Recent years have been an absolute boom in technological advancement. Artificial technology had been developed into sentient beings. They were only for the richest of the rich, but even now they were mainstream products. Artificial companions were being auctioned off regularly. It was impressive and so interesting but you didn't really have any need for an artificial companion.
You had your close circle of friends, though some of them had robotic companions, you were content with what you had. Despite they were common they were obviously a luxury item. You didn't need one, you were fine. Your friend who had one, a 2B model they said, she was so flat speaking and...stern. She didn't seem like a very good companion. You didn't judge her though.
"Still it would be nice to have someone to talk to when they aren't around..." You sighed and flopped sideways on your sofa. Everyone else had left on the school trip. It was almost a vacation really. You were stuck home. Hurrah. Again, you sighed. All your friends were gone too and while your dad was an awesome guy...spending the whole week with nothing to do was going to be boring.
It was that moment your dad decided to walk into your room.
"(Name), I know you've been feeling low, so I thought we could do something together!" He looked so proud when he handed you a flier. You sat up and took the paper. You were a bit surprised to see just what he was planning. An android auction. You looked up at him curiously. "Dad, are you sure? We don't really need this, do we?"
"No, we don't. But we can get it, so why not? You've been lonely, right? So let's do it!" You couldn't say no. He looked so happy and proud. You nodded. He seemed more excited about the idea than you did.
Android companions obviously weren't around when he was young.
"Let's go, papa. We don't have anything else to do!"
Your dad bounced slightly, before calming himself. You had to laugh at him, he was way too giddy. "I'll get everything set up!"
The sun had set and when you arrived at the auction. The building was lit up with colored lights; on every wall there was posters of androids were being advertised. It was dizzying. Your dad came up behind you to give you a pat on the shoulder. "Let's go inside, too many weird people are out here."
Inside wasn't much better, the whole auction room was packed full of people. You took your seat and waited. The lights dimmed down and the first model walked out on the stage. She had long silver hair, skin tight clothes and you had no interest. Most of the models that came out were like that. There was a few beautiful men too, but they all seemed so...bland.
You closed your eyes. This was a bust. You may as well make the most of it, they had nothing to offer but the same repackaged boring androids. You took a deep breath, slowly evening as you fell asleep.
Your nap was abruptly interrupted by your father shoving your shoulder. You turned to glare at him, but he pointed silently to the stage. It was almost the end of the auction when he came out. He appeared young, the same silver hair and dark clothes as all the others, but he had a blindfold on. That made your very curious. Just what were they hiding under there?
"Our fifteenth model of tonight's auction is a unique one indeed! He's a marvel of human ingenuity! His delicate feature's will give you comfort! His voice will soothe you no matter what your struggles are! This is YoRHa's bright new unit, 9S!"
The android seemed to be scanning the room, even though his eyes were covered. He didn't look comfortable being watched. That was new.
"9S, introduce yourself to your future owner."
"..." He didn't answer. He just kept looking around the room. The auctioneer gave the unit a mild slap on the shoulder, which was enough to make you sit up straight in annoyance. "I am YoRHa's unit, Nines."
Another smack to the android.
"I am YoRHa unit number 9 type S."
People around you began to whisper. A defective android. Why would they try to sell that. Well I'm not buying it. You could see the android get more and more anxious as the whispering spread throughout the room. It seemed no one wanted the seemingly broken android. The auctioneer was about to have the model taken off the stage when you stood up, at last raising the bid paddle that had been sitting dormant the whole evening.
"Ah! We have our first bid! Anyone else want to bid for this wonderful new android?" Not a single other paddle raised.
"Sold to the young miss for the base auction price! Now we move on to the next product--"
Even as the unit was being ushered off stage to be packaged up and prepared for delivery to your house, his head never moved from staring up at you. Not until he was well out of sight. Again you had to wonder just why they had his eyes covered like that.
It took a few days for the package to arrive. You had gotten contacted by YoRHa. They said they would be glad to send you a different type S model but you were adamant. It didn't matter if it was faulty or not, you want the exact model that you had auctioned for. They agreed. They probably just wanted to get rid of the broken product without having to go through the trouble of taking it apart.
