Friday evening had Gavin back in Nines’ apartment. Due to how cold the weather had gotten, Gavin was already wearing the thick multi-zip up cargo jacket over a black, long-sleeve shirt. He wore dark grey jeans beneath all that, and as he stood waiting outside Nines’ partly closed bedroom door, he wondered what the android would wear to the dinner outing.
Luckily, Nines wasn’t burdened by the cold, and Gavin assumed he would be wearing the items he’d purchased, no doubt.
Of course, his detective powers for once had failed him; he was wrong!!
As soon as Nines stepped out into the hall, Gavin found him to be wearing a black suit and a red tie. Oh, this wouldn’t do. Apparently, Nines was still too shy to dress in his new getup, and it seemed to annoy Gavin for reasons unknown.
Eyeing his distaste, Nines croaked, “What’s wrong? No good?”
“Dude,” Gavin coughed, “you spent over three-hundred god damn American dollars on yourself, and you’re gonna wear that shit, still???” Disapproval evident and impossible to hide, Gavin shook his head as he tried gazing past Nines’ broad, wide shoulders and into his bedroom.
Eyes shifting in mild discomfort, Nines weakly supplied, “I was trying to make a good impression, Reed, why are you berating me for it?”
Ignoring his question, Gavin nodded over inside his room, “Move aside for a moment so I can check what you have.”
Again, Nines seemed nervous, and as his LED light reflected that by switching from blue to yellow, he wheezed, “Why?”
“Because,” Gavin hissed, “I know you bought more shit since we went shopping last time.”
Thrown off by this assertion, Nines aggressively growled out, “You couldn’t possibly know that, Reed, unless you—hey!!”
Using the minor distraction to his advantage, Gavin pushed past Nines swiftly and entered his room. Turning left closer to the wall, he slid open Nines’ closet doors and saw just how many new things he’d purchased. Apparently, the RK900 had been quite the busy little bee…
A long, dark Minos Men’s Highwayman Coat with an over-sized hood and face-covering collar when zipped up stood facing Gavin first and foremost. The trench coat had two pockets with flaps. The front and back of it also had splits for maximum movement and comfort. In general, the trench coat appeared to be made from warm coating fabric, making it practical as well as fashionable.
Peeking down, Gavin then saw dark, large size motorcycle boots made out of genuine leather. A few other belts, buckles, and chains hung around it as well, and Gavin had to step back and laugh.
Mortified completely, Nines attempted to close the door and push him out of the way. “I think you’ve seen enough, Reed!” he barked out his discomfort, but before he could entirely close the doors, Gavin wedged a hand quickly inside closet. It worked, and Nines stopped trying to close the doors while throwing Gavin an unimpressed glare.
“What?” Gavin tossed out, “I like what you got!!”
“I can’t wear any of this!” Nines argued, but Gavin reached inside his closet and yanked out the Black Swamp trousers with the torn, distressful, and erratic patterned paint designs and patches running down the legs of the pants. “Don’t be silly, Nines,” he chided mildly while he grabbed the trench coat as well. “This is fine!! I think Marsha will be weirded out to see ya all punked out for sure, but I think that’ll be worth it even more!!!”
“How kind of you to use me as fodder for shocking and terrifying your ex-girlfriend, Reed,” Nines bowed sardonically. “That sure makes me feel wonderful.”
Ignoring him, Gavin sang out, “For your top, I think we can go with this devil fashion black shirt!” Toying and plucking the various buckle belts and rivets accents on the bodice, Gavin eyed the slim fit shirt with mild greed reflecting brightly in his eyes.
Almost pouting, Nines seemed to fidget nervously as he belted out, “This is insane, Reed, and need I remind you, very last-minute for my tastes!!”
As he snatched the clothes out of Gavin’s hands and set them onto the bed, the short detective shoved his hands in his pockets, turned his nose up in disgust at the current clothes Nines was wearing, and he laughed.
Nines didn’t appreciate it, and he tossed Gavin a heated scowl that depicted how displeased he was with this situation. “Reed,” came the low, deep growl, “it’s not really funny!”
“Sure it is!” Gavin quipped, “to see the big and mighty Nines frightened of some gothic clothes?! Duuude, that’s comedy material!!” Backing these up with boisterous rounds of chuckling, he nearly doubled down in laughter as his voice hit all four walls of the bedroom.
