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Gavin likes to think he's quite confident in his looks.

Sure, his hair could be a bit tidier, more easy to style. His stubble could do with some work, whether it be shaved off or allowed to grow out. His nose could be a little straighter and not have that fucking scar across the front of it. His eyes could be a little brighter and not so dull and grey. Maybe he could afford to lose a couple of pounds as well, but otherwise—

Well, he likes to pretend he's confident, anyway.

Truth is, you probably couldn't find a more insecure person.

No one's ever going to know that, though, and he'll make goddamned sure of it. As far as everyone else is concerned, Gavin Reed thinks he can probably make it as a model, maybe even a porn star. They'll never know how many times Gavin's broken down in front of a mirror, hating the face that stares back at him, pulling at his hair and skin as if he could tear away this face for a new one. How many times Gavin's held his own service gun to his temple with every intention of blowing a hole in his head, hoping a new, better life waited for him on the other side.

They'll never know, and it'll stay that way.

Besides, who in their right mind would believe it anyway? Gavin struts around the station like he owns the place, not taking shit from anybody — not even the Captain. No one would ever think it was all just a facade; layers of false bravado to cover up the broken man that cowered beneath. The idea of it is, even to Gavin, barking mad.

So, the first time that it happens, Gavin holds his head high as he walks into the office, like he would any other day, striding through with a sway in his walk that embodies arrogance and pride. He ignores all the looks he receives on his way in and fights the temptation to lower his head or cover his face with the oversized jacket he currently sports. The entirety of this morning had already been spent walking himself through this scenario, and he'd already planned everything down to the smallest detail. What excuses to give when someone asked him about it and what noise or hand gesture to make when they tried to pry for more information.

It will be fine.

But, even as Gavin walks through the security gate with all the confidence in the world, he still worries.

“Gavin?” A voice calls from somewhere in the room, and he turns his head to spot Officer Chen heading towards him with a concerned expression already planted on her face.

Well, fuck. He thought he'd at least make it to his desk before the first questions came, or have been able to get himself a coffee first. His morning cravings are already in full effect.

“Fucking hell, man. What the fuck happened to your face?” Tina asks, with all the eloquence she usually possesses. Not that Gavin really minds, it’s good to have someone in the office who is just as temperamental and foul-mouthed as he is. Well, maybe Lieutenant Anderson could hold that privilege, but he isn’t as close to him as Tina is. She is probably the only other person in the office who can stand to be around him half the time.

Gavin shrugs careless shoulders in response to her question, acting like he doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about.

Acting like there isn’t a swollen, black bruise around his left eye, glaringly obvious for the entire bullpen to see. Acting like he hadn't spent hours this morning trying to find some way to cover it up, and going over a million different excuses in his head for how he could have got it.

“Fight at the bar last night,” is the excuse Gavin had eventually settled with, and the one that seemed most plausible considering how much time he spent in bars, “just some drunk geezer lookin' for trouble.”

“Bloody hell,” she exclaims, following alongside him as he begins to walk to the coffee machine on automatic, “did you knick him for it?”

“Like fuck did I. I was off duty, Chen.”

“You're still the police, Gavin. You could have had him for assault.” She pauses, to arch a knowing brow at him. “Unless you fought back?”

Gavin stares down at the cup currently slotted into the machine; eyes glossed over as he remembers the punches he'd endured last night, and how he'd trembled in the corner like a child. “Yeah, course I did.” He shoots a smirk back at her, false pride in his expression. “You think this is bad? You shoulda seen the state of the other guy when I was done with him.”

“You're an idiot, Reed. You'll get your badge taken off you one of these days.” Chen warns, shaking her head at him with either fondness or annoyance — Gavin can hardly ever tell the difference. 

“Yeah, yeah, go bother someone else. It's too early for your crap.”

“Fuck you.”

“And you.” He says back with the widest, shittiest grin he can muster, turning his attention back to his coffee as she wanders back to her desk. He plucks the cup from out of the machine and the smell of fresh joe is enough to make him moan; nothing beats this first cup of the day, especially after such a crappy night — and morning for that matter.

Actually, come to think of it, his whole life is pretty crappy. Not that he’s complaining.

He has a roof over his head and food on the table, and that’s more than some people’ve got. He supposes he should be grateful really — but gratitude and courtesy aren’t things he keeps at the top of his priority list. Though, he is extremely fucking grateful for this cup of caffeine in his hands.

Like every morning, he takes his coffee to his desk, gets himself comfortable and pulls up his terminal to see what cases he’s been assigned — hoping to God something interesting will crop up to take his mind off of everything. And like every morning, exactly two minutes after he's sat down, the four words he simultaneously loves and dreads to hear are being spoken to him.

