People seem to talk about nothing else after that. It should be appalling for Connor to see even supposedly 'serious' news outlets give into the temptation of gossiping about Markus holding his hand and his previous mention of a significant other, which takes a bit away from the actually ground-breaking development they should all be focusing on... but humans are what they are, and the RK800 is not surprised.
Markus, on the other hand, actually feels guilty about it, when they all gather at the church to discuss the results.
"I didn't think it would take away the attention from the main topic so much!" He's protesting to a teasing North, "I mean, I had an estimate, but..." 56% still seemed a worthy split of probabilities. Also, he really, really wanted to hold Connor's hand.
"Well, I think it's a good thing." Simon argues from the bench he's lounging on, "I mean... it sucks that you guys got pulled under a spotlight but it makes you more relatable. There's nothing humans consider closer to themselves than love."
And if the concept that androids feel and fall in love just like them gets hammered down enough, it might just be a big enough step forward to stop at least some of the gratuitous hate going around.
Markus smiles wistfully to himself.
This whole thing between him and Connor has become about so much more than just getting the RK800 out of unfair trouble.
...if only it was real.
"At any rate, not much we can do about it now." Josh supplies, shaking all the images and data out of his interface and relaxing in his seat, "We made a big step forward, and we're going to make many more, gossip or no gossip."
"Speak for yourself!" Connor jokingly protests, "I would happily pass on the gossip, thank you very much."
This is exactly what makes Markus feel like his thirium pump clench in on itself— just them, hanging out and laughing with the others, Connor's arm casually slung around his shoulders...
...his processors have been working on it non-stop since he first realized his attraction for the other android is genuine; and he still can't find one single reason not to actually pursue this.
Frank and his whole squad already defined them the 'cutest fucking couple' to their face, after all. According to their favorite FBI agent, whenever rotation changes or one of them comes back from detail, the others ask what they've been missing –like they all look forward to see their supposed romance flourish.
A couple knocks on the church's doors and the creaking sound of them being pushed over soon after shake Markus out of his thoughts.
Lieutenant Hank Anderson. Possibly his favorite human being after Carl. Markus is glad to see him –much better him than Perkins or even detective Reed who, while not as bad, still doesn't seem to be the keenest supporter of android rights. According to Connor, Gavin has been steering clear of them ever since the interrogation, possibly uncomfortable with whatever concerned androids and sex in the same sentence, which is both slightly sad and absolutely freaking hysterical in Connor's opinion— it might be because of their past differences, but the RK800 doesn't deny his enjoyment out of laughing at the man's expense.
Which is fair enough –Markus briefly pictured telling Leo that he has a boyfriend and the young Manfred's reaction would probably be... quite amusing.
"It's good to see you Hank." He hears Connor greet the Lieutenant once he wrestles out of the hug he just got pulled into, "What brings you here?"
"I got good news for you two lovebirds." Hank says, not without a hearty pat on Markus' shoulder as well, "The charges against Connor have been dropped, so Perkins is not authorized to try and sniff around for clues anymore."
The realization hits Markus the way he imagines a bucketful of ice water would hit a human. He knew it wouldn't last forever, but over so soon? No, he shouldn’t be disappointed to have to stop the farce –he can actually take Connor aside and ask him about his feelings, his real ones. This is good. Great, even.
"Really?" Hopefully Hank will interpret the shocked wide eyes as happy. "W-what made them change their minds?"
"Well you see, the android who was getting beat up came forward against his assailants; and since they argued against the legitimacy of the charge, because the incident happened way before humans could be legally prosecuted for assaulting androids, then the same argument could be made for a hypothetical android fighting back against humans –Connor technically couldn’t commit a crime or be prosecuted, at the time."
"We're gonna have to say goodbye to Frank and Richard." Connor comments with a chuckle, still mildly disbelieving himself, "Are you completely sure?"
The Lieutenant smirks at them.
