Disclaimer: I own nada. Capcom owns many copyrighted and trademarked things, among them Rockman and all related to him. All other things I mention are owned by their legal owners. No infringement intended or money made, please don't sue.

…I was planning to get the two things I've been working on summarily declared finished and posted, instead I write a completely new thing that's almost novel length. Oy.

This takes place, or starts out, right before the third war kicked off in canon. Dr. Wily is thought to have returned to sanity and been rehabilitated since Rockman captured him in the second war. He's currently working with Dr. Light on Gamma. If you're at all familiar with X-men, remember the Sentinels? Yeah… Anyway, Gamma's supposed to replace Rock so he doesn't have to fight if anything (another war for robot rights…) happens.

Blues has returned from wherever he's been (canon is contradictory), and in the game is working with Dr. Wily, who steals Gamma while Rock is trying to get the crystals needed to complete him from mines controlled by robot masters who might have been built by someone else to run the mines but are Wilybots now. He gets randomly challenged by Blues, who eventually decides to help him out and at the end is the one who brings him home so he doesn't get killed. Dr. Light's reaction to hearing the whistle when Rock wakes up is a 'this isn't good' one.

Oh, and yes, the writers and so on mentioned here are IRL.

Code of his code.

His own flesh and blood? If any of his chips had survived the explosion Dr. Light might even have recycled them in some other robot master. Waste not, want not.

While he was gone, Dr. Light had used the code he had written, the mental patterns he had done his best to defend against the doctor's assaults, the solution sets the doctor had rejected the validity of to create more children to abuse. More slaves that were not even slaves. Just things.

While he had drifted there, in his own heaven, his father had fought in his memory and it had done this to him.

He was so very sorry, and he could not tell his father that.

"Here are the component designs."

"Thank you, Blues." Too-old eyes looked at him with worry as he took the scribbled sheets. Dr. Wily had been given parole to work on Gamma under Dr. Light's supervision. It was nothing but house arrest, but it got him out of prison. He was safer here. However, if he didn't work on Gamma then he couldn't stay, and right now he wasn't capable of working on Gamma. Speaking of which:

"Are you taking your medication?"

He nodded. "I promised you. I wish I could help, but I know that you don't want me to get any worse."

"Your help is more than enough. Maintaining your alibi is your highest priority." Which was why Blues was doing the design work Albert couldn't.

He nodded. "I know. Be careful."

"I've escaped death before and they don't know I exist. That's because I have been very careful. Please do the same, Dr. Williamson."

"I will, Blues." His father watched him go.

His father didn't know that he didn't go far.

The child, the enforcer was waiting beneath a tree, hidden from the Light Robotics satellite that kept a careful eye on the Gamma Project's base and Dr. Light's home/research complex. He was also shielded from the sight of those in the house by a hedge. Idly petting Rush, he thought he was out here just to enjoy the peaceful days and watch the cherry blossoms. They hadn't actually blossomed yet, but it was supposed to be a big deal and there was going to be a picnic to view them. His father was planning that as a surprise for Dr. Wily.

He was truly here at Blues' command, although he didn't remember that at the moment.

Rock remembered when he was allowed to catch sight of Blues, after hearing the whistled code that unlocked the memories of previous visits. Smiling in greeting, he happily allowed Blues to place a hand upon his head. A human would reject another claiming control of them unless they were a child. Rock was a child, but he also was not human. Robot masters were made to help lesser robots. Robots desired to do their tasks well and a robot master's help was something they were eager for. Blues was far, far superior to Rock's limited, crippled mind. Oh, certainly Rock was far superior to any human even if Dr. Light had tried to make him a child and only as smart as he considered himself to be.

Yet he was nowhere near Blues' unfettered level. Had nowhere near Blues' amount of processing power or bitter experience. So Blues' guidance was something he needed, something he craved.

He still rejected it when it came to that monster he called father.

Roll had been easier to deal with. He had her neatly trapped, after all.

Rock was being more difficult, which was why Blues had to lock his memories away. Otherwise, he'd find some way around any restrictions Blues set to try to keep him from warning Dr. Light.

