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Tie me up (Set me free)

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Not for the first time Connor wondered what exactly Gavin found attractive about him.

It’s true that they have bonded and established some kind of camaraderie during last few months but as little as he understood about sexual attraction and tension, in hindsight it was obvious they had it going strong from the get-go. Well, Gavin had it going at least.

Connor was also quite sure it wasn’t just about him being an android since Gavin showed zero interest in other androids. It could be their clash of characters during those first few meetings but if arguing with someone turned him on, Gavin must exist in a perpetual state of arousal.

Or it could be as simple as his looks.

Connor entered the bathroom and undressed to proceed with a cleaning routine. He didn’t need it as often as regular humans required showering but he was not impervious to the grime of the city. Even if there was no rolling around in a dirty alleyway to apprehend a criminal, eventually the smallest particles of dust somehow seeped through the synth-skin and accumulated on his frame. They got picked up by the sensors, disrupting their effectiveness by negligible yet annoying degrees.

Just a quick run down with a soapy piece of cloth but the ritual held a somewhat special significance for Connor. He never had to clean himself before he became a deviant. When he was still in possession of Cyberlife there have been upkeep procedures each time he got back at the tower or any other facility, decontamination of the chassis, compressed air blow-through, multiple calibration tests.

It wasn’t until days after the revolution that the thought have even occurred to him. He was responsible for his own maintenance. He had a necessity and not only means to handle it but also an agency to do so.

This time was even more special, as he diverged from a usual procedure to stand naked in front of the mirror.

According to the research he has conducted, desirability was a complex quality. But the appearance had to factor in heavily. Gavin appreciated how he looked like. Gavin found him hot.

Connor observed himself in the reflection.

He knew for a fact that his face was designed to be moderately handsome. Not too cute or chiseled, to avoid unnecessary reactions, just pleasant and trustworthy. Symmetrical enough to fit conventional standards of beauty but made imperfect by irregular splatter of freckles and untamable wisp of hair to look approachable.

Same practical utility was present in every line of his body. Tall enough to be imposing if there was a need, with long limbs for fast movement and combat but not too broad, with shoulders and hips narrow enough to appear smaller than he actually was.

He was efficiency personified. And yet. There were weird inconsistencies. The pitch of his voice was lower than his looks suggested, throwing people off the first time he talked to anyone.

Connor slowly swept a hand down his torso and got a number of questions pop up that he would like to ask of his designer team. Why give him nipples and navel but no genitals? If he was meant to be sorely practical, what was a purpose of a mole on his hip right next to the absolute flatness of pelvis between his legs?

It was a bit frustrating. Connor tilted his head to the side. Being frustrated by the mixed signals of the body was a very human thing. He still reveled in the fact he felt frustration in the first place.

All in all he could comprehend how someone might find his looks attractive when it was made to be that way. Even though the feeling wasn’t there for him.

Connor recalled the faces and bodies of people he felt emotional connection with: Hank, Marcus… Gavin. They all came as facts and numbers, comparable only statistically and in relation to each other or any other data entry. He couldn’t say which one looked more attractive based on physicality alone. He could make an educated guess that general public would consider Marcus to be so. That knowledge didn’t transfer into any kind of feeling, though.

He did have a unique emotional response to all of them, based mostly on personality of each and their shared history. The one he had for Gavin was probably the most complex and full of contradictions. Connor liked it. He didn’t have a physical pull but he had an emotional one.

That had to be enough for him to consider the experiment worth pursuing. But was it enough for Gavin?

His desire was if not exclusively (that had yet to be determined) then deeply rooted into something physical. Sexual. Sensual.

Their corporal awareness was so different it was hard to even compare.

Connor touched his arm with the fingertips of the other one, feeling the give of the skin. Almost perfect imitation.

The synthetic pseudo liquid he had instead of skin maintained the correct elasticity, temperature and texture. What it lacked was underneath. No sinew, no muscles or veins. He had substitutes for those but deeper, not under the skin. Not accessible by touch. It was most obvious in places like ears and nose where there was no give of the cartilage.

Connor could imagine that rigidness being off-putting.

Then again, from what Connor gathered so far, he could imagine Gavin getting a kick out of it.

What a weirdo.

Connor saw himself smiling in the mirror. He tried to make it a suggestive smile but the result looked closer to a sneer. Then again…

***

“What is that?” Hank asked, motioning at him with a half-eaten toast.

Connor shrugged and took out his coin, flipping it casually.

“It’s my clothing, Hank.”

“Is there a reason why it looks like that?”

