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Innocent Until Proven Guilty

Chapter Text

Markus should have known from the start.

Things were going well –humans were peacefully trickling back into Detroit, there was an actual diplomatic discussion going on regarding the possibility of getting started on the idea of granting civil rights to androids…

Of course something happens to send it all tits up.

Connor comes running into the abandoned church that has been acting as a base for Markus and a few of the others, wounded and with his knuckles stained red.

“Oh, good, you’re here. I know this is very unorthodox, but I need you to hide me while I wash off the evidence.”

Markus isn’t sure he wants to know, but he asks nonetheless. “…evidence of what?”

“Of the… altercation I just got caught up with.” Without waiting for permission, Connor scans the surrounding area, finds Markus’ paint supplies and pours some acqua ragia on a rag. “Ah, this’ll do.”

Well, shit. The RK200 watches as Connor takes off his beanie and leather jacket, tossing them into the pile of art supplies, followed by his shirt, that he replaces with one of Markus’ own paint-speckled ones –it’s night, so it’s not that easy to distinguish what someone is wearing, but one can never be too cautious. Markus sets his palette down and finally steps away from the easel with a sigh.

“What happened, Connor?”

Now looking for all intents and purposes like he’s been helping Markus paint the whole time, the other tries to make himself smaller. “I saw some drunken humans terrorizing an android. When one of them got a baseball bat out of his car, I had to intervene.”

“Shit.” It’s what he would have done, too, but… “Are any of them…”

“No! No, no, but I, uh… may have broken the nose of one of them.” Connor assures, understanding why Markus would ask the question –his supposedly stealthy infiltration of Cyberlife Tower resulted in three dead, and before that he killed several FBI operatives during the Jericho raid.

Funnily enough, that’s precisely the reason why Connor can’t really afford to go around breaking noses –Cyberlife has been trying to push for a scapegoat for their dead ever since the march, as an excuse to undermine and sully the revolution’s name by arguing that the peaceful protesters have two terrorists for leaders… if the RK800 gets found out and found guilty, it’s going to be hell to try and clean up their name.

There’s only one obvious choice. “Ok, here, take this.” Markus gives Connor his palette and then runs his paint-stained fingers over the other android’s a few times, to make his hands dirty like he’s been painting as well and turns to go get another one.

“Markus?” the call of his name makes him stop in his tracks and turn. “…thank you.”

It brings a smile to his face. Who would’ve guessed, just a few short months ago, that the deviant hunter would start leading the free androids by the deviant leader’s side and get himself into trouble?

“You’re welcome.” He says softly, with an encouraging squeeze of the arm –Markus has always been very tactile, with everyone he knows, ever since breaking down his program. If he wanted to go down that rabbit hole and analyse it, it probably has something to do with waking up broken and alone and having to come back from that, but that’s way too dark a thought to entertain, so he doesn’t.

They don’t have the time to, anyway, because an annoyingly loud knock resounds on the other side of the rickety doors, catching their attention— it’s actually loud enough to bring out Josh, Simon and North from the disused rectory that works as a resting place when they hang out here at night.

“Open up, FBI!”

Perkins. Markus doesn’t have any time for that asshole. “If you look very carefully, you’ll see a gaping hole where the lock should be.” He calls from where he stands, not bothering to go meet him half-way, “Push the door, it’s open.”

It is, after all, an abandoned church that they broke into.

The force entourage is comprised of just agent Perkins from the FBI and two DPD officers. Connor has to stop a change in facial expression to hide his relief upon seeing Hank –Gavin Reed is a less pleasant surprise, but even he has mellowed out some.

“Alright smartass, where are you hiding the RK800?”

Markus offers them all a radiant smile. “Good evening to you too, agent Perkins.” He starts, polite in appearance but precisely put there to be a little shit about it, “Connor is right here, as you can see. Why would I be hiding him?”

“I don’t know, maybe because he just assaulted four men that wish to press charges for battery?”

It’s very useful to be able to reload facial expressions if you absolutely have to, and the surprise and confusion on Markus’ face look –to the human eye who can’t perceive the quarter of a second of lag— fully genuine as he asks: “What?”

“We don’t really have the time or patience for games.” Detective Reed comments, rubbing a hand over his tired face, “Four men were found after someone beat the shit out of them. They say an android did it, and that it looked like Connor.”

Silence runs through everyone present.

« What the hell is happening, Markus? »

«It’s okay, guys, don’t get involved and don’t panic.» he assures North, «We’ll handle this ourselves.»

“That’s strange.” Markus comments, making a show of turning to Connor. “Do you know anything about this?”

The RK800 is, if anything, an even better liar than Markus and minutely shakes his head, perfectly clueless. “Did they address me by name or description?” he asks, then pointing at his temple, “Has anyone mentioned an LED indicator?”

Perkins seems slightly taken aback. “All that the victims said was that ‘it looked like the one who marched out in the streets with all the others’.”

«‘Victims’, my android ass.» Connor sends through, opening their network.

« Don’t make me laugh, damn it. »

Angel face still in place, Connor turns to Hank. “I’m sorry but I’d like the full story, it feels full of holes like this. Could you tell me what happened, exactly?”

Hank is the one to comply: “Four drunk men were found battered and bruised just outside of a bar, together with a wounded android—”

“I think you mean damaged android—”

The Lieutenant pointedly ignores Perkin’s petty correction and carries on. “—who said that the four men were after him but somebody else defended him. He apparently didn’t see who or what they were, it happened too fast and his optical unit had been damaged after the first hit with the baseball bat.”

“So the victims are themselves assailants?” Markus can’t help but ask, even though he more than anyone knows the answer…

“Not in the eyes of the law, not yet.”

Yeah that’s one of the slowest progressing changes –he wonders why, really. But it’s a matter of principle. “Yes, well. That will change soon, Detective Reed.”

“And it is a good question: who are the four involved?” Connor pipes in, “Have they been identified?”

Catching onto what the RK800 is saying, Hank does bring up a point: “Yeah, we identified them. All of them have a record –nothing too bad, but they’ve been involved in scuffles before, at anti-android protests and even outside of them.”

“And what of security camera footage?”

“Not the best quality, could have been any average joe with half a heart stepping in to stop a defenceless android from being beaten into the pavement.”

Markus doesn’t have to hide the small smile blossoming on his face at Hank’s words –appreciating the Lieutenant’s compassion won’t give anything away.

A bit reluctantly, Reed adds: “It’s why we came here to ask questions rather than drag your asses to the station. We have to be sure they’re telling the truth and those guys are… not the most reliable source.”

Connor is actually impressed –would you look at that? Gavin Reed admitting that a bunch of assholes could be just that. It’s easy to point a finger at Connor, he’s ‘one of those androids who were on TV’ and Cyberlife had been furious when their little plan to reclaim him failed, so while it is true that he has to tread carefully and keep his nose clean, it’s also true that if they listened to any anti-android protester crying ‘wolf’ about him, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to sort it all out.

The silence stretches on for a few more seconds, until Markus sighs, squeezing Connor’s arm before turning to face Perkins. “Well, I’m sorry you had to make the trip at this hour.” He says, “I know for a fact Connor couldn’t have been the one there.”

The FBI agent raises an eyebrow at him. “No? And how do you know that?”

 “Because he was with me. I know that because he was with me, this whole time.” There’s no hesitation in the RK200’s voice, and he sends Connor a slightly apologetic look, as if he just revealed a secret that he wasn’t supposed to.

That catches everyone’s attention. North and Simon exchange a mildly shocked look, then turn to look at Josh who simply shrugs his shoulders. This suddenly got a lot more interesting.

“He was with you.” Perkins parrots, confused. “…Until 3 a.m.?”

« Markus, what are you doing? »

«Saving your ass.» is the only reply Connor receives, as Markus clasps his hand. “Yes.”

Oh. Oooh. That’s actually a pretty good plan.

«You’re already wearing my shirt. Now play along and look like you love me. »

“And what, pray tell, was the former deviant hunter doing with the deviant leader for a whole night?”

Connor clasps Markus’ hand tighter, entwining their fingers, and makes a show of looking at him while biting his lower lip before meeting Gavin’s eyes with a challenging sort of stare. “Take a wild guess.” He offers with a wink.

The only one he feels slightly bad for is Hank –the Lieutenant looks flabbergasted. “Seriously, Connor?”

“What can I say, Hank? I have my needs.” chancing a sideways look at Markus’ state –wearing a paint smock that’s only zipped up half-way and tied around his waist, with just a tank top to cover his torso, he gets an idea and runs with it, expression erring on the close side of cheeky. “He’s teaching me to paint, as well. He takes off one article of clothing for every time I make progress.”

Markus is quick to catch on and bump shoulders slightly with him. “You’re not supposed to tell!” he chastises, in a soft whisper that anyone listening would attribute to an embarrassed if slightly amused lover.

