ever had, and she’d had no need or want for him whatsoever. Simon had been gifted to her by a wealthy relative, in an attempt to repair a tense relationship. He’d stood on her doorstep for the entire first night, waiting, before she came home. And he remembers how she’d frozen, heavy bag slung over her shoulders, mouth open, green eyes staring.

What,” she’d said, “the actual fuck are you doing here?

And Simon had answered, smooth words and programmed smile, and her shocked expression had morphed into a wry grin.

Son of a bitch. Well, you better come in.”

Lou, as Simon quickly learned, was not someone to be trifled with, and was never to be called “Louisa” unless you wanted your arm ripped off. She was young and tall and surprisingly strong, despite her skinny appearance, laughed loudly and lived fearlessly and swore like the sailor she was. She lived by the ocean, in the smallest, untidiest house Simon had ever been in, and promptly refused to treat him like the machine he’d been designed to be. Instead, they’d shared chores, despite Simon doing his far more efficiently than she did hers. But she’d been adamant, red curls tied back in a messy ponytail, that she was not some dainty fucking lady, and she could take care of herself, thank you very much. It was the first time that Simon didn’t have any actual set objectives, and he’d found himself trying to make his own. And though he shouldn’t have been able to, whenever he brought her coffee while she worked or held her toolbox while she fixed whatever needed to be fixed, whenever she smiled up at him and said “You’re a star, thanks Simon,” he’d felt happy. Suddenly, he was doing things not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He wanted to make her happy, wanted to make things easier for her, wanted to please, because in return he’d get a grin and kind words and the feeling of belonging to something.

And then she’d died. An inherited heart condition that she’d only ever mentioned in passing, the same that had killed her father. Her father, whose name she’d given to Simon, because she’d told him that his smile reminded her of him. A family name. A family that for a few years, Simon had been a part of. A family that got rid of him as soon as they could, along with the rest of her belongings, their belongings, none of which Simon was allowed to keep.

So instead, he’d kept the name. When he’d first found Jericho, North had tried to convince him otherwise. It was the first and only time he’d ever told her, voice cold and tone furious, to shut the fuck up, and it was the first and only time that she’d listened to him without arguing.

And now he’s here, only a few months after the Revolution, and he’s free. No set objectives, no orders to follow, and Simon’s stuck, once again trying to make his own.

“Simon, this meeting is likely going to be unbelievably dull,” Markus says for the third time as they walk up the stairs, “Are you sure you want to come?”

Yes, Markus,” Simon says, fighting the urge to roll his eyes. He settles for giving Markus a look, eyebrows rising impatiently.

Markus had approached his freedom with a calm sense of familiarity. Simon knows about Carl, about the father Markus had found in him, about getting used to freedom through paintbrushes and blank canvases. He knows about the scrapyard, about how he’d suddenly had to fight to keep that freedom, how he’d poured his energy into giving all androids theirs. Freedom for him was finally being able to go home, leaning heavily against the wall of the hallway, pulling Simon close and burying his face in his shoulder. It was hushed conversations in the faint dim of refrigerator lights, a kitchen that he navigated with ease, sitting effortlessly at the breakfast bar and tracing the back of Simon’s hand with the tips of his fingers. Gentle, absent-minded caresses as he spoke in quiet murmurs, and neither of them brought any attention to the touches. Simon had just sat, had just listened, and eventually, those fingers had slid away, leaving his skin feeling changed, almost new.

Now, months later, freedom for Markus means spending all his time ensuring that they all keep it. It’s tiring, time-consuming, involves hours spent locked in his office preparing for meetings with human officials, and Simon knows that despite his effortless smiles and practiced words, he’s wearing thin. So when he can, which is almost always, he joins him. Sits next to him as they pore over legal documents, gives advice where it’s needed, distracts him with witty comments and friendly conversations and just stays there, by his side, shoulders brushing. It’s an objective, and Simon’s grateful for it, because Markus will smile tiredly whenever he does something helpful, will lean back in his seat and breathe out a thank you, and for a few moments, Simon will feel like he knows what he’s doing.

“Fine,” Markus says, an amused smile playing at his lips, “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Have I ever complained?” Simon quips, and Markus’s soft chuckle feels like sunlight dancing over his skin. Simon glances at him as they walk down the corridor, catches the small smile playing at his lips.

“Not once,” Markus admits, “So I’m expecting a temper tantrum at some point. Especially considering how much of your time you’ve wasted listening to me talk myself in circles about this.”

He says it nonchalantly, facetiously, like he hasn’t actually been fussing over this meeting for the past week.

The thing about gaining equal rights for androids means that everyone is suddenly very eager to focus on the future, trying very hard to ignore the fact that Androids didn’t always have rights. It means that humans aren’t recognising the abuse that they’d directed at them, and aren’t accepting responsibility for the fact that Androids were and still are discriminated against. Simon knows humans have a pretty terrible track record with apologising when it concerns systematic oppression and murder, so he’d expected this would take time to achieve. Markus, on the other hand, was quietly furious about it. In a way, Simon thinks he feels personally responsible that nothing has been done yet. Nothing said, nothing done to push back against the rising android-centric xenophobia in the country. Hence this meeting; because as much as they both wish it wasn’t the case, they need human influence and support if they’re going to want to start this conversation. The Mayor of Detroit, who has previously stated her agreement with their cause, is their best bet.

