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Not Alone

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Nines decides if he gets put on hold one more time, he's violating the Geneva Convention.

"Hello, are you still there?"

"Yes."

The PACU nurse audibly sighs in disappointment. "I spoke with our Chief of Staff, and he has given me permission to reiterate to you that a work partner does not count as family. Our policy is--"

Nines involuntarily reviews the Post Anesthesia Care Unit's visitation policy for the sixty-seventh time.

Visitation in the PACU is at the discretion of the nurse and physician caring for you and varies depending upon your procedure. Once the nurse taking care of you is happy with your vital signs and other post surgical requirements, they will contact the waiting area and will let your family member see you. Our policy at this time is legal family members only.

Which is a currently-still-legal method of barring androids.

Never mind that this policy also has significant human collateral damage: adoptees, divorcees, mixed race families …

The end result is that Nines cannot produce a marriage certificate and he obviously is not related by blood, so no one will be there to greet Gavin when he wakes up from his surgery. And that is unacceptable. The detective has enough abandonment issues already.

Connor cannot hear the internal phone call Nines is engaged in, but he has a social module and must somehow be reading the results from his body language or facial expression.

"Hank could pretend to be his dad," he offers.

The PACU nurse is still reading the visitation policy in full. She's clearly determined to make this as difficult as possible, and showing up with a random human male with pale skin and fair hair who shares nothing in common with Gavin's olive skin tone, dark hair, or facial features is not going to cut it.

Nines searches through every single scan and PDF of paperwork Detective Gavin Reed has ever submitted to the DPD. Finally, all the way back to carry-over paperwork from the police academy he attended, Nines discovers a phone number he's never seen before listed as Gavin's emergency contact.

And it says brother.

Nines uses the phone at Gavin's desk to call this number without mentally disconnecting from the PACU nurse. Normally, he would be more than capable of processing infinite phone calls, but he does not have a social module and his stress levels are climbing into the high eightieth percentile.

"Gav, you better be dying because otherwise--"

"Is that Elijah Kamski?" Connor blurts out in the middle of the precinct.

"--just fucking text me, bro."

"Well shit," Hank says. "Talk about 'can I speak to a manager'. You think he'd be willing to fix--"

Nines holds up a hand. He does not have a social module and cannot possibly process three conversations at once.

"You are listed as Detective Reed's emergency contact," he says into the phone.

"Is he hurt or dead?" Kamski immediately asks.

Nines cannot reply for nearly a full second. He spent three seconds thinking his partner was dead. It was not enough for Detective Gavin Alexander Reed to merely get shot, no. He also had to fall off the roof of a building, and the impact from the landing was enough to briefly stop his heart, which registered to Nines's scanners that--

"Hurt. Surgery." That is all he can say at first. "Successful. He is out of intensive care and has been transferred to the PACU."

In the background, Nines can still hear the others in the bullpen gossiping. He did not mean to make Gavin's familial relationship public. He assumed the phone number for one "Eli Reed" would simply be a regular, non-famous human of no particular importance except to get someone into the hospital to reassure Gavin he is not alone.

"What does he need now?" Kamski asks. "Will he be released soon and need a ride or in-home monitoring?"

Those are [logical] questions. Nines supposes he should not have expected anything less from the man who is technically his creator. Even if he only wrote the code and was not personally involved in the android's construction or testing phase.

"I have already made those arrangements during his surgery," Nines reports. "His apartment is prepped for his return, and my lieutenant has put together a … care package."

"Is that the old guy, husky, beard? With that Connor I liked?"

Across the bullpen, Connor's advanced hearing picks that up, and he visibly preens. Nines practices making a facial expression by sneering and rolling his eyes at him.

"Yes."

"OK, cool," Kamski says. "So, do you need me to cover the cost of surgery or is he asking for me …?"

"I have been unable to contact Detective Reed," Nines admits. "The hospital's visitation policy specifies 'legal' family members only as a method of anti-android discrimination. You are the only family member I have been able to locate."

If you do not visit him, he will be alone.

Nines cannot say this dialogue option. He cannot--refuses to--preconstruct how [bad] it will be if Gavin wakes up alone. His human has a deep, psychological fear of being abandoned, and even if Nines is able to see him immediately upon release and explain the situation, the emotional damage will have already been done.