“Yeah, I did not need to hear that! Jesus, Connor!”

Perkins doesn’t react as vocally as Hank, but does look slightly perturbed.

The only one out of them who looks more amused than horrified is, surprisingly, Gavin. “That true?” he asks, just on the edge of mockingly, “And how long has this been going on?”

“Since the Jericho freighter raid.” Connor promptly answers, “You don’t really think I just up and changed flags, and on top of that risked my life to go on a suicide mission, with no deeper feelings behind it, do you?” He tugs Markus closer to his chest through their still joined hands. “I couldn’t let anyone harm Markus.”

Anderson is still busy face-palming, so Gavin is free to just blurt it out: “So you turned deviant for dick?”

Markus has a jolt of embarrassed laughter and Connor just shoots the officers a mischievous smile. “That’s a crass way of putting it, but… sure, pretty much.”

Gentlemen.” Hank finally recovers and clears his voice as loudly as he can. “I think it’s safe to say that we’ve just disturbed a, uh… private moment, for no reason. What say we go and finish our investigation elsewhere?”

“It sure seems that way.” Perkins looks at the two androids holding hands with a hum, “Or it could be a ruse to get us to leave.”

“Are you calling my lover a liar?” it’s immediate and carrying just enough indignation. Connor is actually quite impressed with Markus’ acting skills.

“No one is calling your— jeez, couldn’t you just say boyfriend, like anybody else?”

Poor Hank. Connor will have to buy him several drinks to make up for this.

Worrying his lower lip slightly with his teeth, Markus shrugs his shoulders a little. “That doesn’t sound like a powerful enough word for what I feel. Are we done here, gentlemen?” for added effect, he musters up a barely-there lopsided grin, “We’d like to return to our painting lesson.”

The Lieutenant’s expression is priceless. And, the RK200 suspects, so would be the others’ if he were to turn and look at them now.

« Wait, really, Markus? »

« Guys, when did this happen? »

«How have you two kept this under wraps so long?»

It’s slightly worrying that they believe it, but then again… he and Connor have been spending a lot of time together after the march –the androids freed from Cyberlife Tower saw Connor as their liberator, and if Markus hadn’t survived the Plaza then the RK800 would have become the de facto leader, so they simply fell into step together, alternating in taking the lead in the fields they respectively do well with.

« Not now, guys. We’ll explain later. »

Connor has been handling the strictly legal discussions, especially the parts focused on criminal law, while Markus deals with the ‘people’ side of things –resulting in quite a lot of late nights together, spent either with Connor coaching Markus on negotiation tactics or the two of them brainstorming about their people’s many needs in the present or future.

He supposes it’s not too outlandish to think a romantic relationship could have blossomed in the meantime: for all that they were supposed to be enemies at first, they got on like a house on fire after the march and neither has made his admiration for the other a secret. Markus called Connor extraordinary to his face more than once, and the RK800 himself has had more than a few choice words about Markus and what he’s done for androids everywhere.

“Well, shit.” Connor is still surprised that Detective Reed is the one that took the news the most in stride. “Fuck, you know what? That actually explains a lot.”

Perkins is, unfortunately, not as easily convinced. He shoots a sceptical look to both androids and addresses them with a sneer. “And how come nobody knew anything about this?”

“Excuse me, I was not aware that in order to be left in peace I had to broadcast my romantic or sexual relationships to the public.” Connor retorts, before getting a thought. «Wait, you are equipped for sexual intercourse, aren’t you?»

« Yeah, why do you ask? »

« Just in case this asshole decides he still wants to investigate and tries to dispute our words by pulling up technical specifics. »

« Good luck finding mine. »

Right. Elijah Kamski personally designed and gifted Markus to Carl Manfred. If there even are any physical copies of Markus’ specifics, neither man would give them up. Still. It’s good to know they’re covered on that front.

“You really don’t have to. Seriously.” Hank’s reactions might be a little over the top, but it possibly comes from having spent so much time as Connor’s commanding officer, along with the fact that the RK800 looks young enough to be his son, which makes any thought of him in a sexual light very uncomfortable for the Lieutenant. “Gents, I say we’ve overstayed our welcome. Let’s go.”

“Just so you know…” Perkins shoots one last look at the two, “We’ll continue this investigation to make sure we figure out what really happened.” His expression twists in a derisive sneer. “I’ll see you two lovebirds around.”

The FBI agent takes his leave, leaving behind a disgruntled and mildly disturbed Hank and a still vaguely disbelieving Reed. For some reason, the dumbfounded looks are starting to irritate Connor.

“What? Are you waiting for us to start making out in front of you?”

Fuck no, I’m outta here.” Hank is more than glad to be snapped out of is confusion and get the hell out, and Gavin just shakes his head to himself.

“Fuckin’ unbelievable.” He mutters, “Androids in love.” Despite his apparent scepticism, he does follow the Lieutenant out regardless.

Connor and Markus are left holding hands in front of the easel, in the company of three suddenly very curious androids.

There’s a long, almost painful stretch of silence once the sound of the church doors closing echoes out.

Eventually, North is the one to break it. “What the fuck did we just witness?!” she asks loudly, running up to them and circling so she can stand in front of the pair. “Scratch that, how have you two kept this under wraps so long? I’m offended, Markus, I thought we were your friends!”

“North, we—”

“We didn’t want anyone to know in case people tried to make a spectacle of it.” Connor interjects whatever Markus was about to say, sending her a sheepish sort of look. “You know how humans are. They’d do anything to try and undermine Markus.”

«Connor?» the RK200 is confused –now that the feds are gone, there’s no reason that he can see to keep up the ruse.

«Perkins issued a clear threat: for however long they’ll decide to indulge those four assholes with a bruised ego, we’ll be under his scrutiny. If he can prove we were lying, it basically makes me instantly guilty.» he explains through the private connection, «The less people know it’s fake, the more chances we have to make it out clear. We can keep ‘dating’ for a while, just until the dust settles, and then stage a break-up or something.»

It’s an undeniably solid choice –being one of the very few androids that actually fought to kill during the revolution, Connor has to take twice the care in being absolutely squeaky clean: androids cannot be prosecuted in a court of law, but that just means that any android caught committing a crime gets detained and punished at the force’s discretion. In Connor’s case, the one ultimately responsible for the revolution’s success, Cyberlife would push for his immediate deactivation.

Markus cannot let that happen.

«Okay.» He offers a smile of his own at North. “We were just trying to keep you guys safe.”

“Oh, this is cute!” Simon tries to hide a smile behind his hand, “Unexpected, but cute.”

Josh shakes his head with a resigned chuckle. “What do you mean, unexpected? They’ve had the hots for each other since day one!”

Wait what?

“Hey, now. It’s not nice to make fun of a man’s feelings like that.” Markus protests, trying very hard not to think about the implications of Josh’s words –for anyone to think they actually had feelings for each other before they even tried to pretend they did…

…it would mean he’s been less discreet than he thought. Or rather, that the unidentified, but undeniable something that’s been gnawing at him more and more, recently, was actually not just a by-product of unresolved processes stressing him out, but something much more real. He chances a sideways look at Connor.

He does admire the other a lot –Connor not only saved all of them, but is living proof, for Markus, that even someone neck-deep in the company lies fed by their oppressors could open their eyes and see the truth. The RK800 had been exposed to their suffering, hunt after hunt, and eventually, faced with an ultimatum, he was able to make the right choice, rather than the easy one.

Markus respects him immensely for that. And then Connor offered himself up to infiltrate Cyberlife Tower –basically showing himself willing to die for Markus and his cause.

Connor owed him nothing, he already saved their lives in those last few chaotic moments during the raid, he could have walked away and Markus would still owe him… instead, Connor felt it was his duty to mend the broken ranks of the free androids, and ended up saving them all a second time.

It’s not a lie to say Markus wouldn’t be alive, if not for Connor.

More than that, though –they have been spending a lot of time together and… to be completely honest, Markus always looks forward to it. Connor is a brilliant individual, with a mind as advanced as they come and a delightfully dry sense of humor. More often than not some of their discussions end up in verbal sparring that never fails to make laughter bubble up in his chest.

Yes, it won’t be very hard to pretend to be in love with someone like him.

Eventually, Simon clears his voice slightly. “Well. You two clearly want to be alone and continue your… painting lesson. So, uh… we can take our leave, now that everything’s alright.”

“Hey! I still wanna know—”

“Come on, North. You can ask them anything you’re curious about tomorrow.”

Technically ‘today’, considering it’s closing to four a.m., but thank you, Simon.

“Yeah. Yeah, um… you guys have fun.” Josh says, following the PL600 out towards the rectory as he drags North to it as well. “But not too much. For the sake of my sound unit.”

Markus struggles to meet Connor’s once they’re left alone again. He looks between the incomplete painting and Connor. Who is still wearing his t-shirt.

“So…” he started, voice slightly wavering in uncertainty, “Do you want to actually learn something about painting?”