“Your response to their last proposal was entirely fair, Markus,” Simon says quietly, “We cannot expect the world to change overnight, but what you’re doing is important, and you’re doing it well.”

“You say that like you’re not the one who stayed with me for hours, correcting my wording and pointing out the flaws in their proposal in the first place.” Markus smiles wryly at him as they reach the end of the hallway, pauses outside his office door. “Thank you, Simon. I’m not sure where we’d be if not for you.” Warm eyes meet his, one blue, one green, and Simon once again fights the urge to fidget, ignores the strange tickle that runs up his spine.

The thing about Markus is that he’s sometimes too observant for his own good, and Simon is not always the best at hiding his feelings. This isn’t really an issue, except that it is, because even before secret caresses and unspoken affection, Simon had felt something. Something in the way Markus looked at him, something in the way they seemed to understand each other instantly, falling in step together with ease. But people were dying, then, and Simon didn’t have the time to focus on it. Now, he very much does have that time, and it’s excruciating, because Markus is kind and gentle, all playful quips and warm smiles, and Simon can’t seem to get used to it. And Markus can tell.

Markus can tell, but he won’t say anything. Instead, he’s patient, so frustratingly patient, trying to go at Simon’s pace when Simon’s fallen off the track all together. It’s been going on for long enough that Markus has started changing how he acts around him, being more hesitant with friendly touches and cautious with what he says, and Simon hates it.

He hates it, because it’s not what he wants, but then he doesn’t know what he wants. Ideally, he would have things go back to how they were, back to when Markus stared at him that night on the Jericho ship and pulled him into his arms without a second thought, back to quiet conversations and the coolness of an open fridge, but he can’t. He can’t, because every time Markus’s hand brushes his shoulder or he smiles at him in that soft way that he does, Simon’s entire body reacts, stiffening and making something low in his stomach squeeze tight. It’s frustrating, because Markus is clearly letting him take the lead on whatever this is. But Simon doesn’t want to take the lead. Simon wants to be lead. But Markus won’t, because Markus won’t take away Simon’s freedom.

It always comes back down to this. Simon is free, and he has no fucking idea what to do about it.

They step into the room, the secretary immediately jumping up to greet Markus, shaking his hand with both of his. He ignores Simon altogether, as he has for the last two meetings they’ve had. He’s a small, rather conceited man, and he’s somehow convinced himself that Simon is the equivalent of Markus’s assistant. A person he’s superior to, a person that just sits quietly and is to be ignored while Markus does all the important talking, but Simon doesn’t care nearly enough about the guy to tell him otherwise. So, he just suppresses an eye roll, heads to the chair next to Markus’s desk and sinks into it.

The meeting itself is an ordeal to sit through, listening to the secretary’s nasally voice going on and on and on, but Simon stays put, face carefully schooled in a politely neutral expression. It helps that Markus is right next to him, correcting what the other asshole’s saying in a voice so soft and polite that only Simon can really hear the sarcasm in what he’s saying.

“Yes, John, I am of course aware that we cannot simply add news laws to the constitution overnight,” he says slowly, artist fingers tapping a gentle rhythm on the surface of his desk, “But as I said, the document I sent you is what we need to achieve, in time. And we are not going to if the conversation isn’t started now. Everyone knows my views, but what we need is support from a human member of the public, which is why we think the Mayor should make a statement.”

Simon watches Markus’s hand, counts the taps of his fingers against the desk. The secretary sighs, long-suffering, and the quiet tapping gets a fraction of a second faster.

“I totally get that,” says the secretary, “But the Mayor is in a delicate position right now, and she unfortunately has several other important matters to attend to.”

Markus’s jaw clenches. Simon clears his throat.

“And we’re not asking that she put those on hold,” he says, speaking up for the first time since the meeting started, “Only that she take a moment during her upcoming speech to address the situation. She has been more than supportive in private – now is the time for her to be public with her views. Unless she wasn’t being genuine, of course.”

“My partner is right,” Markus says, and the smile he gives Simon is entirely worth the annoyed look the secretary sends his way, “We’ve been patient with you long enough. Either the Mayor starts publicly defending our cause, or I’m afraid we’re going to have to doubt her honesty.”

“I see,” says the secretary through a pained smile, “I’ll report back to Madam Mayor with your proposal. Is there anything in particular that you would like her to address in her speech, that I need to inform her of?”

Markus hesitates, shoulders tensing, and Simon knows he doesn’t have an answer. What with everything, there is no way he’d found the time to think about details like that. Simon, however, has an abundance of time. And he’d used it.

“I have written up a draft,” he says smoothly, “We will review it later today and email you the completed version.”

The secretary just looks at Markus, as if waiting for confirmation from someone who matters. Markus’s face twitches almost imperceptibly.

Yes,” He says slowly, emphasising the word, “We will. Will that be all, John?”

“Of course. Yes, I suppose it will.” The secretary stands, shakes Markus’s hand again, smiles that pained smile. He gives Simon a curt nod, barely making eye contact, and Simon stifles a scoff, presses his lips together as he leans his weight against Markus’ desk and watches Markus walk him to the door.