"Yeah, our parents are dicks, and he doesn't want any famous media bullshit, so we keep the half-brothers thing on the downlow," Kamski says. "Do you need me to be your way in?"

"Yes," Nines says, almost before he finishes offering.

"I'm just kind of assuming here that you're his partner, and he'll want to see you, right?"

"As I am assuming that he accepts you as his brother, and he will want to see you."

Kamski snorts. "I told them stripping out your social module wouldn't stop the deviant problem--or make you any less sassy. That's an inherent RK feature."

"Should I meet you at the hospital," Nines asks.

As much as he may be [curious] about his creator in another situation, this is not another situation. And the situation at hand requires getting to his partner's location immediately.

"Yeah, just send me the address and let me do the talking. See you there."

As soon as he hangs up, Nines is bombarded with [questions] from Connor, Miller, and Collins. Thankfully, Hank stands up and makes a pushing-hands motion to signal to them to be quiet.

"I know we're all real fucking shooketh about this," he says, like the millennial dinosaur he is. "But we can save all the questions and gossip for after Reed gets out of the hospital, all right?"

The humans both grumble, but they let it go. Even Connor stops and sits back down at his own desk.

Hank turns back to Nines. "I'll text Tina and let her know what's up. You just go get your man, kid."

Connor visibly restrains himself from commenting on what an apt descriptor "man-kid" is for Gavin. At least, that's what Nines assumes, considering it is the commentary he himself would normally make.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," he says instead.

He turns and leaves before the "goodbyes" can take any longer. Either whatever Kamski plans will work or … Well. He is the most advanced military android model ever created.

Nothing will keep him from his partner.

***

By the time Nines arrives at the hospital, Kamski is already utilizing his social module. And billions of dollars. The Chief of Staff [Thomas Carrado, unmarried, no arrest record] would wouldn't deign to speak to Nines over the phone is now vigorously shaking Kamski's hand while thanking him for his "generous donation."

"--also, I'm sure you'll want to see your brother too."

"Yes, and--" Kamski turns and [smiles] at Nines. "Ah, my assistant is here. What room should we go to?"

Carrado's own smile freezes on his face when he sees Nines. Even without the LED, there couldn't be any mistaking the android for what he is.

Kamski keeps smiling as well, the sort Connor does when he's about to verbally destroy someone.

"Right this way, Mr. Kamski," Carrado says.

The Chief of Staff turns on his heel without any acknowledgement that Nines follows them. In turn, Nines also does not acknowledge the glances Kamski keeps making at him. His vision is just as accurate in his "peripherals" as it is directly in front of him, so he has no need to turn his head or rotate his optical units to observe the human in turn.

Gavin's [brother].

"--in the nation, but with your esteemed patronage, I'm sure we can rise to first. And of course Mr. Reed will--"

"Detective," Nines corrects.

"--receive the best--"

"Detective."

"--care possible here--"

"Detective."

"--while--"

"Detective."

Carrado stops and whirls around. "Is your … assistant … experiencing a malfunction, Mr. Kamski?"

"No," Nines answers for himself. "You will refer to Detective Reed by his title."

"Oh, is he still pissy about that?" Kamski asks before Carrado can respond. "I swear, every single family dinner for a fucking decade, we had to call him Officer, Detective--he'll be insufferable when he finally makes Captain."

Bold of him to assume Gavin isn't insufferable now.

But Nines does not know the state of Gavin's relationship with his brother, and if the lack of contact is due to mistreatment. He will not risk "making fun of" his partner to a toxic family member.

"Will you be staying long?" Carrado asks Kamski.

"Nines, what does my schedule look like today?"

Nines may not have a social module, but Gavin has forced him to sit through watching enough daytime television to be able to parrot simple lines commonly said by ST300s.

"I have rescheduled your meetings and cleared the remainder of your afternoon and evening, Mr. Kamski."

As Gavin would say, [Like hell] he's going to call the billionaire "sir."

"Excellent." Kamski reaches out to shake hands again, and Carrado is forced to reciprocate. "Thank you so much for your assistance, Dr. Carrado. Now, I promise not to take up any more of your valuable time."

"Well, I'm not--"

Kamski gestures down the hallway, still smiling mildly as if he isn't "politely" telling the good Chief of Staff to [fuck off]. He maintains eye contact with the other human until Carrado slinks away.