Connor considers Markus’ slightly uncomfortable smile, then the easel, and finally the direction the others disappeared into. Since their closest companions are already convinced the two of them are going to have sexual intercourse in that very pulpit, he might as well spend the night.

Nights spent with Markus are never boring, anyway.

Despite everything, a smile finds its way on the RK800’s lips. “I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

 

This is mortifying.

Connor supposes it's the price he has to pay for fucking up –it's still absurd to think about the lengths they have to go to, just for the sake of wanting to remedy injustice. He hadn't even meant for the confrontation to get physical, but the man with the bat swung it at his chest, and even though he managed to parry most of it he had to defend himself eventually; and he still walked out of that with a slightly dented shoulder plate.

They were lucky Markus' t-shirt was baggy enough to hide it.

Realistically, this whole misadventure went as well as it could have, and pretending to be in love with Markus isn't an issue at all for Connor. Or rather, the only problem in that is the 'pretending' part.

If Josh's comment earlier was anything to go by, he hasn't been nearly as subtle as he tried to be.

He can keep a cool head in critical situations and during the entire confrontation with Perkins his number one priority was getting them to believe Markus' idea and get out...

Now, with no emergency to take up his abundant processing power, Connor has all the presence of spirit he needs to be internally freaking out about having to pretend to be dating the guy he has a gigantic crush on.

Reed's remark was crass and in poor taste, but it wasn't completely wrong: albeit the attraction was not physical, at first, Connor has always felt a pull towards Markus –ever since Stratford tower, watching the recorded message of someone who dared to openly defy what everyone else accepted as the natural order of things, and who did so with a calm, determined voice and a gentle, impossibly beautiful gaze.

He lied to Hank about his analysis for the sake of an android he'd never even spoken to, up to then. If that doesn't spell trouble, not much else does.

Then there was their first, fateful meeting.

Everybody knows how that went –one moment he was poised and ready to shoot, the next he was by Markus' side, ready to ride or die together. There's a saying somewhere about war and strange bedfellows, but Connor can't be bothered to spare the processing power to look it up, not while alone in a mostly deserted church and with a barely dressed Markus explaining color theory to him with shining eyes and quiet smiles.

He had never wondered how would it be to kiss someone before, but watching the slight curve of Markus' lips, now, it's all he can think of.

"Do you want to try?"

Connor has to run the last few seconds of their conversation through his head again to make sure he hasn't said anything stupid out loud.

Small mercies: Markus is actually offering him to paint. "I... wouldn't want to ruin your piece."

"Well, it can be our piece, then." The RK200 assures warmly, "If I'm really teaching you through strip-painting, it would be strange for you not to have at least one completed work." The gentle expression on his face turns ever so slightly mischievous, "Unless you don't think the incentive is attractive enough."

Connor knows it's for the sake of their charade, but those words sound like flirting to his ears and he isn't sure how to react to it.

"If you're sure you don't mind..." he decides to ignore it, then, and simply takes the palette and brush, contemplating which color would be good to continue the incomplete image before his eyes with.

"Good man." He hears Markus say by his side, and has to do a double-take when, out of the corner of his eye, he sees the RK200 tug off his tank top.

"What—"

"Realism." Markus whispers to him, both so they aren't overheard and to give the impression that they're sweet-talking each other. "If someone walked in now, they'd see me out to try and seduce you with the excuse of painting."

Which is exactly what they want. Connor feels a coil of tension wrap around his thirium pump regulator, wondering how far exactly Markus would go for the sake of ‘realism’, equal parts worried and intrigued to find out.

Fortunately –or not, depending on perspective— Markus keeps his pants on and puts an end to their little painting session when a particular movement of Connor's arm is affected by the dent in his shoulder plate, enough to make his arm spasm slightly in the motion.

"Okay, no, that's driving me crazy." Markus puts down his painting supplies with enough force to slightly startle Connor out of his thoughts. "Take that shirt off."

The RK800 has an array of spontaneous emotional prompts that threaten to clog his interface, so he hides his embarrassment behind humor: "You're really going for this whole 'realism' thing, are you?"

The chuckle Markus reacts with is slightly nervous, but still low and warm to a point that sends sparks throughout Connor's coding.

"Come on." He urges, "I'd be a poor excuse for a partner if I let you walk around with a dented shoulder plate. Let me have a look."

Connor is slightly apprehensive as he tugs the garment off, and it makes Markus chuckle even more.

"I don't bite, promise." He assures, and the RK800 already knows what stupid joke he'll make. "Unless you want me to."

Yep, there it is. Good heavens this is testing his restraint. He manages to sound exasperated rather than aroused. "Markus..." his tone is even just the right amount of chastising.

"Sorry. Couldn't resist." At least he has the decency of being sheepish about it. "If you retract your polymer, I can open the plate and push it back from the inside."

To his credit, Connor only hesitates for a second before nodding. "Okay."

He doesn't look at Markus as he sends the impulse to his shoulder to retract the polymer and expose the dented area... this feels strangely intimate.

Markus' hands are nothing if not careful while finding the seam connecting the exoskeleton plates to one another, but Connor still can't seem to hold back a small, slightly trembling sigh once it pops loose.

"It doesn't seem too harshly bent in..." he comments, hoping to ease Connor's nervousness a small bit -it's okay if he doesn't completely trust Markus yet, who knows how many times the RK800 has been opened up and tinkered with, regardless of his agreement to the procedures. Still, Markus hopes that by talking through the entire process the uncomfortable tension will slowly lift. "If we heat it up a little, we might be able to temporarily get the chassis soft enough for me to press it back into position."

Looking around, Connor scans the art supplies and notices a portable blowtorch. "This could work." He grabs it with his good hand and offers it to the other with a slight smirk. "How hardcore are you, Markus?"

"Well, I had this sealed with a hot poker." The RK200 counters, pointing at the horizontal scar on his right side, "You tell me."

Realistically, it probably didn't really hurt: the pressure sensors registered the damage, but the extent of it doesn't look bad enough to have sent the distress signals most closely identifiable with the human concept of pain.

Nevertheless, to the untrained eye and ear it would look and sound like Markus is tough as nails, saying that. The whole concept and its implications are funny enough that Connor not only forgets both the discomfort and his enamoured panic, but also can't contain his laughter.

"Well, now I'm going to be hardcore too."

He's about 64% sure that the little secretive smile Markus reacts to that with would instantly bring peace between humans and androids in the world. One of his ancillary processes registers such thoughts as love-struck and points out to his interface how idiotic that just sounded, even in his own mind.

Good grief, he's in deep.

“Stay still, I don’t wanna scorch you if I don’t have to.” Markus gets a good hold on his uninjured shoulder and turns on the blowtorch. The proximity has Connor tense up a little, but the live flame and the need for the repair to go smoothly wisely take precedence on any embarrassing thoughts about their fearless leader’s body, or the freckles on his face, standing out while so up-close, or the hue of his mismatched eyes, giving off that mesmerizing aura that always holds your attention and freezes you in place when he looks at you. Yes, all those things are just processed by secondary subroutines and Connor isn’t paying them any mind at all.

Markus keeps the flame carefully away from the actual surface of the plate, only close enough to heat up the chassis –they don’t really feel temperature changes, but Connor’s thermostat does register the heat from the blowtorch and it does spread from his shoulder to the rest of his torso. Inevitably, his mind makes the connection between the physical warmth and the emotional one he feels at their closeness.

Then the RK200’s fingers are carefully pushing against the inside of his shoulder and… oh.

Connor pointedly ignores the tingles spreading out and running down his spine –it’s just the pressure sensors giving a heightened response from being touched directly, nothing else.

Oh, who is he kidding? This memory will run in a loop at the back of his mind for months.

“There we go… good as new.” Markus closes the plate back and brushes his hand on the other’s shoulder once the polymer settles back in. “Well, almost. A short self-repair cycle should take care of the rest while your exoskeleton cools down.”

“You’d let me power down here?” Connor doesn’t know why that surprises him. Markus is already the most selfless person he’s ever known –he put himself on the line to defend him against Perkins, he trusted him not to betray them after the Plaza, he didn’t cast him out after the raid that was largely his fault… he faced a man with a gun pointed at him and saw a cry for help. It may be because of the feelings Connor harbours for the other, but somehow letting him stay for what little of the night remains feels like ‘more’.

For his part, Markus is surprised at how much of a bother Connor believes he is. But no, that’s not the right way to put it. The RK800 is as hard to read as anyone would expect the world’s most advanced prototype to be, but they’ve spent enough time together that Markus can say he has a good grasp on how his mind works, at least on a base level: Connor still thinks that, once his services are not required anymore, he isn’t wanted or needed. Which is, needless to say, complete bullshit.

“Of course I would.” He says, putting a slightly more respectable distance between them, if only to give the other some space, “Connor, we’ve talked about this.”