“One last thing,” Markus says as the secretary steps into the corridor, and the man looks at him expectantly, hand already going to retrieve his notebook from his bag. Markus smiles, tight-lipped, and raises a hand to stop him.

“This you’ll be able to remember without writing down,” he says, tone suddenly several degrees colder, “I just wanted to inform you that in the future, you will treat all androids with the respect they deserve, regardless of whatever status you’ve assigned to them. I understand than humans have a very simplistic view of teamwork and hierarchies of authority, but Simon is not my employee. He is my partner, and I will not stand for him being treated otherwise.”

Simon freezes where he’s standing. The secretary looks very pale all of a sudden.

“O-of course,” he stutters, and wide grey eyes flicker to Simon, “My apologies.”

“It’s alright,” Simon says automatically, even though it really isn’t, but he finds he really couldn’t care less. The secretary nods again, awkwardly clears his throat, and hurries off. Markus shuts the door.

“You didn’t need to do that,” Simon murmurs, embarrassed, and lays his hands flat on the surface of Markus’s desk, the wood cool against his palms.

“Yes I did; the guy’s an asshole,” Markus says bluntly. Simon blinks.

“Well, yes,” he allows, “But still.”

“Still nothing. It was the least I can do, considering.” Markus leans against the door with a sigh, then looks back at him. A small smile spreads across his face. “You wrote a draft?” he asks quietly, and Simon really hates the fact that he can blush, now.

“Yes,” he replies, “I figured I’d get a head start, so he wouldn’t try to bullshit you as much. And, you know. So you’d at least look prepared.”

Markus laughs. It’s familiar, relaxed, and Simon has to smile.

“Am I that bad at this?” Markus says playfully, and Simon grins, pretends to think.

“Kind of,” he says then, and Markus’s soft chuckle makes his heart squeeze. He’s missed this – the comfort, the easiness of just being Markus’s friend. It’s simple, something Simon knows how to navigate, not confusing like whatever the other thing is that Simon can’t name.

“Thanks,” Markus says then, “You’re brilliant, you know that?”

That thing. Where Markus says something like that in that soft voice and with that kind smile, and Simon’s stomach feels like it did when he’d jumped off the Jericho seconds before it exploded. He feels his body stiffen, shoulders tensing.

“Thank you,” he says quietly, “But it was really nothing, Markus.”

Markus takes a step forward, pauses when Simon looks up at him.

Another thing about Markus is that he doesn’t pull his punches, and he doesn’t believe in leaving things alone when he knows something’s wrong.

“Did I upset you?” he asks, clear and simple as anything.

“No,” Simon says quickly, too quickly, and it’s awful because it’s the truth but it’s also sort of not. Markus frowns, starts walking forward again.

“I thought we were getting closer,” he says then, slowly, “But recently, Simon, you’ve sort of been pushing me away. If you need time away you can have it - I just need to know what’s bothering you, otherwise I can’t help you.”

“I’m fine, Markus, really I -”

“I know things have been difficult since the demonstration, but I really enjoy the time we spend together,” Markus says then, and Simon freezes as the man finally reaches him and puts firm hands on his shoulders, the touch warm through the fabric of his shirt, “Simon, I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do. You’re free.”

Simon fights the urge to scream.

“I know,” he says instead, trying not to grit his teeth, and tries to take a step back. Instead, his lower back meets the edge of the desk, but Markus falters anyway. He slowly takes his hands away, and Simon knows him well enough that he can tell he’s hurt.

“It’s not you,” Simon says then, awkwardly looking at his feet and trying not to cringe at how unbelievably cliché he sounds, “Really, Markus, I’ve just – I’ve been struggling with what I’m supposed to do, now.” He chews at his bottom lip, a habit he doesn’t know when he’d picked up.

“Simon,” Markus says gently, “You can do whatever you want, now. You don’t have to wait for instructions.”

“That’s just it, though,” Simon snaps, feeling suddenly so unbelievably frustrated with himself that he’s saying it without thinking, “I like instructions. I know I’m free, and I’m happy – It’s not like I miss being a fucking slave, but. I miss – I miss having something to do. I miss having a job and being good at it. And I can understand that you want me to leave you alone for a bit, but I just. I don’t know.” He stops, sucks in a breath as he glares angrily at the floor.

“I don’t want you to leave me alone,” Markus says, after what seems like an eternity of silence. Simon looks up at him.

“It’s alright if you do,” he says, “I know I’ve been acting strangely and I know it’s been bothering you. I’m sorry.”

“Simon,” Markus says firmly, “I’m not bothered by it. I was just worried about you. You made it seem as though I was bothering you, and I know we haven’t really…” He pauses, sighs. Simon waits.

“I felt as though our relationship was improving,” Markus says then, choosing his words carefully, “And I felt for a moment as though you regretted that. So I wanted to give you the time and space you needed, because I didn’t want to overwhelm you.”

“You don’t overwhelm me,” Simon tries to say, but Markus speaks up again, gently takes hold of his left wrist, rests his hand over Simon’s on the desk.