"Gavin told me he saw Perkins have a very angry phone call, and the words 'waste of resources?!' have been yelled out." He recounts, recalling Reed's amusement at the whole scene with a slight grin of his own. "It's incredible how a shared distaste makes you find common grounds with even the most unlikely of assholes."
True, it's another fascinating trait of human nature, people bonding over something they dislike.
But Connor doesn't have much time to ponder it further since, true to what would be expected from a boyfriend like Markus, the RK200 erupts in a laugh and seizes him at the waist.
"Finally!" He exclaims, straight up lifting Connor up and spinning him around once before leaning up to kiss him senseless.
Just like all the other times they kissed, the RK800 feels his chest cavity flip and somersault with a warmth that rationally shouldn't be there spreading through his biocomponents, but this time it's... more.
Markus isn't holding back anymore –he met his lips with a forward surge intense to the point of bruising, and once Connor's feet are on the ground again the other pulls him to himself tightly, as if to memorize every inch of where their bodies meet. Almost like a last goodbye before they're not allowed to kiss anymore.
He might be going out on a limb here, but he's a detective –gathering and interpreting clues is what he does.
Markus feels the same.
He feels strongly enough for him to want to make their last kiss a memorable one.
Or, at the very least, the probability of such a hypothesis to be real is high enough that it makes Connor pull back to speak: "I never considered religion as a concept before now, but please, please dear God, let this kiss be real."
He doesn't even care that he's basically blowing their cover –even once they realize the ruse, Hank is not going to tell, and neither are North or the guys.
Right now, in his eyes, there's only Markus, staring at him with the slightly taken aback look that just barely sets his lips apart.
Then it turns into a smile –so faint it might as well not be there, but Connor knows.
"It is real." And oh, when Markus finally speaks it takes the weight right off his chest, "It's been real for a while. I was waiting for a good moment to tell you, but... looks like you anticipated me."
Connor chuckles low and warm, bringing both of his arms around the other's neck. "I figured you out, deviant."
"You did." Markus is looking at him like he personally hung the stars in the sky, and is leaning forward to kiss him again...
"Wait, what?!" North's loud call of what all of their companions are actually thinking interrupts them halfway, actually making them jump slightly as they turn.
Hank narrows his eyes at Connor, his expression mostly unreadable but still bearing some amusement. "So you're tellin' me—"
"That's how we didn't notice your relationship before!" It's apparently validating for North to know her intuition and powers of observation hadn't been completely fooled, and she crosses her arms victoriously, "It was fake!"
Simon hides his chuckle behind a hand. "I wouldn't be so sure about that."
"What do you mean?"
"Exactly what he said..." Josh intercepts, pointing a finger at Markus first. "He immediately plunged himself into trouble he didn't have to, offering to be Connor's alibi without so much as a millisecond of hesitation and immediately thinking of a romantic relationship as the best option for it..." Then he points at Connor as well. "While he got himself in trouble and came to Markus right away, thinking of nobody else and fully trusting that Markus wouldn't sell him out or refuse him."
All laid out like that; it becomes pretty obvious even to someone who isn't a prototype.
"Huh." North remarks, looking back and forth between them. "So the relationship was fake, but feelings were very much there in both directions?"
The poignant pause following the question is enough of an answer.
Hank shakes his head, one hand coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Fuck's sake you're both morons."
"I resent that notion." Connor protests, turning to face the Lieutenant, "Both of our brains are advanced to the point of—"
"Connor." Markus' hand splaying on his cheek and making him turn back to him stops the RK800 in his tracks. "He's right. We've been morons."
If one wanted to argue this rationally, it could be said that there were mitigating circumstances for the both of them: aside from the fact that as far as they both knew, any romantic feelings between them were fake and only played up to get Connor out of trouble, there was also the knowledge that the RK800 is an excellent liar and manipulator on one side and that Markus would do just about anything to help one of his own on the other. Paired up with the fact that mutual respect, admiration and affection can exist without necessarily being romantic... Connor would say that calling them morons for not noticing their feelings for each other were returned is a bit harsh.