It seems Gavin and Kamksi share more than just genetics and a similar facial structure then. Although Gavin would have squeezed the other man's hand hard enough to induce pain, and likely told him literally to fuck off as well.

"Well." Kamski claps his hands together once Carrado is gone. "Let's go see my baby brother!"

***

Gavin is dying. He's alone and he's dying. He's dying and he's alooone.

"Detective."

Person? People??

Hands touch him and it's the best thing ever. There's a person here, he has a person, he's not alone. He's not going to die alone because everyone hates him and it's all his fault for being a huge asshole in the first place.

"Please lie down, Detective."

Gavin stops struggling to sit up when he realizes the person is his person. His favorite person. He collapses back down in the bed, which hurts a lot more than it should. Probably because he fell off a fucking building and messed up the whole left side of his body and--oh yeah, also got shot too. That sucks.

It doesn't stop him from whining and making grabby hands--hand? his left arm and leg are both in casts, boo--until Nines bends over at the waist, and Gavin can drag his face close enough for kisses.

"Wooow." His brother says. "This is blackmail material forever, I hope you know that, Gav."

Wait, his brother? Eli??

"I will remove you from the premises," Nines tells him.

Eli scoffs. "My donation got you in here. Nines."

"And there is nothing on this earth that can remove me."

God, his partner is so hot and mean and cool. And he has a mouth! Gavin has a mouth too. They should … look into that. You know. Investigate.

"Hmm, and here I thought you didn't like my 'stupid toys,' bro."

Gavin stops trying to wrestle his mouth against his partner's mouth and looks at his brother, who is also in the same room as his partner, at the same time.

"Oh, shit," he says.

"Uh huh, uh huh." Eli nods and waves his hand in a sideways-circle. "Keep going. Either with an apology, or you can keep it up about how only a loser needs to build an android to have a girlfriend."

"This is different," Gavin says, very seriously while still leaning to the side to keep as much contact between his back and Nines's chest as possible.

Eli scoffs and gestures at the two of them.

"I don't keep him in my basement," Gavin argues.

"I didn't lock Chloe in mine either," Eli snaps back. "She's free to go where she pleases."

"Her and all her clones?"

"Oh, please. If I never invented her, you wouldn't have--"

"--lab is in your basement though, and that's--"

"Gavin," Nines says, voice right next to his ear. "Is your lack of contact with your brother due to this level of typical sibling fighting--"

"We're not fighting," Gavin says. "We're just talking and he's losing."

"You're the one dumb enough to get shot," Eli adds.

Nines straightens up. "Do not mock Detective Reed for being injured in the line of--"

"Whoa, whoa, hey." Gavin pats behind himself with his good hand as much as he's able. "Easy, babe. No combat protocols, OK? He's my brother."

"Hmm," Nines says.

"So he's like, super fucking annoying and all, but no one beats his face in except me." Gavin doesn't even pause before he turns back to Eli, who's already opening his mouth to bring up-- "And you only got lucky with the water hose that one time, I can still kick your ass in any other fight."

Eli scowls, but he looks away instead of bringing it up. He still feels guilty about it. Goddamn genius, and he "didn't know" smacking Gavin in the face with the metal end of a water hose would bust his nose open like that.

Dipshit.

"You said you received your facial scar in a bar fight," Nines says.

Eli blinks, looks back over, then bursts out laughing.

"Shut up," Gavin groans. "You weren't supposed to meet like this, it's not fair!"

"How exactly did you plan on us meeting, Detective?" Nines asks.

Gavin keeps his right hand covering as much of his face as it can and doesn't answer. He hadn't really thought about it beyond how much Elijah was going to fucking gloat when he found out. And as much as he loves his partner, Nines is android-brothers with Connor, and they do android-mind-linking, and Connor is a horrible gossip, and Gavin does not need the entire precinct and/or world to know his brother is possibly the most famous man alive, thanks.

They have a whole arrangement about it. Maybe if he wasn't still feeling the effects of so much morphine, he'd be able to articulate that, and how he wants to be absolutely certain his career really advances on his own merit, and maybe even some other stuff about Eli getting way more attention than him and growing up in the shadow of his cooler, smarter, more popular half-brother …

Ugh.

"Ughhh," Gavin groans again.

"And when were you planning on finally texting me, huh?" Eli asks.

Gavin looks up so he can scoff. "You fucking text me, asshole."