As he wiped his tears away from the corners of his eyes, Nines huffed at him as he hissed, “I was trying to make a good first impression, Reed, and considering how this is at best—”
Holding up both hands as if he was under gunpoint, Gavin snapped up as he cried out, “How did ya put it??” Now, it was his turn to mimic the android, and he put on his best ‘Nines’ voice as he grumbled out of his chest, “Petty internet drama? Is that how you said it?”
“Stop that,” Nines growled back, “I thought most people-when they are meeting their partner’s friends and exes for the first time ever-would dress their best for the occasion!”
Sitting down on the edge of the bed next to the clothes, Gavin muttered, “Nah, I think you should just be yourself, Nines; you picked these clothes out yourself for a reason, and I think you should just embrace that.” To help out with the process, he scooted closer to the closet and yanked out the motorcycle boots. Plopping them before the bed, he watched as Nines seemed hesitant for a moment, eyes flittering back and forth between the bed and the floor.
“You don’t have to worry about the cold,” Gavin pointed out, “just wear whatever you want, and don’t worry about what Marsha may think.” His mind supplied, ‘I’ll handle her’, but he didn’t dare say that out loud while he threw Nines a wide smile.
After grumbling for another moment, Nines caved in.
The moody android knew what to do, and he got to work on shrugging out of his suit and pants…right in front of Gavin…
Leaping up to his feet as if he’d been electrocuted, Gavin tore across the room towards the door, and making sure his back faced Nines, he chirped out, “I’ll wait outside, but I’m sure it’ll be a good night, Nines.”
Before the android could say anything, the door clicked shut softly.
Gavin was left standing awkwardly in the hall, running a hand through his perfectly combed-back hair as he wondered why Nines hadn’t at least warned him that he wanted to disrobe right away first. If he stayed there in the room another minute, he’d—
“I’m ready, Detective.”
The door squeaked open, and Gavin sighed out, “That was fast…”
Almost mawkishly, Nines admitted, “I’m quick to do things if I’m interested and passionately motivated…”
“I’ve noticed,” Gavin chuckled, admiring how perfectly the boots looked peeking out from beneath the long trench coat, and how tall Nines’ figure was. These clothes really suited him to no end, and as the hood of the trench coat had been pulled back to reveal his face, Gavin stared at Nines’ hair for a while. He found himself ogling it for some time, and he knew it was because something wasn’t exactly sitting right.
Picking up on it, Nines frowned, “What’s the matter?”
Waving a dismissive hand as if he were waving a fly out of his face, Gavin replied, “Nothing, we have to get going, soon.”
Drawing up the hood of the trench coat, Nines nodded and stepped around Gavin towards the front door of the apartment.
Yet again, Gavin had to wonder why Nines did that; he wasn’t affected by the cold like humans were. In fact, to the detective’s mind and opinion, Nines looked better without the hood.
He gently pulled it down once they got in his car and drove off towards the address of the restaurant.
“Ribfest?” Nines snorted as he gazed out the window at the restaurant as they sat in the parked car, “this place is called ‘Ribfest’?”
Gavin snickered, “Seems appropriate and to the point, right?”
As the snow stopped falling-thankfully, giving a much clearer view of outside, Gavin saw the pickup truck Marsha described she’d be arriving in. It was parked right next to Gavin’s car, and as Gavin waited while blowing over his clenched fists to warm them up in the old-fashioned ‘caveman’ way, Nines stared out the window at the pickup truck.
LED light yellow, he hissed, “Why’re we doing this again?”
The apprehension the android felt wasn’t only exclusively experienced by himself alone; Gavin too was feeling frightened and nervous as he saw and heard the man driving the truck turn off the engine.
Why were they here?? It was a rather simple-yet complicated answer.
As the cold night air sat around the car and the peace and silence of the darkness all around settled and engulfed them, Gavin felt his nostrils and mouth burning as they turned dry. This was…this was an important thing even he himself hadn’t considered regaling out loud to Nines, but he knew that this was all a part of how to make the image they’d painted of themselves as a couple all the more valid and believable.
