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Face to face

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RK800 #313 248 317 - 60, or as Elijah called him, RK60, had escaped irreparable damage by a couple inches only. Had the bullet pierced his brain slightly more to the right, his memory core would have been completely destroyed. As it was, Elijah could save the memory cell, but he'd have to build a whole new brain around it; that meant a considerable amount of work. Several weeks, actually. But he didn't mind; he soon discovered that he liked the soothing quiet of the labs by night much better than the oppressing silence of his dead house.

The day would always go the same way; he'd start working early in the morning, then he'd take an hour leave around noon to work on RK60, then more work, and back to the android again, until the early hours of morning. He often didn't feel like getting back to his place for a couple hours, so he'd simply nap, curled up in the chair of his office.

After a couple days, Elijah's back was very sore, and his mood very foul. He was about to start drinking his fourth coffee of the day when a secretary opened the door and walked to the front of his desk, hands behind her back.

“Sir, the Jericho organisation would like to know what you have decided regarding their proposition.”

Ah, right. Exactly what he needed today. Great.

Elijah let out a sigh, and answered wearily; “I'll try to get the administrative committee to assemble later today. Tell them I'll give them an answer before the end of the week.”

He pursed his lips thoughtfully, and added as an afterthought;

“Also, tell the supervisor of the workshops that I'd like to see them as soon as possible.”

 

The afternoon got rather eventful when the board meeting began. He had initially intended to reach a compromise through debate, but his bad mood took the best of him, and Elijah plainly imposed his will, meaning the creation of an android ethics committee in association with Jericho. Pacing around the room and half-screaming to their faces, he didn't leave much choice to his positively scared shareholders.

It's not that he suddenly considered androids to be living things, but now that the law was acknowledging them as such, he knew he'd have to comply at some point. If Cyberlife was to survive, they clearly needed to make amends; after the episode of the android destruction camps, their image was disastrous.

 

Afterwards, Elijah was standing in his office, enjoying a short moment of respite, when someone knocked lightly on his door. The workshops supervisor entered the office. She was a tall, stocky middle aged woman, and her stark features contrasted with the softness of her eyes.

“How may I be of assistance, Sir Kamski?”

Elijah turned to face her.

“You have probably noticed that I requisitioned one of the maintenance workshops of floor -34 to repair a busted RK800. The damage is pretty extensive, I'm gonna need the room for a while.”

The supervisor's expression did not shift from neutral, if slightly politely interested.

“Of course, sir. We have restricted the access to lab 347 to you only. You are free to use the premises for as long as you wish.”

Elijah's gaze drifted away, out of the window.

“Indeed. But I'd like to work overnight as well, and I wanted to know if you could free some space for me to sleep in.”

At that, the woman seemed slightly taken aback. After a pause, she made a thoughtful noise.

“I suppose we can rearrange a room to accommodate you, Sir, but I'm afraid it would be very small and uncomfortable. The floor on which the maintenance labs are located are not fit for domestic use, the temperature is lower than anywhere else in the Tower and-”

“It'll be just fine. Get on with it, please.”

Elijah's tone was very final. Some of his temper had subsided, but he was  still having a bad day, the stabbing pain in his back was agonizing. The supervisor probably took the hint, for she gave a short nod and, without a word, she left.

 

The first sense that Elijah restored in RK60's brain was that of hearing. It was a very delicate endeavour, and it required a several hours session of intensive, high-precision work to get the new components wired to the android. When he was done, Elijah was exhausted, but he still launched the testing console and, opening a graph registering brain activity, he switched the android's hearing on and started speaking.

“I am Elijah Kamski, this is the 27th of February, 2039, I am currently making sure that the RK800 I’m fixing has operational audio processors.” Elijah had his eyes fixed on the graph. The android's brainwaves indicated that his hearing was perfectly functional. He felt a proud smile appear on his lips.

“Good job, boy.”

He immediately felt a bit lighter. For some reason, talking to the inert body felt nice.

Without giving it much thought, Elijah disabled the android's brain and resumed working.

