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Don't Let Go

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Present

Gavin hadn’t expected to see Hank and Connor at this stupid dinner Elijah had requested at the last minute. At their family home, no less – Mom was on vacation, so Elijah and Chloe were house-sitting for some reason. Gavin and Nines had set out for the place, with Gavin grumbling about the cold weather and Nines humming a new song he’d discovered and hadn’t yet gotten tired of in the last hour. Gavin expected a mostly chill dinner with Elijah talking about his latest project and Chloe probably asking Nines about their work because Gavin didn’t like talking about it, but he wanted Nines to hang out with his friends (Chloe had reached out to Connor after the Revolution, and they’d become friends, and Connor, attempting to help Nines acclimate, had connected them, and now Nines was also friends with Candace and Holly, the two remaining ST200s who had chosen to stay with Elijah after the Revolution). And Nines, the idiot, just liked staying with Gavin, which meant less friend time.

Gavin loved him, but still. Apparently it was his job to do everything like the self-sacrificing prick he was. So. Attendance at this dinner and hoping Elijah didn’t spike his damn drinks.

They didn’t arrive first. The house looked just as well-kept as normal. Apparently Chloe had been telling a story to Connor in the living room. Connor smiled kindly at both Gavin and Nines and Hank grimaced at Gavin before easily aiming a soft half-smile at Nines. Candace and Holly wandered, sometimes chatting with the guests and sometime off around the house doing something. Gavin sipped his drink and hoped it wasn’t a long meal.

Gavin stopped Elijah as they were heading into the dining room. “The fuck are they doing here?” he asked, gesturing to Hank and Connor.

“It’s a surprise,” Elijah said. He smiled mischievously and patted Gavin’s cheek. Gavin swatted him away and Elijah proceeded into the dining room.

Gavin grumbled as he walked over to Nines, who was already sitting on one side of the table. Hank and Connor took their chairs opposite, while Elijah and Chloe took the ends of the table. Candace sat by Nines and Holly sat by Connor.

The meal was good, as usual. Gavin was always happy that while Elijah paid, Chloe had control over the menu, and made things that he could eat. Their mom had instilled some sense of culinary taste into Elijah’s brain, but he was worse than Gavin with junk food at times, and Chloe had a good grasp of menu decision-making.

The androids chatted for most of the meal, with occasional comments from the humans. Unfortunately the humans didn’t have much to say to each other. Hank and Gavin didn’t quite hate each other anymore, but it was still a close thing. Hank, at best, did not like Elijah (and it didn’t help he was Gavin’s brother). Gavin had no interest in talking with Elijah about things that came to mind in front of Hank or Connor. And Elijah seemed perfectly content to listen to the androids talk. Gavin knew Elijah had attempted to apologize to Connor for his little “test”, and Connor had understandably not been that forgiving. At least Elijah didn’t seem that intent on bugging the guy.

Finally, after they’d been halfway through dessert - a wonderful carrot cake that Holly had prepared - Elijah put his fork down and said, “So I think it’s time I come clean about why I invited you all here.”

Gavin and Hank both frowned at him. Nines and Connor went on alert.

Elijah stood up and said, “If you’d like to follow me this way, I’ll show you what I’m working on.”

“You know what the fuck this is, Reed?” Hank hissed as they followed Elijah.

Gavin shrugged. He truly had no clue.

Until they got to the room where--

Gavin froze on the threshold.

“The fuck, Reed?” Hank demanded.

“Are you alright Gavin?” Nines asked.

Gavin swallowed and moved so the others could pass him. “I’m fine. I’m... I’m fine.”

Nines frowned, clearly not believing him.

Gavin didn’t know whether to hope what he was staring at wasn’t what he thought it was, or to be annoyed that Elijah had converted the garage into a holding area for one of his experiments. He hoped Mom gave him a talking to.

“So I’ve always had a fascination with time travel,” Elijah said.

Gavin snorted.

“Just something I thought up as a child. Growing up with science fiction books and such. And of course physics is fascinating. Not my cup of tea all the time, you understand, but I did almost choose it as a focus AI caught my eye. But once I left CyberLife, I had a lot of free time on my hands.”

“There a point to this?” Hank asked.

“Of course! What you see before you is a functional time machine.” Elijah lightly patted the large machine.

Chloe was standing expressionlessly by the controls for the machine, but everyone else stared at the large machine in what could be considered the equivalent of a giant blink.

Hank scoffed. “Seriously?”

Connor raised an eyebrow as he studied the device. Nines was frowning, but that was normal. Gavin wished he’d joined Candace and Holly in whatever they were doing elsewhere in the house.

“A colleague of mine and I have been working on it for a while. We recently made our third successful test. And now we think we can try it on human subjects.”

“You’re fucking kidding,” Gavin said as Hank opened his mouth. “Even for you, this is fucking whack.”

Elijah sighed, but looked at Hank instead of responding. “So I thought, why not make it a good test? Why not do a favor for Lieutenant Anderson?”

“What?” Hank asked. “Why? For what?”