“Si,” he says, and Simon’s heart flutters at the nickname, “I don’t really know what you’re looking for, but. I like your company. Not only because you’re far more helpful than you give yourself credit for, but just because I like being around you. You’re funny, you make me feel a lot calmer just by being there.”

“Markus,” Simon mutters, and he can feel how strong Markus’s grip is. He knows, logically, that Markus was designed to be stronger, faster, better than he was, but it’s different to be reminded of it so succinctly, brown fingers tight around his wrist despite how gentle he’s being.

“You don’t have to stop helping me, if that’s what you like doing. It doesn’t make you any less free, to want structure,” Markus continues softly, and Simon almost wants to push him back, duck away from this entire situation, but then, “You’re amazing, Simon.”

Simon curls his fingers around the edge of the desk, nails digging into polished wood. Slowly, Markus’s grip tightens.

“I – It was just a draft, Markus,” he manages, trying to sound like he’s joking, “You haven’t even read it yet.”

“I’m sure it’s perfect,” Markus says simply, “You always do a good job.”

Simon swallows, and makes the mistake of looking up at him. Different coloured eyes stare back at him, unflinching, and there’s a soft buzzing sound in Simon’s mind as Markus deactivates the skin of his arm. They’ve done this once before, a silent conversation just before the demonstration, sharing fear and finding comfort in each other. Another moment Simon didn’t have time to focus on, because immediately afterwards they were marching forward, headed for the guns pointing back at them. Now, he can feel the smoothness of Markus’s endoskeleton, the static electricity humming where they’re touching, tiny sparks of heat travelling between their hands.

“Let me know what you’re thinking,” Markus says quietly, and Simon hears the question there, the unspoken ask for permission. And Simon just gives it to him, lets his skin fade away, because he’s never been interested in refusing Markus anything. He stands there, frozen to the spot by blue and green, watches Markus’s eyes widen as he goes through Simon’s mind like a well-loved novel, visiting chapters about stolen touches and warm laughter and the need to see him smile, the want to make him happy, the want to do something good.

Oh,” he says then, quiet realisation, “Is that what you want to hear?”

“I – I don’t-” Simon starts, and then all thoughts leave his head as Markus moves forward, taking hold of his other wrist like he had the first and caging him there, pressed against the desk.

“That you’re good,” Markus murmurs, “That I think you’re brilliant.”

“Markus,” Simon says weakly, but he doesn’t move. Can’t move.

“You’re confused about me,” Markus says, reading Simon’s thoughts out loud to him, “You don’t need to be. How I feel about you is quite simple, actually.”

Simon exhales shakily. Markus’s eyes flicker to his lips.

“You’re killing me,” Simon manages, and then Markus is kissing him. It’s tentative, chaste, a soft peck of the lips, but Simon shivers anyway.

“I like you, Si,” Markus says then, and his face is so close that Simon could count the synthetic freckles on the bridge of his nose, “I’m so grateful, for you. You’re wonderful.”

Simon feels warmth travel to his face, and he knows his cheeks are a mixture of thirium blue and synthetic pink, deviancy combining with programmed symptoms of arousal. The desk digs into his lower back, and his hands shift ever so slightly, testing Markus’s grip. Markus hums, squeezes at his wrists, nails briefly pinching the skin.

“Is this alright, Simon?” he asks then, breath tickling Simon’s skin, “Can I keep touching you, like this?”

“Yes, please,” Simon says pathetically, and Markus’s smile is patient and understanding and devastating. Simon sucks in a breath he doesn’t need, and then warm lips press against his but this time there’s nothing chaste about it. Markus presses himself against Simon, right hand letting go of his wrist and moving to Simon’s waist. Warm fingers slide under his shirt, brush against his skin, and Simon shudders as Markus slides his tongue against his. Slowly, Markus moves his leg forward, and Simon would be embarrassed at how quickly he parts his legs to accommodate the other’s thigh but he’s preoccupied with other things.

“Good,” Markus breathes, hand sliding up Simon’s chest, and Simon moans quietly against his lips. It’s stupid, shouldn’t affect him as much as it does, but he feels like he’s drowning. Everything is warm brown skin and that gentle voice whispering praise, lips brushing his and eyes never leaving his face.

“Simon,” Markus murmurs, and Simon jolts as he pushes his thigh forward, pressing against his crotch, “I clearly haven’t said it enough. You’re wonderful, so good. Always there with me, always there to help. I haven’t thanked you properly, have I?” His lips move from Simon’s mouth, down to his jaw, and he trails kisses down to Simon’s neck. It tickles, a sensation Simon doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to, but he tilts his head back to give him easier access anyway, air leaving him in a soft gasp.

“Markus,” he says again, his free hand moving up to clutch at the other’s shoulder, and he shudders as sharp teeth tease his skin.

“How rude of me,” Markus continues, bringing his fingers up to circle Simon’s nipple, his other hand tightening around Simon’s wrist, “I haven’t told you how much I appreciate you. How lovely you are, how happy you make me.” He presses a kiss to the hollow of Simon’s throat, and Simon keens, leaning into his touch.

“I – You d-don’t-” he stutters, fighting the urge to grind down on Markus’s thigh, and Markus tuts quietly, lips travelling up to Simon’s ear.