The coin slipped his grip but Connor managed to snatch it from the air gracefully enough that it might have looked intentional.

“Well, you were so insistent that I get weather-appropriate clothing last time. Since it’s already June, it’s only reasonable to do it again.”

Connor nodded to himself, the logic was sound. Last time he got a lecture for not wearing a winter coat even if the cold didn’t affect him much. In reality it just freaked Hank out to see him without one.

“Mhm,” Hank buried something like a smirk in his coffee cup. “And what about, I just happen to like prissy jackets and boring ties, Hank?”

“I don’t sound like that at all,” Connor said, trying to give him the look but if anything, it prompted even more sniggering.

“You are the one who always push me to develop a personal taste but now that I’m trying something out, you are mocking me,” Connor said a bit defensively.

He had no qualms with wearing formal jackets; he did like them! The current change was done in context of his exploration of Gavin’s preferences. And if it didn’t suit him it was acceptable, just another data point to have.

He still had to fight a desire to go back to his room and change.

Following the advice of shop assistants, Connor acquired the type of clothes made to emphasize his positive attributes. It was a pair of rather tight brown slacks and a dark blue shirt meant to be worn with sleeves rolled up to the elbows.

And honestly, according to his knowledge, the majority of people though that Hank had a terrible fashion sense. He had no leg to stand on in this discussion.

Connor was so lost in his thoughts he missed the point when Hank stood up and came closer to slap him on the shoulder.

“I’m just joking around,” he said good-naturedly. “It’s ok if you experiment with looks. Just warn the guy when we get to the colored hair and the goth phase.”

Hank went to grab the keys and exited the house. Connor hurried after him and got in the car.

“I really don’t think…”

“Oh, we’ve all been there, kid, believe me.”

Connor raised his eyebrows. Hank pointed a finger at him without even looking, busy driving out backwards into the road.

“You are not seeing the photos! They are hidden, thoroughly.”

“I am state of the art detective android, Hank.”

“Very thoroughly.”

Connor smiled and said nothing. He felt better about the whole new clothes thing.

He still hoped it looked appealing.

He wondered if Gavin had a colored hair or goth phase and if he would ever get to know these pieces of him.

***

So it was safe to assume that the clothes were a complete success.

Connor received multiple compliments from his coworkers, even captain Fowler grumbled something mildly approving.

And Gavin wouldn’t take his eyes of him for a second.

By lunchtime Connor felt both flattered and guilty for clearly disrupting his work process, but mostly flattered.

Especially that one time when Connor had to lean over Hank’s shoulder to read the statements on his console and didn’t even think anything about it, until he heard a loud clatter, a muffled curse and watched red-faced Gavin retreating to the bathroom. He wasn’t doing it on purpose but those slacks were almost unreasonably tight.

The clothes were a success. So much so that Connor immediately wanted to buy something else. And he could do it too.

After becoming full-fledged citizens all androids were entitled to receive payment for their job, even though it was a reduced one, since they didn’t have to eat and worry about the whole range of other human needs. It was a point of debate in talk shows and political rallies.

Connor could care less. He would gladly work without payment at all and Hank repeatedly refused to accept his contribution to the utility bills. There was nothing he required, so besides getting a few new toys for Sumo, his bank account stayed mostly untouched until now.

There was no reason why he couldn’t splurge a little. So he did.

During next few weeks Connor went through all the styles and shapes and colors. And even though the primary objective was to see how Gavin liked him in something, it proved to be an interesting exercise of self-discovery.

There were suspenders at some point and he even got a leather jacket but eventually Connor confirmed to himself that he liked clean-cut semi-official attire in blues and greys the most. Whether it was his residual programing latching on to the default settings or just his taste, it was nice to know for sure he liked something. He forgone a tie on most days but kept it for those expected to be bad ones, just to have an opportunity to adjust it and feel better and in control.

Gavin seemed to like almost anything. He did have some preferences but Connor felt his ever-present attention every day.

They haven’t discussed their progressing liaison but it seemed like each time they looked or spoke to each other, there was a layer of subtext added to the interaction.

Connor often wondered about the next steps he ought to make.

The natural progression seemed to point towards sexual relations, but he still hadn’t made up his mind about those.

It wasn’t a problem in and of itself. But he was faced with the conundrum of lacking the sexual drive yet being expected to take the initiative.

There was also an issue of Gavin’s preferences. His needs and boundaries were not conventional and Connor had no point of reference to map them out. Everything he tried so far was met with strong approval but there must have been a limit somewhere and Connor didn’t want to push against it accidently.