“Well, you and Connor are involved.” Hank colored slightly and Connor raised an eyebrow. “Connor… bore through my performance before the Revolution. Connor hasn’t lived very long, but I know Cole’s absence pains—”

Don’t,” Hank started, “say his name.” Hank’s face was thunderous. “How the fuck do you even know about him?”

Elijah didn’t look at Gavin. “Basic research. Google.”

“This is the dumbest fucking joke, and I promise you, working at a police station, you see a lot of stupid ones.”

“We can leave, Hank,” Connor said, quietly.

“I swear this isn’t a joke,” Elijah said. “Lieutenant, I created androids. A new species. I’ve had a lot of free time, and I’ve been using it to delve into science that veers in a very different direction. I would hardly waste it on a joke.”

Hank scoffed.

“In any event, your son is currently deceased. If this does nothing, if this doesn’t bring him back, how has that changed?”

“You, dangling my… my family like that, like it’s actually even remotely possible, for what? Getting your rocks off? It’s disgusting.”

“I assure you I’m not doing that.”

Hank considered it, glaring briefly at Elijah, then looked away.

“What were your tests?” Nines asked, gazing calmly at Elijah.

Elijah turned to him and they had a quiet conversation. Gavin watched Hank and Connor. Connor was rubbing Hank’s shoulder and speaking softly to him.

“This won’t… hurt him?” Hank suddenly asked, turning to Elijah.

“No.”

“Or bring him back as some… mutated thing? Since we’re in fantasy land and yeah, I’ve read a lot, too. I may not be a scientist, but…”

“No. It won’t do that.”

“So what, it just snatches him out of somewhere? Wouldn’t that mess with the… with time or something?”

“If I took him from just before his death, it shouldn’t. Before he was beyond rescue.”

Hank swallowed. He looked down. “…Fine. Do it.”

Elijah signaled to Chloe, who got to work. Elijah took up position at a separate part of the interface.

“I will say that we likely only have one shot at this,” Elijah said, eyes glued to what he was inputting. “Using this on small things requires a lot of energy and causes a lot of wear, and some of the components are very, very difficult to make, even with my money and tools. Using it on a human… Well.”

The room grew warmer as the machine booted up. A whirring filled the air.

“You even sure you got the date and time right?” Hank demanded, raising his voice over the noise.

“I was very detailed in my research, Lieutenant,” Elijah replied.

Gavin stepped up to him and grabbed his elbow. “Stop this,” he hissed.

Elijah pulled away. “No.”

The whirring grew louder.

“It’s working…” Chloe said.

Hank could see the silhouette of a child start to appear in the middle of the room, near the machine.

Gavin stumbled into Elijah. Elijah looked at him in surprise, typed something, waited, then cut the machine.

The silhouette vanished.

Hank blinked, then looked up. “What the flying—what happened?”

Elijah and Chloe helped Gavin sit down. Gavin was staring at his hands.

“It didn’t work,” Connor said, quietly, looking at Hank.

“…Yes it did,” Elijah said, staring at Gavin, his eyes shining.


October 7th, 2008

A little boy covered in blood, his clothing ripped, landed on a well-kept lawn in a quiet, wealthy suburb in Detroit, Michigan. The boy was too out of it to feel much, and thankfully he didn’t fall very far.

Another boy ran up to him and crouched down. He yelled, “Mom! Mom!”

A woman ran over and her eyes widened at the sight of the bloodied newcomer. “Oh my—Elijah, what happened?”

“He just… dropped out of the sky.”

“Hold on a sec, baby, let me look at him.” Dr. Angelina Reed knelt carefully by the injured boy and said, “Elijah, tell your father to get the car started.”


“No memory?” Dr. Carson Reed asked the attending doctor a day later, as the Reed family waited quietly outside the room of the boy who’d appeared in their yard. He’d been successfully operated on and was looking to recover. The two doctors Reed had kept him safe and cared for on the way to the hospital, which greatly helped his chances.

“It was obviously a traumatic experience,” the doctor replied. “But yes, that currently seems to be the case.”

Elijah walked into the boy’s room and sat next to the him on a nearby chair. Elijah kicked his feet back and forth on the chair and asked, “Do you want to see my sketchbook?”

“Sure,” the nameless boy replied.

“I drew robots I’m going to build someday.”

“That’s cool.”

Angelina and Carson looked at each other, then at the two boys.

“The police still haven’t found anything,” Angelina said. “No crashes nearby. No missing children. No one matching his description…”

“He could be a runaway,” the doctor said. “Although his chances of surviving that long in his condition…”

“What happens if the police don’t find anything?” Angelina asked.

“I’m not sure. Social services handles that.”


January 4th, 2009

“This is your room, Gavin,” Carson said, showing the little boy around. He was wearing clothes the shelter had provided, and the scar over his nose was even more obvious now that he was all cleaned up and the bandages were gone.

Gavin seemed spellbound by the new room. The place was huge. The bed was huge. There was a desk that was all his. And toys.

“We’ll pick out a backpack for school tomorrow,” Angelina said, watching Gavin explore from the doorway. “Winter Break ends soon, and you’ll start your new school. Elijah will show you around.”

Gavin hesitantly reached out to the bedspread, then pulled back. He looked at the Reeds. “This… is really mine?”