When the delivery box arrived on your doorstep, you were suddenly so nervous. Inside that box was 9S. He probably thought you were strange. When you signed for the package your hands were shaking. Why was this suddenly so scary?!
"Hello! Um...can you hear me?" You knocked on the box, but there was no response. Carefully you pulled open the flaps and laughed at yourself. He was deactivated, obviously. You took the chance to inspect him.
He looked almost human...but just too perfect. His skin looked like porcelain. Like if you touched it wrong you would bruise him. It was impossible of course, he was a robot without blood or any organs. Despite that you still touched his face so carefully. 9S looked as though he was sleeping. Your fingertips traced the underside of the blindfold. You could take it off, remove it and he's never know you did it when you activated him.
But something stopped you. It just seemed wrong. Like you would be breaking his trust before you even had the chance to gain it. So instead you reached to the back of his neck, pressing down on the panel at the base of it and listening to how his body began to whir to life.
You hadn't realized just how quickly he would come to though. He popped up from the box and scaring you into jumping away from him. "Ah! Don't do that!"
"Ah, I, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to!" He flustered and tried to climb out of his box, only to slip on his own user manual and fall back in it.
You laughed at his positively flabbergasted expression and pout. He was so genuinely offended by falling on his own butt!
Under the black fabric his eyes softened. He could feel it in his processors and core. Your laugh, his owner's laugh, was making everything in the world feel whole. So this is why the other androids wanted to be owned so badly.
This time when he stood up, it was with a grace that couldn't be considered human. He bowed at the waist to you, hand pressed to his chest and his smile adoring.
"I'm glad that I get to be your companion, your servant or whatever you need me to be. Thank you for choosing me."
9S stayed like that. He was whatever you needed him to be. If you needed someone to talk to, he was there. If you needed someone to help you out, he was there. It made your dad happy to see you opening up to someone. You could tell him you didn't even tell your closest friends. Even when they came back from the trip he was one you turned to when you needed someone.
So that's how you noticed it.
For all the comfort and kindness he gave you there was this undeniable distanced between you. It was unavoidable. As far as he was concerned, you were two different levels. You were his owner and he was your property.
He wasn't human.
"9S, if you could be anything in the world, what would you be?" The question confused him. "I wouldn't be anything if you hadn't purchased me."
You shook your head. "That isn't what I asked. I said if you could be anything in the world, what would it be."
He was quiet for a while. You almost felt like you had to ask the question again when he answered so quietly,
"I would like to be human."
Why indeed, he wasn't even sure himself. He never thought about it, was never allowed to think about it. Just what was it you were after?
"Humans get to...choose. You can be whatever you want to be without really having anything to stop you."
You nodded slowly, thinking about his answer. From where he was standing, you probably had all the liberties in the world. You could grow and change while an android was just a piece of machinery to be owned and only existed to make the life a human more fulfilling. And they were meant to be satisfied with that.
That was sad to think about.
"At the auction you called yourself Nines. Is that the reason you did that? Because you want to be more like humans?" He looked uncomfortable. Just like he did on that night but he tentatively nodded. He wanted an identity of his own. He didn't want to just be a serial number or just another model of his kind from the assembly line. You had told him you chose him because he had a personality. Because he had life. Maybe you'd let him get away with having silly dreams. He hoped you would.
"Alright," You gave a firm nod, "From now on I'll call you Nines. Is that okay with you?"
You just saw a flash of black before he launched himself into your arms and hugged you. Maybe you were wrong but just for a moment you thought you saw the little glitter of tears sliding from under his mask.
Since when could androids cry?
After you started calling him Nines his attitude began to change. Rather, how he treated you began to change. He had always kept a respectful distance from you, always just a bit behind when you were walking with him to make it clear you were the owner and he was just a thing you owned.
Now he stood by your side, like equals. This turned people's heads as they wondered just what had gone wrong with that robot. He loved it when you walked close enough together for your hands to bump against each other. He found himself wanting to take your hand in his own. Feel your real, living heat against his simulated temperature. He wanted to know how your hand would feel when he threaded your fingers together.