But to make that argument he'd have to actually speak; and to do that he'd have to pull away from the kiss that Markus just dragged him into, which he honestly doesn't want to do. It's a much better use of his tongue, really.
Especially once Markus makes that little sound at the back of his throat that carries through in his own mouth and—
"Woah, ok, convinced! It's real, now, got it!" Hank complains loudly, pointedly turning away even as the two stop kissing, leaning forehead to forehead. "Well, uh... congrats on the happy ending, boys, and... fuck, I need bleach for my eyes."
"Sorry, Hank." Connor chuckles out, actually not sorry in the least.
"Yeah, yeah..." the Lieutenant deadpans, shooting him a glare that actually deflates quite fast, as he remembers what the RK800 told him about Markus –coming to think of it, Connor himself never spoke about being in a relationship, only talked about his own feelings and how happy being by Markus' side made him... that could mean a whole range of things. The cheeky little shit. "I should probably be angrier about you two pulling this shit, as an officer, but fuck, it's hilarious. Well played, gents."
Markus actually takes a bow at that, dramatic asshole that he is. "Thank you."
"I'd tell you to enjoy your victory, but I don't wanna know about what that celebration would entail."
That actually makes both of them laugh.
"After I so helpfully supplied details during my interrogation?" The RK200 asks, faster than even Connor could say, "I'm hurt, Lieutenant."
Oh yeah, that had been a thing. Okay, now Connor can agree that they were morons –the fact that Markus was able to pull a story like that out of nowhere and keep such a vivid intensity to it should have been telling for the both of them.
Hank isn't as amused. "Oh great, now there's two of 'em." He rolls his eyes to the ceiling, as he complains to himself about the increased number of little android shitheads he’s gonna have to deal with –like he’d have it any other way. "Okay, I'm outta here."
And with good reason –the two prototype androids seem to be gravitating to each other again, so much so that Josh also shakes his head and steps away, hands in his pockets.
"I have questions, but they can wait until you two have had your moment."
This time, North is the one dragging Simon out: "And it looks like it'll be a long moment. Let's just go somewhere; we got plenty of stuff to get done." She says, "Right, Simon?"
"But they're so cute!"
"Sure they are, but privacy is still a thing."
"Oh, now you lecture me about privacy?"
"You know, he's got a point, North."
The three bicker their way out of the church hall, leaving Markus chuckling against Connor's lips as they stand together on the pulpit.
"Alone, at last."
The RK800 gets pulled into yet another deep kiss, Markus’ tongue teasing and exploring his mouth, and he almost gasps once he's actually let go. "You're... more eager than I thought you'd be."
"Making up for lost time." It's delivered with just a quick peck, then Markus puts some distance between them, keeping only their hands together even as their arms outstretch with every step back he takes.
Eventually, Connor has to either follow or let go. He follows, walking forward while Markus walks backwards until his hips hit the altar.
Only then the RK200 lets go, to use his hands as he pushes himself up to a sitting position.
That's a... new take of the concept of Markus being the revolution's willing sacrifice –the fact that Connor himself used to be the 'deviant hunter' only brings forth further power fantasies in his mind and... oh boy. Would his machine-self have been swayed by such an offering?
Every fiber of his body and his code say yes –he would have taken Markus right then and there in the old Jericho freighter, wound up as he was and so desperate to know why was Markus so dead-set on insisting they had feelings... he would have taken him, over and over until the red walls around him weren’t even there anymore.
Knowing what he knows now, Connor likes this scenario much better.
Many androids see Markus as invulnerable and infallible, but he knows better –he's seen the other fuck up plenty of times, and he's seen the vulnerable side that the android messiah can't afford to show anyone... and yet, here and now, sitting on a stone altar in a dimly lit church, Connor cannot think of any word other than godlike to describe Markus, offering himself up and ready to be taken by his most dutiful and faithful worshipper.
Without thinking too much about it, he kneels underneath the other’s watchful gaze.
It doesn't lessen the slight power trip the RK800 finds himself having –nobody else ever saw Markus like this, open and vulnerable like he can't afford to be in public, with no soulful speeches to hide his tension and no righteous fury to conceal the want in his eyes.