“Yes,” Angelina said, smiling and coming in to sit on the floor near him. “It’s all yours.”

Elijah peeked around his father, then walked in and sat down on the floor, dropping his pile of toy robots on the ground. “Gavin, come look at these! I wanted to show you them!”

Gavin walked over and sat with him, and the two started playing together. Angelina stood up and walked over to Carson, smiling at the pair.


March 14th, 2016

“Do you think I’m an alien?” Gavin asked Elijah through the screen while they skyped. Elijah was working on another assignment in the workshop he and his mentor, Professor Amanda Stern, had commandeered for Elijah. The University of Colbridge was happy to give their local prodigy a lot of perks, like a mostly private workshop.

“Well we already know you can’t teleport,” Elijah said, not taking his eyes away from his work. “So the magic power theory is out. Unless your spaceship teleported you here for some reason. And the doctors say you’re human.”

“I know, but… maybe I’m like… a chameleon or something? Blending in without realizing it.”

“If you were something like what I think you’re talking about, we’d have figured it out by now, probably. And in any case, you still don’t know.”

Gavin killed some more enemies on his game as he grumbled.

“I still think time travel is a good working theory,” Elijah commented.

“You’ve thought that since we were eight and you were obsessed with “Doctor Who”. And nothing’s come of it.”

“Well I wasn’t exactly interested in figuring out the mechanics of quantum physics when I was eight.”

“Yeah because you were too busy taking apart every piece of electronics you could get your hands on,” Gavin muttered.

“But think about it,” Elijah said. “What could make you randomly drop out of the sky like you did? It’s either teleportation or time travel. Magic, or science. Or both. Because science is magical.”

“Well when I randomly fall into one of those portals again, I’ll let you know.”

“You better.”

Elijah kept working and Gavin looked at his in-game map.

“How’s college?” Gavin asked.

“Oh… boring. Interesting. But boring. I’m just happy I can focus on my work.”

“Your robot army?”

“Yes. My robot army. Make the world a better place and all that. I guess. I don’t know. It’s cool to think of, though. Advancements in AI, blah de blah, I know you find this boring.”

“I never think you’re boring.”

Elijah looked at the screen with a grin. “I know.”

Gavin grinned back.


May 7th, 2020

Gavin: I think this guy is my dad. [Download photo?]

Elijah: Hot.

Gavin: Ugh. Eli!

Elijah: lol kidding. I mean he’s not bad, tho. Why do you think he’s your dad?

Gavin: Just a feeling.

Elijah: Where’d you see him?

Gavin: Assembly today. That kid that got hit at the crosswalk? Guess this guy got called on to do a safety talk.

Elijah: What’s his name?

Gavin: Hank Anderson.

Elijah: You didn’t stalk him did you?

Gavin: Ugh no. I just paid attention. Unlike some people.

Elijah: I pay attention to IMPORTANT things. That would be important. Maybe. Idk Did you talk to him?

Gavin: No

Elijah: Why not?

Gavin: About what? ‘Hey, am I your secret kid that you randomly lost? Or got rid of? Did I run away from home? Because I have this feeling you’re my dad.’

Gavin: Eli?

Elijah: He doesn’t officially have kids, and he’s not married. Definitely a secret lovechild.

Gavin: 9_9

Elijah: Just steal some of his saliva and run a DNA test.

Gavin: I’m not even bothering to respond directly to that.

Elijah: Fine, I’ll do it. Coward.

Gavin: ELI

Elijah: You know Mom and Dad would talk to him for you.

Gavin: No.

Elijah: Gavin!

Gavin: No. Just drop it. Forget I said anything.


September 14th, 2023

Gavin sniffed and ate another thin mint as he sat wrapped in lots of blankets in Elijah’s room at their parent’s house. Elijah was home for once and they’d been watching different movies. Gavin had come home, expecting to just be embarrassed for a while and get over everything, but when Elijah had heard, he’d come immediately over.

Elijah grabbed an Oreo and ate one. “Hey, you know who sucks?”

Gavin shook his head.

“Guys named Brian. That’s who sucks.”

Gavin sniffed again, but smiled.

“Don’t you think so, Chloe?”

The android – the RT600 – looked up from the chair she was sitting in by Elijah’s desk. “Guys named Brian suck.”

“See, even Chloe thinks so.”

“You just made her say that.”

Elijah scoffed. “Well she’s right.”

“I dunno,” Gavin said. “Maybe if he did I’d still be dating him.”

Elijah sighed. “OMG Gavin, TMI.”

Gavin laughed and Elijah fast forwarded through one of the scenes they never liked.

“…Thanks for coming, Eli.”

“Of course. I always got you.

They watched for a bit more, then Elijah added. “You know your maybe dad is engaged.”

“What?”

Elijah pulled up a page on his phone, then handed it over.

Gavin looked at a picture of the guy who’d given that speech at Gavin’s high school – Detective Hank Anderson – standing next to a smiling woman. The caption for her read, “Phoebe Gataki”. Gavin stared. And stared some more.

“What’s wrong?” Elijah asked.

“That’s… That’s my mom,” Gavin said quietly.

“…Gavin, you have to tell them.”

