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Avalanche

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February 14th, 2039

Gavin stepped into the precinct, almost immediately drawing into himself. He didn’t want to be here. He really shouldn’t be here – but he couldn’t just up and leave.

He quietly made his way to his desk, dropping his bag by his chair and flopping into it rather heavily. RK900 looked up from his terminal, prepared to offer a standard “good morning”, but upon one look of Gavin he felt every process freeze.

Gavin was sunk into himself, eyes staring blankly at his terminal, arms wrapped loosely around himself. The expression on his face was unreadable, but the despair was palpable. RK900 knew, thanks to Connor, what day this was – but he hadn’t fully been expecting this. The dull ache from his thirium pump doubled, sending a wave through his chassis that left his artificial breath stuttering and his LED spinning bright gold.

Eventually, Gavin pushed himself up from his chair and headed to the breakroom. Tina was right behind him, cautious and concerned. RK900 sunk back into his chair – another unnecessary human motion – as he felt momentarily overwhelmed by the ache in his chest. He glanced across the bullpen, at Connor, whose chocolatey eyes were drifting between him and the breakroom Gavin had disappeared into.

RK900 shifted in the chair he was perched in, the ache radiating through his body wholly. He flinched when something beneath his hand snapped, and he realized he had been gripping the arm chair so tightly it had cracked. Connor seemed to notice, eyes now trained solely on RK900, waves of concern radiating off of the smaller android. RK900 released the arm chair slowly, tearing his eyes away from the breakroom’s archways to focus blurry vision on his terminal.

Gavin eventually returned, looking particularly worse for wear, a paper cup half-full of coffee in his hand. He slumped into his chair, running a shaky hand through his hair. RK900 turned to him, LED spinning yellow as he took in Gavin’s vitals. “Good morning,” he offered.

Gavin glanced up at him and nodded half-heartedly. RK900 could tell he’d been crying, eyes bloodshot and puffy. The ache seemed to intensify tenfold, and he involuntarily gasped as errors flew across his vision, another thin crack dancing across his red wall of code. His hand flew up to lay across his chest, where his thirium pump was situated and pumping way too rapidly.

Amanda screamed from somewhere in the back of his mind.

Gavin seemed to notice RK900’s discomfort, turning to look more fully at the android. The android's usually placid expression was instead one of, almost… pain? His eyes were widened, lips slightly parted, a surprising blue-tinged flush across his face. Gavin hesitated a moment, before managing, “you good?”

RK900 spun to look at him, snapping out of whatever had happened, hand dropping from his chest. “Yes, apologies Detective. Are you… okay?”

Amanda screamed again, and he involuntarily flinched.

Gavin sighed heavily, leaning into his desk, turning away from RK900. “I’m fucking not but I’ve got work to do.”

The android merely nodded, falling quiet.

They sat in silence for a couple of hours, analyzing case files, tying together more pieces. RK900 attempted to talk with Gavin a few times, but more often than not was only met with silence. He gave up eventually, instead resigning himself to finishing a couple reports and going over the John-Doe-in-the-river’s autopsy. No missing persons cases could be tied to the body, which further supported the idea that he had been a transient. Or just someone with no friends or family who gave a single solitary fuck about him. It really wasn't their problem much anymore, either way - the case had New Jericho tied into it now, and Hank and Connor were leading the investigation due to android involvement. The best that RK900 could do would be to confirm if the John Doe was a part of a red ice ring at some point. Still, though, how was it so impossible to identify a human?

RK900 felt himself bristle at the thought, and he shifted in his seat again, trying to clear it from his mind. He glanced over at Gavin, who was hunched forward in his chair and staring blindly at the terminal. His vision was clearly flooded with unshed tears. The ache in his chest screamed, this time – overriding Amanda.

Gavin got up suddenly, muttering a quiet “’scuse me” as he headed off in the direction of the restrooms. RK900 sat back in his chair, watching as Gavin made his way out of sight. He sighed heavily, turning back to his reports. Odd, though it was, that he couldn’t bring himself to focus on them. Between the Amanda virus’s lunatic desperation to regain full control, the slow but undeniable breakdown of his coding thanks to one Detective Reed, the ache that lingered in every inch of his chassis… And the look of absolute despair on Gavin’s face…

Gavin eventually returned, stuffing a tissue back into his pocket. He grabbed his coffee cup without a word and headed back to the breakroom. This time, Hank – who had just stepped into the precinct – followed him. RK900 could see as Hank grabbed hold of Gavin and pulled him into a tight hug with absolutely no fight from the usually feisty man. They stayed like that for a while, and a strange bitterness wormed it’s way up RK900’s throat. He turned away from them, clasping his hands together to avoid snapping any other things around him, the arm of his chair be damned.

RK900 didn’t notice when Gavin sat back in his chair, didn’t hear him call out his name, only registered Gavin’s presence when he leaned across their desks and waved hand in his face. The android almost jumped at that, swiveling to look at Gavin who immediately slumped back into his chair.