Not all the things he found in the research were things he wanted to try. Everything around deliberate infliction of pain and injuries, however small, made Connor slightly alarmed. Not only because he wasn’t sure how to measure and grant sensations he couldn’t feel himself but also because he didn’t feel particular aversion to the idea and he probably should have. And what if Gavin wanted that? What if Connor went too far with it?

Not everything could be figured out by trial and error when consequences of the error like that would matter so much.

Direct conversation was a way to go; something that people, at least those that Connor tended to befriend, were so reluctant to engage in. He could press for it of course but it wasn’t like Connor didn’t appreciate the state of their relationship as it was.

He didn’t realize he was waiting for something. For some sign that Gavin was ready for that conversation maybe. He did not realize it until the atmosphere started to change for the worse.

Connor couldn’t pinpoint the moment something went wrong.

One day Gavin came in to work in a clearly sour mood. Which wasn’t that far from his default, not to mention all the possible work-related reasons. The next day was not an improvement however and the next after that even more so.

They were both busy so it took some time to notice and confirm an apparent shift but Connor couldn’t evade the obvious conclusions for long. Gavin was avoiding him. He also became fidgety and distracted, scowling at anyone who came into three feet radius from his desk.

It was the exact state of antsy agitation that pushed Gavin to seek confrontation with him before. But this time there was no pending fight, just Gavin looking strung out and leaving the room as soon as Connor entered it if there was no work-related obligation to stay.

It was… disquieting.

Gavin masterfully sidestepped two separate attempts Connor made for them to speak privately. In a work setting holding himself aloof and generally… dick-like.

It wasn’t a new behavior. If anything it was back to the baseline. Somehow the regression seemed worse.

Connor took the time to review the footage of all of his interactions with Gavin in recent weeks (a few times) but there was no conflict or even a possible miscommunication point he could locate. The change was gradual and seemingly without a cause.

Still there must have been some reason. Something he said or did wrong. It bothered Connor that he couldn’t figure where exactly he blundered everything. But even not knowing the reason he could start with the apology.

He made another attempt to speak with Gavin after a common case briefing but Gavin fled before captain Fowler even dismissed them, choosing the wrath of the superior rather than a talk with him. Connor was half out of his chair to follow but sat back down under Hank’s complicated gaze.

“Said he was an asshole,” Hank muttered, not looking at him anymore.

Connor had no answer to that. It was bizarre how relationships could just take a sudden turn. It left him feeling uncertain. Left him feeling lost. Connor frowned.

***
Connor followed Hank into the dimly lit back room. Behind the one-sided mirror there was a suspect handcuffed to the table. The suspect looked calm, his body language relaxed and face smug. Detective Reed sitting across him was the opposite, with grim expression and shoulders so tense they were almost shaking.

According to the timetable on the console the interrogation was going on for 28 minutes already but detective Collins shook his head at.

“Hey Ben. Anything?”

“Hank. Connor. Zilch. The son of a bitch has deep pockets and he knows it.”

Connor sighed, the problem of corruption was still grating on his nerves more then he could explain. The system should either work, or be dismantled and rebuilt to work better if there was a defect in its foundation but somehow all the ones human built came with this inherent flaw in them.

“Reed! What the fuck is he doing?”

Hank pounded on the mirror. Behind the glass Gavin was holding the suspect by the lapels, pulling him half way across the table and snarling in his face. His voice was coming slightly disjointed from the speakers:

“You think you are so tough? Get fucking ready to see the sky in metal stripes for the rest of your miserable life!”

Chris who was standing on guard behind the door rushed inside the interrogation room to pry Gavin away.

The suspect fell back into the chair his smile only getting wider.

“Now I’ll sue you and this hellhole to the ground!”

Gavin made a move to grab for him again; Chris doubled the effort to get him in the corridor.

Connor was there before the door even closed, cutting off the cackling man behind it, Hank and Ben rushing out as well. Gavin was pushing Chris away with a vicious shove.

“I almost had him!”

“You had shit.” Hank said. “Another minute and you would have been unemployed, you owe Chris a big one.”

Gavin was breathing fast and looked like he was going to argue but then seemed to realize that none of them supported his approach, so he just turned and stalked down the corridor, shoulder checking Chris on his way out.

Connor debated going after him and how this was probably not the best time. But he couldn’t exclude the possibility that he was partly responsible for Gavin’s mood, so nodding apologetically to his colleagues he hurried off to catch up.

Gavin didn’t get too far; it was still the middle of the shift after all. He was harassing a water dispenser just two corridors over.