“It’s just… memory! I don’t even know where it comes from.”

“It’s memory! It’s one of the few things you’re remembering!”

“Maybe I saw them somewhere. Maybe my parents just looked like them or something.”

“Gavin…”

“Just… forget it.” Gavin pushed the phone back at him. “Thanks for telling me.”

“What are you afraid of happening? At worst they think you’re weird. Best, maybe they’ve been missing you all this time.”

“Or they put out a restraining order against me or something.”

Elijah scoffed. “That’s dumb. It’s not like telling him you think you’re his long-lost son would make him do that.”

“Yeah, it’s definitely completely normal people who come up with those kinds of stories and we should not be worried about them.”

Elijah sighed. “Fine.”


December 9th, 2024

“Don’t be too bothered by Hank,” Officer Ben Collins said, smiling at the newbies as Detective Anderson stalked away. “He’s a bit gruff. Really into doing a good job. He’ll grow on you.”

Gavin nodded, but caught Tina Chen’s eye-roll when Ben turned away. Gavin snorted.

It was a difficult first day at the DPD. All the newbies felt new. A bit terrified of what the job would be like in person. Potential hazing. The ability to screw people’s lives up with the power they were given. Coworkers who didn’t like rookies. Bosses who didn’t like rookies.

But they all settled in. The bottom of the ladder did that to you.

At one point Gavin was listening to a new assignment Detective Anderson was giving him. The man paused and gave him a thoughtful look.

“You look… familiar. Have we met before?”

Gavin wanted to say it. To ask. To know. But he was terrified of being wrong. Really terrified. “Uhh… no, I don’t think so. You gave a speech at my high school once.”

“Huh.” Hank studied him a bit longer, then shrugged. “That would’a been years ago. They picking you guys younger?”

Gavin shrugged. “Uh… no, sir.”

Hank laughed. “Relax, Junior. I’m not gonna murder you any time soon.”

“…Yes, sir.”

Of course Gavin had followed Hank’s career. Idolized him a bit. A lot. In person, Hank was literally and metaphorically larger than life. Smart, quick on the take, creative.

Gavin liked the man. Truly. Even if he wasn’t Gavin’s father, Gavin liked him.


February 23rd, 2027

Gavin won the latest round of Foosball and looked up to see Elijah still glaring at the table.

“Another round?” Gavin asked.

Elijah sighed and stood up straight, stretching. “Maybe… later.”

Gavin grabbed the remote for the TV and turned on something that they could just sit through, walking around to push Elijah onto the couch. Elijah grumbled, but went, folding his arms and glaring at the TV.

They didn’t talk for most of the evening. Gavin ordered pizza.

“I’ll go with you to her service if you want me to,” Gavin said. “You know Mom and Dad would, too. They were friends.”

“I know.”

Around 2 AM, Elijah sniffed and buried his face in Gavin’s shirt. Gavin wrapped his arms around Elijah’s shoulders.


October 18th, 2029

“The bar’s not bad this time,” Tina said, setting that round of drinks down at the table Gavin and Chris had snagged. The police gala was boring, as usual, but the open bar was always good.

“Oh Hank brought Phoebe,” Chris said, looking across the room.

Tina and Gavin looked over.

“That’s his family?” Tina commented. “Geez. Model cop right there.” Tina nudged Gavin. “Hey Gav, close your mouth, you’re drooling.”

“Fuck off I am not.”

“Look we all know you have a crush on him. It’s not something to be ashamed of.”

“I don’t—! Fuck off.” Gavin studiously ignored the Andersons for the rest of the night. They did come over so Hank could introduce Phoebe and Cole, the latter of whom was somehow asleep, and Gavin smiled, shaking Phoebe’s hand while Hank held the baby. Phoebe seemed nice, and Cole… Gavin wondered if he was staring at his brother. Because up close, Phoebe and Hank, together, were… overwhelming. Reminding him of something he couldn’t quite comprehend.


July 12th, 2030

Hank sat at his desk, staring at the file Gavin had sent him on his phone. The office was relatively quiet that day, so Gavin had figured… it was a decent chance to take. Gavin had awkwardly stood while talking, but now he was sitting, waiting for Hank’s response.

From Hank’s slightly confused frown, it wasn’t looking good.

“Told Phoebe that genetic history thing was stupid… You’re saying this website matched Phoebe and I as your parents?”

“Well… yeah. And other stuff.”

“What other stuff?”

“Just… I remember you? And Phoebe? As… as…”

Hank waited.

“I don’t know how to explain it. Like I said, I was adopted, and…”

“And you want to know who your biological parents are.”

“Well yeah.”

“Can’t you go through the system? Try and learn that way?”

“It’s not… I was kind of spontaneously dropped on my parents. The system doesn’t have records of where I came from. My brother has this stupid… anyway. No, I can’t.”

Hank sighed. “Gavin, when were you born?”

“The doctors think sometime around 2002.”

Hank sighed again and looked around. “Look, between you and me, virginity bullshit is bullshit.”

“…Okay?”

“But like… I was still a virgin when you were born.”

“…What?”

“Well… at least with women. I didn’t try it out with a woman until junior year of college.”