“Good morning, Detective Reed.” A voice greets from behind his shoulder, a looming presence that makes Gavin feel ridiculously small in his chair. It used to scare the shit out of him, being snuck up on like that every morning, but after nearly two months of it, he’s gradually starting to acclimate.

“Mornin', dipshit.” He murmurs back with as much disinterest as he can muster, not even bothering to turn his chair or his head. He already knows who it is anyway.

Long legs stride past him to get to the desk opposite of his own, his partner taking his usual seat and smiling up at him with those blue eyes and that annoying well-bred manner all Androids have — and by Android, he means RK900. Or just Nine; a name that Gavin had settled with when RK900 started to become a bit of a mouthful.

His official partner of exactly two months now; an upgraded version of the RK800 turned Deviant after the revolution and Cyberlife's forced termination — or something along those lines anyway. He'd been far too angry with Fowler at the time to actually consider listening. He never asked for a partner and he had been adamant he didn't need one — certainly not an Android one at that — and he'd made sure the Captain knew it by the time the day was done.

Never had he ever received so many disciplinary warnings in a single day.

It hadn't done shit either, the prick was still assigned as his partner and they were forced to begin working together as soon as possible, much to his annoyance. In hindsight, it probably wasn't as bad as Gavin had made it out to be, but his stubbornness is just one of the many flaws that he can’t seem to shrug off.

After getting over the initial frustration of having an Android as his partner, and getting used to how much the fucker looked like Connor — they'd actually become a pretty good team. He hated to say it but his progress reports had never been better since Nine had come to work with him; they were solving cases faster, cracking down on clues and leads and closing investigations in record time.

It’s become... unexpectedly nice, having an extra pair of eyes around when he’s out on a case. Not that Gavin’s never had partners before, he's had his fair share, but all of them had been driven away only weeks into working together by his sarcastic nature and his boorish manners. And it isn’t like he’s acting any differently towards Nine, but the Android is probably just as stubborn as he is and after two months he’s still here, working alongside him every day.

It pisses Gavin off because he’s starting to enjoy the bastard's company. Starting to get too familiar with having him around, and things like that only ever end one way in his life.

Anything that makes him happy never lasts, and it never will. It’s only a matter of time before Nine will be leaving too, and Gavin will be back to square one all over again.

“Are you listening to me, Detective?” The Android's voice comes again, confident and far too smooth for this early in the morning. Gavin hadn't even noticed he had been staring at him through his entire thought spiel, and the realization makes his cheeks warm with embarrassment.

“What?”

Nine rolls his eyes in exasperation at having to repeat himself, and Gavin fights the urge to throw his coffee over him, “I said, you seem to have some contusions around your left eye.”

“Your investigative techniques continue to blow me away, Nine.” Gavin drawls, sarcasm practically dripping from his tone. “Fuckin' hell. You know, for a state of the art model you sure are a dumbass sometimes.”

“Yes, I believe you've mentioned, multiple times. For a human with astounding brain capacity, you sure have questionable memory drawbacks.”

“Fuck off, tin can.” Gavin bites back, turning his head away to focus on his terminal again, bringing his coffee cup to his lips. He has no interest in having this conversation again already; though the back and forth with him has definitely lifted his spirits. Yet another reason why he enjoys having the droid as his partner; Nine always has a comeback for everything. Sure it’s... annoying sometimes, but having someone to bounce off keeps his brain going. 

Nine's eyes don’t leave him for a second, Gavin can feel them burning holes into the side of his head, “Detective, I know you tend to suffer from spurts of ignorance, but I'm sure even you can discern that my observation wasn't a simple statement.” He says, matter-of-factly, giving Gavin a reason to shoot a glare his way again. “What happened?”

“Why the fuck do you care?”

“Because you are my partner, Detective, whether you like it or not.” Nine smiles sourly, his head tilting on an angle. “Partnerships work best when both parties can trust one another — look out for each other. Even if you are an insufferable half-wit, it is still in my best intentions to keep you safe.”

There’s a beat of silence in which they just stare at one another, Nine's hands rested calmly in his lap whilst Gavin forgets he has a coffee in his own and spills it over himself in shock.

Nine looks down at the splash on his trousers and registers no burn mark, so he brings his eyes back up again, “So, I'll ask again, shall I? What exactly happened to you?”

“It was nothin',” Gavin mumbles finally, wiping a hand across the stain on his jeans to try and get it out, “just a guy at the bar last night looking for trouble. He ended up swinging for me.”

A crease appears in Nine's forehead, smooth and unaging — who the fuck designs an android with wrinkles anyway? “What provoked this fight?”

“I don't fuckin’ know, he just got mad and went off on one.”

“That seems highly unlikely,” Nine muses, studying his face with enough attentivity to make all of Gavin's anxiety peak, “why would he attack you for no reason whatsoever?”