Connor didn’t have a clue how to start a conversation. If Gavin ever felt like following his suggestions, now would have been a nice time to do it.

“That wasn’t very nice,” he said leveled and only mildly disapproving. “You should probably apologize.”

Gavin scoffed at him.

“You should probably suck my dick.”

The foul language was not unusual but Connor was taken aback by the hostility of his tone.

Gavin made a face and turned to go.

“What is wrong with you?” Connor asked with more edge to his voice than he intended, grabbing his upper arm.

“Nothing. Get off me, retard.”

“Your behavior begs to differ. Gavin you are not being reasonable seeing as…”

Gavin growled at him, wrenched his arm out of a grip and made a move to leave. There was no way Connor could reason with him by words alone. Scanning the surrounding area he quickly found a best viable option. Utility closet a few steps down the corridor.

Another grab, stronger this time. Yanking to the side. Ignoring a confused yelp. Locking the door behind them.

“I haven’t finished,” Connor said.

He had Gavin pressed face first into the wall with a hand locked behind his back in a dim lit room hosting automated cleaning stations on standby. Position different yet familiar from their encounter in the archive. Just like then Gavin tried to wrestle free but Connor had much less patience this time, so he just shoved him harder, pressing closely behind, speaking lowly, mindful of the station corridor just behind a thin door.

“You have been avoiding me and behaving erratically. Fine. But it was a wrong way to treat a suspect and even worse to Chris who only tried to help.”

Gavin grounded his teeth together, making his jaw muscles bulge. He breathed heavily but a few more unsuccessful tugs later stopped fighting.

After a long pause he said exhaled.

“And whose fault is that?”

Connor had to suppress an automatic shudder. There was so much raw emotion in the quiet question. Way more than he could decipher. This, more than anything, made him move back and release his grip of the man. Gavin turned around to look up at him sourly but made no other move to leave.

“What do you mean?” Connor asked. “If I offended you in some way…”

“So that’s how we are calling it?”

“Calling what?”

Gavin spread his arms exasperated, banging one on a cleaning station in a cramped space. Hissed a curse but barged on:

“Emotional manipulation? Teasing? Torture? Taking advantage of someone’s weakness for your own amusement? I don’t know Connor how do you call it?”

Connor made a step back and would have made another one but there was no more space for that.

“Gavin. I don’t understand.”

Gavin was the one to move forward now, pocking Connor’s chest with a finger.

“I told you to forget it, to let it be. I fucking told you. But no, you said you would think about it. And what’s next? One day you flirt with me and the next one you don’t. One day you go all touchy-feely and the next one scolding me that I’m not concentrating on what the meeting is about. There are mixed signals and there is this bullshit. What are you doing, building a database of human reactions to hot and cold treatment? Well I’m not your fucking guinea pig. And if you are going to say that it was just all in my head and you were never interested at all you can honestly go and fuck yourself.”

Connor took the wave of information in and it finally made sense. He saw at once how inconsistent his behavior might have seemed. How it could have led to wrong conclusions, to look like indecision instead of rapidly progressing attachment. He understood but it didn’t mean he knew right away how to make it all better or if it was even possible. Still he could try.

Connor gently wrapped his hand around the accusing finger still digging into his sternum.

“I’m sorry. I never intended you to feel that way. I was interested. I am.”

Gavin looked at him skeptically at first but Connor took his scrutiny and met it with the most sincere expression he could manage.

“You are?”

“Yes. It’s just a new type of objective,” he saw right away how Gavin took the word the wrong way and hurried to correct it. “A new feeling. It was influencing my work efficiency. I tried to keep it professional.”

By the rapid reddening of his ears, Connor suspected that Gavin was pleased to be disruptive to his workflow.

“Why didn’t you say something?” he still tried to sound sullen but it lacked any real contempt now.

Connor smiled, seeing how all of Gavin’s physical markers that he monitored were steadily improving. His posture more relaxed, micro expressions positive, heartbeat staying elevated but… apparently in a good way.

“I couldn’t find an opportunity.”

“Well you created one when you really wanted,” Gavin said, motioning with his free hand and tugging at his captured one. Connor didn’t let go, suddenly reminded how they got into this situation in a first place.

“Your behavior couldn’t continue like that,” he said, admonishing.

“What were you gonna do about it, punish me in the closet?” Gavin said jokingly and obviously without thinking; he shut his mouth with a click and looked mortified as soon as words left his mouth.

Connor cocked his head to the side. Considering.