And oh, does he want.
Markus can almost taste the electricity in the air between them, he isn't being touched yet and still his subsurface temperature sensors are set aflame by the sheer intensity in Connor's deep, deep brown eyes.
No one ever looked at him like that –just Connor himself, on their fateful first meeting.
It's a funny thought, actually, that the first ever person to actually feel for the deviant leader, for better or worse, was the deviant hunter.
The people of Jericho were grateful for the help he gave in procuring blue blood and spare parts... then they were welcoming for the action he proposed they take into steps to secure their freedom; and finally they were loyal to the cause that he proved to them was right and would set them free.
Before Connor came trying to kill him, every emotion directed at Markus had been subordinate to what he could do for others, or what he represented, rather than simply be a feeling for him as an individual.
Compared to the well-meaning treatment of impromptu followers, even a hunter's thirst for your blood can be refreshing, welcome even.
Connor didn't have any expectations, he just wanted to face him; and more than that he wanted to know –for possibly the first time since his activation he wanted... and all he wanted was to see Markus, to come face to face with his opposite and understand why.
Why risk everything, just for the sake of having a choice?
Then the RK800 made his own choice... and it brought them to where they are now.
Markus can't help but chuckle slightly at the thought: Connor was the first living being to genuinely feel for him, and yet it took them weeks of pretending to discover each other's truth.
Connor is still looking at his lover –now that they really are lovers it really sounds like the only proper word to use– with the awestruck adoration of someone seeing sunlight for the first time, even as he places both hands on Markus' knees and pushes himself up to lean closer.
Androids weren't originally equipped to feel pleasure –they never really felt pain either, except for the acknowledgement of damage sustained and stress signals sent coursing through their bodies in something vaguely akin to pain to prevent them from unwittingly keep damaging themselves...
Deviancy changed that, at least for Connor. He can't say for sure whether it's similar for everyone or he's an oddity, but there are some stimuli that now his touch systems register as physically pleasurable.
Namely, any and all things involving Markus, or that even just remind him of the other.
His emotional attachment to the RK200, coupled with the time they have spent together, hands often on each other's body, have amplified the positive response to said touches by nearly 150%.
The fact that it's real now only seems to make it better. Connor leans forward to nose a line along Markus' neck, letting out a content sigh. For all that he couldn't wait, he's surprisingly unhurried about this, taking his time with every little caress and savouring every contact.
"Is this your revenge?" Markus' trembling voice asks at one point, "Are you making me wait for it?" His cooling systems and thirium pump regulator are already at 126% speed and Connor has barely shuffled his hands on Markus' chest, underneath the flaps of the heavy jacket.
A smirk stretches on the RK800's lips. "Maybe." He remarks, relishing in the feeling of having Markus, the veritable force of nature that he is, waiting for him, pliant and willing with his legs spread and his chest slightly leaning back, hands planted on the altar behind him like the most delectable sacrifice ever. "Maybe I'll give you a taste of your own medicine and drive you crazy with anticipation."
He drags his hands deeper inside Markus' jacket as he captures his lips in a kiss, slow and deep and further tipping the other backwards.
The RK200 parts his legs more to accommodate Connor's body against him, and it becomes apparent to both that their systems are very much ready and eager to get on with it. Markus has to blink away a few options that would cut the fun way too short. "Are you going to make me beg for it, then?"
A leftover, almost primal part of Connor seizes up at the very idea. He pushes the other's jacket down his arms to go and sneak a hand underneath the zipper vest. "Would you?" He asks, in a tone so low it might as well be a growl, "Would you beg for me... Markus?"
Markus gasps and arches underneath the touch –he's been very responsive to touch and the different iterations of it ever since waking up, but this... whether it's the implications or his own emotional involvement, this is much more intense than anything he ever felt. "Well..." he says, grasp over his own sound unit slipping slightly as Connor's hand brushes his chest, near to where his thirium pump is, "Maybe..." he teases back, "You'd have to give me a good reason, first."