“He just did.” Gavin grits out, the exasperation in his tone making him wish he could take back the words and say them again with more composure. “Alcohol makes you do some crazy shit. He was drunk, he started a fight, that's all there is to it. Now, shut the fuck up and let me do my job.”

Gavin watches him for a moment until the Android finally nods his head in consent, and Gavin silently praises every deity he can think of that this conversation is over. He doesn’t want to think about it anymore. Work is the one place he can get away from all of that — the one place where he can be the one in control. He never brings his personal issues here because no one gives a shit and he doesn’t want the goddamn pity. He’s got far too much pride for that.

He clicks the first case file he can see on his computer, not even sure if it’s a case for his department but he needs to think about something else and distract himself before he gets fucking emotional in the middle of the fucking station. Emotional about his shitty life, emotional about his fucking appearance, emotional about the person waiting for him back at home.

“Detective Reed?” Nine's voice pierces through his thoughts again for the second time this morning, and Gavin allows a singular glance up at him before looking away again, making his disinterest in conversation clear. His voice will probably break if he speaks, anyway. Yet, the prick keeps talking anyway. “I feel strongly obliged to remind you that I was designed for interrogation and investigative work, and I have programmes in my database to detect fabrication. I know you're lying to me.”

Gavin says nothing, feels his jaw clench stubbornly.

“Human psychologists praise communication as one of the finest forms of therapy. Whatever it is that happened, I'd be glad to listen.”

His fists tighten, but Nine insists.

“Detective Re-“

“I thought I told you to shut the fuck up?” Gavin finally snaps, his voice raising several octaves and no doubt attracting the attention of the nearest desks. “Have your fuckin’ ears stopped working or somethin’? I told you what happened, so quit botherin’ me, else I won't be the only one with a black eye. Got it?!”

Gavin is fully aware of how red his face is — aware of the fact he had stood up at some point and is now leaning over Nine's desk with his hands pressing against it. Aware the entire station is watching — and extremely aware of the calm, stone eyes that simply blink in response to his meaningless threats.

He can remember every single time he'd gotten into Connor's face like this, with every intention of beating him to the ground to make him shut the fuck up; and every time without fail he had watched Connor's little LED flash red at the potential danger Gavin was putting him in.

But with this fucker? Nothing. Just a steady blue light that goes out of it’s way to remind Gavin how out of his depth he is threatening Nine like this; something so simple and yet so humiliating. Nine is all cheekbones and strong shoulders and heavy metal, Gavin doubts he could even lay a finger on him before Nine sent him packing.

Despite all of this, the Android below him simply nods, his eyes never parting from his for a second. “Understood. I won't ask again, Detective Reed.”

He stays so calm, and it’s so annoying because it reminds Gavin that there is no need to threaten him. Nine won’t rise to it, and Gavin— Gavin wouldn’t do anything if he did. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, especially not Nine, he just enjoys having that power that he desperately lacks at home. The power to make someone else feel just as weak and worthless as he did when he was being thrown against a wall or beaten on the floor.

It used to feel so good, being able to make others suffer like he did — but right now, in this very moment, he feels no better than the very person he resents. 

He pushes himself away from Nine’s desk and lowers himself back behind his own without another word, suddenly very quiet and reserved, but he knows full well everyone will just chalk it up as his usual sulking. He just wants to get on with his work now — maybe munch on a few doughnuts and neck about ten more coffees, revel in the peacefulness of his workplace before he returns to whatever hell waits at home for him tonight. 

In his peripheral vision, he watches Nine readjust himself — long fingers working to straighten the turtleneck of his black jumper back to perfection and swivel his chair back in the direction of his terminal. A long hum of silence follows the movement and, after several moments, Gavin’s sure the subject is done with — yet he can see yellow in Nine's LED and knows there’s still something lingering on the tip of his tongue

“For what it's worth, Detective,” he finally spits out, his head turning back to face him and his velvety voice loud enough for the surrounding desks to hear — though Gavin can’t tell whether or not it’s intentional, “I bet that man from the bar is currently regretting ever touching you in the first place.”

The smile he gives him is small — but filled with a sincerity that Gavin wouldn't have associated with someone whom he had just threatened, but it gives Gavin all the confidence he needs to know that — although Nine undoubtedly  knows he is lying through his teeth — he isn’t going to push again. Some form of gratitude is probably in order.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Gavin grumbles like the stubborn fucker he is, not looking over once, but he'll bet Nine's fucking stupid scanners picked up on the sudden heat on his cheeks and the slight quirk of his lips. And, given the low chuckle that emanates from Nine's mouth before he turns back to his computer again, he has no doubt they did.

Damn that fuckin’ robot.

Damn him to hell and back.