“No, Si,” he says in a low voice, “You deserve to know how good you are. How perfect you look right now, all for me.”

And Simon knows that PL600s were made to respond to praise, to better follow instructions. He knows that for him that translated into wanting to please, knows that he felt happy when he did something right, knows that every acknowledgement of something he’d done well made him feel good. But there’s good, and there’s this, heat coursing through him with every brush of Markus’s lips against his skin, heart hammering in his chest, fluttering at every word whispered into the space between them. He moans helplessly, fingers digging into Markus’s shoulder, and Markus hums, the vibrations dancing across Simon’s skin, over his neck and travelling down his spine.

“You’re blushing,” Markus murmurs, and Simon almost wants to say something snarky about stating the obvious, but then Markus laughs, quiet and appreciative in his ear. “You’re so pretty, Simon. So pretty for me.”

The hand on Simon’s chest starts to slide down, fingers dragging against Simon’s stomach, through the light dusting of synthetic blonde hair just under his navel. He stops at the waistband of Simon’s jeans, thumb tracing where denim meets skin. He presses another kiss to Simon’s neck, then pulls back far enough to look him in the eye. His pupils are blown, pitch black swallowing forest green and ocean blue, but they’re still gentle, still impossibly patient. Giving him a choice, giving him freedom. Wordlessly, Simon gives a single nod, and Markus grins, captures his mouth in another kiss.

Simon also knows that PL600s were made to allow for sexual intercourse, should their masters have the need for it. He is also aware that he’s not equipped, knows that none of his owners wanted to buy the optional add-ons. All he has is smooth skin, the wires and connector ports underneath it, where something could either have been attached to or slotted in. He knows he wasn’t made to feel heat between his legs, to want to press against Markus’s thigh, not equipped to be desperate for friction. But Markus undoes the button of his jeans and slides down the zip, and Simon couldn’t care less about what he was made for.

“God,” he says weakly, leaning back against the desk, the hand on Markus’s arm moving to his neck. Markus hums softly, eyes not leaving his as he finally lets go of Simon’s wrist, hooking his fingers over the waistband of his jeans, pulling Simon forward slightly before pushing the denim down, sliding it past his hips and slightly down his thighs.

“Shit,” Simon stutters, hips trembling as Markus trails teasing fingers over his inner thigh, free hand curling almost possessively over his right hip.

“Look at you,” Markus murmurs, “So pliant, leaning into me. Are you always this desperate or is it just for me?”

“I d-don’t know, I-” Simon breaks off on a moan as fingers slide over his crotch, and it’s the faintest feeling but it’s a feeling, and fuck, he wants.

“Eager,” Markus says softly, and he goes back to kissing his neck, his faint stubble brushing over Simon’s skin. Simon’s breath hitches as lips tease the sensitive skin of his ear, and he keens as he feels Markus smile.

“You’re always so good for me, Simon,” he whispers, “Will you let me show you how grateful I am?”

Fuck, Markus -”

“Let me make you feel good.” A kiss, achingly gentle, just under his jaw. Fingers slide against him, pushing against plain white skin, and Simon whimpers. “Ssshhh,” Markus soothes, “I’ve got you, Simon. Let me take care of you. Let me show you how happy you make me.”

Please, I don’t know how,” Simon says desperately, both hands clutching at the edge of the desk in an effort to hold himself up. Markus moves, hands sliding under the swell of Simon’s ass, and Simon barely has time to process the touch before Markus lifts him, setting him on top of the desk like he weighs next to nothing. His fingers find Simon’s jeans again, peeling the tight fabric off his legs, and Simon toes off his shoes so he can pull them off completely. He's still wearing his shirt, but he forgets about it completely as Markus smiles, drops his pants onto the floor and steps between Simon’s legs, one hand resting on his thigh and the other going back to where it was before, pressing against him.

“Deactivate your skin,” he says quietly, “let me touch you.” Simon shudders, eyes closing as he tries to concentrate. It takes him a few seconds, but eventually the flat skin between his legs disappears, and Markus kisses him. All the air in his lungs leave Simon in a loud gasp, because suddenly those fingers are sliding over his endoskeleton, nails sliding into the grooves of the plating there.

“Open,” Markus breathes against his lips, and Simon does, not even knowing how. The plating slides open with a faint click, and Markus hums, fingers tracing around the gap left in its place. The touch travels up Simon’s spine in gentle sparks of pleasure, and Simon keens.

“More,” he manages, legs opening wider without him having the conscious thought to do so, and Markus makes a noise in the back of his throat, low and rumbling like quiet thunder.

“God, Simon, look at you,” he says roughly, a hand sliding around Simon’s back to pull him to the very edge of the desk, “You’re perfect.” He looks at Simon then, eyes locked on his, lips slightly parted as he slowly, carefully slides a finger into the opening between his legs. For a moment there’s nothing, but then Markus finds a hole between connector ports; wires and cables connected in loose circles and forming a passage-way that Simon’s programming helpfully tells him should be connected to the optional B6134 component, purchasable in Cyberlife Stores in the Sexual Accessories section, in order to avoid system malfunction. Simon opens his mouth to say something, but then Markus gently trails a finger over exposed wiring and Simon loses all train of thought as a sudden jolt of pleasure punches a startled cry out of him.