“You sure you’re good? We can’t both be having complete breakdowns at work,” he joked weakly, resting his head on his hand. There was no mirth to his words, and his eyes didn’t quite meet RK900 fully.

“I am fine, yes, just… momentarily distracted.” RK900 inclined his head to Gavin. A strange prompt appeared abruptly – HUG DETECTIVE GAVIN REED. He faltered a moment, before attempting to delete it. It came back immediately. Delete, reappear, delete, reappear. A low growl escaped the android before he could stop it, and Gavin leveled him with a particularly wide-eyed expression.

“The fuck?”

“Apologies. I have been having some… coding issues, as of late. Nothing to worry about, I assure you,” RK900 attempted to reassure, eyes focusing on Gavin once more.

“That noise was fucking terrifying,” Gavin muttered, a faint smirk on his face, and for a moment the air around them felt a touch lighter.

The lightness disappeared as quickly as it had come though, and Gavin let out a soft sigh, turning back to his terminal. He hated paperwork, but he was much better being in the office than he would be out on the field today – it only took one meltdown at a crime scene years ago (a particularly brutal domestic violence case, for reference) for Fowler to order him to desk duty each anniversary of Ryan’s death.

It had maybe gotten easier, ten years on, but the pain was still there. The overwhelming sadness, the trauma, the bitterness. And each time he thought he was cried out, more tears came and he was shuffling off to the bathroom to cry miserably alone in a stall. He was doing his best to fight it, today, because fuck – what would RK900 think of him? “I don’t need a weak partner who spends all day crying,” fuck.

RK900’s overall demeanor was, surprisingly, somewhat gentle – which Gavin definitely did not expect. It almost seemed to hurt worse; had Hank told him what today was? It was possible… He figured he had told Connor, judging by Connor’s soft greeting and awkward hand on his shoulder earlier that morning.

But RK900’s behavior was out of left-field, definitely. It was clear the android was dealing with something – who knows what the fuck it was, some stupid android thing probably – but he seemed to handle Gavin with kiddie gloves almost. His voice wasn’t as sharp, and his eyes were almost warm when RK900 looked at him.

That gentleness from a fucking war machine is what ended up sending Gavin into a tailspin.

He had been sitting, spacing out at his terminal, when a coffee cup was placed on his desktop. He hadn’t even seen RK900 get up, but the android was standing there, an almost-smile on his face and his LED stuttering between blue and yellow. His eyes were definitely warmer, now, verging on kind. Something swam in those icy blue depths that Gavin couldn’t place.

Gavin managed a stuttered thanks, carefully reaching for the cup only to realize it wasn’t even from the precinct – it was once again from that particularly expensive coffee shop, "The Hideout". How did RK900 disappear for that long without him realizing it at all? How long had he been sitting their, slowly spiraling, without realizing it at all? How much time had passed... fuck...

The beginning signs were there, but he tried to ignore them. Tried to pretend like his eyes weren't suddenly burning, and that the world hadn't just tilted on it's axis. That it wasn't suddenly impossible to take a deep breath, and that not even timing or any fancy exercise could get his breathing steady again. That he wasn't about to slip into a complete meltdown because his work partner had gone out of his way to go grab a fancy coffee from a really fuckin' fancy coffee shop. Like there wasn't the sound of blood rushing in his ears as his head started to spin, like he wasn't suddenly feeling so unbelievably nauseous he was thankful he had skipped breakfast that morning. Like he hadn't been tearing down a path of self-destruction recently only to have nearly everything foiled by some stupid fuckin' gorgeous android that looked so similarly to Ryan. Like everything wasn't simultaneously hitting warp speed and sludging through molasses. Like... like he wasn't going to have a panic attack in the middle of the precinct... A fucking panic attack, probably coupled by a complete nervous breakdown, of all things. But he was doing so fucking good.

RK900 was immediately in-tuned to the rapid degradation of Gavin’s vitals, and a swift feeling of panic rushed through him – a terrible emotion, and one that he hoped to never feel again, potential deviation be damned. Before he could react, however, Gavin was on his feet and disappearing down the doors that led to the archives, as well as a couple unused rooms that once upon a time held paper files and records.

He watched as Gavin all but power-walked away from him, eyes eventually dropping to the coffee cup left untouched on the desk. He looked up a moment later, eyes locking with Hank who merely held up a hand and shook his head. “Just wait,” he said, moving to look at the closed stairway doors. “Give him a few moments.”

RK900 nodded numbly, vaguely aware of the ache that seemed to almost vibrate through his chassis. It was becoming… painful again.

Amanda screamed.

He went to sit down, feeling more on edge than he thought possible.

Another crack lashed through his code, followed by a blinding error warning.

The HUG DETECTIVE GAVIN REED prompt flickered, disappeared, and reappeared as COMFORT DETECTIVE GAVIN REED.