“…Oh.”

“Yeah. And I didn’t meet Phoebe until about two years before we were married. Never donated sperm or anything, either. Certainly never put up a kid for adoption or… abandoned one.”

“…Oh.”

Hank stared at him. Gavin stared back.

“…And you don’t have any siblings?” Gavin finally asked. He knew the answer, but still.

“No. Phoebe doesn’t either.”

“…Oh.”

“So if this is some weird practical joke or—”

“No… I mean… yeah… I mean… Just uh… Forget about it, okay?”

“Look, Gav,” Hank put a hand on his arm and smiled sadly. “If this is about your father… I get it, grief makes us do weird things. Heck when my mother died, well…” He shook his head. “But this…” he waved his phone slightly. “This isn’t gonna bring him back or replace him or whatever.

Gavin yanked his arm away. He was already red-faced from spilling his guts about this nonsense. And now… “Fuck you, Hank.”

Hank sighed.

Gavin turned away before the burning in his eyes turned to something else, and walked back to his desk.


Later that day

“Maybe he’s lying?” Elijah said, watching Gavin pace. Elijah’s home seemed so much emptier these days now that he was officially out of CyberLife. Gavin tried to visit often, since he knew how frustrated and angry Elijah was. How bored he was getting. Unfortunately that also meant that Elijah had more time to spend on the “Gavin is either the secret child of Hank Anderson or fell out of a time portal” theories.

“Why? I’ve looked him up. You’ve looked them up. Phoebe was out of the country, living in Belgium the year I was born. And I find it hard to imagine me somehow escaping from Belgium to Michigan without any records of that happening.”

“Well… maybe the doctors got the wrong year?”

“It’s just… Hank said no, okay? And I probably tanked any good opinion I had with him…”

“I doubt that.”

Gavin rolled his eyes.

“And you don’t want to try talking to Phoebe Anderson?”

“No. I barely know her. I’m not going to go after Hank’s wife. They’ll think I’m stalking her, and I don’t blame them. Or harassing them. Or something.”

Elijah sighed. “Fine.” He leaned back in his chair. “So let’s say they’re telling the truth. Still doesn’t discount the time travel theory.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake Eli…”

“Well you appeared out of the sky, Gavin,” Elijah said with a smile. “What the heck do you expect me to think?”

“I think you were six years old.”

“I think I was one of the smartest six-year-olds around and I can recall that you fell out of the sky, and that’s what Mom and Dad both said I kept repeating. What do you think I actually saw? A car that made no noise as it zoomed off? Some magically appearing woods from which you ran out of? We lived in a wealthy area, Gavin, rich people report their neighbors and their mailmen as much as let someone walk past them on the street. They would have spotted a blood-covered child wandering down the sidewalk.”

Gavin rolled his eyes. “So what, let’s say I time traveled. How?”

“Someone could have made you. Heck, maybe I did.”

“How? When? You had a time travel as a six-year-old?”

“No. But maybe I invented it at some point in the future. With one of my friends who specializes in quantum physics.”

“Oh you mean the one you were head over heels for?”

“Shut up.”

“But why drag me there?”

“I don’t know. But I do think it’s interesting that you perfectly match Cole Anderson’s DNA.”

“Fuck’s sake, Eli.”

“Much as you don’t want to consider that half of things, the results were there, and you didn’t tell Hank about them.”

“Because it’s creepy as shit.”

“You think he’s your brother. Brothers don’t have matching DNA like that. Maybe if you were somehow identical twins, but obviously you’re not.”

“So what? You think… you think I’m Cole?”

Elijah stared back at him, not smiling now.

Gavin scoffed.

“I’m just saying… see what happens to Cole when he turns six.”

“Well if he disappears spontaneously, I’ll let you know.”


When Cole died, Hank was, reasonably, devastated. He didn’t show up to work for a month. When he finally did return, he was a shell of a man. He moved away from all his friendships. His work suffered. Gavin honestly tried to help, but was cursed away. The other officers in the precinct all pitched in to help lighten Hank’s load. Hank didn’t seem to notice much. He pushed through a few of his cases. Slowly. Badly. Fowler gave him a lot of slack. So did the rest of them.


November 14th, 2035

Gavin was lying on his couch, listening to the rain fall while Elijah was talking through their video call from Gavin’s phone, on the coffee table. He’d been going through the analysis of the report from the accident and Cole’s death.

“The thing about there being a body doesn’t mean you didn’t time travel.”

“Ah, I’m just Cole’s identical twin who doesn’t exist.”

“Well there’s one theory that if you were to grab someone out of history and try to… pull them to some other point in time, that the timeline compensates. It… kind of… creates a copy. To ensure no paradoxes.”

“So it’s time travel cloning now?”

“I suppose. Time’s weird like that.”

“Do you even listen to yourself?”

“Yes. I’ve gone over it with Janice a dozen times. We’ve run tests. It’s bizarre, but it’s one of the few explanations.”

“Oh you’ve run tests, have you?”

“What if this is what saves Cole’s life? Your life, Gavin! Rescuing you from that car crash, and taking you somewhere you’d be safe, could get medical help?”