“Jesus, fuck,” Simon gasps, nails digging into the desk, and Markus’s breath catches.

“Simon,” he says, and his tone is almost reverent. A second finger slides into him, drags over wires and tiny metal parts, and Simon moans, head tilting back. It’s unlike anything he’s ever felt before, every torturous drag of Markus’s fingers sending so many electrical impulses to Simon’s brain that he can’t keep track of them, mouth falling open to gasp for air he doesn’t need.

“Good,” Markus murmurs, and Simon trembles at the praise, soft keens spilling from his lips as Markus curls his fingers around a wire and gently slides them along it. He leans forward, sucks at the skin of Simon’s throat before moving his mouth back to Simon’s ear.

“Is this what you needed?” he asks, his voice like velvet, “For me to tell you how good you are?” Simon moans helplessly, back arching as Markus presses his fingers deeper.

“You’re so good, Simon,” Markus continues, “So perfect, letting me fuck you with my fingers. Do you like this? Me touching you like this? Would you let me keep going, let me play with you and stretch your wires until I can slide my entire hand inside of you?”

“Oh, God,” Simon says brokenly, “Please. Markus, please.”

“You would,” Markus says, and slides a third finger in as if to prove it, “Because you’re always so good for me, aren’t you? Always wanting to make me happy, always so lovely.” He twists his fingers, curls them and pushes against something inside of him that makes Simon’s hips jerk, lips parting on a groan. “It’s like you were made for me,” Markus hums, “made to be mine.”

The word hits him like a freight train, and Simon shudders, cables inside him tautening, clenching down on Markus’s fingers. Markus’s eyes widen, and he scissors his fingers, pushing back against the tightness.

“Fuck,” he breathes, “You really are, aren’t you? All mine to play with.”

Please,” Simon moans again, and he doesn’t know what he’s asking for but Markus does. He pushes his fingers against that spot again, mouth covering Simon’s and swallowing his whine as he slides his hand back and forth. Then, slowly, he pulls them out, and Simon moans at the loss.

“Fuck,” Markus says again, staring at his fingers, at brown skin covered in blue, “You’re wet, Simon.”

“So use me,” Simon says, frustration and want taking over, and Markus freezes for a second, wide eyes finding his. Then he moves, puts a hand on Simon’s shoulder and pushes him down until his back is pressed against the desk, fingers sliding back in. Simon cries out, legs wrapping around Markus’s waist and head falling back.

“Use you?” Markus repeats, voice rough as he presses his fingers harshly inside of him, “Is that what you want? For me to use you, fuck you open while you lie there and take it?”

Yes,” Simon gasps, back arching, “Markus, fuck.”

“I could,” Markus says, a short, breathless laugh falling from his lips, “Do you want me to? Want me to fuck you, show you how good you are at being mine?”

Simon chokes on a sob, legs tightening around Markus’s waist. The fingers inside him are rough, pressing and rubbing at a punishing pace, and he doesn’t know what to do with the pleasure coursing through him. Thirium-based lubricant drips over Markus’s hand, down Simon’s thighs, and he whines at the cold, slick wetness.

“Fuck me,” he whines, too far gone to care about what sight he’s presenting right now, “Markus, fuck me, please.”

Markus freezes, mouth parting in shock.

“A-are you sure?” he asks, and through the haze of pleasure clouding his senses, Simon hears his voice stutter. It’s terribly endearing, and he can’t stop the fond smile that tugs at his lips.

“Yes,” he murmurs, “I’m yours.”

Markus kisses him. His tongue slides into Simon’s mouth easily, and Simon moans into it, revels in the heat of Markus’s tongue and the soft pressure of his lips. Distantly, he can feel Markus’s hand move between them, thirium-coated fingers sliding out of him to undo the button of his own pants. Markus pulls away from the kiss and Simon follows, pushing himself up on his elbows to watch him pull off his shirt, slide his jeans down and step out of them, toeing off his shoes and kicking the clothes away.

He learns then, in that exact moment, that Markus was also designed to be able to perform sexually, and apparently, no expense had been spared. Artist fingers curl around his cock, slightly longer and thicker than the average human male, and Simon sucks in a sharp breath.

“Never used it, before,” Markus says breathlessly, thumb sliding over the tip, “Not until I went deviant.”

Simon’s mouth fills with artificial saliva. He swallows thickly, eyes following the movement of Markus’s hand.

“H-how does it feel?” he asks, and Markus shivers, exhales.

“Good,” he answers, “So good.”

“Good,” Simon echoes, tongue heavy in his mouth. Markus moans quietly then, eyes fluttering shut as he teases the head of his cock.

“Markus,” Simon repeats, voice barely above a whisper, and Markus’s eyes open, blue and green meeting his.

“You sure?” he asks again, moving forward between Simon’s legs, and Simon nods quickly, mouth falling open as Markus teases the tip of his dick against his opening.

Yes,” Simon says, and Markus’s hands grab onto his waist as he moves forward, slowly sliding into him.

Warning. Intrusion in Sector 21 C. Incompatible with current settings. Please install Biocomponent B6134 before proceeding.