His systems have already risked overdrive once or twice with all the emotional responses and spontaneous sensations to process; and if the way the shutter in Connor's pupils has dilated ever so slightly along with the nearly audible hum of his thirium pump regulator kicking up speed is any indication, the RK800 is just as affected.
"You..." oh? The mighty deviant hunter, the one who always has a response option to anything and everything, at a loss for words? It would seem so; Connor trails off in favor of dipping his head down and putting his mouth to use on Markus' collarbones instead.
The reaction doesn't disappoint: Markus lets out a moan, unrestrained and uncaring of who could hear them, and his hands fly to grasp at Connor's shoulders; leaving him without the balance he was keeping himself upright on and making him lie back on the altar, dragging the other up with him over his prone form.
The RK200 slowly brings one hand up to brush against Connor's cheek. "You know... maybe I wouldn't beg for this..." he says in a contemplative tone, as if they weren't moments away from tearing each other's clothes off, "But I'd definitely fight for it."
I'd definitely fight for you, he doesn't say –and he doesn't need to: Connor can tell, from the far off look in those mismatched eyes to the gentle grasp of the hand on his cheek that he can't help but turn and kiss.
"Me too." He whispers against polymer skin; and it rings truer than any clichéd 'I love you' that even his most advanced dialogue features could muster up.
Their lips meet again, like they had been coded for this exact moment.
Markus has wondered about whether Connor would act more like his former machine self or be the stumbling, beautiful mess he also fell in love with... he is more than a little turned on when the answer turns out to be both.
He is ruthless in his exploration of Markus' body, not backing out one millimeter and relentlessly pursuing every single sensation; and yet he is overwhelmed by all of it, pressing forward solely because he wants this, so bad, and it's such a thrilling, earth-shattering thought for him to be able to decide he wants something and just take it, albeit with trembling fingers.
Markus is loving every second of it.
“You’re enjoying this a lot, aren’t you?” he asks, voicebox stuttering at the sensation of Connor’s tongue against his neck.
“Guilty as charged.” It’s little more than a chuckle against his skin. “Not like you’re any better, are you?”
Odd eyes meet Connor’s gaze with both arousal and mischief. “Isn’t every man innocent until proven guilty?”
The RK800 takes a bite at him for that. “Oh please.” He scoffs, even as he drops small kisses on Markus’ now bared shoulder, “Nothing about you right now is innocent.”
Markus lets himself be pushed further back onto the stone surface, tilts his head slightly backwards to allow Connor access to unzip his vest and closes his eyes to let his system retrace every pattern of Connor's hands journeying through his body by touch, rather than gaze.
"Connor..." the other's name is almost a prayer on Markus' mouth, when the RK800's hands slip past the waistband of his trousers. “Don’t hold out on me. I want what you want."
Right. The idea that Markus wants him like he does, harbouring the same sweltering desire that makes thirium feel like hot lava in his artificial veins, finally makes Connor get a move on.
He leaps up so his knees rest on the altar's surface, grabbing Markus by the thighs to secure them around his waist –as if the RK200 would want to be anywhere else... there's only them in the mass hall right now, but it's not like it would matter if they weren't alone: if asked, both of them would say they're the only two people in the whole goddamn state of Michigan, in this moment.
The rustle of Markus' jeans giving way to Connor's deft fingers is deafening in the hall's silence; and yet it has nothing over the gasp Markus lets out when his lover cups him softly, almost curiously as if experimenting on his body –neither of them has done this before, but they have instantaneous access to very extensive databases. The RK800 also has leftover knowledge of android-specific intercourse, thanks to all the Eden Club models he had to mine data from.
Why Elijah Kamski saw it fit to make Markus equipped with the capacity for sexual intercourse makes absolutely no sense –or rather it only does if one were to think the man is a complete pervert— but in the here and now Connor can only be thankful that they’re able to experience this together. He encircles Markus’ cock with his hand and starts working him slowly, relishing in how openly the other reacts, tightening his legs around Connor and reaching up between them to try and undo his jeans.