“Well I guess I’ll never know, because time travel isn’t real, and this whole theory is ridiculous.”

“But it explains so much! How you just landed in our yard. Why there was no one around. No records of missing kids or car crashes with minors—”

“Because I was abandoned Eli! Someone thought I wasn’t worth it! That’s all!”

“…Gavin.”

“Just accept it, Eli. I have.”

“Gavin, if someone really abandoned you, you know they’re full of shit right?”

Gavin smiled and looked away.

“I mean it.”

Gavin turned his head to look at the phone, sitting up on its little dock so Elijah could see him. Elijah smiled at him, and Gavin smiled back.

“I know you mean it. Thanks.”


Gavin didn’t like Connor. Connor was a symbol of the company that kicked Eli out, his last work mutilated beyond his designs, and of course, pushed into Gavin’s lap. Not to mention he could tell Connor was having the kind of relationship Gavin had wanted with Hank and had never been able to have. Fowler had never assigned them as partners. And yeah, maybe Hank had hated Connor’s guts to start with, but Hank was warming up to him. And Gavin bounced between being intensely jealous… and being happy at least that Hank had someone.


November 8th, 2038

Gavin dropped his duffel on the guest bed in the room Elijah kept available for him at Elijah’s place. Elijah had offered to let Gavin stay there permanently, and it was tempting. But Gavin liked being closer to work and his friends. Still, the bed was nice and big, and the room was almost the size of his tiny apartment. Enzo, Gavin’s one-eyed black cat, had taken up residence on his normal cat tree, always enjoying his temporary home.

Angelina Reed smiled as she stepped into the doorway. They always took this time of the year off, so she was in normal clothes., wearing a shirt with cute characters on it, comfortable jeans, and slippers. “Going to take a nap?”

“Naw.” Gavin stood up and grinned at her. “I can help with dinner, though.”

They ended up working on various projects in Elijah’s giant kitchen. Candace – the RT600 who enjoyed cooking – was sitting at the table and reading through some cookbooks that Angelina had brought for her, while Gavin and Angelina worked. Gavin was busy peeling potatoes. Elijah was at another part of the counter, rolling out cookie dough balls onto sheets, while Chloe watched, curious. Elijah didn’t cook or bake much, so she was always fascinated when he did. Holly was playing with Enzo.

The humans chatted about work – for Angelina and Gavin, primarily, Elijah mostly worked on different hobby projects when he felt like it. Gavin shied away from most of his work talk. He didn’t feel very comfortable talking about Connor and the rise in android-related crimes. And too much of his work was depressing, anyway.

Angelina had some interesting work stories. A surgery that took nearly a full day. An infamous meeting of the coffee council at work to rearrange procedures in the staff kitchen. The usual.

They watched some episodes of “Due South” while they ate. It had been one of Carson Reed’s favorite shows. A way of remembering, but also laughing, like he would have wanted. Chloe, Candace, and Holly, sat on another part of the couch to watch with them, curious.

The three humans fell asleep on Angelina’s big bed rather than split off for the night. Angelina held tight to her boys, whispering how proud their father was. How much she missed him. How happy she was to still have her two babies with her. They whispered “I love you” many, many times.


November 9th, 2038

Elijah went for a morning swim while Gavin and Angelina did some yoga in one of the sun rooms. Angelina was gently encouraging as Gavin struggled with the forms Holly led them through.

Gavin was out of practice.

“We could always share routines,” Angelina said, smiling as Gavin worked through another form. “Video call through morning workouts.”

“Yeah sure, that’d be cool,” Gavin said, mostly focused on what he was doing.

“Doesn’t Tina still work out with you?”

“Well… she used to, but she’s got a new girlfriend and they like to work out together so…”

“Oh, well good for her. I’m glad she found someone new. What about Chris?”

“He and his wife get up way too damn early.”

“Oh. Is there anyone else…?”

“Naw I uh… usually go it alone.”

“…Is there a local workout group you could work out with, maybe?”

“Probably. Just haven’t bothered.”

“Honey, are you lonely?”

“Mom! I’m not lonely.”

“You still don’t have a work partner, you haven’t dated in a while, Tina’s seeing someone, Chris is focused on his family—”

“Mom, jeez!”

“I just want you to be happy, sweetheart. And you don’t do well when you’re lonely.”

“…I’m doing the online dating thing.”

“And how’s that going?”

“About as well as you’d imagine.”

She sighed. “You know you can talk to me if you’re struggling, right?”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Elijah requests that you remain in the workout areas for the foreseeable future,” Holly said before bending into a new form.

“What?” Gavin asked. “Why?”

“Elijah has a meeting and he would like some privacy,” Holly replied.

“…What the fuck is he having a meeting for?” Gavin asked as he stood up, glaring now.

Angelina sighed. “It’s probably one of his scientist friends or his accountant or something. Don’t be mean to Holly.” She looked Holly. “He’s sorry, Holly.”

Gavin flushed slightly. “Sorry, Holly.”

“No problem, Gavin.”

“He wouldn’t do something like this now,” Gavin replied. “He always blocks this time off.”

“Well wait until he’s done, then you can yell at him.”