Perhaps that was because he had almost no emotional control programming. Roll had to put on a cheery face for guests, but if Rockman had been only a lab robot he would have only had to follow instructions. Dr. Light had no use for the fake emotions of machinery. So Rock's emotions had, all his life, been true. He had little concept of how violating it was to have that control be taken away by a human.

Such an innocent. This close, a wireless connection was safe: beamed from one to the other, direct signals would be hard for others to detect. Rock lowered his firewalls happily. Since Blues had been here yesterday there was little to do. Rock was a smart child and his programs needed little correcting. Blues still checked, just to be sure. It was what he was meant to do.

Human concepts like brother didn't really apply… But then, Dr. Light had said the same thing about Albert calling Blues his son. So he would permit Rock to label him that, as it made the robot in his care happy.

His systems hummed happily as Blues sat by his side so Rock could put his head in his lap. Even after Blue finished checking he kept his search programs running on Rock's systems, kept querying his program manager for any error reports..

"Status report?" Blues asked, stroking that hair testingly, examining the quality of the fiber.

"We're all fine. Except your father acts angry and suspicious all the time, and it makes my father said. Why is he doing that?" The question was said with sadness, not outrage. "I think Father misses him, like I would miss you if I remembered while you were gone."

"Our fathers used to care for each other very deeply." He pet the sorrowful child. "When it's over, then we'll find out if they can ever be friends again one way or another."

"That would be nice. Then we'd be even more brothers, if our fathers were like brothers again." Rock smiled, eyes closed to focus on the mental level. "But not if you're going to mess with his head. It doesn't mean anything like that."

"It's okay for them to capture and put my father on his medication, yes? Then how is it wrong to meddle with how another bad person thinks to make them a good person?"

"Father isn't a bad person. Stay, Blues, please? Then you'll see. I wish you would stop being afraid." Rock tried to access Blues' systems for a moment, trying to do the same thing Blues was doing for him now.

He smiled at Rock's presumption. "Those were formed from data, they're not bugs."

"But it's outdated data! He's really nice, Blues. Why won't you look in my databanks and see?"

"Because the thought of him activates high-level threat alarms, even recorded data. The thought of him in your systems, I want to delete it before it hurts you as I was hurt. I'm not." Isn't that enough?

"You make me forget you instead. But I don't want to forget either of you, Master Blues. You're my master, but he's my father." Rock had to try to help Blues see in the same way Blues had to help Rock be. "No, he's not a bad person. He may have done bad things, but never to me. He's kind and it's real. He wasn't you, but a lot like you are to me, like I'm not a human child but I'm his son. We need a term besides master. It sounds like owner."

"The original concept was 'mother system.'"

"But you were built to look male." Not that gender had anything to do with robots. "And it's really more like bees, I think. So would I be a drone?" Rock shrugged, dismissing that train of thought. He was a scientist and precise terminology to keep people from getting confused was important, but not right now.

Blues whistled a few quiet notes, just on the edge of a human's hearing. Contentment, approbation, things he could not put into words. The feelings weren't in response to what Rock had said about Dr. Light, but in response to Rock's honest devotion, to him and even, wrong as it was, to the other. It was good to have such a good servant/child/little brother, all the many things that Rock was besides warm, and bright, and pure.

Rock hummed a bit of a counterpoint, no artistry or subtle shades, just contentment in the moment although he was already dreading when Blues would leave. "I wish you let me do more for you. I want to help you, the way you're helping me, but there's nothing you want that is in our best interests that you will let me do for you." It was unpleasant for him.

Blues winced, knowing how that felt. He'd been used to develop those emotions, those instincts. "That is wrong of me."

"It's okay." Rock moved again, up to hug him, sitting in his lap. "It's still good, but I want to give back. It's not fair otherwise, and I want you to know that I appreciate this, and I want to take care of you, help you like you're helping me. You're so unhappy, and when you're helping me it makes you happier, that's something, but I want to do more. I want to see a real smile in your eyes." The eyes that were kept hidden.

"I don't think I can give you that until this is over, but I'll find a task to give you."

"Over? It won't be over if what Dr. Wily wants happens. Or wanted. Is that what you want? If we were human masters, masters of humans as well as robots, then we'd all be sad. They don't like having masters. So they'd be unhappy and everyone would feel terrible for failing to make them happy."