These were not the wants of an android servant and his master. He wanted you the way a human man would want you. Not a machine with a human appearance.
It was confusing, it was frightening but he couldn't find it in him to care. He cared about you. Genuinely. He didn't care about you the way the other's cared about their masters or just the deep seated love they all felt for humans. It was you. As an individual person who he found his processors stuttering for.
You weren't any better. You began to notice things in him that you hadn't paid any mind to before. The way his silver hand blew into his face, the way he would kick his boots when he was bored. Your were paying attention to all the little things he did because they felt so utterly priceless to you. It was then that you made up your mind.
"Hey Nines, we're not doing anything this weekend, right?" He turned to look at you from his spot in the kitchen. He gave an unsure shake of his head.
"No, you haven't made any plans. None that you told me to record anyway. Did you have something in mind?"
"Mmhm, I sure do." You rolled over to lay on your stomach. You watched him come into the living room with your lunch in one hand and a drink in the other. For being blindfolded his face did give away a lot of his emotions. He was confused, and that brought a sweet smile to your face. "I was thinking we could go to the park..."
"Should I call one of your school friends? I'm sure they would love to spend some extra time with you."
He wasn't getting it. Of course he wasn't. "No Nines, I was thinking it could be just the two of us. On a date."
You could feel his eyes getting wide under his blindfold and saw how his mouth popped open. You blushed up to your ears and hid your face in your arms. "If not, I get it! Just don't look so shocked!"
"No, no! I, I'd like that a lot!" He could see it, he watched as your thermal readings rose. You were blushing. He made you blush and you wanted to take him on a date. You wanted him. He watched as your face began to peek out from your arms. The red on your cheeks was darker than everywhere else on your body temperature. It was cute. He wished he could see it for real, without it just being a heat scan.
Your face was probably so adorable right now.
His glove-clad hand shook as he reached out to touch your arm. You were shaking too. It was reassuring in it's own way. You were both unsure but eager to try this. Whatever it was. "I'd like to take you anywhere you want to go, (Name)."
You nodded and spent the afternoon with him, planning and discussing your first date. Perhaps it wasn't right in the eyes of almost everyone else, but you didn't care. It didn't matter, they didn't matter. You had Nines and when he walked with you to the park it was like a dream.
He held your hand the entire walk, even when you arrived. He took off his gloves and held your hand so tenderly at first. He was a robot, made of metal and he felt like he could hurt you. But you told him to hold it tighter. You didn't want him to let go and he didn't. He threaded his fingers with yours and the smile he had was so human.
"(Name), can I do something with you." You blinked at him. You both were seated on a bench watching the clouds and the sun crawl across the sky. You nodded slowly and gasped when you saw his hands reaching behind his head to tug away the black fabric. So long you had been left to wonder. And now you saw them.
His eyes were clear blue, so easily you felt like you were being hypnotized. He finally got to see your face and he was left breathless. How had he never taken the chance to look at you, so really see you before now? He wanted to kick himself. You were so, so beautiful. He saw everything that you complained about yourself and he couldn't understand it. Every little blemish he wanted to kiss.
He kept his eyes open as he leaned towards you. He knew humans closed their eyes during intimate moments like this but he couldn't. To look away from you now would be a crime.
You understood, you always did. You swallowed back the embarrassment and kept your eyes locked onto his. Slowly you came together and he sighed happily against your lips. They were chapped from your habit of tearing at them but they were yours. His dear (Name). To you, his soft lips were too perfect. They were soft and smooth and when his brought his hand up to cup your cheek you knew neither of you were going to let go of this moment.
You waited a lifetime for someone to make you feel alive, it didn't matter if he wasn't human.
He was yours and you were his.
"Nines, what's the most human thing you can think of right now?" You asked against his smiling mouth.
"Humans say I love you, during moments like these, right?"
You nodded and he hummed, bumping his forehead against your own ind nuzzling your noses together. I love you, until the end of time.