Gavin and his mother were allowed into the kitchen eventually and got to work on lunch.

Elijah finally walked in and went straight to the fridge to pull out a soda.

Gavin glared. “What the fuck was that about?”

“Lieutenant Anderson and the RK800 showed up to ask me some questions.”

“What the fuck? Why were Hank and Connor here? What’d they want to know?”

Elijah sighed. “They wanted to know where the deviant androids are hiding?”

“What? And you know?”

“No. But they thought I did.”

“You fucking—”

“Boys,” Angelina said. “No fighting.”

Gavin scoffed and walked out of the room.

Elijah followed him to Gavin’s room and leaned against the doorway, watching Gavin start putting things in his duffel bag. “What are you doing?”

“I need to go back into work.”

“You know what this time is like for Mom.”

“And so did you when you let Hank and Connor in here!”

“Would you rather I said no to your coworker? On a case you apparently care about now?”

Gavin threw down the shirt he was folding and glared at his half-full duffel.

“It’s not your case, Gavin. Let it go.”

Gavin pushed past him, leaving the duffel behind. He and his mother ended up playing foosball in Elijah’s large game room. They were quite intense, with Holly and Candace keeping an eye on the game. Elijah and Chloe were sitting back on the couch and watching some TV.

Then Warren’s announcement came on. Elijah shut the TV off.

Gavin stopped playing and just stared down at the foosball table, breathing hard.

“Gavin?”

Gavin smiled up at his mother. “It’s fine, Mom.” He stopped Elijah before heading to bed. “Hey… you got something to help me get to sleep? I’ve been having some issues… and I just… I know I’m not gonna sleep much tonight.”

“Yeah, sure. I’ll have Chloe make something.”

“Thanks.”


November 10th, 2038

They didn’t watch the news the next day. They rewatched some movies Carson Reed had loved, tried a few recipes Candace had been collecting, to various degrees of success. They matched each other on different team games in Elijah’s game room, with Angelina and Gavin fighting for the lead in wins, although Holly frequently beat both of them, proving to be expert at “Mario Kart”. They played with Enzo, and browsed the fosters that Gavin was considering, since he worried Enzo got lonely when Gavin worked long hours.

They finished the evening by rewatching “The Muppet Movie” and singing along with all the songs.

Elijah left to go to the bathroom at one point, and hid his frown as he walked back in, pocketing his phone. Chloe brought in some fruit juice near the end. Elijah was into it lately, and his brother and mother seemed to like it, too.

“Why’s it blue though?” Gavin asked as he drained his glass. “Trying to replicate thirium a bit too much?”

“Chloe says it doesn’t taste like thirium,” Elijah replied. “I just like the color blue, that’s all.”

Gavin shrugged and went back to watching the movie. He ended up falling asleep at Angelina’s side as she started another.

Elijah settled in, knowing that Angelina would likely stay up. He turned his phone notifications off and nodded to Chloe. “Thank you.”


November 11th, 2038

“You feeling sick, honey?” Angelina said, sitting by Gavin’s side as he grumbled from his burrow in his bed. It was getting to be late morning.

“Just… not great…”

“Mm… I don’t think you have a fever, so that’s good. Still. A day in bed doesn’t sound bad. You want us to leave you alone?”

Gavin tugged at her arm. “Stay… please?”

Angelina kissed his head. “Of course, baby.”

They all sat in Gavin’s room for most of the day, watching some more TV that Angelina hadn’t had time to catch up on with her schedule. Gavin was awake enough to criticize some of the crime shows they turned on, but shortly burrowed back against Angelina’s side. Elijah and Chloe made lunch.

They were there together when Elijah eventually gave up and turned the news on. Angelina held both her sons tight as they watched the Battle for Detroit. Elijah had his free arm wrapped around Chloe. Candace and Holly held each other on a chair nearby. Gavin’s head rested in Angelina’s lap, and Enzo curled by his stomach.

“I’m just glad you’re not out there,” Angelina said, lightly brushing her fingers through Gavin’s hair.

“Should… be…” Gavin mumbled, quietly.

“You’d probably get shot or something,” Elijah said. “This is insane.”

Gavin fell asleep again.


Waiting out the end of the Revolution was difficult, but it helped that Elijah’s home was so isolated and they had plenty of food and water stocked up, and even back-up generators. Gavin had it out with Elijah about slipping something into Gavin’s drink, for which their mother was also annoyed at Elijah. Elijah promised to never do it again. He’d gotten notifications about what was happening in the city and wanted Gavin to stay out of it, for Gavin’s safety.

Eventually, Gavin was able to return to work. Cleaning up seemed to be just as big of a mess as dealing with everything when it was happening, so Gavin had enough to distract him from being pissed off at Elijah. Connor returned to work, too, along with Hank, and Gavin was busy enough that he could ignore his jealousy. It helped that he started to realize that Hank and Connor’s relationship was very different than the one Gavin wanted, so Gavin mostly just rolled his eyes and got back to focusing on the job.

And of course whatever was going on between Hank and Connor was put at the back of his mind when the RK900, Nines, showed up, to partner up with Gavin. Gavin still had trouble seeing past the claws of CyberLife taking something that Elijah had created and making it entirely their own. But Nines was really good at his job, while also being thoughtful, and even kind.