Real couples did things together; they traveled together, shopped together, hung out with other married couples together, and they shared experiences together intimately and closely. This was what it was all about. So far, they’d shopped together a few times, and Gavin even felt mildly responsible for influencing Nines in some way to change his style of dress. Only intimate friends and couples seemed to be able to wield that power and influence over each other. Only couples cohabiting and relating intensely to each other were capable of chiseling away and ‘refining’ their significant other into minor versions better suiting themselves, but did that mean they were truly a couple???
In order to bring that to life, Gavin realized that they had to step outside their personal mind frames and actually show something in terms of the relationship. What good were thoughts, ideas, practices, values, and plots if they weren’t validated and confirmed by others? That’s how the world worked, of course, as no person lived on their own private island. This was an open world, and an open society, and people relied on their experiences, their stories, their witness accounts, and their reports and feedback in order to perpetuate those said experiences throughout time. That was how history had been made, of course; observed, written and reported down, reported on and regaled, and thus making it all substantial and valid.
In a nutshell, they had to show off, and as much as Gavin and Nines hated that equally, there was no way to avoid this matter.
He settled for merely supplying, “Look, Nines, Marsha’s literally my mom’s ‘spy’, I bet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was roped into this by my mom as a stupid ‘test’ of sorts to see if we’re really together and can survive through all obstacles and bullshit alike.” His breath fogged up the windows and windshield considerably, but he didn’t care as he stared straight ahead of himself at the darkness all around.
Next to him, Nines commented harshly, “This isn’t at all what entails fulfilling a promise, Reed.”
“I know, I know, I know, and I know,” Gavin whispered repeatedly as he closed his eyes and felt a tiny headache already blooming in the back of his head. God help him get through this. “I promise that once this is all over, Nines, then all debts will be paid in full.” He wasn’t sure how else to explain it without making it sound so business-like. It was good enough for now, he supposed, especially considering who he was talking to.
Eyeing him wearily, Nines murmured, “I said I’d help, didn’t I?” Not even waiting for Gavin to provide an answer for the rhetorical question, he added, “I’ll do it to the end, besides which, I’m quite sure that if you yourself even deigned to help me, it would be in the form of being tainted like you are.”
Gavin could only hiss like he’d been burned, and he growled, “Wanna tone it down a bit, Nines? Sheesh!! Felt that one in the cold sizzling right through!!”
Before Nines could respond, Gavin continued on his tirade. Now, having found a convenient target for all of his frustrations, he couldn’t seem to stop himself. Unlocking the car doors abruptly and loudly, he played with the handle of the inside of the door as he muttered incoherently, “Get your smile on, Nines, and try to behave, at least a little.”
If at all possible, his mind supplied, but he never voiced this aloud.
Stepping out of the car, Gavin was immediately assaulted by a brutally arctic cold wind slapping him in the face. Cheeks frozen for a moment, he barely was able to lift a hand up and touch his own skin when he heard loud feminine squeals of pure zeal and excitement ringing and cutting through the air.
The passenger door of the pickup truck burst open, and high heeled winter boots crunched their way on the snow. Hands stretched out while a white scarf wrapped around her neck and a small wool hat rested upon her skull, Marsha dove for Gavin. Wrapping him ever so tightly in her arms, she tugged him to her chest as she screamed out, “GAAAAAAAAAAAVIIIIN!!! Oh my goooooooood!!! It’s been sooooooo long!!!”
Trying to squirm away, Gavin felt her arms go tighter around himself. Wisely, he felt that running away wasn’t a wise move; she only yanked him closer in her own embrace. Relenting, he pet her on the back a few times awkwardly, while her husband exited from the truck next and smirked.
Waving at him, he grunted awkwardly, “Reed, right?”
Waving back, Gavin responded, “Err, yeah, Gavin Reed.”
“Nice to meet you,” came the nice, socially polite comment. “My wife’s told me a lot of good things about you.”
Had she? That was a first.
Once Marsha decided she’d had her complete fill of smooshing Gavin, she let him go, and she then squinted over at Nines. However obliquely her next set of actions were as he moved around towards where the android was standing, she immediately began ‘sizing him up’ as she stared at him from head to toe, and then from his very toes to his face again.
As she gazed intently and openly at Nines, gawking at him more as time went on, Charles brushed some hairs off his black coat and jeans as he awkwardly cleared his throat.
“So this is your…partner, Reed?” It had been spoken in such an odd, abstract way, but Gavin could only nod robotically more so due to the cold.