 

A few days passed before the break room Elijah had requested was operational. It was a tiny room, without any window, that consisted only of a moderately comfortable couch, a little coffee table, and a small fridge. It was not much, but it was more than enough, and he soon spent all of his nights there. No one could have guessed that the wealthiest person in the world was living there, and yet, there he was. Those conditions reminded Elijah of his first years as a young engineer, when, at sixteen, he moved to Detroit and founded Cyberlife, pouring the last of his meager economies in his research, and slaving passionately over his first android prototype in a shady, packed hangar. His first Chloe.

And twenty years later, CEO of one of the most successful companies in the world, he was back to sleeping on a couch in a basement.

What a life.

 

Gavin called once that week. The conversation didn't last long, but then again it rarely did. Gav had fretted over some unanswered messages, and was just checking in to see if everything was alright. Elijah didn't have much to answer, said he was okay, and promised to text back next time. He wasn't sure he was being absolutely honest to his brother, to tell the truth. But what else could he say ?

 

Dropping his jacket on the side desk, Elijah rolled up the sleeves of his hoodie with a little sigh.

“Boy, you wouldn't believe what a shitty day this was ! They all were under my feet, couldn't even leave me be for a minute !”

Since the sensory core was a very delicate component, Elijah had to run regular hearing tests to make sure everything was still in place. And so, after a while, he took to talking to the android on a regular basis, even outside of tests. He was mostly prattling on about his day or whatever happened in the news, meaningless one-sided discussions that the deactivated android couldn't even hear. But it still made Elijah feel less alone, somehow, so it didn't really matter.

Today, he had finally finished restoring the mind palace, and the android supposedly could see again. Slouching on the stool, Eli leaned over the android's head and, still talking, started examining the eyes with a little flashlight.

“I even tried to go take a walk, you know. Got out to buy my food on my own for once. It was a bother, really.”

Straightening his back, he typed in a command and watched the bionic pupils dilate as the eyes activated. Elijah held out a finger in front of the face, and moved it from left to right. The android's eyes followed his moves. Satisfied, he decided to try and activate the hearing too, to see if the incomplete brain could handle it.

“But hey, it wasn't all in waste-” he typed another command, “'cause I got to see a dog ! Not even an android dog, a real, live one ! You have no idea how rare they got.”

The diagnostic program picked up brain activity in reaction to his voice. RK60 seemed to be holding on fine.

“I wonder if you'd like dogs, Sixty.”



> 1 missed call from Super Smash Gav - 07:50

 

Super Smash Gav (08:12) :

wassup

 

Super Smash Gav (22:48) :

cmon prick answer me

 

Super Smash Gav (03:06) :

aight fuck u then

 

> 1 missed call from Super Smash Gav - 09:54

 

Super Smash Gav (17:27) :

look u cant hide 4ever, ok

stop ignoring me

 

Super Smash Gav (21:08) :

alright, thatsit im coming over



Elijah had just finished plugging the last connector to the sensory core, effectively enabling the sense of touch in the android. As he stared at the monitor in front of him, Elijah picked up RK60's hand. He noticed a spike of activity when he moved his fingers on the wrist; good. He had just typed the command for sight activation when someone started banging at the door. A muffled voice was coming from outside.

Elijah frowned. Who could still be around at this hour?

Vaguely pissed, he got up and went to open the sliding door of the workshop. As soon as he did, Gavin burst in, swearing loudly.

“What the fuck, you dipshit ?! You think it's fun to play dead ? What are you, twelve?!”

Elijah watched, bemused, as his brother started pacing around the room with a furious look on his face. His scowl deepened as he gestured to the workstation.

“And what the everloving fuck is that ?! What are you-”

Elijah frowned and held his hands up.

“Hey now, how did you even get in here ?”

Gavin let out a tsk .

“Nines. But-”

Of course.

“So the RK900 is here ?”

This time, he rolled his eyes and held his arms to the sky with a frustrated groan.

“Yeah, left him by the lift, who cares ! What the fuck are you doing, Eli ?! Care to explain why you don't even go home anymore ?”

Elijah wanted to answer, but no sound came out of his mouth. Gavin wasn't letting him, anyway.

“And what is that ?! What are you doing with a fucking dead Connor ? What's so important about that piece of junk that you stopped sleeping ?”