“Do you require a punishment?” he asked evenly. Gavin stared at him. Connor made a set of observations strongly supporting the approach he took. Maybe it was that next step he couldn’t seem to grasp. Not planned or scripted, just playing out naturally. But still Gavin wasn’t moving or voicing his opinion. Connor let go of the hand he was keeping hostage but leaned in, in case Gavin needed that last bit of validation so he whispered: “I think you do.”

“Oh?” Gavin swallowed.

Connor followed the movement of his throat with his eyes. He could see a vein pulsing on his neck, heartbeat going faster.

“Do you Gavin?”

Gavin looked to the side then back at him and back to the side.

“Yeah. I… Yes. Please.”

Connor fought the sigh of relief he wanted to make. He did not miscalculate or misinterpret. Good. But also alarming, uncharted territory was ahead. Neither his superior behavioral protocols nor any amount of world web browsing could tell him how exactly to proceed. He relished in the challenge.

Connor made a slow step forward, bringing them back to position they both seemed to prefer, with Gavin pressed against the wall.

“Have you ever imagined a situation like this?” Connor asked, figuring out possible lines of actions but also just curious. He lightly rested his hands on Gavin’s hips, detecting and delighting in series of shudders it got him in response.

Gavin licked and then bit his lower lip.

“Yes.”

Connor smiled a little, pleased that he guessed as much and more confident in his chosen strategy.

“How did it go?”

Gavin was breathing faster than before when they were arguing. He looked up again, trying to look daring but lending closer to pleading.

“You touching me.”

“I am touching you,” Connor said, applying more pressure. Mapping out his waistline and slowly getting back down.

“Not just there,” Gavin said breathless and annoyed. Prompting Connor to realize that he was being a tease without meaning to. It was in the parameters of the situation. He just wanted to be intentional about such things.

“There? Like this?” Connor asked, pressing one of his hands directly above the hardness in Gavin’s jeans. It got him a violent twitch that he was expecting and a cursed exhale, followed by:

“Please.”

Connor kept the pressure for a moment, savoring the reactions he was getting. But he didn’t want to ruin the moment by his own ineptitude. The task was new and he would rather not learn it through trial end error. Especially seeing that mental part of the encounter proved to be no less intense or stimulating for Gavin so far.

Connor lifted up his hand and pressed it to the wall over Gavin’s shoulder, caging him in.

“I don’t think it would be much of a punishment if I did that, do you?” Connor asked, rising his eyebrows.

Gavin glowered back at him.

“But you can touch yourself. Show me how you like it.”

Either noticing his genuine interest or led by pure frustration, or even following the pretense of being chastised, Gavin didn’t even bother to argue. He plucked a button open, zipper down and pulled his erection out all in one breath. He started moving his hand right away, moaning slightly from the touch or maybe from being watched.

Connor observed with unwavering focus. He vaguely noted the size and form and color and other general bits of information. But what he was truly interested in was how strong and how fast and what angle Gavin liked the movement to be. How his breathing hitched during the down stroke and rattled out when he was tugging up. Connor was so single-mindedly determined to not miss a thing that it took him a long time to realize that Gavin was looking up at him.

“Is this… okay?” Gavin asked, not slowing down but somewhat uncertain, searching for something in Connor’s face.

“This is incredible,” Connor answered honestly. He wasn’t capable of feeling arousal but he was seeing and hearing and feeling everything else: the rising body temperature, peculiar wet sounds, the pulsing of the pupils, the smell and taste of biochemical reactions happening under Gavin’s skin, all of it overwhelming and fascinating and happening at once and getting stronger still. Even he could predict that it wasn’t going to be long.

“Can I kiss you?” Gavin asked, cupping Connor’s face with his unoccupied hand. It was trembling a little.

And it was another thing Connor had zero expertise in but also not something he could learn observing. Not something he could withhold when Gavin asked him like that.

Making a decision to not overanalyze this, Connor leaned in and covered the other lips with his own. He even went as far as to push his tongue inside, when Gavin’s movements got more erratic and he had a full body shudder, throwing his head back with a long shaky exhale.

That was an orgasm, Connor concluded with ample evidence. And while Gavin was too out of it to care, proceeded to leave him a hickey on his so insistently presented neck. To have them was a quality of human skin that captivated him ever since Connor started his research.

For a moment there was only a sound of Gavin’s irregular breathing.

“So that was, yeah,” he said slowly.

Then both of them startled, when the nearest cleaning station powered on to life, extended a mop attachment and went to clean up the mess on the floor left by the proceedings.

Gavin let out a nervous bark of laughter.

The moment later he was full on laughing, whipping at his eyes. Connor smiled as well. It was funny after all.