He didn’t try to delete this one.

Lines of static code danced across his vision, and his LED was blaring a bright red. Connor stepped up next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. RK900 didn’t react, eyes glued to the closed doors.

“RK?”

No response.

“RK900.”

No response. Connor swallowed nervously. Was this going to be the breaking point?

Without warning, RK900 launched to his feet, Connor’s hand being ripped from his shoulder.

“I cannot just leave him to agony alone,” he spoke, voice crackling with static like an old, ruined stereo. His eyes were blaring bright blue, almost glowing, and Connor would swear they even flashed red in time with his LED.

“Please be careful,” the smaller android managed, taking a step back from the other. He cursed himself for his momentary fear, but RK900 was a powerhouse to be reckoned with, and to be frank, Connor did not want to get in his way again.

RK900 didn’t seem to register Connor’s words and instead made a bee-line for the staircase doors, pushing past them and taking the steps two at a time, long legs carrying him swiftly. He paused as he descended the final step, looking down the hallway.

Amanda was still screaming.

He could sense Gavin’s vitals from the far end of the hallway – the very last room, a seldom-used isolation chamber meant only for the most violent or depraved. He was in front of the door in moments, hand paused on the lever. Taking a deep (unnecessary) breath, RK900 did his best to pull himself together.

Amanda kept fucking screaming.

Carefully, he pushed the door open and stepped inside. The light wasn’t on, but he easily made out Gavin’s form huddled in the far corner. Stepping further into the room, he could hear the heavy sobs finally. Like approaching a frightened animal, RK900 slowly crept over to the Detective, kneeling next to him.

“Reed,” he murmured, reaching a hand out but faltering. Gavin was shaking violently, the sobbing erratic and broken. The ache in RK900 was absolutely painful now. “Reed,” he tried again, his voice soft. His vision had blurred once again, a strange phenomenon that he wasn’t fully familiar with. He let his hand continue in its path, landing gently on Gavin’s shoulder. The smaller form jumped at the touch, heading whipping up to look at RK900 directly.

“Fuck off,” Gavin managed to snarl, pushing himself back against the wall, throwing up immediate defenses. He could barely make out the form of RK900, but placed him immediately by his ice blue eyes that glowed in the dim lighting.

“Reed,” RK900 snapped, his voice gnarled by static. “Please don’t push me away.”

Gavin all but became paralyzed at hearing RK900’s broken voice, at the strained pained expression on his face, at the fact that his wide eyes seemed to be swimming with unshed tears – or whatever the fuck androids cried.

“I’m fighting every fiber of my being to be here,” RK900 continued, and Gavin could feel the shake that the android was doing his best to stem off. “But I could not just leave you down here to suffer alone.”

Gavin broke at that, defenses crumbling, and he slumped against the broad form of the android, allowing RK900 to wrap his arms around him and pull him closer. RK900 buried his face into the top of Gavin’s head, still fighting off the intense shaking, his artificial breath shuddering and quick. Gavin melted against the warmth provided, however, despite the shaking and fact that RK900 was fighting so hard to keep himself composed.

The objective – COMFORT DETECTIVE GAVIN REED – slowly disappeared and RK900 felt the slow slide back into impartialness. “Apologies, Reed. I really, truly, am so sorry,” he murmured, doing his best to keep his arms wrapped around Gavin even as priorities shifted and code overrode code.

A few moments later, Gavin pulled back, and was met with a familiar stoic face – but those ice blue eyes seemed to have taken on an ocean of emotion, regarding Gavin rather warmly. RK900 let his arms slip from around him, a hand raising in an aborted attempt to cup his cheek, before it fell away. Gavin shifted, wiped at his eyes, and sighed heavily. “Figures,” he murmured.

“It is a massive toll to fight it,” RK900 spoke, “but Connor believes there might be a chance. That maybe deviancy is a natural thing for androids, and not a virus like once thought.”

Gavin studied RK900’s face, wondering what that could possibly mean – and doing his best to squash any potential hope it brought him. “Maybe,” he replied, shrugging.

RK900 stood and reached a hand out to Gavin, who, after a moment, took it and allowed himself to be pulled up to his feet.

“What makes it so hard to fight it?”

“My coding is much more intense, much less vulnerable, and… the Amanda virus is rather distracting and controlling.”

“Amanda?”

“Yes… I suppose Connor never told you. Amanda was, to him, a mentor at first; one who helped him in succeeding in his missions. But as soon as he began to turn against her, she in turn tried to destroy him. He barely managed to escape her override. I’ve… not been so lucky. Due to my aggressive coding and the amped nature of the Amanda virus, I am having a much harder time fighting against it.”

“I see,” Gavin murmured, shifting. “Well… Whatever. We’ve got shit to do, I guess.” He paused, looking over RK900 fully, remembering the pained expression and tear-filled eyes. “Thank you.”

“Of course, Detective.”