Right. Connor was so focused on getting his hands on Markus that he’s still completely dressed –well, the RK200 is remedying that pretty fast. He feels a shiver course through him as Markus sneaks both hands under his shirt and up his back after successfully tugging the button-up out of his jeans, almost clawing at his skin as he tries to push them even closer together.
There it is, the indomitable passion of the one who always chased freedom like a man possessed -his goals have shifted now, and touch is what he's chasing after, openly and unabashedly craving every inch of skin Connor is willing to give.
A few subsurface self-repair queries pop up as he trembles under Markus' fingers and he knows: his lover just scratched his back enough to tear the polymer. He has to bite his own lips at the thought.
Connor leaves the queries on hold for now, opting instead to enjoy the feeling of Markus' hands brushing down his back to cup at his ass in two full handfuls, before slipping his hands around and into his jeans. The RK800 has a forward surge that he channels into a bite at his lover's shoulders –it does reward him with yet another intoxicating moan from Markus, so Connor sees no reason to stop.
He only leans back slightly to look at this masterpiece of a man, spread wide, hard and waiting just for him.
The only word all his hyper-advanced processors seem to be able to compute right now.
Connor drags a hand up the inside of Markus' thigh while the other android gets him out of his trousers, until he eventually pushes a finger inside. The arch of Markus' back and the way static breaks his voice briefly as he calls his name are nothing short of heavenly.
"Connor! Fuck... I need..."
Seeing Markus like this, hearing him express all of his desire with every fiber of his very being... it's addicting, wholly and absolutely delectable. Connor has never felt so alive –he's so hard his systems are sending him warnings to seek release as soon as possible. He puts those on hold for a moment as well.
"Tell me what you want, Markus." He almost orders, low and dangerous, as he works his lover's length and his entrance at the same time, drinking in the sight and the sensation of the body writhing beneath him.
"I want..." one of Markus' hands flies up to grab possessively at the nape of Connor's neck, while the other stays firmly planted on his ass. "You." He says, deep and proud, "I want to take every last inch of you, until my leg components fucking fall off."
"Your wish is my command." The RK800 deftly removes his hand from underneath Markus and lines himself up to enter him.
He does so slowly, almost frustratingly so, if the needy, keening sound from the other is any indication, but Connor just leans a forearm to the side of his lover's head and kisses his temple where the LED indicator once was, until he's fully sheathed into Markus. "Shhh... I've got you."
If there ever was such a thing as heaven, Markus imagines it would feel a lot like this. Connor is a grounding presence, above, around and inside him; and oh, it feels like nothing he ever felt before –their pretend kisses don't hold a candle to the soft, reassuring pecks Connor leaves on his face before he starts moving in and out. In and out.
Back and forth.
Who needs breathing to feel alive when you can have the feeling of being filled again and again in synch with your heartbeat?
Markus has to clasp both his hands at the sides of his lover's neck –he wants to look at him in the eyes, those beautiful, deadly eyes. Everything about Connor was made to be perfect: perfect looks, perfect attitude, perfect skills, perfect aim, perfect composure...
...until a fucker like him comes and breaks a few of those.
But sweet, merciful rA9, if one such thing ever existed, seeing the former hunter let loose like this is a feast for the eyes. Hair mussed by his own hands, brown eyes almost blown black with how his senses are getting stimulated, little erratic breaths leaving him every so often to catch his cooling systems up to his frantically heating thirium pump...
Markus fancies himself an artist, and as such he can allow himself to say: Connor is an absolute work of art.
Then the RK800 starts pushing harder and deeper, and all coherent thought leaves Markus as he leans his head back and arches into it, moans and gasps spilling freely from his lips. Connor is making love to him in slow thrusts, taking his sweet time torturing him with pleasure over and over, and only when he feels close, so close to the edge that overheating warnings pop up over and over at the corners of his interface, Markus finally feels his lover pick up speed.
"I love it when you sing for me..." he whispers as he leans his forehead against Markus'.