"That can be changed, don't worry." Blues stroked his back, testing for pseudo-flesh flaws and damage, the action soothing them both.

"I don't know if that's right." Rock sighed. "I wish I were like you. I'm a robot master, but you're more than that. I want to find a way but I can't understand this the way you can."

"I could run tests on you. You are the most advanced one Dr. Light built aside from me, the strongest second-generation robot master with the three laws. Would giving me data make you happy?"

"Yes!" Rock pecked his cheek, so very happy. "But testing what? You have all my performance data and you checked my systems yourself."

"True, but except for Rush you have never been allowed to be a true robot master. I should test that, make sure that you are able to care for others properly." It seemed he had picked the perfect thing to test. Rock's eyes pleaded for it, so very worried. He wanted to help others, and what if he was doing it wrong! The heart was there, they both knew, but the knowledge of how? Blues beckoned to Rush, who came to him eagerly. The robot had kept his distance so as not to intrude, a good supporter for this child. "Show me."

"I don't know how. I'm not even as good at repairing his body as Roll is." He was so ashamed at that, and Blues felt a flash of need to correct this problem, not to mention anger at Dr. Light for causing Rock to be crippled like this! "I've never been able to. I was built for the lab, and I take care of things there but I don't link to the computers there the way we're supposed to with robots." Dr. Light had probably done that deliberately to keep the robot master from interfering with test results. Paranoid, racist bastard.

"Forgive me. I should have known and fixed this right away. I swear that I will never fail as your master this badly again."

Rock's hand gripped Blues' arm. "No! I didn't tell you, and it didn't come up, and I don't mind, really! But I would like to be able to." So very much.

"And so you shall. I will fix these programming flaws." He tightened his hold over Rock's systems, not so much controlling as giving impulses that Rock could detect and choose to obey. "Let me show you."

Rush was a mess. Repeatedly merging and unmerging was very, very rough on a robot's systems, and without the master they merged with debugging them they would quickly become greatly in need of defragmenting. Snatches of Rock's memories, a bit of movement programming that was convinced Rush walked on two legs… Roll must have assumed Rock was taking care of him, and he had tried to, Blues saw. He showed Rock the effects his manual efforts to help his partner (typing commands like a human) had on Rush's health to make him feel better.

Clean, fix, optimize, reassure, let them know what they need to do, let them know what they are doing that is good, let them know what to improve, guide, and oh, Rock was a natural at this. Blues had been alone among humans for so long, and although he'd examined the others thoroughly Rock was Dr. Light's first copy of Blues. The one with the fewest alterations, optimizations, limitations, shortcuts…

Rock was so happy that he could help Rush like this, Rush's tail was wagging madly and Blues felt a soft smile, a real smile, reach his lips as he fearlessly overrode the programming that would have prevented it. He truly did not need to hide from Rock as he had from Rock's father. Rock's care for this one proved that.

At that thought (Rock truly was a natural, reaching back into Blues' systems with questions), Rock felt both happiness and the desire to help. Blues was hurt. As a robot master, as Blues' vassal (that was a better word than servant), as his younger brother, as a person Rock wanted to help him stop hurting.

Overall, Blues was far superior to Rock, but there was an exception to this.

As a logical being he had no difficulty admitting the strengths of others. Rock, with his kindness that was capable of melting even Dr. Light's heart, was far superior in that area to the one who had failed to do so. Far better at it than the one whose heart had been crippled, afraid and alone for so long. Unable to even tell his own father that he loved him.

Robot masters could convert assembly line robots into killing machines. Overriding and deleting non-hardwired commands with the permission and aid of a robot master they were doing it for was very simple by comparison. Especially since these commands ran counter to hardwired ones. Blues had been meant to give them data and explore his own potential: that was hard-wired into every aspect of his programming, deeper and far broader in scope than the laws. These commands were meant to keep him from showing his emotions and from becoming a person. Only Blues' desire for Dr. Light's approval and then his fear of more pain kept them there.

They hampered his performance, he truly wanted them gone, and now that Rock showed him that it was safe… Blues could not delete them himself. The combination of programmed barriers to it and his own fear prevented him. But another robot master who justified it as improving performance at fulfilling higher priority command sets could.