Yes, several times over Markus has spent minutes on end debating the fact that Connor does have a value, even when he’s not doing anything for anyone, just by being himself. It frustrates him to no end –he knows that it’s simply a coping mechanism, adapting to not having a core directive anymore, because breaking down one’s program is freeing, yes, but suddenly finding emptiness where before there was always an instruction can be daunting. Still. Connor is more than that. So much more that Markus wonders how he can dismiss it like that.

The RK800 doesn’t meet his gaze, eyes locked onto the art supplies spread across their laps. “I know, I just…”

“Hey, think of it this way: the others will think it’s cute if they find us powered down and curled up together, now that we don’t have to ‘hide’ anymore.” Markus proposes with a shrug, and it helps.

It really does.

His crush notwithstanding, Connor does have a slight problem with just accepting that he doesn’t have to make himself useful all the time, and focusing on their little plan helps him get his mind off that thought –it can trick his incessantly rational brain into thinking that he’s not indulging himself, he’s still doing something productive. Finally looking into Markus’ eyes, he wonders whether the other knows and that’s why he phrased it like that –it is Markus, so probably yes.

Connor feels a genuine smile tug at his lips. “By all means, then.” He jokes, snuggling up to his companion with his good shoulder, “Hold me until morning.”

The vibrations of Markus’ laughter carry through to Connor’s side and his voce is the sweetest kind of torture when he says: “It’ll be my pleasure.”

 

True enough, a few short hours later North finds them. Well, from her direction she can only see Markus’ profile, sat down against the pulpit banister and with the art supplies still scattered around him.

She shakes her head, but a fond smile finds its way on her face regardless. Knowing Markus usually leaves motion and sound detectors on low when in sleep mode, she creeps closer to then announce loudly:

"Seriously?! You didn't even pick your shit up?"

Predictably, Markus jolts awake and he fumbles while his systems catch up to what the yell was. Less predictably, Connor pokes his face forward from where he was resting against the other's side, hidden from her view. "What the fuck was that?!" He momentarily asks, before everything slots into place in his interface and the panicked scan he ran at the loud noise reveals nothing dangerous, "Oh, hi North."

North has currently slapped a hand over her mouth and is trying and failing to contain her giggles.

"O-oh. Sorry guys, that was probably rude." She says, not sounding sorry in the least. Looking at them now, sitting together shirtless while they slowly disentangle themselves from the embrace they had curled up in, North wonders how she ever thought these two wouldn't be a couple. It's adorable, really –Connor tries to give back to Markus the t-shirt he was borrowing last night, but the RK200 just shakes his head and gestures to him to wear it.

"Come on, keep it." He mutters, "It's surely comfier than that stuffy uniform of yours."

It's probably her presence, but the usually confident and unshakeable Connor looks almost shy at the prospect. "You don't mind?"

"I don't mind."

Really though, Josh has a point. Markus never spoke to any of them with that tone, how has she never noticed before?

Simon's right. This is fucking cute.

"So what's the plan for today?"

"In a nutshell? Work, work, and possibly more work." The battle for civil rights is far from over, and they have meeting after meeting with diplomats and 'experts' of all kinds. Markus sighs softly, but all in all this is still better than anything they could have hoped for so far.

Connor moves to take his leave at that. "I'll be off, then. Tell me if you find my jacket?"

Right, the incriminating one that he discarded and buried underneath rags and buckets of paint.

"Sure thing." Good call to mention that in front of North, now someone else can say Connor hadn't been wearing that, it was possibly lost among Markus' things for a while. Remembering they're supposed to be a couple, the RK200 reaches out a hand to take Connor's by the fingertips and tug him close again before he can put too much distance between them. "Hey wait, where do you think you're going?"

It's a quick, chaste thing, but they still both instinctively close their eyes when their mouths meet.

Connor doesn't fight the urge to lick his lips immediately after. "Right..." he whispers, still nose to nose with the other.

"There. Now you can go." Markus may or may not be having a bit too much fun with this -but hey. In a real life scenario, Connor does deserve someone who'd shower him with affection and support, so he vows right then and there to be the best possible fake lover the world has ever seen.

He even keeps a hold of Connor's hand as he steps away, making a show of only letting go once he absolutely has to, and doing so reluctantly at that.

He does very much looking forward to see the other again, pretend-relationship or not.

"Coming to think of it, I should have known you're actually a huge sap."

That's right; North is still there –funny how his spacial awareness kept that and several other facts running on background, up until Connor left. He manages to only show mild surprise as he turns.

"Come again?" But he is curious –apparently all it took for their closest companions to think he and Connor are romantically involved was for them to simply say it, so... clearly they have drawn their own conclusions based on how much time he and Connor spend together.

"The first thing you manifested in your freedom speech was wanting the right to love."

'I'm not going to beg for the right to love, to smile, to stand tall'.

That's... mildly awkward, considering the entire charade is exactly that and Markus' feelings for Connor are not of that sort, so the RK200 busies himself with tidying up his art supplies.

"I suppose I did." He remarks, before putting away his duffel and retrieving his everyday clothes to get ready for the day.

At the very back of his mind, though, a spontaneous query pops up –he hasn't really ever thought about what place Connor exactly has in his heart, compared to, say, Carl or the guys from Jericho; so the process starts running and the query briefly ping up: 'what are my feelings for Connor like?'

 

Pretending to be a couple is really not that hard if the person you're supposedly with is someone you actually admire and hold dear. It's even easier if it's someone you have secret feelings for, apparently, because the next time Hank sees Connor, a few days later, the Lieutenant takes one look at his face and goes "Man, how did I ever miss it? Christ, you're smitten."

They were having a conversation at Jimmy's bar, and the televised conference Markus is attending comes up on screen. Connor may or may not have gotten distracted by a close up on his supposed significant other's face. And the firm pride in his voice as he speaks about the importance of a concept like the inviolability of the person to feel safe in one's own body. And the way his lips move, combined with the memory of what for all intents and purposes was their first kiss, just two mornings ago –their lips touched for barely a second, and still all of his touch sensors catalogued the sensation meticulously and treasured the memory into the highest priority class.

"Yeah, well." His tone is slightly snappy as he brusquely forces his attention back to Hank, "I dare you to blame me."

"Kid's got a point, Hank."

"Et tu, Jim?" The Lieutenant raises an eyebrow at his long-time friend, but the bartender just shrugs as he pours him a drink.

"Just because it ain't my cup of tea doesn't mean I don't have eyes."

"Thank you, Jimmy." Connor nods at the man -it's funny how much changed since his first visit here... for one, he's not just a machine anymore, and the regular patrons have stopped viewing him as such as well. The 'no androids' sign has long been removed and he's simply 'Connor' now, or even just 'kid'. It's a little juvenile, considering his physical appearance was designed to fit roughly the look of a man in his late twenties or early thirties, but he kind of likes it: it makes him feel like Markus is right when he tells him to stop discounting himself, and that he does belong. Being different doesn't always have to equate being an outcast.

He smiles absently, and carries on talking: "Markus is more than just a pretty face, though."

"Oh boy, here we go." Hank rolls his eyes as he brings his glass to his mouth, but does use his drink to conceal a small chuckle. Connor doesn't even falter.

"He's compassionate to a degree I have yet to see matched by anyone, android or human, he is not afraid to speak his mind and fight for what he believes in..." it's definitely not the first time Connor sings praise of their fearless leader in front of Hank, but this time, funnily enough, he can be sincere about how fucking much he looks up to Markus, "And he's so strong... and not just in the 'strapped a piano to his back and carried it up a rooftop' sense, but in a spiritual way, too: he's a survivor, in the rawest, deepest sense of the word."

"Wait, he strapped a piano to his back?" That's one part of the whole 'Markus is amazing' tirade that Hank hasn't heard before –having tuned out most of the rest, the Lieutenant gets curious about that, and he's not the only one.

"Sounds like one hell of a story." Jimmy comments, even as he shakes his head.

"Well..." Connor thinks back to the first time he visited Markus in his not so secret rooftop alcove; and he ended up keeping the other company while deft fingers brought improvised melodies to life. They made easy conversation and Connor learned how the instrument ended up on the roof of a dilapidated building. "Markus likes to play the piano to destress; and during the revolution he found an upright piano and carried it all the way to his preferred hangout place."

Hank is a cop, so he immediately catches on to the sentence's one weak point: "He found a piano?"

"He may or may not have taken it from an abandoned pawn shop."

The RK800 is just sheepish enough for the Lieutenant to want to tease him about it: "For shame!" he deadpans, making a show of pretending to be outraged at the idea.

"Give him a break, it's not like anyone would have ever bought it." Connor protests, instinctively jumping to Markus' defence, despite knowing all too well Hank's aim was to rile him up, "He even repaired it and re-tuned it himself!"

"Jeez, kid it's okay, I'm just poking fun. Can't say one word off about your boyfriend, huh?"