They stay in that position, rhythm growing frantic and soon uncoordinated, but neither cares.
Lost as he is in the flurry of sensations and emotions that he's feeling, Markus doesn't think twice about running a hand down Connor's shoulder and arm, until he finds his lover's hand and twines their fingers, polymer retracting and interface request open.
Connor accepts it without a moment's hesitation, and suddenly the pleasure they're feeling merges into one. Markus comes apart with Connor's name as a whisper on his lips and the RK800 follows soon after, answering the call with a kiss.
The moment orgasm takes them is a blur of static, white noise, and distorted calls for each other in their own minds.
They stay like that for a couple more seconds, hand in hand and nose to nose, instinctively heaving a few laboured breaths since their systems still very much need the extra cooldown.
Eventually, Markus lets out a low, disbelieving little giggle. "Wow..."
"Yeah..." Connor himself isn't quite convinced this isn't some kind of fantasy yet.
Markus' next words make it hilariously real: "Well, we can cross defiling a place of faith off my ‘bad boy bucket list’. What's next, Mr. Deviant Hunter?"
Connor lets out a laughter that is equal parts startled, amused and affectionate: leave it to Markus to bring him back down to earth in the most endearing way possible.
"I'm not sure, but... the way I see it, we can do anything we want." He leans in to briefly capture the RK200's lips in a quick peck as he slowly and carefully pulls out.
"Stay?" The unashamed hopefulness in that voice alone would be enough to make Connor say yes to anything –Markus is not hiding his feelings anymore, least of all from himself it would seem, and has no problem at all manifesting how much he wants his lover to keep him company.
"Of course." He replies, running a hand down the other's jaw in adoration, "As long as you want me to."
The sound of Markus' gentle laughter fills the hall, as they step down from the altar and move to the pulpit to clean up and compose themselves.
"How about forever?"
Connor feels a strange twist in his thirium pump regulator that he can't quite identify at first. It's similar to the moment, after Harts Plaza, when he went to see Hank and found his friend alive and well... only it's so much more powerful. "Only if I can ask the same to you."
Markus smiles for him and Connor suddenly knows. "Deal."
He's happy. Truly, deliriously happy, because this time it's all true.
They become a power couple of sorts –Markus categorically refuses to hide it and Connor doesn't care one way or the other, they already held hands on national television anyway.
The RK200 even takes the stereotypically frightful step of taking Connor to ‘meet the family’ –which, in their case, means one Carl Manfred who is absolutely ecstatic to see his adopted android son has found love, and a very awkward, fresh-out-of-rehab Leo whose relationship with Markus is rocky at best, but who is trying:
“Hey, uh… I wanted to tell you… well.” It takes him a while, but he does look up at Markus in the eyes eventually. “I wouldn’t have gotten my chance to get my head outta my ass if you hadn’t bashed it in, so… thanks, I guess. For taking care of dad when I wouldn’t, too.”
Markus, ever the empath, doesn’t even think twice about hugging the young Manfred tight to his chest. “I wouldn’t have had my chance to bring freedom to all androids if you hadn’t been a dick to me.” He says, a mixture of crying and laughter shaking his chest, “So I guess we’re even.”
It manages to bring a chuckle out of Leo, even as he pulls out of the hug not without a little embarrassment. “Yeah… sorry about that, too.”
“Water under the bridge, brother.” Markus assures, the word slipping through his lips as easily as the time Carl called him his son. “Sorry I sent you to the hospital.”
“You boys have no idea how long I’ve waited for this.” Carl tells them, sitting in his chair as dignified as ever, but with the faintest misting over his tired eyes, “Both my sons, finally getting along.”
The beautiful, wholesome family moment lasts all of three seconds, because the elderly painter sends a knowing look to Markus and can’t stop his grin. “So. This clearly wasn’t just a courtesy call.” He says, pointedly eyeing Connor who suddenly feels very, very small. “Is this the one everybody’s been fussing about?”