“Sh-should we head inside?” Gavin asked, bypassing more awkward gaping and staring as he nodded over to the luminous glow emanating from the restaurant. It was growing colder faster and faster, and truth be told, he was so hungry above all else…
Snapping to attention, Marsha stood back, looped her arm with her husband’s, and she let out a tiny giggle. “Yeah! Let’s go!!” Already skipping towards the restaurant, she paused midway, turned, and glared over at Nines.
Only, Gavin hadn’t caught it due to turning off his phone so they wouldn’t be disturbed, but Nines surely did, and he glared right back at Marsha until they reached the front of the restaurant.
“It feels sooooo good to be indoors, right sweetie?!” Marsha certainly was the Queen of making the dumbest comments of the century, and things seemed to be getting more annoying for both Nines and Gavin as they allowed the human couple to lead them inside the restaurant.
Thankfully, Marsha and Charles had already reserved a booth for four people, and the waitress led them towards it cheerfully. The entire place had been decorated to the nines for Christmas already, and it made Gavin’s stomach churn uncomfortably. For one, a lot of the servers and waitresses already were wearing red, green, black, and white uniform colors. On their heads, majority of them had either elf hats, or reindeer antlers with bells attached that jingle-jangled loudly whenever they walked about. Classic Christmas music blasted on the speakers, and a lot of tinsel, holly, ivy, mistletoe, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, stockings, gifts, as well as Santa models could be found every other corner of the restaurant.
Their booth was a fuzzy, red seated circular one, and it was as close to the bar and grill as possible. A fresh scent of the meat cooking and steaming hit Gavin’s nostrils, and he had to work hard on repressing the sounds of his growling, demanding stomach.
Once they sat down at their clean booth, the waitress handed them all their menus, and she had already set out glasses of crystal-clear water. Once she saw Nines, however, she did a doubletake when it came to his LED light, winced, and then took away his glass.
“I’ll let you folks just look through our menu, now,” she announced while she avoided all eye-contact with the punk, gothic Nines, as though he made her quite uncomfortable. She left as soon as Charles gave her an auspicious wink, and as he settled next to his wife, she shrugged out of her long, white winter coat and draped and folded it neatly next to herself. Placing her black purse on top of it as well, now that she was embroidered in better light, she seemed to be at the height of her happiness next to her handsome husband.
Gavin was able to see that Marsha hadn’t really ‘aged’ in any downhill manner. Her skin remained soft, absent of wrinkles, stress-free, and it held some sort of an odd glow around and within it. She barely looked a day over thirty-two at the most, and Gavin had a difficult time believing she actually had a son as well.
Her hair was still as long as he’d seen in the photos on her Facebook profile, of course, but she obviously had cut it a little, so it rested just in the middle of her waist. Still slender and rather athletic, Marsha looked fit and healthy in her red miniskirt, thigh-high black winter boots, and black long sleeve shirt that had been freshly washed and ironed. She wore a thin layer of eyeliner above on her top eyelid, and her perfume was rather…potent. Gavin hated it whenever a woman doused herself in perfume, and he was already feeling his nose burning up and reacting quite badly to her scent.
Charles on the other hand smelled clean and fresh as well as looked the part, but he somehow seemed more subtle and a lot calmer than his wife. His soft olive colored eyes and blonde hair reflected nicely in the lights of the diner, and as he removed his winter jacket, he was simply dressed in a blue dress shirt and a dark blue tie. The cuffs had been rolled back a little, however, and as he pulled his arms up to rest on the surface of the table, Marsha peeked down at his cufflinks and let out a tiny hiss.
Reaching for his wrists, she gently straightened them out as she sibilantly spat, “Sweetie, your shirt…”
Charles immediately acquiesced and allowed her to fix them up for him as he chuckled.
Gavin rolled his eyes. Nothing had changed in terms of Marsha insisting on controlling others; especially the men in her life.
Straightening himself up, the man who looked suddenly a bit too old for his wife stared at Nines, and then at Gavin, and then back over at Nines. Lowering his head as a rosy glow broke out in his face, he mumbled unenthusiastically, “I like your husband’s—err, I mean, fiancé’s clothes, Mr. Reed.”
Gavin let out a loud snort, catching the attention of the diners located a few booths over. Nines stomped on his foot roughly, the heel of the boot grinding down strongly over Gavin’s toes. The pained detective merely bit the insides of his cheeks, however, and he withdrew his foot from beneath Nines’ powerful boot.