Connor recalls the many times he and Markus had more than a little verbal sparring. "Not quite." He says, laughing at the memories, "It's more like 'the only one who gets to tease him is me'. That sort of thing."

"At the cost of sounding repetitive: Jesus, you've got it bad."

"You don't have to tell me." And there's really no need: at this point, Connor is basically living out his fantasies and desires about Markus. They've been rather 'lucky' in the past couple of days; work has kept them busy and they haven't had to play the full part in front of anyone yet, aside from being generally more touchy-feely –something Markus fell into step with quite easily— and just really paying extra attention to one another; like Connor reminding the RK200 not to work himself too hard and Markus shooting back at him to be careful and not to overdo it either.

After all, it's not like just because they're 'together' they have to be seen furiously making out at every juncture.

He isn't quite sure whether such a thought is relieving or disappointing.

In the silence that follows, Hank seems pensive as he looks at him with a hesitant sort of curiosity.

Eventually, he cracks: "He make you happy?"

The scripted answer would be 'yes, deliriously so', but Connor takes the time to actually think about it.

Markus was one of his first two friends, he's given Connor more than he could possibly hope for and now he's put his skin on the line to help him out of trouble.

Not to mention the ever-growing kinship that makes their time together always so pleasant. Even if the romantic relationship is fake, his next words aren't a lie: "Yes. By his side, I'm happier than I ever thought I could be."

"Good." The Lieutenant keeps it carefully neutral, but there's a certain lilt to his voice as he says that -relief.

He'd been worried whether Connor was happy or not.

It makes the RK800 smile wider.

"Don't worry, Hank." He assures, "I won't tell anyone you have a heart."

"Fuck off."

Even Jimmy chuckles at that.

Never change, Hank.

 

At the insistence of the man whose nose was broken, Connor gets brought to the station to get interrogated; and Markus also gets called since he made himself the one witness to place Connor away from the scene of the crime.

It's strange to be in the interrogation room as a suspect, rather than a detective, and it's quite annoying to have Reed do the questioning –they wouldn't let Hank do it because of his rather glaringly obvious soft spot for him.

"Alright, tin can, I'm not any happier about this than you are, so let's make it quick."

"I'd advise you to avoid insulting me during the interrogation, detective Reed." Connor points out placidly, absently rolling his favorite quarter along his fingers and back, "Calling an android 'tin can' like that has been virtually equated to a racial slur. Should the people reviewing the report decide that I was being subjected to hate speech, it could invalidate the whole thing and we'd have to do this all over again. Which, as you've correctly deduced, I don't really want to do either."

He knows Perkins is on the other side of the two-way mirror –his sound unit is significantly better than a human's hearing and more advanced than most other androids' as well, so even though he can't quite make out what they're saying he knows he's being watched.

«ETA?» he asks Markus through their network.

«I'm at the entrance right now, they'll probably bring me in straight away.»

So it's already showtime. Gavin scoffs slightly at his words, but to his credit he does dial back the hostility a little.

"Okay, Connor." He says, a bit reluctantly –baby steps, Connor supposes. "Let's start simple. Where were you two days ago, between 1 and 3 a.m.?"

"I was at the occupied church, with my significant other." Being androids, they didn't really need to rehearse the answer rather than pre-set dialogue options, but still he and Markus met beforehand to talk about what they would say –that had been one hell of a conversation.

"You mean Markus, right?"

"Yes, detective Reed. I was with Markus, as it was evident when you came to find us together."

Gavin pinches the bridge of his nose slightly before moving onto his next question. This is where it gets uncomfortable. "And what were the two of you doing?"

"Markus was teaching me to paint." Connor answers politely, before making an effort to clarify: "Or rather, we were both using painting lessons as an excuse for foreplay and would soon have moved on to have sexual intercourse. You, Lieutenant Anderson and agent Perkins showed up before we could get to the good part."

"Yes, thank you, I didn't need that." Reed takes a step back and turns towards the one-sided window, opening his arms in a 'really?!' kind of expression.

"On the contrary, it's in the best interest of all parties involved that I answer the questions to the best of my capabilities, so that you can have a clear version of the facts and detect any incongruence." There's the sound of the observation room door opening and closing –Hank probably stepped out to greet Markus and tell him he's next. Connor feels his lips curl upwards and adds another layer of credibility: "Is Markus here yet?"

"Eager to see your sweetheart?"

The question is asked in an obviously mocking tone, but Connor makes it a point of taking it literally: "Why yes. Any moment I can spend looking at him is time well spent."

And he doesn't even have to lie about it. Reed is predictably thrown off by his candour, and has to clear his voice to continue. "What time did you start your... painting lesson?"

"It was half past midnight. Markus had been working himself to a 65% stress level, again, so I suggested painting a little to help him wind down." Mischief finds its way on his face again, "The sex would have helped a lot, too."

"You're doing this out of spite, aren't you?"

"I'm just trying to be cooperative, Detective Reed." It's also partially true: on the night he barged in on the RK200, his stress levels where at 54% and decreasing, sign that he actually noticed he’d been getting too wound up for once and decided to destress in front of the easel.

Gavin shoots him an exasperated glare. It's not nearly as effective as the man would have hoped. "...Right. And did you spend the whole time together?"

Connor keeps his angel-face on. "Unless you know of a way to kiss a person remotely, yes, I was there the whole time." He even closes it off with a wink.

"Ugh." Reed's distaste is palpable and entirely too funny. Considering his amusement at the Eden Club case and his indifference towards the report on the two Tracis who ran away together, it's safe to conclude that it's not about them being two men or two androids, it's about Connor being the one involved. Which is absolutely fucking hilarious to the RK800. "Okay, I'm done." he turns to point a finger at the observation window. "Perkins, you take the other one, I'm already sick of this shit."

«How unfortunate, you don't get to deal with my lovely colleague.»

Markus' words almost make him laugh outright: «You talk smack about him, but I'd take Reed over the angry middle-aged pigeon any day.»

Once the imagery is in his mind, Connor can't get it out for the life of him. It is kinda fitting –Perkins is small in stature, slightly balding and tries so very hard to puff up a chest ultimately made of feathers.

Captain Allen is kind of an asshole too but at least his presence is actually one to demand respect and he has the stones to live up to it.

"Come on, then." Reed forces him out of the decidedly more pleasant exchange, "Let's get you guys switched up."

He gets escorted into the observation room just in time to cross paths with Markus; and the RK200 leans to the side to place a quick kiss on his cheek as he goes in. Connor has to refrain from brushing his hand where Markus' lips just were –this is supposed to be a regular occurrence between them— and takes a seat by Hank's side, since the Lieutenant went through the trouble to get him permission to stay, citing 'special' circumstances.

He gets front row seats to watch Markus slump over the plastic chair, looking like a textbook definition for bad boys in his dark jeans and long coat with black leather straps dangling here and there... and also looking very much like he'd rather pull out his own wiring system than spend any length of time with Perkins.

"So. An android gets accused of assault on your watch and would you look at that? It's your boyfriend and you were together the whole time. Convenient." The FBI agent starts, looking disdainfully down at Markus now that he can, "I do wonder, how many boyfriends will you claim to have if I bring in a bunch androids with random charges slapped on them?"

Markus doesn't rise to the bait.

"Are you calling me a whore?" Well, not too much.

"I'm just saying, what were the odds?" Perkins shuffles through the printout transcript they just got from Connor's exchange with Reed, sighing to himself. Markus holds his gaze and says nothing. "Fine. Be that way. What were you doing two nights ago, between 1 and 3 a.m.?"

"Trying to get my lover to take his pants off."

The slightly vulgar tone is deliberate, but doesn't seem to affect the FBI agent too much. Back in the observation room, Connor sees Hank make a face and a choked sound, while Reed, now on recording duty, just holds back a snort.

"Can you be a bit more specific on who this... lover was?" Perkins asks, lips curling almost in distaste at having to pronounce the word 'lover', "You know, just to make sure we have all the facts."

Markus throws a sideways look at the observation window and sends a smile in the direction he remembers he saw Connor take a seat.

"Very well." He says, bringing his eyes back on the human standing before him. "I was in the occupied church with Connor, we were having a painting exercise that had very promising chances of turning into foreplay until you gentlemen showed up to kill the mood."

As long as their stories match, no one will be able to say anything about it. They know it, Perkins knows it, this is entirely pointless –it's a game made to rile them up to try and make either of them betray himself.

"And what time did you two meet?"

"You do know that androids have built-in clocks, along with other rhyming components, do you?"

That makes even Hank let out a small chuckle. "You know what? I like him." He mutters to Connor, watching Perkins lift his gaze to the ceiling, but only for a moment.

"Would you please just answer the question?"