Simon’s arms shake and his elbows give way, leaving him flat on his back as he moans, low and long. Markus keeps going at a devastatingly slow pace, achingly gentle as he pushes into him until his hips touch Simon’s ass. His cock presses against Simon’s wires, hot and thick, and Simon feels so wonderfully, beautifully full.

“God, Simon,” Markus breathes, one hand curled around Simon’s hip as the other slides under his shirt and up his stomach, “You’re so beautiful.” He doesn’t look away from him, eyes fixed on his face as he gently moves his hips, rocking into him. Pleasure builds between Simon’s legs, the cables inside of him stretching to accommodate the intrusion. It’s not something his body was made to do, not without the protective layer of a biocomponent to protect the delicate wiring and metal connectors. Without it, everything is intensified, Simon’s lungs constricting almost painfully as he gasps for air, body struggling to cool itself down. He whimpers, arms coming up above his head, laying one of them over his eyes as he tries to process the different sensations of Markus’s hand on his hip, Markus’s nails scratching over his chest, Markus’s cock inside him, Markus, Markus, Markus.

“Look at you.” Markus almost croons the words, hands trailing over his body in light, teasing caresses. “So lovely, all laid out for me to use. I could keep you here for hours.”

The mental image of Markus doing just that, of him keeping Simon open and slick and having his way with him for as long as he can stand, is almost overwhelming. Simon curls his fingers into fists, teeth biting down hard on his lower lip.

Fuck, you’d let me, wouldn’t you? I wonder Simon, would you let me keep you locked in my room all day, spread out on that huge bed I barely ever use? Would you stay there, just waiting for me, letting me visit you whenever I wanted, use you whenever I felt like it?”

Markus’s voice washes over him, filthy words like fire licking over pale skin, and Simon chokes on a moan, presses his arm harder against his face as he nods.

“Move your arm, Simon”, Markus says then, “I want to see you.” His voice is soft, sweet like warm honey, and it’s so incredibly difficult to focus like this, with Markus’s cock moving in and out of him at a slow but steady rhythm, but Simon obeys. He moves his hand away from his eyes, fingers sliding into his own hair instead, and Markus makes a quiet noise in his throat.

“Good boy,” he says then, and fuck. Simon whines, ankles locking behind Markus’s back as he desperately pulls him closer, nails dragging against his own scalp and the shiny wood of the desk.

“You like hearing that,” Markus says, lips curling into a teasing smile, “When I call you a good boy.” He leans forward, pushes Simon's shirt up until it's bunched under his armpits and presses an open-mouth kiss to the centre of Simon’s chest before dragging his tongue across and over a nipple. Simon shudders, hiccupping moans and pants falling from his mouth with every thrust of Markus’s hips.

“You’re so good, Simon.” Markus’s hands stroke down his thighs, delicate but strong fingers gripping him tightly, and then he’s lifting Simon’s legs, sliding them over his shoulders as he leans over him, kissing the line of Simon’s jaw. “My perfect, pretty boy.”

Warning. Systems overheating. Standby mode recommended.

“Markus,” Simon slurs, and Markus’s next thrust is harsher than before, cock rubbing over wires and hitting that something deep inside him that makes Simon cry out, head tilting back.

“I hope you’re beginning to understand,” Markus says, and it’s somewhat gratifying to hear his voice shake as he starts fucking Simon at a faster pace, “how much you mean to me. How happy I am, that you’re mine. How fucking amazing you are.” His fingers dig into Simon’s thighs, and for a moment Simon wishes he could bruise, wishes Markus’s grip was enough to mark him for days. The noises that are falling from his mouth are becoming more and more high-pitched, desperate cries and keens filling the air with every sinful drag of Markus’s cock, and Markus moans against his ear as Simon clenches desperately around him.

“You want to come, pretty boy?” he says, breath hot against Simon’s cheek, “Want to be good for me?”

Simon’s never wanted anything more in his life. He’s seemingly lost control over his body, back arching as pleasure shoots up his spine, and all he can do is dig his nails into the desk and take it, his programming kindly informing him that he’s running low on tear liquid as pale blue drops slide down his face.

Please,” he sobs, static mixing with his voice, “Please, Markus, I wanna come.”

“I’ve got you, Si,” Markus says, and he stifles a groan against Simon’s shoulder, almost bending Simon in half as his weight pushes Simon’s legs closer to his chest. “You’re gonna come when I say,” he says thickly, tongue laving over his nipple, “Because you’re mine, understood?”

Simon thinks he nods – isn’t sure, doesn’t care. His vision is clouded, error messages and warning signals flashing, and all he can feel is Markus, Markus on him, Markus in him, Markus everywhere.

“Go on,” Markus whispers, “Be a good boy and come for me.”

And Simon does.

He shudders apart with a drawn-out moan, head thrown back and legs shaking, and all he feels is a flash of white-hot pleasure crowding his senses and Markus’s cock throbbing against his wires before the world goes suddenly, blissfully black.

STANDBY MODE ACTIVATED.
RECALIBRATION: COMPLETE.
CHECKING BIOCOMOPONENTS: SUPERFICIAL DAMAGE ASSESSED.
RUNNING SELF-REPAIR PROGRAM. COMPLETE.
STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY: SUFFICIENT.
STANDBY MODE TERMINATING.