“Err, thanks, Charles,” he grunted. “And you can just call me ‘Gavin’, by the way.”
Nodding, Charles looked back down at his menu, and then kept out of the conversation. Above, the music switched to Frosty the Snowman, causing a few children near the Christmas tree to sing along as they gushed in sheer joy. Their irate parents dined and tried quieting them down to no avail.
While Charles’ eyes roamed over the length of his menu, Marsha sat with both her hands propped against both cheeks. Her face was right before Nines’ as she leaned into the table of the booth as much as she could, her white scarf trailing down over the edge while she struggled to get a deeper look at the android sitting next to her ex-boyfriend. As her thin eyebrows rose steadily while Nines scowled at her with all his might, Gavin fidgeted and sputtered out, “Err, s-so, Marsha…h-how’s your son?”
“Hmm?” Waking up from her dreamland slowly, she giggled as she finally caught on, “Oh! Nathan’s doing well!! He’s at a babysitter’s house, of course!!!”
“Umm, all night?” Gavin asked quickly, hoping to fill into the awkwardness before Marsha could somehow piss Nines off by staring at him as though he were some circus freak on full display.
Waving a hand at him in a dainty sort of way, Marsha exclaimed, “Of course!!! We need our time together sometimes, Charles and I!!”
Yeah, he got that.
Staring over at his menu, he pretended to take up interest in it, even though he’d already settled for roasted ham with a side dish of mashed potatoes and corn.
While Nines gazed off to the side almost shyly, Marsha decided to suddenly act as though she were a long-lost sycophant fan of his or an admirer. Tapping a clean, white-manicured fingernail in the center of the wooden table, she asked, “So how long have you two been together?”
Nines stared at Gavin, wondering if he would answer, but before the detective could do so, Marsha quickly intervened with, “It’s ‘Nines’, right?”
LED light switching to yellow, Nines softly responded, “Yes, I’m Nines.”
Chuckling, Marsha again asked, “So how long have you two been an item?!?!?” Fluttering her eyelashes at them, she added, “I must say, you guys actually look even cuter together in person!!”
How long were they together?
Gavin shrugged, “Err, not that long, I mean…like what…almost a year, Nines?”
Lips barely moving, Nines hissed, “Seems about right.”
“Well, I just think you two are amazing!!” Marsha sang, and her husband set down his menu as he gathered her own in his hands, next.
Smiling politely at Nines and Gavin, he inquired carefully, “So, Nines, are you also working for the DPD?”
Glaring at Gavin for a moment, Nines seemed to be non-verbally asking just how much Charles and Marsha knew about him, and Gavin looked away as he flushed pink. Nines seemed to be expecting an answer, however, but Marsha-ever the chatterbox-seemed to keep on going down the path she’d carved out for herself. Really, it was a train that couldn’t ever be stopped, and to want to stop it was only a futile desire.
It was better to let the questions come.
One by one, they poured out of her, and she waved her hands ecstatically about, her wide, round eyes and long eyelashes the only things that Nines could see as she drew herself closer and closer to him.
“Have you two moved in together, yet?! I bet you have! I bet you have a lovely place!!!”
“What about kids? Are you guys thinking of kids in the future?”
Not even taking a breath, she rambled on, “Ooooh!!! And Nines is an androiiiid!!! That must be new and exciting, huh Gavin?”
Needing a break from this madness, Gavin stared up at one of the many elf hats that jingled by, and he raised a hand as he tried getting a waiter’s attention. He didn’t have to try too hard; the young man pranced over towards their booth, and he smirked at Gavin as if he already knew what was going on.
“Sir,” he addressed calmly and formally, bending over halfway as Gavin held up his menu and Nines’.
Holding out the menus, Gavin simply said, “I’ll take the roasted ham and side dish of mashed potatoes and corn, please…” Pausing, he quickly added, “…With lots of butter, please.”
“Certainly, sir.” Turning to the others, he then asked, “Are we all ready to order, then?”
With a brief second’s peek at Nines, Marsha held a hand up to her mouth as she giggled, “Teehee!! Well, all except for Nines, since he’s an android!!!”
Her husband chuckled as well, gently holding her to his side as he coughed up a laugh at the waiter. “We’re ready to order, sir.”