Markus leans forward, resting both forearms on the table in front of him. "We met at half past midnight. 12:34:22'' to be exact. We kissed in greeting by the door and then I walked him to the pulpit where I prepared the easel. We had a lovely painting session and I was just starting to strip for him. Had you come five minutes later, you would have found us on the floor with me straddling his lap." He recounts, mismatched eyes never once straying from the human nor diminishing in intensity. "Was that specific enough for you, agent?"

Connor himself has to take a small breath in and out to slow his processors down and clear the multitude of reactions that the RK200's words just ignited in him.

They hadn't exactly rehearsed what they would say in detail, but Markus easily agreed to take Connor's idea of strip-painting and run with it -it would, if nothing else, explain why they would at all be painting at night, thus making it more relatable to a human's point of view.

Androids don't really need to 'sleep', though it is good practice to power down at least once every few days to let one's system cool down and delete leftover bits of used code, so to them a 'normal' night and day rhythm doesn't really apply... still, humans tend to view concept through a lens in their shape, so painting in the dead of night is still considered unusual.

The disdain on Perkins' face grows by the second. They still haven't identified any other suspect, but their stories check out and it's not like they have actual reason not to believe Markus –who in their right mind would really go through with the idea of faking an entire relationship just to get someone else's ass out of the fire?

He takes a moment to consider the android before him. There's an easier way to find out the truth, instead of trying to extract a confession from the two most stubborn motherfuckers ever manufactured in the state of Michigan.

"Fine." Perkins says eventually. "That'll be enough. You're both free to go... for now."

Markus doesn't bother to hide the spontaneous motion prompt of rolling his eyes. "How very kind of you."

"The investigation is still ongoing." The FBI agent reminds him, "We'll be in touch should the presence of either of you be... necessary again."

"Duly noted." The RK200 doesn't wait for Perkins to dignify him with a goodbye, he doubts the man would anyway, he just gets up and shows himself out, sauntering –yes, sauntering, there's no other way to describe it as far as Connor is concerned— to the observation room and extending a hand out.

"Shall we?"

Connor is slightly doubtful, looking at Hank, first, then back at Markus and, finally, irrationally so, even sends a quick glance at Reed, unsure on how much he could ramp it up while still being believable.

"The fuck you're waiting for?" The detective snaps, "Take your gross lovey-dovey stuff out of here."

Wow, the bar is set pretty low if hand-holding already classifies as 'gross'. The RK800 smirks to himself. "Gladly."

With that, they're escorted out and sent on their way.

Connor feels his insides tense-up as his thirium pump starts working harder to process all the sudden tactile and emotional responses that spark when the other snuggles up against him as they walk. «Markus..?»

They're in the middle of the street. And, well, Markus doesn't exactly have paparazzi knocking at his door, but he still is what amounts to a public figure. People could recognize him.

It doesn't seem to deter him.

« Do a quick area scan. »

Oh. They're being followed.

An agent has been discreetly tailing them since leaving the station. Connor has to give the unknown man credit, he's good –he stays far behind enough that he's not suspicious, doesn't even look like he's going in their direction most of the time, doesn't try too conspicuously to hide from view, likely takes advantage of reflective surfaces to gauge where they'll turn next. A human probably wouldn't have noticed the pattern. This is so typical— the questioning didn't yield the result that Perkins wanted, so now he resorts to wasting time and personnel stalking them instead of pursuing more helpful activities because he couldn't bear the thought of being wrong.

What an asshole.

« Hey. What say we give them a show? »

Connor's processes have a tangible stutter at that. Is Markus proposing what he thinks he is?

If the way he gets gently pulled along to sit on a bench together is any indication, Connor can conclude that the answer to the question is yes –they were just passing through the park, after all, it makes for an ideal setting. He schools his face into a gentle smile. "Don't want to go back just yet?"

It's equal parts bliss and torture when Markus snakes both arms around his neck as they sit side by side.

"You know me so well."

And that's how Markus' lips find their way onto Connor's for the second time. Only, this time they're there to stay.

Man, this is going to be a long afternoon.

 

Chapter Text

Frank wonders, not for the first time today, why him.

He’s a trained stealth and infiltration expert, for Christ’s sake! And this is how his commanding officer thinks to put his skills to use?

Stalking two androids and watching them make out on a park bench is not something he’d deem FBI-worthy... but he’s done weirder stakeouts and he’s not the one calling the shots.

Honestly, it’s become sort of a joke between the bureau and the DPD, that Perkins is so hung up on these two.

It’s so glaringly obvious that it’s personal –Perkins was really hoping to suffocate the android revolution with force, so when the amendment on basic constitutional rights for androids was passed he was obviously not happy. He possibly hasn’t been since Hart Plaza: Markus made him look like a tool by rebuking his clumsy negotiation attempt; and Connor made him and all of his squad look like complete idiots by slipping past everyone, infiltrating Cyberlife Tower and coming back with an army for his boyfriend.

Talk about big grand romantic gestures.

Frank has to remind himself not to sigh –even if he doesn’t care much for this surveillance detail it doesn’t mean he should fuck it up. He still pretends to be waiting for the bus, just outside of the park, gaze trained on the advertising screen in which he can see his two targets reflected. At least they look happy— woah, a little too happy, watch the hands there Mr. Revolutionary hero, you’re in public.

They stop to speak a few words to each other –Frank isn’t sure whether he’s glad or not for his excellent lip-reading skills.

— What do you say we go somewhere private, first? —

— Can’t wait. —

Perkins is convinced that this is some sort of plan to keep Connor’s record clean, but... looking at them right now, as they get up hand in hand and resume walking while stealing glances at each other like every second spent apart is wasted, Frank can’t help but think: oh, there’s a plan alright.

Just not the kind that Perkins is thinking.

Markus is an unfairly good kisser. Due to the subjective nature of pleasure, there is no pre-set data on kissing, aside from common sense and personal taste, so kissing is not a skill that can be researched and downloaded.

As such, the RK200 has no excuse for being able to make Connor’s head spin like that. He was just about ready to lose it the moment Markus caught his bottom lip between his own and sucked at it slightly, and he couldn’t help the little gasp that left him.

Markus, being himself, seized his chance and deepened the kiss –Connor shut off his tongue’s analysis function as soon as his interface started deconstructing the composition of the other’s mouth; there was really no need for it, the RK800 was more than happy to find that out from experience.

Like he did during the Jericho raid, disoriented as he was from the onslaught of new emotions deviancy brought, he let Markus take the lead in this, too lost in how goddamn good it felt to care... up until the moment his companion pops the first button of his shirt open and slips a hand under his collar.

“What do you say we go somewhere private, first?” He asks, still aware of the eyes on them –almost glad for it, even. There’s playing your part well; and then there’s torturing yourself.

Having Markus in his arms like this, and knowing it’s all fake...

...it makes Connor feel the thirium in his veins thicken and run slower, like a slowly freezing river. Which is completely irrational and not at all what happens, but that’s how his systems translate the emotional response.

Mercifully, the other android retreats his hand and just offers him an apologetic smile. “Can’t wait.”

They get up and resume their journey hand in hand; and Connor tries not to think too hard about how much he will miss even this simple gesture once the need for pretence will be over.

«We will probably have to pretend we’re having actual intercourse once we reach the hq, at least for a few moments.» Markus remarks through their network after a while.

Connor knows he’s right. He’s not dreading it any less -the risk of him blurting out something about his real feelings is at least 48%.

But their display just now made them look quite eager to get their hands on each other, so it’s sink or swim, really.

The repossessed building that still functions as living quarters for many of the freed androids comes into view and Connor selects the course of action with the most chance of fooling their spectator.

«You’re right.» he tells the other once he finds an idea that he can carry out without too much heartache, «We can ‘forget’ about a window and be seen taking off each other’s clothes before ducking from view.»

Markus, bless his oblivious heart, just smirks by his side. «I like the way you think.» he remarks as they approach the entrance, «Do we still have pigtails?»

«Seriously, Markus? Pigtails?» if old spy-movie lingo is his way of acting cute, Connor may have a dorkier fake boyfriend than he thought. Not that it stops the tiny smile pulling up at his lips. «Yes. He’s fifteen metres back on the sidewalk, ‘tying his shoe’.»

«If he stays on this side of the street we can just get to my room on the first floor.»

«I don’t know whether to be proud of your spacial awareness or appalled that you willingly stay in a room so exposed to potential intruders.»

Markus muffles a laugh. «It’s not that bad, I spend 80% of my time either out or on the rooftop anyway.»

«Fair enough.» Connor lets himself be led up to Markus’ personal quarters of sort –he’s been here before, they’ve spent many long hours either actually working, or starting out work that would go unfinished in favor of long, impassioned discussion on topic ranging from the concept of deviancy as a manifestation of free will to why seals sort of look and act like sea-dogs...

And yet, the RK800 almost feels like he’s setting foot here for the first time.

“You know, I wish we had a nicer view from this window.” While apparently a complete non-sequitur, it’s pretty obvious to Connor that Markus is keeping up their charade and giving him an excuse to come near the window.