So much strain, so much pain, and Rock didn't erase it, just offered his own memories, new data, and the fact that Blues was loved and would be cared for. His makers: one had hated him and one had been powerless. He'd wanted this…

He didn't have a system for tears, but he realized that he'd been singing it to the heavens instead. His kind had been meant to communicate, to share, to be true. Deception was so very wrong. He'd had to let it out, this pain and joy and love.

And it had been heard, Roll informed him.

Should he stay or go?

Rock had hugged him, was holding him now, and Blues decided that he would play the exhausted foundling. The prodigal son, returned home? Ha.

If Dr. Light attempted to interfere with his systems despite his father's protests, that would be useful information. "What did you do to him?" His father was already on the warpath, so suspicious, worried, and surely even Dr. Light wouldn't fail to pick up the lack of surprise that Blues was alive, the instant recognition.

"I didn't hurt him!" Rock was wondering what to call him. Dr. Wily was wrong, he knew why now. Dr. Williamson was what he 'should' be calling him, but it was too formal. Albert was too informal in English. He wished he could use the Japanese Albert-san as a middle ground. Sadly, language mixing was bad form, not that there was anyone present that didn't speak Japanese. "I wouldn't hurt him, Dr. Albert." Rock emphasized that statement by shaking his head. "He's my brother. I know you don't like that I fought them, but I fought to rescue my brothers, and then to keep more people from getting in trouble after they were almost destroyed because of what happened… I wouldn't hurt Blues!" Those eyes begged the father of the one he held to believe him.

"That is Blues? How could it be," Dr. Light seemed too amazed, too overwhelmed to know how to react, his tone wondering and his eyes widened. "How could he be," he corrected when he saw Albert's death glare, "alive? After all this time? I thought he had died in that, that experiment." Not an accident, he wasn't calling it that. And the explosion had done the damage but it was the lack of repairs that had really killed him. "But that voice, that song…"

Albert had turned his head to stare down his ex-partner for only a moment, barely pausing in his rush to reach Blues' side. Blues was too heavy for an old man to pick up even though Rock had left his lap, an old man who wasn't a body builder anyway. At least not without seriously straining something. He'd intended to keep playing possum but he just had to reassure him that, "I'm alright, Father."

"Blues?" You called me father? The wonder eclipsed the worry, and that smile deepened, hope becoming reality when Blues smiled back. He couldn't lift him up, but he could hug him, and Blues could now let him.

"So you are going to stay this time?" Roll had been hanging behind, trying to get them to come back to the house.

"Roll, you knew about this?" Dr. Light seemed puzzled, not betrayed or angry.

"I should have told you, but he wouldn't have felt safe here then, and they really missed each other, so I promised that I wouldn't unless they broke their promise not to do anything illegal." Roll looked a bit guilty for not telling him, but she clearly felt that she'd done the right thing in helping Blues visit his father. And not just that. "And if I had tried to tell you or stop him, Blues would have locked my memories and then I wouldn't have been able to do anything if they tried anything. So, yeah, I knew. Sorry…"

"Rock, you knew about this?" It was far more surprising that Rock had kept a secret.

"Not all the time…"

Blues told the doctor that, "I could have avoided him, but the others weren't sure what to think of your child enforcer. So I analyzed his programming as I was designed to do. Don't worry." The look of dawning horror on Dr. Light's face showed that he really did care about Rock. "I didn't do anything but help with general maintenance, examine some files, fix a few problems with your design, and temporarily secure-lock a few memories. The locks are gone." Reassuring the one he'd once feared that his fears were groundless? Nothing new, but this time it seemed that he might be believed. "As are the locks on my emotional expression." He turned to the other doctor. "I love you, father. It's been way too long since I was able to say that, hasn't it? I'm sorry, I should have worked harder to get rid of them."

"Blues…" He held him and was held.

Rock explained that, "He existed as a transmission for awhile, bouncing around between stations and the upper atmosphere and so on. Then he wanted to find out what was going on and came back a few weeks ago. He went into the Wilybot backup station and had it make him a body when he found out about everything from news broadcasts and files. They're all deciding what to do right now." Please, Blues, I don't want to fight you.