Oh, how Gavin want to wipe that stupid shit-eating smirk off both Marsha’s face, and Charles’. But all he could do was sit and watch as the waiter took down their orders, and then marched away with the bells attached to his hat making musical noises harmoniously.
The air was suddenly so stuffy here, but he felt that mostly because they’d reached a sort of age-old-familiar ‘social awkwardness’ that Gavin always faced whenever he’d been forced out to socialize with strangers. He’d always had good intentions, of course, but once the social niceness and politeness had waned off and he found that there was nothing left to talk about, that was when the embarrassing feeling of being ‘stuck’ weighed and slammed into his head.
He was now stuck.
Marsha’s intractable behavior earlier hadn’t exactly helped, either, but it seemed to not matter to the woman at all. She sipped her water, her pink lip gloss staining the cold side of the cup she was drinking from. The moment her husband looked down to check his phone resting on his lap, no doubt, she tossed a flirtatious wink surreptitiously at Gavin.
That was it; he needed a drink.
At least the bar was close, anyway.
Standing up immediately, he took off his jacket, and as he folded it neatly on his seat, Nines asked gently, “Where’re you off to, Ree-err, I mean, Gavin?”
Thankfully, no one caught that, as just in the nick of time, an infant had decided to kick up a fuss and wail out a piercing cry that rang about nastily in the restaurant.
Flinching as he heard the near deafening cries, Gavin coughed out carefully, “Err, I’m getting a drink?” Motioning over at the bar, he then said, “I think you have to order on your own, apparently.”
Without invitation, in a jiffy, Marsha leapt to her feet. Taking it upon herself, she volunteered, “I’ll come with you!!”
Her husband Charles nodded. “Get me the usual, honey.”
“Okay sweets,” she threw back merrily at him, and in an instant, before Gavin could even blink, she looped her arm around his, much in the similar fashion as she had with her husband upon entering the restaurant. Gavin was led away from the booth in a hurry, and the colors, lights, sights, and sounds all swirled messily around him as Marsha’s potent perfume slammed into his burning nostrils.
Blinking back tears as he fought to breathe through his mouth only, Gavin kept his eyes on the back of Marsha’s black hair as she tugged him and led him up to the lavender colored bar counter. Gavin’s knees knocked into the damn thing, and he hissed as he leaned against a black, shiny stool. With all the confidence in the world as if she was the sexiest thing alive, Marsha pushed aside a few propped-up menus and signs, and she winked at the first bartender who approached.
“Evenin’ ma’am,” he purred delightfully at her, and she smiled back widely.
“Heya, can I get one Cabernet Sauvignon, one Chardonnay, aaaand…” Pausing, she smirked at Gavin, indicating that he had to tell her what he wanted.
Not caring for the classier things, Gavin merely grunted out at the bartender, “I’ll have one Corona, please.”
Nodding his head, the bartender turned on his heels, and he got to work. As he yanked out the three glasses and got out the alcohol from coolers and buckets, Marsha turned and leaned with her elbows on the counter. Stretching her long, thin legs out before herself, she seemed to be puffing out her more than endowed chest, as if purposefully showing off to Gavin what kind of ‘assets’ she had.
Ignoring it, Gavin focused on the music, as well as the ability not to burst out sneezing all over the damn place. He was starting to feel a throbbing headache.
As he zoned out, Gavin felt his headache growing worse, and he blinked hard, as if he could somehow dispel it. No, banishing a headache wasn’t that simple, and he was a fool to try. Still, he kept blinking, shivering mildly as he felt his nose really flaring up.
Why was it burning?!?!
A gentle hand resting down on his shoulder suddenly gave him a thought as to why his nose burned so badly.
Turning his head around to his right, he saw Marsha throwing him a playful-yet impishly dark look. He didn’t like it and appreciate it at all, but he was frozen in place; she was advancing, and she was doing so relatively quickly.
Lips pausing next to his ear, if someone happened to be walking by and they didn’t know them, it would be fair to assume they were engaged in a rather close, intimate conversation…
Marsha’s purred words eased their way into his ears so dangerously, the tremors racking him and antagonizing him beyond what words could say.
With a mild glance thrown in the direction their booth was located, Marsha chuckled softly, “So, this is what you wanted all along, huh Gavin?”