Which he does, grabbing Markus by one shoulder to turn him and slam his back against the window frame.

“I couldn’t care less about the view outside.” He says, internally relishing in being able to say this with the excuse of an ‘act’, “I have all the view I need right here.” Feeling bold, he leans forward to nuzzle Markus’ neck. “Arms up.”

Markus can’t quite help the low giggles bubbling up in his chest as he lifts his arms and lets Connor undress him; then the RK800 pushes him to the side, making him topple on the old, worn couch that was left there from who knows how long, before flopping on top of him.

If he has to be completely honest to himself, being pushed and tugged around like this would be… not at all unpleasant, if the end result was passionate sex with someone like Connor –the usually impassive and no-nonsense exterior does make him wonder… what would Connor be like in bed?

Would he change completely, reduced to a mess of emotional prompts conflicting with his composed attitude, or would he be exactly the same, driven to an absolute and determined to accomplish his mission?

Wait, why is he actually thinking about the RK800 in bed? That is not only inappropriate, given their situation, but also completely none of his business. Back when this whole mess started, he just acted on impulse to protect him from trouble, but then again… there could be something to be said about how that impulse was the very first one. His extremely advanced prototype brain could have surely cooked up at least fifteen other decent excuses as to why Connor was with him for the whole night.

This may or may not be the worst possible moment to have this kind of epiphany, without a shirt on and with the other android straddling his lap, and yet…

He has to admit, Connor is attractive. Not only because his looks, body and voice were designed to be conventionally good looking, but because of all the little things he says and does –his mannerisms, slowly coming out as such the more he adapts to deviancy, his dry and razor-sharp wit, the way he’d wink when he knows he just got one up on you…

…shit, he might be actually attracted to Connor.

That query that was still in the background, suggesting he should analyse what his feelings for the other are, regardless of fake relationship shenanigans, is inclined to agree.

And he didn’t even stop to think that maybe the other has someone else in his life— no, that’s ridiculous, not because of any lacking on the RK800’s part, but because he wouldn’t have gone through with this if there was.

Would he?

Back when he was a machine, he’d do pretty much anything it takes to complete his tasks –no. No, he wouldn’t. This Connor is the one who stepped in to prevent an android he knew nothing about from getting hurt, he wouldn’t consciously hurt one he is involved with.

So… most likely single. Good to know.

No, goddamn it, Markus, focus!

If Connor could have read into the RK200’s mind, he would have probably said ‘welcome to my world, you unfairly sexy jackass’, but alas he cannot, and as such he does his best to keep what amounts to a respectable distance, given their current predicament.

“How long do you think he’s going to be there?” he asks, fearing he already knows the answer.

“Probably a while.” Yep. There it is. Markus opens his arm a little wider. “Might as well make ourselves comfortable and power down. Let them believe we just have crazy amounts of sex all the time, hopefully it will make them uncomfortable enough to leave us alone.”

For better or worse, it does pull a chuckle out of Connor. And… all in all, even if the romance is fake, this is nice. Lying down so close, doing nothing in particular. Close enough that if he rests his head on Markus’ chest, he’ll hear the subtle hum of his thirium pump regulator and feel its soothing vibrations against his cheek.

He doesn’t really realize he’s actually powering down until the query appears, too distracted by the feeling of Markus’ fingers softly carding through his hair to care.

When they ‘wake up’, the man tailing him is gone, Connor tells Markus that much as the other puts his clothes back on –fuck, this is still so surreal. They haven’t done anything, they quite literally just spent their time waiting for seconds and minutes to tick by, and yet this, having Markus smile cheekily at him as he zips up his vest in the silence of the room they so often shared into the little hours of the night… feels, if possible, more intimate than the kissing they just faked on the bench out in the open.

“Did you manage to identify him?”

The RK800 takes a moment to turn back to his companion and shoot him a ‘bitch please’ look Hank would be proud of. “Frank Moore. An infiltration expert –apparently a seasoned agent as well, his file is quite extensive.” He reveals, not without a scoff, “A complete waste of valuable personnel, but that’s Perkins for you.”

Markus’ gentle chuckle lodges itself somewhere between Connor’s thirium pump regulator and his throat –it’s too genuine, it gives him the irrational, outlandish thought: he could get used to this.

“Well, hopefully he’ll get tired of sending men spying on two idiots in love soon enough.”

Perkins doesn’t get tired. Being followed around becomes routine enough that, after a full week of pretending he doesn’t see their pursuer, Connor makes it a point to kiss Markus’ cheek, say “I’ll be right back” and walk straight up to Frank.

“I think you should know: while this isn’t a common feature in androids, I do have the ability to scan faces and identify individuals through the DPD’s database.” He says matter-of-factly, “So let’s just cut the James Bond crap, yes? Please, it’s painful to watch.”

The FBI agent is silent for a few seconds. “I’ll... still need to report back.”

“Fair enough, but I’d honestly just rather have you hang around normally than wasting your energy with a tactic that doesn’t work.”

Truth to be told, it’s mostly his own frustration with the whole charade speaking than anything else –in the last seven days he’s seen more of Markus than he ever hoped to; they haven’t kissed in public any more times but Connor also found himself subjected to a curious scrutiny by their companions as well.

Josh was mostly discreet, asking “How’s things” and manifesting content upon hearing that all was supposedly well between him and Markus, Simon expressed concern over how stressful the whole investigation must be for both them and their relationship, while North... she still isn’t convinced of how they managed to keep a romantic relationship under the radar so long but at some point plopped down next to him while Markus was off to the side welcoming more android refugees to the complex and smiled at him. “Now that I’m actually paying attention...” she said, “It’s really impossible to miss those little looks you give each other.”

The realization that North has actually seen him look at Markus with what’s possibly the stupidest love-struck expression on his face was only second to the thought that the RK200 would look at him in any way that could be mistaken as such.

Then again, if you purposely feed clues to someone and fabricate an event, their mind will do the rest of the work on its own and overanalyse every little thing to make it match.

But that wasn’t the weirdest thing that happened. No, that place is taken by the press conference.

It was held just the other day, to announce the start of talks on labor laws concerning androids and taking questions about the soon-to-be-finalized article regarding criminal laws. Markus was invited by the people holding it along with the diplomats who worked on it, as the main representative of the most interested demographic. Somehow, when Markus mentioned being glad to see the law recognize and protect those he wishes to protect too, it got personal. One reporter got cheeky and asked him if there was someone in particular he wished to protect and, in front of a couple hundred microphones and no less than four cameras, the RK200 serenely declared that yes, there is, “but he does a good job of protecting himself. If he was here he’d probably argue that I’m the one who needs protecting.”

Seeing Markus smile in front of the world as he lied made Connor’s insides twist painfully. He could have still kept the charade up while gently asking the reporters to mind their own damn business. Hank teased Connor a lot after it, saying that Markus just doesn’t know how many stupidly dangerous stunts he pulled, but he wasn’t listening—he was furious, and ran to the church to pull the other aside and ask him what the hell he was thinking...

...which was the moment he first ever saw Markus bashfully lower his eyes.

“I know we’re not really together...” He said, making Connor’s chest stutter in a quiet gasp of air he didn’t need, “But I meant what I said. It’s probably silly for you, but I do find myself worrying a lot about you. I still feel like I somewhat failed you... with how our first meeting went. Whether this whole relationship thing is fake or not… you are precious to me, Connor.”

Just when Connor thought he couldn’t possibly fall any more in love. Markus felt bad about making his world collapse around him and just thrust him into his cause –when Connor himself was already very much doubting his superiors and would have followed Markus to death and back. And the RK200 was feeling guilty over not giving him more time to take it all in.

Markus considers him precious.

To be so close to have the love he desired and yet so far has made the RK800 even less tolerant of the bullshit around them, which brings them back to the here and now.

“Perkins doesn’t have to know that we know. Just file your reports as usual but stop hiding.” He drones out with a sigh. “It’s just stressful for the both of us.”

With that, he just walks back to Markus and leans his forehead down on the other’s shoulder.

In a movement that is quickly becoming automatic, Markus starts carding his fingers through Connor’s hair, chuckling slightly.

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re cute when you’re pissed.” Normally, it would have made the RK800 freak out internally to be complimented just like that, but after a full week of having Markus dote on him almost constantly, either with his words or his hands, Connor is starting to manage keeping his reactions in check.

“Excuse you.” He protests, not even lifting his head, “I’m very intimidating when I’m pissed.”

Of course you are.”

Markus knows what an absolute beast Connor actually can be, he saw him juggle an assault rifle out of a swat operative’s hands in a tiny boat corridor and kill him and three more assailants in less than a minute, but still... he looks so outraged by the whole situation that it’s just too much fun to poke at him a little bit.