He gestured to his half-brother's face.

“The bags under your eyes are eating half your face, you have a fucking beard, and even your fuckin’ pretentious undercut is growing out !”

Gavin was gesturing furiously, but as he met Eli's eyes, he paused. His gaze was hard, made harder still by the clenched jaws and the deep frown of the detective.

“I thought I told you to get out, not to shut in. What's so fuckin’ important that you stopped talking to me ?”

Elijah was livid. Feeling like an icicle had just dropped in his stomach, he brought his hand to his face, flinching a little. Unable to talk, he felt dread creeping up on him. Gavin was still watching him.

“I…”

He forced himself to smile.

“I'm fine, Gav.”

There was an instant of deafening silence.

“You fucking liar.”

Elijah's eyes darted to the floor. Anxiety was pooling in his chest, and looking at Gavin physically hurt.

“You fucking liar !! Your fucking billionaire ass would have never accepted to live in anything less than a manor six months ago, and now you're sleeping on a couch in a fucking basement ?!”

Gavin had settled, and, leaning against the desk, crossed his arms across his chest. The raging fury had given way to a cold anger.

“It doesn't take a fuckin’ detective badge to figure it out. You look like shit. For the last time, Eli; what’s wrong ?”

Elijah knew he had to say something, anything; but the truth is, he didn't quite know himself what was wrong with him.

Sure, he had liked his Chloes, but they were machines. And he'd lost people before. Real people, who disappeared from his life in cruel and brutal ways. This didn't even come close.

So why was he so afraid to go back to his house ?

Whatever it was, he needed to talk about it to Gavin. But it didn't feel right. Gavin hated androids, he'd never understand. Elijah was afraid that for the first time in their thirty years of brotherhood, Gavin would judge him. That he would reject him. And he just couldn't bear the thought.

So he looked up in the grey-green eyes of his brother and simply stated, in a somewhat mechanical tone;

“Gav, it's alright. I'm great.”

Gavin squinted until his eyes were two razorsharp slits. Elijah felt like his skin was literally getting cut open by them. The muscles of his jaw contracted, and with a tone colder than a blizzard, Gavin growled:

“Fine. If you want to fuck yourself up so bad, be my guest. I'm not sticking around to watch you. I'm out.”

With that, he let his arms fall to his side, fists clenched, and marched out.

Elijah stood there, squeezing his eyes shut as if the light hurt his eyes. He could hear the faint echo of an argument somewhere down the corridor. His legs were threatening to give out under him, so he let himself fall on the stool. His chest was so tight he was barely able to breathe.

After a while, when the shaking stopped, Eli opened his eyes and slowly turned to the workstation behind him. RK60's eyes were following him still.

With a sigh, Elijah offered him a little smile.

“You know, Sixty, I always thought that between the two of us, Gavin was the dumb brother, but in the end, it looks like I was wrong.”

Absently, his fingers trailed on the screen. The android's stats were as good as can be. A tinge of pride was tugging at his brain, somewhere deep below all the grief, shame and guilt. In swift motions, his hand entered machinally the activation command for the hearing protocol.

RK60 experienced a minor power surge, but he recovered very quickly. Soon enough, his stats were great.

He's really impressive.

Elijah looked down and let his arms wrap around his torso, smiling sadly.

“When we were teens, I started going to university while Gav was in middle school. I always thought he was jealous, since he was so mad at me all the time. At the time, some of the students in my course tried to intimidate me, and when he heard about it, he came to the university to give them a beating.”

Elijah let out a low chuckle.

“Then he beat my ass too, and he said that I had to be proud of myself, 'cause I was so smart, and he'd kick anyone who didn't believe in me, including myself.”

He let his shoulders slump a bit. Gavin was rough around the edges, but he was the most supportive brother Eli could have wished for.

And he had just pushed him away.

With a sigh, Elijah looked in RK60's eyes. He moved his hand forward and cupped the android's cheek.

“You're doing great, Sixty. At this rate, you'll be back soon.”

He let his hand linger a few seconds, and gave the cheek an affectionate pat.

“I'm going to deactivate you for now. Sweet dreams, boy.”