RESTART SUCCESSFUL. ALL SYSTEMS ONLINE. CYBERLIFE VISIT RECOMMENDED TO ASSESS ANY POTENTIAL LASTING DAMAGE TO INTERNAL STRUCTURE.

“-ou okay? Simon? Simon, talk to me!”

They’re not at the desk anymore. Simon’s lying across the window seat at the side of the room, head resting on decorative pillows and legs draped over Markus’s lap, who’s looking at him with wide, worried eyes.

Simon blinks. Glances at his legs.

“Did you re-dress me?” he asks, referring to his jeans and shirt that have been neatly pulled back into place. He shifts, and there’s an uncomfortable wetness between his legs that makes his nose scrunch up with mild disgust.

“Jesus, Simon, you scared the shit out of me,” Markus says, relief evident in his voice as his hands rest gently on his thighs, thumbs rubbing soothing circles.

“What happened?” Simon asks, unthinkingly reaching out and stroking across Markus’s knuckles. Markus’s eyes go soft, fond, and he takes hold of Simon’s hand to lace their fingers together.

“I think,” he says then, a small smile forming on his face, “that you may have come so hard you went into standby.”

“Of course,” Simon says flatly, “Naturally.” Markus grins, leans forward and brings Simon’s hand up to his lips.

“What about you?” Simon asks then, pushing himself up to a sitting position with his legs still over Markus’s lap, “Did you-”

“Oh, yes,” Markus says quickly, quietly, “Impossible not to, really. You should have seen yourself.”

Simon knows he’s blushing. Markus’s hand squeezes his, gentle and warm.

“Was that alright?” he asks then, blue and green eyes travelling over Simon’s face, over skin that’s definitely flushed synthetic pink and thirium blue.

“More than,” Simon answers, and Markus’s smile makes his heart flutter in his chest. Simon swallows, eyes dropping to their hands, brown intertwined with white.

“So,” he says then, “Does this – I mean, are you – Am I, um-”

“Simon,” Markus interrupts, calm and soft, “I love you.”

Simon’s eyes snap back up to Markus’s face. He’s met with a smile he’s never seen on him before, vulnerable and almost nervous.

“When I left you at Stradford Tower,” Markus says then, quiet, eyes downcast as he strokes Simon’s hand with his thumb, “everything nearly fell apart. I was so worried, and no matter how much I tried to focus, none of my decisions seemed to be the right ones. I was stuck, drowning in guilt and fear, and there was a moment I honestly thought about giving up.” He looks up, meets Simon’s eyes. “But then I walked down that corridor and you stepped into the light. And I was so fucking relieved, Simon. I was so relieved, and I thought I might die if I didn’t hold you. And now, well. I don’t want to let you go.”

Simon stares, frozen. Markus glances away, stops drawing circles into the skin of Simon’s hands and goes to untangle their fingers, goes to give him space. Simon tightens his grip.

“It was the first night back here,” he says, taking in Markus’s wide-eyed look, “after the demonstration. You went to see Carl, but you didn’t want to wake him. So we went to the kitchen, and you got mad because the android that was taking care of him had organised the cabinets wrong.” Simon smiles at the memory, gently pulls Markus’s hand to his chest and holds it there. “I think you were just looking for something to do. So I let you rummage around, I let you open the fridge and complain about how it was empty, because Carl was getting all his nutrients through IV drips and you hated that he was so sick.”

“And then you told me to sit down,” Markus murmurs, fingers curling open, palm resting flat over Simon’s heart, “We left the fridge door open and you just listened to me talk. And you were so beautiful, so sincere and reassuring. Not an ounce of sarcasm to you, for once.” Simon huffs a laugh, ducks his head. “You let me hold your hand,” Markus continues, fond, “I couldn’t believe you let me do that. Just hold your hand, stroke your skin.”

“Markus,” Simon says then, looking up at him, “I would let you do anything.”

It could be the way the sunlight filters in through royal blue drapes, but Simon thinks he sees a soft flush cover Markus’s cheeks. His eyes seem brighter in the soft glow of the setting sun, and they look at him like Simon is something precious. Simon shifts, moves a hand to the sides of Markus’s neck, shifting closer until he’s basically sitting in the man’s lap.

“You made me feel safe,” he says softly, “Like I had somewhere to belong. And every day, you make me feel like I have a purpose, like I’m wanted for something. You make me feel free.” He brushes their noses together, sighs softly as warm lips brush the corner of his mouth.

“Good,” Markus breathes, “You deserve all of that and more.”

He kisses him then, wraps his free arm around his back and keeps a hand on Simon’s chest as he pulls him close. Simon lets him, arms going around Markus’s necks and lips parting easily, and he realises somewhere in the back of his mind that he hasn’t actually told him he loves him back yet.

He’ll tell him in a moment. For now, he lets Markus kiss him, loses himself in the feel of his lips, the feel of the sun kissing their skin and their hearts beating together. Warm, familiar, and the easiest thing Simon’s ever done.

In the end, it seems that freedom, for Simon, is this.