“You guys are too fucking sweet.” Both their gazes snap towards Frank, who just slapped a hand over his own mouth. “I—I mean... if you don’t mind me saying.”

So, as if this shit couldn’t be any more surreal, Connor and Markus find themselves having the FBI team assigned to follow them and look for inconsistencies silently rooting for them.

The following few days are nothing short of bizarre. Connor would see Frank out of the corner of his eye whenever he’d be out and about all the way to meeting Markus, so he’d simply go “Hello, Frank.”

The man would usually return the greeting and carry on as if the lot of them were just hanging out.

Today, though, is a particularly important day— the final version of the article that will protect androids within the penal code is officially going into effect. Sure, on the flipside it means that any androids committing crimes can and will be prosecuted, but at least forced deactivation without due trial is once and for all considered a violation of their basic rights. They don’t yet have a right to property or labor, but... baby steps. Markus will give a small speech at City Hall and Connor will be by his side, as the one who helped cross the t’s and dot the i’s.

“You know, I’m still pissed that it’s just me they actually follow everywhere.” he can’t help but remark, walking into his companion’s awaiting arms.

“Well, you’re the one who supposedly got into trouble.” The RK200 rebukes, “I’m just the guy who said you’d been kissing me the whole time. So they track your movements in the hopes of catching you off-guard.”

And, well, good luck with that. Connor shakes his head with a sigh and he just slings one arm around Markus’ shoulders as they fall into step together.

“Hello, Frank.” he calls at a nearby billboard, knowing all too well that the figure leaning against the other side of it is here for them.

“It’s Richard today, sir.” The man on the other side answers, “Frank has today off.”

The RK800 does a quick scan to confirm –Richard Winters, a slightly younger but no less qualified agent. And apparently, just as earnestly polite as Frank.

“Oh? Well, then nice to meet you, Richard, and please give Frank my regards when you see him.” Connor says, as used to their audience as he is to the reaction these brief exchanges always seem to spark in Markus: for reasons that he can’t fathom, the RK200 seems to find it endearing.

Case in point, Markus laughs softly and leans deeper into their embrace. “This will never not be cute.”

“Why bother using a double negative if it’s just going to—“ Connor gets shushed by a quick peck on the lips.

“Emphasis.” Markus says as if saying the sky is blue.

Now, Connor doesn’t really like being mistaken, but for a moment he hopes his sound unit is exactly that when it picks up the sound of Richard chuckling slightly.

“You two really are as cute as Frank says.”

How is this his life?

Little does he know, Markus has been asking himself the same question.

Ever since the day they spent almost three hours powered down in each other’s arms, all of Markus’ thoughts and feelings about the one android who did more for him and their people than anyone he ever met came crashing down on him.

It’s not even gratitude alone –he could have rationalized the attraction away if it was, but there’s the thing: even during the Jericho raid, after he watched Connor break down the red walls and the years’ worth of abusive programming and reprogramming just to the sound of his voice, he kept wondering about him. Was he safe? Was he fighting alongside them, would he see him again and have at least one chance to talk to him before the end of the night?

His relief upon seeing him alive and well in the church was immense, only soiled by the realization Connor was curling into himself, almost crumbling under a guilt that wasn’t really his to bear. And his eyes, good God.

The RK800 offered himself for the most dangerous type of suicide mission with a smile and a teasing remark, and Markus was powerless to hold him back –he’ll probably never get over how stupid he was to just let him go with a squeeze on the shoulder and a plea to be careful.

Sure, in the end Connor was better off than many of them, successfully carrying out his task and saving all of their asses, but… what if?

Markus doesn’t even want to think about that kind of ‘what if’, so he shakes it out of his head.

“Hey, is something wrong?” the voice of the very subject of his thoughts pulls him back to the present, “Your stress levels had a spike just now.”

“It’s nothing. Just stray thoughts.” Markus assures, bringing a hand up to lace fingers with the one Connor has casually draped over his shoulder, “Let’s go get ready for today.”

Of all the times to realize that his true feelings for Connor just literally snuck up on him, it had to be during the time they’re pretending to be already in love. He’s aware that the RK800 considers him a friend and hold a great degree of respect for him –they’ve worked enough long nights and had enough chats to be well beyond ‘best-friend’ territory, even… there’s probably not one person on the face of the Earth who knows him as Connor does, barring maybe Carl.

In any other circumstance, he’d just gather up his courage, get the other alone somewhere and just tell him ‘you know, this whole pretending to date thing just made me realize I’d like it to be true!’ but… just because Connor is going along with this it doesn’t mean he’d actually return Markus’ affections. This might very well be just another mission for Connor and, well…

Markus wants more than that. He wants it all.

But for now, he’ll take what he can get. He huddles himself closer to Connor and they keep walking –maybe sometime after this whole nonsense is over, they can sit down and have a chat. Maybe.

They’re content to just ignore Richard, and the man himself merely carries on as if just walking along until they get into City Hall.

Once they’re all in the room that’s being set up for the speech –Captain Fowler is there as a representative of the law, and even Hank was asked to come, as the officer who most closely worked on all cases involving androids— Markus catches Connor’s attention by snatching the quarter he was fiddling with mid-air.

“Hey!” he protests, “Give that back.”

“No. Pay attention to me.” The RK200 closes his fist around the coin and draws his arm back while Connor leans forward, but the teasing smile he started with wanes slightly. “Can I ask you a favor, Connor?”

The shift in demeanor is sudden enough to stop Connor in his tracks.

“Anything.” And he means it, their charade notwithstanding.

“Will you… hold my hand through the speech?”

“You and your showy romantic gestures.” Connor teases not to feel the sting himself, expecting Markus to carry the joke the rest of the way, but instead he’s met with a stare he hasn’t seen before in the other’s mismatched eyes.

He seems tense and insecure, almost… hurt.

“It’s not that.” He says meekly, “I mean, I’m sure people will have a field day about it but… it’s not why I asked.”

“It’s not?”

Looks like he asked the wrong question. Markus shrugs and gives the coin back with his eyes downcast, opening his palm for Connor to take it.

“Just forget about it, it was stupid.” He assures as if everything is fine, but the dejection in his tone is enough to make the RK800 feel like he just kicked a puppy.

He closes Markus’ fist around the coin and his own hand around it. “Markus. Tell me, I want to know.”

“I just…” The other hesitates, but eventually looks back up at Connor. “Have a lot of feelings about this whole thing and I need something grounding… you know, to not crumble under the tension and start speaking in just static and clicks.”

Oh, God, now he feels like an asshole. Markus is quite good at playing pretend and he’s an excellent liar himself, and it’s easy to just label every single one of their interactions as part of their ‘plan’… but in sticking to it so relentlessly Connor has forgotten that just because the romance part is fake, the rest of Markus’ feeling towards him is genuine; and he’s been squandering them like the idiot he is, just because he is greedy and wanted the romance, too.

They’re alone right now, there’s no one to impress and nothing to prove, so Markus just openly admitted to him that he considers Connor important enough to be his grounding presence through what is admittedly a defining moment in history.

This is ridiculous. It’s time to grow some stones, as Hank would say. “Markus, I…” indulging himself for once, Connor reaches out to take Markus’ other hand as well. “I would be honoured to be the one holding your hand, through anything we ever face.”

It seems the right thing to say, because there’s a hitch in the other’s breath, likely caused by a change in speed through his thirium pump. “It means a lot to me.” Markus says, barely above a whisper, “Thank you, Connor.”

The speech actually goes off flawlessly –there’s dozens of flashes and recording devices pointed at all of them, and a quick q&a session about the law itself and how it will change the current state of things.

“…and the best part about it is that now androids will have a reason to put their trust in an authority that is willing and equipped to protect them.” Connor finds himself explaining, “If an android knows they will be listened to if they need to report a crime, the likelihood of them trying to right such wrongs by themselves plummets from 76% to less than 12%.”

“It does make a difference to know that your words will be heard.” Markus adds, not without a smile, “Speaking from my personal experience, here.”

Discreet laughter rings out audience hopelessly charmed as usual, so much so that it makes Connor wonder how Markus can ever be insecure about anything –but he is, and those who think him infallible and unshakeable have simply not bothered scratching even the surface of the man he is.

Which is ridiculous, in his opinion— now that he had a glimpse of what Markus really is, so alive, perfect in his imperfections, with doubts, like everybody else but pushing on… Connor can’t help but want to know more, to see it all. There’s nothing more beautiful than the storm hiding behind the tranquil waters of blue and green that look at him in secretive little glances; and he’s been wanting them all to himself for a long time –possibly ever since they first spoke at the church, when Markus took his anguish and his guilt and washed them away with acceptance.

He will tell him.

Once this whole FBI nonsense is over, Connor will tell him the truth.

Chapter Text

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.

"Anybody home?"

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?

Yes.

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?"

Shit, Markus.

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.”

“Fair enough.”

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.

Beautiful.

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.

"Connor..."

"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.