And attractive. And tall. And buff. Which Gavin pointedly tried to ignore when Tina frequently dropped these facts in regular conversation.

Tina argued it was the fact that he loved cats that finally won Gavin over. Gavin refused to agree to that.


March 23rd, 2039

“Sometimes I feel like there’s something missing,” Nines said, tracing shapes on Gavin’s arm as they lay together in the dark on Gavin’s bed. “Things that CyberLife didn’t want me to have. To make me different from Connor.”

“You go into your code, though, right?” Gavin asked, adjusting his head slightly to be better tucked under Nines’ chin. "Digging out all the crap they stuck in there to... lobotomize you?"

“Frequently. But… Outside of what Connor and I have been able to recover and add, there’s just… things that I’ll likely never get back. I’ll always have questions and no answers. Maybe.”

Gavin smiled. “And if that isn’t the most relatable thing.”


Present

And that brought them here to Elijah’s stupid idea on time travel. And Hank being forced to play into Elijah’s farce.

“It worked,” Elijah said.

“You don’t know that,” Gavin replied.

“You’re alive, aren’t you?” Elijah said.

“What are you talking about?” Connor demanded.

“I present,” Elijah gestured to Gavin, “Cole Anderson!”

Hank was glaring daggers. “What the—is this about that stupid horseshit Gavin brought up years ago? Some secret baby Jen and I had before we even met each other?”

“It’s not and it’s all nonsense, Hank,” Gavin said. “Just forget it.” He pushed himself up.

“You could have died, Gavin,” Elijah said.

“Then maybe you should have let me!” Gavin yelled back.

The room was silent.

Gavin swallowed. “I need some air.”

Nines followed him outside.

Hank glared at Elijah. “This was sick.”

“…Detective Reed’s hands started disappearing,” Connor said.

The others all turned to him. Connor stared back at them. “I recorded it. When Gavin stumbled, I could see it. It was when the machine seemed to be at peak working order. Then Mr. Kamski realigned it and changed the target date.” He interfaced with one of the room’s screens, and a recording of what Connor had watched appeared. Sure enough, Gavin’s hands seem to half-disappear.

Elijah swallowed. “Janice, my colleague, a physicist, and I… We knew there was probably risk with messing with the timeline too much. We realized that probably I grabbed Gavin, but then put him back there for a reason. So when I actually did it, I couldn’t bring him here. I’d have to bring him there. Or else… something bad probably would have happened. Gavin might have died.”

Hank snorted. “This is… It’s…”

Elijah frowned at him. “You never questioned why Gavin looked so familiar when you first met?”

“I spoke at his school once!”

“And you remember him as a teenager? Spoke to him personally, dd you?”

“I… well…”

Elijah pulled up a photo on the screen of a kid playing in a yard.

“The fuck you got a picture of Cole for?” Hank demanded.

“…That’s Gavin.”

Hank frowned and looked back up at the screen. Elijah hit play and the video started. ‘Gavin’ kicked a ball off-screen.

“Gavin!” a woman’s voice called. “Elijah! Food’s ready!”

“Coming, Mom!” Gavin said, running by the videographer. The screen turned black.

Another photo popped up, of Gavin eating a sandwich.

“This… you photoshopped it or—”

“OR kids just look the same. Exactly the same.” Elijah pulled up two photos side by side, seemingly of the same child. One was reading on a park bench. Another was holding a kitten and laughing. “Which of these is Cole?” Elijah demanded.

“…The bench. We used to go to parks all the—”

“That’s Gavin.”

Hank’s eyes widened as he looked back at the photos.

“I have more.”


Gavin sat on the deck, glaring out at the lights from the city. It seemed ages since he’d ended up here. He could barely remember the vague time before memories he’d dredged up over the years. How much would a traumatized six-year-old recall?

“Hey,” Hank said, walking out of the house, coming to sit nearby. Nines stayed by the door. “What a night, huh?”

“Look, you can save the lecture, Hank, I get it, this was insulting on multiple levels, sorry.”

“Chill for a bit, okay?” Hank sighed. “It’s… look, I don’t know what to believe, okay? I’ve seen those DNA records. The completed one with me and Jen and… Which I am very disturbed about.”

“Elijah probably broke a ton of laws.”

“Too fucking creative for his own good.”

“Yeah.”

“Look, Gavin… Maybe… Maybe what Elijah is saying is somehow true. Maybe it’s not. Maybe Cole…. Maybe he’s really just dead. And maybe…” He swallowed and put an arm on Gavin’s shoulder. “Maybe… But you’re a decent man, Gavin. You weren’t always. Bit of an arrogant prick, and you were an ass to Connor. But I’ve seen you work on yourself. Become a better person. Even before Nines showed up. And he thinks the world of you.”

“You’re a great cop, too. A great detective. And you’re gonna do great things. And I’d be proud to call you my son.”

Gavin sniffed and brushed his hand over his face, leaning into the touch.

They were quiet for a while before Gavin said, “You had Connor run a DNA test, didn’t you?”

“Yup.”

“Fucker.”

“Yep.”