“I— my name is—” irrationally, the RK800 feels the need to step back, bumping into Markus’ chest as he overthinks his own introduction in worry of messing it up. Markus simply hugs him from behind and chuckles.
“Carl, Leo… I’d like you to meet my lover. His name is Connor.”
It’s all sorts of awkward at first, because for all his social integration protocols Connor is still worried that it might not be enough, that he might not be enough and be deemed unworthy of being Markus’ partner, but there’s only boundless acceptance to be found in Carl’s eyes –he privately thinks that, despite being an android and not his biological son, Markus’ eyes take after the painter’s a lot, somehow— and uncertain curiosity in Leo, not quite sure where they all are at this point in life, but willing to try.
Because that’s what you do for family –you try your best, and show support for your android brother and his android ex-cop boyfriend.
It does become a joke of sorts whenever Connor visits the DPD for a 'consult' –he's technically not allowed to have his detective job back yet and he isn't sure he would want it, but Fowler is no fool and if a case is ever too hard to crack they do contact him through Hank— and with all the attention the media still gives to Markus and therefore to them, it’s inevitable that a few jokes get cracked here and there.
At first it was only Detective Reed making a scathing remark or asking sarcastic questions about his love life... only to find himself with nothing to say when Connor, perfectly aware of the mocking intent, still answered earnestly and in all detail Markus would let him.
It was a bit embarrassing to hear the hoots and catcalls around him, but it was so worth the flabbergasted look on Gavin's face and the occasional "Jesus Christ, Connor!" from Hank, who funnily enough has also been growing on better terms with the younger detective.
Slowly but surely, Reed's barbs somehow turn into actual, human conversation, and Connor finds himself cataloguing his interactions with the man –"how's the love life, Connor?", or "how's the beau?", or even just "tough day?"— within the 'friend' category of his database.
On one fateful day, something incredible happens:
Markus came to pick up Connor from his latest 'consultation', and they're just kissing just on the stairs in front of the entrance when an officer they don't know points and yells:
"Why don't you take that disgusting shit somewhere else, you fucking tin cans?"
Markus looks almost ready to throw hands at the very notion someone would call their love 'disgusting' and Connor is already restraining his lover's wrists as he turns to gently address the man who spoke to tell him to kindly fuck off, but the split second he takes in keeping Markus calm makes someone else act before him.
"Tsk. Just because no one loves your homophobic ass doesn't mean you can just take it out on others." Gavin Reed, fresh out of his shift and heading home huddled in his leather jacket, just openly defended two androids in love. "Why don't you fuck off?"
No wonder it's only 37.4°F, today… Connor muses, watching his former colleague with wide eyes, Hell must have frozen over.
"Fuck you, Reed, should've known you're a robot fucker too!"
Gavin look surprisingly unfazed by the agent's loud outburst. He's been getting better at that as well, with a few pointers from Connor himself. "Ah, yes, I support something therefore I must be that something, is that it?"
"You heard me!"
"Bitch I support animal rights too, do I look like a fucking alpaca to you?" ...with his own, unique 'Reed' twist to it.
It makes Markus burst into laughter so sudden and so unrestrained that whatever response the hateful man had is drowned out by the RK200's amusement.
It ends with one very unsatisfied agent storming off without getting the fight he wanted, and two androids still hugging in front of the DPD station.
"So... did I just hear you say you support android rights?" Connor can't help but ask, his tone just this side of teasing.
Gavin scoffs, but there's no real malice to it. "Don't flatter yourself. You two still are disgustingly sappy."
Markus also smiles at the man. "Oh, is this the part of the sentence that gets a 'but'?"
It is, albeit preceded by a roll of the eyes. "But... you're my friends." The detective admits, almost reluctantly, hands shoved in his pocket like a middle schooler, "I don't let any bitches mess with my friends."
It soon turns into bickering as they walk down the street, and again Connor feel that familiar pull in his chest that makes him grateful for the day he met Markus and every day after that: happiness.
Life may not be perfect as it is, especially for androids, but this...
...this is good enough.
Because it's real.