Eli inspects his probably-already-perfect nails. "I've been busy."

"So have I!"

"Getting shot?"

Nines interrupts. "That reminds me." He leans down to growl close in Gavin's ear, "You will never do this again."

Gavin swallows back a moan. "Babe, please don't make me horny while my brother is in the room."

Nines rolls his eyes. "There is no other recourse for me to leave then."

He knows his partner is joking. He knows that. But between the morphine and the exhaustion and now the pain in his side slowly seeping back into his body--Gavin grabs onto Nines and clings to him.

Nines immediately bends back down and wraps his arms around him as best he's able. "Shhh. I will not. I am here, and I have you secure. Shhh."

He makes the shushing noises more like a stern librarian than a comforting boyfriend, but it's ironically comforting after all because Gavin knows no one else would literally say "shhh" like it's a word. So this must be his Nines, his boyfriend, his partner.

"Wow, this is really touching."

Gavin lets go just to flip Eli off.

"Can I get in on this snuggle fest? I haven't seen you in what, a fucking year now, and you get your dumbass shot."

Gavin grumbles about it, but he holds out his good arm for Elijah. The dumb asshole comes over and gives him a one-armed hug, careful not to wrap around too far and touch his side. Or his broken left arm. Broken left leg. Goddamn, he really did it this time, huh?

Once they've hugged it out, he pulls back and says, "Since I built your Nines, when he uses his combat protocols to kick your ass for this, that's basically like me kicking your ass."

"No way," Gavin immediately replies. "You haven't been able to kick my ass since we were ten, and don't--god. Don't phcking, say it like he's you about my ass. That's weird, bro."

Eli grins at him. "Oh, so you two are already doing butt stuff, huh? That's pretty serious, like third base."

"Anal is only second," Gavin tells him.

On his other side, Nines blinks red. "Then what … do you consider first?"

"Uh, a blowjob, duh."

"Wait, what's a handjob?" Eli asks.

"Nothing, between friends."

Nines blinks. "Then thank god Tina is not here."

Gavin looks back down at the bed. "I guess she's busy, huh?"

"No," Nines says as if that's reassuring. But he continues, "She is not allowed to see you. The hospital's visitation policy allows for 'legal' family visitors only."

Gavin looks back up at him. "Then how'd you get in?"

Nines scowls. It's one of the few facial expressions he's mastered. "I searched through every form you have ever submitted to the Detroit Police Department, found an emergency contact number listed for your brother from nearly fifteen years ago, called it, spoke to Elijah Kamski, and then pretended to be his assistant."

"But hey," Eli says. "After the amount of money I just donated, I could wheel in a giant birthday cake filled with Traci strippers, so I'm sure I can get Tina in whenever you're ready."

Gavin smiles weakly, but now he's thinking …

"Is that why you weren't there when I woke up?" he asks Nines quietly.

"It is the only reason," Nines assures him. "My next option after calling your emergency contact was to simply walk inside and see what they thought they could do to remove me."

He looks absolutely serious about it too. Gavin's smile breaks out into a grin, just imagining some poor fucking GS200 security guard nervously asking the most advanced military model ever made to p-p-please leave … sir? Wh-whenever you're ready though, no rush!

He gets the giggles, but then that really makes his side hurt. Nines helps him lie back down before he even realizes he's too tired to sit up anymore. He also gets petted through his hair and that's nice, that's sooo nice.

"I'm … love you," he mumbles.

"I know." Nines smooths his hair back one last time and kisses his forehead. "Rest now. You can talk to your brother more when you wake up. We'll both be here."

Gavin still clutches at him though. "And Tina?"

"Yes," Nines says. "And Tina. Hank too, although he will likely bring Connor."

"Ugh, Connor."

"Yes."

A yawn catches him before he can complain any more about that, and having a nap does sound really good right now.

"Eli, tell me what you're working on," he says, blinking repeatedly to try to keep his eyes open. "S'boring."

Elijah takes a seat next to the bed. "You mispronounced boyfriend, but OK."

"He's boring too," Gavin says, but like, in a loving way. "He filed my ta-a-haaaxes."

After that last yawn, he loses the blinking battle. Eli starts explaining something about a new form of titanium, and Nines keeps one hand resting solidly on the center of his chest, so Gavin knows he's there.

They're both right here.